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Joe Larry N Curly (Roll With Joe) broke the track record for harness racing two year old pacers on Thursday at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Mark Harder-trained freshman colt was the public's overwhelming betting favorite in the $73,712 New York Sire Stake race on a beautiful afternoon in the Spa City. Jim Morrill Jr. piloted the two year old pacing star and moved him to the lead going to the opening quarter. Only briefly confronted in the mile, Joe Larry N Curly was confidently piloted and well in hand at the wire while a measured one length winner in 1:53.1. The win time bested the previous mark of 1:53.3 for a freshman pacing colt set by Heston Blue Chip on the Night of Champions at Saratoga in 2011. The victory moved Joe Larry N Curly's record to five for eight in the win column for the breakout freshman star of the NY Sire Stakes who will head into next week's Night of Champions as one ofthe favorites. Harder won the other $73,712 division of the NYSS as well as his Autotune Hanover (Art Major) cruised to victory in 1:54.2 with Tyler Buter at the lines. For Autotune Hanover, it was the fourth win in eight tries on the season. Live racing continues on Friday night with first post time set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella    

Vernon, N.Y. -- An explosive :53.2 final half mile was more than enough for Travel Playlist ($4.40) to take top billing among 16 other 2-year-old harness racing pacing colts and geldings in Monday (September 7) afternoon's New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs.   Travel Playlist was unhurried early in the $55,500 first division, moving off the pegs from fifth at race's midpoint to chase Talk Show (John Campbell) after a :54.2 initial half mile.   The son of Art Major and Village Madonna steadily progressed through the far turn, taking second from a tiring Fine Diamond (Tyler Buter) through a :27.2 third quarter before subsequently mowing down Talk Show in upper stretch.   By way of a :26.4 final quarter, Travel Playlist turned in a decisive 1:49.2 victory, taking three-fifths of a second off the track record for 2-year-old pacing colts formerly held by He's Watching.   Joe Larry N Curly (Jim Morrill, Jr.) rallied late to take second, 3-1/4 lengths in arrears, while Talk Show checked in a beleaguered third.   Marcus Miller drove Travel Playlist for owner Ronald Michelon and trainer Erv Miller.   In the $56,500 second division, another son of Art Major prevailed. Autotune Hanover ($6.80) floated into midfield from a post 9 dispatch, slid second-over on the far turn to track the cover of Red Roll (John Campbell), kicking off stalled cover at head-stretch before pushing clear of a rapidly fading Skip Jive (Wally Hennessey). Autotune Hanover, by Art Major and out of Anderosa Hanover, kicked forward immediately when Tyler Buter moved him off cover, ultimately staving off the third-over Endeavor (Patrick Lachance) to win in 1:51.2.   Trainer Mark Harder co-owns Autotune Hanover with Rick Phillips, Deena Frost, and Peter Venturini.   Live racing at Vernon Downs shifts to a schedule of Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings for the remainder of September and the entirety of October. Post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

A strong group of rookie pacers will arrive at the harness racing meeting at Mohawk Racetrack this Saturday (August 22) to contest the Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation Stakes. The Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation serve as final preps for the Metro Pace and Shes A Great Lady Stakes eliminations on Saturday, August 29. A total of 21 two-year-old pacing colts and geldings have been split into three $78,334 divisions of the Nassagaweya. The first division features Ontario Sires Stakes standout Voracity (PP2, Randy Waples). The Tony Alagna trainee recently suffered his first defeat by a nose, but brings a record of two wins from three starts into Saturday's contest. A son of Sportswriter, Voracity scored both of his victories in OSS Gold action and is the richest horse in this year's Nassagaweya with $113,750 banked. Also in the first split is the speedy Steve Elliott trainee Talk Show (PP1, Jack Moiseyev). The son of Art Major also has two wins from three starts and sports a mark of 1:52.1 taken in his career debut at The Meadowlands. The second division features the undefeated colt Control The Moment (PP5, Randy Waples). The Brad Maxwell trainee will be making his first start since winning the Dream Maker series final on August 3 and improving to a perfect four for four to start his career. Control The Moment is a son of 2009 Pepsi North America Cup winner Well Said. The third and final split will be highlighted by New Jersey Sires Stakes champion Ideal Rocky (PP1, Andrew McCarthy). The son of Rocknroll Hanover is trained by John Butenschoen and has a record of three wins from five starts for earnings of $75,000. Ideal Rocky won his most recent start on August 7 at The Meadowlands in 1:52.4 with a :26.1 final-quarter. The Nassagaweya has an impressive list of past winners, including Artsplace, Presidential Ball, Real Desire, Mach Three, Sportswriter, Big Jim and Captaintreacherous. Artpseak, who won a division last year, went on to win the 2014 Metro Pace. The Nassagaweya divisions will be contested as Races 2, 4 and 10 on Saturday's 12-race card. A group of 15 rookie pacing fillies have been split into two divisions of the Eternal Camnation Stakes. The $110,631 first division will see a field of seven line up and features three OSS Gold winners. Twin B Thong (PP1, Steve Condren), Thatsoveryverynice (PP3, Jody Jamieson) and Thisorthat Hanover (PP4, Randy Waples) have all tasted success at the top level locally and will look for their first Grand Circuit victory. Blue Moon Stride (PP2, Andrew McCarthy), the New Jersey Sires Stakes champion, will also line up in the first split. The Mark Harder trainee enters the Eternal Camnation with a record of four wins from five starts and earnings of just under $110,000. Blue Moon Stride suffered her only loss in her career debut. A field of eight will contest the $112,130 second division and the Bob McIntosh trainee L A Delight (PP5, Randy Waples) will put her five-race win streak on the line. A daughter of Bettors Delight, L A Delight has built up an impressive resume with victories in two OSS Gold events and the final of the Whenuwishuponastar series. The McIntosh trainee, who suffered her only loss in her career debut, has compiled a bankroll of $105,080. Similar to the Nassagaweya, the Eternal Camnation Stakes has a strong group of past winners, including last year's Horse of the Year JK Shesalady. The Eternal Camnation splits have been carded as Races 3 and 9. Post time Saturday evening is 7:25 p.m. Here are the full fields for the Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation Stakes. PP/Horse/Sire/Driver/Trainer Nassagaweya - Division 1 - Race 2 1. Talk Show (Art Major) - J. Moiseyev - S. Elliott 2. Voracity (Sportswriter) - Ra. Waples - T. Alagna 3. Heavymetal Hanover (Up The Credit) - M. Saftic - J. Darling 4. Blayde Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere) - S. Filion - T. O'Sullivan 5. Bottom Deals (American Ideal) - S. Condren - L. Toscano 6. Carter Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) - J. Jamieson - C. Jamieson 7. Adrian Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere) - L. Ouellette - W. Cass Nassagaweya - Division 2 - Race 4 1. Rock Power (Rocknroll Hanover) - S. Filion - T. O'Sullivan 2. Inspiration View (Shadow Play) - A. McCarthy - M. Harder 3. Racing Hill (Roll With Joe) - Ra. Waples - T. Alagna 4. Manny (American Ideal) - J. Jamieson - H. Okusko Jr. 5. Control The Moment (Well Said) - Ra. Waples - B. Maxwell 6. Real Kid (Real Desire) - D. McNair - L. Ainsworth 7. American Passport (American Ideal) - J. Jamieson - T. Alagna Nassagaweya - Division 3 - Race 10 1. Ideal Rocky (Rocknroll Hanover) - A. McCarthy - J. Butenschoen 2. Rodeo Rock (Rock N Roll Heaven) - Ra. Waples - D. Swick 3. Mindtrip (American Ideal) - J. Jamieson - T. Alagna 4. Sossys King Kong (Dragon Again) - D. McNair - R. Norman 5. The Catamount Kid (Well Said) - J. Jamieson - C. Jamieson 6. Cruise Patrol (Bettors Delight) - S. Filion - J. Takter 7. Max Is Back (Somebeachsomewhere) - P. MacDonell - P. MacDonell   Eternal Camnation - Division 1 - Race 3 1. Twin B Thong (Sportswriter) - S. Condren - C. Coleman 2. Blue Moon Stride (Rocknroll Hanover) - A. McCarthy - M. Harder 3. Thatsoveryverynice (Vintage Master) - J. Jamieson - T. Alagna 4. Thisorthat Hanover (Sportswriter) - Ra. Waples - J. Dean 5. Three Dreams (Mach Three) - J. MacDonald - J. Bamond Jr. 6. Betty Hill (Bettors Delight) - J. MacDonald - C. Auciello 7. JK Fannie (Rocknroll Hanover) - S. Filion - N. Johansson Eternal Camnation - Division 2 - Race 9 1. Darlinonthebeach (Somebeachsomewhere) - S. Filion - N. Johansson 2. Peg (Dragon Again) - Ph. Hudon - J. Dean 3. Stonebridge Pearl (Mach Three) - TBA - G. McNair 4. Shes Lights Out (Somebeachsomewhere) - P. MacDonell - K. Sucee 5. L A Delight (Bettors Delight) - Ra. Waples - R. McIntosh 6. Keystone Paula (Bettors Delight) - S. Filion - E. Miller 7. Show Time Hill (Rocknroll Hanover) - Ra. Waples - T. Alagna 8. Bernadette (Big Jim) - J. Jamieson - M. Steacy Mark McKelvie  

It was downstate statebred rookie initiation Thursday night, with the harness racing meeting at Yonkers Raceway hosting the $153,024 New York Sire Stakes Jim Meagher Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. The event, which honored the memory of the Raceway's long-time corporate controller, went in two divisions of $76,512 each. The first event saw odds-on number Autotune Hanover (Tyler Buter, $2.80), fresh from his win in the final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard pace here a dozen nights ago, have no issues whatsoever. Leaving from post position No. 5, he took a brief seats before working past Fine Diamond (George Brennan) right at a :28.2 opening quarter-mile. From there, intervals of :58.2, 1:28 and 1:56.2 gave him a 2¼-length victory of that pocket-sitting foe. Beaches De Vie (Pat Lachance) rallied for third at 101-1, with Carlos Danger (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Cenovis (Scott Zeron) completing the cashers. For Autotune Hanover, an Art Major colt co-owned by (trainer) Mark Harder, Peter Paul Venturini, Deena Frost and Rick Phillips, it was his second win in four career starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $8.30, with the triple returning $203.50. "It was interesting in the first turn," Butter said. "Andy (Miller's) colt (Redneck Rally) looked awfully hot and eventually made a break, so I just took my time." "My horse seems more mature as he goes along, but he didn't have to go nearly as fast as his did (1:54.3) in his last start." Thursday night's second Meagher grouping had Travel Playlist (Miller, $14.20) have to wait his turn to get the lead, then refuse to relinquish. In play early from post No. 7, he gave Red Roll (Jason Bartlett) and 9-10 fave Joe Larry N Curly (Morrill Jr.) first cracks at glory. Travel Playlist made the lead passing the :28.4 opening quarter-mile, then rated a very soft :59.1 intermission. He then closed the sale with a 1:28.3 three-quarters and eight furlongs in 1:56.1. Joe Larry N Curly dove inside but missed a half-length, with Endeavor (Lachance), Red Roll and Roll with Fred (Brian Sears) grabbing the remainder. For third choice Travel Playlist, an Art Major colt owned by Ronald Michelin and trained by Erv Miller, he's now 2-for-2 to begin his career. The exacta paid $56, the triple returned $705 and the superfecta paid $6,168. The Raceway's live season continues Friday and Saturday nights (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 18, 2015 - After a couple of starts failing to grasp the "left foot, right foot" concept, Autotune Hanover (Tyler Buter, $12) picked a good night to have a good night. The $120,000 son of Art Major turned in a solid, maiden-breaking effort Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $107,500 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. It's the Raceway's premier "open" stakes event for first-season pacers. Winning the draw in the field of seven colts and a lone (Artmagic) gelding, "Autotune" stung 7-10 favorite Tailgunner Hanover (Ray Schnittker) a bit. Artmagic (Mark MacDonald), a 57-1 outsider, was also put in play early, resulting in a spiffy, 27-second opening quarter-mile. "Tailgunner," one of two elimination winners a week ago, continued through a rated, :29.4 next subsection (:56.4 half). He took the gang down the backside before Autotune Hanover made his move. It was decisive. Autotune Hanover rolled from third, getting past the non-resisting fave at the 1:26.1 three-quarters. He then opened a length-and-three-quarters turning for home, only to widen from there. His closest pursuers had interesting trips. Do Over Hanover (Jason Bartlett), also an elim winner, was done no favors from the eight-hole and was out the entire mile. Rodeo Rock (Dan Dube), jammed in be the half while a handful to handle, extricated himself and appeared to impede Gleneagles (George Brennan). Autotune Hanover's final margin was four lengths in 1:54.3, second-fastest Sheppard ever (Hail the Taxi's 1:54.1 in 2012). Rodeo Rock edged past "Do Over" for second, then survived an inquiry to stay there. War-N-Munn (Eric Goodell) and Endeavor (Pat Lachance) completed the cashers, while Artmagic, Tailgunner Hanover and Gleneagles rounded out the order. For third choice Autotune Hanover, co-owned by (trainer) Mark Harder, Peter Paul Venturini, Deena Frost and Rick Phillips, it was that first win in three career starts. The exacta paid $71, with the triple returning $387. "Mark (Harder) just told me to drive him with confidence," Buter said. "Last week (in elims), he went a bit sideways, but as soon as he hit the track tonight, he felt completely different. Mark said he changed some things up, and he was much better. "These are 2-year-olds, after all." Saturday's pair of $48,000 Open Handicaps were won by eight-holers... --(Trot), Melady's Monet (Bartlett, $5) in 1:53.3, fastest local mile of the season; --(Pace) Great Vintage (Dube, $10) in 1:51.1. The Raceway's live season continues Monday night (first post at 7:10 PM), featuring the $147,723 New York Sire Stakes Clyde Hirt Pace (2-year-old fillies). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

