ANDERSON, Ind.-September 19, 2014 - Hoosier Park will offer arguably the best 14-race card of the 2014 live harness racing season to-date on Saturday, September 20. Grand Circuit racing action will make its way to Hoosier Park for the second time this season and with it, bring the top rated horses in North America to Hoosier Park as they convene on the seven-eighths mile oval in search of the lucrative purses offered on the card beginning at 5:15 p.m. Hoosier Park will host a standout card that includes the $238,500 Centaur Trotting Classic, the $250,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes, the $150,000 Elevation Pace and the $50,000 Jenna's Beach Boy Invitational Pace. The world's fastest trotter, Sebastian K will highlight a powerful field of ten for Hoosier Park's richest trotting event, The Centaur Trotting Classic which has been slated as the twelfth race on the 14-race card. Fresh off his win in the $236,000 Crawford Farms Trot, Sebastian K has won eight of nine outings this year with a career bankroll of over $2.9 million and will start from post six with driver, trainer Ake Svenstadt at the lines. Joining the stellar cast of entrants in The Centaur Trotting Classic will be Hambletonian Winner, Market Share who has drawn the coveted rail position. The winner of last year's edition of the Centaur Trotting Classic and Hoosier Park's current track record holder for older horses on the trot, Uncle Peter will start from post seven. "I am overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of exceptional horses that are coming to Hoosier Park," Hoosier Park's Vice President and General Manager or Racing, Rick Moore noted. "This is unequivocally the best harness racing card to take place at Hoosier Park this season and we couldn't be more excited to showcase this night of nights to racing fans across the country." In a continued partnership with Hoosier Park, HRTV, The Network for Horse Sports, will provide exclusive coverage for all the Grand Circuit racing action on Saturday. HRTV will be on property to provide racing fans with exclusive coverage of all the festivities happening on and off the race track. Racing fans can also catch exclusive interviews from drivers and trainers racing at Hoosier Park on the HRTV programming. In conjunction with all the action taking place on the track, Hoosier Park will host the inaugural "Food Truck Throwdown" in Hoosier Park's yard. Starting at 5 p.m., racing fans will have the opportunity to select from a variety of the best food trucks in the area and local craft beers. The Food Truck Throwdown ticket package costs $20 and includes: $10 food truck voucher, 16 oz. Dan Patch mug, two craft beer pints, and a mystery racing voucher that could be worth up to $1,000. All ticket proceeds will benefit the Madison County United Way. Racing fans will also have the opportunity to enjoy the annual FarmTastic event, a farm themed and family friendly day at the races. The event will feature an antique tractor exhibit, a tractor parade, children's activities and farm food favorites. Free sweet corn and watermelon will be available while supplies last. Hoosier Park's stakes filled 14-race card will begin at its regularly scheduled post of 5:15 p.m. Hoosier Park's live racing action will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 15. Emily Gaskin
It's been almost 20 years since the International Trot was last run at Yonkers Raceway, but it's back and may be better than ever before. With a probable field including world record holder Sebastian K, along with the 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share, the 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician and the 2012 Yonkers Trot winner Archangel, the 37th running of the $250,000 International Trot will be a must race to see at Yonkers Raceway on Oct. 25. "The timing seems right to bring it back," said Bob Galterio, the vice president and chief operating officer of Yonkers. "This year, with so many good American trotters and a couple from overseas the time just seems to be right." When last run in 1995, it was Sweden's His Majesty who took the International Trot over S.J.'s Photo and Panifesto, both American trotters, and this year Sweden looks well represented by Sebastian K. "Of course it means a lot," said Bjorn (Bernie) Noren, the assistant to trainer Ake Svanstedt for Sweden's Sebastian K. "It's a big event for Europeans and it should be a big race getting all the good trotters together from overseas." His Majesty - 1995 International Trot Linda Toscano, trainer of Market Share, grew up at Roosevelt Raceway, where the International Trot was conducted from its inception in 1959 until 1988. "I come from Roosevelt and one of the highlights I looked forward to was seeing the other horses coming from the other countries to compete in the International," Toscano said. "I think it's a real cool thing that they revived it." The International Trot will be run along with the Messenger Stakes and the Yonkers Trot that evening, making for a super night of racing at the Old Hilltop. "We're very excited about that evening," Galterio said. "It should be a great night of racing and we're looking forward to it." Â· Yonkers Raceway hopes to keep the international flavor going on Sundays, beginning on Nov. 9 through Dec. 14, when it will host an all trotting card that will be simulcast to Europe starting with an 11 a.m. first post. The track will offer fans many promotions for the special Sunday cards. More details about the promotions will be available as the time draws closer. By Jerry Bossert
