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LEXINGTON, KY-- Freshmen filly trotters gathered for four divisions of the Kindergarten Classic Series at The Red Mile on Thursday, September 18. The fourth preliminary of the harness racing series attracted 38 contestants for purses totaling to $40,000. Allerage Star, despite galloping at the start, recovered nearly 13 lengths to weave past rivals and get a nose in front of Saturday Mornings and Cocoacabana in 1:56.2.   Cocoacabana was the pacesetter with Sweet Thing and Fly Angel Fly sitting behind. She set fractions of :29.1 and :57.4 (:28.3). Challenged around the far turn by Sweet Thing, Cocoacabana remained in control as the backfield approached. Fanning three wide came Fly Angel Fly, with Lady Winona four wide and Saturday Mornings five wide.   After a 1:27.3 (:29.4) third-quarter, Saturday Mornings rallied down the center of the course, while Allerage Star strolled onto the scene from in-between horses. Cocoacabana battled Allerage Star and Saturday Mornings up to the finish, where Allerage Star got a nose in front, going a mile in 1:56.2 (:28.4).   Returning $3.20 to win, the daughter of Angus Hall-Starry Eyed-Muscles Yankee is owned by Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, A. Geiger and D. Stolz, trained by Jessica Okusko and Corey Callahan was aboard.   Lilu Hanover rebounded after failing as the favorite in last week's prelim with a 1:55.3 victory over 24-1 Annaliina.   Scott Zeron piloted Lilu Hanover to the front, while Aarena Hanover gunned for the pocket from post 10. Lilu Hanover set a opening quarter of :27.4. She remained uncontested through a :57.3 (:29.4) half.   Rules Of The Road was flushed first over entering the far turn, with Annaliina drafting 2 ¾ lengths off the lead. Rules Of The Road remained at Lilu Hanover's throat through a 1:27 (:28.2) third-quarter.   Kicking to a 2-length lead into the stretch, Lilu Hanover kept to her task as Annaliina gradually progressed towards the leader. Starting her bid a few yards too late, Lilu Hanover had a neck advantage at the wire over Annaliina, with Waiting Room and Lady Clarabella rounding out the top four respectively.   Owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, the daughter of Andover Hall-Lady Luck Hanover-Donerail paid $5.00 to win.   Sarcy, upon brushing to the top after the first quarter, led the field to the finish in 1:55.3.   Bright Baby Blues swept across the track to claim command around the first turn, while Josie's Joy sat the pocket and Sarcy trotted third. After a :28.2 quarter, Jimmy Takter pulled Sarcy two wide to claim command before three-eighths. She was uncontested at the half, timed in :57.1 (:28.4).   Sarcy remained unchallenged around the far turn. Bright Baby Blues, stalking from the pocket, tipped first over at three-quarters, with Josie's Joy and Armatrading tracking her move. Timed in 1:26.1 (:29), Sarcy remained in control. Despite bids from Bright Baby Blues, Josie's Joy, Armatrading and Fashion Lover in the late stages of the mile, Sarcy held command and sailed to a 1:55.3 (:29.2) victory; Fashion Lover finished second, Armatrading was third and Josie's Joy was fourth. Sarcy, sent off the second choice, is owned by Christina Takter and John and Jim Fielding and trained by Jimmy Takter. The Donato Hanover-Southwind Allaire-Valley Victory daughter paid $7.20 to win. Bee The Queen, entering off a 30-1 upset in the Kindergarten last week, was victorious at odds of 1/5 in 1:56.1. Catherine's Melody showed early speed, while Bee The Queen floated towards the front, and Bright Eyes sat behind in third. The opening quarter was timed in :29.3. Bee The Queen made her move before the half, trying to sweep around Catherine's Melody as Bright Eyes, Flirting Filly and Shafina Hanover began their bids. Bee The Queen had a head in front through a :58.3 (:29) half. Although Flirting Filly broke traveling first over, Shafina Hanover made her way to Bee The Queen's wheel through a 1:26.1 (:27.3) third-quarter. Corey Callahan pulled the plugs on Bee The Queen and she kicked 3 lengths clear of Shafina Hanover, Bright Eyes and Catherine's Melody, and eventually winning by 3 ½ lengths in 1:56.1 (:30). A daughter of Donato Hanover-Bee Line-Self Possessed, Bee The Queen is owned by Alfred Ross and is trained by George Ducharme. She returned $2.60 to win. Bee The Queen extended her lead on the Kindergarten leaderboard with 158 points, with Allerage Star second with 125 points and Lady Clarabella in third with 111 points. Live racing resumes at The Red Mile on Thursday, September 25, with the Grand Circuit meeting, commencing with the $300,000 Bluegrass for two-year-old filly trotters. Declaration time is 9:30 A.M. on Monday, September 22. By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

At this morning's annual meeting of the Little Brown Jug Society, the board elected Casie Coleman of Cambridge, Ontario and Jason Settlemoir of Cream Ridge, NJ to the Little Brown Jug Society filling a pair vacant seats. Coleman is one of the sport's top conditioners, winning two Little Brown Jug and Jugette titles. Settlemoir is the General Manager of the New Meadowlands Racetrack and serves as the Simulcast Director for the Delaware County Fair. The Jug Society also re-elected the slate of officers, Tom Wright (president), Phil Terry (vice president) and William Lowe (secretary). by Jay Wolf, for the Little Brown Jug  

The current point leader in both the filly and colt standings for the Kindergarten series will be racing over the Kentucky clay at The Red Mile on Thursday night as no fewer than seven divisions will be contested, each for a $10,000 purse. Forty fillies made for a nice even four divisions of ten and the colts line up as a nine and two tens in the Grand Circuit event. Lady Clarabella sits atop the filly roster with 100 points as a result of her two-for-two record in the series. She won her division of leg two at Tioga in 1:57.2 and rewarded her backers handsomely with a $45 mutuel payoff. She begins from post 9 in the fourth race on Thursday at a generous 6-1 morning line. Andy McCarthy is aboard for Randy Beeckman who trains the Lear Jetta filly for breeder Paul Kinnear and his partner Dreamland Farms. Another homebred filly with a promising future is Allerage Star who will open the series action as the 3-1 pick in race two. She's won three of five this season, including a Kindergarten leg at The Meadowlands, Tompkins-Geers and most recently Reynolds Grand Circuit stakes for owner/breeder Jeff Gural's Little E, LLC and partners Jason Settlemoir, Dave Stolz and Art Geiger. She'll have the services of Scott Zeron in the sulky for conditioner Howie Okusko, Jr. on Thursday. The colt divisions are later in the card and series leader French Laundry looks to continue his perfect Kindergarten record for trainer/driver Jimmy Takter in race ten. French Laundry was a winner in the Champlain stakes at Mohawk in his last, a mere five days after a series success at Tioga. The nicely bred colt has now recover over $95,000 of his $115, 000 yearling purchase price for Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. He will encounter an interesting new shooter for the series in Indiana champ Airman Batten. This Swan For All colt has won seven of eight starts including three INSS finals and $161,500 for owners Paymaq Racing, Harvey Eisman and Greg Gillis. Erv Miller is the trainer and regular pilot Lewayne Miller is in for the drive. Those with Kindergarten eligibles are reminded that next week's leg has been rescheduled for Thursday, September 18 and entries are due for that one on Monday morning. Check the condition sheet for details. The fun starts at 7:00pm in Lexington on Thursday. From the press box at the Red Mile  

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

