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Harness racing driver Mark MacDonald calls his time in London, ON racing at The Raceway at The Western Fair District "maybe the best time of my life." MacDonald, who is now based in New York and is one of the top drivers at Yonkers Raceway, will return to Western Fair Friday to drive Sunfire Blue Chip in the $150,000 Molson Pace invitational for trainer Jimmy Takter. "London was the first place I bought a house. It was a condo, but it was like a house. I lived in apartments before that. I actually lived 10 minutes from Western Fair," said the 37-year-old Prince Edward Island native, who first made his name racing in Ontario from 1999 through 2011. "I had some stoplights then, not bridge traffic. It is definitely a different atmosphere (in New York) as opposed to up there, but Western Fair was great. I had a lot of fun there. I won a lot of races. It was the first time I got to race in all the (Ontario) Sires Stakes and was kind of the go-to guy." What hasn't been as much fun has been the Molson Pace. MacDonald has raced in it nine times and never won. "It's been my Achilles Heel. That race just keeps getting me. I almost won it a few times. Dr No, I thought I was home with him and Our Lucky Killean got me right at the wire (in 2006). I think I still have the track record at London with Tigerama (1:50.4 in 2008). He buzzed around there in the elimination and then drew the seven hole and got stung past the quarter. He was kind of a speed horse. The seven hole and a speed horse don't really mix there in London, unless the inside wing falls off or something. Anyway, he got stung and ended up fifth." MacDonald last raced in the Molson Pace in 2014 and was eighth with Bandolito. "Bandolito, I got a horrendous trip with him. I was out early and he didn't fire. He wasn't right then, either. He didn't race for about five or six months after that race," MacDonald said. "I've had some good horses in that race, but I've raced some horses that turned up sick and I've raced some horses that just got beat. I just never get to the wire first." MacDonald, a winner of nearly 5,700 career races and more than $84 million is a two-time O'Brien Award winner as Canada's Driver of the Year. He set a record for driving wins on Canadian soil with 739 in 2006 - since surpassed by Jody Jamieson. MacDonald will be driving against his younger brother, James MacDonald, in this year's Molson Pace. James will pilot P H Supercam from post seven. "James is a good little driver. He's doing a great job. I talk to him all the time and always try to help him as much as I can. But I won't be helping him out on Friday," Mark said, laughing. "Don't eat yellow snow. That's my tip for him." Mark said he likes his chances with Sunfire Blue Chip, especially drawing the inside post three. "He's a really good horse... A good half-mile horse," Mark said of the six-year-old stallion, a son of American Ideal out of Shot Togo Blue Chip who has earned just over $1 million. "He won the Prix d'Ete as a four-year-old at Three Rivers. He's a really fast horse, good gaited. He doesn't wear a boot. He's a typical Takter horse. He's really well-mannered, a nice horse to drive. Everything about him is nice. He just won in 1:51 a couple of weeks ago in Yonkers on kind of a tiring track. It was a good mile that night." Sunfire Blue Chip has a record of 4-3-2 this year in 16 starts and earnings of just over $80,000. "He was sharp in the Levy (Series at Yonkers). He raced in every leg in the Levy and he just had horrible luck with the draw. He was, literally, outside every week... We couldn't get a break with that horse. They actually took him out of the Levy one week and I took him to the front and he won in like :53.3... The Levy wasn't meant to be for him this year, but he always raced well. He showed up every week." Now Mark MacDonald hope Sunfire Blue Chip shows up with his best game on Friday so he can finally claim the Molson Pace in his 10th attempt. Post positions for the Molson Pace field are as follows: 1. State Treasurer - Chris Christoforou 2. Bettor Rock On N - Jody Jamieson 3. Sunfire Blue Chip - Mark MacDonald 4. Evenin Of Pleasure - Sylvain Filion 5. Machtu N - Trevor Henry 6. Mcwicked - Randy Waples 7. P H Supercam - James MacDonald 8. All Bets Off - Matt Kakaley The Molson Pace program will also feature the Ontario Sires Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers, a quartet of City of London Series finals, a pair of Alliance Claiming Series finals and an added-purse Junior Invitational Pace as part of the undercard. Total purses for the night will be more than $550,000. There will be a number of promotions on the night, including Scratch and Win program prizes, OSS 'Be A Winner Contest,' Party on the Patio, a Molson VIP infield event and much more. The wagering menu has been bolstered to include a $5,000 guaranteed early Pick-3, $10,000 guaranteed early Pick-4, $15,000 guaranteed late Pick-4 and the addition of a third Super Hi-5 - all low 15 per cent takeout wagers. For more information, visit molsonpace.com. Greg Blanchard

