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Doesn’t it seem like a disproportionate number of last year’s better horses are either missing in action or performing at a level far below that of 2014? I took a look at the top 25 on last year’s All-Horse earnings list, and wasn’t surprised at what I found: Just about every one of them is either not racing at all, for one reason or another, or they’re failing to meet expectations. Father Patrick topped the list in 2014 with more than $1.6 million on his card. He won 12 of his 17 starts, including the Breeders Crown and the CTC, and set a 1:50.2 world record for a sophomore trotter on a 5/8 track at Pocono Downs. This year he’s one and two, having dropped his last two starts to J L Cruze in legs of the Graduate Series. Division winner McWicked, who set a world record of 1:47.3 at Pocono and won the BC, Hempt and Adios, was second on the list, and he hasn’t started yet. Nuncio, who won the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot, is racing in Europe. Sweet Lou, the only pacer ever to win his division at two and five, has been retired to stud in Pennsylvania. Trotting mare Shake It Cerry, a division winner at two and three, who took the KY Filly Futurity and the Elegantimage last year, has lost four times in 7 tries. The Armbro Flight, Meadows Maturity and Miami Valley Distaff are a few of her high profile losses. Bee A Magician, who didn’t have the sort of four-year-old season many expected, is dominating that division in a big way. That’s the top five from last year; it’s not a pretty picture. North America Cup winner JK Endofanera has had a problem handling late bloomers Doo Wop Hanover and Rockeyed Optimist in the Graduate Series. He’s one and two on the season. Ron Burke’s All Bets Off, who took the Messenger, Milstein and Rooney in 2014, won the Confederation Cup and his elimination for that one, but he lost his other five starts, including the Van Rose and the Molson. Hambletonian winner Trixton has been retired to stud. The 2014 Horse of the Year, JK She’salady, has fallen off the earth. She kicked her season off with a win in the NYSS at Tioga, but subsequently lost her Fan Hanover elimination, and the final, as well as her Lynch elimination. She finished a washed out fifth in the latter and won’t be a part of Saturday’s final. And number ten from last year’s money list is the venerable aged pacer, Foiled Again. In 2014 He earned $863,000 on six wins and lots of board finishes. This year Foiled has one win—the Battle of Lake Erie—in seven starts. He was shut out in the Levy, which he owned for a few years. Obviously numbers six through ten are no better in 2015 than numbers one through five. He’s Watching occupies slot number eleven. The diminutive son of American Ideal achieved a share of the all-age record for the fastest race mile ever on a mile track—1:46.4—in the Pace. He hasn’t started yet. Oaks winner Lifetime Pursuit is also a no show. The speedy Always A Virgin pacer, Always B Miki, who won the Tattersalls Pace, Bluegrass and Monument Circle, in addition to cleaning up in the ISS, had a setback and is expected back by fall. Two-year-old division winner Artspeak won his elimination and final for the NJSS, as well as last week’s Hempt elimination. However, he finished second in his Cup elimination and fifth in the final. Burke’s FFA mainstay Bettor’s Edge, who banked $674,000 last year, winning the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, has one win in nine starts. He was eighth in his Franklin elimination. Number 16 Sebastian K, who set his 1:49 world record this time last year at Pocono, opens his season there on Saturday against new kid, J L Cruze. Harper Blue Chip? Intimidate looks awful. Last year’s MLT and TVG final winner is 0 for 3 in the Mohawk preferred. Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach has been no factor in the Confederation Cup and the Graduate series. P H Supercam, the only millionaire by Million Dollar Cam, didn’t win the Levy like he did last year, but he took four preliminary legs, and is in sync with last year’s numbers. So numbers 11 through 20 give us P H Supercam in line with what he did in 2014, while the rest either haven’t started or are disappointments. Mission Brief, number 21, took her elimination and final in the NJSS, but has been a project in qualifiers ever since. Market Share is 0 for 3—no factor in the Cutler or the Maxie Lee. Clear Vision is 0 for 12, while Commander Crowe, who won the Yonkers International preview, and took the BC in his last start, has been retired. No wonder the racing seems soft this year; one would expect that there would be a mix of horses that improve their performance, and some that stay the same and others that show a decline. Eight haven’t started at all while Nuncio is in Europe. Trixton and Sweet Lou have been retired; Miki and He’s Watching are dealing with physical issues; McWicked, Lifetime Pursuit and Harper Blue Chip are mysteries to me; Sebastian will get it on this week. The faltering superstars from 2014, Father Patrick, JK She’salady, Mission Brief and Shake It Cerry, create the most apprehension. We need them back on track. And the old reliable types like Foiled, Bettor’s Edge and Clear Vision are making way for new blood, but where is it. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for  http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

The Cleveland Trotting Classic, Northeast Ohio's newest premier race, will go to post Friday (July 3) at the harness racing meeting at Northfield Park. The Classic carries a $170,000 purse for its inaugural edition and has attracted some of the best veteran trotters in North America. The Grand Circuit race is the featured event of a stakes-laden program that offers total purses of $647,500. 1 - Count Me In Is one of two starters from the powerful barn of Ron Burke. Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, M1 Stable and Michelle Yanek, he has won 30 and been on the board in 64 of 95 career races. His lifetime mark is 1:53.3 (Mea 5/8) with a career bankroll of $427,919. The six year-old has already posted four wins this year and has been racing against the best trotters at Scioto Downs. Burke has named Josh Sutton to drive this 9-2 morning-line competitor.   