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Maven has been the darling of the harness racing press and a hefty chunk of the sport’s fan base for the past few months. She’s taken the crown from Foiled Again, who held that distinction for a couple of years. The six-year-old daughter of Glidemaster—the only top tier trotter that sire has produced in North America—only won four races during 2014, and only one of those was a grade one stakes race. She set a track record in winning the Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs in November. Her other three wins came in the Miami Valley Distaff in mid-May, a preferred trot at Pocono in August and the BC elimination at the Meadowlands. Maven finished out in three legs of the Miss Versatility Series, which she won in 2013, and was third in the final at Delaware, which division champ Classic Martine won. She earned $333,027 between her dozen starts in NA and a pair in Europe. So what’s all the fuss about? Why is Maven the flame of the Twittersphere and the horse harness scribes have elevated to the top of the pile? Her pedestrian numbers during the past year scream journeyman in a slump—not superstar. Racing in Europe adds some panache to her resume, but she has one third place finish to show for five European starts last season and this. Maven’s popularity obviously extends to the sales ring as she brought a record $750,000 bid from Herb Liverman at Harrisburg in November. And he already owned a piece of rival Bee A Magician. One of Maven’s problems is that Liverman is determined not to have the pair go head to head. That means Maven is stuck in Europe, or destined to take on the boys back home. Neither of those scenarios looks promising at the moment. Contrast Maven’s overseas performance with the much less celebrated Arch Madness, who made eight starts in Europe during 2011, 2012 and 2013. He won two of them, the 2011 Oslo Grand Prix and a heat of the Elitlop. He finished second in the latter twice and was third three times in European races. Arch got some publicity for all of this, particularly in Canada, but Maven seems to be leaving him in the PR dust despite a much shorter record of accomplishment. Something similar has been happening on the pacing side. Eleven-year-old Foiled Again is still the most popular pacer in NA. He was second to Sweet Lou in division earnings in 2014, thanks to making the board in 19 of 26 starts, but he had no grade one stakes wins. The Quillen was his only significant victory, and that one isn’t very important at this point. He won four legs of the Levy, then went winless for the season except for his Quillen elimination and final. In 2013 he was wildly popular and a candidate for Pacer of the Year, despite suffering 18 losses. Foiled’s hook is excellence over many years, consistency and the money record for pacers that he holds. Maven was good at two and three, winning 15 times and earning more than $900,000, but she took a back seat to Check Me Out until the late fall of her sophomore campaign. She was the standout in her division at four, winning 10 times and banking more than a half million dollars, and had an off year in 2014. This exaltation on the part of fans and the press is curious. Some of it has to do with her newsworthy passage from Jonas Czernyson to Ron Burke to Jimmy Takter. And participating today in the premier race in France for last year’s trainer and driver of the year doesn’t hurt. But with each non-competitive loss on the Continent, we should get less cheerleading and more questions about why she has been placed on a pedestal.  by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 24, 2015 - Harness racing driver Dan Dube, off to a solid start to the season, continue his roll Saturday night by sweeping both of Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night $35,000 co-features. In-form Not Again ($4.40) defended his marquee trot title, winning this Open Handicap event in 1:56.3. Assigned outside his six rivals, Not Again, as the second choice. was in play early. Eschewing a three-hole, he drove on, getting around Meadows invader Count Me In. That one, the 11-10 favorite, took over from lone lass Backstreet Hanover (Tyler Buter). Not Again threw down the gauntlet (:27.3, 57.3, 1:26.2), taking no outer-tier pressure whatsoever. Count Me In pulled pocket early, and that would cost him. Not Again wound up winning by length-and-a-quarter, with 45-1 rank outsider Sim Brown (Mark MacDonald) slipping up the cones for second. Count Me In was third, with Hoorayforvacation (Eric Carlson) and Star Photo (Eric Goodell) rounding out the payees. Backstreet Hanover jumped it off entering the final turn. For Not Afraid, a 6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Anderberg, it was his second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $98, with the triple returning $228. Dube won the blind-draw Open Pace was a pocket-patrolling Michael's Power ($10.40). That one, from post No. 6, left outside of Sapphire City (Carlson). He then gave it up to a quarter-move by just-over-even-money favorite Warrawee Needy (MacDonald). It was "Needy" laying down the law through intervals of :27.1, :56 and 1:23.2, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. However, that quick third quarter could not separate himself from the gang, and the gang swallowed him up. It was Michael's Power ducking inside, beating a closing Take it Back Terry (Brennan) by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.4 Sapphire City, Warrawee Needy and a season-debuting P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) settled for the remainder. For third choice Michael's Power, a 6-yer-old Camluck homebred gelding owned by Jeff Snyder and trained by Mark Silva, it was his second win in three '15 tries. The exacta paid $52, with the triple returning $244. Dube won four races during Saturday's dozen-race card. The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Frank Drucker  

