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Vernon Downs played host to a July fourth harness racing spectacular on Saturday. It featured three Empire Breeder Classic races for sophomore trotters (colts & geldings had two divisions). Also on hand was two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman pacing fillies. These five races combined for over half a million dollars in purse money. Hypnotic AM (Brian Sears) captures the $207,250 EBC final for 3-year-old trotting fillies. A wild start saw No Mas Drama (Joe Bongiorno) lead to the first quarter in :27.2. Love A Good Story (Andy Miller) took the top spot right after the first quarter but that was short lived as Hypnotic AM ($3.60) took control as they went to the top of the back stretch. Southwind Fern (Jim Morrill Jr.) was parked outside first over and put on slight pressure as Hypnotic AM hit the half first in :56.1. The field was two by two following Hypnotic AM as they charged around the final turn hitting three-quarters in 1:25.4. Hypnotic AM led as they made the turn for home. Love A Good Story was trapped in the box and finally got free as they reached the stretch but Hypnotic AM was too strong and won in 1:53.4. Love A Good Story settled for second. No Mas Drama finally got free in the stretch as well and finished third.   Hypnotic AM is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. Owned by Courant Inc. and trained by Marcus Melander. She is now two for two in 2020 with nine wins in 11 lifetime starts. Hobbs (Jason Bartlett) goes three-wide to gain upset victory in $97,750 first division of  the EBC for sophomore trotting colts & geldings. Hobbs ($17.20) went straight to the front and led to the first quarter in :27.2.  Barn Holden (Jim Morrill Jr.) took over as they went around the clubhouse turn with Hobbs settling for the pocket.  Barn Holden hit the half first in :56.3.  Take the Credit (Ake Svanstedt) was the first to make a move on the backstretch going first-over from fourth.  The two battled all the way around the final turn with Take The Credit leading to three-quarters in 1:24.3.   Hobbs came out of the pocket and came at them three-wide as they reached the stretch.  As they headed to deep stretch Take The Credit muscled his way to the front.  Hobbs wore him down and went by just before the wire hitting a lifetime best mile of 1:53.3.  Take The Credit had to settle for second money with Barn Holden hanging on for third.   Hobbs is a 3-year-old gelding by Credit Winner. Owned by Runthetable Stables and trained by Jim Campbell, he won for the first time this season and the second time in his career. Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt) dominates the $97,750 second division of the EBC for 3-year-old colts & geldings. Berkery J (Scott Zeron) and Chaptiama (Trond Smedshammer) battled for the early lead with Chaptiama taking over just before hitting the first quarter in :27.2. Chaptiama led to the half in :57.1 with Berkery J in the pocket and Third Shift ($2.90) sitting patiently in third. As they headed to three-quarters Ballcapsnbluejeans (Corey Callahan) came first up and flushed out Third Shift. Chaptiama still led as they hit three-quarters in 1:25.3. Third Shift moved into second and went a little wide as they made the turn for home. Berkey J tried to split the leaders but went off-stride. Third Shift had another gear and forged to the front and won by over five lengths in a lifetime best of 1:52.4. Ballcapsnbluejeans came up to finish second with Sir Cromwell (Jason Bartlett) getting awarded third place.   Third Shift is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. Owned by trainer Svanstedt and Melby Gard Inc. He is two for two in 2020 with five career wins. Easy To Please (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Test Of Faith (Jim Marohn Jr.) each take divisions of the NYSS for freshmen pacing fillies. Easy To Please (Roll With Joe-Lorrie Please) wins the $53,100 first division of the NYSS for 2-year-old pacing fillies. She would take over just before the half and never looked back to win in a lifetime best of 1:53.2. She is owned by trainer Michael Hall, Our Three Sons Stable, Brad Grant, and Howard Taylor. She is now two for two in her young career. She paid $2.60 for the win. Test Of Faith (Art Major-Cannae Cammie) goes wire-to-wire to capture the $53,100 second division. Trained by Brett Pelling for owners Melvin Segal and Kentuckiana Racing Stable. He won in 1:52.2 in his first career start paying ($11.00) for the win. Vernon Downs returns to live racing Thursday (July 9) with a 13-race card starting at 4 p.m. For more information go to by John Horne, for Vernon Downs.  

