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Goshen, NY--Few harness horse breeders have made a larger multi-media splash this year than Crawford Farms of Durhamville, New York.   When top trotters Sebastian K and Market Share line up for this Friday's (August 29) $200,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Vernon, they will score behind the bright red Crawford Farms starting car. And that is just the beginning of the Crawford's omnipresence. Driven by a passion for the sport, and a desire to help harness racing prosper, the Crawford's have sponsored this season's Meadowlands Pace, Kindergarten Classic and the aforementioned Crawford Farms Trot, formerly the Credit Winner. In addition to vast purse support, they have recently completed a state-of-the-art equine therapeutic spa, 40-stall barn, and a 6-gate horse exerciser at their central New York breeding & racing operation. Their hearts and minds are 'all-in' this game; for their farm and for the future of the Standardbred. Michelle and Albert Crawford have undoubtedly jumped-in with both feet, and provided a much-needed push to a somewhat hesitant industry. "We love this business," noted Albert, son of the late Jim Crawford who was the affable former president of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. "My wife and I are committed to breeding top horses in New York State and supporting the industry in the process. We know that it is an uphill battle, but we are digging in for the long haul!" From the second-story Crawford Farms mural at The Meadowlands to the upcoming Red Mile Grand Circuit meet where the water trucks will bear the farm's iconic insignia, racing fans are constantly reminded of the dynamic duo's substantial commitment to the sport. Evident across multiple digital platforms, the Crawford's are very active on social media and have produced and broadcast several TV commercials. This weekend is no exception. With the $400,000 Zweig Trot also this Friday, renovations to the farm have reached a feverish pace this month in preparation for their inaugural Open House on Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. The team is eager to show the sport the fruits of their labor. "Our yearlings are ready and we hope to draw a large crowd of horse people for some food and refreshments while they evaluate our stock," exclaimed Michelle Crawford, who provides much of the spark in the engine around the farm. "My crew has really stepped up over these past few weeks to make this facility 'show ready' for the upcoming affair," the hostess added with a proud smile. The farm, which was founded in 1966 by Jim and Patricia Crawford, continues to be a family affair. The 100-acre nursery has continued to expand not only their footprint, but also their broodmare band. Last year Crawford Farm was the leading major consignor at the Morrisville Sale and will bring nine yearlings back to that venue on Sept. 21. In addition, they have ten yearlings consigned to the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, including two selling on opening night, Sept. 30. While the yearlings were being videotaped, it was 'all hands on deck' and all feet had running shoes. Al, Michelle, Jim Jr., and even matriarch Pat participated in the 35th annual running of the babies. Albert stated, "This is the day we get to really see what we have. It's exciting, but a little nerve-racking too." When they are not prepping yearlings, Michelle and Al own and operate one of the most successful healthcare lending institutions in the nation, Bankers Healthcare Group. In fact, BHG was ranked as the 5th Fastest Growing Private Company by Inc. Formed in 1992 from a modest group of four finance experts, BHG now employs close to 200. It appears that growth and commitment are not just a mission statement, it is a Crawford way of life. by Chris Tully

Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 15 – 8/26/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (28) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 342 1 2 Sweet Lou (7) 5ph 13-10-1-1 $934,700 321 2 3 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 256 3 4 He’s Watching 3pc 8-5-1-1 $692,247 239 4 5 Father Patrick 3tc 8-6-1-0 $530,001 183 5 6 McWicked 3pc 11-7-3-0 $728,271 124 6 7 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 8-8-0-0 $248,598 102 7 8 JK Endofanera 3pc 10-6-2-1 $660,709 62 8 9 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 52 10 10 Mission Brief 2tf 6-4-0-0 $255,775 50 9 Also: Dancin Yankee (32), Classic Martine (31), Shake It Cerry (25), Lifetime Pursuit (24), Artspeak (19), Yankee Bounty (17), JK She’salady (9), Market Share (8), Modern Family (7), Rocklamation (6), Somewhere In L A (5), Centurion ATM, Sometimes Said (3), Archangel, I Like My Boss (2), All Bets Off (1). Compiled by Ken Weingartner for Harness Racing Communications