$154,150 Trot Kentuckiana 2yo Fillies Hoosier Park 2nd race SATURDAY – This is a tough call as you never know how young filly trotters will race. And so I am going with the class of the field in Speak To Me. She has been super consistent this season and hails from Jimmy Takter Stable. Use Gatka Hanover and Gold Cora in exotic plays. $154,400 Trot Kentuckiana 2yo Fillies Hoosier Park 4th race SATURDAY – Despite having just one win in eight starts this year I am going with Smexi. She never makes breaks, has the rail and has been game all season long. Use Livinthefastlane and Sweet Hana in exotic plays. $266,000 Pace Milton Final Older Mares Mohawk 7th race SATURDAY – Classic final with many of the top older mares in the sport going to post. I like Krispy Apple as draws well, has won her last two starts in this company both on and off the pace and if need be can wire the field as she did two starts back in 1:48.4. Use Yagonnakissmeornot and Anndrovette in exotic plays. $153,200 Pace Kentuckiana 2yo Fillies Hoosier Park 9th race SATURDAY – With more than three times the purse earnings of anyone else in the field you have to go with Southwind Roulette. She comes into the race on a four-race winning streak and should not be beaten. Use She’s A Hot Mess and Cashaway in exotic plays. $151,950 Pace Kentuckiana 2yo Fillies Hoosier Park 11th race SATURDAY – Fans will get to see a filly in here who is the leading contender for Horse of the Year honors in her division. JK She’salady has the breeding and ability to be a world champion. She is undefeated in six starts and will lay over this field with her great pacing speed. Use Bedroomconfessions and Mr Leland’s Filly in exotic plays. $238,500 Trot Centaur Classic FFA Hoosier Park 12th race SATURDAY – The last time Sebastian K took this much time off he came back and nearly set a world record. Super class trotter should be able to toy with this field and put on a great race for Hoosier fans who should be flocking to the track to see this world champion perform. Use Market Share and Uncle Peter in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Prix D’ete 4YO Hippodrome 3R 9 th race SUNDAY – What a great match-up for the revival of the Prix D’ete, one of Canada’s premier events for many years. So tough to make a firm pick. Yannick Gingras comes back to his home track and after his impressive victory in the Little Brown Jug I think he can overcome starting from post 8 with Sunfire Blue Chip. He is on a four-race winning streak and has overcome starting this far out before. Use Mach It So and Lucan Hanover in exotic plays.
ANDERSON, Ind.-September 17, 2014 - Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter, will make his Hoosier Park Racing & Casino debut as he heads a powerful field of ten in the $238,500 Centaur Trotting Classic on Saturday, September 20. Offering arguably the best 14-race card of the 2014 live racing season to-date, Hoosier Park will play host to a stakes-filled card that boasts lofty purses as Grand Circuit racing action returns to the seventh-eighths mile oval. As Hoosier Park's signature trotting event, The Centaur Trotting Classic will highlight the 14-race program that begins at 5:15 p.m. The 8-year-old Swedish trotter Sebastian K has taken the sport of harness racing by storm since arriving in North America earlier this year, setting records nearly everywhere he goes. Boasting a career bankroll of over $2.9 million, Sebastian K has won 34 of 72 races in his career and has only been defeated one time in eight starts since racing in North America. Sebastian K's stunning 1:49 victory on June 28 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in the $100,000 Sun Invitational was the fastest mile clocking ever recorded by a trotter. In addition to trotting the fastest mile in history, he is also the first trotter to ever win four times in 1:50.3 or faster. The No. 1-ranked harness racing horse in North America last appeared on August 29 at Vernon Downs when he won the Crawford Farms Open Trot in 1:53. Sebastian K is owned by Knutsson Trotting Inc. and is trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt. Svanstedt and Sebastian K will start from post six in the field of ten and have been enlisted as the 3-5 morning line favorite. Joining the stellar cast of entrants in the Centaur Trotting Classic is Hambletonian winner, Market Share who will start from the coveted rail position with regular driver Tim Tetrick at the lines. Market Share, who has won 24 of 51 races and $3.4 million in his career, was last season's Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter and the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter. The triple millionaire is trained by Linda Toscano and has been enlisted as the morning line second choice. The Centaur Trotting Classic is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday at Hoosier Park, which also includes the $250,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes for two-year-old trotting and pacing fillies, the $150,000 Elevation Pace for two-year-old pacing colts and the $50,000 Jenna's Beach Boy Invitational Pace for three-year-old pacing colts. HRTV, The Network for Horse Sports, will provide exclusive coverage for the 14-race card. Racing fans can also catch exclusive interviews on the HRTV programming from drivers and trainers racing at Hoosier Park. Following is the Centaur Trotting Classic field in post order with trainers: 1. Market Share, Linda Toscano 2. Natural Herbie, Verlin Yoder 3. Red Hot Herbie, Byron Hooley 4. Creatine, Bob Stewart 5. Master of Law, Jimmy Takter 6.Sebastian K, Ake Svenstadt 7. Uncle Peter, Jimmy Takter 8. Fusion Man, Jeff Smith 9. Arch Angel, Ron Burke 10. Appomattox, Liisa Vatanen For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, please visit www.hoosierpark.com. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park
