As the races for divisional honors head toward the finish line, trainer Ron Burke is hoping for continued strong performances from his horses down the stretch. Burke sends 18 horses into Friday's stakes action at Hoosier Park, not to mention five more to Vernon Downs for stakes engagements on Saturday. Among Burke's top contenders at Hoosier are 3-year-old male pacers JK Endofanera and Limelight Beach in the $275,000 Monument Circle, older male pacers Clear Vision, Foiled Again and Sweet Lou in the $211,500 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, and 3-year-old female trotter Market Rally in the $193,000 Moni Maker Stakes. "There is still money left out there, so you want to finish up strong with some of these," Burke said. "We usually tend to do good in races at the end of the year. We've always done that. It's been more of a tradition that we tend to start poorly and do better late. Hopefully it will continue." Burke's stable already has earned a record $23.75 million this year and is nearing 1,000 wins for the second consecutive season. His earnings are the most for any trainer in horse racing, more than $3.70 million ahead of Thoroughbred leader Todd Pletcher. Last year, Burke's horses won 262 races over the final three months of the campaign. Only three other trainers won more races - in the entire year. This season, Burke has 109 victories in October, including 25 in stakes events. JK Endofanera is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Monument Circle, a race won by Burke two of the past three years. JK Endofanera brings a four-race win streak to the race, including victories in the American-National Stakes and a division of the Tattersalls Pace. Last week he won a division of the Circle City at Hoosier. For the year, the son of Art Major-Presidential Lady has won 10 of 15 races and $936,145 for breeder/owner 3 Brothers Stables. Joe Holloway-trained Always B Miki, who also won a Tattersalls division and has captured seven of his last eight starts, is the 5-2 second choice, followed by Limelight Beach at 3-1. Limelight Beach has won four of his last five races, including the Little Brown Jug. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere-Benear has banked $539,118 this season. He is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, M1 Stable, and Wingfield Brothers. "All my 3-year-olds have been real good recently," said Burke, who also has At Press Time, Forty Five Red, and Big Boy Dreams entered in the Monument Circle. "They're finishing up the year strong. I'm glad about that. "The Monument Circle is our best two shots (Friday) with JK (Endofanera) and Limelight Beach. We'll see how that works. They've got to beat Always B Miki." McWicked leads all 3-year-old male pacers in purses, with $1.01 million, followed by JK Endofanera, All Bets Off, He's Watching, Always B Miki, and Limelight Beach. "There are three or four horses (that could win divisional honors); whoever wins the Breeders Crown is probably the 3-year-old of the year," Burke said. "It's going to be exciting. It's not like last year, where it already was all decided (with Captaintreacherous). Coming into the Breeders Crown this year, there's still a lot up for grabs." Clear Vision is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, followed by Foiled Again at 5-2 and Sweet Lou at 7-2. Burke-trained Bettor's Edge and Easy Again also are part of the 10-horse field. Foiled Again won the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby - then named the Indiana Pacing Derby and raced at Indiana Downs - in 2011 and 2012. Clear Vision is coming off a win last week in the Dayton Pacing Derby, where he edged Foiled Again by a nose. Sweet Lou won 10 consecutive races during the summer, and has earned $958,558 this year, but heads to the Pacing Derby trying to snap a three-race losing streak. "Lou trained great this week," Burke said. "I went out and trained him myself on Tuesday and I was very happy with him. I think he'll be back to himself. "Bettor's Edge and Clear Vision drew great spots and Foiled is still Foiled. Hopefully we should do alright. They've stayed sound all year, all of them, and raced great. I could see them finishing up the year great too." Burke's Rose Run Parker is the 4-1 second choice in the $230,000 Carl Erskine Trot for 3-year-old male trotters. Multiple-stakes-winner Father Patrick, from the stable of Jimmy Takter, is the 3-5 morning line favorite. Takter also has the top choices in the Moni Maker - Shake It Cerry and Lifetime Pursuit - followed by Burke's Market Rally, who is a two-time New York Sire Stakes champion trying open stakes company for only the third time in her career. "She's in very tough, against very good horses," Burke said. "But I've always wanted to see what Market Rally would do against top horses, so I'm excited to see what she'll do there." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
ANDERSON, Ind.- The best in the sport of Harness Racing will be showcased at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, October 31 as Grand Circuit racing action returns to Hoosier Park's seven-eighths mile oval for the fourth and final time this season. With over $1.2 million in purses to be distributed on the evening, Hoosier Park will offer arguably one of the best cards of the 2014 live racing season on Friday with a 14-race card that includes the $275,000 Monument Circle pace, the $230,000 Carl Erskine trot, and the $211,500 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. Also complimenting the card will be the $193,000 Moni Maker stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies and the $176,500 Nadia Lobell for three-year-old pacing fillies, which are being held at Hoosier Park for the first time this season. The first race of the card will line-up behind the starting gate at 5:15 p.m. Harness racing's richest horse this year, Father Patrick, will look to add to his bankroll when he visits Indiana for the first time in the $230,000 Carl Erskine Trot for 3-year-olds slated as the tenth race on the card. Father Patrick, who recently reached to the No. 1 spot in the weekly Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, drew post one with regular driver Yannick Gingras in the sulky. Father Patrick has earned $1.38 million this year and 11 of 14 seasonal outings. The Carl Erskine trot also includes the Indiana Sires Stakes Champion Rose Run Parker from the stable of Hoosier Park's leading trainer, Ron Burke. Rose Run Parker, who has never raced anywhere but Hoosier Park, has won 13 of 15 races this year and has yet to be defeated in his last eight outings. He will start from post three in the field of ten with regular driver Ricky Macomber Jr. The 2014 Dan Patch Invitational winner, Sweet Lou will return to Hoosier Park for the first time since his Dan Patch victory and look to snap a three-race