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MILTON, June 7, 2019 - Records were matched and broken in Friday evening's Armbro Flight harness racing eliminations at Woodbine Mohawk Park. A group of 16 star trotting mares clashed in a pair of $35,000 Armbro Flight eliminations with Ron Burke trainees Atlanta and Hannelore Hanover putting on a show. Superstar Atlanta delivered possibly the easiest-looking Canadian record-equaling performance in recent memory with a dazzling 1:51 victory in the first split. The clocking equaled Hannelore Hanover's record set in the 2016 Armbro Flight. Not one to share the spotlight, Hannelore Hanover went out and broke the record in the second elimination by posting a 1:50.3 mile. The clocking was not only a record for trotting mares, but also the fastest trotting mile in Canadian racing history. The previous record of 1:50.4 was set in 2012 by Mister Herbie. Yannick Gingras steered both mares to the record miles on Friday evening. "I'm going to talk to Ronnie," said Gingras when asked which mare he will select for the final. "It's going to be a team decision, I've got to talk to him and see what he thinks and go from there." In the first elimination, Atlanta circled around Dream Together entering the backstretch to grab command. The four-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven reached the half in a modest :56.4 before ramping things up for the back-half. Atlanta                                --New Image Media Appearing to never break a sweat, Atlanta trotted a :27.2 third-quarter followed by a :26.4 final-quarter to win by 7 ¼ lengths in 1:51. "She was unreal tonight," said Gingras following the victory. "Last week I didn't think she was a hundred percent, but tonight she was definitely back in form. I had a lot left." Gingras felt that Atlanta could've broke the record with ease. "There is no doubt she could've gone in (1):50 really easily. I still think there is room for improvement. I wouldn't be surprised if she goes under (1):50 soon, but we will worry about that when we get there." Plunge Blue Chip finished second, while P L Jill was third. The top-five was completed by Highland Top Hill and Royal Witch. Atlanta is now undefeated in three starts this season with $117,000 earned for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor. The 2018 Hambletonian champion sports impressive career numbers of 15 wins and nearly $1.3 million earned. Atlanta paid $2.20 to win. Hannelore Hanover came into the Armbro Flight elimination as the three-time defending champion. Gingras hustled Hannelore Hanover out to the top, clearing after a :27.2 opening-quarter. The seven-year-old cruised by the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:23.4. In the stretch, Hannelore Hanover trotted home in :26.4, the same final-quarter as Atlanta, to win by 4 ¼ lengths in a historic time of 1:50.3. Top Expectations finished second, while Emoticon Hanover was third. The top-five was completed by Weslynn Dancer and The Erm. "She's back," said Gingras. "She's sound as a dollar right now. She was really sharp in the post-parade, but once she hit the last turn she was trotting real strong and felt like her old self." A winner of over $3 million, Hannelore Hanover has been dominating the aged trotting ranks for several seasons. The daughter of Swan For All came into the elimination off a seventh-place finish in her lone start this season. Her victory Friday gives her 43 for her career. A $2 win ticket on Hannelore Hanover returned $6.50. Sophomore trotters were also in action Friday for the eliminations of the Goodtimes. A group of 18 were split into a pair of $30,000 divisions. Forbidden Trade angled out of the two-hole late for a 1:53.1 victory in the first elimination. Driven by Bob McClure, Forbidden Trade showed early speed to grab the lead and post a :27.2 opening-quarter. Favourite Swandre The Giant moved from third to first in the second-quarter and posted middle-half fractions of :56.2 and 1:26.1. In the stretch, Swandre The Giant put away rivals pressuring on the outside and tried to sprint away. However, McClure angled Forbidden Trade out in the final-eighth and the son of Kadabra responded to clear racetrack by charging up along side and picking off Swandre The Giant to win by a neck. "I didn't have him until the wire," said McClure following the victory. "I figured if I could get to the front he would be coming, and it worked out good. "He grew up a lot, matured a lot and has always been really fast. He got a nice trip and took advantage of it." Smart As Hill, who came first-up in the third-quarter, finished third. The top-five was completed by Super Schissel and Only For Justice. Forbidden Trade was making his second start of the season Friday after finishing second in his season debut. The Blais trainee won seven of 11 starts and earned $300,436 last season to earn an O'Brien Award for owner Determination. A $2 win ticket on Forbidden Trade returned $12.80. Pilot Discretion kept his perfect record alive with a career-best 1:52 mile in the second Goodtimes split. Pilot Discretion                        --New Image Media Driven by Andrew McCarthy, Pilot Discretion was quickly moved out from fourth entering the backstretch but had to spend the next quarter on the outside before finally clearing at a sizzling half of :55.1. The Tony Alagna trained Pilot Discretion wasn't bothered and proceeded to hit three-quarters in 1:24 before trotting home in :28 to secure a 3 ½ lengths score. Southwind Avenger finished second, while Dream Nation was third. Jumpshot and Knight Angel completed the top-five. A son of Muscle Hill, Pilot Discretion is now five for five in his young career. The Alagna trainee was racing for the third time this season and has now earned $41,000 for owners Robert LeBlanc, David Anderson and John Fodera. "He's just been really good this year coming back," said Alagna. "We were so high on the colt last year, but he just wasn't ready to go. We raced him twice at Lexington for experience and had hoped to race him in the Valley Victory and he got sick on us, so we put him away for the year. "He trained back great in Florida this winter. We were high leaving Florida and hoping he would do what he's doing right now. Alagna pegged the Goodtimes as a perfect spot for Pilot Discretion's Grand Circuit debut. "David Anderson owns the colt with Robert LeBlanc and they're from Canada originally and of course in partnership with John Fodera. It's a fun group to have a horse for of this caliber and we thought it would be a great time to try the stakes trail with this horse." A $2 win ticket on Pilot Discretion returned $3.20. The post-position draws for the $256,000 Armbro Flight and $247,000 Goodtimes took place following Friday's eliminations. $256,000 Armbro Flight 1. Royal Witch 2. Weslynn Dancer 3. Hannelore Hanover 4. Atlanta 5. The Erm 6. Top Expectations 7. Highland Top Hill 8. P L Jill 9. Plunge Blue Chip 10. Emoticon Hanover AE: Dream Together   $247,000 Goodtimes 1. Only For Justice 2. Swandre The Giant 3. Pilot Discretion 4. Forbidden Trade 5. Super Schissel 6. Smart As Hill 7. Dream Nation 8. Southwind Avenger 9. Jumpshot 10. Knight Angel AE: Trix And Stone   Replays available at www.YouTube.com/WoodbineReplays (Races 3,5,6,8)   Mark McKelvie Woodbine Entertainment, Mohawk Park Manager, Communications

