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East Rutherford, NJ - Breakfast With The Babies sponsored by Jules Siegel's Fashion Farms took place at The Meadowlands on a grand Saturday morning with clear skies, little breeze and temps in the mid-70's at 10am.   It turned out to be Father Patrick day as that first crop sire had five winners in the seven trotting races. an impressive showing indeed.   Trotting fillies opened the card with Whispering Oaks a 1:57.3 win, the second in a many appearances for the imposing $100,000 (LEX Select) Father Patrick filly. Yannick Gingras sat chilly with Whispering Oaks tight on the back of Frauline Blucher (Marcus Johansson) as that rival set moderate fractions, then tipped his charge as they turned home and she exploded by with a 28 flat final quarter.   Jimmy Takter trains the winner for Brixton Medical, Herb Liverman and RAW Equine. Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz and Sam Goldband are the breeders.   Father Patrick got another credit when Devilish Delight won the second race in 1:58 / 28.4 for Andy McCarthy. She did it all on her own, setting comfortable fractions then sprinted home to easily hold Caviart Jenny (Johansson) and the rest of the field at bay. Tom Dillion paid $80,000 for Devilish Delight in Lexington last fall, buying from breeder Kentuckiana Farms. Jonas Czernyson trains.   Special Honor by, guess who, Father Patrick took the third for Andy Miller in 1:58.1 / 27.4. She converted a perfect trip, tracking Given (Gingras) until headstretch then ground past that stubborn rival as they neared the wire. Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld bred and own Special Honor.   The fourth race this morning saw two talented, well-bred filly trotters square-off and it went as if scripted. The Muscle Hill x Sina lass Beautiful Sin (Gingras) wore down French Café (Andy Miller), another Father Patrick this one from Creamy Mimi, through a stretch-long battle to win in 1:56.4 / 28.1.   While Isolde (Dave Miller) was rank on the lead early through fast fractions, French Café followed in the pocket before gliding by that rival around the final bend with Beautiful Sin in close pursuit. In the stretch both fillies dug in gamely and it did take a photo to determine Beautiful Sin as the winner. Lennart Agrin paid $480,000 for Beautiful Sin at the Lexington sale last fall and she races under his SRF Stable banner for trainer Jimmy Takter. Jeff Gural and the Moon Goddesses bred and raised the winner.   Colt trotters came around in the 5th and Kredit Karma (David Miller) led all the way to win in 1:58.2 / 27.4 over Amico Mio B (Jordan Stratton). The winner was a $110,000 (LEX Select) Credit Winner bred by Steve Jones and Fair Winds Farm and now owned by Our Horse Cents Stable. Marcus Melander is the trainer.   Hudson River became yet another credit for Father Patrick when he won in 1:58.2 with trainer Jimmy Takter at the lines. Hudson River took the field by the 1:00.3 half, yielded to stablemate and eventual second place finisher Gerris Trix (Gingras) then trotted by that one in deep stretch for the score. Hudson River is a homebred racing for Christina Takter and Goran Falk.   Saving perhaps the best for last and making five winners on the day for Father Patrick was the highly regarded colt Greenshoe. He turned heads when he won in 1:55 with the greatest of ease two weeks ago and returned with another impressive win this morning, albeit a bit slower in 1:56.1 / 28.1 with Brian Sears driving for trainer Marcus Melander.   Greenshoe was pretty fresh scoring and anxious behind the gate but Sears was able to soothe him away with the good colt Don't Let'em (Gingras) landing on his back. Moderate fractions ensued with no real trotting done until midway through the stretch when Gingras moved Don't Let'em out to challenge and made a bit ground but couldn't threaten the winner. Anders Strom using his nom d'course of Courant, Inc bought the Greenshoe in Lexington last fall for $330,000 from breeders Libfeld and Katz.   JK American Beauty took the first pacing race in 1:56.1 for Tim Tetrick. She was just up over Wicked N Wonderful (Gingras) with Mollydooker going off stride when pacing fast at the wire. Nancy Johansson trains the American Ideal filly for owner/breeder 3 Brothers Stable.   Hurrikane Norakane (Dan Dube) was a 1:56.3 winner for trainer John Mc Dermott, Jr. Trapped until very late, when a seam appeared the Art Major filly shot through to nip Odds On Clearwater (Scott Zeron). Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, Pegasis Investments and George Vierno own the $24,000 Harrisburg purchase who was bred by Twinbrook LTD.   Blood Money (Gingras), representing the first crop by Sweet Lou, took the 10th in 1:54.2 / 27 just holding off the furious late rally of Hurrikane Emperor (Dube). The homebred is now two for two for Takter and Adam Bowden's Diamond Creek Racing.   The exact same connections came right back to win the last of the 2-year-old races with Blacklight in 1:56 / 27.2. Yannick held the Somebeachsomewhere colt from champion mare I Luv The Nitelife well back early then unleashed him in deep stretch to nail Waterway (Brett Miller) in the last step. Another good Diamond Creek homebred prospect in the Takter barn.   Hey Blondie took a handy qualifier in 1:53.2 for Andy McCarthy in a race where Tactical Landing set brisk fractions before rolling off stride as they turned home.   Live racing tonight at The Meadowlands highlighting the annual appearance by the Camel and Ostriches.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands    

