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Many top three-year-olds have pointed to Sunday (August 17) afternoon's Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs as part of their summer campaigns, including top trotter Father Patrick and North America Cup winner JK Endofanera.   Jimmy Takter trainee Father Patrick looks to rebound from the break he made as the 2-5 Hambletonian favorite, and has every chance to do so as the 3-5 morning line favorite in Sunday's $36,036 ninth race. The son of Cantab Hall won all six of his other races on the season, including a 1:50.2 triumph in the Beal Memorial at Pocono and a 1:51.3 score in the Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands. The 16-time winner, looking ahead to the Zweig Memorial at Vernon Downs to propel him into the sport's fall championship season, will be joined by usual driver Yannick Gingras from post 4.   Fellow Hambletonian contender Datsyuk drew into the same division, and has been installed as the 5-1 second choice from post 3. Unraced at two, the Explosive Matter gelding earned wins in the first three of his eight races, finishing in the money in all save the Hambletonian. Trainer Charlie Norris will handle the driving duties once again.   A third Hambletonian starter, Resolve, drew into the first division, starting from post 6 in the $36,536 sixth race as the 7-2 morning line second choice. Corey Callahan remains in the bike behind this Muscle Hill colt for trainer Nancy Johansson after a fifth-place finish in the Hambletonian.   While two divisions were necessary for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings in the Arthur Tompkins Memorial, three-year-old pacers will contest the Geers Stake in a lone division for each sex.   JK Endofanera headlines the $54,072 seventh race for pacing colts and geldings as the 8-5 morning line favorite, teaming up with Yannick Gingras from post 7. The North America Cup winner enters off a strong second-place effort behind He's Watching in last week's Empire Breeders Classic for trainer Ron Burke.   The top filly in last week's Empire Breeders Classic, Precocious Beauty, has been installed the even-money morning line favorite in the $50,572 fifth race, which could shape up to be a duel with Fan Hanover winner Uffizi Hanover. Precocious Beauty, the Gregg McNair-trained daughter of Art Major, took the Empire Breeders Classic last week in 1:51.1, drawing clear in the final yards after sustaining an uncovered bid. Usual driver Doug McNair is back in the bike after last week's triumph, and the pair will start from post 2. Uffizi Hanover, a Jimmy Takter-trained Well Said filly, has been installed the 9-5 second choice on the morning line, and will retain the driving services of David Miller from post 1.   Sunday's 11-race pari-mutuel card carries a 1:30 p.m. EDT first post, with a non-wagering $46,572 Tompkins event for three-year-old trotting fillies slated for twenty minutes earlier.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

The day of the Hambletonian was a remarkable one for those using Razer shoes and Propads, by Razerhorse. Lifetime Pursuit, winner of the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks has been shod with Razer shoes for over a year to aid in a healthy well developed hoof for race day. Trixton, winner of the Hambletonian was prepped for the race wearing Razer shoes. Other standout horses that use Razer shoes and Propads include Father Patrick, Nuncio, Tellitlikeitis, Shake It Cerry, and Uncle Peter. Jimmy Takter, Harness Racing Hall of Famer is a regular user of Razer shoes and Propads. "Razer and Propad play a big part in my stable,” said Takter. Conny Svensson, renowned Standardbred blacksmith has shod many world champions using Razer shoes, and has been the farrier for the Takter stable for the past twenty years. "With the help of Razer Shoes and Propads in the training and preparation, I felt we went into the Hambletonian in the best possible way with all five of our horses," said Svensson. Razer shoes are unique in that they are a flexible, tempered, tool steel horseshoe. A traditional horseshoe locks the hoof in place, however, Razer shoes allow the hoof to move and flex naturally while providing the support and protection of a steel shoe. The Razer shoe is a low profile shoe, which cuts its weight in half and makes it nearly as light as aluminum. In harness racing, lighter is better. Additionally, the shape and design of the shoe offers excellent traction while allowing the hoof to also glide on the surface of the ground. Propads, manufactured with the highest quality polyurethane material, are the only pads on the market with an independent frog support. This accordion-shaped feature allows the frog to contact the ground, which aids in load sharing while increasing blood flow and circulation. The Propad can be used with any open heel shoe and does not have to be used with the Razer shoe. It is available in three styles: Basic Support, Support Soft and Support X-tra Soft. The Support Soft and Support X-tra Soft are a dual-density polyurethane with the iconic black and orange Razerhorse colors. Razerhorse products, including Razer shoes and Propads, are currently available at sixty-eight dealers and locations in thirty-one states, including five locations in Canada and one in Australia. To find a dealer near you, go to www.razerhorse.com. If you want to get your horses into the winning circle, Razer shoes and Propads will help you get there more often. by Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak. His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too. "Win or lose, I'd always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him," Gingras said. "He's a great horse. He's provided me with great thrills so far, and I'm sure there are plenty more to come. "I'm looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is." Father Patrick's return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 - the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack - and went off stride at the start. The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky. "I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before," Gingras said after the race. "I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance. But he never will." Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat. "It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed," Gingras said. "When you focus on a race for so long, that's what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven't won one yet. That day had it all - the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he's accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn't feel like celebrating. "I do still think about it. It's a race I'll always want to take back, but you've got to live with it now at this point." Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian. "They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good," Gingras said about Father Patrick. "That was to be expected. There's nothing wrong with him, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday." The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter's daughter, Nancy Johansson. Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga. The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover. Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes. "There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that's for sure," Gingras said. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 12, 2014 -- So impressive in capturing the Hambletonian Oaks, Lifetime Pursuit was just as dazzling Tuesday at The Meadows when she matched the world record of 1:51.3 in a division of a $199,994 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for 3-year-old filly trotters. Her harness racing stablemate, Shake It Cerry, may not have been as flashy, but she took the other division of the event known as the Meadow Bright while under wraps. The weather cooperated beautifully with Lifetime Pursuit, as a hot sun baked off the moisture from morning rains but kept the air steamy. Moreover, storms forecast for the region would hold off for another hour. Lifetime Pursuit didn't need more help. She brushed to the front past the quarter for Yannick Gingras and drew away them there, reeling off fractions of 28.2/56.2/1:23.1/1:51.3. That time equals the world record, held jointly by Check Me Out and Designed To Be, for sophomore filly trotters on a five-eighths-mile track. It also matches Tall Cotton's all-age trotting mark at The Meadows and is the fastest mile ever trotted by a filly or mare at The Meadows. For good measure, Lifetime Pursuit shattered Classic Martine's stake record of 1:53.2. Broadway Socks was second, 11-1/4 lengths back, with Donatella Hanover third. Gingras said he's sure the daughter of Cantab Hall-Queen Of Grace could have gone faster. "I still had the plugs in, and I was holding her up the whole stretch," Gingras said. "The track is really fast today, and she kind of got away from me. I went 26-and-change up the backstretch just sitting on her. She was trotting more than I thought she was. "We always thought she was that kind of filly from the time we baby raced her last year. She wasn't disappointing because she's been really good, but I always thought she had more than what she showed. We raced her a little more aggressive last week. I put her on the front today, and she was scary." The homebred Lifetime Pursuit now has banked $657,613 for Brittany Farms. Lifetime Pursuit Off her fourth-place finish in the Oaks, Shake It Cerry made an easy lead for Ron Pierce and prevailed effortlessly in 1:53.1, 1-3/4 lengths better than the pocket-sitting Cantabs Fortune. Struck By Lindy earned show. Pierce indicated he never cut loose the daughter of Donato Hanover-Solveig, who is campaigned by Solveig's Racing Partners. "I just hung onto her," Pierce said. "I guess she heard someone coming that third quarter, so she just took off on her own. Nobody was even close to me, so I just let her coast home. She's getting bigger and stronger -- she's still growing." Shake It Cerry, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for her division, extended her career bankroll to $1,147,805. Prior to the stake, trainer Jimmy Takter said he doesn't expect his two star fillies to go head to head again anytime soon. "One of them will head off to Canada, and one will stay in Pennsylvania for the sires stakes final," Takter said. "I'm not sure yet which will go where." Dave Palone drove four winners and Eric Ledford three on the 16-race card. Stake racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the card features a $120,000 PA Stallion Series event for freshman filly pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. Evan Pattak

This Week: Review Stakes, Illinois State Fair, Springfield, Ill.; Fox Stake, the Ralph Wilfong, the Horseman Stakes and the Hoosier Stakes, Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, Ind.; Carl Milstein Memorial, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Gold Cup and Saucer final, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino, Charlottetown, PEI; Joe Gerrity final, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ont.; and Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: An extremely busy week of Grand Circuit action kicks off on Monday (Aug. 11) at the Illinois State Fair with the $35,900 Review Stake for 2-year-old trotters, the $21,450 Review Stake for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $18,800 Review Stake for 2-year-old filly pacers. The Tuesday (Aug. 12) program features the $30,500 Review Stake for 3-year-old pacers and the $28,600 Review Stake for 3-year-old trotters. The Indiana State Fair will host one day of Grand Circuit racing on Wednesday (Aug. 13) with the feature being the $55,462 Fox Stake for 2-year-old colt pacers. The co-featured event is the $36,080 Ralph Wilfong for 2-year-old colt trotters. The Hoosier Stakes for 2-year-olds will see two divisions each in the $26,920 2-year-old colt pace, the $26,632 2-year-old filly pace, the $25,928 2-year-old filly trot and the $22,404 2-year-old colt trot. The Horseman Stakes for 3-year-olds features single divisions in the $36,028 3-year-old colt pace, the $33,664 3-year-old filly pace, the $32,728 3-year-old filly trot and the $32,156 3-year-old colt trot. Then on Friday (Aug. 15), Northfield Park will host the $400,000 (est.) Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old colt pacers and a $100,000 (est.) consolation in the same event. Red Shores Racetrack & Casino will host the C$60,000 (est.) Gold Cup and Saucer final for older pacers on Saturday (Aug. 16) and a C$20,000 (est.) consolation on Friday (Aug. 15). Also on Saturday, Saratoga Casino and Raceway will feature the $260,000 Joe Gerrity for open pacers and Mohawk Racetrack will contest the C$245,000 (est.) Nassagaweya for 2-year-old colt pacers and the C$215,000 (est.) Eternal Camnation for 2-year-old filly pacers. Grand Circuit action concludes on Sunday (Aug. 17) at Tioga Downs with Tompkins-Geers stakes for 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits, as well as the 2-year-old colt and filly trotters. These events carry purses estimated from $53,000 for the 3-year-old filly pacers to $85,000 for the freshman colt trotters. Complete entries for the races at the U.S. tracks are available at this link. Entries for the Canadian tracks are available at this link. Last time: Sweet Lou, driven by Ron Pierce, paced the fastest mile in Hoosier Park history with a 1:47.2 score in the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational on Friday (Aug. 8). Sweet Lou defeated stablemate Bettor's Edge in 1:47.2 in the Dan Patch. In a talented group of nine, Pierce sent Sweet Lou away from the gate firing, but stablemate Bettor's Edge and Ricky Macomber Jr. were quickest off the car and reached the opening panel in a speedy :25. Carol's Comet and Aaron Merriman were well-placed In The Pocket second with the 1-5 favorite, Sweet Lou, next in line in third. Pierce, sensing the outer flow starting to form, gave Sweet Lou the green light and he easily reached the front at the second station in a blazing :52.4. Heston Blue Chip and Corey Callahan had the daunting task of beginning the first-over charge down the backside and had reached the leader's wheel at the three-quarter mark in 1:20.1. With the torrid pace taking its toll, Bettor's Edge and Sweet Lou settled into a match race and paced away from the rest of the field. Using a :27.1 final panel, Sweet Lou was able to hold off his stablemate by a half-length to score his ninth win of the season and first Dan Patch Invitational win. Bettor's Edge was a game second while Carol's Comet finished third as the longest shot on the board at 53-1. Sweet Lou returned $2.40 to his backers at the window. Trained by Ron Burke, Sweet Lou won for the 31st time in 67 lifetime starts for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. The victory pushed his career earnings over $3 million to $3,033,961. The 5-year-old has now paced a record six consecutive winning miles under 1:48. 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 - 646; 2. Tim Tetrick - 502; 3. Ron Pierce - 369; 4. David Miller - 290; 5. Brian Sears - 245.   Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,016.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 529; 3. PJ Fraley - 204; 4. Ray Schnittker - 189; 5. Ake Svanstedt - 172. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 233.05; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 211.8; 3. Bamond Racing - 156.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 112; 5. Knutsson Trotting - 105. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Mohawk Racetrack and Tioga Downs. Mohawk Racetrack with contest eliminations in the Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers, the Metro for 2-year-old colt pacers and the She's A Great Lady for 2-year-old filly pacers on Saturday (Aug. 23). The Sunday (Aug. 24) card at Tioga Downs will offer eliminations for the Cane Pace for 3-year-olds and the second leg of the Kindergarten for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters. Paul Ramlow Grand Circuit Publicity Director

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 11, 2014 -- Hambletonian Oaks winner Lifetime Pursuit and harness racing millionaire Shake It Cerry, the glamor girls of the Jimmy Takter stable, lead a group of 14 sophomore filly trotters into Tuesday's Meadow Bright, a $199,994 Pennsylvania Sires Stake, at The Meadows. The event will go as two divisions, with Yannick Gingras guiding Lifetime Pursuit for Brittany Farms from post 2 in the first division (race 8) and Ron Pierce and Shake It Cerry leaving from post 3 in the second split (race 10) for Solveig's Racing Partners. It will be the first action for both since the Aug. 2 Hambletonian Oaks when Lifetime Pursuit outkicked Shake It Cerry in the lane to upset her stablemate at 10-1 -- and give Takter a mild surprise as well. "I knew she was good, and I expected her go give a good performance, but I didn't know she would win it," Takter said. "Cerry is a better horse, but Ronnie (Pierce) said he went too fast with her. He didn't know he was going that fast." Each of Takter's fillies has fared well at The Meadows; each won a Currier & Ives split here while Shake It Cerry also notched a PASS victory. Lifetime Pursuit (Cantab Hall-Queen Of Grace) must deal with Harley Momma, who finished fifth in the Oaks despite a troubled trip, and local favorite Broadway Socks, who has captured six of eight this year but steps up to tougher company. In addition, Takter will send out Donatella Hanover, who collected a dead-heat win in an Aug. 1 Duenna split by making up 10 lengths over the back half. For her part, Shake It Cerry (Donato Hanover-Solveig) -- last year's Dan Patch Award winner who now has banked $1,097,807 -- will face Take The Money, who passed her late in the Hambletonian Oaks to earn show. Takter indicated his girls are poised for big efforts. "They both came out of the race super and have trained really nice," he said. "They could be ready for a good performance." Exciting as the Oaks was for Takter, it served as prelude to an even bigger thrill in the Hambletonian, where Takter trainees Trixton -- driven by Takter himself -- and Nuncio finished 1-2. Does that triumph mean we'll see more of Takter in the bike? "No, no, no," he insisted. "I'm almost retired. I've been out of that (driving) for many years, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do." First post Tuesday is 12:55 PM. MEADOW BRIGHT NOTES:  On the wagering side, the card features a $5,000-guaranteed pool for the Pick 4 (races 4-7), a regular feature of Monday and Tuesday programs that The Meadows offers in association with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Initiative. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. Evan Pattak

