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East Rutherford, NJ --- Hurrikane Emperor provided an upset in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers while 1-5 favorite Gimpanzee took care of business in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Hurrikane Emperor, sent off as the fifth choice at odds of 7-1, was second over in fourth at three-quarters before coming three wide off the last turn and storming through the stretch to reign by 1-1/2 lengths over Workin Ona Mystery in 1:47, the fastest mile of the season. Dancin Lou finished third. Favorite Bettor's Wish was eighth. Mark MacDonald drove Hurrikane Emperor to victory for trainer John McDermott and owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, and William Garofalo. "I really thought he was going to be awesome tonight and Mark gave him the most beautiful drive in the world," McDermott said. "It worked out beautifully." Hurrikane Emperor is a homebred son of former McDermott standout Hurrikane Kingcole, who died last October at the age of 10. Hurrikane Emperor won seven of nine races as a 2-year-old and opened his 3-year-old campaign with three consecutive wins, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, before seeing his season derailed by sickness. "We don't know what it was, but everything just kept falling apart," McDermott said. "I shut him down. My boys were so great about it, they told me to give him all the time he needed. We did and it's paid off." Hurrikane Emperor won a conditioned race in March before the sport was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When racing resumed, he returned in the Graduate Series, where he won an opening-round division at Tioga Downs. He finished third in his second-round division last week at The Meadowlands. "This is beyond words," McDermott said. "Through this pandemic it's been such torture, all I did was go deeper in the hole. Thank God for my great partners that have supported me through it because it has not been easy. To come out here, I knew he was awesome this year. Last week we were all slightly disappointed, but the way he got sick last year, I'm trying to not overuse him. "This is just really a blessing. He is so special to us. Owning his daddy, losing his daddy last year, he's family. He's the greatest creature in the world to me. It's funny, as a 2- and 3-year-old he didn't remind me of his father because he was really nondescript and didn't have much of a personality. In the last year, he's grown into such a clown that he's so much like his dad off the track. On the track, he's nice and manageable."   Hurrikane Emperor, out of the mare Hurrikane Schmumma, has won 13 of 22 career races and $534,476. In the Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters, Gimpanzee saw Reign Of Honor lead the field around the first turn but moved to the front at the quarter on his way to a 1:50.4 triumph for driver Brian Sears and trainer Marcus Melander. Reign Of Honor, also trained by Melander, was second and Chin Chin Hall finished third. The winning margin was one length.   Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, is 3-for-3 this year and has won 20 of 26 career races. A Dan Patch Award winner at age 2, the stallion has banked $1.89 million for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. "Reign Of Honor finishing second from a bad post (10) was a little bit shocking that he was so fast behind the gate," Melander said. "Gimpanzee was supposed to win, but finishing first and second, I'm very pleased. "(Gimpanzee) is doing what he's supposed to do. He's going to go back next week for the Hambletonian Maturity, so it was nice to get a nice race on the lead. I was very happy with what I saw. The horse is getting more in form. Even though he's been racing great, I can feel him getting sharper and sharper. It will be very exciting to continue racing with him." The target for next week’s $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds is clearly on Tall Dark Stranger’s back. And his trainer, Nancy Takter, seems to be just fine with that. Tall Dark Stranger took over the lead just after the quarter and rolled down the road from there in the lone Meadowlands Pace Elimination at The Meadowlands Saturday night, establishing himself as the clear-cut one-to-beat in the track’s signature event next week (July 18). “He’s a great colt,” said Takter. “He’s been great since Day One. He performs every time I put him out on the track.” Hard to dispute given his lifetime record of 10 wins from 11 starts. Major Betts left the gate quickly from post one, as did Tall Dark Stranger from the three. Major Betts went the quarter in :26.1 before TDS took over and hit the half in :54.4. Capt Midnight – who finished ninth and failed to qualify for the final – came calling first-over to apply token pressure at three-quarters in 1:22.1. Then Tall Dark Stranger got serious. Off the far turn, driver Yannick Gingras asked the son of Bettor’s Delight-Precocious Beauty for more speed, and he provided just that, extending his advantage to two lengths at the head of the lane. In deep stretch, 23-1 shot Captain Kirk was closing well after going an inside trip to get second while 4-1 second choice Papi Rob Hanover, who again had to come from well off the pace after drawing poorly (post 10), grabbed third. Tall Dark Stranger won it by a half-length after stopping the clock in 1:48.1. After earning half of the $50,000 purse, his lifetime bank account stood at $751,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. He returned $2.80 to his backers as the 2-5 favorite. By winning the elim, TDS earned the right to draw a post position from one through six. He got the five for the big-money final in the draw conducted shortly after the race. “Post five is a great place,” said Takter. “It gives Yannick a lot of options. That’s his job. I was super happy with my horse tonight.” The top eight in official order of finish made the final, with two horses – Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate – earning byes based on seasonal earnings. Mocha On The Rocks finished 10th and last in the elim. MEADOWLANDS PACE FIELD The field for the $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old open pacers, which takes place at The Meadowlands on July 18 and has a post time of 10:05 p.m., with post position, horse (driver, trainer) and morning-line odds: 1. Roll With JR (Corey Callahan, Jeff Cullipher), 20-1 2. Catch The Fire (Mike Wilder, John Ackley), 10-1 3. Captain Barbossa (Brian Sears, Tony Alagna), 10-1 4. Allywag Hanover (Tim Tetrick, Brett Pelling), 5-1 5. Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 7-5 6. Manticore (Jordan Stratton, Bruce Saunders), 15-1 7. Chief Mate (Andy McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 20-1 8. Major Betts (Dexter Dunn, Mark Harder), 10-1 9. Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller, Brett Pelling), 4-1 10. Captain Kirk (Joe Bongiorno, Tony Alagna), 15-1 HUGE HANDLE: With two of the races on the card serving as the catalyst with over $350,000 in action, total wagering was $3,440,248, a 2020 Meadowlands best for a 13-race program. When total handle reached $4,100,386 on June 20, the per race average for the 18-race program was $227,799. On Saturday, the average per race was a season-high $264,634. The night got off to a fast start, as $368,907 in bets were taken on the first race, $98,457 of which was bet in the 20-cent Pick-5 pool, another Big M best. A LITTLE MORE: Gingras led the driver’s colony with four winners on the card. … The 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five carryovers continued to swell. This Friday, when racing resumes at 7:15 p.m., JSH5 players will shoot for big green, as the fifth race carryover stands at $65,089, and the 13th race will start out with $80,368 in the hat. … On Saturday, July 18, Meadowlands Pace Night, post time will be 6:30 p.m. The W.N. Reynolds Memorial divisions for 3-year-old male trotters were won by Jula Trix Treasure and Back Of The Neck, both from the stable of trainer Ake Svanstedt. Jula Trix Treasure, driven by Gingras, won in 1:51.2, with Beads second and EL Ideal third. Back Of The Neck, with Scott Zeron in the sulky, won in 1:52 with Play Trix On Me second and Maesteraemon third. The only Reynolds event for 3-year-old female trotters was won by Takter-trained and Gingras-driven Sorella in 1:50.2, the fastest mile of the season by a 3-year-old trotter. Panem was second followed by returning Dan Patch Award winner Ramona Hill in her 2020 debut. by Ken Weingartner and Dave Little  

