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MANALAPAN, NJ - August 30, 2014 - Nubble Light took advantage of a second-over trip, swept four-wide in the stretch and drew off to a one-length victory in the $7,000 opening leg of New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at Freehold Raceway. The gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover, driven by Steve Smith and trained by Deleston Cote, covered the third-race mile in 1:56.3, putting away Earthshaker [Rocknroll Hanover]. It was two lengths back to third-place Sassy Hanover [Cam's Card Shark], who cut the fractions. Nubble Light picked up his fourth win with one second and three thirds from 15 starts in 2014, pushing his earnings to $20,729 for the year and $37,429 lifetime. He is owned by Cote, Henry Faragalli III, Trevor Johnson and Jeffrey Ruben. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - August 28, 2014 - Mountain Top drew off to a length and three-quarter victory, besting a trio of Ray Schnittker trainees in the $7,000 first leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, the third race and opening day feature at Freehold Raceway on Thursday. Schnittker's odds-on entry finished second [Broken Record], third [Switchblade Hall] and fourth [Cruzinwith muscles] in the field of seven. There was no show wagering. Mountain Top [$6.40, $2.20], trained and driven by Francisco Del Cid, benefited from a two-hole trip behind Broken Record, tipping out and going by in the stretch for the victory in 2:02.2. The son of Muscle Hill [all the other starters were by Muscles Yankee] posted his first win in his eighth career start. Unraced at two, the trotter has now banked $21,220 for owner Mario Mazza of Newton, PA. The first foal of Diana Hall was a $45,000 Harrisburg Yearling Sale purchase. By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - August 27, 2014 - Trainer Ray Schnittker will send out a trio of Muscles Yankee colts in the first round of New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres Division action when Freehold Raceway re-opens for its 2014 Summer/Fall Meet on Thursday, August 28. The 48-day meet [August 28 through December 13] will occupy Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays each week along with a special Labor Day card on Monday, September 1. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Seven New Jersey-sired two-year-old trotting colts and geldings are scheduled to go postward in the $7,000 first leg of the Green Acres, the third of 10 races, with the Schnittker entry of Switchblade Hall, Cruizinwithmuscles and Broken Record installed as the 1-5 morning line favorite by the newly adopted TrackMaster automated morning line. Broken Record, leaving fro post six with Steve Smith in the sulky, has two wins and three thirds from six starts and earnings of $41,763 for the ownership of Schnittker and Ted Gewertz. He finished third in his last start, the Tompkins at Tioga Downs. Harry Landy will handle Switchblade Hall from post three while Pat Berry has the assignment behind Cruizinwithmuscles from post four. The other starters are Firestop [Muscles Yankee] from the rail with Eric Abbatiello driving at 12-1; Wolfpack Muscle [Muscles Yankee] with David Pinkney Jr. at 25-1 from post two; the Francisco Del Cid trained and driven Mountain Top [Muscle Hill], the 5-2 second choice from post five and Muscle Night [Muscles Yankee] with Jim Marshall III from post seven at 25-1. A free t-shirt will be distributed with a paid Freehold live racing program [while supplies last] on Thursday, August 28. With six in the box, there will be no eliminations on Friday of this week and all the three-year-old filly trotters entered will advance to the $40,000 Helen Smith Trot on Friday, September 5, 2014. The field includes Cee Bee Yes [Muscles Yankee], Celebrity Fantasy [Muscles Yankee], Mistressswithmuscle [Muscle Hill], She Likes Candy [Chocolatier], Yoga [Muscles Yankee] and You And I [Muscles Yankee]. The Julie Miller trained Cee Bee Yes has banked more than $273,000 for Jason and Douglas Allen of Vincentown, NJ, with six wins, five seconds and two thirds from 19 career starts. This year, she has two wins and two seconds in eight starts. She captured the $33,075 Lady Suffolk at Freehold on May 2 and was second in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final at the Meadowlands on May 31. She qualified for the Hambletonian Oaks but broke at the start of the final and finished last. Labor Day is also Back to the Track, a cooperative effort by the United States Trotting Association, its member racetracks, and horsemen from coast-to-coast that combines exciting harness racing and fan-friendly promotions. Freehold's Labor Day festivities include a free Back to the Track cap with paid Freehold live program [while supplies last], 50-cent hot dogs, 50-cent sodas, drawings for a season's parking pass and Back to the Track t-shirts. Additionally, there will be a drivers' autograph session. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

