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Freehold, NJ --- The competition for the top harness racing spot in the Hambletonian Society / Breeders Crown poll heated up this week, with the gap between No.1 and No.2 narrowing to its closest margin of the season. Fear The Dragon remained No. 1 for the ninth consecutive week, but saw his lead over No. 2 Ariana G reduced to eight points. Fear The Dragon finished second to stablemate Downbytheseaside in last weekend’s Milstein Memorial while Ariana G was idle. Huntsville and Hannelore Hanover, also idle, were the next two horses in the poll. Downbytheseaside vaulted from No. 9 to No. 5 in the rankings, representing the largest shift of the week. Agent Q, who won a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division for 3-year-old female pacers, joined the rankings at No. 10. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Fear The Dragon (18) 3pc 11-9-2-0 $999,453 320 1 2 Ariana G (13) 3tf 7-6-0-1 $464,091 312 2 3 Huntsville (3) 3pc 10-7-3-0 $882,303 274 3 4 Hannelore Hanover 5tm 7-4-2-0 $235,299 160 4 5 Downbytheseaside (1) 3pc 10-6-1-2 $686,216 148 9 6 Marion Marauder 4th 5-3-1-1 $443,177 133 5 7 Resolve 6th 6-3-1-0 $327,070 120 6 8 Walner 3tc 2-2-0-0 $83,615 110 7 9 Blazin Britches 3pf 9-8-1-0 $123,392 73 8 10 Agent Q 3pf 9-6-2-0 $414,975 49 --   Also: Manchego (44); Lady Shadow (39); Check Six (20); Devious Man (19); What The Hill (16); Keystone Velocity (12); Crazy Wow (11); Pasithea Face S, Perfect Spirit (10); Foiled Again (8); Clear Idea (6); Fourth Dimension, You Know You Do (5); Bit Of A Legend N (4); Barn Bella, International Moni (3); Nike Franco N, Tequila Monday (2); Holy Trout, Jan, JL Cruze, Magic Presto, Percy Bluechip, Summer Travel, Two AM (1). by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Russell Foster was the spring driving champion at Rosecroft Raceway and is the leading harness racing driver this summer at Ocean Downs. But the 28-year-old Maryland native never imagined this kind of success in the sulky. Prior to October 2015, Foster had won a total of 67 races over a span of more than six years. Since then, he has won 403 times. Foster's success can be traced to his purchase of pacer Hi Sir in June 2013. By the end of 2014, the Foster-trained-and-driven Hi Sir was a force on the Maryland circuit and helped propel Foster's career to new levels. In 2016, no one won more races than Foster at Rosecroft (96) and he visited the winner's circle a total of 192 times. This year, Foster has already won 185 races, good for 33rd most in North America, and his $1.20 million in purses is nearing his $1.35 million in 2016. Foster, the son of trainer Arty Foster Jr., recently took time to talk to Ken Weingartner from the U.S. Trotting Association's Harness Racing Communications division about his career. KW: You're having another great year. What have been the keys to your success? RF: I don't really know if there has been a key to it. I'm just showing up every night and trainers have been putting me on a lot of good horses. That makes my job a lot easier. I've just been lucky to get some good drives. KW: What have the last two years been like? Did you foresee this type of success? RF: No, I didn't. It's been a big lifestyle change. I had a horse of my own (Hi Sir) that I took over to Rosecroft and was doing really well there. My dad brought a couple over and they started doing well and people just started listing me (to drive). I didn't really think I was going to be a catch driver. It just took off on me. KW: At what point did you realize it was going in that direction? RF: I would say last year. I didn't realize it was going to take off the way it did. It just kept going the way it was going and I took it as it came. KW: You mentioned it's been a lifestyle change. What kind of adjustment was it? RF: You're spending a lot more time at the track. I worked for my grandfather for the last 10 years, so I was always at the track a lot paddocking horses for him. But I wasn't at the track every night until the last race every night. It's a lot more late nights, a lot more time at the track. It's tough to get used to, but you get used to it after a while. KW: Is it tough mentally, too, as you're getting acclimated? RF: It was tough at first. I was used to driving only a couple horses a night, so I was really focused in on those horses. Now when you're driving 10 or 12 a night, you don't really have the time to put all that much thought into every race. I really think that's better in a way because a lot of times when I was driving just a couple I'd really overthink things. Now I just kind of go with the flow of it. I think it's better. KW: Are you the type of person that would dwell on things when they didn't go well, or were you able to turn the page? RF: If I drove a bad race it used to really bother me and it took me a while to get over it. Now, five minutes later you have to get right back on the next one. You've got to learn to turn the page. That makes it a lot easier. You still feel bad about the bad ones, but you don't have time to dwell on it. You've got to be ready for the next one. KW: Is that one of the biggest adjustments you have to make? RF: Yeah, I would say so. You've got to be able to move on to the next one. KW: What have been the highlights for you so far? RF: I've had success with my horse (Hi Sir) at Rosecroft. He got horse of the meet a couple different times over there. Mr Ham Sandwich, I won three or four (Maryland) Sire Stakes finals with him. That was a big thrill. KW: Your family has been involved in racing for a long time. Is this something you always wanted to do? RF: Yeah, I always enjoyed it. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I loved going to the track with my dad; I loved going to Rosecroft. It's where I wanted to go every weekend and I had a lot of fun with it. Whenever I had spare time on the weekends and during summers, I spent a lot of time at the barn and always enjoyed jogging horses and all that. KW: How old were you when you started jogging horses? RF: I'd say 12 or 13. KW: Did you work with the horses during high school, or were you involved in other things? RF: I played soccer my freshman and sophomore year, but after that it was pretty much all the horses. KW: When did you decide you wanted to start training and driving a little on your own? RF: Right from the time I was 16 I wanted to try to have one or two of my own. When I turned 19, I got my driver's license and I gave it a shot. It didn't seem like it was a realistic thing for me at the time; I didn't do very good starting out. I just focused more on working for my grandfather. He had 20 head racing at the time, so I didn't really have time to focus on much else. Then around 2012, 2013, he started to cut back on horses. So I got focused more on driving at Rosecroft. That's when things kind of went that route. KW: Have you had any other jobs? RF: No, never had any other job than this. KW: What do you most enjoy about working with the horses? RF: I just love being around them. Even now with driving all the time, I still work at the barn every day. I still enjoy that aspect of it. I just love it. There's nothing else I ever wanted to do. KW: Is it nice to have success so close to home? RF: That's definitely a plus. Of course it would be nice to have success somewhere else too, but I loved going to Rosecroft when I was growing up, I used to love watching races there. So to have success there is pretty cool. KW: Have you thought about expanding to other tracks more? RF: I drive a few for my dad at (Harrah's Philadelphia) here or there. It's definitely tougher up there, tough to break in. But I give it a shot every now and then. I drive quite a few in Delaware. It's tough there also, but I'm trying my hand there. I hope to pick up a few drives this winter at Dover. KW: Do you see yourself doing more of that as time goes on? RF: I think so. Hopefully as I get better and my name gets out there more. Hopefully I can keep making the right moves and people give me a chance. KW: How have you seen yourself improve, what have you learned, in these last couple years? RF: You just feel a lot more comfortable out there. You become a lot more patient. I used to always press a little too hard, I think. The more you're out there, the more comfortable you feel. You get a better feel for how the races are going and take your shots at the right time. When you first start out, you're more nervous and worried about making the right move. Once you do it more and more, you stop thinking so much and it just kind of comes to you. KW: When Ocean Downs closes you'll have some time before Rosecroft reopens, so what are your plans? RF: Harrington goes four nights a week, so I'll be there every night. Those other three nights I'll just try to get some family time in before