Maven, with Jimmy Takter aboard, trained today at Paris-Vincennes and impressed observers. Video in French is atttached with this story. She reportedly (by Paris-Turf) trained three 1,600 meter trips including a 500 meter sprint in 1.13.5kr. She will race barefoot on Sunday over the Vincennes surface, as will many other starters. Originally built in 1860, and subsequently rebuilt on several occasions, the track can handle 60,000 spectators and its’ surface is a cinder-like material that the trotters effortlessly float over, almost without sound. Paris-Vincennes has hosted the Prix d’Amerique since 1920 when it was created to honor America for its efforts to save France in WWI. Except for two years during WWII when the facility accommodated American troops and supplies. The fabulous Prix d’Amerique has been raced continuously and, in my opinion, honors America like no other sporting event. Fans from throughout the world make the annual trip to Paris to take in Prix d’Amerique week and cheer for their favorites. Here is the field for the Prix d'Amerique 2015 2700 meters, €450,000 for the winner. 1. Vulcain de Vandel - Franck Nivard 2. Tumble Dust - Jos Verbeeck 3. Voltigeur de Myrt - Gabriele Gelormini 4. Solvato - Örjan Kihlström 5. Olmo Holz - Christophe Martens 6. Linda di Casei - Alessandro Gocciadoro 7. Aladin d'Ecajeul - Mathieu Abrivard 8. Kadett C.D. - Robert Bergh 9. Mosaique Face - Pierre Vercruysse 10. Uhlan du Val - Cédric Megissier 11. Severino - Damien Bonne 12. Napoleon Bar - Enrico Bellei 13. Texas Charm - Julien Dubois 14. Maven - Yannick Gingras 15. Up And Quick - Jean Michel Bazire 16. Tiego d'Etang - Christian Bigeon 17. Timoko - Björn Goop 18. Roxane Griff - Eric Raffin by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink;com

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, January 11, 2015-Yonkers Raceway's first French-exported program of the season went postward Sunday afternoon. The first seven races on the dozen-race card were oversized fields (11, 12, 10, 10, 9, 10 and 10 trotters, respectively, after scratches) at the mile-and-one-quarter distance. The seven races attracted 1.16 million Euros (approximately 1.38 million U-S dollars) to an audience which included France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spanish Basque community, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Holland, Estonia and Malta. The week's marquee trot, a $44,000 blind-draw Open, featured the standard eight starters at the standard eight furlongs. It also featured a predictable result with 2-5 fave Not Afraid (Dan Dube)-from post position No. 5--going as the distance (:28.4, :57.4, 1:26.3, 1:55.1) to win as he pleased. The final margin was five lengths over second choice Backstreet Hanover (Eric Carlson), with Take My Picture (Jason Bartlett) third and In Nomine Patri (Jim Marshall III) fourth. The gimmicks returned $5.60 (exacta), $11.80 (triple, three wagering choices in order) and $89.50 (superfecta). Not Afraid, a now-6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Andeberg, earned more than $154,000 a season ago. Special Sunday props to driver Brent Holland, who is taking his talents to Miami...Valley, that is. The affable Holland, an Ohio native, is relocating there and we wish him well. Holland did win Sunday's $15,500, second race with favored Bambino Hall ($4.50), trotting the added distance in 2:31.2. The Raceway's live season continues Monday night (7:10 PM). After that, it's Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). The next scheduled Sunday matinee is Feb. 22. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

For the first time since 1979, one of the last preparatory race prior to the Prix D’Amerique, the Prix de Belgique , has only ten trotters entered for this Sunday at Paris-Vincennes. The purse is at $145,000 (US). Since 1990, the last of the "B" race has at least twelve starters. This edition promises to be very special, and will not be supporting the quinté + bet. The morning line favorite for the race is Vabellino (2 - Eric Raffin), who races barefoot and can win his ticket to the big race if successful as the winner of the race gets an automatic entry into the Prix D’Amerique . Another favorite in the field is Up And Quick ( 10 - Jean- Michel Bazire ) who will be handicapped twenty-five meters, and will wear shoes with Jean -Michel Bazire driving . Texas Charm (9 - Julien Dubois), will race with shoes too. Elles W Phedo (1 - Johanna Lindqvist ), better known in the European races, tries his luck against the elite, racing without shoes. Here is the field for the Prix de Belgique 1. Elles W Phedo–Johanna Lindqvist 2. Vabellino–Eric Raffin 3. Very Nice Marceaux–Pierre Vercruysse 4. Solea Rivelliere–Philippe Daugeard 5. Kadett CD–Robert Bergh 6. Uhlan du Val–Cedric Megissier 7. Roxana de Barbray–Gabriele Gelormini 8. Severino–Christian