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East Rutherford, NJ – Top three remain the same (Amigo Volo, Real Cool Sam & Hypnotic AM) in Ken Warkentin’s Road to the Hambletonian Week 5.  Rank Horse Driver, Trainer, Owner Ken Warkentin’s Comments 1 Amigo Volo  (Father Patrick) Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman, Pinske Stables, David J. Miller Breeders Crown winner at two finished sixth [1:52.3] when forced wide off a slow pace & trotted home in :26.2 as the beaten favorite in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27 2 Real Cool Sam (Muscle Hill)  Dave Miller, Jim Campbell, Fashion Farms LLC Dan Patch Award & Peter Haughton Memorial winner broke in his first Big M qualifier on June 20, rebounded with a second [1:53.1] in a Big M qualifier on June 27 with a final quarter in :26.3, back in to qualify @ Big M on July 3 3 Hypnotic AM (Chapter Seven)  Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, Courant Inc. NYSS champion & Jim Doherty Memorial winner unleashed an ultra impressive 1:51.1 [:27.3] in her 3YO debut on June 12, cruised in a NYSS @ Tioga Downs on June 21 in 1:54.2, drew post 9 in EBC @ Vernon Downs on July 4 4 Back Of The Neck (Ready Cash) Scott Zeron, Ake Svanstedt, Howard Taylor, Order By Stable, Judith Taylor Son of two-time Prix D’Amerique winner Ready Cash now with Team Svanstedt, won a Big M qualifier on June 20 in 1:53.4, set the pace & second by a nose in 1:51.2 [:26] in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27  5 Synergy (Father Patrick) Andrew McCarthy, Per Engblom, Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman & David Anderson  Qualified three times, the latest a second by a head in 1:54 [:26.2] @ Big M on June 20, third [1:52.1] in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27 in his 3YO debut 6 Big Oil (Father Patrick) Andy & Julie Miller, Jason, Doug & Ron Allen  First in a deadheat with Real Cool Sam in 1:52.1 @ The Red Mile at two, 1:53.3 winner in a Big M qualifier on June 12, wire-to-wire in 1:55 in his 3YO debut in an overnight @ Harrah’s Philadelphia on June 28 7 Capricornus (Cantab Hall)  Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander, JJ Racing Stable, Inc Second in the William Wellwood Memorial at two, second [1:52.4] in his 2020 debut on June 5, finished second [1:53.4] in an overnight @ Harrah’s Philadelphia on June 25 8 Third Shift (Chapter Seven) Ake Svanstedt, Mellby Gard, Inc., Ake Svanstedt  Set a stakes & Batavia Downs track record of 1:56 in the NYSS Final at two, won a Big M qualifier in 1:55 on May 30, won a NYSS division @ Vernon Downs on June 24 in 1:54.2, has the rail in EBC division @ Vernon Downs on July 4 9 Chestnut Hill (Muscle Hill) Dave Miller, Nifty Norman, Melvin Hartman, David McDuffee, Little E LLC Stablemate to Amigo Volo finished third in the PASS Final, Breeders Crown & Valley Victory at two, won his 2020 debut @ The Big M on June 19 in 1:53.1 [:26.1] 10 Maesteraemon (Andover Hall) Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, S R F Stable  Gives Melander three in the Top Ten, took a mark of 1:52.4 @ The Red Mile, won two Big M qualifiers in 1:53.3 [:26.4]  and in 1:54 [:26.3], fifth [1:52.2] in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27 KEY PREP RACES Hambletonian Eligibles in Caps Date Stakes Site Winner Driver Trainer 2nd Horse 3rd Horse Time June 19 NJSS M JULA TRIX TREASURE Ake Svanstedt Ake Svanstedt Play Trix On Me Barley 1:54 June 21 NYSS TD HYPNOTIC AM Brian Sears Marcus Melander REBA BLUE CHIP Munster 1:54.2 June 24 NYSS V THIRD SHIFT Ake Svanstedt Ake Svanstedt Take The Credit Ballcapsnbluejeans 1:54.2 June 24 NYSS V BERKERY J Scott Zeron George Ducharme Chaptiana Barn Holden 1:54.2 June 26 NJSS M Play Trix On Me Scott Zeron Linda Toscano Barley JULA TRIX TREASURE 1:53.2 June 27 $25,000 M SORELLA Yannick Gingras Nancy Takter BACK OF THE NECK SYNERGY 1:51.2 July 3 NJSS Final M             July 4 E. Breeders Classic V             July 4 Currier & Ives Mea             July 4 $25,000 M             July 11 Reynolds M             July 11 Reynolds M             July 17 NYSS TD             July 17 NYSS TD             July 18 Stanley Dancer M             July 18 Stanley Dancer M             July 25 Tompkins-Geers M             Aug. 1 Hambo Elim M             Aug. 1 Hambo Elim M                

East Rutherford, NJ - Amigo Volo takes over the top harness racing spot in week four of Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian.         Rank Horse Driver, Trainer, Owner Ken Warkentin’s Comments 1 Amigo Volo  (Father Patrick) Dave Miller, Jim Campbell, Fashion Farms LLC Leading money winner among 2YO trotters in 2019 [$610,646], won the Breeders Crown & Matron & set four world records, rallied for third [1:54.2] with a :26.3 in a Big M qualifier on June 20, entered in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27 2 Real Cool Sam (Muscle Hill)  Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman, Pinske Stables, David J. Miller Dan Patch Award & Peter Haughton Memorial winner took a bad step & went offstride approaching the half & finished seventh in his first qualifier on June 20 @ The Big M, back in to qualify on June 27 3 Hypnotic AM (Chapter Seven)  Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, Courant Inc. NYSS champion & Jim Doherty Memorial winner by Chapter Seven won her first Big M qualifier in 1:54 on June May 30, then unleashed an ultra impressive 1:51.1 [:27.3] on June 12, cruised in a NYSS @ Tioga Downs on June 21 in 1:54.2 4 Maesteraemon (Andover Hall)   Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, S R F Stable    Gives Melander three in the Top Ten, took a mark of 1:52.4 @ The Red Mile, rallied to win his second Big M qualifier in 1:53.3 [:26.4] on June 6, won another Big M qualifier in 1:54 [:26.3] on June 20, entered in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27 5 Synergy (Father Patrick) Yannick Gingras, Per Engblom, Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman & David Anderson  This son of Father Patrick was third [1:55.4] in a Big M qualifier on May 30, fourth [1:54.2] @ Big M on June 12, second by a head in 1:54 [:26.2] @ Big M on June 20, entered in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27 6 Big Oil (Father Patrick) Andy & Julie Miller, Jason, Doug & Ron Allen  The Millers have two seconds & a third in the last four Hambletonians, first in a deadheat with Real Cool Sam in 1:52.1 @ The Red Mile, 1:53.3 winner in Big M qualifier on June 12, entered in an overnight @ Harrah’s Philadelphia on June 28 7 Capricornus (Muscle Hill)  Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander, JJ Racing Stable, Inc Second in the William Wellwood Memorial, Melander finished second, third & fifth in last year’s Hambletonian, second [1:52.4] in his 2020 debut on June 5, was entered in an overnight @ Harrah’s Philadelphia on June 25 8 Third Shift (Chapter Seven) Ake Svanstedt, Mellby Gard, Inc., Ake Svanstedt  NYSS champion son of Chapter Seven set a stakes & Batavia Downs track record of 1:56 in the NYSS Final, banked $210,461, won a Big M qualifier in 1:55 on May 30, was entered in NYSS @ Vernon Downs on June 24  9 Chestnut Hill (Muscle Hill) Dave Miller, Nifty Norman, Melvin Hartman, David McDuffee, Little E LLC Stablemate to Amigo Volo gives Muscle Hill three in the Top Ten, third in the PASS Final, Breeders Crown & Valley Victory, won his 2020 debut @ The Big M on June 19 in 1:53.1 [:26.1] 10 Back of the neck (Ready Cash) Yannick Gingras, Ake Svanstedt, Howard Taylor, Order By Stable, Judith Taylor Son of two-time Prix D’Amerique winner Ready Cash now with Team Svanstedt, won a Wellwood elimination & third in that final, won a Big M qualifier on June 20 in 1:53.4, entered in a $25,000 overnight @ Big M on June 27   Meadowlands Media Relations  

