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YONKERS, NY, Monday, July 18, 2016 - Yonkers Raceway Monday night hosted the $150,425 New York Sire Stakes Clyde Hirt Pace for harness racing 2-year-old fillies. Five divisions went at it, with a 'dead-heat' for fastest femme. Odds-on numbers Planet Rock ($2.90) and Robin J ($2.10) both owned by Ken Jacobs, trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick, won in life-bests 1:56. The first two events went for $29,725 and $30,325, respectively. The former is a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, while the latter is a Roll with Joe lass. The ma'ams have each won two races in as many tries begin their careers. Toscano and Tetrick did it a tick slower in the fourth ($30,325) event as pole-sitting Worlds Apart ($2.20) opened through the lane in win her purse debut by 8¼ lengths. The daughter of Art Major, 2-for-2 to begin her career, is co-owned by the stable quartet of Radio Racing, Bay's, South Mountain and Little E. The fourth puny parimutuel of the sire stakes evening was a final-gathering ($29,725) Roaring to Go (Brett Miller, $2.70). She matched World Apart's 1:56.1 effort with a snappy, uncovered :27.4 third quarter. The margin was 4¾ lengths for "Roaring'. The daughter of Art Major, owned by Frank Chick and trained by Kevin Lare, is now 2-for-3 in her early going. Jordan Stratton had his sire stakes moment in the sun (it was night racing, but play along) with a first-up That's How We Roll ($19.20), taking the third ($30,325) event in a maiden-busting 1:56.4. Trainer Ray Schnittker co-owns the Art Major miss with Mary Kinsey and Steven Arnold. Frank Drucker

The final winter series' conclude this Saturday at The Meadowlands and it should come as no surprise that the two names that have headlined the winter harness racing meet take center stage once again. JL Cruze (coupled with Razor Ramone) will begin as the 2/5 morning line favorite in the $59,800 Shiaway St. Pat Final, while Rockeyed Optimist has been installed as the 1/5 morning line choice in the $59,000 Clyde Hirt Final. Both are poised to sweep their respective series. For JL Cruze, to say he has exceeded his trainer, Eric Ell's expectations, would be an understatement. Originally a $30,000 Harrisburg yearling, JL Cruze went back through the Harrisburg sales ring this past fall at the mixed sale. In hindsight, the final price this time, $32,000, can be considered a bargain. "I can say now that he has surprised us," said Ell. "When we nominated him to this winter series' (at The Meadowlands) we didn't know if he could go with those, looking back, I guess I wish we would have staked him more for the rest of the season. But when he came to us, there was no way to know he would be this good." As far as this Saturday goes, Ell is expecting another big effort from JL Cruze. "He has had a great week. He has shown a hitch in his giddy-up at times, so we backed off him a bit and he responded. He has been jogging well and is ready to go." After Saturday, the plan is to send his gelding to Pocono for the last two legs of the Bobby Weiss series. "We missed the first two weeks of the Weiss, but hopefully he can do the job in the last two legs and make the Final." The immediate future is more clear than the long term plans for JL Cruze. "After the Weiss, we'll definitely point him to The Graduate series and when The Meadowlands re-opens in the fall maybe we will find something there. He isn't staked too much, but next year will be different." Ironically, the connections of Rockeyed Optimist find themselves in a very similar position as Eric Ell, but are happy with the game plan they have mapped out as well. "(Rockeyed Optimist) just keeps getting better," said trainer Steve Elliot. "With each start he just seems to be more within himself. He's been a pleasure, just a really nice horse." Elliot is not sure why he wasn't more popular went he went through the sales ring as a yearling. "I'm not sure why he didn't sell. At the time everyone was down on Jersey-breds, so maybe that was it. When we first got him he would just sulk in the corner of his stall. We thought he bled, so we put him on Lasix and he went backwards. So we took him off it and turned him out. When we brought him back he was a totally different horse. He's healthier and happier." The long-term future plans for Rockeyed Optimist are still a bit up in the air, but Elliot has no problem with that. "The owners told me to map out a schedule as if I owned the horse, which is just great. They didn't pressure me to stake him into races where he would be going up against gorillas. We've been able to manage him well. He'll go to the Graduate series and then from there we'll see. I wasn't sure if he could go with the Free-For-All types until last week when he paced in 1:48.3. That means he is almost right at that level speed-wise already. He isn't staked much this year, but we'll have a fresh horse as a five year old and as long as he keeps progressing, we'll give him the opportunity to be a Free For All pacer next year." The Clyde Hirt and Shiaway St. Pat headline the Saturday card at The Meadowlands, with post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

Freehold, NJ --- Caviart Luca is not a horse who wins many races, but he also rarely embarrasses himself. The 4-year-old pacer, who on Saturday competes in the $59,000 final of the Clyde Hirt Series at the Meadowlands, has three harness racing victories in 30 lifetime races, but has earned a check in 20 of his most recent 21 starts, a span that dates back to October 2013. So far this year, Caviart Luca has one win and two second-place finishes. Both runner-up performances came in the preliminary rounds of the Hirt Series, where he was second to Rockeyed Optimist in each round. Caviart Luca and driver Andrew McCarthy will start the Hirt final from post four in a six-horse field. “I’m real happy with him,” said trainer Noel Daley, who shares ownership of Caviart Luca with Buck and Judy Chaffee’s Caviart Farms. “I think he’s a pretty decent horse. He does some goofy things, but he’s a big good-going horse. There’s a lot of speed there. He’s always had a heap of speed.” Caviart Luca is a son of stallion Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Caviart