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands resumes live racing on Friday with a nine race card beginning at 7:15 pm.   The overnight mix is highlighted by a few Hambletonian eligibles sprinkled over the program, including a very interesting Jimmy Takter pupil. Takter has a barn load of Hambo horses including a few intriguing prospects that have kept a very low profile, Zephyr Kronos among those.   By International classic winning sire Ready Cash, Orange Kronos raced but twice at age 2 but Takter and company recognized the talent enough to put the colt away early and count on time to season him.   The early returns would lean toward that being time well spent, though Zephyr Kronos still requires careful handling and has been driven by the trainer in all starts this season, the speed is evident. He has exhibited a wicked turn of foot on several occasions with sub 27 second final quarters a regular occurrence on his past performance lines.   The pair will leave from post two in a short field of six in the second race where he'll find a pair of potential Hambo rivals in Dawson Springs and U Need Stones.   With the Hambletonian now just seven weeks hence, Takter will have to ask the hard questions soon to determine whether Zephyr Kronos is indeed worthy of owners Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz, Perry Soderberg and Jimmy's wife Christina's patience and investment.   The last race Jackpot Hi-5 carryover pool is now in excess of $250,000. You can find free past performances for that and the Pick 4 on the web.   by Nick Saliv, for the Meadowlands  

East Rutherford, NJ - Breakfast With The Babies (BWTB) Saturday morning were sponsored by Jules Siegel's Fashion Farm was conducted under perfect conditions on a clear, windless morning with temperatures in the 70's. The Meadowlands racetrack was rated as fast. The Captaintreacherous colts were on display in a big way this morning as a half dozen well-bred colts from his exciting first crop purchased last fall by Myron Bell's consortium and trained by Tony Alagna positioned themselves on a course to advance the legacy of their champion sire and they did him proud. Shipshape (Brett Miller) was the first to go in race six, was sent right to the front and faced no opposition as he cruised the oval in 1:54.2 home in 27 seconds in hand. The sharp looking Brittany Farms bred from Fresh Idea was a $175,000 Lexington purchase by Brittany, Marvin Katz, Brad Grant and Captain Trevor Racing. Captain Ahab (Yannick Gingras) went virtually the same mile in the 7th, just a tick faster as he finished the mile in 1:54 flat. He rolled off similar numbers and finished well in hand, holding two other "Captaian" colts followed him across the wire with Odds On Boca Raton (Scott Zeron) second and Waterway (B. Miller) third. All three are sons of Captaintreacherous and trained by Alagna and Captain Ahab's owners are listed as Brittany Farms, Brad Grant, Vinnie Barbera and Captain Ahab Racing who paid $100,000 for him in Lexington. Brittany Farms bred this colt as well. US Captain closed the day on a high note for the team as he held challengers on both sides at bay through a 27.1 end to a 1:55.2 mile. Gingras moved US Captain to the front as they passed the half in 59.4, faced a stern rush from another "Captain" in Latissimus Hanover (Tetrick) through a 28.2 third panel then put that rival away and held Caviart Rockland (Marcus Johansson) off up the inside through the final strides. US Captain is from the champion mare American Jewel and was also bred by Brittany who retains a piece of the colt with partners Brad Grant, Joe Barbera and US Captain Racing. He was a $180,000 Lexington yearling purchase. Trainer Joe Holloway also had a huge day with three impressive winners, all driven by Hall of Famer David Miller. Trixton also impressed as the first crop sire and 2014 Hambletonian winner sired a few winners including Battenberg, a colt from Coffeecake Hanover who wowed the crowd with a 1:55.4 mile where he was in front by 10 to 15 lengths the entire way. He snapped from the gate quickly for David Miller and had 10 on the field by the 28.1 quarter, continued through the half in 57.1 and 1:26.4 three quarters before coasting home in 29 to win by 13 lengths. Holloway trains Battenberg for Crawford Farms and Val D'Or Farms who gave $210,000 for him at last fall's Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg. Millstream Stable bred the colt. Joe also sent out a Heston Blue Chip filly by the name of Zero Tolerance who zipped around the oval in 1:53.3 with an ultra-impressive 26.3 final quarter, absolutely flying in late stretch for Miller. She is a Winbak Farms bred $30,000 Lexington Select Sale purchase by Val D'Or Farms and Ted Gewertz. Trotting fillies opened the card and the Starita, also by Trixton was a convincing 1:58.2 winner for Miller. Starita went right to the front, set comfortable fractions and sprinted home in 27.4 under her own power. Mimi'spearloflindy (Mattias Melander) was second. Holloway trains the $50,000 (LEX Select) Brittany Farms bred filly for owners Val D'Or Farms and Gewertz. Speed Titan, by another exciting first crop sire in EL Titan, was an easy 1:58.1 winner for Marcus Melander in race 2. She followed along behind Taja Mahala (Chuck Connor) as that one cruised through a 1:00.3 half and 1:29.3 three quarters before Melander tipped her out and she charged by that rival to win by a widening five lengths. Taja Mahalla held for second. Speed Titan was a $50,000 (LEX Select) buy for Rick Wahlstedt from breeder Kjell Andersen. Melander came right back in the third with the $225,000 (LEX Select) Muscle Hill colt Gerry, who cut the mile and moved away from the competition with a 28.1 end to his 1:57.3 mile. Osterc (Yannick Gingras) sat behind throughout and finished second. Gerry was bred by KG Bertmark and is owned by Svensk Reklamfinans AB. Live racing tonight with an 11 race card beginning at around 7:15 pm with Justify chasing the Triple Crown in the Belmont at 7:00 pm. by Nick Salvi, for The Meadowlands

