Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 2287
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

When it comes to physical talent, Muscle Dynasty checks all the boxes for trainer Paula Wellwood. When it comes to focusing on his work, though, the 3-year-old harness racing trotter leaves Wellwood scratching her head. Muscle Dynasty is one of 20 Hambletonian-eligible horses entered in Friday's opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadowlands. The colt, who won last year's New Jersey Futurity, competes in the third of three $25,000 NJSS divisions. For his career, Muscle Dynasty has won three of 15 races and hit the board a total of seven times. He has gone off stride in seven starts, including his most recent on May 7 at The Meadowlands against a field of mostly older rivals in a conditioned event. "He has all the tools, but he doesn't have a brain to go with them," Wellwood said. "It's concentration, that's all it is. He's got all the attributes. He doesn't do anything wrong, he's a lovely horse, but his concentration will lapse. It's aggravating because he's such a pleasure. "Talent-wise, it's there. Whether we can get the brain to match, I don't know." Muscle Dynasty, named Storm The Hill originally, is by Muscle Hill out of Miss Liv. He was purchased for $55,000 at the 2019 Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Dreamville Stable, which is Wellwood, her husband and training partner Mike Keeling, son Devin Keeling, and mom Jean Wellwood. The family shared the experience of winning the 2016 Hambletonian, and subsequently the Trotting Triple Crown, with Marion Marauder. Wellwood has tinkered with Muscle Dynasty's equipment in the hopes of improving the colt's focus, but nothing has clicked. "He was like this last year," Wellwood said. "We gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought he would grow up, but he hasn't. Every day is a new day in his world. What happened yesterday is gone. "He takes nothing seriously. He's just like a big kid and he doesn't want to mature. It's not there yet anyway. He trains good, he's a sound horse, he's a big, strong horse. If the switch gets flipped, he's going to be a very, very nice horse." Muscle Dynasty faces seven rivals Friday, with six eligible to August's $1 million Hambletonian, including 2-1 morning-line favorite Take This Society from the stable of trainer Nancy Takter. In the first division, Cuatro De Julio is the 9-5 favorite for trainer Marie Ortolan Bar. Ake Svanstedt's Lindysmusclemania is the 5-2 favorite in the second division. That field also includes Valley Victory winner Bee Forever and Peter Haughton Memorial champ Zenith Stride. The Meadowlands on Friday also hosts two 11-horse divisions of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters. Seventeen of the fillies are eligible to August's Hambletonian Oaks, including Wellwood-trained Limoges. Limoges, who is in the second NJSS division, made her career debut on May 3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. She was three-wide around the final turn and last at the top of the stretch but closed strongly to finish fourth, beaten by only one length. She missed last season because of an injury. "We were just ready to qualify her when she had a crack in a knee and we had to quit," Wellwood said. "But she always showed ability. She was very good gaited, wanted to do her work, and had some speed. She had all the attributes needed. We gave her a lot of time and, knock on wood, we have no issues right now." Limoges is by Trixton out of Spice Queen. She was purchased for $40,000 at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Dreamville Stable. She is a half-sister to Grand Circuit winner Dancing For Money, who is the dam of O'Brien Award winner Dip Me Hanover. Wellwood shared a connection with both those horses, either as trainer or owner. "We're very happy with her," Wellwood said about Limoges. "She's grown up and gotten stronger, she just doesn't know anything. She's so very green. But she is getting it. I think when she figures it out, she's going to be OK." Imhatra AM S, trained by Marcus Melander, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the second NJSS division. Eazy Pass, from the stable of Nifty Norman, is the 9-5 favorite in the first. Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) Friday at The Meadowlands. The Big M and TrackMaster have teamed to regularly provide free past performances for each race card. Past performances can be found here on The Meadowlands website. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Harness racing breeder and owner, Scott Farber of Runthetable Stables, admires horses with a competitive spirit. It comes as no surprise given that Farber was a fierce competitor as a pitcher at William Paterson College, where he was an All-American and still owns the best career win percentage (.952, 20-1) and earned-run average (2.13) in school history. Farber's top moment came in 1992 when he helped WPC to the NCAA Division III national championship. Farber tossed a six-hit complete game in a 3-1 victory over California-Lutheran, striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth inning to clinch the title. "The only thing I really like to see from my horses is heart," Farber said. "I like to have horses in my stable that want to race, that want to compete, because that's what I was. I was a competitor. I like that quality in my horses." Farber's introduction to racing came through his father, Sandy. Father and son would spend their weekends together going to the New York City-area tracks and his dad eventually got involved in harness racing as a horse owner when Farber was in his mid-teens. "I loved it so much, being a part of it, that I asked to get a job on the backstretch at The Meadowlands," Farber said. "I got a job with (trainer) Alan Kirschenbaum and my interest in horses only got greater from there." The first horse to impact Farber's life was a female pacer named Steady Margaret. "I spent a lot of time in the stall with her, a lot of extra time, just loving on her and her loving on me," Farber said. "I had a real connection with that horse. I really enjoyed her. She was a lot of fun to be around. She hooked me immediately on horses. "I rooted for her when she would race, but the connection we had one-on-one was more important to me than how she performed on the track." If Steady Margaret ignited Farber's love for the sport and horses, pacer Run The Table cemented it. Run The Table was Sandy Farber's best horse, winning 14 of 24 races and $904,022 as a 3-year-old in 1987. He was the first horse to defeat future Hall of Famer Jate Lobell, snapping the colt's win streak at 18, in a race at The Meadowlands. "Seeing my father's success with Run The Table only made me want to do more," Farber said. "I was only 17 years old when that was going on. Just to be a part of that, 50 people in the winner's circle and the excitement before the horse races, the adrenaline rush, I fell in love with it. "Jate Lobell was an outstanding horse. For us to knock him off for the first time, it's a feeling I'll never