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It was the 2015 debut for multi-stakes winner McWicked in the featured event at the harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (July 26), an open pace going for a purse of $30,000. After back-to-back qualifiers at The Meadowlands, the now 4-year-old son of McArdle was coming off of a memorable 3-year-old campaign, including capturing the Breeder's Crown in late November. The favorite coming in however was The Jerry Taylor Invitational winner Great Vintage. The 30-time winner took 2 of his last 3 coming in, with the latest victory overcoming the 8 hole against open company at Yonkers. Great Vintage (Scott Zeron) wasted no time getting into gear, leaving aggressively from post 4 securing the front end. The 7-year-old son of American Ideal set fractions of :26.3, :55.2, and 1:22.1. McWicked (Dave Miller) took back at the start from post 7, taking up third over position. In the stretch, Great Vintage was able to get away, building an insurmountable lead, holding off the fast closing McWicked by two lengths in the end. The final time was 1:50.1. Great Vintage is now 5 for 8 in the win column this season, for the owning group of Takter, Fielding, Anderberg, and Falk. In other news, millionaire trotter Sevruga (Andy Miller) overcame a second tier starting spot to prevail in a winner's over $25,000 lifetime trot going for a purse of $24,000. The 7-year-old son of SJ's Caviar was able to grind first over to narrowly defeat the front stepping My Love Bi (George Napolitano Jr.), winning by a head in 1:54.3. Favorite DW's NY Yank (Matt Kakaley) overcame an early break to finish third. It was the 35th career win for Sevruga, who is owned by Joe P Racing and trained by Julie Miller. Michael Bozich

Brian Fisher trainee Abelard Hanover (Scott Zeron) was victorious in the featured event at the harness racing meeting on at  Harrah's Philladelphia on Sunday. It was a pace for non-winners of $20,000 in their last 5 starts or non-winners of 9 races or $90,000 lifetime. Starting from post 5, the 7-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover stormed right to the front, setting fractions of :26.4, :55.1, 1:22.4, and 1:51.4. He had to deal with a challenge from Bob Bresnahan trainee Good Day Mate (Geo. Napolitano Jr.) who rushed up first over at the half. Good Day Mate finished a game second, while Smooth Criminal (Eric Carlson) rallied for third. Race favorite Jeneral Patton (Tim Tetrick) finished off the board despite a second over trip. It was the 37th career win for Abelard Hanover ($16.00), who now has earnings over $620,000. Winning driver Scott Zeron had four wins on the card. Michael Bozich

Pennsylvania sired 2-year-old filly pacers took center stage at the harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon (July 9) competing in five divisions worth just over $53,000 each. The highly regarded Pure Country (Brett Miller) looked every bit the part in the first division. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere rated smartly off the speed duel which developed shortly after the half between second favorite Heels On The Beach (John Campbell) and Ron Burke trainee Eloquent Grace (Yannick Gingras). Pure Country ($2.40) edged off the cones from the pocket spot at the top of the stretch, sweeping up three wide for an in-hand one length victory, stopping the clock in 1:53.2. She is owned by Diamond Creek Farms, and is trained by Jimmy Takter. Gerard Malanga trainee Sail To The Beach (Daniel Dube) was equally as impressive in her divisional win. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere sat off the pace until the half, when she uncorked a strong brush that pushed her well clear by the three-quarter pole. Her margin of victory was two lengths in the end, stopping the clock in 1:53.1. Danika P (Matt Kakaley) was a clear second, while My Lady Love (Brett Miller) overcame a severe shuffle to close for third. Sail To The Beach ($4.00) remained undefeated for owners Chester Orzell and Michael Talapa. Another Somebeachsomewhere filly proved prominent in division three, as Darlinonthebeach (Yannick Gingras) scored in front stepping style. The Nancy Johansson trainee faced a minor challenge up the backstretch from Sayulita (Brett Miller) before relegating her to the pocket by the three quarter pole. Darlinonthebeach ($3.40) won by an increasing four length margin in the end, stopping the clock in 1:53.1 for her first pair-mutuel win. Division four was home to an impressive performance by I Said Diamonds (Dave Miller). The daughter of Well Said benefitted when her main competition Shezarealdeal (Marcus Miller) made a break in the first turn, thus eliminating herself. I Said Diamonds ($3.00) then pounced on the leaders just after the quarter, never ceding command after completing the clearing move. She went on to win by a length, stopping the clock in 1:53 to remain undefeated in two starts. She is owned by Omar Beiler, Dennis Coons, and Susan Oakes, with Chris Oakes doing the training. The final division was taken by the front end stepping Peachy (Yannick Gingras). The daughter of Western Terror was able to rate back to back :29 quarters before facing a challenge from race favorite Skinny Dipper (Andrew McCarthy). Peachy ($9.80) was able to extend her lead off the soft fractions at three quarters, with plenty left to fend off the pocket sitting Corona Again in the stretch. She won by a little less than a length, stopping the timer at 1:54.1. It was the first career win for the Ron Burke trainee, who is owned by W J Donovan. Yannick Gingras lead all drivers with four wins on the day, while Corey Callahan, Scott Zeron, and Dave Miller each had three. Live racing resumes Friday at Harrah's Philadelphia with a first post of 12:40 PM. Michael Bozich

