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Stakes-winner E L Titan has been absent from the Grand Circuit this season, but that is soon to change. The 3-year-old male trotter, who won three of five starts last season, including divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and Madison County, made his 2014 debut earlier this month and is getting ready for the Simcoe Stakes and Canadian Trotting Classic, both at Mohawk Racetrack. Riina Rekila, who trains E L Titan for breeder/owner Erkki Laakkonen, qualified E L Titan on July 4 at Mohawk, where he won in 1:57.4, but didn't see the colt make his first start until Aug. 9, when he was victorious by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2 in a conditioned race at Mohawk. "He had little issues, but we decided to start a little bit later with him," Rekila said. "He was staked to the Hambletonian too, but I entered him in a few overnights here and they didn't use the class, so I just came late with him. I can't just go and race (in the Hambletonian) without any normal races. "We hope he's good now until the end of the year." E L Titan is by the stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Courtney Hall, a stakes-winning full sister to millionaire Cameron Hall. E L Titan is Courtney Hall's fourth foal and the previous three -- E L Rock, Appomattox and E L Rocket -- each earned at least $233,000. Appomattox, who finished second in the 2012 Kentucky Futurity, leads the group with $414,548. Last year, E L Titan won his division of the International Stallion Stakes by a neck over Trixton in 1:53.4. The time was fifth fastest among all 2-year-old male trotters last season. He also finished second to Father Patrick in a division of the Champlain Stakes. "I really liked him," Rekila said. "He's lazy training, so you can't tell too much. We were very surprised he raced that well (on Aug. 9) because he had only one qualifier. At home, I just train him under saddle or on my sand track. I don't train him too fast, so I was happy he went (1):54 pretty easy at Mohawk." Rekila drove E L Titan as a 2-year-old, but Chris Christoforou was in the sulky for the colt's first start this season. Rekila hopes By Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications/USTAChristoforou will drive E L Titan again in the Simcoe, which is Aug. 30. "If he doesn't take him, I'll take him," Rekila said with a laugh. "I like Chris. He's nice with the horse and he's one of the best drivers up here. "I like to drive 2-year-olds because maybe they are not so handy to drive," she added in explaining why she gave up her seat behind E L Titan this year. "I know them, so it is easier." Following the Simcoe and Canadian Trotting Classic, E L Titan's stakes schedule includes the American-National, Galt, Yonkers Trot, and Breeders Crown. "I'm racing him lightly because we would like him to race as a 4-year-old as well, maybe when he's a little older," Rekila said. "The owner is the nicest person ever, so we can do whatever we want. He doesn't want me to push the horse. If there are issues we can wait and race the horse whenever he's ready. We just want to have a nice horse. "I like him," she added about E L Titan. "They're all horses, so you never know, but I think he's a very nice horse." By Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

While Father Patrick dropped from second to fifth place in this week's Top Ten Poll, Sebastian K remains a very firm #1 with 29 of 35 first place votes. The other six first place votes went to Sweet Lou.  Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 14 – 8/19/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (29) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 343 1 2 Sweet Lou (6) 5ph 12-9-1-1 $916,500 313 2 3 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 252 4 4 He’s Watching 3pc 8-5-1-1 $692,247 238 5 5 Father Patrick 3tc 8-6-1-0 $530,001 199 3 6 McWicked 3pc 11-7-3-0 $728,271 133 6 7 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 8-8-0-0 $248,598 95 7 8 JK Endofanera 3pc 10-6-2-1 $660,709 64 10 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 60 9 10 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 54 8 Also: Dancin Yankee (31), Shake It Cerry (26), Classic Martine (23), Yankee Bounty (16), Lifetime Pursuit, Rocklamation (14), Artspeak (12), Market Share (8), Modern Family (7), Centurion ATM (6), Somewhere In LA (5), Archangel, Sometimes Said (3), JK She’salady, Somwherovrarainbow (2), All Bets Off, I Like My Boss (1). Compiled by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

The third time's a charm for The Art Museum. At least that's how it's shaping up for the harness racing pacing broodmare. Her third foal is Artspeak, who has started his career with three consecutive wins, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. Artspeak, a son of stallion Western Ideal, races in the third of three Nassagaweya Stakes divisions for 2-year-old pacers Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. He heads to Canada off a 2-1/2 length win in 1:50.4 in a conditioned race Aug. 1 at the Meadowlands. No 2-year-old pacer has gone faster this season. "The mare's been knocking on the door and maybe this is the one that's going to make her a little more prolific," said Tony Alagna, who trains Artspeak. "It's too early to tell, but he's done everything we asked him to do so far. Now he'll go from the Jersey breds to open company, but he was very good in his last start at the Meadowlands. Saturday night we'll know more." Alagna is quite familiar with The Art Museum and her racing-aged offspring. The Art Museum was in the stable of trainer Erv Miller, where Alagna worked prior to starting his own barn, but never made it to the races because of an injury. Yet she made an impression. "She was a great gaited mare with a great pedigree and I had a feeling at some point she was going to throw something decent," Alagna said. "The first two foals were close, but not what this one has been. He seems like he'll be the best one the mare's had so far." The Art Museum's first foal, the filly Acquavella, at age 2 won a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second in a division of the Reynolds Memorial, but struggled with health issues. Her second foal, the now 3-year-old colt Fort