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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

In past years, when Robert LeBlanc went to The Meadowlands to watch the Hambletonian, he always thought how cool it would be to have a horse in the race. This year, he finds out. LeBlanc, a retired vice president at IBM who has partnered on horses in trainer Tony Alagna's stable for three years, is among the owners of Pilot Discretion. The colt competes in the second of Saturday's (Aug. 3) two $70,000 Hambletonian Stakes eliminations at the Big M, where the top-five finishers from each division return for the $1 million final later in the day. Pilot Discretion will start from post three with Andy McCarthy in the sulky. He is 10-1 on the morning line. Greenshoe is the 4-5 favorite in the division. 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 during a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). "As an owner, this is our race," said LeBlanc, a Canadian who now resides in Austin, Texas. "Everybody wants to be in the Hambletonian. Having a horse that's good enough, it may never happen again. But I'm enjoying the ride. Tony and the team have done an amazing job with him. Tony has managed him very well and he just keeps getting better and better." Pilot Discretion has won six of eight career races and never finished worse than third, earning $174,029. He was 2-for-2 in 2018 but saw his season end because of sickness. The son of Muscle Hill-Self Indulgent won his first four races this season, including the Goodtimes Stakes, before finishing second to Greenshoe in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial and third in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes. "We raced him in the Tompkins-Geers just to get him another race because he'd had a month break between the Goodtimes and the Dancer," Alagna said. "We wanted to race him and give him last week off. We raced him off the pace; we didn't want to put him on the front again in his last start since we put him on the front in the Dancer. He closed very well, :26.3. "He seems great. He's very fresh. Even the night I warmed him up his last start at the Meadowlands, he was bucking and playing and kicking just going his first trip. He hasn't done that in the last couple starts. So, I think he's as fresh as a horse could be going into it." For LeBlanc, who owns Pilot Discretion with Dave Anderson and John Fodera, it's been difficult to wait for Hambletonian time to arrive. "I've got no more fingernails, I've bitten them off," LeBlanc said. "It's been a buildup every week. I'll be pretty wound up by Saturday. I'll be super excited. I've already told my wife that I have to watch the race outside (the grandstand) because I'll be the one screaming the loudest. "If you see a lunatic screaming if he's coming down the stretch with a shot (to win) you know it will be me. Every owner will be a lunatic, absolutely. That's the fun of it. This is what makes this game so much fun." Can Ake Svanstedt win another Hambletonian? Ake Svanstedt, who won the 2017 Hambletonian through disqualification with Perfect Spirit, will send two horses into Saturday's event. Marseille is 5-1 in the second elimination, where Greenshoe is the 4-5 favorite, and Soul Strong is 8-1 in the first elim, where Gimpanzee is the 2-1 choice. Svanstedt trains both horses and will drive Marseille, who is owned by Svanstedt, Stefan Balazsi's Order By Stable, and Howard Taylor. Dexter Dunn is listed to drive Soul Strong, who is owned by Cees Faber's Stable Why Not. Marseille upset Greenshoe to win the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on June 29. For the year, he has won three of five races and never been worse than third. The son of Muscle Hill-Order By Wish heads to the Hambletonian off a career-best 1:51.4 victory in a division of the Tompkins-Geers on July 20. "He raced good the last time and he is training normal," Svanstedt said. Marseille was limited to four races last year because of soreness. When he returned this year, his behavior left much to be desired. The connections considered gelding Marseille but decided to hold off and gave the colt another opportunity to show improvement. He finished second in a qualifier and then won his seasonal debut, which ended the discussion. "Maybe he heard what we were talking about," Svanstedt said, smiling. "After he qualified and started racing, his head changed totally. He is not a stud when he comes to race. He has focus. He is a real racehorse and he wants to race. He is all business." Soul Strong was winless in eight races last year but has won three of six starts in 2019. He finished second to Marseille in the Tompkins-Geers. "He was not so good gaited when we started but his gait is better and better," Svanstedt said. "He was always a little sore and it was a balance how much we could train and race. But he has a good heart and has gotten stronger and stronger. We gelded him over the winter, and he is better now. He is older and stronger. He is going to be faster and faster." Svanstedt, like many others, considers Greenshoe the horse to beat. "Greenshoe is No. 1 but behind him it's wide open," Svanstedt said. "In the Hambletonian, there is good money behind the winner also. Of course, I want to win. But I must be realistic. "It's tough to be (in the Hambletonian). Everything