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Three trotters from the sophomore class of 2010 have come online with their initial crops this year; Muscle Massive is standing at Hanover, Lucky Chucky at Winbak in New York and Holiday Road in Ontario. Pilgrim’s Taj is a fourth, but he only spent one year in Canada, after which he was relocated to Ohio and ultimately exported to Finland. That being the case, we’ll look at the first three. To this point restricted races have provided the only basis for judging them, but the open portion of the season commences this week with elimination rounds for the Peter Haughton and Merrie Annabelle at the Meadowlands as well as several splits of the Arden at The Meadows. Much of the focus has been on Muscle Massive and Lucky Chucky, beneficiaries of generous state bred programs who finished one-two in the Hambletonion. The former was a $450,000 yearling who was lightly raced at two but managed to win the Hambletonion as well as the Dancer at three, while Chucky was a precocious freshman, showing wins in the Valley Victory, Matron, ISS and Bluegrass. He was the 3/2 favorite in the Hambletonion and appeared on his way to victory when 6/1 Muscle Massive, piloted by Ron Pierce, ruined his day. Regardless, Chucky did win the Canadian Trotting Classic and Colonial at three, and he earned more money than Muscle Massive both years. Both sold close to seventy yearlings last year, with Chucky’s brood averaging quite a bit more. Both have seen their stud fees fluctuate before their first crops hit the track. Muscle Massive started at $10,000, only to have his fee cut to $7,500 and $6,000 in successive years. Cantab Hall, Donato Hanover, Andover Hall and Explosive Matter all command higher fees than their younger stablemate at Hanover. Chucky, on the other hand, started at $7,500 in New York, was dropped to $5,000 during a year spent in Pennsylvania, and came back up to $7,500 when he returned to Winbak, where nineteen-year-old Muscles Yankee stands for $2,500 more. Muscle Massive has benefited from the success of his older brother, Muscle Mass, sire of O’Brien winner Riveting Rosie and the successful OSS colt Muscle Matters. Thus far Muscle Massive has given us some outstanding fillies. Gatka Hanover, a big rugged gal out of the Conway Hall mare Girlie Tough, from the Ron Burke barn, has left many wondering where her ceiling is. Gatka rolled through a couple of baby races and has now chalked up three wins in the PA Sire Stakes, one each at The Meadows, Pocono and Harrah’s. Matt Kakaley steered her to an effortless four length win in 1:57 in her latest. She leaves from the five for Matt K in Friday’s first Merrie Annabelle elimination. Gatka takes on Lucky Chucky’s daughter, Lock Down Lindy, who drew plenty of attention with a very strong first over win in a Merrie Annabelle Prep at the Meadowlands Friday for Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna. Another Muscle Massive star in the making is Jimmy Takter’s Speak To Me, an $80,000 Harness Breeders purchase by Myron Bell. She is also three-for three in the PA Sire Stakes and has trotted in 1:55. Last time out, in a $57,000 sire stakes division at Harrah’s, Speak To Me gapped the field by ten on her way to an easy win at a stingy 1/5 price. Unfortunately this filly was not staked to the Merrie Annabelle and will be missing from the fray on Friday night. Blessings Counted is another talented filly by Muscle Massive. She was second to Speak To Me in a PASS race at The Meadows a couple of weeks ago and won a $57,000 race at Harrah’s in her latest start. She is not eligible to the Merrie Annabelle but is entered in a split of the Arden at The Meadows on Friday. Missive and Youth Gone Wild, both winners in the Stallion Series, will also race in the Arden. Jersey Strong, a talented filly with a win in the PA All Stars and a second in the PASS, isn’t entered at The Meadowlands or The Meadows on Friday. The top colt by Muscle Massive is Ake Svanstedt’s Lima Pride, who beat Jimmy Takter’s 1/9 favorite The Bank in a split of the Hickory Pride when The Bank went on a run at the three-quarters. Lima Pride, a $25,000 yearling purchase, was not nominated to the Peter Haughton. The priciest freshman trotter by any first crop stallion is Mr Lucky Luke, a $450,000 Lucky Chucky half- brother to Muscle Massive, Muscle Mass and 2010 Merrie Annabelle winner, Thatsnotmyname. The Cancelliere brothers, of Detour Hanover fame, purchased him at Lexington in the fall. He has yet to make a pari-mutuel start; let’s hope he generates a better ROI than Detour has. As for the Lucky Chucky colts and fillies that have raced, there is no eye popping Gatka Hanover out there, but there are plenty of good ones. I already mentioned Merrie Annabelle candidate Lock Down Lindy, who possesses the same rugged demeanor as Gatka. She is a half-sister to 2006 HOY in Canada, Majestic Son. He has sired Harper Blue Chip, Murmur Hanover and Charmed Life. Ray Schnittker has Gabe The Bear Dean, a $105,000 Harness Breeders buy, who has an impressive wire-to wire five length win in the NYSS at Buffalo. Jonas Czernyson has a few Lucky Chucky youngsters in his barn and he’s high on all of them. At the end of June Hot Start, a half-sister to Religulous, won a $27,000 NYSS split at Vernon Downs for Corey Callahan. Next time out, at Tioga, she cut most of the mile from the outside post only to lose to paternal sister My Twisted Sister, from the Paul Kelley barn. Hot Start is entered in the second Merrie Annabelle elimination on Friday. Nunkeri is another very promising Lucky Chucky filly from the Czernyson barn. She finished second to the Muscle Hill filly Josie’s Joy at the Meadowlands the other night, race timed in 1:57.2 as the second choice. Nunkeri won her start previous to that one, a $28,000 NYSS division at Tioga. George Ducharme’s sharp looking Conway Hall filly, Concentration, pressured her all the way home in a 1:59.3 mile. On the male side Mal and Janet Burroughs’ Mambo Blue Chip, a $40,000 Harness Breeders buy, won a $28,000 split of the NYSS in 1:57.2 at Tioga last time out. Holiday Road, a $115,000 yearling who is a full brother to Ken Warkentin, was lightly raced, making only ten lifetime stars. While staying on the track was an issue, speed wasn’t; he won the Peter Haughton at two and a split of the Dancer at three. He opened his stallion career for $4,500 at Seelster Farms and now stands for $3,500. This week the Holiday Roads started to turn heads and earn respect at Mohawk as they performed admirably on the various OSS platforms. John Bax’s Hemi Seelster was long and tough winning a Grassroots division in 1:58.4 at 2/1. It was noteworthy that the gelding engaged in a head to head battle the length of the stretch with Pilgrim’s Joy, a son of first crop stallion Pilgrim’s Taj. Tony Alagna’s filly Gee O’Keeffe logged a very strong second in a $53,000 OSS Gold leg at Mohawk for Jody Jamieson, losing a length to the highly regarded Kadabra filly Juanita’s Fury. And Keith Jones’ gelding, It’s Huw You Know, was an upset Grassroots winner in 2:00.3 on Monday at 75/1, paying $159.60. And Ontheroad De Vie made a very impressive brush on the back as he came from the 10 post to finish second for Rick Zeron in a Grassroots leg. The Holiday Roads are looking good. Rock N Roll Heaven and Sportswriter are lighting it up in the freshman pacing division, but it’s expected that the trotters will take a little longer to get their bearings and hit their stride. Muscle Massive, Lucky Chucky and Holiday Road will all be prospering when they do. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

Ron Burke says there will be times when 2-year-old filly trotter Mission Brief makes him exclaim with awe, "Oh my God, look what she did." He also says it's possible he will mutter the same phrase in disappointment. "It's going to be both ways," Burke said, laughing. "She's very, very fast. All along I've thought she's our most talented 2-year-old. She just has to get her brain settled down a little bit." Mission Brief was among 17 horses entered in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters at the Meadowlands. Two $20,000 eliminations will be held Friday, with the top five finishers from each division advancing to the $320,000 estimated final on Aug. 2 at the Big M. Also on Friday will be one elimination for the $280,000 estimated Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters. Three horses - Canepa Hanover, Guess Whos Back, and Honor And Serve - received byes to the final based on earnings, so the top seven finishers in the elimination will join them. Mission Brief, who so far has been the season's fastest 2-year-old trotter, is not the only Burke horse entered in the Merrie Annabelle. The sport's leading trainer also sends out Gatka Hanover, who is unbeaten in three starts. "I know there are people in my barn that think [Gatka Hanover] is better than the other filly, but I've been a Mission Brief fan the whole way," Burke