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Anderson, IN--- They had eight high quality harness racing rivals including world champion Guardian AS, Breeders Crown victor Fiftydallarbill, Indiana champions Custom Cantab and Bridge To Jesse’s and defending champion Lindy The Great but it all came down to Atlanta and Gimpanzee on Friday (Sept. 5) at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in the $150,000 Caesar’s Trotting Classic. The mare and stallion did not disappoint as two of the most talented horses in the sport engaged in a scintillating stretch duel in which Gimpanzee narrowly prevailed.  Immediately subsequent to the wings of the gate unfolding, Guardian AS (Tim Tetrick) assumed control from post position nine but he would only remain in that position after a first quarter in a spritely :26.3. That is when David Miller decided to steer Atlanta from sixth straight to the lead. The 5-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven appeared to relish the opportunity to obtain the lead and did not demonstrate any evidence of relinquishing that advantage as she led the field through fractions of :55 and 1:22.4 through the final turn.   Atlanta, however, was about to realize Gimpanzee and Brian Sears had other plans.    Gimpanzee was the slight favorite over the 2018 Hambletonian winner and settled in third for the first quarter mile after starting from post position six. When Atlanta moved to the front, Gimpanzee followed her hoofprints and around the track, biding his time based on Sears’ guidance as to when he should find his best stride.   As these two horses made trotted their way to the finish line it appeared Atlanta would preserve until with roughly a 1/16 of a mile remained Gimpanzee began to inch ever closer. Would he catch the $425, 600 Maple Leaf Trot winner? After all, she had got the best of him in that event when he came home third.  As the mare dug in it seemed she would do so once again. Yet Gimpanzee continued to advance as did Lindy The Great (Andy Miller), but it was clearly a two-horse race. Gimpanzee then drew alongside Atlanta and in a flash was in front. On this occasion, it would be he and not the mare who would visit the winner’s circle at the Anderson oval. Gimpanzee recorded a final time of 1:51.2 as did Atlanta but his :28.1 final panel compared to her :28.3 final quarter mile proved to be the difference.   Lindy The Great held off a fast closing Crystal Fashion (Jordan Stratton) for the show spot.  “He wasn’t 100 up in Canada but he wasn’t as sharp as he was all year,” said Marcus Melander, Gimpanzee’s trainer. “I wanted to qualify him last week to see if he was back to normal and I brought him here because he was. This worked out for his schedule. He has Lexington in two weeks and then the Breeders Crown. The track was good here today and I’m thrilled to be back in a month or so. He always gets the job done, he can race down Atlanta like he did today. She’s an amazing filly but today we beat her and we’re happy about that.”  Officials with Harrah's Hoosier Park present the winning trophy to the connections of Gimpanzee.    -- Photo courtesy of Dean Gillette Photography. Owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, Dan Patch Award winner and dual Breeders Crown champion Gimpanzee now has collected $2.48 million during his career and after an undefeated freshman campaign his record is now 31-21-2-3.   He paid $3.60 to win with Atlanta providing $3.20 to place. Lindy The Great was $3.40 to show.   Live racing will continue at Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, September 26. With a daily post time of 6:30 pm, live racing at Harrah’s Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 21, highlighted by the return of the Breeders Crown October 30 & 31.  For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule, please visit www.harrahshoosierpark.com.     By: Kimberly French, for Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Crucial edges stablemate Sister Sledge for Moni Maker Triumph   Anderson, IN --- Crucial with David Miller holding the lines was the first to enter the harness racing winner’s circle in Grand Circuit action at Harrah’s Hoosier Park on Friday (Sept. 5) when the 3-year-old filly captured the $105,000 Moni Maker Stakes. The daughter of Father Patrick-Jolene Jolene collected the first of eight trophies on Breeders Crown Preview evening. The sensational 15-race card disseminated $1.2 million in purse money.   Leaving from post position five in a field reduced to five after the scratch of the No. 2 horse Princess Dubai, Crucial floated from the gate and went straight to the lead with Sister Sledge (Brian Sears) tracking in second. The Ron Burke trainee established the first fraction of :27.1 with ease as the field went around the first turn in single file. Crucial established the pattern of the entire contest as she went by the half-mile pole in :57.4 and the three-quarter marker in 1:27. Her rivals appeared content to allow the filly her own way on the front.   Shortly after the field rounded the final turn, Sister Sledge, who is also Crucial’s stablemate, and Sears made their bid for victory as they came on through the inside. It appeared Sister Sledge may trot past Crucial shortly before the wire but when asked the leader kept to her task and hit the wire in front with Indiana champion Rock Swan (Trace Tetrick) in third. The final time was 1:54.1.  Owned by Burke Racing Stable, William Donavan, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi, the filly lifted her career bankroll to ____ and improved her overall record to 22-8-2-5. She most recently finished third in the $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes final at Red Mile and was crowned a Pennsylvania Sire Stake champion after winning the $252,000 final in her previous trip to the post. Crucial was also fourth in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and has been an extremely consistent performer throughout her career.   “She has flown under the radar for us just a tad,” said co-owner Mark Weaver. “Sister Sledge was just so good at two I guess I can understand why. Crucial just continues to improve and David Miller really seems to get along with her. She’s raced great for him every time he’s driven her, included a locked-in fourth in the Hambletonian Oaks.”  Sent off as the second choice behind the favored Sister Sledge, Crucial paid $4.20 to win. Sister Sledge provided her supporters with $2.20 to place and Rock Swan’s backers received $2.20 to show.    Test Of Faith hands Somethingbeautiful her first defeat in Kentuckiana Stallion Management  Fresh off her score in the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final, Test Of Faith (David Miller) easily passed the previously undefeated Somethingbeautiful (LeWayne Miller) to collect her sixth consecutive victory in the $220,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management for freshman pacing fillies.   A daughter of Art Major-Cannae Cammie, Test Of Faith was the slight favorite over Somethingbeautiful at post time. The Brett Pelling pupil began her journey over the Anderson oval from post position seven and settled in fourth position through the first split of :27.1 established by Continualou (Joe Bongiorno). After the first quarter mile, Miller moved Somethingbeautiful to the lead while Test Of Faith continued to remain in fourth. Somethingbeautiful hit the half in :57 and passed the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1 while Test Of Faith moved into third. As the fillies hit the top of the stretch Test Of Faith advanced into second and hit her best stride midway through the stretch.   