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ANDERSON, Ind.-June 11, 2014 - Sam Widger notched the 5,000th win of his career after he piloted Brooklyn's Z Tam to victory in a condition pace at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Wednesday, June 11. The 1:56.2 victory marked a lifetime best performance for the four-year-old daughter of Electric Yankee-Slick Fit and a career milestone for the 50-year-old reinsman. Trained by Mike Murphy, Brooklyn's Z Tam was able to take advantage of a perfect second-over trip to record the first win of her 4-year-old campaign. Owned by Connie Blakeman, Brooklyn's Z Tam now sports a career bankroll of $24,870. Hoosier Park's Vice President and General Manager, Rick Moore, along with Widger's friends and fellow drivers were in the winner's circle to congratulate and acknowledge his accomplishment. "On behalf of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, I'd like to congratulate Sam on win number 5,000," Moore noted. "Through his professionalism and attitude, Sam is a great ambassador for our sport. We wish Sam continued success for the remainder of this season and throughout his career. We look forward to watching him win many more races at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino." Now in his 28th season as a driver, Widger completed his ninth season with purse earnings surpassing the $2.5 million mark in 2013. The veteran reinsman has gone over the $3 million mark in purse earnings four times in the last eight years and has finished among the top ten drivers at Hoosier Park every season he has competed. Widger also received a spot in the Hoosier Park history books when he guided Bolt The Duer to victory in the 2013 installment of Hoosier Park's most prestigious race, the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational. Widger, who has a farm in Beecher, IL that he shares with his wife, Nancy, and his five children, loves to hunt, fish and also enjoys helping out on the family farm in his spare time. Widger remains humble when considering his career and accredits much of his success to hard work, determination and perseverance. "God willing, trainers willing, and owners willing, we'll just keep on going," Widger said after his win. "I count my blessings every day, not only with the harness racing, but with family as well. I'm as rich as anybody could be when it comes to family." Widger is currently third on the 2014 leading driver standings at Hoosier Park with 65 trips to the winner's circle and over $640,000 in purse earnings. Trace Tetrick leads all drivers with 97 victories while Tyler Smith is just behind him in second with 92 wins. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Thursday, June 12 with a 14-race card highlighted by the $17,500 Fillies and Mares Preferred trot. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., live racing will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule through November 15. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

JK Endofanera solidified his spot atop the Road to The Meadowlands Pace, with another impressive win, this time in the Somebeachsomewhere at Mohawk. He has been perfect so far this harness racing season and the top spot is now his to lose. He headlines one of three North America Cup Eliminations Saturday at Mohawk. Meanwhile, He's Watching made a statement that his performance at Yonkers was nothing more than a aberration as he dominated his Somebeachsomewhere division at Mohawk as well. He moved right back toward the top of the leader board, now listed at No. 2 on this week's Road to the Pace. The biggest mover in the top-10 was Always B Miki, who appears to be getting better and better. He was a solid winner at Mohawk as well Saturday and moved up five spots from No. 9 to No. 4. Doo Wop Hanover makes his first appearance in the top-10 at No. 9 following his New Jersey Sire Stakes win over No. 3 ranked Western Vintage. Somestarsomewhere dropped to the bottom of the top-10 following a disappointing effort at Mohawk and now has to hold off the red-hot Lyonssomewhere who has looked like a serious contender in his last two wins at The Meadowlands and has moved up to No. 11. That's My Opinion has fallen out of the top-10 after making a break in the Somebeachsomewhere. He will skip The North America Cup this week and point to The Meadowlands Pace. The week 9 edition of the Road to the Meadowlands Pace can be found here. Darin Zoccali    

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, May 31, 2014 - If harness racing driver Tim Tetrick doesn't own the Lismore, he's working on a lease-to-buy arrangement. Tetrick won one Yonkers Raceway's premier events for 3-year-old pacing fillies a fourth time, this latest a Saturday night stakes record behind odds-on choice Tyra ($3.50). Away alertly from post position No. 4, Tyra was relegated to a four-hole seat as Southwind Silence (George Brennan)-an elim winner a week ago, as was Tyra-drove on. Southwind Silence worked around pole-sitting Also Encouraging (Matt Kakaley) before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. A soft :28.4 next station (:56 half) figured to play into the hands of the leader, but Tyra obviously didn't get the memo. She rolled up and over Southwind Silence right after a 1:24.3 three-quarters, taking a 2½-length lead into lane. From there, she ran up the score, widening to seven length at the wire in 1:52.1. Southwind Silence a safe second, with Also Encouraging third, Palm Beach (Eric Carlson) fifth-placed-fourth and Gentlemen's Delight (Marcus Johansson) fourth-place-fifth (Euro-rail violation). It Was Fascination (Brent Holland), Rusty's Bliss (Jason Bartlett) and Bettor Business (Dan Dube) rounded out the order. For Tyra, a daughter of McArdle owned by CC Racing and trained by Joann Looney-King, it was her second win in four'14 tries. The exacta paid $6.30, with the triple (three wagering choices in order) returning $15.40. "This filly is special to me because my older brother, Tom, broke her," Tetrick said. "Ideally, I wanted get away second, but that didn't work out, but she was comfortable where she was. "She gave me a big turn of foot when I asked her and paced a real good back half." The Tetrick-driven Southwind Tempo (2007) had the old stakes record (1:52.4). Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, May 31, 2014-Odds-on favorite All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley, $2.60) was both anxious and effective Saturday night, winning the $300,000 final of Yonkers Raceway's Art Rooney Pace for 3-year-old colts and geldings. In play from post position No. 4 as the 3-10 favorite, All Bets Off made the first lead in the 24th Rooney. He then handed the baton to second choice Stevensville (Tim Tetrick) right around a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. The song remained the same at the 55.1 intermission and early in the backstretch the second time. That's when Maxi Bon (Dan Dube) moved from fourth, and he was in a hurry. He disposed of a no-fight Stevensville just after a 1:23.3 three-quarters. Good thing for All Bets Off that nothing was moving behind "Maxi," as he was able to extricate himself. All Bets off collared the new leader early in the lane, then held off a rallying Some Playa (George Brennan) by a length-and-a-half in 1:52.2. Maxi Bon held third, with Unlocked (Brent Holland) closing from last to grab fourth. Bondi Hanover (Jason Bartlett) earned the final pay envelope, with Gold Rocks (Eric Goodell), a tiring Stevensville and Ideal Fashion (Jordan Stratton) rounding out the order. For All Bets Off, a statebred son of Bettor's Delight co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stables and Rosemary Shelswell, he's now 3-for-4 this season (earnings of $180,250). The exacta paid $15.80, with no triple returning $44.20. "Oh, yeah, I was worried," Kakaley said. "I thought giving up the lead (to Stevensville) was the right thing to do."Then I saw Danny's (Dube, with Max Bon) coming fast and I knew I was in trouble. I was lucky to get out. If I don't, I'm shuffled out, and probably last "He's (All Bets Off) handy enough for the half-mile , but I think he can carry his speed to bigger tracks, too," Kakaley said. "Every start, (All Bets Off) has been on his toes. Give Ronnie (Burke) and his crew an A-plus. I'm just fortunate to have the drive." In the $124,744 Lismore Final for three-year-old pacing fillies, Tyra showed her heels to the field for driver Tim Tetrick, grinding the lead away from Southwind Silence (George Brennan) by the three-quarters and then pulling away from the field to win by seven open lengths in 1:52.1. Southwind Silence was second with Also Encouraging (Matt Kakaley) third. It was the second win in four starts this year for Tyra. the daughter of McArdle is trained by Joann Looney-King and is owned by the CC Racing, Inc. of Mokena, ILL. She paid 43.50 to win as the betting favorite. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

ANDERSON, Ind.-May 29, 2014 -  Rose Run Parker turned in a gritty performance to find the winner's circle Thursday night at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in the opening round of the $20,000 Indiana Sires Stakes action for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings, and extended his win streak to seven in the process. Reaching the wire in 1:54.1, Ron Burke's Rose Run Parker established a new lifetime mark and remains undefeated in his sophomore season. After setting the track record at Hoosier Park for two-year-old trotting geldings with a 1:57 effort in stakes action last year, Rose Run Parker's 1:54.1 effort equaled the track record for three-year-old trotting geldings in just his second start of the season. Gloire Dream, driven by Lewayne Miller, showed early speed off the gate from post seven in the field of ten, clocking a :27.3 opening panel. Unable to find a spot along the rail from post nine, Rose Run Parker pressed on to the front but would yield the lead to the slight betting favorite, Sandy Z Tam and Tyler Smith at the half in :57.4. Sandy Z Tam led the field to the third station in 1:27 and the stage was set for another Hoosier Park stretch battle. Tipping from the pocket around the final turn, Rose Run Parker was able to reach the leader's wheel and the top two began to put their talent on display as they trotted away from the rest of the field. Sandy Z Tam was game on the inside but Rose Run Parker wasn't finished. Using a :26.4 final quarter, Rose Run Parker was able to put a nose in front of Sandy Z Tam to score his seventh consecutive win. Back N The Slammer and Trace Tetrick finished seven lengths behind the top pair to round out the trifecta. As the publics' second choice, Rose Run Parker returned $5.00 to his backers at the window. "I think he is the best young horse we've had since Go On BB," Ron Burke's assistant trainer, Jamie Rucker noted. "He typically likes to chase horses down, but tonight he showed some serious heart by fighting horses off after a tough trip." "That was a nice group of horses and I wasn't sure what to expect with post nine," she continued. "He has never let us down though, he raced great again tonight." The 11-time career winner has now amassed $247,375 for his connections of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and W. Haas Jr. Rose Run Parker's seven race win streak includes wins in the $200,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for two-year-old trotting colts and the $45,250 Madison County Stakes. With the win, the son of Jailhouse Jesse-Centergy has earned his spot in the first of five $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final slated for June 7 at Hoosier Park. Indiana Sires Stakes action continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, May 30 with four divisions of $20,000 Indiana Sires Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies. The live racing schedule at Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule with a daily post time of 5:15 p.m. Emily Gaskin

Market Dynamics was certainly dynamic in leading gate-to-wire to win the $8,500 featured race Thursday night at Vernon Downs. Market Dynamics was sent immediately to the front by harness racing driver-trainer Rick Plano and was never really threatened through the one-mile pace. She set the fractions of 27.2 for the quarter, 56.1 for the half, and 1:23.4 for three-quarters. The final time for the mile was 1:51.4. Market Dynamics is owned by Mindy Findling Repko of Delray Beach, FL   The prohibitive favorite, Rocks N Bagels, looking to go five for five this season at Vernon Downs, was last up the backstretch and suffered a break at approximately the half-mile mark. She was never a factor after going off-stride and finished fifth and last. Love You Bye sat the pocket trip for the lion's share of the mile, but never really menaced the leader. Artic Byrd made a move on the far turn, but stalled in the stretch after getting alongside Love You Bye. Love You Bye ended up holding on for second place. The complete order of finish for the feature was: Market Dynamics, Love You Bye, Artic Byrd, Elleofnxample, and Rocks N Bagels.   Market Dynamics won as the longest shot on the board in the feature at 9-1, paying $21.80 to win. She was just one of several longshots to reach the Winner's Circle on Thursday night at Vernon Downs. The third race was won by gate-to-wire leader, Mass Appeal at 29-1, paying $61.50 to win. The sixth race was highlighted by MC Tbone Ida coming from off-the-pace to win at odds of 22-1 and paying $47.00 to win. Racing resumes at Vernon Downs with a twelve-race program on Friday night that includes three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies. The horse to watch is Precocious Beauty, who will be making her 2014 season debut, in the seventh race. The Friday program also includes the eliminations for the Empire Breeders' Classic with the Final to be held at Vernon Downs on June 8. Post time for the Friday program is 6:45pm. by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity  

