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Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs announce a new format for the 2014 Drivers' Championship, scheduled to take place on a pair of marquee race days at both New York courses. The first round will take place at Vernon Downs on Friday, August 29, along with the $200,000e Crawford Farms Open Trot and the Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds. The second round is slated for Monday, September 1--three days later--at Tioga Downs, where the Drivers' Championship will share the spotlight with the Cane Pace, the Shady Daisy, and a preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility series for distaff trotters. Past years have seen the six top money-winning drivers in North America and a sponsor's exemption join the leading driver from both Tioga and Vernon, but the 2014 Drivers' Championship will implement a new means to compile the nine-driver field. This year, the leading drivers (by wins) at Tioga and Vernon will be joined by: - the top three (3) Meadowlands drivers (by purse earnings) - the top Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit driver - the top Harrah's Philadelphia/Pocono Downs driver - the top driver aged 25 or younger - a sponsor's exemption As of right now, the field would be comprised of Jim Marohn, Jr., Chris Lems, Yannick Gingras, David Miller, Tim Tetrick, Sylvain Filion, George Napolitano, Jr., Scott Zeron, and the sponsor's exemption. The field will be finalized according to drivers' statistics as of the close of racing on Sunday, August 3. As in past years, the overall winner takes home $25,000--equivalent to a driver's commission for winning a $1,000,000 race. Additionally, the leader at the conclusion of the first round wins $10,000. In addition to a slew of other giveaways and promotions, both tracks will host a Jim Marohn, Jr. bobblehead giveaway in conjuction with the Drivers' Championship to commemorate last year's winner. With a healthy lead over Aaron Byron in the Tioga Downs standings, the "Mighty Mite Part Two" is poised to defend his title. by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

July 27, 2014 – The Meadow’s Adios Card is in the books and at the end of the day Handicapper Ray Cotolo reigned supreme for the week in HANA Harness’ Grand Circuit Handicapping Shoot-Out Contest with a weekly net profit of $305, nearly $100 ahead of his closest opponent.     While Cotolo is a newcomer to the list of weekly winners, Bob Zanakis continues his run as overall leader with a combined net profit of $3,000.70 ($140 for the week), leading second place Brandon Valvo by $607.20. This week, the adage it only takes one hit to make you a winner applies as Cotolo’s victory came thanks to a single wager, a $150 win wager on Allstar Rating in the Adioo Volo which returned a $705 dividend.  Other handicappers had winners, but due to the short-priced nature of the card, significant winners were at a premium, amongst them were: Derick Giwner’s $150 Win ticket on Too Darn Hot in the second division of the Adren Downs 2yo C&G pace paid $480; Mark McKelvie’s $50 Win ticket on Rich Wisdom in the first division of the Arden Downs for 2yo C& G pacers paid $195; Rusty Nash’s $100 wager on the same horse paid $390; Dennis O’Hara ‘s $10 Exacta part wheel ($30 total) in the first division of the Arden Downs for 3yo Filly trotters returned $125; Josie Verlingierli $40 straight wager on the second division of the Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace, earned $156; Gordon Waterstone’s $50 Exacta in the third division of Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace which returned $115. As the Hambletonian marks the unofficial mid-point in the stakes season, the standings for the Handicapper Shoot-Out at the mid-point are: As of July 26, 2014 - Leg 19 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis $140.00 $3,000.70   2nd Brandon Valvo $50.00 $2,393.50 $607.20 3rd Derick Giwner $206.00 $623.17 $2,377.53 4th Ray Garnett ($218.00) $15.85 $2,984.85 5th Mark McKelvie ($119.50) ($91.50) $3,092.20 6th Brian McEvoy $7.50 ($185.00) $3,185.70 7th Earl Paulson ($71.00) ($437.00) $3,437.70 8th Josi Verlingieri ($126.00) ($956.40) $3,957.10 9th Gordon Waterstone $108.60 ($989.30) $3,990.00 10th Ann Stepien ($189.00) ($1,020.11) $4,020.81 11th Garnet Barnsdale ($280.00) ($1,078.00) $4,078.70 12th Sally Hinckley ($400.00) ($1,325.00) $4,325.70 13th Rusty Nash $160.00 ($1,712.40) $4,713.10 14th Dennis O'Hara $30.50 ($2,097.70) $5,098.40 15th Ray Cotolo $305.00 ($3,398.40) $6,399.10 This week, the Grand Circuit Handicapper Shoot-Out visits Meadowlands Racing & Gaming for the Hambletonian Day card amongst which are the $1.2 million Hambletonian, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, $352,050 Merrie Annabelle, $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial, $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship, $177,750 Lady Liberty, and $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial.  For more information regarding the handicapping contest, please visit http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com.   by Allan Schott, for HANA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Western Tsunami (Western Hanover-Rons Girl) rallied past the competition to extend his winning streak to four in a row in the $6,500 featured pace at Vernon Downs on Saturday night.   Donna's Scape (Chris Lems) was the early pacesetter through a quarter in 27.2 and a half in 57 seconds. Once the field made the top of the stretch, however, there was a host of challengers to the leader.   Western Tsunami had sat in mid-pack through the early stages, but got into the clear in the lane and charged past his rivals to win in a smart time of 1:52.3, courtesy of a well-timed drive by Roman Lopez. There was a dead-heat for the second position with Ashton Seelster (Gary Clark) and Moonlight Ransom (Jimmy Whittemore) involved.   The complete order of finish: Western Tsunami, Ashton Seelster and Moonlight Ransom (Dead-Heat), Whitemountainpower, Donna's Scape, Some Or Lis, Sovereign Wealth, Gallic Warrior, and Midas Blue Chip.   Western Tsunami is owned by Scott West of Vernon, New York and Katie Currie of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Scott West is also the trainer.   Claude Huckabone III was the driving star on the Saturday night program at Vernon Downs, winning three times. He scored in the third race with My Edward (Village Jolt-Undercover Woman), the fifth race with Pedro's Dream (Dream Away-Twinkie Lo), and the ninth race with Willies Big Mac (Whelan Willie-Mac's Only Iris).   Live racing will resume on Thursday night at Vernon Downs with a 10-race program. Post time on Thursday will be 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs     