losing streak in the $211,500 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby from post six. Sweet Lou, who has won 10 of 16 races and $958,558 this year, will line up behind the gate with his Burke stablemates Foiled Again, Bettor's Edge, Clear Vision, and Easy Again. With victories in nearly every major stakes race to-date, Foiled Again will start from post eight with Yannick Gingras handling the lines. Foiled Again has won six of 23 starts pushing his career purse earnings to $6.73 million which is the most money for any harness racing horse in North American history. Burke will also send out the 2-1 morning line favorite, JK Endofanera, in the $275,000 Monument Circle Pace for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Starting from post two in the powerful field of ten, JK Endofanera will look to score his fifth consecutive win and second consecutive Hoosier Park win after a dominant performance in the Circle City Stakes last week. With $1.3 million amassed lifetime, JK Endofanera has won 10 of 15 starts this season including a victory in the $920,000 North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario earlier in the season. In conjunction with the racing action on the track, Hoosier Park will also host the 2014 Monster Bash beginning at 9:00 p.m. in the Terrace level of the grandstand in honor of the Halloween holiday. The 2014 Monster Bash will offer live music, drink specials and a costume contest with a top prize of $1,000 in each of the contest categories. For more information on the upcoming live racing and entertainment at Hoosier Park, please visit www.hoosierpark.com. The live racing schedule at Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 15. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park
Freehold, NJ --- JK She’salady, Shake It Cerry, Nuncio, and Mission Brief were big winners at The Red Mile and made big gains in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Freshman female pacer JK She’salady remained undefeated with a victory in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. She received seven first-place votes and moved from sixth to third in the rankings. Shake It Cerry won the Kentucky Filly Futurity for 3-year-old female trotters and soared from ninth to fifth in the poll. Sophomore male trotter Nuncio won the Kentucky Futurity, defeating stablemate and No. 2-ranked Father Patrick, to join the Top 10 at No. 8 while Mission Brief also landed in the Top 10, at No. 9, following her world-record 1:50.3 victory in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. No. 1-ranked Sebastian K lost the Allerage Farm Open Trot by a head to Creatine, but remained in the top spot. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 21 – 10/7/2014 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (25) 8th 11-8-2-0 $663,853 325 1 2 Father Patrick (2) 3tc 13-10-2-0 $1,292,201 298 2 3 JK She’salady (7) 2pf 8-8-0-0 $421,025 210 6 4 Sweet Lou 5ph 16-10-1-1 $958,558 194 3 5 Shake It Cerry 3tf 13-11-0-1 $734,436 165 9 6 Trixton 3tc 11-8-1-1 $893,370 135 4 7 Artspeak (1) 2pc 8-7-0-1 $488,090 120 5 8 Nuncio 3tc 13-8-5-0 $1,027,896 114 -- 9 Mission Brief 2tf 9-6-0-0 $313,315 80 -- 10 McWicked 3pc 16-9-4-1 $945,596 51 7 Also: Lifetime Pursuit (47), JK Endofanera (45), He’s Watching (37), Limelight Beach (30), Always B Miki (25), Yankee Bounty (22), All Bets Off, Market Share (5), Modern Family (4), Somewhere In LA (3), Billy Flynn, Creatine, Dancin Yankee, Sassa Hanover (2), Act Now, Yagonnakissmeornot (1). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Story by Bill Finley for Harness Racing Update One of the fastest and most talented standardbreds to hit the racetrack in many years, Sweet Lou will retire at the end of this year and then head to stud at Adam Bowden's Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. Trained throughout his career by Ron Burke the 5-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser enters Sunday's $160,500 Allerage Farms Pace at the Red Mile with 32 wins from 70 starts, earnings of $3,067,994 and a mark of 1:47F. Burke has said repeatedly that Sweet Lou is among his all-time favorite horses. "Lou has been a special horse for us since we bought him as a baby," he said. "His accomplishments speak for themselves, highlighted by the still standing world record he set in his Breeders Crown win at 2, and his incredible ten race winning streak earlier this year in the FFA division which included a record six consecutive sub 1:48 wins. We are very excited Lou is going to stand in our home state of Pennsylvania at Diamond Creek Farm. With his exceptional good looks, speed, talent and pedigree, Lou has all the attributes of a top sire, and I look forward to racing his offspring for many years to come." It has been a whirlwind couple of months for Diamond Creek, which has made tons of noise while obviously building a large and very potent operation. In the summer Bowden announced that he will stand Father Patrick at the end of his racing career; for an undisclosed price he bought the Dan Patch champion I Luv The Nitelife as a broodmare; and on the opening night of the Lexington sale he sold the Credit Winner colt Dante for $355,000. Diamond Creek already stands Ponder and A Rocknroll Dance. On Sweet Lou, Bowden said: "Sweet Lou was an exceptionally fast two year old and he battled gamely against one of the deepest and most talented group of pacers of recent memory." He said a stud fee has yet to be determined but Diamond Creek "will stand him at a number that offers value in a very tough state." Sweet Lou will enter stud during the same year and in the same state as fellow pacing star Captaintreacherous, who will stand at Hanover Shoe Farms. The son of Yankee Cruiser was a superstar at 2 , winning 10 of 12 starts and making $686,647. His 1:49 clocking in the Breeders Crown that year remains a world record. Though earning over $1 million at 3, his year was not considered a major success since the bar had been set so high after the prior year. At 4, he went just 4 for 23. But something clicked this year as the old Sweet Lou came roaring back. He reeled off 10 straight wins, all of them in a tough free-for-all division. In the process he became the first standardbred in history to win six consecutive races in "sub 1"48." Among the wins was a 1:47 mile in the Ben Franklin at Pocono, the fastest race ever on a five-eighths mile track. Sweet Lou has lost his last two starts but nonetheless looks like the one to beat in the Allerage. In his last start he was fifth in the Jim Ewart at Scioto Downs, but Burke believes he had problems with the track surface "He didn't get around the track at all so I am hoping that he just didn't like that track," Burke said of the Scioto race. "He looked like he was going to half run a couple of times. I am hoping it's just a blip on the radar."
