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YONKERS, N.Y. – When harness racing trainer Jim King, Jr. thinks about returning to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway, the trainer admits he’s, “going in with a better chance than most.” King will start a trio of mares in the series first leg Friday night (March 15), and the onslaught is led by Shartin, who will try to become the first mare to repeat in the Matchmaker Series. Shartin’s victory in the $373,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final last April was the first of nine major Grand Circuit wins last year which propelled her to become the first mare to win over $1 million in a single season and earned her the Dan Patch Award for Older Pacing Mare. The experience is still fresh on the minds of King and his wife, Joann.  “Between my wife and I we’ve got well over one hundred years in this business and to be in a position here where we get this kind of stuff, it’s still very exciting to us,” King said. “This time last year (Shartin) was a real handful,” King remembered. “By now, we’ve kind of got a handle on her, but she started off real big because she won races in January for 11 months straight. That’s pretty good in that class to be doing that. She’s exceeded all our expectations time after time. As far as I’m concerned, she never got beat without a really good reason, not necessarily an excuse, but there was always an answer for why it didn’t work out and a couple were that she just plain old made a break. It’s probably a once in a lifetime go.” While the answers were there each time Shartin tasted defeat, she rarely needed them. Shartin went 19-for-24 last year and took a mark of 1:48.2 in Lexington. She wrapped up her season with a win in the $175,000 TVG Mares Series Final November 24 at the Meadowlands. Shartin made her first qualifying start this year February 13 at Dover Downs, winning in 1:56. She returned eight days later to qualify again in 1:52. “I don’t see where she’s any worse for the wear,” King said. “She qualified back really good. Easy enough the first time, just a good trainer. Then we went back and qualified her like you would expect for a horse like her do to, so that was good.” While Shartin came into the series last year with five races under her belt, Friday night’s start as the 7-5 morning line favorite in the ninth race, the $40,000 fifth and final division of the Matchmaker first leg, will be her seasonal debut. King couldn’t get a race into Shartin without shipping her north, so he opted to stay home in Delaware and wait. King thinks going into the series with a fresh horse is an advantage. “We really couldn’t get her started without sending her to New York and that’s a pretty good trip. I’d be satisfied if we get six starts up there, or even five,” he said. “She’s ready. She always gets back ready when I had time in between. I didn’t go into a race three weeks out that I felt, ‘man I wish I had a race in her.’ She’s always been OK, but not off this long a break, but I feel pretty good about it. “I do think you’re better off going in fresh because it’s such a long, grueling series,” King continued. “We leave home nine hours before a race. That’s a big deal to do that week after week after week. She’s always held up to that kind of stuff. (Bettor Joy) I feel is really competitive also, I just don’t know if she’s that stout, I don’t know if she can stand it week after week, but we’re here to find out. Where they come from, they don’t race regularly like that, but they do ship around.” Like Shartin, Bettor Joy is a New Zealand-bred mare imported to the United States by owner and managing partner Rich Poillucci. A new face in the series this year, Bettor Joy was a two-time Group 2 winner back home and won another two listed stakes.  “Rich Poillucci, he does all the legwork, he does the homework, he finds these horses, he watches the horses that they race with,” King said. “We’ve got some pretty good connections over there now to go over them and give us their opinions on them. It’s a big team effort and we’ve got a pretty good team.”  Bettor Joy, a 5-year-old mare by Bettor’s Delight out of the Road Machine mare Joyfulbelle, completed her final start in New Zealand November 16 and made her first stateside qualifying appearance January 23 at Dover Downs. She finished fourth in her first pari-mutuel start January 30, but returned a winner from post seven in the $27,500 Filly and Mare Open February 27. “She was good enough we made all the payments on her. She’s quick, she’s handy,” King said. “She did what we expected. Dexter Dunn raced her (in New Zealand) and he said that she was all that, she was a really good horse. Her first start was just OK. They went pretty good and we just weren’t up to that kind of mile. Then we got her back in and she was ready to go.” Although they are both New Zealand-bred and are both talented, Shartin and Bettor Joy have distinct personalities on the racetrack. “Entirely different horse than Shartin; she’s just a bull and (Bettor Joy), she’s a lady. She’s a good girl,” King said. “She’s very drivable. You can leave with her, you can take her off, she can step around horses. Shartin, when you get her cranked up she’s ready to roll. You don’t want to be changing course in the middle of a straight, that’s for sure. Bettor Joy’s a lot more professional in that aspect. She lets the driver be a lot more part of the game there.” Bettor Joy will make her Yonkers debut in the sixth race, the $40,000 second division of the Matchmaker first leg, as a 9-5 morning line choice. Her start will come one race after Newborn Sassy kicks off King’s chances in the series at 9-2 in the first division. Perhaps overshadowed by her New Zealand-bred counterparts, Newborn Sassy placed in two preliminary legs of the Matchmaker Series last year before winning a $40,000 consolation shortly before Shartin captured the final. The 6-year-old Western Ideal daughter went 9-for-36 last year and made $289,290, boosting her career tally to $1,036,455. Newborn Sassy “She’s a good girl. She can’t do what the other two can do, but she’s a half-mile track specialist,” King said. “Last year we came up with just one (win in the series), the other starts went wrong. They had just taken out the passing lane, we got locked in a couple times in the two hole and just didn’t work out for her, but still ended up OK. She came back real good, she can do her job good enough.” Tim Tetrick will drive all of King’s starters in the series Friday night. The driver purchased an ownership interest in all three mares, a move that gave King confidence. “Timmy thought enough of them that he decided he’d like to own part of them. I think that’s saying something because that puts him in a position where he doesn’t have any choice, he has to go with them,” King joked. “All those girls, I think they’ll all go out and do their job even if they don’t all come home a winner. If they do their job and we come back and do it again next week, I’m really going to be happy with them,” King said. “We’ve got a good team and that’s what it takes.” Friday night’s card features five divisions of the Matchmaker Series First Leg while the George Morton Levy Series kicks off with six splits Saturday, March 16.  Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY  

Harness racing's top-ranked horses, No. 1 McWicked and No. 2 Shartin N, head to their respective TVG Series championships Saturday at The Meadowlands Racetrack looking to bolster their Horse of the Year credentials while closing out historic seasons. The Meadowlands hosts four TVG Series finals Saturday, with events also for male and female trotters, and four stakes races for 2-year-olds - the Governor's Cup for colt and gelding pacers, Valley Victory for colt and gelding trotters, Three Diamonds for filly pacers, and Goldsmith Maid for filly trotters. McWicked faces six foes in the $350,000 TVG Series final for male pacers. He starts from post one with Brian Sears driving for trainer Casie Coleman. Shartin N meets seven rivals in the $175,000 TVG Series final for female pacers. She also starts from post one, with Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Jim King Jr. Shartin N, who has won 18 of 23 races this year, has already set the record for single-season earnings by an older female pacer, with $968,361, and is attempting to become the first pacing mare to reach $1 million. The New Zealand-bred 5-year-old is owned by Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. McWicked has won 11 of 18 races and earned $1.40 million in 2018. The 7-year-old stallion leads all horses in North America in purses and will be the first horse older than the age of 5 to finish atop the annual money standings since 7-year-old trotter Savoir in 1975. He is owned by Ed James' S S G Stables. Last week, McWicked won the five-horse preferred handicap at The Meadowlands by 2-1/4 lengths over Filibuster Hanover in 1:47.3. He brings a four-race win streak to his TVG final. "I couldn't be any happier," Coleman said. "He was off for three weeks and when we drew the five hole in a five-horse field I expected they would go slow fractions trying to get away on him late. When they hit the half in :53.4 I was pretty happy. I wasn't expecting that fast a mile out of him, but he did it real easy. "He came out of it really good. He was feeling good the next day. Everything seems good. Hopefully we can have a little bit of luck with him on Saturday." McWicked, who was a Dan Patch Award-winner at the age of 3, counts the Breeders Crown Open Pace, Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, Canadian Pacing Derby, Dan Rooney Invitational, and Allerage Open Pace among his wins this year. Two fourth-place finishes are his only off-the-board results in his 18 starts. If he were named Horse of the Year, McWicked would be the oldest pacer to ever receive the honor. "To think he was going to do what he did this year would be impossible," Coleman said. "I felt confident he would have a big season, but he's made almost $1.5 million and barely missed the top three. In the starts he got beat, he only got beat from the way the trip went. I've never seen anybody as consistent as he's been week in and week out. "It's not like he has easy miles and he's been at the top of his game since the time he started the season. The horse is 7 years old and racing against the best of the best in the open (class) every week. It's fun every time he goes to the gate. As long as he's healthy and sound we're definitely planning to race him next year." Shartin N prepped for her TVG final with a 1:52.2 win in a qualifier Nov. 14 at Dover Downs. She last raced Oct. 27, winning the Breeders Crown Mare Pace. She also brings a four-race win streak to her TVG event. "She qualified really good the other day, very pleasing," King said. "She doesn't seem to mind the time between races. I think she's OK." In addition to the Breeders Crown, Shartin N's victories this year include the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship, Roses Are Red, Lady Liberty, Artiscape, Betsy Ross Invitational, Chip Noble Memorial, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. If she were named Horse of the Year, Shartin N would be the first pacing mare to ever receive the honor. "I think that's a pretty tall order; McWicked is so sharp right now," King said. "A few weeks ago, I thought it was going to be all about (3-year-old trotting filly) Atlanta, but people have short memories. It's really something just to be even considered, to be in the running. She's gone all year since the Matchmaker (beginning in March) and she hasn't missed yet where she didn't have an excuse or real good reason. Every time she didn't win, something went wrong. "There are so few things through the year that didn't make me smile. It's just a thrill to be around one like her and to think you were a part of it. I'd really love to get over that million-dollar mark; that would be something. You never want to see a year like this end, but she's had quite a year. She's just a horse of a different color. She's pretty damn special." For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. First-race post time is 7:15 p.m. (EST). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Will Shartin be crowned the USTA Horse of the Year? Following her victory in the $270,00 Breeders Crown Open Mares Pace at Pocono Downs last weekend, the New Zealand bred mare has clearly established herself as the best pacing mare in the world. It is the first time a ‘down under’ performer has won a Breeders Crown Final. Other feature race victories include the $373,000 Matchmaker at Yonkers, $150,000 Betsy Ross at Harrah’s, $102,200 Sam ‘Chip’ Noble Memorial at Miami Valley, Ohio, $370,000 Roses are Red at Mohawk, $197,400 Lady Liberty at Meadowlands and the $98,500 Allerage Farms Mare Pace at The Red Mile. Overall, Shartin has won 18 of her 23 starts in North America this season for trainer Jim King Jr. and owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. And with earnings currently sitting at $968,361 – she has surpassed the previous record of Dreamfair Eternal's seasonal earnings record for a pacing mare of $925,575 set in 2010 as well as moving nearer the million-dollar mark. Her next assignment will come in the $175,000 TVG Mares FFA at Meadowlands on November 24. Given the fact that Atlanta, a winner of the Hambletonian against the colts and geldings earlier this year, was beaten in her Breeders Crown Final only strengthens the claims of Shartin taking the top gong. The Tintin In America mare was developed by astute Victorian based horseman Dean Braun and won 7 of her 13 starts including both the Queensland and Tasmanian Oaks. And it was great to see Braun part of the celebrations trackside last weekend. “That was something else to be trackside to watch her achieve something that has never been done before, a horse to come from the southern hemisphere and win a Breeders Crown plus all of the other features she’s claimed is truly remarkable,” Braun said. “It was super to finally meet Richard and the King’s after countless phone-calls during the journey, they’ve done an unbelievable job with her and I wish them continued success. The scary part is I think she is far from finished and the team behind her believes that too.” He added. Only recently, Braun sold Duplicated to Poillucci and he has entered the stables of Team King. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding qualified recently at Harrah’s Chester in Philadelphia winning in a time of 1:56.2 Duplicated is scheduled to make his North American debut later this week.   by Chris Barsby

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Shartin N, aggressively driven by Tim Tetrick, won the $270,000 Breeders Crown Mares Pace Final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun on Oct. 27. The time for the mile was 1:52 over the "sloppy" track. Supplemented to the race, the New Zealand-bred five-year-old mare Shartin N, by Tintin In America--Bagdarin, flew from the wings of the gate and denied the lead from a quick-leaving Twinkle. Call Me Queen Be took a spot in third on the inside while outside-launching Caviart Ally got the fourth spot. Shartin N cut the first quarter in :26.1 as Twinkle drafted behind her. Heading for a :54.3 half, Lakeisha Hall made a bid that brought her close to the leader, but she could not get farther from there. Caviart Ally took a shot three-wide, chasing Shartin N in a brisk 1:23 three-quarters. Twinkle was stuffed on the inside and Pure Country began to make an impression closing as Caviart Ally pushed Shartin N to her limit. This was enough to get over the finish line first in 1:52. Pure Country made it into the show spot behind Caviart Ally. Jim King Jr. trains Shartin N for owners Richard Pollucci and Jo Ann Looney. She paid $3.00, $2.20, and $2.10. by Frank Cotolo, For The Breeders Crown      

A pacing mare has never won a million dollars in a single season, but that could change in the coming weeks thanks to Shartin N. The 5-year-old Shartin N has won 17 of 22 races this season and earned $833,361. She races Saturday (Oct. 27) in the $270,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and could surpass Dreamfair Eternal's seasonal earnings record for a pacing mare of $925,575 set in 2010 as well as move nearer the million-dollar mark. All 12 Breeders Crown championships, with $6.4 million in total purses, will be raced Saturday at Pocono. Post time is 5:30 p.m. (EDT) for the first race. Shartin N, who won her Breeders Crown elimination last weekend by a length over Twinkle in 1:52, starts the final from post two with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Jim King Jr. and owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. "She's definitely all that," King said about Shartin N, who was supplemented to the Breeders Crown for $31,250. "She's had one hellish year. She has the opportunity to win a million this year, which I think is a pretty good feat for an older mare. "To start out the year with the Matchmaker (Series in March) and still be going and looking and feeling as good as she does, she's the one that gets the credit, not me. I'm just along for the ride. Geez, I hate the year to end." King believed Shartin N would be a nice racehorse after watching her win four of five starts prior to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers, but knew there was work to be done in terms of dealing with the mare's demeanor. "I knew she had talent when we were racing her at home, but she was very hard to get along with then," King said. "It took us right to the Matchmaker final to really get to where we felt we understood her. From there it's been pretty much a good go. We made a few adjustments and she seems to thrive on work. "It's so impressive just how she can do it the way she does it. She doesn't have to have things go perfect for her, which is a good thing because it's not always easy to get her to do what you want. But she just overcomes everything and keeps going. She's a good horse. Whenever anything is wrong, she does what good horses do -- she takes it with her. She doesn't lay around and complain about it. She gets up and goes to work." King and his wife have a second horse in the Mare Pace, Newborn Sassy, who finished third behind Call Me Queen Be and Pure Country in her elimination. "She had the rail so I was pretty sure that was going to be to her benefit," Looney-King said. "I was hoping that she would sneak in and get fourth. Even better, we were third. I think it will be tough for her to beat these mares, but we're going to give it a go. It's just been a great year. I don't know why I deserve it, but I'm taking it." The 5-year-old Newborn Sassy was a Grand Circuit winner at ages 2 and 3, even winning a Breeders Crown elimination at 3 before finishing sixth in the final, but was not staked the past two seasons. "She wasn't staked last year or at all this year," Looney-King said. "We just decided to