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Harness Racing aficionados will be licking their lips at the thought of next Saturday night’s four-year-old entires and geldings’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final after tonight’s semis and barrier draw. Heat winners Ideal For Real and Tee Cee Bee Macray have drawn five and 13 respectively, while reigning Vicbred champ and horse of the year Menin Gate, a fierce warrior when in front, has drawn well in barrier three. Murranji Track in gate two has good gate speed and can run along also, so he will surely create headaches for speed mappers. Tee Cee Bee Macray was ultra-impressive in winning his heat tonight, and while barrier 13 is never ideal, he does his best work when winding up with a big finish. Trained by Alan Tubbs, Tee Cee Bee Macray (Ponder/Way Mya Macray) sprinted powerfully through the final 400m to overhaul pacemaker Solarsonic in the run to the line. Driven by Greg Sugars, Tee Cee Bee Macray rated 1:56.9. “There’s a lot of depth in the (four-year-old) field … but he’s very fast,” Sugars said. “He’s a very good horse.” The win clearly meant plenty for the Tubbs team, who received plenty of congratulations trackside. Ideal For Real (American Ideal/Tamara Hall) was also super-impressive, the Emma Stewart-trained star winning its 10th race from 18 starts with a 1:56.2 run to score by 14.2m over runner-up Sevens Hope with Mister Wickham third. Despite the ease of the win and the high expectations being placed on Ideal For Real, Lang said the entire still had a bit to learn. “He’s got to learn to go straight or he’ll have to cover more ground than the others … he’ll get beat doing that,” he said. “He’s got a good record but it won’t be an easy race next week.” The continued dominance of the Emma Stewart stable was on full display in the four-year-old mares’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-finals tonight. The Smythes Creek trainer qualified five mares for next Saturday night’s final, giving her almost half the field. Stewart-trained Starburst Girl (barrier two for the final), Brighty Valentine (three), Lovelist (seven), Delight Me (nine) and Stay And Play (11) will all line up in the big dance. Delight Me (Bettor's Delight/Cornsilk) impressively won her semi-final with Gavin Lang in the sulky, defeating stablemates Lovelist and Starburst Girl in the first semi-final, working wide in the run before finding the line strongly. Stay And Play (Live Or Die/Play Ball) posted a mile rate of 1:56.2 in her 8.3m win over Snip Of Grand in the second semi-final, with third placegetter Brighty Valentine also hailing from the Stewart stable.   Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Mares Final barrier draw 1: Diamond Castle 2: Starburst Girl 3: Brighty Valentine 4: Soho Tokyo 5: Boadiceas Fury 6: Snip Of Grand 7: Lovelist 8: Glory Daze 9: Delight Me 10: Morton Plains 11: Stay And Play 12: Keayang Mercedes (em) 13: Miss Dreaming Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Entires & Geldings Final barrier draw 1: Repeat After Me 2: Murranji Track 3: Menin Gate 4: Sevens Hope 5: Ideal For Real 6: Lucky Lombo 7: Mister Wickham 8: Solarsonic 9: Stagger Lee 10: Soynwasabi 11: Rule Of Thumb (em) 12: Blacknbrown 13: Tee Cee Bee Macray ............................................................................................................................................................................... Tingira Beach has emerged a frontrunner in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series' two-year-old colts and geldings for New South Wales team Shane and Lauren Tritton, dominating his semi-final and drawing well. Things only got better for the Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Western Tingira after he won his class's second semi-final by 12.9m, having then drawn barrier four in the final. Conversely, fellow semi-final winner Jilliby Kung Fu will start from barrier 12 and will have to do things the hard way in the final on Saturday, July 2. Lauren Tritton, driver of Tingira Beach, warned there was more improvement to come from her colt, who found the front and comfortably beat highly-fancied Victorians Our Little General and Wrappers Delight into second and third place. “(Tingira Beach) is still really green, he still had a look around, but tonight he raced a lot better," Tritton said post-win. "He still had a good look around in the race and was on and off the bit. Next week he might run a bit better and could get the best of them." Tritton said Tingira Beach's favourable draw, albeit with Geoff Webster's Wrappers Delight inside her, would not be a huge factor. “He’s very versatile and the barrier doesn’t really mean much too him," Tritton said. "He hasn’t got that much gate speed in him, it’s always good to draw a good barrier but that’s not much of a worry.” It could be a worry for Jilliby Kung Fu, though the talented Terang colt is only too happy to run them down from behind. In his semi-final, Jilliby Kung Fu found the front and, though he “gets a bit lonely out there on his own”, according to driver Jason Lee, he had enough of a buffer to win by 2.5m from Geoff Webster’s fast-finishing Misterfreeze. The two-year-old colt by Four Starzzz Shark out of Slip Slop Slap, trained at Terang by Marg Lee, produced a fifth win in 10 starts when from barrier 10 he looped the field to find the front. “I think he’s a better chaser and I probably got a bit of itchy feet and thought I should jump around to the front, but he didn’t really want to go on with the job,” Jason Lee said. “He had a little bit left in the tank.” Misterfreeze kept him close company at Tabcorp Park Melton in the semi-finals and Somebeachshadow, trained by Craig Demmler and driven by Jodi Quinlan, surprised with a third placing having started a $59 shot.   Barrier draws: Two-year-old colts and geldings pacers 1: Wrappers Delight 2: Ruthless Armbro 3: Misterfreeze 4: Tingira Beach 5: Form Analyst (emg) 6: Island Specialmajor 7: Canada Bay 8: Our Little General 9: Bundy Playboy 10: Albarock 11: Somebeachshadow 12: Jilliby Kung Fu 13: Classic Maker (ODM) Cody Winnell & Michael Howard

