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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Harness racing fans of The Meadowlands' multi-leg wagers will no doubt be betting with both hands Saturday (Sept. 12) night, as after Friday night's Early 20-cent Pick-5 and 20-cent Pick-6 failed to result in winning tickets, each will offer big guaranteed pools. Thirty-two to one longshot Lear Seelster won the first race at the mile oval Friday night, leading to an Early 20-cent Pick-5 that did not have a ticket with five winners. Those with four correct cashed in for $108.22. Those who play the wager Saturday evening will have a shot at a huge score, as a carryover of $37,158 led Big M management to guarantee the pool at $100,000. Bettors can expect a final pool much larger than that as the last time a Pick-5 had a carryover on July 31, a total of $382,726 was pushed through the windows. The Pick-6's payoff leg was taken by 9-1 chance Stonebridge Reef, resulting in a carryover of $6,810. The track has guaranteed that pool at $20,000 for Saturday's card. Those who had five winners Friday walked away with $71.94. The last Pick-6 carryover (also on July 31) resulted in a total pool of $74,489. Free past performances for both Saturday's Early 20-cent Pick-5 (Races 1 through 5) and 20-cent Pick-6 (Races 3 through 8) are available at The Big M's website, playmeadowlands.com. FOUR SCORES FOR MILLER: Driver David Miller had the hot hand on the Friday program, visiting the winner's circle four times. Before the betting card began, Miller guided Reign Of Honor to victory lane in the New Jersey Breeders Maturity for trotting 4-year-old horses and geldings in 1:55.1. Then it was Miller time for the bettors. "The Buckeye", who is fifth on the all-time driver dash-win list with 13,037 victories, got his night started with the classy Dayson ($2.60 to win), who scored in 1:54 in a mid-range conditioned trot in race seven. He then scored one race later with 9-1 shot Stonebridge Reef ($21.00) in 1:54 in a 2-year-old non-winners of two pace before capping his night with a natural hat trick in the ninth behind The Last Chapter ($15.20), who took an upper mid-range conditioned trot in 1:53.4. A LITTLE MORE: The new 10-cent Pentafecta is worth a long look for players. Despite even-money favorite Lifetime Royalty scoring in the 13th race, the bet requiring one to correctly select the top five finishers paid $371.33. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,359,729. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With Labor Day now in the rear-view mirror, sweaters and jackets will begin to make their way out of closets everywhere, which means The Meadowlands Fall Meeting shifts into high gear this weekend with harness racing being conducted on both Friday (Sept. 11) and Saturday (Sept. 12) at the mile oval for the first time since the first week of August. Post time is 7:15 p.m. for both programs. The Meadowlands will race every Friday and Saturday - except for Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 25 - through the end of 2020. The big track just off the New Jersey Turnpike saw total wagering of almost $2.6 million on Opening Night last Saturday (Sept. 5), and that number may increase twice over the upcoming weekend, now that all Big M fans should be aware that the track is back. The betting was significant, given the history of September wagering at the track, where an average of $1.8 million was pushed through the windows over the course of four programs in 2016, and $1.6 million was bet in 2017 for the same number of cards. The last two times racing occurred in September was 2016-17. Optimistic breeders in the Garden State - as well as optimistic bettors - will no doubt point to the help that Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature have provided the industry as playing a part in the highly favorable September handle comparison. The highest Meadowlands Pace Night handle since 2008, highest Hambletonian Final handle since 2012 and a record-breaking Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park further prove that those in power in Trenton are behind the racing industry. There is plenty to look forward to this weekend for the player. Of the 26 races scheduled to take place this Friday and Saturday, 25 of them will have 10-horse fields, which create the big pools that bettors love. Value is always available at The Big M, where only three winning favorites scored last Saturday, setting up some prolific payouts since the average win price was $11.40 (odds of 9-2). Low takeouts and low minimums mean bettors can bet small and hit big. Some of the Saturday night highlights included the payouts for the 50-cent Late Pick-4 ($1,428), 20-cent Late Pick-5 ($1,968) and 20-cent Pick-6 ($2,128). On a nightly basis, the track now offers seven popular wagers with low 15 percent takeouts: Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5 Race 3: 20-cent Pick-6 Race 5: 10-cent Pentafecta Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 9: 20-cent Pick-5 Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 13: 10-cent Pentafecta FREE STUFF: For free past performances, go to playmeadowlands.com, where one can access Races 9 through 13 for both the Friday and Saturday programs. Those