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ANDERSON, Ind. -- Thrice a Breeders Crown competitor but now finally a bride, Kissin In The Sand kept defending Horse of the Year Shartin N at bay and equaled the stakes record in the $300,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace on Saturday (Oct. 31) at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Kissin In The Sand was parked to a :26.4 opening quarter, but cleared command from Shartin N entering the backstretch. Warrawee Ubeaut raced third as the field lined up single file to a :54.2 half, where Caviart Ally tipped first-over from sixth. Caviart Ally's uncovered rush prompted Warrawee Ubeaut to vacate the cones from third and lead the two-wide tier after Kissin In The Sand to three-quarters in 1:22.1. Warrawee Ubeaut drew to equal terms with Kissin In The Sand straightening for the finish, but leveled off nearing the eighth pole. Once arriving at the open stretch, Shartin N shot from the pocket after Kissin In The Sand to mount a final charge after the leader, but finished a length shy of victory. Warrawee Ubeaut finished third with Sweet Lucy Lou sweeping up the pegs for fourth. "I only got on this mare within the last six weeks, but she's been extremely powerful the later half of the season," winning driver Dexter Dunn said after the race. "[We] made a move, got the front, and she kicked really well down the stretch. She's just been vicious lately and she showed it again tonight -- a 1:48.4 mile... a strong run." Kissin In The Sand, a 5-year-old mare by Somebeachsomewhere, collected her seventh win from 11 starts this season and her 26th from 57 overall, earning $1,669,094 for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables. Nancy Takter trains the mare bred by Christina Takter, John Fielding and R A W Equine who missed qualifying for the Breeders Crown at 2, finished second in the Breeders Crown as a 3-year-old, and was third in last year's Mare Pace.   Her 1:48.4 mile equaled the stakes record set by Hana Hanover in 2009. "Nancy did the right thing -- she decided not to take the bye in the eliminations and race the horse. That way, we were afforded the three-hole, and I think that made a big difference in the final," Bud Hatfield said. "It's a very special feeling [to win]. We love this horse; she's such a wonderful animal. I can't be any happier than I am right now." Kissin In The Sand paid $2.80 to win.   by Ray Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Harness racing driver Dexter Dunn drove Amigo Volo to victory for the second week, posting a 1:53 win in the $500,000 Breeders Crown 3-year-old colt and gelding trot on Saturday (Oct. 31) at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Play Trix On Me left quickly along with Back Of The Neck, who advanced to take the lead at the end of a :27.1. Amigo Volo angled from third and rolled by the new leader to take control of the pace. Gliding atop the field, Amigo Volo cut a :56 half with no pressure, but Ready For Moni took to the outside and passed Back Of The Neck and Play Trix On Me at the rail to chase the leader, with Gangster Hanover second-over and Chestnut Hill poised to go wide in the stretch. After reaching three-quarters in 1:24.4, Dunn began to urge Amigo Volo to stay afloat in the stretch as Play Trix On Me found a path inside and driver Joe Bongiorno had his colt closing rapidly. It took a photo finish to separate the huge public choice with the 27-1 shot, but Amigo Volo was a breath ahead and won in 1:53. Play Trix On Me was second, Chestnut Hill passed tired rivals to take third, and Hillexotic, another long shot, picked up the fourth spot. Amigo Volo is trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman for the Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. "It's been an incredible year," 25-year-old co-owner Carter Pinske said before offering a humble comment, saying, "I'm going to have a long career, so I guess it'll be downhill from here." As for Amigo Volo, Pinske said he had one word to describe his colt: "Guts." Amigo Volo, a son of Father Patrick and Margarita Momma, won his eighth race in 14 starts this season with the championship. He returned $3.00 to win. by Frank Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown  