Somethingbeautiful did not offer much resistance and Test Of Faith powered home to win in 1:51.3. Gd Rockin Kay Trace Tetrick picked up the show spot.   “She was very relaxed out there,” Miller said. “And did it very easily.”  Owned by Melvin Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Eddie Gran, Test Of Faith improved to 7-6-1 lifetime and now sports a bankroll of $367,750.   Test Of Faith paid $4.40 to win with Somethingbeautiful paying $2.60 and Gd Rockin Kay $4.80.     Brookview Bolt takes the Madison County  Sam Widger placed Brookview Bolt on the lead immediately after their departure from post position four and the duo never afforded their other eight competitors with the opportunity to gain that advantage in the $40,000 Madison County for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Trained by Ron Burke and owned by Burke Racing Stable, Knox Services, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi, the son of Swan For All-Witty’s Winner is now has a resume of 8-4-2-1 and has earned $86,950.   Swingforthefences (Peter Wrenn) was second and Bridge To Success (John De Long) closed stoutly to be third.   Brookview Bolt paid $7.40 to win while Swingforthefences paid his backers $3.20 and Bridge To Success $3.40.     Iteration impresses in Kentuckiana Stallion Management  Already attracting attention in her young career as the younger full sister to world and Breeders Crown champion Gimpanzee, Iteration (Brian Sears) demonstrated she has plenty of talent of her own with a gate to wire victory in the $221,000 in this contest. Big City Pearl (Verlin Yoder) was second and Swift Swanda (Trace Tetrick) was third.   Iteration, a daughter of Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows, was sent straight to the front after starting her mile from post position five and that is where she remained. The filly clicked off fractions of :27.4, :57.3 and 1:26.2 before stopping the clock in 1:55 well in hand.   “She is a lot like Gimpanzee,” said Sears. “Not much bothers her and she has real ability. She is also very easy to drive.”   Trained by Marcus Melander for owner Courant Inc., Iteration now has a record of 6-4-1-1 and a bankroll of $258,194. She paid $4 to win. Big Pearl was $5.40 to show and Swift Swanda paid $4.20.     No Lou Zing shows a new dimension in Jenna’s Beach Boy  After a freshman campaign in which he only raced on three occasions and failed to hit the board in all three attempts, No Lou Zing (Dexter Dunn) collected his sixth victory from 10 starts this season and has not failed to hit the board in any event he has competed in. Splash Brother (Trace Tetrick) was second and Allywag Hanover (Tim Tetrick) was third in this $100,000 race for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings.   No Lou Zing, a son of Sweet Lou-Terroronthebeach, broke alertly from post position four and Dunn was not about to impede his momentum. The gelding went straight to the lead and played “catch me if you can” with his nine rivals. Obviously they could not as No Lou Zing appeared to only grow stronger as the mile went on. He established splits of :26.1, :55.2, and 1:23 prior to hitting the line in 1:49.3. It was a lifetime best for a horse that had never been on the front in that fashion and on this occasion, it was not quite by design.   “He was really immature last year, he had no concept of what being a racehorse entailed,” trainer Nancy Takter said. “We gelded him and turned him out. Really was babying him racing off the pace. I was nervous when he went to the lead. Probably not the plan for him to be on the front but it was really rewarding to see his maturity and how much he’s become a racehorse. We actually didn’t have him staked very much this year because he didn’t race much last year but it has been very rewarding watching him progress this season.”  Owned by 3 Brothers Stables, Rojan Stables and Caviart Farms, No Lou Zing now has a career record of 13-6-3-1 and has amassed $322,418 in purse money.   He paid $4 to win with Splash Brother providing $5.60 to place. Allywag Hanover paid $2.20 to show.     Southwind Gendry sails home to win The Elevation  It required every inch of the long Hoosier Park stretch but favored Southwind Gendry (David Miller) got the job done in this $120,000 event for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Virgo (Tim Tetrick) was second and What’s Your Beef (Trace Tetrick) was third.  A son of 2016 Horse of the Year Always B Miki’s first crop, Southwind Gendry is out of the Cam’s Card Shark Mare Gambler’s Passion. He commenced his journey from post position four in fourth place while What’s Your Beef paced through fractions of :27.2, :55.3 and 1:23.2. When the field of 10 entered the top of the stretch it appeared What’s Your Beef’s efforts where beginning to take their toll and Southwind Gendry began to move from fourth place on his outside.   Just when it appeared What’s Your Beef may hold on, Southwind Gendry provided one final burst to surpass the leader just prior to the finish line. The winning time was 1:50.4.  Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Philip Collura, Joe Sbrocco, Knox Services, Weaver Bruscemi and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Southwind Gendry’s record now stands at 8-6-0-0 and he has earned $299,369.   Southwind Gendry paid $2.70 as the public’s top choice. Virgo paid $9 to place and What’s Your Beef $8.40.    by Kim French

ANDERSON, Ind.--August 14, 2020 -- The race to the wire at Harrah's Hoosier Park on Friday (Aug.14) was as contentious as Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg with Century Farroh (David Miller) collecting the victory in the 27th edition of the harness racing $225,000 Dan Patch Stakes. The 4-year-old son of Mach Three-Beachy Girl bested even money favorite, Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn) and a swiftly closing Dorsoduro Hanover (Matt Kakaley). Owned by Ratchford Stable Ns and conditioned by Dr. Ian Moore, the 2019 O'Brien Award winner captured the second triumph of his 2020 campaign and improved his overall record to 34-18-6-4. Sent off as the 3-1 second choice, Century Farroh remained perfect (2-2) in his appearances over the Anderson oval after winning last year's $170,000 Jenna's Beach Boy. Leaving from post position two, Century Farroh settled into third immediately out of the gate as Bettor's Wish went to the lead with Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) following him in second. Bettor's Wish tripped the timer for the first quarter mile in a brisk :25.3. Still on the lead after a half-mile in :54.1, Century Farroh remained in third with Backstreet Shadow still in second. As Bettor's Wish separated himself by about two lengths going to the three-quarter pole and established a third fractional time of 1:22.2, Our Majordan A (Andrew McCarthy) who started from the second tier moved past Backstreet Shadow into second placing Century Farroh in fourth. Dr. Ian Moore As the field turned for home it appeared Bettor's Wish had a bit of a breather on the backside and was going wire-to-wire in Hoosier Park's signature event. Midway through the stretch, however, his rivals were seeking to overhaul him. Century Farroh was sixth at this juncture but was advancing steadily on the inside with Dorsoduro Hanover pacing up a storm on the outside. Several hundred yards from the wire it looked like Bettor's Wish would indeed fend off all pursuers but Miller slid through on the inside to hit the finish line in front. Bettor's Wish