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Columbus, OH --- A group of 13 people, representing a variety of sectors in the industry, has been assembled to lead the development of the Standardbred Transition Alliance (STA). The STA will accredit programs serving Standardbreds seeking placement outside traditional commercial uses and also serve as a conduit for partial funding to those groups. The group has filed articles of incorporation and is registered as a charity with the state of Ohio; documents have also been submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file as a 501(c)(3)charitable entity. The STA will operate independently of the United States Trotting Association, though the USTA will provide operational support and will have an ex officio spot on the board. The USTA Board of Directors in March directed Chief Executive Officer Mike Tanner, with assistance from a steering committee comprised of Directors Don Marean, Jacqueline Ingrassia and Fred Nichols, to form the group. The STA will not directly care for horses, but will accredit and provide some funding for groups that meet accreditation standards. It will be modeled after the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which provides financial assistance to about 60 groups annually. "It is past time that we have a pervasive and proportional system to provide some support to groups helping our horses when they are no longer viable on the racetrack or as bloodstock," said USTA President Russell Williams. "We have many horse owners that provide for their horses for all of their lives, but that is not an option for every person or every horse. We owe the horses that provide our living and enjoyment a coordinated effort to give them a secure future off the track. The STA will support that goal." The STA Board will convene for the first time in early November. The USTA Executive Committee is expected to consider and vote on actions to provide some funding for them at their November meeting. For questions and comments about the STA, email STA@ustrotting.com. The members of the STA Board are: Bill Abdelnour, horse owner and president of the New England Amateur Drivers Association Elizabeth Caldwell, owner and manager of Cane Run Farm, Kentucky Michelle Crawford, breeder and owner of Crawford Farm, New York Moira Fanning, chief operating officer of the Hambletonian Society Dr. Donna Franchetti, horse owner and veterinarian Kevin Greenfield, breeder and president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association Dr. Patricia Hogan, horse owner, breeder and veterinarian Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, horse owner and veterinarian, manager of Hanover Shoe Farm Rick Moore, vice president and general manager of racing at Hoosier Park David Reid, owner of Preferred Equine Marketing Mitchel Skolnick, breeder and partner in Bluestone Farm Kelly Young, executive director of the New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund From the USTA Communications Department

As the harness racing stakes season turns for home, there is great excitement leading into many of the sports premiere events. This weekend, there is a plethora of guaranteed pools offered by the Strategic Wagering arm of the USTA that is certain to create added interest in these events. Guaranteed pools, big carryovers and great stakes action are certain to not only increase interest in these pools but will also increase interest in the events themselves. Saturday, September 15th RUNNING ACES All stakes $100,000 guaranteed Pick Five pool (races 8 thru 12 ) Carryover $41,769  Mandatory payout  20% takeout  20 cent minimum First post 6 pm Central Minnesota Night of Champions HAWTHORNE $20,000 guaranteed Pick Four pool (races 10 thru 13) 15% takeout  50 cent minimum First post. 7:10 central Night of Champions Final leg of qualifying Sunday, September 16th THE RED MILE All Stakes $10,000 guaranteed pick 8 pool ( races 3 thru 10 ) 20 