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Here is the first week of the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Top Ten Poll of the best trotters and pacers in North America. Usually the first week is a very questionable collection of selections and this year is no different, the people who are invited to submit their Top Ten Poll are supposed to be extremely knowledgeable and follow the sport week after week throughout North America. In some cases they vote from their hearts and not from their knowledge. Thus you will see 1st place votes for Somwheroverarainbow and Maven, which is, in my opinion only, is totally ridiculous. That Yagonnakissmeornot and DW's NY Yank are not in the top ten are also a sin, that Modern Family is in 9th is ludicrous, but it's the first week and things will settle down in the coming weeks and the list will properly straighten out. Kudos to Ken Weingartner for compiling the Top Ten Poll, it is a lot of work and he does a fabulous job at it since its inception! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 1 – 5/20/2014                                                Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (28) 8th 2-2-0-0 $107,500 334 -- 2 Perfect Alliance (5) 4tm 10-10-0-0 $106,650 201 -- 3 Foiled Again 10pg 7-4-1-1 $180,540 190 -- 4 Somwherovrarainbow (1) 4pm 7-5-1-1 $266,750 164 -- 5 Dancin Yankee 6ph 14-8-3-1 $193,100 141 -- 6 P H Supercam 7pg 14-4-3-6 $397,620 128 -- 7 Trixton 3tc 3-2-1-0 $40,896 109 -- 8 Modern Family 5th 11-5-5-1 $141,150 98 -- 9 Maven (1) 5tm 1-1-0-0 $30,000 78 -- 10 Apprentice Hanover 4ph 11-6-4-1 $279,160 66 -- Also: Bee A Magician (60), Shake It Cerry (49), Market Share (43), Yagonnakissmeornot (37), Sweet Lou (24), Wake Up Peter (22), Shebestingin (17), DW’s NY Yank, Western Vintage (14), JK Endofanera (12), Classic Martine (11), Bandolito (10), Easy Again, Let’s Drink On It, Sumatra (9), Dovuto Hanover, Nuncio (8), JK Letitgo, Nitro Nittany, Sevruga (6), American In Paris, Captive Audience, Clear Vision, Rock N Roll Xample (5), Bettor’s Edge, Eighteen, Mach It So, State Treasurer, Tellitlikeitis, Uncle Peter (3), Cammikey, I Like My Boss, Sam Hill, Weeper (1). Compliled by Ken Weingartner for Harness Racing Communications

This Week: Historic Series, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; TVG FFA Pace, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Art Rooney and Lismore eliminations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; and Betsy Ross and Maxie Lee Memorial, Harrah's Philadelphia, Chester, Pa. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit will take place at four locations this week. Action begins on Tuesday (May 20) at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs with two $34,712 divisions in the Historic-Ladyship for 3-year-old pacing fillies. The Wednesday (May 21) Pocono card features a pair of divisions in the $73,774 Historic-Dickerson Cup for 3-year-old male trotters. Pocono will also host Grand Circuit events on the weekend, with the $46,000 (est.) Historic-Pocono Cup for 3-year-old male pacers set for Saturday (May 24) and the $55,000 (est.) Historic-Coaching Club Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters on the Sunday (May 25) program. Meadowlands Racetrack will host some of the top free for all pacers in the sport on Saturday (May 24) in a $50,000 leg of the TVG FFA Pace, while on that same night Yonkers Raceway will hold $40,000 eliminations in the Art Rooney Pace for 3-year-old males and $20,000 eliminations in the Lismore for 3-year-old filly pacers. On Sunday afternoon (May 25), Harrah's Philadelphia will host the $250,000 (est.) Betsy Ross for older female pacers and the $250,000 (est.) Maxie Lee Memorial for older trotters. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Swedish champion Sebastian K added to his lore with another convincing win, this one the $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial final at The Meadowlands on May 17 in 1:50.2. Sebastian K was a 1:50.2 winner in the Cutler Memorial final. The Cutler was the first major test of the season for the Free For All trotters, promising a battle royal between last week's elimination winners Sebastian K and Market Share and record speed possibilities. However, that went awry when Market Share made an uncharacteristic break in the first turn. As the race began Modern Family was put into play early by David Miller, using his keen gate speed to clear to the front before the turn with Sebastian K protecting the rail for Ake Svanstedt and securing the pocket through the :27.1 opener. With Market Share out of contention, there was little movement as the field passed the half in :55.2. Approaching the final bend Sebastian K was flushed out, trotting alongside Modern Family and they raced as a team past the 1:22.4 three-quarters. By mid-stretch Sebastian K was edging by that rival on his way to a 1-1/2 length win in a stakes record 1:50.2. Modern Family held well to be second while Sevruga followed up close throughout and was third. The winner is raced by Swedish interests, trained by his driver Ake Svanstedt and owned by Knutsson Trotting. The Woodbine winter/spring meet came to an end on Monday evening (May 19), but not before the Toronto oval hosted the Miss Versatility Series for the continent's top older trotting mares. Perfect Alliance established a new world record for a 4-year-old mare as she got under the wire first in 1:51.2. Perfect Alliance, driven by Yannick Gingras, established a new world record for a 4-year-old mare as the trotting miss got under the wire first in 1:51.2. In doing so, the daughter of Credit Winner also set a new Canadian and track record in the process. Sent off as the 6-5 second choice, Gingras and Perfect Alliance led from start to finish through panels of :26.3, :55.1 and 1:23.4 en route to victory. Bee A Magician (Brian Sears), Horse of the Year in Canada and the U.S. last season, finished second as the 2-5 favorite. After going undefeated in 17 starts last season, the daughter of Kadabra tasted defeat for the first time since Oct. 12, 2012. D'Orsay (Sylvain Filion) finished third. Owned by Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz and Arthur Geiger, Perfect Alliance increased her career earnings to $178,801. She remains a perfect 10-for-10 this season. Fresh off her world record performance at Pocono, 3-5 favorite Classic Martine and Tim Tetrick found the wire first in 1:52.2 in the other division. Tetrick guided the daughter of Classic Photo to command well before the opening station in :27.1. Heading towards the half, second-choice Charmed Life (Jody Jamieson) brushed to the front to lead past the midway point in :57 and three-quarters in 1:25. Turning for home, Charmed Life began to tire as Classic Martine angled to the outside and exploded to the lead en route to a comfortable score. Rockin With Dewey came on for second, over Upfrontluckycarol. Chris Oakes trains the 4-year-old old lass for his wife, Susan, along with co-owners Edwin Gold, Hauser Bros Racing Entertainment LLC and Conrad Zurich. Classic Martine remains a perfect three-for-three this season and has banked $580,024 in career earnings. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 246; 2. Tim Tetrick - 155; 3. George Brennan - 129.5; 4. Brian Sears - 87; 5. Jason Bartlett - 79. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 340.5; 2. PJ Fraley - 135; 3. Joe Holloway - 92; 4. Rene Allard - 70; 5. Jimmy Takter - 40. Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 118.5; 2t. Burke Racing - 86.4; 2t. Weaver Bruscemi - 86.4; 4. Ted Gewertz - 34.75; 5. Brad Grant - 34.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will again take place at four different racetracks next weekend. The Raceway at Western Fair District will host the Molson Pace on Friday (May 30); Yonkers Raceway offers the Art Rooney and Lismore finals on Saturday (May 31); Mohawk Racetrack hosts the Somebeachsomewhere for 3-year-old male pacers on Saturday (May 31); and Tioga Downs will offer the Roll With Joe for open pacers on Sunday (June 1). by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

