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CHESTER, PA - The Muscle Hill sophomore colt Demon Onthe Hill trotted to a new mark of 1:54.3 victory in the $16,000 featured event at Harrah's Philadelphia, perhaps a good sign for trainer Marcus Melander as he heads into the Hambletonian on Saturday. Tim Tetrick, posting another five winners on the day, settled the winner of $155,405 in third as Klutzy set the pace, with favored Nextroundsonme in the pocket. Demon Onthe Hill was sent outside late on the backstretch to go after the leader after Nextroundsonme started to gap (he eventually broke), and the "Demon" finished briskly to leave Klutzy 3 3/4 lengths behind him late. Vicky Trotting Inc. may find themselves with a promising trotter finally headed in the right direction. The imperially-bred son of Muscle Hill and Moni Maker (her last foal), the four-year-old American Moni, finally gained his maiden victory with a 1:55.4 effort. A winner in a Lexington qualifier in 1:54.2 last season, American Moni was put on the lead by driver Andy Miller, stringing the field out, looked in a bit of peril around the far turn when the freshman Yankee Glide colt Hell Patrol tightened in then moved out to challenge, but then regained full control when the baby jumped it off turning for home. This was the first start for American Moni since teaming with trainer Julie Miller for Moni Maker Stable. Another well-bred winner was the Somebeachsomewhere freshman pacing gelding Super Mac, who overcame the outside post eight with an engine victory in 1:53.2, last half :56.1, for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Jim Campbell. Super Mac is out of Michelle's Power, a talented continuation in a long string of racing/breeding champions for this freshman's owner, Jeffrey Snyder. From the PHHA/Harrah's Racetrack

East Rutherford, NJ - Sixteen 3-year-old trotters entered Saturday's 94th Hambletonian Stakes at The Meadowlands, requiring two eight-horse eliminations to reduce the field to 10 for the $1 million final later that afternoon. Gimpanzee is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first elimination and Greenshoe is the 4-5 favorite in the second. The draws for the Hambletonian and companion Hambletonian Oaks, which is restricted to 3-year-old female trotters, were held Tuesday at The Meadowlands. Gimpanzee drew post No. 7 in his elimination and Greenshoe drew post No. 5. Both colts are trained by Marcus Melander. The top-five finishers from each $100,000 elimination return for the final. Millies Possesion, who won one of last week's two eliminations for the Hambletonian Oaks, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the $500,000 final. When Dovescry, the other elimination winner, is the 5-2 second choice. As elimination winners, Millies Possesion and When Dovescry drew for spots in posts one through five, with Millies Possesion getting post two and When Dovescry getting post five. The Hambletonian Day card begins at noon. The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). Greenshoe, the No. 1-ranked horse in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian, has won four of five races this year, with his only loss a second-place finish by a head to Marseille in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. Greenshoe heads to the Hambletonian off a 1:50.1 win in his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 at The Meadowlands. The time is the fastest of the season for a 3-year-old trotter. Marcus Melander trains Greenshoe for Anders Strom's Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli. Three-time Hambletonian winner Brian Sears will drive Greenshoe. Gimpanzee is undefeated in 12 career starts and will try to become only the second unbeaten horse to win the Hambletonian. Deweycheatumnhowe accomplished the feat in 2008. Gimpanzee, owned by Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's S R F Stable, was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. He also will have Sears in the sulky in his elimination. Greenshoe and Gimpanzee are two of four horses trained by the 27-year-old Melander in the Hambletonian. The others are Green Manalishi S and Gerry. Green Manalishi S, who has never finished worse than third in 14 career races, winning seven, is owned by Courant Inc. and is the 5-2 second choice in the first elimination. S R F Stable, which won the Hambletonian in 2017 with Perfect Spirit, owns Gerry. "With a horse like Greenshoe, when he's going to be the big favorite, of course it's going to be a little pressure," said Melander, who is making his third appearance in the Hambletonian. "But I can't do much more. I think I've prepared the horses the best I can. Now it's just up to the horses. I can't be more happy with them, how they feel at home, and how they've been racing. I'm excited, I have a good feeling. As long as they're fine, I think they will do a good race. "Like I said, I can't do much more. We need some racing luck, of course. There is so much that can go wrong in a race, you need a little bit of luck, a little bit of racing luck. Hopefully, we'll have that too." Other contenders include Don't Let'em, who with a 1:50.2 win in last week's Reynolds Memorial is the season's second-fastest 3-year-old trotter, hails from the stable of trainer Nancy Johansson. Don't Let'em, who is 4-1 in the second elimination, won last year's Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters on Hambletonian Day and is bidding to become the first Haughton champ to capture the Hambletonian since Muscle Hill in 2009. Marseille, trained by Ake Svanstedt, captured a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes in addition to winning the Beal Memorial. He is 5-1 in the second elimination. Svanstedt, who trained Perfect Spirit in 2017, is the only trainer in this year's Hambletonian to previously win the race. Swandre The Giant, who won a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial by a length over Green Manalishi S, is the 7-2 third choice in the first elimination. He is trained by Ron Burke. In the Hambletonian Oaks, Millies Possesion, unraced at age 2, will try to extend her career win streak to nine against a field of nine rivals. She won her Oaks elimination by a nose over Evident Beauty in 1:52.3. "I thought (Evident Beauty) had the momentum on her (in the stretch) but Millie dug in," said Jim Campbell, who trains the filly for owner Fashion Farms. "She's a true professional. She just knows what she's supposed to do." When Dovescry won her elimination by three lengths over Southwind Casha in 1:51.3. She has hit the board in all 12 lifetime starts, winning six. "She's amazing," said Simon Allard, who drives the filly for his brother Rene, and owners Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh, and Lawrence Dumain. "You could put a glass of water on her back and nothing would spill, she just trots so nice. You don't get the chance to drive horses like that every day. I'm so happy to be able to do this." Hambletonian Elimination One PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Cantab Fashion-Dexter Dunn-Jim Campbell-6/1 2-Summit In Sight-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-20/1 3-Swandre The Giant-David Miller-Ron Burke-7/2 4-Soul Strong-Dexter Dunn-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 5-Mr Vicktor-Tyler Buter-Jennifer Lappe-15/1 6-Osterc-Yannick Gingras-Per Engblom-15/1 7-Gimpanzee-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-2/1 8-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-5/2 Hambletonian Elimination Two PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Forbidden Trade-Bob McClure-Luc Blais-12/1 2-Gerry-Orjan Kihlstrom-Marcus Melander-20/1 3-Pilot Discretion-Andrew McCarthy-Tony Alagna-10/1 4-Reign Of Honor-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-20/1 5-Greenshoe-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-4/5 6-Don't Let'em-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Johansson-4/1 7-Super Schissel-Scott Zeron-Per Engblom-10/1 8-Marseille-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-5/1 Hambletonian Oaks final PP-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Southwind Casha-Scott Zeron-John Bax-15/1 2-Millies Possesion-Dexter Dunn-Jim Campbell-9/5 3-Sonnet Grace-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-15/1 4-Evident Beauty-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-7/2 5-When Dovescry-Simon Allard-Rene Allard-5/2 6-Sweet Chapter-Matt Kakaley-Blake MacIntosh-20/1 7-Asiago-Tim Tetrick-Per Engblom-15/1 8-Queen Of Trixs-Andrew McCarthy-Lucas Wallin-15/1 9-Princess Deo-Andrew McCarthy-Lucas Wallin-12/1 10-Miss Trixton-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-30/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

