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TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, March 5, 2015 - The Hippodrome 3R management team wants every horse owner and trainer in North America to not miss the March 15 nomination payment for the 2015 $200,000 Prix D'Ete. The race is only eligible to four-year-old pacers with the top eight money earners in 2015 at time of entry going into the rich final. The race will be held on Sunday, August 23. Last year's revival of the one-time richest stakes event in all of Canada saw trainer Jimmy Takter's Sunfire Blue Chip rewrite the all-age track record at 3R with an amazing 1:50.3 mark over the 3R half mile oval. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Sunfire Blue Chip's clocking erased the prior record by nearly two full seconds and he started the race from post eight. "Not only was it great to come back to my home track and win the Prix D'Ete with Sunfire Blue Chip," said Gingras, but it was so special to win in front of my family and friends. I can't want to come back and compete in the Prix D'Ete again this year." There is a big resurgence of major stakes for four-year-old pacers in 2015 with the new formats for the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs and the Graduate Series at the Meadowlands and Tioga Downs. They will take place in May and June. Last year the Prix D'Ete was the richest race in North America for four-year-old pacers. To get the nomination form and for the payment schedule, rules and regulations for the Prix D'Ete go to www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club

Coming off his first loss since December 13th, Rockeyed Optimist returned to the Meadowlands with a vengeance, winning his division of The Sonsam harness racing pacing series in 1:50.3. The first $17,500 division went post-ward as race two on the Saturday program with a field of six and Rockeyed Optimist was sent off as the 3/5 betting choice from post position one. The early speed came from Bettorever, fresh off his runner-up effort in round one with Corey Callahan. In fact, Bettorever would proceed to cut the mile, establishing fractions of 26.3, 55.4 and 1:24.4, stealing a 58.1 middle-half under no pressure, that is until Rockeyed Optimist and Brett Miller made their move. The favorite, a son of Rocknroll Hanover, sat back in fourth position early on and was guided to the outside approaching the half-mile pole where he would proceed first over, eventually racing on even terms with the pace-setter. Turning for home, Rockeyed Optimist exploded and powered away from the field winning in a sparkling 1:50.3, pacing the final quarter in an absurdly-fast 25.4. The win was one of four on the card for Brett Miller on the heels of his four-win performance Friday night. Rockeyed Optimist is trained by Steve Elliot for Anthony Perretti, Virginia Berkner, A and B Srable and Joseph Battaglia. With the win, Rockeyed Optimist has surged past $100,000 in lifetime earnings while earning his ninth win of his career from 23 starts. Major Uptrend will be shooting for the series sweep, following his win in the second division of The Sonsam on Saturday night. After briefly allowing JK Patriot to claim the early lead, Yannick Gingras quickly guided Major Uptrend to the lead before the opening quarter and would click off fractions of 28, 55.4 and 1:23.4 before facing just mild pressure from Company Man who moved first over. In the stretch, Gingras called to the Somebeachsomewhere gelding and the response was evident as there was never an anxious moment through the stretch. Major Uptrend won while racing well within himself equaling the mark of 1:50.3, identical to the winning time of Rockeyed Optimist in the first division of The Sonsam. Major Uptrend is trained by Ron Burke for Howard Taylor. In other racing action, National Seelster, the three year old colt that opened eyes winning upon debut two weeks ago returned to the races on Saturday night and returned with another win. Allowed to sit the pocket throughout the mile, National Seelster found room late in the stretch up the pylons and accelerated rapidly to win again, in 1:53.1. National Seelster, a son of Bettor's Delight is now two for two to start the career. An intriguing match-up could be on the horizon between a pair of undefeated and lightly raced three olds in the William "Buddy" Gilmour series between National Seelster and Wiggle It Jiggle It. The latter won a division of the first round of the Sonsam series and will square off with Rockeyed Optimist and Major Uptrend in the final of that series before tackling National Seelster in the Gilmour. The fifth race Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed, but there were only two winning tickets which were paid a dividend of $4,257. The last race jackpot also carried over to the tune of $123,827 into the last race on the Thursday program, which will begin at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, February 9, 2015 – The Hippodrome 3R harness racing track in Quebec is ready to ring in the New Year with great racing and improvements for the 2015 season. The half mile oval will feature 40 days and nights of live racing action along with a robust stakes schedule and special events throughout the season. Opening day will be Sunday, May 3. Starting right off the bat, the track will switch from Tuesday night live racing to Wednesday nights for 2015 and will feature 15 live race cards under the lights with first race post time at 7:00 pm. Sunday afternoons will still be the mainstay of the season with 25 programs and a new post time of 1:30 pm, a half hour later then in 2014. And