Vernon Downs will host three Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) races for 3-year-old trotters on Saturday (July 4) at 1 p.m. There will be two divisions for sophomore trotting colts and geldings. Both divisions will race for a purse of $97,750. In the first division, the Steven Pratt trained Barn Holden (Jim Morrill Jr) looks to be the horse to beat. In a leg of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) last week the colt by Conway Hall faded in the stretch to finish third after leading most of the race. He has two wins in 2020 and five career victories with earnings of over $135,000. His main rival will be the Julie Miller trained Book Seven (Andy Miller). The Chapter Seven colt is one for one in 2020 with a lifetime best mark of 1:56.3 last week at Tioga. He has six lifetime wins and has earned over $85,000 in his career Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt) and Berkery J (Scott Zeron) are set to face off in the second division of the EBC, Both are coming off of NYSS wins at Vernon Downs last week. Third Shift (Chapter Seven) won the ($225,000) NYSS final for freshmen colts & geldings. He looked real sharp in his 2020 debut last week winning in a lifetime best of 1:54.3. Trained by Svanstedt, he has earned over $210,000 including four career wins. Berkery J (Chapter Seven) came flying late to win last week in a lifetime best time of (1:54.2) in his first start of 2020. The George Ducharme trained colt has four career wins and earnings of over $176,000. Chaptiama (Chapter Seven) should be their main competition. Trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer, the colt came charging late to finish a close second to Berkery J at Tioga. She has two lifetime victories and nearly $200,000 in earnings. 11 fillies will square off in the $207,250 EBC for sophomore filly trotters. Hypnotic AM (Brian Sears) is the top money earner in the group with nearly $500,000 in the bank. Marcus Melander trains the filly by Chapter Seven. As a freshman she finished first in the $225,000 NYSS final and a decent third place finish in the Breeders Crown. She is one for one in 2020 with an impressive NYSS win at Tioga Downs last week. She is eight for ten in her career. Senorita Rita (Scott Zeron) will be making her 3-year-old debut. She had a sensational freshman season with wins in the $475,000 Goldsmith Maid final and the $251,000 Kindergarten Classic final (both at the Meadowlands). Linda Toscano trains the filly by Chapter Seven. She has six career wins and earnings of over $410,000. Morning line favorite, Love A Good Story (Andy Miller) is coming off a lifetime best of 1:53.0 in her 3-year-old debut at Tioga Downs last week in a leg of the NYSS. The sophomore filly by Chapter Seven is trained by Julie Miller. She has eights career wins and has amassed over $260,000 in her career. There will also be two divisions of the NYSS for freshman pacing fillies. Both divisions will race for a purse of $53.100. Post time for the 15-race card on Saturday (July 4) is 1:10 p.m. Vernon Downs will race on Thursdays and Saturdays for the rest of July at 4 p.m. They will race on Friday (July 10) with a 4 p.m. post time as well. For more information go to www.vernondowns. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs            

TIOGA, N.Y. - Wins on Sunday in the Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga have the colt Hickfromfrenchlick and the filly Zero Tolerance riding a wave of harness racing momentum into their final New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) appearances. The 3-year-olds sit comfortably in the top tier of point earners with one leg of racing left for each before the Night of Champions at Batavia Downs. Trainer/driver/co-owner Ray Schnittker calls Hickfromfrenchlick's race on Sunday the horse's "best performance of the year." The colt pacer is more mature and a lot more sound on the track, according to Schnittker, and paced strongly through the wire in the Final in 1:48.4. Hickfromfrenchlick is a special horse for Schnittker out of the second crop of So Surreal, a horse he also campaigned. If he had to compare the two, Schnittker would say Hickfromfrenchlick is a little quicker while So Surreal may have the edge in the endurance department. Even so, he says, "both have a very high speed." Hickfromfrenchlick's next start is on Aug. 29 at Yonkers. He is staked to events at Hoosier Park later this fall and will head there following the NYSS Finals at Batavia on Sept. 14. Bred by Steve Jones, his career earnings are now $374,052 Joe Holloway, trainer of Zero Tolerance, says she has been excellent this year and showed a strong back half in the Final, finishing in 1:50.2. Her ability to adapt to any racing situation is a quality that's impressed him. "Her versatility is her biggest strength. I've had a lot of fillies and they've all had their particular quirks, but with Zero Tolerance, she's not dependent upon one racing strategy," said the newly inducted Hall of Famer. She is undefeated in New York this season with four NYSS victories to her name. Her next start will be at Batavia in the final leg of the NYSS, where she will look to hold on to her position as points leader in her division,and improve upon nearly $150,000 in earnings. Beyond the NYSS, Holloway has plans to race Zero Tolerance in Lexington and in the Breeders Crown. "If everything goes right, she'll have seven more starts this year," he said. As a 2-year-old, Zero Tolerance made a number of Grand Circuit appearances, most notably a second behind Warrawee Ubeaut in the Breeders Crown Final. The daughter of Heston Blue Chip was bred by Winbak Farm and now owned by Val D'Or Farms and Ted Gewertz, she earned $485,813 on the track as a freshman and career earnings now total $839,986. From the New York Sire Stakes

