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WILKES-BARRE, PA - The opening of the stakes season for national-caliber Pennsylvania-sired stakes horses at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono begins this Saturday afternoon, with four harness racing divisions of a $120,000 Pennsylvania All-Stars event for the sport's "glamour division," the three-year-old colt pacers. Looking to regain a bit of his early-season glamour is the Somebeachsomewhere colt One Eight Hundred, an $800,000 yearling purchase who startled fans with a 1:50.2 seasonal debut here on April 3, with a :26.4 last quarter, and then followed up with a 1:52 off-track win, making him the heavy favorite for his Weiss Series Championship. But in the Weiss final on April 24, One Eight Hundred got locked in the pocket and badly shuffled, although he recovered to be beaten only two lengths in fifth. Unraced since then, One Eight Hundred will be looking for a clear chance to exhibit his talent, starting from post seven in the field of eight for trainer Nancy Takter, who has put down Tim Tetrick for the driving assignment. The two winners in the first preliminary leg of the PA Sire Stakes last week at The Meadows, Southwind Gendry (1:49.4) and Literl Lad Hanover (1:51.1), will not be competing in the All-Stars, although they are likely to be at Pocono on Sunday the 16th for the second PaSS leg. But there are plenty of other proven three-year-olds joining One Eight Hundred Saturday - a second-place finisher and both third-place finishers in the Sire Stakes; three winners in the Stallion Series; both Weiss Consolation winners; and Always B Miki, in his seasonal debut after winning the Governor's Cup at two. These youngsters and other swift colts and geldings should ensure fast, competitive races in the All-Stars events. First post on an excellent 14-race card at Pocono on Saturday is 12:30 p.m. Program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. From the PHHA/The Downs

After winning starts in two preliminary rounds of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old male harness racing pacers, One Eight Hundred will attempt to close out the event with a victory in Saturday's $40,000 final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Purchased at the 2019 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale under the name Some Terror for $800,000 - the auction record for a yearling pacer - the colt won one of five races at age 2 before being shut down by trainer Nancy Takter and given time to mature. He returned this season and won his debut by 6-3/4 lengths in 1:50.2, with a :26.1 last quarter-mile, in the opening round of the Weiss on April 3. He sat out the second leg, then won gate-to-wire in last week's third round by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:52. In that start, he paced the first quarter in :26.2 before settling into a :58.2 middle half and kicking home in :27.1 over a track labeled "good." "I think he's handled those two miles very well," driver Josert Fonseca said. "He surprised me - I think he probably surprised everybody - how good he did it. He showed a lot of maturity to open up in 26-and-a-piece and be able to back off and be cool with it. I was really happy to see that. "Maturity wise, he's gotten a lot smarter. He knows what he's doing. He's so versatile now, you can leave with him or you can back him down and he's OK either way. I think that's what I like most about him from last year to this year." One Eight Hundred, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Dan Patch Award winner Economy Terror, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Weiss final. He will start from post six with Fonseca in the sulky. The colt is owned by Brixton Medical Inc. and Takter. Fonseca's rapport with One Eight Hundred calls to mind his work with pacer No Lou Zing last year. Fonseca, Takter's second trainer, drove No Lou Zing in the first six starts of his 3-year-old campaign before turning the horse over to driver Dexter Dunn. No Lou Zing, winless in three starts at 2, last season was a winner on the Grand Circuit and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, banking $523,558. "Really, it's almost like that," Fonseca said. "Nancy had me qualify (One Eight Hundred) and told me to just do the same thing I did with No Lou Zing. She wanted him to finish strong and learn how to race and not get too worked up. That's what we tried to do. So far, he's been respecting everything we've asked of him. "Nancy has done a really good job managing him; there was no rush with him. We knew he had ability and potential, so they took their time with him. He's a big horse and he just needed time. So far so good. It looks like it's been working the right way." Straight Talk, also 2-for-2 in the Weiss series, is the 3-1 second choice in the final. He is trained by Ron Burke and will have Matt Kakaley at the lines, leaving from post seven. Other two-time prelim winners in the final are Coalition Hanover and Mad Man Hill, both from the stable of trainer Chris Ryder. Coalition Hanover, with Anthony Napolitano, drew post eight and Mad Man Hill, with George Napolitano Jr., got post nine. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. For the day's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The heralded One Eight Hundred, so impressive in his 1:50.2 - 26.1 first round win in the Bobby Weiss Series for three-year-old harness racing pacing males at The Downs at Mohegan Sun, took last week off but showed Saturday he had lost nothing by winning his section of the $17,500 third and final Weiss prelims. He covered his mile in 1:52 over a "good +1" oval with the temperature just below 50o. Driver Josert Fonseca sent the colt to the top before a :26.2 quarter, then backed off fractions to :55.4 and 1:24.4. Unlike in his first win here, which was his first seasonal start and where he looked to be given a quarter-mile finishing test, One Eight Hundred was under his own power through the wire, yet still came home in :27.1, a second faster than did the other two Weiss divisions on a day where the next fastest kicker was :27.4. The Somebeachsomewhere full brother to world champion Captaintreacherous