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

Centurion ATM is the type of horse that seems ready to step up when it's time to race. The 2-year-old trotter didn't do much to impress trainer Ake Svanstedt before beginning his rookie campaign, but Svanstedt has been happy with the colt since he started going behind the gate. Last week, Centurion ATM won the single elimination for the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial by 3-1/2 lengths over Uncle Lasse in 1:54.2. It was Centurion ATM's first victory after second-place finishes in his first two races. "He's a racehorse," Svanstedt said. "He trained from the beginning and he was a normal horse until he qualified. Then he was something special. Before the qualifier, he did the job and was a nice and friendly horse, but he was nothing special. He loves to race." Centurion ATM will start the Haughton Memorial from post one, with Svanstedt handling the driving, as usual. The colt is 3-1 on the morning line, which makes him the third choice behind New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Guess Whos Back (2-1) and NJSS runner-up Canepa Hanover (5-2), who received byes to the final. The race is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Centurion ATM is a son of SJ's Caviar out of the mare ENS Tag Session. He was purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale and is a full brother to stakes-winner Triumphant Caviar. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting and Courant AB. "I hope he can do a good race," Svanstedt said. "If everything is normal, he can do a good race. I think he has potential. We'll see." Svanstedt, who was Sweden's Trainer of the Year five times and Driver of the Year on three occasions, will have nine horses racing on Saturday's card. "Absolutely, I'm looking forward to it," he said. In addition to Centurion ATM, he sends out Amicus in the Haughton plus Doncango in the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, Heaven's Door in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, Sebastian K and Your So Vain in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, Home Front and DD's Hitman in $50,000 divisions of the Townsend Ackerman for 3-year-old trotters, and Blixtra in the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey for 3-year-old female pacers. Sebastian K, the fastest trotter in harness racing history thanks to his 1:49 mile at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in June, is the 3-5 favorite in the Cashman Memorial. He has won six of seven races this year and is coming off a 3-1/4 length triumph over Mister Herbie in 1:51 in his Cashman elimination. "Everything was good in the last race," Svanstedt said. "And he loves the Meadowlands and the big track. He feels very good at the Meadowlands. He is a different horse at the Meadowlands." Sebastian K's only loss came by a nose to Intimidate in the Maple Leaf Trot on a sloppy track at Mohawk. "He didn't win in Canada, I think he left too fast and the track was very heavy," Svanstedt said. "We opened in :26.4 in the first quarter and that's too fast on that heavy a track, so he would be tired. He was tired, but he lost by just a nose, so he was good. He fought." Svanstedt did not plan to train Sebastian K during the week. "He is just going to go in the paddock every day for the whole day," Svanstedt said. "This is four weeks [of racing] in a row and he's never done that before. It's very different for him. But I'm not worried because he felt so good in the last race." Heaven's Door is the 9-2 third choice in the Hambletonian Oaks, behind world champion Designed To Be (2-1) and Delvin Miller Memorial winner Shake It Cerry (5-2). Heaven's Door has won two of five races this year, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly trotters, and finished second in the Miller. "There are tough horses in there, but I have a good horse too," Svanstedt said. "She has everything. She pulls a little, but she is getting better with that. Some races she pulls a lot and I cannot drive slowly. The one time [in a race in May] she galloped at the start because she is pulling so much. But she is getting better." Doncango, a 20-1 longshot in the Hambletonian, has only raced once this year - winning in 1:54 - after battling leg woes throughout the winter. "It's tough for him," Svanstedt said. "We had a lot of problems with him at the beginning. But he trained tough and feels good. He's trained three months without problems and feels sound. "If he can earn money, we'll be really happy." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Hanover Colt Stakes and Hanover Filly Stakes, Balmoral Park, Crete, Ill; and Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off this Friday (Aug. 1) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt trotters and 2-year-old filly trotters. There will be three $10,000 divisions for the colts and five $10,000 divisions for the fillies. The big Saturday afternoon (Aug. 2) program is led by the $1,006,125 Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $300,650 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, the $177,750 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters. Also on Saturday, Balmoral Park will host the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Sunday (Aug. 3) the Crete oval will feature the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. Tioga Downs on Sunday will feature the $78,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $67,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Confronted by a challenger who would not go away, 1-5 favorite McWicked dug in, blazed the back half in an amazing :53.2 and captured this past Saturday's (July 26) $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light at The Meadows. McWicked held off Somewhere In L A at the wire to win the Delvin Miller Adios. With the 1:49.1 victory, Casie Coleman, who conditions McWicked for S S G Stables, became the first female trainer to win an Adios final in the 48-year-history of this important test for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Leaving from post two, David Miller was able to give McWicked a rather leisurely half in :55.4 on the front. When Brett Miller moved Somewhere In L A uncovered down the backside and the pair looked McWicked in the eye, the battle was on. However, McWicked edged away in deep stretch to triumph in 1:49.1, a length better than his gallant rival. Cammikey was a ground-saving third. With the win, McWicked pushed his career bankroll to $798,447 and extended a prolonged roll that has seen him sweep the eliminations and final of the Max Hempt Memorial and the Adios. Many of the sport's stars were out on Saturday night at The Meadowlands and none were brighter than Archangel who won the first elimination for the John Cashman, Jr. Memorial trot in a world record 1:50. The mile broke a six-way tie for the fastest mile ever by a trotter on a mile track. Yannick Gingras sent the handsome 5-year-old millionaire son of Credit Winner out fast for the lead with a wicked :26.1 opening quarter then set even fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.3 in the record mile. Archangel was a geared down 1-3/4 length winner over Intimidate with Market Share third. Your So Vain and Sevruga rounded out the qualifiers from this elimination for this Saturday's Cashman final. Ron Burke trains the winner for Legendary Standardbred Farm and Claire Semer. Sebastian K was back to his winning ways in the second elimination for Ake Svanstedt with an easy three length score in 1:51. The race began with Creatine flying off the wings from the outside for Mike Lachance and clearing Sebastian K as they reached the quarter in a dazzling :26. The pace slowed abruptly when Lachance took up on the lead and Svanstedt was forced to yank Sebastian K out quickly before Mister Herbie could get the jump on him from third. He got out, though the judges flashed the inquiry sign and reviewed the move, and was back to the top. Sweet Justice mounted a final turn challenge but was rebuffed with a :27.3 final quarter. Mister Herbie split horses late to be second, Uncle Peter was third in his return to US soil, Appomattox a solid fourth and Arch Madness captured the final berth in this week's race. The winner is trained in the Svanstedt barn for Knutsson Trotting and was winning for the sixth time this year in seven tries. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 509; 2. Tim Tetrick - 443; 3. Ron Pierce - 307; 4t. Brian Sears - 205; 4t. David Miller - 205. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 884.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 444; 3t. PJ Fraley - 189; 3t. Ray Schnittker - 189; 5. Joe Holloway - 154. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 206.75; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 188; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. S S G Stables - 80. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at The Meadows with the Currier & Ives for 3-year-old colt trotters; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for older pacers; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Two years ago, Marcus Miller spent part of Hambletonian Day driving in harness races at the Logan County Fair in his native state of Illinois. Last year, he watched the Hambletonian Day card from his new home in Pennsylvania before heading to work that night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. This year, Hambletonian Day will have a different feel entirely. Miller will be part of the show. Miller is driving on Saturday's Hambletonian Day card at the Meadowlands Racetrack, with his top assignment coming behind Cee Bee Yes in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters. "I'm very excited," Miller said. "She's a really nice filly. She's the kind of filly that if things work out, she's got the talent to get there." In June, the 25-year-old Miller got career win No. 2,000. A few weeks later, Miller drove in his biggest race to date, the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace, and guided Jet Airway to a fifth-place finish for his father, trainer Erv Miller. "Hopefully one of these days I'll win a race like that," said Miller, who won multiple driving titles on the Chicago circuit before moving east in spring 2013, before adding with a grin, "Maybe it'll be this one. "I'm happy with this summer," he added. "Last year I was brand new out here and now I'm meeting people and I'm getting drives for good trainers and good owners that didn't even know me two years ago. I'm getting a lot more drives." Miller, who also will drive SS Poseidon for his father in Saturday's Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, got his first win in 2004 and won a career-best 501 races in 2011. His career high of $3.14 million in purses followed in 2012 and last year he missed a third consecutive $3 million-season by less than $50,000. This year, he has 108 wins and $1.70 million in purses. He guided Cee Bee Yes to victory in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second in the $100,000 championship. Miller and the filly finished fifth in last weekend's Hambletonian Oaks prep, beaten by two lengths. Cee Bee Yes (Muscles Yankee-Enbeecee) has won two of seven races this year and six of 18 in her career, with $268,182 in earnings. She was the 2013 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion. The filly is owned by Jason and Doug Allen. She is trained by Julie Miller, whose husband Andy is Erv Miller's brother and Marcus' uncle. "She was a little better [in the prep] than she was in her last start," Miller said. "Hopefully she can take one more step and if something crazy happens, I think we can be close." Cee Bee Yes is one of three fillies in the Hambletonian Oaks for Julie Miller. She also sends out world champion Designed To Be and stakes-winner Take The Money. "She's my sleeper," Julie said about Cee Bee Yes. "She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

July 27, 2014 – The Meadow’s Adios Card is in the books and at the end of the day Handicapper Ray Cotolo reigned supreme for the week in HANA Harness’ Grand Circuit Handicapping Shoot-Out Contest with a weekly net profit of $305, nearly $100 ahead of his closest opponent.     While Cotolo is a newcomer to the list of weekly winners, Bob Zanakis continues his run as overall leader with a combined net profit of $3,000.70 ($140 for the week), leading second place Brandon Valvo by $607.20. This week, the adage it only takes one hit to make you a winner applies as Cotolo’s victory came thanks to a single wager, a $150 win wager on Allstar Rating in the Adioo Volo which returned a $705 dividend.  Other handicappers had winners, but due to the short-priced nature of the card, significant winners were at a premium, amongst them were: Derick Giwner’s $150 Win ticket on Too Darn Hot in the second division of the Adren Downs 2yo C&G pace paid $480; Mark McKelvie’s $50 Win ticket on Rich Wisdom in the first division of the Arden Downs for 2yo C& G pacers paid $195; Rusty Nash’s $100 wager on the same horse paid $390; Dennis O’Hara ‘s $10 Exacta part wheel ($30 total) in the first division of the Arden Downs for 3yo Filly trotters returned $125; Josie Verlingierli $40 straight wager on the second division of the Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace, earned $156; Gordon Waterstone’s $50 Exacta in the third division of Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace which returned $115. As the Hambletonian marks the unofficial mid-point in the stakes season, the standings for the Handicapper Shoot-Out at the mid-point are: As of July 26, 2014 - Leg 19 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis $140.00 $3,000.70   2nd Brandon Valvo $50.00 $2,393.50 $607.20 3rd Derick Giwner $206.00 $623.17 $2,377.53 4th Ray Garnett ($218.00) $15.85 $2,984.85 5th Mark McKelvie ($119.50) ($91.50) $3,092.20 6th Brian McEvoy $7.50 ($185.00) $3,185.70 7th Earl Paulson ($71.00) ($437.00) $3,437.70 8th Josi Verlingieri ($126.00) ($956.40) $3,957.10 9th Gordon Waterstone $108.60 ($989.30) $3,990.00 10th Ann Stepien ($189.00) ($1,020.11) $4,020.81 11th Garnet Barnsdale ($280.00) ($1,078.00) $4,078.70 12th Sally Hinckley ($400.00) ($1,325.00) $4,325.70 13th Rusty Nash $160.00 ($1,712.40) $4,713.10 14th Dennis O'Hara $30.50 ($2,097.70) $5,098.40 15th Ray Cotolo $305.00 ($3,398.40) $6,399.10 This week, the Grand Circuit Handicapper Shoot-Out visits Meadowlands Racing & Gaming for the Hambletonian Day card amongst which are the $1.2 million Hambletonian, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, $352,050 Merrie Annabelle, $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial, $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship, $177,750 Lady Liberty, and $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial.  For more information regarding the handicapping contest, please visit http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com.   by Allan Schott, for HANA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

East Rutherford, N.J. - Friday night at the Meadowlands celebrated the remarkable career of Cat Manzi with that Hall Of Famer meeting fans then joining friends and family for a night at the races. On the track, the night featured the eliminations for the top freshman trotting stakes of the 2014 Championship Meet, the Peter Haughton Memorial colt stake and the Merrie Annabelle for the fairer sex. The Peter Haughton required a single elimination of ten colts after three of the top seasonal earners accepted a bye into next week's $355,500 final. The first seven in the official order of finish would move on. Centurion ATM was the 1:54.2 winner here for trainer driver Ake Svanstedt. The SJ's Caviar colt settled in fourth early as his stable-mate Amicus and The Bank took turns on the lead through early splits of 28.2 and 57.2. Ake steered Centurion ATM over into the passing lane as the field trotted 'round the final bend and as he headed The Bank, that one went offstride, leaving the winner to an open length lead. At the wire it was Centurion ATM trotting home in :28 flat to be clear by three and a half lengths over Uncle Lasse with Cruzado Dela Noche third. The winner is co-owned by European interests Courant AB and Knutsson Trotting. Trainer / driver Svanstedt has had a clear impact on the scene this summer, his first in the US after moving his entire operation from Sweden. With his experience in Europe primarily training older horses, Ake has adjusted quickly to the American emphasis on early speed and clearly will be a player throughout the stakes season. The eliminated horses were The Bank, Broken Record and True Blue Stride. Joining the qualifiers for next Saturday's Hambletonian Day final will be Canepa Hanover, Guess Who's Back and Honor And Serve. Lock Down Lindy