2 - Obrigado The 2-1 morning line favorite, has the highest win percentage of any starter in this inaugural edition. He has been victorious in 31 of 51 career races, including a 21 race win streak earlier in his career. He has earnings of $421,164 and a 1:51.3 (M 1) mark in his most recent race in the $50,000 TVG Free-for-All Trot. The five year-old is owned by Paul Kelley, Linwood Higgens, William Weaver III and Stable 45. He is conditioned by Paul Kelley. Canadian native Mark MacDonald has been named to steer.   3 - DW's NY Yank Sports career earnings of $855,914. He has 103 lifetime starts and 37 career victories. He is a six year-old son of Dilbert Hanover with a lifetime mark of 1:51.3 (PcD 5/8). DW's NY Yank, one of two entrants in this field by trainer Ron Burke, is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. He has won five of 13 starts this year and has been made the 7-2 second favorite. Chris Page has been given the driving assignment.   4 - Awesome Valley Will start for the Trust of Barbara Boese. With 27 career victories, he has been a model of consistency, finishing in the top three 62 of his 100 lifetime starts. He has already won four starts this year with three second and third place finishes in 16 starts. This six year-old son of Valley Victor has career earnings of $365,863 and sports a 1:53 (DD 5/8) lifetime mark. This 20-1 morning line selection is trained by Joseph Hundertpfund Jr. and will be driven by Montrell Teague.   5 - Datsyuk Enters this race for owners Leonard Buckner and Charlie Norris. He is also conditioned and usually driven by Norris, but Don Irvine, Jr. gets the reins for tonight's outing. The four year-old has garnered five career victories in 21 starts, earning a mark of 1:53.1 (TgDn 5/8) and $454,253 in earnings. The son of Explosive Matter was unraced as a freshman but had a stellar sophomore campaign last year, winning three legs of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes and a Tompkins Geers Stake. He carries a 15-1 morning line.   6 - Rompaway Galaxy Is owned by Rompaway Farms and trained by Krista Harmon. The four year-old has raced over Northfield Park's Flying Turns three times, posting two wins and a third place finish. He has a total of 29 career starts with 14 triumphs. He earned a 1:52 (M 1) lifetime mark just two races ago and has career earnings of $423,981. He was the Ohio Sire Stakes Champion as a freshman and won the Ohio State Fair Stakes and Ohio Breeders' Championship as a sophomore. Mike Micallef has been named to drive this 12-1 morning-line starter.   7 - Daylon Magician The 6-1 shot is the richest horse in the inaugural Classic field with $1,849,527 in earnings. This son of Kadabra has five wins in eight starts this year and 30 lifetime scores to his credit, the richest being the $1,020,000 Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Racetrack in 2011. Jack Moiseyev is the 7-year-old's trainer and driver for owner Daylon Farms LTD. Moiseyev posted a win at Northfield Park in the Cleveland Classic with 3 year-old pacing star Precious Bunny in 1991. Daylon Magician has a 1:51.1 mark at Mohawk Racetrack, trotted in 2013.   8 - Il Sogno Dream Odds of 8-1, even though he won just two weekends ago by open lengths in an impressive effort from post eight at Scioto Downs. He has a 1:52.2 (ScD 5/8) lifetime mark, trotted this year, and career earnings of $488,101. This son of Cantab Hall has won 10 of 33 career starts and is two for four so far this year. Christopher Beaver trains Il Sogno Dream for owners Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. Aaron Merriman has been given the driving assignment. Merriman, the current leading driver in North America, has won more local races than any other driver over the Flying Turns.   This year's Classic program undercard is highlighted by 11 $40,000 Ohio Sires Stakes races featuring the best freshman filly pacers and trotters in the Buckeye State. There will be six divisions of filly pacers and five filly trot stakes races going to post. Superfecta wagering has been added to Friday's 11th race, the Classic feature. A $10,000 guaranteed Pick-4 has also been added and covers races eight through 11. First race post time is 6 p.m. Guests who want to be close to all of the racing action can stop by the grandstand apron for a plethora of free fanfare activities. These attractions include a t-shirt toss from the winner's circle by the successful driver of each race, driver meet-and-greets and commemorative poster signings throughout the evening, Harness Racing Bingo offering more than $1,000 in cash and prizes, country band Six String Cowboy performing on the apron from 6-10 p.m., and spinning of the Northfield Park Prize Wheel for cash and prizes from 8-9:30 p.m. Ayers Ratliff  

Gotmyredressontnit put up the fastest mile while Soft Idea and Encore Deo also found the winner's circle in their first career starts to highlight the action in the three $36,566 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers at the harness racing meeting at Buffalo Raceway Wednesday night (July 1).   The track record at Buffalo Raceway of 1:56.3 set by Silk Purse in 2011 and tied by Summertime Lea in 2012 will remain safe for another season.   The first division was the quickest as Gotmyredressontnit just missed the track record with a 1:56.4 clocking while Soft Idea and Encore Deo each went the mile in 1:57.3 over the fast track.   The favored Gotmyredressontnit ($4.10) toyed with the field in the first division.   Sitting third at the quarter pole, driver Jason Bartlett said it was time to go with Gotmyredressontnit and took command.   She was on cruise control from there, going 58.1 in the second half mile, including a 28.2 last panel to pull away from runner up Wishy Washy Girl (Jordan Stratton) by 2-3/4 lengths while Another Look (Tom Jackson) finished in third..   Bartlett said after the race, "This filly is really fast. She's high speed and has a great gait."   He added that he was confident when they passed the half-mile pole.   "The way she's been qualifiying, I knew we had it won at the half mile.   I still haven't pulled the plugs on her." Gotmyredressontnit won her two non-betting prep races by 3-1/2 and 4-1/2 lengths.   Owned and trained by Janice Connor, Gotmyredressontnit (Roll With Joe-Western Top Cat) is now a perfect 1-for-1 in her young career.   In the second division, a gutsy drive by Scott Zeron in the passing lane allowed Soft Idea (American Ideal-Walk Softly) to score a narrow victory over Vino And Formaggio and Angels Rockn Pink in an exciting blanket finish that was decided by a mere head.   