NICHOLS, NY - When nine of North America's top harness racing drivers compete at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs later this month in the 8th Annual All-Star Drivers Championship, they'll be racing for more than just prize money and bragging rights. They'll also be raising money for the charity of their choice. All nine drivers will donate their 5% driving commission to charity. The amount will be matched by Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs plus the tracks' owner, Jeffrey Gural. Last year, more than $9,000 was donated. "This event is the premier driving tournament in the country with a first place prize of $25,000," said Jason Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing and Simulcast at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. "Anytime we can use this big stage to raise awareness and money for some great organizations, we're happy to do it." Defending champion Jimmy Marohn, Jr. will be donating his earnings to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. Two-time champion Yannick Gingras and first-time participant Matt Kakaley will also support the SRF. Tim Tetrick and Scott Zeron will be competing on behalf of New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. Corey Callahan has selected the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. Canadian representative Jody Jamieson will be donating to the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. Vernon Downs representative Chris Lems will be competing for locally based Sunshine Horses and David Miller has chosen to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Round 1 of the All-Star Drivers Championship takes place on August 29 at Vernon Downs and the final round moves to Tioga Downs on September 1. Both days will also feature a Jimmy Marohn, Jr. bobblehead giveaway, commemorative t-shirt giveaway and other fan-friendly promotions and contests. by Justin Horowitz, for Tioga & Vernon Downs  

The field for the 2014 Tioga / Vernon Drivers' Championship is taking form, with 2013 champion Jim Marohn, Jr. poised to defend his title against some of the top harness racing drivers across North America.   "We are excited to unveil a new format for this annual event," said Jason Settlemoir, Regional Vice President of Racing at Tioga and Vernon Downs. "With top drivers from circuits across North America taking part, we're truly showcasing some of the best drivers in the world."   In addition to Marohn, top Meadowlands drivers Yannick Gingras, David Miller, and Tim Tetrick return to the Drivers' Championship. Jody Jamieson, the winner of this event in 2011 as well as the 2011 World Driving Championship, will represent the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit. The aforementioned quintet will be joined by newcomers Chris Lems (Vernon Downs), Scott Zeron (top driver aged 25 or younger), and Matt Kakaley (Harrah's Philadelphia/Pocono Downs). Corey Callahan, who represented the USA in the 2011 World Driving Championship en route to a second-place finish, has been named the sponsor's exemption, and will complete the field of nine.   The Championship kicks off on Friday, August 29 at Vernon Downs, sharing the spotlight with the Zweig Memorial and Crawford Farms trotting events. The second round is slated for Monday, September 1 at Tioga Downs, as part of the Cane Pace program. As in past years, the overall winner will take home a $25,000 check, and the leader after the first round will win $10,000. Second place overall earns a driver $5,000, while third place $4,000. No driver will leave with less than $1,500 in the two-day Championship.   All nine drivers will also be competing for a charity of their choice, with their 5% commission from their Championship drives going directly to charity. Tioga and Vernon Downs will match each driver's charity commission, as will Jeff Gural.   The Drivers' Championship is made possible thanks to the following sponsors:   Allerage Farms,   the Binghamton Mets,   the Binghamton Senators,   Bow River Jewelry,   Bud Light,   Cameo Hills, Ltd.,   Capital OTB,   LP Ciminelli,   Climans Green Liang Architects, Inc.,   Community Press,   Coon & Sons,   L. V. Harkness & Co.,   Ferris, Finn Tack,   Global Graphics,   The Horseman and Fair World,   HUB International,   Lexington Selected Yearling Sale,   the Little Brown Jug,   Maine Source Food & Party Warehouse,   McCullagh Coffee Roasters,   Roberts Communications Network,   the Southern Tier Harness Horseman's Association,   Tioga Downs,   Tioga State Bank,   V.I.P. Structures,    Vernon Downs,   and Winner's Choice Racing Programs.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs Racing Media

Former world champion Perfect Alliance, who was victorious in her first 11 races this year before suffering back-to-back setbacks, will try to get another win streak started when she faces five harness racing foes in Friday's $20,000 first round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Perfect Alliance finished seventh in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series on July 12 at the Meadowlands. The race was won by Bee A Magician in a world-record 1:51.1, with Perfect Alliance 4-1/4 lengths back. Afterward, Perfect Alliance was found to have bled, in addition to scoping sick, and will compete with Lasix on Friday. In her previous start on June 14, Perfect Alliance finished second to Classic Martine in the Armbro Flight Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Perfect Alliance starts Friday's Ima Lula from post six, with Corey Callahan driving for trainer Julie Miller, and is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The remainder of the field is Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, and NF Happenstance. "I was pretty surprised because she had a layoff and trained good during the week," Miller said about Perfect Alliance's performance last week. "This time of year, we do have a little bit of sickness in the barn with the young horses. She still went in (1):52 with a last quarter in :27, it's still an impressive mile, but I didn't like how she did it. "After scoping her and pulling the bloodwork, we elected to put her on Lasix and treat her for being sick. She seems really good. We took the necessary steps to get her better for this week. I'm just hoping for a nice bounce-back race. I'll let Corey decide behind the gate what he wants to do, if he wants to leave or race from behind. I just want to see her finish strong at the wire." Perfect Alliance -- owned by Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz, and Arthur Geiger -- won the Singer Memorial Series and the Bobby Weiss Series during the winter and equaled the then-fastest mile ever by a 4-year-old female trotter when she won a division of the Miss Versatility in 1:51.2 at Woodbine Racetrack. She also set a track record at Mohawk, winning in 1:51.4. "You always want more, and we're the same way," Miller said. "She started luckily in good spots [earlier in the year] where she seemed to be the prohibitive favorite all the time, to where she did prove herself in those races in Canada. "You're going to have a clunker every now and then. They're living animals; they're going to have an off day. You just need to listen to your horse and let them decide their schedule. I'm still proud to train her and I'm sure the owners are still proud to own her." The second round of the Ima Lula is July 25 and the $55,000 estimated final is Hambletonian Day, Aug. 2, at the Meadowlands. Reynolds Memorial Stakes divisions for 3-year-old trotters are on Saturday's Meadowlands card. Only four fillies entered, so that race will be a non-betting event prior to the regular 7:15 p.m. post time for the night's first race. One of those fillies is Julie Miller-trainee Take The Money, who is auditioning for the chance to race in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks. Eliminations for the Oaks are July 26 and the $500,000 final is Aug. 2 at the Big M. Take The Money, owned by Barry Guariglia's Black Horse Racing, has won six of 10 races this year, primarily in Pennsylvania. She has twice finished second to top Hambletonian Oaks contender Shake It Cerry. She will be driven Saturday by Marcus Miller and faces Bikini So Teeny, Silent Opera K, and Mity's Winner. "She's been a nice [Pennsylvania] Sire Stakes horse, in my opinion," Miller said. "We're using this race to decide whether if we're a Hambletonian Oaks contender or not. She's had a little bit of a layoff, but I want to see a nice race, finishing with trot. With a four-horse field, it's usually just a race home. That's what I want to do. "If Marcus hops off the bike and says 'She was vicious, she was super,' then you go in the Oaks. If he says she didn't seem strong, then we have to have a discussion. She trained really good. I know by program