East Rutherford, NJ - Breakfast with the Babies, Final Edition drew a small crowd of dedicated racing enthusiasts to enjoy the weather and the chocolate babka along with some nice trotting and pacing prospects. They ended as they began with the Jimmy Takter Stable the undisputed star of the show. NJSS two-year-old filly trot final winner All The Time put on a public workout this morning for the Takter/Yannick Gingras team cruising the oval in 1:57. The top Muscle Hill filly was not made eligible for the Jim Doherty Memorial, a good break for the competition in there but likely a disappointment for her camp comprised of owner/breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Straight A Student took a nice record of 1:58.1, nailing Time To Talk in the last stride or two for driver Mark MacDonald. Paul Kelly trains the filly, a $65,000 Credit Winner Lexington buy for his interests as Paul Kelley Racing along with partners Abraham Singer and Bill Weaver. Takter drove his Donato Hanover filly Haughty to an impressive 1:56.4, displaying a good late kick closing into the 28.3 final quarter. Jimmy bought her for the interests of Libfeld, Katz and Goldband for $80,000 at Harrisburg last fall. Threeupthreedown was a front end winner in the first trotting colt race for Tim Tetrick and trainer Erv Miller taking a record of 1:59.4 in the process. He's a homebred Muscle Hill racing for the interests of Shim Racing and Mike Anderson's Paymaq Racing. Zlatan won another baby race for Gingras and Takter, this on in 1:57 holding off Open Road Hanover. Christina Takter, Herb Liverman and John & Jim Fielding paid $37,000 for this Muscle Mass colt. This race was marred by an incident on the final turn where John Campbell was dumped from his sulky. John was up quickly but reportedly had gone in for an x-ray of the wrist. Reigning Moni looked great this morning after the break winning in 1:55.4 for Gingras and Takter in just the second start for the son of Donato Hanover. Yannick let him roll along through pretty good numbers and had more left, finishing in 28.1 to win by many. With the great Moni Maker a generation back in his pedigree, Reigning Moni is owned by a couple of her owners in KR Breeding, Preferred Equine along with Brixton Medical and Christina Takter. Western Fame won the first pacing race for Gingras and Takter in 1:55.4. He sat in behind Headforthebeach and got by that one late in the 28 second final quarter. He's a Brittany homebred Western Ideal colt. The Art Major colt Talk Show created a buzz all the way from Florida this winter and he has done nothing to discourage that talk. Trainer Steve Elliott gave Talk Show a few weeks off after a 1:52.3 NYSS win at Tioga and he looked sharp in this morning workout with Scott Zeron subbing for John Campbell in 1:54.1 home in 26.3 completely on his own. Pegasis Racing, Team S Racing and Barbara Bongiorno own this exciting prospect, a $40,000 buy in Lexington last fall. Yannick and Jimmy struck yet again with the Somebeachsomewhere pacing filly Bring A Ring in 1:56.1. She opened a long lead into the stretch and held on despite drifting out a few paths late. Bring A Ring was a $40,000 Harrisburg purchase by Christina Takter, John Fielding and Joyce McClelland. The final two-year-old race of the 2015 season at The Meadowlands was taken by Shezarealideal and Andy Miller. The Western Ideal filly already a PASS winner over at The Meadows, led all the way and closed the 1:55 mile with a 26.3 kicker. Darlinonthebeach was a restrained second and Call Me Queen Be third in a meeting of three stakes winning fillies. Nick Surick and KDM share ownership of the winner who was bred by Nick's mom Debbie Surick. Live racing resumes tonight at 7:15 pm highlighted by elimination races for the Peter Haughton and Jim Doherty Memorial freshman trotting classics. Until next spring... Videos will be attached as soon as they come to hand Race 1 - All The Time by Muscle Hill Race 2 - Straight A Student by Credit Winner Race 3 - Haughty by Donato Hanover Race 4 - Threeupthreedown by Muscle Hill Race 5 - Zlatan by Muscle Mass Race 6 - Reigning Moni by Donato Hanover Race 7 - Western Fame by Western Ideal Race 8 - Talk Show by Art Major Race 9 - Bring A Ring by Somebeachsomewhere Race 10 - Shezarealdeal by Western Ideal Meadowlands Media Department
When Yannick Gingras makes an appearance at a harness racing meeting at Vernon Downs, he has a strong tendency to be mightily successful on the racetrack. Such was the case on Sunday (July 26) afternoon, when he swept the filly and colt divisions of the Harry M. Zweig Memorial stakes. In the $185,000 Zweig for 3-year-old trotting fillies, Gingras settled Mission Brief ($2.60, part of entry) into the third spot out of her midpack post, tracking Wild Honey (John Campbell) and Magic Marker (Brian Sears) through a :27 initial quarter before brushing to the fore at race's midpoint. Just as Wild Honey slackened through a :56.1 half mile, Mission Brief charged past, opening up her lead to two lengths on the far turn. The daughter of Muscle Hill and Southwind Serena would hold that margin through a :55.3 final half, defeating Wild Honey in 1:51.4. Magic Marker stayed on to be third, while Gatka Hanover (Brett Miller) rallied mildly off cover to take fourth. Ron Burke trains Mission Brief for the Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, the J&T Silva Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi. Now a 12-time winner, Mission Brief has amassed $791,417 in career earnings. Mission Brief A mere hour after Mission Brief asserted herself in the $185,000 Zweig division for 3-year-old trotting fillies, Pinkman ($2.10, part of entry) found room up the inside to strike late from a pocket trip in the $370,000 Zweig event for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Beginning from post 7 as part of a four-horse Jimmy Takter-trained entry, Pinkman left strongly, stringing out Habitat (Brian Sears) in the early going before yielding to stablemate Canepa Hanover (Takter) after a :27.3 initial quarter. The gelded son of Explosive Matter and Margie Seelster drafted comfortably behind his stablemate through a :56.1 middle half, but was boxed at the apex of the far turn when Habitat attempted a first-over bid. With racing room at a premium in upper stretch, Pinkman found room up the inside, passing Canepa Hanover in the final sixteenth. He prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:52, a stakes record. Canepa Hanover held second, while Workout Wonder (Daniel DubÃ©) rallied late to take third past Wings of Royalty (Tim Tetrick). Also taking career win number 12, Pinkman stretched his career bankroll to $1,187,139 for Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. Pinkmam Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (July 31) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time. James Witherite
Pinkman and Mission Brief, last season's divisional champions, headline the 3-year-old trotting stakes at the harness racing meeting Saturday night at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. With the $1 million Hambletonian on Aug. 8 looming large on everyone's calendar, the two divisions of the Stanley Dancer and the $187,000 Delvin Miller for fillies offer the final chances for meaningful tune-ups over the track. The Dancer and the Miller are among the supporting events on the 14-race card topped by the $706,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. First post is 7:15 p.m. Pinkman, 4 for 5 this season for trainer Jimmy Takter and current Hambletonian favorite, tops the first $157,225 Dancer division. That lone loss was a half-length defeat in the Beal eliminations at Pocono Downs. "He was justly slightly anemic for the race," Takter said. "His red blood count was a little bit low. We had to change his vitamin program, and we got him back in good order." Pinkman was in good health for the $500,000 Beal final, winning in 1:51 3/5, a world record for a 3-year-old trotting gelding on a five-eighths mile track. "He came out of that race fantastic," Takter said. "He's feeling great. He's