Angels Rockn Pink (John MacDonald) set the fractions of 29.1, 59.0 and 1:28.1. They looked home free at the top of the stretch but things started to fall apart. The leg-weary Angels Rockn Pink was begging for the finish line but Soft Idea and Vino And Formaggio (Kevin Cummings) were pacing strong to the finish.   Soft Idea ($13.60) went as far down the passing lane as possible and managed to nose past the game Vino And Formaggio at the wire while Angels Rockn Pink was a head back.   Zeron admitted it was a tight squeeze down the stretch. He then added, "She was loaded the entire mile. I backed her off around the turns but down the stretch, I had a ton of horse."   Soft Idea is trained by Linda Toscano and is co-owned by the South Mountain Stable, the Bay's Stable, Radio Racing Stable and Little E LLC.   After losing a narrow decision in the second leg of the Sire Stakes, Cummings got his revenge in the third and final division aboard Encore Deo ($10.80).   Blasting to the top from the five post, Encore Deo, a $100,000 Lexington Sales purchase, played a game of catch me if you can and ended up wiring the field of seven. Putting up fractions of 30.1, 59.4 and 1:28.4, a 28.4 last quarter panel was enough to hold off any late threat. No Clouds Bluechip (Bartlett) finished 3/4 lengths back while Dime A Dance (Stratton) took the show spot.   "She handled the track really well," Cummings said of Encore Deo (Rock N Roll Heaven -Docdor Cameo). "I was a hair worried around the last turn, but once she straightened out in the stretch, she had a a lot left."   Encore Deo is trained by Ron Burke and co-owned by the Burke Stable, Weaver Buscemi, Jason Melillo and Lawrence Karr.   In the $15,000 Excelsior 'A' Series, it was a clean sweep for Jim Morrill Jr. as he guided Amazon Ideal ($3.40) to a 2:00.3 win and was in the sulky with Roll Of Dreams ($4.00) who turned in a 2:00.1 time.   The $6,800 Excelsior 'B' Series went to Milky Way Rae ($4.20) who toured the Buffalo Raceway half-mile oval in 2:00.4 with Bartlett in the bike.   BZ Glide (Morrill Jr.) was victorious in the $10,500 Open Trot in 1:57.2 and returned $2.70 for the win. Morrill Jr. finished the night with four victories.   Country Delight ($4.00) went coast-to-coast in notching a 1:57.3 win in the $9,500 Open pace for the filly and mares. John Cummings Jr. handled the driving duties.   Racing will continue on Friday night at Buffalo Raceway with 11 races scheduled to go to the post at 6:35 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   Brian J. Mazurek

WASHINGTON, PA, June 24, 2015 -- Atta Boy Dan reeled off two sub-27 quarters yet was fresh as a daisy in the lane, capturing Wednesday's $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows in 1:49.2. The time equaled the track record for older harness racing geldings established by Itrustyou in 2013. Atta Boy Dan won a three-ply battle for the early lead but had to pace in 26.2 to get there. He blazed the third panel in 26 to thwart the first-over challenge of Ideal Magic. When Dave Palone asked him for more in the stretch, the 6-year-old son of Western Terror-Dropitlikeitshot opened up and defeated his stablemate, At Press Time, by 2-1/2 lengths. The pocket-sitting Seventh Secret finished third. Ron Burke trains Atta Boy Dan, who won for the fourth time in his last five starts and extended his career bankroll to $330,117, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Elsewhere on the card, Candelaria Deo triumphed at first asking in 1:58.3, fastest this year by a 2-year-old filly trotter on a five-eighths-mile track. Palone piloted the daughter of Cantab Hall-Highland Ridge for Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi and J&T Silva Stables. Palone and Burke each enjoyed a four-bagger on the 14-race program. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Manalapan, NJ --- Training down, 2-year-old harness racing male trotter Southwind Frank didn't act like much of a race horse. But ever since getting a taste of more speed, he's come around. Southwind Frank was one of four Ron Burke-trained 2-year-olds to win qualifiers Monday at Gaitway Farms. A son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Flawless Lindy, he won in 1:55.3 over a track labeled "good" to lead all trotters. Last week, Southwind Frank finished second by a nose in 2:00.1. "He was very good and he was very good in his first qualifier," Burke said. "He's funny. He was a horrible colt all the way until 2:30, but he's just gotten better and better. The faster you go, the better he gets. He couldn't trot in three minutes to save his life. He was horrible gaited and didn't have a great attitude. But every time we trained him he got a little better and then at like 2:30 it clicked. "He's been a completely different horse since then. Either we were doing a very bad job at first or we're doing a great job now. Horses learn at their own rates. You can push them all you want; some of them are going to do it quick, some you're going to have to wait on." Southwind Frank was purchased as a yearling for $100,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale, which was to the colt's benefit. "He was a $100,000 baby so we didn't just cut him loose," Burke said. "I thought I had to give him a chance and I kept making stakes payments, and worried I was throwing just good money after bad, but for once it worked out." Burke-trained male trotter Southwind Flash (Muscle Hill-Friendly Amigo) followed his stablemate onto the track and won his qualifier in 1:58.4. Burke also won with 2-year-old male pacers Lyons Snyder (Well Said-Armbro Cachet) in 1:55.1 and Viceroy Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere-Vasmajorty Hanover) in 1:56. Both were winners a week ago, Lyons Snyder by 9-1/2 lengths in 1:56.2. "He's a real horse too I think," Burke said. "He's just got to mind his manners. Today was good. He let somebody go, he came back; he had multiple moves. He did everything you're looking for in a horse." Female pacer Skinny Dipper (Somebeachsomewhere-Xhilaration) posted the day's fastest mile for the 2-year-olds, winning the morning's first qualifier in 1:54.2 with a :56.1 final half-mile. It was her first time qualifying. "I didn't want that kind of mile, but they went those fractions up front and she seems like she did it real easy, and that's the main thing," trainer Ross Croghan said. "All winter she had a beautiful, big, loping gait. She looked like a 4-year-old training down, and sometimes that's what you want to see. "She'll qualify one more time, a little slower I hope." Tony Alagna captured two qualifiers, the first with female