still looks like the colt to beat in next Saturday's $40,000 Championship for trainer Nancy Takter, also co-owner with Brixton Medical Inc. ONE EIGHT HUNDRED REPLAY   Another son of Somebeachsomewhere, the gelding Coalition Hanover, won for the second time in the Weiss prelims, making a quick move early for driver Anthony Napolitano to go by favored Captain Sleaze and holding his advantage the rest of the way while equaling his lifetime best of 1:52.2. The Chris Ryder trainee is in top form for the ownership of Ryder, Dexter Dunn, Peter Trebotica, and Barry Spak. Another pupil of Ryder's, Mad Man Hill, the only horse to have a chance to win all three Weiss prelims (other double winner Straight Talk took the week off), was outpaced by the So Surreal gelding He's A Snob, who both broke his maiden and stamped his ticket to the final with a 1:53.2 victory. Mark MacDonald, not wanting to let the "Mad Man" get his own way up front, brushed to command in front of the stands with the youngster and held sway to the wire for trainer Ray Schnittker, who is also co-owner with David Pepin and Julie Farlow. The unofficial top pointwinners in this division going into next Saturday's Championship are Coalition Hanover and Mad Man Hill (tie); Trevor's Ace; One Eight Hundred and Straight Talk (tie); He's A Snob; Tarkio; Kyuquot and Stop Sharing (tie); with AE1 being Major Makover and AE2 Move The Line. The draw for the race will be held Monday. In a $17,200 fast-class event, J M Mandamin was full of pace in sixth and last at the three-quarters, so Simon Allard tipped him four-wide past midturn, and the Mach Three gelding sustained a strong burst to catch pacesetting Groovy Joe by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.4. J M Mandamin, who took his lifetime mark of 1:50 here earlier this meet, is undefeated in three seasonal starts at the mountain oval for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and owner Robert Weinstein. Sunday's Pocono card, which starts at 5 p.m., features three divisions of the final preliminary of the Weiss Series for sophomore male trotters, with the tenth race section finding the two two-time prelim winners, Top Me Off and Hoolie N Hector, going head-to-head. Program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/The Downs

When it comes to learning a new trick, Manchego might be able to provide lessons to old dogs. Already the fastest female harness racing trotter in history, the mare adapted quickly to a change in racing tactics toward the end of last season that rejuvenated her campaign and ultimately extended her career. Manchego was mired in a five-race slump last October when trainer Nancy Takter made several equipment changes in the hopes of getting the then 5-year-old mare to relax on the track. Manchego had raced on the front for more than a year — she led at the half-mile point 15 times in a 17-race span — and Takter said, “We decided that going down the road wasn’t working for us anymore.” Among the changes were the addition of an ear hood and the removal of blinkers in favor of an open bridle. The result was, Takter said, “a whole new Manchego.” In her first start following the alterations, Manchego came from sixth at the half to finish second to Gimpanzee in a prep for the Breeders Crown. She trotted her final quarter-mile in :25.1. Then came wins in the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and TVG Series Open Trot championship to close the season. Manchego was fourth at the half in both races. “She’s become multi-dimensional,” Takter said. “It makes her a different horse. It’s hard to do all the work in all the races all the time. If you’re getting pushed to the half every week, eventually you are going to get tired. It’s nice to finish the miles strong and not always be teetering on ‘E’ all the time. “I think she liked having a target because it was different for her. It was probably fun for her to pass horses rather than have all the pressure on her all the time.” Manchego’s turnaround helped propel her to the Dan Patch Award for best older female trotter, the second divisional trophy of her career. She also was a Dan Patch Award honoree at the age of 2 in 2017, when she went undefeated in 12 races. Her renaissance also resulted in owner Barry Guariglia deciding to postpone Manchego’s retirement, which had been announced in November just prior to the TVG Series championship. Takter revealed in early January that Manchego would be back. Manchego made her first racetrack appearance of 2021 this past Saturday in a qualifier at The Meadowlands, where she finished third behind Back Of The Neck and Lindy The Great. Manchego, with regular driver Dexter Dunn, was timed in 1:52.3. She was fifth until the stretch and trotted a :25.3 final quarter-mile. None of the 49 other horses to qualify that day came home faster. “Watching her, I was euphoric,” Takter said. “She was so relaxed and so quiet. She just let Dexter do what he needed to do, and when he asked her to go — and he didn’t really super ask her to go — she just sprinted home. “She looked absolutely amazing. She’s always had a good gait, but she really looked like she was stretching out nice. I was really happy with her qualifier.” Takter plans to qualify Manchego one more time ahead of her season opener in the first round of the Miss Versatility Series on May 8 at The Meadowlands. Manchego, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, has won 33 of 56 career races and earned $2.72 million. Her victories include the 2018 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown titles at ages 2, 4, and 5. She is the fastest female trotter ever thanks to her 1:49 victory in the 2019 Allerage Farms Mare Trot at Red Mile and also the fastest female trotter in history on a five-eighths-mile track, with a time of 1:49.3 in last year’s Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park. Manchego is the only female trotter to win with a sub-1:50 mile in multiple years. She has been the sport’s fastest trotter in 2019 and 2020. “If there are horses that have one season like her season, we’re like, oh what a great horse,” Takter said. “But she’s done it so many years now it’s just amazing. She’s one of the greatest that’s ever lived, that’s for sure. “She genuinely loves to be a racehorse. She’s miserable when she’s off. She likes to be out on the track and do her work.” Work she will continue to do, thanks to adapting to change. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