Hickfromfrenchlick is scheduled to race in Indiana later this season, which is likely to attract attention there thanks to his Larry Bird-inspired name, but first the colt will try to close out a successful harness racing campaign at home on the New York circuit, beginning with Sunday's $238,200 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. The Ray Schnittker-trained Hickfromfrenchlick is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line in the EBC for 3-year-old male pacers and will start from post one with driver Matt Kakaley. Hickfromfrenchlick won his elimination this past Sunday by a neck over Shake That House, who is the 2-1 favorite in the final. Hickfromfrenchlick has won five of eight races this year and finished no worse than third in any start. Last year, the son of So Surreal-My Girl's A Star won four of his first five races, including the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace, before finishing off the board in his final two appearances. "He got sore at the end of last year and I don't think we saw the best of him toward the end," co-owner Patrick English said. "Unlike last year, it seems like he's gotten stronger as the year has gone on, so that's been real impressive. "It's been an absolute thrill having him. He's a gamer. It's like an athlete, when they call your number you've got to be ready to go. He's able to do that." English got involved owning racehorses in 2016, when he started the Nolamaura Racing ownership group that includes his father, Kerry, among others. The English family owns a beer distributorship in Goshen, N.Y., and has long been active on the Board of Directors at Historic Track. Prior to owning horses, Patrick English was taught how to drive by Schnittker. English won a matinee race at Historic Track on Father's Day in 2012. It remains the only time he ever drove in a race. "I'm undefeated," English said, laughing. "People don't realize how much Ray does for a lot of people around here in the sport. He brought me into it and taught me everything I know. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be in the sport. I appreciate everything he does for us." Hickfromfrenchlick was bred by Steve Jones, whose farm is located near Goshen, and purchased for $47,000 at the 2017 Goshen Yearling Sale. The colt's name is based on the nickname of Indiana-born basketball legend Bird, who was known as The Hick from French Lick. A week prior to the Empire Breeders Classic eliminations, Hickfromfrenchlick equaled the track record for a 3-year-old pacing colt at Batavia Downs, winning a division of the New York Sire Stakes in 1:51.2. "That was a good mile to watch, not only because he was the winner, but they were racing the whole way," Schnittker said about the race, which saw Hickfromfrenchlick rebuff multiple challenges from Shake That House and then a late charge from Buddy Hill. "They weren't giving any money away that day. "He's come back good this year. He's very versatile, a nice horse to drive. I thought he was a very good horse last year, but I didn't know how sound he would stay. Usually, whatever bites them at 2 comes back and bites them at 3. But I got lucky and he's been very sound this year." Mark MacDonald drove Hickfromfrenchlick for his first six starts this season before being sidelined because of a racing accident. English credited MacDonald with aiding the colt's development. "Matt has done a great job these last couple races, but it was really tough seeing Mark hurt and not able to be on the bike," English said. "I know he's upset about it. When he wasn't traveling he was at the barn with Ray training with Hick. He's also helped out with our two 2-year-olds, Cigars And Port and Splash Brother. He's been a great help." Following the Empire Breeders Classic, Hickfromfrenchlick will compete in the final preliminary round of the New York Sire Stakes on Aug. 29 with an eye toward the series championship on Sept. 14. He then is eligible to the Simpson Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sept. 29 and three races at Harrah's Hoosier Park in Indiana - the Pegasus, Circle City, and Monument Circle. "We're looking forward to that," English said about the horse's trip to Indiana, adding with a laugh, "I've got to think that name is going to bring some popular betting." Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Tioga Downs, which hosts several stakes in addition to the EBC. For complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs has an action packed harness racing day set for Sunday with the Grand Circuit stakes Roll With Joe FFA pace, Artiscape FFA pace for mares, Miss Versatility for trotting mares and the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for New York sired 3-year-old pacing colts and fillies. Stakes purses on the day total more than $800,000. The $170,000 Roll With Joe (race 7) features 2018 Horse Of The Year McWicked who when he look down the starting gate from post six will be pleased not to see this season's division leader Lather Up among the competition. McWicked at the ripe old age of eight can still make his own luck, remains a formidable opponent for anyone and will likely be the public's choice here. Brian Sears has the drive for trainer Casie Coleman and owner Ed James as SSG Stables. The $137,000 Artiscape (race 5) saw only four rivals drop in to take on the current "Queen of the Course", Shartin N. While her story may by now be familiar to racing fans, Shartin's ability is clearly extraordinary. She became the fastest female Standardbred ever via her 1:46.4 win at The Meadowlands in the Lady Liberty, the 12th success in 13 tries this season for Shartin N and owners Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King and driver Tim Tetrick. Jim King, Jr is the trainer. The $40,000 third of four Miss Versatility legs (race 4) offers eight solid mare trotters with last week's Joie De Vie stakes winner Custom Cantab right back at Tioga to take on seven worthy rivals. Custom Cantab overcame a bad post, slight interference early on and a first over move into Atlanta to win impressively at long odds last Sunday. She will not offer that type of value this time around as she begins from the rail for Dave Miller and trainer Chris Beaver who owns her in partnership with Don Robinson and RBH Ventures. Zero Tolerance (Dave Miller) is clearly the girl to beat in the $232,700 EBC filly final (race 8). She has ruled the NYSS scene all season and raced competitively in Grand Circuit stakes as well. Joe Holloway trains Zero Tolerance for Val D'Or Farms and Ted Gewertz. The $238,200 EBC colt final (race 9) could be a showcase for a small town colt with big talent to shine. There may be no defense strong enough to thwart Hickfromfrenchlick who starts from post 1 for Matt Kakaley. Since paired with Kakaley, the "Hick" is shooting 100% from the field while needing no assists or picks as he's taken it right down the floor from the word go each time. The money is on the line here and it's a chance to show just how clutch the Ray Schnittker trained colt is under pressure. Nolamaura Racing, LLC and TC Spatorico share ownership with Schnittker. First post on the Sunday card is 1:00pm. More information may be found on the web. by Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs

Atlanta (Scott Zeron) dominates 3-year-old trotting fillies in the Empires Breeders Classic (EBC) Final (238,613) at Vernon Downs on a spectacular Memorial Day matinee. She not only set the mark for sophomore trotting fillies. Her time of 1:50.3 is the fastest mile ever by a trotter at the Miracle Mile. More records fell on this day as well. After Seven Karats (Yannick Gingras) led going into the first quarter that went in :26.4, Atlanta ($2.60) blew by to take over. Owned by H A Taylor, B J Grant, and trainer Rick Zeron, the sophomore filly would cruise into a second quarter of :53.3. She would start to pull away heading for the final turn. Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) would pull first-over from third and try to chase her down. Atlanta led them to three-quarters in 1:24.0. As she made the turn for home she kept getting faster and faster. She would cruise home in a last quarter of :26.3 and set the overall track record in 1:50.3 beating out the old record set by Intimidate in 2013 (1;51.0) . Plunge Blue Chip would be four lengths back and finish second. Super Girl Riley (Marcus Miller) finished third. Atlanta is a three-year-old filly by Chapter Seven / Hemi Blue Chip. She is now three for three in 2018 and seven for twelve lifetime. Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt) narrowly holds off late charge by Southwind Chrome (Scott Zeron), to win the EBC Final ($223,673) for sophomore trotting colts. Six Pack ($2.90) would take over the lead from Clive Bigsby (Andrew McCarthy) just before hitting the first quarter mark in :26.2. Helpisontheway (Tim Tetrick) would go first-over and pressure Six Pack all the way down the back stretch. Six Pack who is owned by Little E LLC., Stall Kalmer, and trainer Svanstedt , hit the halfway mark in :54.0. He would shrug off Helpisontheway and hit three-quarters in 1:22.2. Six Pack would slip away and looked to be an easy winner, but Southwind Chrome (Scott Zeron) would gobble up ground with every stride in deep stretch, but fell just short and settled for second . Clive Bigsby finished third. Six Pack who is a 3-year-old colt by Muscle Mass / Pleasing Lady, tied the track record for sophomore trotting colts set earlier in the day by The Veteran (Scott Zeron), winning in 1:51.2. It is the third time in the winner's circle in three starts this season and it was career win number seven. The Veteran (Scott Zeron) won the EBC Consolation for trotting colts. Owned by W. Donovan, S. Michaels, J. Winske, and trainer George Ducharme, The Veteran ($4.90) went gate-to-wire to win in 1:51.2. Don (David Miller) was second best with Ronnie Goldstein (Kim Crawford) getting third money. The Veteran is a 3-year-old colt by Muscle Mass. It was his first win of the season and it was his third career victory. His time of 1:51.2 set the record that was later tied by Six Pack. Lucky Ava (Ake Svanstedt) flew late down the stretch to beat her entry mate Fury Road (Andrew McCarthy) to win the EBC Consolation for sophomore trotting fillies. Owned by Little E LLC., Van Camp Trotting Corp and trainer Svanstedt, Lucky Ava ($3.40) ran down Fury Road to win in 1:53.4. Mooshka Stride (Tim Tetrick) finished third. The Miracle Mile also welcomed three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old colt pacers. Courtly Choice (David Miller) took the first division of NYSS ($40,600) with a track record time of 1:48.4. Rockapelo (Tim Tetrick) had a slight lead hitting the first quarter in :26.3. Courtly Choice ($4.10) went off stride right after the start but quickly recovered to lead just after the first quarter. He put down all the rest of the fractions (:55.1, 122.3, 1:48.4). Hitman Hill (Brett Miller) finished second with Real Surreal (Scott Zeron) getting third. Courtly Choice is owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Touch Stone Farms, and trainer Blake Macintosh. The 3-year-old colt is by Art Major. He is now two for two as a sophomore and has won four races overall. The second division of the NYSS ($40,600) went to American History (Yannick Gingras).   American History ($3.00) took over before the half and cruised home to win in 1:49.1. Rock Lights (Scott Zeron) was second best with Heavenly Sound (Andrew McCarthy) finishing third.   American History is a 3-year-old colt by American Ideal. He is owned by Brittany Farms LLC., Marvin Katz and American History Racing while trained by Tony Alana. It was his first win this season and it is career victory number four.   My Delight (Marcus Miller) charged late to win the final division of the NYSS ($40,600).   My Delight ($30.80) passed second place finisher Lyons Steel (Corey Callahan) to win in 1:49.4. Ostra Hanover (Jim Taggart Jr.) was third best.   My Delight is a 3-year-old colt by Betterthancheddar. Owned by Bay Pond Racing and trained by Homer Hochstetler, he won second time this season and the fourth time in his career.   Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (June 1) with a post time of 6:10.   For more information go to   by John Horne, for Vernon Downs                