War Hero (Ken Warkentin-Miss Gibbons) powered past Ilovemymommy in the stretch to win the $10,000 featured Open I Trot at Vernon Downs on Friday night.   War Hero (Frank Davis) followed the live cover of Ilovemymommy (Jimmy Whittemore), who surged to the lead past the half-mile mark and maintained control to the top of the stretch.   It was there that War Hero moved alongside and started to surge past in the lane to win in a time of 1:53.4. Mr. Web Page (Roman Lopez) had set the early fractions of 26.4 for the quarter and 56 seconds for the half, but had to work hard to get the lead after being caught three-wide around the first turn.   This hard labor ended up costing him dearly later on as he faded to finish last. My Revenuer (John Macdonald) rallied from last up the backstretch to close strongly and finish second. The complete order of finish was: War Hero, My Revenuer, Lucid Thoughts, Ilovemymommy, A Penny Earned, Out Of The Hat, and Mr. Web Page.   War Hero is owned by Howard Gill of Pine Bush, New York and trained by Jessica Okusko.   Live racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Saturday night with a 9-race program. The 2014 Miss Vernon Downs Pageant takes place on Saturday with a top prize of $1,500. Contestants will compete in casual wear, swimsuit, formal wear, and an interview segment. Post time for the Saturday night program at Vernon Downs in 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs    

Seascape Hanover (Camluck-Skateboard) claimed the $8,000 feature race at Vernon Downs on Thursday night to extend her winning streak to three in the month of July.   This win, however, was a move up in company as she scored in an Open I pace and did it impressively, powering away from her competition in the lane to win by six lengths in 1:52. Seascape Hanover (Aaron Byron) took control before the field moved to the first turn and led the way through fractions of 27.2 for the quarter, 55.2 for the half, and 1:23.2 for three quarters.   Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) was second through the early stages before being passed by a first-over Oceans Motion (Brian Connor). However, Oceans Motion stalled in the stretch and Artic Byrd was able to get back into the second spot at the finish. The complete order of finish was: Seascape Hanover, Artic Byrd, Oceans Motion, Upfront Secret, and Always Flash-n.   Seascape Hanover is owned by Tessa Roland of Grinnell, Iowa and Mark Jakubik of West Seneca, New York. The trainer is Mario Dessureault.   Live racing will resume at Vernon Downs on Friday night with a 10-race program. The 9th race is the $10,000 featured Open I Trot and the 3-1 morning line favorite is A Penny Earned, who is scheduled to be driven by Justin Huckabone. Post time on Friday night is 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs Publicity

