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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Despite traveling wide for nearly all of a :52.4 opening half mile, Dancin Lou ($6.00) had plenty left in the stretch to cement his place in the top ranks of the free-for-all pacing division with a scintillating 1:47.2 score in the $391,300 William R. Haughton Memorial on Saturday night (July 18) at The Meadowlands.   The winner of last year's Breeders Crown for sophomore pacers, Dancin Lou advanced in the two-path on the first turn to track a three-way battle between Backstreet Shadow, Century Farroh and This Is The Plan through a :26 first quarter. After Backstreet Shadow cleared, Brian Sears gunned the 4-year-old son of Sweet Lou to the fore, but the pair were strung out by Backstreet Shadow before assuming control at race's midpoint.   After being tested through punishing early fractions, Dancin Lou found a breather on approach to the far turn, when he yielded for the pocket as Century Farroh retook and braced for outside pressure from Southwind Ozzi through three-quarters in 1:20.2.   Off the home turn, Southwind Ozzi weakened in the breeze, enabling Dancin Lou to wedge out of the pocket an eighth of a mile from home. He reclaimed the lead from Century Farroh a sixteenth out under Sears urging, and widened to win by the better part of two lengths. Century Farroh held second, and Filibuster Hanover knifed through at the pegs to narrowly claim third.       Tahnee Camilleri trains Dancin Lou, a 15-time winner with $847,559 in career earnings, for David Kryway and 1362313 Ontario Ltd.   by James Witherite, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A sweeping three-wide stretch move earned Reflect With Me and driver Andy McCarthy a 1:49 win in the $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old pacing fillies at The Meadowlands on Saturday (July 18).   Reflect With Me was nowhere near the early competition ,as Rocknificent rushed to the early lead followed by Priceless. But just as the :26.3 first quarter was clocked, favorite JK First Lady moved to the lead. The outer tier formed behind a first-over challenge by Marloe Hanover, with Reflect With Me getting cover through the :55.2 half and passing Rocknificent for third on the inside.   JK First Lady pushed through three-quarters in 1:23 as Lyons Sentinel paved a path from cover to challenge for the lead going into the stretch. Those two dueled for control, but Reflect With Me rolled by them. JK First Lady gave way to Rocknificent, who found room on the inside to pick up third as Reflect With Me reached the finish line three-quarters of a length in front of Lyons Sentinel. Priceless finished fourth.       Tony Alagna trains Reflect With Me, a daughter of Captaintreacherous and Remember When. The filly won her second of two starts this season for owners Brittany Farms LLC and Bradley Grant. Reflect With Me paid $19.40 to win.   by Frank Cotolo, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Judy Taylor has sometimes given her son, Howard, a tough time about the harness racing horses they have owned together. That appears to be about to change.   The Taylors and breeder Stefan Balazsi's Order By Stable own Hambletonian hopeful Back Of The Neck, who won Saturday's (July 18) $142,250 first division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters in 1:52 at The Meadowlands.   Howard Taylor, a Philadelphia attorney, is among the owners of 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta, as well as a number of other prominent horses.   "(My mom says,) 'You have all these good horses. I've never had one,'" Howard Taylor said. "I said, 'Every time I buy a horse for you, I own part of it too, I'm not trying to give you a bad horse. But it just never worked out that way. Now it has.'"   Driven by Scott Zeron, Back Of The Neck used a second-over trip to rally in the stretch for his second win in three races this year. Back Of The Neck, trained by Ãke Svanstedt, saw stablemate Third Shift hold the lead after the first quarter before Amigo Volo took control at the half.   After Zeron moved with Back Of The Neck from fourth, Svanstedt came first-over with Third Shift heading around the final turn. Back Of The Neck, the 4-5 favorite, won by 2-1/4 lengths over Third Shift, with Big Oil finishing third.       "He was really handy today, really relaxed, which is good," Zeron said. "He's progressively getting smarter and smarter on the track. Every start is just leading up to the Hambletonian in my eyes, so today it was like leave, let him sit, see how he feels in the hole. I was able to sit in longer than I thought I could because of the pace.   "When I moved him over, and Ãke pulled the two-hole, it was even better. Down the lane, he just finished strong. He was very well within himself."   A son of French trotting star Ready Cash out of Big Barb, Back Of The Neck has won five of 12 starts lifetime, good for $207,375.   Another son of Ready Cash won the second division of the Dancer. Ready For Moni was fifth at the half-mile point before following Chesnut Hill's cover around the final turn and using a three-wide move in the stretch to win in 1:51.4 as the 5-2 second choice in his seasonal debut.   Hollywood Story was second and Beads finished third. The winning margin was one length.       "I couldn't have scripted it any better," winning driver Yannick Gingras said. "It's his first start of the year and I wanted to somewhat take it easy on him. It couldn't have worked out any better. He's great. I think he's ready for it. He's going to get next week off, I'm pretty sure, and he's ready for the [Hambletonian]."   Ready For Moni, trained by Nancy Takter, is owned by John Fielding, Lindy Farms of Connecticut, Herb Liverman, and Bud Hatfield. He is out of Nothing But Moni, whose dam was the two-time Horse of the Year Moni Maker. He has won five of nine career races and $352,575. His top triumph last year came in the Kentucky Sire Stakes final, and he was second in the Valley Victory.   The Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's top event for 3-year-old trotters, is Aug. 8 at The Meadowlands. Eliminations will be held Aug. 1.   by Ken Weingartner, & Derick Giwner, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Andy McCarthy motored Ramona Hill to the front from post 10 and battled all challengers for control, trotting to a 1:50.3 victory in the $253,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old harness racing fillies on Saturday (July 18) at the Meadowlands.   Clearing command into the first turn, Ramona Hill led the field past a :26.3 first quarter before Love A Good Story angled off the pylons to brush for the lead. Sorella, the 2-5 favorite, then moved uncovered as Love A Good Story cleared control in the backside. However Ramona Hill, sitting in the pocket, swiftly circled in front of Sorella and Love A Good Story to retake control just beyond a :54.2 half.   Rounding the far turn, Sorella marched forward to match strides with Ramona Hill, while Hypnotic AM rode second-over cover. Past three-quarters in 1:22.2, Sorella began to hang, forcing Hypnotic AM wide and the third-over Panem even wider as Ramona Hill widened her lead. Panem rolled most quickly of any down the center of the track, cutting into Ramona Hill's margin nearing the finish but still finishing 1-1/2 lengths behind. Hypnotic AM took third from Sorella.       "We had Pilot Discretion last year and we raced in the [Hambletonian]. And then, at the end of the year, Ramona [Hill] came on and she was just fantastic," co-owner Robert LeBlanc said after the race. "[Alagna] brought her along slowly -- she was a late foal -- and we wanted to give her time. We thought we had something special, and Tony said we were going to manage her for the end of the year. And Andy just drives her fantastic ... This is pretty special; she's a special animal."   