Day At The Track
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Plunge Blue Chip, driven by Ake Svanstedt, nipped 1-2 favorite Manchego in a world-record performance to win the second of two $128,500 divisions of the Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old harness racing trotting fillies at the Meadowlands Saturday night, and in the process, became the fastest 3-year-old trotter in history, regardless of sex. The 2-1 second choice, who hadn't raced in three weeks and was only making her second start in a month and a half, went after leader Manchego at the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.1 and after a stirring stretch duel, gunned down Manchego and driver Yannick Gingras by a nose in 1:49.4, equaling the fastest trotting mile in Meadowlands history. On July 11 of 2015, JL Cruze became the first sub-1:50 performer in Big M history, when he went 1:49.4 in the Graduate final. "It's unbelievable, but this is a very good horse. (1):49.4 was a surprise, but she is a good horse. She has not raced on the big tracks so much, that is why she has not raced so fast. In two weeks, she has the Hambletonian (Oaks)," said Svanstedt. Plunge Blue Chip, a daughter of Muscle Mass, paid $6.20 to her backers. Live Laugh Love finished third. In the first division, Phaetosive, driven and trained by Trond Smedshammer, grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and never looked back, trotting clear at the wire by 2¾ lengths. The daughter of Explosive Matter, who last week scored in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Harrah's Philadelphia, took the lead at the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.4 and romped home in 1:51.3. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Phaetosive paid $3.60, 2.80 and $2.20. "She was very good last year as a 2-year-old and has gotten a bit bigger and stronger this year," said Smedshammer, who won the Del Miller for the first time. "She will be off next week, then it's the Hambletonian Oaks elimination and, hopefully, the Oaks final." Longshot Perfect Summer K, who went off at odds of 137-1, finished second ($59.40, $18.20) and Hey Blondie rounded out the top three, paying $3.60 to show. by Lou Monaco, for Hambletonian Society    

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Ariana G, the 1-5 favorite driven by Yannick Gingras, led wire-to-wire before drawing clear late to a 2¾-length victory in the 27th edition of the $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity for harness racing 4-year-old trotters Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Ariana G completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 2:05 and cruised to her third win in five starts this season, posting her 24th victory in 31 career starts. Coming off a world-record 1:50 2/5 score in the Graduate Series final just a week ago, Ariana G also joins 2016 winner and Gingras-driven Hannelore Hanover (who won earlier on the Saturday card in the Miss Versatility), 1964 winner Elma and 1963 winner Spry Rodney as mare winners of the Maturity and also hits the record books as the first mare to complete the Hambletonian Oaks-Maturity double. As the prohibitive favorite, Ariana G returned $2.60 to win. "I was so happy with her performance. I was a little nervous with her nine post. She cut it close a bit down the stretch, but she is just an amazing horse," said trainer Jimmy Takter, who took home his first Maturity win. "We should not compare great horse with others. She has been so good. She is just a perfect horse." Takter said Ariana G will next race on Hambletonian Day (Aug. 4) in the John Cashman Memorial. Bill's Man, driven by Corey Callahan, was second, with Top Flight Angel and Andy Miller grabbing the show dough.   by Lou Monaco, for the Hambletonian Society

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – August 5, 2017 – Arianna G cemented her dominance of the trotting filly division. The 1-5 harness racing favorite Ariana G, with Yannick Gingras driving, cruised to a four and three quarters length victory over Magic Presto to capture the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the 12th race on Saturday at the Meadowlands. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Ariana G was moved  to the lead at the half-mile mark at 54.4 and then cruised to victory, the fourth time for the team of Takter and Gingras in the Oaks.  The mile was time in 1:51.2. Gingras was holding up four fingers to celebrate the win after crossing the finish line. It was Gingras’ fourth win on the card. “I was really concerned about Magic Presto and obviously you have to respect the competition,” said Gingras.  “When she got away on the first turn and I really didn’t want to be first over that long of the way, so I decided to do whatever I needed to do to get her to the front. It wasn’t the best move I think, but she is just a great horse and a great horse can overcome anything.” Arianna G’s full sister, All The Time, won the Oaks last year with a time of 1:52.1. The 2016 Dan Patch Award winner as Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year, the Muscle Hill filly has won 15-of-18 lifetime starts and this year has clocked sub 1:52 on four separate occasions. The Gingras/Takter combo has won four straight Hambletonian Oaks and Takter notched his seventh overall, which makes him the winningest trainer in Oaks history. “She did a tremendous mile. It was a tough opening, because she cut all the way to the front due to the high pace,” said Takter. “She is just in a class of her own.” Arianna G paid a modest $2.40, $2.10, and $2.10 . Magic Presto with Brain Sears finished second paying $3.00 and $2.40, and Dream Together with Daniel Dube finished third paying $2.60. Dream Baby Dream finished fourth. by Lou Monaco