Three trotters from the sophomore class of 2010 have come online with their initial crops this year; Muscle Massive is standing at Hanover, Lucky Chucky at Winbak in New York and Holiday Road in Ontario. Pilgrim’s Taj is a fourth, but he only spent one year in Canada, after which he was relocated to Ohio and ultimately exported to Finland. That being the case, we’ll look at the first three. To this point restricted races have provided the only basis for judging them, but the open portion of the season commences this week with elimination rounds for the Peter Haughton and Merrie Annabelle at the Meadowlands as well as several splits of the Arden at The Meadows. Much of the focus has been on Muscle Massive and Lucky Chucky, beneficiaries of generous state bred programs who finished one-two in the Hambletonion. The former was a $450,000 yearling who was lightly raced at two but managed to win the Hambletonion as well as the Dancer at three, while Chucky was a precocious freshman, showing wins in the Valley Victory, Matron, ISS and Bluegrass. He was the 3/2 favorite in the Hambletonion and appeared on his way to victory when 6/1 Muscle Massive, piloted by Ron Pierce, ruined his day. Regardless, Chucky did win the Canadian Trotting Classic and Colonial at three, and he earned more money than Muscle Massive both years. Both sold close to seventy yearlings last year, with Chucky’s brood averaging quite a bit more. Both have seen their stud fees fluctuate before their first crops hit the track. Muscle Massive started at $10,000, only to have his fee cut to $7,500 and $6,000 in successive years. Cantab Hall, Donato Hanover, Andover Hall and Explosive Matter all command higher fees than their younger stablemate at Hanover. Chucky, on the other hand, started at $7,500 in New York, was dropped to $5,000 during a year spent in Pennsylvania, and came back up to $7,500 when he returned to Winbak, where nineteen-year-old Muscles Yankee stands for $2,500 more. Muscle Massive has benefited from the success of his older brother, Muscle Mass, sire of O’Brien winner Riveting Rosie and the successful OSS colt Muscle Matters. Thus far Muscle Massive has given us some outstanding fillies. Gatka Hanover, a big rugged gal out of the Conway Hall mare Girlie Tough, from the Ron Burke barn, has left many wondering where her ceiling is. Gatka rolled through a couple of baby races and has now chalked up three wins in the PA Sire Stakes, one each at The Meadows, Pocono and Harrah’s. Matt Kakaley steered her to an effortless four length win in 1:57 in her latest. She leaves from the five for Matt K in Friday’s first Merrie Annabelle elimination. Gatka takes on Lucky Chucky’s daughter, Lock Down Lindy, who drew plenty of attention with a very strong first over win in a Merrie Annabelle Prep at the Meadowlands Friday for Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna. Another Muscle Massive star in the making is Jimmy Takter’s Speak To Me, an $80,000 Harness Breeders purchase by Myron Bell. She is also three-for three in the PA Sire Stakes and has trotted in 1:55. Last time out, in a $57,000 sire stakes division at Harrah’s, Speak To Me gapped the field by ten on her way to an easy win at a stingy 1/5 price. Unfortunately this filly was not staked to the Merrie Annabelle and will be missing from the fray on Friday night. Blessings Counted is another talented filly by Muscle Massive. She was second to Speak To Me in a PASS race at The Meadows a couple of weeks ago and won a $57,000 race at Harrah’s in her latest start. She is not eligible to the Merrie Annabelle but is entered in a split of the Arden at The Meadows on Friday. Missive and Youth Gone Wild, both winners in the Stallion Series, will also race in the Arden. Jersey Strong, a talented filly with a win in the PA All Stars and a second in the PASS, isn’t entered at The Meadowlands or The Meadows on Friday. The top colt by Muscle Massive is Ake Svanstedt’s Lima Pride, who beat Jimmy Takter’s 1/9 favorite The Bank in a split of the Hickory Pride when The Bank went on a run at the three-quarters. Lima Pride, a $25,000 yearling purchase, was not nominated to the Peter Haughton. The priciest freshman trotter by any first crop stallion is Mr Lucky Luke, a $450,000 Lucky Chucky half- brother to Muscle Massive, Muscle Mass and 2010 Merrie Annabelle winner, Thatsnotmyname. The Cancelliere brothers, of Detour Hanover fame, purchased him at Lexington in the fall. He has yet to make a pari-mutuel start; let’s hope he generates a better ROI than Detour has. As for the Lucky Chucky colts and fillies that have raced, there is no eye popping Gatka Hanover out there, but there are plenty of good ones. I already mentioned Merrie Annabelle candidate Lock Down Lindy, who possesses the same rugged demeanor as Gatka. She is a half-sister to 2006 HOY in Canada, Majestic Son. He has sired Harper Blue Chip, Murmur Hanover and Charmed Life. Ray Schnittker has Gabe The Bear Dean, a $105,000 Harness Breeders buy, who has an impressive wire-to wire five length win in the NYSS at Buffalo. Jonas Czernyson has a few Lucky Chucky youngsters in his barn and he’s high on all of them. At the end of June Hot Start, a half-sister to Religulous, won a $27,000 NYSS split at Vernon Downs for Corey Callahan. Next time out, at Tioga, she cut most of the mile from the outside post only to lose to paternal sister My Twisted Sister, from the Paul Kelley barn. Hot Start is entered in the second Merrie Annabelle elimination on Friday. Nunkeri is another very promising Lucky Chucky filly from the Czernyson barn. She finished second to the Muscle Hill filly Josie’s Joy at the Meadowlands the other night, race timed in 1:57.2 as the second choice. Nunkeri won her start previous to that one, a $28,000 NYSS division at Tioga. George Ducharme’s sharp looking Conway Hall filly, Concentration, pressured her all the way home in a 1:59.3 mile. On the male side Mal and Janet Burroughs’ Mambo Blue Chip, a $40,000 Harness Breeders buy, won a $28,000 split of the NYSS in 1:57.2 at Tioga last time out. Holiday Road, a $115,000 yearling who is a full brother to Ken Warkentin, was lightly raced, making only ten lifetime stars. While staying on the track was an issue, speed wasn’t; he won the Peter Haughton at two and a split of the Dancer at three. He opened his stallion career for $4,500 at Seelster Farms and now stands for $3,500. This week the Holiday Roads started to turn heads and earn respect at Mohawk as they performed admirably on the various OSS platforms. John Bax’s Hemi Seelster was long and tough winning a Grassroots division in 1:58.4 at 2/1. It was noteworthy that the gelding engaged in a head to head battle the length of the stretch with Pilgrim’s Joy, a son of first crop stallion Pilgrim’s Taj. Tony Alagna’s filly Gee O’Keeffe logged a very strong second in a $53,000 OSS Gold leg at Mohawk for Jody Jamieson, losing a length to the highly regarded Kadabra filly Juanita’s Fury. And Keith Jones’ gelding, It’s Huw You Know, was an upset Grassroots winner in 2:00.3 on Monday at 75/1, paying $159.60. And Ontheroad De Vie made a very impressive brush on the back as he came from the 10 post to finish second for Rick Zeron in a Grassroots leg. The Holiday Roads are looking good. Rock N Roll Heaven and Sportswriter are lighting it up in the freshman pacing division, but it’s expected that the trotters will take a little longer to get their bearings and hit their stride. Muscle Massive, Lucky Chucky and Holiday Road will all be prospering when they do. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

July 20, 2014 – Sebastian K’s defeat in the Maple Leaf Trot broke many a handicappers’ heart but Anne Stepien managed to play the race right and as a result is the weekly champion in HANA Harness’ Grand Circuit Handicapping Shoot-Out Contest sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Gaming, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. By having a net profit of $479.06 for the weekend, moving from 12th place to 10th.  Rusty Nash was second best with a net profit of $260 won in the Lawrence B. Sheppard ay Yonkers Raceway, moving up one slot to 13th place.  Although showing only a $5 profit for the week, Bob Zanakis remains in 1stplace with an overall net profit of $2,860.70, $517.20 ahead of 2nd place Brandon Valvo.   There were several key hits for the weekend.  Ray Garnett managed to break even for the weekend thanks to his three horse $10 Exacta Box ($60 total) in the Battle of Lake Erie, which paid $240.  Derick Giwner managed a symbolic $2 profit for the weekend thanks to his $80 Win wager in the Sheppard which paid $252.00.  Rusty Nash’s 2nd place finish came as a result of his $100 Win, Place ticket in the Sheppard which rewarded him with a $510 dividend.  The weekly champion, Ann Stepien managed to earn her victory wheeling Sebastian K in a $4 Key Exacta Box with 8 horses ($64), earning her $619.40.  Bob Zanakis made a $5 profit thanks to his $50 Win, Place ticket ($100) in the Yonkers stake which paid $255.00.  Here are the standings after Saturday night’s action. As of July 19, 2014 - Leg 18 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis $5.00 $2,860.70   2nd Brandon Valvo ($210.00) $2,343.50 $517.20 3rd Derick Giwner $2.00 $417.17 $2,443.53 4th Ray Garnett $0.00 $233.85 $2,626.85 5th Mark McKelvie ($250.00) $28.00 $2,832.70 6th Brian McEvoy $12.50 ($192.50) $3,053.20 7th Earl Paulson ($250.00) ($366.00) $3,226.70 8th Garnet Barnsdale ($250.00) ($798.00) $3,658.70 9th Josi Verlingieri ($150.00) ($830.40) $3,691.10 10th Ann Stepien $479.06 ($831.11) $3,691.81 11th Sally Hinckley ($250.00) ($925.00) $3,785.70 12th Gordon Waterstone ($250.00) ($1,097.90) $3,958.60 13th Rusty Nash $260.00 ($1,872.40) $4,733.10 14th Dennis O'Hara ($250.00) ($2,128.20) $4,988.90 15th Ray Cotolo ($250.00) ($3,703.40) $6,564.10 The Grand Circuit Shoot-Out visits the Meadows this weekend on Saturday, July 26, for the $400,000 Adios, $150,000 Adioo Volo, and the Arden Downs for 2yo pacers and 3yo trotters of both sexes. Further contest details may be found at http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com. by Allan Schott, for HANA