Six weeks ago, harness racing trainer Nifty Norman said he couldn't be happier with the way Amigo Volo looked heading into the rest of the season. As the horse prepares for Saturday's $500,000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters, it's safe to say he remains enthusiastic. Amigo Volo, who was the Breeders Crown champion at age 2, won the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 11 at Red Mile and followed up with a track-record victory in his Crown elimination last Saturday at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Going back to mid-August, he has won five of six races and finished second in the other. "He has not let me down," Norman said. "Even last week, I was kind of mildly shocked at how good he was. He's just solid. He's raced in just about every race there is, and he's as good now as he was at the start. He maybe even better. That's a good sign for a horse." Amigo Volo won his elimination in 1:51.2, the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old trotter at Hoosier Park. The time was just one-fifth of a second off the track's overall record. In Saturday's Breeders Crown final, Amigo Volo will start from post two with driver Dexter Dunn. He is the 6-5 morning-line favorite. Three male trotters this century have won Crown trophies at ages 2 and 3: Gimpanzee, 2018-2019; Father Patrick, 2013-2014; and Muscle Hill, 2008-2009. Amigo Volo is by Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma. For the year, Amigo Volo has won seven of 13 races. Lifetime, the multiple world-record-setting gelding has won 13 of 25 starts and $1.21 million in purses for owners Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. "It won't be easy, but I think that at the moment he's probably the best horse," said Norman, who has won four Breeders Crown finals. "I've got a good driver, a good draw, so I've got as good a shot as anybody." Norman also sends out Chestnut Hill in the event. Chestnut Hill finished second by a neck to Capricornus in the other Breeders Crown elimination. For the year, Chestnut Hill has won three of 14 races, including the Canadian Trotting Classic. The colt is by Muscle Hill out of Poof She's Gone, a filly that provided Norman his first Breeders Crown trophy in 2009. He is owned by Mel Hartman, David McDuffee, and Little E. Hartman and McDuffee bred Chestnut Hill with Herb Liverman. Chestnut Hill will start from post nine, the outermost spot on the gate, with David Miller in the sulky. The colt is 15-1 on the morning line. "I thought he raced really good last week, but then the draw just crushed him," Norman said. "Now you're really relying on luck. But you know what, he's had some bad draws or rough trips and got good finishes out of them. A few things went his way, and he always gets home good. The horse himself is in good shape." Ready For Moni, who won the Goodtimes Stakes and Harry M. Zweig Memorial after finishing second in the Hambletonian, is the 7-2 second choice. Capricornus is 6-1. Norman's Breeders Crown weekend begins Friday with Fire Start Hanover in the $600,000 final for 2-year-old female pacers. The filly had a five-race win streak snapped with a second-place finish to Continualou in her elimination. Fire Start Hanover is the 3-1 favorite, starting from post seven with driver Dunn. "I was very happy with her run," Norman said. "She was sick after Lexington, we brought her home, she had five days off. I only trained her once. I thought she would be kind of short, but she was actually really good. Even though she's drawn seven, I think she'll go really good. I think that run last week will really help her and she's good either way, she can leave or she can race from off the pace. "She's a nice filly and I think she's got a good shot. She's a big, strong thing, and has just gotten better as the year has gone on. I've got a lot of confidence in her." 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 3-year-old colt-and-gelding trot final. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Capricornus-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-6/1 2-Amigo Volo-Dexter Dunn-R. Nifty Norman-6/5 3-Ready For Moni-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Takter-7/2 4-Play Trix On Me-Joe Bongiorno-Linda Toscano-20/1 5-Hillexotic-Trond Smedshammer-Trond Smedshammer-20/1 6-Maesteraemon-Scott Zeron-Marcus Melander-15/1 7-Back Of The Neck-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 8-Beads-Brian Sears-Per Engblom-8/1 9-Chestnut Hill-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-15/1 10-Gangster Hanover-Andrew McCarthy-Ake Svanstedt-20/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

Amigo Volo might not have been himself the week following last month's Hambletonian Stakes, but after a brief respite and consecutive wins, he appears primed for a strong finish to his 3-year-old harness racing campaign. A multiple world-record-setter and Breeders Crown champion at age 2, Amigo Volo has won four of nine races this season. He competes Friday in the first of two Keystone Classic divisions for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadows, where he is the 6-5 morning-line favorite with regular driver Dexter Dunn. Amigo Volo finished fourth in the Hambletonian on Aug. 8 at The Meadowlands. He started from post 10, hustled to the front in a :26.2 opening quarter, and then had traffic issues after yielding the lead to Threefiftytwo. He made up multiple lengths in the stretch but ended up 4-3/4 lengths behind winner Ramona Hill. The next week, Amigo Volo finished third in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes after holding the lead in the stretch. It was the gelding's sixth start in as many weeks, so trainer Nifty Norman gave the horse time to freshen up and Amigo Volo responded. He heads to the Keystone Classic off wins in the final preliminary round of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and the series championship. "I'm very proud of the horse," Norman said. "We tried to have him at his best for the Hambo, and I thought he was, things just didn't work out for him. But I thought the horse really raced good that day. "Then there is always a little bit of a bounce after that. You can't be good all the time; for every up, there is going to be a down. He was a little bit down his next start. He was just flat, and that's not like him. So, we gave him a little bit of time off and he perked right up and has really done well. He's been super his last two races. He looks like he's back to himself again." Amigo Volo is a son of Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma. For his career, he has won 10 of 21 starts and earned $946,719 for owners Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. In addition to winning last year's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters and this year's Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, Amigo Volo's victories include the 2019 Matron Stakes and divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes. He holds world records for 2-year-old geldings on a five-eighths-mile track (1:52.4) and mile track (1:52.3). Amigo Volo is eligible to Bluegrass Stakes, Kentucky Futurity, Breeders Crown, and Matron the rest of the way. "Last year when we raced him weeks in a row, he really raced good like that," Norman said. "He likes to race, he's a game little bugger. "I couldn't be happier with the way he's heading into the rest of the season. I thought the big tracks would be a disadvantage for him, but he's strong again, so I think we'll be OK. He's a really solid little guy." Ron Burke-trained Patriarch Hanover is the 8-5 favorite in the second Keystone Classic division for the 3-year-old male trotters. He finished third in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. There also are two Keystone Classic divisions for 3-year-old male pacers. Jim Campbell's Sandbetweenmytoes is the 5-2 favorite in the first and Burke's Cattlewash gets the 5-2 nod in the second. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

