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Growing up together in southeastern Illinois, Jazmin Arnold and Alesha Binkley were inseparable during their summers off from school. "If you saw me, you saw her; if you saw her, you saw me," Arnold said, laughing. "We were together so much that we would take turns staying at each other's house," Binkley said. "Our parents were good friends and we ran around together at all the county fairs while they were racing. We would go to the carnivals, ride rides, go swimming, hang out all summer long. That way our parents didn't have to worry about us too much." After graduating from their respective high schools, Arnold and Binkley went their separate ways. But last year, the two friends, now both living in central Ohio, reunited on harness racing's amateur driving circuits. Arnold, in her first full season, won 23 of 59 races in 2019 and was named the National Amateur of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Binkley won eight of 38 races. On Saturday, the 25-year-olds both have multiple drives in the Great Lakes Amateur Driving Series at Northfield Park. The series, which began Dec. 7, concludes a week from Saturday. "We would have never thought when we were younger that we would be doing this," Arnold said. "I trained my first horse at 8 years old. She played a lot of sports. I played sports, too, but I was more into the horses. When her dad got her into the horses, she would jog a little bit, but she was never gung-ho about it like I was." Binkley, who played on high school and travel teams for softball, volleyball and basketball, agreed she had little interest in racing at that time. But after high school, she discovered she enjoyed going to the races and working around the horses. "I always kind of thought about driving," Binkley said, adding with a laugh, "I'm a professional sideline driver, I will say that. I critique everybody from the sidelines. So, I thought maybe I should try it myself." Binkley has worked for trainer Trent Stohler for six years. In 2018, Stohler encouraged Binkley to give driving a shot in the Ohio Ladies Pacing Series. Binkley won her debut and never looked back. Alesha Binkley "I was hooked," said Binkley, who won 10 of 20 starts her first year. "I was like, I want to do this all the time. I really love the adrenaline rush. A bunch of people say I'm so serious on the racetrack. At that point, I'm just trying to contain my excitement. I get so excited, I don't want to overdo it, overdrive, or drive bad. "Leaving the gate is probably my favorite thing. I just love flying out of the gate." Arnold was encouraged to begin driving by her boyfriend, trainer Adam Short, and given an additional boost from trainer Herman Hagerman. She was pleasantly surprised by her success. "I didn't expect it at all," said Arnold, who competed at 26 different tracks last year. "It was fun for me at first and then it became very competitive. Once I got kind of rolling, I had a goal and I just kept on going. It was tough, it was tiring, but it was worth every minute of it. "We'll see where it goes. It was a goal of mine to win an award for driving, but I never knew how it was going to go or when it would happen. I don't really have a plan for this year. I would like to succeed and go forward, but everybody would like to have everything." Arnold works with Short and also trains a 5-year-old female pacer, Knockout Queen, that she owns. Knockout Queen races Friday in the fillies-and-mares open handicap at Miami Valley Raceway. "I'm happy having one horse," Arnold said. "If I can have one and I can train her to my best ability and take care of her the best I can, that's enough." As close as Arnold and Binkley are as friends, they are equally competitive when it comes to facing each other on the racetrack. "We have to do what's best for us to win," Binkley said. "But if I get beat by her, I'm OK with it. Anyone else, and I'm kind of mad at myself." Said Arnold, "If I'm going to get beat by anybody, I'd rather get beat by her." On five occasions, Arnold and Binkley have finished 1-2 in races. Only a dead heat for win might be a more fitting outcome. Inseparable, again. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Derick Giwner and Melissa Keith were named winners of the 2019 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing journalism while Chris Gooden and Mark Hall were named recipients of the George Smallsreed Awards for photography and Woodbine Entertainment Group was selected winner of the Sam McKee Award for broadcasting, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Tuesday. The winners will be recognized at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 23 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla. Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the awards by providing banquet tickets for the winners. Giwner won in the news or commentary category for his column, "Rolling the sport into the future," which appeared in the Feb. 9 edition of DRF Harness Weekend. To read the piece, click here. It is Giwner's first Hervey Award. Keith won in the feature writing category for her two-part story on the death of Ron Graham that appeared in Harness Racing Update. The first part, "The tragic and mysterious death of a harness horseman," appeared April 14 and can be read here. The second part, "A wanderer with an incredible heart," appeared May 24 and can be read here. It is Keith's third Hervey Award and second in this category. Honorable mentions went to Mike Farrell (writing for the Hambletonian Society) and James Platz (Harness Racing Update) in news/commentary and to Platz, Brandon Valvo (writing for the Breeders Crown) and Gordon Waterstone (The Horseman and Fair World) in feature writing. The writing categories were judged by NTRA Director of Communications Alicia Hughes, Eclipse Award-winning writer Joe Nevills, and former Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn. In the Smallsreed competition, Gooden won in the race/action category for his photograph, "Noses on the Gate," which appeared online Feb. 19 on The Meadows Racing website. Gooden is a three-time Smallsreed winner. Chris Gooden Photo Hall won in the feature category for his photograph, "Shining Moment," that appeared on the cover of the July issue of Hoof Beats. It is Hall's seventh Smallsreed honor. Honorable