Well it was bound to happen but last week was the first time in five weeks that I did not have a winning weekend with my selections. Oh well, on to bigger and better this weekend! Tons and I mean tons of great racing action both sides of the border this weekend. We will be covering the PASS Championships at Pocono Downs plus some of the Simcoe and Champlain action at Mohawk then off to Harrah’s on Sunday for their excellent PASS Championship card. It’s amazing how some of these championship finals for state-bred trotters and pacers feature the top of the class in some great battle. Just a testimonial to how strong the Pennsylvania breeding program is. Good Luck! $123,120 Pace Champlain Stake 2YO Open Mohawk 4th race SATURDAY – While there is only one return winner in this field it is still very competitive. I’m going with Lyons Levi Lewis, who despite showing just one win in seven starts this year he has been racing against the best and is coming off a decent second place finish in the $667,000 Metro Pace last week. Use Thinkofagameplan and Freedomformysoul in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace Open Pocono Downs 8th race SATURDAY – Really nice field assembled here. I am going with the “old man” Golden Receiver as he has been on a roll as of late and still can show his heels to his younger rivals. Won last two starts against this group and can take another one. Use Sunfire Blue Chip and Mach It So in exotic plays. $260,000 Pace PASS Final 2YO Fillies Pocono Downs 9th race SATURDAY - With four wins and a third in only her five lifetime starts and a 1:51.4 lifetime mark two starts back right here at Pocono Downs, it’s tough to even think about going against Southwind Roulette. She is on a three-race win streak and has beaten most of these fillies already. Use Aria Hanover and Ginger Tree Alexis in exotic plays. $107,538 Pace Simcoe Stake 3YO Open Mohawk 11th race SATURDAY – After watching both Jet Airway and Melmerby Beach go at each other the last two weeks this was a tough call. But last week Melmerby Beach showed he can win in here and with any kind of live cover today he could score again. Use Jet Airway and Three of Clubs in exotic plays. $260,000 Trot PASS Final 2YO Fillies Pocono Downs 10th race SATURDAY – When it comes to young trotters there is none better in the business than Jimmy Takter and he has a very good one here in Wild Honey. She is on a four-race winning streak, already has a record of 1:55 and always wins when she cuts the mile, four of five times this year. Use Speak To Me and Gatka Hanover in exotic plays. $260,000 Trot PASS Final 2YO Colts Pocono Downs 11th race SATURDAY – You cannot, of course, ignore perfection, and that’s Billy Flynn this season. The son of Cantab Hall is 6 for 6 for trainer Staffan Lind and has beaten everyone else in this field already. Can score from on or off the helmet and continue winning ways. Use Piercewave Hanover and Honor And Serve in exotic plays. $260,000 Pace PASS Final 2YO Colts Pocono Downs 12th race SATURDAY – Here is one of the top colts in the nation. Yankee Bounty is undefeated in six starts but last week was really tested and still held on. Gets tested once again with big money on the line but should get the job done. Use Wakizashi Hanover and Tomy Terror in exotic plays. $50,000 Trot Open Pocono Downs 13th race SATURDAY – From a betting standpoint you just can’t go against the entry today of Wishing Stone and Market Share. May be separate trainers but both are world class trotters and should be able to handle this decent group. Use Sevruga and Arch Madness in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace PASS Consolation 3YO Fillies Harrah’s 7th race SUNDAY – Had to include this field even though it’s not a final, it’s still jammed with top fillies. Katie Said gets the nod as she has been razor sharp as of late with three wins in last four starts on the Grand Circuit including a lifetime best 1:49.2 clocking. Use Marathon Day and Tyra in exotic plays. $260,000 Trot PASS Final 3YO Fillies Harrah’s 9th race SUNDAY – Since her big score in the Hambletonian Oaks, Lifetime Pursuit has yet to lose either in the PASS or on the Grand Circuit. She is razor sharp for the Takter Stable and while this race is no cake-walk she should still be able to win off her recent form. Use Designed To Be and Take The Money in exotic plays. $260,000 Pace PASS Final 3YO Colts Harrah’s 10th race SUNDAY – What a great line-up for this final as nearly every horse has had a major score this year. McWicked is the horse to beat in here and rightly so off his championship season and he draws the rail to boot. He is most likely using this race as his final prep before heading out to the Little Brown Jug and thus will be all out for the rich purse. Use Somewhere In L A and Limelight Beach in exotic plays. $260,000 Trot PASS Final 3YO Colts Harrah’s 11th race SUNDAY – Despite his Hambletonian nightmare, Father Patrick has been nearly perfect his entire career. Last week he vented against same in Zweig Memorial and held the field at bay with an easy impressive score. He should be able to do the same inhere. Use Nuncio and Datsyuk in exotic plays. $260,000 Pace PASS Final 3YO Fillies Harrah’s 12th race SUNDAY – After her 20 length qualifying romp last week I have no doubt that Sandbetweenurtoes will leave from the rail in here and not look back and that no one will catch her. Undefeated filly is super and goes for her ninth straight win. Tough field but she has shown this season that she is one of the best in the nation. Use Allstar Rating and Weeper in exotic plays.