Sixteen stakes events comprised Sunday (August 16) afternoon's harness racing card at Tioga Downs, and while In the Arsenal ($3.50) and Divine Caroline ($6.90) punched their tickets for next week's Empire Breeders Classic finals by way of sub-1:50 miles, it was 2-year-old trotter Jack Vernon ($3.40) who stole the show with a 1:53.3 effort in his Arthur Tompkins Memorial division.   Jack Vernon, a freshman son of Muscle Hill and Vernon Blue Chip, drafted behind Staying Focused (Andy Miller) through the intermediate stages of the $18,788 stakes split, edging off the pegs midway on the backstretch to avoid being locked in by the then-uncovered Heightend Scrutiny (David Miller).   As soon as Corey Callahan pulled the pocket with Jack Vernon, the pair accelerated to the lead, drawing off from Staying Focused through a :57 final half.   Jack Vernon amassed an 8-3/4 length lead in the end, soundly defeating Treasure Keys K (Charlie Norris) and Staying Focused in a track record 1:53.3.   Randy Beeckman trains Jack Vernon for Miller's Stable, Inc.   Other notable Tompkins Memorial winners on the afternoon were 3-year-old Conway Hall colt Habitat ($2.30, Yannick Gingras), who pulled clear at will for a decisive 1:53 triumph in a lone $58,662 division, and 3-year-old Donato Hanover filly I'm So Fancy ($4.00, Gingras), a 1:54.1 pillar-to-post winner in her $33,832 event.   Sixteen New York-sired 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings contested two $12,500 eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic, and Brian Sears swept both splits. In addition to his 1:49.3 win with Kelvin Harrison trainee In the Arsenal, he sustained a first-over trip with the Casie Coleman-trained Arque Hanover ($7.50) to just stave off Americanprimetime (Jason Bartlett) in 1:50.   The connections of In the Arsenal selected post 2 for next week's final, while the connections of Arque Hanover selected post 1. They will be joined by Artistic Major, A Bettor Hat, Rockin in Heaven, Americanprimetime, National Seelster, and Betting Exchange. Completing the field will be fifth-place finisher Sicily, who was drawn in by lot. Oneisalonelynumber--the other fifth-place finisher--is the lone also-eligible.   Of the 21 New York-sired 3-year-old pacing fillies split into three $12,500 Classic eliminations, Moremercy Bluechip ($7.20, Andy Miller) and Band of Angels ($2.50, Gingras) controlled the terms for at least the closing circuit of their victories, while Divine Caroline ($6.90, David Miller) pushed clear off a pocket trip in the final quarter-mile of her 1:49.4 triumph.   For next week's distaff final, Band of Angels will start from post 3, Divine Caroline from post 2, and Moremercy Bluechip from post 4, as selected by their connections. The trio of elimination winners will be joined by Devil Child, She's Heavenly, Rock Me Gently, Hipnumberone, Mosquito Blue Chip, and Beyonces Rockn. Heart Major and Single Me have been drawn as the two also-eligibles.   Live racing returns to Tioga on Monday (August 17) evening, with the first of 12 races due off at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

