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With the Hambletonian Stakes already on his list of accomplishments, Forbidden Trade will try for the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown when he faces seven foes in Saturday's (Aug. 31) $500,000 Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway. Nine trotters have captured the harness racing Triple Crown since its inception in 1955, the most recent Marion Marauder three years ago. Forbidden Trade and driver Bob McClure will start the Yonkers Trot from post six. Gimpanzee, the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter and third-place finisher in the Hambletonian, leaves from post four. Soul Strong, who was a parked-out fourth from post 10 in the Hambletonian, starts from post two. It will be Forbidden Trade's first trip to The Hilltop, but the Luc Blais-trained colt is no stranger to success on half-mile-sized tracks such as Yonkers. Forbidden Trade won at Ontario's Grand River Raceway last season in 1:56.4, the fastest mile by a 2-year-old trotter in Canadian history. It also will be McClure's first visit to Yonkers. The 28-year-old, though, did plenty of driving on Ontario's half-mile ovals before becoming a regular at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 2018. McClure led Canada in wins in 2017 and 2016. He was third last year and in 2015. "At the end of the day they're all still going in a circle," McClure said about racing at Yonkers for the first time. "I know it's a tight half, but I've driven on a lot of (half-mile tracks) here too. "Good horses, they get around pretty well anything," he added. "(Forbidden Trade) is just a complete professional. That's why he was so successful at 2; he was like a 4-year-old to drive. He never made any mistakes; he was just perfect." Forbidden Trade, owned by Serge Godin's Determination stable, won seven of 11 races last year and received the O'Brien Award as Canada's best 2-year-old male trotter. This year, Forbidden Trade has won six of nine starts and finished no worse than third in any race. He has won five of his past six races, with his only setback being a third-place finish in his Hambletonian elimination. He won the same-day final by a neck over favorite Greenshoe. "He came back this year and he's faster, he's stronger, he's always been great gaited, and he's just as smart," McClure said. "You look at all the races he's won, you can leave with him and go out of there in :26 (seconds) or you can take him back and come home in :26. He just does whatever he has to do. "He's just a really good horse." Forbidden Trade has raced once since the Hambletonian, winning a division of the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold on Aug. 12 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "He was really good that day," McClure said. "I'm sure he's in top form. He was feeling so good, Luc decided to go (to the Yonkers Trot)." Forbidden Trade, who has earned $907,728 in his career, will start the Yonkers Trot from one of the least advantageous post positions from a statistical standpoint. Posts one through five at Yonkers produce winners at a minimum of 14.3 percent, led by post one at 18 percent, while post six is at 8.5 percent. "It's just a starting spot," McClure said. "We'll probably just get off the gate and see how things turn out. You never know what's going to happen. Gimpanzee is probably the horse to beat, so we'll go from there." The three legs of the Trotting Triple Crown are the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity. The Futurity, held at Lexington's Red Mile, is Oct. 6. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Yonkers. The Yonkers Trot is race six on the card and will be followed by the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers. Bettor's Wish, the sport's top money-earner this season with $859,544, leads the field of eight in the Messenger, which is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Captain Crunch, who won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, did not enter the Messenger. The card also includes the Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud. For complete entries, click here. Below is the field for the 65th Yonkers Trot. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Osterc-Dexter Dunn-Per Engblom 2-Soul Strong-Dexter Dunn-Ake Svanstedt 3-Sheena's Boy-Andy Miller-Ake Svanstedt 4-Gimpanzee-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander 5-Livinonthedash-Marcus Miller-Erv Miller 6-Forbidden Trade-Bob McClure-Luc Blais 7-HL Revadon-Jim Marohn Jr.-Harry Landy 8-No Drama Please-Jason Bartlett-Tom Fanning by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

After a slow start to her harness racing campaign, Manchego will try to resume her return to winning form when she heads to Woodbine Mohawk Park for Saturday's (Aug. 24) second of two eliminations for the Maple Leaf Trot. The 4-year-old mare, who was a Dan Patch Award winner in 2017, has won two of her past three races, including a stakes-record 1:50 performance in the Steele Memorial earlier this month. "She needed a little bit of time to get back into herself, but I think history has showed that when she's on top of her game she's tough to beat," trainer Nancy Johansson said. "She's a super nice filly. She's nice and relaxed now and nice to be around and happy. Earlier in her life, she was always a little on edge. Now she's as cool as a cucumber. She's really confident in herself." Manchego was one of five mares entered in the Maple Leaf Trot, which attracted 13 horses. The mares joining Manchego in the second elim are Hannelore Hanover, the 2017 winner of the event, and Emoticon Hanover. They will meet male rivals Crystal Fashion, Marion Marauder, Run Director, and Six Pack. In the first elim, the mares are Atlanta and Dream Together. They are joined by males Speeding Spur N, Dancer Hall, Cruzado Dela Noche, and Guardian Angel AS. Guardian Angel AS is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first elimination, followed by Atlanta at 5-2. Crystal Fashion is the 5-2 choice in the second division, followed by Manchego at 3-1. The top five finishers from each elimination return Aug. 31 for the final. Manchego, whose career victories include a Breeders Crown in 2017 and the Hambletonian Oaks in 2018, was winless in her first five races this season. She was unlucky when it came to draws, getting posts seven, eight (twice) and 10 in her first four starts. She raced from off the pace in her first two starts, but it was too difficult to make up ground in the stretch. "People always say post position doesn't matter, that it's just a starting point, but it does matter because nowadays they go fast the whole mile," Johansson said. "If you're sitting eighth, you can't catch up. So, unless you're going to blast off the gate, which is what we ended up having to do." In the Graduate Series championship at The Meadowlands, when she started from post 10, she got to the front in an opening quarter of :26.2. She ended up finishing fourth, beaten only 1-1/2 lengths, in Atlanta's 1:49.1 world-record mile. Manchego was timed in 1:49.2. Two starts later, she picked up her first win of the season with a 1:50.1 triumph from post nine at The Meadowlands. She followed with her gate-to-wire triumph in the Steele Memorial on Hambletonian Day at the Big M and was the bettor's second choice in the Joie De Vie Stakes on Aug. 11 at Tioga Downs, only to get knocked out of contention by a horse that broke in front of her just after the start of the race. "It was a little disappointing she got wiped out last time because Dexter (driver Dexter Dunn) said she'd never scored down that good for him," Johansson said. "But she's very good and hopefully we can just keep her there." Manchego, by Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, has won 21 of 34 lifetime starts and earned $1.69 million. She is owned by Barry Guariglia's Black Horse Racing. "It was a little frustrating early, but I was never overly concerned," Guariglia said about Manchego's start to this season. "They said just give her a little time and she'll come. And sure enough. "You always worry about desire. Once they throw it in mentally, then you're in trouble. But she's got the desire. She likes to do her work." Andrew McCarthy will drive Manchego on Saturday, sitting in for Dunn, who will be at Yonkers Raceway to race Bettor's Wish in his Messenger Stakes elimination. "That doesn't worry me," Johansson said. "Dexter has done a very good job with her, but I'm sure Andrew can do just as well of a job." The Maple Leaf Trot eliminations are races two and three on Saturday's card, which begins at 7:10 p.m. (EDT). The night also includes two divisions of the Eternal Camnation Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers and one division of the Nassagaweya for 2-year-old male pacers. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