Sierra. He is a half-brother to stakes-winner Caviart Sydney. Last year, Caviart Luca finished third behind Always B Miki and Capital Account in a division of the Tattersalls Pace and was fifth in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes. The only time he failed to earn money in his most recent 21 races was when he finished sixth in his elimination for the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male pacers. The gelding has earned $119,722 during his career. “I’ve had a lot of offers to buy him, but I’ve always had the feeling he’s a pretty decent horse if he gets it together,” Daley said. “He’s not the smartest horse racing. I wouldn’t put him in front at this stage of the game. He’d race them if they got to him, but if he got left alone he’s just as likely to pull up. You’ve got to watch what you do with him. “But I’ve always thought he was quick and has ability, and he does.” Rockeyed Optimist won last week’s Hirt preliminary by 3-1/2 lengths over Caviart Luca in a national-season's-best 1:48.3 and he captured the opening round by four lengths in 1:49.3. Rockeyed Optimist will start the final from post one with driver Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Steve Elliott. “That horse is going as good as any around at the moment,” Daley said, adding with a laugh, “We can’t keep coming first over to him every week. That’s not going to beat him. “I don’t know if we can get in a position to beat him. It just doesn’t look a good spot there with a short field.” Following the Hirt Series, Caviart Luca is eligible to the Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the Graduate Series at the Meadowlands. The Weiss Series concludes with a $30,000 final on April 18. The Graduate Series ends with a $250,000 final on July 3. “I put him in the Graduate Series and I think he’ll get pieces there,” Daley said. “He got me a piece against Always B Miki (in the Tattersalls Pace) and I think he’ll be a better horse this year. I don’t know how many races he’s going to win, but he’ll get pieces of them. I think he can whack away and make good money. “Touch wood, he’s sound. I don’t think he’s a champion, but he’s got the makings of a very decent horse. I’ll try to get him through this year and see what happens.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

There have not been many horses, if any, better than Rockeyed Optimist this year. After the second round of the Clyde Hirt series on Saturday at The Meadowlands, there now has not been any horse faster than Rockeyed Optimist this year, as he won this round of the Clyde Hirt in a spectacular 1:48.3. Doctor Butch had paced the fastest mile of 2015 prior to Saturday, with a time of 1:48.4 in a Meadowlands Free For All. Rockeyed Optimist, a 1/9 favorite would not lead this field throughout, instead resorting to stalking tactics. The early lead belonged to a keyed up Rock Out, who sailed through strong fractions of 26.2 and 54.4 before receiving a challenge from the previously pocket sitting Caviart Luca, who pulled pocket around the far turn and pulled alongside Rock Out through three-quarters of 1:22.2. While the duel intensified nearing the top of the stretch, Rockeyed Optimist continued to stalk the leaders from third. In mid-stretch, Tim Tetrick guided Rockeyed Optimist to the crown of the racetrack where he flew past the dueling leaders to win emphatically for the sixth time in seven tries this season. The final time of 1:48.3 was a lifetime mark for the winner. Caviart Luca went a good mile to be second with Lord Of Misrule rallying a bit for third. Rockeyed Optimist is owned by Anthony Perretti, Virginia Berkner, A And B Stable and Joseph Battaglia and is trained by Steve Elliot. The Clyde Hirt Final will be contested on Saturday, March 28th. Andy Miller scored a driving triple, while John Campbell and Corey Callahan each won a pair of races. The fifth race Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed, the carryover into the Friday, March 27th program is $58,578.20. The last race will also carryover, with $7,270.06 already in the pool for Friday. Darin Zoccali

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - (Saturday, March 14, 2015) There have not been many better horses in the sport of harness racing this winter than Rockeyed Optimist and his win Saturday night at The Meadowlands in the first round of the Clyde Hirt series may have been his most impressive victory yet. Fresh off his win in the $59,000 Sonsam Final, a lifetime best 1:50 performance, Rockeyed Optimist was a 1/5 favorite to win the $20,000 first round of the Clyde Hirt series and he did not disappoint. Reunited with Tim Tetrick, who returned from the World Drivers Championship in Australia, Rockeyed Optimist sat third early in the mile and was relaxed through a quarter of 26.4 before making his move for the lead. He would spring past Rock Out before the half-mile in 55-seconds and that essentially closed the book on the race. From the moment he seized command, the lead would only expand through the final three-eighths of a mile, sprinting a 27.4 third panel before setting sail for home. At the top of the stretch Tetrick asked his star for speed and the response was devastating as Rockeyed Optimist sprinted to the wire in 26.4 to win by open lengths in a lifetime best 1:49.3. Caviart Luca was the runner-up with Rock Out third. Rockeyed Optimist has now won five times from six starts this season for trainer Steve Elliot and owners Anthony Perretti, Berkner, A&B Stable and Battaglia. The $25,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers featured a competitive field and a thrilling finish. Speed Again and Yannick Gingras made an easy lead off the gate, with Doctor Butch, the 7/5 favorite securing the pocket spot into the first turn. Speed Again rolled through fractions of 27.2, 56.2 and 1:24.2, and Doctor Butch remained right behind the leader throughout the first three-quarters of a mile. Ontario Success moved first over and challenged for the lead around the far turn, effectively keeping Tim Tetrick and Doctor Butch locked in the pocket. That scenario played out in the stretch with Tetrick look for racing room as Ontario Success hit the front in the final eighth of a mile. Blatanly Best was gathering momentum from the back of the pack and began to close in as Tetrick tried to thread the needle between horses nearing the wire. There was just enough room for Doctor Butch as he slipped through and just got his nose on the wire first in 1:51.2. Blatantly Best finished second with Ontario Success not far behind in third. Doctor Butch is trained by Linda Toscano for Kenneth Jacobs. The win was the 20th in the five year olds career.   Darin Zoccali

