With a gutsy first-over move and having to race on the outside for the last half mile of the race, Rocklamation and driver Yannick Gingras captured the $177,750 final of the Lady Liberty Final for older pacing mares Saturday at the Meadowlands. With the winner’s share of the purse at $88,875, Rocklamation surpassed the $2 million mark in career earnings with her third win this year. It was three-time Older Pacing Mare of the Year, Anndrovette, with driver Tim Tetrick going out to the early lead with Drop The Ball (Corey Callahan) grabbing the two-hole spot as they went to the opening quarter mile in :26.1. Gringras then came first-over with Rocklamation to the half mile in :54.4 and they gave live cover to world champion Shebestingin (David Miller) through the three-quarters in 1:22.2. Rocklamation would not give in but neither would Anndrovette as they two locked horns in a dramatic stretch drive with Rocklamation collaring Anndrovette and winning by a neck in 1:49.3. Shelliscape (John Campbell) was third. “She is so tough,” said Gingras, who had five winners on the Hambletonian Day card. “They have been spacing out her starts by design because she is not the soundest mare but she has a great heart.” Trained by Ron Burke, one of his four winners on the card, Rocklamation is a six-year-old mare by Rocknroll Hanover. She paid $6.60 to win and is owned by the Our Horse Cents Stable, Stable 45 and the J & T Stables. “This mare just amazes me anymore,” Ron Burke said. Every start could be her last. She just keeps going and going.” With her second place finish in the Lady Liberty Final, Anndrovette is now just $8,238 short of surpassing the $3 million mark in earnings. Rocklamation By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications
CAMPBELLVILLE, August 1 - All eyes in harness racing will be on the Meadowlands this Saturday for the Hambletonian and local standout Harper Blue Chip will be one of eleven trotters vying for harness racing's highest profile trotting title. Trained by local conditioner Mark Steacy, Harper Blue Chip will start from post position nine with driver Brian Sears in the $1,006,125 Hambletonaian, which is carded as Race 13 on Saturday afternoon. Harper Blue Chip races for owners Landmark 6 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie and George Judson of Athens, Ontario. The son of Majestic Son - Winning Jonlin is coming off a 3 ¾ length victory in the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 19. In six starts this season, Harper Blue Chip has visited the winner's circle twice and has only missed the board once when he finished fourth to the Father Patrick in the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28. Just like the Beal Memorial, Harper Blue Chip and the rest of the field will be gunning for Father Patrick, who enters the Hambletonian on a 15 race win streak. Father Patrick is just one of three starters (Nuncio and Trixton) sent out by trainer Jimmy Takter. Takter's trio are the top three choices on the morning line. Harper Blue Chip is the fourth choice in the early odds of 12-1. Steacy admits that it will be a tough task defeating Takter's trio, but that his horse is on top of his game. "We've got our work cut out for us," said Steacy. "I was quite disappointed drawing the nine, it kind of made things a lot more difficult, but our horse is going into the race really good and healthy, so I expect a good effort from him as long as we have some race luck." Since the fourth place effort in the Beal, Harper Blue Chip has dominated locally and Steacy believes Harper Blue Chip is a better horse than the last time he faced the continent's very best. "I think with the trio of Jimmy Takter's it's a big step up, but he's raced against these horses before, never been able to beat them, but he's gone against them and he's been respectable," said Steacy. "I think my horse is better than the last time he raced against these horses and I think he's improved with every start and again a lot of racing luck and you never what might happen." Steacy has an idea of the trip he would like for his charge, but will leave the strategy up to defending and two-time Hambletonian winning driver Brian Sears. "It's going to be up to Brian Sears, but I'm hoping he will try to charge off the gate...obviously you want to be as close to Father Patrick or Trixton or one of those horses that you can be." Defeating Takter's trio will be a tough task for the Mark Steacy trainee, but Steacy knows what it takes to win a million dollar race with a three-year-old trotter. In 2006, Steacy captured the million dollar Canadian Trotting Classic with Majestic Son, the sire of Harper Blue Chip, overcoming favourites Chocolatier and Trotting Triple Crown winner Glidemaster. On Saturday afternoon, Steacy will be looking to recreate that million dollar magic with Harper Blue Chip. No horse has been hotter on the WEG circuit this season than State Treasurer and the Dr. Ian Moore trainee will take his talents south to the Meadowlands to battle with the sport's top free-for-all pacers on Saturday. State Treasurer will start from post two with driver David Miller in a field of nine for the $257,700 US Pacing Championship. The five-year-old son of Real Desire - Ideal Tresurer has won seven times in ten starts this season, including a victory last Saturday night in the Preferred at Mohawk in 1:48.3. State Treasurer has started in the WEG Preferred seven times this season and is currently riding a six race win streak in the circuit's top class. All six of those wins have been sub-1:50 miles. His biggest victory of the season was on May 30 in the $150,000 Molson Pace at Western Fair. State Treasurer's rivals on Saturday include Sweet Lou, who is currently on a seven race win streak, and Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pepsi North America Cup winner. Two starts back, State Treasurer tackled this group in the $463,000 William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands and finished fourth, while only beaten 2 Â½ lengths. This Saturday, State Treasurer will need to bring his top game and the speed he has been putting on display. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