Jaipur used a pocket trip to full advantage Friday night in winning the $9,000 Open Trot in 1:55. Sent off at 10-1 Jaipur (Conway Hall-Artemisia Ambrosio) followed the favorite House Money for three quarters of the mile before pulling pocket and notching his third win of the year. Alexandra Berube trains for owner Jerry Clark. Aaron Byron, Joe Nassimos, & Fern Paquet Jr registered driving doubles on the evening. HHYF (Harness Horse Youth Foundation) concluded its five day camp with two exhibition races Friday night. Mackenzie Rosenberg assisted by Claude Huckabone III & Rebecca Thomas assisted by Adam Capizzano was victorious. Other participants in the camp included Jacob Bouck, Cameron Gray, Andrew Lounsbury, Sophie Norton, and Danielle Stormes. HHYF now moves onto Pocono Downs. Vernon Downs offers a 10 race card Saturday evening with first post 6:45 pm. Destiny USA gift cards will be given away ranging from $100 up to $250. by Scott Warren, for Vernon Downs

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The 2014 Buffalo Raceway live racing season comes to an end on Sunday afternoon but the track will close with a bang as the New York State Sire Stakes for 2-year-old trotting fillies highlight the final card of the year.   There will be four $27,251 divisions of the Sire Stakes along a trio of $12,600 Excelsior A Series races and a $6,700 Excelsior B race in the 11-race program that is set for 1:05 p.m.   And while there be some talented filly trotters taking to the track, it's like a 'who's who' that will be driving them. Former Western New York regulars Jeff Gregory, Ray Schnittker, Jim Morrill Jr., John Stark Jr., Phil Fluet, Sam Schillaci and John Cummings Jr. all will be returning to Western New York for day. They'll be joined by others including Dan Daley, Chuck Connors Jr., Charlie Norris, Chris Lems, Gates Brunet, Jim Meittinis, Rick Zeron, Robert Shepherd, Jim Marohn Jr. and Tyler Raymer.   The Sire Stakes will be contested in the first, third, sixth and seventh races.   The first leg features Counsellor AS (Gregory) who has a 1-1/2 length win in the Excelsior A Series at Vernon Downs on June 26 in 2:00.1. Counsellor As (Conway Hall-Cordele AS) broke stride in her last appearance at Tioga Downs on July 11. She'll look to rebound starting from the three post as the 3-1 morning line choice.   Her main threat should come from 4-1 second choice Meshugana Miss (Crazed-Daring Marisa) who start from the four post. She has a pair of second place finishes in both of her pari-mutuel starts and will be handled by Connor Jr.   The second division has Betcha (Betcha-Ruccoucou) as the 3-1 choice with Daley in the bike. Betcha cruised to an easy two length decision in the $27,250 Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs in 1:59.4 on July 11. She may play 'catch-me-if-you can' from the four spot.   The toughest leg could be the third which will go as the sixth race. It finds My Twisted Sister (Lucky Chucky-Pretzel Hanover) and Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) ready to battle it out.   My Twisted Sister (Morrill Jr.) showed plenty of heart in posting a neck victory in the $27,750 Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs in 2:00 on July 11. She'll get the inside post and should get a perfect trip.   Barn Doll drew a tough post, the seventh spot, but can overcome it after posting a pair of big victories of more than three lengths in her last two starts, including 1:59.1 decision at Tioga on July 11 in the Sire Stakes. Barn Doll gets Jeff Gregory as her pilot.   The final division has Spell That (Conway Hall-Mouche Hanover) the 3-1 early choice with Sam Schillaci in the sulky. She was last seen on June 26 at Vernon Downs where she suffered a narrow neck defeat in the Sire Stakes. She'll start out of the six post.   The main threat could come from Northern Obsession (Conway Hall-Northernpossession). This 2-year-old has a pair of competitive third place finishes in two Sire Stakes starts and gets trainer-driver Ray Schnittker on the reins. They'll score from the three post.   For more information including simulcast schedule, race replays, results and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway      

Driver Jimmy Whittemore wasted no time Thursday night capturing three of the first four races and in doing so notched career win 1,000. In Race 1 Whittemore guided Love You Bye to a last to first victory in 1:52:2. The 5 year old McArdle-Cam’s Genious mare is owned by Jimmy Whittemore and trained by his father Dennis Whittemore. Love You Bye is closing in on $200,000 in career earnings. Race 3 saw Campbell Muscles (Muscles Yankee-Millennium Chip) score her first career win and give Jimmy a driving double and career win 999. Campbell Muscles scored by 3 ¼ lengths in 2:00 for owner-trainer Scott West.   Misty Major went wire to wire in Race 4 to give Jimmy Whittemore his 1,000th career driving win. Misty Major (Major In Art-Lady Artemise) tied her career mark 1:54:3 and is conditioned by Angus Mac Donald and owned by E J Treadway. Jimmy Whittemore, a native of Norway, Maine is a three time driving champion at the Miracle Mile and currently sits fourth in the Vernon Downs driver’s standings. By Scott Warren, for Vernon Downs