always a contender. He's probably the most consistent of my 3-year-olds." This will be Pinkman's return to the Big M after five starts this season on smaller tracks in Pennsylvania. "I think that's going to help him," Takter said of the mile oval. "I don't think it's any disadvantage for him at all." Pinkman has post 2, one slot inside of Takter's Capena Hanover who had a night to forget in the Goodtimes final at Mohawk Raceway last month. The colt headed into the race on a roll, having won the New Jersey Sires Stakes final at The Meadowlands by 3 1/2 lengths and a Goodtimes elimination in an 11 1/2 length romp. It blew up when the 1-5 favorite made a break just as Yannick Gingras steered him to lead down the backside. "I'm really not sure what happened," Takter said. "He's not an easy horse. When he's on his right day, he's as fast as anything. He's probably the fastest of my group, but he's a little bit tricky." Capena Hanover hasn't raced since the Goodtimes final on June 20, so Takter is using this race to sharpen the colt. "I trained him in 1:55 on my farm two weeks ago," he said. "I don't expect him to be up to Pinkman's condition right now but my goal, of course, is to have him as good as I can for the Hambletonian. Takter has trained three Hambletonian winners, including Trixton last year. The main threat to the Takter duo in the first Dancer division is Habitat, trained by Ron Burke. "He's a very nice horse," Burke said. "He's made the quietest almost $800,000 of any horse I've ever had. I just don't know if he can trot fast enough to beat the very best colts. I don't know if he can trot in 1:51 on the mile tracks, because that's what it takes." Muscle Diamond, Billy Flynn and Cruzado Dela Noche complete the field. Takter has three more Hambletonian prospects in the second $159,725 Dancer division: French Laundry, The Bank and Whom Shall I Fear. After Capena Hanover's miscue in the Goodtimes final, Takter was still sitting pretty as French Laundry made a bold move for the lead turning for home. And then he jumped off stride. "The track was a little funny that night," Takter said. "I don't think he got a 100 percent hold of that track. He lost his footing but until then, he was, for sure, the winner." "He's a top horse. He's very game and he rarely puts in a bad performance." Even after two breakers, Takter was still in the Goodtimes hunt as long shot The Bank came rolling late to get second money. The Bank returned to action last week at The Meadowlands, losing by only by a length after cutting the fractions against older rivals. "He's ready for a good mile," Takter said. "He may be a notch below the other horses we've mentioned, but he's not a bad horse. He could be a sleeper in this spot." Burke sends out Crazy Now, a nice closing third in the Beal final. "I have all the confidence in the world in him," Burke said. "I really expect a big mile from him Saturday. He was very good at Pocono and we didn't get the trip we wanted. He was full of trot at the finish and I look to be ultra-aggressive Saturday." Centurion ATM, Donatomite and Iron complete the lineup in the second Dancer division. Turning to the fillies in the Miller, the discussion starts with Mission Brief. She has won 11 of 15, including the Merrie Annabelle and the Breeders Crown here last year. She has raced only twice this season, taking a leg and the final of the New Jersey Sires Stakes on May 30 Mission Brief has qualified twice since then, making a break in the first effort while on a huge lead. Burke equipped her with trotting hobbles for the second qualifier on July 3, and she responded with a safe mile. She will retain the hobbles for the Dancer. "She trained very well this week," Burke said. "I'm not sure she's perfect yet. We don't think the hobbles are a big difference. We're trying to give her a little bit of confidence. Gait-wise, she's fine. She's had a little bit of a back issue and I'm trying to get her over it. I think I'm getting there." After her stellar freshman season, speculation swirled that Mission Brief would take on the boys in the Hambletonian instead of facing fillies in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks. Burke himself helped fuel the Hambo fever. Now he has backed off just a tad. "I've said all along: It's Hambletonian or bust," Burke said. "We're wavering a little bit. I've got to get her sound, otherwise it would be stupid to go there." "But you only have so many chances to win the Hambo, unless you're Takter, and you hate to pass it up." Saturday will go a long way to making that decision. Takter sends out Wild Honey in the Dancer, hoping for the best against the Dan Patch winner. "If Mission Brief is herself, she's in a class all of her own," Takter said "Wild Honey comes in off a great qualifier. She's a good filly in a good spot." Bee The Queen, Livinthefastlane, Spirit To Win, Magic Marker, Lady Winona and Lock Down Lindy complete the Miller field Darin Zoccali
A pair of Jimmy Takter trained and driven trotters reached the harness racing winner's circle and the pacer Boston Red Rocks remained unbeaten as two-year-olds in six divisions of the New Jersey Sire Stakes were in the spotlight at the Meadowlands on Friday, July 10, 2015. Silvia [$4.60] rallied in the final eighth of the mile to post her first career win in her second start, a $20,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes for trotting fillies, the first race. The daughter of Muscle Hill- My Favorite Chip, driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Ron Burke, trotted the mile in 1:56.2, finishing a half-length ahead of Everything N More [Muscle Hill] and two and a half lengths up on Energy Bar [Muscles Yankee] in third. A $100,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase, Silvia races in the name of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver-Bruscemi, J&T Silva Stables and Joe DiScala Jr. She was bred by Steve Stewart and Junior Yutzy. Brooklyn Hill [$2.20] delivered like a 1-9 favorite, coasting by the pacesetter Southwind Flash [Muscle Hill] for a two and a quarter length victory in the second race, a $20,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes for trotting colts and geldings. Sigmund [Muscles Yankee] was third by four and a half lengths. David Miller guided Brooklyn Hill to the 1:56.4 clocking. He tipped the trotter out at the top of the stretch and hand drove him to victory. The Muscle Hill - Brooklyn colt, trained by Jonas Czernyson, had finished second by a head in his first start in the opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes. Bred by the Order By Stable, he was a $390,000 Harrisburg Sale purchase for the SRF Stable of Boca Raton, FL. All The Time [$5.00] had the lead at every call and expanded that advantage with driver-trainer Jimmy Takter at the controls. The Muscle Hill-Cantab It All filly won the third race, the second $20,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes division for trotting fillies. All The Time finished a length and three-quarters ahead of Silent Blessings [Muscles Yankee], and it was two and three-quarters to Dream Child [Muscle Hill] in third. Bred and owned by Marvin Katz and Al J. Libfeld, she now has a win in two starts. Boston Red Rocks [$2.60] was tested a bit early and pressured on the turn for home and into the stretch but in the end, drew away like a 1-5 shot in the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes division for pacing colts and geldings, the fourth race. Unbeaten in two starts, Boston Red Rocks, a son of Rocknroll Hanover - McGibson, paced the mile in 1:52.2, with Hall of Famer John Campbell driving the Steve Elliott-trainee. Katies Rocker, who made the last turn challenge, was three and a half lengths back in second at the wire. Winning Linc was third by seven lengths. Both are also sons of Rocknroll Hanover. Bred by Andray Farm, Boston Red Rocks was a $50,000 Harrisburg Sale purchase by Floridians Peter Blood and Rick Berks. Jimmy Takter was back in the winner's circle as the driver-trainer of Bar Hopping [$7.80], who passed 1-5 favorite Southwind Frank in the stretch and held off the challenge of Marion Marauder in the final strides of the sixth race, the $20,000 second New Jersey Sire Stakes division for trotting colts and geldings. Bar Hopping, a son of Muscle Hill - Cocktail Hour, trotted the mile in 1:56.3, finishing a neck ahead of Marion Marauder [Muscle Hill]. It was a length back to Waitlifter K [Muscles Yankee] in third. Southwind Frank broke stride in the final sixteenth, finished fourth across the wire but was placed sixth for failing to lose ground. Bred by Douglass Hutchins, Bar Hopping was a $190,000 Harrisburg acquisition by Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz and Al J. Libfeld. The colt now has a win and a third in his two starts. Blue Moon Stride [$8.40], driven by Andrew McCarthy and trained by Mark Harder, fired to the front and scored a gate-to-wire victory in the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes for pacing fillies, the 11th race. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover - Classic Star paced the mile in 1:53.1, improving her record to a win and a second in two starts. It was a length back to Show Time Hill [Rocknroll Hanover] in second while 2-5 favorite Rock My Girl [Rocknroll Hanover], who won the opening leg last week, was third by two and a half lengths. Bred by Perretti Farms, Blue Moon Stride races for Australians Emilio and Maria Rosali A quartet of $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Finals for two-year-olds takes place next Friday night at the Meadowlands. Request For Parole took the featured event for older horses on Friday night, winning an upper-level condition pacing event for fillies and mares quite impressively. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, Request For Parole left for position, sitting the pocket behind the speedster, That Woman Hanover past the quarter in 27-seconds. From there, Matt Kakaley guided Request For Parole to lead as the field turned down the backstretch, but the lead was brief as Tim Tetrick steered Witch Dali to the front before the half-mile in 54-seconds. Kakaley kept his filly in the pocket around the far turn and was in a prime stalking spot past three-quarters in 1:22.1. Request For Parole moved off the pylons in the stretched and powered past to the lead and from there, the filly drew clear to win by two convincing lengths in 1:50. Longshot River Runs Thru It, who saved ground throughout the mile found room at the pylons and rallied well to finish second at 24-1 while Act Now rallied from far back to just nail Witch Dali on the wire to take the show spot. Request For Parole is trained by Ron Burke who co-owns the mare with Weaver Bruscemi L.L.C. The win was one of three on the program for Matt Kakaley. The 13th race Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed. The carryover into the Saturday program is $180,059.80. Racing resumes on Saturday, Meadowlands Pace elimination night, with a special 5:30 post time. The 14-race program includes a pair of $50,000 Meadowlands Pace Eliminations, a single $25,000 Mistletoe Shalee elimination, Reynolds trotting action for the three year old colt and filly trotters as well as the $250,000 Graduate Final that features a rematch of JL Cruze and Father Patrick. Carol Hodes from SBOANJ
A field of 8 upper-conditioned level pacers took the stage for the featured event at the harness racing meeting on Sunday afternoon (July 5) from Harrah's Philadelphia, going for a purse of $22,000. The heavy favorite in the wagering was Jimmy Takter trainee Somewhere In L A. The 4-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere is coming off of a stellar 2014 campaign, which saw him earn over $500,000 in 24 starts. He started quickly from the pole position, leading at the quarter in a rated :27.3. Scott Di Domenico trainee Bettors Glass drafted with pocket position, while Burke representative Rediscovery (Yannick Gingras) attacked first-over at the half (:56). Somewhere In L A maintained the advantage at three-quarters (1:23.3) before increasing the margin to 2 lengths at the head of the lane. Bettors Glass (Tim Tetrick) was able to make headway in the stretch tho, missing Somewhere In L A by just a head at the finish, in a final time of 1:50.4. It was the first win of the year for Somewhere In L A, who paid $3.00 to win. Bestjetyet (Geo. Napolitano Jr.) rallied for third. Somewhere In L A is owned by J&T Silva Stables, Deo Volente Farms, and T L P Stables. Michael Bozich
"I felt good in January, and that part hasn't changed," Teague said with a grin Saturday (July 4) after watching Wiggle It Jiggleit capture the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at the harness racing meeting at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono by 1-1/2 lengths over Artspeak in 1:48.2. "He doesn't disappoint. Even in his loss, I wasn't jumping off the bandwagon. He's a good horse. I still think he's one of the best 3-year-olds I've ever had." Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 13 of 14 career races for owner Teague, trainer Clyde Francis and driver Montrell Teague. His only loss came June 20 in the North America Cup, where he was defeated by Wakizashi Hanover by three-quarters of a length. On Saturday in the Hempt, Wiggle It Jiggleit took the lead following a :26 opening quarter-mile, fought off a first-over challenge from Pierce Hanover on the backstretch, and then pulled away down the stretch. Artspeak finished second, followed by In The Arsenal and Wakizashi Hanover. "When he cleared to the front I knew he had a pretty good shot at it," Francis said. "Wakizashi has a big kick on the end of it but he wasn't making up much ground. Halfway down the lane nobody got close to him and I knew they weren't going to catch him then." Montrell Teague, who won the Hempt in 2011 with Custard The Dragon, was taking nothing for granted. "I was looking everywhere; I was looking for anybody," he said. "I saw Timmy (Tetrick with Wakizashi Hanover) pull three wide and that's when I popped the earplugs and stepped on the gas because I know how good his horse is coming off cover." Wiggle It Jiggleit, a son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover, gave George Teague Jr. his fourth Hempt trophy. He trained Custard The Dragon as well as 2009 winner Johnny Z and 2008 champ Badlands Nitro. The gelding's next assignment will be the Meadowlands Pace. With the triumph, Wiggle It Jiggleit pushed his career earnings to $607,242. But the most important thing for Teague was the two people with whom he is sharing the ride. "Montrell and Clyde Francis are the best part for me," Teague said, adding about Francis, "We're like brothers. He works his (butt) off." Wiggle It Jiggleit Luck Be Withyou overcomes post nine in Franklin triumph The $500,000 Ben Franklin free for all pace turned out to be as thrilling as a front-end win can be as Luck Be Withyou held on by the shortest of noses over Domethatagain in 1:49 on Saturday (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Domethatagain, driven by Simon Allard, left from the rail off the gate, but Luck Be Withyou and George Napolitano Jr. took command before the turn from post nine. Luck Be Withyou led through a quarter in :26.2 and the half in :55, which were favorable fractions in the eyes of the 4-year-old horse's owner, John Craig. "I didn't think it was so bad when it was :26.2, because he got the lead in :26 last week in the slop, with a half in :53 and change," he said. "When I saw :55 at the half, I said 'There are good horses back there like Foiled Again and State Treasurer and they are going to come at him. I hope he has enough.'" Luck Be Withyou kept on chugging through three-quarters in 1:21.4. He was a length clear at the top of the stretch, with only Domethatagain coming at him up the rail. It took a long look at the photo before Luck Be Withyou was declared the winner, with favored State Treasurer third. Luck Be Withyou paid $10 to win as the public's second choice. "He had just enough," Craig said with a grin. "It's hard to explain to people the adrenaline rush you get when you see a race like that." Luck Be Withyou, by Western Ideal-Trim Hanover, is trained by Chris Oakes, who got some credit from his owner. "All the credit goes to those who work on the horse," he said. "I just watch and pay the bills." Luck Be Withyou Pinkman bounces back to win Beal in world record score Pinkman rebounded from his first loss of the year by posting a gate-to-wire win in Saturday's (July 4) $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, holding off stablemate Uncle Lasse by a head in a world-record 1:51.