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Rick Wahlstedt owns fine-dining restaurants across the U.S., so his ownership of harness racing horses provides a welcome distraction from the demands of his everyday business life. Even if it's not always a relaxing distraction. "I'm more nervous at a horse race than I am opening a restaurant," Wahlstedt said with a laugh. "The restaurant, I can control. I can't control the horse. "But it's a great hobby. I was brought up with it. I enjoy speaking to my partners about it in the racing business, and I enjoy speaking to the trainers. I guess you could say it's a bit of a therapy from the restaurant world." Wahlstedt is among the owners of 2-year-old male trotter In Range, who competes in Friday's second of three Bluegrass Stakes divisions for freshman colt-and-gelding trotters at the Red Mile. In Range, trained by Marcus Melander, has won four of six races this season and finished second twice, most recently in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship behind undefeated Captain Corey. A 58-year-old native of Sweden, Wahlstedt began following harness racing as a child. "My dad used to take me as a little boy to our small country track," Wahlstedt said. "First, it was just to go to the track, have a nice lunch, do some gambling. Then my father started to buy some horses, and I followed that." Participation in another sport, squash, brought Wahlstedt to the U.S. when he was in his early 20s and, ultimately, led to his career as a restauranteur. Wahlstedt was playing squash professionally and visited New York for the U.S. Open Squash Championships, after which he was offered a job in Dallas as a teaching pro. "I had nothing better to do at the time, so I did that," Wahlstedt said. "I moved back to New York after about a year and continued playing the (squash) tour. Squash sort of brought me into the restaurant business. I was teaching an English guy, a great restauranteur in New York, Keith McNally. He loved squash. He was a client of mine and he gave me my first job in the restaurant industry. "It was perfect. I could work at the restaurants late at night and make some money and during the day I was practicing and training for the tournaments on the weekends. It was a perfect combination. I took a liking to it and started to open my own restaurants in the late 1980s. They're all fine-dining restaurants of different types." Wahlstedt's involvement in harness racing lapsed but he returned to the sport a decade ago when he partnered with a cousin to start a stable in Sweden. In 2016, his trainer, Reijo Liljendahl, bought filly trotter Bay View at the Lexington Selected Sale and asked Wahlstedt if he wanted to join the ownership group. The horse went to Melander, who was in his second year as a trainer in the U.S., and launched Wahlstedt's involvement in the States. "Marcus has done great," Wahlstedt said. "He's a talented young man, and a modest young man. When I started with him, he had just started with the farm. He's done very well. The proof is in the pudding with horses like In Range." In Range is a son of Bar Hopping out of Ilia. He was purchased for $185,000 at last November's Standardbred Horse Sale and his family includes Grand Circuit stakes winner Long Tom, who was trained by Melander, and state-bred stakes winner Tight Lines. All his races this season have been Pennsylvania state-bred stakes. Now on the Grand Circuit, he is eligible to the International Stallion and Breeders Crown in addition to Friday's Bluegrass Stakes. "In Range is not that focused before a race, but once the race starts, he certainly knows where the finish line is, and he certainly likes to pass horses," Wahlstedt said. "A horse that knows where the finish line is and wants to be the first over the finish line is something special. I think he might be one of them. I'm not sure we've seen everything he can do. I think he can do better than what we've seen so far." In addition to following his horses and running his restaurants, Wahlstedt continues to play squash. In March, he won his age group's title at the U.S. Squash Doubles Championships in Minnesota. "I'm still competitive," Wahlstedt said, adding with a laugh, "I probably want to win more than ever. The older you get, the more of a sore loser you are." As for his hectic schedule and love of racing, he said, "I'm busy, but it's a good busy. I've been fortunate. The racing stable in Sweden has done well, and when I say well, I mean it breaks even or makes a little bit of money. If you can break even, for me, that's a big win and it brings a lot of pleasure and excitement. "I'm really enjoying the racing in America. I'm not a big gambler, have never been. Racing for me, it's about the beauty of the horse. In the old days, I was taking my kids out to see them train. There is something very special about that. It's more about the excitement of racing, and winning, than it is about making money. Once you start to think you're going to make money with it, or you are going to get upset because you are losing money, then it is probably time to exit." Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) at Red Mile. For Friday's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

As trainer Marcus Melander prepared In Range for his rookie season, he was uncertain what he had in the 2-year-old trotter. The colt was a good-looking $185,000 yearling buy from a successful harness racing family but did not stand out among Melander's other horses. But when it came time to race, In Range went from indifferent to inspired. He has four wins and a second in five starts as he heads to Saturday's (Sept. 5) $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In Range and driver Tim Tetrick are 3-1 on the morning line, the second choice behind the Ake Svanstedt-trained entry of Captain Corey and Fly Light at 2-1. Captain Corey, undefeated in three races this season, and In Range will be meeting for the first time. "It's not going to be easy to beat Captain Corey, but I don't feel defeated before the race," Melander said. "I'm very confident in my horse and hope he can step up a little more. But it's a good field, it's not just Captain Corey in there. Captain Corey is going to be the favorite but they're 2-year-olds, you never know. It will be an interesting race." Pocono hosts the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships and consolations for 2-year-olds, with a first-race post time of 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. Harrah's Philadelphia hosts the finals and consolations for 3-year-olds on Sunday, with first post at 12:40 p.m. (EDT). In Range is a son of Bar Hopping out of Ilia. He was purchased at last November's Standardbred Horse Sale and his family includes Grand Circuit stakes winner Long Tom, who was trained by Melander, and state-bred stakes winner Tight Lines. "It's a good family and he's a good-looking horse," said Melander, who trains In Range for owners AMG Stable Inc., Kenneth Kjellgren, Tomas Hans Asell, and Rick Wahlstedt. "We really liked him." In Range started his career with a win in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars before back-to-back scores in preliminary legs of the sire stakes. He finished second to Fly Light in a sire stakes division at The Meadows, where he was third in a 1:00.1 half and unable to overtake the winner despite a :27.1 final quarter, but bounced back to defeat Fly Light in a sire stakes split at Pocono. "Honestly, he didn't feel like a horse that would win four out of five," Melander said. "He never had a bad training day, he did exactly what he was supposed to do, but he's a really laidback and lazy horse. I didn't really know what to expect. He never did anything wrong at home, there were just a couple other ones that shined more than he did. "He didn't really step up until we brought him to The Meadowlands to qualify. Since then, he's been completely different on the racetrack. He's still lazy at home but on the racetrack he's all business." In Range, whose laidback demeanor is the only trait he shares with three-quarter brother Long Tom, won his most recent outing in gate-to-wire fashion after racing from primarily off the pace in his earlier starts. All four of his victories have come by a minimum of one length. "He's so handy," Melander said. "He doesn't waste energy on other stuff. He knows what he's doing and he's perfect in hand for Tim. He's very easy to work with and be around. "Tim has been doing a good job with him, letting him come from off the pace and teaching him. The last time, it was time for him to try to leave, and he was really good out there. He's definitely been learning. Tim has been prepping him good. "He's a really nice horse. I can't say one bad thing about him." The favorites in the remaining Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships for 2-year-olds are male pacer Southwind Gendry, female trotter Flawless Country, and female pacer Grace Hill. For Saturday's complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

