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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

Artic Byrd (Art Major-Tundra Bird) rallied past the heavily favored De Vin Girl to score a win in the $8,000 feature race at Vernon Downs on Thursday night.   De Vin Girl (Rick Plano) was sent off at 1-9 by the bettors and led throughout the first three-quarters of a mile, setting solid fractions of 26.4 for the quarter, 55.1 for the half, and 1:23.4 for three-quarters. However, Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) managed to stay right with De Vin Girl during the early part of the race and was in prime position to overtake the leader as the field entered the stretch.   Artic Byrd produced a sustained drive through the stretch and made the lead with an eighth of a mile remaining, eventually winning in a final time of 1:52. Artic Byrd now has a two-race win streak at Vernon Downs. She is owned by Donn Lewandrowski and Gail Farrell of Poland, New York. Truman Gale doubles as the trainer. The complete order of finish was: Artic Byrd, De Vins Girl, Upfront Secret, Always Flash-n, and Asset Management.   The win in the feature race was part of an excellent start to the program for driver Truman Gale. He won the first race with Campanile Hanover in gate-to-wire fashion in 1:52.4 and followed that with the win in the feature. Gale then completed the hat trick with favored Blue Skies Craze in the third race, winning in 2:00.1. Jimmy Whittemore also picked up a win on Thursday night with That's My Dream in the sixth race to continue his march to 1,000 lifetime victories. Whittemore currently has 994 wins for his career.   Live racing will continue at Vernon Downs on Friday night with a 9-race program. The eighth race is the $9,000 feature race, an Open I Trot. The 5-2 morning line favorite is A Penny Earned, who is trying to earn his fourth win of the season at Vernon Downs and his second in a row after winning on July 5. Post time is 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs  

This Saturday’s Meadowlands Pace will kick off the “30 out of 30” Grand Circuit Challenge, which provides fans the opportunity to win a $1 million prize if they can pick the winners of 30 designated top races during this year’s racing season.   Contestants can enter immediately at www.harnessracingambassadors.com/million_dollar_challenge where they will find specific details of the contest, rules and access information about each race.   Participants will be provided with Track Master Platinum Plus Past Performances, as well as ‘pro-picks’ and race analysis from featured handicappers.   Aside from the grand prize for a ‘perfect 30,’ there are also prizes for the top four contestants who picked most correctly. Sign-up generally takes less than five minutes and all that is required is a valid email address.   The contest features key Grand Circuit races, including the Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown at leading tracks in North America, including Mohawk, The Meadows, The Meadowlands, Hoosier Park, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Northfield Park, Saratoga, Delaware (OH), The Red Mile, Scioto Downs, Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Yonkers and Maywood Park.   The Harness Racing FanZone is brought to you by the USTA and our partners at Converseon as part of the ongoing social media initiative to build awareness and promote the great sport of harness racing.   To find out more visit http://www.harnessracingfanzone.com/ or join the Ambassadors at http://www.harnessracingambassadors.com/.   GET IN THE ZONE   The Harness Racing Fan Zone is for you…the fans. It’s the place to be for seeing, sharing, and connecting with harness racing fans around the world. So get in on the action and get in the zone.   Want to help promote harness racing? Earn exciting rewards and access offers by helping to spread the word about your passion for harness racing through social media by joining the Harness Racing Ambassador Program. You can join here, it takes less than five minutes.