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Pinkman, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, and driver Yannick Gingras got the lead with a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and then controlled the race from there, going to the half in :56.2. Centurion ATM made a first-over bid on the backstretch, getting within a head of the leader, but was unable to get to the front. In the stretch, the Jimmy Takter-trained Pinkman held off Uncle Lasse to his inside to post his fourth victory in five starts this season. Pinkman's time was the fastest-ever mile by a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile track. Crazy Wow finished third followed by Centurion ATM. Last week, Pinkman finished second to Wicker Hanover in his Beal elimination and was found to be sick. "I can't complain about the trip, the fractions, everything went his way," Gingras said about Pinkman's performance in the Beal final. "He's got that intimidating speed; he can leave the gate so good. Last week leaving the gate I knew he wasn't quite right because he didn't leave the gate like he did today. Usually the first couple steps he just snaps right out. "Today he was back to himself and I don't even think he's a hundred percent. I'd say last week he was 50 or 60 percent and he was probably like 90 today. I think Jimmy can get him even better than this." For his career, Pinkman has won 10 of 13 races and earned $924,300 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. "I saw him open up at like 5-1 (odds) tonight and Crazy Wow was 3-5 or something," Gingras said. "They've got to start giving him credit. He doesn't do it flashy, he does it the way he did it today, but he gets it done. He's a winner." Pinkman Bettor Be Steppin wins wild Lynch Memorial What was a wide-open race on paper became a wide-open finish as Bettor Be Steppin and Corey Callahan got up to win the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old pacing fillies Saturday night (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:50.4. The race was heated from the start as The Show Returns gunned to the lead from post nine for driver Tim Tetrick. Favored Stacia Hanover (Scott Zeron) cleared to the lead in a first quarter in :26, with the outer flow setting up going to the half. Bettor Be Steppin wasn't a part of that forward flow, however, as she was shuffled back to last. According to her connections, stablemate Divine Caroline (David Miller) was getting the better trip "At the half I thought we were dead," said trainer Joe Holloway. "She was fourth on the rail, fourth or fifth, just totally boxed. Divine Caroline was on the outside, loaded with pace, so I was hoping to see her go. I was trying to watch them both and at the half I thought the only shot I had was Divine Caroline." Wicked Little Minx (Brett Miller), a 50-1 longshot, came first-over with Sassa Hanover (Yannick Gingras) third-over through a half in a swift :54.1. They paced through three-quarters in 1:21.4 before the leaders began to struggle and the closers came closing. Momas Got A Gun (Jim Morrill Jr.) was sitting third on the rail and somehow found room inside. She stuck a head in front before Single Me (Brian Sears) and Bettor Be Steppin came from way out. From the far outside, Bettor Be Steppin stuck a nose in front of Single Me at the wire. Momas Got A Gun finished third by a neck. The win was the fourth in seven starts this year for Bettor Be Steppin. She paid $33.60 to win. The 1-7 exacta paid $895.60 and the 1-7-6 trifecta paid $10,958.10. "This was a good horse last year," said Ted Gewertz, who co-owns the Bettor's Delight-Two Steppin' Sally filly with Val D'Or Farms and Rojan Stables. "She was having a little trouble earlier in the year. [2014 Horse of the Year] JK She'salady didn't make the final, so that helped." Bettor Be Steppin T.J. Burkett and Ken Weingartner / U.S. Trotting Association
Doesn’t it seem like a disproportionate number of last year’s better horses are either missing in action or performing at a level far below that of 2014? I took a look at the top 25 on last year’s All-Horse earnings list, and wasn’t surprised at what I found: Just about every one of them is either not racing at all, for one reason or another, or they’re failing to meet expectations. Father Patrick topped the list in 2014 with more than $1.6 million on his card. He won 12 of his 17 starts, including the Breeders Crown and the CTC, and set a 1:50.2 world record for a sophomore trotter on a 5/8 track at Pocono Downs. This year he’s one and two, having dropped his last two starts to J L Cruze in legs of the Graduate Series. Division winner McWicked, who set a world record of 1:47.3 at Pocono and won the BC, Hempt and Adios, was second on the list, and he hasn’t started yet. Nuncio, who won the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot, is racing in Europe. Sweet Lou, the only pacer ever to win his division at two and five, has been retired to stud in Pennsylvania. Trotting mare Shake It Cerry, a division winner at two and three, who took the KY Filly Futurity and the Elegantimage last year, has lost four times in 7 tries. The Armbro Flight, Meadows Maturity and Miami Valley Distaff are a few of her high profile losses. Bee A Magician, who didn’t have the sort of four-year-old season many expected, is dominating that division in a big way. That’s the top five from last year; it’s not a pretty picture. North America Cup winner JK Endofanera has had a problem handling late bloomers Doo Wop Hanover and Rockeyed Optimist in the Graduate Series. He’s one and two on the season. Ron Burke’s All Bets Off, who took the Messenger, Milstein and Rooney in 2014, won the Confederation Cup and his elimination for that one, but he lost his other five starts, including the Van Rose and the Molson. Hambletonian winner Trixton has been retired to stud. The 2014 Horse of the Year, JK She’salady, has fallen off the earth. She kicked her season off with a win in the NYSS at Tioga, but subsequently lost her Fan Hanover elimination, and the final, as well as her Lynch elimination. She finished a washed out fifth in the latter and won’t be a part of Saturday’s final. And number ten from last year’s money list is the venerable aged pacer, Foiled Again. In 2014 He earned $863,000 on six wins and lots of board finishes. This year Foiled has one win—the Battle of Lake Erie—in seven starts. He was shut out in the Levy, which he owned for a few years. Obviously numbers six through ten are no better in 2015 than numbers one through five. He’s Watching occupies slot number eleven. The diminutive son of American Ideal achieved a share of the all-age record for the fastest race mile ever on a mile track—1:46.4—in the Pace. He hasn’t started yet. Oaks winner Lifetime Pursuit is also a no show. The speedy Always A Virgin pacer, Always B Miki, who won the Tattersalls Pace, Bluegrass and Monument Circle, in addition to cleaning up in the ISS, had a setback and is expected back by fall. Two-year-old division winner Artspeak won his elimination and final for the NJSS, as well as last week’s Hempt elimination. However, he finished second in his Cup elimination and fifth in the final. Burke’s FFA mainstay Bettor’s Edge, who banked $674,000 last year, winning the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, has one win in nine starts. He was eighth in his Franklin elimination. Number 16 Sebastian K, who set his 1:49 world record this time last year at Pocono, opens his season there on Saturday against new kid, J L Cruze. Harper Blue Chip? Intimidate looks awful. Last year’s MLT and TVG final winner is 0 for 3 in the Mohawk preferred. Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach has been no factor in the Confederation Cup and the Graduate series. P H Supercam, the only millionaire by Million Dollar Cam, didn’t win the Levy like he did last year, but he took four preliminary legs, and is in sync with last year’s numbers. So numbers 11 through 20 give us P H Supercam in line with what he did in 2014, while the rest either haven’t started or are disappointments. Mission Brief, number 21, took her elimination and final in the NJSS, but has been a project in qualifiers ever since. Market Share is 0 for 3—no factor in the Cutler or the Maxie Lee. Clear Vision is 0 for 12, while Commander Crowe, who won the Yonkers International preview, and took the BC in his last start, has been retired. No wonder the racing seems soft this year; one would expect that there would be a mix of horses that improve their performance, and some that stay the same and others that show a decline. Eight haven’t started at all while Nuncio is in Europe. Trixton and Sweet Lou have been retired; Miki and He’s Watching are dealing with physical issues; McWicked, Lifetime Pursuit and Harper Blue Chip are mysteries to me; Sebastian will get it on this week. The faltering superstars from 2014, Father Patrick, JK She’salady, Mission Brief and Shake It Cerry, create the most apprehension. We need them back on track. And the old reliable types like Foiled, Bettor’s Edge and Clear Vision are making way for new blood, but where is it. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.
Nobody told Mother Nature that The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was having one of its biggest harness racing cards of the season last Saturday night. Heavy rain pummeled Northeastern Pennsylvania starting in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and it was still going strong by the time the elimination races for Sun Stakes Saturday had come to a completion. As a result, the track was plenty sloppy as some of the world's best horses stopped by in the hopes of making it through to the big-money Sun Stakes finals on the Fourth of July. Elimination races are always a tricky bit of business because, while everybody wants to win, the most important thing is securing that spot in the lineup when those purses go rocketing skyward. So, considering the slop and the strategizing, the results we saw Saturday might not have all that much bearing on what occurs in the Finals. But it still made for a memorable night of racing, one featuring some unexpected outcomes and many stellar performances. Here is a division-by-division look at what went down. JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE (3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES) This felt like the most wide-open field going into the eliminations, and Saturday's races didn't provide a ton of clarity. We do know that JK She'salady, who dominated the division a year ago, won't be around for the finals, as her recent struggles continued with a 5th-place finish in her elimination. Instead. The Show Returns wheeled out 3-wide with John Campbell in the bike to come up for a mild upset win in the division containing JK She'salady. Speaking of mid-priced upsetters, Momas Got A Gun wore down favored Divine Caroline for a win in her split at 6-1. The only favorite to hold form was Stacia Hanover, who controlled matters on the front end to win with Scott Zeron in the bike. As further proof of just how tight these fillies are heading into the finals, all three winners came home in the slop in identical times of 1:51:3. MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE (3-YEAR-OLDS) Most of the top competitors in the eliminations came right from the North American Cup finals held on June 20 at Mohawk. Wakizashi Hanover, who sprung a mild upset to win that race in Canada, used a pocket seat to win his elimination in 1:50:4 with Tim Tetrick in the bike. The horse he surprised at Mohawk, Wiggle It Jiggleit, righted his ship after the first loss of his career, handling his split with ease for driver Montrell Teague in 1:50:1. And Artspeak outdueled In The Arsenal in the final division by a head in 1:50; those two horses finished fifth and fourth in the North American Cup. Certainly everyone will be watching for a rematch between Wakizashi Hanover and Wiggle It Jiggleit in the final, and the draw for post position will be all-important, since those two appear to be evenly matched. EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL TROT (3-YEAR-OLDS) The night's biggest upset occurred when Pinkman, who was the 2-year-old divisional champ and had won three straight Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races to start 2015, was upended at the line by the late charge of Wicker Hanover, a 16-1 shot with Andrew McCarthy in the bike. In the first Beal split, heavy favorite Habitat made an early break, opening the door for Cruzado Dela Noche to come up first-over and surprise for the win in 1:53:3. Uncle Lasse won a showdown with Crazy Wow in the final division in a battle of odds-on horses. Trainer Jimmy Takter will have Uncle Lasse and an angry Pinkman in the final, so he'll most likely have a big say in the matter. But the preliminaries show that you can't take anything for granted, especially when horses as talented as Wicker Hanover can get away at such long odds. BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE (OPEN) The two eliminations provided a fascinating study on how races can be won in a variety of ways. In the first elimination, Luck Be Withyou, who had suffered a disappointing break of stride while leading his previous stakes race at Northfield, decided to give it another go on the engine on Saturday night. With George Napolitano on the bike, the 4-year-old stallion busted to the lead from the #8-hole and never looked back, hustling home to win in 1:50. In the second split, State Treasurer, a 6-year-old stallion who campaigns in Canada, had to deal with the dreaded outside #9 post. Driver David Miller stayed patient, even with his horse sitting last fifth-over at the three-quarter pole. Around the final turn he wheeled State Treasurer to the outside and the stallion blew by everybody for a last-to-first victory in 1:50:3. Most of the top aged pacers are headed to the final, including Foiled Again, the sport's all-time top earner who snuck in based on having the faster fifth-place finishing time of the two divisions. Saturday's final should be a donnybrook for the ages. With the eliminations in our rear-view, all that's left to do is look forward to the Fourth of July finals. Trust me, the on-track action on Sun Stakes Saturday will provide all the fireworks you'll need. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim Beviglia
WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing driver Brett Miller won with two daughters of Somebeachsomewhere, as five divisions of a $150,000 Pennsylvania All-Stars event for state-sired two-year-old pacing fillies were held over a sloppy track Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Brett Miller rallied Heels On The Beach out of the pocket and into a 28.2 final quarter to take the fastest division in 1:53.2 by 1½ lengths for trainer Larry Remmen and owner Bradley Grant. Brett then handled the homebred Pure Country in winning in 1:54.1, with back panels of 55.2 - 26.3 after a quarter-move making people sit up and take notice. Jimmy Takter conditions the promising miss for Diamond Creek Racing. The clocking of 1:54.1, and the winning tactic of quarter-moving, were matched by the Well Said filly Eloquent Grace and Yannick Gingras, in triumphing for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership combine of the Burke Racing Stable, Ed Gold, Howard Taylor (who has not driven a losing horse in two days short of two years), and the J&T Silva Stables. Well Said then completed a siring double while David Miller completed a driving double behind I Said Diamonds, wire-to-wire in 