cent minimum   Mandatory payout   15% takeout $2,000,000 in purses The Pick 8 consists of eight $250,000 KYSS Finals. Also offering: All Stakes $5,000 guaranteed Pick Four pool ( races 7 thru 10 ) Special first post 3pm Eastern DELAWARE First day of five day racing festival $5,000 guaranteed pick four pool ( races tba) 15% takeout First post 1pm Eastern HAWTHORNE $30,000 Guaranteed Pick four pool (races 6 thru 9 ) 15% takeout  50 cent minimum First post 7:15 central Night of Champions final leg of qualifying Strategic Wagering is proud to partner with these racetracks to offer higher guaranteed pools. We have not only seen the Meadowlands break the $100,000 plateau on a regular basis with their pick four pools in 2018, we have seen Pompano, Hawthorne and Cal Expo each break thru the $50,000 barrier with their guaranteed pick four pools with no carryover. These guarantees, combined with low takeout, the new tax laws on withholding and free program pages courtesy of Track Master have resulted in these pools growing rapidly. The ultimate goal is to get the popularity of the event to grow rapidly in popularity with them. We wish our friends at Woodbine Mohawk Park the best of luck this Saturday as they present a fabulous card with over $2,000,000 in purses. They will offer two $50,000 guaranteed pools and the finals of the Canadian Trotting Classic, the William Wellwood, the Peaceful Way and the Elegant Image, featuring a rematch between the two top rated horses in the sport, #1 Atlanta vs. #2 Manchego. As we move on to the Little Brown Jug, The Red Mile Grand Circuit, The Breeders Crown, the Final Four and the TVG, we hope to make our premiere events must see and must play events. Free program pages along with a schedule of Strategic Wagering events can be downloaded for free on the handicapping tab at www.ustrotting.com. by Mike Antoniades, for the Strategic Wagering Committee

Hightstown, NJ --- The top seven positions in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll were unchanged this week, but two pacing colts joined the rankings at Nos. 8 and 10. Lather Up, who won his Ohio Sire Stakes championship with a track-record performance over a sloppy track Saturday at Scioto, returned at No. 8 after two weeks out of the Top 10. Stay Hungry makes his first appearance in the Top 10, at 10th, following his win in a division of the Simcoe Stakes. Lazarus N and Ariana G dropped from the Top 10. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Atlanta (21) 3tf 8-6-2-0 $729,074 329 1 2 Manchego (10) 3tf 9-6-2-0 $501,402 294 2 3 McWicked 7ph 12-7-2-1 $902,114 222 3 4 Shartin N 5pm 19-14-1-0 $759,111 217 4 5 Courtly Choice (2) 3pc 12-9-0-0 $655,393 181 5 6 Hannelore Hanover 6tm 10-6-0-3 $307,824 105 6 7 Kissin In The Sand 3pf 11-7-4-0 $599,070 103 7 8 Lather Up (2) 3pc 12-10-0-0 $664,865 93 -- 9 Marion Marauder 5th 9-5-4-0 $444,680 91 8 10 Stay Hungry 3pc 11-5-0-4 $650,000 86 -- by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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

With the annoucement that Atlanta will be taking on the boys in the Hambletonian, plus her unbeaten streak now at five-straight, has moved from #6 to #4 in the Top Ten Poll. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 9 – 7/24/2018 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Hannelore Hanover (34) 6tm 6-6-0-0 $233,338 349 1 2 McWicked (1) 7ph 8-6-1-0 $556,831 244 2 3 Ariana G 4tm 5-3-0-0 $346,675 235 3 4 Atlanta 3tf 5-5-0-0 $178,234 195 6 5 Courtly Choice 3pc 8-6-0-0 $453,615 177 4 6 Kissin In The Sand 3pf 6-4-2-0 $353,557 142 5 7 Shartin N 5pm 15-11-1-0 $575,040 130 7 8 Lather Up 3pc 8-7-0-0 $470,665 125 8 9 Six Pack 3tc 6-5-1-0 $359,198 113 9 10 Wolfgang 3tc 3-3-0-0 $200,415 96 10 Also: Manchego (49); Plunge Blue Chip (46); Jimmy Freight, Marion Marauder (4); Evenin Of Pleasure, Filibuster Hanover, Phaetosive (3); Crystal Fashion, Kendall Seelster (2); Dorsoduro Hanover, Fox Valley Gemini, Springbridge Sassy (1).