Burrumbeet harness racing trainer-driver Michael Stanley looks a leading light in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies, winning one heat and placing in the other. Petacular, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Ideal Priority, was outstanding in coming from last to first to win the first semi-final, while stablemate Soho Angel ran second in the second semi-final. And Soho Angel is well-placed for a significant crack at next Saturday night’s final, drawing barrier two with Petacular to start on her back from barrier nine. It capped a great night for Stanley, whose six runners all qualified for the July 2 super series’ finals. Petacular had to work hard for her win, taken back from barrier 13 the front runners were able to lead with comfort, requiring a super effort by Stanley to run down Emma Stewart’s pair Our Celebrity and Perfect Sense. “The race probably didn’t pan out ideally, easy lead time and easy first quarter, but (Petacular) has got a bit of toughness and class about her and did the job nicely,” Stanley said. And, he said, she was improving all the time. “You only have to look at her to know she hasn’t filled out and has a lot of growing to do,” he said. “I’m sure whatever she does this year she can go with it next year.” He was starved of training a fillies double by Flying Moth, who won the second semi-final with driver Damian Wilson for Moama trainer Tony Peacock. By Art Major out of Moody Moth, Flying Moth had the leader’s (Keayang Secret) back and when Jason Lee’s frontrunner tired Wilson dove down the sprint lane to get a sniff of a win amid a tight finish. Soho Angel made a big run outside and Valbarann loomed up on the pegs, but Flying Moth nudged clear to win by a head and a neck for her thrilled connections. “She lacks a little bit of high speed but she does give her best when she’s right,” Wilson said. “The other heat looked like the stronger heat, but she is in there with a fighting chance and with a good draw we will see what happens.”   Barrier draws: Two-year-old fillies pacers 1: Keayang Secret 2: Soho Angel 3: Emoji 4: Perfect Sense 5: Valbarann 6: Artara 7: Flying Moth 8: Wongalea Jatz 9: Petacular 10: Six Elements 11: Chic Boutique 12: Atusa (emg) 13: Our Celebrity   Michael Howard

Twelve months after his extraordinary domination of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series, picking up a Group 1 three-peat, Shelbourne harness racing trainer Larry Eastman says he could only dream of achieving similar this time around. "It brings back a bit of deja vu but up until this time last year of course we'd only won the one Group 1 race, so we're under no illusions. To be honest I was just happy we were a part of it last year," Eastman said. The horseman takes three horses into tomorrow night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton, in-form gelding Iceenothink and reigning Vicbred champs Morton Plains and Menin Gate. Speaking firstly about last season’s star three-year-old and Victorian Horse of the Year, Menin Gate, Eastman is pleased with the recent progress of the classy son of Somebeachsomewhere/Dreams Of Heaven. “All the signs are good. Everything’s gone to plan so far,” he said. “I liken it to this time last year. He was a shade off his top, then into the semi, then at his top for the final.” Menin Gate is $3 second-favourite with TAB.com.au for Race 7 at Melton tomorrow night, with Alan Tubbs-trained Tee Cee Bee Macray ($2.20 favourite) and Emma Stewart-trained Solarsonic ($3.50) also among the market’s top contenders. Menin Gate, who at three won the Breeders Crown and Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals, the Queensland and Gold Coast derbies and the Victoria Derby, is usually an on-pace runner and he takes a power of beating when he finds the front. Tomorrow night he’s drawn gate 10. Quizzed for his view on tactics Eastman replied: “It’s all tempo-related, but I obviously just leave it up to Chris Alford.” At both his runs this time in Menin Gate has finished second, behind Solarsonic and then Ideal For Real last start. CHECK OUT ALL THE FIXED ODDS FOR VICBRED SEMI-FINAL NIGHT Eastman’s talented son of Art Major/Decethree Lombo, Iceenothink, will fly the stable flag in the male three-year-old division this year, drawing gate four for tomorrow night’s second semi-final (Race 5). “He’s been a bit of an unassuming horse, just gradually progressing along. He’s a nice three-year-old and he’s shown the signs that he can go on to another level, too,” said Eastman. “He’ll just keep on getting better and I think he’ll make a very handy four-year-old.” Eastman’s other runner, Morton Plains (Bettors Delight/Dont Answer That), goes into her four-year-old mares’ first semi-final with just one run this time in under her belt. She finished third in her Super Series heat at Shepparton on June 17, 3.3m behind Vapar Grin. “I was rapt with her run at Shepparton. She raced a bit fresh but was really strong to the line. It’s a big ask going into this with just the one run but she had trialled up before the first-up run and she’s on the way up.” Cody Winnell

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 18... Pure Country, driven by Brett Miller, showed she has off-the-pace power when she captured the $438,000 Fan Hanover final for harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday evening at Mohawk Racetrack, part of the Pepsi North America Cup undercard. The Jimmy Takter pupil followed mid-pack as elimination winner Good Will Hanover laid down fractions of :26.1, :54.3 for the half and 1:22.2 for three-quarters. Into the final turn, a first-up Lindwood Beachgirl put pressure on the tempo-setter as Newborn Sassy followed second-over. Pure Country, the 2-1 favourite, found live third-over flow after being shuffled back to seventh. Pure Country angled off cover at the head of the lane, and once the pacing miss was fed open racetrack, she marched past her foes to capture the rich final in a new lifetime mark of 1:49.3. Darlinonthebeach finished second, one length behind the victress. L A Delight got up for third. "There is nothing better than owning and breeding, and then ending up winning one of these races like this," said Diamond Creek Racing's Adam Bowden. "He [Brett Miller] was third-over coming off the final turn. She looked like she was full of pace and I was confident." Pure Country notched her second victory of the season and 12th lifetime. With the win, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere and Western Montana earns millionaire status, lifting her career earnings to $1,178,953 for owner/breeder Diamond Creek Racing. Pure Country paid $6.10 to win. Mark McKelvie

