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Harness racing trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and driver David Miller have teamed up to win a number of open stakes races in recent years, but never with a horse they owned together. That could change Saturday. Miller and Norman share ownership of Cufflink Hanover, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday's $140,800 Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway. The gelding has won four of 10 career races, including his Dexter Cup elimination last weekend in 1:57.3 --- the fastest of the three elims for the event --- and earned $70,914. Cufflink Hanover will start the Dexter Cup final from post three, with Miller in the sulky. Miller on Wednesday became the third driver in harness racing history to surpass $200 million in career purses. "We hope we can have a little fun with him; that was the idea," said Norman, whose major stakes wins with Miller include the 2012 Hambletonian Oaks with Personal Style and a 2009 Breeders Crown with Poof She's Gone. "We'll see how it goes. "He raced good last week and got a good draw. We'll have to see how the race goes, but he's going to show up there." The Dexter Cup is the first major stakes event for 3-year-old trotters on the road to August's $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Last year's Dexter Cup winner, Habitat, reached the Hambletonian and finished seventh in the final. Less than a month later, he won the Yonkers Trot. In 2013, Dexter Cup runner-up Dontyouforgetit also went on to race in the Hambletonian and four years ago Market Share competed in the Dexter Cup --- he lost a shoe early in the race and went off stride --- and later won the Hambletonian. Cufflink Hanover, Dominion Beach, and Dante won last week's Dexter Cup eliminations. They are joined in Saturday's final by second-place finishers Steed, Sir Royson, and Inukchuk Chuck. Two third-place finishers chosen by lot, Credevie and Hillman, also advanced to the final. Dominion Beach and Steed are eligible to the Hambletonian. Stakes-winner Dominion Beach, trained by Nancy Johansson, and lightly-raced Dante, trained by Ake Svanstedt, will race as an entry because both are owned by Anders Strom's Courant A B. Dante, a son of Credit Winner out of the stakes-winning mare Michelle's Angel purchased as a yearling for $355,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale, is a full brother to millionaire Archangel. Cufflink Hanover was selected by Miller and purchased for $30,000 as a yearling at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. A son of Andover Hall out of the mare CR Savoire Faire, his family includes 1995 Horse of the Year CR Kay Suzie and multiple-stakes-winner CR Renegade. "When I broke him for David, I liked him," said Norman, who owns horses under the Enzed Racing Stable. "I just liked his gait. He had a great gait and a good attitude. He's a nice-looking horse. He was easy to like." Although Cufflink Hanover is not eligible to the Hambletonian, the horse's stakes schedule includes the Yonkers Trot, Currier & Ives, Keystone Classic, Matron, and Tompkins-Geers. "We didn't think he was a top-level horse," Norman said. "He's kind of a second tier horse, but he's a nice solid horse. He acts like he can get around a half-mile track good, which should help." In the Dexter, the entry of Dominion Beach and Dante is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Dominion Beach will start from post five with driver Marcus Johansson while Dante will leave from post seven with Svanstedt at the lines. Dominion Beach, a son of Muscle Hill out of the Dan Patch Award-winning mare Windylane Hanover, has won two of three races this year, including his Dexter elim in 1:58. A full brother to multiple-stakes-winner Muscle Diamond, Dominion Beach has won three of 12 races lifetime and earned $98,267. Dante won his Dexter elimination in 1:58.3 in his seasonal debut. The colt was winless in two races last season. Sir Royson, from the stable of trainer Linda Toscano, drew post No. 1 and is 7-2 on the morning line. Sir Royson, who has won three of six career races and finished off the board only once, will be driven by Jim Marohn Jr. Steed, trained by Richard Johnson, will start from post eight in the eight-horse field and is 4-1 on the morning line. Matt Kakaley is the driver. "The other winners of the eliminations drew outside of us, so I think we got the best draw of the winners," Norman said. "I think (Sir Royson) is pretty decent too. It's one of those half-mile track races and we'll just have to see how things go. We'll need a little bit of luck but he should be right there." Ken Weingartner

Darlinonthebeach handed Pure Country the first loss of her career in last weekend's eliminations for Saturday night's $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Stakes, but harness racing trainer Nancy Johansson knows her filly faces another challenging task ahead. Johansson trains Darlinonthebeach for breeder/owner White Birch Farm. Darlinonthebeach, who is 2-for-2 this year after hitting the board in nine of 10 races last season, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Miss Pennsylvania, which is restricted to Pennsylvania-sired 3-year-old female pacers. Darlinonthebeach will start the final from post four with David Miller in the sulky. Pure Country, who was unbeaten in 10 starts in 2015 and received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old female pacer, will leave from post six with driver Brett Miller and is the 3-1 second choice. She made her seasonal debut in the first of three Miss Pennsylvania eliminations and finished third after getting to the front following a :26.3 opening quarter-mile and leading into the stretch. Newborn Sassy, who finished second to Darlinonthebeach's 1:50.4 mile in that elim, is 5-1 on the morning line and will start from post two with driver Tim Tetrick. Newborn Sassy won eight of 10 races last year, including the Matron Stakes, for training tandem of Jim King Jr. and Jo Ann Looney-King. Call Me Queen Be and I Said Diamonds, the remaining two elimination winners, will leave from posts five and nine, respectively. Call Me Queen Be, with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Ross Croghan, is 4-1 on the morning line and I Said Diamonds, with Matt Kakaley in the bike for Matias Ruiz, is 10-1. "I think Pure Country is a great filly," said Johansson, who is the daughter of Pure Country's trainer, Jimmy Takter. "She needed that race. Newborn Sassy needed that race too; it was the first start of the year for them. I'm sure Pure Country and Newborn Sassy are going to be much better this week. They're going to be tighter. It's going to be a good race." Darlinonthebeach is a daughter of stallion Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Darlin's Delight. White Birch Farm also bred, raced and owns Darlin's Delight, who earned $2.90 million in her career and received the 2006 Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old filly pacer. Last year, Darlinonthebeach won two of 10 races, including a division of the International Stallion Stakes, and finished second on five occasions, including the She's A Great Lady Stakes. "It seems like she's matured a little bit from last year," Johansson said about Darlinonthebeach. "She grew up quite a bit; filled out quite a bit from last year. I think that helps. When they get stronger they can carry their speed a little longer. Mentally I think she's a bit more focused than she was last year. It all just needs to come together, which so far it has." Darlinonthebeach's only off-the-board finish came in last October's Breeders Crown final, where she finished sixth after going off stride at the halfway point. But Darlinonthebeach made up ground with a :26.4 last quarter-mile that was nearly one-second quicker than any other horse in the race. "It was unfortunate in the Breeders Crown that she ran into the horse in front of her because I think she would have been right there on the wire with Pure Country in that start," Johansson said. "She made up an enormous amount of ground; she was really sharp that day. But that is what it is; you can't change that now." Because she won only twice last year, Johansson was able to qualify Darlinonthebeach once and then put the filly into a conditioned race for Pennsylvania-preferred female pacers ages 4 and under. Getting a start prior to the Miss Pennsylvania eliminations was an advantage, she said. "Qualifying and racing is a big difference," Johansson said. "But you don't want to race these 3-year-old fillies against open (level) mares. For her, she had the advantage where she was still in non-winners of three and Pennsylvania-bred, so I had an option to race her somewhere. "I think she raced really well (last weekend)," the trainer added. "She went (1:)50.4 under no urging whatsoever. When I watched the replay I realized David didn't even encourage her to go coming down the stretch. He just pulled the earplugs and she was off. So I was happy with it. So far so good." Pocono will conduct two race cards Saturday sandwiching the Kentucky Derby. The first card, with first-race post time of 11 a.m., features three divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for 3-year-old male trotters. The evening card, in addition to the Miss Pennsylvania, includes the $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic for Pennsylvania-sired 3-year-old male pacers. Ken Weingartner