races include the 20-cent Late Pick-5, 50-cent Late Pick-4 and 10-cent Late Pentafecta, not to mention the Late Daily Double. TWEET THE TEAM: Stay in touch on Twitter with the Big M's Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1). Check in everyday for Meadowlands news and updates at those handles, as well as @TheMeadowlands and #playbigm. CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on this link to check out Friday's card: http://playmeadowlands.com/RaceReviews.aspx?racedt=9/11/2020 Additionally, track announcer Warkentin's blog is available on the site and offers his picks and analysis. On race nights, access picks and plays from the Big M TV team at #playbigm or at @TheMeadowlands. CHECK OUT THE SHOW: The Big M's live "Racing from The Meadowlands" pre-game show can always be seen on race nights at 6:45 p.m. On Friday, join Brower and Otten as they give in-depth analysis of the night's featured action, as well as news and notes from the world of harness racing. Saturday will find the usual team of Brower and Little sitting on the set - socially distanced, of course. For those looking for access to the show, all they need do is go to rtn.tv, so that they can access all the action on the Roberts Television Network. From The Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Over the past two years, Highalator has impressed time and again at The Meadowlands, and Saturday night at the mile oval, he brought his ‘A’ game once again in defeating a talented harness racing field in the featured $18,500 high-end conditioned pace. Unlike his Big M score on June 6 at odds of 42-1 from post 10 from off the pace, driver Ricky Still had the 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere-Higher And Higher on the go early from post 8, following 6-5 favorite Angers Bayama around the first turn. Angers Bayama – seeking his fourth straight win – led at the quarter in :26.2, but Highalator surged to the top shortly thereafter, securing the lead at the three-eighths before being permitted to rate the half in :54.4. Donttellmeagain was now on the move as Tim Tetrick asked that one for pace, and the pair made up ground racing on the rim down the backside and around the far turn, and were just off the leader’s flank at the head of the stretch. But just as he did while sweeping the 2019 Golden Receiver Series at The Big M, Highalator found more. Through the stretch, Highalator had to contend with a pesky Donttellmeagain to his outside and Angers Bayama to his inside. But Highalator was up to the task, fending off that two-pronged attack to score by a safe head after pacing his final quarter in :26.4. Angers Bayama finished second with Donttellmeagain third. The Jenny Bier trainee, who paid $11.00 to win as the third choice, stopped the clock in 1:49 and now has 36 wins from 80 lifetime starts for owners Jenny Bier, Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction Inc. His earnings are now just shy of $600,000. A LITTLE MORE: Hambletonian champion Ramona Hill qualified Saturday morning, winning from off the pace in 1:53.1. … The program marked the start of The Big M’s new 10-cent Pentafectas. The fifth race combination of 9-3-4-10-1 was good for a payoff of $689.34, while the 13th race paid $132.07 for a ticket bearing the combination 3-8-5-2-4. The second and third choices finished in the top two in both races. … Wagering on the 13-race program totaled $2,594,313. … Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It may have only been four weeks since Ramona Hill beat the boys in a thrilling Hambletonian where wagering soared to heights not seen in some time, but for impatient Meadowlands fans, the wait for harness racing to return to the top track in the game is finally over, as live action at the mile oval resumes Saturday (Sept. 5) at 7:15 p.m. Given the "new normal" that is life in the COVID-19 era, Saturday will not only mark the return of live racing, but simulcast fans will get a huge bonus as they'll be able to watch and wager on thoroughbred racing's biggest event, The Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs, which has a post time of 7:01 p.m. Normally, The Derby would have been contested on the first Saturday in May. Fans interested in finding out about limited attendance capacities, COVID protocols, seating and dining options at the Meadowlands Saturday should click on this link: Hambletonian Day business saw handle exceed the $5-million mark ($5.7M) for the second time in 2020, while betting on the Hambletonian itself totaled $845,469, the highest number since 2012. The July 18 Meadowlands Pace was the centerpiece of the other $5-million handle, reaching that lofty plateau for the first time on Pace Night since 2008. Betting throughout the Summer Championship Meet (June 5 through August 8) was vigorous, as average nightly handle rose 10 percent as compared to 2019 at $3,172,554. Handle per race increased eight percent to $232,421, and total wagering was $63.4 million, up more than $9 million. "The Meadowlands wishes to thank our faithful fans for their incredible support throughout this tumultuous year," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "Now, as we move forward with our Fall Meeting, we know that our new expanded low-takeout wagering menu