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Harness racing driver Drew Monti has enjoyed a season to remember, and it’s not finished yet. Among the 22-year-old driver’s accomplishments so far are: graduating from college, winning a New York Sire Stakes race for the first time, and posting seven victories on a single card. He also is in the hunt for the driving title at Batavia Downs, where he trails Jim Morrill Jr. by 12 wins with eight more dates on the schedule. Following the conclusion of Batavia’s meet on Dec. 17, Monti might make a few trips to New Jersey to race at the Meadowlands before returning his focus to upstate New York and the start of a new meet at Buffalo Raceway. Monti finished fourth in this year’s standings at Buffalo. Monti, a Buffalo native, followed his father, Darrin, and grandfather, Carl, into harness racing. He began driving regularly in 2013 and has won 673 races in his career, including 202 this year. In 2015, Monti established career highs of 224 victories and $1.16 million in purses, but could surpass both totals this season. He needs less than $8,000 to establish a new best for earnings. In May, Monti graduated from Canisius College with an economics degree. In addition to driving, he also does some work for a financial advising firm. Monti recently took time to talk to Ken Weingartner from the U.S. Trotting Association’s Harness Racing Communications division about his career. KW: It’s been an exciting year for you in many different ways. DM: Yeah, absolutely. There are a lot of things to look back on. I had a good year last year, but I think this is my best year so far. I won a (New York) sire stakes this year, and I’d never done that before. That was exciting. I’m second in the standings at Batavia. It’s still tight. I’m a few behind (Jim Morrill Jr.) but we’ll see. Hopefully I can get there. That would be awesome if I could be leading driver here. And I won seven races (on a card) this year (on Oct. 26 at Batavia). That was a personal high. I’d won five a couple times, but never more than that. KW: I was going to bring that up. You won seven out of 10, right? What was that like? Is it a different feeling when you’re going through a night like that? DM: Not really. I’ll tell you, though, what is different --- it feels like the night goes right by.  When you don’t do any good, it feels like the night drags on forever. KW: Did you expect a big night? DM: I thought it was going to be a good card. I had some good posts and I had some horses that I’d been driving that were down in class and drew inside and were sharp. I didn’t really say anything to anybody; I never want to talk like that out loud. But I thought it could be a wicked good night. And it turned out like nothing could go wrong. I was getting breaks, getting good trips, horses that could beat me were coming up flat --- it was just left and right that I was getting breaks all night. (Laughs.) That’s how you win seven. KW: I’m sure there have been times when you’ve looked at a card and thought you could have a big night and maybe things didn’t go your way. DM: Lots of times. That happens way more often. You think you can really do some good and you don’t do any good at all. But that’s the game. KW: How old were you when you decided this is what you wanted to do? DM: Probably 14 or 15. I started helping my dad regularly. My grandfather has been in it for all his life. I was just brought up in it and we’ve always had horses, at least a few. I started qualifying horses and we had some decent horses throughout the last few years and it kind of showed people I could do a little good. Then I got some chances and it took off from there. I’m just very grateful to everyone that’s given me a chance. KW: What’s the most difficult thing when you’re starting out as a young driver? DM: If you have any success, not to get ahead of yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And also don’t get down if you don’t do well. I still struggle with that now. It takes a toll on you mentally and you can’t allow that to affect how you drive. You’ve got to go out there clear-minded and do your job the best you can do it. You have to focus on the things you’re doing right.  KW: When you’re trying to make a name for yourself do you take losses harder because you feel they’re missed opportunities? But, as you said, you also don’t want to get too high when you have the success. DM: Exactly. That’s the thing, you do well and you start thinking you should be doing well. And that should never be the case racing horses. There’s never any entitlement. You could do all your work, you could make all the right moves, and sometimes things just don’t line up right. Sometimes horses show up a little flat, sometimes other horses show up better. There are things that are out of your control. As hard as that is to accept, that’s how it is. KW: How do you learn as you’re going through it? DM: There are always different situations in races and you’re never going to do everything right. But you try to learn the kinds of horses you drive and adapt. You get better at that the more you drive. I just try to be really open-minded and listen to what the trainer has to say. I try not to have any preconceptions about the horse, or the trainer. I think you’ll be the most successful that way. KW: Do you watch other drivers and learn that way? DM: All the time. Morrill is right here at home. It’s really easy to watch him as he’s going by you. (Laughs.) I look up to Tony Morgan. I’m good friends with him and I watch him all the time. There are a lot of guys, really. If there is ever a race on, I’m not going to ignore it, it doesn’t matter where it is. You can always watch and try to think what you would do in certain situations. It’s always interesting, it doesn’t matter what race it is. KW: Do you set goals for yourself? DM: Not really numerical goals, like I want to win this many races or make this much money. But I’ll have goals like try to get all good trips, or try not to over-drive a horse, or try not to make a certain mistake again. Just little goals to try to improve. KW: What’s been your biggest thrill so far? DM: Winning the sire stakes, and I’ll tell you why. That’s something I’d never done and I haven’t had a lot of shots to do it. On top of that, Rick Dane trained the horse (Americanfirewater) and (his partner) Monica Banca was there with the horse. That horse was only (age) 2 and hadn’t had a win yet. I came off the track and she was in tears, happy. She said that was his first sire stakes win and I said it was my first sire stakes win, too, so I’m as happy as you are. She gave me the cooler and a hug and said she was so happy to be a part of it. I was like, please, thank you. I appreciate it more than anything. That was probably the coolest moment. It was awesome. That was meaningful. KW: How difficult was it to drive and go to college? DM: Very tough. I tried to schedule myself where I could go to the track. I usually went to school just in the morning, but I went every day because I couldn’t go a whole day. It was tough to manage my time. I’d come home from races and I’d be shot, but sometimes I had to study or finish a project. But I got through it and did pretty well. I can tell you, I’m glad it’s over. It was busy and taxing mentally. But it was fun. KW: Has it made you better now? DM: I think so. It was a situation where you had to be mature and make sacrifices, or you weren’t going to do it. I never got a chance to do a lot of extras (with friends) but that being said, I’ve been successful and made pretty good money racing. I have some things others don’t have the privilege to have, but I put work in to get them. KW: When you were in high school did you play any sports? DM: I played baseball all four years and I also bowled all four years. KW: Oh really. Were you good? DM: Yeah, my average was like a 210. If I ever get some time I’ll still throw a couple games. It’s just hard to find the time for it. KW: How about baseball? DM: I was pretty good. I pitched through high school. My junior year, we won the regional championship, it’s called the Georgetown Cup. That was a real big season for us. KW: You’ll be wrapping up at Batavia in a couple weeks. Then what’s the plan? DM: Buffalo opens Jan. 11 and obviously that’s home. I’m thinking of trying the Meadowlands when there’s nothing else going on. I’d have to have a lot of success to make it worth going to New Jersey every weekend. Tentatively, Buffalo is just the plan. But we’ll see what happens. I’m open to anything. I’ll probably go (to the Meadowlands) because I’ll be off, but as far as staying, we’ll have to see. KW: What do you most enjoy about doing this? DM: Honestly, one of the big reasons I even do it at all is because I can do it with my family. My grandfather, my father, and I are all at the barn every day. We get to spend time together. I get to spend a lot of time with my dad. Some people don’t get to do that with family. I think I’m lucky for that.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