May 18, 2014 – With the majority of the handicappers anticipating Market Share finishing in the money in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands, Market Share’s miscue allowed for some leap frogging  in leg six of HANA Harness’ 2014 Grand Circuit ‘Shoot-Out’ Handicapping Contest presented by The Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs as DRF Harness’ editor Derick Giwner jumped from sixth place to the top of the standings as he had a net profit of $919.20 for the evening, resulting in an overall net profit of $1,005.20.  While Giwner’s results were impressive, Garnet Barnsdale had an even more impressive evening, as he zeroed in on the Laverne Hill Memorial at Scioto Downs.  As a result of his discipline, Barnsdale had a net profit of $1,045 for the night with an overall net profit of $452, moving from 12th place to 4th.  Last week’s leader Bob Zanakis was shut out and as a result, moved from 1st to 3rd. Specifically, Giwner managed to get to the top of the standings thanks to his $8 trifecta key with Sebastian K on top of five horses which netted him his $919.20 for the leg.  Barnsdale smoked them at Scioto by hitting a $40 trifecta with Camille on top of She’s Shocking with three horses in the show position for a profit of $916 as well as a $10 straight trifecta ticket with Igotafeelinfran in the show spot which netted $249.  Other wagers of note were Mark McKelvie’s $15 Exacta key in the Hill Memorial which netted him a $113.50 hit.  Earl Paulson doubled his money with a $75 win ticket on Camille in the Hill as did Brandon Valvo who wagered the full $250 on Sebastian K in the Cutler Memorial.  The standings after six legs of the contest are: As of May 17, 2014 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind Last Pos Days Missed 1st Derick Giwner $919.20 $1,005.20   6th 0 2nd Brandon Valvo $250.00 $705.00 $300.20 2nd 0 3rd Bob Zanakis ($250.00) $515.15 $490.05 1st 0 4th Garnet Barnsdale $1,045.00 $452.00 $553.20 12th 0 5th Mark McKelvie ($101.50) $323.50 $681.70 3rd 0 6th Brian McEvoy $45.00 $167.50 $837.70 5th 0 7th Earl Paulson $0.00 $127.50 $877.70 4th 0 8th Gordon Waterstone ($55.00) $30.00 $975.20 7th 0 9th Sally Hinckley ($220.00) ($141.40) $1,146.60 9th 0 10th Rusty Nash ($235.00) ($395.00) $1,400.20 10th 0 11th Ray Garnett ($196.50) ($597.20) $1,602.40 12th 0 12th Ann Stepien ($249.00) ($626.00) $1,631.20 11th 0 13th Ray Cotolo ($150.00) ($753.00) $1,758.20 13th 0 14th Josi Verlingieri ($155.00) ($897.60) $1,902.80 15th 0 15th Dennis O'Hara ($240.00) ($981.00) $1,986.20 14th 0 Five grace days permitted.  After ten days, there is a penalty of $200 per day.     The Grand Circuit Shoot-Out continues Saturday evening, May 24, with another leg of the TVG FFA series. by Allan Schott, for HANA

It almost seems too easy for Sebastian K as the world champion trotter once again was able to grind his way to the lead and hold off all competitors as he captured the $175,000 final of the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands Saturday. Trained and driven to victory by Sweden’s Ake Svanstedt, it was nearly a complete repeat of his world record tying performance last week. The only difference was the time of the 1:50.2, one-fifth of a second slower than last week’s triumph. The seventh race feature got underway on a sour note as the 7/5 second choice in the race, Market Share, made a rare and very costly break at the start of the race for driver Tim Tetrick and was out of the event. The race had been built up as the “Clash of the Titans” between Sebastian K and Market Share but that match-up never emerged and will now be put off for a while until they meet up again. Sebastian K left from his rail position but it was a very quick Modern Family and driver David Miller at 14-1 odds that left from outside post nine and took command by the opening turn. They led the field to the first quarter in :27.1 and then to the half mile in :55.2 before the action began to heat up. It was at the half mile marker that Svanstedt pulled the ear plugs on Sebastian K and then moved his horse to the outside and started to grind their way first-over to challenge Modern Family. But Miller had his horse in high gear and he still led the field past the three-quarters in 1:22.4. Then as they started down the home stretch, Sebastian K proved to be too much for Modern Family and without using his whip, Ake Svanstedt just line drove his trotter to victory by one and one-half lengths. Modern Family held for second with Sevruga (Ron Pierce) third. It was a stakes record for Sebastian K who remains undefeated in 2014 with two straight wins. The Swedish born eight-year-old stallion by Korean had not raced prior to the past two weeks for eight months. A career winner of $2.4 million was bred and is owned by Knutsson Trotting of Vero Beach, FL. And once again, Sebastian K raced without any horse shoes. He likes to race barefoot and no one can argue with this performance. “He was fine racing barefoot again,” said second trainer Bijorn “Bernie” Noren. “He (Ake) has plenty of horse left at the end of the race. He just showed him the whip and he wanted to take off. He (Sabastian K) has a lot more races this year so we will give him a couple of weeks off and then come back to the Meadowlands. Then we may go to Canada with him and then come back to the Meadowlands.” Owner/breeder Michael Knutsson also commented on owning Sebastian K. “He is just awesome,” Knutsson said. “It is just fantastic to own a horse like this. Being our first time at the Meadowlands it is amazing. I think that he (Sebastian K) had more in him. He had a shot at the world record today but it didn’t work. But the time today is fantastic. I don’t think he has been better in his career then he is right now. He is in perfect form. Yannick Gingras was the driving star of the night, winning 7 of the 14 races contested, including the $30,000 Free For All Handicap Pace with Allstar Legend in a lifetime best effort of 1:48 for Ron Burke and owners Brittany Farms and John Cherveny. Total Handle on the 14-race program was $3,399,248, a 10-percent increase over the previous year. Additionally, on-track handle yielded a 26-percent increase. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Over a hundred runners, walkers and striders hit the Meadowlands Racetrack under partly sunny and breezy skies this afternoon in the 5th annual Stride For A Cure at the E. Rutherford oval.   The winning time of 19:39 was set by Mike Favocci of Hawthorne, NJ. The 24-year-old medical supply distributor broke from the start and never looked back to complete 3.1 mile course faster than the rest.   Several prominent people from inside the harness industry participated in the event, as well as several people with close ties to the Meadowlands. Director of Television/Announcer Sam McKee entered the event as did both his daughters, Lindsey and Melissa, who finished 1-2 respectively, in the women's group. Lindsey a former M1 publicity department employee, finished the race 2nd overall in just over 20 minutes.   Along the race route, Rudy Maag, long-time M1 stall man could be seen keeping pace with stakes administrator Andrea Caswell. Carrie Davies-Gooch from the Hambletonian Society made her second appearance in the event. Bob Boni, well-known horse sales agent and owner of Northwood Bloodstock was also keeping the pace.   Kids as young as four-years-old participated in the event, as well as adults in their 60s.   The event was founded by Meadowlands track photographer Michael Lisa and his wife, Annette, a breast cancer survivor. Runners and walkers, who paid a $25 entry fee which benefits the American Cancer Society, enjoyed their chance to trot around the racetrack before the horses take the stage for tonight's big card featuring the $175,000 Cutler Memorial. Billed as a 'Clash of the Titans' the race features a match-up between local hero Market Share and Swedish star Sebastian K.   by Chris Tully, for Harnesslink  