A quartet of Kindergarten Classic events headline this Sunday (August 24) afternoon's card at Tioga Downs.   Freshman trotting fillies contest races 8 and 10 on the 13-race card, with the latter division attracting Tompkins winner Allerage Star (post 2) and Merrie Annabelle winner Mission Brief (post 6). Four-time winner Mission Brief has amassed quite a resume already, taking the New Jersey Sire Stakes and Merrie Annabelle finals both in dominant front-end fashion, taking a mark of 1:52.2 with Yannick Gingras in the bike.   Gingras is once again listed to drive the daughter of Muscle Hill for trainer Ron Burke. Allerage Star, the other multiple stakes winner in the field, drew off to a four-length win in her Tompkins division last week, taking a mark of 1:55.4 in rein to Corey Callahan. Her other victory came in a Kindergarten division at the Meadowlands, holding off Dynamite Dame for a 1:57.2 win. Scott Zeron has been nominated to handle the driving duties by trainer Jessica Okusko.   The first division for fillies, carded as race 8, features George Ducharme trainee Bee the Queen (Donato Hanover), who was a chasing fourth in her prior Kindergarten effort at the Meadowlands, turning in a 1:55.4 effort. With two of her seven rivals making their career debuts, she looks to be the filly to beat.   Two-year-old trotting colts and geldings contest races 4 and 6 , with the stakes-placed Wheels Ah Smokin a top contender in the first division. The Chuck Sylvester-trained son of Muscles Yankee most recently finished third in his Tompkins division at Tioga, and was fourth to Habitat in a prior Kindergarten Classic division at the Meadowlands. Ron Pierce has been nominated to drive Wheels Ah Smokin, who starts from post 5.   The field also drew Jimmy Takter trainee Falk On Hill S (post 4), who looks to rebound from a break in his Kindergarten split at the Meadowlands earlier in the month.   Takter sends Kindergarten winner French Laundry in the second Kindergarten division, kicking clear to an impressive 1:55.3 Meadowlands win earlier in the month. Usual driver Yannick Gingras is nominated to drive the two-time winner, and they start from post 4. Among French Laundry's six rivals is Party On the River (post 7), a Kadabra colt who took his 1:58.3 mark in an Ontario Sire Stakes event. Mark MacDonald is listed to drive for trainer Patti Harmon.   Due to the Cane Pace drawing only eight entries, they will head directly to the $437,325 final on Labor Day (Monday, September 1). Meadowlands Pace and Empire Breeders Classic winner He's Watching leads the octet, along with North America Cup and Geers winner JK Endofanera. The pair will be joined by Beat The Drum, Bushwacker, Doo Wop Hanover, Luck Be Withyou, Lyonssomewhere and Stevensville.   Sunday afternoon's card at Tioga is slated for a 1:30 p.m. EDT post time.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

MANALAPAN, NJ - August 21, 2014 - When Freehold Raceway re-opens for its 2014 Summer/Fall Meet on Thursday, August 28, there will be a return to condition racing and the introduction of automated morning lines. "In a mutual agreement with the SBOA [Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey], we are returning to conditioned races when we re-open August 28," said Freehold's General Manager Howard Bruno. "We had some success with the ABC classified system, however, the seasonal fluctuations in horse supply made it difficult to maximize its potential." The 48-day meet [August 28 through December 13] will occupy Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays each week along with a special Labor Day card on Monday, September 1. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Overnight purses will average $40,000 daily, according to Bruno. Automated morning lines, generated by TrackMaster, will debut this meet. "Several other tracks have begun using the system and the feedback has been positive," said Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Karen Fagliarone. "We feel the automation will lead to increased accuracy and be more timely than our current system." Opening weekend includes stakes action, an opening day t-shirt giveaway, and, on Labor Day, discounted food items, autograph session and a cap giveaway. The free t-shirt will be distributed with a paid Freehold live racing program [while supplies last] on Thursday, August 28. The opening day feature is the first round of New Jersey Sire Stakes Green Acres for two-year-old trotting colts. Friday, August 29 spotlights eliminations, if needed, for the Helen Smith Trot for three-year-old fillies which has a $55,000 estimated final on September 5. Saturday, August 30 will showcase three-year-old pacing colts in Green Acres action. Two-year-old pacers, both colts and fillies, face off in opening round Green Acres on Labor Day, September 1. Labor Day is also Back to the Track, a cooperative effort by the United States Trotting Association, its member racetracks, and horsemen from coast-to-coast that combines exciting harness racing and fan-friendly promotions. Freehold's Labor Day festivities include a free Back to the Track cap with paid Freehold live program [while supplies last], 50-cent hot dogs, 50-cent sodas, drawings for a season's parking pass and Back to the Track t-shirts. Additionally, there will be a drivers' autograph session. Saturday, September 20 marks the Third Annual Open Space Pace, which starts with a morning parade of horses on Main Street in Freehold Borough, ending at Freehold Raceway where additional events will be staged, including celebrity amateur races, demonstrations, educational exhibits, great food, live harness racing, family fun activities, petting zoo, a concert and fireworks. In addition to the Green Acres stakes for New Jersey-sired two and three-year-olds, the fall schedule includes the Lou Babic Paces [September 27] and the SBOANJ-sponsored Marion Dancer Trot [September 4], Helen Smith Trot [September 5], Charles Smith Trot [September 12], Harold Dancer Trot [September 25] and New Jersey Futurities [September 6, October 10, October 16 and October 25]. Qualifiers are on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. with declarations due the prior day at 10 a.m. Fourteen baby races and qualifiers are carded for Thursday, August 21. The opening week draw schedule: Thursday, August 28 - Draw on Monday, August 25 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] Friday, August 29 - Draw on Tuesday, August 26 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] Saturday, August 30 - Draw on Wednesday, August 27 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] Monday, September 1 [Labor Day] - Draw on Thursday, August 28 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] The remainder of meet will follow Freehold's traditional draw schedule of Saturday for Thursday, Tuesday for Friday and Wednesday for Saturday. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - August 21, 2014 - When Freehold Raceway re-opens for its 2014 Summer/Fall Meet on Thursday, August 28, there will be a return to condition racing and the introduction of automated morning lines. "In a mutual agreement with the SBOA [Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey], we are returning to conditioned races when we re-open August 28," said Freehold's General Manager Howard Bruno. "We had some success with the ABC classified system, however, the seasonal fluctuations in horse supply made it difficult to maximize its potential." The 48-day meet [August 28 through December 13] will occupy Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays each week along with a special Labor Day card on Monday, September 1. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Overnight purses will average $40,000 daily, according to Bruno. Automated morning lines, generated by TrackMaster, will debut this meet. "Several other tracks have begun using the system and the feedback has been positive," said Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Karen Fagliarone. "We feel the automation will lead to increased accuracy and be more timely than our current system." Opening weekend includes stakes action, an opening day t-shirt giveaway, and, on Labor Day, discounted food items, autograph session and a cap giveaway. The free t-shirt will be distributed with a paid Freehold live racing program [while supplies last] on Thursday, August 28. The opening day feature is the first round of New Jersey Sire Stakes Green Acres for two-year-old trotting colts. Friday, August 29 spotlights eliminations, if needed, for the Helen Smith Trot for three-year-old fillies which has a $55,000 estimated final on September 5. Saturday, August 30 will showcase three-year-old pacing colts in Green Acres action. Two-year-old pacers, both colts and fillies, face off in opening round Green Acres on Labor Day, September 1. Labor Day is also Back to the Track, a cooperative effort by the United States Trotting Association, its member racetracks, and horsemen from coast-to-coast that combines exciting harness racing and fan-friendly promotions. Freehold's Labor Day festivities include a free Back to the Track cap with paid Freehold live program [while supplies last], 50-cent hot dogs, 50-cent sodas, drawings for a season's parking pass and Back to the Track t-shirts. Additionally, there will be a drivers' autograph session. Saturday, September 20 marks the Third Annual Open Space Pace, which starts with a morning parade of horses on Main Street in Freehold Borough, ending at Freehold Raceway where additional events will be staged, including celebrity amateur races, demonstrations, educational exhibits, great food, live harness racing, family fun activities, petting zoo, a concert and fireworks. In addition to the Green Acres stakes for New Jersey-sired two and three-year-olds, the fall schedule includes the Lou Babic Paces [September 27] and the SBOANJ-sponsored Marion Dancer Trot [September 4], Helen Smith Trot [September 5], Charles Smith Trot [September 12], Harold Dancer Trot [September 25] and New Jersey Futurities [September 6, October 10, October 16 and October 25]. Qualifiers are on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. with declarations due the prior day at 10 a.m. Fourteen baby races and qualifiers are carded for Thursday, August 21. The opening week draw schedule: Thursday, August 28 - Draw on Monday, August 25 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] Friday, August 29 - Draw on Tuesday, August 26 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] Saturday, August 30 - Draw on Wednesday, August 27 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] Monday, September 1 [Labor Day] - Draw on Thursday, August 28 [Declare in by 9 a.m.] The remainder of meet will follow Freehold's traditional draw schedule of Saturday for Thursday, Tuesday for Friday and Wednesday for Saturday. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

