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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Gimpanzee and Brian Sears overcame post 13 -- as well a solid field -- to capture the $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity in rather easy harness racing fashion Saturday night (July 18) at The Meadowlands.   The 4-year-old son of Chapter Seven covered the 1-1/8 mile distance in 2:05.4 as the 3-5 betting choice.   There was much action in the early stages, as Marseille and driver Ãke Svanstedt blasted out from post eight to loop many of the horses going into the first turn. Last year's Hambletonian Oaks champion, When Dovescry, was away in good position as well for David Miller through the hot :26 second opening quarter.   Southwind Avenger and Andy McCarthy were parked three-eighths of a mile before clearing to the front, and that was Dave Miller's cue to send the lone mare in the field to the top. When Dovescry got to the half in :55.2 and was soon joined when Yannick Gingras and Kings County made a power move to try to gain control.   When Dovescry and Kings County were locked in battle through much of the final turn, Forbidden Trade attempted to keep with cover second-over and Sears sat third-over in the flow waiting to make his move.   When Dovescry shook off pressure and secured the lead in upper stretch, but after passing the mile marker in 1:52.2, the mare -- making her first start this year -- began to tire. Sears and Gimpanzee were in full flight and easily powered on in the stretch to win convincingly by 3-1/4 lengths. Forbidden Trade, last year's Hambletonian winner, was pushed hard by driver Scott Zeron and just held down the place spot, holding off a wicked rally by Soul Strong and driver Dexter Dunn.       When Dovescry settled for fourth, and Don't Let'em finished fifth -- but did so while on a break and thereby lost the position. The judges moved Kings County up to fifth and Reign Of Honor to sixth in the official order of finish.   Trained by Marcus Melander, two-time Breeders Crown champion Gimpanzee won for the 21st time in his career and is now unbeaten in four 2020 starts. Owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, Gimpanzee returned $3.40.   "I thought Scott (Zeron aboard Forbidden Trade) would be a good one to follow," said Sears. "I had to move him on the turn he such a class animal."   The victory pushed Gimpanzee's lifetime earnings over the $2 million mark.   Sears, looking ahead to racing Gimpanzee against older foes, spoke of the attributes required to compete:   "He'll need a trip against those horses, but he's so handy."   by Jay Bergman, for the Hambletonian Society

The seventh edition of the Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters is scheduled for Saturday, July 18 as race 8 (scheduled post time of 9:30 p.m. EDT) on the dynamic, stakes-laden Meadowlands Pace Night at The Meadowlands. (Maturity race history can be found here https://www.hambletonian.com/maturity/2014 ) It's a brand that until 2013 represented the pinnacle of success in 3-year-old trotting races. Hambletonian dreams have come and been shattered by many and enjoyed by few. There were no second chances so if you had a top colt or filly that didn't hit peak condition in early August there was no wait-until-next year mantra. Things changed for the better in 2014 when the Hambletonian Society stepped in and unveiled a race specifically for 4-year-olds. A new era was born and to many purists it represented a bit of a second chance, even though the competition might still include the previous year's Hambletonian or Hambletonian Oaks winner. Owner Paul Van Camp had a pretty solid sophomore trotter in Your So Vain in 2013. The Donato Hanover-sired colt won a heat of the Kentucky Futurity and finished second in the Canadian Trotting Classic that year but kind of fell a bit short of expectations. For Van Camp Your So Vain's best race may have been a second place finish in the Canadian Classic. "Randy Waples was driving him for the first time," said Van Camp. "He told me after the race that if he had known how good he was he would have moved him earlier and we would have won by five." Such are the stories that follow you in racing and remain crystal clear even seven years later. Van Camp was approached by the late Ole Bach after the sophomore campaign and asked if he would sell Your So Vain with buyers in Europe looking to race him there. "I knew the Hambletonian Maturity was on the schedule and I really didn't want to sell the entire horse so we agreed for me to hold on to 10 percent just so I'd have something to root for," said Van Camp. That decision led to a change in trainers, as Brad Maxwell relinquished the role and Swedish transplant trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt assumed it. "Brad did a great job with this horse all the way. We gave him to Ake about two months before the Maturity and let him do what he does best," said Van Camp. What sticks out in a major way reflecting back on the 2014 Maturity debut was that Your So Vain was making his first start as a 4-year-old in the $484,850 contest while his 13 rivals that included 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life and Oaks winner and race-favorite Bee A Magician had plenty of preparation for the mile and one eighth contest. A record 14 trotters entered. "I was a little concerned before the race but after watching him score down I thought he looked better physically than any time I'd watched him before," said Van Camp. Sent off as a 7-1 third choice due in part to drawing the rail and also based on Svanstedt's worldwide reputation for having his horses ready at first asking, Your So Vain made a three-wide move on the backstretch and never looked back on his way to a then world mark of 2:05 3/5 for the added distance. "I've watched a lot of races at The Meadowlands over the years," said Van Camp, "I can only recall maybe two times that a horse made a move like that at the half and went on to win the race." To Van Camp it may not have been the actual Hambletonian but the memories today replicate the feeling he would have gotten had the race occurred on the first Saturday in August of 2013. "I'd say I must watch the replay at least once a week," said Van Camp while admiring the winner's circle photo. With 14 horses in the first Hambletonian Maturity the bar was set high for participation for also rans and champions from the sophomore season. In 2015 JL Cruze and John Campbell were reserved off the pace as the odds-on favorite while the Jimmy Takter-trained pair of Shake It Cerry and Father Patrick did the heavy lifting in the early stages. JL Cruze catapulted from last to first and then gamely held off Resolve in a thriller that produced another world record mile and one-eighth clocking of 2:04 2/5. The Maturity served as a springboard to the rise of JL Cruze who is still competing at a rather high level in 2020 for trainer Eric Ell. The favorite parade continued when Hannelore Hanover crushed her male rivals for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras in the 2016 edition. The Indiana-bred daughter of Swan For All branched out as a 4-year-old after dominating the Hoosier state as a sophomore. Hannelore Hanover would go on to earn in excess of $3 million during her brilliant racing career. Perhaps the original concept of the Hambletonian Maturity would be its allure to attract the previous year's Hambletonian champion to defend his or her crown. Until 2017 no Hambletonian winner had successfully done so but that changed when trainer Paula Wellwood returned with Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder. His resume alone may have scared off some of the competition as only eight others entered the $458,750 contest. Scott Zeron drove Marion Marauder, a son of Muscle Hill, with the confidence one would expect from a 3-10 favorite and won by a measured half-length. Marion Marauder, despite his Triple Crown conquest, was never a horse that ran away from others but at the same time he seemed to always recognize where the finish line was and usually arrived first. Another Maturity champion alumni, Marion Marauder is still at the top of his game as a 7-year-old in 2020. Given his overwhelming success stories in both Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks it was kind of a surprise that Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter had been shutout of the Hambletonian Maturity winner's circle but that changed in a major way in 2018 when the previous year's Oaks champion Ariana G dominated a field of eight male rivals giving her driver Yannick Gingras his second stakes victory as a prohibitive choice. Perhaps what sticks out most is the :25 3/5 opening quarter Ariana G trotted. The daughter of Muscle Hill was always able to carry her speed and retired with a 1:50 2/5 record as well as $2.4 million career earnings. It's safe to say that 2019 represented the year that everything worked out perfectly for those who had hoped the Hambletonian Maturity would become a "Classic" trotting race. First and foremost the $450,000 event contested last year at The Meadowlands on July 13 had a field that included the Hambletonian winner from the previous year in the mare Atlanta as well as the Hambletonian Oaks champion Manchego. Trainer Ake Svanstedt had the sub-1:50 Kentucky Futurity champion Six Pack in the field as well and those three took a majority of the betting action. The 2019 Hambletonian Maturity turned out to be a spectacular race but not for the favorites. Instead it was 23-1 longshot Crystal Fashion and driver Tim Tetrick working out an absolutely perfect trip despite starting from post seven. Atlanta, the 1-5 favorite racing for trainer Ron Burke after winning the 2018 Hambletonian for conditioner Rick Zeron, was able to control most of the tempo but was unable to hold sway perhaps because of the competition or the longer distance. Crystal Fashion, trained by Jim Campbell put his nose in front on the wire ahead of a charging Custom Cantab with Atlanta crossing the wire third. The judges disqualified Custom Cantab for causing interference in the stretch and set him back to seventh. Perhaps it's the extra distance or the healthy purse for a restricted 4-year-old race that has distinguished the Hambletonian Maturity from other races but more likely it's the name Hambletonian that inspires the interest of owners, trainers, drivers and breeders. It may take an extra year for some to find the Hambletonian winner's circle but make no mistake victory is just as sweet. by Jau Bergman, for the Hambletonian Society

