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Wanda Polisseni does not know what will happen in Saturday's C$340,000 Elegantimage Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters at Ontario's Woodbine Mohawk Park, where her Purple Haze Stables' Phaetosive meets harness racing's top-ranked horses, No. 1 Atlanta and No. 2 Manchego. But she already knows how she will feel about her filly at the end of the day. "It's a tough race, but she will do the best she can," Polisseni said. "And whatever she does, I'm all for it and I will be very appreciative. My horses never have to win for me to be happy. I love them and I want them to be healthy and have a good race and do the best they can. "Those other two fillies are absolutely terrific," she added. "There are a lot of people that want to see them, myself included." Hambletonian champion Atlanta and Hambletonian Oaks winner Manchego will be meeting for the second time this year. Manchego, the 2017 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, won the first encounter by 1-3/4 lengths in the Casual Breeze Stakes on Aug. 24 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Phaetosive, who finished second to Manchego in the Hambletonian Oaks, will join them for the first time this season. The trio met once last year, in the Breeders Crown final at Hoosier Park. Manchego won, capping a perfect 12-for-12 campaign, while Phaetosive finished third and Atlanta fourth. In the Elegantimage, Manchego is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the seven-horse field, followed by Atlanta at 7-5 and Phaetosive at 8-5. "It's a hell of a race," said Trond Smedshammer, who trains and drives Phaetosive. "I'm sure (Atlanta) is going to be looking for a rebound. They're going to be racing, that's for sure. Hopefully I can sit close enough to be a part of it." Saturday's Woodbine Mohawk card also includes the C$665,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old trotters, C$400,000 William Wellwood Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, C$385,000 Peaceful Way for 2-year-old female trotters, two eliminations for the Metro Pace for 2-year-old pacers, and two eliminations for the She's A Great Lady for 2-year-old female pacers. Phaetosive, a daughter of Explosive Matter out of Phaeton, has won five of seven races this year and heads to the Elegantimage off a win in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship on Sept. 2. For her career, the filly has won nine of 14 races and never finished worse than third. She has earned $657,717. "I love her; she's terrific," Polisseni said. "She is gutsy. I can't describe it, but she is gutsy. I love her form and I love to watch her race." Phaetosive had breathing problems earlier this season, but the issue was corrected with a minor procedure rather than surgery, which would have prevented her from racing in the Hambletonian Oaks. She also tied up the day prior to her first race following the Oaks, Aug. 21, but recovered and won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. "It's something you've got to watch with her," Smedshammer said about the tying up. "She's done it before. She hasn't done it since, but we've been obviously very careful watching her schedule. It's not a big problem, but it's something you've got to watch." Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables ranks sixth among all owners in purses this season, with trotters Perlucky and Classichap joining Phaetosive as six-figure earners. Polisseni's past stars included millionaire Dejarmbro and Blacktuxwhitesocks, who were both New York Sire Stakes champions. Blacktuxwhitesocks also won once in Norway. "I love all my horses, each of them for a different reason or something special," Polisseni said. She added, "Every horse in every race deserves to get a cheer at the end of the race." Racing at Woodbine Mohawk begins at 7:25 p.m. (EDT) with the Metro eliminations. The Peaceful Way follows as race three, the Wellwood race five, Canadian Trotting Classic race seven, and Elegantimage race 10. The She's A Great Lady elims are races six and eight. Complete entries can be found here. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans will receive a special commemorative postcard featuring Hambletonian champion Atlanta. Mohawk Park will also be serving a special drink named "The Atlanta" in its various dining locations and $1 from each drink sold will be donated to the Milton District Hospital Foundation. The second annual New Owners Seminar will be taking place prior to Saturday's card. The seminar is open to the public and anyone interested in learning more about racehorse ownership is invited. The seminar will start at 6 p.m. in the North America Cup room. Following is the field in post-position order for the Elegantimage Stakes. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Phaetosive-Trond Smedshammer-Trond Smedshammer-8/5 2-Manchego-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-6/5 3-Alloveragain-Randy Waples-John Bax-30/1 4-Blonde Magic-Jody Jamieson-Tom Durand-20/1 5-Jordan Blue Chip-Tim Tetrick-Mike Keeling-20/1 6-Atlanta-Scott Zeron-Rick Zeron-7/5 7-Sneeker Hanover-Paul MacDonell-Duane Marfisi-30/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Anders Strom didn't get Nagamori Hill for a song, but he renamed him after one. Purchased as a yearling for a Swedish auction-record 3 million kronor, approximately $365,000 U.S., the Swedish-bred colt's name was changed to Green Manalishi in tribute to the Peter Green-penned Fleetwood Mac song "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)," which was released in 1970. "I'm a big fan of the Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac tune as well as the cover that my favorite band Judas Priest made," Strom said in an email. "I had the name on my list for a long time once the right horse would show up. I like to name all horses born in the same year with the same beginning letter; this year it was the 'G' crop." So far Green Manalishi, owned by Strom's Courant Inc., has been grand. He has three wins and two second-place finishes in five races, earning $146,757. One of his setbacks was by a neck to Prospect Hill and the other came when he raced on the outside from post 10 in the Peter Haughton Memorial, which was won by Don't Let'em. Last week, the colt won his elimination for the William Wellwood Memorial by 4-3/4 lengths over Kings County in 1:54.4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He will start Saturday's C$400,000 final from post three with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Marcus Melander. What's impressed Strom? "About everything," he said. "He made a break in one of the qualifiers but there were good excuses for that. Otherwise he has done everything right and the mile he trotted in the Peter Haughton Memorial was out of this world from that number 10 spot. Oh, and I should not forget, he has a great psyche -- everyone just loves the horse's manners. "He is certainly one of the absolute most interesting colts for the future and I don't think I have had such a great prospect before. I really hope he can finish the season well and become a Hambletonian prospect next season." Green Manalishi is a son of Muscle Hill out of the Enjoy Lavec mare Naga Morich. His second dam, Dame Lavec, produced Raja Mirchi, who finished eighth in the 2009 Peter Haughton Memorial, but enjoyed success in Europe. All of which were contributing factors in Strom's interest in Green Manalishi as a yearling. "I liked the horse's conformation; he is really a fantastic-looking colt," Strom said. "But first and foremost he has the pedigree to become a superstar. He has the same maternal line as Raja Mirchi, who was a fantastic champion for Lutfi Kolgjini and now one of the most sought after stallions in Europe. With Muscle Hill as a sire, you could argue that Green Manalishi has the potential to become Raja 2.0!" The Wellwood Memorial is part of a card that also includes the second meeting between harness racing's top-ranked horses, No. 1 Atlanta and No. 2 Manchego, in the C$340,000 Elegantimage Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters plus the C$665,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old trotters, C$385,000 Peaceful Way for 2-year-old female trotters, two eliminations for the Metro Pace for 2-year-old pacers, and two eliminations for the She's A Great Lady for 2-year-old female pacers. Green Manalishi is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Wellwood. Union Forces, who won the event's other elimination in 1:55.3, is 6-1 from post four. He will be driven by Scott Zeron for trainer Domenico Cecere. Swandre The Giant, second to Union Forces last week, is the 2-1 second choice from post seven with Yannick Gingras at the lines for Jimmy Takter. "There are several good horses, perhaps even better," Strom said about this season's group of 2-year-old trotters. "I believe we will see a handful of horses that would have been a breakout No. 1 in any 'normal' crop." Strom hopes he has a couple of those horses in addition to Green Manalishi. Greenshoe has won two of four races, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, despite going off stride in all four starts. Gimpanzee, owned with Lennart Agren's S R F Stable, is 5-for-5 on the New York Sire Stakes circuit. "Greenshoe has perhaps shown the highest capacity so far, but he has also acted a bit immaturely," Strom said. "I think once he settles in he will be among the best in the crop. Gimpanzee is a less complicated horse. He has yet to race against top competition, but once he does it will be very interesting to see where he can rank among the other horses in this group. "I give credit to Courant's operational manager Sabine Kagebrandt for doing a great job to put these horses on the shortlist when we were working on the 2017 yearling purchases." Greenshoe, a son of Father Patrick out of Designed To Be, was purchased for $330,000 under the name Rifleman at the Lexington Selected Sale. Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, was bought for $170,000 under the name Army Of Monkeys at the Standardbred Horse Sale. "Greenshoe is a financial term that I came across when I worked with introducing one of my startups to the stock market," Strom said. "Gimpanzee was originally named Army Of Monkeys and we nicknamed him Monkey, so I simply had to come up with a fantasy name that could carry his nickname. Now that he is so good, the name is great!" Racing begins at 7:25 p.m. (EDT) with the Metro eliminations. The Peaceful Way follows as race three, the Wellwood race five, Canadian Trotting Classic race seven, and Elegantimage race 10. The She's A Great Lady elims are races six and eight. Complete entries can be found here. Following is the field in post-position order for the William Wellwood Memorial. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-White Tiger-Anthony MacDonald-Harry Poulton-10/1 2-Okeanos-Roger Mayotte-Roger Mayotte-12/1 3-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-9/5 4-Union Forces-Scott Zeron-Domenico Cecere-6/1 5-Hudson River-Jimmy Takter-Jimmy Takter-8/1 6-Smart As Hill-Bob McClure-Mike Keeling-15/1 7-Swandre The Giant-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-2/1 8-Kings County-David Miller-Domenico Cecere-8/1 9-Southwind Avenger-Trevor Henry-R. Nifty Norman-15/1 10-While Your Up-Sylvain Filion-Clark Beelby-20/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA      

Crystal Fashion has not led any of his races this year prior to the final quarter-mile, but it's become crystal clear the gelding can find a way to win from there. Few 3-year-old trotters have kicked home better than Crystal Fashion, who has eight wins and three second-place finishes in 12 races this season. Over his past five races, no horse has trotted the final quarter-mile faster than Crystal Fashion. Over his past 10 starts, only three horses -- total -- have come home faster. Crystal Fashion, though, won all three of those races. "I'm really happy with the way he finishes his mile," trainer Jim Campbell said. "If he's got somebody in front of him, he'll track them down. He never gives up, just trots right to the end. "He's been really good that way. He takes really good care of himself, too. He's been nothing but a pleasure to train this year." Crystal Fashion's next opportunity to track down horses is Saturday in the C$665,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-olds at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He will start from post 10 in an 11-horse field with regular driver Tim Tetrick at the lines for Campbell and owner Fashion Farms. The race also includes Met's Hall, who has won the Simcoe Stakes and Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial in his two starts since finishing second to Atlanta in the Hambletonian, as well as 2017 O'Brien Award-winner Alarm Detector and 2017 Breeders Crown champion Fiftydallarbill. Saturday's card also includes the second meeting between harness racing's top-ranked horses, No. 1 Atlanta and No. 2 Manchego, in the C$340,000 Elegantimage Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters plus the C$400,000 William Wellwood Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters, C$385,000 Peaceful Way for 2-year-old female trotters, two eliminations for the Metro Pace for 2-year-old pacers, and two eliminations for the She's A Great Lady for 2-year-old female pacers. Crystal Fashion, a son of Cantab Hall-Window Willow who has earned $652,182 this year, has won six of his past seven races and heads to the Canadian Trotting Classic off a win in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship on Sept. 2 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Other victories include the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and his elimination for the Hambletonian, where he trotted the last quarter in :27.1 -- one-and-three-fifth seconds faster than anyone else -- to beat Atlanta by a neck in a 3-year-old gelding world-record 1:50.1. In the Hambletonian final, Crystal Fashion came home in :27.2, tied with Met's Hall for the best last quarter, but was unable to chase down Atlanta. He finished fourth, beaten by 1-1/4 lengths. "He didn't race as good the second heat as he did the first heat," Campbell said. "He didn't have any particular reason for it, he just wasn't as sharp. But he's put in great races every race for us, other than his second start when he finished second but scoped sick after the race. From that point on he's given us nothing but great efforts." Crystal Fashion has won 12 of 24 lifetime races, hit the board a total of 21 times, and earned $813,474. He came from off the lead in all but one of those career starts. "Racing him that way, you take the risk of somebody getting easy fractions on the front end and you're too far off, but you have to race the horse the way he likes to race too," Campbell said. "That's the way he likes to race. Timmy knows the horse really well and knows best how to race him. He's done a terrific job with him." Eliminations were unnecessary for the Canadian Trotting Classic and Campbell was happy to keep Crystal Fashion home in New Jersey for an extra week. "It was a good thing," Campbell said. "He's just been jogging (during his time off) and he'll train (today). He's been going pretty hard all year. He doesn't need much training." Racing begins at 7:25 p.m. (EDT) with the Metro eliminations. The Peaceful Way follows as race three, the Wellwood race five, Canadian Trotting Classic race seven, and Elegantimage race 10. The She's A Great Lady elims are races six and eight. Complete entries can be found here. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans will receive a special commemorative postcard featuring Hambletonian champion Atlanta. Mohawk Park will also be serving a special drink named "The Atlanta" in its various dining locations and $1 from each drink sold will be donated to the Milton District Hospital Foundation. The second annual New Owners Seminar will be taking place prior to Saturday's card. The seminar is open to the public and anyone interested in learning more about racehorse ownership is invited. The seminar will start at 6 p.m. in the North America Cup room. Following is the field in post-position order for the Canadian Trotting Classic. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Missle Hill-David Miller-Tony Alagna 2-Met's Hall-Andy Miller-Julie Miller 3-You Know You Do-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter 4-For A Dreamer-James MacDonald-Brad Maxwell 5-Lawmaker-Anthony MacDonald-Harry Poulton 6-Alarm Detector-Trevor Henry-Ben Baillargeon 7-Run Director-Sylvain Filion-Ben Baillargeon 8-Fiftydallarbill-Brett Miller-Bill Crone 9-Winning American-Louis Roy-Paul Reid 10-Crystal Fashion-Tim Tetrick-Jim Campbell 11-Zephyr Kronos-Jimmy Takter-Jimmy Takter by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Meadowlands Pace champion Courtly Choice prepped for next week's Little Brown Jug with a 1:52 win in a qualifier Tuesday morning at Harrah's Philadelphia with regular driver David Miller in the sulky. The colt set all the fractions, going :28 to the quarter, :55.4 to the half and 1:24.2 to three-quarters over a surface labeled "good." "The rail wasn't that great, so Dave kept him two wide the whole way," trainer Blake MacIntosh said. "We just wanted to make sure everything was good. Dave couldn't be happier with him, so we're very happy. He was real good. We'll head to the Jug next week." The 73rd Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old pacers is Sept. 20 at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio and is the third jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Stay Hungry won the first two -- the Cane Pace and Messenger Stakes -- and will attempt to become the 11th pacer to complete the sweep. The most recent Pacing Triple Crown winner was No Pan Intended in 2003. Courtly Choice was not staked to the Little Brown Jug, but is eligible to supplement to the race thanks to his win in the Meadowlands Pace. The fee to supplement is $45,000. The colt's owners have already spent nearly $100,000 to supplement to the Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace, where Courtly Choice finished fourth