must be a hundred percent perfect that day. When all the horses are on the same level, it can be the post position and the horse must be a hundred percent that day. Everything must be good." Andy & Julie Miller hoping for Summitt In Sight Team Miller - the wife-husband duo of trainer Julie and driver Andy - has hit the board in the past three Hambletonians and is hoping for more of the same on Saturday with Summit In Sight. The colt is 20-1 on the morning line in the first elimination, where Gimpanzee is the 2-1 favorite. "He is a longshot for the race but we're going to give him a chance," Julie Miller said. "We think we've got him sharp and ready. Basically, we need a lot of luck and hopefully he puts his best foot forward." Summit In Sight, owned by Natalia Stroy's Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable, was limited to two races in 2018 after suffering a bout of colic in the spring. He began this year with a sixth-place finish before putting together a streak of six starts where he finished either first (four times) or second. The string was broken when he went off stride and finished eighth in the Beal Memorial final. He heads to the Hambletonian off a fifth-place finish in a division of the Dancer. "We shut him down thinking he could be a nice 3-year-old," Julie Miller said about the son of Muscle Hill-Bluff. "We got him ready early and he flashed some talent. He had some unfortunate luck in the Beal with how the fractions of the race went; we really thought we had a good chance in there. "I trained him at the Meadowlands on Saturday just to get a good mile in him. I'm hoping I've got it all into place. He really developed from (age) 2 to 3 maturity wise. His gait got more extended and he grew up mentally as well. He's a more manageable horse, so however Andy chooses to drive him, suits him." Team Miller's past three finishes in the Hambletonian were a second by Met's Hall in 2018, third-placed second by Devious Man in 2017, and fast-closing third by Sutton in 2016. "Hopefully we can keep that momentum going," Julie Miller said. Hambletonian Elimination One PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Cantab Fashion-Dexter Dunn-Jim Campbell-6/1 2-Summit In Sight-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-20/1 3-Swandre The Giant-David Miller-Ron Burke-7/2 4-Soul Strong-Dexter Dunn-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 5-Mr Vicktor-Tyler Buter-Jennifer Lappe-15/1 6-Osterc-Yannick Gingras-Per Engblom-15/1 7-Gimpanzee-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-2/1 8-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-5/2 Hambletonian Elimination Two PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Forbidden Trade-Bob McClure-Luc Blais-12/1 2-Gerry-Orjan Kihlstrom-Marcus Melander-20/1 3-Pilot Discretion-Andrew McCarthy-Tony Alagna-10/1 4-Reign Of Honor-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-20/1 5-Greenshoe-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-4/5 6-Don't Let'em-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Johansson-4/1 7-Super Schissel-Scott Zeron-Per Engblom-10/1 8-Marseille-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-5/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

After watching his two Hambletonian Oaks finalists on Tuesday draw posts eight and nine in the $500,000 event's 10-horse field, trainer Lucas Wallin, a 26-year-old in only his third season of racing his own stable, handled the outcome with the philosophical aplomb of a veteran. "We could be happier after the draw, but someone has to race from eight and nine, I suppose," said Wallin, who sends Queen Of Trixs (post eight) and Princess Deo (post nine) into the sport's top race for 3-year-old female trotters Saturday (Aug. 3) at The Meadowlands. "There's nothing you can do. We just have to deal with it. "Both horses came out of their eliminations very good. I couldn't be happier with them. We need a little more luck and hopefully (the field) races to the half so we can get into it. There are a couple of horses in there that can mix it up a little bit. It's hard from out there, that's for sure. But anything can happen." Wallin grew up in Sweden, where he was driving ponies at the age of 8. Several years later, he began helping at his uncle Joakim Wallin's stable. In mid-2014, he was alerted to an opportunity to work for Ake Svanstedt's stable in the U.S. by childhood friend Oskar Florhed. Wallin spent two years with Svanstedt before deciding to go on his own. Since then, Wallin's stable has won 59 of 362 races and earned $789,548 in purses. Saturday's trip to the Oaks will put him on harness racing's big stage, not only within the sport but beyond. The Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian final will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network as part of a 90-minute show beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT). "It's very, very big for me," said Wallin, who is the only trainer with multiple horses in this year's Oaks. "You know you're doing something right. We're very lucky to get nice horses to work with. "It's tough to describe how big it is. A lot of trainers have done this longer than me and have never been to the Oaks, so I'm very fortunate and happy to be there. The whole team has worked so hard, so it feels very good for everyone to get in