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Jeff Gillis has no complaints about Will Take Charge’s 2018 harness racing season, a campaign that saw the gelding finish fifth on the money list for older trotters, but he also believes it could have been better. Will Take Charge, who makes his 2019 debut in Saturday’s open handicap at Yonkers Raceway, won nine of 26 races last year and earned $469,535. His victories included the Maxie Lee Memorial in a world-record-equaling performance and the Crawford Farms Open Trot, but he won only once in his final 10 starts and finished off the board in five of six Grand Circuit finals during that span. “It’s hard to complain about the overall money he made,” said Gillis, who trains Will Take Charge and joined Mac Nichol in ownership of the horse last fall. “I did feel that he went off form at an inopportune time. Maybe it was in part due to less than ideal management. He raced through last winter and it maybe caught up with him late in the year. “If he could have maintained his form from August through the end of the year, I think he would have made substantially more money. We’ve rested him up and we’re looking to build on that this year.” Will Take Charge will enter Saturday’s race off a four-month respite. Prior to the layoff, the gelding had made at least one start in a month from May 2017 through November 2018. Nichol purchased the horse in November 2017. He was previously trained by John Bax and was runner-up in the Ontario Sire Stakes championships at ages 2 and 3. For his career, Will Take Charge has won 21 of 76 races and earned $900,436. Will Take Charge will start from post six in a field of eight Saturday with Tim Tetrick in the sulky. The gelding prepped for his seasonal bow with two qualifiers, winning in 1:58 on March 7 at Woodbine Mohawk Park and winning in 1:57.1 on March 15 at Yonkers. “He seems to have come back quite well,” Gillis said. “He put on a little weight over the winter. He wintered at Kentuckiana Farms in Kentucky and they did a great job with him. He’s looking the part. I was happy with his two qualifiers, they were kind of right on target. I’m excited to have him back in to go.” Gillis said Will Take Charge’s first stakes test will be the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial on May 4 at the Meadowlands. “I feel like we’ll be right up there near the top; at least that’s the plan,” Gillis said about the upcoming campaign in the division. “He’s as handy as a shirt pocket. He can leave with the car, you can take him off, he comes off cover well, he won the Maxie Lee first up. He’s just a very, very versatile horse. And he likes to race. He’s got a good attitude; he enjoys life. There is nothing not to like about him.” Saturday’s card at Yonkers also includes six second-round divisions of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Winners from the first round were Anythingforlove A, Ideal Jimmy, More The Better N, Rodeo Rock, The Wall, and Western Fame. The Levy and companion Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, which is Friday for older female pacers, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 20. For Saturday’s complete entries, click here. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT).   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Nocturnal Bluechip came to Jeff Gillis’ stable in Canada late last summer, the harness racing trainer admittingly didn’t know what to expect. Then a 5-year-old gelding, Nocturnal Bluechip was a stakes winner at 2 and 3 and established himself as a consistent type in the conditioned and non-winners ranks at Yonkers and Pocono Downs in his 4- and 5-year old seasons. Immediately before heading north, the Bettor’s Delight son even made a start in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono, finish fifth in a 1:49.2 mile. “The owner called me and asked me to try him up in Canada, and so I did not really knowing what to expect,” Gillis said. “He’s not a horse that I had followed. I haven’t had a ton of success with Bettor’s Delight, although many others have. Being that he’s an older sire, I expected Nocturnal Bluechip to be a little lazy, which he can be at times. I watched a bunch of replays on him and just kind of played it by ear.” Nocturnal Bluechip made his first start for Gillis at the non-winners of $30,000 last five level August 25 and won his first race for his new trainer in his fourth start after dropping to the non-winners of $11,000 last five level September 15. Then, the gelding got on a roll. Nocturnal Bluechip made it four straight victories over the following month, including two at the Preferred level, and took a mark of 1:48.2 in the process. He’s raced almost exclusively at the Preferred level since, racking up another two victories and six placings. The streak boosted the gelding’s earnings to $398,493 for owner NLG Racing Stable. “I just went into it with an open mind, clean slate, let him dictate and tell us what he is. Not really many expectations good or bad,” Gillis said. “He’s certainly has surprised me. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure about him, but he found his form toward the late summer-early fall and he’s been pretty consistent since. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” the trainer continued. “He’s a horse that’s got good tactical speed, he’s been pretty consistent, he’s got a turn of foot, so there’s a lot to like about him.” Nocturnal Bluechip’s impressive run over the winter gave Gillis the confidence to nominate to the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. It’s the first time Gillis will compete in the six-week event, which begins March 16. The trainer will also bring Obvious Bluechip to the Matchmaker Series. “I’m excited to have a couple that I think can be factors in the series,” Gillis said. “It’s kind of a quiet time of year for stakes and this gets the ball rolling for the year, so I’m very much looking forward to it.” Nocturnal Bluechip will prepare for the series with a start in Saturday night’s (March 9) $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. Unlike many of his Levy Series rivals, Nocturnal Bluechip raced through the winter. However, with only two starts this year, Gillis thinks the gelding will still be fresh heading into the grueling series. “I guess it’s the old adage, rest versus rust,” he said. “Early in the series, it would favor a horse that’s been racing and then as the series gets on, maybe it favors a fresher horse being that it is six straight weeks if you make the final. But I’m going to say that Nocturnal Bluechip fits somewhere in between because he’s raced through the winter, but he’s raced fairly infrequently. It will be four weeks off heading into this week and he’d only raced twice in the previous seven, so he’s fresh at the same time I feel.” Although Gillis is unsure how much of a role the seven-eighths mile track at Mohawk has played in Nocturnal Bluechip’s recent success, the trainer doesn’t think the switch back to the half-mile oval at Yonkers will be an issue. The gelding is 1-for-16 on the half with another five placings. “I haven’t ever raced him on a half, but I don’t expect it to be an issue at all,” Gillis said. “I guess we’ll wait and see. I’ve reviewed his lines and seen that he’s raced there before. We’ll wait and see.” Nocturnal Bluechip drew post two for his first local Open try and will employ the driving services of Dan Dube; the pair are 15-1 on the morning line. Bit Of A Legend drew post six off his first win of the year in the Open February 23 while the runner up from that race and a winner of the Open February 16, Don Domingo, drew post seven.  Preferred runner up last out Killer Martini drew favorably in post four while three-time Preferred winner this season Imarocknrollegend will start from post eight. Australian import Sams A Champ debuted a winner at Freehold last out for Tahnee Camilleri and was assigned post one. Bettor Memories and Shneonucrzydiamnd complete the lineup. “I don’t know the field very well. I just know that this horse is quick off the wings, so I feel like he’ll get himself spotted most of the time. I find that those horses tend to get you pieces a lot on a small track, even if they don’t win,” Gillis said. “This is really a dress rehearsal for the series, so I’m not going in with any expectations. I’m just going to experiment and see how it goes.” The first leg of the Bluechip Matchmaker Series is Friday, March 15 while the George Morton Levy Series kicks off Saturday, March 16.  Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

