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Lazarus' army of Kiwi fans will be able to watch his first US start next week, something his new trainer Jimmy Takter may not be able to do. The champion pacer kicks off his North American career a lot sooner than anybody anticipated on Saturday week (NZ time) after a US$25,000 late payment was made for the now US$325,000 Dan Patch at Hoosier Park in Indiana. The race is scheduled for early Saturday afternoon on August 11 and wasn't originally going to be covered by Trackside but with the TAB wanting to support the huge interest in Lazarus, it will now be broadcast live, most likely on Trackside 2. This means Kiwis will get to see a race that Takter himself is likely to miss. The Hall of Fame trainer is going on his annual holiday next week because he, like everybody else, didn't think Lazarus would be racing yet. Takter says the trip to Indiana will involve a 10-hour transporter (horse float) ride for Lazarus. Depending on how he performs in the Dan Patch, Lazarus's next major target has been confirmed as the Canadian Pacing Derby, which has eliminations on August 25 and the final on September 1 (Sunday NZT).   Michael Guerin

ANDERSON, ID --July 31, 2018--Hoosier Park Racing & Casino is proud to announce Lazarus N, who is hailed as the greatest racehorse to ever emerge from New Zealand, will be making his North American racing debut at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino for the 25th edition of the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes on Friday, August 10. Lazarus N will be supplemented to the Dan Patch Stakes for a fee of $25,000 by Hall of Fame trainer, Jimmy Takter. Takter is no stranger to the Dan Patch Winner's Circle as he won the 2015 edition of the race with JK Endofanera and driver Brett Miller. The event is for older male pacers and restricted to the 10 highest lifetime money-earners that enter. With the supplemental fee, the Dan Patch Stakes will boast an increased purse of $325,000 for the third consecutive year. A winner of 35 of his 45 lifetime starts at the variety of distances raced in Australia and New Zealand, Lazarus N is the richest Down Under bred Standardbred of all time with earnings of NZ$3,821,066 (US$2,683,343). The New Zealand bred was named Pacer of the Year at ages 3 and 4 and was victorious in two editions of the prestigious New Zealand Cup and 15 Group One events overall. Lazarus N has only finished off the board once in his career. Lazarus N was recently purchased by world-renowned Thoroughbred farm Taylor Made Sales and Stallions of Nicholasville, Kentucky as they returned to the Standardbred world with a huge splash. The six-year-old horse arrived in the United States in late May and made his debut on the racetrack with a dazzling 1:48.3 qualifying mile on Saturday, July 28 at The Meadowlands. "It is truly an honor to have a horse as incredibly renowned as Lazarus N make his North American debut at Hoosier Park during our 25th anniversary season," said Hoosier Park's Vice President and General Manager of Racing Rick Moore. "He's taking the world by storm, and his presence at our 25th edition of the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes is a testament to the racing program we've built here in Indiana." When the nominations closed for the Dan Patch Stakes, a total of 26 of the top rated older pacers in North America were included in the lineup. William R. Haughton Memorial winner McWicked, who is currently ranked No. 2 in harness racing's weekly Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, is among the list of eligibles. McWicked has won six of eight starts while amassing $574,561 in purse earnings this season. The Casie Coleman trainee is approaching $3 million in career earnings and is currently the top horse in harness racing's older male pacer division. As an added bonus, the winner of the 2018 Dan Patch Stakes will get an automatic nomination to the 2018 edition of the $175,000 est. Hoosier Park Pacing Derby slated for Friday, September 21 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. All nomination fees will be waived but in the event the winner of the Dan Patch has already been nominated to the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, a refund of all fees will be given upon declaration. Once again, the Dan Patch Stakes will highlight the 2018 harness racing season as the best in the sport of harness racing will descend upon the seven-eighths mile oval seeking glory in Hoosier Park's premier harness racing event. As part of a weekend long festival of entertainment and racing, The Dan Patch stakes will serve as Indiana's richest harness race of the season and will be broadcasted live on Indianapolis's WISH-TV Channel 8. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

After making his U.S. debut with a 1:48.3 qualifying mile Saturday (July 28) at The Meadowlands, the next time New Zealand-bred pacer Lazarus emerges will be for real. If all goes as planned, Lazarus will be supplemented to the $300,000 Dan Patch on Aug. 10 at Hoosier Park for his first official race in North America. The event is for older pacers and restricted to the 10 highest lifetime money-earners that enter. The fee to supplement Lazarus, who earned the U.S. equivalent of $2.66 million during his storied career Down Under, would be $25,000. Jimmy Takter, who trains Lazarus for owner Taylor Made Stallions, said it would have been nice to race the 6-year-old pacer on Hambletonian Day this Saturday at the Meadowlands, but the Dan Patch was a better fit in the horse's schedule. In addition, the winner of the Dan Patch receives an automatic nomination to the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby on Sept. 21. Furthermore, in the past three weeks Lazarus trained in 1:52.2 at Takter's farm, 1:51.2 at the Meadowlands, and then qualified in 1:48.3. "Three weeks in a row he's gone up, now it gives me two weeks," Takter said. "I think (the Dan Patch) is a good spot for him. If he wins that one, he could race in the (Hoosier Park Pacing Derby). And Hoosier is a good track. It's a fast track too." Lazarus arrived at Takter's farm in late May following his purchase by Taylor Made Stallions. During his career Down Under, Lazarus won 35 of 45 races, including two editions of the prestigious New Zealand Cup and 15 Group One events overall, and finished off the board only once. He earned NZ$3.8 million. On Saturday, the stallion capped his 1:48.3 mile with a :25.3 final quarter. His time was only three-fifths of a second off Pure Country's 1:48 record for a qualifier. Driver Yannick Gingras told DRF's Derick Giwner, "He couldn't have done it any easier." Later, Takter concurred. "It wasn't like Yannick was hard on him," Takter said. "He's a heck of a horse." Lazarus is a son of Hall of Famer Bettor's Delight out of Bethany, who was sired by top Down Under