Nichols, NY - The eyes of the harness racing world shift to Tioga Downs on Sunday afternoon when that New York venue hosts the third and last preliminary leg of the $1 million Graduate series for 4-year-olds and the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old colt pacers.   The Graduate drew a strong response at the entry box, resulting in three $50,000 divisions of pacers and a pair of trotting races.   Trotters are up first, races 3 and five both sporting user friendly six horse fields.   Yes Mickey has been tabbed as the favorite in the third. The Muscle Hill gelding was third in leg #1, suffered traffic woes in the bulky 12 horse field at Mohawk in the second leg and gets Andy McCarthy to drive for trainer Ake Svanstedt and owner Melby Gard at Tioga.   Top Flight Angel, winner of the Yonkers Trot last season, is a slight morning line choice in division two. He was a good third in last week's leg and has drawn the advantageous rail position for Team Miller, driver Andy and trainer Julie who look after the son of Archangel for Legendary Standardbred Farm.   Ron Burke holds a very strong hand in the Graduate pacing events with a total of five going post ward over the three division of seven horses each.   The current scourge of the open ranks, Filibuster Hanover kicks it off for the "Burke Brigade in race 7. He's won all four of his 2018 starts including the 1st Graduate leg at The Meadowlands. He will begin from post six with Yannick Gingras driving for Ron Burke and partners Joe DiScala, J&T Silva Stable and Weaver Bruscemi.   The second division, race 9 includes a pair of contenders from the Burke barn but the favorite's role interestingly goes to a former Burke horse, Miso Fast, who now races out of the Virgil Morgan, Jr barn. Despite a remarkably poor run at the post position draw thus far in 2018, Miso Fast has weathered that storm and captured his division of leg two in Canada. Tim Tetrick has the assignment from post 5 on Sunday as the 9-5 choice from Winchester Baye Acres of Ohio.   The tenth race, Graduate pace number three, is a very contentious one. Maroma Beach (Gingras) won a Graduate division last week for Burke, Highalator (David Miller) equaled the fastest mile in all of racing with a 1:48.1 score in a Meadowlands overnight for trainer / owner Jenny Bier and her partner Charlie Dombeck and Donttellmeagain (Tetrick) looks for his second score in the series for trainer Jimmy King and Paton Racing Stable.   The NYSS split into four very contentious $40,000 divisions as races 4, 6 & 8.   The beautiful new Tioga Downs hotel offers a resort feel that was not previously available as well as packages for a spa, stay, golf trifecta that has been designed especially for horsemen. Call (607) 699-3900 to make your reservation for a few days of bliss.   Post time for the big Sunday card is 1:00 pm.   by Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs

East Rutherford, NJ  - The 2018 edition of Breakfast With The Babies (BWTB), sponsored by Jules Siegel's Fashion Farms, kicked off on a perfect Saturday morning at The Meadowlands. The skies were clear, the breeze slight and the temperature a comfortable 75 degrees. As has been the case since BWTB began, Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter sent out the first winner of the season. This year it was the highest priced yearling of the 2017 sales season at $480,000 (Lex Select), Beautiful Sin. In a short field of four, Yannick Gingras settled Beautiful Sin in second early as Isolde (Mattias Melander) took the field by the quarter in 29, then brushed her to the front by the 58.4 half. After a rated 30 second third split Gingras let the filly roll a bit through a 28.3 final quarter and she widened out to win by more than six lengths in 1:57.2. Lennart Agren's SRF Stable owns Beautiful Sin (by Muscle Hill from Sina, bred by The Moon Goddesses, Paula Gural and Monica Bencal) and if this morning's performance is any indication, she was a bargain. The Takter / Gingras duo came right back in race 2 with Whispering Oaks and the filly becomes the very first winner for first crop sire Father Patrick. She led all the way, closing out her 1:58 mile with a 29 flat final quarter and won well within herself over Starita (David Miller), by another eagerly anticipated first crop sire in Trixton, who broke early and recovered nicely to be second. Brixton Medical, Herb Liverman and RAW Equine, Inc paid $100,000 (Lex Select) to breeders Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband for Whispering Oaks last fall. When Greenshoe, the $330,000 (Lex Select) Father Patrick colt from world champion Designed To Be, cruised around the oval in 1:55 / 27.3 looking like he was jogging and eliciting "Wows" from the veteran observers and various experts in attendance this morning the young sire's legend was begun. Trainer / driver Marcus Melander let Greenshoe go right to the top from post four though even fractions with Hudson River (another Father Patrick colt driven by Takter) following closely by the 1:27.2 three panels. When Melander gave his colt the "green light" he accelerated while continuing to move easily and put some air between himself and his closest rival. It was a very good 1:55. Anders Strom owns Greenshoe via his nom de course of Courant, Inc and was bred by Katz and Libfeld. This year's freshman trotters are a particularly precocious lot as in the very next race Jimmy Takter exposed a lovely Muscle Hill colt named Don't Let Him with a start to finish 1:55 mile, home in 27.4. He was tracked throughout by Gimpanzee (Melander) who made a menacing move in the stretch but could not head Takter's colt. Don't Let Him is a Brittany bred, was sold for $80,000 (Lex Select) and is owned by that nursery along with Christina Takter, John Fielding and Herb Liverman. The highest priced yearling ever sold in Sweden at $325,000 (USD) is here in the US racing for Courant, Inc and the Muscle Hill colt Green Manalishi S was a winner at first asking for Mattias Melander in 1:57. Taking the lead just past the quarter, Green Manalishi cruised through easy numbers then dug in nicely when Gerris Trix (Takter) ranged up alongside mid-stretch with a28.4 end to the mile. Colt pacers took the stage with the sixth race with first crop sires Captaintreacherous and Sweet Lou both represented. Ray Schnittker put his "Captain" colt Latissimus Hanover on the lead and set a fair pace through a 1:26.2 three quarters. Following in the pocket was Jimmy Takter (who else) with his Sweet Lou x Blood Diamond colt Blood