While Father Patrick dropped from second to fifth place in this week's Top Ten Poll, Sebastian K remains a very firm #1 with 29 of 35 first place votes. The other six first place votes went to Sweet Lou.  Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 14 – 8/19/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (29) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 343 1 2 Sweet Lou (6) 5ph 12-9-1-1 $916,500 313 2 3 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 252 4 4 He’s Watching 3pc 8-5-1-1 $692,247 238 5 5 Father Patrick 3tc 8-6-1-0 $530,001 199 3 6 McWicked 3pc 11-7-3-0 $728,271 133 6 7 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 8-8-0-0 $248,598 95 7 8 JK Endofanera 3pc 10-6-2-1 $660,709 64 10 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 60 9 10 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 54 8 Also: Dancin Yankee (31), Shake It Cerry (26), Classic Martine (23), Yankee Bounty (16), Lifetime Pursuit, Rocklamation (14), Artspeak (12), Market Share (8), Modern Family (7), Centurion ATM (6), Somewhere In LA (5), Archangel, Sometimes Said (3), JK She’salady, Somwherovrarainbow (2), All Bets Off, I Like My Boss (1). Compiled by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Freehold, NJ --- Three-year-old filly pacer Sandbetweenurtoes improved to 8-for-8 this season and moved from No. 10 to seventh in this week’s harness racing Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sandbetweenurtoes won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and was the only horse in the Top 10 to improve its position from last week. The top six remained unchanged, with older male trotter Sebastian K holding onto the No. 1 spot, followed by older male pacer Sweet Lou. Sebastian K, who was idle, and Sweet Lou, who won the Dan Patch Invitational, were the only horses receiving first-place votes, with Sweet Lou adding two to his total from last week. Trotters Father Patrick and Trixton were next in the poll, followed by Empire Breeders Classic winner He’s Watching. McWicked, who won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, was sixth. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 13 – 8/12/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (29) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 343 1 2 Sweet Lou (6) 5ph 12-9-1-1 $916,500 312 2 3 Father Patrick 3tc 7-6-0-0 $520,992 245 3 4 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 244 4 5 He’s Watching 3pc 8-5-1-1 $692,247 220 5 6 McWicked 3pc 10-7-2-0 $654,271 157 6 7 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 8-8-0-0 $248,598 82 T10 8 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 62 8 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 57 9 10 JK Endofanera 3pc 9-5-2-1 $633,673 52 7 Also: Shake It Cerry (35), Classic Martine (34), Rocklamation (15), Centurion ATM, Lifetime Pursuit, Yankee Bounty (9), Artspeak, Market Share (8), Modern Family (7), Intimidate (5), Archangel (4), Dancin Yankee, Somewhere In L A (3), I Like My Boss, Sometimes Said (1). by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

The young hipsters dressed to the nines sipping cocktails while lounging on rooftop patio furniture was the first indication this was not your granddaddy's Hambletonian. That it was a surprisingly pleasant overcast August afternoon, and not a sauna, was another. In the end, the track belonged to imported Swedes -- Jimmy Takter and Ake Svanstedt, especially -- along with Ron Burke, of course. But the day? That belonged to the gleaming new $88 million grandstand that thrummed with youthful energy and passed its first big test with aplomb. Track owner Jeff Gural was pleased and, naturally, couldn't resist an "I told you so" dig at his critics. "I think if you go back to the weekend we opened, I think if you look at some of the blogs, they were all critical, 'Gural's an idiot. The place is much too small. What's he going to do for theMeadowlands Pace and Hambletonian?' We saw the place is just perfect. It was designed exactly right," he said of a building about a third the size of the behemoth across the pond. Give the man his due. On this Hambletonian, he wasn't wrong. The crowd, estimated at 20,700,was thick -- particularly in the new version of Paddock Pack now called The Backyard -- but not impenetrable. The queues -- for pari-mutuel or more ordinary refreshment -- moved withimpressive speed given the volume. The on-track wagering wasn't as strong as the Nouveau Big M folks would have liked to have seen, mind you, but then the young kids don't bet like their granddaddies, either. It's the cost of trying to introduce the business to a generation to which harness racing is as foreign as rumble seats. But out there in our hyper-connected world, from Hackensack to Helsinki to Sydney the bets poured in. With a few countries still to be heard from, the expectation is that the haul will be about $1 million higher than last year. The total handle of more than $8.7 million is already the third best Hambletonian Day in history and foreign wagering could still push this year's number to the top spot, exceeding some $9 million bet in 2005. "That's impressive in this day and age," Gural said. "That's a tribute to the card. We had full fields, a couple of big fields, almost all the major stars were there with the exception of the three-year-old (pacing) colts. But on the trotting side, we got a little lucky with Father Patrick drawing the 10-hole. It wasn't a walkover, as it turned out." The Ãber trotter, bet down to 2-5 despite starting from parking lot, was part of Takter's Terrific Trio instrumental in scaring off challengers in the main event and leaving the Hambletonian heatless just one year after returning to its old format. That Father Patrick made a jump at the gate immediately made for some interesting drama whether you watched on the huge high-definition infield screen from one of the outdoor grandstand seats or in the hinterland via the spectacular show on the CBS Sports Network that employed 13 cameras to great effect, including a wide-angle mounted on the starting gate. Takter's intact duo of Trixton and Nuncio got the job done, of course, with a neck-and-neck stretch battle to boot. When the stone dust finally settled, Takter celebrated his first Hambletonian victory in the