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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Gusting winds and drenching rains from Tropical Storm Fay could not extinguish the harness racing fire that is super mare Atlanta at The Meadowlands Friday night. Facing an easier task than in her first two starts of the season not having to face arch-rival Manchego, the Ron Burke-trained Atlanta had an easy time of it in the $40,000 second leg of the Miss Versatility for open mare trotters over a sloppy track. Driver Yannick Gingras kept Atlanta off the early action, sitting fifth past the quarter and half. He then got the 5-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip in gear after leader Kenziesky Hanover. With Atlanta gaining quickly, Plunge Blue Chip swerved out of the three-hole, which provided a live tow for the eventual winner. Plunge Blue Chip was just off the leader's flank at three-quarters, and out of the turn, Gingras swung Atlanta three-wide for the drive and easily coasted by Plunge Blue Chip to record a 3¼-length score in 1:51.2. Plunge Blue Chip, the 5-1 second choice, completed the $5.20 exacta. Felicityshagwell S was third. "I wasn't concerned about the sloppy track because I knew Yannick would adjust to the conditions," said Burke. "The truth is, she prefers to get the kind of trip she got tonight. I wanted to follow Plunge Blue Chip, and as long as we could outkick her, we'd be alright. I am going to give Atlanta next week off. I don't want to over-race her. She's more thoroughbred than standardbred. She'll go next in two weeks in the Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge." Atlanta has now won 22 of 42 lifetime outings, good for earnings of $2,026,089 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor. NJSS ROUNDUP: The New Jersey Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds kicked off Friday with its opening leg, and in the filly pace, the John Urbanski-trained and driven Anna Jeans, a product of Great Vintage-Early Go Hanover, won in a "walkover" (a one-horse race) in 2:15.2 over the sloppy surface in a race conducted before the betting card. In another early non-bettor, Fika Time took the colt and gelding pace for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Chase Vandervort. The gelded son of Sunfire Blue Chip-Raiders Favorite stopped the clock in 2:01.1. In the first of three colt and gelding trots on the betting card, Southwind Tyrion, a son of Muscle Hill-Taylor Jean, came from off the pace to score as the 4-5 favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt in 1:56.1. The Dexter Dunn-driven, Per Engblom-trained Mon Amour, a colt by Muscle Hill-Mind Meld, went wire-to-wire in 1:56.4 as the 3-1 second choice in division two before Beyond The Hill took advantage of a late break by leader Sonofamistery to score in the final division in 1:59.1. Driven by Dave Miller and trained by Jim Campbell, the son of Muscle Hill-Beyond Blue paid off at odds of 10-1. The filly trotters had two divisions, and taking the first was Hot As Hill, who won from off the pace for driver Joe Bongiorno and Burke. The daughter of Muscle Hill-Smarty Pants went off at odds of 17-1 and went the mile in 1:58.3. The second division gave Svanstedt a trainer-driver NJSS double as another longshot, 39-1 chance Presto, upset the apple cart in 1:57 from off the pace. The winner is a daughter of Trixton-Susie's Magic. A LITTLE MORE: Melissa Arbia, who guided Take It Back Terry to victory in the first race GSY Series pace for amateur drivers, combined with Bongiorno to complete a rare husband-wife driving double on the card. The last to do it were Ake and Sarah Svanstedt. ... Despite the bad weather and multiple 2-year-old races, wagering on the 13-race card totaled $2,373,660. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The Meadowlands Pace Elimination and a pair of $250,000 Graduate Finals highlight the program.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, NJ - The top three in Dave Little's Road to the Meadowlands Pace were unchanged from start to finish. Making the loudest statement during the five weeks was Allywag Hanover, who went from unknown at the start of the poll all the way to No. 4 in the final Top 10.   Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($726,889 – 1:47.4) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Took last week off after his incredible 1:47.4 win at The Big M on June 27. Has been top-ranked in the Top 10 every week. Departs from post 3 Saturday night in the lone Meadowlands Pace Elimination. Takter: “He trained well Wednesday morning. He’s happy, fresh and ready to go.” Will those who raced last week have an edge on your horse? “Maybe for this week, but not the week after that.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW$22,500 – 1st (1:47.4) 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($758,274 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Went a big mile in his seasonal debut July 4, finishing a close second after a troubled-trip from post 10. His pill-drop luck remains lousy: He has drawn post 10 for the elim. Pelling: “He did everything he could. He paced home in :25.1 and i don’t think he got pacing until he was in the stretch. [Now that he’s had a race] I can tell he’s in racehorse mode.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW$14,000 – 2nd (1:49.3) 3 Capt Midnight ($306,038 – 1:49.3) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  A sharp McCarthy steer led to an inside-route 1:49.3 winner’s circle visit holding off Papi Rob. Can a third-ranked horse fly under the radar? Given the press clippings of the top two, this one has. In the elim, he leaves from post 9. Alagna: “I was very happy with the way he raced. Saturday, he’s going to have to float out of there a little bit, and you hope he doesn’t have to overdo it. It’s a tough bunch of horses.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW$14,000 – 1st (1:49.3) 4 Allywag Hanover ($44,483 – 1:48)   T. Tetrick, B. Pelling Allywag Stable    If you did not see it, do yourself a favor and watch Allywag Hanover’s win last week, where he was shot out of a cannon in the stretch to win in 1:48. Trainer opted to take the bye and go straight to next week’s Pace final, but surprisingly, this horse is racing this week, in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action at Philadelphia on Friday. Pelling: “He’s light on the ground and has high speed. And now, he’s manageable. I got him January 15 and he went from wearing the kitchen sink to being rigged up like a good horse.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 1st (1:48) 5 Captain Barbossa  ($133,313 – 1:51.2) B. Sears,, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Missed a head to Allywag after McCarthy opted to go the short way (like he did with Capt Midnight) in a sharp mile, his second straight second-place finish of the season. Alagna: “Andy dropped down to the inside and did not have the momentum of the winner after having to check twice in the stretch. I think the two were comparable.” Has post 2 Saturday night. Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 2nd (1:48) 6 Catch The Fire ($260,047 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables First outing of the season was a constructive one, finishing third to Allywag Hanover. Meadows regular Mike Wilder will pilot the horse from post 8 in the elim. Ackley: “I was impressed with my horse, it being his first start. Once he saw horses in the stretch, he took off. It’s going to be tough, but i think he’ll be fine.