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MILTON, ON - September 11, 2020 - Harness racing Hambletonian champion Ramona Hill made a successful return to Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday night. Sophomore trotters took their turn in the Simcoe Stakes spotlight Friday with three divisions, two for fillies and one for the boys. Tony Alagna trainee Ramona Hill turned in an easy-looking victory in her $88,894 Simcoe division for driver Andrew McCarthy. The daughter of Muscle Hill got away third and calmly moved to the lead in the second-quarter, posting fractions of :57, 1:25.1 before a :28.1 final-quarter. Ramona Hill stopped the clock in 1:53.2, defeating her nearest rival by 5 ½ lengths. Susies Lady rallied for second, while Trina and Modern Mass completed the top-four. To see the race replay, click here. "She felt very strong," said McCarthy. "It worked out where I got to sit her in there for a second and then move to the front and she did that as easy as she likes and was very strong finishing." Ramona Hill's last visit to Woodbine Mohawk Park saw her win the Breeders Crown from post-ten. This season has been nearly perfect with five wins in six starts to bring her career record to 11 for 13. Her latest victory brings her seasonal earnings to $775,982 and career earnings to nearly $1.3 million for owners Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc and In The GYM Partners. Ramona Hill, who is eligible to next Saturday's (September 16) Elegantimage, had $54,398 wagered on her to win from a pool of $62,884. Owner Grant made it a sweep of Friday's Simcoe Filly Trot, as Warrawee Vicky came through in the $88,895 first division. Driven by Doug McNair, Warrawee Vicky received a two-hole trip behind Whose Blues and just reached up in the final strides to win a four-across finish in 1:54. She Rocks Kemp finished second by a head, while Whose Blues was third by a neck and a rallying Princesspartypants crossed the line fourth by half a length. To see race replay, click here. A daughter of Royalty For Life, Warrawee Vicky is now three for six on the campaign with nearly $150,000 earned for owner Grant. The OSS Gold winner is trained by Scott McEneny and now sports career numbers of eight wins and over $300,000 in earnings. She is eligible to the upcoming Elegantimage Stakes. Warrawee Vicky paid $16.70 to win. Jula Trix Treasure came first up to win the $167,511 Simcoe for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Yannick Gingras guided the Ake Svanstedt trainee to the 1:53.4 score. Capricornus made the front in the second-quarter, posting a :56 half. Jula Trix Treasure got underway from fifth nearing the half and would march up and around the leader to hit three-quarter in 1:25.2. The stretch drive saw Jula Trix Treasure close out the victory with a :28.2 final-quarter to defeat Threefiftytwo by half a length. Horse Trader rallied for third, while Beyond Kronos was fourth. To see race replay, click here. A son of Trixton, Jula Trix Treasure is now three for 10 on the season with $166,335 earned for owners Jula Racing Inc. The sophomore trotter increases his career numbers to five wins and over $180,000 banked. Jula Trix Treasure is eligible to the upcoming Canadian Trotting Classic. He paid $8.20 to win. Live racing continues Saturday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park with a $1.6 million stakes-filled card. The $535,000 William Wellwood Memorial is the headliner. Post time is 7 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

Two years ago, when owner Doug Paul asked trainer Susanne Kerwood if she wanted to join him in the purchase of a harness racing trotting filly named Js Miracle Mass at the London Selected Yearling Sale, Kerwood said yes. When the horse sold for a price that exceeded what she believed Paul intended to spend, she thought it was the end of the story. Until Paul said, "Hello, partner." "I thought we didn't get her," Kerwood said. "Doug said, 'We really liked her, and she's got a great family.' So, that's how we became partners. "That's one thing about Doug and (his mother) Rosalind, they buy quality horses, horses that are out of great families. They have good people look at them, like Abe Stoltzfus and Larry Rathbone, who know what they're looking at when they're looking at yearlings. They're a very good team, that's for sure." Doug and Rosalind race as M And L of Delaware. They typically change the names of the horses they buy, with the colts getting a name that includes "man" and the fillies getting one that includes "lady." Js Miracle Mass became Susie's Lady. On Friday, Susie's Lady faces the most difficult challenge of her career, meeting Ramona Hill in the second of two divisions of the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Ramona Hill is the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing's weekly poll and counts the Hambletonian Stakes, where she beat the boys, among her four wins in five starts this season. "I would say we're racing for second," Doug Paul said with a laugh. "I think the whole field is racing for second." Ramona Hill is the 1-5 morning-line favorite. Susie's Lady is 15-1. Susie's Lady, purchased for $65,000, is a daughter of Muscle Mass out of I Am Special. Her family includes High Sobriety, the dam of 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover, as well as Marla Bar, the dam of Dan Patch Award winner Bar Slide. "She's got a lot of good qualities," Kerwood said about Susie's Lady. "She's a really good-gaited filly and she's got a pretty good head on her shoulders. You can leave with her one week and the next week if you want to take her off the gate, you can take her off the gate. In a trotter, I find that a really good quality. She's easy on herself, let's put it that way." Susie's Lady has won seven of 18 career races and hit the board a total of 13 times, earning $69,296. She was found to be sick following a fourth-place finish in a conditioned race on Aug. 8 but returned to action eight days later with a win in an Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots division at Georgian Downs. The filly heads to the Simcoe off a second-place finish in a division of the Casual Breeze Stakes on Aug. 28 at Mohawk. Susie's Lady finished one length behind McKee's Angel but made up more than four lengths in the stretch with a :28.1 final quarter. "She raced super," Kerwood said. "(Driver) Scott (Coulter) had to check her a couple times down the lane and lost some momentum, but she was closing hard. "She's a nice filly. And she's got a wonderful name. I love the name." Kerwood also trains a 3-year-old filly pacer, Betalady, for the Pauls. The daughter of Bettor's Delight-Lady Jake is 9-2 on the morning line in the first of two Simcoe Stakes divisions Saturday at Mohawk. Betalady is a two-time career winner on the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold circuit and has earned $143,019 lifetime. She was seventh in her Fan Hanover Stakes elimination on Aug. 22, her only off-the-board finish in a span of six races, but returned with Lasix for a Gold start Sept. 5 at Mohawk and won in 1:50.4. "She's a super tough little filly," Kerwood said. "You can race her every week and she keeps coming back. I'm so disappointed we didn't make the final in the Fan Hanover, that's probably the first time she didn't race to our expectations. She wants to be a good horse, that's for sure. She's got a great mentality. I think she's a good horse." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