When harness racing trainer Ake Svanstedt announced he was leaving Sweden to compete in North America, the initial reaction of Michael Knutsson and Tristan Sjoberg, who had their star trotter Sebastian K in Svanstedt's care, was disappointment. As time passed, the brothers decided it was an opportunity. Rather than find a new trainer, they decided to send Sebastian K to the U.S. with Svanstedt. After watching Sebastian K win the first five starts of his North American campaign and trot the fastest mile in harness racing history, a 1:49 triumph in the Sun Invitational on June 28, they are happy they did. Sebastian K puts his perfect 5-for-5 record on the line in Saturday's C$603,000 Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack. The 8-year-old horse will start from post No. 1 with Svanstedt driving and is the 2-5 favorite on the morning line. Michael, 53, and Tristan, 43, race under the Knutsson Trotting Inc. stable banner. Their father, Bertil, who passed away in 2012, got the family started in harness racing some 50 years ago. Knutsson Trotting has 44 horses, counting racehorses, broodmares and foals. They have six horses in the U.S., including Sebastian K and the rare 2-year-old white pacing colt White Bliss. Four of the horses in the States are co-owned by Courant AB, including Peter Haughton Memorial hopeful Centurion ATM. The brothers operate gaming company TCS John Huxley and Knutsson Holdings AB, with Michael living in Sweden and Tristan in Singapore. They recently took time to speak and correspond with Harness Racing Communications' Ken Weingartner about their passion for racing and Sebastian K. KW: What has the experience with Sebastian K been like so far? MK: It's been absolutely amazing. I'm not surprised with the speed, to be honest, but I'm surprised that he got into it so quickly; that he's been acclimatized so quickly. We knew about his capacity. Of course, 1:49 was absolutely a blast. But we knew he would have a good shot at the old record. It was a bit of a gamble for us to move him from a good environment in Sweden where there is good money and good races, but we're adventurous. We did the right thing and we're enjoying the moment. KW: Why did you decide to send Sebastian K to the States? TS: For the adventure! And to break the world record. We knew he was fast enough to compete against the best in North America and win races, but the real carrot was breaking the world record. His best time in Sweden was 1:51 flat and that was on a five-eighths-mile track that is medium fast. We believed he could go sub-1:50 on a fast mile track so after a lot of soul-searching we decided to ship him to the States with Ake with the singular aim to break the world record. KW: Was it a tough decision? MK: That was a tough decision. It took us months. Automatically, when Ake Svanstedt declared he would move to the U.S., we thought 'Oh no, oh no,' who will train [Sebastian K]. We did not have any thoughts whatsoever to move him outside the Nordic countries because he was doing so well. But then he did a very good race during the summer and we started to speculate: How fast is he? That's what triggered the question whether to move him to the U.S. or not. Not to even try would have been cowardly. So we decided to go for it and we sure did make the right decision. We're very happy about it. KW: Was it an emotional decision? MK: It was very tough emotionally. Firstly, he's done very well in the North European races. And also not to be able to go to him anytime we want, not to see him as often and go to every race, that was emotionally very tough. KW: Did you expect to see Sebastian K do so well so quickly? TS: Yes and no. I did expect him to win races early on, but not in the effortless way he has done. He has really taken well to the U.S. climate and harness racing in general. He was always at his best in Sweden racing at sprint distance (one mile) and on fast tracks in the summer. So the racing conditions in the U.S. and Canada really suits him. KW: What do you think about the Maple Leaf Trot? TS: Apart from the Hambletonian, it is the most recognized North American harness race in Europe. We often see it as the "over there" equivalent of Sweden's Elitloppet. It is steeped in tradition, and after breaking the world record this is the race we really want to win. The younger horses do not have the same cachet here as they do [in North America]. We are drawn to the older horses, the personalities. We like personalities, even with our horses. MK: We have big, big hopes for him. So far everything looks good. He has a good history with five straight wins, so we truly hope he can pull it off. KW: How did you get started in harness racing? TS: It was the passion of our late father, Bertil, and we are carrying on his legacy. The success we are experiencing with Sebastian K is down to our father's hard work and investment over 30 years in harness racing. He started with trotters and he had immediate success with a stakes-equivalent winner in Sweden called Private Property, sired by The Prophet. From there, the barn grew every year as our father was a buyer of horses and not a seller. KW: Michael, you were with your father when Sebastian K won his first classic race [the Group I King's Trophy in Sweden] at the age of 4. What was that like? MK: That was fantastic. Deep inside, we knew there was something going with him, but he had never proven himself in a big race. That was the first big race he won and it was in our hometown of Gothenburg. It was an amazing feeling. It also was [validation] that he was a good horse. Only a few months later he was second in the European Derby for 4-year-olds. That in itself was amazing, too, to be the second best in Europe at that time. KW: What was it like to see Sebastian K win in 1:49? TS: One of the highlights of my life, save for the birth of my daughter. It was 9 a.m. in Singapore and my hand was trembling. When I calmed down I went to my wine fridge to pull out a bottle of champagne, but I realized that it was not going to be strong enough so I grabbed a bottle of 24-year old rum from Guyana instead. It was a good breakfast! My brother Michael was in Sweden and it was 3 a.m. there and we spoke for over half an hour on the phone. He told me later that he was so jacked up that he could not go to bed until 6 a.m.! It was a wonderful day for our family and our thoughts were with our father. It was very emotional. KW: What is Sebastian K's schedule for the rest of the year? TS: If he feels good after the Maple Leaf Trot we will enter him for the Cashman Memorial. After that he gets a well-earned break. The next race would tentatively be the Crawford Farms Trot at Vernon Downs, followed by Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park and Allerage at The Red Mile. He is also staked to the American-National and Dayton Derby Trot, but we have to make a decision closer to the dates. Of course, the season finale is the TVG Championship at the end of November at the Meadowlands. KW: What do you plan to do with Sebastian K after this year? TS: That is the million-dollar question. Our preference would be to combine stud duties with racing, which is the norm in Europe. I know Wishing Stone is doing just that this year in the States so it can be done. We are investigating that possibility and I am already talking to one farm about that option. But no decision has been taken yet. Sebastian K acted as a stud for some of our broodmares and he has sired six yearlings. One of them, a filly, will go under the hammer at Sweden's most prestigious yearling auction, Kolgjini Sales, in September. The dam won close to U.S.$200,000. It will be very interesting to see what price she fetches. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