Rosecroft opens up. I'll be going six nights a week then. So now I just want to spend time with my wife (Megan) and son (Blake). My wife is a big help to me. I wouldn't be able to have horses on my own if she wasn't there. She takes care of things when I'm on the road. KW: What do you like to do when you're not busy at the track or at the barn? RF: I just like hanging out with my son and watch him play. He's almost a year-and-a-half now; he's getting to the fun stage. Other than that, I always liked fishing, going out on the boat and being on the water. KW: Where do you like to fish? RF: Just around here locally, the Chesapeake Bay, the Wye River, places like that. KW: Looking at your stats, you're going to go past last year's numbers pretty soon. That must feel good. RF: Yeah, coming into the year I was just hoping I would improve a little bit. I kind of set a goal for myself to get over 200 wins this year. I'm just hoping things keep going the way they're going. I never set any goals before, but I thought if I could get to 200 wins this year it would be a pretty good step up. KW: It's got to feel pretty good the way everything has come together these last couple years. RF: It definitely does. I didn't think it was going to happen, so it's a very pleasant surprise. KW: What does the future hold? What would you like to accomplish down the road? RF: I've never been real big on setting goals, so I haven't put much thought into that. I just hope to keep getting drives, keep competing and keep progressing each year. I'm just taking it as it comes right now. I just want to keep moving in the right direction. KW: That's worked for you so far. RF: Yeah (laughs), we'll just keep doing it the way we're doing it, I guess. Ken Weingartner

Freehold, NJ --- Fear The Dragon, who was idle this past weekend, remained on top in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. The harness racing 3-year-old male pacer has won nine of 10 races this season and is the richest Standardbred in North America in 2017 with $924,453 in earnings. Ariana G, who last weekend won the Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, picked up nine first-place votes and moved from third to second in the rankings. Cane Pace champion Huntsville, who received the final three first place votes, fell from second to third. Hannelore Hanover and Marion Marauder rounded out the top five. Resolve, the winner of last week’s John Cashman Memorial, joined the rankings, at No. 6. Also cracking the Top 10 were Shady Daisy winner Blazin Britches at No. 8 and Jim Doherty Memorial champion Manchego at No. 10. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 11 – 8/8/2017 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Fear The Dragon (23) 3pc 10-9-1-0 $924,453 326 1 2 Ariana G (9) 3tf 7-6-0-1 $464,091 305 3 3 Huntsville (3) 3pc 10-7-3-0 $882,303 287 2 4 Hannelore Hanover 5tm 7-4-2-0 $235,299 157 4 5 Marion Marauder 4th 5-3-1-1 $443,177 140 5 6 Resolve 6th 6-3-1-0 $327,070 129 -- 7 Walner 3tc 2-2-0-0 $83,615 118 6 8 Blazin Britches 3pf 9-8-1-0 $123,392 82 -- 9 Downbytheseaside 3pc 9-5-1-2 $536,216 81 7 10 Manchego 2tf 5-5-0-0 $209,898 55 -- Also: Lady Shadow (42); Agent Q, Perfect Spirit (31); Crazy Wow (25); What The Hill (23); Devious Man (21); Keystone Velocity, Pasithea Face S (14); You Know You Do (13); R J P (8); Nike Franco N (5); Bit Of A Legend N, Long Tom (4); International Moni (3); Check Six, JL Cruze, Magic Presto, Percy Blue Chip, Play The Bell, Summer Travel, Two AM (1). by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - August 5, 2017 -- Ake Svanstedt followed his win in the Hambletonian with a come-from-behind triumph with Ice Attraction in a $30,000 division of the Duenna Stakes for harness racing three-year-old trotting fillies, the 14th race on Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack. She won by a nose in 1:53.1, with Glitzey Gal second and Broadway Concert third. Ice Attraction, a daughter of Muscle Hill-The Ice Queen, is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., Douglas Sipple, Mal & Janet Burroughs LLC and Little E LLC. She has won two of nine races this year and five of 18 lifetime. She pushed her career earnings to $162,602. Ice Attraction, sent off at 9-1, paid $21.40, $9.40 and $3.80. Glitzey Gal paid $4.00 and $2.60. Broadway Concert paid $5.60. By Ken Weingartner    

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - August 5, 2017 - Pure Country faced pressure for the final quarter-mile from Nike Franco N but fended off the challenge to win Saturday's $200,400 Lady Liberty Stakes for harness racing older female pacers by a head in 1:50 at the Meadowlands. Nike Franco N was second and fast-closing Penpal finished third. Shesjustadelight N led the field to the first quarter in 27.2 before Pure Country made a move on the backstretch and claimed the lead at the half, which was reached in 55.2. Nike Franco N started a first-over drive prior to three-quarters and was alongside Pure Country when they hit the marker in 1:22.2. The two mares raced side-by-side the rest of the way, with Pure Country putting her head in front at the wire. "She's a really good mare, I'm very fortunate to pick up the drive," said winning driver Mark MacDonald, who sat behind Pure Country for the first time in her career. "That was a really brave, courageous effort down the stretch to fight off (Nike Franco N). She was actually beat. Halfway down the stretch Nike Franco had her headed. She's just so game and gutsy that she dug back in and stuck her head out and got there for me." Pure Country, a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3, won for the first time in seven races this year, although she had three second-place finishes. "She's a fantastic filly," winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. "We ran into a lot of problems with her. She got sick and stuff like that." Takter credited former driver Brett Miller for suggesting a driver change. "He's such a class guy," Takter said. "This filly fits Mark's style. He drove a great race. I was very happy for Mark." By Somebeachsomewhere, Pure Country is owned by Diamond Creek Racing. She has won 21 of 38 career races and earned $1.9 million. Pure Country paid $10.40, $3.20 and $2.60. Nike Franco N, the 2-5 favorite, paid $2.10 and $2.10. Penpal paid $3.20. By Ken Weingartner

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - August 7, 2017 - Check Six was charging hard in the lane, propelling the harness racing four-year-old stallion to a 38-1 surprise in Saturday's $224,400 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers by two lengths over Mel Mara in 2:02.1 for the extended distance of 1-1/8 miles at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Mach It So finished third. Mel Mara was sent to the early lead, with All Bets Off second and Rock N' Roll World third. He led the field to the opening quarter in 26.2, half in 54.1 and three-quarters in 1:21.1. Mach It So launched a first-over bid for the lead as the group hit the mile in 1:48.1, with Check Six following his cover. In the stretch, Check Six and driver Yannick Gingras fanned three-wide and powered to victory. Check Six has won two of 12 races this year and 17 of 45 in his career, with earnings of $1.38 million. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Southwind Vanna is trained by Ron Burke and owned by Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Bill Switala, and Jim Martin. "I thought I had a chance to get a good piece," Gingras said. "I thought this horse has a lot of bad luck. The last time he raced here he had post 11 and he never saw daylight. I was running over top of horses in the stretch. He's had a lot of troubled trips, but I thought he was sitting on a big one and he was." Check Six paid $79.00, $23.80 and $8.60. Mel Mara paid $3.20 and $2.60. Mach It So paid $3.00. The McKee Memorial, formerly the U.S. Pacing Championship, honors the late Meadowlands Racetrack announcer and Communicators Hall of Fame member Sam McKee, who passed away earlier this year. By Ken Weingartner