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 9, 2014 -- Hammered down to 1-5 off his surprising fourth in the Hambletonian, Il Sogno Dream lived up to expectations Friday at The Meadows when he dominated his Currier & Ives division and scored in a stake-record 1:53.2. Wheelsandthelegman took the other split in the $120,000 stake for harness racing 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Il Sogno Dream caught the public's attention with his Hambletonian rally at 90-1, and they deemed him much the best. So did winning driver David Miller, who moved the son of Cantab Hall-Le Reve to the front at the quarter. He jogged from there, lowering the previous Currier & Ives record of 1:54.1 established by Vivid Photo in 2005. "I was very impressed with him," Miller said. "He was very easy to get along with and just raced super. He felt strong in the stretch. He felt like he had enough to finish it off." Chris Beaver trains Il Sogno Dream, who vaulted over $300,000 in career earnings, for Bill Manes, Dan Manes. Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. Wheelsandthelegman had to work much harder for his victory, first repelling Amped Up Hanover and forcing him back to the pylons past the quarter, then thwarting him again when he challenged anew near the three-quarters. The Donato Hanover-Carmita gelding triumphed for Dick Stillings in 1:55.1, a neck better than the game Amped Up Hanover, with Frost Free Hanover third. It was the seventh win for Wheelsandthelegman in nine career outings. "He's a real tough guy, but there's something not quite right about him," said Walt Carroll, who trains Wheelsandthelegman for Beth Carroll. "He got bit by a spider or something after he raced here Adios Day. There's just something missing. But he's a real competitor. I thought he was beat a couple times today, and he hung in there and did what he had to do." He attributed much of the youngster's success to trainer/driver Jim Raymer, who helped develop him. Carroll said Wheelsandthelegman likely will remain in Pennsylvania stakes for the balance of the season. $231,260 PA Sires Stake, 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers Yankee Bounty stretched his career unbeaten streak to five with his most impressive performance yet, a 1:50.4 mile that erased the stake record of Johns Polyview and is the fastest mile this year by a freshman pacing gelding on a five-eighths-mile track. Lyons Again was second, 3-1/4 lengths back, while Lost For Words earned show. Blood Brother and Tomy Terror captured the other splits in the event known as the Tyler B. Yannick Gingras enjoyed a PASS double behind Yankee Bounty and Blood Brother. Making his initial start in the Ron Burke stable, Yankee Bounty was under wraps late, making Gingras wonder how fast the son of Yankee Cruiser-Bootleg Yankee ultimately can go. "He can go faster than 1:50.4, that's for sure. He had plenty left," Gingras said. "He certainly is impressive. He's the best 2-year-old I've driven so far this year, probably the best 2-year-old in the country." Yankee Bounty Partnership and Frank Chick campaign Yankee Bounty, who soared over $100,000 in lifetime earnings. A three-race maiden entering the race, Blood Brother was dismissed at 18-1 but found the Lightning Lane in time to score in 1:51.3. Wakizashi Hanover, the 3-5 favorite, was second by a nose, while Dragon Eddy completed the ticket. "He always could go, but he shakes his head the whole race," Gingras said. "He has the ability, but he just doesn't pay attention. Today he was a little bit better as far as that goes, and he got a good trip and got it done. We're working with different bits, and hopefully someday we'll find one he likes." Jimmy Takter trains the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Blood Diamond for Diamond Creek Racing and J&T Silva Stables. Tomy Terror snapped his bridesmaid streak of three consecutive seconds by shooting the Lightning Lane to down Cooperstown by 1/2 length in 1:52.2, with Badiou Hanover third. Mike Simons drove the Western Terror-Mib Hanover gelding for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, Eugene Schick and VIP Internet Stable. "He's been on the front the last two times and just got caught, but we always thought he would be better off a helmet," said assistant trainer Tyler Butenschoen. "He got the cover he needed and exploded through there real good." The Meadows Racetrack & Casino  

The young hipsters dressed to the nines sipping cocktails while lounging on rooftop patio furniture was the first indication this was not your granddaddy's Hambletonian. That it was a surprisingly pleasant overcast August afternoon, and not a sauna, was another. In the end, the track belonged to imported Swedes -- Jimmy Takter and Ake Svanstedt, especially -- along with Ron Burke, of course. But the day? That belonged to the gleaming new $88 million grandstand that thrummed with youthful energy and passed its first big test with aplomb. Track owner Jeff Gural was pleased and, naturally, couldn't resist an "I told you so" dig at his critics. "I think if you go back to the weekend we opened, I think if you look at some of the blogs, they were all critical, 'Gural's an idiot. The place is much too small. What's he going to do for theMeadowlands Pace and Hambletonian?' We saw the place is just perfect. It was designed exactly right," he said of a building about a third the size of the behemoth across the pond. Give the man his due. On this Hambletonian, he wasn't wrong. The crowd, estimated at 20,700,was thick -- particularly in the new version of Paddock Pack now called The Backyard -- but not impenetrable. The queues -- for pari-mutuel or more ordinary refreshment -- moved withimpressive speed given the volume. The on-track wagering wasn't as strong as the Nouveau Big M folks would have liked to have seen, mind you, but then the young kids don't bet like their granddaddies, either. It's the cost of trying to introduce the business to a generation to which harness racing is as foreign as rumble seats. But out there in our hyper-connected world, from Hackensack to Helsinki to Sydney the bets poured in. With a few countries still to be heard from, the expectation is that the haul will be about $1 million higher than last year. The total handle of more than $8.7 million is already the third best Hambletonian Day in history and foreign wagering could still push this year's number to the top spot, exceeding some $9 million bet in 2005. "That's impressive in this day and age," Gural said. "That's a tribute to the card. We had full fields, a couple of big fields, almost all the major stars were there with the exception of the three-year-old (pacing) colts. But on the trotting side, we got a little lucky with Father Patrick drawing the 10-hole. It wasn't a walkover, as it turned out." The Ãber trotter, bet down to 2-5 despite starting from parking lot, was part of Takter's Terrific Trio instrumental in scaring off challengers in the main event and leaving the Hambletonian heatless just one year after returning to its old format. That Father Patrick made a jump at the gate immediately made for some interesting drama whether you watched on the huge high-definition