1:54.2 - 56 - 27.3 for trainer Chris Oakes and owners Omar Beiler, Dennis Coons, and Susan Oakes. David Miller's earlier success came with the only non-favored winner of the quintet, Tipton Teeez (though as the $5.40 second choice she paid less than favored Heels On The Beach's $6.00). Quarter-moving was again a winning path to Victory Lane, as the Western Terror miss stepped home in 28 to complete a 1:56.4 package for trainer Brian Brown and owner Jennifer Brown. ******* Wednesday finds the All-Stars action continuing with seven divisions of two-year-old trotting fillies going after $210,000. Incredibly for July 1, fully thirteen of the baby trotting misses already show marks in 2:00 or better, most of them in qualifiers, the fastest being the 1:58 of the Donato Hanover filly Womans Will (race 12, post two, driver Andy Miller). Two other horses to note are Broadway Donna (race 11, post three, driver David Miller), who won a p/m event in 1:58.2 at Philly, and who is out of a mare who is a full sister to Cooler Schooner, who set her amazing 1:51.3 world record here at Pocono; and the "hunch play," Kathy Parker (race 10, post one, driver Jimmy Takter), named after the journalist to be installed into the Communicators Hall of Fame this weekend at Goshen. All-Stars action closes out on the first Friday card of the season at The Downs, with six divisions of freshman colt pacers racing for a bounty of $180,000. Trainer Ron Burke has 14 entrants among the sextet of events - including, would you believe, SIX horses who show at least two winning lines and have never tasted defeat? Such a wealth of Burke talent will lure the world's winningest driver, Dave Palone, over to Pocono Friday, where he already has calls in five of the six events. But the fastest of the 24 entered babies who have already won in 2:00 or better (four in 1:55 or better) is not a Burke member, but Brooklynite (race 3, post two, driver Corey Callahan), a son of Somebeachsomewhere from the Joe Holloway barn who took an overnight at Philly in 1:54.2, matching a mark he first reached in a Meadowlands 2YO qualifier. Jerry Connors
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, June 27, 2015--If your favorite harness racing driver is Dan Dube and your favorite number is four, congratulations and go collect. Dube went "four-th" Saturday night, winning both halves of Yonkers Raceway's soggy $42,000 co-featured Open Handicaps. Great Vintage ($6.20) had nary an anxious moment in the weekly pacing feature, working around a returning P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) and strolling through fractions of :27.4, :57.1, 1:25.2 and 1:53.2. Great Vintage whipped 19-10 choice P H Supercam--out four weeks prior to this start--by a couple of lengths. Texican N (Eric Carlson) was a three-hole third, with Rock on Moe (Jordan Stratton) and a tough-trip All Bets Off (George Brennan) settling for the remainder. For second choice Great Vintage, a 7-year-old son of American Ideal trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners his wife, Christina, John Fielding and a pair of Gorans (Anderberg and Falk) it was his third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $19, with the triple returning $62.50. The week's marquee trot saw 11-10 choice Daylon Miracle--in one notch after an inside scratch--duplicate the down-the-road (:28.3, :58.2, 1:27, 1:56.4) MO of Great Vintage. Daylon Miracle held off a second move of outside assignee Luminosity (Brennan) by a length-and-a-half, with Backstreet Hanover (Tyler Buter), Rock of Cashel (Eric Goodell) and Lorenzo Dream (Carlson) rounding out the payees. For Daylon Miracle, a 6-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur owned (as Allard Racing) and trained by Rene Allard, it was her eighth win in 14 '15 tries. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $11.20, the triple returned $47.80 and the superfecta paid $165.50. The Raceway's live season continues Monday night (7:10 PM), Tuesday matinee (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note Sunday matinees are done until November. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker
Jimmy Takter trainee Katie Said (Brett Miller) took the harness racing featured pace on Friday afternoon from Harrah's Philadelphia. It was an open affair for fillies and mares going for a purse of $30,000. Starting from post two, Katie Said was taken off the early pace, settling down into sixth as Gallie Bythe Beach (Tim Tetrick) and race favorite Inittowinafortune (Scott Zeron) battled through a :26.3 opening quarter. As the pace settled down up top at the half (:54.4), long shot Rockaround Sue (Dave Miller) emerged first-over, with Katie Said establishing second-over position. After three-quarters (122.4), Katie Said circled around cover to challenge for the lead. She went on to win by a head, holding off the late surge of Ooh Bad Shark (Allan Davis) who settled for second. Request For Parole (Yannick Gingras) finished third. It was the second win for the daughter of Well Said ($12.20) for her new connections, as she completed the mile in 1:51.2. It was her twelfth career win in twenty-eight starts. Michael Bozich
The biggest day on the harness racing calendar every year in North America is Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands. With just eight weeks to go until the big day, the contenders are all stepping out and as has become the norm, Jimmy Takter trainees are at the forefront of many of the discussions concerning potential winners. Jimmy Takter needs no introduction to harness racing fans with a record of success with the straight out trotter that is second to none. A Hall Of Fame inductee in 2012 and a four time trainer of the year, Jimmy has already won three Hambletonians and last year was very special when he drove the winner of the Hambletonian and trained the winner of the Hambletonian Oaks. With over $13,000,000 in seasonal earnings in 2014, Jimmy shows no sign of slowing up and has several leading candidates for this years edition of the Hambletonian. They are headed by last seasons two year old Breeders Crown winner in Pinkman 1:52.2 ($696,925) who is three from three this season. Uncle Lasse 1:51.4 ($467,359) is another Takter trainee to start the season in the right fashion with a three from three record as well. Throw in the rapidly improving Canepa Hanover 1:51.1 ($112,150) and Jimmy will once again hold a strong hand in this years race. Recently Jimmy sat down on In The Sulky to give his thoughts on his runners this year. View here Harnesslink Media
During the winter, harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter said 3-year-old trotter Canepa Hanover could be "a Trixton kind of horse." As summer approaches, Canepa Hanover is doing his best to prove Takter correct. Canepa Hanover is the 2-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's C$233,000 Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-old trotters at Mohawk Racetrack. Last week, the colt won his Goodtimes elimination by 11-1/2 lengths over Iron in 1:51.3. The time equaled Trixton's track record set in last year's Goodtimes final. But the similarities don't end there. Both Trixton and Canepa Hanover are sons of stallion Muscle Hill, the 2009 Horse of the Year, and hail from highly regarded families. Trixton is out of the mare Emilie Cas El, who was Canada's Horse of the Year in 1994 and sister to stars Conway Hall, Angus Hall and Andover Hall. Canepa Hanover is out of the mare Cressida Hanover, who also produced 2006 Horse of the Year Glidemaster. Trixton sold as a yearling for $360,000; Canepa Hanover for $300,000. Both trotters were limited by growing pains at age 2 and were overshadowed by some of their stablemates heading into their 3-year-old seasons. Trixton emerged early in his 3-year-old campaign and went on to capture the Hambletonian Stakes; now it is up to Canepa Hanover to write the rest of his story. "He's going the same path," Takter said about Canepa Hanover, who has won two of five races this year and hit the board in every start. "A lot of these Muscle Hills, they have