will offer horseplayers a plethora of not only low-takeout options, but bets that offer low-minimums as well, from start to finish on every Meadowlands program." What's new on the betting menu are the Late Pick-5 and 10-cent High-Five, which brings to seven the total number of wagers on a given night that sport low 15 percent takeouts. That means that players can play "bookend" 20-cent Pick-5s, one on the first five races on the program and the second on the last five. The 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five has been eliminated and been replaced with a traditional, non-jackpot version, which means that multiple winners - instead of just one - can cash in. The minimum bet has been lowered from 20 cents to 10 and the wagers will be offered on the fifth and 13th races nightly. Here is what bettors are sure to find a very tasty menu of low-takeout wagers, effective Saturday night: Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5 Race 3: 20-cent Pick-6 Race 5: 10-cent High-Five Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 9: 20-cent Pick-5 Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 13: 10-cent High-Five WANT TO BET THE DERBY "ON THE GO"? The Meadowlands will offer Kentucky Derby wagering on both Friday and Saturday for those who need the convenience of a walk-up window given the track's reduced capacity. There will be a betting window in Lot M off Berry's Creek Road. Tellers will take action from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Programs will be available for sale for not only the Derby and Meadowlands races, but for simulcast action as well. DON'T MISS THE SHOW: Big M fans will be able to catch the Derby and then the show. The live simulcast "Racing from the Meadowlands" in-house pre-game show will begin immediately after the conclusion of the Kentucky Derby. THE SCHEDULE: Starting Sept. 11, racing will be conducted through the end of 2020 on Fridays and Saturdays - except for Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 25 - with a first-race post time of 7:15 p.m. MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The next can't-miss night at The Big M is Saturday, Nov. 21, when better than $2.8 million in purses will be up for grabs on "Fall Final Four/TVG Finals Night" as the Goldsmith Maid, Three Diamonds, Valley Victory, Governor's Cup and all four TVG Finals highlight a spectacular card. From the Meadowlands  

The Meadowlands Racetrack still has limited seating and dining available for this Saturday, September 5th. Doors open at 9am with the first race at Churchill Downs off at 11 am. The Kentucky Derby post is scheduled for 6:50pm with live harness racing at 7:15pm. Due to limited attendance capacities and COVID protocols, onsite attendance is limited to the following: Cafe seating Backyard BBQ & Grill seating East Deck dining West Deck dining (begins at 5:30pm) three hundred pre-paid general admission tickets Cafe picnic tables are available and guarantee the guest seating for both simulcasting and live racing. The Cafe will have waitress service and be tented for guest comfort. Guests can dine on racetrack staples including chicken wings and French fries, cheese steaks, burgers, pretzels, popcorn, ice cream and more. Reservations must be pre-paid and are $100 per table. Each table seats up to four people. The $100 is also a food credit that can be used at the outdoor Cafe on Kentucky Derby Day. The credit is valid on Saturday, September 5th only. Backyard seating is also available for Derby Day. The Backyard BBQ & Grill opens at 11 am and will have waitress service. Guests can dine on delicious summer-time grilled fare including burgers, sausage and hot dog along with brisket, ribs and mac & cheese. Backyard reservations must be pre-paid and are $25 per person. The $25 is also a food credit that can be used at the Backyard BBQ & Grill and Backyard Bar. Reservations for Backyard dining can be made by emailing Jennifer Jordan at jjordan@arkrestaurants.com. Please include your phone number in the email. All Backyard diners should enter via the Backyard entrance. Three East Deck high top dining tables remain available. The East Deck has waitress service and is covered for guest comfort. Guests can dine on great BBQ from the Backyard BBQ & Grill. Reservations must be pre-paid and are $100 per table. Each table seats up to four people. The $100 is also a food credit that can be used at the Backyard Grill on Kentucky Derby Day. The credit is valid on Saturday, September 5th only. The West Deck has a $29.95 pre fixe dinner menu featuring a variety of cold salads. Grilled items along with a selection of pre-packaged desserts are also be available. Reservations are required and dining must be prepaid. Reservations can be made by calling Marianne Rotella at 201-842-5059 or emailing mrotella@playmeadowlands.com. Seating begins at 5:30pm. Guests not interested in dining can purchase an admission only ticket for $10. It guarantees track entrance through the Simulcast Entrance from 9 am - 7pm. If tickets remain a limited number cash walk-ups may be taken at the Simulcast Entrance. Guests must make dining reservations for track admittance and guaranteed seating. All must wear face coverings while not at their table, have their temperature checked and complete a brief health questionnaire. No one with a temperature exceeding 100.4 will be allowed to enter. All are also encouraged to download and fill out the required the health questionnaire (available here) to speed up the check-in process. There is no valet parking available. To purchase tickets visit PlayMeadowlands.com/Derby by Rachel Ryan, for The Meadowlands

