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WASHINGTON, PA, July 4, 2020 -- Heavily favored It's Academic cruised to a 5-3/4-length victory in Saturday's $102,245 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadows. When Sister Sledge and Crucial waltzed to similarly easy wins in the $64,594 filly division -- each in stake-record time -- they gave harness racing driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke a Currier & Ives sweep. Burke's big day didn't end there. He started horses in 11 of the card's 15 races and won a remarkable nine of them. It's Academic entered the Currier & Ives off two strong place finishes in Ohio Sires Stakes legs and looked to lay over the field. In this case, looks weren't deceiving, as the son of Uncle Peter-Annapolis floated to the lead and widened at will, even after Gingras had shut him down. Harley K and Coventry Hall completed the ticket. "He's just a real gentleman -- perfect to drive," Gingras said. "Down by the wire, I left him alone. He's a little bit lazy, but he's a nice horse. To be a top colt, he'll have to go a lot faster, but for Ohio and here, he's the perfect horse." Burke Racing Stable, William Donovan, Joe Sbrocco and Hatfield Stables campaign It's Academic, who vaulted over $200,000 in lifetime earnings. Following last week's facile victory in her season's debut, Sister Sledge continued to roll through the soft part of her schedule, quarter-poling to the point and scoring in 1:53.2. That eclipsed the stake mark of 1:53.4 established about 15 minutes earlier by Crucial. Last year's Pennsylvania champion and Dan Patch Award runner-up, the daughter of Father Patrick-Behind Closedoors will begin a tougher stretch with the July 15 PA Sires Stake leg at Harrah's Philadelphia. Is Sister Sledge where she needs to be to handle more competitive fillies? "She couldn't have been any better today, that's for sure," Gingras said. "It will get tougher; that's coming for sure. There are a lot of good fillies that weren't here today. But her timing is right. She's really good right now." Sister Sledge Sans Defaut (trained by Burke) and Perth Angel De Vie finished second and third, respectively. Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC campaign Sister Sledge, who now boasts a career bankroll of $584,843. Although Crucial's stake record was fleeting, her win after a quarter-pole move signaled that she might be ready for more. "She had a class edge on these horses for sure," Gingras said. "She's grown since last year, of course, and she's stronger. I thought she was very professional today." Petey Sarah and Dune Hill rounded out the ticket. In keeping with Burke's huge day, he swept the top three spots in this split. Crucial, a daughter of Father Patrick-Jolene Jolene, now has banked $159,587 for Burke Racing Stable, Donovan, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. Dave Palone collected four wins Saturday while Dan Charlino and Jim Pantaleano enjoyed triples. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when 59 freshman filly trotters will make their stakes debut in a pair of events: a $210,221 PASS and an $80,000 PA Stallion Series stake. In addition, the 15-race card will feature a $9,712.33 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Early Pick 4 (race 3). First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Covered Bridge has been so good early on in his 4-year-old harness racing campaign, he's even surprised his trainer, Ron Burke. "He has been even better than we had hoped," said Burke of the gelded son of American Ideal-Stonebridge Kisses, who was a dominant winner of the Saturday night feature at the Meadowlands, a $27,500 high-end conditioned pace. "We couldn't be happier with him," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "He's getting stronger every week." A scary thought for all the other 4-year-olds who will take him on this season. Covered Bridge remained unbeaten in three starts this year - all at the Meadowlands - facing his toughest test of the season. He was in against Sintra, the "Terror from Toronto" who had won all four of his starts this season facing the best on the grounds at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and the super-formful Bell I No, who had finished second or better in seven straight Big M outings. Unlike a week ago, Gingras opted to put Covered Bridge on the engine, making a second move to the top after yielding briefly to Sintra just after the quarter. Given the caliber of the combatants, the half was reached in a lazy :56.1, and when one considers that Covered Bridge had won his first two outings of 2020 in 1:48.3 and 1:49.2, it was going to take a lot to catch him. As it turned out, it could not be done. After three-quarters was clocked in 1:24, Covered Bridge had a :26.3 kicker in his tank to easily beat Sintra, who is presumably on his way to Yonkers next week for the Borgata Series, by 1½ lengths in 1:50.3. Bell I No finished third.   "Mostly 4-year-old races," said Burke when asked what the plan is for Covered Bridge. "But we will be re-evaluate soon." Is he the type of horse you'd put into the Graduate, which gets underway May 2 at the Meadowlands? "I think for sure." Covered Bridge, who is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby and Mortgage Boys Stable, returned $3.00 to his backers as the 1-2 favorite and has now won 10-of-36 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $273,837. BOMBS AWAY! Pat Berry, aka "The Blue Berry Bomber", put a big smile on his fans' faces when he guided 47-1 shot Barefoot Bluejeans to victory lane in the 12th race. The win price of $96.40 was the largest of 2020 at the Big M. Apparently unsatisfied with one huge longshot, Berry came right back in the 13th race and scored with 27-1 chance Jumping Jake, giving the 44-year-old pilot a sweep of the Late Double that paid $2,700.40. Berry scored earlier on the card with an 11-1 shot and his one Friday winner went off at 10-1. With Berry's bombs hitting their targets in the final two races, the Late Pick-4 returned $18,446.90 after driver Andy Miller and trainer Nick Surick teamed up to take legs one and two at odds of 5-1. A LITTLE MORE: Betting surpassed the $2.5-million plateau for the 12th time in the last 13 race cards, as a total of $2,845,232 was pushed through the windows on the 13 races. ... Berry, Gingras and Andy McCarthy had driving triples on the program. After scoring in both co-features Friday, McCarthy finished the weekend with five winner's circle trips. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:55 p.m. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands   

