Trainer Frank Antonacci liked what he saw when he purchased Sonic for $155,000 at last fall's yearling sale in Lexington. So much so that he was willing to spend another $155,000 on family member Whataworkout a month later in Harrisburg. On Friday, Antonacci sends the two sons of stallion Muscle Hill into separate Bluegrass Stakes divisions for 2-year-old male trotters at The Red Mile. Both will be making their second lifetime starts. Sonic's mother is Spice On Ice. Among Spice On Ice's other offspring is Southwind Sofia, who is the mother of Whataworkout. "We kind of went all-in on that family," Antonacci said. "We liked it once, so we might as well like it twice." It was actually the third time Antonacci liked the family and its connection with Muscle Hill. On the same day he purchased Sonic, he missed on a Muscle Hill-sired filly named Mission Brief. Her mother is Southwind Serena, who also is out of Spice On Ice. Mission Brief, who sold for $150,000, won this year's Merrie Annabelle Stakes in a world-record performance 1:52.2 performance, then lowered the mark to 1:52.1 in her elimination of the Peaceful Way Stakes. "I loved Mission Brief when I saw her in Kentucky, which is really the same family," Antonacci said. "I didn't get the job done buying her, although we focus more on the colts at the sale anyway." And Antonacci is happy with what he's seen from those colts so far. Whataworkout won his debut in 1:56.4 on Sept. 18 in a division of the Kindergarten Series at The Red Mile. Sonic went off stride from post eight in his Kindergarten split, but Antonacci was unfazed. "Sonic I think got a little lost from the eight hole," Antonacci said. "I'm going to give him a pass on his first performance. Hopefully this week (starting) from the rail he'll be a little more focused. "Whataworkout was kind of in a messed up race (with horses making breaks) but he showed his professionalism and stayed at it and got the job done. "They've both got big speed and big ability. I think they've got a bright future." Whataworkout, owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut, is in the first of five Bluegrass divisions for the rookie trotters, where Peter Haughton Memorial winner Centurion ATM is the 8-5 morning line favorite. Sonic, owned by Lindy Racing, is in the fifth division, where The Bank is the 5-2 morning line choice. Antonacci also sends out homebred stakes-winner Iron in the fourth division and Mesmerized in the second division. The twice-raced Iron, a son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Ivory Lindy, is coming off a victory in the American-National Stakes at Balmoral Park. He is in the same Bluegrass split as Haughton runner-up Uncle Lasse, New Jersey Sire Stakes champ Guess Whos Back, and New York Sire Stakes champ Crazy Wow. Iron lost a month of time during the summer because of complications from what was believed to be a spider bite. "That kind of stalled him out just as we were about to get ready to qualify in July," Antonacci said. "It was pretty wild. He's recovered from that and he's starting to put it all together now. "We've liked him from the beginning and we're very happy with him. He's getting better every time we've brought him to the track and hopefully he keeps going that way." Mesmerized is winless in three starts, but the colt's mother, Gift Card, won a Bluegrass division in 2008 and is a full sister to Antonacci's million-dollar-earner Crazed. The homebred Mesmerized faces undefeated Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ Billy Flynn in his Bluegrass division on Friday. "We've got primarily the same people who owned Crazed with us on him, so that's nice," Antonacci said. "He's just been Steady Eddie. He's had some races where racing luck didn't go his way, but he continues to improve. He's a good gaited, good looking horse. We're just looking for him to keep improving." The remaining Bluegrass Stakes division is headlined by Habitat, who won the William Wellwood Memorial on Sept. 13 at Mohawk Racetrack. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Overcast skies this morning to go with the coffee and chocolate babka for Breakfast With The Babies at The Meadowlands. John Campbell took a pair of trots, most notably with the regally bred Muscle Diamond. The son of Muscle Hill from the very accomplished Windylane Hanover added trotting hopples this morning for trainer Brett Bittle and the result was a 1:58.4 win with a 27.2 final quarter. He was a $40,000 buy from the Lexington sale by the Kellers and Bittles who enjoyed such success with his dam. John won right back with the Lucky Chucky lass A List Lindy for Chuck Sylvester. She took over past the quarter and finished the 2:01 mile with a 29 flat final quarter. She's owned by Chuck and long-time partner Neal Goldman along with Pinstripe Stable and her breeder, Lindy Farms who sold her at Harrisburg for $60,000 last fall. Shaqline made her first start for Takter in this one and caught some eyes with her finishing kick. The $450,000 first crop topper for Lucky Chucky, Mr Lucky Luke made his debut today and was second in 2:02 with Campbell driving for the Cancelliere brothers. The winner there was Keystone Bodacious, an $85,000 Muscle Massive colt from Balanced Action. He was driven by Corey Callahan for the Jonas Czernyson barn and owners Arden Homestead, Mal & Janet Burroughs, LST Stables and W. Devan, Jr. Campbell and the Cancelliere boys paired up later with Rock N Roll Heaven colt Raylan Givens for a 1:54.2 score. Raylan set most of the pace and held off the late charge of Shades Of Bay for the win. He's $135,000 Harrisburg buy from Lisheen, thus a half-brother to the champion older pacer of a few years back Lis Mara. A Plus opened the pacing action and the American Ideal filly from Has An Attitude was impressive taking over from Better Said passing the half and sprinting home in 27 flat to close the 1:57.4 mile. Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna picked up where last night left off (they paired for a triple on the card) here with the flashy, blaze faced filly owned by Alagna in partnership with In The Gym Partners, Tangie Massey and Joe Sbrocco. She's A Hot Mess was making her fourth morning appearance and the speedy daughter of American Ideal x Sure Fun Tryin' flaunted her speed today for Alagna and Zeron with an effortless 1:54 win. With the field scratched down to three, She's A Hot Mess was left to set the pace and does wander a bit without a target but she sure covers the ground. She's a homebred owned by the trainer along with the Bell's Riverview Racing and John Fodera. Asap Hanover also turned heads this morning with his stretch sprint to win in 1:54.1 for Tim Tetrick. Making his second morning start following up an impressive 1:56.4/26.2 six length win last week, Asap ranks high on the list of colt prospects seen this summer. He's a $150,000 product of the Lexington yearling sale, sired by Somebeachsomewhere from Allamerican Coed. The colt is owned by John Mehlenbacher and trained by Linda Toscano. Live racing resumes tonight at 7:15 as we continue with Corntastic weekend. The race feature is a pair of eleven horse divisions of the $65,000 Reynolds Memorial stake featuring Hambletonian contenders Nuncio and Trixton making their final preparations for that classic two weeks hence. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands
Meadowlands Pace day provided another perfect morning for Breakfast With The Babies with comfortable temperatures and little to no wind. The two-year-old trotting star of the morning was 1:57.2 winner Lock Down Lindy, a filly from the first crop of Lucky Chucky from Love Lockdown. She led through a comfortable 1:01.2 half before Scott Zeron gave her the green light resulting in a 56 flat final half with a 27.2 closing quarter. Tony Alagna conditions the $40,000 Lexington buy for the partnership of Mystical Marker Farms, Crawford Farms, Joe Sbrocco and In The Gym Partners. Alagna and Zeron came right back to win the very next race with Michelle Crawford's homebred Conway Hall x Classic Yankee colt