LEXINGTON, KY--Trainer Brian Brown, along with Jeff Gillis, bagged two victories each in the five divisions of the $367,000 Western Ideal Bluegrass Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace, sponsored by Hanover Shoe Farms and Brittany Farms, on Saturday, Sept. 29 at The Red Mile. Brown's Captaintreacherous colt Workin Ona Mystery remained unbeaten in his fourth pari-mutual outing with a 1:50.3 performance in the fourth Bluegrass division. Blood Money made the lead early with Tim Tetrick putting Workin Ona Mystery into the pocket. Passing the quarter in :27.3, Workin Ona Mystery promptly popped pocket and circled to the top before hitting the half in :56.1. Fabrice Hanover attempted a pursuit first over heading into the final turn but continued to chase as Workin Ona Mystery paced to three-quarters in 1:24.2. Blood Money tipped out of the pocket into the stretch and chased the leader alongside Artie's Ideal firing through the pylons. Workin Ona Mystery accelerated into the final sixteenth and widened his margin heading to the wire as Artie's Ideal edged Blood Money for second. Compiling $69,400 in earnings for owners James Stambaugh, Alan Keith, Milton Leeman and Wingfield Brothers LLC, Workin Ona Mystery returned $3.00 to win. Air Force Hanover took his competition wire to wire and gave Brown his second Bluegrass winner on the night in the third division of the Bluegrass timed in 1:51. Driver David Miller sent the Brian Brown-trained son of Somebeachsomewhere to the front with Waterway securing the pocket and No Mas Amor positioned third. Past the quarter in :27.4, Air Force Hanover maintained a hot clip to the half as Mangogh, from fourth, moved first over through the :55.4 clocking. Mangogh gained ground first over but remained two lengths off Air Force Hanover by three-quarters in 1:24.1. Air Force Hanover continued on the lead through the stretch as Mangogh forced the pace but finished second ahead of Waterway third and Can't Beach That sweeping into fourth. Winning his third race in nine starts, Air Force Hanover, owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo and William Donovan, pushed his career bankroll to $103,888. He paid $4.20 to win. Lyons Night Hawk, one of two winners for trainer Jeff Gillis, advanced first over to the top rounding the final turn and maintained control from rivals barreling into competition late to take the first division of the Bluegrass in 1:50.2. Dancin Lou dashed for the lead with Buddy Hill away second and Rock Candy, the 3-5 favorite, third. Rock Candy edged off the rail and brushed for the lead past the :27.3 opening quarter with Captain Trevor following suit and eventually clearing command to the half. Positioned fifth, Lyons Night Hawk moved first over through a :55 half with Sugar Factory on his back. The son of Sweet Lou marched towards pacesetter Captain Trevor and slid by to the top past the 1:23.4 third-quarter. Rock Candy tipped out of the pocket and lunged through a seam towards the pylons to finish a neck back in second while Sugar Factory, kicking three wide into the stretch, settled for third. Captain Trevor held fourth. Owned by Geoffrey Lyons Mound, Lyons Night Hawk won his second race from nine starts, earning $136,071. Tim Tetrick drove the $8.00 winner. Gillis and Tetrick took the following division as Lyons Johnnyjnr pushed through the inside to pull a 21-1 upset in 1:52.1. Captain Victorious took command with Lyons Johnnyjnr away second and Loutenant sitting third. Proof, the 1-9 favorite, paced sixth past the :28 opening quarter before sliding off the cones in search for cover. American Mercury, positioned fifth, flushed first over and carried the two-wide flow towards the pacesetter through a :57.4 half. American Mercury dug into Captain Victorious rounding the final turn. Proof, second over, gapped cover slightly while Lyons Johnnyjnr paced tightly in the pocket by three-quarters in 1:25.3. Captain Victorious remained on the front through the stretch but Lyons Johnnyjnr, with a slight opening, crept to the lead at the pylons in the final strides to win. Captain Victorious held second from Loutenant, rallying from off the rail, in third and Proof, with a belated stretch bid, settling for fourth. Returning $45.00 to win, Lyons Johnnyjnr, a colt by Well Said, won his second race in nine starts, collecting $108,718 for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound. Surging off cover, Covered Bridge collared pacesetter and 4-5 favorite Love Me Some Lou in the final sixteenth to take the last division of the Bluegrass colt pace in 1:52. Odds On Boca Raton led early with Bicorne Hanover circling to the front and Love Me Some Lou moving first over from third. Love Me Some Lou brushed to the lead after a :28.1 opening quarter and took the field to the half in :56.2 while Cub Fan began a first-over bid with Covered Bridge on cover. Cub Fan drew closer to Love Me Some Lou moving around the final turn as Covered Bridge mounted his move to three-quarters. By that station in 1:25.3, Cub Fan quickly gave way into the stretch and driver David Miller unleashed Covered Bridge towards the center of the track, swooping by Love Me Some Lou to win. Black Smile, from last, closed for third while Bicorne Hanover took fourth. Owned by David Smith and James Giannuzzi, Covered Bridge, an American Ideal gelding, won his third race from 11 starts, earning $116,259. Jessica Okusko conditions the $9.60 winner. Grand Circuit action continues at The Red Mile on Sunday, Sept. 29 with the first matinee card of the meeting. The program features sophomores in stakes action as the filly trotters compete in three divisions of the $206,000 Cantab Hall Bluegrass Stakes (sponsored by Hanover Shoe Farms & Brittany Farms), the colt trotters in two splits of the $242,000 Explosive Matter Bluegrass Stakes (sponsored by the Explosive Matter Syndicate & Hanover Shoe Farms) and the colt pacers contest in two divisions of the $183,000 Somebeachsomewhere Bluegrass Stakes (sponsored by the Somebeachsomewhere Syndicate & Hanover Shoe Farms). First-race post Sunday is slated for 1:00 p.m. (EDT). By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

Dayton, OH --- Will Take Charge and McWicked have been installed as the morning line favorites in a pair of $150,000 Dayton Derbies which will be contested this Friday (Sept. 28) at Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. The favored 5-year-old son of Kadabra comes into the Derby off a win in the Open Handicap Trot at Yonkers Raceway two weeks ago. The Jeff Gillis-trainee also won the $186,000 Crawford Farms Trot at Tioga and was runner-up to Marion Marauder in the $286,650 Cashman Memorial at The Meadowlands last month.Will Take Charge, with Tim Tetrick listed to drive, got the slight nod over Homicide Hunter (Scott Zeron), Ariana G (Jimmy Takter) and JL Cruze (Brett Miller) in the talented Trotting Derby field. The nine trotters entered in the race have combined for 214 wins and $8,866,470 in lifetime earnings. World and Indiana champion Homicide Hunter has won seven of 11 seasonal starts, including the $100,000 final of the Northeast Open Series at Pocono Downs. Dual Dan Patch Award-winner Ariana G, the lone mare in the race, is the richest participant with a $2,292,709 bankroll. She captured the $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity earlier this year. JL Cruze is the oldest entrant at age 7 and owns the only sub-1:50 speed badge. He has made just four starts since returning to the races recently and was a fast-closing second in the $200,000 Caesars Trot at Hoosier Park last Friday. Others in the field are Guardian Angel AS (6-1), Moonshiner Hanover (8-1), I Know My Chip (10-1), Bridge To Jesse’s (12-1) and Warrawee Roo (15-1). Despite drawing the post position eight, McWicked will be the likely betting favorite (2-1 morning line) in the Pacing Derby. The 7-year-old son of McArdle will be seeking his 30th career victory while trying to increase his $3,267,876 bankroll. He won the prestigious $462,000 Canadian Pacing Derby earlier this month for trainer Casie Coleman. Other contenders—all stakes winners in their own right--are Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick, 3-1), Western Fame (Andrew McCarthy, 4-1), Split The House (Scott Zeron, 5-1), Rockin Ron (Chris Page, 6-1), Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton, 8-1), Beckhams Z Tam (Ricky Macomber Jr., 10-1), All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley, 12-1) and Missile J (Kayne Kauffman, 15-1). The Pacing Derby field has produced 215 triumphs and earned $13,997,574 in purses. The $150,000 Dayton Trotting Derby will go as the 10th race on a 14-race program, with an estimated post time of 9:26 p.m. The companion $150,000 Dayton Pacing Derby is slated two races later with a 10:13 p.m. scheduled start. From Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, September 15, 2018-Trainer Jeff Gillis made no secret about why he hijacked Will Take Charge from the stakes schedule and into Yonkers Raceway for Saturday night's (Sept. 15th) co-featured $44,000 Open Handicap Trot. "There's no reason other than we want an invitation to the International Trot," Gills said. "He didn't race well in his last start (final of the Maple Leaf Trot) for whatever reason. We wanted to prove he belongs, and it would be an honor for me." The issue of whether or not Will Take Charge gets to represent the Great White North (either by himself or with some company) in the million-dollar, Saturday, Oct. 13th, event wasn't going to be settled this night, though the road test supplied by odds-on Will Take Charge (Mark MacDonald, $3.20) had to impress. Two-moving to the lead from post position No. 7 (everyone in a notch after a pole defection), Will Take Charge was third early behind Gruden (Brian Sears) and Fashion Creditor (Brent Holland). He then made the lead between a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and :55.3 intermission. Not surprisingly, the teletimer gapped out the field as Will Take Charge and Gruden offered an unscheduled match race. After a 1:24.3 three-quarters, Will Take Charge owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. Gruden was resurgent, however, taking another 'run' at the leader before missing a nose in 1:53.2. Fashion Creditor held off Lord Cromwell (Jordan Stratton) for third, with Barry Black (Austin Siegelman) getting the final pay envelope. The mile matched the local aged gelding standard set by former all-age track record-holder Quick Deal in 2013, while also equaling the second-fastest Westchester trot mile, a tick behind the 1:53.1 of filly Plunge Blue Chip two weeks ago. "Jeff told me not to lose, so I guess I'm good with orders," MacDonald said after his date hit town for the first time since late April. "There aren't too many trotters who can get down to the half that fast here and hang on, so I was impressed.." For Will Take Charge, a 5-year-old Kadabra gelding owned by Mac Nichol, it was his ninth win in 19 seasonal starts (earnings at $409,965). The exacta paid $9.40, the triple (three wagering choices in order) returned $23.80 and the superfecta paid $111.50. Saturday night's co-featured $44,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by a pole-assigned, pocketed Chantepleure (Stratton, $23.20) in 1:51.3. By Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Bringing Will Take Charge to race in Saturday night’s Open Handicap Trot at Yonkers Raceway isn’t an expedient move for Jeff Gillis. He’s passing up a chance to race in the $200,000 Caesar’s Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park next week and he was certain to be assigned post eight in the weekly $44,000 trotting feature. However, Gillis made the choice to race the 5-year-old gelding at the Hilltop with good reason: the International Trot is just a month away (October 13), and Gillis is determined to represent Canada in the $1 million stakes. “That’s the whole reason for being down here. He’s eligible to a race at Hoosier next Friday that I may bypass. I’m not sure about racing him off six days with all the travel,” Gillis said. “It wasn’t a convenient time to come down from a scheduling perspective, but I really want to be in that race and I’m going to do anything I can to get him noticed.” Although Will Take Charge is in the midst of a career year, winning the Maxie Lee Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia in May, taking the Crawford Farms Trot at Tioga in a romp in July, and finishing second in both the Cutler Memorial and Cashman to the tune of $387,965 this season, Gillis doesn’t think the son of Kadabra has made enough of an impression to earn one of the 10 invitations to Yonkers’ signature race for older trotters. “The Maxie Lee, he was spectacular that day. To that point, he’d won off of cover and he’d won on the front, but we’d never grinded out first-over. That was the hand we were dealt that day and I was really impressed with him. I would argue that’s been his best race for me,” Gillis said. “The race at Tioga, I don’t think the field was quite as deep and he was never really threatened. Two very different races.” Will Take Charge finished eighth beaten 6 ½ lengths behind likely United States representative Crazy Wow and probable Canadian representative Marion Marauder in the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk September 1. Gillis doesn’t think Will Take Charge was at his best that night and believes his trotter will deliver a standout performance worthy of garnering an invitation Saturday night. “I gave him four days off after the Maple Leaf Trot and then just jogged him up until Wednesday and trained him. He’s ready to go tomorrow,” Gillis said. “We haven’t yet received an invite and I certainly want it. I’m hoping for him to race well tomorrow and in turn receive that invite. “I feel like after the Maple Leaf Trot, I’m not sure if they’ll invite more than one Canadian horse, but I was concerned that Marion Marauder had the upper hand on us and the only thing I could do to turn the tables is bring him down here and hopefully showcase him a little bit,” Gillis said. Will Take Charge will start from post eight in Saturday’s sixth race. The 1-mile trot attracted last week’s dominant Preferred winner Gruden and July 7 Open winner Weslynn Dancer. Madhatter Bluechip, New Heaven, Barry Black, Fashion Creditor, and Lord Cromwell comprise the lineup. Despite his outside assignment, Will Take Charge is the 5-2 morning line favorite with Mark MacDonald down to drive.  “I’m going to leave it up to Mark MacDonald. I don’t want him to get away eighth. I expect him to go forward in some manner,” Gillis said. “I think it will depend on how many leavers there are inside of him. I’m confident if he has to go to the lead, he’ll be good and I’m confident that he can do it from off the pace as well.” Will Take Charge won a local $30,000 Preferred Handicap in April, racing from off the pace to score a 1:56.1 win. Gillis believes Will Take Charge excels on small tracks and relishes the tight turns of the half-mile oval. “He trots the turns as fast as any horse I’ve ever had, as fast as the straightaways really,” Gillis said. “The smaller tracks are really his bread and butter; in fact, I’ve developed the opinion that he hasn’t raced quite as well at home as he has on the road and most of his starts on the road have been on the smaller tracks. “I really think, with him trotting the turns so good and I don’t know that this horse particularly tires,” Gillis continued. “He’s been a mile-and-an-eighth a couple of times and been second beat a neck both times. I think on a half, the advantage kind of shifts to him. I’d really like the opportunity to find out for sure.” Saturday’s 12-race program co-features a $44,000 Open Handicap Pace in race eight and a $35,000 4-year-old Open Handicap Pace in race nine. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY  

MILTON, ON - September 7, 2018 - Trainer Jeff Gillis will send his homebred pupil The Downtown Bus into his first harness racing Grand Circuit event when he competes in the $83,342 first division of the Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old pacers on Saturday (September 8) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Gillis, who bred and shares ownership of The Downtown Bus with Ellen Ott, has always felt that his colt by Mach Three has the talent to be a star despite a less-than-ideal start to his career. "To be honest, I really expected him to have a much more impressive two-year-old year," Gillis said. "His first lifetime start, he paced [1]:53 [and] came home in :27. There's a whole list of things that went wrong--he jumped on his quarter in the paddock and dealt with a sore hoof, he tied up once. It just wasn't meant to be; everything that could go wrong did go wrong. " The Downtown Bus was winless in seven starts as a rookie with his best placings for the year being two runner-up finishes. His season concluded with a vet scratch out of a Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division at Western Fair in October to finish with just over $20,000 in earnings. He was also gelded. "That scratch at London] was his foot," Gillis said. "I thought I could get him ready and he wasn't responding quite the way I wanted. He could've raced but I thought enough of him that I just didn't want [to race him]. I've always been afraid of favouring one issue and cracking the opposite knee or something because he's favouring a foot. It just wasn't coming together the way I wanted so I just shut him down." Gillis brought The Downtown Bus back to the track with a 1:57.2 qualifier at Woodbine on February 22. He made his sophomore debut on March 1 and broke his maiden with a 1:54 half-length victory. "The big reason I wanted to bring him back early was--number one, I didn't want to waste his non-winners of one and non-winners of two wins and money in sires stakes because you never get that back," Gillis said. "And number two, I wanted to establish him a little bit. I didn't have much luck getting a driver to stick with him at two and I wanted him to establish himself as a quality horse. Jody Jamieson picked up the drive on The Downtown Bus through the early part of his three-year-old season. Gillis continued to race him in overnights until the Ontario Sires Stakes season commenced and has kept him off the Grand Circuit trail to this point despite having been eligible to the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace. "I knew we were only scratching the surface of his ability [at two]," Gillis said. "I staked him not quite as aggressively this year but last year he was eligible to everything [including] the Metro. I really, really thought a lot of him. I'll be honest, I'm not going to tell you I never had my doubts. There were times last year I'd ask myself 'Could I possibly be wrong?' I believed he was but I'm not going to say there weren't moments of doubt. "There's a difference between being a Gold colt and Grand Circuit quality," Gillis also said. "When you typically have to bypass a Gold or something to follow those types of races, it makes it hard for an Ontario colt unless you're