This Week: Graduate Series finals, Meadowlands Pace elimination, W.N. Reynolds Memorial and Miss Versatility leg, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. and MGM Springfield Stakes final, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: This week's Grand Circuit racing will open on Friday (July 10) at The Meadowlands with the $40,000 second leg of the Miss Versatility for open trotting mares. Cutler Memorial champion Atlanta leads a field of nine into this race. The Saturday (July 11) card at The Meadowlands features the $250,000 Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old open pacers and trotters; a single $50,000 Meadowlands Pace elimination for 3-year-old pacers; the $61,000 Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters; and two divisions in the $88,800 Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters. Yonkers Raceway will host the $104,250 MGM Springfield Stakes final for 2-year-old pacing colts next Monday (July 13). A pair of elimination races for the stake were held this past Monday. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: In what is now unquestionably harness racing's best rivalry, Atlanta bested Manchego in Saturday night's (July 4) $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free-for-allers at The Meadowlands in round two of the rabid duel between the top two trotters in training. Atlanta bested Manchego in Saturday night's (July 4) $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free-for-allers at The Meadowlands. Lisa photo. 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. 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 one. 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." 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. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 95; 2. Tim Tetrick - 52; 3. Dexter Dunn - 47; 4. Brian Sears - 42; 5. Aaron Merriman - 30. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 160; 2. Marcus Melander - 34; 3t. Nifty Norman - 20; 3t. Norm Parker - 20; 3t. Nancy Takter - 20. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 32.1; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 27.1; 3. J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby - 23.8; 4. Black Horse Racing - 20; 5. L & L Stables - 12. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will once again be taking place next weekend at The Meadowlands. The massive July 18 Meadowlands card will offer the Meadowlands Pace final, the William Haughton Memorial, the Hambletonian Maturity, the Stanley Dancer Trot, the Del Miller Memorial, the Mistletoe Shalee, the Dorothy Haughton Memorial and the third leg of the Miss Versatility. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Brian Brown is happy with what he sees from Workin Ona Mystery so far this harness racing season on the racetrack. He is even more pleased by what is not readily visible. The horse's health. Workin Ona Mystery is among the contenders in Saturday's $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers at The Meadowlands. The event is part of a 13-race card at The Big M that also includes the $250,000 Graduate championship for 4-year-old trotters, a single elimination for the Meadowlands Pace, and Reynolds Memorial divisions for 3-year-old trotters. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). Last year, Workin Ona Mystery started his campaign with three consecutive wins and finished third in the finals of the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace, where he was beaten by a head. But health woes slowed the horse's progress from there and he won only once in his final five starts. This year in three starts, Workin Ona Mystery has a win, a second, and a third. He captured his opening-round race in the Graduate Series by a neck over Century Farroh in 1:50 at Tioga Downs on June 21 and finished second to Bettor's Wish in last week's second round at The Meadowlands. Bettor's Wish, who skipped the first round in favor of the Roll With Joe Stakes, won by two lengths in 1:48.2. "Right now, we're in pretty good shape," Brown said. "He seems pretty healthy, very alert. He seems full of himself. Every day, he's out there playing and jumping around. I think he's coming into the race pretty good, a lot better than a lot of times last year." As far as how Workin Ona Mystery has changed from last year, Brown said, "Ninety percent of it is that he's healthy." "He did pack on some weight," Brown added. "He was not a real big horse last year. He wasn't short, like a small horse, but he wasn't a thick horse either. He has thickened up quite a bit, so he's got more strength to him. I'm hoping that will help him stay healthy." Workin Ona Mystery has won 10 of 20 career races and $469,641. The son of Captaintreacherous-Dragon's Tale is owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Stambaugh Leeman Stable, Alan Keith, and Wingfield Brothers. Brown brought the horse back slowly in the winter and does not plan to test Workin Ona Mystery against older horses on the Grand Circuit until the Dan Patch Stakes at Harrah's Hoosier Park in mid-August. "He's got to race older horses this year, and that can be hard on them, but he's got such a great attitude," Brown said. "He wants to be a winner, he loves passing horses, and he's an easy horse to drive. He's not the easiest horse to be around in the barn. He's ornery. But on the track, training and racing, he's so easy to drive. "After we struggled so much last year it's nice to just see the real horse. And he may not be the best 4-year-old or older horse, but he will hold his own against them as long as he's healthy." Both preliminary rounds of the Graduate Series had three divisions and resulted in six different winners. Joining Workin Ona Mystery as first-round winners were Dancin Lou and Hurrikane Emperor. Joining Bettor's Wish as second-round winners were Bllack Hole and Brassy Hanover. Bettor's Wish was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male pacer of 2019. He finished third in last month's Roll With Joe, which was his seasonal debut. His 1:48.2 score last week in the Graduate was the slowest of the three divisions; Bllack Hole won in 1:48 and Brassy Hanover in 1:48.1. A total of nine horses in last week's three divisions paced their final quarter-mile in less than 26 seconds. "There are so many horses that come home fast out there," Brown said. "Anymore, time really means nothing. It's who you beat and how much money you made, that's all that matters." For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for USTA