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

Nobody told Mother Nature that The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was having one of its biggest harness racing cards of the season last Saturday night. Heavy rain pummeled Northeastern Pennsylvania starting in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and it was still going strong by the time the elimination races for Sun Stakes Saturday had come to a completion. As a result, the track was plenty sloppy as some of the world's best horses stopped by in the hopes of making it through to the big-money Sun Stakes finals on the Fourth of July. Elimination races are always a tricky bit of business because, while everybody wants to win, the most important thing is securing that spot in the lineup when those purses go rocketing skyward. So, considering the slop and the strategizing, the results we saw Saturday might not have all that much bearing on what occurs in the Finals. But it still made for a memorable night of racing, one featuring some unexpected outcomes and many stellar performances. Here is a division-by-division look at what went down. JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE (3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES) This felt like the most wide-open field going into the eliminations, and Saturday's races didn't provide a ton of clarity. We do know that JK She'salady, who dominated the division a year ago, won't be around for the finals, as her recent struggles continued with a 5th-place finish in her elimination. Instead. The Show Returns wheeled out 3-wide with John Campbell in the bike to come up for a mild upset win in the division containing JK She'salady. Speaking of mid-priced upsetters, Momas Got A Gun wore down favored Divine Caroline for a win in her split at 6-1. The only favorite to hold form was Stacia Hanover, who controlled matters on the front end to win with Scott Zeron in the bike. As further proof of just how tight these fillies are heading into the finals, all three winners came home in the slop in identical times of 1:51:3.   MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE (3-YEAR-OLDS) Most of the top competitors in the eliminations came right from the North American Cup finals held on June 20 at Mohawk. Wakizashi Hanover, who sprung a mild upset to win that race in Canada, used a pocket seat to win his elimination in 1:50:4 with Tim Tetrick in the bike. The horse he surprised at Mohawk, Wiggle It Jiggleit, righted his ship after the first loss of his career, handling his split with ease for driver Montrell Teague in 1:50:1. And Artspeak outdueled In The Arsenal in the final division by a head in 1:50; those two horses finished fifth and fourth in the North American Cup. Certainly everyone will be watching for a rematch between Wakizashi Hanover and Wiggle It Jiggleit in the final, and the draw for post position will be all-important, since those two appear to be evenly matched.   EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL TROT (3-YEAR-OLDS) The night's biggest upset occurred when Pinkman, who was the 2-year-old divisional champ and had won three straight Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races to start 2015, was upended at the line by the late charge of Wicker Hanover, a 16-1 shot with Andrew McCarthy in the bike. In the first Beal split, heavy favorite Habitat made an early break, opening the door for Cruzado Dela Noche to come up first-over and surprise for the win in 1:53:3. Uncle Lasse won a showdown with Crazy Wow in the final division in a battle of odds-on horses. Trainer Jimmy Takter will have Uncle Lasse and an angry Pinkman in the final, so he'll most likely have a big say in the matter. But the preliminaries show that you can't take anything for granted, especially when horses as talented as Wicker Hanover can get away at such long odds.   BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE (OPEN) The two eliminations provided a fascinating study on how races can be won in a variety of ways. In the first elimination, Luck Be Withyou, who had suffered a disappointing break of stride while leading his previous stakes race at Northfield, decided to give it another go on the engine on Saturday night. With George Napolitano on the bike, the 4-year-old stallion busted to the lead from the #8-hole and never looked back, hustling home to win in 1:50. In the second split, State Treasurer, a 6-year-old stallion who campaigns in Canada, had to deal with the dreaded outside #9 post. Driver David Miller stayed patient, even with his horse sitting last fifth-over at the three-quarter pole. Around the final turn he wheeled State Treasurer to the outside and the stallion blew by everybody for a last-to-first victory in 1:50:3. Most of the top aged pacers are headed to the final, including Foiled Again, the sport's all-time top earner who snuck in based on having the faster fifth-place finishing time of the two divisions. Saturday's final should be a donnybrook for the ages. With the eliminations in our rear-view, all that's left to do is look forward to the Fourth of July finals. Trust me, the on-track action on Sun Stakes Saturday will provide all the fireworks you'll need. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