forget. But Run The Table gave us a lot of those type feelings. He was a tough one. He was in with a tough group of horses, but every week he came to play. Run The Table certainly was a competitor." Sandy Farber died in 2004, but Scott continued in the sport. He got his first taste of his own Grand Circuit success as an owner with the trotter Opening Night, who was third in the 2011 Hambletonian Stakes and a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. In the mid-2010s, Farber started a small breeding operation. It pushed his stable to new heights last year when homebreds Next Level Stuff won the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old female trotters, Hobbs captured the New York Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old male trotters, and Take All Comers won on the Grand Circuit for 2-year-old male trotters. Farber's Runthetable Stables, which topped $1 million in earnings for the first time in 2020, was nominated for Breeder of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Brittany Farms captured the award. "It has an unbelievable experience," Farber said of the nomination. "But I don't do this alone. I've had a lot of help. I work with Joell Arnold from Turbot Acres in Pennsylvania. She handles all my broodmares and does a fantastic job. She's a big part in the breeding success that my stable has been fortunate enough to have. "There are two other people that I really lean on, and whose opinions I really respect, and that's Steve Stewart and Dr. J (Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky). They have been extremely receptive to my questions, phone calls, emails, my smoke signals, you name it. They've really been great. I would not have had the success I've had without a lot of luck and without their input." Farber also has a longstanding relationship with trainer Jim Campbell, who began training horses for his father with Run The Table in 1987. "I feel that when you work with the best people, you're going to get results," Farber said. When Farber won the national championship at William Paterson, after the game he jumped into the stands and gave his father the game ball. "That was the most satisfying feeling that I got out of it," Farber said. "I wasn't the greatest kid growing up. I wasn't in any major trouble, but I was a little difficult to deal with. I kind of feel like that wiped the slate clean between us for all I put him through." After Farber watched Next Level Stuff win her Breeders Crown last October, his father again was foremost on his mind. "My father was my idol, I think I made that pretty clear," Farber said referring to his comments in the winner's circle following the filly's victory, when he stated: "My stable is named after my father, who I loved with all my heart. He was my best friend in the entire world. I just miss him so much and I hope that I made him proud." Next Level Stuff is back racing at age 4 and Farber knows it can be a difficult transition for horses when they have to race against older foes. Farber has no expectations, but also knows his mare possesses his favorite quality. "She is a real competitor," Farber said. "She wants to race. She wants to go a hundred miles an hour at all times and I admire that. She gave me a thrill of my lifetime and nobody can take that Breeders Crown away from her. I've watched the video of that race hundreds of times. If it shows a thousand views, 976 of them are mine. It was a wonderful feeling. "To me, everything now with her is icing on the cake." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Harness racing trainer Marcus Melander is enchanted with Hypnotic AM, and it is easy to understand why. Now ready to begin her 4-year-old season, the trotting mare has earned $1.15 million in her 22-race career, winning 12 times and finishing off the board only once. Hypnotic AM launches her campaign Saturday in the first of two $30,000 divisions of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters at The Meadowlands. She is 7-2 on the morning line, third choice behind Breeders Crown champion Next Level Stuff at 5-2 and 2019 Hambletonian Oaks winner When Dovescry at 3-1. "She had a good winter and I'm very happy with how she's coming back," said Melander, who trains the homebred mare for Courant Inc. "She's always been a nice horse, from day one, honestly. You don't make over $1 million if you're not a good horse. She's always produced. I couldn't be happier with what she's done in her career." Hypnotic AM's career wins include the 2019 Jim Doherty Memorial, 2020 Empire Breeders Classic, two New York Sire Stakes championship, and a Kentucky Sire Stakes title. Last year, she finished second in the Hambletonian Oaks, Kentucky Filly Futurity, and Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old fillies. She was third in the 2019 Breeders Crown. "She maybe is missing that big, big win, but it's hard to complain about her," Melander said. "I thought she was very good in the Oaks, she just had a bad post (starting from the second tier, post 12). She's always right there." The daughter of Chapter Seven - Daydream AM S goes to the Miss Versatility's opening round off a 1:54.4 win in a qualifier April 24 at The Meadowlands. She will have regular driver Brian Sears in the sulky. "She had just one qualifier, but I think it's enough," Melander said. "We trained her a couple of times at The Meadowlands. She's not going to be in top form but she's a nice horse and she should be all right to race. "She can do everything you ask, and she is so professional out there. You can leave, you can sit behind a horse, she's so versatile. She has a lot of speed, she's strong. She's just a sweetheart." Next Level Stuff, who won the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old fillies last year, heads to Saturday's start off a second-place finish against mostly male foes in a high-level conditioned trot in her seasonal debut on May 1 at The Big M. The second division of the Miss Versatility features 2020 Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Ab'sattitudexpress. Ab'sattitudexpress, trained by Lucas Wallin, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite after capturing the New Jersey Breeders Maturity last week. Sorella, who had five Grand Circuit victories last season for trainer Nancy Takter, is 3-1. She is making her seasonal debut. Saturday's 13-race card also includes the first starts of the year for Meadowlands Pace hopefuls Abuckabett Hanover and Exploit plus 4-year-old Grand Circuit stakes winners Fortify and No Lou Zing. Tattoo Artist, an O'Brien Award winner in 2020, is making his second start after a fourth-place finish in a division of the Graduate Series for pacers. Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at The Meadowlands. The Big M and TrackMaster have teamed to regularly provide free past performances for each race card. Past performances can be found here on The Meadowlands website. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