pacer Call Me Queen Be (Somebeachsomewhere-Preppy Party Girl) in 1:56.3 and the second with male pacer Craftship (Art Major-Capri Hanover) in 1:56.4. "(Call Me Queen Be) is a really nice filly," Alagna said. "She's been nice all along. She acts like a really nice filly and I'm real happy with her today. "I'm really happy with the group I've got overall. We're having a good day. And we qualified some nice colts (at the Meadowlands) on Saturday and last week here." Alagna also was happy with Dr J Hanover, a colt named in honor of Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, the farm manager at Hanover Shoe Farms. Dr J Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere-So Perfect) was purchased under the name Stepenwolf Hanover for $300,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. His mother was a stakes winner and his family includes stakes-winners Perfectionist, Lifetime Member and Copywriter as well as millionaire Image Of Dawn. Dr J Hanover, making his debut, finished fourth in his qualifier, which was won by Troyce Thomas' Whata Twist (Quik Pulse Mindale-Passage) in 1:56.2. "I was very happy with his first go," Alagna said. "They paced the back half in 55 seconds and he closed into it and was right there at the wire. "He's got a lot of pressure on him with his namesake," he added with a laugh. "She texted me first thing this morning wishing good luck. We're very happy with him." No other trainer sent out more than one winner among the 2-year-olds. Other female pacers posting victories were Gerard Malanga's Sail To The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere-Sail Away) in 1:55 and Tom Fanning's Burden Of Proof (Western Terror-Dragonfest) in 1:57.2. Other male pacers winning were Aaron Lambert's Biggie (Somebeachsomewhere-Wenditions) in 1:55.2. Notching triumphs among the female trotters were Chris Ryder's Muffin Hanover (Andover Hall-Mayday Hanover) in 2:01.3 and Jimmy Takter's Keep It Classy (Yankee Glide-Classical Girl) in 2:02.1. For complete charts of all of Monday's qualifiers at Gaitway, click here. Ken Weingartner      

WASHINGTON, PA, June 19, 2015 -- Buried behind a wall of horses, Sand Tilly Lace found room deep in the Lightning Lane to score a 10-1 upset harness racing victory in Friday's $22,500 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Sand Tilly Lace got away second for Dan Charlino but was shuffled to fourth at the top of the stretch. Charlino guided the 4-year-old daughter of Sand Shooter-Sara Toots to the Lightning Lane, where she outkicked Phone Terror by a head in 1:52.4 on a "good" surface. Bad Glamour Girl was third. With her fourth-place check, Do Me Honor soared over $600,000 in career earnings. Ron Burke trains Sand Tilly Lace, who extended her career bankroll to $184,988, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Elsewhere on the card, Rip This Joint won at first asking in 1:55.1, fastest this year by a 2-year-old pacing colt on a five-eighths-mile track. Dave Palone piloted the son of Western Terror-Cheryl Hanover for trainer Mike Palone and owner Lone Wolf table. Tony Hall drove three winners on the 12-race program. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Some trainers, like Jimmy Takter and Casie Coleman, fill their piggy banks during the second half of the year, when stakes racing opportunities are plentiful, while others grind out the wins and money from January to December. As a result, in checking how various trainers are faring this year, I’ll compare them to themselves; I’ll look at where they were on this date last year and see how far ahead, or behind, their mid-June of 2014 numbers they are. It’s no surprise that Ron Burke currently—and always--leads both the trainer’s money and dash lists, however, he is chasing last year’s pace. His veterans Foiled Again, Clear Vision, Bettor’s Edge and Rocklamation, are off to slow starts, for one thing. Burke has made more than 200 fewer starts than he made by mid-June a year ago, leading to more than 85 fewer wins and a shortfall of $1.2 million on the money line. He’ll have to hustle to surpass last year’s world record performance. PJ Fraley, who was handling the Bamond Racing stock, was second a year ago, and finished 2014 in the five slot. This year he disappeared from the planet, leaving the stable to Jeff Bamond Jr, and he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s currently number three on the list. Bamond has Matchmaker winner Venus Delight, as well as Anndrovette, Krispy Apple and Bettorever. Rene Allard, who was third at this juncture a year ago, and finished 2014 in eighth, has married success with aged money makers like Domethatagain and Yagonnakissmeornot, and good fortune with fresh stock like import Crombie A. Allard isn’t welcome at The Meadowlands, Tioga or Vernon Downs, but seems to be none the worse for it. Allard is almost $400,000 ahead of last year’s pace. The Grand Circuit isn’t his strength, so he will probably fall behind stakes trainers like Takter, Alagna and Coleman once again. Gilberto Garcia-Hererra, who was in the six slot in June of last year, has stepped up to number four. His stable has made 240 more starts, but he has only three more wins. However, he’s $300,000 ahead of his 2014 pace. Better stock accounts for this uptick. Julie Miller’s stable was hot during the winter and spring of 2014, with trotter Perfect Alliance winning eleven races. This led to her ascension to the five slot one year ago today. She drops to number nine, with 25 fewer wins and more than $370,000 less in earnings. Her top shelf Donato fillies, Livininthefastlane and Sky Hanover, may help turn that around. Carmen Auciello, who practices his trade on both sides of the border, is consistent; he was number seven in mid-June of last year, and is currently in the number eight spot. The same can be said of Ontario based trainer Richard Moreau, who was at eighth a year ago and is now at seventh. Mark Ford, who was ninth this time last year and is now tenth, also fits this template. Auciello, Moreau and Ford finished last year at the twelve, thirteen and fourteen spots. Irv Miller has taken a major nosedive, from the tenth spot a year ago to number 46 today. Miller, who finished 2014 third behind Burke and Takter, has made 92 fewer starts, has 21 fewer wins and is more than $490,000 short of what his stable had bankrolled this time last year. Josh Green experienced a similar drop-off, but the lengthy suspension he served helps explain that. He went from eleventh to