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East Rutherford, NJ - The top three in Dave Little's Road to the Meadowlands Pace were unchanged from start to finish. Making the loudest statement during the five weeks was Allywag Hanover, who went from unknown at the start of the poll all the way to No. 4 in the final Top 10.   Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($726,889 – 1:47.4) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Took last week off after his incredible 1:47.4 win at The Big M on June 27. Has been top-ranked in the Top 10 every week. Departs from post 3 Saturday night in the lone Meadowlands Pace Elimination. Takter: “He trained well Wednesday morning. He’s happy, fresh and ready to go.” Will those who raced last week have an edge on your horse? “Maybe for this week, but not the week after that.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW$22,500 – 1st (1:47.4) 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($758,274 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Went a big mile in his seasonal debut July 4, finishing a close second after a troubled-trip from post 10. His pill-drop luck remains lousy: He has drawn post 10 for the elim. Pelling: “He did everything he could. He paced home in :25.1 and i don’t think he got pacing until he was in the stretch. [Now that he’s had a race] I can tell he’s in racehorse mode.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW$14,000 – 2nd (1:49.3) 3 Capt Midnight ($306,038 – 1:49.3) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  A sharp McCarthy steer led to an inside-route 1:49.3 winner’s circle visit holding off Papi Rob. Can a third-ranked horse fly under the radar? Given the press clippings of the top two, this one has. In the elim, he leaves from post 9. Alagna: “I was very happy with the way he raced. Saturday, he’s going to have to float out of there a little bit, and you hope he doesn’t have to overdo it. It’s a tough bunch of horses.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW$14,000 – 1st (1:49.3) 4 Allywag Hanover ($44,483 – 1:48)   T. Tetrick, B. Pelling Allywag Stable    If you did not see it, do yourself a favor and watch Allywag Hanover’s win last week, where he was shot out of a cannon in the stretch to win in 1:48. Trainer opted to take the bye and go straight to next week’s Pace final, but surprisingly, this horse is racing this week, in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action at Philadelphia on Friday. Pelling: “He’s light on the ground and has high speed. And now, he’s manageable. I got him January 15 and he went from wearing the kitchen sink to being rigged up like a good horse.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 1st (1:48) 5 Captain Barbossa  ($133,313 – 1:51.2) B. Sears,, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Missed a head to Allywag after McCarthy opted to go the short way (like he did with Capt Midnight) in a sharp mile, his second straight second-place finish of the season. Alagna: “Andy dropped down to the inside and did not have the momentum of the winner after having to check twice in the stretch. I think the two were comparable.” Has post 2 Saturday night. Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 2nd (1:48) 6 Catch The Fire ($260,047 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables First outing of the season was a constructive one, finishing third to Allywag Hanover. Meadows regular Mike Wilder will pilot the horse from post 8 in the elim. Ackley: “I was impressed with my horse, it being his first start. Once he saw horses in the stretch, he took off. It’s going to be tough, but i think he’ll be fine.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 3rd (1:48.1) 7 Major Betts ($153,390 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost    D. Miller, B. Pelling Allywag Stable  Trainer opted to race instead of taking the bye as the high money-earner this year in the field. Has drawn post 1 for the elim. Harder: “Maybe he’s a bit ahead of where I thought he’d be. I probably should have entered [Thursday] at Vernon in the Sire Stakes [instead of racing in the Pace Elim] just to race in a little easier spot, but I’m OK with what happened. If we can’t finish in the top 8 [in the elim], we don’t deserve to be in the final.”   Last Race: 6/28 – TgDn – NYSS – 1st (1:49.4) 8 Chief Mate ($65,507 – 1:50)   G. Napolitano Jr., T. Alagna Brittany Farms LLC, Marvin Katz,  Brad Grant, Captain Kirk Racing    Makes his debut in the Top 10, but don’t look for him at the Big M Saturday. He and Allywag Hanover are the two horses who opted to take the bye and this one will also race in PaSS at Philadelphia Friday. Alagna: “It was easier to get him raced in Pennsylvania, that’s why he’s been there. I think he’ll be fine moving back to the big track for The Pace.”   Last Race: 7/4 – PcD – NW6 – 1st (1:50) 9 Manticore ($180,335 – 1:52.2) J. Stratton, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing    Three starts, three good efforts in 2020. Bona fide closer will prosper whenever there is action up front. From post 4 Saturday, he should be able to finish in the top 8 to get a spot in the Pace Final. Saunders: “There is going to be some action up front [in The Pace Final], being a horse who can come from off the pace can be advantageous. Hopefully, we will be there.” Last Race: 7/4 – M1 – NW4 – 5th (1:48.3) 10 Roll With Jr ($176,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J.Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher    Won a 3-year-old event at Cullipher’s home track, Hoosier Park, in speed fashion, in a very encouraging first betting start of the season before taking last week off. Cullipher: “He is at The Meadowlands, we made the payments and we entered him. Went a trip with him Wednesday and he went very well. We are pointed in the right direction.” Has post 6 Saturday. Last Race: 6/26 – HoP – The Star Destroyer – 1st (1:51.2)

They might not be standard for a harness racing pacer, but Jeff Cullipher has a good idea what his 3-year-old Roll With JR will need to wear in Saturday's lone Meadowlands Pace elimination. "I hope he can put his big-boy pants on," Cullipher said with a laugh. Roll With JR was among a dozen 3-year-old male pacers entered in the Meadowlands Pace. Two horses, Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate, advanced to the final courtesy of byes based on seasonal earnings. The top-eight finishers in Saturday's $50,000 elimination at The Meadowlands Racetrack will join them in the $631,650 final July 18. The elimination field includes returning Dan Patch Award-winner Tall Dark Stranger, who in his only start this year defeated older horses in 1:47.4 at the Big M. The time is tied for the fastest mile of the season. Also in the field is last season's richest 2-year-old male pacer, Papi Rob Hanover, who finished second to multiple Grand Circuit winner Capt Midnight in their only start of 2020. Roll With JR, who finished second to Meadowlands Pace hopeful Catch The Fire in last year's Kentucky Sire Stakes championship, will be making his first trip to The Meadowlands since finishing third in a 2-year-old qualifying race there on June 22, 2019. He heads to the elimination off a 1:51.2 win in his seasonal debut at Harrah's Hoosier Park. For his career, the colt has won four of 12 races and $176,516. His wins last year included a division of the Bluegrass Stakes. "He was such a green horse (last year) I never felt like he reached his full potential," the Indiana-based Cullipher said. "But he went a couple decent miles and showed that he can. He kind of grew into himself over the winter; he's developed and is kind of a nice-sized colt. "He's still the kind of colt that's only going to do what he's made to do. I know I don't have a (1):48 mile in him yet, I don't even know if he could do it. I'd like to think he could step it up with the better horses." Cullipher owns Roll With JR, a son of Roll With Joe out of No One Is Alone, with Pollack Racing. Cullipher and Tom Pollack have been increasing their presence on the Grand Circuit in recent years. "It's exciting," Cullipher said. "Me and Tom are starting to step into these races a little bit. We're just having fun right now. "This might