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 3rd (1:48.1) 7 Major Betts ($153,390 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost    D. Miller, B. Pelling Allywag Stable  Trainer opted to race instead of taking the bye as the high money-earner this year in the field. Has drawn post 1 for the elim. Harder: “Maybe he’s a bit ahead of where I thought he’d be. I probably should have entered [Thursday] at Vernon in the Sire Stakes [instead of racing in the Pace Elim] just to race in a little easier spot, but I’m OK with what happened. If we can’t finish in the top 8 [in the elim], we don’t deserve to be in the final.”   Last Race: 6/28 – TgDn – NYSS – 1st (1:49.4) 8 Chief Mate ($65,507 – 1:50)   G. Napolitano Jr., T. Alagna Brittany Farms LLC, Marvin Katz,  Brad Grant, Captain Kirk Racing    Makes his debut in the Top 10, but don’t look for him at the Big M Saturday. He and Allywag Hanover are the two horses who opted to take the bye and this one will also race in PaSS at Philadelphia Friday. Alagna: “It was easier to get him raced in Pennsylvania, that’s why he’s been there. I think he’ll be fine moving back to the big track for The Pace.”   Last Race: 7/4 – PcD – NW6 – 1st (1:50) 9 Manticore ($180,335 – 1:52.2) J. Stratton, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing    Three starts, three good efforts in 2020. Bona fide closer will prosper whenever there is action up front. From post 4 Saturday, he should be able to finish in the top 8 to get a spot in the Pace Final. Saunders: “There is going to be some action up front [in The Pace Final], being a horse who can come from off the pace can be advantageous. Hopefully, we will be there.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 5th (1:48.3) 10 Roll With Jr ($176,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J.Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher    Won a 3-year-old event at Cullipher’s home track, Hoosier Park, in speed fashion, in a very encouraging first betting start of the season before taking last week off. Cullipher: “He is at The Meadowlands, we made the payments and we entered him. Went a trip with him Wednesday and he went very well. We are pointed in the right direction.” Has post 6 Saturday. Last Race: 6/26 – HoP – The Star Destroyer – 1st (1:51.2)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – In what is now unquestionably harness racing’s best rivalry, Atlanta bested Manchego in Saturday night’s $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free-for-allers at the Meadowlands in Round 2 of the rabid duel between the top two trotters in training. Two weeks ago, Manchego held off Atlanta by a nose in the Miss Versatility in the fastest trotting mile of the year of 1:50. Things panned out similarly this time around, except that Atlanta got the better of her foe this time around. Atlanta (post five) was the first away from the gate and led into the first turn. Driver Yannick Gingras was willing to yield to Manchego (post six) and Dexter Dunn, but not before extending that one ever so slightly into a sizzling opening quarter of :25.4. “Maybe not :25.4,” was Gingras’ response when asked about the fast opening fraction. “I didn’t think we’d be going that fast. I definitely wanted to stretch her out. I had drawn inside of her and wanted to take advantage of it.” That took just enough starch out of the even-money choice. While rating the middle half, Manchego took a stiff challenge from 17-1 longshot Chin Chin Hall, who was on even terms with the leader while parked at three-quarters in 1:23.1. Once straightened away in the stretch, Manchego and Atlanta – who opted to get behind Chin Chin Hall coming out of the far turn before swerving three-wide into the lane – would once again duke it out, just as they did on June 19. In deep stretch, it would be Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner, prevailing by a half-length in 1:50.1, just a fifth-of-a-second slower than Round 1. Lindy The Great rallied to get third. “There were some anxious moments around the last turn,” said Gingras. “We were going pretty slow, and there was strategy on both sides. He was trying to keep me locked in. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze out. I thought I had it won at the top of the stretch when I cleared.” Atlanta The Ron Burke-trained Atlanta, a 5-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip, returned $5.40 as the 8-5 second choice in the wagering. She’s won 21 of 41 career starts for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor, and became harness racing’s newest double millionaire, as her earnings swelled to $2,006,089. WHO WILL GRADUATE? Bettor’s Wish, harness racing’s top earner ($1.6 million) in 2019, won the third of three $50,000 divisions of the second and final leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old open pacers in 1:48.2. The Chris Ryder-trained, Dexter Dunn-driven son of Bettor’s Delight-Lifetime Star swung three-wide at three-quarters and stormed home in :25.3 to record a 2-length score over Workin Ona Mystery as the 1-5 favorite. Brassy Hanover came first over around the far turn to pull off an upset in the first division. Driven by Scott Zeron and trained by Jeff Cullipher, Brassy Hanover, sent to the gate at odds of 10-1, stopped the clock in a lifetime-best 1:48.1. Hurrikane Emperor was the 6-5 favorite and led at three-quarters before settling for the show dough. Division two was taken by 12-1 chance Bllack Hole. Tim Tetrick drove the winner for trainer Scott DiDomenico and paced the mile in a lifetime-best 1:48. Dancin Lou, the 3-5 favorite, yielded the front before three-quarters and finished third. The Graduate Finals for pacers and trotters will take place next Saturday (July 11). Each has a purse of $250,000. KEEPING PACE: Brett Pelling’s potent Meadowlands Pace pair did good things, as his Allywag Hanover was shot out of a cannon late to win in a lifetime-best 1:48, while Papi Rob Hanover, currently second-ranked in the track’s weekly Road to the Meadowlands Pace Top 10, went a tough 10-hole trip yet was still crisp late, finishing second to the sharp Tony Alagna-trained Capt Midnight, who won in a lifetime-best 1:49.3. The Meadowlands Pace Eliminations are next Saturday (July 11). A LITTLE MORE: Wagering surpassed the $3-million mark for the fifth time in 2020, as a total of $3,027,797 was pushed through the windows. …  The Late 50-cent Pick-4 took monster action, as $113,121 was put in play. The only Pick-4 to take more action during 2020 was on Feb. 1, when $117,502 in bets were taken. … Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. For the full results of tonight's program click here By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Meadowlands played host to four New Jersey Sire Stakes Finals for 3-year-olds Friday night, and driver Tim Tetrick was on his game, grabbing two victories and a second on a night that saw him win four of the 13 races on the harness racing card. Tetrick's twosome began with Odds On Sarasota, who won the $160,000 Filly Pace in a lifetime-best 1:52.2 for trainer Ross Croghan. She returned $3.80 to win in scoring for the fifth time in seven lifetime starts, good for earnings of $131,200. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven-Odds On Charmaine, who also won the first two NJSS legs to complete a three-race sweep, followed live cover to get to the top at the half in :56. When even-money second choice Kelly's Champ went on a wild break scattering the field at the five-eighths, it was a walk in the park for the 4-5 public choice. At the wire, it was 4¾ lengths back to Thundra. Wynona Strided finished third. "She's been steppy off and on at times," said Tetrick. "But tonight, she was really good and got the job done pretty impressively. [After making the lead] I was pretty sure they would be happy to follow me. I worked my way to the lead, and after that, she kind of coasted and drew away from them. Last week, she got a real easy trip [winning in 1:55] and I didn't have to use her. So I thought tonight she could wear them out." Odds On Sarasota The completion of Tetrick's NJSS double came in the $160,000 Filly Trot, as the 38-year-old pilot guided Ab'sattitudexpress to a 1¾-length score over 7-5 favorite Dubai Princess in a lifetime-best 1:52.2. Common Sense S was third. Tetrick, driving the Lucas Wallin trainee for the first time, had the 4-1 third choice in the wagering right where he wanted him: Tracking the public choice. "Last week, my horse looked really impressive [winning in 1:52.4]," said Tetrick. "But it was going to be tough beating Dubai Princess. We got a great trip and my horse trotted well to the finish line." Tetrick's formula for success was to sit a pocket trip and strike late. "Lucas said I could do whatever I wanted," said Tetrick. "That gave me a lot of options, so I got out of there and followed the favorite. That mare [Dubai Princess] came up a little off nearing the wire and run out a little bit, so I had to go up the inside. She shot right through there and we got our picture taken." Ab'sattitudexpress, a daughter of Trixton-Abbie'sgotattitude, paid $10.60 to win and now has four wins from six lifetime outings and earnings of $111,000. Ab'sattitudexpress Tetrick's bid for a Sire Stakes triple was foiled by Rockin The Aces, who gunned down Tetrick and even-money public choice Rock Me Hard by a half-length in a lifetime-best 1:49.4 in the $160,000 Colts and Geldings Pace. Rockin The Gates was third. Rockin The Aces, driven by Brian Sears and trained by Robert Cleary, went a perfect second-over trip around the far turn, getting a perfect tow from the first-over favorite, before ducking inside late to record the score. The gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Mattaroni won for the fourth time in nine lifetime outings. His earnings stand at $176,278. Rockin The Aces Chalk players were no doubt nervous in the early going but Play Trix On Me lived up to his 1-9 post-time odds promise in taking the $128,000 Colts and Geldings Trot. "That's not what I expected," said winning trainer Toscano of her prized pupil's trip. "Last year, he was much the best in this division, so he was winning on the front end. It's important for him to go both ways. He is learning well." Play Trix On Me, who is now a two-time NJSS champion, was pushed extremely wide into the first turn and had to take back to fifth at the quarter before driver Scott Zeron moved the son of Trixton-Lima Playmate to the outside at the three-eighths to start his march toward the leaders. 'Trix' was still 2½ lengths behind leader Toccoa Falls at three-quarters, but once straightened away in the stretch, it was no match, as Play Trix On Me stormed home to record a three-quarter-length win in 1:53.3. Jula Trix Treasure rallied for second with AP Hall Of Trix grabbing the show dough. Play Trix On Me paid $2.20 to win while winning for the seventh time in nine lifetime starts. His bankroll now stands at $204,850. Play Trix On Me A LITTLE MORE: The Meadowlands welcomed back fans into the track for the first time since the coronavirus shutdown, with the grandstand available to 25 percent capacity. Many others watched and wagered on the races outdoors. ... Volatile weather, which saw lightning strikes close by, caused a lengthy delay before the third race, which made it necessary to move quickly from post parade to race for the rest of the night, causing handle numbers to suffer. The total wager of $2,451,141 ended the Big M's streak of 15 straight racing programs with at least $2.5 million in action. ... The night got off to a big start as a season's-best $98,037 was poured into the 20-cent Pick-5 pool. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

East Rutherford, NJ - With just one week until the eliminations, there are two new names on Dave Little's Road to the Meadowlands Pace. While the top six are unchanged from a week ago, Allywag Hanover and Captain Kirk make their debuts in the poll at Nos. 7 and 10, respectively. Second-ranked Papi Rob Hanover makes his seasonal debut Saturday. Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($726,889 – 1:47.4) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Any doubts about how ready he is were squashed after his 1:47.4 dismantling of older foes Saturday night. The time equaled the fastest of the year in the sport. Takter: “I knew he had that in him. He did it very easily without much effort. The fact that he did it in his first start, that surprised me.” Next stop: The Pace Elims on July 11. Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW$22,500 – 1st (1:47.4) 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($754,774 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Will make his 2020 debut Saturday night in a tough spot in the Big M’s 11th race. Has drawn post 10 against a good field of upper mid-range conditioned – and with one exception, older – foes. Pelling: “I’m looking for a nice clean race Saturday. There has never been a glitch [in his season]. The only glitch has been the schedule. My horse will thrive [racing for several weeks in a row]. I don’t have to protect him. He’s going to recover well naturally. Racing will turn him on.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – Qualifier – 1st (1:50.3) 3 Capt Midnight ($299,038 – 1:49.4) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  The only other 3-year-old in the 11th race Saturday did better at the post draw than Papi did, getting the 4. Alagna: “It’s always tough for 3-year-olds to face older. But he’s had a good week and we are looking forward to getting that first start in.” Last Race: 6/22 – Gaitway – Qualifier – 1st (1:51) 4 Catch The Fire ($258,547 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables    Four of the Top 10 are in the 5th race Saturday at the Meadowlands. Catch The Fire drew best of the lot, leaving from the 6 hole. Ackley: “He’s aggressive and loves what he’s doing. He loves to compete and he’ll probably go more than we hope for him. The plan is to race him some but we just want to get a real good tightener in him.” Last Race: 6/18 – Mea – Qualifier – 1st (1:52.1) 5 Captain Barbossa  ($130,188 – 1:51.2) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Will depart from post 10 in Race 5 Saturday. Alagna: “We took last week off by design. We need to get another nice start in him. He had a good week but the 10 hole is a pain.” Barbossa was a good second in his last race on June 20 after being pushed three-wide off the turn. Last Race: 6/20 – M1 – NW4 – 2nd (1:50.4) 6 Major Betts ($153,390 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost    Sped past Schnittker standout – and 2-5 favorite – Splash Brother at Tioga to win in 1:49.4 by 3 lengths on Sunday. Very impressive! Harder: “The colt raced right up to expectations. It looks like we are right on track. I think he’s pretty much spot on.”   Last Race: 6/28 – TgDn – NYSS – 1st (1:49.4) 7 Allywag Hanover ($38,233 – 1:48.2) D. Miller, B. Pelling Allywag Stable  Burst onto the Meadowlands Pace scene with an eye-popping 1:48.2 score at the Big M last Saturday after flying home in :26.2. He’ll be the favorite from post 8 in Saturday’s 5th race. Pelling: “[I was not] at all surprised by his mile last week. He was sensational in his qualifier the week before. He’s got sheer speed. He’s the real deal. If he’s not one the best five [horses] in the Pace, I’ll give the game away.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW4 – 1st (1:48.2) 8 Manticore ($179,710 – 1:52.2) D. Miller, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing  Distinguished himself for a second straight start, this time sprinting home in :26.2 to grab second to Allywag Hanover Saturday night. Leaves from post 7 in Saturday’s Race 5. This horse is a bon fide closer. Saunders: “I expect him to race well this week. Next week [in the elims], I hope he’s in a spot from where he can qualify for the [Meadowlands Pace] final. There are four or five horses that have a much better resume than him, but if he gets the right trip, anything can happen.