was right there for second, Dorsoduro Hanover was third and Backstreet Shadow was back in fourth. "He's always been a good horse," Miller said. "He has just had some back luck this year and this time he had some luck. Also, how the track was playing really had no impact on how I drove him. I just went out there and did my job. We had no particular strategy, and this is how everything worked out." Moore had noted earlier in the season it can be difficult transition for a 4-year-old horse but that this one was a, "Tough horse and a good horse. Good horses find a way a overcome things." Century Farroh rewarded his supporters with a payout of $8.60. Bettor's Wish paid $2.60 and Dorsoduro Hanover $7.00. The exacta returned $22.80, the trifecta $48.35 and the superfecta $38.13. The Gregg Haston Memorial Little Rocket Man In the race prior to the featured event the Gregg Haston Memorial, Little Rocket Man, with Hoosier Park's perennial leading driver, Trace Tetrick holding the lines led from gate to wire and stopped the clock in a track equaling 1:47.2. Trained by Missy Essig and owned by Russell Beeman and Jack Freeman, the 4-year-old son of Rockin Image-Gt Miss Royal unfortunately did not quality for the Dan Patch Stakes based on earnings. The Indiana champion was sent off as the 2-1 second choice and improved his 2020 record to 6-5-0-0 with the win in this $39,000 event. Little Rocket Man defeated Gd Western Joe (Matt Kakaley) and Brassy Hanover (Scott Zeron). He paid $6.00 to win. Kimberly French, for Harrah's Hoosier Park

ANDERSON, IN - He has owned a victor in almost major stake contest on the continent but Shnitzledosomethin owns Howard Taylor's heart despite not being a world champion or capturing a Breeders Crown. That could all change with a preparatory race prior to that event in the $225,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Harrah's Hoosier Park on Friday (Aug. 14). "I just had to have him after seeing him as a yearling," said Taylor who co-owns the 5-year-old stallion with Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen and Richard Lombardo. "He was from Fred's {Fred And Ginger} first crop and he was just a specimen. Out of all the horses I have owned and all the races I have been fortunate to win. I have been so lucky; this horse is my favorite." Shnitzledosomethin is out of the Sand Shooter mare Summer N Sand and was bred by Aaron Stutzman of Goshen, Ind. Trained by Dylan Davis, he will have Scott Zeron in the bike when he leaves from post position one on Friday evening. He is 20-1 on the morning line. "My partners thought he was not of the caliber to race in the Breeders Crown [at Hoosier Park in 2018]," Taylor said. "But they told me to go with it. And he finished second by a nose in the elimination and final." Shnitzledosomethin has compiled a record of 59-18-13-2 during his career. The stallion has banked $764,344 and enters the Dan Patch Stakes after he paced a lifetime career mark [1:49.3] at Harrah's Philadelphia on Aug. 2. He has never failed to break the $100,000 barrier in purse money earned each year during his career and shipped to the city of Brotherly Love after an a usual performance in the $123,100 William Haughton Memorial on July 18 at The Meadowlands. "I'm not making excuses for him," Davis said. "All the trainers and horses were in the same situation with detention and protocols. But he just wasn't himself. He's doing great right now and I brought him out to Hoosier early so we are here now. He has not turned a hair all week." The big, bay stallion is definitely a specimen when it comes to his physical presence and Shnitzledosomethin's conformation, oddly enough, is directly related to how he received his unusual name. "He was such a beautiful horse," Taylor said. "Even as a yearling. His breeder said he just had to name him that because he was so big and gangly. He would watch him running and all he could think to himself was, 'Go do something.' And he has." Besides preparing for the Breeders Crown, which will be contested over this oval on Friday (Oct. 30) and Saturday (Oct. 31), Shnitzledosomethin may be paying attention to his younger sibling Somethingbeautiful (Always A Virgin, $44,250). This 2-year-old filly has dazzled in each of her two trips the post over this surface. She is also trained by Davis and Taylor is already looking forward to the Breeders Crown. "Shniztle's sister is special," Taylor said. "And that also shows how special he is. They will both be in the Breeders Crown and I think Shnitzle has an advantage because he has shown he well he races at Hoosier Park." The 2020 installment of the Dan Patch Stakes will highlight the 15-race program that is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be supported by an all-star undercard of racing action. The race will be part of a special weekend tagged as "Dan Patch Festival Weekend". Hoosier Park will showcase some of the most notable names in harness racing alongside special wagers, free prizes, VIP giveaways, and food trucks. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule at Harrah's Hoosier Park, please visit www.harrahshoosierpark.com. by Kim French, for Hoosier Park

East Rutherford, NJ -- It appeared Lather Up barely broke a sweat as he paced his way into the harness racing history books with a 1:46 mile on Saturday evening (July 6) at The Meadowlands en route to his 20th career victory in the $250,000 Graduate final for 4-year-old pacers. Only Always B Miki, at age five in 2016 at Red Mile, has ever stopped the clock as swiftly. The mile also broke the previous mark of 1:46.4 for a 4-year-old pacer, held jointly by stallion Warrawee Needy in 2013 at The Meadowlands and gelding Dr J Hanover in 2017 at Mohawk. Steered by Montrell Teague, the son of I'm Gorgeous-Pocket Comb enjoyed the perfect pocket journey behind Indiana champion Always A Prince (Brian Sears). That rival established torrid fractions of :25.3, :52 and 1:19.1 prior to being overhauled by Lather Up. The winner defeated a hard closing This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) by 2-1/4 lengths and Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) to procure his record-setting triumph. After his early efforts, Always A Prince held gamely for fourth. Owned by his breeders, Gary and Barbara Iles, Lather Up is conditioned by Clyde Francis. He entered this contest after a costly break at the half-mile pole in the $500,000 Ben Franklin final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on June 29 caused him to finish ninth. "I knew we were going to go a crazy mile," said Montrell Teague. "When I popped the pocket and my horse just sprinted I knew we were in a very good position. He throws in a couple bad races here and there but we showed how good he really is tonight. "It's monumental; it's amazing. Wiggles (2015 Horse of the Year and Teague standout Wiggle It Jiggleit) never did anything like that, but hats off to how good Lather Up really is." "George (Teague) has always told me this horse is capable of a (1):46 mile," said Gary Iles. "He's been telling me that for the last two years. We have had some bad goes but he has said he really is that good. Of course, now we know he is. I saw those fractions coming up and I saw Montrell and knew where he was sitting and was very confident it was going to be a win." Lather Up has now amassed more than $1.18 million from 33 lifetime trips to the gate and sports a record of 8-5-0-1 for the season. He paid $14 to win as the third choice in the wagering, while This Is The Plan paid $6.40 to place. Backstreet Shadow was $6.60 to show. By Kimberly French, Hoof Beats Editor  

