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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

He hopes his luck is on full display in Saturday's $1 million Hambletonian at Meadowlands Racetrack. Mazza owns JJ Alex, who will start from post two at morning line odds of 50-1 in the Hambletonian. The colt, trained and driven by Francisco Del Cid, is winless this year and has one victory in 15 career starts. Like everyone else, JJ Alex will be chasing Father Patrick, one of three Jimmy Takter-trained horses in the race. Father Patrick has won 15 straight starts and is the 4-5 morning line favorite despite starting from the unenviable No. 10 post. Mazza bought JJ Alex privately on Aug. 2, 2013 and exactly one year later, the horse is competing on the sport's biggest stage. Could that be a sign? Probably not, but Mazza thought it was a chance worth taking. "I ain't going to be here forever; this might be my last shot for the Hambletonian," he said. "We got the right draw, we got the right driver on him, we got the right trainer. It's a win-win situation. He added with a laugh, "So I'll see you in the winner's circle." Bold talk since JJ Alex has yet to find the winner's circle in 2014. But he has finished in the money five times with two seconds and three thirds. His final tune-up before the Hambo was a third-place finish in a $32,455 division of the Arden Downs Stakes at the Meadows July 26. "We trained him good before going to The Meadows," Del Cid said. "We were going to train him and based on that training mile make a decision [on whether to enter the Hambletonian]. We were hoping for a better result in the race, but it unfolded a different way and I got pinned in. "But we were satisfied. We came to the conclusion that we were going to enter the horse and give it a try." Del Cid, a former exercise rider for high-profile Thoroughbred trainer D. Wayne Lukas, began working in harness racing in the late 1980s. "I switched to this and I liked it," said the native Guatemalan, now living in central New Jersey. "I'm not afraid of the odds," he added. "I never thought I was going to be in the Hambletonian when I came here. When I switched to this [harness racing] business, that was my goal - to be here one day." Del Cid trained his own small table for several years before joining the Trond Smedshammer Stable. In 2008 he went back out on his own and he and Mazza will now look to shock the world. To Mazza, it wouldn't be a mind-blowing shock. As far as he was concerned, when he first laid eyes on the horse it was Hambletonian at first sight. "As soon as we saw him we wanted to keep him for the Hambletonian," the owner said. "We raced him a couple times as a 2-year-old and we decided to put him in this big race this year." Mazza made his first purchase - Kehms Scooter - in 1991 at a sale at the Meadowlands. Rather than build a stable for a racehorse, he found a racehorse to fill a stable. "I was building a farm in Upper Freehold and a trainer came by and asked what was going on," Mazza said. "I told him I was building a horse barn for my kids. He asked if I wanted to get in the racehorse business. "I said I'd never thought of it, but maybe I would consider it. He told me there was a sale at the Meadowlands and asked if I wanted to come. I told him to pick me up on Saturday and I'd go with him." Mazza promptly spent $10,000 or $20,000 - he can't recall - on Kehms Scooter and was on his way. "He won his first race and it got me hooked," Mazza said. "If it wasn't for that, I might not be here. I try to enjoy it. "It was about time for me to try the Hambletonian. Maybe I'll get lucky. I've been a lucky guy, a fortunate guy, all my life. Maybe my luck will come through on Saturday." In other words, Mazza will stake his luck against all odds. by Rich Fisher, for the Hambletonian Society  

Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 11 – 7/29/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (30) 8th 7-6-1-0 $352,278 341 1 2 Father Patrick (2) 3tc 6-6-0-0 $510,931 302 2 3 Sweet Lou (3) 5ph 10-7-1-1 $662,650 285 3 4 He’s Watching 3pc 6-3-1-1 $558,235 223 4 5 McWicked 3pc 9-6-2-0 $618,830 167 6 6 Trixton 3tc 8-6-1-1 $283,855 147 5 7 Shake It Cerry 3tf 7-6-0-1 $234,838 98 8 8 JK Endofanera 3pc 7-5-0-1 $566,667 85 7 9 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 7-7-0-0 $211,157 70 9 10 Nuncio 3tc 7-5-2-0 $342,003 59 10 Also: Dancin Yankee (46), Archangel (18), Bee A Magician (14), Perfect Alliance (13), Market Share (10), Classic Martine, Intimidate, Mission Brief, Modern Family (7), Yankee Bounty (6), Rocklamation (4), Artspeak (3), Bettor’s Edge (2), Clear Vision, I Like My Boss, Somwherovrarainbow, Your So Vain (1). Complied by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Comunications 

Two years ago, Marcus Miller spent part of Hambletonian Day driving in harness races at the Logan County Fair in his native state of Illinois. Last year, he watched the Hambletonian Day card from his new home in Pennsylvania before heading to work that night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. This year, Hambletonian Day will have a different feel entirely. Miller will be part of the show. Miller is driving on Saturday's Hambletonian Day card at the Meadowlands Racetrack, with his top assignment coming behind Cee Bee Yes in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters. "I'm very excited," Miller said. "She's a really nice filly. She's the kind of filly that if things work out, she's got the talent to get there." In June, the 25-year-old Miller got career win No. 2,000. A few weeks later, Miller drove in his biggest race to date, the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace, and guided Jet Airway to a fifth-place finish for his father, trainer Erv Miller. "Hopefully one of these days I'll win a race like that," said Miller, who won multiple driving titles on the Chicago circuit before moving east in spring 2013, before adding with a grin, "Maybe it'll be this one. "I'm happy with this summer," he added. "Last year I was brand new out here and now I'm meeting people and I'm getting drives for good trainers and good owners that didn't even know me two years ago. I'm getting a lot more drives." Miller, who