mentions went to Clive Cohen (Woodbine Mohawk Park Facebook and Instagram) in race/action and to Michael Burns (Woodbine Mohawk Park website) and Dave Landry (Harness Racing Update) in feature. Judges for the photography categories were racetrack and newspaper photographer Bill Denver and former harness racing groom and longtime newspaper/magazine photographer Phil McAuliffe. In the McKee competition, Woodbine Entertainment Group broadcast department was honored for its story on French trotter Bold Eagle's appearance in the Breeders Crown, which aired Oct. 26 on the TSN4 television network. The producer was Phil McSween, director of photography was Gage Fletcher and David Syrie, and the editor was Jason Vanderzee. The win gave WEG its fourth award in the broadcast division. To watch the piece, click here. Honorable mention went to True Nature Communications Inc.'s feature on Trevor Ritchie for the Breeders Crown. Entries for the Sam McKee Award were judged by former longtime Thoroughbred Week host and co-producer John Henderson. For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit the U.S. Harness Writers Association's website. by Ken Weingartner, for the U.S. Harness Writers Association

East Rutherford, NJ - Six-year-old trotter Lindy The Great, who won last year's Caesars Trotting Classic and was second in the Allerage Farms Open Trot, brought the top price at Monday's (Jan. 20) Tattersalls Winter Mixed Sale at The Meadowlands, selling for $450,000, while 4-year-old pacer Escapetothebeach was No. 2 on the list, purchased for $250,000. Lindy The Great was acquired by an ownership group put together by trainer Rene Allard. The stallion, by Crazed out of Highscore Kemp, has won 14 of 47 career starts and $649,125. Other top wins include the 2016 Madison County and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes in 2017. He finished second in the 2017 Breeders Crown and third in the Kentucky Futurity. He was most recently trained by Domenico Cecere. "We're happy we got him, it's exciting," Allard said. "Those kinds of horses don't get offered at auctions too often. We're going to be looking forward to the season with him. "I think the horse is kind of coming into his own. He's lightly raced (and) trotters seem to do their best at ages 6, 7, 8. I think we bought him at the right time. He's a gorgeous horse, he's got some pedigree, and he's already shown he can win at a Grand Circuit level." Escapetothebeach, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Shelliscape, has won six of 35 career races and earned $289,571. He was purchased by trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. on behalf of owner Dana Parham. His career victories include the 2018 Kindergarten Classic Series championship. He was trained by Tony Alagna. "I liked the pedigree," Morgan said. "His miles at Yonkers were scary good; (1):51 there, that's a real mile. He raced against the best in the country last year and was competitive. He's a horse that Dana would like to race for a while. We'll sit down and get a game plan for him and map out a schedule. I would imagine the Graduate (Series) is part of that for the 4-year-olds and then we'll try to pick some other spots." Third on the best-sellers list was 4-year-old trotting mare Jezzys Legacy, who sold for $150,000 to agent Beachy Brothers on behalf of undisclosed owners. Jezzys Legacy, by Donato Hanover out of Jezzy, won six of 28 career starts and $164,923. She was trained by Ray Schnittker. "It's a great pedigree, a great family," agent Bobby Beachy said. "The gentlemen buying her want to breed her in Ohio. This group just wants this one (horse). They're excited about the program in Ohio, the money is getting better all the time. The breeders want to step it up." All three of the top sellers were consigned by Preferred Equine. A total of 128 horses and stallion shares sold for a gross of $5.27 million. Last year, a total of 150 horses and stallion shares sold for $4.39 million. For complete sales results, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Stephen Larkin owns only one racehorse, but when the horse is Atta Boy Dan, one is not such a lonely number. In fact, the number is quite common when looking at Atta Boy Dan's past performances, as in first-place finishes. Atta Boy Dan led all harness racing horses in the U.S. in wins last year with 19. He was named both the Claimer of the Year and Pacer of the Year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, becoming the first horse in recent memory to receive double honors in the same season. For his career, the now 11-year-old gelding, who was slowed by a coffin joint injury in 2017, has won 71 of 200 starts and is approaching $1 million in purses. "What he did last year was amazing," Larkin said. "The thing I love about him the most, he just gives his best every week. He's never had a bad week. He gets a lot of tough trips, but he's always trying down the stretch. He has great heart. He is a great horse." Larkin claimed Atta Boy Dan this past September for $40,000. It was the 14th consecutive start the horse was claimed. During that span, Atta Boy Dan won 11 times, was second twice and third once. "I've never seen a horse change barns that many times, at that age and that caliber, and win every week anyway," said Pete Pellegrino, who trains Atta Boy Dan for Larkin. "He's just an honest horse that loves to do it. He's just as tough as they come. He's an iron horse." Since acquiring Atta Boy Dan, his new connections have put him in conditioned races (some with an optional claiming tag) with the hopes of keeping him for as long as possible. He has raced 14 times for Pellegrino and Larkin, winning three times and earning a check 12 times on his way to $40,455. Atta Boy Dan, who has earned $959,452 lifetime, is entered Saturday in a conditioned race at The Meadowlands. He is 9-2 on the morning line with Corey Callahan in the sulky. "He's been hard luck the last bunch of weeks; first over, first over, first over," Pellegrino said. "Last week, he was first over at the half and they went (1):48.3 and he finished third. But he works right to the wire. You think he's done and in mid-stretch, here he comes again." Larkin, a Massachusetts resident who works as a corrections counselor for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, got his first horse in the mid-1990s. "My father owned horses a long time ago," Larkin said. "In 1995, I moved to New York (for work). I didn't know anyone, I didn't have any hobbies, and I ended up going to Monticello Raceway to pass some time. I ended up claiming some horses; that's how I met Pete." Larkin was attracted to Atta Boy Dan because of his back class. The gelding's top win came in 2015 in the Robert J. Kane Memorial at Batavia Downs and he finished second in that year's Gold Cup and Saucer on Prince Edward Island. Overall in 2015, he won 18 races and was named both the Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year at The Meadows while racing in the stable of trainer Ron Burke. "He speaks for himself," Pellegrino said. "What you see is what you get. He's just an unbelievable horse." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at The Meadowlands. For complete entries, click here.  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