speaking of the Prix D’Ete, the Hippodrome 3R’s premier stakes event will take place in 2015 on Sunday, August 23. The race not only saw the great Sunfire Blue Chip and driver Yannick Gingras cruise the track in 1:50.3, but that clocking lowered the all-age track record by a full two seconds. The Prix D’Ete will once again be for four-year-old pacers with the top eight nominated horses with the highest money earned in 2015 eligible for the race. And speaking of track records, 2014 was a banner season as 19 track records were either rewritten or equaled during the race meet and the action looks to be even better for 2015. The Hippodrome 3R will again host the Quebec-Bred Series for two, three and four-year-olds in 2015 with more than $1,000,000 in prize money on the line. The purse structure for the meet will remain the same in 2015 as it was in 2014, which was a 50% increase over the prior year. “We are anxiously awaiting for opening day on Sunday, May 3,” said Vincent Trudel, general manager at the Hippodrome 3R. “We know that our 2015 meet will be great. We have created renewed interest in our racing product both locally and via simulcasting and are already working to improve our product this year. “We have signed up more simulcast locations to take our signal in 2015,” Trudel said. “And we are looking to have both harness racing and thoroughbred racing handicapping tournaments throughout our simulcasting off-track-betting network with the overall winners going to the national tournaments. We feel this will be very exciting for our horse players in Quebec.” There will also be a new set of wheels going around the half mile oval at 3R as track management has purchased a brand new Ford F-250 truck that is being outfitted by Howard’s Starting Gate in Ohio. The new starting gate will feature a 12 foot slant from the one post to the eighth position that will enable horses with outside starting positions a more competitive start. Then on October 11, the Hippodrome 3R will feature its third annual Drivers Tournament headlined by return winners Yannick Gingras and Jody Jamieson if possible plus a surprise guest competitor to be named later in the season. “We had a good season of competition in 2014,” Trudel added, “and we expect to improve on that this year. Our colony of drivers, trainers and owners continues to grow in Quebec and thus we feel the competition at our races in 2015 will be that much better.” From the Quebec Jockey Club

The Sonsam pacing series attracted 20 entries for its first round of harness racing competition on Saturday night at The Meadowlands, split into two divisions. The first division went postward in race seven and featured the Escort Champion, Company man, who was sent off as the slight 9/5 favorite. JK Patriot, third in the Escort Final was also in the field. The newcomer on the scene was the three year old invading from Dover, Wiggle It Jiggleit for George Teague Jr. The speed came from JK Patriot, who made the lead early and hit the opening quarter in 27 seconds before yielding that lead to the oncoming Company Man who cleared the lead down the backstretch, reaching the half in 56 seconds. At that point, Montrell Teague decided it was time to move Wiggle It Jiggleit into contention as they went first over around the far turn, into a 26.4 third quarter. But, that did not phase the three year old one-bit as Wiggle It Jiggleit powered through the stretch, lengthening his stride and won impressively in 1:49.4, establishing a sub-1:50 mark in just his third lifetime start. As of now, the sky appears the limit for this three year old son of Mr Wiggles. Clyde Francis trains the gelding for George Teague Jr. Inc. Bettorever was second and JK Patriot checked in third. The second division of the Sonsam featured an interesting matchup of the razor sharp Rockeyed Optimist and the highly talented Major Uptrend. It would be Major Uptrend, The Escort runner-up who established the pace through fractions of 27.1, 55.1 and 1:23.3, while seeing pressure from Fritzie Pic Up Man who was challenging first over. In the meantime, Rockeyed Optimist, the 1/2 favorite was looming second over as the field turned for home and he would flip three wide for the drive. Yannick Gingras then asked Major Uptrend for more speed and he and Rockeyed Optimist would sprint to the wire together, with Major Uptrend narrowly holding off the favorite to win in 1:50.4. The winner is trained by Ron Burke for Howard Taylor. Rediscovery was third. The $25,000 Dash For The "C" Notes Final was also contested for the pacers on Saturday with 6/5 favorite Dragon Lore living up to his advanced billing, scoring an impressive victory in 1:51.1 with Corey Callahan in the sulky, rallying from just off the pace. Road Untraveled was second and Sir Melo's Z Tam third. Dragon Lore is trained by Mark Capone for Thomas Magliozzo, Steve Schachner and Christopher Duffy. Both Jackpot Super Hi-5 wagers continued to see their carryovers grow. The fifth race carryover is now $16,540.98, while the last race carryover grew to $102,498, surpassing the $100,000 mark for the first time. The bet continues to grow in popularity, with its largest amount bet into the last race pool to date on Saturday of over $36,000. Yannick Gingras won the last three races on the card, totaling four wins on the Saturday program after a grand slam on Friday as well. The 13-race Saturday program handled $3,328,477. Racing returns on Thursday with a 10-race program featuring the second round of the Charles Singer Memorial Trotting Series. Post time is 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