WILKES-BARRE, PA - One Eight Hundred, the three-year-old colt by the immortal Somebeachsomewhere out of world champion, $1.6M-winning Economy Terror, got his name because he cost $800,000 as a yearling, and Saturday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono he looked worth every dollar of it, winning his seasonal debut in 1:50.2, with a startling last quarter of :26.1. Josert Fonseca left right out to the lead with One Eight Hundred and posted fractions of :28.2, :56.2, and 1:24.1. The sophomore then downshifted on the far turn, the stride becoming both longer and more rapid, and he buzzed the huge final quarter to make himself the fastest three-year-old in North America in 2021. Nancy Takter trains the talented youngster and co-owns him with Brixton Medical Inc. Unraced since October 3 and finishing out his mile effortlessly, One Eight Hundred is a major force for whom to watch out. ONE EIGHT HUNDRED REPLAY   The win came in one of five $17,500 first round prelims of the Bobby Weiss Series for male pacers; there is a Weiss series for both gaits and sexes of three-year-olds. Among the winners in this division Saturday were two other sons of Somebeachsomewhere who took new marks for driver Dexter Dunn and trainer Chris Ryder: the gelding Coalition Hanover in 1:52.2 and the colt Mad Man Hill, breaking his maiden in his first start of the year in 1:52.4. Other Weiss winners from this set included the Betting Line gelding Tarkio, putting up a new best of 1:53.1 for driver Jason Bartlett and trainer Wayne Givens, and the Sweet Lou colt Straight Talk, who rerallied to break his maiden in 1:54.1 for driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Ron Burke. The Weiss colt trotters will have their remaining two prelims and final on Sundays, but their first round was added to the Saturday racing in case some did not want to participate on Easter Sunday. In their three $17,500 events, the Bar Hopping ridgling Top Me Off, who last week equaled the fastest three-year-old trotting mile anywhere in North America with a 1:54.2 triumph, again was victorious, but needed late courage to withstand Killer Instinct - thus replicating the finish of the 2020 Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship - in 1:54.4. Trainer/driver Todd Schadel is co-owner of the fast sophomore with wife Christine and Rick and Regina Beinhauer. TOP ME OFF REPLAY   The Winning Mister gelding Tricky Dick took another of the trot divisions in 1:56 for driver Anthony Napolitano and trainer/owner/"Voice of the Eastern PA County Fairs" Jim McGettigan. "Anthony Nap" also guided the only Weiss horse to pay more than 2-1 when he swept to the lead on the far turn with the Muscles Yankee gelding Hoolie N Hector and went on to take a new mark of 1:57 for trainer Andrew Adamczyk while returning a $41.80 win mutuel. Pocono will race a Weiss-less card Sunday at 5 p.m.; the Weiss fillies then take their turn in the spotlight, the pacers Monday and the trotters on the first Tuesday program of the year. Both of those cards start at 12:30 p.m. Program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/The Downs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Preppy Art continues to be one of the more amazing stories in harness racing for a horse of modest class, as the veteran 9-year-old visited The Meadowlands winner's circle once again Friday night, this time in a claiming handicap pace with a top price tag of $12,500. The recipient of an ideal pocket trip, Preppy Art stormed past leader Northern Rock to record a convincing 2½-length score, his 24th lifetime from 151 starts, after stopping the clock in 1:54.3 as the 9-5 second choice in the wagering. The gelded son of Art Colony - Electric Smile wrote a remarkable story back in December of 2019. During 2018, he won exactly zero races from 30 starts before starting the following season winless in 21 outings. PREPPY ART REPLAY   With his losing streak at 59, he then caught fire, winning six in a row at the $7,500 claiming level to earn himself a legion of fans. He finished 2019 with eight wins in his last nine tries. He had an off year in 2020, finishing with a 15-race losing streak and just two victories from 20 starts on the season. But in 2021, he appears to be all the way back. After beginning the year winless in eight tries, Preppy Art, who has been seen for the most part in the GSY Series, has been victorious in three of his last four, with his only loss coming to the razor sharp So So De Vie one week ago in the GSY Series Final. On Friday, he scored with Andy McCarthy in the bike for trainer Edwin Quevedo, and in his next start, he'll attempt to keep rolling for new connections, as trainer Kyle Spagnola took the sharp sort for $12,500. ONES TO WATCH: The Nancy Takter-trained Really Fast, a $700,000 purchase at the Lexington Select Yearling Sale, did not disappoint as the 1-9 favorite in a non-winners of two on the trot, winning his first career start from off the pace in 1:55 for driver Yannick Gingras. The 3-year-old son of Muscle Hill - Stubborn Belle moved to the outside from the four-hole at the half and steadily made up ground on the leaders around the far turn, and went on to an easy 2½-length win when leader Light Blue Movers went off stride during the stretch drive. Really Fast is owned by Brixton Medical, Hatfield Stables and Marvin Katz. Using a dazzling burst of speed down the backstretch to grab the lead, Whole Lotta Lou was beyond impressive staying perfect in two starts this year, taking a non-winners of two on the pace by 4½ lengths in 1:52.1 as the 3-5 public choice. "I didn't really have it in the game plan to do that," said winning driver McCarthy of the backside brush. "But Simon's [Allard, driving Itzalldowntoluck N] horse looked like he was about to drop anchor, so I decided to make the move. He's a little green but he finished up well. He's got a little bit more to learn. I had to keep telling him what to do. He had a lot more pace than he was showing. I think this is a pretty nice colt." A 3-year-old son of Sweet Lou - Ideal Love, Whole Lotta Lou, who is trained by Stacy Chiodo, won for the second time from just four lifetime outings for owners Timothy Tobias Stable. A LITTLE MORE: Yannick Gingras led the driver colony with three winners on the card. ... All-source wagering totaled $3,044,446, the 17th time this year the $3-million barrier has been busted. During all of 2020, the $3-million plateau was reached a total of 11 times. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. From the Meadowlands