Money, fanning out as they straightened up and ground past by a length through the 27.2 end to the 1:53.4 mile. Zero Tolerance (D. Miller) split that pair to be second. Adam Bowden's Diamond Creek Farm bred and owns the colt as Diamond Creek Racing. Diamond Creek came right back with another imposing homebred in Blacklight, trained by Takter and driven by Gingras who was a 1:56.2 winner. He's a big colt by Somebeachsomewhere from the champion mare I Luv The Nitelife and handled the assignment like a veteran. Qualifying pacers picked up with the eighth race where a very good older horse, Delta Winner, held off a very good 3 year-old in Stay Hungry. In what amounted to a match race, Brett Miller cut the mile with Delta Winner while Doug McNair sat pocketed with Stay Hungry and when they crossed the wire in 1:49.1 after a 26.3 stretch duel it was Delta the winner. Mark Silva trains for Jeff Snyder. Fourth Dimension is right at the top of the Road To The Hambletonian and he looked the part today, winning a hard fought stretch battle over the good 4 year-old mare Dream Baby Dream (David Miller) in 1:53.3 / 27.1 for Brian Sears. Fourth Dimension closed out a nice day for the Melander barn and moves on to the sophomore classics for owner Courant, Inc. Charts are available on the Meadowlands website. Live racing tonight at The Meadowlands begins at 7:15pm with the Jerseyfest Food Truck Mash-up leading the promotions. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - The $75,000 New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) finals for harness racing 3-year-old pacers and trotters will be raced on Friday's Meadowlands card. Each final holds the possibility of a clean sweep, boasting repeat leg winners in all divisions.   The colt pacers number just two with Melanie's Fran poised to annex the stake as a sophomore, just as he did last season. His lone opponent, Hypnotico, as yet has been unable to muster a challenge to the defending champ. Dave Miller drives and Kevin McDermott trains Melanie's Fran for the 80 Slot Right Stable.   Pacing fillies number five and Hypnotic Tale has won both preliminary legs, resulting in 9-5 morning line favoritism as she departs from post four in the fourth race. It's Dave Miller again with the assignment for trainer Linda Toscano and Ron Mario who bred and raised the filly from his good mare Born Storyteller.   DeWayne Minor is holding the best hand in both trotting finals with Samis Rolin Stone also on the verge of a series sweep in the filly division. She's been a handy winner each time and has the favorite's role in the final with DeWayne doing the driving from post two in the second race for breeder/owner Daniel A Lengacher.   The colt trot (race 3) holds a quartet of competitors with Minor sending Annemette Minor's Shoshie Deo (PP #2 George Brennan) into the fray after being a bit of a surprise winner over defending champ U Need Stones in both legs. In last week's 1:53.4 career best win he stalked U Need Stones throughout, outkicking that rival in the stretch.   Off the racetrack, the Super Hi-5 Jackpot Carry over continues to climb, now in excess of the $240,000 mark. Program pages are available for free at this link.   Nick Salvi

Vernon, NY - A sampling of top Hambletonian prospects will lead the charge to Monday's $500,000 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) trotting finals at Vernon Downs as part of the Memorial Day matinee card beginning at 1:05 pm. The imposing Muscle Mass colt Six Pack (PP#2) equaled Market Share's track record of 1:52.1 in last week's elimination race and needed every bit of that strong effort to get past Helpisontheway by just a half-length on the wire for the win. He's won both of his seasonal starts at Vernon and heads into the $223,673 final (race 8) in top form for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt who owns the colt in partnership with Jeff Gural's Little E, LLC, Stall Kalmar and Lars Berg. Trainer Linda Toscano sends out a pair of leading contenders, both sired by her 2012 Horse of the Year Chapter Seven. The aforementioned Helpisontheway (PP#3 Tim Tetrick) did much of the work before succumbing very late to Six Pack. He's owned by the trainer (as Camelot Stables) and The Bay's Stable. Local owner Ken Jacobs will watch his colt Seven Iron (PP #4 David Miller) who won the second EBC elimination. He's a rock solid trotter who gives an honest effort every time he puts his nose on the gate, was a Grand Circuit winner at The Red Mile and second in the Kindergarten final last season. The route to the $238,613 EBC filly final (race 9) winners circle appears to go through Atlanta, not the city but Rick Zeron's wicked fast Chapter Seven filly. She absolutely cruised to victory in 1:53.1, fastest of three elimination divisions for driver Scott Zeron and appeared to have plenty left. Atlanta will leave from post 4 as she carries the hopes of HA Taylor, Holland Racing and Brad Grant who own her in partnership with trainer Rick Zeron. Svanstedt manages the other two elim winners in Natalie Hanover and Plunge Blue Chip (Svanstedt) who start from the inside most posts respectively on Monday. Plunge Blue Chip was the state's top freshman filly trotter last season and also won the Grand Circuit stake Goldsmith Maid final, earning more than $400,000 at two for the trainer and his partners Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tomas Andersson. Natalie Hanover (Mark MacDonald) took a lifetime mark with her 1:54.1 score last week and seeks her biggest payday for Van Camp Trotting Corp, Anders Olsson, Lars Berg and Bjorn Nasstrom. The supporting card includes consolations for both EBC finals and a $120,000 New York Sires stake divided into three divisions, it's the first battle of the year for the state bred 3-year-old colt pacers. Vernon and the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative have joined to offer a $3,000 guaranteed pool on a Pick 4 wager on races 6-9 that includes both EBC finals. Free program pages for the races included in the wager will be available on the web. From the press box at Vernon Downs    