Heading into the first round of the Burning Point series for pacing mares, all eyes were on the re-match of Worldly Beauty winner Witch Dali and her rival and runner-up from that same series, Donttellruss. New to the party was the Ron Burke trained Southwind Serentiy, a fine compliment to her stablemate, Donttellruss. Such a fine compliment, that Yannick Gingras, given his choice of the two, opted to Southwind Serenity. That harness racing entry was sent off as the 1/2 favorite, with Witch Dali the 2-1 second choice. But someone forgot to tell Empress Deo that this was a three-horse race. The early lead belonged to Southwind Serenity, who was hustled to the front by Gingras and established a 27.1 opening quarter under no pressure. She was allowed to coast through a 55.4 half-mile as her stable-mate, Donttellruss committed first over. But it was a slow grind and Southwind Serenity appeared comfortable as she reached three-quarters in 1:24. Witch Dali loomed as a menacing presence from second over as the field turned for home. But when the field straightened up in the stretch and Gingras asked his mare for more, there was no real response. Donttellruss had stalled first over at this point, Witch Dali kicked off cover and Somenicebeach pulled the pocket and was in contention. But behind all that, Empress Deo, hopelessly locked in on the pylons was angled all the way to the outside by Brett Miller and as soon as she saw clear racetrack in front of her, she exploded and stormed past the entire field to win in 1:51.4. Somenicebeach was second and Witch Dali third. The winner was trained by Wayne Givens for Legacy Racing Of Delaware Inc. She returned $30.20 to win. The $25,000 Dash For The "C" Notes for the trotters was contested Friday night at The Meadowlands. The race featured an overwhelming favorite in Rock Of Cashel at 1/2. There was plenty of action throughout the mile with four lead changes between the start and the three-quarter pole. Rock Of Cashel turned for home with the lead, but the field was closing in. Meanwhile, Perfect Picture, a 70-1 longshot was blocked and looking for racing room. Suddenly she found it inside the 1/8th pole and rallied to score a huge upset to kick off the late pick four, a sequence that returned over $24,000 for a $.50 cent ticket. My Muscleman was second and Rock Of Cashel faded to third. The winner was driven by Trace Tetrick for trainer Amber Buter, and owners Oldford Farms LLC and Tyler Buter. The same trainer and owner connections of the Thursday night Dash For The "C" Notes winner, Antigua Hanover. In the 11th race, a nw15000L5 condition event for pacing mares, Shebestingin, the fastest pacing mare of all time made her return to the races. She was taken off the pace, followed cover and rallied to finish second as the 1/2 favorite, defeated by 29-1 longshot, Addy's Way. Trainer Joe Holloway indicate in a pre-race interview that Shebestingin would need to return to the top level or she would likely head to the breeding shed for this breeding season. The brothers' Tetrick combined for four wins on the program, while Yannick Gingras hit a grand slam himself. The fifth race $.20 cent Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed tonight, resulting in a $12,996.60 carryover into the Saturday program. The last race jackpot also was not hit, and that carryover now stands at $94,175.03. That means there will be well over $100,000 on the line in the last race Jackpot Super Hi-5 on Saturday night. Post Time for the 13-race program, featuring the first round of the Sonsam series is 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC

The feature race on the Saturday Night harness racing program at The Meadowlands was the $20,000 B-1/A-2 Handicap Pace. The race favorite was Ultimate Beachboy leaving from the outside post, sent off as the 3/2 choice. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Ultimate Beachboy was asked for speed throughout the first quarter of a mile and cleared the lead nearing that first quarter in 27.1. Gingras and his gelding settled into a high-cruising speed and the 5yr old Somebeachsomewhere gelding reeled off solid fractions, including a 54-second half-mile and hitting three-quarters in 1:22.1. Ultimate Beachboy turned for home clinging to that lead while facing a challenge from pocket sitting Capozzo. When it was clear that Capozzo was not going by, a new challenge emerged in the hard-charging Ontario Success who rallied boldly on the far outside, but narrowly missed to a game Ultimate Beachboy, who completed the mile in 1:49.4 on a cold, windy night in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The win was one of five on the card for Yannick Gingras. Ultimate Beachboy is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and M1 Stable and J Piatt III. The Saturday program also included six division of the Dash For The "C" Notes for the pacers. Only a win would guarantee a berth into the $25,000 Final next Saturday. The six winners were, Why Don't U Stay (1:52 - Gingras), Hare Craft (1:52 - D. Miller), Hunchie (1:51.2 - Gingras), Rock Star (1:52 - Tetrick), Road Untraveled (1:52.1 - Simons) and Dragon Lore (1:50.3 - Gingras) There were six second place finishers, of which four will make the $25,000 Final, drawn by lot. Those six were Jack Attack, Bakersfield, Abelard Hanover, Magic Tricks, Sir Melo's Z Tam and New Kind. Both Jackpot Super Hi-5's went unclaimed Saturday. The fifth race carryover stands at $7,487.21 while the last race carryover grew to $82,698.99. Racing resumes on Thursday, featuring the first round of the Charles Singer Series. Post time is 7:15 P.M.   Darin Zoccali

