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Purchased for $250,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale, the 4-year-old trotter was unraced at age 2 because of immaturity, but has won five of his last eight starts dating back to August. He is 2-for-2 this season, with both victories coming in the preliminary rounds of the Super Bowl Series for 3- and 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands. Propulsion will start Saturday's $50,000 Super Bowl final from post one with driver Tim Tetrick. He is part of an entry with Blocking The Way and Opulent Yankee - a group that has been tabbed the 4-5 morning line favorite. "He's a horse we always had high hopes for, he just was really immature and needed some time," said Alagna, who trains Propulsion for owners Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco, Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, and the partnership of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. "Spending (a lot) of money doesn't guarantee they'll be good right away -- or ever -- but he's a very high-speed horse. He had some minor growing pains and it just took him a little while to put it all together. He reminds me a lot of (late stakes-winner) Modern Family as a young horse. He's got a lot of potential." Propulsion flashed that potential in October when he beat stakes-winner Odds On Amethyst by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:52.3 in a late closer at The Red Mile. A son of stallion Muscle Hill out of the 2007 Hambletonian Oaks-winning Danae, Propulsion (originally named Deyrolle) is a half-brother to stakes-winner D'Orsay and his famly also includes 1974 Horse of the Year, and successful broodmare, Delmonica Hanover. "After he won at Lexington, we knew this series was coming up, so we thought it would be a good place to get him back started on his 4-year-old career," Alagna said. "We shut him down so he would fit the series (conditions) and I think a lot of people keep these series in mind in the fall when they're deciding whether to go on or stop." Propulsion, who has won five of 10 career starts and earned $43,790, also is eligible to the Charles Singer Memorial Series and Shiaway St Pat Series at the Meadowlands. If all goes well, the horse could then head to the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters, which features three preliminary rounds followed by a $250,000 final. "He has the potential to be a Grand Circuit horse, he really does," Alagna said. "That's why these series are great for a horse like him because he can go through these three series at the Meadowlands and then have a little bit of a break and maybe go into that new Graduate Series. "It gives him a lot of nice starts against his own kind before he'd ever have to go against the better horses. But he'll have an opportunity and hopefully everything will go that way." Propulsion faces a tough group in the Super Bowl final. Opulent Yankee, who starts from post 10, also won both his preliminary races in the series. Other division winners JL Cruze, Two Hip Dip and Blocking The Way drew posts four through six, respectively. "I think it's a very tough series," Alagna said. "We've been tinkering with him a little, making some adjustments with him every start, and hopefully he'll be at his best for the final." Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also features the $56,000 Escort Series final for 3- and 4-year-old male pacers and the $47,600 Worldly Beauty Series final for 3- and 4-year-old female pacers. The Worldly Beauty, on paper, shapes up as a showdown between Alagna's Witch Dali and Ron Burke's Donttellruss. Last week, Witch Dali had a five-race win streak snapped by Donttellruss, who posted a one-length victory in 1:51.3. Witch Dali, a daughter of Dali out of Whitesand Gem, missed nearly all of last season because of a foot issue. She returned in December and swept the Niagara Series at Woodbine, capturing the final in a series-record 1:51.2. "She had a foot issue that wouldn't resolve itself, so we just waited on her," said Alagna, who owns the 4-year-old mare with Brad Grant. "We just took our time and did the right thing by her, and she's paying us back so far. "She's been fantastic. She cut the mile (last week) and Donttellruss sat on her back and beat her, but it was more so the fact our mare was hot the other night. It's the first time she's really been overly aggressive and we made some changes on her this week for the final and I think she'll bounce right back. She came out of the race good and we're in good shape." Donttellruss will start the Worldly Beauty final from post six with driver Corey Callahan and is the 6-5 morning line favorite. Witch Dali will leave from post 10 with Tetrick and is the 9-5 second choice. By Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications/USTA    

Harness racing trainer Julie Miller thought Opulent Yankee might be well suited for series racing this winter at the Meadowlands, and so far the 4-year-old trotter has made good on the trainer's beliefs. Opulent Yankee, who joined Miller's stable in November, won both of his starts in the preliminary rounds of the Super Bowl Series for 3- and 4-year-old trotters at the Big M and is likely to be among the favorites in Saturday's $50,000 final. Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also features the $56,000 Escort Series final for 3- and 4-year-old male pacers and the $47,600 Worldly Beauty Series final for 3- and 4-year-old female pacers. Opulent Yankee will start the Super Bowl from post 10 with driver Andy Miller. Propulsion, who also won two preliminary divisions in the series, will leave from post one with Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Tony Alagna. Other division winners JL Cruze, Two Hip Dip and Blocking The Way drew posts four through six, respectively. Jeff Gural's Little E LLC bred and co-owns Opulent Yankee with Arthur Geiger, Jason Settlemoir and David Stolz. Gural also is among the owners of Propulsion, with Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco and the partnership of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. "I've been really happy with him," Miller said about Opulent Yankee. "Mr. Gural sent him to us after Lexington and we evaluated him and we told him we really liked the horse. We thought he could be a major contender in the winter series at the Meadowlands and it's proven to be true. He's been good in the first two legs and hopefully he'll be right there for the final." Opulent Yankee (Muscles Yankee-Opulent Bluestone) was winless in eight starts at age 2, but finished third three times, including in a division of the Reynolds Memorial Stakes at Vernon Downs. He went off stride in his 2014 debut, in the Charles Smith Trot at Freehold in September, but rebounded to win in 1:51.4 in a late closer at The Red Mile two weeks later. After two more starts in October, Opulent Yankee was given time off. He was entered to sell in the November Standardbred Horse Sale's Mixed Sale, but was withdrawn. "He has a nice way of going and a great gait to him; a good attitude and nice size and conformation," Miller said. "When he was in Lexington he showed some speed, so I felt like he was definitely a horse that could be competitive at this level. If they show a little bit of talent at 2 and 3, there is something to work with from the get-go. "The first time Andy and I trained Opulent Yankee, I said to Andy that I hoped Mr. Gural didn't want to sell (Opulent Yankee) because I thought he would be something nice to hang onto for the 4-year-old year. I don't know if he can step up to being a Grand Circuit 4-year-old, but for what we're asking of him right now, I definitely think he's a major contender." Miller is no stranger to winter success at the Meadowlands. In 2013, she finished 1-2 in the Super Bowl with Windsun Galliano and Helios. Last year, she saw Perfect Alliance win the Singer Memorial Series and Bambino Glide capture two legs of the Horse & Groom Series. And in 2009, Lucky Jim won the Horse & Groom on his way to dominating the summer and fall open stakes and a Dan Patch Award as best older male trotter. Opulent Yankee's ownership group is the same partnership that raced Perfect Alliance last year. Opulent Yankee won his first round of the Super Bowl by 5-3/4 lengths over Annapolis in 1:55 and won his second round by a half-length over JL Cruze in 1:53.2. "I don't want to date myself, but when I first raced in the Super Bowl, they were going in (1):56 and (1):57 to win it," Miller said. "Now it's a whole different level of horses that are eligible to those races. It makes for competitive racing, which is what we're all looking for. There are no easy spots in these series. They've really developed a nice program for these horses. "This final should be a great race. It's going to be the draw and how the trip works out. But I have a lot of confidence in Andy and Opulent Yankee." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