she seems to be the best, but that's why they still race. I'm just hoping for a strong race." On the boys' side, there are two 11-horse divisions worth $32,207 each. Jimmy Taker-trained Nuncio, who has won four of six races this year and twice finished second to nemesis, and stablemate, Father Patrick, is part of the 3-5 favored entry with Amped Up Hanover in the first division. Nuncio and Amped Up Hanover are eligible to the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Aug. 2. The rest of the field is Uva Hanover, Another Deposition, Sarcastic Man, Southwind Poseidon, Revrac Harbour, Resolve, Home Front, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. All are eligible to the Hambletonian except Another Deposition, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. Takter's Trixton is the 3-5 choice in the second division. The split also includes Mister B's Way, Skates N Plates, Another Transcript, Truxton, Well Built, Speak The Truth, Scacco Matto, Lightning Force, Muscle Midas, and Datsyuk. All are eligible to the Hambletonian. * * * The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters on Friday visits Harrah's Philadelphia, where several horses with famous siblings will go behind the gate. Kolachke (Donato Hanover-La Riviera Lindy) is a half-sister to 2012 Horse of the Year Chapter Seven and Sistas (Andover Hall-Honorable Mother) is a half-sister to Honorable Daughter, the 2008 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter. Inch By Inch (Yankee Glide-Armbro Niagara) is a full sister to millionaire Falls For You, Lilu Hanover (Andover Hall-Lady Luck Hanover) is a full sister to stakes-winner Luckycharm Hanover, and Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough) is a three-quarter-sister to 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Heaven's Door. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications  

The weather could not have been nicer for Breakfast With The Babies this morning with sunny skies and gusty winds, the consensus temperature was 77 degrees. The star of the show wasn't a two year old at the start of their career but a Hambletonain candidate at the very peak of his powers, the remarkable Trixton. Out for a little leg stretching in a qualifier, Trixton went right to the front for trainer/driver Jimmy Takter and waltzed around the oval in 1:53.3, last quarter in 28 flat into a significant wind. He's looks ready to battle Father Patrick for the crown in the Stanley Dancer Memorial next Saturday. Perfect Alliance also got some work in this morning, touring the oval in 1:53.3 in preparation for the Miss Versatility leg here next week. She looked sharp with Yannick Gingras aboard for trainer Julie Miller and owners Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, Dave Stolz and Art Geiger. Baby trotters led off the card and a couple of fillies impressed with identical 1:58.1 miles. The pretty $140,000 Credit Winner Lexington filly Crazy Beautiful took by the 59.4 half then closed with a 28.4 final stanza to hold sway against the closing bid of Nunkeri. Scott Zeron drove, Tony Alagna trains for the Willow Oak Ranch of Tennessee. Lilu Hanover made a bold move around the final bend and drew clear in a 29 flat final quarter to win for Takter and Gingras in her third qualifier. Owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, she was a $130,000 Harrisburg purchase. Takter later drove the Cantab Hanover x Muscaloosa colt Walter White to a 1:59.4. He was a $57,000 Harrisburg purchase for the interest of Christina Takter, RAW Equine and John & Jim Fielding. Takter pacing pupil Bet You won his Third Straight non-betting race, this one in 1:57 for Yannick. He's by Bettors Delight out of Armbro Amoretto purchased inn Lexington $75,000 for Christina, the Fieldings and Mc Clelland. Trond Smedshammer won a couple, taking the second race with Finish Line a Yankee Glide gelding from Calchips Finisher in 2:00. He was a $50,000 Lexington purchase by Trond's American Viking Stable, Diane Giuliano and Purple Haze Stable. Trond won with Crazshana in 2:01.4 a few races later. This one is a Crazed gelding that Purple Haze gave $47,000 at Harrisburg last fall. Jonas Czernyson sent out a pair of winners, taking the fourth with Alderbaran Eagle in 2:00.3 with Corey Callahan aboard. He's a $70,000 Muscle Hill from Letsjustalkaboutme that the Alderbaran Stable bought at Harrisburg. Dave Miller drove the Muscle Hill filly Jolene Jolene to a 2:01 victory for Jonas and owner Bill Donovan. She's out of Celebrity Speedie and was an $87,000 Harrisburg baby. The pacers started off with the speedy Sportswriter filly Yellow Mustang dragging Dave Miller through fast middle splits then holding on in 1:57. Joe Holloway trains the daughter of Best Tussle, a $23,000 Harrisburg yearling buy, for Ted Gewertz and Val D'Or Farms. The cleverly named She's A Hot Mess redeemed herself after last week's miscue by beating a field of colts in 1:58 with a good 29.1 close into a gusting wind for Scott Zeron. She's an American Ideal homebred from Sure Fun Tryin trained by Tony Alagna who owns her in partnership with Stephanie & Myron Bell's Riverview Farms and John Fodera. Tony sent out a nice pair of colts in the fourteenth and Dream's Beachboy impressed, winning at first asking for Zeron in 1:56.2 / 29- off a nice pocket trip. He's a $150,000 Harrisburg Somebeachsomewhere colt from Dream-A-While owned by Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and Stillwater Partners, a Myron Bell production. The Cancelliere brothers unveiled a sharp Rock N Roll Heaven colt named Raylan Givens in this heat, closing to be second and Official Prince (Art Official) from the Alagna barn was a good third. The next group also contained some pretty impressive looking colts. The winner was Major War, Shannon DePinto and Kovach Stables $60,000 Harrisburg purchase by American Ideal from Cantor's Daughter. He made a big move on the final turn to get clear and closed out a 1:55.4 mile in 27.4. Dave Miller drove for trainer Sam De Pinto. Somekindaparty, Shane Adam and Mohegan Blue Chip all flashed good pace down the stretch into the wind. Tonight is one of the big ones, Meadowlands Pace elim night. The inaugural Hambletonian Maturity fields fourteen of trotting's finest four year olds racing for $484,500 and a spectacular fireworks show after the races. Post time is 6:30. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands    

This Fourth of July holiday weekend will be one that a very special young lady will never forget, thanks to the generosity of the staff and management at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Sydney Weaver, the “little darling” of North American harness racing, and her parents, Lisa and Don Weaver, are driving down from their home in Ontario to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The racetrack making this holiday weekend an unofficial “Sydney Weaver Guest of Honor” at the Meadowlands. "Over the winter, Darin (Zoccali) approached me about bringing Sydney Weaver and her family down for their first visit to the Meadowlands,” said M’lands GM Jason Settlemoir.  “After everything that happened with Sydney's horse, I thought it was a great idea.  Sydney is very popular within our sport and it seems there is a lot of buzz about her trip here.” Sydney Weaver is a phenomenal 14-year-old young woman, who just graduated eighth grade. She got her groom’s license at age 10, has won major youth writing awards and her stories are always about harness racing. She was given half of a racehorse, who coincidentally is named Sydney Seelster and the two have lived through the trials and tribulations of having the horse she loves claimed from her and then get her back.   Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, Sydney is always at the races, watching from the rail no matter what the weather conditions are. She roots for the horses, cheers and congratulates the drivers and trainers and has become a household name in harness racing because of her honest enthusiasm for the sport. Her true passion for harness racing is why some call her the “Shirley Temple” of the Standardbred industry. She is now a monthly columnist for the international harness racing website Harnesslink.com and is the youngest member ever of the United States Harness Writers Association. And throughout this all, Sydney battles daily with Cerebral Palsy and is usually confined to her wheelchair, but that has never stopped her from achieving whatever goals she has set before her. This includes jogging horses on the racetrack as she is working hard to try and get her trainers license. The Meadowlands is rolling out the red carpet in honor of Sydney’s visit. The family is driving down on Thursday. Then Friday morning they will head out to visit trainer Tony Alagna and Julie Miller to see their stables and great horses and tour the training farms in the Freehold area. Then back to the Meadowlands for dinner at Trotters, visiting the race paddock and a night of racing. There will even be a race named in honor of Sydney’s visit Friday night. Then Saturday morning it’s Breakfast with the Babies and at night dinner at the track at, of course, “Pink” which is Sydney’s racing colors. Sydney will be honored by being one of the co-presenters of the trophy to the winner of the $484,000 Hambletonian Matturity Trot for four-year-olds. After the races, Sydney and family will drive to Goshen, NY and then Sunday morning head over to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, one of Sydney’s favorite places to visit. Then an afternoon at Goshen’s Historic Track for the Grand Circuit races followed by the Hall of Fame induction dinner under the tent at the museum. Monday is visiting Tioga Downs for some live racing, visiting the local breeding farms and then back home to Ontario. And it’s the Meadowlands who is making this all happen for the Weaver’s and it’s the Meadowlands who is paying for everything, from hotel’s to dinners, transportation and Hall of Fame dinner tickets. “Jeff Gural and I try to do things like this for people whenever we can and it usually doesn't attract this much media attention,” Said Jason Settlemoir, “We typically don't like to publicize it.  But, I understand why so many people have taken an interest in this fabulous young woman.  That said, this weekend is all about Sydney and her family and we are just lucky to have them here." And what does Sydney Weaver think about all of this? “Shortly after Pinky got claimed I heard from Darin Zoccali at the Meadowlands,” Sydney said. “It was a few days after she got claimed and I was still in shock over it and Mr. Zoccali said that they wanted to invite me to come and see the new Meadowlands. I’ve always wanted to come and see the new Meadowlands. It was such a great surprise. “This is going to be so fantastic,” Sydney gushed with excitement. “I have read all about the track and watched the races and seen pictures and now I am going to see it in real life. It’s just too cool. “So many of my friends on Facebook has told me they are coming either Friday or Saturday to the Meadowlands to meet me,” Sydney said. “They want to get my autograph so I now have to bring some Sharpie pens with me. I can’t believe people want my autograph. It’s amazing all the people I will get to meet. I’m just a small time Canadian girl and this is so overwhelming and exciting.” And what is the most exciting part of the trip for a 14-year-old harness racing lover? Well for Sydney Weaver its pink racing equipment. “I can’t wait to visit some of the tack shops,” Sydney said. “It’s hard up here to get equipment in pink but the tack shops around the Meadowlands area they have lot of pink tack and I plan on getting some cool stuff for Pinky to bring back.” What Darin Zoccali and the Meadowlands is doing for Sydney Weaver and her family is way over the top and their generosity is very touching, especially to a deserving young lady who has made such an impact on the Standardbred industry despite her claiming of only being a small time Canadian girl. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Perfect Alliance all but destroyed a field of six rivals at Mohawk Raceway Friday, romping by six and one-half lengths in winning her $35,000 division of the Armbro Flight harness racing eliminations while Bee A Magician tasted defeat for the second time this year, losing to 54-1 long shot D’Orsay by a half length in her division. Now undefeated in 11 starts this year, Perfect Alliance lived up her name once again as driver Yannick Gingras had little trouble once he got his mare to the lead. He was parked out from post seven by Ma Chere Hall (Corey Callahan) and was unable to clear to the lead until after the opening quarter mile in :27. But once on top Perfect Alliance settled in and led the field to the half mile in :55.3 and then by the three-quarter pole in 1:23.4, Ma Chere Hall made a break in the two-hole as Perfect Alliance scooted away from the field, leading by four and one-half lengths before coasting home to win in 1:51.4. Rockin With Dewey (Mario Baillargeon) was second with Bax Of Life (Chris Christoforou) third. The time of the race was the track record at Mohawk for trotting mares. Also making it to next week’s $266,000 final were Upfrontluckycarol (Stephen Condren) in fourth and Lady Laker (Trevor Ritchie) in fifth place. To watch Perfect Alliance win click here. Trained by Julie Miller, Perfect Alliance is sired by Credit Winner and is owned by Little E, LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz and Arthur Geiger. She paid $2.30 to win. Mohawk Raceway’s tote board had to use all five digits when D’Orsay did the unthinkable and defeated last year’s Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician, and she did it at odds of 54-1 and paid $111.30 to win. The five-year-old mare by Yankee Glide was driven by Sylvain Filion and used a :26.2 last quarter mile kick to collar Bee A Magician (Brian Sears) in late stretch and then win by a half length in 1:52.1. Classy Martine (Tim Tetrick) was third. It was Classy Martine that went right to the early lead and gave Bee A Magician what seemed to be the perfect two-hole trip through fractions of :27.1, :56.4 and 1:25 and all the while D’Orsay and Filion sat in third place following the action until the top of the stretch. Sears came out with Bee A Magician and started after Classy Martine and had them collared but Sears was not pushing Bee A Magician so when Filion fanned out with D’Orsay they may have caught Sears napping a bit as they charged down the stretch to pull off the upset. Charmed Life (Jody Jamieson) was fourth with Angie’s Lucky Star (James MacDonald) fifth to complete the final for next week. For D’Orsay, it was her first win in three starts this year for trainer Jonas Czernyson and the Consus Racing Stable of Hamilton, NJ. To watch D'Orsay win click here.  The field for the final will line up as follows per post positions: 1) Lady Laker 2) Bax Of Life 3) Dorsay* 4) Perfect Alliance* 5) Classic Martine 6) Upfrontluckycarol 7) Rockin With Dewey 8) Charmed Life 9) Bee A Magician 10) Angies Lucky Star AE) Ma Chere Hall By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - May 2014 - Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment is pleased to announce that on Saturday May 31st, Victor Espinoza, jockey of California Chrome will be making an appearance at The Meadowlands. Espinoza will be at The Meadowlands beginning at 7:00 P.M. on Saturday and will be signing autographs of special California Chrome posters. He will also make an appearance on The Meadowlands television show and make a winner's circle presentation. The Espinoza meet & greet event is made possible through the sponsorship of "Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, Purple Haze Center." Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment has partnered up with Exposure North Jersey and the North Jersey Media Group to host the 3rd annual Jerseyfest on Saturday, May 31st. Jerseyfest will take place from 5-11pm with free admission, showcasing the best food trucks in the area, along with New Jersey artisans, vendors and crafters. Other highlights include games and entertainment and special guests. The wide selection of Jersey-centric food trucks includes Bacon on Wheels, Gorilla Cheese NYC, Lechon de Negron, The Thai Elephant, Dark Side of the Moo, Luke's Lobster, Kona Ice, Wrap Star, Waffle de Lys, Empanada Guy, Incrediballs, Polkadot Cupcake, Sweet Spot Ice Cream, and The French Quarter. Guests can enjoy live musical performances from American Country duo, Brothers Osborne as well as children's singer, songwriter and entertainer Kimmy Shwimmy. Sports Authority will host a Sports Zone with outdoor games, a bouncy house and entertainment for kids. Former NFL linebacker, Quentin Coryatt, will be presenting live demos from his one of a kind invention The Perfect Jumper, a unique training aid for the serious basketball player. His invention has been endorsed by NBA greats such as Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash and Bob Night. Coryatt will be donating a percentage of all proceeds from the sales of The Perfect Jumper at Jerseyfest to The Max Cure Foundation, Meadowlands "Charity of the Month" for July and August. Charity partners for Jerseyfest include Center for Food Action and Max Cure Foundation. Both organizations will be on-site collecting donations with Center for Food Action collecting non-perishable food and Max Cure Foundation collecting used sneakers and athletic shoes. On the racetrack, the Garden State's finest horsepower will be showcased in the New Jersey Sire Stakes Finals worth $400,000. Post Time is 7:15 pm "Our new $100 Million entertainment complex is the perfect location to celebrate all the great food, crafts, entertainment and live racing that the Garden State has to offer," stated Jason Settlemoir, General Manager & CEO of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. "Last year's Jerseyfest was a tremendous success and with all the new additions, this year's event will be even better." Jerseyfest will be held rain or shine. For up-to-date event information: http://www.meadowlandsracetrack.com/event_detail.aspx?id=7543. by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands

We are visiting today with harness racing trainer Julie Miller.   Julie Miller is one of harness racing's racing leading trainers. She is currently ranked sixth in trainer earnings for the year with close to a million dollar in earnings, $975,100. Her stable of trotters is one of harness racing's best, if not the best. She has an amazing UTRS rating of 0.404. Julie could be on her way to her best year of training ever.   Perfect Alliance trained by Julie Miller, set a world record trotting a mile at Woodbine in 151.2 last week. Perfect Alliance is now the fastest older mare in harness racing history. She defeated last year's Horse Of The Year, Bee A Magician, who tasted defeat for the first time in more than a year.   Perfect Alliance is currently unbeaten in ten starts and is ranked second in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Miller has a stable of outstanding stakes trotters in Cee Bee Yes, Take The Money, Designed To Be, Bambino Glide, Green Hornet, and Sevruga. Her distinguished filly pacer, Katie Said, recently won a division of the Historic Series-Ladyship Stakes at Pocono Downs in 151.2.   One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy   HLINK: You have an outstanding stable of horses this year. Is this your best crop of horses ever?   JM: Everything is going great so far. I am really please by the ones who came back from two to three. Designed To Be won a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Servuga was third in the Cutler Stakes to Sebastian K. I thought that was excellent by him. He has had his aches and pains. I am really proud of him.   HLINK: Let's start with new world record holder Perfect Alliance. How did she come out of the race? What did you think of her world record performance?   JM: She came out of the race really well. She is home all tucked away in her stall. We are tickled to death. What else can you expect from a horse. She had a first quarter in 26.3 and came home in 27. You can't ask anymore from a trotter. It was her first step up to the big ranks. She responded incredibly.   Hlink: Your next race is the Armbro Flight at Mohawk. She will be facing a tough task in facing Maven, Bee A Magician and Classic Martine.   JM: It always surprises me that when I am interviewed that they mention only one horse I will be facing. There are five or six outstanding horses in these races. It is going to be in the draw or the trip who wins. It is going to be an outstanding race for the fans. She might get a qualifier before the Armbro Flight or just go up there to race.   Hlink: What are the plans for the rest of the year with Perfect Alliance?   JM: I don't plan that far ahead. I race from race to race. I just look at the next target. I don't put the cart before the horse.   Hlink: You have a full stable of outstanding trotters this year. I am going to name them and maybe you can tell me a little about each one. The first one is Cee Bee Yes.   JM: She was in a short field of horses in her last start. She had the five hole and there was a horrible wind up the backside. She was at the mercy of a thirty two second quarter. She was gapped out turning for home but came home in 26.4. It is a full field this week. I hope we get good positioning. I have high hope for her. She won in the New Jersey Sire Stakes last year.   Hlink: Let's talk about Take The Money. She finished second to Shake It Cerry in her last start.   JM: She was super with a great effort. There was some slow fractions. We sprinted home and we couldn't get the momentum. Shake It Cerry is the number one horse that everyone is talking about. Finishing second to her says it all.   Hlink: What about Designed To Be?   JM: She is awesome. She has her own world record from last year. She is healthy and i am pointing her toward her next start in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Pocono Downs.   Hlink: Tell us about Bambino Glide.   JM: He is coming off a great second in the SOA Final at Yonkers. He is in this Friday at Yonkers. He needs a race. I could have qualified him but decided to put him in. He is a nice four year trotter and I expect big things from him.   Hlink: What is happening with the lightly raced trotter Green Hornut?   JM: He is what Andy and I call our project horse. He was sent to me because he was not minding his manners. He is still on the fence.I hope I got him straightend out. He had a good qualifier. His last race was in the rain and it got congested. He made a break. I hope I have him on his way to success in the New York Sire Stakes.   Hlink: Sevruga was nice third to Sebastian K in the Cutler.   JM: How can you complain when you are third to Sebastian K and Modern Family. He is just a nice war horse. How can you complain about a horse who trots in 1:51 and a piece.   Hlink: I know you also have pacers in your stable, but you seem to specialize in training trotters. What do you attribute that to?   JM: I don't think I specialize in trotters. We just had Katie Said who paced in 151.2 at Pocono. It is just that my clientele want trotters. I get what they want. If someone comes along and says they wanted me to buy a pacer I would do that too (laughter). It just that I am stocked up on trotters now.   Hlink: Let's talk about Katie Said. I had talked to Andy about Katie Said about a month ago. He said that she had some issues. Marcus said he drove her like a trotter the other night. What is the story about Katie Said?   JM: Andy knows my horses inside and out. This is a new challenge for me and my stable. I have to rely 100% on catch drivers. It's hard getting your message across on how you want your horse driven. Marcus was able to qualifier her and get a feel for her. He did what I exactly said in driving her like she is a trotter. She responded and it worked out. She might race next in non-winners of three and then go in the next Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race. She is staked pretty good this year.   Hlink: The trotters this year are going at incredible fast times. Records are dropping left and right. What do you attribute these amazing fast times to?   JM: The Standardbred is getting better all the time. The conformation, breeding and pedigree is better. Our training methods are better. I am just so proud that our sport is evolving. The other breeds are pretty stagnant, Quarter horses and Thoroughbreds. It is nice that we are getting better all the time.   Hlink: How fast do you think the trotters will go this year?   JM: I don't like that kind of question. I just want to go fast enough to win. I don't care if it is 1:49 or 1:52. I just want to be in the hunt and be successful.   