Tom Pollack calls Endeavor one of his favorite horses and it is not difficult to understand why. The 7-year-old male harness racing pacer possesses a tough-guy attitude and never-give-in style. "I call him The Big Boy," said Pollack, who owns Endeavor with trainer Jeff Cullipher. "He's kind of a hard-hitting blue-collar lunch-pail-type horse. He's the big, strong, grinding type. He's had very few clunkers, he just gives his all every time." Endeavor has won 19 of 49 races and $419,905 in purses for Pollack and Cullipher since they purchased the son of American Ideal-Jett Diamond privately in May 2018. He rose through the conditioned ranks to compete on the Grand Circuit, winning last year's Potomac Pace to go with a second in the Harrah's Hoosier Park Pacing Derby and third in the Dan Patch Stakes. On Saturday, Endeavor races in the preferred at The Meadowlands. He won his seasonal debut on Jan. 4 at the Big M after finishing an outside-trip second in his 2019 finale. "He's been sharp, and you hate to shut him down," Pollack said. "We're giving him until he tells us (to stop) and then he'll have a month or two off before we get into the stakes season." Last year, Endeavor raced in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, now called the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, but is unlikely to head to Yonkers Raceway for this season's event. "We probably did him a disservice putting him in the Levy," Pollack said. "He's a bigger horse and runs in some in the turns. It's not that he can't get around Yonkers, he won a leg of the Levy, but that's not really the best place for him." Endeavor caught Pollack's eye two years ago when he won a preferred handicap at The Meadowlands. Four months later when the horse became available, he made the purchase. Endeavor was sent to Harrah's Hoosier Park and worked himself up the class ladder. After a seventh-place finish in his debut for his new connections, he won six of his next seven. That included a five-race win streak in which he won each start in 1:49.2 or faster. "Jeff did a great job with him," Pollack said. "(Endeavor) took a liking to Hoosier Park and our program. He went on a heck of a run. That's when we knew we were really on to something. Since then, he's been a top-class horse. Capping the year off winning the Potomac Pace was really cool. "We thought we were buying a nice conditioned racehorse. He just got super sharp and confident and was able to maintain that. It's been great. You love to have horses like him. He gives it his all every time out. There's no cheating in him, that's for sure." For his career, Endeavor has won 32 of 110 races and $673,937. Pollack said he expects Endeavor to have a limited Grand Circuit schedule similar to 2019, minus the series at Yonkers. "He's in the class," Pollack said. "He's probably still a little 1A-ish, but we're looking forward to this year. A lot of the free-for-allers retired so we're going to give him shots, especially on the five-eighths and the mile-track races. "We'll see how he does this year. We know that as age creeps in it gets tougher. But based on how he's racing now and how he raced at the end of last year he's still got tread on the tires for sure." Another of the Pollack-Cullipher duo's stakes-winners will be in action Friday at The Meadowlands. Wisdom Tree, a 5-year-old female pacer who was a 2018 New York Sire Stakes champion, is in a conditioned race for fillies and mares. She has won 18 of 49 races and $618,181 in her career. "We're probably getting ready to shut her down for a little bit," Cullipher said. "We won't be at every (stakes) dance, but we're going to try to hit our share." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Hightstown, NJ — Dexter Dunn wasted little time in making a name for himself in North America. In his first full season of harness racing competing in the U.S. and Canada, the 30-year-old New Zealand native won 460 races and more than $12 million in purses on his way to being named Driver of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. He ranked eighth in wins and third in earnings among all drivers on the continent. Among the highlights for Dunn were sitting behind Dan Patch Award-winning 3-year-old male pacer Bettor’s Wish and piloting Manchego to the fastest mile ever by a female trotter, 1:49 at Red Mile. Dunn will receive his award Feb. 23 at the Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla. “It was a massive thrill,” Dunn recently told Racing from the Meadowlands co-host Dave Little on the Big M’s In the Sulky broadcast. “It’s really a dream come true. I just had a great year with the horses I got to drive. The support I got was huge. It was a big thrill.” Dunn came to the U.S. during the summer of 2018 at the invitation of trainer Chris Ryder, a longtime family friend. A native of Christchurch, Dunn led New Zealand’s premiership in wins for 10 consecutive years from 2008 through 2017 and his 2,225 wins ranked fifth in history there. Upon his arrival stateside, Dunn picked up two wins on the 2018 Grand Circuit, with Ryder’s Stonebridge Soul in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes and trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman’s Southwind Avenger in the Valley Victory Stakes. Last year, he was a major player on the Grand Circuit, where his wins included Breeders Crown finals with Norman’s Amigo Volo and trainer Nancy