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Hall of Fame driver John Campbell prevailed in two of five $10,000 preliminary Kindergarten Classic events on Sunday (August 30) afternoon's harness racing program at Tioga Downs, while Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter scored a double-double--driving a pair of his own trainees to victory.   Campbell kicked off the card in style, brushing aggressively to the fore with Waitlifter K ($3.50) in the opener, edging clear on the backstretch and ultimately holding off a late challenge from pocket rival Macy's Big Boy (Jimmy Takter) for a 1:55.3 win. Chuck Sylvester trains the 2-year-old Muscles Yankee colt for Robert Key.   While Waitlifter K was the fastest of all 10 colts and geldings to take to the track, filly Celebrity Eventsy ($5.50) matched that 1:55.3 mark in the seventh race to be fastest of 19 fillies on the program. Campbell was also aboard the daughter of Manofmanymissions, sprinting through with her at the pegs to force Coco Truffles (David Miller) into the pocket, ultimately turning her aside off the far turn to prevail by 1-3/4 lengths. Staffan Lind trains Celebrity Eventsy for Celebrity Farms.   Trainer Jimmy Takter accounted for two of the five Kindergarten Classic winners at Tioga, and he drove them both to victory. He took the lead with Haughty ($2.40) through a :28.4 opening quarter in the day's fifth race, ultimately ceding control to Lookin Sharp (Mike Simons) through the middle stages before angling from the pocket on the far turn. After a brief duel, Haughty edged away to a three-quarters length win, prevailing in 1:56. Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz, and Sam Goldband own the 2-year-old Donato Hanover filly.   Takter's other winner, Gifted Lady ($8.80) wasted no time assuming command in the ninth race, turning aside a mid first-over challenge from Dream Child (Mark MacDonald) before edging clear of pocket rival Sweet Ashley T (Homer Hochstetler) for a two-length triumph in 1:56. Silver Linden Farms owns the daughter of Muscle Hill.   David Miller and Nik Drennan teamed up for the other Kindergarten winner on the day, as Labatt Hanover ($14.80) crossed and cleared for an easy lead before holding off a mild late challenge from pocket rival Hillman (Jimmy Takter) for a 1:57.3 victory. Joseph Davino, Brad Shackman, and the T L P Stable co-own the Muscle Hill gelding.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (September 4) evening, with post time at 6:15 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

At this point last year in the 2014 season, the sport of harness racing was awash in stars. Sebastian K had won seven of eight starts, including a world record 1:49 in the Sun Invitational at Pocono. He also had wins in the Cutler and the Cashman. Sweet Lou had swept ten in a row, with six straight in under 1:48. The premier son of Yankee Cruiser had recently taken the Dan Patch, and scored in the USPC, Haughton and Franklin prior to that. Trixton had captured the hearts of the fans, even before he pulled off an upset win in the Hambletonian. And diminutive speedball He’s Watching won the Meadowlands Pace in a world record equaling 1:46.4 and had just followed that up with a win in the EBC. And prior to that, In 2013, Bee A Magician was a perfect ten for ten by mid-August, with wins in the Oaks and Del Miller; Captaintreacherous was six for seven, having captured the North American Cup and the Meadowlands Pace; and I Luv The Nitelife, who earned more money at two and three than any pacing filly ever had, was nine for ten, with wins in the Fan Hanover and the Jim Lynch. What looked to be a star studded year of racing in 2015 hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Father Patrick, who was recently retired, has a win in the Maxie Lee and a world of frustration to show for his four-year-old efforts. JK She’salady inexplicable raced poorly early and is now recuperating from a lung infection. Last year’s Horse of the Year will not be in the mix until Lexington.  McWicked, who has been missing until recently, looked dreadful in a Mohawk preferred the other night. Nuncio is racing successfully in Europe. Shake It Cerry has been on shaky ground all year. Maven has been hijacked to Europe, where she rarely wins. Miki is on the shelf. Foiled has one win in 12 starts. Artspeak is not the next big thing. In The Arsenal was dull in the EBC on Sunday. The Dan Patch winner, Color’s A Virgin, seems to have hit her ceiling in the Hoosier Park F&M invitational. Another division winner, Classic Martine, is two for ten. In short, promise has not been fulfilled on a number of fronts. Sebastian, Lou, Trixton, Captain T and Nitelife are all retired. They ain’t trottin’ and pacin’ through that door, as Rick Pitino would say. So the current crop of horses will have to get it done. Wiggle It Jiggleit and Mission Brief are both genuine superstars. The Mr Wiggles gelding rebounded from his loss in the Cane with a pair of head turning performances in the Milstein and the Battle Of Brandywine, blowing up the track record in the former and setting a world record in the latter. At the very least, he’s the equal of the Sebastian K of 2014. Wiggle will be off the grid for a month as he prepares for the Jug. And Mission Brief won her Hambletonian elimination and finished second in the final, before humbling her peers in Friday’s Moni Maker. She’s faster than Bee A Magician, and she’s managed with a fearlessness that was foreign to the Kadabra mare, Shake It Cerry and Check Me Out. Ron Burke is seriously considering starting her in the Kentucky Futurity, a move that would put Lexington on the front page, particularly if Pinkman can rebound from his poor last start and can win the Yonkers Trot and then is going for the Triple Crown. We should see Mission Brief in action in Friday’s Casual Breeze. A superstar in the making is Burke’s Muscle Hill freshman Southwind Frank. The $100,000 Lexington purchase has won 5 of 6 starts, with his only loss coming on a break. He won the NJSS final, then dominated in the elimination and final of the Peter Haughton. Sunday he won a split of the Reynolds in a track record 1:54.2—back half in :54.2—at Tioga.  He’s staked to the Champlain at Mohawk in two weeks, and the Wellwood, two weeks after that. Four-year-old JL Cruze has been the king of the aged trotting ranks through the first half of the season. He has taken 16 of his 19 starts and tops the money and speed lists in his division. The Crazed gelding won the Hambletonian Maturity, Graduate Series, Super Bowl and Singer. Unfortunately, these are all races for three/four-year-olds. He wasn’t staked to the Cashman or the Crawford Farms Trot at Vernon, and isn’t eligible to the Maple Leaf, Allerage or the Breeders Crown. It’s tough to remain a star racing on the margins. His fourth place finish in the Sebastian K at Pocono may herald the end of his reign. Pinkman has won the Hambletonian, Stanley Dancer, Beal and Zweig this year, but he doesn’t possess much duende. The Explosive Matter gelding does just enough to get a win, which he has done in eight of his 10 starts, with earnings of more than a million dollars. He’s so workmanlike and efficient that he hasn’t generated the sort of buzz his record calls for. Breaking stride at the start of the Colonial as the 1/9 choice on Saturday didn’t add to his appeal. State Treasurer, the leader of the FFA pacing set, just won the Roll With Joe in a track record 1:47.2 at Tioga. It was his sixth win in 12 starts; he won the USPC, Molson (his third) and Mohawk Gold Cup. He came up short in the Franklin, Battle Of Lake Erie, Haughton and a TVG open. The six-year-old son of Real Desire came into his own at five and is a pleasant surprise, but he’s no Sweet Lou, vintage 2014. The fact that the FFA pacing class is as thin as paper enhances his image. D’One, the American bred daughter of Donato Hanover and Giant Diablo, just followed up her come from behind win in the Fresh Yankee with another in the Muscle Hill. She’s a mid-season gift from the Continent. Bee A Magician, who was beaten by D’One in both of those stakes, was riding high after wins in the Armbro Flight, Cutler and Charlie Hill Memorial, but Roger Wallmann’s repatriated closer is clearly the division leader at this point. So D’One, who is staked to the Centaur at Hoosier Downs at the end of September, where she would face E L Titan, Obrigado and the rest of the boys, as well as the Allerage Mare and the BC Mare, may well achieve stardom. The same goes for rookie trotter Southwind Frank. And Wiggleit Jiggle It and Mission Brief are already stars. Maybe Pinkman and State Treasurer will capture our hearts and minds and a few more will make it to the marquee by season’s end. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 24, 2015 -- Miss Tezsla, who reached the final of the prestigious James Doherty Memorial, showed her class to a Pennsylvania Stallion Series field Monday at The Meadows when she rolled to a harness racing victory in a stake-fastest 1:57.3. The $100,000 event for freshman filly trotters was contested over five divisions, with Rose Run Reanna, Goodtogo Hanover, Thislady'sdynamite and Ardwyn Hanover taking the other splits. Blake MacIntosh enjoyed a trainer/owner double with Rose Run Reanna and Thislady'sdynamite. After finishing second in her Doherty elimination, Miss Tezsla broke stride in the $389,450 final and finished ninth. But her placement in the Doherty shows how highly her connections -- trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, Brixton Medical and Herb Liverman -- regard her. "She probably could go in the sires stakes, but Jimmy likes to win," said winning driver Dave Palone. "No one evaluates his horses better, and no one places them in spots better than Jimmy. When the connections are confident, I'm confident." On Monday, the daughter of Andover Hall-Filly At Bigs quarter-poled to the lead and toyed with the field thereafter, downing Twice A Night by 4-1/2 lengths. Ameliosi earned show. Fresh from a third-place finish in the Pure Ivory final at Mohawk, Rose Run Reanna moved determinedly first over for David Miller and, though snaky in the stretch, wore down the leader, Lady Athens, to capture her maiden victory in 1:58.2. Move Over Darling rallied for second, 3/4 lengths back, while Lady Athens saved show. "She has talent, but she's had troubles breaking," said MacIntosh of the daughter of Explosive Matter-Excusez Moi, a bargain yearling acquisition at $9,000. "We made some equipment adjustments on her, and she's reacted well to them. Now, we have to get the steering part down and we should be okay. She has a sore on her mouth, and the bit we have on her is a little severe. Because she gets a little aggressive, we have to leave it on. In a couple weeks when she calms down a bit, we'll switch the bit." Goodtogo Hanover, who had raced at or near the front in her five previous starts, rated kindly -- more or less -- for Brian Zendt and moved first over to victory in 1:58.2, 1/2 length ahead of Turn The Paige. I Luv Blackhawkred completed the ticket. "I had my hands full just to sit where I was at," Zendt said. "She's been used to front-running, and that didn't work the last couple starts. She was getting tired and sour, so I wanted to race her out of a hole. She was good about it. She thought about pulling up down the backside, but when they turned for home, she was game to go after the horse on the lead." Bill Zendt trains the daughter of Explosive Matter-Grammy Hall and owns with Gary Saul. In the $20,000 Preferred Handicap Trot, Tall Cotton made it four straight, despite a parked-out opening panel, when he triumphed in 1:53.2 for Palone, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Edwin Gold and Howard Taylor. Major Athens was second, 2 lengths in arrears, while the first-over Tamarind finished third. With the victory, the 9-year-old Revenue S-B Cor Peatra gelding soared over $700,000 in career earnings. Palone completed the 15-race card with four wins. Tuesday's program at The Meadows features the Delmonica Hanover, a $205,840 PA Sires Stake for 2-year-old filly trotters. First post is 12:55 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

 The harness racing meeting at Yonkers Raceway  on Monday night hosted the $151,624 New York Sire Stakes Pat Quaglietta Trot for 2-year-old fillies. Four divisions, worth $37,556, $37,556, $38,256 and $38,256, comprised the event. Odds-on choice Goosebump Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr., $3.30)-from post position No. 4--slipped out late, went wide and won the opening grouping in 1:59.1. Credit to Thelimit (Sam Schillaci), who actually beat the winner to the outside, settled for second, a half-length behind. Royal Surprise (Dan Daley) was third. For "Goosebump," a daughter of RC Royalty co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Joe DiScala Jr., Crawford Farms and J&T Silva Stables, it was her third win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $21.20, with the triple returning $78. The evening's second Quaglietta event was strictly a two-lass affair, with pole-sitting Dizzy Broad (Morrill Jr., $6.90) picking off 3-5 favorite Posterity (Charlie Norris) from the pocket in a life-best/night's-fastest 1:58.1. The margin was a length-and-a-half, with Dazzling Dollars (Trond Smedshammer) a best-of-the-rest third. For Dizzy Broad, a daughter of Broad Bahn co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino and Earl Smith Jr., she's now 3-for-5 in her first season. The exacta paid $10.80, with the triple returning $34.80. Monday's third sire stakes event was another two-speed number, with short-price miss Non Stick (Dan Dube, $2.80) handily besting Pampered Winner (Jimmy Takter). From post No. 2, the people's preference two-moved and won by 2½ lengths in 1:59.4. Straight A Student (Mark MacDonald) was a rallying third. For Non Stick, a daughter of Lucky Chucky co-owned (as Svanstedt Racing) by (trainer) Ake Svanstedt and Little E LLC, she's a perfect 4-for-4 to begin her career. The exacta paid $11, with the triple returning $23.40. The evening's final statebred division was a maiden-breaker for Franniegetyourgun (Takter, $15.60). She sat pocketed from post No. 2, then eased past Lima Playtime (Scott Zeron) by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:59.2. Lucky Kristen (Brian Sears) was third. For "Frannie," a Lucky Chucky miss trained by her driver for her driver's wife, Christina, Herbert Holland, Serafino Barone and Steve Bitlisli, is was that first win in four frosh tries. The exacta paid $110.50, with the triple returning $505. The Raceway's live season continues Tuesday with a "French-centric" matinee (first post 1 PM). Frank Drucker

Hambletonian champion Pinkman went off stride at the start, opening the door for his eight rivals in Saturday's (Aug. 22) $500,000 Colonial Trot for 3-year-old male trotters, and Crazy Wow was the one to take advantage. Crazy Wow, who was not eligible to the Hambletonian, won the Colonial by 1-1/4 lengths over The Bank in 1:52.