For the fourth time in his Hall of Fame career, Jimmy Takter is the Trainer of the Year as voted upon by the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Also voted a Dan Patch Award, as Driver of the Year, was Yannick Gingras, who led all drivers in purses this season with more than $17 million. Takter received 84 of 140 votes for Trainer of the Year, finishing ahead of Ron Burke, who got 56 votes. Gingras was the only driver nominated for Driver of the Year by USHWA's chapters. Despite starting horses only 729 times through Dec. 21, Takter's stable earned a career-best $13.35 million, for an average of more than $18,300 per start. Takter, 54, won this year's Hambletonian with Trixton, a horse he also drove to the victory, and the Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit. Takter became only the second trainer to win both races in the same year, joining Jan Johnson from 1988. The Hambletonian was the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown and Takter-trained Nuncio swept the remaining two legs, the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot. In addition, Takter won three Breeders Crown trophies, with 2-year-old male trotter Pinkman, 3-year-old male trotter Father Patrick, and 3-year-old female trotter Shake It Cerry. Shake It Cerry was named the Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year while Pinkman and Father Patrick received divisional honors. Takter dominated the 3-year-old trotting ranks, as he had the top three money-earning colts (Father Patrick, $1.69 million, Nuncio, $1.45 million and Trixton, $893,370) and the top two money-earning fillies (Shake It Cerry, $1.23 million and Lifetime Pursuit, $795,216). Father Patrick and Nuncio made Takter the first trainer in history to have two million-dollar trotters in the same division in the same year. Among Takter's top pacers were 3-year-old male stakes-winners Lyonssomewhere, who captured the Cane Pace, Somewhere In L A and Tellitlikeitis, along with 3-year-old filly stakes-winner Uffizi Hanover. Takter's previous Trainer of the Year honors came in 2010, 2000 and 1996. The 35-year-old Gingras has established career highs in purses, with $17.29 million, and wins, with 555. His earnings led all drivers in North America and were more than $5 million ahead of second place. Never in history has a driver finished at least $5 million in front of his nearest competitor. In addition, Gingras' purses were fourth highest in history for a driver. Gingras won four Breeders Crown titles, victories that were among 15 triumphs worth more than $300,000 this year. Those 15 lucrative wins came with nine different horses and included the Canadian Trotting Classic, Hambletonian Oaks, Little Brown Jug and Cane Pace. A native of Quebec, Gingras was USHWA's 2003 Rising Star Award winner. Takter and Gingras will receive their awards at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet, to be held Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Doubletree Hilton Orlando at Sea World. by Ken Weingartner, for the US Harness Writers Association    

Aaron Merriman and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. are rivals when it comes to racing, but friends away from the track. The two are battling for the No. 1 spot in wins among all harness racing drivers in North America, with Merriman holding a 28-victory advantage, 799-771, heading into Friday's action. Wrenn won last year's dash title with 714 wins. He is the leading driver at Northfield Park, with 597 triumphs, and Merriman is second there with 447. Merriman also competes regularly at The Meadows, where he is fourth in the standings with 318 wins. The 36-year-old Merriman was the leading driver in North America in June 2010 when he broke both wrists and his left elbow in a racing accident that sidelined him for much of the remainder of the year. He was sixth in wins last year, with 568, and fifth in 2012, with 605. This year, Merriman is on pace to become the first driver since Tony Morgan in 2008 to win more than 800 races in a season. Merriman, who has won 6,923 races in his career, has set a career high with $6.31 million in purses this year. The 28-year-old Wrenn was sidelined for much of January because of wrist surgery and also endured the loss of his father to cancer in May. Wrenn changed his colors to his father's black and maroon in tribute to his dad. Despite the hardships, Wrenn this season joined a small group of drivers to win at least 700 races in back-to-back years. The others are Tim Tetrick, Tony Morgan, Dave Palone, Walter Case Jr., Jack Moiseyev, Herve Filion, and Mike Lachance. Tetrick and Morgan are the only drivers to do it more than once and Morgan is the only one to extend the streak beyond two years -- winning at least 700 races from 2005-08 and also 1995-97. Merriman and Wrenn recently spoke separately to Harness Racing Communications' Ken Weingartner about their campaigns, their friendship, and the chase for No. 1. Their remarks are combined in the following "conversation." KW: Aaron, how do you feel heading into the last few weeks? Is winning the dash title something you think about? AM: I'm one that doesn't even want to look at it. I just like to do my everyday thing. It's definitely not over until the last day. Ronnie has the opportunity to win races in bunches. When you have a guy that can win six or eight or 10 races, you never think it's over. There are a lot of race days left. We're both going to have to be on our toes, that's for sure. That's one thing about this, there are no days off. KW: Ronnie, can you catch him? RW: There's always the chance, but it's going to be hard because not only am I down (28) wins but he's racing doubleheaders so I have to win double every day to what he does. But there's always a shot. It's in the back of my mind. Aaron is definitely on top of his game this year. He's having a great year. I'm happy with finishing second if that's the way it ends up. KW: How do you look at your season overall? AM: It's been a very successful year. I got to race in some of the signature races in the sport, and that really means more to me than winning a lot of races. Just being able to participate and be competitive against the best horses and best drivers -- and really make a good showing for the state of Ohio and myself and the drivers at Northfield Park that I feel I represent. RW: I'm very fortunate. When I moved to Ohio I was given the opportunity to drive at Northfield and drive for some well-respected trainers. Then Virgil (Morgan Jr.) gave me the opportunity to drive most of his horses at Scioto and that helped me break through there. I'm always aiming to do better. Next year I hope I have an even better year than this year. Maybe I can get a nice Grand