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Harness Racing This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, Sam McKee Memorial, Lady Liberty, Dr. John Steele Memorial, Cane Pace, Shady Daisy, Peter Haughton Memorial, and Jim Doherty Memorial, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action takes place this Saturday (Aug. 8) at Meadowlands Racetrack with one of the biggest Grand Circuit cards of the season. The afternoon program is led by the $1 million Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $284,200 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $229,660 Sam McKee Memorial for older pacers, the $177,100 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $166,550 Dr. John Steele Memorial for older trotting mares, the $273,125 Cane Pace, the first leg of Pacing's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, the $90,525 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old pacing fillies, the $319,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $350,300 Jim Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old filly trotters. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Catch The Fire hung tough against a host of pursuers Saturday (Aug. 1) to capture the $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows and provide an indelible career highlight for trainer John Ackey. Chief Mate (Scott Zeron) rallied for second at 50-1 while the hard-used No Lou Zing (Josert Fonseca).earned show. The winning time over a sloppy surface was 1:49.3. Catch The Fire hung tough against a host of pursuers to capture the $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows. Chris Gooden photo. After Elver Hanover (Chris Page) seized the early lead from post nine, Wilder and Catch The Fire quarter-poled to the point, where they faced a backside challenge from No Lou Zing. "I was really worried about that horse," Wilder said. "He went a humongous trip in the elimination. He showed he can take a lot of air. I couldn't shake him, and then a whole herd of them came at me. But my horse dug in. He's true grit." Five horses remained live in deep stretch, but none could reach Catch The Fire, the 2-1 second choice in the wagering off his elimination win last week. Last year's Kentucky Sires Stake champion, Catch The Fire soared over $400,000 in career earnings. Ackley, who trains a small stable at Ohio's Fayette County Fairgrounds and operated a forklift for 20 years before switching to racing, called the Adios victory the highlight of his career. "It's a big win, to have a horse that can compete at this level and win," Ackley said. "No way I could have imagined this; it's fantastic." For Wilder, the triumph was even more emotional. An Ohio native who has been a fixture at The Meadows for many years, Wilder and his family are exceptionally active in many aspects of racing and the community. His wife, Heather, is a popular interviewer on harness shows while serving as president of the United States Harness Writers Association Keystone Chapter. Their teenage daughters, Scarlett and Lauren, also are active in USHWA. Yet even though Wilder has amassed more than 8,300 career wins, he had never finished better than fourth in an Adios final. He choked up as he tried to describe his emotions. "This means the world to me," Wilder said. "The Good Lord is in control of everything in this world, and I was the lucky man today. It means everything for my kids to see it and for my wife to be here. It's something I'll never forget. It's something that may never happen again, although you wish it would." Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 277; 2. Tim Tetrick - 189; 3. Dexter Dunn - 174; 4. Andrew McCarthy - 167; 5. Brian Sears - 154. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 301; 2. Nancy Takter - 190; 3. Marcus Melander - 158; 4. Ake Svanstedt - 144; 5. Tony Alagna - 127. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 62.5; 2. S R F Stable - 60; 3. Brad Grant - 58.6; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 51; 5. Black Horse Racing - 50. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Northfield Park with the Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old pacers; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for free for all pacers; at the Indiana State Fair with the Fox Stake highlighting 10 stakes; at Tioga Downs with the Crawford Farm and Joie De Vie for older trotters and Artiscape for older pacing mares; at The Meadows with the Arden Downs for 3-year-old colt trotters; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Harness Racing This Week: Delvin Miller Adios, Adioo Volo and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. and Hambletonian, Peter Haughton Memorial and Jim Doherty Memorial eliminations, Tompkins-Geers and Miss Versatility, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action begins this Wednesday (July 29) at The Meadows with two divisions in the $38,244 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly trotters and two divisions in the $37,644 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt trotters. The Saturday (Aug. 1) card at The Meadows features the $375,000 Delvin Miller Adios for 3-year-old male pacers and also includes the $107,320 Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, three divisions in the $59,688 Arden Downs for freshman colt and gelding pacers, and the $35,690 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly pacers. Grand Circuit racing at The Meadowlands begins on Friday (July 31) with two $20,000 eliminations in the Jim Doherty Memorial 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 (Aug. 1), The Meadowlands will contest a pair of $50,000 Hambletonian eliminations for 3-year-old open trotters, plus the $84,800 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old colt pacers, the $53,100 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old filly pacers and the $40,000 fourth leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Manchego put on a display of devastating speed in a gate-to-wire victory in the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot at Plainridge Park on Sunday (July 26) and set a new world record for older trotting mares over a five-eighths-mile track when she tripped the timer in 1:49.3. Manchego broke her own world record of 1:50.1 set at Hollywood Dayton Raceway in 2019. The time also smashed the all-age track trotting record at Plainridge Park, besting the 1:51.2 set by JL Cruze in the 2017 Spirit