The best of the best of this year’s Pennsylvania-sired harness racing two-year-old trotters and pacers will gather together this Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for their $1,240,000 Championships Night program. The horses, in both the $260,000 finals and the $50,000 consolations, earned their way into these races by having the highest point totals based on finish position in four PA Sire Stakes preliminaries raced at the state’s tracks over the last two months. The four Championship events are slotted for races nine through twelve on Saturday’s 16-race card. The stellar card also features the $50,000 Modern Family Open Trot, in honor of the late trotter trained by Daryl Bier, and featuring such star-power Wishing Stone; Arch Madness; Market Share; and Sevruga, along with four other heavy-hitters. The $50,000 Adieu to the Almost Summer Pace will host the millionaire pacers Golden Receiver and Mach It So, who hit the finish line in a brilliant Dead Heat two weeks ago; millionaire Bolt The Duer; and Sunfire Blue Chip, headlining another star-studded field. To kick off the Sire Stakes Championship Night, a special “Signings and Sightings” event will be held with Hall of Famer and former NY Giants Linebacker Lawrence Taylor on the Sky Bridge from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. This is a wristband-only event, and fans may obtain their wristband starting at 1:00pm, which will be a limited amount. Authorized photos only will be signed, and they will distributed at the event. The first 200 fans at 5:00pm can get the 50/50 deal; they pay $50, and receive a total of $100 in live racing vouchers. Each $10 free voucher is good on a select Sire Stakes race or the Open Trot or Open Pace. Post Time for the night is 6:30pm. Racing continues at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday through November 22, and the track is dark the week of September 9-13 for the annual Oktoberfest celebration. JENNIFER STARR
WILKES-BARRE PA -The cream of the crop of this year's Pennsylvania-sired two-year-old trotters and pacers will gather together this Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for their $1,240,000 Championships Night program. The horses,in both the $260,000 finals and the $50,000 consolations, earned their way into these races by having the highest pointtotals based on finish position in four PaSS preliminaries raced at the state's tracks over the last two months. The four Championship events are slotted for races nine through twelve on Saturday's 16-race card at Pocono; here's a look at them in the order they will be conducted: TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES (stakes record - 1:51.1, Economy Terror, 2007) These fillies have been very competitive among themselves, as this is the only of the four divisions that will find no four-time prelim winner looking for a sweep in the Championship. (In fact, there has never been a "sweeper" in the 2PF class since a record of prelim points was started in 2002, a fact which will obviously stay intact in 2014; what's more, the prelim pointleader has not won the 2PF Championship since Lady Annie in 2007.) Aria Hanover (post two, driver Tim Tetrick listed) and Southwind Roulette (post five, Yannick Gingras) figure to be the focal points of attention after showing three wins and a third in their prelims to be tied for the top in this group. Southwind Roulette was third in her first PaSS start, then has taken her last three; among the conquered in her final prelim was ... Aria Hanover, who had won three straight going into that event. TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING FILLIES (stakes record - 1:54.3, Sand Violent Blu, 2011, and Designed To Be, 2013) In contrast to their pacing counterparts, two 2TFs have swept their four prelims and their Championship: Coulantine in 2004, and Fashion Feline in 2009. And the leading pointwinner has won their Championship in each of the last three years (the stake speed setters with Frau Blucher in between). Looking to add herself the "sweeper" ranks is Wild Honey (post seven, Yannick Gingras). In keeping her record unblemished in the prelims last time out, Wild Honey defeated Gatka Hanover (post eight, Ron Pierce), who had also won her three prelims heretofore, by a half-length. Neither filly will particularly benefit from their outside post draw, making this shape up as a very tough affair. TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING COLTS (stakes record - 1:54.3, Stormin Normand, 2011) In setting this division's speed mark, Stormin Normand also completed the "Sire Stakes sweep," the only 2TC to have accomplished the feat. Attempting to emulate the "Storm" will be Billy Flynn (post four, Brett Miller), 6 for 6 in his young career. But there are three two-time Sire Stakes prelim winners in this field - Honor And Serve, Lima Pride, and Piercewave Hanover - plus Walter White, a horse who came within a head of Billy Flynn two starts back, so no one is conceding the honors to the unbeaten horse going in. TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS (stakes record - 1:50.2, One More Laugh, 2009) Like his colt counterpart on the trotting side, Stormin Normand, One More Laugh became his division's only sweeper when he set the stakes mark five years back. (The leading prelim pointleader has won the 2PC in three of the last five years, including Allstar Partner last year.) Probably set to draw the majority of the focus here is Yankee Bounty (post three, Yannick Gingras), who like Billy Flynn is both 6 for 6 lifetime and unbeaten in the Sires prelims. But also like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty had a horse who gave him a scare - Wazikashi Hanover came within a neck of an upset last time -- and again like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty faces three opponents with multiple PaSS prelim wins: McArdles Lightning (who had three) along with Dragon Eddy and Lost For Words (two each). THE UNDERCARD There will be $50,000 consolations for each of the four Sire Stakes divisions' horses who came up just shy in trying to earn themselves a place in the final. It does seem strange