for his only loss in his past seven races. "What's another $45,000?" MacIntosh said with a laugh. "Everybody wants to win the Jug. There are three races that you always want to win: the Meadowlands Pace, the North America Cup, and the Jug. Hopefully we can get two out of three. We'll see what happens." The Little Brown Jug, which contests eliminations and final on the same day, is expected to feature three of North America's top-rated horses. Courtly Choice is ranked No. 5 in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll while North America Cup winner Lather Up is No. 8 and Stay Hungry is No. 10. In the first Little Brown Jug future pool, Lather Up was the 3-1 favorite followed by Courtly Choice at 9-2 and Stay Hungry at 6-1. The second pool opens Sunday. The draw for the Little Brown Jug is Saturday. Courtly Choice will enter the Jug with a three-race win streak while Stay Hungry and Lather Up both have won back-to-back starts and three of their last four. "Those three horses are on top of their games right now," MacIntosh said. "It's going to be an exciting race. I hope the crowd shows up and everybody enjoys it." Courtly Choice has won nine of 12 races this year and earned $655,393 for owners Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms. For his career, the son of Art Major out of Lady Ashlee Ann has won 11 of 24 starts and $708,744. Miller is a four-time winner of the Little Brown Jug -- he got his first with No Pan Intended -- and will be attempting to equal the record for career driving victories in the event. Billy Haughton and Mike Lachance share the mark with five each. MacIntosh will be making his first appearance in the Little Brown Jug. "I know I'll be nervous," MacIntosh said. "It's going to be an exciting day." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Hightstown, NJ --- The top seven positions in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll were unchanged this week, but two pacing colts joined the rankings at Nos. 8 and 10. Lather Up, who won his Ohio Sire Stakes championship with a track-record performance over a sloppy track Saturday at Scioto, returned at No. 8 after two weeks out of the Top 10. Stay Hungry makes his first appearance in the Top 10, at 10th, following his win in a division of the Simcoe Stakes. Lazarus N and Ariana G dropped from the Top 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 Atlanta (21) 3tf 8-6-2-0 $729,074 329 1 2 Manchego (10) 3tf 9-6-2-0 $501,402 294 2 3 McWicked 7ph 12-7-2-1 $902,114 222 3 4 Shartin N 5pm 19-14-1-0 $759,111 217 4 5 Courtly Choice (2) 3pc 12-9-0-0 $655,393 181 5 6 Hannelore Hanover 6tm 10-6-0-3 $307,824 105 6 7 Kissin In The Sand 3pf 11-7-4-0 $599,070 103 7 8 Lather Up (2) 3pc 12-10-0-0 $664,865 93 -- 9 Marion Marauder 5th 9-5-4-0 $444,680 91 8 10 Stay Hungry 3pc 11-5-0-4 $650,000 86 -- by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Jeremy Morrison expected to make his career driving debut with a single drive for trainer Jim Campbell at Harrah's Philadelphia on Aug. 30, but learned from Campbell that morning he was getting a second opportunity later on the card. He appreciated the extra chance. "That was a big relief, knowing I had another drive instead of just having one," Morrison said, adding with a laugh, "Then I could mess up two times instead of once." But there was no messing up. Morrison picked up a check by finishing fifth with 33-1 longshot Thisguyisonfire in his first race, and then picked up his first win by guiding favorite Fashion Forever to victory by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:55.1 in the second. It will be a memory forever for the 28-year-old Morrison. "He's a nice trotting colt, so I knew he would have no problem getting around there," Morrison said about Fashion Forever. "When I went across the wire, it was a good feeling. (Winning) doesn't happen all the time, and when it does, it makes all the work worth it. It was very exciting." Morrison has been with Campbell since January 2017. He was born in Canada, where his parents worked for trainer Bob McIntosh, and moved to Michigan at the age of 8. After graduating high school, Morrison traveled to Florida and got started in harness racing by working for Lindy Farms. Three years later, Morrison moved to Sweden for several months, where he worked for Per Lennartsson. He returned to the U.S. and worked for a year in Indiana for the O'Mara Stable -- during which time he bought his first horse -- and then headed to New Jersey, first working for Jonas Czernyson before Campbell. "I've learned a lot from a lot of people," Morrison said. "I learned to shoe when I was in Sweden and that's when I first started jogging horses. "I want to stay here and learn more. I don't know everything, but I'm eager to learn. I just want to watch, maybe get a few drives, and learn as I go. There is always something new to learn." Morrison enjoys the thrill of seeing the stable's horses compete, whether he is watching from afar or sitting behind them. "I love the feeling of when they go behind the gate," he said. "You get that nervous feeling and your heart starts beating a little faster; the adrenaline starts picking up. You can't do much when you're just watching from the sidelines, it's just very exciting. "To me, it's easier to drive because you're just concentrating on one horse. As soon as I got behind the gate all the nervousness went away and it was just me and my horse. When I'm watching on the screen my heart is really pounding because I can't do anything to help." At this point, though, Morrison is more focused on training than driving, although he has gotten drives this year in qualifiers from trainers such as Czernyson, Ron Burke, Nifty Norman, Andrew Harris, and Clyde Francis. "I've been very lucky," Morrison said. "I've been at the right place at the right time when some drivers weren't (at qualifiers). It makes you feel good when people come to you, it makes you feel important. I appreciate the chances. "I like driving, but I see myself being more of a trainer than a driver. I do enjoy driving. It was fun. I didn't really think about being a driver until I started doing it. The more I drive, the more I like it." And winning doesn't hurt. "No," Morrison said with a laugh. "Not at all." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

McWicked is back to defend his title in Saturday's $250,000 Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers at Scioto Downs, where he will face the hottest horse at the central Ohio oval, Nuclear Dragon. Nuclear Dragon has won his two most recent starts at Scioto, both in the Open, by a total of 9-1/4 lengths for trainer-driver Dan Noble. His 1:48.2 win on Aug. 11 is tied for the fastest mile of the year on a five-eighths-mile track and he heads to the Ewart off a 1:48.3 victory on Sept. 1. Sandwiched between those races, the 6-year-old gelding won the Gene Riegle Memorial by 4-3/4 lengths at the Darke County Fair in Greenville, Ohio. The Ewart is Nuclear Dragon's first appearance in a Grand Circuit stakes. "I think the horse is in maybe the best form he's ever been in," said Noble, who is the leading driver at Scioto Downs and ranks fourth in the trainer standings. "He's definitely a very fast horse, and I think he's got some more in there. This was one way to find out, put him in this race to see kind of what he really is." Noble, who took over the training and driving of Nuclear Dragon in August, said the Ewart would be a gauge whether to supplement the horse to the Sept. 28 Dayton Pacing Derby. The cost to supplement is $15,000. "We've been pretty high on him," Noble said. "He's been a pleasure to be around. He's a nice little horse and does everything you ask of him. He's got a nice demeanor. You can tell when he's having a good day and a bad day. When he's having a bad day, he doesn't play as much in his stall. Lately, in the last two-and-a-half weeks, he's been doing a lot of playing and is happy every day when you go out." For his career, Nuclear Dragon has won 21 of 94 races and earned $271,648. He has won 16 of those races and $227,525 since owner Richard Mishkin bought the horse in September 2016. Nuclear Dragon will start the Ewart from post No. 10, which is in the second tier behind Western Joe in post one. Nuclear Dragon is 9-2 on the morning line, behind 3-1 favorite McWicked and 4-1 Western Joe. "I was disappointed when I saw the 10 hole," Noble said. "But the horse I'm trailing, he can get out of there very well. I feel that I should land in a good spot early in the race." McWicked enters the Ewart off a win in last week's Canadian Pacing Derby at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The 7-year-old stallion has won seven of 11 races this season and is the sport's leading money-earner this year with $885,864. For his career, he has won 29 of 85 starts and $3.20 million for owner S S G Stables. The Canadian Pacing Derby was McWicked's first start following a three-week layoff to deal with a quarter crack in one of his hooves. "Everything is really good," trainer Casie Coleman said. "He had no issues after the last race. He's sound on it. He's been wearing a bar shoe, but I'll race him in a regular shoe. He trained in (the bar shoe) yesterday morning. He trained very good, I was really happy with him. He probably doesn't need to train with the bar shoe, but we're trying to be as cautious as can be because I don't want it to become an issue." McWicked's win in last year's Ewart came in his first appearance at the track. Saturday will be his second. "He's batting a thousand so far," Coleman said. "Hopefully he comes out of there batting a thousand." Saturday's card at Scioto also includes the Ohio Sire Stakes championships and a match race between harness racing's all-time richest horse Foiled Again and local favorite Lucky Lime. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). Following is the field in post-position order for the Ewart Memorial. Introduced in 2013, the race honors the late Jim Ewart, who was the race secretary at Scioto Downs from 1976 through 2002. Ewart, who worked as a race secretary at 18 different tracks in North America, plus Australia and New Zealand, died in 2012. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Western Joe-Chris Page-Christopher Choate-4/1 2-McWicked-David Miller-Casie Coleman-3/1 3-Dr J Hanover-Ronnie Wrenn Jr.-Tony Alagna-10/1 4-All Bets Off-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-12/1 5-Western Fame-Tyler Smith-Jimmy Takter-8/1 6-Split The House-Aaron Merriman-Chris Oakes-6/1 7-Dealt A Winner-Trace Tetrick-Mark Silva-15/1 8-Beckhams Z Tam-Ricky Macomber Jr.-Jamie Macomber-10/1 9-Filibuster Hanover-Tony Hall-Ron Burke-8/1 10-Nuclear Dragon-Dan Noble-Dan Noble-9/2 NOTE: Nuclear Dragon starts from the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

After beginning his harness racing career with seven consecutive wins in Indiana and being sold to new owners last week, 2-year-old male trotter Swandre The Giant will compete on the Grand Circuit for the first time when he races in Saturday's second of two eliminations for the William Wellwood Memorial Stakes at Ontario's Woodbine Mohawk Park. Swandre The Giant, now with trainer Jimmy Takter, has won all seven of his races -- a maiden and six Indiana Sire Stakes events -- by a minimum of one length, with an average margin of three lengths. All seven races were at Hoosier Park, where his career-best time of 1:54.2 is two-fifths of a second off the track record for a 2-year-old male trotter. The colt is now owned by Adam Bowden's Diamond Creek Racing, J&T Silva Stables, and Howard Taylor, who purchased him from the stable of trainer-driver Brandon Bates and owners Panic Stable, Terry Ehardt, Brian Hochman, and Richard Barone. "You always like to have an opportunity to get into these good horses, so when he became available, not that it was a no-brainer, but he had piqued my interest for some time," Bowden said. "It's exciting. It seems like he carries a lot of high speed and it looks like he's done it easily." Swandre The Giant is a son of Swan For All, who sired 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover and 2017 Breeders Crown 2-year-old colt trotting champion Fiftydallarbill. Diamond Creek was among the owners of Swan For All during his racing career and remains part of the stallion's syndicate. The colt's dam, Adagio, was a Kentucky Sire Stakes champion in 2011. "We've been a fan of Swan For All for a long time," Bowden said. "I think he's shown with the right horse he can compete outside of (Indiana). Hannelore is the best trotting mare in the last who-knows-how-many years and Fiftydallarbill has shown he's capable of beating the best everyone else has to offer. "We hope he follows in those footsteps. There's no way to know until they actually do it, but he looked like he had done it relatively easily up to this point and Brandon had done a fantastic job with him. He was in great hands. We figured we might as well take a swing." The Wellwood attracted 17 horses, which were divided into two eliminations. Yannick Gingras will drive Swandre The Giant, who starts from post No. 2 in his division. His elim also includes Pennsylvania Sire Stakes runner-up White Tiger and Define The World Series winner Royal Rob. The first elimination includes Champlain Stakes division winners Kings County, Hudson River and CT Conabra plus Peter Haughton Memorial runner-up Green Manalishi S. The top-five finishers from each elimination advance to the final on Sept. 15 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "I think he's good enough to compete," Bowden said. "We'll find out how good over the next couple weeks. We feel like he belongs up there with that group and he's in the best hands between Jimmy and Yannick, so we're in good shape. You dream, but I've learned to take it one race at a time." Swandre The Giant, who has earned $148,900 in purses, can follow the Wellwood with the remainder of the Indiana Sire Stakes season and is eligible to the Breeders Crown. "He will tell us where he should go and how long he should go for," Bowden said. "Jimmy is a master at this. I can sit and play armchair quarterback from Lexington, Kentucky, but I'm not sure that I'm going to be the deciding factor. Jimmy and his staff will get to know the horse and do right by the horse." Saturday's card also includes two eliminations for the Peaceful Way Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters, two divisions of the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers, and one division of the Simcoe for 3-year-old female pacers. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Aaron Merriman has spent the past several years winning harness races at an unprecedented pace. And his pace has not slowed at all this year, putting the 40-year-old driver in position to make history again. Merriman won eight races Tuesday, four each at The Meadows and Northfield Park, to push his yearly total to 713. He is 201 victories ahead of Ronnie Wrenn Jr. as he attempts to lead North America in wins for the fourth year in a row and extend his record for the most consecutive seasons with at least 800 wins to five. Last year, Merriman became only the fourth driver in history to surpass 1,000 wins in a season, finishing with 1,095. It was the second-best total ever, trailing only Tim Tetrick's 1,189 in 2007. No driver has ever won 1,000 races twice, much less done it in consecutive years. But guess what. Merriman is ahead of last year's pace for victories. Entering Sept. 5 last season, Merriman had 710 wins. "It's exciting," Merriman said. "I do the best I can to focus on each day and not look (at statistics). I guess if it's close, then it's probably attainable. It will definitely be in the back of my mind. If the opportunity continues to be there, hopefully I can knock it out. "I'm sure it will be hard to repeat. No one has ever done it, and it's not because of a lack of talent. I think it's the grind. It gets to you. The work you have to put in and the traveling you have to put in is probably what gets to people more than anything. It's not just about talent. It's your mental state and physical state and being able to stay sharp." Merriman, who lives in Northfield, Ohio, competes primarily at Northfield Park and The Meadows in western Pennsylvania, which is a 270-mile round-trip commute. He has won 437 races at Northfield, where he leads Wrenn by 30 victories in the battle for the track's driving title, and 165 at The Meadows, where he is third in the standings despite competing in fewer races than anyone in the top six at the track. In addition, Merriman has won 65 races at Scioto Downs and had 46 victories at Miami Valley. "The traveling is grueling," Merriman said. "It's hard to always feel at your best. I still have the same love, maybe even more, but being in the car a lot is tough. I try hard every day to bring the same attitude and same enthusiasm and desire. Some days are a little tougher than others, but I fight through it. "I take pride in that, to be able to stay sharp and run the schedule that I do. I'm way more proud of being a hard worker than anything else." Reaching 1,000 wins this year seemed unlikely when The Meadows closed for a month beginning in late January because of an outbreak of equine herpes virus. But Merriman, who has 50 fewer wins at The Meadows compared to this time last season, has overcome the lost time thanks to increased win totals at the other tracks. "I've also chosen to leave The Meadows a little earlier than I used to (to get to the races at Northfield)," Merriman said. "I've been more efficient with the work I've gotten. It's going good. It's nice to be able to go to another racetrack and get a couple quality drives each time you're there. It makes you feel good that people actually want you to drive for them. I'm very appreciative of that." He also made up for lost time by winning 118 races in July, the most for a driver in any month since Tim Tetrick's 121 victories in November 2007. Merriman has won 10,537 races in his 21-year career, with more than half those victories coming in the most recent seven years. He could become the first driver to win four consecutive North American dash titles since Mike Lachance in 1984 through 1987. "For me personally, to put pressure on myself on a daily basis to reach certain numbers is something I've never wanted to do," Merriman said. "I think it helps me to take it day by day. Setting goals is a great thing and can make you work harder, but I think I work hard enough as it is. I try to focus on race to race and day to day. That's the way I've been for a while and I just try to make every day the best I can. "That's not just racing, but in life. My dad always says that every day you wake up it's like Christmas. You've got to treat it that way. It's a blessing." And although Merriman does not compete on the sport's biggest stage -- the Grand Circuit -- on a regular basis, he is more than happy with his place in the sport. "You hear so much about the Grand Circuit all the time, and I've been blessed to participate many times myself, but I honestly feel like I represent the Midwest or the people that are grinding it out every day," Merriman said. "I genuinely feel that way. I'm not representing myself, but what makes this business go around, which is the everyday racing. "Some guys get their names in lights all the time, but I'm happy just to have my name in the program." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Ron Burke is hoping to see a change in Hannelore Hanover for Saturday's Maple Leaf Trot final. Mike Keeling is hoping to see no change in Marion Marauder. Hannelore Hanover, the 2017 Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada, enters the C$651,000 Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park off three consecutive third-place finishes after beginning her campaign with six straight wins. She was beaten by 2-3/4 lengths by Ariana G in her Maple Leaf Trot elimination. A 6-year-old mare, Hannelore Hanover is one of three mares in the final, with 4-year-old Ariana G and 5-year-old Emoticon Hanover. Hannelore Hanover won last year's Maple Leaf Trot and is trying to become the first repeat winner of the event since San Pail, who captured three consecutive trophies in 2009 through 2011. Hannelore Hanover, who has won 42 of 67 career races and $2.75 million, will start from post seven with regular driver Yannick Gingras and is 4-1 on the morning line. She is one of only two horses returning from last year's race. Warrawee Roo is the other. "My horse hasn't been good; I need a big turnaround," said Burke, who trains Hannelore Hanover and owns the mare with the Weaver Bruscemi partnership, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. "We haven't gotten a handle on it yet. She's gone through little lulls before in her career and we've always figured it out. She's a good horse. We'll figure it out. She'll come back around. It's just that I want her to be back by Saturday and I don't know yet what it's going to be. "Post seven doesn't bother me. She can put herself in position, but she needs to be better. End of story." Marion Marauder, trained by the Canadian-based husband-and-wife team of Mike Keeling and Paula Wellwood and owned by Devin Keeling and Jean Wellwood, won his Maple Leaf Trot elimination by a length over Dancer Hall in 1:53.1. He will start the final from post three with regular driver Scott Zeron and is the 3-1 morning-line favorite. "He's having a great week," Mike Keeling said. "He's happy, he's sharp, he's healthy. The weather has been up and down, and that always scares you. We've had some extreme heat and now we've chilled right off. But we can only control what we can control and we're really pleased with how he's going into it." Following Marion Marauder's elimination, Zeron said in the winner's circle he let his horse "coast" to the finish. "It was not a stressful race for him," Keeling said, adding with a laugh, "It was probably more stressful for us to watch than it was for the horse. Scott is so relaxed with him. "He came out of the race fantastic. When you don't have to go to the bottom of the well just to win an elimination it certainly bodes well going into a final." Marion Marauder's appearance in the elimination was the 5-year-old stallion's first race in Canada since an eighth-place finish in last year's Maple Leaf Trot eliminations, when he failed to advance to the final. He has competed in Canada only five times in 30 starts since winning the Goodtimes Stakes at age 3. "He doesn't get to perform as much at home," Keeling said. "It means a lot to win at home. It would be kind of special to do that. This is a great race with a great history. I think only great horses have ever won it. It's a race that means a lot historically and personally. It's not an easy race to win. None of the top ones are, but this one seems really difficult. "This is a really good bunch of trotters. There's early speed, late speed, everything in there. It's interesting for sure." Ariana G, a two-time Dan Patch and O'Brien awards-winner, won her Maple Leaf Trot elimination in 1:52.4 by a neck over Will Take Charge. She is one of two horses in the race for trainer Jimmy Takter, with 2015 Hambletonian winner Pinkman. Saturday's card at Woodbine Mohawk Park also includes the C$600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers, where New Zealand-bred sensation Lazarus is the 7-5 morning-line favorite. Racing begins at 7:10 p.m. (EDT). The Canadian Pacing Derby is race eight, set for 9:45 p.m., and will air on TSN GO during a 9:30-10 p.m. broadcast. The Maple Leaf Trot is race 10, with a 10:35 p.m. post time. Following is the field in post-position order for the Maple Leaf Trot. The connections of elimination winners selected their starting spots. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Crazy Wow-Jody Jamieson-Marcus Melander-10/1 2-Dancer Hall-Sylvain Filion-Paul Reid-5/1 3-Marion Marauder-Scott Zeron-Mike Keeling-3/1 4-Ariana G-David Miller-Jimmy Takter-9/2 5-Will Take Charge-Tim Tetrick-Jeff Gillis-7/2 6-Warrawee Roo-James MacDonald-Luc Blais-10/1 7-Hannelore Hanover-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-4/1 8-Emoticon Hanover-Bob McClure-Luc Blais-12/1 9-Guardian Angel AS-Brett Miller-Anette Lorentzon-12/1 10-Pinkman-Andy McCarthy-Jimmy Takter-20/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Julie Miller endured some difficult moments with trotters Met's Hall and Prospect Hill during the winter and spring, but in the past two months the trainer's trepidation has turned to jubilation. Met's Hall, who struggled with health woes, heads to Saturday's C$169,183 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park off a win in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Open Trot and a second-place finish in the Hambletonian. Unraced prior to mid-July, the colt's $456,773 in purses rank 10th among all horses in North America despite tying for the second-fewest starts (six) of any horse in the top 50. "He was a bit of a challenge," Miller said. "We had to iron out some kinks on his road back. He's a little bit behind the curve, not starting as early as most of the others, but I couldn't be any happier with how he is racing. We just have to hope it continues. He's just fought through his issues and he loves to race." Prospect Hill, who battled maturity issues, heads to Saturday's $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male trotters at The Meadows with a five-race win streak since a third-place debut. He is the sport's fourth-richest 2-year-old male trotter, with $130,167, and tied for the fifth fastest, with a mark of 1:55. Coupled with stablemate Klutzy in the PaSS final, Prospect Hill is the 7-5 morning-line favorite. "He's been a pleasant surprise," Miller said. "He always had talent and ability, but would kind of lose focus and act like a typical juvenile out there on the track. He's got a refined body and nice gait, but he wasn't always thinking about trotting; he was all boy out there. But he's blossomed into a nice horse and done well." Met's Hall, owned by Stroy Inc. and Andy Miller Stable, came into 2018 with high expectations after winning five of 11 races last year and finishing second in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters, but was plagued by soundness issues. Miller consulted with numerous veterinarians and revamped the colt's training program to get him back on track. "I'm very fortunate," Miller said. "I had three or four of the top vets in the country give me guidance. Andy and I kept talking about his training regimen. We put him in the (swimming) pool and changed up how we do things with a trotter. We had to try other things and it seemed to work." Met's Hall, with Andy Miller in the sulky, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday's Simcoe Stakes, which is the final prep for the Canadian Trotting Classic (eliminations Sept. 8; final Sept. 15). The 11-horse field also includes You Know You Do (7-2), Lawmaker (9-2) and Alarm Detector (5-1). The race is part of a Woodbine Mohawk Park card that includes the Canadian Pacing Derby and Maple Leaf Trot. For his career, Met's Hall has won seven of 17 races and earned $723,908. The son of Cantab Hall-Met's Inn finished second to Atlanta in the Hambletonian before winning in a career-best 1:52 in the Zweig, where he led gate-to-wire and