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Zhukov Leis is the latest in a string of harness racing pacers bred by Trevor and Marjorie Leis to make an impact on the racetrack. The Todd Rattray-trained and driven gelding made an impressive debut at Luxbet Park Hobart last night leading all the way to score impressively after being heavily backed in to start the $2. Zhukov Leis is by Somebeachsomewhere from the Leis' top-producing broodmare Kazakova Leis that also produced the half-brother Jaruzelski Leis (by Bettors Delight) that has so far won 20 with a best mile rate of 1.53.7. The three-year-old gelding stepped well from a wide gate (6) and after a stoush with Memory of Love, Rattray's gelding eventually found the lead and he settled well under a strong hold. Zhukov Leis was given no peace for the last 1200 metres with the second favourite Falcon Harry sitting at his wheel and waiting to pounce heading down the back stretch. But when Rattray called on Zhukov Leis for an effort he dug deep and shrugged off the challenge and forged clear to defeat Falcon Harry by about four metres with Striker Jim over 20 metres astern. "We have always believed this horse could run a bit and he showed us that at two but he developed a bad cough and we had to pull up and tip him out," Rattray said. "I've taken my time with this horse and I think the patience we've shown will pay off. "He takes a bit of work because he's a good doer and he got away from me a bit this time in which is why he will derive a lot of benefit from this run. "I have no doubt he has a bright future and he could have a good race in him this season." Peter Staples

YONKERS, N.Y. - Pacers Somewhere In L A and Caviart Luca have a great deal in common. They're both 6-year-old geldings by Somebeachsomewhere out of Western Hanover mares, they each have four wins this season, and they share a seasonal mark of 1:52.2. In addition, they're separated by just $850 at the top of the North American earnings list in the early stages of the 2017 harness racing season as they vie for dominance in the top condition at Yonkers Raceway. On Saturday (Feb. 25), the duo will renew their budding rivalry in the $50,000 Open Handicap Pace. Ron Burke trainee Caviart Luca began his season with a surprise victory at the non-winners of $20,000 last five-level January 14. There, he charged to the lead from post position seven and never looked back, springing an upset at odds of 16-1. A week later, he captured the Open Handicap by a nose at odds of 13-1. Somewhere In L A's rise to the top class at Yonkers began after trainer Rich Banca purchased the multiple stakes-winning gelding out of the 2016 Harrisburg sale for $110,000. Somewhere In L A made short work of the upper-level conditions and scored back-to-back wins in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap before reaching the Open level, where Caviart Luca was waiting. In their first matchup in Yonkers' pacing feature January 28, Caviart Luca enjoyed the luxury of starting from post position three and darted to the lead while Somewhere In L A toiled from his outside assignment and trailed the field. Driver George Brennan guided Caviart Luca through manageable fractions and wired the field while Somewhere In L A could only muster a fifth place finish after making up 9 1/4 lengths in the final half-mile. The following week, Caviart Luca dealt with the assigned post seven while Somewhere In L A still grappled with post eight. This time, Matt Kakaley sent Somewhere in L A to the front while Caviart Luca tried to close. The finish was flipped as Somewhere In L A posted a 17-1 upset and Caviart Luca closed for third. Their exploits on the track have earned Somewhere In L A and Caviart Luca $87,250 and $86,400 this year, respectively. Just two months into the 2017 season, Caviart Luca has already surpassed his 2016 bankroll of $82,299 while Somewhere In L A approaches his 2016 tally of $109,340. When Somewhere In L A and Caviart Luca clash for the third time this season Saturday night, they'll line up side by side behind the gate. For the first time, Somewhere In L A will start inside of Caviart Luca; he and Kakaley will commence from post seven at odds of 4-1 while Caviart Luca and Brennan start from post eight as the 3-1 morning line choice. Guantanamo Bay, winner of the Open Handicap February 11, starts from post five. E Z Noah, Sports Bettor, and Roland N Rock have all finished second in an Open Handicap this season and seek their first Open victories of the year. First Class Horse and Soto complete the field. First post is 7:10 p.m.  