Circuit horse or some nice sire stakes horses. I'm very happy with where I am. It's definitely been a rough year. A lot happened to me this year in my life with my dad passing away in the spring. It was definitely tough. But that makes you stronger. KW: With the passing of your dad, how did it affect you and your focus? RW: It was pretty difficult, I'm not going to lie. Some days it still is; it's still pretty fresh. As the year has gone on, I've gotten stronger. I feel like it's made me a better driver in a way because it's given me some perspective. There are way more important things in life than racing and sometimes you get caught up in winning races. It's our livelihood, but there are more important things. It helps me to relax and not take things too seriously. I think it helps me perform better on the racetrack. KW: Has it inspired you? RW: Definitely. I made the switch to his colors and I think that helps give me some motivation too. I've had a lot of starts this year and I was lucky enough to have a good year. Hopefully I can continue; I don't plan on slowing down. Hopefully I can compete on this level for many years. Things are really looking up in Ohio, so it seems like a pretty good place to be racing right now. KW: Aaron, what does it mean to you to be in this position after coming back from the accident in 2010? AM: It's a blessing to be in this position again. At one point when I was getting ready to go into surgery, I didn't even know if I was going to drive again. That's the truth. It might have taken a few years, but it's just a blessing to be back in this position. It's something I always wanted, to win the dash title. I hope it happens. (In 2010) I felt really confident and I was just on an unbelievable roll. It felt like I could do no wrong. God had other plans, but it's made me a better person and made me stronger. It's made me really appreciate things, that's for sure. KW: What has been the highlight of your season? AM: Driving in the Hambletonian, for sure. (Merriman finished fourth with Il Sogno Dream.) It was just a surreal experience for me. And the support I received. Not many people get to drive in the Hambletonian, it's one race a year. I've won a lot of races and gotten recognition, but that was my defining moment this year. RW: I think probably my favorite race was when I set the world record with Victory Is Coming. She trotted in (1):51 at Scioto. That's pretty cool to be able to set a world record. I never imagined I would be able to, and she's just an amazing horse. I was just thankful to be able to drive her. I have to thank the trainer (Ammon Hershberger) and owners (Betty and John Shaw) for giving me a shot with her. She had a great year and set track records at Northfield, Dayton and Scioto. Just being able to drive her made the year a little more special. KW: How would you describe your relationship with each other? RW: We're very good friends. Racing against each other almost every night, we're able to get to know one another, and when we raced at Scioto we roadtripped together from Northfield, which gave us a chance to get to know each other more. It's pretty cool that we're Nos. 1 and 2 in the country and we race at the same track. I know racing against him makes me a better driver because he's an amazing driver. I have to be on my 'A' game to even keep up with him. I think it helps us get the best out of each other. He always aims to beat me, and I always aim to beat him. I think it kind of makes us better drivers. AM: I think so too, especially when you can kind of needle each other a little bit. Over this last year, or year and a half, we've gotten to be pretty close. I consider him one of my best friends. He's just a great kid. It makes it more competitive, but it might make it easier if the other wins (the dash title). I'm sure we'll be happy for each other. He did it last year and, like I said, this kid can win races in bunches. He's very, very consistent. I'm just happy that he came here. He's been a good friend, he's been a true friend, and I wouldn't want to be in it with anybody else. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

The announcements of the 2014 Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be made in a special live webstream on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 18. The announcements will be made at Victory Sports Bar at the Meadowlands and streamed live on the racetrack's website www.playmeadowlands.com. Voting for the 2014 Dan Patch Awards, which honor the champion harness horses of the year as voted by members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and the American Harness Racing Secretaries, will close on Tuesday morning, Dec. 16. The six trotting divisional Dan Patch winners will be announced via a press release at noon on Dec. 16, with the six pacing divisional Dan Patch winners announced at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 17. The final three awards will be announced at 1 p.m. at the press luncheon. USHWA will also announce in the coming weeks its human award winners, including the Proximity Award, which is second only to induction into the Hall of Fame. While Yannick Gingras has already been named the unanimous winner as the 2014 Driver of the Year, other awards still to be announced include Trainer of the Year, Owner of the Year, Breeder of the Year, Good Guy, Unsung Hero, Rising Star and Breakthrough. If attending the announcement luncheon, please RSVP to Jenn Bongiorno at Jbongiorno@playmeadowlands.com. If not, watch the live stream at www.playmeadowlands.com. All honorees will be recognized at USHWA's annual awards dinner scheduled for Sunday night, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Doubletree Hilton at Sea World in Orlando, Fla. For more information, including directions on making hotel reservations, please go to www.ushwa.org. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA  

Horse owner Ed James figures it's best to do a lot of listening and limit his talking. So James listened when he was advised that McWicked was the best horse in the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale's Mixed Sale. And his response was succinct. "I said, OK I'll buy him," James recalled, laughing. "I make it simple." James, who races as S S G Stables, bought McWicked for $210,000. He put the 3-year-old pacer in the care of trainer Casie Coleman and the colt has won 11 of 22 races, hit the board a total of 20 times, and earned $1.32 million. His victories include the Breeders Crown, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Delvin Miller Adios, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. On Sunday, McWicked will start from post four with driver David Miller in the $301,560 Progress Pace at Dover Downs in Delaware. McWicked is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line behind 7-5 favorite JK Endofanera, who drew post two with driver Yannick Gingras. The six-horse Progress Pace field also includes Big Boy Dreams, National Debt, Somewhere In L A, and All Bets Off. McWicked, who was supplemented to the race for $25,000, won this past Sunday's $35,000 Progress Pace Preview by two lengths over JK Endofanera in 1:48.4. The stakes record for the Progress Pace is 1:49, set in 2012 by Heston Blue Chip. "I've been in this business for 58 years and never had a horse this good," the 83-year-old James said about McWicked. "I have no concern at all with him. I trust in the ability he has to be as good as the next best one. I think David gave him a great drive the other night. Hopefully he can do it again." James, who is the president of SSG Gloves, purchased McWicked following a 2-year-old campaign in which the colt won three of 10 starts and $179,617 while in the stable of trainer Julie Miller. He turned over the horse to trainer Jim McDonald, who prepped McWicked for his 3-year-old season, and then to