also will drive SS Poseidon for his father in Saturday's Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, got his first win in 2004 and won a career-best 501 races in 2011. His career high of $3.14 million in purses followed in 2012 and last year he missed a third consecutive $3 million-season by less than $50,000. This year, he has 108 wins and $1.70 million in purses. He guided Cee Bee Yes to victory in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second in the $100,000 championship. Miller and the filly finished fifth in last weekend's Hambletonian Oaks prep, beaten by two lengths. Cee Bee Yes (Muscles Yankee-Enbeecee) has won two of seven races this year and six of 18 in her career, with $268,182 in earnings. She was the 2013 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion. The filly is owned by Jason and Doug Allen. She is trained by Julie Miller, whose husband Andy is Erv Miller's brother and Marcus' uncle. "She was a little better [in the prep] than she was in her last start," Miller said. "Hopefully she can take one more step and if something crazy happens, I think we can be close." Cee Bee Yes is one of three fillies in the Hambletonian Oaks for Julie Miller. She also sends out world champion Designed To Be and stakes-winner Take The Money. "She's my sleeper," Julie said about Cee Bee Yes. "She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Drop The Ball has been something of a streaky performer throughout her career, but driver Corey Callahan believes the 6-year-old pacing mare is on an upswing as she gets ready for Saturday's $177,750 Lady Liberty Stakes at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The Lady Liberty, for older female pacers, is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1.2 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. Drop The Ball won last weekend's Lady Liberty elimination race by a half-length over Jerseylicious in 1:49.2 and with a victory in the final will join Burning Point as the only repeat winners of the event. "She won it last year so we need to win it again," Callahan said about Drop The Ball, who is trained by Ross Croghan for owners Let It Ride Stables, Mentally Stable, and Dana Parham. "Sometimes you can tell [how good she will race] when you're scoring down, but she's really come back around her last few starts. I think Croghan is figuring her out and she's ready to go. She should be good next week, I hope." For her career, Drop The Ball has won 24 of 59 races and earned $1.39 million. In addition to winning last year's Lady Liberty, she won the 2011 Mistletoe Shalee and Matron Stakes. She has twice finished second in each the Breeders Crown, Roses Are Red Stakes, and Golden Girls. Drop The Ball won last year's Lady Liberty during a span of seven starts in which she posted five wins and two second-place finishes. She hit the board only once in eight other races during the campaign. She began her career by winning her first four races, but then went without a victory in nine consecutive starts bridging her 2- and 3-year-old seasons. She finished her 3-year-old campaign by winning six times and finishing second twice over her final nine starts. Drop The Ball entered the Lady Liberty elimination off a second-place finish to Rocklamation in the Golden Girls on July 12. "She was very good in that race," Callahan said. "I had too much road traffic. I ended up third over behind a horse that was stalling and had too much ground to make up." In last weekend's Lady Liberty elim, Drop The Ball started from post eight and went to the front on the first turn before briefly yielding the top spot to Shelliscape on the backstretch. Callahan and Drop The Ball immediately retook the lead, but saw Shebestingin come calling heading into the final turn. Drop The Ball fought off her challenge and led the rest of the way. "We figured if she was OK, we were going to push off the gate and try to get her in play," Callahan said. "A couple of those horses that like to go down the road, like Anndrovette, drew outside, so it was a good night to try it." Following is the Lady Liberty field in alphabetical order. The draw for the race will be Tuesday, with Drop The Ball's connections getting to select post position. Rocklamation received a bye to the final. Aunt Caroline, Charisma Hanover, Drop The Ball, Jerseylicious, Krispy Apple, Matttie Terror Girl, Rocklamation, Shebestingin, Shelliscape, and Somwherovrarainbow. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Intimidate followed his most lackluster performance of the year with a stunning victory in the Maple Leaf Trot last weekend and trainer Luc Blais is hopeful the 5-year-old trotter can keep the momentum going in Saturday's first of two eliminations for the John Cashman Jr. Memorial at the Meadowlands. The Cashman, formerly known as the Nat Ray, attracted 15 horses, including world champion Sebastian K. The top five from two $50,000 eliminations will advance to the $300,650 final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, at the Big M. It is an accomplished group, with Sebastian K being history's fastest trotter and 10 of the remaining horses having won at least one Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, or Trotting Triple Crown race. Intimidate, who won the 2012 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters and the 2013 Credit Winner, edged previously unbeaten Sebastian K by a nose to win the Maple Leaf in 1:54.2 on a sloppy track. Intimidate was 47-1. "It was an amazing feeling again," said Blais, who trains Intimidate for Serge Godin's Determination stable and Judith Farrow. Blais and Farrow bred the son of stallion Justice Hall and mare Fabulous Tag. "That (Maple Leaf) was an amazing win. "He was just so-so in the elimination but came back good. I think Sylvain Filion gave him a perfect drive. I think everything was perfect that night. At that level, you need everything perfect." Intimidate finished fifth in his Maple Leaf elimination, losing 3-1/2 lengths in the stretch, but Blais says the horse was still feeling the effects of a quarter-crack on a front foot. "I think the foot wasn't right-right," said Blais, a native of Quebec. "We worked very much on his foot and the quarter-crack