Columbus, OH – “It’s a disaster for the harness racing industry and would be catastrophic, no two ways about it. It would cost thousands of jobs and be devastating for breeders,” said Meadowlands Owner Jeff Gural regarding the announcement that NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s revised budget proposal includes that elimination of the $20 million purse subsidy for horse racing. Gural emphasized that it’s critical that NJ horse racing stakeholders contact their legislators before the budget is approved. “Everyone in our industry needs to reach out to their local legislators,” urged Gural. “The budget won’t be finalized until the end of September.  We have a month to convince the governor and legislators not to eliminate the subsidy.” To contact your local NJ legislators, click here, enter your municipality and send an email to each one. To call your representatives in the NJ Senate and Assembly, click here and select your district for phone numbers. In Wednesday’s (Aug. 26) njonlinegambling.com story, John Brennan reported that among NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s revised budget proposal cuts to try to counteract the loss of revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic “is a $20 million cut from an annual horse racing purse subsidy that was signed into law in February 2019. That money was to be split each year equally between the Thoroughbred horsemen at Monmouth Park and the harness racing communities of Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway. “The subsidy is a mere fraction of the hundreds of millions in slot machine revenue subsidies allocated to racetracks in New York and Pennsylvania, but it has helped the bottom line of all three tracks in both 2019 and 2020,” wrote Brennan. In addition, AJ Sabath, President/CEO of the Advocacy & Management Group, which serves as a government affairs advisor to the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, issued the following statement: “Yesterday (Aug. 25), the Governor proposed what he wanted the budget to look like from his vantage point. I want to reassure you that this is only the beginning of the budget process. The budget is now in the hands of the Legislature. Between now and the September 30th budget deadline, the Legislature will be negotiating their own budget with the Governor. Legislative leaders have their own budget priorities with the power to add and remove what is in the final budget. “This is not the time to be discouraged that the $20 million for purse appropriation was not in the proposed budget. We need to keep advocating for our industry. The foundation of our years of advocacy has made it clear to policy makers that our industry is part of the fabric of what makes New Jersey the state it is in the Union.” To read the complete njonlinegambling.com story, click here. from the USTA Communications Department

As would be expected, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s $32.4 billion budget proposal announced on Tuesday includes countless spending cuts to try to counteract the loss of revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a cut of a $71.3 million state subsidy toward New Jersey Transit, along with many trims in the $5 million to $25 million range. Among those is a $20 million cut from an annual horse racing purse subsidy that was signed into law in February 2019. That money was to be split each year equally between the thoroughbred horsemen at Monmouth Park and the harness racing communities of Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway. The subsidy is a mere fraction of the hundreds of millions in slot machine revenue subsidies allocated to racetracks in New York and Pennsylvania, but it has helped the bottom line of all three tracks in both 2019 and 2020. But what’s next? “I think it’s premature to comment, really,” Dennis Drazin, who operates Monmouth Park for the state’s thoroughbred horsemen, told njonlinegambling.com Wednesday.   “What this means is that we will have to continue to press for it to continue,” Drazin added. Still time for a budget revise The budget will not be finalized until the end of September, and no doubt there will be many negotiations in the form of — well, horse trading — in the virtual version of the Trenton statehouse in the weeks to come.   The compromise reached when the bill originally was passed was for five years and $100 million to the industry, but only via an annual review in which the horsemen would need to provide tangible proof that the subsidy was having a beneficial effect.   The racetracks indeed had improved bottom lines before the pandemic hit, with larger purses leading to larger race fields — which led to increased “handle,” or amount wagered. The 2020 subsidy already has been paid, so there is no immediate impact on the state’s horse racing industry.   