stallion Christian Cullen. It did not take long for Takter to determine Lazarus was worthy of his reputation. "I could feel pretty early that he was a little special," Takter said. "You could feel it. This is not just a horse. We knew that, but you never know. He came from a totally different continent. Everything is different. I've never been in New Zealand or Australia, but everything is so different compared to our racing. You never know how they're going to do. "But a lot of these horses that have come from Down Under have done well. And he was one of the best they ever had down there." Takter was surprised by how quickly Lazarus acclimated to life in the States and proved to be ready for action. Takter decided it was time to start the horse's North American campaign sooner than later. "He feels so good," Takter said. "I'm scared to over-train an older horse. Too much training makes them a little bored at it. Especially the training I do, it's a little boring. It's like a job." As much as Takter appreciates Lazarus' talent, he is equally impressed with his disposition. "I like when you get those nice Bettor's Delights," Takter said. "They're very laid back and sweet, not a mean streak in them. They are just sweethearts. "He's such a laidback horse. He's not a horse that does anything flashy when he's training, he just goes through the motions. He takes care of himself, he's a smart colt. But when you ask him, he's serious. Very serious." Lazarus' schedule could include the Canadian Pacing Derby (eliminations Aug. 25; final Sept. 1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park), Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, Allerage Farms Open Pace (Oct. 6 at Red Mile) and the Breeders Crown (eliminations Oct. 20; final Oct. 27 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono). "I'm excited by it," Takter said. "We'll play it by ear. We're going to play it a little as it goes. It might work out pretty good." Here is the video from Lazarus N's qualifying win https://youtu.be/TOsxouUW7xk  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Lazarus’s debut in North America looks set to be fast-tracked after the Kiwi champion dazzled in his first public outing there. The two-time New Zealand Cup winner paced a 1:48.6 mile in a qualifier (trial) at The Meadowlands in New Jersey on Saturday morning (US time), beating outstanding three-year-old Lather On, winner of the North America Cup. Purchased out of New Zealand for around $4million just a few months ago Lazarus is now trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter with the aim of winning a major North American race and pacing a sub 1:47 mile to make him a dual hemisphere stallion prospect. Saturday’s performance was a hugely positive step in that direction. It proved Lazarus is fit and healthy and handling his new training regime as Takter tries to sharpen him up for the almost exclusively diet mile racing in North America. And importantly Lazarus showed gate speed in the trial, leading from the ace early before trailing and the powering past Lather On at the 400m mark and holding him easily at the line. “I couldn’t be any happier with him,” driver Yannick Gingras “told local media. “He’s very easy on himself and had tons of pace.” Lazarus’s gate speed, or perceived lack of it, was one of the concerns for the $3.6million earner when he headed to the States as it will be incredibly hard to win a top level free-for-all in North America coming from back in the field. But the way he left the mobile, cruised past a serious horse and paced one of the fastest qualifying times in history suggests he is already set to pace 1:48 when needed, probably faster. When Lazarus left New Zealand the original targets were races at the Red Mile early in October, where the track is condusive to a very fast time, and the Breeders Crown at Pocono on October 27. But he looks way more advanced than anybody expected and Takter has indicated a late entry fee could be paid for Lazarus to contest the US$300,000 Dan Patch at Hoosier Park in Indiana on August 10. His next aim could then be the Canadian Pacing Derby (open to older horses) on September 1, with heats a week earlier. If he holds together and doesn’t get struck down by the illness so many imported horses are susceptible to because of their exposure to different viruses than they are used to Down Under, Lazarus looks set for a longer and more profitable North American campaign than many would have imagined.   Michael Guerin

Lazarus N, with a :25.3 last quarter mile for harness racing driver Yannick Gingras, was able to beat North America Cup winner Lather Up, by one and one-quarter lengths in 1:48.3 in his USA qualifying win Saturday morning at the Meadowland. It was Lather Up and driver Montrell Teague who left from post seven to take the early lead over Lazarus N in :28.2. The field then raced in alignment past the half mile in :55.3 and then the action began to heat up. Approaching the three-quarter mile marker, Gingras came first-over with Lazarus N and brushed right by Lather Up in 1:23. As they came down the stretch, Teague tried to urge Lather Up to come back against Lazarus N, but Lazarus N proved to be the strong horse as Lather Up could gain no ground on the winner. Blood Line (Andrew McCarthy) was third. The last half mile was also super impressive in :53 flat. "I couldn't be any happier with him," said Yannick as he dashed off to catch a flight to The Meadows for today's Adios stake. "He's very easy on himself and had tons of pace." Trained by Jimmy Takter for the Taylor Made Stallions of Nicholasville, KY, Lazarus is the richest Standardbred of all time down under. The son of Bettor's Delight came to the USA from New Zealand, seeking to break the world record of Always N Miki of 1:46 and then become a duel hemisphere stallion, serving stud both in North America and Australasia. Lazarus N by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Despite being on the other side of the globe, Lazarus is still King. The champion pacer is gearing up for a racing campaign on North American soil in the coming months following his sale earlier this year and the charismatic stallion is still very much on everyone’s mind. And with good reason. The 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season has come to a close and the Bettors Delight entire has claimed back to back titles following another brilliant season. Lazarus amassed 304 points during the term. Points are awarded during the Grand Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing. The eight leg series which commenced back in 1977 is now worth more than $4.4 million and starts in October at Melbourne with the Victoria Cup followed by the New Zealand Cup in Christchurch, Inter Dominion (Perth), Auckland Cup, WA Pacing Cup, Hunter Cup, Miracle Mile before concluding with the Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained star becomes the first pacer since Christen Me (2014/15) to record back to back titles as Grand Circuit champion. His Grand Circuit haul during the season included the New Zealand Cup, Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup while his only unplaced run for the season came at his most recent start, finishing 7th in the Miracle Mile in Australasian record time. While Young Rufus and Smolda have been crowned previous Grand Circuit champions, Lazarus becomes the first horse from the All Stars stable to record back to back titles. Overall, he won 8 of his 13 starts while amassing more than $1.6 million in prizemoney. The All Stars stable claimed 4 of the 8 legs with Lazarus winning three events while Vincent won the Auckland Cup. The full list of Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit winners during the season were Lennytheshark (Victoria Cup), Lazarus (New Zealand Cup), Lazarus (Inter Dominion), Vincent (Auckland Cup), Soho Tribeca (WA Pacing Cup), Lazarus (Hunter Cup), My Field Marshal (Miracle Mile) and Let It Ride (Blacks A Fake Qld Championship). And the Top 5 point scorers were; Lazarus – 304 points Soho Tribeca – 205 Tiger Tara – 145 Lennytheshark – 134 Chicago Bull – 120 Congratulations to the owners of Lazarus – Phil & Glenys Kennard, Trevor Casey and Kevin Riseley.   Hoofnote – Lazarus is now trained by Jimmy Takter after being purchased by Taylor Made Stallions.   Chris Barsby

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Both of the $21,500 features at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night required the use of the photo finish camera, with the mare Satin Dancer holding off Crazshana by a nose on the trot and Juslikeaqueen rallying furiously from sixth at the 3/4 to get a neck decison in the distaff pace. Satin Dancer, a double winner in Open company at Hoosier before coming east, was sent right to the top in a 27.1 quarter over off going by driver Matt Kakaley in the trotting headliner, then got a breather to the half in 57. The winning daughter of Big Stick accelerated the tempo to the ¾, reaching that pole in 1:25.1, then had to go faster and dig deep as Crazshana narrowed in from the pocket, retaining the smallest possible advantage on the money while equaling her mark of 1:53. Travis Alexander conditions the winner, one of the big factors at two and three in Indiana as her $637,160 earnings would attest, for Summit Pacing Acres LLC (a "Pacing Acres" owning a fast trotter - they really have the winning touch!). Obvious Blue Chip tried to live up to 1-5 backing in the female pacing feature, moving to the front near the 27.4 quarter and then posting middle fractions of 57 and 1:24.4. But first-over Princess Fabulosa grinded at the leader, passed her in the stretch, then herself was caught by the flying-from-third-over Juslikeaqueen, from whom Anthony Napolitano summoned a huge last quarter while wide to take a 1:53.1 decision. Antonia Storer owns and trains the Palone Ranger mare, who now has a lifetime bankroll of $175,710. And just in case you thought that all those good Jimmy Takter trotters easily roll out of the barn all ready to go stakes-caliber miles, consider Fleet Admiral, who had a 1:56.3 win and a break in two qualifiers as a freshman, then put in two stretch breaks as a sophomore before qualifying at Pocono in 1:54.4. He made a break in his first purse start, was 16½ lengths out at the quarter, and rallied to be second, so when he broke at the start of his second race Sunday but was only 9¼ down at the quarter, he was "obviously" still in the hunt, and he again showed a giant recovery kick for driver Josert Fonseca, coming his last ¾ in 1:27.1 to win in 1:57.3 on a sloppy track. Oh, did we mention that he's a full brother to Ariana G? Hurricane Beach :51.3 to the half is fastest ever According to a detailed check of available records, the Somebeachsomewhere – Blazing Yankee four-year-old gelding Hurricane Beach cut the fastest half-mile ever in a Standardbred race mile on a 5/8-mile track, 51.3, in winning the last race on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The final time for the mile was 1:49.4, over a sloppy track, in the $17,000 conditioned pace. Hurricane Beach blasted away from post eight for driver Simon Allard, hitting the quarter in 25.2 with the field well-strung-out behind, and Allard had the horse under a hold passing the stands for the first time. The half-mile station was reached as noted in 51.3, and the ¾ was reached in 1:19.3. Hurricane Beach officially had a 10-length lead at the stretch call, and won by 7¼ lengths. A detailed list of miles which have reached the 3/4s in 1:20, while not official, has been kept, and the 51.3 clocking eradicated the former mark for 5/8-mile tracks of 52.1 set by Split The House in the 2016 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft, won by All Bets Off. The record in such a race on an “f” track for the quarter is 25.1, notched by five horses (only one of which went on to win); Always B Miki went 1:19 to the 3/4s in winning the Ewart Pace at Scioto, also in 2016. The overall harness record for reaching the half in a mile race, according to this list, is 51.2, set by Devonshire Hanover at The Meadowlands in 2006. Those with long memories about unusual records probably had a bell ring as soon as they saw a horse named “Hurricane” involved in fast fractions. And yes, Hurricane Beach is a half-brother, out of Blazing Yankee, to the Cam’s Card Shark pacer Hurrikane Kingcole, who holds the overall record for the fastest-ever clocking to the ¾ in a mile race, 1:18.2, in the 2012 SBOANJ Classic at The Meadowlands, which was won by Panther Hanover. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 21, 2018-Veteran Great Vintage (Mark MacDonald, $6.60) had to work for the lead and that worked for him Saturday night (July 21st), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. Using his usual gate speed, Great Vintage-from post position No. 5-had an early impediment in Barimah A (Brent Holland). Forced wide around that one, Great Vintage then continued to the lead, taking over from Robbie Burns N (Greg Merton) before a 27-second opening quarter-mile. Once he fronted the fray, Great Vintage finished it off (:56.4, 1:24.4, 1:52.4). Second went to a stubborn 17-10 fave Always at My Place (George Brennan), who was also compromised when an out-again Barimah A moved first-up and was his obligatory hard-to-steer self. Barimah A eventually went back in-again-leaving Always at My Place to take up the chase. Great Vintage, with a length-and-a-half lead entering the lane, defeated Always at My Place by three-quarters of a length in 1:52. Robbie Burns N was a pocket third, with Run Oneover N (Jim Marohn Jr.) and that Barimah A rounding out the payees. For second choice Great Vintage, a 10-year-old son of American Ideal owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg & Goran Falk and trained by Jimmy Takter, it was his fourth win in 11 seasonal starts (career 44-for-159, earnings over $1.24 million). The exacta paid $22, the triple returned $68.50 and the superfecta paid $281. Sunday's (July 22nd) matinee has a first post of 12:30 PM, with races 1 through 4 of the overflow-field, mile-and-a-quarter 'French' theme. The 'New York, New York Double' is comprised of Saratoga's third race and Yonkers' fifth. Post times are 2:07 PM and 2:20 PM, respectively. . by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