The New Jersey Sire Stakes will open its 2014 Green Acres racing season at Freehold Raceway on Thursday, August 28 with the opening round of competition for two-year-old colt trotters. The draw for the race will be held on Monday, August 25 with the entry box closing at 9am on that date. Green Acres racing will once again offer purses of $7,000 for each leg with the top eight point earners among the three qualifying legs in each division qualifying for the $25,000 finals. Entry fees remain $150 for each leg and $500 for horses that wish to race in the finals. The Green Acres Division will look to build off of the successful year of Premier Division racing at The Meadowlands in which three new records were established and yet another record equaled. More than $1.5 million was distributed in purse money during the Premier Division races while the average purse for each leg increased by 18% over 2013 levels. The Green Acres Division will be placed on hiatus effective for the foal crop of 2014. Its place will be taken by the newly legislated New Jersey Standardbred Development Fund. The Standardbred Development Fund will be open to all of the traditional New Jersey-sired horses as well as horses whose dams spend a minimum of 150 days in-state, inclusive of foaling, regardless of where the stallion may stand. This year, 221 "resident mares" were nominated to the program and they were in foal to many of the top sires in the country. Standardbred Development Fund races will begin for two-year-olds in 2016 and will be run that year in conjunction with the Green Acres program for three-year-olds. A full slate of Standardbred Development Fund races for all ages will be contested starting in 2017 Also on the horizon, the Meadowlands, together with the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, will be implementing a bonus program for several of its overnight races for New Jersey-sired horses beginning with racing on December 5, 2014. Effective on that date, races meeting the condition of non-winners of one, two, three or four pari-mutuel races will carry a 60 percent bonus to the purse for New Jersey-sired horses. The bonus program encompasses both sexes and gaits. by Christopher Castens, for the NJSS      

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak. His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too. "Win or lose, I'd always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him," Gingras said. "He's a great horse. He's provided me with great thrills so far, and I'm sure there are plenty more to come. "I'm looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is." Father Patrick's return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 - the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack - and went off stride at the start. The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky. "I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before," Gingras said after the race. "I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance. But he never will." Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat. "It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed," Gingras said. "When you focus on a race for so long, that's what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven't won one yet. That day had it all - the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he's accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn't feel like celebrating. "I do still think about it. It's a race I'll always want to take back, but you've got to live with it now at this point." Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian. "They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good," Gingras said about Father Patrick. "That was to be expected. There's nothing wrong with him, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday." The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter's daughter, Nancy Johansson. Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga. The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover. Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes. "There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that's for sure," Gingras said. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak. His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too. "Win or lose, I'd always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him," Gingras said. "He's a great horse. He's provided me with great thrills so far, and I'm sure there are plenty more to come. "I'm looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is." Father Patrick's return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 - the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack - and went off stride at the start. The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky. "I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before," Gingras said after the race. "I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance. But he never will." Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat. "It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed," Gingras said. "When you focus on a race for so long, that's what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven't won one yet. That day had it all - the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he's accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn't feel like celebrating. "I do still think about it. It's a race I'll always want to take back, but you've got to live with it now at this point." Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian. "They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good," Gingras said about Father Patrick. "That was to be expected. There's nothing wrong with him, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday." The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter's daughter, Nancy Johansson. Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga. The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover. Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes. "There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that's for sure," Gingras said. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 31, 2014 - If the pieces all fall into place, the connections of Western Vintage could be sipping champagne on Saturday. the son of Western Ideal is making his return to the races, after being sidelined since late June, in the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic, the fourth of 15 races on the Hambletonian Day program on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at the Meadowlands. The New Jersey Classic and its filly companion event, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for fillies, are restricted to New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers. Both events are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. In a well-balanced field, Western Vintage is rated the 5-2 second choice [Doo Wop Hanover is 9-5] and will leave from post two with Brian Sears at the lines. Last season, Western Vintage won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing colts and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. This all marked the bargain colt - he cost only $7,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale - as a potential divisional star at three. Health issues, however, detoured Western Vintage after four starts this spring. "We gave him a break after the Hempt [on June 21] for a couple of reasons," said Perry Soderberg, the colt's co-owner. "One, because he had some really tough races up to that point, and two, his blood work wasn't perfect so we needed some time to improve that. It is a long year and another year after this one, so we want to take care of the horse." Western Vintage opened his 2014 campaign with a New Jersey Sire Stakes win in 1:49.4 on May 17 at the Meadowlands and a week later was second to Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 final. Then it was on the road to Mohawk Raceway for the North America Cup elims [he finished fourth] and to Pocono for the Hempt [he was eighth]. Trainer Nancy Johansson qualified Western Vintage twice in July, including a 1:50.3 clocking and five and a half length victory on July 19 in the hands of new pilot Brian Sears. "Well, Yannick [Gingras, who previously drove the colt] has been great, but he has [Jimmy] Takter's and [Ron] Burke's horses to choose from down the road, and they have been better than mine so far this year," Soderberg explained. "I know Brian has JK Endofanera and other options as well, but I am thankful that he wants to drive him now. "All in all, I thought it was time to get the horse used to different drivers," he added. "He has been a bit tricky to drive, but he better get used to different drivers; that's how this business works." Swedish-born Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses since 1986, usually picks out yearlings for others, primarily trainer Jimmy Takter and his owners. But when no one wanted Western Vintage, he purchased the colt for himself for $7,000. Marvin Katz of Toronto bought an interest last October. With $53,890 earned this year, Western Vintage now has a bankroll of $370,728. "Western Vintage is coming in to this race in good shape," said Soderberg. "He qualified well, and I think he is the type of horse that can race good after a break." Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1 Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ  

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 31, 2014 - If the pieces all fall into place, the connections of Western Vintage could be sipping champagne on Saturday. the son of Western Ideal is making his return to the races, after being sidelined since late June, in the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic, the fourth of 15 races on the Hambletonian Day program on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at the Meadowlands. The New Jersey Classic and its filly companion event, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for fillies, are restricted to New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers. Both events are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. In a well-balanced field, Western Vintage is rated the 5-2 second choice [Doo Wop Hanover is 9-5] and will leave from post two with Brian Sears at the lines. Last season, Western Vintage won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing colts and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. This all marked the bargain colt - he cost only $7,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale - as a potential divisional star at three. Health issues, however, detoured Western Vintage after four starts this spring. "We gave him a break after the Hempt [on June 21] for a couple of reasons," said Perry Soderberg, the colt's co-owner. "One, because he had some really tough races up to that point, and two, his blood work wasn't perfect so we needed some time to improve that. It is a long year and another year after this one, so we want to take care of the horse." Western Vintage opened his 2014 campaign with a New Jersey Sire Stakes win in 1:49.4 on May 17 at the Meadowlands and a week later was second to Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 final. Then it was on the road to Mohawk Raceway for