We have a great weekend of stakes and overnight action throughout North America. Saturday is chock full of top events that will take us to the Meadowlands for the $175,000 Cutler Memorial Final at the Meadowlands, plus NJSS action and a great FFA Pace. Earlier in the day it’s the debut of Shake It Cerry in the PASS at the Meadows and there is PASS 3YO Colt Pace action at Pocono Downs. Good Luck! $99,000 Trot PA Sire Stakes 3YO Filly The Meadows 8th race SATURDAY AFTERNOON – Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year, Shake It Cerry, makes her 2014 debut in a tough situation going against a few decent other fillies, but she is in a total class class above this group and figures just float on out to the lead and wire the field. Use Take The Money and Harley Momma in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace The Laverne Hill Memorial Mares FFA Scioto Downs 7th race SATURDAY – This is not the field they were hoping for as it seems somewhat weak for such a nice purse this time of year yet most of those from the Matchmaker Series at Yonkers didn’t want to make the trip out west. Camille can outshine this group as she is the lone mare to come west after the Matchmaker Series. Only millionaires in the field, she can take the goose egg off the win column this year by laying over this group. Use Igottafeelinfran and Radar Contact in exotic plays. $38,000 Pace Open Handicap Yonkers Raceway 6th race SATURDAY – If not for P H Supercam being so razor sharp this season this would be a very competitive field. P H Supercam is on a three-race win streak and does not look like anyone can stop him now. Gets tested with first start from bad post in nearly two months. Use Heston Blue Chip and Statesman N in exotic plays. $175,000 Trot Arthur J. Cutler Memorial FFA Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY – What a great lineup for this rich final. Every horse in this field has a legit shot at winning. But after his ultra impressive grind it out world record tying 1:50.1 mile last week you just gotta love Sebastian K. If driver/trainer Ake Svanstedt has gotten after his horse last week they would have shattered the world mark and maybe they will do it in here. Sebastian K is the real deal. Use Market Share and Modern Family in exotic plays. $66,763 Pace PA Sire Stakes 3YO Colts Pocono Downs 8th race SATURDAY – There are four great divisions today but I think this is the toughest of them all. Four standouts that can win it. I’m going with Let’s Drink On It who was a stakes winner last season and he just romped by five at Hoosier Park in 1:50.1 last quarter mile in :26.3. That’s impressive. Use McWicked and Allstar Partner in exotic plays. $34,000 Pace Preferred Woodbine 10th  race SATURDAY – Strong field of top pacers do battle here and I like Apprentice Hanover. Has returned to stomping grounds from the Levy Series where he just got nipped at the wire in the S567,000 final. Rested and will make the most of starting from the rail. Use Lucan Hanover and Captive Audience in exotic play. $30,000 Pace FFA Handicap Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY – This will be a great race with plenty of action. Rockin Amadeus is on a roll, Allstar Legend is hot, Golden Receiver is the class of the field but Bandolito get a slim call in here off super strong miles at Pocono and Dover Downs. With any cover or first-over he can grind it out against these. Use Golden Receiver and Warrawee Needy in exotic plays. $50,500 Pace NJSS 3YO Colts Meadowlands 12th race SATURDAY – Big field with some top horses in it. The big question is which Western Vintage will show up. The one that can win going away or the one that will break stride and be distanced as we saw last week. I’m betting what ever happened last week was a fluke and he will rebound and make amends. Has too much class to lose in here. Use Doo Wop Hanover and Rock Out in exotic plays.

Harness racing fans could witness the first sub-1:50 trotting race on a mile track Saturday at the Meadowlands, but if not then, it is probably just a matter of time. Saturday's $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters features a speedy group of 10 horses, including newly minted world champion Sebastian K. The former Swedish star won his Cutler elimination last week, which was his North American debut, in a world-record-equaling 1:50.1. But the field also includes two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, who captured his Cutler elimination in 1:50.3, and Arch Madness, who holds the world record of 1:50.2 for an older gelding trotter on a mile oval. All totaled, the Cutler Memorial features six trotters to win in 1:51 or less at some point in their careers. Sevruga has a lifetime-best mark of 1:50.3, which he accomplished on a five-eighths-mile track while setting a world record. Intimidate and Modern Family each has a career-best time of 1:51. "It's going to be a good race," said Tim Tetrick, who drives Market Share for trainer Linda Toscano. "If it sets up right, someone could set the world record. There's got to be some speed up front; I don't think one horse can do it by himself. It will be a chess match in the middle of the race, but people will be putting horses in play. "These horses are fresh and happy and sprinting home good. There are five or six that can trot a quarter in 26 (seconds) on the end of it. Who knows how fast we can go." Elimination winners Sebastian K, who was Sweden's Horse of the Year in 2012, and Market Share have attracted much of the pre-race attention and were essentially made co-favorites for the Cutler. Market Share is 8-5 on the morning line; Sebastian K is 9-5. But any number of horses is capable of winning the Cutler. Sevruga won last year's race and Arch Madness, a 10-year-old who has earned $4.15 million in his career, captured the 2010 edition. Intimidate has a Breeders Crown triumph to his credit, Archangel won the 2012 Yonkers Trot, and Modern Family won last year's Meadowlands Maturity. "Everybody makes it seem like it's a two-horse race, but I think it's far from a two-horse race," said Yannick Gingras, who drives Archangel for trainer Ron Burke. "You have a lot of depth in this field. Sebastian K is definitely very fast, but the trip did set up for him (in his elimination). We Will See what he can do this week. "They have to go fast, but (Sebastian K and Market Share) might hook up, too. There are 10 horses in the race and I think they can do 1:51 or better. A lot of these horses are super sharp and my horse is only going to keep improving. We need a little luck at this point, but I don't think it's impossible." The top five finishers in Sebastian K's Cutler elim all trotted 1:51 or less, marking the second time in history that five trotters went that fast in the same race. The other occurrence came in Arch Madness' 1:50.2 win at Lexington's Red Mile in September. "If the fractions are right (they could go faster than 1:50)," said Bernie Noren, the assistant to Sebastian K's trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. "Of course it's a harder competition; you've got 10 good horses. It's all about the fractions; somebody has to put up the fractions to the half. "With this group (of older trotters) I'm a hundred percent sure we're going to see not one, but maybe a couple, under (1):50 this year." John Campbell, who drives Possessed Fashion for trainer Tom Fanning, was not surprised by the 8-year-old Sebastian K's performance in his debut. "I knew going in to the race that he was an excellent horse," said Campbell, who won the prestigious Elitlopp in Sweden with Mack Lobell in 1988. "When you have a horse that races at that top level over in Europe like he has for the last couple years, they're excellent horses. I wasn't that surprised that he won or was that impressive because I have so much respect for what those top free-for-allers do over in Europe and how grueling it is over there. "(Sebastian K) is definitely the horse to beat, but he's going to have to be at his best or somebody will beat him. At this level, if you're not at your very best, you're not going to win. "I think we're going to see someone trot under 1:50 in the very near future, whether it's Saturday or shortly after that. I think it will happen this year, and I think there's a good chance it will happen more than once." Following is the field in post order for the Cutler Memorial with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-5; 2. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 8-5; 3. Sevruga, Ron Pierce, Julie Miller, 8-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 15-1; 5. Intimidate, Vincent Ginsburg, Luc Blais, 10-1; 6. Undercover Strike, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 30-1; 7. Arch Madness, George Brennan, Trond Smedshammer, 8-1; 8. Possessed Fashion, John Campbell, Tom Fanning, 50-1; 9. Modern Family, David Miller, Daryl Bier, 6-1; 10. DW's NY Yank, Mike Lachance, Ron Burke, 30-1. by Ken Weingardner, for Harness Racing Communications