Queensland’s young dynamic harness racing driving duo, Brittany Graham and Trent Moffat will proudly fly the Australian flag when they experience racing in the United States over the next month. The inaugural winners of the Centenary Classic Mercedes Benz Young Achievers Award will spend one month with highly successful veteran expat Aussie trainer Ross Croghan in the US. Graham (19) and Moffat (22) will don the Aussie green and gold driving suits and boxing kangaroo green and gold helmets at every promotional opportunity whilst overseas. Racing Queensland will publicly present the driver colours to Graham and Moffat this Saturday at Albion Park. Queensland’s young guns organizer Kevin Seymour said he has been busily organizing contacts overseas so the young drivers can experience as much US racing as they can during their month long stay. “The racing authorities at the Meadowlands  are helping us out where they can and I have been in touch with my contacts to ensure the kids get to experience as much as possible while they are there,” Seymour said. Graham and Moffat will leave Brisbane on 28 June and fly to New York via Los Angeles. They will start the trek home on 24 July with a three day fun stopover in LA where they will visit Universal Hollywood Studios and Disneyland. Croghan, the young drivers mentor in the US is originally from Luddenham, near Penrith in New South Wales. The US champion was born into harness racing, following in the footsteps of his father, the late Noel Croghan. His entry to the US began on the West Coast and Croghan racked up nine driving titles before he decamped for New Jersey in the 1990s. Since then, he has ranked among the top trainers in Meadowlands history with over 1,000 wins in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Croghan has four Big M training titles to his credit (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007) and holds the record for most starters in one season with 717 in 1999. He has a lengthy list of standouts to his credit, and his top trainees have included millionaire trotter Corleone Kosmos, Tug River Princess, Carolina Sunshine, Laughandbehappy, BJ’s Whirlwind, Mister Goal, Ultimate Falcon, Spendid Splinter and Artist Stena. Croghan also has a good record as a teacher of the trade and he has mentored some of the sport’s top training talents. His former assistants include Brett Pelling, the Meadowlands’ all-time leading money winner and Mark Harder. David Aldred  

Harnes racing trainer driver Ake Svandstedt sent three horses to the post Friday night at The Meadowlands. His trio won all three of their starts. First, the second race, a trot carrying a non-winners of 2 condition went to Annapolis. Allowed to sit a pocket trip through fractions of 28, 56.4 and 1:26, Tim Tetrick guided his three year old filly up the pylons in the stretch where she sprinted past pace-setter Maximus Deo, who would fade to third, to score a decisive victory in 1:55 at odds of 6-1. Oneida rallied for the runner-up spot. It was the first of two victories on the card for driver Tim Tetrick. Annapolis is owned by Green Acquisition Corporation. On the heels of Annapolis was Dreams Of Thunder, sent to the post at 4-1 with Matt Kakaley in the third race C-2 Trot for Svanstedt. Just like Annapolis before him, he turned a perfect pocket trip into an easy victory in 1:55.1. The win also sparked a daily double for owners Green Acquisition Corporation. Svanstedt had to wait until the 11th race for his third start of the night, but Blixtra was worth the wait. Leaving hard from post 10 with Tim Tetrick, Blixtra made the lead through fractions of 27.2, 56 and 1:24.1 with Empress Deo in hot pursuit right behind her in the pocket. Turning for home, the even money favorite and the second choice, Empress Deo kicked away from the field and hooked up in a stretch duel where Empress Deo just could not get her nose in front of a game Blixtra as the favorite hung on in a lifetime best 1:51.3. Blixtra is owned by Courant A B and gave Tim Tetrick his third winner of the night. The dice came up 10 early and often at The Meadowlands on Friday evening. In fact, four of the first six winners donned the number 10 saddle pad and five overall. One of which came in the sixth race, $16,000 B-2 Trot with Lindy's Tru Grit who graduated from his C-1 victory in style with a repeat win at the B-2 level at 8-1. The race was hotly-contested with a speed duel through opening fractions of 26.4 and 55.2 with Here Comes Numbers and Cocotier battling on the lead. Modest Prince was launched three-wide on the far turn, with War Cry Hall just off his helmet. But, it was Lindy's Tru Grit, stacked up fourth over through three-quarters of 1:24.1 who accelerated dramatically in the stretch and mowed down the field, drawing clear to win in a lifetime mark of 1:52.2. The winner was driven by Andy Miller for his wife Julie Miller and owned by Lindy Racing Stable and Robert Rudolph. The other $16,000 B-2 Trot belonged to a drop and pop winner, named Il Mago. Asserting himself early in the mile, Il Mago established fractions of 28, 57 and 1:26.1 before powering away in the stretch to win impressively in 1:54.1. The class drop paid dividends for the 2-1 favorite and driver Scott Zeron. Il Mago is trained by Mark Harder who co-owns the five year old son of Kadabra along with Chris Alexander Stables Inc. Dave Miller also had a big night, winning five races on the Friday card, including four of the last seven races. The fifth race Jackpot Super Hi-5 was hit for $12,101. That pool will start fresh on Saturday. The 13th race Jackpot Super Hi-5 will carry over into the Saturday program. That carryover now stands at $17,867. The 13-race Friday program sported a handle of $2,737,008. Racing resumes on Saturday with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC

She might be best known for once bursting through a gaggle of geese on her way to victory at The Meadows, but co-owner Howard Taylor hopes that by the end of the season people recognize Southwind Roulette for her talent. Southwind Roulette, who has won five of seven starts this year, races in the third of three Historic-Debutante Stakes divisions at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday. Her victories include the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and her $284,448 in purses rank No. 2 to undefeated JK She'salady among 2-year-old female pacers. "She's a really nice filly," said Taylor, who owns Southwind Roulette with Brad Grant. "She's real long gaited. If you watch her stride, she really reaches out. "And she wins," he added with a laugh. "And she wins a lot of money. There's nothing not to like about her." The first division of the Historic-Debutante Stakes includes stakes-winner Ideal Nuggets. Southwind Roulette's split also includes New York Sire Stakes championship runner-up Bossers Joy. Southwind Roulette is a daughter of 2008 Horse of the Year Somebeachsomewhere out of the stakes-winning mare Southwind Rio. She was purchased as a yearling for $30,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale. She started the year with trainer Doug Lewis before moving to the barn of Ron Burke in July. "I have a friend who has a real good eye for yearlings, Mike Hall," Taylor said. "Mike picked her out. He always finds holes in the sale, cheap horses for the breeding. He found her and told me I should buy her." Southwind Roulette began her career by winning a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars and then finished third in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. In her next start at The Meadows, in