 East Rutherford, NJ -- Atlanta (Yannick Gingras) took the overland route to claim a world record triumph in 1:49.1 in the $250,000 Graduate final for harness racing 4-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands on Saturday (July 6). The daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip exploded in the lane to defeat world champion Six Pack (Ãke Svenstadt) and Indiana champion Custom Cantab (David Miller) at the wire. The time of 1:49.1 was the fastest ever for a trotting mare, besting the 1:49.2 mark put up in 2017 by Hannelore Hanover at Red Mile. It was also the fastest trotting mile ever at The Meadowlands. Leaving from post position four Atlanta was unhurried as Manchego (Dexter Dunn) led the field of 10 through a swift opening quarter-mile of :26.2. That mare was overtaken by a first-over Six Pack shortly after that marker. Six Pack posted fractions of :54.1 and 1:22 as the field turned for home. Driven confidently by Gingras, Atlanta commenced her march on the outside from third place at the top of the stretch to best Six Pack by a neck in a cavalry charge to the finish line. "I can't say I was not worried turning for home," said Gingras. "His horse (Svanstedt with Six Pack) kicked clear and I know he's a tremendous horse too but this mare is just unreal. She just kept on digging. "Honestly I thought I was a winner at the eighth pole but his horse (Svanstedt's) just kept on fighting and at that point I wasn't so sure. When I tipped her off cover I really thought I was going to get him a little easier than I did but at the end of the day it was two great horses going at it and we came out on top." Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor, the 4-year-old mare is trained by Ron Burke. The 2018 Hambletonian winner now has earned more than $1.48 million in her career and is a perfect six-for-six in her 2019 campaign. Atlanta paid $2.60 to win as the 3-10 public choice. Six Pack paid $4.20 to place, while Custom Cantab provided her supporters with $7.40 to show. By Kimberly French, Hoof Beats Editor

ANDERSON, IN  - It was billed as Round Three of a budding rivalry between two superstar harness racing pacers in Lazarus N (Yannick Gingras) and McWicked (David Miller) and the contest lived up to every bit of the hype, as on Friday (Sept. 21) Lazarus N defeated a hard-charging McWicked by a neck in a scintillating edition of the $177,000 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in 1:48.4. "He felt very good when I was warming him up so I was confident he would race well tonight," said Jimmy Takter, who conditions Lazarus N for Taylor Made Farm. "We know what a talented horse he is, and he really seems to like it here at Hoosier Park." Unlike his last race at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 15 where Gingras drove Lazarus N rather conservatively after his second place finish to McWicked in the $462,000 Canadian Pacing Derby on Sept. 1, the 6-year-old stallion was placed right on the lead prior to the first turn. Leading the field of nine through a first quarter in :26 and the half-mile in :55, Lazarus N looked very strong on the lead he maintained over Filibuster Hanover and Split The House. As Lazarus N hit the three-quarter pole in 1:23, McWicked was pacing comfortably in fifth place and when Western Fame moved first-over, he received a perfect second-over trip to commence his bid for victory. Around the final turn, the separation Lazarus N had placed between himself and the rest of the field began to vanish while McWicked swung to the outside to close with his customary power. As the wire loomed ever closer, McWicked was gaining on Lazarus N with every stride, but Lazarus N was determined and held off McWicked by a diminishing neck. Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick) used a :24.3 final quarter to finish third. "He felt just like he did the first time we came to Hoosier Park," Gingras said. "He is definitely back to himself." Sent to the gate as the even-money favorite, Lazarus N, a son of Bettor's Delight, rewarded his backers with a payout of $4.40. McWicked, who is trained by Casie Coleman and owned by Ed James, was the public's second selection at odds of 2-1, provided his supporters with $3.40. Donttellmeagain, (10-1) paid $4 for his third place finish. By Kim French, for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Columbus, OH --- On Saturday evening (Sept. 8) at Eldorado Scioto Downs, Split The House (Aaron Merriman) demonstrated why he is the defending Breeders Crown champion with a 1:49.1 triumph over Nuclear Dragon (Dan Noble) in the $250,000 Jim Ewart Memorial. Merriman and his charge stated their case when leaving with conviction from post position six. Nuclear Dragon, however, snatched the front to lead the field through a sharp :26.2 first quarter-mile.Filibuster Hanover (Tony Hall) was third, with Western Fame (Tyler Smith) and favored McWicked (David Miller) dead-heating for fourth on the sloppy track. Noble continued to sulky-sit as Nuclear Dragon paced his splits in :53.2 and 1:20.4. It appeared the 6-year-old gelding was on his way to his first Grand Circuit victory. That is until a resurgent Split The House rallied on the rail to win by a neck and collect his second victory of the season in nine starts and 14th in 39 career efforts. Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Split The House is trained by Chris Oakes. He has now earned $306,846 in 2018 and $913,179 lifetime. He paid $12.20 to win, while Nuclear Dragon was $9.20 to place and Filibuster Hanover $17.40 to show. by Kim French, for the USTA

Anderson, Ind.--Aug. 10, 2018-- On a gorgeous Friday evening (Aug. 10) in which it appeared a presence from above intervened to provide perfect conditions, Lazarus N, the Wonder from Down Under, anointed himself as a true harness racing superstar with an impressive 1:48.4 performance in the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino before a legion of admirers in his first pari-mutuel engagement in the U.S. "One of the reasons I decided to buy this horse with my brothers was because we are devoutly Catholic," said Duncan Taylor, whose Taylor Made Farms owns the 6-year-old stallion. "First of all his name is Lazarus which represents a miracle, and his dam's name is Bethany, which is the location where the resurrection took place. Then Bethany's sire is Christen Cullen. These factors made it appear as if (purchasing the horse) was meant to be and a gift from god." Guided by Yannick Gingras and conditioned by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, Lazarus N, a son of Bettor's Delight, left alertly from his assigned post position nine to settle into second behind fellow New Zealand-bred Bit Of A Legend N before the teletimer posted the first quarter-mile split of :26.1. Shortly after the two frontrunners glided around the first turn, Gingras brushed the stallion to the lead and the duo hit the half-mile marker in a measured :54.2. As Lazarus N continued to lead the field of nine through to the three-quarter pole in 1:22.4, he placed a bit of separation between himself and his rivals. As he rounded the final turn, it seemed the horse would pull away in the stretch to post a facile victory. Halfway down the lane, however, Breeders Crown victor Split The House (Brett Miller) mounted a furious rally which drew him nearly alongside Lazarus N. Proving he already has established a passionate fan base, those in attendance were cheering so loudly for Lazarus N to hit the wire first the words of announcer Steve Cross could scarcely be