bike (and third lifetime), nipping John Campbell for what would have been his seventh triumph in harness racing's premier race. You needed a cab ride to reach the rest of the field scattered by three breakers, which was particularly disheartening to driver Yannick Gingras and the rest of Father Patrick's connections. That it was likely Gingras' greatest day at the track was little consolation for the Quebec native who won four stakes -- including the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit -- and just shy of $600,000 in purses in all, but was crest fallen about losing the big one. "It's probably the best day I've had racing horses but it's also the most disappointing day. I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before, and I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for it. The gate opened, I just touched him on his tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance, but you never know," Gingras told the ubiquitous Bob Heyden, one of the few things about the new place that thankfully was not traded in for a newer model on Hambletonian Day. That Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame was tabbed to present harness racing's Stanley Cup to Takter and Co. speaks to that youth movement again -- unless you're referring to that glorious silver bowl that now has 90 of the sport's greatest trotters inscribed in silver discs on its wedding cake base. Dear Lord, let's hope no one ever entertains trading that in for a newer model, because newer isn't always better. Progress isn't always positive. Sorely missed in the new digs is the old front paddock that radiated with equine and human stars and served as the annual meeting place for the sport's far-flung powerbrokers on Hambletonian Day. The signs that once hung above the stalls on the facade of the old place honouring each of the Hambletonian winners since the race moved to New Jersey in 1981 seem out of place now lining the infield. Try as they might, even the Copacabana rum girls sporting huge feather headdresses and littleelse other than smiles, didn't make up for the loss. Though, they were a nice touch along with the fathead driver cutouts seen throughout the day, the appearance by Captain Bill Wichrowski from the Discovery Channel's show Deadliest Catch and old style pennants each bearing the name of a Hambletonian finalist. The bridge from old to new was the free Hambletonian hats, The Nerds bashing out loud, enthusiastic covers in the park and the track itself, of course, which yielded three more world record performances. "I've been coming to the Hambletonian since 1960's when it was staged in DuQuoin [IL], and appreciated its growth and renewed pageantry when it moved to New Jersey in the old grandstand setting. We're working to build on that great tradition.," said Tom Charters president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "In a way it was similar to the first Hambletonian here in 1981 - a new experience entirely. This is a new venue and a wonderful new facility, a new era. We will work with the Meadowlands to establish some new traditions that underscore the Hambletonian's place as America's trotting classic and the most important harness race in the world." Classic Martine got things started in the first race, equaling the world mark for trotting mares with a 1:51.1 score in the $52,000 Ima Lulu Final. Five races later, Mission Brief equaled the global mark for two-year-old trotting fillies with a 1:52.2 score in the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle. Barefoot speedster Sebastian K capped the record-setting parade in race 11 when he equaled the 1:50 record for older trotters while winning the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial the same day Cashman's 14-year-old granddaughter, Grace Cashman, sang the national anthem. None of which -- even the Hambletonian winner -- topped spectacular sightlines from multiple decks, a Hollywood-style sign on the roof that spells out Meadowlands in huge letters and a massive sports bar that transforms into a dance club at night -- all designed to lure the next generation critical for the sport's survival. "Everybody loved it. Everybody thought it was spectacular," said Gural, who is fond of wandering his plant to make himself available to his patrons. "The biggest compliments were from the people that had never been there. If you've never been there, you're really shocked when you pull up to the door." As the start of a new era for harness racing greatest day drew to a close, even the sky brightened and the Manhattan skyline materialized like a mirage out of the haze. The hipsters on the roof barely noticed, what with their iPhones, friends and cocktails to attend to, but the rest of us noticed them all right. They were completely foreign to the old place and a most welcome addition to the club. by Dave Briggs for the Hambletonian Society