to call a contest an "undercard" event when the field of eight has combined earnings of $12,112,270, especially when the first three horses in the post parade have bankrolled $9,956,663 among them. But this is a special field, for a special race - the $50,000 Modern Family Trot, honoring the recently-deceased free-for-aller who was based with the Daryl Bier stable right at Pocono, and who was competitive with this national group the last two years. Those "first three horses," by the way, are Wishing Stone, Market Share, and Arch Madness, and when mixed with Sevruga and four other hard-hitters they should give a fit tribute to their fallen fellow competitor. There will also be a $50,000 Invitational Pace, the Adieu to the Almost Summer Pace (no doubt if this race were held in the western part of the state, it would be called the Adios to the Almost Summer Pace, but that's another story). Millionaires Golden Receiver and Bolt The Duer will draw attention here, along with two sharp four-year-olds on three-race winning streaks: Sunfire Blue Chip and Mach It So. The first of Saturday's 16 races is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (And of course on Sunday afternoon, the $1,240,000 PA Sire Stakes 3YO Championships Day will be held at Harrah's Philadelphia, likely to feature a few horse you may have heard of -- Father Patrick and Nuncio, McWicked and Smewhere In L A, Shake It Cerry, Sandbetweenurtoes, horses like that. The draw for those races is tomorrow [Wednesday].) From the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association
Last week for the first time in five weeks we broke even. We didn’t lose money but we were on a four-weekend winning streak for making money. But this now old news and on to this great weekend of racing. It’s the “Roaring Grand Circuit” big time this weekend and it kicks off Friday night at both Vernon Downs and Mohawk Raceway with the Zweig Trot, Crawford Farms Trot plus the Champlain Stakes. And the top horses are competing to make it even better. Then on Saturday the night belongs to Mohawk with the Metro Final, Canadian Pacing Derby, She’s A Great Lady final and the Simcoe Stakes. Super weekend and don’t forget on Labor Day Monday it’s the Cane Pace and Shady Daisy at Tioga Downs. Good Luck! $150,000 Trot Harry M Zweig 3YO Fillies Vernon Downs 6th race FRIDAY – Earlier this season she would have been 1/5 in the morning line but after a tough loss in the Hambletonian Oakes, Shake It Cerry has not yet gotten back the respect she once had. Don’t out this filly out. Last year she crushed at the end of the season and looks to be back in shape. Jump all over her if she goes off at 5/2. Class will tell. Use Broadway Socks and Avalicious in exotic plays. $124,621 Trot Champlain Stake 2YO Open Mohawk Raceway 6th race FRIDAY – Draws the rail and he is on a two-race winning streak. Habitat may be pressed a little early on but he should have things his own way in here. Can sit the pocket or go to the front and not look back. Use Muscle Diamond and Gifted Way in exotic plays. $340,000 Trot Final Harry M Zweig 3YO Colts Vernon Downs 8th race FRIDAY – How on god’s earth can you not even think of going again an entry of Father Patrick and Nuncio against this field. Two of the three best colt trotters in racing and all from the Jimmy Takter Stable. I am surprised they are allowing win betting. Use Flyhawk El Durado and Martiniwithmuscle in exotic plays. $124,621 Trot Champlain Stake 2YO Open Mohawk Raceway 8th race FRIDAY – Having won three times already this season, French Laundry is the horse to beat in here. He is usually hot on the lead and usually wires the field with ease as he can do again. Use Wheels An Smokin and Don’t Rush in exotic plays. $236,000 Trot Crawford Farms Open Vernon Downs 9th race FRIDAY – Last time this world champion was well rested he came back to win with a vengeance. Sebastian K goes for his eighth victory this year and should enjoy Vernon’s oval but wouldn’t count on a world record, just a nice easy win. Remember to watch the mare, Bee A Magician, as she has yet to face Sebastian K. use Bee A Magician and Market Share in exotic plays. $207,689 Pace 3YO Fillies Simcoe Stakes Mohawk Raceway 4th race SATURDAY – This is a very well matched field of top fillies. I am taking a shot that Beach Gal can upset. She has been razor sharp winning two of last three starts including lifetime mark of 1:49.3 right here at Mohawk. Use Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover in exotic plays. $480,000 Pace 2YO Fillies She’s A Great Lady Final Mohawk 5th race SATURDAY – After watching her last couple of starts I am convinced that unbeaten JK Shesalady is the top two-year-old filly of the year and she will prove it in here. She has the ability to get geared up and once in motion she blows by everyone else. Use Band Of Angels and Bedroomconfessions in exotic plays. $667,000 Pace 2YO Colts The Metro Final Mohawk Raceway 7th race SATURDAY – Unbeaten in five starts so far, but what impressive miles they have been for Artspeak. He can just bully his way to the front and never look back, especially in his last two starts at Mohawk. Use Go Daddy Go and Lyons Again in exotic plays. $218,076 Trot 3YO Open Simcoe Stakes Mohawk Raceway 9th race SATURDAY – Since he has never been a rocket ship out of the starting gate, it really does not bother me that Trixton is starting in the second tier here in post 11. Jimmy Takter will weave his magic and once Trixton gets some clearance he will stalk down the field, take the lead and win for fun. It’s the first start back for the Hambletonian winner but he loves Mohawk Raceway. Use P L Hercules and Harper Blue Chip in exotic plays. $634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby Final Mohawk Raceway 10th race SATURDAY – It’s almost not fair anymore like with Sebastian K. Sweet Lou is pretty near perfection this season and goes for his eleventh straight win. He has mowed this opponents down left and right, week after week. When is Ron Burke gonna let Ron Piece cut loose with Sweet Lou and go for a 1:45 mile? More than likely in Lexington. Use State Treasurer and Clear Vision in exotic plays.