ANDERSON, Ind.-July 8, 2014 - Hoosier Park Racing & Casino has recently partnered with The Harness Racing Fan Zone, an industry wide social media initiative, and is excited to announce a new "30 out of 30" Grand Circuit Challenge, which provides fans the opportunity to win a $1 million prize if they can pick the winners of 30 designated top races during this year's racing season. The first of its' kind in the sport of harness racing, this unique handicapping contest is sponsored by the United States Trotting Association and will highlight the biggest harness races across North America. Hoosier Park's signature event, the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational, will be included in the "30 out of 30" contest and will highlight the 2014 racing season on Friday, August 8. Now in its' 21st edition, the Dan Patch Invitational pace attracts the top rated horses in North America to Hoosier Park's seven-eighths mile oval seeking the lucrative $200,000 purse and a spot in Hoosier Park's history. The contest also features key Grand Circuit races, including the Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown at leading tracks in North America, including Mohawk, The Meadows, The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Northfield Park, Saratoga, Delaware (OH), The Red Mile, Scioto Downs, Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Yonkers and Maywood Park. "This contest is designed in the spirit of one of harness racing's most treasured traditions, the Grand Circuit," said John Campbell, president of the Grand Circuit. "The Grand Circuit has always been a traveling roadshow to success and riches for horsemen and horses alike," added Campbell. "This contest now allows fans to come along and participate, while having the chance to become a millionaire in the process." For those who miss a race and don't qualify for the $1 million grand prize, there are $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 second, third and fourth prizes available for those who choose the most correctly. Each week, entries will be posted online to give fans the opportunity to pick the winners in advance of each race. A leaderboard will help all entrants track their progress so that they can play along throughout the racing season. Fans can also participate in the optional Harness Racing Ambassador program, to connect with other fans, earn rewards and share their experiences through social media. All sign-ups for the $1 million prize must be received before noon on July 12, 2014 and are limited to one per person. Contestants can enter immediately at www.harnessracingambassadors.com/million_dollar_challenge where they will find specific details of the contest, rules and access information about each race. Participants will be provided with Track Master Platinum Plus Past Performances, as well as 'pro-picks' and race analysis from featured handicappers. The Harness Racing FanZone is brought to you by the USTA and their partners at Converseon as part of the ongoing social media initiative to build awareness and promote the great sport of harness racing. To find out more about this initiative please visit www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com or join the Ambassadors at www.HarnessRacingAmbassadors.com. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- There's another bull's eye on a Buffalo Raceway track record on Wednesday night when the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters take dead aim at the 2:01.2 mark set by Timothy Patrick (2012) and The Lindy Treaty (2013).   With this classification's time either broke or tied the past two seasons, a new mark could easily be established. There's been a total of five standards either tied or broken at Buffalo Raceway this season. There's total of 30 talented freshmen trotters that are entered in the the four $27,250 division, all ready to take their best shot. For most, this will be their first 'real' start.   Lucky Chucky has sired eight of the entrants while Conway Hall is next with seven, RC Royalty six, Crazed five, Credit Winner three and Cash Hall one.   The first division will go off as the second race with Royal Conway (RC Royalty-Miss Conway) scoring from the two post as the 5-2 favorite with Gates Brunet in the sulky. Royal Conway registered a 1:58.2 qualifier at Vernon Downs on June 27.   The main threat could come from Lucky Ten K (Lucky Chucky-Promising Deal) who gets the services of Chris Lems out of the six spot. Lucky Ten K has a 2:00 and a 2:00.3 qualifier under his belt at Vernon and is the 3-1 second choice.   In the second division, set as the third race, Azucar (Crazed-Lindy Loves Candy) has a pari-mutual win already after scoring a two-length victory at Vernon Downs in 1:58.1. He'll start from the six post for Brunet and open at 3-1 odds.   The morning line favorite, however, is Wings Of Royalty (RC Royalty-Sparkling Cider) at 5-2. He gets the seven post for Lems. Wings Of Royalty opened with a 2:02.2 qualifier then sprung a 1:59.1 time over the Vernon Downs surface.   It could be a battle from the inside posts in the third leg, scheduled as the fifth race. Drinksforthehouse (Conway Hall-Pacific Photo) gets the garden spot and Lems. He enters as the 5-2 morning line choice thanks to a 1:58.4 qualifier at Vernon Downs.   He'll be challenged from the inside by Four Buck Chuck (Lucky Chucky-Bama Hall) who has Doug McNair in the bike. Four Buck Chuck has a 2:03.4 clocking in a qualifier over the 7/8-mile Mohawk Raceway Track. He's listed at 3-1.   Habitat (Conway Hall-Habit's Best) has been sensational over the Gaitway Farm's mile track, producing times of 1:58.1 and 1:59.4, winning his two qualifiers by a combined 33 lengths. He'll have Jim Morrill Jr. at the controls and is the 5-2 morning line selection.   Mambo Blue Chip (Lucky Chucky-Flirty Two) arrives from the Meadowlands with miles of 2:01 and 2:03. He'll begin out of the four post at 3-1 for Jeff Gregory.   While Morrill Jr. is listed on just one favorite in the four Sires Stakes races, be very aware of him. He's been in 40 races thus far in the Sire Stakes with 15 victories. He's been in the money another 14 times and has earned $463,493, far and away the best among all drivers.   Looking at his Excelsior Series statistics, Morrill Jr. has been in 64 races and has won 18 of them and has been in the money 27 other times.   His seasonal totals at Buffalo Raceway are astounding as well with 66 starts, 25 victories and has been in the money 71 percent of the time with $257,463 in winnings.   There will be a non-betting $6,300 Excelsior Series B races at 4:40 p.m. while a pair of $12,500 Excelsior Series A races will be sprinkled in the regular 12-race card that gets underway at 5 p.m.   For more information, including upcoming promotions, news, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