Freehold, NJ --- Sweet Lou moved nearer to No. 1 Sebastian K and Trixton pulled into a near dead heat with stablemate Father Patrick in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sebastian K remained in the top spot coming off his world-record-equaling win in last week’s John Cashman Jr. Memorial while Sweet Lou, who won the U.S. Pacing Championship, swapped places with Father Patrick to take over the second slot. Hambletonian winner Trixton vaulted from sixth to fourth, just one point behind Father Patrick. Mission Brief, who equaled the world record in winning the Merrie Annabelle Stakes, and Ima Lula Series winner Classic Martine, who also equaled a world record, joined the Top 10. Mission Brief is ninth while Classic Martine is tied with Sandbetweenurtoes for the final spot. Shake It Cerry dropped out of the Top 10. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 12 – 8/5/2014                                                Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (31) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 344 1 2 Sweet Lou (4) 5ph 11-8-1-1 $791,500 307 3 3 Father Patrick 3tc 7-6-0-0 $520,992 240 2 4 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 239 6 5 He’s Watching 3pc 7-4-1-1 $564,485 207 4 6 McWicked 3pc 9-6-2-0 $618,830 156 5 7 JK Endofanera 3pc 8-5-1-1 $569,792 59 8 8 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 56 10 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 49 -- T10 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 7-7-0-0 $211,157 47 9 T10 Classic Martine 4tm 9-7-0-1 $221,732 47 -- Also: Shake It Cerry (38), Dancin Yankee (37), Rocklamation (18), Centurion ATM (14), Market Share (12), Archangel (11), Intimidate, Lifetime Pursuit (10), Artspeak, Modern Family (7), Yankee Bounty (6), Perfect Alliance (2), Bee A Magician, I Like My Boss (1). Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications Courtesy of the U.S. Trotting Association

Sebastian K and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt showed they can sit a pocket trip and still have plenty left for the finish as they demolished a field of top trotters in capturing the $300,650 John Cashman Final at the Meadowlands Saturday. The time of the race tied the world record of 1:50. Usually Sebastian K has the early gate speed to be on the lead but this time it was driver Yannick Gingras putting the pedal to the metal with Archangel and out leaving Sebastian K to the opening quarter in a quick :26.2. They raced that way past the half mile marker in :54.4 as John Campbell started to come first-over with Mister Herbie but to no avail as Svanstedt pulled on the right line and sent Sebastian K after Archangel by the final turn and they raced as a duo to the three-quarters in 1:22.4. Then it was time to separate the men from the boys and that is what Svanstedt did with Sebastian K, pulling out the ear plugs and his world champion trotted away from the field in the stretch to win by four open lengths. Market Share (Tim Tetrick) closed well to be second with Archangle fading to third place. With is 1:50 clocking, Sebastian K tied the world record over a one mile track that was set last week by Intimidate. “He has been good all year,” said Ake Svanstedt, “Every race this year, he was very good. He (Archangel) leave very fast and he pushed his horse for that and so I take it easy with him. We’re not going to race one month.  We have raced every weekend in four weeks now, so it’s too much for him. He gets a break now." It was the seventh win in just eight starts this year for Sebastian K. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting of Vero Beach, FL and paid $2.60 to win. For Svanstedt, it was his third victory on the program. Sebastian K By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

We have been on a roll as of late with winning weekends the last two weeks. I am confident we can make it three straight winning weeks and never have to leave the Meadowlands. It’s their closing weekend and that mean’s Hambletonian Day, one of the best days of racing in the sport of harness racing this Saturday, headlined of course by the Hambletonian Trot. The card is jamming with top stakes action. The only problem is something we have no control over and that is Mother Nature. I handicapped based on a fast track so here’s hoping the rain either ends early or does not stop until late in the day. Good Luck! $52,000 Trot Ima Lula Final 4YO Mares Meadowlands 1st race SATURDAY – With a serious case of seconditis after her championship season last year, we keep hoping for Bee A Magician to return to her unbeaten form of 2013 but it just isn’t happening. Perhaps they will change tactics here and go back to racing her off the pace and that she will be able take this field. Use Classic Martine and Ma Chere Hall in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Miss New Jersey 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 3rd race SATURDAY – Seems that trainer Jimmy Takter may have solved the previous breaking problems of Gettingreadytoroll off her lifetime mark last week in 1:49.3 and that she is settled down to keeping her mind on business. Repeat of last winning effort will bring home the bacon in here. Use Act Now and Bliztra in exotic plays. $225,000 Pace New Jersey Classic 3YO Colts Meadowlands 4th race SATURDAY – Western Vintage has had a rough 3YO season after many thought he would be one of the leaders in this division after his great two-year-old season. Seems he has not lived up to expectations but should go off the favorite here after decent qualifying win. I’m going with Doo Wop Hanover. He has had good success when not racing against the best in the country, drew well for this and could get the dream two-hole trip to score off of. Use Western Vintage and Bushwacker in exotic plays. $257,700 Pace FFA US Pacing Championship Meadowlands 5th race SATURDAY – Too tough to even consider going against the best pacer in the sport. Sweet Lou is on a seven-race winning streak, last four in less than 1:48 and he is just a pacing machine. He is facing a strong field but he has beaten all of them before and can do it again. Use Captaintreacherous and State Treasurer in exotic plays. $352,050 Trot Merrie Annabelle 2YO Filly