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ- AUGUST 5, 2017 - Huntsville got to the lead in the first turn and never looked back, winning Saturday's $334,325 Cane Pace for harness racing three-year-old pacers by a neck over R J P in 2:03 at the extended distance of 1-1/8 miles for the seventh race at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Downbytheseaside was third. Starting from post No. 1 in a field of 12, Huntsville and driver Tim Tetrick outdueled longshot Lawrencetown Beach for the lead as the field entered the first turn and reached the quarter in 25.4. Lawrencetown Beach remained parked out on the backstretch, with Downbytheseaside on the pylons in third, as Huntsville hit the half in 54. R J P made a three-wide move around Lawrencetown Beach and moved into second as the group neared three-quarters, which was reached in 1:21.4. Huntsville and R J P battled through the stretch, timed in 1:49 for a mile, with Huntsville prevailing for his seventh win in 10 starts this year. "He showed some toughness today," winning trainer Ray Schnittker said. "After the first quarter I was a little concerned and (R J P) eyeballed him, but he's just a very good horse. "I don't think they were going to beat us today." Schnittker co-owns Huntsville with Ted Gewertz, Steve Arnold, and Crawford Farms Racing. The colt is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Wild West Show. Eight of the twelve starters were by Somebeachsomewhere including the first four home. Huntsville has won 14 of 21 career races and never finished worse than second. He has earned $1.58 million. "I hope he goes the rest of the year like that," Schnittker said. "I'd be very happy." The Cane Pace is the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. The remaining two legs are the Little Brown Jug and Messenger. Schnittker said Huntsville would not go to the Little Brown Jug. Huntsville paid $3.40, $2.60, $2.10. RJP returned $5.40, $2.60. Downbytheseaside paid $2.10. By Ken Weingartner

Harness racing trainer Ron Burke and his fellow owners of male pacer R J P were pleased with the horse's first performance for the stable when he finished fourth in his Adios elimination July 22 and even happier when he was third in the final last weekend behind Fear The Dragon and Huntsville. They hope for another surge of good feelings Saturday when R J P races in the $334,325 Cane Pace for 3-year-olds at the Meadowlands. The race, which features a 12-horse field going the extended distance of 1-1/8 miles, is the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. R J P is 5-1 on the morning line, behind favorite Huntsville at 9-5 and supplemental entry Downbytheseaside at 3-1. "With him racing for the third week in a row, we're just hoping he's getting tighter and keeps getting better," Burke said. "We bought him because he was eligible to the Adios, but he's a big, good-looking horse that hadn't been over-raced. Those kinds of horses don't become available very often. It was nice to pick up a horse like that." Burke shares ownership of R J P with the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Jack Piatt II, and the partnership of Purnel Jones Jr. and Elizabeth Jones. The group purchased R J P, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Vysoke Tatry, from the stable of trainer Erv Miller on July 12. R J P has won three of 18 career races and earned $160,210. He won a division of the Bluegrass Stakes last year. In the Cane Pace, he will again see Huntsville, who has won six of nine races this year and was the 2016 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. Huntsville, the Ray Schnittker-trained Meadowlands Pace champion, is the No. 2-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll and his three losses were second-place finishes to No. 1 Fear The Dragon. Downbytheseaside, trained by Brian Brown, has won five of eight races this year. He finished second by a head to Huntsville in the Meadowlands Pace and was third behind Fear The Dragon and Huntsville in the North America Cup. His wins include the Art Rooney Pace. The remainder of the field is Chip Walther, Art Scene, Lawrencetown Beach, Photobombr Hanover, Uffizi, Mac's Jackpot, Filibuster Hanover and second-tier starters Ocean Colony and Santafe's Coach. Lawrencetown Beach and Filibuster Hanover also are from the Burke stable. "(R J P) is kind of a trip horse on the big track," Burke said, "so he's going to need a little bit of a battle to set up." Burke has 17 horses racing on Saturday's Hambletonian Day card, including three in the day's main event, the $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes. Burke, who finished second with filly Mission Brief in the 2015 Hambletonian and second by a nose with Southwind Frank in last year's event, will send out What The Hill, Southwind Cobra, and Southwind Woody in the hopes of hoisting the trophy for the first time. "It's kind of different this year because I don't have the favorite, but mine also aren't coming in with problems," Burke said. "They seem like everything is good with them. I have a feeling they're going to be as good as they can be. The question is whether that's good enough." Following is a brief look at some of Saturday's remaining stakes action at the Meadowlands. Racing begins at noon and the Sam McKee Memorial, Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian air live from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. $113,950 Shady Daisy (Race 2) Idyllic Beach, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in a group of six that includes supplemental entries Blazin Britches and Ella Christina. Jimmy Takter-trained Idyllic Beach heads to the race off a second-place finish in the Mistletoe Shalee at the Meadowlands. Blazin Britches, the 2-1 second choice from the Brian Brown stable, and Nick Surick's Ella Christina were Adioo Volo division winners on July 29 at The Meadows. The remainder of the field is Sister's Delight, Awash and Caviart Ally. $176,250 John R. Steele Memorial (Race 3) Hannelore Hanover, last year's Dan Patch Award winning trotting mare, is back to defend her crown in the Steele Memorial, formerly known as the Fresh Yankee. The Ron Burke trainee is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in a field of nine older female trotters. She won this season's Armbro Flight Stakes and enters off a second-place finish to JL Cruze in the Spirit of Massachusetts. Luc Blais-trained Emoticon Hanover is the 4-1 second choice followed by Takter's Swedish-bred Pasithea Face at 5-1. The rest of the field is Caprice Hill, Earn Your Wings, Jewels In Hock, Broadway Donna, Non Stick, and Barn Doll. $360,650 Peter Haughton Memorial (Race 4) Takter sends six horses to the Haughton, which is for 2-year-old male trotters, led by 2-1 morning-line choice You Know You Do. Julie Miller-trained Met's Hall is the 4-1 second pick followed at 5-1 by Takter's Samo Different Day, who won his Haughton elimination by a half-length over Met's Hall in 1:54.2. The remainder of the field is Farsetti Hanover, Hill Street, Fashion Forever, Captain Morgan, Storming Mist, Maxus, and Bautista. $330,800 Jim Doherty Memorial (Race 5) Takter has the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Doherty, for 2-year-old female trotters, in undefeated Manchego. The filly is 4-for-4. Trond Smedshammer-trained Phaetosive, who is 2-for-2 and won her elimination by seven lengths in 1:53.1, is the 4-1 second choice and Mark Harder's Lily Stride is next at 5-1. The rest of the finalists are Vivacious Allie, Follow Streak, Top Expectations, Dab Hanover, Supergirl Riley, Front Circle, and Bella Glos. $303,050 John Cashman Memorial (Race 6) A field of 12, led by last year's Hambletonian and Trotting Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder, will go the extended distance of 1-1/8 miles. Marion Marauder, trained by Paula Wellwood, enters off wins in the Graduate Series championship and Hambletonian Maturity. He is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Ake Svanstedt-trained Resolve is 4-1 and Burke's Crazy Wow is 5-1. The rest of the field is JL Cruze, Wings Of Royalty, Rubber Duck, Dayson, Flanagan Memory, Musical Rhythm, Lookslikeachpndale, and second-tier starters Rose Run Parker and Obrigado. Obrigado, last year's Dan Patch Award winning older male trotter, and Flanagan Memory, last year's Breeders Crown Open Trot champion, are previous winners of the Cashman. $224,400 Sam McKee Memorial (Race 11) Mel Mara aims for his first stakes win of the season and is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 11 older male pacers going 1-1/8 miles. Mel Mara, trained by Dylan Davis, was second in the Ben Franklin Pace and enters the race off a win in the preferred handicap at the Meadowlands. William Haughton Memorial winner Mach It So is the 7-2 second choice from the stable of Jeff Bamond Jr. and Steve Elliott's Boston Red Rocks, the runner-up in the Haughton and Graduate Series championship, is next at 9-2. The rest of the field is Rock N' Roll World, All Bets Off, Dude's The Man, Check Six, Lyons Snyder, Wakizashi Hanover, Rockeyed Optimist and second-tier starter Dealt A Winner. $200,400 Lady Liberty (Race 15) Golden Girls winner Nike Franco, from the stable of Jo Ann Looney-King, is the 6-5 morning-line favorite. The New Zealand-bred mare headlines a field of eight older female pacers that also includes Takter-trained Pure Country, the 4-1 second choice, and Patrick Lachance's Penpal, who is 5-1. The remainder of the field is Call Me Queen Be, Medusa, Frost Damage Blues, Blue Moon Stride, and Shesjustadelight. Ken Weingartner