In the wake of the stake scheduling havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 shut-down in the sport, the Road to the $1M 2020 Hambletonian has turned into more of a harness racing "guideline." In an attempt to close some of the gaps on the calendar, the Meadowlands and Hambletonian Society are sponsoring $25,000 overnight events for three-year-old filly and colt trotters, Hambletonian-eligible preferred. Fillies will draw the inside if entered. The races will be slated for Saturday, June 27 and Saturday, July 4 on the Meadowlands condition sheet. With the rescheduling of many Grand Circuit Stakes north and south of the border, from the Currier & Ives Trot at The Meadows to the prestigious Goodtimes at Woodbine Mohawk Park and the cancellation of such important races like the Earl Beal Memorial, trainers are scrambling to remap the path to the Hambletonian winner circle, which has held firm to the date of Saturday, August 8 at the Meadowlands. "We are trying to do everything we can to get all the various sire stakes, Grand Circuit stake, closers and overnight horses raced." said Jason Settlemoir, COO and General Manager of the Meadowlands. "We appreciate the Hambletonian Society partnering with us on creating this additional opportunity for Hambletonian-bound trotters." The 3-year-old trotters resume a schedule in July that includes the Currier & Ives (July 4 Meadows), Reynolds (July11 Meadowlands), Stanley Dancer & Del Miller Memorial (July 18 Meadowlands) and the Tompkins-Geers (July 25 Meadowlands) prior to Hambletonian and Oaks eliminations on Saturday, August 1. The $1M Hambletonian is the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown. The $500,000 MGM Yonkers Trot (Sep. 5 at Yonkers Raceway) and the $500,000 Kentucky Futurity (Oct. 11 at Lexington's Red Mile) comprise the remaining legs.  

East Rutherford, NJ - Real Cool Sam & Amigo Volo are among four harness racing horses in the Top Ten qualifying Saturday. The filly Hypnotic AM jumps on list in #3 spot after winning in 1:51.1.   Rank Horse Driver, Trainer, Owner Ken Warkentin’s Comments 1 Real Cool Sam (Muscle Hill)  Dave Miller, Jim Campbell, Fashion Farms LLC Dan Patch Award winner named after Hall of Famer Sam McKee won his first nine starts, including the Peter Haughton Memorial, Jim Campbell said, “We’re in no hurry to qualify him and didn’t really have a set schedule; I just want to have a limited number of starts”, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 20 2 Amigo Volo  (Father Patrick) Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman, Pinske Stables, David J. Miller Leading money winner among 2YO trotters in 2019 [$610,646], won the Breeders Crown & Matron, and set four world records, fifth [:26.4] from post nine in his second qualifier on June 6 @ Big M, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 20 3 Hypnotic AM (Chapter Seven)  Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, Courant Inc. NYSS champion & Jim Doherty Memorial winner by Chapter Seven won her first Big M qualifier in 1:54 on June May 30, then unleashed an ultra impressive 1:51.1 [:27.3] on June 12, prompting her connections to consider a shot at the boys    4 Capricornus (Muscle Hill)  Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander, JJ Racing Stable, Inc William Wellwood Memorial elimination winner & second in that final, Melander finished second, third & fifth in last year’s Hambletonian, second [1:55.3] in a Big M qualifier on May 30, second [1:52.4] in his 2020 debut on June 5 5 Big Oil (Father Patrick) Andy & Julie Miller, Jason, Doug & Ron Allen  Team Orange Crush have two seconds & a third in the last four Hambletonians, this son of Father Patrick finished first in a deadheat with Real Cool Sam in 1:52.1 @ The Red Mile, fourth [1:57.1] in a Gaitway qualifier on May 31, 1:53.3 winner @ Big M on June 12  6 Maesteraemon (Andover Hall) Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, S R F Stable  Improving son of Andover Hall gives Melander three in the top ten, took a mark of 1:52.4 @ The Red Mile, seventh [1:56.3] in a Big M qualifier on May 30, then rallied to win a Big M qualifier in 1:53.3 [:26.4] on June 6, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 20 7 Third Shift (Chapter Seven) Ake Svanstedt, Mellby Gard, Inc., Ake Svanstedt  NYSS champion son of Chapter Seven set a stakes & Batavia Downs track record of 1:56 in the NYSS Final, banked $210,461, won a Big M qualifier in 1:55 on May 30, Svanstedt has three other prospects:  Moon Bridge, King Alphonso & Gangster Hanover  8 Synergy (Father Patrick) Yannick Gingras, Per Engblom, Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman & David Anderson  Per Engblom made his Hambletonian debut last year with Osterc, this son of Father Patrick won a Peter Haughton elimination, Champlain division & Breeders Crown elimination, third [1:55.4] in a Big M qualifier on May 30, fourth [1:54.2] @ Big M on June 12, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 20 9 Ready For Moni (Ready Cash) Yannick Gingras, Per Engblom, John Fielding, Lindy Farms of Conn, Herb Liverman & Bud Hatfield Son of two-time Prix D’Amerique winner Ready Cash & grandson of the great Moni Maker won the Kentucky Sires Stakes Final in 1:54.1 & finished second in the Valley Victory Final, scratched from a Big M qualifier on June 12 10 Rome Pays Off (Muscle Hill) Mattias Melander, Marcus Melander, S R F Stable $339,484 winning son of Muscle Hill was second in both the Peter Haughton Memorial & Breeders Crown, Melander had the Winterbook favorite the past two years, sixth [1:56.2] in a Big M qualifier on May 30, then ninth [1:57.1] on June 6   Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, NJ - Real Cool Sam leads Ken Warkentin's harness racing 'Road to the Hambletonian week 2'.   