Final Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY – This will be an interesting matchup as both Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover have yet to meet and both are hot fillies that race on the front end. Mission Brief gets the call with her blinding early speed but you never know how Gatka Hanover will handle getting a two-hole trip. Use Gatka Hanover and Lock Down Lindy in exotic plays. $355,500 Trot Peter Haughton 2YO Colt Final Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY – It’s interesting that in this final there are four return winners of the ten starters. Ake Svanstedt’s Centurion ATM showed he is the horse to beat after coming off the pace in his elimination race last week and strolling to a 1:54.2 win in just his third lifetime start. Repeat of that mile will make him an easy winner once again. Use Canepa Hanover and Guess Who’s Back in exotic plays. $75,000 Trot FFA Vincennes Invitational Meadowlands 10th race SATURDAY – All the talk was that after Master Of Law won his qualifying race that he was on his way to taking on the best in the country. He lived up to performance with a 1:52 win last time out and now gets really tested against a good field and having to start from post nine. Use Wishing Stone and D’Orsay in exotic plays. $300,650 Trot John Cashman Memorial FFA Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY – Whether it rains or not I think Sebastian K and Ake Svanstedt are too tough to get caught again at the wire. No one can out leave him and unless every horse in the field tries to go first-over against him, he has too much stamina to not hold them off. Use Uncle Peter and Market Share in exotic plays. $500,000 Trot Hambletonian Oaks 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 12th race – Last week in prep race, Ron Pierce and Shake It Cerry held Designed To Be and Brian Sears at bay and were able to win. Now Shake It Cerry starts from second tier in post 11 and won’t be able to dictate early fractions to anyone. I still think that Shake It Cerry will “shake it loose” somehow and find a different way to beat Designed To Be once again. Use Designed To Be and Lifetime Pursuit in exotic plays. $1,066,125 Trot Hambletonian Final 3YO Colts Meadowlands 13th race SATURDAY – Trainer Jimmy Takter has his heart set on finishing one, two, three in harness racing’s most prestigious race and he very well should get what wants as he has the best colts in racing. Father Patrick needs to just overcome starting from post ten as he is seconds faster than the rest of the field. Use Trixton and Nuncio in exotic plays. $177,750 Pace Lady Liberty Final Older Mares Meadowlands 14th race SATURDAY – Was super impressed with the three moves Drop The Ball made for driver Corey Callahan last week in winning elimination race. She will need that gusty performance once again to win the final as Rocklamation will be in the hunt this week. Drop The Ball gets the slim call in here. Use Rocklamation and Somwherovrarainbow in exotic plays.

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

This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Hanover Colt Stakes and Hanover Filly Stakes, Balmoral Park, Crete, Ill; and Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off this Friday (Aug. 1) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt trotters and 2-year-old filly trotters. There will be three $10,000 divisions for the colts and five $10,000 divisions for the fillies. The big Saturday afternoon (Aug. 2) program is led by the $1,006,125 Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $300,650 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, the $177,750 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters. Also on Saturday, Balmoral Park will host the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Sunday (Aug. 3) the Crete oval will feature the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. Tioga Downs on Sunday will feature the $78,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $67,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Confronted by a challenger who would not go away, 1-5 favorite McWicked dug in, blazed the back half in an amazing :53.2 and captured this past Saturday's (July 26) $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light at The Meadows. McWicked held off Somewhere In L A at the wire to win the Delvin Miller Adios. With the 1:49.1 victory, Casie Coleman, who conditions McWicked for S S G Stables, became the first female trainer to win an Adios final in the 48-year-history of this important test for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Leaving from post two, David Miller was able to give McWicked a rather leisurely half in :55.4 on the front. When Brett Miller moved Somewhere In L A uncovered down the backside and the pair looked McWicked in the eye, the battle was on. However, McWicked edged away in deep stretch to triumph in 1:49.1, a length better than his gallant rival. Cammikey was a ground-saving third. With the win, McWicked pushed his career bankroll to $798,447 and extended a prolonged roll that has seen him sweep the eliminations and final of the Max Hempt Memorial and the Adios. Many of the sport's stars were out on Saturday night at The Meadowlands and none were brighter than Archangel who won the first elimination for the John Cashman, Jr. Memorial trot in a world record 1:50. The mile broke a six-way tie for the fastest mile ever by a trotter on a mile track. Yannick Gingras sent the handsome 5-year-old millionaire son of Credit Winner out fast for the lead with a