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Uncle Lasse finished third and Wicker Hanover was fourth. Crazy Wow, sent off at odds of 9-1, was the third choice in the betting behind 1-5 favorite Pinkman and Uncle Lasse. The Bank and Uncle Lasse are from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, as is Pinkman. Uncle Lasse took the early lead and remained on top through fractions of :26.3, :55.1, and 1:23.3. Canepa Hanover made a first-over bid, but was unable to pass Uncle Lasse. Crazy Wow, who enjoyed a trip following the leader, took charge in the stretch and pulled away to victory. "I wanted to follow Pinkman, but it didn't work out that way," said Tim Tetrick, who drove Crazy Wow for trainer Ron Burke. "He made a break and I got a perfect trip out of it." "I sat the two hole and my horse responded well." "He felt good. He's a big strong horse and he's great to drive. He works at it, he's got a great attitude, and he likes to win." Crazy Wow has won five of nine races this year and earned $542,537. For his career, the son of Crazed-No Pan No Gain has won 10 of 20 starts and banked $775,465. He is owned by Our Horse Cents Stables, JT45, J&T Silva Stables, and Deo Volente Farms. "It's a big win," Burke said. "He's a good horse that I think can go with them all the time when he gets the chances. In the big races, I think he will acquit himself well. He'll have some more chances to race against these." Crazy Wow's future schedule includes the Canadian Trotting Classic in September at Mohawk. Yannick Gingras, who drove Pinkman, was unsure why the gelding went off stride. Pinkman, the winner of 14 of 18 lifetime races, had never made a break in a pari-mutuel race in his career and wound up last in the nine-horse field. "I don't know," Gingras said. "I was just taking him to the gate and he made a break." Colonial Consolations If you backed Centurion ATM in the $200,000 Consolation I and saw driver Ake Svanstedt pull his horse out of the two-hole nearing the three-quarters to battle favored Whom Shall I Fear, you had to be encouraged, for Svanstedt is one of the best sulksyitters in the world. Centurion ATM went right to the lead and strode off to a 1-3/4 length win in 1:53.3, a tick off of his lifetime record. Svanstedt, whose world champion Sebastian K was retired to stud during special on-track ceremonies earlier in the card, is also the trainer of Centurion ATM, a son of SJ's Caviar, who is owned by Courant A B and Knutsson Trotting Inc. (Sebastian K's sponsors). Muscle Diamond, second in the Breeders Crown at the end of last year but slow to find top form this season, may have turned a corner in the $100,000 Consolation II, coming from second-over to win a five-horse across-the-track finish in 1:53.2, equaling his lifetime mark while defeating Cruzado Dela Noche by three-quarters of a length. Hall of Fame nominee Charles Keller III is a co-owner of the son of Muscle Hill with trainer Brett Bittle, Dan Bittle, and Charles Keller IV. Ken Weingartner

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec - Homecoming is always sweet for harness racing driver Daniel Dube and this Sunday will be no exception as the top class driver returns to the Hippodrome 3R for the $200,000 Prix D'Ete. Born and raised in Trois-Rivieres, Dube learned his trade on the Quebec racing circuit before venturing out to the USA where he has become one of the leading drivers in North America. He now battles annually with premier reinsman George Brennan and Jason Bartlett for the driving title at Yonkers Raceway, currently the richest racetrack in the sport. Since leaving Quebec and coming to the United States back in 1997, the native son of Trois-Rivieres has tallied 8,162 wins in his career and $99,638,000 million in purses won by the horses he has driven. He is in the top 20 of all-time money winning drivers in harness racing. But it is always special to come home. "It is a pleasure for me each time I return to the Hippodrome 3R to race," Dube said. "This is where I started my career. I never miss the opportunity to go there and visit my family and my wife's family. It's always fun to come back." Dube's primary reason for coming home is to drive Somewhere In L A, who is the 3-1 second choice in the $200,000 Prix D'Ete. The race is exclusively for four-year-old pacers and his is one of the best in North America. Trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, Somewhere In L A is a gelded son of world champion Somebeachsomewhere, a career winner of $647,000 and just three starts back teamed up with Dube in winning at Yonkers in 1:52. Somewhere In L A will start from post position three in the tenth race feature. "He (Somewhere In L A) is a really nice horse," Dube said, "And Jimmy Takter would not send him up to Quebec if he was not ready to race. With a little racing luck I think we will be OK." The all-age track record was set last year in the inaugural revival of the Prix D'Ete when Sunfire Blue Chip erupted with a 1:50.3 victory, lowering the prior record by nearly three full seconds. Dube was second in the race with Duc D'Orleans. "The track at Trois-Rivieres is fast, there is no doubt," Dube said. "It compares favorably with the best half mile tracks in North America." The quality of horse flesh coming to 3R on Sunday for the Prix D'Ete and with a forecast of sunny and warm weather, last year's track record may fall by the wayside. In addition to Somewhere In L A (post 3), whose lifetime mark is 1:50, also in the race is an entry from the Ron Burke Stable of All Bets Off (post 4), a $1.4 million winner with a record this year in 1:48.3. He is coupled with LimeLight Beach (post six), 1:49.1, Big Boy Dreams (post 2), 1:49.4, Winds Of Change (post one), 1:48.2 and local favorite, Boomboom Ballykeel (post 5), 1:49.3. Dube is not the only Quebecois coming home on Sunday. Also joining him in the driver colony for 3R's premier race day are top drivers Simon Allard, who drives Big Boy Dreams for his trainer/co-owner/brother, Rene Allard, along with Mario Ballargeon. All three are welcomed home by local trainers as Dube has eight drives and both Allard and Ballargeon have six drives each on the day. Prix D'Ete Notes: Three-time Quebec-Bred Sire Stakes champion, Maximuscle, returns to 3R Sunday to headline the eighth race Open Trot feature. He starts from post eight for driver Mario Charron and has yet another impressive season with six wins and one second place finish in just eight starts. All four opening round winners in the $200,000 Quebec-Bred Series for two-year-old pacers, have returned Sunday for round two. They are Sagawi, HP Sissy, HP Mercedes and Mr Mach Jimmy. Post time Sunday is at 1:30 pm. To watch the 3R program live and to get a free program for the race card go to From the Quebec Jockey Club  

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 20, 2015 -- When Mission Brief finished second in the Hambletonian and Wild Honey took the Hambletonian Oaks, they solidified their credentials as harness racing's top 3-year-old filly trotters. However, the two didn't face each other on Hambletonian Day. They'll take care of that little omission Friday at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino when they clash in the $174,000 Moni Maker. The event goes as race 3, with first post at 6:55 PM. Mission Brief long had been considered a candidate to take on males in the Hambletonian, but back problems put those plans on hold for a while. She responded well to medical treatment and turned in a memorable Hambletonian performance, losing to Pinkman by 3/4 lengths. Ron Burke, who trains the daughter of Muscle Hill-Southwind Serena for Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, said Mission Brief had treatment for her back and went two strong training trips in New Jersey before her mid-week ship to The Meadows. Although Burke is based here, Mission Brief has followed the Grand Circuit throughout her career and will be making her first lifetime start at The Meadows, perhaps erasing some of the home-track advantage. "I trained her here for about a month earlier in the year, so I know she gets around this track well," Burke said. "She's very comfortable here." He said he'll likely continue to race Mission Brief, whose Hambletonian check made her a millionaire, against fillies but that he'll play that by ear. "It would be a hard push for me to get everyone on board to do it (race against males) again, but I wouldn't rule it out," he said. Wild Honey, the 2014 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion who has won several times at The Meadows, has been a model of speed and consistency, winning 13 of 19 lifetime starts and $838,488. Trainer Jimmy Takter said he expects more of the same from the daughter of Cantab Hall-U Wanna Lindy. "I think we'll give Mission Brief a run for the money," Takter said. "You cannot beat that filly (Mission Brief) on the bigger tracks, so it depends how she gets over The Meadows' surface." In addition to the battle between Mission Brief and Wild Honey, the Moni Maker is yet another round in the long-running Burke versus Takter series; only one of the six fillies in the field, Mickey Peterson's Sistas, is conditioned by someone other than Burke or Takter, arguably the two most successful in the sport in recent years. The Moni Maker also features round two of Gingras versus Gingras, as Yannick Gingras, regular driver of Mission Brief and frequent driver of Wild Honey, was forced to choose between them, just as he had to pick between Mission Brief and Pinkman for the Hambletonian. For the Moni Maker, he's sticking with Mission Brief. "It's a great problem to have," Gingras said. "I picked Mission Brief over Jimmy's best colt, so this wasn't a tough call, even though it stinks because I love Wild Honey. She's a sweetheart. I think I only lost once with her. Obviously, Mission Brief is special." Mission Brief and Gingras will leave from post 4 while Wild Honey and Dave Palone go from post 3. The complete Moni Maker field, in post position order with drivers, trainers and morning line odds: 1. Sistas, Eric Goodell, Mickey Peterson, 3-1 2. I'm So Fancy, Tony Hall, Ron Burke, 10-1 3. Wild Honey, Dave Palone, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 4. Mission Brief, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 8-5 5. Smexi, Dan Rawlings, Jimmy Takter, 5-1 6. Gatka Hanover, Mike Wilder, Ron Burke, 12-1 The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

The undefeated Pure Country completed her sweep of four Pennsylvania Sires Stakes preliminary legs, and Newborn Sassy set track and stake records in Wednesday's PASS action at  the harness racing meeting at The Meadows. The $212,776 event for freshman filly pacers, known as the Meadow Cheer, was contested over four divisions, with Shezarealdeal and Call Me Queen Be taking the other splits. Pure Country was on top early in her split when Skinny Dipper made a nasty break that scattered the back markers and left I Said Diamonds, sitting on Pure Country's bumper, as the only real competition. "I heard the horse in the three hole make a break," said winning driver Brett Miller. "When I looked at the tote board, I saw there was a big gap, so I thought I should take advantage of that and go a slow second quarter." "I think she can go with anybody." "She doesn't have to be on the front." "In my opinion, she can race better off the pace." "I've been putting her on the front to stay out of trouble." Pure Country triumphed in 1:52.3, 3/4 lengths better than I Said Diamonds. Hug A Dragoness earned show. Jimmy Takter trains Pure Country, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Western Montana who's now perfect in five starts, for Diamond Creek Racing. After launching her career poorly in a July 9 PASS leg, Newborn Sassy retreated to the PA Stallion Series, where she gained confidence and put her game together. In the Meadow Cheer, she saved ground, then zipped home for Tim Tetrick in 1:51.1, fastest ever for a 2-year-old filly pacer at The Meadows. Weeper held the previous track and stake mark of 1:51.4. Early leader Shesasmokinlady was second, 3-3/4 lengths back, with Peachy third. "We started her out a little steep there -- she wasn't quite as ready as she should have been, perhaps," said Jim King, Jr., who conditions the daughter of Western Ideal-Sass Newton -- a $37,000 yearling acquisition -- and owns with CC Racing. "It was a tough winter in Illinois where she started, so we got a little bit of a late start." "She's developed very well." Shezarealdeal grabbed her second PASS win with an uncovered backside burst that carried her to victory in 1:52, 1-1/2 lengths better than Princess Fabulosa. Yankee Moonshine finished fourth-placed-third. "The horse on the front didn't look that good," winning driver Marcus Miller said, "so I thought if I could keep pacing hard when we hit the turn, I could get by her. "She's really quick, so I wasn't too surprised." "I put her on the front too many times in a row." "Today, just following for a half, she was brave." Robin Cruise conditions the daughter of Western Ideal-Shezarealcaesar for Nick Surick Stable and KDM Stables. In the $22,500 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, Certified Ideal made it two straight when she found late racing room to score in 1:51, matching her career best. Angels Delight was a nose back in second while Just A Bee completed the ticket. Tony Hall piloted the 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal-Areba's Last, who boosted her career bankroll to $391,283, for trainer Randy Bendis and owners Bendis, Mike Novosel, Jr., Tom Pollack and James Walton. It was one of three wins for Hall on the 15-race program. Friday's card at The Meadows features the $174,000 Moni Maker for 3-year-old filly trotters, which has drawn Hambletonian runner-up Mission Brief and Hambletonian Oaks winner Wild Honey. The Moni Maker goes as race 3 on the program, which begins at 6:55 PM.                                                          Evan Pattak

Ontario's top two-year-old harness racing fillies took centre stage at Georgian Downs on Saturday night and trotter Could It Be Magic landed Fred Brayford in the winner's circle at his local oval for the second time this summer. Starting from Post 4 in the third $70,000 Gold division, trainer-driver Wayne Henry sent Could It Be Magic directly to the front and the filly sailed along through fractions of :29, :58.4 and 1:27.3. Major Muscle mounted a challenge through the final quarter, but favourite Could It Be Magic accelerated away to a one and one-quarter length win in 1:56.4. Major Muscle settled for second and I Want Kandy completed the triactor. "She's very natural, knew what she was doing from Day 1," said Henry, who shares ownership of the filly with Alliston resident Brayford. "She's pretty plain and simple." The win was Could It Be Magic's third in Gold Series action. In addition to Saturday's victory and her win in the July 12 season opener at Georgian Downs, the Kadabra daughter was also successful at Mohawk Racetrack on Aug. 4. In her other provincial outing, Could It Be Magic finished fifth in the July 23 Gold Leg at Mohawk, giving her a total of 155 points and sole ownership of second in the division standings. Henry selected the filly out of the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $18,000 and in her first five starts Could It Be Magic has earned $106,750. "The first day I looked at two and she was up first. I didn't think I'd be able to get her for that kind of money, and for some reason I got her cheap," noted Henry, adding that it was a combination of the filly's pedigree, size and good looks that caught his eye at the sale. The two-year-old trotting fillies now have a six-week break before their next Gold Series start and Could It Be Magic and several of her peers will be competing in open stake events at Mohawk Racetrack. "She has the Champlain (Sept. 3) and the Peaceful Way (Sept. 10 and 19) - and the Balanced Image (Aug. 22 and 29), but that's going to make it too tight, so I think we'll keep her out of that," said Arthur, ON resident Henry. "They've only got so many starts in them." Division point leader Caprice Hill will be joining Could It Be Magic on the open stakes circuit after posting her third Gold Series victory on Saturday. In spite of a brief hiccup at the start when she accelerated into the gate and went off stride, the heavy favourite took command at the three-quarter marker and cruised home a two length winner in 1:56.1. Devils Advocate and Dewdle All Day finished second and third. Yannick Gingras engineered the win for trainer Tony Alagna of Manalapan, NJ and owner Tom Hill of Hamilton, ON. The Kadabra daughter, a $55,000 acquisition at Harrisburg last fall, boasts a record of three wins and one second in four starts for a division leading point total