Columbus, OH --- After adding Best Beaten Times to all U.S. Trotting Association pedigrees for horse sales, the USTA has announced that Best Beaten Times also will now be included in multiple Pathway reports. "We are continuing the USTA's commitment to provide more expansive, online harness racing data by adding horses' Best Beaten Times to multiple Pathway reports, including times on different size tracks in the Horse Performance Report," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. Best Beaten Times are displayed if they are faster than the horse's lifetime record or if the horse doesn't have a record. The Best Beaten Time is selected from any mile race that the horse finished but did not win. Best Beaten Times are shown for horses foaled in 1990 or later and are designated with the abbreviation BT or in a separate column in a report. This information, which was added to USTA sale pedigrees beginning last week, is now included in the following Pathway reports (click the link to see a sample):  A racehorse in the Horse Performance Report (http://pathway.ustrotting.com/library/images/samples/bp_detail.gif) Dam's offspring in the Dam Breeding Report (http://pathway.ustrotting.com/library/images/samples/bbd_detail.gif) Sire's offspring in the Foal Listing for Sire   (http://pathway.ustrotting.com/library/images/samples/Fl_drill.gif)  Broodmare sires in the Foal Listing for Broodmare Sire (http://pathway.ustrotting.com/library/images/samples/bms_fl_drill.gif) Additionally, the Horse Performance Report now also includes a horse's best times on the different track sizes that the horse raced on during its career. Both fastest win times and Best Beaten Times by track size are now available. All times are only for races at the standard mile distance. In addition, easy-to-use hyperlinks to race replay videos or full charts of those races are also available in Pathway. To access any of these reports, users must have a Pathway account. There is no charge to set up an account. In addition to these and other free reports, users also can purchase a wide variety of Standardbred performance and pedigree reports. To create a Pathway account, click here or on the Pathway tab on the USTA website. From the USTA Media Department

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association has announced that all of its edited pedigrees provided for sales catalogs will now include each horse's fastest beaten time starting with the Tattersalls 2018 Summer Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands on Sunday (July 15). This addition of a horse's fastest beaten race time will be included if the beaten time is faster than the horse's record and if the horse was foaled in 1990 or later. The fastest beaten time information will also be made available in several Pathway reports shortly. "While the USTA takes great pride in the idea that many in the industry consider our pedigree pages to be the best in the business, we will continue to find ways to make our products even better," said USTA Registrar T.C. Lane. Following are examples of how the information displays in edited pedigrees, as highlighted in the partial pedigree below: CATHEDRA DOT COM p,2,1:53.2; 3,1:51; BT1:50.2s ($1,520,487) by Presidential Ball. 26 wins, 2 thru 5. O'Brien 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in 2001. At 2, winner Bluegrass S., elim. and Final Lou Babic Filly S., leg and Final New Jersey Sires S. at Freehold, Molly Pitcher P., The Standardbred S.; second in Reynolds Mem., elim. Three Diamonds P.; third in International Stallion S. At 3, winner Final Fan Hanover S., Nadia Lobell P., Tarport Hap P., Bluegrass S., Shady Daisy P., Lady Maud S., leg New Jersey Sires S. at Freehold, Meadowlands (2), elim. Mistletoe Shalee P. at Meadowlands, elim. Miss New Jersey S.; second in elim. and Final Breeders Crown at Woodbine, Final Matron S., Final Miss New Jersey S., Final New Jersey Sires S. at Meadowlands, Cinderella S., elim. Fan Hanover S.; third in elim. Matron S. At 4, second in Milton S., elim. Lady Liberty P. From 8 living foals, dam of 4 winners, 1 in 1:50, 1 in 1:55, 4 in 2:00, including: SIMPLY BUSINESS p,2,1:50.1; 3,1:50.1f; 1:50f; BT1:48 ($1,048,117) (Rocknroll Hanover). 18 wins, 2 thru 8. At 2, winner Final Metro S., Bluegrass S., leg New Jersey Sires S. at Meadowlands; second in Woodrow Wilson P., International Stallion S.; third in elim. Metro S. At 3, winner Battle Of The Brandywine P.; second in leg New Jersey Sires S. at Meadowlands; third in leg and Final New Jersey Sires S. at Meadowlands, elim. Meadowlands P., elim. New Jersey Classic. Often at the request of European interests in the past, the USTA staff had to calculate and add the fastest beaten time information manually. Now it will be included in all sales catalogs that the USTA prepares edited pedigrees for. Following is a list of sales that the USTA provides pedigrees for: the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale; Standardbred Horse Sales Co. Yearling and Mixed Sales; Ohio Selected Jug Sale; Goshen Yearling Sale; Morrisville Sale; Tattersalls Mixed Sales; and the blacktype yearling pedigrees in The Blooded Horse Sales