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - For a second straight night, harness racing driver Yannick Gingras recorded five wins and won the feature at the Meadowlands, as he scored with Trump Nation in Saturday night's Preferred Handicap for pacers. Trump Nation, sent to the gate as the 4-5 public choice, blasted away from post seven in the field of eight along with Atta Boy Dan and Americanprimetime. Endeavor was in the early scrum but driver Corey Callahan decided to back off into the four-hole as Atta Boy Dan led at the quarter. Trump Nation continued on until surging to the top at the three-eighths. Endeavor, the 2-1 second choice, was on the move at the half racing on the rim and chipped away at the leader's edge, drawing to within a length at the head of the stretch. The rivals battled through the lane as Endeavor continued to inch closer, but at the wire, it was an ultra-determined Trump Nation out-gaming Endeavor by a neck in 1:49.4. Harambe Deo was third.   Gingras wasn't worried as his primary foe was closing in. "I was pretty confident I was going to be able to hold him off," said Gingras. "This horse was super again." Trump Nation, a 5-year-old gelded son of Betterthancheddar-Late Flyin N who is trained by Ron Burke, returned $3.80 to his backers. He's now won 15 of 40 lifetime starts and earned $432,446 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Evan Katz, Weaver Bruscemi and Purnel & Libby. THE NEED FOR SPEED: A fast track and comfortable-for-the-time-of-year temperatures in the 40s on a clear night led to some rock-the-clock times on the program. The red-hot Bell I No, who won a week ago in 1:49.1 despite cold conditions and a -1 track variant, recorded the second fastest mile in North America of 2020 when he ripped through fractions of :26.4, :54.1 and 1:22 before completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:48.4 to record his third win in four starts in the sixth race high-end conditioned pace. Andy Miller drove the Andrew Harris trainee. Just two races later, the Ron-Burke trained Covered Bridge equaled Effronte A's national season's-best of 1:48.3 by coming from off the pace in taking another high-end conditioned pace. Driven by Gingras, Covered Bridge lowered his previous lifetime mark by two-and-one-fifth seconds while making his seasonal debut. A LITTLE MORE: Chalk players ruled the night, as eight winning favorites scored on the card. ... Wagering on the track's four popular multi-leg puzzles was vigorous as the 20-cent Pick-5 ($75,544), 20-cent Pick-6 ($29,150), 50-cent Early Pick-4 ($89,159) and 50-cent Late Pick-4 ($74,289) accounted for total bets of $268,142. ... Gingras, Dexter Dunn (three winners), Andy McCarthy (two) and Marcus Miller (two) combined to win 12 of the 13 races. ... Burke recorded three wins on the night. ... All-source handle on the card totaled $2,687,050, the eighth time in the last nine programs that wagering has exceeded $2.5 million. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:55 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Trump Nation benefitted from aggressive Yannick Gingras handling Saturday night to take the $37,500 featured Preferred for harness racing pacers at the Meadowlands. The 5-year-old gelded son of Betterthancheddar-Late Flyin N was in a first-turn scrum with Sicily and Endeavor and raced second while parked to the quarter as Sicily led in a snappy :26.2. Trump Nation then sped to the top, but led only briefly, as Endeavor, the 3-5 favorite who was in search of a second straight score in the weekly feature, went past Trump Nation and hit the half in :54.1. The pocket trip worked to perfection for Gingras and Trump Nation, as the duo ducked to the inside nearing the wire to nail a super-game Endeavor by a neck in 1:49.4. Franco Totem N was third. "He raced big," said Gingras of Trump Nation. "That's the trip I was looking for tonight, but he can win no matter what the trip. He's just a nice horse." Trump Nation, who races out of the Ron Burke barn, returned $7.80 to his backers as the second choice in the wagering. He's now won 14-of-38 lifetime outings, good for earnings of $414,246 for owners Burke Racing Stable, E. Katz, Weaver Bruscemi and Purnel & Libby. Trump Nation CHANGES WORKING WELL Based on the big action that was taken on the 13-race program at the industry's handle leader, it appears that the new earlier 6:55 p.m. post time and extensive wagering menu changes will be around for some time to come. A total of $2,856,554 in bets were taken, the third-highest handle during 2020 at the mile oval. Wagering has now gone past the $2.5-million mark for five straight programs. The action was hot and heavy from the get-go as a season's-best $72,364 was put in play in the 20-cent Pick-5, serving as the catalyst for the first-race total pool of $293,871. The sequence saw but one 5-1 shot and four other winners that went off at 7-2 or less yet still came back a giant $3,548.36. The 20-cent Pick-6 pool saw an increase of 36 percent from its first offering Friday. Total play Saturday was $24,474, and one shrewd player who used 10-1 shot Americanfirewater in the payoff leg (race nine) walked away with $20,797.76. Adding a second 50-cent Pick-4 appears to be a hit with the racing faithful. The Early Pick-4 saw a total pool of $86,015 while the Late P4 saw $61,934 in action, meaning that a total of $147,949 in Pick-4 bets were taken. Big M TV's Dave Brower gave out the Early Pick-4 on the track's live in-house simulcast show, investing just $30 before cashing in for $291. The big action wasn't limited to the multi-leg wagers, as the fifth race was the only one on the evening to push past the $300,000 mark in total play. A huge exacta pool of $88,403 led the way to the total wager of $301,002. A LITTLE MORE Dexter Dunn led the driver's colony by scoring five times. Marcus Miller, Andy McCarthy and Corey Callahan all had two apiece. Dunn has 32 winners at the winter meeting, tops at the track. Callahan is next with 24. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:55 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The opportunities will be plentiful for Meadowlands players interested in low takeout multi-race wagers effective with the race card of Friday, February 7, when, in addition to an extra Pick-4 and a brand new Pick-6, a new post time of 6:55 p.m. promises to get players home a little earlier after the last race hits the finish line. "All of us at the Meadowlands understand that lower takeouts attract horseplayers," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "That's why the Pick-4, Pick-5 and Pick-6 now have takeouts of 15 percent, which is a 40 percent reduction from the original takeout of 25 percent." How does that impact the bettor? For every $100 wagered, he or she gets back $113. That extra 13 percent in the players' pockets keeps them playing. Straight wagers are priced at 17 percent, exactas and doubles at 19 percent and the new rolling Pick-3s at 20 percent. The 10-cent superfecta is at 20 percent - which is a reduction of 20 percent - making the Big M's superfecta takeout one of the lowest in harness, or, for that matter, thoroughbred racing. "We understand that horseplayers are a major part of the racing industry," said Settlemoir. "They deserve our respect. One year ago, the State of New Jersey stepped up for the racing industry in the form of an appropriation that raised our purses significantly. The Meadowlands in turn has stepped up for our fans with lower takeouts, full fields and great racing, three major reasons that we had our second $3-million night of the year last Saturday (Feb. 1)." With regard to the new betting bonanza that goes into effect Friday, Settlemoir said: "There is no doubt that this is one of our most ambitious and value-conscious wagering menus ever implemented at the Meadowlands." These are the pertinent facts: 20-cent Pick-5 (Race 1): The wager - which will continue to offer a $25,000 guaranteed pool - still begins with the first race of the night, but now has a 20-cent minimum and can be played in 20-cent denominations (such as 20 cents, 40 cents, 60 cents, etc.). 20-cent Pick-6 (Race 4): A "traditional" Pick-6. Should no player select all six winners, there will be a carryover to the next racing program. The 20-cent minimum will enable bettors to "spread" further without a big investment. Early 50-cent Pick-4 (Race 6): The "signature" wager at the Meadowlands now moves from the eighth race to the sixth, which immediately follows the cashing out of the Pick-5. The $50,000 guaranteed pool remains, as does the 50-cent minimum. Free program pages for this wager are available at ustrotting.com and playmeadowlands.com. Late 50-cent Pick-4 (Race 10): Immediately following the payoff leg of both the Pick-6 and Early Pick-4, this additional Pick-4 will give Meadowlands' fans another big multi-race pool to shoot for before the end of the program. 20-cent Can-Am Pick-4: This wager - which is on Saturday nights - will see a shift once the earlier post time takes effect. The bet, which challenges players to select the winners of two races at both the Meadowlands and Woodbine Mohawk Park, will still begin with WMP's 10th race, but from there the sequence will be Meadowlands 11, WMP 11 and Meadowlands 12. The Pick-5, Pick-6, both Pick-4s and Can-Am Pick-4 will all offer a low 15 percent takeout. Rolling Pick-3s are returning: All races that do not have a Pick-4, Pick-5 or Pick-6 will offer a $1 Pick-3. On a typical 13-race card, the Pick-3s will be available on races 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 11.  Daily Double players will get the same opportunities they had for many years as the traditional format of the first two and last two races will go back into effect. The 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 will be dropped. With the new earlier post time of 6:55 p.m., simulcast fans can now look for the "Racing from the Meadowlands" live in-house pre-game show to begin nightly at 6:22 p.m. The TV team of Dave Brower and Dave Little will add a segment to the pre-game show that takes an in-depth look at the 20-cent Pick-5. SERIOUS SATURDAY STATS: Saturday (Feb. 1) night's all-source total handle of $3,026,740 was highlighted by winter-meet-best pools in both the 50-cent Pick-5 ($71,830) and 50-cent Pick-4 ($117,502). Race eight - which marks the start of the Pick-4 - took in a total $306,163 while over the course of the 13-race program, 11 races saw total pools of $200,000 or more. GINGRAS' BIG WEEKEND: Yannick Gingras paced the driver's colony over the course of last weekend's racing, winning eight races. It will come as no shock to Big M regulars that trainer Ron Burke was far and away the top trainer, with seven wins (from just 18 starts, 39 percent), all piloted by his go-to driver Gingras. Feb. 7, card players who are 21 or older can play Texas Hold'em on "Free Poker Friday", hosted by World Free Poker. Feb. 7, come to the track and enjoy a "Brunch for Love" from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. The event benefits non-profits from the Meadowlands Chamber. Feb. 14, bring your sweetheart to the races and enjoy a fabulous Valentine's Day dinner in the Big M's Pink Restaurant. You might be one of three couples to win a gift certificate for a bed and breakfast stay in Cape May, NJ. For reservations, call 201-THE-BIGM. Feb. 22, The Big M will host its February World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifier. The