A Crawford Farms-bred daughter of Muscle Hill, Ramona Hill collected her seventh victory from nine starts, amassing $539,470 in earnings for owners Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, LeBlanc and In The Gym Partners. She returned $18.80 to win.   by Ray Cotolo, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Nancy Takter trainee Manchego asserted her divisional harness racing dominance once more with a 1:51 stroll in the third $40,000 preliminary of the Miss Versatility on Saturday (July 18) at The Meadowlands.   Driver Dexter Dunn eased the 1-9 favorite off the gate as a pair of Svanstedt trainees -- Felicityshagwell S and Beautiful Sin -- left for the front. Manchego landed in fourth and promptly angled off the pylons entering the backstretch, marching uncovered towards Felicityshagwell S and sliding past to lead the field after a :55.1 half.   Into the final turn, Beautiful Sin vacated the pylons and rushed to race alongside Manchego moving to three-quarters in 1:23.1. Beautiful Sin continued to pressure Manchego straightening for the finish, but began to stall as Manchego extended her lead on the competition within a matter of strides. Kenziesky Hanover rallied down the center of the track quickly enough to snag second, 3-1/2 lengths behind Manchego, while Plunge Blue Chip charged from last to beat Felicityshagwell S -- who gave chase to Manchego from the pylons -- in a photo for third.       "She felt really good," Dunn said after the race. "She's got some real acceleration for a trotter."   A 5-year-old Muscle Hill mare bred by Brittany Farms LLC and owned by Black Horse Racing, Manchego collected her third victory from four starts this season and her 30th from 47 overall. The 2018 Hambletonian Oaks champion has banked $2,217,705.   Manchego paid $2.10 to win.   by Ray Cotolo, for The Meadowlands    

WASHINGTON, PA, July 18, 2020 -- The Greek Freak not only was an impressive harness racing winner in Saturday's $193,156 Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows, but he also stamped his ticket to next week's eliminations for the $450,000 (est) Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids. The PASS for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers, known as the Bye Bye Byrd, was contested over three divisions, with Sea Of Life and Lake Charles also capturing splits. A total of 44 Adios eligibles competed on Saturday's stakes program. While some trainers indicated there horses remained on the Adios bubble, that wasn't true of Ron Burke, who confirmed that The Greek Freak is Adios bound. And why not? The Captaintreacherous-Thirty X gelding, who didn't hit the board in nine starts last year, now has won three straight, including two PASS splits. His victory for Matt Kakaley Saturday was an effortless front-end affair that saw him down Lou's A Pansy by a length in a career-best 1:50.2, with Later Dudes third.   "I didn't drive him last year, but I think they were having a little trouble with him wanting to do his own thing," Kakaley said. "He seems like he's gotten a lot smarter. He just lets me do what I want to do with him." Burke Racing Stable, Piatt Racing, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC campaign The Greek Freak. Sea Of Life, also an Adios eligible, had pace aplenty but appeared trapped behind a wall of horses. When the Lightning Lane magically opened, he shot through for Scott Zeron to triumph in a stake-fastest 1:50. Sandbetweenmytoes was second, beaten 1-1/4 lengths, while A Positive Hanover earned show. "We were doing some serious pacing up the backside, and then the race sort of came back to me," Zeron said. "My guy was still sharp because I didn't have to use him. I thought we would have enough room." Tony Alagna trains Sea Of Life, a son of Captaintreacherous-Fresh Idea, for Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Bradley Grant and Captain Kirk Racing. Lake Charles followed live cover, then blew past in the lane to pull off the 10-1 upset for Mark MacDonald. Tito Rocks was second, 1-1/4 lengths back, while a hard-used Fortify completed the ticket. "The first couple starts this year were a little tough on him," said Ray Schnittker, who conditions the son of Well Said-Bodacious Hanover and owns with Dr. John Egloff, Max Hempt and Steven Arnold. "But Mark did a good job with him today, and I was happy with him." Lake Charles pushed his career bankroll to $155,537. $100,000 PA Stallion Series -- 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers The Greek Freak wasn't the only sophomore to earn a shot at Adios orchids. Trainer Ron Coyne said Seriously Hanover likely will get that opportunity following his 1:50.4 win with Zeron aboard. "That's the way the owners were leaning." Coyne said. "We'll talk about it over the weekend, but it's a very good possibility." Michael Cimaglio, Stephen Demeter and Stephen Giagni own Seriously Hanover. Stake honors of 1:50 -- in an 8-1/4-length romp, no less -- went to No Quarter (Dave Palone, Brian Brown). Moneyman Hill, Lyons Skipper and Sailboat Hanover took the other splits. $42,610 James Manderino -- 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trotters This event, an Arden Downs stake, was over early. Although Patriarch Hanover needed more than a quarter to get the lead from post 8, the son of Father Patrick-Personal Style cruised from there, defeating Romanee Blue Chip by 2 lengths in 1:54.1. Beyond Ordinary was third. "He's a nice little horse," said winning driver Kakaley. "He's probably not as good as the top few -- he's just a little too small. But he tries his heart out. He gives it his all no matter what." Burke trains Patriarch Hanover, who now has banked $145,225 for Burke Racing Stable, William Switala, Joseph Martin and Weaver Bruscemi. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the 15-race program offers a pair of stakes for freshman colt and gelding trotters: a $208,721 PASS and a $100,000 PA Stallion Series event. The card also features a trio of rich wagering opportunities: a $10,180.47 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5; a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Early Pick 4 (race 3); a $1,058.46 carryover in the Early Pick 5 (race 2). First post is 12:45 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It was Hall of Famer Dave Miller's night at the Meadowlands Friday, as "The Buckeye" drove three harness racing winners on the program, including among them, Run Director in the featured Open for trotters. "I raced him at [Harrah's Philadelphia] in his last start and he had all kinds of road trouble but still trotted in [1:]51," said Miller. "I really like this horse." So did those who wagered on the 5-year-old son of Kadabra-Keep The Spirit, who was sent to the gate at 11-1 in a field remarkable in how competitive it looked on paper. While not showing gate speed in any of his recent efforts, Miller gunned his horse to the top around the first turn and hit the quarter in :27. With no one coming at him, Miller was able to rate the second fraction in :29, which left plenty of juice for the final half-mile. Nearing three-quarters, Betting Gangster S was racing first-over trying to challenge the leader while towing 2-1 favorite Lindy The Great into the race, but Betting Gangster S stalled on the far turn, which forced Lindy The Great three-wide, sealing the deal for the eventual winner. Lindy The Great kicked home in :26.1, but it was too little, too late, as Run Director completed his wire-to-wire win in 1:51.4.   "I did not expect to make the lead that easy," said Miller. "He was going along really easy and seemed very comfortable. I heard Andy [Miller, driving Lindy The Great] coming but we had enough left to get the job done." Run Director, who hit the finish three-quarters-of-a-length in front of LTG, paid $25.00 to win for his owners Thomas and Elizabeth Rankin. Swansea finished third. The Andrew Harris trainee now has 14 wins from 38 career starts and earnings of $470,087. NJSS WRAPUP: The second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds saw seven divisions on the Friday card. In the first of three colt and gelding trots, the Dave Miller-driven, Marcus Melander-trained Heartbreak Hill (Muscle Hill-Allmar Surprise) gunned down 3-5 favorite Spy Booth nearing the wire to pull off an upset at 31-1, winning for the first time in his career in 1:54.3; Locatelli (Muscle Hill-Girlie Tough) went wire-to-wire in division two for Yannick Gingras and Nancy Takter, taking his first-ever victory in 1:54.4 as the 3-1 third choice; Mon Amour (Muscle Hill-Mind Meld) was the only favorite among the male trotters to click, as the Per Engblom student scored in division three as the 3-5 choice in 1:56 with Dexter Dunn holding the lines. The first of two divisions for filly trotters went to Altar (Muscle Hill-Swan Hot Mama) for Dave Miller and Engblom. The 7-1 chance recorded her first lifetime win in 1:54.4 coming from off the pace. In the second division, Engblom completed a sweep of the filly trot divisions - and got his third NJSS win of the night - with Material Girl, a Muscle Hill-Lilu Hanover offspring who was driven by Dunn. The 4-1 shot, who visited the winner's circle for the first time in her career, stopped the clock in 1:55.3. Before the betting card, there were a pair of divisions on the pace. Recording a second victory in as many starts was the filly Anna Jeans (Great Vintage-Early Go Hanover), who scored in a lifetime-best 2:03.2 for trainer John Urbanski and driver Jason Thompson. Also staying perfect in two starts was Fika Time, a gelding from trainer Chase Vandervort who is a product of Sunfire Blue Chip-Raiders Favorite. Tim Tetrick guided the winner to a lifetime-best 1:56.3 mile. A LITTLE MORE: Wagering was solid all night as the 20-cent Pick-5 took in $81,252 in bets and the Late Pick-4 saw $88,209 of action. ... Total wagering was $2,883,778. ... Racing resumes Saturday night - Meadowlands Pace Night - at a special early post time of 6:30 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

The seventh edition of the Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters is scheduled for Saturday, July 18 as race 8 (scheduled post time of 9:30 p.m. EDT) on the dynamic, stakes-laden Meadowlands Pace Night at The Meadowlands. (Maturity race history can be found here ) It's a brand that until 2013 represented the pinnacle of success in 3-year-old trotting races. Hambletonian dreams have come and been shattered by many and enjoyed by few. There were no second chances so if you had a top colt or filly that didn't hit peak condition in early August there was no wait-until-next year mantra. Things changed for the better in 2014 when the Hambletonian Society stepped in and unveiled a race specifically for 4-year-olds. A new era was born and to many purists it represented a bit of a second chance, even though the competition might still include the previous year's Hambletonian or Hambletonian Oaks winner. Owner Paul Van Camp had a pretty solid sophomore trotter in Your So Vain in 2013. The Donato Hanover-sired colt won a heat of the Kentucky Futurity and finished second in the Canadian Trotting Classic that year but kind of fell a bit short of expectations. For Van Camp Your So Vain's best race may have been a second place finish in the Canadian Classic. "Randy Waples was driving him for the first time," said Van Camp. "He told me after the race that if he had known how good he was he would have moved him earlier and we would have won by five." Such are the stories that follow you in racing and remain crystal clear even seven years later. Van Camp was approached by the late Ole Bach after the sophomore campaign and asked if he would sell Your So Vain with buyers in Europe looking to race him there. "I knew the Hambletonian Maturity was on the schedule and I really didn't want to sell the entire horse so we agreed for me to hold on to 10 percent just so I'd have something to root for," said Van Camp. That decision led to a change in trainers, as Brad Maxwell relinquished the role and Swedish transplant trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt assumed it. "Brad did a great job with this horse all the way. We gave him to Ake about two months before the Maturity and let him do what he does best," said Van Camp. What sticks out in a major way reflecting back on the 2014 Maturity debut was that Your So Vain was making his first start as a 4-year-old in the $484,850 contest while his 13 rivals that included 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life and Oaks winner and race-favorite Bee A Magician had plenty of preparation for the mile and one eighth contest. A record 14 trotters entered. "I was a little concerned before the race but after watching him score down I thought he looked better physically than any time I'd watched him before," said Van Camp. Sent off as a 7-1 third choice due in part to drawing the rail and also based on Svanstedt's worldwide reputation for having his horses ready at first asking, Your So Vain made a three-wide move on the backstretch and never looked back on his way to a then world mark of 2:05 3/5 for the added distance. "I've watched a lot of races at The Meadowlands over the years," said Van Camp, "I can only recall maybe two times that a horse made a move like that at the half and went on to win the race." To Van Camp it may not have been the actual Hambletonian but the memories today replicate the feeling he would have gotten had the race occurred on the first Saturday in August of 2013. "I'd say I must watch the replay at least once a week," said Van Camp while admiring the winner's circle photo. With 14 horses in the first Hambletonian Maturity the bar was set high for participation for also rans and champions from the sophomore season. In 2015 JL Cruze and John Campbell were reserved off the pace as the odds-on favorite while the Jimmy Takter-trained pair of Shake It Cerry and Father Patrick did the heavy lifting in the early stages. JL Cruze catapulted from last to first and then gamely held off Resolve in a thriller that produced another world record mile and one-eighth clocking of 2:04 2/5. The Maturity served as a springboard to the rise of JL Cruze who is still competing at a rather high level in 2020 for trainer Eric Ell. The favorite parade continued when Hannelore Hanover crushed her male rivals for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras in the 2016 edition. The Indiana-bred daughter of Swan For All branched out as a 4-year-old after dominating the Hoosier state as a sophomore. Hannelore Hanover would go on to earn in excess of $3 million during her brilliant racing career. Perhaps the original concept of the Hambletonian Maturity would be its allure to attract the previous year's Hambletonian champion to defend his or her crown. Until 2017 no Hambletonian winner had successfully done so but that changed when trainer Paula Wellwood returned with Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder. His resume alone may have scared off some of the competition as only eight others entered the $458,750 contest. Scott Zeron drove Marion Marauder, a son of Muscle Hill, with the confidence one would expect from a 3-10 favorite and won by a measured half-length. Marion Marauder, despite his Triple Crown conquest, was never a horse that ran away from others but at the same time he seemed to