After weeks of seeing his horses at the top of the Hambletonian rankings, Anders Strom is finally just days from watching his group race in the $1 million event for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands. Strom, who races as Courant Inc., co-owns Greenshoe and Gimpanzee - who sit in the top two spots in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's final Road to the Hambletonian ratings - as well as No. 4 Green Manalishi S. Greenshoe and Gimpanzee have occupied the top positions for all 11 weeks of the rankings. All three horses are trained by Marcus Melander. "It feels just great," Strom said. "Obviously, I hoped all three would stay sound and healthy for entry into the big race and here we are. Marcus has had a good plan for the three and, so far, it has worked out just fine." Greenshoe has won four of five races this year, with his only loss a second-place finish by a head to Marseille in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. Greenshoe heads to the Hambletonian off a 1:50.1 win in his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 at The Meadowlands. The time is the fastest of the season for a 3-year-old trotter. "He is the most capable and he has matured well this season and looked better for every start," said Strom, who owns Greenshoe with former New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli. "He lost in the Beal, but I just saw that as a minor bump in the road; the horse finished fantastically and looked really sharp. "For me, he is one of those horses that there are only 10 of each century. Muscle Hill was the last one and I believe Greenshoe is of a similar caliber." Gimpanzee is undefeated in 12 career starts and will try to become only the second unbeaten horse to win the Hambletonian. Deweycheatumnhowe accomplished the feat in 2008. Gimpanzee, owned by Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's S R F Stable, was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. He is 3-for-3 this year, with all his starts in state-bred restricted races in New York. "Gimpanzee is so smart," Strom said. "He has not put one foot wrong and it will be very interesting to see him in this situation on Saturday. Even if he doesn't win the Hambletonian, I think he will be one of the top horses when we summarize the 3-year-olds toward the end of the season." Green Manalishi S has won two of four races this season. He heads to the Hambletonian off a win in a division of the Tompkins-Geers on July 20. He finished second in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, behind Swandre The Giant, and third in the Beal Memorial. The colt has finished in the top three in all 14 career races, winning seven. He is owned solely by Courant Inc. "Green Manalishi has been raced with one eye on the rest of the season; there is an option to ship him to Sweden for the $1.1 million Kriterium, which is 1-1/2 miles for Swedish-born horses that should suit him as a glove," Strom said. "But we haven't decided yet. He looks like he is trending upwards and I believe he can race well on Saturday." Sixteen horses entered the Hambletonian, so two eight-horse eliminations will be contested Saturday and the top-five finishers from each division will advance to the final later that afternoon. The Hambletonian Day card begins at noon. The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will be featured during a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). "All three horses are very strong and sound, so two heats will normally work in our favor, even if you never can be sure if the individual horse is suited for racing twice on the same day," Strom said. "Our horses have proven that they are more than able, but I have respect for the opposition; any horse can lose on the day. Fingers crossed!" by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

After watching Gimpanzee take care of business and remain undefeated earlier this week, harness racing trainer Marcus Melander turns his attention to two more of the sport's top Hambletonian Stakes contenders, Greenshoe and Swedish-bred Green Manalishi, in Saturday's $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Greenshoe, a perfect 3-for-3 in 2019 and owner of the two fastest miles of the season for a 3-year-old trotter, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Green Manalishi, who made his seasonal debut in last week's Beal eliminations, winning his division by 1-1/4 lengths, is the 3-1 second choice. All three of Melander's horses figure prominently in the Road to the Hambletonian rankings compiled by Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin: Greenshoe No. 1, Gimpanzee No. 2, and Green Manalishi No. 4. The $1 million Hambletonian, harness racing's premier event for 3-year-old trotters, is Aug. 3 at The Meadowlands. "A lot can change in those (upcoming) weeks, but at least now everything is good," Melander said. Greenshoe, a two-time New Jersey Sire Stakes champion, enters the Beal final off a 3-1/4 length win over Osterc in 1:52.3 in his elimination last week. The son of Father Patrick-Designed To Be has been unthreatened in his three victories this season, capturing his two previous starts by a total of 9-1/2 lengths with times of 1:51.2 and 1:50.2. Last week, he was fourth at the half-mile point but already on his way to overtaking leader Osterc by the final turn. "He did what he always does; it's hard to keep up with him when he puts in that gear," Melander said. "When he puts in that gear, he can go so fast it looks like the other horses are standing still. It was a good mile. We didn't have to stretch him out more than we had to. He won under wraps and everything has looked good after that." Greenshoe's development has vaulted him from Hambletonian wild card to Hambletonian favorite at this point in the season. Last year, the highly regarded colt went off stride behind the starting gate or at the beginning of each of his four races, although he was able to recover and win two. He has been on his best behavior this year for driver Brian Sears. Still... "I don't look when they go up to the gate," Melander said with a laugh. "I'm not watching until I hear they are away, then I can take a look. "I always look at the replays and it looks like he's comfortable and behaving. You always have that in your head, what he did last year, but he's getting better and better for every start. Hopefully he continues to behave. It will take some good horse to catch him, that's for sure." For his career, Greenshoe has won five of seven races and $201,723. He is owned by Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli. Green Manalishi S was a multiple Grand Circuit stakes winner last year. --New Image Media photo. Green Manalishi, a son of Muscle Hill-Naga Morich S owned by Courant Inc., was a multiple Grand Circuit stakes winner last year. He won five of 10 races and finished no worse than second on his way to $510,557. His progress during the spring was slowed by some now resolved issues, which pushed his debut to the Beal. He won his elimination in 1:52.1 with Tim Tetrick in the sulky. "He had a little soreness issue and some bad luck in his qualifiers," Melander said. "It was nothing major and everything has been great since we took care of it. For his first race of the year and to go (1):52.1, it was a good mile. It looked like he had a lot of power left. We're excited for the final." If all goes well following the Beal, Melander plans to send Greenshoe and Green Manalishi to the Meadowlands for the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 in what would likely be their final preps for the Hambletonian. Gimpanzee's path is uncertain at this point, with the Dancer or a trip to Tioga Downs for a July 19 leg of the New York Sire Stakes under consideration. On Tuesday, Gimpanzee won a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Yonkers Raceway. The returning Dan Patch Award winner is unbeaten in 11 lifetime races. "We'll see where we race next," Melander said. "We could race him in another sire stakes to get more points for the final. (The final) is a lot of money to race for." For now, though, Melander is focused on the Beal and Greenshoe and Green Manalishi. "We trained them Wednesday here, very light training, but they felt really good," Melander said. "I'm happy with both of them." The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial honors the former president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who was a driving force to bring casino gaming to the state's racetracks. Following is the field for this year's race.   PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-3/1 2-Greenshoe-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-2/1 3-Summit In Sight-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-8/1 4-Wittyville-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-15/1 5-Osterc-Yannick Gingras-Per Engblom-10/1 6-Goes Down Smooth-Dexter Dunn-Ron Burke-4/1 7-Marseille-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 8-Swandre The Giant-David Miller-Ron Burke-5/1   Saturday's card at Pocono also features the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, and $500,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the harness racing line-up for Thursday morning (June 19) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Marcus Melander, Rick Moore, Montrell Teague, and Tony Schadel. Melander joins the show to talk about his top three contenders (Gimpanzee, Greenshoe, and Green Manalishi S). Both Greenshoe and Green Manalishi S are entered in Saturday's Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Eliminations. Melander will talk about how they have been training up to the race and the pair will ask Melander when fans can expect to see Gimpanzee back on the track. The four Harrah's properties (Indiana Grand, Hoosier Park, Philadelphia, and Louisiana Downs) will host a handicapping challenge on Saturday June 22 featuring a top prize of $20,000, a seat at the $3,000,000 (EST) National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), and an additional $1 million cash prize if the winner of the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge also with the NHC. The pair will talk with Rick Moore from Harrah's Hoosier Park about the contest and how patrons can enter for a chance at the top prizes. Schadel, co-owner of Aflame Hanover, who has been in top form as of late will join to talk about their prized gelding. Although winless in 2019, he has proven he can hang with some of the top three-year-old pacers in the country. The pair will discuss with Schadel what it has been like to own a caliber of race horse like this and what their plans are for the rest of the year. Teague comes into Saturday's eliminations with Lather Up and Goldberg, two of the top tiered horses in their respective divisions. The pair will discuss with Teague how they have been training and what fans can expect to see from them this weekend. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN.   Michael Carter Social Media and Publicity Coordinator U.S. Trotting Association 

East Rutherford, NJ - The North America Cup day edition of Breakfast With The Babies (BWTB), sponsored by Jules Siegel's Fashion Farms, came an hour early at 9:00am on a beeeyooteefull, windless Saturday morning with the temperature at 70 degrees and the harness racing track fast. Trainer Marcus Melander flaunted his imposing freshman trotting power this morning, winning five of the six colt races while finishing 1-2 in races eight through eleven. Trotting colts got underway in the seventh race where the camera could not separate a closing Hellbent For AM (Sears) and mile cutter Legion Of Honor (Andy McCarthy) as they crossed the wire, resulting in a dead heat in 1:56 / 27.3. Hellbent For AM is a Anders Strom via Courant Inc homebred trained in the Melander barn while Legion Of Honor was a $150,000 LSYS purchase by Mario Mazza from breeders Steve Stewart and John Carver with Lucas Wallin doing the training. Just as impressive as the top two was the 27 flat closing kick displayed by third place finisher Real Cool Sam (D. Miller), a Fashion Farm homebred. Hellbent For AM (Sears) and mile cutter Legion Of Honor (Andy McCarthy) The Melander stable began the 1-2 binge in race 8 when Maesteraemon (Sears) out kicked Speed Ball Swagger (Mattias Melander) for a 2:01.1 / 28 win. Mahomes (Tetrick) scrambled up for third. The winner is another SRF Stable colt, this one an Andover Hall that cost $170,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale (SHS) and is a Hanover bred. Melander came right back with Capricornus (Tetrick) to win in 1:58.2, taking over from stable-mate Hollywood Story (Sears) on the way to the 1:00.3 half then moved away from his chief rival under his own power with a 27.3 final quarter. The $110,000 Cantab Hall scion was a Harrisburg yearling purchase is a Windsong Stable bred now owned by JJ Stable. Sears drove Expectations to a 1:57.2 / 27.3 score next, taking over early and finishing in hand over Hell Patrol (Tetrick) and Chaptiama (Trond Smedshammer). Expectations is another son of Muscle Hill, bred by Dunroven Stud and sold in Lexington for $110,000 to Vicky Trotting. The domination continued with Back Of The Neck (Mattias Melander) leading all the way to an easy 1:58 / 28.2 win over Hopeyousteponalego (Marcus Schoen) and Swiss House On Fire (Svanstedt). Back Of The Neck is a son of Ready Cash, bred by Order By Stable and still shows Order By as owner despite having sold for $150,000 last fall at Harrisburg. Ake Svanstedt finally put the Melander reign of terror to rest by winning the last of the trotting colt races with the very sharp looking Chapter Seven colt Third Shift. They tracked Melander trainee Gerard (M. Schoen) throughout slow fractions before blasting by in a 27.4 end to the 2:01 mile. Jula Trix Treasure (Gingras) closed it up to be second. The winner was a $235,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase by Melby Gard Inc from breeder Winbak Farms. The day's opener featured several top bred filly trotters and a pair of expensive, impressive Muscle Hills finished one-two. Bellareina Dolce (Brian Sears) took over past the quarter, rated the middle half then dug in when challenged by Impressive Fashion (Dave Miller) as they sprinted home in lock-step through a 27.4 end to the 2:00 mile. Oblivion (Tim Tetrick) was a handy third. Lennart Agren owns the winner via his SRF Stable, a $400,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale (LSYS) buy from breeder David McDuffee and she is trained by Marcus Melander. Yannick Gingras saved ground all the way then found room at the rail late for Queen Of The Hill to eke out a narrow 1:58.4 / 27.1 win over a wide and charging Dramatra (Scoot Zeron). Dip Me Hanover (Tetrick) was a good third. Queen Of The Hill is an Explosive Matter filly that Al Libfeld paid $110,000 (LSYS) for to secure from breeders Paymaq Racing, Lou Willinger and JC Bafia. She is trained in the Per Engbloom stable. Yannick took the exact same path to victory in the next race, guiding Becky Lindy to a ground saving 1:59.3 / 28.2 score, making it two straight for the driver/trainer duo of Gingras and Engbloom. They sat tight in the pocket behind the fractions set by Context (Jan Johnson) before wearing that game rival down very late to get up. Beautiful Mrs A (Marcus Miller) was third in a purposeful trip. Lindy Farms bred the winner, a $35,000 LSYS purchase by Christina Takter and John Fielding. Jula Beauty AM made it a hat trick for Per and Yannick, coming wide from well back to track down the leaders late in the stretch and get a narrow win over Common Sense S (Svanstedt) in 2:00.2 with her final quarter in 27.3. Musclesandmascara (Dexter Dunn) rallied late for third. Jula Racing owns the Muscle Hill filly, an $85,000 LSYS yearling bred by AM Bloodstock. Senorita Rita (Zeron) gave the crowd a thrill with an impressive gate to wire 1:57.4 win, trotting home in 27.1 under no urging. Shishito (Tetrick) actually gained in the stretch to get up for the place over Seventimesalady (Ake Svanstedt). Ken Jacobs paid $285,000 (LSYS) for Senorita Rita, a Chapter Seven lass bred by Our Horse Cents Stable and Hall of Famer Linda Toscano is the trainer. Caviart Ava was a winner for Andy McCarthy in a front end effort this morning, finishing her 1:58.4 mile with a 28.1 last quarter with something left. Electrapedia (Svanstedt) got up to be second over Mission US (Mattias Melander). The Trixton filly is a Caviart Farms homebred, trained by Nancy Johansson. The pacers came around after a training break and Tony Alagna fillies finished 1-2 in 1:57.2 / 27.3 with Never Ever Forget (Dex Dunn) closing to get up over the inside horses and holding off Reflect With Me (McCarthy) who lost ground early, breaking while leading before the 59.2 before making a nice recovery. Both fillies are by Captaintreacherous, the winner an $85,000 Lexington purchase by Alagna & In The Gym, VJ Stable, Donovan and Sbrocco from AM Bloodstock. Alagna sent out Lady Lou (McCarthy) to win the fourteenth after leading all the way in 1:54 with a 27 end to hold Baby You're the Best (D. Miller) and Rocknificient (Tetrick) at bay while becoming the fastest freshman filly pacer of 2019. The daughter of Sweet Lou was bred by Robert Hamather and went through the Harrisburg sale for $55,000 to Brad Grant. Capt Midnight (McCarthy) became the fastest freshman pacing colt of the season for Tony Alagna when he won the 15th race in 1:52.3 / 26.3 from the pocket over a stubborn Freedom Warrior (Tetrick) with Captain Nemo (Dunn) third. The Captaintreacherous colt is a Hanover bred and was a $350,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase by Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant and Captain Midnight Racing.  Capt Midnight Genius Man (Marcus Miller) took the last baby race of the day with an impressive gate to wire 1:54.4 / 26.4 win, holding sway over Force N Fury (Dunn) and He Refuses To Lose (Matt Kreuger). The winner is an Art Major colt was an $87,000 Lexington purchase by Ron Michelon and Daniel Plouffe from breeder Winbak Farms. Today's results are available on The Meadowlands website. Live racing tonight at 7:15. Nick Salvi          

Gimapazee (Brian Sears) wins the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) final ($215,200) for sophomore trotting colts and geldings at Vernon Downs on a special Memorial Day matinee (May 27). He won his 3-year-old harness racing debut and is a perfect 10 for 10 in his career. Mr Vicktor (Tyler Buter) went to the front and was followed in second by Cavill Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) with Gimpanzee ($2.10) in third. Mr Vicktor put up all the early numbers (:28.0, :57.3, 1:25.1). Gimapanzee, who is trained by Marcus Melander for owners Courant inc. and S R F Stable, went first over from third just before the final turn. He would be second after three-quarters and battle Mr Vicktor for the lead. He would take over in the stretch but Mr Vicktor would battle back gamely. Gimpanzee found another gear and put him away to win easily in a lifetime best of 1:54.0. Mr Vicktor would settle for second as Travel Winner (Trevor Henry) came up to finish third. Gimpanzee is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) captures EBC final ($209,500) for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Sweet Chapter (Matt Kakaley) led the way to a first quarter of :27.3. Winndevie (Trond Smedshammer) took over just after the first quarter. She would lead to the half in :56.3 and three-quarters in 1:25.3. Quincy Blue Chip ($3.40), who is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and trained by Gareth Dowse, went second over as they went around the final turn. She went three-wide at the top of the stretch and flew home to a win in 1:55.0. Sensibility (Scott Zeron) charged late to finish second. Sweet Chapter (Matt Kakaley) was third. Quincy Blue Chip                                         --Fotowon photo Quincy Blue Chip is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. She picked up her third win of the season. She now owns seven career victories. St Somewhere (Matt Kakaley) and Zero Tolerance (David Miller) each won legs of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies. Both divisions raced for a purse of $58.700. In the first division St Somewhere ($10.00) came charging late to nip the late rush of second place finisher, Meghan Lynn (Joe Bongiorno) to win in 1:52.1. JK American Beauty (Scott Zeron) was third best. St Somewhere is a 3-year-old filly by American Ideal. Trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing, P Collura, J&T Silva-Purnell&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. It was win number two of 2019. She now owns seven career victories. In the second division Zero Tolerance ($2.10) went flying in the stretch to overtake second place finisher DD Delicious (Matt Kakaley) to win in 1:51.3. So Awesome (Brian Sears) picked up third money. Zero Tolerance is a 3-year-old filly by Heston Blue Chip. She is trained by Joe Holloway for owners Val D'Or Farms and Theodore Gewertz. It was her second win this season and career win number nine. Zero Tolerance                                  -Fotowon photo David Miller won three more on the card. He got his other wins with Sports Column ($2.70), Gussy's Realdeal ($22.60), and Fool Me Again ($5.80). Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (May 31) with 13 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs

Marcus Melander trains the top three horses in the first Road to the Hambletonian rankings released this week by Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin, and No. 1 makes his first harness racing start of the season Monday (May 27) in the $215,200 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs. Gimpanzee, who was 9-for-9 last year and took home the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter, will start from post five in the EBC for Melander and regular driver Brian Sears. Last year, Gimpanzee won seven times on the New York Sire Stakes circuit, including the $225,000 final, before capturing his elimination and the final of the Breeders Crown. "He's doing good," Melander said of Gimpanzee, the horse atop Warkentin's rankings, followed by stablemates Greenshoe and Green Manalishi S. "He's filled out nicely. He's not the biggest horse but we've been very happy with him all winter. He doesn't make any noise here at home, he just looks like a regular horse. He's nice and calm. I can't be more excited for his season to start." Gimpanzee, who earned $591,358 in purses last season for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, heads to the Empire Breeders Classic off a second-place finish by a head to 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover in a qualifier on May 18 at The Meadowlands. The time of the mile was 1:53. The colt also qualified on May 4, winning in 1:55, and on April 27, when he was fifth in 1:58.3. "Hannelore Hanover just got him at the wire, but we were very happy with his last qualifier," Melander said. "The first qualifier we went with an open bridle and it was a windy day, so maybe that didn't look too impressive, but the last two qualifiers have been very good." Of the eight remaining horses in the EBC, four are eligible to Hambletonian: Gettin Serious, Star Track Hanover, Mr Vicktor, and Cavill Hanover. Lightly raced Mr Vicktor is 3-for-3 this year for trainer Buzzy Sholty and has won four of five career starts. Melander was uncertain of Gimpanzee's schedule beyond Monday. He would like his horses to have four or five starts heading to the $1 million Hambletonian, which is harness racing's top event for 3-year-old trotters and will be held Aug. 3 at The Meadowlands. "We'll see how he races on Monday and then we'll decide," Melander said. "He's fully staked so we can choose whatever we want to do." So far, only Greenshoe has made a start this season among Melander's highly regarded trio. Greenshoe won the preliminary round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters in 1:51.2 on May 17 at The Meadowlands. Last year, the colt won two of four races, including the NJSS final, despite going off stride in each start. Greenshoe                                  --Lisa photo "I know the horse is fast, so my only concern was that he was going to behave himself," Melander said. "It looked like he was behaving behind the gate and then in the race he looked perfect. He did a huge race and I couldn't be more happy with him. "He'll get this week off and we'll aim for the sire stakes final (on May 31). It's a long season and winning in (1):51, I don't think he needs another race between here and the final." Green Manalishi S, who won five of 10 races last season and never was worse than second, will qualify for the third time this year on Saturday at The Meadowlands. The colt went off stride in his most recent qualifier, May 18 at the Big M, after winning his first in 1:54.1. Green Manalishi S                                     --New Image Media "The track is normally very good at The Meadowlands, but it was loose and in the first turn it was just too loose for him and he made a break," Melander said. "He'll be qualifying again this Saturday and then he will race (June 2) at Pocono in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. "He's been training down very good. We took a slow start with him because the first sire stakes was at The Meadows and I didn't want to go out there with him. We had a couple of months to prepare him and he feels very prepared. He grew a lot during the winter and filled out nicely. I think he will have a good season." Gimpanzee's start in the Empire Breeders Classic is expected at approximately 3:29 p.m. (EDT) Monday. The EBC for the male trotters is race nine and will be preceded by the Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old female trotters. For Monday's complete Vernon entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Let the Hambletonian hype begin. Greenshoe began his 2019 season by sending a message to the rest of the 3-year-old trotters seeking to win harness racing's greatest prize on the first Saturday in August: He is a force to be reckoned with after putting on a dazzling display in taking his division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at the Meadowlands Friday night in 1:51.2. The only horse to go faster on the trot this year was 2018 Hambo champ Atlanta, who went 1:50.4 a week ago Monday at Miami Valley. "His manners were good," said Brian Sears, who drove the Marcus Melander trainee. "We were happy with him. He was a little high strung while scoring before the race, but then he came back to me. He relaxed after that. I think he's starting to get it." During his 2-year-old season, the son of Father Patrick-Designed To Be, won half of his four starts despite going off stride in each and every one of them. Sears handled Greenshoe carefully at the start Friday, as in 2018, he went off stride three times before the start of his races. There was none of that on this night. Greenshoe sat a four-hole for the first five-eighths before vacating the rail and going after leader Sheena's Boy, who hit the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.1 on an open lead. "I took a peek and saw they were going a little bit," said Sears. "When I tipped him, he went up there." The 2018 NJSS champion quickly got himself into contention and was charging after the leader coming toward the top of the stretch. Sears barely moved a muscle as Greenshoe, who paid $3.00 as the post-time choice, rolled by his over-matched foes during a final quarter of :26.2 to score by 3½ widening lengths while lowering his previous lifetime best by two-and-one-fifth seconds. Sheena's Boy held second with Battenberg third. "He's a natural," said Sears. "He's got some gears that most horses don't have." In the other NJSS division for sophomore male trotters, Soul Strong scored in 1:53 at odds of 15-1 for trainer Ake Svanstedt and driver Yannick Gingras. Evident Beauty scored in the first of two 3-year-old filly trots for trainer Nifty Norman and driver Dave Miller in 1:53.3 as the 8-5 favorite. The Lucas Wallin-trained Queen Of Trixs took the other division in 1:55.4 for driver Andy McCarthy at odds of 6-1. A LITTLE MORE: Gingras and McCarthy both recorded driving triples on the program. ... The 20-Cent Can-Am Pick-4 took in $47,911 in wagers, and those who had the winning combination of 2-2-4-3 collected $67.15 for a ticket that included three favorites. ... One bettor in Ontario was the only player to hold a winning ticket in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $14,085.04 for lasting eight legs. ... All-source handle on the 13-race card was $2,500,166. ... Big M gates open at 9:30 a.m. for Preakness Day. Post time for the first at Pimlico is 10:30 a.m. while the Preakness is slated to go at 6:48 p.m. ... Live racing at the Meadowlands resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, NJ - Saturday morning qualifiers at The Meadowlands were held under mostly sunny skies (the short sleeved colors made their first appearance of the season), negligible wind and temperatures in the 60's, with the track rated fast as they began at 10:00am. Trotting fillies opened the card with the good pair of Evident Beauty (David Miller) and Beautiful Sin (Yannick Gingras) crossing the wire together in hand, the mile in 1:58.4/28.2. Both were making their second start, Red Mile Grand Circuit winner Evident Beauty appeared flawless for trainer Nifty Norman and owners Mel Hartman, Little E and R A W Equine while Beautiful Sin looked healthy after sustaining a serious tendon laceration that ended her freshman season prematurely. Greenshoe clearly holds great promise with his remarkable speed but often authored his own undoing last season via his anxious temperament. Today was another triumph for the connections as Greenshoe looked more comfortable going to the gate, driver Brian Sears was able to settle the colt in third through slow fractions then got the response he wanted when the colt ground up uncovered and wore down a good colt in Super Schissel (Gingras) through a 27.1 end to a 1:55.1 mile. Great things may well be in store for owner Anders Strom (Courant Inc) and trainer Marcus Melander if they're able to continue to harness the power of the enigmatic Father Patrick colt. Ake Svanstedt unveiled the Swedish star Darling Mearas S this morning as the career winner of over three quarters of a million dollars led at every call then held pocket sitter Pat Matters (Matt Kakley) at bay in hand, the mile in 1:56.1/27.4. Darling Mearas has been made eligible to the top US stakes for mare trotters by owners Snogarps Stable. With a stretch headwind beginning to pick up, The Veteran was a 1:53.4 winner this morning for his new connections, the Paul Kelley Stable. Mark MacDonald held the powerful 4-year-old Muscle Mass horse in third as Manchego (Scott Zeron) set fast fractions while appearing somewhat fresh before rolling off stride on the final bend. Mac Donald has The Veteran marching up uncovered by then and he held off Ice Attracion (Svanstedt) comfortably. Trainer Kelley owns him with SRF Stable, Winske and Michaels. Odds On St Lucie (Matt Krueger) closed nicely to get the 1:54.3/27.4 win today over stable mate Wicked N Wonderful (Dexter Dunn) and Petticoat winner Catch An Ace (D. Miller). Tony Alagna trains the winner for Odds On Racing. Western Joe (Zeron) is making his way back to the wars and took another step forward with a 1:52.2/27.3 win from the pocket this morning over Limelight Beach (D. Miller). He's had two good Q's back now for trainer Chris Choate and owners Anthony Ruggeri & Joe Tosies. Sophomore colt pacers capped the card and Bettors Wish was an impressive out of the pocket winner for Dexter Dunn in 1:52.4/27.3 clearing pacesetter Captain McKee (Tim Tetrick) by a couple at the end. Trainer Chris Ryder owns the sharp Bettor's Delight colt with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm and Ken Solomon. The results are available on the web. Live racing resumes tonight around 7:15 pm.   Nick Salvi

Harness racing trainer Marcus Melander is hoping Cruzado Dela Noche's seasonal debut in Saturday's (May 4) $175,200 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters at The Meadowlands follows the same script as the 7-year-old stallion's debut for his stable last fall. Simply put, with a win. Cruzado Dela Noche captured the $1 million Yonkers International Trot in October after returning to the U.S. from several years of campaigning in Europe. He arrived in Melander's barn during the summer, qualified twice in September, and then went out and won the International at odds of 30-1. The horse heads to Saturday's Cutler also off two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, winning the first in 1:53.3 on April 13 and finishing third in 1:53.4 on April 27. He will start the Cutler, which attracted a 12-horse field and will be raced at 1-1/8 miles, from post No. 3 with Brian Sears in the sulky. "We were very happy with both of his qualifiers," Melander said. "He won the International off two qualifiers, so I'm not too concerned that he hasn't raced. We've prepared him very well. We've got a good post and I'm excited. I think he is ready to roll." Cruzado Dela Noche was a stakes winner at ages 2 and 3 while competing in North America for trainer Nancy Johansson. At 4, he was brought to Europe by owner Anders Strom (Courant A B) and raced for Melander's uncle, Stefan. He was a multiple Group 1 winner, including the 2017 Copenhagen Cup. For his career, Cruzado Dela Noche has won 15 of 59 races and earned $1.21 million. He is staked to the top races in North America this season, including the Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot and Cashman Memorial. "He's got a great attitude," Melander said. "He always gives everything he's got. He's a nice horse to be around, very easy to be around. He's a happy horse. I'm looking forward to the season to start." Cruzado Dela Noche The Cutler field also includes Pinkman, who won the 2015 Hambletonian on his way to being named Trotter of the Year; Fiftydallarbill, a Breeders Crown winner in 2017; Top Flight Angel, the 2017 Yonkers Trot winner; and Grand Circuit stakes winners such as Will Take Charge and Yes Mickey. Guardian Angel As, who will start the Cutler from the second tier's post No. 11, is looking for his first major stakes victory. He finished second in last year's Allerage Open Trot, behind Homicide Hunter in his 1:48.4 world-record mile, and third in the Dayton Trotting Derby. The 5-year-old stallion has won 16 of 40 career races and earned $516,746 for owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. He is trained by Anette Lorentzon and enters the Cutler off two qualifier wins, the most recent on April 24 in 1:54.2 at Miami Valley Raceway. "We stretched him out a little bit," Lorentzon said. "He did it easy so we were happy with him. Training, he doesn't do more than you ask him to do. But he looks good. I'm just hoping we have some luck this year and he races good." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at the Meadowlands. The card also includes two divisions of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers. For complete entries, click here. Following is the field for the $175,200 Cutler Memorial. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1 - Pinkman-Yannick Gingras-Per Engblom 2 - Fiftydallarbill-Trace Tetrick-Katricia Adams 3 - Cruzado Dela Noche-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander 4 - Sortie-Trond Smedshammer-Trond Smedshammer 5 - Will Take Charge-Scott Zeron-Jeff Gillis 6 - Trolley-Marcus Miller-Erv Miller 7 - The Last Chapter-David Miller-Ed Hart 8 - Yes Mickey-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt 9 - I Know My Chip-Victor Kirby-Walter Haynes Jr. 10 - Top Flight Angel-Andy Miller-Julie Miller 11 - Guardian Angel As-Tim Tetrick-Anette Lorentzon 12 - Hammer Time-Tim Tetrick-Harry Landy Note: Guardian Angel As and Hammer Time start from the second tier. Ken Weingartner

Marcus Melander's name will be on the U.S. Harness Writers Association's 2018 Rising Star Award, but the 27-year-old trainer says the recognition extends beyond one person. "It's a great accomplishment, but it's not really just my award," Melander said. "It's my whole barn. If I didn't have all these people working with me, I wouldn't do any good. That's why we've been having success; it's a lot because of them. We have a good team. And then you need to have owners that support you. That's very important, too. I'm lucky to have owners that support me a hundred percent." Melander, who joined Nancy Johansson as the only trainers to receive the Rising Star Award in the past 20 years, saw his stable earn $2.86 million in purses last year, good enough to finish 15th among all trainers in North America despite having the fifth-fewest starts (219) among all trainers in the top 50. His top horse was undefeated male trotter Gimpanzee, who saw his 9-for-9 campaign at age 2 rewarded with the division's Dan Patch Award. Gimpanzee's victories for owners Anders Ström's Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's S R F Stable included the Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes championship. Melander's stable also saw 2-year-old male trotter Green Manalishi S win the William Wellwood Memorial and finish second in both the Breeders Crown and Peter Haughton Memorial. Another male 2-year-old trotter, Greenshoe, won the New Jersey Sire Stakes title. "We had a really good year, especially with the 2-year-olds," Melander sad. "We didn't have that many 3-year-olds, but the 2-year-olds did great." In addition, older trotters Cruzado Dela Noche and Crazy Wow -- both July additions to Melander's stable -- posted top Grand Circuit triumphs, with Cruzado Dela Noche capturing the Yonkers International Trot and Crazy Wow the Maple Leaf Trot. Those wins came at odds of 30-1 and 31-1, respectively. "We had a little luck getting Crazy Wow and Cruzado Dela Noche in the middle of the summer," Melander said. "You've got to have a little luck in the races, but both those horses raced great on those particular days." Melander, who employs a staff of a dozen people, enters 2019 with 60 horses in training and is looking to build off last year's success. "(Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi S) are doing very good," Melander said. "I brought them back in early December so they've been training for over a month now. They filled out very nicely. They're probably going to grow a little bit more during the winter. I'm very happy with how they're feeling so far." Greenshoe, Gerry, and Demon Onthe Hill add depth to Melander's group of male 3-year-old trotters. Greenshoe was limited to four starts last year because of immaturity and sickness while Gerry and Demon Onthe Hill both were winners on the Pennsylvania-stakes circuit. "Hopefully (Greenshoe) will mature more during the winter and develop a little bit too," Melander said. "He's a very fast horse, probably the fastest of any of my horses out of the 3-year-olds, but he was a little too anxious last year. He's been very quiet here at home. He's doing good. I couldn't be any happier with him at this moment. We'll see in three months. "The 3-year-old colts look really good. Gerry was a really good horse last year and Demon Onthe Hill is a nice horse too. He might be a little bit under the best, best ones, but I think we have at least four of them that could be top Grand Circuit horses." Among Melander's 2-year-olds are two high-priced female trotters, Fifty Cent Piece (who sold for $500,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale) and Bellareina Dolce ($400,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale). Both are owned by Lennart Agren's S R F Stables. Melander, the nephew of trainer Stefan Melander, came to the U.S. from Sweden less than six years ago and worked for trainer Jimmy Takter before starting his own stable in late 2014. He is based in New Egypt, N.J., at a farm that was home previously to each the legendary Stanley Dancer and Continental Farms stables. He got his first Grand Circuit win in 2016 with trotter Long Tom, who was a 2-year-old at the time. The following year, Long Tom was joined by 3-year-old Enterprise and 2-year-old Fourth Dimension in adding to Melander's Grand Circuit resume. Fourth Dimension, who was injured last year and retired, ended 2017 as the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. "We built (the stable) up, no rush really," Melander said. "The first year we had 10 horses, then 25, then 40 to 45 and now we have 60. And you get better horses. It really started that year we got Long Tom and Enterprise. They had success. And then we had Fourth Dimension. Those horses really put you on the map. "Everything has been developing great, really. I'm still developing too. I still have things to learn, it will come with age. Hopefully I've got many years left in this sport." Melander will be among the honorees at the U.S. Trotting Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet on Feb. 24 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time Trotter, Pacer and Horse of the Year will be revealed. For more information about the resort and banquet visit the U.S. Trotting Association's website.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com @harnessracenews @HarnessKenW      

HARRISBURG, PA - Marcus Melander, "to the manor born" in terms of personal harness racing pedigree, went out in 2018 and made great accomplishments with a small but talented collection of trotters, including the two dominant two-year-old colts, in the process earning the Rising Star Award in voting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Also honored by USHWA were Order By Stable (Stefan Balazsi) as Breeder of the Year, and two broodmares, trotter Southwind Serena and pacer Lady Ashlee Ann, as their gait's respective Broodmare of the Year. Marcus Melander came from a rich trotting heritage in his native Sweden, with perhaps the best-known of his family being his uncle Stefan Melander, the Hambletonian, Prix d'Amerique, and International Trot winner, and also noted for his photography as "Foto Tarzan." Upon coming to the United States, Marcus worked for Jimmy Takter, as fine an addition to a resume as one could want, and then went out on his own. 2018 was the current peak of what is likely to be many more high points in Marcus's career. His 1-2 punch in the baby trotting colt ranks were Gimpanzee, the undefeated New York Sire Stakes champion who then won his Breeders Crown and divisional honors, and Green Manalishi S, second in the Crown and like his stablemate a winner of over $500,000 in his freshman campaign. (Other members in Melander's 2019 sophomore arsenal may be Demon On The Hill, who showed great potential, mostly in Pennsylvania, and Greenshoe, a $330,000 yearling who showed promise in a brief freshman campaign.) It's not often that anybody wins a $1,000,000 race, especially a 26-year-old sending a horse out for the first time, but that's just what Melander did, getting expatriate Cruzado Dela Noche from uncle Stefan before the International Trot and then beating a group of the world's elite trotters. In another big FFA win, Crazy Wow, also recently added to the barn, turned in a 31-1 upset in the Maple Leaf Trot Final. STEFAN BALAZSI'S ORDER BY STABLE IS BREEDER OF THE YEAR Named as Breeder of the Year was the Order By Stable of Stefan Balazsi, which started in Sweden but now is one of the emerging major players on the North American breeding scene. The breeding operation produced only 30 starters "on this side" during 2018, but still ranked twelfth in terms of money won, with Order By's offspring earning $2.4 million in Canada and the U.S.. Hambletonian-winning, million-dollar earning sophomore filly Atlanta, her division's champion, certainly was the cream of the crop of Order By's produce in 2018. Not too far behind, though, was Gimpanzee, mentioned above in connection with trainer Marcus Melander, who also was a divisional champion and accounted for almost $600,000 in earnings himself. LADY ASHLEE ANN, SOUTHWIND SERENA PICKED AS TOP BROODMARES The winning broodmares shared producing a three-year-old colt who when at his best delivered blistering speed that left most of his generation behind. Lady Ashlee Ann, a daughter of Camtastic owned by Winbak Farms for more than twenty years, was the dam of pacer Courtly Choice, a son of Art Major who sped to a 1:47.1 record, emerged victorious in the Empire Breeders Classic Final, Meadowlands Pace and a thrilling Little Brown Jug, and earned over $900,000. Lady Ashlee Ann was declared a "walkover winner" by USHWA's Breeders / Broodmares Committee, so outstanding did they see the merit of her and her son. On the trotting side, Southwind Serena, a Varenne mare owned by Steve Stewart, Black Creek Farm, and Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc., was recognized because of the exploits of trotter Tactical Landing. This Muscle Hill colt, a full brother to the mercurial distaff Mission Brief, had been in the spotlight since his sale for $800,000 as a yearling, second-highest price ever, and for the better part of the next two years looked like a questionable investment. But trainer Jimmy Takter (Stefan Melander's earlier mentor) exhibited tremendous developmental patience, and entering the Hambletonian with five races lifetime and $14,000 on his card, the colt showed he "belonged" by winning his elimination and finishing third in the final. This was the igniting of a late-season surge than saw him take a mark of 1:50.2 at Lexington, sweep his Breeders Crown races, and then defeat older horses handily in the TVG Championship - while winning nearly $800,000 after the first Saturday in August. Marcus Melander, Order By Stable, Lady Ashlee Ann, Southwind Serena and their connections will be honored at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2018 will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $175, with a filet mignon dinner featured; "post times" on February 24 are cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630. Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA's website, www.ushwa.org; a link to the hotel's computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2018 journal is online at the writers' website). From the United States Harness Writers Association

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Brian Sears piloted favored Gimpanzee to a 2½ length victory in the $600,000 two-year-old Breeders Crown Colt Trot, with an effortless 1:54.4 win. Stablemate Green Manalishi S was second and longshot Hudson River finished third. Marcus Melander trains the top two finishers. Melander was very pleased with Gimpanzee, saying, "It feels great, of course. He's like an aged horse, you can do whatever you want with him in a race. He's got a lot of stamina and a lot of speed and everything went well. I thought he raced great. I couldn't be more happy with the year." "It's not over until it's over but the horse has showed up all year," added Sears. "He just knows how to do his job and got it done again tonight, figured I'd take my shot on the front." Gimpanzee got the early lead but yielded to Green Manalishi S just before the 27-second quarter mile marker. Sears had the son of Chapter Seven out and moving at the three-eighths and the race was for all intents and purposes over. He cruised through a leisurely 57.3 half mile and 1:26.3 three-quarter marks before sprinting home in 28.1, fending off a mild challenge from Green Manalishi S entering the stretch. Gimpanzee's dam is the Muscle Massive mare Steamy Windows. He finishes his two-year-old campaign with a perfect nine-for-nine record, while banking nearly $600,000. Bred by Order By Stable, he is owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, both of Delray Beach, Florida. In taking the Bill Weaver Memorial Trophy, Gimpanzee paid $3.00 to win. The Melander-trained exacta paid $12.40. by Keith Gisser, For The Breeders Crown  

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Sabine Kagebrandt came to work as the Racing Manager for Anders Ström’s Stall Courant AB, she did so on one condition. Accustomed to working with and being around harness racing horses, the former groom of Prix d’Amérique winner Gigant Neo would take the office job if she could have one horse to look after in her spare time. “I started at the office, I did all this paperwork and stuff like that, but I’m used to working with horses. If I’m going to do all this paperwork, I need one horse,” Kagebrandt said.  Ström let Kagebrandt pick any horse in his barn. Out of about 60 trotters, she selected Cruzado Dela Noche. Then a stakes-winning 3-year-old with a penchant for making breaks, Kagebrandt saw something special in the bay son of Muscle Massive. “When I started to work there, the first trip I made was when Cruzado Dela Noche was third in the Peter Haughton and then we went to Lexington, so I followed him all the time. I knew I wanted to take that horse when he came home,” she said. “First of all, he was really cute, he had a nice attitude, and he had this charisma. When you’re around him, you just get happy because he gives so much to the people around him. I really fell in love with him. He’s such a nice horse.” Cruzado Dela Noche shipped to Sweden to compete in the country’s rich 4-year-old program. Kagebrandt developed a bond with the horse while he raced in Stefan Melander’s stable, winning the Group 1 Grosser Preis Von Deutschland, the Group 1 Copenhagen Cup, and the Group 2 Norrlands Grand Prix. He also placed third in the Group 1 Sprinter Mästaren Final. However, this June, Ström began pointing Cruzado Dela Noche toward a fall campaign in the United States with a focus on the $1 million Yonkers International Trot and the Breeders Crown Open Trot. Cruzado Dela Noche shipped stateside to trainer Marcus Melander and groom Mikaela Melander in August and prepared for the International with two qualifiers at Pocono Downs in September. Being away from Cruzado Dela Noche was difficult, but Kagebrandt lessened the parting with frequent visits. “I’ve been in the States a lot, so I’ve followed him here. When he came here, I was here. Then I came here for the qualifications, so I’ve been here a little bit,” Kagebrandt said. “He was really good. He got better every qualifier he did because he needed time to be a little more in form. We tried to do the same schedule when he should do the qualification like we made with him at home. We tried to do as much the same as at home as possible.” With just two qualifiers on his card and off a June layoff, Cruzado Dela Noche started as a 30-1 outsider in the Yonkers International Trot. Still, Kagebrandt felt confident in the 6-year-old stallion and in Hall of Fame driver Brian Sears.  “Always when you race him, you know he always has a chance because he’s so strong and he has a good head and a strong will to win. He never gives up, that I knew from the beginning,” Kagebrandt said. “When he had the six hole and the other good ones had inside, then I thought it could be a little tricky. I was very confident in the horse and Brian, because he knows this track like his own pocket.” While rivals Pastore Bob and Ringostarr Treb makes breaks in stride on the opening turn and Arazi Boko forged to the lead from post eight, Sears was patient with Cruzado Dela Noche. He raced in sixth 5 ½ lengths from the top and followed Lionel on the outside behind a :28.1 opening panel. Ariana G pulled the pocket on Arazi Boko around the second turn and made the lead at the top of the backstretch, but Marion Marauder quickly ranged up to assume command in a :57.1 half-mile. The move left Lionel uncovered in third and Cruzado Dela Noche got a perfect trip in his wake. Marion Marauder led through 6-furlongs in 1:27 and a mile in 1:55.3. With a quarter-mile to race, Lionel ratcheted up the pressure, advancing to put his white-blazoned nose in front entering the final turn. Sears tipped Cruzado Dela Noche three-wide and the trio charged around the bend on even terms. Watching the action unfold from a perch in the paddock, Kagebrandt’s heart began to race as she realized her horse had a chance. Lionel put away a spent Marion Marauder at the top of the stretch as driver Gøran Antonsen snuck a peek over his right shoulder to see Cruzado Dela Noche looming. Antonsen went to the whip right-handed and implored Lionel while his gaze darted frantically between the finish line and his opponent.  Sears let the lines hang loose in his left hand and went to the stick with his right. He timed the move perfectly and Cruzado Dela Noche surged at the wire to win by a head in 2:24.3. Up And Quick shook loose late to be third while Ariana G was fourth. “We won,” Kagebrandt said as a smile crept up on her face and she let out a satisfied laugh. “Actually, we didn’t see much of the stretch. First, we thought he was going to be third, but we thought, ‘that’s OK, third is really good in the International. That’s amazing.’ Then we thought he was going to be second. We were screaming and cheering. Then we realized he actually won. They didn’t announce at first it either, so we weren’t sure if he won or not, so it was totally crazy. It was really crazy. “It means very much. To bring him over and he handled the trip and everything, I think it’s amazing. It’s a really big race,” she said. Cruzado Dela Noche’s victory in the Yonkers International Trot improved his record to 15 wins from 56 starts and boosted his earnings to $1,202,771. Cruzado Dela Noche is Sweden’s fourth representative to win the International, joining Callit, Atas Fighter L., and His Majesty. With the International under his belt, Cruzado Dela Noche will head to the Breeders Crown next and Kagebrandt will be along for the ride. “This was the first race he did here. Now I think he’s starting to get in shape. It’s going to be really nice to go to Pocono,” she said. “I love him so much.” For more information on the $1 million Yonkers International Trot, visit www.internationaltrot.com.  by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Sweden’s Cruzado Dela Noche made a three-wide move on the final turn and the 30-1 long shot was able to nip Norway’s Lionel at the wire in a dramatic photo finish by a head in winning harness racing’s $1 million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway Saturday. Driven by Brian Sears, Cruzado Dela Noche got away in sixth place as Arazi Boko (Alessandro Gocciadoro) took the early lead away from the USA’s Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) going to the first quarter in :28.2. Race favorite and Elitloppet winner, Ringostar Treb and Pastore Bob both went off-stride going for the lead on the first turn. Then Canada’s Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) came first-over and was able to clear to the lead and take the field to the half mile in :57.1 as Lionel and driver Goran Antonsen came first-over with Sears and Cruzado Dela Noche followed second over past the three-quarters in 1:27. As they came to the final turn, Sears made the big move three-wide with Cruzado Dela Notche past the mile marker in 1:27 and the three-horses raced side-by-side around the turn and then the battle began down the stretch. Marion Marauder began to tire, Lionel looked if he had the race won, but with every stride, Cruzado Dela Noche gained ground and then in the final strides to the wire, won by a head in 2:24.3. Up And Quick (Jason Bartlett) was third. A six-year-old stallion by Muscle Massive, Cruzado Dela Notche was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms in the USA and raced in the states at age two before being shipped to Sweden. He trained by Marcus Melander and is leased by Courant, Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida. He paid $62.50 to win. Also, of note is that Cruzado Dela Noche had not been in a pari-mutuel race since June 10. He did have two winning qualifying races before going in the International. “I’m just so proud and happy to be here today,” said winning driver Brian Sears. “The trip I got, I could not have drawn it up any better. Maybe I should have tipped him three deep a little earlier than I did. When I did tip out it made the 9 horse (Lionel) worked a little harder. Perhaps if I had waited until the top of the stretch my horse would have gotten to him sooner. “He just raced super,” Sears said. “He got the trip that he needed. It’s just awesome today. To win the International Trot is great. This was my fourth time in the race. You don’t get that many chances to compete at this level. To win this today is quite a thrill.” “We did the qualifiers at Pocono,” said trainer Marcus Melander. “And we really did not know if they were enough for him to get ready for this race. He showed up today in good shape. “We train our horses a lot,” Melander said. “He was use to the extra distance racing from Sweden.” Warrawee Roo and Dube take $250,000 Harry Harvey Trot With a huge three-wide move from fourth place, Warrawee Roo and driver Daniel Dube was able to collar pacesetter Gruden and go on to win the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot Saturday at Yonkers Raceway. Gruden, at 22-1, and driver Tim Tetrick grabbed the lead away from In Secret (George Brennan) to start off the seven race one and one-quarter mile race and led the field past the opening quarter in :28.1 and the half mile in :57. Yes Mickey and driver Jason Barlett had started up first-over with Warrawee Roo following the outside flow second-over as they past the three-quarters in 1:27. Then at the one-mile mark in the race at 1:56, Dube moved Warrawee Roo three-wide, clearing by Yes Mickey and then collaring Gruden as they started down the stretch. Warrawee Roo then has plenty of trot in the stretch, holding off Tap Flight Angel (Andy Miller) to win by one length in 2:25.2 with Gruden third. Winless in his last seven starts, Warrawee Roo, a five-year-old stallion by Majestic Son, posted his fourth win of the year for trainer Luc Blais and the Determination Stable of Montreal, Canada. He paid $10.60 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

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