Sebastian K will return to the races a little quicker than usual, but doing things quickly might be the trotter's style. A week after winning his North American debut in 1:50.1 to equal history's fastest trotting race on a one-mile track, Sebastian K will start from post No. 1 in Saturday's $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands. "Sebastian K never raced back-to-back weeks, he always had like two weeks between the races, so that's the only question mark," said Bjorn "Bernie" Noren, assistant to Sebastian K's trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt, about the Swedish-born star's previous schedule in Europe. "But when we trained him (Wednesday) he was very smooth and Ake is very happy with how he came out of the race. He'll get two days off in the paddock and we'll race him Saturday." Sebastian K, an 8-year-old sent off at 5-1 odds, won his Cutler elim by 1-1/4 lengths over Modern Family, who set the early fractions of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:23.1. Sebastian K trotted his final quarter-mile in :27 to lead Modern Family, Intimidate, Archangel, and DW's NY Yank to the wire and advance to the Cutler final. Market Share, who was last season's Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter, won the other Cutler elim in 1:50.3. Market Share, who also was making his seasonal debut, trotted his final quarter-mile in :26.4 to overcome runner-up Arch Madness by one length. Undercover Strike, Sevruga, and Possessed Fashion also reached the final. "We knew our horse was ready to race," Noren said. "Ake had him qualify very good and he knew he was going to do a good race, but he was surprised by the time too. He didn't expect him to go that fast right off the bat. He won and he won with some power left in the lines. He was not all out in that mile. "Of course (the final is) a harder competition; you've got 10 good horses. You've got Market Share and he's a tough horse, a game horse. You've got Arch Madness and I think he did a tremendous race too. It will be a good race." Sebastian K, by the stallion Korean out of the mare Gabriella K, has won 27 of 64 career races and $2.31 million for owner Knutsson Trotting. He raced last weekend without shoes, which is more common in Europe, as he equaled a world record already shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim and Chapter Seven. "He always raced without shoes in Sweden," Noren said. "He's a different horse without shoes. Of course, you have to look at the racetrack; the racetrack cannot be hard. You cannot race on a hard racetrack without shoes. Ake warmed the horse up and felt the track was very good, the track crew did a very good job to get a nice cushion, so he decided to race him without shoes. "If the track is OK, every time he races he's going to race barefoot." Sebastian K will get time off following the Cutler as he will not compete in the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational on May 25 at Harrah's Philadelphia. "The schedule we have planned out, we plan to race him at the Meadowlands," Noren said. "We like to support (New Meadowlands Racing Chairman) Jeff Gural and all they do for the harness racing and the racetrack at the Meadowlands is probably the best too with the kind of speed they have up there." Following is the field in post order for the Cutler Memorial with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt; 2. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano; 3. Sevruga, Ron Pierce, Julie Miller; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais; 6. Undercover Strike, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson; 7. Arch Madness, George Brennan, Trond Smedshammer; 8. Possessed Fashion, John Campbell, Tom Fanning; 9. Modern Family, David Miller, Daryl Bier; 10. DW's NY Yank, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

CUTLER MEMORIAL TROT, LAVERNE HILL PACE & MORE!

The historic Saint-Legers des Trotteurs meeting kicks off today at Caen with a 2450m UET Masters series race, the time honoured Prix des Ducs de Normandie a group two worth 150,000 euros, in honour of a famous trotteur of the 1920s who won the 1928 Critrerium des 3 Ans and went on to be equally successful at stud. The son of Salam was a prolific broodmare sire, and one his daughters produced the dam of Feu Follet, one of France's most influential sires. Duc de Normandie's influence is still felt today, with last year's Prix d'Amerique winner Royal Dream (Love You) decending from one of the great horse's daughters Rose Marie IV, while two of France's successful sires Copenhagen Cup and Prix de France winner Kool du Caux and Criterium des 4 Ans winner Rolling d'Heripre (Dahir de Prelong) also trace to the great Duc on the maternal line. Rolling d'Heripre is represented by Blooma d'Heripre in the Saint-Leger des Trotteurs which is one of two of France's most famous monte races which are run later today. Indeed it was under saddle that some of Duc de Normandie's descendants excelled with top sire Gai Brillant (Podosis) and Fine Perle (Marpheulin) both being Saint-Leger winners themselves, while the monte millionaire of the 1990s Arcadia (Jiosco) won the Prix du Cornullier. As befitting a race named after one of France's great stallions, some of giants of the game who have gone on to make their mark in the breeding shed feature heavily in the honours roll. Reve d'Udon, a remarkable racehorse in his own right, a Criterium des 5 Ans winner in the bike and a Prix du Cornulier winner under saddle, is the grandsire of none other than Market Share, and he won this race twice in 1989 and 1990. The world's leading sire for the past two seasons, Love You also won the race twice in 2004-2005 and he is represented in the Prix Henri Balliere later in the day by the hot favourite Airport and a second entrant in Aglite Jenilou. Another former Prix de Ducs de Normandie winner is France's champion monte stallion Goetmals Wood who is the sire of top Saint-Leger chance Bomba. The last two seasons the race has been won by Texas Charm, who was the favourite for this year's Prix d'Amerique until injury, while the previous two winners were emerging sire Quaker Jet ( a son of Love You) and Prix d'Amerique winner Oyonnax (In Love With You). Jean-Paul Marmion's Roi du Lupin is the early favourite for this year's renewal, narrowly from Cedric Megissier 's Uhlan du Val and Fabrice Souloy's Quinoa du Gers. Thierry Duvaldesin's tough gelding Swedishman, Christian Bigeon's Tiego d'Etang and Phillipe Moulin's Valse Darling from the Ecurie Victoria Dreams stable are the others in the market. PRIX DES DUCS DE NORMANDIE - Caen 14/05/14 FR Group II Int UET Masters Series 2450m 4-10 150 000 euros 1 Volcan d'Urzy (h Password - Jabotte d'Urzy) Dr: Jean Philippe Dubois Philippe Moulin 2 Sam Gibus (g Jet Fortuna - Harmonie Gibus) Dr: Sebastien Baude Sebastien Baude 3 Radjah de Venel (g Vivaldi de Chenu - Fikla de Venel) Dr: Emeric Bizon Jean Paul Marmion 4 Turbo Jet (h Joyau d'Amour - Elite d'Atout) Dr: Jean Etienne Dubois Jean Etienne Dubois 5 Valse Castelets (m Memphis du Rib - Elide) Dr: Jean Loic Claude Dersoir Joel Hallais 6 Valse Darling (m Prodigious - Fly Darling) Dr: Julien Dubois Philippe Moulin 7 Ramsey du Ham (g Indy de Vive - Ufania du Buisson) Dr: Mathieu Abrivard Yvonnick Dousset 8 Axelle Dark (m Ready Cash - Queen des Charmes) Dr: Jos Verbeeck Philippe Allaire 9 Swedishman (g Gogo - Volgana Thierry Duvaldestin) Dr: Thierry Duvaldestin 10 Talicia Bella (m General du Pommeau - Illicia Bella) Dr: Antoine Wiels Jean Paul Marmion 11 Ru de l'Airou (g Cygnus d'Odyssee - Cour d'Intheville) Dr: Pierre Levesque Patrick Martin 12 Uhlan du Val (h Islero de Bellouet - Indiana Beautiful) Dr: Cedric Megissier Cedric Megissier 13 Quinoa du Gers (h Ganymede - Targa du Chalange) Dr: Franck Nivard Fabrice Souloy 14 Reve de Beylev (h Fortuna Fant - Heloise Poterie) Dr: Eric Raffin Sebastien Guarato 15 Tiego d'Etang (h Chaillot - Harolene) Dr: Christian Bigeon Christian Bigeon 16 Roi du Lupin (g Fleuron Perrine - Helia de Saint Pol) Dr: Jean Michel Bazire Jean Paul Marmion by David Sanders, for Harnesslink.com