elite. But I'm happy with him finding his form when he did. There's still plenty of money left and he's only three. He's got a lot ahead of him." Doug McNair then sat behind The Downtown Bus when he collected his first win in the Gold Series with a 1:51.1 victory at Rideau Carlton the same night Jimmy Freight, sires-stakes star turned Grand Circuit competitor, paced a track-record 1:50.3. "The Gold he won at [Rideau Carlton] I thought was kind of his coming out party," Gillis said. "Dougie [McNair] made a comment to me that night that he would've been kind of curious to see how he would've fared against Jimmy Freight. Now Jimmy Freight has gone on to play at the Grand Circuit level and I don't think we're there yet but we certainly hope to be at some point. I'm very happy with where he's at right now. The Downtown Bus competed against Jimmy Freight in the next round of Gold action, finishing third by eight lengths as Jimmy Freight won in 1:48.3. But The Downtown Bus enters the Simcoe with seven wins on his record from 18 starts this season and $176,000 in earnings. He also enters off a 1:49.3 lifetime-best performance in a Gold division at Woodbine Mohawk Park and, prior to that, a 1:51.1 mile also at Mohawk Park. "He's won his last two with the earplugs in so I'm hoping there's a little more there," Gillis said. I'm just cautiously optimistic I guess." Tim Tetrick, who has driven The Downtown Bus in his last two starts, will again sit in the bike. The Downtown Bus starts from post four against Messenger elim-winner Babes Dig Me and North America Cup finalist St Lads Neptune. The two $83,342 Simcoe divisions for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers go as Races 10 and 11 on the 13-race program Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The card also features two eliminations each for the Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial as well as a $150,996 single dash of the Simcoe for three-year-old filly pacers. All the action kicks off with the first-race post at 7:10 p.m. by Ray Cotolo for Woodbine Communications

MILTON, ON - August 18, 2018 - Continual Hanover's wicked final-quarter speed landed him in the winner's circle for the first time at the Preferred level on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park. A field of seven older harness racing pacers squared off in the $34,000 feature with a pair of competitors seeking millionaire status. Nirvana Seelster needed a victory to surpass $1 million in career earnings on Saturday, while Sintra would hit that same mark with a top-four finish. Easy Lover Hanover charged off the wings of the gate and battled by a fired up Always A Hotshot to claim the lead and post opening-fractions of :26 and :54. Nirvana Seelster pulled from third entering the far turn and rushed up to poke a length in front of Easy Lover Hanover at three-quarters in 1:21.4. In the stretch, Nirvana Seelster continued to power along and appeared to have a victory and milestone in sight. However, Continual Hanover had other plans and flew home in :26 to come from a fourth-over sixth at three-quarters to win by half a length in a career-best 1:49. Nirvana Seelster had to settle for second, while Physicallyinclined and Always A Hotshot finished third and fourth, respectively. Sintra, who got away sixth and was on the outside sitting fourth at three-quarters, crossed the wire fifth and now sits just $964 shy of $1 million in career earnings. The second-place finish by Nirvana Seelster second-place pushes his career earnings to $993,684. Easy Lover Hanover faded to finish seventh after leading for nearly three-quarters of the mile. The five-year-old is one of three horses (Nirvana Seelster, Sintra) from Saturday's Preferred eligible to the upcoming Canadian Pacing Derby. Continual Hanover's victory Saturday was his first in four attempts at the Woodbine Preferred. The five-year-old gelding was driven by Bob McClure for trainer Jeff Gillis. Owned by Vogel And Wags Nags Stable, Jack Rice and Pine Hill Racing Limited, Continual Hanover now has eight wins and $95,030 earned in 23 starts this season. The former Ontario Sires Stakes competitor sports career numbers of 24 wins and $372,190 earned. Continual Hanover paced his final-quarter Saturday in :26 to extend his current streak of :27 or better kickers to seven-consecutive races. He paid $10.70 to win. Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

MILTON, ON June 19, 2018 - Will Take Charge stormed home to win Tuesday's $34,000 Preferred Trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 1:51.3 for driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Jeff Gillis. The eye-catching mile of 1:51.3 is the fastest trotting mile this season in Canada. Returning to Canadian soil after a successful stint in the United States, Will Take Charge was sent off as the even-money choice against six rivals. The Gillis trainee got away fifth in the early-stages and watched a game of musical chairs take place up front. Big Rich had to work hard to clear rail starter Dancer Hall to lead at the opening-quarter in :27.2. Dancer Hall quickly circled around entering the backstretch, but was overtaken immediately by Warrawee Roo, who was parked around the first turn. The new leader reached the half in :56. Around the final turn, Achille Duharas came first-up from fourth and supplied cover for a perfectly placed Will Take Charge. Warrawee Roo led by a pair of lengths at three-quarters in 1:24.1. Will Take Charge was fourth lengths from the lead turning for home, but the five-year-old had plenty of fight in him. The Gillis trainee unleashed a :26.3 final-quarter to powerfully track down the leader and prevail in deep stretch for the 1:51.3 score. Dancer Hall got up the inside to finish second, beat three-quarters of a length, while Warrawee Roo had to settle for third. Owned by Mac Nichol, Will Take Charge is now seven for 13 this season. The five-year-old gelding made six starts south of the border from April 14 to June 9, winning three of them, including the $150,000 Maxie Lee Memorial. Will Take Charge boosted his 2018 earnings to $236,511 and career earnings to $796,761 with his 19th career victory Monday. The clocking of 1:51.3 also established a new North American season's best for an older gelding trotter on a seven-eighths of a mile track or bigger. Will Take Charge paid $4 to win. Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:30 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

Will Take Charge charges into Sunday's $150,000 Maxie Lee Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphi off a win in a leg of the Great Northeast Open Series for trotters; a victory that saw the 5-year-old gelding make a four-wide move around the final turn to complete a last-to-first rally after a few missteps at the start of the race. "He can trot the turns as fast as any horse I've ever had," trainer Jeff Gillis said. "He's like a hobbled pacer almost. You can move him anywhere; he's very handy. He's just got a lot of good qualities that make him very versatile." Will Take Charge joined Gillis' stable after owner Mac Nichol purchased the horse in November. The gelding was previously trained by John Bax and was runner-up in the Ontario Sire Stakes championships at ages 2 and 3. For his career, Will Take Charge has won 17 of 60 races, going 8-for-14 with Gillis, and earned $561,169. He made a splash with his seasonal stakes debut on May 5 by finishing second to defending Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover in the Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands. His Great Northeast Open win at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono followed on May 13. "There were a couple issues with his blood that we got corrected and he's just been a nice horse for us," Gillis said. "There were a lot of things that I liked about him. Obviously, his gate speed, and he looked like a really sound horse that carried good flesh. He was the kind you like to try to buy. "The other thing was I knew Bax had kept him through his 4-year-old year because he really liked him. Sometimes horses get stale and need a change. To say that he would be this good, no I didn't really expect that. But I thought he could be a nice horse." Will Take Charge is a son of Kadabra out of Celebrity Angel, who is a half-sister to Dan Patch Award-winner Almost An Angel. He is fully staked this year. "We'll let him tell us," Gillis said. "We intend to race him in all of those (stakes) if he's healthy and sound. Of course the big ones for us are the Maple Leaf Trot and the Breeders Crown. Hopefully he will be good for those." The Maxie Lee is part of an invitational tripleheader at Philly with the Commodore Barry for older male pacers and Betsy Ross for older female pacers. In addition, the card includes a Great Northeast Open Series event for trotters -- featuring 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover -- and Great Northeast Open Series races for male and female pacers. There also will be two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers. Action begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT). Will Take Charge will face a deep field in the Maxie Lee, where two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Marion