For the second straight week I lost money (-$4.10) on win bets but with the cold exactas and trifectas in the Messenger Stakes and Valley Victory, we made decent money for the weekend. This weekend we have super cards Friday at Hoosier Park and Saturday at Vernon Downs plus we travel north of the boarder to Woodbine Racetrack for their good Preferred Trot. Good Luck! $50,000 Pace Monument Circle consolation 3yo colts Hoosier 6th race FRIDAY - May only be the consolation race but still a very good match-up. I am going with Capital Account. Early season sensation has been putting in decent efforts except for his last outing against tougher. Draws well, rested and should be able to regain winning form against this field. Use Somestarsomewhere and Somesizesomestyle in exotic plays. $193,000 Trot Moni Maker 3yo fillies Hoosier Park 8th race FRIDAY - Best fillies in the nation will go out at it in here but the smart money has to go with Shake It Cerry. Won't be a walk in the park as she faces four other return winners in the field but she has beaten most of them throughout the season and can do it again. Use Lifetime Pursuit and Riveting Rosie in exotic plays. $176,500 Pace Nadia Lobell 3yo fillies Hoosier Park 9th race FRIDAY - Since winning the Jugette and rolling through five straight wins, Color's A Virgin has been sensational in Indiana for two years. She really gets tested once against facing the best in the nation. But even from post eight she is rightly the morning line favorite to win it all. Use Precocious Beauty and Katie Said in exotic plays. $230,000 Trot Carl Erskine 3yo colts Hoosier Park 10th race FRIDAY - Will be really interesting to see how Indiana's top colt, Rose Run Parker, who is going for his eighth straight win, will fare against the number one rated colt in the nation, Father Patrick. I am going to have to stick with Father Patrick as has beaten the best all season long. Use Rose Run Parker and Il Sogno Dream in exotic plays. $211,500 Pace Hoosier Park Pacing Derby FFA Hoosier Park 11th race FRIDAY - Half of the field are return winners but I am going with the horse who has lost his last three starts, only by a nose and a head. That's Foiled Again. Game class master can still show his heels to younger rivals and from outside post he might even be able to work out a trip to take this field. Use Sweet Lou and Clear Vision in exotic plays. $275,000 Pace The Monument Circle Final 3yo colts Hoosier 12th race FRIDAY - Wow...Limelight Beach, JK Endofanera, Always B Miki, Let's Drink On It, nearly all the best colts in the country going head and head for big money. I am taking a shot that Always B Miki got a week's rest after his big win at Hoosier where he romped by 8 Â½ lengths and can do it again. Use JK Endofaneara and Limelight Beach in exotic plays. $34,000 Trot Preferred Woodbine Racetrack 5th race SATURDAY - Great matchup here between the return of Intimidate against Daylon Magician. When he is right he can beat any trotter there is and I think that Intimidate is ready to fire it up after good rest and very sharp qualifying win last week. Outside post is only hindrance. Use Daylon Magician and Slip Into Glide in exotic plays. $178,000 Pace Artiscape older mares Vernon Downs 6th race SATURDAY - Trainers PJ Fraley and Ron Burke seem to have the deck stacked, each with a three-horse entry. Doesn't matter because I am going with Joe Holloway's Somwherovrarainbow. She showed her former self last week with impressive win at Harrah's. All she needs is come live cover and she can score again. Use Fraley entry of Krispy Apple, Shelliscape, Anndrovette with Burke entry of Rocklamation, Summertime Lea and Camille in exotic plays. $240,500 Trot Kindergarten Final 2yo colts Vernon Downs 7th race SATURDAY - While the Erv Miller entry of Airman Batten and SS Poseidon are the race favorite, I am going with French Laundry. He has the gate speed to get good position and has shown great closing speed, :27.3 in his last start. Yannick will work his magic to get this one home. Use Airman Batten/SS Poseidon entry and Boots N Chairns/Suit And Tie entry in exotic plays. $251,100 Trot Kindergarten Final 2yo fillies Vernon Downs 8th race SATURDAY - Jimmy Takter's entry of Sarcy and Lil U Hanover have not been world beaters this season but have drawn well and have both shown good trot in recent action and gets a slim call in here over Allerage Star. Use Allerage Star and Queen The Bea in exotic plays. $178,000 Trot Muscle Hill older mares Vernon Downs 9th race SATURDAY - Great field of trotting mares featuring numerous world champions and a Horse of the Year! Who to pick? The class of the field is Bee A Magician, who last week was a game third in the International Trot against the world's best. Despite drawing outside post nine I think she is in a perfect spot for Brian Sears to work out a great trip to score from. Use Classic Martine and Perfect Alliance in exotic plays.