Last week we had five chalk winners out of nine races and lost money. Go figure…This week we have high octane trotters and pacers going at it at the Meadowlands Saturday in the eliminations for the Cutler Series FFA Trot and the TVG FFA Pace which headlines the action. Also the Diplomat and Princess Series Finals at Woodbine and even a trip to Ohio for the opening weekend Open Pace. Good Luck! $59,800 Final Diplomat Pacing Series Woodbine 3rd race SATURDAY –Last week in the second preliminary round, National Debt came up short in the stretch but still held for second place. Hopefully whatever was wrong is fixed now and he should return with a vengeance to take the final. Use Somewhere In L A and Silverhill Shadow in exotic plays. $17,500 Open Pace Scioto Downs 6th race SATURDAY – In this race is one of the few horses to have beaten Captaintreacherous last season. Dedi’s Dragon has not really come alive after four this season for the Ron Burke Stable and I expect him to really “wake up” against this field. Use Beach Memories and Twilight Bonfire in exotic plays. $38,000 Open Handicap Pace Yonkers Raceway 6th race SATURDAY – This race, despite the short field, could develop into a really good race. P H Supercam has been living up to his name as of late and is coming off winning the $567,000 Levy Final two weeks ago. But I think the call in here goes to Take It Back Terry who has also been sharp but on the front end and in control of the race. I see him coming right back again and wiring the field. Use P H Supercam and Statesman N in exotic plays. $40,000 Arthur Cutler Memorial Trot Prelim Meadowlands 6th race – Everyone in this field is a strong contender except Americash Express (why pay to race her in this series when you have no shot in hell of getting a check?). Have to stick by Modern Family who has done me right for four straight starts. This guy could develop into on the top trotters in racing at the rate he is going, winning first-over, on the lead or racing off the helmet. Use DW’s NY Yank and Sebastian K in exotic plays. $50,000 TVG FFA Championship Pace Meadowlands 7th race – This could well be the top race of the weekend action wise. I hemmed and hawed over the three-horse Burke entry or the return of Bold The Duer. The Burke Stable has Foiled Again, Sweet Lou and Bettor’s Edge. But last season Bolt the Duer was super fast and strong throughout the season and he has three strong qualifying wins to show he is ready to take on anyone and thus I am going with Bolt The Duer. Use the Burke entry and Thinking Out Loud in exotic plays. $59,200 Final Princesses Pacing Series Woodbine 7th race SATURDAY – It looks like the draw for the final really favored the favorites and posts 7 to 10 are all the 15-1 and 20-1 long shots in the race. Rock N Roll Xample has been super with 8 wins in 14 starts already this year. She looms are this field and rightly so. Only question is if she can wire the field one more time and get away with it. Use take That Hanover and Bahama Blue in exotic plays. $34,000 Preferred Pace Woodbine 10th race SATURDAY --- Half million dollar winner last year, Lucan Hanover, makes his four-year-old debut for trainer Casie  Coleman off of two strong qualifiers and should be ready to take on this local group of pacers. Use State Treasurer and Dapper Dube in exotic plays. $40,000 Cutler Memorial Trot Preliminary Meadowlands 11th race – It’s the debut of world champion and $3 million winner Market Share, who last week won his qualifying race in 1:52.3 and seems to be ready for action. It will not be a cakewalk against some of the best trotters in the country but I think he is primed and ready to get the job done. Use Sevruga and Quick Deal in exotic plays.

Richard Gutnick looked at the field for the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at Meadowlands Racetrack and reached a conclusion that might be bad for an owner, but good for a harness racing fan. Gutnick, fortunately, is both. "It's not going to be an easy race, but it's going to be a good race," said Gutnick, who co-owns two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share. "It's like a who's who of harness racing. To me, these are the (races) you're waiting for. Races like this where you're racing against the best, you can't take anything for granted. "I'm excited about the year. There are a lot of tough horses out there, especially when you add in the 4-year-olds that are coming back, and it's going to be a tough year. But that's what racing is all about. I like when we go against the best. It's how you find out how good you are." Market Share was among 15 horses entered in the Cutler, so two $40,000 eliminations will be held Saturday night at the Big M. The top five finishers from each division will return for the $180,000 estimated final on May 17. The first elim in post order is Sebastian K, Sweet Justice, DW's NY Yank, Intimidate, Archangel, Modern Family, Americash Express, and Upfront Billy. The second elim in post order is Sevruga, Market Share, Daylon Magician, Possessed Fashion, Quick Deal, Undercover Strike, and Arch Madness. Market Share, a 5-year-old who has won 21 of 39 career races and $3.11 million, is making his 2014 debut. Trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick, Market Share's top wins include the 2012 Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic and the 2013 Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, and TVG Free For All Series Championship. He received the 2012 Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male trotter and the 2013 Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter. Market Share prepped for the Cutler with two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, winning the second on May 3 in 1:52.4 with a :54.4 final half-mile. "I was very happy with his qualifiers," said Gutnick, who owns Market Share with TLP Stable and Bill Augustine. "Last week he did the second half under a hold, at least toward the end he was not being asked (to go). It's nice when you have a horse that can leave fast and close fast. He can do both." Sebastian K, an 8-year-old, will be making his North American debut with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, who was Sweden's Horse of the Year in 2012, has won 26 of 63 career races and the equivalent of $2.29 million in U.S. dollars. He finished last season by winning the Group 1 Aby Stora Pris for the second consecutive year. Intimidate won the 2012 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters and has captured 21 of 30 career starts and $605,293. Archangel was the 2012 Yonkers Trot winner and spent 2013 in the stallion shed. He has won 14 of 32 races and $906,579 lifetime. Modern Family and Sweet Justice are among three trotters sharing this season's fastest mile to date, 1:51.1. Sevruga is the defending Cutler champion and has won 28 of 64 races and $913,566 in his career. Arch Madness, who won the Cutler in 2010, has won 34 of 108 starts and $4.14 million lifetime. Other top wins for Arch Madness include the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old males, the 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, and 2011 Oslo Grand Prix. Saturday's card also features the opening round of the TVG Free For All Series for older male pacers. The field in post order is Modern Legend, Thinking Out Loud, Foiled Again, Word Power, Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Warrawee Needy, Dovuto Hanover, Bettor's Edge, and Golden Receiver. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