Marauder is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Will Take Charge is the 3-1 second choice, followed by the event's defending champion, Crazy Wow, at 7-2. Broadway Donna, another multiple Dan Patch Award-winner and the only mare in the race, is 6-1. "I think we drew well," Gillis said, referring to Will Take Charge's post four starting spot with driver Tim Tetrick. "I think it's a good spot. I'm pretty confident in him based on what he's done the last couple times on a small track. He's shown the ability to race on or near the lead as well as off the pace. I feel confident in whatever Timmy decides." Broadway Donna will try to join Buck I St Pat as the only female winners of the Maxie Lee Invitational, which debuted in 2008. Buck I St Pat, herself a multiple Dan Patch Award-winner, was a two-time champ. Other Dan Patch Award-honorees to capture the event were Obrigado, Father Patrick, Market Share, Chapter Seven, and Lucky Jim. "I was very happy with the way she got started," trainer Jim Campbell said about 5-year-old Broadway Donna, who won her seasonal debut in 1:51.4 at the Meadowlands on May 12. "There are no easy spots for her. No matter where she goes it's going to be tough racing. That's the way it is and you just have to adapt to it." The Maxie Lee is named after longtime horsemen Maxie Lee. A native of North Carolina, Lee made a name for himself as a trainer and driver in the Philadelphia area at Liberty Bell and Brandywine. He had back-to-back Delaware Valley Harness Horse of the Year winners in the mid-1970s with Black Gamecock and Valley Ken. In 1990, Lee became the first African-American with a starter in the Hambletonian, with the Peter Haughton Memorial winner Backstreet Guy. Following is the field for the Maxie Lee Invitational with drivers, trainers, and morning-line odds. 1. Marion Marauder, Scott Zeron, Paula Wellwood, 5-2; 2. Rubber Duck, Joe Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno, 15-1; 3. I Know My Chip, Victor Kirby, Walter Haynes Jr., 12-1; 4. Will Take Charge, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Gillis, 3-1; 5. Crazy Wow, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2; 6. Warrawee Roo, Dan Dube, Luc Blais, 9-1; 7. Broadway Donna, David Miller, Jim Campbell, 6-1; 8. Tuonoblu Rex, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 8-1. Caviart Ally looks to step up in Betsy Ross Friday, May 25, 2018 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent Trainer Noel Daley does not seem too concerned about Caviart Ally making the jump to racing older horses, and feels his confidence will be proven as the year goes on. "People say sometimes it's a little harder for the 4-year-olds to actually go against the older mares," Daley said. "Physically and mentally I think she'll do the job. I don't think she's going to out-muscle them straight away. She's going to have to have a bit of luck the way the races go and all that. But I think as the season goes on especially, I really think she'll match it up with them. "She's a very hearty mare. If anything, she always looks too big. She's not one you have to worry about eating and things like that. You've got to worry about her being too big, actually." Caviart Ally is coming off an outstanding 3-year-old season in which she was the straight-heat winner of the Jugette, and also captured a division of the Bluegrass Stakes along with two legs and the final of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. She won seven of 20 races and finished second in the Breeders Crown, Lynch Memorial, Glen Garnsey and Shady Daisy. For her career, Caviart Ally has won 11 of 36 races and earned $828,510. After winning her first two starts this year, she faces the first stakes-level race of her 4-year-old season Sunday in the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia. The Betsy Ross is part of an invitational tripleheader at Philly with the Commodore Barry for older male pacers and Maxie Lee for older trotters. In addition, the card includes a Great Northeast Open Series event for trotters -- featuring 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover -- and Great Northeast Open Series races for male and female pacers. There also will be two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers. Action begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT). Caviart Ally will get a stern test as the Betsy Ross field includes three-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country, Blue Chip Matchmaker Series champion Shartin N, and stakes-winners Agent Q, Darlinonthebeach, and Blue Moon Stride. Caviart Ally will start from post No. 2 with Andy McCarthy in the sulky. "It's a very competitive race which makes it good," Daley said. "No one's going to be able to waltz around and do their own thing. There's too many in there that can win. There's very few in there that can't win it; in my estimation anyhow. Whoever has a good trip and has a good day. It's a deep field, there's no dominant one there, I don't think." Owned by Caviart Farms, Caviart Ally was sired by Bettor's Delight. She was purchased at Harrisburg -- at Daley's recommendation -- for $35,000 by Buck and Judy Chaffee, who were looking for a broodmare but figured they would race the horse if she showed potential. In her two wins this year, Daley liked her in the first at Philly on May 9, but was not thrilled with her second race at the same track on May 18. She won her seasonal debut in 1:50.4 and her second start in 1:52. "She was very good the first start; she bounced a bit the second start and was just OK," he said. "She switched off the last little bit but she can do that. I think we'll be fine on Sunday." Her opening races this year sound a little like a microcosm of her career. "She's a funny mare," Daley said. "She can have an average day here and there, she's been disappointing a couple times and then obviously she can be very good. The first part of the year she was solid last year. I think she really stepped out there when she won the Sire Stakes final, she was just super that day. "She was very good in the Breeders Crown, she got outdrawn there and had to come first over and stuck in very well. She went fifth in the last one of the year in the Matron. If she had won the Matron, I think she would have probably got the (3-year-old filly pacer) of the year. To me it was a three-way battle between Agent Q and (divisional award-winner) Blazin Britches." And although she was not an award-winner last year, Caviart Ally showed enough to get heavily staked in her first year with the older horses. "We have her in everything," Daley said. "If you're going to bring them back and try to race them...she's in a lot, she's in every race an older mare could be in. She's paid up. I'll be shocked if she doesn't come back very good. She's a beautiful type of mare, she's just a big strong mare; has a great temperament." And Daley is excited for the upcoming big races, as the only people he would rather be other than himself are the Chaffees. "I'm happy to have her," he said, adding with a laugh, "I wish I owned her." Following is the field for the Betsy Ross with drivers, trainers, and morning-line odds. 1. Pure Country, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-1; 2. Caviart Ally, Andy McCarthy, Noel Daley, 12-1; 3. Divas Image, Joe Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno, 15-1; 4. Shartin N, Tim Tetrick, Jim King Jr., 9-5; 5. Agent Q, Brett Miller, Chris Oakes, 7-2; 6. Apple Bottom Jeans, Victor Kirby, Kevin Switzer, 20-1; 7. Darlinonthebeach, David Miller, R. Nifty Norman, 9-2; 8. Blue Moon Stride, Corey Callahan, Mark Harder, 8-1. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Five years after harness racing trainer Casie Coleman won the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup and set Sportswriter on track to become the leading stallion in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, the trainer is back in the NA Cup with Arque Hanover. Casie Coleman of Cambridge remembers Sportswriter’s 2010 victory in the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack as if it was yesterday, not five years ago. “Saying that, I’ve got three-year-olds of his in the barn,” she said, laughing. “Time flies.” Sportswriter, now based at Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, ON, is the leading stallion in the Ontario Sires Stakes program. Coleman said it all started with his Pepsi North America Cup win. “We had a rough Cup week with Sportswriter. I wasn’t even sure we were going to be able to race in the final that week (due to serious feet problems). He ended up winning it and it was pretty special,” Coleman said. “Obviously that sealed the deal to take him to stud which was going to be a huge stepping stone. So far, he’s proven himself as a sire.” Saturday night, Coleman will try to win the NA Cup for the second time in her career. She sends out Arque Hanover from post seven with Hall of Famer John Campbell in the bike on behalf of part-owner and fellow trainer Jeff Gillis of Hillsburgh, ON. Earlier this year, Gillis sent Arque Hanover to Coleman’s U.S. stable to race in a stakes event at Yonkers Raceway in New York City. Coleman maintains stables in Canada and New Jersey. When Arque Hanover