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands Saturday night card features three series finals and the great Foiled Again's quest to reach 100 career wins. The $47,000 "Escort" final (race 6) pits eight 3-year-old colts & geldings with the very fast but green Thinkbig Dreambig the 9-5 choice on Dave Brower's morning line in just his second career start. Sent away as the 3-5 choice in his maiden voyage last week, Thinkbig Dreambig was ranging up toward the leader in mid-stretch but doing so somewhat erratically then suffered interference in an eventual 4th placed third finish. Trainer Jimmy Takter will take the lines tonight for owners Brixton Medical, Fielding, Anderberg and Falk. KJ's Justine has come to hand in the Rainbow Blue series for sophomore pacing fillies and is the favorite for the $42,500 final (race 7), having swept the two preliminary legs including a 1:52.1 lifetime record last week. She races out of the Linda Toscano barn for owner Ken Jacobs and Eric Abbatiello drives tonight from post 3. The $32,500 Hot Lead final (race 8) for older pacing horses and geldings could be a dogfight and Ballerat Boomerang comes into it off a crushing 5 ¾ length win over the field in leg two. Driver Vinnie Ginsburg put up a perfect steer last week, providing a cover trip and when tipped, the "Boomerang" took flight by the field. He'll begin from post position 8 tonight for Nick Surick who trains for Engel Stable of Illinois and JL Benson Stable. The ageless war-horse Foiled Again has certainly had a storybook career for trainer Ron Burke and partners Weaver Bruscemi and the JJK Stables. Now facing mandatory retirement after this season at age 14, he is the richest Standardbred in history with a career bankroll of $7,573,178. It has taken 309 starts to get there with his win total stuck on 99 since January, so after a few sub-par efforts Burke prescribed a freshening of four months leading up to tonight's return. He'll face a field of six rivals in the fifth race from post two with Jim Pantaleano becoming the 36th driver over his 309 start career. All of the guaranteed wagers are in place for the card and the last race Super Hi-5 Jackpot carry-over has eclipsed $236,000. You may download free program pages here. Post time is 7:15 pm. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands  

The Miss Versatility series for harness racing older mare trotters begins on Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park as the eighth race. The first leg drew a field of nine racing for a purse of $50,000 (CAD).   Making her seasonal debut is Emoticon Hanover, who had a remarkable season in 2017 while winning the Miss Versatility final, the Breeders Crown and the Joie De Vie in world record time of 1:50.2 for owner Serge Godin's Determination Stable and trainer Luc Blais. She's had three conditioning qualifiers, the most recent a 1:56.1 win over the Campbellville oval. James MacDonald will drive the career winner of over $1.25 million from post position #7 on Monday.   The main rival in Monday's race is a familiar one in the venerable Caprice Hill (PP#2 Doug McNair). The two mares battled on several occasions last year, in fact Caprice was at the flank of Emoticon while beaten less than a length in the Breeders Crown. She's earned nearly $1.5 million in her career for owner Tom Hill while residing in the Tony Alagna barn.   Here's the field and a program is available on the web.   8 -- Trot, purse $50,000 MISS VERSATILITY - 1ST LEG - FILLIES & MARES. Post time: 09:50 P.M. 1 Highland Top Hill by Muscle Hill 2 Caprice Hill by Kadabra 3 Dream Together by Muscle Hill 4 Pink Pistol by Cantab Hall 5 Its Hallright by Cantab Hall 6 P L Jill by Kadabra 7 Emoticon Hanover by Kadabra 8 Southwind Tesla by Chapter Seven 9 The Erm by Cantab Hall   Nick Salvi

Vernon, NY - On Friday night, Vernon Downs will host five $12,500 elimination races for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) the first major event of the season for harness racing 3-year-old trotting fillies and colts as races five through nine.   The box was overflowing with entries for the filly division with twenty-six declared for the eliminations resulting in three divisions with the top three on the official order of finish returning for the $265,000 final.   The most accomplished of the lot include Plunge Blue Chip who dominated the class at two, last season's surprise New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) final winner Lucky Ava and the fleet Atlanta who trotted to a 1:52 win in her first start of the new season at The Meadowlands last week.   Plunge Blue Chip and Lucky Ava both hail from the barn of Ake Svanstedt who has no fewer than five fillies in the elims and will drive both on Friday.   The only blemish on Plunge Blue Chip's freshman season was a shocking out of the money finish in the NYSS final where her barn mate Lucky Ava picked up the mantle and scored what is by far her biggest win. Svanstedt owns a piece of each, partnered with Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tomas Andersson on "Plunge" and Little E, LLC and Van Camp Trotting Corp sharing the title on Lucky Ava.   Atlanta captured everyone's attention with her stunning 1:52 win against a field that included older horses and a legitimate Hambletonian contending colt in a Meadowlands overnight last week. She zoomed by the field with a withering stretch burst to claim the win with Scott Zeron driving for his father Rick who trains her. Holland Racing Stable, HA Taylor and Brad Grant own Atlanta in partnership with the trainer.   Svanstedt also has one of the top contenders among the nineteen colts in last year's NYSS final winner Six Pack. A winner five times in nine lifetime outings, Six Pack is the fastest of the colts by virtue of his 1:53.1 win in a NYSS event at Vernon just a week ago. Svanstedt own him in partnership with Little E, Stall Kalmar and Lars Berg.   