Harness racing driver Mark MacDonald was the star of the show Saturday night, sweeping both of Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 co-featured Open Handicaps with favored Great Vintage (Pace, $5.30) and Obrigado (Trot, $8.20). Great Vintage, assigned post position No. 2, two-moved around Texican N (Jordan Stratton), then set sail on his appointed rounds (:27.4, 56.3, 1:24.2, season-matching 1:52). The people's choice eventually disposed of a first-up Bettor Rock On N (Dan Dube), then took a three-quarter length lead into the lane. He fended off an inside bid of Texican N by half-length in 1:52. Artistic Major (Brent Holland) rallied very well for third, with Ideal Cowboy (Jason Bartlett) and Atta Boy Dan (George Brennan) settling for the remainder. For Great Vintage, an 8-year-old son of American Ideal trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners his wife, Christina, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk, it was his third win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $28.80, with the triple returning $220.50. As for Obrigado, he did his damage-from assigned post No. 5-from first-up. Away six, he saw Luminosity (Brennan) lead through intervals of :27.4, :57.2 and 1:26.1. It was Luminosity holding a short lead into the lane, but Obrigado was relentless. He keep at it, whipping Luminosity by a length in 1:54.2. Homicide Hunter (Stratton) was third, with tepid 5-2 choice Major Athens (Brian Sears) and Allerage Star (Pat Lachance) earning the minor moolah. For second choice Obrigado, an 6-year-old Boy Band gelding co-owned by (trainer) Paul Kelley, Linwood Higgins, SRF Stable and Stable 45, it was his first win in a pair of '16 tries. The exacta paid $33.60, the triple returned $179 and superfecta paid $579. Saturday's $30,000 Preferred Handicap Pace was won by Machtu N (Steve Smith, $7.70) in a night's-best 1:50.4 for a first North American victory. Frank Drucker  

Heavy pressure from Mel Mara could not faze 2015 Breeders Crown champion Always B Miki ($2.40), as he fought back from being headed in mid-stretch to take Saturday (May 14) evening's $25,000 Open Handicap Pace at The Meadowlands for a second consecutive harness racing win.   The 5-year-old Always a Virgin entire made his push to the lead just after fellow Jimmy Takter trainee JK Endofanera (Yannick Gingras) worked clear of McWicked (Scott Zeron) in a :27.2 initial quarter. Upon taking command on the backstretch, Hall of Fame driver David Miller managed to slow the pace down enough to give Always B Miki a brief breather on the far turn before Mel Mara (Corey Callahan) mounted a first-over bid out of fifth. Despite Mel Mara's sustained press into the lead at the eighth pole, Always B Miki would not be denied, using a :26 last quarter to repel Mel Mara for a neck victory in 1:48.4. Mel Mara was a game second, while JK Endofanera labored from the pocket yet still held third.   Always B Miki, now a 20-time winner, is owned by the Bluewood Stable, the Roll the Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.   Tim Tetrick led all drivers with three wins on the 12-race card, prevailing with Mindtrip ($2.80, 1:52), Missile J ($3.60, 1:51), and Union Man Hanover ($8.20, 1:50.4). Scott Zeron and Corey Callahan won two races apiece.   Total betting turnover for the 12-race card was $2,559,464. The final race 20¢ Jackpot High 5 carryover continues to climb, mounting to $222,459.18 for Friday (May 20) evening's program.   Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Friday (May 20), with post time slated for 7:15 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media

When last seen in these parts, Pinkman was exiting the harness racing winner's circle following his 2015 Hambletonian victory. The altered son of Explosive Matter returns to The Meadowlands in the sixth race on Friday, May 13 to face six foes with his sites set squarely on next week's opening leg of the Graduate Series.   Pinkman's 2015 season resulted in his being named as the Dan Patch three-year-old trotter of the year. He danced virtually every dance, winning eleven of seventeen starts including the Canadian Trotting Classic and Kentucky Futurity to go along with the Hambo win while banking over $1.8 million. Leaving from post four tomorrow night, Pinkman comes in off of a pair of conditioning qualifiers for Jimmy Takter who trains him for owners Christina Takter, Jon & Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. Yannick Gingras will drive.   Transitioning into the summer meet, all of The Meadowlands outdoor attractions are now open for business including Victory Terrace with its spectacular NYC skyline views and a fashionable bar crowd. Directed toward that demographic is Friday's $50 Spring Handicapping Contest providing an arena for new fans to compete for cash prizes.   The guaranteed horizontal wagers are in place, free program pages for the late Pick-4 are available courtesy of Trackmaster and the last race Hi-5 Super Jackpot stands at $212,593 to open the weekend.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations    