Training and driving combination Kerry Ann Turner and Robbie Morris admit it has been a different week with their talented three year old Charlaval leading into Saturday's Alabar Breeders Challenge semi finals. With so much hype around Our Waikiki Beach and the expectation that he would win the Group 1 final on Sunday June 26, Charlaval was only expected to be a realistic place chance in the series. However with drama surrounding Our Waikiki Beach and his late nomination leading to the Mark Purdon trained gelding being named second emergency in both of the semi finals, Morris believes there are now nine possible winning hopes including Charlaval. Should Our Waikiki Beach squeeze into the series with two scratchings, the son of Somebeachsomewhere will regain his spot as the likely series winner and Morris is feeling for Purdon and the unbeaten gelding's owners. "Nominating late is something that happens to all stables and you never like seeing it," Morris said. "I feel for Mark and the team, Our Waikiki Beach is the best horse in the series, his record speaks for itself and there is still a chance he could get into the semi finals but we have to treat everything as we normally would, the show must go on." Charlaval won the Simpson Memorial in January when he ran 1:52.3 and since then has recorded four more victories including a heat of the Alabar Breeders Challenge at Newcastle. "He qualified for the semi finals as a two year old and unfortunately finished seventh in his semi final, hopefully this year he will progress through to the final because I think if Our Waikiki Beach doesn't get a start then the final will be wide open. "He's come on as a three year old and I think he really took the next step when he won the Simpson Memorial. His Breeders Challenge heat win at Newcastle was very good too because he has never been a genuine leader but still managed to get the job done. "Charlaval ran second behind Arma The Gun in a heat at Menangle but he drew the inside of the second row and Brad Hewitt drove a perfect race to win. My bloke was only going three quarter pace for the majority of the race and it was the perfect lead up to Saturday night." The son of Four Starzzz Shark is raced by Daniel Cordina and the Turner and Morris combination have qualified a horse raced by Cordina for a Breeders Challenge final in the past. "Blissfull Guy was a great horse for Daniel and Kerry Ann, I drove him in the two and three year old finals of the Breeders Challenge and he placed in both of them. "Daniel is a great supporter of both of us and it would great to see him get another runner in a Group 1 event." Morris will drive the gelding aggressively on Saturday night from the good draw. "With the emergencies out we will come out of gate four and he has got pretty good gate speed so I think I can get across at the start. "In previous years the three year old series has been over the longer trip of 2400 metres but this year the race is back to the mile. I like the longer races because the mile racing tends to be less forgiving. Over the short trip, gate speed and barriers are vital." Charlaval will compete in the first of the Alabar Breeders Challenge Semi Finals for three year old colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20pm. Greg Hayes

Manalapan, NJ --- When male pacer Blood Line kicked off Monday's qualifiers for 2-year-olds at Gaitway Farm with a sharp 1:54.2 win on a 60-degree morning with a gusty breeze, it certainly got the attention of his harness racing trainer, Jimmy Takter. "That's a serious mile today," Takter said after watching Yannick Gingras guide Blood Line to victory in his career debut. "I would say that's like a (1):52-and-a-piece mile. You're not going to see too many go faster than him today." As it turned out, no mile went faster among the 2-year-olds in their nine qualifiers and only three older horses posted a quicker clocking in the day's remaining seven qualifiers. Blood Line, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Blood Diamond, was bred by Diamond Creek Farm and J&T Silva Stables and is now owned by Diamond Creek Racing. He is a full brother to stakes-winner Blood Brother and his family includes millionaires Western Terror, If I Can Dream, Artiscape, and Delinquent Account. "He's a little goofy," Takter said. "He's a fast horse and he's got a lot of strength. We have him staked up good so we know he's got the ability. He's a little bit like his brother, though; not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But he can go." Blood Line won by 1-3/4 lengths over Ron Burke-trained Major Key (Art Major-Capri Hanover). Gingras drove two more 2-year-old winners, both from Burke's stable. The first was female trotter Waffle Cone and the second was male trotter Deacon Tony. Waffle Cone (Muscle Hill-Sugar Cone) won by four lengths over Takter's Bridal Suite (Cantab Hall-Starlet Rules) in 2:00.3. Waffle Cone was purchased for $50,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Earl Smith, and Phil Collura. Her family includes Dan Patch Award-winner Pizza Dolce. Deacon Tony (Muscle Hill-Blue Yonder) was second-placed-first when Trond Smedshammer's Mushana went off stride just prior to the finish line. Deacon Tony, timed in 2:02.1, was purchased for $85,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by JT45, Deo Volente Farms, T L P Stable, and Malvern Burroughs. His family includes 2000 Hambletonian winner and O'Brien Horse of the Year Yankee Paco. The stables of trainers Julie Miller and Aaron Lambert also produced two winners apiece. Miller won with male pacer Dances Cruiser and female pacer Annacloy while Lambert scored with male pacer Outrajus Blue Chip and female pacer Agent Q. Dances Cruiser (Yankee Cruiser-Dances On The Wind) won by three-quarters of a length over Thefoolalwaysrocks (Always A Virgin-This Fool Rocks) in 1:57. He was driven by Fredi Herrera, who notched his first qualifier win after making his debut on the track a week ago. Dances Cruiser was bred by Pinske Stables, who also owns the colt. His family includes stakes-winner Btwnyurheartnmine. "I feel good; very excited," Herrera said. "He's a nice horse. He's just young, but he qualified very good today." Annacloy (Art Major-Lislea Phia) won by 5-1/4 lengths over Takter's St Helena (American Ideal-Art's Vintage) in 1:56.2. Driven by Andy Miller, it was Annacloy's second qualifier win in as many tries. She was purchased for $30,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Andy Miller Stable, Ervin Miller Stable, and Paymaq Racing. Her dam was a multiple stakes-winner. Lambert-driven Outrajus Blue Chip (Roll With Joe-Some Girls Do) won by three-quarters of a length over Miller's Flight Insurance (Art Official-Cruzin Angel) in 1:58.4. He sold for $10,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Ron Coyne Stables, Blair Corbeil, and Lambert. His dam was a stakes-winner and the family also includes Dan Patch Award-winner Central Park West. David Miller-driven Agent Q finished with a :27.2 final quarter-mile, equaling Outrajus Blue Chip's mark for the fastest of the day among the 2-year-olds, to rally from the back of the pack and defeat Tony Alagna's Sweet Rockin Gia (Rockin Image-EJ's Copperstone) by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:58.2. Agent Q (Western Terror-Teenage Paige) sold for $25,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Martin Scharf, William Rochetti Jr., Tanya Rochetti, and Robert Muscara. Agent Q's family includes stakes-winner Paige Nicole Q. Smedshammer won with female trotter Diva Dejarmbro (Dejarmbro-Nordic Nymph), who beat Robert Bresnahan Jr.'s Logans Lady (Explosive Matter-Bancroft Hall) by a neck in 2:01.3. Diva Dejarmbro, driven by Smedshammer, was purchased for $27,000 under the name Impressions First at the Ohio Selected Jug Sale and is owned by Purple Haze Stables. Chris Ryder-trained and driven male pacer Tribal War (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mystical Gypsy) won the remaining qualifier for the 2-year-olds, defeating John Dally (Somebeachsomewhere-Michelle My Gal) by a half-length in 1:55.3. Tribal War, purchased for $10,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale, is owned by Diamond Creek Racing and Ryder. His family includes stakes-winners Load The Dice and The Catamount Kid. "I was happy with him," Ryder said. "He's been training pretty decent on the farm. He was a little aggressive today, but that's no big deal. We're going to go to the sire stakes in New York with him. We have him staked. He's also eligible to the Metro Pace, but we'll see. "We like him. He's very nice. He's out of the same family as a horse I had years ago, Load The Dice. He was OK, he just had the distinction of being the same year as (2005 Horse of the Year) Rocknroll Hanover." In action among the older horses, male trotter Crazy Wow won his qualifier in 1:53.2 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Burke while male pacer Dealt A Winner won in 1:53.2 for driver David Miller and trainer Mark Silva. by Ken Weingartner