Gimpanzee was in the shadow of stablemate Greenshoe much of last season, with the latter being named the sport's best 3-year-old male trotter as well as Trotter of the Year, but is basking in the spotlight now as he aims for a win in Saturday's $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters. The Graduate final for trotters is part of a 13-race card at The Meadowlands that also includes the $250,000 Graduate championship for 4-year-old pacers, a single elimination for the Meadowlands Pace, and Reynolds Memorial divisions for 3-year-old trotters. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). A 4-year-old stallion, Gimpanzee heads to his Graduate test off victories in the two preliminary rounds of the series. He won his first start in gate-to-wire fashion by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51.2 at Tioga Downs. Two weeks later, on June 27, he rallied from sixth at three-quarters to win by a half-length in 1:50.2 at The Meadowlands. That time is tied for fourth fastest of the season by a trotter. For his career, Gimpanzee has won 19 of 25 races and earned $1.77 million. "He trained well all winter and we were very excited to bring him back," trainer Marcus Melander said. "He showed me how he was feeling all winter and he's come back great. I couldn't be more happy with him after two starts. "He was a great horse last year and he's filled out and put on a lot more muscle this year. You can really see that he's a year older. He never threw in a bad race last year, and so far this year, he's been very good." Gimpanzee, owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, was undefeated in nine races at age 2 and received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter. Last year, he won eight of 14 races and earned $1.12 million but saw Dan Patch honors go to now-retired Greenshoe. Gimpanzee's Grand Circuit victories in 2019 included the Breeders Crown (he also won the event in 2018), Yonkers Trot, and Matron Stakes. "At 3, everyone was talking about Greenshoe because he was so extremely fast," Melander said. "Gimpanzee didn't have the speed or acceleration that Greenshoe had, but he still showed a lot of speed. It was just Greenshoe was so much faster than all the other horses. There are not too many like Greenshoe." Not too many like Gimpanzee, either. "He's the nicest horse to train," Melander said. "At home, he's perfect. He does exactly what I want him to do. He's just the horse you're looking for. If everyone was like him it would be very easy." Following the Graduate, Gimpanzee will have one more opportunity to face trotters in his age group when the Hambletonian Maturity is contested July 18 at The Meadowlands. Then, it will be into open stakes action, where the likes of Atlanta, Manchego, and Guardian Angel AS await. "Obviously Atlanta and Manchego and those horses are really, really good," Melander said, "but I have a pretty good horse too." Gimpanzee is one of three Graduate finalists for Melander, joined by mare Grand Swan and gelding Reign Of Honor. Grand Swan, who arrived in Melander's stable in mid-April after two successful seasons in Indiana, won her opening race in the Graduate and finished sixth in her second, which was won by Gimpanzee. "She's nice," Melander said. "I was very happy with her (in her first start) at Tioga, she was very good. I was maybe a little disappointed last time, but it was a fast race. She's never been that fast, really. I think it was good for her to open up a bit and I expect her to be better Saturday. "She really likes the training. When you train her, you can see she works with her whole body. She's a very big horse but she has a good gait and could go around any size track. I think she will get better and better." Reign Of Honor, another newcomer to the Melander stable, started this year with a victory in a conditioned race and finished third in each of his Graduate races. "We had all winter training with him and we were super happy with him," Melander said. "He's a little like Gimpanzee; he's very easy on himself out on the track, not grabby. He's got a lot of speed too. I've been very happy with his performances and I think he will step up with more races and when he gets older. I think he will go with the open horses in the highest division. He feels like that kind of horse." Other finalists in the Graduate include Southwind Avenger, who made his only preliminary-round start a winner on June 27, and Chin Chin Hall, who finished second to Gimpanzee in his two prelims and was fifth in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial last week. For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. by Ken Weingardner, for the USTA

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With a limited number of 12 harness racing horses having dropped into the entry box, there will only be one Meadowlands Pace Elimination necessary on this Saturday (July 11) night's program at the Big M. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Two horses - Chief Mate and Allywag Hanover - took byes and will automatically go in the July 18 big-money final for 3-year-old open pacers. Conditions call for those with the highest earnings this season getting the option to skip the elim. Trainer Mark Harder wanted Major Betts to race, so he's in this Saturday. As a result, Chief Mate and Allywag Hanover, who were next in line in 2020 earnings, took a free pass to the final. The elimination has a field of 10, with the first eight in official order of finish advancing to the $631,650 final. The elimination winner will get a major perk: That horse will draw a post position from one through six. Tall Dark Stranger has drawn post three in the elim. The Nancy Takter trainee's only start this year resulted in a national season's-best equaling mile of 1:47.4. The Brett Pelling-schooled Papi Rob Hanover, second in his 2020 debut a week ago after a tough trip from post 10, once again was luckless at the pill drop, having drawn the 10 hole for a second straight start. The field for Saturday night's Meadowlands Pace Elimination in post position order, with horse (and driver): Major Betts (D. Dunn), Captain Barbossa (A. McCarthy), Tall Dark Stranger (Y. Gingras), Manticore (J. Stratton), Captain Kirk (D. Dunn), Roll With Jr (T. Tetrick), Mocha On The Rocks (S. Zeron), Catch The Fire (W. Wilder), Capt Midnight (A. McCarthy), Papi Rob Hanover (D. Miller). Also on Saturday's program are a pair of $250,000 Graduate Finals. The open events for 4-year-olds - one for pacers and one on the trot - both have full fields of 10. The trot has double Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes champion Gimpanzee as the one with the target on his back. He's been ultra-impressive in winning both of his starts this year - each of which were Graduate preliminaries - by scoring once on the front end and once from well off the pace. The field for the Graduate Final for trotters in post position order, with horse (and driver): Chin Chin Hall (D. Dunn), Kings County (D. Miller), Gimpanzee (B. Sears), Winnerup (T. Smedshammer), Explosivebreakaway (T. Tetrick), Southwind Avenger (A. McCarthy), Goes Down Smooth (No Driver), Pure Chance (No Driver), Grand Swan (T. Tetrick), Reign Of Honor (D. Miller). Bettor's Wish was the top money-earning horse in harness racing a year ago with over $1.6 million in the bank, and despite drawing post 10, will likely be the post-time favorite in the Graduate for pacers off his 1:48.2 off-the-pace win a week ago at the Meadowlands in the series' final leg. The field for the Graduate Final for pacers in post-position order, with horse (and driver): Century Farroh (D. Miller), Shamwow (J. Stratton), Workin Ona Mystery (T. Tetrick), Dancin Lou (B. Sears), Hurrikane Emperor (M. MacDonald), Aflame Hanover (D. Miller), Captain Victorious (Y. Gingras), Brassy Hanover (S. Zeron), Bllack Hole (T. Tetrick), Bettor's Wish (D. Dunn). From the Meadowlands Media Department  

