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After being slowed for three months by a harness racing training accident earlier this year, Kevin McDermott is looking forward to rejuvenation this spring and summer. McDermott, who is stabled at Magical Acres in central New Jersey, is among the state's horsemen buoyed by Gov. Phil Murphy's recent approval of legislation directing a total of $100 million to horseracing and breeding during a five-year span. The 51-year-old McDermott has been part of the harness racing scene in New Jersey since he was a teenager. Since opening his own stable three decades ago, he has won 1,569 races and $24.5 million in purses. Notable horses trained by McDermott include stakes-winners Hypnotic Blue Chip, Lonewolf Currier, Mac Action, Major Look, and Yes Its True as well as millionaires Blueridge Western and Noble Falcon. McDermott has eight horses at Magical Acres, including Melanie’s Tedy, who was a winner in divisions of the Indiana Sire Stakes and Kindergarten Classic Series. He was sired by Hypnotic Blue Chip. In 2012, McDermott and his brother John, who also is a trainer, were honored by the New Jersey chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association with its Stanley Dancer Award. The award recognizes individuals whose efforts on behalf of racing and cooperation with the media are in keeping with the example set by the late Hall of Fame driver and trainer Stanley Dancer. McDermott recently took time to speak with the U.S. Trotting Association's Ken Weingartner about his past, present, and future in harness racing. KW: Let's start at the beginning. How did you get started in harness racing? KM: I was pen pals with Jim Doherty, Herve Filion, a bunch of guys in the sport, and got my first job working with Jack Parker Jr. I was 16 years old. I had crawled under the back gate at the Meadowlands. I've been doing it ever since. KW: Do you think younger people know what a pen pal is? KM: (Laughs). That's true. I used to go to races with my dad and I got to like it so I started writing letters and people would answer me back. That's how I got into it. I started collecting whips too. KW: Were you surprised people were so responsive? KM: Carol Hodes, who worked at the Meadowlands (as director of media relations) at the time, helped me out a lot. Whenever I would write to her as a kid she would always get them to respond to me, and it was them responding. So I owe Carol a lot. KW: What were your hopes when you started out writing to these people? KM: In high school I was an all-state track runner and I had scholarships to go to a lot of schools, but all I wanted to do was work with horses. I had no family members in the business, but I always loved the horses. It's all I ever wanted to do. KW: What did you run in high school? KM: I was a half-miler. Pure natural talent was all I had. It wasn't work ethic. (Laughs). KW: So what was it like when you first started with the horses? KM: The first summer I worked with Jimmy Doherty, just helping out. Then Jack Parker Jr. kind of took me under his wing and really treated me good. I always joke with Jack that if I ever hit the Mega Millions he's the first person I'm taking care of. He's a great person. KW: Did you go off on your own after that? KM: I worked for Linda Toscano and Nick Sodano for a couple years each and they were both great. Then went on my own and claimed a $7,000 claimer named It Will Be Me at Freehold and she won her first three or four starts. I kind of got lucky that I was doing good. D'Elegance Stables gave me the opportunity to train one or two horses and it just led to another one and another one. Before you knew it, I had 30 horses. KW: What do you enjoy most about your job? KM: I just love the horses. I love working around the horses. There's just something about it. You develop such a bond with them. They're just great animals. KW: How many horses do you have right now? KM: I only have eight. It's the fewest I've had in 30 years. Earlier this year I got into an accident; I broke five ribs, got knocked unconscious, bruised my spine, bruised my kidneys. I was down basically for three months. I kept working through it, but I'm just starting to get healthy now and I'm going to try to expand my stable again. KW: Of the ones you have now, who are a few that you like? KM: Melanie's Tedy. He's in the Reynolds and the Rooney at Yonkers and then he'll go on to the Indiana Sire Stakes. He raced his first start (Sunday against older horses at Harrah's Philadelphia) and came the back half in :55. I was very happy with him. I think he will be in for a good year. His sister Melanies Angelique has been training down very good too. I also have a (2-year-old half-sister) to Lonewolf Currier and Lookout Hanover named Last One Hanover and she's been going very good too. KW: What have been your biggest thrills? KM: Probably winning the Titan Cup with Mac Action because he was an Amish horse that went on to become a great trotter. We kept him until he died at 21 years old. No question Hypnotic Blue Chip winning the U.S. Pacing Championship in a world-record (1:47.2). More importantly, I did it for (owner) Fran Azur, who has been like a father figure to me. Fran only breeds his Hypnotics right now, he hasn't been buying racehorses and it's hurt my business, but he's the best. I absolutely love him. KW: What races haven't you won that you would most like to win? KM: I've never won the Meadowlands Pace or the Hambletonian, but besides that I've won my share of big races and I've had four or five world champions along the way. I've got almost 1,600 wins and I'm very proud of that. KW: What is most rewarding about working with the horses and is there a horse in particular that stands out as having been really rewarding? KM: I think Noble Falcon. We bought him at Harrisburg for ($80,000) and we were really just looking at making him a 4-year-old $50,000 claimer. He made a million dollars and he did it the hard way. He did it in overnights, he never won a big race. He was just a treat to be around. He's a beautiful horse. He's got a home for life, him and Blueridge Western, who both made a million dollars for me. Fran gave them both homes for life, which to me is very special. KW: What has been the most valuable lesson you've learned over the years? KM: Just to be fair to the owners and tell them the truth, whether it's good news or bad news. I've been blessed to have very loyal owners for years. KW: With New Jersey getting the appropriation for the next five years, how big of a boost has that been and how big of a boost do you see it being for everyone here? KM: It saved the sport. I think it is tremendous. I train horses for (Meadowlands CEO) Jeff Gural and I'm thrilled for Jeff. I just wish I had a couple more horses that I could race at the Meadowlands. Hopefully over the next month or two I'll pick up some stakes horses and be able to race more at the Meadowlands. I think New Jersey has to get better horses to race here. I think the higher-class horses have to come back to the Meadowlands to make it like it was. There are not too many trainers who were around in the '80s, '90s, 2000s when it was the mecca. I was there and I would love to see that come back. At the end of the day it comes to be bringing bigger horses back, the higher claimers and higher-class horses, and we need to try to get some of the top drivers back too. KW: What do you like to do with your free time? KM: I really don't have any hobbies anymore. I love watching my son (Liam) wrestle. He's a good wrestler in college (at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island). I live for my kids, and that's the truth. Everything I do is for my kids now. That's it. Ken Weingartner  