The “barefoot wonder” did it again as Sebastian K was able to lead from start to finish and set a harness racing track record for older horses with his 1:53 triumph at Vernon Downs Friday in the $236,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot. Leaving like he was shot out of a rocket, trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt has Sebastian K on the lead just moments after leaving the starting gate. Also leaving and securing the two-hold trip behind him was Archangel and driver Yannick Gingras as they sped to the opening quarter mile in an easy :28.1. Then in typical fashion, Svanstedt backed off Sebastian K to the half mile marker in :57.3 with Archangel right on their backs. It was then that Market Share and driver Tim Tetrick began to move up first-over and following their outside flow was Quick Deal (Matt Kakaley). When they passed the three-quarters in 1:26.3, Market Share was still gaining ground on the leaders and as they started down the stretch Archangel looked as if he had plenty of trot but no place to go as he was locked in behind Sebastian K with Market Share on the outside. Then in the stretch, Svanstedt let Sevastian K have his head and the world champion trotters pulled away from the group and went on to win with ease by two open lengths. Archangel was second with Market Share third. His 1:53 clocking tied the track record for older trotters that was first set in 2013 by For You Almost Free. “It was a great race,” said Bjorn “Bernie” Noren, second trainer for Ake Svanstedt, “He got an easy first half and a pretty good second half. It was an easy race for him tonight. During the off time he does what he always does. He trains twice a week intervals on the sand track and then go in the paddock the rest of the week. “It is such a great experience to have a good horse like him,” Noren said. “It is good to bring a top horse like Sebastian K here and that the fans really appreciate him. He has so many fans now and that is great for harness racing. We need that in our sport. “His next race will be at Hoosier Park on September 20 and then he will go to Lexington,” Noren said. Then we will go to Yonkers for their new International Trot and then maybe if all is OK we will supplement him to the Breeders Crown.” For Sebastian K it was his third straight win and eighth victory in nine outings here in the USA. His only loss was by a neck. The eight-year-old son of Korean was bred and is owned by Knutsson Trotting, Inc. of Vero Beach, FL. Sebastian K paid $2.30 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Freehold, NJ --- Trainer Nifty Norman might not be expecting his star mare Bee A Magician to beat the sport’s top male trotters in Friday’s $236,000 Crawford Farms Open at Vernon Downs, but he’s not shying from the challenge, either. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada, will face nine male rivals in the Crawford. The field includes world champion Sebastian K, who was Sweden’s Horse of the Year in 2012 and is harness racing’s No. 1-ranked horse this season, plus major stakes-winners Archangel, Intimidate, Market Share, Mister Herbie, and Spider Blue Chip. “I’m not intimidated,” Norman said. “We’ve got to do it at some point, anyway, and I think she seems really good right now. I don’t expect to win, but I expect her to be good. She looks fantastic, nice and sound.” Bee A Magician, a 4-year-old mare who was undefeated in 17 races last season, has won two of eight starts this year and finished second on five occasions. She enters the Crawford off a track-record 1:55 victory over the boys in the open on Aug. 22 at Yonkers Raceway. “That had some bearing on our decision, although that was not the same quality field,” Norman said. “But I liked the way she raced there. “Basically, we’ve got to race and it was either against the mares for $40,000 (in Monday’s Miss Versatility Series leg at Tioga Downs) or the boys for $240,000. Getting a piece of $240,000 is better than winning for $40,000. We figured we’d give it a shot. “Plus Classic Martine is racing as good as anybody right now. It’s not like facing the mares was going to be easy.” Prior to the win in the Yonkers open, Bee A Magician finished second twice to Classic Martine in the Ima Lula Series at the Meadowlands. Classic Martine captured the final by a neck in 1:51.1, equaling Bee A Magician’s world-record time for a 4-year-old female trotter. Three of Bee A Magician’s second-place finishes this year came in miles of 1:51.2 or faster. Another came in the Hambletonian Maturity, contested at 1-1/8 mile, against 4-year-old male rivals. “I haven’t been disappointed with her at all this year,” said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee. “I’ve thought she’s gone some great trips. “People keep asking what’s wrong with her because she’s not winning every race. I didn’t expect her to. It’s tough at this age (4). This year is really a learning curve to see how she handles the step up. It’s more to help plan for next year.” Bee A Magician, who has won 29 of 38 races and $2.49 million, will start the Crawford from post three with regular driver Brian Sears. Sebastian K, who has won seven of eight races this year, his first season in North America, starts from post five for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. He is the fastest trotter in history thanks to his 1:49 win in the Sun Invitational at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 28. Intimidate is the only horse to defeat Sebastian K this year, winning the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose. Intimidate, who starts from post eight, won last year’s edition of the Crawford, then called the Credit Winner. Market Share, who has won 24 of 49 races and $3.43 million in his career, was last season’s Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter and the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter. He will start Friday from the trailing position, post 10. “It’s a very good field, that’s for sure,” Norman said. “(Bee A Magician) has got a good spot. There’s lots of speed in there, and if she winds up getting a good enough trip, she should be good enough to get a piece.” The field for the Crawford in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 2. Spider Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Chuck Sylvester; 3. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, Nifty Norman; 4. Flanagan Memory, Brett Miller, Rene Dion; 5. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt; 6. Master Of Law, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 7. Mister Herbie, Brian Sears, Jeff Gillis; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais; 9. Quick Deal, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 10. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano. Spider Blue Chip and Bee A Magician will race as an entry. Market Share will start from the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