Coming off a career year, harness racing trainer John Butenschoen might be on his way to a career day. Butenschoen's stable will start three horses in Saturday's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes at the Meadowlands Racetrack, plus one horse in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks. Prior to this year, Butenschoen made one start in the Hambletonian, which came in 2013 with Punxsutawney, who failed to advance from his elimination to the final. This year, Butenschoen has contenders Bill's Man (5-1 on the morning line) and Giveitgasandgo (8-1) in the first of two $100,000 Hambletonian eliminations. Dover Dan (8-1) is his stable's hopeful in the second division. The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $1 million final later in the day. Soon after the eliminations, which are races eight and nine on the card, Butenschoen will send Fine Tuned Lady into the Hambletonian Oaks. She is 10-1 on the morning line. The 54-year-old Butenschoen was born in Illinois and out of high school went to work for Delvin Miller, who won two Hambletonians as a trainer and one as a driver. He met his wife, Jackie Kiger Butenschoen, while working for Miller. Her father was also a trainer and for a time was the farrier at Miller's Meadow Lands Farm. The Butenschoens work together in their stable, where they are joined by son Tyler. Butenschoen enjoyed his first million-dollar season as a trainer in 2001, when the trotter Plesac (named in honor of then-major league pitcher Dan Plesac) was the star of his barn. Plesac raced from 1999 to 2003, earning $2.5 million in his career. Last year Butenschoen set career highs with 85 wins and $2.34 million in purses. Butenschoen's successes included Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships with Fine Tuned Lady (2-year-old female trotter division) and Giveitgasandgo (2-year-old male trotter division). He also trained New York Sire Stakes champion pacer Funknwaffles. Fine Tuned Lady was fourth in her Hambletonian Oaks elimination after racing as the first horse in the outer flow while tracking leader Ice Attraction. Ariana G followed Fine Tuned Lady's cover to the top of the stretch and trotted home a winner from there in 1:51.3. Ariana G, last year's divisional Dan Patch Award winner, is the 6-5 favorite in the final. "We didn't really want to be first up," Butenschoen said. "She got a little lost up there and a couple fresher horses went by her, but then she dug right back in and she fought hard to the wire. Hopefully we can get a trip off someone else (in the final) instead of supplying someone else with the right trip. "But she shows up all the time. She's consistent. She's handy." Fine Tuned Lady, a daughter of Cantab Hall-Poster Princess driven by Corey Callahan, has won nine of 20 career races, finished worse than third only twice, and earned $518,029 for owners Bill Wiswell and M And L of Delaware. The same connections will send out Bill's Man in the Hambletonian eliminations. Bill's Man, a son of Credit Winner-Silver Springs, has won four of 21 lifetime starts and earned $186,427. He heads to his assignment off a third-place finish in the Reynolds last weekend at the Meadowlands. "We were a little disappointed he finished third, but he was parked the whole mile and seems to have come out of the race fine," Butenschoen said. "He's shown he's good enough to go with them. "He's had a good year. Maybe we've been a little too cautious with him. Last year he made some very untimely miscues and it didn't seem to matter if we had hobbles on him or not. The main thing was trying to teach him to race and have his confidence and have him trotting. He has the ability. I think if we can work out a trip we should be OK." Giveitgasandgo, a son of Yankee Glide-Mazda Hanover, competes in the same elimination and enters the race off a 1:52.1 win in a 3-year-old open at the Meadowlands last weekend. He raced with Lasix for the first time in that start, but Lasix is not permitted in the Hambletonian. "I thought he might have had a little more trot finishing Saturday, but it was his first start back in 20 days off of a scratch (because of sickness)," Butenschoen said. "We won't be able to use Lasix, but hopefully we've got everything in shape and under control." Giveitgasandgo has won 11 of 19 career races and earned $352,349 for owners Harmony Oaks Racing (which is Butenschoen and his wife), David J. Miller, Lawrence Means, and VIP Internet Stable. In the second elimination, Dover Dan is a son of Andover Hall out of the mare CR Kay Suzie. His dam was a three-time Dan Patch Award winner, including 1995 Horse of the Year. She took on the boys in the 1995 Hambletonian, but went off stride in her elimination and failed to advance to the final. Dover Dan has finished off the board four times this year, with three of those instances coming when starting from a post No. 9. He started from the nine post in the Reynolds in his most recent race and also had the outside in the final of the Beal Memorial and a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. "I've been disappointed with the draws we've had," Butenschoen said. "He's just been a little bit of a victim of circumstances with post positions. "The other night (driver Brian Sears) said he had a ton of trot. Usually for a horse to trot as hard as he did to get back into the race they're kind of tired. He said he wasn't tired. He trotted his back half in :54.2 or :54.3 and came from way, way, way out of it. I've been pleased with him performance-wise. You can't do anything about the post positions." Dover Dan has won six of 19 lifetime races and earned $181,823 for owners Wiswell, Jean Goehlen and Gene Schick. Goehlen's father, George Alexander, bred 1992 Hambletonian winner Alf Palema. It was the last horse he ever bred. Alexander, whose Chestnut Farm raised and bred only trotters, was a director of the Hambletonian Society. He was elected as an Immortal to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1990. CBS Sports Network will air live coverage of the Hambletonian from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The Sam McKee Memorial (formerly U.S. Pacing Championship) and Hambletonian Oaks also will be featured during the 90-minute broadcast. First race post time on Hambletonian Day is noon. The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m. Following are the Hambletonian elimination fields. Hambletonian Elimination (race eight) PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - Southwind Woody by Muscle Hill from a Pine Chip mare - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 12/1 2 - Bill’s Man by Credit Winner from a Yankee Glide mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 5/1 3 - Guardian Angel AS by Archangel from an Allstar Hall mare - Jason Bartlett - Anette Lorentzon - 10/1 4 - Giveitgasandgo by Yankee Glide from an Andover Hall mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 8/1 5 - International Moni by Love You from a Speedy Crown mare - Scott Zeron - Frank Antonacci - 5/2 6 -Stealth Hanover by Andover Hall from a Credit Winner mare - Francisco Del Cid - Francisco Del Cid - 30/1 7 - Victor Gio It by Ready Cash from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 6/1 8 - Long Tom by Muscle Hill from a Windsong’s Legacy mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 3/1 9 - Jake by Muscle Hill from an Andover Hall mare - Dan Dube - Luc Blais - 8/1   Hambletonian Elimination (race nine) PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - What The Hill by Muscle Hill from an Angus Hall mare - David Miller - Ron Burke - 3/1 2 - Seven And Seven by Chapter Seven from a Kadabra mare - David Miller - Tom Durand - 8/1 3 - Sortie by Explosive Matter from a Tagliabue mare - Andy McCarthy - Noel Daley - 10/1 4 -Shake it Off Lindy by Crazed from a Love You mare - Brett Miller - Frank Antonacci - 20/1 5 - Dover Dan by Andover Hall from a Royal Troubador mare - Brian Sears - John Butenschoen - 8/1 6 - Enterprise by Chapter Seven from a SJ’s Caviar mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 9/2 7 - Southwind Cobra by Muscle Hill from a Broadway Hall mare - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 15/1 8 - Achille Duharas by Andover Hall from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 20/1 9 - Devious Man by Credit Winner from a Garland Lobell mare - Andy Miller - Julie Miller-5/2 10 - Perfect Spirit by Andover Hall from a Kadabra mare - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 12/1   $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - Southwind Avanti by Muscle Hill from a Windsong's Legacy mare - Jason Bartlett - Anette Lorentzon - 10/1 2 - Dream Together by Muscle Hill from a Andover Hall mare - Daniel Dube - Luc Blais - 8/1 3 - Caviart Wonder by Muscle Massive from a Conway Hall mare - Andy McCarthy - Noel Daley - 20/1 4 - Ariana G by Muscle Hill from a Cantab Hall mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 6/5 5 - Magic Presto by Kadabra from a Muscles Yankee mare - Brian Sears - R. Nifty Norman - 5/1 6 - Fine Tuned Lady by Cantab Hall from a Pine Chip mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 10/1 7 - Feed Your Head by Muscle Hill from a Donerail mare - Tim Tetrick - Jimmy Takter - 6/1 8 - Sunshine Delight by Credit Winner from a Cantab Hall mare - Brett Miller - Staffan Lind - 20/1 9 - Overdraft Volo by Yankee Glide from a Tagliabue mare - Andy Miller - Julie Miller - 10/1 10 - Dream Baby Dream by Muscle Hill from a Andover Hall mare - Rod Allen - Rod Allen - 15/1 Ken Weingartner