Adam Bowden was in the Kentucky Futurity winner's circle last year with Creatine and he hopes to return there following Sunday's 122nd edition of the trotting classic, this time with Father Patrick. Bowden and his father, Chris, operate Diamond Creek Farm, which is part of Father Patrick's ownership group. Father Patrick, who has won 20 of 23 career races and $1.92 million, drew post No. 1 for Sunday's $435,000 Kentucky Futurity for 3-year-old trotters at The Red Mile in Lexington. Nine horses entered the Futurity, so eliminations are unnecessary. Yannick Gingras will drive Father Patrick for trainer Jimmy Takter in the one-dash-for-the-cash event. Rounding out the field in post order are Il Sogno Dream, Martiniwithmuscle, Datsyuk, Hillustrious, Nuncio, Mr Lindy, DD's Hitman, and Lightning Force. Sunday's card also includes the $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity, $173,000 Allerage Farm Open Trot, $160,500 Allerage Farm Open Pace, $90,000 Allerage Farm Mare Pace, and $89,000 Allerage Farm Mare Trot. Father Patrick brings a four-race win streak to the Futurity, including a 4-1/2 length victory over Lightning Force in 1:50.4 in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile last Sunday. He also has won the $613,800 Canadian Trotting Classic, $260,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and $340,000 Zweig Memorial since losing by a half-length to Datsyuk in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes. "Last week he was on cruise control and still trotted in sub-1:51," said Bowden, who owns Father Patrick with John Fielding, Christina Takter, Brittany Farms, Brixton Medical AB, and the group of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. "Hopefully, we're in the winner's circle on Sunday. Jimmy gives me two thumbs up. I'm hoping that's going to be the case." Last year, the Diamond Creek-bred-and-owned Creatine won the Futurity for hometown trainer Bob Stewart. Bowden had planned to sell Creatine when he was a yearling, but the horse was withdrawn from the auction because of an infected hock and remained with Diamond Creek. Creatine races Sunday in the Allerage Farm Open Trot. "We've been with Bob since the beginning and for him to be a Kentucky guy, no offense, I love Father Patrick, but I don't think anything is going to top last year," Bowden said. "That was the most exciting thing for me. It was the first time. It was a homebred with a good friend of mine. We always believed in the horse and we finally won one of the big ones. That was exciting." The Bowdens started Diamond Creek Farm in 2005 in Paris, Ky., and now have a second location in Pennsylvania. Diamond Creek will stand Father Patrick as a stallion at the conclusion of his racing career. Father Patrick, bred by Brittany Farms, is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream. He is a full brother to million-dollar-earner Pastor Stephen. "We're very happy and lucky; we want to stand the best horses," Bowden said. "After his 2-year-old year, we took a huge risk that (Father Patrick) was going to come back and be dominant at 3. Right now it looks like our gamble is going to pay off. Cantab Hall is arguably the hottest sire in the sport, along with Muscle Hill, and here's his greatest son so far. It's a great sire line and we're hoping it continues with Father Patrick." The Kentucky Futurity is the second jewel in this year's Trotting Triple Crown. Trixton won the first, the Hambletonian, but has since been retired because of injury. The third jewel, the Yonkers Trot, is Oct. 25. Takter trained and drove Trixton in the Hambletonian. Another of his charges, Nuncio, finished second in the race. Father Patrick went off stride from post 10 and finished off the board for the only time in his career. Nuncio will be driven by John Campbell, his regular pilot, in Sunday's Futurity. Nuncio has won 12 of 22 career races and finished second in the other 10. Eight of those runner-up finishes have come behind Father Patrick. "Nuncio is one tough horse," Bowden said. "He's a great horse and in any other year he's the best horse. "One of these days you think he's going to beat his stablemate. But I hope it's not Sunday." Takter sends out the likely favorite in the Kentucky Filly Futurity, Shake It Cerry. She was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter and has won 10 of 12 races this season. She will start from post three with driver Ron Pierce. Scream And Shout and Heaven's Door will start inside of Shake It Cerry while to her outside are Highest Peak, Chivaree Hanover, Vanity Matters, and Yoga. Scream And Shout and Yoga also are from the Takter Stable. The Allerage Farm Open Trot features Sebastian K, the fastest horse in harness racing history thanks to his 1:49 win earlier this year, two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, 2010 Kentucky Futurity winner Wishing Stone and recent Centaur Trotting Classic winner Master Of Law. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, and multiple-stakes-winner Classic Martine lead the way in the Allerage Farm Mare Trot, where they will encounter Dan Patch Award-winner and defending race winner Maven. Sweet Lou, who has won 10 of 15 races and nearly $1 million this year, and Foiled Again, North American harness racing's all-time money-winner, are among the 10 horses in the Allerage Farm Open Pace. Eleven horses were entered in the Allerage Farm Mare Pace, including three-time Dan Patch Award-winner Anndrovette, stakes-winners Rocklamation and Somwherovrarainbow, world champion Shebestingin, last year's race winner Shelliscape, and 2012 winner Drop The Ball. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Harness racing's top pacer this year -- Sweet Lou -- and the sport's top money-winner of all time -- Foiled Again -- headline Saturday's $200,000 Jim Ewart Memorial Invitational at Scioto Downs. Both horses are trained by Ron Burke, who recently topped $20 million in purses for the year. It is the second consecutive season Burke has eclipsed $20 million, following his record-setting $22.2 million campaign in 2013. Burke broke his own record of $19.6 million established in 2012. Sweet Lou, who is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the field of eight older male pacers, is returning to action for the first time since having his 10-race win streak snapped in the Canadian Pacing Derby on Aug. 30 at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. During his win streak, the 5-year-old Sweet Lou set a record with six consecutive victories in faster than 1:48. His triumphs this year include the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Dan Patch Invitational, and Roll With Joe. "Horses get beat," Burke said about Sweet Lou's setback in the Canadian Pacing Derby, where he finished sixth. "They went at it hard. They were 1:20.1 (to three-quarters) and every one of my horses was on his second or third move by the time we hit the top of the lane." Sweet Lou, who is the No. 2-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Top 10, behind only trotter Sebastian K, got to relax a bit following the CPD. He prepped for the Ewart with a 1:52.1 qualifier on Sept. 18 at The Meadows. "I just kind of let him mess around for two weeks and then we put him back on his normal schedule," Burke said. "He couldn't have been better. As always, the break does him wonders. He really seems sharp. I'm sure he's ready to go." Sweet Lou has won 10 of 14 races this year and 32 of 69 lifetime, good for $3.05 million in purses. He was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. Ron Pierce, who drove Sweet Lou in each of his previous 11 starts, will again be at the lines in the Ewart. Foiled Again, with lifetime earnings of $6.62 million, is still going strong at age 10. He has won back-to-back starts, including the Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway in Delaware. For the season, he has won six of 19 races and finished among the top three on 15 occasions. The three-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer, Foiled Again will start the Ewart from post No. 1 with driver Matt Kakaley and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. "Every time he gets beat, people are saying we should retire him," Burke said. "Then we should retire everybody he beats, too, and there would be about three horses a year left. "I can't be happier with him. He's as good as he's ever been in his career. He ran into Lou when Lou was on probably as good a streak as any horse had seen, in the last decade at least. There's no shame there. A lot of horses were having trouble with him." The remainder of the Ewart field is Kanaris, Night Pro, Bigtown Hero, Bolt The Duer, Beach Memories, and Domethatagain. Now that Burke has surpassed $20 million in purses again, he seems likely to soon break the earnings record he established last year. Burke's earnings have increased every season since taking over the stable fulltime from his father, Mickey, in 2009. "I really thought (breaking the earnings record) would be the hardest thing for us to do," Burke said. "But we got off to such a good strong start this year, better than even normal, and that made a lot of difference. "If everything keeps going like it's going we should be alright." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Freehold, NJ --- Sebastian K remained No. 1 following his seventh-place finish in the Centaur Trotting Classic, but the 8-year-old trotter lost eight first-place votes to the competition in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sweet Lou, Father Patrick and Artspeak all received at least one first-place vote. All three were idle last week. Winners last week in the Top 10 were JK She’salady in a division of the Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers and Lifetime Pursuit in the Buckette for 3-year-old filly trotters. Shake It Cerry, who was idle, moved into the No. 10 spot as Sandbetweenurtoes dropped out. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 19 – 9/23/2014 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (27) 8th 10-8-1-0 $620,603 335 1 2 Sweet Lou (4) 5ph 14-10-1-1 $940,533 303 2 3 Father Patrick (3) 3tc 11-9-1-0 $1,136,901 284 3 4 Trixton 3tc 11-8-1-1 $893,370 218 4 5 Artspeak (1) 2pc 6-6-0-0 $437,825 142 7 6 JK She’salady 2pf 7-7-0-0 $378,575 125 8 7 McWicked 3pc 15-9-3-1 $939,346 120 6 8 He’s Watching 3pc 10-5-2-1 $801,578 117 5 9 Lifetime Pursuit 3tf 13-8-1-2 $652,054 99 9 10 Shake It Cerry 3tf 11-9-0-1 $579,086 41 -- Also: JK Endofanera, Sandbetweenurtoes (19), Limelight Beach (15), Nuncio (13), Classic Martine, Mission Brief, Yankee Bounty (12), Foiled Again (9), Dancin Yankee, Market Share (6), Modern Family (5), All Bets Off (4), Somewhere In LA, Somwherovrarainbow (2), Billy Flynn, Clear Vision, I Like My Boss, Master Of Law, Wild Honey (1). Compiled by Ken Weingartner
An overall increase in handle (total money wagered) and seven track record performances marked a successful 2014 season at Tioga Downs, which concluded on Saturday, September 13. Overall handle on the 61-day meet was considerably improved in comparison to the 2013 season, with all-sources handle showing a 5.4% increase. This increase was largely due to a more involved simulcast audience, whose handle was 13.4% higher than in the previous season. "We thank our customers and horsemen for their support of our 2014 racing season," said Jason M. Settlemoir, Regional Vice President of Racing at Tioga Downs. "We are proud of the great competitive racing on our 5/8 mile track, and that it continues to be well received across the North American harness racing audience." With respect to the record books, four-year-old distaff trotter Charmed Life and driver Jody Jamieson established a new overall record for trotters on New York State's only 5/8-mile track, winning their Miss Versatility preliminary in 1:52.2 as part of the Cane Pace undercard on Monday, September 1. Trotting geldings Datsyuk (three-year-old, Charlie Norris), Obrigado (four-year-old, Aaron Byron), and Traverse Seelster (older, Brandon Simpson) also turned in track-record performances through the season, scoring in 1:53.1, 1:52.3, and 1:52.4 respectively. Two-year-old trotting filly Jolene Jolene (David Miller) equalled You Want Me's mark of 1:55.2 as well, completing the quintet of record established on the trotting side of the ledger. Additionally, a pair of pacers entered the Tioga record books, with Sweet Lou's 1:48.3 triumph in the Roll With Joe on Sunday, June 1 (Ron Pierce aboard) equalling Shark Gesture's past mark for older pacing entires. Mosquito Blue Chip (Jim Morrill, Jr.) set a new record outright for two-year-old pacing fillies, proving victorious in 1:52.1. Jim Marohn, Jr. claimed his third consecutive driving title with 91 wins on the meet, 13 more than runner-up Aaron Byron. Top training honors went to Mike Deters, who took his second training title and first outright with 33 wins. Normand Fluet and Gail Wrubel finished in a dead heat for second with 20 wins apiece. by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs
Since there were only two nights of live racing in the past seven days at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs due to the Oktoberfest festivities on the grounds, it seems like a good time to look at the broader picture of harness racing through the Pocono lens. This is the time of year when people start to talk about yearend awards and horses of the year and things like that. We've been graced with the presence of many of the year's best, so let's examine the performances of the Top 10 horses in the latest Breeders Crown/Hambletonian poll when they travelled to MSPD this year. Four out of the top ten, #8 JK Shesalady, #7 Artspeak, #5 He's Watching, and #4 Trixton, have not appeared at Pocono. (Trixton, this year's Hambletonian champ, did have a winning qualifier at Pocono.) The other six have not only raced here, but they've all picked up at least one victory on the Pocono oval this year, often in impressive fashion. #10 Sandbetweenurtoes, a 3-year-old pacing filly from the Larry Remmen barn, just suffered the first loss of her season with a disappointing seventh in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships at Harrah's at Philadelphia. But her lone voyage at Pocono was successful, as she rallied from an early deficit to win a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race on August 9 in 1:50. #9 Lifetime Pursuit wasn't quite on top of her game when she raced at Pocono earlier in the meet, going once across the board in three starts with the win coming in a Pennsylvania All Stars race in June. The 3-year-old trotting filly from the Jimmy Takter barn has been sizzling since, winning her last five races including the Hambletonian Oaks and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final in her age group. It's been an amazing 3-year-old season for pacing colt Mcwicked, trained by Casie Coleman. Much of that success took place at MSPD. He's won three of four at Pocono in 2014. Although his record includes wins in the prestigious Adios and in the Pennsylvania Championships, his signature victory for the year was likely his incredible effort in winning the Max Hempt Memorial pace at Pocono in June in a world-record time of 1:47:3. The #3 horse on the list is Father Patrick, who has made an impact everywhere he's raced but has been absolutely spotless at Pocono. The 3-year-old trotting colt went four-for-four at Pocono as a 2-year-old, including a Breeders Crown title. He has won all four of his starts at MSPD this year as well, the highlight of those coming in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial trot in June when he won in 1:50:2, the fastest ever trotting time for a 3-year-old on a 5/8-mile oval. On that same night in June, #2 Sweet Lou, a 5-year-old stallion from the Ron Burke barn, was solidifying his amazing return to prominence in the sport. After struggling in the early part of the season, which included a ho-hum 3rd in an Open at Pocono in May, Sweet Lou found the stride that made him such a force early in his career. In the Ben Franklin at Pocono on that fateful June night, the stallion dominated a stellar field with the fastest pacing time ever on a 5/8-mile oval of 1:47. The #1 horse on the list has been a revelation all year long and his one start at Pocono was one for the ages. Of course, I'm talking about the sublime Sebastian K, the eight-year-old trotting stallion trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt who has won eight of his nine 2014 races, usually in record-breaking fashion, despite never have raced in the U.S. prior to this year. In his lone start at Pocono in an Open trot on that same June 28 that saw so many incendiary performances, Sebastian K stole the show with a win in 1:49, the fastest mile trotted on any track of any size in the history of the sport. As you can tell, many of the superstars of the sport have left indelible marks on the Pocono racing wars in 2014. There is still a lot of racing to go in the season before such things as yearend awards are decided. But when those honors are chosen, it's likely that some of the most compelling evidence for those choices will come courtesy of action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
Freehold, NJ --- Father Patrick won the Canadian Trotting Classic last weekend and became the first harness racing horse this season to surpass $1 million. The 3-year-old male trotter also moved up one spot in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, from fourth to third. Older male trotter Sebastian K remained the unanimous choice at No. 1, followed by older male pacer Sweet Lou. Four of the horses in the Top 10 race at the Delaware County Fair this week. Lifetime Pursuit, who is No. 9, is in Wednesday’s Buckette for 3-year-olde female trotters and No. 10 Sandbetweenurtoes is in Wednesday’s Jugette for 3-year-old female pacers. On Thursday, No. 5 He’s Watching and No. 6 McWicked are in the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old male pacers. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 18 – 9/16/2014 Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (35) 8th 9-8-1-0 $620,603 350 1 2 Sweet Lou 5ph 14-10-1-1 $940,533 298 2 3 Father Patrick 3tc 11-9-1-0 $1,136,901 257 4 4 Trixton 3tc 11-8-1-1 $893,370 217 3 5 He’s Watching 3pc 9-5-2-1 $801,578 205 5 6 McWicked 3pc 13-9-3-0 $908,266 162 6 7 Artspeak 2pc 6-6-0-0 $437,825 109 7 8 JK She’salady 2pf 6-6-0-0 $302,600 70 8 9 Lifetime Pursuit 3tf 12-7-1-2 $611,791 51 10 10 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 9-8-0-0 $248,598 44 9 Also: Shake It Cerry (39), Mission Brief (29), Nuncio (16), JK Endofanera (15), Yankee Bounty (12), Dancin Yankee (11), Lyonssomewhere (8), Classic Martine, Foiled Again (7), Market Share (6), Modern Family (5), Somewhere In LA (2), All Bets Off, Billy Flynn, Clear Vision, Habitat, I Like My Boss (1). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