Harness racing trainer Nancy Takter continued her training dominance by finishing first and second with Fortify and No Lou Zing in the $325,000 Progress Pace.   Overlooked in the wagering, Tim Tetrick left and settled in fifth behind Cattlewash.   It proved to be the perfect place to be.   Tattoo Artist and Yannick Gingras stretched out No Lou Zing, parking him through a sizzling 25.2 opening quarter.   No Lou Zing finally cleared before the half in 53 seconds.   Down the backstretch Tim Tetrick was able to coerce Cattlewash off the rail and was towed into a second over journey. Cattlewash inched closer but was unable to threaten No Lou Zing. They throttled up to the three quarters in 1:20.2, pacing a 27.2 quarter. Past the three quarter point Tetrick roused Fortify three wide.   However,the race fractions were not kind to No Lou Zing, the race favorite. He weakened in the stretch. Fortify (Sweet Lou) won by a half length in 1:48.2 and went off at odds of 10-1.     Fortify is owned by Diamond Creek Racing and was driven by Tim Tetrick. Nancy Takter is the trainer.   No Lou Zing finished a hard fought second for trainer Nancy Takter and driver Dexter Dunn.   Catch The Fire was third for driver Mile Wilder and trainer John Ackley.   After Tim Tetrick’s reaction was “ I liked the way he raced last week, I know I needed a trip in the final”.   “It all worked out because I was able to follow Cattlewash. However, I was disappointed he (Cattlewash) could not carry me further and I had to go three wide”.   Trainer Nancy Takter was overjoyed in the winner’s circle at finishing first and second. “He( Fortify) is a pleasure to be around and I got him this summer. The owners wanted to skip the Breeder’s Crown and I’m glad they did”. He will go back to Diamond Creek and return as a four old.”   Sunny Dee shines and wins the Fillies and Mares Open at Dover. Sunny Dee and Dexter Dunn enjoyed the perfect pocket trip as She’s Pukka N did all the heavy lifting, cutting all the race fractions as the field remained in single file throughout most of the mile. The fractions were 26.1 55.1 and 1:23.3. Dexter Dunn confidently moved Sunny Dee, the three to five wagering favorite, out of the pocket and attacked She’s Pukka N in the stretch.   Sunny Dee won by a measured neck in 1:50.1 as the three to five race favorite.  The last quarter was paced in 26.3. Sunny Dee (Sunshine Beach) is owned by Let It Ride Stables and Bottom Line Racing LLC.  Mike Hall is the trainer. She’s Pukka N. grudgingly, finished second, for driver Tony Morgan and trainer Brian Malone. Queen Of The Pride is trained by Kevin Lare for driver Pat Berry. Tim Tetrick won 5 races on the card including the $325,000 Progress Pace.   by Alex Kraszewski, for Dover Downs  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Fall Final Four/TVG Finals Night saw a handful of horses lock up harness racing divisional honors Saturday night at The Meadowlands. It also saw the two most-coveted human awards more than likely cinched by a pair of the game's biggest stars. First up was Dexter Dunn, the 30-year-old native of New Zealand, who in his second year driving full time in America, left not much doubt whom the United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year will be. Of the eight stakes races on the card, Dunn emerged victorious four times, guiding Manchego (TVG Open Trot), Kissin In The Sand (TVG Mares Pace), Always A Miki (Governor's Cup) and Bettor's Wish (TVG Open Pace) to victory lane. Add in the fact that Dunn won four Breeders Crown races and was the only driver in the sport with $10 million in earnings this year coming into the night, he better make room for a second DOTY trophy. Takter scored three times on the card, as her trainees - Manchego, Kissin In The Sand and Always A Miki - were all handled by Dunn. She entered Saturday with earnings of $7.3 million from just 397 starts. During 2020, in addition to the aforementioned power-packed threesome, Takter also had likely Horse of the Year winner Tall Dark Stranger - the Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup champion - in her barn. It's clear that Takter will more than likely raise the USHWA Trainer of the Year hardware again. A LITTLE MORE: Trainer Ron Burke and driver Dave Miller both reached an incredible milestone, as each pushed past the $250-million mark in lifetime earnings. Burke reached that lofty number when his Baklouva finished second in the Governor's Cup Consolation while Miller became a quarter-billionaire after scoring with Blue Diamond Eyes in the Three Diamonds. Burke is harness racing's leading all-time trainer in terms of earnings while Miller is second to John Campbell, who finished his career with $299 million in his bank account. ... All-source handle on the 13-race card was $2,744,397. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