of 175 and earnings of $113,750. High Heels captured the other trotting filly Gold trophy, digging in down the stretch for a three-quarter length win over Silky Flashy Nfast and favourite Its All About Sam. The 1:59 score was engineered by Rick Zeron for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ, John and Jim Fielding of Toronto, ON and Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL. The win was the Kadabra daughter's first in four outings and gives her a total of 82 points toward a berth in the season ending Super Final. A $115,000 purchase at Harrisburg, High Heels had scored one fourth and two thirds in the first three Gold Legs. Yannick Gingras earned owner Tom Hill a second Gold Series trophy when he guided Heavenly Hill to a 1:54.3 victory in the third pacing filly division. Gingras sent the Art Colony daughter to the front heading for the halfway marker and Heavenly Hill hit the wire two lengths ahead of Danish N Coffee and Golden Idol. Heavenly Hill benefited from an early miscue by division point leader Thatsoveryverynice and an error by challenger Kays Shadow at the three-quarters, but Cambridge, ON resident Dave Menary conditions the homebred for Hill and said he was expecting a solid effort from the young pacer. "I expected her to race good, I just didn't expect to get paid that much," said Menary. "Yannick let the dust settle and then moved her, and a couple horses made mistakes and we didn't make any mistakes tonight. "I'm really happy with tonight's performance," he added. Heavenly Hill started her Ontario Sires Stakes career in the Grassroots program, scoring one win and one second before making the leap up to the Gold Series on Saturday. In four lifetime starts she has earned $48,500. Thisorthat Hanover was awarded the trophy in the first $70,000 pacing filly division after she was knocked off stride by a drifting Bernadette in the stretch. Bernadette crossed the wire first, but was placed back to second and Thisorthat Hanover was promoted from second to first. Free Show finished third in the 1:53.1 mile. Randy Waples drives Thisorthat Hanover for trainer James "Friday" Dean and owner Scott Horner of Toronto. In four starts the Sportswriter daughter, who was a $110,000 purchase at the Harrisburg Yearling Sale, boasts a record of two wins, one second and one third for earnings of $67,900. The second pacing filly division saw Waples return to the winner's circle with L A Delight, who hit the wire one length ahead of Twin B Thong and Betty Hill in 1:53.2. The win was L A Delight's fifth straight and her second in Gold Series action. Bob McIntosh of Windsor trains the homebred Bettors Delight daughter for his partners C S X Stables of Liberty Centre, OH and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, ON. The two-year-old pacing fillies also have a break in Ontario Sires Stakes action during the fall Grand Circuit Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack, returning to Gold Series action at Grand River Raceway on Sept. 21. Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Georgian Downs on Sunday, Aug. 23 with the fourth Grassroots event for the two-year-old pacing colts. Ontario Horse Racing

ANDERSON, Ind.-August 14, 2015 - JK Endofanera and harness racing driver Brett Miller used a valiant stretch drive to overtake a field of ten in the 22nd installment of the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes on Friday, August 14 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. With a final time of 1:48.4, JK Endofanera was able to take advantage of the long Hoosier Park stretch to score his third win of the season for trainer, Jimmy Takter. Leaving from the coveted rail position, JK Endofanera was quick off the gate but was forced to settle for a spot along the rail in third as Ricky Macomber Jr. had Bettor's Edge on a mission from post nine. Bettor's Edge was the first to get a call through a snappy opening panel in :25.3, while Lyonssomewhere and Andy Miller benefitted from a pocket trip with the rest of the field sorting out early position. Lyonssomewhere made a move to the front approaching the second station but his lead would be short lived as Yannick Gingras had the post time favorite, Foiled Again, pointed to the front. The quick tempo continued as Foiled Again reached the front at the half mile mark in :53.1 and was joined immediately feeling the pressure from Clear Vision and Trace Tetrick on the outside. As the field passed the three-quarter clocking in 1:21.1, Clear Vision was able to put away Foiled Again but looked down a long Hoosier Park stretch and braced himself for the cavalry charge behind him. JK Endofanera appeared to be buried at the top of the stretch as he was sitting eighth at the pylons turning for home. Matt Kakaley had All Bets Off well placed at the top of the stretch as they made a valiant bid for the lead but his biggest threat was still behind him. Miller found late racing room, asked his mount for more, and JK Endofanera exploded past his rivals with a :26.2 final quarter to get the win by two and a half lengths. All Bets Off held on gamely for the second place finish while Clear Vision rounded out the trifecta. As the betting publics' second choice, JK Endofanera returned $6.40 to his backers. "The race definitely didn't shape up like I hoped," Miller noted in the winner's circle with a laugh. "I was buried on the rail and when we were coming around the last turn I honestly thought to myself, it's all up to God now." "I know the track and I know how long this stretch is, we definitely used it to our advantage tonight," he continued. "Jimmy (Takter) told me when he got this horse that he is the real deal and after the last few races, I've had a lot of confidence in him. He definitely showed how good of a horse he is tonight. It was a great race; this is actually a race I've always wanted to win." Trained by Jimmy Takter the four-year-old son of Art Major-Presidential Lady notched his third win from eight starts in 2015. With the win, JK Endofanera pushed his lifetime bankroll to $1,712,088 for his connections at the 3 Brothers Stables. Hoosier Park's Dan Patch Stakes saw measurable success on all fronts. Excitement pervaded throughout the grandstand as a large, enthusiastic crowd welcomed the 22nd edition of Hoosier Park's signature event to the track. The wagering front also success and offered significant value to the horseplayer with the continuation of a $10,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 and a $25,000 Guaranteed Superfecta. Live racing continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, August 15. With an adjusted post time of 4:00 p.m., Saturday's 14-race card will feature the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals for the two-year-old divisions. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule at Hoosier Park, please visit Emily Gaskin

Vernon, N.Y. -- Four New York Sire Stakes events for 2-year-old trotting fillies headlined Friday (August 14) evening's harness racing card at Vernon Downs, and Lucky Chucky filly Posterity ($7.30) proved most impressive among the quartet of winners.   In the $27,250 seventh race, trainer-driver Charlie Norris floated Posterity into midfield from her outside post, rating well off odds-on favourite Dizzy Broad (Jim Morrill, Jr.) through a :27.4 first quarter before charging to the fore amid a slackening :58.1 half mile. Upon reaching the end of the backstretch, Posterity was able to clear down to the pegs, turn aside a mild challenge from the first-over Credit To Thelimit (Sam Schillaci), and draw clear of her rivals through a dazzling :27.4 final quarter. Her 1:56 mile was the fastest of the four Sire Stakes splits, and she defeated runner-up Dizzy Broad by 3-1/2 lengths.   Carrie Norris, Janine Zito, and Buck Sprinkle share the ownership of Posterity.   Ãke Svanstedt recorded a Sire Stakes driving double, teaming up with Jimmy Takter trainee Pampered Winner ($13.00) in the $27,250 fourth race for his first of two co-featured wins. The royally-bred daughter of Credit Winner kicked clear off a first-over effort, holding off a late charge from Monarchs Sequel (Mark MacDonald) in 1:56.2. Svanstedt also prevailed with his own pupil Non Stick ($6.30) in the $27,750 ninth race, kicking clear from the pocket to defeat Swinging Royalty (Chris Lems) by 3-1/2 lengths in 1:56.3.   The greatest margin of victory went to Goosebump Hanover ($6.10), who drew off for a 4-1/4 length triumph in the $ 27,250 sixth race. After brushing to the lead on the first half of the far turn, Goosebump Hanover gradually extended her advantage over Lucky Kristen (Marcus Melander) and I Will Take Credit (Dan Daley), prevailing ultimately in 1:57.2. Jim Morrill, Jr. drove the RC Royalty filly for trainer Ron Burke.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (August 15) evening. Post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs    