Mother's Day at the Meadowlands wasn't all about the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff as Always B Miki and Gallie Bythe Beach were winners in the co-features on the Sunday matinee program's harness racing undercard. Making his second start of the year, Always B Miki scored decisively in the $25,000 open handicap pace for trainer Jimmy Takter. After making the top in a leisurely opening quarter that was timed in :27.4, the field raced in a straight line past the half in :55. The 5-year-old son of Always A Virgin, who was 4-for-4 a year ago, reached three-quarters in 1:22.1 before sprinting home in :27 to record a 2¾-length, never-an-anxious-moment victory in 1:49.1 with David Miller at the lines. McArdles Lightning was second with Doctor Butch third. As the 1-9 post-time choice, Always B Miki returned $2.10 to win for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll the Dice Stable and Christina Takter and now has 19 wins in 37 career starts. Gallie Bythe Beach sat fourth to the three-eighths and was brushed to the top before the half by driver Tim Tetrick and maintained the lead from there to win the $25,000 open pace for fillies and mares by a hard-fought neck over Aniston Seelster. Empress Deo was third. Sent postward as the 7-1 fourth choice, Gallie Bythe Beach returned $16.80 to her backers and covered the mile in 1:50.2 for owners Fashion Farms of New Hope, PA. The Jim Campbell trainee now has 16 wins in 57 career starts. Sheeza Shark N, the 3-5 favorite who entered the race perfect in three starts at the Big M since shipping in from New Zealand, went an ideal second-over trip but did not fire in the stretch TWO INVITATIONS: After crossing the wire first but then being disqualified and placed ninth in the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff earlier on the program, Resolve was extended an invitation to the May 29 Elitlopp in Sweden nonetheless, as was Bee A Magician, who was the official winner of the race at the conclusion of the judges' inquiry. STILL GROWING: The 5th race 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five might have been hit earlier on the Mother's Day card for better than $20,000, but the 12th race version of the wager continues to not get hit and now sports a carryover of $212,593.38 heading into the Big M's next live program, which is Friday night. Post time is 7:15 p.m. MEADOWLANDS JACKPOT SUPER HIGH FIVE HIT FOR $22,612 20-cent wager had gone unclaimed since April 1, 2016 Mother's Day proved to be extra sweet for one lucky horseplayer who took down the $22,612 jackpot in the Meadowlands Super High Five wager. The 20-cent wager requires a horseplayer to correctly pick the first five finishers of the race in order. The jackpot amount only pays out in its entirety if there is one single winning ticket. Otherwise, 75-percent of the net pool is paid out to the multiple winners while the remaining 25-percent is added to the jackpot amount. The Race Five winning combination of 4-10-2-4-5 was led by 2/1 second choice Can Do. 24/1 Sheer Flex helped juice up the sequence in second place while 18/1 I C Caviar was third. Fellow long shots Blue Muse and Never Ever Clever rounded out the top five. Favorite Forever As made a break in stride while third choice Mesmerized faded down the stretch to finish sixth. The winning ticket was purchased through the AmTote Oregon Hub. The wager featured a carryover of more than $17,250 coming into Sunday afternoon. Nobody had hit the Jackpot Super High Five at the Meadowlands since April 1 when the wager was hit for $20,354. Another Jackpot Super High Five wager on the final race of the program has proven difficult to take down. Its carryover is more than $204,233 entering this afternoon. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Katie Said was barely heard in the early going but spoke loud and clear through the stretch Friday night, powering past her foes for a second straight week in the $25,000 open handicap pace for harness racing fillies and mares at the Meadowlands. The Jimmy Takter trainee was in no hurry for the first half-mile, sitting last in the field of seven off quick fractions of :26.4 and :54.2. Katie Said, the 3-2 co-favorite, was in a live third-over flow as Divine Caroline, also 3-2, had the front as three-quarters was clocked in 1:22.2. Driver Brett Miller tipped Katie Said off cover as the field straightened up with three-sixteenths to go, and other than a little rocking in the sulky, Miller did very little as the 5-year-old daughter of Well Said exploded home in :26.4 to win by a half-length. A pair of longshots, Lovineveryminute and Empress Deo, rallied for second and third, respectively. The winner returned $5 to her backers in taking her second victory of the year in as many starts for owners Black Horse Racing of Lebanon, NJ. The time for the mile was a lifetime-best equaling 1:49.4. SUPER JACKPOT: The 12th race 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five did not get hit again, upping the carryover for the next program to $199,678.47. Total wagering on the card was $2,679,045. Racing resumes at the Big M Saturday. Post time for the first race is 7:15 p.m. Next week, the Meadowlands will alter its schedule. The track will go dark for live racing Friday and then race Saturday (May 7) at the usual 7:15 p.m. before a special Mother's Day program on Sunday, May 8, which has a special early post time of 12:40 p.m. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations      