The subsidy bill and then law did not appear as part of a preliminary Gov. Murphy budget, nor was it part of the final budget passed in mid-2019. So if conditions improve by next spring, it’s possible the subsidy plan could be revived.   The current law sends the $10 million to the harness racing, or standardbred, side in differing increments.   The Meadowlands purses claim $6 million, another $1.6 million goes to Freehold purses, and there is also $1.2 million to New Jersey Sire Stakes purses and $600,000 each to purse bonuses for New Jersey-sired horses and for breeders award purses. Freehold resumes its harness racing schedule this weekend, after having been off since early March — about half of which was previously scheduled as dormant anyway. The track will now feature races — so far, with limited attendance — until the end of the year. The Meadowlands schedule peaked with The Hambletonian card on Aug. 8, with a three-week break ending on Sept. 5, which also happens to the the amended date for the Kentucky Derby. That track also will continue on weekends for the rest of 2020. Monmouth Park is continuing to offer races on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until its season concludes on Sept. 27. Horsemen to get paid in spite of drug lab’s tardiness The state Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association was given the green light Monday to guarantee $7 million in purse money earned at Monmouth Park races this summer, but which has been delayed by a state-approved laboratory’s failure to return drug testing results for horses that raced as long as six weeks ago. The same lab had similar issues last summer, creating uncertainty in the minds of bettors over which horses were clean. By John Brennan Reprinted with permission of NJ Online Gambling

East Rutherford, NJ - On Saturday, September 5th (Kenucky Derby Simulcast Day) as an added convenience for our harness racing wagering public due to reduced racetrack capacity, the Meadowlands Racetrack will offer a walk-up Teller window in Lot M off of Berry's Creek Road. Tellers will be available for wagering from 10 am through 7:00 pm. Limited hours will also be available on Friday, September 4th. Programs will be available for sale along with past performances for the Kentucky Derby. For Derby Day details including dining options visit PlayMeadowlands.com Meadowlands Media Relations

Hightstown, NJ — The moments following Ramona Hill’s win in the Hambletonian Stakes were unlike any Andy McCarthy ever experienced as a driver. “The feeling I got when I crossed the wire, I’ve never had that before, that amount of joy and emotion,” McCarthy said. “I don’t want to compare it to my kids being born, because that’s a completely different thing, but it was definitely emotional. Heading back to the winner’s circle, I’ve never felt anything like it in my life on the racetrack. Embracing the moment, just the feeling of joy, it’s unbelievable.” McCarthy and Ramona Hill captured the 95th edition of the Hambletonian this past Saturday at The Meadowlands. The duo won the $1 million event by one length over Ready For Moni in a stakes-record-equaling 1:50.1 for trainer Tony Alagna and owners Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc, and In The Gym Partners. Ramona Hill, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy bred by Crawford Farms, became the 15th filly to win harness racing’s top race for 3-year-old trotters. The Hambletonian was McCarthy’s fifth win of the day on the stakes-filled Big M card. He won four of the afternoon’s first six races, including the Shady Daisy with Reflect With Me and the Jim Doherty Memorial with Darlene Hanover, and the fast start was beneficial. “It’s good to get some good vibes going for the day,” McCarthy said. “Confidence has such a main role in how you drive, I think. When the ball’s rolling and things are going good, you feel like you can do nothing wrong. For me, anyway, confidence is definitely a major player in how I do.” McCarthy’s biggest challenge was finding a way to enjoy the wins without getting too pumped up along the way. “You want to celebrate, and you want to feel that emotion, but you also don’t want to carry that over to the next drive,” he said. “You want to stay focused and you’ve still got work to do. I like to be confident but calm at the same time. I don’t want to be carrying too much emotion with me, just really stay focused on the job at hand. There are a million things that can go wrong in a race and you have to be super focused and aware of these things.” A native of Australia, the 34-year-old McCarthy has raced regularly in North America since 2007. He has seen his purse earnings increase annually since the start of 2013, reaching a career-best $7.67 million last year, when he ranked ninth among drivers in North America. In 2019, McCarthy became the eighth driver in history to win at least four Breeders Crown finals in a year. He became the first to accomplish the feat without driving a favorite. Last year, he also made his first appearance in a Hambletonian final, finishing seventh with Pilot Discretion. This year with Ramona Hill, he was fourth after a quarter mile, moved to the front on the backstretch, and cruised to victory. Her time equaled the stakes mark set by her sire Muscle Hill in 2009. “In