Trot. Manchego proceeded to the wire under no urging at all to win wrapped-up by 2-1/2 lengths. Tom Melanson photo. Dexter Dunn had Manchego revved up off the gate and shot right for the lead with Atlanta (Yannick Gingras) dropping in the pocket from post seven as the race passed the quarter in a blistering :25.2. The field remained in single file as Manchego marched to the half in :53.3 and the three-quarters in 1:21 with Atlanta in deliberate pursuit. As the pair trotted away from the field around the last turn, Gingras pulled Atlanta off the pylons to take her best shot at the leader. But as soon as she pulled, Manchego accelerated, opened up two lengths and proceeded to the wire under no urging at all to win wrapped-up by 2-1/2 lengths. Atlanta held on for second and Run Director (David Miller) closed fast to finish third. It was the 31st career win for Manchego ($3.00) and pushed her lifetime earnings to $2,342,705. The 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic is owned by Black Horse Racing and is trained by Nancy Takter. One race earlier in the $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace, Shartin N made herself right at home again at Plainridge as she broke the all-age track record of 1:49.1 that she set just last year. Tim Tetrick put Shartin N on the point immediately as Kissin In The Sand (Gingras) left from post four and followed closely with the two-hole trip. After the quick :26.2 quarter and with no pressure at all, Tetrick backed down the second panel to :28.1 and the race seemed well in control for him at that point. By the five-eighths, Gingras pulled Kissin In The Sand and tried to draw alongside Shartin N, but never got closer than a length around the far turn. Tetrick eased the lines a bit and gave Shartin N her head and the mare swelled up down the lane, opening up 2-1/4 lengths in a :27 last panel and won in 1:48.1. Stablemate Soho Burning Love A (Jordan Stratton) rallied late to finish second and 38-1 shot Philly Hanover (Dexter Dunn) completed the board. This was the 44th career victory for Shartin N ($2.60) who has now earned $2,244,946 for owners Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King and Tim Tetrick. The 7-year-old daughter of Tintin In America-Bagdarin is trained by Jim King Jr. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 217; 2. Brian Sears - 152; 3. Dexter Dunn - 117; 4. Andrew McCarthy - 110; 5. Tim Tetrick - 102. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 229; 2. Nancy Takter - 150; 3. Marcus Melander - 124; 4. Ake Svanstedt - 109; 5. Tony Alagna - 77. Owners: 1. S R F Stable - 55; 2. Burke Racing Stable - 46.9; 3. Courant Inc. - 45; 4. Brad Grant - 41.1; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 40.9. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Meadowlands Racetrack. The track will host 10 Grand Circuit events, led by the $1 million Hambletonian, the first leg of Trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, and the $300,000 Cane Pace, the first leg of Pacing's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

WASHINGTON, PA, July 25, 2020--Papi Rob Hanover blazed his way to the $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids in a world record 1:47.1, a world record for a 3-year-old colt on a five-eighths mile track. Also winning eliminations Saturday at The Meadows were The Greek Freak and Catch The Fire.   Joining the three winners in the Aug. 1 final are Later Dudes, Chief Mate, No Lou Zing, Sweet Truth, Capt Midnight and Elver Hanover. Connections of the elimination winners will choose their post positions Tuesday, with their order of selection determined by random draw. All other post positions will be randomly drawn.   The Adios Day card is a blockbuster, featuring two Grand Circuit stakes in addition to the Adios as well as Pennsylvania Sires Stake and PA Stallion Series action.   The Meadowlands Pace runner-up, Papi Rob Hanover was comfortably in front after quarter-poling to the point for David Miller following Captain Barbossa's unrealistic 25.3 opening panel. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Panera Hanover reached three-quarters in 1:20.3, but he wasn't done yet, clicking off the final panel in 26.3. Sweet Truth was second-placed third,10-1/2 lengths back, while No Lou Zing was elevated to second.       Brett Pelling, who trains Papi Rob Hanover for David McDuffee, said he wasn't concerned that the swift mile might leave him short next week.   "He came out of the Meadowlands Pace great, and he proves he needs to race. He just needs more racing," Pelling said. "Every race has been better than the one before, so he's on the right track.   "Could he bounce off that? He's a big, strong horse. Nothing's ever knocked him around yet, so he'll be fine."   The time knocked a tick from Betting Line's previous world record. In addition, the mile is the fastest ever paced at The Meadows, lowering Bolt The Duer's former standard of 1:47.4.   Catch The Fire endured a demanding opening panel--26.2 while wide--and held on gamely to score in a career best 1:49.3 for Mike Wilder, trainer John Ackley and owner CT Stables.Capt Midnight was a head back in second, with Elver Hanover third.       "He could have been fourth or fifth in the Meadowlands Pace final, but we got hung up at the top of the lane," Wilder said. "When you're going miles in 1:47, you can't get stopped. Today I wanted to make my own luck. He showed up like he always does."   After a brief skirmish for the lead, The Greek Freak controlled the mile and earned his berth in the final with a 1:49.4 win, fastest of his career and his fourth straight victory. His job was made a touch easier by the break of the pocket-sitting Sandbetweenmytoes as the field straightened for home. Later Dudes was second, beaten 1/2 length, while Chief Mate completed the ticket.       "He's getting better every start," said winning driver Matt Kakaley."He was really, really good again today. We got an easy second quarter. That's what we wanted to do, save some for next week. I'm really happy with him and looking forward to next week."   Ron Burke conditions the Captaintreacherous-Thirty X gelding for Burke Racing Stable, Piatt Racing, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.   By Evan Pattak, for the MSOA        