won the first of two Merrie Annabelle eliminations for the potent Tony Alagna / Scott Zeron combination in a personal best of 1:55. Zeron held the first crop Lucky Chucky filly behind cover from the three eighths forward as race favorite Gatka Hanover cut the mile after working hard to get the lead. Fanning wide in the drive, Lock Down Lindy went by willingly as Zeron rode along confidently through her personal sub 28 final quarter for the half-length score. Gatka Hanover held the place with Love Me Madly third. Lilu Hanover and Wordie Hanover took the final spots for next Saturday's $352,500 final. The winner is owned by Mystical Marker Farms, Crawford Partners, Joe Sbrocco and In The Gym Partners who bought the filly from Love Lockdown for $60,000 last fall in Lexington. The wickedly fast Mission Brief won the second elim in the dominant, front end style she has displayed for the past few weeks, this time in a track record 1:53.2. The Muscle Hill filly has a remarkable turn of foot and can carry that high speed, tacking a 27.3 final stanza on the record mile and was five lengths clear of the field at the wire with driver Gingras saying whoa the whole way. Jolene Jolene was second and Onda Di Mare third while Livininthefastlane and Sarcy both moved up a position into the final by the disqualification of Flirting Filly from fourth for a pylon violation. Mission Brief's dam is Breeders Crown winner Southwind Serena. Trainer Ron Burke as Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva and Our Horse Cents Stables were compelled to pay $150,000 for the filly as a yearling last fall in Kentucky. She certainly looks like a bargain at this point. Yannick reported post-race, "She was much more rateable this week. She's figuring things out and I'm figuring her out. She's got it all." The twelfth race was the $20,000 second leg of the Ima Lula series for mare trotters aged four years and Classic Martine was a courageous winner in 1:51.2. Bee A Magician asserted herself from rail position and insisted on the lead early for Brian Sears, forcing leavers NF Happenstance and Classic Martine to take a tuck toward the 26.4 quarter. Sears was able to give his charge a nice breather in the middle half as Tim Tetrick moved Classic Martine to the outside for a long, uncovered grind. When the two met in mid-stretch, it was Classic Martine with more and she edged clear late, tacking a 26.4 final quarter on the mile, which was a mere fifth of a second from Bee A Magician's world record of a fortnight ago. The winner has now won six of eight starts for earnings of $195,732 and has the five-eighths mile world record of 1:51.2 on her resume this season. She is trained in the Chris Oakes stable for Hauser Bros Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich and Ed Gold. The night began with the well-bred three year old trotting colt Royal Ice taking advantage of an absolutely delightful evening to break maiden in a dazzling 1:51.3. Only Hollywood Heyden might be able to intelligently address the topic, but it's fairly safe to say that was the fastest any trotter has ever left the maiden ranks. The meet's leading driver Yannick Gingras was aboard for the first time on the son of Muscle Hill from The Ice Queen and he just went to the front and improved his position to an eventual eight length victory. Trond Smedshammer trains the colt (who may have just become an instant Hambletonian contender) for Marc Goldberg. An added bonus after race two was the second leg of the Racing Under Saddle series with seven trotters facing starter Danny Dale for a $10,000 purse. Stephanie Werder has come from her native Sweden to compete in the series, which culminates with a $28,000 final next Friday and she rode her mount O U Gus to a 1:59.4 win in tonight's race. Stephanie sat just behind the lead of Chinese Cuisine and Tina Duer and was patient when one of last week's winners, Flowing James and Tara Hynes moved swiftly toward the lead and sat quietly until an opening appeared mid-stretch for the win. Live racing resumes tomorrow night at 7:15 with the John Cashman Memorial FFA trot eliminations headlining the card. Find tomorrow's entries, tonight's results and video replays by visiting The Meadowlands website. Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations

Friday night at the Meadowlands featured the eliminations for the top freshman trotting stakes of the 2014 Championship Meet, the Peter Haughton Memorial colt stake and the Merrie Annabelle for the fairer sex. The Peter Haughton required a single elimination of ten colts after three of the top seasonal earners accepted a bye into next week's $355,500 final. The first seven in the official order of finish would move on. Centurion ATM was the 1:54.2 winner here for trainer driver Ake Svanstedt. The SJ's Caviar colt settled in fourth early as his stable-mate Amicus and The Bank took turns on the lead through early splits of 28.2 and 57.2. Ake steered Centurion ATM over into the passing lane as the field trotted 'round the final bend and as he headed The Bank, that one went offstride, leaving the winner to an open length lead. At the wire it was Centurion ATM trotting home in :28 flat to be clear by three and a half lengths over Uncle Lasse with Cruzado Dela Noche third. The winner is co-owned by European interests Courant AB and Knutsson Trotting. Trainer / driver Svanstedt has had a clear impact on the scene this summer, his first in the US after moving his entire operation from Sweden. With his experience in Europe primarily training older horses, Ake has adjusted quickly to the American emphasis on early speed and clearly will be a player throughout the stakes season. The eliminated horses were The Bank, Broken Record and True Blue Stride. Joining the qualifiers for next Saturday's Hambletonian Day final will be Canepa Hanover, Guess Who's Back and Honor And Serve. The night began with the well-bred three-year-old trotting colt Royal Ice taking advantage of an absolutely delightful evening to break his maiden in a dazzling 1:51.3.  The meet's leading driver Yannick Gingras was aboard for the first time on the son of Muscle Hill from the mare The Ice Queen and he just went to the front and improved his position to an eventual eight length victory. Trond Smedshammer trains the colt (who may have just become an instant Hambletonian contender for next weeks classic), He is owned by Marc Goldberg. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

Trainer Tony Alagna hopes Rare Gift delivered a special present in the form of 2-year-old colt trotter Gifted Way. Gifted Way, a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Rare Gift, was purchased for $170,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale. Gifted Way makes his third start Friday in the single elimination for the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. The colt is owned by Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco, Little E LLC, and Deo Volente Farms. Gifted Way is part of a four-horse entry in the Haughton elim, along with Jimmy Takter-trained Special Action, The Bank, and Uncle Lasse. The group is 3-5 on the morning line. Rounding out the horses in the elim, from which the top seven finishers advance to the $280,000 estimated final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, are Ake Svanstedt's Centurion ATM and Amicus, Ray Schnittker's Broken Record, Erv Miller's SS Poseidon, Nancy Johansson's Cruzado Dela Noche, and Mark Harder's True Blue Stride. Three horses received byes to the final: Takter's Canepa Hanover, Nik Drennan's Guess Whos Back, and Jim Campbell's Honor And Serve. Gifted Way won his debut, a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars, on July 4 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He went off stride at the start in his second race, which was won by Canepa Hanover, on July 18 at the Meadowlands. "He's a nice colt," Alagna said. "When the gate left the other night, he just got off on the wrong foot and made a break, which he hadn't done before. He trotted good after making the break, came out of the race fine, and trained back good [Tuesday]. I think we're set for the elimination on Friday night." Gifted Way is Rare Gift's fourth foal, and first by Cantab Hall, who was the sport's leading trotting sire in 2012 and 2013. Rare Gift is a full sister to stakes-winner Stand Strong and a three-quarter-sister to 1996 Horse of the Year Continentalvictory and stakes-winner Victory Abroad. "The family has been a little stagnant, but this was by far the best colt the mare had thrown," Alagna said. "He's very correct. He was very athletic in the paddock. He just had everything going for him. "Cantab Hall has just been red hot the last couple years, so we thought we would take a shot. We're glad we did. I think he was the right horse." Gifted Way is not the only horse in the Haughton elim with well-known relatives. Uncle Lasse is a full brother to Shake It Cerry, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old filly trotter and a top contender in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks, and Broken Record is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. Special Action's family includes 2006 Hambletonian winner Glidemaster and The Bank's dam is millionaire Lantern Kronos. Friday's card also features two eliminations for the Merrie Annabelle Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters and the second round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