my mind, I had the best horse in the race,” McCarthy said. “I just wanted to be safe through the first turn. Once I got through the first turn, I thought I could win the race however it went down.” McCarthy followed the Hambletonian while growing up in Australia but became more focused on the race after arriving in the U.S. to compete. He is the 28th different driver to win the Hambletonian in the 40 years it has called The Meadowlands home. “When I was a teenager, I started following the American racing more,” McCarthy said. “Back then, it was kind of pre-social media days, so it was kind of hard to keep up with it. I always liked American racing and I loved the Hambo. As far as thinking I could win it one day, that was a different story. “Once I got over here and went to the Hambo every year and watched it, it’s become the race. It’s the race you want to win, for sure. I’m just very lucky and privileged to be able to do that.” by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Harness racing driver Yannick Gingras came from "off the pace" to best Dexter Dunn in the hotly contested battle for top driver at the Meadowlands meeting that came down to Saturday's Hambletonian Day card. By winning three races Friday and four more Saturday, Gingras overcame Dunn's 82-79 lead in the standings entering the final weekend of racing. After Dunn won the final race of the meet - with 19-1 shot Starvin Marvin - he stood one behind Gingras, who won the title by a count of 86 to 85. Gingras and Dunn also finished 1-2 in money earnings. Ron Burke, the winner of 12 consecutive national trainer titles, topped the Big M trainer colony in wins with 50. Nancy Takter was the leading money-earning trainer. She had just over $1 million in earnings heading into Hambo Day. Leading owners at the meeting were Pollack Racing LLC and Jeffrey Cullipher. HANDLE HIGHLIGHTS: All-source North American wagering on the 16-race Hambo Day card totaled $5,730,615, by far the highest total in the industry in 2020. It marked the second time during the 41-program meeting where wagering topped the $5-million plateau. On 33 occasions, wagering went past the $2.5-million mark, while the $3-million barrier was busted 10 times. Wagering on the Hambletonian was red hot, as a total of $845,469 was pushed through the windows on the 11th race Saturday, an increase of $322,305 over last year (61 percent). Wagering totals from international outlets will not be known for several days. A LITTLE MORE: Andy McCarthy not only won his first Hambletonian, but was the top driver on Hambo Day, winning five times. ... Tony Alagna trained three to victory lane, all were driven by McCarthy. ... Live racing at The Meadowlands resumes on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 7:15 p.m., and with the exception of Christmas Day, will be conducted on the normal Friday-Saturday schedule through the end of the year. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Shartin N made it three in a row in the Lady Liberty for harness racing pacing mares, winning Saturday's (Aug. 8) $177,100 edition by one length over Major Occasion A in 1:48.2 at The Meadowlands. Stonebridge Soul finished third.   Major Occasion A led the field to the opening quarter in :26.2, but driver Tim Tetrick already had Shartin N in gear and on her way to the front. Shartin N took the lead and reached the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:22. She fought off a challenge from Warrawee Ubeaut on the final turn and went on to her fourth win in five starts this season and the 45th of her career.       "You just get to a point with 45 wins that you go out and you think you're going to win again, but it just doesn't always happen," co-owner Jo Ann Looney-King said. "It's just a thrill every single time. She's just a thrill."   Shartin N, the 2019 Horse of the Year, has won $2.33 million lifetime and 38 of 48 starts since arriving from New Zealand. She is owned by Richard Poillucci, Looney-King, and Tim Tetrick LLC. The 7-year-old mare is a daughter of Tintin In America out of Bagdarin.   "If it wasn't for Rich Poillucci, I would not be standing here and she would not be out there today," Looney-King said. "He picked her out, he bought her and brought her here; it's all Rich Poillucci."   Shartin N paid $2.80 to win.   by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Prohibitive favorite Tall Dark Stranger and driver Yannick Gingras commanded sophomore pacers to win the $273,125 Cane Pace on Saturday (Aug. 8) at The Meadowlands. The time for the mile, 1:47.1, is a harness racing stakes record and personal best for the son of Bettor's Delight and Precocious Beauty. The Cane Pace is the first jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown.   Captain Kirk and Manticore went to the front off the gate, with Moneyman Hill and Put To Right following, as Tall Dark Stranger settled into fifth through a :26.2 first quarter.   Manticore got the lead for a few steps before Captain Kirk retook the top. Tall Dark Stranger then made his move, going first- over to take the lead through a :53.1 half.   Once leading, Tall Dark Stranger began to dominate, cutting three-quarters in 1:21 with Captain Kirk fully extended to keep the place spot while Capt Midnight led the outer tier, closing fast into the stretch and passing Captain Kirk.   