Bigeon 9. Texas Charm–Julien Dubois Trailing the field by 25 meters 10. Up and Quick–Jean Michel Bazire Maven also races on the same program and headlines the Prix Tenor de Baune, a race for 6-year-old trotters over the 1-11/16 mile distance, also for a purse of $145,000. There are ten entered in the race and Maven drew the far outside post 10 as she is the highest money earner in the field. She will again face Solvato (Orjan Kihlstrom), who two weeks back captured the Prix de Bourgogne at Vincennes and earned an automatic entry to the Prix D’Amerique. Solvato was bred in the United States and is a full brother to world champion filly, Shake It Cerry. Here is the field for the Tenor de Baune 1. Claes Boko–Johanna Lindqvist 2. Valko Jenilat–Glenny Delaune 3. Voyage de Rêve–Jean Philippe Dubois 4. Vulcain de Vandel–Franck Nivard 5. Villeroi–Eric Raffin 6. Chelsea Boko–Bjørn Goop 7. Voltigeur de Myrt–Gabriele Gelormini 8. Solvato–Örjan Kihlström 9. Mosaique Face–Jos Verbeeck 10. Maven–Jean Michel Bazire By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

The final field of 18 is set for Sunday’s Prix de Bourgogne, the third “B” leading to the Prix d’Amerique. The lineup is shown (not in post-position order) below, in sequence by career earnings. Some drivers have not yet been listed The Gr. II UET Masters Series International event carries a €120,000 purse over 2100 meters autostart distance. The winner of the race gets an automatic invite to the prestigious Prix D'Amerique. (horse, driver, trainer, career earnings in euros) Viscaria,tbd, Gillot, 346,360 Oibambam Effe, Carro, Carro, 384,992 Viking de Val, Lambertz, Lambertz, 547,340 Solvato, Kihlstrom, Heiskanen, 596,686 Amour d’Occagnes, tbd, Rebiche, 635,180 Soleil du Fosse, tbd, Duvaldestin, 685,160 Talicia Bella, Barrier, J-P Marmion,685,250 Kadett CD, Locqueneux, Bergh, 814,722 Mosaique Face, Kolgjini, Kolgjini, 850,598 Uhlan du Val, C. Megissier, C. Megissier, 895,390 Severino, Bonne, Ch. Bigeon, 956,649 Texas Charm, tbd, Moulin, 1,070,530 Up And Quick, Vercruysse, Leblanc, 1,258,060 Maven, Gingras, J.W. Takter, 1,267,094 Tiego d’Etang, Ch. Bigeon, Ch. Bigeon, 1,394,280 Roxane Griff, E. Raffin, Guarato, 2,567,218 Timoko, Goop, Westerink, 2,824,278 Ready Cash, tbd, Duvaldestin,4,282,300 The richly-talented field should produce an exciting event and should solve questions such as the fitness of Ready Cash and Up And Quick, whether Solvato can handle this deep group, Maven’s ability to handle the ship from the US and Texas Charm’s form as he seeks to defend his victory last year in this race. Earlier it was announced that Bjorn Goop will rein Timoko in the Prix d’Amerique due to his experience versus Criterium Continental winner Tumble Dust. The traditional Christmas Day Quinte+ at Paris-Vincennes features the Prix Constant Herview (Gr. III European, €105,000 purse, 18 starters). This well-balanced group includes Lutfi Kolgjini trainee Olympic Kronos (Locqueneux), Vico du Petit Odon (Bonne), Osiride Grif (Pierre Levesque), Velleroi (Gelormini) and Rapay Merci (Barrier). by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

MANALAPAN, NJ - December 23, 2014 -Harness racings Hambletonian winner Trixton will receive the 2014 Secretary of Agriculture's Trophy as New Jersey Standardbred of the Year as selected by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Trixton and Deo Volente Farms, the 2014 New Jersey Breeder of the Year and the trotter's new home, will be among the honorees at the 58th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon at 1 p.m. on January 25, 2015 at Charley's Other Brother in Eastampton Township, NJ. Trixton will begin his career as a stallion in 2015, standing at Deo Volente Farms in Franklin Township, NJ for a fee of $12,000. "We think Mike Gulotta [CEO of Deo Volente Farms] has demonstrated great foresight to stand Trixton in New Jersey," said Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association President Tom Luchento. "We hope breeders will share his faith in the future of the New Jersey program and breed their mares to Trixton." Trixton was one of three stellar three-year-old trotting colts in the stable of Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter in 2014, heading into the prestigious Hambletonian on August 2 at the Meadowlands. While his stablemates, Father Patrick and Nuncio, seemed like the stronger contenders, it was Trixton who prevailed, with Takter picking up his first Hambletonian as a driver and third as a trainer [Malabar Man in 1997 and Muscle Massive in 2010]. Nuncio was second and Father Patrick made an uncharacteristic break in stride, finishing out of contention. Trixton's sire, Muscle Hill, is a son of Muscles Yankee; all three generations are Hambletonian winners and stallions who have stood in New Jersey. Trixton's 2014 victories also included the Good Times, Simpson, Reynolds, Simcoe and the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship. He was also honored as New Jersey Sire Stakes Horse of the Year. A $360,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase, the trotter raced for the partnership of Bengt Agerup's Brixton Medical AB of Orsundsbro, Sweden and Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ. He was bred by Steve H. Stewart of Paris, KY; Martti Ala-Seppala of Hollola, Finland and John Bootsman of Ekero, Sweden. In two seasons of racing, Trixton earned $947,057, taking a mark of 1:50.3 and posting 12 wins, two seconds and two thirds in 19 career starts. For tickets to the awards luncheon, which are $35 each, contact Kim Tkacs at 609-292-8830. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ          