Harness Racing This Week: Spirit of Massachusetts and Clara Barton, Plainridge Racecourse, Plainville, Mass.; Nadia Lobell, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; Tompkins-Geers, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. and Delvin Miller Adios eliminations, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action begins this Friday (July 24) at Harrah's Hoosier Park with the $100,000 Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old pacing fillies. The Saturday (July 25) Grand Circuit card at The Meadowlands features the $89,100 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old trotting colts and a pair of $42,700 divisions of the Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Saturday Grand Circuit action also includes three $25,000 Delvin Miller Adios eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers at The Meadows. On Sunday (July 26), Plainridge will feature the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts for open trotters and the $100,000 Clara Barton for pacing mares. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Tall Dark Stranger is a danger, especially with his back to the wall. Pushed to the max by old rival Papi Rob Hanover, Tall Dark Stranger battled back in deep stretch to win the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace by a neck on Saturday night (July 18) at The Meadowlands. Tall Dark Stranger battled back in deep stretch to win the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace by a neck. Lisa photo. In a gutsy effort, Tall Dark Stranger, the 1-2 favorite, captured the first major stakes of the season for 3-year-old pacers. Normally, the Pace follows the North America Cup, but the ongoing pandemic shuffled the calendar. This time, the Pace was the division's lead-off event, and it was a dandy. Tall Dark Stranger, last year's Dan Patch Award winner, took charge with a strong move down the backstretch. Papi Rob Hanover and driver David Miller ranged up to challenge on the turn and fought their way to a clear advantage in the stretch. Even driver Yannick Gingras thought he and Tall Dark Stranger were finished. "Honestly, at the top of the stretch, I thought he was beat," Gingras said. "This horse is just so gritty. He wants to fight them off. Papi was a half a length by me." Tall Dark Stranger wasn't done in this shootout. He surged again, pushing back to secure the win and give Gingras his second Pace win. It wrote another chapter in a rivalry that dates back to the 2019 Breeders Crown, where Tall Dark Stranger was elevated to victory when Papi Rob Hanover was disqualified for interference. "I said after the Breeders Crown that he was coming back to win that race," Gingras said. "There are a lot of doubters out there, but tonight is the proof that my horse loves to fight." Tall Dark Stranger improved his season mark to 3-for-3 with the 11th win of his 12-race career. Nancy Takter, daughter of Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, got her first Pace victory, following Linda Toscano as consecutive female training winners of The Meadowlands Racetrack's signature event. It was also the second straight Pace win for sire Bettor's Delight following last year's 27-1 upset by Best In Show. Tall Dark Stranger became the sport's latest millionaire for the ownership team of Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. The time for the mile was 1:47.2. Brett Pelling, all-time Pace training leader with four wins, settled for second and third, with Papi Rob Hanover and Allywag Hanover. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 195; 2. Brian Sears - 127; 3. Dexter Dunn - 117; 4. Tim Tetrick - 92; 5. Scott Zeron - 87. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 195; 2. Nancy Takter - 120; 3t. Marcus Melander - 104; 3t. Ake Svanstedt - 104; 5. Tony Alagna - 50. Owners: 1. Courant Inc. - 45; 2. Burke Racing Stable - 38.4; 3. Crawford Farms Racing - 38; 4. S R F Stable - 35; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 33.4. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at The Meadows and Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadows will host six Grand Circuit events, led by the final of the Delvin Miller Adios for 3-year-old pacing colts. Meadowlands Racetrack will host eliminations for four lucrative stakes, led by the Hambletonian for 3-year-old colt trotters, as well as the Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old pacers and the fourth leg of the Miss Versatility for trotting mares. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

This Week: Meadowlands Pace, Hambletonian Maturity, W.R. Haughton Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Delvin Miller Memorial, Dorothy Haughton Memorial, and Miss Versatility, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. Schedule of events: The stakes heavy Saturday (July 18) Grand Circuit card at The Meadowlands features the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds, the $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, the $391,300 W.R. Haughton Memorial (and $123,100 consolation) for free for all pacers, two divisions in the $284,500 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, the $253,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old filly pacers, the $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial for older pacing mares, and a $40,000 division of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Saturday Grand Circuit action also includes the $42,610 Arden Downs for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadows. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Hurrikane Emperor provided an upset in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers while 1-5 favorite Gimpanzee took care of business in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters Saturday night (July 11) at The Meadowlands. Hurrikane Emperor provided an upset in the $250,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers. Lisa photo. Hurrikane Emperor (Mark MacDonald), sent off as the fifth choice at odds of 7-1, was second over in fourth at three-quarters before coming three-wide off the last turn and storming through the stretch to reign by 1-1/2 lengths over Workin Ona Mystery (Tim Tetrick) in 1:47, the fastest mile of the season. Dancin Lou (Brian Sears) finished third. Favorite Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn) was eighth. MacDonald drove Hurrikane Emperor to victory for trainer John McDermott and owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, and William Garofalo. "I really thought he was going to be awesome tonight and Mark gave him the most beautiful drive in the world," McDermott said. "It worked out beautifully." Hurrikane Emperor, by Hurrikane Kingcole out of the mare Hurrikane Schmumma, has won 13 of 22 career races and $528,226. In the Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters, Gimpanzee (Sears) saw Reign Of Honor (David Miller) lead the field around the first turn but moved to the front at the quarter on his way to a 1:50.4 triumph for trainer Marcus Melander. Reign Of Honor, also trained by Melander, was second and Chin Chin Hall (Dunn) finished third. The winning margin was one length. Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, is 3-for-3 this year and has won 20 of 26 career races. A Dan Patch Award winner at age 2, the stallion has banked $1.88 million for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. "Reign Of Honor finishing second from a bad post (10) was a little bit shocking that he was so fast behind the gate," Melander said. "Gimpanzee was supposed to win, but finishing first and second, I'm very pleased. "(Gimpanzee) is doing what he's supposed to do. He's going to go back next week for the Hambletonian Maturity, so it was nice to get a nice race on the lead. I was very happy with what I saw. The horse is getting more in form. Even though he's been racing great, I can feel him getting sharper and sharper. It will be very exciting to continue racing with him." Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 155; 2. Brian Sears - 72; 3. Dexter Dunn - 67; 4. Tim Tetrick - 62; 5. Scott Zeron - 42. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 170; 2. Marcus Melander - 69; 3. Ake Svanstedt - 67; 4. Nancy Takter - 60; 5. John McDermott - 32. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 32.1; 2. Crawford Farms Racing - 28; 3. Weaver Bruscemi - 27.1; 4. S R F Stable - 25; 5. J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby - 23.8. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Saratoga Casino Hotel, Harrah's Hoosier Park, The Meadows, The Meadowlands and Plainridge Racecourse. Saratoga will have the Joe Gerrity for older pacers; Hoosier will host the Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old filly pacers; The Meadows will have eliminations for the Adios for 3-year-old colt pacers; The Meadowlands will host the Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters; and Plainridge will feature the Spirit of Massachusetts for open trotters and the Clara Barton for pacing mares. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

Pacing For The Cure is pleased to share this exciting announcement. Beginning July 18, CT Stables will be donating four percent of winning purse money from the 3-year-old pacing colt Catch The Fire's Grand Circuit races in 2020 to two charities, Pacing For The Cure and Cell Phones For Soldiers. This donation will be split equally between both charities and will apply to any top three finishes earned by the 3-year-old colt; plus an added bonus if the colt wins any Grand Circuit races. Pacing For The Cure is excited to join together with Cell Phones For Soldiers through the 3-year-old campaign of Catch The Fire. CT Stables is a strong supporter of Cell Phones For Soldiers and the colt's driver, Mike Wilder, is a strong supporter of Pacing For the Cure, thus a unique connection for both charities. CT Stables owner Charles Taylor commented, "I hope to see other stables, owners, trainers, drivers and breeders get involved in supporting these two great charities." We welcome horsemen, racetracks, breeding farms, and Standardbred horse sales across the country to consider placing cell phone recycling bins throughout their work places. Pacing For The Cure is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization co-founded by Jeff and Janine Gesek of Southern New Jersey. Pacing For The Cure provides medical equipment and services to individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), and Cerebral Palsy in financial need. Pacing For The Cure also funds medical research to find cures for these debilitating diseases. For more information about Pacing For The Cure email Jeff@pacingforthecure.org. Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization co-founded by Robbie and Brittany Bergquist. Cell Phones For Soldiers is dedicated to providing cost free communication services for active duty military members. They accept all used cell phone technology and recycle them for cash to fund prepaid calling cards. Cell Phones For Soldiers "Gives a Hero a Lifeline" by connecting families and military members with the Minutes That Matter Program. For more information about Cell Phones For Soldiers email Rob@cellphonesforsoldiers.com. (Pacing For The Cure) From Pacing For The Cure  

This Week: Graduate Series finals, Meadowlands Pace elimination, W.N. Reynolds Memorial and Miss Versatility leg, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. and MGM Springfield Stakes final, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: This week's Grand Circuit racing will open on Friday (July 10) at The Meadowlands with the $40,000 second leg of the Miss Versatility for open trotting mares. Cutler Memorial champion Atlanta leads a field of nine into this race. The Saturday (July 11) card at The Meadowlands features the $250,000 Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old open pacers and trotters; a single $50,000 Meadowlands Pace elimination for 3-year-old pacers; the $61,000 Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters; and two divisions in the $88,800 Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters. Yonkers Raceway will host the $104,250 MGM Springfield Stakes final for 2-year-old pacing colts next Monday (July 13). A pair of elimination races for the stake were held this past Monday. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: In what is now unquestionably harness racing's best rivalry, Atlanta bested Manchego in Saturday night's (July 4) $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free-for-allers at The Meadowlands in round two of the rabid duel between the top two trotters in training. Atlanta bested Manchego in Saturday night's (July 4) $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free-for-allers at The Meadowlands. Lisa photo. Two weeks ago, Manchego held off Atlanta by a nose in the Miss Versatility in the fastest trotting mile of the year of 1:50. Things panned out similarly this time around, except that Atlanta got the better of her foe. Atlanta (post five) was the first away from the gate and led into the first turn. Driver Yannick Gingras was willing to yield to Manchego (post six) and Dexter Dunn, but not before extending that one ever so slightly into a sizzling opening quarter of :25.4. "Maybe not :25.4," was Gingras' response when asked about the fast opening fraction. "I didn't think we'd be going that fast. I definitely wanted to stretch her out. I had drawn inside of her and wanted to take advantage of it." That took just enough starch out of the even-money choice. While rating the middle half, Manchego took a stiff challenge from 17-1 longshot Chin Chin Hall, who was on even terms with the leader while parked at three-quarters in 1:23.1. Once straightened away in the stretch, Manchego and Atlanta - who opted to get behind Chin Chin Hall coming out of the far turn before swerving three-wide into the lane - would once again duke it out, just as they did on June 19. In deep stretch, it would be Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner, prevailing by a half-length in 1:50.1, just a fifth of a second slower than round one. Lindy The Great rallied to get third. "There were some anxious moments around the last turn," said Gingras. "We were going pretty slow, and there was strategy on both sides. He was trying to keep me locked in. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze out. I thought I had it won at the top of the stretch when I cleared." The Ron Burke-trained Atlanta, a 5-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip, returned $5.40 as the 8-5 second choice in the wagering. She's won 21 of 41 career starts for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor, and became harness racing's newest double millionaire, as her earnings swelled to $2,006,089. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 95; 2. Tim Tetrick - 52; 3. Dexter Dunn - 47; 4. Brian Sears - 42; 5. Aaron Merriman - 30. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 160; 2. Marcus Melander - 34; 3t. Nifty Norman - 20; 3t. Norm Parker - 20; 3t. Nancy Takter - 20. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 32.1; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 27.1; 3. J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby - 23.8; 4. Black Horse Racing - 20; 5. L & L Stables - 12. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will once again be taking place next weekend at The Meadowlands. The massive July 18 Meadowlands card will offer the Meadowlands Pace final, the William Haughton Memorial, the Hambletonian Maturity, the Stanley Dancer Trot, the Del Miller Memorial, the Mistletoe Shalee, the Dorothy Haughton Memorial and the third leg of the Miss Versatility. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

This Week: Cutler Memorial and Graduate Series, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. and Currier & Ives, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. Schedule of events: This week's Grand Circuit racing will take place on Saturday (July 4) at The Meadowlands with the $170,900 Cutler Memorial for older trotters and three $50,000 divisions in the second leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old open pacers. The mares Atlanta and Manchego will battle again as part of an 11-horse field in the Cutler. Also on Saturday, The Meadows will host the $102,245 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old open trotters and a pair of $32,297 divisions of the Currier & Ives for 3-year-old filly trotters. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: It wasn't easy, but Gimpanzee came from well off the pace to win one of two $50,000 divisions of the Graduate Series' second leg for 4-year-old trotters on Saturday (June 27) at The Meadowlands in a lifetime-best 1:50.2. Gimpanzee came from well off the pace to win one of two $50,000 divisions of the Graduate Series' second leg in a lifetime-best 1:50.2. Lisa photo. Driver Brian Sears opted to race the two-time Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes champion from off the pace after a highly contentious several-horse scrum into the first turn had him take back to seventh at the quarter. "I knew the horse to beat was Chin Chin Hall and I wasn't going to press my horse early," said Sears. The son of Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows was sixth in a third-over flow at three-quarters as Chin Chin Hall was sailing along on the lead. But Gimpanzee still had plenty of fuel in the tank. Despite having 4-1/2 lengths to make up through the final three-sixteenths, the Marcus Melander trainee was up to the task, rocketing home in :27 to best Chin Chin Hall by a half-length. Kings County was third. "Gimpanzee is everything you want in a racehorse," said Sears. "I thought (Chin Chin Hall) was going to be spent (in the latter stages) and I thought we had a chance. My horse is a gamer and knows what we are trying to accomplish. He put his head down and did what he had to do." Gimpanzee paid $2.60 to win as the 1-5 favorite in raising his lifetime numbers to 19 wins from 25 starts, good for earnings of $1,770,111 for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. Southwind Avenger won the other Graduate division in 1:51.3 at odds of 22-1, for driver Andy McCarthy. Don't Let'em, the 4-5 favorite, broke at the start and finished last in the field of nine. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Brian Sears - 40; 2. Tim Tetrick - 32; 3. Dexter Dunn - 27; 4t. Aaron Merriman - 20; 4t. Dave Palone - 20. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 55; 2. Marcus Melander - 34; 3t. Nifty Norman - 20; 3t. Norm Parker - 20; 5t. (seven trainers are tied with 10 points). Owners: 1t. Burke Racing Stable - 11.3; 1t. J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby - 11.3; 1t. Weaver Bruscemi - 11.3. 4t. Black Horse Racing - 10; 4t. Oldford Racing - 10. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at The Meadowlands. The July 10 Meadowlands program will feature the second leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares, while the massive July 11 Meadowlands card will offer the finals of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers and trotters; Reynolds Memorial divisions for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters; and eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Harness Racing This Week: Graduate Series, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. Schedule of events: This week's Grand Circuit schedule will again feature Graduate Series racing on Saturday (June 27) at The Meadowlands with two $50,000 divisions in the second leg for 4-year-old open trotters. First leg winners Gimpanzee and Grand Swan will square off in the second division on Saturday. Grand Circuit action will also be held Saturday at The Meadows with two $26,764 divisions in the Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: The Roll With Joe Open Pace, sponsored by Blue Chip Farms, was full of anticipation as Bettor's Wish kicked off his 4-year-old season following his dominant sophomore year and was upset by Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) at Tioga Downs on Sunday (June 21). Backstreet Shadow Backstreet Shadow and Tim Tetrick won the Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs. Fred Brown photo. Backstreet Shadow ($10) and This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) both timed the gate perfectly, with Backstreet Shadow making the lead through the first turn before the first quarter in :26.2. He would face no pressure through a :54.2 half, but None Bettor A (Andrew McCarthy) would pull the pocket heading up the backstretch, but he could not collar the leader, only getting within three-quarters of a length. Heading around the last turn, a host of others took their shot at the leader, but to no avail with Backstreet Shadow drawing off to win by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:49. None Bettor A held on to second, and after being parked the mile, Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn) closed to be third. Backstreet Shadow, a 5-year-old by Shadow Play, now has career earnings just shy of $575,000 with 22 wins in 46 starts for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr, and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 32; 2. Brian Sears - 30; 3. Dexter Dunn - 22; 4. Yannick Gingras - 15; 5. Mark MacDonald - 10. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 35; 2. Marcus Melander - 22; 3t. Brian Brown - 10; 3t. Tahnee Camilleri - 10; 3t. John McDermott - 10. Owners: 1. Black Horse Racing - 10; 2. Oldford Racing - 7.5; 3t. Burke Racing Stable - 6.3; 3t. J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby - 6.3; 3t. Weaver Bruscemi - 6.3. Looking ahead: Next weekend Grand Circuit action will once again be taking place at The Meadowlands. On the schedule will be the Cutler Memorial for older trotters and the second leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers. Paul Ramlow

Harness Racing This Week: Miss Versatility, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. and Roll With Joe and Graduate Series, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: This week's Grand Circuit schedule opens on Friday (June 19) at The Meadowlands with the $40,000 opening leg of the Miss Versatility for trotting mares, featuring another battle between Atlanta and Manchego. Grand Circuit action will also be held this week on Sunday (June 21) with the $164,000 Roll With Joe for open pacers and three $50,000 divisions in the first leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old open pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: The 2019 USHWA Trainer of the Year Marcus Melander picked up right where he left off on Sunday (June 14) at Tioga Downs, picking up a pair of victories in the $50,000 Graduate Series divisions with Gimpanzee and Grand Swan. Gimpanzee won by 1-1/4 lengths over Chin Chin Hall in 1:51.2 Last year's Breeders Crown 3-year-old colt trot champion Gimpanzee (Brian Sears), making his first start of the year, quickly went to the lead from post six. He led Chin Chin Hall (Dexter Dunn) through a torrid opening marker of :26.4, before getting a breather in the second panel of :28.2 (:55.1). As the field moved up the backstretch, Gimpanzee faced no challengers and leisurely trotted through three-quarters in 1:23, with Chin Chin Hall and Reign Of Honor (David Miller) in tow. As they trotted through the stretch, no one could get close to Gimpanzee who was hand driven through the stretch by Sears, winning by 1-1/4 lengths over Chin Chin Hall in 1:51.2. Reign Of Honor wound up third. Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows) scored his 18th victory in 24 lifetime starts, pushing his earnings to $1,745,111 for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. Grand Swan completed the Melander sweep with a game performance in the second division of the Graduate. Pure Chance (Aaron Merriman) wasted no time getting to the front, pushing the gate away to a 1-1/4 length advantage. Pure Chance would have company around the first turn in the form of Hatikvah (Mattais Melander) and Grand Swan (Brian Sears). Sears patiently guided Grand Swan to the front after an early three-wide skirmish just past the quarter in :27.3. Sears was able to control the fractions on the front end with a :29.1 (:56.4) second panel, leading Grand Swan and a parked out Hatikvah into the backstretch for the last time. Heading to the three-quarter marker in 1:25, Grand Swan tried to get away, but Merriman latched onto the Sears helmet and would take his shot through the stretch. The second victory for Sears and Melander did not come as easily as it had in the first division, as Pure Chance tipped to the outside turning for home. Under a drive, Grand Swan dug in late, winning by a neck over a hard-charging Pure Chance in 1:53. Explosivebreakaway (Tom Jackson) closed to be third. Bred in Indiana by Larry Miller Jr. and owned by Never 2 Late Stable, Grand Swan Racing, Bruce Soulsby and Alan Weisenberg, Grand Swan (Swan For All-Queen Mum) was able to secure her 19th career victory in 28 starts. Her earnings now stand at $624,107. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Brian Sears - 20; 2t. Dexter Dunn - 5; 2t. Aaron Merriman - 5; 4t. Tom Jackson - 2; 4t. David Miller - 2. Trainers: 1. Marcus Melander - 22; 2t. Chris Beaver - 5; 2t. Nifty Norman - 5; 4. Fred Grant - 2. Owners: 1t. Courant Inc. - 5; 1t. S R F Stable - 5; 3t. (eight different owners with 2.5 points). Looking ahead: Next weekend Grand Circuit action will be taking place at The Meadowlands and The Meadows. The Meadowlands will feature the second leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old open trotters, while The Meadows will offer the Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters. by Paul Ramlow. publicity director, the Grand Circuit  