East Rutherford, NJ - Kissin In The Sand took the lead at the half, fended off a challenge from Shartin N on the final turn, and pulled away from the field in the stretch to win Saturday's $150,000 TVG Series Mare Pace championship in a stakes-record 1:48 at The Meadowlands. Three-year-old filly Peaky Sneaky was second and Shartin N was third. It was the final start of Kissin In The Sand's career. The 5-year-old mare finished the season with a seven-race win streak and pushed her lifetime victory total to 27 in 58 starts. She earned $1.74 million for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables and trainer Nancy Takter. "She was outstanding tonight," winning driver Dexter Dunn said. "She's had an amazing career, she's an amazing mare, and I was lucky enough to get on for the last four or five starts to enjoy the last run home." Kissin In The Sand left from post nine and settled into third as Peaky Sneaky and Shartin N exchanged the lead in an opening :26.3 quarter. Kissin In The Sand made her move on the backstretch and got to the front just as she hit the half in :53.4. She remained on top to three-quarters in 1:20.3 and came home in :27.2 to win by 2-1/2 lengths over stablemate Peaky Sneaky.   "She kicked in the straight really good," Dunn said. "She knows when it's go time. Once we got the plugs out, she went to another gear and finished off a very strong mile." Sent off the 4-5 favorite, Kissin In The Sand paid $3.80 to win. Kissin In The Sand, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Kiss Me Kate, was bred by Christina Takter, John Fielding, R A W Equine Inc., and Concord Stud Farm. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3. Among her wins to close out this season were her first Breeders Crown as well as the Dayton Distaff Derby, Milton Stakes, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. "When she was 3, I actually took care of her myself because I had a much smaller stable, so I had a very close relationship with her," trainer Nancy Takter said. "That's why she's so special (to me). "She's matured so much through the years. She was a pain in the butt to break. I remember four years ago when she came into my barn, I called Marvin Katz and said she's either going to be great, or she's going to be terrible. So I'm happy she decided to be great. She was just tough from day one and her performance tonight just shows how tough she really is." Kissin In The Sand will be bred to another of Takter's recently retired stars, Tall Dark Stranger. "Hopefully, they're a match made in heaven," Takter said, adding with a laugh, "I already told Marvin and Bud (Hatfield) that I get to train the first baby." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Dover DE - The field for the $325,000 Progress Pace at Dover Downs has been drawn.  The race features three year old colt and gelding pacers.  The race is scheduled as the 12th of 15 races off the evening. No Lou Zing and  Cattlewash, who finished first and second in the elimination race, drew post seven and post eight respectively. Trainer Nancy Takter sends out two entries in Fortify and No Lou Zin, who was supplemented to the race. Trainer Tony Alagna sends out Captain’s Barbossa and Kirk.    Also scheduled on the pre Thanksgiving card will be two, $100,000 DSBF Finals and two $15,000 DSBF Consolations. Dover Downs Post Time is 4:30 pm The field is as follows:          Horse                                                Trainer Captain Barbossa                              T. Alagna Manticore                                           Br. Saunders Captain Kirk                                       T. Alagna Fortify                                                 N. Takter Catch The Fire                                   J. Ackley Tattoo Artist                                        I. Moore No Lou Zing                                       N.Takter Cattlewash                                         R.Burke by Alex Kraszewski, for Dover Downs  

Harness racing trainer Nancy Takter will watch trotting mare Manchego and pacing mare Kissin In The Sand compete for the final time Saturday at The Meadowlands, but also will get another look at two 3-year-olds that will attempt to follow in their award-winning stablemates' hoof prints next season. Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella will face five older foes in the $140,000 TVG Series championship for female trotters while 3-year-old filly Breeders Crown winner Peaky Sneaky will meet eight older rivals in the $150,000 TVG Series championship for female pacers. "They're both coming back next year, and they're both really sharp at the moment," Takter said. "I think they both deserve a chance." It is the second time 3-year-old fillies will take on mares in the TVG Series championships, which debuted in 2013. Last year, Warrawee Ubeaut finished fourth in the Mare Pace final and Beautiful Sin was fourth in the Mare Trot. Sorella's foes in the Mare Trot include 5-year-old Plunge Blue Chip, a world-record-holder and multiple Grand Circuit winner, and 4-year-old When Dovescry, who captured the 2019 Hambletonian Oaks and Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old filly trotter. She will not face Manchego or Atlanta, who will both race in Saturday's $320,000 TVG Open Trot final. Peaky Sneaky's rivals in the Mare Pace include 5-year-old Kissin In The Sand as well as 7-year-old Shartin N, who was the 2019 Horse of the Year; 6-year-old Caviart Ally, who is the event's defending champion, and 4-year-old Warrawee Ubeaut. The four TVG Series championships are among eight Grand Circuit stakes on Saturday's Big M card, along with the Fall Four for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). Sorella heads to the TVG Mare Trot off a win in last week's Matron Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters. She has won eight of 14 races this season, hit the board a total of 12 times, and earned $713,049. In addition to winning the Oaks, she won a division of the Casual Breeze Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park in a Canadian-record 1:51.3 and the Reynolds Memorial in 1:50.2, which is tied for the season's second-fastest mile by a 3-year-old trotter. "The only way I was putting Sorella in was if Manchego ended up in the (TVG) Open," Takter said. "I knew it was going to be a little bit of a short field, and I think she belongs in there. I don't think she gets enough credit for what she's done this year. She's raced from the first weekend of June all the way through November. She broke a Canadian record, she won the Oaks; she's had a tremendous year." Peaky Sneaky won the Breeders Crown last month at Harrah's Hoosier Park, where she handed Party Girl Hill her only loss of the season. For the year, Peaky Sneaky has won six of 15 races, hit the board 12 times, and earned $482,622. Her 1:48 win in a division of the Glen Garnsey makes her the third-fastest female pacer of the season, behind only Party Girl Hill and Kissin In The Sand. "She's tough and gritty," Takter said. "I don't think she knows any different if they're aged mares or 3-year-olds." Kissin In The Sand heads to the TVG final with a six-race win streak. Her victories include the Breeders Crown, Dayton Distaff Derby, Milton Stakes, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. For her career, she has won 26 of 57 races and $1.66 million. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at 3. Manchego, coming off the third Breeders Crown title of her career, and 5-year-old mare Atlanta both take on the males in the TVG Open Trot. Manchego has won 32 of 55 lifetime races and $2.56 million. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at 2. In the TVG Open Pace championship, Bettor's Wish will make his final career start against a field that includes Breeders Crown winner Century Farroh. Four Breeders Crown winners also will be in action in the Fall Four: Lady Chaos in the $451,800 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, On A Streak in the $398,650 Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters, Summa Cum Laude in the $371,900 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old male pacers, and Fire Start Hanover in the $323,600 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. For complete Saturday Big M entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

The record-setting career of Manchego will come to an end Nov. 21 at The Meadowlands. Barry Guariglia, who owns the 5-year-old trotting mare, said her final start will be in the TVG Series championship, either in the Mare Trot or Open Trot. Manchego has won 32 of 55 lifetime races and earned $2.56 million. Her victories include the 2018 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown titles at ages 2, 4, and 5. She is the fastest female trotter ever thanks to her 1:49 victory in the 2019 Allerage Farms Mare Trot at Red Mile and also the fastest female trotter in history on a five-eighths-mile track, with a mark of 1:49.3 in this year's Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park. She is the only female trotter to win with a sub-1:50 mile in multiple years. She has been the sport's fastest trotter in 2019 and 2020. In 2017, Manchego won all 12 of her starts and became the first undefeated 2-year-old filly trotter in Breeders Crown history as well as the first unbeaten 2-year-old filly trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. With her Breeders Crown triumph two weeks ago, she joined Peace Corps and Grades Singing as the only female trotters with at least three trophies. Manchego was trained by Jimmy Takter at ages 2 and 3, and Nancy Takter at 4 and 5. Guariglia will keep Manchego, who is by Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, as a broodmare. "For me, that (TVG) will be a rough one because it's been so wonderful, and I do like to race," Guariglia said. "It'll be a rough one, but the start of a new chapter for her. "She seems to be in good form, so hopefully we've got one more (win) in us." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Peaky Sneaky became the first filly to defeat Party Girl Hill -- and she made the most of it, capturing the $500,000 Breeders Crown sophomore filly harness racing pace on Saturday night (Oct. 31) at Harrah's Hoosier Park in rein to driver Yannick Gingras. Gingras and Peaky Sneaky left explosively to secure the lead before yielding into the opening bend to Rocknificent and driver Scott Zeron. The Nancy Takter trainee was quick to regain at the :26.2 opening quarter, and she then stung the 1-5 favorite Party Girl Hill before allowing her to pass at the halfway point in :54. Party Girl Hill and Dexter Dunn kept the tempo lively, hitting three-quarters in 1:21.3 while second choice Lyons Sentinel and Tim Tetrick crept into contention first-over and was on the leader's flank heading into the homestretch. Unlike in her 14 straight victories, Party Girl Hill and Dunn looked vulnerable on Breeders Crown night under outside pressure from Lyons Sentinel. And once the inside passing lane opened, Peaky Sneaky picked up the fight. The three fillies raced head-to-head through deep stretch, with Party Girl Hill fighting valiantly. Ultimately, Peaky Sneaky wore her down in the closing strides to prevail in a stakes record 1:49 mile. Lyons Sentinel edged Party Girl Hill for second. Peaky Sneaky is owned by Howard and Judith Taylor and Order By Stable, and was bred by White Birch Farms. The victory was her sixth on the season in 14 tries. The Bettor's Delight filly paid $16.20 as the third choice. "She was tremendous last week," Gingras said of Peaky Sneaky. "I thought she had a shot." Takter has believed in Peaky Sneaky all year long: "She was so good. I've been saying all along that she's going to win a big one. She won the right big one." by Jay Bergman, for the Breeders Crown

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Manchego became only the fourth trotter in harness racing history to win three Breeders Crown trophies by capturing Saturday's (Oct. 31) $300,000 Mare Trot in 1:52 at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Dispatched as the 4-5 favorite, Manchego won by 3-1/4 lengths over Plunge Blue Chip. When Dovescry overcame a break at the start to rally for third. Manchego joined Peace Corps, Grades Singing and Mack Lobell as the only trotters with at least three Crowns. Peace Corps holds the Breeders Crown record with four titles; Grades Singing and Mack Lobell each had three. In Saturday's final, Felicityshagwell S went to the front followed by Plunge Blue Chip, Weslynn Quest, and Manchego. The top four remained in that order through a :27.3 opening quarter and :56 half. Entering the last turn, driver Dexter Dunn put Manchego on a first-over march. She was third to three-quarters in 1:24.2, and she briefly followed Plunge Blue Chip (Ãke Svanstedt) -- who pulled the pocket in the stretch -- before powering past her rivals for the victory. "It actually worked out good because I got on (Svanstedt's) helmet for a while; he sort of beat me into the stretch there," Dunn said. "Once I moved her off Ãke's helmet, she really exploded. "She's an amazing horse. She really did it easy. It was a good performance tonight. It's a pleasure to sit behind her." Manchego's previous Breeders Crown triumphs came at age 2 at Hoosier Park in 2017 and at age 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park last year. "It sure never gets old," said owner Barry Guariglia of Black Horse Racing. "She's an awesome mare. It's been a great ride." Manchego, a 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, is trained by Nancy Takter. Manchego has won five of 12 races this year and 32 of 55 in her career, with earnings of $2.56 million. She was bred by Brittany Farms. Manchego paid $3.80 to win. by Ken Weingartner, for the Breeders Crown  