tons of ability, but it just takes time sometimes. "Both Trixton and Canepa were among the better horses early (at age 2) but both are very big horses and they couldn't hold the speed together. They just weren't ready for it. You have to have a little patience with them." Canepa Hanover won one of six races last year. His victory came in a Peter Haughton Memorial Stakes prep race in 1:58.1 at the Meadowlands and he finished second in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. He went off stride in three races, including the Haughton final. This year, the colt posted two second-place finishes and a third in his first three starts, then captured the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship in 1:51.1 at the Meadowlands and his Goodtimes elim in 1:51.3. Those are the two fastest win times of any 3-year-old trotter this season. "He's definitely a fantastic horse," said Takter, who trains Canepa Hanover for owners Brittany Farms, Brixton Medical Inc., Christina Takter, and the partnership of Sam Goldband, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. "His ability is unbelievable, as good as I ever saw. "You always worry when you have horses climbing this kind of speed staying sound. He already has two (1):51 miles and a couple (1):52 miles. It's tough racing. But he's a beautiful horse." Canepa Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras will start the Goodtimes final from post four. He's not Takter's only hope in the Goodtimes, either. French Laundry won the other Goodtimes elimination, beating stablemate The Bank by 3-1/2 lengths in 1:53.3. He will start from post three in the final with driver Brett Miller and is 2-1 on the morning line. French Laundry, a son of Muscles Yankee-Creamy Mimi, has won nine of 15 career races and earned $360,269 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Katz, and Libfeld. "He's not the best gaited horse, but he never gives up," Takter said. "He's a warrior. I like him." Following is the Goodtimes field in post order with sires, drivers, trainers, and morning line odds: 1. Hemi Seelster by Holiday Road, Stephen Byron, John Bax, 30-1 2. Caulfield by Kadabra, Trevor Henry, Chris Beaver, 30-1 3. French Laundry by Muscles Yankee, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 2-1 4. Canepa Hanover by Muscle Hill, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 2-5 5. Covert Operative by Deweycheatumhowe, Randy Waples, Per Henriksen, 30-1 6. Rubber Duck by Muscle Mass, Sylvain Filion, Julie Walker, 20-1 7. The Bank by Donato Hanover, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 10-1 8. Win The Day by Deweycheatumhowe, Chris Christoforou, Paul Reid, 20-1 9. Olympic Son by Majestic Son, John Campbell, Paul Reid, 30-1 10. Iron by Cantab Hall, Tim Tetrick, Frank Antonacci, 12-1 11. AE - Infiniti AS by Infiniti, Richard Zeron, Anette K Lorentzon by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA
Some trainers, like Jimmy Takter and Casie Coleman, fill their piggy banks during the second half of the year, when stakes racing opportunities are plentiful, while others grind out the wins and money from January to December. As a result, in checking how various trainers are faring this year, I’ll compare them to themselves; I’ll look at where they were on this date last year and see how far ahead, or behind, their mid-June of 2014 numbers they are. It’s no surprise that Ron Burke currently—and always--leads both the trainer’s money and dash lists, however, he is chasing last year’s pace. His veterans Foiled Again, Clear Vision, Bettor’s Edge and Rocklamation, are off to slow starts, for one thing. Burke has made more than 200 fewer starts than he made by mid-June a year ago, leading to more than 85 fewer wins and a shortfall of $1.2 million on the money line. He’ll have to hustle to surpass last year’s world record performance. PJ Fraley, who was handling the Bamond Racing stock, was second a year ago, and finished 2014 in the five slot. This year he disappeared from the planet, leaving the stable to Jeff Bamond Jr, and he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s currently number three on the list. Bamond has Matchmaker winner Venus Delight, as well as Anndrovette, Krispy Apple and Bettorever. Rene Allard, who was third at this juncture a year ago, and finished 2014 in eighth, has married success with aged money makers like Domethatagain and Yagonnakissmeornot, and good fortune with fresh stock like import Crombie A. Allard isn’t welcome at The Meadowlands, Tioga or Vernon Downs, but seems to be none the worse for it. Allard is almost $400,000 ahead of last year’s pace. The Grand Circuit isn’t his strength, so he will probably fall behind stakes trainers like Takter, Alagna and Coleman once again. Gilberto Garcia-Hererra, who was in the six slot in June of last year, has stepped up to number four. His stable has made 240 more starts, but he has only three more wins. However, he’s $300,000 ahead of his 2014 pace. Better stock accounts for this uptick. Julie Miller’s stable was hot during the winter and spring of 2014, with trotter Perfect Alliance winning eleven races. This led to her ascension to the five slot one year ago today. She drops to number nine, with 25 fewer wins and more than $370,000 less in earnings. Her top shelf Donato fillies, Livininthefastlane and Sky Hanover, may help turn that around. Carmen Auciello, who practices his trade on both sides of the border, is consistent; he was number seven in mid-June of last year, and is currently in the number eight spot. The same can be said of Ontario based trainer Richard Moreau, who was at eighth a year ago and is now at seventh. Mark Ford, who was ninth this time last year and is now tenth, also fits this template. Auciello, Moreau and Ford finished last year at the twelve, thirteen and fourteen spots. Irv Miller has taken a major nosedive, from the tenth spot a year ago to number 46 today. Miller, who finished 2014 third behind Burke and Takter, has made 92 fewer starts, has 21 fewer wins and is more than $490,000 short of what his stable had bankrolled this time last year. Josh Green experienced a similar drop-off, but the lengthy suspension he served helps explain that. He went from eleventh to forty-third. Green is off more than 200 starts and $457,000. The fact that Dancin Yankee, who was a beast out of the gate last year, started out like a lamb in 2015, hasn’t helped. Thirty-two-year-old Jose Godinez has rocketed up the charts. He went from the number 44 slot this time last year to number twelve right now. As recently as 2011 he only had 11 starters; he has 329 thus far in 2014. Godinez is up more than 30 wins and $415,000. He’s the number eight trainer at Yonkers Raceway. Virgil Morgan, who was tenth overall on the money list at the close of 2014, has benefitted greatly from the infusion of casino dollars into the Ohio purse account. He was twelfth at this time last year, but is now sixth. Veteran trainer Steve Elliott, who conditioned Donato Hanover and Well Said, wasn’t in the top 50 last June, but a star studded cast that includes Art History, Rockeyed Optimist and Doo Wop Hanover, have him at number 16, and that’s off of fewer starts than any of the trainers in front of him except for Jimmy Takter. Jim King Jr wasn’t in the top 50 a year ago, but he’s at number 27 today, with 55 wins and $611,952 in the bank. Cup contender Wakizashi Hanover, Lismore winner Purrfect Bags and Star Keeper are three of the reasons. Tony O’Sullivan, who finished 2014 at number 18, went from 23 in June of 2014 to number 13 today. His Art Major filly, Moonlit Dance, just won a Fan Hanover elimination. Scott Di Dominico jumped three spots to number 11, while Daran Casar, Heidi Rohr, Mark Harder, Joe Holloway, Amber Buter, Lou Pena and Kevin Carr all fell back. As was stated earlier, some of these trainers will automatically pick up steam when the Grand Circuit gets into full swing, while others will continue to mine the overnight sector, and in most cases drop to one degree or another. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.
