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At the age of 81, Dan Graber says he’s been “up and down the pike a few times.” What he’s never been, at least to this point, is on the road to the Hambletonian. The Indiana resident is hoping this could be the year with his homebred trotter DG’s Caviar, who is undefeated in three races this season at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. DG’s Caviar is the 1-5 morning-line favorite in Wednesday’s $15,000 final of the Cardinal Series at Hoosier. Graber knows it’s a long way from a conditioned series for non-winners of one race to the sport’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters, but DG’s Caviar has impressed him from day one. “I can’t believe what kind of horse I got,” said Graber, who lives in Shipshewana and has been around horses since his childhood. “I started jogging him (just prior to him turning age 2) and I saw right away he was something special. It was just the way he went, and he wanted to go, and he was absolutely perfectly gaited. “I like the way he’s built and the way he can go. He’s a beautiful horse and he’s smart. He’s a nice horse. Everybody likes him. He’s a perfect mannered horse except for one thing; he doesn’t like you to play with his ears. I have a certain way I have to get the bridle on him. Other than that, he’s perfect.” DG’s Caviar is a son of Graber’s stallion Prime Time Caviar, who passed away two years ago, and his 20-year-old mare Dazzling Kosmos, who is no longer able to be bred. Graber also was the breeder of Prime Time Caviar, who won five races and had a mark of 1:57.2 despite battling health issues in his limited career. “He was a much faster horse than his record,” Graber said. Graber was introduced to Standardbreds when his father bought a retired pacer for the family’s 200-acre farm. “We farmed with horses,” said Graber, who grew up Amish. “We used to breed our buggy mare to the stallion, Herbert Patch. They were tough.” When he was in his early 20s, Graber drove in a harness race for the first time at a county fair. “I was working in construction and quit my job,” Graber said. “I had this pacing mare, Patsys Blue Ribbon. In our first race, I was in front at the half but I got beat. “The next day, I was back at my construction job,” he added, laughing. Graber continued in the construction business for a while before embarking on a 55-year career as a farrier. He also continued to drive in races, until 2015, and train horses on his own half-mile track. The only horse he has trained in the past two years is DG’s Caviar. “I’ve had a lot of experience in this business, both shoeing and training,” Graber said. “I’ve been up and down the pike a few times.” Last year, DG’s Caviar went off stride in all three of his races, but was discovered to have an undescended testicle, which was removed. “People told me the best thing I could do for the horse was to turn him out and let him mature and develop,” Graber said. “It was hard for me to do, but I did it, and I got a nice horse.” So far this year, DG’s Caviar has won each of his starts by a minimum of 2-3/4 lengths. His best win time of 1:56 is tied for 22nd among all 3-year-old trotters this season. In addition to the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes, DG’s Caviar is eligible to the Old Oaken Bucket, Circle City, and Indiana Sire Stakes. “Hopefully he can get to the Hambletonian, but he’s going to have to prove himself before that happens,” Graber said. “Naturally I’d like to keep on winning. That’s what everybody wants, right? I hope he keeps right on going.” Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Wednesday at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The card also includes the finals of the Mya Tri and Chad E. Carlton Trotting Series plus the second appearance of the year for 2017 Breeders Crown champion Fiftydallarbill in the Open Trot. For complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

CHESTER PA – The Jim Campbell stable was certainly primed for the Tuesday morning qualifiers at Harrah’s Philadelphia, as four of its members won their a.m. events, all owned by Fashion Farms. Last year’s million-dollar winner Crystal Fashion, now four, went his own third quarter in 27.4 to sweep his field in 1:57 for driver Tim Tetrick. The Cantab Hall gelding had won a qualifier a tick slower last week. Two three-year-old trotting fillies won for Campbell. An intriguing one is Millie’s Possession, a daughter of Possess The Will out of Fashion Athena, a $300,000+ winner who won in 1:53.2 at two. Millie’s Possession did not race at two, and went in 2:03.1 in her first line last week, but today she came home in 28.3 for Dexter Dunn to win in 1:56.2. Her likely stakes compatriot is the Donato Hanover miss Jazzy Fashion, home in 1:57.1 for David Miller  Miller also handled the fourth winner for Campbell, the Chapter Seven sophomore gelding Chapter Fashion, who opened a big lead and reported home first in 1:56.1. Other qualifiers of note: --        The Heston Blue Chip filly