As Kris Brechler watched his family's homebred harness racing trotter Mission Accepted grow up, he saw nothing that stood out about the horse. The colt was, in a word, average. But once Mission Accepted began his racing career, what Brechler couldn't see began to become apparent. The horse was filled with a desire to succeed. And now at the age of 6, the stallion is nearing $1 million in career earnings as he prepares for Thursday's $135,000 Charlie Hill Memorial Trot at Eldorado Scioto Downs. "When he was young, he didn't make an impression one way or another," Brechler said. "He was just average looking. But I wish you could see inside of them and see what kind of heart they have, because that's a lot of it. He gives his all, all the time. He gives 100 percent every time he's on the track. You always feel you have a chance with him. "He's just been a wonderful horse to have and it's extra special because we bred him. He's one of those horses that you wish you could have 10 of in your barn." Mission Accepted is by Manofmanymissions out of Witty Girl. He was bred by the Mount Vernon, Ohio-based Knox Services Inc., which is headed by Brechler's mom Carolyn, and is one of three Ohio Sire Stakes champions out of Witty Girl, with younger full brother Wittyville and younger half-sister Merry Ann. "We bought his mom as a yearling," Brechler said. "She was OK, nothing super. We kept her and she's been a great broodmare for us." Mission Accepted, trained by Jeff Conger at ages 2 and 3 and by Ron Burke since turning 4, has won 23 of 69 lifetime starts and $926,997. He is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Charlie Hill, where a win would push his earnings to within $6,000 of a million. In addition to capturing an Ohio Sire Stakes title in 2017 at age 2, Mission Accepted's triumphs include the Harry Harvey Invitational and the Vincennes, both in 2019. That year also saw the stallion finish second in the Caesars Trotting Classic and Crawford Farms Trot and third in the Charlie Hill. "He's taken us to levels we never knew we would be able to get to," said Brechler, whose family's Knox Services now owns Mission Accepted with Burke Racing Stable, David Wills and Weaver Bruscemi. "He's just a fantastic horse. He's very special to the family. He's right up there being a once-in-a-lifetime horse for us at this point. He's just been a great horse for us. Money-wise, he's the best horse we've had." Brechler's father Ronald, who passed away in 2011, got the family started in harness racing in the early 1980s. His top horses included homebred pacer Trick Man, who earned $317,150 and set his career mark of 1:49.3 in beating Foiled Again in an open at The Meadows in 2011, as well as numerous Ohio standouts. The family's stable now includes homebred Ohio Sire Stakes champion Summer Touch as well as Grand Circuit winners such as Southwind Gendry and Brookview Bolt. "We've got some nice horses," said Brechler, who with his brother Doug manages a dairy co-op. "My dad got us started and we just kept branching out. The last three or four years we started buying more at yearling sales, but we mostly raise our own. "We enjoy going to the races and watching our horses, especially the ones we've bred. You see them progress from babies (to racehorses) and it's that two minutes of excitement, knowing that anything can happen in a race. It's always great to have a good horse and get your picture taken." Mission Accepted will look to get his picture taken Thursday. He will be driven by Chris Page and start from post one. "Chris grew up about four houses down from our house, so we've known Chris for a long time," Brechler said. "It would be a special thing if it happened. It's a tough race but we're all excited and hoping he represents us well, which I have a great feeling he's going to." For more about the Charlie Hill, click here. The Charlie Hill will go off as race nine on Thursday evening's 11-race card. Racing begins at 6:15 p.m. (EDT). Scioto Downs offers free programs online for each live racing card, as well as qualifiers. For free program pages, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Hightstown, NJ — Harness racing driver Dan Noble is a busy man, and it’s paying off. Noble entered Monday ready to put the finishing touches on his meet at Ohio’s Miami Valley Raceway, where he is the leading driver, and ranks among North America’s top-six drivers in both wins and purses this year. For the season, Noble has visited the winner’s circle 158 times and posted earnings of $1.69 million. In addition, he helps his wife Christi with a 30-horse stable that ranks among the top 20 in North America in purses, with $407,936, and is fourth in wins at Miami Valley. All of Noble’s victories this year have come at Miami Valley, where he previously captured a driving title in 2018. “It feels good,” Noble said. “It’s just a lot of hard work and paying attention to your drives.” Following Monday’s conclusion to the Miami Valley meet, Noble will turn his attention to Eldorado Scioto Downs, which opens Tuesday. Noble has won the past three driving titles at Scioto Downs and will look to maintain his momentum through the location change. “I take it in stride because you never know what will happen,” Noble said. “You might have a good meet at Miami Valley and your next meet at the next track, it could just be so-so, or (success) might carry over. You just never know how it’s going to work out. “I’m just hoping the stable my wife and I have with our 2- and 3-year-olds has a good meet, as well as my catch drives. I hope all the young horses I get to sit behind, and work for other trainers and owners, have good years.” Noble, who began driving in 1999 and has 6,300 career triumphs, started training in 2013. The Noble Stable has posted million-dollar seasons each of the past three years and focused increasingly on 2- and 3-year-olds. “The work we’ve done the last eight years has helped us get where we’re at right now with the younger horses,” said Noble, whose late father, Chip, is a member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame. “That’s been the goal, to get away from the racehorses and do 2- and 3-year-olds, a lot like dad had. I had a good teacher. Dad taught me a lot. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re almost there. I thought I would just be a catch driver after I worked at it for 13 years. But then I kind of figured I’d like to carry the name on, and I always did enjoy the training just as much as driving. It’s paying off. It’s just a lot of hard work and a lot of hours.” In addition to his career, Noble’s family life keeps him busy too. The Nobles welcomed home a son, Nash, eight months ago. “I want to be home with my family,” Noble said. “It’s tough when you’re in this business; we don’t have many days or many hours to do that. With my older children, when I was younger, all I worried about was being at the next track, the next drive. Now I’m realizing what I missed out on. I’m hoping I don’t miss out with Nash.” In 2020, Noble took off from driving the last two months of the year. “We’ve had such good success that I can work through the summers and take the winters off to be at home,” Noble said. A busy man, and it’s paying off. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Incommunicado exceeded expectations last season. On Saturday, he will try to meet them. Incommunicado is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday's $115,583 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old harness racing male trotters at Freehold Raceway. The gelding heads to the race off a season-opening 1:57 win in last week's single elimination and starts Saturday from post seven with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Ake Svanstedt. Last year, Incommunicado won four of 10 races, hit the board a total of nine times, and earned $201,375 for owners Knutsson Trotting, Little E, Arthur Geiger, and David Stolz. Three of his victories came in the Massachusetts Sire Stakes, including the series final. His remaining score was in a division of the New York Sire Stakes. "He did better than we expected," Svanstedt said. "He's a good-gaited horse and he has a good attitude. He's a horse that always does what you want. He handles all tracks and he trained back good this winter. He qualified very good (in 1:54.3 on April 10 at The Meadowlands) and then he raced good also. I am happy with him." Svanstedt could have accepted a bye and advanced directly to the Dexter final but opted to race Incommunicado in the elimination rather than see the horse untested for three weeks following his qualifier. "He needed to race, and he raced good," Svanstedt said about the son of Chapter Seven - Gran Cavalla. "I hope he is even sharper this weekend in the final." Svanstedt also sends out Ambassador Hanover, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, in the Dexter. The trainer accepted a bye for the colt, who qualified in 1:58.3 on April 17 at The Meadowlands and is making his seasonal debut Saturday. He starts from post two with Svanstedt driving. "He didn't need the race (in the elimination)," said Svanstedt, who owns Ambassador Hanover with Order By Stable, Howard Taylor, and Judith Taylor. "He qualified good. I just sat and had a lot of power left. I didn't want to go faster than (1):58. "I hope he is good also on Saturday." Ambassador Hanover, a son of Chapter Seven out of Angel Eyes Hanover, won his first four starts of 2020, all in the New York Sire Stakes, before finishing fourth in the final. Svanstedt said the colt lost a front shoe early in the race, which hampered his performance. He was beaten by three-quarters of a length. "He made a break for a couple of steps, but he found the trot again," Svanstedt said. "But he couldn't go so good. He had heavy shoes also, so it bothered him a lot when he lost the one. He was good to finish fourth with three shoes. "This year, he is different," the trainer added. "Last year, he had a lot of weight in the front. This year, he doesn't need so much weight in the front, just normal shoes. He has changed. He is better gaited now." Ambassador Hanover raced one time following the sire stakes final, finishing seventh in a division of the Bluegrass at Red Mile. He was scratched sick from his next scheduled start in the International Stallion and turned out. He finished the campaign with $123,425. "He had a long rest after Lexington and he has trained back good," Svanstedt said. "We'll race him and see if he is a Hambletonian horse. We will see." The Dexter Cup is the season's first Grand Circuit race for 3-year-old trotters on the road to August's Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's premier event for sophomore trotters. Ambassador Hanover is the lone Hambletonian eligible in the Dexter. In addition to the Dexter Cup, Freehold hosts two divisions of the Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old female trotters on Saturday. Svanstedt-trained Illuminata, a Matron Stakes winner last year, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the first division. Ron Burke-trained Hot As Hill gets the 8-5 nod in the second. For more on the fields for the Dexter Cup and Lady Suffolk, click here. For Saturday's complete entries, click here. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EDT). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

After seeing Balenciaga stymied by a lung infection last year at age 2, harness racing trainer Paul Kelley is hoping to get a good look at the unraced male trotter this spring. Balenciaga, a $270,000 yearling purchase, made a favorable impression Saturday, winning a qualifier in 1:56.3 at The Meadowlands. "We've got a lot of work to do, we're not there yet, but that was a good step forward the other day, for sure," Kelley said this week. "I was real happy. He didn't race last year, but I think physically he's a pretty strong animal. We'll see." Balenciaga, by Chapter Seven out of Iluvmyjimmychoos, is owned by Lennart Agren's S R F Stable and Crawford Farms Racing. He was the second-highest priced yearling sold during the second session of the 2019 Lexington Selected Sale, behind $320,000 buy Red Redemption. Balenciaga finished a head in front of Red Redemption in Saturday's qualifier. "When I was at Sunshine Meadows (in Florida in 2020) he was probably our best 2-year-old through the winter," Kelley said. "He trained down really well. We were pretty excited about him when we came north. Once we got up here, he didn't progress as much as I hoped. We really weren't sure what was going on. "We qualified him one time and he just wasn't any good. We found out shortly thereafter that he had a lung infection. That pretty much explained that. We tried to get it cleared up, but we ran out of time. So, at that point, the best thing to do was to turn him out." Kelley is happy with the way Balenciaga matured during this past winter. "Last year at 2, physically he still had some work to do in terms of getting stronger," Kelley said. "He was a little bit weak behind, and we were kind of battling with that a bit too. Now as a 3-year-old, he's matured a lot, especially physically. He's a really strong horse now." In Saturday's qualifier, Balenciaga and driver Scott Zeron sat third for three-quarters of a mile before taking a one-length lead at the stretch call. "You couldn't have asked for a better job by Scotty," Kelley said. "He sat up close and said the horse was feeling good and strong in the last turn and he moved him. What we liked the most, is that when he cleared to the front and got a little bit lost up there, as soon as he had a horse with him, he went right back on and didn't want to let (Red Redemption) get by. That was pretty encouraging." Kelley plans to qualify Balenciaga once more before looking for a race at The Meadowlands in mid-May. Balenciaga is eligible to the New York Sire Stakes series, which begins June 4 at Vernon Downs, and also is staked to numerous events on the Grand Circuit, including the $1 million Hambletonian in August. "We paid him in pretty good," Kelley said. "There was some concern this winter, but the truth is, I'm not really sure how handy he's going to be on the half-mile tracks in New York. He might be OK, but I'm not sure. "If I take New York out of the equation, what's left? He showed enough last year and when I worked him at The Meadowlands (in February) I was encouraged enough to say we better roll the dice here a little bit and give him a chance. The S R F Stable and the Crawfords, they like to play at a high level. It didn't make sense not to take a shot with the horse." While Balenciaga will be looking to make his name on the stakes circuits this year, several Grand Circuit winners from 2020 were back in action this past weekend in the Big M qualifiers and posted victories. They included 3-year-old male pacers Perfect Sting, Southwind Gendry, and Lou's Pearlman, 3-year-old female trotter Hello I Love You, 3-year-old female pacer JK Alwaysbalady, and 4-year-old female trotter Hypnotic AM. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Party Girl Hill, the world-record-setting 2020 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old female pacer, has been retired because of an injury discovered after training this past weekend. Chris Ryder, who trained the mare for breeder-owner Tom Hill, said Party Girl Hill was nearly ready to qualify in preparation for her 4-year-old campaign. "We're all devastated," Ryder said Monday. "She had been training back terrific. It's just a shame; a shame for her and a shame for us not to be able to see what she could do as an aged horse. It's a real loss. She was so special." Unraced at age 2, Party Girl Hill won 15 of 16 races last year and $880,345. Her victories included the Fan Hanover, Jugette, Matron, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, and a division of the Tattersalls Pace, when she became only the second pacing filly to beat male rivals in a race worth at least $100,000 in the last 30 years. She was driven primarily by Dexter Dunn, with Doug McNair in the sulky for her Canadian starts in the Fan Hanover. In the Jugette, Party Girl Hill won her elimination in 1:49.3, the first sub-1:50 mile on a half-mile track by a female pacer in history, and returned to capture the same-day final by 3-1/2 lengths in 1:50.3 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. Following the Jugette, owner Hill described the daughter of Captaintreacherous - Look Cheap as "a Rolls-Royce with hair." Said Ryder on Monday, "If you had to pick out one performance from last year, maybe you would say the first heat of the Jugette. But that was just part of a wicked stretch of five or six races for her, where she went to Canada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Lexington and raced great." What made Party Girl Hill great? "She had no weakness," Ryder said. "She had super speed. She was just fast, like 'right now' quick. And she had a great attitude. Even now, she's happy. She has her ears up, she's not sulking. "I want to thank everyone who worked with her, all her fans, and Tom. It was special to have a horse like her." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Hightstown, NJ — Dan Patch Award winning male harness racing pacer Perfect Sting will make his first appearance of 2021 when he qualifies Saturday at The Meadowlands. His trainer, Joe Holloway, will accompany the colt on the journey but will not be joining him for any trips on the racetrack for several weeks after recently suffering a broken shoulder in an accident. Holloway, who guided Perfect Sting through a 10-for-10 campaign last year at age 2, was injured while jogging a horse at Gaitway Farm in central New Jersey. Holloway was unseated when an adjacent horse got frightened and turned into him. Joe Holloway “It’s tough to believe; I’m so agile and I landed on my shoulder and got hurt,” Holloway said with a laugh Friday morning while watching Perfect Sting jog. “You’d think I’d have reflexes like a cat.” The 64-year-old added, “That comes with being older. I just didn’t land that good. That’s just the way it is.” Holloway visited with his doctor on Thursday and determined he could put off any surgery until the winter and hopes to be sitting behind Perfect Sting again in two-to-three weeks. “When I was young, you thought good horses came along all the time,” Holloway said. “Well, they don’t really. It’s been a long time, so I don’t want to miss much of this season, if any, with this colt. “So, as long as I can put up with it and things look like they’re healing, like they do right now, I’m going to delay the surgery. I don’t want to do any permanent damage to myself, but I’ll put up with a little bit of pain and aggravation to be able to get back and be able to sit behind him.” Perfect Sting will make his first appearance of 2021  USTA/Ken Weingartner photo. Holloway, who was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2018, is looking forward to watching Perfect Sting take his first steps toward his 3-year-old season. Holloway plans to qualify the colt twice and is anticipating the colt making his first start on May 16 in the second leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. “He’s doing real good,” Holloway said. “I think he’s a little bit more mature mentally. I’m really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow and seeing how he goes. But I expect him to do well.” Last year, Perfect Sting’s victories included the Breeders Crown, divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes, and the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship. The homebred son of Always B Miki - Shebestingin earned $534,300 for owners Brittany Farms and Val D’Or Farms. Perfect Sting became the only 2-year-old male pacer to win a Breeders Crown as part of an undefeated season. He joined Niatross (1979), Jate Lobell (1986), Somebeachsomewhere (2007) and He’s Watching (2013) as undefeated Dan Patch Award-winning 2-year-old male pacers since 1973. The colt will not be the only Dan Patch Award winner in action Saturday morning at The Meadowlands. Six-year-old female trotter Manchego, a two-time Dan Patch honoree and three-time Breeders Crown champion, is among the horses participating in the day’s 16 qualifiers, which begin at 9 a.m. (EDT). Among others expected to circle the Big M’s mile oval are 3-year-old male pacers Always A Miki, Exploit, Southwind Gendry, and Summa Cum Laude; 3-year-old male trotters In Range, Maverick, and Zenith Stride; 3-year-old female pacers Blue Diamond Eyes, Continualou, JK Alwaysbalady, Notorious Pink, and Scarlett Hanover; older female trotters Hypnotic AM, Next Level Stuff, and Sorella; and older male trotter Crystal Fashion. For complete entries, click here. For program proofs, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Harness racing trainer Per Engblom would enjoy seeing his 3-year-old trotter Ethan T Hanover on the road to the Hambletonian but the trainer is going to let the colt determine his own path for the season. Ethan T Hanover is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday's $38,529 elimination of the Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway. The Dexter Cup is the season's first Grand Circuit race for 3-year-old trotters and features several horses eligible to August's Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's premier event for sophomore trotters. A total of 10 horses entered the Dexter Cup, resulting in Saturday's single elimination. The