CHESTER, PA - The sophomore Yankee Glide colt Hell Patrol may have gotten Team Melander off to a flying start on Hambletonian weekend, taking a new mark of 1:54 while winning the $12,800 Friday harness racing feature at Harrah's Philadelphia. Mattias Melander sent the winner up into a second-over position behind the parked Trixar, then moved three-wide before the far turn, and despite the wide journey Hell Patrol proved to have more than enough to catch pacesetting Rock Party by 1¾ lengths, with pocketsitter Arclight Hanover third and the game parked-the-mile Trixar lasting for fourth. Mattias Melander's brother Marcus conditions the improving winner for Courant Inc. The fastest mile of the card came in the very first race, where the American Ideal gelding JK Musicman set the pace, then was able to withstand the persistent Anythingforlove A by a neck in 1:50.3, just a tick behind his lifetime best, with a last quarter of :27.1. George Napolitano Jr. guided the winner for trainer/owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen. Napolitano won six times on the day to vault him past Tim Tetrick 59-54 for the local drivers' derby lead; Garcia-Owen harnessed four winners and now is second at Philly behind Ron Burke, 27-23. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Harness racing trainer Marcus Melander will send morning-line favorite Hypnotic AM to Saturday's $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks at The Meadowlands and, for the second year in a row, three horses to the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes final. Melander's Hambletonian trio last year - Greenshoe, Gimpanzee, and Green Manalishi S - were the bettor's top-three choices in the race won by Forbidden Trade. His group Saturday will lack the same backing, each of his horses is 15-1 on the morning line, but the 28-year-old Melander still relishes the opportunity to compete in harness racing's premier event for 3-year-old trotters. "We all hope for that win, even though it's going to be tough," said Melander, who will send out Capricornus, Hollywood Story, and Rome Pays Off in the Hambletonian. "I don't feel defeated with any of my horses because they're all good. They just need the right trip to get up there." Melander is looking for his first win in the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks. He was second in last year's Hambletonian with Greenshoe while Gimpanzee was third and Green Manalishi S fifth. He was fourth in last year's Oaks with Miss Trixton. The Hambletonian is the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. CBS Sports Network will air a delayed one-hour broadcast of the Hambletonian from 6-7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The stakes-filled card at The Meadowlands starts at noon. While Melander is sending out perceived longshots in the Hambletonian, Hypnotic AM gets the early nod in the Oaks, which is for 3-year-old female trotters. The winner of 10 of 13 career races and $624,725, she is 5-2 on the morning line. Hypnotic AM, a homebred daughter of Chapter Seven-Daydream AM S owned by Courant Inc., enters the Oaks off a 1:52.3 win in a prep race this past weekend at The Meadowlands. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Oaks, which attracted a field of 12 fillies. "I was very happy with her," Melander said. "She has a lot of speed and this year she has been handy as well. She got a little grabby and hot at the end of last year and you couldn't really control her. This year she has been much better. "She just has a great attitude and she wants to do it out there. I'm very confident with her, but there are nice horses in there. They will be tough to beat but I'm very confident in my horse." Hypnotic AM and driver Brian Sears will start the Oaks from post 12, which is in the second tier behind the starting gate. "It is what it is," Melander said. "It's up to Brian, that's why we have him. He worked it out perfectly with Gimpanzee from post 13 (in the Hambletonian Maturity on July 18) so hopefully he can work something out here as well." Hypnotic AM was last year's New York Sire Stakes champion and she opened this season with two wins on the New York circuit, including the Empire Breeders Classic. She then finished third in the Del Miller Memorial, won by Ramona Hill in 1:50.3, on July 18 at The Meadowlands in her start prior to the Oaks prep. "She got a tough trip and was interfered with, but she needed that race," Melander said. "It's been a little bit too easy on her in New York. She gets to the lead and has had some pretty soft halves and sprinted to the win. It was good that she got tired in that Del Miller race. That really helped her to get in form. We were very happy with her performance." Sorella from the stable of trainer Nancy Takter is the 7-2 second choice in the Oaks and Jim Campbell's Next Level Stuff is 9-2. As for the Hambletonian, Melander is happy with his horses heading into the final. The last trainer to have at least three Hambletonian finalists in successive years was Jimmy Takter, who accomplished it in 2013 through 2015. Rome Pays Off, driven by Melander's 24-year-old brother Mattias, was fifth in his Hambletonian elimination after racing on the outside the entire mile. He won his first two races of 2020, including the Tompkins-Geers Stakes in 1:52.3. Last season, the son of Muscle Hill-Order By Wish won three times on the Pennsylvania circuit and was second in both the Peter Haughton Memorial and Breeders Crown. He has won five of 15 career races and $392,934 for owner S R F Stable. Rome Pays Off starts the Hambletonian from post eight. Tony Alagna-trained Ramona Hill, who bypassed the Oaks to challenge the boys in the Hambletonian, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. "It's going to be hard to beat Ramona Hill," said Melander, who was the 2019 Trainer of the Year in the U.S. "She's going to be the favorite and should be the favorite. Behind her I think it's pretty wide open. Rome Pays Off could be second as could anyone else in the race. It's an open race in my opinion. "(Rome Pays Off) drew a little bad but he's a nice horse and always shows up. I have nothing bad to say about that horse. He always does his best." Hollywood Story opened this year with back-to-back wins in conditioned races before finishing fourth in a division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial and second in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. He was fifth in his Hambletonian elim. He will start the final from post three with driver David Miller. The Courant Inc.