PACER OF THE WEEK: SEMI TOUGH His name suggests that this four-year-old gelding trained by harness racing great Ron Burke is only partially rugged. But his career record suggests otherwise, after earning nearly $500,000 in the first two years racing. Semi Tough has been at it again lately, winning back to back starts at the Meadows and Yonkers coming into the featured $14,000 condition pace on Saturday afternoon at Pocono. Leaving from post position #5 in a field of nine as the 3-1 third choice on the board, Semi Tough was able to take the lead on the front stretch. Several horses took shots at that lead throughout the race, but driver Joe Bongiorno kept him afloat. In the end, Semi Tough gutted it out, holding off long-shot closers Branquinho and Ferdinand A for the victory, his third in a row, in 1:50;3. Honorable Mention Bakersfield (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who followed up a win at Harrah's at Philadelphia with a condition victory at Pocono on Saturday in 1:51:2. I'm Very Special (Tim Tetrick, Pete Pellegrino), a mare who shipped in from Yonkers to capture a rugged condition pace on Sunday in a career-best 1:50:4. Abuckabett Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Tony Alagna), a two-year-old colt who picked up his maiden win in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on Sunday in 1:51:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: VIC'S WINNER One upset can be a fluke, but two straight upsets can sometimes mean that they might not have been upsets in the first place. Vic's Winner was coming into a $14,000 condition trot on Saturday fresh off a surprising win in his last start at 23-1 in a career-best 1:52:4. Considering he was moving up in class on Saturday, Vic's Winner received even less consideration at the windows, going off at 30-1. Driver John Kakaley was able to position Vic's Winner in the pocket early behind pacesetter Waiting On A Woman. As other horses tried hard on the outside, the five-year-old gelding trained by Chris Lakata saved ground and energy before making a burst up the passing lane in the stretch. Vic's Winner took over the lead and held off Fashion Creditor by a half-length in 1:54 for his second straight victory at long odds. Honorable Mention Wisenheimer (George Nepolitano Jr., Jenny Melander), who returned to Pocono for his second straight victory on the oval, doing so in a condition trot on Saturday in 1:55:1. Flawless Countrry (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), a two-year-old filly who followed up two straight wins at the Meadows with a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win at Pocono on Monday in a career-best 1:54:1. Zapaca (Tyler Buter, Dale Gilmour), who picked up his second consecutive condition win at Pocono on Tuesday, scoring in 1:55:4. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: VIC'S WINNER He was not only the trotter of the week, but, at 30-1, this trotter's $2 win ticket on Saturday at Pocono paid the most of any winning horse the past week, yielding $62.40. DRIVER OF THE WEEKP: DEXTER DUNN Dunn has enjoyed stakes action the past few weeks at Pocono, and he really rolled on Sunday night with two Stallion Series and one Sire Stakes win among the races held for the two-year-old male pacers. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN Norman dominated the action on Monday during the Stallion Series for two-year-old trotting fillies, as his trainees won three of the four divisions that were held. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for The Downs              

Gus Dovi has fond memories of riding horses during his childhood in Sicily. Years later in the U.S., those remembrances were a factor in propelling him into harness racing horse ownership soon after the opening of The Meadowlands in 1976. Now, he has Bettor Memories. Bettor Memories, a 7-year-old male pacer, has been in Dovi's small ownership stable since January 2016. Since then, the gelding has won 31 races and $653,430. More importantly to Dovi, the horse has consistently provided enjoyment. "For me, it's not all the money, although it's very nice, don't misunderstand me," Dovi said. "It's the idea that he's racing against some very good horses. Me and my wife enjoy going to the track on the nights he races. If he's competitive week after week, that's the fun of it. If he's in the top three, I'm very happy, always. I just have a passion for the Standardbred, it's something I enjoy." Bettor Memories, trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman, has won three of six races this year and been worse than third only once. His next start is in Thursday's $50,000 invitational handicap at Dover Downs, where he is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. Backstreet Shadow is the 5-2 favorite and Jesse Duke N, unbeaten in three races since arriving in the U.S. from Down Under, is 9-2. "He's racing well this year," Dovi said about Bettor Memories, who is a son of Bettor's Delight out of Allamerican Memoir. "He's been a pleasant surprise (since he was purchased). He came along very good and has done very well for us. I owe a lot of that to Nifty. He watches over him carefully; he manages him very well." Dovi, who lives in northern New Jersey, moved to the U.S. when he was 10. Following the opening of The Meadowlands, he got to know several horsemen through his printing business, which did work for the Big M. "As a kid, I always rode horses," Dovi said. "I've always loved the animal itself. It's the reason I was fascinated when The Meadowlands opened up. They had the stables there and I used to really enjoy going down there. That's the reason I got involved in the racing, because I like the animal." Dovi's first memorable horse was J J's Cornell in the early 1980s. Bettor Memories is his most recent. The horse was a Grand Circuit winner at age 3 and won a preliminary division of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series last season. He is eligible to the Levy, now called the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, which begins March 14 and concludes April 18 at Yonkers Raceway. "I think Bettor Memories is the best one I've had," Dovi said. "I enjoy watching him race, watching him compete. He has his good weeks and he has his bad weeks, like any other horse or any other athlete, but he's very competitive. When he's on his game, he's very good. "Of course, you always need a little luck, there's no question. So, you hope for a little luck. But he's a very nice horse. We'll see what happens." Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) Thursday at Dover Downs. The invitational handicap is race 12 on the 14-race card. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