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW4 – 2nd (1:48.3) 9 Roll With Jr ($176,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J.Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher  Won a 3-year-old event at Cullipher’s home track, Hoosier Park, in speed fashion, in a very encouraging first betting start of the season. Cullipher: “I know my horse won’t be favored facing some of the better horses, but after the win back home last week, he’s earned the chance to race in The Pace. I was very pleased with his performance. We’ll train him up good Saturday and ship to the Meadowlands Sunday.” Last Race: 6/26 – HoP – The Star Destroyer – 1st (1:51.2) 10 Captain Kirk ($60,228 – 1:51) D. Dunn, T. Alagna Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz,Brad Grant, Captain Kirk Racing  Rounds out Alagna’s threesome in the Top 10. Lone pari-mutuel start this year resulted in a second-place finish – featuring a :25.2 kicker – at the hands of Splash Brother, who was winning in 1:48.2. Alagna: “I think [Captain] Kirk has talent like [Capt] Midnight. We quit with him early last year, after the Metro. So far, he’s paid us back for that extra time off.” Scheduled to qualify Friday morning. Will Alagna have 4 in the Pace? More? “You never know,” he said. Last Race: 6/20 – M1 – NW2 – 2nd (1:48.3) From the Meadowlands Media Department  

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA, is excited to announce their line-up for Thursday (July 2) at 10:30 a.m. Guests include Nancy Takter and Dave Little. Takter will discuss the horses in her barn set to take center stage this weekend at The Meadowlands and in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action Thursday at Harrah's Philadelphia. She will also talk about the great rivalry that kicked off in the Miss Versatility between Manchego and Atlanta. Little joins to discuss the Graduate and NJSS legs coming up at The Meadowlands this weekend. The pair will discuss some of the great wagering opportunities that are available this weekend. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at https://www.blogtalkradio.com/ptmikeandmike. by Michael Carter, for Post Time    

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - For Tall Dark Stranger, it's all systems go for The Meadowlands Pace. Harness racing trainer Nancy Takter had her prized colt in a less-than-ideal spot for his 3-year-old debut at the Meadowlands, facing older foes in a high-end conditioned pace, but in this post-coronavirus reality where many plans have had to be re-worked, everything turned out as well as she could have hoped. "I wasn't shocked," said Takter. "I knew he had that in him. He did it very easily without much effort. The fact that he did it in his first start, that surprised me." What Tall Dark Stranger did was win in 1:47.4 to equal the fastest mile in the sport this year. The Bettor's Delight-Precocious Beauty product was in a live cover flow past the half, getting a perfect tow from Western Joe, who won a week ago in 1:48.2. But just after the five-eighths, Western Joe started to slow, causing driver Yannick Gingras to swing three-wide a little earlier than he would have liked, midway through the far turn, with Tall Dark Stranger. "[The trip] didn't concern me," said Takter. "He's a racehorse. He knows what he's supposed to do." What he did was explode through the stretch, pacing his final quarter in :25.4 to record a 1½-length win in lowering his previous lifetime best by one-and-one-fifth seconds. Escapetothebeach was second, The Devils Own N third and Western Joe fourth. The top-ranked horse in the Big M's weekly "Road to the Meadowlands Pace" Top 10 looks more than ready to go. "He's got a blowout mile in him now," said Takter. "He's going to get next week off before the [July 11] Pace eliminations. He's right where I want him to be." Tall Dark Stranger Tall Dark Stranger ($3.80 to win as the 4-5 public choice) has now won nine of 10 lifetime starts and has earnings of $726,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. The $682,650 Meadowlands Pace Final takes place on July 18. GIMPANZEE AT THE HEAD OF THE CLASS It wasn't easy, but Gimpanzee came from well off the pace to win one of two $50,000 divisions of the Graduate Series' second leg for 4-year-old trotters in a lifetime-best 1:50.2. Driver Brian Sears opted to race the two-time Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes champion from off the pace after a highly contentious several-horse scrum into the first turn had him take back to seventh at the quarter. "I knew the horse to beat was Chin Chin Hall and I wasn't going to press my horse early," said Sears. The son of Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows was sixth in a third-over flow at three-quarters as Chin Chin Hall was sailing along on the lead. But Gimpanzee still had plenty of fuel in the tank. Despite having 4½ lengths to make up through the final three-sixteenths, the Marcus Melander trainee was up to the task, rocketing home in :27 to best Chin Chin Hall by a half-length. Kings County was third. "Gimpanzee is everything you want in a racehorse," said Sears. "I thought [Chin Chin Hall] was going to be spent [in the latter stages] and I thought we had a chance. My horse is a gamer and knows what we are trying to accomplish. He put his head down and did what he had to do." Gimpanzee paid $2.60 to win as the 1-5 favorite in raising his lifetime numbers to 19 wins from 25 starts, good for earnings of $1,770,111 for owners Courant Inc and S R F Stable. A LITTLE MORE Southwind Avenger won the other Graduate division in 1:51.3 at odds of 22-1, one of four victories on the night for driver Andy McCarthy. Don't Let'em, the 4-5 favorite, broke at the start and finished last in the field of nine. ... Geez Joe gunned down 3-5 favorite Sintra for a second straight week in taking the overnight feature, the Preferred for pacers, in 1:48.2 as the 9-2 second choice. ... Wagering on the 13-race card totaled $2,863,730. Betting has now exceeded the $2.5-million mark the last 15 racing programs. ... The season's mark that Tall Dark Stranger equaled was Kissin In The Sand's, who is trained by Takter and driven by Gingras. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. Patrons will be welcomed back into the Meadowlands at 25 percent capacity. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Southwind Chrome was sent on a mission by his driver Scott Zeron in the Friday night harness racing feature at the Meadowlands. And he completed it in spectacular fashion. The 5-year-old son of Chapter Seven-Counter Pointe won a second straight start in the Preferred for trotters, as the razor-sharp Jeff Cullipher trainee scored in 1:50.4 after going a less-than-ideal trip. There were horses leaving the gate from the outside, so Zeron had a decision to make early on from post eight. "I think given the circumstances, it worked out the way it had to," said Zeron. "There were not a lot of leavers mid-pack, so it was either sneak into the four-hole or go to the front. Midway around the first turn, I decided to go to the lead. He was so good tonight. I figured I'd make the front and then rate from there." But it would not be easy. JL Cruze, the 5-2 favorite, grabbed the lead at the quarter in a wicked :26.3 as Southwind Chrome continued his march to the top while uncovered. He did not clear until the three-eighths. The half was reached in :55 and Southwind Chrome was moving well on the point, then Zeron asked for more in an effort to seal the victory on the far turn. "I figured if I put space between Dex [Dunn, driving JL Cruze] and I at the five-eighths, I would be able to cruise down the lane." He did just that. Southwind Chrome opened up a 1¾-length edge at three-quarters after rating the third fraction in :28 