Milton, ON - It hardly seems like 14 years has elapsed since Rocknroll Hanover captured the Breeders Crown sophomore pace at The Meadowlands in what at the time seemed like the final chapter in the ultra-successful North American harness racing training career of Brett Pelling. Pelling was a dominant force on the East Coast and beyond from 1998 through 2005, the year Rocknroll Hanover held the spotlight in the premier division. In the Crown alone he captured 10 trophies and more than $3.8 million in earnings, ranking him high on the all-time trainers list. That the New Zealand native chose to retire and return Down Under after that season caught some by surprise, but those that knew him and entrusted their horses to Pelling were not caught off guard. "About a year before I made the move I let all of the owners know my intentions," Pelling said, recalling the lead-up to his early retirement. "It was the right thing to do and Nifty (Norman) and Noel (Daley) ended up with a lot of the horses." When Pelling decided to return to North America in 2017 and re-launch his training career in New Jersey, he expected to find familiar faces and a reasonable opportunity to succeed. When that didn't immediately happen, Pelling was put in the position to purchase horses on his own or with minor partnerships to get up and running. That was two years ago and heading into this weekend's Breeders Crown finals Pelling may not be quite where he was when his stable averaged $5 million in earnings each year, but he still seems content. "It's about quality, not quantity," Pelling said this week. "When the stable was at full strength we had about 50 horses racing and I would say another 15 possible horses that people were looking to give me." Right now, Pelling trains 15 horses while hoping to add some yearlings in Harrisburg and perhaps lose a few at the mixed sale. "A lot of the owners that were with me back then have moved on and invested with others in partnerships. I understand that completely," said Pelling. One longtime owner, David McDuffee, won a Breeders Crown 3-year-old event some 23 years ago and hopes to again be in the winner's circle with Pelling this weekend. "We go way back to Armbro Operative," said Pelling. "He's just a great guy and someone who really appreciates what it's like to have a top horse." The top horse Pelling is referring to is Papi Rob Hanover. The Somebeachsomewhere-Panera Hanover colt captured the lone Breeders Crown elimination for 2-year-old male pacers last Friday, and in the process ended the unbeaten streak of Metro Pace winner Tall Dark Stranger. The victory, a mild upset for the bettors, offered Pelling and driver David Miller the results they were looking for. "We had a bad post in the Metro final," said Pelling. "I could have taken the bye (in the Breeders Crown) but I didn't want that to happen again." Papi Rob Hanover drew inside and landed post three for the final and that suits his trainer just fine. "He's just the perfect horse," Pelling said of Papi Rob Hanover. "He's now gone every kind of trip and just performs to the highest level. A lot of people don't realize how difficult it is for a horse to make the kind of move he made last week. You're going a second quarter in :26 and change and there's really no way to slow down. The turn doesn't save you." Papi Rob Hanover did continue at a torrid clip through three-quarters but unlike his Metro elimination race where Tall Dark Stranger sat in the pocket and rolled by, in the Crown elimination Papi Rob Hanover prevailed without being threatened in a career-best-equaling 1:50.2 clocking. While many in the division were chasing some of the early stakes races, Pelling had a plan for Papi Rob Hanover - to have him ready for the Metro and beyond for this year. "He's a good eater and was carrying a bit too much weight, I think, heading into the Metro. A lot of people were surprised when I shipped him home (to New Jersey) after the Metro elimination and then back for the final. The truth is I didn't want to have to work him very hard and I thought the ship would help him drop some weight," said Pelling. The routine was not repeated after last week's victory, with Papi Rob Hanover remaining in Canada. Rocknroll Hanover sired the dam of Papi Rob Hanover, and while there are some similarities between the two as juveniles, Papi Rob Hanover has been easier to deal with claims Pelling. "I think if the horse has been on the racetrack 100 times this year I've probably only sat behind him 15 times," said Pelling. "I sit behind the horses that are having problems or need changes." Winning this Crown is no doubt a big thing for the trainer. "It's something you look forward to and no doubt a race that means a lot to me to win," said Pelling. "But to be honest, I hope he wins it for Dave McDuffee." When Pelling left after 2005 many of his horses went to Norman and Daley. Last year when Noel Daley decided to go back home, he returned the favor in part and thus Pelling took over the training of Caviart Ally, second choice in Saturday's $300,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park. It's been a solid season for the 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight with seven wins and seven seconds in 16 trips to post. Caviart Ally has ended up on the short end of the stick against division leader and Horse of the Year contender Shartin N for most of the year. Pelling obviously doesn't see that much separating the two in talent, and recalls the battle the two waged in the Betsy Ross back in May at Harrah's Philadelphia as an epic struggle that perhaps left him and his mare frustrated for quite some time. Driver Andrew McCarthy left out aggressively in the Betsy Ross to the tune of a :25.2 opening quarter forcing Shartin N to tuck in behind. With that accomplished, Caviart Ally was able to back peddle the second quarter in :30 and put the pocket sitter in a tough position. Tim Tetrick vacated the pocket with Shartin N and the two mares kicked a third quarter in :26.1, with neither giving ground. The war continued right to the finish wire with Shartin N winning by a neck in a 1:49.2 mile. While Pelling always believed in Caviart Ally, the results week in and week out painted her as a bridesmaid until the two met again in the Allerage Farms Mare Pace at The Red Mile on Oct. 6. This time Caviart Ally drove past the pacesetting Shartin N to win in a 1:48.3 clocking. "I wouldn't call it getting a monkey off my back," said Pelling of Caviart Ally's victory. "It was a gorilla." Pelling has enormous respect for Shartin N and recognized the favorite on Saturday (post one) had not raced competitively in five weeks prior to the Allerage. Ironically the two mares met last Friday in a qualifier at The Meadowlands. Pelling didn't seem too concerned that Shartin N won that event. "I was happy with her qualifier," said Pelling of Caviart Ally's 1:51.2 clocking. "It just worked out well for me logistically to have her down here and get work in. I'll go with her and ship up on Thursday (Oct. 24)." Pelling hopes that it won't just be a two-mare battle in the Crown final. "I think Youaremycandygirl and Kissin In The Sand are both top mares that will want to get involved," Pelling said. Caviart Ally's last start at Woodbine Mohawk Park was a command performance victory in the Milton Stakes, where she scored in 1:48.3 with a final half in an eye-popping :53.3. A lot has changed in harness racing since Brett Pelling last trained a Breeders Crown winner. One thing that has not is his dedication to the details and preparation. He's come to the Crown with quality. Breeders Crown finals for 2-year-olds are Friday at Mohawk. The finals for 3-year-olds and older horses are Saturday. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) both nights. The Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership is the presenting sponsor of this year's Breeders Crown. For Friday's entries, click here. For Saturday's entries, click here. by Jay Bergman, for the Breeders Crown  

