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Trainer Nancy Johansson might keep an eye on the racing in Canada on Saturday night, but her primary focus will be on her own horse at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Johansson's Western Vintage, one of the most highly regarded 3-year-old male pacers in North America, is the 3-5 morning line favorite in his division's $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship at the Big M. Sire Stakes crowns also will be handed out to 3-year-old female pacers, female trotters, and male trotters. If all goes well for Western Vintage, after the sire stakes final he will head to Canada's Mohawk Racetrack for the North America Cup eliminations June 7. The C$1 million North America Cup final is June 14. The final Canadian prep races for the North America Cup, three divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, also are Saturday night. The first division will go to the gate approximately 30 minutes after Western Vintage's race at the Meadowlands. "We'll be watching, but really the most important thing is that my horse does his work," said Johansson, who trains Western Vintage for owners Perry Soderberg and Marvin Katz. "I think I have the best one, so I just need to worry about him and let the others worry about themselves. I can only control what happens with my horse anyway, I can't control anything with the others." A son of stallion Western Ideal out of the mare Major Harmony, Western Vintage was purchased by Soderberg for $7,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale. Last season, he won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. Western Vintage started his 2014 season by winning the opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 17. He sat out last weekend's second round, which was won by Doo Wop Hanover. "So far I can't complain about anything with him," Johansson said. "He's sound and happy and doing his work well. We're where we want to be with him at this point." In the New Jersey Sire Stakes final for 3-year-old male trotters, Trixton is the 3-5 favorite thanks to winning the Simpson Memorial in a season-best 1:51.2 and exploding in the stretch to win the first sire stakes leg by 4-3/4 lengths with a :26.2 last quarter-mile over a sloppy track. Trixton is trained by Jimmy Takter, who is Johansson's father. Takter also has the 8-5 favorite in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly pacers, Gettingreadytoroll. And he has the 5-2 second choice in the sire stakes final for 3-year-old filly trotters, Moonlight In Miami. Julie Miller-trained Cee Bee Yes is the 2-1 choice. 2nd Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Colts & Geldings Pace 1-Doo Wop Hanover [Rocknroll Hanover], John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 8-5 2-Dancin Hill [Rocknroll Hanover], Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 9-2 3-Western Vintage [Western Ideal], Yannick Gingras, Nancy Johansson, 3-5 4-Rock Out [Rocknroll Hanover], Matt Kakaley, Steve Elliott, 15-1 5-Beat The Drum [Tell All], Brett Miller, Staffan Lind, 20-1 3rd Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Colts & Geldings Trot 1-Well Built [Muscle Hill], Jim Meittinis, Chris Ryder, 15-1 2-Skates N Plates [Revenue], Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1 3-Trixton [Muscle Hill], Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 3-5 4-Martiniwithmuscle [Muscle Hill], Yannick Gingras, Joseph King, 12-1 5-Speak The Truth [Muscle Hill], Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 5-1 6-Resolve [Muscle Hill], Matt Kakaley, Roman Lopez, 20-1 7-Sumatra [Muscles Yankee], Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 12-1 8-Odds On Amethyst [Muscle Hill], Howard Parker, Chris Ryder, 9-2 9-King City [Muscle Hill], Mike Lachance, Jonas Czernyson, 30-1 10-Lightning Force [Muscle Hill], John Campbell, Randy Beeckman, 20-1 4th Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Fillies Trot 1-My Inspiration [Chocolatier], Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 6-1 2-Mistresswithmuscle [Muscle Hill], Matt Kakaley, Nifty Norman, 30-1 3-Ravine [Muscle Hill], Mike Lachance, Bob Stewart, 30-1 4-Yoga [Muscles Yankee], Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 4-1 5-Moonlight In Miami [Muscles Yankee], John Campbell, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 6-Heaven's Door [Muscle Hill], Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-2 7-Scream And Shout [Muscles Yankee], Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter, 8-1 8-Cee Bee Yes [Muscles Yankee], Marcus Miller, Julie Miller, 2-1 5th Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Fillies Pace 1-Blixtra [Rocknroll Hanover], Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 2-Atasallrite Hanover [Rocknroll Hanover], Brett Miller, Ron Burke, 8-1 3-Sayitall BB [Tell All], Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 4-1 4-Highland Rockstar [Rocknroll Hanover], Mike Lachance, Buzzy Sholty, 20-1 5-Ideal Helen [Western Ideal], Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 30-1 6-Fanticipation [Rocknroll Hanover], John Campbell, Michael Forte, 15-1 7-Act Now [Western Ideal], Tim Tetrick, Nikolas Drennan, 9-5 8-Rockingham Park [Rocknroll Hanover], Howard Parker, Ron Coyne Jr., 12-1 9-Fiyonce [Rocknroll Hanover], Joe Bongiorno, Ron Burke, 20-1 10-Gettingreadytoroll [Rocknroll Hanover], Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-5 by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