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will host the first harness racing Grand Circuit stakes of the 2020 season when the first trotting leg of the Graduate Series comes to town on Sunday evening.   Thirteen declarations split into two $50,000 divisions carded as races 11 and 12 on the fifteen race extravaganza.   Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) will face five rivals as he makes the Graduate his first start of hie 4-year-old campaign for trainer Marcus Melander and Swedish owners Courant, Inc. and SRF Stable. The son of Chapter Seven closed out his sophomore season powerfully with wins in the Yonkers Trot, NYSS Final and Breeders Crown to vault past $1 million in 2019 earnings.   The second split will feature trotting "Girl Power" as top mares Grand Swan and Pure Chance invade to the Empire State with powerful mid-west resumes.   Melander and Sears team up again to send out Grand Swan, who cashed in for over $400,000 by dominating the Indiana program last year for owners Never Too Late Stable, Grand Swan Racing, Soulsby and Weisenberg.   Pure Chance (Aaron Merriman) parlayed multiple wins in the Ohio Sires Stakes program with a few Grand Circuit scores into nearly a quarter million dollars in earnings for trainer Chris Beaver who shares ownership with Steven Zeehandelar.   Tioga will host the first leg of the Graduate Series for pacers on a card that includes the $175,000e Roll With Joe Open Pace and the opening leg of the 2020 New York Sires Stake for 3-year-old trotting fillies.   The Graduate Series moves to The Meadowlands for leg #2 for the trotters on June 27, leg #2 for pacers on July 4 and both $250,000 finals on July 11 at The Meadowlands on Meadowlands Pace elimination night.   The ive racing schedule at Tioga throughout the month of June is Sunday and Monday with a 4:00PM post time.   Nick Salvi    

Trenton, NJ — A major aspect of Frank Sinatra’s famed legacy is how he nearly died at birth, won a fierce battle for his life and continued to scrap all the way through a legendary singing/acting career. Lather Up seems to be taking the same journey, only with four legs. He was nearly a breech birth before being saved by Kevin Switzer, Brenda Teague and Switzer’s wife, Denise McNitt. Ever since, he has been battling his way to success, much like Ol’ Blue Eyes. “What did he sing, ‘I Did It My Way?’” Lather Up’s co-owner Gary Iles asked. “Maybe Lather is doing the same thing. He’s doing it his way.” And what a way it is. After struggling through another near-death situation as a 2-year-old, Gary and Barbara Iles’ homebred son of stallion I'm Gorgeous out of their homebred mare Pocket Comb has been recording some real chart toppers. This past Saturday, across the bridge from New York, New York in Sinatra’s home state of New Jersey, the 4-year-old stallion won the $250,000 Graduate Series final at The Meadowlands by equaling the all-time mile record of 1:46. Always B Miki set the mark at age 5 at Red Mile three years ago. He also broke the previous 4-year-old pacer mark of 1:46.4, previously shared by Warrawee Needy and Dr J Hanover. It is a heck of a way for Lather Up, trained by Clyde Francis of the George Teague Jr. Stable and driven by Montrell Teague, to head into Saturday’s (July 13) $423,000 William R. Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands. “I just couldn’t believe the fractions when they were coming up,” Iles said. “Especially (1):19.1 coming home. I must say I had so much confidence when I saw him tip out (from second place). He just comes home like a freight train. I thought ‘Well, we’re going to be close or we’re going to win this thing.’ “You never know what’s going to happen, anything can happen. But it was really exciting. It didn’t sink in about the (1):46 until I was talking to someone later and he was telling me what had transpired. You try to hear it over the loudspeaker sometimes, and everybody is screaming down the stretch, it’s pretty hard to understand what they were saying. It was quite a surprise. We’ve been blessed, there’s no doubt about it.” Some might say they were cursed as recently as two years ago. After surviving his harrowing entry into life, Lather Up won three times on the Ohio Sires Stakes circuit and was prepping for the series championship. But a near-fatal reaction to antibiotics sent the horse to the New Bolton Center in another dire circumstance. “That was probably the most heart-pumping situation we were in,” Iles said. “George (Teague) told me not to worry about it, and New Bolton told me if he makes it through the night, he might have a chance. I said, ‘Oh Lord,’ but it worked out, he came out of it, but it ended his 2-year-old career.” Hopefully, it ended his health woes as well. Lather Up returned with a vengeance as a 3-year-old, winning his first three races while setting a track-record of 1:50 in a division of the Ohio Sires Stakes at Miami Valley Raceway. He finished the season with 11 wins in 18 races and $893,512 after conquering some steering issues. His victories included the North America Cup and Ohio Sires Stakes championship. Lather Up and Montrell Teague winning the 2018 Pepsi North America Cup “We basically changed the bit and it made a big difference in him; a very big difference,” Iles said. “That was basically it.” This year, there have been some problems with breaks, but that hasn’t stopped Lather Up from taking five firsts and one third in eight starts. “We’re not sure exactly what’s causing it,” Iles said. “It’s something that just throws him off. Sometimes it’s hard to figure these things out, but that’s been our only problem with him. Every time you do a little bit more, you try to pinpoint it and see exactly what the problem is.” The owner will be hoping for a problem-free trip Saturday in the 12-horse, 1-1/8 mile Haughton. The field includes 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked, the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Lather Up is 3-1. Iles is happy with drawing the five post and has no concern about the race’s added distance. “That’s the least of our worries,” he said. “He was in a 12-horse field for the first leg of the Graduate (at the 1-1/8 mile distance) and he saw the tape and stormed home. He had to come across the track to come home and he handled it very well.” So, what’s the most of his worries? “You just hope nothing goes wrong, and you don’t have to stack him up somewhere and get him caught in a situation where he might make a break,” Iles said. “We don’t think so, but it’s happened in the past and hopefully it won’t happen here. We’re realistic.” He is also optimistic. Iles praised the field of horses, noting that when Lather Up made his record-setting run he “was only two ticks faster than the other group of two or three in there. This is some super racing and there are some super horses. You have to give them their due.” That said, he still feels Lather up has as good a shot as any of them to win the race. “Absolutely,” Iles said. “We’re trying to get the breaks straightened out, it’s frustrating. George has been telling me for two years, this horse can go in (1):46, I’ve never had a horse that’s ever been this fast, but you have to control their head and whatever else is going on with them. “But George would tell you he’s maturing. We’re starting to get a few things worked out, the things you thought were wrong, you’ve already discarded them moving forward so I think we are moving in the right direction. We’re very, very happy. He trained super (on Wednesday). Hopefully this can carry through until Saturday. You just cross your fingers and see what happens.” After all the obstacles Lather Up has faced in his young life, the fact he is headed in any direction at all is impressive. It’s no surprise Iles has a special spot in his heart for the horse. “I don’t know how you could not,” he said. “After everything that has happened to him, after those problems, he’s just been a real delight. The chance of having another horse like this in your lifetime is probably so small.” Sinatra’s parents probably said the same thing once he made it big. Saturday’s 13-race card at The Meadowlands also includes the Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers, the Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial and Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old male and female trotters, Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, Golden Girls for older female pacers, and a leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). For Saturday’s complete entries, click here. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