looked better (in the Maple Leaf final). That's time. You need time to repair that. Now he looks sound. I don't know if he's a hundred percent, but he looks better than before, that's for sure." Intimidate has won three of seven races this season and earned $326,070. For his career, he has won 24 of 36 starts and banked $923,628. His only off-the-board finishes this year came in his Maple Leaf elim and in the final of the Cutler Memorial, where he had a three-wide trip. "I think in the Cutler we had no luck," Blais said. "After that he came back and won the preferred at Mohawk. He hasn't raced a bad race, except maybe the elimination of the Maple Leaf. That was the only race that I think wasn't right." Ron Pierce will drive Intimidate on Saturday night, leaving from post four as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line. Market Share, from post one, is the 8-5 favorite. The remainder of the field, from the inside, is Your So Vain, Spider Blue Chip, Sevruga, Archangel, and Royalty For Life. The second division, from the rail, is Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone, Sweet Justice, Uncle Peter, Sebastian K, Appomattox, Arch Madness, and Creatine. The group has five Breeders Crown trophies (Uncle Peter, Arch Madness, Intimidate, Spider Blue Chip, and Market Share), four Maple Leaf Trot titles (Arch Madness, Mister Herbie, Market Share, and Intimidate), two Hambletonian triumphs (Market Share and Royalty For Life), two Kentucky Futurity wins (Wishing Stone and Creatine) and one Yonkers Trot (Archangel). "That's a nice bunch of horses this year," Blais said. "The competition is very high level. I think that's good for the game; it's good for the show. People want to see that." Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes a $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks prep for 3-year-old female trotters and $40,000 single elimination for the Lady Liberty for older female pacers. Nine of the 11 fillies entered in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, which is Aug. 2, will compete in Saturday's prep. Ten mares are in the Lady Liberty elimination, with Rocklamation receiving a bye to next week's final. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

I Luv The Nitelife, who was named the best 3-year-old female pacer of 2013 in both the U.S. and Canada, is ready to return to action after being sidelined last November because of a fractured knee. She will compete in a qualifier Saturday morning at the Meadowlands, with the hopes of returning to stakes action in September. "Swim and train, that's been her program," said trainer Chris Ryder, adding happily, "Now we get to swim and race. That's better than training." I Luv The Nitelife won 13 of 15 races last year and $1.25 million for Ryder and owners Richard and Joanne Young. Her triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, Valley Forge, Lynch Memorial, Jugette and Mistletoe Shalee. Her 1:48.4 time in the Valley Forge is the world record for a 3-year-old filly on a five-eighths-mile track. For her career, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Lisjune has won 17 of 25 races and $1.94 million. No female pacer in history has won more money at ages 2 and 3. Ryder hopes to have I Luv The Nitelife, who suffered a minor setback because of atrial fibrillation in early June, ready for the Milton Stakes in mid-September. "She's going to qualify a couple times and then we'll look for an overnight or two," Ryder said. "She's training very well. Everything is good with her. "It's exciting. It's tough to get a horse like this. It's a little crushing when they go down. You get a little used to winning those big races; you can't take it for granted. When it's gone, you realize there's a hole there. And it's near impossible to fill." Father Patrick, who is 6-for-6 this year and will bring a 15-race win streak to the $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 2 at the Meadowlands, also is entered to qualify on Saturday morning at the Big M. Other Hambletonian eligibles in the qualifier are Billy Ruffian, DD's Hitman, and Uva Hanover. On the pacing side, North America Cup winner JK Endofanera and Fan Hanover winner Uffizi Hanover are among 3-year-olds entered to qualify. Sweet Lou, the winner of six consecutive starts including the Ben Franklin Pace and William Haughton Memorial, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $40,000 A-2/A-1/FFA handicap for pacers at the Meadowlands. The seven-horse field also includes Captaintreacherous, Thinking Out Loud, and Golden Receiver. Maven, the sport's top older female trotter in 2013, is the 2-1 favorite in Friday's $30,000 A-2/A-1/FFA handicap for trotters at the Meadowlands. Coraggioso is the 3-1 second choice in the field of seven, which also includes Maven's stablemate D'Orsay. Maven and D'Orsay are the only females in the race. Dancin Yankee, who sits just outside the Top 10 in harness racing's weekly poll, goes for his sixth win in a row Saturday night in the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He is the 5-2 morning line choice; Bolt The Duer is the 3-1 second pick. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

After watching Bee A Magician put together an 18-race win streak that began at age 2 and covered her entire 3-year-old season, harness racing fans wanted to know what was wrong with the 2013 Horse of the Year as she went winless in her first four starts this season. Not much, says trainer Nifty Norman, other than the fact that winning is difficult. "Lots of people have said to me that she's been no good, but only once really," Norman said. "Her first start was a great run, [second in 1:51.3] right off the bat and she had trot finishing. We kind of raced her easy in her second start and she was second; she was a little bit flat. Then she was sick, but she's been good again ever since. "People just expect her to win," he added with a chuckle. "It's not that easy; I wish it was. But I think she's been pretty solid." Bee A Magician, owned by Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee, returned to her winning ways with a world-record 1:51.1 triumph July 12 in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series