heard. As the noise of the crowd drowned out all sound, Gingras asked his horse for more. He responded in kind to spurt away from Split The House, as well as a closing McWicked (Brian Sears), to stop the clock in 1:48.4. The stallion paced his last quarter mile in a stellar :26. "Yannick said this horse only does what you ask of him," Taylor said. "In Thoroughbred racing we would refer to it as not getting to the bottom of them, but in Lazarus' case he is just a very relaxed horse. Jimmy (Takter) keeps telling us how intelligent he is and that characteristic definitely a part of why he is a special horse. All I know is he is a blessing." After his first U.S. victory, Lazarus N, New Zealand's defending Horse of the Year and that nation's Pacer of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017, now improves his record to 36 wins from 46 starts. The stallion has now earned more than $2.8 million. As the 6-5 favorite, Lazarus N provided his backers with $3 for their support. Split The House paid $7.20 at odds of 19-1 for his second place finish while McWicked offered his supporters $2.20 for third. By Kim French for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association announced Friday (May 4) that Kim French, who currently serves as an internet newsroom editor and writer for the organization's website, has been named interim editor of Hoof Beats magazine. In addition, former editor Dean Hoffman has been hired as a consultant for the magazine. They replace TJ Burkett who recently resigned to pursue another career opportunity outside of the harness racing industry. French joined the USTA staff in April 2016 but had been a contributor to both Hoof Beats and the website as a writer for a decade prior to that. She has written for about 20 equine magazines during her career and was the recipient of a Hervey Award for a Hoof Beats story that appeared in 2016. A graduate of Northern Kentucky University, French also has extensive television experience that includes serving as associate producer, field producer, production assistant and stage manager for ESPN and NBC Sports Thoroughbred national broadcasts, program editor for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup from 2007 through 2015, and has produced the national newsfeed for both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup since 2013. Hoffman most recently taught a Race Track Marketing and Media Relations course as well as provided support for the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program's marketing efforts and its annual Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming. Previously, he worked in public relations and advertising agencies in varying capacities before being named Executive Editor of Hoof Beats magazine, a position that he held for almost 25 years, longer than any other editor since the magazine was established in 1933. In 2007, Hoffman was inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. Two years earlier, he was awarded Harness Tracks of America's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award for contributions to the literature of harness racing and he was president of American Horse Publications and served on its board for 15 years. Ken Weingartner

Columbus, OH --- He may not possess the name recognition or credentials of harness racing stablemates Boston Red Rocks and Doo Wop Hanover, yet Music Is Art has always been held in high regard by his winter conditioner and co-owner, Peter Blood. In fact, he holds a distinction no other horse has attained in the New England and Florida Hall of Fame member’s five decades in the sport. “I’ve always said he is the fastest horse I’ve ever sat behind,” said Blood. “The problem was he could not carry that speed, but I think we have the stamina in him now to do so.” Purchased for $85,000 by Blood and his long-time partner Rick Berks at the 2015 Standardbred Horse Sale, Music Is Art is a 4-year-old son of Art Major and the Western Ideal mare Music Row. As a 2- and 3-year-old he showed glimpses of his ability while compiling a record of 26-5-1-4 and banking just over $100,000. Campaigned by Steve Elliott as a freshman, Music Is Art competed primarily in New York Sire Stakes events, but he was also fourth in a $66,000 division of the Bluegrass Stakes. As a sophomore, the gelding was in the barns of Blood, Mike Deters and Jake Leamon and Elliott and returned to New York for the early part of the season where he was third in the $263,100 Empire Breeders Classic final. He was fourth once again in a $73,400 division of the Bluegrass Stakes and completed his season with a seventh place finish in the $308,060 Progress Pace final. Despite being eligible for the Breeders Crown, Blood and Berks opted to provide Music Is Art with an extended vacation and prepare him for a 4-year-old campaign. “As I said, I always knew he had the speed,” Blood said. “And it was there in his races but he just was not finishing his miles. That does not seem to be an issue this year as he has won both of his races and has already been in 1:50.3. Tony (Kerwood) has been driving him and told me he feels great.” Music Is Art commenced his 2018 with a triumph in a non-winners race at Pompano Park on April 10. He followed that performance with another win in the Open ranks at the same facility on April 22 in the aforementioned 1:50.3, which is also a new lifetime mark. “He and Doo Wop will be sent to race out of New York with Mike Deters,” Blood said. “Red Rocks will go back to Steve (Elliott).” While naturally Blood hopes Music Is Art joins Doo Wop Hanover and champion Boston Red Rocks with stakes wins, each horse has their own unique course charted for the year. “The Graduate (which opens this Saturday at the Meadowlands) is really the only thing we have Music Is Art staked for,” Blood said. “We learned from what happened to Red Rocks last year how tough a horse’s 4-year-old year can be so we’ll see what he tells us for the rest of the year.” After nearly losing Doo Wop Hanover, who captured the 2015 Graduate final and was poised to become a big star in the older pacing ranks, Blood was thrilled to see him return to the winner’s circle on Nov. 27, 2017. It was his first victory since the 2015 Jim Ewart Memorial and the gelding has added two more wins, two seconds and three thirds while racing this winter at Pompano Park. It has been nothing short of a tremendous turnaround for a horse that seemed doubtful would ever appear in a pari-mutuel event again and whom Blood was unsure if he could merely save his life. “We are also just going to take our time with Doo Wop and see how it goes,” Blood said. “I sent his groom up with him, who he loves, and we will keep his races spaced out. He is such a happy horse right now and I don’t have to use a cradle on him anymore. I think he really enjoyed his time down in Florida without having to be put on a trailer to race all the time. I don’t really know what to expect, he’ll let us know; the goal is to keep him happy.” As for 2015 Dan Patch Award winner Boston Red Rocks, the 5-year-old stallion was fourth in his most recent qualifying event behind Filibuster Hanover, Rock N Tony and fellow champion Pure Country at The Meadowlands on April 28. “Red Rocks will follow much the same schedule as he did last year,” Blood said. “Although we will probably go a little lighter with him because we thought he was tired at the end of the season. He had a lot of hard races and despite not getting a lot of wins with him you cannot take anything away from how well he raced. We have no reason not to anticipate him to race well this year. He always gives you all he has and has four :27 quarters in him; he just keeps coming. So we figured we would race him again this year and then maybe see about standing him (at stud).” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