Brian Sears, Jody Jamieson and Chris Christoforou, three of harness racing’s top reinsmen, are nearing major milestones in their career dash totals. With their busy race schedules, all three drivers should be able to hit their milestone marks by this coming weekend. Sears leads the way with 8,994 wins as of today and thus is just six away from #9,000. When he hit that milestone, Sears will become only the 16th driver in the history of harness racing in North American to achieve 9,000 wins. Jody Jamieson currently has 6,995 career wins and is just five away from #7,000 while Chris Christoforou is at 5,994 wins and six away from #6,000. Good luck to all three drivers this week! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Natural Herbie, at odds of 9-1, posted his fourth straight win with a world record performance at Yonkers Raceway Saturday, beating many of the best trotters in the world in the $250,000 International Preview. Despite being parked-out first-over on the outside from after the opening quarter half mile in the one and one-quarter mile extra distance race, owner/trainer/driver Verlin Yoder properly rated his Indiana-bred four-year-old gelded son of Here Comes, inching his way towards race leader Arch Madness (George Brennan) and Commander Crowe (Orjan Kihlstrom). Then on the final turn, Natural Herbie had not only collared the leaders, but took the lead and then held off Commander Crowe to win by three-quarters of a length with Bee A Magician (David Miller) third. His time for the race, 2:24.4, according to the United States Trotting Association, set the world record for the extra distance on a half mile track, surpassing the 19-year-old record of 2:26.2, that was set in 1995 by His Majesty S (Stefan Melander) in the International Trot at Yonkers, besting it by nearly two full seconds. From the start of the race the Iwas furious as 6/5 race favorite, Sebastian K and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt tried to get to the lead but was hung three-wide by Arch Madness and Commander Crowe and for the first time in the USA, make a break and had to be taken back to last place. Arch Madness took command with Commander Crowe on his back to the opening quarter mile in :27.4 as Yoder moved Natural Herbie to the outside first-over, then Arch Madness led to the half mile in 1:26.2 with Yoder biding his time on the outside. They pasted the mile marker in 1:55.1 and that was when Natural Herbie kicked in another gear and took command. For Yoder, it was his first time ever to New York City and to have competed at Yonkers Raceway. “It was a little bit earlier then I wanted to, but I had to move,” said Verlin Yoder when asked about sending Natural Herbie first-over. “He stood up to it. He is a nice horse and I have put him in bad spots before and he always comes through. But he had his work cut out for him tonight. “It’s an honor to have beaten a field like this,” Yoder said. “It keeps me speechless. I don’t know what to say. He’s done way above whatever I expected him to do. He’s got a lot of talent and he is a very smart horse. And he knows how to win races. “I was hoping in the backstretch not to have to pull the blinds,” Yoder explained. “When you pull the blinds he gives you another effort. And he waits on it. I had made to the turn when I had to drop them. And he stepped up to the plate and did what he’s supposed to. “I knew he was trotting good (down the stretch),” Yoder said, “and he was trying hard. Whenever he is trying hard he is usually going forward.” A former factory worker who used to build RVs, Yoder has been involved in harness racing since 2004. It started as a hobby, but turned into a fulltime pursuit. He enjoyed his best year in 2013, when he conditioned not only Natural Herbie but Indiana Sire Stakes 3-year-old female trotting champion Lady Blitz. "He's taken me to places I've never been to before," Yoder said about Natural Herbie. "Just being a trainer-driver, it just does not happen nowadays, especially when you own them yourself. It's very special. He took us places that we never expected to go. Yoder, 41, from Indiana, now resides in Bell, Florida and he owns Natural Herbie. It was his 12th win in 23 starts this year. Natural Herbie paid $21.60 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Nuncio and driver John Campbell ended up being just a half-length off of sweeping the harness racing Trotting Triple Crown as Nuncio captured the third jewel, the $500,000 Yonkers Trot final, at Yonkers Raceway Saturday. It seemed nearly an effortless effort for the three-year-old son of Andover Hall, who got away in second place early as Don Dorado (Tim Tetrick) shot to the early lead from post seven. Once they reached the opening quarter mile in an easy :29 second, Campbell moved Nuncio to the front and it was pretty much a cake-walk from that point on. Nuncio led the field to the half mile in a leisurely :58.4 with no one coming up to challenge. In the backstretch Journey (Daniel Dube) was able to flush Datsyuk (Charlie Norris) to come first-over as they passed the three-quarters in 1:27.3. Then on the final turn the pocket-sitting Don Dorado went off-stride and it became a two-horse race to the wire. Nuncio went wide coming down the stretch but Datsyuk was unable to gain ground as Nuncio went on to win by two and one-quarter open lengths in 1:56. Datsyuk held for second place with Resolve (David Miller) finishing third. “Father Patrick has gotten a lot of accolades,” said John Campbell, “And Trixton deservingly so too. But this horse (Nuncio) is just so consistent. I have so much admiration and think so highly of this horse because he always gives me such a big effort. Horses like him are hard to find. “Any horse at this level has to have consistency,” Campbell added, They have to have speed, they have to have heart, but his consistency over two years has just been remarkable. He has never put in a poor performance for me at all.” “It takes a pretty good horse,” Campbell said, “to have never raced on a half mile before and put in two great miles like he has is unbelievable.” It was the 60th edition of the Yonkers Trot and the third time that Campbell has won the Triple Crown jewel. Trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Stall TZ of Vero Beach, FL, it was the tenth win in 15 starts this year for Nuncio. He now sports $1,297,096 in earnings this year. Nuncio paid just $2.10 to win was the 1/9 overwhelming favorite. Nuncio Last week All Bets Off and driver Matt Kakaley barely made it to the final of the $500,000 Messenger Stakes, the third jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown. He tried to wire the field and ended up finishes fourth, beaten just one length. But with the first four official finishers returning for the final, All Bets Off was back in the hunt and drew post six for the final and this time Matt Kakaley made sure no one was able to catch them. Shooting to the early lead with Lyonssomewhere (Brett Miller) fighting off Stevensville (Mark MacDonald) for the two-hole spot, Kakaley made the lead with All Bets Off and cut the mile to the opening quarter mile in a quick :26.3 seconds. Kakaley and All Bets Off were then able to back down the speed slightly, going to the half mile in :55.1 as McWicked and driver David Miller, the 1-2 favorite, made their move first-over from fourth place with Luck Be Withyou (Tim Tetrick) following their outside cover. All Bets Off was in full gear and took the field to the three-quarters in 1:23 and was not letting off the pace. By the top of the stretch, Kakaley and All Bets Off were up by four lengths and then breezed to the wire to win by two and three-quarter lengths in 1:51.1. Luck Be Withyou came on for second with McWicked third. “He wasn’t that good last week,” Matt Kakaley said, “He wasn’t himself. But I had all the faith in the world in Ronnie (Burke) that they would have him ready and they showed up tonight. “I was leaving tonight no matter what,” Kakaley said. “We were not doing to duck’em. He (All Bets Off) can leave so quick. I had him jammed on the car pretty good and he just sprinted right out of there. He was rolling along and had a pretty good hold on me. He was in the bits and felt pretty good and I was pretty confident. “This is huge,” Kakaley said. “This is the biggest win of my career. It’s been a great year for me. And Ronnie has been giving me great opportunities. Things have been going really well thanks to him.” The time of the race for the 50th edition of the Messenger, 1:51.1, was the fastest Messenger Stakes ever held at Yonkers. Sired by Bettor’s Delight, it was the 11th win in 15 starts this year for All Bets Off. Trained by Ron Burke and co-owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stable and Rosemary Shelswell, All Bets Off paid $11.80 to win. All Bets Off By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Usually a trainer seeks out new owners to purchase horses for them to train. But these days harness racing