East Rutherford, NJ -- It appeared Lather Up barely broke a sweat as he paced his way into the harness racing history books with a 1:46 mile on Saturday evening (July 6) at The Meadowlands en route to his 20th career victory in the $250,000 Graduate final for 4-year-old pacers. Only Always B Miki, at age five in 2016 at Red Mile, has ever stopped the clock as swiftly. The mile also broke the previous mark of 1:46.4 for a 4-year-old pacer, held jointly by stallion Warrawee Needy in 2013 at The Meadowlands and gelding Dr J Hanover in 2017 at Mohawk. Steered by Montrell Teague, the son of I'm Gorgeous-Pocket Comb enjoyed the perfect pocket journey behind Indiana champion Always A Prince (Brian Sears). That rival established torrid fractions of :25.3, :52 and 1:19.1 prior to being overhauled by Lather Up. The winner defeated a hard closing This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) by 2-1/4 lengths and Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) to procure his record-setting triumph. After his early efforts, Always A Prince held gamely for fourth. Owned by his breeders, Gary and Barbara Iles, Lather Up is conditioned by Clyde Francis. He entered this contest after a costly break at the half-mile pole in the $500,000 Ben Franklin final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on June 29 caused him to finish ninth. "I knew we were going to go a crazy mile," said Montrell Teague. "When I popped the pocket and my horse just sprinted I knew we were in a very good position. He throws in a couple bad races here and there but we showed how good he really is tonight. "It's monumental; it's amazing. Wiggles (2015 Horse of the Year and Teague standout Wiggle It Jiggleit) never did anything like that, but hats off to how good Lather Up really is." "George (Teague) has always told me this horse is capable of a (1):46 mile," said Gary Iles. "He's been telling me that for the last two years. We have had some bad goes but he has said he really is that good. Of course, now we know he is. I saw those fractions coming up and I saw Montrell and knew where he was sitting and was very confident it was going to be a win." Lather Up has now amassed more than $1.18 million from 33 lifetime trips to the gate and sports a record of 8-5-0-1 for the season. He paid $14 to win as the third choice in the wagering, while This Is The Plan paid $6.40 to place. Backstreet Shadow was $6.60 to show. By Kimberly French, Hoof Beats Editor  

 East Rutherford, NJ -- Atlanta (Yannick Gingras) took the overland route to claim a world record triumph in 1:49.1 in the $250,000 Graduate final for harness racing 4-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands on Saturday (July 6). The daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip exploded in the lane to defeat world champion Six Pack (Ãke Svenstadt) and Indiana champion Custom Cantab (David Miller) at the wire. The time of 1:49.1 was the fastest ever for a trotting mare, besting the 1:49.2 mark put up in 2017 by Hannelore Hanover at Red Mile. It was also the fastest trotting mile ever at The Meadowlands. Leaving from post position four Atlanta was unhurried as Manchego (Dexter Dunn) led the field of 10 through a swift opening quarter-mile of :26.2. That mare was overtaken by a first-over Six Pack shortly after that marker. Six Pack posted fractions of :54.1 and 1:22 as the field turned for home. Driven confidently by Gingras, Atlanta commenced her march on the outside from third place at the top of the stretch to best Six Pack by a neck in a cavalry charge to the finish line. "I can't say I was not worried turning for home," said Gingras. "His horse (Svanstedt with Six Pack) kicked clear and I know he's a tremendous horse too but this mare is just unreal. She just kept on digging. "Honestly I thought I was a winner at the eighth pole but his horse (Svanstedt's) just kept on fighting and at that point I wasn't so sure. When I tipped her off cover I really thought I was going to get him a little easier than I did but at the end of the day it was two great horses going at it and we came out on top." Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor, the 4-year-old mare is trained by Ron Burke. The 2018 Hambletonian winner now has earned more than $1.48 million in her career and is a perfect six-for-six in her 2019 campaign. Atlanta paid $2.60 to win as the 3-10 public choice. Six Pack paid $4.20 to place, while Custom Cantab provided her supporters with $7.40 to show. By Kimberly French, Hoof Beats Editor

Hightstown, NJ — Fiftydallarbill was a Breeders Crown harness racing champion at age 2 in 2017, but with most of his success coming at Indiana’s Hoosier Park, he still entered this year as a bit of an unknown as a Grand Circuit regular. But after equaling the fastest trotting mile of the season in his most recent race, the stallion could continue to enhance his recognition factor with another strong performance in Saturday’s (July 6) $250,000 Frank Zanzuccki Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands Racetrack. “He’s starting to make people pay attention to him a little bit,” owner John Barnard said. “He’s had a couple pretty big races, so people are giving him more respect, more attention, than when he was just in Indiana. When you trot in 1:50.2, you get a little more press.” Fiftydallarbill won his final preliminary round appearance in the Graduate Series on June 21 in 1:50.2 at The Meadowlands, beating Dan Patch Award winner Six Pack by a neck. In two earlier legs, he finished second to Crystal Fashion at Tioga Downs and second to Six Pack at the Big M. Between those starts, Fiftydallbill was third behind Guardian Angel As and Pinkman in the Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah’s Philadelphia. For the season, he has won three races and hit the board a total of seven times in eight starts. “I was really happy with his performance in the last (preliminary) leg of the Graduate,” Barnard said. “He’s shown he can compete with the best in the world. And the 4-year-olds are as tough as open company. I don’t have to go very far looking for competition, it’s right there. They’re not giving away any money. You’ve got to earn it.” Fiftydallarbill, a son of Swan For All out of CR Dixie Chick, has done his share of earning it. For his career, he has won 18 of 42 starts and banked $920,450. Prior to this year, all but one of his career victories came at Hoosier Park, including his Breeders Crown triumph and a 2018 Indiana Sire Stakes championship. Now, he is aiming to extend his success to racetracks across North America. The stallion is eligible to a number of Grand Circuit events including the Hambletonian Maturity, John Cashman Memorial, Spirit of Massachusetts, Maple Leaf Trot, Breeders Crown, and TVG Championship. “He’s