MILTON, September 7, 2019 - Harness racing trainer Tony Alagna was set up for a successful Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park and walked away with a trio of victories in the Champlain and Simcoe Stakes.   A total of five stakes races were contested on Saturday's 12-race card. Rookie pacers made up the bulk of the marquee events with four Champlain divisions, while a field of seven sophomore pacing fillies clashed in the $168,557 Simcoe Stakes.   Although the races aren't contested on paper, the Alagna barn entered Saturday's stakes with the morning-line favourite in all five races. A new saying of "three out of five ain't bad" could work following Saturday's action.   Alagna's Tall Drink Hanover ran her win streak to five races, taking the Simcoe in stakes-record fashion.   Sent on her way as the 2-5 choice, the three-year-old daughter of Captaintreacherous watched the early proceedings from third spot, but was given her cue from driver Andrew McCarthy just moments after an opening quarter-mile paced in :26.4.   Setting the tone through a half-mile in :54.3, Tall Drink Hanover and McCarthy were still in command after three-quarters in 1:22.3, and then braced for the challenges of Boadicea and Sunny Dee as the field straightened for home.   'Tall Drink' dug in gamely to repel a closing Boadicea, who settled for second, crossing the wire a half-length winner in a new Simcoe Stakes standard of 1:49.1. Sunny Dee was third and Better Single was fourth.   "I was looking at the lines on that mare (Boadicea) Jonathan (Drury) was driving, and even Trevor Henry's filly (Sunny Dee) - they both looked like they've been racing terrific," said McCarthy. "Jonathan's mare sounded like she had a lot of go behind me, and mid-stretch, I kind of had to call on her and make sure she went right on because I knew she was coming."   Tall Drink Hanover arrived at the Simcoe off four-consecutive stakes tallies, including wins in a division of the Adioo Volo and the $100,362 Shady Daisy final, for owners Alagna Racing LLC, Marvin Katz and Riverview Racing LLC.   After a tough start to her season, the bay, bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, now has seven wins from 11 starts on the campaign.   "She had an unfortunate start, a couple bad posts, a couple bad trips," noted McCarthy. "But she's really making up for lost time now. She's gotten very sharp."   She paid $2.90 for the Simcoe score.   Tall Drink Hanover   The Alagna barn also made trips to the winner's circle at the start and conclusion of the four Champlain divisions.   Reflect With Me was dominant in her capture of the first $94,299 Champlain division for two-year-old pacing fillies.   The Alagna trainee beat five foes in a stakes record 1:51.1 for her third consecutive stakes victory. Kat finished 2¾ lengths adrift of the odds-on favourite, with Karma Seelster finishing third.   Driver McCarthy sent Reflect With Me to the lead in a backstretch brush after getting away fourth from post four. He would not be required to lift a line again as his Captaintreacherous filly remained in control for the remainder of the mile. Early leader Kat turned away fourth-place-finisher Off the Press in a :27.3 opening quarter, but Reflect With Me would trip the teletimer for the remaining fractions with a half in :56, three quarters in 1:24.1, and a lively :27 final quarter. Kat was unable to make headway down the lane after riding the pocket for the majority of the mile, while Karma Seelster showed late pace to grab the show spot.   "She was very good tonight," said McCarthy. "She had a couple of weeks off to freshen her up a bit, and she was feeling really good about herself tonight once I got her to the front. Midway through the last turn the engine started revving, and she wanted me to let her pace a little bit, but I was just trying to keep her steady. Then I let her pace in the stretch and she was good."   She has now visited the winner's circle four times from six outings and earned more than $130,000 for owners Brittany Farms and Brad Grant. Her trophy cabinet also includes silverware from the Whenyouwishuponastar and the Eternal Camnation, both of which she won in August. A win ticket on her returned $2.50.   Reflect With Me   Reflect With Me   Capt Midnight triumphed in the $89,938 second Champlain division for two-year-old rookie pacers, giving trainer Alagna and driver McCarthy both a stakes hat trick on the card.   A $350,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase, Capt Midnight's victory boosts his win streak to four and improves his record to four victories in six starts for owners Marvin Katz, Kenneth Jacobs, Brad Grant and Captain Kirk Racing.   McCarthy and the bay colt watched an early tussle for the lead unfold, as Allywag Hanover and Aneto duked it out through brisk early fractions of :26 and :54.   After three-quarters reached in 1:22.1, a patient McCarthy roused Capt Midnight, who responded in kind.   Down the lane, the pair widened their advantage at will, crossing the wire in a stakes record-equaling 1:50.2.   "I kind of let him step out of there a little bit," said McCarthy. "There's a stampede getting into that first turn, so I just lagged back a little bit and watched it unfold. The trip worked out great for me, really."   The son of Captaintreacherous lost in his first two starts, racing from off the pace in divisions of the Kindergarten at the Meadowlands. But he got into his winning groove since he took to the racetrack at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   "He pretty much did that under wraps tonight," noted McCarthy. "The ear plugs were still in. I asked him to pace a little bit coming out of the last turn, and mid-stretch he was just kind of ambling along, doing his own thing. He's got a lot more in the tank than that."   Capt Midnight paid $2.20 for the win.   Capt Midnight     Capt Midnight   The $90,938 opening division for colts and geldings saw YS Mathis deliver an impressive performance for his second consecutive victory.   YS Mathis circled all but one of five others in a three-wide final-turn move to win going away in 1:51.3. Winning driver Louis Phillipe Roy tucked in fifth from post seven and sat there through the quarter in :26.2 and the half in :55.2; he then got going as they approached the three-quarters in 1:23.4 and flew home in :26.4 for a lifetime best-equaling effort. He went off the 6-5 favourite and returned $4.70 to win.   Second choice Captain Kirk cut the first three quarters of the contest, but could do little to repel YS Mathis and finished second, 2½ lengths back at the line. Day Delight stayed on for third after the winner stepped around him on the turn. Tattoo Artist was forced to take a seat in third after challenging for the early lead and then came back out again as they turned for home, but tired to finish fifth.   "I always think he can race from wherever we want, but even with that short field - six horses - I was kind of scared we would go slow fractions," said Roy. "So off the gate, I was kind of ready to get him into position - like leave a little bit with him - but then I saw on the inside they were leaving pretty hard. So I said 'well it's almost better for me because my horse has proven to everybody that he can race off the pace pretty good like that.'"   The Sportswriter colt took his third win in eight starts to bring his earnings above $170,000 for conditioner Richard Moreau and owner Yves Sarrazin. His other two victories came in the form of Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events, one of which was on the Canadian Pacing Derby undercard on August 31.     YS Mathis     YS Mathis   The fourth Champlain division on the card saw Rose Run Vantage power by rivals in the lane to win the $95,298 second split for two-year-old pacing fillies.   With Sylvain Filion at the controls, Rose Run Vantage, owned by Wayne Mac Rae and Daniel Ross, got away fourth, as Betalady blasted off the gate and assumed control in taking the field through an opening quarter-mile in :27.3.   Mutuel favourite Lady Lou, with McCarthy in the bike, were on the move soon after, gliding up from third to grab top spot, leading her rivals through a half-mile in :55.4.   Filion took Rose Run Vantage first over and was gaining ground on the pacesetter through three-quarters timed in 1:23.4.   The duo struck front in early stretch and comfortably fended off a late rally from Peaky Sneaky, who grabbed runner-up honours. Betalady was third, with Alex Skye fourth. The winning margin was 1½-lengths.   Rose Run Vantage, a $17,000 purchase last year at Harrisburg, stopped the clock in a career-best mark of 1:51.3.   Rose Run Vantage   Rose Run Vantage   An early break by Temagami Seelster prompted Filion to call an audible, an option that would pay off handsomely for himself and the Anthony Beaton trainee.   "I was planning on the second over trip," offered the veteran reinsman Filion. "But when the horse made a break, that plan went out the window. We had to go to 'Plan B.'"   While it wasn't the preferred choice, the decision paid off with another win for the daughter of Big Jim. The Champlain is the bay's fourth win from six starts.   "I was anxious... first over, that's not the ideal trip for a two-year-old. But when I saw that horse in front (Lady Lou) was really tired, and mine still had lots of go, I knew I had a good shot."   Filion had high praise for the seasoned performance.   "She's a really, really nice filly. Ever since I sat behind her, I always really liked her. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks, too."   Sent off at 9-2, Rose Run Vantage paid $11.20 for the win.   Next up for the two-year-old pacers is next weekend's eliminations for the Metro Pace and Shes A Great Lady. Those eliminations are scheduled for next Saturday's (September 14) Canadian Trotting Classic card.   Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m.   Chris Lomon & Nicholas Barnsdale for Woodbine Communications      