This is the last weekend before the revival of the $250,000 Prix D’Eté for the best four-year-old pacers in North America, to be held at Hippodrome 3R on Sunday, September 21. We take one last look at the major contenders for the $200,000 Prix D’Ete main event, and also spotlight a few horses who may race in the $50,000 Consolation. The numbers in the parentheses (5$/2LR) after the horse’s name indicate where on the money winning list a horse is, and what his ranking was in our last report (“x” means he was below the Top Ten); if he is in to race this coming weekend, such fact is noticed after his comment in (parentheses). SUNFIRE BLUE CHIP (5$/2LR) – On fire right now, with four straight wins at four different tracks for Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter, including a 1:49.2 victory at Pocono this past Saturday, with a 26.4 last quarter. Regular driver Yannick Gingras comes home with a likely favorite. MACH IT SO (2$/1LR) – He was third in the Pocono race that Sunfire Blue Chip won, coming from seventh at the half to be beaten in a photo for second. Before that he had reeled off three straight triumphs, including a 1:48.2 mile at Pocono. CAPTIVE AUDIENCE (3$/4LR) – Finished fourth against older horses in the Canadian Pacing Derby Final last Saturday at Mohawk, with the vaunted Sweet Lou trailing him at the wire. (In to go: Saturday at Mohawk in the Preferred.) SHAMBALLA (9$/xLR) -- The “sleeper” in the group. He’s never faced stakes horses, but he’s won five out of his last six, including a 1:49.3 win with a 26.4 last quarter at Mohawk. And it’s doubtful having Rick Zeron as trainer/driver will be a disadvantage in a Quebec race. WINDSONG JACK (6$/8LR) – Another late developer who comes out of the top-rated Ron Burke barn. Last week he was blocked much of the way, but then delivered a devastating last 1/16 to blow by the best horses at The Meadows. (In to go: Friday at The Meadows vs. the same type,) WORD POWER (4$/3LR) – Not quite as sharp as a few weeks ago. (In to go: Saturday at Yonkers.) LUCAN HANOVER (11$/xLR) – Raised his stock greatly with a 1:51.1 win at Yonkers last week. (In to go: Saturday at Yonkers.) APPRENTICE HANOVER (1$/6LR) – “The best” almost to midseason, but has tailed off. (In to go: Saturday at Mohawk.) TWILIGHT BONFIRE (13$/xLR) – Has been getting sharper by the week at The Meadows. (In to go: Friday at The Meadows.) SUNSHINE BEACH (21$/5LR) – Locally-trained, but off-form as of late. Track management has “beefed up” the Prix D’Ete race card on Sunday, September 21 and has now added to their overnite sheet a $15,000 Invitational Trot and Pace. Hoping to lore some of the trainers and owners coming for the Prix D’Ete to bring one or two more horses to race that day could develop into a superb under card to go with the $200,000 Prix D’Ete and the $50,000 consolation races. From the Quebec Jockey Club
Freehold, NJ --- Lifetime Pursuit won the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old female trotters, her fifth victory in a row, and moved into the Top 10 in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. The filly is the only newcomer in the rankings. Sebastian K, who was idle last week, remained unanimously No. 1 and none of the horses in the top six changed positions. Also winning PaSS championships were No. 4 Father Patrick, for 3-year-old male trotters, and No. 6 McWicked, for 3-year-old male pacers. Sandbetweenurtoes lost in the PaSS final for 3-year-old female pacers, her first defeat of the season, and dropped from seventh to ninth in the poll. Three-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera dropped from the Top 10. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 17 – 9/9/2014 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (35) 8th 9-8-1-0 $620,603 350 1 2 Sweet Lou 5ph 14-10-1-1 $940,533 296 2 3 Trixton 3tc 10-8-1-1 $887,232 272 3 4 Father Patrick 3tc 10-8-1-0 $830,001 227 4 5 He’s Watching 3pc 9-5-2-1 $801,578 191 5 6 McWicked 3pc 13-9-3-0 $908,266 158 6 7 Artspeak 2pc 6-6-0-0 $437,825 89 8 8 JK She’salady 2pf 6-6-0-0 $302,600 54 10 9 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 9-8-0-0 $248,598 53 7 10 Lifetime Pursuit 3tf 12-7-1-2 $611,791 46 -- Also: Mission Brief (38), JK Endofanera, Nuncio (30), Dancin Yankee (26), Shake It Cerry (22), Classic Martine (9), Yankee Bounty (8), Lyonssomewhere (7), Market Share (6), Modern Family (5), All Bets Off (3), I Like My Boss, Somewhere In LA (2), Billy Flynn (1). Compiled by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
ANDERSON, Ind.-September 5, 2014 - Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will highlight the 2014 harness racing season on Saturday, September 6 with Indiana's finest trotters and pacers convening on Hoosier Park's seven-eighths mile oval for the annual Hoosier Champions Night, the fourth of five rounds of $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals. A total of 14 races have been established and after the dust settles, eight new Indiana Sires Stakes champions will be crowned. The first race will line up behind the starting gate at 5:15 p.m. Revamped for the 2014 season, the Indiana Sires Stakes program features five legs throughout the season, and from each leg, the top 20 horses return to compete in a final and consolation. The 2014 stakes season will culminate with the top ten horses from each of the previous $75,000 finals returning to compete in a $200,000 Super Final on October 18 at Hoosier Park. "Our Hoosier Champions Night has become a much-anticipated event among horseman and racing fans alike," Hoosier Park's Vice President and General Manager of Racing, Rick Moore noted. "The 2014 season has already exceeded my expectations and I am excited to offer racing fans another stellar night of racing. To have horses of this quality racing at Hoosier Park speaks volumes to where our racing program has come and where it is going." In its' 21st season of live harness racing, Hoosier Park is in the midst of one of its' fastest season to date. Sweet Lou recently lowered the overall track record to 1:47.2 in the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park on August 8. Of the eight respective Indiana Sires Stakes divisions, five of the eight have produced track record breaking or equaling miles this season. Freaky Feet Pete not only holds the Hoosier Park track record for two-year-old pacing colts but was also a national season's record holder with his 1:50.4 score in Indiana Sires Stakes action earlier in the season. Guided by Trace Tetrick, Freaky Feet Pete will look to score his second $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for two-year-old pacing colts from the trailing post ten on Saturday. Always B Miki recently shattered the track record for three-year-old pacing colts with a 1:48.4 score in the last $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final and followed that up with a win in his most recent elimination. Trained by Joe Holloway, Always B Miki will look to score his second Indiana Sires Stakes final win with driver Peter Wrenn