For all things 2020 Hambo click here             Rank Horse Driver, Trainer, Owner Ken Warkentin’s Comments 1 Real Cool Sam (Muscle Hill)  Dave Miller, Jim Campbell, Fashion Farms LLC Dan Patch Award winner named after Hall of Famer Sam McKee won his first nine starts, including the Peter Haughton Memorial, Muscle Hill gelding was a 1:52.1 world record performer, $497,774 winner finished off freshman season with fourth in Breeders Crown 2 Amigo Volo  (Father Patrick) Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman, Pinske Stables, David J. Miller Father Patrick gelding was the leading money winner among 2YO trotters in 2019 [$610,646], won the Breeders Crown & Matron, and set four world records, finished fifth [:26.4] from post nine in his second qualifier on June 6 @ Big M 3 Capricornus (Muscle Hill) Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander, JJ Racing Stable, Inc 1:52.2 Muscle Hill colt won four of his last five starts, including a Bluegrass division, and finals of the Kindergarten & Valley Victory, banked $511,309 & leads a strong Team Svanstedt contingent, went wire-to-wire in Big M qualifier on May 30 in 1:55.2 4 Rome Pays Off (Muscle Hill)  Mattias Melander, Marcus Melander,  S R F Stable  $339,484 winning son of Muscle Hill was second in both the Peter Haughton Memorial & Breeders Crown, Melander had the Winterbook favorite the past two years, sixth [1:56.2] behind EL Ideal in a Big M qualifier on May 30, then ninth [1:57.1] on June 6 5 Third Shift (Chapter Seven)  Ake Svanstedt, Mellby Gard, Inc., Ake Svanstedt NYSS champion son of Chapter Seven set a stakes & Batavia Downs track record of 1:56 in the NYSS Final, banked $210,461, won a Big M qualifier in 1:55 on May 30, Svanstedt has three other prospects:  Moon Bridge, King Alphonso & Ganster Hanover 6 Synergy (Father Patrick)  Yannick Gingras, Per Engblom, Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman & David Anderson Per Engblom made his Hambletonian debut last year with Osterc, this son of Father Patrick won a Peter Haughton elimination, Champlain division & Breeders Crown elimination, finished third [1:55.4] to EL Ideal in a Big M qualifier on May 30, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 12 7 Ready For Moni  (Ready Cash) Yannick Gingras, Per Engblom, John Fielding, Lindy Farms of Conn, Herb Liverman & Bud Hatfield Son of two-time Prix D’Amerique winner Ready Cash & grandson of the great Moni Maker won the Kentucky Sires Stakes Final in 1:54.1 & finished second in the Valley Victory Final, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 12 8 Chestnut Hill (Muscle Hill)  Brian Sears, Nifty Norman, Melvin Hartman, David Mc Duffee, Little E LLC Bay Colt gives Muscle Hill four in the Top Ten, stablemate to Amigo Volo won a Kindergarten Classic division, and finished third in the PASS Final, Breeders Crown & Valley Victory, finished eighth [1:57.2] behind EL Ideal in a Big M qualifier on May 30, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 12 9 Big Oil (Father Patrick) Andy & Julie Miller, Jason, Doug & Ron Allen Team Orange Crush have two seconds & a third in the last four Hambletonians, this son of Father Patrick finished first in a deadheat with Real Cool Sam in 1:52.1 @ The Red Mile, finished fourth [1:57.1] in a Gaitway qualifier on May 31, entered to qualify @ Big M on June 12 10 Maesteraemon (Andover Hall) Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, S R F Stable Improving son of Andover Hall gives Melander three in the top ten, took a mark of 1:52.4 @ The Red Mile, seventh [1:56.3] in a Big M qualifier on May 30, then rallied to win a Big M qualifier in 1:53.3 [:26..4] on June 6 Meadowlands Media Relations  

Cranbury, NJ... February sustaining and nominating payments for 133 Hambletonian Society stake and late-closing events are due Saturday, February 15 and per USTA Rule 12 section 2, must be postmarked by midnight on Tuesday, February 18. February is the gateway payment for most 3-year-old and older stakes and closers as well as initial 2-year-old payments for Breeders Crown and Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes. This includes two legs of the Trotting Triple Crown, the $1.2 Million Hambletonian (with eliminations held the week prior) & $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks, as well as the MGM Yonkers Trot. All 2-Year-Old Breeders Crown are estimated at $600,000. The Breeders Crown sophomore events will be raced for $500,000 as will the Breeders Crown Trot & Pace. Mare Open events are bumped to $300,000 for the second consecutive year. All 12 Breeders Crown races are hosted by Harrah's Hoosier Park on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, October 31. Race conditions, payment forms and much more information is available online at www.hambletonian.com. For additional information call the Society offices at 609-371-2211. by Moira Fanning, for the Hambletonian Society  

BEDMINSTER, NJ  – The Bridgewater Courier News reports that one of the most iconic landmarks in Somerset County is going up for sheriff's sale. Lana Lobell Farms, owned by former Bedminster Township Committeeman Kurt Joerger and his wife, Janice, will be going up for sale at 2 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Freeholders Meeting Room in the County Administration Building, 20 Grove St., Somerville, NJ. Bank of America, which bought Merrill Lynch during the financial crisis of 2008, has foreclosed on the 123-acre property on Rattlesnake Bridge Road between the Branchburg border and Route 78. Iconioc Lana Lobell Farms in Bedminster will be up for sheriff's sale next month. (Photo: ~New Jersey Conservation Foundation)   During its heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, Lana Lobell Farms was one of the nation’s top producers of Standardbred racehorses. Its annual yearling sale attracted high-profile buyers from around the world, and horses bred there included four winners of the Hambletonian, harness racing’s equivalent of the Kentucky Derby.  But the prestigious horse farm came to an end in 1997, when the former owner filed for bankruptcy. According to Somerset County Superior Court records, Joerger had an unpaid balance on the mortgage of $3,900,127 as of Dec. 1, 2018. Joerger also owed $192,627 in interest for a total, along with other costs, of $4,129,857. Joerger had taken out a $5.42 million mortgage with Merrill Lynch to buy the property in July 2003 at an interest rate of 3.875%. The initial monthly payment, court papers say, was $17,736 per month. Joerger never filed a response to any of the legal papers submitted to the court.   In February 2016, Somerset County spearheaded a partnership to purchase the two parcels making up the farm for $5.87 million. Joining the county in the partnership were the New Jersey Conservation Foundation on behalf of Bedminster Township, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the New Jersey Agriculture Development Committee. Somerset County's share of the purchase is about $1 million in open space funds. The property, known for its iconic white fence on Rattlesnake Bridge Road, had been approved for nine estate homes in 2007, but was never developed. At one time a golf community was also proposed for the property. Joerger resigned in 2007 from the Bedminster Township Committee when faced with a recall election. Because of the agricultural easement on the property, the opportunities for any development are limited. Reprinted with permission by the Bridgewater Courier News