returned to Canada, Gillis and fellow owners Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON, Big Als Stable of Woodbridge, ON and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, NY opted to keep the son of Rock N Roll Heaven with Coleman for the North America Cup run. “Switching barns back and forth so many times wasn’t going to make much sense for the horse. So, they just decided they would keep him with me for the Cup. Then after the Cup he’s going back to the States and he’s pretty fully staked through the summer in the U.S.” Coleman said she was impressed with Arque Hanover’s second-place finish in his NA Cup elimination on June 13, despite finishing six lengths behind morning line Cup favourite Wiggle It Jiggleit, an opponent Coleman calls “an absolute creature. No one’s beaten him, yet, and he’s just been awesome.” Arque Hanover, winless in five starts this year, has been pegged at 25-1 in the morning line. “Hopefully, they can go some speed duels up front. I don’t believe mine will be part of the speed duel, but you never know. He can leave lots if (John) Campbell decides to do that. But, in a perfect world, I’d love to somehow be second over. That would be sweet, but I’m a realist… Not many people can beat Wiggle It Jiggleit, especially the way he looked last week. But, it’s a horse race. You never know and I think my horse is as good as any of the other ones.” “He’s just a sweetheart. He’s good-gaited, he’s a nice horse in the barn. Everything we’ve asked of him, he does it. He just wants to do his job. He digs hard right to the wire and he definitely doesn’t want to be beaten. We’ve only had the horse about a month or so, but, so far, I haven’t found many bad qualities on him.” The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup is race 12 on a gangbusters 15-race, stakes-rich Mohawk card that starts with a 6:30 p.m. first-race post. The Pepsi North America Cup will also be televised live on TSN. The show begins at 10 p.m. For more information about the Pepsi North America Cup, including a long list of fan promotions, please visit: Dave Briggs Standardbred Communications Ontario Horse Racing

Freehold, NJ --- Trainer Nifty Norman might not be expecting his star mare Bee A Magician to beat the sport’s top male trotters in Friday’s $236,000 Crawford Farms Open at Vernon Downs, but he’s not shying from the challenge, either. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada, will face nine male rivals in the Crawford. The field includes world champion Sebastian K, who was Sweden’s Horse of the Year in 2012 and is harness racing’s No. 1-ranked horse this season, plus major stakes-winners Archangel, Intimidate, Market Share, Mister Herbie, and Spider Blue Chip. “I’m not intimidated,” Norman said. “We’ve got to do it at some point, anyway, and I think she seems really good right now. I don’t expect to win, but I expect her to be good. She looks fantastic, nice and sound.” Bee A Magician, a 4-year-old mare who was undefeated in 17 races last season, has won two of eight starts this year and finished second on five occasions. She enters the Crawford off a track-record 1:55 victory over the boys in the open on Aug. 22 at Yonkers Raceway. “That had some bearing on our decision, although that was not the same quality field,” Norman said. “But I liked the way she raced there. “Basically, we’ve got to race and it was either against the mares for $40,000 (in Monday’s Miss Versatility Series leg at Tioga Downs) or the boys for $240,000. Getting a piece of $240,000 is better than winning for $40,000. We figured we’d give it a shot. “Plus Classic Martine is racing as good as anybody right now. It’s not like facing the mares was going to be easy.” Prior to the win in the Yonkers open, Bee A Magician finished second twice to Classic Martine in the Ima Lula Series at the Meadowlands. Classic Martine captured the final by a neck in 1:51.1, equaling Bee A Magician’s world-record time for a 4-year-old female trotter. Three of Bee A Magician’s second-place finishes this year came in miles of 1:51.2 or faster. Another came in the Hambletonian Maturity, contested at 1-1/8 mile, against 4-year-old male rivals. “I haven’t been disappointed with her at all this year,” said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee. “I’ve thought she’s gone some great trips. “People keep asking what’s wrong with her because she’s not winning every race. I didn’t expect her to. It’s tough at this age (4). This year is really a learning curve to see how she handles the step up. It’s more to help plan for next year.” Bee A Magician, who has won 29 of 38 races and $2.49 million, will start the Crawford from post three with regular driver Brian Sears. Sebastian K, who has won seven of eight races this year, his first season in North America, starts from post five for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. He is the fastest trotter in history thanks to his 1:49 win in the Sun Invitational at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 28. Intimidate is the only horse to defeat Sebastian K this year, winning the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose. Intimidate, who starts from post eight, won last year’s edition of the Crawford, then called the Credit Winner. Market Share, who has won 24 of 49 races and $3.43 million in his career, was last season’s Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter and the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter. He will start Friday from the trailing position, post 10. “It’s a very good field, that’s for sure,” Norman said. “(Bee A Magician) has got a good spot. There’s lots of speed in there, and if she winds up getting a good enough trip, she should be good enough to get a piece.” The field for the Crawford in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 2. Spider Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Chuck Sylvester; 3. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, Nifty Norman; 4. Flanagan Memory, Brett Miller, Rene Dion; 5. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt; 6. Master Of Law, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 7. Mister Herbie, Brian Sears, Jeff Gillis; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais; 9. Quick Deal, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 10. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano. Spider Blue Chip and Bee A Magician will race as an entry. Market Share will start from the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

CAMPBELLVILLE, August 1 - All eyes in harness racing will be on the Meadowlands this Saturday for the Hambletonian and local standout Harper Blue Chip will be one of eleven trotters vying for harness racing's highest profile trotting title. Trained by local conditioner Mark Steacy, Harper Blue Chip will start from post position nine with driver Brian Sears in the $1,006,125 Hambletonaian, which is carded as Race 13 on Saturday afternoon. Harper Blue Chip races for owners Landmark 6 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie and George Judson of Athens, Ontario. The son of Majestic Son - Winning Jonlin is coming off a 3 ¾ length victory in the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 19. In six starts this season, Harper Blue Chip has visited the winner's circle twice and has only missed the board once when he finished fourth to the Father Patrick in the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28. Just like the Beal Memorial, Harper Blue Chip and the rest of the field will be gunning for Father Patrick, who enters the Hambletonian on a 15 race win streak. Father Patrick is just one of three starters (Nuncio and Trixton) sent out by trainer Jimmy Takter. Takter's trio are the top three choices on the morning line. Harper Blue Chip is the fourth choice in the early odds of 12-1. Steacy admits that it will be a tough task defeating Takter's trio, but that his horse is on top of his game. "We've got our work cut out for us," said Steacy. "I was quite disappointed drawing the nine, it kind of made things a lot more difficult, but our horse is going into the race really good and healthy, so I expect a good effort from him as long as we have some race luck." Since the fourth place effort in the Beal, Harper Blue Chip has dominated locally and Steacy believes Harper Blue Chip is a better horse than the last time he faced the continent's very best. "I think with the trio of Jimmy Takter's it's a big step up, but he's raced against these horses before, never been able to beat them, but he's gone against them and he's been respectable," said Steacy. "I think my horse is better than the last time he raced against these horses and I think he's improved with every start and again a lot of racing luck and you never what might happen." Steacy has an idea of the trip he would like for his charge, but will leave the strategy up to defending and two-time Hambletonian winning driver Brian Sears. "It's going to be up to Brian Sears, but I'm hoping he will try to charge off the gate...obviously you want to be as close to Father Patrick or Trixton or one of those horses that you can be." Defeating Takter's trio will be a tough task for the Mark Steacy trainee, but Steacy knows what it takes