said. "Hopefully they'll both make it through and they can settle it in the final." Mission Brief has won two of three races. She went off stride in her first start, but came back to win her next by 9-3/4 lengths in 1:55.1 and then captured the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship by 13-1/4 lengths in 1:53.3. A daughter of stallion Muscle Hill out of the 2007 Breeders Crown-winning mare Southwind Serena, Mission Brief was purchased as a yearling for $150,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. She is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and J&T Silva Stables. Southwind Serena is a half-sister to Southwind Spirit, a Muscle Hill-sired colt that Burke also trains. Last year at age 2, Southwind Spirit won the American-National Stakes and Kindergarten Classic final. "It was the reason we looked at Mission Brief," Burke said of the family connection. "And she was beautiful. That [$150,000] was the most we ever paid for a yearling and we thought we got a bargain." Burke hopes Mission Brief's two wins are an indication she is settling down a bit. "She seems to be getting better about her behavior," he said. "You're just going to have to hope that she picks the right times to put it all together." Gatka Hanover has won all three of her races in Pennsylvania, capturing a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars and two divisions of the sire stakes. "She's never been even challenged," Burke said. "She's done everything wrapped up." Gatka Hanover is by stallion Muscle Massive out of the dam Girlie Tough. She was purchased for $40,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is a half-sister to Heaven's Door, who was winless in four races last year at age 2, but has won the 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship and finished second in the Del Miller Memorial. "We bought [Gatka Hanover] because last year I saw Heaven's Door make breaks and just go unbelievable miles after she ran," Burke said. "You were just hoping this one would be a little calmer, and she is. Heaven's Door has come back this year and been awesome so we're thrilled to have [Gatka Hanover]." Gatka Hanover is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Tracy Hendler. The remainder of Gatka Hanover's Merrie Annabelle elimination, the first of the two divisions, has Wordie Hanover, Demons N Diamonds, Lock Down Lindy, Lilu Hanover, Love Me Madly, Smexi, and Sweet Thing. Mission Brief's split is filled by Sarcy, Flirting Filly, Onda Di Mare, Hot Start, Livininthefastlane, Jolene Jolene, Whitney Hanover, and Crazy Beautiful. "You know there are horses that have not yet shown their best miles," Burke said. "I don't think Mission Brief has seen the bottom and [Gatka Hanover] has never even been challenged. But I'm sure mine aren't the only horses sitting on miles they haven't shown yet. It's just going to be how every horse adjusts to the track." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Overcast skies this morning to go with the coffee and chocolate babka for Breakfast With The Babies at The Meadowlands. John Campbell took a pair of trots, most notably with the regally bred Muscle Diamond. The son of Muscle Hill from the very accomplished Windylane Hanover added trotting hopples this morning for trainer Brett Bittle and the result was a 1:58.4 win with a 27.2 final quarter. He was a $40,000 buy from the Lexington sale by the Kellers and Bittles who enjoyed such success with his dam. John won right back with the Lucky Chucky lass A List Lindy for Chuck Sylvester. She took over past the quarter and finished the 2:01 mile with a 29 flat final quarter. She's owned by Chuck and long-time partner Neal Goldman along with Pinstripe Stable and her breeder, Lindy Farms who sold her at Harrisburg for $60,000 last fall. Shaqline made her first start for Takter in this one and caught some eyes with her finishing kick. The $450,000 first crop topper for Lucky Chucky, Mr Lucky Luke made his debut today and was second in 2:02 with Campbell driving for the Cancelliere brothers. The winner there was Keystone Bodacious, an $85,000 Muscle Massive colt from Balanced Action. He was driven by Corey Callahan for the Jonas Czernyson barn and owners Arden Homestead, Mal & Janet Burroughs, LST Stables and W. Devan, Jr. Campbell and the Cancelliere boys paired up later with Rock N Roll Heaven colt Raylan Givens for a 1:54.2 score. Raylan set most of the pace and held off the late charge of Shades Of Bay for the win. He's $135,000 Harrisburg buy from Lisheen, thus a half-brother to the champion older pacer of a few years back Lis Mara. A Plus opened the pacing action and the American Ideal filly from Has An Attitude was impressive taking over from Better Said passing the half and sprinting home in 27 flat to close the 1:57.4 mile. Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna picked up where last night left off (they paired for a triple on the card) here with the flashy, blaze faced filly owned by Alagna in partnership with In The Gym Partners, Tangie Massey and Joe Sbrocco. She's A Hot Mess was making her fourth morning appearance and the speedy daughter of American Ideal x Sure Fun Tryin' flaunted her speed today for Alagna and Zeron with an effortless 1:54 win. With the field scratched down to three, She's A Hot Mess was left to set the pace and does wander a bit without a target but she sure covers the ground. She's a homebred owned by the trainer along with the Bell's Riverview Racing and John Fodera. Asap Hanover also turned heads this morning with his stretch sprint to win in 1:54.1 for Tim Tetrick. Making his second morning start following up an impressive 1:56.4/26.2 six length win last week, Asap ranks high on the list of colt prospects seen this summer. He's a $150,000 product of the Lexington yearling sale, sired by Somebeachsomewhere from Allamerican Coed. The colt is owned by John Mehlenbacher and trained by Linda Toscano. Live racing resumes tonight at 7:15 as we continue with Corntastic weekend. The race feature is a pair of eleven horse divisions of the $65,000 Reynolds Memorial stake featuring Hambletonian contenders Nuncio and Trixton making their final preparations for that classic two weeks hence. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands  

Five divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 2-year-old filly trotters were contested Friday, each carrying a purse of just over $57,000.   In the first division, it was Speak To Me (Muscle Massive) remaining undefeated, going on to an easy victory in a time of 1:55. It was the first of three training wins for Jimmy Takter, and one of four driving wins for Yannick Gingras. That's So Ironic finished second, while Matter Hatter was third. Speak To Me is owned by Brittany Farms.   In Division two, it was Smexi (Explosive Matter) closing fast up the passing lane for the win. The Takter trainee drafted behind the speed of eventual third place finisher Kirsi Hanover, and won the sprint home in a time of 1:57. Favorite Kelsey's Keepsake was second. Smexi is owned by the Fieldings, Christina Takter, and Herb Liverman, and was driven by Yannick Gingras.   In the third division, it was Wild Honey (Cantab Hall) picking up her second career win. She was fast off the gate and never looked back, stopping the clock in 1:57. Love Me Madly finished second, while longshot Mercer County was third. Wild Honey is owned by the previous winners connections, and was also piloted by Yannick Gingras.   Division four went to Blessings Counted (Muscle Massive). The Beinhauer trainee brushed to the lead just shy of the half, and went on to a convincing win in a time of 1:57. She is owned by Regina and trainer Rick Beinhauer, and was driven by Dan Rawlings. Bright Baby Blues finished second, while Avalon Hall was third.   In the fifth division, it was heavily favored Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive) scoring an impressive victory. The Ron Burke trainee remains a perfect three for three, stopping the timer in 1:57. She is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Hendler and Bruscemi, and was driven by Matt Kakaley.   by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia 