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, July 22, 2014--Yonkers Raceway Tuesday night hosted the $200,200 New York Sire Stakes Clyde Hirt Pace. The event--for 2-year-oled fillies--was contested in nearly-quartered, $50,050 divisions. The dance team of trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras combined in three of the events...and won each of those. The first grouping was, as advertised, a Westchester waltz for odds-on Sassa Hanover ($2.10). In play from post position No. 5, she pocketed Bin N Heaven (Dough McNair), then strolled through relaxed rest stops of :29.1, :59 and 1:28. A :27.4 final quarter (life-best 1:55.4) saw her end up 2¾ lengths better than "Bin," who herself raced very well from an outside post. Third went to Vraka Hanover (Tim Tetrick). "Sassa," a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Panhellenic Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Larry Karr, is 2-for-2 (both in NYSS). The exacta paid $6.80, with the triple (three wagering favorites in order) returned $12.80. With no show wagering, more than $19,000 of the $20,000-plus in the place pool was in support of Sassa Hanover. "I've been impressed since I baby-raced her," Gingras said. "Tonight was basically a training mile. You want to see manners and guts when they're just beginning, and she showed both." Trainer/driver also took down the third and fourth sub-sections with faves Band of Angels ($5) in a night's-fastest/life-best 1:54.4, and Bettor N Better ($2.70) in 1:56. "(Band of Angels) was able to rate (:29, :58.2, 1:27.4), but a '27' last quarter here for a 2-year-old is something," Gingras said. The daughter of Rock N' Roll Heaven defeated One Hot Majorette (Mark MacDonald) by a half-length, with Ameritime (Brent Holland) third. "I thought Bettor N Better may have a behind the other two (Sassa Hannover and Band of Angels) early, but she's catching up fast. I would have been just as happy sitting behind Timmy (Tetrick, driving Zip Code Envy), but it worked out with me cutting the mile. Bettor N Better, a Bettor's Delight lass, was a length better than a first-up Heavenly Bride (Brian Sears) in life-best effort, with Zip Code Envy third. All three of the Burke/Gingras winners are 2-for-2 to begin their careers, with NYSS wins here and Monticello. Newly-minted Harness Hall of Famer Dave Miller and an off-the-pace Bettor Be Steppin' ($16.80) won the second NYSS event in a maiden-breaking 1:56.4. Starting from post No. 6, she held off 58-1 My Little Delight (Jason Bartlett) by a neck in battle of closers, with Bullville Maggie (Gingras) third. Even-money choice She's Heavenly (Mike Lachance) brushed to the lead, met pressure from Devil Child (Jimmy Whittemore), then faded to last. "She was zigging and zagging a bit late," Miller said of Bettor B Steppin'. "It was her first start on a half, and the last turn may have come up a bit quicker than she was ready for." The daughter of Bettor's Delight, trained by Joe Holloway, New York Sire Stakes continue Thursday night, with the $217,000 Michael Sorentino Trot for 3-year-old colts/geldings. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, July 17, 2014-The Empire's best 3-year-old colts and geldings-save for He's Watching-invaded Yonkers Raceway Thursday night for the $221,000 New York Sire Stakes Armand Palatucci Pace. The odds-on gelding Twin B Tenacious (Steve Smith, $3.90) won the first ($72,800) division from second-over. Unhurried from the pole, "Tenacious" chased Twin B Speedo (Mark MacDonald) through intervals of :27.2, :58 and 1:25.4. "Speedo" swung wide and whipped the leader by a half-length in 1:54. Third went to Keystone Honor (Matt Kakaley). Smith is now 4-for-4 since picking up the drive behind Twin B Tenacious. "To be honest, I had the drive the first time (Meadowlands) when a lot of the guys were out of town," Smith said. "He had some chicken lines (breaks) previously, and has doesn't always relax. "I learned you have to let him settle, but when I've asked him, he's finished very well. Twin B Tenacious, a son of Bettor's Delight trained by Casie Coleman for owner West Wins Stable, is 4-for-8 this season. The exacta paid $12, with the triple returning $114. The second ($74,100) statebred event was supposed to be fairly simple work night for Art Rooney Pace winner All Bets Off (Kakaley). However, despite a perfect tow from entrymate I'm All Heart (George Brennan), the 1-5 tandem found themselves run over. Capital Account (Yannick Gingras, $35.80), third-over from post position No. 4, snapped All Bets Off by a half-length in 1:52.4. Big Boys Dreams (Jason Bartlett) was third. Fifth choice Capital Account, a Brittany Farms homebred American Ideal colt trained by Jimmy Takter, is now 4-for-11 this season. The exacta paid $76, with the triple returning $336.50. "This was his best race so far," Gingras said. "Sometimes, he's been known to throw in steps, but tonight, this worked out. When I saw Matt (Kakaley) working (on All Bets Off), I knew I had him beat. "The last time he was here (NYSS last month), he was locked in. If I had come first-up, he'd have won but I had to use him leaving. It was a much better trip tonight." Thursday night's final ($74,100) sires soiree saw Forty Five Red (Brennan, $22.60)-last season's winner of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace here-make the lead right at the half and hold sway. Forty Five Red, from post No. 4, took over from Sir Jake's Z Tam (Jordan Stratton) after that one's :27.3 opening quarter-mile. After a :56.3 intermission, it was a 1:24.1 three-quarters and a season's-best 1:52.3 finale, which found Forty Five Red a length better than Winds of Change (Tim Tetrick). Neat (Marcus Miller) was third, while 1-2 choice Stay Up Late (Brian Sears) was a never-in-it dead-heat for fifth. Forty Five Red, a son of If I Can Dream co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Our Horse Cents Stable, has won his last couple after beginning the season 0-for-6. The exacta paid $133, with the triple returning $379.50. "Last week (overnight here), he was all out to win and just didn't race well," Brennan said. "Tonight, I scored him down much harder he was a totally different horse...on the bit and alert." Forty Five Red's winning time Thursday was more than two seconds faster than his previous effort. After Saturday night's $125,000 final of the Sheppard Pace (2-year-old colts/geldings), New York Sire Stakes continue Tuesday night, with the $200,200 Clyde Hirt Pace for 2-year-old fillies colts and geldings. Four, $50,050 groupings go as races 2,4,5 and 6. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Erwin Grossman, a long time harness racing publicist in the New York metropolitan area, died Friday, June 20 at an assisted living facility in Boca Raton, FL after a long illness. He was 85. Grossman was a fixture for many years at Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways covering Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing, handicapping horses for the New York Herald Tribune. He also traveled to numerous racetracks on the east coast to cover stakes races and special events. He reported on the grand openings at Liberty Bell Park, Monticello Raceway and Pompano Park. He attended Scioto Downs in its first year of operation, making the trip to report on the great horse Adios Butler. Annually, when the racing season was over, Grossman filed training articles from Aiken, SC and Winter Haven, FL. He was one of the first journalists that would travel extensively reporting on horse racing. Along with Hall of Famer Clyde Hirt, then with Roosevelt Raceway publicity, Grossman also secured advertising for the annual United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) annual awards journal. He served as president of the New York USHWA Chapter from 1965 to 1966.  He and Hall of Famer Lou Miller started a joint venture writing and publishing Trotting Times, a harness racing newspaper with entries, selections, workouts and features. He also had a stint with the NY Standardbred Owners Association writing and publishing their first house magazine, Voice. One day Grossman picked every winner at the old Jamaica race course. A $2 parlay that day would have netted a bettor $84,000. That feat earned Grossman an appearance on the “Tonight Show” when it was hosted by Steve Allen. His best long shot was when Hall of Famer Clint Hodgins drove Lite Direct to victory at Roosevelt Raceway and paid $112.80, the fifth largest win payoff in the track’s history at that time. After moving to Florida and becoming active in the Florida Chapter of USHWA, Erwin served as chapter vice-president in 2005-2006. He was inducted into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame Communicator’s Corner in 2011. He was also voted the Allen J. Finkelson Award by the Florida Chapter in 2009.  This award recognizes that individual who has contributed in the sport of harness racing to the promotion of the Standardbred Industry. The family has stated that at Erwin Grossman’s request there would be no burial ceremony planned. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA

Well Built looks to bounce back from going off stride in the Dexter Cup elimination at Freehold on April 26 when he faces 10 rivals in Friday's $51,543 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Part of a Chris Ryder-trained entry with Walk The Walk, Well Built is 7-2 on the morning line and will start from post No. 1 with driver John Campbell. The field also includes, in post order, Sarcastic Man, It Really Matters, Lukas Hall, Deweykeepumnwhy, Keystone Wasabi, Who Wants Soup, Hot Type, Flyhawk El Durado, Trixton, and (from the second tier) Walk The Walk. Trixton is the 5-2 morning line favorite from post 10. Last year, Well Built won a division of the Simpson and his elimination for the Matron Stakes. He is a son of stallion Muscle Hill, who was the 2009 Horse of the Year, and his dam is Working Girl, who is a half-sister to stakes-winner Poster Pin Up. "He got jammed up in the Dexter," said Ryder, who owns Well Built with Robert Mondillo. "I was mortified about that. But he's fine; he's training fine. "I like the horse. He's got good speed. He doesn't usually make a break. I'm not going to say he's reliable - he was just unreliable - but he shouldn't have made a break. He had a horse alongside him and got a little anxious." Walk The Walk, owned by Ryder, Mondillo, Sidney Korn and Max Wernick, was unraced as a 2-year-old. The son of Muscle Hill-Letsjustalkaboutme has won two of four starts and $13,500 this season. "He's coming out of weaker company, but I like him," Ryder said. "He just didn't make it last year. He was ouchy last year, a big growthy horse. But here he is. I like the horse. He's alright. He might be a little understaked for what I think he might be, but we'll see. He's still immature. He'll be a good 4-year-old, I think." Ryder's Odds On Amethyst, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, is not eligible to the Simpson and is preparing for the start of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 16 at the Meadowlands. The gelding is a son of Muscle Hill out of the standout mare Mystical Sunshine, who was trained by Ryder during her racing career. "I'm really looking at the Hambletonian with that horse," Ryder said about stakes-winning Odds On Amethyst, who made his 2014 debut on May 2 by winning in 1:53.2. "I'm not going to say he's a top one, but he's got a shot. I think he's going to improve on his (1):53. I know he's going to have to, but I think he will. If he gets much better he's right there. "He's been a bit of a problem child. He's his own worst enemy," Ryder added. "The last two or three weeks he's improved. He's starting to realize he's a racehorse." Trixton, the Simpson favorite, finished second to Odds On Amethyst on May 2, also in his seasonal debut. Trixton is a son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Emilie Cas El, who was Canada's Horse of the Year in 1994. Trixton's family also includes past