The top 3-year-old male pacers in North America meet Saturday in the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but with harness racing trainer Tony Alagna expecting the group to "trade punches all year," the event might as well be called "Round Two." Wakizashi Hanover won Round One, capturing the North America Cup on June 20 at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. The sport's leading money-winner this season, Wakizashi Hanover will start from post seven in the Hempt, entering the final off a 1:50.4 elimination victory over a sloppy track last weekend. He is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Joann Looney-King. North America Cup runner-up Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 5-2 morning line favorite after winning his Hempt elimination by four lengths in 1:50.1. Wiggle It Jiggleit, the winner of 12 of 13 lifetime races, will start from post five with Montrell Teague at the lines for trainer Clyde Francis. Artspeak, who was the 2014 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer, won the remaining elimination by a head over In The Arsenal, stopping the clock in 1:50 for Alagna and driver Scott Zeron. He drew post No. 4 and is 4-1 on the morning line. In The Arsenal, who earlier this season won the Art Rooney Pace, is 5-1and will start from post six with Brian Sears driving for Kelvin Harrison. Those four horses have combined to win 24 of 30 starts this season while finishing on the board a total of 28 times. "I think those are the top four contenders right now and they're going to trade punches all year, I believe," Alagna said. "But I think that our horse is definitely going to get his fair share." Joining the four top morning line picks in the Hempt final are Lost For Words, who has won four of five races this year and finished second to Wakizashi Hanover in his elimination, as well as North America Cup third-place finisher Betting Exchange, Pierce Hanover, A Bettor Hat, and National Seelster. The top three finishers from each of last week's three eliminations advanced to the Hempt final. All of the finalists were in the top three entering the last quarter-mile of their respective elims and only two of the finalists - National Seelster and A Bettor Hat - were worse than third at the halfway point. They were fourth and on the move. "It's going to be a cavalry charge into the first turn," said Alagna, who won the 2013 Hempt with Captaintreacherous. "Everybody is going to be leaving. Nobody wants to come from off the pace and going for $500,000 everybody is going to be forwardly placed. We just have to hope we land in a good spot and get a decent trip and get a shot at it in the stretch." In his elimination, Artspeak got the lead heading out of the first turn and then rebuffed challenges from Pierce Hanover (outside) and In The Arsenal (inside) to post the win. It was only the second time in his seven most recent starts that Artspeak was in front at the half. "People thought he would have trouble with the five-eighths (of a mile track) and he whipped right around there," said Alagna, who trains Artspeak for owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, and In The Gym Partners. "He did it on the front end and that's not normally his style. He's a much better horse off a helmet, but we took a shot and Scott did a great job. "He showed a lot of grit. He's won a lot of races on talent, but the other night he showed true grit and what kind of horse he really is. They collared him at the head of the lane and he fought all the way to the wire to win. I was very impressed with his effort." Saturday's card at Pocono also includes the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers, and $75,000 Sun Invitational for older trotters. Following is the Hempt Memorial field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line odds: 1. Pierce Hanover by Cams Card Shark -  Brett Miller, Ken Sucee, 10-1 2. Betting Exchange by Bettor's Delight -  Jim Morrill Jr., Tom Fanning, 12-1 3. Lost For Words by Well Said -  David Miller, Brian Brown, 6-1 4. Artspeak by Western Ideal -  Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna, 4-1 5. Wiggle It Jiggleit by Mr Wiggles -  Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis, 5-2 6. In The Arsenal by American Ideal -  Brian Sears, Kelvin Harrison, 5-1 7. Wakizashi Hanover by Dragon Again -  Tim Tetrick, Joann Looney-King, 3-1 8. A Bettor Hat by Bettor's Delight -  Yannick Gingras, Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, 20-1 9. National Seelster by Bettor's Delight -  Andy Miller, Chris Ryder, 15-1 Notes: George Teague Jr. owns the homebred Wiggle It Jiggleit. He trained 2011 Hempt winner Custard The Dragon, who scored with Montrell Teague in the sulky. George Teague Jr. also won the race in 2009 with Johnny Z and 2008 with Badlands Nitro. Chris Ryder won the 1999 edition of the race, then known as the Joseph Banks Memorial, with Artistic Freedom. McWicked holds the Hempt Memorial stakes record of 1:47.3, set last year. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA          

Louisville, KY --- Like most of us, he has a very specific outlook on life and throughout the duration of Stacia Hanover’s career harness racing trainer Steve Elliott has adhered to his primary philosophy. “It’s the same whether it walks on two legs or four,” he said. “The colts you can bull them down a little bit, but not the fillies. You need to let them do what they want to do, because if you don’t they will make you pay for it. There’s just no sense in fighting with any woman. All you can do is say, ‘Thank you honey’ then try again the next day.” That’s why if Stacia Hanover decides to buck and generally just be high maintenance while being harnessed for her $20,000 James Lynch Memorial elimination at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday (June 27) the filly will most certainly have her way. Once she is prepared for her mile, Scott Zeron will guide her to the sixth spot on the gate in the evening’s fourth race where she is the 7-2 morning line third selection behind Nancy Johansson's Wicked Little Minx (5-2) and Joe Holloway’s Bettor Be Steppin (3-1). “It’s been a battle with her, but Scott has done a great job with teaching her how to race,” Elliott said. “She just wanted to go 100 mph and would not relax in a hole, but now she is much more comfortable racing that way. We’ll see what we have this weekend. The goal is to have a nice, consistent horse that goes on next year. I think she has the ability to do just that.” Stacia Hanover is a daughter of Western Ideal and the Art Major mare Stolly Up Bluechip. She is the second foal out of her dam and a half-sister to Seashell Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere, p,3,1:51.4f, $99,245). Owned by David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio, Stacia Hanover was a $35,000 yearling purchase at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale. She definitely showed promise as a 2-year-old as one of her three triumphs was in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final. From five starts she amassed earnings of $94,225 and a mark of 1:53.4. “She is a tiny thing,” Elliott said. “We stopped on her last year because she was sick and then I tried to qualify her when I should not have. She just was not over that illness. That is when I realized my mistake and figured we would just get her ready for this year. She is still very small, but she is much stronger.” The filly returned to work this season with her fourth visit to the winner’s circle after reigning victorious by a head in a $15,500 non-winners contest on April 24 at the Meadowlands. She was then fourth in a $16,000 event under similar conditions, but her last quarter was in :26. Her next three races resulted in second place finishes in a pair of New Jersey Sire Stake legs and the $100,000 final. The Show Returns is the filly who beat Stacia Hanover by a neck in the NJSS final and showed her performance at 40-1 odds that day was no fluke as she finished second in the $387,990 Fan Hanover final on June 20 at Mohawk. “We are just being patient and taking our time with her,” Elliott said about Stacia Hanover. “TheWestern Ideals seem to improve as they get older so that is also what we are keeping in mind. The owners are having fun and bringing people to the races to see her. They are happy and the situation with this filly is what harness racing is really all about as people are enjoying themselves with friends as well as family.” Although, Van Dusen and Cimaglio are reveling in their filly’s accomplishments they were a little shocked at the balance on the stakes sheet after Elliott plotted her course for 2015. “They were like, ‘Geez, when did you get so high on her?’” Elliott said. “Those stakes payments can really put things in perspective, but with each race she improves as she continues to learn. We have to give her the opportunity to prove herself. I think she belongs and that she will be worth the wait. There is an old saying, ‘If you don’t wait on them, they will make you wait.’ I’m just fortunate I have owners like this that allow me to have patience with a horse like her.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