After making a strong push to the fore on the backstretch, the Harmon Harness Racing Stable's Splitsville ($8.20) held clear in the final quarter mile, prevailing in the $14,000 Open I trot on Saturday (May 10) evening at Tioga Downs after last week's triumph.   The five-year-old Hard Rock N Roll gelding sat well off pacesetter Lutetium (Greg Merton) through initial splits of :27.2 and :56.2 before being angled wide by Jim Marohn, Jr. on the backstretch. Splitsville pushed to the front upon immediate asking, opening up a clear margin on the field as Lutetium gave way without any fight at all. Sixteen Mikes (Mike Simons) tracked Splitsville's cover into second, a position he would hold albeit 2-1/2 lengths in arrears at the wining post, while Grey Ice (Jim Meittinis) made a late bid to take third behind Splitsville's 1:54.4 mile.   The sub-featured $11,000 Open II trot saw Brookroad Knight (Corey Braden) make a first-over push on the backstretch, battling with Dough Dough (Mike Simons) on the far turn en route to a half-length 1:54.2 win.   Marohn, the leading driver at Tioga in 2013, scored a trio of wins on the 11-race card, driving Consumer Rate and J R Jazz to victory in addition to his feature win.   Live racing returns to Tioga on Sunday (May 11), with the first of 11 races on Mother's Day scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs    

Saturday (May 3) saw last year's Tioga Downs driving champion Jim Marohn, Jr. pick up right where he left off, as he swept both $14,000 feature races on Opening Night 2014 in the Southern Tier.   "The Mighty Mite Part Two" wasted no time establishing himself at the top of the driver standings, taking the $14,000 Open Trot with Splitsville ($3.90) in race one. After I Love New York (Bruce Clarke) and Grey Ice (Jim Meittinis) contested the early lead, Marohn brushed the five-year-old Hard Rock N Roll gelding to the fore with a circuit to go, pulling clear in deep stretch to a 2-3/4 length victory over Grey Ice in 1:56.2. Jaipur (Fern Paquet, Jr.), who had won his last two races at Vernon, finished third.   Marohn prevailed in the $14,000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace as well, digging in with pace-setting Southwind Trini ($17.00) to stave off a late bid from the pocket-sitting Whistys Paradise (Mike Merton) en route to a 1:53.3 victory. Asset Management (Fern Paquet, Jr.) rallied from far back to take third, just missing the second spot by a neck.   While Jim Marohn, Jr. scored another driving win with New York Attitude in a first-level conditioned trot, the sweep of the features also constituted a training double for Rob Harmon on the evening.   Live racing resumes at Tioga on Sunday (May 4) afternoon, with the first of thirteen races to begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

A pair of $14,000 Open events headline the Saturday (May 3) program at Tioga Downs, which begin their ninth season of live harness racing this weekend.   A quintet of trotters contest the first race co-feature, with Jaipur (Fern Paquet, Jr., 7-5 morning line) shipping in after scoring consecutive wins at Vernon against top trotters there. Splitsville (Jim Marohn, Jr., 5-2) and Grey Ice (Jim Meittinis, 3-1) are also in pursuit of repeat wins, returning from Saratoga after front-end victories last week. Seven distaff pacers comprise the other headline field of the evening in race six, with Rocks N Bagels (Aaron Byron, 3-1) coming in off a dominant 1:50.4 score at Vernon.   First post for Saturday's 10-race card is 5:00 p.m. EDT, with a break after the third race for simulcasting of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs. In line with Derby Day festivities, Tioga Downs will offer mint juleps, live music through the day, and will offer one lucky fan a $1,000 win wager on one horse in the Derby--with the winnings theirs to keep.   Sunday (May 4) afternoon's 13-race card kicks off at 1:30 p.m., with a $14,000 Open pace serving as the afternoon's top event. Pompano standout Prairie Jaguar (Jim Marohn, Jr., 3-1) will likely attract much attention in the six-horse Open field, but won't be without competition. Fireyourguns (Aaron Byron, 7-2) is 2-for-2 this year so far, most recently scoring a 1:50.2 win at Vernon, while Real Flight (Brandon Simpson, 6-1) and Modern Day Clyde (Mike Simons, 2-1) enter after competing in top conditioned events at Yonkers most recently.   For a complete racing schedule, handicapping resources including race analysis, race replays, and trip notes, visit   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

