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Wilkes-Barre, PA - Shake That House and harness racing driver Brian Sears found a good spot early and an even better spot at the end of Saturday's (June 29) $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Benefiting from a pocket trip behind pacesetting Captain Victorious, Shake That House moved off the pylons heading into the stretch and marched to a two length win over Brassy Hanover in 1:49.2 over a "good" surface at Pocono. Captain Victorious finished third. Shake That House, who started from post seven and was sent off at odds of 8-1, got to the front on the first turn but yielded the lead to Captain Victorious following an opening quarter in :26.2. Captain Victorious reached the half in :55.1 and then faced a first-over challenge from Hurrikane Emperor as they reached three-quarters in 1:21.4. Captain Victorious rebuffed Hurrikane Emperor on the final turn but was unable to hold off Shake That House or Brassy Hanover in the stretch. "I was just glad I put down Brian Sears to drive (Shake That House)," winning trainer Chris Oakes said. "Once you hand the lines off, you want the right guy in the bike. When the money is on the line, (Sears) is the man." Shake That House, a son of American Ideal-Shake That Junk, has won five of six races this year and eight of 14 in his career. He pushed his lifetime earnings to $410,903 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Alan Johnston, and Northfork Racing Stable. The colt paid $19.40 to win. "I can't say enough about my crew," Oakes said. "They worked day and night for the last week and we got the job done." Max C. Hempt was a renowned Pennsylvania-based breeder, whose horses were known for the prefix "Keystone," as well as a longtime director of the U.S. Trotting Association and Hambletonian Society. He served as the Hambletonian Society president from 1966-1984 and the creation of the Breeders Crown series evolved under his leadership. Hempt, who passed away in 1999, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1980. In the $75,000 consolation of the Hempt, Captain Trevor led a sweep of the top-three spots for trainer Tony Alagna. Captain Trevor, the 9-5 second choice, was driven by Andy McCarthy and stopped the clock in 1:50.1. Odds On Boca Raton finished second, three-quarters of a length behind the winner, while Escapetothebeach, the 6-5 favorite, was third. Captain Trevor, a son of Captaintreacherous-It Was Fascination, has won two of six races this year and eight of 15 in his career. He pushed his lifetime earnings to $186,250 for owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Brad Grant, and Captain Trevor Racing. He paid $5.80 to win. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Harness racing trainer Brian Brown sends two horses into Saturday's $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, including morning-line favorite Proof, as he looks to win the race for the second time in three years. Proof won the fastest of last weekend's three Hempt eliminations, stopping the timer in 1:48.1, which also is the second-quickest mile of the season for a 3-year-old pacer. Proof has won back-to-back races after posting a second and a third in his first three starts of the campaign. He starts Saturday from post No. 2 with David Miller in the sulky and is 5-2 on the morning line. For his career, Proof has won eight of 16 races and $476,299. The homebred son of A Rocknroll Dance-Ginger And Fred is owned by Diamond Creek Racing. "Early in the year, Proof just wasn't a hundred percent," said Brown, who won the 2017 Hempt with Fear The Dragon. "I'm not a hundred percent sure what it was, other than the last two starts I put some different pads on his front feet, and he's been a lot better. He was unbelievable last Saturday night. "I hope he comes back to even near what he was. Sometimes when a horse throws out a race like that, he might bounce the next week; sometimes it takes a little out of them and they won't be as good. I trained him (Wednesday), had the vet watching him train, and we both thought he looked really good. He trained really good. He didn't go a lot, it's not like he could have trained bad, but he's in good shape, I believe, coming in." Brown's other Hempt finalist is Air Force Hanover, who finished second to Shake The House in his elimination. Air Force Hanover, who starts from post six and is 8-1 on the morning line, will be driven by Dexter Dunn. He has won five of 19 career races and $215,888. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Allamerican Cognac is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Rich Lombardo, and Bill Donovan. "He didn't draw the better of the two, so he's got his work cut out for him," Brown said. "He raced really good last week. He was parked a quarter in :26 (seconds) and a piece and still was finishing good. I think he's coming to the race in pretty good shape. "I think we're lining up pretty good here. Some of the best ones drew outside, so I think we're in good shape." Air Force Hanover Shake That House, who won his elimination in 1:49, drew post seven for trainer Chris Oakes and driver Brian Sears. The remaining elim winner, Captain Victorious, got post eight. He will have Yannick Gingras at the lines for trainer Ron Burke. If all goes well following the Hempt, Brown plans to send Proof to the Meadowlands Pace and Air Force Hanover to the Adios. Brown-trained Workin Ona Mystery, who skipped the Hempt after a third-place finish in the North America Cup, will also go to the Meadowlands Pace. "It's just finding the right spots for the right horse," Brown said. Max C. Hempt was a renowned Pennsylvania-based breeder, whose horses were known for the prefix "Keystone," as well as a longtime director of the U.S. Trotting Association and Hambletonian Society. He served as the Hambletonian Society president from 1966-1984 and the creation of the Breeders Crown series evolved under his leadership. Hempt, who passed away in 1999, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1980. Following is the field for this year's Max C. Hempt Memorial. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Lyons Night Hawk-Tim Tetrick-Gareth Dowse-6/1 2-Proof-David Miller-Brian Brown-5/2 3-Brassy Hanover-Corey Callahan-Eddie Dennis-15/1 4-Hurrikane Emperor-Dan Dube-John McDermott-5/1 5-Highlandbeachlover-George Napolitano Jr.-Kelly O'Donnell-20/1 6-Air Force Hanover-Dexter Dunn-Brian Brown-8/1 7-Shake That House-Brian Sears-Chris Oakes-4/1 8-Captain Victorious-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-7/2 9-Aflame Hanover-Andy McCarthy-Linda Schadel-12/1 Saturday's card at Pocono also features the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, and $500,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Harness racing is a fascinating sport, in large part because of its unpredictability. Coming into Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, we previewed the races and focused on the horses that seemed likely to dominate the action. By the time the dust cleared on Saturday night, only one of the four races went even remotely how all of those previews expected it go. And we weren't alone: The races also flummoxed the betting public, as just one of the four huge stakes races on the card went to a favorite. More than that though, the biggest names on the program, for the most part, struggled, while some new, unsung heroes stepped up in their wake. As we take a look back at the four finals from Saturday while keeping a watchful eye on the horizon and the Breeders Crown at Pocono in October, it all comes back down to a powerful lesson: In this sport, nobody knows anything. $300,000 JAMES M LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-old fillies) The favorite in this race was Sidewalk Dancer, who was coming off a hard-luck loss in the eliminations but stood to enjoy a much better post position in the final. Kissin In The Sand, who had beaten Sidewalk Dancer the week before, was saddled with an outside post this time around. Meanwhile Youaremycandygirl, the defending division champion, seemed ready for a big mile on the front end following her own elimination win. Kissin In The Sand did indeed get the worst of it, parked the entire mile outside of pacesetting Youaremycandygirl. But driver Scott Zeron made the best of it, keeping Kissin In The Sand afloat somehow until she surged past Youaremycandygirl to win it by a neck for trainer Nancy Johansson in a career-best 1:49.3 $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-olds) Lather Up came into the final looking absolutely unbeatable. Winner of his first seven starts on the year, including a triumph in the lucrative North American Cup and a waltz in the previous week's eliminations, he was bet down to odds-on. For whatever reason, he just never fired, starting in the middle of the pack, stalling out on a first-over attempt, and even eventually going off stride. That didn't stop the others in the field for going after the huge purse with everything they had. Dorsoduro Hanover set a nasty pace, leading to the closers coming into the picture. The best of those closers was Springsteen, overlooked at 15-1 despite an impressive record and despite coming from the Rene Allard barn. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided around the tiring leaders late to win in a career-best 1:48.3. Glory days, indeed. $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN PACE (Free-For-All) McWicked was attempting to become the first horse in history to win both the Hempt and the Franklin, all the more impressive because of the four years elapsed between his Hempt win as a three-year-old. The pride of the Casie Coleman barn has been stellar this year, even when in defeat, and he conjured up a second-over trip in the final as the 3-5 choice. The one thing that didn't go according to plan for the seven-year-old stallion was a pace that was rather tepid. Under normal circumstances, that would make it difficult for a horse coming from off the pace. But McWicked is good enough to overcome such circumstances. When driver Brian Sears called on him for more, he blitzed the leaders and hustled home for the victory in 1:49.3, securing the Hempt-Franklin Daily Double in the process. $500,000 EARL BEAL JR MEMORIAL TROT (Three-year-olds) This race was billed as one where something had to give. Mission Accepted came in from Ohio to win an elimination and stood four-for-four this year. Six Pack, a New York invader, trumped that with seven straight wins dating to last season. And then there was Manchego, the superstar filly unbeaten after 15 career races and trying to beat the boys. It turned out that they all gave. The late-trotting style of Mission Accepted didn't suit a race where there were soft fractions. Meanwhile Six Pack, who grabbed the early lead, and Manchego, who came first-over, weakened each other. Manchego's winning streak went up in flames when she went off-stride, Six Pack wearied, and Crystal Fashion, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Jim Campbell, showed them all how it was done by rallying from the pocket to win in 1:51.4 It was another thrilling Sun Stakes Saturday, even if it didn't turn out as quite expected. The surprising results only make the divisions involved more interesting as we head towards the many more stakes races ahead, both at Pocono and elsewhere. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