Hightstown, NJ — Warrawee Ubeaut, a filly who last year became the fastest 2-year-old pacer in harness racing history thanks to her 1:48.3 win in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile, is among the Dan Patch Award winners making their 2019 returns in Saturday’s (April 13) qualifiers at The Meadowlands. Others in that group are 4-year-old pacing mares Kissin In The Sand and Youaremycandygirl as well as 4-year-old gelding pacer Dorsoduro Hanover. Kissin In The Sand and Dorsoduro Hanover were 2018 Dan Patch honorees while Youaremycandygirl received her award in 2017. Ron Burke trains Warrawee Ubeaut, Youaremycandygirl, and Dorsoduro Hanover. Nancy Johansson trains Kissin In The Sand. Warrawee Ubeaut won seven of 12 races last year and earned $646,995. Her wins included the Breeders Crown and Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes in addition to her world-record victory in Lexington. “She had a great year,” Burke said earlier this year. “There is no limit on what she can do. The filly has as much speed as any horse we’ve ever had. I think as long as we manage her correctly, she is going to be very competitive and can do special things.” Dorsoduro Hanover led all 3-year-old pacers in earnings last year with $1.28 million. He won 10 of 22 races, with his victories including the Breeders Crown, Delvin Miller Adios, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He also had six second-place finishes, including in the Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug. Youaremycandygirl won nine of 17 races last season and earned $550,033. Kissin In The Sand won 10 of 15 races and never finished worse than second on her way to a division-best $845,495 in purses. Her wins included the James M. Lynch Memorial, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, Mistletoe Shalee, and Bluegrass Stakes. She was second in the Breeders Crown and Fan Hanover. Burke will send out 17 horses Saturday morning at the Big M. Also entered from his stable are 4-year-old pacing mare Percy Bluechip, an O’Brien Award winner in 2017 and Breeders Crown champion last season, and 3-year-old filly trotter Sonnet Grace, who won the Goldsmith Maid. Other returning stakes winners in his group are Sylph Hanover and St Somewhere (3-year-old filly pacers), Baron Remy (4-year-old mare pacer), De Los Cielos Deo (3-year-old colt pacer), This Is The Plan (4-year-old gelding pacer), and Filibuster Hanover (5-year-old gelding pacer). Johansson has nine horses entered, with stakes-winners Blood Money (3-year-old colt pacer) and Thinkbig Dreambig (4-year-old stallion pacer) among those joining Kissin In The Sand on the trip. Trainer Ake Svanstedt sends out seven horses, including stakes winners Yes Mickey (5-year-old gelding trotter), Plunge Blue Chip (4-year-old mare trotter), and Ice Attraction (5-year-old mare trotter). Other returning stakes winners entered on Saturday include Yonkers International Trot champion Cruzado Dela Noche (7-year-old stallion trotter) for trainer Marcus Melander as well as Julie Miller-trained Special Honor (3-year-old filly trotter) and Top Flight Angel (5-year-old stallion trotter), Chris Ryder’s Stonebridge Soul (3-year-old filly pacer), and Mark Silva’s Dealt A Winner (7-year-old gelding pacer). For the complete entries on the U.S. Trotting Association website, click here. For past performance pages from the Meadowlands website, click here.   by Ken Weingartner USTA Media Relations Manager

Lisa and Bob McNerney have bred a stakes-winning trotter in Frau Blucher. Now they aim to own a stakes-winning homebred and have a trio of harness racing hopefuls, including Frau Blucher's half-brother Big Poppy. Big Poppy, a 3-year-old gelding, was unraced last season but is among several Hambletonian Stakes-eligible trotters competing in the Walner Series at the Meadowlands Racetrack. He is a son of Donato Hanover out of Lisa McNerney's mare My Angel, who produced Frau Blucher (originally named Bella Lisanti). Frau Blucher was a two-time Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion and won the Buckette Stakes in 1:53.1 at the 2013 Delaware County Fair, a time that remains a world-record for a 3-year-old filly trotter on a half-mile track. She also won a division of the Bluegrass Stakes as a freshman and finished second as a sophomore to Horse of the Year Bee A Magician in the Breeders Crown. She closed her career with $988,264 in purses. "She was a great introduction to breeding, but my wife will never let me forget that we sold the horse for $21,000 and she ended up making almost a million dollars," Bob McNerney said with a laugh. "We sold her at (the Standardbred Horse Sale in) Harrisburg. Tim Hauser ended up buying her and changed the name. "We became partners on some future horses. It was nice to see that happen. It's been a good experience and we're just hoping for the best." One of those "future horses" is Big Poppy. McNerney and Tim Hauser's Hauser Bros. Racing also bred Hambletonian Oaks hopeful Mother Bonnie, who won her career debut in 1:55 last year in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes before being limited to four races because of various issues, and her 2-year-old full sister Spoiled Princess, who has received high marks while preparing for her season. "We really have some high expectations," said McNerney, who bought his first horse in 1987. "We really love the harness racing. Once you get bitten (by the sport) you're bit. You're always chasing that dream. Maybe this year we'll have something to talk about." Big Poppy was unraced last season but is Hambletonian Stakes-eligible. USTA/Ken Weingartner photo. McNerney, who is in commercial real estate, and his wife have a small farm in northern New Jersey and live 25 miles from the Meadowlands. "We have some Pennsylvania (horses), we have some New York, but New Jersey is where we want to be," McNerney said. "Now with the ($100 million) appropriation coming in it's going to help us a little bit more. I like to go and watch my horses race and grew up with the Meadowlands; that's what we like. Jersey is where it's at." There is one division of the Walner Series this week, with an 11-horse field going one mile. Big Poppy and driver Eric Abbatiello start from post one and are 15-1 on the morning line. Richard "Nifty" Norman trains Big Poppy. "We don't know if he's going to be a Hambletonian horse, but he'll be a racehorse," McNerney said. "We're hoping he's got some of that (Frau Blucher) blood in him. We're taking a shot this year and see what happens. "This business