-owned son of Muscle Hill-Counter Pointe has won four of seven lifetime races. "He's still a little bit green but he develops more and more with every race," Melander said. "He started with some easier races and then we had to go to Grand Circuit competition to see if he was good enough to aim for the Hambo or not. He got a good draw. We'll see." Capricornus, who finished second in last year's William Wellwood Memorial and has won three of 15 career starts, finished third in his Hambletonian elim. He will start from post seven with driver Tim Tetrick. The son of Cantab Hall-Oh My Darlin is owned by JJ Racing Stable. "Maybe he's not the type that wins every week, but he always does good races," Melander said. "The elimination was a race like that as well. He got shuffled back and still had a lot of trot to the end." Following are the fields for the Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian. $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-ML 1. Crucial - Father Patrick - (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 15-1 2. Next Level Stuff - Sebastian K S - (Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell), 9-2 3. Reba Blue Chip - Chapter Seven - (Verlin Yoder, Verlin Yoder), 20-1 4. May Baby - Guccio - (James Yoder, James Yoder), 10-1 5. Tricky Sister - Trixton - (Corey Callahan, Andrew Harris), 20-1 6. Whose Blues - Cantab Hall - (Daniel Dube, Luc Blais), 20-1 7. Sorella - Muscle Hill - (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 7-2 8. Fortune Starlet - Trixton -  (No Driver, George Ducharme), 15-1 9. Solsbury Hill - Muscle Hill - (Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron), 12-1 10. Ab'sattitudexpress - Trixton - (Tim Tetrick, Lucas Wallin), 20-1 11. Panem - Father Patrick - (Dexter Dunn, Nancy Takter), 6-1 12. Hypnotic AM - Chapter Seven - (Brian Sears, Marcus Melander), 5-2 NOTE: Panem and Hypnotic AM will start from the second tier. $1 Million Hambletonian PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-ML 1. Ready For Moni - Ready Cash - (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 3-1 2. Back Of The Neck - Ready Cash - (Scott Zeron, Ake Svanstedt), 4-1 3. Hollywood Story - Muscle Hill - (Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander), 15-1 4. Big Oil - Father Patrick - (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), 15-1 5. Ramona Hill - Muscle Hill - (Andrew McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 5-2 6. Threefiftytwo - Royalty For Life -  (Scott Zeron, Luc Blais), 6-1 7. Capricornus - Cantab Hall - (Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander), 15-1 8. Rome Pays Off - Muscle Hill - (Mattias Melander, Marcus Melander), 15-1 9. Sister Sledge - Father Patrick - (Brian Sears, Ron Burke), 12-1 10. Amigo Volo - Father Patrick - (Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman), 12-1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

CHESTER, PA - The Muscle Hill sophomore colt Rome Pays Off, a winner of $339,484 at two including a second in the Breeders Crown, had not hit the board in four qualifiers before his seasonal debut Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, but his preparations may be coming along just right for the all-conquering Team Melander as he took a new mark of 1:54.2. Trained by 2019 Trainer of the Year Marcus Melander and driven by his brother Mattias, Rome Pays Off was handled cautiously in the early part of the race, not claiming the lead until nearing the second turn. But the full brother to Marseille (ironically, Beal Final upsetter of Melander's Trotter of the Year Greenshoe last year) was able to turn back his opposition easily in the 3½ length victory. The S R F Stable and Marcus may be doing a quick reappraisal of the three-year-old's fitness and potential over the next couple weeks. The Jailhouse Jesse gelding Bully Boy, undefeated in three seasonal starts before making a break in his last outing, got back on the winning track with a 1:54.2 victory despite the outside post eight. Dexter Dunn worked his horse to the lead early and never looked back in tallying for trainer Jenny Melander and owner Risto Vidgren. The Dejarmbro gelding Stormy Kroner looks like he could fit into anybody's Open class right now as he won a fast-class trot with full authority, taking a mark of 1:51.4. The winner of $350,474 was driven by Tim Tetrick for trainer Paul Stafford and owner Thomas Ceraso Jr. Bold Goddess won a driving five-horse finish up the inside in the sixth race, paying $121.00 to win for driver Andy Miller and trainer Ken Hess Jr. This sort of lightning from the sky is not unprecedented for her - she paid $116.20 here on September 15, 2018, and although she has only five wins in seventy career starts, a $2 win bet on her in each of her races would have given you a profit of 119%! Dancing Lew had no such history of upsets before he paid $144.60 to win in the eleventh race -- the baby had broken in his only other start for driver Montrell Teague and trainer Kelvin Switzer. This was the first occasion that Philly had seen two $100+ winners on the same card since July 13, 2016. Though David Miller didn't feature in any of these races, he did win five times on the Thursday Philly card to earn top honors for the day. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA – Two more trotting colts from the seemingly-endless line produced by the Marcus Melander stable were among the three winners of $30,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars event for freshmen conducted Monday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The faster of the two winners from Melander, last year’s Trainer of the Year, was the colt In Range, by Bar Hopping out of Ilia (the dam of $400G+ winners Tight Lines and Long Tom). Tim Tetrick hustled the baby away from the rail, kept him in line when he suffered some “Pocono paddock greenness” coming off the first turn (where the Pocono paddock is), yielded to stablemate Incentive for the two-hole, then came up the inside in the stretch to catch his barnmate by 1¾ lengths in 1:55.1. The fast freshman is owned by AMG Stable Inc., Kenneth Kjellgren, Tomas Asell, and Rick Wahlstadt. The other Melander victory went to the Father Patrick colt out of Southern Senorita (dam of millionaire Guccio), Bidensky, who stopped the timer in 1:55.3. Marcus’s younger brother Mattias was willing to keep Bidensky three-wide most of the first turn in order to get the lead, and he maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the way, with a late-closing Tart Tongue only getting as close as 1¼ lengths away at the finish. Bidensky is owned by Brixton Medical Inc. Both the Melander youngsters were betting favorites; the third winner, Southwind Mazzarati, rewarded his backers with an 11-1 payoff. The Southwind Frank colt out of Alix Hall (dam of the $900G+ winner Flex The Muscle) got the lead at the quarter under Andrew McCarthy’s handling, could rate a 1:00 middle half, then sprinted home in :28.4 to complete a 1:58.2 mile that saw Arnold N Dicky 1½ lengths in back of him at the wire. The Lucas Wallin pupil is co-owned by his trainer, Mazza Racing Stables LLC, and Stormi And Bruiser Stables. Driver Tyler Buter had four wins on the card, one of them with Wild Bill, a son of Somebeachsomewhere – Wild West Show, making him a full brother to world champion Huntsville. The long-memoried may recall that this horse showed the potential of a world-beater at the dawn of his career in mid-2017, but fate has not been kind to him until today, when he rushed to the lead at the half and went on to victory in a lifetime best 1:50.2. It’s hard to believe that the promising baby here achieved just the sixth triumph of his career, but maybe now is his time for owner/trainer Ray Schnittker. from the PHHA / Pocono Downs