Michael Stanley’s two-year-old fillies again showed their Group 1 potential, with Soho Angel and Petacular building on outstanding debut seasons with harness racing victories in Saturday night’s Empire Vicbred Super Series heats at Bendigo. Having both been prominent in the $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold final, the pair look certain to be in this celebrated Victorian series all the way to the July 2 Group 1 finals, with Soho Angel registering a 3m win in heat two and Petacular running down previously unbeaten Our Celebrity to win heat three by a neck. That trio, in addition to the key combatants in the thrilling first heat, when Perfect Sense won a ripping battle with Keayang Secret to kick-start the series in style, emerged as leading lights in the field, and will be among those to front for semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton on June 24. “She’s a gutsy little trier and we love her,” Stanley said of Soho Angel after she claimed heat two, using the sprint lane to outpace leader Mammals Magic and win in a 1:59.9 mile rate. “She’s a beautiful little Bettor's Delight, there’s no fuss about her.” And Soho Angel, who is out of Soho Champagne and owned by Robert Watson, will only improve, Stanley said. “The barrier helped and she probably was a little bit underdone, because  she did have a good freshen up after that APG series,” he said. “I think she is a very good chance (to win the series). “She’s probably not fully wound up, she hasn’t done a lot of work since the APGs, so we have a good break until the semi-finals to get a bit more work into her. I’m sure that she will race very well through the rest of the series.” And similar goes for Petacular, who is by Somebeachsomewhere out of Ideal Priority. She had to do plenty of work to claim her heat win, having improved three-wide mid-race from barrier seven to take the death seat and then rounded highly-rated Our Celebrity at the bend to win a final straight showdown by a head. “This filly’s a different filly to (Soho Angel),” Stanley said. “She does have a fair bit of depth to her.  She hasn’t had a great preparation before tonight after the APG and she will hopefully only improve on what she did tonight. “You’ve got to have bit of versatility and depth in your horses and I’m sure that she does have that.” Dean Braun-trained Carlas Pixel, driven by Greg Sugars, boxed on well down the sprint lane to place a close third in the heat. One of the night’s key showdowns came in the first heat, when Perfect Sense and Keayang Secret separated themselves from the field to run first and second. Perfect Sense, Emma Stewart’s Art Major filly who has placed in all five starts including a second in the $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold final, led from the pole mark and as expect Jason Lee placed Keayang Secret on to her tail from gate eight. There they remained until the final straight, where Keayang Secret (Always A Virgin/Feel The Magic), trained by Marg Lee from Terang, challenged the front marker but had to ultimately settle for second, with their 27.4 last quarter creating a 1:59.3 mile rate and a 23m gap to third-placed Atusa. The last of the heat winners brought the biggest surprise for punters when $17.20 shot Gilty Hanover won for Bolinda trainer Kari Males and driver Greg Sugars. The filly, by Rocknroll Hanover out of Gilt Bromac, burst through down the sprint lane to win in 2:01.4 mile rate.  “She has only had a couple of starts and is still learning about the racing caper, but she showed a bit of promise at the trials and in those starts,” Sugars said. “It wasn’t completely out of the equation to see her in the finish, but she put in a really good performance tonight. “This is the first time I have driven her. She’s not a 100 per cent tractable racehorse yet, so whatever she does now is probably a bonus. The thing about babies and their racing, they can improve so much in a short period of time, so the more times she goes around and sits in the field and gets runs like that where she hits the line, it’s only going to do her confidence the world of good and she will be a better racehorse because of it.” Michael Howard