In August there were five active harness racing Hambletonian winners in training and racing throughout North America and in Europe, probably the first time that has occurred in the 94-history of the race. It's an astounding number when you consider the factors involved in just reaching the Hambletonian.   As the stage turns to Saturday's Breeders Crown finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park, three of those horses have been entered, along with a host of past Dan Patch winners and returning Breeders Crown champions.   The Standardbreds may be going much faster than they once did but the idea that they have become less durable over time is just not the case. In fact longevity comes with the breed and the fact that our horses not only race for many years but they race at a high level is a testament to their resilience.   Trainer Mike Keeling who along with his wife Paula Wellwood have campaigned 2016 Hambletonian winner and Triple Crown champion Marion Marauder speaks with nothing but adulation about the son of Muscle Hill.   "He knows how to take care of himself," said Keeling giving part of the reason Marion Marauder, now a 6-year-old, is still at the top of his game.   "He's the type of horse that could be going along at 35 second clip and then shift gears and be going 27. His gait doesn't change."   While there have been stops and starts along the way after a spectacular 3-year-old campaign Keeling thinks the one constant that has kept Marion Marauder at this level is soundness.   "For a horse to race at this level they've got to be sound," Keeling said. "I think with him it all starts with his gait. He's easy on himself."   Marion Marauder was not at his sharpest earlier in the campaign but after a bout with sickness following the Maple Leaf Trot Keeling believes he's reached peak form.   "He's the kind of horse that you can tell by his demeanor if he's going to have a good race," said Keeling about an hour before the $1 million International Trot.   "He felt really good out there warming up today." Keeling was right on the money as Marion Marauder was a solid closing third in the 1 and ¼ mile contest.   Marion Marauder's longevity also may have something to do with racing style. Unlike so many of today's premier performers Marion Marauder is at his best when raced off the lead and not asked to make multiple moves. It's something that Keeling is acutely aware of.   "He just can't go those 27 quarters back-to-back," said Keeling. "We've been thinking about racing him in Europe for a while and we may end up doing it next year. The style of racing may suit him better than in North America."   Marion Marauder went up against Atlanta in the International and will again be racing against last year's Hambletonian winner in the Breeders Crown Trot. As a 4-year-old Atlanta has managed to exhibit the brilliance she displayed as a sophomore once again defeating male competition on her way to a fabulous campaign. Though blessed with flashy speed it is no accident that driver Yannick Gingras has often said that Atlanta is a much better horse when coming from behind. Perhaps that's the long-term strategy that could keep Atlanta at the top of this division for a long time.   Just recently the 2015 Hambletonian winner Pinkman was retired after a splendid career, following a successful sophomore season that ended in divisional honors. Though the son of Explosive Matter would only win three races in the years that followed he was always raced at the highest level and was generally competitive no matter the circumstances.   Perfect Spirit, the 2017 Hambo winner is currently campaigning in Europe two years after his greatest victory. The durability of the breed is not top weighted just to trotters as shown most admirably by the defending Horse of the Year McWicked. His trainer Casie Coleman is a staunch defender against "age" discrimination and rejects those who even attempt to suggest the 8-year-old has lost a step.   "The mile he went in the mile and an eighth distance race at The Meadowlands against Lather Up was the fastest he's ever paced," said Coleman in reference to the Sam McKee at The Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day where McWicked finished third in a 1:59 2/5 clocking for the added distance.   McWicked looks to go over the $5 million mark in career earnings on Saturday night in his seventh year on the racetrack.   "He's just an extremely smart horse," said Coleman of McWicked. "You go out there and jog him and he knows when it's the last lap. He's a bit lazy but you don't want to be easy on him."   Coleman says that McWicked is of course well taken care of with monthly trips to the vet to keep him healthy. She also suggests McWicked benefits from regular sea salt spa treatments.   "He has no major lameness issues," Coleman said.   McWicked in some ways like Marion Marauder has survived this long by predominantly going against the grain. He's able to race on the front but that's not where he generally races. In winning for the second straight year in the Dan Rooney at Yonkers McWicked came first up without cover and was put to a decided disadvantage of pace and position by the pace-setter Jimmy Freight.   While appearing to struggle to keep up with the leader heading down the backstretch McWicked did what he's done so many times before-found another gear. Brian Sears called on the son of McArdle on the final turn and McWicked took over as if he knew it was time to go. That intelligence Coleman speaks to kicks in for this horse as they approach the finish wire.   If a replay needs to be shown to illustrate the definition of class in a Standardbred then rerun the footage from the September 7 $440,000 Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs. That seven of the nine horses finished within a length and a half of the winner can explain how competitive the race was. In reviewing the race it's impossible not to notice just how McWicked was having trouble keeping up with cover as the field rolled to the three quarters in a remarkably quick 1:20 clocking.   At that point the casual viewer may have concluded that it wasn't going to be his night. In the final quarter mile McWicked not only picked himself up off the canvas but he managed to squeeze between every horse and put his nose in front of an extremely crowded win photo.   You don't reach $5 million in career earnings without a desire to win, no matter the journey.   The Breeders Crown brings out the best of the breed and the fact that nine of last year's Dan Patch year-end award winners will be in the line-up this Saturday night is astounding. Perhaps even more incredible is that nearly a year after some great performances many of the same horses arrive at Woodbine Mohawk Park in peak form.   Dorsoduro Hanover, a 4-year-old that captured the Dan Patch for 3-year-old male pacers in 2018, enters Saturday Breeders Crown Open event after his best effort of the year, a 1:49 4/5 first-over victory at Woodbine Mohawk Park last week. With nearly $1.5 million in career earnings he's had difficulty making the transition from sophomore to Open class but appears ready now.   Dan Patch winner Shartin N has obviously gotten better with age and is deservedly the odds-on choice to capture her division title as well as a strong contender for Horse of the Year. Her consistency and will to win are a rare combination but durability has been a major attribute.   The 4-year-olds Atlanta and Six Pack will meet in the Open Trot with Six Pack entering the contest off a sparkling 1:49 2/5 mile at The Red Mile. He's the only trotter with sub-1:50 efforts as a 3 and 4-year-old.   Gimpanzee went undefeated as a Dan Patch and Breeders Crown champion in 2018 and though somewhat overshadowed by his stablemate Greenshoe has managed an impressive streak of victories this year including the Yonkers Trot. Gimpanzee won't be favored in Saturday's Crown finale for 3-year-old male trotters but anyone that watched his elimination effort last Saturday would expect him to be in the hunt once again.   Durability defines many of our top horses and with many of the two-year-olds that turned three comes maturity. Warrawee Ubeaut has made a name for herself and her sire Sweet Lou over the last two months and looks for back-to-back Crowns on Saturday. Whether Nancy Johansson's pair of 2018 Dan Patch winners Captain Crunch and Kissin In The Sand win Crowns this weekend or not, the fact that they have come back and been able to tough out a grueling campaign is befitting champions whether crowned or un-crowned.   Just the numbers alone that we see in the Breeders Crown this week tell the story. It's a powerful tale of horses that were meant to race and those surrounding them doing everything possible to see them excel. What we have witnessed is truly incredible and can only happen on a racetrack. The desire to race and win does not only come in human form. It is there for all to see on the hearts of our champion Standardbreds.   By Jay Bergman, for the Breeders Crown