East Rutherford, NJ - Live racing resumes on Friday at The Meadowlands with seven pacing mares featured in a $25,000 Open Handicap event, the eighth race on the program.   Last week's winner Katie Said (post 7) and bridesmaid Divine Caroline (post 6) are back for a rematch. Both mares came from off the pace with Katie Said peeling off the cover of then sprinting by Divine Caroline in a 26.2 close to the 1:50.4 mile in her first outing of the season. Always fast but a touch erratic at times, Katie Said has matured nicely from age four to five. She races out of the Jimmy Takter barn and Brett Miller has the drive for owner Black Horse Racing on Friday.   Divine Caroline took the uncovered route in a game effort for David Miller and wore down the good Table Talk before "Katie" went by. The four-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven mare makes her third start of the season for trainer Joe Holloway and owners Val D'Or Farms, Ted Gewertz, Rojan Stable and Michael Ouriel.   Table Talk will make her third start back off the layoff and took a lot of play last week as the post time favorite. Request For Parole and Lovineveryminute return as well with Empress Deo and Inittowinafortune new shooters in the class.   In the wagering department, the last race Jackpot Super High 5 carry-over is $194,741 to start the weekend. As always, you may download free program pages for the Late Pick 4 compliments of Trackmaster.   You can enter to win a trip to the Preakness Stakes on Friday evening and the Meadowlands Summer Survival challenge is still open to entry. Saturday night is the final of the World harness Handicapping Challenge with the prize pool estimated at $50,000. It's not too late to enter the tournament and the details are here.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   From the Meadowlands Media Department

Elkton, MD --- Post Time with Mike and Mike is proud to announce their Thursday (April 28) line-up, which starts at 7:00 PM Eastern. Hall Of Fame Trainer Jimmy Takter will join the program to talk about his pacing superstar Always B Miki, and his 2016 debut this past Saturday at The Meadowlands. Driver Jordan Stratton sits down with the fellas after his big Saturday at Yonkers, which saw him take the Levy Final with Bit Of A Legend N. Harrah's Philadelphia Director of Racing Operations Barry Brown joins show the show to talk about his career in the industry, including his time at The University of Arizona Racetrack Industry Program. Anthony MacDonald of TheStable.ca joins the program to update us on the progress of fractional ownership. Post Time with Mike and Mike's mission is to positively promote the sport of harness racing. Every hoof that hits a racetrack has a story to tell, whether a claimer or a stakes horse, and we plan on telling those stories. You can listen to the show via our website posttimewithmikeandmike.com From The Mike & Mike Show  

As Bob Boni gets older, he appreciates more and more the value of each day. That being said, Boni perhaps envies Rip Van Winkle a bit, wishing he could have slumbered through the winter to only awaken for the day that star male pacer Always B Miki made his 2016 racing debut. Boni, of course, did not sleep the months away. But the day for which he waited finally arrives Saturday. Always B Miki, undefeated in four races last year after overcoming two bouts with injuries that had sidelined him for 11 months, makes his seasonal bow in the $25,000 Open Handicap at the Meadowlands. Always B Miki, starting from post seven in a seven-horse field, is the 7-5 favorite with regular driver David Miller at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter. "I think everyone involved with the horse is anxious to see him get back," said Boni, who is a member of the Bluewood Stable group that owns Always B Miki with Joe Hurley's Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. "I've said (to fellow owner Mitchel Skolnick) that one of the negatives of this business is you want time to pass too quickly. It's almost like you'd like to fall asleep and wake up and we're ready to race. There was that anticipation." Last year, Always B Miki was 4-for-4 with his wins including the Breeders Crown Open Pace in late October and the American-National Stakes in early November. He won his four starts by an average of nearly four lengths, never seeing a foe nearer than 1-3/4 lengths of him at the finish line. "It was frustrating to have to close up shop when it seemed like he was fresh and fit and really starting to get stronger, but there were no other races for him at that time of year," Boni said. "He's shown us, throughout his career, what he's capable of. Hopefully, knock on wood, he gets the opportunity this year." Always B Miki, a son of Always A Virgin-Artstopper bred by Roll The Dice Stable, has won 18 of 35 career races and earned $1.22 million in purses. As a 2-year-old, he raced predominantly at Hoosier Park in Indiana, where he won a preliminary division of the Indiana Sire Stakes and finished third in both of the $200,000 finals. At 3, he spent the season in the stable of trainer Joe Holloway and won the Indiana Sire Stakes championship and Monument Circle plus a division of the Tattersalls Pace and finished second in the Meadowlands Pace. He also won an elimination for the Breeders Crown, but was scratched moments before the final because of the first of his two leg injuries. "He's had a great career for us," Boni said. "Joe did a terrific job racing him at 3. He wasn't always the straightest horse on the racetrack, he'd get himself crooked in the turns, but still showed that ability. "I think that something that gets lost in the shuffle is (trainer) Roger Welch did a wonderful job with him at 2. It doesn't get enough attention, but he really taught him how to be a racehorse. He had his issues at 2 as well, then coming back at 3 Joe did a great job with him to do what he did. Hopefully it just continues on now." Always B Miki, who has finished no worse