be a one-shot deal, I don't know, but so far I'm happy." Another horse making his first trip of the season to The Meadowlands for the elimination is Major Betts. The Mark Harder-trained colt prepped with qualifiers at Gaitway Farm and Harrah's Philadelphia before winning his only 2020 start in the New York Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs on June 28. Major Betts defeated favorite Splash Brother by three lengths in 1:49.4, the fastest mile of the young season by a 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track. "I trained him Tuesday morning and I thought he was super," Harder said. "I couldn't be happier with him." Harder had an opportunity to accept one of the two byes for the Meadowlands Pace but decided against it. "I couldn't be off three weeks going into the final, that would not make sense at all," Harder said. "He needs the work." Major Betts, a son of Art Major out of Southwind Johanne, has won five of 12 lifetime starts and $153,390 for owners Harder, Joseph Jannuzzelli, and Deena Rachel Frost. His wins last year included divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and Tompkins-Geers. "He was just always fast, he was just beautifully gaited," said Harder, who won the 2004 Meadowlands Pace with Holborn Hanover. "He was a colt that had one of those gaits that he just didn't work at it. He did everything pretty easy. "A couple of times last year he did some silly colt things. This year, he acts more professional. He drives like an old horse. It's probably a little bit of rigging, a little bit of growing up, a little bit of everything. Hopefully it's a bit of good management. It might just be good luck." Harder wouldn't turn down any good luck in the upcoming weeks. "A lot of (the 3-year-olds) are very impressive," Harder said. "Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover are very good, Allywag Hanover has been very impressive. They've been racing at The Meadowlands and times there have been crazy. "We beat a horse that looked pretty impressive, Splash Brother. It's a completely different class, but it shows we're there and we're competitive. Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover are the two standouts for sure, but there are a lot of really, really good horses. Nothing is easy." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at The Meadowlands. The 13-race card also includes $250,000 Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old pacers and trotters and divisions of the Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old trotters. For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

This Week: Graduate Series finals, Meadowlands Pace elimination, W.N. Reynolds Memorial and Miss Versatility leg, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. and MGM Springfield Stakes final, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: This week's Grand Circuit racing will open on Friday (July 10) at The Meadowlands with the $40,000 second leg of the Miss Versatility for open trotting mares. Cutler Memorial champion Atlanta leads a field of nine into this race. The Saturday (July 11) card at The Meadowlands features the $250,000 Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old open pacers and trotters; a single $50,000 Meadowlands Pace elimination for 3-year-old pacers; the $61,000 Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters; and two divisions in the $88,800 Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters. Yonkers Raceway will host the $104,250 MGM Springfield Stakes final for 2-year-old pacing colts next Monday (July 13). A pair of elimination races for the stake were held this past Monday. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: In what is now unquestionably harness racing's best rivalry, Atlanta bested Manchego in Saturday night's (July 4) $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free-for-allers at The Meadowlands in round two of the rabid duel between the top two trotters in training. Atlanta bested Manchego in Saturday night's (July 4) $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free-for-allers at The Meadowlands. Lisa photo. Two weeks ago, Manchego held off Atlanta by a nose in the Miss Versatility in the fastest trotting mile of the year of 1:50. Things panned out similarly this time around, except that Atlanta got the better of her foe. Atlanta (post five) was the first away from the gate and led into the first turn. Driver Yannick Gingras was willing to yield to Manchego (post six) and Dexter Dunn, but not before extending that one ever so slightly into a sizzling opening quarter of :25.4. "Maybe not :25.4," was Gingras' response when asked about the fast opening fraction. "I didn't think we'd be going that fast. I definitely wanted to stretch her out. I had drawn inside of her and wanted to take advantage of it." That took just enough starch out of the even-money choice. While rating the middle half, Manchego took a stiff challenge from 17-1 longshot Chin Chin Hall, who was on even terms with the leader while parked at three-quarters in 1:23.1. Once straightened away in the stretch, Manchego and Atlanta - who opted to get behind Chin Chin Hall coming out of the far turn before swerving three-wide into the lane - would once again duke it out, just as they did on June 19. In deep stretch, it would be Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner, prevailing by a half-length in 1:50.1, just a fifth of a second slower than round one. Lindy The Great rallied to get third. "There were some anxious moments around the last turn," said Gingras. "We were going pretty slow, and there was strategy on both sides. He was trying to keep me locked in. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze out. I thought I had it won at the top of the stretch when I cleared." The Ron Burke-trained Atlanta, a 5-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip, returned $5.40 as the 8-5 second choice in the wagering. She's won 21 of 41 career starts for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor, and became harness racing's newest double millionaire, as her earnings swelled to $2,006,089. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 95; 2. Tim Tetrick - 52; 3. Dexter Dunn - 47; 4. Brian Sears - 42; 5. Aaron Merriman - 30. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 160; 2. Marcus Melander - 34; 3t. Nifty Norman - 20; 3t. Norm Parker - 20; 3t. Nancy Takter - 20. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 32.1; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 27.1; 3. J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby - 23.8; 4. Black Horse Racing - 20; 5. L & L Stables - 12. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will once again be taking place next weekend at The Meadowlands. The massive July 18 Meadowlands card will offer the Meadowlands Pace final, the William Haughton Memorial, the Hambletonian Maturity, the Stanley Dancer Trot, the Del Miller Memorial, the Mistletoe Shalee, the Dorothy Haughton Memorial and the third leg of the Miss Versatility. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA, is excited to announce their line-up for Thursday (July 9) at 10:30 a.m. Guests include Mark Harder, Jessica Otten, and Seth Dowling. Harder joins the program to talk about his 3-year-old star Major Betts who entered the Meadowlands Pace this weekend. The connections declined the bye into the final, the pair will find out what went into that decision and how Major Betts is training leading up to the big weekend. Otten will join to discuss all the happenings at The Meadowlands over the next couple of weeks, along with giving some insight on the elimination set to take place on Saturday evening. Mike and Mike will also talk to Seth Dowling about the wager warriors livestream set to take place on Thursday evening, presented by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at https://www.blogtalkradio.com/ptmikeandmike. by Michael Carter, for Post Time  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With a limited number of 12 harness racing horses having dropped into the entry box, there will only be one Meadowlands Pace Elimination necessary on this Saturday (July 11) night's program at the Big M. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Two horses - Chief Mate and Allywag Hanover - took byes and will automatically go in the July 18 big-money final for 3-year-old open pacers. Conditions call for those with the highest earnings this season getting the option to skip the elim. Trainer Mark Harder wanted Major Betts to race, so he's in this Saturday. As a result, Chief Mate and Allywag Hanover, who were next in line in 2020 earnings, took a free pass to the final. The elimination has a field of 10, with the first eight in official order of finish advancing to the $631,650 final. The elimination winner will get a major perk: That horse will draw a post position from one through six. Tall Dark Stranger has drawn post three in the elim. The Nancy Takter trainee's only start this year resulted in a national season's-best equaling mile of 1:47.4. The Brett Pelling-schooled Papi Rob Hanover, second in his 2020 debut a week ago after a tough trip from post 10, once again was luckless at the pill drop, having drawn the 10 hole for a second straight start. The field for Saturday night's Meadowlands Pace Elimination in post position order, with horse (and driver): Major Betts (D. Dunn), Captain Barbossa (A. McCarthy), Tall Dark Stranger (Y. Gingras), Manticore (J. Stratton), Captain Kirk (D. Dunn), Roll With Jr (T. Tetrick), Mocha On The Rocks (S. Zeron), Catch The Fire (W. Wilder), Capt Midnight (A. McCarthy), Papi Rob Hanover (D. Miller). Also on Saturday's program are a pair of $250,000 Graduate Finals. The open events for 4-year-olds - one for pacers and one on the trot - both have full fields of 10. The trot has double Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes champion Gimpanzee as the one with the target on his back. He's been ultra-impressive in winning both of his starts this year - each of which were Graduate preliminaries - by scoring once on the front end and once from well off the pace. The field for the Graduate Final for trotters in post position order, with horse (and driver): Chin Chin Hall (D. Dunn), Kings County (D. Miller), Gimpanzee (B. Sears), Winnerup (T. Smedshammer), Explosivebreakaway (T. Tetrick), Southwind Avenger (A. McCarthy), Goes Down Smooth (No Driver), Pure Chance (No Driver), Grand Swan (T. Tetrick), Reign Of Honor (D. Miller). Bettor's Wish was the top money-earning horse in harness racing a year ago with over $1.6 million in the bank, and despite drawing post 10, will likely be the post-time favorite in the Graduate for pacers off his 1:48.2 off-the-pace win a week ago at the Meadowlands in the series' final leg. The field for the Graduate Final for pacers in post-position order, with horse (and driver): Century Farroh (D. Miller), Shamwow (J. Stratton), Workin Ona Mystery (T. Tetrick), Dancin Lou (B. Sears), Hurrikane Emperor (M. MacDonald), Aflame Hanover (D. Miller), Captain Victorious (Y. Gingras), Brassy Hanover (S. Zeron), Bllack Hole (T. Tetrick), Bettor's Wish (D. Dunn). From the Meadowlands Media Department  

East Rutherford, NJ - With just one week until the eliminations, there are two new names on Dave Little's Road to the Meadowlands Pace. While the top six are unchanged from a week ago, Allywag Hanover and Captain Kirk make their debuts in the poll at Nos. 7 and 10, respectively. Second-ranked Papi Rob Hanover makes his seasonal debut Saturday. Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($726,889 – 1:47.4) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Any doubts about how ready he is were squashed after his 1:47.4 dismantling of older foes Saturday night. The time equaled the fastest of the year in the sport. Takter: “I knew he had that in him. He did it very easily without much effort. The fact that he did it in his first start, that surprised me.” Next stop: The Pace Elims on July 11. Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW$22,500 – 1st (1:47.4) 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($754,774 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Will make his 2020 debut Saturday night in a tough spot in the Big M’s 11th race. Has drawn post 10 against a good field of upper mid-range conditioned – and with one exception, older – foes. Pelling: “I’m looking for a nice clean race Saturday. There has never been a glitch [in his season]. The only glitch has been the schedule. My horse will thrive [racing for several weeks in a row]. I don’t have to protect him. He’s going to recover well naturally. Racing will turn him on.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – Qualifier – 1st (1:50.3) 3 Capt Midnight ($299,038 – 1:49.4) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  The only other 3-year-old in the 11th race Saturday did better at the post draw than Papi did, getting the 4. Alagna: “It’s always tough for 3-year-olds to face older. But he’s had a good week and we are looking forward to getting that first start in.” Last Race: 6/22 – Gaitway – Qualifier – 1st (1:51) 4 Catch The Fire ($258,547 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables    Four of the Top 10 are in the 5th race Saturday at the Meadowlands. Catch The Fire drew best of the lot, leaving from the 6 hole. Ackley: “He’s aggressive and loves what he’s doing. He loves to compete and he’ll probably go more than we hope for him. The plan is to race him some but we just want to get a real good tightener in him.” Last Race: 6/18 – Mea – Qualifier – 1st (1:52.1) 5 Captain Barbossa  ($130,188 – 1:51.2) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Will depart from post 10 in Race 5 Saturday. Alagna: “We took last week off by design. We need to get another nice start in him. He had a good week but the 10 hole is a pain.” Barbossa was a good second in his last race on June 20 after being pushed three-wide off the turn. Last Race: 6/20 – M1 – NW4 – 2nd (1:50.4) 6 Major Betts ($153,390 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost    Sped past Schnittker standout – and 2-5 favorite – Splash Brother at Tioga to win in 1:49.4 by 3 lengths on Sunday. Very impressive! Harder: “The colt raced right up to expectations. It looks like we are right on track. I think he’s pretty much spot on.”   Last Race: 6/28 – TgDn – NYSS – 1st (1:49.4) 7 Allywag Hanover ($38,233 – 1:48.2) D. Miller, B. Pelling Allywag Stable  Burst onto the Meadowlands Pace scene with an eye-popping 1:48.2 score at the Big M last Saturday after flying home in :26.2. He’ll be the favorite from post 8 in Saturday’s 5th race. Pelling: “[I was not] at all surprised by his mile last week. He was sensational in his qualifier the week before. He’s got sheer speed. He’s the real deal. If he’s not one the best five [horses] in the Pace, I’ll give the game away.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW4 – 1st (1:48.2) 8 Manticore ($179,710 – 1:52.2) D. Miller, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing  Distinguished himself for a second straight start, this time sprinting home in :26.2 to grab second to Allywag Hanover Saturday night. Leaves from post 7 in Saturday’s Race 5. This horse is a bon fide closer. Saunders: “I expect him to race well this week. Next week [in the elims], I hope he’s in a spot from where he can qualify for the [Meadowlands Pace] final. There are four or five horses that have a much better resume than him, but if he gets the right trip, anything can happen.” Last Race: 6/27 – M1 – NW4 – 2nd (1:48.3) 9 Roll With Jr ($176,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J.Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher  Won a 3-year-old event at Cullipher’s home track, Hoosier Park, in speed fashion, in a very encouraging first betting start of the season. Cullipher: “I know my horse won’t be favored facing some of the better horses, but after the win back home last week, he’s earned the chance to race in The Pace. I was very pleased with his performance. We’ll train him up good Saturday and ship to the Meadowlands Sunday.” Last Race: 6/26 – HoP – The Star Destroyer – 1st (1:51.2) 10 Captain Kirk ($60,228 – 1:51) D. Dunn, T. Alagna Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz,Brad Grant, Captain Kirk Racing  Rounds out Alagna’s threesome in the Top 10. Lone pari-mutuel start this year resulted in a second-place finish – featuring a :25.2 kicker – at the hands of Splash Brother, who was winning in 1:48.2. Alagna: “I think [Captain] Kirk has talent like [Capt] Midnight. We quit with him early last year, after the Metro. So far, he’s paid us back for that extra time off.” Scheduled to qualify Friday morning. Will Alagna have 4 in the Pace? More? “You never know,” he said. Last Race: 6/20 – M1 – NW2 – 2nd (1:48.3) From the Meadowlands Media Department  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - For Tall Dark Stranger, it's all systems go for The Meadowlands Pace. Harness racing trainer Nancy Takter had her prized colt in a less-than-ideal spot for his 3-year-old debut at the Meadowlands, facing older foes in a high-end conditioned pace, but in this post-coronavirus reality where many plans have had to be re-worked, everything turned out as well as she could have hoped. "I wasn't shocked," said Takter. "I knew he had that in him. He did it very easily without much effort. The fact that he did it in his first start, that surprised me." What Tall Dark Stranger did was win in 1:47.4 to equal the fastest mile in the sport this year. The Bettor's Delight-Precocious Beauty product was in a live cover flow past the half, getting a perfect tow from Western Joe, who won a week ago in 1:48.2. But just after the five-eighths, Western Joe started to slow, causing driver Yannick Gingras to swing three-wide a little earlier than he would have liked, midway through the far turn, with Tall Dark Stranger. "[The trip] didn't concern me," said Takter. "He's a racehorse. He knows what he's supposed to do." What he did was explode through the stretch, pacing his final quarter in :25.4 to record a 1½-length win in lowering his previous lifetime best by one-and-one-fifth seconds. Escapetothebeach was second, The Devils Own N third and Western Joe fourth. The top-ranked horse in the Big M's weekly "Road to the Meadowlands Pace" Top 10 looks more than ready to go. "He's got a blowout mile in him now," said Takter. "He's going to get next week off before the [July 11] Pace eliminations. He's right where I want him to be." Tall Dark Stranger Tall Dark Stranger ($3.80 to win as the 4-5 public choice) has now won nine of 10 lifetime starts and has earnings of $726,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. The $682,650 Meadowlands Pace Final takes place on July 18. GIMPANZEE AT THE HEAD OF THE CLASS It wasn't easy, but Gimpanzee came from well off the pace to win one of two $50,000 divisions of the Graduate Series' second leg for 4-year-old trotters in a lifetime-best 1:50.2. Driver Brian Sears opted to race the two-time Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes champion from off the pace after a highly contentious several-horse scrum into the first turn had him take back to seventh at the quarter. "I knew the horse to beat was Chin Chin Hall and I wasn't going to press my horse early," said Sears. The son of Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows was sixth in a third-over flow at three-quarters as Chin Chin Hall was sailing along on the lead. But Gimpanzee still had plenty of fuel in the tank. Despite having 4½ lengths to make up through the final three-sixteenths, the Marcus Melander trainee was up to the task, rocketing home in :27 to best Chin Chin Hall by a half-length. Kings County was third. "Gimpanzee is everything you want in a racehorse," said Sears. "I thought [Chin Chin Hall] was going to be spent [in the latter stages] and I thought we had a chance. My horse is a gamer and knows what we are trying to accomplish. He put his head down and did what he had to do." Gimpanzee paid $2.60 to win as the 1-5 favorite in raising his lifetime numbers to 19 wins from 25 starts, good for earnings of $1,770,111 for owners Courant Inc and S R F Stable. A LITTLE MORE Southwind Avenger won the other Graduate division in 1:51.3 at odds of 22-1, one of four victories on the night for driver Andy McCarthy. Don't Let'em, the 4-5 favorite, broke at the start and finished last in the field of nine. ... Geez Joe gunned down 3-5 favorite Sintra for a second straight week in taking the overnight feature, the Preferred for pacers, in 1:48.2 as the 9-2 second choice. ... Wagering on the 13-race card totaled $2,863,730. Betting has now exceeded the $2.5-million mark the last 15 racing programs. ... The season's mark that Tall Dark Stranger equaled was Kissin In The Sand's, who is trained by Takter and driven by Gingras. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. Patrons will be welcomed back into the Meadowlands at 25 percent capacity. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, NJ - While the top three remained unchanged with the Meadowlands Pace Eliminations just a little over two weeks away, Catch The Fire and Captain Barbossa made their way into the harness racing Top 5 in Week 3 of Dave Little's "Road To The Meadowlands Pace."      Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($717,514 – 1:49.1) Bettor's Delight Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Saturday (June 20) morning Big M qualifier was of the eye-popping variety, hitting the wire 8 lengths to the good in a lifetime-best 1:49. Gingras: “He’s ready to go. We wanted to get one good run in him. He had plenty left [at the finish of his qualifier].” Faces Western Joe and other older tough customers Saturday in the 7th race at the Meadowlands. Last Race:: 6/20 – M1 – Qualifier – 1st (1:49) 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($754,774 – 1:50) Somebeachsomewhere D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Pelling: “I would have liked to have raced this week but didn’t want to race against aged horses. He’s fit. He’s good. I’m pretty much assured of a 3-year-old open week. We’ll qualify this Saturday and then race next week.” Last Race: 6/12 – M1 – Qualifier – 2nd (1:51) 3 Capt Midnight ($299,038 – 1:49.4) Captaintreacherous A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  Alagna: “He raced against the top two last year and did well for himself. He qualified well last week. He’ll need an overnight next week [before The Pace Eliminations].” It must be nice to be Alagna. In addition to Captain Barbossa (See No. 5 below), he also has Captain Kirk, who Alagna says might be in the same talent category as Midnight but without the resume. He also has Chief Mate, who won at Philly Sunday in 1:50.2. Don’t be surprised if Alagna puts four in the Pace elims. Last Race: 6/22 – Gaitway – Qualifier – 1st (1:51) 4 Catch The Fire ($258,547 – 1:49.4) Captaintreacherous M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables    The trainer loved the qualifier. Ackley: “That’s right around what we wanted to go. He was fantastic. He came out of it good. Our plan right now is to head for New Jersey [from western Pennsylvania] Sunday and starting him in an overnight at the Meadowlands on July 3rd or 4th. We’re excited about [The Pace] and we think we’ll be competitive.” Last Race: 6/18 – Mea – Qualifier – 1st (1:52.1) 5 Captain Barbossa  ($130,188 – 1:51.2) Captaintreacherous A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Alagna: “He went a good trip [when he finished second on Saturday]. He was three-wide off the last turn and got beat by a horse who went a ground-saving trip. He’s getting this week off. We’ll look for a 3-year-old open or a non-winners of 5 or something like that the week after. I’m very happy with him.” Last Race: 6/20 – M1 – NW4 – 2nd (1:50.4) 6 Major Betts ($134,274 – 1:49.1) Art Major D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost    Easy 5½-length score in a qualifier at Philly was his third time on the track this year, but none as of yet in a real race. Harder: “I told Dexter [Dunn] to go [1:]53 and he went 52 and 4. He was very handy.” Harder did not want to race four straight weeks, but in this strange year, what are you going to do? “On Sunday, we’ll be at Tioga in sire stakes, and then we hope to go again the week after, then it’s The Pace Elims. We’re going to face these [super tough] horses sooner or later. We might as well get started.”  