been a great horse since he was 2,” Barnard said. “I knew he was something special probably three months before his race at Hoosier where he won the Breeders Crown. I went on the record with some people telling them that I thought he was a special horse and he was going to surprise people. “He gives you a total effort every time he goes on the racetrack. You can’t ask for any more than that. We’re having fun with him. He’s a great horse to be around. He’s got a great attitude and a great personality. He wants to go out every week and race. He loves to race, he loves the competition, and he loves what he does. To me, he’s turned out to be a warhorse. He’s shown a lot of heart.” Fiftydallarbill will start the Graduate final from post three with Corey Callahan in the sulky for trainer Katricia Adams. The 10-horse field also includes returning Trotter of the Year Atlanta, who is undefeated in five races this season, Six Pack, and millionaires Crystal Fashion and Manchego. “I don’t know how good (Fiftydallarbill) is yet,” Barnard said. “I guess we’re going to find out. I just want him to have the opportunity. I just want him to be in a position to win every week and then what happens, happens. That’s what horse racing is all about.” Saturday’s card also includes the $250,000 Dennis Drazin Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers, featuring Ben Franklin Pace winner This Is The Plan along with O’Brien Award winner Jimmy Freight and millionaires Courtly Choice and Lather Up. In addition, there will be two eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace. Racing begins at 6:35 p.m. (EDT). It is Fan Appreciation Night and fireworks will follow the races. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

East Rutherford, NJ - The Graduate Series has reached its conclusion so far as the harness racing preliminary legs with the last of those raced on Friday night at The Meadowlands with Always A Prince and The Downtown Bus the winners.   The series, restricted to 4-year-old pacers and trotters, began in early May and after four legs for both gaits the top 10 in the standings that declare will race in the $250,000e finals on Saturday, July 6.   July 6 also features Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace eliminations as well as being fan appreciation night with a special post time of 6:30 pm.   The conditions for Graduate final require that the horses start in a minimum of 50% (two of four) of the legs to be assured a place on the gate for the final. If fewer than 10 horses that meet that stipulation declare for the final, then those horses with starts in fewer than 50% of the legs would be eligible to draw in.     The final standings are attached here and will be available on the Meadowlands website.    

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Atlanta and Fiftydallarbill were the impressive winners of the fourth and final leg of the Graduate Series for harness racing 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Friday night. The finals for both pacers and trotters take place on July 6 at the Big M. Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner who trotted the fastest mile in Canadian harness racing history a week ago with a 1:50.2 clocking in the Armbro Flight, opted to come from off the pace in her Graduate division. The daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip picked up live cover from Muscle M Up down the backstretch after racing eighth and last to the opening quarter, tipped with an eighth of a mile to go, and stormed past the field to score by 1¼ lengths over a fast-closing Plunge Blue Chip. Crystal Fashion was third. "I kind of wanted to race her off a helmet tonight," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "I wanted to see what she would do. I was confident. There was never an anxious moment." Atlanta, who is trained by Ron Burke, trotted the mile in 1:50.4 and returned $2.40 to her backers as the 1-5 public choice while staying perfect in five 2019 starts. In the other Graduate division, Fiftydallarbill worked out a perfect pocket trip behind even-money favorite Six Pack and charged by his rival nearing the wire to record a neck victory. Phaetosive was third. Driver Corey Callahan likely won the race during the initial quarter, extending Six Pack through an opening split of :27.4. "I was trying to make him work a little bit into that first turn," said Callahan. In mid-stretch, Callahan tipped the son of Swan For All-CR Dixie Chick out of the pocket with an eighth to go and wore down Six Pack to record his 18th lifetime win in 42 starts. "I thought we were going to get by," said Callahan, who was fortunate to pick up this drive. "I really lucked out. He's gone through a couple of drivers but I really didn't have a horse for this class, so it worked out well for me." Fiftydallarbill paid $8.00 as the second choice in the wagering for trainer Katricia Adams. His final clocking of 1:50.2 equaled Greenshoe (May 31) and Atlanta (last Saturday) for the fastest trotting mile of the year in the spot. A LITTLE MORE: Caviart Ally was no doubt glad to not have to face Shartin N (whom she went up against in each of her last three starts) and took it out on her foes in the third leg of the Rainbow Blue Series, stopping the clock in a lifetime-best equaling 1:48.3 while 1¾ lengths in front of Apple Bottom Jeans. The Brett Pelling trainee, who was driven by Andy McCarthy, returned $3.40 as the 3-5 favorite. ... Speaking of favorites, eight visited victory lane during the course of the 13-race card. ... One sharp player wagering into the Twin Spires hub had the only ticket to survive six legs of the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $8,960. ... The fifth race 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five did not result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $115,221. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,337,789. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

With a returning Dan Patch Award winner (Six Pack) and multiple world-record-holder (Plunge Blue Chip) among his 4-year-old trotters, it's no surprise to find harness racing trainer Ake Svanstedt with a horse tied for the points lead after three rounds of the Graduate Series. Except for the surprise. The horse is Muscle M Up. "He's a surprise. He's surprised me," Svanstedt said with a laugh about the 4-year-old stallion, who has a win and a second in his two Graduate starts. "When he came to me, he did not train so good before he qualified. But when he qualified, he was a different horse. He was a real racehorse. He wants to race. He has a good heart, very good heart." Muscle M Up has won three of four races overall this season, earning $54,000. The stallion was purchased by Knutsson Trotting Inc. at last fall's Standardbred Mixed Sale for $65,000 after campaigning for breeder-owner Fashion Farms and trainer Jim Campbell. As a 2-year-old, Muscle M Up won two of three races including a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. He was limited to eight starts, winning two, at age 3. "I talked with Jim Campbell and he said he had a lot of problems when he was young," Svanstedt said. "Maybe he is older now and stronger. I think the time has helped. He feels like a good horse." Muscle M Up, a son of Muscle Hill out of stakes-winner Fashion Athena, won his first Graduate start in a career-best 1:51.2 on May 18 at The Meadowlands. On June 9, he finished second to mare Custom Cantab in a Graduate division at Tioga Downs. Custom Cantab and gelding Crystal Fashion are tied with Muscle M Up with 60 points apiece in the series. On Friday, Muscle M Up competes in the first of two $50,000 final preliminary