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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Wagering that topped the $4-million mark, two $50,000 divisions of the Graduate Series for 4-year-olds on the pace and a pair of top-notch $30,000 Preferreds - one on the pace and one on the trot - highlighted a huge night of racing at The Meadowlands Saturday. Betting bettered the $4-million plateau for the fourth time this year, as all-source play totaled $4,451,363 (average per race: $342,412), the second highest night of action at The Big M this year, to fall just $100,000 short of what was bet on Jan. 2. Three races saw total pools of over $400,000, with the eighth race the best of the night (and the year), at $498,525. Action for the weekend totaled $7,967,639, by far a 2021 best. On the track, continuing to get his campaign off to an extraordinary start was the Tony Alagna-trained Captain Barbossa, who took the first division of the Graduate in a lifetime-best 1:48.4 with Dexter Dunn in the bike. Poseidon Seelster, in search of his third straight win, was on the front end at three-quarters in 1:21.4, but after making moderate progress around the far turn, Captain Barbossa, who went parked for the final half-mile, found another gear mid-stretch to power his way to a 1¼-length win. Poseidon Seelster was second with Splash Brother third. CAPTAIN BARBOSSA REPLAY   "He got a pretty good spot early," said Dunn, "and once we got past the half, he was ready to go. He's such a nice horse, in the last 100 [yards] he was drawing away from them." Captain Barbossa, whose lone 2020 win came in the Little Brown Jug, upped his seasonal mark to two wins in two starts. He paid $3.40 to win as the 3-5 favorite. Ruthless Hanover, unseen since winning at The Big M on Dec. 5 in a sparkling 1:48.4, came back from an extended layoff to stop the clock in 1:48.4 again in the Graduate's second division. Driver Andy McCarthy was in no hurry early and did not move Ruthless Hanover to the front until after the quarter. The pair sailed down the road from there, using a :26 final panel to keep Warrawee Vital at bay by a safe head. Chief Mate was third. RUTHLESS HANOVER REPLAY   "His qualifiers were terrific," said McCarthy of the Tom Cancelliere trainee, "and you've got to be fully ready to go before facing these horses. He's just waiting for horses to come to him, and once they do, he takes off. We cut a pretty comfortable half [of :55.3]. He definitely had a lot more. He wasn't tired, that's for sure. I'm expecting good things." As the 6-5 public choice, Ruthless Hanover paid $4.60 to win. He's won four of his last five and seven of 13 lifetime. PROLIFIC PREFERREDS: Lindy The Great, who banked over $390,000 a year ago despite winning only once, upped his 2021 record to two wins in as many tries in taking the Preferred Handicap for trotters in 1:52.1. The Andy Miller-driven, Julie Miller-trained 7-year-old got roughed up a bit from post eight before making the lead at the half in :56.3, then kicked home in a final half of :55.3 to hold off the late-surging Mississippi Storm by a nose to up his career earnings to $1,069,199. He paid $3.60 as the 4-5 public choice. One week ago, Stars Align A became the fastest performer in harness racing this year with a clocking of 1:48, and the Jenn Bongiorno trainee proved that was no fluke by beating a field of Preferred pacers that included Ana Afreet N (who finished fifth in the six-horse field) and Sintra (fourth as the 3-5 favorite). Jenn's brother Joe put the 8-year-old Stars Align A on the point at the half in :55.2 before pacing a back half in a dazzling :53.3. He hit the finish in 1:49, two lengths in front of Colossal Stride A. Wheels On Fire was third. Stars Align A returned $7.60 to his backers as the second choice in the wagering. NON-BETTORS: Between races one and two, a pair of New Jersey Breeders Maturity Finals for 4-year-olds on the trot were contested. The Lucas Wallin-trained, Tim Tetrick-driven Ab'sattitudexpress sat a pocket trip behind lone foe Spoiled Princess before trotting past that one in the stretch on the way to three-quarter-length victory in 1:53.3 in the $30,000 event for mares. The daughter of Trixton - Abbie'sgotattitude now has nine wins from just 18 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $291,141. Back Of The Neck, a son of Ready Cash - Big Barb who is trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt, scored in the $40,000 dash for horses and geldings in 1:53.4 after leading at every call in the five-horse field. He's now eight-for-22 for his career and has earnings of $517,357. A LITTLE MORE: Dunn guided three winners on the card, to up his Big M leading dash-win total to 71. ... Jeff Cullipher had a training triple. He currently tops the conditioner standings with 41 victories. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

Harness racing trainer Jim Campbell will send two Breeders Crown champions and one Breeders Crown runner-up into action Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Sandbetweenmytoes, who recorded the biggest upset in Breeders Crown history when he captured last year's final for 3-year-old male pacers at odds of nearly 204-1, is among 16 horses entered in the first round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers. The group was divided into two eight-horse divisions, with Sandbetweenmytoes in the second. The gelding is joined on the card by Campbell-trained stablemates Next Level Stuff, who won last year's Breeders Crown for 3-year-old female trotters, and Crystal Fashion, who was second in the Breeders Crown Open Trot. Both are making their seasonal debuts. Sandbetweenmytoes will start his Graduate division from post eight with driver Scott Zeron and is 6-1 on the morning line. He made his seasonal bow last Saturday at The Meadowlands, finishing eighth against older rivals in the Preferred Handicap. He was the only 