put her in the Breeders Crown this year. Her gig has been Yonkers in the mares open and it's been a good gig. Those checks are nice. She was just so consistent, man, she paid some bills." And she does so while making life easy. "It's such a great thing to have a horse like her," Looney-King added. "She's easy going, she just falls in line. She is the perfect horse, she really is. She's good to take care of, good to jog, good to drive -- just everything. She doesn't do anything wrong." Pure Country and Call Me Queen Be are both previous Breeders Crown champions and Pure Country is chasing history of her own. Pure Country is attempting to become just the fourth pacer to win three Breeders Crown titles. Jenna's Beach Boy, Eternal Camnation and My Little Dragon have also hit the trifecta. Pure Country won as a 2- and 4-year-old and is attempting to become the first repeat winner since Shelliscape in 2013-14. Owned by Diamond Creek Racing and driven by Yannick Gingras, Pure Country was sixth in the stretch in last week's elimination before rallying for second. "She closed," trainer Jimmy Takter said. "She ended up behind a horse that was in the way a little bit. When you have bad cover, second over is a bad spot here. I'd rather be first up. But she always closes that last sixteenth like a demon. She raced good." Pure Country, a three-time Dan Patch Award-winner, has a win, two seconds and two thirds in her past five starts. She was winless in her first eight races of the year but hit the board four times. "She started a little bad, but she's been racing good the last couple months of the year," Takter said. "She will be a contender in the final. It wouldn't shock me. I would not rule her out." Call Me Queen Be didn't do much wrong in her Mare Pace elimination, as Eric Carlson drove her to victory in 1:50.3 while negotiating a sloppy track. "She was tremendous," trainer Ross Croghan said. "She was extremely good last week here at this track, the best start I've seen in a long time. We didn't intend to come here until her performance last week and we changed our mind and took a shot. We drew the eight hole (for the elimination), but she's got such tactical speed that she got to the top easy and cut out a nice even mile. She was impressive." Owned by Let It Ride Stables and Dana Parham, the 5-year-old -- who won a Breeders Crown at age 3 -- seems to be one of those horses that doesn't mind the thermometer dropping in late October. "I was never a believer that weather had anything to do with it, but I'm starting to change my mind," Croghan said. "I think she might like the cooler weather a lot better. The last six weeks she's been surprising because she did struggle through the summer. The last six weeks she's picked it up and (Saturday) she was even better. The colder it gets, the faster she goes. Let's hope for cold weather." Croghan has a second horse in the final as Twinkle sat in the pocket and then came up the inside to finish a length behind Shartin N in her elimination. The horse was coming off some health issues, but improved after 10 days off. "I thought she would race good (Saturday)," Croghan said. "It was her first start in four weeks. I think (this) week she will be even better. I've always been very high on that filly. She's got great speed. She's a very talented filly. She has issues on and off, but when she's good, she's good." Another horse trying to finish strong after some tough times is Blue Moon Stride, which finished fourth in her elim. "I was very, very happy," trainer Mark Harder said. "Six weeks ago, we were struggling a little bit. She had a couple really bad races. I thought she might not get back to this level again. But her last race at Lexington and then (Saturday) I think she's coming into the final just about spot on. She paced right through the wire, very strong." Harder felt one of the biggest issues he had was working Blue Moon Stride too hard to get through her tie-up issues. He noted that when he backed off, it freshened the horse up. "Luckily I didn't completely mess her up," he said. In discussing the division, Harder said, "There are a bunch of them that take their turns. It's a tough, even group. You've got to be on your 'A' game to win. Shartin has been the 'A' one for a while, but Moon and Pure Country, Caviart Ally -- they're an even group. Maybe not Shartin right now, she's the standout." Following is the draw for the $270,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace. Elimination winners drew for post one through five in an order determined by lot. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Twinkle-Scott Zeron-Ross Croghan 2-Shartin N-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr. 3-Call Me Queen Be-Eric Carlson-Ross Croghan 4-Lakeisha Hall-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke 5-Pure Country-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter 6-Carol's Z Tam-Brian Sears-Jamie Macomber 7-Newborn Sassy-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr. 8-Blue Moon Stride-Corey Callahan-Mark Harder 9-Caviart Ally-Andrew McCarthy-Noel Daley by Rich Fisher, for the Breeders Crown  

CHESTER, PA - At Harrah's Philadelphia, "Trix" isn't for kids - but she might be for the Open mares class soon, as the Bettor's Delight mare Bettor Trix N remained undefeated in four North American starts after a 1:53.2 triumph in the $17,000 distaff featured pace Wednesday. Driver Tim Tetrick, a three-time winner on the day, sent Bettor Trix N to the lead just past the 27.4 quarter, then got a rest of 57.2 to the half before the sophomore miss Mink Pink ranged alongside to challenge. Mink Pink got by Bettor Trix N before the 1:24.3 3/4s, but Tetrick kept the Kiwi import's mind on her game, and she rallied in the stretch to catch Mink Pink for a 1½ length victory. Tetrick, trainer Jim King Jr., and owners Donna Pollucci and Jo Ann Looney King do know a thing or two about imported New Zealand mares, as they are all part of Team Shartin N as well. There were three $16,000 co-featured events on the card - one for male pacers, and two for trotters. In the pace, Macadoodledoo, who has been performing well against stakes company, quarter-moved to command and posted a 1:52.4 victory for driver George Napolitano Jr. (coming off 15 wins in four cards at Pocono), trainer Mark Silva, and owner Jeffrey