Titanium. He left for position from his outside post then cruised through an open rail into a 28.3 final quarter to take the 2:01 record. On the pacing side, Tony also sent out the sharp looking Somebeachsomewhere colt Dreams Beachboy for his second outing, this one an effortless 1:54.4 / 27 win with Zeron aboard. Dreams Beachboy was a $150,000 Harrisburg purchase by Myron Bell for Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and Stillwater Partners. Ake Svanstedt continued to expose his freshmen, sending out three more colt winners this morning starting in the opener with Curfew, a Muscle Hill x After Midnight $75,000 Lexington yearling making his debut. He moved to the front past the quarter and ended the 1:59.2 mile with a 29.2 final quarter. He is owned by the Top Ten Racing Stable. Canappealformore was the next Svanstedt winner. This one is a Brittany bred by Cantab Hall from Appeal To Reason, haltered at Harrisburg for $60,000 by LGJ Invest. Ake held him in a loose pocket then wore down the leader with a 29.4 end to a 2:00.2 mile. A bit later, One Direction was a 1:59.2 front end winner for Svanstedt and owner / breeder Ernst Gerbaulet of Germany. He's a Deweycheatumnhowe from Angelina Chip. Tangerine Bi looked strong for Jimmy Takter, closing considerable ground into a 27.3 last quarter for a 2:00.1 win. She's a Yankee Glide that cost Takter, Katz, Fielding & Fielding $70,000 last fall in Lexington. John Campbell directed a pair of winners. On the trot it was the Donato Hanover filly Love Her Madly he steered though a quick 27.4 end to a successful 2:00.1 mile for Ross Croghan. She belongs to Let It Ride Stables, RBH Ventures and Joseph Myers who spent $65,000 on her at Harrisburg. Campbell later scored with the pacing filly Game Theory, a $75,000 Rock N Roll Heaven first cropper from Best Laid Plans for the Cancelliere brothers with a sharp 27.2 end to a 1:55.3 mile while holding off the good looking Sportswriter filly Capela. Owner / trainer Troyce Thomas drove his own Village Jolt filly Fie Fy Fo to a 1:56 flat win. She cost just $9,000 at Harrrisburg. The pacing colts sprinted some fast halves in their trials. Asap Hanover was a winner in his very first try for Toscano and Tetrick with a 56.1 back half, 26.2 quarter on the end of a 1:56.4 mile. He's a $150,000 Lexington Somebeachsomewhere colt owned by John Mehlenbacher of Ontario. Two fast and expensive Somebeach colts hooked up through a vicious 54.4 last half of a 1:57.1 mile with the $100,000 buy Southwind Torque holding off the $215,000 bonus baby Mohegan Blue Chip. Dave Miller handled the winner for Chris Ryder and owners Bob Mondillo and Craig Handerson. Qualifiers closed out the day with the speedy but erratic Master Of Law making his debut for the Takter barn. He wowed the crowd of veteran onlookers with a wicked close from well back into a :55.3 on the board final half of a 1:52.3 mile to get by Spider Blue Chip in the last few strides. Master Of Law was well back at the 57 half, he must've trotted his last half in the :53 range for Takter. Frank Antonacci of Lindy Farms declared post-race that, "Nobody has a faster horse than Master Of Law. He needed a change of scenery, a fresh approach so we took him to Jimmy. Look out Sebastian K, we're comin' for ya!" Tonight's races begin at 6:30 and will be one of the best offerings of the season. Watch the WR Haughton FFA final and Meadowlands Pace on CBS Sports Network from 9:00 to 10:00pm. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands
Two-year-olds at Sunshine Meadows are ready for their next step in their advancing careers. Below is our second spring training prospects review. We will seek to pick a top 10 (for evaluation in December) within a week. Here we go for Dreams #2 with a few from the Sylvester, Kelley, Grant and Czernyson barns: #36 Air Lindy (2ft Lucky Chucky-M-Benedicta Jet-Donerail) - Charles Sylvester. Half- sister to Citation Lindy (3, 1:54.4f, $326,584) and Westside Lindy (5, 1:54.2f, $165,416). Light on her feet! #22 A List Lindy (2ft Lucky Chucky-Lindy's Leading Lady-Credit Winner) - Charles Sylvester. Second foal of unraced dam; first foal Mr. Lindy (2, q1:59.4 in 2013) #142 Ruby Knight (2ct Lucky Chucky-Ruby Crown-Incredible Nevele) - Charles Sylvester. This one a half-brother to Hambletonian winner and important European sire Scarlet Knight 3,1:53.4 ($1,951,740) and Mohammed Mali 5, 1:53.4 ($316,981). The dam is a daughter of Crown Thy Good by Speedy Crown. #107 Image Of Luck (2ct Lucky Chucky-Imageofasweetgirl-Striking Sahbra) - Charles Sylvester. Fourth foal of the dam, she with record of 3.1:58.2h ($123,280) and producer of two winners at age two. #142 Ruby Knight (inside), #107 Image Of Luck (middle), #22 A List Lindy (outside) #175 Wheels A Smokin (2ft Muscles Yankee-Quick Credit-Credit Winner) - Charles Sylvester. Half-brother to Wheeling N Dealin (2, 1:55s, $811,226), Sugar Wheeler (3,1:55.3s, $356,163) and Wheels (5,1:54.3, $133,274). #44 Captain Crown (2ct Lucky Chucky-Sharon Crown-Speedy Crown) - Charles Sylvester. Eighth foal of George Miller's broodmare Sharon Crown 5q,1:56.4 ($224,571) she the dam of Caviar Crown 3,1:53.1f ($268,035), Lady Crown 4,1:55.3s ($146,701), and Crown Rules 5,1:57.3f ($135,575) plus two other sub 1:59 performers from six live foals of racing age. #43 Amare Deo (2ft Lucky Chucky-Cherished Victory-Valley Victory) - Charles Sylvester. Half-sister to Stand Guard (5, 1:53.1f, $590,499). Carmenooch (2ft Credit Winner-Clarice Marie-Balanced Image) - Paul Kelley. Sixth foal of dam she with record of 3,1:57.3s ($201,230) and dam of with in 1:55 of better including Corky 3,1:52.4f ($895,865), Go Go Red Marty 4,1:53.3S ($256,378) and Duded Up 3,1:55s ($78,069), Good looker! Bistrobistro Taj (2ft Pilgrims Taj-Freda Hall-Angus Hall) -Fred Grant. Second foal of Freda Hall, an unraced daughter of Lexus Bel by Balanced Image Afterimage (2ft Andover Hall-Angelique Hanover-Pine Chip) - Fred Grant. Ninth foal of the dam, she a daughter of Almost An Angel by Crowning Point. Angelique has produced four winners, three with records of 1:59 or better including Spiro de Vie 3,1:54.2f ($67,180) and Markz Moose 3,1:55.1f ($48,695) #6 About To Bee (2ft Explosive Matter-Beehive-Balanced Image) - Lindy Farms. Half-sister to Hambletonian Oaks and multiple Ontario Sires Stakes winner Bee A Magician (3, 1:51, $2,313,956).Third foal of the dam. Nice filly! #7 Back To Back Lindy (2ft Cantab Hall-Back To Lindy-Dream Vacation) - Lindy Farms. Third foal of the dam. #36 Malala (2ft Yankee Glide-No Pictures Please-SJ's Photo) - Jonas Czernyson. First foal of dam, she with record of 2,q2:04.3f ($6,991). Second dam Miss Garland 5,2:00f ($91,356) is the dam of Vivid Photo 4,1:50.2z ($3,273,387), Goodlookngirl 4,q1:59.4 ($154,088), Celebrity Shark 6,1:56.4f ($139,528) and three other sub-1:58 record performers from 11 foals, 10 of racing age. by Thomas H. Hicks from Sunshine Meadows
Two-year-olds at Sunshine Meadows are ready for their next step in their advancing careers. This time of year we focus on those that caught our attention throughout spring training and will seek to pick a top 10 (for evaluation in December) after another review trip. Here we go for recap #1: #24 A Schocker (2ct Andover Hall-Stretch The Limit-Tom Ridge) - Charles Sylvester. Second foal of dam and first by Andover Hall. #127 Morcredit Blue Chip (2ct Credit Winner-Queen Of The Moor-Malabar Man) - Charles Sylvester. Full brother to Maud Blue Chip (2, 1:58s, $222,203 in 2013), a returning three year-old performer for 2014 stakes that qualified last weekend. #77 Feel Lucky (2ct Lucky Chucky-Classic N Lindy-Dream Vacation) - Charles Sylvester. Fourth foal of the dam, she a daughter of Classic Casette by Florida Pro. Dam is 100% producer from the first three foals (all geldings) including Super Classic 3,2:00.1h ($91,303), Lindy's Best Yet 4,1:56.1f ($85,904) and Lindor 4,1:56.3f ($21,882) He looks like a prospect! #145 Talbot Hercules (2ct Muscles Yankee-Northern Flare-Andover Hall) - Charles Sylvester. First foal of the mare she with record 4,1:58.1f ($69,161) and daughter of Flame Tamer by Super Pleasure. #3 Madrid (2ct Credit Winner-Starcelona-Muscles Yankee) -Paul Kelley. First foal of Starcelona (2, 1:55.1, $44,750). Solid trainee from Paul Kelley's well-bred trotting collection. #23 Aldebaran Eagle (2ct Muscle Hill-Letsjusttalkaboutme) - Jonas Czernyson. Third foal of dam with 4, 1:56.1s mark and $56,338 earned. Her 2011 foal, Walk The Walk, by Muscle Hill just earned a qualifying record of 3, q1:57.2. #33 Keystone Bodacious (2ct Muscle Massive-Balanced Action-Balanced Image) - Jonas Czernyson. Half-brother to three $100,000 plus winners including Logan's Hero (6,1:54.2s, $379,425), Manningly (4,1:52.3f, $344,631) and Keystone Bernard (3,1:55.3f, $213,441). Grand looking individual. #48 Total Darkness (2ct Muscles Yankee-Leila-Andover Hall) - Jonas Czernyson. Third foal of unraced daughter of CR Royal Jeannie. #45 Stirling Diva (2ft Muscle Massive-Shan Riches) - Jonas Czernyson. Half-sister to Ellen's Isle (4, 1:53,2f, $264,080) and Loch Katrine (5, 1:56.1f, $214,953). #50 Walk Over Water (2ft Yankee Glide-Armbro Niagara) - Jonas Czernyson. Full-sister to Falls For You (4, 1:52.2, $1,311,152). 8 Total Darkness, 45 Stirling Diva, 50 Walk Over Water Itsabouttimebaby (2ct Muscle Hill-KD Girl-Self Possessed) - Ron Gurfein Stable. First foal of stakes winning dam with record 4,q1:55.3f ($297,989), she from True Love by Pine Chip. This one has trained well all spring - impressive. Very Much So (2ft Donato Hanover-Bedswerver-SJ's Photo) - Fred Grant. Half-sister to Marat (3, 1:56.2f, $59,621) #5 Iron (2ct Cantab Hall-Ivory Lindy-Buvetier d'Aunou) - Lindy Farms. Full-brother to Lindy's Jersey Boy (4, 1:52.4f, $268,247) from a franco-american dam. #4 Mesmerized (2ct Cantab Hall-Gift Card-Credit Winner) - Lindy Farms. Second foal of multiple NYSS and final winner Gift Card (2, 1:55.2, $253,733), she a sister to World Champion and million-dollar plus winner Crazed. Interested owners and visitors have been attentive to the action, and their investments, throughout spring. The Sunshine Meadows three year-olds and up continue to progress as well, including Sylvester's Spider Blue Chip and Toss Cartwright. Many of the two year-olds are now at 2:20 or below - we expect the favorites might change again as they move north to approach qualifying tests. Dreams sometimes come true. Spider Blue Chip (outside), Toss Cartwright (inside) for the Sylvester Stable. Toss Cartwight 2,1:57f ($46,749) by Muscles Yankee-Toss Up-Supergill, Toss Up the dam of six winners in 1:57 or better including Tawesome 3,1:53.3 ($103,120) by Thomas H. Hicks
The racing season is fast approaching and stables based at Sunshine Meadows have and are readying excellent older (three year-olds and up) players for stakes and northern track overnights. Several that have caught our attention are profiled below. Spider Blue Chip (4gt, Andover Hall-Southwind Catlin-Muscles Yankee) - Charles Sylvester 3, 1:51.3, $1,178,099, 12 time winner in 28 starts. Owned by David Mc Duffee and Melvin Hartmanand bred by McLain L. Ward, Brewster, NY. Hambletonian elimination winner in 2013 along with Breeders Crown and world record win in the Colonial. Acapulco Hall (3ft Deweycheatmnhowe-Ali's Cat-Meadow Road) - Fred Grant Unraced in 2013. Classy filly owned and by Walnut Hall Limited, Lexington, KY. Dam has produced Amigo Hall (3, 1:54, $928,183), Ally Hall (2, 1:57.1s, $384,595) and Great Challenger (3,q1:55.3, $182,471) and four other sub-2:00 record performers. Sorrento Hall (3gt, Groton Hall-SB's Fuscia Image-Balanced Image) - Fred Grant 2, 1:58, $134,090. Bred and owned by Walnut Hall Limited, Lexington, KY. Kentucky Sires Stakes Final winner in 2013. Starfall Winner (3ft Credit Winner-Myth-Lindy Lane) - Robert Bencal Stable. Sixth foal of Myth, dam of Mythical Lindy (3, 1:53.2, $629,104), Mythical Hall (5, 1:55f, $345,283) and Valbruna (3, 1:56.1s, $116,142). Sunshine Meadows trainees are rapidly gearing up for the 2013 racing campaign. On Saturday, Jonas Czernyson's band of female trotters qualified