another PaSS division, she and driver Yannick Gingras won despite having to go through a gaggle of geese on the track just prior to the final turn. "I talked to Doug afterward and told him I didn't believe what I saw there," Taylor said. "He told me that the farm they're on has geese. She'd seen that before and gone through them before, so she didn't think anything of it. Of all the horses in the race, she's probably the only one that would have done that. Yannick said she didn't even bat an eye. He was worried, but she wasn't." Southwind Roulette followed that win with two more victories in the preliminary rounds of the sire stakes before capturing the championship on Sept. 6 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. She enters the Historic-Debutante after a seventh-place finish in a division of the Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes at Hoosier Park, where she got parked in an opening :25.3 quarter-mile. "Other than that, she's been super," Taylor said. "We have hopes for the Breeders Crown. That's all you can ask for at this point in the year, that you're still going strong and you've got a shot to get the brass ring." GOLD CORA HOPES TO GLITTER IN ACORN After finishing second to Jolene Jolene and Mission Brief in back-to-back world-record miles, Gold Cora's connections might wonder: Who will it be this time? "I hope if anybody it would be us," trainer Rich Gillock said with a laugh. "It seems we're getting good at getting into those kinds of races. That's pretty tough sledding. "But I'm not complaining. I'm happy to be second in those kinds of races." Gold Cora races Thursday in the second of four Historic-Acorn Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters at Harrah's Philadelphia. She will start from post No. 1 with driver Tim Tetrick and is the 8-5 morning line favorite. A daughter of stallion Encore Encore out of the mare Striking Gold K, Gold Cora has won three of 11 races and $94,098 for breeder/owner Bob Key. Gillock trained both of Gold Cora's parents and Tetrick drove Encore Encore, who won a division of the Bluegrass Stakes and finished second to Federal Flex in the 2008 Valley Victory. "This filly has come along and she's been improving as the year progresses," Gillock said. "Hopefully we can get a piece of the pie every time and it will add up." Gold Cora went off stride in consecutive starts in August, but since then has been a steady performer. "I had to regroup with her and rig her a little differently," Gillock said. "She had a few little issues going on, just little things that were factors, and we got them squared away." Gold Cora has two wins, two seconds and a third in her last five races. Her victories came in divisions of the Reynolds Stakes at Tioga Downs and the Kindergarten Series at The Red Mile. Her remaining three on-the-board finishes during that span came in record-setting races. She finished third in a division the Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes at Hoosier Park, where Speak To Me established the track mark for 2-year-old female trotters with a 1:55.2 victory. Next, at The Red Mile, Gold Cora finished second to Jolene Jolene in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes in a 1:52.1 mile that equaled the world record. A week later, she was second to Mission Brief in a division of the International Stallion Stakes in the fastest-ever mile by a 2-year-old trotter, 1:50.3. "We stayed up tight (in the Kentuckiana) and she hadn't gone those kinds of fractions before and she just didn't get home any," Gillock said. "It was just the way that race went; it took a toll on the majority of them except the horse that won. But I think that stretched her out a little and I hope she'll keep going forward." Following the Historic-Acorn Stakes, Gold Cora could go to Canada for the Goldsmith Maid or to Vernon Downs for the final preliminary round of the Kindergarten Series. "We'll see how we do at (Philly) and go from there," Gillock said. Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Wild Honey is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the first division of the Historic-Acorn Stakes. The Jimmy Takter-trainee has won seven consecutive starts since losing her debut by a head to Gatka Hanover. In September, she trotted the fastest mile in history by a 2-year-old trotter on a half-mile racetrack, winning in 1:55.2 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. Takter's Shaqline, who is coming off second-place finishes in divisions of the International Stallion and Kentuckiana Stallion Management stakes, is the 8-5 choice in the third division. Jersey Strong, trained by Mark Harder, is the 8-5 favorite in the fourth and final division. She finished second to Wild Honey in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Trainer Tony Alagna hopes Rare Gift delivered a special present in the form of 2-year-old colt trotter Gifted Way. Gifted Way, a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Rare Gift, was purchased for $170,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale. Gifted Way makes his third start Friday in the single elimination for the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. The colt is owned by Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco, Little E LLC, and Deo Volente Farms. Gifted Way is part of a four-horse entry in the Haughton elim, along with Jimmy Takter-trained Special Action, The Bank, and Uncle Lasse. The group is 3-5 on the morning line. Rounding out the horses in the elim, from which the top seven finishers advance to the $280,000 estimated final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, are Ake Svanstedt's Centurion ATM and Amicus, Ray Schnittker's Broken Record, Erv Miller's SS Poseidon, Nancy Johansson's Cruzado Dela Noche, and Mark Harder's True Blue Stride. Three horses received byes to the final: Takter's Canepa Hanover, Nik Drennan's Guess Whos Back, and Jim Campbell's Honor And Serve. Gifted Way won his debut, a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars, on July 4 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He went off stride at the start in his second race, which was won by Canepa Hanover, on July 18 at the Meadowlands. "He's a nice colt," Alagna said. "When the gate left the other night, he just got off on the wrong foot and made a break, which he hadn't done before. He trotted good after making the break, came out of the race fine, and trained back good [Tuesday]. I think we're set for the elimination on Friday night." Gifted Way is Rare Gift's fourth foal, and first by Cantab Hall, who was the sport's leading trotting sire in 2012 and 2013. Rare Gift is a full sister to stakes-winner Stand Strong and a three-quarter-sister to 1996 Horse of the Year Continentalvictory and stakes-winner Victory Abroad. "The family has been a little stagnant, but this was by far the best colt the mare had thrown," Alagna said. "He's very correct. He was very athletic in the paddock. He just had everything going for him. "Cantab Hall has just been red hot the last couple years, so we thought we would take a shot. We're glad we did. I think he was the right horse." Gifted Way is not the only horse in the Haughton elim with well-known relatives. Uncle Lasse is a full brother to Shake It Cerry, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old filly trotter and a top contender in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks, and Broken Record is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. Special Action's family includes 2006 Hambletonian winner Glidemaster and The Bank's dam is millionaire Lantern Kronos. Friday's card also features two eliminations for the Merrie Annabelle Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters and the second round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