After prevailing in the Levy Consolation at Yonkers in April, Clear Vision has his sights set on a second triumph in the $160,000 Roll With Joe Open Pace, which headlines Sunday (June 1) afternoon's stakes-laden program at Tioga Downs.   Formerly known as the Bettor's Delight, the Roll With Joe was unveiled in 2010 by Tioga Downs and Blue Chip Farms. Clear Vision (post 9) and Matt Kakaley took the 2012 edition in 1:48.2, and they team up again this year as part of a Ron Burke-trained entry. Sweet Lou (post 2) serves as the other half of the entry, coming in off a pair of TVG Free-For-All Series wins at the Meadowlands, most recently sprinting home in 1:48 with Ron Pierce in tow. Pierce remains aboard, and the Burke pair have been installed the 6-5 morning line favorite in this year's Roll With Joe, carded as race 10.   All-Star Racing's Bolt the Duer (post 4, Mark MacDonald) boasts career earnings in excess of $1.7 million, and has been named the 9-2 second choice in the morning line. The five-year-old Ponder entire boasts a 1:47.4 lifetime mark taken in the 2012 Adios at the Meadows, and most recently earned minor placings behind Sweet Lou in two TVG events. Two other millionaires contest the Roll With Joe, with Heston Blue Chip (post 7, Tim Tetrick, part of a Linda Toscano-trained entry) and Warrawee Needy (post 5, David Miller) among the standouts in the ten-horse field.   A trio of $41,300 New York Sire Stakes events for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings share sub-feature status on the 13-race card, with twenty-seven sophomores contesting races 6, 8, and 11.   Winds of Change (American Ideal) prevailed in the Champlain at Mohawk last September, and will make his three-year-old debut in the first division. Tim Tetrick handles the driving duties on Winds of Change for trainer Linda Toscano.   The second division is headlined by Forty Five Red (If I Can Dream), a five-time winner with multiple NYSS wins from last season to his credit. He boasts a 1:51.1 mark at Vernon, and Matt Kakaley gets the driving assignment from trainer Ron Burke.   Twin B Speedo (Art Major) leads the third division, coming in off a 1:55.3 front-end win at Yonkers and having amassed just shy of $100,000 in career earnings. Trainer Mark Ford has named Mark MacDonald to drive the two-time winner.   Post time for the Sunday opener at Tioga is slated for 1:30 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media

The 2013 Dan Patch Award winner in the 2-year-old pacing filly division, Precocious Beauty, makes her 2014 harness racing debut on Friday in a $41,300 division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs. Precocious Beauty races in the first of three divisions and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "I've already got the butterflies, that's for sure," said breeder/owner Jim Avritt Sr. "She came through the winter fine, trained well down in Florida. Qualified well there and at Mohawk, I didn't get down to see her since I have a bunch of broodmares and yearlings [at his Kentucky farm] and just couldn't get away." Avritt said trainer Gregg McNair had no particular goals for the winter. Last season, Precocious Beauty won seven of 11 races, including the She's A Great Lady Stakes, and finished second on three occasions. She equaled the world record of 1:50.1 for a 2-year-old filly pacer on a mile track when she won a division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile. "Just tried to maintain what we had," he said. "She's a filly who will give you whatever she has to give; she just goes what she has to go. The other filly I have [in the sire stakes the same night], Barefoot Beauty, she is also a very talented filly, but she's always wanting to give you everything she's got, and more too. It's hard to rein her back, she qualified and came the last half in :55.4." Avritt will not be able to make the debut, but hopes to catch up with his homebred soon. "I've got another mare to foal out. I might save my air miles for the Fan Hanover (eliminations June 7 at Mohawk Raceway and final on June 14) if we're lucky enough to make the final." Avritt has a yearling filly from broodmare Precious Beauty, a Rock N Roll Heaven-sired half-sister to Precocious Beauty at home in the wings. Precocious Beauty is by Art Major. "We have a half-sister to break next fall - Passionate Beauty," he said. "I'll keep all the fillies out of Precious Beauty from here on." Precocious Beauty's driver for much of last year, Doug McNair, son of trainer Gregg McNair, is optimistic about her form coming into the season. "She wintered pretty good, she was down in Florida all winter," McNair said. "She was a big filly last year, but she filled out a little bit more this year. Size-wise, she looks great. She feels about the same. She qualified a couple times and we schooled her once and she seems like she should be ready to go a pretty good trip here." Blush Hanover is the 2-1 favorite in Precocious Beauty's NYSS division. The Linda Toscano-trained filly has won three of four races this year after being unraced last season. That sire stakes split also includes Delightful Dragon, who was slow to make it to the races last season because of issues with her knees but finished the campaign by winning the Three Diamonds Stakes. "She's come back very sound," trainer Noel Daley said. "She can go right with the top ones, I think. She's a big strong filly. She's got the will and the desire. She didn't have a tough year by any means. A few of the speedy ones last year had a lot of racing; it's always interesting to see what comes back." Sweetnsinful, who finished second in last year's New York Sire Stakes championship and is trained