All eyes were on Major Occasion A who was sent off as the harness racing favorite in the Mares Open Pace at Dover Downs Wednesday night. Valuable Art, last week’s winner, left quickly and Delishka N accepted the pocket trip. The first quarter was paced in :26.4  Tim Tetrick rushed past the quarter pole with Ideal Lifestyle A, who responded clearing the lead.  They led the field to the half in :55 seconds flat.  Major Occasion A was the first to pull past the half. Dexter Dunn had to urge his charge on and accelerated past Ideal Lifestyle A, who offered little resistance.  The three quarters were paced in 1:22.4, a :27.4 quarter.  Baron Remy attempted to shadow Ideal Lifestyle ‘s move but could not gain any ground.  Moments of Joy, Delishka N and Valuable Art all were out paced in the late stages of the race. Major Occasion A sprinted away from the field and won by four and three quarter lengths stopping the teletimer in 1:49.4.  She was sent off at odds of 2/5 .   Major Occasion A was driven to victory by Dexter Dunn for trainer R. Nifty Norman.  The Owners are Enzed Racing Stable Inc.  Ideal Lifestyle held on for 2nd. Tim Tetrick drove for trainer Jim King Jr. Baron Remy finished 3rd and was driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Ron Burke. After the race, trainer Nifty Norman was not sure how Major Occasion A would take to the smaller race track.  She raced on the mile track previously. The huge smile on his face provided a confident answer. Racing continues on Thursday at Dover Downs.  Highlighting the 14 race card is Blue Hen Open Pace in the 10th race.  The feature will be the Preferred Handicap Pace in race 12. Post Time is 4:30 pm by Alex Kraszewski, for Dover Downs    

MANALAPAN, NJ -- January 29, 2019 -- On Sunday (Jan 26), the New Jersey Department of Agriculture held its 63rd Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon at Hilton Gardens Inn in Hamilton. SBOANJ directors in attendance were Mark Mullen, Anthony Romano, Mike Klau and Executive Administrator Al Ochsner. Taylor Palmer also attended the function. Evident Beauty was awarded the New Jersey Sire Stakes Horse of the year and the Standardbred of the Year honors by a joint presentation from the SBOANJ and the NJSS committee for owners Melvin Hartman, Little E LLC, and R A W Equine. Richard "Nifty" Norman accepted the award as trainer of the Trixton filly. Evident Beauty was bred by White Birch Farm of Allentown, N.J. A winner of $532,734 in 2019, the 3-year-old filly trotter won nine of her 17 starts this year. With a record of 1:52.3 which she took in winning the Premier Division final at The Meadowlands, she was also victorious in open company with wins in a $124,000 Del Miller division at The Meadowlands, the $282,000 Elegantimage at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and the $135,000 Moni Maker at Hoosier Park. Mike Klau from the Breeders Committee of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey awarded Stefan Balazsi's Order By Stable as the 2019 New Jersey Standardbred Breeder of the Year. Stefan Balazsi started his breeding career in Sweden with just a handful of broodmares, he has since expanded his operation to Concord Stud Farm in Cream Ridge, New Jersey. He currently has 30 broodmares at Concord Stud Farm. Order By Stable bred three of the top four sellers on the opening day of the Standardbred Horse sale this year. The sale topper was his Muscle Hill trotting filly Gangsta Rat out of Order By Wish sold for $550,000. Julie Meirs of Concord Stud Farm accepted the award on behalf of Stefan Balazsi. The Secretary of Agriculture, Douglas H. Fisher, and Dr. Karyn Malinowski, with Rutgers, both presented Jacqueline Ingrassia with the Governor's Trophy as Horseperson of the year, for all of her wonderful accomplishments as a horsewoman both on and off the racetrack. Ingrassia is a well-known driver, trainer, and owners in the New Jersey standardbred industry, but she also rides and shows for pleasure. The SBOANJ congratulates all of the award winners for their accomplishments in 2019.   by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

Bettor Memories, racing for owner Gus Dovi and trainer Nifty Norman won the open pace at Dover Downs on Thursday night.  Driver Dexter Dunn, waited for the early speed to settle then took the lead with Bettor Memories, cutting fractions of :26, :53.4 and 1:21.3 en route to a lifetime mark of 149.3. The victory was Dexter Dunn’s 7th victory on the night. Finishing 2nd was Little Ben with Tim Tetrick aboard.  Finishing 3rd was Owosso Flash and driver Tony Morgan. In the Blue Hen Open Handicap, Q’s Cruise, for owner Jo Ann Loney-King, trainer Jim King Jr. and their driver Tim Tetrick, won in 1:50.2  They were able to survive the fast closing charge of Slick Tony, who was 2nd for driver Dexter Dunn.  Late Mail N with Corey Callahan aboard, finished third. Trainer Jim King Jr. sent out four winners from his stable on the night.  Tim Tetrick won 5 races. Next Wednesday November 27, is the $335,000 Hap Hanson Progress Pace  .Also on the card are two $100,000 finals of the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund, for two year old filly, colt and gelding pacers. Post Time is 4:30 pm. There will be no racing on Thursday November 28th in observance of Thanksgiving. by Al Kraszewski, for Dover Downs