at the new Meadowlands in fine fashion- Maven, 1.56.1; D'orsay, 1:56.3; Ma Chere Hall, 1:56.4; Coffeecake Hanover, 1:57.3 and Mistery Woman, 1:57.4. At Pompano Park, Bob Bencal's Sina (4mt Cantab Hall-Third Reef-Conway Hall) was a qualifying winner in 1:57.3f for reinsman Michael Marx, Jr. Fred Grant piloted his trainee Somenicebeach (3mp Somebeachsomewhere-Up Front Gal-Dragon Again) to a 1:56.1f win and followed that with a 1:56.2f victory behind Shamballa (4hp Somebachsomewhere-Bolero Takara-Life Sign). Two other Sunshine trainees won "for money" events at Pompano. Dewayne Minor scored with Mitey Savage in 2:00.2f and Francisco de Cid reined Broadway's Fortune to a 1:58.1f victory. Others yet to start for money, but worth watching, include Master of Law and Lindy's Tru Grit from the Lindy Farms barn trained by Domenico Cecere, Ken Oscarsson's Scacco Matto (a Kentucky eligible three year-old colt), and Jarold Hawks' Jack Litten (a Muscle Mass colt that qualified at Pompano). by Thomas H. Hicks
Southwind Farms, Manager of the Muscle Hill Syndicate, has announced that the book for the 2014 season is now full and closed. The World Champion will stand the 2014 season at Marion Farms, New Hope, Pennsylvania, after serving four years at Southwind in New Jersey. His first crop raced successfully in 2013, with 50 starters, 32 winners, a leading 26 in 2:00 (tied with Donato Hanover) and a leading 6 in 1:55, led by World Champion and Valley Victory winner MUSCLE NETWORK 2,1:53.2 ($314,314), Kindergarten Final winner SOUTHWIND SPIRIT 2,1:54.1 ($370,295), EL TITAN 2,1:53.4 ($93,139), TRIXTON 2,1:54.4 ($53,687), ODDS ON AMETHYST 2,1:54.2 ($88,998), WELL BUILT 2,1:55.2 ($103,697), CHIVAREE HANOVER 2,1:56.3 ($99,193), etc. Mike Klau, Syndicate Manager, stated that we are very pleased with the results of his first crop and with the support that the industry breeders have shown our stallion. The move to Pennsylvania was a difficult one, but has been well received by our shareholders and the industry in general. We thank everyone for their support. We have also welcomed several new shareholders this year including Blue Chip Bloodstock, Lindy Farms, William Donovan, Concord Stud. Submitted by Muscle Hill Syndicate
VERNON, NY—The 2-year-old filly pacers Spreester (American Ideal) and Barefoot Beauty (Art Major) each delivered career-best 1:54.3 clockings in Friday night’s $76,100 New York State Fair competition at Vernon Downs, while in a non-Excelsior series event, the 2-year-old colt pacer Jet Airway (Jereme’s Jet) became the fastest freshman performer of the 53-program meeting with a 1:53.1 performance in race seven. The victories by Spreester and Barefoot Beauty came in divisions of Friday’s $37,900 Excelsior series for NY-breds, and tied another frosh filly high-stepper, Misty Major, for fastest mile honors by a representative of their age, sex and gait through Aug. 23. Spreester’s score, her fifth in seven career outings, came in Friday’s fourth event with Frank Coppola, Jr. doing the driving for trainer Paul Zabielski and owner Kimberley Zabielski, while Barefoot Beauty’s second season’s triumph came two races later, with Ron Waples doing the steering for trainer Gregg McNair and owner James Avritt, Sr. Friday’s other 2-year-old filly pacing winner was Sweet Brown (Bettor’s Delight), who earned a 1:55.1 “maiden” victory with Jim Morrill, Jr. doing the teaming for trainer Amber Buter and owner Tyler L. Buter in race five. Jet Air Way produced his second win in five starts with Charlie Norris at the controls for trainer Erv Miller, the Ervin Miller Stable, Tangle Massey, Paul Sunderhaus and Larry Agle. The swiftest first-place finisher in Friday’s $38,200 Excelsior series action for 2-year-old trotting fillies was Thoughtfilly (Conway Hall), with Morrill, Jr. driving in the first race. It was the second score in five starts for quick-stepping bay, who is trained by Brandon Simpson and owned by the Mystical Marker Farms, Peggy Hood, Dirk Simpson Stable and the Simpson Racing Stable. Friday’s other