Last Race: 6/19 – Phi – Qualifier – 1st (1:52.4) 7 Cattlewash ($313,423 – 1:50.3) Somebeachsomewhere Y. Gingras, R. Burke W J Donovan  Finished an even third after drawing poorly at Pocono after kicking home in :28.2. Burke: “He’s getting this week off. I’m not thrilled with the way he’s progressing. Horses cycle [in terms of form] and right now he’s not in the best cycle. We’ll get a race in him the weekend of July 3-4.” Last Race: 6/20 – PcD – NW6 – 3rd (1:52.1) 8 Manticore ($176,585 – 1:52.2) Western Ideal D. Miller, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing  Drew the 10 hole for the 5th race at the Meadowlands Saturday, so his trainer wasn’t thrilled, but he remains optimistic. Saunders: “He had a good week. Much of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races clash with the bigger events, and for us, the logic is, the money is the way to keep score. my people like to go in big races and we have a colt who can compete at that level.” Last Race: 6/13 – M1 – NW4 – 3rd (1:51.3) 9 Roll With Jr ($166,516 – 1:50.4) Roll With Joe T. Tetrick, J. Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher  Racing Friday at Hoosier in 3-year-old series action. Cullipher: “I want him to go a good mile Friday. He likes to be forwardly placed, which will permit us to see where we are really at. [As for The Pace] We are going to give it a shot.” Last Race: 6/9 – HoP – Qualifier – 2nd (1:53.2) 10 Father Nuno ($205,472 – 1:52.4) Somebeachsomewhere B. Sears, T. Canciellere John Canciellere  Not in this week. In early July, won his highlight-reel race of 2019 at the Meadows in 1:52.4 in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Thus far this year, has a pair of qualifiers under his belt. Tom Canciellere: “we are happy with the way he’s coming back.” Last Race: 6/9 – Chfld – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.4)     Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, NJ - As harness racing trainers continue to scramble to get their horses raced (or qualified), there were no changes in Week 2 of Dave Little's Road to the Meadowlands Pace.   For Pace info visit MeadowlandsPace.com     Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($717,514 – 1:49.1) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Finished third in a Meadowlands qualifier on Friday. Kicked home in :25.4 to complete his mile in 1:51. Takter: “He was very good in his qualifier. He did everything we asked of him. We were just going around the track. Yannick never really asked him. We’ll qualify him again Saturday and stretch him out a bit more. The issue is anybody who has a horse with a lot of wins and earnings doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to get raced. The upper classes aren’t filling.” LAST RACE: 6/12 – M1 – Qualifier – 3rd (1:51) 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($754,774 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Paced his final quarter in :25.3 to get second in his Q. Pelling: “I thought he was just awesome in his qualifier. He doesn’t fit non-winners of 4 like some of these other horses. I am presuming they will have a 3-year-old Open on July 3. He’s not qualifying this week, maybe next week. Qualifiers are qualifiers. They are not a race.” Last Race: 6/12 – M1 – Qualifier – 2nd (1:51) 3 Capt Midnight ($299,038 – 1:49.4) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  Monday marked his first appearance of the season, a 1:51.2 Q at Gaitway. Alagna: “It was good to get that first one under his belt. It was a big mile given the conditions. It was a little windy. He’s been in training for a few months, so a lot of horses are in the same boat trying to get raced. We’ll go back and qualify at Gaitway Monday. We’ll get a race in him somewhere.” Last Race: 6/15 – Gaitway – Qualifier – 1st (1:51.2) 4 Cattlewash ($311,791 – 1:50.3) Y. Gingras, R. Burke W J Donovan    Not much doing during the week for the third-leading earner in the Top 10 from a year ago. That’s about to change. Burke: “He’s in Saturday in the Poconos (with Marcus Miller driving). He drew the nine hole. He’ll be handled somewhat aggressively but the nine hole at Pocono is tough. I wish he was a little bit sharper, but I’m not worried about it. It’s gonna take him a week or two. Smaller horses get ready quicker. Cattlewash is a big horse.” Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 3rd (1:53.3) 5 Catch The Fire ($258,547 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables  Will go in the 20th Qualifier at The Meadows [Thursday, June 18] after taking a three-week break. Ackley: “We are getting ready to qualify at The Meadows later [Thursday]. I hope to go around [1:]52. A week ago Monday we trained him real good. After [Thursday], the plan is to come out east [to The Meadowlands].” Last Race: 5/17 – ScD – Qualifier – 1st (1:56.2) 6 Father Nuno ($205,472 – 1:52.4) B. Sears, T. Canciellere John Canciellere  In early July, won his highlight-reel race of 2019 at the Meadows in 1:52.4 in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Thus far this year, has a pair of qualifiers under his belt. Tom Canciellere: “We will qualify him one more time. we are happy with the way he’s coming back.” Last Race: 6/9 – Chfld – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.4) 7 Captain Barbossa  ($127,488 – 1:51.2) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Finished second in a Big M Qualifier. Everything looks good. Alagna: “We’re very happy with how he’s come back. He’s in a NW4 (Race 4) and has the rail Saturday. [With less wins and money earnings] It gives us more options as far as getting into a race.” Last Race: 6/12 – M1 – Qualifier – 2nd (1:50.4) 8 Manticore ($176,585 – 1:52.2)   D. Miller, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing  The only horse in the Top 10 to participate in a pari-mutuel race last week did well, finishing superbly to get third after kicking home in :26. Saunders: “We were happy with him. He did have good pace coming home. Nothing happened to discourage us. I gave him this week off. Hoping that Pennsylvania will schedule a Sire Stakes event that we can go in later this month.” Last Race: 6/13 – M1 – Non-Winners of 4 – 3rd (1:51.3) 9 Roll With Jr ($166,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J. Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher  Cullipher: “He really didn’t do much last week. I was sending him to Tioga, but found out it was just a prep race, so he’ll race in Indiana next week [in a modest 3-year-old event]. We may stay out there and then come to New Jersey for the Meadowlands Pace Eliminations.” Last Race: 6/9 – HoP – Qualifier – 2nd (1:53.2) 10 Major Betts ($134,274 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost  Tied for fastest lifetime-best among the Top 10 with a 1:49.1 mark taken a year ago. Not in to go this week. Harder: “I can’t get him in. I tried at the Meadowlands and at Chester to get raced. By that time, the Meadowlands qualifiers were already drawn. He’s rarin’ to go. He’s fit and sharp. We will race at Tioga in sire stakes next weekend. For a horse I have high hopes for, it’s been a little difficult. But that’s what we are all up against.”  Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.1)