For the fourth time in his Hall of Fame career, Jimmy Takter is the Trainer of the Year as voted upon by the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Also voted a Dan Patch Award, as Driver of the Year, was Yannick Gingras, who led all drivers in purses this season with more than $17 million. Takter received 84 of 140 votes for Trainer of the Year, finishing ahead of Ron Burke, who got 56 votes. Gingras was the only driver nominated for Driver of the Year by USHWA's chapters. Despite starting horses only 729 times through Dec. 21, Takter's stable earned a career-best $13.35 million, for an average of more than $18,300 per start. Takter, 54, won this year's Hambletonian with Trixton, a horse he also drove to the victory, and the Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit. Takter became only the second trainer to win both races in the same year, joining Jan Johnson from 1988. The Hambletonian was the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown and Takter-trained Nuncio swept the remaining two legs, the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot. In addition, Takter won three Breeders Crown trophies, with 2-year-old male trotter Pinkman, 3-year-old male trotter Father Patrick, and 3-year-old female trotter Shake It Cerry. Shake It Cerry was named the Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year while Pinkman and Father Patrick received divisional honors. Takter dominated the 3-year-old trotting ranks, as he had the top three money-earning colts (Father Patrick, $1.69 million, Nuncio, $1.45 million and Trixton, $893,370) and the top two money-earning fillies (Shake It Cerry, $1.23 million and Lifetime Pursuit, $795,216). Father Patrick and Nuncio made Takter the first trainer in history to have two million-dollar trotters in the same division in the same year. Among Takter's top pacers were 3-year-old male stakes-winners Lyonssomewhere, who captured the Cane Pace, Somewhere In L A and Tellitlikeitis, along with 3-year-old filly stakes-winner Uffizi Hanover. Takter's previous Trainer of the Year honors came in 2010, 2000 and 1996. The 35-year-old Gingras has established career highs in purses, with $17.29 million, and wins, with 555. His earnings led all drivers in North America and were more than $5 million ahead of second place. Never in history has a driver finished at least $5 million in front of his nearest competitor. In addition, Gingras' purses were fourth highest in history for a driver. Gingras won four Breeders Crown titles, victories that were among 15 triumphs worth more than $300,000 this year. Those 15 lucrative wins came with nine different horses and included the Canadian Trotting Classic, Hambletonian Oaks, Little Brown Jug and Cane Pace. A native of Quebec, Gingras was USHWA's 2003 Rising Star Award winner. Takter and Gingras will receive their awards at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet, to be held Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Doubletree Hilton Orlando at Sea World. by Ken Weingartner, for the US Harness Writers Association    

Trixton, who trotted the fastest mile in New Jersey Sire Stakes history, has been selected as the New Jersey Sire Stakes' Premier Division Horse of the Year for 2014 while Strut My Stuff was named the Green Acres' Horse of the Year. The awards, which are voted annually by the New Jersey Sire Stakes Board of Trustees, are based solely on performances in races for New Jersey-sired horses, including NJSS races and other major stakes for NJ-sired horses. Trixton established the Sire Stakes record of 1:52.1 in winning the NJSS Premier Division Championship Final for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings in May at the Meadowlands. He was undefeated in NJSS competition, also winning a preliminary leg of the Premier Division. Jim Takter, who was the colt's trainer, drove in both victories. After his NJSS campaign, Trixton went on to win the Good Times and Simcoe at Mohawk in addition to the Reynolds and the $1,006.125 Hambletonian at the Meadowlands. The son of Muscle Hill won eight of 11 starts overall as a three-year-old, earning $893,370 overall this year for his owners Christina Takter and Brixton Medical Ab. The colt was bred by Steve Stewart, Marti Ala-seppala and John Bootsman. Strut My Stuff was undefeated in three NJSS Green Acres series starts at Freehold, including the $25,000 championship final for two-year-old pacing fillies in that series where she established a new Green Acres record for her division. Additionally, the daughter of Western Ideal was victorious in the $59,000 filly division of the Lou Babic. Trained by Ross Croghan for co-owners Let It Ride Stables of Boca Raton, FL and RBH Ventures of New York, Strut My Stuff finished the year with career earnings of $52,620. by Christopher Castens, for the New Jersey Sire Stakes