can be disappointing at times, but it can be so rewarding. We're hoping for a good year. We try to do everything we can from an owner's perspective to get them to that point." Goes Down Smooth, another Hambletonian eligible, is the 3-1 morning-line pick in the Walner. He starts from post nine with Yannick Gingras at the lines for trainer Ron Burke. Friday's card also includes three divisions of the Wiggle It Jiggleit Series for 3-year-old male pacers. Two Meadowlands Pace eligibles are among the morning-line favorites: World On Edge, 5-2 in the first division for the Gingras-Burke tandem, and newly-minted Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund champion Goldberg, 9-5 in the third split for driver Montrell Teague and trainer Brenda Teague. World On Edge heads to the second round of the Wiggle It Jiggleit off a 1:54.1 win in last week's opener. It was World On Edge's seasonal debut. The gelding is by Roll With Joe out of Inanotherworld. His family includes two-time Dan Patch Award winner Worldly Beauty and Worldly Treasure, who is the dam of two-time Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous. "He improved greatly last year when we put him on the big track," Burke said about World On Edge, who capped his freshman season with a third-place finish in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington's Red Mile. "I'm hoping he'll come back this year and have a good year. He's big and strong and comes from a good family. I think he is going to be a good horse; I don't know if he is a great horse." Goldberg also was stakes-placed last year, finishing second to eventual Dan Patch Award-winner Captain Crunch in a division of the Nassagaweya and third behind Captain Ahab and De Los Cielos Deo in his elimination of the Metro Pace. A virus knocked the colt out of the Metro final and sidelined him the remainder of the year. "He's a little bigger, stronger," said Montrell Teague, who bred and owns Goldberg. "He's a lot smarter, he's quieted down a lot. Last year he was pretty rank and this year I've opened him up a little bit and it's worked pretty good so far. He's letting me drive him; last year he was a little more aggressive and didn't really know what he was doing." The morning-line favorite in the remaining division of the Wiggle It Jiggleit is Rollwithpapajoe, who is 3-1 with David Miller driving for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno. Round three of the Wiggle It Jiggleit and Walner will be April 19. The finals are April 27. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). For Friday's complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

April 10, 2019, from the USTA Communications Department Columbus, OH - The U.S. Trotting Association announced Wednesday (April 10) that T.C. Lane has been promoted to the newly-created position of chief operating officer. In his new role, Lane will work to optimize the Association's operating capabilities, oversee internal project development, and employ strategies to maximize member satisfaction. He will report directly to USTA Executive Vice President/CEO Mike Tanner and will continue in his role as the USTA's registrar. "Elevating T.C. into this newly-created position is a natural fit because he is a guy that gets things done," said Tanner. "His knowledge of the Association and its protocols will serve him well, as will his track record of having greatly advanced our operating practices in the Registry and Member Services. "T.C. is highly respected, both inside the USTA and throughout the industry, and has earned the promotion," added Tanner. "With his leadership, we'll be a stronger and more efficient organization." Lane joined the USTA as its director of officials in 2002 following a stint with the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association, where he was the representative to Ohio's county fairs. At the USTA, Lane has served as registrar and director of member services, duties that include supervision of the Race Track Support department, which provides 24/7 service to all pari-mutuel and fair tracks in the country, the coordination of an 11-person ID technician team, and direction of the Information/Research department. He also led, along with Sherry Antion-Mohr, the USTA's director of information technology, the development of the USTA Online Entry platform, which currently processes approximately 90 percent of the sport's entries each year. More recently, Lane oversaw the creation and implementation of the USTA's microchipping program and the release of an app to utilize with the program. Lane is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he majored in agricultural economics and minored in equine science.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com  

Peter Tritton's one-two punch in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series was reduced to one when a quarter crack sidelined past champion Bit Of A Legend N, but Pacing Major N could still carry the stable's banner into the April 20 championship at Yonkers Raceway. Pacing Major N is 10th in points heading into Saturday's fifth-and-final preliminary round of the harness racing series, from which the top-eight horses advance to vie for the crown. There are four divisions Saturday, with Pacing Major N competing in the third. He meets four of the top seven in the standings: points-leader Western Fame as well as two-time prelim winners The Wall, More The Better N, and Rodeo Rock. A horse receives 25 points each time he races in a preliminary round. Points are also awarded based on finish, with 50 points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth. Pacing Major N is 16 points shy of eighth place and 25 points shy of sixth. More The Better N is 53 points clear in fifth. Pacing Major N, a 6-year-old New Zealand-bred stallion by Art Major, had a win in the series on March 30 and finished third last week. He starts Saturday from post three with regular driver Jordan Stratton. "He's our only chance at the moment; we've got to make do with what we've got," said Tritton, who trains Pacing Major N for owner Von Knoblauch Stable. "He's going good so we'll keep our fingers crossed. "I've always had a good opinion of him. Yonkers is probably not his favorite track; I think he would be better on a bigger track. He had a bit of trouble getting around those corners and the first couple of runs he wasn't quite right. But we made a couple of changes and I think he's back to where he should be now. We expected that he'd go all right if we had him right. He's good now." Tritton had high hopes for Bit Of A Legend N, also owned by Von Knoblauch Stable, but the 10-year-old stallion saw his participation in the series end after two rounds because of his hoof issue. Tritton expects the horse to return to the races within a month. "He's still working, but we haven't trained him," Tritton said. "He's not too far away, I'm just being overly cautious with him because he's older now and I don't want to put too much stress on him. It's a shame. I think he was coming up every bit as good as ever. It's just bad timing. We've got to live with it." Western Fame leads the Levy