always recognize where the finish line was and usually arrived first. Another Maturity champion alumni, Marion Marauder is still at the top of his game as a 7-year-old in 2020. Given his overwhelming success stories in both Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks it was kind of a surprise that Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter had been shutout of the Hambletonian Maturity winner's circle but that changed in a major way in 2018 when the previous year's Oaks champion Ariana G dominated a field of eight male rivals giving her driver Yannick Gingras his second stakes victory as a prohibitive choice. Perhaps what sticks out most is the :25 3/5 opening quarter Ariana G trotted. The daughter of Muscle Hill was always able to carry her speed and retired with a 1:50 2/5 record as well as $2.4 million career earnings. It's safe to say that 2019 represented the year that everything worked out perfectly for those who had hoped the Hambletonian Maturity would become a "Classic" trotting race. First and foremost the $450,000 event contested last year at The Meadowlands on July 13 had a field that included the Hambletonian winner from the previous year in the mare Atlanta as well as the Hambletonian Oaks champion Manchego. Trainer Ake Svanstedt had the sub-1:50 Kentucky Futurity champion Six Pack in the field as well and those three took a majority of the betting action. The 2019 Hambletonian Maturity turned out to be a spectacular race but not for the favorites. Instead it was 23-1 longshot Crystal Fashion and driver Tim Tetrick working out an absolutely perfect trip despite starting from post seven. Atlanta, the 1-5 favorite racing for trainer Ron Burke after winning the 2018 Hambletonian for conditioner Rick Zeron, was able to control most of the tempo but was unable to hold sway perhaps because of the competition or the longer distance. Crystal Fashion, trained by Jim Campbell put his nose in front on the wire ahead of a charging Custom Cantab with Atlanta crossing the wire third. The judges disqualified Custom Cantab for causing interference in the stretch and set him back to seventh. Perhaps it's the extra distance or the healthy purse for a restricted 4-year-old race that has distinguished the Hambletonian Maturity from other races but more likely it's the name Hambletonian that inspires the interest of owners, trainers, drivers and breeders. It may take an extra year for some to find the Hambletonian winner's circle but make no mistake victory is just as sweet. by Jau Bergman, for the Hambletonian Society

Shartin N, the 2019 Horse of the Year, returns to harness racing action Saturday (July 18) in the $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial for older female pacers at The Meadowlands Racetrack after missing a start because of a minor foot issue. The 7-year-old mare, unbeaten in two outings this season, was scratched from a conditioned race July 5 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Prior to the brief setback, Shartin N won an invitational for fillies and mares at Dover Downs on March 4 and an open handicap for fillies and mares at Yonkers Raceway on June 30. Her victory at Yonkers, where she lost a shoe during the race, came from post eight. "It's unfortunate she had to be scratched, but it was something that was easily taken care of," trainer Jim King Jr. said. "She's had a good week. She had a good group to train with - Soho Burning Love, Bettor Joy, Donttellmeagain - and showed her dominance. That was good because those are some pretty good ones." Shartin N is owned by Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King, and driver Tim Tetrick. She has won 36 of 45 career races and $2.07 million since arriving in the U.S. from New Zealand. King has been more than pleased with what he's seen from Shartin N in her limited action this year. "Oh my goodness, I don't know how she could have done it any better," King said. "Both times coming from off the pace and doing her job. It is special to have a horse like her. In so many ways, she's just ordinary, another horse. But in so many other ways, she's not." Shartin N will start the Dorothy Haughton Memorial (formerly the Golden Girls) from post two and is the 8-5 morning-line favorite. Her training partners/stablemates Soho Burning Love A and Bettor Joy N also are in the race, with the former at 4-1 and the latter at 15-1. Kissin In The Sand, who has a 1:47.4 win from two starts, is the 7-2 second choice and Caviart Ally, last season's Breeders Crown Mare Pace winner, is 5-1. The Dorothy Haughton Memorial (race 10) is part of a stakes-laden slate at The Big M. Following is a look at the other stakes events on the card. First race post time is 6:30 p.m. (EDT). Race 2 - $40,000 Miss Versatility for trotting mares (third leg of series) Manchego, the season's fastest trotter thanks to her 1:50 win in the first round of the series, is the 4-5 morning-line favorite. She won her first two races of the campaign before a half-length setback to Atlanta in the Cutler Memorial on July 4. Plunge Blue Chip is the 4-1 second choice. Race 3 - $253,500 Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters Empire Breeders Classic winner Hypnotic AM is the 3-1 favorite, followed by W.N. Reynolds Memorial champ Sorella at 7-2 and returning Dan Patch Award winner Ramona Hill at 9-2. Sorella is No. 2 in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian rankings and Hypnotic AM is No. 5. Race 4 - $142,250 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters (division) Amigo Volo, coming off a win in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars and ranked No. 1 in the Road to the Hambletonian, is the 3-1 favorite. Big Oil, also a PA All-Stars winner, is 7-2 followed by returning Dan Patch Award winner Real Cool Sam at 4-1 in his seasonal debut. Six of the eight male trotters in the Road to the Hambletonian ratings are in this race: Amigo Volo, Back Of The Neck (No. 3), Real Cool Sam (4), Third Shift (6), Big Oil (7), and Synergy (10). Race 5 - $142,250 Stanley Dancer Memorial (division) Reynolds division runner-up Beads is the 3-1 favorite. EL Ideal, third behind Beads in their Reynolds split, is 7-2 and seasonal debuting Ready For Moni is 9-2. Beads and Ready For Moni are in the Road to the Hambletonian rankings, at eighth and ninth, respectively. Race 6 - $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old filly pacers JK First Lady, coming off a 1:49.4 qualifier win, is the 3-1 favorite. She was third by a neck in her only start, June 26. Rocknificent, who won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes her last time out, is 7-2 and returning Dan Patch Award winner Lyons Sentinel, who was second to Rocknificent in the PASS, is 4-1 from post nine in an 11-horse field. Race 7 - $391,300 William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers Dancin Lou, who won a preliminary leg of the Graduate Series and was third in the final, is the 3-1 favorite. Roll With Joe Stakes champ Backstreet Shadow is 7-2 with Roll With Joe runner-up None Bettor A at 9-2. Race 8 - $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters A 13-horse field going 1-1/8 miles. Gimpanzee, 3-for-3 this year and fresh off a victory in the Graduate Series final, is the 3-1 favorite from post 13. Forbidden Trade, the 2019 Hambletonian winner, won a conditioned race last week at The Meadowlands and is 7-2. When Dovescry, who won the 2019 Hambletonian Oaks, is making her seasonal debut and is 9-2. Race 9 - $636,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old male pacers Tall Dark Stranger is the 7-5 favorite. Read more here. Race 11 - $123,100 William R. Haughton consolation Sintra is the 3-1 favorite followed by Geez Joe at 7-2 and Western Joe at 9-2. For Saturday's complete Big M entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