Freehold, NJ. - Five-year-old pacing stallion Always B Miki is harness racing’s No.1-ranked horse in this year’s final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Always B Miki received 27 first-place votes in the final poll and was second on the remaining eight ballots. Four-year-old pacing gelding Wiggle It Jiggleit received the other eight first-place votes. Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit were the only horses to be ranked No. 1 during the season. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December 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. FINAL Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 27 – 11/22/2016 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Always B Miki (27) 5ph 18-12-5-0 $1,487,292 342 1 2 Wiggle It Jiggleit (8) 4pg 24-15-7-2 $1,719,062 307 2 3 Hannelore Hanover 4tm 20-17-2-0 $1,119,111 264 3 4 Betting Line 3pc 15-14-1-0 $1,467,386 191 4 5 Marion Marauder  3tc 15-10-3-0 $1,484,532 177 5 6 Lady Shadow 5pm 20-12-2-1 $851,981 122 6 7 Ariana G 2tf 11-9-1-0 $743,967 101 7 8 Walner 2tc 8-7-0-0 $484,037 93 8 9 Racing Hill 3pc 16-7-5-2 $1,594,366 81 9 10 Resolve 5th 13-5-4-1 $1,341,553 68 10 Also: Pure Country (40); Huntsville (35); Broadway Donna (34); Bar Hopping (17); Obrigado (16); Manhattan Beach, Southwind Frank (7); Downbytheseaside (6); Snowstorm Hanover (5); Krispy Apple (4); That’s The Ticket (3); Magic Presto (2); Bee A Magician, Someomensomewhere, The Real One (1). Always B Miki Retirement Ceremony at The Meadowlands Always B Miki World Record Allerage Farms by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

The deadline for entries for the 2016 John Hervey Awards, which honor the best of harness racing journalism, is Dec. 9. 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. 26 in Las Vegas. Judges in each category will select a winner and, where appropriate, up to two honorable mentions. Entries published or aired between Dec. 1, 2015 and Nov. 30, 2016 will be eligible. There are no entry fees or cash prizes. 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 2016 John Hervey Awards The best of harness racing journalism in 2016 will be honored with the 55th edition of the John Hervey Awards for writing, the 33rd edition of the Broadcasters Awards for electronic media as well as the 17th 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 -- no 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. 26. 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 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 three 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 three 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. 9. 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 email the digital portion of the entry: ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. Questions may be sent to Ken Weingartner at the above email address.   Ken Weingartner

Freehold, NJ --- Five-year-old pacing stallion Always B Miki finished his harness racing career in style with a 4-1/4 length win in the TVG Free For All Series championship for male pacers Saturday at the Meadowlands and extended his lead over idle Wiggle It Jiggleit for the top spot in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. No. 1 Always B Miki holds a 48-point advantage over No. 2 Wiggle It Jiggleit, an increase of 14 points from a week ago. Other TVG Series winners included No. 3-ranked Hannelore Hanover, who won among older female trotters, and No. 6 Lady Shadow, who moved up four places in the rankings off her triumph in the pacing mare division. Next week will be the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll of the year. The poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December 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 26 – 11/15/2016  Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Always B Miki (29) 5ph 18-12-5-0 $1,487,292 344 1 2 Wiggle It Jiggleit (6) 4pg 24-15-7-2 $1,719,062 296 2 3 Hannelore Hanover 4tm 20-17-2-0 $1,119,111 265 3 4 Betting Line 3pc 15-14-1-0 $1,467,386 181 4 5 Marion Marauder  3tc 15-10-3-0 $1,484,532 163 5 6 Lady Shadow 5pm 20-12-2-1 $851,981 122 10 7 Ariana G 2tf 11-9-1-0 $743,967 96 6 8 Walner 2tc 8-7-0-0 $484,037 87 9 9 Racing Hill 3pc 16-7-5-2 $1,594,366 81 7 10 Resolve 5th 13-5-4-1 $1,341,553 79 8 Also: Pure Country (52); Huntsville (44); Broadway Donna (37); Obrigado (27); Bar Hopping (19); Caprice Hill (9); Southwind Frank (7); Dayson (6); Boston Red Rocks (5); Bee A Magician (3); Hemi Seelster, Someomensomewhere (1) by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing trainer Ron Burke’s stable surpassed $20 million in purses for the fourth consecutive year on Monday night (Nov. 14) when Encore Deo won the seventh race at Yonkers Raceway. No other trainer in history has ever reached $20 million in purses in a season. In 2014, Burke’s stable set an all-breed record of $28.4 million in purses. Burke has led the sport in wins and purses each of the past seven years and is set to do it again in 2016. Burke leads the win standings with 799, holding an advantage of 397 wins over second-place Rene Allard, and has doubled second-place Jimmy Takter in earnings. For his career Burke has won 7,471 races and $168 million in purses, both records. The majority of the wins and earnings have been accumulated since 2008 when Burke took over his family’s stable fulltime. Burke was the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Trainer of the Year in 2013 and 2011. His father Mickey was Trainer of the Year in 2006. In 2013, Burke Racing and the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi received the Owner of the Year Award. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Joe Hurley's run with Always B Miki is coming to an end. On Saturday night, Hurley, who at trackside ran down the final portion of the stretch at Lexington as Always B Miki made harness racing history with his 1:46 all-time record mile a month ago, will watch the 5-year-old pacing stallion he bred and co-owns compete for the final time in his career. Always B Miki, the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing's Top 10 poll, is the 1-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $400,000 TVG Free For All Series championship at the Meadowlands Racetrack, where regular driver David Miller will be at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter. The only other horse in single digit odds in the seven-horse field is Shamballa, at 6-1, for the driver-trainer combo of Scott Zeron and Rick Zeron. The TVG was expected to be the final meeting between Always B Miki and No. 2-ranked Wiggle It Jiggleit, but Wiggle It Jiggleit was not entered because of a minor foot bruise and bout of sickness. Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit met eight times this season, with Always B Miki winning four times and Wiggle It Jiggleit winning three. Shamballa was an upset winner in the remaining race. For the year, Always B Miki has won 11 of 17 races, finished worse than second only once, and earned $1.29 million for Hurley's Roll The Dice Stable, Bluewood Stable, and Christina Takter. For his career, Always B Miki has won 29 of 52 starts, hit the board a total of 45 times, and banked $2.51 million. In addition to becoming the fastest horse in history, Always B Miki shares the world record of 1:47 for the fastest mile by a horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki paced 1:47 on a five-eighths oval on three occasions, an unprecedented feat. He also holds the record of 1:47.1 for the fastest mile ever paced in Canada. "I have mixed emotions, for sure," said the 73-year-old Hurley, who is a prominent defense attorney from Delaware. "It's the ride of a lifetime that you can't possibly fathom unless you've been there. A magic carpet ride type thing and you don't want it to end. "When you see the end coming, you push it out of your mind. The highs that you get where you cry, you run, you scream, you yell, you jump --- things that you never thought you would do --- that are all in the past and you know there will never be another one like him. "Even though there are horses in the future, the way I am, I measure everything against the best experience, so it's going to be quite a fall off a cliff. But it's been fantastic." Always B Miki won 12 of 19 races as a 3-year-old, including the Indiana Sire Stakes championship, before being twice sidelined by injuries that required surgeries and forced him to miss nearly a year of action. He returned in October 2015 and won all four of his races, including the Breeders Crown Open Pace, the remainder of the season. He heads to the TVG championship off a second Breeders Crown Open Pace victory, Oct. 28 at the Meadowlands. Always B Miki's other wins this year include the Ben Franklin Pace, William Haughton Memorial, Jim Ewart Memorial, and Hoosier Pacing Derby. But for Hurley, Always B Miki's 1:46 mile in the Allerage Farms Open Pace at Lexington's Red Mile on Oct. 9 was the pacer's most magical moment. The time eclipsed Cambest's mark of 1:46.1, which was set in a time trial at Springfield, Ill., in 1993. No horse had ever paced faster than 1:46.4 in a race. "What I do is stand by myself, because I get so caught up in things, probably about the sixteenth pole and then literally run with him," Hurley said about his race day ritual with Always B Miki. "I can't keep up, but I begin running toward the finish line. "And in Lexington there was this buzz and it got louder and louder. I couldn't see because of the people in between and they were shouting and shouting. I'm running and I still don't know what's going on. And then I hear somebody say 'world record' and I hear somebody else say '1:46' and then it's just --- well, there's no feeling to describe it. I have a pretty wide vocabulary, but there is no word in the vocabulary to describe the feeling." Always B Miki is a son of Hurley's million-dollar-winning Always A Virgin out of the mare Artstopper. Hurley also bred both of Always B Miki's parents. "I don't know that much about breeding; I got lucky," Hurley said. "I'm an unlucky person, I think, so I was blessed. And now I'm cursed. That's the thing, you've never thought in your wildest dreams about something like this. If I won a sire stakes in all these years, you're happy. But not this elation where your body just goes out of control and you find yourself shouting and screaming at the top of your lungs and jumping up and down. "It's like you're not even in control of yourself. It's like somebody is puppeteering you." Hurley added, referring to his wife who named Always B Miki after her nickname, "She's usually not expressive, but she just goes into another dimension. The smile on her face is ear-to-ear. She jumps up and down. There's nothing like it. I can see the joy and happiness in her face." Always B Miki will be retired to stud duty at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania following Saturday's TVG final. The run will be completed, but the memories will remain. "The bond between me and him is like it's your child," Hurley said. "I don't get any big pleasure from standing in the winner's circle, but the idea of Miki --- there is a word that you attribute to animals, human emotions --- and I have this irrational sense that he knows that he beat Wiggle It Jiggleit and he's a star. "If someone said I could win Powerball for some ridiculous amount of money or have Miki, it wouldn't even be a question. It would be Miki," Hurley said. "This is like Powerball on steroids." TVG Series finals for male and female trotters plus female pacers are also on Saturday's Meadowlands card. Breeders Crown Mare Trot winner Hannelore Hanover is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the $200,000 TVG for trotting mares while defending series champion Resolve is the 7-5 choice in the TVG for male trotters. Breeders Crown Mare Pace winner Lady Shadow gets the 4-5 nod in the $200,000 TVG for female pacers. Complete entries for the Saturday Meadowlands card may be found at this link. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

For the second consecutive year, harness raciing trainer Jimmy Takter will send a 3-year-old colt to challenge older rivals in the TVG Free For All Series championship for trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Last season, it was The Bank. This time, it is Bar Hopping, who on Saturday will try to become the first 3-year-old male trotter in recent history to win against older foes in a series final worth at least $100,000. The Bank and Bar Hopping received invitations to the TVG championship as Breeders Crown winners. Bar Hopping won his Crown on Oct. 29 with a stakes-record-equaling 1:51.4 mile at the Big M and followed that victory with a track-record 1:53.4 triumph in the Carl Erskine Trot on Nov. 4 at Indiana's Hoosier Park. For the year, Bar Hopping has won nine of 18 races and earned $1.17 million in purses. He has won six of his last seven starts, including the Breeders Crown, Erskine, and Canadian Trotting Classic. His only setback during that span was a third-place finish in the Kentucky Futurity, where he was beaten by a half-length by Trotting Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder. Bar Hopping and driver Tim Tetrick will start the $400,000 TVG championship from post three and are the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. Resolve, the defending TVG champion from the stable of Ake Svanstedt, is the 7-5 favorite. "He's definitely on top of his game," Tetrick said of Bar Hopping. "Really all year he's raced pretty good. He had a couple hiccups here or there, but the horse is sharp right now. He won really good at Hoosier and he was great in the Breeders Crown." According to the U.S. Trotting Association's Information and Research Department, Bar Hopping is seeking to become the first 3-year-old male trotter in recent history to win against older foes in a series final worth at least $100,000 since Before He Cheats captured the $120,000 Chester Late Closing Series in 2007. The only other instance since 1992 of a 3-year-old trotter winning a race worth at least $100,000 against older horses came on the female side, when filly CR Kay Suzie defeated seven mares in the Breeders Crown at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. Last year, The Bank finished seventh in the TVG. Joining Bar Hopping and Resolve in this year's TVG final are Obrigado, Centurion ATM, Crazy Wow, Wind Of The North, JL Cruze, and Lookslikeachpndale. Resolve has won five of 12 races this year and earned $1.31 million. He won the Yonkers International Trot and Maple Leaf and finished second in the Breeders Crown Open Trot and Sweden's Elitlopp. Obrigado is a multiple-stakes-winner and JL Cruze, last year's divisional Dan Patch Award winner, was third in the Breeders Crown. "All we can do is hope for a good trip and hope some of those big boys have a day off," Tetrick said of Bar Hopping's challenge. "Maybe we can end the season on a great note." TVG Series finals for older female trotters plus older male and female pacers are also on Saturday's Meadowlands card. Breeders Crown Mare Trot winner Hannelore Hanover is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the TVG for trotting mares. Bee A Magician is the 2-1 second choice. Always B Miki, the Breeders Crown Open Pace champ and the fastest horse in harness racing history with a 1:46 mile record, is the 1-5 choice in the TVG for older male pacers while Breeders Crown Mare Pace winner Lady Shadow gets the 4-5 nod on the distaff side. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Harrisburg, PA --- Lucas Wallin knows he still has a lot to learn about training harness racing horses. But at the age of only 23, he says with a laugh, “I have a couple of years to learn everything.” Wallin, who worked for trainer Ake Svanstedt for more than two years after arriving in the U.S. from Sweden in 2014, recently started his own harness racing stable. He is based in New Egypt, N.J., and is in the process of assembling horses for his barn. On Wednesday, he added three to his roster with the purchases of Chapter Seven-sired trotting colt Dont Press Send, Explosive Matter-sired trotting filly Winbak Noelle and Conway Hall-sired trotting colt Handsome Devil at the Standardbred Horse Sale. Dont Press Send, out of the mare Roisin and from the same family as two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Wesgate Crown, sold for $50,000. Winbak Noelle, out of Winbak Roberta, sold for $14,000. Handsome Devil, out of Not A Diva and from the same family as multiple Dan Patch Award winner CR Kay Suzie, sold for $30,000. “I had one guy from Europe that sent me to look at a horse and I really looked at him,” Wallin said about Dont Press Send. “He liked the breeding, so we went for him. I liked him; he was a good looking horse, standing good, showed a lot of personality on the video. He seems to be a happy horse and he gives me a good feeling.” Wallin has six horses, including stakes-winning 7-year-old trotter Appomattox. Wallin’s stable made its debut with a second-place finish from 2-year-old trotting colt Yankee Doodle Andi on Oct. 27 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Wallin bought the horse for $10,500 at the Tattersalls Summer Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands. At last month’s Lexington Selected Sale, Wallin bought Big Bang De Vie, whose family includes two-time Dan Patch Award winner Lucky Chucky, for $35,000. Wallin was 8 when he started driving ponies in Sweden. Several years later, he began helping at his uncle Joakim Wallin’s stable. Wallin was alerted to the opportunity with Svanstedt’s stable in the U.S. by childhood friend Oskar Florhed. “I had a really, really good time at Ake’s place and I learned a lot of things,” Wallin said. “You learn something every day. Now I know the system here in America and I feel comfortable. Of course maybe it would be a good idea to work for an American trainer for a year or two but I decided I would try on my own.” In addition to serving as an assistant trainer at Svanstedt’s stable, Wallin has won 26 of 171 drives the past two years, but plans to focus on training at this point. “I think I’m going to try to put on the best catch drivers,” Wallin said. “If they cannot drive, then I’ll drive myself. These guys are so good and they drive so many races every week, if you have the chance to get them it’s stupid not to use them.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications   

Harrisburg, PA --- Harness racing owner Ken Jacobs was a bit weary at the end of Tuesday's nearly nine-hour session of the Standardbred Horse Sale, but he was satisfied with the outcome. Jacobs purchased six horses during day two of the sale, including the session's highest-priced yearling, American Ideal-sired pacing colt Casual Cool for $165,000. Jacobs also bought American Ideal-sired filly Prospect Blue Chip ($55,000) and Chapter Seven-sired trotters Purple Iron ($100,000), Petrovic Blue Chip ($95,000), Seven Karats ($75,000) and Comesevencomeleven ($50,000). "They were all very expensive; I have good taste," Jacobs joked after his $540,000 spending spree. "I'm tired, it was a long day, but I'm very happy with it. I planned my work and I worked my plan and my plan worked perfectly. I got all the horses I wanted to get." After a strong opening session, the Standardbred Horse Sale continued to show gains compared to last year. A total of 479 horses sold for an average of $53,322 through two days this year compared to 650 horses selling for an average of $39,396 in 2015. Monday's opening session was 41 percent better than last year while the two-day average is 35 percent better. The two-day average also is 14 percent better than 2014 ($46,748) and up nearly 6 percent from 2013 ($50,426). "We're very happy," Standardbred Horse Sales Company President and CEO Pete Spears said. "We think the sale continued very strong after a fantastic sale yesterday. There was still a great deal of enthusiasm. We had a number of $100,000 horses. I still had many people coming up to me saying they hadn't been able to buy yet, they'd been shut out. We're very optimistic that tomorrow will be strong as well." Although the sale failed to see a horse sell in excess of $200,000 on the second day --- a level that was topped on the second day in recent years --- there were a total of 19 yearlings to sell for at least $100,000. "To be honest, if we sold any for $200,000 today they were misplaced because we wanted those kinds of horses the first day," Spears said. "The bottom line is right now we're very, very happy. We have momentum going into tomorrow and a lot of people still need to buy." Casual Cool is a son of American Ideal out of the mare Sight To See. Second dam Grand Lady is the dam of O'Brien Award winner Glowing Report as well as stakes-winners Perfect Union and Must See. "I liked everything about him," Jacobs said. "His video was unbelievable, his conformation, his family. I knew he was going to be high priced because the video was fantastic, so everyone else liked him. I tried to destroy the video but I couldn't. They wouldn't let me." Jacobs, who has enjoyed success with pacers in the past and recently began purchasing trotters, returned to sire Chapter Seven when looking at trotters in Harrisburg. Last year, Jacobs bought Chapter Seven-sired Walner, who this season has won seven of eight races including the Breeders Crown and trotted a world-record 1:51.3. "I don't know if I can get another (Walner) but I'll try," Jacobs said. "It's hard to duplicate that, but I'll try to do whatever I can to try to find another one." Uvie Hanover, a trotting filly by Kadabra out of the mare Upfront OB's Janet, was the day's top-selling trotter, going for $150,000 to Serge Godin's Determination stable. Uvie Hanover's 2-year-old half-sister Onda Su won a Bluegrass Stakes division this season. "She is a high caliber filly," said Luc Blais, who will train the filly. "Her conformation was very good. I liked everything about her. She looks like a very strong filly. She is beautiful, beautiful. That's why we like her." Pacing yearlings from the family of Dan Patch Award-winner Sweet Lou sold for $150,000 on back-to-back trips to the auction ring. Nutcracker Sweet, a son of Bettor's Delight out of the mare Sweet Future, was the first one through and was purchased by agent Bjorn "Bernie" Noren. Sweet Future is the dam of Sweet Lou as well as two-time Breeders Crown champion Bettor Sweet, who like Nutcracker Sweet was sired by Bettor's Delight. Next up was Youaremycandygirl, whose second dam is Sweet Future. Youaremycandygirl is a daughter of American Ideal out of the mare Sweet Lady Jane. She was