Winner: Jimmy Takter won three Breeders Crown races and is already an amazing $5.4 million ahead of last year’s $7.8 million earning’s figure. Shake It Cerry was already assured of a division win, while Father Patrick and Pinkman probably won their divisions last night. Loser: Always A Virgin came into the BC poised to have two winners and, if that happened, two division titles. This would have given the ten-year-old stallion, and the Indiana program he spearheads, a huge boost. Unfortunately, Always B Miki scratched out of the sophomore colt pace and his filly counterpart, Color’s A Virgin, was too far back in her race and finished fourth. Winner: McWicked stepped up and seized control of a floundering division with his BC victory. Neither the Adios nor the Hempt would rate grade one status in today’s environment, so McWicked needed a top shelf win to bolster his resume. That combined with his earning’s lead should give him a solid shot at division supremacy. Casie Coleman said he may have one more start in him. That would no doubt be the Progress Pace, which he can supplement to for $25,000. A win in the Progress should secure division honors. Loser: Joe Holloway had a clear path to a division title and a start in the lucrative TVG with Always B Miki, but that one was a late scratch when he injured a leg in his stall just prior to post time. Beyond that, Holloway came into the season positioned to dominate the aged pacing mares with four-year-old hotshots Shebestingin and Somwherovrarainbow. However, Rainbow finished tenth in the BC while the world record holder, Shebestingin, has only started three times since the end of July—all losing efforts. Winner: Yannick Gingras added $1.5 million to his earning’s pile over the past week. He has now handily eclipsed Tim Tetrick’s $16.1 million winning total from last year and Gingras is already $2.2 million up on what he earned in all of 2013. He won four BC races, and no doubt would have had five if he maintained his relationship with JK She’salady. Loser: Tony Alagna, the third leading trainer last year and currently ranked seventh, didn’t have any starters in the dozen BC finals. Captaintreacherous has been retired and Artspeak was shut down for the season. It’s unusual for a trainer like Alagna, who specialized in high-end stock, to be a bystander come BC weekend. Last year he won with Captain T and was second to Nitelife with Authorize. Erv Miller, who is the third ranked trainer on the earning’s list, also had no starters, but that’s not really his field of play. Winner: John Campbell’s off the pace wins with 4-1 Thinking Out Loud and 10-1 Shelliscape give him a record 47 Breeders Crown wins. Winner: Father Patrick has won 22 of his 28 lifetime starts and earned $1.6 million this year—$235,000 more than any other NA trotter or pacer. Yet, as was the case with Captaintreacherous during his sophomore season, Patrick seems to take a lot of heat. Going into last night’s race it was understood that a win by Nuncio would give him the division as well as serious Horse of the Year consideration. But now Patrick owns the division for good and will be given an opportunity to further his redemption for losses in the Hambletonion, Matron and Erskine when and if he takes on his elders in the TVG. Winner: JK She’salady probably secured Horse of the Year honors with her BC win in track and stakes record time. She completed a perfect 12 win season. The daughter of Art Major would be the first freshman filly ever to win that award. Loser: Jeff Gural had to be pleased that the weather cooperated and business was good over Breeders Crown weekend. However, BC wins by Traceur Hanover, trained by the indefinitely suspended Corey Johnson, and the PJ Fraley trainee Shelliscape, had to leave him with a sour stomach. Fraley, along with Rene Allard, whose Yagonnakissmeornot finished fifth as the favorite in the aged mare pace, were both deemed persona non grata by Gural last year. Legal precedent and BC staking rules left him with no choice but to allow the trio to compete. After Traceur won the freshman pace Johnson, who towered over everyone else in the winner’s circle, drew all eyes. The fact that good guy Andy Miller drove Traceur and handled the post-race interview offered some relief for Meadowlands and Breeders Crown execs. Winner: Hanover Shoe Farms had a very good weekend. Nineteen-year-old Western Ideal, who had grown out of favor with the buyers as his New Jersey eligibility lingered on, has turned that around of late. His son Always A Virgin has generated plenty of publicity this year and now Hanover has Traceur Hanover to join Artspeak at the vanguard of the freshman pacing ranks. The latter was a winner because In The Arsenal, who finished second behind Traceur Hanover, did not wrestle the division away from him. Also, Pinkman, winner of the two-year-old colt trot, gives the young stallion Explosive Matter the potential star performer he’s been searching for. Hanover also got wins from Father Patrick, a son of their premier trotting stallion Cantab Hall, and Donato’s daughter Shake It Cerry. Winner: With Thinking Out Loud, who is not a viable candidate for division honors, winning the BC open pace, Sweet Lou, who was second, set himself up nicely for division honors. Winner: Marginal pacing stallions stepped to the fore over the weekend. McArdle is trying to establish himself in slots rich Ohio and having McWicked, his number two son after One More Laugh, win the BC and in so doing pave the way for a division title, helps immeasurably in that regard. And ten-year-old Tell All has failed to light it up thus far in the stallion ranks, but that win by supplemental entry, Sayitall BB, certainly helps. Bob McIntosh would probably scoff at the notion that Ponder is a marginal stallion, but the volume has been so thin that it sometimes seems like they all belong to him. Diamond Creek is currently addressing that issue in Pennsylvania. Adding a BC trophy to Thinking Out Loud’s hardware collection will give the effort a boost. And while Artiscape’s great daughter Rainbow Blue has a BC trophy on the mantle; paternal sister Shelliscape now has two of them. by Joe FitzGerald for   http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com  