After watching Bee A Magician put together an 18-race win streak that began at age 2 and covered her entire 3-year-old season, harness racing fans wanted to know what was wrong with the 2013 Horse of the Year as she went winless in her first four starts this season. Not much, says trainer Nifty Norman, other than the fact that winning is difficult. "Lots of people have said to me that she's been no good, but only once really," Norman said. "Her first start was a great run, [second in 1:51.3] right off the bat and she had trot finishing. We kind of raced her easy in her second start and she was second; she was a little bit flat. Then she was sick, but she's been good again ever since. "People just expect her to win," he added with a chuckle. "It's not that easy; I wish it was. But I think she's been pretty solid." Bee A Magician, owned by Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee, returned to her winning ways with a world-record 1:51.1 triumph July 12 in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series at Meadowlands Racetrack. She now holds the records for fastest 3-year-old (1:51) and 4-year-old female trotters in history. She will try to make it two victories in a row when she meets six rivals in Friday's second leg of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Bee A Magician and regular driver Brian Sears will start from post one. The rest of the field in post order is Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, NF Happenstance, Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, and Classic Martine. Handover Belle won the Ima Lula's first round on July 18 by a half-length over Ma Chere Hall in 1:51.4. The $55,000 estimated final is Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day. Bee A Magician -- who has won 28 of 35 career races, finished second on four occasions, and earned $2.45 million -- was eligible to the John Cashman Jr. Memorial, but the mare's connections decided against facing the boys. She raced against her male counterparts in the Hambletonian Maturity on July 5, finishing second to Your So Vain. "I want to race her as easy as I can," Norman said. "I'll consider racing those horses again later in the year maybe, but not right now. You can't be too tough on them. You see some of the other 4-year-olds that have come back and are not what they were. It's a tough thing to do because most of them have laid it all on the line last year." As it is, racing against the mares is difficult enough. "It's a tough division; very solid," Norman said, adding about her 1:51.1 win in the most recent Miss Versatility round, "It was a good race. She didn't jog, it was a good race." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

This Week: Delvin Miller Adios final, Adioo Volo and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.; John Cashman Jr. Memorial, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial and Merrie Annabelle eliminations, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit actions kicks off this Friday (July 25) at The Meadows with four divisions in the $80,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt trotters and three divisions in the $60,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (July 26) card at The Meadows features the $400,000 Delvin Miller Adios final and $30,000 Adios consolation for 3-year-old colt pacers, a single division in the $114,175 Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, three divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt pacers, two divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly pacers, two divisions in the $65,310 Arden Downs for 3-year-old colt trotters and two divisions in the $54,952 Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters. Meadowlands Racetrack will offer four sets of elimination races this week, with all the finals slated for the Hambletonian card of Saturday (Aug. 2). On Friday, the Meadowlands will host two $20,000 eliminations in the Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters and a single $20,000 elimination in the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters. On Saturday the program will feature two $50,000 eliminations in the John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters and a single $40,000 elimination in the Lady Liberty for older pacing mares. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Intimidate, trained by Luc Blais and driven by Sylvain Filion, pulled off a 45-1 upset over the heavily favored Sebastian K in the $560,790 Maple Leaf Trot this past Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack. Intimidate won the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose over Sebastian K. Sent postward as the 1-5 favorite, Sebastian K got away in second behind post ten starter Modern Family who was sent hard to the lead over the 'sloppy' track to post an opening quarter of :26.4. In the second quarter, trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt sent Sebastian K to the lead and controlled the race through the middle half with fractions of :57.3 and 1:26.4. Intimidate got away in sixth and picked up cover in the second quarter behind Flanagan Memory and was towed around the final turn second-over and just a few lengths away from Sebastian K. In the stretch, Sebastian K continued to dig in and tried to hold off his challengers, but Intimidate in the final stride nailed the heavy favorite to win the 63rd edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in 1:54.2. Market Share, the 2013 Maple Leaf Trot winner, came off the rail and made a late charge on the far outside to finish third. The Maple Leaf Trot victory was the third win in seven starts this season for Intimidate, a 5-year-old son of Justice Hall-Fabulous Tag, owned by Determination and Judith Farrow. In other Grand Circuit action over the weekend, Clear Vision broke the Northfield Park track record for older pacing geldings, posting a 1:49.3 win in the 29th edition of the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie. Clear Vision (Western Hanover-Artistic Vision) is owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, The Panhellenic Stable and James Koran. He is trained by Ron Burke, who called upon Brett Miller to drive. Clear Vision started from post four and immediately advanced a position when Bolt The Duer made an uncharacteristic break to his inside. He was still sitting third at the :26.2 opening quarter. Miller pulled Clear Vision in the second panel and he remained first-over through times of :54.2 and 1:22. Clear Vision locked horns with pacesetter Night Pro in the last turn and bested him by two lengths in the stretch, stopping the timer at 1:49.3. Foiled Again finished third. In The Arsenal (Eric Goodell) never had an anxious moment this past Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $125,000 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace in 1:56.4. In the Arsenal opened 2-3/4 lengths on the field in and out of the final turn. A pocketed Rock N' Roll World cosmetically cut the final margin down to three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4. Third went to a stubborn Parklane Eagle. Second choice In the Arsenal, a White Birch Farm homebred son of American Ideal-Ladyotra trained by Kelvin Harrison, returned $6.30 for his second win in three seasonal/career starts. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 437; 2. Tim Tetrick - 434; 3. Ron Pierce - 292; 4. Brian Sears - 205; 5. George Brennan - 174.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 767.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 397; 3. PJ Fraley - 189; 4. Ray Schnittker - 184; 5. Joe Holloway - 152. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 177.8; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 160.3; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. Brad Grant - 79.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Meadowlands Racetrack, Balmoral Park and Tioga Downs. Meadowlands Racetrack will host nine Grand Circuit events, led by the $1.2 million Hambletonian, the first leg of Trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Balmoral Park will contest Hanover Stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters. Tioga Downs will race Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit        