in the sulky from post eight. In the three-year-old trotting colt ranks, Rose Run Parker returned to his winning ways and re-established his own track record with a 1:54 score in the elimination round of stakes action last week at Hoosier Park. Trained by Ron Burke, Rose Run Parker will start from post three in the $75,000 final for Hoosier Park's all-time leading driver, Ricky Macomber Jr. Following suit, Airman Batten also re-established his own track record in the two-year-old trotting colt ranks with a 1:55.4 score in his elimination. Driven by Lewayne Miller, Airman Batten will look to keep his five-race winning streak in-tact from post four in the field of ten for trainer Erv Miller. The Erv Miller Stable will also send out Andi's Alana who will put her eight-race win streak on the line in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for three-year-old trotting fillies. Undefeated in eight starts this season, Andi's Alana will start from post seven with her regular pilot Lewayne Miller in the sulky. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule with a daily post time of 5:15 p.m. The 160-day, all harness racing meet will offer an extended stakes schedule and be conducted through November 15. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park
With race favorites winning most of the stakes races at Mohawk Raceway Saturday night, Modern Legend was the shocker of the evening as he won the $634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby at odds of 66-1 Saturday and paid $135.70 to win. The 1/5 betting favorite, Sweet Lou, saw his ten-race winning streak come to an abrupt halt in the race as he was on the lead coming down the stretch but faded to sixth place at the finish. The race began with Bettor’s Edge (Matt Kakaley) beating out Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras) to the early lead but once they reached the opening quarter mile in :26, Gingras came right out with Foiled Again and took command. Then by the half mile in :53, Ron Pierce came charging up first-over with Sweet Lou and cleared with ease to control the pace. And just as Sweet Lou was on the lead, up came Clear Vision (Brett Miller) to challenge first-over and following their cover was the long shot Modern Legend and driver David Miller. Past the three-quarters in a blazing 1:20.1, Clear Vision was about to collar Sweet Lou as they started down the stretch and Foiled Again and Gingras were already trying to squeeze by on the inside as everyone sensed that Sweet Lou had had enough. But it was David Miller and Modern Legend who proved to be much the best as they tipped three-wide on the final turn and mowed everybody by, pulling away for a three and one-half length triumph in 1:47.2. Foiled Again was second with Clear Vision third. The time of the race tied the track, stakes and Canadian record with A Rocknroll Dance in 2013. It was a lifetime mark and the fourth win this year for Modern Legend. The six-year-old gelding by Modern Art was bred and is owned and trained by Dave Drew of Catharines, Ontario. “This is the only horse I have right now,” said Dave Drew, “I had as many as five this year but now down to just this one. This is a horse of a lifetime for me and this was a race of a lifetime. He has been racing for me on the Grand Circuit the last couple of years and always coming close and never really putting it all together. But tonight David Miller gave him a perfect drive and he was on his game. Just a super night for him. “He has always raced well but has had some outside posts earlier this season,” Drew said. “Had some tough trips, was interfered with but he has been racing well and it was just a matter of putting it all together at the right time and in the right race and he did that tonight. It was just a superb night for me and my family.” “It worked out great tonight,” said winning driver David Miller, “I know the horse Clear Vision and I figured if I can get on his back and follow him and he would take us to where we needed to be in the race. I was real surprised around the last turn as I still had a lot of horse coming to the stretch so I fanned him out and he did the rest. He raced tremendous. He beat some great horses tonight. Hats off to the horse. He’s been racing against them the past couple of years and it was great to see him get the job done.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Last week for the first time in five weeks we broke even. We didn’t lose money but we were on a four-weekend winning streak for making money. But this now old news and on to this great weekend of racing. It’s the “Roaring Grand Circuit” big time this weekend and it kicks off Friday night at both Vernon Downs and Mohawk Raceway with the Zweig Trot, Crawford Farms Trot plus the Champlain Stakes. And the top horses are competing to make it even better. Then on Saturday the night belongs to Mohawk with the Metro Final, Canadian Pacing Derby, She’s A Great Lady final and the Simcoe Stakes. Super weekend and don’t forget on Labor Day Monday it’s the Cane Pace and Shady Daisy at Tioga Downs. Good Luck! $150,000 Trot Harry M Zweig 3YO Fillies Vernon Downs 6th race FRIDAY – Earlier this season she would have been 1/5 in the morning line but after a tough loss in the Hambletonian Oakes, Shake It Cerry has not yet gotten back the respect she once had. Don’t out this filly out. Last year she crushed at the end of the season and looks to be back in shape. Jump all over her if she goes off at 5/2. Class will tell. Use Broadway Socks and Avalicious in exotic plays. $124,621 Trot Champlain Stake 2YO Open Mohawk Raceway 6th race FRIDAY – Draws the rail and he is on a two-race winning streak. Habitat may be pressed a little early on but he should have things his own way in here. Can sit the pocket or go to the front and not look back. Use Muscle Diamond and Gifted Way in exotic plays. $340,000 Trot Final Harry M Zweig 3YO Colts Vernon Downs 8th race FRIDAY – How on god’s earth can you not even think of going again an entry of Father Patrick and Nuncio against this field. Two of the three best colt trotters in racing and all from the Jimmy Takter Stable. I am surprised they are allowing win betting. Use Flyhawk El Durado and Martiniwithmuscle in exotic plays. $124,621 Trot Champlain Stake 2YO Open Mohawk Raceway 8th race FRIDAY – Having won three times already this season, French Laundry is the horse to beat in here. He is usually hot on the lead and usually wires the field with ease as he can do again. Use Wheels