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will host the first harness racing Grand Circuit stakes of the 2020 season when the first trotting leg of the Graduate Series comes to town on Sunday evening.   Thirteen declarations split into two $50,000 divisions carded as races 11 and 12 on the fifteen race extravaganza.   Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) will face five rivals as he makes the Graduate his first start of hie 4-year-old campaign for trainer Marcus Melander and Swedish owners Courant, Inc. and SRF Stable. The son of Chapter Seven closed out his sophomore season powerfully with wins in the Yonkers Trot, NYSS Final and Breeders Crown to vault past $1 million in 2019 earnings.   The second split will feature trotting "Girl Power" as top mares Grand Swan and Pure Chance invade to the Empire State with powerful mid-west resumes.   Melander and Sears team up again to send out Grand Swan, who cashed in for over $400,000 by dominating the Indiana program last year for owners Never Too Late Stable, Grand Swan Racing, Soulsby and Weisenberg.   Pure Chance (Aaron Merriman) parlayed multiple wins in the Ohio Sires Stakes program with a few Grand Circuit scores into nearly a quarter million dollars in earnings for trainer Chris Beaver who shares ownership with Steven Zeehandelar.   Tioga will host the first leg of the Graduate Series for pacers on a card that includes the $175,000e Roll With Joe Open Pace and the opening leg of the 2020 New York Sires Stake for 3-year-old trotting fillies.   The Graduate Series moves to The Meadowlands for leg #2 for the trotters on June 27, leg #2 for pacers on July 4 and both $250,000 finals on July 11 at The Meadowlands on Meadowlands Pace elimination night.   The ive racing schedule at Tioga throughout the month of June is Sunday and Monday with a 4:00PM post time.   Nick Salvi    

Harness Racing This Week: Graduate Series, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. This is the opening event of the 2020 Grand Circuit season. Schedule of events: Tioga Downs will host the first Grand Circuit stakes of the 2020 season when the first trotting leg of the Graduate Series is held Sunday evening (June 14). Thirteen declarations split into two $50,000 divisions carded as races 11 and 12 on the 15-race extravaganza. Gimpanzee will face five rivals as he makes the Graduate the first start of his 4-year-old campaign. Mike Lizzi photo. Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) will face five rivals as he makes the Graduate the first start of his 4-year-old campaign for trainer Marcus Melander and owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. The son of Chapter Seven closed out his sophomore season powerfully with wins in the Yonkers Trot, New York Sire Stakes final and Breeders Crown to vault past $1 million in 2019 earnings. The second split will feature trotting "girl power" as top mares Grand Swan and Pure Chance invade the Empire State with powerful Midwest resumes. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue at Tioga as the track will host the first leg of the Graduate Series for pacers on a Sunday (June 21) card that also includes the $175,000 (est.) Roll With Joe Open Pace. Paul Ramlow

Nichols, NY – Tioga Downs will host the first harness racing Grand Circuit stake of the 2020 season when the 1st leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters comes to the Southern Tier of New York on Sunday (June 14). The draw for the June 14 card will be on Thursday (June 11) with a box closing at 9 a.m. Electronic entry for the Graduate Series is now available on etrack. Be advised that post time for all Tioga Downs race cards will be 4 p.m. on Sunday and Monday for the month of June. Horses shipping in for stakes will be assigned stalls in a ship-in barn and will remain in those stalls through the race. There is no detention and the track asks horsemen to ship up day of the race and ship back out as soon as practically possible. The NY COVID-19 protocol is available on the web and the practices are much like they are at Meadowlands. We are pleased to host the Graduate Series and other stakes but must insist that these guidelines are followed explicitly as to not jeopardize the track’s status. The Graduate Pacing Leg #1, Roll With Joe Open Pacing Stake and the NYSS for 3-year-old filly trotters will all be raced on Sunday (June 21). Questions should be directed to the racing office at 607.699.7688. Dan Leary

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands has processed the February nomination payments for the extensive Grand Circuit program of stakes and Early Closers. The lists of horses paid into those races is now posted on the track's website.   The number of horses nominated was down slightly, just 4% from the 2019 payments. Several older horse divisions saw a remarkable uptick with the Graduate Pace and Trot both at an all time high while the WR Haughton and Sam McKee Memorials rose to levels that haven't been seen for years.   Be reminded that the sustaining payments come due (postmarked by) March 16.   Also two brand new Early Closers have been added for Older Pacing Horses & Mares with a single payment of $1,000 due by March 16. They will serve as supporting stakes to the Cutler Memorial on the May 16 nationally televised broadcast for an estimated purse of $85,000.   Information on the stakes process is available on the web or by calling the Meadowlands Racing Office at (201) 842-5130.   From The Meadowlands

None Bettor A and Rodeo Rock hope to make strong impressions on the Grand Circuit this year and the two older male pacers will begin their journey together by making their harness racing seasonal debuts in Saturday's (Feb. 29) preferred at The Meadowlands. None Bettor A captured last year's Battle of Lake Erie as part of a campaign that saw him win 12 of 18 races and $375,970. Rodeo Rock, who won eight of 21 starts and $349,650, was victorious in two preliminary rounds of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series and finished second in the final. He also was second in the Commodore Barry Invitational. The two 7-year-old geldings are expected to head to the MGM Borgata Pacing Series (formerly Levy) at Yonkers Raceway when it begins March 14. The six-week series concludes April 18. None Bettor A won a qualifier in 1:51.2 on Feb. 22 at The Meadowlands. He finished second in a qualifier on Feb. 15. "He'll race this week and then get next week off before jumping into the (Borgata) series," trainer Andrew Harris said. "Hopefully he can earn himself a week off sometime in the series, but if not, this way he can go four or five races in a row if need be. It's tough. Things have to go right from the get-go. "He qualified great last week. It looks like they're ready to go (1):48 this week