purchased by Bill Donovan. Muscle Hill-sired yearlings continue to top the trotting averages, with 20 horses selling for an average of $156,150. Chapter Seven is next with 14 horses averaging $70,000 followed by Cantab Hall with 33 horses averaging $69,697. Somebeachsomewhere-sired yearlings lead the pacing averages, with 58 horses selling for an average of $76,241. American Ideal was second, with 26 horses going for an average of $59,615. The Standardbred Horse Sale resumes at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex. It is the final session of yearling offerings, with the two-day mixed sale starting Thursday. Day Two Top 10 Hip-Sex-Gait-Name-Sire-Dam-Buyer-Consignor-Price 221-C-P-Casual Cool-American Ideal-Sight To See-Ken Jacobs-Fair Winds Farm-$165,000 252-C-P-Nutcracker Sweet-Bettor's Delight-Sweet Future-Bjorn Noren, agent-Concord Stud Farm, agent-$150,000 253-F-P-Youaremycandygirl-American Ideal-Sweet Lady Jane-Bill Donovan-Concord Stud Farm, agent-$150,000 491-F-T-Uvie Hanover-Kadabra-Upfront Ob's Janet-Determination-Hanover Shoe Farms-$150,000 412-C-P-P Livi Blue Chip-American Ideal-Fox Valley Shaker-Richard Hill-Blue Chip Farms, agent-$145,000 304-C-T-Spee Club-Cantab Hall-Almond Joy-Eugene Kurzrok-Concord Stud Farm, agent-$135,000 232-C-P-Somestory Hanover-Well Said-Someheartsomewhere-Jimmy Takter, agent-Hanover Shoe Farms-$120,000 383-F-T-Sweet On You-Kadabra-Dynamite Honey-Reijo Liljendahl-Peninsula Farm, agent-$120,000 310-C-P-Shadow Of Lindy-Shadow Play-Antoinette Hanover-Jack Darling-Preferred Equine Mkt., agent-$110,000 285-F-P-Rich Tradition-Somebeachsomewhere-Classical Yankee-Chris Oakes-All American Harnessbreds-$105,000 394-F-T-Eunice-Chapter Seven-Filly At Bigs-Chris Oakes-Preferred Equine Mkt., agent-$105,000 For full results click here. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Freehold, NJ --- There were no changes to the order of the Top 10 in this week's harness racing Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, but leader Always B Miki added an additional first place vote and extended his lead over runner-up Wiggle It Jiggleit from 26 points to 34. The only horse in the Top 10 that raced this past week was 2-year-old male trotter Walner, who captured the Kindergarten Series final at Meadowlands Racetrack. He remains in the No. 9 spot in the poll. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all 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 25 – 11/8/2016 Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Always B Miki (26) 5ph 17-11-5-0 $1,291,292 340 1 2 Wiggle It Jiggleit (9) 4pg 24-15-7-2 $1,719,062 306 2 3 Hannelore Hanover 4tm 19-16-2-0 $1,021,111 240 3 4 Betting Line 3pc 15-14-1-0 $1,467,386 178 4 5 Marion Marauder  3tc 15-10-3-0 $1,484,532 176 5 6 Ariana G 2tf 11-9-1-0 $743,967 123 6 7 Racing Hill 3pc 15-7-5-2 $1,581,550 118 7 8 Resolve 5th 12-5-4-1 $1,310,513 116 8 9 Walner 2tc 8-7-0-0 $484,037 86 9 10 Lady Shadow 5pm 19-11-2-1 $755,981 77 10 Bar Hopping (42); Broadway Donna (39); Huntsville (32); Pure Country (14); Southwind Frank (12); Bee A Magician (9); Check Six (6); Someomensomewhere (4); Flanagan Memory (3); Intimidate (2); Krispy Apple, Obrigado (1). by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Harrisburg, PA --- Led by trotting sire Muscle Hill and harness racing pacing sire Somebeachsomewhere, the Standardbred Horse Sale enjoyed one of its strongest opening days in recent memory --- if not ever --- on Monday at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex. A total of 170 horses sold for an average of $78,676, providing the sale with a 41-percent increase compared to last year. Muscle Hill-sired colt Story Time Hanover was the day's highest priced yearling, going for $410,000 to Sweden's Melby Gard AB, with Jimmy Takter as agent. Muscle Hill had the four-highest priced yearlings on Monday, including $400,000-selling colt Hey Jock to Montreal-based Determination stable, while Somebeachsomewhere led the pacing side and had four yearlings in the top nine. Colt Dramatic Point, purchased for $260,000 by Toronto's Scott Horner, was the top pacer. For the day, 18 Muscle Hill-sired yearlings sold for an average of $168,833 while 39 Somebeachsomewhere-sired yearlings sold for an average of $88,538. A total of 40 yearlings sold for at least $100,000, an increase of 48 percent compared to last year despite 88 fewer horses passing through the auction ring this year. Standardbred Horse Sales Company Chairman Russell Williams said he could not remember the sale ever having a better day in terms of average sale. "It was a great day," Williams said. "Hip No. 1 (Cantab Hall-sired filly Pulse Hanover) started at $150,000 and it just went on from there. "The auctioneers shouldn't get paid for today because they hardly had to work," he joked. Williams said the sales company was optimistic for a strong sale following the success of sales elsewhere, including a record-setting Lexington Selected Yearling Sale in October. "We were fairly confident," Williams said. "It turned out better than we hoped. The confidence came from the quality of the catalogue and from the strong sales that everyone else has been having. They always go together." Last year's opening day in Harrisburg saw 258 sold for an average of $55,781 and was hampered by a Pennsylvania budget impasse that threatened to halt racing in the state. The sale's first day saw an 8.49 percent drop in average sale compared to 2014. "Not having the governor threatening to end racing in Pennsylvania gave us a big advantage this year," Williams said. "We appreciated that. We're grateful to be overlooked this time." This year's sale also saw fewer yearlings auctioned on the first day. "We wanted to create momentum the first day," Williams said. "You always arrange your yearlings to best advantage, but by having a little bit less today we hoped to have more sizzle and momentum going forward." Story Time Hanover is out of the mare Shared Past, who was the New Jersey Sire Stakes champion in 2013. The family also includes millionaire Dejarmbro and stakes-winners Armbro Vanquish and Manofmanymissions. Takter trained Armbro Vanquish. "Jimmy loved Armbro Vanquish," said Perry Soderberg, who handled the bidding on Story Time Hanover. "(Story Time Hanover) was the right size. He was the right type of Muscle Hill and has a great pedigree. He was probably the most complete horse in the sale among the trotting colts; conformation, the way he moved in the paddock, and the pedigree. He had a little bit of everything for sure. "There are just a few of these type horses in the sale and this is the one we thought was the best." Soderberg also was the agent for buying Muscle Hill-sired colt You Know You Do, out of the 2012 New York Sire Stakes champion You Want Me, for $350,000. The price was the day's third highest. You Know You Do's family includes Peace A Pie, the dam of Dan Patch Award winner Pizza Dolce. "He's got the size and the power," Soderberg said about You Know You Do, who will be trained by Takter for a to-be-determined ownership group. "I saw him at (consignor) Peninsula Farm and he really had that punch that I'm looking for in the paddock. "The two top trotting colts in my opinion were (Story Time Hanover) and this one. We're very happy." Hey Jock, the day's second-highest priced yearling, is out of the mare Sugar Wheeler. His family includes Dan Patch Award winner Wheeling N Dealin and stakes-winner Quick Credit. "He is a very nice horse, that's why we would buy him," said Luc Blais, who will train the colt for Serge Godin's Determination stable. Godin also owned Wheeling N Dealin. "For sure he liked that pedigree. Yeah, it's pressure (to buy a horse for that price) but I like challenges. That's a good challenge." Dramatic Point, the top-selling pacer, is out of the stakes-winning mare Heather's Western, and is a half-brother to this year's North America Cup and Little Brown Jug winner Betting Line. "He looks