than second in his last 16 races dating back to July 2014, has developed into a "really impressive looking horse," Boni said. Some of his maturation might be the result of sitting out much of last year. "He's a big, strong guy," Boni said. "It shows you the difference that we always get to see with our older horses. Due to circumstances that we wish did not happen, he had the opportunity maybe to develop physically a little more than he might have. Especially through his hind end, he's a bigger, stronger horse right now. Hopefully we see it this year. "Jimmy has done great work with him; he does everything Jimmy asks him to do. David also does a superb job. When you watch him train, or watch him race, you really don't get an idea of how fast he's going. The horse just gets over the ground so nice and easy." Always B Miki's competition Saturday includes Rockeyed Optimist, who has won five of seven races this year and finished no worse than second in any start, stablemate JK Endofanera, and Atta Boy Dan, who arrives from Dover Downs where he won two of his last three races in the Open Preferred Handicap. His setback was a second-place finish to Rockeyed Optimist, who is the 8-5 second choice on the morning line. by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

East Rutherford, NJ - The ongoing return of last year's stars to the racetrack resumes on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. An Open Handicap Pace for a purse of $25,000 (race 11) will be the stage for Always B Miki's seasonal debut where he'll face six talented foes.   Always B Miki got a very late start to his 2015 campaign but made the most of the time he had. "Miki" won all four starts of his 2015 starts under 1:50 including the Breeders Crown and American National while amassing over $300,000 for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter.   Trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Dave Miller have handled some of the best over the course of their careers and both seem absolutely giddy with the possibilities Always B Miki presents for the upcoming season.   The race is by no means an exhibition. A couple of the division's more formidable performers in dual millionaire JK Endofanera and emerging star Rockeyed Optomist, fresh from his 1:48.2 Dover track record, are posted just to the inside of the favorite.   Atta Boy Dan and Smart Rokker have been plying their trade at Dover and were in close attendance to Rockeyed Optomist in his record mile last week while McArdles Lightning and Dovuto Hanover have caught fire lately and were but a head apart in their last Meadowlands feature appearance.   Saturday is your last chance to enter for a free ride to the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Speaking of the Derby, reservations in Pink for the big day are going fast so phone in and secure a table for the evening.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   From the Meadowlands Media Department

East Rutherford, NJ - Two sure signs of spring, tax day has passed and the good horses begin to show up for qualifiers at The Meadowlands in anticipation of stakes season. The sky was cloudless, the wind negligible and the temperature hovered around fifty degrees when 3 year old filly trotters stepped onto the track to open the card.   Predictably, a Takter horse won the first race. Sunset Glider a Cantab Hall filly that won the Kentuckiana Sales stake at Hoosier last summer. She led all the way through slow numbers then sprinted home in 27.1 on the end of the 1:57.2 mile for Dave Miller. Wildflower, winner of the Kindergarten final last year, was second for Ake Svanstedt and Kathy Parker came third. Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld are the owners.   Ake took revenge in the second, cutting the mile to win in 1:57.4 with the Credit Winner filly New Sheriff In Town over a fast closing Miss Tezsla (Takter) and Brett Miller. Mellby Gard owns her.   Going back to the NYSS well that produced a million dollar return on investment last season, Crazy Wow, Ronnie Burke unveiled new purchase Dayson in the third. He led all the way through well rated fractions then edged away to a clear 1:55.2 / 27.3 score with driver Yannick Gingras motionless in the sulky. Honor Above All and Granite State followed him in. Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents, J&T Silva and Rossie Smith are now the owners of Dayson.   The fifth qualifier contained a few of the finest trotters in the land. Trainer Nifty Norman was recently quoted as saying Bee A Magician might be better than ever and off her pair of qualifiers the consensus is a resounding "You might by right, Nifty!"   She drafted along behind Aged Breeders Crown winner Creatine, who clicked through fractions of :29, :58 and 1:26.4 before Brian Sears tipped her and sat up. Bee edged past Creatine, who held well in his first outing, in a 27 flat conclusion to the 1:53.4 mile. Resolve sat mid pack early and gained some ground to be a controlled third. Mel Hartman, Herbie Liverman and David McDuffee own Bee A Magician.   Pacers started up after the break and sophomore fillies went a mile in 1:54.3 with JK Fannie and John Campbell holding off the late bid of last year's Three Diamonds winner Yankee Moonshine. She is owned by 3 Brothers Stables.   