Zero Tolerance, second in the Breeders Crown and Three Diamonds last year, who came his own last split in 27.2 to win in 1:53.1, with Miller up for trainer Joe Holloway; --       Another sophomore pacing filly, the Somebeachsomewhere distaff Trillions Hanover, who caught New York Sire Stakes champion Money Shot Hanover at the end of a 1:54.3 mile for Miller (he had four wins on the day) and trainer Tom Fanning;  --      The Muscle Hill colt Prospect Hill, at one point a winner of seven of eight in his freshman form before tailing off at the end of the year, looking good with a 1:57 wire-to-wire win for Andy and Julie Miller; ·        And the Mach Three mare Shebang N, winner of her last five starts in 2018, and today rallying from the two-hole in 1:53.4 for Dexter Dunn and trainer Nifty Norman.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - On Saturday, May 4th, join Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment - for an exciting day and night of simulcast & live racing action, including the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs. Grandstand doors open at 9:00 am with free parking and free admission. With a full day of racing guests can enjoy a delicious lunch in the second floor Gallery. The $39.95 Derby themed lunch buffet begins at 11:30 am. Dishes include sides and starters like mashed sweet potatoes, home-made mac & cheese, freshly baked corn bread, and sweet & spicy chicken wings, entrees like roasted chicken, beef sliders and BBQ ribs, and assorted pastries and cookies for dessert. For reservations call 201-THE-BIG-M (201-843-2446). All day, enjoy Woodford Reserve bourbon, the "Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby," and bourbon specials including mint juleps along with Grey Goose in the K-Derby cocktail for $10. Each specialty drink is served in an official commemorative 2019 Kentucky Derby glass. Ladies are welcome to express their fashion sense and style by entering the $1,000 Derby Hat Contest with no boundaries on how over-the-top the headwear can go. The most creative hat wins the $500 grand prize. Sign up between 2:00pm to 4:45pm with the judging at 5:00pm in the Winner's Circle. Plus all guests over 18 years of age can enter the $100 Derby Win Wager contest. Ten lucky contestants will be selected to place a $100 win wager on any horse of their choice in the Kentucky Derby. Entry forms are available in the Derby program and at the Player's Club desk. After the Derby, guests are welcome to enjoy a night of live harness racing at the Meadowlands with the first post time set for 7:15pm. Pink, the tiered dining room with perfect views of the live racing action, will feature a few Southern inspired options on the $54.95 buffet created by Executive Chef Dennis Sammarone. Pink will open at 4:30 pm and reservations are strongly recommended as space is extremely limited. To reserve a table call 201-THE-BIG-M (201-843-2446). Prizes continue into the night with ten $100 win wagers on live harness racing, the ten contestants will be selected throughout the night. Entry forms are available in the live racing program and at the Player's Club desk. Fans can also participate in the Horseplayer Car Giveaway by picking up a FREE horse to toss at the Players Club desk or Horseplay table in front of the Winner's Circle. Participants attempt to throw their numbered horse into the window of a moving car. A winner, randomly chosen from all the horses that make it into the car, will receive a $100 betting voucher. Each night's winner will be entered into a grand prize drawing to win a brand new 2019 Toyota C-HR on, Friday, August 2. After the horse toss each night, children get to pick up all the horses left on the track and receive a FREE ice cream from The Cafe'. For every horse that makes it into the Horseplay car, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment donates $10 to the designated monthly charity. The 2019 May donation recipient is A Lot to Grow: https://www.alottogrow.org/index.html The 2019 June donation recipient is Humane Society of Bergen County Lost Pet, Inc: http://www.humanesocietybergen.org/ The 2019 July/August donation recipient is Horse Rescue United - http://horserescueunited.org/   For more information visit http://playmeadowlands.com/event_detail.aspx?id=1793 Reminder, you must be 18+ to enter wager on racing and enter any promotions. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.   Rachel Ryan