4-year-old in the race, which was won by 8-year-old millionaire Sintra in 1:48.4. "It's hard to get a reading on him from that race because they went in (1):48 and he wasn't ready to go in (1):48," said Campbell, who trains Sandbetweenmytoes for breeder-owner Fashion Farms. "He's in a tough spot, like any 4-year-old that comes back. He's in with all other 4-year-olds this week, but the 4-year-old year is the toughest year for these horses that race at a high level because they're racing against seasoned horses. "To me it's the biggest steppingstone, going from 3 to 4. You've got to pick and choose your spots." Sandbetweenmytoes has won eight of 26 career races and $516,532. His top victories also include an elimination of last year's Little Brown Jug. The winner of the Little Brown Jug, Captain Barbossa, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the first Graduate division. Ruthless Hanover is the 3-1 favorite in the second. Next Level Stuff, owned by breeder Runthetable Stables, is making her first start since winning her Breeders Crown at the end of October. She is one of two mares in Saturday's $25,000 conditioned trot at the Big M, where she will leave from post eight with driver Tim Tetrick. She is 9-2 on the morning line. Five-year-old gelding Chin Chin Hall is the 3-1 favorite from post 10. Last season, Next Level Stuff won seven of 13 races, finished second three times, and earned $481,361. She won four of her final five starts of the campaign. "She sure finished on a fantastic note," Campbell said. "And she's coming back good this year. She was really good in both her qualifiers. Last week at The Meadowlands she had a lot of trot. She was locked in, which was a good thing in a qualifier. She finished up strong, that's all we were looking for." Next Level Stuff won her first qualifier in 1:55.4 on April 13 and was third in her second, timed in 1:55 with a :27.2 last quarter. "She's in a tough spot this weekend but she's got a stakes race (first leg of the Miss Versatility) next Saturday and we wanted to race her to get a race into her before that race," Campbell said. "For the most part, we're just trying to keep her against the mares, but it's hard to find races where the trotting mares don't have to race against (males). We're just going to play it by ear and see what races come up for us and pick our spots." Crystal Fashion, a 6-year-old gelding, makes his seasonal debut in Saturday's $30,000 Preferred Handicap Trot. He will start from post six in an eight-horse field and is 8-1 on the morning line with Jordan Stratton in the sulky. For his career, Crystal Fashion has won 19 of 54 races and $2.02 million. He is owned by Fashion Farms. "We've been happy with the way he's come back," Campbell said. "It's tough for the first couple starts because they're going against some horses that maybe have been racing all winter or have four or five starts into them. So, they have a little bit of an advantage. "He's got a long campaign ahead of him, so we'll just take it one race at a time and get him back in shape." Crystal Fashion won one of 13 races last year and earned $295,472. He picked up a check in his final 10 starts. "I was very happy with his year," Campbell said. "He raced strong right to the end. I credit Jordan Stratton with some of that because he raced him very smart. Jordan and the horse click well together." Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at The Meadowlands. The Big M and TrackMaster have teamed to regularly provide free past performances for each race card. Past performances can be found here on The Meadowlands website. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Meadowlands will be the place for horse lovers of both harness racing and Thoroughbred action this weekend as 26 live harness races will be offered along with "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports", the 147th running of The Kentucky Derby, where fans can watch and wager on the "Run for the Roses" in one of the most impressive simulcast facilities anywhere, at The Big M. For those who want to get an early start on Derby Day, gates at The Meadowlands will open at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. The first of 14 races at Churchill Downs has a post time of 10:30 a.m. The Derby, which is race 12 on the card, has a post time of 6:57 p.m. There are many dining options for Derby Day at The Big M, but patrons should be aware that there will be a $10 general admission that day for those who will be attending the races while not taking advantage of any special dining opportunities. For complete information, go to playmeadowlands.com. Given the reduced racetrack capacity, those looking for a convenient way to bet on The Derby - and the Kentucky Oaks - can use the walk-up teller windows that will be available in Lot M off Berry's Creek Road. Both Friday, April 30 (Kentucky Oaks Day) and Saturday, May 1 (Kentucky Derby Day) the windows will be open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Programs will be on sale. "We are delighted to host one of the greatest days in racing," said Meadowlands' Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "With the earlier 6:20 p.m. post this year, we expect an incredibly exciting atmosphere at The Meadowlands for our live racing program on Derby Day." CARRYOVER CRAZY: It's a fact that Meadowlands fans love a carryover, and their next chance to jump into one with a sizeable pool comes this Friday (April 30). Last Saturday (April 24), no one hit the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $9,992. That amount might seem unimpressive, but because that money is not subject to the already low 15 per cent takeout on the wager, betting figures to be fast and furious on Friday. The last time a carryover was offered on a P6 (April 10), a $9,019 carryover led to a total pool of $73,124, and those who correctly selected all six winners collected $877.14. Get all the information you need without spending a dime. Free program pages for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com. PROLIFIC PAYOUTS: Last weekend saw chalk players sporting smiles on their faces, as 15 post-time choices scored over the 26 races (58%), but that didn't mean there weren't big payouts over the two race cards. On Friday, patient punters walked away with big green on the last race, as the 20-cent Pick-6 returned $3,162 and the 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta paid $6,825. Saturday's robust returns came in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 ($16,267) and the Hi-5/Pentafecta ($4,498). Total wagering on Saturday was $3,552,966, the eighth-straight card to see betting of at least $3 million. Thus far in 2021, there have been 17 Saturday programs with 16 of them besting the $3-million mark. POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: Some of the best 4-year-old pacers in training will be on the track at The Big M Saturday as the Graduate Series gets underway with a pair of $50,000 dashes in Leg One of the series. Division One features Poseidon Seelster, a Nik Drennan trainee seeking his third straight win in sub-1:50, and Captain Barbossa, the 2020 Little Brown Jug winner who won last week at The Big M in 1:49.1 after a final quarter in a sensational :25.3. Ruthless Hanover makes his first start in three months off a win at the mile oval in 1:48.4 in Division Two, and will take on Sandbetweenmytoes, who upset Horse of the Year Tall Dark Stranger in the 2020 Breeders Crown at odds of 200-1. SURVIVOR STARTS: The Meadowlands Summer Survival Challenge powered by 123Racing returns on Saturday. The game covers The Big M's Championship Meeting and concludes on Hambletonian Day, Aug. 7. Cash prizes and three spots in the World Harness Handicapping Championship will be up for grabs. For all you need to know to enter, go to https://www.survival-challenge.com/. A HALF-DOZEN CHANCES: The Big M offers players six opportunities every night to make a score, betting on the track's popular wagers that offer a low 15 percent takeout. They are: Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5 Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6 Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 13: 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta $100,000 GUARANTEED: Every night, The Meadowlands guarantees big green on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 - which span races six through nine and 10 through 13 - sports a guaranteed pool of $50,000. GET SOCIAL: You can always check in with the team at The Meadowlands on Twitter. For early changes, racing information and staff selections, go to @themeadowlands or #playbigm. On race nights, stay in touch with the Big M's Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1). CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who like to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on the "handicapping" tab and go to "race reviews". Brower's input is generally available 48 hours before every card. THE SCHEDULE: Live racing continues every Friday and Saturday with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. The 20-cent Pick-5 is offered on the first race. Big M TV's live "Racing from The Meadowlands" pre-game show, which provides news, notes, features, staff selections and a look at that evening's marquee races, gets underway at 5:47 p.m. THE NO. 1 BOOK: The Kentucky Derby and the best harness racing in the world not providing enough action? Head into The Meadowlands' FanDuel Sportsbook, the top facility of its kind in the country, to get all the sports bets you want. On Thursday (April 29), one game to consider in the NBA is the Brooklyn Nets at the Indiana Pacers. If you don't mind laying eight points, you can have the Nets at -112. Don't like point spreads? Bet the Nets to win the game regardless of by how many points, and your odds become -335. If you like prop bets, you can bet on players to record a triple-double. For the Nets, Kyrie Irving is +1700 and Kevin Durant is +2900. For the Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon is +2400. The sportsbook is open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The cash counter is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. From The Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is announcing that a previously unscheduled leg will be added to the Graduate Series for harness racing pacers to be raced on Saturday, May 15 in response to the cancellation of the Confederation Cup for 2021.   Horses that are fully paid up and eligible for the Graduate will be eligible to race in the added leg and it will be considered for points toward the final just as the the scheduled legs.   This added leg will make a total of four $75,000 ($50,000 div) preliminary legs for the pacers and three for the trotters heading into the $250,000e finals.   There will not be a leg added for the trotters as it would conflict with existing stakes.   "We scheduled the Graduate around the Confederation Cup to provide the 4-year-olds the best chance to race in stakes against their own age before moving into the open stakes," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "Without the Confederation Cup, which provided an elimination and final for them, there's a month between stakes. We'll add a Graduate leg same day as Cutler Memorial to give them a race and make a nice card on that night."   Graduate Series Schedule (at The Meadowlands unless otherwise indicated)   PACE: Saturday, May 1 Saturday, May 15 Saturday, June 5 (Woodbine at Mohawk) Saturday, June 26 Final on Saturday, July 10   TROT: Saturday, May 22 Saturday, June 5 (Woodbine at Mohawk) Saturday, June 26 Final on Saturday, July 10   From The Meadowlands    

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

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