the North America Cup elims [he finished fourth] and to Pocono for the Hempt [he was eighth]. Trainer Nancy Johansson qualified Western Vintage twice in July, including a 1:50.3 clocking and five and a half length victory on July 19 in the hands of new pilot Brian Sears. "Well, Yannick [Gingras, who previously drove the colt] has been great, but he has [Jimmy] Takter's and [Ron] Burke's horses to choose from down the road, and they have been better than mine so far this year," Soderberg explained. "I know Brian has JK Endofanera and other options as well, but I am thankful that he wants to drive him now. "All in all, I thought it was time to get the horse used to different drivers," he added. "He has been a bit tricky to drive, but he better get used to different drivers; that's how this business works." Swedish-born Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses since 1986, usually picks out yearlings for others, primarily trainer Jimmy Takter and his owners. But when no one wanted Western Vintage, he purchased the colt for himself for $7,000. Marvin Katz of Toronto bought an interest last October. With $53,890 earned this year, Western Vintage now has a bankroll of $370,728. "Western Vintage is coming in to this race in good shape," said Soderberg. "He qualified well, and I think he is the type of horse that can race good after a break." Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1 Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ  

Centurion ATM is the type of horse that seems ready to step up when it's time to race. The 2-year-old trotter didn't do much to impress trainer Ake Svanstedt before beginning his rookie campaign, but Svanstedt has been happy with the colt since he started going behind the gate. Last week, Centurion ATM won the single elimination for the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial by 3-1/2 lengths over Uncle Lasse in 1:54.2. It was Centurion ATM's first victory after second-place finishes in his first two races. "He's a racehorse," Svanstedt said. "He trained from the beginning and he was a normal horse until he qualified. Then he was something special. Before the qualifier, he did the job and was a nice and friendly horse, but he was nothing special. He loves to race." Centurion ATM will start the Haughton Memorial from post one, with Svanstedt handling the driving, as usual. The colt is 3-1 on the morning line, which makes him the third choice behind New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Guess Whos Back (2-1) and NJSS runner-up Canepa Hanover (5-2), who received byes to the final. The race is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Centurion ATM is a son of SJ's Caviar out of the mare ENS Tag Session. He was purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale and is a full brother to stakes-winner Triumphant Caviar. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting and Courant AB. "I hope he can do a good race," Svanstedt said. "If everything is normal, he can do a good race. I think he has potential. We'll see." Svanstedt, who was Sweden's Trainer of the Year five times and Driver of the Year on three occasions, will have nine horses racing on Saturday's card. "Absolutely, I'm looking forward to it," he said. In addition to Centurion ATM, he sends out Amicus in the Haughton plus Doncango in the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, Heaven's Door in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, Sebastian K and Your So Vain in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, Home Front and DD's Hitman in $50,000 divisions of the Townsend Ackerman for 3-year-old trotters, and Blixtra in the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey for 3-year-old female pacers. Sebastian K, the fastest trotter in harness racing history thanks to his 1:49 mile at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in June, is the 3-5 favorite in the Cashman Memorial. He has won six of seven races this year and is coming off a 3-1/4 length triumph over Mister Herbie in 1:51 in his Cashman elimination. "Everything was good in the last race," Svanstedt said. "And he loves the Meadowlands and the big track. He feels very good at the Meadowlands. He is a different horse at the Meadowlands." Sebastian K's only loss came by a nose to Intimidate in the Maple Leaf Trot on a sloppy track at Mohawk. "He didn't win in Canada, I think he left too fast and the track was very heavy," Svanstedt said. "We opened in :26.4 in the first quarter and that's too fast on that heavy a track, so he would be tired. He was tired, but he lost by just a nose, so he was good. He fought." Svanstedt did not plan to train Sebastian K during the week. "He is just going to go in the paddock every day for the whole day," Svanstedt said. "This is four weeks [of racing] in a row and he's never done that before. It's very different for him. But I'm not worried because he felt so good in the last race." Heaven's Door is the 9-2 third choice in the Hambletonian Oaks, behind world champion Designed To Be (2-1) and Delvin Miller Memorial winner Shake It Cerry (5-2). Heaven's Door has won two of five races this year, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly trotters, and finished second in the Miller. "There are tough horses in there, but I have a good horse too," Svanstedt said. "She has everything. She pulls a little, but she is getting better with that. Some races she pulls a lot and I cannot drive slowly. The one time [in a race in May] she galloped at the start because she is pulling so much. But she is getting better." Doncango, a 20-1 longshot in the Hambletonian, has only raced once this year - winning in 1:54 - after battling leg woes throughout the winter. "It's tough for him," Svanstedt said. "We had a lot of problems with him at the beginning. But he trained tough and feels good. He's trained three months without problems and feels sound. "If he can earn money, we'll be really happy." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Centurion ATM is the type of horse that seems ready to step up when it's time to race. The 2-year-old trotter didn't do much to impress trainer Ake Svanstedt before beginning his rookie campaign, but Svanstedt has been happy with the colt since he started going behind the gate. Last week, Centurion ATM won the single elimination for the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial by 3-1/2 lengths over Uncle Lasse in 1:54.2. It was Centurion ATM's first victory after second-place finishes in his first two races. "He's a racehorse," Svanstedt said. "He trained from the beginning and he was a normal horse until he qualified. Then he was something special. Before the qualifier, he did the job and was a nice and friendly horse, but he was nothing special. He loves to race." Centurion ATM will start the Haughton Memorial from post one, with Svanstedt handling the driving, as usual. The colt is 3-1 on the morning line, which makes him the third choice behind New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Guess Whos Back (2-1) and NJSS runner-up Canepa Hanover (5-2), who received byes to the final. The race is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Centurion ATM is a son of SJ's Caviar out of the mare ENS Tag Session. He was purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale and is a full brother to stakes-winner Triumphant Caviar. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting and Courant AB. "I hope he can do a good race," Svanstedt said. "If everything is normal, he can do a good race. I think he has potential. We'll see." Svanstedt, who was Sweden's Trainer of the Year five times and Driver of the Year on three occasions, will have nine horses racing on Saturday's card. "Absolutely, I'm looking forward to it," he said. In addition to Centurion ATM, he sends out Amicus in the Haughton plus Doncango in the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, Heaven's Door in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, Sebastian K and Your So Vain in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, Home Front and DD's Hitman in $50,000 divisions of the Townsend Ackerman for 3-year-old trotters, and Blixtra in the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey for 3-year-old female pacers. Sebastian K, the fastest trotter in harness racing history thanks to his 1:49 mile at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in June, is the 3-5 favorite in the Cashman Memorial. He has won six of seven races this year and is coming off a 3-1/4 length triumph over Mister Herbie in 1:51 in his Cashman elimination. "Everything was good in the last race," Svanstedt said. "And he loves the Meadowlands and the big track. He feels very good at the Meadowlands. He is a different horse at the Meadowlands." Sebastian K's only loss came by a nose to Intimidate in the Maple Leaf Trot on a sloppy track at Mohawk. "He didn't win in Canada, I think he left too fast and the track was very heavy," Svanstedt said. "We opened in :26.4 in the first quarter and that's too fast on that heavy a track, so he would be tired. He was tired, but he lost by just a nose, so he was good. He fought." Svanstedt did not plan to train Sebastian K during the week. "He is just going to go in the paddock every day for the whole day," Svanstedt said. "This is four weeks [of racing] in a row and he's never done that before. It's very different for him. But I'm not worried because he felt so good in the last race." Heaven's Door is the 9-2 third choice in the Hambletonian Oaks, behind world champion Designed To Be (2-1) and Delvin Miller Memorial winner Shake It Cerry (5-2). Heaven's Door has won two of five races this year, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly trotters, and finished second in the Miller. "There are tough horses in there, but I have a good horse too," Svanstedt said. "She has everything. She pulls a little, but she is getting better with that. Some races she pulls a lot and I cannot drive slowly. The one time [in a race in May] she galloped at the start because she is pulling so much. But she is getting better." Doncango, a 20-1 longshot in the Hambletonian, has only raced once this year - winning in 1:54 - after battling leg woes throughout the winter. "It's tough for him," Svanstedt said. "We had a lot of problems with him at the beginning. But he trained tough and feels good. He's trained three months without problems and feels sound. "If he can earn money, we'll be really happy." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Two years ago, Marcus Miller spent part of Hambletonian Day driving in harness races at the Logan County Fair in his native state of Illinois. Last year, he watched the Hambletonian Day card from his new home in Pennsylvania before heading to work that night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. This year, Hambletonian Day will have a different feel entirely. Miller will be part of the show. Miller is driving on Saturday's Hambletonian Day card at the Meadowlands Racetrack, with his top assignment coming behind Cee Bee Yes in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters. "I'm very excited," Miller said. "She's a really nice filly. She's the kind of filly that if things work out, she's got the talent to get there." In June, the 25-year-old Miller got career win No. 2,000. A few weeks later, Miller drove in his biggest race to date, the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace, and guided Jet Airway to a fifth-place finish for his father, trainer Erv Miller. "Hopefully one of these days I'll win a race like that," said Miller, who won multiple driving titles on the Chicago circuit before moving east in spring 2013, before adding with a grin, "Maybe it'll be this one. "I'm happy with this summer," he added. "Last year I was brand new out here and now I'm meeting people and I'm getting drives for good trainers and good owners that didn't even know me two years ago. I'm getting a lot more drives." Miller, who also will drive SS Poseidon for his father in Saturday's Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, got his first win in 2004 and won a career-best 501 races in 2011. His career high of $3.14 million in purses followed in 2012 and last year he missed a third consecutive $3 million-season by less than $50,000. This year, he has 108 wins and $1.70 million in purses. He guided Cee Bee Yes to victory in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second in the $100,000 championship. Miller and the filly finished fifth in last weekend's Hambletonian Oaks prep, beaten by two lengths. Cee Bee Yes (Muscles Yankee-Enbeecee) has won two of seven races this year and six of 18 in her career, with $268,182 in earnings. She was the 2013 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion. The filly is owned by Jason and Doug Allen. She is trained by Julie Miller, whose husband Andy is Erv Miller's brother and Marcus' uncle. "She was a little better [in the prep] than she was in her last start," Miller said. "Hopefully she can take one more step and if something crazy happens, I think we can be close." Cee Bee Yes is one of three fillies in the Hambletonian Oaks for Julie Miller. She also sends out world champion Designed To Be and stakes-winner Take The Money. "She's my sleeper," Julie said about Cee Bee Yes. "She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Two years ago, Marcus Miller spent part of Hambletonian Day driving in harness races at the Logan County Fair in his native state of Illinois. Last year, he watched the Hambletonian Day card from his new home in Pennsylvania before heading to work that night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. This year, Hambletonian Day will have a different feel entirely. Miller will be part of the show. Miller is driving on Saturday's Hambletonian Day card at the Meadowlands Racetrack, with his top assignment coming behind Cee Bee Yes in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters. "I'm very excited," Miller said. "She's a really nice filly. She's the kind of filly that if things work out, she's got the talent to get there." In June, the 25-year-old Miller got career win No. 2,000. A few weeks later, Miller drove in his biggest race to date, the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace, and guided Jet Airway to a fifth-place finish for his father, trainer Erv Miller. "Hopefully one of these days I'll win a race like that," said Miller, who won multiple driving titles on the Chicago circuit before moving east in spring 2013, before adding with a grin, "Maybe it'll be this one. "I'm happy with this summer," he added. "Last year I was brand new out here and now I'm meeting people and I'm getting drives for good trainers and good owners that didn't even know me two years ago. I'm getting a lot more drives." Miller, who also will drive SS Poseidon for his father in Saturday's Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, got his first win in 2004 and won a career-best 501 races in 2011. His career high of $3.14 million in purses followed in 2012 and last year he missed a third consecutive $3 million-season by less than $50,000. This year, he has 108 wins and $1.70 million in purses. He guided Cee Bee Yes to victory in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second in the $100,000 championship. Miller and the filly finished fifth in last weekend's Hambletonian Oaks prep, beaten by two lengths. Cee Bee Yes (Muscles Yankee-Enbeecee) has won two of seven races this year and six of 18 in her career, with $268,182 in earnings. She was the 2013 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion. The filly is owned by Jason and Doug Allen. She is trained by Julie Miller, whose husband Andy is Erv Miller's brother and Marcus' uncle. "She was a little better [in the prep] than she was in her last start," Miller said. "Hopefully she can take one more step and if something crazy happens, I think we can be close." Cee Bee Yes is one of three fillies in the Hambletonian Oaks for Julie Miller. She also sends out world champion Designed To Be and stakes-winner Take The Money. "She's my sleeper," Julie said about Cee Bee Yes. "She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

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  

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