HARRISBURG PA – The partnership of Courant Inc., which encompasses principal owner Anders Ström and individual partners on several horses, teamed exceptionally well with harness racing trainer Marcus Melander during 2019, campaigning the “Three G’s” – Greenshoe, Gimpanzee, and Green Manalishi S – who dominated the three-year-old trotting colt ranks while earning over $3 million among them this year alone. They also raced freshman trotting filly Hypnotic AM and other quality performers, with the result that Courant and Melander were voted Owner of the Year and Trainer of the Year, respectively, during voting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading media organization. In addition, New Zealander Dexter Dunn, who had a sensational first full year campaigning in the United States and Canada, was voted as the Driver of the Year by USHWA. Ström, who with his outright-owned horses campaigns in red-and-gold colors worn by the driver, saw Greenshoe and Gimpanzee each earn over $1 million while winning the majority of the sport’s major stakes for their group – Greenshoe a Dancer division, the Zweig, a Bluegrass division, the Kentucky Futurity, the Sire Stakes crown in New Jersey, and the Kentucky program’s championship; Gimpanzee the Yonkers Trot, the Breeders Crown, the Matron, and the New York Sire Stakes championship. Green Manalishi S added a Tompkins-Geers division, the Simcoe, and the Canadian Trotting Classic; Hypnotic AM won her New York Sire Stakes finale and the Doherty Memorial. Despite sending only 16 starters, Courant and partners saw their horses earn over $3.9 million, putting them in the North American Top Ten. Courant also has powerful divisions of the stable in Sweden and in France, and Ström put himself in position for future success by spending over $1.6 million at the major yearling sales in Lexington and Harrisburg. Melander, still only 27 years of age and coming off winning USHWA’s Rising Star Award, continued his rapid ascent to harness racing’s top circles, with his horses earning almost $5.4 million during 2019, fourth among all North American trainers. The “Three G’s” who dominated the sophomore trotting ranks of course were the primary contributors to that amount, but along with Hypnotic AM Melander also sent out Cutler Memorial winner Cruzado Dela Noche, a 2018 winner of the Yonkers International Trot. In addition, there were a host of young, bright prospects who showed talent in limited campaigns and could come on like gangbusters in 2020 (remember, Greenshoe only started four times at two). With the firm support of his family and staff (who frequently overlap), Melander certainly didn’t have the “sophomore jinx” in 2019, and it would be no surprise if the winning continued this coming year. Melander’s family (including a Hambletonian-winning uncle) is from Sweden – another North American “import,” Kiwi-born Dexter Dunn, came from Down Under with sterling credentials, having won multiple New Zealand driving titles and even the 2015 World Driving Championship. But his first full season of driving in the United States and Canada produced success in quantity and quality that few, not even Dexter, would have predicted. Horses handled by the red-and-black-clad driver won over $11 million during 2019, putting him third behind the perennial top pairing of Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras. The fact that he won 457 races, also putting him in the North American Top Ten, was also impressive but not that surprising since he had won ten “Enzed” sulky dash titles before he reached his current age of 30, but his seamless assimilation into the rarefied circles of top stakes competition was the exclamation point on his year. Dunn was the driver for sophomore colt pacer Bettor’s Wish, who was the leading moneywinner of 2019 with over $1.6M in earnings and a 19-13-6-0 record primarily completing in the “glamour division.” Amigo Volo (2TC) and Manchego (OTM) benefited from his expertise in winning Breeders Crown events. He won championships in state programs with Bettor’s Wish in Kentucky, Milles Possesion in Pennsylvania, and Fortune Starlet in New Jersey. In his first full year of driving at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Dunn finished third in the drivers win standings, behind Tim Tetrick and George Napolitano Jr. – who between them have won the last thirteen victory belts at the oval. And just as Melander had some “family” behind him, so did Dunn – Chris Ryder was the first to regularly use Dunn upon coming over, and a disproportionate share of Australian and New Zealand expatriate  conditions quickly, and soon unhesitatingly, gave him regular work. The remainder of the human and broodmare Dan Patch awardwinners are being announced today and tomorrow; the twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands’ “pre-races” show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly). Anders Ström and Courant, Inc., Marcus Melander, and Dexter Dunn will be honored at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; “post times” on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630.   Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website). From the United States Harness Writers Association

It's been decades since a 3-year-old male pacer beat older harness racing horses in a race the magnitude of Saturday's $350,000 TVG Open Pace championship at The Meadowlands, but Bettor's Wish is ready to give it a go. Gimpanzee, on the other hand, will attempt to continue a win streak for 3-year-old male trotters in the $350,000 TVG Open Trot final. The past two editions of the championship were won by sophomores, Tactical Landing in 2018 and What The Hill in 2017. The TVG open finals are part of a stakes-filled card Saturday at the Big M. There also are TVG championships for trotting mares and pacing mares plus the Fall Final Four for 2-year-old male and female trotters and pacers. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EST). Bettor's Wish is this year's richest horse, with $1.56 million in purses. He has won 13 of 18 races and finished second in all five of his defeats (the past four by no more than a neck). He heads to the TVG Open Pace off a victory in the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers Nov. 14 at Dover Downs. The most recent 3-year-old male pacer to knock off older foes in a major race was Niatross, who won the American Pacing Classic at Hollywood Park in 1980. The only 3-year-old to previously enter the TVG Open Pace final was Captaintreacherous, who finished sixth in 2013. "I hope to win it," said Chris Ryder, who trains and co-owns Bettor's Wish. "Honestly, I never put my expectations too high. That's the way I started in the business, and that's the way I am. But this horse always, I don't want to say exceeds my expectations, but he always gets there. He gives you a lot of confidence. I'm never nervous racing this horse, he's just a high achiever. "If we could win it, it would be huge. I know it's a risk, but no risk, no gain. Things don't happen if you don't try. I'm just excited to be in. To think at the beginning of the season that we would have been in with the big boys at the end of the year, you never would have thought that. But he's earned his way in, all credit to him." Bettor's Wish, by Bettor's Delight out of Lifetime Star, will start the TVG final from post seven with driver Dexter Dunn. The 10-horse field includes returning event champion McWicked, who also is the defending Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Breeders Crown winner American History, Potomac Pace winner Endeavor, and Canadian Pacing Derby winner Courtly Choice. "We're just pleased to be in it, pleased that we're well, and that's it," said Ryder, who owns Bettor's Wish with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm, and Bettors Wish Partners. "He's as good as ever." Gimpanzee will start the TVG Open Trot from post two with Brian Sears driving for trainer Marcus Melander. The colt faces a group that includes history's fastest female trotter, Manchego, and one of history's fastest male trotters, Six Pack, as well as Maple Leaf Trot winner Guardian Angel AS. "It will be an exciting race to watch," Melander said. "I don't know what to expect. I know my horse is very good at the moment. I think he's coming into the race very sharp. "It's