Fastdownthehill picked an ideal time to not only make her first harness racing pari-mutuel start, but also to score her first win in capturing a $33,075 division of the Lady Suffolk Trot at Freehold Raceway Friday. The three-year-old filly, driven by Jim Marshall, III, started from post two in the Grand Circuit event. Fastdownhill got away in second place early behind Suegrabbitnrun (Ray Schnittker) but after the first turn, Marshall sent the filly right to the lead at the opening quarter mile in :29.1. And from that point on it was “catch me if you can” as Fastdownthehill led the field past the half mile marker in 1:00.2 and the three-quarters in 1:30.3 as no one could mount a challenge against her. Fastdownhill went on to win by one and one-half lengths in 2:01 with Suegrabbitnrun second and Bella’s Spunkin (Jim Meittinis) third. Sired by Muscle Hill, Fastdownhill is trained by Donna Marshall and is owned by Robert and Regina Beinhauer of Venetia, PA and the T L P Stable of Kearny, NJ. She paid $3.00 to win as the betting favorite. In the $33,075 second division of the Lady Suffolk, Cee Bee Yes went off as the overwhelming 1/9 wagering favorite and she did not disappoint any of her backers. The daughter of Muscles Yankee, driven by Jason Barlett, rolled through fractions of :30.2; 1:01 and 1:31.1 before kicking in another gear and pulling away in the stretch to win by seven and one half open lengths in 2:00.3. Pinking Of You (Jim Marshall, III) was second with Mistresswithmuscle (David Miller) third. It was the first start this year for Cee Bee Yes, who is trained by Julie Miller and is owned by Jason Allen of Vincentown, NJ and Douglas Allen of Southampton, NJ. As a two-year-old, Cee Bee Yes won four times with earnings of $198,000. This was her first start this year and she paid $2.20 to win. By Steve Wolf, for

On paper, the $83,000 Clyde Hirt Final appeared to be a wide open race. But on the racetrack, it was anything but. Avatartist, sent off as the 9-5 favorite, made the early lead in 26.1 prior to yielding to the pocket. Driver Dave Miller made an aggressive move down the backstretch, reclaiming the lead past a 53.3 half-mile. The Buckeye threw down the gauntlet and opened up a commanding lead heading to the top of the stretch and never had an anxious moment in the stretch winning in a stakes record 1:50.1. Alexa's Jackpot rallied very well off dull cover to be second, while Wake Up Peter came from an impossible spot to be third. The winner is trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owners William Hill, Peter Harrisson, Michael Saftic and James Walker. Ironically, Avatartist is not eligible to the upcoming Whata Baron series which begins Saturday April 5th, while Alexa's Jackpot and Wake Up Peter are heading to that series next. In the $60,600 Final of The Horse & Groom, it was a perfect storm for Hldontghttoyurdrms in more ways than one. First, the 3-5 favorite Bambino Glide made a break prior to the start, never to be involved. At the start, round one winner Amigo Ranger went off-stride. Next, turning down the backstretch, with Hldontghttoyurdrms leading through a 27.3 opening quarter, pocket-sitting March Awareness broke stride, leaving the pace-setter with a six length lead heading to the half. Hldontghttoyurdrms got that half in 55.4 and three quarters in 1:24.3, while never facing a challenge and romping to an easy score in 1:53.4 for Canadian based driver Jonathan Drury. The winner had been a bit disappointing in the first two rounds of the series, but with the money down, the gelded son of Muscles Yankee got the job done. He is trained by Corey Johnson for owners Saverio Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Frank Spagnolo. Longshot Magglio was second with Crosbys Clam Bake finishing third. Scott Zeron and Jim Morrill, Jr. were the Winners in Round 2 of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Scott Zeron continues to make plenty of noise at The Meadowlands as he easily led the Phenoms from gate to wire to win the second leg of the Driver Challenge with 85 points. Zeron also won the "phenom" category last week as well. While Zeron is dominating the Phenoms, the Legends category has been a battle. Tonight, Andy Miller and Jim Morrill Jr. went into the last race each with 83 points, with first round winner Dave Miller right behind with 81 points. In the end, it was Jim Morrill Jr, with 90 points winning round 2 for the Legends. For the tournament, Dave Miller (172) leads the "Legends" followed by Andy Miller (160), Jim Morrill Jr. (158), Corey Callahan (74) and John Campbell (73). Scott Zeron (163) is cruising along in the "Phenoms" category. Joe Bongiorno (90) is a clear-cut second. Rounding out the top 10 are Tony Hall (60), Jonathan Drury (54), Steve Smith (52), Jim. Marohn Jr. (49), Vincent Ginsburg (46), Tyler Smith (45), Jim Meittinis (33) and Eric Abbatiello (22). On Saturday April 26th, the top five Legends and the top five Phenoms will qualify for the Driver Challenge Final, with the winner earning $15,000. Racing resumes on Friday with the first round of the Artistic Vision series for pacing mares, with post time at 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

Driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller dominated the Bobby Weiss Series on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as Take The Money and Perfect Alliance each stayed unbeated in 2014 with victories. Overall there were three Weiss divisions held at Pocono for three and four-year-old trotting fillies and mares, with each of those races carrying a purse of $15,000. Take The Money (Donato Hanover-Repetitions), won for the third time in three starts this year by taking the first division by 3 ¾ lengths in 1:56:1. Perfect Alliance then made it six-for-six with a victory in the final division (Credit Winner-Yalta Hanover) with a win by 6 ½ lengths in 1:54. In the remaining Weiss division Laureen (Donato Hanover-Clareen), driven by Jim Meittinis and trained by Henrik Lundell, denied the Millers a complete sweep with a victory in 1:57:1. Week in Review at Pocono Downs The 2014 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs began under sunny skies and comfortable temperatures last Saturday night, a nice break from the bitter cold that has enveloped the area for so long. Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday got downright frigid once again, but nothing dampened the enthusiasm for the start of the campaign. As we will all season long in this space, let’s take some time to honor the best performances by horses, drivers, and trainers in the past seven days by handing out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: EIGHTEEN Although there weren’t any Open paces on the card this week at Pocono, there were several top-flight condition paces which produced seriously rapid times, especially on Saturday night when the weather cooperated. Still, times under 1:50 in the month of March are rare, especially for horses who go into a race at odds of 12-1. That’s exactly what the 6-year-old stallion Eighteen was facing as he stared down a condition field of non-winners of $30,000 in the last four starts on Saturday night. Trained by Mark Ford, Eighteen had been testing himself against some of the tougher condition pacers at the half-mile oval at Yonkers prior to his arrival at Pocono. He was certainly ready to pounce from behind when the fractions got hot and heavy. In the stretch, driver Mark MacDonald called on Eighteen for a rally, and he responded with some major late kick. When the dust cleared, the son of Cam’s Card Shark blew by all of the horses who got more attention at the windows with little problem, tripping the timer at a stunning 1:49:3. It was a new career mark for Eighteen, and an early, imposing standard for the rest of the pacers on the grounds to try and match. Other top pacers this week include: Blatantly Good (Brett Miller, PJ Fraley), who controlled a condition field on Saturday night for a victory in 1:49:4; He’s A Beachboy (George Napolitano Jr., Gilbert Garcia-Herrera), who followed up back-to-back wins at Freehold with a win over a claiming handicap field on Saturday night in 1:52; and Shark Fantasy (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose win Saturday night in 1:52:3 against other three and four-year-old pacers in the Bobby Weiss series was his third straight overall. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MODERN FAMILY While the pacing side had no invitation/open-style races on tap this week, we were fortunate enough to witness a $25,000 Preferred Handicap on the trotting side on Saturday night. As expected, it was a stellar field drawn to the big purse, led by Modern Family, the 5-year-old stallion who is the pride of the Daryl Bier barn. Bier also drives Modern Family and has led his horse through a gauntlet early in the season, taking on the very best trotters at the Meadowlands and Dover Downs. Yet he hasn’t been the least bit intimidated; in six starts this year he had been in the money every time, including a pair of wins. With that kind of track record, it was no surprise he was made the 4-5 favorite on Saturday night in a rugged field of nine. Bier worked out a pocket trip behind pacesetting Daylon Magician, setting it up for a stretch battle. That’s when Modern Family delivered the winning blow, wheeling on by for a one-length victory in a time of 1:52:1 that would have been worthy of praise in the middle of summer, let alone on March 22. It made for a great start to the trotting season, which, based on this early evidence, should be quite captivating in 2014. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: First Aqua (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who dominated a field of claiming handicap trotters on Tuesday night to the tune of a career-best time of 1:53:3; Ray Hall (Tim Tetrick, Mark Harder), who won Sunday night in the first leg of the Bobby Weiss series for young trotting colts, stallions, and geldings in 1:55:3, the fastest time of the three divisions held that night; and Perfect Alliance (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), a mare whose romping win in the Weiss series on Wednesday night in 1:54 was her sixth in six tries this season. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: APPLEY EVER AFTER This pacer rallied late in Saturday night’s final race with Aaron Byron driving to send the fans home stunned, since he was a 25-1 long shot and paid off $52 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY In an ever-growing driving community, one of our regulars stood out right off the bat. Kakaley became the first driver to chalk up a five-win night in the 2014 season, achieving the feat on Tuesday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GILBERTO GARCIA-HERRERA Garcia-Herrera ended last year on a tear at Pocono, and he picked it up quickly, nabbing two wins on Saturday night on his way to four for the week. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at .by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs      