stars Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Angus Hall. Flyhawk El Durado, trained by Mark Ford for owner Martin Scharf, was the New York Sire Stakes champion last season and also captured a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes. He finished third in the May 2 race that included Odds On Amethyst and Trixton. Sarcastic Man, bred and owned by Bob Key, won the Dexter Cup elimination on April 26 at Freehold Raceway. He finished fifth in the final after getting stuck outside for the entire mile from post eight. Ron Pierce will drive for trainer Gail Wrubel. Sarcastic Man is 4-1. Lukas Hall is owned by New Meadowlands Racing Chairman Jeff Gural and former New York Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet. His second dam is stakes-winner Mars Bar, who is a half-sister to Dan Patch Award winner Pizza Dolce. Trained by Kevin McDermott, he won twice on the New York Sire Stakes circuit last season. Keystone Wasabi, owned by Peter Gerry's Kitefield Stable, last year won a Landmark Stakes for trainer Janice Connor and won twice on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit. * * * Dexter Cup winner Sumatra will get the weekend off and then head to the New Jersey Sire Stakes. "It's early in the year and I just thought we'd point him toward the sire stakes," trainer Tom Fanning said. "Really, the Simpson was going to be my starting point with him, but when he was ready early, we put him in the Dexter; I thought that was a good start. He did well and we just want to keep him fresh and be good all year. "We're just looking long term." Sumatra fits a similar profile as Possessed Fashion, a now 4-year-old trotter for the Fanning Stable and owned by Joseph Smith, as is Sumatra. Possessed Fashion was an $87,000 purchase late in his 2-year-old season who made $230,780 as a 3-year-old. Fanning cited the success of keeping that horse calm and relaxed by frequent turnout with another gelding from his stable. He's not quite ready to try that strategy with Sumatra, who has won six of 13 races and $169,095 lifetime. "We just gelded (Sumatra) in December and he's really still kind of a tough guy," Fanning said. "He's not quite as ready to get along with others yet." He then laughed and joked, "If I could have a nice, big Belgian draft horse that could just put a thumping on him one day, then he'd be OK after that. That's what he needs." * * * Rockingcam Park is the 5-2 morning line favorite in Friday's Reynolds Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers at the Meadowlands. She starts from post No. 6 for trainer Ron Coyne Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick. Starting inside of Rockingcam Park will be, from post one, McVita Bella, Blixtra, A La Notte Hanover, Gettingreadytoroll, and Fanticipation. To her outside are I Need Hotstuff, JK Molly, and Table Talk. Rockingcam Park won last week's four-horse Simpson Stakes, beating Ken Doll J by a nose in 1:53.2. It was her first start of 2014 after winning three of 10 races and $67,378 last year. "That was a nice win," Coyne said. "Last year was kind of a mixed bag. It's nice when you have a filly that you have a lot of hopes for, but she found herself in some unlucky spots and things didn't turn out the way we dreamed." Rockingcam Park finished second to Precocious Beauty in a division of the Eternal Camnation Stakes and was second in a division of the Reynolds. She went off stride in the She's A Great Lady Stakes and drew post nine in the Breeders Crown, where she finished seventh. She also made a break in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. "She's got big ability and a lot of upside," Coyne said. "She's a nervous filly, but if she gets herself where she's squared away, she has a lot of talent. A lot of it is just mental maturity." The filly is owned by Rockingcam Park Stable, Blair Corbeil, Erna Corbeil, and J&T Silva Stables. She is a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, the 2005 Horse of the Year, out of the Camluck-sired mare Cameron D Art. She is a full sister to recent Clyde Hirt Series winner Avatartist. Her family also includes 2005 She's A Great Lady Stakes winner Little Miss K. "Blair has a passion for Camluck broodmares," Coyne said. "That's the reason we looked at her. She was nice sized and stood correct; I couldn't fault her. We liked what we saw and took a shot." * * * The $33,516 Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters attracted a field of three horses and will be contested as a non-wagering event at 6:50 p.m. Friday at the Meadowlands. Annies List makes her 2014 debut, racing this season out of the stable of trainer Amber Buter after spending last year with Julie Miller. Annies List, who starts from post two, was purchased for $2,500 as a yearling and earned $92,969 for then-owner Andy Miller Stable. She is now owned by Oldford Farms and Tyler Buter. In 2013, Annies List won four of nine starts, including the $50,000 Fall Harvest for 2-year-old filly trotters at Yonkers Raceway and two legs of the New York Sire Stakes. Sweetie Hearts, owned by Bob Key, starts from post one for trainer Paul Reid. Sweetie Hearts, a homebred daughter of Angus Hall-Sweetheart K, has won four of 11 races and $56,505 in her career. Her family includes Key's 1993 Hambletonian winner American Winner. Thisgirlisonfire leaves from post three with driver/co-owner Jeff Gregory at the lines for trainer Linda Toscano. Gregory owns the filly with William Richardson. A daughter of Angus Hall-Back On Track, she will be looking for her first career win in her 10th start. She finished second in a division of the Reynolds last year. By Ken Weingartner and Ellen Harvey, for Harness Racing Communications/USTA