standings with 275 points thanks to his three wins and one second-place finish. He is followed by Ideal Jimmy with 250, JJ Flynn and The Wall with 233 each, More The Better N with 220, Anythingforlove A with 192, Rodeo Rock with 187, and Somewhere In LA with 183. JJ Flynn is the only horse in the top 20 taking the week off. Ideal Jimmy, Anythingforlove A, and Somewhere In LA are in Saturday's fourth division, where the remaining five horses in the field are 25th or lower in the standings. Leading the group on the outside looking in is ninth-place Bettors Fire N, with 170 points, followed by Pacing Major N (167), Endeavor (166), Lyons Steel (163), Gokudo Hanover (162), Imarocnrollegend N (158), The Downtown Bus (155), and Mac's Jackpot (150). Bettors Fire N, Lyons Steel, Gokudo Hanover, Imarocnrollegend N, and The Downtown Bus all compete in Saturday's second division. Pacing Major N is joined in the third division by Endeavor and Mac's Jackpot. The next three horses in the standings - I'm Some Graduate (143 points), Control Tower (137), and Dr J Hanover (137) - all are in the first division. "The key to this series is you have to keep drawing well," Tritton said. "You've got to have that luck. That's what is good about the series, it's a little bit of luck too. It's good to give everybody a bit of a chance." For Saturday's complete entries, click here. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT). For the Levy Series standings, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Columbus, OH - On Saturday night (April 6), DerbyWars.com will host a Last Chance World Harness Handicapping Championship Super-Qualifier with up to six spots gaining entry to the $150,000 (est.) WHHC final one week later on Saturday (April 13) at the Meadowlands. The WHHC has a guaranteed first-place prize of $40,000. WHHC entries are $1,300, with $1,000 going to the prize and $300 to each player's real-money bankroll. This Saturday's WHHC Last Chance Super-Qualifier has an entry fee of $300, with one in five players qualifying for the WHHC. Players can also attempt to qualify for the Last Chance Super-Qualifier for only $33 or $86 earlier on Friday (April 5) or Saturday night. The qualifying schedule this week includes: Thursday: Woodbine Mohawk Park Friday: The Meadowlands, Woodbine Mohawk Park Saturday: The Meadowlands, Woodbine Mohawk Park DerbyWars hosts online qualifiers for the WHHC every night. Complete qualifier information can be found at this link. A list of players who qualified for WHHC on DerbyWars can be found here. More WHHC information can be found at this link. For information on how to become a WHHC partner outlet or sponsor, contact Rachel Ryan, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment (rryan@playmeadowlands.com) or 201.842.5015. For online qualifying information, or to have your track participate in online qualifiers, contact support@derbywars.com.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Pinkman, who won the 2015 Hambletonian on his way to being named Trotter of the Year, is ready for a new season and trainer Per Engblom is optimistic that "the old man" is poised for a solid harness racing campaign. The 7-year-old gelding makes his seasonal debut Friday (April 5) in the preferred handicap trot at The Meadowlands, which could be the first of two preps for Pinkman ahead of May's Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Big M. For the past several years, Pinkman has been troubled by chronic throat and breathing issues; he made a total of only 14 starts at ages 4 and 5. Last year, he enjoyed his healthiest campaign since age 3 and equaled his career high for starts with 17. Pinkman heads to Friday's race off a 1:54.2 win in a qualifier at the Meadowlands on March 30. He starts from post six in an eight-horse field and is 5-1 on the morning line with Yannick Gingras in the sulky. Sutton, with Andy Miller driving for trainer Julie Miller, is the 5-2 favorite. "The old man is doing good," Engblom said about Pinkman. "He had a good winter, actually a little bit better winter than he's had the last couple years. We didn't miss any training with him. He's been staying healthy, he's been breathing well, and he qualified great. "You have to take him for what he is. He's an older horse and you can't really push him. But if he's feeling well, he will give you what he's got." Engblom is well acquainted with Pinkman. A native of Sweden, Engblom is in his first year running his own stable in the U.S. following six seasons as the top assistant in Jimmy Takter's stable, where Pinkman has spent his career. Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter out of Margie Seelster, has won 19 of 56 career races and earned $2.73 million for owners Christina Takter, brothers John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. He was a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3 and counts the Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, and Beal and Zweig memorials among his victories in addition to the Hambletonian. Despite his health woes in recent years, Pinkman has earned $270,212 since turning 4. He won a Group 2 race in Sweden in 2016 and was stakes-placed last year. He trotted 1:49.2 in Homicide Hunter's 1:48.4 world-record mile in the Allerage Open Trot at Lexington's Red Mile, where he finished third. "He had a little bad luck last year," Engblom said, referring to eight starts from posts eight, nine, 10 or the second tier. "At the end of last year, he was doing pretty well. He trotted (1):49 and a piece in Lexington. He's still got it, we just need to manage him. That's the key. "He's been so solid (preparing for this season). I really think he's going to do OK. I'm really confident he can have a pretty good year. He's a sound horse. His legs are as tough as they come. It's fun to work with classy old horses like him. It's a thrill every time you train him." Friday's card at the Meadowlands also includes the start of the Walner Series for trotters and the Wiggle It Jiggleit Series for pacers. Each series features three preliminary rounds followed by an April 27 final. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). For complete Friday entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Chillaxin Away is the defending champion on Delaware's harness racing circuit for state-bred male pacers, but Goldberg is ready to try to wrestle the title from him. The two horses meet in Thursday's (April 4) $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final for 3-year-old colts and geldings at Dover Downs, with "Chilly" a slight 8-5 favorite on the morning line. Last season, Chillaxin Away won both DSBF championships for 2-year-old male pacers, in October at Harrington Raceway and November at Dover, and was two neck defeats from being unbeaten in six races in the series. Goldberg did not race in Delaware last year as he was instead pointed to the Grand Circuit. The colt was limited to only four starts because of a virus but hit the board three times in open stakes action. Chillaxin Away enters Thursday's final off a half-length win over Goldberg in 1:51.2 in the second preliminary round of the DSBF. Both horses were winners in their first-round races. Chillaxin Away starts the final from post four with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Jim King Jr. while Goldberg, who is 9-5 on the morning line, leaves from post three with Montrell Teague at the lines for trainer Brenda Teague. "We think we've got a pretty good chance," King said about Chillaxin Away, a gelding known as "Chilly" around the barn. "We have to deal with Goldberg. They were extremely high on him. They had some issues, but now they seem to have him squared away. I'm concerned about him. We were able to handle him last week but he out-drew us and is definitely a concern." Chillaxin Away is by Roddy's Bags Again out of Shake Away, a mare who raced at the top levels of the Delaware circuit for King in the mid-2000s. Chillaxin Away was bred by King's wife, Jo Ann Looney-King, who remains the owner of the horse. For his career, Chillaxin Away has won eight of 15 races and earned $170,600. His past five starts away from the DSBF series have all come against fields with older horses. "All of (Shake Away's) male babies have been pretty good horses and this one is as good as any of them," trainer King said. "He's stepped up pretty good. Like all of them, he's got little quirks and little issues here and there but nothing we haven't been able to correct by the next start and go again. "He's a fun little horse. He's got plenty of ability and I like his determination. His raw speed is really good; he can really sprint. For where he's got to go, I don't think there are any that can pace a quarter faster than him or anything like that. Barring anything really silly, I think he's going to be OK in the final. He gets home in 26 and a piece after being first over, that's pretty good anywhere you go let alone for a Delaware-bred." Chillaxin Away will not be doing a lot of traveling, though. He is not staked outside of Delaware. "I'm a little bit stingy," King said with a laugh. "I still don't think he's one of those. He's just a really nice little horse. He doesn't have the size to him, that was the biggest thing. He just didn't appear to be stout enough. I've been close enough to it to know that it's not very likely we're going to bring one out of our backyard to (compete on the Grand Circuit)." Montrell Teague hopes he can eventually return to the Grand Circuit with Goldberg. Teague bred and owns the colt, who is a son of Mr Wiggles out of Chausettes Blanche. The colt has won two of seven career races and earned $47,070. Last year, Goldberg finished second to eventual Dan Patch Award-winner Captain Crunch in a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes and was third behind Captain Ahab and De Los Cielos Deo in his elimination of the Metro Pace. A virus knocked the colt out of the Metro final and sidelined him the remainder of the year. "I just turned him out because I didn't want to ruin him," Teague said. "He showed a lot of promise last year. I was very big on him, but you never know how they're going to come back after catching a virus like that. I'm just happy he came back. "(The timing of the DSBF) is kind of a gift and a curse. I wanted to give him a little more time in the field, but at least I can see what I've got. I staked him up pretty good to give myself options. The main thing is to see how he comes out of Thursday's final." Teague is happy with Goldberg's return so far. "He's a little bigger, stronger," Teague said. "He's a lot smarter, he's quieted down a lot. Last year he was pretty rank and this year I've opened him up a little bit and it's worked pretty good so far. He's letting me drive him; last year he was a little more aggressive and didn't really know what he was doing." The DSBF championship is race 10 on Dover's card. Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EDT). For Thursday's complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com      

Anderson, IN – The deadline for HHYF scholarship applications is approaching fast - completed applications are due at the HHYF office by April 30, but early submission is encouraged. Log on to https://www.hhyf.org/hhyf-scholarships.html to access the applications and each scholarship’s eligibility requirements and general information. The scholarships, for students who are at least high school seniors, are awarded based on GPA, financial need, completeness of application and quality of essay (where applicable). The HHYF scholarships are the $2,500 Curt Greene Memorial Scholarship for students who have demonstrated a passion for harness racing and have financial need; and the $1,500 Sweet Karen Scholarship for alumni of HHYF Summer Programs. Questions may be answered by emailing the HHYF office at ellen@hhyf.org. The HHYF website also provides a recently-updated comprehensive listing of harness racing-related scholarships available through other sources. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people's lives since 1976; its programs include interactive learning experiences with racehorses as well as offering scholarships and creating and distributing educational materials relating to harness racing.   For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to www.hhyf.org.   Ken Weingartner

Tim Torbert got to race New Zealand-bred harness racing mare Terro Franco only a handful of times, but he has enjoyed a good deal of success with her offspring. The most recent of the group, filly pacer Roddys At It Again, was a Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund champion last year at age 2 and will try to add another title Wednesday (April 3) at Dover Downs. Roddys At It Again, co-bred by Torbert and owned by his fiance Katie Killen, is by stakes-winning stallion Roddy's Bags Again. Torbert trained Roddy's Bags Again for much of his career for then-owner Robert Messick. He also trained the stallion's mom, Get The Bags, so he's well connected to Roddys At It Again's family. "Roddy's mother was the first horse I bought for Mr. Messick," said Torbert, a 43-year-old resident of Harrington, Del. "With me training Roddy and all, it all works out nice. "If she has any qualities from either one (of her parents) it's her versatility. I could leave and put her on the front or she's just as happy to race from off the pace. I'd have no problem with her getting away in the middle of the field and pulling early. She's pretty good either way." Roddys At It Again is the sixth foal out of Terro Franco, who saw her career ended by injury after only five starts for Torbert, and the fourth to reach six figures in purses. Two of Roddys At It Again's siblings, Roddy's Girl and Fran Luck, were runners-up in DSBF finals for Torbert. Last year, Roddys At It Again won four of nine races and earned $94,500. She was third in the DSBF final for 2-year-old filly pacers at Harrington in October and captured the DSBF championship at Dover Downs in November. "It was about what I expected," Torbert said of the filly's 2018 campaign. "I think I got a little lucky winning the final last year. It seems like all the better ones got sick and I got over it a little sooner than they did. In my opinion, there are like four of us in there that are very equal. It's just going to depend on the trip." This season, Roddys At It Again has started twice and finished second both times. She enters the $100,000 DSBF final for 3-year-old filly pacers off a neck setback to The Lady Sheriff in 1:54. She will start Wednesday from post four with driver Art Stafford Jr. and is 9-2 on the morning line. In And Out Again, a winner in both her DSBF eliminations, is the 5-2 favorite for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Jason Skinner. "I had some issues with (Roddys At It Again) early but I've got that all straightened out," Torbert said. "I was tickled with her mile last week and I think she's heading into the final the best she can be. I expect a little better effort. If we get beat, we get beat. But they're going to know we're there." The DSBF championship is race eight on Wednesday's card. Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EDT). For Wednesday's complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com  