Former world champion Perfect Alliance, who was victorious in her first 11 races this year before suffering back-to-back setbacks, will try to get another win streak started when she faces five harness racing foes in Friday's $20,000 first round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Perfect Alliance finished seventh in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series on July 12 at the Meadowlands. The race was won by Bee A Magician in a world-record 1:51.1, with Perfect Alliance 4-1/4 lengths back. Afterward, Perfect Alliance was found to have bled, in addition to scoping sick, and will compete with Lasix on Friday. In her previous start on June 14, Perfect Alliance finished second to Classic Martine in the Armbro Flight Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Perfect Alliance starts Friday's Ima Lula from post six, with Corey Callahan driving for trainer Julie Miller, and is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The remainder of the field is Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, and NF Happenstance. "I was pretty surprised because she had a layoff and trained good during the week," Miller said about Perfect Alliance's performance last week. "This time of year, we do have a little bit of sickness in the barn with the young horses. She still went in (1):52 with a last quarter in :27, it's still an impressive mile, but I didn't like how she did it. "After scoping her and pulling the bloodwork, we elected to put her on Lasix and treat her for being sick. She seems really good. We took the necessary steps to get her better for this week. I'm just hoping for a nice bounce-back race. I'll let Corey decide behind the gate what he wants to do, if he wants to leave or race from behind. I just want to see her finish strong at the wire." Perfect Alliance -- owned by Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz, and Arthur Geiger -- won the Singer Memorial Series and the Bobby Weiss Series during the winter and equaled the then-fastest mile ever by a 4-year-old female trotter when she won a division of the Miss Versatility in 1:51.2 at Woodbine Racetrack. She also set a track record at Mohawk, winning in 1:51.4. "You always want more, and we're the same way," Miller said. "She started luckily in good spots [earlier in the year] where she seemed to be the prohibitive favorite all the time, to where she did prove herself in those races in Canada. "You're going to have a clunker every now and then. They're living animals; they're going to have an off day. You just need to listen to your horse and let them decide their schedule. I'm still proud to train her and I'm sure the owners are still proud to own her." The second round of the Ima Lula is July 25 and the $55,000 estimated final is Hambletonian Day, Aug. 2, at the Meadowlands. Reynolds Memorial Stakes divisions for 3-year-old trotters are on Saturday's Meadowlands card. Only four fillies entered, so that race will be a non-betting event prior to the regular 7:15 p.m. post time for the night's first race. One of those fillies is Julie Miller-trainee Take The Money, who is auditioning for the chance to race in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks. Eliminations for the Oaks are July 26 and the $500,000 final is Aug. 2 at the Big M. Take The Money, owned by Barry Guariglia's Black Horse Racing, has won six of 10 races this year, primarily in Pennsylvania. She has twice finished second to top Hambletonian Oaks contender Shake It Cerry. She will be driven Saturday by Marcus Miller and faces Bikini So Teeny, Silent Opera K, and Mity's Winner. "She's been a nice [Pennsylvania] Sire Stakes horse, in my opinion," Miller said. "We're using this race to decide whether if we're a Hambletonian Oaks contender or not. She's had a little bit of a layoff, but I want to see a nice race, finishing with trot. With a four-horse field, it's usually just a race home. That's what I want to do. "If Marcus hops off the bike and says 'She was vicious, she was super,' then you go in the Oaks. If he says she didn't seem strong, then we have to have a discussion. She trained really good. I know by program she seems to be the best, but that's why they still race. I'm just hoping for a strong race." On the boys' side, there are two 11-horse divisions worth $32,207 each. Jimmy Taker-trained Nuncio, who has won four of six races this year and twice finished second to nemesis, and stablemate, Father Patrick, is part of the 3-5 favored entry with Amped Up Hanover in the first division. Nuncio and Amped Up Hanover are eligible to the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Aug. 2. The rest of the field is Uva Hanover, Another Deposition, Sarcastic Man, Southwind Poseidon, Revrac Harbour, Resolve, Home Front, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. All are eligible to the Hambletonian except Another Deposition, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. Takter's Trixton is the 3-5 choice in the second division. The split also includes Mister B's Way, Skates N Plates, Another Transcript, Truxton, Well Built, Speak The Truth, Scacco Matto, Lightning Force, Muscle Midas, and Datsyuk. All are eligible to the Hambletonian. * * * The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters on Friday visits Harrah's Philadelphia, where several horses with famous siblings will go behind the gate. Kolachke (Donato Hanover-La Riviera Lindy) is a half-sister to 2012 Horse of the Year Chapter Seven and Sistas (Andover Hall-Honorable Mother) is a half-sister to Honorable Daughter, the 2008 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter. Inch By Inch (Yankee Glide-Armbro Niagara) is a full sister to millionaire Falls For You, Lilu Hanover (Andover Hall-Lady Luck Hanover) is a full sister to stakes-winner Luckycharm Hanover, and Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough) is a three-quarter-sister to 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Heaven's Door. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications  

At this point many two-year-olds have a couple of starts in them, so it’s time to marry personal observations with wild speculation and project which ones will be stepping up to win the Cup, Jug and Hambletonion next year. This is by no means a definitive list of the best of the best; as a matter of fact I’m going out of my way to include some by off-brand stallions. That being said, here are a few early standouts. Artspeak is a Western ideal colt out of the Artsplace mare, The Art Museum. The Western Ideals have fallen on hard times at the sales of late, relatively speaking, but Brittany threw $100,000 at this guy, which matched the top price for any of his paternal brothers in North America. He has won both of his NJSS starts for Scott Zeron and trainer Tony Alagna, in dominant fashion. On Pace Day he came first over to win in 1:52.3 at odds of 3/5 at the Meadowlands. Western Ideal has given us the outstanding performers and game changing sires Rocknroll Hanover and American Ideal, as well as Always A Virgin and Big Jim. His 2013 crop moves on to the slugfest that is the PASS next year. Stacia Hanover, the winner of the $100,000 NJSS final for freshman pacing fillies, is also by Western Ideal. The $35,000 Harness Breeders purchase is trained by veteran Steve Elliott and, like Artspeak, driven by Scott Zeron. She has two other wins in the restricted class, aside from the high-dollar final which she won in 1:53.4 at odds of 3/5. Yankee Bounty is a two-year-old gelding by the enigmatic Artiscape stallion, Yankee Cruiser. His dam is the Allamerican Native mare Yankee Bootleg. This isn’t a combination that screams early speed. Yes, Yankee Cruiser did give is the current king of the pacing ranks, Sweet Lou, who held world records at two and three, as well as the rejuvenated speed demon Dancin Yankee, but for the most part this stallion was up against it in Pennsylvania. Yankee Bounty, a $21,000 Harness Breeders purchase, has won both of his starts in impressive fashion. He won splits of the Pennsylvania All Stars and the Albatross for Corey Callahan and trainer Kevin Lane. Yankee Cruiser stands his first year in Ohio in 2014. Bob Ben And John is one of the wave of impressive colts from the first crop of 2009 two-year-old division champ Sportswriter. Casie Coleman, who trained the son of Artsplace, and has been the leading cheerleader for his initial offering, plucked him from the Lexington sale for a modest $17,000. His dam is the Cambest mare, My Best Girl. This colt made his first pari-mutuel start last week in a $70,000 OSS-Gold leg at Mohawk. He was an easy winner by three in 1:53 at odds of 2/1 for Chris Christoforou. Sportswriter is absolutely killing it in the freshman pacing division of the Ontario Sire Stakes; he’s taking all the air; none of the others are on the same planet. SBSW shook the Pennsylvania program to its foundation with his first crop, but what’s happening with Sportswriter in his restricted program may be more dramatic. Shadow Play impressed us last year with his first crop, but he hasn’t gone on to be a factor in the open realm with his sophomores. We’ll wait and see if Sporty, a key player from the stressed Adios line, makes his presence felt outside of Ontario. Sassa Hanover is a filly from the first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven. Ron Burke bought her at Lexington for $50,000. Sassa’s dam, Sayo Hanover, is half to the very fast Shadyshark Hanover. Jim Morrill drover her to an easy two length win in a NYSS race at Monticello on the July 4. She won in 1:56.3 with plenty to spare. And two of her paternal sisters—She’s Heavenly and Band Of Angels—also won top dollar splits of the sire stakes that day. Heaven was held in high esteem at the sales, and thus far he is fulfilling his promise.   