East Rutherford, NJ - The spring of 2019 has been a good one at The Meadowlands. Handle is up as a result of greater field size and the gradual return to better quality horses, the logical explanation being increased purses made possible by the supplemental funding from the state. The horseplayers are voting with their wagering dollars and handle begets handle, that is fact. The entry box has been solid. There have been enough horses entered to card 13 races for each live racing night, most of them with full fields, which is exactly what The Meadowlands' customers desire. "We have momentum that we haven't had in a while and I want it to continue. We appreciate the support at the entry box by those trainers racing with us this spring, that's a big part of it," stated Meadowlands GM Jason Settlemoir. "I was excited watching the races this weekend. There is no question that horses closing in on the leader as they approach the wire with five or six across the track in deep stretch creates excitement. We have to demonstrate to the legislators that our product is enhanced and improved to continue the purse allocation, we're going in the right direction and it must continue." Saturday's card resulted in another night of over $3 million in all sources handle on The Meadowlands races, which were interesting and entertaining. The track is playing fair, a bit less speed favoring, with horses able to win from virtually anywhere. In every one of the races this past Saturday, the fifth place finisher was no more than 6 lengths from the winner, most were far closer, and in the 11th race the first five finishers were separated by just a head.   The competitiveness of the races, leading to fewer short priced favorites, is an important component of what drives handle. The average win payoff on Saturday was slightly over $10 and as pointed out in Dave Little's release the percentage of winning favorites over the past two weekends (9 from 52 races) is around 17 percent.   With several of the top Meadowlands/Grand Circuit drivers absent for most of the winter/spring meet it has provided an opportunity for the next generation of talent to ply their trade on the big stage. Their desire to succeed when the chance presents itself, along with less familiarity within the driver colony, has made for some exciting racing.   "I thought the racing Saturday night was fun to watch. The drivers closed the holes which makes it much more competitive and the handle reflects that. Hopefully with the championship season on the horizon and many of our regular drivers returning from Yonkers after the Levy I hope we will continue to see the same level of competitive driving with the elimination of the courtesy holes that we have seen for the last several years. There is no question that the racing on Saturday was the best I have seen in many years and reminded me of the good old days of the Meadowlands when horses either got to the top or were parked when they left from the outside. It obviously makes for a much better product," said Meadowlands CEO Jeff Gural.   Nick Salvi

Plainville, MA --- Heavy downpours, steady wind, a sloppy track and seven formidable foes could not prevent Starznheaven from capturing the $16,000 Open Handicap pace at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (April 22). Avatartist (Mark Eaton) was the fastest off the wings and skimmed through the water to the quarter in :26.2. But despite the torrid pace for any condition, Shawn Gray was not content to sit and pulled Starznheaven, took the lead and then dared everyone to catch him. Starznheaven got to the half in :54.2 and the three quarters in 1:23. There Tisadream N (Mitchell Cushing) pulled from third and paced even with Avatartist but the pair were still two-lengths behind the leader heading into the stretch. Starznheaven was motoring strong under a hand-drive from Gray while his pursuers tried to catch him, but that was not the case this day as Starznheaven held off their bid to win by two lengths in 1:51.4. The time was a new seasonal mark for the winner. It was the third win of the year and 40th of the career for Starznheaven ($3.60) who is owned by Marc Reynolds, Scott Dillon and Bradford Veilleux and trained by Jimmy Nickerson. In the $15,000 Winners-Over pacing co-feature, Gibbs (Mitchell Cushing) got away a distant seventh at the quarter before pulling third-over in a lively outer flow and then tipped three-wide coming off the far turn to circle the field and pull away to a two-length win in 1:53.1. It was the second straight win at Plainridge Park for Gibbs ($17.20) who is owned by Rick Howles. Eric Beach does the conditioning. Mitchell Cushing and Shawn Gray both had driving triples on the card while trainer Jimmy Nickerson did the same on the training side. The oppressive racing conditions provided some premium payouts on Monday including Rockin Cougar (Nick Graffam) who paid $58.40 in the ninth and All Artist (Drew Campbell) that returned $61.20 in the tenth. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (April 25) with post time at 4 p.m. For more information of harness racing in Massachusetts log on to the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts at www.sominc.net and Plainridge Park at www.plainridgeparkcasino.com.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