fought off a challenge from Six Pack before holding off Manchego by a nose. "We really targeted the Hambletonian with him," Miller said. "To get second, we were very pleased. And to race in the Zweig and hold off Six Pack and Manchego that last quarter, I was really proud of him. I don't think he prefers to race on the front, but he can. I think he's more of a grinder. But it's however the race unfolds." Prospect Hill, a son of Muscle Hill-Louise Kemp, was purchased for $130,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Stroy Inc. He finished third to Peter Haughton Memorial winner Don't Let'em in his debut, but has since won five in a row -- a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars followed by four divisions of the sire stakes. His most recent victory was by a neck, but the rest were by at least one length. "He leaves the gate so effortlessly," Miller said. "Andy said he's really comfortable on the front. I'm just happy he doesn't seem to have to exert a lot so far to race at this level. "And when a horse has come at him, he's responded well. Twice he's done that. I'm glad that he's game and gutsy. Instead of throwing in the towel, he wanted to put his head back in front and win. You like to think you teach them that, but I think it's all on their own. They have to want it and he wants it." The Meadows hosts all four Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-olds. On Sunday, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono hosts the four PaSS finals for 3-year-olds. Morning-line favorites at Pocono are Phaetosive in the female trot, Kissin In The Sand in the female pace, Crystal Fashion in the male trot, and Dorsoduro Hanover in the male pace. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

After a track-record performance in his Messenger Stakes elimination last week, Jimmy Freight will need to overcome the most unfavorable harness racing starting position at Yonkers Raceway -- post No. 8 -- in Saturday's $500,000 final. While that presents a degree of uncertainty regarding the colt's prospects in the race, owner Adriano Sorella is hopeful his horse possesses the skills to get the job done. Jimmy Freight, who won his Messenger elimination in 1:50.3 to become the fastest 3-year-old pacing colt in the track's history, will have regular driver Louis-Philippe Roy in the sulky for trainer Andrew Harris and is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Horses win from post eight at Yonkers at a rate of 4.1 percent. Posts one-through-five at the half-mile oval produce winners at a minimum 15.4-percent clip. "What are you going to do? You draw the eight-hole, you draw the eight-hole," Sorella said. "I'm not thrilled about it, but Louis knows what he's doing and the horse has been super, super sharp. He's a great half-mile horse and we know he can come from off the pace. We'll see how it plays out this weekend." Sorella, who paid $30,000 to supplement Jimmy Freight to the Messenger, would like to see the open draw for eliminations winners eliminated in the future. A number of stakes finals already permit the connections of elim winners to pick post positions for the final or allow elim winners to draw for inside positions prior to the open draw for the remainder of the field. "I knew going into (the Messenger) that it was an open draw, so it's not like it was a big shock to me," Sorella said. "I don't think you should be able to pick your post, but I think elimination winners should draw one-through-five, or something along those lines. If you want competitive eliminations, the elimination winners should get compensated in some way. "I know people will say it's only because we drew the eight-hole, but we've had this conversation all year when we've talked about these half-mile tracks." The Messenger is one of four stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Yonkers. The card also includes the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, which is the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown, as well as the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot and $112,904 Lady Maud. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT) with the stakes events going in succession -- Hudson, Lady Maud, Yonkers Trot, Messenger -- as races four through seven. Stay Hungry, who won the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown, the Cane Pace, will start the Messenger from post six. The final jewel in the Crown, the Little Brown Jug, is Sept. 20 at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio. Springsteen, who drew post one, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, followed by Stay Hungry at 4-1. Babes Dig Me, who won the other Messenger elimination in 1:52.2, is 8-1 from post five. Jimmy Freight, a son of Sportswriter out of Allamerican Summer who was born in Iowa and raced the early part of his career in the Hawkeye State, has won 15 of 25 career races and hit the board a total of 24 times. He has earned $519,274, with all but $6,120 coming since Sorella bought the colt in July 2017. Jimmy Freight won twice in Ontario last year and finished second in the Ontario Sire Stakes championship. He was lightly staked to races at the beginning of this season, leaving Sorella to supplement if he wanted to see Jimmy Freight compete in some of the sport's big events. Sorella paid $61,690 to get Jimmy Freight into the Meadowlands Pace and the horse finished in a dead-heat third in his elimination and fourth in the final. If Jimmy Freight wins the Messenger, he would be eligible to supplement to the Little Brown Jug in September. "We knew he would be good, we just didn't know how good he would be," Sorella said. "Training back, he was in Anthony Beaton's barn. I asked him what he thought when it came time for staking. I watched him train down and he looked good to me. I think we were a little more concerned about the horses coming back that were so strong at (age) 2 that we kind of left him out of a little bit and staked him more toward the end of the year. That kind of bit me. "It's been a fun ride, but it could have been a lot cheaper, that's for sure. But at the end of the day the horse deserves to be in those races and he's showed us that he's one of the top 3-year-olds. This is why you buy horses and you race them, to try to get a good one like this. When you have one, you don't want to think twice about some of the stuff you want to do with them. You want to go to those races so you're not kicking yourself afterwards for not trying." Jimmy Freight's wins this year include four divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes and a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes. He finished third to older rivals Sintra and McWicked in the Gold Cup, where he rallied from eighth place with a :26.3 final quarter-mile. "Maybe he shouldn't have been in there, but we put him in there anyway to give him a race," Sorella said. "He was trying the whole way and closing hard. I like the fact that he's got gate speed or can come from behind. We've seen him on the lead, but some of his better races have come from off the pace. "This horse has got a big heart and nothing really fazes him. He went a big mile the other night. We knew it was coming because he likes the half and he's a pretty handy horse. I don't know if we've seen the bottom to him yet, but I don't think we have." Following is the field for the Messenger in post-position order. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Springsteen-Brian Sears-Rene Allard-3/1 2-Winston-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-20/1 3-Topville Olympian-Jim Morrill Jr.-Chris Oakes-7/1 4-JK Wildfire-Jason Bartlett-Brett Pelling-7/1 5-Babes Dig Me-George Brennan-Tony Alagna-8/1 6-Stay Hungry-Doug McNair-Tony Alagna-4/1 7-Nutcracker Sweet-Jordan Stratton-Jimmy Takter-20/1 8-Jimmy Freight-Louis Roy-Andrew Harris-5/2  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Crazy Wow will make his first start for Marcus Melander in the first of Saturday's two eliminations for the Maple Leaf Trot at Ontario's Woodbine Mohawk Park and the trainer is looking forward to seeing the 6-year-old stallion in action. Melander took over the conditioning of the career $2.27-million-earner in early July. A total of 16 older trotters, including defending champion Hannelore Hanover, entered the Maple Leaf Trot and were split into two eight-horse eliminations. The top-five finishers from each C$40,000 division will return for the C$651,000 final on Sept. 1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Crazy Wow, trained previously by Ron Burke, will start from post three in his elimination with driver Tim Tetrick and is 5-1 on the morning line. Crazy Wow last raced June 30 and enters the elimination off a 1:55.2 win in a qualifier at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Aug. 15. The elimination also includes Marion Marauder, Emoticon Hanover, I Know My Chip, Dancer Hall, Bill's Man, JL Cruze, and Pinkman. Marion Marauder is the 5-2 favorite followed by Dancer Hall, a C$40,000 supplemental entrant, at 3-1. "I'm very excited to see him race," Melander said about Crazy Wow. "It's only the first start for me; I don't really know what to expect from him after only one qualifier. I've been training him a lot, but the other horses are going into the race in full form. He's on his way up. "Hopefully we can make the final because I think he will be much better in the final the week after. But I think he's ready to go with these horses. He hasn't raced for seven or eight weeks, he's not going to be on top of his game, but I think he will do a good race." In the second Maple Leaf Trot elimination, Will Take Charge is the 5-2 favorite followed by Hannelore Hanover at 3-1. The division is completed by Odds On Amethyst, Warrawee Roo, Guardian Angel As, Il Sogno Dream, Ariana G, and Dunbar Hall. Saturday's card also includes three divisions of the Nassagaweya Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers and three divisions of the Eternal Camnation Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers. Crazy Wow is owned by Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, J&T Silva Stables, and Deo Volente Farms. Melander trains multiple other horses for several of the partners. A son of Crazed out of No Pan No Gain, Crazy Wow has won 21 of 64 career races and one of five this season. His win this season came in a preferred handicap at The Meadowlands. He finished third in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, behind Hannelore Hanover and Will Take Charge, and third in the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational, behind Will Take Charge and Marion Marauder. "He's a very nice horse to be around," Melander said. "Even though he's a stud, he's like a gelding to be around. He's a little lazy in training. I didn't know really where I had him before we qualified because at home he's very comfortable. "In the qualifier, when we went behind the gate, he really stepped up. You could feel he was the racehorse you thought he would be. But at home he is very laid back." Melander drove Crazy Wow in his qualifier. "I always like to drive my horses in their first qualifier, at least," Melander said. "Especially if it's a new horse, so I can feel if I want to do any changes. I didn't really know what to expect from him in the qualifier, but it was a good qualifier. He went a (1):55 mile pretty good and I was happy with him." Melander has spent the past several weeks getting to know Crazy Wow and tinkering with his equipment. "We changed a little shoeing," Melander said. "I qualified him with an open bridle. I know he had cups before; maybe we put something on his head as well because he is very laid back. You try to do some changes, do what you think is best. Every trainer trains differently. We trained him the way we train our horses. It feels like he is happy. "There are a lot of big races left, so I think he could have a good next couple of months." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

After seeing Wild Bill suffer an injury at age 2 and from bleeding issues this year at 3, trainer Ray Schnittker hopes his colt is ready to turn the corner beginning in Saturday's eliminations for the Messenger Stakes at Yonkers Raceway. Wild Bill, a full brother to Dan Patch Award-winner Huntsville, adds Lasix for his upcoming race following off-the-board finishes in his past two starts. For his career, he has won three of eight races and earned $58,391 for Schnittker, who bred Wild Bill with the late Charlie Iannazzo and remains the owner of the colt. "He hadn't been racing that well," Schnittker said. "We scoped him and he was bleeding pretty badly so we put him on Lasix. I think it's going to make a big difference. He trained very well on it and I think it'll be a factor. It seems like it really made a difference, but we're going to find out quickly on Saturday." The Messenger Stakes is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Stay Hungry won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, on Aug. 4 at The Meadowlands. The final jewel, the Little Brown Jug, is Sept. 20. Stay Hungry and Wild Bill were among 11 horses entered in the Messenger. The top-four finishers from each of Saturday's two $40,000 eliminations advance to the $500,000 final on Sept. 1 at Yonkers. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT), with the Messenger eliminations as races five and six. Wild Bill won the first two races of his career -- including a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division that included future open-stakes-winners Nutcracker Sweet, Hayden Hanover, and Dorsoduro Hanover -- before consecutive fifth-place finishes that proved to be his final starts of the season. "He got a leg injury so we had to quit with him," Schnittker said. "He came back a hundred percent on that." Wild Bill is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Schnittker's mare Wild West Show, who has produced stakes-winners Stevensville, Cowboy Terrier, Beachesofcheyenne, and Huntsville. In 2016, Huntsville paced a world-record-equaling 1:49 mile and was named best 2-year-old male pacer. In 2017, he won the Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace before retiring in October because of injury. His best win time of the season, 1:47.4, led all 3-year-old pacers. "He's definitely not Huntsville, but he's a pretty nice colt," Schnittker said about Wild Bill. "He's a lot smaller horse, but he's the same type of horse -- he wants to go. He's just nice to drive, two fingers and does everything right. He's a little smarter horse probably than Huntsville. I don't know if he's as fast. I think I'd rather have fast than smart." Wild Bill has a full stakes schedule ahead of him and Schnittker hopes the issues that have hampered the colt are things of the past. "If he can put it together here a little bit, I'd be tickled to death if he could hit the board in the final, we'll see what happens," said Schnittker, who will drive Wild Bill on Saturday. "I'd be surprised if he's not kind of right there. I'm looking for a strong second half of the year." Following are the fields for the eliminations of the Messenger. Jimmy Freight was supplemented for $30,000. First elimination: 1. Babes Dig Me, George Brennan, Tony Alagna, 3-1; 2. Wild Bill, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker, 12-1; 3. JK Wildfire, Jason Bartlett, Brett Pelling, 7-2; 4. Topville Olympian, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 3-1; 5. Nutcracker Sweet, Jordan Stratton, Jimmy Takter, 3-2. Second elimination: 1. Springsteen, Brian Sears, Rene Allard, 5-2; 2. Winston, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 8-1; 3. Decoy, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter, 9-1; 4. Jimmy Freight, Louis Roy, Andrew Harris, 9-5; 5. Stay Hungry, Doug McNair, Tony Alagna, 2-1; 6. Kwik Talkin, Jordan Stratton, Rob Harmon, 20-1. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Dexter Dunn is only 28 years old, but his accomplishments as a harness racing driver belie his age. The New Zealand native, who arrived in the U.S. last week to spend the next several weeks (at least) competing in North America, won his first race a dozen years ago and has continued to accumulate victories at a record pace in his homeland. A native of Christchurch, Dunn led New Zealand's premiership in wins for 10 consecutive years from 2008 through 2017. During that span, he won at least 200 races on six occasions and twice finished with 199. He was the only New Zealand driver to win at least 200 races in a season prior to this year, when he saw his record of 229 victories toppled by friend Blair Orange. Orange finished 2017-18 with 232 wins, followed by Dunn with 213. Dunn already ranks fifth in New Zealand history with 2,225 wins. Tony Herlihy is No. 1 with 3,456. Dunn was the youngest driver to both 1,000 and 2,000 wins, and the youngest, at the age of 18, to win a Group 1 race in New Zealand. In 2015, Dunn represented his country in the World Driving Championship and drove off with the trophy. Harness racing is a family affair for the Dunns. Dexter's father, Robert, is among the top trainers in wins in New Zealand history, with 1,374, and last year set a career high for purses with $1.37 million while finishing second in victories in the premiership. Dexter's brother, John, also is an accomplished driver, with nearly 1,000 wins. He has finished in the premiership's top five each of the past six seasons. Dunn was invited to drive in the U.S. this summer by trainer Chris Ryder, a longtime family friend. Dunn drove in the States in 2011 as part of an extended visit that included participating in the U.S.-hosted World Driving Championship and in Canada in 2017, again in the WDC. He finished fourth both times. For his career in North America, Dunn has won nine of 141 races and $174,266 in purses. So far this visit, Dunn has raced at Yonkers and Harrah's Philadelphia. He drives again tonight at Yonkers and tomorrow at Philly. Dunn spoke recently with Ken Weingartner, the media relations manager for the U.S. Trotting Association, about his career, proudest moments, visiting the U.S. last year to play rugby, and another recent Stateside arrival, New Zealand-bred champion pacer Lazarus. KW: Your dad is an accomplished horseman, so how old were you when you started working with the horses? DD: When I was young, my dad stopped training for about four or five years, probably when I was about (ages) 6 to 11. So in that period, I really had nothing to do with horses. Then he started training again when I was about 11. When he first started back, he just had a couple horses. He got me out of school one day because he needed me to go with him to the beach, he was taking them to the beach, to work the horses. From that day on, I was back into it. From then on it was just horses, horses, horses. KW: Working the horses on the beach has to be pretty cool. DD: Yeah, it's nice. I think the horses enjoy it too. It's good for them. They walk in the water afterwards. KW: Is this what you've wanted to do from then on? DD: It gets in your blood. Once you get attached to horses it's pretty hard to get away from it. I left school when I was 16. We took some horses to Auckland for six weeks from Christchurch and then I got a job in Australia for three months and ended up staying there for another year. KW: How old were you when you started driving? DD: I was 17. My first win was in Australia. I spent six months driving over there and then came home. KW: Have you ever had another job? DD: I was a milk boy when I was a kid. (Laughs.) I would jump off the truck and deliver the milk bottles to the door. It was good after-school money. KW: What made you decide to come to the U.S. now? DD: I spent three months here seven years ago. The World Driving Championship was here and I came over two months before. I really enjoyed it. It's always been on my mind, but you get back home and you're busy most of the year and in your routine. Chris went home a few months ago for his niece's wedding and we started talking about it again. I woke up one day, I was on my way to qualifiers, and I decided I was going to come over. That was it. Why not? I'm not getting any younger. If I'm going to do it, now is probably the right time. KW: What is your plan? DD: I've got no set plan. I'll see how it goes. I want to do a little bit of looking around too. Like, I've never been to the Little Brown Jug. Whether I'm driving or not, I want to go and have a look at it. I want to work and do the driving, but it's a little bit of a break from racing at home too. There's no set plan when I'm going back. If I go home, it would probably have to be in mid-October. We'll see how things go. KW: Would you stay for the Breeders Crown? That's not until the end of October. DD: If I'm here until the Breeders Crown, I'm probably not going home. Our big meeting, we have New Zealand Cup Week, and that's the second week of November. That's our biggest week of the year, really. If I'm at the Breeders Crown, I'm missing Cup time. I'm pretty lucky. I've got all my supporters at home and then I come over here and Chris and (his wife) Nicola are looking after me, putting me on horses. It's a pretty lucky situation. Real lucky. KW: You've come over here, and I'm sure you want to show people what you can do, so is it difficult to be patient and not want to over-drive horses or anything like that? DD: It's probably a little bit hard, I think. You just have to let things happen. It's probably hard because I sort of haven't come over here unnoticed. But I don't worry too much about things like that. I try not to put too much pressure on myself; it's not the way I am. I knew coming over here it wasn't going to be easy. You can't come over and just expect to be driving good ones. But I was looking forward to it. I'm really looking forward to a new challenge, something different. You have the same routine day in and day out and this is almost like starting again. KW: What is the biggest challenge? DD: Knowing the horses. You have to study up. You can read the lines, but you don't really know much about the horses or the competition. You have to pick up on it pretty quick. But everyone over here is really good, they look after you. KW: Will you do more studying? DD: I've always been quite keen on studying the fields, but I'll probably do more. At home I know all the horses, so I could probably do a field a lot quicker than I could here. KW: Is the driving style here a lot different than home? DD: It's different, but the gap has closed a lot. Our racing at home, the times are just dropping readily. It's kind of that up-front tempo. It's hard to come from the back now. You used to be able to come from last and win a race, but now it's changed a lot. KW: How would you describe yourself as a driver? DD: It's hard to say. It's really horses for courses, I guess. Competitive is probably the top one. KW: Do you turn the page quickly or carry things with you? DD: When I was younger I was really hard on myself. I'd go home and think about a bad race and it would worry me. But over the years, it's completely gone. I think if you can't turn the page it's bad. The minute you scuff up, you know and everyone else knows, so you just turn the page and move on to the next race. You win the next one and it's forgotten about. KW: What are you most looking forward to over here? DD: The challenge. And I know a lot of people, I've met a lot of people over here from over the years, so it will be good to catch up with them. I just want to have a good time. KW: With all you've accomplished so far in your career, what are you most proud of? DD: I think my biggest achievement was in 2009. I won the Canterbury Sportsman of the Year. I beat a fella named Richie McCaw. He was the All Blacks (national team) captain for two World Cup wins. Probably on the top of the list of New Zealand heroes, he's it for playing rugby. He's a hero to me. To beat him in that was pretty special. Winning the World Driving Championship was cool too. That's right up there as well. KW: What do you most enjoy about the sport? DD: The people. I love the people. I've driven in six different countries now and everywhere you go you meet great people. You really do. I'd never had met these people in any other job. I probably wouldn't have gotten out of New Zealand. And then winning, of course. KW: Was it tough to see your record for wins (in a season) broken? DD: No. (Blair Orange) is one of my closest mates. It's OK. Change is good. I didn't mind. KW: Growing up, did you play other sports? DD: I played rugby my whole life. I was still playing last year. My team, the West Melton Warthogs, went to Aspen, Colorado, in September of last year and played in a rugby tournament there (Aspen Ruggerfest). That was really cool. That was probably the experience of a lifetime, going there and playing. And Aspen is a beautiful place. It's good to play rugby. It's a different group of people and you can get away from horses and horse talk for that little period of time. It's good to freshen up. I didn't play this year because I was busy. My body doesn't like it much when I play. You always wake up on a Sunday morning, it's a good hurt, but it's sore. Your body doesn't bounce back like it does when you're a teenager. KW: Well, it's great for us to see you come over here and drive. First Lazarus arrives, and now you. DD: I'm sure Lazarus will make more of an impression over here than I will. He's an awesome horse. I had to race against him a bunch of times, which stunk because he was so good. He was always so hard to get past. You might think you had him beat at the top of the stretch, but by the end of it he'd get away from you again. I don't think he's ever lost when he's been in front in his whole career. He is a champion horse. KW: Did you ever drive him? DD: No. I got to pet him once. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Hightstown, NJ --- There were no newcomers in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, but some shifting of positions. Empire Breeders Classic winner Courtly Choice moved from No. 8 to No. 5 in the rankings while Lather Up, who won a division of the Ohio Sire Stakes, improved from 10th to eighth. Artiscape winner Shartin N did not move in the poll, but did close the gap on No. 2 Hannelore Hanover to one point. Atlanta, who was idle, remained No. 1. 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 Atlanta (31) 3tf 7-6-1-0 $703,234 346 1 2 Hannelore Hanover (2) 6tm 8-6-0-2 $281,571 259 2 3 Shartin N (1) 5pm 18-14-1-0 $759,111 258 3 4 Manchego 3tf 8-5-2-0 $449,722 200 4 5 Courtly Choice 3pc 11-8-0-0 $612,018 153 8 6 McWicked 7ph 10-6-2-1 $654,864 144 5 7 Lazarus N (1) 6ph 1-1-0-0 $156,500 107 6 8 Lather Up 3pc 11-9-0-0 $527,365 85 10 9 Marion Marauder 5th 7-4-3-0 $316,494 80 7 10 Kissin In The Sand 3pf 8-5-3-0 $403,822 71 9 Also: Youaremycandygirl (69); Ariana G (59); Crystal Fashion (14); Stay Hungry (11); Dorsoduro Hanover (9); Met’s Hall, Will Take Charge, Wolfgang (7); Captain Ahab, Filibuster Hanover (6); De Los Cielos Deo, Don’t Let’em, Six Pack (4); Beckhams Z Tam, Swandre The Giant (3); Risk N, Thinkbig Dreambig (2); Melodies Major, Phaetosive, Plunge Blue Chip, The Ice Dutchess, Write Me A Song (1). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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