Ron Burke says there will be times when 2-year-old filly trotter Mission Brief makes him exclaim with awe, "Oh my God, look what she did." He also says it's possible he will mutter the same phrase in disappointment. "It's going to be both ways," Burke said, laughing. "She's very, very fast. All along I've thought she's our most talented 2-year-old. She just has to get her brain settled down a little bit." Mission Brief was among 17 horses entered in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters at the Meadowlands. Two $20,000 eliminations will be held Friday, with the top five finishers from each division advancing to the $320,000 estimated final on Aug. 2 at the Big M. Also on Friday will be one elimination for the $280,000 estimated Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters. Three horses - Canepa Hanover, Guess Whos Back, and Honor And Serve - received byes to the final based on earnings, so the top seven finishers in the elimination will join them. Mission Brief, who so far has been the season's fastest 2-year-old trotter, is not the only Burke horse entered in the Merrie Annabelle. The sport's leading trainer also sends out Gatka Hanover, who is unbeaten in three starts. "I know there are people in my barn that think [Gatka Hanover] is better than the other filly, but I've been a Mission Brief fan the whole way," Burke said. "Hopefully they'll both make it through and they can settle it in the final." Mission Brief has won two of three races. She went off stride in her first start, but came back to win her next by 9-3/4 lengths in 1:55.1 and then captured the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship by 13-1/4 lengths in 1:53.3. A daughter of stallion Muscle Hill out of the 2007 Breeders Crown-winning mare Southwind Serena, Mission Brief was purchased as a yearling for $150,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. She is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and J&T Silva Stables. Southwind Serena is a half-sister to Southwind Spirit, a Muscle Hill-sired colt that Burke also trains. Last year at age 2, Southwind Spirit won the American-National Stakes and Kindergarten Classic final. "It was the reason we looked at Mission Brief," Burke said of the family connection. "And she was beautiful. That [$150,000] was the most we ever paid for a yearling and we thought we got a bargain." Burke hopes Mission Brief's two wins are an indication she is settling down a bit. "She seems to be getting better about her behavior," he said. "You're just going to have to hope that she picks the right times to put it all together." Gatka Hanover has won all three of her races in Pennsylvania, capturing a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars and two divisions of the sire stakes. "She's never been even challenged," Burke said. "She's done everything wrapped up." Gatka Hanover is by stallion Muscle Massive out of the dam Girlie Tough. She was purchased for $40,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is a half-sister to Heaven's Door, who was winless in four races last year at age 2, but has won the 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship and finished second in the Del Miller Memorial. "We bought [Gatka Hanover] because last year I saw Heaven's Door make breaks and just go unbelievable miles after she ran," Burke said. "You were just hoping this one would be a little calmer, and she is. Heaven's Door has come back this year and been awesome so we're thrilled to have [Gatka Hanover]." Gatka Hanover is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Tracy Hendler. The remainder of Gatka Hanover's Merrie Annabelle elimination, the first of the two divisions, has Wordie Hanover, Demons N Diamonds, Lock Down Lindy, Lilu Hanover, Love Me Madly, Smexi, and Sweet Thing. Mission Brief's split is filled by Sarcy, Flirting Filly, Onda Di Mare, Hot Start, Livininthefastlane, Jolene Jolene, Whitney Hanover, and Crazy Beautiful. "You know there are horses that have not yet shown their best miles," Burke said. "I don't think Mission Brief has seen the bottom and [Gatka Hanover] has never even been challenged. But I'm sure mine aren't the only horses sitting on miles they haven't shown yet. It's just going to be how every horse adjusts to the track." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

When harness racing trainer Ake Svanstedt announced he was leaving Sweden to compete in North America, the initial reaction of Michael Knutsson and Tristan Sjoberg, who had their star trotter Sebastian K in Svanstedt's care, was disappointment. As time passed, the brothers decided it was an opportunity. Rather than find a new trainer, they decided to send Sebastian K to the U.S. with Svanstedt. After watching Sebastian K win the first five starts of his North American campaign and trot the fastest mile in harness racing history, a 1:49 triumph in the Sun Invitational on June 28, they are happy they did. Sebastian K puts his perfect 5-for-5 record on the line in Saturday's C$603,000 Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack. The 8-year-old horse will start from post No. 1 with Svanstedt driving and is the 2-5 favorite on the morning line. Michael, 53, and Tristan, 43, race under the Knutsson Trotting Inc. stable banner. Their father, Bertil, who passed away in 2012, got the family started in harness racing some 50 years ago. Knutsson Trotting has 44 horses, counting racehorses, broodmares and foals. They have six horses in the U.S., including Sebastian K and the rare 2-year-old white pacing colt White Bliss. Four of the horses in the States are co-owned by Courant AB, including Peter Haughton Memorial hopeful Centurion ATM. The brothers operate gaming company TCS John Huxley and Knutsson Holdings AB, with Michael living in Sweden and Tristan in Singapore. They recently took time to speak and correspond with Harness Racing Communications' Ken Weingartner about their passion for racing and Sebastian K. KW: What has the experience with Sebastian K been like so far? MK: It's been absolutely amazing. I'm not surprised with the speed, to be honest, but I'm surprised that he got into it so quickly; that he's been acclimatized so quickly. We knew about his capacity. Of course, 1:49 was absolutely a blast. But we knew he would have a good shot at the old record. It was a bit of a gamble for us to move him from a good environment in Sweden where there is good money and good races, but we're adventurous. We did the right thing and we're enjoying the moment. KW: Why did you decide to send Sebastian K to the States? TS: For the adventure! And to break the world record. We knew he was fast enough to compete against the best in North America and win races, but the real carrot was breaking the world record. His best time in Sweden was 1:51 flat and that was on a five-eighths-mile track that is medium fast. We believed he could go sub-1:50 on a fast mile track so after a lot of soul-searching we decided to ship him to the States with Ake with the singular aim to break the world record. KW: Was it a tough decision? MK: That was a tough decision. It took us months. Automatically, when Ake Svanstedt declared he would move to the U.S., we thought 'Oh no, oh no,' who will train [Sebastian K]. We did not have any thoughts whatsoever to move him outside the Nordic countries because he was doing so well. But then he did a very good race during the summer and we started to speculate: How fast is he? That's what triggered the question whether to move him to