Gingras glanced behind his charge once and drew away to a definitive 3-1/4-length victory. Capt Midnight took the second spot with Captain Kirk finishing third.       It was Tall Dark Stranger's fourth win in five starts this season for trainer Nancy Takter.   "He was better today; we added Lasix to him," Takter said. "He bled a little bit last week (in the Geers Stakes). He had a little bit of a tough race, he got all windy. It's just one of those things ... You can't get all worked up about it, you just gotta fix the problems."   Tall Dark Stranger certainly redeemed himself after his fourth-place finish in the Geers Stakes on Aug. 1, having plenty in reserve at the end of his stakes record mile in the Cane.   "Yannick (Gingras) said if he would've known it was that close, he would've let him go a little bit in the third quarter, but he raced super and we're just thrilled with him," Takter concluded.   Tall Dark Stranger, who also won the Meadowlands Pace, is owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor.     by Frank Cotolo, for the Hambletonian Society  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The sensational filly Ramona Hill took a well-deserved gulp from the Hambletonian trophy after beating the boys on Saturday (Aug. 8) in the $1 million harness racing trotting classic at the Meadowlands Racetrack.   It was the latest chapter in the developing saga of harness racing's newest superstar.   The victory, the 15th by a filly in the race's illustrious history, was hardly a surprise. She was the 2-5 favorite following the previous week's jaw-dropping win from an impossible spot, kicking home with a :25.4 final quarter in the Hambletonian eliminations.   She was just as good in the final. Andy McCarthy turned Ramona Hill loose down the backside and she easily surged past Threefiftytwo to take command for good.   "When I came out early there, I sensed I could find the front," McCarthy said. "I went for it, and she knows her job."   As Ramona Hill made the lead, main rivals Ready For Moni -- the other elimination winner -- and Back Of The Neck took up the chase.   Through the lane, Ramona Hill remained solidly in command, beating Ready For Moni by a length with Back Of The Neck third.       "She was starting to work a little bit towards the wire, but she finished it off," McCarthy said.   The time for the mile only confirmed what observers already knew: Ramona Hill is the real deal. The 1:50.1 clocking equaled the stakes mark set by her sire Muscle Hill in 2009.   It was a muted winner's circle celebration with access limited and everyone masked to ward off the coronavirus.   John Campbell, president of the Hambletonian Society, summed up the day and the performance eloquently.   "What a great performance by a tremendous filly," Campbell said. "Throughout history, society has dealt with crises and troubles, but great horses and great horse racing have found a way to bring people together to forget about what's going on in their everyday lives. I think that's what's happened here today."   It was the first Hambletonian victory for McCarthy and trainer Tony Alagna, who took a very patient approach with his talented filly. The race was only her fourth of the year and 11th of her career.   "People talked earlier about how COVID affected this filly's schedule," Alagna said. "Honestly, this was our schedule from the beginning, with or without COVID. She's very much like a Thoroughbred. She doesn't need the starts to be at her best."   Of course, the Hambletonian Oaks for fillies earlier in the day was a possible target. But after Ramona Hill cruised to a convincing win in the Del Miller on July 18, Alagna set his sights on the bigger goal.   "We always had it (the Hambletonian) in the back of our minds, but nobody wanted to be the first one to say it," Alagna said. "After the Del Miller, it became a reality."   It had already been a great afternoon for McCarthy with four victories. Number five, the Hambletonian, will be the one he'll always remember.   "It was a very good start to the day and I was trying to keep my cool, and I was trying to let it sink in too much because I still had a lot of work to do," McCarthy said.   The driver and the filly completed the mission in style.   "The adrenalin you get from winning a race like this, words can't explain it," the Australian reinsman said. "It's an amazing event and a privilege to be involved."   With the victory, Ramona Hill improved her record to 9-0-2 in 11 starts for Bradley Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc and In The Gym Partners. The 2019 Breeders Crown and Dan Patch Award winner is the second filly to capture the Hambletonian in the last three renewals, joining Atlanta (2018).     by Mike Farrell, for the Hambletonian Society