MILTON, ONTARIO, October 25, 2019 - Harness racing trotter Amigo Volo (Dexter Dunn) was never challenged in a wire-to-wire mile of 1:54.3, taking the the $600,000 (USD) Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Trot Final on Friday at Woodbine Mohawk Park. A quartet of trotting colts left alertly but Amigo Volo soared to the top around the first turn and led commandingly by 2 lengths to cut the first quarter in :26.4. Leading the rest of the field from second was Third Shift, with Capricornus third. The huge favorite, Real Cool Sam, was rolling in seventh through a record-breaking half of :55.3 by Amigo Volo. Third Shift struggled following as Amigo Volo raided three-quarters in 1:24, drawing away into the stretch. As Amigo Hall put 5 lengths in front of the field, Real Cool Sam's attempt to make up ground was defied by sharp-closing longshot Rome Pays Off, who nipped Chestnut Hill for second. Amigo Volo (Father Patrick--Margarita Momma) crossed the wire 4 lengths the best in 1:54.3 for trainer Richard Norman. It was Dexter Dunn's first Breeders Crown-winning drive. Bred by Kentuckiana Farms, the $42,000 yearling is owned by Pinske Stables and David Miller. Amigo Volo paid $7.10 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. From Woodbine Communications/Hambletonian Society  

DUNDAS, ON - OCT. 2, 2019 - Scoring her second straight Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series victory on Wednesday evening at Flamboro Downs, Wine Rack Hanover has established herself as one of the two-year-old harness racing trotting fillies to watch heading into the post season. Starting from the advantageous Post 1, driver Sylvain Filion wanted to control the tempo and, on her best behaviour, Wine Rack Hanover complied. The filly laid down fractions of :30, 1:00.2 and 1:31.1 and, without facing a challenge, sailed home a one and three-quarter length winner in 2:00.1. Princesspartypants finished second and Alpina was third. Fan favourite Jula Shes Magic made an early break and finished well back in fifth. "When you've got the rail on a half-mile you've got to try and hold your position and hope for the best, but I knew at from the start when she left the gate that she felt solid and I was pretty confident," said Filion. "She did it pretty easy, well in hand. She's still learning, but I mean she's come a long way from how she started off to how she is now." Wine Rack Hanover started her Ontario Sires Stakes on a strong note, winning her July 14 Grassroots division at Georgian Downs, but struggled mid-season with breaks. Filion first sat behind the Kadabra daughter when trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman re-qualified her on Sept. 17. Wine Rack Hanover won that qualifier with a 1:56.1 effort and then earned her first Gold Series win at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 24. Regular reinsman Trevor Henry was in the bike for that start but is currently in Lexington, KY, so Filion was happy to fill in for Wednesday's outing. "I had a chance to qualify her a few weeks ago and I really liked her," said Milton, ON resident Filion. "She had a tendency to make breaks, so they kind of changed the gear and she qualified real good, and then she raced good and tonight, well Trevor's gone away, so they asked me to come and drive her and I said, 'Sure, absolutely'." Norman trains Wine Rack Hanover for Pinske Stables of Plato, MN and Bridgette Jablonsky of Hanover, PA. In nine starts the filly now boasts a record of three wins and two thirds for earnings of $133,238 and heads into the Oct. 12 Super Final in fourth spot in the division standings. Warrawee Vicky will lead the two-year-old trotting fillies into the post season after scoring her third Gold Series win Wednesday. Starting from Post 4, the fan favourite tucked in third early as Trina led the field of seven to a :30 quarter and a 1:00.2 half. Heading for the 1:30.4 three-quarters driver Doug McNair sent Warrawee Vicky up the outside to the lead and although Trina went off-stride McNair kept the pedal down and Warrawee Vicky powered home to a six and one-quarter length victory in 1:59.3. Pocket-sitter She Rocks Kemp finished second and Ride To Justice recovered from an early break to be third. "She raced good last week and real good again tonight," said McNair, who was making his second appearance in Warrawee Vicky's race bike. "She's flawlessly gaited and absolutely perfect to drive. It gives you lots of options." McNair crafted the win for trainer Scott McEneny of Puslinch and owner Brad Grant of Milton, ON. In addition to Wednesday's win Warrawee Vicky was also victorious in the July 11 Gold event at Woodbine Mohawk Park and the July 24 Gold event at Grand River Raceway. In nine lifetime starts the Royalty For Life daughter boasts a record of five wins and one second for earnings of $173,265. The top 10 point earners from the regular season will now advance to the Oct. 12 Super Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Wednesday's event wrapped up Flamboro Downs' 2019 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule, which was highlighted by an Ontario Sires Stakes and track record performance by three-year-old pacing filly Sunny Dee in Gold Series action on Sept. 22. Complete results from Wednesday's program are available at Flamboro Downs Results. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