infield screen from one of the outdoor grandstand seats or in the hinterland via the spectacular show on the CBS Sports Network that employed 13 cameras to great effect, including a wide-angle mounted on the starting gate. Takter's intact duo of Trixton and Nuncio got the job done, of course, with a neck-and-neck stretch battle to boot. When the stone dust finally settled, Takter celebrated his first Hambletonian victory in the bike (and third lifetime), nipping John Campbell for what would have been his seventh triumph in harness racing's premier race. You needed a cab ride to reach the rest of the field scattered by three breakers, which was particularly disheartening to driver Yannick Gingras and the rest of Father Patrick's connections. That it was likely Gingras' greatest day at the track was little consolation for the Quebec native who won four stakes -- including the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit -- and just shy of $600,000 in purses in all, but was crest fallen about losing the big one. "It's probably the best day I've had racing horses but it's also the most disappointing day. I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before, and I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for it. The gate opened, I just touched him on his tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance, but you never know," Gingras told the ubiquitous Bob Heyden, one of the few things about the new place that thankfully was not traded in for a newer model on Hambletonian Day. That Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame was tabbed to present harness racing's Stanley Cup to Takter and Co. speaks to that youth movement again -- unless you're referring to that glorious silver bowl that now has 90 of the sport's greatest trotters inscribed in silver discs on its wedding cake base. Dear Lord, let's hope no one ever entertains trading that in for a newer model, because newer isn't always better. Progress isn't always positive. Sorely missed in the new digs is the old front paddock that radiated with equine and human stars and served as the annual meeting place for the sport's far-flung powerbrokers on Hambletonian Day. The signs that once hung above the stalls on the facade of the old place honouring each of the Hambletonian winners since the race moved to New Jersey in 1981 seem out of place now lining the infield. Try as they might, even the Copacabana rum girls sporting huge feather headdresses and littleelse other than smiles, didn't make up for the loss. Though, they were a nice touch along with the fathead driver cutouts seen throughout the day, the appearance by Captain Bill Wichrowski from the Discovery Channel's show Deadliest Catch and old style pennants each bearing the name of a Hambletonian finalist. The bridge from old to new was the free Hambletonian hats, The Nerds bashing out loud, enthusiastic covers in the park and the track itself, of course, which yielded three more world record performances. "I've been coming to the Hambletonian since 1960's when it was staged in DuQuoin [IL], and appreciated its growth and renewed pageantry when it moved to New Jersey in the old grandstand setting. We're working to build on that great tradition.," said Tom Charters president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "In a way it was similar to the first Hambletonian here in 1981 - a new experience entirely. This is a new venue and a wonderful new facility, a new era. We will work with the Meadowlands to establish some new traditions that underscore the Hambletonian's place as America's trotting classic and the most important harness race in the world." Classic Martine got things started in the first race, equaling the world mark for trotting mares with a 1:51.1 score in the $52,000 Ima Lulu Final. Five races later, Mission Brief equaled the global mark for two-year-old trotting fillies with a 1:52.2 score in the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle. Barefoot speedster Sebastian K capped the record-setting parade in race 11 when he equaled the 1:50 record for older trotters while winning the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial the same day Cashman's 14-year-old granddaughter, Grace Cashman, sang the national anthem. None of which -- even the Hambletonian winner -- topped spectacular sightlines from multiple decks, a Hollywood-style sign on the roof that spells out Meadowlands in huge letters and a massive sports bar that transforms into a dance club at night -- all designed to lure the next generation critical for the sport's survival. "Everybody loved it. Everybody thought it was spectacular," said Gural, who is fond of wandering his plant to make himself available to his patrons. "The biggest compliments were from the people that had never been there. If you've never been there, you're really shocked when you pull up to the door." As the start of a new era for harness racing greatest day drew to a close, even the sky brightened and the Manhattan skyline materialized like a mirage out of the haze. The hipsters on the roof barely noticed, what with their iPhones, friends and cocktails to attend to, but the rest of us noticed them all right. They were completely foreign to the old place and a most welcome addition to the club. by Dave Briggs for the Hambletonian Society

Three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers were on tap on a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, each going for a purse of just over $70,000. The first division featured Adios runner-up Somewhere In L A (Somebeachsomewhere) and Hempt runner-up At Press Time (Western Terror). As the wings closed, At Press Time made his way to the top, while Somewhere In L A tucked in third, off a 27.2 first quarter. At the half, Somewhere In L A floated to the outside, and was on even terms with the leader just past the three-quarter pole. The stage was set for a stretch duel between the race favorites, but Somewhere In L A powerfully pulled away to win by 3 lengths, in a time of 1:50. At Press Time held second, while Adios Consolation winner Mattamerican (Allamerican Native) finished third. Somewhere in L A is owned by J&T Silva Stables, Deo Volente Farms, and TLP Stables, trained by Jimmy Takter, and was driven by Brett Miller. In the second division, the wagering public put their hopes behind North American Cup runner-up Tellitlikeitis. The son of Well Said was coming off of a third in the Meadowlands Pace. However, the Jim Campbell trainee Sometimes Said had other ideas. The son