Knox, last season finished second to Luck Be Withyou in a Champlain Stakes division and has earned $65,241. "Acquavella was meant to be a top filly," Alagna said. "She had some health problems and never reached her full potential. I thought she was meant to be a really good filly, so I went back the next year and bought Fort Knox. He's a nice horse, but just couldn't go to the next level. Artspeak looks like he's got all the tools to be a top horse." Purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale, Artspeak's family also includes 2007 Meadowlands Pace winner Southwind Lynx. Artspeak is owned by co-breeder Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, and In The Gym Partners. Artspeak is the 4-5 morning line favorite in his division of the Nassagaweya, starting from post eight with driver Scott Zeron. His division includes Battle of Waterloo runner-up Sporting The Look, plus Some Power, Read The Proposal, and Pierce Hanover. Some Power sold for $270,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale under the name Way Bay Hanover. His family includes Dan Patch Award winner Popcorn Penny and he is a half-brother to stakes-winners Westwardho Hanover and Woodstock Hanover. Read The Proposal is a full brother to stakes-winners Lucky Bettor, Bettor B Lucky, and Bet On Luck. Pierce Hanover is a full brother to stakes-winner Passmaster Hanover and top open performer Philos Hanover in addition to being a half-brother to stakes-winner Panther Hanover. Artspeak is among four horses from Alagna's stable competing in the Nassagaweya divisions. Edison -- whose family includes millionaires Delinquent Account, Artiscape, and Western Shore -- is in the first division while Trading Up and Rock On The Hill are in the second split. For many of the horses in the Nassagaweya, it is either a final prep for the upcoming Metro Pace at Mohawk, or an audition. "Myron Bell picked (Edison) out of the catalog because he's got a phenomenal pedigree and he's really started to come into himself his last couple starts," Alagna said, referring to co-owner Brittany Farms' racing manager. "Rock On The Hill was much improved his last start. I want to give him a shot to see if he's ready to go in the Metro, and if he's not, we'll skip it. But he's a horse on the improve. Trading Up was very sick his last start at The Meadows. He was loaded with mucous. We'll see if he fits in, as well. "It's a lot better to spend the $1,500 starting fee in the Nassagaweya to see how you fit compared to the starting fee in the Metro." The first Nassagaweya division also features Dream Maker Series champion The Wayfaring Man, as well as Late Night, who is a half-brother to millionaire Real Nice, and Asap Hanover, whose family includes multiple Dan Patch Award winner Eternal Camnation. Mohawk hosts a stakes event in Eternal Camnation's honor earlier on Saturday's card. Battle of Waterloo winner Go Daddy Go is in the second division, which also includes Badix Hanover, who is a full brother to millionaire Big Jim. Alagna also has three horses in Saturday's Eternal Camnation divisions for 2-year-old female pacers - Bedroomconfessions, Cashaway, and A Plus. In addition, two-time defending Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous is in the preferred pace. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak. His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too. "Win or lose, I'd always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him," Gingras said. "He's a great horse. He's provided me with great thrills so far, and I'm sure there are plenty more to come. "I'm looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is." Father Patrick's return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 - the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack - and went off stride at the start. The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky. "I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before," Gingras said after the race. "I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance. But he never will." Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat. "It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed," Gingras said. "When you focus on a race for so long, that's what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven't won one yet. That day had it all - the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he's accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn't feel like celebrating. "I do still think about it. It's a race I'll always want to take back, but you've got to live with it now at this point." Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian. "They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good," Gingras said about Father Patrick. "That was to be expected. There's nothing wrong with him, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday." The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter's daughter, Nancy Johansson. Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga. The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover. Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes. "There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that's for sure," Gingras said. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

McWicked is not the most energetic harness racing horse when enjoying an uncontested lead, but his lackadaisical manner can change in a hurry when necessary. The colt's determination is one of the attributes that impresses trainer Casie Coleman as she prepares McWicked for Friday's inaugural $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at Northfield Park. McWicked was not eligible to the Milstein, but the colt's connections paid $34,000 to get into the race. McWicked, who brings a five-race win streak to the Milstein, will start from post No. 1 with driver David Miller. For the year, McWicked has won seven of 10 races, including the Max C. Hempt Memorial and the Delvin Miller Adios, and earned $654,271 for owner Ed James' SSG Stables. During his string of victories, McWicked has not once lost ground in the stretch. In fact, he has won by no less than a length during that span and increased his advantage in the lane by a total of 8-1/2 lengths. "It's just his desire to win, how much guts he has," Coleman