A field of eight lined up behind the starter for the featured event at Wednesday afternoons harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia, a pace for non-winners of $15,000 in their last 5 starts. The favorite at post time was Joe Pavia Jr. trainee Steelhead Hanover. The 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight was looking to rebound after a last place finish from post nine at Pocono in his last start. At the start, the favorite was put into play immediately, settling for pocket position behind the speed of Jodi Siamis' Eighteen (Geo. Napolitano Jr.). They remained first and second past the half (:54.3). Morning line favorite Mcardle's Lightning (Scott Zeron) drove up to challenge for the lead, as they reached three quarters in 1:22.1. Eighteen was able to quiet the bid of the first-over challenger, but was unable to stop the stretch surge of Steelhead Hanover (Tim Tetrick). With a last quarter of :26.3, Steelhead Hanover won by a length, stopping the clock in 1:49.1. Eighteen did finish second, while Mcardles Lightning finished third. It was the 20th career win for Steelhead Hanover ($4.40) in his 80th career start. He is owned by Dijo Racing, Agc Stables, J. Barbera, and Pint Size Racing. Driver Tim Tetrick continued his hot hand with 5 wins in the card. Michael Bozich

There were two opens valued at $30,000 each at the harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (June 14). The open pace was race six on the fourteen race program. It featured two of the top three finishers from the Jerry Taylor Invitational, including winner Great Vintage (Dave Miller) and third place finisher Mach It So (Jason Bartlett). The race favorite however was Doctor Butch (Scott Zeron). The 5-year-old son of Art Major finished fifth in the Jerry Taylor two starts back, winning his last start in 1:48.2 at the Big M. He was forwardly placed at the start, leading at the quarter-pole (26.4). Mach It So quickly vacated the pocket to take the lead, hitting the half in :55.1. Long shot Big N Bad (Eric Carlson) made mild headway first over, but was unable to gain past three-quarters (1:22.4). In the stretch, Doctor Butch was able to close home in :26.3 to win for the 25th time in his career, stopping the timer in 1:49.2. Mach It So finished second, while Great Vintage closed for third. Doctor Butch is owned by Kenneth Jacobs, and trained by Linda Toscano. He paid $5.00. In the open trot (race 10), Tom Fanning trainee Possessed Fashion (Jason Bartlett) was the lukewarm favorite. The son of Donato Hanover left well for early position from post 3, settling in behind battling leaders at the quarter (:27.3). Linda Toscano trainee Uva Hanover (Dave Miller) and Jimmy Takter trainee Not Afraid (Corey Callahan) battled for the lead with the latter being used hard to clear from post 8. After the tempo settled down at the half (:56.1), Jim Raymer trainee Rossini (Andrew McCarthy) mustered up a first over challenge. They battled to a three-quarter time of 1:24.3. Not Afraid put away the long shot's challenge in the turn, but could not hold off Uva Hanover down the stretch. The 4-year-old won by a little more than a length, stopping the clock in 1:53.2, a lifetime's best. Possessed Fashion got up for second, while Not Again tired to third. Uva Hanover is owned by Stake Your Claim Stables and Martin Sternberg, and paid $8.40 to win. Driver Dave Miller had five wins on the program. Michael Bozich