Smokinmombo - especially her nose - foiled a Team Takter "sweep" of the three divisions of the $222,867 second leg Pennsylvania Sire Stakes event held Wednesday at the harness racing meeting at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. When the early smoke cleared, Smokinmombo found herself sitting second behind Wild Honey, the 1-10* Takterite who had won a division of the Sires first leg. Wild Honey maintained the lead to approaching deep stretch, but the Explosive Matter filly Smokinmombo had an explosive last 50 yards to hang the smallest margin of victory on the chalk in 1:53.4, completing one sweep in this, the night's third division -- all Wednesday's winners took lifetime marks. Aaron Merriman handled Smokinmombo, now a winner of three straight, for trainer Chris Beaver, who is also co-owner with Synerco Ventures Inc and James Gallagher. Sire Explosive Matter had a double Sires credit Wednesday, as his daughter Smexi overcame the outside post nine to post the biggest Sires victory margin, 1Â¼ lengths, while stopping the clock in 1:53.3. Corey Callahan handled the filly, who won her second consecutive race, for Jimmy Takter and her ownership of Christina Takter, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Jim Fielding. The Donato Hanover filly Sarcy emerged as the only repeat Sires winner as she warded off the late charge of Day Lily to win by a neck in 1:53.1. Yannick Gingras had sulky duties for Takter, with wife Christina and the Fieldings in the ownership combine of Sarcy, now with a winning string of three, along with Oakwood Farms. Jerry Connors
This was a particularly fun week of harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono because each of the four nights hosted either the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes or the Stallion Series. Since we had that unique phenomenon occur, I thought I'd give the Weekly Awards a break and simply focus on the races that went down in those two unique series. For those who are unaware, the Sire Stakes pit the best 2 and 3-year-olds in the state of Pennsylvania against each other through the spring and summer months with big stakes on the line, eventually wrapping up in finals which carry purses in the six figures. The Stallion Series also feature the freshmen and sophomores of the racing world, and although the horses that compete here are usually a notch below the Sire Stakes competitors and the purses are a bit lower, the winnings a horse can accumulate through the preliminary legs and the finals can be quite substantial. This week we got a look at the cream of the crop of three-year-old trotters of both the male and female gender. Here are some of the highlights: 3-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS SIRE STAKES TROT (Saturday night) The sport of harness racing's most prestigious race is the Hambletonian, and the way it appears now, we at Pocono witnessed the favorite for that race on Saturday night. Pinkman, from the barn of Jimmy Takter, won the 2-year-old Breeders Crown championship to end 2014 and started his 3-year-old campaign off with back-to-back dominant Sire Stakes wins. He didn't disappoint at Pocono on Saturday night, handling a tough field on the front end in a rapid 1:53 with Brett Miller in the bike. Oddly enough, the horse that could challenge Pinkman for 3-year-old honors is his stablemate Uncle Lasse, who cruised to his third straight Sire Stakes win in 1:52:2, the fastest time of the three divisions held on Saturday night. Brett Miller once again drove for Takter. The lone close Sire Stakes battle came when Wicker Hanover, with Andrew McCarthy in the bike for Noel Daley, won a wild stretch battle by a nose over Walter White in 1:53 for his second straight Sire Stakes win. 3-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS STALLION SERIES TROT (Sunday night) Just as the Sire Stakes held form, the Stallion Series races the following night blew that form up. Not one of the favorites in the five divisions came home a winner, as several broke stride early to end their chances. Give credit to those horses who came up big while the favorites faltered, such as Pierre and Colbert, who each picked up their maiden victories, and Paging Doctorlindy, who was racing for just the third time in his career. Mesmerized posted the night's fastest time in the Stallion Series with a seven-length romp in 1:53:4. Joe Pavia Jr. did the driving for trainer Frank Antonacci, who later scored a second win with Paging Doctorlindy. Meanwhile it was an up-and-down night for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt. He had two heavy favorites come up empty, but got a boost when Colbert knocked off odds-on favorite Hurrikane Jonny K in his split. 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES STALLION SERIES TROT (Tuesday night) Once again it was a Jimmy Takter trainee who stole the spotlight. Lilu Hanover, a filly who's had problems staying flat in the past, shook all that off in her division. With Takter doing the driving as well, she rolled to a four-length win and posted Tuesday night's fastest Stallion Series time of 1:54:1 in the process. Favorites Seduce A Stranger and Manhattan Miss also delivered on their odds-on promise to win splits. There were some mild surprises though. Wouldn't Itbesweet, with McCarthy aboard for trainer Jenny Melander, knocked off favorite Fashion Voyager in a fierce stretch duel. And Sistas, a 9-2 shot just joining the Chris Oakes barn, uncorked a late move from the pocket with George Napolitano driving to upend 3-5 Takter trainee Speak To Me in the night's biggest upset. 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES SIRE STAKES TROT (Wednesday night) It looked for all the world like we were headed to a Jimmy Takter sweep of the three Sire Stakes divisions on Wednesday night. First Smexi, with Corey Callahan in the bike, overcame a #9 post to win her split as a 3-5 shot in 1:53:3. Then Sarcy, benefitting from the late scratch of likely favorite Livininthefastlane, controlled matters on the front end with Yannick Gingras driving to win her division in 1:53:1. In the night's final division, Wild Honey, another Takter horse and winner of 11 of 13 lifetime starts, was a 1-9 favorite and appeared to be on her way to victory on the front end. But Smokinmombo, trained by Chris Beaver, pounced from the pocket late and outfinished the heavy favorite to win by a nose in 1:53:4, providing a thrilling exclamation point for this exciting collection of stakes races. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. Jim Beviglia,