The very finest trotters in the land will converge on Vernon Downs the evening of Friday, August 29 for Grand Circuit racing. The Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial drew full fields for both colt and filly divisions and the Crawford Farms Free For All looks to be the race of the season thus far for the veteran trotting set. The Crawford Farms offers a powerful field of ten to compete for a purse of $236,000. Current Top Ten Poll leader and multiple world record setting trotter Sebastian K will bring his impressive arsenal to Central New York for owners Knutsson Trotting and trainer / driver Ake Svanstedt. He will find plenty of competition here including 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, last year's winner of this race and the only horse to vanquish Sebastian K in North American thus far Intimidate and the always formidable Market Share to name but a few. The $340,000 Zweig Memorial main event has landed both Father Patrick and Nuncio from the Jimmy Takter stable. Father Patrick will seek to reestablish his position at the top of the sophomore crop and Nuncio will be coming in on short rest, being entered in a PASS event on Tuesday afternoon. There is also a $60,000 Zweig colt consolation on the Friday card. Takter will also bring the likely favorite for the $150,000 Zweig companion filly race in Shake It Cerry. Last year's divisional champion has won seven of nine this season and is over $1.1 million lifetime for owner Solveig's Racing Partners. Local debutante Avalicious, PASS invader Broadway Socks and NJSS champ Heaven's Door will provide ample resistance to the top choice. The first leg of the 8th annual Tioga & Vernon Downs Drivers' Championship will be on the Friday program as well with four overnight races dedicated to that competition. The Vernon Racing Under Saddle series draws to a close with a $5,700 final and local driving legend, the late Jack Bailey, will be memorialized with the feature preferred trot. The hotly anticipated Jimmy Marohn, Jr bobble-head giveaway and free T shirts will only add to the festivities on this important occasion. Post time for the Friday evening extravaganza will be 6:45pm. Visit the Vernon Downs website for complete entry information and further details on racing and promotions.
Goshen, NY--Few harness horse breeders have made a larger multi-media splash this year than Crawford Farms of Durhamville, New York. When top trotters Sebastian K and Market Share line up for this Friday's (August 29) $200,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Vernon, they will score behind the bright red Crawford Farms starting car. And that is just the beginning of the Crawford's omnipresence. Driven by a passion for the sport, and a desire to help harness racing prosper, the Crawford's have sponsored this season's Meadowlands Pace, Kindergarten Classic and the aforementioned Crawford Farms Trot, formerly the Credit Winner. In addition to vast purse support, they have recently completed a state-of-the-art equine therapeutic spa, 40-stall barn, and a 6-gate horse exerciser at their central New York breeding & racing operation. Their hearts and minds are 'all-in' this game; for their farm and for the future of the Standardbred. Michelle and Albert Crawford have undoubtedly jumped-in with both feet, and provided a much-needed push to a somewhat hesitant industry. "We love this business," noted Albert, son of the late Jim Crawford who was the affable former president of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. "My wife and I are committed to breeding top horses in New York State and supporting the industry in the process. We know that it is an uphill battle, but we are digging in for the long haul!" From the second-story Crawford Farms mural at The Meadowlands to the upcoming Red Mile Grand Circuit meet where the water trucks will bear the farm's iconic insignia, racing fans are constantly reminded of the dynamic duo's substantial commitment to the sport. Evident across multiple digital platforms, the Crawford's are very active on social media and have produced and broadcast several TV commercials. This weekend is no exception. With the $400,000 Zweig Trot also this Friday, renovations to the farm have reached a feverish pace this month in preparation for their inaugural Open House on Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. The team is eager to show the sport the fruits of their labor. "Our yearlings are ready and we hope to draw a large crowd of horse people for some food and refreshments while they evaluate our stock," exclaimed Michelle Crawford, who provides much of the spark in the engine around the farm. "My crew has really stepped up over these past few weeks to make this facility 'show ready' for the upcoming affair," the hostess added with a proud smile. The farm, which was founded in 1966 by Jim and Patricia Crawford, continues to be a family affair. The 100-acre nursery has continued to expand not only their footprint, but also their broodmare band. Last year Crawford Farm was the leading major consignor at the Morrisville Sale and will bring nine yearlings back to that venue on Sept. 21. In addition, they have ten yearlings consigned to the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, including two selling on opening night, Sept. 30. While the yearlings were being videotaped, it was 'all hands on deck' and all feet had running shoes. Al, Michelle, Jim Jr., and even matriarch Pat participated in the 35th annual running of the babies. Albert stated, "This is the day we get to really see what we have. It's exciting, but a little nerve-racking too." When they are not prepping yearlings, Michelle and Al own and operate one of the most successful healthcare lending institutions in the nation, Bankers Healthcare Group. In fact, BHG was ranked as the 5th Fastest Growing Private Company by Inc. Formed in 1992 from a modest group of four finance experts, BHG now employs close to 200. It appears that growth and commitment are not just a mission statement, it is a Crawford way of life. by Chris Tully