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

The USTA website provides periodic glimpses at some of harness racing’s stars throughout the season. Today, they look at award-winning 3-year-old male pacer Artspeak. ARTSPEAK Western Ideal – The Art Museum – Artsplace Owners: Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, In The Gym Partners  Breeders: Brittany Farms, Melvin Hartman Trainer: Tony Alagna Driver: Scott Zeron 2015 Record: 2-2-0-0; $60,000; 1:48.4m 2014 Record: 10-8-0-2; $742,185; 1:50.2s Career: 12-10-0-2; $802,185; 1:48.4m Honors: Dan Patch and O’Brien awards for best 2-year-old male pacer in 2014. Top wins: 2014 Metro Pace, 2014 Governor’s Cup, 2015 and 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes championships. The last time: Artspeak won the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final for 3-year-old male pacers from post eight at the Meadowlands in a career-best 1:48.4 on May 30. Artspeak and driver Scott Zeron settled into fifth place on the first turn, then made up a double-digit deficit in lengths in less than a quarter of a mile to take the lead just beyond the halfway point. Wrapped up in the stretch, Artspeak went on to win by three lengths. “His first start he was wrapped up in (1):49 and that was really visually impressive to see,” trainer Tony Alagna said. “But the other day he made a huge move with the (earplugs) still in. That was a monster effort for his second start back. He came out of the race great. He actually put weight on this week, which after a mile like that is phenomenal. It means he’s on a good program right now. I’m very happy with him. He’s in good shape; we just have to keep him that way.” The next time: Artspeak will get the weekend off before heading to Ontario to compete in the June 13 eliminations for the C$1 million North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. The final is June 20. It could be the start of a six-week stretch that brings Artspeak to the Max C. Hempt Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the Meadowlands Pace at the Meadowlands. Former Alagna Stable star Captaintreacherous swept all three events in 2013, but received a bye to the Meadowlands Pace final and avoided having to race six consecutive weeks. “If you can save yourself a start now, hopefully you can make it through that series of races,” Alagna said. “That’s why I’m so glad to give him this week off. He’s fit, I just have to keep him fresh and happy and he’ll take care of the rest. If the horse seems like he’s in good shape, we’ll certainly take (all three races) into consideration. He’s going to tell us if he’s ready to do it.” No regrets: Alagna and Artspeak’s owners decided to skip last year’s Breeders Crown in late November in favor of an extra month of rest for the colt to prepare for this season. “Of course I think he could have won the Breeders Crown if we went, and I didn’t want to turn down the chance for $250,000 for the owners, but I really felt in my heart it was the right thing to do. I knew he’d lost weight; he’d been going since June and I thought enough was enough. I knew if I put him away he’d get an extra 30 days at Brittany (Farms) in the green grass. “When he came off the truck from Brittany, I said we did the right thing. Win, lose or draw, the horse looked amazing. He wouldn’t have gotten that with five weeks. It was that extra month that really did the trick. I’m really happy with how he’s come back this year.” Stride right: Artspeak made breaks twice last year, finishing third on both occasions, and went off stride in his first qualifier this year. Alagna attributed the break in the qualifier to the length of the colt’s hobbles, which he believes he corrected by resetting them to last year’s length. “I’m never going to say it will never happen again, but he’s been phenomenal,” Alagna said. “We trained him after he made the break -- before I qualified him back (the second time) -- and I knew that we were set. From that point on, I didn’t give it a second thought. “He qualified fantastic (finishing fifth in 1:53.4). Everyone thought the line wasn’t that impressive but nobody saw what he did after the wire. After the wire he circled the field and was up by five (lengths) by the time I walked outside from the paddock. Then his first start told the tale. He was exactly where I told everybody he was at. And he came back with an even more incredible performance in the (New Jersey Sire Stakes) final.” In focus: Artspeak lacks the personality of Captaintreacherous, but he seems to know what it is all about when it comes to racing. “Captaintreacherous had personality plus. He was like a big clown,” Alagna said. “(Artspeak) is a great-feeling horse, but he doesn’t have the big kid mentality that Captain did. This horse has got a lot more focus, even in the barn. But he’s got a really good personality. He doesn’t have bad days in the barn. He doesn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed. He’s very cut and dry. He’s not a quirky horse. He really takes care of himself.” Looking out for No. 1: “Everyone wants to be No. 1,” Alagna said. “That’s understandable. But all I do is focus on my horse. I know if I bring my horse ready to race he’ll take care of the rest. I don’t have to worry about the other horses. I just have to worry about doing my job with mine and what’s going to be will be. There are plenty of horses out there that look good, but as long as I do my job and he does his thing on the track, then I feel like we’re in good shape.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications   