Saturday, March 22nd will begin the six week long, Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Each race on the next five Saturday programs will be a part of the Challenge, with the following format. · The driver with the most points accumulated for each team will win a $2,000 bonus. · Points are accrued as follows: o Win - 10 points o 2nd - 9 points o 3rd - 8 points o 4th - 7 points o 5th - 6 points o 6th - 5 points o 7th - 4 points o 8th - 3 points o 9th - 2 points o 10th-12th - 1 point On the sixth Saturday, April 26th, the top 5 point earners for The Legends and the top 5 point earners for The Phenoms from the first five weeks will qualify for the Final, where the Overall winner will win $15,000, the runner-up will receive $5,000, third place will receive $3,000 and fourth through tenth will each receive $1,000. For purposes of this coming Saturday, March 22nd, the drivers will be divided as follows: Legends: Dave Miller, Andy Miller, Jody Jamieson and Jim Morrill Jr. Phenoms: Scott Zeron, Tony Hall, Tyler Smith, Joe Bongiorno, Jim Meittinis, Vincent Ginsburg , Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smtih, Eric Abbatiello and all other drivers on the card. The Drivers Challenge will take place each Saturday through April 26th. Darin Zoccali

On what is likely to be Yannick Gingras' final night at The Meadowlands until after The Levy and Matchmaker Series, the Big M's leading harness racing driver went out with a driving double. First, he scored on Dragon Lore in the 5th race $9,000 C-2 Pace at 5-2. It was Dragon Lore's first start since February 22nd, but he was ready off a qualifier where he finished up in a strong in 26.4. Gingras scored down the son of Dragon Again aggressively and it paid off as Dragon Lore led at every call, winning in 1:53.2. Gingras guided the four year old home for trainer Mark Capone and owners T J Maggliozzo, S. Schachner and C. W. Duffy. Gingras also pulled off the mild 6-1 upset in the 9th race $9,000 C-2 Trot with Stonebridge Idol, who he guided to the lead down the backstretch, stealing a 29.1 third quarter and scoring in 1:55.1 for trainer David Duspiva and owner Fiddler's Creek Stables L.L.C. Gingras' 96 wins has him 29 wins ahead of Dave Miller. But with Gingras driving in The Levy and Matchmaker and Miller staying at The Meadowlands, that margin will become much tighter come The Championship Meet. Additionally, both Jim Meittinis and Andy Miller also scored two wins on the card. Racing resumes on Friday, featuring the second round of The Horse & Groom Series, with post time at 7:15 P.M. for the 11-race program. Saturday will feature the second round of the Clyde Hirt series, the $47,650 Final of The Winter Surivor Series and the first round of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge where The Meadowlands will welcome Jim Morrill Jr., Tony Hall, Tyler Smith and others to The Meadowlands driving colony. For more information, go to Darin Zoccali

MANALAPAN, NJ - January 2, 2014 - On a frigid winter's day, 80-year-old harness driver James R. Porter drove the winner of the third race at Freehold Raceway on Thursday, January 2, 2014 with a horse owned by 80-year-old Eugene Landy. It was the first career win for five-year-old Buenos Aires Lady, who paid $17 to win. The trotting mare covered the mile in 2:03.3 with Porter at the lines, prevailing by a head in a three-way photo. Porter, who turned 80 on November 12, opted to drive the mare himself because he never had problems with her breaking stride during training sessions. In their first start together, they finished second. Thursday's victory was their second outing together. Porter, who hails from Smyrna, DE, has 2,134 career driving victories but this was his first since 2011 and only the fourth time he has taken the lines in the past two years. "I just have to keep talking to her the whole mile," Porter said. "If she doesn't know I'm back there, she gets nervous and runs." Back in the winner's circle at Freehold to celebrate the victory was Eugene Landy of Freehold, NJ who turned 80 on November 6. Buenos Aires Lady, who is by Revenue and out of Fandango Hall, was born at the Landy family's Congress Hill Farm in Monroe Township, NJ. by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ      