WILKES-BARRE, PA - A veteran harness racing pacer with career earnings of $1.3 million and a record of ability to race well over an off-track, teamed with a driver making his first career start on a sloppy track to pull off a 12-1 upset, as Sunfire Blue Chip and driver Josert Fonseca skimmed the inside pylons to take a 1:50.4 victory in a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series for fast-class pacers on Saturday night. Sunfire Blue Chip, who was beaten only a half-length over sloppy footing when third behind Captaintreacherous and Vegas Vacation in the 2013 Hempt Championship here, started from post six and took his spot sixth in the early "lineup" (1 through 7) out of the gate, but things changed radically even before the 27 quarter, as Christen Me N was already out to take the lead from polesitter and favorite Bettor's Edge, only to see that one remove to the top by the 54.3 half. Highalator came uncovered from third with Rockeyed Optimist and the mare Bettorhaveanother right behind, and when Rockeyed Optimist gapped cover Christen Me N slid out behind Highalator, with Sunfire Blue Chip and Fonseca, sixth in front of the stands, advancing quickly to find themselves in the pocket to the 1:22.4 3/4. Highalator wore down pacesetting Bettor's Edge early in the stretch, but Fonseca had his son of American Ideal flying up the famed Pocono Pike, and they beat out the game Highalator by a neck, with Bettorhaveanother, ducking back in to get out of her bad flow, closing well to miss the big end of the purse by only ¾ of a length as the 43-1 longest shot on the board. Sunfire Blue Chip, whose mark of 1:48.3 was taken in his Hempt elim just over five years ago, boosted his earnings for trainer Jimmy Takter to $1,357,440 for Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., and R A W Equine Inc. For driver Fonseca, his budding career now shows a 14-6-2-1 tally, good for a UDR of .532 - which rises to 1.000 if only sloppy track races are considered. Frpm the PHHA/Pocono Downs

East Rutherford, NJ - Trainer Jimmy Takter brought the down under sensation Lazarus out for gate schooling after today's qualifiers and the pair went a dazzling mile in 1:51 flat, the only company being two trotters that were unable to keep up and the only encouragement a few "C'mon boy" calls from the driver.   Fractions were 29.2, 57, 1:25.3, 1:51.   The six-year-old New Zealand bred son of Bettors Delight was imported by Taylor Made Stallions and is expected to contest the top older horse events for the balance of the season.   Breakfast WithThe Babies (BWTB), sponsored by Fashion Farms Meadowlands Pace Day edition, was conducted at 9:00 am under ideal conditions, no wind and temperatures of 70 degrees. Pacing colts opened the card today and Goldberg rode the Team Teague bus up from Harrington this morning then went a sensational mile in 1:51.3 for catch driver Dewayne Minor. He went right to the front, set fast fractions and closed it out in 27.3 in hand. Artie's Ideal (Marcus Miller) rallied between horses for second and Alittlewiggleroom, driven by George Teague, gained wide late for third. Goldberg is a Montrell Teague homebred by family sire Mr Wiggles and is trained by his aunt Brenda Teague. Captain McKee was a 1:53.4 winner for trainer Tony Alagna and driver Scott Zeron. Zeron afforded the Captaintreacherous colt a perfect trip behind eventual second place finisher Cub Fan (Andy Miller), tipping off that one in the stretch through the 27.2 final panel for the win. Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Brad Grant and Captain Trevor Racing gave $75,000 for the Hanover bred at Harrisburg last fall. Pacing filly Pace Baby Pace (Andy Miller) put one in the win column for her sire Sweet Lou with a 1:56.1 score for the Burke barn. She sat a pocket to Passion Struck (Andy McCarthy) through reasonable fractions then sailed by under minimal encouragement form the driver. JK Mardi Says (Zeron) rallied wide nicely for the place. The winner is a homebred for Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi, LLC. Trotting fillies came next and Sister's Promise can now be counted among the winners from Father Patrick's first crop after her effortless 2:00.4 score for Tim Tetrick. Celebrity Serena cut the mile through slow numbers and led until mid-stretch where the winner and Mother Teresa (Zeron) went by in the 28.4 final stanza. Linda Toscano trains Sister's Promise for Brittany Farms. She was a $120,000 Harrisburg yearling, bred by Fred Hertrich, III. Andy and Julie Miller won the next race with the Donato Hanover filly American Kronos in 1:58. Getting away in third, American Kronos accelerated when asked around the last bend and sailed by early leader Lindy Pearl (Zeron) through the 27.4 end to the mile. Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and David Goodrow own the winner, bred in Italy by Allevamento Kronos. Full Right (Justin Morrison) won in 1:59.1, surging by a stubborn Celebrity Stalone (Minor) in the shadow of the wire. Jim Campbell trains the homebred son of RC Royalty for Runthetable Stable. Finally Dewayne Minor doubled up for the day by driving Fearless Dreamer, an Explosive Matter colt from Bold Dreamer to a front stepping 1:59.1 win over Practical Cat (Takter). The winner is owned by Rivers Stable who gave $35,000 from the Valley High consignment at the Lexington Yearling Sale. Also of note last season's Dan Patch award winning freshman trotter Fourth Dimension went a flat qualifier in 1:52.4 for Brian Sears as trainer Marcus Melander continues to seek answers to the colt's erratic performances thus far this year. Live racing tonight at 8:00 and it's Corntastic Night!   