the final like this. It gives you a real boost, that's for sure." Queen Of Trixs finished third in her Oaks elimination, behind undefeated Millies Possesion and Evident Beauty. For the year, she has won two of six races and earned $57,125 for Mario Mazza's Mazza Racing Stables. One of her victories came in a preliminary round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes. She finished sixth in the final. "She got a little tough trip in the final," Wallin said. "These two last races, she's really improved. She is a really honest horse and very nice to be around. She is very small, but she's really, really fast. So, coming into this season we had big hopes for her. She always gives a hundred percent. When you look at her, she doesn't look like a top filly, nothing you would keep your eyes on. But she knows what to do." Queen Of Trixs raced barefoot in her Oaks elimination and Wallin plans to keep the shoes off Saturday. "That has been the plan for a couple of months, so we have prepared for that," Wallin said. "It should not be a problem. But now they say it is going to rain Saturday, so we'll see about the track. The track sometimes gets a little hard after the rain. But that's the plan at least now." Princess Deo is a newcomer to Wallin's barn, having spent the beginning of the season with trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman. The filly has raced twice for Wallin, finishing fifth in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes and third in her Oaks elimination, which was won by When Dovescry. Princess Deo started from post 10 in the elim. "I have to thank the owners for giving me the chance to train this nice filly, they could send her to anyone," said Wallin, who trains the filly for owners Deo Volente Farms, Tom Pontone, and John Fodera. "Nifty did a really good job with her all winter. He's the one that trained her, we haven't done too much." Princess Deo is winless in six races this year, but she was second in last year's Goldsmith Maid and Kindergarten Classic Series final. "You feel right away it's a special filly," Wallin said. "She has a very big personality. She wants things in her own way, you just have to listen to her. That's what the groom has done and when we drive her, we let her be. She's the boss. But you feel when you train that she is something special. She showed it last year. "We probably got her at the right time. We haven't done too much work. We do our routines, and she likes it. It feels like she is going to be better and better for each race. She hasn't raced too much this year. I wasn't sure if this race came a little too early, but she really showed that she belongs here." Racing begins at noon Saturday at The Meadowlands. For the day's complete entries, click here. Following is the field for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks. PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Southwind Casha-Scott Zeron-John Bax-15/1 2-Millies Possesion-Dexter Dunn-Jim Campbell-9/5 3-Sonnet Grace-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-15/1 4-Evident Beauty-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-7/2 5-When Dovescry-Simon Allard-Rene Allard-5/2 6-Sweet Chapter-Matt Kakaley-Blake MacIntosh-20/1 7-Asiago-Tim Tetrick-Per Engblom-15/1 8-Queen Of Trixs-Andrew McCarthy-Lucas Wallin-15/1 9-Princess Deo-Andrew McCarthy-Lucas Wallin-12/1 10-Miss Trixton-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-30/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

East Rutherford, NJ - Sixteen 3-year-old trotters entered Saturday's 94th Hambletonian Stakes at The Meadowlands, requiring two eight-horse eliminations to reduce the field to 10 for the $1 million final later that afternoon. Gimpanzee is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first elimination and Greenshoe is the 4-5 favorite in the second. The draws for the Hambletonian and companion Hambletonian Oaks, which is restricted to 3-year-old female trotters, were held Tuesday at The Meadowlands. Gimpanzee drew post No. 7 in his elimination and Greenshoe drew post No. 5. Both colts are trained by Marcus Melander. The top-five finishers from each $100,000 elimination return for the final. Millies Possesion, who won one of last week's two eliminations for the Hambletonian Oaks, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the $500,000 final. When Dovescry, the other elimination winner, is the 5-2 second choice. As elimination winners, Millies Possesion and When Dovescry drew for spots in posts one through five, with Millies Possesion getting post two and When Dovescry getting post five. The Hambletonian Day card begins at noon. The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). Greenshoe, the No. 1-ranked horse in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian, has won four of five races this year, with his only loss a second-place finish by a head to Marseille in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. Greenshoe heads to the Hambletonian off a 1:50.1 win in his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 at The Meadowlands. The time is the fastest of the season for a 3-year-old trotter. Marcus Melander trains Greenshoe for Anders Strom's Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli. Three-time Hambletonian winner Brian Sears will drive Greenshoe. Gimpanzee is undefeated