trotting division winners were Absinthe (Crazed) in 1:59.4 in race nine, and Lindy’s Crazy Dolly (Crazed) in 2:00 in event 10, each a first-time starter trained by Frank Antonacci for the Lindy Farms of CT and the Lindy Racing Stable, respectively. Chris Lems, who teamed both Absinthe and Lindy’s Crazy Dolly, earned his 15th driving double of the Vernon campaign, while Antonacci earned a pair of conditioning credits, and Morrill, Jr. two driving wins. DOWNS DOINGS In addition to Sweet Brown, Absinthe and Lindy’s Crazy Dolly, other equine athletes earning their initial pari-mutuel victories during Friday’s 12-race program were the freshman trotter Justin On Broadway (Broadway Hall) in 1:59.4, and the 3-year-old pacer Battle Gun (Dragon Again) in 1:55.1… The Downs will continue with State Fair racing for New York-bred freshmen tomorrow (Aug. 24), with male trotters and pacers displaying their talents in seven Excelsior series divisions during a 13-race program, that will begin at 6:45 p.m… A special program on Sunday, Aug. 25 will feature the first round of this season’s 7th-Annual All-Star Drivers’ Championship, as well as the $700,000 (est.) Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old trotters. There will also be a Corey Callahan bobblehead doll giveaway, free drivers’ championship T-shirts (both items dispensed while supplies last), as well as an iPad and Laptop computer giveaway… A revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com. Jim Moran
Sunday's Gr. I Gallop Prix Mornay (1200 meters, 350,000 euro purse) was captured by No Nay Never (2m Scat Daddy-Cat’s Eye Witness-Elusive Quality) under David Flores for trainer Wesley Ward. The colt, with principally US owners that include Frank Antonacci (Lindy Farms) and trainer Ray Schnittker, was bred by Johnson and Sparrow and scored for the third time in 2013. He was off at 2/1 odds in the feature event at Deauville, before a large crowd, that is also hosting a three-day thoroughbred sale with today being the second day. Saturday's first day of the Arqana sale reported 66 of 87 horses offered as sold for total receipts of €14,091,000 ($8,778,736). The gross, which includes one private sale, marked a 50% increase compared with the first day of last year's sale. The average price increased by almost 40% to €214,323 ($285,623). The median price was €128,000 ($170,583), and the clearance rate was 74.7%. Six horses sold for €500,000 ($666,338) or more, 11 were sold €400,000 ($533,318) or more, and 22 for more than €200,000 ($266,659), compared with 15 at that price in 2012. by Thomas H. Hicks
As Royalty For Life chases Hambletonian glory, he carries with him the hopes of the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from South Dartmouth to Belchertown, from the Cape to the Berkshires. More important, he is also validating the vision of the state legislature. A dozen years ago, at the dawn of a new century, the Massachusetts Sire Stake program was moribund. Twice in a span of eleven years the track at Foxboro, which was the only racing venue in the state, had closed its doors. In both cases it was several years before racing resumed in the commonwealth. In 1999, Plainridge Racecourse rose from the ashes of that rubble, offering the local horsemen a racing venue for a hundred days a year.Stables that are structured around overnight horses can live three or four days at a time – no matter how inconvenient it might be there is always a draw taking place somewhere. But breeders, the backbone of the harness racing industry,the element which literally, as well as figuratively, pumps new blood into iton an annual basis and perpetuates its growth must take a longer view. Those investors can't live condition sheet to condition sheet. In 2001, with three seasons in the book at the new track,the Massachusetts legislature crafted an omnibus racing bill. Recognizing the commitment of Plainridge and its horsemen, the lawmakers sought to strengthen the state’s Standardbred breeding program, an initial step on the path towards stability