Two years ago, harness racing trainer Nancy Takter accepted a bye for Kissin In The Sand and advanced directly to the Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old female pacers. By skipping the eliminations, though, Kissin In The Sand missed the chance to earn an inside starting position with a win. Kissin In The Sand ended up drawing post nine for the final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, got parked out the entire mile, and finished second by three-quarters of a length. So, this year when Takter was once again offered a Breeders Crown bye for Kissin In The Sand, she declined. And Kissin In The Sand drew post nine for her elimination at Harrah's Hoosier Park. "I was like, what the heck," Takter said with a laugh. This time, however, Kissin In The Sand prevailed from post nine, winning the single elimination by three-quarters of a length and securing post-position safety for the final. Kissin In The Sand starts from post three in Saturday's $300,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace at Hoosier Park. Dexter Dunn will drive the 5-year-old, who brings a five-race win streak to the event and is the 7-5 morning-line favorite. "She's just been really good," Takter said. "She's a little cursed when it comes to the Breeders Crown, so I hope we can get this done. She's my girl." Kissin The Sand is making her fourth appearance in the Breeders Crown, and her third in a final. Last year, she drew post seven in a seven-horse Mare Pace final at Woodbine Mohawk Park and finished third. In 2017, at Hoosier, she drew post eight in an eight-horse elimination and failed to advance. For her career, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Kiss Me Kate has won 25 of 56 races and $1.51 million for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3. Saturday's Mare Pace field includes three previous Breeders Crown champions: 2019 Mare Pace winner Caviart Ally, 2018 Mare Pace winner Shartin N, and 2- and 3-year-old filly winner Warrawee Ubeaut. Shartin N, the 2019 Horse of the Year, is the 2-1 second choice. Caviart Ally will attempt to become the first repeat Mare Pace winner since Shelliscape in 2013-14. Warrawee Ubeaut will try to become the first female pacer to win three consecutive Breeders Crown finals and the first 3-year-old filly champ to win the Mare Pace as a 4-year-old. Kissin In The Sand is one of four morning-line favorites Takter will send out in Saturday's eight Breeders Crown finals. The others are 3-year-old colt pacer Tall Dark Stranger, 3-year-old filly trotter Spoiled Princess, and 5-year-old mare trotter Manchego. (To read a story on Tall Dark Stranger, click here. To read about Spoiled Princess, click here.) Manchego is a two-time Breeders Crown champion, with titles at ages 2 and 4. Only three trotters in history have won three or more Breeders Crown trophies. Female trotter Peace Corps holds the record with four. Grades Singing, another female, won three as did male trotter Mack Lobell. Manchego, a daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic, has won 31 of 54 career races and $2.41 million. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 2 and is owned by Black Horse Racing. She will start the $300,000 Breeders Crown Mare Trot from post seven with Dunn in the sulky and is the 8-5 morning-line favorite. She is the fastest female trotter in history, with a 1:49 mile in 2019, and the only female trotter ever with sub-1:50 wins in multiple years. Last Saturday, Manchego finished second to Gimpanzee, a stallion with two Breeders Crown titles to his credit, in an invitational at Hoosier. She was sixth for most of the mile before closing with a :25.1 last quarter. As a point of reference, the fastest last quarter by a trotter in Breeders Crown history is :26, shared by Greenshoe and Chin Chin Hall in 2019. "I was really happy with her," said Takter, a four-time Breeders Crown winner. "I made some changes on her just to keep her a little quieter. I changed her bit and put an ear hood on her, just so she could maybe be taken off the gate a little bit more and not go so hard the first three-eighths of a mile. She trotted really good. I changed her shoes up a little bit too. I think she'll be in good form this week. She needed that mile." Harrah's Hoosier Park hosts the four $600,000 Breeders Crown finals for 2-year-olds on Friday. The remaining eight finals, for 3-year-olds and older horses, are Saturday. Racing begins at 6 p.m. (EDT) both nights. The 2020 Breeders Crown, presented by the Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership, is the 37th edition of the $6 million event. Harrah's Hoosier Park will provide a free live high-definition streaming of the races on YouTube. Following is the field for Saturday's Breeders Crown Mare Pace. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Sweet Lucy Lou-Brian Sears-Robert Cleary-30/1 2-Rockin Nola-Joey Putnam-Joe Putnam-8/1 3-Kissin In The Sand-Dexter Dunn-Nancy Takter-7/5 4-Caviart Ally-Andrew McCarthy-Brett Pelling-15/1 5-Warrawee Ubeaut-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-6/1 6-Shartin N-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr.-2/1 7-Philly Hanover-Scott Zeron-Robert Fellows-30/1 8-Treacherous Reign-David Miller-Tony Alagna-30/1 9-Trillions Hanover-Bob McClure-Tom Fanning-20/1 10-Stonebridge Soul-Brett Miller-Chris Ryder-30/1 Stonebridge Soul starts from the second tier. Following is the field for Saturday's Breeders Crown Mare Trot. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Weslynn Quest-Scott Zeron-Chris Beaver-20/1 2-Conway Kellyanne-Yannick Gingras-Daryl Bontrager-30/1 3-Pat Matters-Andrew McCarthy-R. Nifty Norman-8/1 4-When Dovescry-David Miller-Brett Pelling-7/2 5-Plunge Blue Chip-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-9/5 6-Felicityshagwell S-Andy Miller-Ake Svanstedt-15/1 7-Manchego-Dexter Dunn-Nancy Takter-8/5 8-Grand Swan-LeWayne Miller-LeWayne Miller-20/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