Owner Brad Grant hopes the best is yet to come from O'Brien Award-winner Stay Hungry, who will be among eight harness racing horses trying to hand Lather Up his first loss of the year in Saturday's $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Stay Hungry, trained by Tony Alagna, finished a troubled-trip third last week in his Hempt elimination, beaten a half-length by winner Hitman Hill. Stay Hungry and driver Doug McNair will start the final from post No. 5, which has produced a track-best 16.2 win percentage this year, and are the 7-2 second choice on the morning line behind favorite Lather Up. Lather Up, the North America Cup champion who improved to 7-for-7 this season with his Hempt elimination victory, is 2-1 with driver Montrell Teague from post seven. "It's a tough division and Lather Up at this point is probably a head better than everybody else," Grant said. "You could be racing for second money, but you never know. When they're going for half-a-million dollars they're going to be racing. We lucked out getting (post) five. There is going to be a lot of front-end speed and this colt seems to like to come from the back end." The Hempt is one of four marquee events that make up Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono. The card also features the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, where filly Manchego is the 5-2 morning-line favorite; $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, with McWicked the 5-2 favorite; and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers, where Sidewalk Dancer is the 5-2 choice. Stay Hungry is a son of 2008 Horse of the Year winner Somebeachsomewhere out of My Little Dragon, who was a multiple Dan Patch Award winner. Last year, Stay Hungry won six of nine races, including the Breeders Crown, and earned $535,742 for owners Grant and Irwin Samelman on his way to receiving the O'Brien Award as Canada's best 2-year-old male pacer. Samelman passed away in May at the age of 87. "We had a lot of fun with the horse last year," said Grant, whose partnership with Samelman on Stay Hungry was his first. "It was the first time for both of us winning a Breeders Crown and winning an O'Brien. It was great that we got to share that together. In the little time I knew him, he was a gentleman's gentleman." Stay Hungry has won one of four races this year and earned $83,642. He finished third, beaten by a neck, in his seasonal debut in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes before winning an elimination of the North America Cup. He finished fourth in the Cup final. "I was a little disappointed with his results in the North America Cup, but he wasn't a hundred percent after the race," Grant said. "You can't take anything away from Lather Up, he's just outstanding, but I thought Dougie had given (Stay Hungry) a great drive and we would finish second. He just was off a little bit and didn't fire like the week before." In his Hempt elimination, Stay Hungry was following Sometimesawinner on the outside when Sometimesawinner went off stride and caused McNair and Stay Hungry to lose momentum. Stay Hungry finished with a :26.4 last quarter-mile to rally for third place. "The horse raced great considering we came to a stop up the backstretch," Grant said. "I think we haven't seen the best of this colt yet, so you keep looking forward. "It's all about being the right horse on the right day and when they're on their game." Joining Lather Up and Hitman Hill as Hempt elimination winners was Dorsoduro Hanover, who won for the fourth time in five starts this season. The top-three finishers from each of the three eliminations advanced to the final. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. The Hempt is race No. 10 on the card, preceded by the Lynch and followed by the Franklin and Beal. Max C. Hempt was a renowned Pennsylvania-based breeder, whose horses were known for the prefix "Keystone," as well as a longtime director of the U.S. Trotting Association and Hambletonian Society. He served as the Hambletonian Society president from 1966-1984 and the creation of the Breeders Crown series evolved under his leadership. Hempt, who passed away in 1999, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1980. Following is the field for this year's Max C. Hempt Memorial. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1 - Nutcracker Sweet by Bettor's Delight - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 10/1 2 - Hitman Hill by American Ideal - Brett Miller - Chris Oakes - 9/2 3 - Springsteen by Rock N Roll Heaven - Simon Allard - Rene Allard - 8/1 4 - Dorsoduro Hanover by Somebeachsomewhere -Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 6/1 5 - Stay Hungry by Somebeachsomewhere - Doug McNair - Tony Alagna - 7/2 6  -Shnitzledosomethin by Fred And Ginger -Yannick Gingras - Dylan Davis - 12/1 7 - Lather Up by Im Gorgeous - Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis - 2/1 8 - Wes Delight by Bettor's Delight - Corey Callahan - Mark Harder - 15/1 9 - This Is The Plan by Somebeachsomewhere - Tim Tetrick-Chris Ryder-20/1 Complete entries for the card are available at this link. by Ken Weingartner for the USTA 

Last week's eliminations for this coming week's Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono were notable for the way that most of the biggest names were able to sail through to the finals. In many cases, the elimination week can be extremely troublesome for highly-favored horses, but nine of the eleven Sun Stakes elims were won by the favorites, while the other two favorites who came up short did manage to get in by finishing high enough in the order. Although there were some highly-regarded horses who came up short of the finals, the races on Saturday are about as star-studded as fans could have hoped. As we both look back at the elims and preview the finals, you'll note that post position is a big factor heading into this Saturday. A few horses will have to overcome some tough spots to take home the winner's share of the giant purses, while others will benefit from much better posts than they had a week ago. Here's how it all shakes out. Race 9: The James M. Lynch Memorial Pace This $300,000 showcase for three-year-old fillies is distinguished by extremes in terms of the post position draw. Sidewalk Dancer, who actually came up short in her elimination behind Kissin In The Sand, will be the favorite. The reason: She had to deal with an outside post in the elimination, but for the final the Chris Oakes trainee gets the inside post. Meanwhile Kissin In The Sand drew the short straw and will start from the dreaded #9 post. Youaremycandygirl comes in as the defending division champion but has endured an up-and-down year. Although she won her elimination, her front-pacing style really benefitted from soft fractions, fractions she's unlikely to get away with on Saturday night. One to watch who could get you decent odds is the Ron Burke-trained Double A Mint, who was closing fast last week right behind Youaremycandygirl. Race 10: The Max C. Hempt Memorial Pace With $500,000 on the line for three-year-old open pacers, you might expect it to be an incredibly competitive group. But the bottom line is that if Lather Up races like he has throughout this year, he will be tough to beat. Unbeaten this year with a win in the North American Cup as a highlight, he left the pursuit behind late in his elimination. Although Dorsoduro Hanover and Hitman Hill were the other elimination winners, it feels like the one with the best chance of springing the upset is Stay Hungry, a Breeders Crown champion at age two and coming off a third in the elimination despite an awful trip. Springsteen, coming out of the Rene Allard barn, also could be looking to enjoy some glory days on Saturday night, but this is Lather Up's show. He just needs to race to his potential. Race 11: The Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace On the one hand, McWicked was the easiest winner of Saturday night's three eliminations for the $500,000 showcase for aged pacers, gliding first-over to a comfortable win. But he only had to beat four other pacers in that split, so the task on Saturday night will be considerably more difficult for the favorite. All Bets Off, Sintra, and Filibuster Hanover come out of last week's most competitive race, as All Bets Off won thanks to a DQ of Sintra, who finished first but went inside the pylons to do it. Don't sleep on Filibuster Hanover, who was squeezed in the stretch to suffer his first loss of the year. If the pace gets wild and woolly, which it very well could, Heaven Rocks A, the Aussie invader who came from behind to win his split, could be a major factor, although McWicked also generally comes from off the pace. Race 12: The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot Something has to give in the $500,000 sophomore trotting showcase. Colts Mission Accepted and Six Pack come in undefeated on the year, but the filly Manchego is unbeaten in her career, having passed her first test against the boys in the eliminations, albeit barely over Crystal Fashion. Ake Svanstedt's Six Pack is stuck on the outside, which won't make it easy on his favored style of early speed. The Ohio invader Mission Accepted proved he belonged with a furious rally to win his split. Crystal Fashion must be feeling confident following his near-miss against Manchego, while Patent Leather, Fashion Woodchopper, and Evaluate are all extremely dangerous. If Manchego sustains against this stacked field, it's hard to imagine her losing anytime soon. As you can tell, it should be a thrilling night of racing on Sun Stakes Saturday. Don't miss out on the action. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

When owner Gary Iles reflects on Lather Up's win in last week's Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park, he cannot help but feel blessed. Iles and his wife Barbara watched their homebred colt overcome a number of obstacles and horses to reach the top of the 3-year-old pacing ranks with his win in the C$1 million race. "There is one horse a year that gets to do this," Iles said. "I'm 79 years old; I thought I was running out of time. Thank God it worked out and I had my opportunity and we succeeded. I'm humbled by it. I'm humbled by the whole thing. We're very fortunate. "There were 79 horses nominated (to the North America Cup) and 29 started and to think that out of that you end up being the best of the best. It's a wonderful situation. You have to be blessed." Montrell Teague drove Lather Up, the 3-5 favorite, to victory for trainer Clyde Francis and the George Teague Jr. training stable. Montrell Teague and Francis finished second with Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2-5 favorite, in the 2015 North America Cup. "It made me want it more since I lost it with Wiggles," the 27-year-old Teague said. "It's a million-dollar race, the first million-dollar race I ever won, so to be added to that list and add that to my accomplishments, it feels great." Added Francis, "We went up there with Wiggles and were the best going into the race, but anything can happen. It's horseracing. Going to the final (with Lather Up) I really thought we had a good shot at it. But I wasn't going to say anything before, just keep it to myself. When it was over, it was a great feeling." Iles, Teague and Francis all were happy with Lather Up's trip in the North America Cup, which saw him get to the front in a :26.3 opening quarter, yield the top spot briefly to Done Well, and retake the lead prior to reaching the half-mile point in :54.1. From there, Lather Up led to three-quarters in 1:21.3 before winning by 3-1/4 lengths in 1:48.1. "I got the trip that I didn't expect to get, but the trip that I wanted," Teague said. "I was happy when (Done Well) came and Montrell retook and no one else came," Iles said. "I thought we had a shot at it then because I know (Lather Up) has that good speed coming home. That's the way it worked out. I'm just amazed he has that kick at the end. But you don't take it for granted until he crosses that wire because a lot can happen." Said Francis, "When he moved him back to the front I thought he was in a good spot there because they were going to have to come after him. (At the top of the stretch) I was still pretty confident; Montrell hadn't urged him. When he popped the plugs, it was over. They weren't getting to him. Every start he raced, when they came off the turn and hit the lane he was ready to roll. Everything worked out well." All that remained was a trip to the winner's circle, where the Iles were joined by family and friends. "There were all those (camera) shutters going off and everyone saying, 'Look here, look here, look here.' It was quite amazing," Iles said. "It was a wonderful feeling. I was really thankful for the support we had. "More than that, the horse is down in history. That's something quite exciting." Lather Up will look to remain undefeated in 2018 Saturday when he competes in the third of three Max C. Hempt Memorial eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Lather Up, who is 6-for-6 this season, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in his elim, which also includes North America Cup runner-up Done Well. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 Hempt final on June 30 at Pocono. Saturday's card also features eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. "It's a tough field, a very tough field," Iles said about the Hempt. "I'm happy to be there. When you're doing this shipping, a lot of horses come down with some kind of sickness. Fortunately, it hasn't hit us. Hopefully, it doesn't hit anybody. But it's always a concern." "I think he will be all right," Francis said. "He's in with a bunch of the same horses he raced (last) Saturday night. He trained good today and came out of it well. We're just hoping for the best." Following the win in the North America Cup, Lather Up moved up to No. 2 in the sport's weekly rankings, trailing only 6-year-old female trotter Hannelore Hanover, the defending Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada. Lather Up was the only 3-year-old male pacer among the top 14 horses in the poll. "It's still early," Teague said. "Mine looks the most exciting so far, but any of them can step up at any time. That was the first big race, but there are plenty more. You never know who is going to step up. "But so far it's definitely fun. He's looking like the good horse we thought he was going to be. Even more." For Saturday's complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