The first two-year-old race of the harness racing season in the sunshine state is now in the books. And just like the previous year, it was the same connections that proved triumphant. Ifoundthebeach, trained by Chris Petroff and raced by his breeder, Alf La Spina and family scored a nose victory over Always A Jewel with Well Disguised finishing third in a time of 2:00.0 for the 1660m event at Albion Park yesterday (Tuesday). The regally bred gelding was handled by Gary Whitaker. Last year, it was Maestro Bellini who proved successful in the opening race of the term when winning the Paleface Adios Classic at Albion Park. And that race is the initial target for Ifoundthebeach before connections map his campaign any further. The 2017 $20,000 Wayne Wilson Paleface Adios Memorial is scheduled for March 4 at Albion Park. “We’ll aim for the Paleface Adios and then decide which way we go for the remainder of the season, he’s staked for basically everything including Bathurst which we love targeting each and every year but we won’t commit at this stage until after the Paleface Adios.” Rosario La Spina said, Alf's son. The La Spina have enjoyed tremendous success over a long period of time breeding and racing their young stock which includes the likes of La Speranza, Corelli, Il Tenore, Armida, Caesar Augustus among many others. Ifoundthebeach possesses a strong pedigree, a son of former world champion and now booming sire Somebeachsomewhere from the good producing Perfect Art mare, Sheez Not Perfect. From 7 foals to race, Sheez Not Perfect has produced 4 winners including the richly talented The Archduchess. A daughter of Christian Cullen, The Archduchess won 12 of 27 career starts while banking more than $280,000. Her biggest success came via the 2011 Gr.1 $150,000 Nursery Pace Final at Albion Park while being placed in the Bathurst Gold Tiara, Australian Pacing Gold Final, Breeders Classic, Raith Memorial, Gold Coast and Queensland Oaks. “We’ve always liked this guy but we think of him as work in progress, he’s always shown that he’s fast but he’s a little highly strung and a very excitable type. Chris and Bec (Croghan) have worked hard on him and he’s slowly coming around, he was still quite keen in the run but fought hard in the straight. “We have another filly that is close to racing and if she measures up, she could even make the trip to Bathurst with Ifoundthebeach but nothing is confirmed just yet. The filly is called Arch Empress.” The La Spina/Petroff combination also have a pair of talented three-year-olds in Maestro Bellini and San Domino which will also be set for feature events this season. Maestro Bellini has won 4 from 13 starts to date while San Domino has recently joined the stable and met with immediate success at Albion Park on February 3. Chris Barsby

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (February 4, 2017) - Somesizesomestyle produced a giant-sized harness racing upset in the $16,000 pacing feature on Saturday at the Meadowlands. Drew Monti settled the 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere well off the early pace in eighth as Elrama led the field through a half mile in 55.1 and three-quarters in 1:23.1. As the field headed into the stretch, the early fractions caught up to Elrama. Meadowlands specialist K-Lees Shakenbake was rallying in full gear with Brett Miller as Monti rallied even wider and just made the front in the final strides as a 13-1 long shot. "He has been sharp and always closing late, he has just been sort of rough gaited late in the mile," explained Monti, who posted a driving double. "Tonight you could feel immediately he was sounder and he was ready to put in a huge effort." Somesizesomestyle, who finished second in the 2014 Breeders Crown Final when trained by Ron Burke, won for the 14th time in 97 career starts. With the win, he upped his career bankroll to $459,535 for owner Brad Grant and trainer Larry Remmen. Earlier in the night, Meadowlands Pace-eligible Highalator cruised in a non-winners of two race in 1:52.4 with a 26.2 last quarter. He was making just his fifth career start. Highalator is a homebred for Daryl Bier and Charles Dombeck by Somebeachsomewhere out of the duo's $923,000 earner Higher and Higher. Total handle on the 12-race program was $2,834,193. Live racing resumes Thursday with a 9-race card. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 28, 2017 - A repeating Caviart Luca and harness racing driver (George Brennan, bucked the front-end-is-awful trend Saturday night, repeating Yonkers Raceway's $45,000 Open Handicap Pace. In play from post position No. 3, Caviart Luca went right down the road (:27.3, :56.2, 1:24, 1:52.2), holding off a solid, season-debuting, first-over Long Live Rock (Dan Dube) by neck. Lucan Hanover (Brent Holland) was a belated third, with Roland N Rock (Jordan Stratton) and Somewhere in LA (Matt Kakaley) also closing for the minors. P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) bottomed out of the pocket as the 19-10 favorite, finishing last among the octet. For second choice Caviart Luca, a 6-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Phil Collura, he's won all three of his seasonal starts. The exacta paid $58, with the triple returning $804. Saturday featured a cavalcade of closers, as only four of the 11 horses charted with the lead entering the lane did indeed close the sale. It also featured an 'unhit' Pick 5, so Sunday afternoon's gimmick begins with a carryover of $2,436.39 (50-cent base wager, Sunday comprising races 6 through 10). Reminder first post for Sunday's 'French' matinee is 12:30 PM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 21, 2017 - Caviart Luca and harness racing dtiver George Brennan, $28.60 snapped odds-on Blood Brother (Jason Bartlett) at the wire Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $45,000 Open Handicap Pace. 'Twas a night better suited for Carl Sandburg (fog reference for all you academics out there), Caviart Luca found himself away from post position No. 3. He sat as 3-4 choice Blood Brother two-moved to the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. Things remained unchanged after a 57-second intermission and 1:25 three-quarters, with Blood Brother taking a 2½-length lead into the lane. Despite a mediocre tow from P H Supercam (Scott Zeron), Caviart Luca was relentless from second-up. He picked off the pace-setter by a nose in 1:52.2, with P H Supercam, Roland N Rock (Jordan Stratton) and City Hall (Tyler Buter) settling for the remainder. E Z Noah (Dan Dube) was outrun. As an aside, it was the first time Bartlett did not drive P H Supercam here since September, 2013. For fifth choice Caviart Luca, a now-6-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Phil Collura, he's won both of his seasonal starts. The exacta paid $65.50, with the triple returning $204. Frank Drucker

It is interesting to note that two of the top three money winning stallions in North America for the 2016 harness racing year are father and son duo Mach Three and Somebeachsomewhere. The other stallion that made the list is of course Bettor's Delight. This is how they did; Somebeachsomewhere tops the list with $20,625,147 from 339 starters.  Bettor's Delight was second on the list with $19,392,733 from 514 starters. Mach Three was third with $14,773,241 from 460 starters. Mach Three has stood in Canada for his entire breeding career and to make the overall list in third place for money won is a great achievement. There is no doubt that this stallion has gained more and more respect as a Sire as he has got older. His progeny keep getting better and better as they get older. They just keep racing. His progeny have earned around $150,000,000 world-wide to date, an incredible figure. Mach Three is the longest serving shuttle stallion in the world with now 13 years shuttling bewteen New Zealand and Canada, an incredible fact especially when the skeptics in the USA originally fought against shuttling because they thought that it would be a bad thing for the stallion himself and our Industries. Another reason the skeptics had in the early days was the fact that Mach Three retired as a late three-year-old because he twisted a bowel and nearly died as a result. He was in the Ontario Veterinarian Clinic for well over a week and it was touch and go whether he would survive. He had a piece of his Intestine removed. Some skeptics said at the time that he will never survive shuttling as a result. Well the evidence is there right now to show that all skeptics were wrong in this case. Somebeachsomewhere has always stood at Hanover Shoe Farms in the USA and has made a huge impact on the breeding scene throughout the world. Mach Three is a proven sire of sires and besides Somebeachsomewhere he has other sons at stud including the Down Under pair Sir Lincoln and Auckland Reactor whose progeny are about to start racing in Australia and New Zealand as two-year-olds. Somebeachsomewhere also has some sons at stud including the incredible Captaintreacherous 1:47.1 ($3,148,657) and Sunshine Beach 1:47.4f. Two exceptional yearlings by Somebeachsomewhere that are in the coming Australasian Classic Yearling Sale on the 20th of February are Lot 36 Fouryouonly and Lot 128 Sea Change. Lot 36 is out of a brilliant young dual Group winning mare called Onlyforyou. She was the two-year-old filly of the year in 2011/2012 and has earnings of $288,951. This yearling is a colt and it is a first foal from the dam. Lot 36 – Foryouonly The other Somebeachsomewhere yearling lot 128 in the sale that caught my eye was the super bred and outstanding looking filly called Sea Change out of the Group 1 Oaks winning and International winning mare Dancingonmoonlight. This filly is a half-sister to five winners including the Group 1 winning mare Miss Moonlight ($213,165).  Lot 128 – Sea Change These yearlings are bred in the purple and should command real respect with the buyers. For more on these two yearlings click on this link. Harnesslink Media      