said. "Because he's a lazy colt, sometimes I look at him at the three-quarters pole and I'm a little worried that he's getting tired. As soon as Dave hits the head of the lane and a horse comes up to look at him, boom he's just gone. "There's hardly been a race that Dave's had him where he's been all out. He's been quite in hand coming to the finish in most of his races. I've been real happy with that." McWicked, a son of McArdle-Western Sahara, heads to the Milstein off a 4-1/4 length win over Let's Drink On It in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on Aug. 7 at Harrah's Philadelphia. The final preliminary leg of the series is Aug. 29 at The Meadows and the $260,000 championship is Sept. 7 at Philly. The three-week gap between McWicked's previous start and the next round of the sire stakes is the reason Coleman was searching for a race for McWicked. Following the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, the colt is expected to head to the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 18 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. "This race came up and it's a one-shot go for $400,000," Coleman said. "I talked it over with Ed James and we decided that it fits in pretty nicely, so we decided to go this route. I don't see why he wouldn't be good on a half(-mile track), but it's also a good test on a half before we go to the Jug. "Win, lose or draw it still gives me a couple weeks to freshen him up and get him ready for the sire stakes after this." For his career, McWicked has won 10 of 20 races and earned $833,888. He has finished worse than third only twice, most recently in the North America Cup on June 14 at Mohawk. He was fourth in that start, behind JK Endofanera, Tellitlikeitis, and He's Watching. It was the last time he lost a race. "He's been just superb every time he races," Coleman said. "Usually you'd think they'd start to get a little tired at this time of year with all the big miles they've been going, but this horse just seems to be thriving off it. "Every time I race him, I like him more and more. He seems to get stronger and stronger every time I put him behind the gate. I've been just thrilled with him." Following is the field in post order with drivers and trainers: 1. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman; 2. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3. Stevensville, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 4. Tellitlikeitis, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 5. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes; 6. Let's Drink On It, Tyler Smith, Joe Seekman; 7. Boomboom Ballykeel, Aaron Merriman, Virgil Morgan Jr.; 8. Seventh Secret, Mike Wilder, Dan Altmeyer. By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

Freehold, NJ --- Three-year-old filly pacer Sandbetweenurtoes improved to 8-for-8 this season and moved from No. 10 to seventh in this week’s harness racing Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sandbetweenurtoes won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and was the only horse in the Top 10 to improve its position from last week. The top six remained unchanged, with older male trotter Sebastian K holding onto the No. 1 spot, followed by older male pacer Sweet Lou. Sebastian K, who was idle, and Sweet Lou, who won the Dan Patch Invitational, were the only horses receiving first-place votes, with Sweet Lou adding two to his total from last week. Trotters Father Patrick and Trixton were next in the poll, followed by Empire Breeders Classic winner He’s Watching. McWicked, who won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, was sixth. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 13 – 8/12/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (29) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 343 1 2 Sweet Lou (6) 5ph 12-9-1-1 $916,500 312 2 3 Father Patrick 3tc 7-6-0-0 $520,992 245 3 4 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 244 4 5 He’s Watching 3pc 8-5-1-1 $692,247 220 5 6 McWicked 3pc 10-7-2-0 $654,271 157 6 7 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 8-8-0-0 $248,598 82 T10 8 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 62 8 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 57 9 10 JK Endofanera 3pc 9-5-2-1 $633,673 52 7 Also: Shake It Cerry (35), Classic Martine (34), Rocklamation (15), Centurion ATM, Lifetime Pursuit, Yankee Bounty (9), Artspeak, Market Share (8), Modern Family (7), Intimidate (5), Archangel (4), Dancin Yankee, Somewhere In L A (3), I Like My Boss, Sometimes Said (1). by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

For Foiled Again, it’s summertime and nothing is easy. But harness racing trainer Ron Burke is confident the 10-year-old pacer will return to prominence again. The three-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer, Foiled Again has won four of 14 starts this year and earned $300,100, but last visited the winner’s circle in mid-April. He will try to snap a 10-race skid when he heads to Saratoga Casino & Raceway for Saturday’s $260,000 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial. The entry box for the Gerrity closes at 4 p.m. Wednesday. For his career, Foiled Again has won 80 of 212 races and earned $6.33 million, which is the most money for any harness racing horse in North American history. He has gotten better with age, with the money he has banked since turning age 7 – $4.31 million – being good enough on its own to make him the richest pacer. “I feel bad for him,” Burke said. “He’s super right now. He’s drawn the wrong spots, but he’ll get himself going. He’ll come back.” Since joining the Burke stable in 2008, Foiled Again’s overall win percentage in June, July and August is 19.2 percent, with 11 wins in 57 starts. That makes him 61-for-109 the rest of the year, which is a win rate of 55.9 percent. And he’s hit the board an astounding 103 times in those 109 races. During the months from September through the end of the year, Foiled Again has won 32 of 56 starts since 2007 and finished on the board 54 times. Foiled Again will enter the Gerrity off a sixth-place finish in the U.S. Pacing Championship, where he was beaten by stablemate Sweet Lou by 5-1/2 lengths despite a :25.4 final quarter-mile. In his previous two starts, he