After a second-place finish in last week's World Driving Championship, U.S. representative Yannick Gingras was left to wonder "what if." But there was no doubt in his mind about the harness racing competition, held at five racetracks across Sweden, and the opportunity to participate. "It was a blast," said Gingras, a two-time Driver of the Year in the U.S. who was making his first appearance in the World Driving Championship. "It was a great experience. I knew I would have fun, that wasn't a question. The question was more about adapting to racing there and learning their system, and I think it was mission accomplished." Gingras had raced in Sweden previously, but only at Solvalla Raceway. The initial two rounds of the WDC, a total of four races, were at Solvalla before the competition visited four other tracks for the remaining 20 races. "It was nice to see all of them," Gingras said. "They were all really nice tracks." Gingras won three races in the WDC and also had three second-place finishes and three thirds. He won the event's final race, but it was not enough to overtake The Netherlands' Rick Ebbinge for the title. Ebbinge collected 199.5 points in the competition, followed by Gingras with 193.5 and Sweden's Ulf Ohlsson with 191.5. Canada's Doug McNair and Norway's Eirik Hoitomt rounded out the top five, which was separated by a total of 12.5 points. "I couldn't win (the championship) going into the last race, so finishing second was actually a home run for me," Gingras said. "Of course, I'm a little disappointed because you start looking back at the competition and you wonder what might have happened if you'd done things differently in some of the races. On the other hand, I won with long shots that maybe other drivers are thinking the same thing too; that if they had done something different, they could have beat me. "I think the competition was really good. It was a great group of guys. We were there to compete, but I made good friendships. All of the guys were really nice guys. Racing wise, I think people were impressed. We didn't do anything crazy, but there was good action throughout all the races. I think people enjoyed it." Drivers from the U.S. have finished in the top three at the WDC in four of the last five editions. In addition to Gingras in 2019, Marcus Miller was third in 2017, Tim Tetrick third in 2015, and Corey Callahan second in 2011. Dave Magee was the most recent U.S. representative to win the championship, in 1995. The World Driving Championship began in 1970 and is now held every two years. The final 2019 WDC standings appear below.   1. Rick Ebbinge (The Netherlands) - 199.5 points 2. Yannick Gingras (USA) - 193.5 3. Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden) - 191.5 4. Doug McNair (Canada) - 189.5 5. Eirik Hoitomt (Norway) - 187 6. Matthew Williamson (New Zealand) - 181.5 7. Mika Forss (Finland) - 177 8. Franck Nivard (France) - 162 9. James MacDonald (Canada/ITA) - 154 10. Michael Nimczyk (Germany) - 151.5 11. Rodney Gatt (Malta) - 142 12. Todd McCarthy (Australia) - 136   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

WILKES-BARRE PA – If you’re The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and on Saturday night you have the world’s fastest two-year-old, the filly Warrawee Ubeaut (1:48.3), among the harness racing entrants in four $30,000 divisions of a Pennsylvania All-Stars race for three-year-olds – what can you do for an encore on Sunday? Here’s the answer – you turn to the Hambletonian-class types, the three-year-old colt trotters, stage three $56,868 divisions of the second preliminary leg of their Pennsylvania Sire Stake, add five more $20,000 divisions of the group’s Stallion Series action, then also card two $30,000 races in the Great Northeast Open Series, one for mare pacers and one for trotters. That’s what you do. The three Sire Stakes races are slotted in races three, five, and eleven, each having seven entrants, and each section has a winner from the first preliminary round, held at The Meadows on May 11. In race three Ginger Tree Skyr is the PaSS winner already, having posted a 1:55 upset at 26-1. Dan Rawlings will come east to drive the Explosive Matter colt for trainer Steven Cook as they begin from post two. Also highly-regarded in this division is Gerry (post six, driver Brian Sears), who broke at The Meadows in his seasonal bow but who won in 1:54.3 last year, and Marseille (post four, driver Åke Svanstedt), a maiden but who comes in for his 2019 debut off a good second in a qualifier. Goes Down Smooth will start from post six in the fifth race for the formidable team of trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras, who will be freshly-returned from the World Driving Championship in Sweden. In addition to winning in 1:54.3 in his PaSS contest at The Meadows, the Muscle Hill gelding won two starts back in the final of the Walner series at The Meadowlands, and he also shows a 1:53.4 victory at the Jersey miler. White Tiger, who won his seasonal debut at The Meadowlands in 1:54.2, could be the major danger, starting from post two for driver David Miller. In the third Sire Stakes cut, Gingras appears to have a good chance to add a second feature tally as he steers the Cantab Hall colt Osterc from post five for trainer Per Engblom. He is undefeated in two starts this year, preceding his 1:55.1 win at The Meadows with a victory in the Dexter Cup at Freehold, and he is also the defending Sire Stakes champion this division. Guaranteed (post two, driver Tim Tetrick) has a 1:53.4 victory at The Meadowlands this year and certainly could contend on his best outing. The Stallion Series events go gateward in races 1, 4, 7, 9, and 12, and they are full of young horses who are developing now – 17 horses in the five races show a win within their last two starts. All three winners in The Meadows StS races are here – Kate’s Massive (race 4), Raceace (race 7), and Lapped By Lindy (race 12); Kate’s Massive may be the most interesting in that he followed his StS win with a victory in the Currier And Ives Trot at The Meadows, and he is luring the winningest driver of all-time, Dave Palone, for an infrequent visit to Pocono. The Great Northeast Open Series has divisional leader Tequila Monday in the mare pace and Crystal Fashion, winner of the Earl Beal Final here in 2018, in that gait’s open event; these two races will be further examined in a release tomorrow, along with the GNOS open pace at Harrah’s Philly earlier on Sunday.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

 Kiwi reinsman Matthew Williamson is within striking distance of the lead in the World Driver's Championship in Sweden after driving a dead heat winner yesterday. Williamson is just four points behind series leader Ulf Ohlsson after the third day of the championships was held at Fornaboda, a day which included a race for cold bloods. Williamson had a second early before he deadheated in the next race with US rep Yannick Gingras, the man who became so well known to Kiwi harness racing fans as the regular pilot of Lazarus last year. "It was a good day and I think I drove pretty well," said Williamson.  "We are getting up the leader board now and probably have a chance. "But none of my horses for tomorrow seem to be near the top of the market so we will have to drive them well. "It has been a wonderful experience, there are some great people here and I am loving getting to know everybody. And we will keep doing our best for the silver fern." Nine out of the competition's 24 races have now been decided, and the next five races will take place at Sundbyholm racetrack in Eskilstuna.   by Michael Guerin   Leaderboard 1.Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden) – 76.5 2. Eirik Hoitomt (Norway) – 74 3. Matthew Williamson (New Zealand) – 72.5 4. Rick Ebbinge (The Netherlands) – 72 5. Mika Forss (Finland) – 67 6. Doug McNair (Canada) – 64.5 T7. Michael Nimczyk (Germany) – 64 T7. Franck Nivard (France) – 64 9. James MacDonald (Canada/ITA) – 62 10. Yannick Gingras (USA) – 61.5 11. Rodney Gatt (Malta) – 58 12. Todd McCarthy (Australia) – 49  

Chester, PA -- Despite being strung out early by rival Top Flight Angel, Crawford Farms Racing's Homicide Hunter ($4.40) had enough energy to fend off a late charge from All Champy in Great Northeast Open Series action on Sunday afternoon (May 19) at Harrah's Philadelphia, taking the day's featured $30,000 trot in 1:52.4. In their first meeting since the 2018 harness racing Breeders Crown, Homicide Hunter (Yannick Gingras) and Top Flight Angel (Marcus Miller) -- one-two in last year's season-ending classic -- threw down immediately from the outset. The pair sprinted well clear of Scirocco Rob (David Miller) on the first turn, and Homicide Hunter battled to force Top Flight Angel into the pocket through a :27 first quarter. After pulling the half back to :56.2, Homicide Hunter again accelerated up the far side, inching away from Top Flight Angel past three-quarters in 1:24.3 but also preparing for the first-over challenge of All Champy (Simon Allard). All Champy, who angled out from fifth at race's midpoint, worked to within a half length of Homicide Hunter at the eighth pole, but could get no closer at any point in the homestretch. Homicide Hunter earned the 40th win of his career by that same half-length margin over All Champy, while even-money choice Top Flight Angel finished third another 2-1/2 lengths in arrears. Ron Burke trains Homicide Hunter, whose 1:48.4 effort at The Red Mile last October is the fastest ever from a trotter. Tim Tetrick, who took the $14,500 pacing sub-feature with Rockeyed Optimist ($2.60, 1:51.1), led all drivers with a grand slam on the 14-race program. The Jackpot Hi-5 carryover eclipsed the $30,000 mark after odds-on choice Crockets Cullen N ($3.80, Larry Stalbaum) won the fifth race and keyed an 8-3-5-4-1 combination which returned $98.90 on a 20-cent ticket. With multiple winners, the jackpot carryover for Wednesday's (May 22) fifth race has increased to $30,463.50. First post for Wednesday's 13-race card is 12:25 p.m. EDT. by James Witherite  Harrah's Philadelphia racing media.

CREAM RIDGE, NJ - May 17, 2019 - On Wednesday, May 15th the SBOANJ and TrotPAC sponsored a successful fundraiser for New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. The event was held at Fair Winds Farm and Hogan Equine Clinic to support his 2019 campaign.   Assembly Speaker Coughlin was greeted by directors from the SBOANJ, TrotPAC trustees, and many horsemen. Mark Mullen led a tour of his Fair Winds Farm breeding facility, while Patricia M. Hogan, VMD gave him a behind the scenes look at Hogan Equine Clinic.   The Meadowlands General Manager Jason Settlemoir and Freehold Raceway's General Manager Howard Burno and Director of Racing Karen Fagliarone were on hand to answer the Speaker's questions about the New Jersey tracks improvements since the appropriations were awarded.   Drivers Yannick Gingras, Andy Miller, and Hall of Famers David Miller and John Campbell, among others, also took time to discuss the Standardbred industry with him. This was his first visit to any New Jersey equine facility, and Speaker Coughlin was able to mingle with the many horsemen and Equine Industry Supporters in attendance before leaving the function.   Photo: Craig Coughlin speaking to Trainer Nancy Johansson.   New Jersey horseman's lobbyist AJ Sabath answered questions and explained how the appropriations would be awarded in the future. He also expressed the importance of our industry providing proof that the funding received has indeed bolstered New Jersey racing.   TrotPAC would like to thank everyone for their contributions and all of those who were able to attend. It is extremely important that we, as an industry, continue to support the various legislators that will be involved with the annual renewal of our appropriation.     Courtney Stafford PR Consultant SBOANJ

CHESTER PA - The Rocknroll Hanover mare Rock N Shard N seems headed for Open company as she won for the third time in her four-race United States career, a 1:51.3 mile over a "sloppy +1" surface in the $17,000 distaff pacing feature during a Friday evening harness racing card at Harrah's Philadelphia. Driver Art Stafford Jr. patiently guided Rock N Shard N on her uncovered grind from sixth while Newsday went to the front and set fractions of :27, :55.4, and 1:23.1. These two were close to being on even terms as they turned for home, but despite the overland journey Rock N Shard N proved the stronger late, two lengths to the good of Newsday, with pocketsitting Ghosttothepost third. The Kiwi mare is another of a long line of successes for trainer Joshua Parker over the last couple of seasons; Parker also owns Rock N Shard N with Nanticoke Racing Inc. and Barry Spedden. There were a pair of $16,000 co-features on the card, one for the distaff sidewheeling set on the "Filly And Mare Friday" card. In that contest, the Captaintreacherous sophomore filly Treacherous Reign proved ready to go from the word "go," taking her 2019 bow in 1:52.2. Driver George Napolitano Jr., a five-time winner on the night, surrendered early control to Stonebridge Soul, but was on the move with the winner past the quarter to reassert command, and Treacherous Reign rocketed home in :54.4 - :27.12 over the off going to be well-clear of Stonebridge Soul at the line for trainer Tony Alagna and the ownership of Alagna Racing LLC, Big Als Stables, Let It Ride Stables Inc., and Mr. Dana Parham. In the co-feature for trotters, the Lucky Chucky mare Lucky Sheila swung wide off of cover late on the far turn, then just had enough to catch pacesetter Spee Club by a neck in a lifetime best 1:56.2. Pat Berry did the driving for trainer Chris Marino and Robert Weinstein. The World's Fastest Trotter, Homicide Hunter (1:48.4 at Lexington last year), drew post one for a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series contest for trotters on Sunday. He has to have better luck than he did last week in his 2019 bow at Pocono, where he drew the outside post eight, tucked in, then got shuffled back and could not enter contention. A better trip seems likely for Homicide Hunter and driver Yannick Gingras in the horse' second trip for trainer Ron Burke, though first leg winner Melady's Money may have something to say about that.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) will have $30,000 events for open-caliber harness racing horses on both gaits this weekend, with the pacers going during a post-Preakness Saturday night program at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and the trotters getting their turn the next afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. The three morning line choices in the GNOS pace will be starting in inverse order from the rail in their Pocono event. Sweet Rock (post three, driver Eric Carlson, 5-2) was second to first-leg GNOS winner Highalator in a 1:48.3 mile at The Meadowlands last week; Dealt A Winner (post two, driver George Napolitano Jr., 3-1) was a close fifth in that race as he rounds into top form; and Rodeo Rock (post one, driver Eric Goodell), gets a big improvement in post as he makes his second start since being second in the Levy Final on April 20. Not to be overlooked, but a bit of an outsider in more than one sense of the word, is the winner of last week's GNOS event at Philly, Tiger Thompson N. The import has won four of his last five races, including his last start when he rode a perfect pocket trip to victory in 1:50.3 over a sloppy track. Driver Pat Berry may need more than a bit of racing luck for his "Tiger," as they start from post six in the field of seven, with an early quotation of 9-2. On Sunday afternoon at Philly, the $1.4M winner Melady's Monet has been named the 2-1 morning line choice, beginning from the track's winningest post position, the five-hole, for driver Jordan Stratton. Melady's Monet won the first leg of the GNOS here in 1:52.4, then took last week off, but this 10-year-old has been known to hold his form for long stretches at a time. He'll need to be on his game, because the next two rated rivals are Top Flight Angel (post three, driver Marcus Miller, 5-2) and Homicide Hunter (post one, Yannick Gingras, 7-2). Top Flight Angel comes in from Yonkers and a second behind Philly divisional track record holder Will Take Charge, while Homicide Hunter, the World's Fastest Trotter by virtue of his 1:48.4 win at Lexington last year, couldn't have had worse luck in his 2019 debut last week, tucking in from post eight, then getting stuck inside and never getting into the flow of the race. An improved race is very likely to result from Homicide Hunter on Sunday afternoon. These two classes, plus the mares open pace, will all have a chance to race for GNOS points next Sunday, May 26, at Philly, as the track presents its three showcase $100,000 Invitationals: the Maxie Lee Open Trot, the Commodore Barry Open Pace, and the Betsy Ross Mares Open Pace. To make that day even more thrilling for race fans, there will be Sire Stakes and Stallion Series action for the best Pennsylvania three-year-old pacing colts mixed into the blockbuster card on the 26th.   Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, in conjunction with The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah’s Philadelphia racetracks Jerry Connors  

New Zealand Bred Tiger Thompson N (Dexter Dunn) defeated Mother Nature and eight other harness racing foes in Sunday's Feature at Harrah's Philadelphia.   It was a Great Northeast Open Series event for male pacers, going for a purse of $30,000.   The Josh Parker trainee was able to sit patiently in the pocket behind the speed of millionaire Filibuster Hanover (Yannick Gingras), who set fractions of :26.3, :55.3, and 1:23.2. Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick), who started from post 8, challenged the leader at the half after finding an early seat.   The battle set up for the fresh legs of Tiger Thompson N, who closed up the passing to win by 3/4 of a length in 1:50.3. He has now won four of his last five races. Filibuster Hanover held second, while Donttellmeagain finished third.   Tiger Thompson N ($16.20) is owned by the group of Nanticoke Racing, Stephen Messick, Prestige Stables, and Trainer Josh Parker.   There were multiple winning tickets in the Jackpot Hi 5, prompting a carryover into Wednesday's fifth race of $26,288.41.     by Mike Bozich for Harrah's Philadelphia

East Rutherford, NJ - Saturday morning qualifiers at The Meadowlands were held under mostly sunny skies (the short sleeved colors made their first appearance of the season), negligible wind and temperatures in the 60's, with the track rated fast as they began at 10:00am. Trotting fillies opened the card with the good pair of Evident Beauty (David Miller) and Beautiful Sin (Yannick Gingras) crossing the wire together in hand, the mile in 1:58.4/28.2. Both were making their second start, Red Mile Grand Circuit winner Evident Beauty appeared flawless for trainer Nifty Norman and owners Mel Hartman, Little E and R A W Equine while Beautiful Sin looked healthy after sustaining a serious tendon laceration that ended her freshman season prematurely. Greenshoe clearly holds great promise with his remarkable speed but often authored his own undoing last season via his anxious temperament. Today was another triumph for the connections as Greenshoe looked more comfortable going to the gate, driver Brian Sears was able to settle the colt in third through slow fractions then got the response he wanted when the colt ground up uncovered and wore down a good colt in Super Schissel (Gingras) through a 27.1 end to a 1:55.1 mile. Great things may well be in store for owner Anders Strom (Courant Inc) and trainer Marcus Melander if they're able to continue to harness the power of the enigmatic Father Patrick colt. Ake Svanstedt unveiled the Swedish star Darling Mearas S this morning as the career winner of over three quarters of a million dollars led at every call then held pocket sitter Pat Matters (Matt Kakley) at bay in hand, the mile in 1:56.1/27.4. Darling Mearas has been made eligible to the top US stakes for mare trotters by owners Snogarps Stable. With a stretch headwind beginning to pick up, The Veteran was a 1:53.4 winner this morning for his new connections, the Paul Kelley Stable. Mark MacDonald held the powerful 4-year-old Muscle Mass horse in third as Manchego (Scott Zeron) set fast fractions while appearing somewhat fresh before rolling off stride on the final bend. Mac Donald has The Veteran marching up uncovered by then and he held off Ice Attracion (Svanstedt) comfortably. Trainer Kelley owns him with SRF Stable, Winske and Michaels. Odds On St Lucie (Matt Krueger) closed nicely to get the 1:54.3/27.4 win today over stable mate Wicked N Wonderful (Dexter Dunn) and Petticoat winner Catch An Ace (D. Miller). Tony Alagna trains the winner for Odds On Racing. Western Joe (Zeron) is making his way back to the wars and took another step forward with a 1:52.2/27.3 win from the pocket this morning over Limelight Beach (D. Miller). He's had two good Q's back now for trainer Chris Choate and owners Anthony Ruggeri & Joe Tosies. Sophomore colt pacers capped the card and Bettors Wish was an impressive out of the pocket winner for Dexter Dunn in 1:52.4/27.3 clearing pacesetter Captain McKee (Tim Tetrick) by a couple at the end. Trainer Chris Ryder owns the sharp Bettor's Delight colt with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm and Ken Solomon. The results are available on the web. Live racing resumes tonight around 7:15 pm.   Nick Salvi

Trois-Rivieres, QC - On Sunday at the Hippodrome 3R, 22-year-old William Roy will make his pari-mutuel debut as a harness racing driver when he drives Buckeye Babe in the sixth race trot. Quebec is known for developing many of the world's greatest drivers and trainers and Roy hopes he too can make a name for himself and for Quebec. A resident of Sorel-Tracy, Roy learned his trade through his father, trainer Guy Roy, and the youngster says he is ready for Sunday's debut. "I'm not really nervous when I think about Sunday," Roy said. "When I do think about the race, I just become really happy and impatient. It's just so exciting and I am ready to race." Involved in harness racing since birth, Roy said he wanted to be just like his father. "Growing up I wanted to become a great trainer like my father," Roy explained. "But he put me in the sulky right away for the experience and I liked it." Growing up in a harness racing family in Quebec, Roy always had his hero drivers to root for and hopefully become as good as when he grew up. "When I was young," Roy explained. "I liked to watch Gill Gendron drive at the old Blue Bonnets Raceway. He was so good and then when that track closed, I started to follow the Green Hornet (Yannick Gingras). He is such a great driver. Now, since his great performances the last few years, I am a big fan of Louis Philippe Roy (no relation)." After attending the Cégep de Sorel-Tracy College, Roy works during the day as a concierge for the city of Sorel-Tracy. He has two horses with his father and co-owner Francis Proux. On Sunday, Roy will start from post position two with Buckeye Babe and they are listed in the morning line at odds of 7/2. "She is a great mare with a winning attitude," Roy said. "She needs to know how to race. She always wants to go hard behind the starting gate with the other horses. We just need to teach her to calm herself behind the gate and she will get better." Buckeye Babe is coming off a long winter layoff and she was impressive in her qualifying race, with Roy driving, finishing second. The four-year-old trotting mare by Manofmanymissions had been prone to making breaks in the past, except when Roy has driven her. We asked Roy does his prefer driving trotters over pacers? "Not especially," Roy explained. "I like pacers better because they go faster, but for the same speed the feeling in the sulky is better with a trotter." Track Notes: There are ten races on Sunday's H3R program with first race post time at 1:00 pm. Driver Stephane Gendron, who exploded on opening day last Sunday winning five of the ten races on the card, is back in action with Mister Big Top in the seventh race Preferred Pace. Last week Mister Big Top stalked the field for Gendron, then closed well in the stretch for the victory. He will face a stiff challenge from post seven against rivals Windsum Cheyenne (post 8) and return winners Surf Report (post 5) and Hooter Shooter (post 6). For more information and a free race program for Sunday, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club

CHESTER PA – The stars of the day Friday at Harrah’s Philadelphia, where three-year-old trotting fillies contested their first preliminary harness racing round in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania Stallion Series, were driver Yannick Gingras, sire Cantab Hall – and a $200,000 yearling, never on the board in seven previous career starts, winning a Sire Stakes section and paying $100.80, or more than the other thirteen winners on the card combined. The longshot special was Hallintheclouds, who wasn’t a longshot on pedigree – sired by Cantab Hall, who added three Stallion Series credits, and out of the Yankee Glide mare Headintheclouds, the dam of the $870G+ winner Barn Girl. And she wasn’t a longshot in the mind of trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt, who sent her to the lead just after a :28 opener, then brought her back uncovered after two horses had passed her to the :57.2 half. Hallintheclouds went right up to favored Magical Beliefs, looked her in the eye to the 1:26.1 three-quarters, and went right on by headstretch, trotting out a 2 1/2 length winner over Firedbylindie, also used early and late, in a new mark of 1:55.4 for Åke Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Fayette AB, and Gabriella’s LLC. Gingras had four trips to the Philly winners circle Friday, including one in the Stallion Series and two in the Sire Stakes. The fastest mile among the sophomore misses was the 1:54 posted in the Sires by the Muscle Hill filly Asiago (also a $200,000 yearling, with My MVP close-up on her dam’s side). Gingras guided her to the early lead, set fractions of :27.3, :57, and 1:24.3, then coasted home four lengths to the good of Matter Of Fact for trainer Per Engblom, and the ownership of Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband, Al Libfeld, and Black Horse Racing. Another Sire Stakes winner for Gingras was the Muscle Massive miss Sonnet Grace, who made her 2019 debut a successful one. The well-bred filly (CR Kay Suzie is her granddam) set fractions of :27.4, :57, and 1:25, then held off the late rush of longshot Personal Pride (Svanstedt -- a foreshadowing of the next division?) by a nose for trainer Ron Burke and the Sonnet Grace Stable. The Possess The Will filly Millies Possesion, unraced at two, is undefeated in two career starts after setting an individual standard of 1:54.4 in the other Sires section. Dexter Dunn patiently worked up to the lead with “Millie” past a :28 opener, then put up middle splits of :57.2 and 1:25.3, after which she still had plenty to be three lengths clear of Jezzys Legacy on the wire for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms LLC. All five Stallion Series winners lowered their marks in victory. The three daughters of Cantab Hall who won were Cant Touch It, a 1:55.3 winner in her seasonal debut while a neck to the good of Swizzle Sticks for driver Scott Zeron, trainer Nancy Johansson, and the partnership of Christina Takter, John Fielding, and Stephen Gordon; Altercation, who withstood Lindy Misssunshine by a neck in 1:56.3 for driver Marcus Miller, trainer Jenny Melander, and the ownership of Melander Racing Inc. Noonan Harness Racing LLC, Clark Stables LLC, and John Devito; and Keystone Abbey, a half length winner over Giant Possession in 1:56.4 for driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Beaver, the latter co-owner with Donald Robertson, Martin Yoder, and R.B.H. Ventures Inc. The Donato Hanover filly American Kronos was sharp in her 2019 bow, winning by three lengths over Matterlei in 1:54.3, fastest of all Stallion Series divisions, and quicker than three of the four Sire Stakes cuts. Yannick Gingras drove for trainer Julie Miller and owners Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, and David Goodrow. The final Stallion Series victress was the Explosive Matter miss Spring In Paris, now five-for-six in 2019 after downing Fashion Rachel by a three length margin in 1:55.1 for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Steve LeBlanc, and Leblanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

Yannick Gingras is looking forward to having a good time when he participates in the World Driving Championship, which will be held May 24-31 in Sweden. But the U.S. harness racing representative knows that for all the fun, it won't take long for his competitive instincts to kick into high gear. "Right around the first race," Gingras said with a laugh. "I'm very competitive. No doubt, I'm not going there to finish second; I want to go there and try to win it. But I want to embrace the whole thing. "I know many of the guys in the competition are really guys that like to win. It's going to be a hard challenge. It's going to be some hard racing, but I'm very much looking forward to it. You've got to have fun also. You want to try to win, but you also want to enjoy the experience." Gingras will be making his first appearance in the World Driving Championship, which was introduced in 1970 and is now held every two years. Twelve drivers from 11 countries are participating in this year's event, which returns to Sweden for the first time since 2001. Canada's James MacDonald is the event's defending champion. Other participants this year are Doug McNair (Canada), Eirik Hoitomt (Norway), Franck Nivard (France), Matthew Williamson (New Zealand), Michael Nimczyk (Germany), Mika Forss (Finland), Rick Ebbinge (Netherlands), Rodney Gatt (Malta), Todd McCarthy (Australia), and Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden). Gingras has raced in Sweden on several occasions during his career. The first leg of the World Driving Championship will be at Solvalla Raceway with three races on May 24 and one race the following day. There will be no races on Elitloppet Day on May 26 at Solvalla. The action resumes May 27 with five races at Lindesbergs Fornaboda followed by five races May 28 at Sundbyholm and five races May 29 at Dalatravet Rattvik. After a one-day break, the champion will be crowned after the final five races at Gavle. "I have many friends in Sweden that we've met over the years," Gingras said. "I love being there. I love the atmosphere; I love the crowds. I think it's going to be a tremendous experience to be able to enjoy it in Sweden. "As far as the racing goes, it doesn't hurt that I've raced there in the past. But you also have to remember there are going to be guys from everywhere, so the style of racing is going to be a little of everything. You just have to go in there open minded and drive the race as it comes. I don't think it's going to be Scandinavian type of racing; I think it's going to be like a free for all, really, in a way. We'll see how it goes." Gingras has led the sport in purses four times in his career and finished no worse than second in each of the past seven years. He was named Driver of the Year in 2014 and 2017 by the U.S. Harness Writers Association and was the organization's Rising Star Award winner in 2003. For his career, Gingras has earned $171 million in purses, a total that ranks eighth in harness racing history, and won 7,153 races. Among his numerous accomplishments, he has captured 21 Breeders Crown trophies, which is No. 6 among all drivers in the history of the event, and was the regular driver of Foiled Again, the sport's all-time richest horse. The 39-year-old Gingras, who moved to the U.S. from Canada in 2001 and has been a resident of New Jersey for 15 years, was selected to represent the U.S. in the World Driving Championship by U.S. Trotting Association President Russell Williams. "Yannick has been an elite, big race driver for the past several years," Williams said. "He is a fan favorite, is always very good with the media, and he will be an excellent representative both on and off the track." Dave Magee was the most recent U.S. representative to win the championship, in 1995. The two other winners representing the U.S. were Ron Pierce in 1989 and Joe Marsh Jr. in 1974. "It's definitely a great honor and something I'm looking forward to," Gingras said about being selected to represent the U.S. "I go into every race the same way; I want to win them all. If I get to (win the championship) it would be a great accomplishment. It would be something I remember the rest of my life." Following is a list of winners of the World Driving Championship. Year-Champion-Nation Represented-Location(s) 2017-James MacDonald-Canada-Canada 2015-Dexter Dunn-New Zealand-Australia 2013-Pierre Vercruysse-France-France 2011-Jody Jamieson-Canada-U.S. 2009-Birger Jorgensen-Denmark-Norway 2007-Christophe Martens-Belgium-Australia/New Zealand 2005-Roberto Andreghetti-Italy-Italy 2003-Mark Jones-New Zealand-Canada 2001-Jody Jamieson-Canada-Finland/Sweden 1999-Sylvain Filion-Canada-Australia 1997-Heinz Werwering-Germany-Germany 1995-Dave Magee-U.S.-U.S. 1993-Heinz Werwering-Germany-Germany/Belgium/France 1991-Maurice McKendry-New Zealand-Australia/New Zealand 1989-Ron Pierce-U.S.-Canada 1987-Ted Demmler-Australia-Sweden/Denmark/Finland/Norway 1985-Anthony (Tony) Herlihy-New Zealand-Australia/New Zealand 1983-Robert Cameron-New Zealand-Macau 1981-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-Norway/Finland/West Germany/Italy 1979-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-Australia/New Zealand 1978-Kevin Holmes-New Zealand-U.S./Canada 1977-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-West Germany/France/Norway 1976-No competition 1975-Keith Addison-Australia-Australia/New Zealand 1974-Joe Marsh Jr.-U.S.-West Germany/Norway/France 1973-Ulf Thoresen-Norway-Austria/France/West Germany/Italy 1972-Guiseppe Guzzinati-Italy-U.S./Canada 1971-Adolf Ubleis-Austria-U.S./Canada 1970-Herve Filion-Canada-U.S./Canada   For more information on the World Driving Championship, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

This Week: W.N. Reynolds Memorial, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night (May 11) will host two harness racing divisions in the $48,500 W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers and two divisions in the $43,600 W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Osterc and driver Yannick Gingras made a three-wide move on the backstretch and overtook leader Cavill Hanover on the final turn on their way to victory in Saturday's (May 4) $118,950 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old trotters at Freehold Raceway. Osterc, the 3-5 favorite, won by 1-1/4 lengths over HL Revadon in 1:57. Skyway Kon Man finished third and Cavill Hanover was fourth. The Dexter Cup is the first stakes race on the road to August's $1 million Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's premier event for 3-year-old trotters. Osterc is eligible to the Hambletonian, as are HL Revadon and Cavill Hanover. "He had plenty of go," Gingras said about Osterc, a 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who was making his seasonal debut. "He got a little bit bumpy going around the last turn, but other than that he was perfect. He had a lot of trot and he got the job done. As far as trot-wise, there were no worries anywhere." Osterc, who started from post six in a field reduced to seven horses by the scratch of Big Money Honey, got away in sixth place as HL Revadon went to the early lead. HL Revadon yielded the top spot to Cavill Hanover as the leaders reached the quarter-mile point in :28.2. Cavill Hanover continued to lead through a half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:27.3. Osterc, who began his move to the front just prior to the midway point and flushed the cover of Dexter Cup elimination winner Whirl Winds K, trotted the final quarter-mile in :29.1 to win for the sixth time in eight career starts. Osterc is trained by Per Engblom, who is in his first year with his own stable after spending the past six years as Jimmy Takter's top assistant. The Dexter Cup was Engblom's first stakes victory. He trains the colt, a son of Cantab Hall out of Oh Oh Hereshecomes who has earned $285,876 lifetime, for breeder-owners Christina Takter and Goran Falk. "That was nice, very nice," Engblom said. "Coming off the last turn Yannick said he hit the wheel and was close to making a break, but he had plenty of trot, so that was a good feeling. I was sure he had enough power, it was just a question of keeping him flat." Osterc paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.40. One race prior to the Dexter, Gingras captured the $66,000 Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old female trotters with 6-5 favorite Magical Beliefs. The filly, trained by Linda Toscano, won by a half-length over Cardinale in 1:57.4 with Golden Tricks finishing third. Magical Beliefs, a daughter of Cantab Hall out of Frisky Magic who was making her seasonal debut, is owned by Highland Green Farms, South Mountain Stables, and R-And-I Farms. She has won five of 11 career races and earned $201,989. Magical Beliefs, who is not eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks, paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.40. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 158; 2. George Brennan - 100; 3. Jason Bartlett - 87; 4. Scott Zeron - 82; 5. Daniel Dube - 77. Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. - 122; 2. Rene Allard - 77; 3. Ron Burke - 58; 4. Richard Banca - 51; 5. Erv Miller - 50. Owners: 1. Jo Ann Looney-King - 45; 2. Tim Tetrick LLC - 41.5; 3. D R Van Witzenburg - 40; 4. Robert Cooper Stables - 39.1; 5. Royal Wire Products - 37. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action resumes on May 18 at The Meadowlands Racetrack with the first leg of the Graduate for 4-year-old open trotters and at Yonkers Raceway with eliminations in the Art Rooney for 3-year-old open pacers and the Lismore for 3-year-old filly pacers.   by Paul Ramlow Internet News Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Osterc will take his first steps on the Hambletonian trail Saturday (May 4) when he faces seven foes in the $118,950 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old male trotters at Freehold Raceway. Osterc, last season's Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, is making his 2019 harness racing debut after sitting out last week's Dexter elimination thanks to a bye he received for being the field's top money-earner. The Dexter Cup is the traditional first stakes race on the road to August's $1 million Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters. Osterc is among five Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the final, along with elimination winner Whirl Winds K, Cavill Hanover, HL Revadon, and Jason's Camden. Osterc will start the Dexter Cup from post No. 6 on Freehold's half-mile oval. Yannick Gingras will drive the colt for trainer Per Engblom and breeder-owners Christina Takter and Goran Falk. Osterc qualified twice ahead of Saturday's start, winning in 1:55 on April 6 at The Meadowlands and finishing second behind pacer Albergo Hanover on April 19 at Freehold. Osterc was timed in 1:56.4. "I was very pleased with that last qualifier," Engblom said. "He was plugs in and strong in that mile. I'm hoping he can go forward from there." Osterc, a son of Cantab Hall-Oh Oh Hereshecomes, won five of seven races last year and earned $226,401. Four of his victories came in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes series, including the final. The remaining win came in a conditioned race. Engblom said he decided to accept the bye and skip the Dexter elimination in the hopes of keeping Osterc fresh through the year. He has the first leg of the sire stakes on May 11. "This is just the beginning of the season," he said. "I'm hoping he is going to have a good season; I don't want to burn him out. We're going to start out in Pennsylvania and if he's good enough he has the Grand Circuit. "I'm very happy with the way he came back. He's going to make some money this year and hopefully we can get a little bit of luck down the road too. He's coming back a little stronger than I anticipated. He doesn't have the greatest of gaits maybe, but he is very honest and gives you what he's got. His two qualifiers were very good. Let's hope that's a good sign for this week." Whirl Winds K, who won the Dexter elimination by a nose over Cavill Hanover, will start the final from post four with George Brennan in the sulky for trainer Rich Gillock. The colt is owned by breeder Bob Key. He has won four of 13 career races and earned $54,965. Two of the victories came last year when Whirl Winds K was limited to four starts. "He had a few little issues and it just took a little while to get him squared away," Gillock said. "Before you knew it, it got to be October before he was able to keep going forward. "He's a nice horse, he just has to get a little better so he can go and be competitive in the bigger races. Hopefully he will. He's got a great attitude about him, so that's a big factor." Saturday's card at Freehold also includes the $66,000 Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old female trotters. The race attracted a field of nine, including Hambletonian Oaks eligibles Rush Lane, Golden Tricks, and Presto Change O. The remainder of the group is Cardinale, Big Weezy, Magical Beliefs, Meadowbranch Vicki, Matterlei, and Atonement. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Freehold. The Dexter Cup is race 10 and will be preceded by the Lady Suffolk. For the day's complete entries, click here. Following is the field for the $118,950 Dexter Cup. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Cotton To You-Andrew McCarthy-Lucas Wallin 2-HL Revadon-Dexter Dunn-Harry Landy 3-Jason's Camden-Andy Miller-Julie Miller 4-Whirl Winds K-George Brennan-Rich Gillock 5-Cavill Hanover-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt 6-Osterc-Yannick Gingras-Per Engblom 7-Big Money Honey-Joe Bongiorno-Travis Alexander 8-Skyway Kon Man-Trond Smedshammer-Trond Smedshammer Hambletonian eligible: HL Revadon, Jason's Camden, Whirl Winds K, Cavill Hanover, Osterc.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Trenton, NJ — Survey says…Final Claim! It was a one-man survey given to harness racing driver Yannick Gingras, who has driven both Final Claim and Goes Down Smooth in the Walner Series for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadowlands, but who had to make a choice between them for Saturday’s (April 27) $54,500 final. They are two of three Ron Burke-trained horses in the final (along with Cheap Tricks) and both are eligible to the Hambletonian. Final Claim is the 5-2 morning-line favorite, starting from post one. Goes Down Smooth, with Tim Tetrick in the sulky, is 3-1 from post two. Asked how he came to his decision, Gingras said, “I mean, I think they’re both really good, I think (Final Claim) right now is maybe a little stronger. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if the other horse wins it too. It was not an easy decision. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with what one you think, but it’s not always right. We’ll see how that works out.” Either way, it was a nice choice to have. “No doubt about that,” Gingras said. “It’s easier to pick from the two favorites than the two longest shots.” One thing that tipped the decision Final Claim’s way was his April 19 victory in his second of two Walner Series starts. He won by 6-3/4 lengths in 1:52.4, with a snappy last quarter-mile of :26.2. His win time is the fastest mile of the year by a 3-year-old trotter. “He was very good, he won fairly easy, he did what he had to do, so I’ve got to be happy with that,” Gingras said. “And he had some left, so that’s the good part. It definitely made a difference and was part of the reason I did pick him. “I do think both of them had something left. Goes Down Smooth wasn’t tired either the last time I raced him. But Final Claim was very good in that series. A couple starts before that I picked the other one, but changed my mind and decided Final Claim was the way to go.” Both horses had disappointing 2-year-old seasons for Burke, who was expecting strong years from each. They came back having to prove themselves and are doing just that. Last year, Final Claim had just one win but has gone 3-for-3 this season. Gingras drove Final Claim only three times last season, all in qualifiers before making his debut, and the horse went off stride each time. Once his campaign began, Final Claim went off stride six times in 10 starts, often when on the lead. “He was always fast last year,” Gingras said. “If you look at his lines, he was making breaks, but he was making breaks in the stretch. He wasn’t making breaks because he was tired, it was immaturity. He wasn’t ready to handle the speed he was going. He was a little dicey at times, a couple little issues. It’s mostly the reason why he was making those breaks. It’s not like he was sitting in the back and didn’t have the ability to do it. He just wasn’t ready for it. “This year he’s a little bit more mature and he’s able to handle it a little bit better. Sometimes that’s all they need.” There are still a few issues, but Final Claim is getting there. “If you watch him go you can tell he’s not 100 percent perfect yet either,” Gingras said. “He’s not bullet proof, he’s not exactly where we want him to be. But so far this year he’s able to behave enough to not make breaks. You just have to watch him; but he’s able to do it.” One of the nicer aspects of Final Claim is that Gingras has his choice of how to drive him, depending on the competition and situation. “It really doesn’t matter with him,” he said. “He’s been on the front the first couple weeks. Last time he sat third, he was really nice and easy, and let me do what I wanted to do. I pulled him around the five-eighths (point) and it was no worry at all. He doesn’t have a certain trip he needs, or nothing like that. I think he can race any which way.” Much like Final Claim, Goes Down Smooth has emerged after a tough rookie year. The horse was 0-for-9 last season but has won two out of three starts thus far in 2019. “He had ability too,” Gingras said. “A lot of time that’s what it is with these trotters, he just wasn’t really fully mature yet. I don’t think he has the ceiling that Final Claim has. Final Claim is bigger and stronger, and I think he does have maybe a higher ceiling than Goes Down Smooth. “But Goes Down Smooth was a little easier to handle last year. So far this year he’s been good as well. The time he made a break was more my fault than his. I got him to the gate a little too quick and that’s what really hurt him. But I think he’ll be just fine Saturday night.” Although he has been good to drive, Goes Down Smooth can also be a bit challenging at this juncture. Goes Down Smooth was 0-for-9 last season but has won two out of three starts thus far in 2019.  “He was a little harder to handle last week, he was a little grabby,” Gingras said. “I wish he relaxed a little more for me, but he didn’t. He might need a certain trip. I definitely think he can sit in a hole, but I think if he gets jammed up too much I’m not sure how he’ll like that. Final Claim right now might be a little easier to drive.” In looking at the two horses’ prospects for scaling the stakes ladder to Hambletonian Heaven, Gingras feels the horse he’s driving Saturday may have the better chance. “It’s big shoes to fill and let’s be honest, I think it’s not going to be that easy to go up and stuff,” he said. “Yes, it’s impressive the miles that they’re going right now; but some of these 3-year-olds did that last year. I do think Final Claim is the one that has a shot. He has that tremendous ability. I believe if one of the two does it, he’s the one who has a shot to go further. “But then again, horses make liars out of you. You never know how that goes.” Saturday’s card at the Meadowlands also includes the $58,500 Wiggle It Jiggleit Series final for 3-year-old male pacers. Respect Our Flag is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for driver Joe Bongiorno and trainer Jennifer Bongiorno. In addition, the Mr Muscleman Series for trotters gets underway with a field that includes 2015 Trotter of the Year Pinkman, Trolley, Ice Attraction, Yes Mickey, and Top Flight Angel as well as the opener of the Golden Receiver Series for pacers, where Donttellmeagain and Dealt A Winner make their seasonal debuts. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m (EDT). For complete entries, click here. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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