and upped his lead to 2½ at the head of the stretch. Southwind Chrome's advantage diminished in deep stretch as JL Cruze was closing in, but still held on by a safe neck. Kenziesky Hanover was third. "When you have a good horse, you just want to know the other horses' form," said Zeron. "I knew my horse was at the top of his game." Southwind Chrome, who is heading for next week's $200,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Big M, paid $9.20 to win as the second choice in the betting and now has 13 wins from 36 career starts and earnings of $230,210 for owners Pollack Racing and Jeff Cullipher. NJSS WRAP UP The second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds saw four divisions on the Friday card, and filly pacer Odds On Sarasota (Rock N Roll Heaven-Odds On Charmaine) stayed perfect in two sire stakes starts this year by finding room late along the pylons to win in 1:55 as the 4-5 favorite for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Ross Croghan. Odds On Sarasota Rockin The Aces (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mattaroni) came from way back at odds of 17-1 to gun down 1-9 public choice Rock Me Hard in deep stretch in the colts and geldings pace in a lifetime-best 1:51.2 for Brian Sears and Robert Cleary. Ab'sattitudexpress was sent to the top by Yannick Gingras and blew away the field at odds of 7-1 for Lucas Wallin in the filly trot. The daughter of Trixton-Abbie'sgotattidtude stopped the clock in a lifetime-best 1:52.4. Abbie'sgotattidtude After racing wide around the first turn, 2-5 favorite Play Trix On Me was a dominant winner in the colts and geldings trot. The son of Trixton-Lima Playmate equaled his lifetime best of 1:53.2 for Zeron and Linda Toscano, the Hall of Famer who was celebrating a birthday. A LITTLE MORE Former Meadowlands leading drivers Sears and George Brennan, who were winless in 39 and 22 starts, respectively, both won for the first time at the meet. ... The Big M's "Big 4" multi-leg wagers were popular, as the 20-cent Pick-5 ($74,907), 20-cent Pick-6 ($32,872 with some help from a $8,948 carryover), Early 50-cent Pick-4 ($78,906) and Late 50-cent Pick-4 ($78,087) all took big play. Wagering for the 13-race card totaled $2,837,178, upping the Big M's streak of at least $2.5 million in handle to 14. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Meadowlands faithful were given plenty of opportunity, and they took advantage by betting with both hands throughout Saturday night's 18-race harness racing program. When the dust cleared, wagering totaled $4,100,386, the highest for a non-Hambletonian Day or Meadowlands Pace Night in memory. In fact, other than the $6,501,778 wagered on Hambletonian Day 2019, the only other $4-million handle last year was on Meadowlands Pace Night, when a total of $4,044,303 was pushed through the windows. Wagering was steady throughout Saturday's card, with the $300,000 barrier busted only once (on the third race). There were two other races on the card that saw betting of at least $290,000. The tally for the weekend was impressive, as a total of $7,582,203 was wagered on the 36 races, good for an average per race of $210,616. 'ANGEL' BEDEVILS FOES Guardian Angel As was a dominant winner in the co-feature on the Saturday card, the Preferred for trotters. The 6-year-old son of Archangel-Provide As never had an anxious moment scoring as the 3-5 public choice, as after Obrigado took the field past the quarter in a snappy :26.2, driver Tim Tetrick moved the Anette Lorentzon trainee to the top soon thereafter. A rated middle half of :56.4 saw Guardian Angel As open up what would turn out to be an insurmountable 2½-length lead at the head of the stretch on the way to a sparkling 4¼-length triumph over JL Cruze in a lifetime-best 1:50.1. Phaetosive was third. Guardian Angel As ($3.20 to win), who earned $798,294 a year ago during a campaign that was highlighted by a win over Atlanta in the Maple Leaf Trot, now has 24 career victories from 58 starts and a bank account that stands at $1,328,540 for owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. Guardian Angel As   GEEZ, JOE SCORES Geez Joe benefitted from a patient Marcus Miller drive and some racing luck to win the co-featured Preferred for pacers in 1:48.1. Trapped at the rail sitting in the four-hole in sixth place, Miller found some space coming off the far turn, and once clear, sprinted past Sintra nearing the wire to record a three-quarter-length score, upping his lifetime stats to 22 wins in 68 starts, with earnings of $294,120 for trainer Erv Miller and owners Bay Pond Racing Stable. Geez Joe, whose lifetime mark is 1:47.4, paid $10.60 as the third choice in the wagering. HOT STUFF Trainers Ray Schnittker and Shane Tritton are raising eyebrows in the first few weeks back since the coronavirus shutdown. Schnittker has a pair of impressive 3-year-old pacing males who figure to be heard from as the stakes season comes into focus. His Captain Groovy (Captaintreacherous-Lets Groove Tonite) made it two straight Meadowlands wins when he stopped the clock in 1:48 for driver Mark MacDonald. The time was just a tick off the fastest mile of the year in the sport. Splash Brother completed the Schnittker parlay by scoring in 1:48.2. The gelded son of So Surreal-Sugarcoated made the lead from the 10 hole at the quarter in :27.3 and sailed down the road with Tyler Buter calling the shots. Tritton, the champion Down Under trainer who has relocated to the States, kept his red-hot barn rolling, scoring with 8-year-old gelding Lespndnitetogeta N (Washington Vc-The Moth) in 1:51 and 11-year-old horse Flaming Flutter N (Bettor's Delight-Twice As Hot N), who won his North American debut from post nine in 1:49.1. Both were driven by Jordan Stratton. A LITTLE MORE The clock got rocked all night Saturday, as eight of the 17 pacing events went in sub-1:50. ... Stratton and Tetrick led the way in the driver's colony with three wins apiece. ... The 20-cent Pick-6 resulted in a carryover of $8,948 for the next racing program. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The finish was so tight in Friday night's Miss Versatility at the Meadowlands, even the drivers were miffed when the official harness racing results were posted. "I thought I got up for sure," said Yannick Gingras, who guided Atlanta to a second-place finish, just a small nose behind Manchego in the first leg of the $40,000 event for open mare trotters. "They called my number [four] in the paddock, then they changed it to the six." "I looked at the big screen [when we hit the wire] and I thought Yannick had won," said Manchego's pilot, Dexter Dunn. "I thought he got up." The photo-finish camera yielded a different result from what the drivers thought, as Manchego got the better of Atlanta in a season's-fastest trotting mile of 1:50 in the first of what harness racing fans hope is many 2020 editions of this first-rate rivalry of magnificent mares. In the early action of the prolific pair's first matchup of the season, Felicityshagwell S was away well and led at the quarter in :27.2. Atlanta, the 2-1 second choice who was making her seasonal debut, popped out of the three-hole to clear the top at the three-eighths, only to have Manchego - making her second start - challenge and poke a nose in front at the half in :56. "He had to move her when he did," said winning trainer Nancy Takter of Manchego's aggressive backside surge to the lead. Manchego had the top at the five-eighths and around the far turn before a cutthroat duel developed in the stretch. Gingras moved Atlanta off the rail with a little more than an eighth-of-a-mile to go and made steady progress through the stretch but could not get past her rival in a titillating thriller. "She never exceeds my expectations," said Gingras. "I knew she was ready." Takter did not agree with the drivers when it