been a long season for all these horses, so you never know. But I'm confident in my horse. I think he can step up and win this race, otherwise I wouldn't have put him in the race. I didn't want to be in the race just to be in it. I believe he is capable to win the race, but it's going to be tough." Gimpanzee, who was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, has won eight of 13 races this season and $1.10 million. The son of Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows, owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, enters the TVG off wins in the Breeders Crown in October and Matron Stakes on Nov. 14. "He came out of the Matron very good," Melander said. "We trained him (Wednesday) morning and everything felt good. I'm pleased with him. "We got a good draw. You never know when you're racing against aged horses, but I was really happy with how my horse performed last week. He showed, at least, that he's in good form. There were some nice 3-year-olds in that race, and he won pretty easily." Manchego will arrive at The Meadowlands with a six-race win streak, which includes her 1:49 world-record triumph at the Allerage Mare Trot at Lexington's Red Mile and the Breeders Crown Mare Trot final. Six Pack, who owns a career mark of 1:49.1 and season mark of 1:49.2, won the Allerage Open Trot and finished second from post 10 to French star Bold Eagle in the Breeders Crown. For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

MILTON, ONTARIO, October 26 - Trainer Marcus Melander brought three high profile harness racing colts into the $500,000 (US) Breeders Crown for sophomores on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park and Gimpanzee emerged as the best of the lot capturing his second consecutive Crown title at the expense of heavy favorite Greenshoe who suffered from a difficult overland journey in a 1:52 3/5 mile. The race contested during a driving rain and high winds saw plenty of early action with Gimpanzee one of a host of outsiders leaving the gate. He was joined by Hambletonian winner Forbidden Trade as well as Soul Strong and Super Schissel. Forbidden Trade would need a pair of moves to secure the lead following the :26 4/5 opening quarter and he continued in control into the wind through the :56 2/5 half. Gimpanzee and driver David Miller came to challenge with authority on the turn and looked to tow elimination winner Don't Let Em and Greenshoe into contention. Don't Let Em struggled to keep up with Gimpanzee eventually made a break compromising Greenshoe's chances considerably in the process. Gimpanzee drove powerfully past the leader after a 1:25 3/5 three quarters clocking and the son of Chapter Seven took off to a convincing score. Greenshoe once into the stretch made up a huge chunk of ground to gain the place spot with early leader Soul Strong coming on late for third. Chin Chin Hall and Goes Down Smooth earned the final two checks. Gimpanzee undefeated last year as a freshman has now won seven times in 12 starts this year winning the Yonkers Trot and finishing third in the other two Triple Crown legs. Bred by Order By Stable Gimpanzee is co-owned by Courant Inc and S R F Stable. Sent off as a 5-1 offering Gimpanzee returned $13.10 for the victory. "I was planning on leaving," said Miller. "I gave him a rough trip but he's so tough." Melander suggested the horse could go under any conditions. "I don't think it would matter if it was a snowstorm and minus 20," said Melander. "He wouldn't have a problem with it." To watch the race replay, click here. From Woodbine Communications/Hambletonian Society

Luc Blais was pleased when Forbidden Trade received a bye to advance directly to Saturday's $500,000 Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old male trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. After the Hambletonian winning colt drew post eight, he was less enthused. "I was happy when they asked about the bye," Blais said. "After the draw, I said oops. But it's part of the game. A race is a race. All the time you need luck." Twelve horses entered the 3-year-old colt-and-gelding trot, which resulted in Forbidden Trade and Greenshoe receiving byes while the remaining 10 horses competed for the eight remaining spots in the final. Don't Let'em won the elimination with a Canadian-record-equaling 1:51.3 performance. His reward as an elim winner was being guaranteed a post in positions one through five. He will start Saturday from post two. Greenshoe, the winner of 10 of 12 races and C$1.16 million this season, will start from post four. He is one of three finalists for trainer Marcus Melander, with returning Breeders Crown champion Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi S. Forbidden Trade defeated Greenshoe by a neck in the Hambletonian. Since then, Greenshoe has won five in a row, including the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 6 at Lexington's Red Mile. The colt's 1:49.4 triumph in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes on Sept. 29 at Red Mile is the fastest mile of the season for a 3-year-old trotter and the fourth sub-1:50 winning mile by a 3-year-old in history. "He's doing great," Melander said about Greenshoe, a son of Father Patrick-Designed To Be. "I was happy to take the bye. He's been on the road for a long time, so it was nice for him to be at home. I'm very happy with how he feels. I'm confident going into the race, he feels as good as he can. I think he'll be good." Green Manalishi S and Gimpanzee finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Crown elimination. Green Manalishi S (Muscle Hill-Naga Morich S) has two wins at Mohawk this year, in the Canadian Trotting Classic and Simcoe Stakes. Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows) was last year's Dan Patch Award winner and counts the Yonkers Trot and New York Sire Stakes championship among his 2019 victories. "There are good horses there," Melander said. "It's going to be a tough race to win, but I'm happy with my three horses. We drew good; I'm confident going into the race. It will be exciting." Forbidden Trade has won eight of 13 races and C$1.07 million. In his most recent start, he won his second Ontario Sire Stakes championship. The son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory was the 2018 O'Brien Award winner. "It's going to be a tough race," Blais said. "He feels good. He raced good in the Ontario final and he's in good shape right now. I hope everything goes well in the race." The fun-loving Don't Let'em was once described as "a class clown" by trainer Nancy Johansson but he got an 'A' for his elimination performance. The colt, a son of Muscle Hill-Passageway, has finished first or second 12 times in his career. He's gone off stride in his remaining nine races. "His mind is his own worst enemy," driver Yannick Gingras said. "A couple times in the middle of the summer he'd wheel around in the post parade for no reason, but he's doing none of that stuff now. It seems like he's got his mind on his business." Chin Chin Hall finished second to Don't Let'em in the elimination. The colt, by Cash Hall out of Canland Hall, had hit the board in seven consecutive starts before an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Futurity. But that race over a 'good' track on a rain-filled afternoon did nothing to dampen trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman's good feelings. "I don't even count that race; you have to throw it out," Norman said. "I was really happy with his run (in the Crown elimination); why wouldn't you be. He's been good every start the last couple of months. He actually feels like he's getting better and better. I think he drew pretty good (post five). It's a tough group, it'll be hard enough to just get a check, but I think he's good enough to be top five." Breeders Crown finals for 3-year-olds and older horses are Saturday at Mohawk. The finals for 2-year-olds are Friday. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) both nights. The Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership is the corporate sponsor of this year's Breeders Crown. Following is the field for the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander 2-Don't Let'em-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Johansson 3-Marseille-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt 4-Greenshoe-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander 5-Chin Chin Hall-Peter Wrenn-R. Nifty Norman 6-Gimpanzee-David Miller-Marcus Melander 7-Goes Down Smooth-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke 8-Forbidden Trade-Bob McClure-Luc Blais 9-Soul Strong-Dexter Dunn-Ake Svanstedt 10-Super Schissel-Louis Roy-Per Engblom By Ken Weingartner for the Breeders Crown  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Entering the 2018 edition of the Yonkers International Trot, Cruzado Dela Noche hadn’t started in a pari-mutuel race in four months and hadn’t won a major harness racing stakes race since capturing the Group 1 Copenhagen Cup in May 2017. Predictably, bettors dismissed the 6-year-old Muscle Massive son at 30-1 odds in the $1 million stakes. However, off two qualifying wins for trainer Marcus Melander and picking up Brian Sears, Cruzado Dela Noche worked out a brilliant trip in the 1 1/4-mile stakes, tracking Lionel’s first-over assault on leader Marion Marauder. With the plugs pulled and the whip on the trotter’s tail, Sears angled Cruzado Dela Noche three-wide with five-sixteenths of a mile to trot and joining Marion Marauder and Lionel, made it a three-across battle entering the final turn. Lionel put away Marion Marauder as he straightened into the lane and with Cruzado Dela Noche losing ground around the fifth bend, appeared to be on his way to International Trot glory. However, Sears went to the right-handed stick in the stretch and his trotter reengaged. As Lionel reached for the wire, Cruzado Dela Noche lunged, nailing his white-blazened rival in the shadow of the finish post. One year later, the enormity of Yonkers International Trot victory sticks with Sabine Kagebrandt, Managing Director of Cruzado Dela Noche’s ownership company Stall Courant Ab. “That brought us so much joy,” she said. “That meant a lot to us and it meant a lot to me because that horse brings us so much joy and he’s a really good horse and he has a really big heart. That he can take that win and show that he is an international horse, that’s the main thing. He had some wins in big races in other countries, but then he had one in America. “To win that big race under those conditions, it’s not so easy to go that many turns at Yonkers,” Kagebrandt continued. “It’s more money than the Prix d’Amérique, so it was a really big win for us and it was a big win for the horse. It means a lot, it’s a very big race to win, so we were so happy for that.” Cruzado Dela Noche’s Yonkers International Trot victory joined the Copenhagen Cup and Group 1 Grosser Preis Von Deutschland on the trotter’s resume, improved his record to 15-for-55, and boosted his earnings to $1,202,771. It was also the biggest win in Melander’s training career, which began in 2014 after he relocated from his native Sweden. The 27-year-old conditioner’s rapid rise to the top of the sport goes hand-in-hand with his partnership with Courant. “We love to be part of that. We’re so glad that he can make all that success,” Kagebrandt said. “I have known Marcus since he was a child and we have followed his move here to America. I think we were the first big owners that put horses in his stable. It started with one or two horses and then we started with more and expensive horses. We have always had a good faith in him. He has that kind of mission like we have, so we feel like it’s a good match. “We have the same view, how he should train and take care of the horses. We are very much involved also, talking about the training and where we should race,” Kagebrandt continued. “Of course, he’s the one who’s in charge, but he shares that information with us and we feel that we are part of it. That’s how we like it. We really love to work with Marcus. That’s really beautiful, I think.” Like Melander, Kagebrandt’s career is on the rise. Over the past year, Kagebrandt’s role at Courant evolved from doing the daily accounting and taking care of horses in the owner’s Swedish stable to managing the company’s budget and finances, selecting yearlings, and working alongside owner Anders Ström. A far cry from her initial aspirations of becoming a trainer, Kagebrandt appreciates the rarity of occupying such a role in a harness racing stable. “It’s really nice to work with Anders, we work really good together,” Kagebrandt said. “I really enjoy it. I travel all around the world to do what I love. I love my job. It’s beautiful. This kind of job, there are not so many jobs out there that are like mine.” Following his International Trot win, Cruzado Dela Noche finished sixth in the Breeders Crown Open Trot at Pocono and seventh in the TVG Free For All Trot at the Meadowlands. After a winter break, he returned this May to win the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Swamp. Cruzado Dela Noche topped 11 rivals in the 9-furlong stakes to take the winner’s share of the $175,000 purse. Although he’s placed in another two stakes in six other seasonal starts, Cruzado Dela Noche hasn’t found the winner’s circle since the Cutler. He often comes from off the pace, but tends to run out of ground going the standard mile distance in America and Canada. “I think he’s been really, really great. He’s one year older, but he still gives his best. He gets home really fast every time,” Kagebrandt said. “He goes really, really good every time, so we’re really happy with him.” Cruzado Dela Noche only failed to earn a check once this season when he finished last of six beaten 14 1/2 lengths in an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Aug. 24. Although he made a long first-over move in that start, Cruzado Dela Noche tired in the final 3 furlongs, uncharacteristic of his typically strong final quarters. “He didn’t like the shipping and he was not to be recognized. He wasn’t feeling well. He wasn’t himself, that’s for sure,” Kagebrandt explained. “After that, he got some medication and he got to rest for two weeks to recover. He’s been training at home. Marcus and Mikaela (Melander), they have been really happy with him. He has been strong again and really happy and he’s doing his work really good.” After regrouping at Melander’s New Egypt, N.J. stable, Cruzado Dela Noche prepared to defend his Yonkers International Trot title with a 1:55.2 qualifying win at Harrah’s Philadelphia Oct. 1. Racing 10 lengths off the pace in third at the half, Cruzado Dela Noche moved on the outside and kicked away with a :28.4 final panel to score by 4 1/2 lengths. Returning to represent Sweden in the Yonkers International Trot, Kagebrandt is confident. She feels the added distance is ideal for the 7-year-old trotter. “He doesn’t have that kind of speed like Greenshoe, but he can go another lap,” she said. “I’m really hopeful for the International because it’s his distance. He’s so much better at longer distances and he’s shown that in Europe as well. That’s why I’m hopeful because now he finally gets a longer race and that’s what he’s best at.” Cruzado Dela Noche and Brian Sears drew post seven in this year’s International, one slot outside his starting position last year and one slot inside of returning rival and last year’s runner up Lionel of Norway. Denmark’s Slide So Easy also competed last year and returns; he drew post one. The new faces in this year’s edition are 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta, who will represent the United States from post three. Guardian Angel As will also represent the United States and will start from the second tier in post nine. Marion Marauder will make