Lazarus “schools” in an approximate time of 1:51. Last qua in 25 and change. pic.twitter.com/U2fkysunXM — Dave Brower (@eedoogie) July 21, 2018   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Trainers Jimmy Takter and Tony Alagna had the hot horses Friday night at the Meadowlands, as each conditioner sent three pupils apiece to the winner's circle. Takter swept the Early Daily Double not only as trainer, but driver as well. Susy took a division of the Kindergarten Classic for 2-year-old trotting fillies in 1:55.1. The 2-5 favorite is a daughter of Father Patrick. Tactical Landing, the 1-2 public choice, completed a $4, all-Takter double in a non-winners of two event. The Hambletonian hopeful, a son of Muscle Hill, hit the wire in 1:52.3. Takter's three-bagger was complete after 1-9 choice Beautiful Sin won a Kindergarten for 2-year-old trotting fillies in 1:55.1 in the sixth race. The daughter of Muscle Hill made it two wins in as many parimutuel starts. Alagna sent out a pair of winners in the Kindergarten for 2-year-old colts and geldings on the pace. The first was in race five, when Major Deception (a Captaintreacherous colt) scored in 1:53.3 as the 3-5 favorite. The other was with Captain Ahab (another Captaintreacherous colt), who scored as the 4-5 choice in a sizzling 1:51.1 in race nine. Tony's trifecta was capped in the 11th race when 5-1 chance (the longest shot of the night) Key West scored in a Kindergarten for 2-year-old pacing fillies in a remarkable 1:51.1. Making her second career start, the daughter of Captaintreacherous paced her final quarter in :25.4. A LITTLE MORE: Tim Tetrick drove three winners on the card, while Takter, Yannick Gingras and Andy McCarthy had two apiece. ... Marcus Melander trained a pair of winners on the program. ... Seven favorites scored on the 11-race card, with the longest two prices of the night (5-2 and 5-1) coming in the last two races to create a Late Double that came back $68.00. ... The Pick-4 pool $100,000 streak ended at four, but betting was still brisk at $90,497. ... Total handle on the card was $1,978,174. ... Racing resumes at the Big M Saturday with a special post time of 8 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

When Lazarus stepped foot upon American soil at the start of June this year it officially began the next leg of the great pacer’s remarkable journey. It was also the beginning of a growing hype from the North American and international harness racing media. Since arriving at Jimmy Takter’s East Windsor Farm in New Jersey, the enquiries have been constant. The reputation and expectation that preceded his arrival would put pressure on any trainer. But his new trainer seems extremely calm about it all. With 45 starts, 35 wins, 9 placings (he was only once out of the top three) and $3.8 million (NZ)  in earnings, Lazarus has already won two editions of his home country’s most prestigious race, the New Zealand Cup, and a staggering 15 Group One races in Australasia. But his ultimate challenge still lies ahead of him. Lazarus has been purchased by Taylor Made Stallions, who up until last year have been thoroughbred stallion owners, and are based in Kentucky. One of four brothers who own Taylor Made Stallions, Duncan Taylor grew up in the Standardbred game and decided that branching back out into the harness racing world would be a sentimental move and also a lucrative opportunity for their company. His new trainer, US Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Takter, is a Swedish native that has tasted success at the very highest level in Europe and North America. Takter trained Elitlopp winner Moni Maker and also the world’s fastest pacer, Always B Miki, and he now has his sights set on translating Lazarus into an international star. “My main goal with Lazarus is the Breeders Crown in October,” says Takter. “He has been working very well here, last week he paced a mile at home in 1.56 and did it very handily.” “I intend to go a bit quicker with him this week but I am very pleased with him. You can tell he’s a legend.” The horse has recovered from his trip and has adapted well coming from winter to spring reported Takter. “He’s been tremendous so far. There is a lot of stress that is put on a horse coming to this hemisphere. Different food, different environment, but my farm is very quiet and relaxing.” “He arrived looking great but with a little winter coat. His body was a bit confused so it took a little bit for him to adapt.  In the last two weeks I would say he has really blossomed and he is starting to look really good now.” For Takter the weight of expectation from the international racing community is nothing new, and he thrives on the challenge. “It’s not intimidating for me. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I took on Moni Maker years ago and that was the best decision I ever made,” laughed Takter. “I like the idea of taking on great horses. That’s what we work for right?” “A lot of people are asking about the horse at the moment, hopefully we are able to live up to the expectation.” Since joining the team Lazarus has made a unique impression on Takter. Who fondly refers to the horse’s characteristics during his work. “He’s got personality, he’s very cool. We train him on the straight track with a team of eight horses and he is very vocal,” he said. “He screams the whole way. He’s a funny horse.” The biggest challenge in adapting to the racing style in North America Takter feels is gate speed. “I know his racing style at home is varied and over different distances, but up here you have to have gate speed. That will be the biggest thing he will need to have to make it here but it feels like he has it. I don’t think it will be a problem.” Takter knows you can’t compare Champions from different hemispheres against each other. “I have been asked if Lazarus compares to Miki (Always B Miki) and I don’t think you can really put them up against each other. They are such unique horses.” “And that is not to put Lazarus down of course. It’s just hard to compare at this stage.” “Lazarus is more laid back and more humble. And Miki was more stallion-like. But I was so proud to be associated with that horse and the world record.” The next task will be to find a suitable catch driver for the Down Under wonder. “We don’t know who will drive him yet,” admitted Takter. “Yannick Gingras does a lot of driving for me and I think the horse would fit Yannick’s style.” “I’m not one hundred percent sure but the owners are great people and basically leave it up to me to make the best decision for the horse which I appreciate.” So what would Takter deem as a success in North America for Lazarus? “Pocono Downs is not a track where you can go under 1.46. But if he does win the Breeders Crown this horse will go down as one of the greatest of all time, not only in the Southern Hemisphere but in the Northern Hemisphere as well.” But to even get to the Crown the horse will need to trial and show he’s ready for it. Lazarus will attempt to qualify at the Meadowlands in four weeks’ time, coinciding with the close of the Meadowland racing season and their Hambletonian Day meet. “I hope we can accomplish success at the highest level,” said Takter. “I am very happy to have this horse.” “We all know how difficult it is for horses to travel and keep at their peak form.”   by Jess Smith, for Harness Racing New Zealand