Plans for promising Brisbane filly Eleniark have been shelved. Harness racing connections have been toying with the idea of sending their three-year-old south to Sydney for a shot at the Gr.3 $30,000 JL Raith Memorial this Saturday night. Eleniark is unbeaten in all three starts to date this season and looms as one of the best fillies in her home state but connections are going to wait and bypass the upcoming Sydney feature. “We gave her a trial on Friday afternoon and she performed well although she didn’t win and we discussed our options across the weekend and decided her work today (Monday) would determine whether the trip went ahead or not.” Trainer/driver Grant Dixon said. Eleniark was beaten a by a neck margin behind Sams A Champ in Friday’s trial in a time of 2:00.3 while the last half was covered in a slick 56.3 seconds. But a trip to Sydney next month for the Gr.1 Form 700 $200,000 NSW Oaks on February 25 remains a distinct possibility. The Somebeachsomewhere – Ark Monroe filly will be set for local targets later this season which includes the QBRED Triad plus the winter carnival features during July. Eleniark is not eligible for the Australasian Breeders Crown in Melbourne at the end of the season. “This timing is just not right to make this trip now so we’ve decided to stay home and hopefully we will make the trip next month for the Oaks. “Her trial was ok and her work today was also sound but probably not as sharp in comparison to the previous weeks. It’s a long season for a three-year-old and unfortunately, you can’t race in everything.” Eleniark has won 5 of her 10 starts to date which includes a victory in 1:54.9. by Chris Barsby

Following a second-place finish last week, Dash Point Hanover, closed quickly on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7-1 to catch and pass harness racing favorite Four Staces in deep stretch for a lifetime best 1:52 to win the $20,000 4 & 5-Year-Old Claiming Allowance at Dover Downs. With Sean Bier in the bike starting from the rail, Dash Point Hanover was content to wait as first Nuclear Dragon (Allan Davis) led early and gave up the lead to the Corey Callahan-driven Four Staces on the backstretch. Four Staces continued to lead around the final turn and through the stretch before Bier turned Sash Point Hanover loose in the stretch. The Somebeachsomewhere-Dashaway Hanover gelding, trained by Crissy Crissman-Bier blew past on the way to a new lifetime mark winning for the sixth time this year for owner R.J. Thomas. Four Staces held on to finish second. Quick Shot (Ross Wolfenden) came on for third. Earlier, stakes winning five-year-old Table Talk got back in the winning register as trainer-driver Bart Dalious steered a 1:54.4 win in a $5,500 Mares pace. The victory was the second of the season for the Bettor's Delight-Place At The Table Mare owned by The Wiz Kids Stable who now has 10 career wins and earnings of $486,271. Wynnfrith (Wolfenden) and Cover Up Hall (Vic Kirby) were second and third respectively. Ross Wolfenden and Corey Callahan made three trips each to the winner's circle while Sean Bier, Tony Morgan and trainers Tim Crissman and Nick Callahan and owner Breakaway Racing, all recorded doubles. EMPRESS DEO GETS OUTSIDE IN $20,000 MARES OPEN HANDICAP Empress Deo seeks repeat in the $20,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap pace on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Dover Downs. An impressive 1:52.3 winner last week, Legacy Racing’s Empress Deo has won this event two of the previous three weeks with a just-missed second by a nose in-between. Allan Davis has been her regular driver. There is plenty of talent among the opposition. Elliesjet N, racing for Josh Parker, B Spedden, K Evans and Nanticoke Racing was a fast finishing second last week for Jonathan Roberts while Tim Tetrick-driven Scandalicious cut out the early place and had to settle for third beaten a length.  Two former Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) champions who have gone on to more success are rival distaffs in the week’s top event for female pacers. Mike Pagonas’ Inititowinafortune, trained by Mike Russo, is a $637,097 career winner while Purrfect Bags, a major stakes winner while a juvenile, is owned by JoAnn Looney-King and is driven by Vic Kirby. Fashion Showdown, owned by trainer Chris White leaves from the rail with Jim Morand. The only three-year-old in the lineup, David Banks and Layfield Horses’ sharp Sayulita with Tony Morgan, is alongside. Veteran Matinee Dragon driven by Part Berry completes the hard-hitting field.   Ed Maas, Arlene Paisley and Nanticoke Racing’s Terror At Night (Morand) and L&L Stables’ Velocity Lana (Yannick Gingras) lead a $15,000 distaff pace on a strong undercard. Monday through Thursday racing begins at 4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are ‘dark days’ at the track. Fine food is available while watching the races at the acclaimed Winner's Circle Restaurant Buffet. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad  