WILKES-BARRE PA - Here are the fields for Saturday's elimination races to determine the various Championship finalists on June 30's $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday supercard at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Listed are the post position, horse, trainer, driver (in italics if changed at scratch time today), and the morning line odds. The elimination purses are: $35,000 for the Franklin, $25,000 for the Beal and Hempt, and $20,000 for the Lynch. The Championships are $500,000 for the Franklin, Beal, and Hempt, and $300,000 for the Lynch. The top three from each of the three eliminations will return for their Championships except for the Lynch - it has only two eliminations, so the first four and the faster fifth-place horse will come back for the big money. BEAL TROT (3YO OPEN) BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 3 - 1, Patent Leather, trainer Jim Campbell, driver Tim Tetrick, 5-2; 2, Tito, Erv Miller, Marcus Miller, 8-1; 3, Lawmaker, Andrew Harris, Anthony MacDonald, 6-1; 4, Mission Accepted, Jeff Conger, Ryan Stahl, 3-1; 5, Winning Shadow, Jake Huff, David Miller, 12-1; 6, Whats The Word, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 7-2; 7, Voss Volo, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 9-2. BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 5 - 1, Missle Hill, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair, 5-1; 2, Moosonee, Chris Beaver, Aaron Merriman, 7-2; 3, Evaluate, Marcus Melander, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 4, Rich And Miserable, Todd Buter, Tyler Buter, 10-1; 5, Fashionwoodchopper, Jim Campbell, David Miller, 6-1; 6, Six Pack, trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt, 2-1; 7, Scirocco Rob, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 12-1. BEAM ELIMINATION RACE 11 - 1, Alarm Detector, Benoit Baillargeon, Trevor Henry, 3-1; 2, Gemologist; trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt, 15-1; 3, Crystal Fashion, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick, 4-1; 4, Mississippi Storm, Tom Fanning, David Miller, 12-1; 5, Manchego, Jimmy Takter, Yannick Gingras, 2-1; 6, Fashion Forever, Jim Campbell, Corey Callahan, 10-1; 7, Fiftydallarbill, Bill Crone, Brett Miller, 8-1; 8, Fourth Dimension, Marcus Melander, Brian Sears, 5-1. FRANKLIN PACE (FFA) FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 2 - 1, Easy Lover Hanover, Ben Wallace, Doug McNair, 8-1; 2, Check Six, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 9-2; 3, Missile J, Scott Di Domenico, Matt Kakaley, 6-1; 4, Heaven Rocks A, Ross Croghan, David Miller, 5-2; 5, Western Fame, Jimmy Takter, Andrew McCarthy, 3-1; 6, Split The House, Chris Oakes, George Napolitano Jr., 7-2; 7, Donttellmeagain, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick, 12-1. FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 4 - 1, Rockin Ron, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 5-2; 2, Scott Rocks, Hunter Oakes, George Napolitano Jr., 7-2; 3, Waikiki Beach A, Ross Croghan, Scott Zeron, 6-1; 4, McWicked, Casey Coleman, Brian Sears, 2-1; 5, Mach It So, Jeff Bamond Jr., Tim Tetrick, 5-1; 6, Mac's Jackpot, Jeffrey Smith, Brett Miller, 10-1. FRANKLIN RACE 10 - 1, Sintra, David Menary, Jody Jamieson, 3-1; 2, Boogie Shuffle, Mark Harder, David Miller, 8-1; 3, Christen Me N, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick, 12-1; 4, All Bets Off, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 7-2; 5, Dealt A Winner, Mark Silva, Brett Miller, 9-2; 6, Filibuster Hanover, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 5-2; 7, Funknwaffles, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 6-1. HEMPT PACE (3YO COLTS) HEMPT ELIM RACE 6 - 1, This Is The Plan, Chris Ryder, Tim Tetrick, 5-1; 2, Daddyofemall, Dan Altmeyer, Mike Wilder, 12-1; 3, Cinnamack, Brian Brown, Scott Zeron, 4-1; 4, Keystone Tenacious, Paul Kelley, Mark MacDonald, 6-1; 5, Dorsoduro Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 5-2; 6, Springsteen, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 3-1; 7, Stendahl Hanover, Eddie Sager, Marcus Miller, 20-1; 8, Decoy, Jimmy Takter, David Miller, 10-1; 9, Closing Statement, Joe Holloway, Brian Sears, 15-1. HEMPT ELIM RACE 9 - 1, Whos Better, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick, 15-1; 2, Sometimesawinner, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 10-1; 3, Shnitzledosomethin, Dylan Davis, David Miller, 6-1; 4, Hitman Hill, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller, 3-1; 5, I'm A Big Deal, Chris Ryder, George Napolitano Jr., 4-1; 6, Points North, Nifty Norman, Andrew McCarthy, 9-2; 7, Grand Teton, Jimmy Takter, Scott Zeron, 12-1; 8, Stay Hungry, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair, 5-2. HEMPT ELIM RACE 12 - 1, Rock Lights, Katricia Adams, George Napolitano Jr., 15-1; 2, Babes Dig Me, Tony Alagna, Brett Miller, 12-1; 3, Heavenly Sound, Bruce Saunders, Andrew McCarthy. 10-1; 4, Nutcracker Sweet, Jimmy Takter, David Miller, 8-1; 5, Wes Delight, Mark Harder, Corey Callahan, 4-1; 6. Done Well, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 7, Lather Up, Clyde Francis, Montrell Teague, 2-1; 8, Courtly Choice, Blake MacIntosh, Mark MacDonald, 5-1. LYNCH PACE (3YO FILLIES) LYNCH ELIM RACE 7 - 1, Carlo's Superstar, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 12-1; 2, Youaremycandygirl, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 5-2; 3, Alexa's Power, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 4, Double A Mint, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 9-2; 5, Hypnotic Tale, Linda Toscano, David Miller, 4-1; 6, Pass Line Bluechip, Wayne Givens, Montrell Teague, 6-1; 7, Majorsspeciallady, Ron Burke, Brett Miller, 10-1; 8, Ideal Talker, Noel Daley, Andrew McCarthy, 15-1. LYNCH ELIM RACE 8 - 1, Python Blue Chip, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 10-1; 2, I'm Trigger Happy, Tony Osullivan, David Miller, 9-2; 3, Kissin In The Sand, Nancy Johansson, Scott Zeron, 5-2; 4, Solitary, Nick Surick, Marcus Miller, 12-1; 5, Cuts Like A Knife, Bruce Saunders, Tim Tetrick, 15-1; 6, Sansovia Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 6-1; 7, Serene Stride, Mark Harder, Corey Callahan, 4-1; 8, Sidewalk Dancer, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller, 3-1. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

Wilkes-Barre, PA --- After losing for the first time this season in last week's Max C. Hempt Memorial eliminations for harness racing 3-year-old male pacers, Fear The Dragon was right back to winning form in Saturday's (July 1) final, capturing the $500,000 event by three-quarters of a length over Funknwaffles in 1:49.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   Donttellmeagain finished third and Miso Fast was fourth.   Fear The Dragon, the 1-2 favorite from post one with David Miller in the sulky, enjoyed a second-over trip up the backstretch behind Miso Fast and made a three-wide move on the final turn before taking the lead from stablemate Downbytheseaside in the stretch. Funknwaffles, at 23-1, and Donttellmeagain, at 24-1, made late charges to claim the next two spots.   Downbytheseaside raced hard from post eight in the opening quarter-mile, finally wrestling the lead from Santafe's Coach in a :25.4 panel. Downbytheseaside remained on top until the last turn, when Miso Fast put his head in front just after reaching three-quarters in 1:22.2.   "I thought that off the rail as long as he didn't get in any trouble early he would be in great shape," winning trainer Brian Brown said. "He loves to come from behind and David had his choice of where he wanted to land, and he landed in the perfect spot.   "The speed hasn't been great tonight and when my other horse (Downbytheseaside) gets parked a quarter in :25.4 that was enough to do him in. That pretty much set the whole thing up for Fear The Dragon."   Fear The Dragon has won seven of eight races this year, including the Pepsi North America Cup, and earned $711,953 for owner Bruce Trogdon's Emerald Highlands Farm. Last year, the colt won five of 11 races, hitting the board a total of 10 times, and earned $228,391.   Trogdon bought Fear The Dragon's dam, Armbro Cinnamon, in foal to stallion Dragon Again, with the resulting foal being Fear The Dragon.   "It's great," Trogdon said. "Raising him up he was always special. I normally don't keep that many colts, but I had a few nice ones and he was one of my favorites all along. It's kind of been a dream come true.   "He was great last year, but people don't realize it. In the earlier (Pennsylvania) Sire Stakes races he beat Huntsville, he beat everybody. He basically got an eye infection, of all the weird things, and we went ahead and took him to Lexington but he just wasn't himself."   Fear The Dragon is not eligible to the upcoming Meadowlands Pace and Brown said it was unlikely the colt would be supplemented.   "We're 99 percent sure that we're going to give him the next two weeks off and then head to the Adios," Brown said.   "I knew when we set up the schedule at the beginning of the year," Trogdon said, "that we would go to the North America Cup and then here. My wife and I got engaged at the Adios, so that was on my list. The way the schedule is set up, you have to have a break somewhere. That's the way we had done it."   Fear The Dragon     $75,000 Hempt consolation   In the $75,000 Hempt consolation, Heaven's Gait grabbed the lead with a first-over move just prior to the halfway point and remained on top from there, winning by a neck over Every Way Out in 1:50.4. Summer Side finished third.   David Miller drove Heaven's Gait, the 6/5 favorite, for breeder/owner John Cummins and trainer Nicholas DeVita. Heaven's Gait is a son of Rock N Roll Heaven out of the mare Booya Beach. He has won four of nine races this year and earned $80,285. For his career, the colt has won six of 14 starts and $97,235.   Heaven's Gait     Ken Weingartner