When Bettor's Wish won May's Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers Raceway, it served as a harbinger of the colt's rise to prominence among harness racing 3-year-old pacers. On Saturday, he returns to The Hilltop for the first time since that victory, facing five rivals in the first of two eliminations of the Messenger Stakes. Bettor's Wish was not staked to the Messenger, so his connections paid $30,000 to make him eligible to the race. The colt, trained and co-owned by Chris Ryder, has won seven of 10 races this year (finishing second in his three defeats) and earned $839,544, which tops all horses in North America. He heads to his Messenger elim off victories in the Carl Milstein Memorial and a division of the Kentucky Sire Stakes. Interestingly, Bettor's Wish was not originally staked to the Art Rooney, either, but his connections paid a $6,000 supplement fee in February to make him eligible. Bettor's Wish won the $300,000 Rooney by six lengths. "He's been great," said Scott Ezzo, an Ohio resident whose wife Lisa heads Bella Racing Ltd., which is part of the horse's ownership group. "The Art Rooney was the one that set the stage. When he won that race, we said he was going to be something to enjoy. "We weren't sure (what to expect from Bettor's Wish entering this year). I talked to Chris throughout the winter and he said he was training really well. But Chris never tips his hand. So, when Chris supplemented him to the Art Rooney, that got my attention." Bettor's Wish has attracted plenty of attention in the months to follow. In addition to winning the Milstein and Rooney, the colt finished second in the Meadowlands Pace, missing by a head after being parked out the entire mile, and second in the Cane Pace, where he was defeated by a neck. He also was second in the North America Cup. Over the course of his career, Bettor's Wish has won 12 of 22 races and finished worse than second only three times, with two thirds and a fourth accounting for the remaining setbacks. "It's been tremendous; we've had a lot of fun following him," Lisa Ezzo said. "We have so many people that are following him along with us. We just love that. It's been fun for a lot of people, I think. "I think he's a little guy and people always want to root for the little guy. But he races big. He doesn't know his size." Bettor's Wish, by Bettor's Delight out of Lifetime Star, was purchased for $20,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale. He has earned $1.11 million so far in his career. The colt is owned by Ryder, Bella Racing, Leah Cheverie's and Art Zubrod's Fair Island Farm, and the recently created Bettors Wish Partners group of original owner Ken Solomon and newcomers Dana Parham and Eric Cherry's Let It Ride Stables. The Messenger Stakes is the second leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, following the Cane Pace (won by Captain Crunch, who did not enter the Messenger) and ahead of the Little Brown Jug. The Jug is held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, which happens to be the hometown of the Ezzos. Bettor's Wish is not eligible to the Jug, but a win in the Messenger final would allow his connections to supplement. Any horse not eligible to the Jug can be supplemented if it wins either the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Cane Pace, or Messenger. "Our backs are against the wall," Scott Ezzo said. "Hopefully we'll get in." Bettor's Wish is undefeated in three lifetime races at Yonkers, all this season, and has won six of seven career starts on half-mile tracks, such as Yonkers. His only loss on a half came by a neck in last year's Battle of Waterloo. He flashed his big-track ability in his most recent victory, stopping the clock in 1:47.4 at Red Mile, which is tied for the second-fastest mile of the season by a 3-year-old pacer. "He's proven to me to be very durable," trainer Ryder said. "Every time he races, he does something that impresses you, he does something good. It's just a good ride, we just have to keep it up. We're just taking it week by week." The Ezzos have enjoyed success with other horses, such as 2006 Breeders Crown winner Charley Barley and world-record-setter Kiss Me Onthebeach, but Bettor's Wish has been something else. "It's just been incredible," Scott Ezzo said. "We've had some good horses, but he's the best. I'm not taking anything away from the other ones, but he's like the Energizer bunny; he just keeps going, and going, and going." Joining Bettor's Wish in the first Messenger elimination, which is a non-betting race, are Captain Trevor, Escapetothebeach, American Mercury, Branquinho, and Lyons Johnnyjnr. Bettor's Wish starts from post one with regular driver Dexter Dunn. The horses in the second elimination, which is race five on the betting card, are U S Captain, Air Force Hanover, Aflame Hanover, Waterway, Buddy Hill, and Reigning Deo. Buddy Hill is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Tim Tetrick is accustomed to having good harness racing seasons, but 2019 is shaping up to be one of his most memorable. Tetrick is the regular driver of harness racing's No. 1-ranked horse, the New Zealand-bred pacing mare Shartin, and earlier this year reached career win 11,000. And last month it was announced that Tetrick is one of four people on the ballot for the Hall of Fame. The results of the voting will be announced later this year. On top of that, Tetrick entered Friday leading the sport in earnings by a wide margin. His $9.12 million in purses were $2.8 million ahead of second-place Jason Bartlett. In addition, Tetrick had won 505 races, second to only Aaron Merriman's 579. Tetrick is on pace for more than 800 wins and more than $14 million in earnings, which are levels only one driver in history has surpassed in the same year. The driver? Tetrick, who accomplished it first in 2007 when he set the record for wins with 1,189 and earnings with $18.3 million. The following year he again surpassed the 800-victory and $14-million plateaus, winning 902 races and $19.7 million. Those earnings remain the sport's record. For his career, Tetrick ranks fourth all time in purses with $211 million and ninth in wins with 11,181. He has been named Driver of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association on four occasions. Tetrick recently took time to speak with Ken Weingartner, the U.S. Trotting Association's media relations manager, about his career, the Hall of Fame, and Shartin, who has won 17 of her past 18 races and competes in Sunday's $137,000 Artiscape at Tioga Downs. The 6-year-old mare has won 12 of 13 races this year and earned $742,927. Last year, she became the first pacing mare in history to earn $1 million in a season, reaching $1.05 million thanks to 19 victories in 24 starts. KW: You're having such a great year, on pace for over 800 wins and over $14 million, what have been the keys to success? TT: Just getting the right horses, that's all. Some years you just don't have the power. This year, I've had good stables and good horses to drive. The right horses get between my arch. KW: When you get on a roll, does it feel different? TT: It's definitely a lot easier to get out of bed and go to work when you're winning four, five, six (races), that's for sure. When you have a bad few days or couple of weeks, you start thinking you can't do it anymore, you get down on yourself. I try not to think about it. I enjoy going to work. KW: Is that the key, trying to enjoy it every day? TT: Exactly. If you over-think it, you're going to mess up. You can't over-think it. The things that can bother you, you just can't let them bother you. I tried to learn that a long time ago, but it's hard. You've got to be able to turn the page, no matter what happens. You've just got to forget about it. KW: What have been the highlights for you this year? You're getting to drive Shartin, won your 11,000th race ... TT: All of the above. (And) getting nominated for the Hall of Fame, it's a dream come true. Getting to drive great horses, like Shartin. Getting to compete at a very high level. It's pretty awesome. KW: What does it mean to you to be nominated for the Hall of Fame? TT: I never thought about it when I was younger. Over the last four or five years, I've had such great success and the numbers are good, you kind of start looking ahead. You see some of your peers that you still work with get nominated and it's pretty cool to see them go in and what it means to them. It's a Hall of Fame for a reason. They only take the best of the best. To be even considered, it's a great honor. Hopefully it will come true. KW: Reaching 11,000 wins, do those milestones mean a lot to you? TT: For sure. I know records are meant to be broken, and stuff like that, but that's a lot of wins. Most people don't get 11,000 drives in their careers and I've been able to go to the winner's circle over 11,000 times. My biggest thing, though, is the money. I've gotten to win over $200 million and there are only three guys ahead of me. And I'm only 37. But the wins are awesome. I'm racing against the top 10 guys every day, so to have that many wins is awesome. KW: Do you get extra motivation from that, knowing the competition you're facing? TT: I always want to try to beat the best. Not only are they very good at what they do, they're very safe to drive with, and they're smart. It doesn't make your job easier, but it does make your job easier racing against the best guys in the world. KW: How have you seen yourself grow over the years and what are you most proud of? TT: I still learn things every day. I heard (retired driver) Cat Manzi say one time that he learned a lot from watching the younger guys when they came up. You never stop learning, the way you sit in the bike or the way you handle a horse. I like getting a young horse and being able to come off the track and tell a trainer something that I think can make the horse better. And they come back the next week and tell you, man, that really helped. Equipment changes, or whatever it is. That is a lot of fun to me. KW: It's more than just being on the track with a horse for two minutes. TT: Exactly. I know I'm a catch driver, but I still think of myself as a horseman. I always put the care of the horse first and try to do what's best for the horse and still make them go as fast as I can. And make a lot of money. (Laughs.) KW: I wanted to talk about Shartin. Jim (trainer Jim King Jr.) and everybody around the horse say what a great job you've done helping her along, going back to the beginning last year. What has it been like to see her development and how do you view your roll in it? TT: It's awesome to watch her grow and see what she's turned into. From the first time I saw her, I could never dream she could do what she's done. She's exceeded my expectations, for sure. I think Jimmy and (his wife) Jo Ann are giving me too much credit. Good horses make good drivers look better. She's been a work in progress, a little too eager at times, but Jimmy and me work together. It's different when you race than when you train them. I hear all the time, "They didn't do that at home." Well at home you don't have a starting gate and grandstand and people cheering at you. And there are nine other drivers that are trying to beat you. On the racetrack, she's different. She wants to win and she's very eager about it sometimes. They've done a great job keeping her fit. She actually loves traveling, going places; you see her just get her game face on. KW: With a horse that can be a little overanxious, what do you do to try to keep them relaxed and focused? TT: There are different ways. You try to keep her by herself because when she gets around other horses, she wants to go after them almost. When a horse gets close to her, even in the post parade, she thinks it's race time. If you keep her by herself, she takes care of herself after that. She's a beast. KW: That type of desire, is it something you can sense in a horse? TT: In her you can. You can feel it in the lines. When you're coasting on the lead by yourself, she's actually really calm and relaxed. But she'll see other horses coming before I do. She watches. She won't let a horse pass her. She wants to fight. KW: Has she reached her full potential or is there more there? TT: There's more there. I've never hit the bottom yet. The other day, that wasn't all she had, I know that. Hopefully she doesn't ever have to go faster than that. She's a horse that might last three more years if we take care of her and pick our spots. Why show off if you can make a million dollars a year with a horse? As long as we win. It doesn't pay more if you win by four or five lengths. I just let her do what she wants to do and win by the least amount we can. KW: How meaningful was it to reach a million dollars with her? TT: The first (time) was unheard of and she might do it two years in a row. It's just awesome. She's well on her way. She's ahead of her pace from last year and I think she's stronger and more mentally stable than she was at this time last year. She just amazes me every day. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Wins have been hard to come by, but that hasn't diminished This Is The Plan's performances in the eyes of his owners. After all, if not for history's co-fastest horse Lather Up and defending Horse of the Year McWicked, the 4-year-old gelding would have plenty more to show for his efforts. This Is The Plan has won one of 12 races this year, with his triumph coming in the Ben Franklin Pace on June 29. Since then, he has been runner-up to Lather Up three times (Graduate championship, William R. Haughton Memorial, Sam McKee Memorial) and McWicked once (Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial). Overall, This Is The Plan has six second-place finishes in his past seven starts. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding will try to get back to the winner's circle Sunday (Aug. 18) in the C$200,000 Prix d'Ete for 4-year-old pacers at Hippodrome 3R in Quebec. There is no Lather Up, but plenty of competition, including O'Brien Award winner Jimmy Freight and Confederation Cup champ Done Well. This Is The Plan will start from post four with driver Dan Dube at the lines for trainer Ron Burke. He is 5-2 on the morning line, part of the favored entry with stablemate Done Well. "We can't complain, he's been super," said Mark Weaver, who is a member of This Is The Plan's ownership group. "Ronnie has thought all along he would be a good fit for us just because he is so handy. He's been able to leave (the starting gate) and put himself in a good position. Unfortunately, when Lather Up comes moving to the front there's not much you can do except try to hold on for second. That's what he's been able to do, which is fine." This Is The Plan has won eight of 45 career races and earned $1.19 million. He was purchased by the Burke Brigade last September and paid immediate dividends with wins in the Matron Stakes (in a dead heat) and Progress Pace. He also finished third in the Breeders Crown. This season, he is No. 2 in purses among older male pacers, with $551,618. Only Lather Up is richer, with $677,448. "Nowadays, especially for the 4-year-olds, so much money is on the smaller tracks," said Weaver, who shares ownership of This Is The Plan with Mike Bruscemi (as Weaver Bruscemi LLC), Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. "We try to acquire horses that we think can get around the turns. He can leave and get around smaller tracks so well. That was one of the reasons we were interested in him last year." Done Well joined the Burke stable at the same time as This Is The Plan. He began this season well, with a second in a preliminary round of the Graduate Series and wins in his Confederation Cup elimination and the final. He was found to be sick following a fourth-place finish in the Camluck Classic and has been off the board in his past six starts. During that stretch, he has started from post eight twice, post nine twice and post 11 once. For his career, Done Well has won nine of 32 races and $533,245. He is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Wingfield Brothers. Done Well will start the Prix d'Ete from post three with driver Bob McClure. "To start the year, Done Well was super and This Is The Plan was drawing bad and having bad racing luck," Weaver said. "Now the last month and a half, it's kind of flip-flopped. (Done Well) has been racing against the best and has gone through a couple little ups and downs. But he's certainly a factor. "We like our horses, we like our posts, we like our drivers, so we'll take our chances from there." Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Hippodrome 3R. The Prix d'Ete is race 11 on the card. Following is the field. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-M/L 1-Hitman Hill-Eric Goodell-Hunter Oakes-7/2 2-Pretty Handsome-Trevor Henry-Andrew McCabe-6/1 3-Done Well-Bob McClure-Ron Burke-5/2 4-This Is The Plan-Dan Dube-Ron Burke-5/2 5-The Downtown Bus-Doug McNair-Jeff Gillis-4/1 6-Jimmy Freight-Louis Roy-Richard Moreau-3/1 7-Turbo Hill-Hunter Oakes-Hunter Oakes-7/2 8-Casimir Richie P-Sylvain Filion-Dr. Ian Moore-5/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Hickfromfrenchlick is scheduled to race in Indiana later this season, which is likely to attract attention there thanks to his Larry Bird-inspired name, but first the colt will try to close out a successful harness racing campaign at home on the New York circuit, beginning with Sunday's $238,200 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. The Ray Schnittker-trained Hickfromfrenchlick is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line in the EBC for 3-year-old male pacers and will start from post one with driver Matt Kakaley. Hickfromfrenchlick won his elimination this past Sunday by a neck over Shake That House, who is the 2-1 favorite in the final. Hickfromfrenchlick has won five of eight races this year and finished no worse than third in any start. Last year, the son of So Surreal-My Girl's A Star won four of his first five races, including the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace, before finishing off the board in his final two appearances. "He got sore at the end of last year and I don't think we saw the best of him toward the end," co-owner Patrick English said. "Unlike last year, it seems like he's gotten stronger as the year has gone on, so that's been real impressive. "It's been an absolute thrill having him. He's a gamer. It's like an athlete, when they call your number you've got to be ready to go. He's able to do that." English got involved owning racehorses in 2016, when he started the Nolamaura Racing ownership group that includes his father, Kerry, among others. The English family owns a beer distributorship in Goshen, N.Y., and has long been active on the Board of Directors at Historic Track. Prior to owning horses, Patrick English was taught how to drive by Schnittker. English won a matinee race at Historic Track on Father's Day in 2012. It remains the only time he ever drove in a race. "I'm undefeated," English said, laughing. "People don't realize how much Ray does for a lot of people around here in the sport. He brought me into it and taught me everything I know. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be in the sport. I appreciate everything he does for us." Hickfromfrenchlick was bred by Steve Jones, whose farm is located near Goshen, and purchased for $47,000 at the 2017 Goshen Yearling Sale. The colt's name is based on the nickname of Indiana-born basketball legend Bird, who was known as The Hick from French Lick. A week prior to the Empire Breeders Classic eliminations, Hickfromfrenchlick equaled the track record for a 3-year-old pacing colt at Batavia Downs, winning a division of the New York Sire Stakes in 1:51.2. "That was a good mile to watch, not only because he was the winner, but they were racing the whole way," Schnittker said about the race, which saw Hickfromfrenchlick rebuff multiple challenges from Shake That House and then a late charge from Buddy Hill. "They weren't giving any money away that day. "He's come back good this year. He's very versatile, a nice horse to drive. I thought he was a very good horse last year, but I didn't know how sound he would stay. Usually, whatever bites them at 2 comes back and bites them at 3. But I got lucky and he's been very sound this year." Mark MacDonald drove Hickfromfrenchlick for his first six starts this season before being sidelined because of a racing accident. English credited MacDonald with aiding the colt's development. "Matt has done a great job these last couple races, but it was really tough seeing Mark hurt and not able to be on the bike," English said. "I know he's upset about it. When he wasn't traveling he was at the barn with Ray training with Hick. He's also helped out with our two 2-year-olds, Cigars And Port and Splash Brother. He's been a great help." Following the Empire Breeders Classic, Hickfromfrenchlick will compete in the final preliminary round of the New York Sire Stakes on Aug. 29 with an eye toward the series championship on Sept. 14. He then is eligible to the Simpson Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sept. 29 and three races at Harrah's Hoosier Park in Indiana - the Pegasus, Circle City, and Monument Circle. "We're looking forward to that," English said about the horse's trip to Indiana, adding with a laugh, "I've got to think that name is going to bring some popular betting." Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Tioga Downs, which hosts several stakes in addition to the EBC. For complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

After giving Hanna Dreamgirl the opportunity to boost her confidence, owner Ken Jacobs and trainer George Ducharme will give the filly the chance to reestablish herself on the Grand Circuit. Hanna Dreamgirl will bring a three-race win streak to Saturday's (Aug. 17) $135,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters at Vernon Downs. All three of the filly's recent victories came in the New York Excelsior "A" Series, which is the tier beneath the state's top sire stakes level. In the start prior to her win streak, Hanna Dreamgirl finished 10th in a division of the Reynolds Memorial. She had not won a New York Sire Stakes division since her 2019 debut in early May. Last year, while in the stable of trainer Linda Toscano, she had a win in each the NYSS and Kindergarten Classic Series and finished third in the James Doherty Memorial. She also picked up checks in the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes. "Ken wanted to drop her down (to the Excelsior Series) and I fully agreed," Ducharme said. "She was just chasing along in the sire stakes and was losing interest. She needed that (change). It seems to have really pumped her attitude up. "This is going to be a pretty good jump for her, but Ken was willing to take the chance and see how she does back in the company we thought she would be able to go with." The Zweig's main event for fillies includes Evident Beauty, whose four wins this year include a division of the Delvin Miller Memorial and the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, as well as Reynolds Memorial division winner Starita and Continentalvictory division winner The Ice Dutchess. Jacobs purchased Hanna Dreamgirl, then named Empress Crown, for $125,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale. The filly is by Chapter Seven is out of Shipps Empress. For her career, Hanna Dreamgirl has won seven of 24 races, hit the board a total of 15 times, and earned $176,972. "We should get a better read on whether she can go forward the rest of the year after Saturday," Ducharme said. "Against the competition she's been in, it's hard to tell where she is, but right now she seems mentally more prepared than she was even a month ago. "I really believe a lot of it with these horses is mental. They get chasing every week and they get discouraged. She seems better around the barn and on the track. She seems happier." Hanna Dreamgirl is eligible to several stakes in the coming months, including the Hudson Filly Trot, Bluegrass, Kentucky Filly Futurity, and Breeders Crown. "She is a good solid gaited filly and you can leave with her or you can race her from behind," said Ducharme, who trained Hanna Dreamgirl in Florida during the winter. "The biggest thing is can she make this next step up to go with the top fillies. If we can get her turned around, there is plenty of money left in the fall for her. That was our goal." Racing begins at 6:10 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Vernon Downs. The card also includes the $330,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, featuring Hambletonian runner-up Greenshoe and his stablemate Green Manalishi S. Beal Memorial winner Marseille also is part of the nine-horse field. For complete Saturday entries for Vernon Downs, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

New Zealand-bred trotter Speeding Spur arrived in trainer Linda Toscano's barn this summer and quickly made a favorable impression. He hopes to leave a winning one, as well. Speeding Spur, who was last season's Trotter of the Year in New Zealand, has raced twice in the U.S. and trotted 1:51.1 both times. The 8-year-old stallion was fourth behind Manchego, Marion Marauder, and Lindy The Great in his debut and this past weekend finished sixth in the Vincennes on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands. On Sunday, Speeding Spur competes in the $148,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Tioga Downs, where he is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. Vincennes winner Mission Accepted is the 2-1 favorite. For his career, Speeding Spur has won 27 of 58 races and hit the board a total of 48 times on his way to $1.09 million in New Zealand dollars ($804,240 U.S. equivalent). He is owned by Woodlands Stud NZ Inc. and will race in North America the remainder of the season before returning home for stud duty. Speeding Spur, a son of Pegasus Spur out of the Chiola Hanover mare Della's Speed, is eligible to a number of stakes, including the Maple Leaf, Caesars Trotting Classic, Dayton Derby, and Allerage. "He's a classy old horse," Toscano said. "It's not easy to make a million dollars in New Zealand and he was able to do that. You can't ask for a nicer horse to be around. He's a beautiful horse, a handsome horse. He's a lovely horse to be around, you can tell he was cared for very well, like the champion he was down there. "They would like to stand him at stud because he's had such a nice career over there, but without North American credentials it's difficult because we ship semen over there. They wanted to send him over and see what he could do. He's eligible to everything from here on in. We'll see if he can step his game up and compete with them. If we can get him a (win) record and make a little bit of money with him, I know the owners will be real happy." Speeding Spur was a nine-time Group 1 winner Down Under. He was trained by John and Josh Dickie, with Josh handling the driving in all but one of his victories. He finished his home career in May with a second-place finish in the Rowe Cup, a race he won in 2018. Last week in the Vincennes, Speeding Spur and driver Tim Tetrick started from post eight in a 12-horse field and raced on the outside for the majority of the mile. Despite the trip, he was beaten only 3-3/4 lengths and only two horses trotted a faster final quarter-mile. "He was unlucky last week, just a bad post," Toscano said. "Four wide, three wide, and four wide around the last turn at The Meadowlands on Hambo Day is not exactly the most advantageous place, but Timmy had no choice. It's what he had to do." This weekend, Speeding Spur will start from post six in a six-horse field with Brian Sears in the sulky. The field also includes Pinkman, Run Director, The Veteran, and Fiftydallarbill. "His owners are thrilled with what he's done," Toscano said. "First and foremost, they want us to take care of the horse. The ultimate goal would be to see if he's good enough to compete in the International Trot (at Yonkers) at the end of the year. "I'm really impressed with his demeanor. He's made it very easy to make the transition (from New Zealand to the U.S). He looks like a million dollars. The people down there absolutely adored him. He's been a pleasure." Sunday's card at Tioga Downs also includes the $132,000 Joie De Vie Stakes for older female trotters. Atlanta is the 6-5 morning-line favorite, followed by Manchego at 3-1. Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) and the Crawford Farms Open Trot and Joie De Vie are races eight and nine, respectively. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Within the span of less than a month, Lather Up equaled the fastest mile in harness racing history and became the first pacer to break the two-minute barrier at the distance of a mile and an eighth. So, as driver Montrell Teague prepares for the 4-year-old stallion's appearance in Friday's (Aug. 9) $330,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Harrah's Hoosier Park, what does he envision for an encore? "I don't know," Teague said. "Hopefully just win. That's the main objective." Lather Up won last week's Sam McKee Memorial in 1:59.2 at the extended distance of 1-1/8 miles. He led from start to finish, reaching the mile point in 1:46.3 before going the extra eighth in :12.4. On July 6, Lather Up won the Graduate Series championship, at the traditional mile distance, in 1:46. The time equaled Always B Miki's mark for the fastest clocking in history and set the record for a 4-year-old pacer. It is difficult to determine which of the two efforts was more impressive. "I'm thinking the one last weekend just because he went (1):46.3 and still had plenty in the tank," Teague said. "For him to do it so easily, it's just unreal." How fast could Lather Up go? "I don't really want to find out," Teague said. "He's been so impressive so far, as long as he's winning, and doing it right in hand, I'm not sure how fast he could actually be." Lather Up is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the Dan Patch Stakes. The stallion, bred by owners Barbara and Gary Iles, has won seven of 10 races this year and $518,448. For his career, the son of I'm Gorgeous out of Pocket Comb has won 22 of 35 starts and $1.48 million. He will start Friday from post four with Teague at the lines for trainer Clyde Francis, who conditions the horse for the George Teague Jr. training stable. McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, is the 5-2 second choice. He will leave from post two with Brian Sears driving for trainer Casie Coleman. The nine-horse field also includes Always A Prince (6-1) and Jimmy Freight (8-1). "It's like any other race, you don't know what's going to happen," Montrell Teague said. "There is a lot of speed everywhere; inside, outside, right next to me. At least I'm in a good starting spot where I can see what's going on before I have to make a decision." Lather Up, despite occasional steering issues, won last year's North America Cup and Ohio Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old male pacers and has so far made a successful transition this season to the open ranks, with a victory in the William R. Haughton Memorial sandwiched between his two world-record efforts. "He's shown he can go with the best," Teague said. "Even if they head him, he just hits another gear once he gets around that last turn. Fingers crossed, he just keeps on improving. So far, so good. "He's going against older horses and definitely making his point." Teague, of course, is no stranger to prolific performers. He drove 2015 Horse of the Year Award winner Wiggle It Jiggleit, who has earned nearly $4 million lifetime. Wiggle It Jiggleit, now 7, last raced in 2016 but Teague indicated last week the gelding is still working toward a comeback. "You would think Wiggle It Jiggleit was one in a million, but then we get Lather Up," Teague said. "Hopefully they don't stop coming." Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday at Harrah's Hoosier Park. The Dan Patch Stakes is race 11 on the card. Following is the field. Post-Horse-Trainer-Driver-M/L 1-Miso Fast-Virgil Morgan Jr.-Ricky Macomber Jr.-20/1 2-McWicked-Casie Coleman-Brian Sears-5/2 3-New Talent-Jeff Cullipher-John DeLong-20/1 4-Lather Up- Clyde Francis-Montrell Teague-6/5 5-Filibuster Hanover-Ron Burke-Yannick Gingras-10/1 6-Jimmy Freight-Andrew Harris-Scott Zeron-8/1 7-Endeavor-Jeff Cullipher-Sam Widger-20/1 8-Rockin Ron-Ron Burke-Matt Kakaley-12/1 9-Always A Prince-Tyler George-Trace Tetrick-6/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Dave Ratchford was 16 when he bought his first horse. "And I've never been without a horse since then," the 75-year-old Nova Scotia resident said. Good thing. Otherwise he would have missed the opportunity to own a horse like Century Farroh. Century Farroh has won eight of nine races this year and competes in Saturday's (Aug. 10) $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial Invitational for 3-year-old pacers at Northfield Park. The colt goes to the Milstein off a 1:49.4 win in an Ontario Sire Stakes Gold event, beating multiple-stakes-winner Bronx Seelster by a neck and Meadowlands Pace champ Best In Show by a half-length at Woodbine Mohawk Park. At 7-2 on the morning line, Century Farroh is the second choice behind 5-2 favorite Bettor's Wish. "He doesn't seem to want to get beat," Ratchford said about Century Farroh, who has a four-race win streak. "I like some of the grit he has. Most of his trips have been hard-nosed. He's on the front end, he's doing the road work, and he just seems to keep on going." Ratchford, who owned an insurance agency before retiring about 10 years ago, has trained and driven horses for much of his life and still works with a small stable. He purchased Century Farroh for $17,000 at the 2017 London Selected Yearling Sale in Ontario. The colt is a son of Mach Three out of the stakes-winning mare Beachy Girl. Century Farroh, who has earned $293,128, is the richest of Beachy Girl's four foals to reach six figures in earnings. All seven of the mare's foals have won at least one race. "The pedigree is fairly good for the budget I like to use; I like between $15,000 and $30,000," said Ratchford, whose other recent successes included $10,000-yearling purchase Ms Mac N Cheese; the winner of more than $600,000 on the Ontario circuit. "I like the challenge of one on the lower end of it. He was one of maybe 30 colts or fillies I had marked in the catalogue to look at. He came by and he fit the bill. I was in the right place at the right time, I guess." Century Farroh was turned over to trainer Dr. Ian Moore after Ratchford prepped and qualified the colt in Nova Scotia. He competed primarily on Ontario's Grassroots Series circuit in 2018 and finished his season with four wins in 10 starts. All four victories came in a row to close his campaign, including a triumph in the Grassroots final. "He was a nice colt right from the time we broke him," Ratchford said. "I wasn't sure if he would be this kind of a horse, we're not used to that, but he's never done anything wrong. He's a nice gaited colt. He's good mannered. Everything is good about him." Ratchford staked Century Farroh lightly this year, focusing on races in Ontario. In addition to the Ontario Sire Stakes, he made the colt eligible to the North America Cup and Simcoe Stakes. Century Farroh's only loss this year was a seventh-place finish in his Cup elimination, when he started from post nine and missed a spot in the final by a half-length despite a :26 last quarter-mile. "It was nobody's fault; it was just the way the race went," Ratchford said. "Nothing went his way. It just wasn't in the cards. "There is some thought we might supplement him somewhere later on," he added. "We're not really sure. We'll just see how it goes. I don't have any regrets at this point. I'm very happy with what's taken place, and hopefully what is going to take place." Century Farroh will start the Milstein from post two in a field of eight. The group includes Art Rooney Pace winner Bettor's Wish (who also has been second in the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, and Cane Pace), Adios champion Southwind Ozzi, multiple-stakes-winner Workin Ona Mystery, and New York Sire Stakes standout American Mercury. "I'm considered a pretty lucky guy, I suppose, as far as acquisitions are concerned," Ratchford said. "We're trying to make it happen. I don't expect this is going to happen again in a lifetime, so we're riding it while it's here. It's just starting to sink in what this horse is." Racing begins at 6 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Northfield Park. The Milstein Memorial is race 10 on the card. Following is the field. Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-M/L 1-Captain Victorious-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-8/1 2-Century Farroh-David Miller-Dr. Ian Moore-7/2 3-Bettor's Wish-Dexter Dunn-Chris Ryder-5/2 4-Yankee Boots-Dan Noble-Steve Carter-15/1 5-Workin Ona Mystery-Tim Tetrick-Brian Brown-4/1 6-Rockie Got Framed-Ricky Macomber Jr.-Jamie Macomber-20/1 7-American Mercury-Tyler Buter-Chris Oakes-12/1 8-Southwind Ozzi-Brian Sears-Bill Mac Kenzie-9/2 The race is named in honor of Carl Milstein, who owned Northfield Park from 1984 until his death in 1999. The Milstein family operated Northfield Park until July 2018 when MGM Growth Properties purchased the racetrack from Milstein Entertainment, LLC. In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland builder and real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, that purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980s. The track lost significant amounts of money during that period before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984 he successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and, beginning in January 1985, conducted permanent race meetings at Northfield of between 212 and 238 days every year. Milstein was the driving force behind a resurgence of the beleaguered track, which ascended to among harness racing's top tracks in attendance and handle. He was an innovator in promotions and advertising and successfully led the track into the era of simulcast racing. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Hightstown, NJ — Hambletonian Day had an impact on the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, as four winners from the afternoon vaulted into the harness racing top 10. Leading the group, at No. 6, was Hambletonian champion Forbidden Trade. He was joined by Hambletonian Oaks winner When Dovescry (8th), Peter Haughton Memorial winner Real Cool Sam (9th) and James Doherty Memorial winner Hypnotic AM (10th). Shartin N, who became the fastest female pacer in history with her 1:46.4 win in the Lady Liberty, remained in the No. 1 position. Lather Up, who became the first pacer to break the 2:00 barrier at the distance of 1-1/8 miles by winning the Sam McKee Memorial in 1:59.2, moved from fourth to second. Atlanta, who was idle, dropped from second to third while Captain Crunch, who captured the Cane Pace, improved from sixth to fourth. Hambletonian runner-up Greenshoe completed the top five. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, which runs weekly through November, does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 11 – 8/6/2019 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Shartin N (32) 6pm 13-12-0-0 $742,927 347 1 2 Lather Up (3) 4ph 10-7-0-1 $518,448 312 4 3 Atlanta 4tm 7-6-1-0 $438,330 236 2 4 Captain Crunch 3pc 7-5-0-0 $651,402 234 6 5 Greenshoe 3tc 7-5-2-0 $586,500 171 3 6 Forbidden Trade 3tc 8-5-2-1 $631,356 135 — 7 Bettor’s Wish 3pc 8-5-3-0 $624,544 107 5 8 When Dovescry 3tf 5-2-2-1 $285,540 67 — 9 Real Cool Sam 2tg 5-5-0-0 $216,998 48 — 10 Hypnotic AM 2tf 4-4-0-0 $196,932 43 — ALSO: Manchego 39; Gimpanzee 38; Millies Possesion 27; Southwind Ozzi 26; Tall Drink Hanover 18; Crystal Fashion 17; Best In Show 10; Guardian Angel As, Hannelore Hanover 7; McWicked, This Is The Plan 5; Century Farroh, Green Manalishi S, JK First Lady, Western Fame 4; Stonebridge Soul 3; Caviart Ally, Workin Ona Mystery 2; Sister Sledge, Tall Dark Stranger, Tequila Monday 1. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Prior to Saturday (Aug. 3) afternoon, Luc Blais' fondest memories of a Hambletonian were from a race 24 years earlier, when Tagliabue won America's Trotting Classic at The Meadowlands. By Saturday evening, the events of the prior 24 hours would change that. Blais, who was a groom visiting the Meadowlands when Tagliabue captured the 1995 Hambletonian, watched Saturday at the Big M as his colt Forbidden Trade won the $1 million Hambletonian final, upsetting 1-5 favorite Greenshoe by a neck. Forbidden Trade, trained by Blais and driven by 28-year-old Bob McClure, was the 2018 O'Brien Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter and became the first Canadian champ to win the Hambletonian in the award's 30-year history. "It's amazing," Blais said. "I used to watch the race before, when I was not in it, and it was always exciting. And now, just to be in the race, it is exciting. To win, it's, I don't even know how to say it. It's a good, good, good feeling." Blais had started a horse in the Hambletonian once previously, sending Jake to the race in 2017. Jake finished sixth in his elimination and did not advance to the final. This time, Forbidden Trade was a strong-finishing third in his elimination before returning 90 minutes later to win the final. "I had confidence; I had a good feeling," said Blais, who conditions the son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory for Serge Godin's Detirmination Stable. "But we needed to be in the final first." The 57-year-old Blais is a native of western Quebec, not far from Ottawa. He got hooked on racing at an early age, watching his father, a salesman, race his own horses on the Quebec fair circuit. He worked for several stables, including Canadian Hall of Famer Yves Filion's Bayama Farms, before going on his own. "I always liked horses," Blais said. "My father had horses. He bought a classy horse with big legs. We needed to tub him and put time on him. You need to put time on the horse. A classy horse, if you put time on the horse, they're going to give back to you. That's my thinking." Blais' pick of Tagliabue's win in the Hambletonian as a favorite was due in part to the horse being unraced at 2 and brought to peak for the race. "I like that kind of story," he said. Blais said he planned to celebrate the Hambletonian win with his brother and friends before returning to work on Sunday. "Maybe we'll drink a few beers and just relax," Blais said. "After (Saturday) you have to go back to work. I think that's the only way you can be there, it's the work. You need to be there and work. And you need to have the passion, both work and passion." Blais and McClure have forged a successful relationship in the two years since McClure left Canada's 'B' tracks for the main stage of Woodbine-Mohawk. McClure's Hambletonian victory marked the third time in four years that a driver younger than 30 captured the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters. Scott Zeron won in 2016 with Marion Marauder at age 27 and two years later with Atlanta. "We were looking for a regular driver for the barn and he had just come from the 'B' tracks, where he was very good," Blais said. "He's a young guy, but he is a very mature guy. Very professional. He's got the talent to be a good driver. It's been a good partnership. To me, to have success, you need to work together." McClure, an Ontario native, finished second in purses in Canada in 2018 and third in wins. He led Canada in wins in 2017 and 2016 and was third in 2015. He was making his Hambletonian debut with Forbidden Trade. "It hasn't sunk in yet, maybe in a few days it will," McClure said Saturday about the win. "It's certainly been career changing in the last four years. I have a lot of people to thank for that, I've had a lot of support behind me. The icing on the cake was the Determination Stable, I owe them a lot. I couldn't have done it without the people who supported me along the way." McClure admitted to some anxiety prior to the Hambletonian but was at ease when he hit the track with Forbidden Trade. "It probably didn't show on the outside in the paddock, but there were nerves," McClure said. "But whenever I hit the track, they all go away. And he's such a quiet horse, a push-button horse to drive, which makes it a lot easier on me being kind of green to this. "I would say he definitely led me. He did a very good job for me." McClure, who missed a month of action in the spring because of a broken pelvis, gave credit to Blais for having Forbidden Trade in top form for the Hambletonian. The colt entered the Hambletonian off three consecutive wins, including a prep against older foes on July 22 at Woodbine-Mohawk Park. "I do think he was underrated," McClure said about Forbidden Trade, who has won 12 of 19 career races and finished off the board only once in his past 14 races. "I think it's pretty great that the Meadowlands Pace winner (Best In Show) and the Hambo winner are Ontario-sired horses. It's really great for Ontario and Ontario racing. I think we do fly under the radar somewhat, but I think this shows we are competitive on the world stage. "Maybe we flew under the radar. I don't think we'll get away with that anymore." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

East Rutherford, NJ -- Real Cool Sam iced the field in Saturday's (Aug. 3) $324,550 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, beating Rome Pays Off by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:53.1 at The Meadowlands for his fifth victory in as many starts. Expectations was third.   Real Cool Sam's time was a track record and equaled the world record for a 2-year-old gelded trotter.   Real Cool Sam, the 1-2 favorite, took his time getting to the front in the Haughton. Rome Pays Off was the early leader, but saw Synergy take the top spot prior to the half. Real Cool Sam and driver David Miller were fifth at the half and followed the first-over cover of Expectations around the final turn before drawing off in the stretch.   Fashion Farms bred and owns Real Cool Sam, a son of Muscle Hill out of Cooler Schooner, trained by Jim Campbell. He has earned $216,998 this season. The horse was named in honor of late Meadowlands Racetrack announcer and broadcaster Sam McKee by Fashion Farms' owner Jules Siegel, who credited McKee with keeping him cool during nervous moments prior to his horses racing.   "He was a real good friend of mine," Siegel said. "He used to come down to the apron and watch me walking around as nervous as I was.   "I really appreciated what Sam did. I realize he did things for a lot of people, but to me it was a very personal thing. I know other people have done the same thing (naming horses in McKee's honor), but for me it was something special."   In the $310,700 James Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old female trotters, Hypnotic AM remained undefeated with a two-length win over Sherry Lyns Lady in 1:53. Hello Tomorrow finished third.   