came to the finish. "I thought Manchego held on. She's tough to pass." Manchego As the 1-5 favorite, Manchego, a 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic, paid $2.60 to win, and now has 29 victories from 45 career starts for owners Black Horse Racing. Her earnings now stand at $2,154,980. Kenziesky Hanover finished third. "It's going to be an interesting season with these two mares," said Takter. No doubt about that. Better keep the photo-finish camera ready. BIG CARD, BIG BETTING No doubt helped by an additional five races on the program, carded in an effort to get some horses raced who have been idle during the coronavirus shutdown, all-source wagering totaled $3,481,817 for the 18 races, a track and industry 2020 best. NJSS ACTION BEGINS New Jersey Sire Stakes action for 2020 got underway with five divisions for 3-year-olds. Dubai Princess (Trixton-La Riviera Lindy) scored in wire-to-wire fashion at 14-1 in 1:52 for driver Gingras and trainer Takter in the first of two filly trots. Even-money chance Spoiled Princess (Trixton-Fashion Spooner) also won on the front end, stopping the clock in 1:53.4 for Dunn and Nifty Norman. Odds On Sarasota (Rock N Roll Heaven-Odds On Charmaine) won the filly pace in speed fashion in 1:53.1 at odds of 3-2 for Tim Tetrick and Ross Croghan; Jula Trix Treasure (Trixton-Victory Treasure) took the colt and gelding trot from off the pace at 8-1 in 1:54 for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt; and Rock Me Hard (Rock N Roll Heaven-Scarlet McZara) came from behind to win the colt and gelding pace in 1:51.4 at 7-5 for Tetrick and Bart Dalious. A LITTLE MORE Soho Burning Love A (Auckland Reactor) with Tim Tetrick driving became Australia's fastest ever pacer tonight winning easily in 1:48.4 at just her fourth start in North America. Soho Burning Love A Tetrick had the hot hand among the drivers, scoring six times on the card, while Dunn had three. Dave Miller and Gingras had two apiece... Favorites ruled, hitting the wire first 11 times during the night. ... Racing resumes Saturday with another 18-race program that gets underway at 6 p.m., 18 minutes after the running of the 152nd Belmont Stakes. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, NJ - As harness racing trainers continue to scramble to get their horses raced (or qualified), there were no changes in Week 2 of Dave Little's Road to the Meadowlands Pace.   For Pace info visit MeadowlandsPace.com     Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($717,514 – 1:49.1) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Finished third in a Meadowlands qualifier on Friday. Kicked home in :25.4 to complete his mile in 1:51. Takter: “He was very good in his qualifier. He did everything we asked of him. We were just going around the track. Yannick never really asked him. We’ll qualify him again Saturday and stretch him out a bit more. The issue is anybody who has a horse with a lot of wins and earnings doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to get raced. The upper classes aren’t filling.” LAST RACE: 6/12 – M1 – Qualifier – 3rd (1:51) 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($754,774 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Paced his final quarter in :25.3 to get second in his Q. Pelling: “I thought he was just awesome in his qualifier. He doesn’t fit non-winners of 4 like some of these other horses. I am presuming they will have a 3-year-old Open on July 3. He’s not qualifying this week, maybe next week. Qualifiers are qualifiers. They are not a race.” Last Race: 6/12 – M1 – Qualifier – 2nd (1:51) 3 Capt Midnight ($299,038 – 1:49.4) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  Monday marked his first appearance of the season, a 1:51.2 Q at Gaitway. Alagna: “It was good to get that first one under his belt. It was a big mile given the conditions. It was a little windy. He’s been in training for a few months, so a lot of horses are in the same boat trying to get raced. We’ll go back and qualify at Gaitway Monday. We’ll get a race in him somewhere.” Last Race: 6/15 – Gaitway – Qualifier – 1st (1:51.2) 4 Cattlewash ($311,791 – 1:50.3) Y. Gingras, R. Burke W J Donovan    Not much doing during the week for the third-leading earner in the Top 10 from a year ago. That’s about to change. Burke: “He’s in Saturday in the Poconos (with Marcus Miller driving). He drew the nine hole. He’ll be handled somewhat aggressively but the nine hole at Pocono is tough. I wish he was a little bit sharper, but I’m not worried about it. It’s gonna take him a week or two. Smaller horses get ready quicker. Cattlewash is a big horse.” Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 3rd (1:53.3) 5 Catch The Fire ($258,547 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables  Will go in the 20th Qualifier at The Meadows [Thursday, June 18] after taking a three-week break. Ackley: “We are getting ready to qualify at The Meadows later [Thursday]. I hope to go around [1:]52. A week ago Monday we trained him real good. After [Thursday], the plan is to come out east [to The Meadowlands].” Last Race: 5/17 – ScD – Qualifier – 1st (1:56.2) 6 Father Nuno ($205,472 – 1:52.4) B. Sears, T. Canciellere John Canciellere  In early July, won his highlight-reel race of 2019 at the Meadows in 1:52.4 in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Thus far this year, has a pair of qualifiers under his belt. Tom Canciellere: “We will qualify him one more time. we are happy with the way he’s coming back.” Last Race: 6/9 – Chfld – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.4) 7 Captain Barbossa  ($127,488 – 1:51.2) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Finished second in a Big M Qualifier. Everything looks good. Alagna: “We’re very happy with how he’s come back. He’s in a NW4 (Race 4) and has the rail Saturday. [With less wins and money earnings] It gives us more options as far as getting into a race.” Last Race: 6/12 – M1 – Qualifier – 2nd (1:50.4) 8 Manticore ($176,585 – 1:52.2)   D. Miller, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing  The only horse in the Top 10 to participate in a pari-mutuel race last week did well, finishing superbly to get third after kicking home in :26. Saunders: “We were happy with him. He did have good pace coming home. Nothing happened to discourage us. I gave him this week off. Hoping that Pennsylvania will schedule a Sire Stakes event that we can go in later this month.” Last Race: 6/13 – M1 – Non-Winners of 4 – 3rd (1:51.3) 9 Roll With Jr ($166,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J. Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher  Cullipher: “He really didn’t do much last week. I was sending him to Tioga, but found out it was just a prep race, so he’ll race in Indiana next week [in a modest 3-year-old event]. We may stay out there and then come to New Jersey for the Meadowlands Pace Eliminations.” Last Race: 6/9 – HoP – Qualifier – 2nd (1:53.2) 10 Major Betts ($134,274 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost  Tied for fastest lifetime-best among the Top 10 with a 1:49.1 mark taken a year ago. Not in to go this week. Harder: “I can’t get him in. I tried at the Meadowlands and at Chester to get raced. By that time, the Meadowlands qualifiers were already drawn. He’s rarin’ to go. He’s fit and sharp. We will race at Tioga in sire stakes next weekend. For a horse I have high hopes for, it’s been a little difficult. But that’s what we are all up against.”  Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.1)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Dancin Lou has been here before. So when he beats some of the best harness racing horses in training, it's no big surprise. The proof? His spectacular mile at the Meadowlands Saturday night, when he took down a talented field, one that included 3-5 favorite Backstreet Shadow, who was in search of his fifth straight win, in the featured Preferred for pacers. Why was it not shocking? Last year, among his 11 wins, were victories in the Breeders Crown (beating Bettor's Wish and Captain Crunch) and the Tattersalls (Southwind Ozzi) as the now 4-year-old son of Sweet Lou-Dancewiththebest earned $567,101 during his sophomore campaign. In his 2020 debut Saturday night, driver Dexter Dunn used a perfectly timed move with the Tahnee Camilleri trainee down the backside to notch his 13th career victory in 32 starts. Tookadiveoffdipper showed early speed and cut out fractions of :27 and :55.4. Given the slow pace of the second quarter, Backstreet Shadow was on the move making up ground first-over after vacating the five-hole just after the half. As Backstreet Shadow had his sights set on the leader, Dunn moved Dancin Lou out of the three-hole to get in front of the favorite at the five-eighths. "He was feeling good in the three-hole but we had to come out," said Dunn. "He was fighting me just a little bit, and it took me an extra five strides to get him out. I knew Timmy [Tetrick, driving Backstreet Shadow] would be on my back, but coming to three-quarters, you have to go for it." Dancin Lou then methodically made his way to the top at the head of the stretch and continued to do good things through the stretch, extending his advantage after surging to the lead at the eighth pole. He hit the wire 1½ lengths in front of Tookadiveoffdipper. Bechers Brook A was third with Backstreet Shadow fourth. The time for the mile was 1:50. Dancin Lou "I think he was," said Dunn when asked if Dancin Lou was overlooked last year. "He wasn't in the North America Cup or the Meadowlands Pace but he did a great job at the Red Mile and in the Breeders Crown. He's one of those horses, you give him the right trip and he's pretty potent. Given how good he was tonight, I think he'll be able to do a good job against the best aged pacers in training this year." As the third choice in the wagering, Dancin Lou returned $16.60 to win. His lifetime earnings now stand at $592,409 for owners David Kryway and 1362313 Ontario LTD. New Zealand horses making impact at the BigM Four winners on the night's card plus six seconds; The most impressive winner of the five was The Devils Own N (Art Major) trained by Kelvin Harrison and driven by Dexter Dunn. They paced the fastest time on the cool night in 1:49.3. The Devils Own N Solid Gold N having his first start in North America jogged in 1:51.3. Solid Gold N Gods Spirit N (Tintin In America) for Team Tritton was a very good winner in 1:50.1. Second in this race was Revolver N. Gods Spirit N Race nine produced another New Zealand quinella in Trojan Banner N and Italian Delight N. Trojan Banner N A LITTLE MORE Dunn led the driver's colony with four scores on the night, among the winners was a good-looking 3-year-old colt from the Chris Ryder barn, Moneyman Hill, who completed his mile in 1:52.4 as the 1-5 public choice. ... Betting remained steady at the industry's handle leader as a total of $2,868,359 was put in play, marking the 11th straight program where wagering exceeded the $2.5-million mark. ... Next Friday and Saturday, in an effort to get horses raced who have been idle during the coronavirus shutdown, the Meadowlands will card 18-race programs that will get underway at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Southwind Chrome needed every inch of the stretch to take the Friday night harness racing feature at the Meadowlands, which made one simulcast player in Canada very happy, as he or she walked away with the only winning 20-cent Pick-6 ticket, which was worth $39,243. The Jeff Cullipher-trained Southwind Chrome, no stranger to the Meadowlands winner's circle having won two straight at the mile track in December, was the figure horse in the Preferred for trotters off a superb second-place finish to Manchego one week ago, when the super mare went the fastest trotting mile of the year in the sport of 1:50.3. Despite that, it was the Ron Burke-schooled Mission Accepted who was sent to the gate as the even-money public choice, and driver Yannick Gingras had that one on the lead at the half in :54.3. At that point, Scott Zeron moved Southwind Chrome out of the six-hole and started to make his way toward the leader. "It looked in the program like all of the inside horses would be leaving the gate," said Zeron. "So I opted to race from off the pace. First up from sixth is no easy trip but he really toughed it out." Zeron and 'Chrome' were just a length-and-a-quarter behind the leader at three-quarters after making steady progress around the far turn, setting the stage for a cutthroat stretch duel. Through the lane, it looked like Southwind Chrome poked a head in front at the eighth pole before Mission Accepted came back determinedly to get a slight edge with a sixteenth to go only to have Southwind Chrome have one final surge right before the wire to prevail by a nose in 1:51. "That would be a good explanation [of what happened through the stretch]," said Zeron. "He really battled. Jeff [Cullipher] is aiming him for the [July 4] Cutler. His form is impeccable right now." A 5-year-old son of Chapter Seven-Counter Pointe, Southwind Chrome returned $4.60 as the 6-5 second choice for owners Pollack Racing and Jeff Cullipher. He now has 12 wins from 35 lifetime starts and earnings of $218,960. Southwind Chrome The giant Pick-6 payout started from a modest $6,843 carryover and was keyed in the first leg by a longshot as the Eric Abbatiello-trained and driven Broadway Bruiser left the gate quickly in the fourth race, worked out a pocket trip and then charged through the inside late to record a 40-1 upset. The middle four legs of the wager were won by 'haveable' horses, whose odds were 5-1, 2-1, 2-1 and 1-2, respectively. A LITTLE MORE A formful night of racing saw seven favorites click on the 13-race program. Overall, 10 races were won by horses whose odds were 2-1 or less. ... Ten different drivers visited the winner's circle with Gingras leading the way with three victories while Tim Tetrick scored twice. ... Wagering at the Big M remained remarkably consistent as a total of $2,650,358 was pushed through the windows, upping the streak of programs with wagering of at least $2.5 million to 10. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, NJ - June 11th   By Dave Little   Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover are set to renew their harness racing rivalry from a year ago and sit 1-2 atop the first of five weekly 2020 editions of Dave Little's "Road to the Meadowlands Pace".     Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($717,514 – 1:49.1) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Won 8-of-9 starts during an extremely successful 2YO campaign. Took divisional honors from arch-rival Papi Rob Hanover after being placed 1st via DQ in the Oct. 25 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Lone loss of the season came one-week prior against PRH in a Crown Elim. Takter: “He’s doing really well. He trained at the Meadowlands in 1:52.3 last Thursday and will qualify this Friday. It would have been nice to have the North America Cup [under our belt] so he’ll need an overnight or two before the Meadowlands Pace Eliminations.” LAST RACE: None in 2020 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($754,774 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Hit the board in all 12 starts as a 2YO. Big wins came in the Governor’s Cup, Matron and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship. Pelling: “he’s done everything right. Zero complaints. But there is a level of uncertainty still. It’s a special race, but it’s always been your fifth or sixth start, which is usually their best. That will not be the case this year. He’ll qualify Friday.” Last Race: 6/3 – Chfld – Qualifier – 1st (1:53.2) 3 Capt Midnight ($299,038 – 1:49.4) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  Had a pair of nice wins in the Nassagawey and International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile as well as a third in the Metro during 2019. Alagna: “He wintered well. He will qualify Monday at Gaitway. He raced against the big two last year and showed signs of getting tired late in the year, but there is no reason he can’t go with them during 2020.” Last Race: None in 2020 4 Cattlewash ($311,791 – 1:50.3) Y. Gingras, R. Burke W J Donovan    Scored at The Red Mile in late September in 1:50.3 in the Bluegrass before ending the season well with a third (in the Breeders Crown), a second (Matron) and a third (Governor’s Cup). Burke: “He did well over the winter. I think he’s rounding into form. It’s going to be a different feel getting these horses ready given what’s happened over the last three months. Right now, I’m waiting for a race for this horse.” Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 3rd (1:53.3) 5 Catch The Fire ($258,547 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables  Of his four wins from a year ago, the most impressive was an easy 3-length stroll in the Kentucky Sire Stakes Final as the 3-5 favorite. Ackley: “He did super over the winter. He went 1:56 just kind of sitting there. We trained him Monday in 1:53 with a backside in :54 flat. We’ll try and be out there [from Pennsylvania] 10-14 days before the Pace elims, hoping for a prep race.” Last Race: 5/17 – ScD – Qualifier – 1st (1:56.2) 6 Father Nuno ($205,472 – 1:52.4) B. Sears, T. Canciellere John Canciellere  In early July, won his highlight-reel race of 2019 at the Meadows in 1:52.4 in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Thus far this year, has a pair of qualifiers under his belt, which is more work than many in this division have done. Tom Canciellere: “We will qualify him one more time, probably next week at the Meadowlands. It’s been a long winter, but we are happy with the way he’s coming back.” Last Race: 6/9 – Chfld – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.4) 7 Captain Barbossa  ($127,488 – 1:51.2) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Solid numbers from 2019 read 10 on-the-board finishes from 14 tries, including a score in the Bluegrass at The Red Mile in late September. Qualified impressively at the Meadowlands last Saturday. Alagna: “He got good the second half of last season. He changed a lot over the winter. He will qualify Friday at the Meadowlands.” Last Race: 6/6 – M1 – Qualifier – 1st (1:51.2) 8 Manticore ($174,965 – 1:52.2) D. Miller, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing  Finished 1st or 2nd in 7-of-11 starts as a 2YO, with his biggest win coming at Philadelphia in late August in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Kicked home in :26.2 in his qualifier. Saunders: “getting prepared has been a little different this year but we are all at the same disadvantage. My horse is in Saturday night at the Meadowlands. He’s a talented colt and he’s grown considerably since last year.”. Last Race: 6/9 – Chfld – Qualifier – 1st (1:53.3) 9 Roll With Jr ($166,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J. Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher  A Sept. 28 win in the Bluegrass at The Red Mile in 1:50.4 stands out as his best of 3 wins (from 11 starts) a year ago. Both 2020 qualifiers look good. Cullipher: “He’s doing well. His next go will be in the New York Sire Stakes on June 21 at Tioga. He’s a big colt, so he’s well-suited to the mile track at the Meadowlands, and he matured a lot over the winter.” Last Race: 6/9 – HoP – Qualifier – 2nd (1:53.2) 10 Major Betts ($134,274 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost  Established his lifetime-best of 1:49.1. in taking a division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile on Oct. 5 at odds of 12-1. Might he have another surprise in store in The Pace on the third Saturday in July? Harder: “I hope so. He’s a talented colt. He has a couple of issues but he has big ability. Those top two colts are the top two for a reason. I was happy with his qualifier. I’m looking for a race the week after next.”  Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.1)    

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The return of harness racing at the Meadowlands from the coronavirus shutdown featured phenomenal performances by a pair of Nancy Takter trainees. Manchego got the party started in the first race back after the Big M's 12-week layoff by taking the Preferred for trotters in a season's-best 1:50.3 with Dexter Dunn driving, despite racing over a track rated 'sloppy'. The 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic was unhurried in the early going, sitting fifth past the half before vacating the rail and coming after leader Lindy The Great while first-over. Manchego was almost even with that foe at three-quarters before quickly surging to the top at the head of the stretch. She then glided through the lane during a final quarter that was clocked in :26.1 on the way to a 2¼-length score over Southwind Chrome, who went a pocket trip. Crystal Fashion rallied for third. Lindy The Great weakened to finish sixth. "I was expecting Manchego to race well," said Takter. "But was I expecting her to go [1:]50 under wraps in the slop? Maybe not just yet." Manchego has now won seven of her last eight outings, the only blemish coming at the hands of Six Pack, who was nothing short of super in defeating Manchego in the TVG Open Trot last November at the Big M. "She's the little engine that could," said Takter. "I was glad she raced from off the pace. It makes her more versatile. She'll be even better as a result." As the 1-5 favorite, Manchego paid $2.40 to win. Manchego and driver Dexter Dunn score in the co-featured Preferred for trotters But it wasn't enough for Takter to have 2020's fastest trotter. At night's end, she had the fastest pacer as well. Her Kissin In The Sand - with Yannick Gingras driving - won the co-featured Preferred for pacing fillies and mares in an eye-popping 1:47.4, which was not only the fastest female mile of the season, but the fastest for any horse regardless of sex. "She was just great," said Takter of the 5-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Kiss Me Kate who equaled her lifetime best. "She had a little bit of a slow start last year, but she matured so much over the winter. She is so much more relaxed." No doubt about it. Kissin In The Sand was taking on a giant in Caviart Ally. The same Caviart Ally who defeated Horse of the Year Shartin N in three of her final four 2019 starts. But Kissin In The Sand proved up to the challenge, sweeping up to take command after the quarter before cutting out fractions of :54.3 and 1:21.3 before kicking home in :26.1 to win for the 20th time in 47 career starts. She finished three-quarters-of-a-length in front of Major Occasion A. Caviart Ally, the 6-5 favorite, never threatened and finished third. Kissin In The Sand paid $5.20 as the 8-5 second choice in the wagering. By the time she raced, the track was rated 'fast'. "Kissin In The Sand is at the peak of her career," said Takter, who intimated her mare would do just fine facing Caviart Ally and Shartin N throughout 2020. "I think she's a good, tough mare who can take tough miles." A LITTLE MORE: Andy McCarthy and Gingras both recorded driving triples on the card while Takter schooled three winner's circle visitors. ... Wagering was vigorous in the 50-cent Late Pick-4 as a total of $79,448 was pushed through the windows. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,882,819. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

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

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