and co-owned by Homer Hochstetler, is the favorite in the second NYSS division. Bill Donovan's Medusa, trained by Paul Kelley, is the favorite in the third division. She was unraced at 2, but has won all five of her starts this year. * * * Some of the top contenders on the road to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes head to The Meadows in western Pennsylvania for three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters on Friday. Leading the way is last season's Dan Patch Award-winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, Father Patrick, who on May 21 won his seasonal debut by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:53.3 in a division of the Historic-Dickerson Cup at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Father Patrick brings a 10-race win streak to The Meadows. "I love this horse," trainer Jimmy Takter said. "He's a serious, serious animal. I think he's the horse I've been waiting for that's really, really, special." Also racing in the sire stakes are Hambletonian hopefuls Amped Up Hanover, Auspicious Hanover, DD's Hitman, Datsyuk, Exodus Hanover, Fashion Tagman, Il Sogno Dream, JJ Alex, Journey, Nuncio, Outburst, Sarcastic Man and Uva Hanover. For more about Friday's PASS for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadows, check out Evan Pattak's story. * * * At New York's Vernon Downs on Friday night, Hambletonian eligible trotters Lukas Hall and Expressive Action are the favorites in their respective eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic. Lukas Hall, the 7-5 choice in the first elim, has made three starts this year and finished second twice. He was second to Flyhawk El Durado in a division of the New York Sire Stakes and second to Trixton in the Simpson Memorial. He is driven by Jim Morrill Jr. and trained by Kevin McDermott. Expressive Action, who is 9-5 in the second elim, is 1-for-1 this season for trainer John Grasso and driver Mike Simons. He opened his campaign by winning a division of the New York Sire Stakes. Other Hambletonian hopefuls in the Empire Breeders Classic eliminations are Karets, Mister B's Way, and Rocky De Vie. * * * The top three horses in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll - Sebastian K, Perfect Alliance, and Somwherovrarainbow - are idle this weekend, but four of the older male pacers in the Top 10 are in action. Three of the group - No. 4 Foiled Again, No. 6 Dancin Yankee, and No. 8 P H Supercam - are in Friday's Molson Pace at Western Fair. Seventh-ranked Sweet Lou is in Sunday's Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs. Also in action from the Top 10 is Trixton, who is in Saturday's New Jersey Sire Stakes final for 3-year-old male trotters. Trixton is Hambletonian eligible. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 2 – 5/27/2014                                                Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (30) 8th 2-2-0-0 $107,500 345 1 2 Perfect Alliance (4) 4tm 10-10-0-0 $106,650 238 2 3 Somwherovrarainbow (1) 4pm 8-6-1-1 $279,250 226 4 4 Foiled Again 10pg 7-4-1-1 $180,540 158 3 5 Market Share 5th 3-2-0-0 $145,000 154 -- 6 Dancin Yankee 6ph 14-8-3-1 $193,100 121 5 7 Sweet Lou 5ph 5-2-1-1 $68,500 92 -- 8 P H Supercam 7pg 14-4-3-6 $397,620 89 6 9 Trixton 3tc 3-2-1-0 $40,896 77 7 10 Modern Family 5th 11-5-5-1 $141,150 71 8 Also: Apprentice Hanover (56), Father Patrick, Maven, Shake It Cerry (46), Bee A Magician (29), JK Endofanera (17), Yagonnakissmeornot (15), Wake Up Peter (11), Shebestingin (9), Sumatra (8), Classic Martine, DW’s NY Yank, Sevruga (6), Bandolito, Easy Again, Nitro Nittany, Western Vintage (5), Nuncio, State Treasurer (4), Dovuto Hanover, Let’s Drink On It, Mach It So (3), Anndrovette, Bettor’s Edge, Clear Vision, Rompaway Galaxy, Sam Hill, Tellitlikeitis, Uncle Peter (2), I Like My Boss, Seventh Secret (1). Compilied by Ken Weingartner for Harness Racing Communications

Nick Surick, the leading harness racing trainer at Freehold Raceway, did not have a racing background when he became a horseman. All Nick knew was he wanted to be a part of harness racing industry any way possible. As of the 22nd of May, Nick leads as the top trainer at Freehold Raceway with 26 wins out of 118 starts resulting in $86,000 in total purse winnings for 2014. "I have no horse racing background whatsoever" says Nick. "I actually grew up in Freehold, NJ and I lived about five minutes away from Freehold Raceway which was a ten minute bike ride. I used ride my bike to the track to watch the races as a kid." Nick credits his mom, Debbie, for always supporting him. "Through the bad times she helped me, good or bad she always stood behind me. She always wanted me to be happy" says Nick. His parents divorced right around the time Nick was getting into the harness racing industry and it must have been difficult for him, for anyone in that position. What originally drew Nick to the track was the gambling component. Nick's father, Kevin, helped introduce Nick to this unhealthy lifestyle due to the fact that Nick's father had substance abuse issues and was a known gambler. "I was a gambler; I was actually thrown out of a lot of tracks for underage gambling. My father was an alcoholic and a degenerate gambler." Nick admits. "I was more hooked that way more than anything. Aside from the gambling back then, I think the horse itself intrigued me and I liked the animal so much that it was good for me. " "I really wasn't the best student when it came to school." Nick explains, "I really couldn't care less about school. I dropped out of my second year in college so I could train full time when I got the opportunity from one of my big owners, Howard Schneidler. It all came together at the right time. "Once I learned the backside to horse racing, that's when I lost the itch for gambling. It was about growing up, maturing and getting smarter." Nick says. "Now that I was physically with the horse, gambling was not an issue anymore." The fact Nick was able to break away and cut the cord, so to speak, speaks volumes. Once Nick established himself as a horseman, it came to the point where Nick's father was constantly causing Nick problems at the Raceway and in life as a whole. "He caused me a lot of headaches at the track" Nick says about his father. "With me training horses, it wasn't good for him. He started making things up, telling people to bet horses (based) on what I said which are things I never said. If I talk to him a couple times a year, that's a lot. He was hurting my livelihood. "I had to take a step back, even though he's my dad