We have been on a roll as of late with winning weekends the last two weeks. I am confident we can make it three straight winning weeks and never have to leave the Meadowlands. It’s their closing weekend and that mean’s Hambletonian Day, one of the best days of racing in the sport of harness racing this Saturday, headlined of course by the Hambletonian Trot. The card is jamming with top stakes action. The only problem is something we have no control over and that is Mother Nature. I handicapped based on a fast track so here’s hoping the rain either ends early or does not stop until late in the day. Good Luck! $52,000 Trot Ima Lula Final 4YO Mares Meadowlands 1st race SATURDAY – With a serious case of seconditis after her championship season last year, we keep hoping for Bee A Magician to return to her unbeaten form of 2013 but it just isn’t happening. Perhaps they will change tactics here and go back to racing her off the pace and that she will be able take this field. Use Classic Martine and Ma Chere Hall in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Miss New Jersey 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 3rd race SATURDAY – Seems that trainer Jimmy Takter may have solved the previous breaking problems of Gettingreadytoroll off her lifetime mark last week in 1:49.3 and that she is settled down to keeping her mind on business. Repeat of last winning effort will bring home the bacon in here. Use Act Now and Bliztra in exotic plays. $225,000 Pace New Jersey Classic 3YO Colts Meadowlands 4th race SATURDAY – Western Vintage has had a rough 3YO season after many thought he would be one of the leaders in this division after his great two-year-old season. Seems he has not lived up to expectations but should go off the favorite here after decent qualifying win. I’m going with Doo Wop Hanover. He has had good success when not racing against the best in the country, drew well for this and could get the dream two-hole trip to score off of. Use Western Vintage and Bushwacker in exotic plays. $257,700 Pace FFA US Pacing Championship Meadowlands 5th race SATURDAY – Too tough to even consider going against the best pacer in the sport. Sweet Lou is on a seven-race winning streak, last four in less than 1:48 and he is just a pacing machine. He is facing a strong field but he has beaten all of them before and can do it again. Use Captaintreacherous and State Treasurer in exotic plays. $352,050 Trot Merrie Annabelle 2YO Filly Final Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY – This will be an interesting matchup as both Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover have yet to meet and both are hot fillies that race on the front end. Mission Brief gets the call with her blinding early speed but you never know how Gatka Hanover will handle getting a two-hole trip. Use Gatka Hanover and Lock Down Lindy in exotic plays. $355,500 Trot Peter Haughton 2YO Colt Final Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY – It’s interesting that in this final there are four return winners of the ten starters. Ake Svanstedt’s Centurion ATM showed he is the horse to beat after coming off the pace in his elimination race last week and strolling to a 1:54.2 win in just his third lifetime start. Repeat of that mile will make him an easy winner once again. Use Canepa Hanover and Guess Who’s Back in exotic plays. $75,000 Trot FFA Vincennes Invitational Meadowlands 10th race SATURDAY – All the talk was that after Master Of Law won his qualifying race that he was on his way to taking on the best in the country. He lived up to performance with a 1:52 win last time out and now gets really tested against a good field and having to start from post nine. Use Wishing Stone and D’Orsay in exotic plays. $300,650 Trot John Cashman Memorial FFA Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY – Whether it rains or not I think Sebastian K and Ake Svanstedt are too tough to get caught again at the wire. No one can out leave him and unless every horse in the field tries to go first-over against him, he has too much stamina to not hold them off. Use Uncle Peter and Market Share in exotic plays. $500,000 Trot Hambletonian Oaks 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 12th race – Last week in prep race, Ron Pierce and Shake It Cerry held Designed To Be and Brian Sears at bay and were able to win. Now Shake It Cerry starts from second tier in post 11 and won’t be able to dictate early fractions to anyone. I still think that Shake It Cerry will “shake it loose” somehow and find a different way to beat Designed To Be once again. Use Designed To Be and Lifetime Pursuit in exotic plays. $1,066,125 Trot Hambletonian Final 3YO Colts Meadowlands 13th race SATURDAY – Trainer Jimmy Takter has his heart set on finishing one, two, three in harness racing’s most prestigious race and he very well should get what wants as he has the best colts in racing. Father Patrick needs to just overcome starting from post ten as he is seconds faster than the rest of the field. Use Trixton and Nuncio in exotic plays. $177,750 Pace Lady Liberty Final Older Mares Meadowlands 14th race SATURDAY – Was super impressed with the three moves Drop The Ball made for driver Corey Callahan last week in winning elimination race. She will need that gusty performance once again to win the final as Rocklamation will be in the hunt this week. Drop The Ball gets the slim call in here. Use Rocklamation and Somwherovrarainbow in exotic plays.