rounds of the Graduate Series at the Meadowlands. He faces a challenging task, meeting a field that includes newly minted Canadian record holder Atlanta, Crystal Fashion, Custom Cantab, Plunge Blue Chip, and 2017 Dan Patch Award winner Manchego. Atlanta, the 2018 Trotter of the Year, is unbeaten in four races this season and heads to Friday's start off a 1:50.2 win in the Armbro Flight Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The Ron Burke-trained mare is the even-money favorite on the morning line. "This is a tougher race for him, but I think he can do a good race," Svanstedt said about Muscle M Up, who will have Andy Miller in the sulky because Svanstedt will drive mare Plunge Blue Chip. "I think he is going to race good." Plunge Blue Chip finished second to Atlanta in her elimination for the Armbro Flight Stakes but got sick the day after the race and was scratched from the final. She shares the world records for 3-year-old filly trotters on a half-mile track (1:53.1) and mile track (1:49.4). Plunge Blue Chip (Curtis Salonick Photo) "She grew a lot during the winter," Svanstedt said about the mare, who has won 17 of 27 career races and earned $1.01 million. "She is bigger and taller. She is a bigger horse. She did not grow so much between (ages) 2 and 3, but this winter she grew a lot. I'm excited to see what she can do this summer. "There are some tough horses, but she raced (1):49.4 two times last year, so she's not so bad either. She trained a lot of miles but not so fast before she qualified, so every race is going to move her forward." Svanstedt expects the same from Six Pack, improvement in every start. Six Pack, who last season became the fastest 3-year-old trotter in history (1:49.1) on his way to Dan Patch honors, is in the second Graduate division, where he is the 2-1 morning-line favorite over Fiftydallarbill (5-2) and Phaetosive (4-1). Six Pack, a stallion who has won 16 of 25 career starts and $1.38 million, captured his Graduate debut at the Big M before finishing third behind Crystal Fashion and Fiftydallarbill at Tioga. The $250,000 Graduate Series finals for trotters and pacers are July 6 at The Meadowlands. Friday's card at the Big M also includes the third round of the Rainbow Blue Series for female pacers. Caviart Ally is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in a field of six going for a purse of $40,000. Caviart Ally won the May 18 leg of the Rainbow Blue and enters Friday's race off a third-place finish in the Roses Are Red Stakes. Kissin In The Sand, the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old filly pacer, is the 2-1 second choice. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Friday. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

MILTON, June 1, 2019 - The harness racing stars were out Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park for the Somebeachsomewhere and Graduate Series. A group of 16 three-year-old pacers, 13 of them eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup, were split into two $80,000 Somebeachsomewhere divisions. The Graduate Series for four-year-olds saw a pair of $99,000 dashes contested with an overflow field of 12 in the pacing division and a field 10 in the trotting division. Rain came down on the Milton oval in the hours leading up to Saturday's card. The track was listed as 'Good' with a one-second variant. Dr. Ian Moore trainee Century Farroh remained undefeated in 2019 with a 1:52.4 score in the opening Somebeachsomewhere division. The son of Mach Three was sent off as the 1/9 favourite, circled to the top for driver Sylvain Filion from the deuce entering the backstretch and never looked back. Century Farroh posted fractions of :56.4 and 1:25.2 to lead by a length and a half entering the homestretch. Caviart Rockland was the only threat for the heavy-favourite in the lane, as driver Scott Zeron had the Nancy Johansson trainee in a perfect second-over spot. In the stretch, Century Farroh's lead proved to be too much for his rival, as he paced a final-quarter for the victory. Caviart Rockland ran out of real estate and finished a hard-closing second by a neck. Better Up finished third, while Captain Trevor was fourth. Century Farroh now has back-to-back stakes scores after winning an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division last week. The Moore trainee avoided some notable competitors last week and once again landed in the division with less star power. "Any time a horse wins it boosts their confidence and morale pretty good, so it's just going to make him better and stronger," said Moore. "It's kind of neat how it worked out for us that a couple of times we drawn what appeared to be the easier division on paper, we'll let the other guys battle tonight and sooner or later we'll hook up with them. Century Farroh is now four for four with $$112,400 earned this season for owner Ratchford Stable NS. The Mach Three colt was last season's Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots champion and won four of 10 starts, earning $66,733. Dr. Moore did indicate that Century Farroh will now head to next week's Pepsi North America Cup eliminations. Century Farroh Century Farroh Tyga Hanover pulled off a 19-1 upset in the second division by prevailing in a thrilling stretch battle. Also driven by Filion, Tyga Hanover started strong by cutting out a :27.1 opening-quarter. Best In Show circled from second to first and led the field through middle-half fractions of :56.3 and 1:24.2. Stag Party came first-up on the far turn and was pressuring Best In Show turning for home. In the stretch, Stag Party took a short lead while Best In Show continued to battle at the rail. Filion slipped Tyga Hanover to the far outside and the Baillargeon trainee powered up in deep stretch to win by a length. Best In Show came back at the rail for second, while Stag Party tired late to finish third. "We knew he had the speed, but it's different having the speed and racing against tough horses," said Baillargeon, who will now send Tyga Hanover to the Pepsi North America Cup. "If he would've raced good we would go. He raced more than good, so we will definitely go." Owned by Tom & Elizabeth Rankin and Glen Rankin, Tyga Hanover now has three wins in four starts this season after going winless in six starts as a rookie. The Baillargeon Somebeachsomewhere trainee has now earned $68,530 in 10 career starts. A $2 win ticket on Tyga Hanover returned $41.70. Tyga Hanover Tyga Hanover Atlanta made a triumphant return to Mohawk Park by cruising to a 1:53 victory in the Graduate Series. Driver Yannick Gingras moved the Hambletonian champion from third to first in the second-quarter and trotted away to a comfortable two and a half lengths score. Trained by Ron Burke, Atlanta trotted a :27.3 final-quarter to collect her second win in as many starts this season and 14th overall. The award-winning daughter of Chapter Seven has earned $99,500 this season for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor. Atlanta, who has earned $1.2 million during her career, returned $2.50 to win. Atlanta Atlanta Lather Up continued his Mohawk Park dominance by shooting through in the lane to win the Graduate Series pace in 1:50.1. Early action saw Jimmy Freight quickly move from third to the top going into the first turn, racing by a :27.1 opening-quarter beside The Downtown Bus. Jimmy Freight led to the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:23.2. Dorsoduro Hanover was first-up at the leader's wheel on the far turn. Lather Up was placed second-over by driver Jody Jamieson, but was gapping the cover and was a little more than three-lengths from the lead turning for home. In the stretch, Jimmy Freight