DERBY DAY – On the first Saturday in May, the entire country cares about horse racing. No matter who you are or where you live, it is difficult to escape the anticipation and excitement leading up to the Run for the Roses. Traffic was already backed up to the railroad overpass on Racetrack Road by 10 a.m., waiting to get into the New Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment.  By the time I arrived in the paddock for the morning qualifiers, the first and second races had already been contested, as an earlier start was planned to accommodate the anticipated crowd. My first stop was to see the older trotters in race 7.  Shelly Grieco, caretaker for Market Share was less anxious this week as Team Toscano had less than half of the eleven horses they had in-to-go last week.  Markie was his protective self, pinning his ears if I got too close to Shelly.  Otherwise, he was content to nibble on his dog chain, which is hooked with a carabiner and dangling from the left cross chain snap. Two stalls down was Dan Patch Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician, who was making her 2014 debut sans the trotting hopples.  She looked as alert and ready as could be, and her caretaker Stephanie Petherick, was happy to pose for the obligatory photo.  I thought that if this was not a qualifier the paparazzi would be everywhere! As I dashed over to the track apron, fans and players were milling around.  They picked their spots while watching live early races from Churchill Downs on the infield teletron.  Richard Gutnick, co-owner of Market Share was taking in all the action from his usual Saturday morning perch in the grandstand.  At that stage, plans for the Elitloppet had not been finalized, citing several pros and cons.  Rumor has it that a decision will be made on Tuesday. The USTA’s Ken Weingartner and DRF’s Derick Giwner were in their respective positions, ready to capture all the highlights.  M1 CEO Jason Settlemoir stopped by to say hello with Marianne Rotella the assistant general manager.  Marianne has been at The Meadowlands as long as I can remember, most recently running Guest Services.  She is a great lady who is right at home managing big events. The main attraction was the 4-year-old and older trot, which was all Market Share.  Not only did he draw off by over eight lengths, winning in 1:52.4, he trotted his last half all alone in :54.4.  For the “Queen Bee” this appeared more like an official Derby Day workout.  Bee settled in fourth and was allowed to trot home at will, timed in 1:56.  She looked great and went clean and comfortable without the hopples. Following that race I went up to the Super Box to see Nick Salvi.  I was impressed by the “super” view of the races from that vantage point.  We discussed several social media initiatives while keeping an eye on the last few races.  Hanover’s Murray Brown brought a bag of NY bagels over from Manhattan while several top owners discussed the sights and sounds of the day. When the races were over, security shuffled us out to make room for a Derby party.  Myron Bell invited me to lunch after qualifiers.  I had to respectfully decline as I had already made plans.  Nick reminded me that they ‘do lunch’ every Saturday so I was could catch them next time.  I most certainly will! Back on the apron, I could not help but notice what an AMAZING TRANSFORMATION occurred in the “Back Yard,” the New Meadowlands equivalent to the old Paddock Park.  Although not complete yet, it had come a long way from the disassembled and dusty construction site it looked like last week. On my self-guided tour children were playing on the freshly rolled sod, and workers were inflating kid-friendly bounce houses.  While peeking inside the new Back Yard Teller stand I ran into John “Red” Fazekas.  He is also a “lifer” at the Meadowlands, starting as a labor foreman in 1977 under John Chevalier.  Now he is the Supervisor of Properties and knows every inch of the front side and the backstretch like the back of his hand.  During the Garden State Sales era, Red could always be counted on to come through in a pinch.  Bitten by the racehorse bug, he even owned and trained a few horses along the way. One of the hardest working people around that facility is Rachel Ryan, Director of Marketing.  She and the incredibly talented graphic artist Kathie Estes were handing out M1 T-shirts that read “Keep Calm and Derby On.”  I have witnessed Rachel do everything from shoot T-shirts from a cannon to carry 6 foot tables over her shoulder.  She always smiles and forges ahead.  Team Gural is indeed fortunate to have Rachel’s enthusiasm and dedication at their facility. During my tour I also ran into Administrative Assistant Jenn Bongiorno.  I told her that I was going to Freehold next, and she said one word, “Sumatra.”  I should listen to her more often! By this time Ken Weingartner was finished uploading all of his shots from the day, so we headed over to Tick Tock, the relatively famous NJ diner on Route 3 in Clifton.  After we ordered the waitress noticed pictures of horses on my iPhone and on my shirt.  The waitress inquired, “Is the Derby over at the Meadowlands today?”  Doing my very best to maintain my composure I explained that the Derby was being held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky but the Meadowlands was having a public Derby Day party—hence all the traffic.  There was also a Bar Mitzvah at MetLife Stadium, but that’s another story. “Oh, right, KENTUCKY Derby” she said.  She was very pleasant and took good care of Ken and I after that.  We broke bread and shared a few laughs, and discussed the best alternate route to Freehold.  With all the NJ Turnpike construction around exit 8A, I was advised to exit early and take the back road down to Route 33. Just as were about to leave the Tick Tock, a middle-aged couple approached our table and stated, “We could not help but overhearing, but what is happening with the Derby today?” Ken and I did our best to be good ambassadors of horse racing and gave them as much information as they could handle.  I guess anyone affiliated with horse racing is a celebrity on Derby Day!  If nothing else, a good source of insight. Out and Southbound, Mr. Weingartner was correct--traffic was backed up at exit 8A.  But tie-ups are not uncommon on the NJ Turnpike, just ask anyone who ships from Showplace or Gaitway!  When I finally arrived at Freehold, the parking lot and the grandstand were jammed packed. The Dexter Cup at the Afternoon Delight is the first stop on the road to the $1.2 million Hambletonian.  The event drew several representatives of the Hambletonian Society, as well as Rob Key, who was rooting for his dad’s horse Sarcastic Man.  Members of the Takter family were also on the partly sunny but breezy apron. Brian Sears driving Sumatra from the rail was the prohibitive betting favorite at 30 cents on the dollar.  Not one to disappoint, the White Knight led gate to wire for an elated Tom Fanning, the Hambo hopeful’s trainer.  The early-season powerhouse Ray Schnittker stable picked up the 2, 3 & 4 spots, with elim. winner Sarcastic Man (post 8) grabbing the final check. It was rumored that “The Manager” president of the Yonkers-based Brian Sears fan club, was going to make a surprise appearance at Freehold for the Dexter, however, that never materialized—leaving this scribe with nothing to do but head back North to the Meadowlands to catch the Derby. Upon my ascent to the 4th floor Victory Terrace, amidst the handicappers and the humongous hats, it was clear that the Derby Day event was a success. 8,000 T-shirts had been given out before 3 pm, and it was standing room only on the track level.  The press box was the perfect place to spread out my laptop, camera and program to watch the NBC telecast.  Nick Salvi shared some of his home-made pulled pork, and the party began. Peter Koch joined us with about 20 minutes to post, and we bantered about chalk vs. long-shots.  As horse people, we always enjoy the stories associated with the Derby.  As a former horse auction company executive, the fact that California Chrome was the product of an $8,000 mare and $2,000 stud fee was especially satisfying. I am sure that my father, who often reminded would-be sellers that ‘money does not go lame in the bank,’ would have been aghast over these cowboys turning down $6m for half the horse.  But, hey, I guess he is worth more now that he won the Derby...and is eyeing a shot at the Triple Crown. All eyes will be upon Pimlico in Baltimore on May 17 for the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown.  Fans of harness racing will want to be at The Meadowlands that day as they host the Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night, with a dozen stars from that iconic era on hand to sign autographs.  Roosevelt memorabilia will also be on display courtesy of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. Following his T’bred TVG duties, Director of Racing Darin Zoccali joined us in the press box.  He was very pleased with the M1 on-track Churchill handle, which exceeded $1.6m.  In addition, about 12,000 people came to the facility.  All-in-all, it was a good day for horse racing, harness or otherwise. The crowd lingered on the Victory Terrace for some time after the Derby, until a brief thunder storm sent them running for cover.  The rain came and went and the crowd returned to the apron for a great night of harness racing.  The brief thunder-boomer did not slow things down, as five races went faster than 1:50. 3 Brothers Stable’s JK Endofanera won the Simpson and Rockin Amadeaus outlasted Frankies Dragon in the B1/A2 Handicap.  The increasingly powerful Alagna Racing had three wins on the Saturday night card, following 12 in the qualifiers.  With an impressive new webpage and dynamic social media feed, Tony gets it.  He is leading by example in a digital environment that helps inform owners and fans of his stable’s progress, as well as promoting the sport. It would be difficult to think of a big race at The Meadowlands where long-time track photographer Michael Lisa has not captured an iconic image.  For fun, I took his picture along with his brother and fellow photographer Jim, and Paul Capozzi the master of ceremonies for winners circle presentations.  These guys work hard behind the lens and behind the scenes to make sure that the winning connections have everlasting memories of their special night. To cap off the evening, David Miller, who will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in July, captured career win 11,000.  It truly was a great day for horse racing! By Chris Tully, for Harnesslink.com