of Well Said came away fourth off the wings, and maintained that position until the half. Driver Tim Tetrick then gave him his cue, as he grinded first-over to be within a length of the lead at three quarters. He went on to kick clear, putting away the pace-setter and eventual second place finisher Limelight Beach, to win in a time of 1:50.1. Tellitlikeitis, who elected to save ground, rallied up the cones for third. Sometimes Said is owned by Fashion Farms LLC. The third and final division was stacked full of equine talent, led by Adios winner McWicked (McCardle). As the wings closed, driver Dave Miller sent the race favorite immediately to the top, with Lyonssomewhere (Somebeachsomewhere) securing the pocket spot. After a quarter in 26, McWicked rated the second split in 28.3, before stepping on the gas petal. He faced mild first-over pressure from Toms Titan (Nuclear Breeze) at three-quarters. At the top of the stretch, pocket sitting Lyonssomewhere lost all chance by making a break. McWicked went on to win by open lengths, stopping the clock in 1:48.4. He is owned by SSG Stables, and is trained by Casie Coleman. Mike Bozich

Trainer Jimmy Takter’s dream of life has come true as he drove the winner of the prestigious $1,006,125 Hambletonian Trot with Trixton Saturday afternoon at the Meadowlands for three-year-olds. It was a bitter-sweet victory for Takter, who trained the three favorites in the race. Trixton’s stable mate, Nuncio, with John Campbell, was second but the undefeated Father Patrick (Yannick Gringras) made a break at the very start of the race and was never in the hunt, finished dead last in eleventh place. It was Nuncio and Campbell who was on the lead early with Resolve (Corey Callahan) grabbing the two-hole spot. Then floating on the outside but unable to find anywhere to tuck in was Royal Ice and driver Ron Pierce. So with no place to get cover, Pierce pushed to try and take the lead away from Nuncio as they went to the opening quarter mile in :26.3 and then to the half mile in :54. Trixton and Takter were second-over behind Royal Ice and before the three-quarters in 1:23, Takter took Trixton three-wide and was able to loop around Royal Ice but lost precious ground to Nuncio. As they started down the stretch it became a two-horse race to the finish, stable mates Nuncio with Campbell and Trixton with Takter. With every stride to the wire Trixton was able to gobble up more ground than Nuncio. Trixton was able to collar him before the finish and go on to win by a half-length in 1:50.3. Harper Blue Chip and driver Brian Sears. “This is something I just would dream about,” Takter said. “I have been here before as a trainer, but this is special. It is going to take me a day or so to really sink in. I have had a great day, we just won the Oaks, I am so happy. “I don’t want to take anything away from Trixton,” Takter explained, “Trixton is great and so is Nuncio, but Father Patrick is, in my opinion, the best of the three. It is so special today. I handle this horses since day one in my barn.” The highest priced yearling of 2012 at $380,000, Trixton was a slow starter at age two, winning just four starts in eight tries and $53,687. This year he has now won seven times in nine starts and has lifetime earnings of $840,542. Sired by Muscle Hill, Trixton’s time of 1:50.3 was just two fifth of a second from the world record set by his sire, Muscle Hill, back in 2008. Trixton paid $10.60 to win. "This is probably the best day I have ever had racing horses," said Father's Patrick's driver Yannick Gingras. "But it is the most disappointing day that that happened. I scored him down pretty hard because I had not left with him before and I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for it. When the gate opened I just touched him with the whip and it happened and he started running. It is unfortunate because knock on wood, I will have another chance but he never will." Trixton By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Jimmy Takter has once again won the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old fillies, only perhaps with the horse he did not figure winning it with this Saturday. Lifetime Pursuit upset her stable mate Shake It Cerry in the stretch and posted a world record mile of 1:50.4 in giving driver Yannick Gingras his first ever victory in the Hambletonian Oaks. Leaving from post seven, Gingras sent Lifetime Pursuit to the early lead with Take The Money (Dave Palone) right on their backs. They sped to the opening quarter in :26.3 and before anyone could settle down, here comes stable mate Shake It Cerry and driver Ron Pierce and they went to the front by the half mile in :55.1. Heaven’s Door (Ake Svanstedt) came first-over and gave outside cover to the race favorite Designed To Be (Brian Sears) as they raced to the three-quarters in 1:23.2. As the field started down the stretch, it was Gringas and Lifetime Pursuit pulling from the pocket, collaring Shake It Cerry and drawing off to win by two lengths over Designed To Be and Take The Money. Shake It Cerry was fourth. Lifetime Pursuit paid $22.00 to win. “She (Lifetime Pursuit) has been a little under the radar,” said trainer Jimmy Takter, “She is a top horse. She ran second to “Cerry” all last year. I felt good about her going into this race. She has been serious every race. I gambled a little bit, we made a few changes and it worked.” “She got a perfect trip,” Gingras said. “She probably needed that to win but she was awesome anyway. They pulled off her shoes and I think that made the difference. She is always good gaited but that really helped her today.” Owned and bred by Brittany Farm’s George Segal, her time of 1:50.4 surpassed the previous world record of 1:51 set last year by Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician. “Absolutely she is a terrific filly,” said Segal, Jimmy’s done a great job, Yannick driving her great.  I don’t pay attention to the publicity. She’s been racing great.  You race for $30,000 and you do different things and you come out here for half a million bucks and you put it all on the line..” Lifetime Pursuit By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