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -August 5, 2017 - The 1-2 favorite Manchego added another win to her harness racing resume, winning by two and a quarter over a closing Phaetosive, to capture the 35th edition of the $330,800 Jim Doherty Memorial Final for two-year-old trotting fillies, the fifth race on Saturday at the Meadowlands. It was trainer Jimmy Takter's third win on the day and Manchego, driven by Yannick Gingras, improved her lifetime record to five straight wins in as many starts. It was Gingras' second straight win on the card and second Doherty win of his career, having won his first with Mission Brief in 2014. Manchego, the daughter of Muscle Hill, took control just prior to the half-mile mark and came home with a lifetime-best time of 1:52.4. She paid $3.00, $2.10, and $2.10 to her backers. Phaetosive, trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer, paid $2,60 and $2.20 for second. Lily Stride with Tim Tetrick at the lines, was third by six and a half lengths, paying $3.00. Vivacious Allie with David Miller driving finished fourth. "She is a really special girl. We liked her from the get go and she keeps developing and certainly has a very effective way of going and has a tremendous inner-strength that few horses have," said Takter, who recorded his fifth win in the Doherty, formerly named the Merrie Annabelle. Manchego by Lou Monaco

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - August 5, 2017 -- Blazin Britches' performance was record-smashing. The filly by Rock N Roll Heaven cruised home in 1:48.4, breaking the harness racing stakes record of 1:49.1 set last year by Darlinonthebeach, with an impressive four and three-quarter length victory over Caviart Alley to capture the $113,950 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old fillies, the third race on Saturday at the Meadowlands. Driven by David Miller, the 1-5 favorite, went three-wide prior to the half-mile pole, taking control, and coasting to the her fourth straight victory, paying her backers $2.60, 2.40, and 2.10. The 13-1 longshot Caviart Alley, driven by Andrew McCarthy, paid $4.40 and $2.60 for second and 2-1 second-choice Idyllic Beach, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old female pacer, completed the payouts, with $2.10 for third, five and three-quarter lengths back. “We thought she was a really nice filly right along,” said trainer Brian Brown.  “We had to wait on her a couple times.  Got started this year, we were ready to go to the Fan Hanover and she popped a gravel (in her foot). I give credit to her groom Kim Carruthers and the grooms at Bruce’s farm, they got her finally to pop it.  That took two weeks and took us right out the Fan Hanover and the Lynch.  We thought she was a good horse, but I can’t tell you I thought she was this good. “ The 1:48.4 clocking matched the track record for three-year-old fillies shared by Dancinwiththestarz [2010] and Agent Q [2017]. Awash, Ella Christina, and Sister's Delight rounded out the field of six. Blazin Britches by Lou Monaco        

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - August 7, 2017 - Two Am wore down Yes Mickey in the stretch to capture the harness racing $50,000 Townsend Ackerman by two and a half lengths, the tenth race on Saturday at the Meadowlands. At odds of 7-1, Two Am, driven by Tyler Buter, caught 3-5 Yes Mickey with Ake Svanstedt driving, at the top of the stretch in 1:52.2, paying his backers handsomely at $17.20, $5.80, and $3.80, his third straight win and fourth in his last five starts. Yes Mickey paid $2.20, $2.10, and $3.40 for second and Fly on with Andy Miller finished third, paying $3.40 to show. Two AM, three-year-old gelding by Muscle Massive, is trained by Todd Buter.   by Lou Monaco      

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It was a big-time harness racing performance by the defending Trotter of the Year. Driven by Scott Zeron, 1-5 favorite Marion Marauder chased down Cufflink Hanover by a head in 2:05.2 for the mile-and-an-eighth distance to capture the $458,750 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Saturday night, and in doing so, became the first horse in the fourth edition of the series to complete the Hambo-Hambo Maturity sweep. Zeron waited for his moment to go first over just after the three-quarter mile mark and powered his way to the finish line, outlasting Cufflink Hanover. Warrawee Roo finished third with Dayson fourth. "He's a grinder, I'm not worried about him getting weak at the end, that's for sure," said Zeron. "The way it unfolds, a mile and an eighth, a lot of people can do different things out there. Right now, he's at the best part of his game. It's hard to believe after the year he had last year. I don't mind coming first up, he loves looking at them, just going right on by them. This year, he's matured to pull away. (His desire to race) is even more as a 4-year-old. It makes my life so much easier." Marion Marauder paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Cufflink Hanover, with Corey Callahan driving, paid $7.40 and $4.60 to place with Warrawee Roo (Daniel Dube) paying $3.60 to show. It was the son of Muscle Hill's third win in four starts this season. He's won 14 of 32 lifetime and has earned over $2 million for owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling. Last year, Marion Marauder swept the Triple Crown - the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity - on his way to being named Trotter of the Year. Marion Marauder By Lou Monaco, for the Hambletonian Society  

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