top-six finishers in the eight-horse elimination will join bye recipients Ambassador Hanover and Sunny Crockett in the May 1 final. Elimination participants Ethan T Hanover and Royson's Punch as well as Ambassador Hanover are eligible to the Hambletonian. The $1 million Hambletonian final is Aug. 7 at The Meadowlands. Ethan T Hanover is making his first start of the year. In 2020, the colt won one of 12 races, hit the board a total of seven times, and earned $96,142. His top-three finishes included the Matron Stakes and two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. "He had a good year, but was lacking a little speed," Engblom said. "I think he's getting there this year because he's stronger and can carry his speed better. He was a medium-sized horse last year and he grew a lot (during the winter). "To be an immature colt, he had a decent year. Last year, he had a little hitch in his gait. He has a big gait, and he wasn't mature enough to handle it. He didn't make many breaks, but he just got a little tired. This year, I think he's going to handle his big gait a little better." Engblom, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter, won the 2019 Dexter Cup with Osterc. It was Engblom's first stakes victory following the start of his own stable earlier that year. Osterc raced in the Hambletonian, finishing second by a neck to Green Manalishi S in his elimination and eighth in the final from post nine. The trainer shares ownership of Ethan T Hanover, a son of Bar Hopping out of Emmylou Who, with Doug Sipple and Mal and Janet Burroughs. Ethan T Hanover, purchased as a yearling for $130,000 at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale, is a half-brother to O'Brien Award winner and two-time Breeders Crown champion Emoticon Hanover. Ethan T Hanover prepped for the Dexter Cup with two qualifiers at The Meadowlands. He was timed in 1:56.2 in the first and 1:54.4, with a last quarter-mile of :27.1, in the most recent on April 10. "I've been happy with him," Engblom said. "The first qualifier we just sat in and finished up the rail good. The second time we stretched him a little bit, so that was good." In addition to the Dexter Cup and Hambletonian, Ethan T Hanover's stakes list includes the Yonkers Trot. "I'm not saying he's going to win all the big dances, but I think he can make money, especially if we race him smart," Engblom said. "We kept him eligible to a lot of races. We'll see. Wherever the season takes us, we're going to go. "There are a lot of horses that don't like the smaller tracks, so if you have one that doesn't mind, that's always good. But I think he's versatile. We'll do whatever he tells us." For more on Saturday's Dexter Cup elimination field, click here. For Saturday's complete Freehold entries, click here. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EDT). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

After winning starts in two preliminary rounds of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old male harness racing pacers, One Eight Hundred will attempt to close out the event with a victory in Saturday's $40,000 final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Purchased at the 2019 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale under the name Some Terror for $800,000 - the auction record for a yearling pacer - the colt won one of five races at age 2 before being shut down by trainer Nancy Takter and given time to mature. He returned this season and won his debut by 6-3/4 lengths in 1:50.2, with a :26.1 last quarter-mile, in the opening round of the Weiss on April 3. He sat out the second leg, then won gate-to-wire in last week's third round by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:52. In that start, he paced the first quarter in :26.2 before settling into a :58.2 middle half and kicking home in :27.1 over a track labeled "good." "I think he's handled those two miles very well," driver Josert Fonseca said. "He surprised me - I think he probably surprised everybody - how good he did it. He showed a lot of maturity to open up in 26-and-a-piece and be able to back off and be cool with it. I was really happy to see that. "Maturity wise, he's gotten a lot smarter. He knows what he's doing. He's so versatile now, you can leave with him or you can back him down and he's OK either way. I think that's what I like most about him from last year to this year." One Eight Hundred, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Dan Patch Award winner Economy Terror, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Weiss final. He will start from post six with Fonseca in the sulky. The colt is owned by Brixton Medical Inc. and Takter. Fonseca's rapport with One Eight Hundred calls to mind his work with pacer No Lou Zing last year. Fonseca, Takter's second trainer, drove No Lou Zing in the first six starts of his 3-year-old campaign before turning the horse over to driver Dexter Dunn. No Lou Zing, winless in three starts at 2, last season was a winner on the Grand Circuit and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, banking $523,558. "Really, it's almost like that," Fonseca said. "Nancy had me qualify (One Eight Hundred) and told me to just do the same thing I did with No Lou Zing. She wanted him to finish strong and learn how to race and not get too worked up. That's what we tried to do. So far, he's been respecting everything we've asked of him. "Nancy has done a really good job managing him; there was no rush with him. We knew he had ability and potential, so they took their time with him. He's a big horse and he just needed time. So far so good. It looks like it's been working the right way." Straight Talk, also 2-for-2 in the Weiss series, is the 3-1 second choice in the final. He is trained by Ron Burke and will have Matt Kakaley at the lines, leaving from post seven. Other two-time prelim winners in the final are Coalition Hanover and Mad Man Hill, both from the stable of trainer Chris Ryder. Coalition Hanover, with Anthony Napolitano, drew post eight and Mad Man Hill, with George Napolitano Jr., got post nine. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. For the day's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Cranbury, NJ --- Award winners On A Streak and Venerate lead a group of 82 colts and geldings eligible to August's Hambletonian Stakes, harness racing's premier race for 3-year-old trotters, at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J. The Hambletonian Oaks, the event's filly-restricted companion race, attracted 90 eligibles, with award recipients Anoka Hanover and Donna Soprano at the top of the list. Fillies have the option of competing in the Hambletonian rather than the Oaks. A filly has won two of the three most recent editions of the Hambletonian, with Ramona Hill accomplishing the feat last year and Atlanta in 2018. A total of 15 fillies have won the Hambletonian, which began in 1926. The $1 million final of the 96th Hambletonian and $500,000 final of the 51st Hambletonian Oaks will be Aug. 7 at the Meadowlands. Eliminations for each race, if necessary, will be July 31. Venerate was last season's top earner among 2-year-old trotters, banking $772,914, and received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter. Venerate had five wins and three thirds in 10 starts, with his victories including the inaugural Mohawk Million and the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship. Julie Miller trains Venerate, by Love You out of Peaceful Kemp, for owners Pinske Stables and Andy Miller Stable. Venerate is ranked No. 1 in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Hambletonian winter book Top 10. "I really think toward the end of last year he showed a lot of maturity," Julie Miller said. "To do what he did, with the travel, I think he really developed a professional attitude. He handled every circumstance pretty well. "I'm looking forward to getting him ready. Hopefully, he decides to really sparkle that first week in August. He's full of himself. He knows that he's special, that's for sure. He's definitely got that personality." On A Streak was the O'Brien Award winner in Canada for best 2-year-old male trotter. His wins included the Breeders Crown and William Wellwood Memorial and he ranked second to Venerate in earnings, with $740,947. Luc Blais trains On A Streak, by Cantab Hall out of Habit's Best, for owner Determination. "I'm very happy with how he has come back," Blais said. "He's a very laidback horse, not tough on himself, and I think that's his best quality." Determination and Blais also team up with Hambletonian Oaks eligible Donna Soprano. A daughter of Donato Hanover out of Windsong Soprano, she was the O'Brien Award winner for best 2-year-old filly trotter and counted the Peaceful Way among her five wins last season. She challenged the boys in the Mohawk Million, finishing second to Venerate. "She is feeling good," Blais said. "She's a special character, but she's got a lot of speed and talent." Blais and Determination, who also have Grand Circuit winning colt Macho Martini among their Hambletonian hopefuls, won the 2019 Hambletonian with Forbidden Trade. Dan Patch Award winner Anoka Hanover was last season's richest 2-year-old filly trotter, with $587,758 in purses, and the fastest, with a mark of 1:52.3. Her 10-win campaign included a seven-race win streak to end the season and her multiple triumphs on the Grand Circuit included the Goldsmith Maid. Noel Daley trains Anoka Hanover, a daughter of Donato Hanover out of Aunt Mel, and shares ownership with Caviart Farms, Crawford Farms Racing, and L.A. Express Stable. "She looks good and I'm very happy with her demeanor," said Daley, who won the 2011 Hambletonian with Broad Bahn. "She's got a good attitude, which is always good. She wasn't perfect gaited last year, but she knew how to win. The fact she ended last year on such a good note gives me confidence she will come back good." Among the remaining colts and geldings eligible to the Hambletonian is Southwind Tyrion, who won in 1:51.1 last year to become history's fastest 2-year-old male trotter. He is trained by Ake Svanstedt, who won the 2017 Hambletonian by disqualification with Perfect Spirit. "Southwind Tyrion is a real racehorse," Svanstedt said. "He has the whole package. He has a big heart, the speed, and he is a strong horse." Svanstedt's stable also includes Hambletonian-eligible colts Captain Corey and Delayed Hanover, who both were winners on the Grand Circuit last year. Other Grand Circuit winning males eligible to the Hambletonian include Peter Haughton Memorial champ Zenith Stride, Valley Victory winner Bee Forever, and Matron Stakes winner Type A, as well as Arnold N Dicky, Cuatro De Julio, Dancinginthedark M, Lucky Rascal, and Take All Comers. Other Grand Circuit winning fillies eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks include Breeders Crown champion Lady Chaos, Jim Doherty Memorial winner Darlene Hanover, and Matron Stakes winner Illuminata, as well as Beautiful Game, Dicentra, Flawless Country, Hello I Love You, Insta Glam, Iteration, Presto, Pub Crawl, and Shirley Goodness. The Hambletonian is the second leg in this year's Trotting Triple Crown, following the Yonkers Trot on July 2 and preceding the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 10. This season's first Grand Circuit event for 3-year-old trotters is the Dexter Cup. Eliminations, if necessary, will be Saturday (April 24) at Freehold Raceway with the final on May 1. Entries for the Dexter Cup close 9 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday. For the complete list of Hambletonian/Hambletonian Oaks eligible horses, click here. Last year, 79 colts and geldings were eligible to the Hambletonian and 99 fillies were eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks. For Ken Warkentin's winter book Top 10, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

The wins didn't add up for Lindy The Great last year, but the money sure did. Despite only one harness racing victory, Lindy The Great's $390,074 in purses were surpassed by just three older trotters: Dan Patch Award winners Gimpanzee and Manchego, plus Atlanta. Lindy The Great's earnings also established a career high for the trotter and pushed the 7-year-old Crazed stallion's lifetime total to $1.03 million. "You always like the W, that's why we do what we do, but he was so consistent," trainer Julie Miller said about Lindy The Great, who earned a check in 15 of his 16 races last year. "To stay in that kind of form from May to the end of November, that's a tribute to what a nice horse he is. He tries. You can't ask for more. "At that top level, it's not easy to ship all around and race that strong every start. I'll take a barn full of horses like him." Lindy The Great joined Miller's stable last year. He is owned by Andy Miller Stable Inc. and Team Lindy The Great. "He is one of our favorites; Andy just loves him to death," Miller said, referring to her husband, who also is the horse's driver. "You always take pride in your trotters and having a nice aged trotter makes it easier to get up in the morning. We're hoping to have a nice season with him. He came back really well." Lindy The Great makes his seasonal debut Saturday at The Meadowlands, where he faces six foes in the $30,000 Preferred Handicap for trotters. He is 7-2 on the morning line, third choice behind Scirocco Rob (5-2) and JL Cruze (3-1). The stallion's first Grand Circuit stakes event is the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial on May 15 at The Meadowlands. "We staked him heavily," Miller said. "Instead of getting thirds and fourths, this year I'd like to get wins and seconds. But it's a deep group (of older trotters), very serious competition. It's great for the owners and the fans, and us too. That's why we do what we do, to be in those kinds of races." Lindy The Great's top career win came in 2019 in the Caesars Trotting Classic at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Last year, he won a conditioned race and was second in the Maple Leaf Trot, John Cashman Memorial, and Dayton Trotting Derby. He finished third in the TVG Series Open Trot championship and Caesars Trotting Classic. Lifetime, Lindy The Great has won 15 of 63 races. What makes him special in the eyes of Miller? "He's a big, strong, muscular stud horse, but he's a gentle giant," Miller said. "When he's on the track, most people know who he is because he has that look, that presence about him. He's full of himself. He knows that he's special, that's for sure. He's just a crowd-pleaser." Lindy The Great enters Saturday's start off a second-place finish behind Back Of The Neck in his first qualifier of the year, April 10 at The Meadowlands. Lindy The Great, who was beaten by a neck, stopped the timer in 1:51.4, with a :26.2 last quarter. "It was a good qualifier and a nice group of horses," Miller said. "We were happy with our horse. We bounced around whether we should qualify once or twice, but for as fast as they go in the qualifiers, you might as well race and try to get some purse money as well." Which is something Lindy The Great knows how to do, greatly. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