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Ariana G, the 1-5 favorite driven by Yannick Gingras, led wire-to-wire before drawing clear late to a 2¾-length victory in the 27th edition of the $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity for harness racing 4-year-old trotters Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Ariana G completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 2:05 and cruised to her third win in five starts this season, posting her 24th victory in 31 career starts. Coming off a world-record 1:50 2/5 score in the Graduate Series final just a week ago, Ariana G also joins 2016 winner and Gingras-driven Hannelore Hanover (who won earlier on the Saturday card in the Miss Versatility), 1964 winner Elma and 1963 winner Spry Rodney as mare winners of the Maturity and also hits the record books as the first mare to complete the Hambletonian Oaks-Maturity double. As the prohibitive favorite, Ariana G returned $2.60 to win. "I was so happy with her performance. I was a little nervous with her nine post. She cut it close a bit down the stretch, but she is just an amazing horse," said trainer Jimmy Takter, who took home his first Maturity win. "We should not compare great horse with others. She has been so good. She is just a perfect horse." Takter said Ariana G will next race on Hambletonian Day (Aug. 4) in the John Cashman Memorial. Bill's Man, driven by Corey Callahan, was second, with Top Flight Angel and Andy Miller grabbing the show dough.   by Lou Monaco, for the Hambletonian Society

East Rutherford, NJ - Breakfast WithThe Babies, sponsored by Fashion Farms, Meadowlands Pace Day edition, was conducted at 11 am under perfect conditions with no wind and temperatures of 80 degrees. Pacers opened the card today and another precocious Captaintreacherous colt, this one the cleverly named Captain Crunch, was tremendous. In his second morning effort for Scott Zeron the pair converted a two-hole trip into a 1:52.3 win with the final quarter in 26.1. Rockin Jimmy Brown (Marcus Miller) set easy fractions going the half in 56.3, and led into the stretch but could not resist the close of Captain Crunch. Bred by Walnridge Farms and Sherri Meirs, the winner was and $85,000 Harrisburg purchase by 3 Brothers Stable, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables and Caviart Farms. Donna Victoria won her trotting filly test in 1:59.4 after a Trond Smedshammer pocket trip behind Unbelindyble (Domenico Cecere) took her into the stretch where she fanned off that rival's back and went by willingly. Unbelindyble held on for second and Brianna Blue Chip (Zeron) was gobbling up ground late for third. The winner is a Michael Andrew homebred by Donato Hanover. Jimmy Takter trains and drove Asiago to a 1:56.4 / 28.4 win from the pocket in race 3. The pair settled behind Miss You Kelly (Brett Miller) through a 59.1 half then wore that rival down through the stretch, drawing clear late on her own. Miss You Kelly stayed for second and Princee Deo (Andy McCarthy) flashed good late trot to be third. The winner is by Muscle Hill and was bred by James Wilhite, Jr who cashed her in at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for $200,000 with Katz, Goldband, Libfeld and Black Horse Racing signing the slip. Summit In Sight, a $300,000 Harrisburg purchase by Story Inc and driver Andy Miller, made a very good impression in her debut trotting home strong in 28.1 on the end of a 1:57 mile. Away second early, Summit In Sight inherited a lead when Hatikvah (Tim Tetrick) rolled off stride at the 59.3 half and went along easily winning as the driver pleased. Chiplosive (Smedshammer) was second. Willow Pond, LLC bred the winner who is from the world champion Bluff and is trained by Julie Miller. Union Forces (Zeron) won his third morning trial in as many tries, rallying from well back to collar Something Fine (A. Miller) in the stretch and went by under minimal urging in 1:59.1. Something Fine wound up on a long lead after a few broke behind him but could not resist the relentless close of the winner. Union Forces is trained by Domenico Cecere for Lindy Farms, Bob Rudolph, David Anderson and John Fielding who paid breeder Blue Chip Bloodstock $100,000 at the Lexington sale last fall. Ake Svanstedt had a winner in the sixth when he sailed by the early leaders through a fast final quarter to win in 1:57.1 with Lindy Express. Svanstedt was uncharacteristically patient early as Practical Cat (Takter) set a 59 half and 1:28.1 three panels before unleashing his colt's powerful burst in the stretch to get by that one. The winner is by Trixton, sold as a yearling in Lexington by KR Breeding, LLC to Malby Gard for $140,000. Pacing filly Odds On St Lucie (Zeron) won today in 1:54.4 / 27.1. She took over from Lovely Laura before the 59.2 half then sprinted home in 55.1 for the win. Demi Hill closed up some to be second for Brett Miller. The winner is a royally bred daughter of Sweet Lou from a sister to Captaintreacherous, sold in Lexington by White Birch Farm to Odds On Racing for $110,000. Tony Alagna trains both Odds On St Lucie and Demi Hill. Goose Bay Fiftytwo won the last of the baby races this morning for Erv (trainer) and Marcus (driver) Miller in 1:54.3 with a 27 flat final quarter. Marcus made a few moves with the Art Major colt, who had more to give each time he was asked. Onemilebrige was second. The winner was bred by Fred Hertrich and sold to Golmes, Anderson and Willinger for $43,000 at Harrisburg. The gritty veteran and Meadowlands all time trotting track record holder JL Cruze made his second qualifying appearance of the season and was again a winner, this time in 1:52.3 / 27.4 for Brett Miller. He's overcome a lot for trainer Eric Ell and looks as good as he has for a while in these morning efforts trying to find form enough to go in the August 4 Cashman Memorial. Tonight is the "Greatest Party in Harness Racing", the Meadowlands Pace complete with a BBQ contest and activities for the whole family. Live stream of tonight's full card is available free on The Meadowlands website. Post time is 6:35 pm.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands    