Takter’s Manchego, as well as the Fan Hanover with trainer Tony Alagna’s Treacherous Reign. Counting restricted stakes, Dunn won 25 races worth at least $100,000 in 2019. “I got lucky,” Dunn said. “I got, obviously, great support from Chris Ryder and Nifty Norman when I got here. They gave me a chance early on and put me on some horses with ability and got me going. I guess it was a snowball effect from there. I picked up other ones and it sort of just ran on from there. It was a surprising season, I didn’t expect it whatsoever, but it was great and thoroughly enjoyable.” Bettor’s Wish was Dunn’s top horse, winning 13 of 19 races and never finishing worse than second on his way to leading harness racing in purses with $1.64 million. He colt won the Carl Milstein Memorial, Art Rooney Pace, Matron Stakes, a division of the Tattersalls Pace, and the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship. He finished second in the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Cane Pace, Messenger Stakes, Breeders Crown, and against older horses in the TVG Series Open Pace championship. The colt was named the sport’s best 3-year-old male pacer in Dan Patch Award voting and is a top contender for Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year, both of which will be announced at the awards banquet next month. “The horse is once-in-a-lifetime for someone like me to be able to drive,” Dunn said. “He had an unbelievable year. He’s just so tough and game. He had some pretty tough runs, but he bounced back week after week. I almost feel sorry for him. I think if I had drove him a bit smarter in some of those big races, he would have won them. But he was just awesome all year.” To watch Little’s complete In the Sulky interview with Dunn, which also covers topics such as his former rugby aspirations, win in the 2015 World Driving Championship, and the differences in racing in New Zealand and North America, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

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 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Tyler Buter is putting the finishing touches on a memorable harness racing season and looking forward to taking another step forward in 2020. The 34-year-old Buter has won a career-high $5.56 million in purses and driven in a career-high 34 races worth at least $100,000 this season. He also got the 3,000th win of his career in April. Among Buter's other triumphs this year were the $500,000 Messenger Stakes, the most lucrative victory of his career, with American Mercury and the $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series championship for trotters with Rich And Miserable. He was second in the Matron and third in the Little Brown Jug with American Mercury and second in the Art Rooney Pace with Branquinho. In addition, he drove in the Hambletonian eliminations, Breeders Crown, Kentucky Futurity, Adios, Three Diamonds, and Progress Pace. Buter was named the Driver of the Year in U.S. Trotting Association District 8, which covers most of upstate New York. Entering Thursday, he had won 324 races this year, marking the fourth time he topped 300 in a season, and the first time since 2009. "I'm definitely happy with the way the year went," said Buter, who resides in Middletown, N.Y. "I made the decision early in the year that I was going to drive more and train less. Judging by the numbers, it definitely paid off. "It was a lot of 'firsts' for me this year (on the Grand Circuit). Being in the big races, that's where I want to be. Not everybody wants to travel and follow those horses around, but that's what I like to do. I like driving the 2- and 3-year-olds; I think that's the most fun to me." Buter, though, did enjoy a good bit of fun this season with a 4-year-old, Rich And Miserable, trained by his father Todd. The gelding has won 11 of 21 races this year, highlighted by his head victory over Hannelore Hanover in the Great Northeast final, and earned $277,000. He races Saturday in a conditioned event at The Meadowlands. "He was a fun surprise this year," Buter said. "He was just OK as a 2- and 3-year-old but he matured a lot between 3 and 4 and he had a great year. "Unfortunately, he wasn't staked to anything, but it might have been a blessing in disguise. We'll point him toward a couple bigger races next year. We won't go crazy, but we'll give him a chance to race with the top names." Buter grew up in Manchester, Mich., and got his first win at the Gladwin, Mich., fair before his 17th birthday. After successful stints in both Michigan and Illinois, he relocated to the East Coast in 2010. Despite his many years in the sulky, Buter is still evolving as a driver. "That's the crazy thing, I've been driving horses full time for 15 years almost, and you're always learning," Buter said. "I try to go through every night and drive every horse good. I'm my own worst critic; I'm pretty hard on myself as far as making mistakes. "It's still hard to go a whole night and not make one mistake, and I've been doing it a long time. Being mistake-free is everyone's goal and it's something I strive for, trying to be perfect, if I can." Over the years, Buter has realized the need to put any miscues behind him as quickly as possible. "I used to let it carry over and get upset," Buter said. "You can't let it get to you. Five minutes later, you're going to be driving someone else's horse that put in seven days of hard work to get ready for this race and you've got to give your undivided attention to that horse and not be thinking about the one you just drove." As for 2020, Buter has no specific goals. "I just want to keep getting better," Buter said. "If I can have a little better year next year, that would be great. You never really want to take a step backwards in this business." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