like a really nice horse," Horner said. "And the pedigree, it's not only Betting Line. To be frank, the chance of getting another Betting Line are slim and none. That's not why we bought him. We bought him to buy a nice horse. And we liked the back pedigree on (Somebeachsomewhere)." Owner Jeff Snyder came away with two of the Top 10 sellers on Monday, Muscle Hill-sired colt Abs Hanover for $245,000 and Somebeachsomewhere-sired colt Thomas B Hanover for $230,000. Abs Hanover is out of the mare Are You Ready and the family includes stakes-winner Blenheim, Hambletonian Oaks winner Personal Style and Dan Patch Award winner Almost An Angel. Thomas B Hanover is out of the mare Trim Hanover and is a half-brother to Dan Patch Award winner American Jewel and stakes-winners Luck Be Withyou and Source Of Pride. Snyder co-owns full-sister Tori Hanover, who last month won a Breeders Crown elimination. "I loved the pedigree," Snyder said about Thomas B Hanover. "I thought he was the best Somebeachsomewhere in the sale. (Trim Hanover) has already produced two million-dollar winners. What's not to like? He's by the hottest sire in harness racing." The sale resumes Tuesday at 10 a.m. and will look to pick up where it left off. Trotting colts (33 sold) went for an average of $98,424 while trotting fillies (44) went for an average of $84,545. Pacing colts (57) sold for an average of $74,719 and pacing fillies (36) for an average of $59,667. "All the sires in today's sale have something to be happy about in the stats," Williams said. "I don't see a pattern of pacers versus trotters, colts versus fillies; what was on the page people were buying. It was a great day. That momentum, we hope, will carry on through Tuesday and beyond." More information on the sale may be found at www.theblackbook.com. Day One Top 10 Hip–Sex–Gait–Name–Sire–Dam–Buyer–Consignor–Price 21–C–T–Story Time Hanover–Muscle Hill–Shared Past–Jimmy Takter, agent–Hanover Shoe Farms–$410,000 32–C–T–Hey Jock–Muscle Hill–Sugar Wheeler–Determination–Concord Stud Farm–$400,000 57–C–T–You Know You Do–Muscle Hill–You Want Me–Perry Soderberg, agent–Peninsula Farm–$350,000 107–C–T–Drum Hanover–Muscle Hill–Dornello–Ake Svanstedt–Hanover Shoe Farms–$270,000 127–C–P–Dramatic Point–Somebeachsomewhere–Heather’s Western–Scott Horner–Fair Winds Farm–$260,000 66–C–T–Abs Hanover–Muscle Hill–Are You Ready–Jeff Snyder–Hanover Shoe Farms–$245,000 43–C–P–Thomas B Hanover–Somebeachsomewhere–Trim Hanover–Jeff Snyder–Hanover Shoe Farms–$230,000 169–C–P–Nerd Hanover–Somebeachsomewhere–New Album–Ron Michelon–Hanover Shoe Farms–$185,000 75–C–P–Busted Hanover–Somebeachsomewhere–Bittorsweet Terror–Three Brothers Stable–Hanover Shoe Farms–$175,000 26–F–T–This Dreams On Me–Cantab Hall–Sleep Tight My Luv–Katz/Goldband/Libfeld–Peninsula Farm, agent–$170,000 99–F–T–Consuela Hanover–Muscle Hill–Cressida Hanover–Jules Siegel–Hanover Shoe Farms–$170,000 Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Freehold, NJ --- Helene Engblom and Shake It Cerry have traveled together to the races 60 times in the past four years, but their next trip is likely to be the most difficult. Shake It Cerry, the 2014 Trotter of the Year, is expected to make the final start of her illustrious harness racing career Saturday (Nov. 12) at the TVG Series Championships at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Engblom has been by Shake It Cerry’s side for nearly her entire career. As a yearling, Shake It Cerry connected immediately with Engblom and in the ensuing years the two forged a relationship that extends beyond racehorse and caretaker into the realm of friendship and family. “We have a very special bond and always have,” Engblom said. “She’s more than a horse. I can communicate with her. We can ‘talk’ and there’s not so many horses like that. I know what she wants, I know what she means. She knows what I want, she knows what I mean. “It’s very easy to work with her. I can feel her mood. (The communication) is more like eye contact. I can see in her eyes and in her face what she wants. She knows the same with me, if she can play or if it’s serious and she has to behave. She’s very special like that. I can trust her a hundred percent and she can trust me. The bond I have with Cerry, I’ve never had that with another horse in my whole life.” Shake It Cerry’s connection with Engblom revealed itself the moment they met. “I started with the yearling group right away,” said Engblom, who began working for the Jimmy Takter Stable, where her husband Per is second trainer, in November 2012. “One day I got to jog her and in the afternoon I put her away. The next morning when I came to the barn she started nickering to me when she saw me. So I said to Per and the guys ‘I want her. I think she likes me.’ It was love at first sight. That’s never happened before. We found a bond right away.” Shake It Cerry’s love extends beyond Engblom to her family. Engblom’s 9-year-old son, Tom, also has a special relationship with Shake It Cerry. The mare is Tom’s favorite horse and it seems that Tom is the mare’s favorite young man. If Tom is down, Shake It Cerry lifts him up. “One day he had his worst day ever, when everyone is against you and the whole world hates you,” Engblom said. “He was so sour. He just sat on a stool with his arms crossed and head down and wouldn’t talk to me. She was looking at him so I took her out and she went straight towards him and put her nose right here (on his shoulder) and just stood there quietly. “After a while he started to loosen up and soon he was himself again, laughing and jumping. She was like, ‘Come here little brother, I can cure you.’ She knew right away that something was wrong with him. It was amazing to see. “He’s spent almost half his life with her and she’s spent almost her entire life around him. He’s been brushing her, riding her, driving with her. They do everything together. They play sometimes and do silly games. They have that interaction. It’s fun to see. They are really good friends.” Shake It Cerry has won 29 of 61 career races and hit the board a total of 49 times, earning $2.78 million in purses. Her earnings rank fourth among all North American female trotters in harness racing history. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3, with her 15-for-17 campaign at 3 resulting not only in divisional honors but Trotter of the Year. “To see your horse be Trotter of the Year, that’s a dream,” Engblom said. “It’s not even a dream, it’s beyond a dream. Especially when you’re a horse girl and have been around horses your whole life. I was so proud. She was so good that year. It feels good to see a horse you love so much do so well.” Engblom has traveled with Shake It Cerry to every one of the horse’s races -- except Shake It Cerry’s first lifetime start. Shake It Cerry won that day at Pocono while Engblom was with 3-year-old pacer Source Of Pride, who also won that day, in a track-record performance at Yonkers. But from that moment on, Shake It Cerry would be Engblom’s source of pride. Shake It Cerry’s lifetime wins include two Breeders Crown finals (2013 and 2014), the 2013 Merrie Annabelle, Goldsmith Maid and Matron Stakes, 2014 Elegantimage, Kentucky Filly Futurity, Delvin Miller Memorial, Moni Maker, Matron, American-National and Zweig Memorial, and 2015 TVG Series Championship for older female trotters. Among Engblom’s favorites are the 2013 Merrie Annabelle -- a win Engblom predicted to Takter six months prior to the race -- and the 2013 Breeders Crown. “The Breeders Crown was kind of between her and Cooler Schooner,” Engblom said. “Everyone believed in Cooler Schooner, but Cerry was the best that day. I was crying so bad. I was crying and crying. (Winning driver) Ron Pierce went up to Per afterwards and said I’m so sorry I made your wife cry. “I cried at all the big races, more or less. She did so many insane races. The way she won sometimes, it was so nice to see her swish by all the horses. She’d come