Harness racing driver Andy Miller knows how it feels to come within a neck of winning the Hambletonian Stakes. This year, he hopes to experience victory. Miller drives Devious Man in Saturday's $1.2 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands. The colt, trained by Miller's wife, Julie, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the second of two $100,000 eliminations. The top-five finishers from each elimination return later in the day for the $1 million final. Devious Man will start his elimination from post nine in a 10-horse field. "I think the horse is really sharp and really good," Miller said. "I'm not thrilled about the draw, but hopefully we can advance from there and get to the final. Hopefully we can win [the elimination] and secure an inside spot for the final. If not, then hopefully we draw good in the final." Last year, Miller and his horse Sutton finished behind winner Marion Marauder and Southwind Frank in a three-horse photo. Sutton made up nearly four lengths in the stretch, but ran out of time to catch the leaders before the wire. "I needed a couple more steps, I think," Miller said. "But I was thrilled to be third and I would have been very thrilled to win it. Hopefully this is our year." Miller and his wife are no strangers to the Hambletonian. Last year, Julie Miller had two horses in the final, with Milligan's School finishing sixth. Julie Miller has trained a total of five Hambletonian finalists. Devious Man has won four of six races this year and finished no worse than second in his remaining starts. His victories include the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on July 1 and the Empire Breeders Championship at Vernon Downs in a career-best 1:52.2 on June 18. The colt, owned by the Andy Miller Stable and Stroy Inc., heads to the Hambletonian off a second-place finish to Walner in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. Walner, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, will miss the Hambletonian because of a minor injury. Devious Man, a son of Credit Winner out of the mare Miss Garland, has won 11 of 18 lifetime races and earned $750,200. He is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. "He lets me drive him however I want," Miller said about Devious Man. "I can leave, I can come from behind, he just has great manners. "He's just such a classy horse." International Moni is the 5-2 favorite in the first of the two eliminations. The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports Network. The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and $224,400 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers also will be part of the 90-minute broadcast, which begins at 4. Following are the Hambletonian elimination fields. Hambletonian Elimination (race eight) PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - Southwind Woody by Muscle Hill from a Pine Chip mare - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 12/1 2 - Bill’s Man by Credit Winner from a Yankee Glide mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 5/1 3 - Guardian Angel AS by Archangel from an Allstar Hall mare - Jason Bartlett - Anette Lorentzon - 10/1 4 - Giveitgasandgo by Yankee Glide from an Andover Hall mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 8/1 5 - International Moni by Love You from a Speedy Crown mare - Scott Zeron - Frank Antonacci - 5/2 6 -Stealth Hanover by Andover Hall from a Credit Winner mare - Francisco Del Cid - Francisco Del Cid - 30/1 7 - Victor Gio It by Ready Cash from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 6/1 8 - Long Tom by Muscle Hill from a Windsong’s Legacy mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 3/1 9 - Jake by Muscle Hill from an Andover Hall mare - Dan Dube - Luc Blais - 8/1   Hambletonian Elimination (race nine) PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - What The Hill by Muscle Hill from an Angus Hall mare - David Miller - Ron Burke - 3/1 2 - Seven And Seven by Chapter Seven from a Kadabra mare - David Miller - Tom Durand - 8/1 3 - Sortie by Explosive Matter from a Tagliabue mare - Andy McCarthy - Noel Daley - 10/1 4 -Shake it Off Lindy by Crazed from a Love You mare - Brett Miller - Frank Antonacci - 20/1 5 - Dover Dan by Andover Hall from a Royal Troubador mare - Brian Sears - John Butenschoen - 8/1 6 - Enterprise by Chapter Seven from a SJ’s Caviar mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 9/2 7 - Southwind Cobra by Muscle Hill from a Broadway Hall mare - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 15/1 8 - Achille Duharas by Andover Hall from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 20/1 9 - Devious Man by Credit Winner from a Garland Lobell mare - Andy Miller - Julie Miller-5/2 10 - Perfect Spirit by Andover Hall from a Kadabra mare - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 12/1 Ken Weingartner

It was two years ago during a dinner in Lexington when harness racing trainer Frank Antonacci and driver Scott Zeron first discussed the idea of Zeron wearing the Antonacci family's Lindy Farms colors sometime in the future. Antonacci and Zeron both thought it would be a fun idea with the right horse at the right time. International Moni proved to be the right horse. The Hambletonian Stakes trail proved to be the right time. And on Saturday, Zeron will put aside his own blue, white and red colors for the black, blue and white of Lindy Farms and sit behind International Moni in the first of two $100,000 Hambletonian eliminations as the 5-2 morning-line favorite at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. "A lot of times it doesn't work out this way," Antonacci said with a laugh, "but so far it's been OK." International Moni, who is undefeated in three races this year, is a son of French stallion Love You out of the two-time Horse of the Year Award-winning mare Moni Maker. Moni Maker was a star for the Antonacci family and owned by the Moni Maker Stable until her passing in 2014. International Moni is also owned by the Moni Maker Stable, which bred the colt. The Moni Maker Stable includes Antonacci's father, also Frank, Gerald Antonacci, and David Reid. The Antonacci family and/or its Lindy Racing have been involved in the ownership of five Hambletonian winners: Lindy's Pride (1969), Speedy Crown (1971), Probe (1989), Harmonious (1990) and Victory Dream (1994). "This horse means so much to them, he's such a global horse," Zeron said about International Moni. "We both agreed (wearing the Lindy colors) would be something cool. It was never an issue. I don't mind representing them. I'm racing for them and they've been so good to me over the years. I love driving for them and this means a lot to them." Said Antonacci, "This is a collaboration. Scott has been a great sport about it and is willing to try new things. This is a fun endeavor that I think is one worth talking about as a sport and put out there as an option for owners. Not everybody has to do it, but it should be something that's on the table for people, especially with their very good horses." Harness racing drivers typically wear their own colors, unlike Thoroughbred jockeys who wear the colors of each horse's owner. The Lindy colors worn by Zeron are similar to jockey silks in that they are skin tight rather than the looser fitting colors worn regularly by drivers. "(Antonacci) said our racing colors are like parachutes, and they are kind of baggy," Zeron said. "He's looking for every inch he can get on that racetrack. He said, if this will give us one extra inch, it's worth it." Of course, the first time Zeron wore the Lindy colors with International Moni, the colt won his elimination for the Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk by a neck after charging through the stretch to overcome a six-length deficit. "That was irony," Zeron said with a laugh. International Moni won the Goodtimes Stakes final on June 17, but suffered a bout of colic in early July that forced him to miss the Stanley Dancer Memorial, expected to be the colt's final Hambletonian prep, at the Meadowlands on July 15. He bounced back with a career-best 1:52 win