the U.S. or not. Not to even try would have been cowardly. So we decided to go for it and we sure did make the right decision. We're very happy about it. KW: Was it an emotional decision? MK: It was very tough emotionally. Firstly, he's done very well in the North European races. And also not to be able to go to him anytime we want, not to see him as often and go to every race, that was emotionally very tough. KW: Did you expect to see Sebastian K do so well so quickly? TS: Yes and no. I did expect him to win races early on, but not in the effortless way he has done. He has really taken well to the U.S. climate and harness racing in general. He was always at his best in Sweden racing at sprint distance (one mile) and on fast tracks in the summer. So the racing conditions in the U.S. and Canada really suits him. KW: What do you think about the Maple Leaf Trot? TS: Apart from the Hambletonian, it is the most recognized North American harness race in Europe. We often see it as the "over there" equivalent of Sweden's Elitloppet. It is steeped in tradition, and after breaking the world record this is the race we really want to win. The younger horses do not have the same cachet here as they do [in North America]. We are drawn to the older horses, the personalities. We like personalities, even with our horses. MK: We have big, big hopes for him. So far everything looks good. He has a good history with five straight wins, so we truly hope he can pull it off. KW: How did you get started in harness racing? TS: It was the passion of our late father, Bertil, and we are carrying on his legacy. The success we are experiencing with Sebastian K is down to our father's hard work and investment over 30 years in harness racing. He started with trotters and he had immediate success with a stakes-equivalent winner in Sweden called Private Property, sired by The Prophet. From there, the barn grew every year as our father was a buyer of horses and not a seller. KW: Michael, you were with your father when Sebastian K won his first classic race [the Group I King's Trophy in Sweden] at the age of 4. What was that like? MK: That was fantastic. Deep inside, we knew there was something going with him, but he had never proven himself in a big race. That was the first big race he won and it was in our hometown of Gothenburg. It was an amazing feeling. It also was [validation] that he was a good horse. Only a few months later he was second in the European Derby for 4-year-olds. That in itself was amazing, too, to be the second best in Europe at that time. KW: What was it like to see Sebastian K win in 1:49? TS: One of the highlights of my life, save for the birth of my daughter. It was 9 a.m. in Singapore and my hand was trembling. When I calmed down I went to my wine fridge to pull out a bottle of champagne, but I realized that it was not going to be strong enough so I grabbed a bottle of 24-year old rum from Guyana instead. It was a good breakfast! My brother Michael was in Sweden and it was 3 a.m. there and we spoke for over half an hour on the phone. He told me later that he was so jacked up that he could not go to bed until 6 a.m.! It was a wonderful day for our family and our thoughts were with our father. It was very emotional. KW: What is Sebastian K's schedule for the rest of the year? TS: If he feels good after the Maple Leaf Trot we will enter him for the Cashman Memorial. After that he gets a well-earned break. The next race would tentatively be the Crawford Farms Trot at Vernon Downs, followed by Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park and Allerage at The Red Mile. He is also staked to the American-National and Dayton Derby Trot, but we have to make a decision closer to the dates. Of course, the season finale is the TVG Championship at the end of November at the Meadowlands. KW: What do you plan to do with Sebastian K after this year? TS: That is the million-dollar question. Our preference would be to combine stud duties with racing, which is the norm in Europe. I know Wishing Stone is doing just that this year in the States so it can be done. We are investigating that possibility and I am already talking to one farm about that option. But no decision has been taken yet. Sebastian K acted as a stud for some of our broodmares and he has sired six yearlings. One of them, a filly, will go under the hammer at Sweden's most prestigious yearling auction, Kolgjini Sales, in September. The dam won close to U.S.$200,000. It will be very interesting to see what price she fetches. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Father Patrick is no stranger to overcoming difficult starting spots, and no stranger to providing fantastic finishes. He did both in his most recent performance, starting from post eight at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and winning the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial in a world-record 1:50.2. Post eight produces only 6.7 percent winners at Pocono Downs, the worst figure at the five-eighths-mile oval. On Saturday night, Father Patrick will leave from post nine in the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Post nine produces 8.4 percent winners at the Big M, the second-worst percentage of the 10 starting spots on the gate. Undefeated in five races this year, and the owner of a 14-race win streak dating back to last July, Father Patrick is the 4-5 favorite on the morning line in the 12-horse field. Regular driver Yannick Gingras will be at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter, who also sends out the only other horses at less than 15-1 on the morning line: Trixton, 3-1 from the second tier's post 12, and Nuncio, 4-1 from post seven. "It will be an interesting race," Takter said. "They didn't draw good, but they're good horses so we'll see what happens. Patrick got the toughest [draw] with the nine and two horses trailing, but he can do anything you want; he's so handy." The Stanley Dancer, the final major tune-up for the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Aug. 2 at the Meadowlands, is part of a stakes-filled Saturday at the Big M. The card also includes the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace, $463,300 William R. Haughton Memorial, $213,500 Delvin Miller Memorial, $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee, $178,450 Golden Girls, and a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility Series. First race post time is 6:30 p.m. Saturday and the Haughton and Meadowlands Pace will air live beginning at 9 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Father Patrick was last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. He has won 15 of 16 career starts and earned $1.09 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group. His victories last season included the Breeders Crown, William Wellwood Memorial, and Peter Haughton Memorial, which he won by 10 lengths at the Meadowlands. He captured his Breeders Crown elimination in 1:52.1, a world-record for a 2-year-old male trotter on a five-eighths-mile track, starting from outside post No. 9 at Pocono Downs. This season, Father Patrick won a division of the Historic-Dickerson Cup and two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes before sweeping his elimination and the final of the Beal. "His win [in the Beal final] was very impressive," Takter said. "He went in (1):50.2 and Yannick didn't even ask him at all. I was a little worried going into the race that he wasn't stretched out enough. They need that. Now he's got it. It's good to have that. "Patrick is, to me, the perfect horse." Nuncio, driven by John Campbell, finished second to Father Patrick in the Beal, beaten by 2-3/4 lengths. Nuncio, who is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, has won nine of 15 career races and finished second on six occasions - with five of those runner-up efforts coming to Father Patrick. Interestingly, Nuncio's win over Father Patrick came last July 12, exactly one year to the day as the Dancer. "Don't count Nuncio out," said Takter, who trains the colt for owner Stefan Melander's Stall TZ. "He's very good. John has basically nursed him, not to get him fired up, and mentally he's 10 times better than I dreamed I was going to get him. I'm sure from the seven post John is going to test him a little bit out of the gate. He's a hell of a horse. I like his chances too." Trixton, who will be driven by Takter, has won five of