With Father Patrick's racing career now completed, breeder and co-owner Adam Bowden is looking forward to the next phase of the trotter's career as a fulltime stallion. The 4-year-old Father Patrick did double duty this season as a race horse and stallion. Diamond Creek Farm, owned by Bowden and his father Chris, is managing the multiple Dan Patch Award honoree's breeding career. Bowden said he learned earlier this week that Father Patrick would be retired because of a lung infection. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick won 23 of 33 lifetime races, finished second on six occasions, and earned $2.55 million. He is owned by the Father Patrick Stable, a group made up of Brixton Medical Inc., Diamond Creek Farm LLC, John Fielding, Christina Takter, Brittany Farms, and the partnership of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. Father Patrick is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream. He is a full brother to Dan Patch Award winner Pastor Stephen as well as stakes-winner Whom Shall I Fear. His mother, Gala Dream, is a half-sister to Dan Patch Award winner Chocolatier and stakes-winner Sugar Trader. "Pedigree, looks, race record - he checks all the boxes," Bowden said. "It doesn't hurt that Jimmy said he's the best horse he ever trained. He had class and charisma on the track and he exhibited the same qualities in the breeding shed this year. He took to his job easily. He was able to differentiate between breeding and racing. We were happy." Bowden said Father Patrick bred 73 mares this year and 58 are in foal. "That was sort of a trial run and now we're ready for the big leagues," Bowden said. "We were very happy, considering there were weeks where he only bred twice because of a race. He had an intermittent schedule throughout the year between qualifying and racing. But everybody was flexible with us and he got a great group of mares." Father Patrick's wins included the Breeders Crown at ages 2 and 3 plus last year's Canadian Trotting Classic, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, Stanley Dancer Memorial, and American-National Stakes. In 2013, his victories also included the William Wellwood Memorial and Peter Haughton Memorial. His 1:50.2 win in the Beal at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track. He also holds the world record for a 2-year-old colt on the same sized oval, with a mark of 1:52.1. This year, Father Patrick won one of five starts - capturing the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational by two lengths over Bee A Magician on May 24 at Harrah's Philadelphia - finished second twice and earned $120,995. He finished sixth in his final two races, the most recent on July 18 in the Hambletonian Maturity. His runner-up efforts came to JL Cruze in preliminary rounds of the Graduate Series. "Even though he lost to JL Cruze, he lost by a neck and a half-length in 1:51 and 1:50.4," Bowden said. "You can't complain about those two efforts. Clearly in his last two races something wasn't right. "But Father Patrick is a great horse and we expect great things from his foals." Two-year-old Breeder's Crown Final Three-year-old Breeder's Crown Father Patrick in a world record 1:50.2 Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec - "There is no way that I am not sending a horse to the Hippodrome 3R and try and win the Prix D'Ete again," said Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter. Last year Takter sent Sunfire Blue Chip for the inaugural revival of the Prix D'Ete. Despite drawing the far outside eight post, Sunfire Bluechip and driver Yannick Gingras were able to overcome the bad post and the top competition plus a rainy track surface in setting the all-age track record with a 1:50.3 triumph. This year the Prix D'Ete race, which is restricted to four-year-old pacers only and is part of the national Grand Circuit, is on Sunday, August 23, a month earlier than last year. A total of 19 horses have remained eligible to the race and the top eight money earners in 2015 that enter will get behind the starting gate for the $200,000 race. "I am sorry that I cannot come up for the race again this year," Takter explained, "the race day is in conflict with the stakes races at Tioga Downs and I have more entered there so I must be there that day." But just like last year, Takter is sending another outstanding pacer to Quebec in Somewhere In L A. The son of Somebeachsomewhere is a career winner of $642,000 and has been racing against the best in the sport week in week out. Two starts back he was second in the Roy Davis Memorial at The Meadows and in his prior start he won at Yonkers Raceway, wiring the field in 1:52 for driver Daniel Dube. The Prix D'Ete is one of the richest races of the year for four-year-olds at $200,000 and there are some other trainers and owners who would like to win it. "We will see how Ideal Cowboy races this Saturday night," said owner Jeff Bamond. "I think if he comes out of the race OK then we will send him to the Prix D'Ete. We had a wonderful time last year when Mach It So finished fourth." Ideal Cowboy goes at Yonkers Raceway Saturday in their four-year-old open pace. The Ron Burke Stable has two top horses eligible for the Prix D'Ete in All Bets Off and Limelight Beach. "They are both racing tonight in the $300,000 Dan Patch Stake at Hoosier Park," said co-owner Mark Weaver. "If everything goes well I would think we would send both of them to the Prix D'Ete." It will be interesting after this weekend's racing action to see who will be traveling up to Trois-Rivieres in Quebec for the Prix D'Ete. "My only question about the Prix D'Ete," said trainer Jimmy Takter, "is who will drive my horse? That will be an interesting decision next week as I usually use Corey Callahan or Daniel Dube with Somewhere In L A." That decision and a few more will all have to be made by next Wednesday, August 19 before noon when they close the entry box for Sunday's program on Prix D'Ete Day. Other top contenders eligible to the Prix D'Ete include Luck Be Withyou, Big Boy Dreams, Mattamerican and National Debt. First race post time on Prix D'Ete Day is 1:30 pm. Also on the race program will be the final leg of the $200,000 Quebec-Bred Series for two-year-old pacing colts. From The Quebec Jockey Club  