Hypnotic AM, bred and owned by Anders Strom's Courant Inc., is 4-for-4. She is trained by Marcus Melander and was driven to victory by Brian Sears.   The 2-5 favorite Hypnotic AM was fourth through the first half of the race, which saw Hello Tomorrow led to the first quarter before yielding to Crucial at the midpoint. Sears moved with Hypnotic AM and was alongside Crucial at three-quarters before kicking home to victory.   "It's a fantastic group of fillies this year, and for her to win first-over like that in 1:53 is fantastic," Strom said.   Hypnotic AM, by Chapter Seven out of Daydream AM S, has earned $196,932.   by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Guardian Angel As will try to pick up another trophy for the mantel Saturday (Aug. 3) when he faces nine foes in the $280,000 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters at The Meadowlands. The 5-year-old stallion has won five of seven races this year, including the Cleveland Trotting Classic with a world-record performance and, most recently, the Spirit of Massachusetts with a track-record effort. The Cashman is part of a stakes filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the stars that will be in action: Shartin N in the Lady Liberty for older female pacers, Lather Up and McWicked in the Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers, Bettor's Wish and Captain Crunch in the Cane Pace for 3-year-old pacers, and Hannelore Hanover in the Dr. John R. Steele Memorial for older female trotters. Racing begins at noon. The highlight of the afternoon is the $1 million Hambletonian final for 3-year-old trotters, which will be presented live on CBS Sports Network during a 90-minute show beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT). The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the Cashman will be part of the broadcast. For Saturday's complete TrackMaster past performances, click here. Guardian Angel As has won 21 of 47 lifetime races and earned $829,680 for breeder-owner ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. He is trained by Anette Lorentzon. His 1:52 victory in the Cleveland Classic was the fastest trotting mile ever at Northfield Park and the fastest race mile ever by a male trotter on any half-mile track. He won the Spirit of Massachusetts in a track-record 1:51.3 for an older male trotter at Plainridge Park this past Sunday, missing the track's all-time record by one-fifth of a second. His triumphs this season also include the Maxie Lee Memorial. "The season has started out really well," Lorentzon said. "The best race, the most impressive one, was at Northfield, no question about it. He's been racing really well. He's been staying sound and healthy, so that's what I'm happy with. So far, it's been working out pretty good." Guardian Angel As, with Tim Tetrick in the sulky, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the Cashman. Marion Marauder, who won last year's Cashman, is the 7-2 second choice followed by Cutler Memorial winner Cruzado Dela Noche at 9-2. The field also includes Hambletonian Maturity winner Crystal Fashion, 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter Six Pack, and Eurobond, who has won three consecutive conditioned races including a 1:50.1 score last week. "We didn't really race (Guardian Angel As) that much last year," Lorentzon said. "We said we were going to take it easy and hopefully he could step up this year. I know how things can turn, it can be good one day and totally different the next. But so far, so good. Hopefully we can keep it that way." Following is a brief overview of the remaining stakes races on the Hambletonian Day card, in race order, excluding the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks. Race 4 - $310,700 James Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old female trotters Hypnotic AM, undefeated in three races for trainer Marcus Melander and driver Brian Sears, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Crucial, who is unbeaten in two starts for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras, is 7-2 while Solsbury Hill, who joined Hypnotic AM and Crucial as an elimination winner last week, is 9-2 for trainer Andrew Harris and driver Scott Zeron. Race 5 - $324,550 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters Real Cool Sam is unbeaten in four career races and is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for trainer Jim Campbell and driver David Miller. Synergy, undefeated in two starts for trainer Per Engblom and driver Yannick Gingras is the 5-2 second choice. Race 6 - $100,362 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old female pacers Stonebridge Soul brings a three-race win streak, including the Mistletoe Shalee and a division of the Adioo Volo, to the race. The Chris Ryder trainee, driven by Tim Tetrick, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Tall Drink Hanover, who also won a division of the Adioo Volo, is 5-2 for trainer Tony Alagna and driver Andy McCarthy. Warrawee Ubeaut, no worse than third in any of her eight races this season, with four wins, is 9-2 for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. Fan Hanover winner Treacherous Reign is 8-1. Race 7 - $230,200 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers Lather Up, who equaled the all-time fastest mile in harness racing history with his 1:46 win in the Graduate Series championship on July 6 at The Meadowlands, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for trainer Clyde Francis and driver Montrell Teague. Lather Up followed his Graduate victory with a triumph in the William R. Haughton Memorial at 1-1/8 miles, the same distance as the McKee. It is the only added-distance race on the card. McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, is the 7-2 second choice with Brian Sears driving for Casie Coleman. Defending race champ Western Joe will start from post 10 and is 15-1 with Scott Zeron in the sulky for Chris Choate. Race 13 - $186,000 Dr. John R. Steele Memorial for older female trotters Hannelore Hanover, the 2017 Horse of the Year and winner of the 2016 Steele Memorial (then called the Fresh Yankee), is the 3-1 morning-line choice and enters the race off wins in legs of the Miss Versatility and Great Northeast Open Series. Yannick Gingras will drive for Ron Burke. Manchego, coming off a 1:50.1 score in a conditioned race, is 7-2 for driver Dexter Dunn and trainer Nancy Johansson while Swedish import Darling Mearas S is 4-1 for driver Andy Miller and trainer Ake Svanstedt. Emoticon Hanover, a 2018 O'Brien Award winner in Canada, is 5-1. Race 14 - $183,500 Lady Liberty for older female pacers Shartin N, the sport's No. 1-ranked horse and winner of last year's Lady Liberty, is the 6-5 morning-line favorite. The 6-year-old mare has won 11 of 12 races this season for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Jim King Jr., bringing a 10-race win streak to the event. Caviart Ally, who has finished second to Shartin N in three races, is the 5-1 second choice for driver Andy McCarthy and trainer Brett Pelling. Race 15 - $285,362 Cane Pace for 3-year-old pacers Bettor's Wish, who has five wins and two seconds in seven starts this season for driver Dexter Dunn and trainer Chris Ryder is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. His seconds came in the North America Cup, behind Captain Crunch, and Meadowlands Pace, behind Best In Show. Captain Crunch, with Scott Zeron in the sulky for Nancy Johansson, is the 2-1 second choice. He was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. The Cane Pace is the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. The second is the Messenger (Aug. 31) and third is the Little Brown Jug (Sept. 19). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Trainer Nancy Johansson is fond of her Hambletonian harness racing contender Don't Let'em, even if the colt is not always the best student. "He would be the kid in the classroom that's always in the corner, the class clown," Johansson said with a laugh. "But I've liked him since the first time he ever set foot on the farm. You know why? He's always so happy. "I think that's why he gets himself in trouble," she added, laughing again. Don't Let'em is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's second of two $70,000 Hambletonian Stakes eliminations at The Meadowlands. Greenshoe, this year's fastest 3-year-old trotter with a mark of 1:50.1, is the 4-5 choice. The top-five finishers in each elimination return for the $1 million final later in the day. The Hambletonian and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks will be aired live as part of a 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT). The Hambletonian Day card starts at noon. Don't Let'em is in his first year with Johansson's training stable after spending his 2-year-old campaign with her father, now-retired Jimmy Takter. Last year, Don't Let'em dazzled on Hambletonian Day, winning the Peter Haughton Memorial in a stakes-record 1:51.4. He ended the season with four wins and a second (by a nose) in 10 starts. He went off stride in all five of his off-the-board finishes. This year, Don't Let'em has gone off stride once in four races. He has two wins and a second (again by a nose) and heads to the Hambletonian off