trainer Dee Hotton is taking a different approach. She is seeking other trainers who may want her to train their horses. Hotton, who trains her stable out of the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, Ohio, does not miss a day of training during the winter months as she moves her stable to Pinehurst Racetrack in Pinehurst, North Carolina from January to April and then comes back for the spring and summer race season. “A lot of trainers turn their horses out for the winter,” Hotton says, “and then put them back on the track come springtime. But these days there are a lot of young horses that maybe didn’t make it to the races, or were injured early and already turned out. With the winter’s the past few years so harsh, why not allow me to take their horses with me to Pinehurst and start their comeback early and then when I return they can have their horses back and already in shape to begin training down for the race season or I can have them ready to qualify. “I am still training horses to race myself,” Dee was quick to reply, “But I am also looking to take in outsiders this winter. “Not every horse is going to be stakes caliber,” She explained, “but there are a lot of early closer series at many tracks that they can be prepped in advance to be ready for. And at Pinehurst it is a lot less expensive to train a horse as compared to south Florida. The weather may not be as ideal, but we rarely have a day we can’t get on the racetrack to work out.” Dee Hotton is also seeking harness racing fans who are ready to take the plunge and become actual racehorse owners. “I have partnerships forming where people who have been racing fans can now be a partial owner at a really affordable price,” Hotton explained, “I can put them into the exciting world of harness racing and offer harness racing enthusiasts the opportunity to make the dream of owning a quality Standardbred become a reality. We strive to make horse ownership easy, successful, and fun!” Deirdre “Dee” Hotton founded, owns, and manages the Dee Hotton Stable. She has been involved in harness racing for over 25 years. She dreamed of training horses from a very young age after driving harness horses in Ohio matinee races while in her teens. Graduating from Ohio State with a degree in Horse Production and Management, Hotton made that dream a reality by establishing her own stable. “There is nothing like the experience and delight in watching your horse cross the finish line first,” says Dee Hooton. “The sheer exhilaration of racing is beyond words. At the Dee Hotton Stable we take pride in communicating with our partners and we believe your experience should be very enjoyable and fulfilling. Your life may never be the same after you experience the sensations of being a harness racing owner.” With two brand new tracks opened and racino enriched purses leaping at all four pari-mutuel tracks and at the numerous county fairs throughout the summer, Ohio is the hotbed for harness racing and the Dee Hotton Stable is right in the middle of it all. She also has the best online website at www.deehottonstable.com that has all the details of her operation, rates, past winners and more. If anyone is interested in joining a partnership and getting involved in harness racing as an owner, they are encouraged to contact Dee Hotton anytime and talk about it. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
In one of the classic harness racing stretch drives of the year, Clear Vision and driver Tim Tetrick nosed out Foiled Again and Yannick Gingras in winning the Grand Circuit inaugural $122,000 Dayton Pacing Derby. The time of the race was a track record 1:49 mile and it was the first time that Tetrick had ever driven the horse. It was race favorite Dancin Yankee and driver Tyler Buter who was first to show out of the starting gate, brushing by Night Pro (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) to a speedy :25.4 opening quarter mile. Then at the half mile marker in :53.4, Tetrick sent Clear Vision first-over and they flushed out Foiled Again who went right after Dancin Yankee and took command of the race by the three-quarters in 1:21.1 as Dancin Yankee spit out the bit and began to fade. That left Clear Vision first-over with Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson) on their backs going around the last turn but Clear Vision was still on the move. Collaring Foiled Again at the top of the stretch, those two went at it neck and neck in a driving finish to the wire with Clear Vision barely getting up in the final stride to win it. Apprentice Hanover was two and one-half lengths back in third. “It was very very tight,” said Tim Tetrick after the race, “It was horse race against Foiled Again. He’s one of the best horses I have ever seen, Foiled Again. He just doesn’t give up. He got a little rougher trip then my guy got up right when he needed to. I was loving the trip we were getting but with Foiled Again it’s so tough to get by him. I was in the right spot and my horse worn him down. “He (Clear Vision) is a nice horse and can tough it out,” Tetrick said. “He knows how to get the job done.” An eight-year-old gelding by Western Hanover, it was the sixth win this year for Clear Vision. He is trained by Ron Burke and is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Panhellenic Stable and Jim Koran. He paid $4.60 to win. Tetrick came right back to the winner’s circle in the very next race after he won the $162,000 inaugural Grand Circuit Dayton Trotting Derby for older horses, also in a track record time with Market Share. It was Lindy’s Tru Grit (Scott Zeron) who took full advantage of the rail and sped to the early lead with race favorite Creatine and driver Dan Nobel sitting half in-half out in the two-hole and Daylon Magician (Jack Moiseyev) stuck first-over and floating on the outside in third. They went that way to the opening quarter mile in :26.3. Daylon Magician finally worked his way to the front and then Noble came first-over with Creatine with Wishing Stone (Yannick Gingras) second over and following third over was Market Share to the half mile in :55.1. Then the backstretch, before the three-quarter mile marker in 1:24.1, Tetrick sent Market Share three-wide and they came marching on and were able to clear to the lead after the bold move before the top of the stretch. From there it was a breeze for Market Share as he pulled away from the field and went on to win going away by three and one-half lengths in 1:52.4. Opening Night (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) was able to close for second with Creatine third. “If you look at him (Market Share),” Tetrick said, “he’s not very big but he has a big heart and he tries. It’s been kinda tough on Linda pulling her hair out this season trying to get him right. He’s had some health issues but he now has showed how he has made over $3 million. He’s done it the hard way, he won the Hambletonian, he was a $16,000 yearling and I have a special place (in my heart) for him. “When my horse is on his game,” Tetrick added, “He can race with the best in the country. Maybe by Breeders Crown we can beat Sebastian K.” For Market Share, a five-year-old stallion by Revenue S, it was his fourth win this year for trainer Linda Toscano and owners Richard Gutnick, T L P Stable and Bill Augustine. He paid $7.80 to win. An $11,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace, named in memory of R. J. "Skeeter" Brown, was also featured on the card. Latenite Rendezvous (Chris Page), making her first start at Dayton Raceway, was victorious for the partnership of Jerry Daugherty, Roger Hall and Page. They won in track record time of 1:51.4. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