top two finishers will qualify for the WHHC Final. It's only $200 to play ($100 to enter; $100 bankroll). For complete information, check out the brochure at http://playmeadowlands.com/uploadedFiles/2020%20February%20WHHC%20qualifier.pdf. From the Meadowlands Media Department  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Harness racing driver Yannick Gingras drove four winners Friday night at the Meadowlands, and among them was Dayson, who took the featured $20,000 conditioned trot. "He's such a nice horse that tries his best every time," said Gingras. Sure, Dayson did his job, no doubt, but so did Gingras, who gave his horse a perfect steer. The first turn looked like a rugby scrum as Lagerfeld had rail position, Dayson was to that one's outside and Obrigado was three wide and winging. Gingras opted to back Dayson off into the three-hole as Lagerfeld yielded to Obrigado, who hit the quarter while parked in :27.4. "There was definitely more action than I thought there would be in the first turn," said Gingras. "But I figured Dayson was the best and he proved it." Showing little patience, Gingras moved swiftly with Dayson to the top after vacating the rail at the three-eighths and cleared before the half as Obrigado was put in the pocket. Max was now on the move, gaining on the leader from first-over, but Dayson - who was able to rate the middle half in :58 - still had a length on that foe both at three-quarters and the head of the stretch. Through the final three-sixteenths, Dayson showed his class, fending off a pesky Max to his outside and Obrigado to his inside, holding on determinedly to defeat Max by a neck in 1:54.1. Obrigado was third. Dayson, a 7-year-old gelded son of Conway Hall-Nervey's Taurus who is trained by Ron Burke, returned $3.20 to his backers as the odds-on favorite. He has now won 37-of-87 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $1,167,377 for owners Burke Racing Stable & Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby and L. Karr. A LITTLE MORE: If Gingras wins four, it's a good bet Burke has had a good night, and the Big M's leading trainer did just that, winning three on the card, all driven by Gingras. ... The 50-cent Pick-4 saw big play with a total pool of $92,561, its biggest since Jan. 4, when $94,701 was pushed through the windows. ... All-source handle was vigorous at $2,591,628, surpassing the $2.5-million mark for a second straight card. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Meadowlands is known as a track with a driver colony that's got big-time talent from top to bottom, but last weekend, two harness racing standouts stood far above the rest of the crowd. Over the course of the two-day race week at the Big M on Jan. 17-18, Dexter Dunn and Yannick Gingras were both at the top of their respective games, to say the least. Of the 28 races contested, the prolific pair won 18 times, with each pilot hitting the winner's circle four times Friday and five times Saturday. Dunn, a 30-year-old New Zealand native, took both features with Down Under breds, winning Friday with Major Occasion A and then Saturday with Franco Totem N. His fans were especially thrilled with Dunn's Friday success as the United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year scored with longshots Bold Goddess ($43.80) and Auteur Hanover ($54.60). In addition, DD swept the $348.20 daily double that covered races seven and eight. Gingras, whose $13.4 million in earnings was good for second in North America during 2019, maintained his place as one of the most popular drivers at the Big M by scoring a half-dozen times over the weekend with non-favorites as both he and Dunn - not surprisingly - showed a flat-bet profit by the time the dust cleared Saturday night. Racing fans won't get the chance to play Gingras or Dunn this weekend, however, as neither is listed to drive. Gingras will be in France attending - not participating in - the Prix d'Amerique while Dunn has a previous commitment. Racing fans can look forward to another ace being in the fold, however, as Tim Tetrick, the leading money-earning driver from 2019 with over $15.6 million, will be in the sulky at the Big M this Friday and Saturday night. Post time is the usual 7:15 p.m. PICK-4 REPORT: The Meadowlands' signature wager, the 50-cent Pick-4, saw its usual big play last weekend, as a total of $81,661 was bet Friday and $91,480 was in the pool Saturday. Friday's final leg saw a 25-1 shot score, leading to a payoff of $3,155.05. Chalk players hit the $55.85 return Saturday as Dunn and Gingras each won twice during the sequence. FREE PPs: When it comes to the 50-cent Pick-4, the Late 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five and the 20-cent Can-Am Pick-4, if you want to play, but prefer not to pay for past performances, all you have to do is go to playmeadowlands.com or ustrotting.com where you can access them for free. GIANT SCORE: One sharp handicapper made the score a lifetime Friday. Betting into the Oregon Express hub, that player held the only 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five ticket with the winning combination of 1-7-3-6-4 and cashed in for $118,148.72. The race was won by 2-1 favorite Lily Hammer and driver Corey Callahan. Finishing second through fifth, respectively, were Northern Swift (25-1), Moonshinecharleigh (8-1), Manhattan Play (3-1) and Justabitofcharm (30-1). MARK YOUR CALENDARS On Jan. 24, card players who are 21 or older can play Texas Hold'em on "Free Poker Friday", hosted by World Free Poker. On Jan. 25, the Big M hosts it's annual "Chili Cook Off", which will have its usual "Homestyle Chili" division. This year, a "Chili Verde" contest has been added to the festivities. In addition, there will also be a competition for the best salsa. For complete information and registration, go to https://chilicookoff.com/cookoffs/list. On Feb. 2, professional football's championship game - that pits the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers - kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to watch and wager in the Big M's FanDuel Sportsbook. On Feb. 7, come to the track and enjoy a "Brunch for Love" from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. The event benefits non-profits from the Meadowlands Chamber. On Feb. 14, bring your sweetheart to the races and enjoy a fabulous Valentine's Day dinner in the Big M's Pink Restaurant. You might be one of three couples to win a gift certificate for a bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ. For reservations, call 201-THE-BIGM. Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Meadowlands' Pick-4 pools raised to high levels last weekend, just in time for what is in all probability to be a record three days in terms of average harness racing field size at the mile oval. Last Friday (Dec. 13) and Saturday (Dec. 14) saw the second- and third-highest 50-cent Pick-4 pools of the Fall Meeting, as $95,479 was wagered Friday before $97,773 was bet Saturday. The top Pick-4 pool came on TVG/Fall Final Four night (Nov. 23) when $110,502 was poured into the pot. Couple those numbers with the average field size of the three race cards that will be offered this Thursday-Saturday, and you get ideal conditions for big Pick-4 play. This Thursday's (Dec. 19) card gets a "perfect" score, as all 11 races have full 10-horse fields. The Friday (Dec. 20) and Saturday (Dec. 21) programs each have 14 races, with 13 full fields and one that has nine horses. In total, the Big M will offer 39 races over the three-day race week, with 37 offering 10-horse fields. The average field size - assuming no scratches - will be 9.95 horses per race. It's hard to imagine a higher number than that over a span of three programs ever, even though records do not exist. "We are so pleased at the response we've received at the entry box," said Meadowlands' Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "Big fields are what our customers want, and over the next three race cards, we will deliver." Last Friday's Pick-4 featured a 75-1 winner in leg one, leading to a handsome payoff of $3,528 despite no horse longer than odds of 5-2 winning any of the final three legs. Saturday night's 50-cent Pick-5 featured a 26-1 shot and a 36-1 shot, resulting in a single-ticket-winner payoff of $33,873. Twenty-cent Jackpot Super High-Five players are no doubt chomping at the bit to get their action Thursday. The carryover for Race 5 is at $12,866, while Race 11 will start out with $54,275 in the hat. Free program pages for the 50-cent Pick-4, the Big M's signature wager that has a $50,000 guaranteed pool on Fridays and Saturdays as well as a low 15 percent takeout, are available at ustrotting.com and playmeadowlands.com. CARTER'S UP NEXT: The USTA's Michael Carter is next in the 'batting order' to "Borrow Ken's Binoculars", as guest announcers give Big M voice Ken Warkentin a breather on Thursdays during December. Carter will call the races Thursday (Dec. 19) with Big M TV personality Dave Little scheduled to call on Dec. 26. DON'T PANIC! IT'S DEXTER AND YANNICK: Last weekend was another good one for the Big M's dynamic driving duo of Dexter Dunn and Yannick Gingras. Dunn won nine of his 26 drives, good for a win percentage of 35. The track's leading driver upped his Fall Meet win total to 41 while compiling a positive return on investment of 34 percent over the three racing programs. Gingras had six winners (and nine seconds) in 34 attempts (18 percent) and is second to Dunn in the overall standings with 27 victories. QUINCY'S COOL: New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa held court on Saturday (Dec. 14) night at the track, signing autographs and taking selfies with fans as the U.S. Marine Corps collected hundreds of gifts for the annual "Toys for Tots" drive. FOX5 sportscaster Tina Cervasio was on hand to serve as master of ceremonies at the event. She also helped out when driver Pat Berry won the 4,000th race of his career, taking part in the winner's circle presentation. All toys collected were donated to Harlem Grown, helping to brighten the season for children in need. DECEMBER SCHEDULE: During the month of December, live racing at the Meadowlands will be conducted on a three day a week basis, Thursday-Saturday. Post time is 7:15 p.m. THANKING THE FANS: Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will be showing appreciation for their fans with some concession specials on Friday (Dec. 20). Hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn and soda will be available for $1, while Bud and Bud Light will cost only $2. The discount prices are available from 7-10 p.m. PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT: On Dec. 20, card players who are 21 or older can play Texas Hold'em on "Free Poker Friday", hosted by World Free Poker. PLAY THE WHHC FOR FREE: The Big M will host a World Harness Handicapping Championship contest this Saturday (Dec. 21), and it is free to play. Players must check-in at the Players Club Desk by 7:15 p.m. and complete the official contest form prior to Race 2. Each participant will make mythical $2 across-the-board wagers on one horse for Meadowlands Races 2-10. All selections must be made prior to Race 2 on the official contest entry form, and if a selection scratches, contestants then get the post-time favorite. The winner receives $1,300 and a spot in the WHHC Final on April 18, 2020. For complete information, go to http://playmeadowlands.com/event_detail.aspx?id=17958. MEADOWLANDS HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: Here is the holiday operating schedule for simulcasting at the Big M:  December 22: Closed  Christmas Eve: Closed  Christmas Day: Closed  December 29: Closed New Year's Eve: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. For more information, go to playmeadowlands.com. FANDUEL HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: Here is the holiday operating schedule for the Big M's FanDuel Sportsbook:  Christmas Eve: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.  Christmas Day: Closed  New Year's Eve: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.  New Year's Day: 10 a.m. - 1 a.m. For more information, go to playmeadowlands.com/fanduel. From the Meadowlands Media Department  