I had to cut him out." Nick admits. "I had to think about my future and hopefully I have a lot of years ahead of me. "Drug and alcohol abuse made him a person he wasn't." Nick continues, "He was nasty to people... when you're under the influence you become a different person." The best piece of advice Nick ever received was from Richard Annunziata and it was about Nick ensuring he surrounds himself with good people. "He told me this when I was 16 and I am 26 now but I still remember it" says Nick. "Surround yourself with successful people; surround yourself with people that are better than you.... If you surround yourself with bad apples, that's who you're going to be. "That's what I did" says Nick. "I cut out all of the bad people from my life. The people who were bringing me down." Once Nick graduated from high school, he admits he changed lives. Nick did a 180 degree turn to better his life and to develop into a better person. Was it easy? That's tough to say as everyone deals with changes in their own manner but knowing that change is needed and working towards that is a task in itself. What Nick did is commendable, not many people can switch 'tracks' in life and to do so at a young and impressionable age is astounding. When Nick got started, he first worked for fellow trainer Eric Abbatiello. "I never had anyone behind me to push me, I did it all on my own." After working with Eric Abbatiello, Nick and his (now former) partner Anna Glide joined forces. "We worked together for four or five years and the business grew together between us" Nick explains. "We went from two horses to thirty five horses almost overnight. "When it comes to owners, I am happy with who I have," Nick says. Once Nick finds people he is comfortable with and who he believes has a good heart, Nick is content and doesn't go looking for more. It's about quality, not quantity for Nick. "I've learned a lot from Erv Miller... like who to accept in your barn." Nick states. "My girlfriend Hannah is his daughter." Working with Erv, Nick says "I've learned to individualize each horse. Treating each horse as their own... treat each horse as a separate entity." "Anytime I need any advice, I can pick up the phone and call Erv," says Nick. "He has one of the best managed barns I've ever seen. His memory is unbelievable!" Nick is open when he admits he doesn't like change, right now he's very happy residing near Freehold Raceway and all the major tracks are within driving distance. "Right now I take it one day at a time" says Nick when asked about what the future may hold for him. "I'm comfortable with my 30 to 40 horse barn." When it comes to Pacers or Trotters, hands down Nick prefers the Pacers. "I just haven't had any luck with the Trotters" laughs Nick. Nick pulls double duty at Freehold Raceway where he drives as well. Nick only plans on driving at Freehold Raceway and admits it's a lot of fun. Nick considers driving more of a hobby compared to training which is his passion. Nick believes the harness racing industry is headed in the proper direction by pushing to have the major races showcased on National TV. "We need a lot more one on one interaction with the drivers, trainers and the public." Nick says. Nick credits the success of his barn to his employees, the second trainers, the grooms and most importantly his owners. "I'm nothing without them and their financial backing" Nick states. "I've got great people behind me; I've got to give them credit. Nick Surick can't take care of 35- 40 horses, it takes a team. There's no magic, its teamwork." Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin or Twitter: ScSupernova        

Harness racing longshot players could not have been happier than they were in the 12th race at Northfield Park on Thursday (May 22), when (1) Attackatooforu received a perfect trip and closed up the passing lane to win at odds of 57-1. David Lake drove the pacer for owner/trainer, Jim Kiesel, of Litchfield, Ohio. It was the first win this year in four starts and represents Attackatooforu's ninth lifetime score. (1) Attackatooforu (57-1) was followed across the wire by (4) Southern Susie (7-1) and (6) Minor Wisdom (1-1). Attackatooforu returned $116.80 to win; the 1-4 Exacta paid $1,029.60; and the 1-4-6 Trifecta returned $4,715.20. Earlier on the night, Sweetheart Dance paced to her third consecutive victory, capturing the $11,000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace in the fifth race. She is trained by Kent Sherman for Pittsburgh, PA owner Keith Pippi. Northfield Park leading driver, Josh Sutton, was aboard for the winning drive. Sweetheart Dance (Yankee Cruiser-Somekindasweetiepie-Life Sign) started from post seven. She left hard at the start and was hung three wide through the opening :27.2 quarter. She made the lead in the second turn and never looked back. She continued to post impressive fractions of :56.1, 1:24.3 and 1:53.4. The mile clocking bested her competition by 1 ¼-lengths. Completing the race were Power Everywhere, Eradikate, Ashtoreth Hanover, Deliciouslynaughty, Bubbler and Tame The Dame. Thursday's win was the fourth victory this year and 16th career score for Sweetheart Dance. It bolstered her lifetime earnings to $184,741. She was heavily favored and returned $2.80 to win. Ayers Ratliff

Trainer Joe Holloway's top two female pacers will be in action Sunday in Pennsylvania, but at different tracks. Shebestingin is the 3-1 morning line favorite in the $250,000 Betsy Ross Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon and Somwherovrarainbow is the 5-2 choice in the $25,000 Mares Preferred at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Sunday night. Holloway would have preferred to see both 4-year-old mares in the Betsy Ross, but was limited to one starter. Shebestingin and driver John Campbell will start from post eight in the eight-horse Betsy Ross field. The remainder of the field, in post order, is Drop The Ball, Rocklamation, Jerseylicious, Monkey On My Wheel, Anndrovette, JK Letitgo, and Yagonnakissmeornot. "I have the eight hole, but I don't know what would be a good post position with the way the race might unfold," Holloway said. "John will work out a trip. To me, I know she's the best in the race. As long as we get a trip we'll be fine." Shebestingin has won 17 of 25 career races and $724,102. This year, she has won twice in three starts, including a track-record 1:50.4 triumph in the Chip Noble Memorial at Miami Valley Raceway on May 4. Last week, she finished second to Jerseylicious in the fillies and mares free-for-all handicap at the Meadowlands. The