On the racetrack, the Saturday harness racing program at The Meadowlands featured four $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for three year olds, with big names making big headlines. On the track apron, over 15,000 patrons enjoyed the Jerseyfest festivities and the Food Truck Mash-up at the East Rutherford oval. There are certain performances in any sport that warrant somebody standing up and saying "wow, did you see that?" That is the best way to explain the turn of foot shown by Artspeak in the New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for three year old pacing colts on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Sent off as the 3/5 favorite, Artspeak was allowed to settle well off the speed off the gate and into the first turn as the 8/5 second choice, Hurrikane Ali sprinted to the lead past the opening quarter in 26.3. As the field turned down the backstretch, Artspeak appeared to be nearly 10 lengths off his main competition, a margin that Scott Zeron acknowledged in a post-race interview "seemed to be too far back." But, that didn't last long. As soon as Zeron showed his champion colt racetrack, Artspeak grabbed the bit and "took off all on his own," showing a turn of foot that you don't see every day, to say the least. In just an eighth of a mile, Artspeak made up all the ground on Hurrikane Ali and blew past him, taking the lead past the half in 54.3, while settling into a high-cruising speed. At this point, Hurrikane Ali was asked to keep up with the favorite, but Artspeak was well within himself as ripped through three-quarters in 1:21.3 while opening up on the field. The lead continued to expand through the stretch and Artspeak reached the wire in a lifetime best 1:48.4. Gokudo Hanover finished well to be second with Revenge Shark third. Winning trainer Tony Alagna spoke to how well his champion wintered. "When he came off the truck from Brittany Farms, he looked like a million bucks," said Alagna. "When I saw him, I knew we made the right move skipping the Breeders Crown. Those extra 30 days really helped him." Artspeak's driver Scott Zeron was very impressed with his effort tonight. "That move was vicious," claimed Zeron. "He did it all on his own. He was always professional, but now as a three year old, he is bigger and stronger." In addition to being trained by Alagna and driven by Zeron, the colt by Western Ideal is owned by Brittany Farms, Katz, Sbrocco and In The Gym Partners. With the win, his career earnings have surpassed $800,000. Two weeks from the North America Cup eliminations, Artspeak is the presumptive favorite. Artspeak The other star on the program was Mission Brief, who was making her second start of her three year old campaign. Ron Burke reported to Harness Racing Update that Mission Brief is "not perfect right now," but that did not prevent the betting public from sending her to the post as the 1/5 favorite. Yannick Gingras allowed his world champion to float away to the gate and ease her way on the outside of horses as Marion Millionair established a tepid 28.4 opening quarter. As the field straightened up on the backstretch, Mission Brief assumed command and led past the half-mile in just 58.2. A challenge would soon follow as Tim Tetrick launched Model Behavior after the favorite as the field reached three-quarters in 1:27.1. Model Behavior put a head in front under strong urging, while Gingras remained motionless behind Mission Brief, not asking her for any more speed than he had to. Mission Brief fought back to win by a measured length in 1:54.3. Model Behavior was a very good second with Riley's Dream third. Driver Yannick Gingras was happy to win, but recognized there is room for improvement for his filly. "She warmed up really good," said Gingras. "But honestly, I was going as fast as I could with her on the turn. She wasn't having it. Time is on our side, but there is work to do." The daughter of Muscle Hill is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J & T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. With the victory, her earnings have now eclipsed $650,000. Mission Brief While the favorites did what was expected in the first two Sire Stakes finals, there was an upset by a familiar name in the three year old filly pace. At post time, the bettors had a difficult time separating Stacia Hanover and Happiness, with less than $600 separating them in the win pool. Happiness would get the first call as she led the field past the quarter in 27.2, but she relinquished that lead to Lindys Old Lady down the backstretch, who reached the half-mile in 56.1. At that point, Stacia Hanover committed first over and she launched a move around the far turn, challenged for and assumed the lead past three quarters in 1:23.4. From there, Stacia Hanover opened up a lead in the stretch, but an upset was looming as The Show Returns who was well-back early hit her best stride and showed the kind of speed we saw from her at times last year and she rolled through the stretch to nail Stacia Hanover on the wire to spring the 40-1 upset for John Campbell. Stacia Hanover was second with Wicked Little Mix third. John Campbell spoke about the acceleration his filly showed. "Chris (Ryder) made some changes to her bridle and some shoeing changes tonight and it definitely worked," said Campbell. "Obviously that's the best finish she has shown this year." The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover is a sister to world-champion Put On A Show who also raced for trainer Chris Ryder and owners Richard and Joanne Young. The 1:51 clocking was a new lifetime mark. The Show Returns The New Jersey Sire Stakes for the trotting colts looked like a bit of a Hambletonian preview with the big three, Guess Whos Back, French Laundry and Canepa Hanover taking center stage. However, one of the three, Guess Whos Back wouldn't survive the first turn as he made a break while pressing the pace nearing the first quarter. That pace was established by Canepa Hanover who reached the lead in a 28-second opening panel, with French Laundry four lengths off the speed in third. Canepa Hanover would hit the half-mile in 56.2 before stretching his legs around the far turn and trotting a back half-mile in 54.4 to dominate the Sire Stake Final, hitting the wire in 1:51.1, a lifetime mark for Yannick Gingras, who replaced Jimmy Takter in the bike as Takter conditions Maven for her Elitlopp attempt in Sweden. French Laundry was second with Aldebaran Eagle third. Gingras was very impressed with his colt. "Last year training down he (Canepa Hanover) looked like the best one. Everyone liked him," said Gingras. "Before Jimmy left for Sweden he told me he had this horse as good as he could be. He got a little playful in the stretch, so I popped the plugs just to give him a reminder and he found another gear." It will be interesting to see if Gingras continues to drive Canepa Hanover, of if Takter will get back in the sulky upon his return from Sweden. Gingras also drives Mission Brief who is being pointed to The Hambletonian as well but while speaking about Canepa Hanover he stated that with Mission Brief "there are concerns for sure, but she's go trot and she wants to do it." It could be an interesting 10 weeks leading up to The Hambletonian. Canepa Hanover Handle for the Saturday program was $3,053,853 with over 15,000 people attending the Jerseyfest Foodtruck Mash-up event. Both Jackpots in the Super Hi-5 went unclaimed. The fifth race Jackpot carryover grew to $141,175 while the last race carryover will be $115,348 into the Friday program, when racing resumes at 7:15 P.M.   Darin Zoccali