forty-third. Green is off more than 200 starts and $457,000. The fact that Dancin Yankee, who was a beast out of the gate last year, started out like a lamb in 2015, hasn’t helped. Thirty-two-year-old Jose Godinez has rocketed up the charts. He went from the number 44 slot this time last year to number twelve right now. As recently as 2011 he only had 11 starters; he has 329 thus far in 2014. Godinez is up more than 30 wins and $415,000. He’s the number eight trainer at Yonkers Raceway. Virgil Morgan, who was tenth overall on the money list at the close of 2014, has benefitted greatly from the infusion of casino dollars into the Ohio purse account. He was twelfth at this time last year, but is now sixth. Veteran trainer Steve Elliott, who conditioned Donato Hanover and Well Said, wasn’t in the top 50 last June, but a star studded cast that includes Art History, Rockeyed Optimist and Doo Wop Hanover, have him at number 16, and that’s off of fewer starts than any of the trainers in front of him except for Jimmy Takter. Jim King Jr wasn’t in the top 50 a year ago, but he’s at number 27 today, with 55 wins and $611,952 in the bank. Cup contender Wakizashi Hanover, Lismore winner Purrfect Bags and Star Keeper are three of the reasons. Tony O’Sullivan, who finished 2014 at number 18, went from 23 in June of 2014 to number 13 today. His Art Major filly, Moonlit Dance, just won a Fan Hanover elimination. Scott Di Dominico jumped three spots to number 11, while Daran Casar, Heidi Rohr, Mark Harder, Joe Holloway, Amber Buter, Lou Pena and Kevin Carr all fell back. As was stated earlier, some of these trainers will automatically pick up steam when the Grand Circuit gets into full swing, while others will continue to mine the overnight sector, and in most cases drop to one degree or another. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century.  He writes a weekly blog for  http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/.  Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

Atta Boy Dan battled Sam Hill for the early lead but was unassailable once he reached the top, scoring in 1:50 in Wednesday's $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace at the harness racing meeting at The Meadows. Sam Hill stretched Atta Boy Dan to a demanding 26.3 first quarter. Rather than weakening late, however, the 6-year-old Western Terror-Dropitlikeitshot gelding drew off late for Dave Palone, downing the rallying Ideal Magic by 2-1/2 lengths. Sam Hill finished third. Ron Burke trains Atta Boy Dan, who extended his career bankroll to $321,117, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Tony Hall piloted four winners on the 14-race card. Evan Pattack  

Through the first two legs of the Graduate Series for four-year-old pacers, it would be hard to find a harness racing trainer holding a stronger hand than Steve Elliott. Elliott has swept the series so far with his devastating duo of Doo Wop Hanover and Rockeyed Optimist. The pair will finally face each other as part of an overflow field of 12 going the extended 1 1/8 mile distance in the third leg of the Graduate Series on Friday (June 19) at the Meadowlands. "You never know what will happen in a twelve-horse field going that distance," said Elliott. "We'll let the drivers decide what to do when the race starts." In the opening leg of the series on May 25 at Tioga Downs, Rockeyed Optimist won his division in 1:48.1 while Doo Wop Hanover won his division in 1:47.4, the fastest mile ever at the Upstate New York track. The sons of Rocknroll Hanover came back to each win their respective divisions in leg two of the series at the Meadowlands on June 6 in 1:48. "Tioga was pretty impressive. The Meadowlands is just a fast track, but I really think they both have 1:47 miles in them," said Elliott without hesitation. Both horses are prime examples of why Meadowlands chairman Jeff Gural has advocated for more racing opportunities for four-year-olds. 'Doo Wop' and 'Rockeyed' were talented horses last year, but have blossomed into top-class racehorses after an extra year to develop. "The older horses all have four 26-second quarters in them which makes them so tough," said Elliott in explaining four-year-olds versus older horses. "The three and four-year-olds can give you three 26-second quarters with a 27-second quarter. It's a big change from three to four and racing against just four-year-olds puts them on a more even keel." Doo Wop Hanover will be reunited with his regular driver John Campbell, who missed driving him in his previous start while racing out of town. Tim Tetrick will once again get the drive on Rockeyed Optimist. Elliott's horses are hardly the only top contenders in Friday's race. Ron Burke sends out a pair of millionaires, recent Confederation Cup winner All Bets Off and last year's North America Cup winner JK Endofanera. Burke will also be represented by Little Brown Jug champion Limelight Beach. Friday's twelve-race card also includes the third leg of the Graduate Series for four-year-old trotters featuring a much-anticipated rematch between champion Father Patrick and the red-hot JL Cruze, who upset 'Patrick' two weeks ago in the second leg of the series. The 1:51 win was the eighth straight victory for JL Cruze, who has won 14 out of 17 races since trainer Eric Ell purchased him for $37,000 at last year's Harrisburg Sale for owners Kenneth Wood, Bill Dittmar, Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta. Handicappers will also have a pair of six-figure carryovers to chase on Friday in the two Jackpot Super High 5 wagers. The fifth race carryover is $159,224 while the last race carryover is $136,155. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Justin Horowitz