This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Hanover Colt Stakes and Hanover Filly Stakes, Balmoral Park, Crete, Ill; and Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off this Friday (Aug. 1) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt trotters and 2-year-old filly trotters. There will be three $10,000 divisions for the colts and five $10,000 divisions for the fillies. The big Saturday afternoon (Aug. 2) program is led by the $1,006,125 Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $300,650 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, the $177,750 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters. Also on Saturday, Balmoral Park will host the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Sunday (Aug. 3) the Crete oval will feature the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. Tioga Downs on Sunday will feature the $78,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $67,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Confronted by a challenger who would not go away, 1-5 favorite McWicked dug in, blazed the back half in an amazing :53.2 and captured this past Saturday's (July 26) $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light at The Meadows. McWicked held off Somewhere In L A at the wire to win the Delvin Miller Adios. With the 1:49.1 victory, Casie Coleman, who conditions McWicked for S S G Stables, became the first female trainer to win an Adios final in the 48-year-history of this important test for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Leaving from post two, David Miller was able to give McWicked a rather leisurely half in :55.4 on the front. When Brett Miller moved Somewhere In L A uncovered down the backside and the pair looked McWicked in the eye, the battle was on. However, McWicked edged away in deep stretch to triumph in 1:49.1, a length better than his gallant rival. Cammikey was a ground-saving third. With the win, McWicked pushed his career bankroll to $798,447 and extended a prolonged roll that has seen him sweep the eliminations and final of the Max Hempt Memorial and the Adios. Many of the sport's stars were out on Saturday night at The Meadowlands and none were brighter than Archangel who won the first elimination for the John Cashman, Jr. Memorial trot in a world record 1:50. The mile broke a six-way tie for the fastest mile ever by a trotter on a mile track. Yannick Gingras sent the handsome 5-year-old millionaire son of Credit Winner out fast for the lead with a wicked :26.1 opening quarter then set even fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.3 in the record mile. Archangel was a geared down 1-3/4 length winner over Intimidate with Market Share third. Your So Vain and Sevruga rounded out the qualifiers from this elimination for this Saturday's Cashman final. Ron Burke trains the winner for Legendary Standardbred Farm and Claire Semer. Sebastian K was back to his winning ways in the second elimination for Ake Svanstedt with an easy three length score in 1:51. The race began with Creatine flying off the wings from the outside for Mike Lachance and clearing Sebastian K as they reached the quarter in a dazzling :26. The pace slowed abruptly when Lachance took up on the lead and Svanstedt was forced to yank Sebastian K out quickly before Mister Herbie could get the jump on him from third. He got out, though the judges flashed the inquiry sign and reviewed the move, and was back to the top. Sweet Justice mounted a final turn challenge but was rebuffed with a :27.3 final quarter. Mister Herbie split horses late to be second, Uncle Peter was third in his return to US soil, Appomattox a solid fourth and Arch Madness captured the final berth in this week's race. The winner is trained in the Svanstedt barn for Knutsson Trotting and was winning for the sixth time this year in seven tries. 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 - 509; 2. Tim Tetrick - 443; 3. Ron Pierce - 307; 4t. Brian Sears - 205; 4t. David Miller - 205. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 884.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 444; 3t. PJ Fraley - 189; 3t. Ray Schnittker - 189; 5. Joe Holloway - 154. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 206.75; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 188; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. S S G Stables - 80. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at The Meadows with the Currier & Ives for 3-year-old colt trotters; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for older pacers; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit
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