Vernon, N.Y. -- Pantheon Hanover ($4.50) lived up to his billing as the 5-4 favorite in the featured $7,500 Miracle Mile Pace at Vernon Downs, stalking live cover on the far turn and vaulting clear to a 3-1/2 length harness racing triumph. The 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding was no part of a :25.4 first quarter duel between Sassy Hanover (Claude Huckabone, III) and All Stienam (John MacDonald), settling second from last in the select field of six. As Panpero Firpo (Brett Derue) emerged from midpack to head outer flow at race's midpoint, Chris Lems angled Pantheon Hanover second-over to stalk steadily improving cover through middle splits of :53.4 and 1:21.3. As the pacesetters began to toil, Pantheon Hanover swung three-wide, pushing to the fore at head-stretch and drawing clear at will. Behind Pantheon Hanover's 1:50 mile, the first-over Panpero Firpo continued his rally to take second, while All Stienam saved third from the pocket.   Trainer Dave Dewhurst co-owns Pantheon Hanover with Philip Hale. For Lems, the featured win was one of three on the night. John MacDonald also recorded a driving hat trick on the nine-race program.   As no one hit the 50¢ Pick 5, a carryover of $256.53 will head to Thursday (June 9) night's card. Post time for the 10-race program is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, June 4, 2016 -- Adrian Hanover thwarted the determined challenge of Big Top Hanover and went on to score in a career-best 1:49.4 in Saturday's $162,110 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for harness racing 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers at The Meadows. The time matched the fastest this year by a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths-mile track. Another Daily Copy pulled off a 20-1 upset in the other division of the stake known as the Bye Bye Byrd. Adrian Hanover quarter-poled to the lead for Dave Palone -- just where Chris Oakes, who trains Adrian Hanover for John Craig, didn't want him. "I talked to Chris five minutes before the race," Palone indicated, "and Chris said, 'I wouldn't put him on the lead.' But I ended up getting away third, and I thought my best shot was to control it." When the well meant Big Top Hanover and Yannick Gingras came after him, the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Artaffection turned him back and defeated him by 3-1/2 lengths, with Manhattan Beach third. "He really didn't mind the pressure," Palone said. "He's lazy, and as soon as Yannick came to him, it helped my cause. He got back up in the bit and paced home real strong." Another Daily Copy, who had been racing almost exclusively on the front end of late, found the pocket trip Tony Hall gave him to his liking. He zipped by the leader, 4-5 favorite Check Six, in the stretch and downed him by a neck in 1:50, a lifetime mark. JK Will Power earned show. With the win, Another Daily Copy soared over $100,000 in career earnings. "He had a little breather today," said Nicholas DeVita, who conditions the homebred son of Somebeachsomewhere-Court Stenographer for owner/breeder Carl Sackheim. "Plus he had a nice horse doing all the hard work for him. At 2 he had allergies and tying-up problems, but he got better as he matured. He's staked to everything, so we'll play it by ear." $100,000 PA Sires Stake, 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers In Saturday's co-feature, Power Of A Cruiser equaled the stake record of 1:50.3 with a front-end triumph from post 8. Also taking $20,000 splits were Fashion Bythebeach, Good Living, Don McWhite and Rip This Joint. Tim Tetrick (Power Of A Cruiser, Fashion Bythebeach, Good Living) and Hall (Don McWhite, Rip This Joint) swept the five divisions. Despite the unfavorable post, Power Of A Cruiser, a Yankee Cruiser-Power Of Thunder gelding, opened a commanding lead for Tetrick, trainer Les Givens and owner/breeder Michael Horsey, defeating the first-over Duke Of Delray by 4-1/2 lengths. McDave was third. "He's been showing speed," Tetrick said. "When I got to cut it, he raced a really good mile." Fashion Bythebeach also scored on the front end, holding off JJ Flynn by a neck in 1:52. Hollyrock Heyden completed the ticket. "He has extreme speed, but his head's not where it should be," said Vince Copeland, who trains the Somebeachsomewhere-Don'tknocktherock gelding, a $27,000 yearling acquisition, for David D. Miller. "He has a bit of an attitude. He wanted to kick Tim out of the bike during the post parade -- he hadn't tried that with me. If I can put a flip-up bridle where he can see horses coming at him, I think he'll be a lot better." The Cancelliere brothers, John and Tom, have made big noise at many yearling auctions, but only once have they signed the ticket for a weanling, a Western Ideal-Artomatic brother to their millionaire performer Western Shore. "We gave $14,500 for him," Tom Cancelliere said. "We threw him out in the field for a year and started breaking him with the other ones last year. He's very green. On the front end today, he was on and off the gas, on and off the gas. He doesn't realize that he just has to go. He'll go to the sires stakes next." That youngster, named Good Living, justified the brothers' patience Saturday when he scored on the lead in a career-fastest 1:51.1. Yankee Artillery was second, 2 lengths in arrears, with Blake North third. Change of Plans for Foiled Again Elsewhere on the program, the $18,000 Preferred Handicap Pace marked a homecoming for Foiled Again, harness racing's all-time richest pacer with more than $7.3 on his card. The gallant 12-year-old gelding hadn't raced at The Meadows, the home track of his connections, in about three years. But his rivals spoiled the party, parking him for nearly three-eighths before he reached the front. Unlocked nosed out Dapper Dude for the win in 1:51.1, with Foiled Again a neck back in third. Now winless in nine outings this year, Foiled Again had been targeting the Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs, but Saturday's race caused trainer Ron Burke to modify those plans. "I thought he was all right," Burke said. "We may have to change his whole racing style. He might have to become a closer because he doesn't have quite the quick speed he used to have, and he gets himself in bad spots . . . He'll continue to race. I talked with my partners, and we're leaning to keeping him here (The Meadows) and race him here another start or two until I see if I can get him to pick it up a little bit." The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