There were 3 divisions of PASS events for 2-year-old filly trotters held at the harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon (Aug. 13) each going for a purse of approximately $78,000. In the first division, it was part of the Charlie Norris trained entry Synonymous Hanover rallying to win. The daughter of Andover Hall drafted in mid pack throughout much of the race, as second-favorite Best Of Dreams (Andy Miller) set the tempo. Race-favorite Windowshopper made a break early on. Synonymous Hanover swung wide for the drive at the top of the stretch, narrowly out closing the John Butenschoen charge Lookin Sharp (Corey Callahan) to win by a nose, stopping the clock in 1:58. She paid $21.40 to win. Ultra-long shot Sand Grenade (Yannick Gingras) finished third. In the second division, it was Brittany Farm's Twice Is Right (Yannick Gingras) going all the way to win. The daughter of Donato Hanover went right to the front from post 1, setting fractions of :28.1, :57.2, and 1:26.3, with an overall time of 1:56.2. It was the second career win for the Jimmy Takter trainee, pushing her lifetime earnings beyond $50,000. Ultimate Shopper (Tim Tetrick) rallied for second, while Maker A Yankee (Marcus Miller) was third. Twice Is Right paid $11.60. In division three, it was Paul Holzman trainee Whitelake Hanover remaining unbeaten. The daughter of Explosive Matter floated off the gate into third, before quarter-brushing to the front. There were some anxious moments in the stretch however, as upset-minded Maeve Quaider (Corey Callahan) made the most of a pocket journey to finish just a neck behind, with Parimutuel Hanover (Andy Miller) finishing a distant third. The final time was 1:57.4. Whitelake Hanover is now a perfect 5 for 5 for owners Omar Beiler, Dennis Coons, and Sue Oakes. She paid $2.60. Michael Bozich

A field of ten will be sent post-ward in the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes at the harness racing meeting at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, August 14. Featuring the largest purse in the 21-year-history of the event, ten of the top rated older pacers in North America will take center stage as they go to post seeking glory in Hoosier Park's signature harness racing event. The 2015 installment of the Dan Patch Stakes will highlight the 14-race program that is set to begin at 5:15 p.m. and be supported by an all-star undercard includes Indiana Sires Stakes and overnight series action. The 2015 Dan Patch field boasts combined career purse earnings over $17 million and includes five millionaires and two World Champions. North America's leading money-winning trainer, Ron Burke, will look to be the first trainer to score back to back victories in the Dan Patch Stakes since Nat Varty scored with Ready To Rumble and Pacific Rocket in 1994 and 1995. Foiled Again, the richest horse in harness racing history, with $7.09 million in career purse earnings, headlines the ten horses entered in this year's Dan Patch Stakes and will play the role of morning line favorite at odds of 5-2 from post two. The 11-year-old World Champion pacer will make first appearance in the race, and third Hoosier Park start, with regular pilot Yannick Gingras in the bike for trainer Ron Burke. Burke has enlisted Hoosier Park's all-time leading driver, Ricky Macomber Jr., who visited the Dan Patch winner's circle in 2000 and 2002, to drive Bettor's Edge from post nine. Bettor's Edge and Macomber Jr. finished second in the 2014 edition of the Dan Patch to stablemate Sweet Lou in a track record setting mile of 1:47.2. Joining Foiled Again and Bettor's Edge from the Burke Stable on Friday will be Limelight Beach from post seven, All Bets Off from post eight, and Clear Vision from the trailing post position ten. JK Endofanera will join the stellar cast of entrants and be a main contender for the 2015 Dan Patch title from the coveted rail position. With over $1.5 million in career earnings, the Jimmy Takter trainee has been tabbed as the 3-1 morning line second choice. Brett Miller has been listed to drive both JK Endofanera and World Champion Clear Vision. The 2015 Dan Patch field, in post-position order with named driver and trainer includes:   1. JK Endofanera Tr: Jimmy Takter Dr: Brett Miller 3-1 2. Foiled Again Tr: Ron Burke Dr: Yannick Gingras 5-2 3. Lyonssomewhere Tr: Julie Miller Dr: Andy Miller 8-1 4. Captive Audience Tr: Douglas Berkeley Dr: Andrew McCarthy 20-1 5. Duc Dorleans Tr: Jacques Dupont Dr: Peter Wrenn 15-1 6. Let's Drink On It Tr: Joe Seekman Dr: Travis Seekman 20-1 7. Limelight Beach Tr: Ron Burke Dr: Ed Hensley 12-1 8. All Bets Off Tr: Ron Burke Dr: Matt Kakaley 6-1 9. Bettor's Edge Tr: Ron Burke Dr: Ricky Macomber Jr. 10-1 10. Clear Vision Tr: Ron Burke Dr: Brett Miller 4-1 Racing fans will have the opportunity to participate in two special wagers offered for the Dan Patch card. A $25,000 Guaranteed Dan Patch Superfecta pool will be available as part of the Strategic Wagering Program for the Dan Patch race. The wager will have a minimum bet of 10 cents and is available through the cooperative efforts of the United States Trotting Association, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and the Indiana Standardbred Association. Slated as the twelfth race on the card, estimated post time for the Dan Patch Stakes is 9:44 p.m. A 10,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 pool will also be available to racing fans on Friday's 14-race card. The Pick-4, which offers a 50-cent minimum wager, begins in the third race and will continue through the sixth race. Approximate post time for the first leg of the wager, the third race, is 5:55 p.m. (EST). Hoosier Park's most prestigious pacing race has become a tradition that is close to the hearts of Hoosiers. The Dan Patch not only highlights some of the best athletes in the sport of harness racing, but is deeply rooted throughout Indiana soil. Hoosier Park's event is named after the early 1900's racehorse phenomenon, Dan Patch born in Oxford, Indiana. Now, 100 years after his birth, the great pacer is still remembered every year at Hoosier Park with this signature race. Since its inception in 1994, the Dan Patch Stakes has drawn the very best older pacers in North America. Previous Dan Patch winners include World Champions and harness racing greats like Pacific Fella, Jenna's Beach Boy, Maltese Artist, Won The West, Mister Big, and Sweet Lou. The race will be part of a special weekend tagged as "Dan Patch Festival Weekend" and will feature extreme entertainment, giveaways, and racing. The evening will also be complimented by Indiana Sires Stakes finals, sending the purse money to be distributed throughout the evening over the $800,000 mark. Emily Gaskin

Zanesville's Richard and Joyce McClelland have owned harness racing horses for decades and can usually be found at one of the Buckeye State's county fair ovals, or in the Scioto Downs or Northfield Park winner's circle. On August 8 however, the McClellands saw their years of dedication and love for the Standardbred come to fruition when their 3-year-old trotter Pinkman stepped into the winner's circle at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. The sophomore gelding had just won harness racing's greatest trotting event-the $1 million Hambletonian-with Brian Sears driving for renowned trainer Jimmy Takter. "We've been in the horse business for 35 years and we've never had anything like this," Joyce admitted. "We're just overwhelmed right now." While this is not the McClelland's first foray into the national spotlight-they owned two-time Breeders Crown champion Call For Rain 4, 1:49.3M ($1,065,919) and have a slice of the great trotting mare Maven 4, 1:51.4H ($1,756,996)-the Hambletonian is, in harness racing's circles, the trotting race everyone strives to win. "It hasn't really sunk in yet," acknowledged Richard, Chairman of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund. "Winning the Hambletonian is great for Ohio people like us who don't have a big stable on a national level." Pinkman's Ohio connections run deep and his story actually began in the fall of 2011, when Midland Acres' Jake Mossbarger was looking for a few, well-bred trotting broodmares. A Capitol University graduate who had spent several years working at Woodland Run Equine Facility in Grove City, Ohio, Jake had a keen eye for horseflesh, and he liked what he saw in the Angus Hall mare Margie Seelster (6, 1:55.1s $247,483). "The fact that she was an Angus Hall meant that you could breed to any Valley Victory line; that was something we were looking for," said Midland's Jay Mossbarger, Jake's father. "There are good horses in her maternal line and she was a mare I thought we could make money with, so we contacted