July 13, 2014 - Meadowlands Pace night provided six contest races for HANA Harness' Grand Circuit Handicapping Shoot-Out Contest sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Gaming, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. Most of the handicappers availed themselves of more than one race to play but Bob Zanakis had the patience to wait until the Meadowlands Pace while Garnet Barnsdale decided to play only the first contest race, the Stanley Dancer Memorial. Patience was the word as these two handicappers exploded last night with Zanakis using his weekly gain of $2,925.20 to jump from fifth place to first , while Barnsdale rung up a $1,040 profit to move from twelfth to eighth place. Six other handicappers showed positive results to a lesser degree for the weekend. With Zanakis' performance, he now shows a net profit for the contest of $2,855.70, leading previous leader Brandon Valvo by $302.20. Zanakis unloaded on the Meadowlands Pace by earning $1,053.20 on the Meadowlands Pace Superfecta by playing $144 in $1 Supefecta tickets. Zanakis earned $2,272 by playing $240 in $5 Trifecta tickets. As for Barnsdale, he earned $1,440 by playing $400 on a an exacta of Father Patrick and Nuncio straight. When the day was over, Barnsdale showed a contest net profit of -$548. Other notable plays for the evening were successful. Derick Giwner scored $180 by playing a $50 Exacta on the Stanley Dancer Memorial. Ann Stepien's $48 in $2 Trifecta tickets on the Meadowlands Pace paid a dividend of $454.40. Handicapper Brandon Valvo played in the Stanley Dancer Memorial a $10 Exacta ($60 total) which paid $154; a $90 win wager in the William R. Haughton Memorial pad $180; a $100 win ticket on the Meadowlands Pace paid $310. In the Del Miller Memorial, Josi Verlinigeri $100 place ticket paid $390 and her $.50 Superfecta ($60 total) paid $313.50. As a result of last night's performance, the standings have had some movement. Here are the standings after last night's action. As of July 12, 2014 - Leg 17 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis $2,925.20 $2,855.70   2nd Brandon Valvo $244.00 $2,553.50 $302.20 3rd Derick Giwner $20.00 $415.17 $2,440.53 4th Mark McKelvie ($390.00) $278.00 $2,577.70 5th Ray Garnett ($275.50) $233.85 $2,621.85 6th Earl Paulson $2.50 ($116.00) $2,971.70 7th Brian McEvoy $12.50 ($205.00) $3,060.70 8th Garnet Barnsdale $1,040.00 ($548.00) $3,403.70 9th Sally Hinckley ($102.00) ($675.00) $3,530.70 10th Josi Verlingieri $303.35 ($680.40) $3,536.10 11th Gordon Waterstone ($292.00) ($847.90) $3,703.60 12th Ann Stepien $398.83 ($1,310.17) $4,165.87 13th Dennis O'Hara ($390.00) ($1,878.20) $4,733.90 14th Rusty Nash ($260.00) ($2,132.40) $4,988.10 15th Ray Cotolo ($352.00) ($3,453.40) $6,309.10 The Grand Circuit Shoot-Out visits three tracks this Saturday, July 19, starting at Northfield Park for the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie. The Shoot-Out then moves on to Yonkers Raceway for the $125,000 Lawrence B Sheppard for 2yos and Mohawk for the highly-anticipated $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot. Further contest details may be found at http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com. by Allan Schott, for HANA  

I Do Hanover (Shark Gesture-I'm Married) withstood a stout challenge from favored Tell Us More to win the $8,000 featured Open II pace at Vernon Downs on Saturday night. Firethorn (John Macdonald) was the one who set a strong pace of 26.4 for the quarter, 57.4 for the half, and 1:24.3 for three-quarters. However, those fast fractions ended up costing the pacesetter in the stretch, as he faded out to finish last.   I Do Hanover was moved aggressively first-over by driver Truman Gale past the half-mile marker and ended up drawing on even terms with Firethorn as the field entered the stretch. Tell Us More (Roman Lopez) followed the solid cover from I Do Hanover and rolled into contention as the field moved through the stretch. I Do Hanover held on to first position all the way to the wire to win in 1:52.2, scoring a minor upset at 6-1 over the favorite, who had to settle for second. Moonlight Ransom (Jimmy Whittemore) had been third in the early stages and ended up getting shuffled back to fifth with all the action in the outer flow on the far turn. Moonlight Ransom was able to re-rally in the stretch and get up for third.   The complete order of finish was: I Do Hanover, Tell Us More, Moonlight Ransom, Some Or Lis, You Bet Your Glass, Unicorn Hanover, Gallic Warrior, and Firethorn. I Do Hanover is owned by Philip Hale and David Dewhurst of New York, with Dewhurst doubling as the trainer.   The win in the feature event made it a natural hat trick of wins for driver Truman Gale during the Saturday program. Gale won the fifth race with 8-1 shot, American Bull, in a time of 1:53.1, and followed with a score in the sixth driving Where U At to another upset win at 7-1. Gale also serves as the trainer of first two winners in the sequence of three.   Live racing will resume at Vernon Downs on Friday night with a 9-race program. First post time is 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs

House Money (Angus Hall-Emmamzaing) received an excellent drive from trainer-driver Roman Lopez to score a victory in the $9,000 feature race at Vernon Downs on Friday night.   House Money actually sat the pocket trip behind early leader War Hero (Frank Davis), who set fractions of 28 seconds for the quarter, 57.3 for the half, and 1:25.4 for three-quarters. House Money then commenced a rally at the inside and challenged War Hero in the stretch, going past and winning by two lengths in a time of 1:54.1   War Hero suffered a break deep in the stretch, so while he crossed the line fourth, he was disqualified for violating the breaking rule and placed sixth. Evil Urges (Jimmy Whittemore) sat fifth in the field of six during the early stages of the race and then moved nicely through the lane to get second. Pollux Blue Chip (Claude Huckabone III) finished third. The complete order of finish was: House Money, Evil Urges, Pollux Blue Chip, A Penny Earned, My Revenuer, and War Hero. House Money is owned by Mitchell Frair and Thomas and Kimberley Frarey of Sherrill, New York.   Jimmy Whittemore might have been the runner-up in the feature race, but he scored three victories on the evening as he continues to close in on 1,000 career victories. With the three wins on Friday night, Whittemore is currently at 997 lifetime wins.   He was in the sulky for Don't Miss A Tweet in the first race, Ilovemymommy in the second race, and Funny Photo in the seventh race. Whittemore has drives in nine of the ten races scheduled for the Saturday night program at Vernon Downs, so it is conceivable that he reached the milestone of 1,000 wins before the end of the weekend.   Live racing at Vernon Downs will resume on Saturday night at 6:45pm. The seventh race is the featured event, an Open II Pace with a purse of $8,000. by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs

Latham, NY---As the Manhattan skyline provides the backdrop for the start of the 2014 edition of the Meadowlands Pace, the Empire state will also supply the favorites for the marquee event. JK Endofanera and He's Watching are both products of the standardbred breeding program in New York. 2-1 favorite JK Endofanera (1:48.2, $938,517) was bred and is owned by Alan Katz's 3 Brothers Stable. He is a son of Art Major (1:48.4, $2,727,224) out of the Presidential Ball mare, Presidential Lady (1:54, $291,651). JK Endofanera started his two-year-old career late after developing slowly early in the year. He didn't make his first lifetime start until September, getting his first victory at Lexington. Following his third race the colt was placed in the Ron Burke Stable for the remainder of the year and continued to progress from there. After a win in an overnight and a second in the $49,300 Madison County stake, JK Endofanera closed out his campaign with identical 1:51.4 victories in the $157,000 Elevation Stake at Hoosier Park and the $534,500 Governors Cup at the New Meadowlands. Last year's late bloomer came out swinging this year capturing three consecutive stake victories. Then after finishing third in his elimination, JK Endofanera took the final of the $920,000 North America Cup at Mohawk Raceway and earned a new lifetime record of 1:48.4 after being parked out for the bulk of the mile. Last week in the Meadowlands Pace elimination he quickly eclipsed that mark in a gutty performance, fending off deep stretch charges by Always B Miki and Lyonssomewhere to notch a 1:48.2 victory and position himself as the morning line favorite for the pacing classic. In his career, JK Endofanera is 9 of 13 lifetime with three seconds and one third. 5-2 second choice He's Watching (1:48.1 $461,957) was bred by Brittany Farms, Bob Burgess and Karin Olsson-Burgess and is owned by his trainer, David Menary, along with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. He is a son of American Ideal (1:47.4 $786,055) out of the Real Desire mare, Baberhood (1:55 $7,905). He's Watching was a $3,000 yearling purchase that turned out to be more than anyone could have imagined. Because of his low purchase price, the colt was not staked to anything except the New York Sire Stakes last year, but it was in New York that he made his mark on the sport. He's Watching was a perfect eight for eight during his freshman campaign and his blistering speed led him to be named the Dan Patch two-year-old champion for 2013. He set two world records and six track records during his domination across the state and gained much national attention without ever hitting the Grand Circuit. His freshman seasonal mark of 1.50 was achieved twice; once at Tioga Downs that made him the fastest two-year-old ever on a five-eighth's mile track and once at Vernon Downs, which was a new track record at the 7/8-mile track there. He's Watching then closed the year with an exclamation point when he scorched Yonkers Raceway's half-mile track in a world record tying time of 1:52.2. He's Watching's 2014 debut was less than stellar. Sent off as the 1-9 favorite in the $40,000 Art Rooney elimination at Yonkers, the colt finished a distant sixth in the six horse field. But after suffering his first defeat ever, the wagons were circled and he coasted to a lifetime best 1:49.3 victory in the $69,000 Somebeachsomewhere at Mohawk Raceway in wire to wire fashion. He's Watching had gallant efforts in the North America Cup elimination and final at Mohawk where he got caught in late stretch both times, and was in top form last week as a gapped winner in the Meadowlands Pace elimination in a new lifetime mark of 1:48.1. Tim Tetrick followed live cover from the half before tipping He's Watching three deep around Sometimes Said in mid-stretch to clear for the victory. He's Watching is 10 of 13 lifetime with one second and one third. JK Endofanera and He's Watching will leave from post two and three respectively and both come into the race at the top of their game. They are excellent examples of the quality standardbreds being produced each year in New York State to compete with the best in the world. By Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of NY State     