The Hambletonian Future wager proved to be an extreme value play for those following and cashing in on the race winner Forbidden Trade.   The son of Kadabra captured the $1 million event at The Meadowlands in dramatic style returning $33.80 to win for those placing wagers close to post time. In the four separate Future wagers heading into the first jewel in Trotting's Triple Crown sharp players saw profits rise from the opening wager until the last. Forbidden Trade returned $22 in the first pool that closed with just $1,810 wagered in total. Price shoppers struck gold in the second pool when Forbidden Trade's backers were rewarded with a $103.60 payout, more than triple his post time odds. Forbidden Trade was still an overlay in the third Future wager with a $40.20 payout. The Hambletonian Future wager got significantly more traction as the race got closer to post time with $13,304 wagered in the fourth pool. Sharp players who backed the Ontario-sired colt trained by Luc Blais and driven most ably by Bob McClure took in $57.80 for a $2 wager nearly double the post time payoff. by Jay Bergman for the Hambletonian Society

East Rutherford, NJ -- Mission Accepted and driver Yannick Gingras converted on a perfect pocket trip to capture the $60,000 Vincennes Trot on Saturday afternoon (Aug. 3) at The Meadowlands.   The 4-year-old by Manofmanymissions scored in a 1:50.2 clocking, his fastest in 16 career victories.   Mission Accepted left strongly from the start and cleared the lead before the :26.4 opening panel. Gingras allowed Lindy The Great to secure the top on the backstretch, and that one carved out middle fractions of :54 and 1:22.1 in front of a stalled outer tier.   Mission Accepted rallied from the pocket into the stretch and drew off from former Hambletonian winner Pinkman, who had to settle for second. World champion Homicide Hunter put in a solid late rally, just missing the place spot and settling for third.   Ron Burke trains Mission Accepted for owners Knox Services Inc. and David Willis. Sent off as a 5-1 offering, Mission Accepted returned $12.60.   Favorite Rich And Miserable made a break early in the race and was no factor.   Of note, the first- and third-place finishers -- both trained by Ron Burke -- raced without shoes in the Vincennes.   by Jay Bergman