After watching Bee A Magician put together an 18-race win streak that began at age 2 and covered her entire 3-year-old season, harness racing fans wanted to know what was wrong with the 2013 Horse of the Year as she went winless in her first four starts this season. Not much, says trainer Nifty Norman, other than the fact that winning is difficult. "Lots of people have said to me that she's been no good, but only once really," Norman said. "Her first start was a great run, [second in 1:51.3] right off the bat and she had trot finishing. We kind of raced her easy in her second start and she was second; she was a little bit flat. Then she was sick, but she's been good again ever since. "People just expect her to win," he added with a chuckle. "It's not that easy; I wish it was. But I think she's been pretty solid." Bee A Magician, owned by Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee, returned to her winning ways with a world-record 1:51.1 triumph July 12 in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series at Meadowlands Racetrack. She now holds the records for fastest 3-year-old (1:51) and 4-year-old female trotters in history. She will try to make it two victories in a row when she meets six rivals in Friday's second leg of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Bee A Magician and regular driver Brian Sears will start from post one. The rest of the field in post order is Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, NF Happenstance, Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, and Classic Martine. Handover Belle won the Ima Lula's first round on July 18 by a half-length over Ma Chere Hall in 1:51.4. The $55,000 estimated final is Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day. Bee A Magician -- who has won 28 of 35 career races, finished second on four occasions, and earned $2.45 million -- was eligible to the John Cashman Jr. Memorial, but the mare's connections decided against facing the boys. She raced against her male counterparts in the Hambletonian Maturity on July 5, finishing second to Your So Vain. "I want to race her as easy as I can," Norman said. "I'll consider racing those horses again later in the year maybe, but not right now. You can't be too tough on them. You see some of the other 4-year-olds that have come back and are not what they were. It's a tough thing to do because most of them have laid it all on the line last year." As it is, racing against the mares is difficult enough. "It's a tough division; very solid," Norman said, adding about her 1:51.1 win in the most recent Miss Versatility round, "It was a good race. She didn't jog, it was a good race." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

R I P Tony Chiaravalle. He owned the 1993 Pace winner Presidential Ball and was the original owner of the third place finisher that year Riyadh. R I P Matts Scooter-1988 Meadowlands Pace winner-sire of Mach Three 2002 Pace winner. Grandsire of Somebeachsomewhere-THE most prohibitive Pace favorite of the 21st century/ R I P Joe Muscara. He owned the 2002 Pace winner Mach Three and his Muscara Trust co-owns elim divisional winner He's Watching, one of the favorites in this Saturday's race.   $776,000 Pace Purse. Not counting the two years with a supplemental entry, (2000 and 2008), this is the first time since 1990 that the purse is at least $100G higher than the previous year: 1989 $852,000 Dexter Nukes 1990 $1,153,500 Beach Towel   Sire Well Said looks to do-with two chances-what has been done SEVEN TIMES in Meadowlands Pace history. Win the Pace with his first crop. (Sometimes Said, Tellitlikeitis) 1984 Happy Motoring sired On The Road Again 1985 Niatross sired Nihilator 1997 Artsplace sired Dream Away 1998 Life Sign sired Day In A Life 2005 Western Ideal sired Rocknroll Hanover 2008 Art Major sired Art Official 2013 Somebeachsomewhere sired Captaintreacherous   If you're betting either He's Watching or Luck Be Withyou, you have recent history on your side. Tim Tetrick and Ron Pierce have won 6 of the last 7 editions of the Meadowlands Pace, THE most dominant TWO-driver run in the races 37 year history. (Of those 6 wins between them, 3 each, 4 of those 6 were NOT favored)   Ron Burke will try and do what has been done THREE TIMES before. Be the Leading trainer at the Meadowlands for the meet AND win the Meadowlands Pace. J K Endofanera 1993 and 1994 Bill Robinson did it with Presidential Ball and Cams Card Shark 1997 Brett Pelling did it with Dream Away 2004 Mark Harder did it with Holborn Hanover, who was 2-22 lifetime coming into the race and lit up the board at 58-1   "MILLER TIME?" Maybe. There are three driving "MIllers" in the race-Dave and Brett and Marcus. That doesn't even count trainer Erv. The first ever TRAINER named Miller to be in the Pace-as well as the first ever drive-BOTH finished 3rd. Del Miller trainer 3rd 1980 Tyler B Jim Miller driver 1979 3rd with Tijuana Taxi   THROWBACK TIME? Some Pace participants in 2014 were prominent at the Meadowlands in the 1980s. Val D'Or Farms (Always B Miki) 3 times made a 1980s Pace final. 4th with Masquerade in 1986, 7th and 11th with Ringaleevio and Paladium Lobell in the 1988 edition Steve Elliott was 10th with Souffle in the 1986 final of the Pace, and was 3rd and then 2nd in the 1988 and 1989 Trainer Standings here Joe Holloway won FOUR races at the Meadowlands in the 1970s-including twice with a pacer named Pentagon as a DRIVER. In the 1980s, Joe became the first ever Meadowlands trainer to win as many as 106 races in a singe meet-1988 Jim Campbell was the 1989 Meadowlands Training Leader. He also started in the Pace with a pair in 1987-3rd with Run The Table and 12th with Dictionary   Peter Blood is one of the owners of Doo Wop Hanover. As a trainer here-he was second in the 1988 Wilson-the LAST one to go for $1 Million-with Nukes Image to Kassa Branca. The following year, he went 1-2 in the Wilson conso.   Pierce Pace Potpourri Ron Pierce drove the shortest priced Pace winner of the new millennium-$2.80 Well Said 2009. Ron Pierce UPENDED the shortest priced Pace STARTER of the new millennium-Somebeachsomewhere-10 cents on the dollar-in 2008 with Art Official. (Art Official-incidentally-sold as a $4,000 WEANLING at a Meadowlands January sale)   NUMBERS 17 of the 37 Pace winners were sired by a horse who himself raced in the Pace final. ONLY ONE-Real Desire is the ONLY horse to win $3 Million-be Horse Of The Year and win the Meadowlands Pace and NOT be in the Hall Of Fame ONLY ONE Pace winner won from the second tier-On The Road Again 1984 Post 12 THREE Homebreds in the Pace final field. The 2013 Hambletonian had three homebreds win all three eliminations and then the final. Creatine, Smilin Eli and Royalty For Life 20-1 or better-Tellitlikeitis will surely be one of the longshots in the 2014 Pace final field. Rarer than rare for the North America Cup FAVORITE-ALSO the Meadowlands Pace elimination FAVORITE, to be an also-ran in the wagering in the Pace final. FIVE catch-drivers have gone into the Hall Of Fame the past TWO decades. Only five.   