Dragon Eddy is a two-year-old gelding—aren’t they all—by Dragon Again, a stallion known more for throwing rugged long lasting types like Foiled Again, Atochia and Aracache Hanover than he is as a sire of early speed. My Little Dragon won her division at two, but she was an exception. Well, Eddy is something of an outlier himself. He brought $42,000 at Lexington, which is on the pricey side for Dragon Again, who now stands in Ohio. John Buttenschoen trains and Mike Simons drives. At the end of June Eddy won a split of the Pennsylvania All Starts in 1:54.3 at Pocono, and he went on to win a division of the Albatross in an eye opening 1:52.4 at odds of 2/5 at the Meadows on July 8. Mission Brief is a brown Muscle Hill filly who opened a lot of eyes when she took her $100,000 final of the NJSS by 13 lengths in 1:53.3 for Yanick Gingras and Ron Burke. This was an improvement on her previous start, where she only won by ten. Her dam Southwind Serena is by the great trotter Varenne. Mission Brief was a $150,000 Lexington purchase. Look out! The Bank is a Donato Hanover colt out of 2008 three-year-old division winner, Lantern Kronos. He won a split of the Pennsylvania All Stars for Jimmy Takter on July 4th and broke stride while leading on the last turn as the 1/9 favorite in a division of the Hickory Pride at The Meadows this week. Again, Takter drove. Uncle Lasse, a full brother to Shake It Cerry and Solvato, is another very promising Donato colt in the Takter Barn. He also won on July 4. Yesterday he was beaten in a quick 1:56.3 split of the Hickory Pride by the Cantab Hall colt Billy Flynn, driven to perfection by Brett Miller. Possess The Will and Your So Vain notwithstanding, Donato has pretty much been all filly no colt to this point. If this pair is turned over to Gingras or Pierce they could change that in a hurry. Honor And Serve, a Donato colt out of 2008 freshman division winner and world record holder Honorable Daughter, is another who might turn the tide. He just took a split of the Hickory Pride for Dave Palone and Jim Campbell. Royal Deceptor is one of numerous offspring of the New York stallion RC Royalty that sold at the Morrisville sale. The success of last year’s Hambletonion winner, Royalty For Life, inspired many to look favorably upon the eleven-year-old siring son of Credit Winner. Cheryl and Michael McGivern took this brown colt home for $11,000. Royal Deceptor won all three of his qualifiers, then went out and won a split of the NYSS in a track record 1:59.3 at Buffalo Raceway for Michael McGivern. Gatka is a big, rugged filly from the first crop of seven-year-old Hambletonion winner Muscle Massive, whose big brother Muscle Mass met with success in Ontario and has since been relocated to New York. Gatka is a sister to Ake Svanstedt’s Muscle Hill filly Heaven’s Door, who won the $100,000 NJSS sophomore final and finished second behind Shake It Cerry in the Del Miller. She won a division of the PA All Stars at The Meadows in 1:56 at 2/5 and last week she took a split of the Meadow Gladys with ease in 1:57.1 at 1/5.  Billy Flynn, a $120,000 Lexington purchase by Steffan Lind, is by Cantab Hall, arguably the best trotting stallion in North America. Another brown colt—there seems to be a run on them—he is out of the Enjoy Lavec mare Zeta Jones and was bred by Brittany farms. Billy took a split of the PA All Stars by six lengths in 1:57.2 at Pocono earlier this month and he beat the highly regarded Centurion ATM and Uncle Lasse in a division of the Hickory Pride. Brett Miller drives. Wild Honey is proving to be a $35,000 bargain for Jimmy Takter. The daughter of Cantab Hall was a close second to Gatka Hanover in that one’s first start and, like Gatka, won a split of the Meadow Gladys at The Meadows, for Yanick Gingras. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

WASHINGTON, PA, July 15, 2014 -- Billy Flynn powered through the Lightning Lane to remain undefeated and score in 1:56.4, fastest winner in Tuesday's $236,210 Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows. Driver Dave Palone won seven of the races on the program including three PASS divisions. The event for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters, known as the Hickory Pride, was contested over five divisions, with Special Action, Honor And Serve, Lima Pride and Piercewave Hanover taking the other splits. Dave Palone enjoyed a stake triple (Special Action, Honor and Serve, Piercewave Hanover), among his seven wins on the 16-race card. Billy Flynn was named for the fictional lawyer Billy Flynn from the play and film Chicago, a smoothie portrayed by such actors as Richard Gere and Jerry Ohrbach who croons, "All I care about is love." All the equine Billy Flynn cares about is winning, beginning his career with victories in the PA All Stars and the PASS. Trainer Staffan Lind and owner Bender Sweden Inc. need the son of Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones (she also a hit in the Chicago movie) to be a superstar; they gave $120,000 for him as a yearling. "From Day 1, when I've trained him, he just waited for me to ask him to go a little faster," Lind said. "I know he will do everything he can. He's a big, strong horse with a very nice gait." In the PASS, Billy Flynn squeezed through inside for Brett Miller to down Centurion ATM by 3/4 lengths, with Uncle Lasse third. Lind said Billy Flynn may race next week in the Arden Downs stake during Adios Week at The Meadows. Special Action launched his career inauspiciously, breaking stride in the PA All Stars. On Tuesday, he followed cover beautifully, prevailing in 1:57.3. Hurrikane Jonny K was second, 1-3/4 lengths back, with Ralph R third. "He's a nice horse -- I like him," said Jimmy Takter, who trains the homebred son of Yankee Glide-Special Appeal for Brittany Farms. "His potential? Your guess is as good as mine. But that was a good mile today; he came a good last half." Lima Pride, a 20-1 bomber, found fortune around the final turn when both the leader, The Bank, and the looming challenger, Soboro Hanover, broke stride. Lima Pride took full advantage, breaking his maiden in 1:58.1. On The Sly was second, 1/2 length in arrears, while Vintage Hall completed the ticket. "I think he had a good chance even if they don't break," said winning driver Ake Svanstedt, who trains the son of Muscle Massive-Pacific Legacy for Top Ten Racing Stable. "He's a strong horse. The other horses were slipping, but he handled it." In the $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot, Trustworthy Kid moved second over to victory in 1:54.1, 1-1/4 lengths better than Tall Cotton, with Kirty Dream third. Brian Zendt drove for trainer Walter "Boots" Dunn and owner Dunn Stable. The 5-year-old SJ's Caviar-Penn Worthy Lane gelding now boasts career earnings of $237,036. Wednesday's card at The Meadows features a $120,000 PA Stallion Series stake for freshman filly pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows  

WASHINGTON, PA, July 14, 2014 -- Strategic Alliance atoned for a break in his career debut by sailing through the slop to notch a front-end victory in Monday's $80,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake at The Meadows. Explosive Drama, Wimborne Hanover and Explosiveday also took $20,000 splits in the event for freshman colt and gelding trotters. Mike Simons, trainer John Butenschoen and owners Give It A Shot Stable and VIP Internet Stable teamed for a stake double with Strategic Alliance and Explosive Drama. Strategic Alliance had a legitimate excuse in the PA All Stars where, Simons said, a rival stepped on his foot. He needed no alibis Monday, as the son of Yankee Gide-Swift Kid Hanover zoomed to the front, thwarted the challenge of Red Maple Leaf and downed him by a length in 1:59.1. MmmmGood was third. "We were a little surprised because focus has been his issue training down," said assistant trainer Tyler Butenschoen. "But Mike made sure to keep his attention, and he did everything right. I would guess off that mile he would go to the sires stakes." Perhaps because he was a ridgling, Wimborne Hanover was overlooked by a number of prospective bidders at Harrisburg. But William Daugherty, Jr., a savvy veteran of the PA Fairs, saw something that attracted him to the Muscle Massive-Wherley gelding. "I liked his video -- he's small but gutty," Dougherty said. "We took a chance on him. I just liked the little bugger. When I looked at him in the stall, he looked at me like, 'Will you get me out of here?' Just a superstitious-type deal." Eric Ledford eased Wimborne Hanover into the two path down the backside, and the youngster found a late seam outside to prevail in 2:01.2. The Master was second, 1-1/4 lengths back, while the first-over Don't Mind Me Finished third. Susan Daugherty campaigns her $11,000 yearling acquisition. Explosive Drama inherited the lead when HA Taylor broke stride, and he made the most of his opportunity, scoring in 2:00.1, 3-1/4 lengths better than Explosiveafternoon. Marion Coca completed the ticket. "He has a good attitude, and he's real nice to be around," Tyler Butenschoen said. Of the Explosive Matter-Phillycityhall gelding "He just does his work, and he enjoys it. He's maybe not as big as some others. He might be good enough for sires stakes, but we'll just let him tell us." Tuesday's card at The Meadows features the Hickory Pride, a $236,210 PA Sires Stake for 2-year-od colt and gelding trotters. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, July 11, 2014 -- Freshman trotting fillies got their first taste of Pennsylvania Sires Stakes action Friday at The Meadows, and that taste was sweetest of all for Livininthefastlane, who triumphed in a stake-fastest 1:56.1. The $xxx event known as the Meadow Gladys was contested over seven divisions, with Kelsey's Keepsake, Gatka Hanover, Iluvmyjimmychoos, Sweet Thing, Wild Honey and Speak To Me taking the other splits. Brian Sears and trainer Julie Miller teamed for a pair of Meadow Gladys wins (Livininthefastlane, Kelsey's Keepsake), as did Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter (Wild Honey, Speak To Me). Livininthefastlane broke stride at the gate in the PA All Stars -- her career debut -- so Sears let her settle before moving her first over. "She raced really big last week but was a little hesitant at the gate and made a break," Sears said. "But I had a lot of confidence in her, and she was pretty handy tonight. She's what I thought she is." She downed Jersey Strong by 1-1/2 lengths, with Annalina third. Marvin Katz, Al Libfield and Sam Goldband campaign the daughter of Donato Hanover-Nicole's Promise. Iluvmyjimmychoos provided the most dramatic Meadow Gladys victory, charging through the Lightning Lane for Dave Palone to make up 2 lengths and score in 1:57 at first asking. April Rose was 3/4 lengths back in second while Byfleet Hanover completed the ticket. "You don't want to hit the gas with these things too quick -- they're just babies," Palone said. "She felt good in the lines, but you never know how they'll react when you head them into the passing lane. She was a real professional -- hit a big gear finishing." Nancy Johansson trains the daughter of Cantab Hall-Yankee Valentine for Crawford Partners and James Crawford. Gatka Hanover captured her career debut in the PA All Stars and made it look even easier in the Meadow Gladys, scoring on the front end in 1:57.1 for Matt Kakaley, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stable, Tracy Hendler and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Matter Hatter was second, 2-1/2 lengths in arrears, with Bright Baby Blues third. "I didn't want to rush her," Kakaley said of the daughter of Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough. "If anybody left, I would've just left them go and moved her to the front easy without getting her too worked up. Once she gets there, she's relaxed. She trotted 57 the back half easy as any horse can do it." In the $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, Pop Cop shot the Lightning Lane to score in 1:51.1 for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Bill Bercury. D Mac was second, 1/2 length back, with the pace-setting Windsong Jack third. The 5-year-old Bettor's Delight-Pop Queen gelding extended his career bankroll to $221,627. Dan Rawlings drove three winners on the 15-race program. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the card features an $80,000 Pennsylvania Stallions Series stake for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, July 10, 2014 -- A total of 52 freshman filly trotters will make their Pennsylvania Sires Stakes debut Friday evening at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Add to that the 37 two-year-old filly trotters who competed in Wednesday's PA Stallions Series at The Meadows and you have one of the most robust, promising classes of youngsters ever seen in the Commonwealth -- or anywhere else in harness racing. Quality likely will be on display as well, as top trainers are sending well-bred babies after a total of $247,481 in purses. Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and Jim Campbell will be represented by six fillies each while Julie Miller sends out four. Ake Svanstedt, conditioner of leading Horse of the Year candidate Sebastian K, has a pair in Friday's PASS. First post Friday is 6:55 PM, with the stake contested over seven divisions. Campbell was reluctant to over-praise his sextet -- five of them owned by Jules Siegel's Fashion Farms -- but conceded that he and Siegel are excited about their prospects. "Some of them are coming off one baby race," Campbell noted, "but we're coming out there, so we decided to bring them all. They're just getting started. We put too much pressure on these horses right from the word go. They need a little time to find their way and develop. Once you get into August, they'll separate themselves." Among the most noteworthy from Fashion Farms is Fashion Voyager, a full sister to world champion Pilgrims Taj (Broadway Hall-BWT Maija), who opened her career in hopples with a handy PA All Stars win. She goes in Race 2 from post 7 with John Campbell piloting. "She did it very easily," Jim Campbell said. "She's done everything that we've asked of her so far." Also of interest from the Campbell group is Onda Di Mare, a daughter of Yankee Glide-Upfront OB's Janet who captured her PA All Stars split in 1:56.3 while taking air down the backside. Tim Tetrick will guide her from post 3 in Race 10. Takter, whose ownership groups have the resources to patronize any stallions they choose, will send out fillies from six different stallions -- Andover Hall, Broadway Hall, Cantab Hall, Donato Hanover, Explosive Matter, Muscle Massive -- an indication of the strength of Pennsylvania's ranks and Takter's emphases in selecting yearlings. "I try to buy the horses we like," Takter said. "The sire is not the number one priority; the maternal line is number one. And you have to find out which are the best crosses." Among his six-pack, Takter cited Sarcy, who was beaten a neck in her PA All Stars split after being roughed up the first quarter. "I really like her, but she's in a very tough division," he said. "She's a nice, quick little thing. At Pocono, it was a sprint, and she couldn't get to the horse in front of her." Yannick Gingras drives Sarcy (Donato Hanover-Southwind Allaire) from post 2 in Race 2 for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding and Jim Fielding. During Friday's card, The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association will present "Back to the Track," an industry-wide celebration of the joys of harness racing. Activities include: Family Fun Night, featuring a bounce house/inflatable side, airbrush and balloon artists and a petting zoo; A celebrity match race; A "Meet and Greet" session with horsemen; Harness racing bingo; Backside tours; A "Spin to Win" lottery; T-shirt giveaway; A handicapping contest. July 15 is draw date for Adios Pace The Meadows Racetrack & Casino wishes to remind owners and trainers that entries for the $600,000 (est.) Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light are due by Tuesday, July 15, 9 AM. Eliminations for the Adios are set for Saturday, July 19, when the card kicks off at 6:55 PM. The final will go on Saturday, July 26, headlining a power-packed Grand Circuit program expected to offer an estimated $1 million in purses. First post Adios Day is 12:20 PM. For more information, please contact the race secretary’s office, 724.225.9897. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

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