MILTON, ON - September 6, 2019 - A quintet of Grand Circuit stakes for rookie and sophomore trotters headlined Friday evening's card at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   A trio of Simcoe Stakes divisions for three-year-olds and a pair of William Wellwood Memorial eliminations for two-year-olds all took place on a 10-race card.   Green Manalish S dug deep late to reach up for a thrilling victory in the lone $174,503 Simcoe division for three-year-old colts and geldings. The victory gave driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander each a stakes hat-trick on the card.   All Wrapped Up made a second-quarter move from third to first and led the field by the half in :57. Green Manalishi S and Tetrick got away fourth and sat there until the midway point of the mile, angling out to come first-up.   The third-quarter saw All Wrapped Up ramp up the tempo :28.1, while Green Manalishi S grinded up to the leader's wheel.   In the stretch, All Wrapped Up was all out and kept Green Manalishi S more than a length away with an eighth of a mile to go. The Melander trainee would not be denied a victory, finding more in deep stretch and powering by just in time for a 1:53 victory.   "I thought I was a little messed up there when I let them get over to the half too slow and I was a little far back," said Tetrick. "I had to come a little early there going to the half, but my horse sat out there and put his nose up when it was time.   "Top of the lane a little bit (worried)," admitted Tetrick. "Half way down the lane he started kicking in and right by the tote board he took off for me and I knew I was going to get him."   Union Forces finished third, while Smart As Hill was fourth.   A son of Muscle Hill, Green Manalishi S was making his first start at Mohawk Park since capturing last year's Wellwood Memorial. The Melander trainee improved to four wins and $385,726 earned in eight starts this season.   Green Manalishi S will now head towards next Saturday's (September 14) Canadian Trotting Classic with nine wins and $945,883 in career earnings for owner Courant Inc.   A $2 win ticket on Green Manalishi S returned $2.80.   The entry box for the Canadian Trotting Classic closes Tuesday morning (September 10) at 10:30 a.m. The top-ten money earners to enter will compete in the rich final.   The Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old trotting fillies saw a group of 13 separated into a pair of divisions.   Hambletonian Oaks winner When Dovescry made her first start since August 3 and got things her own way to win the $85,029 first division   Now racing for trainer Carmen Auciello, When Dovescry and driver Simon Allard trotted out to the lead and got away with soft fractions of :28.3, :58.4 and 1:27.4. Special Honor followed the leader's every move from the two-hole, while 3/5 favourite Evident Beauty sat third.   The sprint for home saw Evident Beauty trotting up a storm and appearing to have a chance to defeat When Dovescry until she made a break entering the final sixteenth, handing the victory to When Dovescry in 1:54.4. Special Honor finished two-lengths back in second, while Evident Beauty finished third.   "I got lucky," said Allard about the break made by Evident Beauty. "She didn't race in a little while and we needed a race and we ended up winning, so that's great. She's been good all along and sometimes the good horses do everything right and it works out for them."   A daughter of Muscle Hill, When Dovescry picked up her third straight win to bring her sophomore record to three wins and $328,054 earned in six starts. She now sports career numbers of eight wins and $618,764 earned for owners Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh and Lawrence Dumain.   A $2 win ticket on When Dovescry returned $4.50.   Sisters Promise went to the top and never looked back to win the $86,028 second Simcoe division in a career-best 1:53.4.   Driven by Tetrick, Sisters Promise trotted out to the lead and set fractions of :28.2, :57.4 and 1:25.3. Race-favourite The Ice Dutchess sat fourth and angled out heading towards three-quarters.   Sisters Promise got away from her rivals after creating separation at three-quarters and trotted home in :28.1 to win by three-quarters of a length. The Ice Dutchess finished second, while Bright Eyes M was third.   "She's always had enough talent, just hasn't been able to put it together," said Tetrick. "I got off the car and got an easy first-eighth and kind of cruised to the half and then I stepped on the gas and she held off The Ice Dutchess late."   A daughter of Father Patrick, Sisters Promise was winless in 11 starts this season prior to her Simcoe score. The Linda Toscano trainee has now earned over $100,000 this season to bring her career totals to four wins and $192,109 earned for owners Brittany Farms.   Sisters Promise paid $20.20 to win.   The top finishers from Friday's Simcoe Stakes are all eligible to next Saturday's (September 14) Elegantimage Stakes. The top-ten money earners to enter by Tuesday morning will line up for the rich event.   A group of 14 two-year-old trotting colts and geldings were split into a pair of $30,000 eliminations for the Wellwood Memorial. The top-five finishers from each division booked their ticket to next Saturday's $370,000 final.   Back Of The Neck was a coast-to-coast winner in the first elimination for the Team Melander. The Ready Cash colt and driver Mattias Melander set fractions of :28, :58.3 and 1:26.4 before trotting home in :28.1 for a 1:55 victory.   "Every start he races he's been developing more," said Mattias Melander about Back Of The Neck. "I was on him a little bit, but I think he had some left."   Trained by Marcus Melander, Back Of The Neck didn't face pressure until Beyond Kronos pushed first-up going to three-quarters. The margin of victory was a length and a half with Beyond Kronos finishing second and Port Perry finishing third off a two-hole trip.   Nylander and Hetalkstoangels completed the top-five to advance to next week's final.   A $150,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase, Back Of The Neck is now three for five with $56,845 earned for owners Howard Taylor, Order By Stable and Judith Taylor. He paid $5.80 to win.   Marcus Melander completed the sweep of the Wellwood eliminations with Capricornus holding off a push from longshot Hp Royal Theo to win the second split in 1:55.1   Driven by Tetrick, Capricornus angled out from third on the far turn to make a first-up bid against leader and race-favourite Synergy. The public's choice couldn't deliver in the lane after a three-quarter clocking of 1:27. Capricornus overtook the lead and dug in to hold off Hp Royal Theo by a neck.   "I really liked what I saw and he really dug in all the way," said Melander of Capricornus. "He's got a really good attitude and that's really important and he's a really nice gaited-horse and a pleasure to drive."   Moon Bridge and Blue Cupertino completed the Superfecta. Synergy did make the final by finishing fifth.   A $110,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase, Capricornus is now three for six with $96,770 earned for owner JJ Stable. The Melander trainee shaved a fifth of a second off his previous career best with the victory.   Capricornus paid $4.10 to win.   The post position draw for next Saturday's (September 14) $370,000 final took place following the eliminations. The Melander stable had their choice of positions following the victories by Back Of The Neck and Capricornus.   1 - Blue Cupertino 2 - Hetalkstoangels 3 - Back Of The Neck 4 - Capricornus 5 - Hp Royal Theo 6 - Nylander 7 - Moon Bridge 8 - Port Perry 9 - Beyond Kronos 10 - Synergy AE - Your Still Up   Friday evening's card also featured a $30,000 Mares Preferred. Youaremycandygirl followed up her stunning victory from a week ago with a 1:48.3 victory over Seaswift Joy N and Kissin In The Sand.   Making her second start from trainer Richard Moreau, Youaremycandygirl brushed to the lead in the second-quarter and never looked back to win. The four-year-old mare and driver Louis Philippe Roy posted fractions of :54.4 and 1:21.4 before firing home in :26.4 for her third win of the season.   Owned by W Donovan, Youaremycandygirl sports career numbers of 21 wins and over $1.5 million earned. She paid $3.50 to win.   Live racing continues Saturday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park with more Grand Circuit action. Rookie pacers, colts and fillies, will compete in the Champlain, while three-year-old pacing fillies will duel in the Simcoe.   Post time is 7:10 p.m.   by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment        