WILKES-BARRE PA –Cardiff had to go the dreaded “tuck-then-first-over” journey in the $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championship for pacing fillies and mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday, but the Sportswriter harness racing mare showed rare pluck in grinding raw for the last 5/8 and still getting the decision in a lifetime best 1:51.1. Cardiff, who had a first and two seconds in her Weiss prelims, tucked midpack from post eight for driver Simon Allard, as a pair of horses on a three-race win streak, 2-5 favorite Ghostwriter and Girl’s Got Rhythm, argued through a smoking 26.2 quarter, with the latter claiming the top at that point. Cardiff was again on the move under the wire the first time as Girl’s Got Rhythm led the field to the half in 54.4, then cut into the pacesetter’s advantage by the 1:22.3 3/4s, with the chalk lurking in the pocket. Turning for home it looked like the trip was starting to wear on Cardiff, as Ghosttothepost went to the Pocono Pike to try to catch Girl’s Got Rhythm. But Cardiff dug deep into her talent pool and gamely paced on to be 1½ lengths ahead at the wire, with Ghosttothepost next, a neck ahead of Girl’s Got Rhythm. Simon’s brother Rene trains the courageous winner for Allard Racing Inc. and Carmen Carson. Also on the Tuesday card were three $15,000 final preliminary round divisions of the Weiss Series for trotting males, and the Credit Winner four-year-old My Lindy Winner established himself as the likely Weiss Championship favorite by sweeping his three prelims, here scoring in 1:55.3 to reman undefeated in six seasonal starts. Though the Rob Harmon trainee won his other two prelims by six and four lengths, this half length victory over pacesetter Dover Dony may have been the most impressive of the trio, as Jim Morrill Jr. sent the horse uncovered from third at the 5/8, and his trotter responded by gaining into a 28.1 last quarter and finishing a measured winner. The Conway Hall gelding Hammer Creek must like suspense, as he had two wins in the Weiss prelims, but in both victories his winning margin was only a nose, on Tuesday over the wild-charging Livinonthedash in 1:55.3. Eric Carlson came uncovered at the 3/4, went to the lead in the stretch, then withstood the flying Livinonthedash for trainer Kenneth Hess Jr. and owner Richard Ciesielski. Lightfootedlegend, like his stablemate in the Erv Miller barn Livinonthedash, made his first start in the Weiss, and the Mr Cantab gelding broke his maiden in fine style, coming out on the far turn and catching pacesetting Higgs Boson by ¾ of a length in 1:56.3. Marcus Miller guided the four-year-old for the Ervin Miller Stable Inc, Ronald Michelon, and Harvey Eisman. Despite the good performances, the two Weiss debutants for the Millers did not finish in the top nine preliminary pointwinners (although they may make a $15,000 consolation, depending on how many and who declares in). The unofficial top nine pointwinners heading for next Monday’s $30,000 Weiss Championship in this group are: 1. My Lindy Winner, 2. Hammer Creek, 3. Higgs Boson, 4. Chapter And Ruth, 5. Dover Dony, 6. Got No Money Honey, 7. Keystone Thunder, 8. Loving Life, and 9. Teardown This Wall, with Flammable tenth and the pair of Brandywine Battle and London Hanover tied for eleventh in the shaping up of the “AEs” and the consolation PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

HARRINGTON, Del. - George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership's Daiymir ($5.80, Montrell Teague) was a 1:51.3 winner in the featured $18,000 Open at Harrington Raceway Monday. The Clyde Francis-trainee angled off the rail in the stretch and was full of pace, surging by his harness racing rivals impressively for two length length win over Slick Tony and Always The Sun. It was the fourth win of the year for the Mr. Wiggles-Cookie Money colt. The race capped off a pick four sequence that saw four straight horses from post four victorious for an uncommon 4-4-4-4 pick four payoff which paid $58 for the .50 cent base bet. Teague, Mike Cole, Allan Davis Tony Morgan and Ross Wolfenden each had driving doubles. Live racing continues a Monday through Wednesday schedule. Matthew Sparacino

LEBANON, OH - The Ron Burke Stable has another superstar on its roster having assumed the training of Mission Accepted for his four-year-old harness racing campaign. The 4-year-old son of Manofmanymissions won 12 of 21 races at ages two and three for veteran Ohio conditioner Jeff Conger, earning a hefty $370,454. Owners Knox Services Inc. and David Wills have opted to hand the reins to Burke now that the Ohio juvenile events are in Mission Accepted's past and he'll soon likely be tackling the top aged trotters in the sport. As part of the Burke Brigade, Mission Accepted has reeled off three straight impressive triumphs in Miami Valley Raceway's weekly $25,000 Open Trot, all from assigned outside post positions, to start his 2019 campaign. The latest win came Monday afternoon (April 22) in 1:52.3 for driver Brett Miller. Content to let Pass The Vape (Derek Watiker) and Pittsburgh Hanover (Brady Galliers) each take a turn on the front end through fractions of :27.3 and :55.3, Mission Accepted gradually moved up to third on the outside at the 1:23.3 three quarters station, then breezed home in a :29 final panel to hold off fast-closing No Whip Chip (Dan Noble). Pittsburgh Hanover held on to garner the show dough. Racing resumes Tuesday afternoon at Miami Valley with a 14-race matinee commencing at 2:05 p.m. There will also be a special "make-up" matinee program on Thursday afternoon (April 25).   Gregg Keidel