Last week was OK but nothing to write home about with some chalk coming in and the big guns in the Levy not being able to hold up. But this is a new week and plenty of racing action across North America with “Roarin” Grand Circuit action featuring the Dexter Cup Trot, Miami Valley, Meadowlands and a superb Van Rose Memorial Pace at Pocono Downs. The action takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Good Luck! $33,075 3YO Filly Trot The Lady Suffolk Freehold Raceway 3rd race FRIDAY – It may be a short field of just five fillies but they all show good trotting lines. I am going with Fastdowntheghill. This daughter of Muscle Hill is making her pari-mutuel debut, qualified with a win at age 2 and was turned out, and in her two recent qualifiers showed great speed and comes into this race off an impressive 1:58 score. Use Bella’s Spunkin and Suegrabbitnrun in exotice plays. $33,075 3YO Filly Trot The Lady Suffolk Freehold Raceway 9th race FRIDAY – Provided that Cee Bee Yes can handle a half mile track this filly showed great speed in her two qualifying races, the fastest a 1:56.2 win at the Meadowlands. Super well bred she won $198,000 last year and looms over this field as the class of the race. Use Mistresswithmuscle and Glams K in exotic plays. $30,000 FFA Trot Meadowlands 11th race FRIDAY – What a great matchup with only Modern Family missing from the lineup. I am going to take a shot with the old man of the race, Arch Madness. He made me look good twice last year, is coming off strong qualifying wins and in short field may work it out late to steal the show against some great competition. Use Servuga and the entry of Not Afraid/Uncle Peter in exotic plays. $115,370 3YO Trot The Dexter Cup Freehold Raceway 10th race SATURDAY – It’s the start of season leading towards the Hambletonian. Last week Sarcastic Man was able to overcome outside post at 12-1 and upset the field so what’s stopping them from doing it again. Owner Robert Key and driver Ron Pierce have won this race before from this far out and can do it again. Use Sumatra and King City in exotic plays. $47,253 Pace John Simpson Memorial Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY – In his last start of the 2013 season, JK Endofanera won the $534,000 Governor Cup in impressive fashion and off his two very strong qualifying wins I think he is ready to cut loose for Ron Burke Stable. Use entry of Ideal Cowboy/Moliere Hanover and Allstar Partner in exotic plays. $34,000 Preferred Pace Woodbine 8th race SATURDAY – After two very sharp qualifying wins, State Treasurer returns for 2014 looking to be in prime shape. He closed out 2013 with a win before being turned out and can surprise this field despite having to make his seasonal debut from an outside post. Use Thinking Out Loud and In Commando in exotic plays. $50,000 Trot Van Rose Memorial Pocono Downs 10th race SATURDAY – This is the class race of the weekend. Every single horse in this field could be made a case for if they win. Last year this division was the most exciting throughout the year and it is shaping up that way once again. I am going to go with Bandolito as last week he came first over after a slow half and was able to grind it out in a dramatic stretch drive finish. If he can get any live cover he has the ability to score once again. Dovuto Hanover and Dancin Yankee in exotic plays. $50,300 Pace Sam “Chip” Noble, III Memorial Miami Valley 8th race SUNDAY – What a befitting match-up in the inaugural honoring the great horsemen Chip Noble. Yagonnakissmeornot comes in as the top pacing mare in the country right now but I think that title will be short lived as I am going with Shebigstingin. World class mare is ready for action of her recent qualifiers and I am looking for her to cut loose with a big score. Use Yagonnakissmeornot and Jerseylicious in exotic plays. $60,000 Trot Miami Valley Distaff Miami Valley Raceway 9th race SUNDAY – It’s the 2014 debut of world champion trotting mare Maven and she looks prime and ready for action. She only beat Market Share in her last qualifier and looked good doing it. Class of the field will prevail once again. Use D’Orsay and Mistery Woman in exotic plays.

This morning's qualifying race feature at the Meadowlands was another hanress racing monster match up pitting 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician against last year's aged trotting horse of the year Market Share.   This week the gloves came off with Market Share. Driver Tim Tetrick sent him right to the front and won off by himself in 1:52.4 with the last half in 54.4 and final quarter in 27.1 on his own. Bee A Magician was making her first start back since winning the Moni Maker last fall and Brian Sears held her in fourth most of the mile then let her trot through the stretch, finishing third in a useful effort.   The first race was a 3YO filly trot and Lifetime Pursuit led all the way after leaving from post ten to win in 1:54.2 finishing the mile with a pair of 28 second quarters. She was in hand for Yannick Gingras throughout, looking sharp. She is trained by Jimmy Takter (as is second place finisher Scream And Shout) and owned by Brittany Farms.   Race two saw 2013 Valley Victory winner Muscle Network (racing without trotting hopples) lead all the way for Dave Miller only to go off stride in the last 100 yards of the 1:54.4 mile. Skates N Plates followed him willingly and was ultimately was beaten a length or so. Nuncio was reserved well off the fractions and closed boldly into the 28 second final quarter in a visually impressive display.   Propulsion, a son of Muscle Hill and the dam Danae that raced only in qualifiers at two, was the third race winner for Mike Lachance in 1:56.1. He was the beneficiary of another late breaker, Green Hornut, who had set the fractions before he went off-stride in the final eighth.   Pacers took the track for race four and Bakersfield was the winner, besting a group of sophomore colts in 1:53, last quarter 27.1 in hand to Ron Pierce from the Takter barn. El Bloombito cut the mile and held for second.   Doo Wop Hanover won the fifth in convincing fashion for John Campbell in 1:51.2 / 26.3. He sat a pocket until the three quarters, ripped out and sailed by. Capital Account was a good second and Dancin Yankee a flying third.   Three year old filly pacers were up next and Tony Alagna's Sandbetweenurtoes looked strong winning in 1:54.2 / 27- for Tim Tetrick. Lotsa Matzah was second, It Was Fascination and She's Dangerous finished in tandem a closing third and fourth.   Derby simulcast goes on all day here at The Meadowlands with a large crowd expected. Live racing resumes at 7:15pm.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands  