MCWICKED TAKES BREEDERS CROWN COLT PACE

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – One of two namesakes of the popular AMC drama Breaking Bad, the Jimmy Takter-trained Pinkman took the lead into the backstretch and held off all foes to win the $500,000 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Trot in 1:53.2.   Guess Whos Back gained control, while Uncle Lasse loomed closer to his outside. Through a :27.4 first quarter, Uncle Lasse (Ron Piere) took the lead. Pinkman soon followed the move of his stable mate, and gained the lead before the half.   Once in front, Pinkman was left uncontested through fractions of :56.4 and 1:25.3. French Laundry (Brett Miller) led the two-wide charge, with Muscle Diamond (John Campbell) riding his back.   Pinkman was drifting off the cones through the stretch, allowing French Laundry to dive to the inside and attempt to gain ground. Muscle Diamond put in his final charge towards the center of the course, and could only finish second to Pinkman, doing so in a track and stakes time. French Laundry was third, and Habitat (Brian Sears) was fourth. "I qualified him two starts ago, Gingras said, "and he was so good on the front in the qualifier. Last week in the eliminations, Brian came and I let him go, but tonight I felt it was his race to lose and I wanted him up on the front." "You know I love the Breeders Crown," said co-owner John FIelding. "We didn’t have much confidence in Pinkamn in the early stages, but boy has he come on since September, he’s just really turned into a different horse. We had him for sale and the magical Jimmy Takter got him figured out and he just went straight forward since then; he’s just been a real great surprise." Bred by O Narutac Equine Nursery, he’s owned by Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joe Mc Clelland, and Herb Liverman. Pinkman paid $4.00 to win. He closes out the 2014 season with six wins in just eight starts with earnings of $566,000.   Pinkman       by Ray Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown  

Thirty years ago, on a similar fall Saturday afternoon, Marcia Hamilton was doing what so many caretakers around the country are doing right now: getting their horses ready to race. But in her case, she took care of the morning-line favorite in the inaugural $481,000 Breeders Crown sophomore trot, one in a three-horse Nordin Stable entry, named Baltic Speed. No one knew at the time whether the fledgling Breeders Crown would achieve what its creators hoped, and no one would have guessed that Baltic Speed would subsequently go on to galvanize the Standardbred breed by siring Valley Victory and Peace Corps in his first crop. This is Marcia Hamilton's first-person account of Saturday, November 16, 1984, when the brand new Breeders Crown series rolled into Pompano Park, Florida. Tonight is the big night! The Breeders Crown for 3-year-old trotting colts at Pompano Park. Adding to the excitement is the fact that it's the one big race, the highlight of the year, and the big draw of the evening's TV show on ESPN. Baltic hadn't raced since Kentucky due to a cold, but he was fine, fit and ready to go. That morning I was told that the dentist was going to come by to check Baltic's teeth and just smooth off any rough edges that he might have. I had already given Baltic a good bath, cleaned his stall and tossed him some hay first thing that morning. I always gave him his hay first thing on a race day, which he eventually realized the meaning of, and so after eating that hay, he would lie down and rest almost the entire day, very race savvy. Later in the morning the dentist arrived and started to do a bit of filing on Baltic's teeth, I was in the next stall putting away my last horse. After that, I walked into Baltic's stall and saw blood running down the dentist's arm and blood all over Baltic's mouth. I was shocked and said "What did you do?" "You were just supposed to smooth off the rough edges"! The dentist had pulled Baltic's front, upper and lower, 3-year-old baby teeth, which were barely ready to come out! I was shocked that he would do that! Baltic had one of the most important races of the year that night and this guy has blood running down his arm and I'm sure Baltic was in pain. [Head trainer] Soren [Nordin] was livid and that dentist was never allowed in the barn again. I did what I could to make Baltic comfortable but I was seething the whole time. The big evening arrived, my mother and some of her friends were coming to watch, adding to the excitement. She had never seen Baltic race before, live, so it was a big treat for her. I got him all ready, everything shined and polished, walked him to the main track across the street from the training side, some of the grooms waving us on and wishing us luck. I had made sure that I brought a clean sponge with some salt water to rinse out his mouth to try and help a little, anyway. The