Sometime down the road when harness racing driver Bob McClure wants to reminisce about 2019, he knows what it will involve. "A lot of replays," McClure said. Get your popcorn ready. McClure enjoyed numerous highlights in 2019, topped by his win with Forbidden Trade in the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes final last August at The Meadowlands.   For the year, McClure won 229 races and a career-best $4.67 million in purses despite missing a month in the spring because of a broken pelvis. He ranked third on the money list among Canadian drivers and saw his earnings increase for the sixth consecutive year. He is a finalist, for the third time, for Canada's Driver of the Year. The winner will be announced Feb. 1 at the O'Brien Awards in Ontario. "Third time's a charm, hopefully," said McClure, who is up against defending champ Louis-Philippe Roy. Regardless of that result, McClure needs to clear space for a trophy. In December, the 29-year-old was named the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Rising Star. He will receive his award Feb. 23 at the Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. McClure is the first Canadian to receive the honor since Scott Zeron in 2012. "It was certainly a shock and I'm really grateful," McClure said of the honor. "It shows the significance of the Hambletonian, how much weight it carries with the voters. It's pretty neat to follow in the footsteps of other Canadians who have won that award." McClure drove three O'Brien Award finalists in 2019: Forbidden Trade, older female trotter Emoticon Hanover, and 2-year-old male trotter Port Perry. All three horses were trained by Luc Blais and owned by Determination stable. There was no question that Forbidden Trade's upset of Greenshoe in the Hambletonian, harness racing's premier race for 3-year-old trotters, led the list of memorable moments for McClure. "I'd say that's the highlight of anybody's career if you're lucky enough to win it," McClure said. In addition to winning the Hambletonian, Forbidden Trade and McClure captured the Ontario Sire Stakes championship and were second in the Yonkers Trot and Goodtimes Stakes. Emoticon Hanover, who retired at the conclusion of her 6-year-old season in 2019, went out a winner with McClure when she won a preferred trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park in December. Port Perry was a two-time winner on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit and finished second in the series final. McClure also had multiple OSS victories with 3-year-old female pacer Powerful Chris, 2-year-old male trotter Threefiftytwo, and 2-year-old female pacer Off The Press. Other winners in the series with McClure were 3-year-old male pacer Best In Show, 2-year-old male pacer Examiner Hanover, and 2-year-old female pacer P L Notorious. "The OSS here is a really great program," McClure said. "I was the leading money-winner in it, so that shows you drove a lot of nice horses all the way across the whole Ontario circuit. I think that was the biggest part of the year for me. Between Forbidden Trade, Powerful Chris, a whole bunch of real nice (OSS) Gold horses I was lucky enough to drive, I think that's what made the summer so fun." Powerful Chris provided McClure with another memorable night, although not in a win. She finished third, beaten only a neck, in the Fan Hanover Stakes at odds of 54-1. The filly is owned in part by McClure's grandfather, John. "That was pretty special," McClure said. "He never had a horse in a race like that before, so to be that close with some of the top fillies in North America was a lot of fun. It was close to home." McClure, who led Canadian drivers in wins in 2016 and 2017, made the move from Canada's "B" tracks to the main stage of the Woodbine-Mohawk circuit in December 2017. "Things have happened a lot faster than I think anybody could have predicted," McClure said. "Obviously, it's beyond exceeded my expectations. I was lucky enough to pick up Determination, which was a huge boost. They have a lot of quality horses and every time they go to the track they're going with a shot. It really puts your name out there, puts you on the map. I would attribute a lot of it to that." So, what does McClure do in 2020 for an encore? "I just try to keep improving every year, year to year," he said. "That's my biggest goal. I think that will be tough to do this year, to top last year, but I'm excited." For information on the Dan Patch Awards banquet and accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek, visit www.ushwa.net. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is proud to announce its 2020 stakes schedule which will total approximately $14 million over the course of the 92 program meet.   The Meadowlands Standardbred meet will have a different look in 2020 due to Monmouth Park exercising their legislated right to race Thoroughbreds on the main track from October 2 through November 21, thus eliminating the possibility for the customary Fall harness meet.   Live Harness Racing will begin January 2 and race primarily on Fridays and Saturdays with an occasional Thursday thrown in through September 19; then pick back up on November 27 racing three days per week through year's end.   Hambletonian Day will once again headline the Championship Meet with more than $3 million in stakes purses offered on Saturday, August 8. The $1 million Hambletonian will return to the elimination format with the finest 3-year-old trotters competing for ten final berths on August 1 to return for Harness Racing's most sought after prize the next week.   The Hambletonian Oaks will follow the same course and lead the customary cast of supporting stakes that include the $300,000 Cashman FFA trot, $225,000 McKee FFA pace, $175,000 Steele FFA mare trot, $200,000 Lady Liberty FFA mare pace and the Haughton & Doherty Memorial stakes for freshman colt and filly trotters.   The $700,000e Meadowlands Pace will lead a parade of top stakes on Pace night Saturday, July 18 the includes the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity, $400,000 WR Haughton FFA and $200,000 Golden Girls for pacing mares.   The TVG Championship Stakes and Fall Freshman Final Four are slated to open the winter meet on Saturday, November 28 headlining a $3 million card.   The longer than usual summer meet presents an opportunity to delay the start of the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) for 2-year-olds to mid-July with the finals on August 21. The later start to the NJSS races offer three more weeks to prepare for the enriched NJ program, a welcome benefit to both the horses and the horsemen that manage them. Those dates have recently been adjusted to race the finals two weeks earlier than originally planned in an effort to accommodate those horses that qualify to race in the Kentucky dual-eligibility program.   While on the topic of 2-year-olds, The Meadowlands schedule provides a racing opportunity for the freshman crop every week from July 3 through September 18. The Tompkins-Geers and Reynolds stakes, previously raced at Tioga Downs, have been brought to The Meadowlands with the 2-year-old divisions of those stakes blended in with the Kindergarten and NJSS to reach that goal.   The 3-year-old Tompkins-Geers trotting and pacing divisions and Reynolds trotting stakes are all at The Meadowlands and have been placed where they best provide preps for some of our major stakes.   The Graduate Series returns in the customary time frame to provide transitional races for 4-year-old pacers and trotters before they must face the top older stakes horses. The $250,000 finals will again be a part of the Meadowlands Pace elimination night card on July 11.   The Miss Versatility will offer five legs to trotting mares beginning on May 28 at Woodbine Mohawk Park then race at The Meadowlands four times before the $100,000 finals at The Little Brown Jug.   All stakes information will be available on The Meadowlands website in early January.   by Nick Salvi, for The Meadowlands        

Cranbury, NJ.....The milestone 95th Hambletonian will be raced on Saturday, August 8 at The New Meadowlands in Rutherford, NJ. Though traditionally scheduled on the first Saturday in August, every six years the event moves to the second Saturday, as is the case in 2020. The Meadowlands has been the longest-running host track of America's Classic Trotting event, having staged the race for the last 38 years since the Society voted to relocate from the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois in 1981. The partners recently extended their contract to host the Hambletonian through 2023. The $1.2 million event will revert to elimination heats raced the week before on Saturday, August 1, along with the eliminations for the distaff companion event, the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks. The race is simulcast internationally and attracts record wagering handle and attendance at the north Jersey track. The Hambletonian has undergone multiple format changes and been raced at six host tracks since 1926. The Hambletonian is the first leg of the trotting Triple Crown, followed by the Yonkers Trot in Yonkers, NY and the Kentucky Futurity in Lexington, KY. It is currently the only harness racing broadcast on network TV, and has been for more than 30 years. The $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity, for eligible 4-year-old trotters, will be raced on Saturday, July 18, the night of the Meadowlands Pace. For more information contact Moira Fanning at the Hambletonian Society (609-371-2211) or Rachel Ryan at the Meadowlands Racetrack (201-842-5015). From the Hambletonian Society

All 3-year-old trotters not eligible to the 2019 Hambletonian or Oaks have the option to supplement to the 2020 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-olds, with a supplemental payment of $2,000 on Nov. 15. The $400,000E Hambletonian Maturity is raced at The Meadowlands at a distance of a mile and an eighth and all starters receive money. It is typically the richest 4-year-old Trot offered. There is an additional supplemental window of $5,000 on February 15, 2020. Eligible trotters to the Oaks or Hambletonian in 2019 make a sustaining payment of $2,000 (fillies pay $1,500) on February 15, 2020 to start, as do supplemental entrants. The Hambletonian Maturity of 2020 will be the seventh edition of the race created by the Hambletonian Society and The Meadowlands to provide a racing opportunity for four-year-old trotters. All supplemental nomination fees are made payable to the Hambletonian Society Inc. and are added to the amount of the purse of the specific race. For more information go to https://www.hambletonian.com/formsinfo or call David Janes at 609-371-2211. From the Hambletonian Society

In August there were five active harness racing Hambletonian winners in training and racing throughout North America and in Europe, probably the first time that has occurred in the 94-history of the race. It's an astounding number when you consider the factors involved in just reaching the Hambletonian.   As the stage turns to Saturday's Breeders Crown finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park, three of those horses have been entered, along with a host of past Dan Patch winners and returning Breeders Crown champions.   The Standardbreds may be going much faster than they once did but the idea that they have become less durable over time is just not the case. In fact longevity comes with the breed and the fact that our horses not only race for many years but they race at a high level is a testament to their resilience.   Trainer Mike Keeling who along with his wife Paula Wellwood have campaigned 2016 Hambletonian winner and Triple Crown champion Marion Marauder speaks with nothing but adulation about the son of Muscle Hill.   "He knows how to take care of himself," said Keeling giving part of the reason Marion Marauder, now a 6-year-old, is still at the top of his game.   "He's the type of horse that could be going along at 35 second clip and then shift gears and be going 27. His gait doesn't change."   While there have been stops and starts along the way after a spectacular 3-year-old campaign Keeling thinks the one constant that has kept Marion Marauder at this level is soundness.   "For a horse to race at this level they've got to be sound," Keeling said. "I think with him it all starts with his gait. He's easy on himself."   Marion Marauder was not at his sharpest earlier in the campaign but after a bout with sickness following the Maple Leaf Trot Keeling believes he's reached peak form.   "He's the kind of horse that you can tell by his demeanor if he's going to have a good race," said Keeling about an hour before the $1 million International Trot.   "He felt really good out there warming up today." Keeling was right on the money as Marion Marauder was a solid closing third in the 1 and ¼ mile contest.   Marion Marauder's longevity also may have something to do with racing style. Unlike so many of today's premier performers Marion Marauder is at his best when raced off the lead and not asked to make multiple moves. It's something that Keeling is acutely aware of.   "He just can't go those 27 quarters back-to-back," said Keeling. "We've been thinking about racing him in Europe for a while and we may end up doing it next year. The style of racing may suit him better than in North America."   Marion Marauder went up against Atlanta in the International and will again be racing against last year's Hambletonian winner in the Breeders Crown Trot. As a 4-year-old Atlanta has managed to exhibit the brilliance she displayed as a sophomore once again defeating male competition on her way to a fabulous campaign. Though blessed with flashy speed it is no accident that driver Yannick Gingras has often said that Atlanta is a much better horse when coming from behind. Perhaps that's the long-term strategy that could keep Atlanta at the top of this division for a long time.   Just recently the 2015 Hambletonian winner Pinkman was retired after a splendid career, following a successful sophomore season that ended in divisional honors. Though the son of Explosive Matter would only win three races in the years that followed he was always raced at the highest level and was generally competitive no matter the circumstances.   Perfect Spirit, the 2017 Hambo winner is currently campaigning in Europe two years after his greatest victory. The durability of the breed is not top weighted just to trotters as shown most admirably by the defending Horse of the Year McWicked. His trainer Casie Coleman is a staunch defender against "age" discrimination and rejects those who even attempt to suggest the 8-year-old has lost a step.   "The mile he went in the mile and an eighth distance race at The Meadowlands against Lather Up was the fastest he's ever paced," said Coleman in reference to the Sam McKee at The Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day where McWicked finished third in a 1:59 2/5 clocking for the added distance.   McWicked looks to go over the $5 million mark in career earnings on Saturday night in his seventh year on the racetrack.   "He's just an extremely smart horse," said Coleman of McWicked. "You go out there and jog him and he knows when it's the last lap. He's a bit lazy but you don't want to be easy on him."   Coleman says that McWicked is of course well taken care of with monthly trips to the vet to keep him healthy. She also suggests McWicked benefits from regular sea salt spa treatments.   "He has no major lameness issues," Coleman said.   McWicked in some ways like Marion Marauder has survived this long by predominantly going against the grain. He's able to race on the front but that's not where he generally races. In winning for the second straight year in the Dan Rooney at Yonkers McWicked came first up without cover and was put to a decided disadvantage of pace and position by the pace-setter Jimmy Freight.   While appearing to struggle to keep up with the leader heading down the backstretch McWicked did what he's done so many times before-found another gear. Brian Sears called on the son of McArdle on the final turn and McWicked took over as if he knew it was time to go. That intelligence Coleman speaks to kicks in for this horse as they approach the finish wire.   If a replay needs to be shown to illustrate the definition of class in a Standardbred then rerun the footage from the September 7 $440,000 Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs. That seven of the nine horses finished within a length and a half of the winner can explain how competitive the race was. In reviewing the race it's impossible not to notice just how McWicked was having trouble keeping up with cover as the field rolled to the three quarters in a remarkably quick 1:20 clocking.   At that point the casual viewer may have concluded that it wasn't going to be his night. In the final quarter mile McWicked not only picked himself up off the canvas but he managed to squeeze between every horse and put his nose in front of an extremely crowded win photo.   You don't reach $5 million in career earnings without a desire to win, no matter the journey.   The Breeders Crown brings out the best of the breed and the fact that nine of last year's Dan Patch year-end award winners will be in the line-up this Saturday night is astounding. Perhaps even more incredible is that nearly a year after some great performances many of the same horses arrive at Woodbine Mohawk Park in peak form.   Dorsoduro Hanover, a 4-year-old that captured the Dan Patch for 3-year-old male pacers in 2018, enters Saturday Breeders Crown Open event after his best effort of the year, a 1:49 4/5 first-over victory at Woodbine Mohawk Park last week. With nearly $1.5 million in career earnings he's had difficulty making the transition from sophomore to Open class but appears ready now.   Dan Patch winner Shartin N has obviously gotten better with age and is deservedly the odds-on choice to capture her division title as well as a strong contender for Horse of the Year. Her consistency and will to win are a rare combination but durability has been a major attribute.   The 4-year-olds Atlanta and Six Pack will meet in the Open Trot with Six Pack entering the contest off a sparkling 1:49 2/5 mile at The Red Mile. He's the only trotter with sub-1:50 efforts as a 3 and 4-year-old.   Gimpanzee went undefeated as a Dan Patch and Breeders Crown champion in 2018 and though somewhat overshadowed by his stablemate Greenshoe has managed an impressive streak of victories this year including the Yonkers Trot. Gimpanzee won't be favored in Saturday's Crown finale for 3-year-old male trotters but anyone that watched his elimination effort last Saturday would expect him to be in the hunt once again.   Durability defines many of our top horses and with many of the two-year-olds that turned three comes maturity. Warrawee Ubeaut has made a name for herself and her sire Sweet Lou over the last two months and looks for back-to-back Crowns on Saturday. Whether Nancy Johansson's pair of 2018 Dan Patch winners Captain Crunch and Kissin In The Sand win Crowns this weekend or not, the fact that they have come back and been able to tough out a grueling campaign is befitting champions whether crowned or un-crowned.   Just the numbers alone that we see in the Breeders Crown this week tell the story. It's a powerful tale of horses that were meant to race and those surrounding them doing everything possible to see them excel. What we have witnessed is truly incredible and can only happen on a racetrack. The desire to race and win does not only come in human form. It is there for all to see on the hearts of our champion Standardbreds.   By Jay Bergman, for the Breeders Crown

Goshen, NY - The harness racing community once again showed robust support for two of the sport's most important charities - The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) - at a casino-themed fundraiser held Hambletonian eve at The New Meadowlands in East Rutherford. .The August 2nd event, with dinner sponsorship from the connections of Atlanta, featured nearly 200 people playing casino games and vying in a poker tournament to win prizes that included an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas sponsored by Roberts Communications and The New Meadowlands. The silent auction which was sponsored by Marvin Katz included Rolling Stones tickets and New York Yankees tickets as well as Prix d'Amerique items, harness racing art and a beautiful bronze of mares and foals. Raffle prize winners won harness racing art, high tech devices, jewelry, autographed Yankees baseballs and themed baskets such as vintage Hambletonian items, Italian food and beverages, and of course, Foiled Again. Charles Keller III and Yankeeland Farm sponsored the raffle items. Approximately $80,000 was raised and will be shared equally by the two organizations after expenses. A buffet dinner and an open bar were provided throughout the evening to go along with blackjack, roulette and a great night of racing. Arden Homestead Stable sponsored the bar, and Brittany Farms and the American Ideal Syndicate underwrote dessert. Table sponsors included Arch Madness, Cameo Hills Farm, Diamond Creek Farms, Jay Farrar, Ted Gewertz & Claire Chappell in memory of Charles Iannazzo, Hambletonian Society, Max Hempt, Mary Ellen & David McDuffee, Freehold Raceway, Marion Marauder Group, McWicked, Marcus Melander Stable, David Miller, Preferred Equine, Seelster Farms, Southwind Frank, Standardbred Horse Sales, Svanstedt Stable, Sweet Lou and the United States Trottting Association. Table co-sponsors were Tony Alagna, Jenn Bongiorno, George Brennan, Corey Callahan, Daniel Dube Stable, Dexter Dunn, Yannick Gingras, Erv Miller Stable, Julie & Andy Miller, Brian Sears, Nick Surick Stable, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano and Paula Wellwood. Raffle and auction items were donated by Murray Brown, Bob Boni/Bluestone Farms, Brian Cashman, Tom Charters, Callie Davies-Gooch, Mary Lou Dondarski, Moira Fanning, John Polvinale, The Hambletonian Society, The New Meadowlands, Standardbred Retirement Foundation and the Harness Racing Museum. Monetary donations were received from Suzie Dupler-Telle, Sugar Valley Farms and Todd Buter. The Museum is planning a major expansion project and the SRF is caring for nearly 400 horses. The money raised on August 2nd will be an important first step in achieving goals for both groups. This exceptional level of generosity by so many in the harness racing industry is profoundly appreciated by all those involved with the Museum and the SRF. A charitable event has been part of the Hambletonian festivities since 1991 and has raised a total of $1.4 million. by Janet Terhune, for the Harness Racing Museum  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The curtain came down on the Meadowlands' 2019 harness racing meet on Hambletonian Day (Aug. 3), ending a seven-month run that would be the envy of any track operator. Total handle on Hambo Day was up nearly 15 percent over the year before as $6.5 million was pushed through the windows, approximately $800,000 more than the year before. The $6.5 million was by far the best single-day handle in the entire sport in 2019. Next up was the $4.4 million bet by players at Woodbine at Mohawk Park on March 30 when the track had a huge Super High-Five carryover on a mandatory payout night. The only other $4 million-plus handle this year was at the Big M on Meadowlands Pace Night ($4,044,303). The wagering trend was a positive one for the 62 Big M programs presented from the first of the year through the first Saturday in August, as a total of $174.2 million was put in play, good for an average of $2,811,179 per card. Over the same 2018 span, 58 race cards saw total wagering of $137.3 million, an average of $2,367,260. Thus, total wagering was up 27 percent at the industry's handle leader, while per-card betting increased 18 percent. One of the keys to increased handle is to card more races, and that was clearly the case this year as compared to last. During 2018, a total of 671 races were contested at the Meadowlands, an average per night of 11.56. This year, 790 races took place, good for an average of 12.74, an increase of 10.2 percent. With the additional races, there were 1,515 more starters in 2019 Big M races than there were in 2018. The track averaged 8.92 starters per race in 2019. The Meadowlands' faithful fan base bet with both hands on a consistent basis. Total handle reached $2.5 million 47 times over the 62-card span. On 12 occasions, the magic $3 million mark was achieved, while the Meadowlands Pace and Hambo accounted for the two $4 million-plus cards. "All of us at the Meadowlands are appreciative of the purse appropriation earmarked for the horse racing industry that was approved by New Jersey legislators, Gov. Phil Murphy, President of the New Jersey Senate Stephen Sweeney and Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly Craig Coughlin," said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "With that money in our purse account, it created more of a level playing field in the competition for horses from nearby states. "We appreciate how our horsemen have supported our entry box - we couldn't do it without them - and how our fans played our races all meeting long. We've seen consistently bigger fields at the Meadowlands, and big fields are what our fans like most when betting on our product. Competitive racing with large fields and less winning favorites at the sport's top facility is a recipe for wagering success." On the track, new fastest-ever Big M marks were established for horses of both gaits on July 6. Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian champion, exploded home in :26.3 in the Graduate Final for trotters on the way to stopping the clock in 1:49.1 while Lather Up set a new mark of 1:46 in the Graduate Final for pacers, and in the process, equaled Always B Miki's fastest mile ever in the history of the sport. Grabbing headlines - as usual - was the superstar mare Shartin N, who became the fastest female in harness racing history after taking the Lady Liberty on Hambo Day in 1:46.4. It was another great year for conditioner Ron Burke, as well as his go-to driver, Yannick Gingras. Burke took his eighth straight Big M training title with 73 victories and earnings of $1.85 million while Marcus Melander had the second-highest bank account at $1.29 million. Burke, 49, also reached a remarkable milestone, becoming the first trainer in history to record 10,000 lifetime wins after his student Crucial won a Jim Doherty Memorial elimination on July 26 at the mile oval. Gingras, 40, killed it all meeting long and used a fabulous February as the catalyst for his fifth Meadowlands driving title. During those 28 days, Gingras established meet highs for wins on a single program (seven, on the 1st) and in a month (33) on the way to visiting the winner's circle a total of 127 times. He was also tops in earnings with $2.25 million. Dexter Dunn was nothing short of superb in his first full season of racing in the U.S., as the New Zealand native opened many eyes with his 86 wins, which was easily second best in the standings. Tim Tetrick's earnings of $2.18 million nosed out Dunn's ($2.14 million) in the race for second-highest driver bankroll. THE SKED: Simulcasting from Saratoga and a host of other tracks will continue every day, but there will be no live racing at the Meadowlands for eight straight weekends, beginning Aug. 9-10. Monmouth Park will conduct thoroughbred racing over the Big M's turf course on Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 25 and 26. The Meadowlands will be back with live harness action on Oct. 11, and then conduct racing on Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 30 before adding Thursdays in December. There will be both thoroughbred and harness racing on the same day on Oct. 11, 12, 18, 25 and 26. Post time for harness racing is 7:15 p.m. Post time for thoroughbred racing will be announced at a later date. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

The Hambletonian Future wager proved to be an extreme value play for those following and cashing in on the race winner Forbidden Trade.   The son of Kadabra captured the $1 million event at The Meadowlands in dramatic style returning $33.80 to win for those placing wagers close to post time. In the four separate Future wagers heading into the first jewel in Trotting's Triple Crown sharp players saw profits rise from the opening wager until the last. Forbidden Trade returned $22 in the first pool that closed with just $1,810 wagered in total. Price shoppers struck gold in the second pool when Forbidden Trade's backers were rewarded with a $103.60 payout, more than triple his post time odds. Forbidden Trade was still an overlay in the third Future wager with a $40.20 payout. The Hambletonian Future wager got significantly more traction as the race got closer to post time with $13,304 wagered in the fourth pool. Sharp players who backed the Ontario-sired colt trained by Luc Blais and driven most ably by Bob McClure took in $57.80 for a $2 wager nearly double the post time payoff. by Jay Bergman for the Hambletonian Society

Prior to Saturday (Aug. 3) afternoon, Luc Blais' fondest memories of a Hambletonian were from a race 24 years earlier, when Tagliabue won America's Trotting Classic at The Meadowlands. By Saturday evening, the events of the prior 24 hours would change that. Blais, who was a groom visiting the Meadowlands when Tagliabue captured the 1995 Hambletonian, watched Saturday at the Big M as his colt Forbidden Trade won the $1 million Hambletonian final, upsetting 1-5 favorite Greenshoe by a neck. Forbidden Trade, trained by Blais and driven by 28-year-old Bob McClure, was the 2018 O'Brien Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter and became the first Canadian champ to win the Hambletonian in the award's 30-year history. "It's amazing," Blais said. "I used to watch the race before, when I was not in it, and it was always exciting. And now, just to be in the race, it is exciting. To win, it's, I don't even know how to say it. It's a good, good, good feeling." Blais had started a horse in the Hambletonian once previously, sending Jake to the race in 2017. Jake finished sixth in his elimination and did not advance to the final. This time, Forbidden Trade was a strong-finishing third in his elimination before returning 90 minutes later to win the final. "I had confidence; I had a good feeling," said Blais, who conditions the son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory for Serge Godin's Detirmination Stable. "But we needed to be in the final first." The 57-year-old Blais is a native of western Quebec, not far from Ottawa. He got hooked on racing at an early age, watching his father, a salesman, race his own horses on the Quebec fair circuit. He worked for several stables, including Canadian Hall of Famer Yves Filion's Bayama Farms, before going on his own. "I always liked horses," Blais said. "My father had horses. He bought a classy horse with big legs. We needed to tub him and put time on him. You need to put time on the horse. A classy horse, if you put time on the horse, they're going to give back to you. That's my thinking." Blais' pick of Tagliabue's win in the Hambletonian as a favorite was due in part to the horse being unraced at 2 and brought to peak for the race. "I like that kind of story," he said. Blais said he planned to celebrate the Hambletonian win with his brother and friends before returning to work on Sunday. "Maybe we'll drink a few beers and just relax," Blais said. "After (Saturday) you have to go back to work. I think that's the only way you can be there, it's the work. You need to be there and work. And you need to have the passion, both work and passion." Blais and McClure have forged a successful relationship in the two years since McClure left Canada's 'B' tracks for the main stage of Woodbine-Mohawk. McClure's Hambletonian victory marked the third time in four years that a driver younger than 30 captured the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters. Scott Zeron won in 2016 with Marion Marauder at age 27 and two years later with Atlanta. "We were looking for a regular driver for the barn and he had just come from the 'B' tracks, where he was very good," Blais said. "He's a young guy, but he is a very mature guy. Very professional. He's got the talent to be a good driver. It's been a good partnership. To me, to have success, you need to work together." McClure, an Ontario native, finished second in purses in Canada in 2018 and third in wins. He led Canada in wins in 2017 and 2016 and was third in 2015. He was making his Hambletonian debut with Forbidden Trade. "It hasn't sunk in yet, maybe in a few days it will," McClure said Saturday about the win. "It's certainly been career changing in the last four years. I have a lot of people to thank for that, I've had a lot of support behind me. The icing on the cake was the Determination Stable, I owe them a lot. I couldn't have done it without the people who supported me along the way." McClure admitted to some anxiety prior to the Hambletonian but was at ease when he hit the track with Forbidden Trade. "It probably didn't show on the outside in the paddock, but there were nerves," McClure said. "But whenever I hit the track, they all go away. And he's such a quiet horse, a push-button horse to drive, which makes it a lot easier on me being kind of green to this. "I would say he definitely led me. He did a very good job for me." McClure, who missed a month of action in the spring because of a broken pelvis, gave credit to Blais for having Forbidden Trade in top form for the Hambletonian. The colt entered the Hambletonian off three consecutive wins, including a prep against older foes on July 22 at Woodbine-Mohawk Park. "I do think he was underrated," McClure said about Forbidden Trade, who has won 12 of 19 career races and finished off the board only once in his past 14 races. "I think it's pretty great that the Meadowlands Pace winner (Best In Show) and the Hambo winner are Ontario-sired horses. It's really great for Ontario and Ontario racing. I think we do fly under the radar somewhat, but I think this shows we are competitive on the world stage. "Maybe we flew under the radar. I don't think we'll get away with that anymore." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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