The first of the Dash For The "C" Notes mini-series this week at The Meadowlands got underway on Thursday night with the filly and mare pacers. It was contested in four divisions requiring a horse finish first or second to guarantee a spot in the $25,000 harness racing Final next week. The word of the night was upset. The first division saw a mild upset as SGT Molly Pitcher (9/2), who led early in the mile, yielded to pressure and re-rallied to score the win in a lifetime best 1:51.2 for driver Vincent Ginsburg. The winner was trained and owned by Robert Ginsburg Jr. Next up was another upset as Antigua Hanover overcame post 10 to score a sharp first over victory at 8-1. Forced to press the pace uncovered after leaving smartly from the outside post, Antigua Hanover just kept on coming wearing down favored Best Boss to win in 1:52.1. Antigua Hanover was driven to victory by Andy Miller for Amber Buter and owners Oldford Farms LLC and Tyler Buter. The third division was captured by 11-1 Weekend Getaway and Yannick Gingras. Entering the contest off a seven week layoff, Weekend Getaway went first over, wearing down Marty Party on the far turn and then holding that mare at bay through the stretch to win in 1:51.2, easily a lifetime mark. Weekend Getaway is trained by Phil Fluet who co-owns the mare with Keith Franklin. The final division also featured an upset winner as Deliciouslynaughty worked out a perfect second over trip to score the victory at 12-1. The race became wide open when 3/5 favorite, Bring Them Home, broke on the first turn. Deliciouslynaughty tracked cover and chased down Rhapsody Rose who did the work on the lead to score in 1:52.4 for John Campbell. The winner was trained by Mark Ford who also owns the mare. The $.20 cent Jackpot Super Hi-5 in both races went unclaimed. The fifth race carryover stands at $1,797.86 while the last race carryover has grown to $71,788.83. Post Time for the Friday program is 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

January 24, 2015 - The Prix Ready Cash (€60,000 purse, 2850 meters, 18 European harness racing six year-old males and geldings) went to Rooibus (6m Rotation-Miss Tresami) ) in 1.14.6kr for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop. Off at 5/1 the winner handled another 5/1 shot, Italy’s Paparazzi (6g Infinitif-Emily di Jesolo) with Adrian Kolgjini up. 2.3/1 favorite Princes di Paggio (6m Varenne-Moon Shadow) was third for Franck Nivard. The Prix Varenne (€55,000 purse, 2175 meters, monte with eight European starters) went to Scoot To Score (6g Quite Easy-Twilight Sund) at 19/1. Vincent Martens trains the winner and Jonathan Carre was up as he scored in 1.14.4kr to defeat Valentino Neige (6g Norman Jet-Notre Neige) and Mathieu Mottier. Viking Dream was third for Eric Raffin. Bjorn Goop teamed the Daniel Reden trainee Call Me Keeper (5m Pine Chip-Aliza Keeper), at 1.2/1 odds, to victory in the Prix de Chateaubriant (€50,000 purse, 2700 meters, 18 European starters). Stall Zet owns the winner. Lionel (5m Look de Star-Aurora Sign) was second for Frank Nivard, trainer Fabrice Souloy and owner Goran Antonsen, ahead of Aventin Belri (5m Fortuna Fant-Kolarkie) at 13/1. Time was 1.14.5kr. The Prix Offshore Dream (€70,000 purse, 2700 meters, 11 European monte starters) went to 1.7/1 Argan du Loulay (5m Jam Pridem-Ma Bella Ile) with Alexandre Abrivard up for J-M Bazire, trainer. The winner scored in 1.14.1kr over As de Godisson (5g Gai Brillant-Deese de Godisson) and David Thomain. Astre Blanc was third at 26/1 for Mathieu Mottier and trainer Sebastian Guarato. The final of the sunny afternoon at Paris-Vincennes (Prix Moni Maker) was the second drive of the day for US reinsman Yannick Gingras and first at the volt start. Teaming Franck Anne’s Bahira Buissunay at 22/1, Gingras found an excellent starting spot and was away nicely until the false-start siren sounded. On the second start the mare was among a cluster of horses trying to depart from the inside and she was forced toward the back. The race developed with three tiers and when Gingras  sought to make a backside brush on the petite piste his mare made a miscue and was disqualified. At least he had two volt experiences and will likely have a bit more luck when it counts tomorrow. Thomas H. Hicks

January 24, 2015 - Erik Adielsson put Sweden’s veteran On Track Piraten (7g Kool du Caux-Monrovia) on the front early and led throughout to record a three length harness racing score timed in 1.12.2kr in this Gr. III Prix du Luxembourg (€110,000 purse, 2100 meters autostart, Quinte+). The Stall Morkermassa owned campaigner is trained by H.R. Stromberg and he was off as 1.9/1 favorite. Un Fille d’Amour (7f Infant du Bossis-Never So Great) was second at 11.5/1 for David Thomain with Ru de l’Airou (10g Cygnus d’Odyssee) third at 31/1 for Pierre Levesque. Backfire was fourth for Jos. Verbeeck driving. The winner finished briskly after an even pace (fractions 1.11.2kr at 1500; 1.13.1kr at 1000l 1.13.1kr at 500 and 1.12.2kr at finish). The race record was set in 2011 by Rapide Lebel in 1.10.9kr. Turbo Jet took the 2014 edition. Yannick Gingras driven SHT’s Playmate raced well but finished eighth timed in 1.13.2kr for trainer Anders Lindqvist. This mare was in the Arqana Trot sale last evening but did not achieve reserve. Gingras first mount Pershing Bi was a scratch in the second race. Thomas H. Hicks  