Snyder. He's Electric was second behind the winning son of Somebeachsomewhere, two lengths back; another neck behind was Talbotcreekwhiskey, who is in a Breeders Crown elimination in the 3PC category on Saturday. Talbotcreekwhiskey's shedrow neighbor in the barn of trainer Luc Blais, the Cantab Hall filly Ex Hanover, had more success over the Philly oval, taking the first division of the trot co-feature while lowering her mark to 1:55.3. Daniel Dube had to go first-over with the sophomore, but she was determined in the stretch and defeated Armageddon Seelster by a half-length for the Determination ownership entity. In the second trot, the Muscle Massive three-year-old gelding Meadowbranch Ricky made the lead at the quarter for driver Tony Morgan, then withstood a long first-over bid from Fashion Forever to be a 2¼ length winner, lowering his lifetime mark by a fifth by hitting the wire in 1:54.3. Jenny Melander conditions the winenr for owner Hans Enggren. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

LEXINGTON, KY--Advancing uncovered into quick fractions set by pacesetter Caviart Ally, Shartin N powered to the front into the stretch and finished under wraps to take the $98,500 Fear The Dragon Allerage Farms Mare Pace, sponsored by Midland Acres, on Sunday, Oct. 7 at The Red Mile. Caviart Ally left for the top with Pure Country tucking into the pocket ahead of Inverse Hanover yielding for third. Past the quarter in :26.3, Caviart Ally continued unchallenged to the half in :54.3 while Shartin N, positioned fifth, began her charge first over. Matching strides past three-quarters in 1:21.3, Shartin N edged past Caviart Ally into the stretch and maintained a length advantage to the line while Caviart Ally gave pursuit to hold second. Pure Country finished third ahead of Blue Moon Stride rallying from last for fourth. "She's got big lungs," driver Tim Tetrick said after the race. "We got her off the gate good today but then going into the backside she kind of jammed up and I had to move her. She's used to sitting on the outside so I wasn't too worried especially when I could head Andrew's mare [Caviart Ally]; I knew my mare was going to give me a good run." Winning her 16th race in 21 starts since shipping from New Zealand and her 23rd from 34 overall, Shartin N has earned $623,978 for owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. Jim King Jr. conditions the five-year-old mare by Tintin In America and paid $4.80 to win. By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

After a long and successful stint in the rough and rugged Filly and Mare Open class at Yonkers Raceway, the sport's newest millionaire, Newborn Sassy, has her eyes set on one of the sport's biggest harness racing 'crowns'. She surpassed the million dollar mark in career earnings earlier in the month when she picked up her 32nd career triumph for owners CC Racing LLC and Jo Ann Looney-King. "We call her our overachiever", Looney-King said. "When I watch her race on Friday nights, I can hardly believe that the long legged filly we bought as a yearling has become the darling of the mares open at Yonkers." Bred by Winbak Farm, Newborn Sassy (Western Ideal-Sass Newton) was purchased by her current owners for $38,000 at the Lexington Select Yearling Sale. Normally staying in the $15 - $20,000 range for yearlings, Team King extended their budget a bit to bring Sassy aboard. "We really liked her family," Looney-King said. "She was long legged and otherwise fairly average looking, but we were crazy about the family." She proved her worth right from the start, as she reeled off 8 straight wins in her freshman season, which included the prestigious Matron Stakes at Dover. Team King was thrilled with her performances, but were anxious to get her stronger and sounder for her 3-year-old season. "When she came back as a 3-year-old, she was still a shrinking violet," said Looney-KIng. "She still had the same 'Why do you think she looks like that' jogging issue." After a series of near-misses to begin her sophomore season, she finally hit the winner's circle in an elimination of the James Lynch at Pocono. She went on to enjoy a solid stakes season, including wins in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes event, the Adioo Volo, The Lady Maud, The John Simpson, and a Breeders Crown elimination win to cap off her sophomore campaign. "There were times where she raced in some of the major stakes and we felt that maybe we were playing ball in the wrong park," said Looney-King. "But she always came through no matter what. Making money, paying bills, and doing her job." Since the start of her 4-year-old season until now, she has mainly faced open female foes. She has won 15 times against open horses since mid-May of 2017. Although her performances on the track speak for themselves, her pre-race score downs leave a little to be desired. "Sassy has a very sloppy way of scoring down," said Looney-King. "We always tell the drivers 'you won't like her scoring down but you'll love her in the race'. I think all the drivers respect Miss Sassy. Every 2.5 times she goes to the track, she comes home a winner." Back on the farm, Newborn Sassy has the luxury of having the same caretaker since she was 2-years old. Kate Moore has been with team King for 15 years. "Kate is the best but she has spoiled Sassy to death," Looney-King jokes. "Sassy's stall is right by the wash stall so she watches all the action going on. She has her head over the gate all day begging for carrots. She is so kind and wonderful to be around." As for what's ahead for Team King's talented mare, it looks like another race season is in the works, but Looney-King insists the horse will call the shots. They are in no hurry to change her status to a broodmare. "It's been one helluva Sassy year," Looney-King said. "And as we know, Newborn Sassys are hard to come by." By Mike Bozich for Post Time with Mike and Mike  