In late February, Kryptos (Jordan Stratton, $4.90) was in racing in 'non-winners of twos'. She obviously grew up in a hurry, the latest example coming Saturday night in winning Yonkers Raceway's $100,000 Lismore Pace for harness racing 3-year-old fillies. Sitting chilly early from post position No. 2 over a "good" oval, Kryptos watched as Soft Idea (Jason Bartlett) outleave her five inside foes, getting the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. Apple Bottom Jeans (Montrell Teague), the scourge of Delaware, yielded for the pocket, with Cut and Paste (Brian Sears) a pole-sitting third. Soft Idea found a :56.3 half and 1:25, with Kryptos out and moving from fourth, chased by slight 7-5 choice Dime a Dance (George Brennan). The leader was about to wear out his welcome in and out of the final turn, with Kryptos going by early in the lane. That one continued her move, getting the needed jump on a passing-lane-diving Apple Bottom Jeans. The former, as the second choice in the 12th Lismore, whipped the hard-charging latter by a neck in 1:53.3, with Dime a Dance third. Cut and Paste was fourth, with a tiring Soft Idea and an outrun Rock Me Baby (John Campbell) completing the six-pack. For Kryptos, an unraced-at-2, $24,000 daughter of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned (as Drennan Stable) by (trainer) Nik Drennan, it was her eighth win in nine seasonal starts. The exacta paid $20.60, with the triple returning $44.20. "It's the first time I've driven her, and Nik (Drennan) just said to give her a clean trip," Stratton said, ironically with his face covered in mud. Frank Drucker

2014 Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach gained from the pocket into a 27 last quarter to outblast pacesetting Cooperstown home by a head in taking the $20,000 featured pace Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:49.4. (Which after its tenth race slotting was only the co-fourth-fastest mile of the night at The Downs, but more on that in a minute.)   Matt Kakaley settled the Somebeachsomewhere gelding in the pocket early as Cooperstown insured the early leader with a 26.1 first quarter; then, after favored Bigtown Hero made an uncharacteristic break in front of the stands, Cooperstown was rated by Anthony Napolitano to a "walking-horse" half of 55.3.   The tempo increased down the backstretch to 1:22.4 to the 3/4s, with Limelight Beach "helmetbumping" Napolitano, as Anthony and Cooperstown used the first-over Romeo Rodeo as a "blocker," the scene looking like old-time pre-passing lane half-mile track racing as Cooperstown was under a stranglehold around the turn, keeping the raging Limelight Beach locked in as long as he could. "ANap" turned Cooperstown loose at the head of the stretch, hoping he had gotten enough of a jump on his rival, but Limelight Beach had a final 1/8 of not much more than 13 in him and caught the pacesetter by a head.   It was the first victory of the year for Limelight Beach, but the year had not been unproductive for the five-year-old before this race, as he had eight board finishes to his credit. Ron Burke trains the Alberta-bred winner of $1,113,766 for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, M1 Stable LLC, and Wingfield Brothers LLC. A final note to the race is that Limelight Beach paid $6.80 to win and was the third choice - Bigtown Hero was 1.60-1 and Cooperstown 2.20-1.   As mentioned earlier, 1:50 was being beaten with regularity during the warm night at The Downs, including the posting of (at press time) the fastest clocking in North American harness racing so far in 2016, a 1:48 wire-to-wire victory by the veteran Rocknroll Hanover gelding Scott Rocks in an $18,000 supporting event. George Napolitano had the pedal to the metal with the winner of $397,425, posting splits of 26, 53.4, and 1:20.3 en route to the season's record mile for trainer Chris Oakes and owners Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey.   Not that any sub-1:50 mile on a 5/8-mile track isn't worth a paragraph, but the 1:48.2 victory of Keystone Velocity, a son of Western Hanover piloted by Simon Allard for owner Lauretta Galm, in the night's first race has three compelling angles to it: 1) this was only the eight-year-old horse's third start since July of 2014, as the star-crossed participant in such races as The Adios and the Confederation Cup (where he won an elim; he was third in a Metro elim at two) has always had a ton of speed; 2) this was the first training victory for trainer Austin Brubacker, a 25-year-old who had sent his first horse to the track only two weeks ago; and 3) Keystone Velocity got to the ¾ pole in 1:20 flat - the first sighting of that rarity we know of in 2016, and only the 47th such clocking in the history of harness racing according to our unofficial records that were verified with the USTA last year (any updates would be appreciated).   --There were 6 miles in 1:50 or less in the 16-race card, plus three more in 1:50.1. The 1:48 victory of Scott Rocks was as of 11:15pm Sat still the fastest North American mile of 2016 posted to the USTA computer.   --The Napolitano brothers took half of the evening's races, divided equally between the two. George now has 20 wins at PcD during the five-day period starting last Saturday.   PHHA / Pocono  