six races this year and is making his first start in a race with Father Patrick and/or Nuncio. He won the Goodtimes Stakes in a Canadian-record 1:51.3 on June 14, his most recent outing, and won the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship in 1:52.1 on May 31 at the Meadowlands. He brings a five-race win streak to the Dancer, with none of those victories coming by fewer than 4-1/2 lengths. Trixton is a son of 2009 Horse of the Year Muscle Hill out of the mare Emilie Cas El, who was Canada's Horse of the Year in 1994. His family also includes past stars Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Angus Hall. "Trixton, when he has his 'A' game, we know what he can do," said Takter, who trains the colt for Brixton Medical AB and Christina Takter. "At this point, I'm sitting on three really, really good horses. I would be extremely disappointed if I don't end up winning the Hambletonian this year. My goal is to win the Hambletonian." Following is the field in post order for the Stanley Dancer Memorial with drivers, trainers, and morning line odds: 1. Muscle Network, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 15-1; 2. Martiniwithmuscle, Ron Pierce, Joseph King, 30-1; 3. Revrac Harbour, Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna, 30-1; 4. Don Dorado, Tim Tetrick, Robert Baggitt Jr., 20-1; 5. Skates N Plates, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 30-1; 6. Sumatra, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 30-1; 7. Nuncio, John Campbell, Jimmy Takter, 4-1; 8. Speak The Truth, David Miller, Linda Toscano, 30-1; 9. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 4-5; 10. Well Built, Chris Ryder, Chris Ryder, 50-1; 11. Kapow Hanover, Corey Callahan, Staffan Lind, 50-1; 12. Trixton, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 3-1. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Nuncio spent a lot of this past winter learning to use his natural talent in a more productive way, and it shows. The 3-year-old trotter, who is 3-1 from post two in Saturday's $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is undefeated in four starts in 2014 after a barn change following his 2-year-old season. New trainer Jimmy Takter concentrated on teaching the son of Andover Hall to conserve and use his speed judiciously and driver John Campbell said he's passing the course so far. Last year, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of his 10 races. This year, he's been no better than third at the halfway point of any race and not seen the lead until the stretch. "I'm very happy with the way he's been coming along," Campbell said. "He just got so aggressive and so wound up at the end of last year that you just couldn't rate him at all. That was to his detriment in a couple races and it cost him winning. Jimmy trained him from behind all winter and we've qualified him that way and raced him that way and he's started to figure it out, so I can be a little more aggressive with him at the gate. "He left a little bit last week and didn't get wound up. I'm very happy with his manners so far. He's been very relaxed and that's important because if they're worked up and you're fighting with them, you just take away energy. He's always been able to go; speed hasn't been an issue ever with him. It's more been just manageability." Nuncio won his Beal elimination last weekend by a half-length over Datsyuk in 1:52.2. His previous three wins this season all came in divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Last year, he won five of 10 races and never finished worse than second on his way to $461,074. His earnings were third most among 2-year-old trotters, behind Takter-trained colt Father Patrick and Takter-trained filly Shake It Cerry. Four of Nuncio's second-place efforts were against Father Patrick, in the eliminations and final of the Peter Haughton Memorial and elims and final of the Breeders Crown. Nuncio won the Matron Stakes and a division of the Reynolds; he also was runner-up to Muscle Network in the Valley Victory. Father Patrick, who received the 2013 Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter, also won his Beal elimination last week. He drew post No. 8 for the final and is the 5-2 morning line favorite with driver Yannick Gingras. "I'd certainly rather have the two hole than outside, that is for sure, but once we get in to the race, everybody will know at the quarter whether it's good or bad," Campbell said. "But going in to the race, I'd rather be down inside." Father Patrick won his Beal elim by 2-1/4 lengths over Harper Blue Chip in 1:52.4. He is 4-for-4 this year and brings a 13-race win streak into the Beal final. Last year, Father Patrick won 10 of 11 races, including the Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs, the Wellwood Memorial and the Peter Haughton Memorial. His only setback came against Nuncio in July. "This is the first time all year that he'll be asked to go," Gingras said. "He's more than ready after four easy starts." Saturday's stakes-laden card at Pocono Downs also includes the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers, the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older pacers, the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers, and $100,000 Sun Invitational for older trotters. Post time is 6:30 p.m. for the first race. The Sun Invitational is race No. 8 and will be followed by the four stakes. Following are Saturday's Sun Invitational and stakes fields in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: Race 8, $100,000 Sun Invitational - 1. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 10-1; 2. Sevruga, Ron Pierce, Julie Miller, 5-1; 3. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 7-2; 4. Amigo Ranger, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 12-1; 5. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-1; 6. Modern Family, Dave Palone, Daryl Bier, 3-1; 7. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 2-1. Race 9, $300,000 Lynch Memorial - 1. Uffizi Hanover, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 5-2; 2. Sayitall BB, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 5-1; 3. Also Encouraging, Brett Miller, Casie Coleman, 15-1; 4. Fancy Desire, George Napolitano Jr., Kevin Carr, 3-1; 5. Southwind Silence, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 10-1; 6. Cinamony, Corey Callahan, Alex Rice Jr., 6-1; 7. Gallie Bythe Beach, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 12-1; 8. Weeper, Dave Palone, Kelly O'Donnell, 4-1; 9. My Lady Day, Tim Tetrick, Joe Holloway, 20-1. Race 10, $500,000 Hempt Memorial - 1. Cammikey, Brian Zendt, Bill Zendt, 6-1; 2. Allstar Partner, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 12-1; 3. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman, 5-2; 4. Sometimes Said, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 4-1; 5. At Press Time, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 5-1; 6. Stevensville, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker, 20-1; 7. Bushwacker, Ron Pierce, Chris Ryder, 15-1; 8. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 3-1; 9. Limelight Beach, Brian Sears, Brian Brown, 10-1. Race 11, $500,000 Franklin Pace - 1. Bettor's Edge, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1; 2. Allstar Legend, Scott Zeron, Ron Burke, 15-1; 3. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 4. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 5-2; 5. Domethatagain, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 10-1; 6. Bolt The Duer, Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley, 5-1; 7. Captive Audience, David Miller, Corey Johnson, 20-1; 8. Captaintreacherous, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 3-1; 9. Sunshine Beach, Brian Sears, Mark Steacy, 6-1. Race 12, $500,000 Beal Jr. Memorial - 1. Amped Up Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 10-1; 2. Nuncio, John Campbell, Jimmy Takter, 3-1; 3. Harper Blue Chip, Brian Sears, Mark Steacy, 5-1; 4. Don Dorado, Tim Tetrick, Robert Baggitt Jr., 4-1; 5. Outburst, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 15-1; 6. Well Built, Jim Meittinis, Chris Ryder, 20-1; 7. Datsyuk, Charlie Norris, Charlie Norris, 6-1; 8. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2; 9. Sumatra, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 12-1. by Ellen Harvey, for Harness Racing Communications  