ANNIVERSARY 23 years to the day of Precious Bunny winning the 1991 Meadowlands Pace. July 12, 1991. That marked the first time in history a horse won TWO million $ races in the same year (Nihilator did it in 1984 and 1985) John Campbell drove him in the North America Cup to victory, but opted off for Artsplace in the Pace final and Jack Moiseyev won with the Cam Fella colt. HOY. It was also the first of four STRAIGHT Pace winners for Cam Fella as a stallion-ironic when you consider that Cam Fella finished his career 57 straight times on the board-the last time he MISSED the board? 1982 Meadowlands Pace elimination!! 7th   Ron Pierce is on top in North America in $$$. 58 Years of age. This stat is especially interesting when you consider that-in 2006-he was and is the ONLY 50 Years Old to EVER lead the way, and now at 58 is threatening to do the same   Golden Receiver's barn change-AFTER winning $2 Million-brings back memories of possibly the two greatest horses to ever undergo a barn change. Seatttle Slew and Artsplace.   WIDE OPEN PACE?-2013 TOLD US EXACTLY THAT Many live candidates to win the 2014 Meadowlands Pace. And why not. In 2013-the LEADING 2 YO colt pacing earner made $390G-Arthur Blue Chip. This marked the first time since 1977 that the leading $$-winning freshman pacing colt did NOT have at least $400G on his card. No No Yankee had $211G in 1977 (Ironically-the FIRST year of the Pace)   Dave Miller-John Campbell Dave Miller-6 days after entering the Hall Of Fame, hopes to do what only John Campbell has done prior. Go into the Hall Of Fame and win either the Hambletonian or the Meadowlands Pace the SAME year. 1990-John Hambo Harmonious. Dave handles Always B Miki   IF Marcus Miller wins the Meadowlands Pace-he WILL become the YOUNGEST driver ever to do so. Tetrick also did it at 25 in 2007 with Southwind Lynx, Marcus a few months younger.   Canadian Influence 5 of the 6 inside posts in the 2014 Meadowlands Pace have Canadian ownership. 6 of the first 12 Meadowlands Pace winners (1977-1986) had Canadian ownership.   "Hall" Pass-OOPS Pace Five of the first 10 winners of the Meadowlands Pace had trainers who were Hall Of Famers. BUT-only ONE of the last 27 training winners of the Meadowlands Pace did it. Ray Remmen 1990 Beach Towel. Jimmy Takter has two shots at ending that 24 year 0-fer.   Coyne-Operated Ron Coyne (National Debt) has been in the Pace before. 1999 with Washington VC. 8th. That colt then sired a $3 Million career earner by the name of Themightyquinn   If either John Campbell or Ron Pierce win the Meadowlands Pace, they will be the oldest to do so. 59 and 58. Cat Manzi at 56 in 2006 with Artistic Fella currently holds than distinction.   Steve Elliott is the ONLY trainer in the 2014 Meadowlands Pace field who has won this race before. And he did it twice. 2006 and 2009. There are only two trainers in Meadowlands Pace history who have won the Pace multiple times and were FAVORED in all of their wins: Elliott, Billy Haughton  Billy Did it with Falcon Almhurst in 1978-9/5 choice over eventual HOY Abercrombie-and with Nihilator at 1-9 in 1985 heading a prohibitive 5 horse entry.   "Starter" Kit NO 2014 Pace finalist has more than 8 starts in 2014. Yet 16 of the first 24 Meadowlands Pace winners had at LEAST NINE starts on the season entering the Pace final.   Jimmy Takter (Tellitlikeitis and Lyonssomewhere) will try and do what Brett Pelling did last. Go 1-2 in the Pace. Pelling did it with Rocknroll Hanover in 2005 and Village Jolt second.   He's Watching's June 13 foaling date would be THE latest ever for any Meadowlands Pace winner. (TWO of the more famous JUNE foals of all time used to be stablemates-Art Major and McArdle)   SLOW STARTS? NO PROBLEM IN THE PACE Your year isn't going the greatest going INTO the Meadowlands Pace? This doesn't mean a whole lot-or at least it didn't to these brand names: 2001 Real Desire 1 for 5 going into the Pace 2000 Gallo Blue Chip 5 for 10 entering the Pace 2010 One More Laugh 2 for 6 going into the Pace 1988 Matts Scooter Just 2 for 9 entering the Pace (NOTE-the 2 YO Champion (He's Watching 2-5)-and the 2YO Breeders Crown winner (Luck Be With You 1-5)-are a combined 3/10 entering the 2014 Pace)   The "OUTSIDERS?" The three outside horses in the Pace were all sired by a Pace favorite: Post 8 Sometimes Said (Well Said 2009) Post 9 Always B Miki (Always A Virgin 2007) Post 10 Doo Wop Hanover (Rocknroll Hanover 2005)   Takter's Pace Breakthrough? NO Trainer in the 21st century who's campaigned a Horse Of The Year has made it to the Hall Of Fame. Jimmy Takter is the last trainer to do both-having won the HOY titles in 1997-1998-1999. Bob McIntosh went into the Hall Of Fame in 2002-and a full decade later-won his first MILLION $ race going 1-3 in the 2012 NA Cup. Jimmy Takter is looking for his very first Pace score. Ron Burke just scored his first Million $ win taking the NA Cup with J K Endofanera.   The Two oldest drivers to hit the board in the Meadowlands Pace? 1978 Joe O'Brien 59-thid with Flight Director 1982 Billy Haughton 58 3rd with McKinzie Almahurst John Campbell is 59 and Ron Pierce 58   Campbell-Meadowlands Pace-Post 10 The man is amazing. Post 10 in the Meadowlands Pace in 2014 with Doo Wop Hanover. His history from post 10 in the Pace is almost beyond belief. ALL of the following are from Post 10-IN The Meadowlands Pace: 1982 Hilarion winner-first ever catch-driver to win a Million $$ race. 1997 At Point Blank second at 14-1 the colt was WINLESS (0-15) on the year!! 1999 The Panderosa got post 10 initially-AND on the redraw-and still dominated with a 26 flat final quarter in 1:49.3-then a record mile in the Pace and thus becoming the first horse ever to win TWO million $$ races BOTH in sub 1:50) 2004 3rd with Metropolitan from post 10 2007 third with Artriverderci from post 10. 5 different trainers from post 10-five times on the board. Consider that in the other 30 times any driver raced in the Pace from post 10-combined-those drivers were 3-30 ON THE BOARD!   OTHER Post 10 notes...... Dave Miller's Pace debut-1995-Cinder Lane Sam came from post 10-5th-flying home in 26.1.....Pat Crowe drove exactly once in the Pace-from post 10-in 1984 12th with a colt by the name of Greener Pastures.....Brett Pelling made his Pace debut in 1993 from post 10 (No check)....Pinocchio raced in the Pace-from post 10 for Neal Shapiro...   15 times in history the Meadowlands Pace winner has been THAT YEAR'S Leading $$ winner among ALL Pacers.(MOST common of any race of the leaders)   Just HOW tough is it to WIN The Meadowlands Pace? This stat might tell it best. The last THREE Triple Crown winners in the sport-NONE of those three finished first OR second in the Meadowlands Pace!! 2003 No Pan Intended 4th 1999 Blissful Hall 7th 1997 Western Dreamer 3rd   Who are the three richest ever horses to have participated in the Meadowlands Pace final and NOT gotten a check? Boulder Creek $3,425,853 8th 2003 Red Bow Tie $2,673,920 9th 1997 Western Hanover $2,541,647 7th 1992   Super Tough Quiz: Can you name the three colts who led all pacers in year end earnings but did NOT compete in the Meadowlands Pace final? 1977 Governor Skipper $522,148 1998 Shady Character $1,070,569 2002 Art Major $1,562,779   Compiled by Bob "Hollywood" Heyden