Darlinonthebeach survived a wicked 25.4 first quarter and rolled home for harness racing driver David Miller in a stake-record 1:49.4 in Friday's Adios Betty, a $161,760 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for 3-year-old filly pacers at The Meadows. I Said Diamonds, who had lowered the stake mark to 1:50 moments before Darlinonthebeach stepped on the track, captured the other division. In the May 7 final of the Miss Pennsylvania, Darlinonthebeach was parked out in 25.2 and was out of gas late, finishing seventh. When she witnessed the brutal opening panel in the Adios Betty, trainer Nancy Johansson had the sinking feeling that history was repeating itself. "When I saw the first quarter in 25.4, I said to the girl who takes care of her, 'Oh no, not again,'" she said. "The difference today was that David was able to back her off the second quarter, so she had a little bit left in the tank when they came at her. She raced super." White Birch Farm's homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Darlin's Delight easily thwarted the first-over challenge of Shesasmokinlady and defeated the pocket-sitting Lispatty, an 86-1 long shot, by 3/4 lengths. Pure Country, the 1-2 favorite, rallied but could manage only show. Marty Party held the previous stake record of 1:51.3. Johansson said Darlinonthebeach, who now boasts $287,981 in career earnings, would be pointed to the Fan Hanover. I Said Diamonds also endured a rough start when, as the 1-5 favorite, she was looped while on the outside and finally made the point in 26.1 "I was just waiting for the dust to settle," said winning driver Jim Pantaleano. "I saw the outside horses leaving really hard, and I did not want to get into a speed duel. She was really relaxed on the lead, which obviously is a good attribute in a racehorse." I Said Diamonds defeated Call Me Queen Be by 1-1/4 lengths, with Newborn Sassy third. Matias Ruiz conditions the daughter of Well Said-Silksndiamonds, who extended her lifetime bankroll to $286,060, for Little Bapa LLC. $80,000 PA Stallion Series - 3-Year-Old Filly Pacers In Friday's co-feature, Keystone Riptide matched the stake record of 1:52, established in 2013 by Icommandmyspirit.  Also taking $20,000 splits were Albany Girl, Terror At Night and Corona Again. Brett Miller enjoyed a stake double with Albany Girl and Terror Again. Keystone Riptide quarter-poled to the lead and scored handily for David Miller, trainer Nikolas Drennan and owners Joseph Davino, Patrick O'Brien and Brad Shackman. Nip's Beach Girl was 3 lengths back in second while End To End Hanover closed well for third. "Last week, she got loose late, and she was coming really hard on the end of it," said David Miller of the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Keystone Rebecca. "I thought tonight would be a good time to put her back on the lead. She's a nice filly, a borderline sires stake type." Terror at Night brushed to the front before the quarter and widened her lead from there, scoring her first stake win of the season in a career-fastest 1:52.2. Drag N Sand was second, 6-3/4 lengths in arrears, while Triple Charm completed the ticket. "I didn't think she was up to stake company until now," said Les Givens, who conditions the daughter of Western Terror-Enhance The Night -- a $20,000 yearling acquisition -- for Nanticoke Racing, Edward Maas III and Arlene Paisley. "Down the road, who knows? I want to keep her happy." Corona Again used an extended uncovered move to open up a daylight lead for Tim Tetrick, trainer Douglas Lewis and owner LA Express Stable. The daughter of Dragon Again-Exotic Location defeated Hooves On First by 5-1/4 lengths in 1:53. Marty Party Two completed the ticket. "She's a great big, growthy filly," Tetrick said. "She has a lot to learn yet. She's still like a little kid out there -- looks at everything, tries to jump shadows. She has a lot of talent, but she has to get her mind on right." Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday with a special Memorial Day card beginning at 5 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

The unbeaten pacer Our Waikiki Beach will be out to extend his winning streak to 19 races at Penrith on Thursday night when he competes in a heat of the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge.  Trained by leading New Zealand horseman Mark Purdon, the Australian bred son of Somebeachsomewhere has only started twice across the Tasman with the gelding having won a dozen of his races at Australia’s premier harness racing track, Tabcorp Park Menangle. Luke McCarthy will drive Our Waikiki Beach on Thursday night, it is the fourth time he has had the honour of driving the star.  Purdon has sat behind him on nine occasions, Natalie Rasmussen four times and John McCarthy and Brent Barclay have had one drive each. Our Waikiki Beach has won four Group 1 races.  As a two year old he won the Australian Pacing Gold, the NSW Breeders Challenge and the Australasian Breeders Crown.  This season he took out the rich New South Wales Derby.  The gelding has won $665,221 in his career and there has never been a faster three year old in the Southern Hemisphere.  Our Waikiki Beach equalled the time set by Border Control of 1:50.6 when he won a race at Menangle in February. Only six standardbreds have won more than 19 consecutive races in Australasia.  San Simeon holds the record with a winning streak of 29.  Lucky Creed, Maori’s Idol and Courage Under Fire won 24 races in a row while Aachen and Lyell Creek won 20.  With a victory on Thursday night Our Waikiki Beach will join Satinover, Hyperstat, Village Kid and Lombo Pocket Watch with 19. When asked to describe Our Waikiki Beach, trainer Mark Purdon is quick to look towards the gelding’s future. “He has all the qualities that suggest he is going to take the next step to compete against the very best horses,” Purdon said. “I wouldn’t say he was a standout as a young horse but we always thought he had plenty of ability. While he is a son of Somebeachsomewhere there is a lot of Bettors Delight in him from his mother and he has a very laid back and relaxed attitude.” Purdon expects to be in Sydney to drive Our Waikiki Beach in a semi final of the Breeders Challenge and will also take the reins in the final. “That’s the plan at this stage.  We’ll see how he gets through the Breeders Challenge, but we are planning on taking him to the Breeders Crown later in the season. “I don’t know whether he should be classed as an Australian or New Zealander because he has only had two starts in New Zealand, maybe the Aussies should claim him because he was born and bred there.” We’ll take him Mark!    Greg Hayes