The popular Saturday Breakfast With The Babies event again enjoyed a perfect morning weather-wise for the races. They got underway at 9:30 with the Cantab Hall x Musical Victory colt Musical Rhythm reversing his previous form, heading right to the front for a gate to wire 1:59.1 / 28.2 win for Scott Zeron. P Mac Attack was second and Wicker Hanover third. He's trained in the Tony Alagna stable for John Fodera and Steve Wienick racing as In The Gym Partners who paid $35,000 at the Lex Select sale. Buzzy Sholty scored a double on the day with a nice pair of Donato Hanover fillies that he trains for the Place Your Betts Stable. The first was Donato's Babe from Marion Monet, a 2:00.1 winner in the second. She led all the way and coasted in over Sobti Hanover and Chezando. The Betts boys, Andrew, Scott and Tim gave $16,000 for her at Harrisburg last fall. HS Carry On (With Faith) came for $1,000 less at the same venue and she was sharp on the lead today through even numbers for the 2:00.3 score over Iluvmyjimmychoos. Shafina Hanover was a winner for Ron Pierce and Noel Daley, who have teamed up on more than a few top trotters over the years. She rallied from well back to catch Praying Gear deep in the stretch in 2:01.1. A $50,000 Harrisburg purchase by Adam Victor & Son and Barbara Matthews, she's an Explosive Matter from She's A Blizzard. Ake Svanstedt won the next couple. He brought a nice Yankee Glide filly named That's So Ironic in and won the fourth, just holding on over a closing Janet in 1:59.3 /28.4. She cost Maryann Racing $47,000 at Lexington. Lima Pride impressed for Svanstedt in the very next race leading to the half, getting buzzed by The Bakers Choice and John Campbell around the last turn then rallying back to win in 2:01.2 / 28.4. He's from the first crop of Muscle Massive out of Pacific Legacy and was a $25,000 buy at the Lexington Selected Sale for the account of Top Ten Racing. Maestro Blue Chip was a good third, closing stoutly for Trond Smedshammer. Trond had a winner in Buen Camino in 1:59 / 28.4 after a pocket ride. He's a good sized homebred Cash Hall from Baby Rella owned by Ernesto Martinez and WCB Stable. He got up to nail Bavaro with Longcat Hanover up for the show. Magenta Man was game to hold off Soboro Hanover after leading all the way in 1:59.4 / 28.4 for Campbell. He's a handsome Muscles Yankee from Magenta Hall that brought $70,000 at Harrisburg and races for Let It Ride, Jeff Gural, Howard Taylor and RBH Venture who have entrusted the "Crocodile Man" Ross Croghan to tend to the training details. She's Heavenly opened the pacing races with a handy 1:55.4 score with Mike Lachance aboard for owner, trainer and breeder Bob Horowitz. She's another winner from the first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven from Hedgie Blue Chip and looks promising. Casie Coleman sent out Oneisalonelynumber to win the tenth in 1:57 / 27.4. He followed Feeling Cam Lucky around the track and surged by with one crack of Dave Miller's whip for the score. This Bettor's Delight colt from No One Is Alone cost West Winds Stable and Adriano Sorella $62,000 last fall at Lexington. Bedroomconfessions got the perfect trip from Scott Zeron and burst through an opening between fillies to win convincingly in 1:55.2 / 27.1 with her individual last split a tick or two faster. She's an American Ideal x Turnoffthelights homebred owned in partnership by Stephanie & Myron Bell's Riverview Farms and her trainer Tony Alagna. The day's final race was the fastest with the $190,000 (HBG) Well Said colt Paparazzi Hanover winning for Yannick Gingras. He moved to the front at the half in 58.3, then threw a 56 / 27.2 at 'em on the end to win in hand over a very wide Sicily and American Crossroads. A son of the top mare Paula's Best, Paparazzi Hanover is trained by Jim Campbell for the potent partnership of Jeff Snyder and Jules Siegel's Fashion Farm. For full results click here. The Miss Hot For Trot pageant final is tonight during the live card which begins at 7:15. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

Saturday morning's Breakfast with the Babies at The Meadowlands was offered up on a perfect morning with mild temperatures and little wind.   Quick impressions were that the Jimmy Takter Stable has another powerful group of freshman trotters, his fellow Swede Ake Svanstedt is a quick study with pacers and Tony Alagna chose well last fall.   Jimmy opened with a trotting filly triple, winning the first with Tangerine Bi in 2:01.3. She is a Yankee Glide from Muscovite that he drove for the partnership of Christina Takter, Marvin Katz and John & Jim Fielding who gave $70,000 for her at Lexington. Takter Stable then took the second with Wild Honey in 2:00.1 leading all the way with Yannick Gingras driving for Christina, John & Jim Fielding and Herb Liverman over Sales Office Lillie and She's On Fire. She is also a Lexington Select graduate at $35,000.   Third race, same story with the sharp looking Donato Hanover x Southwind Allaire filly Sarcy exploding from the pocket for an effortless 1:58.4 win with Gingras driving for Takter over Rules Of The Road and Wordie Hanover. It was the second impressive morning appearance for the $37,000 Lexington buy, owned again by Christina Takter and the Fielding brothers. After his entry was scratched in the fourth race, Takter resumed winning in the fifth with the $80,000 Harrisburg buy Speak To Me impressing with a closing move into a 28.3 final quarter for the 2:00.3 win. Brittany Farms paid $80,000 for the first crop Muscle Massive filly out of Ms Naughty at Harrisburg. Encora and Iluvmyjimmychoos followed the winner under the wire.   Takter later sent out the Bettors Delight x Armbro Amoretto pacing colt Bet You to win the morning's fastest race as he closed to a 1:55.3 win with Yannick driving. In a race with plenty of pace and action, Bet You sprinted home in 27.1 for a clear win over pacesetter Elwell. He cost Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding and J McClelland $75,000 at Lexington last fall.   Ake Svanstedt unveiled a sample of his first crop of yearlings trained in the US with a good showing. He won the sixth with Blue Muse, a Muscles Yankee filly from Upside Blue Chip he owns in partnership with her breeder, Jeff Gural's Little E LLC. She sat just behind the lead and trotted by in the stretch in 2:01.3 with a 29.2 final quarter. Svanstedt then unveiled a really talented SJ's Caviar x ENS Tag Session colt named Centurion ATM in race eight coming first over into a 1:33 three panels then drawing off to win in 2:00.3 under his own power. He cost Courant AB and Knutsson Trotting Inc. (the Sebastian K owners) $100,000 at Harrisburg and he looks like the goods. Elusive Action and Mercury Fashion followed the winner in.   Ake came back to win a pacing race with the Western Ideal x Bold Pink colt Badix Hanover in 1:57.1. He was a $30,000 Harrisburg yearling and is owned by Svanstedt.   Trotting colt Gifted Way closed up considerable ground willingly into a 28.3 final quarter to nip Amicus in 1:58.3 for Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna. This sharp looking Cantab Hall colt from rare Gift brought $170,000 at Lexington and is owned by Brittany Farms, Little E LLC, Joe Sbrocco and Deo Volente Farms in a Myron Bell partnership. Longcat Hanover looked good too. He won from behind for Nifty Norman and Dave Miller in 2:00.3 with a good last quarter. Pinske Stables and Enzed Racing gave $40,000 for this Muscle Massive colt from Likeavirgin Lindy.   The pacers started with a pair of nice Rocknroll Hanover fillies battling through a 26.3 final quarter with Smart Zone (Open Book Test) prevailing narrowly for Marcus and Erv Miller over Wicked Little Minx from the Svanstedt barn, the mile in 1:57.1. Paymaq Racing and D&M Trading gave $48,000 for her at Harrisburg.   She's Some Treasure is the full sister to Captaintreacherous and she flashed speed and grit in her 1:57.1 trial this morning. She was out past the quarter then cut the mile, sprinting home in 27.4 for Tetrick. She is trained in the Tony Alagna barn for breeder & owner White Birch Farms. Tony had a nice pair in the last race with Trading Up winning on the lead despite going greenly for Scott Zeron, holding off stable mate Robert Hill in 1:56.1 with 26.4 on the end. He's a Somebeach from Rita J owned by Alagna, Alber and Waxman, an $80,000 but at Harrisburg.   Racing tonight at 7:15 with the third edition of the Cameltonian headlining the card.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands  

Two-year-olds at Sunshine Meadows are ready for their next step in their advancing careers. This time of year we focus on those that caught our attention throughout spring training and will seek to pick a top 10 (for evaluation in December) after another review trip. Here we go for recap #1: #24 A Schocker (2ct Andover Hall-Stretch The Limit-Tom Ridge) - Charles Sylvester. Second foal of dam and first by Andover Hall. #127 Morcredit Blue Chip (2ct Credit Winner-Queen Of The Moor-Malabar Man) - Charles Sylvester. Full brother to Maud Blue Chip (2, 1:58s, $222,203 in 2013), a returning three year-old performer for 2014 stakes that qualified last weekend. #77 Feel Lucky (2ct Lucky Chucky-Classic N Lindy-Dream Vacation) - Charles Sylvester. Fourth foal of the dam, she a daughter of Classic Casette by Florida Pro. Dam is 100% producer from the first three foals (all geldings) including Super Classic 3,2:00.1h ($91,303), Lindy's Best Yet 4,1:56.1f ($85,904) and Lindor 4,1:56.3f ($21,882) He looks like a prospect! #145 Talbot Hercules (2ct Muscles Yankee-Northern Flare-Andover Hall) - Charles Sylvester. First foal of the mare she with record 4,1:58.1f ($69,161) and daughter of Flame Tamer by Super Pleasure. #3 Madrid (2ct Credit Winner-Starcelona-Muscles Yankee) -Paul Kelley. First foal of Starcelona (2, 1:55.1, $44,750). Solid trainee from Paul Kelley's well-bred trotting collection. #23 Aldebaran Eagle (2ct Muscle Hill-Letsjusttalkaboutme) - Jonas Czernyson. Third foal of dam with 4, 1:56.1s mark and $56,338 earned. Her 2011 foal, Walk The Walk, by Muscle Hill just earned a qualifying record of 3, q1:57.2. #33 Keystone Bodacious (2ct Muscle Massive-Balanced Action-Balanced Image) - Jonas Czernyson. Half-brother to three $100,000 plus winners including Logan's Hero (6,1:54.2s, $379,425), Manningly (4,1:52.3f, $344,631) and Keystone Bernard (3,1:55.3f, $213,441). Grand looking individual. #48 Total Darkness (2ct Muscles Yankee-Leila-Andover Hall) - Jonas Czernyson. Third foal of unraced daughter of CR Royal Jeannie. #45 Stirling Diva (2ft Muscle Massive-Shan Riches) - Jonas Czernyson. Half-sister to Ellen's Isle (4, 1:53,2f, $264,080) and Loch Katrine (5, 1:56.1f, $214,953). #50 Walk Over Water (2ft Yankee Glide-Armbro Niagara) - Jonas Czernyson. Full-sister to Falls For You (4, 1:52.2, $1,311,152). 8 Total Darkness, 45 Stirling Diva, 50 Walk Over Water Itsabouttimebaby (2ct Muscle Hill-KD Girl-Self Possessed) - Ron Gurfein Stable. First foal of stakes winning dam with record 4,q1:55.3f ($297,989), she from True Love by Pine Chip. This one has trained well all spring - impressive. Very Much So (2ft Donato Hanover-Bedswerver-SJ's Photo) - Fred Grant. Half-sister to Marat (3, 1:56.2f, $59,621) #5 Iron (2ct Cantab Hall-Ivory Lindy-Buvetier d'Aunou) - Lindy Farms. Full-brother to Lindy's Jersey Boy (4, 1:52.4f, $268,247) from a franco-american dam. #4 Mesmerized (2ct Cantab Hall-Gift Card-Credit Winner) - Lindy Farms. Second foal of multiple NYSS and final winner Gift Card (2, 1:55.2, $253,733), she a sister to World Champion and million-dollar plus winner Crazed. Interested owners and visitors have been attentive to the action, and their investments, throughout spring. The Sunshine Meadows three year-olds and up continue to progress as well, including Sylvester's Spider Blue Chip and Toss Cartwright. Many of the two year-olds are now at 2:20 or below - we expect the favorites might change again as they move north to approach qualifying tests. Dreams sometimes come true. Spider Blue Chip (outside), Toss Cartwright (inside) for the Sylvester Stable. Toss Cartwight 2,1:57f ($46,749) by Muscles Yankee-Toss Up-Supergill, Toss Up the dam of six winners in 1:57 or better including Tawesome 3,1:53.3 ($103,120) by Thomas H. Hicks

We are visiting today with three time harness racing trainer of the year Jimmy Takter.   This past year Jimmy had three Breeders Crown winners, Father Patrick ( two-year old colt trotter), Shake It Cerry ( two-year old filly trotter), and Ulffizi Hanover ( two-year old filly pacer). His past accomplishments include more than 70 million in earnings and more than 1,200 victories for his stable. He has won the Hambletonian twice, with Muscle Massive and Malabar Man, and trained back-to back Horse of the Year Moni Maker. We caught up with him as he got off the training track at his impressive farm in East Windsor, New Jersey.   One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy.   HLINK: Tell us about your impressive farm and training facility in East Windsor, New Jersey and what you are focusing on at this time of the year.   JT: Right now I am concentrating on the babies we just recently bought. We have 70 horses and of those are 40 new babies. We have over 100 acres, a 5/8 mile track, a 3/4 mile straight track, and a 2 mile jogging track.   HLINK: You had an incredible year of racing. What are your thoughts on this past year of racing?   JT: It was a very good year with close to 8 million. I didn't have those three olds that I had the year before. I was actually aiming for around 6 million, so doing 8 million was very good.   HLINK: You had two Breeders Crown winning trotters in Shake It Cerry and Father Patrick. Ron Pierce has said that Shake It Cerry is the best two-year- old filly trotter he has ever driven. How good was she this year? What are your plans for her next year?   JT: She had a fantastic year. She is one of a kind. She had one bad start in Indiana. She trotted 1:51 and a piece at Pocono. This year was one of the best group of two-year-old trotting fillies I have ever seen. She is just a top horse. I have to see the stakes schedule when it comes out. I will schedule her for all the big races.   HLINK: Would you race her against the boys in the Hambo?   JT: I don't thinks so. If it is a shallow group of three year olds, which I don't think it will be. Then it is a possibility, but probably not.   HLINK: Your two-year-old trotter, Father Patrick, destroyed the competition this year. Yannick Gingras said " He can go so fast it's scary". He will be the early favorite for the Hambletonian. Give us the lowdown on Father Patrick.   JT: He had a perfect season. He is one of the most gifted horses I have ever been around. He is the best two-year-old I have ever had. He is one of the better two-year-olds I ever seen in the 30 years I have been here. He is very consistent and has a flawless gait. He has been a very sound horse, which is a big plus. I am going to lay out the right schedule for him. The goal is to win the Hambletonian.   HLINK: Let's talk about your two outstanding two-year-old fillies in Uffizi Hanover and Ali Blue.   JT: Ali Blue has been a horse that has been hampered by bad posts and bad luck all year. When she had a good post as in her last race,she came up in bad form and finished third. She had a good year. She can step it up and compete at the highest level next year and be a top horse. Uffizi was coming on at the end of the year. She was sitting on top of a top performance. It was a surprise to me that she won the Breeders Crown. I am excited about her. She can compete at the highest level next year.   HLINK: You had both Guccio and Uncle Peter in the ultra competitive older trot division. You have stated that Uncle Peter is a notch better than Guccio.   JT: They established themselves very well in the age group. I think both of those horses will have a chance to step it up next year. Uncle Peter is a little bit more handy. You can use him a little more at the start and get better position. That is the big difference. Guccio has to depend upon what kind of pace it is. Things like that make it a handicap for him.   HLINK: Trixton was the highest priced trotting yearling sold at auction last year at $360,000. He had an up and down year. How do you see his development?   JT: I think he is going to do quite well. He was battling some issues all year. We finally found out he had a hairline fracture of the sesamoid. We took care of that. I think he is going to be good to go next year and be a contender for all the big races.   HLINK: Rockin Amedeus had a bit of a disappointing year after winning the Breeders Crown as a two-year-old. What happened with him this year? Will he be shut down and race again next year?   JT: It looks like he might end up as a stallion in Ohio next year   HLINK: You were very active at both the Harrisburg and Lexington sales. You had the sales topper at Lexington in Custom Fit for a high bid of $475,000. He is the full brother to Father Patrick and Pastor Stephen. Were you surprised by how high the bidding got?   JT: The horse was a absolutely gorgeous horse. I was actually afraid that I might have to go higher than that. The same group of people that own Father Patrick wanted this horse. I am so glad I got him and he is a very nice colt.   HLINK: At Harrisburg you bought Canepa Hanover for $300,000. He is the half brother to Breeders Crown winner Glidemaster.   JT: He is also a very nice colt. I am also so happy to get him. He is a beautiful horse with a great gait. He shows a lot of promise at this point.   HLINK: Tell us about some of your other purchases.   JT: It is so early to tell which horses will be really good. They have been just jogging a little bit. I am so pleased with the purchases. This is the best group of purchased horses that I have ever had. This is a group of great potential horses, especially the two -year- old trotting colts. They are very, very, strong this year. There is one horse that I did not pay that much for that is out of a Costa Rica sister. I really like this horse that I bought at Harrisburg. I though he would go much higher. I got him for a reasonable amount. I think his name is Murray Hanover. MY wife is in charge of naming the horses.   HLINK: What are your impressions of the new Meadowlands and how it will help racing?   JT: I am really pleased with the job they done. It looks like they have all the material. Now we just gotta bring the crowd there and let them start betting. There is a whole process they have to go thru. They have to teach people to start getting exciting about going to the races again. They have plenty of new bars, restaurants, and entertainment. They have to keep it up. Hopefully the people will come back. We have to take care of the customers who come to the races. We can't just expect them to show up.   HLINK: The industry is putting a little more emphasis on racing horses as they get a little older. The Meadowlands has just added a $ 400,000 type Hambletonian trot for 4-year-old male trotters. What are your thoughts on this trend?   