WASHINGTON, PA, July 7, 2014 -- Royaltyhasarrived converted a relentless uncovered move to victory in 1:55.4, fastest split of Monday's $100,000 Pennsylvania Stallions Series stake for freshman colt and gelding pacers at The Meadows. The event was contested over five divisions, with Sammy Said, Hall Of Terror, Smiling Terror and Cartel taking the other splits. Dave Palone, who piloted six winners on the 16-race card, enjoyed a stake double behind Sammy Said and Cartel. Royaltyhasarrived was coming off a trip both disastrous and promising in the PA All Stars; he was parked every step but was making up ground late while individually timed in 1:54.4. Winning driver Dan Rawlings, who was aboard that day as well, figured that made his horse the best -- particularly with Monday's addition of earplugs. "Last week I couldn't get him in a hole, I couldn't hold him," Rawlings said. "It was kind of embarrassing; it took a little pride out of me. But he definitely was fast enough. Being honest, I didn't think I would lose this race today. If he learns a little more to go with his natural ability, he might be able to go with the sires stakes horses later on." The Western Terror-Her Mattjesty gelding defeated Hillbillyrootdiggr by 4-1/2 lengths, with Caserati Hanover third. Steve Schoeffel trains Royaltyhasarrived for Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel, Jerry Dedoszak and Michael Munn. Sammy Said vaulted to the early lead for trainer Mark Harder and owner Fox Hollow Farm, the held off B Well by a head to triumph in a maiden-breaking 1: 56.2. UF Larry Alltheway earned show. After Sammy Said trailed throughout in his PA All Stars split, Harder was looking to shake up the youngster. "Mark said to put him in the hunt," Palone said. "He thought the horse was a little better than he showed the first start. We didn't plan on getting stuck on the lead. I was impressed with the little guy. He gives you a good try." Smiling Terror began his career with two front-end victories in qualifiers, but in Monday's stake, he angled off the cones from fourth for Mike Wilder and scored at first asking in 1:56.3. Given Up Terror raced well uncovered for second, 2-1/2 lengths in arrears, with Battle Cruiser third. "He got to move a little bit in both qualifiers, so we knew he was capable of making moves," said Steve Owens, who conditions the Western Terror-ASAP Or Sooner gelding for Last Laugh LLC. "He had to back out around them in the last turn; that's a hard move for young horses. Elsewhere on the program, Nice Party won her seventh consecutive race in a conditioned Fillies & Mares event -- a remarkable turnaround from her sophomore campaign in 2013, when she lost all five outings. Tony Hall drove the daughter of Party At Artsplace-Nice'n Big for trainer Randy Bendis, who owns with Tom Pollack. Tuesday's program at The Meadows features the Albatross, a $236.060 PA Sites Stake for freshman colt and gelding pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. By Evan Pattak

Driver Andrew McCarthy scored a victory about Iaintnomomaluke in the sixth race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Wednesday night for the 1,000th victory of his career. McCarthy, who has been a regular at Pocono for the past several years, had moved to 999 with a triple on Tuesday night before toppling the mark on Wednesday night. In other action on Wednesday night at Pocono, there were seven $30,000 divisions of Pennsylvania All Stars races held for 2-year-old trotting fillies. The winners were: Wouldn't Itbesweet (Cantab Hall - U S Victory), driven by Howard Parker and trained by Jim Raymer, in 1:57; Fashion Voyager (Broadway Hall - BWT Maija), driven by John Campbell and trained by Jim Campbell, in 1:57:4; Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive - Girlie Tough), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Ron Burke, in 1:56; Onda Di Mare (Yankee Glide - Upfront Ob's Janet, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Jim Campbell, in 1:56:3; Speak To Me (Muscle Massive - Ms Naughty), driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Jimmy Takter, in 1:57; Jersey Strong (Muscle Massive - Vacation's Over), driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Mark Harder, in 1:56:4; and Matter Of Days (Explosive Matter - Drinking Days), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Todd Schadel. Jim Beviglia      

MANALAPAN, NJ - June 25, 2014 - Hope springs eternal as two-year-old New Jersey-sired pacers and trotters make their first career starts on Friday night, June 27, 2014 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Eight trotting colts - five sons of Muscles Yankee and three by Muscle Hill - will make their debuts in the second race, the first leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, vying for a purse of $39,000. Seven trotting fillies, all by Muscle Hill, will go postward in the $38,500 fifth race. Two divisions of pacing colts and geldings, each worth $27,000, are carded as the ninth and 12th races on the 14-race card. In the first split, there are six sons of Rocknroll Hanover, two by Cam's Card Shark and one by Western Ideal. In the second division, five are by Rocknroll Hanover, and two each by Cam's Card Shark and Western Ideal. Two-year-old pacing fillies are competing in a pair of $25,500 divisions, races three and 11, and include seven by Rocknroll Hanover and five by Western Ideal. Yearling prices do not guarantee great racehorses but expectations will be high for the six entrants who cost $100,000 or more as yearlings. Among the trotters, they are French Laundry, a $115,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase trained by Jimmy Takter and winner in both of his baby races, including a 1:57.3 clocking on June 14. The son of Muscles Yankee is out of the $927,169-earner and Hambletonian Oaks winner Creamy Mimi, who is also the dam of The Franchise and King City. French Laundry races for Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding and co-breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. True Blue Stride, a Muscle Hill son of Sabrina Hall, cost $160,000 at the Harrisburg Sale. He is the three-quarter brother of He's A Demon, who banked more than $300,000. Mark Harder trains for Australians Emilio and Maria Rosati. The filly Mission Brief, trained by Ron Burke, was a $150,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. The daughter of Muscle Hill is out of Breeders Crown winner Southwind Serena and won her last baby race by 23 lengths in 1:57.4. On the pacing side, Richard and Joanne Young have invested $180,000 [Lexington Selected Sale] in The Show Returns by Rocknroll Hanover out of Stienam's Place and turned her over to trainer Chris Ryder. The Youngs campaigned her $2.4 million earning full sister Put On A Show. Tony Alagna is training Cashaway for Brittany Farms [co-breeder] and Marvin Katz, after the Western Ideal -CPA filly passed through the Lexington Selected sales ring for $105,000. She is the full sister to two who have won in excess of $250,000 each, Authorize and Act Now, and has won a baby race in 1:55.4. The Rocknroll Hanover colt Sid Rock is the first foal of My Fantasy, who earned nearly $345,000. He was a $100,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase for William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen and Eugene Schick and is trained by John Butenschoen. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