Coleman. "Casie said, 'This is a real good horse. I can make him a great horse.' So she did," James said. "I'm not that smart as far as horses go. But I'm smart as far as people go. And I'm fortunate enough to know good people and I'm fortunate enough that they'll take my horses. I've had very good luck. "I don't say much of anything to my trainers, which they appreciate," he added. "My trainers never hear from me, unless they call me." McWicked leads all 3-year-old pacers in earnings, followed by North America Cup winner JK Endofanera, who has banked $1.02 million. Messenger Stakes winner All Bets Off is third on the list, with $911,425. McWicked's only off-the-board finishes were a fourth in the North America Cup final, after winning his elimination, and a fifth in the Little Brown Jug final. "He had a little bit of road trouble in the North America Cup, but that's OK," James said. "I never did drive, I have no intentions of learning to drive, so I don't tell anybody how to drive." McWicked won seven of eight starts between June 21 and Sept. 7, then was winless in his next seven races before capturing the Breeders Crown on Nov. 22 at the Meadowlands. He has raced on Lasix his three most recent starts, picking up two wins and a second. "The horse came back to where he was and he's doing exactly the same thing he used to," said James, whose other top horses include millionaire Hyperion Hanover. "I thought when we started out the year he'd end up one of the top horses of the year. Now with the slump he had, it may not come out that way. That's up to the judges. "I'll appreciate (divisional honors) if it comes, but mainly for the benefit of the trainers." One more stakes event, the Cleveland Classic on Dec. 12 at Northfield Park, remains on the schedule for the 3-year-old male pacers following the Progress Pace. McWicked is not eligible to the race, but could be supplemented for $15,000. "Casie hasn't decided if he's going to race," James said. "If she wants to race him again after this one, I don't particularly like half-mile tracks, but that doesn't mean she can't race him there if she thinks he's the best." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Freehold, NJ --- Undefeated 2-year-old female pacer JK She’salady is the No. 1-ranked horse in the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll for 2014. She is followed by 3-year-old female trotter Shake It Cerry and 3-year-old male trotters Father Patrick and Nuncio. Shake It Cerry, Father Patrick and Nuncio are from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter; JK She’salady is from the stable of trainer Nancy Johansson, who is Takter’s daughter. Eight-year-old male trotter Sebastian K completes the top five. Sweet Lou won last weekend’s TVG Free For All Series Championship for pacers and received four first-place votes. The 5-year-old male pacer moved up a spot to sixth in the poll. Also winning was 3-year-old male pacer McWicked, who captured the Progress Pace Preview. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes this month on all divisional winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. All winners will be announced on Dec. 18. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 29 – 12/2/2014 Rank Name (1st Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 JK She’salady (26) 2pf 12-12-0-0 $883,330 330 1 2 Shake It Cerry (3) 3tf 17-15-0-1 $1,230,411 293 2 3 Father Patrick (2) 3tc 17-12-3-0 $1,693,081 249 4 4 Nuncio 3tc 17-11-5-1 $1,458,071 198 5 5 Sebastian K 8th 13-8-2-0 $663,853 194 3 6 Sweet Lou (4) 5ph 19-11-3-1 $1,361,433 185 7 7 Mission Brief 2tf 13-9-0-0 $591,070 157 6 8 McWicked 3pc 22-11-5-4 $1,322,157 81 8 9 Trixton 3tc 11-8-1-1 $893,370 52 10 10 Always B Miki 3pc 19-12-4-0 $791,482 50 9 Also: Artspeak (39), Commander Crowe, Pinkman (25), JK Endofanera (11), Limelight Beach, Maven (10), Intimidate (3), Color’s A Virgin, In The Arsenal, Modern Family, Wild Honey (2), Creatine, E L Titan, Freaky Feet Pete, Lifetime Pursuit, Natural Herbie (1). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

From afar, he might not appear the easiest to love. But it didn't take him long to steal Ida Nilsen's heart. Archie is just that way. For the last five years, Nilsen has been the caretaker of world renowned trotter Arch Madness, aka Archie, in the stable of trainer Trond Smedshammer. On Saturday night, Nilsen and Arch Madness went to the races together for the final time. On Monday, Nilsen said an emotional goodbye. Nilsen's work visa expires this week and the 29-year-old native of Norway returned to her homeland Tuesday. She was undecided if she would remain there or come back to the U.S. sometime in the future. "I don't know what I'm going to do," Nilsen said Monday afternoon. "I'm just going to go home and see what kinds of opportunities are thrown at me." Her opportunity to work and travel with Arch Madness, she added, was "truly a fairytale." Nilsen arrived at Smedshammer's stable seven years ago after deciding to leave Norway when friend Maria Kristensen - Arch Madness' previous caretaker - told her how much she enjoyed working in the States. "I always wanted to come here and when she told me how great it was I made up my mind," Nilsen said. "It was the best decision I ever made." When Kristensen left the stable in 2009, Nilsen took over as Arch Madness' caretaker. But it wasn't love at first sight. "I didn't really care much for him because I saw him in the barn with Maria and he was very spoiled," Nilsen said, adding with a laugh, "Kind of like the way he is with me now - and everyone else probably sees it, but now I don't see it. "It didn't take me long before I fell in love with him. It's just the way he is. When he lets you get close to him, he's got a great personality. There's just no one like him. To everyone else, he just seems like an old grump, but he is very great, not only on the racetrack, but to be around in the barn as a horse. "He knows people. He's very smart like that. The way he acts when he sees me, I fell in love with that." Arch Madness won his first start, an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot, with Nilsen by his side and finished second in the Maple Leaf Trot final. During their ensuing time together, Nilsen saw Arch Madness win numerous races, but none more emotional than his triumph in the 2011 Oslo Grand Prix. Smedshammer, also from Norway, was unable to travel home for the race because of paperwork delays for his visa. "It was a lot of pressure to race a horse in that race," Nilsen said. "Everyone dreams of racing in that race, and I got to race in it - and we won it. Then I cried. I cried until after the winner's circle. "To bring a horse like him to my home country, that was really very special. Everyone expected us to do well, and he did great." For his career, Arch Madness has won 36 races and $4.28 million in purses for owners Marc Goldberg and Willow Pond LLC. The gelded son of Balanced Image-Armbro Archer ranks No. 6 in earnings among all trotters in history, and second to only Moni Maker among trotters that raced the majority of their careers in North America. His top triumphs came in the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-olds, 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, 2011 Oslo Grand Prix, 2010 Cutler Memorial, 2009 Credit Winner, and 2013 Allerage Open Trot. He finished second in Sweden's Elitloppet in 2012 and 2013. He also finished second twice in the Breeders Crown Open, in 2008 and 2009, and twice in the Maple Leaf Trot, in 2009 and 2011. "Not everyone gets the chance to take care of a horse like this," Nilsen said. "I was really lucky. Thanks to him, I've seen so much and been to so many places. "To see how special it is for Trond and the owners, and the way other people love him, is great. I love reading the comments on his Facebook page and seeing that people care about him too. He deserves that. He hasn't been the best one every year, but he's showed up for so many years. They don't do that, the other ones. He's just a really great horse and I love that people love him for it and see him that way." But probably no one sees him the same way as Nilsen. As she prepared for Arch Madness' start in last weekend's TVG Free For All Series Championship for trotters at the Meadowlands, she posted the following on her own Facebook page: "All fairytales have an ending, and this is ours! On our way to the Meadowlands for our last race together! Thank you for everything Arch, you have given me the time of my life and I have so many great memories. You will always be the love of my life and my everything." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Freehold, NJ --- Undefeated JK She’salady remained atop the poll after capturing the $500,000 Breeders Crown for juvenile filly pacers in record-setting fashion on Saturday, November 22 at the Meadowlands. Artspeak dropped from the Top 10. Next week will be the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll of the year. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all divisional winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. All winners will be announced at that time. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 28 – 11/25/2014 Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 JK She’salady (25) 2pf 12-12-0-0 $883,330 323 1 2 Shake It Cerry (3) 3tf 17-15-0-1 $1,230,411 284 4 3 Sebastian K (5) 8th 12-8-2-0 $663,853 262 2 4 Father Patrick (2) 3tc 17-12-3-0 $1,693,081 254 5 5 Nuncio 3tc 17-11-5-1 $1,458,071 186 3 6 Mission Brief 2tf 13-9-0-0 $591,070 160 10 7 Sweet Lou 5ph 18-10-3-1 $1,111,433 115 6 8 McWicked 3pc 21-10-5-4 $1,304,657 59 -- 9 Always B Miki 3pc 19-12-4-0 $791,482 57 7 10 Trixton 3tc 11-8-1-1 $893,370 53 9 Also: Artspeak (51), Commander Crowe (31), Pinkman (29), Maven (22), JK Endofanera (17), Limelight Beach (11), In The Arsenal, Lifetime Pursuit, Modern Family (2), Color’s A Virgin, E L Titan, Freaky Feet Pete, Natural Herbie, Thinking Out Loud (1). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

The deadline for entries for the 2014 John Hervey Awards, which honor the best of harness racing journalism, is Dec. 15. Entries will be accepted in four categories - news/commentary writing, feature writing, television, and the George Smallsreed Awards for race and feature photography. Winners will be recognized at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's annual Dan Patch Awards festivities Feb. 22 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Seaworld. Judges in each category will select a winner and, where appropriate, up to two honorable mentions. Entries published or aired between Dec. 1, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2014 are eligible. There are no entry fees or cash prizes. The rules are available by request to Ken Weingartner, chair of the Hervey Committee, at ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. Email entries should be sent to ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com Mailed entries should be sent to Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications, 49 E. Main St. #5, Freehold, NJ 07728. If using an overnight service, please indicate that no signature is required. Rules for the 2014 John Hervey Awards The best of harness racing journalism in 2013 will be honored with the 52nd edition of the John Hervey Awards for writing, the 30th edition of the Broadcasters Awards for electronic media as well as the 14th edition of the George Smallsreed Awards for photography. Please read these rules carefully. Failure to follow instructions may result in disqualification of the entry. Entries will be judged in the following categories -- all must be in English: 1. News & Commentary Writing (hard news, opinion pieces and essays) 2. Feature Writing (articles not written on overnight deadline; involving background research or expanded profiles -- not Q&As) 3. Television (a featured or live racing segment no longer than 10 minutes which must have aired on a network, local or cable station or have been included in a racetrack's simulcasting presentation) 4. Racing Photography 5. Feature Photography Winners will receive a plaque/trophy as well as two dinner tickets to the Dan Patch Awards dinner on Feb. 22. There are no cash prizes. The decisions of the Hervey Committee and the judges are final. Photo and written submissions -- news or feature categories -- must have appeared in a paid-circulation publication or on the website that is the same-name affiliate of a paid-circulation publication, recognized broadcast news organization or established industry/news website. Content that appeared on personal websites, message boards or lists and similar entities is not valid for inclusion in the competition. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. Television entries must have aired on a commercial or public television/radio station or be part of a racetrack's simulcasting broadcast. Additionally, audio/podcasts are eligible if they were posted to the websites of recognized news organizations or established industry websites. Documentaries or other long-form productions are not eligible although one segment of that documentary, edited only to fit the length limitations of no more than 10 minutes, may be submitted for consideration. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. General Rules The decision for eligibility of Internet posted materials is at the discretion of the Hervey Committee and all decisions are final. These awards are not open to entries which are fiction or were prepared for commercial purposes (for advertisements/promo/publicity purposes). There is a limit of one submission per person in any one category. You may enter more than one category, but not with the same submission. The Hervey Committee, at its discretion, may disqualify an entry at any time in the process, and reserves the right not to bestow an award in a particular category based on the quality and quantity of entries. An entry may only be submitted in one category and the category for which someone is submitting must be clearly indicated. What You Must Submit All entries must originate with the author/photographer/producer and must include a signed cover letter expressing the wish to enter materials in the contest and granting permission for the materials to be used for promoting the awards in press releases. The letter must also include the following contact information for the writer/producer/photographer: name, full address, telephone numbers (home, office, cell and fax) and email address. The letter must also include the date that the media organization published/aired the submission and specify the category for which the entry is being submitted. All the rules for submission must be followed. Editors may submit on behalf of authors provided that the cover letter is provided with information on the writer/producer/photographer as well as the person submitting the entry. All other third-party entries will be rejected. Rules for Submission All written entries -- news or feature -- must specify the category (news or feature) for which the author wishes to be considered. All print entries must include both a tearsheet of the entry (a PDF is acceptable via electronic submission) as it appeared in print and an electronic or emailed version that is plain text, without identifying information (no bylines, publication names, graphs, photos or other graphic elements). The emailed (or electronic) file must be named for the author so that it is easily identifiable as being by the author. The plain text version must be as it was published. The tearsheet from the publication must show the author's name, title and date of publication. Tearsheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a "screen print" of the document. At the discretion of the Hervey Committee, an editor or similar senior official of the publication or website may be required to provide a letter attesting that the document is the work of the author who submitted it and it appeared on the website or in the publication on the date in question. If the author wishes to submit a multi-part series, it must be where the parts were published at the same time (sidebars with a primary story) or where it covers a single theme over the course of two or three publication dates. Multi-part submissions are not to exceed three parts. All television entries must not exceed 10 minutes and must not contain commercials. Each submission (one per person or group) should have its own cover letter. Each submission should be in the form of a DVD. Please provide two DVDs of each submission. The submission may be a segment from a live show or a pre-taped feature but must be submitted "as broadcasted" and not edited other than to meet the length restriction and to remove commercials. Commercials or promotional videos are not eligible. A single segment of a documentary may be submitted but not a full-length documentary. Photography entries must be in the form of two non-returnable 8-by-10 prints of each photograph as it appeared in print, with no identifying information on the front or back along with the cover letter that provides all the identifying information. The two prints should be accompanied by a single tearsheet of the published photo, showing the date, name of publication and photographer's name and info. Tearsheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a "screen print" with an accompanying letter from the editor or similar senior official of the website, attesting to who submitted it and that it appeared on the date indicated in connection with a news-related story. Each photographer may submit one entry in each the race and feature categories. Additionally, the winners (and any honorable mentions) must be able to provide a JPG version of the photograph upon request from the Hervey Committee. Photographs should not be digitally enhanced beyond the basics needed to achieve realistic color balance and sharpness. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification. Deadline All entries must be in the hands of Hervey Chairman Ken Weingartner by 5 p.m. on Dec. 15. This is not a postmark deadline but actually when the entry must be received. You are urged to submit early to avoid missing the deadline. Where to send the entries Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications, 49 E. Main St. #5, Freehold, NJ 07728. If using an overnight service, please indicate that no signature is required. Where to e-mail the digital portion of the entry ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. Questions may be sent to Ken Weingartner at the above e-mail address. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA  

The race for divisional honors could become clearer, or further muddled, depending on the outcome of Saturday's $531,250 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male harness racing pacers at the Meadowlands. No fewer than eight horses in the 3-year-old male pacing division can claim at least one major open stakes triumph this season. The Pacing Triple Crown races - the Cane Pace, Little Brown Jug and Messenger - were won by Lyonssomewhere, Limelight Beach and All Bets Off, respectively. Among the richest remaining open stakes for 3-year-old male pacers, the North America Cup went to JK Endofanera, the Meadowlands Pace to He's Watching, the Max C. Hempt Memorial and Delvin Miller Adios to McWicked, the Monument Circle to Always B Miki, and the Matron to Big Boy Dreams. Always B Miki, JK Endofanera, Limelight Beach and McWicked are among the 10 horses in Saturday's Breeders Crown. So is Luck Be Withyou, who won last season's Breeders Crown for 2-year-olds, as well as Little Brown Jug runner-up Let's Drink On It. Limelight Beach and Always B Miki won their respective Breeders Crown eliminations last weekend. Always B Miki, who won by a neck over JK Endofanera in 1:50 for his fifth consecutive victory, drew post No. 4 and is the 8-5 morning line favorite. Limelight Beach, who won by a half-length over McWicked in 1:49.3, got post five and is the 3-1 third choice behind 5-2 JK Endofanera. Although the Progress Pace and Cleveland Classic follow the Breeders Crown, many will look to Saturday night to provide some clarity about the division picture. "I think Always B Miki has come on really good in the fall," said Yannick Gingras, who drives rival Limelight Beach. "If he wins, I think it gives him the division. The same thing for JK Endofanera. Limelight Beach, if he wins this, I think there will be talk there too. After that, I'm not sure." Always B Miki is a homebred son of Always A Virgin-Artstopper from Joe Hurley's Roll The Dice Stable and named in honor of Hurley's wife. Hurley owns the colt with Mitchel Skolnick's multi-partnered Bluewood Stable and Martin Granoff's Val D'Or Farms. His victories include his Crown elim, Monument Circle, Indiana Sire Stakes championship, and divisions of the Tattersalls Pace and Bluegrass Stakes. He has finished no worse than second in 12 consecutive starts, winning nine. For the season, he has won 12 of 19 starts and $791,482. One of his runner-up finishes came to He's Watching in world-record-equaling 1:46.4 in the Meadowlands Pace despite starting from post nine and racing on the outside - three to four wide at times - the entire way. "That was probably the biggest mile I've ever seen a horse go," said David Miller, who drives Always B Miki for six-time Breeders Crown-winning trainer Joe Holloway. "It was unbelievable." Always B Miki was supplemented to the Breeders Crown for $62,500. "It is unbelievably unexpressionable; that's all I can say," Hurley said about having the Breeders Crown favorite. "It's ecstasy." When Miller was asked if Always B Miki compared favorably to No Pan Intended, a 3-year-old colt pacer Miller drove to Horse of the Year honors in 2003, he replied with a grin, "Oh yeah, for sure." Always B Miki's half-sister, Yagonnakissmeornot, is the favorite in Saturday's $281,250 Breeders Crown Mare Pace. But family connections are not limited to Always B Miki as JK Endofanera's full sister, JK She'salady, is the favorite in Saturday's $500,000 Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly pacers. JK Endofanera is a homebred son of Art Major-Presidential Lady owned by Alan, Ron and Steve Katz's 3 Brothers Stables. He was named to honor the Katz's late father, Jack Katz, as well as veterinarian Dr. Stephen P. Dey II, who passed away the day the horse was foaled at the Dey family's Heritage Hill Farm. The colt is trained by six-time Breeders Crown winner Ron Burke and driven by Ron Pierce. JK Endofanera's wins this year include the North America Cup, American-National Stakes and a division of the Tattersalls Pace. He has won 10 of 17 starts this year and $956,145. "I couldn't be happier with the way the horse raced (in his elimination) or the way I raced him," Pierce said. "He had a lot of pace. I'm very happy with him and I feel very confident going into next week. I really feel good about him and the trip he got. Even though I was on top at the half, he was well within himself." Limelight Beach, a son of Somebeachsomewhere-Benear, was winless in his first 12 starts this season before capturing his opening heat and the final of the Little Brown Jug in September. The gelding was purchased by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and M1 Stable in July, with one of the original owners, Wingfield Brothers, remaining on board. In seven starts beginning with Jug Day, Limelight Beach has five wins and a second-place finish. His only off-the-board finish came in the American-National Stakes when he went