Rock Hill, NY – With so many harness racing Dan Patch champions and Grand Circuit hopefuls in-to-go at the Meadowlands for Saturday (April 26) morning qualifiers, East Rutherford, New Jersey was the place to be.   As I left for my nearly 300-mile journey, police were preparing to close the roads all around my local hamlet of Rock Hill for the Empire State Performance Rally, the only car racing Tarmac event in the United States.  Traveling down the Wurtsboro mountain on the Route 17 “Quickway”, I passed several dozen street-legal speedsters who seemed very eager to test the limits of the law and machine en route to the start—which is just a stone’s throw from my house.  I could not help but thinking that my Harness Racing road rally—Meadowlands to Freehold to Yonkers­—would be similar in style and substance. Upon my arrival to the M1 paddock, I delivered an Energy Vitamin Water to the ever-vigilant Shelly Grieco, who was checking-up Market Share for Linda Toscano to go out for his warm-up.  Team Toscano brought eleven horses to the big track Saturday.  Out by the draw gate I ran into “Markie’s” co-owner/manager, Richard Gutnick, and followed his black Porsche over to the front side to watch the first race.  For a guy who is semi-retired, he moves pretty quickly! On the apron, the USTA’s Ken Weingartner had already set-up shop on a portable teller station, and was preparing his laptop and camera for rapid-fire uploads to Nick Salvi who was upstairs in the super box with Myron Bell.  “On the Road with” Nick Salvi wrote the color commentary and utilized Ken’s great shots for seamless, up-to-the minute internet blasts of the action. As it turns out, I was not alone in my sojourn.  Although we took separate cars, Hall of Fame driver Ron Pierce also chewed much of the same highway, as he was driving horses at all three venues.  Mountain Man Ron’s first win at The Meadowlands came aboard Dan Patch champion Shake It Cerry, who looked solid during her first qualifier.  Her 1:58 effort into a strong headwind was one of fourteen starters from the always-powerful Jimmy Takter stable. International Trotting stars Sebastian K and Åke Svanstedt made their Meadowlands debut.  The Swedish icon has moved his entire operation to the U.S. and has his star 8-year-old and US$2.2 million earner looking as fit as a fiddle.  A big, strapping horse, Sebastian K is another top older trotter that we will be keeping an eye on this season.  He is by Korean, a sire with predominantly French lineage, but whose second dam is by Super Bowl; from the Probe mare Gabriella K. Another Dan Patch champion coming of age and making his first appearance since winning the Breeders Crown was Father Patrick.  Leaving from post 7, the anointed-one charged into the first turn surrounded by a strong group of Hambo disciples.  Content to sit third, His eminence let a hot-under-the-collar Odds On Amethyst do the heavy lifting to a 1:24.3 third panel.  Yannick Gingras let Takter’s star pupil trot home strongly over the last eighth. During the break, I ran into the lively Michelle and Al Crawford who were on a whirlwind tour of their own.  Having just arrived in town from down South, they had several of their own horses to watch, and an Alagna party to attend that night.  Then it was back to their farm near Vernon Downs to put the finishing touches on a new 30-stall barn.  They bought me a coffee and we chatted at length about the sales and New York racing.  Both passionate about harness racing, their commitment to the industry is strong and their modern ideas are refreshing—evidenced by the farm’s attractive new sponsorship of the starting car at Vernon. The likelihood of Derick Giwner from the Daily Racing Form being at M1 Qualifiers is as sure as the sun coming up tomorrow morning.  Despite 20 mph gusts during low-50 degree temps, Mr. DRF was shooting photos in a T-shirt.  He must stay warm by perpetual motion.  Not only did he hook me up with program proofs, but he also told me that Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician, may be qualifying next Saturday, Derby Day at The Meadowlands.  I guess there will be a sequel to today’s story! Following the break, Maven and Market Share hooked up for a date that is sure to be more than just a one night stand.  We can only speculate when and where these two 5-year-olds will be spotted hanging out together the next time, but rest assured that it will be EPIC!  Tim Tetrick had ‘Markie’ acting like a perfect gentleman and let the lady lead for this dress rehearsal dance.  Who knows what will happen when they “up the tempo” on the Roarin’ Grand. Perry Soderberg seems to have, or to have picked-out, a top horse every year.  This season is no exception.  Western Vintage appears to be a force to be reckoned with in the glamour boys division.  Yannick Gingras had the Western Ideal colt out and rolling and posted a :26.1 fastest last quarter of the day, into a brutal headwind.  Trained by Nancy Johansson, this colt is the real deal and is razor sharp, just like his co-owner. On my way out of the paddock, I ran into the Lomangino clan, partners on Lindy’s Pride.   Great guys--father and sons who have been in the business FOREVER!  I remember selling horses to, and for Frank, Sr. at the Old Glory Sale during the 1970s.  They have owned and bred hundreds of horses over the last 4 decades, and always stop me to say hello. For the second leg of my journey down the NJ Turnpike to Freehold, I picked up an unlikely hitchhiker via Bluetooth.  Hollywood Heyden always regales me with colorful accounts of race days gone by.  He noted that only two Horses of the Year have come back to race in the last decade:  San Pail (2011) and Rainbow Blue (2004).  Google Glass has nothing on Holly!  Our lively and informative conversation got me from Elizabeth to Mom’s Peppermill on Route 33. There were two reasons for me to go to Freehold, not only to watch the Dexter eliminations, but also to meet up with Ellen Harvey, the director of Harness Racing Communications.  Her highly-anticipated forth-coming book, Standardbred Old Friends is at the printer and we are reviewing marketing tools for the big book signing event at the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame on Friday, July 4.  She and co-author, multiple eclipse-winning photographer Barbara Livingston, have created a breathtaking tribute to 43 horses of distinction.  This is a volume that will make the entire industry proud.  I was especially grateful to get a sneak-peek at the printer’s proof, and mark my words, you will want to own a copy! While watching the undercard on the new benches by the winners circle, Moira Fanning, publicity director for the Hambletonian Society joined us.  Her husband, Tom Fanning had Sumatra in the $38,460 Dexter precursor.  Christina Takter was also on the Freehold apron, watching the trotting action, and rooting for her stable’s Dave Briggs.  The Ray Schnittker stable had three in. Only one horse was to be eliminated from advancing to the $130,000 Dexter final.  A costly break by betting favorite Well Built caused half the field to be scattered just past the quarter pole.  The judges placed the Chris Ryder-trained, John Campbell-driven colt back to ninth due to interference.  Ultimately the race was won by Sarcastic Man from post 7.  Driven by fellow road warrior, Ron Pierce and trained by Gail Wrubel for breeder/owner Robert J. Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania, the Tom Ridge colt paid a whopping $26.40 to win. Karen Fagliarone, racing secretary at the Afternoon Delight, noted that the USTA’s new online entry system has helped her race office, however, not all of her horsemen have embraced the digital age as of yet.  We shall see, but this may be just the catalyst that is necessary to turn phone calls into uploads. From here the trip got a little dicey as it rained up the Garden State Parkway, the NJ Turnpike, and on to the George Washington Bridge.  By the time I hit ‘Martha’ it was a downpour, coupled with a bottleneck at the entrance.  The Cross Bronx to the Major Deegan could be one of the least pleasant paths horseman take.  Nonetheless, if you stable in New Jersey and race at the Empire, this is your route.  And it wouldn’t feel like the hilltop if I didn’t get scolded by at least two Yonkers Raceway policemen while finding a parking spot by the paddock. From the trailer parking area to the apron is a quick jaunt, and while double-stepping I ran into "The Manager".  Anyone who has been to Empire City in the last year or so has seen him, dressed in all white, chasing Brian Sears down the stretch during each race.  He is part showman, part street hustler, part groupie...and he is obsessed with The White Knight.  Overall he seems pretty harmless, and now he has his own twitter feed...so at the very least, he is progressive. Speaking of social media, I was on my way up to Pinch, the groovy 2nd floor eatery over the casino, to meet with Jane Quigley and her team from Converseon.  Rob Key has assembled a dynamic group of tech savvy entrepreneurial wunderkinds.  Each of the eight specialists I met has amassed well over 10,000 fans on their respective social media platforms.  The “Ambassadors” were at the Levy to learn more about Harness Racing and help promote the sport through social media this race season.  Following a fun and delicious dinner, complete with a wagering overview from Alex Dadoyan and Joe Faraldo, the entire group went to the paddock to check out the horses and take some pictures.  Some of the professional photographers got to ride in the starting car, I went to find Foiled Again.  I ran into PR man Frank Drucker and took his picture with the six million dollar horse.  Then I showed another photographer the colorful numbers washing area, and introduced him to Noel, who has been washing bikes and handing out numbers at Yonkers for the last 20 years.  He always smiles and has something positive to say. From there it was a mad dash back to the winners circle to get ready for the big event, the Levy.  Ran into The Manager again, and he performed a little singing and dancing for the Converseon crew.  They snapped lots of pictures and video.  The White Knight’s self-appointed fan club president may not be Harness Racing’s best public relations persona, but what he lacks in talent, he makes up for with enthusiasm. Mike Lizzi, the primary track photographer was on hand for all the key moments, and he let me shadow him out on the racetrack for the Levy final.  It never gets old being out on the edge of the track shooting pictures of top horses.  As the field approached the leisurely half, it appeared as if Foiled Again had things his own way, but that is not how the race unfolded.  The road warrior hung on tough for third, beaten less than a length at the wire. Jason Bartlett drove a masterful race, seemingly boxed in and buried on the rail fifth at the three-quarter pole.  When PH Supercam did see daylight, squeezing up the inside passing lane, he responded admirably.  Jody Jamieson was absolutely flying up on the outside with Apprentice Hanover to be second. With that event in the record books, it was time to call it a night and head up the NY State Thruway back to the Catskills.  276 miles, 3 tracks, 37 races. by Chris Tully, for Harnesslink.com

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