Jenny Melander knows Altercation likes to put up a fight when training. On Tuesday (April 2) she will see for the first time how her 3-year-old harness racing filly trotter battles in a real race. Altercation is one of three Melander horses that will compete in Tuesday's opening round of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3- and 4-year-old female trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Altercation is in the fourth of four $15,000 divisions, at 3-1 on the morning line, and is joined by stablemates Meadowbranch Vicki (3-1 in the second division) and Cayenne Victory (7-2 in the third). First race post time is 4 p.m. (EDT). Altercation is a Diamond Creek Farm-bred daughter of Cantab Hall out of the stakes-winning mare Glide Power. She was purchased for $30,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale and enters the Weiss off a second-place finish in a qualifier at Pocono, timed in 1:58.4 with driver Marcus Miller. "Last year she wasn't ready; she was getting a little sore here and there," said Melander, who owns the filly with Noonan Harness Racing, Clark Stables, and John Devito. "I'm glad my partners decided to go on with her this year. She seems like she's pretty nice. "Her biggest thing is she loves to race. In every single training mile as soon as we turn for home she just wants to go. She absolutely loves to win every time. That is by far her strongest asset. She is pretty good gaited, she's long, and she is going to give all she's got." Following the Weiss Series, Melander said Altercation is eligible to Pennsylvania-sired stakes as well as the Kentucky Sire Stakes. "When they haven't raced as a 2-year-old, it's really hard to put a lot of money into staking them, but she has plenty enough," Melander said. "That's a lot of races right there. There is plenty of reason for her to make money if she comes around and proves herself." Meadowbranch Vicki, a 3-year-old filly bred and owned by Hans Enggren, is making her seasonal debut. The daughter of Wishing Stone out of Wen-Mar's Memo won one of 12 races last year and earned $44,785. Her victory came in a conditioned race, but she was second in divisions of the Simpson and Ohio Sire Stakes. "She's like all those Wishing Stones, kind of on the small side, but she really likes her job," Melander said. "She put in quite a few good races but she also ended up with a lot of bad luck. It's a lot of half-mile races in Ohio and every time we were on a half-mile (track) she ended up drawing on the outside, she was in with the toughest horses, just not much luck. "But she's an honest little horse and she did her best to make money. We were happy with her. She does what we ask, but she's not one that shows off in any way. She is staked in Ohio and she's got another couple races here and there, but not a whole lot." Rounding out Melander's group is Cayenne Victory. The 4-year-old daughter of Cayenne Turbo out of Victory Connection is owned by Melander Racing and Noonan Harness Racing. She was purchased for $15,000 at February's Blooded Horse Winter Speed Sale, then missed several weeks because of illness. She has started twice for Melander, with a third- and fourth-place finish. For her career, Cayenne Victory has won four of 34 races and earned $32,124. "We needed something more to race during the winter, so that was the main reason we bought her," Melander said. "That didn't work out because she got sick. But she's all trot and that's kind of what I liked about her. She's very solid." Jim Morrill Jr. will drive Meadowbranch Vicki and Cayenne Victory. The Weiss Series for female trotters features three preliminary rounds followed by a $30,000 final April 23. For Tuesday's complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Jeff Schaefer and his wife Marie know what it is like to battle cancer. Now they want to help bring hope to those facing the fight today and in the future. The couple recently launched an online store, Harness Life, that sells T-shirts, sweatshirts and window decals to raise money for cancer research. The venture, which began last year, is gaining momentum and produced a $1,000 donation last month with another $1,000 donation to be made soon. "I had kidney cancer and my wife had breast cancer and we've seen a lot of our friends go through it too," said the 55-year-old Schaefer, who is a blacksmith at Pompano Park and Tioga Downs as well as an amateur driver and U.S. Trotting Association ID technician. Marie is a teacher and trains horses on the side. "I was sitting on the couch one day and said we should come up with some T-shirts and call it Harness Life. The name is for harness racing, and helps promote the sport, but it also is for harnessing life as a whole. I can't make enough shirts right now. We've probably sold over 250 T-shirts and sweatshirts so far with all the profits going to cancer research." Schaefer is from Illinois and has been involved in harness racing since his early teens. When he was 16, he finished second in the junior driving championship at Sportsman's Park and he remained active in training and driving through his 20s. At the age of 30, though, he decided to pursue his real interest, which was a career as a blacksmith. He has worked as a farrier for 25 years, currently splitting his time between Florida's Pompano Park and New York's Tioga Downs. "I was interested in it when I was younger, but at the time my dad had back surgery and couldn't train horses so he kind of steered me in that direction," Schaefer said. "Later, I decided to become a blacksmith, but having trained horses has helped me a lot. I can pretty much judge where a horse is off, and if I need to, I can train a horse and see where they're hitting and that kind of stuff. "It's rewarding. I've gotten to shoe a lot of good horses, like Corleone Kosmos and Burning Point. I also got to shoe for Stanley Dancer at the end of his career." Photo courtesy Jeff Schaefer Schaefer's career as a blacksmith forced him to put driving on hold for a dozen years, but he returned to the sulky in 2012 and has been a regular in the Florida Amateur Driving Club. In 2017 he was among a group of drivers from the club to travel to the United Kingdom for a competition and in June he will be among a group to travel to France for an event. "I got the itch to start driving again so I bought a horse and got back into it," said Schaefer, who has 75 career wins. "It gets in your blood. I enjoy the competitiveness. I think it's thrilling every time I go out to drive. I'm kind of the underdog most of the time. It's fun to have a good horse and win." Shaefer will be in action again Sunday at Pompano Park, but in the meantime he will be busy shoeing horses and making T-shirts. It's the harness life. It's Harness Life. "It's turning out to be a big success," Schaefer said.