In the world of harness racing there is not much that super star trotter Sebastian K has not done. The eight-year-old stallion by Korean has nearly $3 million in career earnings, has won most every major event in Europe, came to the USA this year and scored the fastest one mile race in Standardbred history with his 1:49 mile at Pocono Downs. So what’s left for the world champion to prove? How about making his first start ever on a half mile track! That’s right. Sebastian K has never raced on a half mile oval. He has 74 lifetime starts, 34 wins, 14 seconds and 2 thirds in his championship career. But can he handle the sharper turns on a half mile track? “It will not be a problem,” said Bjorn “Bernie” Noren, second trainer for Ake Svanstedt, “He (Sebastian K) is in good shape and with his quick early speed he will be OK on the smaller track.” This Saturday Sebastian K and Svanstedt will start from post six in the $250,000 International Trot Preview at Yonkers Raceway. The invitational event has drawn eight of the top trotters in racing. Included in the field and making his USA debut of another European champion, Commander Crowe, who has raced against Sebastian K in the past. Also in the field and the only mare against male rivals, is the 2013 Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician. In fact, the total career earnings of the eight horses in the race is an amazing $17 million. Both Commander Crowe and Arch Madness are career earners of more than $4 million each. The Yonkers International Trot also tests the stamina of these champion trotters as the race is not the usual distance of one mile, the mainstay of North American harness racing, but is an extra distance race at one and one-quarter mile. How will that affect Sebastian K, who now has to maneuver the sharper turns of a half mile oval five times instead of just four times. “It will affect the American horses much more than it will Sebastian K,” said Noren. “They are not use to going an extra quarter mile, but Sebastian K, Commander Crowe and Arch Madness have all raced extra distances and should have an advantage over the other horses.” Commander Crowe has just come over from Europe and may not have had enough time to recover from the stress of trip and according to Noren, “He may not be at 100% for this race. He is a very great horse but the trip overseas is very tough on a horse. He could be in good shape but I would look for him to be at his best for the Breeders Crown next month at the Meadowlands. “It is good that he (Commander Crowe) has come over here to race,” Noren added, “The competition will help make the races more exciting for everyone here.” When asked to size up the competition against Sebastian K on Saturday, Noren summed it up. “Of course Sebastian K is the best in the race,” Noren chuckled, “And Ake Svantsted is so good at measuring a horse in an extra distance race. I think that Archangel and Arch Madness can be good and if Commander Crowe is feeling good he will be tough too.” The big question in the race will be that most of the horses entered have not set foot on a half mile track for most of their careers and they include Commander Crowe, Archangel, Sebastian K, Natural Herbie and Not Afraid. That’s five of the eight starters. And the other three, Bee A Magician, Obrigado and Arch Madness, have all won or were second in their last starts on Yonkers half mile oval. The morning line has Natural Herbie from post seven as the 3-1 race favorite. He is on a three-race winning streak. Arch Madness is the second choice at odds of 7/2 and for the first time since arriving in the USA, Sebastian K is not the race favorite in the morning line, but third choice at 4-1. With such keen competition, the revival of the International Trot will be quite the event to watch this weekend. Here is the field in post position order: $250,000 International Trot Preview 1 ¼ miles Commander Crowe (Orjan Kihlstrom) 8-1 Bee A Magician (David Miller) 8-1 Archangel (Matt Kakaley) 6-1 Obrigado (Jason Bartlett) 5-1 Arch Madness (George Brennan) 7/2 Sebastian K (Ake Svanstedt) 4-1 Natural Herbie (Verlin Yoder) 3-1 Not Afraid (Brett Miller) 20-1 By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Last week we once again showed a minor loss on win bets (-$3.80) but made money with some decent exacta and tri hits. The action will be fast and furious this weekend as the Grand Circuit is in full swing around North America. We venture to Dayton Raceway Friday for their two opening season main events, the Dayton Pacing Derby and Dayton Trotting Derby for older horses and they have attracted some of the best in harness. Then Saturday its show time at Yonkers with the third jewel of the trotting Triple Crown, the Yonkers Trot, plus the Messenger Pace and the revival of the International Trot. Then over to Woodbine for the Big Four Finals, the Governor's Cup, Valley Victory, Goldsmith Maid and Three Diamonds. Great racing and good luck! $122,000 Pace Dayton Pacing Derby Dayton Raceway 11th race FRIDAY - After crushing much weaker opposition the last two weeks, Dancin Yankee gets back to taking on the big boys but I think he is ready for the challenge. It will be a slugfest for sure but based on his last two impressive wins I think that Dancin Yankee is up for the challenge. Use Foiled Again and Clear Vision in exotic plays. $162,000 Trot Dayton Trotting Derby Dayton Raceway 12th race FRIDAY - Racing fans at Dayton will get to see some good trottin action in here. Well matched field has some superstar performers but I think that Creatine has returned to his old self from last year as of late and will continue to dominate the older trotting ranks. His last two wins were super impressive and can take another in here. Use DW's NY Yank and Wishing Stone in exotic plays. $464,000 Trot Goldsmith Maid Final Woodbine Racecourse 3rd race SATURDAY - It's make it or break it and I mean that literally as Mission Brief has the race her own to win or lose. If she minds her manners she will take this field with trot to spare but if she jumps it off as she has in the past then the others will have a field day. I think this world champion has turned the corner on her bad manners off her past two starts and will wire the field again. Use Gatka Hanover and Jolene Jolene in exotic plays. $500,000 Trot Yonkers Trot Final Yonkers Raceway 5th race SATURDAY - Nuncio has now been barred from wagering on the race. So from a wagering perpsective, I will go to my second choice, Gural Hanover. So even if he finishes second to Nuncio, you still win. He won his elim with ease and has been super sharp all season with 10 wins. I still think Nuncio will capture the third jewel of the trotting triple crown. Nuncio has been razor sharp and with no Father Patrick or Trixton to go again I think he will wire the field for John Campbell to take two of the three jewels of the Triple Crown. Now use Datsyuk and Don Dorado in exotic plays. $521,000 Trot Valley Victory Final Woodbine Racecourse 5th race SATURDAY - No matter how hard you look at this field you just can't pick against Habitat. He has had an awesome season and is currently on a three-race winning streak for the Ron Burke Stable. His only loss in last two months was when he was not on the front end so figure that Gringras will be sending him in here. Win last week from post eight was very impressive. Use Uncle Lasse and Pinkman in exotic plays. $500,000 Pace Messenger Stake Final Yonkers Raceway 6th race SATURDAY - It will be a real good race for the third jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown here. I am going against the morning line and taking the entry of All Bets Off/Forty Five Red from the Ron Burke Stable. Despite outside posts they both have what it takes to win, one is all front end speed, the other great closing speed (at least last week) and combined they can win and pay a price. Use Luck Be Withyou and McWicked in exotic plays. $565,000 Pace Governor's Cup Final Woodbine Racecourse 7th race SATURDAY - Here is another situation where it is all up to the horse. If Artspeak has his head on straight and decides not to make a break and he returns to his former self he can take this field for fun. But he has not been right the last two weeks. I'm betting that he will put the past behind him and rise up in returning to his winning ways. Use Pierce Hanover and Lyons Again in exotic plays. $124,590 Trot Hudson Filly Final Yonkers Raceway 7th race SATURDAY - Disappointing short field for this Grand Circuit event and I think the Ron Burke Stable will finish one-two with their strong entry of Market Rally/Avalicious. Market Rally is the strong horse of the two and is the NYSS champion filly. Avalicious is coming off a lifetime mark of 1:53.2 at Pocono Downs. Too tough to go again. Use Highest Peak and Bambino Supreme in exotic plays. $150,854 Pace Lady Maud Final Yonkers Raceway 8th race SATURDAY - Last week in winning her elimination division for this final, Act Now showed her dominance and also that she can handle a half mile track with a very impressive 1:53.1 romp by three open lengths. All she needs to do in here is repeat that effort and she is home free. Use Fancy Desire and the entry of Beautiful Lady/A La Notte Hanover in exotic plays. $424,000 Pace Three Diamonds Final Woodbine Racecourse 9th race SATURDAY - Currently the only unbeaten star in North America, JK She'salady goes for her tenth straight win in here. She has just been perfect in every start all season long and continues to roll on by her opponents once again. Use The Show Returns and Band Of Angels in exotic plays. $250,000 Trot International Trot Preview Yonkers Raceway 9th race SATURDAY - Saving the best for last this weekend. Throw out the morning line on this race, it was done by a computer. This is real trotting action at its best. And the best in here is Sebastian K. While Commander Crowe and Arch Madness have nearly twice the lifetime earnings of Sebastian K, their best days are behind them. Sebastian K may be making his first start ever on a half mile oval but he will overcome it with little issue. The extra quarter mile in this distance race is the difference that Sebastian K will flourish on. Use Bee A Magician and Natural Herbie in exotic plays.