On paper, the $83,000 Clyde Hirt Final appeared to be a wide open race. But on the racetrack, it was anything but. Avatartist, sent off as the 9-5 favorite, made the early lead in 26.1 prior to yielding to the pocket. Driver Dave Miller made an aggressive move down the backstretch, reclaiming the lead past a 53.3 half-mile. The Buckeye threw down the gauntlet and opened up a commanding lead heading to the top of the stretch and never had an anxious moment in the stretch winning in a stakes record 1:50.1. Alexa's Jackpot rallied very well off dull cover to be second, while Wake Up Peter came from an impossible spot to be third. The winner is trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owners William Hill, Peter Harrisson, Michael Saftic and James Walker. Ironically, Avatartist is not eligible to the upcoming Whata Baron series which begins Saturday April 5th, while Alexa's Jackpot and Wake Up Peter are heading to that series next. In the $60,600 Final of The Horse & Groom, it was a perfect storm for Hldontghttoyurdrms in more ways than one. First, the 3-5 favorite Bambino Glide made a break prior to the start, never to be involved. At the start, round one winner Amigo Ranger went off-stride. Next, turning down the backstretch, with Hldontghttoyurdrms leading through a 27.3 opening quarter, pocket-sitting March Awareness broke stride, leaving the pace-setter with a six length lead heading to the half. Hldontghttoyurdrms got that half in 55.4 and three quarters in 1:24.3, while never facing a challenge and romping to an easy score in 1:53.4 for Canadian based driver Jonathan Drury. The winner had been a bit disappointing in the first two rounds of the series, but with the money down, the gelded son of Muscles Yankee got the job done. He is trained by Corey Johnson for owners Saverio Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Frank Spagnolo. Longshot Magglio was second with Crosbys Clam Bake finishing third. Scott Zeron and Jim Morrill, Jr. were the Winners in Round 2 of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Scott Zeron continues to make plenty of noise at The Meadowlands as he easily led the Phenoms from gate to wire to win the second leg of the Driver Challenge with 85 points. Zeron also won the "phenom" category last week as well. While Zeron is dominating the Phenoms, the Legends category has been a battle. Tonight, Andy Miller and Jim Morrill Jr. went into the last race each with 83 points, with first round winner Dave Miller right behind with 81 points. In the end, it was Jim Morrill Jr, with 90 points winning round 2 for the Legends. For the tournament, Dave Miller (172) leads the "Legends" followed by Andy Miller (160), Jim Morrill Jr. (158), Corey Callahan (74) and John Campbell (73). Scott Zeron (163) is cruising along in the "Phenoms" category. Joe Bongiorno (90) is a clear-cut second. Rounding out the top 10 are Tony Hall (60), Jonathan Drury (54), Steve Smith (52), Jim. Marohn Jr. (49), Vincent Ginsburg (46), Tyler Smith (45), Jim Meittinis (33) and Eric Abbatiello (22). On Saturday April 26th, the top five Legends and the top five Phenoms will qualify for the Driver Challenge Final, with the winner earning $15,000. Racing resumes on Friday with the first round of the Artistic Vision series for pacing mares, with post time at 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

Last week was yesterday’s news, which means I did not fare well at all. But this weekend we have plenty of action around the USA. Two strong finals at the Meadowlands, the opening of both Hoosier Park and Harrah’s Chester, Yonkers has the second round of the Levy and Pocono Downs a Mares Preferred-Handicap Trot. I am avoiding most of the Levy series races because they there is too much chalk to even bother as the Burke Stable dominates nearly every division. We will even travel to Harrah’s Philadelphia on Sunday for their Winners-Over Handicap Pace. GOOD LUCK! $83,000 Pace Clyde Hirt Stake Final Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY – This will be a really big test for Wake Up Peter having to start from the far outside in post ten. He has overcome starting from that far out in the past and won but last week he looked to be in striking position and made a rare break. I think he will be settled down for this rich final and with a lot of early action can rebound with his strong closing speed. Use Avatartist and CC Heet Seeker in exotic plays. $22,000 Trot Invitational Hoosier Park 8th race SATURDAY – Despite returning from a two month layoff in what looks like excellent shape, Summer Indian once again gets burdened with having to start from the far outside. But he raced that way and that far out last year and did very well. Loves the front end and should have little trouble getting there again and wiring the field. Use entry of On The Tab/Jessesjo and Fusion Man. $50,000 Pace The Levy Series Yonkers 9th race SATURDAY – Last week Apprentice Hanover looked like it was the first time he was ever on a half mile track. He nearly broke stride, beared out on the turn and looked really confused. But that was last week and I am sure Ben Wallace has taken care of those kinks and with the rail I look for them to maybe go down the pike and not look back. Use entry of Sweet Lou/Easy Again and Mach It so in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Mares Preferred Handicap Pocono Downs 11th race SATURDAY – Not very often do you see a good mares trot race but Pocono Downs has come up with one. Daylon Miracle is the one to beat. She has won four of her last five starts, finishing third last week against some of the best in the country. Now she is back against just mares and use inside post to returning to winning ways again. Use Coraggioso and Tober in exotic plays. $22,000 Pace Invitational Hoosier Park  11th race SATURDAY – Another good raceway horse from the Ron Burke Stable, Meirs Hanover, ships in from the Meadows and shows the speed needed to go right to the front and never look back, but just needed to be rated right. Use Royal Outlook and Jammin Joshua in exotic plays. $60,600 Trot Horse & Groom Final Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY – We have a great final for this series tonight. Bambino Glide is the horse to beat and I think he will once again go right to the top, but I also think the entry of Amigo Ranger/Time To Quit are primed to pull off a mild upset. It will be very interesting to see how this one plays out. Use Bambino Glide and Hldontghttoyurdrms in exotic plays. $30,000 Pace Winners/Over $25,000 Handicap Harrah’s 7th race SUNDAY – Summer Camp comes in from Dover Downs where has done superb. He can go to the front or win from behind. Has yet to finish off the board in last seven starts with four wins and has won at Harrah’s before. Use Abelard Hanover and Four Starz Trace in exotic plays.