When it comes to online harness racing purchases, Spoiled Princess looks like a royal buy. The 3-year-old filly trotter is a nose from being undefeated in three races for trainer Nancy Takter since her father Jimmy acquired the horse for $90,400 last month in an onGait.com auction. On Saturday, she races in the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old filly trotters at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Spoiled Princess heads to the race off a 1:53 win in her elimination this past Friday, when she defeated favorite Hypnotic AM by a neck. "It's 2020, the year of COVID-19, and everybody learned to shop online," Takter said, adding with a laugh. "Even Jimmy Takter learned how to buy horses online." Jimmy Takter, the Hall of Famer who retired from training following the 2018 season, and happens to be the winningest trainer in Breeders Crown history with 34 trophies, was interested in Spoiled Princess as a broodmare prospect. Five days before she sold online, Spoiled Princess won a division of the Buckette Stakes at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. Nancy Takter was at the track that day, watching her stable's Caviart Eva win the other division. "He called me and asked about her," Nancy Takter said. "He was really looking for a mare that he could breed to Ready For Moni later, that would cross well with Ready For Moni. She looked good, a nice-gaited filly, a nice big strong-looking filly. I knew she was sound. I didn't see where you could go wrong with buying her." Jimmy Takter made the buy, with Black Horse Racing's Barry Guariglia. The filly now races for Black Horse Racing and Christina Takter. Since joining her new group, Spoiled Princess finished second by a nose to stablemate Sorella in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes, won a 3-year-old filly open, and captured her Breeders Crown elimination. For her career, Spoiled Princess has won eight of 21 races and $171,136. The daughter of Trixton-Fashion Spooner was trained previously by Nifty Norman. Spoiled Princess will start the Breeders Crown final from post five with driver Dexter Dunn. "She was in really good shape when she got to me; she was sound and a well-mannered filly," Nancy Takter said. "She's beautifully gaited. We just made some bridle changes and stuff like that, and I put her on Lasix. She's maybe a little fresher than some of the other ones now. That plays to her advantage as well." Spoiled Princess is one of three finalists for Takter. Her others are Sorella, the Hambletonian Oaks winner, and Caviart Eva. Sorella finished third, beaten a half-length, in Spoiled Princess' elim. Caviart Eva was fourth in the other elimination, which was won by Next Level Stuff in 1:53.4. "I was happy with both of them," Takter said. "Eva is a game, honest filly. She's really an overachiever. She tries really hard. You can't help but like her. I was happy with Sorella too. She's not really as much of a sprinter as maybe Princess is. I think she raced good. She raced with shoes and she's better without shoes. She'll race without shoes in the final. She's been good all year. It's tough to maintain your form from May to November." Next Level Stuff rallied to win her elimination by a neck over tempo-setting Ab'sattitudexpress. She has won three of her last four races for trainer Jim Campbell and owner Runthetable Stables. Her only loss during that span was a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Filly Futurity. She will start the final from post one with driver Tim Tetrick. For the year, the daughter of Sebastian K S-Nantab has won six of 12 races and $231,361. "I couldn't be happier with her, the way she's been going," Campbell said. "She's been very consistent all year long. She had a real good race the other night and hopefully we can keep her going for the final. "She was really good in the Kentucky (Filly) Futurity final, she just had some bad racing luck. She was pinned in and didn't get out until late. But she raced really good there and she took advantage of a good trip Friday at Hoosier." Ab'sattitudexpress, trained by Lucas Wallin, and Hypnotic AM, trained by Marcus Melander, will start the Breeders Crown final next to each other, in posts six and seven, respectively. "I was very happy with how Ab's raced and she never gave up," Wallin said. "With an eighth of a mile left it looked like she would get beat by two lengths or so, but she tried her best. She hasn't disappointed me yet this year." Said Melander about Hypnotic AM, the Oaks and Filly Futurity runner-up, "I was very happy with her in the elimination. She got to the lead and just got beat by a neck. She's always right there in these races, she always shows up. She's never missed the board in her entire life. You can always count on her. She's a great horse and definitely one of the fillies that can win the race." Kentucky Filly Futurity winner Love A Good Story finished third in her elimination, beaten a length by Next Level Stuff. She will start Saturday from post 10, in the second tier. "I think she was really coming on for a good-closing third," trainer Julie Miller said. "I wasn't tickled with the 10-hole, but that's better than the eight or nine. We'll see what happens with her. I think she's really peaking right now." $500,000 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Trot PP-Horse-Trainer 1-Next Level Stuff-Jim Campbell 2-Crucial-Ron Burke 3-May Baby-James Yoder 4-Sorella-Nancy Takter 5-Spoiled Princess-Nancy Takter 6-Ab'sattitudexpress-Lucas Wallin 7-Hypnotic AM-Marcus Melander 8-Caviart Eva-Nancy Takter 9-Rock Swan-Erv Miller 10-Love A Good Story-Julie Miller by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

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