Limelight Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) made his Saratoga harness racing debut a winning one on Saturday night in the $18,000 Open Pace. The Ron Burke trainee is enjoying another terrific year and brought his talents to the Spa for the first time to take part in the Saturday feature. Assigned the outside post, Limelight Beach blasted out to the early lead in a 26.3 opening quarter but driver Stephane Bouchard gave the five year old pacer a bit of a second quarter breather before he faced his first legitimate challenge in the stretch. Limelight Beach cruised away in the final strides to prevail in 1:51.3 on a chilly December night in the Spa City. Artful Way (Frank Coppola Jr) came on to finish second while JK Panache (Mark Beckwith) had to settle for third. Limelight Beach was the race's 6-5 favorite in the betting and led an exacta and triple that paid $32.20 and $84.50, respectively. Burke had a training triple on the Saturday card. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella  

DOVER, Del.--- Easy Lover Hanover completed a modern day harness racing 'Cinderella story' by winning the $314,600 Hap Hansen Progress Pace in 1:49 at Dover Downs on Monday, Nov. 28 Purchased a year ago after a monumental fire whipped-out owner Brad Grant and trainer Ben Wallace's stable in Ontario, Easy Lover Hanover was purchased at the Meadowlands Sale early this year for $70,000 and it turned into a 15-race winner of more than $300,000, with a personal record 1:49 performance in the final major stake of 2016. Youthful driver Doug McNair made good use of starting from post 1 by trailing race-favorite Check Six (Yannick Gingras) through fast early fractions before finding room along the passing lane to finally pass the leader late in the stretch for the victory. Owner Brad Grant and trainer Ben Wallace were elated in the winner's circle. "He was a great horse to buy," said Wallace. "He won the first five races we had. While giving the horse some time off, we gelded him, which we had planned when we got him. After wins at Mohawk and Woodbine, we decided to put up $25,000 to supplement him to this race." Wallace continued, {Doug McNair had driven him all season for us and he did another good job tonight." Easy Lover Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere- Easy GoGo, completed his sophomore season with 15 wins 4 seconds and 2 thirds. He nearly equaled his seasonal earnings with the Han Hansen Progress Pace earning lifting the total to $314,124. Allan Davis, Vic Kirby and Tim Tetrick had two winners each. PURRFECT BAGS SEEKS AVENGENCE IN $20,000 MARES OPEN  Purrfect Bags, Delaware’s own Cinderella Story female pacer seeks to avenge her odds-on losing appearance in her last start in the $20,000 Fillies and Mares Open pace on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at Dover Downs. A $2,000 weanling purchase that became a Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) and stakes winning juvenile, was the overwhelming public choice last time out but after taking the early lead, the now four-year-old owned by JoAnn Looney-King faltered on the final turn and finished fourth the $20,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap pace. Her regular driver meet leader Vic Kirby will be in the bike for trainer Jim King seeking to rebound. Last Tuesday, Legacy Racing’s Empress Deo and Allan Davis scored a wire-to-wire 1:52.3 victory in this event. Elliesjet N, driven by Jonathan Roberts, was second from start to finish for Barry Spedden, Ken Evans, Nanticoke Racing and trainer Josh Parker, her second straight runner-up performance. JFE Enterprise’s Scandalicious with Tim Tetrick starts from the outside post 8. Howard Taylor’s strong contender Shine N Shimmer drew post 1 with George Dennis driving for trainer Doug Lewis. Alongside is the only three-year-old in the lineup George Teague and Teague Racing Partnership’s stakes-seasoned Miss Me Yet handled by Montrell Teague. Rounding out the eight-female field are Chris White owned and trained competitor Fashion Showdown reined by Corey Callahan and the game veteran Matinee Dragon with Pat Berry driving for Lou Catana and co-owner trainer Vince Bradley.   Monday through Thursday racing begins at 4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are ‘dark days’ at the track. Fine food is available while watching the races at the acclaimed Winner's Circle Restaurant Buffet. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad

WILKES-BARRE PA - Sweet Beach, unraced in 21 days and with only one trip behind in the gate in the last 41, paced back to his pedigree (and rumored sharp training reports) in taking the final harness racing feature race of the year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, a $20,000 conditioned pace, in 1:51.2 over "sloppy +1" going in 40 degree temperatures. The five-year-old altered son of Somebeachsomewhere - Sweet Paprika, she a half-sister to Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet with $6.2M in racetrack earnings, profited from an early break by favorite Alta Jerome N, taking early command then letting Theartofconfusion A go to the top past the quarter. Driver Anthony Napolitano bided his time with Sweet Beach, then came out of the 2-hole and wore down the pacesetter by a half-length for his second straight win, having taken his mark of 1:50 in his last race. Tom Cancelliere trains the talented pacer for brother/owner John. Rangers Sureshot, claimed by Ron Burke last week for $17,500, stepped up to $25,000/$30,000 company on Saturday and took the $18,000 high-level claiming handicap pace in 1:52.3, just a tick off his lifetime mark. Driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes, who won both the dash winning and percentage titles in their respective categories, were trying for their sixth straight win in this class and had favored Freeneasy Hanover on the lead, but the victorious Palone Ranger gelding made a big sweeping move late on the backstretch to join the leader on the turn, and Rangers Sureshot proved a half-length better tonight than the gritty Freeneasy Hanover. Matt Kakaley handled the sulky duties behind Rangers Sureshot for trainer Burke and Burke Racing Stable LLC / Weaver Bruscemi LLC - and that trio went home with both the first and second-place finishers in the race, as they claimed Freeneasy Hanover for $25,000 as well. Earlier, Windsun Stetson joined Terror Aint A Fool as the only two-time "bombers" of the Pocono meet when he won race two for driver Eric Carlson and paid $50.20, as Windsun Stetson had paid $72.20 in victory only three weeks earlier. Carlson wound up with four of the last six $50+ horses in 2016 at Pocono - while Terror Aint A Fool can add the two longshot victoires here to the distinction of being the first $50+ horse at The Meadows in 2016!   PHHA / Pocono    

FORT WASHINGTON, MD - Shamballa has clashed with Always B Miki and/or Wiggle It Jiggleit in his six most recent starts, each time finishing behind harness racing's highly celebrated superstars. With Always B Miki recently retired and Wiggle It Jiggleit on a much-deserved vacation, Shamballa will assume the starring role in Tuesday evening's $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway. Trainer Rick Zeron, who owns the 6-year-old gelding in a partnership with Tao Racing, Howard Taylor and Cool Cat Racing, looks forward to participating in the inaugural Potomac Pace but expresses no feelings of frustration over Shamballa's fate in his last six outings. "I always looked at it as an honor to have a horse that good to be able to phone a racing secretary up and enter my horse to take on those horses," Zeron said. "I never ever took it as being frustrating. I looked at it as a challenge as in, 'Can we beat the big boys today? Or are we going to be second or third best.'" Of course, it's not like Shamballa always had to settle for second or third behind Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit. The son of Somebeachsomewhere, in fact, is the only horse to beat both Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit in the same race, capturing the $225,000 U.S. Pacing Championship at Meadowlands Aug. 6. The trainer's son Scott Zeron was at the controls for that day and will drive him once again at Rosecroft. "The race set up quite well, because Wiggle It Jiggleit went out there with Always B Miki. Miki didn't back up; he didn't get in the hole; he wanted the front end and Wiggle It Jiggleit didn't want to give it to him. So they were fighting, scrapping, pretty good going to the quarter-pole right through to the half," Rick Zeron recalled. "My son was sitting back about fifth with Shamballa and moved him to the inside going to the half. Freaky Feet Pete came out of the 3 Hole and took a run at Always B Miki on the front end. We just followed him, second over, and halfway down the lane Scott tipped him out and got the jump on Freaky Feet Pete and