Chester, PA --- Cutting back to a flat mile after a failed three-wide push in the ten-furlong Great Northeast Series final on Sept. 2, Shartin N ($3.80) reasserted herself as one of the top harness racing pacing mares in the continent with an easy 1:51.2 score over sloppy going in Sunday's (Sept. 23) featured $25,000 winners-over distaff at Harrah's Philadelphia.   Despite being assigned the outside post 7, the 5-year-old daughter of Tintin In America had no trouble getting involved from the start, floating into third on the first turn under Tim Tetrick handling before brushing clear of Bettorhaveanother (Tony Morgan) just beyond a :27.4 first quarter. Shartin N continued on to control middle splits of :56.1 and 1:23.3 before accelerating away from first-over challenger Delishka N (Art Stafford Jr.) off the home turn.   In the end, Shartin N worked 3-3/4 lengths clear of her six foes in earning her 22nd career tally. Bettorhaveanother dug in from the pocket to hold second over Delishka N.   Shartin N, whose wins in the Betsy Ross, Roses Are Red, Lady Liberty and Artiscape are among the highlights of her illustrious 2018 campaign, is trained by Jim King Jr. for owners Richard Poillucci and JoAnn Looney-King.   Multiple players correctly selected the top five finishers in the fifth-race Jackpot Hi-5, resulting in a $2,027.19 carryover to Wednesday's (Sept. 26) program. The 20-cent wager occurs in the fifth race on each card at Harrah's Philadelphia.   Post time Wednesday is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia

HARRINGTON, DE - Q's Cruise ($4.80, Ross Wolfenden) captured the Monday harness racing feature at Harrington Raceway with a 1:51:3 triumph in an $11,000 Open II for pacers. Owned by Jo Ann Looney-King, it was the second win of the season for the 4-year-old Yankee Cruiser gelding. "Cruise" set all the fractions from post position three and held off a fierce charge from Hi Sir for the win, the 11th in his career for trainer Jim King Jr. Trainer Clyde Francis teamed with driver Montrell Teague and owner George Teague Jr. with three wins on the card as GWT ($3.40), Transitioning Joy ($4) and Daiymir ($2.20) were all victorious as popular public betting choices. Live racing continues on a Monday through Wednesday schedule until October 24. by Matt Sparacino, for Harrington Raceway    

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 7, 2018-As was written seven short nights ago, Newborn Sassy (Jordan Stratton, $6.10) is just better these right now. She proved it again Friday night (Sept. 7th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace while becoming the sport's newest millionairess. Not even an assigned eight-bole hindrance could deter her appointed rounds here. Strung out early by Medusa (Brian Sears). Newborn Sassy made the lead before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. After a rated :29.1 next station (:56.3 intermission), 6-5 favorite Magic Forces (George Brennan) tried it first-up from fifth. However, a :27.4 third quarter (1:24.2) dismissed that one as Newborn Sassy owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. Medusa edged out, but wasn't close to reaching, the final margin a length in 1:52. Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett), Angel's Pride (Brent Holland) and Lispatty (Mark MacDonald) settled for the minors. Magic Forces retreated to seventh. For second choice Newborn Sassy, a 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal owned by CC Racing & Joann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her ninth win in 27 seasonal starts (fifth in last seven tries, career 32-for-76, earnings $1,007,445). The exacta paid $21.80, the triple returned $99 and the superfecta paid $470. "She can race either way," Stratton said. "This week, some of the better mares she's been facing weren't here, but she beat a good group and the eight-hole is never an easy job." Walkover race makes news on Yahoo.sports The story of Windsun Magnolia has apparently found its way into the nation’s consciousness…to some degree. The good folks at Yahoo sports wrote about the WCBS-TV (Ch. 2) feature (see below) regarding her Yonkers Raceway walkover/maiden-breaking win, certifiably extending her 15 minutes of fame.     Yahoo’s story can be view here… https://sports.yahoo.com/winless-racehorse-gets-first-ever-win-one-horse-race-164400666.html?hl=1&noRedirect=1 by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 31, 2018-Favored Newborn Sassy (Jordan Stratton, $4.10) is just better than these right now. She proved it again Friday night (Aug. 31st), handily winning Yonkers Raceway's last-of-the-month $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. She now is less than $15,000 from becoming a millionairess.  Remanded outside her six rivals, Newborn Sassy was caught wide early, eventually settling in fourth. While this was transpiring, Lispatty (Mark MacDonald) worked around Frost Damage Blues (Brian Sears) before a :26.4 opening quarter-mile. After a :56.1 intermission, 'Sassy" was moving again, engaging Lispatty in and out of a 1:24.1 three-quarters. She finished off that foe early in the lane, then widened. Frost Damage Blues did slip out behind the eventual winner, with she and a bottled-up-till-late Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) cosmetically closing the margin. Newborn Sass defeated Frost Damage Blues by a length-and-three-quarters in 1:53.1, with Mach it a Par, Lispatty and Angel's Pride (George Brennan) settling for the remainder. For Newborn Sassy, a 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal owned by CC Racing & Joann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her eighth win in 26 seasonal starts (fourth in last six tries, career earnings over $985,000). The exacta paid $18.40, the triple returned $69.50 and the superfecta paid $175. Saturday night (Sept. 1st) is Triple Crown Night, with the Raceway offering the $500,000 Yonkers Trot and $500,000 Messenger Stakes, along with companion events, the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot & $112,904 Lady Maud Pace. There's a gimmick Trot/Messenger Double (races 6 and 7) as well. First post the dozen-race card is the usual evening 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 17, 2018-Newborn Sassy (Jordan Stratton, $14.60) rolled over favored Tequila Monday (Eric Goodell) late Friday night (Aug. 17th), winning Yonkers Raceway's moist $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Neither lass was visible to the naked eye early as Caviart Cherie (Mark MacDonald) led through a :26.3 opening quarter-mile. Magic Forces (George Brennan), perturbed in the pocket, took over before a :55.1 intermission. Vorst (Brent Holland) slipped out from third, but she wasn't the problem as Magic Forces maintained her lead in and out of a 1:23.1 three-quarters. Wide came 6-5 choice Tequila Monday and even wider-from post position No. 7-was Newborn Sassy. Tequila Monday quickly opened a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but her rival was in hot pursuit. Newborn Sassy collared the people's preference in the final yards, edging away by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.3...a tick off her season's-best effort. It was about seventh lengths back to Magic Forces in third, with Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) and Vorst rounding out the payees. For third choice Newborn Sassy, a 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal owned by CC Racing & Joann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her seventh win in 24 seasonal starts (third in last four tries). The exacta paid $49.40, the triple returned $148.50 and the superfecta paid $1,187. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway 

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 3, 2018-Favored Newborn Sassy (Jordan Stratton, $4) rated her rivals into submission Friday night (Aug. 3rd), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Away alertly from assigned post position No. 5, Newborn Sassy worked around Caviart Cherie, making the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. She then pilfered a :29.2 second quarter (:57.1 intermission), effectively ending the melodrama. Agent Q (birthday boy [45] Eric Goodell) tried it first-up third from third, speeding up the sojourn but never getting close in and out of a 1:24.3 three-quarters. With that foe dispensed, Newborn Sassy opened a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane. She then beat the other ladies up, widening to 3¾ lengths at the 1:52.3 wire. Second went to Caviart Cherie, with a third-over Magic Forces (George Brennan) third. Bronze Over N (Dan Dube) and Made of Jewel AS (Joe Bongiorno) settled for the minors. For Newborn Sassy, a 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal owned by CC Racing & Joann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her sixth win in in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $16.20, the triple returned $122.50 and the superfecta paid $657. Note the Raceway shall open earlier (11:30 AM) for Saturday (Aug. 4th) simulcasting in advance of early post times from the Meadowlands (Hambletonian), the Meadows and Gulfstream. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

LAZARUS VS BIT OF A LEGEND

Christen Me N, Nike Franco N, Kept Under Wraps A, Anythingforlove A, Sky Major N, Lazarus N, among many other champions who raced in Australia and or New Zealand before making their way to North America. Aside from their gifts of gait speed and racing racing ability they also brought with them an incredible power,  they united two harness racing industries in two hemispheres. I am have been fortunate to see some of these now North American harness racing champions and sit along the rail to watch them race. I am always captivated by their racing ability. I have even had the chance to meet a few of them up and I am always a little star-struck when I do. I find it inspiring how people have been brought together because of these horses. I wonder if in adjusting to a new climate, new people and new routines if these champions realize how they have positively impacted the global harness racing industry? Personally, I have made new friends and made existing friendships stronger because of these champions. Here are my stories on some of the former  “Down Under” champions, racing in North America and the amazing friendships I made because of them. He was known as the “the Prince” when he faced Terror To Love, at tracks across his native New Zealand. Chances are you do not who I am talking about, unless you are involved in New Zealand racing or are like me and follow it. But, in the barn and with those that knew him best, he was “CC”. When the news broke that Christen Me N would be coming to race in the United States, I have to admit I was both thrilled and disappointed.  I have a soft spot for Christen Me N because he was the first New Zealand bred horse I took an interest in after I met his former driver Dexter Dunn in Ireland in 2016. I was thrilled because this meant I would have the opportunity to watch him race, but I also knew that he would be greatly missed by many in New Zealand. Then, I remembered that him coming to the North America meant friendships would be created and that was a good thing. He would be showcasing the very best of New Zealand racing talent, in the place some argue is the pinnacle of harness racing- the United States of America. Upon arrival in the United States, Christen Me N was placed in the care of Jim King Jr. and Joann Looney -King. I looked forward to the day that I would get to meet the famous “C.C”. One day in early summer of 2017, I got my opportunity because he was entered to race at what was at that time Mohawk Racetrack .That afternoon, I stopped by the farm where the King’s were stabling to see him in addition to some other horses they had racing in Ontario. As I arrived, Christen Me N was coming in from the paddock. He was so regal, standing there in the warmth of the sunshine while I admired him. I was at a loss for words and he looked like he knew what I was feeling. I got a little closer and he bowed his head, allowing me to stroke his face, and give him a kiss. Meeting him is an experience I will remember and cherish. That night he raced at what is now Woodbine- Mohawk Park, and of course I cheered. However, I was cheering him on for his fans in the southern hemisphere too. He unfortunately did not win that night, but just to be able watch him race live was a thrill for me.  When I posted the pictures from our visit and of him racing the following day; my social media buzzed. I received comments about how he was doing and how his race went and a few friend requests from people in New Zealand. The photos were also shared by people in New Zealand. Knowing that the small gesture of posting a few pictures meant a great deal to so many people warmed my heart. Next is my story of the horse who inspired this story- Nike Franco N. Nike Franco N is also is the care of Joann and Jim King Jr. I first met her on that same visit that I met ¨C.C” and she also raced on that same night. When she began racing in North America, a person by the name of Amanda Grieve was always tagged in many posts on Twitter (tweets) about Nike Franco N. So, after I met Nike Franco and posted the pictures of us, I decided to send her a message and find out she loved this mare. It turned that when Nike Franco N raced in Australia, Amanda was the caretaker for top mare and trained her for a period of time too.  