The second division of colts is a very competitive, balanced field that includes the winner of last year's Kindergarten final, Tito. Driver Andy McCarthy will have to chart a winning course from an outside post eight for the Erv Miller trainee who was third in his seasonal debut last week. Anthony Lombardi, George Golemes and Louis Willinger are Tito's owners.   From the pair of colt divisions, the top four and one of the fifth place finishers drawn by lot will advance to the $248,000 final. Both of the rich finals will be part of the Labor Day matinee card on Monday, May 28.   The EBC eliminations will be carried live on The Meadowlands broadcast, spaced between the Meadowlands races.   Races 6-9 will comprise the Pick 4 with a $2,500 guaranteed pool in concert with the USTA Strategic Wagering initiative. Program pages will available on the web.   First race post time is 6:10 with the EBC races slated to begin at 7:30.   Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) for harness racing 3-year-olds get underway on Friday, May 18 at The Meadowlands.   The once mighty program has diminished to where there are but a handful of horses to compete in each of the $15,000 sophomore divisions, necessitating that both colt races be held off the night card and raced early as non-betting events.   The same two pacing colts who competed in last year's freshman division will match up again with Melanie's Fran (Dave Miller) who swept through the series last season facing his rival Hypnotico (Austin Siegelman) at 6:00 pm. Kevin McDermott trains Melanie's Fran for the 80 Slot Right Stable.   U Need Stones (Yannick Gingras) had his way with the trotting colts as a freshman and he'll look to continue his mastery over three rivals for leading trainer Ron Burke at 6:10. "Stones" has come back strong this season with a win and a second in as many starts this year for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura. Shoshie Deo is the main rival here.   The filly divisions drew five entries in each and will be raced as part of the pari-mutuel card.   Hurrikane Empress (Gingras) is the returning champ of the filly pacing division for trainer John McDermott and she'll begin her title defense in race 1. She swept the division with ease last year and has had a few starts to prepare for this battle for owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing and Pegasis Investment Group.   The filly trot goes as the third race where Princess Marxxx (Gingras) is the returning final winner in what is clearly the most competitive division. She took last year's final for owner/breeder Steve Stewart and was a winner in her most recent overnight contest. Justin Lebo is the trainer.   The NJSS comes back next Friday for leg #2 with the finals set for June 1.   The big news on campus is that Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural will sit for an interview with Dave Brower on the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to permit sports betting in New Jersey. That interview will be on Racing From The Meadowlands at 6:45 pm on The Meadowlands live broadcast.   Post time is 7:15 pm.   Nick Salvi      

East Rutherford, NJ - Harness racing Qualifiers went at 5:00 this evening, Saturday, May 12, at The Meadowlands under overcast skies on a wet fast track with temps in the high 50's and a gusty 7-10 mph headwind in the stretch.   Manchego headlined the Q card as the unbeaten Dan Patch award winning freshman trotting filly of last season made her first public appearance of the season and she picked up right where she left off in the 2017 Breeders Crown final, with a win.   It was a workman-like effort for the talented filly as driver Yannick Gingras settled her mid-pack early through honest fractions then followed the live cover of Top Expectations (Andy McCarthy) before eclipsing that game rival by a pair of lengths to win in 1:53.4 with her last quarter in 27.3 under her own power. Jimmy Takter is the trainer and she is owned by Black Horse Racing, John Fielding and Herb Liverman.   Takter also sent out Nutcracker Sweet from his battalion of sophomore pacing colts and what a performance he put on for driver Tim Tetrick. On not a particularly nice evening he set a comfortable pace then ripped home in 26.2 for a 1:50.2 score. Another colt from Takter's barn that did not race at two, Thinkbig Dreambig (Gingras) went a remarkable trip, actually gaining a bit in that torrid final stanza to be second. HA Taylor, Order By Stable and R. Lombardo own Nutcracker Sweet.   Jimmy took the lines on his most accomplished returning trotting colt, last year's Peter Haughton Memorial winner You Know You Do, eased him to the front by the three-eighths then used a 27.4 final quarter to hold a game first-over Shoshie Deo (D. Minor) at bay by a length in 1:54.1. Wolfgang (Gingras/Takter) made his seasonal bow as well and was a good fourth off a conservative trip. Taylor, Order By, Hatfield, Katz and Libfeld share ownership of the winner.   Sophomore filly trotter Repentance (Tetrick) was a very game 1:53.3 winner, cutting the mile and fighting back after the good Supergirl Riley (McCarthy) poked a head past her early stretch in the 27.2 final quarter. Lina Toscano trains the Diamond Creek homebred.   Bautista (Gingras/ Takter) won in 1:55 and Band Stand (Brett Miller/Tony Alagna) also posted wins on the card.   Nick Salvi    