CHESTER, PA - The crowd settled on the right favorite in a well-matched, hard-to-handicap $18,000 featured harness racing trot at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, as the Yankee Glide gelding Max held off a late charge by the mare Kenziesky Hanover by ¾ of a length in 1:54.3. Yannick Gingras hustled the winner away quickly and forced Kenziesky Hanover to tuck behind him, then yielded to the $900,000 winner Top Flight Angel past a :27.3 quarter. Top Flight Angel guided the field to the half in :57, then increased the tempo to 1:25.2 at the three-quarters, with Cruising In Style coming first-over and Kenziesky Hanover slipping out behind that one's cover. Through the stretch Max slipped up the inside and Kenziesky Hanover tipped wide, with both widely-separated foes giving their all, but Max took the advantage midlane and kept it to the wire. The Ron Burke trainee is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC along with Frank Baldachino. The heavy favorite Hill Of A Horse looked to be in good position nearing the far turn of the $17,000 co-featured trot, advancing second-over behind cover, but it certainly didn't hurt him when the leader, third-over, and fourth-over all made breaks on the final curve. The victorious altered son of Muscle Hill overhauled his cover, Mystical Wynn, by 2¼ lengths in 1:55.2, posting his tenth lifetime win in but 28 starts for driver Marcus Miller, trainer/father Erv Miller, and Andray Farms. Drivers Gingras and George Napolitano Jr. each won three times during the Thursday afternoon action. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Live harness racing at the Meadowlands will increase during the month of December, and based on how successful he was during November, that likely suits Dexter Dunn just fine. Thursday racing makes its debut this evening (Dec. 5) as the Big M will up their number of live racing nights from two to three during December, with live action being offered every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7:15 p.m. Dunn, whose career has been on a meteoric rise since coming to America in the summer of 2018, drove 23 winners during November to lead the Big M driver colony. The New Zealand native, who was the regular driver for such standouts as Bettor's Wish and Manchego, piloted three winners on a card five times during the month and won four on one occasion. Following Dunn on the November driver's hit parade were Yannick Gingras (16 wins), Tim Tetrick (13), Tyler Buter (11), Andy Miller (10), Dave Miller (10) and Andy McCarthy (9). The depth of talent of the Big M driver colony - and how evenly matched it is - is confirmed by a look at what's transpired over the last two weeks at the mile oval. The top four in terms of Universal Driver Rating System (UDRS) with at least 15 drives are Gingras (.279), McCarthy (.278), Tetrick (.270) and Buter (.268). The trainer colony is also stacked as five conditioners had two wins last weekend (Nov. 29-30): Trish Adams, Juan Cano, Tom Fanning, Patti Harmon and Andrew Harris. SOUNDS OF THE SEASON: Just like last year, Thursdays in December will feature guest announcers who will "Borrow Ken's Binoculars", as Big M voice Ken Warkentin will open his track announcer's booth to four different callers. This evening (Dec. 5), Big M TV regular fill-in and longtime harness and thoroughbred announcer Peter Kleinhans will call the races. The colorful Larry Lederman will be up next on Dec. 12, followed by the USTA's Michael Carter on Dec. 19 and "Racing from the Meadowlands" regular Dave Little on the 26th. TOP 10 TITANS: Shartin N, who has the inside track on being named Horse of the Year, sat atop the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown weekly Top 10 Poll that was released Tuesday. The Jim King Jr. trainee, who won 15-of-19 starts and banked just over $982,000 during the year, was No. 1 in the poll each of the 28 weeks it was posted. Bettor's Wish finished in the second spot while Greenshoe was third. According to USTA Media Relations Manager Ken Weingartner, that threesome were the only horses to appear in every Top 10. The remainder of the Final Top 10 in order were Manchego, Warrawee Ubeaut, Gimpanzee, Caviart Ally, Papi Rob Hanover, Real Cool Sam and Tall Dark Stranger. All 10 raced at the Meadowlands during 2019, with seven of the top eight having raced on TVG/Fall Final Four Night on Nov. 23. THIS WEEKEND: On Dec. 6, poker players who are 21 and older can hold'em and fold'em on "Free Poker Friday". The free Texas Hold'em tournaments begin at 7 p.m. track side. ... Also on Friday, get some help with holiday shopping by entering a chance to win a gift card to a major department store. $1,500 in gift cards will be up for grabs. An entry form will be in the live program. ... On Saturday (Dec. 7), the Meadowlands and Peter Grandich and Company will host "Football Night". Longtime New York Jets standout Joe Klecko and his son, three-time Super Bowl winner Dan, will be available for autographs and pictures from 6:30-7:30 p.m. TOYS FOR TOTS NEW DATE: Due to the bad weather that hit the Metropolitan area, the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots Annual Holiday Toy Drive Reception that was originally scheduled for Dec. 2, will now take place at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for a child at Harlem Grown, a charitable organization in Harlem. If you do, not only will you help a youngster have a happy holiday, but you will also get to greet New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, the honorary Captain of the 2019 Toys for Tots Campaign. FOX5 sportscaster Tina Cervasio will host the event, where some of Enunwa's Jets teammates will also be on hand. For those who cannot make it but would like to help, they can bring a new, unwrapped toy to the track between now and the night of the event. From the Meadowlands Media Department  