After finally getting to spend an entire winter in Florida working with his family's racehorses, Carter Pinske knew it was what he wanted to do full time. So, when the harness racing season was ready to begin, Pinske followed a group of those horses to trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman's stable, where he worked as an assistant for Norman in New Jersey, Canada, and now Kentucky. And on Thursday (Sept. 26), the 24-year-old Pinske will step out for his Grand Circuit training debut in the third division of the Bluegrass Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters with Amigo Volo at Lexington's Red Mile. The gelding, who heads to the race off a second-place finish behind Real Cool Sam in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind Kentucky Sire Stakes champ Ready For Moni. Amigo Volo is owned by Pinske Stables, headed by Pinske's father Karl and grandmother Marlys, and Florida's David J. Miller. With Pinske already in Kentucky with the horse, Norman decided it was time for him to take the reins. "He's been real generous to let me do that," Pinkse said. "I'm very fortunate to have these owners trust me with the horses in Florida and then be completely fine with whatever Nifty decides along with myself. They're great owners and I've been really fortunate all the way around." Prior to this past winter, Pinske helped prepare the family's horses for racing by assisting as much as time permitted around his school schedule. Pinske graduated from college in May 2018 and was happy to get a full winter with the horses in Florida before sending them to Norman as well as trainer Julie Miller, as he had done in previous years. "I went to Florida wanting to train horses, but I didn't know it would blossom like this," Pinske said. "This year, I sent 14 horses to Nifty and I went with them. He's just an awesome guy to learn from. He puts full trust in you and lets you take off. He's a really smart guy with a horse; he's got a really good way with a horse. Just being around him, it just kind of vibrates off him. "I'm extremely appreciative of Nifty. It's a partnership that's not going anywhere." Amigo Volo, by Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma, was purchased for $42,000 at last fall's Lexington Selected Sale. He is a full brother to Reign Of Honor, who won last year's Kindergarten Classic Series championship for Norman's stable. In August, Amigo Volo won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in 1:54.4 at Harrah's Philadelphia, setting the world record for a 2-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile track. Real Cool Sam, who is undefeated in eight races this year, lowered the record to 1:53.4 when he won the PASS championship at the same track. "He went a really big mile," Pinske said about Amigo Volo's runner-up effort in the sire stakes final. "He had to do a lot of the grunt work and Real Cool Sam got a great trip. I thought we might have him there, but (Real Cool Sam) is just a game horse, a tough one to beat." For the year, Amigo Volo has won two of six races and earned $115,896. "He's just an awesome horse to be around," Pinske said. "He's a little horse, a little spitfire of a horse. I had to be real patient with him down in Florida. He always showed talent, he just lacked maturity. According to Nifty, that's about how the full brother, Reign Of Honor, was when he trained down. That's why we ended up gelding him. But he always showed talent and now has finally gotten to show it here. He's a really big-gaited horse for the size he is." Expectations, who finished second in the Kentucky Sire Stakes final, is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the first Bluegrass division. Capricornus, who finished second in the William Wellwood Memorial, is the 2-1 choice in the second. Both horses are from the stable of trainer Marcus Melander. Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Thursday at Red Mile. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

CHESTER, PA - The Explosive Matter mare Pat Matters ran her harness racing record to 4-for-5 since joining the Nifty Norman barn in winning the $17,500 featured trot in 1:52.2 on Sunday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. George Napolitano Jr. was on the move after a :26.4 opening quarter with the four-year-old to gain the top, and she rolled on to midrace fractions of :55.1 and 1:23.1. In her last start at Philadelphia, a 1:52.2 clocking enabled her to draw away from her competition; here Scioto shipper What's The Word made her stay to task to record a 1¼ length victory, with Henderson Seelster, who made a break early, came from far out of it to be only another neck back at the finish. The 1:52.2 clocking equaled the lifetime mark that Pat Matters had established in her previous start. Since teaming with Norman for the Patricia Stable, the mare has lost only in a Miss Versatility leg against the likes of Hannelore Hanover. In the trotting division of $17,000 co-features, Explosivebreakaway, a sophomore altered son of Explosive Matter and a full brother to Phaetosive, regained his winning ways with a good two-move victory from the outside post eight in a lifetime mark 1:54.1. Tom Jackson rallied the three-year-old wide off the final turn and went on to a length victory over Captain Morgan for trainer Fred Grant, also co-owner with Janice Rubin, Steve Katz, and Murray Brown, as Explosivematter won for the seventh time in fourteen career starts. In the pacing section, the American Ideal gelding JK Musicman was involved in tough early fractions, but he had enough capacity to maintain his advantage and lower his mark to 1:51.2, staying 1½ lengths ahead of rallying favorite Trump That. Eric Carlson drove the Gilbert Garcia-Herrera trainee for owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