East Rutherford, NJ - Harness Racing Qualifiers began early at 9:00 this Kentucky Derby morning under cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 60's and a significant wind gusting in their faces in the homestretch. The card opened with a strong field of returning 4-year-old trotters. It resulted in a very close driving finish with Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) prevailing in a photo after an extended stretch battle over Sortie (with new trainer Trond Smedshammer driving) who set the honest fractions and Lindy The Great (Tim Tetrick) who shot the rail with good late trot. The fractions were 28.1, 55.3, 1:24.2 the mile in 1:53.2 with the stretch headwind taking a toll on them finishing. International Moni (Scott Zeron) was fourth in a race where all went well and were under some urging to the wire. The enigmatic Sortie showed dramatic improvement for Smedshammer, looking solid throughout. Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld own Ariana G and Jimmy Takter is her trainer. Sophomore pacing colts were next and Nutcracker Sweet (Tetrick) was strong cutting the mile to win in 1:52 / 28 on his own. Paprike Blue Chip (Corey Callahan) rode the pocket to be second and American History (Gingras) went another good trip, leaving from post nine to fall in fifth then rallied late into the wind to be third. H. Taylor, Order By Stable and R. Lombardo own the winner, also trained in the Takter barn. Last season's Dan Patch award winning Lost In Time and O'Brien award winning Stay Hungry, the top two colts listed on the Road to the Meadowlands Pace squared off in race 3 and the Lost In Time (Zeron) cut the mile to win in 1:51 with a strong 26.3 finish into the wind pretty much under his own power, the third straight winner for Takter. Stay Hungry (Doug McNair) sat a pocket and lacked late clearance, finishing 4th with pace. The 6-year-old Ross Croghan import named Heaven Rocks A (Dave Miller) was ultra-impressive grinding up first over and still gaining into the fast final quarter to be second. Pro Beach (Gingras) also went well this morning to be third. Diamond Creek Racing, J&T Silva, W. Rufenacht and Team S racing own Lost In Time. Eurobound won the fourth race for 3-year-old trotters easily in 1:55.2 / 28 with trainer Domenico Cecere doing the driving today. Unforgettable (D. Miller) cut the mile and Eurobound moved uncovered, eventually wearing that one down for the win. Lindy Farms and Bob Rudolph own the winner, a Love You colt. Marcus Melander put Evaluate on the front and held sway over the late bid from Brothers In Arms (Gingras) for 1:55.1 / 28.1 win in the fifth. Classicchap (Smedshammer) closed well late to be third. Stall TZ owns the winner. Dawson Springs (D. Miller) closed many lengths in late stretch to pick up Hill Street (Takter) in the last few strides for a 1:55.1 / 29.1 win for trainer Tony Alagna who owns him with Brittany Farms and Robert LeBlanc. Bautista (Gingras) was third. Kissin In The Sand (Zeron) just edged Youaremycandygirl (Gingras) on the wire with multiple Dan Patch award winning mare Pure Country (Mark MacDonald) sandwiched between them in a snappy 1:51.2, home in 27.3. To battle with a mare as accomplished as Pure Country certainly reflects well on the pair of fillies just getting their 3-year-old season underway. Nancy Johansson conditions Kissin In The Sand for Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables. Yannick Gingras closed out the morning with a 1:53 / 27.3 win aboard Strong Opinion for Ron Burke. Hurrikane Shorty (Jim Marohn, Jr) gained well late to be second and Dance Blue (MacDonald) third. It's a big day with Derby doings all afternoon and the return of Grand Circuit racing to The Meadowlands tonight with the Cutler Memorial and Graduate series highlighting the card. Post time is 7:15 pm. For full results click here. Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - Friday, May 4 will kick off the harness racing 2018 Meet of Champions at The Meadowlands.   Friday's feature is the sixth race, a conditioned pace for a purse of $17,500 where an accomplished field of seven pacing mares will go forth after the winner's share.   Despite showing individual sub 27 final quarters in each of her last four past performance lines, Pat Lachance will race his good mare Penpal on Lasix for the first time tonight. Known as a deep closer, Penpal has drawn post two for tonight's race and should benefit from the field size of seven. Pat trains and drives and owns the mare in partnerahip with M&M Harness Racing of NY.   It is, of course, KY Derby weekend and the fun starts at 9:30 am with the day-long production on Saturday around the first leg of the Triple Crown. There are contests a plenty, buffets in every room and free wagers on the big race.   The popular Horse Play promotion returns with the Friday card as well.   The live racing program on Saturday brings with it the first Grand Circuit stakes of 2018 at The Meadowlands, the Arthur Cutler Memorial and first leg of the Graduate Series for pacers.   Horizontal wager guarantees are in place and the Jackpot Super Hi-5 carry over has grown to $208,090 and free program pages for the wager may be downloaded here.   Post time on Friday and Saturday for the live racing is 7:15 pm.   Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The Saturday, April 28 harness racing qualifying races at The Meadowlands got underway at 10am under overcast skies to begin with the sun threatening to peek through, temperature in the low 60's and no wind of consequence. Being the top dog at anything has its privileges, as driver Yannick Gingras can attest. His talents have enabled him to be first call for two of the very best trainers in the game, Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter, resulting in him being the driver of many top stakes performers. Those include trotting mares Hannelore Hanover and Ariana G who were, respectively, the top two vote getters in the 2017 Horse of the Year balloting. There is, however, a downside to that lofty perch and that occurs when those types are from the same division and must face each other. They both raced in qualifiers this morning, though not against one and other. At some point, Yannick will have to make a difficult choice. Ariana G was up first in race six and making her first appearance of the new season and she looked fantastic. Yannick put her on the lead and she strolled along comfortable right through the end of the 1:53.3 mile five in front with an effortless 27.1 final quarter. Celebrity Ruth (Trond Smedshammer), certainly no slouch on her own, was a willing second. Jimmy Takter trains Ariana G for Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Hannelore Hanover came up next in her second go of the season and she made a very strong case to keep her driver. Yannick moved the champion mare to the front