first heat went well, and I got him bathed and ready for the final. Jimmy Takter and Jan Nordin stood there those last minutes before being called out for the race and Jimmy asked me if I thought Baltic Speed could win. I told Jimmy I was pretty sure he could and I smiled, "That's if he isn't last at the half!" referring to his position in the Hambletonian a few months earlier. That got a laugh out of Jimmy laughed and even Jan smiled. Baltic did his usual trick of staying off the pace then making his move coming around the final turn and winning with Sandy Bowl and Giorgio D - the other Nordin horses - finishing second and third. It was a tremendous night for Team Nordin. It was also very exciting and more than a little poignant as I knew this would be Baltic's and my last race together so I savored every moment of it, from the Winners Circle presentations to the walk back to the paddock, enjoying every wave and shout of the crowd. After all was done in the paddock, we walked back to the barn and I took a little longer time than usual putting him away. I gave him long hugs, told him how much I loved him and what a great horse he was, and that my life story would never be complete without him being in it. Then I left him to eat his dinner and hay and have a well-deserved rest. I had been invited to the Greenbriar Pub afterwards and when I walked in I was greeted by a round of applause and lots of shouts of "congratulations." I stood there for a moment with my head down, very touched by this show of support, then went in with a huge smile on my face and had a very nice evening with good food and good friends. Later I went back to check on Baltic, rinsed his mouth out one more time, then stood holding his sweet face in my arms, him gently holding onto my forearm as he did every night when I went to do his night check. Another great memory with this wonderful, tiger on the track, kitten in the barn, stallion... and friend. by Marcia Hamilton, for the Breeders Crown

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J./ Heavy race favorite Shake It Cerry, with harness racing driver Ron Piece in the bike, waited mid-pack and then swept three wide to win the Breeders Crown $500,000 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot in a harness racing stakes-record 1:52.2 mile at the Meadowlands on Nov. 21. It was trainer Jimmy Takter's 19th Breeders Crown winner. Shake It Cerry sat fifth early as Riveting Rose took the early lead. Just after the :27.1 first quarter, Takter's other filly, Lifetime Pursuit, took over. Shake It Cerry was sixth until Cee Bee Yes went first over and she followed as the half went in :55.3. Shake It Cerry came out around the turn and went three wide to begin a strong brush to the lead, with three-quarters in 1:24.4 and a masterful command of the field. She soared home to win by 2¼ lengths. Cee Bee Yes held for second as Struck By Lindy made up enough ground mid-stretch to just miss catching her, getting third. "Just the way things worked out," said Ron Pierce after the trip. "They were mixing up real good and we decided to relax a bit. We found a live helmet to take us up the last turn anyway and carried it the rest, I just sat there. she just cruised by ‘em. Very little encouragement. Jimmy did a great job with her I just can’t say enough about her." Solveig's Breeders bred Shake It Cerry for owners Solveig's Racing Partners. She paid just $2.40 to win. Shake It Cerry by Ray Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown  

This Week: Breeders Crown finals, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit will be at Meadowlands Racetrack this Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22) for 12 Breeders Crown championships. The Friday card features four of the Breeders Crown events: the $593,750 3-Year-Old Filly Pace, the $500,000 3-Year-Old Filly Trot, the $500,000 2-Year-Old Filly Trot and the $250,000 Mare Trot. The Saturday card offers eight Breeders Crown races: the $531,250 3-Year-Old Colt Pace, the $500,000 Open Trot, the $500,000 3-Year-Old Colt Trot, the $500,000 2-Year-Old Colt Trot, the $500,000 2-Year-Old Colt Pace, the $500,000 2-Year-Old Filly Pace, the $400,000 Open Pace and the $281,250 Mare Pace. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Seven classes competed in Breeders Crown eliminations this past weekend at Meadowlands Racetrack. Let's take a look at some of the highlights: On Friday, JK She'salady increased her unbeaten streak to 11 with new driver Tim Tetrick, winning a $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for 2-year-old filly pacers in 1:51.1. JK She'salady did it the hard way, with a prolonged first-over grind. She faced Sassa Hanover in the stretch, than pulled away to a 2-3/4 length victory. Color's A Virgin captured her 3-year-old filly pace Breeders Crown elimination, finishing in 1:51, 1-1/2 lengths ahead of second place finisher Precocious Beauty. Color's A Virgin extended her winning streak to seven with the victory. The Jugette winner is coming into the final in top form following this first-over victory with Trace Tetrick in the sulky. On Saturday at The Meadowlands, the Breeders Crown eliminations continued with Maven and driver Yannick Gingras finishing on top in a $25,000 Open Trot elimination race in 1:52.2. Maven was the only mare in the race, starting from post ten to win by a neck over Your So Vain and driver Ake Svanstadt. Maven, who was purchased for $750,000 earlier this month at the Standardbred Mixed Sale, was making her first start for new owner Herb Liverman and trainer Jimmy Takter. Always B Miki ran his winning streak to five as he and driver David Miller captured their $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination race on Saturday at The Meadowlands, finishing in 1:50. This win means that Always B Miki has earned a chance to win back his $62,500 supplement fee this Saturday in the $531,250 final. JK Endofanera and driver Ron Pierce moved to the lead early but ended up finishing second, a neck behind Always B Miki. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 2,157; 2. Tim Tetrick - 1,127; 3. David Miller - 988.5; 4. Ron Pierce - 797.5; 5. Corey Callahan - 642. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 2,345.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 1,828; 3. Erv Miller - 446.5; 4. Joe Holloway - 406; 5. Tony Alagna - 332. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 514.23; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 464.23; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 332; 4. Brittany Farms - 294.45; 5. Robert Key - 272. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will once again take place next week at Meadowlands Racetrack with the TVG Series championships for older pacers and trotters, while Dover Downs will host eliminations in the Progress Pace for 3-year-old male pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Victory Sports Bar at the Meadowlands was the scene today of the final draws for the Breeders Crown races this Friday and Saturday. The press conference featured the post position draws for the final four divisions for the $5.4 million Breeders Crown championships. Many of the world’s top trotters and pacers will do battle in hope decent weather with a dry forecast and temperatures to be in the 30’s both nights. On Friday there are four finals and then eight on Saturday Here are the fields and early morning line odds. Friday Night $500,000 Two-Year-Old Filly Trot Post - Horse 1. Love Me Madly  50-1 2. Wild Honey  5-2 3. Danielle Hall  8-1 4. Wiclet Hanover  30-1 5. Mission Brief  4-5 6. Stubborn Belle  12-1 7. Lilu Hanover  30-1 8. Hot Start  50-1 9. Livininthefastlane  8-1 10. Smexi  15-1 AE1. Sarcy AE2. Scented Roses $500,000 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot Post - Horse 1. Market Rally  8-1 2. Lifetime Pursuit  5-2 3. Shake It Cerry  4-5 4. Struck By Lindy 15-1 5. Cantabs Fortune  20-1 6. Heavens Door  20-1 7. Vanity Matters  12-1 8. Riveting Rosie- 30-1 9. Cee Bee Yes  8-1 $593,750 Three-Year-Old Filly Pace Post - Horse 1. Major Dancer  8-1 2. Beach Gal  15-1 3. Gettingreadytoroll  9-1 4. Gallie Bythe Beach  3-1 5. Colors A Virgin  6-5 6. Uffizi Hanover  20-1 7. Beach Story 30-1 8. Allstar Rating  20-1 9. Sayitall BB  10-1 10. Precocious Beauty  20-1 AE1. Weeper AE2. Table Talk $281,250 Mares Open Pace Post - Horse 1. Camille  15-1 2. Charisma Hanover  20-1 3. Voelz Hanover  9-2 4. Somwherovrarainbow  5-1 5. Yagonnakissmeornot  5-2 6. Shelliscape  10-1 7. Krispy Apple- 12-1 8. Anndrovette  7-2 9. Rocklamation  6-1 10. Regil Elektra  30-1 11. Venus Delight  20-1 Saturday Night $500,000 Two-Year-Old Filly Pace Post - Horse 1. Southwind Roulette - 15-1 2. Divine Caroline - 12-1 3. JK Shesalady  3-5 4. Heart Major  8-1 5. Bettor Be Steppin  20-1 6. Well Hello There 12-1 7. Bettor N Better 30-1 8. Heavenly Bride  20-1 9. Sassa Hanover  5-1 10. Ideal Nuggets  12-1 AE1. The Show Returns Race 7 - $500,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Pace Post - Horse 1. Cooperstown  20-1 2. Traceur Hanover  7-2 3. Lyons Levi Lewis  8-1 4. Franzo  20-1 5. Go Daddy Go  5-2 6. Sicily 20-1 7. Tomy Terror  8-1 8. Soto  30-1 9. Lost For Words- 9-2 10. In The Arsenal  4-1 Race 10 - $531,250 Three-Year-Old Colt Pace Post - Horse 1. Lets Drink On It  15-1 2. Somesizesomestyle  30-1 3. McWicked  6-1 4. Always B Miki  8-5 5. Limelight Beach  3-1 6. Jk Endofanera  5-2 7. Doo Wop Hanover -20-1 8. Somestarsomewhere  30-1 9. Luck Be Withyou  20-1 10. Capital Account  30-1 $400,000 Open Pace Post - Horse 1. Bettors Edge 7-2 2. Modern Legend  8-1 3. State Treasurer 12-1 4. Thinking Out Loud- 6-1 5. Foiled Again  9-2 6. Clear Vision  5-2 7. Sweet Lou  3-1  $500,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot Post - Horse 1. French Laundry 3-1 2. Walter White  50-1 3. Habitat 9-2 4. Suit And Tie  30-1 5. Pinkman -2-1 6. Muscle Diamond  4-1 7. Guess Whos Back  8-1 8. Uncle Lasse  12-1 9. Piercewave Hanover- 15-1 10. The Bank  15-1 Race 9 - $500,000 Three-Year-Old Colt Trot Post - Horse 1. Datsyuk -20-1 2. Hillustrious  50-1 3. Nuncio  6-5 4. Don Dorado  20-1 5. Il Sogno Dream  20-1 6. Father Patrick  7-5 7. Odds On Amethyst  20-1 8. Sumatra  50-1 9. Harper Blue Chip- 12-1 10. E L Titan  8-1 $250,000 Mares Open Trot Post - Horse 1. Intense America  30-1 2. Classic Martine  5-2 3. Bee A Magician  9-5 4. Handover Belle  4-1 5. Ma Chere Hall  20-1 6. Charmed Life  6-1 7. Dorsay  20-1 8. Mistery Woman  8-1 Race 11 - $500,000 Open Trot Post - Horse 1. Your So Vain 8-1 2. Market Share 7-2 3. Arch Madness 12-1 4. Maven 4-1 5. Flanagan Memory 30-1 6. Archangel  10-1 7. Creatine  9-2 8. Wishing Stone 20-1 9. Commander Crowe 3-1 10. Intimidate 8-1 By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

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