The Sunday card at Vernon Downs featured a wild six-horse photo finish in the fifth race. The photo ended up being won by Steuben Ruthless, sent off at 9-1 and driven by Rick Plano. R Blue Moon Rising was second and Team Edward finished third. There was a dead heat for the fourth position between the favorite, Market Force, and Willies Big Mac. Dragon's Breath finished off the photo in sixth. The win was the second straight for Steuben Ruthless at Vernon Downs. The final time was 1:54.2, credited to each of the horses in the photo. Steuben Ruthless is owned by David Fisher of Vernon, New York, and trained by Mary Fisher. The 1-4 favorite, Tell Us More (Tell All-Liberated Leah), scored a convincing win in the $8,000 feature race at Vernon Downs on Sunday afternoon. Tell Us More (Roman Lopez) moved into the lead entering the first turn and ended up leading at every quarter mile mark. The fractions were very solid, 27 seconds for the quarter, 56.2 for the half, 1:24.3 for three quarters, and a final time of 1:52. Gallic Warrior (Rick Plano) finished second after sitting third throughout the early stages. You Bet Your Glass (Frank Davis) made a nice first-over move entering the final turn, but ended up getting caught outside through the stretch and had to settle for third. The complete order of finish was: Tell Us More, Gallic Warrior, You Bet Your Glass, Some Or Lis, Donna's Scape, Firethorn. Buckeye Baddler was a scratch (lame). Tell Us More is owned by Michael Casalino Jr. of Freehold, New Jersey and trained by Jordan Hope.   Driver Jimmy Whittemore continues to close in on milestone win 1,000. He had two winners on the Sunday program at Vernon Downs to increase his career win total to 993. Whittemore won the second race with Party With Artie and the sixth race with I Do Hanover.   Live racing resumes on Thursday night at Vernon Downs with a 9-race program. Post time will be 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity  

July 7, 2014 - Handicapper Brandon Valvo joined the Ake Svandstedt Fan Club this week and as a result stretched his lead 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 showing a weekly net profit of $810 (overall net profit of $2,309.50) and increasing his lead over second place Mark McKelvie by over 200% to lead by $1,641,50, Following closely behind was Ray Garnett, whose weekly net profit of $673.50 propelled him from 5th to 3rd place. The two handicappers led a group of six handicappers who showed a positive return for the week. After sixteen legs of the contest, only a quartet of handicappers is showing a positive return to date. Valvo managed to earn his weekly profit with a $50 WPS (total of $150) ticket on Your So Vain which earned the astute handicapper a $665 dividend. In addition, Valvo played a $10 Exacta 3-horse box ($60) which coupled Your So Vain with Bee A Magician to return $355. As for Garnett, his success for the week can be attributed to a $2 Trifecta box of five horses ($120) which returned $735.80 and a four horse $5 Exacta box ($60) which paid $177.50. Other handicappers with key plays were Gordon Waterstone whose $10 Exacta Wheel of Your So Vain ($130) returned a generous $355 and Bob Zanakis, whose $35 Win, Place ticket paid $399. As of July 5, 2014 - Leg 16 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Brandon Valvo $810.00 $2,309.50   2nd Mark McKelvie ($250.00) $668.00 $1,641.50 3rd Ray Garnett $673.30 $509.35 $1,800.15 4th Derick Giwner $73.60 $395.17 $1,914.33 5th Bob Zanakis $149.00 ($69.50) $2,379.00 6th Earl Paulson ($150.00) ($118.50) $2,428.00 7th Brian McEvoy $75.00 ($217.50) $2,527.00 8th Gordon Waterstone $118.00 ($555.90) $2,865.40 9th Sally Hinckley ($180.00) ($573.00) $2,882.50 10th Josi Verlingieri ($244.00) ($983.75) $3,293.25 11th Dennis O'Hara ($246.00) ($1,488.20) $3,797.70 12th Garnet Barnsdale ($250.00) ($1,588.00) $3,897.50 13th Ann Stepien ($250.00) ($1,709.00) $4,018.50 14th Rusty Nash ($240.00) ($1,872.40) $4,181.90 15th Ray Cotolo ($250.00) ($3,101.40) $5,410.90      The Grand Circuit Shoot-Out kicks into overdrive this Saturday, July 12 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment with the running of the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace (3yo Open pace), $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee (3yo filly pace), $312,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial (3yo Open trot), $211,000 Del Miller Memorial Trot (3yo filly trot), $463,300 William R. Haughton Memorial FFA (pace), $183,450 Golden Girls (FFA Mares pace), and potentially the $50,000 TVG FFA Trot if the race goes. By Allan Schott

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