For the first time this harness racing meet, there was a back to back winner in the Free For All Handicap Pace at The Meadowlands and his name is Doctor Butch. Doctor Butch showed good speed early in the mile for Tim Tetrick, who elected to sit the pocket behind the hard-leaving Beach Memories. The pacesetter established an opening quarter of 26.3 and while not feeling any pressure on the lead, settled down and reached the half-mile in 54.4. From there Beach Memories picked up the pace, with Casimir Jitterbug stalling first over. Doctor Butch was able to stick with the leader through a third quarter of 27 seconds flat. Wake Up Peter kicked off dull cover and came with his rally in the stretch as Doctor Butch took dead aim from the pocket. The field closed in on Beach Memories nearing the wire, with Doctor Butch grabbing the lead and holding off the rally of Wake Up Peter to score in a sensational 1:48.4. A son of Art Major Doctor Butch is trained by Linda Toscano for Kenneth Jacobs. Major Uptrend may have been making his debut for the Ron Burke stable, but he picked up right where he left off, in the winner's circle, this time in the first round of The Escort pacing series. Sent off as the 2/5 betting choice, Major Uptrend settled just off the speed of Khan Blue Chip through an opening quarter in 27.2. Moving past the three-eighths pole, Major Uptrend made an aggressive move to the lead for new pilot Yannick Gingras and settled in through a half-mile of 56 seconds. Not feeling any pressure, Major uptrend coasted through a 28.2 third panel before sprinting to the wire in just 26.1 to score a compelling victory over Khan Blue Chip in 1:50.3, which established a new lifetime mark for the four year old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere. I Am Will shook free late to be third. Major Uptrend is owned by Howard Taylor. The second division of The Escort was a more competitive event on paper as it looked like a three-pronged battle between JK Patriot, Brick Bazooka and Company and it played out that way throughout the mile on the racetrack. JK Patriot showed speed and after briefly relinquishing the lead to Autobiographical, he would move back to the front past an opening quarter of 28 seconds. Big Bazooka was the next to move for John Campbell as he was launched past the three-eighths pole and cleared the lead past the half-mile in 56.3. Company Man was not far behind as he revved his engine and was the next to brush to the front and would clear the lead into the far turn, where he proceeded to widen the margin past three quarters in 1:24.3. Company Man put some daylight between himself and Big Bazooka in the stretch while JK Patriot searched for racing room. Company Man would take them all the way to the wire, winning in 1:51.4 for Tim Tetrick. JK Patriot shook free too late and was a fast-closing second with Brick Bazooka third. Company Man is trained and owned by Daniel Mitchell. The third division of The Escort featured a 3/5 favorite in What I Believe who worked on to earn the victory in 1:51.2.  What I Believe moved to the lead early, before relinquishing the lead briefly on the backstretch and then re-taking the advantage through fractions of 27.4 and 55.4.  He would lead the field through three-quarters of 1:24 before holding off the late charge of Blacktree to score in 1:51.2.  What I Believe gave Yannick Gingras his fifth victory of the night, his fourth teamed up with trainer Ron Burke. What I Believe is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Honorable mention tonight goes to Hurrikane Kingcole, widely known as one of the fastest horses this sport has ever seen.  He got back to his winning ways in a $10,000 C-1 event with a powerful first over performance, completing the mile in 1:49.4. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

Lindy's Tru Grit, who just one month ago was struggling to stay trotting at the C-1 level scored his third consecutive victory since the addition of trotting hobbles Friday night at The Meadowlands, defeating some of the best trotters on the grounds, winning the Free For All Handicap in a lifetime best 1:52.1. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, Lindy's Tru Grit left for position from his inside post and was allowed to sit the pocket behind the pace setting Odds On Amethyst who cut the mile through fractions of 27.3, 55.2 and 1:23.1. The outer flow never developed as Appomattox attempted to rally first over, but never got close to the leaders and Odds On Amethyst was able to lead the field all the way into the stretch. That enabled Lindy's Tru Grit to pull the pocket nearing the top of the stretch, then rallied to the outside of Odds On Amethyst who he wore down coming down to the wire and scored the victory with Andy Miller in the bike. Upfront Billy maintained his position in third throughout the mile. Lindy's Tru Grit is trained by Julie Miller for Lindy Racing Stable and Robert Rudolph. With Dali did it again in the first round of the Wordly Beauty series. Her trainer Tony Alagna said in a paddock interview with Meadowlands television personality Justin Horowitz that With Dali "spent a lot of the last year practicing for her return to the races." Practice makes perfect, literally. Witch Dali has not lost since returning from her year layoff, sporting a perfect five for five record since her first start back on December 5th. She was a dominant winner at The Meadowlands Friday night and looks like the horse to beat in the Worldly Beauty following her 1:51.1 lifetime best performance. Sent right to the lead by Tim Tetrick, the 1/5 prohibitive favorite Witch Dali established a strong pace, setting fractions of 27.1, 55.3 and 1:23.1 before turning for home and pulling away to an impressive 1:51.1 score over longshot Frame Worthy, who chased from the two-hole throughout the mile. Safe From Terror completed the trifecta. Witch Dali is owned by Alagna Racing L.L.C. and Bradley Grant. The