Dave Miller, who had driven Sweet Justice to victory in his last two starts was missing from that horse's sulky tonight. That was because a horse that Miller co-owns, Aisling was entered in the same race. While Aisling mounted a strong late surge to finish a very solid third from an impossible spot, it was Sweet Justice who stole the show again. Making the lead by the half-mile marker, Sweet Justice, who was sent off as the lukewarm 2.40-1 favorite despite his recent dominance, quickly was challenged by the classy Lauderdale moving into the far turn. Those two raced in tandem as the field turned for home, and it was Sweet Justice who edged clear and fended off Lauderdale to win again in 1:54.2 with Jim Meittinis for trainer Bruce Saunders. The $25,000 Harrisburg purchase has now yielded a $31,000 dividend since the sale and can safely be called the steal of the sale. In the featured $30,000 A-2/Free-For-All Trot, 4-5 favorite Upfront Billy did not disappoint, making the lead going to the half, and never looking back. He scored in 1:54.3 with Dave Miller for trainer Mark Ford. Appomattox rallied boldly to be a strong second with Amigo Ranger finishing third. Andy Miller earned himself three wins on the card including a 24-1 upset with Helios. That was not the only longshot on the night though. Coe Leader also scored at 24-1 in race 10, capping a late pick 4 that returned a payout of $2,636.80 from the $62,808 pool. The total handle tonight of $2,593,469 yielded a 43% increase over the last time The Meadowlands raced on this date, which was in 2010. Additionally, the live handle was up 15-percent. Racing resumes Saturday with a 13-race program. Post time is 7:15 P.M and features our annual "Toys For Tots" promotion and our long-sleeve shirt t-shirt giveaway. For more information log onto Rachel Ryan  

Both Well Built and Nuncio captured their respective $27,750 elimination divisions for the Matron Stakes for two-year-old trotting colts Sunday at Dover Downs. It was all Don Dorado and driver Tim Tetrick early in the first division on as they outdueled Skates N Plates (Simon Allard) to the opening quarter mile in :27.4. Then by the half mile in :55.2 Musclesprinctonian (David Miller) came first-over with Well Built (Jim Meittinis) grabbing the second-over cover. But in the backstretch, Another Transcript and driver Corey Callahan made a bold three-wide move and looped the field to get into first-over position as Musclesprinctonian began to fade. As they passed the three-quarters in 1:25.2, Don Dorado was still in command of the race. As they came down the stretch Don Dorado could not keep up the pace and made a break leaving what looked like an easy win for Skates N Plates but Meittinis had Well Built in full gear and they came on at the finish to win by one and one-half lengths in 1:55.2. Don Dorado was third and Another Transcript took the fourth spot to make next week’s $160,000 final field. It was a lifetime mark for Well Built. The son of Muscle Hill is trained and co-owned by Chris Ryder with Robert Mondillo and paid $15.20 to win. In the second division it was Nuncio and driver John Campbell from the very start. The son of Andover Hall sped right out to the early lead with It Really Matters (Ron Pierce) following in the two-hole. After the opening quarter mile in :27.3, those two pulled away from the field and sped through fractions of :55.1 and 1:25.2. They as they started down the stretch it looked as if Pierce had It Really Matters in gear to mount a challenge but it never happened as Campbell urged Nuncio home and they won with ease by two and one-quarter lengths in 1:55.2. It Really Matters was second with Karets (Simon Allard) third and Another Depostion (Corey Callahan) fourth to make the final next week. It was the fourth win in just eight lifetime starts for Nuncio, who is trained by Scott Andrews for Stall TZ, Inc. of Vero Beach, Florida. Sent off as the 1/9 favorite, Nuncio paid just $2.10 to win. By Steve Wolf for