East Rutherford, NJ — Heavy public choice Evident Beauty marched to the front for harness racing driver David Miller and never looked back, scoring in the $124,000 first division of the Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old trotting fillies at The Meadowlands on Saturday night (July 13).   The New Jersey-bred daughter of Trixton stopped the timer in 1:52.3, equaling her lifetime best.   Evident Beauty, trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman for owners Melvin Hartman, Little E LLC and RAW Equine, displaced Beautiful Sin from the lead at the :28.3 opening quarter. From there a soft :57.3 half gave the 1-5 favorite the confidence she would need. Cloud Nine Fashion and Tim Tetrick made a strong coverless challenge at the half and looked on the verge of going by the favorite through three-quarters timed in 1:25.3.    But once into the homestretch, Evident Beauty was driven by Miller and found her best stride to turn back Cloud Nine Fashion with a :27 final quarter.   Miss Trixton finished third behind the winner, who returned $2.40 as the prohibitive favorite.   "I felt pretty confident," Miller said after the second-half duel. "My mare held strong."   The $126,500 Del Miller division saw Millies Possession remain undefeated, capturing her seventh straight career outing in impressive fashion. The Fashion Farms LLC homebred by Possess The Will scored in 1:53.2.   Dexter Dunn rated Millies Possession in the early stages, allowing Starita to cut fractions of :28.1 and :57.3 before taking any interest. Dunn moved up methodically as Sears and Starita hit three-quarters in 1:26 and were in control. But in the homestretch, Millies Possession just kept eating up ground and devoured the leader, eventually drawing clear with a :27.2 final quarter. Queen Of Trixs was airborne in closing late for second, with The Ice Dutchess finishing third.   Also sent off as the public choice, Millies Possession returned $3.00 to win.     "I knew we were going slow, but at the moment she seems to overcome these kind of trips," said Dunn of Millies Possession, who last week was parked the mile winning the Reynolds and followed it up with another overland journey.   The victory capped a huge night for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms, who captured the $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity earlier in the night with Crystal Fashion. by Jay Bergman, Meadowlands Media

East Rutherford, NJ -- An extra eighth of a mile can make the difference, and that seemed to be the case when 23-1 shot Crystal Fashion drove by heavy harness racing favorite Atlanta nearing the wire to capture the $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-olds at The Meadowlands on Saturday night (July 13) for driver Tim Tetrick.   The outcome of the race appeared to go through the 1-5 favorite Atlanta, as Yannick Gingras got her away in third in the early stages while Crystal Fashion wrestled the lead from Custom Cantab through a :26.1 opening quarter. Gingras hit the accelerator, and Atlanta hustled to the front after the opening fraction. Atlanta appeared in complete command through a half in :55 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:23.1, with Manchego on the offensive but Gingras appearing relaxed and ready to sprint home.   The fourth quarter had Atlanta leading through a 1:50.2 mile, but the mare started to bear out, enabling Tetrick and Crystal Fashion to find room along the pylons to go by the favorite. Custom Cantab and David Miller flew to the finish and came up just a nose off the winner, with Atlanta third past the finish line. However, a judges' inquiry into the race revealed that Custom Cantab had in fact interfered with three horses -- Phaetosive, Fiftydallarbill and Six Pack -- and was placed behind them as a result. The revised order of finish elevated Atlanta to second, with Six Pack placed third and Manchego fourth.   Crystal Fashion is a 4-year-old gelding by Cantab Hall trained by Jim Campbell for Fashion Farms LLC of New Hope, Pa. Sent off at 23-1, Crystal Fashion returned $48.20 in his third win of the season in seven starts.   "I wanted to be forwardly placed," said Tetrick following the victory. "I followed Atlanta last week and it didn't work out. I thought the extra distance would help my horse."   Crystal Fashion completed the mile and one-eighth distance in 2:04.3.   by Jay Bergman, Meadowlands Media

ANDERSON, Ind. - Downbytheseaside got back on the winning track Saturday night, taking the first of two harness racing $25,000 eliminations for the Breeders Crown sophomore pacing male division at Hoosier Park. Driven by Brian Sears, Downbytheseaside led virtually wire-to-wire winning in 1:51.1. A son of Somebeachsomewhere from the Allamerican Native-sired mare Sprig Hanover, Downbytheseaside was able to rate fractions kindly after a :27.3 opening quarter. There were no challengers, allowing Sears to coast through fractions of :57 and 1:24.3 before sprinting home in :26.3 to win by a length over Boogie Shuffle. A $55,000 yearling purchase from the 2015 Lexington Selected sale, Downbytheseaside won for the 18th time in his career for owners Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo and Diamond Creek Racing Stable. Brian Brown conditions the colt. "He was having problems with his liver enzymes," said Brown. "Cranberry juice has been helping the horse." An even-money favorite, Downbytheseaside returned $4 for the victory. Joining him in next week's final will be runner-up Boogie Shuffle, Photobombr Hanover, Miso Fast and Ocean Colony. Downbytheseaside The second elimination was the wildest race of the night as 28-1 shot Rock N Tony, an Indiana-bred son of Rockin Image from the Cole Muffler-sired Pandemonious, pulled off a major upset that saw both favorites - Little Brown Jug winner Filibuster Hanover and North America Cup champion Fear The Dragon - fail to qualify for the final. Rock N Tony scored in 1:50.2 for driver Trace Tetrick. With the favorites racing from off the pace, Blood Line and Rock N Tony both blasted to the front in a :27 opening quarter with Blood Line able to walk to the half in :55.4. That set up a second-half sprint that led to the Indiana Sires champion finding room along the inside and score by a length over Blood Line. Erv Miller trains Rock N Tony, a $49,000 yearling purchase from the Hoosier sale for owners Anthony Lombardi and Rocco Ruffolo. "I expected him to be good. That's why I entered him," said Miller. "He was plagued with sickness about a month ago, but he's over that now." Following Rock N Tony and Blood Line into the final will be Beckhams Z Tam, Mac's Jackpot and the supplemental entry Funknwaffles. Rock N Tony returned $58 to win. Rock N Tony By Jay Bergman, for Breeders Crown