favorite-trend continued in the second division of The Worldly Beauty with Donttellruss, sent off as the overwhelming 2/5 choice, scoring the victory in a lifetime best 1:51.2. Yannick Gingras elected to keep the favorite mid-pack while the leaders took turns battling for the front end through fractions of 27.2 and 55.4. It was at that point that Donttellruss made her move for the lead going into the far turn and she had little trouble clearing the front around the turn. Taking the field past three-quarters in 1:24, Donttellruss was feeling pressure from Impatience, who she fought off before fending off the challenge of Empress Deo through the lane, while drawing clear to win decisively. Donttellruss is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Karr and Baladchino. Both Jackpot Super Hi-5 wagers continued to carry over. The fifth race carryover now stands at $14,812.80 while the thirteenth race carryover is now $34,996. Total Handle for the Friday program was $2,901,128. Post Time for the Saturday program, featuring the first round of the Escort Series is set for 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

Columnist Joe Fitzgerald took a look at how the drivers in this year’s top ten (money earned) fared compared with what they did last year. The figures for 2014 run through Saturday December 27, so they’re not perfect year-end numbers, but close enough. A few end-of-year drives by Corey Callahan at Dover Downs are all that’s missing. Nine drivers repeat from 2013, in a different order, of course. Andy Miller, who missed six months after breaking his back in an accident ay Yonkers Raceway in mid-April is out, replaced by Brett Miller, who had an excellent year, moving up nine spots. Six members of the top ten earned less this year than they did last, and eight of them made fewer starts during 2014. Jason Bartlett, who supplanted Sears as the top dog at Yonkers Raceway, and Brett Miller, who was a poor man’s Yannick Gingras with the Burke and Takter stock, were the only two who won more races this year than last. Yannick Gingras, the unanimous choice for USHWA’s Driver of the Year, had 18 fewer wins through Saturday but his earnings were up 18%, which amounts to more than $3 million. All of this with about 100 fewer starts than he made during 2013. The time spent in Sweden with Maven earlier in the year and the current trip to France with that same mare, would account for some of that. Burke and Takter both had spectacular years and Gingras, having first call for both, benefited greatly. Father Patrick, JK Endofanera, Mission Brief, Sassa Hanover, Limelight Beach, Pinkman, Foiled Again, Cartoon Daddy, Gural Hanover, Band Of Angels, Lifetime Pursuit and Maven were a few of his money makers. Tim Tetrick, who will drop down to second, missed the first five weeks of the year recuperating from hip surgery. He made 266 fewer starts through Saturday and won 63 fewer races. His earnings are down a whopping 26%, or $4.2 million. Captaintreacherous’s earnings dropped from $2 million to $175,000 and Market Share saw his 2014 bankroll cut in half. I Luv The Nitelife failed to rebound from an injury and was retired. He’s Watching won the Pace in record time in mid-July, but only won the EBC after that. Classic Martine was very good and Anndrovette was solid. He won some money with Clear Vision and Sayitall BB, and Horse of the Year JK She’salady fell in his lap late in the year. Still, for the most part, the stock wasn’t competitive with the lightning bolts Yannick was steering around the track. Ron Pierce, who turns 59 in June, jumped up from the fifth spot to number three on the earnings list. He made 442 fewer starts and won 89 fewer races, however, his earnings only dropped by 5%, or $581,000. Gingras’ success took some dough from the pockets of all the top guys, but Pierce, crafty dog that he is, managed to sidle in behind $1.2 million dollar earner Shake It Cerry from the Takter barn and $1.3 million dollar earner Sweet Lou from the Burke Barn. He also drove Uncle Lasse, Wild Honey, Yagonnakissmeornot, Lyons Levi Lewis and E L Titan. David Miller has maintained his hold on the four spot on the 2014 list, however, he took a 20% haircut, earning $2.5 million less than last year on 441 fewer starts. His win total dropped by 41. McWicked was second only to Father Patrick in overall earnings with $1.4 million. And even there Miller chose Always B Miki over that one for the Breeders Crown, which didn’t work out when Miki was injured prior to the race. He did get McWicked back for the Progress though. The Buckeye drove Holloway’s pair Shebestingin and Somwherovrarainbow, but neither one of them lived up to expectations. Jolene Jolene was good, but like Tetrick, Miller didn’t have the stock to compete with Gingras. Brian Sears, who straddled Yonkers Raceway and the Grand Circuit again, dropped from number three to number five this year. He had 66 fewer wins in 83 fewer starts and finished more than $4 million short of last year’s total—that’s 30% less. In 2013 he had the richest pair of trotters in the sport, Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, who earned $1.5 million, and Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life, who earned $1.2 million. The latter retired early while BAM disappointed; she earned $421,000 this year. Sears drove freshman hotshot In The Arsenal, and he lucked into the drive behind McWicked in the BC when David Miller only had eyes for Miki. As was the case with Tetrick and David Miller, the stock wasn’t there to compete on the Grand Circuit. Additionally, Jason Bartlett rose up at Yonkers. Corey Callahan, who missed time to the Great Southern Star Trotting Series and the Drivers Invitational in Australia in March, found the six spot again this year. He won last year’s USHWA Rising Star Award and hasn’t looked back. Like Ron Pierce, Corey kept his losses to a minimum. He had 40 fewer winners in 189 fewer starts but only backtracked 7%, or $693,000 in purse money. This constitutes an excellent year for any driver not sitting forward on the Burke-Takter Gravy Train. He picked away at it, winning a sixth consecutive driving title at Dover Downs and soaking up that Delaware sire stakes money; he took a $100,000 final with the filly pacer Totally Rusty three weeks ago. Callahan made 28% of his starts at Dover Downs and earned $2 million there.  