Hannelore Hanover enjoyed many big moments in many of harness racing's biggest races during her illustrious career, but when co-owner Frank Baldachino looked back on the trotting mare's accomplishments, it was her performance in an open handicap at The Meadowlands in July 2016 that came to the forefront. Late on a Friday night, the then 4-year-old Hannelore Hanover faced older male rivals with Grand Circuit credentials for the first time since leaving her home state of Indiana. She went off stride just after completing the first quarter of the race but rallied down the stretch with a :26.1 final quarter to beat returning Dan Patch Award-winner JL Cruze by a half-length in a track-record-equaling 1:51.1. "That just stands out as a great race to me," Baldachino said Saturday night (Nov. 23) during Hannelore Hanover's retirement ceremony at The Meadowlands following a third-place finish in the TVG Mare Trot. "It doesn't get a lot of accolades, but it was a super mile. That's when I knew she really, really arrived." That arrival in 2016 foreshadowed more great moments to come. She ended 2016 with 17 wins in 20 races and took home the Dan Patch Award for best older female trotter. A year later, Hannelore Hanover became the fastest female trotter in history with a 1:49.2 win at Lexington's Red Mile, beat the boys in both the Breeders Crown Open Trot and Maple Leaf Trot, and became the first trotting mare since Moni Maker in 1999 to be named U.S. Horse of the Year. The 7-year-old Hannelore Hanover, by Swan For All out of High Sobriety, was trained by Ron Burke and finished her career with 46 wins in 87 starts and $3.06 million in purses. She was owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. In addition to her Breeders Crown Open and Maple Leaf Trot victories, she won a Breeders Crown Mare Trot, a record three Armbro Flight finals, two TVG Mare Trot championships, the Hambletonian Maturity, Centaur Trotting Classic, Fresh Yankee, Cutler Memorial, Muscle Hill, Allerage Open Trot, and Miami Valley Distaff. She was an Indiana Sire Stakes champ at age 3. "She's a tremendous horse," regular driver Yannick Gingras said. "She's one of the best ones I've ever driven; she's definitely right there at the top. What I really liked about her is that every time you went on the track you knew what you were going to get. You got behind her and you knew she was going to give you 110 percent. Most nights, 110 percent was enough." Gingras pointed to the 2017 Maple Leaf Trot win as his favorite. "I had never won the Maple Leaf Trot before, and the year before we got beat right on the wire," Gingras said. "I thought maybe we could have won it that year and (it was great) to come back the following year and win it. It was a dominant year for her. If I had to pick one race, it would definitely be my favorite." Hannelore Hanover's 1:49.2 win in the 2017 Allerage Open Trot was not far from the top, either. "That's right up there too," Gingras said. "She had so many great performances, it's hard to pinpoint one or two or three. She's been a pleasure all throughout." Added Baldachino about her 1:49.2 mile, "She was the first mare to ever go under 1:50 and they can never take that away from her. That's pretty special." Hannelore Hanover, named in honor of top female amateur driver Hannelore Würzinger of Germany, was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and will return there to begin her broodmare career. She will be bred to Greenshoe in 2020. "We have a great business relationship with Hanover Shoe Farms, and it was just the right fit for her to go back home and start her broodmare career," Baldachino said. "Hopefully it's real successful. We all can't wait to see the first one on the ground." Gingras said he would like the chance to drive Hannelore Hanover's first foal by Greenshoe. "I'd put my name in the hat," he said with a laugh. "Hopefully my name would come out first." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

JK First Lady and driver Yannick GIngras used outside cover and came on in the stretch to best Rocknificent at the wire in the $411,000 Three Diamonds Final for two-year-old harness racing pacing fillies. The daughter of Western Ideal, the first foal from the Harness Horse of the Year mare, JK She's A Lady, who also won this race in 2014, covered the one mile race in a lifetime best record of 1:49.2, which was also the track and stakes record. She is trained by Nancy Takter and owned and was bred by the 3 Brothers Stable of New York, NY. She paid $8.20 to win. Rocknificent was second with Lyons Sentinel third. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

Always A Prince and driver Yannick Gingras stole the show in the $350,000 TVG Open Pace Final Saturday at the Meadowlands. Starting from post eight, Yannick sent the four-year-old gelding by Always A Virgin right to the front and never looked back. The duo held the field at bay and then pulled away in the stretch for a 1:48.2 triumph. He is trained by Tyler George and is owned by Carl and Melanie Atley of Xenia, Ohio. He paid $12.00 to win. Bettor's Wish was second with American History third. "It was the first time I ever drove him was tonight," said Yannick Gingras. "He was really nice to drive." by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