wicked :26.1 opening quarter then set even fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.3 in the record mile. Archangel was a geared down 1-3/4 length winner over Intimidate with Market Share third. Your So Vain and Sevruga rounded out the qualifiers from this elimination for this Saturday's Cashman final. Ron Burke trains the winner for Legendary Standardbred Farm and Claire Semer. Sebastian K was back to his winning ways in the second elimination for Ake Svanstedt with an easy three length score in 1:51. The race began with Creatine flying off the wings from the outside for Mike Lachance and clearing Sebastian K as they reached the quarter in a dazzling :26. The pace slowed abruptly when Lachance took up on the lead and Svanstedt was forced to yank Sebastian K out quickly before Mister Herbie could get the jump on him from third. He got out, though the judges flashed the inquiry sign and reviewed the move, and was back to the top. Sweet Justice mounted a final turn challenge but was rebuffed with a :27.3 final quarter. Mister Herbie split horses late to be second, Uncle Peter was third in his return to US soil, Appomattox a solid fourth and Arch Madness captured the final berth in this week's race. The winner is trained in the Svanstedt barn for Knutsson Trotting and was winning for the sixth time this year in seven tries. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 509; 2. Tim Tetrick - 443; 3. Ron Pierce - 307; 4t. Brian Sears - 205; 4t. David Miller - 205. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 884.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 444; 3t. PJ Fraley - 189; 3t. Ray Schnittker - 189; 5. Joe Holloway - 154. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 206.75; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 188; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. S S G Stables - 80. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at The Meadows with the Currier & Ives for 3-year-old colt trotters; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for older pacers; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 11 – 7/29/2014                                              Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (30) 8th 7-6-1-0 $352,278 341 1 2 Father Patrick (2) 3tc 6-6-0-0 $510,931 302 2 3 Sweet Lou (3) 5ph 10-7-1-1 $662,650 285 3 4 He’s Watching 3pc 6-3-1-1 $558,235 223 4 5 McWicked 3pc 9-6-2-0 $618,830 167 6 6 Trixton 3tc 8-6-1-1 $283,855 147 5 7 Shake It Cerry 3tf 7-6-0-1 $234,838 98 8 8 JK Endofanera 3pc 7-5-0-1 $566,667 85 7 9 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 7-7-0-0 $211,157 70 9 10 Nuncio 3tc 7-5-2-0 $342,003 59 10 Also: Dancin Yankee (46), Archangel (18), Bee A Magician (14), Perfect Alliance (13), Market Share (10), Classic Martine, Intimidate, Mission Brief, Modern Family (7), Yankee Bounty (6), Rocklamation (4), Artspeak (3), Bettor’s Edge (2), Clear Vision, I Like My Boss, Somwherovrarainbow, Your So Vain (1). Complied by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Comunications 

SEBASTIAN K WINS CASHMAN ELIM WITH EASE

Intimidate followed his most lackluster performance of the year with a stunning victory in the Maple Leaf Trot last weekend and trainer Luc Blais is hopeful the 5-year-old trotter can keep the momentum going in Saturday's first of two eliminations for the John Cashman Jr. Memorial at the Meadowlands. The Cashman, formerly known as the Nat Ray, attracted 15 horses, including world champion Sebastian K. The top five from two $50,000 eliminations will advance to the $300,650 final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, at the Big M. It is an accomplished group, with Sebastian K being history's fastest trotter and 10 of the remaining horses having won at least one Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, or Trotting Triple Crown race. Intimidate, who won the 2012 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters and the 2013 Credit Winner, edged previously unbeaten Sebastian K by a nose to win the Maple Leaf in 1:54.2 on a sloppy track. Intimidate was 47-1. "It was an amazing feeling again," said Blais, who trains Intimidate for Serge Godin's Determination stable and Judith Farrow. Blais and Farrow bred the son of stallion Justice Hall and mare Fabulous Tag. "That (Maple Leaf) was an amazing win. "He was just so-so in the elimination but came back good. I think Sylvain Filion gave him a perfect drive. I think everything was perfect that night. At that level, you need everything perfect." Intimidate finished fifth in his Maple Leaf elimination, losing 3-1/2 lengths in the stretch, but Blais says the horse was still feeling the effects of a quarter-crack on a front foot. "I think the foot wasn't right-right," said Blais, a native of Quebec. "We worked very much on his foot and the quarter-crack looked better (in the Maple Leaf final). That's time. You need time to repair that. Now he looks sound. I don't know if he's a hundred percent, but he looks better than before, that's for sure." Intimidate has won three of seven races this season and earned $326,070. For his career, he has won 24 of 36 starts and banked $923,628. His only off-the-board finishes this year came in his Maple Leaf elim and in the final of the Cutler Memorial, where he had a three-wide trip. "I think in the Cutler we had no luck," Blais said. "After that he came back and won the preferred at Mohawk. He hasn't raced a bad race, except maybe the elimination of the Maple Leaf. That was the only race that I think wasn't right." Ron Pierce will drive Intimidate on Saturday