attempted to seal the deal and held the lead into deep stretch. Lather Up find his best stride with an eighth of a mile to go and stormed towards the lead with follower Thinkbig Dreambig right alongside pacing strong. Lather Up hit the wire first to win by a head over Thinkbig Dreambig. Jimmy Freight held third over a rallying American History. "I was a little worried when they got a half in :56 and we were sitting there fifth and I knew the guys at the front were going to be sprinting the whole way," said trainer Clyde Franics. "I didn't know if he would catch them or not, but he's got a lot of guts. "I think he can go with just about any horse out there if he behaves himself. That's the problem and is the only thing that worries me more than anything" A homebred for Gary & Barbara Iles, Lather Up is now six for six in starts at Mohawk Park. The son of Im Gorgeous improved his record to three wins in four starts this season. Lather Up is now an 18-time winner and his career earnings are approaching $1.2 million. He paid $4.10 to win. Lather Up Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Over the previous 30 years, there were six times when the three richest 3-year-old harness racing pacers from a season returned to race at age 4. Only once since 1995, though, did it occur when all three of those horses were male. But it will happen a second time Saturday (May 4) when Dorsoduro Hanover, Courtly Choice, and Lather Up make their 4-year-old debuts in the opening round of the Graduate Series at The Meadowlands. Dan Patch Award-winner Dorsoduro Hanover, who was the top money-winner among 3-year-old pacers in 2018 with $1.28 million, and North America Cup winner Lather Up, who was third with $893,512, compete in the first of two $50,000 Graduate divisions. Courtly Choice, who won the Meadowlands Pace and banked $910,603, is in the second. Four more of the top-10 male earners are also entered in the Graduate: American History, Thinkbig Dreambig, Always A Prince, and This Is The Plan. In fact, most of the richest 3-year-old male pacers from 2018 are returning, with multiple-stakes-winner Stay Hungry, who is standing stud at Hanover Shoe Farms, the lone retiree from the top half of the list. The only recent occurrence of an all-male top three coming back at age 4 happened in 2015 when McWicked, JK Endofanera, and All Bets Off returned. "It's crazy," said Matt Kakaley, the regular driver of Dorsoduro Hanover. "All the good ones have come back. You don't ever see that. I think there is going to be some good races. They're going to take their shots in the older races too and I know they're going to hold their own. "There was no standout last year. There were three or four of them that were pretty equal, I'd say off the top of my head, mine, Courtly Choice, Lather Up, Jimmy Freight. They were a little better than the other ones, but it's not like the next group was far behind. Those other ones can get a little bit better over the winter, too. Hopefully there will be a lot of good races and give everyone some excitement." Dorsoduro Hanover won 10 of 22 races last year including the Breeders Crown and Adios. Kakaley said he sees little different in this year's version of the Ron Burke-trained gelding. "He might have grown a little bit, but he's always been a big, good-looking horse," Kakaley said. "I'm expecting him to do good. I'm expecting him to race good in the 4-year-old races and have a good year. We'll have to wait and see if he can step up with the likes of McWicked (the 8-year-old stallion who is the returning Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada). McWicked is a special horse." Courtly Choice, who won 10 of 16 races last season and also counted the Little Brown Jug among his triumphs, had surgery during the off-season to remove an undescended testicle. He heads to the Graduate off a qualifier win in 1:50.4 with a final half-mile of :52.4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "We're very happy with the way he's trained back and the way he's qualified," said trainer Blake MacIntosh, who co-owns the horse. "(The surgery) seems to have helped his gait and he seems a lot more comfortable on the turns. We're looking forward to a great season and hopefully things go our way and we get our breaks and that's all we can ask for." Given the depth of the competition, MacIntosh knows it will not be easy. "I think the 4-year-old division is probably tougher than the older horses, other than McWicked, when you look at the bunch," MacIntosh said. "It's going to be a battle all year. I think the fans are going to have a lot of great horses to watch as 4-year-olds." Lather Up, trained by Clyde Francis, won 11 of 18 races last season. "He's sound and he seems like he came back to his right self," said Montrell Teague, who drives the stallion. "We're hoping for good things. It's going to be a fun year. (All the returning 4-year-olds) are good for the sport. There is a lot of money going to the breeding shed, but the sport needs the better ones to come back and put on a show. You can still make good money doing that." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at the Meadowlands. The card also includes the $175,200 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters. For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner  

East Rutherford, NJ --- Ariana G bested the boys with a world-record performance to win Saturday's $250,000 Graduate Series championship for 4-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands, defeating Moonshiner Hanover by 3-3/4 lengths in 1:50.2. Sortie finished third. The time was the fastest ever by a 4-year-old female trotter on a mile track. The previous record of 1:51 was shared by three mares: Mistery Woman in 2014, Hannelore Hanover in 2016, and Emoticon Hanover in 2017. Ariana G, a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3, also surpassed $2 million in career purses with the triumph. Owned by breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, the mare has won 23 of 30 lifetime races and earned $2.01 million. It was her second victory in four starts this year and came in her second race since returning from illness in June. "She was awesome tonight," winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. "I'm so glad she's where she belongs. She went up to Canada (in June) and her blood work was wrong and she scoped bad and I had to give her a little time to rebound from that. She had a good winter, so I knew she was in top-level form, it's just those things happen when they get sick." Ariana G, the only mare in the race and 3-2 favorite in the field of 10, started from post eight and was moved to the lead by driver Yannick Gingras prior to reaching the opening quarter-mile in :27.3. International Moni came to challenge Ariana G on the backstretch and got a quarter-length in front as they hit the half in :55.2, but he was unable to clear completely and continued to race on the outside entering the final turn. From there, Ariana G accelerated and pulled away from the field. She trotted the last quarter-mile in :27, which was the best of the group. "I wanted to keep (International Moni) out there," Gingras said. "He didn't look like he had as much trot as I did. My mare felt so strong. I was going to take matters into my own hands and she showed it. "I told Jimmy it was a taxing half (mile) and I wasn't a hundred percent sure I was going to win, but in the last turn she started to swell up and felt so, so strong. I knew something would have to happen for her to get beat tonight." Ariana G, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All, paid $5.00 to win.  

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