CHESTER, PA - The millionaire racing racehorse Dayson overcame adversity in starting position and racing fortune to win the $18,000 featured harness racing trot at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, able to rally after a fast half to win in 1:54.1. The victorious Conway Hall gelding was part of the quick early tempo, as driver Yannick Gingras had him four-wide early, then backed off and tucked midpack as Sylvesteramericanit wound up on the lead after a :26.4 quarter, Armageddon Seelster wound up in the pocket, and Izoh had to take a lot of fresh Philly air in the two-path. Things proceeded in that fashion to the :55.4 half, and then Gingras moved his trotter quickly two- and three-wide to get by the embattled leaders before the 1:24.3 three-quarters. Dayson continued on authoritatively to win by two lengths over Armageddon Seelster, who came through between horses to claim second place. Dayson pushed his career earnings to $1,136,677, and he furthered his reputation as a frequent winner, scoring for the tenth time this year and the 35th in his career, putting up a success ratio in the vicinity of 45% in both categories. Ron Burke conditions the talented veteran for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Lawrence Karr. The Cantab Hall gelding Mississippi Storm, who actually was the favorite in last week's top class while finishing second, saw the earnings combination break right for him, and he took advantage of a single-level drop to win the $14,500 co-feature trot in 1:54.2. Like Dayson, Mississippi Storm did not have it easy - parked early before tucking in for driver Marcus Miller, then having to move uncovered late in the backstretch - but he stayed on to get the job done by 1¼ lengths over closing Kinda Lucky Lindy. Mississippi Storm has now earned six figures in each of the last two seasons for trainer Tom Fanning and owner Joseph Smith. Marcus Miller and George Napolitano Jr. each recorded three wins on the Thursday card at Philly. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Dover, DE - Captain Crunch punished the harness racing field he faced in an all-age track record performance, capturing the elimination round for next Wednesday’s $335,000 Hap Hanson Progress Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings, at Dover Downs. Captain Crunch, recovered from last week’s break in the Matron Stakes at Dover Downs. Driver Yannick Gingras cut fractions of :26.4, :54, and 1:21.1 before stopping the teletimer in 1:47.3. The previous all-age track record at Dover was 1:48 and was co-held by Heston Blue Chip (2012) and Bandolito (2014). Captain Crunch, sired by Captaintreacherous, is owned by 3 Brothers Stables, C.Takter, Rojan Stables and Caviart Farms. Trainer Nancy Takter Johansson, was involved in a vehicular accident, traveling to Dover Downs, earlier in the evening.  She arrived about twenty minutes prior to her race and was ok. US Captain finished second and American Mercury finished third. Race favorite Southwind Ozzi finished last and did not qualify for the final. The second leg of the Delaware Standardbred Breeders’ Fund for two-year-old filly pace was contested in two $20K divisions as the Daily Double on the evening card at Dover. Members of USTA District 11 who had attended the district meeting flowed over to enjoy dinner and watch. The first division was a repeat of last week as Bag Of Jewels (Roddy’s Bags Again-Artist Jewels) led from the rail post from start to finish in a lifetime record mile of 1:57.1 for driver Victor Kirby and trainer Les Givens. Spin Sumthin followed in second and I’m Two Soxy got up for show. The winner is owned by the group of Henry Faragalli,III, Art Feeney, Bay Pond Racing and Bonuccelli Racing. The breeder is Winbak Farm. The second division was another repeat of the first leg with Cinder Rock (Rockabillie-Cinderella) cruising home easily in 1:56 for driver Allan Davis and trainer Wayne Givens. She is owned by Legacy Racing of DE, Inc. and bred by Elam Esh. Top 8-point getters will race in a $100K final on Wednesday, November 27th. There is a combined $15,000 consolation for fillies and the qualifying pacing colts. From Dover Downs and the DSBF

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Atlanta tuned up for next week's TVG Mares Trot by winning the Saturday night harness racing feature at the Meadowlands in dominant fashion. The fastest trotter in Big M history by virtue of her 1:49.1 clocking on July 6 of this year, Atlanta toyed with a talented field in the mile oval's featured $30,000 Preferred for trotters. Sent to the gate as the 3-5 public choice, driver Yannick Gingras put Atlanta on the early lead, hitting the quarter in :27.3. After a sleepy second fraction of :29.4 followed, it was all but over right then and there. The 4-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip never had an anxious moment, hitting the finish 2¼ lengths in front of the pocket-sitting-throughout Guardian Angel As in 1:52.2. Southwind Chrome rallied for third. The winner returned $3.40 to her backers. "I couldn't be happier with her," said Gingras. "She trotted right to the wire better than she has in a little while." "The track wasn't playing super fast," said winning trainer Ron Burke. "There might have been a bias against horses racing on the front end. It's the best performance Atlanta has had on the front this year. We could not have asked for anything more. She was straight all the way to the wire. I can't take anything bad out of the race." Atlanta has now won 20 of her 38 career starts and earned $1,866,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor. Atlanta's stablemate, Hannelore Hanover, raced first over at the half but never threatened before weakening and finishing last in the field of eight. The lifetime earner of more than $3 million, who will face Atlanta when she makes her final career start in the TVG Mares Trot on Nov. 23, had some problems in her next-to-last race. "She bled again," said Burke of Hannelore Hanover. "It happens intermittently. That's why she's not who she was before. She's not the same because of it. That's why it's time to call it quits. We'll treat her this week and she'll be better on Saturday." A LITTLE MORE: Tim Tetrick drove four winners on the card. ... Dexter Dunn stayed hot, as after winning three on the Friday card, he won three more on Saturday. ... Favorites ruled for a second straight night as eight post-time choices won Saturday after a half-dozen scored on Friday. ... The 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 paid $4,060.24 to the pair of players who lasted eight legs. ... All-source handle on the 13-race card was $2,412,658. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

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