It is early in his career, but harness racing trainer Erv Miller sees lots to love so far about trotter Love Matters. Love Matters, a son of Explosive Matter out of the mare Lotsa Love, is undefeated in three starts. On Sunday, the colt is the 8-5 favorite in the third of six divisions of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters at Tioga Downs in New York. Marcus Miller, Erv's son, will drive Love Matters. Tioga Downs' Sunday card features entirely stakes events. In addition to the six Tompkins-Geers divisions for the 2-year-old male trotters there are two divisions each for the 2- and 3-year-old female trotters and one division for 3-year-old male trotters. There also are three eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old female pacers and two elims for the EBC for 3-year-old male pacers. Love Matters heads to the Tompkins-Geers off a 3-3/4 length win over Raisethejollyroger in 1:57.2 in a division of the Arden Downs at The Meadows on July 31. He also has a win in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, from post eight at Harrah's Philadelphia, in 1:59. "Knock on wood, he's been good so far," said Miller, who owns Love Matters with Michael Anderson's Paymaq Racing and Harvey Eisman. "You can't brag too much, you'll get in trouble, but he's really a nice colt. He's done everything we've asked of him." Miller purchased Love Matters for $21,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. His mother is a half-sister to Malabar Man, who was the 1997 Horse of the Year. Mal Burroughs, who drove Malabar Man to victory in the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown, is co-breeder of Love Matters. "I just thought he was a really good-looking horse," Miller said. "He had some length to him; I liked that about him. He's a long, good conformation horse. "He had one break in his first (qualifier) at Pocono, but I don't think he was shod quite right for that. Once we got him shod right, he's been good since then. He's not a hard horse to be around." Love Matters is eligible to a number of open stakes including the International Stallion, Breeders Crown, and Matron. "He's a (Pennsylvania) bred so we don't go too much out of Pennsylvania until the sire stakes are over," Miller said. In addition to Love Matters, Miller sends Southern Palms into the sixth division of the Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old male trotters. Southern Palms is 8-1 on the morning line. Southern Palms, a gelded son of RC Royalty-Pacific Elegance, finished second in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Yonkers Raceway in his debut and then finished third in a division of the Kindergarten Series at the Meadowlands. He went off stride in his most recent start in a division of the NYSS at Batavia Downs. Purchased for $60,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale, Southern Palms is owned by Ronald Michelon and Anthony Lombardi. "Southern Palms is a real nice horse," Miller said. "He's sort of a late-bloomer. He's a little aggressive, stays a little too aggressive all the time. That's why we've been kind of taking our time with him. That's why we had the problem at Batavia. "I really like him. He's a great gaited horse. But he's not mature. His mind is a little short of where it needs to be." ... Trainer Ron Burke has the morning line favorites in the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for 3-year-old trotters. Habitat, who finished seventh in last weekend's Hambletonian, is the 6-5 favorite in the race for male trotters while I'm So Fancy is the 2-1 choice in the division for female trotters on the betting card. A second division for the 3-year-old filly trotters will be raced as a non-wagering event after the first race on the program. * * * Kelvin Harrison's In The Arsenal is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the first of the two Empire Breeders Classic eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers and Tom Fanning's Betting Exchange is the 5-2 choice in the second. The top four finishers from each elimination plus a fifth-place finisher drawn by lot advance to the final. Elimination winners select post positions for the final. The favorites in the elims for 3-year-old female pacers are Julie Miller's Moremercy Bluechip (2-1) and two fillies from the Burke stable, Band Of Angels (7-5) and Sassa Hanover (8-5). The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the final. Elimination winners select post positions for the final. To view Sunday's entire Tioga Downs card, click here. Post time is 1:30 p.m. for the first race. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