$100,000 MISS NJ TO GETTINGREADYTOROLL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Donatella Hanover and My Inspiration finished in a dead-heat for the win on Friday night in the $30,000 Duenna Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. Fittingly, the program on the eve of the Hambletonian was a festival of mostly trotting races. Donatella Hanover surged from seventh to force the deadlock, her fifth win in 15 starts for Christinatakterandthekids. Brett Miller was at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter. My Inspiration, who had battled to the front in deep stretch only to get nailed at the wire, improved to 2 for 10 for Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz with Corey Callahan driving for trainer Trond Smedshammer. The time was 1:54. Michelle Crawford pumped her fist in the air as A Penny Earned was an easy winner in the $27,500 racing under saddle competition. The 5-year-old gelding, trained by George Ducharme, who captured last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life, posted his second racing-under-saddle win in five tries. The time was 1:57 2/5. There were also eight Grand Circuit divisions of the Kindergarten Stakes for 2-year-old trotters each worth $10,000. In the colt and gelding divisions: French Laundry cruised to a convincing 5 1-4 length win in 1:55 3/5 with Yannick Gingras driving for Takter. They will team up with 4-5 favorite Father Patrick in the Hambletonian. It was the second win in three starts for the $115,000 Lexington purchase for Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. The time was 1:55 3/5. Gingras and Habitat held off The Bank for his maiden victory in 1:54 2/5. Ron Burke trains the $50,000 Lexington purchase for Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. P Mac Attack won his debut in 1:57 2/5 in a 12-1 upset. Marcus Johansson drove the Richard & Joyce McClelland homebred for his wife Nancy. In the filly divisions: Speak To Me, the 1-10 favorite, did not disappoint. The $80,000 Harrisburg purchase by Brittany Farms improved to 4 for 4 for Gingras and Takter. The time was 1:53 4/5. The boss's horse, Allerage Star won in 1:57 2/5 for Jeff Gural, chairman of the New Meadowlands Racetrack and his Little E Stable. Corey Callahan was at the lines for trainer Jessica Okusko as the $18,000 Harrisburg purchase got her first win in three starts. Josie's Joy edged Pad Princess by a neck in 1:55 3/5 for the Hall of Fame duo of driver John Campbell and trainer Chuck Sylvester. It was second win in three starts for Nicholas Cimino's homebred. Sistas pulled a 29-1 upset in her second start following a 23-length loss in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes. Marcus Johansson drove his wife's trainee for the ownership team of Crawford, Crawford and Crawford. The $17,000 yearling purchase at Lexington trotted the mile in 1:57. Lady Clarabella, Paul Kinnear's homebred, got her maiden win in 1:58 2/5. David Miller drove for trainer Randy Beeckman. Even-money favorite Iluvmyjimmychoos finished second despite jumping off stride at the finish wire. The judges determined she did not violate the breaking rules and left her in the place spot. Saturday is Hambletonian Day. Post time is noon. Gates open at 10 a.m. Post Time for The $1 Million Hambletonian is 5:11 P.M. For all things Hambletonian go to http://www.ustrotting.com/trackside/hambletonian/ and www.playmeadowlands.com. Darin Zoccali

Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

CAMPBELLVILLE, August 1 - All eyes in harness racing will be on the Meadowlands this Saturday for the Hambletonian and local standout Harper Blue Chip will be one of eleven trotters vying for harness racing's highest profile trotting title. Trained by local conditioner Mark Steacy, Harper Blue Chip will start from post position nine with driver Brian Sears in the $1,006,125 Hambletonaian, which is carded as Race 13 on Saturday afternoon. Harper Blue Chip races for owners Landmark 6 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie and George Judson of Athens, Ontario. The son of Majestic Son - Winning Jonlin is coming off a 3 ¾ length victory in the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 19. In six starts this season, Harper Blue Chip has visited the winner's circle twice and has only missed the board once when he finished fourth to the Father Patrick in the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28. Just like the Beal Memorial, Harper Blue Chip and the rest of the field will be gunning for Father Patrick, who enters the Hambletonian on a 15 race win streak. Father Patrick is just one of three starters (Nuncio and Trixton) sent out by trainer Jimmy Takter. Takter's trio are the top three choices on the morning line. Harper Blue Chip is the fourth choice in the early odds of 12-1. Steacy admits that it will be a tough task defeating Takter's trio, but that his horse is on top of his game. "We've got our work cut out for us," said Steacy. "I was quite disappointed drawing the nine, it kind of made things a lot more difficult, but our horse is going into the race really good and healthy, so I expect a good effort from him as long as we have some race luck." Since the fourth place effort in the Beal, Harper Blue Chip has dominated locally and Steacy believes Harper Blue Chip is a better horse than the last time he faced the continent's very best. "I think with the trio of Jimmy Takter's it's a big step up, but he's raced against these horses before, never been able to beat them, but he's gone against them and he's been respectable," said Steacy. "I think my horse is better than the last time he raced against these horses and I think he's improved with every start and again a lot of racing luck and you never what might happen." Steacy has an idea of the trip he would like for his charge, but will leave the strategy up to defending and two-time Hambletonian winning driver Brian Sears. "It's going to be up to Brian Sears, but I'm hoping he will try to charge off the gate...obviously you want to be as close to Father Patrick or Trixton or one of those horses that you can be." Defeating Takter's trio will be a tough task for the Mark Steacy trainee, but Steacy knows what it takes to win a million dollar race with a three-year-old trotter. In 2006, Steacy captured the million dollar Canadian Trotting Classic with Majestic Son, the sire of Harper Blue Chip, overcoming favourites Chocolatier and Trotting Triple Crown winner Glidemaster. On Saturday afternoon, Steacy will be looking to recreate that million dollar magic with Harper Blue Chip. No horse has been hotter on the WEG circuit this season than State Treasurer and the Dr. Ian Moore trainee will take his talents south to the Meadowlands to battle with the sport's top free-for-all pacers on Saturday. State Treasurer will start from post two with driver David Miller in a field of nine for the $257,700 US Pacing Championship. The five-year-old son of Real Desire - Ideal Tresurer has won seven times in ten starts this season, including a victory last Saturday night in the Preferred at Mohawk in 1:48.3. State Treasurer has started in the WEG Preferred seven times this season and is currently riding a six race win streak in the circuit's top class. All six of those wins have been sub-1:50 miles. His biggest victory of the season was on May 30 in the $150,000 Molson Pace at Western Fair. State Treasurer's rivals on Saturday include Sweet Lou, who is currently on a seven race win streak, and Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pepsi North America Cup winner. Two starts back, State Treasurer tackled this group in the $463,000 William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands and finished fourth, while only beaten 2 ½ lengths. This Saturday, State Treasurer will need to bring his top game and the speed he has been putting on display. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG

We have been on a roll as of late with winning weekends the last two weeks. I am confident we can make it three straight winning weeks and never have to leave the Meadowlands. It’s their closing weekend and that mean’s Hambletonian Day, one of the best days of racing in the sport of harness racing this Saturday, headlined of course by the Hambletonian Trot. The card is jamming with top stakes action. The only problem is something we have no control over and that is Mother Nature. I handicapped based on a fast track so here’s hoping the rain either ends early or does not stop until late in the day. Good Luck! $52,000 Trot Ima Lula Final 4YO Mares Meadowlands 1st race SATURDAY – With a serious case of seconditis after her championship season last year, we keep hoping for Bee A Magician to return to her unbeaten form of 2013 but it just isn’t happening. Perhaps they will change tactics here and go back to racing her off the pace and that she will be able take this field. Use Classic Martine and Ma Chere Hall in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Miss New Jersey 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 3rd race SATURDAY – Seems that trainer Jimmy Takter may have solved the previous breaking problems of Gettingreadytoroll off her lifetime mark last week in 1:49.3 and that she is settled down to keeping her mind on business. Repeat of last winning effort will bring home the bacon in here. Use Act Now and Bliztra in exotic plays. $225,000 Pace New Jersey Classic 3YO Colts Meadowlands 4th race SATURDAY – Western Vintage has had a rough 3YO season after many thought he would be one of the leaders in this division after his great two-year-old season. Seems he has not lived up to expectations but should go off the favorite here after decent qualifying win. I’m going with Doo Wop Hanover. He has had good success when not racing against the best in the country, drew well for this and could get the dream two-hole trip to score off of. Use Western Vintage and Bushwacker in exotic plays. $257,700 Pace FFA US Pacing Championship Meadowlands 5th race SATURDAY – Too tough to even consider going against the best pacer in the sport. Sweet Lou is on a seven-race winning streak, last four in less than 1:48 and he is just a pacing machine. He is facing a strong field but he has beaten all of them before and can do it again. Use Captaintreacherous and State Treasurer in exotic plays. $352,050 Trot Merrie Annabelle 2YO Filly Final Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY – This will be an interesting matchup as both Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover have yet to meet and both are hot fillies that race on the front end. Mission Brief gets the call with her blinding early speed but you never know how Gatka Hanover will handle getting a two-hole trip. Use Gatka Hanover and Lock Down Lindy in exotic plays. $355,500 Trot Peter Haughton 2YO Colt Final Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY – It’s interesting that in this final there are four return winners of the ten starters. Ake Svanstedt’s Centurion ATM showed he is the horse to beat after coming off the pace in his elimination race last week and strolling to a 1:54.2 win in just his third lifetime start. Repeat of that mile will make him an easy winner once again. Use Canepa Hanover and Guess Who’s Back in exotic plays. $75,000 Trot FFA Vincennes Invitational Meadowlands 10th race SATURDAY – All the talk was that after Master Of Law won his qualifying race that he was on his way to taking on the best in the country. He lived up to performance with a 1:52 win last time out and now gets really tested against a good field and having to start from post nine. Use Wishing Stone and D’Orsay in exotic plays. $300,650 Trot John Cashman Memorial FFA Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY – Whether it rains or not I think Sebastian K and Ake Svanstedt are too tough to get caught again at the wire. No one can out leave him and unless every horse in the field tries to go first-over against him, he has too much stamina to not hold them off. Use Uncle Peter and Market Share in exotic plays. $500,000 Trot Hambletonian Oaks 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 12th race – Last week in prep race, Ron Pierce and Shake It Cerry held Designed To Be and Brian Sears at bay and were able to win. Now Shake It Cerry starts from second tier in post 11 and won’t be able to dictate early fractions to anyone. I still think that Shake It Cerry will “shake it loose” somehow and find a different way to beat Designed To Be once again. Use Designed To Be and Lifetime Pursuit in exotic plays. $1,066,125 Trot Hambletonian Final 3YO Colts Meadowlands 13th race SATURDAY – Trainer Jimmy Takter has his heart set on finishing one, two, three in harness racing’s most prestigious race and he very well should get what wants as he has the best colts in racing. Father Patrick needs to just overcome starting from post ten as he is seconds faster than the rest of the field. Use Trixton and Nuncio in exotic plays. $177,750 Pace Lady Liberty Final Older Mares Meadowlands 14th race SATURDAY – Was super impressed with the three moves Drop The Ball made for driver Corey Callahan last week in winning elimination race. She will need that gusty performance once again to win the final as Rocklamation will be in the hunt this week. Drop The Ball gets the slim call in here. Use Rocklamation and Somwherovrarainbow in exotic plays.

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