East Rutherford, NJ – Nancy Takter’s sensational filly Sorella makes her debut on the Road to the Hambletonian coming in at number two.  Hypnotic AM remains in the top ten but drops two spaces to number five.   Every horse in Ken Warkentin’s top ten are in to go at the Meadowlands this Saturday’s Stanley Dancer Memorial and/or Del Miller Memorial. Rank Horse Driver, Trainer, Owner Ken Warkentin’s Comments 1 Amigo Volo  (Father Patrick) Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman, Pinske Stables, David J. Miller  Breeders Crown champion sixth [1:52.3] as the beaten favorite in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M in his 3YO debut, then romped in a PA Allstars division @ Pocono Downs in 1:54 on July 11, post four in a Dancer division on July 18 2 Sorella (Muscle Hill)  Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter, Elmer Fannin, Crawford Farms Racing Filly has blossomed for Team Takter going three-for-three 2020, fresh off a 1:50.2 win in the Reynolds @ Big M on July 11, Nancy Takter:  “We are considering the Hambo.  She will race in the Del Miller & we will decide then.  I don’t think there is a colt close to her.”  3 Back Of The Neck (Ready Cash)  Scott Zeron, Ake Svanstedt, Howard Taylor, Order By Stable, Judith Taylor  Set the pace & second by a nose in 1:51.2 [:26] in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27, won a Reynolds division @ Big M on July 11 in 1:52 with a thunderous :26.4 rally, post six in a Dancer division on July 18 4 Real Cool Sam (Muscle Hill)  Dave Miller, Jim Campbell, Fashion Farms LLC  Dan Patch Award winner broke in his first Big M qualifier, rebounded with a second in 1:53.1 [:26.3], second again in 1:52.4 [:28] on July 3, Jim Campbell was very happy with his last two qualifiers, has the rail for his 3YO debut in a Dancer division on July 18  5 Hypnotic AM (Chapter Seven) Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, Courant Inc. Filly was an ultra impressive 1:51.1 [:27.3] in her 3YO debut, cruised in a NYSS @ Tioga Downs in 1:54.2, romped from post nine in EBC @ Vernon Downs on July 4 in 1:53.4, still a Hambo prospect, post eight in Del Miller division on July 18 6 Third Shift (Chapter Seven) Ake Svanstedt, Mellby Gard, Inc., Ake Svanstedt NYSS champion won a NYSS division @ Vernon Downs on June 24 in 1:54.2, won an EBC division @ Vernon Downs on July 4 in 1:52.4, post seven in a Dancer division on July 18 7 Big Oil (Father Patrick) Andy & Julie Miller, Jason, Doug & Ron Allen  Wire-to-wire in 1:55 in his 3YO debut @ Harrah’s Philadelphia on June 28, won a PA Allstars division @ Pocono Downs in 1:53.2 on July 11, post three in a Dancer division on July 18 8 Beads (Archangel)  Jimmy Takter, Per Engblom, Renee Spahr Son of world champion Archangel broke in his first two starts this season, then Jimmy Takter took the lines for a 1:52.2 qualifier win, parked first over & just missed in his 3YO debut in 1:51.2, has the rail in a Dancer division on July 18  9 Ready For Moni (Ready Cash) Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter, John Fielding, Lindy Farms of Conn, Herb Liverman, Bud Hatfield  Son of two-time Prix D’Amerique winner Ready Cash, grandson of the great Moni Maker, KYSS champion now with Team Takter & back in Top Ten, makes 3YO debut in Dancer division on July 18  10 Synergy (Father Patrick) Andrew McCarthy, Per Engblom, Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman & David Anderson Third [1:52.1] in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27 in his 3YO debut, set the pace & faded to fifth [1:52.2] in Reynolds Memorial division @ Big M on July 11, post 8 in a Dancer division on July 18  

One night a couple years ago while enjoying dinner with a friend, horse owner Elmer Fannin had a thought. If the yet-to-be-raced homebred filly harness racing trotter he had in his stable was as good as the wine they were enjoying, she would be something special. "So, I decided I was going to name her Sorella for the bottle of wine," Fannin said. "That's how it happened. It was just an enjoyable dinner, enjoying some good wine, and now I've got a good horse." Sorella is showing signs of maturing like a fine wine. Last season at age 2, she went off stride in three of her nine starts. Her remaining six races, though, included two wins and two seconds. She won divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Arden Downs and both runner-up efforts came to Sister Sledge, including in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. This year, she is 3-for-3. She won the lone division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters last week, when she scored in 1:50.2, the fastest mile of the season by any 3-year-old trotter. One start earlier, she beat a group of Hambletonian-eligible boys in 1:51.2.   "She was good last year but she was shying away from stuff," Fannin said about Sorella, who in 2019 was trained by Staffan Lind and this year is in the stable of Nancy Takter. "She just wasn't settled down and was making some breaks. But when she didn't make a break, she was really good. "Nancy has done a tremendous job with her. You never know how far up the ladder they'll go before they stop. But she's certainly been an amazing filly. She didn't look like she was all out in her last race. It wasn't like she was waiting for the finish line to come to her, she was OK going to the finish line. That was great." Sorella makes her next start Saturday in the $253,500 Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters at The Meadowlands. Sorella will leave from post one with driver Yannick Gingras and is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. Empire Breeders Classic winner Hypnotic AM is the 3-1 favorite. All but one of the 11 fillies in the Miller Memorial are eligible to August's Hambletonian Oaks, but could be entered against the boys in the Hambletonian. Has Fannin given that scenario any thought? "Yeah, probably all of my life," he said with a laugh. "To have a filly and beat the boys, who wouldn't be thinking about it. A lot of people, like Nancy and Yannick, would have a say in that, but we'll see. She's got a race this week and we'll see how she does. You don't want to get overanxious and get in over your head and not do yourself or the industry, or the filly, any favors." Sorella is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Kadealia. Fannin raced Kadealia, best remembered for a 75-1 upset in the 2008 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old fillies, and retained her as a broodmare following her career on the track. Sadly, the mare died earlier this year while in foal to Father Patrick. "All of her foals made it to the races, and I thought at some point she was destined to have a good one," Fannin said. "I'm certainly happy to honor Kadealia with Sorella doing so well. Hopefully Sorella continues on and does well and the Father Patrick (yearling) colt I have will do well next year." Fannin, a Delaware resident who with his wife Mary Ann founded custom home builder Country Life Homes a little more than 25 years ago, owns Sorella with Crawford Farms Racing and Brent Fannin. "We're just happy to have her," Fannin said. "We're just all enjoying it and I've got nothing but praise for the trainers, drivers, partners, and, of course, the filly. With her out of the equation, there ain't any fun for anybody." The Miller is part of a big night of racing at The Big M, headlined by the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old male pacers. In addition, Saturday's racing includes two $142,250 divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, the 13-horse $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity at 1-1/8 miles for 4-year-old trotters, the 11-horse $391,300 William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers (as well as a $123,100 consolation), $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial for older female pacers, the 11-horse $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, and the third leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Real Cool Sam, the 2019 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old colt harness racing trotter, makes his seasonal debut Saturday in the first of two $142,250 divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial at The Meadowlands. The Dancer, the penultimate stakes prep at The Big M for 3-year-old male trotters ahead of August's Hambletonian, is part of a stakes-packed card headlined by the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old colt pacers. Pace elimination winner Tall Dark Stranger, also a Dan Patch Award recipient in 2019, is the 7-5 morning-line favorite. First race post time Saturday is 45 minutes earlier than usual, at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). Real Cool Sam, who was named in honor of late Meadowlands announcer Sam McKee, won nine of 10 races last year for trainer Jim Campbell and owner Jules Siegel's Fashion Farms. The homebred son of Muscle Hill-Cooler Schooner counted the Peter Haughton Memorial and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship among his victories and set multiple world records along the way. The colt is among 17 Hambletonian eligibles in the two 10-horse Dancer divisions. He will start from post one with driver David Miller and is 4-1 on the morning line. Amigo Volo is the 3-1 favorite followed by Big Oil at 7-2. Real Cool Sam enters the race off second-place finishes in his two most recent qualifiers, June 27 and July 3, at The Meadowlands. He was timed in 1:52.4 last time. "I was real happy with his last two qualifiers," Campbell said. "A few of these other horses have gotten a couple starts ahead of him, but we're just looking to get him prepped and ready for the Hambo. So far so good." Real Cool Sam, who is No. 2 behind Amigo Volo in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian rankings, will attempt to become the first returning Dan Patch Award winner since Pinkman in 2015 to win the Hambletonian. "There wasn't too much that didn't make us happy last year," Campbell said during the winter about Real Cool Sam. "He's good mannered in a race, good gaited, he's got speed. He's obviously going to have to carry his speed a lot further at 3 than at 2. That's the main thing, just carrying your speed further." Campbell will decide Real Cool Sam's next start following the Dancer. He could race once more or go directly to the Hambletonian eliminations Aug. 1 at The Meadowlands. "I'll play it by ear," Campbell said. "Our goal all along was to keep him at The Meadowlands until after the Hambletonian." Campbell also will send out Beyond Kronos in the second Dancer division. Beyond Kronos, by Muscle Hill out of Oyster Kronos, was a three-time winner in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series last year and runner-up to EL Ideal in the Kindergarten Classic final. He is winless in three races this season, but trotted 1:51.4 in a fourth-place finish in a division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial last weekend at The Meadowlands. "I've been real happy with the way he's gone," Campbell said. "He's gotten into tough races every start but he trotted (1):51.4 last week and I was real happy with the way he did it." Beads is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the second Dancer division. In addition to the Dancer and Meadowlands Pace, Saturday's racing includes an 11-horse $253,500 single division of the Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters, the 13-horse $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity at 1-1/8 miles for 4-year-old trotters, the 11-horse $391,300 William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers (as well as a $123,100 consolation), $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial for older female pacers, the 11-horse $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, and the third leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

The $400,000E Hambletonian Maturity trotting race is scheduled for Saturday, July 18 at The Meadowlands. It is the seventh edition of the race created by the Hambletonian Society and The Meadowlands to provide more racing opportunity for four-year-old trotters. The Hambletonian Maturity allows for supplemental entries under the following conditions:  Supplemental entries are due and payable by 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. Payment of $50,000 ($42,000 plus the $8,000 entrance fee) must be in certified U.S. Funds and RECEIVED in the Meadowlands Race Office prior to 8 a.m. (local time) on that day along with the supplemental entry. The supplemental check or wire may also be delivered to the Hambletonian Society office before the end of the business day on Monday, July 13.  All supplemental entrance fees shall be made payable to the Hambletonian Society Inc. All supplemental fees shall be added to the amount of the purse of the specific race. Entries for eligible Maturity horses are due at the standard entry time of 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 14. If any supplemental entries are received for the Hambletonian Maturity, notice will be disseminated via the Meadowlands text message service. Like the Hambletonian and Oaks, the Maturity racing conditions prohibit the use of Lasix, the only race day medication permitted in New Jersey, and entrants are subject to out of competition testing.  The Maturity is raced at a distance of a mile and an eighth and allows for up to 16 starters. If more than 16 enter, the top money-earners in their three and four-year-old seasons are given preference.  There are 34 eligible trotters: 26 horses and geldings and eight trotting mares. All starters sixth through last will receive money.  The complete race conditions and eligibles can be found here: Please call the Meadowlands Racing office at 201-842-5130 or the Hambletonian Society at 609-371-2211 for further information.      From the Hambletonian Society

East Rutherford, NJ --- Hurrikane Emperor provided an upset in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers while 1-5 favorite Gimpanzee took care of business in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Hurrikane Emperor, sent off as the fifth choice at odds of 7-1, was second over in fourth at three-quarters before coming three wide off the last turn and storming through the stretch to reign by 1-1/2 lengths over Workin Ona Mystery in 1:47, the fastest mile of the season. Dancin Lou finished third. Favorite Bettor's Wish was eighth. Mark MacDonald drove Hurrikane Emperor to victory for trainer John McDermott and owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, and William Garofalo. "I really thought he was going to be awesome tonight and Mark gave him the most beautiful drive in the world," McDermott said. "It worked out beautifully." Hurrikane Emperor is a homebred son of former McDermott standout Hurrikane Kingcole, who died last October at the age of 10. Hurrikane Emperor won seven of nine races as a 2-year-old and opened his 3-year-old campaign with three consecutive wins, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, before seeing his season derailed by sickness. "We don't know what it was, but everything just kept falling apart," McDermott said. "I shut him down. My boys were so great about it, they told me to give him all the time he needed. We did and it's paid off." Hurrikane Emperor won a conditioned race in March before the sport was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When racing resumed, he returned in the Graduate Series, where he won an opening-round division at Tioga Downs. He finished third in his second-round division last week at The Meadowlands. "This is beyond words," McDermott said. "Through this pandemic it's been such torture, all I did was go deeper in the hole. Thank God for my great partners that have supported me through it because it has not been easy. To come out here, I knew he was awesome this year. Last week we were all slightly disappointed, but the way he got sick last year, I'm trying to not overuse him. "This is just really a blessing. He is so special to us. Owning his daddy, losing his daddy last year, he's family. He's the greatest creature in the world to me. It's funny, as a 2- and 3-year-old he didn't remind me of his father because he was really nondescript and didn't have much of a personality. In the last year, he's grown into such a clown that he's so much like his dad off the track. On the track, he's nice and manageable."   