MILTON, ON - September 14, 2019 - Evident Beauty overcame a post-ten starting spot to score a 9/1 upset victory in Saturday night's Elegantimage harness racing stake at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   The Richard 'Nifty' Norman trainee capitalized off a great steer from driver David Miller to rally from third-over at the head of the lane for a 1:53 victory in the $376,000 event for three-year-old trotting fillies.   "I thought I better got forward with her some and it actually worked out great," said Miller. "They were working pretty hard up front and I felt pretty good in the last turn."   Evident Beauty left from post-ten and got away seventh, while an early lead shuffle settled with The Ice Dutchess leading the field up to the half in :55.3. When Dovescry came first up on the far turn, providing cover for Only Take Cash and Evident Beauty.   The three-quarter time popped up 1:24.1 with The Ice Dutchess surrendering the lead to the outside pressure.   When Dovescry moved to the lead momentarily, but Only Take Cash muscled by her with victory in her sights. However, Evident Beauty was full of the most trot and powered by on the far outside for a half-length victory. Only Take Cash was second, while When Dovescry was third and Princess Deo fourth.   Evident Beauty   Evident Beauty made a costly break in last week's Simcoe Stakes and entered the Elegantimage with miscues in two of her last four starts. Miller noted a solution the connections came up with that may have played a role in the victory.   "We really can't figure out why she's doing that, but we watched her Hambletonian Oaks replay and last week's and every time I pull the ear plugs she takes off running," explained Miller. "Tonight they didn't put a string on there."   A daughter of Trixton, Evident Beauty improved to six for 11 on the season with her ninth career victory. She now has $753,463 earned for owners Mel Hartman, Little E LLC and R A W Equine Inc.   Evident Beauty paid $21.40 to win.   by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

Before harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter went on his record run of five consecutive Hambletonian Oaks wins, Richard "Nifty" Norman posted back-to-back victories in the sport's premier race for 3-year-old female trotters. Norman could become only the fourth trainer in history to collect three trophies if all goes well for Evident Beauty the next two weekends. "This is the race you circle on the calendar," Norman said. "These next two weeks are the weeks you want to race your horses at The Meadowlands; it's something to look forward to. "We're here, we'll just let the chips fall where they may." Evident Beauty was among 19 horses entered in the Hambletonian Oaks at The Meadowlands. Two $50,000 eliminations will be contested Saturday (July 27) with the top-five finishers from each division returning on Aug. 3 for the $500,000 final. Elimination winners will draw for posts one through five for the final. The first Oaks elimination features four of the five fastest 3-year-old filly trotters of the season: Millies Possesion (1:51.1), Seaside Bliss (1:51.4), Golden Tricks (1:52.2) and Evident Beauty (1:52.3). The remaining horse in the quintet, The Ice Dutchess (1:52), is in the second elimination. Evident Beauty has won four of five races this year and seven of 14 lifetime, missing the board only twice in her career. Her victories this season include the New Jersey Sire Stakes final and a division of the Delvin Miller Memorial, which came in her most recent start on July 13, also at The Meadowlands. "Everything has gone to plan so far," said Norman, who trains the filly for owners Mel Hartman, Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, and Wayne Giles' R A W Equine Inc. "Hopefully we get to race two weeks in a row here. She seems good, she's been good all year, so we'll hope she's still good." Evident Beauty showed a new aspect to her game in the Miller, leading for much of the way in her neck triumph over Cloud Nine Fashion. It was only the second time in her career that she led a race prior to the stretch. "Obviously, that's not her forte; she's better from off a helmet," Norman said. "That's her go really. She loves to chase a horse down. But then the fact she was able to leave the race before, she showed she could race either way, so I think that's a big help. "She's a good honest horse, hardly ever makes a mistake. I wouldn't swap her for anybody." Norman won his previous Oaks finals with Bee A Magician in 2013 and Personal Style in 2012. The only trainers with more than two Hambletonian Oaks wins are Takter (eight), Jan Johnson (six), and Glen Garnsey (three). Millies Possesion, who was unraced at age 2, heads to the first elimination undefeated in seven lifetime races. She is trained by Jim Campbell, who won the 2009 Hambletonian Oaks with Broadway Schooner. Another Oaks winning trainer, recent Hall of Fame inductee Joe Holloway, sends out Starita, also in the first elim. "I'm very impressed with Jim Campbell's horse," Norman said. "She's come from zero to hero. She probably looks like the best filly in the country at the moment. I like mine because she can race first over, in the front, from the back, and (Millies Possesion) is the same. She looks like she can do it any way." Millies Possesion Rounding out the first elimination are Asiago, Sonnet Grace, Queen Of Trixs, and Grimmie Hanover. "Someone good is probably going to miss out," Norman said. "It's a very strong division. It might be good for (Evident Beauty) in a way because they might race a little bit harder and that's right up her alley. You can't win from the outside (posts) if you get back. They're good horses and I'm sure they're going to be heading out of there. It could be a real tough race." The second elimination features The Ice Dutchess, who won two of last season's most lucrative stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters, the Jim Doherty Memorial and Peaceful Way. She was trained by Takter, who retired at the end of last season, and is now in the stable of Nancy Johansson. In addition, the group includes 2018 Matron Stakes winner When Dovescry and open stakes winners Cloud Nine Fashion and Princess Deo. Following are the fields for the $50,000 Hambletonian Oaks eliminations. ELIMINATION ONE PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer 1 - Evident Beauty - Trixton - David Miller - R. Nifty Norman 2 - Starita - Trixton - Brian Sears - Joe Holloway 3 - Seaside Bliss - Cantab Hall - Scott Zeron - Paul Kelley 4 - Asiago - Muscle Hill - Tim Tetrick - Per Engblom 5 - Sonnet Grace - Muscle Massive - David Miller - Ron Burke 6 - Queen Of Trixs - Trixton - Andy McCarthy - Lucas Wallin 7 - Grimmie Hanover - Cantab Hall - Tim Tetrick - Jeff Cullipher 8 - Millies Possesion - Possess The Will - Dexter Dunn - Jim Campbell 9 - Golden Tricks - Trixton - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt   ELIMINATION TWO PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer 1 - Miss Trixton - Trixton - Brian Sears - Marcus Melander 2 - Sweet Chapter - Chapter Seven - Matt Kakaley - Blake MacIntosh 3 - Beautiful Sin - Muscle Hill - Dexter Dunn - Per Engblom 4 - Cloud Nine Fashion - Muscle Hill - Tim Tetrick - Jim Campbell 5 - When Dovescry - Muscle Hill - Simon Allard - Rene Allard 6 - Southwind Casha - Cantab Hall - Tim Tetrick - John Bax 7 - Personal Paradise - Muscle Hill - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt 8 - The Ice Dutchess - Muscle Hill - Yannick Gingras - Nancy Johansson 9 - American Kronos - Donato Hanover - Andy Miller - Julie Miller 10 - Princess Deo - Trixton - Andy McCarthy - Lucas Wallin by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager    