YONKERS, NY, Monday, April 22, 2019-There's a cool $73,000 up for grabs Tuesday night (Apr. 23rd) in the final of Yonkers Raceway/Standardbred Owners Association of New York Bonus Trotting Series. After three harness racing preliminary rounds, Swansea emerged as the only perfect participant, winning each as an odds-on favorite. The 4-year-old Swan for All gelding landed post position No. 3 in the seventh-race finale, with George Brennan driving for co-owners Triple D Stables & Dana Parham and trainer Scott DiDomenico. For the season, Swansea has seven wins and three seconds in a dozen starts ($91,375). Joey Bats (Jason Bartlett, post 8) sandwiched a pair of series wins around a second to Swansea. The 4-year-old Holiday Road gelding, 4-for-7 this season, is trained by Andrew Harris for co-owners Marc Reynolds, Scott Dillon and Michele Nelson. Rich and Miserable (Dave Miller, post 7) uncorked a solid rally to chase home Joey Bats a week ago after he won his previous start, while Chasin' Dreams (Jordan Stratton, post 6) had a win, a second and a third in his trio of tries. Omaha Omaha (Tim Tetrick, post 1), Henderson Seelster (Mark MacDonald, post 2), No Excuses (Scott Zeron, post 4) and Whether or Not Fi (Yannick Gingras, post 5) round out the roster. All entrants, save for Omaha Omaha, are eligible for an SOA-paid $10,000 bonus for winning the final. A $35,000 series consolation goes as the fourth race. The series was open to 3-year-olds and their elders who were non-winners of six parimutuel races and/or $100,000 through this past Feb. 1st (winners over $150,000 lifetime through that same date ineligible). First post for the 10-race card is 6:50 PM.   Frank Drucker Director of Publicity Yonkers

Columbus, OH - The U.S. Trotting Association (USTA), in conjunction with the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, is seeking applicants between the ages of 16-20 to participate as members of its Youth Leadership Development Subcommittee. Deadline for application is Wednesday (May 1). The online application is available by clicking here. Written applications must include a statement of recommendation from an industry participant. Currently there are open positions in USTA Districts: 2 (Michigan, Indiana) 3 (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Hawaii and Alaska) 4A (Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas) 8 (New York) 8A (New York) 11 (Delaware, D.C., Maryland and Virginia) If selected to serve on the subcommittee, delegates will be involved in projects with USTA staff and directors to improve the youth experience in harness racing and promote harness racing to a younger audience. Delegates will benefit from possible academic credit, opportunities for published work and leadership training. Applicants must be or become a USTA member or USTA youth member. One delegate will be selected for each USTA district. Districts are listed at www.ustrotting.com/directors.cfm. The term of service for those selected will be two years. For additional information, contact USTA Director Gabe Wand at gabewand@yahoo.com or 608.574.5468.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

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 harness racing horses over the oval during the month of May beginning on Thursday, May 2. The track will be open each Thursday in May from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. 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

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing driver Tyler Buter recorded the 3000th driving victory of his career during a special Easter Sunday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Buter rallied Daddy Let Me Drive into a 28.1 last quarter, closing furiously in the last 1/16 to be up right on the money. The 33-year-old Buter, from a famous racing family, showed early talent in the sulky when he recorded his first win with I Luv My Pasture at the Gladwin (MI) fair before his 17th birthday. Along the way to his 3000 wins and almost $35 million in sulky earnings, Buter had his best money year in 2015, when his mounts brought home over $5 million; his best year for visiting the winners circle was 2007, when he won 444 times - while driving at 30 different tracks, more than half fairs in his native Michigan. Tyler Buter was also able to rouse a huge last 1/16 out of Two AM to overhaul favored Fearless Man late and take the $21,500 featured trot in 1:53.2. The Muscle Massive gelding made atonement for an uncharacteristic break last time, tucking in early, then coming on uncovered, and still able to roll home a length to the good over the chalk while raising his earnings to $368,460 for trainer Todd Buter and the ownership of Buter Farm Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs. Two AM The Chapter Seven miss Quincy Blue Chip trotted the fastest mile by a three-year-old filly anywhere in North America so far this year, and trotted faster than any three-year-old on a 5/8-mile track in 2019, when she took her seasonal debut in a lifetime best of 1:53.4 in one of two $17,000 cofeatures. Jim Morrill Jr. had the swift miss behind fast fractions of 27.2 and 55.3, moved out to challenge the pacesetter before the 1:24.2 3/4s, then drew away from her field for trainer Gareth Dowse and Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. Shadow Cat had an adventurous journey in taking the $17,000 cofeature on the pace in 1:53. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding was looped out of the gate by JK Musicman and remained outside to continue on frontward, only to have to briefly dodge "JK" as that rival went on a break, then went to the infield. Shadow Cat hit the quarter in 26.1 while forcing main rival Tivo Hanover, who was carried wide early, then went to the half in 57 and looked comfortable nearing the 1:25.3 ¾. But Shadow Cat suddenly took a bad step, with Tivo Hanover easing outside from the two-hole. However, the winner of $165,660 righted himself immediately, then dug back in to hold off the surge of Tivo Hanover by a neck in a 27.2 last quarter for driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Jennifer Bongirono, and owners Howard Taylor, David Rovine Stable LLC, and Tom Lazarro. The first of the 2019 $30,000 Weiss Series Championships takes place on Monday's twilight card at The Downs, with Ghosttothepost trying to complete a Weiss sweep after taking all three of her preliminaries. She'll be handled by George Napolitano Jr. as she begins from post five in the nine-horse field of pacing distaffs. PHHA / Pocono

A genetic study of Norwegian-Swedish Coldblooded Trotter harness racehorses revealed eight major genes likely related to their success on the track, some of which drive the horses’ abilities to learn and remember. Success on the trot tracks isn’t all about brawn. There’s quite a bit of brain in there, as well. Sure, a harness race winner needs to be fast. But he’s also got to adjust to—and even anticipate—his driver’s demands, navigate around other horses and their sulkies, and, most importantly, not break into gallop even when trotting at high speeds. And there are genes for that—ones that code for intelligence. New genome-wide studies on harness racehorses revealed eight major genes that appear to be related to their success on the track. While most of those genes are related to physical fitness and ability, some drive the ability to learn and remember. “Trotting on a racetrack is not a particularly natural act for the horse compared to how its wild ancestors were moving,” said Gabriella Lindgren, MSc, PhD, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics. “These horses need to be able to adapt to the handling and interaction with humans, the environment, and also trotting on the racetrack.” Fellow researcher Eric Strand, PhD, of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, in Oslo, agreed. “Most good performance horses not only trust their handlers, but they are smart and learn to adapt to the situations they are placed in,” he said. In their study, the researchers analyzed DNA from 613 Norwegian-Swedish Coldblooded Trotters (NSCT) to look for SNPs (sections of genes) that consistently appeared to be associated with the horses’ performance (wins, earnings, speed, and disqualifications due to breaking into gallop during a race). They chose this breed instead of the Standardbred because it has a small population, making it easier to control for other influences, they said. They identified more than 30 SNPs that appeared to have strong or possible roles in harness racing success, the research team reported. They narrowed the search to eight genes that showed a strong correlation with performance. Among those genes were four with clear physical implications and two with links to intelligence, learning, and memory: ATPase copper transporting beta (ATP7B): Helps get copper out of cells, potentially reducing muscle stiffness; Phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase type 1 beta (PIP5K1B): Might affect neuron development and oxidative stress; Phosphodiesterase 3A (PDE3A): Plays a role in cardiovascular function; Inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase D (INPP5D) & SRY-box 5 (SOX5): Involved in embryonic development and immune responses; Potassium channel regulator (KCNRG): Manages potassium movement in cells, possibly related to learning ability and exercise tolerance; and Dedicator of cytokinesis 8 (DOCK8): Influences intelligence and motor skills, probably including the ability to maintain a gait. Investigating NSCT genes might reveal the significance of the genes coding for mental capacities, they said, as they don’t trot at high speeds as naturally as Standardbreds do. And this might require them to have even more concentration, learning, intelligence, and