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Gimpanzee ($3.20) kept his undefeated 4-year-old harness racing season intact with a stunning 1:50 score in the $291,350 John Cashman Memorial Trot on Saturday (Aug. 8) at The Meadowlands, cascading off third-over cover to strike the front in the final yards.   Brian Sears patiently kept Gimpanzee off the pace in the early stages while double millionaire mare Atlanta brushed clear of Guardian Angel As beyond a :26.3 first quarter. Atlanta maintained a quick tempo through a :54.1 half and braced for a stern challenge from Lindy The Great on the far turn, while Gimpanzee slipstreamed live cover from third-over.   Off the home corner, Lindy The Great began to wear on Atlanta, and Sears fanned Gimpanzee four-wide upon straightening for home -- but he didn't accelerate at first asking. As Lindy The Great gathered Atlanta in with 150 yards to go, Gimpanzee found his best stride and stormed home to win by the better part of a widening length in the final strides in a career best 1:50. Lindy The Great finished second, and Soul Strong emerged out of traffic to finish third.       Marcus Melander trains 22-time winner and double millionaire Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven, for Courant Inc. and the SRF Stable.   by James Witherite, for the Hambletonian Society    

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Trainer Nancy Takter continued something of a family tradition Saturday (Aug. 8), winning the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old harness racing trotting fillies with Sorella at The Meadowlands.   Takter, whose father Jimmy won a record eight editions of the Oaks, became the first female trainer to ever win the race, which began in 1971.   Sorella and driver Yannick Gingras rolled to the front in the first turn and cruised to victory by 1-3/4 lengths over Hypnotic AM in 1:51. Panem, also trained by Takter, finished third. Hypnotic AM and Panem both started from the second tier, with Hypnotic AM in post 12 and Panem in post 11.   It is the sixth time in seven years the Oaks was won by a Takter and Gingras, who extended his record for wins by a driver to six.       “It certainly doesn’t get old,” Gingras said. “With any of these big races, you win them once and you want to win them again. I think it’s a pretty good accomplishment to have six of them. Definitely I’m proud of it.”   Gingras and Sorella started from post seven and saw Whose Blues leave for the front from post six. Whose Blues settled in the top spot, but only briefly, as Gingras pushed forward to claim the lead in a :26.1 opening quarter. From there, Sorella hit the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.3.   “I thought there were three horses in the race that really stood out and the other two had posts 11 and 12,” Gingras said. “When I left the gate, I saw they were going to get away somewhere in mid-pack. They weren’t going to get away too close, so I was taking no prisoners from there. I figured she was the one to beat at that point and took no chances.”   Said Takter, “I thought my horses both raced super. I wish Panem would have gotten up a little bit more, but they were both really good. It kind of worked out the way I expected, so that’s good when things go that way.”   She added that Sorella’s next start would most likely come in the Zweig Memorial on Aug. 21 at Vernon Downs.   Sorella, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Kadealia, has won four of five races this year and six of 14 lifetime with earnings of $503,376. She is owned by breeder Elmer Fannin, Crawford Farms Racing and Brent Fannin. Elmer Fannin named the filly after a bottle of wine.   “We’re very excited about Sorella,” said Brent Fannin, Elmer’s son. “We knew one day (Kadealia) was going to throw a good one, and we just kept being patient and bred her to one of the better sires we could. And along comes Sorella and we’re real excited. We lost her mom earlier this year, who was in foal to Father Patrick, and hopefully Sorella can carry the torch from here.”   by Ken Weingartner with Derwick Giwner

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Zenith Stride stayed on gait as two favorites broke stride, allowing driver Brian Sears to steer the Muscle Hill colt easily down the middle of the track for an 87-1 upset in the $339,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings Saturday afternoon (Aug. 8) at The Meadowlands.   Favorite Plumville Prince never got started, breaking as the gate swung open and allowing Moonstone S to leave for the early lead over Venerate. As the first quarter ticked in :28, Type A took over the lead from Moonstone S, while Venerate followed the pair to the half in :57.   Moonstone S came out of the pocket and reclaimed the lead as Type A began to gallop, letting Venerate inherit the catbird seat. Moonstone cut three-quarters in 1:25.3 as Venerate began a hard chase. Sitting with cover all the way and with plenty of trot left, 85-1 shot Zenith Stride circled the front pair and flew past the top two with no urging to cross the finish line in 1:55.1. Moonstone S dismissed a late charge from Venerate to finish second.       "I liked this colt the first time I sat behind him," said Sears. "He had a few issues, made a few breaks, but I never lost confidence in him. I knew one he matured a bit, he'd come around and be the horse we thought he was."   Mark Harder trains Zenith Stride, who won her first race in four starts for owners Emilio and Maria Rosati. Sears recorded his fourth Peter Haughton Memorial win.   Zenith Stride paid $177.00 to win.   by Frank Cotolo, for the Hambletonian Society

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