ANDERSON, Ind. - Lost In Time, the top-rated freshman pacing colt, made it look easy in the first of three harness racing $20,000 eliminations for the Breeders Crown on Saturday night at Hoosier Park. With Scott Zeron in tow, Lost In Time was an easy winner in 1:52 4/5 as the 2-5 public choice. Lost In Time, a son of A Rocknroll Dance from the Artiscape-sired dam Summer Mystery, left belatedly and overtook early leader This Is The Plan past the :27 opening quarter. Zeron efficiently shut down the middle half and then put the Jim Mulinix-trained colt in gear for the homestretch. A :26 4/5 final quarter secured the victory with This Is The Plan second, 1¼ lengths behind the winner. Lost In Time, a $47,000 yearling purchase at last year's Lexington Selected auction, returned $2.80 to win. He's owned by A Rocknroll Dance Racing, D. Miller, W. Rufenacht and Team S Racing. Lost In Time, the Metro Pace winner, has now taken four of six starts in his first year of racing. "There's a huge headwind tonight and the fractions worked out perfectly," said Zeron following the victory. Keystone Tenacious rallied late for third, earning a berth in next week's final. Lost In Time Patience paid off for driver Doug McNair in the second Crown elimination for juvenile colts as Stay Hungry nosed out Indiana-bred Shnitzledosomethin on the wire in a brisk 1:50 4/5. There was plenty of early activity with Grand Teton taking control at the quarter in :26.1 and cutting a swift clip for Mark MacDonald. Shnitzledosomethin sat in the pocket throughout but came out at headstretch and easily disposed of the leader. Stay Hungry was sitting third throughout but in midstretch Doug McNair was able to find a seam and the son of Somebeachsomewhere from My Little Dragon (Dragon Again) drove by him as they hit the wire. A $150,000 yearling purchase from the Lexington Selected sale by trainer Tony Alagna for owners Bradley Grant and Irwin Samelman, Stay Hungry has now won five of his seven starts in his brief career. "He's much better off a helmet," said Alagna after the race. "Doug (driver McNair) said he was never better. He exploded when he popped the plugs." Whos Bettor came through inside to finish third with Western Passage wide in fourth. Western Passage earned a berth in the final as the high earner among the fourth-place finishers. Sent off at 5-2, Stay Hungry returned an even $7 to win. Stay Hungry Driver David Miller was aggressive with Karpathian Kid and that paid off handsomely in the final elimination. The Erv Miller-trained colt scored in 1:51. Karpathian Kid made a second move to regain past the :26.3 opening quarter from I'm A Big Deal but was immediately under pressure from Closing Statement with Brian Sears. That colt took control at the half and kept up a lively clip. In the homestretch, Closing Statement bore out opening the door for Miller and Karpathian Kid to squeeze through and score by a length over Closing Statement with Dorsoduro Hanover finishing third and advancing to the final. Karpathian Kid is a homebred son of Somebeachsomewhere from Vysoke Tatry, a daughter of Dragons Lair. The winner is owned by D. & J. Prushnok, D.J. Miller and L. Means. "The trip worked out well," said Miller following the race. As the favorite in the field, Karpathian Kid returned $3.40 with his fourth career win in 11 starts. Karpathian Kid By Jay Bergman, for Breeders Crown

ANDERSON, Ind. - Manchego continued her unbeaten ways capturing the second of two $20,000 Breeders Crown eliminations for harness racing juvenile trotting fillies Friday night at Hoosier Park. Yannick Gingras was in the sulky for the victory, which was clocked in 1:54.1. Gingras and Manchego floated out at the start and allowed rail-starting Looking For Zelda to take control of the race and cut the opening fraction of :27.3. Manchego was rated to take command after the first three-eighths and was able to set well-rated fractions sprinting off in the late stages for her 11th win in as many career starts. Lily Stride went a brave trip racing much of the mile without cover to gain the second spot, though a full 2½ lengths off the winner. A $120,000 yearling purchase by Black Horse Racing, John Fielding and Herb Liverman from last year's Lexington Selected auction, Manchego is a daughter of Muscle Hill from the Cantab Hall-sired mare Secret Magic. Asked about the threat to Manchego at headstretch, trainer Jimmy Takter offered this: "It would take one heck of a filly to go by this filly," he said. "So far, we haven't seen anyone." Manchego, a 1-20 proposition, returned $2.10 for the victory while pushing her career bankroll to $573,948. In addition to the winner and Lily Stride, Top Expectations, S M S Princess and Looking For Zelda all advanced to next Friday's finale. By Jay Bergman, for Breeders Crown    

ANDERSON, Ind. - Youaremycandygirl captured the second $20,000 Breeders Crown elimination for harness racing 2-year-old pacing fillies with an eye-catching 1:51 victory at Hoosier Park Friday night. Yannick Gingras guided the daughter of American Ideal to the score. Stablemate Strong Opinion and Matt Kakaley bolted to the :26.2 opening quarter lead but Youaremycandygirl, the 1-9 betting choice, shunned an early tuck and drove to take command between the first- and second-quarter mark. From that point the Ron Burke-trained filly cruised to victory easily holding off runner-up Reign On Me by a half-length. A $150,000 yearling purchase from last fall's Harrisburg auction, Youaremycandygirl is owned by W J Donovan of Delray Beach, Florida. "She was a little excited tonight," said Gingras after the race. "I heard the other filly (Reign On Me) and I asked her. She's a very honest filly." Youaremycandygirl won for the sixth time in eight career starts, which includes an impressive score in the Shes A Great Lady at Mohawk. Joining Youaremycandygirl in next Friday's Breeders Crown finale for juvenile pacing fillies will be Reign On Me, along with Strong Opinion, Pueblo Blue Chip and Im With Her. The overwhelming betting favorite Youaremycandygirl paid $2.20 to win. by Jay Bergman, for Breeders Crown

ANDERSON, Ind. - Nike Franco N cruised to victory in the second $25,000 elimination of the Breeders Crown Mares Pace Friday night at Hoosier Park. Tim Tetrick guided the 2-5 harness racing favorite to a 1:51.2 score. Call Me Queen Be took the lead early but Nike Franco N was able to regain command past the :26.2 opening quarter and then set even fractions of :55.3 and 1:24 with Medusa offering token pressure. In the stretch, Nike Franco N cruised to a handy victory with her :27.2 final quarter putting her 2¼ lengths ahead of runner up Bedroomconfessions at the wire. Owned by Richard Poillucci of North Easton, Massachusetts, the 7-year-old by McArdle mare was a winner for the 29th time in her 52-race career. Jim King Jr. trains Nike Franco N. "She's just a sweetheart," said Tetrick. "She's just as good on or off the pace. When they let her go 1:24 to the three quarters, she likes that, too." Nike Franco N returned $2.80 to win. Joining the top pair in the October 27 Breeders Crown finale will be L A Delight, Seventimesavirgin and Sassa Hanover. Post positions for the final: 1. L A Delight 2. Pure Country 3. Nike Franco N* 4. Darlinonthebeach* 5. Windsun Glory 6. Bedroomconfessions 7. Sassa Hanover 8. Lady Shadow 9. Seventimesavirgin 10. Blue Moon Stride AE1. Medusa AE2. Wrangler Magic   *Elimination winners draw from posts one through five. Nike Franco N By Jay Bergman, for Breeders Crown    