The seventh race pit last season's winners of the NJ, PA and NY Sires Stakes 2 year old filly finals and they finished right across the track in that order. Blue Moon Stride and Andy McCarthy set fractions of 29.1, 57.4, 1:26.4 with Dime A Dozen in the pocket and Dan Patch champ from last year Pure Country third. They fanned across the track in the stretch and Blue Moon Stride held off the late rally of Pure Country by an inch with Dime A Dozen another head back third in 1:54.1. Emillio and Maria Rosati own the winning filly, Mark Harder trains.   JK Will Power looked sharp this morning dragging Yannick around the oval in 1:53.1 / 27.1 in a winning effort over Carlos Danger and Sapient Hanover. The three year old pacing colt is trained by the Burke stable for 3 Brothers.   Burke sent out Check Six next and he looked sharp today winning for Yannick in 1:52. Settling third through the first three quarters, Check Six took off when shown racetrack and drew off over Love Tap Hanover and Western Dynasty with the 26.3 final stanza. He owned by Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Switala and Martin.   Always B Miki made a good appearance in his first qualifier, setting slow fractions then sprinting home in 26.3 (and he didn't really start pacing until inside the final eighth) to close the 1:52 mile well in hand. National Seelster and Big Top Hanover both logged good efforts on the chase. Dave Miller drove for Takter and owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter.   Older mare pacers closed the card with Katie Said making an impressive appearance with a pillar to post 1:54.1 / 27.3 win for Brett Miller. She's as fast as any when on her game and today was one of those days. Stacia Hanover and Bedroomconfessions followed her in with solid efforts. Black Horse Racing owns the winner.   Post time for the live card tonight is 7:15 p.m.   From the Meadowlands Media Department

Harness racing driver David Miller returned recently from his winter break feeling refreshed and ready to go. He hopes the same is true for Shake It Cerry as she prepares for her seasonal debut Friday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Shake It Cerry, a 5-year-old female trotter who was the Dan Patch Award divisional champion at ages 2 and 3, as well as Trotter of the Year at 3, returns from her winter layoff in the $25,000 Open Handicap at the Big M. The seven-horse field includes 5-year-old gelding JL Cruze, who was last year's Dan Patch Award honoree for best older male trotter. JL Cruze, who is 2-for-2 this year, will start from post seven with John Campbell driving for trainer Eric Ell and is the 9-5 morning line favorite. Shake It Cerry, who leaves from post six with Miller at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter, is the 5-2 second choice. Shake It Cerry heads to her debut off a 1:55 qualifier win on April 9 at the Meadowlands. She finished three-quarters of a length ahead of multiple-stakes-winner Crazy Wow and a length in front of Bee A Magician, who was last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter and the 2013 Horse of the Year. "She qualified really good," Miller said. "She seems sharp and in great shape. It's her first start, so we'll have to see. But I think she will have a good year. The way she looks right now and the way she qualified, I wouldn't see why not." For her career, Shake It Cerry --- a homebred daughter of stallion Donato Hanover out of the mare Solveig --- has won 28 of 44 races and hit the board a total of 37 times. She has earned $2.48 million for Solveig's Racing Partners, a Christina Takter-led ownership group that includes all the breeders of Shake It Cerry (under the name Solveig's Breeders). Shake It Cerry's victories include two editions of the Breeders Crown, Kentucky Filly Futurity, Goldsmith Maid, Elegantimage, and Merrie Annabelle. Last year, she won five of 16 races and earned $423,155, which was first among 4-year-old female trotters and third among all 4-year-old trotters in North America. Miller started driving Shake It Cerry at the end of last year. He was 2-for-2 with her, including a victory in the $200,000 TVG Mares Trotting Championship on Nov. 20 at the Meadowlands. Miller previously was the driver of Swedish star D'One, winning the Breeders Crown (where Shake It Cerry finished second) and Allerage Mare Trot before the mare returned to Europe. "D'One went back home, so that was good timing there," Miller said about landing behind Shake It Cerry. "Jimmy put me on her and I was happy to get her, believe me. What I like about her is she's a very classy horse. She's a real professional. She knows what she's doing out there. You have to appreciate ones like that." The New Jersey-based Miller, who was named 2015 Driver of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, spent much of the winter in Florida before returning to action in the Northeast in mid-March. Miller, who ranks No. 3 in harness racing history in purses with $199.5 million and No. 6 in wins with 11,661, has driven in at least 2,328 races each year since 1995. "I hadn't had a break for a long, long time," said Miller, who was voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2013. "I've raced year-round since like 1987. The winters get long. It was nice to get away. It was a good move; I enjoyed it. I just got away from the racing for a little bit. I took my own horses down (to Florida) and worked with them, which I enjoy doing. "I came back feeling good and it wasn't tough to get going again. I've been doing this my whole life, so it was fine. I'm getting back in the groove. It's time to get back to work." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA      