July 27, 2014 – The Meadow’s Adios Card is in the books and at the end of the day Handicapper Ray Cotolo reigned supreme for the week in HANA Harness’ Grand Circuit Handicapping Shoot-Out Contest with a weekly net profit of $305, nearly $100 ahead of his closest opponent. While Cotolo is a newcomer to the list of weekly winners, Bob Zanakis continues his run as overall leader with a combined net profit of $3,000.70 ($140 for the week), leading second place Brandon Valvo by $607.20. This week, the adage it only takes one hit to make you a winner applies as Cotolo’s victory came thanks to a single wager, a $150 win wager on Allstar Rating in the Adioo Volo which returned a $705 dividend. Other handicappers had winners, but due to the short-priced nature of the card, significant winners were at a premium, amongst them were: Derick Giwner’s $150 Win ticket on Too Darn Hot in the second division of the Adren Downs 2yo C&G pace paid $480; Mark McKelvie’s $50 Win ticket on Rich Wisdom in the first division of the Arden Downs for 2yo C& G pacers paid $195; Rusty Nash’s $100 wager on the same horse paid $390; Dennis O’Hara ‘s $10 Exacta part wheel ($30 total) in the first division of the Arden Downs for 3yo Filly trotters returned $125; Josie Verlingierli $40 straight wager on the second division of the Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace, earned $156; Gordon Waterstone’s $50 Exacta in the third division of Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace which returned $115. As the Hambletonian marks the unofficial mid-point in the stakes season, the standings for the Handicapper Shoot-Out at the mid-point are: As of July 26, 2014 - Leg 19 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis $140.00 $3,000.70 2nd Brandon Valvo $50.00 $2,393.50 $607.20 3rd Derick Giwner $206.00 $623.17 $2,377.53 4th Ray Garnett ($218.00) $15.85 $2,984.85 5th Mark McKelvie ($119.50) ($91.50) $3,092.20 6th Brian McEvoy $7.50 ($185.00) $3,185.70 7th Earl Paulson ($71.00) ($437.00) $3,437.70 8th Josi Verlingieri ($126.00) ($956.40) $3,957.10 9th Gordon Waterstone $108.60 ($989.30) $3,990.00 10th Ann Stepien ($189.00) ($1,020.11) $4,020.81 11th Garnet Barnsdale ($280.00) ($1,078.00) $4,078.70 12th Sally Hinckley ($400.00) ($1,325.00) $4,325.70 13th Rusty Nash $160.00 ($1,712.40) $4,713.10 14th Dennis O'Hara $30.50 ($2,097.70) $5,098.40 15th Ray Cotolo $305.00 ($3,398.40) $6,399.10 This week, the Grand Circuit Handicapper Shoot-Out visits Meadowlands Racing & Gaming for the Hambletonian Day card amongst which are the $1.2 million Hambletonian, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, $352,050 Merrie Annabelle, $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial, $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship, $177,750 Lady Liberty, and $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial. For more information regarding the handicapping contest, please visit http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com. by Allan Schott, for HANA
SHAKE IT CERRY EASY WINNER IN HAMBO OAKS PREP
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
This Week: Delvin Miller Adios final, Adioo Volo and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.; John Cashman Jr. Memorial, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial and Merrie Annabelle eliminations, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit actions kicks off this Friday (July 25) at The Meadows with four divisions in the $80,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt trotters and three divisions in the $60,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (July 26) card at The Meadows features the $400,000 Delvin Miller Adios final and $30,000 Adios consolation for 3-year-old colt pacers, a single division in the $114,175 Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, three divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt pacers, two divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly pacers, two divisions in the $65,310 Arden Downs for 3-year-old colt trotters and two divisions in the $54,952 Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters. Meadowlands Racetrack will offer four sets of elimination races this week, with all the finals slated for the Hambletonian card of Saturday (Aug. 2). On Friday, the Meadowlands will host two $20,000 eliminations in the Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters and a single $20,000 elimination in the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters. On Saturday the program will feature two $50,000 eliminations in the John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters and a single $40,000 elimination in the Lady Liberty for older pacing mares. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Intimidate, trained by Luc Blais and driven by Sylvain Filion, pulled off a 45-1 upset over the heavily favored Sebastian K in the $560,790 Maple Leaf Trot this past Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack. Intimidate won the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose over Sebastian K. Sent postward as the 1-5 favorite, Sebastian K got away in second behind post ten starter Modern Family who was sent hard to the lead over the 'sloppy' track to post an opening quarter of :26.4. In the second quarter, trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt sent Sebastian K to the lead and controlled the race through the middle half with fractions of :57.3 and 1:26.4. Intimidate got away in sixth and picked up cover in the second quarter behind Flanagan Memory and was towed around the final turn second-over and just a few lengths away from Sebastian K. In the stretch, Sebastian K continued to dig in and tried to hold off his challengers, but Intimidate in the final stride nailed the heavy favorite to win the 63rd edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in 1:54.2. Market Share, the 2013 Maple Leaf Trot winner, came off the rail and made a late charge on the far outside to finish third. The Maple Leaf Trot victory was the third win in seven starts this season for Intimidate, a 5-year-old son of Justice Hall-Fabulous Tag, owned by Determination and Judith Farrow. In other Grand Circuit action over the weekend, Clear Vision broke the Northfield Park track record for older pacing geldings, posting a 1:49.3 win in the 29th edition of the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie. Clear Vision (Western Hanover-Artistic Vision) is owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, The Panhellenic Stable and James Koran. He is trained by Ron Burke, who called upon Brett Miller to drive. Clear Vision started from post four and immediately advanced a position when Bolt The Duer made an uncharacteristic break to his inside. He was still sitting third at the :26.2 opening quarter. Miller pulled Clear Vision in the second panel and he remained first-over through times of :54.2 and 1:22. Clear Vision locked horns with pacesetter Night Pro in the last turn and bested him by two lengths in the stretch, stopping the timer at 1:49.3. Foiled Again finished third. In The Arsenal (Eric Goodell) never had an anxious moment this past Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $125,000 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace in 1:56.4. In the Arsenal opened 2-3/4 lengths on the field in and out of the final turn. A pocketed Rock N' Roll World cosmetically cut the final margin down to three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4. Third went to a stubborn Parklane Eagle. Second choice In the Arsenal, a White Birch Farm homebred son of American Ideal-Ladyotra trained by Kelvin Harrison, returned $6.30 for his second win in three seasonal/career starts. 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 - 437; 2. Tim Tetrick - 434; 3. Ron Pierce - 292; 4. Brian Sears - 205; 5. George Brennan - 174.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 767.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 397; 3. PJ Fraley - 189; 4. Ray Schnittker - 184; 5. Joe Holloway - 152. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 177.8; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 160.3; 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 Meadowlands Racetrack, Balmoral Park and Tioga Downs. Meadowlands Racetrack will host nine Grand Circuit events, led by the $1.2 million Hambletonian, the first leg of Trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Balmoral Park will contest Hanover Stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters. Tioga Downs will race Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit
East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands has been a proud host to The Hambletonian for the past 34 years as America's Trotting Classic has been calling East Rutherford, New Jersey home since 1981. This year delivers a new and exciting aspect to The Hambletonian as it will be the first to be raced out of the brand new $100 Million facility which opened November, 2013. Hambletonian week begins on Saturday July 26th with the eliminations for The Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship and Lady Liberty. The evening will be centered around the theme of "Ladies Night," including a concert in the Backyard by Lisa Matassa, Macy's Gift Card and Ladies Handbag drawings as well as a special Ladies' Night cocktail. Reserved seats and packages for Hambletonian Day, Saturday August 2nd will be on sale all week at a price of $10.00 for an outdoor seat. Indoor grandstand seating is already sold out. Please call (201) 460-4079 for tickets. Tuesday, July 29th will feature the post position draw for the 89th Hambletonian. Once again, the draw will be raced in "heat format", with same day eliminations. If 13 horses or less enter The Hambletonian, it will be contested as one dash for $1.2 Million. The post position draw will take place at Victory Sports Bar at 4:00 P.M. After the post position draw, Casino Night will follow in The Lounge and The Gallery, beginning at 5:30 P.M. Casino night will benefit The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame as well as the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. Racing begins on Friday August 1st at 7:15 P.M. The racing program will feature the Townsend Ackerman, Duenna Invitational, Hambletonian Amateur Drivers, Kindergarten Classic and Hambletonian Racing Under Saddle event. Advance wagering on the entire Hambletonian Day program will begin at 12:00 P.M., Friday. Hambletonian Day begins with doors opening at 10:00 A.M, with admission of $5. All paid adult guests will receive a Hambletonian baseball cap, while paid children will receive a Hambletonian lunch bag. WFAN will be broadcasting in The Backyard from 10:00 through 12:30 P.M. For our younger guests, there will be Kiddie Rides, Face Painters and Pony Rides from 11:00 A.M. through 4:00 P.M. First race post time is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. Live music will begin at 12:00 P.M. as well. The Hambletonian national broadcast will be aired on CBS Sports Network from 4:00 - 5:30 P.M. TVG will be on-site and broadcasting live the entire afternoon. The Hambletonian Final is scheduled for race 13, with post time at 5:11 P.M. Following the 14th race will be the Horseplay Car Giveaway where someone will drive out of The Meadowlands in a brand new car. Guests have many options when it comes to dining. Victory Sports Bar will be open at 10:00 A.M. featuring a buffet at a price of $44.95 per person. The East Apron tent also features a buffet, with a carving station at a price of $44.95 per person. Trotters is members-only for Hambletonian Day and a reservation is required. Lastly, Pink will feature a prix-fixe menu at a price of $49.95 per person. For all things Hambletonian, visit playmeadowlands.com and hambletonian.org. From the Meadowlands Media Relations