An Smokin and Don’t Rush in exotic plays. $236,000 Trot Crawford Farms Open Vernon Downs 9th race FRIDAY – Last time this world champion was well rested he came back to win with a vengeance. Sebastian K goes for his eighth victory this year and should enjoy Vernon’s oval but wouldn’t count on a world record, just a nice easy win. Remember to watch the mare, Bee A Magician, as she has yet to face Sebastian K. use Bee A Magician and Market Share in exotic plays. $207,689 Pace 3YO Fillies Simcoe Stakes Mohawk Raceway 4th race SATURDAY – This is a very well matched field of top fillies. I am taking a shot that Beach Gal can upset. She has been razor sharp winning two of last three starts including lifetime mark of 1:49.3 right here at Mohawk. Use Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover in exotic plays. $480,000 Pace 2YO Fillies She’s A Great Lady Final Mohawk 5th race SATURDAY – After watching her last couple of starts I am convinced that unbeaten JK Shesalady is the top two-year-old filly of the year and she will prove it in here. She has the ability to get geared up and once in motion she blows by everyone else. Use Band Of Angels and Bedroomconfessions in exotic plays. $667,000 Pace 2YO Colts The Metro Final Mohawk Raceway 7th race SATURDAY – Unbeaten in five starts so far, but what impressive miles they have been for Artspeak. He can just bully his way to the front and never look back, especially in his last two starts at Mohawk. Use Go Daddy Go and Lyons Again in exotic plays. $218,076 Trot 3YO Open Simcoe Stakes Mohawk Raceway 9th race SATURDAY – Since he has never been a rocket ship out of the starting gate, it really does not bother me that Trixton is starting in the second tier here in post 11. Jimmy Takter will weave his magic and once Trixton gets some clearance he will stalk down the field, take the lead and win for fun. It’s the first start back for the Hambletonian winner but he loves Mohawk Raceway. Use P L Hercules and Harper Blue Chip in exotic plays. $634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby Final Mohawk Raceway 10th race SATURDAY – It’s almost not fair anymore like with Sebastian K. Sweet Lou is pretty near perfection this season and goes for his eleventh straight win. He has mowed this opponents down left and right, week after week. When is Ron Burke gonna let Ron Piece cut loose with Sweet Lou and go for a 1:45 mile? More than likely in Lexington. Use State Treasurer and Clear Vision in exotic plays.
Freehold, NJ --- Only once during his current 10-race win streak has Sweet Lou trailed other horses at the halfway point, but trainer Ron Burke wouldn’t mind seeing it happen again in Saturday’s C$634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby (CPD) at Mohawk Racetrack. Sweet Lou won his CPD elimination last week by a length over stablemate Foiled Again in 1:48.1, ending a record streak of six consecutive victories in less than 1:48, but still good enough to give his connections the opportunity to pick his starting spot for the final. Sweet Lou, with regular driver Ron Pierce, will leave from post three and is the 4-5 morning line favorite. In his last six races, Sweet Lou has reached the half-mile point no slower than :53.3. The only time he trailed during that span came in the William R. Haughton Memorial final, when he followed Thinking Out Loud in the outer flow and got by earlier leaders Bettor’s Edge and Captaintreacherous in the stretch to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:47.1. “I wouldn’t mind seeing that trip in the Canadian Pacing Derby,” Burke said. “I’ve got a feeling you’re getting to the point now where people are trying to leave real hard with the intention that if they make the front they know they’re not going to have to cut it because (Sweet Lou) is coming. “In a way, I’d like to see him race off the back a couple more times because he seems to race that way just as well. It’s tough going these halves in 53 (seconds) every week. “This race really concerns me in that everybody now is trying to race the same way and all of these horses, one of these days, will end up stringing a half in 51-and-a-piece. I have all the faith in the world in Ronnie that he’ll get us in the right spot, but the right spot, I’ve got a feeling, might not be on the front this week.” Sweet Lou has won 10 of 13 races and $934,700 this year for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. For his career, the 5-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future has won 32 of 68 races and $3.05 million. “I was a little bit worried last week because he was bearing out a little bit late in the mile, but Pierce didn’t seem to be too concerned,” Burke said. “He said he kind of let him drift and he was fine, so we’ll see.” Foiled Again, who won the Canadian Pacing Derby in 2012 to become the richest pacer in harness racing history, is the 6-1 second choice in this year’s final and will start from post seven with driver Yannick Gingras. Foiled Again, a 10-year-old gelding who now is the richest harness racing horse in North American history, with $6.37 million, has won 80 times in his career. “He was vicious in his elimination, 25-(seconds)-and-a-piece out and 25-and-a-piece home,” Burke said. “He couldn’t have been any better. I think he’s as sharp as he’s ever been. He keeps drawing bad in the (finals) because he can’t beat Lou in the eliminations. That really hurt him a lot. “Now from the seven hole he’s got to go out and earn it. But Yannick always seems to get you in the right position, no matter what.” Burke also sends out elimination winner Clear Vision and Bettor’s Edge in the CPD. Clear Vision and driver Brett Miller will start from post two and are 8-1 on the morning line while Bettor’s Edge and driver Matt Kakaley will leave from post eight and are 7-1. Following is the field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Modern Legend, David Miller, David Drew, 20-1; 2. Clear Vision, Brett Miller, Ron Burke, 8-1; 3. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 4-5; 4. Domethatagain, Tim Tetrick, Rene Allard, 10-1; 5. Captive Audience, James MacDonald, Corey Johnson; 6. State Treasurer, Chris Christoforou, Ian Moore, 9-1; 7. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-1; 8. Bettor’s Edge, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 7-1; 9. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh, 20-1; 10. Ellis Park, Steve Condren, Brad Maxwell, 20-1. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications