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Earlier this month, filly Ariana G gave harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter his fourth consecutive win in the Hambletonian Oaks. On Friday, she will take on eight male rivals and try to provide Takter with a fourth straight victory in the open division of the Zweig Memorial at Vernon Downs. Ariana G is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the $320,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old trotters at Vernon. She will start from post five with driver Yannick Gingras as she attempts to become the first female since Moni Maker in 1996 to win an open division of the event. Takter's three most recent winners in the open division of the Zweig were colt Bar Hopping in 2016, gelding Pinkman in 2015 and colt Father Patrick in 2014. For her career, Ariana G has won 15 of 18 races and earned $1.2 million for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, who also bred the filly. Her connections could have raced Ariana G in the Zweig's filly division, but opted for the open in part because of the difference in the purses. The filly race goes for $135,000. Ariana G's connections faced a similar decision earlier this month when they entered the filly in the Hambletonian Oaks, which is restricted to female competition, rather than the Hambletonian, which is open to all 3-year-old trotters. The Hambletonian, though, contests its eliminations and final on the same day, unlike the Oaks which holds eliminations a week prior to the final. "I think it is a good time to give it a try," Takter said about entering the Zweig's open division. "It's almost three times the purse and I think she's very compatible with these boys. And it's one race. The reason we didn't go into the Hambletonian was because it was two heats. "(In the Zweig) I think she is probably going to go off as the post time favorite. I think she is as good as them. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think so." Ariana G, who received the 2016 Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old female trotter, beat male rivals in an elimination of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and finished third from post eight in the final on July 1 for her only setback in seven starts this season. She is the fastest 3-year-old female trotter this year, with a best win time of 1:51.1, and second-fastest 3-year-old trotter overall. Walner, a colt sidelined by injury, holds the top spot with a time of 1:50.2. Ariana G heads to the Zweig off her win by 4-3/4 lengths in the Hambletonian Oaks on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands. Her winning time, 1:51.2, was the second-fastest in the history of the race, which dates back to 1971. "We've just done some light training with her (since the Hambletonian Oaks) but she's feeling very, very good," said Takter, who has won the Oaks a record seven times in his career. "I'm very happy with how she feels. She's got a good (starting) spot, right in the middle." Ariana G's schedule following the Zweig is uncertain, but the filly is eligible to the Casual Breeze, Simcoe, and Elegantimage stakes at Ontario's Mohawk Racetrack in the upcoming weeks. "We'll take it one race at a time," Takter said. "The Elegantimage is going to be the main target, that's the big one." Looking at the Zweig field, Beal Memorial winner Devious Man is the 7-2 second choice behind Ariana G and the Beal's second-place finisher, Long Tom, is next at 9-2. Devious Man was third-placed-second in the Hambletonian. In the Zweig filly division, Celebrity Ruth is the 5-2 morning-line favorite ahead of Feed Your Head (7-2) and Seventh Heaven (9-2). Celebrity Ruth, owned by White Birch Farm, has won four of nine races this year and never finished worse than second while competing primarily in races restricted to New York-bred horses. She is trained by Trond Smedshammer and will have Jason Bartlett as her driver. Following is the field for the $320,000 Zweig Memorial Open. It is the 10th race on Vernon's card Friday, with a 9:45 p.m. estimated post time. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1. International Moni-Scott Zeron-Frank Antonacci-8/1 2. Bill's Man-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-6/1 3. Yes Mickey-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 4. Money Macintosh-Jason Bartlett-Julie Miller-15/1 5. Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/2 6. Long Tom-Brett Miller-Marcus Melander-9/2 7. Devious Man-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-7/2 8. Another Chapter-Jim Morrill Jr.-Per Henriksen-12/1 9. Simply Volo-Jim Marohn Jr.-John Butenschoen-10/1   Following is the field for the $135,000 Zweig Memorial filly division. It is the ninth race on Vernon's card Friday, with a 9:25 p.m. estimated post time. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1. Chapter Too-Corey Callahan-Mark Harder-12/1 2. Celebrity Ruth-Jason Bartlett-Trond Smedshammer-5/2 3. Evelyn-Andy Miller-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 4. Amber Ella-Jim Marohn Jr.-Linda Toscano-10/1 5. Feed Your Head-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-7/2 6. Glitzey Gal-Jim Morrill Jr.-R. Nifty Norman-8/1 7. Ice Attraction-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-6/1 8. Sunshine Delight-Brett Miller-Staffan Lind-15/1 9. Seventh Heaven-Scott Zeron-Linda Toscano-9/2 Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager

Vernon , NY - Top filly trotter Ariana G has been entered to race against harness racing colts in the Open Main Event of the $320,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial (race 10) on Friday night at Vernon Downs.   Ariana G was considered for the Open division of the Hambletonian but her connections chose instead to race her in an elimination and final format against fillies in the Hambletonian Oaks.   Her competition will indeed be stout in the Zweig Memorial. Among the chief contenders are Devious Man coming in off a valiant second place effort in the Hambletonian final, Bill's Man who wound up fourth in that race, Hambo first heat winner International Moni and Stanley Dancer Memorial (div) winner Long Tom.   Ariana G's win in the Oaks pushed her career earning past the $1 million mark for breeder/owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. The Muscle Hill filly has won fifteen of eighteen career starts and six of seven this season, her only defeat coming in a third place finish against colts in June's Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono. Jimmy Takter trains and Yannick Gingras will drive from post position five.   Devious Man (PP #7) has been a model of consistency throughout his career for owners Stroy, Inc. and Andy Miller Stable. The best in New York last season, he has taken on both state-bred and Grand Circuit assignments with equal success with four wins and four seconds in as many starts this year. He also edged past $1 million in career earnings with his Hambo Day proceeds. Andy Miller will drive the Julie Miller trainee in the Zweig.   With Ariana G out of the mix, everybody in the $135,000 Zweig Filly trot (race 9) moves up one position.   Celebrity Ruth is the top money winner having collected more than $200,000 this season, largely in the NYSS program for owner White Birch Farm. Trond Smedshammer is the trainer and Jason Bartlett will drive starting from post position two.   Competition will come from a pair of Ake Svanstedt fillies who each won a division of the Duenna stake at The Meadowlands. Evelyn (PP #3) will get Andy Miller who drove her to the Duenna success back in the sulky for owners Ake Svanstedt Inc, Little E LLC, Borje Nasstrom and Silva Stable 45 while Ice Attraction leaves from post 7 for the trainer and his partners Doug Sipple Mal & Janet Borroughs and Little E.   There are also consolations for both the colt and filly Zweig and three divisions of New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for freshman pacing colts along with the accompanying Excel A & B races on an all-stakes card.   The races begin at 6:45 p.m. More information is available at the Vernon Downs website.   Nick Salvi    

Vernon, N.Y. -- Bar Hopping ($2.60, part of entry) and Flowers N Songs ($18.40) proved victorious in their respective main events of the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for harness racing 3-year-old trotters on Sunday (July 24) evening at Vernon Downs.   Bar Hopping used an aggressive middle move to seize command in the $300,000 Zweig main event for colts and geldings, brushing from fifth and clearing just after a :57 half mile. The son of Muscle Hill would go on to face pressure from Hititoutofthepark (Corey Callahan) on the far turn, but edged clear upon straightening for home. Bar Hopping subsequently held sway of a late bid from pocket rival Milligan's School (Andy Miller) to prevail by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:53.1. Milligan's School narrowly held second from Love Matters (Brett Miller) and the leveled-off Hititoutofthepark, who shared third in a dead heat.   Tim Tetrick drove Bar Hopping, now a 3-time winner, for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Christina Takter, the Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld.   In the $140,000 Zweig event for fillies, Flowers N Songs vaulted off third-over cover to eclipse 5-4 favorite Womans Will for a 1:53.4 victory. Yannick Gingras settled well off the pace with the Deweycheatumnhowe filly, floating off the pegs at race's midpoint to stalk cover provided by Womans Will (Andy Miller) and Fad Finance (Jim Morrill, Jr.). In upper stretch, Flowers N Songs circled four-wide, finding her best stride at the eighth pole and slingshotting clear to a 1-3/4 length victory over the aforementioned pair. Womans Will narrowly held second, while Fad Finance stayed on for third.   Paul Reid trains 7-time winner Flowers N Songs for Robert Key.   In the consolation divisions for colts and geldings, Sutton ($7.20, Andy Miller, 1:52.4) and Waitlifter K ($7.90, Matt Kakaley, 1:52.3) captured the winner's shares of the $75,000 and $30,000 events, respectively. Double Exposure ($3.70, Tetrick, 1:54.4) and Hillosophical ($44.80, David Miller, 1:53.4) proved victorious in the $35,000 and $15,000 consolation events for fillies.   No Clouds Bluechip, Dime a Dance prevail in NYSS   The Zweig night undercard featured a pair of $60,200 New York Sire Stakes races for 3-year-old pacing fillies, with Roll With Joe fillies No Clouds Bluechip ($13.20) and Dime a Dance ($4.50) both proving narrowly victorious.   No Clouds Bluechip yielded to 1-2 favorite Penpal (Pat Lachance) after a :56.3 half mile, maintaining a clear pocket trip through the far turn before vacating the pegs at the eighth pole and dueling to a half-length win in 1:51.3 via a :26.3 last quarter. Scott Zeron drove the daughter of Roll With Joe and B J's Sunshine for trainer John Berger.   Dime a Dance rallied from farther off the pace in her event, sustaining strong uncovered gains on the far turn en route to a mid-stretch lead. Upon collaring Time On My Hands (Jason Bartlett), the daughter of Roll With Joe and Hat Dance Hanover was forced to stave off a late lunge from Angels Rockn Pink (Mark MacDonald), who split foes out of the pocket to just miss by a neck. Dime a Dance and driver Matt Kakaley prevailed in 1:53.3 for trainer Ron Burke.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (July 28) evening; first post is slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

With just a week before the eliminations for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, Broadway Donna and All The Time have emerged as the top contenders to capture one of the most treasured prizes in harness racing for 3-year-old fillies, but there is a lass in the Empire State that might very well travel to New Jersey to stake her claim to divisional honors. She is Fad Finance. “She is eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks,” said Trond Smedshammer, her conditioner. “But she would have to win the Zweig (this Sunday) impressively for me to think about entering her. Vernon Downs is a nice track and it looks like we will have nice weather for the race this weekend, so they should be able to go in 1:54 to win. She would need to trot in the area of 1:53 for me to send her there so it is up to her.” A daughter of Credit Winner and the Sierra Kosmos mare Armbro Vanity, Fad Finance was purchased for $60,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg by Purple Haze Stables, Marc Goldberg and Rojan Stables. The filly, who sports a career record of 14-7-3-1 and has quietly amassed $129,988 in purse money, will face eight rivals in the $140,000 Zweig Memorial Filly Trot at Vernon Downs on Sunday (July 24). Fad Finance will leave from post position two with Jim Morrill Jr. holding the lines. She is the 7-2 second selection on the morning line behind Julie Miller’s charge Womans Will (5-2) and will face stiff opposition from Paul Kelley’s Straight A Student (8-1), as well as Paul Reid’s Flowers N Songs (9-2), and George Ducharme’s Swinging Royalty (5-1). Fad Finance has won three of her six starts this year, with earnings of $83,038. She defeated 2015 New York Sire Stakes champion Non Stick in their $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic elimination on June 10 at Vernon Downs. Non Stick returned to dominate the $225.000 final the following week, but Fad Finance got the measure of her again on July 10 at Tioga Downs in a $40,600 New York Sire Stakes contest. Fad Finance followed that performance with a track-record-equaling 1:58.2 spin around Buffalo Raceway’s oval on July 17 in a $60,200 sire stakes split. It was a gritty effort, as the filly was locked in for most of the stretch and was able to put her nose down on the wire for her third win of the season. “I raced her in the Excelsior Series last year so she would learn some manners,” Smedshammer said. “She was on the line of being hot and I would try to keep her in the pocket to teach her some lessons. If you look at her lines you can see where she was on the front because she was aggressive and then would tire in the last quarter coming home. I think she is a better horse off the helmet and this year she is minding her manners. The only race we were not pleased with was the Empire Breeders Classic final (fifth). She was on the lead and went some fairly fast fractions before getting tired late. That’s when the other fillies passed her.” Despite Smedshammer’s admission that Fad Finance could be a bit headstrong, as many fillies can be, he was drawn to her because of his affiliation with her pedigree, which is excellent. This filly is a half-sister to Vanity Plates (Conway Hall, $164,878), who competed in the 2007 Matron final (sixth) and was eighth in that year’s eliminations for the Breeders Crown. Another half-sibling, Monkey Man (Glidemaster, $92,220) was talented enough to finish second to world champion Muscle Network in an $86,500 division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile in 2013 and was the runner-up to the very talented Rose Run Parker in a $45,250 division of the Madison County Stake at Hoosier Park 22 days later. “I trained her mother,” Smedshammer said. “I actually picked her out as a yearling and bought her, then sold her to her current owners. She had ability and was very well-mannered, unlike many Sierra Kosmos horses. Unfortunately she had some soundness issues, but I knew she had some foals that had done well. I think Chris Ryder did well with one of her first fillies (Vanity Plates) so when this one was available (Fad Finance) I was looking forward to the opportunity to train one of her foals. The pedigree on her female side is very good.” Although Armbro Vanity only earned $63,365 on the racetrack and her dam, Armbro Haughty, collected $375 in her racing career, these mares hail from the tremendous Armbro Flight. In fact, Armbro Haughty was that Canadian superstar’s final foal. That blood courses through Fad Finance’s veins and demonstrates she may just very well belong with the elite in her division as 2016 draws to a close. “We will see what happens with her,” Smedshammer said. “She is eligible to things outside of New York, such as the Breeders Crown, and if she shows us she can mind her manners, we will allow her the opportunity to take on those kinds of fillies. She has improved this year and we hope she will continue to improve.” Below is the field for the $140,000 Zweig Memorial Filly Trot, in post position order, with listed drivers and trainers. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1. Earn Your Wings-Jason Bartlett-Anette Lorentzon-8/1  2. Fad Finance-Jim Morrill Jr-Trond Smedshammer-7/2  3. Lindylicious-Chris Lems-Gilbert Garcia-Herrera-8/1  4. Straight A Student-Mark MacDonald-Paul Kelley-8/1  5. Open Access-Matt Kakaley-Robert Baggitt Jr.-6/1  6. Womans Will-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/2  7. Spicedbourbongirl-Jeff Gregory-Jeff Gregory-10/1  8. Flowers N Songs-Yannick Gingras-Paul Reid-9-2  9. Swinging Royalty-Tim Tetrick-George Ducharme-5/1 Earn Your Wings and Straight A Student will race as an ownership entry. by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

A word of advice to Julie Miller's friends. As the harness racing trainer gets Milligan's School ready for his final Hambletonian prep event, don't post anything on her Facebook wall because you won't hear back until at least next week. Milligan's School is competing in Sunday's (July 24) $300,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial main event for 3-year-old trotters at Vernon Downs, and he has the complete attention of his trainer. "Not that I'm older or I'm wiser, I don't know about those kind of things, but I really try to just stay off social media at this point," Miller said. "I don't read a bunch of stuff. I need to focus on my horses, not what everybody else is doing. I really just try to zone in and let the external noise figure itself out." She also tries to keep things simple as the stakes grow higher. "I try not to over-think things," Miller said. "I just really try to stay on track. We have our goal and mission. When things are going right in my stable we do the same things, and it's the same when things are in a rough patch. I try not to let other things distract me from my goal and my purpose with my horses." The purpose on Sunday is not just for Milligan's School to compete, but to win his final race before the $1 million Hambletonian, which is Aug. 6 at the Meadowlands. A son of Yankee Glide out of the mare Tori Ann, the horse has won three of six starts this year and earned $85,166. He has taken two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Consolation division, after a shoeing incident caused him to go off stride in his elimination. He was sixth last weekend in his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, which was won by Marion Marauder. Milligan's School had a tremendous freshman campaign, with five wins, three seconds and two thirds, good for $302,560 in earnings in 16 starts. He won divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes at Red Mile in Lexington; was second to Dog Gone Lucky (by a head) in the Matron Stakes; third in the Valley Victory final; and fifth in the Breeders Crown. "I would say things are pretty much status quo this year (compared to last)," Miller said. "He raced excellent last year. With how his schedule was this year he hasn't had many starts yet. We had a hiccup in the Earl Beal eliminations and that was kind of a missed opportunity, but we're looking forward." One thing that has changed is the horse's physical stature, which makes the trainer happy considering the competition. "Obviously I do think he's a little bigger and stronger than he was last year and he's going to have to be," Miller said. "That's a great division. Southwind Frank and Marion Marauder, they're just excellent horses. You're going to have to be not just 100 percent, but 110 percent because Frank and Marion are so dominant right now. I hope I can still compete with them. I don't want to race just for the money I want to race for the win." Milligan's School drew post four Sunday, which puts him in a good starting point. He is 5-1 on the morning line. The four-horse entry of Love Matters, Bar Hopping, Hollywood Highway, and Lagerfeld is the 9-5 favorite. Love Matters, Bar Hopping, and Lagerfeld are trained by Jimmy Takter while Hollywood Highway is from the Staffan Lind Stable. The horses are an entry because of common ownership. "It's that time of year, it's getting to be crunch time, this is why we work hard all winter long," Miller said. "He feels good, he's healthy. I feel like I've got him at the best that he can be. Hopefully we can count on that and make good. "Like everybody else, I don't know what's going to happen. The goal here is the Hambo, this is going to be a really good determination if he fits in there. I'm hoping for a good effort. There's a lot of money on the line. We've got a good position so I'm hoping he can make good on it. I hope he's at his best and he can work on a good trip." If it results in a trip to the Hambletonian, then things will be right on schedule for the Millers and Russia-based owner Natalia Stroy of Stroy Inc. When Julie and her husband Andy, the horse's driver, picked Milligan's School out at the Standardbred Horse Sale they did so with high hopes. He sold for $120,000. "I explained to Natalia that I think he's a stakes horse," Miller said. "That was the whole goal when we bought him, was to make him a stakes horse and so far he's fulfilling that promise. I told the owner I thought he'd be a top contender and at least a sire stakes horse and hopefully a Grand Circuit horse. He's blossoming into what we wanted him to be." Miller considers herself "pretty fortunate," noting that Milligan's School is a mild mannered horse that can lead or come off cover. "That's really one good thing about him," she said. "He's two fingers to drive and he's honest and he'll give you his best chance." And how does Andy like driving him? "I think he likes to drive anything that's winning," Julie said with a laugh. "I do think it's more special, because it's one we train in the barn. So that's a little bit more special. Andy gets on really well with the horse. We're just hoping for some good things." Following is the field for the Zweig: PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1. Love Matters-Brett Miller-Jimmy Takter-9/5 2. Hititoutofthepark-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-6/1 3. Bar Hopping-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter-9/5 4. Milligan's School-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/1 5. Trolley-Marcus Miller-Erv Miller-2/1 6. Hollywood Highway-John Campbell-Staffan Lind-9/5 7. Lagerfeld-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-9/5 8. Blenheim-Chris Christoforou-Per Henriksen-8/1 9. Smalltownthrowdown-Dan Daley-Dan Daley-10/1 ROAD TO THE HAMBLETONIAN A look at open stakes for 3-year-old male trotters and state-restricted stakes featuring Hambletonian eligibles Date - Track - Event - First - Second - Third May 7 - Freehold - Dexter Cup - Dante - Cufflink Hanover - Credevie May 7 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Tyson - Edinburgh - Will Self May 7 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Mikkeli Hanover - Granite State - Marion Gondolier May 7 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Hititoutofthepark - Lagerfeld - Cloud Nine Hanover May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Cufflink Hanover - Love Matters - Southern Cross May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Truemass Volo - Marion Gondolier - Hanks Tank May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Milligan's School - Hititoutofthepark - Desert Runner May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Lagerfeld - Tyson - Hollywood Highway May 20 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Southwind Frank - Brooklyn Hill - Bar Hopping May 21 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Iron Mine Bucky - Steed - Hititoutofthepark May 21 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Cufflink Hanover - Hollywood Highway - Truemass Volo May 27 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Mavens Way - Jack Vernon - Double L Lindy June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Hollywood Highway - Taco Tuesday - Sliding Home June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Lagerfeld - Truemass Volo - Dupree June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Milligan's School - Reigning Moni - Iron Mine Bucky June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Love Matters - Tight Lines - Alexander Hanover June 4 - Meadowlands - NJSS Final - Southwind Frank - Brooklyn Hill - Mavens Way June 12 - Pocono - PASS - Love Matters - Taco Tuesday - Desert Runner June 12 - Pocono - PASS - Trolley - Lagerfeld - Cufflink Hanover June 12 - Pocono - PASS - Hititoutofthepark - Hollywood Highway - Dupree June 18 - Mohawk - Goodtimes - Marion Marauder - Will Take Charge - Blenheim June 19 - Vernon - Empire Breeders Classic - Dante - Just For Today - Thats A Bad Boy June 26 - Buffalo - NYSS - The Royal Harry - Crazycat - A Jersey Contract July 1 - Tioga - Tompkins-Geers - Dominion Beach - Cufflink Hanover - Waitlifter K July 1 - Tioga - Tompkins-Geers - Hititoutofthepark - Blownoutofthewater - Steed July 2 - Pocono - Beal Memorial - Southwind Frank - Trolley - Bar Hopping July 14 - Yonkers - NYSS - Dante - The Royal Harry - Credevie July 16 - Meadowlands - Dancer Mem. - Southwind Frank - Sutton - Love Matters July 16 - Meadowlands - Dancer Mem. - Marion Marauder - Bar Hopping - Iron Mine Bucky Hambletonian eligible winners in bold by Rich Fisher, USTA Senior Correspondent

Vernon, N.Y. -- Bar Hopping and Trolley, the respective runners-up in the Stanley Dancer and Earl Beal Memorial events, are set to square off in the $300,000 main harness racing event of Sunday (July 24) evening's Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial at Vernon Downs.   Bar Hopping, one of three Jimmy Takter trainees to make the ninth-race main event, arrives at the Miracle Mile after chasing Marion Marauder to take second in a $153,250 Dancer Memorial split at the Meadowlands on the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace undercard. While just a 2-time winner in 16 career tries, the son of Muscle Hill has amassed nearly a quarter million dollars in career earnings and top-four placings in the Beal and Goodtimes stakes as well. Tim Tetrick is nominated to drive Bar Hopping once again for the partnership of Christina Takter, the Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld.   Among the eight 3-year-old colts and geldings Bar Hopping will square off against is the lightly raced but mighty impressive Trolley, a son of Donato Hanover from the Erv Miller stable. Prior to a respectable effort to make belated gains from last behind divisional standout Southwind Frank in his Dancer split, he sustained pursuit of that same rival in the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono on July 2. In just six starts, Trolley has amassed over $173,000 in career earnings. Marcus Miller once again drives Trolley for Paymaq Racing, Mathias, Gillis, and Willinger.   Pennsylvania Sire Stakes standouts Hititoutofthepark (Corey Callahan nominated) and Love Matters (Brett Miller), Ontario invader Blenheim (Chris Christoforou), and New York Sire Stakes contender Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Daley) are other notable entrants.   Trotting fillies contest a $140,000 main event in race seven, with six of the nine entered mainly campaigning on the New York Sire Stakes circuit thus far this season--including Empire Breeders Classic runner-up Swinging Royalty. The marquee filly of the group is 7-time winner Womans Will (Andy Miller nominated), a dead-heat winner in the $95,250 Delvin Miller Memorial at the Meadowlands last week, sharing victory in 1:54.2 after making all the pace. Julie Miller trains the Donato Hanover filly for Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz.   In addition to the Zweig events, 14 New York-sired 3-year-old pacing fillies will vie for a combined $120,400 in twin Sire Stakes events. Multiple stakes winners American Ivy (Andy Miller) and Soft Idea (Jason Bartlett) square off in race 5, while Time On My Hands (Bartlett) headlines the seventh race.   Post time for the 14-race Zweig card on Sunday evening is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon NY - The Dr Harry M. Zweig Memorial conditions follow the top money winners format. The Zweig conditions allow for multiple consolations of the stake to reduce the possibility of entry solely with the expectation of refund. There will be consolations for as many harness racing entrants as possible in declining order, measured by 2016 earnings (as recognized by the USTA).   Please read this Article of the conditions to be informed of the details.   The box for the Zweig will close at 9:00 tomorrow Wednesday, July 20. Questions may be directed to the Racing Office at (315) 829-6825.   "Racing Conditions: The Main Event will be limited to the highest money winning horses in 2016 of those that declare as of the published declaration date and time that equal the number of positions on the starting gate. The remaining declared horses will be eligible to the Consolations, segregated by 2016 seasonal earnings. USTA records (including currency conversions) on earnings shall be accepted as being official. There will be two (2) "also eligible" drawn for the Finals and the Consolations. Those horses designated as also eligible in the Main Event will be drawn into the Consolations, but may be eligible to draw into the Main Event no later than scratch time for the race. Horses eligible for the Main Event may not race in the Consolation. At least seven (7) horses must be entered for each Consolation or they may be canceled at the sole discretion of the Sponsor. If a Consolation race does not fill or if a declared horse fails to draw into either the Main Event or a consolation, all sustaining payments made as a three year old will be refunded to the owner at the time of entry, provided that the horse meets the current qualifying standards for the race meeting.   Entry Fee Main Event: Colts: $4,000 Fillies: $2,000 Entry Fee Consolation(s) Colts: $1,000/$500 Fillies: $500/$250   Vernon Downs    

Vernon, NY - Horsemen, please be advised that the box for the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial 3 YO Open & Filly trotting stakes at Vernon Downs will close at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 20. The condition sheet with all pertinent details may be found on the Vernon website.   The Zweig stakes and a NYSS for 3YO pacing fillies will highlight the card on the evening of Sunday, July 24. First post is 6:45 p.m.   Further information is available by calling the Racing Office at (315) 829-6825.   Horsemen are encouraged to make hotel reservations with Race Office concierge John "Brownie" Brown at (315) 829-6825. The sooner, the better.      

Freehold, NJ --- Mission Brief, fresh off her victory in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Filly Trot, moved into the Top 10 in this week’s harness racing  Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll while the top six horses in the rankings remained unchanged. Wiggle It Jiggleit, JL Cruze, and Bee A Magician did not race and held their spots at the top of the poll. Pinkman remained fourth following his victory in the Zweig Memorial Open, followed by idle Wakizashi Hanover and State Treasurer. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 11 –7/28/2015  Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Wiggle It Jiggleit (25) 3pg 15-14-1-0 $961,092 330 1 2 JL Cruze (5) 4tg 18-16-2-0 $612,788 302 2 3 Bee A Magician (4) 5tm 8-7-1-0 $408,070 280 3 4 Pinkman 3tg 7-6-1-0 $620,965 219 4 5 Wakizashi Hanover 3pg 10-6-2-1 $639,902 184 5 6 State Treasurer 6ph 9-4-1-2 $305,090 102 6 7 Mission Brief (1) 3tf 4-3-1-0 $200,347 90 -- 8 Doo Wop Hanover 4ph 11-6-1-1 $258,326 83 7 9 Shake It Cerry 4tm 9-3-1-2 $196,733 64 8 10 In The Arsenal 3pc 9-5-1-1 $362,405 43 9 Also: Uncle Lasse (31); Barn Doll (19); Split The House (18); Freaky Feet Pete, P H Supercam (17); Lady Shadow, Rockeyed Optimist (16); Moonlit Dance (13); Spirit To Win (11); Father Patrick (9); Artspeak, Market Share (8); Anndrovette (6); Canepa Hanover, The Bank (4); Centurion ATM, Foiled Again, Luck Be Withyou, Ooh Bad Shark, Southwind Frank (3); All The Time, Betting Line, Daylon Magician, Dude’s The Man, Handover Belle, Pure Country (2); Churita, Cinamony, Mach It So, Melmerby Beach (1). Mission Brief winning The Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Filly Trot by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Vernon NY - The Grand Circuit comes to upstate New York bringing harness racing's finest three-year-old colt and filly trotters to ply their trade in the $630,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial on the Sunday, July 26 matinee card at Vernon Downs. This year's race serves as an important prep for the 2015 Hambletonian, a fortnight hence.   Hall of Fame horseman Jimmy Takter has entered four Hambo hopefuls from his armada of sophomore square-gaited stalwarts in the 41st edition of the Zweig. Pinkman, Canepa Hanover, Uncle Lasse and Whom Shall I Fear comprise the Takter presence and will race as an imposing coupled entry in the $370,000 Main Event (race nine) for colts.   Last year's top freshman trotter Pinkman (Yannick Gingras) eclipsed the $1 million mark in career earnings while winning a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for owners Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman last week at The Meadowlands. He took the $500,000 Beal final in World Record time and is but a half-length from perfection in six tries this season.   Canepa Hanover (Takter) has flashed brilliance, specifically a pair of sub-1:52 wins this spring, but broke in the Goodtimes final and had missed a month before his well-meant third to Pinkman in the Dancer. He is the whole package, looks combined with the big pedigree and is diligently working off the $300,000 yearling sale promise made to owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, Brixton Medical and Christina Takter.   Uncle Lasse's (Brett Miller) season would be unblemished, had he not suffered a head defeat at the hands of Pinkman in that Beal final. He's talented, consistent, fresh and ready for his push at the title for Solveig's Racing Partners and Goran Falk.   Whom Shall I Fear (John Campbell) cost the most, $475,000, and has accomplished the least to this point. He remains a work in progress for his eponymous ownership group.   The $76,000 consolation race for colts goes as the third with a couple of talented, well connected  colts using it as their final exam before the August 8 Hambletonian.   Muscle Diamond (Campbell) was second to the aforementioned Pinkman in last year's Breeders Crown final and was considered to have a legitimate shot at the sophomore title by many winter book enthusiasts. Horse racing however, is fraught with peril and trainer Brett Bittle has been forced to react to a series of nagging issues with his star colt. With but a single start and a handful of qualifiers on Muscle Diamond's sophomore résumé, time is dangerously close to running out on this year's Hambo dreams for his owners, the Kellers and the Bittles.   Iron (Tim Tetrick) holds the hopes of another family steeped in Hambletonian tradition and this season has run the gamut of emotion for trainer Frank Antonacci. Handled carefully at two, Iron has shown the speed you need to win the classics but thus far not the grit. He needs a confidence builder, as do the connections, KR Breeding, Robert Rudolph and Frank Baldassare.   The $185,000 Zweig Filly trot will continue the saga of the enigmatic Mission Brief (Gingras). Her well documented transition from freshman to sophomore took a welcome positive turn in last week's Del Miller Memorial where she showed marked improvement in a narrow 1:52 defeat. Sunday's race will help her connections to make the difficult choice of Hambo or Oaks for their enigmatic prodigy. Part of a three-pronged Ron Burke entry, Mission Brief races for the interests of her trainer as Burke Racing along with Our Horse Cents, J&T Silva and Weaver Bruscemi.   The Harry M. Zweig Memorial honors the late Dr. Harry Zweig, a distinguished veterinarian, and his numerous contributions to the state’s equine industry. In 1979, by amendment to the pari-mutuel racing and wagering law, the New York State legislature created the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund for Equine Research to promote equine research at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The Harry M. Zweig Committee was established for the purpose of administering the fund and is composed of individuals in specified state agencies and equine industry positions and others who represent equine breeders, owners, trainers, and veterinarians.   Also on the bill are the ever-popular Budweiser Clydesdales, available throughout the afternoon and slated to perform after the fifth race. Racing Under Saddle is on the program as well, they're off between races three and four.   Post time is 1:15 pm at the Downs on Sunday.   Vernon Downs Media Relations Department

Harness racing action on the Grand Circuit is really in full swing now. This Week: Joe Gerrity Memorial, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Zweig Memorial and Zweig Filly, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y. Delvin Miller Adios eliminations, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action will be held this weekend at four different racetracks. Action begins on Friday (July 24) at Meadowlands Racetrack with three $10,000 divisions of the Kindergarten for 2-year-old trotting colts and two $10,000 divisions of the Kindergarten for 2-year-old trotting fillies. On Saturday (July 25), Saratoga will host their marquee event, the $260,000 Joe Gerrity Memorial for older pacers, while The Meadows will offer a trio of $25,000 eliminations for their marquee event, the Devlin Miller Adios for 3-year-old colt pacers. The busy weekend concludes on Sunday (July 26) as Vernon Downs will offer the $370,000 Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters (and $76,000 consolation), as well as the $185,000 Zweig Filly for 3-year-old filly trotters. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Meadowlands Racetrack hosted seven lucrative Grand Circuit events this past Saturday, led by the $706,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds. They all had a clear shot at him, but none of the nine other pacers in the Meadowlands Pace could get past Wiggle It Jiggleit, as his 24-year-old driver Montrell Teague gave a fist pump and won by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:47.4 at The Meadowlands Wiggle It Jiggleit is owned by Montrell's father, George Teague Jr. and is trained by Clyde Francis. Montrell is the youngest driver ever to win the classic race. The son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover started his season at The Meadowlands in the dead of the winter of 2015, racing in series and taking each in stride with progressively stronger performances. For the season, Wiggle It Jiggleit has now won 14 of 15 starts, with earnings of $978,742. His lone loss was a second place finish to Wakizashi Hanover in the North America Cup. In the Meadowlands Pace, Montrell Teague had Wiggle It Jiggleit on cruise control to the wire in 1:47.4. Dude's The Man ranged up on the outside to get past Wakizashi Hanover for the second place money in the final strides. Also on the stakes loaded Saturday card, JL Cruze (John Campbell) won for the 12th consecutive time, capturing the $443,300 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters by a neck over Resolve in a world-record 2:04.2 for 1-1/8 miles. Shake It Cerry finished third. It was JL Cruze's third consecutive world-record effort, following his 1:49.4 win in the Graduate Series final and 1:51 triumph in the Sun Invitational. The previous record for 1-1/8 miles was 2:05.3, set by Your So Vain in last year's Hambletonian Maturity. JL Cruze, trained by Eric Ell, has won 16 of 18 races this year and earned $612,788. He had five wins in 17 races prior to this season. He was purchased for $37,000 at the November Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale by owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta. Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) won the $430,600 William Haughton Memorial for older male pacers by a neck on Saturday at The Meadowlands in a time of 1:48.1. He's trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr. and owned by Bamond Racing. It was only the second win of the year for the 5-year-old son of Mach Three-Beach Dancer in 12 starts. Lifetime, he has captured 21 of 54 starts with a bankroll of $991,439. State Treasurer was a fast closing second and Foiled Again was just behind him in third. Pacesetter Luck Be Withyou finished fourth. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2015, 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 Farm is the sponsor for the 2015 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 303; 2. Tim Tetrick - 293; 3. Brian Sears - 275; 4. David Miller - 244; 5. John Campbell - 203. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 405; 2. Jimmy Takter - 260; 3. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 228; 4. Ray Schnittker - 187; 5. Rene Allard - 158. Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 195.5; 2. Burke Racing - 102.5; 3. George Teague Jr. Inc. - 100; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 94.3; 5. Ray Schnittker - 74.9. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at The Meadows and Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadows will host eight Grand Circuit events, led by the final of the Delvin Miller Adios for 3-year-old pacing colts. Meadowlands Racetrack will host eliminations for six lucrative stakes, led by the Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters. Paul Ramlow

Vernon, NY - Vernon Downs will conduct a double draw with the entry box closing at 9:00am on the morning of Tuesday, August 26 for the Friday (Zweig Memorial, Crawford Farms open trot, 2014 Drivers' Championship) & Saturday (NYSS 2YO Colt Pace) race cards. The condition sheet will be available on Saturday afternoon.   Horsemen should contact the race office at (315) 829-6825 or to for hotel reservations for next weekend. Rooms are limited on Saturday due to a wedding and a VIP Event in the casino, so reservations will be on a first come, first served basis.   From Nick Salvi, for Vernon Downs

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs announce a new format for the 2014 Drivers' Championship, scheduled to take place on a pair of marquee race days at both New York courses. The first round will take place at Vernon Downs on Friday, August 29, along with the $200,000e Crawford Farms Open Trot and the Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds. The second round is slated for Monday, September 1--three days later--at Tioga Downs, where the Drivers' Championship will share the spotlight with the Cane Pace, the Shady Daisy, and a preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility series for distaff trotters. Past years have seen the six top money-winning drivers in North America and a sponsor's exemption join the leading driver from both Tioga and Vernon, but the 2014 Drivers' Championship will implement a new means to compile the nine-driver field. This year, the leading drivers (by wins) at Tioga and Vernon will be joined by: - the top three (3) Meadowlands drivers (by purse earnings) - the top Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit driver - the top Harrah's Philadelphia/Pocono Downs driver - the top driver aged 25 or younger - a sponsor's exemption As of right now, the field would be comprised of Jim Marohn, Jr., Chris Lems, Yannick Gingras, David Miller, Tim Tetrick, Sylvain Filion, George Napolitano, Jr., Scott Zeron, and the sponsor's exemption. The field will be finalized according to drivers' statistics as of the close of racing on Sunday, August 3. As in past years, the overall winner takes home $25,000--equivalent to a driver's commission for winning a $1,000,000 race. Additionally, the leader at the conclusion of the first round wins $10,000. In addition to a slew of other giveaways and promotions, both tracks will host a Jim Marohn, Jr. bobblehead giveaway in conjuction with the Drivers' Championship to commemorate last year's winner. With a healthy lead over Aaron Byron in the Tioga Downs standings, the "Mighty Mite Part Two" is poised to defend his title. by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have announced their 2014 stakes schedule, with an estimated $4.3 million in purses to attract the top horses in New York and across North America throughout the season. Tioga