Columbus, OH --- Although he did not compete in Grand Circuit contests as a harness racing freshman, Massachusetts Sire Stakes champion Hashtagmadeyalook could very well demand some attention in his sophomore campaign. He may not be strong in stature, but this young gelding possesses a motor and mind which commands attention on any occasion he places a hoof on the track. “He has not grown taller, but has really filled out,” said George Ducharme, the gelding’s conditioner. “He has grown into his chest and has a nice, big butt. He’s training really well and I think he’s going to be a good little horse.” A son of Chapter Seven-Royalty Free, Hashtagmadeyalook performs for his breeder/owner, Raymond Campbell Jr. The Campbell family’s dedication to the sport spans decades and this horse is a product of that devotion. Although their stallion RC Royalty did not capture the Hambletonian (seventh in his elimination), he has sired a victor of that prized event in Royalty For Life and is also the broodmare sire of this 3-year-old. “RC Royalty has sure been good to me,” said Ducharme, who was responsible for the career of Royalty For Life. “And my relationship with Mr. Campbell goes back many years to when you had to stand a stallion in Massachusetts for their offspring to be eligible; I think that was in the 1980s. The program there has come so far just within the last several years and we are very grateful for it.” Hashtagmadeyalook has compiled a record of 4-2-2-0 and banked $77,550. He is a Commonwealth champion and established a track record (1:56.3) for his age, gait and gender in his first triumph at Plainridge Park on Oct. 23, 2017. With regular pilot Chris Lems holding the lines, the gelding chased Kinda Lucky Lindy around the track in his first engagement at Plainridge Park, in his career debut on Sept. 25 in Massachusetts Sire Stakes action. He was again second behind that rival in his next trip to the post, also in Sire Stakes company, but did trot a :28.2 last panel. Hashtagmadeyalook, however, turned the tables on that rival in his third journey to the gate. He stated he was a force to be reckoned with off a stakes and track record performance on the very first occasion he entered the winner’s circle. The gelding also demonstrated his education was right on point by defeating Kinda Lucky Lindy in the $90,000 Massachusetts Sire Stakes final on Nov. 6. Hashtagmadeyalook assumed command at the beginning of the race and never relinquished control. Lems merely shook the reins to keep his mind on business as the horse stopped the clock in a measured 1:57. “We got a late start with him and qualified him twice at Vernon Downs,” Ducharme said. “We just took our time with him and I think it was the right thing to do. We kept him in Massachusetts rather than taking him to New York, but we are going to try him there this year.” The gelding, who is the first foal from a dam that is a half-sibling to RC Serpent (Conway Hall, $141,161) and Temper Of Will (Conway Hall, $173,888), will ply his trade in the Empire State and determine his own destiny. “Mr. Campbell wanted to keep him eligible outside of New York and Massachusetts for several stakes races,” Ducharme said. “But it is all up to him; we’ll let him tell us what he wants to do, but he has always been good-gaited and knows his work. I think allowing him to have the time off was the best thing and we are hopeful he will have a nice season this year for it.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

Columbus, OH --- Prior to the emergence of Hannelore Hanover there was another young lady that captured the hearts of Hoosier Park harness racing fans with her dominating performances and regal demeanor. Five years into her career, people still crowd the fences to catch a glimpse of her and will her to victory. She is none other than dual Indiana Sire Stakes champion Churita, who possesses a personality that tries her trainer’s patience, but which has propelled her to excel in elite competition. “It has been a journey since we brought her home as a yearling,” said Matt Rheinheimer, her conditioner. “At the end of the day you realize there is no sense fighting with her because she will always get her way. If you walk away from her and she turns her back to you, in her mind she has won. I have had other people take care of her and they wonder how I deal with her, but I don’t know what it would be like without her; I don’t even want to think about it.” A daughter of Airzoom Lindy-Stonebridge Volare, Churita was purchased for $3,700 at the 2013 Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale by Jack Porter. She was not Porter’s or Rheinheimer’s first selection and actually was not even on their list, but for some unknown reason the stars aligned on that particular day and the filly that initially did not warrant special attention became Porter’s property. Churita was not especially impressive training down and Rheinheimer was not sure she was even going to make it to the races as a freshman. In fact, she was only purchased to compete at the fairs, where Rheinheimer and Porter have long concentrated their efforts, but it was discovered she was not eligible to that circuit shortly after she entered Rheinheimer’s barn. Therefore, Churita was pointed to the Indiana Sire Stakes program, where she not only demonstrated her trainer might not have appropriately gauged her ability, but reeled off seven consecutive victories en route to concluding her campaign with a triumph in the $220,000 Sire Stakes final. The trotting filly picked up right where she left off as a sophomore and added nine straight wins before being defeated by Hannelore Hanover in sire stakes action on Sept. 19, 2015. She ended her 3-year-old season with two more seconds to Hannelore Hanover, including the $220,000 sire stakes final, prior to finishing behind Bright Baby Blues in a $46,750 division of the Circle City and the $140,000 Crossroads of America. At that juncture, Churita had earned just over $500,000 and her resume stood at a stellar 24-17-5-2. “Can you imagine how the guy feels that was bidding against me on her?” Porter said. “If he would only have went to $4,000 she would have been his because I was not going any higher.” Like her rival Hannelore Hanover, Churita has continued to trot consistently as both a 4-and 5-year-old. Participating primarily in Opens and Invitationals at Hoosier Park, Miami Valley Raceway and Dayton Raceway, the now 6-year-old has defeated males, came home first in front of Hannelore Hanover in last year’s $70,000 Indiana Sire Stakes final for older mares and has begun this season with two wins in the Open Handicap at Miami Valley Raceway. Churita is currently on a four-race winning streak and has banked $794,710. “People have asked me why we just race her locally but the truth is she is not a very good shipper,” Porter said. “It took Matt some time to even get her to be able to go to Miami Valley and Dayton. The only way you can keep her from tearing the trailer down is allowing her to hang her head out the window as far as she can. I followed him one time to Miami Valley when her head wasn’t out and the trailer was shaking from her.” Rheinheimer concurs the only way to keep Churita happy while hauling her is to allow her to witness what is transpiring around her. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it really,” he said. “And it’s very funny to watch. If a big truck comes along, like a semi, she will just pull her head right in and wait for it to pass. One time we were stopped in traffic and there was a bunch of kids outside. They were just having a ball watching her.” Although she is generous with her time to her fans, Churita is not nearly as kind to her trainer and owner. “She used to never like being turned out and stood right at the gate,” Rheinheimer said. “Now I can’t catch her when she’s out there and she just comes in for her food. She also will not wear wraps and will chew them right off. I can’t really poultice her either because she will lick that right off and every time I go to put the first trotting boot on her she’ll kick. She will only do it once to get it out of her system and then she’s fine. But I think she does like me even though she would never admit it. My wife even says she acts differently when she feeds her than when I do.” Porter does not deal with his prized mare on a daily basis, but Churita will not even allow the man who pays for her feed to snap a photo of her. “She’ll put her head up and prick her ears for anyone else,” he said. “The girls at Hoosier Park have got some wonderful pictures of her in the paddock and many other people that stop by to see her do as well. She won’t for me though. The minute she sees me and sees I have a phone in my hand or a camera, she turns right around, then goes to the corner of her stall. I’m starting to think maybe when she sees me she knows it’s time to race, but I do know I can’t get a picture of her unless it’s in the winner’s circle.” Despite the difficulties she presents, Rheinheimer and Porter could not be any prouder of Churita and how she has blossomed. “We gave her some time off because of the EHV-1 situation at Miami Valley but we should be putting her in on Sunday,” Rheinheimer said. “She has done more than we ever imagined or dreamed of but I would have to say my proudest moment was when she won the Arnie Almahurst at the Darke County Fair. Jackie and I have only ever had fair horses; to have a horse like her good enough to win that race and for it to be her, was very special to us; it was very emotional. “I really don’t know what I will do without her. Jackie bought a farm and keeps asking me when she can be a broodmare. I just keep telling him not yet because I’m just not through with her.” While Porter’s property in Tennessee ultimately awaits Churita for her second career and eventual retirement, the mare still has plenty of races to contest in 2018. “Matt keeps telling me she is too racy to be a broodmare,” Porter said. “I just know my farm is ready for her and I can have her with me for the rest of her days. We are still looking forward to racing her this year and staked her to the Grand Circuit events at Miami Valley, Dayton and Scioto. Whatever she does now is just extra and it always was. To go from racing at the fairs to having a Grand Circuit horse is something I never thought would happen to me. She is my horse of a lifetime and my baby girl.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

Columbus, OH --- One of the primary components of the sport of harness racing is the hope of discovering the next champion despite the odds being stacked in the opposite direction. Therefore, when a horse comes along who defies the unwritten legislation of harness racing it is an inexplicable emotion, which Casie Coleman is now experiencing with the Empire State’s defending freshman filly pacing champion, Alexis Faith. “I focus on the horse rather than the pedigree and this filly was just what I was looking for,” Coleman said. “She had the conformation and size as she was not too big or too small, but she didn’t show us much so I only staked her to New York. When we hooked her up to the race bike though something changed and she became a surprise, but a very good one.” A daughter of the Coleman-trained champion American Ideal and stakes winner Cannae Cammie, Alexis Faith is the first foal from her dam, who collected $538,140 during her career and is a half sibling to Cannae Princess (Cambest, $137,729) and a full sister to Shark On Board ($139,131). Purchased for $55,000 at the 2016 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, this filly is owned by Coleman's West Wins Stable, Jim Fielding, J. Robert Darrow and Kevin McKinlay. “She is by American Ideal,” said Coleman. “And the pedigree is there on her mother’s side so she does have that behind her, but selecting her was on how I felt about her individually.” Although she was a bit on the lazy side when it came to training, Alexis Faith demonstrated her talents in her debut as she dispatched O’Brien Award finalist Kendall Seelster by two lengths in 1:54.2. The young lady accumulated four more consecutive triumphs until she suffered her first defeat at the hooves of Dan Patch Award winner and world champion Youaremycandygirl in an $80,200 division of the New York Sire Stakes at Yonkers Raceway on Aug. 29. Alexis Faith then finished second to a very nice filly in Azreal As It Gets in a $54,500 sire stakes contest at Batavia Downs on Sept. 8 and third behind that rival, in addition to Hurrikane Shorty, under the same conditions at Monticello Raceway on Sept. 19. The filly, however, atoned for those losses by defeating each of the aforementioned colleagues in the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final at Yonkers Raceway on Oct. 14 in 1:55.2. In her sole season of competition she amassed a resume of 9-6-2-1, banked $228,810 and took a mark of 1:53.1. “When she was training she did everything we asked of her, but she just didn’t show us the spark the good horses do,” Coleman said. “But having a New York champion was exciting for us all and for her to exceed our expectations was more than gratifying.” Although Coleman acknowledges she did second guess herself for not paying Alexis Faith in to premier stakes engagements last season, she also admits she will not make the same mistake twice. “She is training great and we are looking forward to her season,” she said. “I did stake her so she has an opportunity to go against the top horses in her division. You never know what is going to happen and even if those races do not work for her, I have a fresh horse that will hopefully do well in the New York Sire Stakes again this year. That is more than enough to ask for, so anything else she does is just extra and how could we not be happy with that? As I told her owners, it could be a blessing she did not have to go up against the toughest horses every week last year and could make her a better horse this year. “We don’t ever know what can happen, but she is awfully good on a half-mile track.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