John Campbell, harness racing's all time leading money winning driver with over $285 million in career earnings, returns to the sulky on Friday night at The Meadowlands. John has been out of action for six weeks due to a fractured collar bone sustained in a non-racing accident. He has drives in nine of the thirteen (two of those are restricted to amateur drivers) races on Friday and a full slate on Saturday as well.   "I'm certainly looking forward to getting back to racing horses," John said when reached this morning for comment. "I got a really good report from the doctor this last visit. Strength and mobility are back to where I was before the break. I've been training some the past few weeks to get back in the swing.   "I'm back in time to get some work in before the three year olds start up and stakes season gets underway, so if I had to miss the timing was good."   John will add strength to the "Legends" team in the current Drivers Tournament that's pits the established Meadowlands drivers against the up and comers who have been anointed as "Phenoms" for the purpose of this contest. Corey Callahan is another welcome addition to the "Legends" side of the ledger upon his return from a trip to Australia.   Live racing this weekend is Friday and Saturday with first post at 7:15. Saturday's card includes two series finals, the $60,600 Horse & Groom and $83,000 Clyde Hirt.   More information is available by visiting The Meadowlands website.   Submitted by the Meadowlands Publicity Department

The $47,650 final of the Winter Survivor Series saw Hacienda saved the day for his more highly regarded entry-mate Cane Ridge with a 1:51.2 score for Vinny Ginsburg at the Meadowlands Satuday. Cane Ridge's convincing win in the second prelim drew favoritism and Andy Miller sent him right to the front from the rail, the preferred position based his past performance. The fractions were fast but fair, however when the competition began to engulf the pace setter on all sides, trainer Doug Dilloian, Jr.s focus shifted from the tiring leader to his "other" horse Hacienda who was closing the widest and the fastest. At the wire Hacienda prevailed in a tight photo over Mc Rusty with Malosi N third. Darius Oshidar owns the winner. The six week "Legends vs Phenoms" Meadowlands drivers' tournament kicked off Saturday, with the top point earner of each distinction awarded a $2,000 prize. Scott Zeron was the leader at every call for the Phenoms and had his bounty salted away by race ten. The Legends, though fewer in number, were far more contentious in their competition. The Millers, Andy (who seemed to relish the opportunity to race a few on the lead with Yannick Gingras across the river all night) and David swapped the point lead back and forth several times and as they lined up for the twelfth and final Dave's lead was a tenuous five points. Dave Miller put the favored Pembroke Dewey on the lead and parked out Andy's weak bid with Corey Road to unceremoniously close him out and take home the $2,000 top prize. The competition will continue over the next several weeks with the final for the driver tournament schedule for Saturday, April 26th. The Drivers and Points will be updated at PlayMeadowlands.com throughout the tournament. On the equine front, two $20,000 divisions of the Clyde Hirt pacing series highlighted the card. One was rather formful while the other division resulted in a shocker. In the first split, a pair of leavers from outside posts made for a lively pace with first Avatartist then Burkentine Hanover clearing to the front through a 27- quarter and 54.2 half. Alexa's Jackpot took a bold run at Burkentine past the 1:21.4 three panels and was moving like a winner as Dave Miller desperately sought a seam for Avantartist. Once that fissure appeared, Miller guided him through a tiny opening up the cones to win by the slimmest of margins (and survive an inquiry to his course in the stretch) over Alexa's Jackpot in 1:50.1. Burkentine Hanover was a brave third. That gives Avatartist wins in both legs and he'll merit serious consideration in what shapes up to be a very competitive $83,000 final next Saturday night. Tony O'Sullivan trains the son of Rocknroll Hanover for W. Hill, P. Harrison, M. Saftic and J. Walker all of Ontario. Division two began largely as predicted with a couple of longshots battling away on the front and heavy favorite Wake Up Peter well situated second over around the final bend when he suddenly and unexpectedly went off stride. That left the long uncovered bid by Teresa's Beach well rewarded with a new lifetime mark of 1:50.1 and his backers wallet's a little fatter with a healthy $29.20 return on investment. Bree's Creek was up for the place with a late rush and Stars Above landed third resulting in a trifecta payoff of over $4,000. Brett Brittingham was in for the drive for trainer Johnny Waite and owner Leslie Betts, all of Delaware. In addition, Tyler Smith earned his first career Meadowlands driving victory with Arsenal in the 4th race C-1 Pace. The Meadowlands showed slight gains both on-track and in total handle for the Saturday program. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