After weathering what turned out to be an extended storm of injury issues that kept 2015 Horse of the Year Award winner Wiggle It Jiggleit sidelined for nearly three years, George Teague Jr. is looking forward to seeing his 7-year-old harness racing  pacer continue his comeback attempt in Thursday's $25,000 open at Dover Downs. Wiggle It Jiggle will be making his third start this year, but his first since Sept. 30. The gelding finished second in his 2019 debut at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio on Sept. 19 and third in the open handicap at Harrington Raceway. Since then, Wiggle It Jiggleit has won twice in qualifiers at Dover, the first in 1:55.1 with a final quarter of :29.3 and the second in 1:54.4 with a final quarter of :27.2. "He's doing good," said Teague, whose George Teague Jr. Inc. shares ownership of Wiggle It Jiggleit with the Teague Racing Partnership LLC. "He was tying up a little bit (leading to his recent time off) and when I got him off that, I qualified him, and he just didn't fire like I thought he should. It turned out his blood was a little off. "The last time I qualified him he seemed to be a lot more like himself. Not totally like he was in the past, but I still think it's just going to take a little while. I'm hoping he can come back to that status, or close to it. He's going to be fine. We'll see how it plays out." Wiggle It Jiggleit, trained by Clyde Francis, has won 38 of 53 career races and earned $3.91 million. His earnings rank sixth among pacers in North American harness racing history. "At any time, any horse can come up with injuries; unfortunately, he did," Teague said. "It didn't look that bad originally, but one thing turned into another, turned into another, which turned into three years. It is what it is. That was a perfect storm. But every storm blows over. "He still seems like the horse of old, he really does. He doesn't seem any less willing to go. Everything is there, we just have to put the speed back into him, and I don't expect that to come over night. He's sounder than he's ever been and looks great physically. We just have to put the work in and see if he can get a little stronger and a little faster." Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Thursday's open. Jim Morand will drive Wiggle It Jiggleit, subbing for Montrell Teague, who recently suffered a wrist injury that will keep him in a cast until after Christmas. George Teague Jr. is taking a race-by-race approach with Wiggle It Jiggleit but is hopeful the son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover can return to the Grand Circuit in 2020. "I still think it's a possibility," Teague said. "I'm not going to ruin his reputation by putting him in the box when it doesn't look like he should be in. I'm just trying to get a grip on how I think he'll come back and whether he gets back to close enough where I think I can invest a little bit of money in staking him. "I'm not making any definitive plans; I'm just hoping he tells me as we go along. It's tough to get back to where he needs to be without racing against competition. I can qualify, I can train, but none of it is like racing. When he makes it to a point where I think he's showed me enough one way or another, then I'll make my decision there." Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) Thursday at Dover. The open is race 12, with an 8:10 p.m. estimated post. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

The best of harness racing journalism in 2019 will be honored by the U.S. Harness Writers Association with the John Hervey Awards for writing, Sam McKee Award for broadcasting, and George Smallsreed Awards for photography. The deadline for entries is extended 24 hours, to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. Entries will be accepted for news/commentary writing, feature writing, broadcasting, race photography and feature photography. Entries published or broadcast between Dec. 1, 2018 and Nov. 30, 2019, are eligible. All entries must be in English. Judges in each category will select a winner and, where appropriate, up to two honorable mentions. There are no entry fees or cash prizes. Winners will be announced in January and will be recognized at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's annual Dan Patch Awards festivities Feb. 23 in Orlando. Winners will receive a plaque/trophy as well as two tickets to the Dan Patch Awards dinner. Photo and written submissions must have appeared in a paid-circulation publication or on the website that is the same-name affiliate of a paid-circulation publication, recognized broadcast news organization, or established industry/news website. Content that appeared on personal websites, message boards or lists, and similar entities is not valid for inclusion in the competition. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. Broadcast entries will be an accepted feature or live racing segment no longer than 10 minutes. The entry must have aired on a network television or cable station, recognized news and/or industry website, or have been included in a racetrack's simulcasting presentation. Documentaries or other long-form productions are not eligible although one segment of that documentary, edited only to fit the length limitations of no more than 10 minutes, may be submitted for consideration. The awards are not open to entries that are fiction, in the form of Q&As, or were prepared for commercial purposes (for advertisements/promo/publicity purposes). There is a limit of one submission per person per category. A person may enter more than one category, but not with the same submission. An entry may only be submitted in one category and the category must be indicated clearly. The Hervey Committee, at its discretion, may disqualify an entry at any time in the process, and reserves the right not to bestow an award in a particular category based on the quality and quantity of entries. All entries must originate with the author/photographer/producer and must include a signed cover letter expressing the wish to enter materials in the contest and granting permission for the materials to be used for promoting the awards in press releases. The letter must also include the following contact information for the writer/producer/photographer: name, full address, telephone numbers (home, office, cell) and email address. The letter must also include the date that the media organization published/aired the submission and specify the category for which the entry is being submitted. Editors may submit entries provided the cover letter includes contact information for the writer/producer/photographer as well as for the person submitting the entry. All other third-party entries will be rejected. Written entries must specify the category - news or feature - for consideration. All print entries must include a tear sheet of the entry (a PDF is acceptable) as it appeared in print and a plain text version with no identifying information (bylines, publication name, graphs, photos or other graphic elements). Broadcast entries must not exceed 10 minutes and must not contain commercials. Each submission (one per person or organization) should have a cover letter. Submissions can be in the form of a mailed DVD or provided via a file-sharing service. Photography entries must include a cover letter designating the category for the photo - race or feature - and a tear sheet of the published photo, showing the date, name of publication and photographer's name. Tear sheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a screen shot. Photographs should not be digitally enhanced beyond the basics needed to achieve realistic color balance and sharpness. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification. Photographs may be sent via email. If mailed, three prints of the entry must be provided. The decisions of the Hervey Committee and the judges are final. Email entries, or file shared for broadcast, should be sent to Ken Weingartner, chairman of the Hervey Committee, at by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA  

He's raced against some of the best horses in harness racing history, including Hall of Fame legends Somebeachsomewhere and Foiled Again, and he is still going strong at the age of 14. Anderlecht, a male pacer who got his first win at Woodbine in 2007, entered Wednesday with 18 victories this season, which is tied for third most in North America, only two fewer than leader Rusty's Flying. And the gelding is still capable of producing memorable moments, like in June when he gave driver Bruce Ranger the 9,000th victory of his career. For his own career, Anderlecht has won 82 races (with 32 different drivers) in 367 starts and earned $978,027 (C$1.03 million). He captured the 2010 Des Smith Classic at Rideau Carleton and a year earlier won the Cam Fella Pacing Series championship at Woodbine. His career-best time of 1:48 came at the age of 9, when he beat triple-millionaire All Bets Off in a conditioned race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Anderlecht will be pointed toward several more starts before mandatory retirement on Jan. 1, first at Scarborough Downs and then possibly at Monticello Raceway. "The old horse just feels good about himself," said Dennis Whittemore, who bought Anderlecht in May 2018 to race for his wife Diane. "He likes what he does, he loves his job, and when you put him on the racetrack, he knows what he's doing. If you put him in a position where he's got a shot at winning, he's going to come out on top most of the time." Whittemore, from Maine, was a fan of Anderlecht before buying him. He watched the horse race at Florida's Pompano Park, where Whittemore spent the winters, and thought the horse could be competitive in Maine. "I watched him race in Pompano and when he was good, he was super good," Whittemore said. "Just knowing I like to go to Maine in the summertime, if you take good old back class home, usually you do pretty good with it. He's just a class horse." First, though, Whittemore needed to help Anderlecht recover from a tendon sheath infection. Whittemore and his brother, Dana, who has trained the horse for most of his time in Maine, nursed the horse to health with eyes toward a healthy 2019. "Slowly but surely, he came around," Whittemore said. "My brother did a very good job with him. He took great care of him. He came back this year as a monster." Anderlecht has won 18 of 37 races this year and $37,878. He has raced at Scarborough and Bangor Raceway as well as the Maine fairs. "He's just a pleasure to have around," Whittemore said. "He plays little games with you, but he does everything to please you." Whittemore is working with a retirement group to find a forever home for Anderlecht following his career on the racetrack. "He raced some good ones over the years," Whittemore said. "There are not a lot of horses that win over 80 races. Everyone that's had him has done well with him. "He's had a pretty storied career." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

For the first time in the history of the Top Ten Poll the same horse stayed #1 all season long and that horse is none other than Shartin N. This is the final Top Ten Poll for the 2019 season. Shartin N closed out the year with 23 first place votes out of 35 voters. The final Top Ten Poll did not change at all from last week. Thanks to the USTA's Ken Weingartner for conducting the Top Ten Poll. Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Shartin N (23) 6pm 19-15-3-0 $982,177 322 1 2 Bettor’s Wish (8) 3pc 19-13-6-0 $1,643,745 306 2 3 Greenshoe (3) 3tc 13-10-3-0 $1,277,049 253 3 4 Manchego (1) 4tm 17-8-1-0 $585,788 204 4 5 Warrawee Ubeaut 3pf 19-12-2-3 $950,610 173 5 6 Gimpanzee 3tc 14-8-1-2 $1,128,753 135 6 7 Caviart Ally 5pm 19-9-7-3 $672,215 114 7 8 Papi Rob Hanover 2pc 12-6-4-2 $754,774 71 8 9 Real Cool Sam 2tg 10-9-0-0 $497,774 56 9 10 Tall Dark Stranger 2pc 9-8-1-0 $717,514 51 10 ALSO: Atlanta 48; McWicked 41; Six Pack 39; Lather Up 38; Emoticon Hanover 10; When Dovescry 9; Captain Crunch, Forbidden Trade, Senorita Rita 8; Southwind Ozzi 6; Lyons Sentinel 5; Amigo Volo 4; Blue Ivy, Sister Sledge 3; Easy Lover Hanover, Elver Hanover, JK First Lady 2; Always A Prince, Bold Eagle, Shake That House, Winndevie 1. From the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown/USTA