Hurrikane Emperor, out of the mare Hurrikane Schmumma, has won 13 of 22 career races and $534,476. In the Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters, Gimpanzee saw Reign Of Honor lead the field around the first turn but moved to the front at the quarter on his way to a 1:50.4 triumph for driver Brian Sears and trainer Marcus Melander. Reign Of Honor, also trained by Melander, was second and Chin Chin Hall finished third. The winning margin was one length.   Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, is 3-for-3 this year and has won 20 of 26 career races. A Dan Patch Award winner at age 2, the stallion has banked $1.89 million for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. "Reign Of Honor finishing second from a bad post (10) was a little bit shocking that he was so fast behind the gate," Melander said. "Gimpanzee was supposed to win, but finishing first and second, I'm very pleased. "(Gimpanzee) is doing what he's supposed to do. He's going to go back next week for the Hambletonian Maturity, so it was nice to get a nice race on the lead. I was very happy with what I saw. The horse is getting more in form. Even though he's been racing great, I can feel him getting sharper and sharper. It will be very exciting to continue racing with him." The target for next week’s $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds is clearly on Tall Dark Stranger’s back. And his trainer, Nancy Takter, seems to be just fine with that. Tall Dark Stranger took over the lead just after the quarter and rolled down the road from there in the lone Meadowlands Pace Elimination at The Meadowlands Saturday night, establishing himself as the clear-cut one-to-beat in the track’s signature event next week (July 18). “He’s a great colt,” said Takter. “He’s been great since Day One. He performs every time I put him out on the track.” Hard to dispute given his lifetime record of 10 wins from 11 starts. Major Betts left the gate quickly from post one, as did Tall Dark Stranger from the three. Major Betts went the quarter in :26.1 before TDS took over and hit the half in :54.4. Capt Midnight – who finished ninth and failed to qualify for the final – came calling first-over to apply token pressure at three-quarters in 1:22.1. Then Tall Dark Stranger got serious. Off the far turn, driver Yannick Gingras asked the son of Bettor’s Delight-Precocious Beauty for more speed, and he provided just that, extending his advantage to two lengths at the head of the lane. In deep stretch, 23-1 shot Captain Kirk was closing well after going an inside trip to get second while 4-1 second choice Papi Rob Hanover, who again had to come from well off the pace after drawing poorly (post 10), grabbed third. Tall Dark Stranger won it by a half-length after stopping the clock in 1:48.1. After earning half of the $50,000 purse, his lifetime bank account stood at $751,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. He returned $2.80 to his backers as the 2-5 favorite. By winning the elim, TDS earned the right to draw a post position from one through six. He got the five for the big-money final in the draw conducted shortly after the race. “Post five is a great place,” said Takter. “It gives Yannick a lot of options. That’s his job. I was super happy with my horse tonight.” The top eight in official order of finish made the final, with two horses – Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate – earning byes based on seasonal earnings. Mocha On The Rocks finished 10th and last in the elim. MEADOWLANDS PACE FIELD The field for the $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old open pacers, which takes place at The Meadowlands on July 18 and has a post time of 10:05 p.m., with post position, horse (driver, trainer) and morning-line odds: 1. Roll With JR (Corey Callahan, Jeff Cullipher), 20-1 2. Catch The Fire (Mike Wilder, John Ackley), 10-1 3. Captain Barbossa (Brian Sears, Tony Alagna), 10-1 4. Allywag Hanover (Tim Tetrick, Brett Pelling), 5-1 5. Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 7-5 6. Manticore (Jordan Stratton, Bruce Saunders), 15-1 7. Chief Mate (Andy McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 20-1 8. Major Betts (Dexter Dunn, Mark Harder), 10-1 9. Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller, Brett Pelling), 4-1 10. Captain Kirk (Joe Bongiorno, Tony Alagna), 15-1 HUGE HANDLE: With two of the races on the card serving as the catalyst with over $350,000 in action, total wagering was $3,440,248, a 2020 Meadowlands best for a 13-race program. When total handle reached $4,100,386 on June 20, the per race average for the 18-race program was $227,799. On Saturday, the average per race was a season-high $264,634. The night got off to a fast start, as $368,907 in bets were taken on the first race, $98,457 of which was bet in the 20-cent Pick-5 pool, another Big M best. A LITTLE MORE: Gingras led the driver’s colony with four winners on the card. … The 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five carryovers continued to swell. This Friday, when racing resumes at 7:15 p.m., JSH5 players will shoot for big green, as the fifth race carryover stands at $65,089, and the 13th race will start out with $80,368 in the hat. … On Saturday, July 18, Meadowlands Pace Night, post time will be 6:30 p.m. The W.N. Reynolds Memorial divisions for 3-year-old male trotters were won by Jula Trix Treasure and Back Of The Neck, both from the stable of trainer Ake Svanstedt. Jula Trix Treasure, driven by Gingras, won in 1:51.2, with Beads second and EL Ideal third. Back Of The Neck, with Scott Zeron in the sulky, won in 1:52 with Play Trix On Me second and Maesteraemon third. The only Reynolds event for 3-year-old female trotters was won by Takter-trained and Gingras-driven Sorella in 1:50.2, the fastest mile of the season by a 3-year-old trotter. Panem was second followed by returning Dan Patch Award winner Ramona Hill in her 2020 debut. by Ken Weingartner and Dave Little  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Gusting winds and drenching rains from Tropical Storm Fay could not extinguish the harness racing fire that is super mare Atlanta at The Meadowlands Friday night. Facing an easier task than in her first two starts of the season not having to face arch-rival Manchego, the Ron Burke-trained Atlanta had an easy time of it in the $40,000 second leg of the Miss Versatility for open mare trotters over a sloppy track. Driver Yannick Gingras kept Atlanta off the early action, sitting fifth past the quarter and half. He then got the 5-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip in gear after leader Kenziesky Hanover. With Atlanta