July 22 in a 3-year-old open at the Meadowlands. He will start his Hambletonian elimination from post five. "It's nice to be in the middle of the pack," Antonacci said. "I think we're in a good spot. He's a really handy horse, so whatever Scott is going to want to do he's going to be able to do from there, which is nice. "He's just a really, really good horse, hopefully on his way to being a great horse. The great ones, and the very good ones, they overcome adversity. He did that. I think that bodes well for his future." Zeron won last year's Hambletonian, and eventually the Trotting Triple Crown, with Marion Marauder. He is attempting to become the first driver to win the Hambletonian in consecutive years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Antonacci also sends out Shake It Off Lindy, in the second Hambletonian elimination. Shake It Off Lindy and driver Brett Miller will start from post four and are 20-1 on the morning line. "He's just an honest, good horse," Antonacci said. "He's never really gotten a spot where he's gotten a trip. I think he's the type of horse that if he trips out he could grab a big piece. Hopefully we make the final and get a good trip worked out and maybe surprise people or pick up a bunch of pieces." The Hambletonian format calls for eliminations to be contested the same day as the final. A total of 19 horses entered this year's event, requiring two $100,000 eliminations from which the top five finishers in each division advance to the final. Elimination winners draw for inside posts 1-5 and all other finalists will then be placed in an open draw. The winner of the $1 million final is the Hambletonian champion. CBS Sports Network will air live coverage of the Hambletonian from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The Sam McKee Memorial (formerly U.S. Pacing Championship) and Hambletonian Oaks also will be featured during the 90-minute broadcast. First race post time on Hambletonian Day is noon. The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m. Following are the Hambletonian elimination fields. Hambletonian Elimination (race eight) PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - Southwind Woody by Muscle Hill from a Pine Chip mare - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 12/1 2 - Bill’s Man by Credit Winner from a Yankee Glide mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 5/1 3 - Guardian Angel AS by Archangel from an Allstar Hall mare - Jason Bartlett - Anette Lorentzon - 10/1 4 - Giveitgasandgo by Yankee Glide from an Andover Hall mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 8/1 5 - International Moni by Love You from a Speedy Crown mare - Scott Zeron - Frank Antonacci - 5/2 6 -Stealth Hanover by Andover Hall from a Credit Winner mare - Francisco Del Cid - Francisco Del Cid - 30/1 7 - Victor Gio It by Ready Cash from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 6/1 8 - Long Tom by Muscle Hill from a Windsong’s Legacy mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 3/1 9 - Jake by Muscle Hill from an Andover Hall mare - Dan Dube - Luc Blais - 8/1   Hambletonian Elimination (race nine) PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - What The Hill by Muscle Hill from an Angus Hall mare - David Miller - Ron Burke - 3/1 2 - Seven And Seven by Chapter Seven from a Kadabra mare - David Miller - Tom Durand - 8/1 3 - Sortie by Explosive Matter from a Tagliabue mare - Andy McCarthy - Noel Daley - 10/1 4 -Shake it Off Lindy by Crazed from a Love You mare - Brett Miller - Frank Antonacci - 20/1 5 - Dover Dan by Andover Hall from a Royal Troubador mare - Brian Sears - John Butenschoen - 8/1 6 - Enterprise by Chapter Seven from a SJ’s Caviar mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 9/2 7 - Southwind Cobra by Muscle Hill from a Broadway Hall mare - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 15/1 8 - Achille Duharas by Andover Hall from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 20/1 9 - Devious Man by Credit Winner from a Garland Lobell mare - Andy Miller - Julie Miller-5/2 10 - Perfect Spirit by Andover Hall from a Kadabra mare - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 12/1   Ken Weingartner

East Rutherford, NJ --- International Moni and Devious Man on Tuesday were made morning-line favorites for their respective eliminations in Saturday's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes for harness racing 3-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The Hambletonian format calls for eliminations to be contested the same day as the final. A total of 19 horses entered this year's event, requiring two $100,000 eliminations from which the top five finishers in each division advance to the final. Elimination winners draw for inside posts 1-5 and all other finalists will then be placed in an open draw. The winner of the $1 million final is the Hambletonian champion. CBS Sports Network will air live coverage of the Hambletonian from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The Sam McKee Memorial (formerly U.S. Pacing Championship) and Hambletonian Oaks also will be featured during the 90-minute broadcast. First race post time on Hambletonian Day is noon. The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m. International Moni, who drew post five in the nine-horse elimination and is the 5-2 favorite, is undefeated in three races this year. He won the Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack on June 17, but suffered a bout of colic in early July that forced him to miss the Stanley Dancer Memorial, expected to be the colt's final Hambletonian prep, at the Meadowlands on July 15. He bounced back with a career-best 1:52 win July 22 in a 3-year-old open at the Meadowlands. "I don't think he could be heading into the race any better," said International Moni's driver Scott Zeron. "His whole year has been beautiful. I know they ran into the time where he was colicky and that put a bump in the road, but to me it didn't really. We were able to get a really nice start into him. With a week off and now heading into the Hambo, to me it's setting up perfectly." Zeron won last year's Hambletonian, and eventually the Trotting Triple Crown, with Marion Marauder. He is attempting to become the first driver to win the Hambletonian in consecutive years since John Campbell in 1987-88. International Moni, a son of French stallion Love You out of the two-time Horse of the Year Award-winning mare Moni Maker, is owned by breeder Moni Maker Stable. The colt, trained by 33-year-old Frank Antonacci, has won four of 15 career races and earned $264,452. Antonacci trains International Moni for an ownership group that includes his father, also Frank, Gerald Antonacci, and David Reid. The Antonacci family and/or its Lindy Racing have been involved in the ownership of five Hambletonian winners: Lindy's Pride (1969), Speedy Crown (1971), Probe (1989), Harmonious (1990) and Victory Dream (1994). Devious Man, from the wife-and-husband team of trainer Julie Miller and driver Andy Miller, has won four of six races this year and finished no worse than second in his remaining starts. He drew post nine in the 10-horse elimination and is the 5-2 favorite. His victories include the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on July 1 and the Empire Breeders Championship at Vernon Downs in a career-best 1:52.2 on June 18. The colt, owned by the Andy Miller Stable and Stroy Inc., heads to the Hambletonian off a second-place finish to Walner in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. Walner, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, will miss the Hambletonian because of a minor injury. Devious Man, a son of Credit Winner out of the mare Miss Garland, has won 11 of 18 lifetime races and earned $750,200. He is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. "We were really pleased with him in the Dancer," Julie Miller said. "He trotted in 1:51 and Andy said he was really good, so I think that's a nice race to go off of going into the Hambo. We trained him Saturday and he trained really good. I have a lot of confidence in him and just hope he does well." What The Hill drew post one in the elimination with Devious Man and is the 3-1 second choice. He is from the stable of trainer Ron Burke, who has finished second in the past two Hambletonians. What The Hill has won four of six races this year and heads to the Hambletonian off a career-best 1:52.1 win in the Reynolds Memorial last weekend at the Meadowlands. For his career, What The Hill has won seven of 20 races and earned $417,236. His wins include the 2016 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters on last year's Hambletonian Day. The most recent Haughton winner to return and win the Hambletonian was Muscle Hill in 2009. What The Hill, a son of Muscle Hill out of the mare K T Cha Cha, is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and Deo Volente Farms. David Miller is the driver. The colt is one of three entries from the Burke Stable, with Southwind Cobra and Southwind Woody. "What The Hill is a legitimate contender," Burke said. "He's going to be able to race either way (from the front or behind) and puts himself in play and tends to always finish right on the wire with everybody else. I think two heats is an advantage for him. He's a big, strong horse. If anything, he'll go better the second heat than the first. So that doesn't bother me at all." Ariana G is the 6-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters. Ariana G won her Oaks elimination last weekend by two lengths over Dream Together in 1:51.3 and will start the final from post four. She has won five of six starts this year and 14 of 17 lifetime for trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras. Takter and Gingras have teamed to win the past three editions of the Oaks. Takter shares the record for training wins, six, with Jan Johnson. Last year, Takter and Gingras won the Oaks with All The Time, who is Ariana G's full sister. Full sisters have never won the Oaks in the event's 46-year history. Ariana G, a daughter of 2009 Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill out of the mare Cantab It All, is owned by breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Magic Presto, who won the other Oaks elimination, drew post five and is the 5-1 second choice. Fans can follow the action at www.Hambletonian.com, www.meadowlandsracetrack.com and on Twitter at #Hambo17. Hambletonian Elimination (10-horse division) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1-What The Hill-David Miller-Ron Burke-3/1 2-Seven And Seven-David Miller-Tom Durand-8/1 3-Sortie-Andy McCarthy-Noel Daley-10/1 4-Shake It Off Lindy-Brett Miller-Frank Antonacci-20/1 5-Dover Dan-Brian Sears-John Butenschoen-8/1 6-Enterprise-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-9/2 7-Southwind Cobra-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-15/1 8-Achille Duharas-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-20/1 9-Devious Man-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/2 10-Perfect Spirit-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-12/1   Hambletonian Elimination (9-horse division) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1-Southwind Woody-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-12/1 2-Bill's Man-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-5/1 3-Guardian Angel As-Jason Bartlett-Anette Lorentzon-10/1 4-Giveitgasandgo-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-8/1 5-International Moni-Scott Zeron-Frank Antonacci-5/2 6-Stealth Hanover-Francisco Del Cid-Francisco Del Cid-30/1 7-Victor Gio IT-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-6/1 8-Long Tom-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-3/1 9-Jake-Dan Dube-Luc Blais-8/1   $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1-Southwind Avanti-Jason Bartlett-Anette Lorentzon-10/1 2-Dream Together-Daniel Dube-Luc Blais-8/1 3-Caviart Wonder-Andy McCarthy-Noel Daley-20/1 4-Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-6/5 5-Magic Presto-Brian Sears-R. Nifty Norman-5/1 6-Fine Tuned Lady-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-10/1 7-Feed Your Head-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter-6/1 8-Sunshine Delight-Brett Miller-Staffan Lind-20/1 9-Overdraft Volo-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-10/1 10-Dream Baby Dream-Rod Allen-Rod Allen-15/1 Ken Weingartner

Pinkman returns to harness racing action for the first time in nearly 10 months on Friday, facing five foes in the preferred handicap at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The 5-year-old gelding, whose last visit to the winner's circle at the Big M followed his victory in the 2015 Hambletonian, was absent because of surgery to correct chronic throat issues. "I'm excited to have him back," trainer Jimmy Takter said. "He's probably the most low-profile top horse I've ever had. I think if he gets back to what he's supposed to be, everyone knows he's a heck of a tough horse. He's got it. "It's great to have him racing again." Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster, received divisional Dan Patch awards at ages 2 and 3 and also was 2015 Trotter of the Year. He won 17 of 25 races and earned $2.45 million during his first two seasons, highlighted by his 3-year-old campaign in 2015 that produced victories in the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, and Beal and Zweig memorials. Last year Pinkman won a Group 2 race for 4-year-olds in Sweden, but was winless in six U.S. starts. He last raced in early October. "He basically missed all his 4-year-old season," Takter said. "It is what it is. But his throat looks better now. Knock on wood, so far it seems like everything is working. We took our time with him. There's no rush. I want to be careful. No matter where you go, these races are hard." Pinkman is 5-1 on the morning line for Friday's race at the Meadowlands. Tuonoblu Rex, who has won four of six races in the U.S. since arriving from Europe, is the 2-1 favorite. Flanagan Memory, the 2016 Breeders Crown Open Trot winner, is the 5-2 second choice. Completing the field are Dayson, Muscle Diamond, and Lookslikeachpndale. "He's a big track horse so we're going to try to find the right races for him," said Takter, who trains Pinkman for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. "If he is good enough by October, he could go to the Breeders Crown. That's the goal, but that's a long way down the road. We'll see how he does Friday." Ken Weingartner

Dan Patch Award winner Walner will not race in the upcoming Hambletonian Stakes because of a minor injury, harness racing trainer Linda Toscano said Thursday, five days before entries are due for the sport's premier event for 3-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Toscano said the injury was not career threatening, but there was no timetable for Walner's return. Walner was unbeaten in two races this year. In his most recent start, Walner won a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial in a stakes-record 1:50.2 at the Meadowlands on July 15. The victory pushed his win streak to seven races dating back to September, with all of the wins by a minimum of three lengths. For his career, the colt has won nine of 10 starts and earned $567,652 for owner Ken Jacobs. Tim Tetrick has driven Walner in all his races. "We have to do what is best for the horse," Toscano said. "He's special. I can't do anything that might hurt him. I can't take a chance. We talked about it and collectively made the decision. It is what it is." Entries for the Hambletonian (Open) are due by 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the Meadowlands Race Office (877-782-2537 or Canada 201-460-4000.) The post position draw for the Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks will be DIGITAL STREAMING ONLY at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, on the Meadowlands Facebook page and YouTube channel. Ken Weingartner

When a teenage Bruce Trogdon first began attending the Adios more than four decades ago, he never imagined he would someday own a harness racing horse in the race. On Saturday, he will. But even if it never happened, the Adios would always be special to him. That's because 41 years ago, Trogdon got engaged to his wife Sabrina there. "All this, it's a pretty neat situation," said Trogdon, who will return Saturday to The Meadows with Sabrina for the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids and watch Fear The Dragon --- the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing's weekly poll --- compete in the $400,000 race for 3-year-old pacers. "We're looking forward to it." Fear The Dragon, who has won eight of nine races this year including the North America Cup and Hempt Memorial, was raised at Trogdon's Emerald Highlands Farm in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The colt is a son of stallion Dragon Again out of the mare Armbro Cinnamon, who Trogdon purchased five months prior to Fear The Dragon's birth in April 2014. Trogdon, a longtime newspaper publisher, started Emerald Highlands Farm in 1982 with 30 acres. The farm expanded gradually to 260 acres and now is home to 37 broodmares. "I wanted to learn to do the horses myself and I basically started from scratch," said Trogdon, who bought his first horse in 1975. "I just loved the sport. I've spent a lifetime doing it. I mostly kept a few fillies every year and didn't do much racing. Now that I've gotten older, I've held on to more of the colts. Dragon was just a colt that I liked. I just got lucky. In most years, in previous years, all my colts sold. I just picked the right year to keep him." Fear The Dragon, trained by Brian Brown, won five of 11 races last year and finished worse than third only once. His top victory came in the Elevation Stakes, but he also had a win over Dan Patch Award recipient Huntsville in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. He finished third in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, behind Huntsville and stablemate Downbytheseaside. This year, Fear The Dragon topped Huntsville and Downbytheseaside in the North America Cup, and also beat Huntsville in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. His only loss was a second-place finish to Miso Fast in his Hempt Memorial elimination. "We knew last year that he was as good as these other horses," Trogdon said. "Winning the North America Cup was big to me. It gave him a chance to show the world how good he is." Fear The Dragon and Huntsville both won their respective eliminations for the Adios last weekend. Fear The Dragon, who was returning from a scheduled three-week layoff, captured his division by a half-length over Western Hill in 1:50.3. Huntsville, fresh off his victory in the Meadowlands Pace, won his division by a neck over Blood Line in 1:49.3. Huntsville, trained by Ray Schnittker and driven by Tim Tetrick, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Adios final while Fear The Dragon, with David Miller in the sulky, is the 2-1 second choice. "We knew we might go in a little short (in the elimination), and the horse was a little dull," Trogdon said. "He wasn't himself; he didn't have quite as much punch as usual. By rights he should come back this week and be tighter, be good. We're cautiously optimistic. "Of course we're racing against a great horse in Huntsville. We've beaten him before so we're not afraid of him, but we certainly respect him because he's a great horse. I think Huntsville, (Downbytheseaside) and Dragon are just three superstars in the same year. I just think they're three great horses." And Trogdon is just thankful to be part of the group. "Even when I had just claimers we would drive to The Meadows, about 2-1/2 hours from where we lived in northeast Ohio at the time, and watch the races and I've always loved the Adios," Trogdon said. "I just loved to see the great horses. Never did I think I might have a horse like that. "Dragon is just a champion. It's been quite a thrill with him." The Adios Day card begins at noon and includes six Grand Circuit stakes. The Adios is race 11 with post time at 4 p.m. approximately. Following is the Adios field with drivers, trainers and morning line. 1. RJP - Somebeacomewhere - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke -9/2 2. Highalator - Somebeacomewhere - Victor Kirby - Jeffrey Long -20/1 3. Fear The Dragon - Dragon Again - David Miller - Brian Brown -2/1 4. Huntsville - Somebeacomewhere - Tim Tetrick - Ray Schnittker -9/5 5. Eddard Hanover - Dragon Again - Brett Miller - Ron Burke -20/1 6. Western Hill - Western Ideal - Dave Palone - Tony Alagna -8/1 7. Miso Fast - Roll With Joe - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke -15/1 8. Blood Line - Somebeacomewhere - Mark MacDonald - Jimmy Takter -12/1 9. Hurricane Beach - Somebeacomewhere - Dan Dube - Luc Blais -15/1 Ken Weingartner

Award-winning Ariana G will take a step toward trying to follow in her older sister's hoof prints when she competes in Saturday's first of two harness racing eliminations of the Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The Hambletonian Oaks, for 3-year-old female trotters, attracted 18 horses. The field was divided into two nine-filly eliminations, each with a purse of $40,438, and the top five finishers from each division advance to the $500,000 final Aug. 5 at the Big M. Ariana G's full sister All The Time won last year's Hambletonian Oaks. Full sisters have never won the Hambletonian Oaks, let alone accomplished the feat in back-to-back years. The only daughters of the same dam to win the Oaks were three-quarter sisters Marita's Victory and Passionate Glide, who did it six years apart. Marita's Victory (by stallion Valley Victory) won the 2000 Hambletonian Oaks and Passionate Glide (by Yankee Glide) won in 2006. Both were out of the mare Miss Marita. Ariana G, who has won 13 of 16 career races and finished worse than third only once, is trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. The connections considered racing Ariana G in the $1 million Hambletonian against male rivals, but opted for the Oaks. "It was really Jimmy's decision and both of us are very supportive of the decision," Katz said. "When you consider all the factors, it's clearly the right decision. The Oaks is as prestigious a race as there is for trotting fillies. We're comfortable that she's demonstrated that she's capable of racing with the colts at this point. We'll save that discussion for perhaps another day." Ariana G, a daughter of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Cantab It All, beat male rivals in an elimination of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and finished third from post eight in the final on July 1 for her only setback in five starts this season. She heads to her Hambletonian Oaks elimination off a 1:51.4 win in her division of the Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters on July 15 at the Meadowlands. She is the fastest 3-year-old female trotter this season, with a mark of 1:51.1, and second-fastest 3-year-old trotter overall, behind only colt Walner -- the Hambletonian favorite -- at 1:50.2. Ariana G's Oaks elimination also includes Glitzey Gal, Ice Attraction, Dream Together, Fine Tuned Lady, Dream Baby Dream, Treviso, Cool Cates, and Sunshine Delight. Glitzey Gal is the second-fastest 3-year-old female trotter of the season, with a mark of 1:51.2, while Fine Tuned Lady and Dream Baby Dream also are among the top eight. Treviso is unbeaten in five races this year, all on the Pennsylvania circuit. The second elimination includes Ontario standout Magic Presto, Miller Memorial division winner Overdraft Volo and Tompkins-Geers Stakes winner Feed Your Head. The remainder of the field is Hillarmbro, Thats All Moni, Southwind Avanti, Caviart Wonder, Broadway Idole, and Evelyn. "The Oaks is a great race, a great venue, and it deserves all the acclaim it should get," Katz said. "The winners of that race are a who's who of trotting fillies. There's a tremendous amount of luster to it all. We're looking forward to it." Takter, who trains Thats All Moni and Feed Your Head in addition to Ariana G, shares the record of six Hambletonian Oaks training wins with Jan Johnson and has won the last three editions of the race. Katz and Libfeld, who bred Ariana G, have three Hambletonian Oaks trophies, one shy of the owner record held by Castleton Farm. Yannick Gingras, who drives Ariana G, has teamed with Takter on the three most recent Oaks victories. Gingras is tied with Glen Garnsey and Ron Pierce for the second-most wins in the event, trailing only Berndt Lindstedt's four. Elimination winners draw for inside posts 1-5. All other finalists will be placed in an open draw. Post positions for the $500,000 final will be drawn and morning lines assigned on Tuesday, Aug. 1, during a Facebook live event at 2 p.m. on the Meadowlands Facebook page. The draw will be streamed live on the Meadowlands website. Following are the elimination fields with listed driver and trainer. PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer 1. Glitzey Gal - Muscle Hill - David Miller - R. Nifty Norman 2. Ice Attraction - Muscle Hill - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt 3. Dream Together - Muscle Hill - Dan Dube - Luc Blais 4. Ariana G - Muscle Hill - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter 5. Fine Tuned Lady - Cantab Hall - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen 6. Dream Baby Dream - Muscle Hill - Rod Allen - Rod Allen 7. Treviso - Muscle Massive - Charlie Norris - Charlie Norris 8. Cool Cates - Yankee Glide - Andy McCarthy - Noel Daley 9. Sunshine Delight - Credit Winner - Brett Miller - Staffan Lind PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer 1. Hillarmbro - Muscle Hill - Trond Smedshammer - Trond Smedshammer 2. Magic Presto - Kadabra - Brian Sears - R. Nifty Norman 3. Thats All Moni - Love You - Tim Tetrick - Jimmy Takter 4. Southwind Avanti - Muscle Hill - Tim Tetrick - Anette Lorentzon 5. Overdraft Volo - Yankee Glide - Andy Miller - Julie Miller 6. Caviart Wonder - Muscle Massive - Andy McCarthy - Noel Daley 7. Feed Your Head - Muscle Hill - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter 8. Broadway Idole - Broadway Hall - Scott Zeron - Jim Campbell 9. Evelyn - Muscle Hill - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt Ken Weingartner

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