night, leaving from post four as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line. Market Share, from post one, is the 8-5 favorite. The remainder of the field, from the inside, is Your So Vain, Spider Blue Chip, Sevruga, Archangel, and Royalty For Life. The second division, from the rail, is Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone, Sweet Justice, Uncle Peter, Sebastian K, Appomattox, Arch Madness, and Creatine. The group has five Breeders Crown trophies (Uncle Peter, Arch Madness, Intimidate, Spider Blue Chip, and Market Share), four Maple Leaf Trot titles (Arch Madness, Mister Herbie, Market Share, and Intimidate), two Hambletonian triumphs (Market Share and Royalty For Life), two Kentucky Futurity wins (Wishing Stone and Creatine) and one Yonkers Trot (Archangel). "That's a nice bunch of horses this year," Blais said. "The competition is very high level. I think that's good for the game; it's good for the show. People want to see that." Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes a $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks prep for 3-year-old female trotters and $40,000 single elimination for the Lady Liberty for older female pacers. Nine of the 11 fillies entered in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, which is Aug. 2, will compete in Saturday's prep. Ten mares are in the Lady Liberty elimination, with Rocklamation receiving a bye to next week's final. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

This Week: Delvin Miller Adios final, Adioo Volo and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.; John Cashman Jr. Memorial, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial and Merrie Annabelle eliminations, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit actions kicks off this Friday (July 25) at The Meadows with four divisions in the $80,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt trotters and three divisions in the $60,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (July 26) card at The Meadows features the $400,000 Delvin Miller Adios final and $30,000 Adios consolation for 3-year-old colt pacers, a single division in the $114,175 Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, three divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt pacers, two divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly pacers, two divisions in the $65,310 Arden Downs for 3-year-old colt trotters and two divisions in the $54,952 Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters. Meadowlands Racetrack will offer four sets of elimination races this week, with all the finals slated for the Hambletonian card of Saturday (Aug. 2). On Friday, the Meadowlands will host two $20,000 eliminations in the Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters and a single $20,000 elimination in the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters. On Saturday the program will feature two $50,000 eliminations in the John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters and a single $40,000 elimination in the Lady Liberty for older pacing mares. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Intimidate, trained by Luc Blais and driven by Sylvain Filion, pulled off a 45-1 upset over the heavily favored Sebastian K in the $560,790 Maple Leaf Trot this past Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack. Intimidate won the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose over Sebastian K. Sent postward as the 1-5 favorite, Sebastian K got away in second behind post ten starter Modern Family who was sent hard to the lead over the 'sloppy' track to post an opening quarter of :26.4. In the second quarter, trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt sent Sebastian K to the lead and controlled the race through the middle half with fractions of :57.3 and 1:26.4. Intimidate got away in sixth and picked up cover in the second quarter behind Flanagan Memory and was towed around the final turn second-over and just a few lengths away from Sebastian K. In the stretch, Sebastian K continued to dig in and tried to hold off his challengers, but Intimidate in the final stride nailed the heavy favorite to win the 63rd edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in 1:54.2. Market Share, the 2013 Maple Leaf Trot winner, came off the rail and made a late charge on the far outside to finish third. The Maple Leaf Trot victory was the third win in seven starts this season for Intimidate, a 5-year-old son of Justice Hall-Fabulous Tag, owned by Determination and Judith Farrow. In other Grand Circuit action over the weekend, Clear Vision broke the Northfield Park track record for older pacing geldings, posting a 1:49.3 win in the 29th edition of the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie. Clear Vision (Western Hanover-Artistic Vision) is owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, The Panhellenic Stable and James Koran. He is trained by Ron Burke, who called upon Brett Miller to drive. Clear Vision started from post four and immediately advanced a position when Bolt The Duer made an uncharacteristic break to his inside. He was still sitting third at the :26.2 opening quarter. Miller pulled Clear Vision in the second panel and he remained first-over through times of :54.2 and 1:22. Clear Vision locked horns with pacesetter Night Pro in the last turn and bested him by two lengths in the stretch, stopping the timer at 1:49.3. Foiled Again finished third. In The Arsenal (Eric Goodell) never had an anxious moment this past Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $125,000 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace in 1:56.4. In the Arsenal opened 2-3/4 lengths on the field in and out of the final turn. A pocketed Rock N' Roll World cosmetically cut the final margin down to three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4. Third went to a stubborn Parklane Eagle. Second choice In the Arsenal, a White Birch Farm homebred son of American Ideal-Ladyotra trained by Kelvin Harrison, returned $6.30 for his second win in three seasonal/career starts. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 437; 2. Tim Tetrick - 434; 3. Ron Pierce - 292; 4. Brian Sears - 205; 5. George Brennan - 174.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 767.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 397; 3. PJ Fraley - 189; 4. Ray Schnittker - 184; 5. Joe Holloway - 152. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 177.8; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 160.3; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. Brad Grant - 79.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Meadowlands Racetrack, Balmoral Park and Tioga Downs. Meadowlands Racetrack will host nine Grand Circuit events, led by the $1.2 million Hambletonian, the first leg of Trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Balmoral Park will contest Hanover Stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters. Tioga Downs will race Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit        

Arch Madness wasn't ill, but a victory in a conditioned handicap at Harrah's Philadelphia last week might have been just what the doctor ordered. Now the 10-year-old gelding is returning to competition against the continent's best older trotters as he heads to Saturday's eliminations for the John Cashman Jr. Memorial at the Meadowlands. The Cashman, formerly known as the Nat Ray, attracted 15 horses. The top five from two $50,000 eliminations will advance to the $300,650 final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, at the Big M. Among the entrants are world champion Sebastian K, Maple Leaf Trot winner Intimidate, two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, and 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life. Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes a $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks prep for 3-year-old female trotters and $40,000 single elimination for the Lady Liberty for older female pacers. Nine of the 11 fillies entered in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, which is Aug. 2, will compete in Saturday's prep. Ten mares are in the Lady Liberty elimination, with Rocklamation receiving a bye to next week's final. Arch Madness, who skipped the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario, enters his Cashman elim with one win in eight starts this season. Lifetime, he has won 35 of 115 races and earned $4.22 million, good for sixth place among all trotters in history and second to only Moni Maker among trotters that raced the majority of their careers in North America. "It's always nice to get an easy win in a horse," Trond Smedshammer said about Arch Madness' three-length victory in 1:52.2 at Harrah's Philadelphia on July 16. "That's the best medicine for a horse, winning. I was very happy about that decision [not to go to the Maple Leaf Trot]. It worked out good. "You can't ask him to go everywhere; he's 10 years old. Canada was an easy decision to leave out." Arch Madness (a son of Balanced Image-Armbro Archer) was winless in two races at age 2, but won at least one race worth more than $170,000 in six of the next seven years. His top triumphs came in the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-olds, 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, 2011 Oslo Grand Prix, 2010 Cutler Memorial, 2009 Credit Winner, and 2013 Allerage Open Trot. He finished second in the Elitlopp in 2012 and 2013. He also finished second twice in the Breeders Crown Open, in 2008 and 2009, and twice in the Maple Leaf Trot, in 2009 and 2011. "Arch is pretty much the same as he's been previous years," said Smedshammer, who trains the horse for owners Marc Goldberg and Willow Pond LLC. "It doesn't seem like he's lost much, it's just the competition is tougher. It's been brutally tough, especially [Sebastian K]. "I haven't been too worried about it because later in the year when the others seem to be getting tired, he usually gets better," Smedshammer added. Arch Madness will start from post seven in the second of the two Cashman eliminations. To his inside from the rail are Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone, Sweet Justice, Uncle Peter, Sebastian K, and Appomattox. To his outside is Creatine. The first division, from post one, is Market Share, Your So Vain, Spider Blue Chip, Intimidate, Sevruga, Archangel, and Royalty For Life. It is an accomplished group, with Sebastian K being history's fastest trotter and 10 of the remaining horses having won at least one Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, or Trotting Triple Crown race. They have five Breeders Crown trophies (Uncle Peter, Arch Madness, Intimidate, Spider Blue Chip, and Market Share), four Maple Leaf Trot titles (Arch Madness, Mister Herbie, Market Share, and Intimidate), two Hambletonian triumphs (Market Share and Royalty For Life), two Kentucky Futurity wins (Wishing Stone and Creatine) and one Yonkers Trot (Archangel). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

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