for the harness racing industry. Focusing on mares rather than stallions, the new regulation allowed harness breeders access to any stallion, any where - with the caveat that the mare had to foal in Massachusetts,thus offering that traditional support for the state’s agricultural industry.This change allowed owners of mares to breed to the highest quality stallions,if they chose to, and at least in theory to increase the quality of the local breeding program's product. In essence, what had been a sire stake program became a futurity, and the focus on mares allowed more people to participate, returning harness racing to its more democratic roots. Within two years, a product of the restructured program,RC Royalty, made appearances in the Breeders Crown, as both a two and a three year old. Bred by Chip Campbell of Belchertown, the son of Credit Winner raced in the Massachusetts program, but is much better known for his appearances in events such as the Hambletonian. Now, his son Royalty For Life, repeats his father's story.While he was sired in New York, he is a product of the Massachusetts breeding program, bred by Al Ross of South Dartmouth, along with Chip Campbell and Paul Fontaine, and is considered among the pre-race favorites in the Hambletonian. It only seems appropriate that a horse bred in a state known for its “City of Champions,”competes in the “Super Bowl of trotting.” Might there be more Royalty For Life’s in the years tocome? Perhaps. With expanded gaming on the horizon in Massachusetts, the breeding program in the state has caught they eye of at least a couple of other successful owners whoare no strangers to the sport’s limelight. During the past couple of breeding seasons the powerful Lindy Farms, owner of such notable horses as Hambletonian competitor Crazed, has sent mares to the Bay State. There have even been inklings that the farm, located in nearby Enfield,Connecticut, might eventually build a wing in a Massachusetts locale. Bill Varney, who has demonstrated success in sire stake programs in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maine and Canada has also sent mares to Massachusetts during the past two seasons,with an eye toward the future. “It looked like an opportunity close to home,”said Varney, who hails from Bangor, Maine, noting that the monies he pays to farms, veterinarians and blacksmiths all contribute to the Bay State’s economy. A little over a decade ago a proactive legislature tookthat first step, and the local sire stake program has grown. Still, the Massachusetts harness racing industry remains at a crossroads. While that expanded gaming seen on the horizon potentially gets a bit closer everyday, how much of that revenue willfind its way to the industry is an open question. The answer to that questionwill decide if Royalty For Life – a Massachusetts eligible racing in the sport’s premier event - is merely an exception, or if in the future, locally bred horses of that caliber in events such as the Hambletonian might become the rule. by Robert Lieberman
Despite winter standardbred training winding down in South Florida, there remain interesting human and equine stories that illustrate what's good about the harness racing industry, people and horses, dreams of future stakes wins and career development. A case in point is Lindy Racing Stable, capably trained by Frank Antonacci, Domenico Cecere and John Duer.
Lindy Farms, in conjunction with the Harness Racing Horse Youth Foundation, sponsored a Family Day for members of the Bourbon Slush Stable on Sunday, June 19.
When Lindy Farms' Frank M. Antonacci approached Walsh Harness and Saddlery about providing equipment for the newly created Bourbon Slush Stable, Walsh's president Paul Treiber didn't need much time to deliberate.
Tragedy struck the Antonacci family and Lindy Farms this morning at the main farm in Connecticut. According to postings on the Lindy Farms Facebook page, a large portion of the harness racing breeding barn at the farm in Somers collapsed under the weight of overnight snow.