at Meadowlands Racetrack. She now holds the records for fastest 3-year-old (1:51) and 4-year-old female trotters in history. She will try to make it two victories in a row when she meets six rivals in Friday's second leg of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Bee A Magician and regular driver Brian Sears will start from post one. The rest of the field in post order is Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, NF Happenstance, Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, and Classic Martine. Handover Belle won the Ima Lula's first round on July 18 by a half-length over Ma Chere Hall in 1:51.4. The $55,000 estimated final is Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day. Bee A Magician -- who has won 28 of 35 career races, finished second on four occasions, and earned $2.45 million -- was eligible to the John Cashman Jr. Memorial, but the mare's connections decided against facing the boys. She raced against her male counterparts in the Hambletonian Maturity on July 5, finishing second to Your So Vain. "I want to race her as easy as I can," Norman said. "I'll consider racing those horses again later in the year maybe, but not right now. You can't be too tough on them. You see some of the other 4-year-olds that have come back and are not what they were. It's a tough thing to do because most of them have laid it all on the line last year." As it is, racing against the mares is difficult enough. "It's a tough division; very solid," Norman said, adding about her 1:51.1 win in the most recent Miss Versatility round, "It was a good race. She didn't jog, it was a good race." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Arch Madness wasn't ill, but a victory in a conditioned handicap at Harrah's Philadelphia last week might have been just what the doctor ordered. Now the 10-year-old gelding is returning to competition against the continent's best older trotters as he heads to Saturday's eliminations for the John Cashman Jr. Memorial at the Meadowlands. The Cashman, formerly known as the Nat Ray, attracted 15 horses. The top five from two $50,000 eliminations will advance to the $300,650 final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, at the Big M. Among the entrants are world champion Sebastian K, Maple Leaf Trot winner Intimidate, two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, and 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life. Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes a $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks prep for 3-year-old female trotters and $40,000 single elimination for the Lady Liberty for older female pacers. Nine of the 11 fillies entered in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, which is Aug. 2, will compete in Saturday's prep. Ten mares are in the Lady Liberty elimination, with Rocklamation receiving a bye to next week's final. Arch Madness, who skipped the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario, enters his Cashman elim with one win in eight starts this season. Lifetime, he has won 35 of 115 races and earned $4.22 million, good for sixth place among all trotters in history and second to only Moni Maker among trotters that raced the majority of their careers in North America. "It's always nice to get an easy win in a horse," Trond Smedshammer said about Arch Madness' three-length victory in 1:52.2 at Harrah's Philadelphia on July 16. "That's the best medicine for a horse, winning. I was very happy about that decision [not to go to the Maple Leaf Trot]. It worked out good. "You can't ask him to go everywhere; he's 10 years old. Canada was an easy decision to leave out." Arch Madness (a son of Balanced Image-Armbro Archer) was winless in two races at age 2, but won at least one race worth more than $170,000 in six of the next seven years. His top triumphs came in the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-olds, 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, 2011 Oslo Grand Prix, 2010 Cutler Memorial, 2009 Credit Winner, and 2013 Allerage Open Trot. He finished second in the Elitlopp in 2012 and 2013. He also finished second twice in the Breeders Crown Open, in 2008 and 2009, and twice in the Maple Leaf Trot, in 2009 and 2011. "Arch is pretty much the same as he's been previous years," said Smedshammer, who trains the horse for owners Marc Goldberg and Willow Pond LLC. "It doesn't seem like he's lost much, it's just the competition is tougher. It's been brutally tough, especially [Sebastian K]. "I haven't been too worried about it because later in the year when the others seem to be getting tired, he usually gets better," Smedshammer added. Arch Madness will start from post seven in the second of the two Cashman eliminations. To his inside from the rail are Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone, Sweet Justice, Uncle Peter, Sebastian K, and Appomattox. To his outside is Creatine. The first division, from post one, is Market Share, Your So Vain, Spider Blue Chip, Intimidate, Sevruga, Archangel, and Royalty For Life. It is an accomplished group, with Sebastian K being history's fastest trotter and 10 of the remaining horses having won at least one Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, or Trotting Triple Crown race. They have five Breeders Crown trophies (Uncle Peter, Arch Madness, Intimidate, Spider Blue Chip, and Market Share), four Maple Leaf Trot titles (Arch Madness, Mister Herbie, Market Share, and Intimidate), two Hambletonian triumphs (Market Share and Royalty For Life), two Kentucky Futurity wins (Wishing Stone and Creatine) and one Yonkers Trot (Archangel). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Sebastian K, despite his photo finish first loss since coming to the USA last week in the Maple Leaf Trot, remains strongly in the #1 spot in the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Top Ten Poll. He received 29 of the 35 first place votes with Father Patrick getting three votes and Sweet Lou getting two votes. Someone even used their first place vote by sentimentally giving it to Modern Family. Seems that a lot of voters feel that Dancin Yankee is not worthy of Top Ten status. He has only won 13 of his 20 starts, three seconds, one third while competing week in and week again against the best pacers in the country. He has won his last five in a row, eight of his last ten, a record of 1:57.2 and has beaten Sweet Lou. Plus he has raced and won at four different tracks already this season, including two half mile ovals. Pretty much the same for Perfect Alliance, who after two straight losses (she had 13 straight win to start off the year), is off the Top Ten list. It is every tough to remain on the board this season. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 10 – 7/22/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (29) 8th 6-5-1-0 $327,278 340 1 2 Father Patrick (3) 3tc 6-6-0-0 $510,931 304 2 3 Sweet Lou (2) 5ph 9-6-1-1 $642,650 277 3 4 He’s Watching 3pc 6-3-1-1 $558,235 229 4 5 Trixton 3tc 8-6-1-1 $283,855 160 5 6 McWicked 3pc 8-5-2-0 $418,830 130 6 7 JK Endofanera 3pc 7-5-0-1 $566,667 100 7 8 Shake It Cerry 3tf 6-5-0-1 $217,338 76 8 9 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 7-7-0-0 $211,157 68 10 10 Nuncio 3tc 7-5-2-0 $342,003 56 -- Also: Dancin Yankee (48), Perfect Alliance (31), Bee A Magician (27), Modern Family (17), Market Share (12), Intimidate, Somwherovrarainbow (10), Classic Martine (5), Anndrovette, Rocklamation (4), Artspeak, Your So Vain (3), Bettor’s Edge, Fancy Desire, Foiled Again, Mission Brief (2), Clear Vision, Designed To Be, I Like My Boss (1). Note: Modern Family received 1 first-place vote. Compiled by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Ron Burke says there will be times when 2-year-old filly trotter Mission Brief makes him exclaim with awe, "Oh my God, look what she did." He also says it's possible he will mutter the same phrase in disappointment. "It's going to be both ways," Burke said, laughing. "She's very, very fast. All along I've thought she's our most talented 2-year-old. She just has to get her brain settled down a little bit." Mission Brief was among 17 horses entered in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters at the Meadowlands. Two $20,000 eliminations will be held Friday, with the top five finishers from each division advancing to the $320,000 estimated final on Aug. 2 at the Big M. Also on Friday will be one elimination for the $280,000 estimated Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters. Three horses - Canepa Hanover, Guess Whos Back, and Honor And Serve - received byes to the final based on earnings, so the top seven finishers in the elimination will join them. Mission Brief, who so far has been the season's fastest 2-year-old trotter, is not the only Burke horse entered in the Merrie Annabelle. The sport's leading trainer also sends out Gatka Hanover, who is unbeaten in three starts. "I know there are people in my barn that think [Gatka Hanover] is better than the other filly, but I've been a Mission Brief fan the whole way," Burke said. "Hopefully they'll both make it through and they can settle it in the final." Mission Brief has won two of three races. She went off stride in her first start, but came back to win her next by 9-3/4 lengths in 1:55.1 and then captured the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship by 13-1/4 lengths in 1:53.3. A daughter of stallion Muscle Hill out of the 2007 Breeders Crown-winning mare Southwind Serena, Mission Brief was purchased as a yearling for $150,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. She is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and J&T Silva Stables. Southwind Serena is a half-sister to Southwind Spirit, a Muscle Hill-sired colt that Burke also trains. Last year at age 2, Southwind Spirit won the American-National Stakes and Kindergarten Classic final. "It was the reason we looked at Mission Brief," Burke said of the family connection. "And she was beautiful. That [$150,000] was the most we ever paid for a yearling and we thought we got a bargain." Burke hopes Mission Brief's two wins are an indication she is settling down a bit. "She seems to be getting better about her behavior," he said. "You're just going to have to hope that she picks the right times to put it all together." Gatka Hanover has won all three of her races in Pennsylvania, capturing a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars and two divisions of the sire stakes. "She's never been even challenged," Burke said. "She's done everything wrapped up." Gatka Hanover is by stallion Muscle Massive out of the dam Girlie Tough. She was purchased for $40,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is a half-sister to Heaven's Door, who was winless in four races last year at age 2, but has won the 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship and finished second in the Del Miller Memorial. "We bought [Gatka Hanover] because last year I saw Heaven's Door make breaks and just go unbelievable miles after she ran," Burke said. "You were just hoping this one would be a little calmer, and she is. Heaven's Door has come back this year and been awesome so we're thrilled to have [Gatka Hanover]." Gatka Hanover is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Tracy Hendler. The remainder of Gatka Hanover's Merrie Annabelle elimination, the first of the two divisions, has Wordie Hanover, Demons N Diamonds, Lock Down Lindy, Lilu Hanover, Love Me Madly, Smexi, and Sweet Thing. Mission Brief's split is filled by Sarcy, Flirting Filly, Onda Di Mare, Hot Start, Livininthefastlane, Jolene Jolene, Whitney Hanover, and Crazy Beautiful. "You know there are horses that have not yet shown their best miles," Burke said. "I don't think Mission Brief has seen the bottom and [Gatka Hanover] has never even been challenged. But I'm sure mine aren't the only horses sitting on miles they haven't shown yet. It's just going to be how every horse adjusts to the track." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Former world champion Perfect Alliance, who was victorious in her first 11 races this year before suffering back-to-back setbacks, will try to get another win streak started when she faces five harness racing foes in Friday's $20,000 first round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Perfect Alliance finished seventh in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series on July 12 at the Meadowlands. The race was won by Bee A Magician in a world-record 1:51.1, with Perfect Alliance 4-1/4 lengths back. Afterward, Perfect Alliance was found to have bled, in addition to scoping sick, and will compete with Lasix on Friday. In her previous start on June 14, Perfect Alliance finished second to Classic Martine in the Armbro Flight Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Perfect Alliance starts Friday's Ima Lula from post six, with Corey Callahan driving for trainer Julie Miller, and is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The remainder of the field is Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, and NF Happenstance. "I was pretty surprised because she had a layoff and trained good during the week," Miller said about Perfect Alliance's performance last week. "This time of year, we do have a little bit of sickness in the barn with the young horses. She still went in (1):52 with a last quarter in :27, it's still an impressive mile, but I didn't like how she did it. "After scoping her and pulling the bloodwork, we elected to put her on Lasix and treat her for being sick. She seems really good. We took the necessary steps to get her better for this week. I'm just hoping for a nice bounce-back race. I'll let Corey decide behind the gate what he wants to do, if he wants to leave or race from behind. I just want to see her finish strong at the wire." Perfect Alliance -- owned by Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz, and Arthur Geiger -- won the Singer Memorial Series and the Bobby Weiss Series during the winter and equaled the then-fastest mile ever by a 4-year-old female trotter when she won a division of the Miss Versatility in 1:51.2 at Woodbine Racetrack. She also set a track record at Mohawk, winning in 1:51.4. "You always want more, and we're the same way," Miller said. "She started luckily in good spots [earlier in the year] where she seemed to be the prohibitive favorite all the time, to where she did prove herself in those races in Canada. "You're going to have a clunker every now and then. They're living animals; they're going to have an off day. You just need to listen to your horse and let them decide their schedule. I'm still proud to train her and I'm sure the owners are still proud to own her." The second round of the Ima Lula is July 25 and the $55,000 estimated final is Hambletonian Day, Aug. 2, at the Meadowlands. Reynolds Memorial Stakes divisions for 3-year-old trotters are on Saturday's Meadowlands card. Only four fillies entered, so that race will be a non-betting event prior to the regular 7:15 p.m. post time for the night's first race. One of those fillies is Julie Miller-trainee Take The Money, who is auditioning for the chance to race in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks. Eliminations for the Oaks are July 26 and the $500,000 final is Aug. 2 at the Big M. Take The Money, owned by Barry Guariglia's Black Horse Racing, has won six of 10 races this year, primarily in Pennsylvania. She has twice finished second to top Hambletonian Oaks contender Shake It Cerry. She will be driven Saturday by Marcus Miller and faces Bikini So Teeny, Silent Opera K, and Mity's Winner. "She's been a nice [Pennsylvania] Sire Stakes horse, in my opinion," Miller said. "We're using this race to decide whether if we're a Hambletonian Oaks contender or not. She's had a little bit of a layoff, but I want to see a nice race, finishing with trot. With a four-horse field, it's usually just a race home. That's what I want to do. "If Marcus hops off the bike and says 'She was vicious, she was super,' then you go in the Oaks. If he says she didn't seem strong, then we have to have a discussion. She trained really good. I know by program she seems to be the best, but that's why they still race. I'm just hoping for a strong race." On the boys' side, there are two 11-horse divisions worth $32,207 each. Jimmy Taker-trained Nuncio, who has won four of six races this year and twice finished second to nemesis, and stablemate, Father Patrick, is part of the 3-5 favored entry with Amped Up Hanover in the first division. Nuncio and Amped Up Hanover are eligible to the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Aug. 2. The rest of the field is Uva Hanover, Another Deposition, Sarcastic Man, Southwind Poseidon, Revrac Harbour, Resolve, Home Front, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. All are eligible to the Hambletonian except Another Deposition, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. Takter's Trixton is the 3-5 choice in the second division. The split also includes Mister B's Way, Skates N Plates, Another Transcript, Truxton, Well Built, Speak The Truth, Scacco Matto, Lightning Force, Muscle Midas, and Datsyuk. All are eligible to the Hambletonian. * * * The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters on Friday visits Harrah's Philadelphia, where several horses with famous siblings will go behind the gate. Kolachke (Donato Hanover-La Riviera Lindy) is a half-sister to 2012 Horse of the Year Chapter Seven and Sistas (Andover Hall-Honorable Mother) is a half-sister to Honorable Daughter, the 2008 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter. Inch By Inch (Yankee Glide-Armbro Niagara) is a full sister to millionaire Falls For You, Lilu Hanover (Andover Hall-Lady Luck Hanover) is a full sister to stakes-winner Luckycharm Hanover, and Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough) is a three-quarter-sister to 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Heaven's Door. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications  