off stride and was fifth. "He jumped something," Gingras said. "I'm not sure what he saw. I didn't see anything, but he saw something." Limelight Beach has made 12 starts for Burke, finishing worse than third only twice. He finished fourth in his first race, was found to have bled, and added Lasix for subsequent starts. His wins include divisions of the Circle City and Bluegrass Stakes, plus his elimination for the Breeders Crown. "Even two weeks before the Jug you could tell he was coming around a little bit," Gingras said. "He was racing better and better every week, the addition of Lasix I think helped him, and he was finally healthy. It all came together in the Jug and he's been really good since." McWicked, who is 6-1 on the morning line, also could make a statement for year-end honors. The son of McArdle-Western Sahara has nine victories in 20 starts, including a world-record 1:47.3 mile in the Hempt at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and a division-best $1.03 million in purses. He was first-time Lasix in his Breeders Crown elimination after three consecutive third-place finishes. "I've been real happy with him," said Casie Coleman, a three-time Breeders Crown winner who trains McWicked for owner Ed James' S S G Stables. "I'm not a big fan of Lasix, but I decided to try it. He seems to be bouncing back at the right time. He trained (Wednesday) and was real sharp. "This division has been wide open, it's been a different winner almost every big race. It's been good racing, and good betting races, because you never know what's going to happen with this group. I'm thinking if one of these horses like JK Endofanera, McWicked, Always B Miki, Limelight Beach ends up winning the Breeders Crown, division honors is looking pretty favorable in their direction." $531,250 3-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE 1. Let's Drink On It, Tyler Smith, Joe Seekman, 15-1; 2. Somesizesomestyle, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 30-1; 3. McWicked, Brian Sears, Casie Coleman, 6-1; 4. Always B Miki, David Miller, Joe Holloway, 8-5; 5. Limelight Beach, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 3-1; 6. JK Endofanera, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 5-2; 7. Doo Wop Hanover, John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 20-1; 8. Somestarsomewhere, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 30-1; 9. Luck Be Withyou, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 20-1; 10. Capital Account, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 30-1. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Freehold, NJ --- JK She’salady improved her hold on No. 1 in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll after winning her elimination in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old female pacers. JK She’salady received 22 first-place votes, an increase of five, and increased her advantage to 48 points over second-place Sebastian K. Sebastian K, Nuncio, Shake It Cerry, Father Patrick and Sweet Lou -- in positions two through six -- did not race last week. All but Sebastian K will be competing in the Breeders Crown this weekend at the Meadowlands. Always B Miki moved up a spot off his elimination win in the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male pacers. Mission Brief joined the rankings at No. 10 following her elimination victory in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old female trotters. JK Endofanera dropped from the Top 10. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 27 – 11/18/2014 Rank Name (1st Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 JK She’salady (22) 2pf 11-11-0-0 $633,330 321 1 2 Sebastian K (6) 8th 12-8-2-0 $663,853 273 2 3 Nuncio (6) 3tc 16-11-5-0 $1,398,071 271 T3 4 Shake It Cerry (1) 3tf 16-14-0-1 $980,411 257 T3 5 Father Patrick 3tc 16-11-3-0 $1,443,081 211 5 6 Sweet Lou 5ph 17-10-2-1 $1,011,433 130 6 7 Always B Miki 3pc 19-12-4-0 $791,482 125 8 8 Artspeak 2pc 10-8-0-2 $742,185 68 7 9 Trixton 3tc 11-8-1-1 $893,370 67 9 10 Mission Brief 2tf 12-8-0-0 $341,070 60 -- Also: JK Endofanera (42), Maven (18), Limelight Beach (16), Color’s A Virgin (13), McWicked, Wild Honey (7), In The Arsenal, Lifetime Pursuit, Natural Herbie, Pinkman (5), Market Share (4), Dancin Yankee, French Laundry, Harper Blue Chip, Modern Family (3), All Bets Off, Freaky Feet Pete, He’s Watching (1). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

The connections of Commander Crowe, Creatine, Intimidate and Market Share accepted byes in the Breeders Crown Open Trot, leaving 10 horses to battle in a single elimination Saturday. The top six finishers will advance to the $500,000 final on Nov. 22 at the Big M. Maven is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the elimination, despite drawing post 10. A 5-year-old daughter of Glidemaster-M Stewart, she is a two-time Breeders Crown champion, having won the Mare Trot last year and the division for 3-year-old filly trotters in 2012. She is coming off a win in the Muscle Hill, her third victory in 11 starts this season. Maven, purchased Saturday for $750,000 by Herb Liverman, will try to become the first female to win the Open Trot since Moni Maker in 1998. Other past Crown champions in the Open Trot are Market Share, Intimidate, Arch Madness and Wheeling N Dealin. Market Share captured the Open Trot last season and will try to become the first horse to win this division in back-to-back years since Fool’s Goal in 2002 and 2003. European star Commander Crowe is making his third Breeders Crown appearance. He finished third in his previous two Crown starts, to San Pail in 2011 and Chapter Seven in 2012. The last invited foreign horse to win the Breeders Crown Trot was Italian sensation Varenne, who captured the 2001 trophy with a then-world-record 1:51.1 at the Meadowlands. Commander Crowe and Arch Madness, who is making a record seventh appearance in the Breeders Crown series, both have earned more than $4.25 million lifetime, placing them among the top six trotters in history for career purses. Arch Madness and Intimidate both won Breeders Crown trophies at the age of 3, while Wheeling N Dealin was the 2-year-old champion in 2012. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness racing Communications

For his first 10 starts, 2-year-old male pacer Tomy Terror was a model of harness racing consistency, posting four wins and six second-place finishes. Trainer John Butenschoen would rather forget race No. 11. Tomy Terror finished eighth in last week’s Matron Stakes, which was won by In The Arsenal over a “good” track at Dover Downs. Tomy Terror was at the front of the outer flow at the half and second on the outside to In The Arsenal at the three-quarters mark before dropping back in the stretch. Butenschoen is looking for the gelding to bounce back Saturday when he competes in the second of two eliminations of the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers at the Meadowlands. Tomy Terror drew post seven and is 9-2 on the morning line. In The Arsenal, who got post 10, is the 8-5 favorite. “The Matron was very disappointing,” Butenschoen said. “We’re just going to throw out that race. It was a bad night weather-wise. I’m not so sure he didn’t displace and get his air shut off. Anything that was first up didn’t seem to play well on that track that night. “But he came out of it great. The next day he was bucking and playing out in the field. We brought him in and jogged him a little bit and his blood work was normal. I trained him (Monday) before the (entry) box closed and decided to put him in. Hopefully he’ll go back to the form he showed us all year long.” Tomy Terror is a son of Western Terror-Mib Hanover owned by William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, Eugene Schick and VIP Internet Stable. His wins include divisions of the Pennsylvania All