Vernon, N.Y. -- Both brushing to the fore and opening up at will on their respective rivals, Barn Doll ($2.70) and Crazy Wow ($2.30, part of entry) proved dominant in a pair of harness racing  Empire Breeders Classic events for New York-sired 3-year-old trotters on Sunday (June 21) afternoon at Vernon Downs.   The $248,275 Classic for fillies saw Zanna Blu (Yannick Gingras) stride to the early lead past her stablemate Allerage Belle (Jim Morrill, Jr.), with Barn Doll tracking that pair comfortably through a :28 initial quarter. Moving off the clubhouse turn, Jeff Gregory brushed to the fore with the 3-year-old Conway Hall filly, clearing Zanna Blu with no trouble before controlling a :56.2 half mile. Barn Doll accelerated on the far turn through a :27.3 third sectional, leaving her eight rivals well in her wake after edging clear at head-stretch. She ultimately trounced the others, winning by 6-1/4 lengths in 1:52.1. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) rallied down the center of the track to take second, while Jewels in Hock (John Cambell) kicked cover off the far turn to finish third.   Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables, LLC.   An overflow field of 11 3-year-old colts and geldings contested a $255,325 Classic event, with Crazy Wow overcoming a second-row start to obliterate his competition--and the previous track record for sophomore geldings. Yannick Gingras floated Crazy Wow second-over to follow entrymate Habitat (Jim Morrill, Jr.) to a :26.4 first quarter, continuing on without cover to clear the lead upon exiting the clubhouse turn. The Crazed gelding posted a :56.4 middle half and then edged clear of his entrymate in upper stretch, amassing a 6-1/2 length margin of victory in 1:51.1. Habitat held second, while Fashion Creditor (David Miller) rallied from a third-over trip to take third while well detached of the Ron Burke trainees.   The Our Horse Cents Stables, the JT 45 group, and the J&T Silva Stables, LLC own Crazy Wow, who knocked 1-2/5 seconds off Gym Tan Laundry's 1:52.3 mark for 3-year-old trotting geldings, taken in 2012.   Fireyourguns breaks his own all-age pacing record   Earlier in the 14-race program, Fireyourguns ($2.90) set blistering fractions and held sway from a late-charging JK Panache (Yannick Gingras) to take the $10,000 Open Pace in a track record 1:47.3. The 6-year-old American Ideal remains undefeated on the year in six starts, taking two-fifths of a second off his former mark with Jim Morrill, Jr. in the bike. Double millionaire Golden Receiver, reunited with 2011 World Driving Championship runner-up Corey Callahan, was all-out to chase the pacesetter, holding third. Trainer Terence McClory co-owns Fireyourguns with Jennifer and Robert Lowe.   NY Sire Stakes glamour boys contest four undercard events   In addition to the pair of Empire Breeders Classic events and Fireyourguns's track record mile, 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings squared off in a quartet of New York Sire Stakes events, offering a combined purse of $122,400. My Spirit Soars ($5.50, Jim Morrill, Jr., 1:49.3), National Seelster ($8.60, Andy Miller, 1:50.2), A Bettor Hat ($7.30, Morrill, 1:51.3), and Artistic Major ($8.50, Scott Zeron, 1:50.3) proved victorious in their respective races.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 26) evening, with post time set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs    