It's hard to believe that one race could make such an enormous difference, but to harness racing trainer Trent Stohler, being part of Extreme Velocity's upset victory in the 1997 Breeders Crown Mare Pace was a life changing experience. Stohler will start Rock On Ladys in an elimination of the Breeders Crown 2-Year-Old Filly Pace on Friday at Hoosier Park, but the memory of his first Crown experience is still fresh, 20 years later. "I was doing pretty well driving in Indiana," Stohler said, "But because of Extreme Velocity and the people I was able to meet traveling with her to the Meadowlands and to Ontario, it changed my life and my career." Stohler recalls that the trip to the Meadowlands prior to the 1997 Breeders Crown by no means meant the horse, owned by his father Kenneth and uncle Merrill, would participate in the actual event. "They had paid the supplement to make her eligible for the Breeders Crown," said Stohler of the decision to nominate the once-beaten 4-year-old mare that had dominated in Indiana as a sophomore. "But when they sent her to the Meadowlands they were just trying to see how she fit." The good news for Stohler and Extreme Velocity was that they put John Campbell up to drive her. "John came back and said that we had to put her in the Breeders Crown and that she deserved a shot." The Extreme Velocity story is one of extremely humble beginnings and that of two brothers, who, upon retiring from years of work at General Motors, decided to breed a mare of somewhat questionable pedigree. "They owned the mare together and raced her," said Stohler of Hasty Grand Slam, a mare that raced 20 times total as a 3- and 4-year-old and won exactly once with $1,617 in career earnings. "Hasty Grand Slam was a mare with a lot of heart," said Stohler. "She broke a knee and they decided to breed her." The brothers proved right about the mare as her first seven foals all made the races; included in that group was Smartdecision, a son of The Denman who scored in 1:53 3/5 as a 2-year-old at The Red Mile in 1991. But it was the mating with Camtastic that yielded Extreme Velocity. The filly trained down very well as a 2-year-old before beginning to sore up late in the training sessions. "They decided to stop with her and give her time to mature," said Stohler. As a relatively small stable back then, the Stohlers returned Extreme Velocity to training for her 3-year-old season, but were pretty much unable to assess just how good the filly was. "We really didn't have anyone to train her against to get a feel of just what kind of horse she could be," said Stohler. "One day I was talking to Ernie Gaskin, I had worked for him for a few years and I noticed that he had an Open horse (at Hoosier Park) that had missed a week and that he was going to go a big training trip with. I asked him if I could tow along with Extreme Velocity." That training trip let Stohler know just what kind of horse he was sitting behind. "I tracked Ernie's horse into the stretch and when Extreme Velocity pulled out, she finished right with him." In 1996, Trent drove and trained Extreme Velocity to 15 wins in 16 starts. "She never lost a race at Hoosier Park that year," said Stohler. Her lone defeat came at Fairmount Park in Open company. It was the end of the 3-year-old campaign and the first meeting with John Campbell at Garden State Park that gave the family confidence that Extreme Velocity belonged. "When we took her out east to Garden State Park it was perhaps the first time we realized how good she was," said Stohler recalling the late closing series in the fall that Extreme Velocity captured. Stohler drove her in the final, but Campbell sat behind her on one victorious occasion. That Stohler was driving or training Extreme Velocity so late in her sophomore season was a turning point as well. "They were offered $200,000 for her during the Lexington Grand Circuit that year," said Stohler, who remembered clearly what was at stake. "Since both were retiring from General Motors, they consulted with their accountant to find out exactly what $200,000 would actually come to with taxes and such. In the end they decided it would be best to continue to own her and watch her race." Extreme Velocity had developed a racing style during her 3- and early 4-year-old season as a strict closer. Stohler explained how that evolved. "It was in the early days at Hoosier Park with the long stretch," he said. "You could just sit and wait and she would chase and pass horses. Boy have things changed, it's much more aggressive today." As far as Breeders Crown day, it was one that Stohler remembers vividly. "I flew in from Indiana and got there in time to warm her up. She was really good that day, but after she won I had to run out quickly and catch a plane because we had horses in stakes at Hoosier Park that night. When I got to Indiana, a friend drove me to the airport right to the paddock. I had my colors on and when I got to the gate the guard asked to see my license. I didn't have my license on me, but I was in full colors and they finally let me in right before the horses were going on the track," Stohler said. "It was a great night. I won a few races and afterwards we were all able to have a big party." Extreme Velocity went on to career earnings of $856,070 and helped Stohler's career immeasurably. "When I was in Ontario I would run into Carmen Hie, John Hayes and so many others. I meet plenty of horsemen from New Jersey. It was fantastic and over time, when many of those would need to send horses to Indiana, they would give me a call," Stohler said. Extreme Velocity went on to be a solid broodmare in her own right, producing three open class mares in Real Velocity, Ultimate Velocity and Continual Velocity, a trio that earned over $1 million collectively. The Stohlers' Captain Velocity, a 3-year-old by Somebeachsomewhere is currently campaigning at Hoosier Park, the host of this year's Breeders Crown. For Stohler it has come full circle, as 20 years ago he was first arriving on the national scene and today, the racetrack he calls home gets its moment to share the spotlight. By Jay Bergman for Breeders Crown