There were three divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday (May 28). They were each going for a purse of approximately $70,000. In the first division, it was Brian Brown trainee Rise Up Now (Scott Zeron) surviving a furious stretch challenge from Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick) to win. The son of Somebeachsomewhere remains undefeated in 2015, now a perfect six-for-six. Rise Up Now was able to seize command just beyond the quarter, taking the lead from Ron Burke trainee Cooperstown (Yannick Gingras). After rating the second quarter, Rise Up Now squared off against Wakizashi Hanover. These two battled the rest of the way, with Rise Up Now winning by a neck in a final time of 1:50.2. Tomy Terror (Corey Callahan) finished third. Rise Up Now is owned by Strollin Stable, McNamara, Robinson, & Country Club Acres. He paid $6.40. The second division was taken by Don Emond's Allbeef N Nobull (Brett Miller). The son of McArdle went right for the lead, getting the quarter in :27. Co-favorite Yankee Bounty (Yannick Gingras) brushed to the lead shortly after. The other co-favorite Mcardles Lightning (Scott Zeron) challenged first-over at the three-quarter pole, but faded in the stretch to finish third. Allbeef N Nobull closed up the open stretch to beat Yankee Bounty by one length, stopping the clock in a career best 1:51. It was his sixth win of nine lifetime starts. The Monte Gelrod trainee paid $7.00 to win. Trainer Brian Brown picked up his second PASS win of the day in the third division, this time with Lost For Words (Dave Miller). The son of Well Said left hard from the gate along with Jimmy Takter trainee Blood Brother (Yannick Gingras). These two battled to the quarter in :27.2. Lost For Words took over just after the quarter and went on to a convincing score, stopping the clock in 1:49.3 for his eighth career win. It was a lifetime's best. Blood Brother settled for second, while Lyons Levi Lewis (Matt Kakaley) finished third. He paid $6.20 to win. Lost For Words is owned by Country Club Acres, Robinson, Lombardo, and Strollin Stable. Michael Bozich

There were four divisions of Pennsylvania Stallion Series action contested at the harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon (May 27) for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers. In the first division, it was Tony Alagna trainee Trading Up (Scott Zeron) winning under-wraps. The son of Somebeachsomewhere brushed to the lead just beyond the quarter and went on to an easy 3 length victory, stopping the clock in a lifetime's best 1:52.2. It was his second career victory, and his first of the season in three starts. Long shot That's My Harley (Montrell Teague) finished second while Aberdeen Hanover (Tony Morgan) finished third. Trading Up ($3.40) is owned by Alagna Racing, John Fodera, Alan Alber, and Aaron Waxman. Division two saw Ray Schnittker trainee Well Well Well (Tim Tetrick) spring the mild upset. The son of Well Said came from off the pace to pick up his second victory in a career best 1:52.4. Jo Pa's Well Said (David Miller) closed solidly for second, despite being used in the early going. Colorful Speech (Geo. Napolitano Jr.) finished a game third. Well Well Well ($8.40) is owned by Schnittker and the Well Well Stable. In the third division, Shirley Le Vin's Parklane Eagle (Dave Miller) was able to narrowly hold off the competition. The son of Somebeachsomewhere was three-wide to the quarter-pole, but still had enough to hold off a late challenge from long shot Guantanamo Bay (Corey Callahan). Reggiano (Yannick Gingras) finished third. It was the third straight win for the Peter Foley trainee, who paced the mile in 1:52.1. He paid $3.00 The fourth division saw This Time (Scott Zeron) picking up his second career win. The son of Well Said seized command and was geared down the final sixteenth, winning by a length in 1:53.1. Lyons Geoffjnr (Yannick Gingras) held pocket position throughout to finish second, while Techtor Hanover (Corey Callahan) finished third. This Time ($6.20) is owned by Peter Blood and Rick Berks, and is trained by Steve Elliott. Mike Bozich