gaining quickly, Plunge Blue Chip swerved out of the three-hole, which provided a live tow for the eventual winner. Plunge Blue Chip was just off the leader's flank at three-quarters, and out of the turn, Gingras swung Atlanta three-wide for the drive and easily coasted by Plunge Blue Chip to record a 3¼-length score in 1:51.2. Plunge Blue Chip, the 5-1 second choice, completed the $5.20 exacta. Felicityshagwell S was third. "I wasn't concerned about the sloppy track because I knew Yannick would adjust to the conditions," said Burke. "The truth is, she prefers to get the kind of trip she got tonight. I wanted to follow Plunge Blue Chip, and as long as we could outkick her, we'd be alright. I am going to give Atlanta next week off. I don't want to over-race her. She's more thoroughbred than standardbred. She'll go next in two weeks in the Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge." Atlanta has now won 22 of 42 lifetime outings, good for earnings of $2,026,089 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor. NJSS ROUNDUP: The New Jersey Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds kicked off Friday with its opening leg, and in the filly pace, the John Urbanski-trained and driven Anna Jeans, a product of Great Vintage-Early Go Hanover, won in a "walkover" (a one-horse race) in 2:15.2 over the sloppy surface in a race conducted before the betting card. In another early non-bettor, Fika Time took the colt and gelding pace for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Chase Vandervort. The gelded son of Sunfire Blue Chip-Raiders Favorite stopped the clock in 2:01.1. In the first of three colt and gelding trots on the betting card, Southwind Tyrion, a son of Muscle Hill-Taylor Jean, came from off the pace to score as the 4-5 favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt in 1:56.1. The Dexter Dunn-driven, Per Engblom-trained Mon Amour, a colt by Muscle Hill-Mind Meld, went wire-to-wire in 1:56.4 as the 3-1 second choice in division two before Beyond The Hill took advantage of a late break by leader Sonofamistery to score in the final division in 1:59.1. Driven by Dave Miller and trained by Jim Campbell, the son of Muscle Hill-Beyond Blue paid off at odds of 10-1. The filly trotters had two divisions, and taking the first was Hot As Hill, who won from off the pace for driver Joe Bongiorno and Burke. The daughter of Muscle Hill-Smarty Pants went off at odds of 17-1 and went the mile in 1:58.3. The second division gave Svanstedt a trainer-driver NJSS double as another longshot, 39-1 chance Presto, upset the apple cart in 1:57 from off the pace. The winner is a daughter of Trixton-Susie's Magic. A LITTLE MORE: Melissa Arbia, who guided Take It Back Terry to victory in the first race GSY Series pace for amateur drivers, combined with Bongiorno to complete a rare husband-wife driving double on the card. The last to do it were Ake and Sarah Svanstedt. ... Despite the bad weather and multiple 2-year-old races, wagering on the 13-race card totaled $2,373,660. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The Meadowlands Pace Elimination and a pair of $250,000 Graduate Finals highlight the program.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Per Engblom had high hopes for Synergy last year at age 2, and while the colt won the Champlain Stakes and eliminations of the Peter Haughton Memorial and Breeders Crown, the campaign failed to live up to his trainer's early expectations. "We really thought we had a great horse," Engblom said of last year, noting a bout of sickness hampered Synergy during the summer and impeded his development. But as the 2020 harness racing season kicks into gear, Engblom remains hopeful Synergy can emerge as a primetime player among 3-year-old male trotters. Synergy makes his second start Saturday (July 11) in the second of two divisions of the Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings at The Meadowlands, where he leaves from post seven with Yannick Gingras and is the 3-1 morning-line favorite. The two Reynolds splits for the boys feature a total of 14 Hambletonian-eligible horses; Synergy is No. 6 in track announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian rankings. The Hambletonian, the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters, is Aug. 8 at The Meadowlands. Synergy enters the Reynolds off a third-place finish in a 3-year-old open June 27 at the Big M, where he was timed in 1:52.1. It was the colt's debut, following a 1:54 qualifying effort that featured a :26.2 last quarter-mile. "I was really happy with those two efforts," Engblom said. "He needs to get racing, to get going; he's a big, heavy colt. But he's shown that he's a little stronger this year than last year, so I'm happy with that and I'm looking forward to these races coming up." A son of Father Patrick out of Southwind Sauna, Synergy is owned by Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and David Anderson. He was purchased as a yearling under the name Southwind Saranac for $275,000 at the 2018 Lexington Selected Sale and his family includes O'Brien Award winner Federal Flex. Synergy has won four of 11 career races and $164,888. "He had a little bit of trouble carrying his speed last year," Engblom said. "The last sixteenth of a mile he kind of flattened out, but this year so far, going (1):52, he seemed pretty good. Let's hope he can go (1):51 and (1):50 and a piece, too." Engblom also has a starter in the first Reynolds division. Beads, a newcomer to his stable this year, is the 4-1 third choice behind EL Ideal (2-1) and Capricornus (3-1). Beads went off stride in both of his starts this season, but heads to the Reynolds off a 1:52.2 win in a qualifier July 3. Jimmy Takter, who drove Beads in the qualifier, returns for Saturday's race. Last year, Beads won two of eight starts and $22,330. All but one of the horse's races were in Canada. The son of Archangel-Nepentha is owned by Renee Spahr. "He's a little bit of a funny horse, but he's got plenty of ability," Engblom said. "It's more mental issues with him, he gets a little nervous and stuff like that. He's not really stupid or hot or anything, it's just that he gets a little tense. "Going to the lead, so far, has been the model for him. If we can get him to mature, maybe he can race from behind a little bit. But he's showed plenty of ability so far." In addition to the two Reynolds divisions for the boys, there is a single Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters. Shishito is 6-1 on the morning line in a field that includes returning Dan Patch Award winner Ramona Hill (3-1 favorite) in her seasonal debut and 2-for-2 Sorella (7-2). Eight of the 10 fillies in the Reynolds are eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks, including Shishito, Ramona Hill, and Sorella. Shishito won her only start of the season, beating male rivals including Hambletonian hopeful Capricornus, in 1:53.3 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Last year, she won four of 11 races and $240,512 for owners Black Horse Racing and John Fielding. "She was a money-maker last year," Engblom said. "She was a very tough girl. She was there the first baby race of the year and she raced in the Breeders Crown final. This year, I've been super happy with her so far. She trotted (1):53 last year and she's been in (1):51.2 (in a qualifier) already this year, so she's developed the right way." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at The Meadowlands. The 13-race card also includes $250,000 Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old pacers and trotters and a single elimination of the Meadowlands Pace. For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

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