We are in the thick of the most exciting time of the season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Over the next few weekends we'll be seeing some of the finest standardbreds in the world competing for some huge stakes. We've also been blessed with Sire Stakes and Stallion Series races just about every night of late. Through all of that, our overnight races continue to produce outstanding performances. It's not easy to choose the very best out of such a wealth of talent, but that's what we'll try to do as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: FATEFUL CHOICE When a horse is a part of a barn as successful as that of trainer Chris Oakes and it isn't winning with regularity, it can almost seem like an underachiever. In the case of 4-year-old gelding Fateful Choice, it may just have been a case early this year of running up against top competition while not quite on his best game. The result was just a single win in ten races to start the 2014 season. A drop down in class on June 3 to the non-winners of $7,000 in the last five starts did the trick though, as Fateful Choice found his confidence and his stride in a big way, blowing the field away by 4 ¼ lengths in 1:49:2, a new career-best. Bouyed by the victory, he moved up to take on a tougher group of non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts on Saturday night. Driver Anthony Napolitano stayed aggressive with Fateful Choice, sending him to the front end, then rated him very well to the half. At that point, the gelding was a powerhouse and scorched the dirt on his way to his second sub-1:50 victory, this one coming in 1:49:4. All of a sudden, Fateful Choice has the look of so many other of his stablemates. In other words, he looks awful tough to beat. Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Ryder), who moved to two-for-two on the season with another impressive condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51; Colossal Cruiser (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who took a huge step up in class Saturday night to the $20,000 claimers and still picked up his second straight victory, doing so in a career-best 1:50; and Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley), who tuned up in anticipation of the Ben Franklin pace at Pocono by dominating a Preferred group on Saturday night in the week's fastest time of 1:48:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: IL MAGO This 5-year-old stallion from the Mark Harder barn has been exceptional since arriving at Pocono for a condition trot on June 4. That was just his second start following a layoff of two months, but there was no rust evident whatsoever as he took the lead on the front stretch and then gutted out a tough stretch drive to win by a neck in 1:53:3. On Tuesday night, Il Mago was back at it against the non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts once again, albeit this time in a slightly tougher post on the outer half of the field. Andrew McCarthy was still able to fire the stallion out of the gate and reach the front end before the quarter-pole. He was also able to slow the pace down with fractions almost identical to Il Mago's previous win. In the stretch, a couple horses drew to within striking distance, but McCarthy called on the afterburners and Il Mago responded. The result was a second straight victory with the same time of 1:53:3 from the previous week. That kind of consistent excellence is the stuff of long winning streaks, so watch out for this talented trotted in the weeks to come even if he moves up in class. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Not Afraid (Jim Morrill Jr., Jimmy Takter), who followed up a win at the Meadowlands with a Preferred win on Saturday night at Pocono in a new career mark of 1:51:4, which was also fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD; Bikini So Teeny (Charlie Norris trainer and driver, who won her second straight on Wednesday night, this one coming in Stallion Series company in a career-best 1:55; and Designed To Be (Brian Sears, Julie Miller), whose Sire Stakes win on Wednesday night matched a world record for 3-year-old trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile oval with a winning time of 1:51:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT Despite being laid off since a May 2nd victory in California, this mare with Andrew McCarthy in the bike rallied for a claiming pacing win on Sunday night at 23-1 for a $48.40 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap looks poised for his best season ever at Pocono, especially after a week in which he had mutilple wins in three of the four racing nights. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JULIE MILLER Miller had a wonderful night at the Sire Stakes on Wednesday, sweeping both divisions of the 3-year-old trotting fillies with her trainees Take The Money and Designed To Be. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Mike Beviglia, for Pocono Downs    

Harness racing trainer Jake Huff got quite a surprise last Sunday morning for Father’s Day. It’s wasn’t a special tie or breakfast in bed from his two sons. This Sunday it was a phone call he received telling him that he was going to have two new additions to his stable by the names of Golden Receiver and Statesman N. “It was Father’s Day when I got the phone call from Gene Kurzrok (Our Horse Cents Stable),” Jake Huff said. “It came as quite a surprise and a heck of a Father’s Day gift of sorts. I’ve known the owners for many years and they said they would like to send me a couple of horses. Then when they said it was Golden Receiver and Statesman, my eyes really lit-up.” What people did not know is that Jake Huff has been working with Nina Simmons, co-owner and breeder of Golden Receiver for many years and also has had many horses for Gene Kurzrok. But because Jake races all winter in Florida at Pompano Park, the purses are not as great for top horses to race, but now that Huff is stabled for the summer at Tioga Downs, they felt a change in trainers was needed for their two horses. “I actually had Golden Receiver before Mark Harder,” Jake explained, “I had him a short time when he was a three-year-old and then they turned him over to Mark. Mark has done a superb job with him over the years. There is no animosity between us. Many trainers when they have issues with horses will turn them over to another trainer and hope they can freshen them up. “If I am successful with these two,” Jake said, “They won’t come back with me to Florida come September or October. In all likelihood they will go back to Mark. I am just grateful for the opportunity. I know the horse is getting a little long in the tooth, but he is just a couple of steps away from being with the top horses in the nation at the finish.” Now age 9, Golden Receiver is a gelded son of Village Jove and sports 60 career wins and lifetime earnings of $2,144,036 with a race record of 1:48 at age 7. Stateman N is now age 7, also a gelding by Christian Cullen, who raced most of his career down under and has 21 wins, $351,000 in earnings and a record of 1:50.3f. “It was quite a pick me up getting that call on Father’s Day,” Jake Huff said. “Hopefully this will work out well for everyone involved.” By Steve Wolf, for

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