Harness racing trainer Ron Burke will send four horses to Saturday night's $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and he is undecided, at this point, which is the best. Of course, with three of them leading the morning-line odds, it is easy to understand why. "It looks like they're all at least good," Burke said about his quartet, led by morning-line favorite Check Six and also including JK Will Power, Big Top Hanover, and Manhattan Beach. "If there is anyone that I'd lean toward that I think is my best one, especially on a big track, it's Check Six. But after the other day I really couldn't tell." Check Six and JK Will Power won last weekend's eliminations for Saturday's final, which is for Pennsylvania-sired 3-year-old male pacers. Check Six edged Big Top Hanover by a nose in 1:50.4 and JK Will Power defeated The Catamount Kid by a neck in 1:51.1, with Manhattan Beach finishing third. Last year, Check Six won four of nine races and earned $114,889 for owners Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, William Switala, and James Martin. He put together a four-race win streak after a third-place finish in his debut and second-place finish two weeks later. But he stepped on a nail and was slow to regain his form after battling an infection. A son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Southwind Vanna, Check Six is 2-for-2 this season and will start the Pennsylvania Classic from post four with driver Yannick Gingras. Check Six is a half-brother to Sagamore Hills Pacing Series champion Rodeo Romeo and his family includes 1994 O'Brien Award winner Village Jiffy. "I thought he was my best colt last year, for sure," Burke said. "I didn't even think it was a question. Then he stepped on a nail and it took him forever to get over the infection. But he's come back great." JK Will Power, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, also is 2-for-2 this year. Last season, the son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the stakes-winning mare Whats New Pussycat won two of nine races and earned $123,757 for owner 3 Brothers Stables. His family includes past Breeders Crown champ Molly Can Do It and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ Billie Bluechip. "He was super," Burke said about JK Will Power's elimination, where he took the lead prior to the halfway point and held off The Catamount Kid. "He doesn't love the lead, and he still fought off (The Catamount Kid). He's a little bit lazy; he's better with a target." JK Will Power, who starts Saturday from post three with driver David Miller, battled growing pains last year but is much improved this season. "I think it's going to lead to him being a lot better horse," Burke said. "I can see him taking a big step in the right direction." Big Top Hanover won last year's Matron Stakes and a division of the International Stallion and finished second in the Breeders Crown. All totaled, he won four of 15 starts in 2015 and earned $450,253 for owners JT45 and Burke Racing Stable. This year, he has a second- and third-place finish in two starts. The colt is 4-1 on the Pennsylvania Classic morning line and will leave from post one with driver Matt Kakaley. His second dam, Ain't No Stopn Me, was a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion and the mother of stakes-winner Cheyenne Rei. His family also includes stakes-winners Ain't No Stopn Him and Lon Todd Hanover, as well as Artstopper, who is the dam of Breeders Crown winner Always B Miki and Blue Chip Matchmaker Series winner Yagonnakissmeornot. "He's not the flashiest colt, but then you put him in a race and he does even better than you think he's going to," Burke said. "I don't know how good he is. But (post one) is a great spot for him." Manhattan Beach will start the Pennsylvania Classic from post nine in the nine-horse field and is 10-1 on the morning line. The gelding will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr. Last year, Manhattan Beach won one of nine races and earned $97,559 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Geoffrey Lyons Mound, and Wingfield Brothers. He has a win and a third in two starts this season. A son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the world-champion mare Benear, he is a full brother to 2014 Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship runner-up Momas Got A Gun. "He was the only one that finished (last week) raging with pace," Burke said. "I thought it was a great prep for him. Where he drew is a disaster, but it is what it is." Burke said it was a challenge to get horses ready this early for a major test, but the allure of a half-million-dollar purse was too difficult to pass. "Most of the horses going in there were coming off qualifiers or one start," Burke said. "It was hard to get them ready like that. But it's very hard to give that race up. You win this race, for any of these colts, their year is made." Pocono will conduct two race cards Saturday sandwiching the Kentucky Derby. The first card, with first-race post time of 11 a.m., features three divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for 3-year-old male trotters. The evening card, in addition to the Pennsylvania Classic, includes the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania for Pennsylvania-sired 3-year-old female pacers. Ken Weingartner

For horse owner Joe Battaglia, a trip to the United States Trotting Association Driving School in 2012 had little to do with becoming a trainer or driver, but everything to do with enhancing his enjoyment of harness racing, not to mention his level of participation. Battaglia, who got his first horse in 2006 and two years ago joined the ownership group of top older male pacer Rockeyed Optimist, attended the USTA Driving School in Goshen, N.Y., not far from his home near Saratoga Springs. It was the first of four consecutive years of the school being conducted in upstate New York. This year, the 17th annual edition of the Driving School will be held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Delaware, Ohio, home of the Little Brown Jug, June 1-4. The school begins Wednesday evening (June 1) with a welcome reception/dinner and keynote address from George Teague Jr., owner of 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit and trainer of 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue. Classroom and hands-on instruction will be conducted each day Thursday through Saturday. In addition to offering basics for driving and training, the school’s curriculum has been expanded to include information on ownership of Standardbreds. “It was a great experience,” said Battaglia, a CPA who has horses with trainer John Mongeon in Saratoga. “It was a lot of fun. I wanted to be a little more hands on. I like going to the barn. I try to stay out of the way because everyone there knows what they’re doing, but I thought if I could occasionally jog a horse it would be interesting to learn how to do it. “I don’t have any aspirations of driving or training; I think those are beyond my skill level. But it’s fun to know I can take one of my horses out and jog them.” Battaglia grew up going to the Thoroughbred and Standardbred races in Saratoga Springs. When he and some friends decided to give horse ownership a try, they partnered on a harness racing horse. “We started with Standardbreds not knowing where it would go from there,” Battaglia said. “I just really enjoyed the breed and the people I dealt with, so that’s where I stayed. There are options for Thoroughbred ownership up here, but I like the Standardbred game because you can be more hands on, more involved.” In addition to owning horses, Battaglia is the president of Heading for Home Racehorse Retraining/Adoption Center in Saratoga Springs. The not-for-profit organization was founded in 2011 and also features equine-assisted therapy in cooperation with ECS Psychological Services of Saratoga. A therapy arena was constructed with funds raised in memory of horseman Alan Kirschenbaum. Standardbred horse owner Erin Christopher-Sisk founded ECS Psychological Services and serves as clinical director. Her husband, Jim, also attended the USTA Driving School in 2012, as did Heading for Home Treasurer John Cimino. “It was a spinoff of ownership,” Battaglia said about the organization, which currently is home to seven horses, primarily Standardbreds. “We thought there should be an organization formed to better help provide an option for people who wanted to stand behind a horse after their racing days were over. We slowly gathered momentum and now have a permanent location.” Battaglia looks back fondly on his participation in the USTA Driving School and still keeps in touch with a number of people who were involved in the program. “It was nice to be around people who were enthusiastic about the business,” Battaglia said. “The people who worked with us were very nice and very helpful, from the USTA to the people in the barns. I was in (trainer) Rob Harmon’s barn. It was fun to learn the behind-the-scenes aspect of the business. As an owner, being around the barn is as much fun as race day. “It was a great time. I would recommend that anyone interested in the business go try it out.” For more information about this year’s Driving School, or to enroll online, click here. Those interested in attending should not delay; enrollment is limited. Click here to learn about incentives for attending the program. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Carl Sackheim has high expectations for 3-year-old male pacer Another Daily Copy, but rather than spending a lot of time talking about the colt, he hopes the horse's performance on the racetrack speaks for itself. A 72-year-old New Yorker, Sackheim bred and owns Another Daily Copy, who competes Saturday in the first of two eliminations of the Pennsylvania Classic, for 3-year-old Pennsylvania-sired male pacers, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Sackheim, who started a court reporting business in 1980, often names horses with references to his line of work. The dam of the Somebeachsomewhere-sired Another Daily Copy is Court Stenographer. "I believe he's a top-line horse," said Sackheim, who has Another Daily Copy staked to events including the Meadowlands Pace, Adios, Cane Pace, and Progress Pace. "We'll see. Talk is cheap; the horse has got to produce. We've been getting him ready, taking it slowly. I'm very optimistic. We'll find out what this year will bring." Another Daily Copy will start his Pennsylvania Classic elimination from post eight with George Napolitano Jr. at the lines for trainer Nicholas DeVita. Another Daily Copy is 20-1 on the morning line. Ron Burke-trained JK Will Power is the division's 5-2 favorite. Burke also has the favored entry in the second elimination --- Check Six and Big Top Hanover --- at 5-2. In addition to the Pennsylvania Classic eliminations, Saturday's card at Pocono includes three eliminations of the Miss Pennsylvania for 3-year-old Pennsylvania-sired female pacers. Pure Country, who was undefeated in 10 races last season and received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old filly pacer, is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the first elim. Sackheim bought his first harness racing horse in the mid-1970s and found his first stakes-level performer in Vac's Happy Cress with partners Ed Cappucci and Ron Jacobson in 1983. Among his recent successes was Another Amaretto, who finished third in the 2012 Kentucky Futurity. His ties to Another Daily Copy date back to 1999, when he bought broodmare Secret Patrol. The Albatross-sired Secret Patrol, the third dam of Another Daily Copy, was a half-sister to Delinquent Account, who was a star on the racetrack and as a broodmare. Delinquent Account was a Dan Patch Award-winner in 1991 as a pacing mare and later the mom of Dan Patch Award-winner Artiscape and grandam of millionaires If I Can Dream, Western Shore, and Strike An Attitude. Secret Patrol produced Whats My Line for Sackheim. Whats My Line, who won the consolation division of the 2003 Kentucky Sire Stakes, is the dam of Court Stenographer. "I love the pedigree," Sackheim said. "I stuck with it. I've got my fingers crossed." Another Daily Copy finished second in his first three career races --- each by a half-length or less --- before running into health issues that sidelined him temporarily. He finished the season with one win in eight starts and $45,563 in purses. He finished fifth in his 3-year-old debut on April 19 at Pocono. "He was racing really super (early last year)," Sackheim said. "He tied up in the middle of the year, and that messed him up. We now know a lot more about him that we didn't know then. Hopefully all those problems from last year are gone, and he shows it on the racetrack. "He has speed, he has desire, and he's got the pedigree. Everybody is always high on their horse. We'll see if what I think comes out to be true." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Fran Anna was unable to produce many victories on the racetrack because of injuries, but she has produced a solid group of winners for Ohio-based owners Jerry Zosel and Kathy Ratcliff during her years as a broodmare. The first was Igottafeelinfran --- named with a nod to the Black Eyed Peas' hit song --- who won Ohio Sire Stakes championships at ages 3, 4 and 5 and just last Friday picked up career victory No. 26, pushing her lifetime earnings to $473,515. Next was four-time winner Gottatigerinmytank, followed by Gotmoneyinmypocket. On Saturday night, Gotmoneyinmypocket aims to capture the $35,000 James K. Hackett Memorial for Ohio-sired 3-year-old male pacers at Miami Valley Raceway. A gelding, Gotmoneyinmypocket will start from post eight with Kayne Kauffman driving for trainer Jim "Bill" Dailey. "Fran Anna is a nice mare," Ratcliff said. "She would have made a good racehorse but she got hurt. We were real disappointed, but she's had some nice babies for us. She's got a lot of personality and every one of her babies has been kind of unique in their own way. They love people, but they're ornery too." Zosel and Ratcliff purchased Fran Anna for $7,000 at the 2006 Ohio Selected Jug Sale. She won two of three races before seeing her career come to an end. But as one chapter closed, another began. Gotmoneyinmypocket, a son of stallion Feelin Friskie and a full brother to Igottafeelinfran, won two of nine starts last year, hit the board a total of eight times, and earned $62,598. His second victory came in a division of the Ohio Sire Stakes in a track-record 1:52.3 performance at Scioto Downs. He finished fifth-placed-seventh a week later in the OSS championship. This season, Gotmoneyinmypocket is 2-for-2, including a 1:52.2 triumph in his Hackett elimination last weekend. "I texted Bill after the race Saturday, and I just texted the word 'wow.' He texted me back and said he's for real," Ratcliff said. "His nickname is 'Frank the Tank,' and if you were to see him you'd understand how he got that nickname," she added. "He's just a lot of horse and very strong." Ratcliff, a retired bookkeeper who used to work for Zosel's construction parts-and-equipment company in Columbus and now oversees Big Barn Farm, has bred a number of horses with Zosel. Among their other successes have been the recently retired Don't Know Chip, who won the 2011 Horse & Groom Series at the Meadowlands; Deep Chip, who was Ohio's 2-year-old male trotter of the year in 2008, when he captured the Ohio Triple Crown; and Can'tcutthatchip, who has earned $217,992 to date. "We've had some nice ones," Ratcliff said. "We've been very lucky." Following the Hackett, Gotmoneyinmypocket is staked to the Ohio Sire Stakes, Ohio Breeders Championship, and the local fairs circuit as well as the Circle City in Indiana. "He's an awful nice horse," Ratcliff said. "He tries. He and his sister, they just love to come from behind and chase horses. He hasn't raced a lot, but he really puts his effort into it." Dailey will have a busy weekend with Hackett Memorial entrants. In addition to sending out Gotmoneyinmypocket, he also trains the Hackett's other elimination victor, Winna Winna, who triumphed in 1:53.3. On Friday, he has 2-1 morning line favorite My Tweed Heart in the $35,000 Hackett Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Farwick Memorial Final to Tricky Nick LEBANON, OH. - Tricky Nick completed his own Miami Valley Raceway hat trick on Tuesday afternoon when he captured the $25,000 championship of the Dr. Dan Farwick Memorial trotting series-his third consecutive victory since shipping from The Meadows to Miami Valley specifically for this three week long late closer. Trainer Norm Parker at The Meadows had been training the 4-year-old Band's Gold Chip gelding for owners Megan Rogers and Derek Jacobus, but shipped him to the Randy Tharps Stable after nominating him to The Farwick, written for non-winners of six pari-mutuel races at time of nomination. With the three Miami Valley wins for trainer-driver Tharps, Tricky Nick now has eight pari-mutuel track wins and is nearing $100,000 in career bankroll. The winner had to work hard to gain the front end from post position three, then was pressured all the way to a sub :57 half over a rain-dampened track. Still Tharps was able to keep Tricky Nick alive through a grueling back half and hold off fellow preliminary heat winners Infiniti AS (Chris Page) and Honey B (Kyle Ater), who completed the trifecta, in 1:56.1. The Dr. Dan Farwick Memorial championship was the ninth and last of the 2016 "Lebanon Legends" late closers established in 2015 to honor the memory of notable great horsemen who made Lebanon Raceway their base of operations over a prolonged period of time in years gone by. by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