Stars, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Simpson Stakes, the latter in a track-record 1:50.2 at Vernon Downs. He finished second by a nose to Yankee Bounty in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. “Yankee Bounty was no slouch,” Butenschoen said. “Just going off the competition that we faced in Pennsylvania and what they’ve done when they stepped out of the state, I think we’ve got a good shot. As long as he comes back to where he was, I think we’ll be OK.” Multiple-stakes-winner Lost For Words is the 5-2 favorite in the first Breeders Crown elimination. The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final on Nov. 22. Elim winners will draw for posts one through five for the final. Butenschoen also sends Suit And Tie into the second of two Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old male trotters Saturday at the Meadowlands. Suit And Tie, who has one win in 15 starts for owners Wiswell and M And L Of Delaware Inc., is 20-1 on the morning line. He is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Kindergarten Classic Series championship, beaten only 2-1/2 lengths, and was third in his two previous starts. “The Kindergarten final was what got us to put him in,” Butenschoen said. “He finished fifth, but he was just loaded with trot. Every week we raced him (recently) he just got better and better, so we decided to give him a try. The owners are game for it. They enjoy the business and the horse is ready. We’ll give it a go.” by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

When young trotter Cruzado Dela Noche went off stride at the start of his second lifetime race, trainer Nancy Johansson might have been disappointed, but when she watched what happened next, she was impressed. Cruzado Dela Noche regained his footing and trotted his final quarter-mile in :26.3 to cap a :54.4 second half in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows. "I was like, oh wow, he can go a little," Johansson said, laughing. "He had an outside post and broke leaving the gate, which is something babies can do, but he's shown speed from the beginning." Johansson hopes to see more of that speed Saturday when Cruzado Dela Noche competes in the second of two Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old male trotters. He will start from post nine, with driver David Miller, and is 6-1 on the morning line. Kindergarten Classic Series champion French Laundry is the 5-2 favorite followed by Peter Haughton Memorial runner-up Uncle Lasse at 3-1. Both horses are trained by Johansson's father, Jimmy Takter. Takter's Pinkman, the Valley Victory Stakes winner, is the 2-1 favorite in the first elimination, followed by Matron Stakes winner Habitat at 5-2 and Peter Haughton winner Centurion ATM at 4-1. The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final on Nov. 22. Elim winners will draw for posts one through five for the final. Known around the stable as "Nacho," Cruzado Dela Noche has won three of 10 races and earned $164,040 for owner Courant A B of Sweden. He is a son of 2010 Hambletonian winner Muscle Massive, a Takter-trained colt for which Johansson was the groom, out of the mare Alidade. Cruzado Dela Noche beat French Laundry by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.4 in a division of the International Stallion Stakes in October. Only two 2-year-old male trotters have posted a faster winning time this season, Centurion ATM and Pinkman. "He raced enormously," Johansson said about the International Stallion, which was contested in a rainstorm at The Red Mile. "He trotted (1):53.4 in the pouring rain on the front end and did all the work himself. He's very honest." Cruzado Dela Noche finished third in the Matron Stakes last week, beaten a half-length by Habitat, in his first start since the International Stallion. "He was really good," said Johansson, who also trains 2-year-old female pacer JK She'salady, the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing's weekly Top 10 poll. "He hadn't raced since Lexington so he was a little short, but I was happy with the race. "I think he fits (in the Breeders Crown). I think he's just as good as any of the other ones. I don't think there's anyone I'm really afraid of. I think if things work in his way he could just as well be the winner at the end as anyone else. I think he deserves a little more credit than he's gotten. He's living in Lady's shadow a little bit I think. "I like him a lot. Not only that, but he's a Muscle Massive, which is very close to my heart." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

He's Watching returns Saturday to the site of his biggest win, the Meadowlands Racetrack, and harness racing trainer Dave Menary is hopeful it will spark a return to winning form. The colt, who captured the Meadowlands Pace in July with a world-record-equaling 1:46.4 performance, will try to snap a four-race skid when he competes in the first of two Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers Saturday night at the Big M. "He's undefeated at the Meadowlands, so he likes it here," Menary said. "He seems fresh and happy. We're just going to try to make sure everything is ironed out and hopefully get back on the right track. "It's a wide open (3-year-old colt) division." He's Watching, who has won five of 12 races this year and earned $824,728, starts his elimination from post six and is 7-2 on the morning line. Supplemental entry Always B Miki, the winner of four races in a row and eight of his last nine, is the 8-5 choice from post four followed by North America Cup champ JK Endofanera at 5-2 from post one. Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach is the 8-5 favorite in the second elimination, followed by Adios winner McWicked at 2-1. The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $531,250 final on Nov. 22. Elim winners will draw for posts one through five for the final. He's Watching last won on Aug. 10, in the Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. In his most recent start he finished sixth in a division of the Tattersalls Pace won by Always B Miki. Afterward he was discovered to have suffered from atrial fibrillation, an electrical disorder of the heart rhythm, but has since been well. "It's something I've monitored, but I think it was a fluke thing," said Menary, who owns the son of American Ideal-Baberhood with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. "If it had been a different horse, we probably wouldn't even be talking about it. I was pretty disappointed that day, but we've regrouped and he seems fresh. "Hopefully we'll have a good couple weeks." The Canadian-based Menary skipped the Messenger and Matron stakes and prepared He's Watching for the Breeders Crown with two qualifiers at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. He finished second in both, timed in 1:52.4 and 1:53.4. "We bypassed the Messenger because that was rushing him," Menary said. "I made the decision to skip the Matron just thinking it was a little less trucking and a little more time at home and I'd have him a little fresher. "His qualifiers at home were better miles than they look. They were dirty, cold mornings. One morning it was a cold rain and the second qualifier it was snowing. We sat him pretty far back and the horses he missed getting up on are pretty decent horses." The Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male pacers features eight of the division's top nine seasonal money-earners. Wins in an elimination and the final could go a long way toward deciding which horse receives the Dan Patch Award as the group's best. "I guess it depends who it is (that wins)," Menary said. "You might end up adding another horse to the mix. This is a big two weeks for everybody." Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications

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