Freehold, NJ --- Three-year-old filly pacer Sandbetweenurtoes improved to 8-for-8 this season and moved from No. 10 to seventh in this week’s harness racing Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sandbetweenurtoes won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and was the only horse in the Top 10 to improve its position from last week. The top six remained unchanged, with older male trotter Sebastian K holding onto the No. 1 spot, followed by older male pacer Sweet Lou. Sebastian K, who was idle, and Sweet Lou, who won the Dan Patch Invitational, were the only horses receiving first-place votes, with Sweet Lou adding two to his total from last week. Trotters Father Patrick and Trixton were next in the poll, followed by Empire Breeders Classic winner He’s Watching. McWicked, who won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, was sixth. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 13 – 8/12/2014 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (29) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 343 1 2 Sweet Lou (6) 5ph 12-9-1-1 $916,500 312 2 3 Father Patrick 3tc 7-6-0-0 $520,992 245 3 4 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 244 4 5 He’s Watching 3pc 8-5-1-1 $692,247 220 5 6 McWicked 3pc 10-7-2-0 $654,271 157 6 7 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 8-8-0-0 $248,598 82 T10 8 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 62 8 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 57 9 10 JK Endofanera 3pc 9-5-2-1 $633,673 52 7 Also: Shake It Cerry (35), Classic Martine (34), Rocklamation (15), Centurion ATM, Lifetime Pursuit, Yankee Bounty (9), Artspeak, Market Share (8), Modern Family (7), Intimidate (5), Archangel (4), Dancin Yankee, Somewhere In L A (3), I Like My Boss, Sometimes Said (1). by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications
Freehold, NJ --- Sweet Lou moved nearer to No. 1 Sebastian K and Trixton pulled into a near dead heat with stablemate Father Patrick in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sebastian K remained in the top spot coming off his world-record-equaling win in last week’s John Cashman Jr. Memorial while Sweet Lou, who won the U.S. Pacing Championship, swapped places with Father Patrick to take over the second slot. Hambletonian winner Trixton vaulted from sixth to fourth, just one point behind Father Patrick. Mission Brief, who equaled the world record in winning the Merrie Annabelle Stakes, and Ima Lula Series winner Classic Martine, who also equaled a world record, joined the Top 10. Mission Brief is ninth while Classic Martine is tied with Sandbetweenurtoes for the final spot. Shake It Cerry dropped out of the Top 10. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 12 – 8/5/2014 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (31) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 344 1 2 Sweet Lou (4) 5ph 11-8-1-1 $791,500 307 3 3 Father Patrick 3tc 7-6-0-0 $520,992 240 2 4 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 239 6 5 He’s Watching 3pc 7-4-1-1 $564,485 207 4 6 McWicked 3pc 9-6-2-0 $618,830 156 5 7 JK Endofanera 3pc 8-5-1-1 $569,792 59 8 8 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 56 10 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 49 -- T10 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 7-7-0-0 $211,157 47 9 T10 Classic Martine 4tm 9-7-0-1 $221,732 47 -- Also: Shake It Cerry (38), Dancin Yankee (37), Rocklamation (18), Centurion ATM (14), Market Share (12), Archangel (11), Intimidate, Lifetime Pursuit (10), Artspeak, Modern Family (7), Yankee Bounty (6), Perfect Alliance (2), Bee A Magician, I Like My Boss (1). Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications Courtesy of the U.S. Trotting Association
Sebastian K and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt showed they can sit a pocket trip and still have plenty left for the finish as they demolished a field of top trotters in capturing the $300,650 John Cashman Final at the Meadowlands Saturday. The time of the race tied the world record of 1:50. Usually Sebastian K has the early gate speed to be on the lead but this time it was driver Yannick Gingras putting the pedal to the metal with Archangel and out leaving Sebastian K to the opening quarter in a quick :26.2. They raced that way past the half mile marker in :54.4 as John Campbell started to come first-over with Mister Herbie but to no avail as Svanstedt pulled on the right line and sent Sebastian K after Archangel by the final turn and they raced as a duo to the three-quarters in 1:22.4. Then it was time to separate the men from the boys and that is what Svanstedt did with Sebastian K, pulling out the ear plugs and his world champion trotted away from the field in the stretch to win by four open lengths. Market Share (Tim Tetrick) closed well to be second with Archangle fading to third place. With is 1:50 clocking, Sebastian K tied the world record over a one mile track that was set last week by Intimidate. “He has been good all year,” said Ake Svanstedt, “Every race this year, he was very good. He (Archangel) leave very fast and he pushed his horse for that and so I take it easy with him. We’re not going to race one month. We have raced every weekend in four weeks now, so it’s too much for him. He gets a break now." It was the seventh win in just eight starts this year for Sebastian K. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting of Vero Beach, FL and paid $2.60 to win. For Svanstedt, it was his third victory on the program. Sebastian K By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications