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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

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As the leading harness racing driver at the Meadowlands, Yannick Gingras has had his share of big nights at the mile oval, and Saturday at the Big M was just another of many for the 39-year-old, who scored four times on the 13-race program, among them the featured conditioned pace. Seeing Eye Single, a 4-year-old gelded son of Dragon Again-Shabalabadingdong, overcame post 10 and lowered his previous lifetime best by one-and-one-fifth seconds after stopping the clock in 1:49.3 in the event for non-winners of $17,500 in their last five starts. Gingras had Seeing Eye Single on the go from the start, following Captain Deo (who led at the quarter in :27) before clearing the lead just after the first split. A rated second fraction of :28.2 would follow before pressure would come from Stonedust, who was inching his way closer to the leader while first-over at three-quarters. Seeing Eye Single shrugged off that challenger to get some separation at the head of the stretch before holding sway to the wire, finishing a length in front of the pocket-sitting Captain Deo. Rough Odds was third with Penzance Hanover fourth. K Ryan Bluechip, the 4-5 favorite, was in a fourth-over flow before closing well to be a non-threatening fifth. Seeing Eye Single returned $6.00 as the second choice in the wagering, and in the process upped his resume to 11 wins from 28 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $359,926 for owners Burke Racing, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Larry Karr and Weaver Bruscemi. "He was strong and won fairly easily," said Gingras of the Ron Burke trainee who sprinted his final quarter in :26. "He loves the big track." Gingras' other wins came with McRaven (first race, $8.20, 1:52.3), All It Takes (third, $6.00, 1:52) and Always A Diamond (sixth, $8.20, 1:52.1). BETTING TOPS $3 MILLION: For the seventh time in 2019, wagering at the Meadowlands exceeded $3 million, as a total of $3,046,148 was pushed through the windows. Race eight saw $341,302 in action, and the ever-popular 50-Cent Pick-4 served as the catalyst with a pool of $116,859. A LITTLE MORE: It was huge day for Austin Siegelman. Monticello Raceway's leading driver took his act on the road Saturday and piled up the victories. After winning five times during the day at Freehold, Siegelman then won three more under the lights at the Big M. ... Players who don't like chalk are loving life of late at the Meadowlands. Over the last four programs, favorites have gone nine-for-52, good (or bad, based on your preference) for a minuscule win percentage of 17. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Historically, the Meadowlands is a track where a horse can win from well off the pace, but Alotbettor N took that to an extreme in taking the featured high-range conditioned pace at the Big M harness racing on Saturday night. Bushwacker, the 9-2 third choice in the wagering, was on the point from the start to the head of the stretch, but nearing three-quarters there was a live flow coming after the leader, with the train being led by 2-1 favorite, Dover Downs shipper Penzance Hanover. Driver Vinny Ginsburg had Alotbettor N in the flow but had much to do since he was seventh in the eight-horse field with a quarter-mile to go racing fourth over. The duo proved up to the task. Ginsburg steered Alotbettor N to the outside for the stretch drive and the pair fired home in :27 to record a half-length win over McThriller. Stonedust finished third. "Alotbettor is such an honest horse," said winning trainer Jenn Bongiorno. "And he absolutely loves it when we bring him back to the Big M. I wasn't surprised at all how he won the race because I know he loves to come from off the pace and never gives up." Alotbettor N returned $16.60 to win as the fifth choice in the wagering after completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:49.3. For his career, the 8-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight-Falcons Flybye has won 25-of-88 starts and banked $259,415 for owners Joe Bongiorno, Howard Taylor and Thomas Lazzaro. On the driving side of things, Yannick Gingras had what for him is a typical night at the salt mine, visiting the winner's circle four times on the 13-race program. Gingras scored with McClinchie N ($3.80 to win as the favorite) in 1:51.3 in the first race conditioned pace, Blacklight ($3.80 as the favorite) in 1:52.2 in the fourth race for pacers who were non-winners of two, Spaghetti Eddie ($9.20 as the third choice) in 1:51.3 in the 11th race conditioned pace before capping his night off with U F Rockin Dragon ($4.40 as the favorite) in 1:52.1 in the 12th race conditioned pace. A LITTLE MORE: One lucky simulcast player betting into the Catskills hub was the holder of the only ticket that lasted six legs in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and was rewarded with a payout of $14,376. ... Ginsburg, Andy Miller and Dexter Dunn all had driving doubles while Nick Surick trained a pair of winners. ... The 50-Cent Pick-4 pool saw $108,946 in bets. Those who had 28-1 shot Mach N Cheese in the first leg and then went on to cash collected a hefty $3,874. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,782,432. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

CHESTER PA - A pair of $16,000 contests for developing younger harness racing horses, one on each gait, were the headliners at Harrah's Philadelphia on a dank Friday afternoon. In the pacing co-feature, which was for mares, War Crimes came home in 55.3, moving from third off the second turn to the lead at the 5/8 and running off to a 4 ½ length victory in 1:53.1. Josh Green conditions the winner of three straight and 7 of 12 starts lifetime for Green Racing Inc. And speaking of "running off," that's exactly what driver Tim Tetrick did after his fourth visit to Harrah's winners circle on the program, going on the dead run in an effort to meet transportation to reach his scheduled commitment in the first race at Yonkers tonight. In the trot, the developing Wishing Stone gelding You Need Stones won his second straight contest, and 11th in 36 career starts, by fronting his field and then holding off the late charge of Northern Credit by a length in 1:56. The winner, owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Lawrence Carr, and Phil Collura, gave the teaming of driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke its second winner of the afternoon - Gingras had three sulky successes in total on the card, as did Tony Morgan. In the $14,500 top event for fast-class mare pacers, Ella Christina pulled off a rarity at the still-young Harrah's meet - she came off of cover to overhaul the favored pacesetter Slick Artist A in 1:53.3. Tim Tetrick tipped the daughter of Western Ideal three-deep late on the far turn, and she built enough of a head of steam to outclose the chalk by two lengths for Louis Willinger, William Daggett Jr., Lawrence Vukovich, and the J L Benson Stables Inc. The win also gave Nick Surick his second training triumph of the day - he leads Burke by a 7-5 score in the early going here, not quite the 57-win lead over the #2 trainer Surick enjoys at his Freehold base.     PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

Pinkman, who won the 2015 Hambletonian on his way to being named Trotter of the Year, is ready for a new season and trainer Per Engblom is optimistic that "the old man" is poised for a solid harness racing campaign. The 7-year-old gelding makes his seasonal debut Friday (April 5) in the preferred handicap trot at The Meadowlands, which could be the first of two preps for Pinkman ahead of May's Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Big M. For the past several years, Pinkman has been troubled by chronic throat and breathing issues; he made a total of only 14 starts at ages 4 and 5. Last year, he enjoyed his healthiest campaign since age 3 and equaled his career high for starts with 17. Pinkman heads to Friday's race off a 1:54.2 win in a qualifier at the Meadowlands on March 30. He starts from post six in an eight-horse field and is 5-1 on the morning line with Yannick Gingras in the sulky. Sutton, with Andy Miller driving for trainer Julie Miller, is the 5-2 favorite. "The old man is doing good," Engblom said about Pinkman. "He had a good winter, actually a little bit better winter than he's had the last couple years. We didn't miss any training with him. He's been staying healthy, he's been breathing well, and he qualified great. "You have to take him for what he is. He's an older horse and you can't really push him. But if he's feeling well, he will give you what he's got." Engblom is well acquainted with Pinkman. A native of Sweden, Engblom is in his first year running his own stable in the U.S. following six seasons as the top assistant in Jimmy Takter's stable, where Pinkman has spent his career. Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter out of Margie Seelster, has won 19 of 56 career races and earned $2.73 million for owners Christina Takter, brothers John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. He was a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3 and counts the Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, and Beal and Zweig memorials among his victories in addition to the Hambletonian. Despite his health woes in recent years, Pinkman has earned $270,212 since turning 4. He won a Group 2 race in Sweden in 2016 and was stakes-placed last year. He trotted 1:49.2 in Homicide Hunter's 1:48.4 world-record mile in the Allerage Open Trot at Lexington's Red Mile, where he finished third. "He had a little bad luck last year," Engblom said, referring to eight starts from posts eight, nine, 10 or the second tier. "At the end of last year, he was doing pretty well. He trotted (1):49 and a piece in Lexington. He's still got it, we just need to manage him. That's the key. "He's been so solid (preparing for this season). I really think he's going to do OK. I'm really confident he can have a pretty good year. He's a sound horse. His legs are as tough as they come. It's fun to work with classy old horses like him. It's a thrill every time you train him." Friday's card at the Meadowlands also includes the start of the Walner Series for trotters and the Wiggle It Jiggleit Series for pacers. Each series features three preliminary rounds followed by an April 27 final. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). For complete Friday entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