East Rutherford, NJ - Saturday night at The Meadowlands marks the return if another stakes star of last season when JK Endofanera makes his seasonal bow in a $25,0000 Open Handicap pace for Alan, Ron and Steve Katz via their nom de course, 3 Brothers Stable.   JK Endofanera, a homebred son of Art Major, boasts a powerful résumé having won major stakes in each year he has raced. He won the Governor's Cup at two, the North America Cup and Tattersalls Pace at three, then the Dan Patch and Allerage Farms FFA last season at four.   With over $2 million in career earnings, JK Endofanera embarks on another stakes-laden campaign for trainer Jimmy Takter and will be guided on Saturday by the sport's all-time money winning driver, John Campbell.   Lying in wait is a solid group led by Always At My Place, who makes his Meadowlands debut for the Burke barn, last week's feature winner Dovuto Hanover and the streaking Mcardle's Lightning who's won his last three, the most recent in a career best 1:49.2. The feature is race seven on the twelve race program.   Business-wise, The Meadowlands has enjoyed record-setting handle the past few months and the product is holding sway in the face of increased competition. Saturday is loaded with million dollar Derby preps including the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby, so come early and stay late for the live racing.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   From the Meadowlands Media Department    

Alan Katz would like to have a stable filled with horses like JK Endofanera. Of course, he is thrilled to own the one horse who actually is JK Endofanera. A winner of $2.03 million in lifetime purses, the 5-year-old JK Endofanera will begin his 2016 campaign Saturday night in the $25,000 Open Handicap at the Meadowlands Racetrack. JK Endofanera will start from post seven in a seven-horse field, with John Campbell driving for trainer Jimmy Takter. Last year, JK Endofanera won six of 18 races and hit the board a total of 13 times. His victories included the Dan Patch Invitational and Allerage Farms Open Pace and he finished second in the Breeders Crown and Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. His $554,945 in purses led all 4-year-old pacers and ranked third among all older male pacers in North America. For his career, JK Endofanera has won 20 of 45 races and finished among the top three a total of 37 times. Among his other notable victories are the 2014 North America Cup and 2013 Governor's Cup. "I wish I had more like him; he's had a great career," said Katz, who owns JK Endofanera with brothers Ron and Steve under the nom de course 3 Brothers Stables. "He had a great season last year. We were thrilled with him. It was impressive that at (age) 4 he was able to compete against the best horses in the country. "We're looking forward to having a nice campaign. Hopefully he'll stay sound and show up. I'm sure he'll never embarrass himself." The 3 Brothers Stable bred JK Endofanera, who is a son of stallion Art Major out of the mare Presidential Lady. JK Endofanera is the older brother of 2014 Horse of the Year JK She'salady (who Katz said is in foal to Western Ideal) and the younger brother of New York state-bred stakes-winner JK Fine Art. All of the 3 Brothers Stables' horses are named with the initials JK in memory of late family patriarch Jack Katz. JK Endofanera was named to honor Jack Katz as well as veterinarian Dr. Stephen P. Dey II, who passed away the day the horse was foaled at the Dey family's Heritage Hill Farm. "It was the end of an era," Katz said. During this winter's offseason, JK Endofanera enjoyed frequent visits at Takter's New Jersey farm from Ron Katz. He also enjoyed frequent treats. "Ronnie and his wife Mardi were feeding him carrots, apples, cinnamon Danish; the horse eats pretty good," Katz said, laughing. "He doesn't miss too many meals. The groom even enjoys when they come and gets fed." JK Endofanera heads to Saturday's Open Handicap off a 1:51.4 win in a qualifier at the Big M on April 2. It was Campbell's first time behind the pacer. "You can't go wrong with John Campbell," Katz said about the Hall of Fame driver, who entered Wednesday less than $4.16 million from extending his all-time record for career purse earnings to $300 million. "He's the Wayne Gretzky of harness racing. He's accomplished everything there is in his lifetime." Joining JK Endofanera in Saturday's field are Fool Me Once, McArdles Lightning, Dovuto Hanover, Bushwacker, Art History, and Always At My Place. "It's a long year and you take it week by week," Katz said. "It's hard to come back year in and year out. I wish I had a barn full of JK Endofaneras. For us it's extra enjoyable with him being a homebred. We've been in the business since 1977 and I know he's the best horse we ever had." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