MILTON, August 31, 2019 - The return of Pepsi North America Cup harness racing champion Captain Crunch to Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday evening saw the North America Cup consolation winner spoil the party. Century Farroh and driver Sylvain Filion shot up the rail late to win the $171,503 Simcoe Stakes in 1:49.3. The Dr. Ian Moore trainee went off as the third-choice at 7/1. Captain Crunch got away fourth and moved to the lead at the half. The Pepsi North America Cup champion hit the middle-half panels in :54.1 and 1:22.2 to lead into the stretch. Meadowlands Pace champion Best In Show angled out of the two-hole to challenge, while Century Farroh and Filion had been following in third and were able to slip up the rail to power by rivals for a victory of a length and a quarter. Best In Show edged Captain Crunch for second. Stag Party rallied on the outside to finish fourth. A son of Mach Three, Century Farroh has now won 10 of 12 starts and earned over $500,000 this season. The Moore trainee now sports career numbers of 14 wins and $596,384 for owners Ratchford Stable NS. Century Farroh paid $16.40 to win. Mark McKelvie

After a four-week respite, Captain Crunch is ready to get back to work. The award-winning harness racing pacing colt's layoff followed a seven-start first half of his campaign, which saw the Nancy Johansson trainee post five wins including the North America Cup and Cane Pace. Captain Crunch's most recent race was the Cane, which he won by a neck over Bettor's Wish in 1:48 on Aug. 3, Hambletonian Day, at The Meadowlands. With many of August's remaining top events for 3-year-old pacers on half-mile ovals, such as the Milstein Memorial and Messenger Stakes, the colt's connections opted for the opportunity to refresh for the second half of the season. This weekend, Captain Crunch returns to action when he meets six rivals in Saturday's C$171,503 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park. A trip to The Meadows on Sept. 7 for the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship is expected to follow. "We didn't have many options after the Cane," said Alan Katz of the 3 Brothers Stables, which shares ownership of Captain Crunch with Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms. "We knew the situation. We didn't want to race him in the Messenger or the Milstein on a half, so we decided to race him in the Simcoe. "That was basically the game plan right from the get-go. A little break in the schedule can only help him." Captain Crunch, the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer, has won 11 of 17 career races and earned $1.26 million. His top victories last season came in the Breeders Crown and year-ending Governor's Cup. This year, he opened with back-to-back wins in divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes before going off stride in his elimination for the North America Cup. The colt jumped a shadow in the first turn but rallied to finish fifth and advance to the $750,000 final, which he won as the fourth choice at odds of 4-1 in 1:47.2. The time is the fastest in history by a 3-year-old pacer on Canadian soil. "The fans got off him pretty quickly when he made that break," Katz said. "You're not going to get $10 (for a win payout) on him anymore this year, that's for sure. That $10 was a gift for people who bet him. "That to me was his best start. He came back to show you what kind of horse he is." Captain Crunch followed with a win in his Meadowlands Pace elimination and then finished fourth in the final, beaten three-quarters of a length, after setting fractions that culminated in reaching three-quarters of a mile in 1:19.3. Three weeks later, he rebounded with his triumph in the Cane Pace. "He's a dream come true," Katz said. "He's just one great horse. He always shows up, gives it all he's got. He's so game. "We couldn't ask for anything better than this. He's lived up to all our expectations, and more. He's a once-in-a-lifetime horse. It's hard to get horses like him. We've been in this business a long time, since 1975, and to get a horse who's going to be a stallion like him, it hasn't occurred for us before. Not this type of quality. He's been great." In the Simcoe, Captain Crunch and driver Scott Zeron will start from post two. Meadowlands Pace winner Best In Show leaves from post one while Century Farroh, the winner of nine of 11 races this season, begins from post three. The remainder of the field is Better Up, Stag Party, Tyga Hanover, and Bronx Seelster. "Scott loved (Captain Crunch) from day one and has done a tremendous job driving the horse," Katz said. "Nancy and Marcus (Johansson) have done a fantastic job with him. A lot of horses don't come back at 3 as good as they were at 2. He came back even better. Nancy has done a great job managing him. "To have a horse like him is just a pleasure. And the partners, we all get along great. What more can you ask? I wish we had more like him. You can only hope." Racing begins at 7:10 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park. In addition to the Simcoe (race nine on the card), the track hosts the C$600,000 Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters (race five) and C$525,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers (race eight). For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

MILTON, ON - September 8, 2018 - Grand Circuit harness racing week concluded Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park with three divisions of the Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old pacers. A group of 14 sophomore pacing colts and geldings were separated into a pair of $83,342 splits, while a talented field of six pacing fillies battled for a purse of $150,996. Just a week after winning the Messenger, Stay Hungry brought his 'A Game' to win a tough battle in the second Simcoe division. Driven by Doug McNair, Stay Hungry was unhurried in the beginning and got away fourth. Backstreet Shadow and driver Yannick Gingras circled from second to first at the opening-quarter and rolled the field by the half in :55. McNair gave Stay Hungry his cue to charge first-up going to the three-quarter pole and was almost three-lengths from the lead when Backstreet Shadow reached the third-station in 1:23.1. In the stretch, McNair dropped Stay Hungry onto the back of Gingras briefly before coming back out for an exciting stretch duel. Stay Hungry paced home in :25.4 and was able to edge a game Backstreet Shadow by a nose in 1:49.3. Hidden Delight was third. "The way the draw set up I figured that was the way the race would go," said McNair following the victory. "I would be a late first-over and Yannick's horse would be sprinting home hard." Trained by Tony Alagna, Stay Hungry is being pointed towards potential history at the Little Brown Jug on September 20. The son of Somebeachsomewhere has captured the opening-two legs of the Pacing Triple Crown, Cane Pace and Messenger, and is now five for 11 with $683,031 earned this season for owners Brad Grant and Irwin Samelman. "The Jug is in a couple weeks and that's what they are aiming at, but it was great to get a win back home," said McNair. "That's all they are going to be talking about from now until the Jug is the Triple Crown, but he's won two of the first three legs and that's special." Stay Hungry's career numbers now sit at 11 wins and over $1.2 million earned. He paid $2.90 to win. Jeff Gillis trainee The Downtown Bus continued his run of stops at the winner's circle by posting a 1:50.2 victory in the first division for colts and geldings. Driven by Tim Tetrick, The Downtown Bus shot out to the lead and got to call the shots, posting fractions of :27.3, :56.1 and 1:23.1 to lead into the stretch. Tetrick pulled the plugs on The Downtown Bus at the three-quarter pole and the Gillis trainee was able to last on the lead, finding the line in time to hold off a charge from Torrin Hanover was _ length score. Babes Dig Me finished third, while Dragon Time was fourth. The Simcoe victory extends The Downtown Bus' current win streak to three. "He's turned the corner and Jeff has done a great job with him," said Tetrick, who has driven the gelded son of Mach Three throughout his current win streak. "Last week he trained around there pretty good in (1):49 and today he was up in little more open class and some better-bred horses and he still got the job done. I was pretty proud of him." A homebred for Gillis and Ellen Ott, The Downtown Bus now has eight wins and $218,354 earned in 19 starts this season. The Grand Circuit victory increases his career earnings to $238,700. A $2 win ticket on The Downtown Bus returned $4.20. Shower Play continued her flare for the dramatic by delivering another stunning final-quarter rally to win the Simcoe Filly Stakes in 1:52. Driven by Louis Philippe Roy, Shower Play got away fifth in the field of six and appeared to have a mountain too big to overcome when Youaremycandygirl got her own way on the front, posting fractions of :26.4, :56.4 and 1:24.1. Youaremycandygirl opened up a lead of nearly four-lengths at three-quarters, while race-favourite Kissin In The Sand was second-over and Shower Play third over with more than seven-lengths to overcome. Kissin In The Sand and Shower Play both delivered furious stretch rallies to track down Youaremycandygirl in the final-eighth with Shower Play unleashing a :26.3 kicker to reach the line first. Kissin In The Sand finished second, beat a length and a quarter, while Youaremycandygirl crossed in third. "It's always fun to win races on the front, but to go by everybody is a better feeling for sure," said Roy following the race. "I give credit to Rene and Susie because in the middle of the summer we had some steering issues with her, so they worked a lot on her and did some changes and I think she's come back better than she was at the beginning at the season." Trained by Rene Dion, Shower Play also defeated Kissin In The Sand in June's $415,000 Fan Hanover. The daughter of Shadow Play has now earned $415,563 in 10 starts this season for owners Dion, Susie Kerwood and Martin Leveillee. The Simcoe victory gives Shower Play five wins this season and eight overall. Her career earnings jump to $454,300 with the victory. A $2 win ticket on Shower Play returned $14.10. Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. Nirvana Seelster becomes newest millionaire Bill Budd trainee Nirvana Seelster grinded out a third-place finish in Saturday’s $34,000 Preferred Pace to become harness racing’s newest millionaire. The seven-year-old gelding entered Saturday’s card just a little over $300 away from $1 million in career earnings. Nirvana Seelster and driver Trevor Henry did the heavy-lifting in the Preferred and despite surrendering the lead early in the lane, the Budd trainee battled hard to the line for a third-place finish, beat only three-quarters of a length. American Wiggle, driven by Louis Philippe Roy for trainer Richard Moreau, captured the $34,000 top-class in 1:49.4. Owned by Bruce Davy, Nirvana Seelster is a 39-time winner with a mark of 1:48 taken last season at Mohawk Park. The Budd trainee has made 176 of his 178 career starts at either Woodbine Racetrack or Mohawk Park. Nirvana Seelster recently competed in his fourth consecutive Canadian Pacing Derby. The fan-favourite has seven wins, 20 top-three finishes and $191,170 earned in 27 starts this season. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications  

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

This Week: Jim Ewart Memorial and Jug Preview, Scioto Downs, Columbus, Ohio; Champlain Stakes, Simcoe Stakes and William Wellwood Memorial and Peaceful Way eliminations, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ontario; and Miss Versatility, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off on Friday (Sept. 7) at Woodbine Mohawk Park with a trio of divisions in the C$210,321 Champlain Stakes for freshman pacing males and a pair of races in the C$191,476 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old pacing fillies. The Saturday (Sept. 8) card is highlighted by two divisions in the C$166,684 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old pacing males, a single split in the C$150,996 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers, two C$30,000 eliminations in the William Wellwood Memorial for 2-year-old open trotters and two C$30,000 eliminations in the Peaceful Way for 2-year-old filly trotters. Grand Circuit racing at Tioga Downs will also be held on Friday (Sept. 7) with a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility for trotting mares. On Saturday (Sept. 8), Scioto Downs will host the $225,000 (est.) Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers and the $125,000 (est.) Jug Preview for 3-year-old colt pacers. Complete entries for the races at the U.S. tracks are available at this link. Entries for the Woodbine Mohawk Park races are available at this link. Last time: Stay Hungry moved one step nearer the Pacing Triple Crown with a win in Saturday's Messenger Stakes at Yonkers Raceway while trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt enjoyed a record-setting night in trotting stakes action for 3-year-olds by capturing the Yonkers Trot with Six Pack and Hudson Filly Trot with Plunge Blue Chip. Plunge Blue Chip won the $129,014 Hudson in 1:53.1, the fastest trotting mile in Yonkers history and equaling Frau Blucher's world record for a 3-year-old female trotter on a half-mile track, set in 2013 at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio. Six Pack won the $500,000 Yonkers Trot in 1:54, the fastest Yonkers Trot ever at Yonkers. Stay Hungry won the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers by a neck over favorite Jimmy Freight in 1:52.1. Stay Hungry won the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers by a neck over favorite Jimmy Freight in 1:52.1. Topville Olympian was third. The Messenger Stakes is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Stay Hungry won the first, the Cane Pace, on Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands and can complete the sweep of the Crown races with a win in the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 20 at the Delaware County Fair. Stay Hungry, driven by Doug McNair for trainer Tony Alagna, was among four horses racing for the early lead in the Messenger, with Winston, Babes Dig Me, and Jimmy Freight. Stay Hungry, who started from post six, got to the front as the field reached the opening quarter-mile in :27.1 and remained in front from there, but not without a fight. Jimmy Freight, who started from post eight, came after Stay Hungry as the horses made their way around the second turn and headed to the half-mile point. The two raced together to the half in :55.3 and three-quarters in 1:23 and continued to battle down the stretch and to the wire. Stay Hungry has won four of 10 races this year and 10 of 19 in his career, good for $1.15 million in purses. The colt, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of My Little Dragon, is owned by Brad Grant and the Irwin Samelman Estate. In the Yonkers Trot, Six Pack took the lead from Lindsey's Pride prior to the quarter-mile point and was never threatened the rest of the way. He won by 7-3/4 lengths over Helpisontheway, with Lindsey's Pride finishing third. The Yonkers Trot is the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. Atlanta won the first, the Hambletonian, but was not eligible to the Yonkers Trot. The third jewel is the Kentucky Futurity, Oct. 7 at Lexington's Red Mile. A son of Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady, Six Pack has won six of nine races this year and 10 of 17 lifetime. He has earned $849,840 for owners Svanstedt, Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. In the Hudson, Plunge Blue Chip led from start to finish, but had to hold off Supergirl Riley by a nose at the wire. Lucky Ava finished third. A daughter of Muscle Mass out of Dunk The Donato, Plunge Blue Chip has won four of nine races this year and 13 of 19 in her career. She has earned $732,316. Svanstedt, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Tomas Andersson, and Rick Zeron Stables own the filly. Another 1-5 favorite, Alexis Faith, won the $112,904 Lady Maud for 3-year-old female pacers by a half-length over Solitary in 1:53.4. Jewels Forreal finished third. Alexis Faith is a daughter of American Ideal out of Cannae Cammie. She has won four of 11 races this season and 10 of 20 in her career, with purses totaling $455,198. Alexis Faith was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for trainer Casie Coleman. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 798.5; 2. Yannick Gingras - 780.5; 3. David Miller - 509.5; 4. Scott Zeron - 370; 5. Jordan Stratton - 288. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 687.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 609; 3. Tony Alagna - 383; 4. Jim Campbell - 256; 5. Erv Miller - 245. Owners: 1. Fashion Farms - 169; 2. Burke Racing Stable - 153; 3. Weaver Bruscemi - 148; 4. Brittany Farms - 132.4; 5. Robert Key - 120. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit racing will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park and Tioga Downs. Woodbine Mohawk will host finals in the Canadian Trotting Classic, Elegantimage, Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial, as well as eliminations in the Milton, Metro Pace, and She's A Great Lady. Tioga Downs will card the third leg of the Kindergarten Series for freshman trotters and pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for Grand Circuit