a career-best 1:50.2 victory in the Reynolds Memorial last week at The Meadowlands. "He's fast," Johansson said. "I don't know if he's as fast as Greenshoe, but we'll see. If he can just behave, he can be right there. And he's strong too. He was parked the entire mile in the Reynolds; he never saw the rail until the stretch. So, he's got all the tools. It's just all the puzzle pieces need to be put together in the right spot Saturday." Johansson, who was the caretaker of 2010 Hambletonian winner Muscle Massive, started her own stable in 2013. She was harness racing's Rising Star Award winner in 2014, when she trained Horse of the Year JK She'salady. She trained two Dan Patch Award recipients in 2018 and both will be in action on Hambletonian Day: Captain Crunch in the Cane Pace for 3-year-old pacers and 4-year-old Kissin In The Sand in the Lady Liberty for female pacers. Her best finish in the Hambletonian came in 2014, when Resolve was fifth. Don't Let'em, a son of Muscle Hill-Passageway, is owned by breeder Brittany Farms, Christina Takter, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. All are past winners of the Hambletonian. The most recent horse to win the Peter Haughton Memorial at age 2 and come back the following year to win the Hambletonian was Muscle Hill. Johansson will go into the Hambletonian with an outlook to mirror her colt's sunny disposition. "I don't really have any expectations because I can just be happy then," Johansson said. Per Engblom has two in the Hambletonian Per Engblom is making his Hambletonian debut with his own stable, but is no stranger to the race after spending the past six years as the top assistant to now-retired Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter. Engblom was part of two Hambletonian victories during that time frame, with Trixton in 2014 and Pinkman in 2015. The 39-year-old Engblom will send two horses into the Hambletonian, 15-1 Osterc in the first elimination and 10-1 Super Schissel in the second. Osterc was the 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion and Super Schissel won the 2018 Matron Stakes. Both were trained by Takter last season. "So far, we feel good," Engblom said. "I try to do what we always did here, taking it easy and don't step too much out of the line. We try to follow the routine and do what we always do. Hopefully the program we put together for the horses will have them peak at the right time. "I've been around enough to know we're not going in as favorites. I know we're going in to try to make the best we can." Osterc, a son of Cantab Hall-Oh Oh Hereshecomes, has won three of eight races this year including the Dexter Cup for breeders/owners Goran Falk and Christina Takter. He went off stride in two of his past three races, but Engblom attributed the miscues to shoeing. The colt enters the Hambletonian off a fourth-place finish in a division of the Tompkins-Geers on July 20. "We went back to the old shoes and away we went," Engblom said. "He's a little tight gaited and if his timing is not right it makes a big difference for him. I think we've got him back on track. He's just a great racehorse to be around. He always tries his heart out. "The (Tompkins-Geers) turned into a sprint. He came home in :27 and that's about as fast as he can come home, but he can take a lot of air. If the race sets up with different fractions, he's going to benefit from that." Super Schissel, who has a conditioned win among six starts this season, heads to the Hambletonian off a third-place finish in last week's Reynolds Memorial, when he started from post 12 in a 12-horse field and was timed in 1:51.4. Engblom plans to race the colt, a son of Uncle Peter-Bavarde owned by Al Libfeld and Perry Soderberg, barefoot on Saturday. "We saved that all year, now it's time," Engblom said. "That's going to clean him up (gait-wise) a little bit. If we take his shoes off, he can trot a little bit faster. He can leave the gate a little bit faster and be a little more in the game. He trotted (1):51.4 with a little road trouble so if we can make him five or six lengths better, he can pick up a check." Jim Campbell on Cantab Fashion Cantab Fashion got a late start to his 2019 campaign, making his seasonal debut on July 20 with a third-place finish in a division of the Tompkins-Geers at The Meadowlands. He returned to action last week and was fourth in the 12-horse Reynolds Memorial. "He unfortunately got stuck behind a 100-1 shot, but I thought he raced really good," trainer Jim Campbell said about Cantab Fashion's most recent effort. "He showed some good trot getting out of there and held his own finishing after getting backed up a little bit." No 2-year-old trotter was faster than Cantab Fashion last season. Cantab Fashion put together a five-race win streak, including two stakes victories at Lexington's Red Mile, during his seven-start campaign and tied for the season's fastest time with a 1:51.4 mile. Campbell won the 1995 Hambletonian with Tagliabue and the 2009 Hambletonian Oaks with Broadway Schooner. Both trotters were owned by the wife-and-husband team of Arlene and Jules Siegel. Jules Siegel was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2018. Siegel's Fashion Farms is the breeder and owner of Cantab Fashion, a son of Cantab Hall-Defiant Donato. "I was happy (with the first race) and I think he was better and stronger last week," Campbell said. "It's not the ideal situation, but it is what it is. I think he's got enough into him. It's going to be an interesting day. There are a lot of good trotters out there. I guess it's all going to depend how everything sets up." In addition to Cantab Fashion in the Hambletonian, Campbell will send Millies Possesion (also undefeated, with eight wins) to the Hambletonian Oaks, Real Cool Sam into the Peter Haughton Memorial, and Crystal Fashion (last year's fourth-place finisher in the Hambletonian) into the John Cashman Memorial. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

When owner Jules Siegel gets ready to watch his horses race at The Meadowlands, he often can be found pacing the track's apron, isolated from friends and fans, walking off his nerves. One day as Siegel went through this routine, a man approached him and asked what he was doing. "I said I'm pacing, hoping that the horse is going to win today," Siegel recalled. "He stayed with me and every time after that, if I had a horse racing and he saw me down on the apron pacing, he came down and gave me some confidence." The man was Sam McKee, the beloved Meadowlands announcer, broadcaster and Communicators Hall of Fame member, who passed away in 2017. That same year, Siegel's world-record-setting mare Cooler Schooner gave birth to a trotting colt by Muscle Hill. Siegel thought highly of the horse and decided to name him in honor of McKee. Real Cool Sam. "I really appreciated what Sam did," said Siegel, the owner of Fashion Farms. "I realize he did things for a lot of people, but to me it was a very personal thing. I know other people have done the same thing (naming horses in McKee's honor) but for me it was something special." Siegel could remember his horses losing only once when McKee kept him company. Real Cool Sam is keeping the winning ways going. The trotter, trained by Jim Campbell, is 4-for-4 heading into Saturday's (Aug. 3) $324,550 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colts and geldings at The Meadowlands. Real Cool Sam won his Haughton elimination last week in 1:54.1, the fastest time of the season for a freshman male trotter. He starts Saturday from post four with David Miller in the sulky and is the 2-1 morning line favorite. "Obviously, he's off to a real good start," Campbell said. "He's got a lot of talent. He's very versatile, he can race any way you want him to race. So far, he's been a true professional and hasn't done anything wrong. Pretty much right from the word go, he showed he was very athletic, very light on his feet." Synergy, trained by Per Engblom, is the 5-2 second choice in the Haughton. He has won both his starts this season, including a 1:54.4 score in his Haughton elimination. Stay Close, trained by Joe Holloway, is 5-1 after finishing second to Synergy a week ago. Real Cool Sam has won his four starts by a total of nearly 14 lengths. His start from post four in the Haughton final will be his first from a post inside of six. "He's done everything we've asked of him, and more," Campbell said. "It's going to be a tough race when you put those good colts all in together. I'm not a forecaster. We just take one race at a time with him." Siegel, who was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2018, will have ample reason to stroll the apron at The Meadowlands on Saturday. In addition to Real Cool Sam in the Haughton, he will send Cantab Fashion to the Hambletonian, Millies Possesion (also undefeated, with eight wins) to the Hambletonian Oaks, and Crystal Fashion to the John Cashman Memorial. "It's been a fun ride," Siegel said. The Hambletonian Day card begins at noon. The Hambletonian, the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters, and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, restricted to 3-year-old female trotters, will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). For the day's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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