Hightstown, NJ - Harness racing trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt has only one favorite memory of now retired world champion trotter Six Pack. It covers roughly 950 days. "His whole career," Svanstedt said, smiling, while sitting in his office several days prior to Six Pack's final race in the TVG Open Trot last weekend at The Meadowlands. "When he was 2, he was big and not so fast in the beginning. But in April (2017) he started to feel like a good horse. So, from that April until now, it's a big memory. "I'm going to miss him. It's not so easy to find a horse like him." Six Pack and trainer-driver Svanstedt went out a winner in the TVG Open Trot, giving the 4-year-old stallion 19 wins in 35 career races and $1.93 million in purses. He was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3, when he became the fastest sophomore trotter in history with a time of 1:49.1 in winning the Kentucky Futurity. This season, he became the fastest 4-year-old male trotter with a 1:49.2 victory in the Allerage Open Trot. No other trotter in history has recorded sub-1:50 wins in multiple years. And his track-record 1:50 performance in the TVG gave Six Pack an unparalleled four lifetime wins of 1:50 or faster. In addition to the TVG, Kentucky Futurity and Allerage Open, Six Pack's wins included the Yonkers Trot, a Matron, a division of the Stanley Dancer, a New York Sire Stakes championship, and Empire Breeders Classic. "He's very good gaited," Svanstedt said. "He's a big horse and heavy but he has a very light gait. He handled the short tracks in New York very good. When he won the Yonkers Trot, I let him go the last quarter full speed. I think it was the fastest I ever drove in a turn on a half-mile track. He was always perfect gaited. Never took a wrong step. "Of course, he had a good head. He was very nice to handle and drive." This year, Six Pack won four of 12 races and hit the board a total of 11 times. He made seven starts from posts seven, eight, nine or 10 this season, and another from the second tier. He finished second to French star Bold Eagle from post 10 in the Breeders Crown and second by a neck to Atlanta from post nine in the Graduate Series championship, in 1:49.1. "It's unbelievable how bad the posts have been," said co-owner Jeff Gural, the chairman and CEO of The Meadowlands Racetrack, during Six Pack's retirement ceremony in the Big M winner's circle following the TVG. "Honestly, I think had he gotten good posts, we'd be looking at the Trotter of the Year. I don't think he would have gotten beat." He added, "It's been an amazing ride. I give Ake all the credit." Svanstedt owns Six Pack with Little E-Knutssontrotting (a partnership of Gural and Tristan Sjoberg), Stall Kalmar Inc. (Tomas Olofsson), and L Berg Inc (Lars Berg). Six Pack, by Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady, was bred by Brittany Farms and will now stand at Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey. "Everything has an end," Svanstedt said. "I'm happy to have him all these years." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Hightstown, NJ — Weekend winners Caviart Ally and Papi Rob Hanover both moved into the harness racing Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown top 10 for the first time this season while the top three — Shartin N, Bettor’s Wish, and Greenshoe — remained unchanged. Caviart Ally beat Shartin N by a nose in the TVG Mare Pace championship and was seventh in this week’s rankings. Papi Rob Hanover won the Governor’s Cup and was eighth. Bettor’s Wish finished second against older horses in the TVG Open Pace and gained five first-place votes and narrowed the gap with Shartin N to 20 points, down from 52 a week ago. Shartin N has 23 first-place votes, a loss of two from last week. Greenshoe, who is retired, saw his first-place votes cut in half, to three. Tall Dark Stranger, who was idle, returned to the top 10 as Atlanta, who was second in the TVG Mare Trot, and McWicked, who was fifth in the TVG Open Pace, dropped out. Also dropping from the top 10 was retired Lather Up. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. The final poll will be released Dec. 3. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 27 – 11/26/2019 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Shartin N (23) 6pm 19-15-3-0 $982,177 322 1 2 Bettor’s Wish (8) 3pc 19-13-6-0 $1,643,745 302 2 3 Greenshoe (3) 3tc 13-10-3-0 $1,277,049 255 3 4 Manchego (1) 4tm 17-8-1-0 $585,788 204 5 5 Warrawee Ubeaut 3pf 19-12-2-3 $950,610 174 4 6 Gimpanzee 3tc 14-8-1-2 $1,128,753 134 6 7 Caviart Ally 5pm 19-9-7-3 $672,215 104 — 8 Papi Rob Hanover 2pc 12-6-4-2 $754,774 63 — 9 Real Cool Sam 2tg 10-9-0-0 $497,774 58 7 10 Tall Dark Stranger 2pc 9-8-1-0 $717,514 57 — ALSO: Atlanta 55; McWicked 44; Lather Up 40; Six Pack 39; Captain Crunch 14; When Dovescry 9; Emoticon Hanover, Forbidden Trade, Senorita Rita 8; Southwind Ozzi 6; Lyons Sentinel 5; Amigo Volo, JK First Lady 4; Sister Sledge 3; Elver Hanover 2; Always A Prince, Bold Eagle, Winndevie 1. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ — For the past several years, owner Ed James and harness racing trainer Casie Coleman could look forward to racing McWicked. Now, they will have to look forward to racing his offspring. McWicked retired Saturday following his fifth-place finish in the TVG Open Pace championship at The Meadowlands, bringing the curtain down on the 8-year-old stallion’s award-winning and record-setting career. The horse was honored in the Big M winner’s circle, where James, Coleman, and driver Brian Sears gathered in a light rain to offer their thoughts about the 2018 Horse of the Year. “He’s been a real special horse for me,” Sears said. “He’s raced against the best his whole career and brought us a lot of special moments, that’s for sure. The last couple falls in Lexington, those were some great races, but he’s done some tremendous things throughout his career. He’ll be real hard to replace.” McWicked, a son of McArdle out of Western Sahara, won 40 of 110 career races and $4.93 million in purses. USTA/Mark Hall photo. McWicked, a son of McArdle out of Western Sahara, won 40 of 110 career races and $4.93 million in purses. He is the richest pacing stallion in North American harness racing history and second to only gelding Foiled Again on the all-time money list. This season, McWicked won six of 17 races and $1.03 million. It was his third million-dollar season, putting him in the company of Foiled Again as the only pacers with three million-dollar campaigns. Last year at age 7, McWicked became the oldest pacer in history to receive Horse of the Year honors from the U.S. Harness Writers Association. He led the sport in earnings, with $1.57 million, and became the oldest horse in 43 years to top the money standings. He also broke Foiled Again’s earnings record for a 7-year-old, which was $1.40 million in 2011. McWicked’s victories included two editions each of the Breeders Crown (at ages 3 and 7), Jim Ewart Memorial, Dan Rooney Pace, and Allerage Open Pace. He also won the Ben Franklin Pace, Max C. Hempt Memorial, William R. Haughton Memorial, Canadian Pacing Derby, Delvin Miller Adios, TVG Open Pace, Progress Pace, and Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial. He won the 2018 Allerage at Lexington’s Red Mile in 1:46.2, which is the third-fastest winning race mile in history. Throughout his career, McWicked battled throat and foot issues. “He’s tough as nails,” Coleman said. “He just refuses to lose and gives everything he’s got right to the wire every week. I’ve never been disappointed with the horse.” James, whose S S G Stables has owned McWicked since late in his 2-year-old season, made the decision to retire the stallion two days prior to the TVG, which was won by Always A Prince in 1:48.2. “I can’t say he raced bad, they went (1):48, but I’m glad we made the decision,” Coleman said. “It’s time for him to go to the breeding shed.” “He wasn’t as sharp as he used to be after eight years,” James said, noting how difficult it is for a horse to remain at the top level over such a long period of time. “He’s just good; he busts his butt every day. Casie has done a great job with him. The (drivers) have done a great job driving him. It’s about as good as it gets.” There was no decision where McWicked, who was bred by Andray Farm in Pennsylvania, would stand stud. “Mr. James has to make his decision what farm is best for him to go to,” Coleman said. “I know I’ll definitely buy some McWickeds when they come to the sales. The way he looks, his speed and grit, if they’re anything like that, we’ll be good.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Prior to second-place finishes in October's Allerage and Breeders Crown events for harness racing mare pacers, Shartin N had never lost consecutive starts during her North American racing career, a span of 39 races. So, trainer Jim King Jr. breathed a little easier when Shartin N snapped that skid with a win in last week's invitational for fillies and mares at Dover Downs. The 6-year-old mare, who was slowed by sickness in September, won by 2-1/4 lengths over Kissin In The Sand in 1:49.4. "That's for sure," King said. "It was concerning, trying to figure out what I might have done wrong or what else I could have done to have her back in shape. She certainly appeared in her last start to get back to being Shartin again. Everything appears to be back in order. That's how it appears. She'll have to let us know come Saturday night." Shartin N races Saturday in the $175,000 TVG Mare Pace championship at The Meadowlands, where she is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field that includes Allerage and Breeders Crown winner Caviart Ally as well as 3-year-old standout Warrawee Ubeaut. It will be Shartin N's final race of the season. The mare has won 15 of 18 starts, earned $940,177, and been ranked No. 1 in the sport's Top 10 poll for each of its 26 weeks so far. A win in the TVG would push her over $1 million for the second consecutive year; she was the first pacing mare to ever break that barrier in 2018. Shartin N will start from post one with regular driver Tim Tetrick. Caviart Ally, who leaves from post seven in the nine-horse field, is 7-2 on the morning line and Warrawee Ubeaut, the first filly to enter the TVG Mare Pace, is 4-1 from post four. "Her biggest issue is she's just a filly," King said about Warrawee Ubeaut. "I know it's late in the year, so she's almost what you would consider an aged horse, but the fact is she's still a 3-year-old and I don't remember seeing 3-year-olds doing what aged horses do. But the second half of her year has been very good. I could see why they would want to (enter). "A lot of people wanted to see Shartin go with the boys, but I don't think that's the right way to go myself. But everybody does it their own way." Shartin N has won 41 of 55 career races and $2.06 million. Since arriving in North America, she has won 34 of 42 starts and $1.99 million. In 2018, she started at least once in every month January through November. This year, she started at least once in every month March through November. She will return to the races in 2020 for owners Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King, and Tetrick. "We're very much looking forward to it," King said. "We've had two long seasons in a row here, but she's a pretty tough girl." The TVG Mare Pace is part of a stakes-filled Saturday card at The Meadowlands. Following is a brief look at the remainder of the stakes action. $175,000 TVG Mare Trot (Race 2): Atlanta is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in a five-horse field that includes retiring 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover, O'Brien Award winner Emoticon Hanover, and 3-year-old filly Beautiful Sin. $401,850 Governor's Cup (Race 4): Papi Rob Hanover, fresh off his Matron Stakes win, is the 3-5 favorite in the race for 2-year-old male pacers. Cattlewash, the Matron runner-up, is 4-1 second choice. $505,050 Valley Victory (Race 5): Breeders Crown champion Amigo Volo is the 8-5 favorite in the race for 2-year-old male trotters. Kindergarten Classic Series winner EL Ideal is 3-1 second pick. $475,100 Goldsmith Maid (Race 6): Kindergarten champ Senorita Rita is the 2-1 favorite, with Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ and Breeders Crown runner-up Sister Sledge at 5-2 in the field of eight 2-year-old filly trotters. $350,000 TVG Open Pace (Race 8): Bettor's Wish, a 3-year-old colt facing older male foes, is the 3-1 favorite. He leads the sport with $1.56 million in purses this year and has finished no worse than second in 18 starts, with 13 wins. Retiring 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked is 7-2 and Breeders Crown champion American History is 9-2. $411,000 Three Diamonds (Race 9): Matron Stakes winner Lyons Sentinel received a bye to the final and is the 2-1 favorite in the field of 2-year-old filly pacers. Elimination winner JK First Lady is 7-2 and Kindergarten champ Marloe Hanover is 9-2. $350,000 TVG Open Trot (Race 10): Machego, the fastest female trotter in history and winner of six consecutive starts, is the 2-1 favorite. Three-year-old Gimpanzee, a Breeders Crown and Matron winner, is 5-2 followed by retiring Dan Patch Award winner Six Pack at 3-1 and Maple Leaf Trot champ Guardian Angel AS at 4-1. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EST) Saturday at The Meadowlands. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

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