VERNON, NY—Well Built, Skates N Plates, JK Molly, Bikini So Teeny and Bakersfield were all divisional winners in Friday night’s $88,844 John Simpson Memorial stakes for 2-year-olds at Vernon Downs. The favorite Well Built captured the $14,396 opening division of the Simpson stake for male members of the trotting persuasion with a strong-striding 1:59.3 victory in Friday’s first race. Jim Meittinis did the steering for trainer Chris Ryder as the bay colt rallied from third at the quarter into the top spot before the half, and then remained in charge en route to a 1-1/4 length score over the second-choice, Resolve. It was the second win, coupled with a trio of second-place finishes in nine starts for the strong son of Muscle Hill-Working Girl, who has earned nearly $36,900 this season for co-owner Ryder and his partner Robert Mondillo. In the $14,396 second division of the freshman colt and gelding trot, race three, Skates N Plates front-ended his way to a 1:56.3 score over the crowd’s choice, Starsaboveallerage, who finished a half-length back in second. It was the first career triumph for the bay son of Revenue S-Pleasure Skate, who now spots a 1-2-1 summary line and earnings of $26,233 in 13 outings for owner Robert J. Key. Chris Lems did the teaming for trainer Paul Reid. JK Molly, who owns the fastest mile by a 2-year-old pacing filly here in 2013 on the strength of a 1:52.1 performance back on Sept. 6, secured her second Vernon victory and improved her performance line to 5-1-2 after 10 trips to the track following a 1:54 score in Friday’s $26,766 fifth contest. The tomboy filly advanced from second into the lead early in the mile and continued on to a front-ending 1:54 tally over the favorite, Ideal Helen. Roman Lopez did the piloting for trainer Ron Burke as the daughter of Art Major-Heather’s Western raised here career winnings to $128,766 for the 3 Brothers Stables. Fourth choice in the wagering, Bikini So Teeny turned in a career-best 1:56.4 showing in race seven, the $27,366 filly trot. Trainer Charlie Norris was at the controls as the daughter of Yankee Glide-Momsgotitgoinon gained the upper hoof going to the half and continued on to record a head triumph over the second-choice, Ruby. The favorite, Annie’s List, ended up third. It marked the maiden victory for the bay filly, who also displays a pair of second-place finishes, a third and winnings of $29,149 after 11 starts for owners Carrie Norris, Neal Goldman and Harold “Bud” Coughlin. In the $27,591 2-year-old male pace, race 10, the crowd’s pick, Bakersfield, raced like he was the best, and then proved it with a gate-to-wire 1:54 victory. Andy Miller did the honors for trainer Jimmy Takter as the quick-striding son of American Ideal-Ride The Skies dominated through splits of :28.4, :58.2 and 1:26.4 en route to a 1-1/4 length tally over second choice Beat The Drum. It was the third tally, coupled with a second and two third in 11 tries for the career-winner of more than $51,100, who is shared in ownership by the Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco and John Fodera. In Friday’s $12,000 ninth race, the week’s Open trot, newcomer Picture This rallied from third entering the stretch drive and came on in a :28.4 final quarter to defeat The Triple Lindy by a neck. The fast-closing finish resulted in the fifth season’s score and the sixth lifetime win for the career-winner of more than $305,700, who is owned by Leonard Buckner. The win behind Picture This gave trainer and driver Norris a triple during Friday’s 12-race program. Chris Lems logged his meet-leading 23rd double of Vernon’s 85-card campaign, while two win performances were also registered by Roman Lopez, and trainer/driver Claude Huckabone, III. DOWNS DOINGS The Regina Dewhurst-owned trotter Ziegler Hanover recorded his meet-leading 10th victory after a 1:57.2 outing in Friday’s sixth session. Lems drove for trainer Dave Dewhurst, who is currently second on the season’s conditioning chart with 35 tallies… The winningest pacer at the meet is Hot Cowboy with seven scores… The Downs will offer simulcast wagering on the remaining 2013 Breeders Cup thoroughbred championship races on Saturday afternoon (1:15 p.m. post time)… Saturday night’s 13-race live program, which features a $12,000 Open pace in the seventh event, will get underway with a special 6 p.m. post time… Only three live racing dates remain during the track’s 60th anniversary season that continues through Nov. 9… Vernon’s program for Friday, Nov. 8 will start at 6:45 p.m., but the card for Saturday, Nov. 9 will begin at 6 p.m…. A revised 2013, 88-program racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at Jim Moran  

The John F. Simpson Memorial stakes, a Grand Circuit event for two year old pacers and trotters makes a stop at Vernon Downs on the evening of Friday, November 1. The freshman trotting colts start the show in races one and three dubbed the "Super Bowl", with a pair of five horse fields each for a purse of $13,271. Trainer Chris Ryder has a Muscle Hill contender in each division and has an ownership position in both. Well Built has had a consistent if unspectacular campaign and broke maiden in a Vernon overnight event just last week. Jim Meittinis is listed to drive the colt on Friday evening for Ryder and partner Robert Mondillo. Muscle On In is the more accomplished of Ryder's pair, having won the Harold Dancer Memorial and NJ Futurity at Freehold this fall. He has earned more than $60,000 for the partnership of Ryder and Mondillo along with Max Wernick. Chris will drive this one from post four in the abbreviated field. Trotting fillies go for $25,716 in race seven, named for the grand dame Davidia Hanover where Ruby looks like the one to beat. She is an Explosive Matter filly trained by Erv Miller for Patrick Quaid and James Bafia who comes to the Simpson off a solid fourth in the Breeders Crown final. Meittinis catches the drive on her from the advantageous post two. The "Bret Hanover" (race ten) is comprised of six pacing colts and geldings racing for $25,341. Beat The Drum is a Tell All colt who's won a few stakes this summer, including the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs and took a 1:53- record winning a NJSS leg at The Meadowlands. He's made just shy of $90,000 for trainer Staffan Lind who owns him in partnership with Bender Sweden, Inc.  Jim Meittinis has the drive on this morning line choice as well. The filly pace, christened the "Razzle Hanover", boasts a competitive field of six with JK Molly and Ideal Helen the most accomplished. JK Molly was a factor all summer in the NYSS program, earning over $115,000 and took a fast 1:52.1 mark right here at Vernon in early September for owners the 3 Brothers Stable. Ron Burke trains and Roman Lopez has the drive on the Art Major lass. Ideal Helen has had a successful season in the Garden State with seven wins and nearly $120,000 earned for owner/breeder D. R. Van Witzenberg. She counts the Review Stakes, NJ Futurity and Babic Filly Stake among her conquests while in the care of Erv Miller. Chris Lems will plot her course from the outside. Post time is 6:45pm at Vernon on Friday. The season is winding down with just one more weekend of live racing to go. Visit the Vernon website for further information. by Nick Salvi for Vernon Downs