When harness racing trainer Ake Svanstedt announced he was leaving Sweden to compete in North America, the initial reaction of Michael Knutsson and Tristan Sjoberg, who had their star trotter Sebastian K in Svanstedt's care, was disappointment. As time passed, the brothers decided it was an opportunity. Rather than find a new trainer, they decided to send Sebastian K to the U.S. with Svanstedt. After watching Sebastian K win the first five starts of his North American campaign and trot the fastest mile in harness racing history, a 1:49 triumph in the Sun Invitational on June 28, they are happy they did. Sebastian K puts his perfect 5-for-5 record on the line in Saturday's C$603,000 Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack. The 8-year-old horse will start from post No. 1 with Svanstedt driving and is the 2-5 favorite on the morning line. Michael, 53, and Tristan, 43, race under the Knutsson Trotting Inc. stable banner. Their father, Bertil, who passed away in 2012, got the family started in harness racing some 50 years ago. Knutsson Trotting has 44 horses, counting racehorses, broodmares and foals. They have six horses in the U.S., including Sebastian K and the rare 2-year-old white pacing colt White Bliss. Four of the horses in the States are co-owned by Courant AB, including Peter Haughton Memorial hopeful Centurion ATM. The brothers operate gaming company TCS John Huxley and Knutsson Holdings AB, with Michael living in Sweden and Tristan in Singapore. They recently took time to speak and correspond with Harness Racing Communications' Ken Weingartner about their passion for racing and Sebastian K. KW: What has the experience with Sebastian K been like so far? MK: It's been absolutely amazing. I'm not surprised with the speed, to be honest, but I'm surprised that he got into it so quickly; that he's been acclimatized so quickly. We knew about his capacity. Of course, 1:49 was absolutely a blast. But we knew he would have a good shot at the old record. It was a bit of a gamble for us to move him from a good environment in Sweden where there is good money and good races, but we're adventurous. We did the right thing and we're enjoying the moment. KW: Why did you decide to send Sebastian K to the States? TS: For the adventure! And to break the world record. We knew he was fast enough to compete against the best in North America and win races, but the real carrot was breaking the world record. His best time in Sweden was 1:51 flat and that was on a five-eighths-mile track that is medium fast. We believed he could go sub-1:50 on a fast mile track so after a lot of soul-searching we decided to ship him to the States with Ake with the singular aim to break the world record. KW: Was it a tough decision? MK: That was a tough decision. It took us months. Automatically, when Ake Svanstedt declared he would move to the U.S., we thought 'Oh no, oh no,' who will train [Sebastian K]. We did not have any thoughts whatsoever to move him outside the Nordic countries because he was doing so well. But then he did a very good race during the summer and we started to speculate: How fast is he? That's what triggered the question whether to move him to the U.S. or not. Not to even try would have been cowardly. So we decided to go for it and we sure did make the right decision. We're very happy about it. KW: Was it an emotional decision? MK: It was very tough emotionally. Firstly, he's done very well in the North European races. And also not to be able to go to him anytime we want, not to see him as often and go to every race, that was emotionally very tough. KW: Did you expect to see Sebastian K do so well so quickly? TS: Yes and no. I did expect him to win races early on, but not in the effortless way he has done. He has really taken well to the U.S. climate and harness racing in general. He was always at his best in Sweden racing at sprint distance (one mile) and on fast tracks in the summer. So the racing conditions in the U.S. and Canada really suits him. KW: What do you think about the Maple Leaf Trot? TS: Apart from the Hambletonian, it is the most recognized North American harness race in Europe. We often see it as the "over there" equivalent of Sweden's Elitloppet. It is steeped in tradition, and after breaking the world record this is the race we really want to win. The younger horses do not have the same cachet here as they do [in North America]. We are drawn to the older horses, the personalities. We like personalities, even with our horses. MK: We have big, big hopes for him. So far everything looks good. He has a good history with five straight wins, so we truly hope he can pull it off. KW: How did you get started in harness racing? TS: It was the passion of our late father, Bertil, and we are carrying on his legacy. The success we are experiencing with Sebastian K is down to our father's hard work and investment over 30 years in harness racing. He started with trotters and he had immediate success with a stakes-equivalent winner in Sweden called Private Property, sired by The Prophet. From there, the barn grew every year as our father was a buyer of horses and not a seller. KW: Michael, you were with your father when Sebastian K won his first classic race [the Group I King's Trophy in Sweden] at the age of 4. What was that like? MK: That was fantastic. Deep inside, we knew there was something going with him, but he had never proven himself in a big race. That was the first big race he won and it was in our hometown of Gothenburg. It was an amazing feeling. It also was [validation] that he was a good horse. Only a few months later he was second in the European Derby for 4-year-olds. That in itself was amazing, too, to be the second best in Europe at that time. KW: What was it like to see Sebastian K win in 1:49? TS: One of the highlights of my life, save for the birth of my daughter. It was 9 a.m. in Singapore and my hand was trembling. When I calmed down I went to my wine fridge to pull out a bottle of champagne, but I realized that it was not going to be strong enough so I grabbed a bottle of 24-year old rum from Guyana instead. It was a good breakfast! My brother Michael was in Sweden and it was 3 a.m. there and we spoke for over half an hour on the phone. He told me later that he was so jacked up that he could not go to bed until 6 a.m.! It was a wonderful day for our family and our thoughts were with our father. It was very emotional. KW: What is Sebastian K's schedule for the rest of the year? TS: If he feels good after the Maple Leaf Trot we will enter him for the Cashman Memorial. After that he gets a well-earned break. The next race would tentatively be the Crawford Farms Trot at Vernon Downs, followed by Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park and Allerage at The Red Mile. He is also staked to the American-National and Dayton Derby Trot, but we have to make a decision closer to the dates. Of course, the season finale is the TVG Championship at the end of November at the Meadowlands. KW: What do you plan to do with Sebastian K after this year? TS: That is the million-dollar question. Our preference would be to combine stud duties with racing, which is the norm in Europe. I know Wishing Stone is doing just that this year in the States so it can be done. We are investigating that possibility and I am already talking to one farm about that option. But no decision has been taken yet. Sebastian K acted as a stud for some of our broodmares and he has sired six yearlings. One of them, a filly, will go under the hammer at Sweden's most prestigious yearling auction, Kolgjini Sales, in September. The dam won close to U.S.