Sassa Hanover got "a perfect trip" in winning her elimination for Saturday's C$479,000 Fan Hanover for harness racing 3-year-old female pacers and trainer Ron Burke is now hoping for a perfect ending to her stakes trip to Mohawk Racetrack by posting a victory in the final. Last weekend, Sassa Hanover won her elimination by a half-length over Wrangler Magic in 1:49.4 - a time faster than all but two Fan Hanover finals in history. Sassa Hanover was sixth midway through the race, but followed the cover of favorite JK She'salady around the last turn before taking the lead in the stretch. JK She'salady, the 2014 Horse of the Year, finished fourth in suffering the first loss of her 14-race career, but still advanced to the Fan Hanover final. Following the race, trainer Nancy Johansson said the filly scoped sick. Sassa Hanover has won 11 of 16 career races, including last year's Matron Stakes and divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion, and finished worse than second only once. She faced JK She'salady twice last season, finishing second in both her elimination for the Breeders Crown and the Breeders Crown final. "I've always had faith in her," said Burke, who owns Sassa Hanover with The Panhellenic Stable Corp., the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and Larry Karr. "She's a very good filly. She got the perfect trip and she did what you're supposed to do when you get a perfect trip." Sassa Hanover, a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven out of the mare Sayo Hanover, has won two of three races this year. She entered her Fan Hanover elimination off a second-place finish as the favorite in the Lismore Pace on May 30 at Yonkers. "The only backward step was the race at Yonkers and we really don't know why," Burke said about the winner of $544,422 in lifetime purses. "There were bitty reasons, but not big reasons why she should have been just average that day. Not that she was bad, but she wasn't herself. So it was nice to see her come back vicious. "She's had a perfect schedule into this race and it should lead to her being very sharp I think." Sassa Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras will start the Fan Hanover final from post three and are the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. JK She'salady, who starts from post five with driver Tim Tetrick, is the 9-5 favorite. Moonlit Dance, who won the other elimination in 1:50.4, leaves from post two with driver James MacDonald at the lines for trainer Tony O'Sullivan. She is 4-1. "I think (Sassa Hanover) is the favorite now," said Burke, who also sends out 20-1 Storm Point in the Fan Hanover final. "Nancy's filly is a great filly, but it always scares me when one of mine is not perfect to only have seven days to get it perfect. (JK She'salady) is a champion, though, and maybe she can handle it. But I like my position right now a little bit better." Johansson said Tuesday afternoon that JK She'salady's condition was improving. "She seems like she's heading in the right direction," Johansson said. "We had her scoped (Tuesday) and it was day and night better than what it was Saturday. I'm happy about that. She seems much more alert, so that's always a good sign. Hopefully we can keep her that way. So far so good." JK She'salady, a daughter of Art Major-Presidential Lady with $901,123 in the bank, was making only her second start of the season in her Fan Hanover elimination. She won a New York Sire Stakes division on May 25 at Tioga Downs and entered last weekend's race off a 1:51.3 qualifier win at the Meadowlands. "It's not really disappointing considering I think she raced a good race," Johansson said. "She paced (1):50.2 first up for a ways. "In some sense, it worked out. If she was in the other division she might have won and we would have been standing around saying how great she was. We might not have realized how sick she was because that race went a full second slower and the stress factor is a lot less. Now you look into it a little more because she was extended. I'm happy to know that she was sick so I could work on it for this week." Whereas the connections of elimination winners earned the right to select their posts, Johansson sweated out the open draw for the remaining spots on the gate. "I was so nervous when they started drawing the race, but it couldn't have worked out any better," said Johansson, who trains JK She'salady for breeder/owner 3 Brothers Stables. "From (post five) maybe she can work out a little more of a trip than what she's been able to in the past. I think she's been first up in about 90 percent of her lifetime starts. It's time for her to get a nice trip." Following is the field for the Fan Hanover in post order, by sire, with drivers, trainers, and morning line odds: 1. Better Said, by Well Said - Scott Zeron, Linda Toscano, 12-1 2. Moonlit Dance, by Art Major - James MacDonald, Tony O'Sullivan, 4-1 3. Sassa Hanover, by Rock N Roll Heaven -  Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2 4. Doctor Terror, by Wester Terror - Corey Callahan, Blake MacIntosh, 10-1 5. JK She'salady,  by Art Major - Tim Tetrick, Nancy Johansson, 9-5 6. Solar Sister, by Mach Three - Doug McNair, Gregg McNair, 6-1 7. Wrangler Magic, by Mach Three - Sylvain Filion, Stephane Larocque, 8-1 8. Storm Point, by Somebeachsomewhere - Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 20-1 9. Single Me, by Bettor's Delight - David Miller, Tony O'Sullivan, 20-1 10. The Show Returns, by Rocknroll Hanover - John Campbell, Chris Ryder, 30-1 by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA  

(Pequannock, NJ – June 16, 2015)  --  He was named after a cartoon character’s catchphrase, but harness racing world champion Foiled Again has been nothing but serious when it comes to making money. The 11-year-old pacer is the richest Standardbred in history, with purse earnings of $7.01 million following his win last Friday in the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park. With the victory, Foiled Again also became the race’s first three-time champion. And now this model of consistency on the racetrack has become a real model. Breyer has joined countless fans amazed by Foiled Again’s ability to compete successfully at the sport’s highest level year after year and is honoring the ageless wonder with a portrait model created in his likeness. Most harness racing horses earn the bulk of their lifetime money at ages 2 and 3 – the years during which the greatest number of lucrative stakes are offered – but Foiled Again has defied convention, banking more than $5.8 million after turning age 6. In fact, his earnings during that span alone outdistance the next richest pacer in history by more than $1 million. He is the only harness racing horse to compete solely in North America and earn more than $1 million for three consecutive years, a feat he accomplished from 2011 through 2013. In 2011, at the age of 7, Foiled Again was named the Dan Patch Award Pacer of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers’ Association. He is the only pacer older than the age of 4 ever to receive the honor. In 2013, at the age of 9, he won the Breeders Crown Pace to become the oldest Standardbred to win a Breeders Crown event. In addition to his victory in the Breeders Crown, Foiled Again