Kurt Sugg is having the time of his life. Not only is the 46-year-old Ohio native approaching a driving milestone he never considered possible just several years ago, he enjoys going to work every day. In fact, Sugg hardly considers what he does as work. "I've never had a job," Sugg said, laughing. "I've been very fortunate. I'm third generation (in harness racing); I've grown up doing this. It can be a grind, but to go to work, I don't even look at it like work. You win a race and it's enjoyable. It's just something I love to do and I can't imagine doing anything but this. I guess if I wasn't doing very well I might look at it a little differently, but the way things are, I'm really enjoying it." Sugg, who jogged his first horse at the age of 9 for his father, Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Famer Ivan Sugg, entered Monday needing 12 wins to reach 3,000 for his driving career. Nearly 80 percent of those victories have come since the start of the 2007 season, when Sugg decided to stop spending winters in Florida and race regularly at Northfield Park. "It's pretty special," Sugg said about the approaching milestone. "It's something I never thought I would attain at one time because earlier in my career I raced my own horses and went to Florida in the winter. Since I stopped going to Florida, I've become sort of a regular at Northfield Park, though. I pick up quite a few drives each night up there. "It's actually something I always wanted to do but the opportunity didn't present itself with my training just colts for the most part and going to Florida. But now with staying in Ohio fulltime I'm able to do it and really enjoy it." This year, Sugg ranks third in wins at Northfield Park, with 101. The two drivers ahead of him --- Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and Aaron Merriman --- have both won national dash championships. Merriman again leads North America with 279 wins this season and Wrenn is third, with 208, just two victories behind second-place Alfie Carroll. Sugg's 101 triumphs rank No. 22 in North America. Over the past two weeks he has been winning at an 18-percent clip and since early March has been hitting at 16 percent. "I can't complain about third (at Northfield) when Ronnie Wrenn and Aaron Merriman are one and two," Sugg said. "Being behind them is OK in my book. Aaron and Ronnie pick up a lot of the live drives there, so it makes it a little difficult, but I've got some loyal trainers that stick with me and provide me with opportunities to get the wins." He added, chuckling, "It probably is a little easier to drive there because you know what horses you have to beat. You just have to look for Ronnie and Aaron and those are the horses that you want to get behind and they're going to drag you to the top where you can have a shot. If you see them out there, you know they're not on a long shot." Despite competing in a tough driver colony, Sugg finds an atmosphere of camaraderie at Northfield Park. In fact, when Sugg won six of 10 drives at Northfield on April 19, rival Merriman took to social media to shine a light on Sugg's accomplishment and praise him. "I love racing at Northfield," Sugg said. "We're all good friends and we all get along real well. Obviously there are a few times when things might not go well on the track and we're upset for 10 or 15 minutes, but we're all friends and we get over it. I've never raced anywhere that has kind of the family atmosphere it is at Northfield." In addition to driving, Sugg trains a 15-horse stable. He is coming off a career-best year for driving purses, with $2.27 million in 2015, and nearly reached his best for training purses, with $492,348 last season. For his career, Sugg has won 865 races as a trainer. Among the top horses from his stable last year were Ohio Sire Stakes finalists Nobles Finesse and Mickey Moose; he also drove Ohio Sire Stakes champion Count On Kami for trainer Marty Wollam. Past stable stars for Sugg include world champions Dunkster and Blastaway Sahbra. "My dad taught me everything about training that I know," Sugg said about his father, Ivan, whose accomplishments include conditioning 2003 Horse of the Year No Pan Intended. "At least I learned a little bit from him; I don't think I have all the knowledge he has. "I enjoy training. I've trained for over 20 years for Dean Davis and he's provided the opportunity with well-bred horses. I've been very fortunate to have some real nice horses. I was hoping to reach the half-million-dollar mark (last year) and I just didn't quite get there. Maybe this year." If he does get there, it might take work but it won't be a job. by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

Bit Of A Legend was already a bit of a star before arriving in the U.S., but the New Zealand-born pacer has been adding to his legend this year with his performances in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. A 7-year-old stallion, Bit Of A Legend went 5-for-5 in the preliminary rounds of the six-week Levy Series, which concludes Saturday with a $609,000 final at Yonkers. Since February, when he began racing for New York-based trainer Peter Tritton and owner Harry von Knoblauch, Bit Of A Legend has won seven of nine starts and earned $146,750. He is the richest horse in North America this year. Prior to being sold to his new connections in December, Bit Of A Legend won 20 of 63 races and earned $659,686 (U.S.) while competing Down Under. Among his exploits, he was the first male pacer to win Australian Breeders Crown finals at ages 2 and 3. "He's the best horse I've had," said Tritton, a 65-year-old Australia native who over the years has teamed with von Knoblauch to campaign a number of successful imports from Down Under. "He's always been a good horse. He's always raced the best company and he's done a real good job. "Yonkers really suits him because he's so good gaited and you can drive him anyway --- leave, sit, come first over --- it doesn't matter. He just goes when you say go. He's just a great little racehorse." In the Levy's preliminary divisions, Bit Of A Legend won from off the pace in four of his five starts, including a rally from last place at the top of the stretch in the third week of the event. Last week, he finished in a dead heat for victory with Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2015 Horse of the Year, after a duel neither horse wanted to lose. The time of 1:51.2 for the mile was a track record for a dead heat. "That stretch drive was really something," Tritton said. "Neither horse wanted to get beat. I thought Wiggle It Jiggleit had it halfway up the straight, but my little horse really fought hard." Tritton could have skipped last week's round of the Levy because Bit Of A Legend already had enough points to qualify for the final. But Tritton didn't want to disrupt the pacer's schedule. "He thrives on racing," Tritton said. "I thought if I didn't race him I might have to train him a couple of times hard and I wanted to stick to what I was doing." Bit Of A Legend, a son of stallion Bettor's Delight out of the Sokys Atom mare-Soky's Legend, came highly recommended to Tritton by Down Under horse agent Peter Larkin. Tritton also spoke with Bit Of A Legend's former trainer, Cran Dalgety, prior to the sale. "He's one of the best trainers over there," Tritton said. "He wins a lot of races and knows a good horse from a bad horse. He really educates the horses and looks after them." Still, Tritton has been pleasantly surprised with Bit Of A Legend's fast start to his career in the States. Jordan Stratton has driven the horse in all of his races. "I didn't know he would go through the series undefeated," Tritton said. "You really wouldn't think he would be as good as he is, but he just relishes racing at Yonkers. And I think Jordan really suits him. He's always tried to look after him and leave something in the tank." The entry of Bit Of A Legend and New Zealand-born stablemate Texican is the 5-2 third choice in Saturday's Levy final. The Ron Burke-trained entry of Take It Back Terry and All Bets Off is the 8-5 favorite, followed by the Jeff Bamond Jr.