When news broke of the sale of harness racing's New Zealand Champion Pacer Lazarus to North American interests in May of this year, one of the biggest questions from his army of fans was who will take on the responsibility of training the great horse. After all, Lazarus had amassed an impeccable record already for New Zealand trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. With 45 starts, 35 wins, 9 placings (he was only once out of the top three) and $3.8million in earnings, Lazarus had already won two editions of the country’s most prestigious race, the New Zealand Cup, and a staggering 15 Group One races in Australasia. He had won everything from standing start two mile staying tests in his New Zealand Cups, in which he set the record for the fastest ever time paced over the distance, to a scintillating mile mobile victory when he won the Chariots of Fire in 1.49, in New South Wales. And whilst the New Zealand bred horses currently dominate the North American open class ranks with three of the top seven earners Kiwi exports – Shartin (the richest overall pacer in the US this year to date), Bit Of A Legend and Sell A Bit – the road to glory for New Zealand standardbreds abroad has not always been easy. Adapting from the varied style of racing in New Zealand where race distances can be anything from one to two miles, stand or mobile starts or on grass or all weather tracks, our horses can sometimes find the transition to racing hard and fast miles at every start a steep learning curve. There have of course been great New Zealand pacers who have flown the flag boldly in previous eras – the great Cardigan Bay of course was the first Standardbred to earn one million dollars and he hit that mark in the United States. So famous and adored by the public he featured on The Ed Sullivan Show following his record setting achievement. In more recent years Bit Of A Legend has also gathered a legion of fans in North America. After leaving New Zealand at age six with 20 wins to his name, Bit Of A Legend has gone on to win feature races in the US and Canada collecting a further 24 wins and taking his earnings $2.2million in the past three years. For Lazarus, the man tasked with guiding him through the next chapter of his journey is New Jersey based trainer, Jimmy Takter. And if he can produce success with Lazarus it will complete one of the most unique and historic training trifectas in harness racing history. He’s trained the world’s richest trotter, the world’s fastest pacer and now has his sights set on converting a down under champion into the world’s next star. But time is not a luxury he has.   Born in Sweden, Takter is the son of a Swedish harness racing trainer and originally started his career as a driver. His father sent Jimmy to the USA when he was a teenager to learn more about the harness racing trade, and as soon as he set foot in the States Jimmy knew he had found his future home. “I feel like I fit in here,” Takter explained. “When I arrived I just fell in love with the place.” So after returning home briefly to marry his childhood sweetheart Christina, he returned to the United States with his young family in 1982 to pursue his North American dream. What followed would be such a successful and versatile career that it would lead to Takter being named a six time Trainer of the Year, and was then inducted into the US Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. He is ranked the second most successful trainer in history in the United States based on prizemoney, second only to Ron Burke, with a whopping $122 million in stakes to his name. Takter developed many top trotters in the 90’s including Hambletonian and Breeders Crown winner Malabar Man. He then hit international headlines when he trained and drove trotting champion mare Moni Maker to win the Elitlopp in his homeland in 1998. She went on to finish second in that great race in 1999 and won the Prix d’Amerique in France in ‘99 also. The grand mare was twice named US Horse of the Year and was three time Trotter of the Year. At the time of her retirement in the year 2000 she was the richest Standardbred racehorse, and richest mare of any breed, with $5.5million in earnings. It would have been easy for Takter to stick with what he knew best, after all he grew up around trotters and was picking up success in the biggest trotting races on the world stage, however Takter’s next move would see him lift his training game to a whole new level. Noted for his dedicated attention to detail and his drive to keep learning and improving, Takter turned his attention to also purchasing and training pacers. A foreign concept to him as in his homeland of Sweden they only race trotters. He adapted to training them with emphatic fashion, with success with Mr Feelgood in the 2006 Little Brown Jug when winning his two heats in an all age, combined time record. Then in 2010 and 2011 he produced the outstanding pacing filly See You At Peelers to win her first 22 starts in a row, capturing the imagination of harness racing fans worldwide. But it would be in 2015 that Jimmy Takter would start to showcase his greatest pacing training achievement when the then four-year-old Always B Miki would enter his stable doors. Always B Miki arrived with four screws in his left hind pastern after a dramatic accident saw the stallion kick the wall of his stall just minutes before his Breeders Crown final. The horse was late scratched after being found to be lame in the warm up. Takter had the horse recover and resume training with him, only to injure the opposite hind leg. It was back to the drawing board and would be a further five months until Always B Miki would resume. It was worth the wait. Remarkably after facing all of the adversity in previous months, the horse went on to win all four of his starts that season, all in 1.49.4 or better. Takter proclaimed that the horse would make a big impact on the sport the following year, if he was able to keep him healthy and sound. And he was correct. On October 9 2016 Always B Miki changed harness racing history when he and regular driver, David Miller, paced the fastest ever mile in 1.46.0. The duo led throughout at the Red Mile in Lexington in the Allerage Farms Open Pace, and as Miller reeled off the opening sectionals the atmosphere on course became electric. There had been much hype about the horse being able to break the barrier set previously by Somebeachsomewhere, He’s Watching, Warrawee Needy and Holborn Hanover of 1.46.4 in race conditions – and to all present they had a sense that this could be the day. When Miki and Miller hit the three-quarter mile in 1.19.4 race announcer Sam McKee lifted to another level, and so did the horse. As the post loomed fans watched the clock and held their breath as the final time was announced. “Always B Miki – in 1.46!” McKee screams.  The crowd erupted into a standing ovation. The performance has set the new benchmark for greatness in the sport, and the occasion almost proved too much for Takter. “I was so nervous before the race and I never get nervous like that, but I was,” he revealed. “He was scared of shadows and he didn’t warm up well.” In his career Takter has trained four Horse of the Year title recipients, Always B Miki was his first pacer to win this. With Always B Miki retired a new challenge would soon arise. Following the purchase of Lazarus by Taylor Made Stallions of Kentucky, Takter was approached to take on the role of trainer for the five-year-old stallion. And even though he would be a long way from New Zealand, Lazarus will feel right at home in his new stable in East Windsor, New Jersey. The Takter property is one of the most immaculate you will ever see. The driveway is adorned by the American Flag and features a pond with its own seven foot Statue of Liberty. Set up in a similar style to the Purdon and Rasmussen training complex, the 40 hectare farm offers a stunning barn facility with walker, equine treadmill, a 1200m straight line training track, two mile jog track, a 1000m training track and is based beside a 75 hectare Horse Park.  