in full of energy and hardly breathing. Of course you want your horse to do good, but she was just the very best.” Another memorable race was the 2015 Graduate Series Championship at the Meadowlands, where a hard-charging Shake It Cerry lost by a nose to male rival JL Cruze in a world-record 1:49.4 mile. “She’s always been full of energy,” Engblom said. “She’s so super professional, both on and off the track, and always gives you her best. But the speed she had, I could feel it so early. You can feel the power she has. That’s something special.” Engblom is not looking forward to saying goodbye to Shake It Cerry, but she is happy her friend will be leaving the sport on her own terms and with the admiration of many fans and followers. “I’ve been around horses my whole life, had my own horses for many, many years, but this is the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do,” Engblom said. “When you work with them every day and then you go and the stall is empty, I don’t look forward to that. “But I’m prepared. I know it’s going to end. She’s always happy, but she’s not the same horse anymore. It’s time. So even if I’m sad, it’s the best thing to do for her.” And even when Shake It Cerry is gone, she won’t be out of Engblom’s sight. “Everything in my house is Cerry, Cerry, Cerry,” Engblom said, smiling. “She will always be around.”   by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Bridge To Jesse's will be at home in Friday's $220,000 Carl Erskine Stakes for harness racing 3-year-old trotters at Hoosier Park, but he faces a difficult road to victory. The winner of 21 of 27 career races --- with all but one of the starts coming at Hoosier Park --- Bridge To Jesse's will leave from post No. 1 in an Erskine field of 10 that includes newly minted Breeders Crown champion Bar Hopping as well as Breeders Crown finalists Sutton and Waitlifter K. Sutton finished third in this year's Hambletonian while Waitlifter K was fourth. Another Hambletonian finalist, Milligan's School, also is in the Erskine. "The race is a local race in our own front yard so we staked to it hoping it would come up a little weak maybe," said a laughing Roger Welch, who trains and co-owns Bridge To Jesse's with William "Bo" DeLong, Patrick DeLong, and Ray DeLong. "This is his chance to step up. The rail definitely helps us try to get a little crumb anyway. "It'll be fun to see what he can do," he added. "Maybe he'll be like the other Indiana-breds who have stepped out. We'll see if Jesse can. He's done quite well for us. Both last year and this year he's been real good to us." Last season, Bridge To Jesse's won 10 of 12 races and earned $309,093. He was the Indiana Sire Stakes 2-year-old male trotting champion and a track-record-setter at Hoosier Park. This year, he has won 11 of 15 races and earned $247,102. He had a six-race win streak snapped on Oct. 15 when he finished fourth in the Indiana Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old male trotters. He enters the Erskine off a second-place finish to Milligan's School in a division of the Circle City on Oct. 28. "He got a bad trip in the (Indiana Sire Stakes) final, but that's the only bad trouble we've had all year," Welch said. "He's got a great attitude. That's what I like most about him. And he's always been a strong, sound horse. He shows up to race every week. He tries a 110 percent. Those kind are hard to find and hard to replace. "On Saturday from the rail I know he'll try real hard. It's the end of the season, he's getting a little tired, but they all are. He's not a big horse, but he's got a big heart. He'll try. Hopefully he can hold his own and sniff a check out." Bridge To Jesse's is a son of stallion Jailhouse Jesse out of the mare Bridge To Nowhere. He was purchased for $28,000 at the 2014 Indiana Premier Yearling Sale and his family includes multiple Dan Patch and O'Brien award-winner Peaceful Way and stakes-winner Toocool Forschool. "He's got a license to be a nice little open horse," Welch said about the gelding, who has a career-best win time of 1:53.4. "He'll trot more next year. We've babied him this year. He doesn't have the flashy record, but when you do a breakdown of what the (1):53 miles are at Hoosier Park compared to somewhere else you can tell what his potential is." This will be Bridge To Jesse's final start of the year. "He's done everything we've asked him to do," Welch said. "I'll bring him back to my farm and let him grow and fill out and hopefully have a good 4-year-old and aged career. As of today, that's the plan. The option is there to sell him if anyone is interested, but we really haven't put him on the market. We'll pull his shoes off in the paddock and he can come home to the farm and have a little vacation." Bar Hopping is the 3-5 morning line favorite in the Erskine; Bridge To Jesse's is 12-1. Hoosier's card also includes the $200,000 Monument Circle for 3-year-old male pacers, $115,000 Crossroads of America for 3-year-old female trotters, and $112,500 USS Indianapolis Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Check Six, one of five horses from the stable of Ron Burke in the Monument Circle, is the slight 7-5 morning line favorite over stablemate Manhattan Beach at 8-5. Manhattan Beach finished second in the Breeders Crown and Check Six was third. Earn Your Wings, who finished fourth in the Breeders Crown, is the 5-2 favorite in the Crossroads of America and Indiana Sire Stakes champion Seventimesavirgin is the 8-5 favorite in the USS Indianapolis Memorial. Complete entries for the races may be found at this link. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager

To win a Breeders Crown is a great accomplishment. To reach 1,000 harness racing wins is a great accomplishment. Both together? Well, that's a combination not even Reese's can top. Tony Alagna on Saturday got his 1,000th victory as a trainer when Racing Hill won the $500,000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male pacers in a stakes-record 1:48 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. As he looks forward to starting on his next 1,000, one of the horses he will be watching is Western Hill in Thursday's Matron Stakes at Dover Downs. Western Hill is 5-1 on the morning line in the Matron for 2-year-old male pacers. He will start from post four in a field of eight, with Brett Miller driving. Mark Harder's Boogie Shuffle is the 5-2 favorite from post five. In other Matron events Thursday for 2-year-olds, Sortie, who won a Breeders Crown elimination and finished third in the final, is the 2-1 morning line favorite among male trotters; multiple-stakes-winner Fine Tuned Lady is the 9-5 choice among female trotters; and New York circuit standout Planet Rock is the 5-2 favorite among female pacers. Western Hill, bred and owned by Tom Hill, has won four of eight races this year and earned $62,910. He won Pennsylvania's Stallion Series championship and finished fourth, beaten three lengths, in Downbytheseaside's world-record-equaling 1:49 mile in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington's Red Mile. He was sixth in his elimination for the Breeders Crown, missing a spot in the final by a half-length. "He was too far back in his Crown elimination," Alagna said. "They charted his last three-quarters in 1:22.3 but he was just too far back. He raced great and came out of it great. He trained back very well. It's a tough bunch (in the Matron) but I think he fits. "The horse showed ability, he just didn't act like he was ready to go with the top colts right off the bat," continued the trainer, referring to the decision to compete in the Stallion Series rather than the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. "He was a little slower getting started, but he's always shown a quick turn of speed. I wanted to race him where he would feel good about himself. It's made him a horse. It's taught him how to race and gave him confidence. "I truly believe the