was third from post seven in the Battle of Lake Erie at half-mile Northfield Park and eighth in the William R. Haughton Memorial from post 10 at the Meadowlands. At the end of June, he paced the fastest mile of his life, timed in 1:47.1, but finished third to Sweet Lou in a world-record 1:47 mile in the Ben Franklin Pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. “You watch the replay [of the U.S. Pacing Championship] and at the wire he’s absolutely airborne,” Burke said. “He came home as fast as anybody. “Now a couple of the smaller tracks are coming up and he’s always been good at Mohawk. We go to Saratoga with him, then Mohawk, and then we go to Harrington [Raceway] or maybe Scioto [Downs]. He’s sharp. He’ll be good.” Mohawk hosts the Canadian Pacing Derby, which Foiled Again won in 2012, on Aug. 30. Eliminations, if necessary, will be Aug. 23. Harrington is home to the Bobby Quillen Memorial, which Foiled Again has won twice and been runner-up three times, on Sept. 15. Eliminations will be a week earlier, if needed. Scioto Downs has the Jim Ewart Memorial Invitational on Sept. 27. Foiled Again ranks No. 6 in earnings among older male pacers this year. The leader is his stablemate, Sweet Lou, with $916,500. The 5-year-old Sweet Lou has a nine-race victory streak after winning last Friday’s Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park in a track-record 1:47.2. For his career, Sweet Lou has won 31 of 67 races and $3.03 million. He was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer and earned $1 million at age 3, but picked up only four wins in 2013. “I thought last year the torch would pass from Foiled to Lou, but I give credit to Foiled, he stepped his game up and Lou didn’t quite come through,” Burke said. “I’m not surprised this year. I don’t know if Foiled has ever run into a horse in the last couple years that’s as sharp as Lou is right now. It’s just a matter of whether Lou can maintain this until the end of the year. “But nothing Foiled does down the road will shock me. He’s just such a good horse.” Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Staffan Lind might have felt a little sick when he saw the result of the Peter Haughton Memorial earlier this month, but the harness racing trainer is hoping Billy Flynn's future is the remedy. Billy Flynn, a 2-year-old male trotter who is undefeated in four races, was not staked to the Haughton because of an injury he suffered soon after being purchased as a yearling for $120,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale. But in his second start, in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on July 15, Billy Flynn beat Haughton champion Centurion ATM by three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4 at The Meadows. Haughton runner-up Uncle Lasse finished third. At first, Lind wondered what Billy Flynn might have accomplished if he was in the Haughton. But the trainer put such thoughts aside quickly. "It's better to have a good horse and have regrets that you couldn't race than the other way around," Lind said. "He has his whole life in front of him. I'm sure he can prove himself." Billy Flynn's next start is Thursday in the fourth of four Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions for 2-year-old male trotters at Harrah's Philadelphia. He will leave from post three with regular driver Brett Miller and is the 8-5 favorite on the morning line. So far this year, the colt has earned $78,505 for owner Bender Sweden Inc., thanks to wins in divisions of the Pennsylvania All Stars, Arden Downs and two rounds of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. "He's a big horse with a big gait, but the best thing about him is his attitude," Lind said. "He will give you a hundred percent every time. He showed it right away. He was just waiting for me to ask him to go a little bit more." Billy Flynn is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the Enjoy Lavec-sired mare Zeta Jones. Three of Cantab Hall's five richest foals - Father Patrick, Uncle Peter, and Pastor Stephen - were out of dams sired by Enjoy Lavec and Billy Flynn's full brother Mr Chicago was a winner in both the U.S. and Europe. "He was a big, strong colt with a nice pedigree," Lind said about Billy Flynn, who was named after the smooth-talking lawyer in the musical "Chicago," which co-starred Catherine Zeta-Jones in the film version. "I like the cross with Cantab and Enjoy Lavec. We went for it. I thought he would be right around ($100,000). You never know at a sale. You try to set a limit for every horse you're bidding on, and in his case we probably would have gone a little bit more." Billy Flynn's early development was put on hold for nearly a month because the colt suffered a strained ligament behind a knee while being shipped to Lind's winter base in Florida. "When he walked off the truck he was lame," said Lind, adding with a resigned laugh, "That's the life of a horse trainer. That's the reason we never paid him into the Peter Haughton. He wasn't supposed to be racing that early." But Billy Flynn got to the races on July 4 and won his debut, in the Pennsylvania All Stars, by 6-1/2 lengths. Three weeks later, he captured his Arden Downs division in 1:56.2, equaling the stakes record. He has won his four starts by a total of 11-1/4 lengths. His remaining stakes schedule includes the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes, Valley Victory, Matron, and Breeders Crown. "We like him a lot," Lind said. "I hope by the end of the year people know about him. I wouldn't trade him for anyone else." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Trainer Dave Menary is focused on getting He's Watching prepared for Sunday's $255,525 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male pacers at Tioga Downs, but he's also looking forward to the colt's next probable challenge: A shot at the Pacing Triple Crown. The first jewel in the Triple Crown, the Cane Pace, is scheduled for Sept. 1 at Tioga Downs, with eliminations, if necessary, Aug. 24. He's Watching is not eligible to the Cane Pace, but Menary - who owns the horse with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust - is ready to pay the $35,000 fee to supplement to the race. "That's my game plan," Menary said. "I have a lot of goals. In the short term, I'm looking at Sunday. Right after Sunday, I'm concentrating on the Triple Crown. The Cane kicks it off. We've got to ante up and supplement to the Cane, and that's our plan. We plan on supplementing to the Cane. We plan on being there with bells on. "Hopefully things go well this week. We've got a decision to make and it's something I'll talk about with all my partners. But we're pretty confident in what we've got. You can't win the Triple Crown if you don't win the first leg of the Triple Crown." No horse has won the Pacing Triple Crown since No Pan Intended in 2003. The second jewel in the Triple Crown is the Little Brown Jug, to be held Sept. 18 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio, and the third is the Messenger Stakes, slated for Oct. 25 at Yonkers Raceway. He's Watching has won four of seven races this year and brings a three-race victory streak to the Empire Breeders Classic final. For his career, the son of American Ideal-Baberhood, has won 12 of 15 starts and $856,207. Last Sunday, He's Watching won his EBC elimination by a half-length over JK Endofanera in 1:51.1 over a sloppy track. He's Watching, who was making his first start since winning the Meadowlands Pace in a world-record-equaling 1:46.4 on July 12, starts the EBC final from post three with driver Tim Tetrick. He is the 4-5 favorite on the morning line. "He's had a super week," Menary said. "He keeps making me look good. I'm pretty confident heading to the final. We were lucky to get the job done in the elimination and we got to pick our post. I couldn't be happier with what I see. I trained him very easy, but I loved the way he trained on Wednesday. He loves his work." Last year, He's Watching was 8-for-8 and received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male pacer. Among his victories was a 1:50 triumph that established the track record for 2-year-old pacers at Tioga Downs, and at the time was the fastest mile ever by a 2-year-old colt on a five-eighths-mile oval. "I think I have the fastest horse going, but I think I also have one of the freshest horses going," Menary said, referring to He's Watching having two three-week layoffs since the end of May. "I'm pretty confident. He ships well, he does well; he's a special horse." JK Endofanera, who won the North America Cup on June 14, is among two horses in the EBC final trained by Ron Burke. The entry is 2-1 on the morning line despite JK Endofanera and driver Brian Sears drawing post eight. JK Endofanera has won five of eight races this year and nine of 15 in his career, with total earnings of $941,642 for owner 3 Brothers Stables. Winds Of Change, who won the other EBC elimination, will start from post one for driver David Miller and trainer Linda Toscano. His victory last Sunday, with Tetrick driving, was his first in six starts this season. The son of American Ideal-Art's Temptress, has won three of 13 career races, including divisions of the Champlain and Tompkins-Geers stakes, and is owned by Brittany Farms and Val D'Or Farms. Part of an entry with Jimmy Takter-trained Capital Account, Winds Of Change is 6-1 on the morning line. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

It would be easy for trainer Ron Burke to be confident as he prepares Sweet Lou for Friday's $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park. After all, his 5-year-old pacer brings an eight-race win streak to the event, with an unprecedented stretch of speedy miles to go with it. But Burke knows Sweet Lou isn't the only horse streaking into the Dan Patch. Dancin Yankee, the last horse to defeat Sweet Lou, also is among the pacers in the nine-horse field. Dancin Yankee, racing out of the stable of trainer Amber Buter, brings a six-race victory streak to the Dan Patch. It will be the first meeting between the two horses since Dancin Yankee won the Van Rose Memorial Invitational on May 3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Sweet Lou finished third, but since then has gone undefeated. "I think Lou is running into another horse that is racing as good as anyone in the country," Burke said. "I'm actually nervous. I think that horse is super sharp, career sharp, too. "There are other horses that could win too, but both those horses are on long win streaks. I think that's going to be a great race." Sweet Lou has won eight of 11 races this year and earned $791,500 for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. His wins include the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and Roll With Joe. His 1:47 victory in the Ben Franklin is the fastest ever on a five-eighths-mile track, breaking the previous mark of 1:47.2 that was shared by Dancin Yankee and Pet Rock. Sweet Lou has won each of his last five starts in less than 1:48, which is a record. He has been driven during his win streak by Ron Pierce. For his career, the son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future has won 30 of 66 races and $2.90 million. He was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer and earned $1 million at age 3, but picked up only four wins and $348,638 at 4. "I'm just so happy he's winning," Burke said. "It's enjoyable to watch him race right now. I've been such a believer all along and for him to do what we thought he could, nothing feels better." Burke, who on Saturday moved past Virgil Morgan Jr. to become the winningest trainer in harness racing history, also sends Bettor's Edge to the Dan Patch. The 5-year-old gelding has won six of 19 races this season and earned $421,781. He was second to Sweet Lou in the Franklin and Haughton and fourth in the U.S. Pacing Championship. Dancin Yankee has won 14 of 21 races this year and $315,140 for owners Baron Racing Stable and Rich Lombardo. The 6-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Dancewiththebest won the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in each of his last three starts. The remainder of the field is Thinking Out Loud, Night Pro, Carol's Comet, Heston Blue Chip, State Treasurer and Our Lucky Chip. "It ended up being a really good field," Burke said. Following is the field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Dancin Yankee, Tyler Buter, Amber Buter, 8-1; 2. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh, 6-1; 3. Night Pro, Peter Wrenn, Dale Decker, 20-1; 4. Carol's Comet, Aaron Merriman, Ron Potter, 15-1; 5. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 4-5; 6. Heston Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Linda Toscano, 15-1; 7. Bettor's Edge, Ricky Macomber Jr., Ron Burke, 10-1; 8. State Treasurer, Jody Jamieson, Ian Moore, 4-1; 9. Our Lucky Chip, Trace Tetrick, Jason Miller, 30-1.  By Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Freehold, NJ --- Sweet Lou moved nearer to No. 1 Sebastian K and Trixton pulled into a near dead heat with stablemate Father Patrick in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sebastian K remained in the top spot coming off his world-record-equaling win in last week’s John Cashman Jr. Memorial while Sweet Lou, who won the U.S. Pacing Championship, swapped places with Father Patrick to take over the second slot. Hambletonian winner Trixton vaulted from sixth to fourth, just one point behind Father Patrick. Mission Brief, who equaled the world record in winning the Merrie Annabelle Stakes, and Ima Lula Series winner Classic Martine, who also equaled a world record, joined the Top 10. Mission Brief is ninth while Classic Martine is tied with Sandbetweenurtoes for the final spot. Shake It Cerry dropped out of the Top 10. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 12 – 8/5/2014                                                Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (31) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 344 1 2 Sweet Lou (4) 5ph 11-8-1-1 $791,500 307 3 3 Father Patrick 3tc 7-6-0-0 $520,992 240 2 4 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 239 6 5 He’s Watching 3pc 7-4-1-1 $564,485 207 4 6 McWicked 3pc 9-6-2-0 $618,830 156 5 7 JK Endofanera 3pc 8-5-1-1 $569,792 59 8 8 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 56 10 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 49 -- T10 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 7-7-0-0 $211,157 47 9 T10 Classic Martine 4tm 9-7-0-1 $221,732 47 -- Also: Shake It Cerry (38), Dancin Yankee (37), Rocklamation (18), Centurion ATM (14), Market Share (12), Archangel (11), Intimidate, Lifetime Pursuit (10), Artspeak, Modern Family (7), Yankee Bounty (6), Perfect Alliance (2), Bee A Magician, I Like My Boss (1). Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications Courtesy of the U.S. Trotting Association

Verlin Yoder came to the big dance with no expectations and left singing a happy tune. Yoder's Natural Herbie, a standout on the Indiana circuit, won Saturday's $75,000 Vincennes Invitational for older trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack, besting Southwind Pepino and Master Of Law by more than a length in a career-best 1:51.4. The victory, before a Hambletonian Day crowd of nearly 21,000 fans, came in Yoder's first-ever drive at the Big M. The 40-year-old Yoder, an Indiana native, has won 110 races in his career. The Vincennes field included four Hall of Fame drivers not to mention three others that previously won the Hambletonian. "It still hasn't sunk in," said Yoder, who spends the race season in Indiana and winter in Florida. "It was an honor just to be in with those guys, let alone win. That means a lot. I've got a lot of respect for those guys. "Everybody (at home) is very excited. That was cool. It's a big deal to go from Hoosier to the Meadowlands. You don't get to go to the big city for a dance many times. For somebody to go out to the dance and win it, that's something. If you have a good horse, it makes you look good. I give the horse all the credit, not me." Yoder trains and owns Natural Herbie, who headed to the Meadowlands off three consecutive wins in the invitational handicap at Hoosier Park, each in a track-record clocking. The 4-year-old gelding, a son of Here Comes Herbie out of Ljanearl, is a two-time Indiana Sire Stakes champion and has won 19 of 38 career starts, good for $494,941. "We've known the horse was a nice horse," Yoder said. "He was racing here in Indiana and he was doing pretty good. He did real good last year. But I never knew if he was going to take that next step as a 4-year-old, because that's a pretty big step. "It was nice to have an opportunity to race (in the Vincennes). I had no expectations. I drove the horse all his life, and I like the horse, and it's in his hands, not mine. I was excited to be there that day. He was going to show me if he was going to go faster there or if he had enough heart to go with those guys. He stepped up to the plate and was big." Although Yoder had never driven at the Meadowlands, he was familiar with racing's big stage there. In 2008, Yoder's Azur was in the Hambletonian, but finished fifth in his elimination and failed to advance to the final. A former factory worker who used to build RVs, Yoder has been involved in harness racing since 2004. It started as a hobby, but turned into a fulltime pursuit. He enjoyed his best year in 2013, when he conditioned not only Natural Herbie but Indiana Sire Stakes 3-year-old female trotting champion Lady Blitz. "I quit with both of them after the sire stakes finals in September and turned them out for 10 weeks," Yoder said. "I wanted to see if it would help them in later years and it looks like it was the right choice." Yoder bought Natural Herbie just prior to the start of his racing career as a 2-year-old. "I took him to the fairs and in his first start I thought he might be a little something," Yoder said. "But it took me about six or eight weeks before he started showing me he had high-end speed. Then he just kept getting better. He's really developed into a nice horse." Yoder is uncertain when Natural Herbie will race next. The gelding is not staked to many races, other than the Indiana Sire Stakes in October. "I always said if he's that kind of (top) horse I can nominate him as a 5-year-old," Yoder said. "Four-year-old, it's a big step. He doesn't owe me nothing. "I'll start him out here in a couple weeks or something. He'll be off this week, and next week we have a break at Hoosier. I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I'll get something figured out. I might end up taking him and (Lady Blitz) out east somewhere. I'll just play it by ear right now." And maybe listen for the music of another big dance. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