his third appearance in the International representing Canada. European sensations Bahia Quesnot (France, post two), Uza Josselyn (Switzerland, post four), Zacon Gio (Italy, post five), and Norton Commander (Germany, post 10) complete the field. “It is tougher. They have a really good field. They did last year, but this is tougher than last year, absolutely,” Kagebrandt said. “The class of this year’s International is really good. It’s good for the race, it’s good for everybody. “We have great respect for our opponents. This year, Atlanta and Guardian Angel As should probably be seen as favorites,” Kagebrandt said. “Among the Europeans, Uza Josselyn is super quick and Zacon Gio also comes with great reputation. They also have good post positions. We need racing luck to beat those horses for sure. But we have the best driver and a horse with a heart of gold.” Cruzado Dela Noche would join Su Mac Lad (1961, 1963), Roquepine (1967, 1968), Une de Mai (1969, 1971), Delmonica Hanover (1973, 1974), Ideal du Gazeau (1981, 1982, 1983), and Lutin d’Isigny (1984, 1985) as a repeat winner of the International should he prove victorious Saturday afternoon (Oct. 12). “It would mean a lot, especially with ‘Cruzado’ because we know he’s a really good horse,” Kagebrandt said. “It’s really hard for him to win races here. When he cannot open from the start, he always gets a bad trip. He really needs this win so people understand that he’s a great horse. It’s really hard competition, but I’m not worried. I think he’ll be in good shape.” The $1 million Yonkers International Trot is slated for Saturday, October 12 at Yonkers Raceway. The card will also feature a pair of $250,000 invitationals, the 1 1/4-mile Harry Harvey Trot and 1-mile Dan Rooney Pace. For more information on the event and its participants, click here. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. 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--Division leader Greenshoe kept his crown intact as he patiently pushed for the front and faced little challenge when cruising to a 1:51.1 mile in the 127th Kentucky Futurity--going as a $450,000 single heat sponsored by Hunterton Farms, Stoner Manor Inc. and Menhammer Stuteri Ab--over a "good" track at The Red Mile on Sunday, Oct. 6. Stablemate Green Manalishi S swept to the top from post 8 while Gimpanzee raced first over to a :27.3 first quarter and supplied cover to fellow Marcus Melander trainee Greenshoe. Gimpanzee slid to the lead up the backstretch while Greenshoe, the 1-9 favorite, crept closer to the top through a :55.1 half with Pilot Discretion on cover second over. Greenshoe hit his best strides heading to the final turn, rushing past Gimpanzee to lead the field past three-quarters in 1:24. Through the stretch the millionaire son of Father Patrick veered wide but kept to task while pursued down the center of the course by Don't Let'em, who took second. Gimpanzee held third from Soul Strong closing from the back of the pack for fourth. "I was really happy with the way things were working out; I wasn't getting any road trouble," said winning driver Brian Sears after the race. "I was able to be patient with him and ease him up to the front. Then when I thought it was time to use him up a little bit he was there for me and was pretty much in hand. I was really happy with the way he scored down so I was getting a good feeling going behind the gate. He's got speed that really no other horse I can think of can go with." Earning $1,241,273 for owners Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist and Morten Langli, Greenshoe--bred by Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz--won his 12th race from 16 starts. "I was here for the first time in 2007," said owner Anders Strom, who co-owns Greenshoe through Courant Inc. "I started my business as a horse owner for real in 2005 and set myself a target to have the world's best horse in 15 years and we are up by a photo finish now. Not to say the least to do it with this team of trainer, groom, driver, my co-owners which also will include Hanover Shoe Farms where he will find his new home next season." Greenshoe paid $2.20 to win. by Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile  

MILTON, ON - September 14, 2019 - Green Manalishi S and driver Tim Tetrick went to the front and never looked back to capture the $605,000 Canadian Trotting Classic on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   The Marcus Melander trainee held off a late push from Pilot Discretion to win Woodbine's marquee harness racing event for three-year-old trotters by half a length in 1:52.4. Tetrick becomes the winningest driver in the history of the Canadian Trotting Classic with now four titles to his name.   "That's a big honour," said Tetrick of claiming the Canadian Trotting Classic wins record. "It just kind of fell into place and worked out really good."   Tetrick's previous three victories in the Canadian Trotting Classic came with Crystal Fashion (2018), Bar Hopping (2016) and Market Share (2012).   Green Manalishi S, who went off as the 6/5 favourite, shot to the top from post-four and led the field by the opening-quarter in :27.2. After an easy :29 second-quarter, Tetrick ramped up the tempo with the son of Muscle Hill to trot a :27.3 third-quarter.   Swandre The Giant raced in the two-hole, but made a break going to three-quarters. Hambletonian winner Forbidden Trade moved out from third entering the final turn and was nearly fourth-lengths behind Green Manalishi S turning for home. Goodtimes winner Pilot Discretion followed the moves of Forbidden Trade to sit third at the three-quarter pole.   In the stretch, Green Manalishi S had close to three-lengths on his rivals with an eighth of a mile to go. The push to the finish line saw the lead shrink with Pilot Discretion closing in, ultimately coming up half a length short.   "I wanted to get out of there and either sit really close or go ahead and cut it, but I didn't want to have to work too hard to do it," said Tetrick of his strategy. "I wanted him to feel really brave going down the backside and I went a little faster in the third-quarter to get a little separation on them and down by the wire it was getting close, but my horse held on good and he never wins by too many."   Green Manalishi S   Forbidden Trade finished third, but was placed back to fifth for causing interference in deep stretch to Only For Justice. Smart As Hill was moved up from fourth to third, while Only For Justice entered the Superfecta going from fifth to fourth.   Owned by Courant Inc, Green Manalishi S improved to four for four in starts at Mohawk Park. The Melander trainee becomes the first horse since Father Patrick in 2014 to win the Wellwood Memorial and Canadian Trotting Classic in consecutive seasons.   "This horse has kind of been in the shadow of Greenshoe and Gimpanzee," said Tetrick of Green Manalishi S status among Melander's stable stars. "He's done really well and he's made money and won an elimination of the Hambletonian. He's a very qualified horse."   Green Manalishi S is now five for nine this season with $688,226 earned. The Canadian Trotting Classic victory is the 10th career visit to the winner's circle for the son of Muscle Hill and pushes his career earnings over the million-dollar plateau to $1.2 million.   A $2 win ticket on Green Manalishi S returned $4.60.   by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment    