Smexi, D’Orsay, Harley Momma, Resolve, Drop The Ball and Tomy Terror were a few of his drives this year. Jason Bartlett stayed close to home, racking up 94% of his more than $8 million in earnings at Yonkers Raceway, where he won a fourth driving title. Busting this year’s pattern, Bartlett made 194 more starts and won 174 more races this year. He earned almost a million dollars more than he did in 2013—that’s a 12% increase over last year. He won 485 times at his Westchester base, that’s 83 and 82 more races than Sears and Brennan won. Matt Kakaley, the only under 30 driver on the list, who handles the Burke horses Yannick passes over, drove in 193 fewer races and won 78 fewer times, but he upped his earnings 7% from 2013, banking an extra $560,000. All Bets Off gave him the biggest win of his career when he took the Messenger. And he won with Cartoon Daddy on the Night of Champions at Yonkers and also drove Bettor’s Edge, Handover Belle, Wishing Stone, Quick Deal, Gatka Hanover and Camille. Brett Miller, who is number nine on the list, had a breakout year in 2014. Like most of the drivers who did well, he was a regular behind Takter and Burke horses. He drove French Laundry, Clear Vision, Donatella Hanover and Krispy Apple, among others. He won eight in a row with Sandbetweenurtoes for Larry Remmen. Wake Up Peter has earned $250,000 this year with Brett driving him. Miller won only 15 more races from almost 400 more drives, but his earnings jumped 35%. He took in $2.7 million more than he did last year. George Brennan has been a regular at Yonkers Raceway since the fall of 2010. In 2011 he won the Hambletonian with Broad Bahn and the Oaks with Bold And Fresh, but over the course of the last three years he has become less inclined to venture out on the Grand Circuit. He gets quite a few drives on Burke’s stock at Yonkers and won the Sheppard with Cartoon Daddy. This year he dropped from number seven to ten. He drove in 44 fewer races, winning 10 fewer times and earning more than $2 million less than he did in 2013—that’s 20% of what he took in last year.  by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

The final field of 18 is set for Sunday’s Prix de Bourgogne, the third “B” leading to the Prix d’Amerique. The lineup is shown (not in post-position order) below, in sequence by career earnings. Some drivers have not yet been listed The Gr. II UET Masters Series International event carries a €120,000 purse over 2100 meters autostart distance. The winner of the race gets an automatic invite to the prestigious Prix D'Amerique. (horse, driver, trainer, career earnings in euros) Viscaria,tbd, Gillot, 346,360 Oibambam Effe, Carro, Carro, 384,992 Viking de Val, Lambertz, Lambertz, 547,340 Solvato, Kihlstrom, Heiskanen, 596,686 Amour d’Occagnes, tbd, Rebiche, 635,180 Soleil du Fosse, tbd, Duvaldestin, 685,160 Talicia Bella, Barrier, J-P Marmion,685,250 Kadett CD, Locqueneux, Bergh, 814,722 Mosaique Face, Kolgjini, Kolgjini, 850,598 Uhlan du Val, C. Megissier, C. Megissier, 895,390 Severino, Bonne, Ch. Bigeon, 956,649 Texas Charm, tbd, Moulin, 1,070,530 Up And Quick, Vercruysse, Leblanc, 1,258,060 Maven, Gingras, J.W. Takter, 1,267,094 Tiego d’Etang, Ch. Bigeon, Ch. Bigeon, 1,394,280 Roxane Griff, E. Raffin, Guarato, 2,567,218 Timoko, Goop, Westerink, 2,824,278 Ready Cash, tbd, Duvaldestin,4,282,300 The richly-talented field should produce an exciting event and should solve questions such as the fitness of Ready Cash and Up And Quick, whether Solvato can handle this deep group, Maven’s ability to handle the ship from the US and Texas Charm’s form as he seeks to defend his victory last year in this race. Earlier it was announced that Bjorn Goop will rein Timoko in the Prix d’Amerique due to his experience versus Criterium Continental winner Tumble Dust. The traditional Christmas Day Quinte+ at Paris-Vincennes features the Prix Constant Herview (Gr. III European, €105,000 purse, 18 starters). This well-balanced group includes Lutfi Kolgjini trainee Olympic Kronos (Locqueneux), Vico du Petit Odon (Bonne), Osiride Grif (Pierre Levesque), Velleroi (Gelormini) and Rapay Merci (Barrier). by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