Takter likes to utilize this and take his team through the park to mix up the workload and keep their minds fresh and active. Whilst Takter is at the top of his game, with one of the most enviable training complexes and training records in the world, it will all be over for him soon. In a shock announcement late last year, Takter indicated that in 2019 he will step down from training duties, and hand over the reins to his daughter Nancy and his trusted stable foreman, Per Engblom. They will train from Takter’s farm and he will still live on site and be available to offer assistance and advice, but is determined to step back and take some time for himself and his family. Takter has been open about the pressure he puts on himself to be at the top of his game. He can be extremely critical on himself and strives for perfection. “A sign of a good trainer is one that stays on top for many years,” he said. “I want to be on top, but I can’t all the time. It’s been 35 years of doing this and it’s hard. I get depression very easily and I get down on myself.” “You work yourself to death here,” admitted Takter. “I just feel like if I can’t be one hundred percent into it I don’t want to do it. But it is hard to back off.” “At this stage of my career Lazarus is actually a big plus. It is horses like this that make me remember why I wanted to be in harness racing. A horse like this is very special for me to be participating with.” It’s a brutally honest and admirable revelation from one of the greatest trainers in the sport. Highlighting once again the level of pressure that being the best presents. “I haven’t decided if I will totally stay out of the industry. But I need to take some time for myself and then make a decision. I would love to come down to New Zealand and maybe have a drive as it’s on my bucket list.” Latest reports from Takter have been positive about Lazarus and how he has settled into life at the Takter Stable. He has adapted to his new surroundings effortlessly, and has been complimented on his wonderful temperament and attitude towards his work. “He’s a cool horse. I’m very happy with him, you can see he is a legend,” said Takter. There has been talk about a potential start at the Red Mile in Kentucky in September, and also the Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs in October. But nothing will be set in stone until Takter is one hundred percent happy with Lazarus and his progress. “My main goal is the Breeders Crown at Pocono for him. If I accomplish that it will be the icing on the cake,” stated Takter. So whilst many focus on the great horse himself, and rightly so, there is also a human element to this intriguing endeavor.  Lazarus could allow Takter a fairytale swansong to his career; the Hall of Fame trainer, who ventured away from his homeland to chase the American dream, retiring at the top of his game and potentially signing off by producing one of the most unique training triple crowns.  The world’s richest trotter, the world’s fastest pacer and transforming a national hero from a different hemisphere into an international icon.  by Jess Smith, for Harness Racing New Zealand    

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Two-year-old trotting fillies faced "sloppy" going at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday, racing in five $30,000 divisions of their Pennsylvania All-Stars stake. The fastest winner was the homebred Sonnet Grace for owner/trainer/driver Rod Allen, and the 1:56.2 clocking despite the off going is certainly "in the pedigree," as the Muscle Massive filly is out of I Believe, an Andover Hall mare out of C R Kay Suzie, possibly the most precocious baby trotting miss of the last 50 years. (Within seven weeks in 1994, C R Kay Suzie trotted world record miles in 1:55.1m, 1:56.1f, and 1:56.3h, records that lasted for respectively 11, 14, and just over 20 years!) Sonnet Grace, a 1:58.1 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winner at The Meadows in her previous start, lowered her mark with her All-Stars win, but she had to work hard for it, showing a big acceleration in the Pocono Pike in the last 50 yards to just nose out Rush Lane, who had grinded to the lead earlier in the stretch. The 1:56.2 clocking was not only a divisional season's record for a 5/8-mile track, it also beat the colts' standard of 1:56.4 notched 24 hours ago by Prospect Hill and Fashion Possessed in their All-Stars wins. Trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras twice combined with daughters of Muscle Hill to begin paying back on hefty yearling prices. First up was The Ice Dutchess, a $320,000 purchase and a full sister to $500G winner Ice Attraction (their dam is The Ice Queen), who controlled the pace and took a half-length victory over first-over Scirocco Donnahill in 1:57.1. The Ice Dutchess had previously recorded a 1:56.4 baby qualifying win at The Meadowlands for the Coyote Wynd Farms. A bit later, the $480,000 yearling Beautiful Sin (Muscle Hill - Sina) made a beautiful debut, quarter-moving for Gingras and staying strong to the wire to win by 3¼ lengths in 1:58.1. Beautiful Sin had previously notched three straight morning wins at The Meadowlands, fastest in 1:56.2, for the SRF Stable. Matt Kakaley was able to rally Fate Smiled from the pocket to a head victory in 1:58.4, just catching pacesetting Fraulein Blucher (a Cantab Hall out of one of PA's top Sire Stakes performers ever, Frau Blucher). Fate Smiled is a Muscle Massive filly out of $500G+ winner For A Dancer who had won her previous start in a division of the same Sire Stakes event at The Meadows earlier mentioned in 1:58. Ron Burke trains her for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Michelle Yanek. Fate Smiled was a 9-5 second choice, and the first three winners listed here were their race's favorites. The upsetter in the All-Stars on Tuesday was 12-1 shot Sabrina Deo, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of the half-million dollar winner Caught My Eye, who moved out from the pocket at headstretch and caught pacesetter Fast Reaction by ¾ of a length in 1:57.3 in her purse bow. Corey Callahan was in the sulky for trainer John Butenschoen and the ownership of Harmony Oaks Racing Stable Inc., Rojan Stables, and Tangie Massie. The winner had been twice second in a.m. outings before this win, and she completed a "grandsire sweep" for Muscles Yankee (Muscle Hill sired three winners and Muscle Massive two). From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

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