to win a million dollar race with a three-year-old trotter. In 2006, Steacy captured the million dollar Canadian Trotting Classic with Majestic Son, the sire of Harper Blue Chip, overcoming favourites Chocolatier and Trotting Triple Crown winner Glidemaster. On Saturday afternoon, Steacy will be looking to recreate that million dollar magic with Harper Blue Chip. No horse has been hotter on the WEG circuit this season than State Treasurer and the Dr. Ian Moore trainee will take his talents south to the Meadowlands to battle with the sport's top free-for-all pacers on Saturday. State Treasurer will start from post two with driver David Miller in a field of nine for the $257,700 US Pacing Championship. The five-year-old son of Real Desire - Ideal Tresurer has won seven times in ten starts this season, including a victory last Saturday night in the Preferred at Mohawk in 1:48.3. State Treasurer has started in the WEG Preferred seven times this season and is currently riding a six race win streak in the circuit's top class. All six of those wins have been sub-1:50 miles. His biggest victory of the season was on May 30 in the $150,000 Molson Pace at Western Fair. State Treasurer's rivals on Saturday include Sweet Lou, who is currently on a seven race win streak, and Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pepsi North America Cup winner. Two starts back, State Treasurer tackled this group in the $463,000 William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands and finished fourth, while only beaten 2 ½ lengths. This Saturday, State Treasurer will need to bring his top game and the speed he has been putting on display. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG

It was Friday, August 19, 1960. Six starters lined up behind the starting gate for the once two dash event. Dee's Boy picked up the first dash victory in 2:06 for driver Lloyd MacAuley. Newport Frisco picked up the second dash victory in 2:06.3 but despite having the better summary (2-1), Dee's Boy and MacAuley were declared the first ever winner of the Gold Cup and Saucer. The first ever Gold Cup was contested for a purse of $2, 500, now in 2014, the 55th edition of the Sobey's Gold Cup and Saucer will race for the largest purse in the race's history $75, 000. The prestigious race isn't about the money. It's about the show. It's about the people. It's about Prince Edward Island. When the horses hit the track for post parade and they walk in front of the grandstand, the lights go dark and Kerri Wynn MacLeod sings the Island Hymn as thousands of people in attendance stand for this Island tradition. The only thing in site is the Farris Wheel from the carnival lit up in the background. The rail horse parades down the track, whether it be Eighteen, R Js Dexter. Winner's Accolade or Kilkerran Ingle, as soon as that spot light from above picks up the first horse and the sound of track announcer's voice booms over the crowd, chills instantly spill down a person's spine. During those 54 years of bone chilling action, there have not only been some great races but some memorable race calls as well. In 1968 Miramichi Post became the first Maritime-bred to ever win the Gold Cup. Ten-years later two-time winner Ventall Rainbow was the first horse to make Four appearances in the Cup and Saucer. That very same year Eric and Harry Webby of Dartmouth won a record fifth Gold Cup. In 1980, The Gold Cup trials were first introduced as well the Gold Cup and Saucer consolation debuted. Who can forget 1986 when Phil Pinkney flipped Rev Your Engine out three wide from last just past the 5/8's hooking up with fraction setter Angels Shadow past the three quarters and they battled the whole way down the lane before Rev Your Engine landed on the line a nose in front. How about 1993, When Little Black Book started to open up on the field up the back stretch, "Little Black Book is turning it on, look at her go! Little Black Book has them by four and she's looking for more," said track announcer Kevin 'Boomer' Gallant. She jogged in 1:54.1 just missing her own Canadian record for aged mares on a half mile track of 1:54 that she set in her Gold Cup trial. The record stood for 15 years. 1995, Mike MacDonald aboard Sandy Hanover converted off a three-wide move past the three quarters to become the winningest driver in Gold Cup and Saucer history with five victories. ( Ventall Rainbow twice, Pearl's Falcon, Winner's Accolade were his others). In 1993, Native Born and driver Brett Robinson moved out of the two-hole approaching three quarters, drawing away from the field winning by 12 lengths in 1:53.1 closing it out in :27 flat, setting a new Canadian record for aged stallions on a half mile track at the time. MacDonald almost had number six in 2003, Harmony P, raced in the Consolation the night before, and drew into the final after a scratch. It was a young protege of MacDonald's that nailed his on the line. Mark MacDonald had Sand Olls Dexter coming from the clouds just at wire to nail his old teacher by a nose. Sand Olls Dexter would then win it the following year in the slop giving Mark MacDonald his second of three career Cup victories. Hall-of-Famer Wally Hennessey picked up his second victory in 2005 aboard Driven To Win, establishing a new track record of 1:51.2. Long-time Island horsemen Earl Smith made history in 2008 aboard the longest shot on the board Pownal Bay Matt, leaving from post 8, Smith laid parked the entire mile before getting up in the final strides to become the oldest driver at 59 years of age to ever win the big event. That was also a special day as the Cup and Saucer was raced on Sunday afternoon due to the cancellation of the races on Saturday night. Over its 54 years of winners, The Gold Cup and Saucer has played host to many 'Boom, Just like that!" calls from track announce Vance Cameron. The island would become a buzz wondering who Mike MacDonald would have coming to the big race over the years, but over the last five years the race has grown to see trainers such as Mark Ford, Jeff Gillis and the top trainer in North America make his first trip to the Gold Cup and Saucer last year, Ron Burke. Who can forget last year's Gold Cup and Saucer. In a race full of Cameron's famous race calls, it was arguably one of his most entertaining Gold Cup's to date. As Up The Credit and Carl Jamieson parked out R Caan and Jason Ryan, Cameron voice started to electrify. "There's a brouhaha in the Cup and Saucer, opening quarter, Boom just like that! :26.2." Up The Credit and R Caan slugged it out to the half before R Caan cleared around the 5/8's turn. "Making the front now is R Caan, Up The Credit is second, WOW! :53.2," boomed Cameron. R Caan started to draw away from Up The Credit up the back stretch before the Burke Brigade of Hillbilly Hanover (Gilles Barrieau) and Escape The News (Marc Campbell) started to eat up race track. As they move three-wide past the three quarters with Escape The News the furthest one out, the track record was in clear sight. "Three quarters, amazing. 1:21.4, they got a shot at the track record, they got a shot at the Canadian record," said Cameron as every member in the crowd was now cheering for the record. As they hit the head of the lane it was a battle of the Burke Brigade. The two top drivers in the Maritimes, Campbell and Barrieau dueling it out, both with a pair of Burke horses, Escape The News paced onto the lead by the tote board. "Marc Campbell has won the Gold Cup and Saucer, Escape The News, a driving quadruple. Hillbilly Hanover is second, R Caan is third. 1:50.4, that's a new track record for the Charlottetown Driving Park, and that is, Marc Campbell's biggest lifetime win." So much history, so much class and so much excitement all build into one race. The Gold Cup and Saucer. This year, the 55th running will carry it's highest purse ever of $ 75,000. Rumours are starting to float on what trainers are coming and what horses they will be bringing. One thing that can be guaranteed, No matter who comes, the Gold Cup and Saucer will still be one of the greatest shows in North American racing. Nominations for this year's Gold Cup and Saucer are due Monday, August 4. The post position draw for the trials will be held on Tuesday, August 5, with Trial 1 scheduled to go post ward on August 9. The final for the Gold Cup and Saucer, presented by Sobeys, is held on Saturday, August 16. by Bo Ford, for Red Shores