during his career has won many of the sport’s top stakes for older pacers, including the Canadian Pacing Derby, Ben Franklin Pace, TVG Free For All Series Championship, George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, Bobby Quillen Memorial, and Molson Pace. The bay gelding also holds the record for most miles in 1:55 or faster and at the age of 9 equaled the world record for the fastest mile ever by an older pacer on a five-eighths of a mile racetrack, winning in 1:48 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Born on May 8, 2004 in central New Jersey, Foiled Again is a son of stallion Dragon Again. He was named by breeder Barbara Matthews, who recalled her daughter watching Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons and hearing villain Snidely Whiplash often exclaim, “Curses, foiled again!” Foiled Again has been driven throughout the majority of his career by Yannick Gingras and trained by Ron Burke. He is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and the JJK Stables group of Joseph Koury, Joseph Koury, Jr. and Kevin Koury. Weaver once said he hoped to someday find another horse like Foiled Again, but knows the odds are against it.  “It’s like saying you want to find the next Michael Jordan,” Weaver said. “It’s sort of unreasonable.” Breyer’s Foiled Again Traditional model is available now from Breyer retailers everywhere. Breyer’s special edition Stablemates version of Foiled Again will be the kid’s giveaway item on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, Aug. 8, at The Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, NJ. For additional Stablemates availability call Moira Fanning at  609-371-2211. A “launch party” for the Foiled Again Breyer Model will take place on Sat., July 4 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the scene of his historic Breeders Crown triumph.  Foiled Again is scheduled to race in the Ben Franklin Free For All Pace, one of four feature races on the $2 million Sun Stakes race card. About Breyer Animal Creations® For horse-crazy girls, there are only two kinds of horses: real horses and Breyer model horses. The iconic Breyer brand, a division of Reeves International, was founded in 1950, and is the leader in creating the world’s most authentic and realistic model horses for play and collecting. These hand-painted, collectable model horses and animals have a worldwide following, thanks to the incredible sculptures that form the foundation of the line. Today, Breyer has expanded its play lines to include play sets, craft activities and horsey accessories for its younger fans and its collector lines to include resins, crystal and porcelain. To see the complete line of Breyer horses, and to learn more about Breyer events and the model horse hobby, visit us at BreyerHorses.com! Please contact Kathleen Fallon at Breyer: Tel: 973-349-1704; Mobile: 917-592-5185 Email: kfallon@reevesintl.com

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 13 - Sassa Hanover and Moonlit Dance were upset minded three-year-old pacing fillies who beat their favoured harness racing rivals in their respective $35,000 Fan Hanover eliminations on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack.   JK Shesalady, reigning Horse of the Year on both sides of the border, had a perfect 13-for-13 record going into the race, but Sassa Hanover played giant-killer and snapped her streak.   Sassa Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras got away sixth as The Show Returns, who was followed by Wrangler Magic and Bettor Be Steppin, led the fillies into the first turn. After a :26.1 opening panel, Bettor Be Steppin launched a second-quarter attack from third to take command, but her lead was short lived as Single Me was on the move.   Sassa Hanover was third-over behind JK Shesalady, who caught the cover of the leading Single Me. The 94-1 longshot posted the half in :55.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.1.   When they entered the stretch Sassa Hanover was fed open racetrack and she surged passed the fillies in deep stretch to score in a new lifetime mark of 1:49.4 by half a length. Wrangler Magic rallied for second while Single Me faded to third. The 1/9 favourite, JK Shesalady, finished fourth and Bettor Be Steppin was fifth.   "That's the trip I was looking for," said Gingras from the winner's circle. "You know JK Shesalady, she will take you where you need to go. I figured if she gets roughed up a little bit I had a good chance and that's what happened.   "It took her a little bit of time to come back," explained the reinsman. "I trained her a week before she qualified and she was just okay and the first qualifier she was okay, but then she really woke up after that. The second qualifier she was much better and at Vernon, [driver] Andrew McCarthy told me she was very good there. And at Yonkers, it was a tough track and tough trip as well, but tonight she was perfect."   The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover notched her second win of the season and 11th lifetime. With the win, she pushed her career earnings to $547,747 for trainer Ron Burke, who shares ownership with The Panhellenic Stb Corp, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Lawrence Karr. Sassa Hanover paid $15.70 to win.   Sassa Hanover     In the second elimination Moonlit Dance defeated Solar Sister, who was the 3/2 favourite, to score her fourth victory of her sophomore campaign for trainer Tony O'Sullivan.   Driver James MacDonald and Moonlit Dance was eighth as Solar Sister posted a :26.2 first quarter. A parked out Momas Got A Gun took to the front into the backstretch, but as soon as she cleared, Happiness was making a bid for the lead. The pair battled, but Happiness was the one to take command, posting the half in :54-flat just before clearing to front. Happiness then clocked the three-quarters in 1:22.1 after Deli Beach put pressure on the front-stepping pacer.   Into the stretch Moonlit Dance was back in seventh, but found a seam in-between horses to capture the winner's share of the purse by a neck and stopped the teletimer in a career-best clocking of 1:50.4. Doctor Terror got up for second and Better Said stayed for third. Solar Sister and Storm Point finished fourth and fifth, respectively.   "The speed has never been a problem with her," said O'Sullivan. "She is tough on herself and training there is no bottom to her. I was never worried about the speed. And racing against better horses, she is her own worst enemy. She's got her own mind sometimes and if we can coddle that a little bit then she is a very good filly."   