Vernon, N.Y. -- Twenty-five New York-sired 3-year-old trotters have committed to the Empire Breeders Classic events at Vernon Downs on Sunday, June 21, with 14 fillies contesting a pair of eliminations this Sunday, June 14.   Sunday's sixth and ninth races will determine the finalists for the $248,275 Empire Breeders Classic filly division, with seven entrants in each elimination. The fields, with nominated drivers, are as follows (listed in post position order):   Race 6 - First Elimination 1. Jewels in Hock (John Campbell) 2. Spell That (Sam Schillaci) 3. Shaqline (Brett Miller) 4. Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory) 5. Allerage Belle (Yannick Gingras) 6. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) 7. Northern Obsession (Greg Merton)   Race 9 - Second Elimination 2. Katniss (Daniel Dube) 3. Lady Winona (Andy Miller) 4. Counsellor As (Brett Miller) 5. Stirling Debutant (driver TBA) 1. Zanna Blu (Gingras) 1a. Frou Frou (Gingras also named) 6. Concentration (Chris Lems)   The top four fillies from each elimination and one fifth-place finisher will contest the following week's final, with the connections of elimination winners granted their choices of post positions in the final.   Eleven 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings entered for their $255,325 division, and all of them will advance straight to next week's final. They are as follows (in alphabetical order):   Apostles Creed, Crazshana, Crazy Wow, Fashion Creditor, Habitat, Maestro Blue Chip, Mythology Blue Chip, Royal Deceptor, Royal Lad, Wings of Royalty, Workout Wonder.   In addition to the Empire Breeders Classic finals on June 21, 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings will contest a round of the New York Sire Stakes series.   This weekend, Vernon Downs hosts live racing on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time. Saturday's program will feature the annual camel and ostrich races in between pari-mutuel events. The weekend concludes with the aforementioned Sunday card, beginning at 1:15 p.m.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

New York's finest three year old trotters will compete for nearly $500,000 in the harness racing Empire Breeders Classic finals at Vernon Downs on Sunday evening.

Elimination races for the New York sired $500,000e Empire Breeders Classics (EBC) three year old trots are part of a Sunday, June 2 matinee harness racing card at Vernon Downs.

The elimination races for the 2013 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for three year old trotting colts and fillies will be raced at Vernon Downs on Sunday, June 2.

The following information is in response to the many inquiries from those with harness racing horses eligible to the $500,000 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) three year old colt and filly trots.

One was an upset harness racing winner and one had the race won when he entered. That's the story for Bettor B Lucky who lived up to her name when she upset the heavily favored Takter entry of American Jewel and Romantic Moment to win the filly division of the Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs on Sunday (August 12).

The top sophomore harness racing pacers in New York will gather at Tioga Downs on Sunday afternoon for the rich Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) finals.

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