memory. “NSCTs race in trot, which is not their natural gait when moving at high speeds,” said contributing researcher Kim Jäderkvist Fegraeus, PhD, also of SLU. “Standardbreds, on the other hand, have been selected for harness racing performance for a longer time and do not appear to have the same level of problems with their racing technique when first introduced to training compared with NSCTs. As a result, it is possible that there is a genetic factor influencing how fast some NSCTs learn technique, which ultimately would be correlated with how well and how fast they start their racing career.” For Strand, the mental capacities “maximize the performance potential,” he said. “The NSCT breed includes many individuals which are overly stressed at times and burn unnecessary energy by pulling hard on the bit and reins during racing. This then prevents them from allocating their physiological resources during a race. The current study was able to capture these horses, along with the superior ‘smarter’ horses, which have learned to cope and optimize their physiologic capabilities in front of large audiences.” Brandon Velie, BSc, MSc, PhD, contributing researcher from SLU, added “The current study is just another step in better understanding what makes a horse successful in sport/competition. In this case, we were looking at trotting performance; however, as most equestrians/horsemen would tell you, a similar case can be made for all equine athletic competitions: To be successful, a horse needs not only the right physiology, but also the right mentality.” The harness racing industry in Norway and Sweden welcomes genomics research in their field and views it as a useful tool for enhancing horse performance as well as welfare, he added. “Our recommendations at this time would be to keep working closely with researchers as a continued partnership between industry and academia,” he said. “This is the key to applied research, which can truly have a positive impact on a breed and industry.” The study, “A genome-wide association study for harness racing success in the Norwegian-Swedish coldblooded trotter reveals genes for learning and energy metabolism,” was published in BMC Genetics. Reprinted with permission of The Horse ABOUT THE AUTHOR Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 20, 2019  - "She's a tough SOB with big lungs." Even-money harness racing favorite Shartin N (Tim Tetrick, $4) employed the same tactic she did a season ago, winning Saturday night's $402,600 final of Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker. As was the case in the evening $663,260 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, both were the richest incarnations in the respective histories. Shartin N, from post position No. 6 among the high-end mares, was away fourth as Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan) and Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) were dueling early. The latter retook from the former by the :27.2 opening quarter-mile before Shartin N was out and moving again. She made the lead just before a :55.2 intermission, then finished off the 11th Matchmaker from there (1:23.3, 1:52.1) in her fastest purse mile of the season, Shartin N became the first lass to defend this race's title and the first to win it more than once. From the hinterlands came uncoupled stablemate Bettor Joy N (Dexter Dunn) to get second, beaten a length-and-a-half, with Apple Bottom Jeans, Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett) and Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr.) settling for the smaller envelopes. A first-up Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley), Ideal Lifestyle A (Jordan Stratton) and a backpedaling Feelin' Red Hot brought up the rear. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Down Under Tintin in America miss co-owned by her escort, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King & trained by Jim King Jt. it was her fourth win in five starts. The exacta paid $21.60, the triple returned $77.50 and the superfecta paid $301.50. "I've put her in spots before where I didn't think she would reach and she just digs down and finds something," Tetrick said. "When I saw Corey (Callahan, with Apple Bottom Jeans) had to go hard to get the lead, let George (Brennan, Feelin' Red Hot) go and retake, I thought I'd take my chance and push the envelope and he let me go. "(Shartin N) is a great mare; she's proven it time in and time out," Tetrick said. "For her to do what she's done, make a million dollars (in 2018), it speaks for itself." A $75,000 series consolation was won by Tetrick-driven and King Jr.-trained Newborn Sassy ($3.50) in a career-ending 1:54. The 6-year-old lass, who's off to be bred to Captaintreacherous, retires with 33 wins in 92 career starts and just under $1,1 million. "There's a special place in my heart for her," Tetrick said. Frank Drucker