The beaten favorite in the recent Miss Pennsylvania Final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Darlinonthebeach, got some measure of revenge by winning one of three $30,000 Pennsylvania All-Stars divisions for harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies at The Downs Monday, not letting an unusually-patterned race keep her from a 1:51.3 victory. The other two divisions saw their victresses, I Said Diamonds and Shesasmokinlady, both take new lifetime marks of 1:50.4 in capturing their sections.   Princess Fabulosa outgunned everybody out of the gate in the first division, with 4-5 favorite Darlinonthebeach second but having an early problem, as Newborn Sassy, the 11-10 second choice, and Sail To The Beach were biding their time two-wide just to "Darlin"'s right until the early fireworks settled. Newborn Sassy made the lead at the 27.3 quarter, and here's where the sulky wheels were joined by the drivers' wheels starting to turn.   Sail To The Beach and John Campbell proceeded up towards the lead, but Darlinonthebeach and driver David Miller pulled out right behind them. Tim Tetrick, behind Newport Sassy, quickly did the math that "1+1+1=3=first-over," and since he didn't want to be in that position, he urged his filly on to keep the lead, leaving Sail To The Beach stuck two-wide and Darlinonthebeach temporarily three-wide as Miller did not want to lose momentum, thinking Sail To The Beach would go to the top.   Newborn Sassy retained the top at the half in 55 (27.2 second quarter, faster than the first and against the wind) after that mental sulky chess match, with Princess Fabulosa in the pocket and Darlinonthebeach backing off to second-over, and they went down the backstretch that way to a 1:22.4 3/4s. When left-out-first-over Sail To The Beach gave way on the far turn, Miller again had to go three-wide, while Princess Fabulosa (Jim Marohn Jr.) attacking in the stretch to the left of Newport Sassy. Darlinonthebeach showed grittiness, striding on to outfoot Newport Sassy by a neck, while 20-1 Princess Fabulosa another neck back in third.   The winner is a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Nancy Johansson for owner White Birch Farm.   The matter was much more tactically simple for second division winner I Said Diamonds. Driver Matt Kakaley fired her up early from the outermost post eight and grabbed the top after the 26.4 opener, posting middle splits of 55.3 and 1:23, then drawing clear on the turn to win by 3¼ lengths over another daughter of Well Said, I Said Please. The winner has never been off the board in nine career starts, and her 2016 record is now 3-2-1-0, the second in finishing behind Pure Country in the Miss Pennsylvania Final, for trainer Matias Ruiz and the ownership of Little Bapa LLC.   Like I Said Diamonds, Shesasmokinlady has now been 1-2-3 in nine career outings, running her record to 2-for-2 this season in taking the third division for trainer/driver Ray Paver (still thought of as "Tommy" or "Junior" to the older among us). The victorious smoke-colored daughter of McArdle was out well past the 26.3 first quarter, made the lead in front of the stands and then yielded to a brushing Eloquent Grace before the 54.2 half. 7-5 chalk Yankee Moonshine attacked first-over to the 1:22.2 3/4s, but when that foe backed off, 8-5 second choice Shesasmokinlady could come to the outside, go past the pacesetter, then hold off the late Pocono Pike thrust of 14-1 early leader Some Fancy Filly by a head. Iris Horowitz owns the late-developing and powerful-looking filly.   Pennsylvania All-Stars action for three-year-olds concludes tomorrow at Pocono, with three $30,000 divisions for trotting fillies the headliners.   PHHA / Pocono

The Catamount Kid and Another Daily Copy tied for speed honors in capturing their respective $30,000 divisions of a Pennsylvania All-Stars event for state-sired harness racing three-year-old pacing colts Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with both tripping the timer in 1:51.2, while in the third division Voltaire scored a 14-1 upset and like the other two victors took a personal mark with his 1:52.2 clocking.   The Catamount Kid was second in his elimination for the Pennsylvania Classic and then fourth in the Classic Final the last two weeks at Pocono, finishing behind only Ron Burke trainees, but Sunday nothing got in the way of the Well Said colt en route to the winners circle. The Catamount Kid sat a pocket trip until the ¾, moved out to challenge and grab the lead into the stretch, then held off Bully Pulpit from off his back for a neck decision. Simon Allard handled sulky duties for the winner, whom trainer Carl Jamieson co-owns with Thomas Kyron, George Harrison, and Brian Paquet.   Driver Jim Morrill Jr., who held the hot hand at Pocono on Sunday, posted his fourth victory of the night when he guided Another Daily Copy home first. Morrill rated a 29.2 second quarter, getting to the half in 56, then sprinted off to a big lead on the far turn, with the final 1¼ length margin of victory over pocketsitting Fernando Hanover a bit deceptive. Nicholas Devita trains the son of Somebeachsomewhere, who doubled his lifetime victory total with the All-Stars triumph, for owner Carl Sackheim.   It's usually not a benefit to gap two-wide cover, but driver Tim Tetrick made it work for him and Voltaire in the other division. The Western Terror gelding was originally second-over but couldn't stay with his cover, letting More Dragon out - whom Voltaire and Tetrick prompted followed three-wide on the far turn, then swung wider in the stretch. Settlemoir was closing in the Pocono Pike, pacesetter JJ Flynn was trying to maintain his advantage, and More Dragon continued his wide gain - but in the last 50 yards Voltaire found his best strides and was along to win by a head over Settlemoir, who was a neck ahead of More Dragon, with JJ Flynn settling for fourth. Brian Malone conditions the winner for owners Peter Paul Venturini and Peter Venturini III.   Pennsylvania All-Stars action continues in the second half of the Pocono race week, Monday and Tuesday, with three $30,000 divisions for distaffs each night: the pacers in the spotlight Monday, and then the trotters headlining on Tuesday.   PHHA / Pocono

Big Surf opened his 2016 season on a winning note taking the Saturday night harness racing feature at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Marc Campbell guided the son of the Somebeachsomewhere to victory taking command of the race from gate charger Forever Paradise (Gilles Barrieau) on route to the opening quarter and posted fractions of 29, 59.1, 1:28.4 to claim top honors in 1:59.3 by five and half lengths over Forever Paradise and First Art Down (Ken Murphy). The track was rated sloppy with a four second variant. Big Surf is trained by Trevor Hicken for owners Burkie By The Bay Stables, Ten Mile House, PE and Perry Burke, Grosse Ile, QC. Terry Gallant recorded a driving-training triple on the program with stable mates Southfield Sassy, owned by Southfield Farms Inc, Summerside, PE, Claire L Colquhoun, Toronto, Ontario, Silverhill Cupid for Silverhill Farms, Tignish, PE and Motorino for his co-owner Eric Johnston, Summerside, PE. Brian Andrew recorded a training double with a driving score aboard Hurrah while his other trainee Blazing By took top honours for catch-driver Kenny Arsenault in race 13 which was marred by an accident. Leader PL Faststrike, driven by Gilles Barrieau, made a break and went down as the field raced around the final turn unseating his driver. Balanchine, under the command of Ron Matheson, clipped the race bike of the fallen horse throwing Matheson to the track. Matheson was transported to hospital after complaining of a sore hip. Barrieau walked away from the spill. Balanchine and PL Faststrike were attended by the track veterinarian for some minor injuries. For complete results go to www.redshores.ca Lee Drake

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