Now Amanda and I talk every couple of weeks.Our friendship is all thanks to Nike Franco N. If it was not Nike Franco N being sold to American interests there is a very good chance that Amanda and I never would have met.  Earlier this season, when Nike Franco N raced in Canada in the Roses Are Red elimination and final, I video chatted with Amanda from the rail at Woodbine- Mohawk Park and I turned the camera so she could see the race, even though she lives on the other side of the world we were both cheering on Nike Franco N who she affectionately calls “Darling”.  It was truly a special opportunity for me and one I will cherish forever. In a recent conversation with Amanda,  she said something that tugged at my heartstrings and I felt was fitting for the sentiment of this very story. She said, “You get very attached to them. Especially working with them every day. And travelling with them too. Yes, I do miss her. But, I am still watching her race now.”  I can sympathize with how she feels, I would feel the same it was a horse I cared about. But, that is the great thing about social media. Nike Franco N may be across the Pacific [ocean], but the two of them are still connected through people in North America. Amanda is able to stay updated on Nike Franco N’s racing career and receive pictures is because of the friendships that Nike Franco N racing in North America has prompted. The horses that have crossed the Equator that I have also made friendships that I had before their move much stronger. Sired by Bettors Delight and foaled in 2011, Kept Under Wraps A was voted the two-year-old of the year for the state of Victoria. My friend Marcus Kirkwood owned a part of him, before Kept Under Wraps A was sold to North American interests.  I became friends with Marcus through Twitter, and when I went to Australia in February of 2017, we met in person. So, now that Kept Under Wraps A in racing in the United States, I periodically check the entries and results pages on the United States Trotting Association website to see how he is doing and then I send Marcus a message with an update. Anythingforlove A (spelled Anything For Love when racing in Australia) was bred by my friend Paul Humphreys. We became friends through social media and I also met him when I went to Australia in 2017.  When the horse had his first couple of starts in the United States, Paul and I messaged back and forth. I remember watching the race on my laptop. It was neat to be able to say “I know who bred that horse”. Anythingforlove gave us one more thing to talk about.  The story of how I got to meet Sky Major N is unique. My dad was talking with the trainer of Sky Major N, Duane Marfisi, and he it came up in conversation where he happened to be stabled, turns out we were at the same training center. When my dad told me I was elated. My filly, a future champion, was stabled steps away from a former New Zealand champion. Trevor Casey owns Sky Major N. I talk with his partner Kate Marriott often. I truly consider her a friend. During my visits with Sky Major N I gave him treats and kisses and my mom would take pictures. When I returned home I always sent Kate the pictures as soon as I could and told all about our visit.  Similarly, Trevor Casey also owned a share of the world-renowned champion, Lazarus N. Now that Lazarus N is in the United States being trained by Jimmy Takter, I send Kate all of the news and pictures I see of Lazarus. It always makes my day to send her updates of both of these champions. Every time the name of an overseas champion is printed in a North American [racing] program or their name graces a headline an “N” or an “A” is placed after their name to symbolize to everyone reading the program or the article they mentions them,  this horse is from Australia or New Zealand. I think of it as a symbol of pride.That extra letter also symbolizes the countless hours of care, hard work and dedication that the team of people looked after them in Australia or New Zealand put in that made them into the champion that now races in North America. I will forever be grateful for the friendships I have gained because of these horses. They have added so much joy to my life. I also look forward to creating many more friendships through these horses in the future. To everyone who has ever loved, taken care of, trained, owned or driven one of these now North American champions, thank you. Thank you for making these champions who they are. Without you they would not have broken the records they did, had the jaw-dropping victories they did. In addition, thank you for sharing your your champions with us here in North America. You will always be a part of who they are, no matter where in the world they race. To everyone in North America who has a horse who previously raced in Australia and New Zealand, know that these horses are extra special. I encourage you to find out who the connections were when the horse raced in Australia and or New Zealand and connect with them, if you have not already. I hope through these dual hemisphere champions you will make friendships like I have. These champions that have etched their names into greatness in both hemispheres make the big world seem a little smaller by bringing people together who are passionate about the same sport, but are oceans apart that is the power of these dual hemisphere champions. Sydney Weaver is 18 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, groom's horses, jogs them on the track, owns both a Standardbred and a Thoroughbred racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals. She will be attending Carleton University this fall in their Communications and Media Studies Honors Program. Footnote: Since I began writing this piece, Christen Me N, “C.C.” is no longer in the care of the Jim King Jr. and Joann Looney-King, he is now with other caring connections.

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