horse can go with the better colts." Alagna's stable has earned $4.63 million this year, good for fourth among all trainers in North America, and won 125 races. In addition to the exploits of millionaire Racing Hill, he has enjoyed success with a group including Caprice Hill, Dr J Hanover, Signal Hill, Blameitonthenight, Everyones Watching, and Awash. He picked up his second Breeders Crown trophy with Racing Hill, to go with the one he garnered in 2013 with 3-year-old male pacer Captaintreacherous. That Racing Hill's triumph also gave him career win No. 1,000 was, as Alagna noted, "perfect timing." "It was great," said Alagna, who started his own stable in 2009. "I looked about a month ago and knew we were getting close, but I hadn't paid much attention to it lately. I didn't even realize that night until it was up on Twitter. It was very, very good to see that." Racing Hill finished fourth in his Crown elimination, which Alagna attributed to not shipping well to the Meadowlands for overnight detention, but rebounded to take the final by three-quarters of a length over Manhattan Beach. "I was tickled to death," Alagna said. "The trip worked out great. He still had to respond and get the job done and he was terrific. To not only win it, but to be the fastest Breeders Crown 3-year-old race ever says a lot to the track that night and to the horse and everything involved leading up to that race. "I truly believe that in his elimination he would have been equally as good. I thought we were really ready to go. I felt better about him than I'd felt in a long time, until he got off the truck. I was really concerned. And I was right, he wasn't himself. It just feels good to know that all the things we did to change the way he traveled and everything going into the final worked out and we were right on the money. It was a great feeling." Ken Weingartner

Freehold, NJ --- Five-year-old male pacer Always B Miki ended Wiggle It Jiggleit’s 12-week hold on the No.1 harness racing spot in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll thanks to his three-quarter length victory over his rival in last weekend’s Breeders Crown Open Pace. Always B Miki previously led the poll for weeks seven through 12. Wiggle It Jiggleit dropped to No. 2. Hannelore Hanover moved from sixth to third in the rankings after her victory in the Breeders Crown Mare Trot. Also getting a boost from Breeders Crown triumphs were 2-year-old filly trot champion Ariana G, 3-year-old male pace winner Racing Hill, and 2-year-old male trot victor Walner, who joined the Top 10 at No. 9. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all 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 24 – 11/1/2016  Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Always B Miki (25) 5ph 17-11-5-0 $1,291,292 338 2 2 Wiggle It Jiggleit (10) 4pg 24-15-7-2 $1,719,062 312 1 3 Hannelore Hanover 4tm 19-16-2-0 $1,021,111 245 6 4 Betting Line 3pc 15-14-1-0 $1,467,386 199 4 5 Marion Marauder  3tc 15-10-3-0 $1,484,532 167 3 6 Ariana G 2tf 11-9-1-0 $743,967 117 8 7 Racing Hill 3pc 15-7-5-2 $1,581,550 111 9 8 Resolve 5th 12-5-4-1 $1,310,513 108 5 9 Walner 2tc 7-6-0-0 $388,750 82 -- 10 Lady Shadow 5pm 19-11-2-1 $755,981 80 10     Broadway Donna (44); Huntsville (42); Bar Hopping (39); Pure Country (17); Bee A Magician (9); Flanagan Memory (8); Southwind Frank (4); Darlinonthebeach, Obrigado, Someomensomewhere (1).   Always B Miki - Breeders Crown     Always B Miki - world record     by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing driver Marcus Miller vividly remembers his first visit to a Breeders Crown winner’s circle a dozen years ago. There is no doubt he will never forget his most recent trip, either. The 27-year-old Miller on Saturday night teamed with his father, trainer Erv Miller, to win the $600,000 Breeders Crown for 2-year-old female pacers at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Someomensomewhere won by a flared nostril over Agent Q, being declared the champion after a lengthy photo-finish review. In the process, Erv Miller became the first trainer in history to win a Breeders Crown with a son in addition to having captured a trophy with a brother. In 2004, Erv and his brother, driver Andy Miller, both won their first Breeders Crown trophy with Restive Hanover in the 2-year-old filly pace at Woodbine Racetrack. “I cried in that winner’s circle,” Marcus Miller recalled. “My first cell phone, the ringtone was that race call of her coming down the stretch. I could do it word for word back then. That was amazing.” There were no tears from Marcus on Saturday night, only a big grin. “Heading back to the winner’s circle I was worried about that, but it was all smiles for me,” said Miller, whose win with Someomensomewhere came in his first Breeders Crown drive in a final. “I never pictured it to be any other way than with dad. He works so hard, and he’s taught me so much, it’s just everything coming to fruition.” A native of Illinois, Miller started driving regularly in 2009 and won multiple driving titles on the Chicago circuit before moving to the East Coast in 2013. His victories in the Midwest included a couple American-National Stakes and a number of state-restricted races. This year, Miller has won 258 races, including several open stakes divisions at the recently concluded Red Mile meet, and a career-high $4.75 million in purses. For his career, Miller has won 2,593 races. “It’s been a lot of work, but I can’t say it’s taken a long time,” Miller said about winning a Breeders Crown. “I’m pretty fortunate that way. I feel like I’m pretty young. Sometimes I feel like I’m still green, but I think I’m starting to prove that I can hang out with these guys.” Miller guided Someomensomewhere to victory at odds of 17-1 on Saturday, which might not come as a shock for a driver who has been dubbed “The King of the Longshots” in Pennsylvania. “I would love to be king of the favorites; that’s my next goal,” Miller said with a laugh. “We’ve loved (Someomensomewhere) all along. A couple of the starts in the middle of the year she just wasn’t healthy. We were more disappointed back then than we are surprised now. She’s just a very nice horse.” Someomensomewhere, owned by the Nick Surick Stable and Howard Schneidler’s KDM Stables, has won three of 11 races this year and hit the board a total of nine times on her way to $407,771 in earnings. When Miller brought her on to the track for her Breeders Crown final, he thought there was a good omen in the way she post paraded. “She was pretty grabby compared to last week, which I took as a good thing; she was feeling good,” Miller said. “When they said ‘go’ (Roaring To Go) was the only one inside of us leaving hard and (Idyllic Beach) was the only one outside of us leaving hard. I figured if I landed third, they’re not going to stop in my face. I’m going to have a shot at it. “Whether I could get there for everything from third I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be good enough to get a big chunk. She just had a lot of go and kept grinding it out. She really raced her heart out.” Someomensomewhere moved from third in the stretch to get the lead just prior to the finish line, and then held off Agent Q to her outside by a nose. “Right when we hit the wire I thought I’d hung on, but (Agent Q) was really pacing hard late so I knew it was very close,” Miller said. “I was ready for a dead heat. When they said ‘six’ I was pretty excited.” Prior to Saturday, Miller had not attended many Breeders Crown races since becoming a regular driver because he was usually working at a track elsewhere. “This is way better, when the work is the Breeders Crown,” he said, grinning. “I feel very fortunate.” So is there a new ringtone in Miller’s future? “I don’t know about that,” he said laughing. “But I’m definitely getting a big picture.”   by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

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