Over the past few weeks one of harness racing’s top young performers, Artspeak, has seemed to have fallen apart to a degree. The two-year-old son of Western Ideal had been enjoying a perfect season, was unbeaten in seven starts and everyone in the industry was talking about him becoming the second “Captaintreacherous” for trainer Tony Alagna. Then came the second week in Lexington. Artspeak made his big move in the backstretch, cleared to the lead after the half mile marker and as they started down the stretch he did something he never did before. He made a break. He went off-stride for driver Scott Zeron, was able to regroup but it was too late as In The Arsenal won the race and Cartoon Daddy was second and Artspeak had to settle for third place. OK, Artspeak is not a machine, he is flesh and blood and he is still a somewhat green young horse that can have a “bad day” so you don’t look back and move forward to the next race. Remember this is the colt that romped in the Metro Final. That next race was the following week, the eliminations at Woodbine Racecourse for the prestigious Governors Cup. Drawing the outside post eight, Zeron gets away in fourth place with Artspeak, can’t seem to follow any cover, then gets rough gaited and makes a break before the three-quarter pole. But once again he regroups for Zeron and finishes third to make this Saturday’s $565,000 final. But what is going on with Artspeak? Why is he breaking? What happened to this unbeaten colt that was all the talk of harness racing? Since Artspeak isn’t speaking to anyone about what happened we went to the next best source, trainer Tony Alagna. “The day he raced at Lexington,” Alagna said, “We chalked that up to the way the track was that day. A few horses made breaks that normally don’t make breaks. We took him home and he was fine. Trained great and then we race him again and he breaks again. “We were really taken by surprise when he broke again,” Alagna said. “I was just happy that he was able to come back and finish third and make the final. We are not really sure why he did it again. I came up early to Canada and trained him today and all systems are good for the weekend.” Artspeak drew post six in the 7th race Governors Cup final. He will be facing nine rivals, most of whom he had handily beaten in the past. “He is still green in many ways,” Alagna explained. “Even when we baby raced him he showed some tendencies to want to make a break on the final turn, but once he started racing that was a thing of the past. He has matured over the summer and he was a good this morning as he has been all season and we are going into the race this weekend in top form. “When you look at his lines,” Alagna said,” in both races where he made the breaks, he still was able to come back and pace his last quarters in :27 and change to finish third. Horses usually don’t come back from breaks and do that. Even with his bobble last week he still paced as fast as the other elimination winner.” Provided that Tony Alagna is correct and Artspeak is back to form, then the rest of the field had better watch out. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
On Halloween this year while children and the “young at heart” will be out trick and treating in the neighborhood, an unsung hero in the sport of harness racing will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Unknown to many of the younger generation in our industry, Aime Choquette, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, has been a “behind the scenes” great in harness racing and on October 31, Aime will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Born in 1914 in Sherbrooke, Aime returned to his home town four years ago and lives a quiet life in an assisted living center. He is close to his sister, age 94, and has breakfast with her every week. “I don’t get around as much as I use to,” Aime says, “I have to use a walker now but that has only been this past year. But other than that I think I am doing pretty well for almost 100 years old. I smile every day thinking how fortunate I am to have lived this long. I never thought growing up that I would live to see my 100th birthday.” A confirmed bachelor, Choquette, who did not get into the harness racing industry until he was age 38, had spent the next 52 years devoted to the sport. Starting out as a trainer of show jumping horses in Quebec, Canada, it was in 1952 that Choquette first switched over to become a caretaker in the Delvin Miller Stable, a relationship that would last for more than 30 years and see many world and Grand Circuit champion trotters and pacers come from the Miller Stable. “At the time I was maybe one of the best show jumpers in all of Canada,” Aime explained. “One day at a big event in Trois-Rivieres in 1951 at the Warwick Horse Show, I did a jump that no one had ever attempted before. I jumped the great horse Pete Hackley, over four jumps that were set up next to each other. “Delvin Miller happen to be in the area at that time and heard about the jump I had made,” Aime said, “and he was introduced to me and said he was interested in having me work for his stable and learn about harness racing. At the time the show horse business was going downhill and harness racing was moving uphill, so I took up his offer.” Promoted to second trainer in 1959, Choquette would travel throughout North America on the grand circuit with Delvin Miller for most of his life, prepping yearlings at Miller’s famous Meadow Lands Farm in Pennsylvania and wintering at Pompano Park in Florida. One of Choquette’s quotes that has stood the test of time include: “…we educate them, we never break them…” In referring to the early training of young horses. During Choquette’s long career he has shared his horsemanship, wisdom and friendship with many of today’s racing industry leaders, who were grooms under Choquette’s tutelage. They include the late Andy Grant, former president of the Hambletonian Society, and the late Castleton Farms president, John Cashman, Tom Charters, current president of the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown, Jerry Monahan, Red Mile GM, former USTA Registrar Bob Leuhrman, Jim Moran of Vernon Downs, horsemen Walter Bonafice, Don McKirgan, Lenford “Bucky” Waugh, Bob Yohn, Soren Landin, Tomas Nilsson, Fred Kristofiak, David Seitz and many others. Some would say that Choquette could be a tough taskmaster, but tempered that with his natural talent for teaching that was often reinforced with the reminder that…“You young fellas are here to learn.” And the horses that Choquette worked with reads like a “Who’s Who” of harness racing greats including Countess Adios, Dancer Hanover, O’Brien Hanover, Speed In Action, Tarport Hap, Meadow Bright, Songflori, Arndon and Delmonica Hanover, just to name a few. And Amie also traveled around the world with Delvin Miller, racing their great stable and winning nearly every major stakes race in harness racing. Amie alone took Delmonica Hanover to France and prepped her for her victory in the prestigious Prix d’Amerique. “I saw those hills at the Vincennes racetrack,” Aime recalled, “and realized that she (Delmonica) would have to race up and down them and never could miss a step so I would train her in short trips every day, up and down until she knew it made no difference and she would trot up and down at full speed with ease. When she beat the boys it was a great day and such a historic event in harness racing.” Even at age 90, trainers would still call upon Aime to come to Pompano Park and the local training centers to watch their horses train a mile and ask him for his opinion on what they were doing right and wrong. They knew that even if Aime could not sit in a sulky anymore, that his eyesight and knowledge were still so keen. In his later years Aime wanted to help those in the business that were less fortunate them himself and with the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, he would funnel money to their sunshine fund. The Chapter then renamed it the Amie Choquette Sunshine Fund and he has donated thousands of dollars that have been given to horsemen in need. This reporter has been a friend of Amie’s for many years and had the opportunity to visit him in Sherbrooke just one month ago. We had breakfast together with racing photographer Ann MacNeill and fellow journalist Melissa Keith and, of course, Aime was full of himself getting to go out with two young women. Aime is still very spry and his memory sharp as a tack. He took out his scrape book to show the ladies photographs from his early years in both show horse and harness racing. He has a great collection of memorabilia dating back older than he is. And he was so pleased to have company who traveled so far just to visit him. And when we left he say goodbye in what was a trademark response that he and Delvin Miller would say to everyone that came to the stable, “We’re glad you got to see us!” Everyone is being encourage to send Amie a birthday card congratulating him on his milestone birthday. His mailing address is Aime Choquette, 2835 Du Manoir, Apt. 220, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1L 2E6. We know he would love to hear from his many friends he has made over the last, let’s say, 100 years! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Monte America will be holding a meeting for the formation of a Florida Racing Under Saddle (RUS) Chapter in the sunshine state Saturday (10/18) at Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village in Delray Beach, FL. The meeting will take place at 1:30 pm in the track kitchen and refreshments will be served. The meeting will be run by Monte America RUS organizer, Pepe Greco. Monte America (www.monteamerica.com) has been created by leaders in harness racing to expose the racing public to Monte trotting, also known as "Racing under Saddle", or "RUS". The United States Trotting Association (USTA) has sanctioned "RUS" monte trotting and provides qualifying standards and qualifying races (through various tracks) for horses and jockeys choosing to participate. Anyone interested in working with this group for the formation of a Florida RUS Chapter, are encouraged to please try and attend this meeting, or can contact Monte America at email@example.com. Monte racing is an exciting part of international Standardbred racing and is conducted daily at most European tracks as part of their regular pari-mutuel wagering programs. Over the past two years there have been Monte RUS series races throughout North America. The Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village entrance is located on the west side of 441/SR 7 south of Atlantic Avenue and north of Clint Moore Road in Delray Beach. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Last week we came up short on the win bets at $-2.90 for the weekend but more than made up for it in some decent exotic scores that totaled more than $350.00. This week there are tons of racing action Friday and Saturday with the Windy City Pace Friday at Maywood Park, the Indiana Sire Stakes finals at Hoosier Park Saturday, Woodbine is back in action with the elims Friday and Saturday for the top freshman stakes, Governors Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds & Goldsmith Maid, Yonkers has the eliminations for the Messenger Pace and Yonkers Trot and we even stop at Batavia Downs for the Robert Kane Memorial Pace. Good Luck! $25,000 Pace Three Diamonds 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 1st race FRIDAY - She is the "little darling" of harness racing. Unbeaten JK She'salady is a perfect 8 for 8 going into her elimination division. She has beaten everyone in this field already this season and continues her domination of the freshman pacing filly ranks. Use Happy Becky and Solar Sister in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Goldsmith Maid 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 3rd race FRIDAY - World record holder Mission Brief either wires the field or runs like a deer. Temperamental filly is super-fast and should be able to win in here. Use Danielle Hall and Stubborn Belle in exotic plays. $37,600 Pace Cinderella Stake 3yo Fillies Maywood Park 8th race FRIDAY - Last week this filly was gutted trying to get to the front and never making it. Lady Shadow has been great for most of the season and has the speed and ability to get the jump on the field and return to winning ways. Use Major Dancer and Kayla Grace in exotic plays. $180,000 Windy City Pace 3yo Colts Maywood Park 9th race FRIDAY - Top stakes race has drawn a very competitive field. After last week's great closing effort in American-National from post 10, I have to go with Somewhere In L A. He is never out of the money and from good inside post he is due to get some great cover to score from. Use Big Boy Dreams and Let's Drink On It in exotic plays. $40,000 Pace Messenger Stake 3yo Colts elim Yonkers 2nd race SATURDAY - This is the prelude to next week's finale as only one will be eliminated from this race. I think the Ron Burke entry of All Bets Off/Forty Five Red will be very tough to beat. All Bets Off has been awesome all season with ten wins. He draws inside and is on a five-race win streak. Use McWicked and National Debt in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Valley Victory 3yo Colt elim Woodbine 3rd race SATURDAY - Having won five of his last six starts makes Habitat the big favorite in here and rightly so. Has beaten almost everyone he has faced this year on the front end and can overcome outside post to do it again. Use Whom Shall I Fear and Noble Power in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 4th race SATURDAY - Being the class of the field does not hurt Nuncio's chances in here, but having only once qualified on a half mile track (won in 1:58.4) at age two makes this a tough start. Draws into easier of two divisions but questionable if can take the turns but Jimmy Takter would not have entered him if he can't handle it. Use Way Outta Here and Don Dorado in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 5th race SATURDAY - The Ron Burke entry of Gural Hanover/Hillustrious looms very tough in here with their 1-2 post positions. Well matched field has to be dwindled down to just four to advance to the final so the action will be fast and furious. Use Flyhawk El Durado and Datsyuk in exotic plays. $200,000 Trot Indiana Sire Stakes 2yo Colt Final Hoosier Park 7th race SATURDAY - This race should belong to Airman Batten as he has won ten of his twelve starts this year and had beaten everyone in the field this season and has done it from on and off the pace. Use Steal N Gas and Homicide Hunter in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace Robert Kane Memorial Invit Batavia Downs 7th race SATURDAY - Changed my mind a couple of times on this race which only shows how competitive the field is. I decided to go with Aracache Hanover off his two straight wins at Yonkers, wiring the field in extra distance races. Use Easy Again and Apprentice Hanover in exotic plays. $25,000 Pace Governors Cup 2yo Colt elim Woodbine 8th race SATURDAY - We Will See tonight if the break by Artspeak was a fluke two weeks ago or if he is getting tired from the tough season. Outside post not much help but with a week's rest if he is fit he will work his magic, get to the front and return to winning ways. Use Dudes The Man and Pierce Hanover in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Fillies Hoosier 11th race SATURDAY - Winner of the Jugette has not missed a beat since her impressive victories in Delaware. Color's A Virgin has won 10 of 14 starts this year and is on a four-race win streak that she should be able to add another triumph to. Use Candy's A Virgin and Always Wearable in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Colts Hoosier 13th race SATURDAY - Having ruled in the Indiana Sire Stakes this season, Always B Miki returns for the rich final for Joe Holloway Stable. Has won five of last six starts, rested a week and should be primed to lay over this field. Use Bluehourpower and If I Lose in exotic plays.