When Santafe's Coach strode into the winner's circle at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday (June 24) after his triumph at odds of 21-1 in his $25,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial elimination, quite the contingent was there to greet him. Although the public did not appreciate the 3-year-old colt's chances to have his picture taken, his harness racing connections were not surprised they were exactly in that very position and hope to repeat that experience on Saturday (July 1) after the $500,000 final. "It was one of the most spectacular moments of my life; just unbelievable and words cannot really express watching him last Saturday," said Edward De Rosa, the colt's co-owner and breeder. "However, none of us thought it was stunning he won. He is very lightly raced, but we knew he had the talent and the heart to pace with these types of horses. His desire is something that makes him very special because he really wants to win and that is a trait you cannot breed into them." The son of Bettor's Delight-Thesantafe Express, also owned by Matthew Iovaldi and Ralph Woythaler, will attempt to replicate his last journey at the Wilkes-Barre facility when he and his regular pilot, Anthony Napolitano, begin pacing from post position two in the evening's 10th race. The Hempt is one of four stakes at Pocono on Saturday, with the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Ariana G, the Dan Patch Award-winning filly who is 3-for-3 this season, is the favorite in the Beal as she looks to take down eight male rivals; elimination winners Mel Mara and Keystone Velocity lead the Franklin; while the top four finishers in the Fan Hanover Stakes -- Bettor's Up, Agent Q, Tequila Monday and Idyllic Beach -- are ready for a rematch in the Lynch. To duplicate his effort from last weekend, Santafe's Coach, who is 12-1 on the morning line and conditioned by Leo Iordan, will have to best the daunting duo of North America Cup victor Fear The Dragon (post one, David Miller, 5-2) and world champion and Hempt elimination winner Downbytheseaside (post eight, Brian Sears, 3-1), along with the other elimination winner Miso Fast (post four, Matt Kakaley, 4-1). With a lifetime record of 11-4-3-1 and $51,010 in earnings, Santafe's Coach has been brought along slowly with an eye on this class level shortly after he entered training. Unfortunately, an injury adjusted his connections' plans for his 2016 season. "Last spring he got a hind leg stuck in the back gate of his stall and popped a splint," De Rosa said. "So we gave him the time to heal from that and took all the precautions necessary to not rush him along. He only had three starts last year and then this year we got him ready with the mindset that he would go up against these powerhouse horses like Fear The Dragon and Downbytheseaside. He deserves the opportunity to show himself." Santafe's Coach is the culmination of a friendship between De Rosa, Iovaldi, Woythaler and Iordan, that developed at The Meadowlands in the 1980s. This same group also owned and trained the colt's mother, who possessed enough ability to compete in the eliminations for the Three Diamonds and Matron as a 2-year-old and the Breeders Crown at age three. "This horse's story begins with having such a nice mare," De Rosa said. "She is by Western Hanover and made more than $100,000 ($112,010). She did well for us in her racing career, in fact she was fifth in her Breeders Crown elimination to Put On A Show, but she didn't make the final because Casie Coleman had a horse in the other elimination that made more money than her. However, we were so proud of her, Put On A Show was just a monster out there and towered over the other horses. We were just thrilled she paced in 1:51.4 and kept up with a horse of that caliber. "We took care of her with the intention of breeding her and this colt is a second foal. Her first one is a 4-year-old gelding by Four Starzzz Shark (Santafe's Prince) and we had a younger Rock N Roll Heaven sister to those two, but we ended up losing her." Although the result of Santafe's Coach's endeavors this weekend has yet to be determined, his future is bright as he is eligible to a number of events, which will only provide more opportunities for him to demonstrate his ability. "We don't have a big stable and this is our only horse racing really, but he is staked to everything," De Rosa said. "We are really excited about what this year will bring as our trainer does an unbelievable job and Anthony (Napolitano) fits him like a glove. We really feel his desire to win and his speed will make him competitive with the top class horses. This was his first time going up against them and it was so incredibly special to see him win. "I live in California and stayed out here for the week to watch him. All of us had a bunch of family and friends with more than 20 people in the winner's circle for him and they probably were ready to kick us out because we spent so much time there just savoring the moment. We are hoping to be in the winner's circle with him many more times over his career and are thrilled to be part of this Saturday night. It really is a dream come true for all of us." Racing at Pocono begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The night's stakes finals are races nine through 12. Following is the field for the Max Hempt Memorial, which is race 10. For the complete card, click here. PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1-Fear The Dragon-Dragon Again-David Miller-Brian Brown-5/2 2-Santafe's Coach-Bettor's Delight-Anthony Napolitano-Leo Iordan-12/1 3-Funknwaffles-American Ideal-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-5/1 4-Miso Fast-Roll With Joe-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-4/1 5-Boogie Shuffle-Well Said-Scott Zeron-Mark Harder-10/1 6-Ozone Blue Chip-Bettor's Delight-Brett Miller-Ron Coyne Jr.-20/1 7-Donttellmeagain-Dragon Again-Tim Tetrick-Jo Ann Looney-King-6/1 8-Downbytheseaside-Somebeachsomewhere-Brian Sears-Brian Brown-3/1 9-Eddard Hanover-Dragon Again-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-15/1 Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager

Talent Soup was limited to a handful of races last year at age 2 because of sickness, but harness racing trainer Bruce Saunders saw enough of the colt to believe there was ability beyond the horse's name. Good looking, well gaited, quick, and professional, Talent Soup checked all the boxes. "He's a beautiful horse," Saunders said about Talent Soup, who will compete in the third of Saturday's three eliminations of the Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "He's very athletic looking and he's got a brilliant head. That's a good start. That's part of the reason we have him in the barn. "He's very efficient with his gait. He usually does not get tired. Even though he didn't pass every horse in his last two starts he has a great capacity to take air and continue to go forward. He's got a will to win. He's a high-energy colt and very, very athletic. He likes his job a lot and that makes our job easier. He's happy to be on the racetrack." Talent Soup, owned by Charles "Cotton" Nash and Julie Nash, is 12-1 on the morning line in a seven-horse division that features world champion Downbytheseaside, who enters the race off a third-place finish in the North America Cup. The field also includes Heaven's Gait, Donttellmeagain, Eddard Hanover, Highalator, and Photobombr Hanover. Heaven's Gait, the 3-1 second choice behind 5-2 Downbytheseaside, goes to the Hempt elim off a 1:49 victory in New York Sire Stakes action at Vernon Downs. Every Way Out is the 2-1 favorite in the first Hempt elimination and North America Cup champion Fear The Dragon is the 8-5 choice in the second. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final July 1 at Pocono. The July 1 card will also include the $500,000 Ben Franklin for older male pacers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Eliminations for those stakes also are Saturday. Talent Soup won one of five races last year, when he lost time in late spring because of sickness, and has one victory in seven starts this season. His lone triumph this year came in a leg of the Weiss Series at Pocono, when he stopped the clock in 1:51.1 with a final quarter-mile of :26.3. The colt heads to the Hempt elim off back-to-back second-place finishes where he was charging late, coming home in :26.4 in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon on June 18 and :26.2 in a conditioned race June 10 at the Meadowlands. For his career, Talent Soup has hit the board eight times and earned $38,507. "His last two efforts have been very good," Saunders said. "The owners decided he earned the right to be in here and I agree with them. I don't know how fast they're going to go, but I know this colt is capable of pacing a very fast mile with the right kind of trip. "We'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope they mix it up a little bit. There are a lot of horses in that race that like to be in a controlling position. Maybe they'll mix it up and we can save some ground and finish with vigor. Stranger things have happened than for him to win a race like that." Talent Soup, bred by the Nashes and Steve Stewart, is a son of American Ideal out of the mare Tessa Hanover. His family includes stakes winners Took Hanover and Triple V Hanover plus mare Trim Hanover, who is the dam of millionaires American Jewel and Luck Be Withyou (racing Saturday in a Franklin elimination). His fourth dam is multiple Dan Patch Award winner Three Diamonds, who is the dam of millionaire Life Sign. Talent Soup was purchased for $65,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. The Nashes and Stewart were the breeders of 2010 Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven, who was trained by Saunders for owner Frank Bellino. "With (Rock N Roll Heaven) it didn't matter where we drew or who we were in with; he could muscle his way into position," Saunders said. "That's what these races are all about, being in position at the top of the stretch and still having a lot of energy. "(Post position) really compromises your chances a lot, unless you're a dominant horse. So far we have not been a dominant horse. We'll have to be a little lucky and (Talent Soup) will have to be a little better than he's been, but those things can happen." Talent Soup, who was hampered by a bruised foot earlier this season, is eligible to a number of stakes including the Breeders Crown, Little Brown Jug, and Matron. "I think he got enough experience last year," Saunders said. "He didn't go as fast as the good 2-year-olds, but he got enough starts for us to evaluate his talent level. He went some nice miles. That impressed us enough to make some stakes payments for this year. "Now he'll have an opportunity to mix it up with what is pretty much the cream of the crop. We've got some obstacles to overcome on Saturday but if he puts in a good performance we'll continue to give him a chance." For a look at all the entries for Saturday at Pocono, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications

Always B Miki shines in Ben Franklin Trainer Jimmy Takter says Always B Miki is a horse that will be long remembered in the future. For now, Takter and the 5-year-old pacer’s connections are more than enjoying the stallion’s present. Always B Miki won his highly anticipated showdown with Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete in Saturday’s (July 2) $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Always B Miki defeated Freaky Feet Pete by three-quarters of a length in a stakes- and world-record-equaling 1:47, with Wiggle It Jiggleit finishing third. The time equaled the fastest mile in history on a five-eighths-mile racetrack. Always B Miki, who also won in 1:47 last week at Pocono, shares the record with Sweet Lou. Wiggle It Jiggleit went to the lead off the starting gate, but Freaky Feet Pete left quickly from post six and got to the front following an opening quarter-mile in :25.4. Always B Miki, who started from post seven, was moved to the lead by driver David Miller prior to the halfway point, reached in :53, and then was pressured on the outside by first-over Wiggle It Jiggleit. Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit battled each other around the final turn, but Always B Miki repelled the challenge before holding off an inside bid from Freaky Feet Pete. “I knew David was going to be aggressive,” Takter said. “We talked about it and he said he wasn’t going to sit and wait for something to happen. He was in it to win it. “The way the race unfolded, he had to work hard. It wasn’t given to him. I knew that Wiggle It (Jiggleit) would come right away. He did the right move. He hoped the :53 (half) would have stung my horse a little bit and then he’d come at him. But I have to say all three of those horses raced a heck of a race. They all raced fantastic.” Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete both got warm ovations from the large crowd at Pocono as they made their ways back to the paddock. History’s fastest pacing mile is the 1:46.1 time-trial mark established by Cambest in 1993. The fastest time for a race mile is 1:46.4, which is shared by four horses. “The track is not really as fast as it was last week and it’s a colder evening,” Takter said. “If it was a warm evening, I think they would have gone a second faster. This is not Miki’s favorite (track size). He’s more a big track horse. But he’s handling the small track better and better.” Always B Miki has won five of seven races this year and nine of 11 since returning from injury last October. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. For his career, Always B Miki has won 23 of 42 starts and earned $1.56 million. “He’s one of those horses that people are going to remember for a long, long time,” Takter said. Sent off as the 8-5 second choice behind favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki paid $5.20, $3.00 and $2.20. Montrell Teague, Wiggle It Jiggleit’s driver, said his trip didn’t work out as he envisioned. “He raced good, it just wasn’t the ideal trip that I thought I was going to get,” Teague said. “Like I said, you can’t go in there with a game plan. It’s a horserace, you never know what’s going to happen. “The biggest surprise was there weren’t as many leavers. I was thinking five of them were going to come out of there, but it was just the main three. (Always B) Miki left the gate good and got his good trip.” Trace Tetrick, the driver of Freaky Feet Pete, was happy with his horse’s effort. “It was a great race,” Tetrick said. “The trip kind of worked out like I thought it would. I was hoping to press and land on the front and control it, or get moved on by either Montrell or David. “David took me as long as I needed to go, I just needed a little longer stretch to beat him.” The Western Ideal 5-year-old stallion Luck Be Withyou continued his career-long love affair with Pocono, taking the $75,000 Ben Franklin consolation in 1:47.4. Luck Be Withyou, who had an outside post in his Franklin elim and couldn’t enter contention, drew the rail for the consolation and would not cede the lead through amazing fractions of :25.4, :52.4, and 1:19.4, then was kept alive through the stretch by Pocono’s leading driver, George Napolitano Jr. while also lowering his lifetime best by a tick. Winner of the 2013 Breeders Crown and the 2015 Franklin championship at Pocono, Luck Be Withyou, conditioned by Chris Oakes when on the local scene, has earned the majority of his $1,195,281 career bankroll over the red clay oval for owner John Craig. Southwind Frank wins Earl Beal, Jr, Memorial Driver Yannick Gingras tucked his whip and breathed a sigh of relief at the wire as he and Southwind Frank won the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial in 1:52.4, part of Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. After coming out of last week's elimination with a virus, Southwind Frank-Gingras' best hope for his first Hambletonian win-was back to his championship form. Last year's divisional champion got away fourth as Hollywood Highway took the lead from post 2. After a break by Hollywood Highway near the quarter pole, reached in :27.3, Southwind Frank took the lead the first time past the grandstand. Southwind Frank led the field through the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4 before holding off stablemate Dayson-who made a break-and coming home in :28 flat to win by 2-1/4 lengths. Trolley was second with Bar Hopping third. Southwind Frank paid $2.40 to win. A son of Muscle Hill out of Flawless Lindy, Southwind Frank is trained by Ron Burke for Southwind Frank Partners. The Gingras-Burke combo narrowly missed their respective first Hambletonian win last year when the filly Mission Brief was edged by Pinkman. "I've been thinking about Hambo since the Peter Haughton last year," said Gingras. "We are aiming for that first Saturday in August. All these starts just build up to that. We want to win them all, but the main goal is Aug. 6." Co-owner Jerry Silva of J&T Stables was part of the Muscle Hill ownership team when he won the 2009 Hambletonian, but is looking forward to another Hambletonian win with this colt. "This is the 'Frank' that we had last year," he said. Mr. Beal, a former owner, trainer and driver who died in 2009, served as president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, where he was instrumental in bringing casino gaming to Pennsylvania racetracks, fought for increased simulcasting opportunities in the Keystone State, and ensured that county fair racing continued in Pennsylvania through tough times. This is the sixth edition of the Beal Memorial, which was won last year by eventual Trotter of the Year Pinkman in 1:51.3. Milligan's School, winner of his first two seasonal efforts but then offstride in his next two, raised his 2016 record to three for five with a $21.80 upset in the $75,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial consolation. Driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller had their son of Yankee Glideon his best behavior and in top form for this event, as he came first-over, then held off Love Matters, who followed his cover, by three-quarters of a length. The final clocking of 1:53.2 lowered his speed badge by a tick for the ownership of Stroy Inc. Racing Hill is much the best in Max Hempt As fireworks popped overhead, Racing Hill made some fireworks of his own in winning the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial final in a rated 1:49, part of Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite off a 1:49.1 elimination win last week, Racing Hill took the lead from Boston Red Rocks shortly before the quarter in :25.4. Driver Brett Miller then took the son of Roll With Joe – Chasing Ideals through a second quarter in :29. “That’s what makes this colt such a tremendous colt,” said Miller. “He can go very fast and then the next quarter he can go very slow. Being that handy makes him very deadly.” No one was catching Racing Hill tonight, as he led the field to the three-quarters in 1:22 and sprinted home to win by 2-1/2 lengths. JK Will Power was second with Boston Red Rocks third. “I’ve got so much confidence in this colt, and every week he is giving me even more confidence,” said Miller. “Coming down the stretch, I was saying to myself, ‘I don’t even need to pull the earplugs,’ and he’s the kind of colt that when I pull the earplugs, he just takes off. He’s just sharp.” Tony Alagna trains Racing Hill for owner-breeder Tom Hill of the United Kingdom. He now has two wins, three seconds and a third in six starts this year, good for $450,340 in seasonal earnings. Alagna said the colt’s next engagement will be the Meadowlands Pace. “Hopefully we get another shot to go to the Meadowlands on his home track and have some luck there,” he said. Mr. Hempt was the man behind Hempt Farms in Mechanicsburg, Pa., whose horses with the “Keystone” moniker won nearly every major race in the sport. A Hall of Fame inductee in 1980, Mr. Hempt was also a USTA director and president of the Hambletonian Society. He died in 1999 at age 79. Formerly known as the William E. Miller Memorial at Rosecroft Raceway from 1955-1994 and the Joseph B. Banks Memorial from 1995-1999 at Pocono, the Hempt Memorial has been contested since 2000. Wiggle It Jiggleit won last year’s edition in 1:48.2. Pure Country is at her best in James Lynch Pure Country and driver Brett Miller made their way to the front near the midway point and never relinquished the lead from there, winning Saturday’s (July 2) $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers by a half-length over Blue Moon Stride in a stakes-record-equaling 1:49.2 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. I Said Diamonds led the field to the opening quarter-mile in :27, but soon gave up the top spot to Darlinonthebeach. Pure Country was on the move ahead of Blue Moon Stride in the outside flow and made her way to the lead as the group reached the half in :54.2. Darlinonthebeach slowed on the backstretch and did not finish. Pure Country reached three-quarters in 1:22.1 and paced home from there to win for the fourth time in seven starts this season. Blue Moon Stride was followed by Lindwood Beachgirl in third and I Said Diamonds in fourth. It was Pure Country’s third major victory of the campaign, having captured the Miss Pennsylvania and Fan Hanover earlier this year. “She’s just classy,” winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. “Brett didn’t have any other choice than to go forward. I was a little worried. I know (Blue Moon Stride) is a pretty good horse sitting in the back there. We had to work very hard to go to our spot, but I know (Pure Country) is tough to get by.” A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Western Montana, Pure Country has won 14 of 17 career races and earned $1.19 million. She is owned by Diamond Creek Racing. Last year, Pure Country won all 10 of her races and was named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer. “She’s getting more professional,” Takter said. “As a 2-year-old it’s a little easier to be a little dominant. There are a lot of good fillies out there. They have to work for every race.” Pure Country, the 7-5 favorite, paid $4.80 to win. Darlinonthebeach’s trainer Nancy Johansson told DRF Harness’ Derick Giwner that her filly suffered from atrial fibrillation. Call Me Queen Be, forced to go :26 to the quarter in her Lynch elimination and understandably tiring, was very strong coming off a fast pace in the $50,000 Lynch Consolation, moving to the lead on the far turn past backstretch brusher Sail To The Beach and going on to a two length triumph, equaling her lifetime mark by stopping the timer in 1:50.3. Scott Zeron handled the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, the 3-5 choice of the large group of fans gathered for the giant card, for trainer Ross Croghan and the ownership of Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham. The Lynch Memorial is named in honor of the late James M. Lynch, who did some amateur driving and worked as a groom as a teenager, but made his mark years later as a race official, most notably as the director of racing at Liberty Bell for its entire 23-year existence. Lynch, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 78, also was a horse owner and director of the U.S. Trotting Association. by Ken Weingartner, T J Burkett and PHHA/Pocono Downs

This Week: Ben Franklin Pace, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Max C. Hempt Memorial and James M. Lynch Memorial finals, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Cleveland Trotting Classic, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; Miss Versatility, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; and Landmark Stakes, Historic Track, Goshen, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit spotlight will once again be on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night (July 2) as the track will host four lucrative stakes finals in the $500,000 Ben Franklin for older pacers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers. Also on Saturday, Northfield Park will host the $180,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic for older trotters, while Historic Track will card eight Landmark Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. A trio of Friday night (July 1) stakes open the Grand Circuit action this week with the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs and the Miss Versatility at Mohawk. At Tioga, there will be two divisions in the $77,380 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male trotters and two divisions in the $55,380 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old filly trotters. Mohawk will host a pair of C$30,000 divisions in the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Complete entries for the U.S. races can be found by clicking on this link. Mohawk entries are available at this link. Last time: Last weekend's Grand Circuit action opened up on Friday night (June 24) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the $200,000 Arthur Cutler Memorial for older trotters. Displaying no ill effects after being away from the races for almost a month, Resolve powered down the road to an easy one length win in the Cutler. Resolve, the even-money favorite, was sent away fast from post seven and had the lead at the quarter in :27.1. Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt did a masterful job of rating the second fraction, which was timed in a sleepy :30 as they hit the half in :57.1. Obrigado, the 2-1 second choice fresh off wins in the Maxie Lee and Charlie Hill Memorial, vacated the four hole at the seven-sixteenths and grinded his way into contention at three-quarters, which went in 1:25.4. Then Svanstedt hit the gas and Resolve responded with a final quarter of :26.3, leaving Obrigado behind while opening up a safe lead. Flanagan Memory, who went a third-over trip, closed well through the stretch to end up a no-threat second. Obrigado held third. Resolve trotted the mile in 1:52.2 for owner Hans Enggren. Social media was abuzz when Wiggle It Jiggleit captured the first of three $30,000 Ben Franklin eliminations on Saturday (June 25) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but the horse that many considered to be the star attraction was overshadowed by his two colleagues that triumphed in the two following divisions and establishes a contest in the $500,000 final on Saturday (July 2) that may very well be epic. Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 2015 Harness Horse of the Year, and is the top-ranked horse in the industry poll. Trained by Clyde Francis and owned by George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership, the gelding won his Franklin elimination in 1:48.1. Which was the slowest elimination. By a full second. Because world records were set in the other two cuts: first the 5-year-old pacing stallion Always B Miki took his Franklin elimination in 1:47, equaling Sweet Lou's all-time world record for a five-eighths-mile track (set in the Franklin final two years ago) and missing the all-time race record by a single tick, and then Freaky Feet Pete was off by himself much of the other elimination and still crossed the wire in 1:47.1, a world record for a 4-year-old pacing horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki now has won four of six races and $91,500 this year, and 22 of 41 races and $1,319,576 lifetime. Jimmy Takter has brought the pacer all the way back from injury to the top of his game for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. Freaky Feet Pete is now five-for-six in 2016 and an amazing 29-for-33 in his career, with $1,224,050 in his till for trainer Larry Rheinheimer and owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer and he completed the "Indiana-sired" sweep of the Franklin eliminations. Complete recaps of the weekend races, including the other six Pocono stakes eliminations, are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, 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 Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the current leaders: Drivers: 1. Jordan Stratton - 191.5; 2. David Miller - 170; 3. Yannick Gingras - 167; 4. Tim Tetrick - 166; 5. Matt Kakaley - 130. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 258; 2. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 170; 3. Peter Tritton - 139.5; 4. Rene Allard - 125; 5. Jimmy Takter - 118. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 139.5; 2. Bamond Racing - 112; 3. Burke Racing Stable - 72.6; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 62.85; 5t. George Teague Jr. Inc. - 51.25; 5t. Teague Racing Partnership - 51.25. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Tioga Downs, Meadowlands Racetrack, and Yonkers Raceway. Tioga will host Tompkins-Geers races for 3-year-old colt and filly pacers; The Meadowlands will host the Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old pacers and trotters, Meadowlands Pace eliminations for 3-year-olds and a Reynolds division for 3-year-old filly trotters; and Yonkers features Lawrence Sheppard eliminations for 2-year-old pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

After last weekend's three Ben Franklin Pace eliminations produced two of the three fastest miles in harness racing history on a five-eighths-mile track, horsemen and fans are anticipating an extraordinary encore in Saturday's $500,000 final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Five-year-old stallion Always B Miki won his Franklin elimination in 1:47, equaling Sweet Lou's record for the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths oval. Freaky Feet Pete followed with a 1:47.1 victory in his elim, setting the record for the fastest mile by a 4-year-old on a five-eighths track. Prior to those two performances, 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit won his Franklin elimination in 1:48.1. Earlier this season, the 4-year-old gelding posted a 1:47.3 triumph on the five-eighths oval at Harrah's Philadelphia. The Ben Franklin Pace final is the first-ever meeting of all three horses in the same race. The event is part of Pocono's Sun Stakes Saturday, which also includes stakes for 3-year-old pacers and trotters. "As a fan, it's just tremendous," said Mitchel Skolnick, who is one of the owners of the Jimmy Takter-trained Always B Miki. "We wait years for horses like this to come along, and to see the three each at his best, it's special. Hopefully, everyone gets what they're expecting (on Saturday)." History's fastest pacing mile is the 1:46.1 time-trial mark established by Cambest in 1993. The fastest time for a race mile is 1:46.4, which is shared by four horses. Many people believe the record for a race mile --- if not the time-trial clocking --- could fall in the Franklin final. "It's a possibility if it all goes the right way," said Larry Rheinheimer, who bred Freaky Feet Pete and trains the stallion for his wife Mary Jo and son Marty. "But I don't worry about that until afterwards. My goal is to be the first one across the finish line. The time? We'll take that when it comes. I was excited with the (1):47.1 and the 4-year-old record. It will be a good race regardless. I'm excited." Added George Teague Jr., who owns the Clyde Francis-trained Wiggle It Jiggleit, "If it's a night like the other night and the weather is warm with no wind, I think it's possible they can go (1):46 and a piece or thereabouts. It's perfect the way it worked out from the other night's races. They all won, and won in big fashion. "The buildup for this race is great. There's a lot of buzz." Wiggle It Jiggleit, the No. 1-ranked horse in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, has won eight of 11 races this year. He brings a four-race victory streak to the Franklin final, with his triumphs including the Battle of Lake Erie and Dorothy Mullin Invitational. A son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover, Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 31 of 38 lifetime races and earned $2.63 million. He has finished worse than second only once in his career. Wiggle It Jiggleit is the Franklin's 5-2 morning line favorite and will start the race from post No. 3 with driver Montrell Teague, the son of George Teague Jr., in the sulky. Wiggle It Jiggleit won his elimination by 1-1/4 lengths. "I'm not going to kid you, I'd rather be 1-9 going for $500,000 than have to race those two horses," the elder Teague said, laughing. "I'd be stupid to say anything differently. But to be a part of this, it's definitely a lot of fun. I'm excited. I'm all pumped up. I love our chances. I still think we have the best horse in the game. I'm sure the other two think they have the best horse in the game, too. Now it's prove-it time." Always B Miki, the No. 2-ranked horse in the sport's poll, has won eight of 10 races since returning to action from injury last October. The son of Always A Virgin-Artstopper has won 22 of 41 career starts and earned $1.31 million. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. In his elimination, Always B Miki raced on the outside for much of the mile, but was able to overtake pacesetter Mel Mara at the top of the stretch and pull away for a 3-3/4 length win. "I don't think I've been more impressed with a horse that I've trained than I was with him in that race," said Jimmy Takter, who will watch Always B Miki and driver David Miller start from post No. 7 in the Franklin final. "I was so proud of him. "Personally, I think this is probably as exciting a race coming up that there ever was. All the drivers have confidence in their horse. They all think they're going to win it. All three raced fantastic last weekend; they all looked great. It's going to be a horserace." Freaky Feet Pete, the fourth-ranked horse in harness racing's Top 10, has won five of six races this year and 29 of 33 lifetime starts. The son of Rockin Image-Skyway Lori has finished worse than third only once in his career and earned $1.22 million. He won his elimination by 5-3/4 lengths and will start the final from post six with regular driver Trace Tetrick. "Pete raced good; I was real happy with him," Rheinheimer said. "He came out of it good, eating good and everything, so we're ready to go. I think it will be a good race. It'll probably come down to whoever gets the breaks and the racing luck." In addition to the "Big Three," the Franklin final includes Canada's 2015 Horse of the Year State Treasurer plus world champions Mel Mara, who defeated Always B Miki earlier this season, and Always At My Place. Add in Shamballa and the 10-horse field features seven horses that have won in 1:48 or faster. Below is the Ben Franklin field followed by the fields for the remaining stakes Saturday at Pocono: $500,000 Ben Franklin (Race 11; estimated post time 9:55 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - Mel Mara - Corey Callahan - Dylan Davis - 6/1 2 - Shamballa - Scott Zeron - Rick Zeron - 8/1 3 - Wiggle It Jiggleit - Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis - 5/2 4 - State Treasurer - Tim Tetrick - Ian Moore - 15/1 5 - Sunfire Blue Chip - Brett Miller - Jimmy Takter - 12/1 6 - Freaky Feet Pete - Trace Tetrick - Larry Rheinheimer - 3/1 7 - Always B Miki - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 4/1 8 - All Bets Off - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 20/1 9 - Rock N' Roll World - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 30/1 10 - Always At My Place - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 10/1 Always At My Place starts from the second tier $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial (Race 9; estimated post time 9:08 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - JK Fannie - Jim Morrill Jr. - Nancy Johansson - 10/1 2 - I Said Diamonds - Matt Kakaley - Matias Ruiz - 5/1 3 - Newborn Sassy - Tim Tetrick - Jo Ann Looney-King - 4/1 4 - Lindwood Beachgirl - Yannick Gingras - Mark Steacy - 12/1 5 - Skinny Dipper - Scott Zeron - Ross Croghan - 20/1 6 - Darlinonthebeach - David Miller - Nancy Johansson - 3/1 7 - Pure Country - Brett Miller - Jimmy Takter - 5/2 8 - Blue Moon Stride - Andrew McCarthy - Mark Harder - 6/1 9 - Penpal - Pat Lachance - Pat Lachance - 15/1 $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial (Race 10; estimated post time 9:31 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - More Dragon - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 20/1 2 - Racing Hill - Brett Miller - Tony Alagna - 5/2 3 - Western Fame - George Napolitano Jr. - Jimmy Takter - 12/1 4 - JK Will Power - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 6/1 5 - Talk Show - Scott Zeron - Steve Elliott - 8/1 6 - Boston Red Rocks - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 5/1 7 - Katies Rocker - David Miller - Jim Campbell - 4/1 8 - Control The Moment - Randy Waples - Brad Maxwell - 7/2 9 - Big Top Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 15/1 $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial (Race 12; estimated post time 10:20 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - Reigning Moni - Scott Zeron - Jimmy Takter - 10/1 2 - Hollywood Highway - John Campbell - Staffan Lind - 15/1 3 - Truemass Volo - Eric Goodell - Douglas Hamilton - 12/1 4 - Dayson - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 3/1 5 - Trolley - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 6/1 6 - Brooklyn Hill - David Miller - Jonas Czernyson - 5/1 7 - Southwind Frank - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 5/2 8 - Dice Man - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 20/1 9 - Bar Hopping - Tim Tetrick - Jimmy Takter - 4/1 by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