winning time was 1:50.1 over a sloppy track. "She's the kind of horse that needs to train a bit more, needs to get a little tight," said Holloway, who trains Shebestingin for Val D'Or Farms, Ted Gewertz, and L&L DeVisser. "She's finally getting there. She didn't race as well last week but it was teeming down rain. She is a bit of a diva, she has her quirks, and she didn't really like the heavy rain at the time. She was pacing along just fine. There was nothing really wrong." Somwherovrarainbow, who has won five of seven races this year and earned $266,750 for owners Ted Gewertz and Diamond Creek Racing, will start from post seven in a seven-horse field at Pocono Downs. Tim Tetrick will drive. The remainder of the field, in post order, is American In Paris, Scandalous Hanover, Continual Velocity, Krispy Apple, Show Runner, and Feeling You. Somwherovrarainbow is coming off a win in the fillies and mares free-for-all handicap at the Meadowlands on May 9. Both of Holloway's mares are scheduled to head to the Roses Are Red Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack following Sunday's action. The Roses Are Red eliminations are June 7 and the final is June 14. "I think I have two of the best fillies in the country and only one of them will get to race (in the Betsy Ross)," Holloway said. "I wanted to find a start for (Somwherovrarainbow) between now and next Friday because we can't go a month without racing before the Roses Are Red." .................................................. Two $40,000 eliminations for the Art Rooney Pace for 3-year-old pacers are on Saturday's card at Yonkers Raceway, with Dan Patch Award-winner He's Watching leading the list of hopefuls. He's Watching, who was voted the best 2-year-old male pacer of 2013, is undefeated in eight career races. His Rooney elim, the first of the two divisions, will be his seasonal debut. He has three wins at Yonkers, including the New York Sire Stakes championship in his 2013 finale. The 3-5 favorite in his elim, He's Watching and driver Jim Morrill Jr. will start from post two. The rest of the field is Unlocked, Forty Five Red, Gold Rocks, Bondi Hanover, and Stevensville. "He's right where I want him to be," trainer Dave Menary told Yonkers' Frank Drucker earlier this week. "We're looking forward to coming back (Yonkers). He loves the track and we're anxious to have him start the season. "He's muscular, with heart and stamina. I've never seen a horse dig through the ground the way he does." Menary owns He's Watching with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. The second Rooney elimination features 4-5 favorite All Bets Off from the stable of trainer Ron Burke. The rest of the field is Ideal Fashion, Some Playa, Thereisapaceforus, and Maxi Bon. Also on Saturday's card are two $20,000 eliminations for the Lismore Pace for 3-year-old fillies. Burke's Southwind Silence is the 3-5 favorite in the first division, which also includes It Was Fascination, Bettor Business, A Little Starstruk, and Palm Beach. Casie Coleman's Also Encouraging is the 3-5 favorite in the second split, which also has Tyra, JK Molly, Gentlemens Delight, and Rusty's Bliss. The top four finishers from all the eliminations advance to their respective finals. The $300,000 Art Rooney Pace final and $124,744 Lismore Pace final are May 31. ............................................... He's Watching is the early favorite to win the Meadowlands Pace, according to Big M morning line oddsmaker Darin Zoccali, who has the colt at 3-1. Several other horses in the Top 15 also will be in action this weekend. Ron Burke-trained JK Endofanera, who is No. 2 in the Meadowlands Pace odds at 4-1, is the favorite in his division of the Historic-Pocono Cup on Saturday at Pocono Downs. His Pocono Cup division also includes John Butenschoen's Allstar Partner, who is No. 14 in the Pace ratings. Capital Account, trained by Jimmy Takter, is the favorite in the other Pocono Cup division. On Saturday night at the Meadowlands, Steve Elliott's Doo Wop Hanover, No. 15 on the Road to the Meadowlands Pace, is the favorite in his division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes. Jim Campbell's Sometimes Said, who is No. 12, is the favorite in a conditioned race at the Big M. North of the border one night earlier, Carmen Auciello's Bugger Bruiser (No. 11) is the second favorite in a division of the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold at Western Fair. Richard Moreau's Boomboom Ballykeel (No. 13) races in a Gold division earlier on the card. The Meadowlands Pace is July 12. ............................. Top Hambletonian contender Father Patrick, who received the 2013 Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter, won his seasonal debut Wednesday night in 1:53.3 over a "good" track in a division of the Historic-Dickerson Cup at Pocono Downs. "He had plenty of trot left," said driver Yannick Gingras, who sits behind the colt for trainer Jimmy Takter. "I knew he was ready to go and he proved me right." Several other Hambletonian hopefuls are in action this weekend. Flyhawk El Durado, trained by Mark Ford, is the favorite in his division of the New York Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs on Friday. The colt won the New York Sire Stakes championship last season. John Grasso's Expressive Action and Dan Daley's Daley Lovin are the top picks in the other sire stakes split at Tioga. New Jersey Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old trotters Friday night at the Meadowlands finds Hambletonian eligibles Dave Briggs, Hillustrious, King City, Lightning Force, Martiniwithmuscle, Odds On Amethyst, Resolve, Royal Ice, Skates N Plates, Southwind Poseidon, Speak The Truth, Sumatra, and Well Built all going behind the gate. Elsewhere, Harper Blue Chip, who was second to Father Patrick in last year's Wellwood Memorial, makes his first qualifying effort for trainer Mark Steacy on Friday morning at Mohawk. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications U.S. Trotting Association