In 1984, the first year of the Breeders Crown, Gaskin was an assistant harness racing trainer for legendary Hall of Fame trainer William R. Haughton. Gaskin was keenly involved with Nihilator, the stable's spectacular juvenile pacing colt who captured the hearts and souls of the Standardbred world with eye-catching victories in the Woodrow Wilson at The Meadowlands and then the Red Mile, where he was the star. "We had pretty much turned him out for the season," said Gaskin remembering that time as if it was yesterday. "Then (owner) Lou Guida called and said that this Breeders Crown was an important race and that we should go there with his horse Nihilator," Gaskin said. This was the first year for the Breeders Crown, contested throughout North America, with tracks hosting separate divisions of age, sex and gait. That call put Nihilator back in serious training and set the stage for an historic moment in harness racing. Nihilator was unbeaten heading into the 1984 juvenile pacing colt Breeders Crown held at The Meadows. There, he met another precocious colt for the first time. Dragons Lair, trained and driven by Jeff Mallett, was stabled at The Meadows and though impressive locally, hadn't shared the national spotlight with Nihilator. The $772,500 Breeder Crown 2-Year-Old Colt Pace was conducted in same-night heats and was an epic race, with the hype extremely high, especially for a race involving two-year-olds. When Dragon's Lair upset Nihilator, it set off a chain reaction of opinions and decisions that led to Guida's purchase of Dragons Lair. "Yes, it was a great race," said Gaskin recalling the loss, "But Nihilator came back the following year to win the Crown. In 1985, there were no more fireworks on the racetrack between the king and his rivals. Still, the memory of that one race gave the fledgling Breeders Crown the opportunity to give the sport the attention it deserved and give owners, trainers, breeders and drivers a showcase event to determine a champion. In 1984, Gaskin was a key assistant trainer in the impressive Haughton stable. He had begun as a groom for Haughton in 1974 and advanced up the ladder when The Meadowlands opened in 1976; among his charges were top older trotters Cold Comfort and Keystone Pioneer. While 1984 has many memories for Gaskin because of his close connection to Nihilator, he was also at the cutting edge of a dramatic shift in the sport. The use of catch-drivers, independent contractors who stepped into the sulky before a race and stepped off after, with little to no impact on the rest of the horse's training, had become more and more widespread in a sport that originated with trainers driving their own horses. "When Billy (Haughton) called me and told me to put (Hall of Famer Bill) O'Donnell down to drive Nihilator, I was shocked," said Gaskin. The moment resonated in the history of the sport, because, in spite of his age, Haughton was considered a master in the sulky. He was admired by many of the catch drivers amassing the headlines. "Billy said to me that he'd rather put one of those guys down to drive his horse than have one of them beat him," Gaskin said, with a clear understanding of the reason for Haughton's decision. "I can remember Billy Popfinger coming up to me and warning me not to make the change," Gaskin said. Gaskin's admiration for Haughton, who ran the sport's largest and most successful stable before his death in 1986, was immense. "He had an incredible personality. He knew how to talk the right way to everyone. It was amazing that he could be speaking to, say, a George Steinbrenner one minute and then a groom the next and not change at all," said Gaskin. Gaskin stayed on with the Haughton stable after Bill's death, helping son Tommy achieve Breeders Crown championship status with the incomparable mare Peace Corps. "She had a ton of speed, but Tommy and I were actually looking to trade her for a pacer we were interested in while she was training down for her 2-year-old season," said Gaskin. "Peace Corps had incredible speed. In the Merrie Annabelle, she almost went to her knees, but somehow came back trotting to win." Peace Corps captured the Crown as a two and three-year-old with Gaskin and the younger Haughton teaming up. The Haughton stable gave Gaskin a foundation, and his love for the breed became part of the effort in Indiana to bring pari-mutuel racing to the state. He helped lead the drive to passage of enabling legislation in 1993. Soon after came Hoosier Park, site of this year's Breeders Crown championships on October 27-28. "It's really been incredible what has happened in Indiana," said Gaskin, who was appointed by the Governor in August of 1994 to the Standardbred Breed Development Advisory Commission. From the birth of pari-mutuel racing 23 years ago, to hosting the Breeders Crown, appears to be a long journey. Yet, those who know the time it takes to build an effective breeding program are astonished how quickly Indiana has made a remarkable impact on the sport. "When you see horses like Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki and Hannelore Hanover, it says a lot about what we were trying to accomplish as far as breeding development," Gaskin said. Household names in harness racing have emerged from Indiana, testament to hard work and determination to spread the word throughout North America -- not just about the Indiana Sires program -- but that the state can produce Grand Circuit quality horses of the highest level. Noted farms like Hanover Shoe Farms sending quality mares to be bred in Indiana is not something that happened overnight, but also something that wouldn't have happened without the correct structure and foundation of their breeding program. The success of the breeding industry is, of course, what drives the Breeders Crown and 23 years after its opening, Hoosier Park won't just be the location for the grand finales in all of the sport's divisions. While it will bring regional stars from throughout North America to Anderson, Indiana, the state also has home-grown talent to showcase and a history of exceptional state-bred performers as previous Breeders Crown champions. "I think when you look at the quality of mares that we breed in Indiana you see it improving year over year," said Gaskin. Such is the development of a program that has become richer over time and much more competitive on a national scale. Champions have been born in Indiana and will be crowned there in 2017. By Jay Bergman for BREEDERS CROWN

TORONTO --Harness racing stars Jimmy Takter and David Miller completed an incredible Breeders Crown night capturing the final event, the open pace with Always B Miki in a sensational 1:49.3 mile over a rain-soaked surface. The victory, a year removed from when the son of Always A Virgin had to be scratched from the Crown final at The Meadowlands came at the expense of stablemate J K Endofanera and Mach It So. State Treasurer and driver Chris Christoforou blasted to the early lead in a :26.3 opening quarter, but the driver was looking in the rear view mirror and when Miller came with Always B Miki on the backstretch he was anxious to yield. The half was a solid :55.2 and Always B Miki pushed it into another gear on the turn as Foiled Again attempted to come up without cover but couldn't make a dent in the leader's margin. Always B Miki hit three quarters in 1:23 and then was high-lined to the wire with a :26.3 final quarter, an awesome closing quarter given the conditions. It was the third win in as many starts this year for Always B Miki capturing the $400,000 U.S. ($518,960 Cdn) Breeders Crown and pushing his lifetime bank account over $1 million. Owned by Bluewood Stables, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter, the victory was the sixth of the 12 Breeders Crown races for trainer Takter and the fifth by winning driver David Miller. Takter now has 27 Breeders Crown victories lifetime, while Miller has 19. "He's pretty special," said Miller about Always B Miki. "It's a thrill to sit behind him and to feel his power." The 2-5 favorite in the field Always B Miki impressed the trainer as well. "He's a very unique horse. I put him in the top horses to ever compete in this sport," said Takter. Takter finished 1-2 with J K Endofanera's finish as All Bets Off earned fourth money. Foiled Again was placed fifth after being lapped on a breaking State Treasurer at the finish. As for Takter wrapping up his record night. "It was almost like 100 per cent," Takter said. By Jay Bergman

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