-trained entry of P H Supercam and Mach It So at 9-5. Take It Back Terry, last year's Levy runner-up, and Mach It So had three wins in the preliminary rounds of this year's series. P H Supercam and All Bets Off both had one victory. Bit Of A Legend will start from post two and Texican from post six. Take It Back Terry leaves from post one and All Bets Off from post five. P H Supercam and Mach It So have posts three and seven, respectively. "I would have liked Texican to draw a bit closer, but I've got to be thankful for what I've got," Tritton said. "We've got a shot, there's no doubt about that. I think Jordan will stay up near the leaders and see if he can out-sprint them at the finish. If there's one thing (Bit Of A Legend) has got it's real good speed. At the top of the lane, he can make up a length or two real quick. It's a good spot where he can work it out." Tritton also will send out New Zealand import Sell A Bit in Saturday's $309,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final for pacing mares. Sell A Bit is 5-1 on the morning line. Last year's Matchmaker champion Venus Delight, part of an entry with Krispy Apple, is the 2-1 favorite. "I think she can win, I really do," Tritton said about Sell A Bit. "You can do a bit of work with her early and she'll just keep going. She's a very good mare. I'm quietly confident with her. "(My horses) just need racing luck. I'm hoping to have a good night. Even if you get second or third, you still make a fair amount of money. Having said that, it would be lovely to win. For Jordan too; it would be great to see him do it. We'll keep our fingers crossed." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

For Bill Zendt and Gary Saul, Goodtogo Hanover was in the right place at the right time. Zendt and Saul weren't planning on looking at the then-yearling trotter at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale, but she happened to be in a stall adjacent to a horse they were considering buying. After ruling out their initial horse of interest, Zendt happened to turn and see Goodtogo Hanover. "I said to Gary, how about this one?" recalled Zendt, who trains the now 3-year-old filly. "And that's the one we bought. We didn't buy the one we were after. Isn't that something how that happens sometimes? I guess we got lucky. It's better to be lucky than good." Zendt and Saul purchased Goodtogo Hanover for $18,000. She has won seven of 10 career races --- including all four starts this year --- and earned $58,750. She was named the 2015 2-year-old trotting filly of the year by the members of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. On Wednesday, Goodtogo Hanover is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $31,300 Whata Donato Trot Series final at The Meadows. She won her two preliminary legs of the series by a total of 7-1/2 lengths. A week prior to the start of the series, Goodtogo Hanover defeated older horses in a conditioned race in a career-best 1:55.4. "I try not to get too high on horses early like this," Saul said. "She certainly has a very nice gait. She's gone some big miles. Probably her most impressive race was the non-winners of five; she was the only 3-year-old in there. If you have a 3-year-old beating older horses, it's pretty good. "She's won easily enough. If someone gets back up on her toward the end of a mile, we'll see what she does." Goodtogo Hanover is a daughter of stallion Explosive Matter out of the mare Grammy Hall. Her dam is a half-sister to Juanitas Fury, who finished second in the 2014 Peaceful Way Stakes and a division of the Champlain. Third dam Gramola was a multiple stakes-winner. Last year, Goodtogo Hanover --- driven regularly by Zendt's son Brian --- had two wins and a second-place finish in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Stallion Series, but bypassed the final. Her 2015 earnings of $29,100 were just below the threshold of $30,000 to be eligible to the Whata Donato Trot Series. "I had to make the decision, and I decided it was enough and called it a year," Zendt said. "We had a little trouble with her. She wasn't all the way developed and we had a little trouble with the turns. She had a little soreness trouble, nothing major, so we decided not to go to the final. "This (Whata Donato Trot Series) is a great place to start in the spring before the sire stakes. That was the main thing we were going for; getting some nice races before the sire stakes and seeing what we have." Zendt, who has won 3,047 races as a driver and 1,311 races as a trainer, liked Goodtogo Hanover's ability from the word go. "She was pretty much a natural right away," Zendt said. "I liked her right away. She can be a little feisty, but trotting fillies have to have that in them sometimes. I liked her from the word go. She's been real good for us. "I think she's filled out and gotten bigger and stronger and is able to carry her speed. She's always had her speed, but she's just really developed and she's still got some to go yet. I think that's one of the main reasons she's better." Zendt and Saul have owned horses together for a number of years. Saul, who lives in Pittsburgh and is retired from the banking industry, also races a small stable of homebred horses. Among his recent stars was former Meadows track-record-holder Big And Little. Saul spends a good amount of time with the horses, as well as hunting and fishing. "He just loves the business," Zendt said. "He's a great owner to have." Goodtogo Hanover is eligible this year to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes as well as the Currier & Ives, Arden Downs, Buckette, and Keystone Classic. "I think Pennsylvania might be the toughest state to race in," Zendt said. "It won't be any picnic. She's been winning pretty handy so far, but she hasn't been in real tough yet. How do you know until you get into the sire stakes or something like that and they really stretch her out? I'm sure we'll find out soon enough, maybe too soon. "But we're just glad to have her." No matter how they found her. by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

Harness racing driver David Miller returned recently from his winter break feeling refreshed and ready to go. He hopes the same is true for Shake It Cerry as she prepares for her seasonal debut Friday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Shake It Cerry, a 5-year-old female trotter who was the Dan Patch Award divisional champion at ages 2 and 3, as well as Trotter of the Year at 3, returns from her winter layoff in the $25,000 Open Handicap at the Big M. The seven-horse field includes 5-year-old gelding JL Cruze, who was last year's Dan Patch Award honoree for best older male trotter. JL Cruze, who is 2-for-2 this year, will start from post seven with John Campbell driving for trainer Eric Ell and is the 9-5 morning line favorite. Shake It Cerry, who leaves from post six with Miller at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter, is the 5-2 second choice. Shake It Cerry heads to her debut off a 1:55 qualifier win on April 9 at the Meadowlands. She finished three-quarters of a length ahead of multiple-stakes-winner Crazy Wow and a length in front of Bee A Magician, who was last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter and the 2013 Horse of the Year. "She qualified really good," Miller said. "She seems sharp and in great shape. It's her first start, so we'll have to see. But I think she will have a good year. The way she looks right now and the way she qualified, I wouldn't see why not." For her career, Shake It Cerry --- a homebred daughter of stallion Donato Hanover out of the mare Solveig --- has won 28 of 44 races and hit the board a total of 37 times. She has earned $2.48 million for Solveig's Racing Partners, a Christina Takter-led ownership group that includes all the breeders of Shake It Cerry (under the name Solveig's Breeders). Shake It Cerry's victories include two editions of the Breeders Crown, Kentucky Filly Futurity, Goldsmith Maid, Elegantimage, and Merrie Annabelle. Last year, she won five of 16 races and earned $423,155, which was first among 4-year-old female trotters and third among all 4-year-old trotters in North America. Miller started driving Shake It Cerry at the end of last year. He was 2-for-2 with her, including a victory in the $200,000 TVG Mares Trotting Championship on Nov. 20 at the Meadowlands. Miller previously was the driver of Swedish star D'One, winning the Breeders Crown (where Shake It Cerry finished second) and Allerage Mare Trot before the mare returned to Europe. "D'One went back home, so that was good timing there," Miller said about landing behind Shake It Cerry. "Jimmy put me on her and I was happy to get her, believe me. What I like about her is she's a very classy horse. She's a real professional. She knows what she's doing out there. You have to appreciate ones like that." The New Jersey-based Miller, who was named 2015 Driver of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, spent much of the winter in Florida before returning to action in the Northeast in mid-March. Miller, who ranks No. 3 in harness racing history in purses with $199.5 million and No. 6 in wins with 11,661, has driven in at least 2,328 races each year since 1995. "I hadn't had a break for a long, long time," said Miller, who was voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2013. "I've raced year-round since like 1987. The winters get long. It was nice to get away. It was a good move; I enjoyed it. I just got away from the racing for a little bit. I took my own horses down (to Florida) and worked with them, which I enjoy doing. "I came back feeling good and it wasn't tough to get going again. I've been doing this my whole life, so it was fine. I'm getting back in the groove. It's time to get back to work." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA      