Sebastian K has taken the harness racing world by storm. Sebastian K turned in the fastest mile in the history in harness racing with an awe inspiring 1:49 victory in the Mohegan Sun Invitational Trot. Previously, Sebastian K had already amazed the harness racing world by becoming the first horse to trot three consecutive sub 1:51 miles. Sebastian K will look to add to his unblemished North American record when he ventures north of the border to race in Maple Leaf Trot Eliminations on Friday at Mohawk.  Ake Svanstedt has established his new training operation by buying a new farm in Wrightstown, New Jersey. He has a stable of 53 horses at his new operation. We recently were able to see his latest star, Your So Vain, winning the first ever Hambletonian Maturity with an uncanny drive to victory over Bee A Magician. His unique training and driving skills has been exposed to the harness racing world Ake Svanstedt dominated harness racing in Sweden for 15 years. His acclaimed record includes four Trainer of the Year and three Driver of the Year Awards in Sweden. One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy HLINK: Congratulations on your world record performance at Pocono Downs. How did Sebastian K come out of the race? AS: He came out great. He is eating well, drinking well and feeling real good. HLINK: Did you decide to go for the world record at Pocono? AS: He warmed up really well. He was doing so well in the race, so I decided to go for it. I was pushing him at the end. HLINK: Is this the best that Sebastian K has ever been? AS: These last two races is the best he has ever been. HLINK: Can anybody beat Sebastian K? AS: He can come out of form or something can happen in a race.  Every race is a new race. HLINK: Your next race is the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk? When will you ship up for that? AS: Hopefully we get out of the elimination and can go right to the final. We will ship the day before. HLINK: What other races are on Sebastian K's schedule? AS: We have a race at Vernon Downs in August, Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park on September 20th and Allerage at Lexington on September 28th. HLINK: Did Sebastian K race without shoes on Saturday at Pocono? AS: Yes he raced without shoes HLINK: What did you think of the track surface at Pocono Downs AS: It is a very nice track. It is one of the fastest we have ever driven on. HLINK: In Sweden you had a stable of over two hundred horses. Your stable now has fifty-three horses. How many horses would you like to have in your stable? AS: We do not want many more. We are very happy with the amount of horses we have now. HLINK: You recently purchased a new horse farm in Wrightstown, New Jersey. Can you tell us about the place? AS: It is a perfect farm. It is a very nice area that is very quiet. It is a 140 acre farm. There is a round and a straight track for conditioning. There is a large paddock with plenty of room. It is a perfect training farm. HLINK: You now have Muscle Network ($324,350 earned last year) in your barn. How is he doing and when will we see him race. AS: He is in a qualifier Saturday. We are looking at the Stanley Dancer at the Meadowlands to race him. He is a really nice horse. He is getting better and better. HLINK: You have a large group of two-year-olds that you will have racing. What can you tell us about them and who is your next star? AS: We have one in Pocono on Friday. We have a couple in the New Jersey Sire Stakes on Friday. We don't go too fast in the qualifiers. We are going to have to see them in the races a few times. It's all about speed these days. You have to see who can keep up with the speed. You don't want to get too high on a horse and then get disappointed. HLINK: Ocean Love Potion was an impressive winner the other day in the Pennsylvania Sire stakes for three-year-old fillies. Please tell us about her progress. AS: She did not do too much as a two-year-old. She was doing very well over the winter. She really surprised us in the race. When she is training she doesn't seem like she is really training. She has a really good head for the races. HLINK: You have some other three-year-olds. AS: Heaven's Door won the Sire Stakes Final. She is a really nice filly that will be in the Hambletonian Oaks. She won her last race and is in next weekend. She is going to the Oaks after that. HLINK: We are all intrigued by your white horse, White Bliss. How is this horse progressing? AS: He is training down. He had some bad colic which put his training back a few weeks. We are in no hurry with him. He will probably start racing in September. HLINK: The other night, Stonebridge Force, and Yannick Gingra's horse Cenapa Hanover, got into a hardball battle on the lead. You parked out Cenapa Hanover and wouldn't let him pass. AS: Yannick horse was bearing out. We had to hold our speed. You don't want to give anything for free. HLINK: Your So Vain Made an impressive move to the top the other night. Tell us about that race? AS: They were going really slow. They were walking. I thought that I better make that move now before someone else does. I wanted to get to the lead and let them catch me. HLINK: Do you train your pacers any different than the trotters? AS: We train them the same as the trotters. HLINK: How is your training methods different than other trainers in America? AS: We train the horses to be really strong. If there are strong they can carry their speed a long way. That is the main thing. HLINK: Tell us about your owners? AS: We have a great bunch of owners. Most of our owners are from Sweden. We encouraged them to come to America and have some success with us. HLINK: You have a horse with Jeff Gural, Blue Muse. How is it to train for him? AS: He is easy to train for. He doesn't ask many questions. He wants to know some info once in a while. He is a great guy to train for. It was an honor to be asked to train horses for Jeff Gural. HLINK: You have been doing some catch driving. How much of that will you be doing? You drove for the Burkes, did they tell you anything? AS: We were driving to get to know the speed of the races and get to know the other drivers. The speed is a little different than Sweden. If we get to drive a good horse, of course we are going to drive him. The Burkes just asked us to drive the horse. HLINK: What do you think of Father Patrick? AS: He is a really nice horse. It is one of the best three-year-olds I have ever seen. HLINK: We have in America rivalries that develop. It is like in hockey when the Flyers play the Rangers. They don't like each other. Do you see a rivalry developing between Jimmy Takter and yourself? AS: No!!! no! no! It's not like that, of course we are competing on the track. It is friendly competition. HLINK: What can we do to make racing in America better and more popular? AS: (Laughter) I don't know. (Laughter). I think we need to get the people more connected with the great horses. We have to promote the sport. We should get the people more connected with the people behind the scene, the trainers and the drivers. HLINK: People are pronouncing your first name many different ways. Some say “Akee” and some say “Okee”…Can you please tell us the correct way? AS: The correct way to say it is “Okee,” but if someone wants to say it different I do not mind. It is difficult to get the proper translation from Swedish to American. We have already seen Ake Svanstedt dominate two divisions of the trotters with Sebastian K and Your So Vain. In the coming months, Ake will be unveiling his stable of acclaimed two-year-old trotters. It will not be a surprise to see Ake produce some more stars for the harness world. Nothing he does the rest of the year will come as a shock. He has already made harness racing history and will be adding to that resume. By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com

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