in 12 career starts and will try to become only the second unbeaten horse to win the Hambletonian. Deweycheatumnhowe accomplished the feat in 2008. Gimpanzee, owned by Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's S R F Stable, was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. He also will have Sears in the sulky in his elimination. Greenshoe and Gimpanzee are two of four horses trained by the 27-year-old Melander in the Hambletonian. The others are Green Manalishi S and Gerry. Green Manalishi S, who has never finished worse than third in 14 career races, winning seven, is owned by Courant Inc. and is the 5-2 second choice in the first elimination. S R F Stable, which won the Hambletonian in 2017 with Perfect Spirit, owns Gerry. "With a horse like Greenshoe, when he's going to be the big favorite, of course it's going to be a little pressure," said Melander, who is making his third appearance in the Hambletonian. "But I can't do much more. I think I've prepared the horses the best I can. Now it's just up to the horses. I can't be more happy with them, how they feel at home, and how they've been racing. I'm excited, I have a good feeling. As long as they're fine, I think they will do a good race. "Like I said, I can't do much more. We need some racing luck, of course. There is so much that can go wrong in a race, you need a little bit of luck, a little bit of racing luck. Hopefully, we'll have that too." Other contenders include Don't Let'em, who with a 1:50.2 win in last week's Reynolds Memorial is the season's second-fastest 3-year-old trotter, hails from the stable of trainer Nancy Johansson. Don't Let'em, who is 4-1 in the second elimination, won last year's Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters on Hambletonian Day and is bidding to become the first Haughton champ to capture the Hambletonian since Muscle Hill in 2009. Marseille, trained by Ake Svanstedt, captured a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes in addition to winning the Beal Memorial. He is 5-1 in the second elimination. Svanstedt, who trained Perfect Spirit in 2017, is the only trainer in this year's Hambletonian to previously win the race. Swandre The Giant, who won a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial by a length over Green Manalishi S, is the 7-2 third choice in the first elimination. He is trained by Ron Burke. In the Hambletonian Oaks, Millies Possesion, unraced at age 2, will try to extend her career win streak to nine against a field of nine rivals. She won her Oaks elimination by a nose over Evident Beauty in 1:52.3. "I thought (Evident Beauty) had the momentum on her (in the stretch) but Millie dug in," said Jim Campbell, who trains the filly for owner Fashion Farms. "She's a true professional. She just knows what she's supposed to do." When Dovescry won her elimination by three lengths over Southwind Casha in 1:51.3. She has hit the board in all 12 lifetime starts, winning six. "She's amazing," said Simon Allard, who drives the filly for his brother Rene, and owners Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh, and Lawrence Dumain. "You could put a glass of water on her back and nothing would spill, she just trots so nice. You don't get the chance to drive horses like that every day. I'm so happy to be able to do this." Hambletonian Elimination One PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Cantab Fashion-Dexter Dunn-Jim Campbell-6/1 2-Summit In Sight-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-20/1 3-Swandre The Giant-David Miller-Ron Burke-7/2 4-Soul Strong-Dexter Dunn-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 5-Mr Vicktor-Tyler Buter-Jennifer Lappe-15/1 6-Osterc-Yannick Gingras-Per Engblom-15/1 7-Gimpanzee-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-2/1 8-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-5/2 Hambletonian Elimination Two PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Forbidden Trade-Bob McClure-Luc Blais-12/1 2-Gerry-Orjan Kihlstrom-Marcus Melander-20/1 3-Pilot Discretion-Andrew McCarthy-Tony Alagna-10/1 4-Reign Of Honor-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-20/1 5-Greenshoe-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-4/5 6-Don't Let'em-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Johansson-4/1 7-Super Schissel-Scott Zeron-Per Engblom-10/1 8-Marseille-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-5/1 Hambletonian Oaks final PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Southwind Casha-Scott Zeron-John Bax-15/1 2-Millies Possesion-Dexter Dunn-Jim Campbell-9/5 3-Sonnet Grace-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-15/1 4-Evident Beauty-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-7/2 5-When Dovescry-Simon Allard-Rene Allard-5/2 6-Sweet Chapter-Matt Kakaley-Blake MacIntosh-20/1 7-Asiago-Tim Tetrick-Per Engblom-15/1 8-Queen Of Trixs-Andrew McCarthy-Lucas Wallin-15/1 9-Princess Deo-Andrew McCarthy-Lucas Wallin-12/1 10-Miss Trixton-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-30/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