World champion and 2013 Dan Patch Award-winning female trotter Maven has been retired, harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter said. The 7-year-old Maven was attempting to return from a suspensory injury, which she suffered in August while in Sweden. "We did a scan on her (right hind) leg and it looked like it's too high risk to get her where she could compete at the level she was," Takter said. "It was tough, but the owners decided to breed her instead." Maven won 29 of 52 races in North America, earning $1.74 million in purses, before spending 2015 in Europe. She won 10 of 14 races in 2013, including a world-record 1:51.4 triumph in the Miss Versatility final at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio, on her way to being named the Dan Patch and O'Brien award winner for best older female trotter. Her time in the Miss Versatility is the fastest race mile on a half-mile track in harness racing history. Other top career wins for Maven included the 2012 and 2013 Breeders Crown, the 2013 Armbro Flight, the 2012 Moni Maker, 2014 Muscle Hill, and 2012 American-National. She finished second in the 2012 Elegantimage and 2014 Breeders Crown. Last year, Maven won two of 15 races in Europe and earned $244,465 in U.S. dollars. One of her victories, in a Mares Open at Kalmar, Sweden, was in a track-record performance. She finished second by a neck to Robert Bi in the Group 1 Copenhagen Cup and was second to Timoko in the Group 1 Grand Criterium de Vitesse at Cagnes-sur-Mer. She also finished second in her Elitlopp elimination and seventh in the final. Maven was trained by Jonas Czernyson from age 2 to October of the 5-year-old season and was owned by Bill Donovan until November 2014, when she was sold to Herb Liverman. She is currently owned by Liverman, John Fielding, and Joyce McClelland. Takter took over the training of Maven in November 2014. A daughter of Glidemaster-M Stewart, Maven was purchased as a yearling for $37,000 under the name Bella Topona at the 2010 Lexington Selected Sale. She is a three-quarter sister to 2003 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Glide About and a half-sister to multiple-stakes-winner Lanson. Her family also includes stakes-winners Furman and Egyptian Gentleman. "She's getting up in age," said Takter, who added the plan is to breed Maven to 2002 Trotter of the Year Kadabra. "We have to give her a chance to show herself as a broodmare now." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Jimmy Takter already had a nice one-two punch in the older male pacing division with multiple-stakes-winners Always B Miki and JK Endofanera. The return of Sunfire Blue Chip from stallion duty adds even more clout to the trainer's harness racing stable. Sunfire Blue Chip, who won the 2013 Adios and is on the verge of $1 million in career purses, bred 37 mares in 2015. He sat out more than a year because of his work at stud, but returned to the races in late November. This weekend, he will compete in the opening round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. A 6-year-old who has battled injuries during his career, Sunfire Blue Chip has won 19 of 50 lifetime starts and earned $955,174. In addition to winning the Adios, his victories include the 2014 Prix d'Ete and a division of the 2013 Tattersalls Pace. He finished second in the 2013 Messenger Stakes. This year, Sunfire Blue Chip has won two of eight races and hit the board a total of six times for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., and R A W Equine. "He's always had the greatest attitude to be a top horse," Jimmy Takter said about Sunfire Blue Chip, who is a son of American Ideal-Shot Togo Bluechip and a full brother to Dan Patch Award winner Heston Blue Chip. "We brought him back after the breeding season to fool around with him for a little while. I was surprised. He came back and felt like he was born again; he was so fresh and sound. He's been keeping up that. I think he's going to have a good season this year." Sunfire Blue Chip has won six of 13 career races and posted a total of 10 in-the-money finishes on half-mile ovals, such as Yonkers. He is 2-for-16 on mile racetracks. "Miki and JK are two powerhouse horses," Takter said, referring to 2015 Breeders Crown champion Always B Miki and two-million-dollar earner JK Endofanera. "But they're not really made for a small track. I staked (Sunfire Blue Chip) a little bit on the smaller tracks and figured he could step in. "It's nice to have this level of aged pacers. It's something I never had and suddenly I have a whole bunch of them." Sunfire Blue Chip competes in the third of six first-round Levy divisions Saturday at Yonkers. Mark MacDonald will drive the horse, who leaves from post five and is 6-1 on the morning line. World champion Always At My Place, who is making his seasonal debut, is the 8-5 choice from post one. "He's going to need a couple starts to establish himself," Takter said. "I haven't been able to get a really high gear in him yet, but he's very sound and should be good. He's not a great leaver, so (post five) could be a little trouble." The six-week Levy Series concludes April 23 with a $200,000-added final. Among the horses entered in Saturday's first round is Domethatagain, the event's defending champion. Take It Back Terry, last year's Levy runner-up, is the 9-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's first division. Other morning line choices are Lucan Hanover (5-2 in the second division), Polak A (3-2 in the fourth division), The Real One (2-1 in the fifth division) and All Bets Off (5-2 in the sixth division). Other former Levy champions in the series are Foiled Again, harness racing's all-time richest horse with $7.33 million in career purses, and P H Supercam. Ken Weingartner

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