catalogs. From the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH --- Rarely does a day go by that someone doesn't call, email or post on the internet about something that the U.S. Trotting Association or harness racing should or shouldn't do to make the sport better. Each year, the USTA asks members and racing fans, who can become members, to submit proposals for changes that they would like to see made to the organization's official rules. So now is the chance to make that happen. Rule change proposals, which can be submitted using this form, should include: Name of USTA member requesting the change; Reason for the change; Supporting information and statistics, where appropriate; A detailed explanation of the proposal; Specific wording for the rule change proposal, if possible. At each annual district meeting, USTA members in attendance will review then vote to provide a recommendation for each proposal that is submitted to the full Board of Directors at its annual meeting where the final decisions on rule change proposals are made. Rule change proposals must be submitted no later than Friday (Aug. 31) to: The U.S. Trotting Association, 6130 S. Sunbury Rd., Westerville, OH 43081-9309. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Hightstown, NJ --- Hempt Memorial elimination winner Lather Up moved up in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, at least in terms of closing the gap on No. 1 Hannelore Hanover. Lather Up, a 3-year-old male pacer ranked No. 2 for the second consecutive week, added five first-place votes this week and gained 21 points on idle 6-year-old female trotter Hannelore Hanover, pulling within 20 points of the top position. Manchego, the 3-year-old female trotter who defeated the boys in her elimination for the Beal Memorial, made the biggest advance in this week’s rankings. Manchego added 77 points and moved from No. 6 to No. 4 in the poll. Five-year-old female pacer Shartin N, who was idle, remained third and 3-year-old female trotter Atlanta, who produced a track-record performance at Tioga to win a New York Sire Stakes division, remained fifth. Filibuster Hanover, a 4-year-old male pacer who lost for the first time in six races this year in an elimination of the Ben Franklin Pace, dropped from fourth to sixth. There were no other changes in the rankings in the remainder of the Top 10. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.   Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 5 – 6/26/2018 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Hannelore Hanover (25) 6tm 4-4-0-0 $208,338 334 1 2 Lather Up (9) 3pc 7-7-0-0 $470,665 314 2 3 Shartin N 5pm 14-11-1-0 $560,923 232 3 4 Manchego 3tf 3-3-0-0 $55,740 220 6 5 Atlanta (1) 3tf 4-4-0-0 $147,584 213 5 6 Filibuster Hanover 4pg 6-5-1-0 $210,975 166 4 7 Wolfgang 3tc 2-2-0-0 $112,630 103 7 8 Bit Of A Legend N 9ph 10-3-4-1 $332,975 64 8 9 Will Take Charge 5tg 13-7-3-1 $218,188 50 9 10 Keystone Velocity 10ph 6-2-2-0 $320,000 34 10 McWicked (33); Homicide Hunter (25); Shower Play, Six Pack (24); Jimmy Freight (22); Rockin Ron (11); Ariana G (10); Done Well, Sintra (9); Elmo Blatch (6); Mission Accepted (5); All Bets Off, Trump Nation (3); Marion Marauder, Kissin In The Sand (2); Courtly Choice, Dorsoduro Hanover, Emoticon Hanover, Fox Valley Gemini, Mach It So, Stay Hungry, Wes Delight (1). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Fans this week were given the opportunity to vote on the Top 10 horses in the sport in a manner similar to the weekly Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. The fans, like the voters in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown rankings, put Hannelore Hanover in the top spot. Nine of the top 10 horses in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll were in the fans' Top 10, with McWicked being the lone difference, at No. 10. Following is a look at the fan poll, with the final column showing each horse's ranking in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Rankings based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred FAN POLL: Week 1 – 6/20/2018 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points H/BC 1 Hannelore Hanover (5) 6tm 4-4-0-0 $208,338 59 1 2 Shartin N 5pm 14-11-1-0 $560,923 50 3 3 Lather Up (1) 3pc 6-6-0-0 $458,165 48 2 4 Filibuster Hanover  4pg 5-5-0-0 $202,225 42 4 5 Will Take Charge 5tg 12-6-3-1 $205,268 21 9 6 Wolfgang 3tc 2-2-0-0 $112,630 17 7 7 Atlanta 3tf 3-3-0-0 $127,284 16 5 8 Manchego 3tf 2-2-0-0 $43,240 13 6 9 Bit Of A Legend N 9ph 9-3-4-1 $330,775 10 8 10 McWicked 7ph 4-2-1-0 $57,350 9 -- Also: Done Well, Jimmy Freight (7); Shower Play (6); Keystone Velocity, Sintra (4); Dancer Hall, Heaven Rocks A, Wes Delight (3); Emoticon Hanover, Marion Marauder, Six Pack (2); Alarm Detector, Stay Hungry (1). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Steve Stewart has come full circle in harness racing. Now living in Berlin, New York, Stewart first got involved in the sport decades ago while living in Long Island. He started going to the races in the late seventies at Roosevelt Raceway as a fan and eventually became a groom for trainer Bob Bencal. His career path eventually took him through several jobs both in and out of the business including a stint at the Sports Eye. As life took over, Stewart (who now works in online sales) moved upstate away from the city where he and his wife Laura raised their family. Living only about an hour's drive from Saratoga Raceway, Stewart's love for the trotters was rekindled and it came time for him to revisit an old passion; he wanted to buy a Standardbred. "The idea just kind of came to me randomly since I was living up here and it's been something I've always wanted to do. It was a line on my bucket list to be crossed off. That's all I wanted to do was get into the winner's circle one-time; that was my main goal" said Stewart. Decades removed from the business and not quite sure how to get started, Steve and Laura signed up for a new owner seminar that was being presented by the Harness Horse Breeders of New York at Saratoga Raceway in 2014. That was all it took for him to start what has turned into a very successful venture. "After i attended the seminar I needed to find a trainer to get started and went to the race office at Saratoga. I got the contact information of a couple trainers I was interested in and went from there. The first one I spoke with just didn't feel like a good fit but the next guy clicked with me and that's who I got started with" Stewart recalled. That guy was Mark Beckwith. His first horse was a trotter named Sixth Man. After winning three races, Sixth Man got injured and unfortunately had to be put down. He then bought pacer Artistic Blue, who they raced and then resold after a few starts. After getting off to a less than stellar start, Stewart needed to re-think his strategy and stepped away for a couple of months to regroup. "When I finally decided to get back in I called Mark to see if he had any horses on the radar. But his stable was full and he really couldn't take any more training bills. So he recommended I call Scott Mongeon who he said would be able to get a horse for me" said Stewart. Mongeon told Stewart he could help him out and in a couple of weeks called him about a trotter he knew was for sale named Twisted Pretzel. "When Scott called me about Twisted Pretzel I told him I knew the horse because Sixth Man had raced against him several times and ironically I had a win photo of him with Twisted Pretzel second, just a neck apart. I told him I was definitely interested. We had the horse vetted out, sent them a check and the following week the horse was in the box." Twisted Pretzel won his first start for his new owners in September of 2016 in a lower level condition race. He won two more races after that and moved up the ranks into the weekly trotting feature at Saratoga where he finished third in 1:54.1. But the best was yet to come. The following year in 36 starts, Twisted Pretzel won 13 races (six of which were Open Handicaps), was second three times and third another seven while amassing $121,909 in purses and taking a new lifetime mark of 1:55. The career year Twisted Pretzel had, earned him the designation of 2017 Trotter of the Year from Saratoga Raceway. Now having a solid race horse in his barn, Stewart was ready to expand the operation and get another one. This time however, he wanted a New York bred yearling. "I thought it was time and I wanted to buy a horse that was staked in New York. But I also wanted one sired by Crazed, who was Twisted Pretzel's father. I got the Morrisville Sale catalog and started looking at Crazed-sired yearlings. I saw a few but I particularly liked a horse named Party Saver who was hip #55, which just happened to be my year of birth. Oddly enough my trainer had him on his list as well" Stewart said. Stewart went into the sale with a price of $20,000 in mind. As the bidding went on he reached that plateau, and then was outbid with a $21,000 counter. Stewart thought, turned around and walked away from the ring. "The auctioneer stopped the auction and started talking about the horse, his breeding and such. By the time the bidding resumed I was back to my seat just in time to watch my wife put her hand up and bid $22,000! The gavel fell and we walked away with the horse, thanks to my wife" Stewart recounted. With respect for their stable star, Party Saver was renamed "IM TP's Crazed Bro" and he made his first lifetime start for the Stewarts at Saratoga this year on June 14 in a baby race where he finished second. He will also be starting in the New York Sire Stakes this summer where Stewart will hopefully stand in the winner's circle once again with his wife and New York bred winner. On Sunday (June 24) the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State will be holding another new owner seminar at Tioga Downs and would like to invite all interested parties to join them. This seminar will provide valuable information for prospective new owners and focus on all aspects of horse ownership that can get you on your way to standing in the winner's circle with your own horse. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the seminar begins at 10:00 a.m. with beverages and Danishes. The seminar will include materials, lunch, programs and live racing. Tuition is $20 per person or $30 per couple and will be collected upon arrival at registration. To register for this seminar, contact the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State at 518-785-5858, email info@hhbnys.com or through this link. (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/harness-horse-breeders-of-ny-ownership-seminar-tickets-46525686581?aff=es2 ) by Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