Downs opens their stakes season on Sunday, June 1 with the $200,000e Roll With Joe Open Pace. New York Sire Stakes races mark the calendar through June and July, leading up to the $350,000e Tompkins-Geers Stakes for two- and three-year-olds of both gaits. Unlike years past, where the Tompkins-Geers Stakes have been contested throughout an entire week of racing, two-year-old pacers will have their events on Sunday, August 3, while two-year-old trotters and three-year-olds of both gaits will race on Sunday, August 17. Between the Tompkins-Geers events, New York-sired sophomore pacers will take the spotlight on Sunday, August 10 in the $500,000e Empire Breeders Classic, with separate events for each sex. If needed, eliminations are scheduled for the week prior. Labor Day (Monday, September 1) proves to be a banner day in the Southern Tier, with a trio of stakes events headlining the afternoon. The $110,000e Shady Daisy for three-year-old pacing fillies and a $40,000e preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares comprise the undercard features for the day, while three-year-old pacers take center stage in the $350,000e Cane Pace-the first leg of the Triple Crown for pacers. The $125,000 Reynolds Stakes for two-year-olds closes out the stakes schedule at Tioga, with trotting divisions on Thursday, September 4, and pacing divisions on Friday, September 12. Vernon Downs kicks off their stakes season on Sunday, June 8, with New York-sired three-year-old trotters contesting the $500,000e Empire Breeders Classic (like the pacers, separate events are held for each sex). If eliminations are necessary, they will take place on Friday, May 30. New York Sire Stakes events cover the early summer months, leading up to the first of two big nights at Vernon on Friday, August 29. The $700,000e Harry Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds once again serves as the centerpiece of the Vernon Downs stakes schedule, with top open trotters sharing the spotlight that night in the $200,000e Crawford Farms Trot (formerly known as the Credit Winner). Two-year-olds of both gaits and sexes contest the $100,000e Simpson Stakes on Friday, October 24, leading up to a blockbuster Closing Night program, featuring a trio of rich events on Saturday, November 1. Two-year-old trotters wrap up the Kindergarten Classic series with a $200,000e final, and top distaffers compete in a pair of $200,000e events as well-trotters in the Muscle Hill, and pacers in the Artiscape, which moved to Vernon after being raced at Tioga in past seasons. Nomination forms and more information can be found at and by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs  

VERNON, NY – Sunday night’s race card at Vernon Downs, headlined by the opening round of the All-Star Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot, produced the track’s highest single-card wagering handle since 2009. The total handle, including on-track and off-track simulcast locations, totaled $313,690, the track’s highest figure since hosting the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions in September of 2009. It also represents a nearly 20% increase over last year’s Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot card. “We worked extremely hard to promote one of our signature nights of the season and we’re pleased to see how well-received it was by horseplayers nationwide,” said Scott Warren, Director of Racing. “By racing the card in the evening, we were able to get our simulcast signal distributed in California and a loaded on-track promotional schedule delivered the type of family-friendly event we strive to produce.” Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life cruised to victory in the $360,000 Zweig Memorial over a star-studded field of trotters and continued his magical season for Vernon Downs based trainer George Ducharme. Vernon Downs resumes racing with a four-day holiday schedule. Live racing takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6:45 p.m. and a special Labor Day matinee on Monday starting at 1:15 p.m. by Justin Horowitz  

Vernon, NY – Royalty For Life and driver Brian Sears were able to rebound from their loss last week by posting an impressive 1:53.1 victory in capturing the $360,000 Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds at Vernon Downs Sunday. It was just about a cakewalk for the New York sired son of RC Royalty at his home-based track. Corky and driver Dave Miller left out of the gate as did Sears and Royalty For Life and Sear was able to take command by the opening quarter mile in :27.1. Spider Blue Chip (Ron Pierce) made a break out of the gate and was never in the hunt. Just about walking to the half mile marker in :58 and the three-quarters in 1:26, Royalty For Life had things his own way on the lead but Pine Credit has come first-over and collared the race leader with Modest Prince (Jeff Gregory) getting great second-over cover by the final turn.  But in the stretch it was all Royalty For Life, who seemingly held the field at bay and went on to win by one and one-half lengths with Corky second and Pine Credit third. It was Royalty For Life’s fifth win in nine starts this year. He is trained by George Ducharme for owner/breeder Al Ross with RWJ Campbell, Jr. and Paul Fontaine, all of New England. Royalty For Life paid $4.70 to win. “Tonight behind the gate he was a little extra quiet,” said driver Brian Sears of Royalty For Life. “He usually wants to get on the gate and take off but he was pretty docile tonight. I don’t think he was 100% tonight. He was extra docile, extra quiet tonight. But when I asked him to pick it up a little on the backside he did.” Punxsutawney and driver Corey Callahan could not take advantage of soft early fractions and gave perfect cover to Lindy’s Tru Grit and driver Tim Tetrick, who came on late in the stretch to win the $75,000 Zweig Memorial Trot consolation for three-year-old colts. Wannacmyguns and trainer/driver John Stark, Jr.  was the first to show from the starting gate and then gave way to Lindy’s Tru Grit by the opening quarter mile in :28.1. But by the half mile in :58.3 it was race favorite Punxsutawney moving first over and taking command in the backstretch. Punxsutawney led the field to the three-quarters in 1:27.2 as Crazed N Lindy and driver Ron Pierce came first over to challenge. As the field started down the stretch it looked as if Punxsutawney was well in command but no one told that to Tetrick and Lindy’s Tru Grit came after them, kept gaining ground and past them by before the wire to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.4. All Laid Out (Andrew McCarthy) closed well to be third. Sired by Cantab Hall, it was the third win this year and a lifetime mark for Lindy’s Tru Grit, who is trained by Frank Antonacci and is bred and owned by the Lindy Racing Stable of Enfield, CT with Robert Rudoph of Vineland, NJ. Sent off at odds of 5-1, Lindy’s Tru Grit paid $13.00 to win. By Steve Wolf

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