After weeks of seeing his horses at the top of the Hambletonian rankings, Anders Strom is finally just days from watching his group race in the $1 million event for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands. Strom, who races as Courant Inc., co-owns Greenshoe and Gimpanzee - who sit in the top two spots in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's final Road to the Hambletonian ratings - as well as No. 4 Green Manalishi S. Greenshoe and Gimpanzee have occupied the top positions for all 11 weeks of the rankings. All three horses are trained by Marcus Melander. "It feels just great," Strom said. "Obviously, I hoped all three would stay sound and healthy for entry into the big race and here we are. Marcus has had a good plan for the three and, so far, it has worked out just fine." Greenshoe has won four of five races this year, with his only loss a second-place finish by a head to Marseille in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. Greenshoe heads to the Hambletonian off a 1:50.1 win in his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 at The Meadowlands. The time is the fastest of the season for a 3-year-old trotter. "He is the most capable and he has matured well this season and looked better for every start," said Strom, who owns Greenshoe with former New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli. "He lost in the Beal, but I just saw that as a minor bump in the road; the horse finished fantastically and looked really sharp. "For me, he is one of those horses that there are only 10 of each century. Muscle Hill was the last one and I believe Greenshoe is of a similar caliber." Gimpanzee is undefeated in 12 career starts and will try to become only the second unbeaten horse to win the Hambletonian. Deweycheatumnhowe accomplished the feat in 2008. Gimpanzee, owned by Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's S R F Stable, was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. He is 3-for-3 this year, with all his starts in state-bred restricted races in New York. "Gimpanzee is so smart," Strom said. "He has not put one foot wrong and it will be very interesting to see him in this situation on Saturday. Even if he doesn't win the Hambletonian, I think he will be one of the top horses when we summarize the 3-year-olds toward the end of the season." Green Manalishi S has won two of four races this season. He heads to the Hambletonian off a win in a division of the Tompkins-Geers on July 20. He finished second in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, behind Swandre The Giant, and third in the Beal Memorial. The colt has finished in the top three in all 14 career races, winning seven. He is owned solely by Courant Inc. "Green Manalishi has been raced with one eye on the rest of the season; there is an option to ship him to Sweden for the $1.1 million Kriterium, which is 1-1/2 miles for Swedish-born horses that should suit him as a glove," Strom said. "But we haven't decided yet. He looks like he is trending upwards and I believe he can race well on Saturday." Sixteen horses entered the Hambletonian, so two eight-horse eliminations will be contested Saturday and the top-five finishers from each division will advance to the final later that afternoon. The Hambletonian Day card begins at noon. The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will be featured during a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). "All three horses are very strong and sound, so two heats will normally work in our favor, even if you never can be sure if the individual horse is suited for racing twice on the same day," Strom said. "Our horses have proven that they are more than able, but I have respect for the opposition; any horse can lose on the day. Fingers crossed!" by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Hightstown, NJ — Adios winner Southwind Ozzi found a spot in the top 10 and Clara Barton winner Shartin N remained No. 1 in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Southwind Ozzi joined the top 10 for the first time this season, landing at No. 10. Shartin N, who won the Clara Barton with the fastest pacing mile in Plainridge Park history, 1:49.1, stayed solidly entrenched in the top spot with 33 of 35 first-place votes and a 66-point cushion over No. 2 Atlanta. Millies Possesion, who is unbeaten in eight races, moved from No. 10 to No. 8 thanks to her win in her Hambletonian Oaks elimination. No other horses in the top 10 raced last week. 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. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 10 – 7/30/2019 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Shartin N (33) 6pm 12-11-0-0 $655,765 347 1 2 Atlanta (1) 4tm 7-6-1-0 $438,330 281 2 3 Greenshoe (1) 3tc 5-4-1-0 $326,500 276 3 4 Lather Up 4ph 9-6-0-1 $411,405 233 4 5 Bettor’s Wish 3pc 7-5-2-0 $554,630 157 5 6 Captain Crunch 3pc 6-4-0-0 $511,574 156 6 7 Gimpanzee 3tc 3-3-0-0 $161,688 108 7 8 Millies Possesion  3tf 8-8-0-0 $195,517 63 10 9 Hannelore Hanover 7tm 5-3-0-0 $79,282 60 8 10 Southwind Ozzi 3pr 6-5-1-0 $291,921 45 -- ALSO: Stonebridge Soul 36; Best In Show 32; McWicked, Western Fame 16; Guardian Angel As 13; Evident Beauty 9; Caviart Ally 8; Boadicea, When Dovescry 6; Rich And Miserable 5; Bettor Joy N, None Bettor A, Highalator, JK First Lady, Pilot Discretion, Shake That House, Tequila Monday, This Is The Plan 4; Crystal Fashion, Green Manalishi S, Sister Sledge, Six Pack 3; Courtly Choice, Jimmy Freight, Workin Ona Mystery 2; Mr Vicktor, Warrawee Ubeaut 1.

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