 MANALAPAN, NJ – October 24, 2013 – Chocolate Delight could sweeten his bankroll on Friday in the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes – Green Acres Final for three-year-old trotting colts at Freehold Raceway. The son of Chocolatier, driven by Jim Meittinis and trained by Oyvind Hegdal, has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the field of six. The gelding will leave from post three. Chocolate Delight splits his time between the racetrack and the show ring.  Twelve-year-old Victoria Hegdal of New Egypt, NJ has earned ribbons with the trotter, who is trained by her father and owned by her mother, Camilia. On the track, Chocolate Delight has three wins, two seconds and one third from 11 starts this year, banking $27,165 toward a career total of $36,225. Among his victories was the $27,000 New Jersey Futurity on October 3, posting his career best time of 1:59.3. The field from the rail out, with sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds:  Fandango Tornado, Revenue, Harry Landy, James Porter, 3-1; Order By Road, Chocolatier, Jim Pantaleano, Syl King Jr., 4-1; Chocolate Delight, Chocolatier, Jim Meittinis, Oyvind Hegdal, 2-1; Marion Mayday, Chocolatier, Kyle DiBenedetto, Syl King Jr., 6-1; Power Wheel, Muscle Yankee, Steve Smith, Gary Cameron II, 5-1 and Dagget, Chocolatier, Tyler Butenschoen, John Butenschoen, 8-1.  by Carol Hodes for the SBOA/NJ      

MANALAPAN, NJ – October 9, 2013 – Chocolate Day and Choco Sun, both by Chocolatier, are the top contenders in a $14,500 division of the New Jersey Futurity for two-year-old trotters on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at Freehold Raceway. The two will face four others in the third race while Harold Dancer winner Muscle On In takes on four others in a $14,000 division that will be contested prior to the betting card. The New Jersey Futurity is restricted to New Jersey-sired trotters and is sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. Chocolate Day, driven by Marcus Johansson and trained by Julie Miller, has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite while Choco Sun, with Jim Meittinis driving for trainer Orjan Torstensson, is the 3-1 second choice.  Both uncharacteristically broke stride in the $66,500 Harold Dancer Final on September 27 at Freehold. Prior to the Dancer, Chocolate Day defeated Choco Sun by a nose in the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes – Green Acres Final.  Chocolate Day has three wins, six seconds and one third in 13 starts and earnings of $43,555 for the Andy Miller Stable of Millstone, NJ and Arden Homestead Stable of Delhi, NY. Choco Sun, owned by Norwegian Eirik Djure, has two wins and two seconds from six starts for a bankroll of $24,885. The field from the rail out, with sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds:  Celebrity Spitfire, Muscles Yankee, Tom Jackson, Susanne Strandqvist, 6-1; Hot Type, Chocolatier, DR Ackerman, DR Ackerman, 5-1; Chocolate Day, Chocolatier, Marcus Johansson, Julie Miller, 2-1; Choco Sun, Chocolatier, Jim Meittinis, Orjan Torstensson, 3-1; Body Talk, Muscles Yankee, Rick Zeron, Rick Zeron, 4-1 and Clavicle Hanover, Muscles Yankee, Vincent Ginsburg, Ned Urbanski, 8-1. Harold Dancer winner Muscle On It, who has three victories in nine tries, drew the rail in the non-wagering division.  Daniel Dube will drive the son of Muscle Hill for trainer Chris Ryder.  Muscle On In has earned $52,665 for co-owner Ryder and his partners Robert Mondillo of Delaware, OH and Max Wernick of New City, NY. The competition includes Yoga, a daughter of Muscles Yankee, who has four wins in five starts, including three divisions of the Kindergarten Series and a division of the Historic Stakes.  Jimmy Takter trains and drives Yoga who races in the name of Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ and brothers John and Jim Fielding of Toronto, Ontario. The field, from the rail out, with sire, driver, trainer:  Muscle On In, Muscle Hill, Daniel Dube, Chris Ryder; Skates N Plates, Revenue, Jim Marshall III, Paul Reid; Angels Ransom, Revenue, Roland Mallar, Roland Mallar; Yoga, Muscles Yankee, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter and Valbrunella, Muscles Yankee, Rick Zeron, Rick Zeron. There are three fillies in the Futurity --  Body Talk, Yoga and Valbrunella. by Carol Hodes for SBOA/NJ  

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