Sweet Lou returned to The Meadowlands in style in the first round of the TVG Free For All Championship series with a dominant and compelling performance on May 10th, sailing around the East Rutherford oval in 1:48.3. Among those left in his wake was his stable-mate and the richest pacer in history, Foiled Again. "(Sweet Lou) was super last week. That mile was as good as I have seen him since he was two," was the reaction from trainer Ron Burke. "We tried him at Yonkers, but it didn't seem to suit him, but all his efforts on the bigger tracks this year have been excellent." He will be driven by Ron Pierce once again. Sweet Lou (post 10) leads a three-pronged Ron Burke attack in the second $50,000 TVG Free For All Championship leg Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Joining him this round are stable-mates Clear Vision (post 1) and Bettor's Edge (post 9). While conspicuous by his absence, Burke explained why Foiled Again is qualifying this week and not entered in the TVG FFA event. "Each leg I want to race three out of the four I have in there. This week Foiled gets the night off." Clear Vision, who just missed to Dancin Yanee in a world record mile of 1:47.2 at Pocono last week is having an excellent campaign thus far for Burke and will be driven by Matt Kakaley. "He has been awesome this year," Burke added. "He'll be a factor in there." The last of the trio is Bettor's Edge, piloted by Joe Bongiorno, who despite his last two race lines, has been better than one may think. "He had no chance last week the way the race shaped up, but he was super," said Burke. "The key with him is getting him into the race and if he gets a trip, he'll be right there." The Burke entry has been installed as the 8/5 morning-line favorite for this week's $50,000 TVG Free For All leg. Warrawee Needy (post 3) will begin as the second choice, sporting a 3-1 morning line with Tim Tetrick at the lines once again. Warrawee Needy came up a neck short to Allstar Legend in the $30,000 Free For All Handicap last week at The Meadowlands after setting a blistering pace, getting to three-quarters in 1:19.4. Bolt The Duer made a favorable impression in his 2014 debut, finishing a solid third behind Sweet Lou and Foiled Again. "He was really good," said his regular driver Mark MacDonald. "He acted like he needed that start. He was racing against horses that had all been racing quite a bit already this year. I really think he is ready to step up and have a very big year." Bolt The Duer will start from post 2 and is 4-1 on the morning line. The remainder of this week's TVG FFA leg consists of Thinking Out Loud, Modern Legend, Word Power, Golden Receiver and Dovuto Hanover. Total earnings for the field of 10 is over $12.5 Million. This $50,000 TVG FFA leg will go postward as race six on a 13-race program that also features the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three year old colt and filly pacers. Post time is 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations

Scioto Downs will race Friday, May (23) and Saturday, May (24) with post time at 6:30 p.m. Scioto will also have a special Memorial Day program on Monday, May (26), post time at 1:00 p.m.   On Friday night the 13-race card will feature a $20,000 Fillies and Mares Open and a $20,000 Open Trot. The Open Trot is the 5th race on the card, with a field of eight going to post. The Open Trot winner from two weeks ago, Five Towns returns for trainer Kelly Goodwin and driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr.  Scioto based trainer, Hugh "Sandy" Beatty will have two entries in the Friday night feature with, Southwind Pepino and Final Breath. JJ Hall from the Scott Mogan stable is no stranger to these ranks either and he will start from post five. Completing the field will be Cantab Lindy, Go Tapaigh, Baby Blaze and Vibe Blue Chip.   The next feature will be race 7 when the full field of 10 fillies and mares go post ward for a bounty of $20,000. The morning line favorite is Betterluvnexttime from the Virgil Morgan Jr.stable. She took the Open II pace last week in 1:53.3. She will start from post 8 with driver, Ronnie Wrenn Jr.   Trainer, Jim Dailey has both, Igottafeelinfran and Native Dream in Friday Night's co-feature.  Igottafeelinfran will start from post 9 with driver, Dan Noble and Native Dream will start from post 5 with Josh Sutton at the controls.   Completing the field is A Sham Of Amber, Y Mach Me, South Side Camie, Sonic Breeze, Riverdancer, Mama Said and Up Front Kellie Jo.   Saturday, May (24) a 12-race card is on tap. The live race card will feature a $20,000 Open for Horses and Geldings. The outstanding group of 8 pacers all have marks of 1:52.1 or faster. Virgil Morgan Jr.will send Rockin Wizard from post 5 with driver, Ronnie Wrenn Jr. Rockin Wizard has already taken a mark this year in 1:49.0. Completing the well accomplished group are Royal Outlook, Carmens Best, Carol's Comet, Roadside Delight, Ardyne Ace, Beach Memories and Windsong Jack.   On Monday, May (26) Memorial Day. Scioto has a special holiday post time of 1:00 p.m. This card will include Ohio Sire Stakes action. The best 3-year old trotters and pacers and will go behind the gate for a purse of $40,000 in their respective divisions.   The Memorial Day Card will feature an American Flag demonstration that you don't want to miss.   Starry Night Star, 13-year old gelding by Van Gogh will be wearing an American Flag costume and driven around the track by his dressed reins man.   Make plans to attend and get in on the action!   From Scioto Downs Racino  

Market Share heads to Sunday's $250,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic break in the harness racing Cutler Memorial last weekend. In 40 previous career races, Market Share went off stride only once - when he lost a shoe in the 2012 Dexter Cup. In the Cutler, Market Share made a break heading into the first turn as he raced alongside eventual winner Sebastian K. The Cutler featured the much-anticipated encounter between the two-time Dan Patch Award-winning Market Share and the 2012 Swedish Horse of the Year Sebastian K. Both had won their respective Cutler eliminations, Market Share in 1:50.3 and Sebastian K in a world-record-equaling 1:50.1. "I made a lot of different scenarios in my mind as to what problems he might run into in that race, but none of them was him making a break," Market Share's trainer Linda Toscano said. "I think it was just one of those things. The horse came out of the race fine and I think he's good to go. He just made a very untimely and most uncharacteristic break. I really don't have an answer." Market Share is part of an eight-horse Maxie Lee field and will start from post No. 3 with regular driver Tim Tetrick. He is the 2-1 morning line favorite. Sevruga, who finished third in the Cutler behind Sebastian K and Modern Family, is the 4-1 second choice from post one. He will be driven by Ron Pierce for trainer Julie Miller. Ten-year-old Arch Madness, who is one of only nine trotters with more than $4 million in career purses and finished fourth in the Cutler, drew post eight for driver George Brennan and