CHESTER PA - The most impressive winner on Friday afternoon's 2019 harness racing opener at Harrah's Philadelphia didn't come in the race with the biggest purse - but any time you can call yourself the fastest three-year-old trotter in all of North America, regardless of size of track, you deserve to be at the front of the story. Capt Chaps Hanover was sent to the lead in his maiden trotting event by driver Yannick Gingras. He got the lead in 27.4, rated the half to 58.4, then threw in successive 28.2 back quarters to complete the mile in 1:55.3 - faster than any sophomore has gone so far anywhere in the United States and Canada. The 7 ¾-length winner certainly had the pedigree to produce such a mile - an altered son of Explosive Matter whose second dam was the producer of $1M-winning Hez Striking - and he certainly had the backing - trainer Ron Burke and the ownership combine of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva - Purnel & Libby, most of whom were the team behind 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover. Just a tick behind Capt Chaps Hanover was another three-year-old trotter, the Yankee Glide gelding Blue And Bold, who made every pole a winning one while reducing his mark three seconds to 1:55.4, last half 57.1. Trained by Andrew Harris for A Harris Racing LLC and April Campbell, the frontstepping winner followed the trend of most of the card's successful horses - from which it can be inferred that it was a good day for driver George Napolitano Jr., who had four winners as he opened defense of his sulkysitting crown. The biggest purse contest of the day was a $16,000 trotting event, taken in wire-to-wire fashion by the Dejarmbro gelding Icingon De Cupcake, who teamed with George Napolitano Jr. to withstand Armagedon Seelster by a nose in 1:56.2. Owned by Dynasty Racing, Icingon De Cupcake proved to be the third winner of the day for trainer Nick Surick. Racing resumes on Sunday at Harrah's Philadelphia, with a 12-race card set to start at 12:40 p.m. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Racing luck usually plays a part when one wins a race. Getting an expert steer doesn't hurt, either. Those two factors were on display in the Saturday night feature at the Meadowlands, as Caviart Luca and Big M leading harness racing driver Yannick Gingras nailed favorite K Ryan Bluechip at the wire in the featured Preferred for pacers. Speedsters Castle Flight and New Talent were on the go early. Castle Flight led at the quarter in :27.3 while New Talent, fresh off his Big M season's-fastest 1:49.2 score last week, then brushed to the top at the three-eighths and hit the half in :55.1 as the 2-1 chalk K Ryan Bluechip was gradually chipping away at the leader's edge racing first-over. All the while, Caviart Luca was sitting in what appeared to be an impossible spot - third at the rail - with four horses in the outer flow. K Ryan Bluechip inched his way past New Talent with a little less than three-sixteenths of a mile to go. Enter racing luck and Gingras. Finding a seam just big enough as the field spread out in the stretch, Gingras moved Caviart Luca off the rail to get directly behind KRB with an eighth to go. Inside the sixteenth pole, Caviart Luca swung to the outside and managed to get up by the smallest of noses at the wire. New Talent held on for third. "I just got lucky to find a seam in the middle," said Gingras, "my horse was sharp and ready." Making just his second start of the year, Caviart Luca, eighth and last in his 2019 debut at Yonkers, returned $10.40 as the third choice in the wagering for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and Phillip Collura. The 8-year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere-Caviart Sierra, who completed the mile in 1:51.1, has now won 29-of-141 career starts and earned $742,535. ANDY'S DANDY: Andy Miller piloted four winners on the card, giving him seven for the weekend. Gingras was right behind him with six, after winning three times on both Friday and Saturday. On the training side, the red-hot Jennifer Bongiorno made two Saturday winner's circle visits, giving her three victories for the weekend. A LITTLE MORE: Wagering continued to be strong as all-source betting totaled $2,919,538. ... 50-Cent Pick-4 cashers walked away with $903.80 by using 9-1 shot Pepper Guy and driver Dexter Dunn in the ninth race. The winner's odds of the other three horses in the sequence were 4-1, 9-2 and 3-2. ... Dunn and Vinny Ginsburg each drove a pair of winners. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. Bettors will have a new wager to try as that evening will see the debut of the Can-Am Pick-4, a wager that requires players to pick two winners at the Meadowlands and two at Woodbine Mohawk Park. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Apparently, Yannick Gingras and Andy Miller like an off track, as both Meadowlands regulars, currently first and third, respectively, in the driver standings at the mile oval, each scored three times on the Friday night Big M harness racing card. At the start of the evening, the weather was spring like, with temperatures in the 70s, but a cold front came through after the fourth race, dousing the track with several intense rainfalls that made it necessary to delay the action twice during the remainder of the card. Neither Miller nor Gingras could have cared less, as each scored their trifectas after the track was downgraded to sloppy for the start of the fifth race. That's when Miller got his night underway, scoring with Abbeylara in a $7,500 claiming pace as the 8-5 second choice in 1:53.2. The resurgent Rubber Duck won the seventh, a conditioned trot, in 1:52.3 as the 6-5 favorite before Miller completed his three-bagger in the 14th race with Arch Credit in a conditioned trot in 1:55.3. After going a three-hole trip, Arch Credit skimmed the cones to become the night's biggest-priced winner at $23.80. Gingras began with Max Volo in the sixth race conditioned trot, scoring as the 6-5 public choice in 1:56.1. Well Said Maria (4-1 second choice) followed in the ninth race fillies and mares conditioned pace in 1:52.1 before Tearful Of Happy became Gingras' third of the night in the 11th race fillies and mares conditioned pace in 1:52.1 as the 5-2 second choice. A LITTLE MORE: The 14-race card saw a 6-1 shot win the opener and a 10-1 chance take the finale. The 12 races in the middle were won by six favorites, with no horse scoring at odds greater than 4-1. ... The 50-Cent Pick-4 fell just short of a sixth straight $100,000 pool, as a total of $97,185 was wagered. The sequence saw winner's odds of 3-1, 4-1, 7-2 and 5-2 add up to a healthy payoff of $1,001. ... Tyler Buter and Andy McCarthy had driving doubles while Nick Surick trained a pair to victory lane. ... All-source handle totaled $2,675,593. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Orlando, FL -- Moments into his speech to accept the Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award on behalf of legendary pacer Foiled Again during Sunday's U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet, co-owner Joe Koury Jr. was halted by USHWA member Gordon Waterstone. Koury knew he had not exceeded his time limit because he was just getting started, so he was surprised. Surprise was about to turn to shock. "Don't you think we ought to have the award-winner here?" Waterstone soon said to Koury. Enter Foiled Again. Foiled Again turned the idea of a surprise party upside down when he emerged from behind the curtained stage area to the delight of the 320 banquet attendees at Rosen Shingle Creek resort. Only a handful of people knew in advance of Foiled Again's appearance, which was conceived by Waterstone with Foiled Again's co-owners Ron Burke and Mark Weaver. "I was wondering what was going on," said Koury, who like the entire Burke Brigade other than Burke, Weaver and Foiled Again's caretaker for the night, Devan Miller, had no idea of the plan. "Next thing you know, Foiled was coming out. I was absolutely shocked. It was a great experience. It was exciting." Said Joe Koury Sr., "When Foiled showed up, it was unbelievable. I was shocked. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, it was just amazing." "I didn't expect it; that's the last thing that would have crossed my mind," said Yannick Gingras, who drove Foiled Again for the majority of the gelding's career and won numerous major stakes together. "I thought it was really cool, something different." Many others had the same reaction, which was what Burke and his co-planners had hoped. "It was unbelievable," Burke said. "I knew it would be a hit, especially with my father (Mickey), but it was a hit with everybody. It was one of the coolest moments ever. We thought it would be something nobody would be expecting and would add a little bit of fun, and it did." Waterstone, who in addition to being a member of USHWA is associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World magazine, worked with the resort's staff to set up Foiled Again's appearance. It required an extra bit of insurance and a protective covering for the banquet room carpet, which was new. "I called Mark about bringing Foiled Again to the banquet and he said to talk to Ronnie," Waterstone said. "I called Ronnie and he said absolutely, but he wanted to do it as a secret. "It came off better than I thought it would. You keep your fingers crossed. The reaction was unbelievable. To be involved in this was really cool." Foiled Again was already staying near Orlando, at the Burke's winter stable in Astor. "Devan did a great job," Burke said. "She had to prep him for it and people were wondering why she was prepping him when he was just there hanging out. He looked incredible. I was thrilled." Unfazed by the cheers that filled the banquet room and the joyful commotion that soon engulfed him, Foiled Again stood perfectly for his admirers. photo Chris Tully "He was like a little showman," Joe Koury Sr. said. "He's like a celebrity, a celebrity of the humblest measure. It was just unbelievable. He's amazing. I love him to death." Foiled Again reached harness racing's mandatory retirement age of 15 when the calendar turned to 2019. He is the sport's all-time richest horse, with $7.63 million in purses, and ranks ninth with 109 lifetime wins. He received Dan Patch Awards for best older male pacer in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was Pacer of the Year in 2011. Last year, he embarked on a Farewell Tour that attracted numerous fans to racetracks across North America, as well as garnering mainstream media attention. He will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in July. Foiled Again is owned by Burke Racing, the partnership of Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and the Koury family's JJK Stables. The group bought the horse in 2008 when he was 4. He was trained by Mickey Burke briefly before Mickey retired and handed the lines to his son Ron. "He's a dream come true," Joe Koury Jr. said. "To be a part of this with such great friends and partners is amazing. We were all young guys who, for the most part, were just getting started. He brought us up all together and put us on a different level. It's just been a phenomenal ride." And now that the ride is completed, Foiled Again will enjoy a life of leisure. "He's basically going to live my dad's life," Ron Burke said with a laugh. "They'll be hanging out together forever."   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

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