CAMPBELLVILLE, July 17 - Mister Herbie, a two-time harness racing O'Brien Award winner, will make his third appearance in the Maple Leaf Trot this Saturday night, at Mohawk Racetrack. Owned and trained by Jeff Gillis, the six-year-old millionaire son of Here Comes Herbie is overlooked on the morning line at odds of 15-1 with favoured Sebastian K, a decisive 2/5 mutuel favourite, capturing most of the attention. However, it was only two years ago that Mister Herbie, sent to post at 8-1, upset the heavily-favoured Chapter Seven to win the Maple Leaf Trot with a strong stretch run in a stakes and track record clocking of 1:50.4. "I'd take a repeat of that," grinned Gillis. Stepping up against Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter (1:49), on Saturday, Gillis knows that Mister Herbie will have to be at his best. In 2012, Chapter Seven was a well-backed favourite, but certainly not as touted as Sebastian K. "It's not to the same extent," agreed Gillis. "Sebastian K looks fairly invincible when you can leave as hard as he can, and then come some pretty wicked back halves. "It's pretty hard to figure out a strategy to beat that. But, that's why we run the race. Favourites go down. Horses are not machines and they can come up with a less than one hundred percent performance. Someone could take a run at him." Mister Herbie is lightly raced this campaign. He made his qualifying debut by trotting home a dominant 15-length winner in 1:55.3 on June 6, his first start since an even effort at Meadowlands Racetrack in late November. He's posted a trio of second-place runs since that qualifier including a runner-up effort to Market Share in last week's elimination, the very rival Mister Herbie chased home in the 2013 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot. Gillis was intent on giving his champion gelding some time off this winter following a year in which Mister Herbie won just once, yet still banked $492,607 in purse earnings thanks to six runner-up finishes in stakes competition. "He spent eight weeks in Kentucky. We deliberately brought him back a little bit slower, in part, because of how late the season ran last year," explained Gillis. "We took our time with him and hopefully we'll finish strong. He's done everything on schedule so far and gotten a little bit better each time. He's heading into the race in good form." Gillis knows his charge will need to drop considerable time off his 1:53.2 elimination clocking on Saturday to win a second Trot final. In fact, Mister Herbie will likely need to equal or better his own Trot final performance of 1:50.4. "If they get a good track on Saturday, I suspect they're going to flirt with the track record, and I'd be just as happy if we held it when it was over too," he grinned. Steve Condren, who won his first and only Maple Leaf Trot in 1988 with Natural Image, will be charged with engineering a winning trip and Gillis has every confidence in the veteran driver. "Steve is a tremendous driver and very accomplished. He has a lot of experience and I think he suits the horse," said Gillis. As for the conditioner's idea of the perfect trip? "Ideally, we'll get away mid pack and someone would soften up Sebastian K and we'd be second over and pounce on tired horses," he offered. "It takes a lot of luck for something like that to unfold, but I think it's going to be an interesting race. I'm not sure everyone will lay back and let him (Sebastian K) get an easy half." And while the Maple Leaf Trot is certainly first and foremost for Gillis and Mister Herbie heading into Saturday's lucrative $603,000 event, the conditioner does have one other key date circled on the calendar later in the season for Canada's reigning champion aged trotter. "The race I'd really like him to win is the Breeders Crown," said Gillis. In 2012, Chapter Seven turned the tables on 'Herbie' to win the Breeders Crown at Woodbine and last year, at Pocono Downs, 'Herbie' dueled with Market Share to a furious finish only to lose by a nose. "I feel he deserved a better fate the last two years and that would be one that would mean a lot to me. It was heartbreaking (losing the photo)," said Gillis. Until then, its eyes on the prize for Gillis and a horse he clearly has a lot of respect for. "He's the perfect horse in every sense of the word. He does everything right, full of personality and I'm extremely fond of him," said Gillis. "We haven't really won a big one in a couple years. Herbie's Maple Leaf Trot was probably our last big win, so I feel like we're due for another." Mark McKelvie WEG Communications - Standardbred

CAMPBELLVILLE, July 15 - A stellar 13-race card featuring the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot has been assembled for Saturday night (July 19) at Mohawk Racetrack. Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter (1:49), highlights the field of ten for the 63rd edition of Canada's most storied trotting event, the Maple Leaf Trot (Race 9). The eight-year-old "Scandinavian Powerhouse" won his elimination last Friday (July 11) for trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt in 1:52.2. Upon earning the right to select his post position for the final, Svandstedt selected the rail as the starting spot for his prized trotter. Svandstedt, a top horseman in his native Sweden for many years, relocated his stable to North America this season and is in the midst of a successful campaign, thanks in large part to Sebastian K who is a perfect five for five on North American soil. The high point of the season thus far for Sebastian K was a seven-length victory in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs on June 28, in which he became the fastest trotter in the history of harness racing with a jaw-dropping mile time of 1:49. Before coming to North America, Sebastian K had victories in top events such as the 2013 Oslo Grand Prix, a heat of the 2013 Elitlopp and the 2012 UET Trotting Masters. The nine rivals who will look to knock Sebastian K off the top of the mountain, include the last two Maple Leaf Trot winners, Mister Herbie ('12) and Market Share ('13). Market Share won the second elimination last week in 1:53 with a last quarter of :26.4 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Linda Toscano. His connections selected post position two for the final. The five-year-son of Revenue - Classical Flirt is the richest horse in the field with over $3.2 million in career earnings. Market Share followed up his Maple Leaf Trot victory last year with a triumph in the Breeders Crown. His career highlights also include two million-dollar race victories in 2012 in the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk. Leading the charge for the local horses will be Mister Herbie, who finished runner-up to Market Share in not only his elimination last week, but also in last year's final. The Jeff Gillis trainee won the 2012 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in a stakes and track record clocking of 1:50.4 and was last year's O'Brien Award winner as top older trotter in Canada. Mister Herbie will start from post six and will be driven by Hall of Fame driver Steve Condren who won his first and only Maple Leaf Trot in 1988 with Natural Image. The seven other challengers in the field are a group of well accomplished standardbreds. Intimidate, a past Breeders Crown and O'Brien Award winner, will start from post three for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Luc Blais. Ron Burke, North America's leading trainer, will send out two starters. Archangel, post four, was the 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, while Wishing Stone, post five, has had success in both North America and Europe with victories in the 2012 Copenhagen Cup in Denmark and the 2013 Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia. Creatine, last year's Kentucky Futurity winner, will start from post seven for the duo of Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance and trotting conditioner Bob Stewart. Undercover Strike will leave from post eight and is a Preferred winner at both Mohawk and the Meadows. He is sent out by trainer Tony O'Sullivan and will be driven by Doug McNair. Flanagan Memory, who won last year's Goodtimes, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and an O'Brien Award, starts from post nine for trainer Rene Dion and Woodbine/Mohawk's leading driver Chris Christoforou. Modern Family, a multiple stakes winner, will start from post ten for trainer Daryl Bier and will have Ron Pierce, a two-time Maple Leaf Trot winner, in the sulky. The field of ten for the Maple Leaf Trot has combined for 188 career victories and career earnings of $13,837,506. The Maple Leaf Trot undercard will feature four Canadian Breeders Championships (Races 2,3,7,10) for three-year-olds. Trevor Ritchie, a three-time Maple Leaf Trot winning driver ('03 Rotation, '06 Peaceful Way, '07 Equinox Bi), recently announced his retirement from driving. Ritchie will be on hand Saturday night to present the trophy to this year's winner and will be a special guest on Mohawk Racing Live's pre-game show beginning at 6:45 p.m. Post time for Saturday's Maple Leaf Trot card is 7:25 p.m, with the Maple Leaf Trot expected to go behind the gate at 10:05 p.m. Here is the field for the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot. Race 9 - Maple Leaf Trot - Purse: $603,000 PP/Horse/Driver/Trainer/Morning Line 1. Sebastian K - Ake Svandstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 2/5 2. Market Share - Tim Tetrick - Linda Toscano - 6-1 3. Intimidate - Sylvain Filion - Luc Blais - 12-1 4. Archangel - Jody Jamieson - Ron Burke - 10-1 5. Wishing Stone - Randall Waples - Ron Burke - 20-1 6. Mister Herbie - Steve Condren - Jeff Gillis - 15-1 7. Creatine - Mike Lachance - Bob Stewart - 15-1 8. Undercover Strike - Doug McNair - Tony O'Sullivan - 25-1 9. Flanagan Memory - Chris Christoforou - Rene Dion - 25-1 10. Modern Family - Ron Pierce - Daryl Bier - 20-1 AE: Wheeling N Dealin - Jody Jamieson - Luc Blais - N/A by Mark McKelvie, for WEG

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