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Delightfulmemphis wheeled first-over on heavy favorite Bettor Joy in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series first leg March 15, harness racing trainer Nifty Norman didn’t have high hopes. As rain poured down and the track quickly changed from fast to sloppy, Bettor Joy brushed to the front and cruised untested through a half in :56.1. With Jason Bartlett’s whip on her tail, Delightfulmemphis worked within 1 ½ lengths passing the three-quarters, but appeared to stall around the final turn as Tim Tetrick confidently handled the leader. “I was quite happy to be second, I thought that would be just fine; come first-over and finish second, that would be great,” Norman said. “I knew that other mare was a very nice mare and I didn’t expect to beat her.” Luckily for Norman, Bartlett didn’t concede that easily. Turning for home, the track’s leading driver kicked out the plugs and went to a strong right-handed stick. Delightfulmemphis straightened out, bore down, and inched closer and closer. The mares crossed the wire together and Delightfulmemphis got her nose in front in time to win the $40,000 series split. “I thought it was fantastic. I thought turning for home, she had no shot, but she’s one of those horses who can just hang around and stay close,” Norman said. “Once she’s in the straights, she gets wound up a little bit and right at the wire, she just lunged at that other mare. Jason said on the turns, she struggles a little bit, loses a little ground, but if you can just keep within half-a-length of another horse, she tries like hell.” Despite her first-leg series win, which boosted her seasonal record to 5-for-8 with $92,250 earned, the most of any horse so far this season, the Matchmaker wasn’t Delighfulmemphis’ target all along.  Since she began her stateside career for Norman last July, the Australian Group 3 winner and Group 1 and 2 placed mare racked up wins in the conditioned ranks and Harrah’s Philadelphia and the Meadowlands. However, the Bettor’s Delight daughter was 0-for-6 at Yonkers, including two tries in the distaff open. “To be honest, I thought she was probably a big track horse,” Norman said. “I thought she was a closer and I thought you’d have to race her at the Meadowlands or Mohawk. I raced her at Yonkers a couple times and she got around it pretty good. I still don’t really think it’s her forte because she likes to get home good. She’s not a great front-runner, which was sort of against her at Yonkers; she’s a little bit lazy in front. But Jason has done a good job driving her. Because of Jason’s help, she’s worked it out and if you don’t use her too hard early, she can really come a good back three-quarters. “I didn’t think she was a Matchmaker horse, really, but she’s gotten better and better.” The turning point came February 1 when Delightfulmemphis scored her first local victory in a $29,000 overnight. The uncharacteristic front-stepping win prompted Norman to nominate her to the series, which closed February 15. Delightfulmemphis won her first local feature that evening and finished second in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap March 8. “I only sent the check in right before they were due,” Norman remembered. “She won a non-winners of $30,000 the week before and I said, ‘you know what, why not?’ You might as well be in it and she had just won, so that helped pay for the starting fee, so that’s when I decided.” Although she established herself as one to watch with her first-leg win, Delightfulmemphis will still have her work cut out for her in week two. She drew post two in the fourth and final division Friday night (March 22), which features fellow first-leg victors Shartin and Seaswift Joy, who drew posts eight and seven, respectively. Feelin Red Hot finished second to Seaswift Joy last week and drew post five while Obvious Blue Chip, compromised by post seven last out, will start along the pylons. Dudesalady, Angel’s Pride, and Sell A Bit complete the lineup.  “It’s a good race. Obviously Shartin is probably the best mare in the country, so she’s tough to beat any time. I think we’re in a good spot there with post two to not do too much work early and just hope we can get a good run at the end and pick up a good check,” Norman said. “Apart from Shartin, I think she’s probably competitive with most of the others. It’s a tough series. I’d actually like to get another top-two finish so you could maybe give her a week off somewhere along the way. Having a good draw helps, so we’ll just see how it works out.” Friday night’s card features four divisions of the Matchmaker Series Second Leg while the George Morton Levy Series goes with six splits Saturday, March 23. Monday night’s card features the $58,000 Petticoat Series Final and the $60,200 Sagamore Hill finale goes Tuesday night. Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

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