The homebred daughter of Art Major-Gone Dancing picked up her fifth lifetime victory in 15 outings, which increases her bankroll to $103,379 for the David Goodrow Stable. Moonlit Dance paid $17.10 to win.   Moonlit Dance   The top five finishers advance to the $479,000 Fan Hanover Final, which is set for Saturday, June 20 as part of the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup undercard. Being elimination winners, Sassa Hanover and Moonlit Dance have selected their post positions for the final.   Here is how the sophomore fillies will line up behind the gate:   1. Better Said by Well Said   2. Moonlit Hanover by Art Major   3. Sassa Hanover by Rock N Roll Heaven   4. Doctor Terror by Western Terror   5. JK Shesalady by Art Major   6. Solar Sister by Mach Three   7. Wrangler Magic by Mach Three   8. Storm Point by Somebeachsomewhere   9. Single Me by Bettor's Delight   10. Bettor Be Steppin by Bettor's Delight   AE: The Show Returns by Rocknroll Hanover   Ashley Mayotte for WEG Communications

Harness racing's longest shining star, Foiled Again, became the first three-time champion of Northfield Park's Battle of Lake Erie when he crossed the wire a winner on Friday (June 12). Approaching the start the 11 year-old was already the richest Standardbred of all-time and became the first horse to earn in excess of $7 million with his triumph. Foiled Again (Dragon Again-In A Safe Place-Artsplace) is owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable of Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, Weaver Bruscemi of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and JJK Stables LLC of Fort Lauterdale, Florida. He is trained by Ron Burke, who called upon Matt Kakaley to drive. Foiled Again started from post five and sat fourth through the :26 opening quarter. Kakaley pulled Foiled Again in the second panel and he remained first over through times of :53.4 and 1:21.3. Foiled again took advantage of his chance when Luck Be Withyou, who had led throughout, went off stride entering the final turn. Foiled Again inherited the lead and fought off his competition in the stretch to win by a neck, stopping the timer at 1:50.3. "I knew if I was close turning for home the he would out grit them," said Kakaley "He is the toughest horse ever in the history of harness racing, for sure." The win pushes Foiled Again's earnings to $7,012,531. Following Foiled Again were Clear Vision, Cammikey, Big Boy Dreams, State Treasurer, Duc Dorleans, Night Pro and Luck Be Withyou. Foiled Again started this year a bit sluggish and many people were calling for Ron Burke to retire the champion pacer. However, Burke discovered that the horse had an entrapped epiglottis and scheduled the minor surgery in early May. Friday's performance was Foiled Again's first start post-operation. "He is as good as ever and still has a lot of racing left in him," said Burke. "He is the horse that has built our barn. I cannot say enough good things about him. I love this horse." Ayers Ratliff

WASHINGTON, PA, June 9, 2015 -- Cowgirl Hall retook the lead past the quarter and never had an anxious moment thereafter as she captured Tuesday's $20,000 harness racing filly & mare winners over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Anaffairtoremember stalked the leader from the pocket, but Cowgirl Hall drew further away in the stretch and scored in 1:54.3 for Dave Palone, downing Anaffairtoremember by 2-1/4 lengths. Whata Donato shot the Lightning Lane for show. Ron Burke trains Cowgirl Hall, a 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Centerfold Hall who vaulted over $700,000 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Jack Piatt III and Michael Rosenthal. Elsewhere on the card, Lil Miss Hot Pants snapped one of harness racing's longer futility streaks when she broke her maiden in career start 56. The 5-year-old daughter of Christian Cullen-Bronzer Babe used a strong first-over move to triumph in 1:57.4 for Tony Hall, trainer Aaron Johnston and owners Debbie Schoeffel and Marilyn Belsterling. It was one of four wins on the 14-race program for Hall. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Tall Cotton let Tamarind do the heavy lifting on the lead, then blew by him in the Lightning Lane to score a narrow victory in Monday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Trot at the harness racing meeting at The Meadows. After enjoying a pocket trip, Tall Cotton had little trouble outkicking Tamarind for Dave Palone. The greater danger, however, was wide, where Trustworthy Kid was unleashing a strong late bid. Tall Cotton kept a nose in front of Trustworthy Kid at the wire, prevailing in 1:53.1, while Tamarind saved show. Ron Burke trains Tall Cotton, a 9-year-old Revenue S-B Cor Peatra gelding who now boasts $647,811 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Edwin Gold and Howard Taylor. It was one of three wins on the 14-race card for Palone. Evan Pattak The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

The featured event on Sunday (June 7) from the harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia was a pace for non-winners of $27,500 in the last 5 starts going for a purse of $25,000. The wagering public put their support behind 8-year-old gelding Dream Out Loud N. The son of Bettor's Delight was coming off of a fast closing third against similar at Yonkers. Driver Tim Tetrick settled into forth in the early stages, as Teddy Baker trainee Getitoffyourchest (Marcus Miller) and Ron Burke charge Outrageous Art (Yannick Gingras) battled for the early lead. After a fast opening quarter (:26), the tempo slowed, with Outrageous Art on top at the half (:54.3). That's when the race favorite got in gear, as Dream Out Loud N moved confidently first-over to challenge for the lead. He was on even terms with the pace setter at three-quarters (1:21.3). He was able to wear down the leader in the stretch, going on to a two length victory, stopping the timer in 1:50.1 Abelard Hanover (Scott Zeron) closed up the inside for second, while Outrageous Art faded to third. It was the nineteenth career win for Dream Out Loud N, moving his career earnings close to the $400,000 mark. The winner ($4.20) is owned by Muscara Racing Stables, and was one of three training wins for Darran Cassar. Tim Tetrick had five driving wins on the afternoon. Michael Bozich

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