There could come a time when Hurrikane Ali can be called the greatest, but for now he is just out to prove himself on the harness racing scene. Hurrikane Ali is 3-for-3 this season as he prepares for Saturday's $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old male pacers at the Meadowlands. Among the horses standing in his way of winning the crown is Artspeak, who defeated Hurrikane Ali by 1-3/4 lengths to capture last year's NJSS title and also received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male pacer. "We've got Ali here, who would like to be the champ," said John McDermott, who trains the colt with his son John Jr. "But to be the champ you've got to beat the champ, and we ain't beat him yet." Hurrikane Ali, whose three victories this season include two preliminary rounds of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, and driver Yannick Gingras will start from post four in the NJSS final. Artspeak, who has won nine of 11 career starts and never finished worse than third, leaves from post eight with Scott Zeron at the lines for trainer Tony Alagna. Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also features $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championships for 3-year-old female pacers as well as 3-year-old male and female trotters. Dan Patch Award winner Mission Brief headlines the race for female trotters, but will have to overcome starting from post 10. Stakes winner Happiness and Lindys Old Lady, unbeaten in her only two career starts, are among the 10 finalists among female pacers while French Laundry and Guess Whos Back will try to stay unbeaten this year in the final for male trotters. Hurrikane Ali is a son of stallion Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare She's The Greatest. He is a half-brother to stakes winners Driven To Win and Latte Lady and his family includes Dan Patch Award winner She's A Great Lady. He was purchased under the name He's So Great for $63,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale. "I don't spend that kind of money, but after watching Pet Rock and A Rocknroll Dance against 'Cole' I said I've got to give it one more shot," McDermott said, referring to his now retired world champion Hurrikane Kingcole. "I really liked this one. He's really nicely put together, a solid horse with a great head. His conformation is real good and his body, he just has mass to him. He's a strong, strong horse." Hurrikane Ali raced five times at age 2, finishing second on three occasions, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes final. But the colt would get on the right line while racing - to the point of going off stride in his final start of the campaign - and McDermott decided to shut down the horse in August after he was unable to find any physical ailment causing the trouble. The issue resurfaced again earlier this year, but a bridle change corrected the problem. "He came off the line and he hasn't touched it since," McDermott said. "I guess it was just dumb luck, but I'll take it." Hurrikane Ali has won all three of his starts this year by at least 1-1/4 lengths, with a best time of 1:50. McDermott knows the horse can go faster, the question is how much faster. "I've yet to see him tired," McDermott said. "He doesn't blow after the races. He's got a huge set of lungs on him and he loves what he's doing. He comes out of the race sharper than he goes in. "He's just a happy-go-lucky colt. He doesn't know he's working right now, which is absolutely great. There's no stress to him at all. He's got some great manners and a great head on his shoulders. I just hope he has the speed." Hurrikane Ali - owned by Kuhen Racing, Jonathan Klee Racing, Kenneth M. Rucker, MD, and Robert Pucila - is eligible to a number of major stakes, including the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, and Breeders Crown. For now, though, his connections are focused on Saturday. "I think it's going to be a great race," McDermott said. "I think my horse is really sharp. Artspeak is a wonderful horse and I just hope we get to have a great battle. Either way, I just want it to be a really wonderful race. There are a few other real nice ones in there, too, but Artspeak is the one to beat. "If we have a great race and they go on the wire together, I'm thrilled with that. Win or lose I'll be thrilled with that kind of mile." For a look at the entire Meadowlands card, including the four New Jersey Sire Stakes finals, click here. Ken Weingartner  - ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com

Harness racing three-year-old fillies were in action at Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday (May 20). They competed in four divisions of The Stallion Series with each going for a purse of $20,000. Bay Pond Racing's Angel Plus (Scott Zeron) was a wrapped up winner in the first division. The daughter of Quik Pulse Mindale picked up her sixth career win of sixteen starts for trainer Steve Cook. She was the heavy post time favorite, and went on to make every call a winning one, with fractions of :27.1, :56.3, 1:24.1, 1:52.3. It was a lifetime's best performance. Dobre Povedane (Corey Callahan) was second, while Somewhere Fameous (Dave Miller) finished third. The winner paid $3.00. It was a bit of an upset in the second division as Doug Lewis trainee Cover Model (Corey Callahan) went on to a two length win. The daughter of Dragon Again showed tactical early speed from post six, landing in the third spot off the gate. She made her move just past the half, and was able to grind past the race favorite Rumor Mill (Tim Tetrick) for the win. It was the fourth win in her career and the first of the season. She stopped the clock in 1:53.1, a lifetime best. Rumor Mill secured second, while the previously undefeated Repeat Please (Andrew McCarthy) finished third. The winner, owned by Fred Hertrich and CTC Stable's, paid $10.80. Driver Scott Zeron struck again in division three, this time with Ted Gewertz's Apricot Sour. The daughter of Well Said was able to draft in the pocket behind favorite Tucson Breeze (Tim Tetrick) until the head of the stretch. She had to hold off late charges from Alexa Said (Brett Miller) and My Girl Friend (Yannick Gingras) who finished second and third respectively. The Anette Lorentzon trainee now has three lifetime wins out of ten starts. She paced the mile in a life's best 1:55, and paid $5.80. In the final division, Tom Kemp's Mezzanine Fashion (Tim Tetrick) dominated the final half for the victory. The daughter of Well Said drafted in the three spot until the half, when she moved to the outside and easily swept by. She won by three in the end, pacing her mile in a wrapped up 1:53.4. Lean On Yourself (Andy Miller) moved up the passing lane for second, while Official Belle (Scott Zeron) rallied mildly for third. Mezzanine Fashion is now three out of four in the win column this season for trainer Joann Looney-King. She returned $4.00 to win. Michael Bozich

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