her breeder and bought her for $25,000, in foal, in November 2011." When the bay colt arrived into this world on March 20, 2012, he was the first foal out of his dam. His sire, the Cantab Hall stallion Explosive Matter, earned $1,510,542 with a 3-year-old record of 1:52.3 and had finished second in the 2009 edition of the Hambletonian, which curiously, was won by Muscle Hill with Brian Sears driving. Interestingly, Muscle Hill is by Muscles Yankee, who is also Explosive Matter's maternal grandsire. Pinkman-then known as "Traffic Jam," spent his early days romping through Midland's lush paddocks in Bloomingburg, Ohio. He was definitely a colt with a mind of his own, Jay recalled. "He was a sharp foal and turned into a much better horse as a yearling," Jay stated. "He had certain quirks-if you went to trim his foretop, for instance, he wanted no part of it, and he would rear up and strike at you. "He was a horse who always had his head up and had that look about him," Jay continued. "He could get aggressive, but basically was very laid back until you wanted him to do something he didn't want to do. He always took care of himself, and spent a lot of time relaxing in his stall. He'd lie down, get up to eat and then go lay down again." Ever crafty, Jay never underestimated the youngster's pedigree, which was certainly an indication of Pinkman's hidden talent. Fast forward to October 2, 2013, and the colt-now a sturdy yearling-is purchased by the McClellands and four partners for $77,000 at the famed Lexington Selected Sale in Kentucky, selling as hip number 207. "To sell for $77,000 as a yearling was a big surprise for us," Jay admitted. "I thought he'd bring around $45,000 or $50,000. Having Dick and Joyce McClelland owning part of this horse makes the Hambletonian all that more special." Renamed after a character in the hit TV program Breaking Bad-Pinkman was a bit cantankerous early in his training, but not in a mean way, Richard explained. He simply didn't seem that excited about training or racing. "Jimmy (trainer Takter) only called me twice with, shall we say-not so good-reports about the horse," Richard revealed. "The first time he called me was to tell me he thought it was best we geld him. With these well-bred colts it's not always what you really want to do, but he thought it best, so I said go ahead." Unfortunately for the young Pinkman, the gelding process hit a snag, resulting in an infection that caused him to lose both weight and his fitness level. "He became a horse that wasn't real high on Jimmy's list of those to continue with and he suggested we sell him," Richard noted. "But then he took him to Lexington for one last try, and he raced alright and was second." That was the beginning of a dramatic change in Pinkman's racing style. He went from trotting languid miles in 2:00 or slower to a determined 1:57 clocking in that Red Mile overnight on Sept. 11, 2014. And therein, began a journey for the McClellands and their partners that culminated in last Saturday's stunning victory in harness racing's biggest event. "After that Lexington performance, I asked Jimmy if he'd bring the horse to Delaware during Little Brown Jug week and he did," Richard offered. Pinkman rattled off another 1:57 performance, breaking his maiden in the $59,445 Standardbred Stake for freshman trotters over the Delaware half-miler. "Jimmy laughed after that win and said, 'let's step him up a bit now and race him in a Grand Circuit event at Lexington,'" McClelland recalled. "So we took him to the Red Mile and he won, and then we took him to Canada and he won there too." Pinkman captured a $77,120 International Stallion Stake division on Oct. 3, 2014 in a heart-stopping 1:53.3, then shipped to Woodbine Raceway where he captured the $463,690 Valley Victory Final in 1:55.4 on Oct. 24, 2014. He followed that up with a victory in the $500,000 Breeders Crown 2-Year-Old Trot Final, timed in a stakes-record-equaling 1:53.2 at The Meadowlands. For his efforts, the durable gelding was honored with a Dan Patch Award as 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt of 2014 after earning $566,960. "He's a very durable horse, easy to get along with and he doesn't win by much but he's always there," Richard said. Pinkman's sophomore campaign began in mid-May of this year, as he began a three-race win streak in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes competition. The only blemish on his otherwise spotless 3-year-old season came in a $25,000 Beal elimination on June 27 when he finished second by half a length to Wicker Hanover at Pocono Downs. "His blood count was a little low after that race," Richard explained. "It wasn't anything serious but enough to take the edge of him." Pinkman rebounded one week later to capture the $500,000 Beal Final in front-stepping style, timed in 1:51.3. He won the $157,250 Dancer Memorial at The Meadowlands in 1:52.2 on July 18, then stormed to a 1:52 triumph in the $370,000 Zweig Memorial at Vernon Downs on July 26. Then came August 8 at The Meadowlands and trotting's biggest event of the year. The McClellands, along with Pinkman partners Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ, John & Jim Fielding of Toronto, ON, and Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL watched the Hambletonian eliminations with nervous excitement, never doubting their trainer's confidence in the young gelding. "We have the majority of our horses with Jimmy or his daughter Nancy," Richard acknowledged. "We've been with them nearly nine years and currently have 12 horses in training with them." The McClellands did have one previous Hambletonian contender-the Cantab Hall colt High Bridge-who finished third in his elimination but a disappointing seventh in the 2013 final to the Brian Sears-driven winner Royalty For Life. Saddled with post ten in his elimination, Pinkman, with Yannick Gingras in the sulky, left hard from the outside, took the lead and then settled into second position behind stablemate The Bank (Johnny Takter), following him through fractional splits of :26.2, :54.3 and 1:23.1 before posting a :28 final brush. The final time of 1:51.3 equaled the world record for a 3-year-old gelding on a mile oval. The second Hambletonian elimination saw Gingras pilot the Ron Burke-conditioned filly Mission Brief to victory in a front-stepping 1:51.3, besting her rivals by nearly five lengths, with apparent ease. That triumph put Gingras in an enviable, yet frustrating position of having to choose between his two elimination winners. When he chose to drive Mission Brief in the final, it opened the door for Brian Sears to climb aboard Pinkman. "I tried to tell Yannick he was making a great mistake," Takter said. "Pinkman is such a fighter. He's not impressive, but he gets the job done every time. And I thought the filly didn't look as strong finishing as my horse did." Takter knows horseflesh and he obviously knew what Pinkman was capable of that steamy afternoon in East Rutherford, as the gelding easily held off the hard-trying Mission Brief in the final by three-quarters of a length-preventing her from becoming the first distaff to win the Hambletonian since Continentalvictory accomplished that feat in 1996. Pinkman's time of 1:51 in the final was also the third fastest clocking in Hambletonian history. The win gave Takter his fourth Hambletonian victory and his second straight-he won this race last year as both the driver and trainer of Trixton. The Hambletonian victory pushed Pinkman's lifetime earnings to $1,737,925 and gave the gelding his eighth win of 2015. He now has 14 wins and two seconds in 17 career trips postward for his Ohio, New Jersey and Canadian connections. "We'll have to wait and see what's next on his plate," Richard said of Pinkman. "The fact that he's a gelding does allow us to contemplate a lot more years of racing than if he was a colt. Right now we're just enjoying the ride." By Kimberly Rinker

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