For the fourth time in his Hall of Fame career, Jimmy Takter is the Trainer of the Year as voted upon by the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Also voted a Dan Patch Award, as Driver of the Year, was Yannick Gingras, who led all drivers in purses this season with more than $17 million. Takter received 84 of 140 votes for Trainer of the Year, finishing ahead of Ron Burke, who got 56 votes. Gingras was the only driver nominated for Driver of the Year by USHWA's chapters. Despite starting horses only 729 times through Dec. 21, Takter's stable earned a career-best $13.35 million, for an average of more than $18,300 per start. Takter, 54, won this year's Hambletonian with Trixton, a horse he also drove to the victory, and the Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit. Takter became only the second trainer to win both races in the same year, joining Jan Johnson from 1988. The Hambletonian was the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown and Takter-trained Nuncio swept the remaining two legs, the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot. In addition, Takter won three Breeders Crown trophies, with 2-year-old male trotter Pinkman, 3-year-old male trotter Father Patrick, and 3-year-old female trotter Shake It Cerry. Shake It Cerry was named the Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year while Pinkman and Father Patrick received divisional honors. Takter dominated the 3-year-old trotting ranks, as he had the top three money-earning colts (Father Patrick, $1.69 million, Nuncio, $1.45 million and Trixton, $893,370) and the top two money-earning fillies (Shake It Cerry, $1.23 million and Lifetime Pursuit, $795,216). Father Patrick and Nuncio made Takter the first trainer in history to have two million-dollar trotters in the same division in the same year. Among Takter's top pacers were 3-year-old male stakes-winners Lyonssomewhere, who captured the Cane Pace, Somewhere In L A and Tellitlikeitis, along with 3-year-old filly stakes-winner Uffizi Hanover. Takter's previous Trainer of the Year honors came in 2010, 2000 and 1996. The 35-year-old Gingras has established career highs in purses, with $17.29 million, and wins, with 555. His earnings led all drivers in North America and were more than $5 million ahead of second place. Never in history has a driver finished at least $5 million in front of his nearest competitor. In addition, Gingras' purses were fourth highest in history for a driver. Gingras won four Breeders Crown titles, victories that were among 15 triumphs worth more than $300,000 this year. Those 15 lucrative wins came with nine different horses and included the Canadian Trotting Classic, Hambletonian Oaks, Little Brown Jug and Cane Pace. A native of Quebec, Gingras was USHWA's 2003 Rising Star Award winner. Takter and Gingras will receive their awards at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet, to be held Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Doubletree Hilton Orlando at Sea World. by Ken Weingartner, for the US Harness Writers Association    

East Rutherford, NJ (December 5, 2014) On a cold and rainy night at The Meadowlands, Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras ran the show. Tetrick was the early star on Friday night winning three of the first four races and four of the first six, but he passed the baton to Gingras who would go on to win three in a row in races 9 through 11, totaling four on the card himself. The Bionic Man guided Super Bowl hopeful Propulsion to a romp in the opener, a non-winners of 2 trot, scoring as the 1/9 favorite in 1:55.1 for trainer Tony Alagna. Propulsion was a 1:52.3 winner this fall at Lexington, was freshened up for the winter and appears to be a name we will come to know well at The Meadowlands this winter. Propulsion is owned by Brittany Farms, Katz, Libfeld, Goldband, Sbrocco and Little E L.L.C. Tetrick also guided Witch Dali to an impressive 1:53.1 score in a non-winners of 2 pace for fillies, despite making her first start in 13 months. Tetrick and Tony Alagna swept the early double as Witch Dali parlayed a pocket trip into a decisive score. Witch Dali looks like a nice fit for the upcoming Worldly Beauty series which begins on January 9th at The Meadowlands. She paid $4.40 to win and is owned by Alagna Racing L.L.C. and Aaron Waxman. Yannick Gingras guided Southwind Serenity to a rebound effort in the B-2/B-1 Handicap for three year old filly pacers. Backers who forgave last week's performance were rewarded as the filly returned $12.00 to win, while last week she was a 6/5 betting choice. Southwind Serenity and Gingras took no prisoners, whipping around the track labeled sloppy to win in 1:50.3. The rapid pace of 27-, 55- and 1:22.3 seemed to have little effect on the Ron Burke trainee as she kicked home in 28 seconds flat to win handily. The winner is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver, Bruscemi and Collura. The $22,500 B-1/A-2 Filly and Mare Handicap Pace went to Set Me Up at 3-1, who went straight to the lead and never looked back through fractions of 26.4, 56- and 1:24.4 to win in 1:52. It was the second Gingras/Burke winning connection on the card. The win was the eighth on the season for Set Me Up who went past $100,000 in earnings in the 2014 racing season for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver and Bruscemi. Upfront Billy gave Brett Miller a win in the B-2/B-1 Handicap Trot with Up Front Billy, who rallied boldly again, but this time got up rather easily to score in 1:54.1. Miller tracked cover from a position third over through strong fractions, including a 56.2 middle-half mile, angled out and powered home to win at 9/2. Super Manning was 2nd while the classy Mistery Woman who set the pace as the 4/5 betting choice faded to third. Upfront Billy is trained and co-owned by Mark Ford for Up Front Racing L.L.C. The total handle of $2,273,465 was a six-percent increase from the same Friday in 2013. Handle on harness racing at The Meadowlands has eclipsed $200 Million for the second consecutive year. For the second time in three nights, the jackpot super hi-5 was hit and returned $15,606.68 for the one winning ticket. The pool will start fresh again when racing resumes on Saturday with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

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