$200,000. It will be very interesting to see what price she fetches. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

This Week: Maple Leaf Trot final, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Battle of Lake Erie, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Lawrence B. Sheppard final, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; W.N. Reynolds Memorial, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; and Delvin Miller Adios eliminations, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action will be held this Saturday (July 19) at five different racetracks. Mohawk Racetrack will offer one of their most lucrative events, the C$603,000 Maple Leaf Trot for open trotters, featuring world record holder Sebastian K and defending Maple Leaf Trot champion Market Share. Northfield Park's marquee race, the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie for open pacers, will also be held this Saturday. Yonkers Raceway will host the $125,000 Lawrence B. Sheppard final for 2-year-old pacing colts. Meadowlands Racetrack will host a pair of W.N. Reynolds Memorial trots with two divisions in the $64,414 3-year-old male trot and a single division in the $47,915 3-year-old filly trot. Rounding out the Saturday night action, The Meadows will offer a trio of $50,000 eliminations for their signature event, the Devlin Miller Adios for 3-year-old colt pacers. Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Mohawk entries can be found at this link. Last time: Meadowlands Racetrack hosted seven lucrative Grand Circuit events this past Saturday, led by the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds. He's Watching (Tim Tetrick) watched and waited for a straight shot to the finish line as he won the Meadowlands Pace in an all-age world record-equaling 1:46.4. The time equaled the race mark for pacers on a mile track held by Somebeachsomewhere, Holborn Hanover and Warrawee Needy. He's Watching was content to take a back seat in fifth to early leader Lyonssomewhere, who led the field to the :25.3 quarter, with Luck Be Withyou pacing along in second and JK Endofanera third along the rail. The leader held his position to the :53.2 half when JK Endofanera came off the rail, attempting to improve his position and pressuring the leader around the turn. He's Watching was behind JK Endofanera second-over. It looked like Lyonssomewhere might bottom out the field at the 1:20.3 three-quarters, but horses were soon coming from everywhere. From the huddle of horses trailing Lyonssomewhere came He's Watching, fanned five wide across the track and making up ground with every stride. Behind him and even wider were Always B Miki and Tellitlikeitis. Those three battled down the stretch with He's Watching scoring by 2-1/2 lengths over Always B Miki while Tellitlikeitis was third. He's Watching is owned by Menary Racing, Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and Muscara Racing Trust. In what some observers predict could be a dress rehearsal for the August 2 Hambletonian, the Jimmy Takter Stable starters finished in a fanned-out constellation of three horses across the track, with 2-5 favorite Father Patrick (Yannick Gingras) first to the wire in 1:51.3 in the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old trotting colts. The field was led off the gate by Nuncio, but he was soon overtaken by Father Patrick who hit the quarter-mile mark in :27.2 and led the field to the :56 half. Muscle Network was on the move on the outside, making progress toward the lead before making a break at the top of the stretch. Father Patrick was well within himself at the 1:24.3 three-quarters, with Nuncio inching closer to the leader and Trixton advancing on those two, but unable to get past. As the field hit the finish line, Father Patrick was three-quarters of a length in front, with Nuncio two lengths in front of Trixton. Father Patrick is owned by the Father Patrick Stable of East Windsor, N.J. Sweet Lou sailed down the homestretch for his sixth straight win to take the $463,300 William Haughton Memorial for open pacers in 1:47.1. When the field turned for home, Captaintreacherous held the lead at the 1:21 three-quarters, but was soon set upon on the inside by Bettor's Edge and on the outside by Ron Pierce and Sweet Lou. At the wire, it was Sweet Lou with stablemate Bettor's Edge second and Captaintreacherous held for third. Sweet Lou is trained by Ron Burke and co-owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 432; 2. Tim Tetrick - 429; 3. Ron Pierce - 292; 4. Brian Sears - 205; 5. George Brennan - 174.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 730.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 347; 3. PJ Fraley - 189; 4. Ray Schnittker - 182; 5. Joe Holloway - 152. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 167.35; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 151.1; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. Brad Grant - 79.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at The Meadows and Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadows will host eight Grand Circuit events, led by the final of the Delvin Miller Adios for 3-year-old pacing colts. Meadowlands Racetrack will host eliminations for six lucrative stakes, led by the Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

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