Columbus, OH --- When Bill Bercury took his future wife, Renee, out on their first date, he selected The Meadows as his venue of choice. For two people that were not involved in harness racing in any way, shape or form, it’s pretty darn ironic their lifetime commitment has not only included a magnificent relationship, but two of The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association’s 2017 award winners in Barn Girl and Dapper Dude. “Neither one of us knew anything about horses,” Bercury said. “But we did know we liked them. I just thought it was a good place to take someone on a first date because everything was there for us. Who would have thought this would ever happen? And it is because I do have such a wonderful wife; she has never been anything but supportive of the horses.” When the Bercurys had the opportunity to acquire world champion Barn Girl in Nov. 2016, they did not hesitate. After all, the daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie was a veritable winning machine and had already amassed $315,146 while competing in the New York Excelsior Series, New York Sire Stakes and Open events at The Meadows. “She came up for sale because Ron Burke had so many good female trotters, like Hannelore Hanover, he was thinking he couldn’t get them all raced,” Bercury said. “I am so grateful and fortunate we could get her. She is tied for the world record on a half-mile track at Northfield (1:53) and she just loves to race; she loves to pass horses.” With a record of 90-43-17-16 and $583,368 in the bank, Barn Girl, a 6-year-old, has demonstrated her ability on many occasions and will continue to do so in 2018 as The MSOA's defending champion older trotting mare. “She is nervous and is like that all the time,” Bercury said. “She can be tough to deal with and when she bites, she bites hard and when she kicks it is with purpose, but she is easy to drive. Aaron Merriman has done a great job with her and really loves her.” The Bercurys also own Dapper Dude, The MSOA's older pacing horse/gelding of the year. The 9-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest defeated world champion Sweet Lou to claim the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship in 2012. Dapper Dude also finished ahead of that rival, but behind Thinking Out Loud and Time To Roll in that year’s $1,470,000 North America Cup final. State Treasurer, A Rock N Roll Dance, Pet Rock and Warrawee Needy were also in his wake. “When I first heard he was up for sale (in 2015) I was outbid on him,” Bercury said. “So when I heard he was up for sale again (in 2016) I jumped on it and didn’t ask any questions. He is such a great horse to be around. You can do anything with him and he has excellent manners; he’s just a joy to be around.” To date, Dapper Dude has amassed $1.18 million and sports a resume of 158-42-28-30. He, like Barn Girl, will remain primarily in the Keystone State for this year’s campaign. “We are not going to do the Miss Versatility Series with Barn Girl this year,” Bercury said. “It just didn’t work out for her last year and we think she is a second tier mare, but a very good second tier. We might go to Miami Valley with her, but otherwise she will stay close to home. With Dapper Dude, we will also keep him here; he’s right there every time.” The Bercurys, however, may have a fortuitous issue as two of their six horses will likely have to compete against one another as their newly acquired world champion, Wind Of The North, will most likely have to take on Barn Girl yet again. “I think he is just going to have a great season,” Bercury said. “Not that I don’t think Barn Girl or Dapper Dude won’t and I also have two 4-year-olds I think will do well, but I think this horse is going to do really well. He fits in perfectly with our stable and has his own paddock he goes out in every day, like everyone else, and he seems really happy. He is another horse that is great to be around and you can do anything with. He’s the only one I own, as Renee owns all the rest of our horses. And he has already beaten Barn Girl.” No matter what the future holds for the Bercury stable, Bill credits Renee for a majority of their success. “She is never afraid to take a chance,” he said. “I have to give her a lot of credit for seeing opportunities and believing in them with the horses. And we have our motto and stick to it: harness racing is fun. That is just what we believe in and how we approach it.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

Columbus, OH --- While his harness racing rivals continued their journey through 2017, there was a name that was conspicuously missing from the programs of the sport’s marquee older trotting events as the march to divisional honors transpired. That horse, the 2016 Dan Patch Award winner, is none other than Obrigado and if all goes according to plan, the 8-year-old world champion will return to work next week to resume his quest for another title. “After his last start (a ninth place finish in the $303,050 Cashman Memorial on Aug. 5) we just knew he was not himself,” said co-owner and conditioner Paul Kelley. “That is why we started a little later with him last year because we knew something was bothering him; we just couldn’t figure out what it was. Finally Dr. Stewart pinpointed that it was something in his right stifle, so we took him to Cornell where he had arthroscopic surgery in November. Dr. Nixon went in and just cleaned it up for him. Everything looks great and we hope to start jogging him the third week in January down here in Florida.” Also owned by SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45, Obrigado is also a two-time Maine champion and burst onto the national scene in 2014 after winning 21 consecutive contests in his home state. Kelley and his partners purchased him for $53,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Mixed Sale and since then the gelding has collected more than $1.5 million for his connections. A model of consistency, Obrigado has earned $405,535, $873,300 and $109,265 in his last three seasonal campaigns. Although he did bank more than $100,000 last year, that obviously was unusual from one of the best older trotters on the planet. Even at less than his best he still managed to accrue that amount from a record of 6-0-2-2. “We just could not find out what was wrong with him,” Kelley said. “We took him all over to have him looked at. Even when he had a bone scan nothing came up that was not normal. I’m just so grateful to Dr. Stewart and Dr. Nixon for finding the problem; they deserve all the credit.” Since his time on the surgical table, Obrigado has been engaged in light exercise in preparation for his return. “He’s just been doing some groundwork after he had some rest,” Kelley said. “He looks great and his recovery seems to be coming along perfectly. Of course it always helps he is such a good patient. I would expect he is ready to begin doing just a little more though as he does really enjoy racing.” With the advances in veterinary medicine, removing bone chips, draining fluid or simply “cleaning up” a joint or two is now quite standard and the prognosis for a full recovery from most horses is excellent. Therefore, there is no reason to not expect Obrigado to return to his exceptional self this season. “We will start jogging him in January but he will not race again until very late spring or early summer,” Kelley said. “It is such a long season with so many good races late in the summer and fall that you really just want to have him ready for those. It’s a lot of travel and with so much racing it can be hard on them. We just want to do what’s best for the horse and he pretty much tells us what to do for him. “Of course we were disappointed with what happened last year, but most of that came from him not being himself, so we knew our job was to find out what was bugging him. Hopefully we will pick up right where he left off and have another great season this year. In this business you never know anything and have to see what happens. We are, however, very excited to have repaired the issue and have him back. “We are also really looking forward to this year with him. He really is such a great horse to simply be around and watching him race has brought us so much joy. We hope it is more of the same this year.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor   

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