Always B Miki. Wiggle It Jiggle It at the time was caught in a hole. When Wiggle It Jiggleit broke loose, we were too far gone. We were at the wire." Shamballa's victory over 'The Big Three' was a big one but the most memorable race of the year for his trainer was his gelding's second-place finish at the Red Mile Oct. 9, when Always B Miki beat him by 1¼ lengths while pacing the fastest mile in harness racing history with a 1:46 clocking. "The big race obviously was the U. S. Pacing Championship, but the highlight of the year was when we raced in the Allerage in Kentucky with Always B Miki," Zeron said. "Wiggle It Jiggleit wasn't there that week. I told Scott, "You go on out of there. Always B Miki will come and pace around you. See if you can stay with him and try to beat him down the lane. The race went in 1:46 flat and my horse went in 1:46-and-1. We came home in 26-and-1." Shamballa has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in a field of eight pacers that includes Mel Mara, rated second at 3-1 on the strength of back-to-back Open Preferred victories at Yonkers following a third-place finished behind Wiggle It Jiggleit in a $250,000 Yonkers Invitational Oct. 15. Rated third at 4-1 is Mach It So, who finished second in the Nov. 14 $400,000 TVG Pace, in which Always B Miki called it a career on a winning note. Corey Callahan is scheduled to drive Mel Mara, while Tim Tetrick is slated to guide Mach It So. Tetrick's younger brother Trace Tetrick has been named to drive Wakizashi Hanover, who is rated at 10-1 but rates consideration looking to an upset victory over Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $1 million North America Cup at Mohawk last year. The 4-year-old gelding, who was subsequently sidelined with a breathing problem that required two surgeries, returned to winning form last time out with an Open Handicap victory at Dover Downs in 1:49.2. All Bets Off, Keystone Velocity, Split the House and Dealt a Winner round out a well-balanced field. The Potomac Pace has been carded as the 10th race on a 13-race program with a first-race post time set for 6:40 p.m. Admission and parking are free. David Joseph  

TORONTO, November 19 - Downbytheseaside got one back on harness racing rival Huntsville Saturday night in the $520,000 Governor's Cup at Woodbine Racetrack. The Brian Brown trained colt delivered a powerful performance to win the final major race of the season for two-year-olds in 1:51.1. Driven by David Miller, Downbytheseaside was unhurried at the start and got away fifth, directly behind Huntsville, the 1/5 favourite. Air Strike charged off the wings of the gate from post nine and put up an opening-quarter of :27.2. Huntsville got his cue to go from driver Tim Tetrick after the opening-quarter and rushed up to grab the front. However, Miller was not going to let the favourite get away and followed Huntsville to the front, ultimately clearing to command at the half in :55.2. Downbytheseaside and Huntsville began to edge away from their competition on the far turn, as the leader paced a solid third-quarter of :27.3 to reach three-quarters in 1:23. In the stretch, Huntsville angled off Miller's back and took his shot at glory, but Downbytheseaside was fired up and turned aside his rival to win by 3¼ lengths. Saturday's contest was the first start for both colts since Downbytheseaside finished runner-up to Huntsville in the Breeders Crown. "I was just kind of waiting to see what Tetrick did and when he moved I thought I better get with him," said Miller following the race. "My horse got to the front and he swells up when he is on the lead and he was very strong, I never pulled his plugs, he paced right through the wire." The Governor's Cup was the fifth meeting of the season between Downbytheseaside and Huntsville. The season series comes to an end with Huntsville holding a three to two advantage, but Downbytheseaside now has a signature victory to be held up against Huntsville's Breeders Crown score. "I honestly thought I was second best," Miller said post-race. "But I thought if the trip worked out or one of us got used pretty hard getting where they wanted to go, I maybe could pick it up. I was able to get to the front without too big of fractions and like I said he is a good horse." A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Downbytheseaside now has eight wins in 13 starts. The Brown trainee completes his rookie season with earnings of $644,706 for owners Country Club Acres Inc, Joe Sbrocco and Richard Lombardo. Huntsville's two-year-old season comes to a close with seven wins and four runner-up finishes in 11 starts. The Ray Schnittker trainee also by Somebeachsomewhere pocked over $700,000 for his connections this season.  