Del Cote participated in his first harness race 63 years ago, but shows no signs of slowing down. Fast horses help. Cote hopes one of those horses, Cut The Beach, is at the top of his game Thursday when he faces seven rivals in the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund championship for 3-year-old male pacers at Dover Downs. Cut The Beach, who will have George Dennis in the sulky, is undefeated in three races this season. "He's been doing good," said the 79-year-old Cote, a native of Maine who now lives and trains in central New Jersey. "He can go along; he can go with a lot of them. He's not a top colt, but we've had good luck in Delaware. Hopefully I can get a decent trip. He should be right there hopefully." Cut The Beach, purchased for $17,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale, is a son of stallion Artzina out of the Shotgun Scott mare I Love The Beach. Cote co-owned and trained I Love The Beach, who found success on the Maryland circuit, as well as her full brother Next Flight (a recently retired two-time DSBF champion and earner of $895,406) and her full sister Winbak Patty (who also was a DSBF champion). "I Love The Beach could be difficult, but she could go," said Cote, who trains Cut The Beach for owners Henry Faragalli III, Joe Thomson, Trevor Johnson, and Jeffrey Ruben. "We said if that mare has a colt we're going to try to buy him. (Cut The Beach) is a big, tall colt; a big gaited horse." Last year, Cut The Beach was winless in 10 races, but finished second on four occasions --- all in preliminary rounds of the DSBF series for 2-year-old male pacers. He finished eighth in the October DSBF final at Harrington Raceway after going off stride and finished seventh in the November DSBF final at Dover Downs after starting from post eight. "We didn't have much luck with him," Cote said about Cut The Beach, a gelding who has earned $44,560 lifetime. "He raced good last year; he just had a couple tough trips. This year he's gotten better gaited and gets over the ground good. He seems to be getting better all the time." Cut The Beach is one of six horses in Cote's stable. Cote grew up in Maine, where his father raced horses on the fair circuit as a hobby. Cote started out by driving his father's horses and later worked several years for Frank Stafford in Pinehurst, N.C., before being hired by the late Joe Parisi to work at White Birch Farm in New Jersey. Cote decided to go on his own as a trainer after a few years, but never left White Birch. "I enjoy it," Cote said. "I enjoy the racing. What am I going to do without it? Sit around? I'm not going to do that. I keep going to the barn every morning and go from there." Cut The Beach is 6-1 on the morning line for Thursday's DSBF championship, starting from post five. Dorothy Ann Connor and Christopher Connor's Hail To The Master, who starts from post eight with driver Art Stafford Jr., is the 5-2 favorite. John's Dream, who won last November's DSBF final at Dover Downs, is 4-1 from post three. by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA      

Alan Katz would like to have a stable filled with horses like JK Endofanera. Of course, he is thrilled to own the one horse who actually is JK Endofanera. A winner of $2.03 million in lifetime purses, the 5-year-old JK Endofanera will begin his 2016 campaign Saturday night in the $25,000 Open Handicap at the Meadowlands Racetrack. JK Endofanera will start from post seven in a seven-horse field, with John Campbell driving for trainer Jimmy Takter. Last year, JK Endofanera won six of 18 races and hit the board a total of 13 times. His victories included the Dan Patch Invitational and Allerage Farms Open Pace and he finished second in the Breeders Crown and Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. His $554,945 in purses led all 4-year-old pacers and ranked third among all older male pacers in North America. For his career, JK Endofanera has won 20 of 45 races and finished among the top three a total of 37 times. Among his other notable victories are the 2014 North America Cup and 2013 Governor's Cup. "I wish I had more like him; he's had a great career," said Katz, who owns JK Endofanera with brothers Ron and Steve under the nom de course 3 Brothers Stables. "He had a great season last year. We were thrilled with him. It was impressive that at (age) 4 he was able to compete against the best horses in the country. "We're looking forward to having a nice campaign. Hopefully he'll stay sound and show up. I'm sure he'll never embarrass himself." The 3 Brothers Stable bred JK Endofanera, who is a son of stallion Art Major out of the mare Presidential Lady. JK Endofanera is the older brother of 2014 Horse of the Year JK She'salady (who Katz said is in foal to Western Ideal) and the younger brother of New York state-bred stakes-winner JK Fine Art. All of the 3 Brothers Stables' horses are named with the initials JK in memory of late family patriarch Jack Katz. JK Endofanera was named to honor Jack Katz as well as veterinarian Dr. Stephen P. Dey II, who passed away the day the horse was foaled at the Dey family's Heritage Hill Farm. "It was the end of an era," Katz said. During this winter's offseason, JK Endofanera enjoyed frequent visits at Takter's New Jersey farm from Ron Katz. He also enjoyed frequent treats. "Ronnie and his wife Mardi were feeding him carrots, apples, cinnamon Danish; the horse eats pretty good," Katz said, laughing. "He doesn't miss too many meals. The groom even enjoys when they come and gets fed." JK Endofanera heads to Saturday's Open Handicap off a 1:51.4 win in a qualifier at the Big M on April 2. It was Campbell's first time behind the pacer. "You can't go wrong with John Campbell," Katz said about the Hall of Fame driver, who entered Wednesday less than $4.16 million from extending his all-time record for career purse earnings to $300 million. "He's the Wayne Gretzky of harness racing. He's accomplished everything there is in his lifetime." Joining JK Endofanera in Saturday's field are Fool Me Once, McArdles Lightning, Dovuto Hanover, Bushwacker, Art History, and Always At My Place. "It's a long year and you take it week by week," Katz said. "It's hard to come back year in and year out. I wish I had a barn full of JK Endofaneras. For us it's extra enjoyable with him being a homebred. We've been in the business since 1977 and I know he's the best horse we ever had." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