Hlink: Ake Svanstedt has burst upon the training scene from Sweden. He seems to have some unique training methods. What do you think of this?   JM: I am not really familiar with him yet. I have not met him. I do not know his training methods. I really don't have a comment about that. His horse Sebastian K was brilliant the other night. I don't know his background. I guess he has a private farm out here and stays pretty secluded. It is great for racing as we have more competition and more races.   Hlink: Can you tell us about the unfortunate accident that Andy had? Where were you and how did you find out about it?   JM: I was actually on spring break with my two kids. I was out at dinner with the kids. I said to my son that Bambino Glide is about to race and would you put it on the ipad so we can watch it. I saw a ton of messages on my phone. I knew something happened as there were a ton of messages from people at Yonkers. I immediately called and that is how I found out. I got a flight the next morning and was on my way back home.   Hlink: I am sure you are being asked a million times, but how is he doing now?   JM: it is just a long road to recovery. We are lucky he was 100% healthy and athletic before the accident. On May 28th, he goes for his next appointment. We are hoping for good news. It is a six month process. His mental state has just been amazing. He had to go from going 100 miles an hour to just laying in bed to stabilize his back. I am very proud of him. The other great thing is he comes out and watches the horse train and gives me suggestions. He is still right here helping me do everything. I am really lucky.   Hlink: How are your two-year-olds coming along in their training so far? What can we look forward to this year?   JM: I like to keep my cards close to my vest. There are some I have high hopes for. When you are training out here all by yourself they all look amazing. We will know more when they go to the first qualifiers and face competition. I am very optimistic.   Hlink: I am sure there are a couple that look like they will be very good. I am sure one has caught a twinkle in you eye. Can you give me a couple of names.   JM: No I can't (laughter). I am going to keep everything under wraps. We will have them in the baby races soon at Gaitway. You will have to come out and see them.   Hlink: Was Lucky Jim the best horse you ever had?   JM: Yes he was. We had him for two seasons, 2009 and 2010. He won 1.5 million and every major stake race except the Maple Leaf Trot.   Hlink: How is it training for Jason Settlemoir and Jeff Gural?   JM: Oh my gosh, they are amazing. They pay their bills on time. I call and text them a couple times a month. They let me do my job. This is why they are so successful.   Hlink: Your racing is all based around New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and their sire stakes programs. With the expansion of slots in Ohio is there any chance you will pick up some Ohio bred horses?   JM: I like being based in New Jersey. My kids are still in school. I have got plenty to do here. It is great for our Standardbred economy. I don't have any plans for Ohio or Indiana bred horses.   HLINK: Drugs are always a hot topic in the harness racing business. What can harness racing do better. How can we make the bettor feel safer when betting on the horses?   JM: It is disappointing that this is one of the major things talked about in our sport. People have to have integrity and do the right thing. We need regulations and guidelines. Trainers need to be aware of what is black and white and is allowed and what is not. There is always one bad apple. People generally do the right thing. I think most trainers medicate their horses right and follow the guidelines. It is unfortunate that the one eyesore gets the headlines. The racing commissions have to do the right thing and govern the sport.   By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com

This Week: Historic Series, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; TVG FFA Pace, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Art Rooney and Lismore eliminations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; and Betsy Ross and Maxie Lee Memorial, Harrah's Philadelphia, Chester, Pa. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit will take place at four locations this week. Action begins on Tuesday (May 20) at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs with two $34,712 divisions in the Historic-Ladyship for 3-year-old pacing fillies. The Wednesday (May 21) Pocono card features a pair of divisions in the $73,774 Historic-Dickerson Cup for 3-year-old male trotters. Pocono will also host Grand Circuit events on the weekend, with the $46,000 (est.) Historic-Pocono Cup for 3-year-old male pacers set for Saturday (May 24) and the $55,000 (est.) Historic-Coaching Club Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters on the Sunday (May 25) program. Meadowlands Racetrack will host some of the top free for all pacers in the sport on Saturday (May 24) in a $50,000 leg of the TVG FFA Pace, while on that same night Yonkers Raceway will hold $40,000 eliminations in the Art Rooney Pace for 3-year-old males and $20,000 eliminations in the Lismore for 3-year-old filly pacers. On Sunday afternoon (May 25), Harrah's Philadelphia will host the $250,000 (est.) Betsy Ross for older female pacers and the $250,000 (est.) Maxie Lee Memorial for older trotters. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Swedish champion Sebastian K added to his lore with another convincing win, this one the $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial final at The Meadowlands on May 17 in 1:50.2. Sebastian K was a 1:50.2 winner in the Cutler Memorial final. The Cutler was the first major test of the season for the Free For All trotters, promising a battle royal between last week's elimination winners Sebastian K and Market Share and record speed possibilities. However, that went awry when Market Share made an uncharacteristic break in the first turn. As the race began Modern Family was put into play early by David Miller, using his keen gate speed to clear to the front before the turn with Sebastian K protecting the rail for Ake Svanstedt and securing the pocket through the :27.1 opener. With Market Share out of contention, there was little movement as the field passed the half in :55.2. Approaching the final bend Sebastian K was flushed out, trotting alongside Modern Family and they raced as a team past the 1:22.4 three-quarters. By mid-stretch Sebastian K was edging by that rival on his way to a 1-1/2 length win in a stakes record 1:50.2. Modern Family held well to be second while Sevruga followed up close throughout and was third. The winner is raced by Swedish interests, trained by his driver Ake Svanstedt and owned by Knutsson Trotting. The Woodbine winter/spring meet came to an end on Monday evening (May 19), but not before the Toronto oval hosted the Miss Versatility Series for the continent's top older trotting mares. Perfect Alliance established a new world record for a 4-year-old mare as she got under the wire first in 1:51.2. Perfect Alliance, driven by Yannick Gingras, established a new world record for a 4-year-old mare as the trotting miss got under the wire first in 1:51.2. In doing so, the daughter of Credit Winner also set a new Canadian and track record in the process. Sent off as the 6-5 second choice, Gingras and Perfect Alliance led from start to finish through panels of :26.3, :55.1 and 1:23.4 en route to victory. Bee A Magician (Brian Sears), Horse of the Year in Canada and the U.S. last season, finished second as the 2-5 favorite. After going undefeated in 17 starts last season, the daughter of Kadabra tasted defeat for the first time since Oct. 12, 2012. D'Orsay (Sylvain Filion) finished third. Owned by Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz and Arthur Geiger, Perfect Alliance increased her career earnings to $178,801. She remains a perfect 10-for-10 this season. Fresh off her world record performance at Pocono, 3-5 favorite Classic Martine and Tim Tetrick found the wire first in 1:52.2 in the other division. Tetrick guided the daughter of Classic Photo to command well before the opening station in :27.1. Heading towards the half, second-choice Charmed Life (Jody Jamieson) brushed to the front to lead past the midway point in :57 and three-quarters in 1:25. Turning for home, Charmed Life began to tire as Classic Martine angled to the outside and exploded to the lead en route to a comfortable score. Rockin With Dewey came on for second, over Upfrontluckycarol. Chris Oakes trains the 4-year-old old lass for his wife, Susan, along with co-owners Edwin Gold, Hauser Bros Racing Entertainment LLC and Conrad Zurich. Classic Martine remains a perfect three-for-three this season and has banked $580,024 in career earnings. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, 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 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 246; 2. Tim Tetrick - 155; 3. George Brennan - 129.5; 4. Brian Sears - 87; 5. Jason Bartlett - 79. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 340.5; 2. PJ Fraley - 135; 3. Joe Holloway - 92; 4. Rene Allard - 70; 5. Jimmy Takter - 40. Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 118.5; 2t. Burke Racing - 86.4; 2t. Weaver Bruscemi - 86.4; 4. Ted Gewertz - 34.75; 5. Brad Grant - 34.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will again take place at four different racetracks next weekend. The Raceway at Western Fair District will host the Molson Pace on Friday (May 30); Yonkers Raceway offers the Art Rooney and Lismore finals on Saturday (May 31); Mohawk Racetrack hosts the Somebeachsomewhere for 3-year-old male pacers on Saturday (May 31); and Tioga Downs will offer the Roll With Joe for open pacers on Sunday (June 1). by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

What would it take for a horse to put an end to world champion Bee A Magician’s 18-race winning streak? Why a world record performance of course and that is what Perfect Alliance trotted in to beat Bee A Magician Monday night at Woodbine Racecourse in a $30,000 opening round division of the Miss Versatility Series for older mares. The race began with Frau Blucher (Tim Tetrick) shooting like she was on fire out to the lead from post seven and following her was Perfect Alliance and driver Yannick Gingras, who was able to take the lead away by the opening quarter mile in a speedy :26.3. They raced Indian-style to the half mile in :55.1 with Bee A Magician and Brian Sears staking the leaders until the three-quarter mile marker in 1:23.4. Sears than had Bee A Magician on the move on the outside but it looked to be a little too late at that point. Coming down the stretch Gingras had Perfect Alliance in full stride and no one was going to catch her tonight. Sears was able to weave his way around Frau Blucher and closed well in her first start back this year, but was no match for Perfect Alliance, who won by one and one-quarter lengths in world record time of 1:51.2. D’Orsay (Sylvain Filion) was third. Unbeaten in 2014 with her tenth straight win, Perfect Alliance is trained by Julie Miller. The four-year-old mare by Credit Winner is co-owned by Little E, LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stotz and Arthur Geiger. She paid $4.70 to win as the second choice in the race. Bee A Magician was the fan favorite at 3/5. Perfect Alliance set the world records with her 1:51.2 victory. She is now the fastest older mare in harness racing history, surpassing the previous mark of 1:51.4 that was co-held by Beat The Wheel (1994); Peaceful Way (2005), Queen Serene (2007) and D’Orsay (2013). The only record left that she could beat now is that of 1:51 that was set last year by none other than Bee A Magician. In the third race $30,000 first preliminary division, Classic Martine and driver Tim Tetrick did not disappoint anyone as they were recipients of a golden two-hole trip and responded with an easy four length triumph in a speedy 1:52.2. Tetrick left out of the gate from the rail with Classic Martine and got to the lead with ease. Charmed Life and driver Jody Jamieson came right at them after the opening quarter mile in  :27  and was parked out past the half mile marker in :57 before they finally cleared. Charmed Life then led to the three-quarters in 1:25. Then with no one able to mount any sort of a challenge on the outside, Tetrick waited with Classic Martine until the stretch and then blew right by Charmed Life for the easy win. Rockin with Dewey (Mario Baillargeon) was second with Upfrontluckycarol (Stephen Condren) third Currently undefeated in 2014 with her third straight win, Classic Martine is trained by Chris Oakes. The four-year-old daughter of Classic Photo is owned by Hauser Brothers Racing, Susan Oakes and Edwin Gold. She paid $3.20 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

DERBY DAY – On the first Saturday in May, the entire country cares about horse racing. No matter who you are or where you live, it is difficult to escape the anticipation and excitement leading up to the Run for the Roses. Traffic was already backed up to the railroad overpass on Racetrack Road by 10 a.m., waiting to get into the New Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment.  By the time I arrived in the paddock for the morning qualifiers, the first and second races had already been contested, as an earlier start was planned to accommodate the anticipated crowd. My first stop was to see the older trotters in race 7.  Shelly Grieco, caretaker for Market Share was less anxious this week as Team Toscano had less than half of the eleven horses they had in-to-go last week.  Markie was his protective self, pinning his ears if I got too close to Shelly.  Otherwise, he was content to nibble on his dog chain, which is hooked with a carabiner and dangling from the left cross chain snap. Two stalls down was Dan Patch Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician, who was making her 2014 debut sans the trotting hopples.  She looked as alert and ready as could be, and her caretaker Stephanie Petherick, was happy to pose for the obligatory photo.  I thought that if this was not a qualifier the paparazzi would be everywhere! As I dashed over to the track apron, fans and players were milling around.  They picked their spots while watching live early races from Churchill Downs on the infield teletron.  Richard Gutnick, co-owner of Market Share was taking in all the action from his usual Saturday morning perch in the grandstand.  At that stage, plans for the Elitloppet had not been finalized, citing several pros and cons.  Rumor has it that a decision will be made on Tuesday. The USTA’s Ken Weingartner and DRF’s Derick Giwner were in their respective positions, ready to capture all the highlights.  M1 CEO Jason Settlemoir stopped by to say hello with Marianne Rotella the assistant general manager.  Marianne has been at The Meadowlands as long as I can remember, most recently running Guest Services.  She is a great lady who is right at home managing big events. The main attraction was the 4-year-old and older trot, which was all Market Share.  Not only did he draw off by over eight lengths, winning in 1:52.4, he trotted his last half all alone in :54.4.  For the “Queen Bee” this appeared more like an official Derby Day workout.  Bee settled in fourth and was allowed to trot home at will, timed in 1:56.  She looked great and went clean and comfortable without the hopples. Following that race I went up to the Super Box to see Nick Salvi.  I was impressed by the “super” view of the races from that vantage point.  We discussed several social media initiatives while keeping an eye on the last few races.  Hanover’s Murray Brown brought a bag of NY bagels over from Manhattan while several top owners discussed the sights and sounds of the day. When the races were over, security shuffled us out to make room for a Derby party.  Myron Bell invited me to lunch after qualifiers.  I had to respectfully decline as I had already made plans.  Nick reminded me that they ‘do lunch’ every Saturday so I was could catch them next time.  I most certainly will! Back on the apron, I could not help but notice what an AMAZING TRANSFORMATION occurred in the “Back Yard,” the New Meadowlands equivalent to the old Paddock Park.  Although not complete yet, it had come a long way from the disassembled and dusty construction site it looked like last week. On my self-guided tour children were playing on the freshly rolled sod, and workers were inflating kid-friendly bounce houses.  While peeking inside the new Back Yard Teller stand I ran into John “Red” Fazekas.  