Third in the race at least seven lengths was Filibuster Hanover also by Somebeachsomewhere to make it a clean sweep by the champion son of Mach Three. Downbytheseaside and Huntsville each finish 2016 with the title of co-fastest two-year-old of all-time, as both took a mark of 1:49 in early-October at The Red Mile. The standout rookies finished one-two in all five of their meetings this season. A $2 win ticket on Downbytheseaside in the Governor's Cup returned $6.70. The top-five finishers in Saturday's rich contest were rounded out by Filibuster Hanover, Bettors Dream and Air Strike. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, November 17 - Going for his seventh-consecutive harness racing win in his 11th start of the season, Huntsville headlines the $520,000 Governors Cup Final on Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The homebred Somebeachsomewhere colt for owner-trainer Ray Schnittker and Charles Iannazzo, owned along with partners Steven Arnold and Ted Gewertz, has amassed $603,234 in earnings this season, taking a mark of 1:49 at The Red Mile in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. "We had two other colts, both were [by] Somebeach[somewhere], but they just never finished their last hundred feet," Schnittker said. "Both of those horses had about $350,000, $400,000 made, but they never had that pop. [Huntsville] was second at Chester the one day; he got shuffled into the last turn and was still big enough to come home in a [1]:51 mile; he showed me he might have what it takes." Most of Huntsville's wins this year have come on the lead, with his effort in the Breeders Crown elimination being one of his few off-the-pace performances. Huntsville in Breeder's Crown "He's pretty nice to drive," Schnittker said. "He can leave, sit a hole, and he's very comfortable. He really feels like he wants to get by at the end of the mile; towards the wire." Huntsville's 1:49.1 victory in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace was his last start heading into the Governors Cup, as no eliminations were necessary. "I've had enough races the way these have been going," Schnittker said. "Other than that race in the mud [at The Red Mile in a Bluegrass division], every race he has been in or has gone [1]:51 or better. Those miles start beating up on them, but so far he has been taking them pretty well. "We trained him in a mile of [1]:57 at Goshen, and are more or less trying to keep an edge on him. He's probably as sharp as he's ever going to get right now; it's hard to keep him this good this long." Tim Tetrick will drive Huntsville from post position two. "The way they cross the track at Woodbine I don't think post matters that much," Schnittker said. "If we were at the Meadowlands, I'd like [post] two a lot better, but I think Woodbine's pretty fair that way." The Governor's Cup will be Huntsville's last race this season. "I haven't really looked at the schedule [for next year], but he's going to get a good eight to ten weeks off," said Schnittker. "We'll bring him back when he's ready." Ray Cotolo for WEG Communications      

WILKES-BARRE PA -- Lyons River Pride, second upon coming to the U.S. after campaigning at Mohawk, improved on that finish by one position in the $16,000 distaff "nw 7 races" pace Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, brushing to the lead past the 1/4 and then holding off inside harness racing rallier Mother Of Art by a head in 1:53.   The sophomore Somebeachsomewhere miss, owned by Geoffrey Lyons Mound, had shown her quality by being race-timed in 1:51.1 at The Meadowlands in her last start, giving the crowd the confidence to back her down to 3-5 odds, and while that confidence may have been shaken as Mother Of Art narrowed in in the Pocono Pike, it was not broken at the wire as Lyons River Pride raised her earnings to $153,389 for driver Jim Taggart Jr. and trainer Buzzy Sholty.   Classic Carpet unleashed a strong stretch kick to overhaul her rivals by 1 1/2 lengths and win the $15,500 mares co-featured pace in 1:53. Standing out in stark relief to the rest of the card at press time -- eight of the first nine favorites won -- Classic Carpet was the longest shot on the board in race ten despite having won two of her last three starts, but the Western Terror belied the odds by storming her own last split in 27.3 to win for owner/trainer John Leggio.   We forgot to mention the driver? But you could have guessed that one -- the longest shot on the board was riven by Pocono's King Of The Longshots, Marcus Miller.   There are only three cards left in the 2016 harness racing season at The Downs -- this Saturday night the 19th, a week from today (Tuesday the 22nd), and then closing night the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the 26th.   PHHA / Pocono      

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