When a trotter is in his or her peak form, getting parked out the mile does not make a difference and that was the case for Zooming at Saratoga Raceway Sunday. As Baby Boy Grin and driver Stephane Bouchard went out to the early lead in the seventh race $17,000 Open Handicap Trot, they comfortably set fractions of :27.3 and :58 with Flex The Muscle (Phil Fluet) sitting the two-hole trip. But before the half mile marker, driver Billy Dobson had race favorite Zooming in high gear and on the move. By the half mile he was second, but Bouchard was not going to let Zooming pass them by and parked them out to the three-quarters in 1:26.2 (a :28.2 quarter) but it was a valiant effort that could not be kept up. Zooming was much the best, took the lead at the three-quarters on the outside, led by one and one-half lengths by the top of the stretch and then held the field at bay as Dobson drove Zooming to a one and three-quarter length triumph in 1:56. Baby Boy Grin held for second place with Pop I (Harry Landy) third. Trained by Amber Buter, Zooming paid $3.80 to win for owners Steve Oldford, Oldford Farms and Tyler Buter. A six-year-old gelding by Classic Photo, it was his 8th win this year and his 31st career win. There was an upset victory in the eighth race $17,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace as Happily Ever After, at odds of 12-1, was given a picture perfect drive by Frank Coppola, Jr. behind pacesetter Godiva Seelster (Wally Hennessey) and won in 1:53.4. Little Santamonica (Shawn Gray) was third. Happily Ever After paid $26.20 to win for trainer Jackie Rousse and the Kellogg Racing Stables, LLC of NY. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
So we had an OK last week of selections but nothing great to brag about. Now we are on to the Grand Circuit at Lexington’s Red Mile with tons of Bluegrass Stakes action today, Saturday and Sunday. Plus Saturday night is the Ohio Sire Stakes Championships at Scioto Downs and we will also venture to Freehold Raceway Saturday for the Lou Babic Memorial. Good Luck! $78,400 Trot Bluegrass Stake 2YO Colts Red Mile 3rd race FRIDAY – Considering that Centurion ATM has nearly three times the purse earnings of anyone else in the field, trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt should be able to take his colt to the front after the opening quarter mile and never look back. $207,000 winner is super good and takes another in here. Use Whataworkout and Mercury Fashion in exotic plays. $78,400 Trot Bluegrass Stake 2YO Colts Red Mile 5th race FRIDAY – Being undefeated in seven starts and owning a record of 1:55.2 in his last starts most certainly makes Billy Flynn the horse to beat in here. Super good trotter will be tested on one mile oval for first time but I think he is up to the task and watch the teletimer in this race. Use Muscle Diamond and Progression in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Lou Babic Memorial Freehold Raceway 9th race SATURDAY – The afternoon delight of harness racing hosts 2yo NJ sired final and it will be an interesting battle between Dealt A Winner and Too Darn Hot. I am going with Dealt A Winner as he has been a winner, winning four of five lifetime starts including some Grand Circuit races. Gets tested on half mile track but shows too much speed to lose in here. Use Too Darn Hot and Rock N’ Roll World in exotic plays. $83,250 Pace Bluegrass Stake 2yo Colts Red Mile 7th race SATURDAY – Top rated colt in the nation gets to strut his stuff on the Red Mile’s clay oval. Artspeak puts his six-race win streak on the line but as long as he has returned from rest break in peak form he should be able to crush this field as he has been doing to others all season long. Use Blood Brother and Traceur Hanover in exotic plays. $92,600 Pace Bluegrass Stake 2yo Colt Pace Red Mile 8th race SATURDAY – This will be a great race with top colts going at it. Giving credit to Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach that he has found his niche and will continue his winning ways against tough competition. Use He’s Watching and Let’s Drink On It in exotic plays. $200,000 Trot OSS Final 3yo Fillies Scioto Downs 10th race SATURDAY – Super strong field of fillies for this final and half the field can be the winner. I am going with Turbochargedroxie as this filly has the front end speed needed to lead all the way as she has done in two of her last three starts, just getting nipped at the wire last week. Use Sandys Victory and Anniesbluejeanbaby in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace OSS Final 3yo Fillies Scioto Downs 11th race SATURDAY – While everyone will be watching Crown Time Keeper from post nine, I think that Paydaze On The Way is the horse to beat. She does not win all the time but is in perfect position to get a dream trip to score from. Burke/Kakaley combo has been super sharp and this one could pay a price. Use Crown The Keeper and Shakin Friskie in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Jim Ewart Memorial Invite Scioto Downs 13th race SATURDAY – Very good field of top pacers from around the nation in this event. I think Sweet Lou needed some rest and should be able to come back to his winning ways and close out the 2014 season with no more losses. Certainly gets tested in here. Use Bigtown Hero and Foiled Again in exotic plays. $86,700 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Fillies Red Mile 5th race SUNDAY – Too tough to even consider going against Jimmy Takter’s Lifetime Pursuit in here. She is so awesome right now and in this short field she can bide her time to make her move to the front and not look back. Use Cooler Schooler and Bikini So Teeny in exotic plays. $94,100 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Colts Red Mile 8th race SUNDAY – With no Father Patrick in this division it becomes Nunzio’s race to win. He has been very good all season long and should be able to trot up a storm in here although you still have to watch out for Datsyuk as he looms a threat whenever he races. Use Datsyuk and Hillustrious in exotic plays. $94,100 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Colts Red Mile 10th race SUNDAY – With the weather forecast calling for sun and warm with no rain all weekend long, the Red Mile’s clay track should be perfect for Father Patrick to put on a trotting clinic in this division. If trainer Jimmy Takter allows Yannick Gingras to cut loose with this exceptional colt the teletimer could explode! Use Auspicious Hanover and Martiniwithmuscle in exotic plays. $86,700 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Fillies Red Mile 11th race SUNDAY – It won’t be a walk in the park for Shake It Cerry in here but she should still be able to have things her own way. Top filly has had a great season and can cap it off with a world record performance in here. Use Take The Money and Highest Peak in exotic plays.