The second $20,000 leg of the Horse & Groom trotting series drew a dozen entries and went as the first and third races on the Friday night card. Bambino Glide took the opener in wire to wire fashion for Andy Miller to kick off the card on a pleasant spring evening, reducing his career record to 1:52.2 in the process. Miller sent the favored Bambino Glide to the top and set even fractions with second choice Hldontghttoyurdrms pocketed throughout in the abbreviated field. In the stretch Bambino Glide sprinted away from that rival under his own power to a two and a quarter length decision. Crosby's Clam Bake may have secured a final berth with his third place finish after being a judges scratch from the first leg. Julie Miller is the trainer and Kapiledo Singh and Shakoor's Racing Stable share ownership of the winner is will look for the series sweep as the likely favorite in next Saturday's $60,600 final. The second division saw Banker Volo prevail over Amigo Ranger in a photo. Amigo Ranger was a leg one winner in first over fashion and new driver Jimmy Morrill seized the opportunity afforded by the short field to steal easy fractions on the lead, aided by Ashes Cash and Explosive Action both going off stride before the half. Banker Volo sat the pocket throughout and tipped out head stretch for Marcus Miller to engage the leader. It took the length of the stretch, but Banker Volo did get his nose on the wire first in 1:55.2. Amigo Ranger was gallant in defeat and March Awareness rewarded the hunch players with the show dough. Erv Miller trains the talented Yankee Glide five year old for Mystical Marker Farms, Peggy Hood and Paymaq Racing. A series of upsets on the second-half of the card, included a 24-1 Team Orange Crush shocker in the 7th with Bambino Hall, ignited a massive Late Pick 4 payout of $14,209.80 from the pool of $66,901, yielding just four winning tickets. This marked the fourth time on the meet where the Late Pick 4 returned over $10,000 for the pool that has returned an average payout of over $8,000 so far in 2014. The Late Pick 4 returns Saturday with its customary $50,000 guaranteed pool. Featured on the Saturday program is the Final of The Winter Survivor Series and the second round of the Clyde Hirt. Post time is 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

On what is likely to be Yannick Gingras' final night at The Meadowlands until after The Levy and Matchmaker Series, the Big M's leading harness racing driver went out with a driving double. First, he scored on Dragon Lore in the 5th race $9,000 C-2 Pace at 5-2. It was Dragon Lore's first start since February 22nd, but he was ready off a qualifier where he finished up in a strong in 26.4. Gingras scored down the son of Dragon Again aggressively and it paid off as Dragon Lore led at every call, winning in 1:53.2. Gingras guided the four year old home for trainer Mark Capone and owners T J Maggliozzo, S. Schachner and C. W. Duffy. Gingras also pulled off the mild 6-1 upset in the 9th race $9,000 C-2 Trot with Stonebridge Idol, who he guided to the lead down the backstretch, stealing a 29.1 third quarter and scoring in 1:55.1 for trainer David Duspiva and owner Fiddler's Creek Stables L.L.C. Gingras' 96 wins has him 29 wins ahead of Dave Miller. But with Gingras driving in The Levy and Matchmaker and Miller staying at The Meadowlands, that margin will become much tighter come The Championship Meet. Additionally, both Jim Meittinis and Andy Miller also scored two wins on the card. Racing resumes on Friday, featuring the second round of The Horse & Groom Series, with post time at 7:15 P.M. for the 11-race program. Saturday will feature the second round of the Clyde Hirt series, the $47,650 Final of The Winter Surivor Series and the first round of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge where The Meadowlands will welcome Jim Morrill Jr., Tony Hall, Tyler Smith and others to The Meadowlands driving colony. For more information, go to PlayMeadowlands.com Darin Zoccali

Fire In The Belly has won four straight races in 2014, including an eye opening 1:50.4 victory at Dover Downs.   He is now the second fastest three-year-old colt or gelding in 2014. Early season sensation National Debt owns the fastest mark with a 1:50.3 mile time.    Owner Thomas Kemp of Wyoming, Delaware has recently turned down a six figure plus offer by a prominent Delaware horseman. Kemp says the horse is not for sale.   All of Fire In The Belly's victories were won in fairly easy fashion. Veteran trainer, horseman, and owner Jim King, Jr. trains the horse.   "He is the best horse I have ever trained," stated King. "In the 1:50.4 mile he kind of just jogged and it came really easy for him. We are not going to the Clyde Hirt at the Meadowlands. He does not deserve to go against such older horses as Wake Up Peter.   "I think I have a really nice horse," said King. "After consulting with Timmy ( Tetrick ), we have decided what our game plan is. I train several horses for Timmy. We both own several horses together. We don't think that he can't go against the better ones in the big races.   "The owner is 82 years and it costs a lot of money to enter him in the big races," explained King. "Our intentions is to race him in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. There are big races for him next year. He can win a lot of money in the Sires Stakes.   "We were offered a good deal of money the other day for the horse," said King. "The fun that owner Thomas Kemp can have with the horse is worth more than the money. He has been a owner with me for 15 years. We will probably race him a couple more times and than get him ready for the Pennsylvania Sire Stake."   "I picked Fire In The Belly out of the book, went to the sale and bought him for $9,000," said Kemp. "I liked the breeding and how he looked. I have had a lot of big earners but this is the best horse I have ever owned. I turned down a nice offer for the horse. I am up there in age and would rather enjoy racing him."   A gelded son of Real Artist from the Camluck mare, Fire In The Sky, Fire In The Belly has been lightly raced in his career. He is undefeated in his four starts in 2014 and last year started just four times at age 2 with two wins and two second place finishes. He has earnings of $41,900.   If all goes according to plan, Fire In The Belly will be one of the dominant horses in the three-year-pacer's division of the Pa. Sire Stakes. Not selling the horse could turn out to be a very profitable move for both the owner and trainer.   by Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com

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