so I'm sure he'll get stretched out and whatever happens it will be good for moving him forward." Harris began training None Bettor A this past August. After joining his stable, the gelding won the Great Northeast Open Series final and finished second in the Bobby Quillen Memorial. The 2019 season was the Australian-bred horse's first year racing in North America. He is owned by Joe P Racing and Oldford Racing. "He's just one of the coolest horses I have in the barn," Harris said. "He doesn't do anything wrong. He was real anxious in his first qualifier but he'd been away (from the track) for a little while. Last week he was back to his normal self. "He's got good gate speed, but on a personal level, I just really like his demeanor in the barn and how he handles himself." None Bettor A, then in the stable of trainer Jennifer Bongiorno, won the Battle of Lake Erie at half-mile Northfield Park in a world-record equaling 1:49. "I think he's probably one of the better half-mile horses we'll see this year," Harris said. "But we've staked him to everything, so he's going to get his opportunities on the big track too." Rodeo Rock enters Saturday's preferred off a fourth-place finish in last week's qualifier won by None Bettor A. He was timed in 1:51.4. "He's been very good (coming back)," trainer Robert Cleary said. "We were very happy with the way he qualified last week. I thought it was pretty good, really." Rodeo Rock was sidelined because of health issues in midseason last year. He was away from the races for nearly two months but ended his campaign with four wins and two seconds in his last eight starts. "I was super happy with the way he raced in the Levy and the early stakes," said Cleary, who trains Rodeo Rock for owner Royal Wire Products Inc. "Then he ran into some health issues and we had to give him some time off, but he came back strong at the end of the year." Cleary plans to race Rodeo Rock on the Grand Circuit but will keep the horse close to his base in New Jersey rather than send him on extended trips. "He's a bad shipper, so I only staked him to the local tracks," Cleary said. "But he's as good on a small track as he is on a big track, you can race him anywhere and any way. He's going to have opportunities to make money. "He can carry his speed a long way, which is probably one of his biggest attributes. He's just a real good racehorse. He shows up every week." Racing begins at 6:55 p.m. (EST) Saturday at The Meadowlands. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

When opportunity knocked, Drew Monti answered. It led to the best season of the 25-year-old driver's career. Monti was amid what he called a "pedestrian" campaign at his home track, Buffalo Raceway, when he was presented an opportunity to drive regularly at Plainridge Park. It gave Monti the chance to make new, as well as strengthen previous, connections and drive in an increased number of stakes. By the end of 2019, his purse earnings were a career-best $2.24 million. Prior to last year, Monti had driven in two races worth at least $100,000. In 2019, he drove in 11. He won a Massachusetts Sire Stakes championship with Odds On Orlando and competed in Grand Circuit events at multiple tracks. He did not arrive at Plainridge until early June, but with the notable backing of Lindy Farms, posted 89 wins the rest of the meet. Only Mitchell Cushing and Drew Campbell won more races during that time. Monti also enjoyed success at Red Mile, winning 13 of 75 starts (only Dexter Dunn won more among drivers with fewer than 130 starts at the Lexington oval) while still finishing third in the standings at Buffalo and fourth at Batavia. "It was definitely my best year so far, including exposure," Monti said. "It's nothing even compared to what I'd gone through. Even just going to Plainridge for Lindy Farms and stuff, I feel like I made some big strides as far as taking it to the next level. "It's a great circuit at home, but if you really want to be in the game and do well, you have to get out there. Lindy really got me going. They got me out there and the rest of it snowballed from there. I'm very grateful to them for that." Monti has kicked off this year by driving at The Meadowlands and Buffalo. It is his first trip back to the Big M since the winter of 2017. He has nine wins in 86 starts at The Meadowlands heading into this weekend's action, when he will have a total of 17 drives on Friday and Saturday. "I talked with people about coming down and I'm glad I did," Monti said. "I'm happy to be there. It's been going pretty well, I think. "It's hard to pick where you're going to go. You kind of go where you're needed. Obviously, you've got to have enough work to make it worth your while. Anyone can say they're going somewhere, but to actually compete and have enough work to make it worthwhile is the key." Monti, a Buffalo native, has won 1,532 races in his career with earnings of $9.50 million. In addition to driving, he helps his dad, Darrin, with the family's training stable. The family ties make for difficult decisions when it comes to traveling. "I don't think it's a secret, I love Buffalo," Monti said. "I'm not saying I would be opposed to moving anywhere, but I like the area I live in and I'm very close with my family. That was one thing that was difficult for me. You can't be everywhere all the time. You've got to make sacrifices. Sometimes it was with our own horses back home. I'd be watching our horses race and it was the first time I wasn't the one driving them. That said, I can see the rewards. "I'm very happy with the last couple years and the way things have progressed. I'd like to continue at that pace. I'm not one to really push things. I like to kind of let it come to me. (Early last year) I was a little bummed because I wasn't doing that great at home. I was winning races, but it was just very pedestrian. It's funny; it just shows you how things can change." Monti, who so far in his career has won two driving titles at Batavia and one at Buffalo, hopes to have a schedule similar to 2019 this year. "I'm planning on going back to Plainridge, I'm planning to be available for stakes, Grand Circuit, stuff like that," Monti said. "I'll still make appearances at Buffalo as much as I can. It's hard to say because things can change so quickly and unpredictably. It's hard to plan exactly what you're doing." Because you never know when opportunity will knock.  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

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