after Yes Mickey (Svanstedt) took the field by the quarter in 28.1, cut comfortable middle fractions then let her trot home in 27.1 ending the mile in 1:52.2 on her own, looking fabulous. Broadway Donna (Dave Miller) actually closed ground into that fast final stanza to get up for second, though no threat to the winner. Lagerfeld (Jim Marohn, Jr) rallied for third while Yes Mickey gave way to fourth. The day began with Ken Jacobs' talented sophomore Chapter Seven filly Seven Karats (Scott Zeron) winning again, this time leading all the way through even fractions for the 1:54.3 / 29.1 win off by a few on her own. Linda Toscano is the trainer. I'mwhygodmadegirls (Yannick Gingras) was a solid second. Zeron employed similar tactics in race 2 with another good Chapter Seven filly, his dad Rick's Atlanta. Scott got them in line behind him through even numbers then drew off through a 27.1 end to the 1:54 mile in verrrrrrry impressive fashion. Rick Zeron trains for his own interest along with partners Holland Racing, HA Taylor and Brad Grant. Vivacious Allie (Ake Svanstedt) and Sevenbuyeleven (Tim Tetrick) held their respective spots in second and third in a race where there was no passing. Six Pack took a measured 1:54 win, closing out with a 26 and change final quarter for Svanstedt. He tracked Seven Iron (Tetrick) all the way then forged by with something in reserve. Seven Iron held grudgingly and Fashionwoodchopper (Dave Miller) flew home into the fast last quarter with no urging and no trotting hopples. Svanstedt trains and owns the winner, a son of Muscle Mass, with Little E, LLC, Stall Kalmar and Lars Berg. Top WEG driver Doug McNair was in to drive the morning and he nudged Missile Hill past Brothers In Arms (Jimmy Takter) right on the wire to get a 1:54.3 / 28.2 win. Dawson Springs was an even third in his first go of the year for Dave Miller and Sonofamillionaire (Svandstedt) finished fourth after cutting the mile. Brad Grant owns and Tony Alagna trains the winner. Race 5 winner Helpisontheway (Tetrick) was originally programmed as #1 in race 4 but moved and left from post 9 in the next race. He landed in third as Godspell Hall (Gingras) led through unhurried fractions then was moving and drew clear when that rival went off stride at the ¾ pole. Helpisontheway was well in hand to Tetrick through a 27 flat end to a 1:54.2 mile. Zephyr Kronos (Takter) the enigmatic son of European star Ready Cash looked comfortable and closed considerable ground into the fast last quarter to get up for second. Linda Toscano trains the winner, another by her Horse of the Year sire Chapter Seven and owns the colt as Camelot Stable in partnership with The Bays Stable. Race 8 saw the start of the pacing races and O'Brien award winning freshman of last season Stay Hungry made his 2018 debut from the rail with Doug McNair driving for Tony Alagna. McNair sat a pocket as Pedro Hanover (D. Miller) set an honest pace, emerged as they turned into the stretch and rolled right by the leader to win in 1:50.4 / 27.1 under no urging. Babes Dig Me (Brett Miller) rallied well late and Pedro hung in there for minor spoils. Brad Grant and Irwin Samelman own the winner, a son of Somebeachsomewhere. There were a bunch of top sophs in the ninth and Hayden Hanover (Andy Miller) came away the winner in 1:52.2 / 26.1. Andy put the SBSW colt on the lead early in 29 - 58 when American History (Gingras) came calling, not content with those dawdling numbers. That one led into the stretch and gave way grudgingly as Hayden rallied by. Sporting Chance (McNair) was a solid third while the Dan Patch award winning top freshman pacer of 2017, Lost In Time (Zeron), was fourth after a conservative trip. Julie Miller trains the winner for Pinske Stables and Jim Simpson. Another of trainer Tony Alagna's seemingly endless group of sophomore pacing colts, Captain Deo, is emerging as a top talent. He won back this morning in 1:51.2 closing into a 26.2 final quarter for Brett Miller, fighting past a stubborn No Easy Day (Gingras) and Twin B Tuffenuff for the score. He's a SBSW from the great race mare Worldly Beauty racing for Alagna Racing, Joe Sbrocco, In The Gym Partners and Captain Deo Partners. Python Blue Chip (Gingras) was a winner in the 11th, converting a perfect trip into a 1:53.3 / 26.3 score. Hurrikane Shorty (Jim Marohn, Jr) cut the mile and held second over closers inside and out. Ron Burke trains the winner, the owners listed are Ake Svanstedt, Blue Chip Bloodstock and Stable 45. Kissin In The Sand took the exciting 12th race, sitting a pocket to Rainbow Room (D. Miller) then finding a seam up the inside to edge by the leader and hold off the closing Youaremycandygirl (Gingras) in a 26.3 end to the 1:52.1 mile. This match-up of the three top freshman pacing fillies of last season resulted in them finishing right across the track. Filibuster Hanover was absolutely vicious in the last, following stablemate Rock N Tony through swift fractions then ripping from the pocket and driving off into the sunset with a 25.3 end to a 1:49.3 mile. It was his second go of the season and looks like trouble for potential foes in next week's Graduate Series opener. Rock N Tony held up for second while the great mare Pure Country (Mark MacDonald) was a solid third in her seasonal debut. You may view the charts from today's races on the web and the replays are also posted here. Live racing tonight at 7:15 pm. Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands and the SBOA of NJ will again cooperate to provide access to the racetrack for those horsemen wishing to train their young horses over the harness racing oval during the month of May beginning on Thursday, May 3.   The track will be open each Thursday in May from 7am to 11am and the paddock is open and available during those hours.   The cost for these sessions will be covered by the SBOA of NJ.   Please call the Race Office at 877-782-2537 by noon each Wednesday with an estimated number of horses so preparations may be made.   Nick Salvi        

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