East Rutherford, NJ - The 2014 Championship Meet at The Meadowlands will offer over $9 Million in harness racing purses for its stakes races, headlined by the $1.2 Million Hambletonian on Saturday August 2nd. Carrying a $1.2 Million total purse, The Hambletonian is the richest Standardbred race in North America and will be the first jewel of the trotting triple crown in 2014. Hambletonian Day will also include a wide array of other stakes races, with total purses for the day being approximately $3.5 Million, the richest day of racing in the state of New Jersey. The Hambletonian program will also include The Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle, Lady Liberty and more. "Hambletonian Day is always the greatest day of racing for our sport each year and we are thrilled to be the home of such a historic event," said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. "It is an event like the Super Bowl for us, where as soon as Hambletonian Day is over, we begin working on the next one." This year's Hambletonian will be the first in the new $100 Million Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment facility. "We are excited to give The Hambletonian a brand new, state of the art facility to call home," said General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The experience for our customers will be better than ever, with more activities and a wide array of options for our customers to enjoy the day how they want, from fine dining, a gorgeous sports bar, skyboxes, a rooftop terrace and The Backyard which will be an enhanced version of the old paddock park. In addition, the day is sure to have a more intimate connection to the racing than ever before, as we have been feeling that energy all season long here at The Meadowlands." Post time for The Hambletonian Day program is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. The Meadowlands signature event, The Meadowlands Pace will take place on Saturday July 12th. Thanks to proactive changes made to the payment structure of the race, The Meadowlands Pace is showing promising growth through the sustaining payments and will carry a purse of an estimated $750,000 for the 2014 edition. "We worked very hard on improving The Meadowlands Pace," said Zoccali. "We implemented an altered payment structure which will continue to evolve going forward and we are already seeing the results through the sustaining payments. This year's Meadowlands Pace is trending toward a substantial increase in the purse for the Final over 2013." The Meadowlands Pace program will also offer a huge card of racing, including such races as The Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Del Miller Memorial, William Haughton Memorial, The Golden Girls, The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for two year olds and more, producing a near $3 Million night of stakes action. Meadowlands Pace Night will feature a special start time of 6:30 P.M. New to the 2014 Stakes Calendar is The $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for four year old trotters, to be contested at 1 1/8th Miles on Saturday July 5th which is Meadowlands Pace Elimination night. A maximum of 16 horses will be on the gate for the $400,000 event. "This is a unique event," added Zoccali. "It would be great to see upwards of 12 or 13 horses entered as the race would have a European-style feel to it and I think is something we will all enjoy. It also provides a major race for the four year old trotters to target as their stakes season kicks off." Other major events are the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, to take place on Saturday May 17th and will coincide with Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night. The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for three year olds will be on Saturday May 31st and The Meadowlands Maturity Pace on Friday June 13th, which is likely to mark the 2014 debut of Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pacer of the Year. While not a part of the summer Championship Meet, The Breeders Crown makes its return to The Meadowlands in the fall, with the Finals taking place over two championship nights of racing, Friday November 21st and Saturday November 22nd. The standardbred stakes season will end the following Saturday night, November 29th, with the second annual $1 Million TVG Free For All Championships. The 2014 Meadowlands stakes program will offer an estimated $16 Million in purses and the full stakes schedule can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/uploadedfiles/2014_Meadowlands_Stakes_Schedule.pdf. by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands
Sixteen down, one to go. Bee A Magician will try to complete a perfect season Saturday night when she faces nine foes in the $253,000 Moni Maker Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Ranked No. 1 in the sport's current Top 10 poll, Bee A Magician is 16-for-16 this year, with $1.42 million in earnings. She will start the Moni Maker from post eight for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and driver Brian Sears. "I am feeling a bit of pressure, yeah," Norman said. "I wasn't feeling any until now, because you're so close. We're a few days away from it being over. "But it's exciting. The other thing is you could be not racing. Two weeks from now when she's not racing and she's out in the paddock I'm going to miss her, that's for sure." Bee A Magician will try to join Muscle Hill, Syrinx Hanover and A Worthy Lad as the only trotters to go undefeated at age 3 and earn year-end honors dating back to 1975. Muscle Hill, a colt, won all 12 of his races in 2009 and was named Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada. Syrinx Hanover, a filly, went 12-for-12 in 2001 and was named Trotter of the Year in the U.S. (losing Horse of the Year to filly pacer Bunny Lake). A Worthy Lad, a colt, was perfect in 13 starts in 1990 and received the O'Brien Award as Canada's best 3-year-old male trotter. "It's just a dream," said Mel Hartman, who owns Bee A Magician with David McDuffee and Herb Liverman. "At times she's done it so easy it's scary. I've had some great horses, but if you have a horse that's being considered for Horse of the Year they have to be super special. I would say she's super special. It's been a hell of a ride." Bee A Magician's wins this year include the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, in a stakes-record 1:51.4, and the $500,000 Breeders Crown, in a stakes-record 1:52.4. She also captured the Elegantimage Stakes, the Delvin Miller Memorial in a world-record 1:51, and the Ontario Sire Stakes championship. For her career, Bee A Magician has won 26 of 29 races and earned $2.18 million. Her earnings are the record for any filly, trotter or pacer, at ages 2 and 3 combined. She is coming off a victory in the American-National Stakes on Nov. 9 at Balmoral Park in Chicago. "She's had three weeks since her last race, so she's not right on top of her game, I wouldn't say," Norman said. "But we trained today (Tuesday) so she's going to be very close." There is no precipitation in the forecast for Saturday, but it will be cold. The high temperature is projected at 38 degrees and the low at 32. "I'm nervous racing this late in the year," Hartman said. "My experience is that fillies and mares are not too crazy about racing in the cold. It seems harder on them than the (male) horses. I just hope we haven't made a mistake." The Moni Maker field includes Sheena's Shadow, Handover Belle, Ma Chere Hall, Andie Sophia, Little Bitty Lies, Southwind Cocoa and Time To Kill lining up inside Bee A Magician, with Mistery Woman and Deja Vu Too to her outside on the starting gate. "I didn't expect anything like this," Norman said about Bee A Magician's campaign. "You don't expect that from any horse. It is a long year; the horse has been in work since February and we're almost to December. It's 10 months of hard work and a lot of starts. "It's just tough for them to keep going and be good the whole time. It's amazing that she has been, really. That's why it's such a big achievement, I guess. "She's a great horse. I hope she finishes it off." by Ken Weingartner for Harness Racing Communications
Drop The Ball and driver Corey Callahan showed true grit in being parked out the entire mile and still coming on at the finish to win the $217,000 Lady Liberty Pace for older mares in 1:49. Two-time Older Mare of the Year, Anndrovette, started off the fourth race for driver Tim Tetrick, going right to the lead with Krispy Apple (Brian Sears) on their back to the opening quarter mile in :26.1. Meanwhile Callahan and Drop the Ball were in fourth on the outside and slowly grinding their way towards the leaders. At the half in :53.3, Anndrovette was still firmly in command but Drop The Ball had all but collared her and would not give up. The same took place at the three-quarters in 1:21, but Drop The Ball was still there on the outside and actually had the lead by a nose. And as they came down the stretch, racing neck and neck, head and head to the wire, Callahan was able to urge Drop The Ball on at the finish to win by three-quarters of a length as Anndrovette tired at the very end. Rocklamation (Yannick Gingras) was third. Trained by Ross Croghan and owned by the Let It Ride Stable, Dana Parham and the Robert Cooper Stables of Florida, it was the third win this year for Drop The Ball, a daughter of Western Terror, who paid $10.80 to win. “It really was some effort. She deserved the win today,” said Callahan, “Anndrovette is such a tough competitor and she’s kind of been getting the upper hand on Drop the Ball so it’s nice for her to go ahead and get a win today and get her picture taken.” Steve Wolf