The fact that trainer Nancy Johansson will make her Hambletonian debut against her dad, Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter, is one of the big storylines entering Saturday's race. And while Johansson understands and appreciates the interest, it's not something that's really on her mind. Especially since, hey, there will be other trainers there too! "It's no different to race against him than anybody else," said Johansson, who trains Hambletonian starter Resolve, adding with a laugh. "It's a horserace, there has to be other horses in there. He's one of the top trainers with one of the biggest barns, so I expect him to be there." The two have teamed up for previous Hambletonian success, as Nancy was the caretaker for Takter's 2010 winner, Muscle Massive. She grew up learning the trade under Jimmy, who also won the 1997 Hambletonian with Malabar Man, having said in the past "I tell people that from going to my dad's 'school' I got a PhD in training." But neither wants to mix business with pleasure, especially when it comes to head-to-head competition. "We don't talk about it," Nancy said. "When we have family time, we talk about grandkids or other stuff. "But we're both very competitive. I think deep down inside, if somebody beats him he would want it to be me. But it's really deep down because he really wants to win first himself." And Takter has a good chance this year with favorite Father Patrick, along with two other highly regarded horses in the race - Trixton and Nuncio. This won't be the first time father and daughter pitted their Hambletonian horses against each other. On July 19, Resolve finished second to Nuncio in the Reynolds Stakes. Resolve has won two of seven races this year and hit the board six times. He has four wins in 19 career starts, earning $45,950. The horse is owned by Hans Enggren, who won the 1985 Hambletonian with Prakas. Enggren is looking for another shot at Hambletonian glory, which is why he bought Resolve just a few weeks ago. "He was pretty much purchased with the idea he was going to race in the Hambletonian," Johansson said. "Hans is getting up in age and he wants another go at the Hambletonian. He had seen the horse last year and liked him." Enggren saw him again early in the spring and liked him just as much, if not more, but Resolve was not for sale. When he was put on the market, Hans made his move. "We knew that if he raced good in the Reynolds he was going to the Hambletonian," Johansson said. "I didn't really expect him to race that good, so that was a good surprise. He's been solid all year. "He's a nice horse. I think he's going to mature into a nice older horse. He's not staked to a lot this year, so he's going to have a kind of low-key 3-year-old season." Winning the Hambletonian would certainly turn the key up a notch, and Johansson is happy with drawing the No. 1 post. But she was unhappy to see her dad's top horse get stuck in the difficult 10 hole. "The draw helped us, but I didn't like to see Father Patrick draw bad," Johansson said. "He deserves to win the Hambletonian because he's just such an extremely fine animal. With post 10, anything can happen. "I wouldn't be surprised if things shake out differently than expected, too." One of Takter's trademarks is trying new things with a horse entering a final. Nancy is unsure if that will be necessary with Resolve. "I don't know yet. We'll see," she said. "We changed a lot on the horse already. I think you have to be careful how much you change in a short amount of time. "I feel pretty confident we have him the way we want him. He trained absolutely fantastic (Wednesday) morning. I couldn't ask for a better training session than he had (that) morning. I don't really feel like there is anything we need to take care of. Everything feels very even keel right now. It's a good situation." And, as far as Johansson is concerned, a situation like any other when it comes to the trainers she will be facing in this race. Story by Rich Fisher for the Hambletonian Notes Team Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications  

Centurion ATM is the type of horse that seems ready to step up when it's time to race. The 2-year-old trotter didn't do much to impress trainer Ake Svanstedt before beginning his rookie campaign, but Svanstedt has been happy with the colt since he started going behind the gate. Last week, Centurion ATM won the single elimination for the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial by 3-1/2 lengths over Uncle Lasse in 1:54.2. It was Centurion ATM's first victory after second-place finishes in his first two races. "He's a racehorse," Svanstedt said. "He trained from the beginning and he was a normal horse until he qualified. Then he was something special. Before the qualifier, he did the job and was a nice and friendly horse, but he was nothing special. He loves to race." Centurion ATM will start the Haughton Memorial from post one, with Svanstedt handling the driving, as usual. The colt is 3-1 on the morning line, which makes him the third choice behind New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Guess Whos Back (2-1) and NJSS runner-up Canepa Hanover (5-2), who received byes to the final. The race is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Centurion ATM is a son of SJ's Caviar out of the mare ENS Tag Session. He was purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale and is a full brother to stakes-winner Triumphant Caviar. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting and Courant AB. "I hope he can do a good race," Svanstedt said. "If everything is normal, he can do a good race. I think he has potential. We'll see." Svanstedt, who was Sweden's Trainer of the Year five times and Driver of the Year on three occasions, will have nine horses racing on Saturday's card. "Absolutely, I'm looking forward to it," he said. In addition to Centurion ATM, he sends out Amicus in the Haughton plus Doncango in the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, Heaven's Door in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, Sebastian K and Your So Vain in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, Home Front and DD's Hitman in $50,000 divisions of the Townsend Ackerman for 3-year-old trotters, and Blixtra in the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey for 3-year-old female pacers. Sebastian K, the fastest trotter in harness racing history thanks to his 1:49 mile at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in June, is the 3-5 favorite in the Cashman Memorial. He has won six of seven races this year and is coming off a 3-1/4 length triumph over Mister Herbie in 1:51 in his Cashman elimination. "Everything was good in the last race," Svanstedt said. "And he loves the Meadowlands and the big track. He feels very good at the Meadowlands. He is a different horse at the Meadowlands." Sebastian K's only loss came by a nose to Intimidate in the Maple Leaf Trot on a sloppy track at Mohawk. "He didn't win in Canada, I think he left too fast and the track was very heavy," Svanstedt said. "We opened in :26.4 in the first quarter and that's too fast on that heavy a track, so he would be tired. He was tired, but he lost by just a nose, so he was good. He fought." Svanstedt did not plan to train Sebastian K during the week. "He is just going to go in the paddock every day for the whole day," Svanstedt said. "This is four weeks [of racing] in a row and he's never done that before. It's very different for him. But I'm not worried because he felt so good in the last race." Heaven's Door is the 9-2 third choice in the Hambletonian Oaks, behind world champion Designed To Be (2-1) and Delvin Miller Memorial winner Shake It Cerry (5-2). Heaven's Door has won two of five races this year, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly trotters, and finished second in the Miller. "There are tough horses in there, but I have a good horse too," Svanstedt said. "She has everything. She pulls a little, but she is getting better with that. Some races she pulls a lot and I cannot drive slowly. The one time [in a race in May] she galloped at the start because she is pulling so much. But she is getting better." Doncango, a 20-1 longshot in the Hambletonian, has only raced once this year - winning in 1:54 - after battling leg woes throughout the winter. "It's tough for him," Svanstedt said. "We had a lot of problems with him at the beginning. But he trained tough and feels good. He's trained three months without problems and feels sound. "If he can earn money, we'll be really happy." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Sweet Lou and driver Ron Pierce have teamed to win seven consecutive races, but Pierce believes he deserves none of the credit for the hot streak. He also believes the best is yet to come. Sweet Lou, who has won 29 of 65 lifetime races and $2.78 million in purses, is enjoying the best stretch of his award-winning career as he heads into Saturday’s $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship at Meadowlands Racetrack. Sweet Lou, who starts from post seven, faces eight foes, including Captaintreacherous, State Treasurer, Golden Receiver, and Ron Burke-trained stablemates Foiled Again, Bettor’s Edge, and Clear Vision. The race is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. “It’s just unbelievable how good they have him right now,” Pierce said about Sweet Lou. “The Burke crew really has him sharp. “It’s not me, believe me, it’s the horse. The horse is doing everything pretty much on his own. I’m just a passenger. I think if any of the top guys would’ve gotten on this horse he’d be doing the same thing. I’m giving all the credit to the Burkes and their crew. They’re doing all the work. All I do is sit there.” Pierce started driving Sweet Lou in May and the two have teamed to win the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, and Roll With Joe stakes during their seven races together. It is Sweet Lou’s longest win streak, topping his six consecutive victories bridging his 2- and 3-year-old seasons. Sweet Lou was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner as harness racing’s best 2-year-old male pacer and earned more than $1 million at age 3, but endured a stretch of just four wins in 31 starts prior to his recent surge. “I wasn’t sure [what to expect],” Pierce said, looking back to when he started driving Sweet Lou. “I’d raced against him plenty, but no I didn’t really think he was going to be winning these kinds of races so easily. I just happened to get on him at the right time. “It’s such a pleasure to race this horse because he’s so good. You can do anything you want to do. If you want to take back, you take back; if you want to go forward, all you have to do is feed him racetrack. And then he’ll come right back to you once he gets to the top. It’s just a pleasure. It’s a thrill.” Sweet Lou, owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura, still holds the world record of 1:49 for a 2-year-old pacer and this season became the fastest horse ever on a five-eighths-mile track when he captured the Ben Franklin in 1:47 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The fastest race mile in history is 1:46.4, a mark shared by Holborn Hanover, Somebeachsomewhere, Warrawee Needy, and He’s Watching. But Pierce thinks Sweet Lou could take down that mark sometime in the future. “If Ronnie tells me to shatter the world record, I will,” Pierce said. “He could do it, no problem. But I want to keep him within himself for as long as I can. It’s better for him. The longer I can go without stretching him out, the better off he’s going to be in the long run. I’m not going to be showboating or anything like that. “But I’m sure Ronnie is going to come to me one of these days under the right conditions and say to go ahead and shatter the world record. And then I will.” Following is the U.S. Pacing Championship field in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Golden Receiver, Corey Callahan, Jake Huff; 2. State Treasurer, David Miller, Ian Moore; 3. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh; 4. Sunfire Blue Chip, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 5. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 6. Bettor’s Edge, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke; 8. Captaintreacherous, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna; 9. Clear Vision, Brett Miller, Ron Burke. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

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