Father Patrick, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, makes his debut at age 3 in Wednesday's second division of the Historic-Dickerson Cup at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The 8-5 morning line favorite, Father Patrick will have regular driver Yannick Gingras in the sulky for trainer Jimmy Takter. Father Patrick, who finished last season with a nine-race win streak and captured 10 of 11 starts overall, trotted a world-record 1:52.1 mile at Pocono Downs in October. Father Patrick, who starts Wednesday from post three in a six-horse field, prepped for his first race by competing in two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, winning the second in 1:53. "He's good," Takter said. "He's coming into this race perfect. I'm really, really happy with how he looks. He's good mentally and physically. He just looks really good. I think the only thing (that can stop him) is himself in that race. It's a good start from him." Father Patrick ended last season by winning the $500,000 Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs. Afterward, Takter called the colt "the horse I've been waiting for." In addition to his world-record effort in his Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono Downs last year, Father Patrick won his division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in a Canadian-record 1:54. Two weeks later, he lowered the mark when he won the $354,050 William Wellwood Memorial in 1:53.4. He also won the $280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands -- by 10 lengths -- finishing in 1:54.1 over a track labeled "good" and missing the stakes record by one-fifth of a second. "Hopefully he can step up and be an outstanding horse," Takter said. "He really doesn't have to improve too much; he's trotting (1):52 speed. He's maturing, so he will be a stronger horse. Nature shapes them from 2 to 3. He doesn't have to improve much more than how nature improves him." Father Patrick is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream. His full brother, Pastor Stephen, was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter in 2010 and won 10 of 22 lifetime races, earning $1.04 million, before seeing his career cut short by injury at age 3. The colt is not the only standout 3-year-old trotter in Takter's stable. Nuncio, who finished second to Father Patrick four times last season, started his 2014 campaign with a win in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division at Harrah's Philadelphia on May 15. Lightly raced Trixton has opened eyes this season with two wins in three starts, including a 10-3/4 length triumph in 1:51.2 to win the Simpson Memorial on May 9 at the Meadowlands. Takter will keep the three away from each other for as long as possible on the road to August's Hambletonian Stakes. "You've got to," Takter said. "Nuncio and Patrick are Pennsylvania-bred and I only have the two of them and most likely there will be two divisions (of sire stakes) wherever they go so they don't have to face each other. The first time they're going to meet is in the Earl Beal (Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28). "Trixton isn't staked to the Beal because he's not ready for the shorter tracks yet. He'll go to Canada for the Goodtimes up there (on June 14). That will be after the New Jersey Sire Stakes. He'll get a couple weeks off and then the Stanley Dancer is coming up for all of them." Joining Father Patrick in the second division of the Dickerson Cup are Marathon Man, Amped Up Hanover, Explosive Cash, Master Bedroom, and Shift Into Glide. The first division is Lighter Hanover, Dony Andreas, Mac Kemp, It Really Matters, and Auspicious Hanover. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

East Rutherford, NJ - The 2014 Championship Meet at The Meadowlands will offer over $9 Million in harness racing purses for its stakes races, headlined by the $1.2 Million Hambletonian on Saturday August 2nd. Carrying a $1.2 Million total purse, The Hambletonian is the richest Standardbred race in North America and will be the first jewel of the trotting triple crown in 2014. Hambletonian Day will also include a wide array of other stakes races, with total purses for the day being approximately $3.5 Million, the richest day of racing in the state of New Jersey. The Hambletonian program will also include The Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle, Lady Liberty and more. "Hambletonian Day is always the greatest day of racing for our sport each year and we are thrilled to be the home of such a historic event," said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. "It is an event like the Super Bowl for us, where as soon as Hambletonian Day is over, we begin working on the next one." This year's Hambletonian will be the first in the new $100 Million Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment facility. "We are excited to give The Hambletonian a brand new, state of the art facility to call home," said General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The experience for our customers will be better than ever, with more activities and a wide array of options for our customers to enjoy the day how they want, from fine dining, a gorgeous sports bar, skyboxes, a rooftop terrace and The Backyard which will be an enhanced version of the old paddock park. In addition, the day is sure to have a more intimate connection to the racing than ever before, as we have been feeling that energy all season long here at The Meadowlands." Post time for The Hambletonian Day program is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. The Meadowlands signature event, The Meadowlands Pace will take place on Saturday July 12th. Thanks to proactive changes made to the payment structure of the race, The Meadowlands Pace is showing promising growth through the sustaining payments and will carry a purse of an estimated $750,000 for the 2014 edition. "We worked very hard on improving The Meadowlands Pace," said Zoccali. "We implemented an altered payment structure which will continue to evolve going forward and we are already seeing the results through the sustaining payments. This year's Meadowlands Pace is trending toward a substantial increase in the purse for the Final over 2013." The Meadowlands Pace program will also offer a huge card of racing, including such races as The Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Del Miller Memorial, William Haughton Memorial, The Golden Girls, The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for two year olds and more, producing a near $3 Million night of stakes action. Meadowlands Pace Night will feature a special start time of 6:30 P.M. New to the 2014 Stakes Calendar is The $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for four year old trotters, to be contested at 1 1/8th Miles on Saturday July 5th which is Meadowlands Pace Elimination night. A maximum of 16 horses will be on the gate for the $400,000 event. "This is a unique event," added Zoccali. "It would be great to see upwards of 12 or 13 horses entered as the race would have a European-style feel to it and I think is something we will all enjoy. It also provides a major race for the four year old trotters to target as their stakes season kicks off." Other major events are the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, to take place on Saturday May 17th and will coincide with Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night. The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for three year olds will be on Saturday May 31st and The Meadowlands Maturity Pace on Friday June 13th, which is likely to mark the 2014 debut of Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pacer of the Year. While not a part of the summer Championship Meet, The Breeders Crown makes its return to The Meadowlands in the fall, with the Finals taking place over two championship nights of racing, Friday November 21st and Saturday November 22nd. The standardbred stakes season will end the following Saturday night, November 29th, with the second annual $1 Million TVG Free For All Championships. The 2014 Meadowlands stakes program will offer an estimated $16 Million in purses and the full stakes schedule can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/uploadedfiles/2014_Meadowlands_Stakes_Schedule.pdf. by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands  

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