Saturday marked the kickoff of the 2019 edition of the harness racing JP Morel Memorial Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel. There were two divisions for the young colt and gelding pacers, each of which went for a purse of $10,000. The series' clear favorite heading into it was Energyzone Hanover (American Ideal). The three year old pacer came into the race with a three-for-three record this season and with four consecutive wins overall dating back to last year. The betting public was not deterred when the Monica Krist trainee drew the outside post for leg one of the Morel Memorial Pace and still made the sophomore his race's 2-5 favorite. Despite getting an easy lead and not facing a challenge until the final turn, Energyzone Hanover (Billy Dobson) was defeated on Saturday night as the Dave Byer-trained Super Roll (Roll With Joe) got the best of him in the stretch. Super Roll, who set a lifetime mark in leg one of the series as he scored in 1:55, paid $13.40 in the mild upset. Jimmy Devaux piloted Super Roll to the career-best victory. Energyzone Hanover had to settle for second-place despite racing well once again. In didn't take long for Dobson and Krist to avenge the defeat in the leg one try as their Mantario (Sportswriter) made good in the other division of the $10,000 Morel Pace on Saturday. Mantario was the big favorite while coming in off four consecutive second-place finishes but shook his seconditis as Dobson moved the three year old pacer out to the early lead. They never looked back, stopping the timer in 1:54.2 for the decisive leg one victory. Mantario gave Dobson, the meet's leading driver, one of his four winners on the Saturday card. Leg two of the seventh annual Morel Memorial Pacing Series will take place next Saturday night with the $30,000+ Final scheduled for the following weekend. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12 noon first post. Melissa Simser

Y ONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 20, 2019 - Turns out, it wasn't a fair fight. Odds-on Western Fame (Dan Dube, $2.50) drilled his seven harness racing foes Saturday night (Apr. 20th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $663,260 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. The prelim points leader having won four of his five starts (with a second), the 1-4 favorite dispatched his foes with stakes-record-time-matching ease on a cool and windy Westchester evening. If you were in search of drama, go read something else. As for Western, Fame, from post position No. 5, he gave nothing else a shot (-26.4; 55.3; 1:22.3; 1:50.4). He was three-wide early to get around pole-sitting Anythingforlove A (Joe Bongiorno) and JJ Flynn (Tim Tetrick). The mile equaled Silver Almahurst's long-standing (1993) stakes record as well as his own (and Lyons Steel's) fastest of the local season. While Western Fame was door-slamming-his two-length lead into the lane widened to 4¾ lengths at the wire-there were others who raced credibly in North America's richest harness race of 2019 to date. Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy), last at the half, closed from fourth-over to snatch second, snapping More the Better N (Scott Zeron). Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland), meanwhile, left nothing in the chamber from behind the eight-ball. He found an early four-hole, then challenged first-up before giving way grudgingly and finishing fourth. The Wall (Andy Miller) came away with the final pay envelope, with The Downtown Bus (Brian Sears) and the retreating pair of Anythingforlove A and second-choice JJ Flynn completing the order. For Western Fame, a 6-year-old son of Western Ideal owned by Go Fast and B&I Stables, Stephen Klunowski & Gilbert Short and trained by Rene Allard, it was his fifth win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $10, the triple returned $44 and the superfecta paid $198.50. For driver and trainer, it was a third consecutive Levy win (Keystone Velocity, 2017-18) and fourth win in five seasons (Domethatagain-2015). The event again honored the memory of the Hall-of-Fame founder of Roosevelt Raceway. "(Keystone Velocity and Western Fame) are about even right now," Dube said. "Keystone won twice in this race and this horse is something special, too "Those fractions maybe looked fast, for him he does it nice and easy. Turning for home he gave me another run. He's so nice to drive; he just doesn't get tired." I think we had the best horse going into the Levy," Allard said. "It's a bit of a stressful thing to race them every week. The one week where he got second he tied up, so the thing about it is you got to come back the week after and the week after. "We had thought about giving him the week off before the final, but he was in a good routine. "Now he's definitely getting a week off, that's for sure." A $100,000 series consolation was won by Somewhere in L A (Jason Bartlett, $18.80) in a season's-best 1:51.2 Saturday night's $44,000 Open Trot was won by Smalltownthrowdown (Dube, $3.70) in a down-the-road 1:56.2. Saturday's dozen-race total handle was $1,047,856. Frank Drucker

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