Tim Tetrick will try to do what no driver has done in 25 years – win the Hambletonian in consecutive years. John Campbell, who has won a record six Hambletonians, was the last driver to accomplish the feat. He won in 1987 with Mack Lobell and in 1988 with Armbro Goal. Billy Haughton, who won with Steve Lobell in 1976 and Green Speed in 1977, is the only other driver to pull off wins in back-to-back Hambletonians in the last 70 years. Two other drivers won in consecutive years, Henry Thomas in 1937-38 and Ben White in 1942-43. Ron Pierce is trying to become the sixth driver with at least four Hambletonian wins. Pierce, who drives Spider Blue Chip in the Hambo, would join Campbell, White, Haughton, Stanley Dancer and Mike Lachance on the list. He also would give trainer Chuck Sylvester his fifth trophy, which would tie the record for most wins among trainers. The last trainer to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years was Per Eriksson in 1991 with Giant Victory and 1992 with Alf Palema. Linda Toscano, who won last year’s Hambo with Market Share, is without a starter in this year’s event. She will send Market Share into the John Cashman Jr. Memorial (see note below). This year’s Hambletonian features five trainers who have hoisted the trophy previously. They are Sylvester, Jimmy Takter, Noel Daley, Greg Peck and Ray Schnittker. The Hambletonian returns to the format it used from 1991 through 1996 with the eliminations and final on the same day and a horse only needing to win the final to be declared the champion. Elim winners, though, came back to win the final in five of those six years. The only exception was Alf Palema in 1992; he was second in his elimination. Market Share, last year’s Hambletonian winner, is back on Hambo Day in the $318,350 John Cashman Jr. Memorial (formerly Nat Ray Invitational) for older trotters. The 4-year-old is undefeated in three races this season and is coming off a victory in the Maple Leaf Trot. Market Share, who is the 6-5 morning line favorite, will try to become the first Hambletonian champ to win this event since Mack Lobell in 1988. Of course, as DRF Harness’ Derick Giwner pointed out earlier this week, only one other Hambo winner has competed in the race since then: gelding Vivid Photo. This year’s Cashman has six former Hambletonian finalists in the field, with Guccio, Uncle Peter, Hot Shot Blue Chip, Luckycharm Hanover and Wishing Stone joining Market Share. Only two horses in 32 years have won the Maple Leaf Trot and Nat Ray in the same year: San Pail (2011) and Rotation (2003). Five horses share the all-time record of 1:50.1 for trotting on a mile track. Two of those horses accomplished the feat in the Nat Ray: Chapter Seven in 2012 and Lucky Jim in 2009. While on the subject of fast times, Warrawee Needy, who earlier this year equaled the time for the fastest race mile in history (1:46.4) is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $213,650 U.S. Pacing Championship for older male pacers. Sweet Lou, who in 2011 became the fastest 2-year-old pacer in history, and Bolt The Duer, the fastest horse ever on a five-eighths-mile track, are 3-1 and 4-1, respectively. Father Patrick and Nuncio, who have traded head victories the last two times out, are the top choices in the $280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial. Father Patrick, from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, is 6-5 on the morning line and Nuncio is 8-5. Jim Oscarsson, who trained last year’s Peter Haughton winner Aperfectyankee, trains Nuncio. Aperfectyankee will appear later on the card in the Hambletonian, along with Takter’s Corky, Dontyouforgetit and High Bridge. Corky was second in last year’s Peter Haughton. Takter sends four 2-year-old filly trotters into the $321,700 Merrie Annabelle final. Lifetime Pursuit, who is 3-for-3 this season for the Takter Stable, is the 8-5 morning line favorite. Another Takter trainee, Shake It Cerry, is 2-for-2 and a half-sister to Hambletonian starter Dontyouforgetit. She is the 5-2 second choice. Anndrovette, the two-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer, is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $217,100 Lady Liberty. Anndrovette, coming off a half-length victory over Drop The Ball in the Roses Are Red Stakes, set the pace in last year’s Lady Liberty before finishing third as Put On A Show set the record for fastest time ever for a female pacer (1:47.3). Drop The Ball is second choice at 5-2. The $55,000 Ima Lula Series final for older female trotters features five of last year’s Hambletonian Oaks competitors: winner Personal Style, runner-up Win Missy B, Real Babe, Maven and Check Me Out. Maven, who has won five of six races this season, is the 9-5 morning line favorite from post nine. Two-time divisional champ Check Me Out, who was the favorite in last year’s Oaks but went off stride on the final turn and was subsequently disqualified from third to eighth, is 5-2. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications
The North American breed has had a huge influence on harness racing in New Zealand in recent decades - but going by last Saturday's big Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands the Kiwis are also playing a major role in the sport in the United States.