JT: You see great horses like Captaintreacherous. He had two very tough seasons. I think horses only have so many good miles in them. If you are racing a horse as hard as we do as a two-year-old and then again as a three-year-old, it is tough. Forcing people to continue racing as a four-year old, I am against that. That is no guarantee how good Captaintreacherous will come back. Those people should have to right to stand him at stud if they choose to. You take a horse like Heston Blue Chip who only made $80,000 this year. That is a sign that it is very difficult to establish themselves as a 4-year-old. Unless they are going to have a strictly 4-Year- old races for these horses and I don't think the industry can afford it. We were very fortunate with Guccio, Uncle Peter and Market Share as there was a generation change for those aged horses. Thrond's horse was basically the only one that was left. There was a bunch of beat up trotters. Those horses came in very nice. It is tough for the pacers. I think you take a 3 year-old pacer that is turning 4 and they are going to have a helluva time facing this competition.   HLINK: The racing in Ohio is going to be a big factor in the future with the opening of all the Racinos. How do you see your participation in Ohio racing?   JT: I think it is a big possibility. They are starting to accumulate some stallions now.. They need to upgrade the breeding material. They will get it done. The purses will eventually climb up. Hopefully they will get it close to Pennsylvania, which would be great. When the money comes a stable like us will show up. I haven't purchased any Ohio breds yet.   HLINK: You have some great owners in John Fielding, Marvin Katz, the Solveigs Group, and others. Tell us about your relationship with your owners.   JT: The owners I have now are the best in the sport. I don't have one single bad owner. It is just a pleasure to work for them. They are very understanding and have been in the game a long time. They know it is bad days and good days. They are all good friends of mine. I have a very good group of people behind me.   HLINK: Your wife Christina is also a owner for you. Is she tough on you?   JT: No she is not really. She is my biggest supporter. She handles everything in the operation and billing. She makes sure everybody is paid and is running the show. She has a tough job actually.   HLINK: How do you decide which drivers to put on your horses? You have used many including Tim Tetrick, David Miller, Ron Pierce, Yannick Gingras and others. You also at times drive yourself.   JT: I make all the calls. I never let the owners get involved with that. I know all my horses and all the players. I try to find the most suitable driver for that horse. But sometimes I have a horse that is a little bit green. I know my horses better than those guys. I am a half decent driver and when they are established and are ready for them to play with, I can turn them over to these guys.   HLINK: You have had success with the trotters and pacers.. Who do you think is easier to train?   JT: The pacers are maybe a little bit easier game. The pacers are a little more sensitive. You have to play more mental game with the pacers. You have to make sure they don't get crushed too early. Pacers can get crushed early easier than a trotter does.   HLINK: You have won most every stakes race, Hambo, Breeders Crown, Elitelope, etc. What races have you not won that you have your eye on?   JT: All these big races are nice to win. There are a couple of them left to win. The North American Cup and the Meadowlands Pace I have been second in. They are basically the only two big races I have not won. Of course I am much more supportive in the trotting industry. I have better bred trotters than pacers. Sooner or later I will grab those races in the future.   HLINK: It is a little slower time of the year in harness racing. Are you planning a break or some vacation time?   JT: We have not made any plans yet. Most likely we will try to get away somewhere. I will look at the weather. When it look like it is going to change we will get away for a few days.   By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com                        

For a small breeder, having one foal make the Breeders Crown final is exciting.   Paul “Pete” Spears’ Windsong Stables came to prominence in 2004 when Windsongs Legacy captured the Triple Crown of trotting for trainer Trond Smedshammer.   The Windsong name will be in focus on Saturday night with two foals from the late Bax Machine figuring prominently in both the $250,000 Crown Mare Trot and the $500,000 Crown 3-year-old filly trot.   “I recall we purchased Bax Machine in 2001 at the Harrisburg Sale,” said Spears. “She was in foal to Muscles Yankee and I think we paid either $18,000 or $19,000.”   While the daughter of Earl seemed to have a nondescript pedigree, Spears actually favors that approach.   “I especially like to purchase hard-hitting mares that race in Canada,” Spears said. “It really doesn’t matter to me what the sires name is.”   Diversity has been the watchword at Windsong and it has helped cultivate a brand that continues to perform at a high level.   Bax Machine has been a model of consistency no matter what cross Spears chose for her. With 10 foals on the racetrack, Bax Machine was the proverbial sure thing in the breeding shed.   “It doesn’t show up on the USTA site, but her 2005 foal by S Js Caviar (Bring Me Back) was a top colt in Sweden,” said Spears.   What does show up under her pedigree is an extraordinary array of talented trotters from diverse stallion pairings.   Her first colt by Muscles Yankee, named Q Forty Five, was exported and raced well overseas. She was then bred to Angus Hall, Dream Vacation, S Js Caviar, Broadway Hall, Cantab Hall, Windsongs Legacy, Kadabra and Credit Winner.   On Saturday night Bax Of Life, the true Windsong-bred mare—being a daughter of Windsongs Legacy and Bax Machine—appears to have the best chance of success.   The 5-year-old mare, trained by Jerry Duford and driven by John Campbell landed post three fresh off an impressive 1:52.4 victory in last week’s Crown elimination. The gritty mare has improved with age, earning more than $300,000 over the last two years, a far cry from the just under $90,000 she banked as a 2- and 3-year-old combined.   Trainer Jim Raymer entered Bouncing Bax in the Crown because he believed the daughter of Credit Winner deserved a chance. She entered last week’s Crown eliminations on the strength of a five-race winning streak that included the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final at Yonkers. Though that streak ended with a fifth place finish in her Breeders Crown elimination, driver Howard Parker seemed undeterred.   “I thought she raced very well,” said Parker. “She got a little fumbly on the final turn and I had to steady her. She’ll race better next week.”   The New York Sire Stakes program has helped Bouncing Bax earn $367,713 in her first two years of racing.   “She’s very good gaited and she’s very comfortable on the half-mile track,” said Raymer. “I think she’ll be a little better next year.”   While Bax Machine has yet to produce a world champion, she’s given more to the sport in the longevity her foals have had on the racetrack. Just look at Never Bax Down, her second foal by Ontario-sire Angus Hall who raced 180 times between 2007 and 2011.   Baximum, Bax Machine’s 2007 foal by Cantab Hall, was a Grand Circuit winner as a 2- and 3-year-old and is approaching $400,000 in career earnings.   The saga for owner Spears came to an end last year when Bax Machine was injured prior to foaling her Muscle Massive-sired colt.   “She foaled on three legs,” said Spears. “Mares generally don’t get better after that.”   Bax Machine did her motherly duty and nursed her foal until the youngster was weaned some three months later.   “We could have done a procedure on her,” said Spears, “But it was risky with no guarantee of success.”   Bax Machine ultimately was humanely put down and her final foal—Fighting Bax—goes on the auction block Nov. 4 at the Standardbred Horse Sale at Harrisburg.   Spears says he’s had fun naming the foals of Bax Machine, who was named as a tribute to Ontario horseman John Bax, who trained the $2.1 millionaire Goodtimes.   Spears is grateful for the success of Windsong Stable mares, having had the good fortune to do well with mares others cast aside. He’s bred a diverse group to a wide range of stallions and come up with solid stakes trotters. Triple Crown winner Windsongs Legacy’s dam Yankee Windsong died prematurely after her champion was born. Bax Machine’s greatest accomplishment, producing two exceptional Breeders Crown finalists, comes a year after her passing.   On the positive side, the bloodlines of Windsongs Legacy and Bax Machine will be around for some time, especially if two of Windsongs Legacy’s more famous sons —Chapter Seven and Lucky Chucky—turn out to be successful in the breeding shed. Win, lose or draw, Windsong Stables has carved out quite a niche on the trotting breed.   By Jay Bergman for the Breeders Crown  

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