Hanover, PA — Hanover Shoe Farms Inc., Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist and Morten Langli proudly announce that superstar harness racing colt trotter Greenshoe will retire to Hanover Shoe Farms at the conclusion of his 3-year-old campaign to commence stallion duty at the world’s foremost nursery in 2020. Greenshoe burst onto the harness racing scene in early June of his freshman year, winning his first 2-year-old race in 1:55 with a last quarter of :27.3. He would go on to win his next four races at 2, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes final in 1:53.3. Greenshoe made his highly anticipated return to the races as a 3-year-old in May of this year and has once again electrified industry participants and fans alike with his unparalleled speed, stamina, and determination. Greenshoe has thus far won seven of his nine sophomore starts, including both the New Jersey Sire Stakes leg and the final, his Earl Beal elimination, the Stanley Dancer Memorial, his Hambletonian elimination, the Zweig Memorial and, most recently, a Kentucky Sire Stake leg in 1:50.4 with a last quarter of :26. Greenshoe has trotted sub-:27 final quarters in each of his last five starts. To date Greenshoe boasts a record of 1:50.1 and $843,223 in earnings. According to Sabine Kagebrandt, managing director of Courant Inc., Greenshoe is slated to appear in three more races this year, the Kentucky Sire Stakes final on Sept. 15, the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 6 and the Breeders Crown on Oct. 26 (eliminations the week before if necessary). It is possible that Greenshoe will also start in the TVG final at The Meadowlands on Nov. 23. A former $330,000 yearling purchase from breeders Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz, Greenshoe is from the first crop of the trotting stallion Father Patrick and the first foal out of Designed To Be 3,1:51.3f ($656,166), she by Donato Hanover. While sporting the most modern of bloodlines, Greenshoe’s pedigree still makes him accessible to mares by preeminent stallions Muscle Hill and Chapter Seven. Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, Executive Vice President of Hanover Shoe Farms, has been an avid Greenshoe fan since the colt’s first 2-year-old race. Dr. Jablonsky says, “It is with much joy and satisfaction that I share this announcement with the harness racing world today. I fell in love with Greenshoe the first time I saw him race and could envision his spot in our stallion barn very early in his career. To me, he is the horse of a generation. He can do things that I haven’t seen other horses do. His acceleration is magical and his gait is a thing of beauty.” Courant’s Anders Ström says, “Greenshoe showed early talent in training during the spring as a 2-year-old and showed his capacity in his performances early on. He is, in my opinion, the most capable and technically most perfect gaited horse since Muscle Hill and there are perhaps only ten horses like this born in a century. With his ability, conformation and pedigree, I am looking forward to his career as a stallion and will of course be breeding my best mares to him.” Hanover President Russell Williams adds, “Over nearly a century, Hanover has built the greatest Standardbred broodmare band in existence, and we continue to add at the top. Potential stallions of Greenshoe’s caliber do not come along often, but when they do, they belong in our stallion roster. The Greenshoe yearlings of 2022 will begin a new page in trotting history.” The response to the syndication of Greenshoe is expected to be overwhelming. Although shares won’t be formally sold until after his fertility exam in December, we encourage all those who are interested in becoming a Greenshoe shareholder to contact Dr. Jablonsky at 717.578.7395 or drjablonsky@hanoverpa.com to discuss the syndication. From Hanover Shoe Farms

Mattias Melander is uncertain what the future holds for his career as a driver. The 23-year-old is simply taking it one race at a time. "I don't really have a plan," said Melander, the younger brother of Dan Patch Rising Star Award-winning trainer Marcus Melander. "I don't think about it too much. I like (driving). I'm not sure that's all I want to do, but that's what I want to do right now. I've been getting more chances and I like it more and more. I feel more confident with everything." Melander, who works with his brother at the family's training center in central New Jersey, entered Thursday with 14 wins in 64 drives this year. He got his first Grand Circuit victory in August with trotter Back Of The Neck and will team up again with the 2-year-old colt in Saturday's C$370,000 William Wellwood Memorial at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Back Of The Neck, one of two Wellwood finalists from the Melander Stable, won his elimination last weekend by 1-1/2 lengths over favorite Port Perry in a career-best 1:55. The other Melander finalist, Capricornus, also was an elim winner. Tim Tetrick drives Capricornus. For the season, Back Of The Neck, from the family of Dan Patch Award winner Broadway Schooner, has won three of five races and $53,095. He is a son of Ready Cash out of Big Barb and was purchased for $150,000 at the 2018 Standardbred Horse Sale. He is owned by Howard Taylor, Judy Taylor, and breeder Order By Stable. In addition to his wins in the Reynolds and Wellwood eliminations, Back Of The Neck won his debut in a preliminary round of the Kindergarten Classic Series. He was third in his elim for the Peter Haughton Memorial and seventh in the final from post eight. Melander has driven the colt in all five starts. "After I won with him in the first race, the owners said I could keep driving him, so I was very fortunate they wanted that," Melander said. "He is a little bit (tricky to drive). He behaves, but you have to be very careful with him because he wants to do more than he actually can. You can't grab him too much and you can't grab him too little because then he's going to make a break or something like that. It's a fine line. "He's very talented for sure. He was a late bloomer but once he started developing he (progressed) real fast. He's very nice gaited. He does exactly what I ask him to do. When I tell him to go, he goes. I don't think there is anything I don't like about him. He's a good horse like that." Melander's other wins this year include two preliminary rounds of the Kentucky Sire Stakes series with 2-year-old male trotter Expectations and three state-bred-restricted races in Pennsylvania with 2-year-old male trotter Rome Pays Off. Expectations competes Sunday in the Kentucky Sire Stakes final at Lexington's Red Mile. Melander will turn over the lines to Brian Sears for that race. "That's Brian's drive; I've only been driving him because he hasn't been there," Melander said. "Expectations is a perfect gentleman, perfect to drive. He doesn't get worked up, he's just perfect on the bit, and when you ask him to go, he does." Melander, a native of Sweden, came to the U.S. four years ago and began working at the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, where his brother Marcus had also worked. Mattias planned to return home after a year, but Takter talked him into staying. "He told me I was going to learn a lot more, and I did," Melander said. "I'm grateful that he told me and convinced me to stay another year. I got a lot more experience working in a big stable. Jimmy is a great teacher. I got to learn a lot that year." Melander's education continues today, particularly in the sulky. "The biggest thing I've learned so far is probably more patience," Melander said. "I could get a little eager before. That's the biggest thing. Don't get too eager. "In the beginning, I would sit and think about (a bad race) a lot," he added. "I've learned more and more to just let that go. If there is something that I did wrong, I'm going to think about it because I want to develop and not do it again. But it's not something I'm going to sit and think about when I'm going to drive another race. You have to move on." Melander hopes to keep moving on successfully but is not putting any expectations on his career. "I just want to keep on driving and develop," he said. "It would be nice to drive in some more big races, that's experience too. Just keep on driving." One race at a time. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

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