trainer Trond Smedshammer. "It's a good deep field of horses again," Toscano said. "The only thing I can do as a trainer is make sure my horse is as good going into it as I can. I can't dwell on what happened. Hopefully he'll rise to the challenge and do what I know he can." Market Share, who won the Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic at age 3 and the Breeders Crown and Maple Leaf Trot at 4, has captured 22 of 41 lifetime starts and earned $3.13 million. He was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter in 2012 and the Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter in 2013. He is owned by Richard Gutnick, TLP Stable and Bill Augustine. Gutnick's Chapter Seven won the 2012 Maxie Lee Memorial on his way to Horse of the Year honors. Prior to the Cutler, Market Share's connections decided to turn down an invitation to the Elitlopp in Sweden. The Elitlopp, which attracts an international field of 16 horses, also is Sunday. Toscano was able to joke about Market Share's break in the Cutler within that context. "Either God was telling me I made a good decision not going to the Elitlopp or He punished me for not going to the Elitlopp; I'm not sure," she said, laughing. Following is the field in post order for the Maxie Lee with listed drivers, trainers and odds: 1. Sevruga, Ron Pierce, Julie Miller, 4-1; 2. Undercover Strike, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 5-1; 3. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 2-1; 4. DW's NY Yank, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 8-1; 5. Opening Night, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 10-1; 6. Not Afraid, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 8-1; 7. Daylon Magician, Mark MacDonald, Mark Ford, 8-1; 8. Arch Madness, George Brennan, Trond Smedshammer, 6-1. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Three-year-old Pennsylvania sired pacing colts where in the limelight at Pocono Downs Saturday in four $66,363 divisions. The first race, first division saw Jimmy Takter’s Tellitlikeitis get the pocket rocket two-hole trip and squeak by pacesetter Limelight Beach (David Miller) to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.1. Seventh Secret (Mike Wilder) was third. It was Brett Miller and Tellitlikeitis taking the early lead to the opening quarter mile in :26.2 with Sometimes Said (John Campbell) getting the two-hole trip but that was short lived as David Miller had Limelight Beach in gear on the outside and they took command before the half mile in :55.1. Content to sit the pocket trip, Brett Miller sat patiently with Tellitlikeitis and let David Miller lead with Limelight Beach to the three-quarters in 1:22. Then in the stretch, Brett Miller got Tellitlikeitis into gear and they wore down Limelight Beach before the wire, winning by three-quarters of a length. Limelight Beach held for second with a late closing Seventh Secret (Mike Wilder) third. Tellitlikeitis paid $4.60 to win “This is a really special colt,” said Brett Miller. “We were driving to win but I was being cautious. Limelight Beach is a really nice colt. I felt he was worthy to be behind him and it worked out.” It was the first start of the year for the colt by Well Said. The fourth race second division saw At Press Time and driver Matt Kakaley leave out of the gate and take command with Mattamerican (Andrew McCarthy) on their backs. Then on the move came Maxi Bon and driver Dave Palone and they took command to the opening quarter mile in :26.3. After the half mile in :53.4, Cammikey and Brian Zendt came first over to challenge Maxi Bon and push them to the three-quarters in 1:21.3. Coming down the stretch Maxi Bon could not hold off At Press Time as Matt Kakaley snuck him up the passing lane to a one length triumph in 1:49.1. Maxi Bon held for second with Cammikey third. At Press Time was a 10-1 long shot and paid $22.00 to win. “He raced real well tonight,” Kakaley said. “I drove him last week and roughed him up. He’s good off the gate and once I got to the passing lane I knew we got them.” Sired by Western Terror, it was the third win in five starts this year for At Press Time. The slowest of the four races came in the sixth race third division. Parnu Hanover (Andrew McCarthy) was winging out of the starting gate and took command but that was short lived as Matt Kakaley came charging up with Somestarsomewhere and they led at the opening quarter mile in :26.4. Then by the half mile in :54.4, Somewhere In L A  and Mark MacDonald started up first-over and those two got into gear by the three-quarters in 1:22.1 and then the action heated up more as the two horses battled it out down the stretch and right to the wire with Somestarsomewhere holding on by a head in 1:50.3. Blooming Genius (Tyler Smith) was third. “There was a lot more action in the first turn than I thought,” said Matt Kakaley. “I just wanted him to make the top. He was coming in on the turns but he straighten right up in the straightaways. Once he straighten out he was home free.” Trained by Ron Burke and owned by the Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, it was the first start this year for the colt by Somebeachsomewhere. They saved the best and the fastest of the four divisions for race eight. It was a slugfest from the very start. Allstar Partner and driver George Napolitano, Jr. left sharply from post eight and was able to take the quick lead. Then it was McWicked and driver Simon Allard on the outside after the opening quarter mile in :26.1 and they were able to clear to the lead by the half mile in :54. The action then heated up as Let’s Drink On It and driver Tyler Smith started up first-over only they blew right by McWicked and took command by the three-quarters in 1:20.4 and Tyler Smith kept after Let’s Drink On It and they flew down the stretch to win with ease by two and three-quarter lengths in 1:49. McWicked held for the second place with Some Playa (Brett Miller) third. “The horse paced 1:50 at Hoosier,” Tyler Smith said. “He is the real deal. They are going to fly me to Canada for the Somebeachsomewhere and the North America Cup. They asked me to stick with him and hopefully we keep winning.” A $174,000 winner last year, Let’s Drink On It is sired by Art Official and tonight’s 1:49 victory is a lifetime mark and his second straight win this season. He is trained by Joe Seekman and owned by Seekman, Bond, Hewitt and Boido, Jr. Let’s Drink On It paid $3.60 to win. By Steve Wolf and Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink

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