FULL PHOTO ESSAY TOO!
With smart and calculated drives by Yannick Gingras, Limelight Beach won the prestigious Little Brown Jug at Delaware, Ohio Thursday in straight heats. In order to win the Little Brown Jug a horse must win two heats on one day to be declared the winner. Both Let’s Drink On It and Limelight Beach won their elimination divisions and earned posts two and one respectively in the final and they both made the most of their post positions. Gingras left quickly with Limelight Beach with Let’s Drink On It (Tyler Smith) dropping right in behind him in second place. They went to the half mile marker in an easy :57 and then the action started to begin. Somewhere In L A and driver Brett Miller came first-over and gave outside cover to Beat The Drum but it was McWicked and driver David Miller in sixth place on the outside who had the crowd on their feet as they tried to loop the field three-wide at the three-quarters in 1:23. Then on the final turn for home, Gingras looked behind him, saw Let’s Drink On It right on his helmet and backed his horse up so that when they started down the stretch, Tyler Smith would have no room to get loose with Let’s Drink on it and the tactic worked perfectly. Once starting down the stretch, Gingras urged his horse home and they won by one and one-half lengths in 1:50.4. Let’s Drink On It could find no room and was a strong second with Somewhere In L A third. Oddly, today was the first time this year after 12 starts that Limelight Beach had won a race and then to cap it off winning the Little Brown Jug in straight heats. Sired by Somebeachsomewhere, Limelight Beach is trained by Ron Burke and is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, the M1 Stable and Wingfield Brothers. He paid $4.00 to win. They had purchased Limelight Beach earlier this season and prior owners, Charles Wingfield and his brother, stayed on as co-owners. “We just had too much fun with his last year,” said Charles Wingfield, “And we stayed through this race right here. It’s amazing. I can’t believe it.” “I had two great horses to drive in the Jug today,” Yannick Gingras said. “People asked me who I liked better and I said Lyonssomewhere over Limelight Beach, but this horse came up huge today. He went two big heats today.” “We kinda got lucky in the first heat,” Gingras said, “but in the second heat he was tremendous, he was scary. I was looking at the program and I know there was not a lot of speed in the race and my horse the people had to respect his speed. Tyler’s (Smith) horse got out of the gate better than I thought. I kept my horse moving along. I did not want to go slow and he put in an awesome performance. Let’s Drink On It takes first heat of Jug Harness racing driver and 21-year-old local native, Tyler Smith, took Let’s Drink On It three-wide in the backstretch and was able to grind it out to win the $103,600 first heat of the Little Brown Jug. The race began with Lyonssomewhere (Yannick Gingras) shooting right to the lead from the start of the race with At Press Time (Matt Kakaley) grabbing the pocket seat. They raced that way past the opening quarter in :26.4. Then going to the half mile marker in an easy :54.4, Beat The Drum (Ron Pierce) came first-over to challenge and following his cover on the outside was Let’s Drink On It and Tyler Smith. Once they hit the backstretch, Smith moved three-wide with Let’s Drink On It and after the three-quarters in 1:23, had cleared past Beat The Drum and was coming after pacesetter Lyonssomewhere. Then half way around the final turn, Let’s Drink On It had collared Lyonssomewhere when Gingras’s horse went off-stride and had to be pulled off to the inside as Let’s Drink On It shied to the outside and Matt Kakaley with At Press Time just avoided Lyonssomewhere. Let’s Drink On It was able to regroup right away and Tyler Smith urged him on home to win by one and one-half lengths over At Press Time with Beat The Drum third and also making the final was On Golden Ponder (John Campbell) in fourth place. Let’s Drink On It covered the one mile race in 1:51 and at odds of 3-1 paid $8.80 to win. “He was good today,” Smith said, this horse ain’t got a real lot of gate speed. The way it lined up I figured I would be third or fourth and have to come first-over. But luckily Ron (Pierce) came out first and we were able to get a little cover until the backside. I was able to crossover by the last turn, but Yannick’s (Gringras) horse, I don’t know if I could have beaten him but we were gonna take a good crack at him. “I am happy to win,” Smith said, “and to be in the big race. It would mean the world to me to win this race. I would give back all the races I have won just to win the Jug.” Sired by Art Official, Let’s Drink On It is trained by Joe Seekman and is owned by Tina Seekman, L. Bond, H. Hewitt and V. Boido, Jr. Limelight Beach takes second Jug elimination Limelight Beach picked the perfect spot to win his first race of the 2014 season in 13 tries, capturing the $103,600 second heat of the Little Brown Jug. Given a masterful drive by Yannick Gingras, Limelight Beach was able to sit and draft in second place behind pacesetter and 3/5 favorite McWicked and driver David Miller. They went in Indian-style to the opening quarter in :27 and then easy half mile in :55.2 before the action began to heat up. Somewhere In L A and driver Brett Miller came first-over with He’s Watching (Tim Tetrick) following the outside flow to the three-quarters in 1:22.4. Then Somewhere In L A and McWicked were ready to lock horses down the stretch but it was Gingras with Limelight Beach, pulling off the rail, sweeping three-wide and looping both horse to win by a half length in 1:51. Somewhere In L A was second with McWicked third and Sometimes Said (John Campbell) fourth and making it to the Jug second heat. Trained by Ron Burke, Limelight Beach is sired by Somebeachsomewhere and is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, the M1 Stable and Wingfield Brothers. He paid $12.00 to win. “Everyone is supporting trainer Brian Brown this week,” trainer Ron Burke said, “and we are just reaping the rewards from his work as we got this colt from him. Horse was good today. We knew he was better than the other colt we have in. Having the other horse (At Press Time) in the final too is great. Yannick (Gingras) thinks we can get to the lead easy. We have won two Jugette’s and hopefully we can finally win the Jug.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com