He is also a “lifer” at the Meadowlands, starting as a labor foreman in 1977 under John Chevalier.  Now he is the Supervisor of Properties and knows every inch of the front side and the backstretch like the back of his hand.  During the Garden State Sales era, Red could always be counted on to come through in a pinch.  Bitten by the racehorse bug, he even owned and trained a few horses along the way. One of the hardest working people around that facility is Rachel Ryan, Director of Marketing.  She and the incredibly talented graphic artist Kathie Estes were handing out M1 T-shirts that read “Keep Calm and Derby On.”  I have witnessed Rachel do everything from shoot T-shirts from a cannon to carry 6 foot tables over her shoulder.  She always smiles and forges ahead.  Team Gural is indeed fortunate to have Rachel’s enthusiasm and dedication at their facility. During my tour I also ran into Administrative Assistant Jenn Bongiorno.  I told her that I was going to Freehold next, and she said one word, “Sumatra.”  I should listen to her more often! By this time Ken Weingartner was finished uploading all of his shots from the day, so we headed over to Tick Tock, the relatively famous NJ diner on Route 3 in Clifton.  After we ordered the waitress noticed pictures of horses on my iPhone and on my shirt.  The waitress inquired, “Is the Derby over at the Meadowlands today?”  Doing my very best to maintain my composure I explained that the Derby was being held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky but the Meadowlands was having a public Derby Day party—hence all the traffic.  There was also a Bar Mitzvah at MetLife Stadium, but that’s another story. “Oh, right, KENTUCKY Derby” she said.  She was very pleasant and took good care of Ken and I after that.  We broke bread and shared a few laughs, and discussed the best alternate route to Freehold.  With all the NJ Turnpike construction around exit 8A, I was advised to exit early and take the back road down to Route 33. Just as were about to leave the Tick Tock, a middle-aged couple approached our table and stated, “We could not help but overhearing, but what is happening with the Derby today?” Ken and I did our best to be good ambassadors of horse racing and gave them as much information as they could handle.  I guess anyone affiliated with horse racing is a celebrity on Derby Day!  If nothing else, a good source of insight. Out and Southbound, Mr. Weingartner was correct--traffic was backed up at exit 8A.  But tie-ups are not uncommon on the NJ Turnpike, just ask anyone who ships from Showplace or Gaitway!  When I finally arrived at Freehold, the parking lot and the grandstand were jammed packed. The Dexter Cup at the Afternoon Delight is the first stop on the road to the $1.2 million Hambletonian.  The event drew several representatives of the Hambletonian Society, as well as Rob Key, who was rooting for his dad’s horse Sarcastic Man.  Members of the Takter family were also on the partly sunny but breezy apron. Brian Sears driving Sumatra from the rail was the prohibitive betting favorite at 30 cents on the dollar.  Not one to disappoint, the White Knight led gate to wire for an elated Tom Fanning, the Hambo hopeful’s trainer.  The early-season powerhouse Ray Schnittker stable picked up the 2, 3 & 4 spots, with elim. winner Sarcastic Man (post 8) grabbing the final check. It was rumored that “The Manager” president of the Yonkers-based Brian Sears fan club, was going to make a surprise appearance at Freehold for the Dexter, however, that never materialized—leaving this scribe with nothing to do but head back North to the Meadowlands to catch the Derby. Upon my ascent to the 4th floor Victory Terrace, amidst the handicappers and the humongous hats, it was clear that the Derby Day event was a success. 8,000 T-shirts had been given out before 3 pm, and it was standing room only on the track level.  The press box was the perfect place to spread out my laptop, camera and program to watch the NBC telecast.  Nick Salvi shared some of his home-made pulled pork, and the party began. Peter Koch joined us with about 20 minutes to post, and we bantered about chalk vs. long-shots.  As horse people, we always enjoy the stories associated with the Derby.  As a former horse auction company executive, the fact that California Chrome was the product of an $8,000 mare and $2,000 stud fee was especially satisfying. I am sure that my father, who often reminded would-be sellers that ‘money does not go lame in the bank,’ would have been aghast over these cowboys turning down $6m for half the horse.  But, hey, I guess he is worth more now that he won the Derby...and is eyeing a shot at the Triple Crown. All eyes will be upon Pimlico in Baltimore on May 17 for the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown.  Fans of harness racing will want to be at The Meadowlands that day as they host the Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night, with a dozen stars from that iconic era on hand to sign autographs.  Roosevelt memorabilia will also be on display courtesy of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. Following his T’bred TVG duties, Director of Racing Darin Zoccali joined us in the press box.  He was very pleased with the M1 on-track Churchill handle, which exceeded $1.6m.  In addition, about 12,000 people came to the facility.  All-in-all, it was a good day for horse racing, harness or otherwise. The crowd lingered on the Victory Terrace for some time after the Derby, until a brief thunder storm sent them running for cover.  The rain came and went and the crowd returned to the apron for a great night of harness racing.  The brief thunder-boomer did not slow things down, as five races went faster than 1:50. 3 Brothers Stable’s JK Endofanera won the Simpson and Rockin Amadeaus outlasted Frankies Dragon in the B1/A2 Handicap.  The increasingly powerful Alagna Racing had three wins on the Saturday night card, following 12 in the qualifiers.  With an impressive new webpage and dynamic social media feed, Tony gets it.  He is leading by example in a digital environment that helps inform owners and fans of his stable’s progress, as well as promoting the sport. It would be difficult to think of a big race at The Meadowlands where long-time track photographer Michael Lisa has not captured an iconic image.  For fun, I took his picture along with his brother and fellow photographer Jim, and Paul Capozzi the master of ceremonies for winners circle presentations.  These guys work hard behind the lens and behind the scenes to make sure that the winning connections have everlasting memories of their special night. To cap off the evening, David Miller, who will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in July, captured career win 11,000.  It truly was a great day for horse racing! By Chris Tully, for Harnesslink.com

The Meadowlands has set up a special account for industry participants and racing fans who have pledged support for the television broadcasts of the 2014 Little Brown Jug and the Meadowlands Pace which will air on CBS Sports Net. "Ontario trainer Jack Darling first mentioned the idea of industry support for this project on his Standardbred Canada blog and the response to his challenge has been overwhelming," said Jeff Gural, Chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack. "We'd like to thank everyone for helping to make this happen. We intend to pursue other avenues to secure sponsorship, both within and outside of the industry, with the idea of being able to televise one of the Breeders Crown nights in addition to the Jug, Hambletonian and the Meadowlands Pace." "We realize TV is just part of the equation in the effort to promote and grow our sport," said Meadowlands CEO and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "This is an opportunity for harness racing to work hand in hand with other companies and organizations to develop a synergy of social media efforts, television, and other strategies to benefit everyone involved and we are looking forward to this joint effort." Checks can be made out to and mailed to: Meadowlands Racetrack TV Fund 1 Racetrack Drive East Rutherford, NJ 07073 by Darrin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

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