The first of five opportunities this year for fans to submit their own Top 10 poll arrives following this weekend's stakes action, highlighted by the Pepsi North America Cup card at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Fans can submit their Top 10 rankings beginning at 12:01 a.m. (EDT) Monday (June 18), by emailing HarnessTop10@gmail.com. Voting will close at 5 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday (June 19). A total of 35 submissions will be selected randomly and points will be tabulated in the same manner as the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Submitted polls must include the fan's first and last names to be accepted. Rankings submitted as attachments will not be accepted. The results of the inaugural Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Fan Poll will be announced Wednesday (June 20), the day after the regular media rankings are released. Names of fan voters will not be revealed with the poll, but fans whose rankings are selected will be notified via email. Fans are encouraged to share their rankings and the poll on social media. Other weeks for fan voting will follow the Meadowlands Pace, Hambletonian Day, Kentucky Futurity Day, and the Breeders Crown. To view the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

This week's Top Ten Poll still has Hannelore Hanover, the 2017 Harness Horse of the Year, strongly as #1. Filibuster Hanover moved up to #2 over Shartin N.  Lather Up jumped up from #9 last week to #5 after his 1:49.2 victory in his Pepsi North America Cup elim last week. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 3 – 6/12/2018 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Hannelore Hanover (24) 6tm 3-3-0-0 $113,338 325 1 2 Filibuster Hanover (6) 4pg 5-5-0-0 $202,225 285 3 3 Shartin N (1) 5pm 13-10-1-0 $420,323 220 2 4 Atlanta (3) 3tf 3-3-0-0 $127,284 203 5 5 Lather Up 3pc 5-5-0-0 $78,165 180 9 6 Manchego 3tf 1-1-0-0 $28,240 109 8 7 Bit Of A Legend N 9ph 9-3-4-1 $330,775 103 6 8 Will Take Charge 5tg 12-6-3-1 $205,268 94 4 9 Keystone Velocity (1) 10ph 6-2-2-0 $320,000 88 7 10 Rockin Ron 6pg 11-5-3-0 $217,750 42 10 Also: Ariana G (37); Wes Delight (36); Six Pack (28); Stay Hungry (25); Homicide Hunter (24); Blazin Britches, Trump Nation (20); Jimmy Freight (18); Marion Marauder (12); NF Happenstance (9); Mach It So (7); Alarm Detector (6); KJ’s Justine (5); Emoticon Hanover, Elmo Blatch, Highalator (4); Done Well, Dorsoduro Hanover, Wolfgang (3); Crazy Wow, Jet Airway (2); Fox Valley Gemini, Plunge Blue Chip, St Lads Neptune, Theresademoninme (1). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Columbus, OH --- In conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program, the Harness Racing FanZone is introducing the "USTA Play of the Day," which will be hosted by Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator Michael Carter and appear daily on the HRFZ website and social media platforms starting Tuesday (June 12). Carter will make selections from different racetracks on one of the USTA's guaranteed pool Strategic Wagers each day. This new feature kicks off on Tuesday (June 12) with Hoosier Park's record $50,000 guaranteed High-5 wager on race 11 that has a carryover in excess of $19,000. The USTA Play of the Day will be posted daily on the Harness Racing FanZone's wagering page, which is available by clicking here. For free TrackMaster past performances on the Hoosier Park High-5 wager and most USTA Strategic Wagers every day as well as the schedule of wagers and more information on the program, please click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Columbus, OH --- Michael Carter, the 2017 U.S. Harness Writers Association Breakthrough Award winner and well-known co-host of Post Time with Mike and Mike, presented by BetAmerica, joined the U.S. Trotting Association on Monday (June 4) as social media and public relations coordinator. Carter comes to the USTA from Northfield Park where he served as assistant director of mutuels and back-up track announcer. "Michael Carter is a great addition to the USTA's communications team because he brings knowledge, experience and a large network of contacts throughout the industry to the position," said USTA Director of Marketing and Communications Dan Leary. "Through his weekly show, he has helped positively promote harness racing and we're looking forward to having him continue to do that with us." In his last position, Carter also worked closely with the marketing team on the track's promotions and served as on-air talent conducting interviews on the simulcast of big race nights. From 2014 to 2015, Carter called races at Buffalo Raceway and managed the mutuels department during the off-season. He also was responsible for building the track's Facebook page and worked as the on-air handicapper providing daily race analysis. With his co-host Michael Bozich on Post Time with Mike and Mike, Carter has been responsible for helping to build and promote the show through their website, social media, press releases and live remotes from some of harness racing's major events such as the Hambletonian, Breeders Crown and Dan Patch Stakes. From the USTA Publicity Department  