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Forty years ago, Don Van Witzenburg had an Illinois-bred pacer named Iones Folly, who earned more than $400,000 lifetime. His harness racing trainer at the time told Van Witzenburg he could live a lifetime and never find another horse like him. Van Witzenburg points out it proved to be an incorrect assumption. "I'm 86 years old and I found another one just like him," Van Witzenburg said, laughing. The "another one" is Ideal Jimmy. Ideal Jimmy, a homebred 6-year-old male pacer named after one of Van Witzenburg's grandchildren, has won 17 of 57 career races, including the 2015 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, and earned $626,936. The horse suffered a broken coffin bone in December 2017 but returned to action a year later and is now enjoying success in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. "He's a pretty sporty little fella, especially over there at Yonkers," trainer Erv Miller said about the gelding, who is one of two horses (with Rodeo Rock) to post wins in each of the first two preliminary rounds of the Levy. "He's getting it done right now." Ideal Jimmy is a son of Western Ideal out of Armbro Nectarine, who in addition to Ideal Jimmy produced a string of stakes-winners for Van Witzenburg: Ideal Nectarine, Ideal Danny, Ideal Helen, and Ideal Ike. Van Witzenburg got started in harness racing in the mid-1960s. A self-described workaholic, he is a man on the go, up from bed hours before the sunrise every day to oversee a variety of business interests from real estate to construction. The horses provide a happy diversion and help keep him young. "You know why horsemen live to be a hundred years old? They got another baby coming," Van Witzenburg said. "With broodmares, I have eight (horses now) with two more coming in April. It's the anticipation. Once a man loses his dreams there ain't nothing left to do but to bury him. It's not about the money, it's about the experience. It's a trip. It's a great life." Ideal Jimmy is providing a great experience. On Saturday he competes in the third round of the Levy, starting from post seven in the fifth of five divisions with Brent Holland in the sulky. The gelding has won nine of 26 career races at Yonkers and hit the board a total of 15 times. "I admire his heart, his desire to win," Van Witzenburg said. "That's something you can't train into them. It's something they're born with, just a natural thing. He wants to win. "He's handy," the owner continued. "You can leave with him or he can sit in a hole and he can come like a freight train at the end." Ideal Jimmy is not paid into any races beyond the Levy but could find himself garnering attention for upcoming half-mile-track invitationals if he remains sharp. "We weren't going to pay him into a bunch of stuff his first year coming back (from the injury)," Miller said. "If he stays good, next year he will probably be eligible to all the races on the small tracks." The Levy and companion Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, which continues Friday for older female pacers, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 20. A horse receives 25 points each time she or he races in a preliminary round. Points are also awarded based on finish, with 50 points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth. For Saturday's complete Yonkers entries, click here. For the Levy standings, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Jeff Gillis has no complaints about Will Take Charge’s 2018 harness racing season, a campaign that saw the gelding finish fifth on the money list for older trotters, but he also believes it could have been better. Will Take Charge, who makes his 2019 debut in Saturday’s open handicap at Yonkers Raceway, won nine of 26 races last year and earned $469,535. His victories included the Maxie Lee Memorial in a world-record-equaling performance and the Crawford Farms Open Trot, but he won only once in his final 10 starts and finished off the board in five of six Grand Circuit finals during that span. “It’s hard to complain about the overall money he made,” said Gillis, who trains Will Take Charge and joined Mac Nichol in ownership of the horse last fall. “I did feel that he went off form at an inopportune time. Maybe it was in part due to less than ideal management. He raced through last winter and it maybe caught up with him late in the year. “If he could have maintained his form from August through the end of the year, I think he would have made substantially more money. We’ve rested him up and we’re looking to build on that this year.” Will Take Charge will enter Saturday’s race off a four-month respite. Prior to the layoff, the gelding had made at least one start in a month from May 2017 through November 2018. Nichol purchased the horse in November 2017. He was previously trained by John Bax and was runner-up in the Ontario Sire Stakes championships at ages 2 and 3. For his career, Will Take Charge has won 21 of 76 races and earned $900,436. Will Take Charge will start from post six in a field of eight Saturday with Tim Tetrick in the sulky. The gelding prepped for his seasonal bow with two qualifiers, winning in 1:58 on March 7 at Woodbine Mohawk Park and winning in 1:57.1 on March 15 at Yonkers. “He seems to have come back quite well,” Gillis said. “He put on a little weight over the winter. He wintered at Kentuckiana Farms in Kentucky and they did a great job with him. He’s looking the part. I was happy with his two qualifiers, they were kind of right on target. I’m excited to have him back in to go.” Gillis said Will Take Charge’s first stakes test will be the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial on May 4 at the Meadowlands. “I feel like we’ll be right up there near the top; at least that’s the plan,” Gillis said about the upcoming campaign in the division. “He’s as handy as a shirt pocket. He can leave with the car, you can take him off, he comes off cover well, he won the Maxie Lee first up. He’s just a very, very versatile horse. And he likes to race. He’s got a good attitude; he enjoys life. There is nothing not to like about him.” Saturday’s card at Yonkers also includes six second-round divisions of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Winners from the first round were Anythingforlove A, Ideal Jimmy, More The Better N, Rodeo Rock, The Wall, and Western Fame. The Levy and companion Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, which is Friday for older female pacers, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 20. For Saturday’s complete entries, click here. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT).   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Jim Campbell knows stakes-winner Alexa's Power will face a challenge this year at age 4, leaving the age-restricted ranks to take on the best older female pacers in the sport, but the harness racing trainer believes his mare has a temperament that could help her along. "She's got that feisty, racing attitude to her, and she likes to race," Campbell said. "I think those are pretty good qualities to help her make that transition. But it's a very tough group, probably as tough as there's been in a long, long time. "The toughest part for them is coming back at 4 and making that transition. She needs to get some racing and see what she can do." Alexa's Power starts to get that racing Friday at the Meadowlands, where she kicks off her 4-year-old season in the preferred handicap for fillies and mares. She faces eight rivals, including 2018 Golden Girls winner Divas Image, who is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Alexa's Power, with Marcus Miller in the sulky, is 6-1. Last year, Alexa's Power won multiple Grand Circuit stakes, including the Jugette and Lismore Pace. She won nine of 20 races, hit the board a total of 17 times, and ranked fourth in divisional earnings with $469,363. The three horses that finished ahead of her in purses have either a Dan Patch or O'Brien award to their credit: Kissin In The Sand, Youaremycandygirl, and Percy Bluechip. "I was very happy with her," Campbell said. "She's such a nice filly to race because she gives you a good effort every time you put her out there. And she's just a real nice horse to be around, too. She's one that you love having in the barn." Alexa's Power, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the O'Brien Award-winning mare Michelle's Power, is owned by breeder Jeff Snyder and his son Michael. She is a full sister to stakes-winner Mac's Jackpot and her family also includes Canada's 2012 Horse of the Year Michael's Power as well as Hall of Famer Cam's Card Shark. Alexa's Power The mare prepped for Friday's race with two qualifiers at the Meadowlands. She finished fifth in the first and fourth in the second, beaten 1-1/4 lengths. "She bled a little bit in her second qualifier, so we put her on Lasix; it will be her first start on Lasix," Campbell said. "But other than that, she's come back good. "We were thinking of the (Blue Chip Matchmaker Series) for her, but bleeding and not getting off on the right foot, that was going to be pretty tough. We're just going to get her a few overnights and see where she's at and go from there. She's staked up. We'll go race to race and see how she is and go from there." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Friday at the Meadowlands. The card also includes a preferred handicap for trotters, where Sutton is the morning-line favorite (2-1) over Trolley (5-2). Sutton handed Trolley his only loss in five races this season on March 8. Trolley defeated Sutton in his seasonal debut on Feb. 22. For Friday's complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

No matter what she does, Kristina Smith carries the memory of her grandmother with her. Smith's horses always will too. Smith, the 21-year-old daughter of trainer Randy Smith, lost her grandmother, Linda Jean Nelson, to cancer in 2015. Nelson was an inspiration to Kristina on multiple levels, including around the horses and on the racetrack. Nelson was an accomplished horsewoman, even setting the track record for trotting under saddle at Scarborough Downs in the 1970s. So when Smith began her own training career earlier this year, it was important for her to honor her grandmother and the contributions she made to her life. Smith decided her horses would race in pink equipment, including a Buxton with Nelson's name on it, in memory of her grandmother. Twelve days ago, an 8-year-old pacer named Uppercutz went onto the track at Miami Valley Raceway wearing that equipment and gave Smith her first win as a trainer. photo -Kristina Smith "My grandmother meant the world to me," Smith said. "She helped my dad raise me and she was always there for me, even when she was sick. We lost her too soon. There was so much more she could have taught me, not only with the horses but about life and being a good person because she was a prime example. I wouldn't be where I am and who I am if it wasn't for her and for that I keep her legacy alive." Smith grew up in New England, where her dad started his stable when she was 3. She now lives near Columbus, Ohio, where she works for trainer Sandy Beatty and has her own one-horse racing stable plus a retired Standardbred owned previously by her grandmother that is now a riding horse. The trotter, Blue Boy Yankee, is no stranger to having someone on his back --- Smith raced him under saddle in 2014 and 2015. Smith was unaware of her grandmother's under-saddle exploits when she began riding but was happy to discover the connection. "I think it's meaningful to follow in her footsteps," Smith said. She also is following in her father's footsteps, and in the case of Uppercutz's victory, beating him. Randy's horse A List finished third in the same race. "Everyone was teasing him," Smith said, laughing. "But he said if he had to lose to someone he would rather lose to his daughter." Randy found Uppercutz for his daughter, who claimed the gelding out of a race in Maine. Not surprisingly, she rides the pacer as part of his training regimen. The horse has raced eight times for Smith and posted a win and two seconds. "I take him trail riding; I have a blast with him," Smith said. "He doesn't want to stay on the track to jog. He'll jog for about 10 minutes and try to run off the track. I've learned it's easier to ride him because he enjoys that more than jogging in a jog cart. He seems to be a horse that likes the one-on-one attention." Uppercutz winners circle                 -photo Brad Conrad Smith does not intend to train horses on a fulltime basis. Whatever success Uppercutz enjoys on the track, Smith plans to use the profits to go to equine dentistry school. "For the time being, just having one is good," Smith said. "I've always wanted to have my own smaller stable. I probably wouldn't want to have more than three racehorses plus the riding horse. The smaller the better. It's very time consuming to do everything the right way. I'd rather have a smaller stable and have every horse get the attention they need. I was always told quality is better than quantity." No matter what she does, Smith will continue to use the lessons she learned from her grandmother and father along the way. "I was definitely very fortunate to have them to teach me," Smith said. "My dad would always say to me growing up, 'I just want you to be the best you can be.' That's what I strive to do. I know my grandmother looks over me and I want her to be proud."   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com  

49 to 64 of 1977