MILTON, ON -September 1, 2018 - Mets Hall found room down the lane and powered away from the field to capture Saturday's $169,183 Simcoe Stakes, at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Trained by Julie Miller for owners Stroy Inc. and Andy Miller Stable, Mets Hall has now won back to back starts since finishing second behind Atlanta in the Hambletonian final. Last time out, Mets Hall captured the Zweig Memorial Trot at Vernon Downs and with the Simcoe score sets himself to be the favourite in the upcoming Canadian Trotting Classic eliminations. Mets Hall blasted off the gate for driver Andy Miller reaching the opening quarter in :27.2, but Alarm Detector (Trevor Henry) and Lawmaker (Anthony MacDonald) were not content to sit down the backstretch with an onrushing Lawmaker marking the half in :55.3. Alarm Detector popped the pocket at the top of the lane, but Mets Hall was not to be denied with a menacing move and powered home in a quick 1:52 flat, equalling his lifetime mark. Run Director (Sylvain Filion) arrived late on the scene to complete the exacta at odds of 50-1. "I wasn't sure how it would unfold, but I knew I'd be going forward off the gate and sitting up close," said Miller. "When I got room in the lane there, he just shot by them. "He likes to be up close," continued Miller. "Usually when he comes off the last turn, he's going to trot home." It was the seventh career victory for the son of Cantab Hall who appears to be improving with every start. "Ever since the Hambo, he's really showed up and done what we thought he would," said Miller. Mets Hall, bred by Winbak Farm in Maryland, banked $84,591 in victory. He paid $4.30 to win. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

MILTON, ON -  August 31, 2018 - Grand Circuit week continued Friday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park with four events for trotters. A trio of Champlain divisions for two-year-old colts and geldings and a single Simcoe division for three-year-old fillies were contested. Muscle Hill colt Kings County kicked off the evening's stakes action with a stunning 1:54.4 victory in the $69,107 first Champlain division. Driven by Scott Zeron, Kings County got away fourth and began his move towards the lead just before the half. The Domenico Cecere trainee powered to the top on the far turn and led the field by three-quarters in 1:26.4. In the stretch, Kings County was able to hold off Southwind Avenger, who got a two-hole trip, to win by half a length. Trix And Stones was third, while Knight Angel was fourth. Kings County is owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and was a $210,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg. The Muscle Hill has now won three in a row and overall is three for five with $55,753 earned. A $2 win ticket on Kings County returned $5. Father Patrick colt Hudson River took advantage of soft opening fractions to win the $70,107 second Champlain division in 1:55.3. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Hudson River made the front in the second-quarter and led the field by the half in :59. The Jimmy Takter trainee then got a :29.1 third-quarter, which set him up perfectly to sprint home in :27.2 for the victory. Dream Nation finished a length and three-quarters behind in second, while Union Forces was third. Hudson River is co-owned by Christina Takter along with breeder Goran Falk. The Father Patrick colt collected his second win in four starts Friday and pushed his earnings to $80,114. The Takter trainee was making his first start since August 4 Friday evening. "This race today is a set up for next week (Wellwood eliminations)," said Per Engblom, Assistant Trainer of Hudson River. "We knew he needed a race, but he's been training good and is a really nice horse and we were really confident he was going to race good anyways." A $2 win ticket on Hudson River paid $3.80. Ontario Sires Stakes Gold winner CT Conabra completed the Champlain action with a coast to coast victory in the $70,107 third division. Driven by Jody Jamieson, CT Conabra shot out to the lead and avoided a second-quarter confrontation when race-favourite Royal Rob made a backstretch miscue. CT Conabra posted fractions of :28.4, :58.3 and 1:27 before trotting home in :28.4 to win in 1:55.4 for trainer Stephanie Jamieson. Jumpshot finished second, beat a length and three-quarters, while Okeanos was third. A son of Kadabra, CT Conabra picked up his second win for owners Carl and Jody Jamieson. The $18,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase has now earned $76,717 in four starts. "This colt from the first day dad (Carl) threw the harness on him he's been telling me how great he was," said Jody Jamieson following the victory. "That's why my dad is in the Hall of Fame. He develops these horses and finds them. He's a perfect example this horse. "He found him at the sale and $18,000 for a horse that just won a Champlain Stake and you can't do that all the time." CT Conabra paid $26.20 to win. The lone Simcoe Stakes division for three-year-old trotting fillies saw Repentance and driver Scott Zeron defeat seven rivals in the $153,996 contest. The Linda Toscano trainee got away fifth going into the first turn and was angled to the outside nearing the half. Repentance quickly trotted by a stopping leader to grab the top-spot on the far turn and led the field at three-quarters in 1:25.4. In the stretch, Repentance sealed the victory by holding off Blonde Magic by a length in 1:55.1. Sneeker Hanover was third, while Ex Hanover was fourth. Notably absent from Friday's Simcoe Stakes were superstars Atlanta and Manchego. Toscano took a chance the top-fillies would skip Friday's event and entered Repentance. "We thought about whether to bring her up or not and I wondered if Atlanta or Manchego were going to come this week and thought maybe there might be a spot for her up here," said Toscano. "She got a good trip and Scott (Zeron) gets along with her and it worked out." A daughter of Chapter Seven, Repentance collected her fourth win in nine outings this season and fifth overall. Her career earnings now sit at $206,280 for owner/breeder Diamond Creek Racing. A $2 win ticket on Repentance returned $3.90. Live racing continues Saturday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park with the $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and $651,000 Maple Leaf Trot co-main events. Post time is 7:10 p.m. By Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

Julie Miller endured some difficult moments with trotters Met's Hall and Prospect Hill during the winter and spring, but in the past two months the trainer's trepidation has turned to jubilation. Met's Hall, who struggled with health woes, heads to Saturday's C$169,183 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park off a win in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Open Trot and a second-place finish in the Hambletonian. Unraced prior to mid-July, the colt's $456,773 in purses rank 10th among all horses in North America despite tying for the second-fewest starts (six) of any horse in the top 50. "He was a bit of a challenge," Miller said. "We had to iron out some kinks on his road back. He's a little bit behind the curve, not starting as early as most of the others, but I couldn't be any happier with how he is racing. We just have to hope it continues. He's just fought through his issues and he loves to race." Prospect Hill, who battled maturity issues, heads to Saturday's $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male trotters at The Meadows with a five-race win streak since a third-place debut. He is the sport's fourth-richest 2-year-old male trotter, with $130,167, and tied for the fifth fastest, with a mark of 1:55. Coupled with stablemate Klutzy in the PaSS final, Prospect Hill is the 7-5 morning-line favorite. "He's been a pleasant surprise," Miller said. "He always had talent and ability, but would kind of lose focus and act like a typical juvenile out there on the track. He's got a refined body and nice gait, but he wasn't always thinking about trotting; he was all boy out there. But he's blossomed into a nice horse and done well." Met's Hall, owned by Stroy Inc. and Andy Miller Stable, came into 2018 with high expectations after winning five of 11 races last year and finishing second in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters, but was plagued by soundness issues. Miller consulted with numerous veterinarians and revamped the colt's training program to get him back on track. "I'm very fortunate," Miller said. "I had three or four of the top vets in the country give me guidance. Andy and I kept talking about his training regimen. We put him in the (swimming) pool and changed up how we do things with a trotter. We had to try other things and it seemed to work." Met's Hall, with Andy Miller in the sulky, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday's Simcoe Stakes, which is the final prep for the Canadian Trotting Classic (eliminations Sept. 8; final Sept. 15). The 11-horse field also includes You Know You Do (7-2), Lawmaker (9-2) and Alarm Detector (5-1). The race is part of a Woodbine Mohawk Park card that includes the Canadian Pacing Derby and Maple Leaf Trot. For his career, Met's Hall has won seven of 17 races and earned $723,908. The son of Cantab Hall-Met's Inn finished second to Atlanta in the Hambletonian before winning in a career-best 1:52 in the Zweig, where he led gate-to-wire and fought off a challenge from Six Pack before holding off Manchego by a nose. "We really targeted the Hambletonian with him," Miller said. "To get second, we were very pleased. And to race in the Zweig and hold off Six Pack and Manchego that last quarter, I was really proud of him. I don't think he prefers to race on the front, but he can. I think he's more of a grinder. But it's however the race unfolds." Prospect Hill, a son of Muscle Hill-Louise Kemp, was purchased for $130,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Stroy Inc. He finished third to Peter Haughton Memorial winner Don't Let'em in his debut, but has since won five in a row -- a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars followed by four divisions of the sire stakes. His most recent victory was by a neck, but the rest were by at least one length. "He leaves the gate so effortlessly," Miller said. "Andy said he's really comfortable on the front. I'm just happy he doesn't seem to have to exert a lot so far to race at this level. "And when a horse has come at him, he's responded well. Twice he's done that. I'm glad that he's game and gutsy. Instead of throwing in the towel, he wanted to put his head back in front and win. You like to think you teach them that, but I think it's all on their own. They have to want it and he wants it." The Meadows hosts all four Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-olds. On Sunday, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono hosts the four PaSS finals for 3-year-olds. Morning-line favorites at Pocono are Phaetosive in the female trot, Kissin In The Sand in the female pace, Crystal Fashion in the male trot, and Dorsoduro Hanover in the male pace. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

CAMPBELLVILLE, September 9 - The 2017 Simcoe Stakes wrapped up Saturday with two harness racing events for three-year-old pacers at Mohawk Racetrack. A field of 10 colts and geldings competed for a purse of $162,838, while nine fillies battled for $163,872. Knocking on the door coming into the Simcoe, Art Scene kicked the door down with an impressive five length victory in a career-best 1:49.4 for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Tony Alagna. The son of American Ideal got away fourth in the early stages. Penzance Hanover posted an opening-quarter of :26.2, before allowing Classic Pro to clear and hang up a half of :55. Zeron got Art Scene in motion approaching the half and rushed up to take the lead entering the final turn. The Alagna trainee reached three-quarters in 1:22.1 and then said goodnight to his rivals by pulling well ahead and pacing home in :27.3 for the impressive victory. "I know he's raced really well his last two races over at Yonkers, but that was impressive right there." said Zeron post-race. Ocean Colony finished second, while HurricaneBeach was third. Art Scene only made one start as a rookie, but his connections knew he had potential. "We had to really be patient with him," said Zeron. "Tony (Alagna) did a great job with him all throughout the beginning of the year. "We really thought he was going to be a top colt right at the beginning and it took us a while to get to the point where we're at right now, but it's exciting to have a horse finishing off the year and peaking right now." Art Scene is owned by Brittany Farms LLC, Alagna Racing LLC, In The GYM Partners and Americam Art Stable. He is now three for 13 this season with $255,936 in earnings. The Alagna trainee paid $4.40 to win. Art Scene Fan Hanover champ Bettors Up picked up another stakes victory at Mohawk with a huge performance in the Simcoe Filly Stakes. Driven by Doug McNair, Bettors Up got away fifth in the early stages, while Obvious Blue Chip had to work for more than a quarter of a mile to get the lead and post a :54.2 opening-half. Idyllic Beach came first up from fourth on the far turn and that allowed McNair to situate Bettors Up in a perfect second-over spot. Obvious Blue Chip led by three-quarters in 1:22.3. In the stretch, Bettors Up rocketed off cover and stormed home for an impressive 6½ lengths victory in 1:50. Dudesalady finished second, while Stonebridge Sundae was third and Idyllic Beach fourth. Trained by Scott McEneny, Bettors Up (Bettor's Delight) came into the Simcoe Stakes off a solid victory in last Sunday's Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Consolation. "I didn't want to be first up," said McNair post-race. "I floated and found a good spot and live cover. On the last turn I thought I was in a good spot and she still felt good, but that's the best she's felt since the Fan Hanover." Bettors Up is now four for 12 this season with earnings of $415,735. Her career totals now sit an impressive 10 wins and $631,964 earned. She is owned by Brad Grant, Teresa Davidson and Michelle McEneny. Bettors Up paid $12.60 to win. Bettors Up Live racing continues Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. The eliminations for the William Wellwood Memorial and Peaceful Way Stakes will highlight the 10-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m.   Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, September 2 - The regally-bred International Moni showed his grit to win Saturday's $165,838 Simcoe Stakes for harness racing sophomore trotters at Mohawk Racetrack. A field of 12 three-year-old trotting colts and geldings competed in the annual Grand Circuit event. International Moni, a son of Love You-Moni Maker, was made the 3/5 favourite and lived up the hype. The Frank Antonacci trainee and driver Scott Zeron got away fifth in the early going, while R First Class pocket-pulled and secured the lead heading to the half. R First Class posted a half of :57.1 and led into the far turn, while International Moni came first up and grinded his way up to the leader at three-quarters in 1:26. The stretch drive was a duel between R First Class and International Moni, as neither wanted to give in. At the wire, International Moni prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3. Magic Night finished third, while Dunbar Hall was fourth. "Heading into the first turn I didn't know what was going to happen," said Zeron post-race. "We had a lot of us heading into there, so I just protected my position, was able to control when I came first up with him and he had to work today coming first up and coming home in :27.3, it was big." Owned and bred by Moni Maker Stable, International Moni is now five for seven this season to bring his career totals to six wins and over $500,000 earned. The Lindy Farms star will now prepare for next Saturday's Canadian Trotting Classic eliminations. International Moni paid $3.20 to win. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, September 1 - Grand Circuit week continued Friday at Mohawk Racetrack with the Simcoe Stakes for harness racing sophomore trotting fillies and the Champlain Stakes for two-year-old trotters. The Simcoe Stakes featured a field of 11 competing for $166,872, while two $93,880 divisions were required for the Champlain. Ariana G added another trophy to her impressive collection with a 1:53.1 victory in the Simcoe Stakes. The ultra-talented daughter of Muscle Hill started from the second-tier in Friday's contest. Driver Yannick Gingras elected to follow a mid-pack starter at the start and was able to drop the heavy-favourite in third at the opening-quarter. Ariana G wouldn't sit for long and was moved to the lead approaching the half. The Jimmy Takter trained filly touched down on the lead just after trotting by the half in :56.1. Ariana G posted a :29 third-quarter setting her up well for the stretch. Southwind Tesla came first up and confronted the favourite turning for home, but Gingras sat motionless and allowed Ariana G to turn aside all challengers with ease to win by 2¾ lengths. "She felt really good," said Gingras following the race. "Down the stretch I was just taking it easy on her, the plugs were still in, just measuring them off and trying to save some for the future." Feed Your Head, who is also trained by Takter, was able to edge out Southwind Tesla for second. Owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, Ariana G improved to four for four at Mohawk with her Simcoe Stakes victory. The Hambletonian Oaks winner is now seven for nine this season with over $600,000 earned. Ariana G, who will likely race next in the Elegantimage Stakes eliminations on September 9, is now a 16-time winner with over $1.4 million earned. She paid $2.90 to win. Ariana G Sire Muscle Hill swept Friday's Champlain Stakes, as his sons You Know You Do and Night Rhythm were victorious. You Know You Do went to the lead and never looked back to win the opening division in 1:55.1. The Takter trainee found the front at the opening-quarter with driver Yannick Gingras and proceeded to post fractions of :29, :58.2 and 1:27. Alarm Detector, who came in undefeated, got away last in the field of seven and never got close to making things interesting with You Know You Do. The Takter student trotted home in :28.1 to win by 6¾ lengths over Alarm Detector, who also trotted home in :28.1. Embolden was third, while Winning American was fourth. Owned by Howard Taylor, Order By Stable, Bud Hatfield, Katz and Libfeld, You Know You Do is now four for six in his rookie season. The Peter Haughton champion, who was a $350,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase, has banked $253,872. "He was exceptional tonight," said co-owner Katz. "This is a really top-end colt and we are thrilled and proud of him." You Know You Do paid $3.60 to win. You Know You Do The second division saw Frank Antonacci trainees finish one-two in a three-horse win photo. Cruising In Style and driver Anthony MacDonald went to the front and tried to trot away from their rivals. The son of Muscle Mass posted fractions of :29, :58.4 and 1:27.3 to lead by three-lengths turning for home. Antonacci trainees Night Rhythm and Kinda Lucky Lindy sat third and fourth at the head of the lane and both unleashed strong stretch rallies to chase down the leader. Night Rhythm came up the inside with driver Scott Zeron, while Kinda Lucky Lindy and driver Rick Zeron were charging on the outside. At the wire, Night Rhythm prevailed by a head over Kinda Lucky Lindy and half a length over Cruising In Style for a 1:57.2 maiden-breaking score. Owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and Robert Rudolph, Night Rhythm came into the Champlain after competing in a pair of Stallion Series events in Pennsylvania. "I think they chose to race him in The Stallion Series just to keep him brave," said Scott Zeron post-race. "They did the right thing, it worked out today. I had to nurse him a bit in the last turn, but we turned into a sprint down the lane." Night Rhythm is now one for three to start his career with $53,540 earned. The Muscle Hill colt was a $160,000 purchase at last October's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. Katz and Libfeld, who captured the other two Grand Circuit events Friday, bred Night Rhythm to add to their big night. Night Rhythm paid $6.30 to win. Night Rhythm The William Wellwood Memorial eliminations (Monday, September 11) are next on the calendar for the two-year-old trotters. You Know You Do and Night Rhythm are both eligible. Grand Circuit week continues Saturday evening at Mohawk Racetrack with the $615,000 Canadian Pacing Derby headlining a stakes-packed card. The 'Pacing Derby' undercard features the Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old trotters and the Champlain Stakes for two-year-old pacers. Post time is 7:30 p.m. For results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Mohawk Racetrack. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, September 10 - The Champlain and Simcoe Stakes concluded for another harness racing season Saturday evening at Mohawk Racetrack. A total of 5 Grand Circuit divisions were contested with the feature event being the $204,040 Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old pacers. The Champlain Open and Champlain Filly categories each featured two divisions. Betting Line, the 2016 Pepsi North America Cup champion, overcame post ten to win his 11th consecutive race in Saturday's $204,040 Simcoe Stakes. The Casie Coleman trained colt got away fifth with driver David Miller, while Lyons Snyder powered to the front in :27. The leader continued to motor along in the second-quarter and reached the half in :54. As Lyons Snyder set big fractions, the field was strung out and Betting Line was 11 lengths from the front at the half. Lyons Snyder took the field by three-quarters in 1:20.4 and had an eight length advantage on Betting Line, who was getting into gear and fourth. In the stretch, Betting Line was able to reel in Lyons Snyder and get by in deep stretch for a half-length victory in 1:49.1. Voracity finished third, while Easy Lover Hanover was fourth. Betting Line's Simcoe victory extends his current win streak to 11. The Coleman trainee's only loss came in his 2016 season debut. The son of Bettor's Delight has earned over $1.2 million this season for owners West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol. Betting Line is now a 17-time winner with career earnings exceeding $1.8 million. His next start will be in the Little Brown Jug on Thursday, September 22. Betting Line Metro Pace winner Beyond Delight returned to the winner's circle in a $105,474 Champlain division. Driver Sylvain Filion switched up his approach and put Beyond Delight on the front end. The Tony O'Sullivan trainee cut out fractions of :27, :56.4 and 1:24.4 to lead the field into the lane. Beyond Delight, who felt first up pressure from Filibuster Hanover on the far turn, turned away all rivals and pulled away late for a two length victory in 1:52.1. Blood Line finished second, while Windsong Napoleon was fillied with pace and finished third. A son of Bettors Delight, Beyond Delight now has three consecutive victories after starting his career winless in seven. The O'Sullivan trainee, who was a $50,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg, has broken through in recent weeks with his Metro Pace victory and now has over $420,000 earned for owners Jeffrey & Michael Snyder and Four Friends Racing Stable LLC. Beyond Delight paid $3.50 to win. Beyond Delight Coming off a third-place finish in the Metro Pace, Ideal Wheel turned heads with an unorthodox victory in the other $105,474 Champlain division. The Casie Coleman trained colt was pushed to the front by driver David Miller to cut an opening-quarter of :27.3. Ideal Wheel then really took off and paced a :26.3 second-quarter to lead by more than 11 lengths at the half in :54.1. The son of American Ideal just continued to go full throttle around the final turn and reached the three-quarter pole in a jaw-dropping 1:20.3, with more 13 lengths back to his nearest rival. As expected, Ideal Wheel began to fade in the stretch, but his lead was too much for any rival to overcome. The Coleman trainee paced a :31.1 final-quarter, but won by 2¼ lengths in a career-best 1:51.4. Very Special Agent finished second, while Odds On Delray, the Metro Pace Consolation winner, was third. Ideal Wheel is owned by Mac Nichol and was a $150,000 yearling purchase at last year's Harrisburg Sale. The Coleman trainee now has three wins from six starts and over $155,000 earned to begin his career. Ideal Wheel paid $2.90 to win. Ideal Wheel Everyones Watching broke her maiden with a 1:52.4 victory in the $104,566 Champlain Filly first division. The Tony Alagna trained filly got a patient drive from Jody Jamieson, as she sat fourth throughout the opening stages. Everyones Watching was edged to the outside nearing the three-quarter pole to catch cover into the lane. The daughter of Artiscape unleashed a :26.4 final-quarter to get up for the win. Windy Sport, who provided the cover for the winner, finished a neck back in second, while Happy Hannah, who cut the mile, was third. A $100,000 yearling purchase at last year's Harrisburg Sale, Everyones Watching was coming into the Champlain off a fourth place effort in the Shes A Great Lady. The rookie pacing filly was winless in five starts before Saturday, but had never finished out of the money. Everyones Watching pushed her earnings over the $100,000 mark with her Champlain score. She is owned by Riverview Raicng LLC, Deo Volente Farms LLC, Crawford Farms Racing and Steve Wienick. The Alagna trainee paid $9.80 to win. Everyones Watching Blameitonthenight captured the $106,066 second division to make it an Alagna sweep of the Champlain Filly Stakes. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Blameitonthenight came first up in the middle-half to take a narrow lead at the three-quarter pole in 1:24.3. In the stretch, Blameitonthenight had to fight off stablemate Awash to win by half a length in 1:53.2. Stonebridge Sundae finished third, while Southwind Ion was fourth. A daughter of Mach Three, Blameitonthenight now has three wins in seven starts to bring her earnings total to over $110,000. She is owned by Alagna Racing LLC, Crawford Farms Racing and Donna Ozment. Blameitonthenight paid $17.90 to win. Blameitonthenight Grand Circuit week is officially over at Mohawk, but harness racing's finest will return next Saturday (September 17) for Maple Leaf Trot and Canadian Trotting Classic night.   Mark McKelvie

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