East Rutherford, NJ - June 11th   By Dave Little   Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover are set to renew their harness racing rivalry from a year ago and sit 1-2 atop the first of five weekly 2020 editions of Dave Little's "Road to the Meadowlands Pace".     Rank Horse (Earnings - Mark) Driver, Trainer, Owner Dave Little’s Comments 1 Tall Dark Stranger ($717,514 – 1:49.1) Y. Gingras, N. Takter Crawford Farms Racing,  Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms,  Howard Taylor  Won 8-of-9 starts during an extremely successful 2YO campaign. Took divisional honors from arch-rival Papi Rob Hanover after being placed 1st via DQ in the Oct. 25 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Lone loss of the season came one-week prior against PRH in a Crown Elim. Takter: “He’s doing really well. He trained at the Meadowlands in 1:52.3 last Thursday and will qualify this Friday. It would have been nice to have the North America Cup [under our belt] so he’ll need an overnight or two before the Meadowlands Pace Eliminations.” LAST RACE: None in 2020 2 Papi Rob Hanover ($754,774 – 1:50) D. Miller, B. Pelling David McDuffee    Hit the board in all 12 starts as a 2YO. Big wins came in the Governor’s Cup, Matron and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship. Pelling: “he’s done everything right. Zero complaints. But there is a level of uncertainty still. It’s a special race, but it’s always been your fifth or sixth start, which is usually their best. That will not be the case this year. He’ll qualify Friday.” Last Race: 6/3 – Chfld – Qualifier – 1st (1:53.2) 3 Capt Midnight ($299,038 – 1:49.4) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Marvin Katz, Ken Jacobs, Brad Grant, Capt Midnight Racing  Had a pair of nice wins in the Nassagawey and International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile as well as a third in the Metro during 2019. Alagna: “He wintered well. He will qualify Monday at Gaitway. He raced against the big two last year and showed signs of getting tired late in the year, but there is no reason he can’t go with them during 2020.” Last Race: None in 2020 4 Cattlewash ($311,791 – 1:50.3) Y. Gingras, R. Burke W J Donovan    Scored at The Red Mile in late September in 1:50.3 in the Bluegrass before ending the season well with a third (in the Breeders Crown), a second (Matron) and a third (Governor’s Cup). Burke: “He did well over the winter. I think he’s rounding into form. It’s going to be a different feel getting these horses ready given what’s happened over the last three months. Right now, I’m waiting for a race for this horse.” Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 3rd (1:53.3) 5 Catch The Fire ($258,547 – 1:49.4) M. Wilder, J. Ackley CT Stables  Of his four wins from a year ago, the most impressive was an easy 3-length stroll in the Kentucky Sire Stakes Final as the 3-5 favorite. Ackley: “He did super over the winter. He went 1:56 just kind of sitting there. We trained him Monday in 1:53 with a backside in :54 flat. We’ll try and be out there [from Pennsylvania] 10-14 days before the Pace elims, hoping for a prep race.” Last Race: 5/17 – ScD – Qualifier – 1st (1:56.2) 6 Father Nuno ($205,472 – 1:52.4) B. Sears, T. Canciellere John Canciellere  In early July, won his highlight-reel race of 2019 at the Meadows in 1:52.4 in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Thus far this year, has a pair of qualifiers under his belt, which is more work than many in this division have done. Tom Canciellere: “We will qualify him one more time, probably next week at the Meadowlands. It’s been a long winter, but we are happy with the way he’s coming back.” Last Race: 6/9 – Chfld – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.4) 7 Captain Barbossa  ($127,488 – 1:51.2) A. McCarthy, T. Alagna Robert Leblanc,  David Anderson, Alagnafrankinthegym Stable Solid numbers from 2019 read 10 on-the-board finishes from 14 tries, including a score in the Bluegrass at The Red Mile in late September. Qualified impressively at the Meadowlands last Saturday. Alagna: “He got good the second half of last season. He changed a lot over the winter. He will qualify Friday at the Meadowlands.” Last Race: 6/6 – M1 – Qualifier – 1st (1:51.2) 8 Manticore ($174,965 – 1:52.2) D. Miller, B. Saunders M and L of Delaware, M & M Harness Racing  Finished 1st or 2nd in 7-of-11 starts as a 2YO, with his biggest win coming at Philadelphia in late August in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. Kicked home in :26.2 in his qualifier. Saunders: “getting prepared has been a little different this year but we are all at the same disadvantage. My horse is in Saturday night at the Meadowlands. He’s a talented colt and he’s grown considerably since last year.”. Last Race: 6/9 – Chfld – Qualifier – 1st (1:53.3) 9 Roll With Jr ($166,516 – 1:50.4) T. Tetrick, J. Cullipher Pollack Racing, Jeff Cullipher  A Sept. 28 win in the Bluegrass at The Red Mile in 1:50.4 stands out as his best of 3 wins (from 11 starts) a year ago. Both 2020 qualifiers look good. Cullipher: “He’s doing well. His next go will be in the New York Sire Stakes on June 21 at Tioga. He’s a big colt, so he’s well-suited to the mile track at the Meadowlands, and he matured a lot over the winter.” Last Race: 6/9 – HoP – Qualifier – 2nd (1:53.2) 10 Major Betts ($134,274 – 1:49.1) D. Dunn, M. Harder Joseph Jannuzzelli,  Mark Harder, Deena Rachel Frost  Established his lifetime-best of 1:49.1. in taking a division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile on Oct. 5 at odds of 12-1. Might he have another surprise in store in The Pace on the third Saturday in July? Harder: “I hope so. He’s a talented colt. He has a couple of issues but he has big ability. Those top two colts are the top two for a reason. I was happy with his qualifier. I’m looking for a race the week after next.”  Last Race: 6/8 – Gty – Qualifier – 4th (1:54.1)    

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is excited to announce that three of the top Grand Circuit stakes cards of the 2020 Championship Meet will be televised live across North America on a National Sports network. Three live races will be broadcast on each program with the Cutler Memorial (Saturday, May 16), Meadowlands Pace elimination (Saturday, July 11) and Meadowlands Pace Final (Saturday, July 18) headlining the chosen nights. Each broadcast is tentatively set to run from 8:00 to 10:00 pm. While the Meadowlands Pace elimination and final cards are loaded with supporting stakes such as the Graduate finals and Hambletonian Maturity, the Cutler Memorial will be supplemented by two brand new, yet to be named Early Closers for the older pacing horses and mares.  A break in the schedule between the Blue Chip Matchmaker and Borgata (Levy) at Yonkers and the Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry at Harrah's Philly affords The Meadowlands a spot to add a new race for those divisions. The new Early Closers will use a top eleven money winners in 2019-2020 and have a estimated purse of $85,000. They will also be considered point bearing TVG legs, though horses need not be TVG eligible to be nominated to them. These races will require a nomination payment of $1,000 due by March 15 and a $1,000 entry fee. The added money will be $60,000. Further details and conditions are in development and will be released soon. "NYRA has been doing a lot of live TV since Saratoga last summer. We feel it's important to try broadcasting some of our big stakes live," said Meadowlands President Jeff Gural. "We have a good product and hope by exposing it to a national audience it will generate more interest in the sport. From the Meadowlands Media Department

It took Best In Show a minute and 48 seconds to win the Meadowlands Pace. It took harness racing trainer Linda Toscano nearly as much time to allow herself to believe it was true. "I would not get in the car until his number came up," Toscano said, referring to the vehicle that shuttles people between the paddock, where Toscano had watched the race, and the winner's circle at The Meadowlands. "I was not getting in the car." After a minute-and-a-half wait, Best In Show was declared the winner of Saturday's $682,650 event for 3-year-old pacers in a four-horse photo, beating Bettor's Wish and Workin Ona Mystery both by a head and Captain Crunch by three-quarters of a length. Then, Toscano could enjoy the ride. "Oh, gosh; this is home," Toscano said as she discussed the emotions surrounding her first Meadowlands Pace win. "Lately I've been training a lot of trotters, and I've always had a lot of fillies, and the one shot I thought I had at this race was with Heston Blue Chip (in 2012) and it just didn't work out. "Just to get another shot at this race, this is another one I can check off the bucket list. It's cool." Toscano, a New Jersey resident who six days prior to Best In Show's victory was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, became the seventh trainer to win the Meadowlands' two premier races for 3-year-olds, the Meadowlands Pace and the Hambletonian. She captured the Hambletonian, for trotters, in 2012 with Market Share. The other trainers to win both races were Billy Haughton, Ray Remmen, Chuck Sylvester, Blair Burgess, Steve Elliott, and Ray Schnittker. "It's been a big week," Toscano said. "This is what you try to get to." Best In Show raced only three times at age 2 before being shut down to provide the colt more time to develop physically. This year, he won a conditioned race at The Meadowlands before heading to Canada and winning on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit. He then was second in a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, sixth in the North America Cup final after a third-place performance in his elimination, and second in another Ontario Sire Stakes start. He returned to The Meadowlands and finished second to Bettor's Wish in his Meadowlands Pace elimination. "When he came back this year, he was behind on experience, he was behind on everything," co-owner Richard Young said. "These horses were racing in big stakes last year and we were in non-winners of two in his fifth lifetime start here at The Meadowlands (in May), so we've come a long way in a relatively short period of time. The progress has been rather quick. "I'm elated. I kept telling people I thought he could win. He has tremendous gate speed for position and if they fought it out, who knows. I always thought we had a shot. I think he's shown that he belongs." Said Toscano, "We thought he was a quality horse. He came back and we brought him along the right way. Fortunately for us, we had a great jump-start program being able to go up to the Ontario Sire Stakes so we didn't have to go against these gorillas every single week. It was a great place to get him started and get his sea legs under him. Every week he's been progressing just a little bit more and more. "Finally, the rookie thing is gone, he's starting to figure this out. He's got good gate speed, he's an honest horse, and he's an easy horse to drive. I love his attitude. He's totally nonplussed by shipping. I shipped him back and forth to Canada every single week, I never left him there, and he just gets out of the truck and eats his dinner. Those kinds of horses help. I went to check on him in the detention barn (Saturday) and he was lying down when I got there. That's basically what you have to like the most about him." Best In Show is a son of Bettor's Delight out of the mare Put On A Show. Young was among the owners of Put On A Show during her racing career, which saw her earn $2.40 million lifetime and take home a Dan Patch Award at age 3 in 2010. Best In Show was her third foal, and first colt. "We're talking about a great mommy, a great daddy; we had a shot here," Young said. "We kept Put On A Show for one reason - we thought she would produce a champion. We were just going to wait on it until it happened. "I think I have a potential sire here, which is really exciting." In the Meadowlands Pace, Best In Show was the fourth choice in the betting, at odds of 27-1, behind favorite Captain Crunch, Bettor's Wish, and Workin Ona Mystery. Best In Show started from post seven and used his gate speed to get to the lead in a :26.2 opening quarter mile. The three top choices all passed Best In Show on the backstretch and battled to the half in :52.4 and three-quarters in 1:19.3. As the group continued its fight in the stretch, driver Brian Sears found room inside his three leading rivals and guided Best In Show through to victory. Toscano said she thought Best In Show was primed to get a good piece of the purse, but was not going to predict victory prior to the race. "Then you see where you're sitting and you see a half in :52 come up, you go, oh, this is kind of looking pretty good here," Toscano said. "You know the right horses are all around you and are going to carry you. Then it's just hope for room and hope your horse is going to show up at that point. So, it worked out really well." The horse showed up. Best In Show. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

East Rutherford, NJ -- What a week for harness racing Linda Toscano.   On Sunday evening, the trainer gave a gracious acceptance speech at her induction to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., and on Saturday night (July 13), she stood in the winner's circle after Best In Show pulled a 27-1 upset in the $682,650 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace.   It was the perfect bookend to a seven-day span she'll never forget.   "This another one I never dreamed of," Toscano said after becoming the first female trainer to win the Pace. "This is home for me. This is awesome."   In a thrilling finish, Best In Show slipped through an opening on the rail to defeat his more heralded rivals. He got up by a head over Bettor's Wish, the brave first-over challenger who couldn't have raced much better.   Right in the mix was Workin Ona Mystery in third, with the pacesetting Captain Crunch, the North America Cup winner and the 1-2 favorite in the Pace, a close-up fourth in the blanket finish.   The time was 1:48 on the warm evening for the track's signature race.   Brian Sears, also a Hall of Famer, gave Best In Show a perfect ground-saving drive. Best In Show left alertly before readily yielding to let the favorites duke it out while settling into fourth.   "I knew they were racing pretty good," Sears said. "It was all the horses to beat and they were going at it. I was pretty content. I wanted to sneak him around there a little bit. I got a little opening, and he fired for me."   And he fired up the tote board.   Best In Show   Best In Show paid $56.20, $14.40 and $6.80. Bettor's Wish returned $4.00 and $2.80. Workin Ona Mystery paid $3.80 to show.   The time was 1:48 after clipping through aggressive fractions of :26.2, :52.4 and a blazing 1:19.3 to the three-quarter pole.   It was fourth win in 12 starts for Best In Show, who competed in a non-winners of two races condition as recently as May.   "We knew he was a nice colt last year and he got a little colt sore on us," Toscano said. "We shut him down, brought him back and he's done everything right."   Best In Show has been rapidly making up for that lost time.   The son of Bettor's Delight out of Put On A Show earned $341,325 as a homebred for Richard P. Young & Joanne Young. He turned in a pair of second-place finishes in his previous two starts, an Ontario Sires Stakes and his Pace elimination behind Bettor's Wish.   Meadowlands Pace Photo   Keeping Pace:    All-source wagering on the 13-race program totaled $4,044,303   All-source wagering on the 13-race program totaled $4,044,303, the sixth time in the last seven years that Meadowlands Pace Night betting surpassed the $4-million mark. … The driving stars were out in force as 10 of the races on the card were won by Dave Miller (3), Tim Tetrick (3), Yannick Gingras (2) and Sears (2). … There were a pair of 50-Cent Pick-4s on the program and they both took big action. The Pick-4 that began in Race 6 took in a 2019-best $146,229, while the Late Pick-4 (Races 10-13) saw a total pool of $122,070. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   by Mike Farrell, Meadowlands Media

When Joe Barbera's father saw a friend that knew nothing about horses end up as a partner on 1974 Cane Pace winner Boyden Hanover, he told his sons, "If he could do good, we could do good with a horse." The comment launched Barbera's career as an owner himself. "That's when I claimed my first horse," the 75-year-old Barbera said, remembering it to be a pacer named Lakewood Joe D. "I raced at Roosevelt a little bit. When Roosevelt closed, I got out of the business for a while. I just wanted to concentrate on working." But Barbera, an affable Long Island resident who owns a rigging company, eventually returned to the horses. And on Saturday, he will be among the owners of three Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace finalists: Captain Ahab, U S Captain, and Captain Trevor. All three are trained by Tony Alagna, who also sends Escapetothebeach into Saturday's $682,650 event for 3-year-old pacers at The Meadowlands. "(The rigging company) has enabled me at this stage to get involved with these quality horses," said Barbera, who often partners with his brother Vincent on ownership. "We've had a lot of fun in the business and it's becoming much more fun in my later days because I'm with a group that can produce top horses, the kind that can race in the Meadowlands Pace, that can go to the North America Cup. "I've been close to having something good. I think I'm really close now with the people I'm with." Captain Ahab and Captain Trevor were winners on the Grand Circuit last year. U S Captain was winless in 2018 but has won four of five races this season. All three were from the first crop of stallion Captaintreacherous, who won the 2013 Meadowlands Pace and was twice named Pacer of the Year. He was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday. Overall, five of the Meadowlands Pace finalists were sired by Captaintreacherous, with 2-1 morning-line favorite Captain Crunch and 5-1 third choice Workin Ona Mystery joining Alagna's trio. Alagna trained Captaintreacherous during his racing career. "We went all-in on Captaintreacherous," Barbera said. "He produces wonderful horses. The bad thing about Captain is there are so many other Captains you have to go against. We don't have the only Captains. They're all good. The Captains are either good or they're great, they're one of the two." Captain Trevor                                                --Curtis Salonick photo Barbera, who is the uncle of Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, the executive vice president/syndicate manager at Hanover Shoe Farms, had his passion for racing in his early days in the sport fueled through a friendship with Hall of Famer Del Insko. Earlier this decade, he enjoyed success with Joe Pavia Jr. on the New York Sire Stakes circuit with horses such as Steelhead Hanover and Bet On The Law. He now owns part of 19 horses in Alagna's stable. "If you add up all the percentages, it comes out to about three," Barbera joked. "Tony is a hard worker and does everything to make those horses as good as they can be. But you still need a little bit of luck. It looks like it could be a very nice year for me. That's why we keep plugging. We know what can happen if you get a little lucky." In addition to the Meadowlands Pace, Saturday's 13-race card at The Meadowlands includes the Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers, divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial and Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old male and female trotters, Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, Golden Girls for older female pacers, and a leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). For Saturday's complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Eight of the horses in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown weekly Top 10 Poll will be in harness racing action on the Saturday (July 13) night program at the Meadowlands, and a slightly different wagering menu - which promises to create big pools - will also be offered on the highly-anticipated Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Night card. Top-ranked Shartin N seeks her ninth win in a row in the Golden Girls for free-for-all mare pacers. Her last Meadowlands appearance came on November 24th of last year when she won the TVG Mares pace in 1:50.3. No. 2 Atlanta, who a week ago recorded the fastest trotting Big M mile ever of 1:49.1 in the Graduate Series Final, will look to stay perfect in seven seasonal starts in the Hambletonian Maturity, an open event for 4-year-olds at a mile and an eighth. In the evening's feature, Captain Crunch (No. 3) and Bettor's Wish (No. 5) will go head-to-head in a second consecutive major event in the glamourous 3-year-old male pacing division, the $682,650 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. Four weeks ago, 'Crunch' bested 'Wish' by three-quarters of a length in the North America Cup. No. 4 Greenshoe, whose explosive late rally left him a head short at the wire in the June 29th Beal, will try to make it six wins in nine lifetime tries in the second of two divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old open trotters. Speaking of polls, Greenshoe is currently the top-ranked horse in Meadowlands' track announcer Ken Warkentin's weekly 'Road to the Hambletonian' Top 10. Last Saturday, in the Graduate Series Final for pacers, sixth-ranked Lather Up became only the second horse in harness racing history to complete a mile in 1:46. He'll take on defending Horse of the Year McWicked in the William Haughton Memorial at a mile and an eighth. No. 9 Warrawee Ubeaut, who was upset two weeks ago in the Lynch, takes on the horse that beat her - Stonebridge Soul - in the Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old pacing fillies at a mile and an eighth. Finally, Hannelore Hanover (No. 10) takes on Darling Mearas S, one of only four horses to ever break the 1:50-barrier on the trot at the Big M, in the second leg of the Miss Versatility for open mares. WAGERING MENU: The Saturday card will feature an extra 50-Cent Pick-4 as well as an extra Pick-3 as compared to a normal 13-race card. There will be Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta wagering on all 13 races; Daily Doubles will be offered on races 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 8-9, 9-10 and 12-13; the 50-Cent Pick-5 will begin with Race 1, but will have a $50,000 guaranteed pool instead of the usual $25,000; the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 will be offered starting with Race 3 while the pair of 20-Cent Jackpot Super-High Fives will be in their usual spots, Races 5 and 13. Fans of the track's signature wager, the 50-Cent Pick-4, will get to double their pleasure. There will be two rounds of the bet on Saturday. The first - which will be made up of the Golden Girls, Hambletonian Maturity, Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace and Haughton Memorial - takes place on Races 6-9 and will offer a guaranteed pool of $100,000, while the second will be on Races 10-13 with a $50,000 promise. Keep in mind that the Survivor, Pick-5 and Pick-4 all offer a low 15 percent takeout. CHECK YOUR WATCH: The Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace field will head to the gate at 10:10 p.m. ... Racing on Friday and Saturday night will get underway at the usual 7:15 p.m. ... For the remainder of the meeting, racing will be conducted on a Friday-Saturday 7:15 p.m. basis, except for Hambletonian Day, Saturday, Aug. 3, when the card gets underway at noon. Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - This Saturday, July 13th the 4th Annual BBQ Battle returns to the track on Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Night. $2,000 is up for grabs in the Battle with $500 top prizes for the best brisket, chicken, pulled pork and ribs. Plus on the track, the top 3 year old pacers compete to become the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace champion. From 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. in the Backyard, fans can grab some delicious barbecue and food truck eats from some of the best local food trucks and restaurants in the area. Seven contestants have signed up to compete in this year's Battle including: Magic Mike's Smoked Meats, Dr Dor's BBQ, Delicious BBQ, Gentle Giant Brew Co, Smoke & Steer BBQ Grill, Carlito's BBQ and Big Barlow's BBQ. Additional food and dessert options ranging from empanadas to seafood tacos to burgers to Italian ice and cupcakes will be provided by Empanada Guy, All Surf No Turf, Jersey Roll, 2 Guys Catering, The Mozzarella God, Burgerstrasse, Clydes Italian Ice and House of Cupcakes. "Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace night is a highlight of our Championship Meet," said Meadowlands General Manager and CEO Jason M. Settlemoir. "This is truly a spectacular night of racing, food and family fun." In addition to the BBQ Battle, The "Greatest Night in Harness Racing" also takes place on Saturday with the featured $682,650 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace in the spotlight. Also being contested on the card will be the Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer, Del Miller, William Haughton, Golden Girls and Hambletonian Maturity. Fans ride the mechanical shark and enter to win a $500 win wager. There is also live music by the Mighty Spectrum Band and carnival games for the kids. First race post time is 7:15pm. For more details on the BBQ Battle and the Crawford Farm Meadowlands Pace, visit http://meadowlandspace.com/default.html  

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