A happy Al Raza has harness racing owner Augie Abbatiello feeling pretty cheerful himself. Al Raza, a New Zealand-bred female pacer, is the lone undefeated horse through three weeks of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway and the 6-year-old mare will look to make it 4-for-4 when she faces six rivals in Friday's penultimate preliminary round at The Hilltop. "She is a real nice mare," said Abbatiello, who also trains Al Raza. "Most of the horses from New Zealand get very hot, but she has nice manners. She gets turned out every morning and she likes company, with the other ones out in the paddock. That is important. She is very relaxed and very nice. "You want to keep her happy. The longer you keep her happy she will give you everything you want. I like her very much." Al Raza, who leads the Matchmaker series standings with 225 points, will start from post seven in Friday's third of three $40,000 divisions. David Miller will drive Al Raza, who had Jordan Stratton in the sulky in her three wins in the series. Stratton, though, is committed to driving regularly for trainer Peter Tritton, who also has a horse (New Zealand-bred For The Ladies) in the third division. Horses receive 25 points for entering the Matchmaker each week, then 50 points for a win, 25 for second place, 12 for third, 8 for fourth and 5 for fifth. The top eight horses in the standings qualify for the $125,000-added final on April 23. Sell A Bit, another New Zealand-bred import in Tritton's stable, has two wins in the series and starts Friday in the second division. Mach It A Par, who is third in points behind Al Raza and Sell A Bit, is in the first division. Rounding out the top eight in points are Yagonnakissmeornot (in Friday's second division), Venus Delight (first division), For The Ladies (third division), Krispy Apple (third division), and Skippin By (second division). Al Raza, a daughter of stallion Gotta Go Cullect and the Mach Three mare Al Zahra, was an award-winning 4-year-old in New Zealand and made her debut for Abbatiello in September 2015. In addition to training horses, Abbatiello is the owner of the Pine Bush Training Facility in upstate New York. Tritton is stabled at the farm and Abbatiello used Tritton's Down Under contact, agent Peter Larkin, to get Al Raza. "I watched a lot of her races and I liked the way she comes at the end, she has that extra gear and flies off," Abbatiello said. "That's why I bought her. I gave her a couple months off, I took my time with her, and she has been very good." The 64-year-old Abbatiello, who is distantly related to the family of harness racing legend Carmine Abbatiello, was born in Italy and moved to the U.S. in 1969. Abbatiello's ownership stable name, Durazzano, is a reference to his hometown in the province of Benevento in Italy. Abbatiello, who is active in real estate development, automotive repair, and restaurant businesses, bought his first horse in the mid-1980s. "I do a little bit of everything," said Abbatiello, who is currently training a dozen horses. "This is my hobby. I just liked the game and my family likes the horses. We used to have horses in Italy too. We just kept going." In 2007, Abbatiello bought an abandoned horse farm and turned it into the Pine Bush Training Facility, located approximately 20 miles north of Goshen and 80 miles from Manhattan. The 130-acre property includes a half-mile track, indoor pool, and 18 five-acre paddocks. "This place came up for sale and I looked at it and fell in love with it," Abbatiello said. "I figured it would be a good place to train the horses. The place is beautiful. I do a lot of the work myself too. When I finished, I looked and thought, wow, I accomplished something. I'm the kind of person who likes to do things right or not do them at all. "We really enjoy this. It keeps me occupied. I love being out there doing the racetrack and taking care of the horses." Among other successful horses for Abbatiello is 10-year-old male pacer Life Up Front, who has earned $554,279 since joining his stable in 2011. On Saturday, Life Up Front gave Abbatiello his 150th win as a trainer. Al Raza will try to add to that total on Friday. Since she arrived in the U.S., the mare has won seven of 17 races and earned $169,450. The plan is to race Al Raza in the Matchmaker this week, then skip the final preliminary round to rest for the championship. "She's very healthy and I just have to hope it works out for the final," Abbatiello said. "After that, we'll give her a little time off and then race in the Open. We take it as we go. I think she can make money as long as she stays healthy." And happy. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Wiggle It Jiggleit has already done things never before seen on a harness racing half-mile racetrack. And he will add to that list when he heads to Yonkers for Saturday's third round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. That's because on Saturday the 4-year-old Wiggle It Jiggleit will become the first returning Horse of the Year Award winner to ever compete in the Levy. The Levy began in 1978 and was raced through 1996 before an 11-year hiatus. The event returned in 2007. Wiggle It Jiggleit, who was not entered in the first two rounds of this year's six-week series, will start from post seven in Saturday's third of four $50,000 divisions. Montell Teague will drive Wiggle It Jiggleit for trainer Clyde Francis and owners George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership. Despite starting from an outside post, Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 2-1 morning line favorite in his third-round division, which also includes the Levy's defending champion, Domethatagain, as well as morning line second choice Ideal Cowboy. Wiggle It Jiggleit heads to the series off a victory in his seasonal debut Monday night at Dover Downs. For his career, the gelding has won 24 of 28 races and earned $2.21 million. He captured 22 of 26 starts last season on his way to being named Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. "The first race back always makes you a little nervous, but he was good and I was very happy with him," owner George Teague Jr. said. "He didn't get beat up, so I felt better putting him back in (to race Saturday). I wish I'd drawn better than post seven, but I'm sure everyone that draws outside at Yonkers feels the same way too. "He's a very unusual horse to be racing in the Levy, from the standpoint that I'm sure there haven't been a whole lot of Horse of the Year horses come back and race this early --- if they came back to race at all. I don't think too many people would take a shot at the Levy, with the racing so many weeks in a row and being a half-mile racetrack. But he's never lost on a half-mile track. I'm sure that's going to change, but that's not a bad thing for him to be on a half." Wiggle It Jiggleit is 4-for-4 on half-mile ovals, with his wins coming last year in historic fashion. He posted a 1:49 victory at Harrington Raceway, which is the fastest half-mile victory ever by a 3-year-old in harness racing history, and won the Little Brown Jug in straight heats of 1:49.2 and 1:49.3. He also won the Milstein Memorial in 1:49.3 at Northfield Park, which set the track record for fastest mile by a 3-year-old. No other horse in history has in a single year won four times on a half-mile track in 1:49.3 or faster. In fact, only two other horses have ever won multiple times on a half-mile oval in 1:49.3 or faster --- Clear Vision, who totaled four such wins divided between 2013 and 2014, and Rock N Roll Heaven, who swept the 2010 Little Brown Jug with identical 1:49.2 triumphs. Wiggle It Jiggleit, a son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover, will need to be at his half-mile best on Saturday as he attempts to overcome his outside starting spot. Post seven at Yonkers has produced winners in only 5.7 percent of 663 starts. "I haven't raced there much, but I've watched the races over there and it doesn't seem like a normal half-mile track," said the 25-year-old Montrell Teague, who in his career has driven nine races at Yonkers. "It's a little different coming from the outside there; a little harder to get to the front. They say the inside horses have at least a length advantage going into that (first) turn. Hopefully, we can get a good trip." On Monday, Wiggle It Jiggleit won the $60,000 Invitational Handicap at Dover Downs, beating Rockeyed Optimist by one length in 1:51.4. "I was very happy with it," Teague said. "There were some good horses. It was kind of in my favor because I was inside of (Rockeyed Optimist and Bettor's Edge on the starting gate) and could see what they were going to do. Leaving out of there, I knew that Rockeyed Optimist was going to come off the gate and be the main one. It was pretty good to have him behind me and I could dictate the fractions. I was able to back it down and then sprint home. It was like a training mile for him." Wiggle It Jiggleit's late arrival to the Levy puts him in a difficult spot to qualify for the $200,000-added final on April 23. Horses receive 25 points for entering, then 50 points for a win, 25 for second place, 12 for third, 8 for fourth and 5 for fifth. Bit Of A Legend N, Lucan Hanover, and Take It Back Terry are all 2-for-2 in the series and the top 11 horses in the standings have at least 100 points so far. Bit Of A Legend N drew post eight in Saturday's second division and Lucan Hanover and Take It Back Terry both drew into the fourth division. In fact, the fourth division features five of the top 13 horses in points, with Doctor Butch, Mach It So, and Texas Terror N also part of the eight-horse field. "I hope we can make it to the final," Teague Jr. said. "I know it's going to be a tough task. But even if he doesn't, I've put up $5,000 (to nominate Wiggle It Jiggleit to the Levy) to race for $50,000 each week. Where else am I going to race? I don't believe in giving him off six months and then racing. My theory is to race him now." If Wiggle It Jiggleit can advance and win the Levy final, he would be the first 4-year-old to do so since Whiteland Trouble in 1992. "As usual, when you bring Wiggle It Jiggleit to the racetrack you have to be confident that you've got a chance," Teague Jr. said. "If he's on his game, and he's sound and healthy, I think he can go with anybody else. I've never seen a horse that can take the amount of air he can take and hit the stretch and find another gear. "I feel pretty confident that he's going to show up and do well. He hasn't done anything to make me change my mind on that." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

After seeing her 2015 season cut short by illness, Anndrovette is back to the races at age 9 and chasing Eternal Camnation's earnings record for a female pacer. And while it might be tempting to count out the multiple-award-winning Anndrovette at this stage of her harness racing career, it might also be foolish. Anndrovette, who finished third in her seasonal debut last week in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway, has won 44 of 129 career races and earned $3.46 million in purses. She enters Friday's third round of the Matchmaker needing $278,727 to surpass Eternal Camnation's record of $3.74 million for the top spot among all female pacers in harness racing history. "It's obviously something that's in the back of our minds, but I look at the horse's health and well-being before I look at records," said Jeff Bamond Sr., who owns Anndrovette with his son, trainer Jeff Bamond Jr., and Joe Davino. "If she couldn't compete on a high level anymore I'm not going to race her just to chase a record. "Some people said to me recently that she's one of the toughest horses they've ever seen and every time you count her out all of a sudden she turns around and surprises you. I won't count her out and she'll let us know when it's time that she doesn't want to do this anymore." Added Bamond Jr. about the purse record, "If she does it, that's great. And if she doesn't, that's not taking anything away from her either. It's just pretty special to be looking at it." Anndrovette won three of 18 races last year and earned $363,408. She snapped a six-race winless streak with a 36-1 surprise from post 10 in the Golden Girls at the Meadowlands last July and came back three weeks later to win the Lady Liberty at the Big M. Both races were contested at 1-1/8 miles. In late October, she was scratched sick from the Breeders Crown and didn't start again the remainder of the season. "She got some kind of infection; we're not really sure how she got it," trainer Bamond Jr. said. "It was best to shut her down and do the right thing. She owes us nothing. Luckily she was able to come back good. If anyone was going to be able to do it, it was her because she's so tough. I was worried, but as soon as you count her out, she always steps up." Anndrovette was beaten by a half-length in her 2016 debut, which was won by Yagonnakissmeornot in 1:53.3. "She's not a great qualifier; it usually takes a start or two to get rolling, so I was definitely happy with it," Bamond Jr. said. "I thought she got out of the gate good and she finished up good, so I was very pleased to see her have pace on both ends." On Friday, Anndrovette competes in the third of three Matchmaker divisions. She will start from post three with regular driver Tim Tetrick. The six-mare field also includes Al Raza N, who is 2-for-2 in the series and on top of the standings for the six-week event, as well as Yagonnakissmeornot and first-round division winner Mach It A Par. Bamond-trained Krispy Apple is in Friday's first division and his Venus Delight is in the second division. Venus Delight was the 2015 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer, snapping Anndrovette's four-year hold on the honor. "It's a tough series," Bamond Sr said. "You always feel good about the ones you enter. If they can make money and they all come out healthy and continue for the year, I'm happy. I think I have a shot, but so does everyone else or they wouldn't have put their horses in there." Anndrovette's four consecutive Dan Patch Award trophies set the record for an older female pacer and equaled Eternal Camnation's record for the most awards given to any pacer in history. Anndrovette, a daughter of Riverboat King out of the mare Easy Miss, also has received four O'Brien Awards for best older female pacer in Canada. In addition, she is the only horse to win the Roses Are Red Stakes three consecutive years and one of two horses to win the Breeders Crown Mare Pace in back-to-back years. Other major victories include two editions of the Betsy Ross Invitational plus the Lady Maud Stakes, American-National Stakes, Artiscape Stakes, A Spring of Hope Invitational, Overbid Series final, and a New York Sire Stakes championship. "She's my once-in-a-lifetime horse," said Bamond Sr., who has owned Anndrovette since the summer of her 3-year-old season. "I've had some good horses but she's meant the world to me. When we bought her we thought we were buying a nice New York Sire Stakes horse, never thinking that we would end up with what we did. It's a dream." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications  

Harness racing trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman thought he came away with a nice little horse when he purchased Don’tcallmefrancis for $25,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. He now thinks he came away with a little bit more. Named after a popular South Jersey cover band, Don’tcallmefrancis has won five of 11 lifetime starts and hit the board a total of 10 times, earning $64,058 for Norman’s Enzed Racing Stable. On Tuesday, he will be the lone 3-year-old taking on a group of 4-year-olds in the $63,000 Sagamore Hill Pacing Series championship at Yonkers Raceway. Don’tcallmefrancis had two wins and a second-place finish in the event’s three preliminary rounds, which put him in a tie with Rodeo Romeo for the top spot in the series standings. Don’tcallmefrancis will start the final from post six with Jason Bartlett in the sulky. He is the second choice (7-2) on the morning line, behind Chris Ryder’s Rodeo Romeo (2-1), who starts from post two with Brian Sears. “He’s had some decent draws and decent trips and it’s worked out nicely for him,” Norman said. “I didn’t expect him to do that well because it’s mostly 4-year-olds, but he’s done a good job. He’s picked up $25,000 in three weeks, so I’m over the moon. He’s drawn poorly for the final, but he’s honest and he’ll get a piece of it.” Don’tcallmefrancis raced primarily at Freehold Raceway last season, where he won the New Jersey Sire Stakes Green Acres championship. He finished third behind Ideal Rocky and Boston Red Rocks in the Lou Babic and also was third, behind Katies Rocker and Ideal Rocky, in the New Jersey Futurity. Boston Red Rocks was the 2015 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer and Ideal Rocky and Katies Rocker were open stakes winners. “He kind of surprised me,” Norman said. “He went some good miles. He was a little bit of a sleeper because he never does anything flashy, but he’s very consistent and very solid and he’s always got pace. “I was really happy with him. We didn’t stake him a lot; I wasn’t really trying to accomplish anything other than get him some experience. I didn’t think he would be a stakes horse, but now it’s looking like he might be. Not a big-level stakes horse, but he’s turned out to be a handy little horse.” Although the majority of Don’tcallmefrancis’ races have been on half-mile ovals, Norman says the horse is not merely a small-track specialist. “I just raced him at Freehold because of the Green Acres and because it was close to home,” Norman said. “I think he’ll be good on a big track, really, because he’s not a speed horse; he’s more of a grinder type of horse. I think a big track won’t bother him.” Don’tcallmefrancis is a gelded son of stallion Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Nanny Withafanny, who was an Open-level competitor on the East Coast and earned $424,323 lifetime. “I just liked the look of him at the sale,” Norman said. “I always try to buy a cheaper horse for myself and he had a real good head on him; he’s got a real Rocknroll head. He’s just a nice tidy little type of horse. His mother was a good mare. And he wasn’t a lot of money, so he was a good little horse for me to buy. “Usually I buy a horse like that as a baby and look to get them going a bit and sell them. I’ll probably do the same with him if I get the right offer. He’s a real sound horse and a real easy horse to train. He’s worked out really good.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

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