What can they possibly do for an encore? That's the question on the lips of anyone who was lucky enough to witness the spectacular performances during last Saturday night's eliminations for Sun Stakes Saturday coming up on July 2 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Elimination races can sometimes feel like formalities, with the favorites shuffling along without much movement in the hopes of sneaking into the finals. But the races on Saturday were almost uniformly thrilling, with the eliminations for the Ben Franklin free-for-all pace in particular going down as some of the most memorable races that Pocono has ever hosted in its half-century plus of existence. It's important to note that the other three sets of eliminations held on the night possessed their own share of standouts and surprises. In the Max Hempt eliminations for 3-year-old pacers, favorites Control The Moment and Racing Hill delivered in their respective splits and seem headed for a showdown in the final. Pure Country reasserted her dominance among three-year-old pacing fillies in her elimination for the James Lynch, winning despite a tough first-over grind. And Bar Hopping provided the biggest upset of the night, handing 1-9 favorite Southwind Frank just his second career loss in an elimination for the Earl Beal for three-year-old trotters. In all fairness, the night really began with Race 10, the first of three consecutive races on the card that would serve as eliminations for the Ben Franklin pace, which carries a $500,000 purse for the finals. The top three finishers in each race would punch a ticket (although that got a bit complicated, as you'll read in a moment.) And the very first elimination gave Pocono fans their first 2016 glimpse of Wiggle It Jiggleit, the sport's preeminent superstar. Among the 22 wins that Wiggle It Jiggleit amassed in his ridiculously successful 2015 3-year-old campaign were a pair of huge stakes wins at Pocono. He came into Saturday night with seven wins and three places in ten starts so far in 2016 against the very best competition. As a 1-9 favorite, the four-year-old gelding trained by Clyde Francis didn't have an easy time making the lead, clearing just past the half. He then had to deal with a strong first-over charge on the back stretch from Always At My Place, who pulled up even at one point. Driver Montrell Teague knows how to coax something extra out of Wiggle It Jiggleit, which is what he did in the stretch on Saturday night. The gelding stepped away from the pursuit to win in a scorching 1:48:1, a length-and-a-quarter in front of State Treasurer. Meanwhile Always At My Place faded to a a dead heat for third with Shamballa, meaning that there will be ten horses eligible for the Franklin final, with four of them coming from the first division. As for the other six finalists? Well, the second split featured Always B Miki as the 1-5 favorite. The 5-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn won three of his first five races this year and was coming into the elimination off an incredible 1:47:1 victory at Tioga. But it looked like his chances might be doomed on Saturday when he was strung out around the clubhouse turn by Mel Mara, who set the pace on the inside. Driver David Miller never gave in with Always B Miki. He was still battling it out with Mel Mara even as he had to endure a second turn on the outside and even as the fractions bordered on the sadistic. Always B Miki then uncorked one more burst of speed to free himself from Mel Mara and the rest of the pursuit. He crossed the line in 1:47, matching the fastest time ever on a 5/8-mile oval. All Bets Off came on late for second, while Mel Mara managed to dig deep to hold on for third to make the final. After that world record performance, it seemed like expecting even more drama was greedy. But we still had one elimination to go, and it featured the amazing Midwesterner Freaky Feet Pete in his Pocono debut. Trained by Larry Rheinheimer, the four-year-old stallion came into the eliminations with a staggering career record of 28 wins in 32 career starts and over $1.2 million in the bank. Were it not for Wiggle It Jiggleit's exploits, we'd likely be talking about Freaky Feet Pete as the sport's dominant superstar. Based on his performance on Saturday night, the jury may still be out on that. From the inside post, driver Trace Tetrick grabbed the lead early with Freaky Feet Pete, and it was a lead that no one would take away. In what appeared to be an effortless performance, the stallion clipped fraction after stunning fraction without seeming to break a sweat, until he was well in front of the rest of the standout field and crossing the line in 1:47:1, which broke the world record for 4-year-old stallion pacers on a 5/8-mile oval. Rock N'Roll World and Sunfire Blue Chip were nowhere in the ballpark with Freaky Feet Pete but at least snuck into the final by finishing second and third, respectively. Three Ben Franklin eliminations and three incendiary performances. The final should be an incredible showdown, as should the three other huge stakes races to be contested on Sun Stakes Saturday. Don't even think about missing it. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE PA - There will be over $2 million on the line this Saturday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on its harness racing Super Stakes Saturday harness racing card, but while the races for the three-year-olds will provide exciting contests and help provide early season pecking order, the main focus will be on one event.   The Showdown.   The Clash of the Titans - Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, and Wiggle It Jiggleit - in the $500,000 Ben Franklin FFA Pace Championship, race 11 on the 14-race card Saturday at Pocono, which is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. first post.   Here's an overview of the evening's activities, led of course by the Franklin:   $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 11 of 14 - consolation race 7)   Defending Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit got the best of the post draw among the three Indiana-sired winners in the Franklin eliminations - but then again, the other two are not noted for their quick starting speed, although they may need to show some to get the major share of the purse in the Franklin, which became a field of ten when Shamballa and Always At My Place deadheated for third in an elimination.   The four-year-old son of Mr Wiggles, trained by Clyde Francis for George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC, shows five "clean" calls of "1" (no parked-out symbols) at the quarter among his charted lines, and being somewhere near the front has been part of driver Montrell Teague's basic modus operandi as "Wiggle" has won 31 of 38 career starts and $2.630,760 lifetime, including an easy-looking 1:48.1 score in his Franklin elimination (in which he drew over $73,000 of a $76,500 show pool). What might happen after Wiggle It Jiggleit gets the top (if he goes for the lead) makes for the drama of the story.   The five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion (are the last two words an oxymoron?) Always B Miki will start from post seven for driver David Miller, trainer Jimmy Takter, and his ownership of Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. "Miki" has forged much of his reputation as an unstoppable finisher deluxe, with several pace-controlling moves made midrace on the straightaway of a big track. He shows only one "clean 1" at the first split on his lines, in a field of six when he was 1-20* in a Meadowlands race earlier this year, but he also has shown the ability to sit outside and still be razor-sharp in the stretch, as he was at Pocono last week when he was hung the better part of ¾ of a mile, mostly uncovered, and still had strong strides to the wire to equal the 1:47 world record for 5/8-mile tracks, set by Sweet Lou in the Franklin Championship here in 2014. He may face a similar trip on Saturday - but he's shown he can handle it.   The horse that hung Always B Miki, Mel Mara (driven by Corey Callahan), should be mentioned here, as the seven-year-old Lis Mara stallion, trained by Dylan Davis for Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, drew the rail for the Franklin Championship. But Mel Mara has seldom shown early speed racing recently -which may be a strange thing to say for a horse who's been ahead at the half in 3 of his last 5 races, but he has been parked at the quarter in all three, making second-quarter moves to the top. "Mel" does not figure to benefit from the "inside geometry" of post one as much as many would.   Freaky Feet Pete was in front most of his Franklin victory, with the son of Rockin Image setting a world record of 1:47.1 for his division in his easiest of triumphs (you heard a lot of "He didn't look like he was going that fast!" comments after his elim). But again, like Always B Miki, the only raceline he shows with a "clean 1" at the quarter was a 1-20* early-season win at Hoosier. Trace Tetrick, Tim's brother, who will be putting his 1.000 lifetime UDR at Pocono on the line here (last week was his first visit to the mountain oval) for trainer Larry Rheinheimer and owners Mary Jo and Marty Rheinheimer.   With all these horses of superior and variable mid-race tactics - gathered together in a powerpacked field that collectively has earned $11.8M in their careers and has an average mark of 1:47.4 - the trip, combined with some racing luck, will probably tell the tale in this great free-for-all showdown.   (By the way, Luck Be Withyou, the defending Franklin champ, will be racing in the Consolation this year, from post 1. He won his 2015 elim from post 8 and his final from post nine - and went wire-to-wire, with "clean 1"s, in both contests.)   $500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP (race 12 -- consolation race 5)   Lost a bit in the uproar about the speedy Franklin elimination show last Saturday was the fact that Southwind Frank, the favorite for the August 8 Hambletonian, suffered only the second loss of his career. The three-year-old son of Muscle Hill, driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke and Southwind Frank Partners, was limbed out most of the first 3/8s before getting the top and went on to fast fractions before getting edged at the end by a game Bar Hopping in 1:52.1. The Beal elim was only "Frank"'s third start of the year, and first since June 4, and he figures to be a bit better this week, although again needing to overcome post seven in a field of nine.   Bar Hopping, who caught Southwind Frank late in posting the upset last week, may have an even more difficult road to hoe on Saturday, as the pillshake was unkind enough to give him the outside in the field of nine for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership of Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. But the son of Muscle Hill will be driven by Tim Tetrick, who showed the best ability to cope "against the odds" on Elim Saturday - of the nine eliminations, seven were won by favorites, and Tetrick drove the other two: Bar Hopping ($24.60) and 3PF Newborn Sassy ($8.20).   If these two get involved in vicious early dueling, there is a horse who has proven he has a wicked closing kick - and he lives right down the shedrow from Southwind Frank. That would be Burke trainee Dayson, an altered son of Conway Hall who has never lost in his career when flat (11 for 14, with three breaks). That pattern looked in serious jeopardy as late as midstretch last week, but driver Jim Morrill Jr. got a furious late kick out of Dayson for a 1:52.3 tally, and from post two he might again be in prime position to "pick up the pieces" for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Rossie Smith.   $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 10; no consolation - only 13 in elims.)   Racing Hill and Control The Moment were 2-3 behind Hempt non-eligible Betting Hill in the recent $1MC North America Cup at Mohawk, and both followed on their fine showing in Canada by winning their respective Hempt elims. For the Hempt Championship, Racing Hill has the better draw, PP2 vs. PP8, and the Roll With Joe colt, trained by Tony Alagna for owner Tom Hill of the U.K., was the faster elim winner, winning in 1:49.1 under a hold the last 1/16 by driver Brett Miller.   However, few people would be surprised if the Well Said colt Control The Moment gave a giant accounting of himself despite landing behind the 8-ball at the post draw. The Brad Maxwell trainee, owned by the Control The Moment Stable, won in 1:49.3 last week, snapping home in 27 last Saturday to hold off 2015 divisional champion Boston Red Rocks, who has post six in the Hempt Final.   If one were looking for an upsetter in the Hempt, one could make a case for the Art Major gelding Talk Show, who starts in the middle of the field of nine for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Steve Elliott (also the trainer of Boston Red Rocks). The timer malfunctioned during his elim, and it wasn't until after the race that it was noted that Racing Hill blitzed the third quarter in 26.3 to hold off a spirited challenge from Talk Show - who was four lengths off the lead at the half, meaning he went his third quarter raw in 25.4! Such pure speed, under perfect circumstances, could find Talk Show in the thick of things in the Hempt final.   $300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 9 - consolation race 6)   Last year's division champion Pure Country went 10-for-10 in her freshman campaign. This year, largely due to some early-season sickness, the road has not been as easy for the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, but as trainer Jimmy Takter notes, "She's won the two biggest races of the season for her division so far, the Miss Pennsylvania (at Pocono) and the Fan Hanover." Last week Pure Country showed her grittiness by overcoming a first-over trip to win in 1:50.1 for driver Brett Miller, as she looks to raise her "majors" record to 3 for 3; the two foes who were within a half-length of her at the wire start on either side of her Saturday: Blue Moon Stride, getting post eight after a second, and Darlinonthebeach, in post six after closing for third.   We mentioned Newborn Sassy earlier as one of two non-favorites, both piloted by Tim Tetrick, to win an elim, and on Saturday the Western Ideal miss, trained by co-owner Jo Ann Looney-King for herself and partner CC Racing LLC, will begin from post three off her 1:51.3 elimination tally. I Said Diamonds, that elim's chalk who came up just short after not having raced in 29 days, certainly has a license to be better off of that race, and will start from post two.   ANOTHER STAR WILL BE AT POCONO SATURDAY   Well-known baseball superstar Pete Rose will be making an appearance at The Downs at Mohegan Sun at Pocono before the evening's races (and may well stay and bet a few, if his past performances are any indication).   Wristbands to attend the session with Rose will be distributed starting at 1 p.m. in the Racing Lobby. There are a limited number of wrist bands, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The session with Rose will take place between 4 and 6 p.m. Only authorized photos will be distributed.     AND TO END, THE FIELDS FOR THE "BIG FOUR" ON SUN STAKES SATURDAY (post, horse, driver, trainer):   $300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 9:   1, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson;   2, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz;   3, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King;   4, Lindwood Beach Girl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy;   5, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan;   6. Darlinonthebeach, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson;   7, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter;   8, Blue Moon Stride, McCarthy also listed, Mark Harder;   9. Penpal, driver/trainer Pat Lachance.   $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 10:   1, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke;   2, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna;   3, Western Fame, George Napolitano Jr., Jimmy Takter;   4, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott;   6, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott;   7, Katies Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell;   8, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell;   9, Big Top Hanover, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.   $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 11:   1, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis;   2, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron;   3, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis;   4, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick, Dr. Ian Moore;   5, Sunfire Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter;   6, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rheinheimer;   7, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter;   8, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke;   9, Rock N' Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   10 (2T), Always At My Place, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.   $500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP, race 12:   1, Reigning Moni, Scott Zeron, Jimmy Takter;   2, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind;   3, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton;   4, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke;   5, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller;   6, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson;   7, Southwind Frank, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   8, Dice Man, driver/trainer Ãke Svanstedt;   9, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter.   There will be a release sent out shortly after noon tomorrow, with any scratches, final driver changes, and morning line odds.   PHHA / Pocono          

"I felt good in January, and that part hasn't changed," Teague said with a grin Saturday (July 4) after watching Wiggle It Jiggleit capture the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at the harness racing meeting at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono by 1-1/2 lengths over Artspeak in 1:48.2. "He doesn't disappoint. Even in his loss, I wasn't jumping off the bandwagon. He's a good horse. I still think he's one of the best 3-year-olds I've ever had." Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 13 of 14 career races for owner Teague, trainer Clyde Francis and driver Montrell Teague. His only loss came June 20 in the North America Cup, where he was defeated by Wakizashi Hanover by three-quarters of a length. On Saturday in the Hempt, Wiggle It Jiggleit took the lead following a :26 opening quarter-mile, fought off a first-over challenge from Pierce Hanover on the backstretch, and then pulled away down the stretch. Artspeak finished second, followed by In The Arsenal and Wakizashi Hanover. "When he cleared to the front I knew he had a pretty good shot at it," Francis said. "Wakizashi has a big kick on the end of it but he wasn't making up much ground. Halfway down the lane nobody got close to him and I knew they weren't going to catch him then." Montrell Teague, who won the Hempt in 2011 with Custard The Dragon, was taking nothing for granted. "I was looking everywhere; I was looking for anybody," he said. "I saw Timmy (Tetrick with Wakizashi Hanover) pull three wide and that's when I popped the earplugs and stepped on the gas because I know how good his horse is coming off cover." Wiggle It Jiggleit, a son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover, gave George Teague Jr. his fourth Hempt trophy. He trained Custard The Dragon as well as 2009 winner Johnny Z and 2008 champ Badlands Nitro. The gelding's next assignment will be the Meadowlands Pace. With the triumph, Wiggle It Jiggleit pushed his career earnings to $607,242. But the most important thing for Teague was the two people with whom he is sharing the ride. "Montrell and Clyde Francis are the best part for me," Teague said, adding about Francis, "We're like brothers. He works his (butt) off." Wiggle It Jiggleit  Luck Be Withyou overcomes post nine in Franklin triumph                               The $500,000 Ben Franklin free for all pace turned out to be as thrilling as a front-end win can be as Luck Be Withyou held on by the shortest of noses over Domethatagain in 1:49 on Saturday (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Domethatagain, driven by Simon Allard, left from the rail off the gate, but Luck Be Withyou and George Napolitano Jr. took command before the turn from post nine. Luck Be Withyou led through a quarter in :26.2 and the half in :55, which were favorable fractions in the eyes of the 4-year-old horse's owner, John Craig. "I didn't think it was so bad when it was :26.2, because he got the lead in :26 last week in the slop, with a half in :53 and change," he said. "When I saw :55 at the half, I said 'There are good horses back there like Foiled Again and State Treasurer and they are going to come at him. I hope he has enough.'" Luck Be Withyou kept on chugging through three-quarters in 1:21.4. He was a length clear at the top of the stretch, with only Domethatagain coming at him up the rail. It took a long look at the photo before Luck Be Withyou was declared the winner, with favored State Treasurer third. Luck Be Withyou paid $10 to win as the public's second choice. "He had just enough," Craig said with a grin. "It's hard to explain to people the adrenaline rush you get when you see a race like that." Luck Be Withyou, by Western Ideal-Trim Hanover, is trained by Chris Oakes, who got some credit from his owner. "All the credit goes to those who work on the horse," he said. "I just watch and pay the bills." Luck Be Withyou Pinkman bounces back to win Beal in world record score                                           Pinkman rebounded from his first loss of the year by posting a gate-to-wire win in Saturday's (July 4) $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, holding off stablemate Uncle Lasse by a head in a world-record 1:51.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Pinkman, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, and driver Yannick Gingras got the lead with a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and then controlled the race from there, going to the half in :56.2. Centurion ATM made a first-over bid on the backstretch, getting within a head of the leader, but was unable to get to the front. In the stretch, the Jimmy Takter-trained Pinkman held off Uncle Lasse to his inside to post his fourth victory in five starts this season. Pinkman's time was the fastest-ever mile by a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile track. Crazy Wow finished third followed by Centurion ATM. Last week, Pinkman finished second to Wicker Hanover in his Beal elimination and was found to be sick. "I can't complain about the trip, the fractions, everything went his way," Gingras said about Pinkman's performance in the Beal final. "He's got that intimidating speed; he can leave the gate so good. Last week leaving the gate I knew he wasn't quite right because he didn't leave the gate like he did today. Usually the first couple steps he just snaps right out. "Today he was back to himself and I don't even think he's a hundred percent. I'd say last week he was 50 or 60 percent and he was probably like 90 today. I think Jimmy can get him even better than this." For his career, Pinkman has won 10 of 13 races and earned $924,300 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. "I saw him open up at like 5-1 (odds) tonight and Crazy Wow was 3-5 or something," Gingras said. "They've got to start giving him credit. He doesn't do it flashy, he does it the way he did it today, but he gets it done. He's a winner." Pinkman  Bettor Be Steppin wins wild Lynch Memorial  What was a wide-open race on paper became a wide-open finish as Bettor Be Steppin and Corey Callahan got up to win the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old pacing fillies Saturday night (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:50.4. The race was heated from the start as The Show Returns gunned to the lead from post nine for driver Tim Tetrick. Favored Stacia Hanover (Scott Zeron) cleared to the lead in a first quarter in :26, with the outer flow setting up going to the half. Bettor Be Steppin wasn't a part of that forward flow, however, as she was shuffled back to last. According to her connections, stablemate Divine Caroline (David Miller) was getting the better trip "At the half I thought we were dead," said trainer Joe Holloway. "She was fourth on the rail, fourth or fifth, just totally boxed. Divine Caroline was on the outside, loaded with pace, so I was hoping to see her go. I was trying to watch them both and at the half I thought the only shot I had was Divine Caroline." Wicked Little Minx (Brett Miller), a 50-1 longshot, came first-over with Sassa Hanover (Yannick Gingras) third-over through a half in a swift :54.1. They paced through three-quarters in 1:21.4 before the leaders began to struggle and the closers came closing. Momas Got A Gun (Jim Morrill Jr.) was sitting third on the rail and somehow found room inside. She stuck a head in front before Single Me (Brian Sears) and Bettor Be Steppin came from way out. From the far outside, Bettor Be Steppin stuck a nose in front of Single Me at the wire. Momas Got A Gun finished third by a neck. The win was the fourth in seven starts this year for Bettor Be Steppin. She paid $33.60 to win. The 1-7 exacta paid $895.60 and the 1-7-6 trifecta paid $10,958.10. "This was a good horse last year," said Ted Gewertz, who co-owns the Bettor's Delight-Two Steppin' Sally filly with Val D'Or Farms and Rojan Stables. "She was having a little trouble earlier in the year. [2014 Horse of the Year] JK She'salady didn't make the final, so that helped." Bettor Be Steppin T.J. Burkett and Ken Weingartner / U.S. Trotting Association  

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