Goshen, NY --- When Joni Gibb was a teenager, she had quarter horses and was involved in barrel racing. She gave up the sport 30 years ago, which until recently ended her involvement with horses. But now Standardbreds are reminding Gibb what it's like to be a kid again. "They're such athletes and have different personalities," Gibb said. "That's what is so much fun for me. I remember that from when I was a kid and had forgotten." Gibb, an artist from northern Ohio, is among the participants in the 19th annual U.S. Trotting Association Driving School, which is being held this year in upstate New York. The four-day school runs through Saturday and offers a mix of hands-on learning at the Mark Ford Training Center and classroom sessions at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. At the completion of the program, participants can take the USTA's driver and/or trainer exam. Thursday's session included discussions about training with Mark Ford and Rob Harmon, stable management with Amber Buter and Kelly Ford, and veterinary care with Dr. Janet Durso. Gibb and her husband Jim, a corporate lawyer, always liked to go to the races and decided a year ago to join with friends and buy a horse. One quickly became seven. "It's been kind of a whirlwind year," Gibb said with a laugh. "We've kind of become obsessed. I used to like the gambling, but I don't even care anymore. Now I just love being in the paddock or at the farm with the horses. We like being in the barn as much as being at the finish line. We've had a great time." Gibb has helped with the horses at the stables, but is attending the Driving School to increase her knowledge of the sport and possibly become an amateur driver. "I just want to be educated on every aspect of racing," Gibb said. "I have a lot to learn." James Mazzocco, an attorney from Pittsburgh, discovered harness racing less than a year ago and is attending the Driving School with an eye toward buying a horse. "I went to my local track (The Meadows) and thought it was a lot of fun," the 35-year-old Mazzocco said. "The more I got into it, the more I wanted to learn. I thought this was a great opportunity to get all this access and hands-on experience. I thought it was a good way to accelerate the learning process. "I guess the bug bit me." Mazzocco got to sit behind a horse for the first time on Thursday. "Jogging was a lot of fun," Mazzocco said. "I rode a little bit as a kid, but it's been years since I've been around a horse up close like that. You watch them on the track and there is obviously a lot of speed and power there. To feel that in the lines and be behind a horse is a whole different experience. It kind of gives you a new appreciation of what's going on out there on the track." John Quigley, a semi-retired healthcare consultant from New York, also is a relative newcomer to the sport, having gone from fan to racehorse owner in 2014. "There is nothing more exciting than seeing the horses come pounding down the stretch fighting to be the first across the finish line," Quigley said. "I wanted to be more involved. I wanted to be able to jog my own horse and get the experience from a driver's perspective. "This has been very interesting. I've learned quite a bit already. I'm learning the terminology and ways of doing things. Now all the pieces are coming together." Prior to 2004, Janet Collins' equine activity involved riding horses. Then she sold a horse to a woman that had Standardbreds, who ended up bringing Collins to the racetrack. "I was hooked as soon as I walked through the door," Collins said. "I sold the riding horses and bought a Standardbred." Collins is at the Driving School for more hands-on learning. "I want to learn to be able to jog our horses at home; to build up some confidence and know what I'm doing out there on the racetrack," said Collins, who now works at Amulet Farm in western Pennsylvania. "I learn every day. I don't know a lot, but I'm getting there. "This is fantastic. I'm really enjoying this." Driving School participant Allen Miller, who works as a sales rep for his family's roofing and construction business in Ohio, grew up around horses and enjoys harness racing as a hobby. He owns three horses and likes to work with one, Johnsbadgirl, on a regular basis. "I'm here to learn new things," the 25-year-old Miller said. "After a day of dealing with a bunch of customers, it's fun to go jog the horse and you forget about everything else. It's a fun hobby. I'm not in it just for the money. I just enjoy it. Horses teach you more about life than you can teach yourself." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

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