With two horses already guaranteed spots in the harness racing final of the MGM Borgata Series for older male pacers, trainer Ron Burke will look to add a third on Monday (April 12) when Yonkers Raceway hosts the last preliminary round of the six-week event. Based on points accumulated in the series, the Burke Brigade's Rockapelo and This Is The Plan are among five horses to have already secured places in the eight-horse final on April 19. The others are Western Joe, Hesa Kingslayer N, and Leonidas A. Burke's Backstreet Shadow is in the best position to join that group, pending the outcomes in Monday's last preliminary divisions of the series. Backstreet Shadow, sixth in points, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the first of the last three Borgata splits, starting from post one. The six-horse field also includes four of the five horses directly behind Backstreet Shadow in the standings: San Domino A and Lyons Steel, who are tied for seventh, ninth-place Raukapuka Ruler N and 11th-place Tyga Hanover. The remaining horse in the field is series leader Western Joe. Other horses that could bolster their chances of making the final with wins on Monday are Mach N Cheese and Mac's Jackpot, who are both in the second division, and Ostro Hanover, who is in the third. None are morning-line favorites. Backstreet Shadow has a win and two seconds in the Borgata. A trainer can start only one horse in a division, and Burke has four horses in the series, so Backstreet Shadow sat out last week's leg after coming up sick in his second-place finish on March 29. "He had a legitimate excuse his last start," said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Backstreet Shadow, as well as Rockapelo and This Is The Plan. "We had to give someone the week off, so it just made sense for it to be him. We expect him to be pretty good this start and then hopefully even better in the final." Backstreet Shadow, a 6-year-old gelding, has won 25 of 63 career races and $890,162. Last year, he won the Roll With Joe Stakes and hit the board in the Breeders Crown, TVG Open Pace Series championship, Sam McKee Memorial, and Allerage Farms Open Pace. "I think Backstreet Shadow and This Is The Plan are two of the top five or six aged pacers," Weaver said. "They've been factors the last several years. Hopefully, they are again, all season long. This is just the start of a long year, hopefully, for them." This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding with $1.8 million in career purses, has a win and three seconds in the Borgata. He is the 2-1 second choice in Monday's third division. Rockapelo, a 2018 New York Sire Stakes champion who has been lightly tested on the Grand Circuit, is sitting out Monday's action. The 6-year-old gelding has two wins, a second, and a fifth in the series. Nine of his most recent 12 victories have come at Yonkers. "He's kind of a Yonkers specialist, a grinder," Weaver said. "He's surprised us. This will be his Super Bowl, so to speak, for the year. After this, it will be back to overnights." The Burke Stable has traditionally been deep with talented older male pacers. The returning group this season also includes a past Dan Patch Award winner, Dorsoduro Hanover, as well as millionaire Filibuster Hanover, Elver Hanover, The Greek Freak, and Covered Bridge. "The aged division is kind of our bread and butter," Weaver said. "If you get a couple good ones, you can really do some damage. "We try to treat them like a baseball team where you've got some major leaguers, but you're always looking to develop your minor league system. At some point, they're going to get called up to the big leagues. We're constantly trying to keep the pipeline going. Hopefully, we have some that can fill the void when the time comes." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. For complete entries, click here. For the Borgata standings, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

Harness racing driver Kevin Cummings was around the age of 8 when he began jogging horses with his dad, trainer John Cummings Sr. Not surprisingly, as Kevin Cummings approaches win No. 4,000 in his driving career, he counts his father as the most important influence on his life. John Cummings Sr., who passed away in 2019, won more than 700 races as a trainer. Among his top horses was Arm And A Leg, who in 2009 was named western New York's Horse of the Year by the Upstate New York chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. "He was an inspiration," Cummings said. "He was a hard worker. You try to remember all the tips he gave you, what you saw and how he would do things. He was a good horseman. There are horsemen and there are trainers, in my opinion. He was a horseman, for sure. "We went to the barn with him every day. We got to jogging and training at a young age, but he didn't just throw you in the cart. He made you earn that cart first. You had to work and learn the discipline at the other end." Cummings is one of four boys in the family, and the others - John Jr., Tony, and Todd - also have all won races as both drivers and trainers. In fact, Cummings' first win came in 1989 behind a horse named Orlando Otto, who was trained by Tony. "That was special," Cummings said. "It was my second drive. I remember I drove two for him that night. I won with Orlando Otto and the other one I had the seven hole and finished second. He paid $77 to place. That was a good night. That was a lot of fun." Of all the horses to pass through the family's stable, two of Cummings' favorites were Windjammer Munk and Arm And A Leg. Windjammer Munk, who raced from 1979 to 1987, was one of the earliest horses in his dad's stable. "He was probably the family pet," Cummings said. "He was a little horse, but he was tough. He would race. We kept him his whole life. "Arm And A Leg was a real special horse for us. I drove him in the open every week and he got assigned the outside because he was better than the rest. He never had it easy, but he liked it. He was a gutsy horse, and he didn't like to not do good. That would probably be the horse I remember the most. He was just a good horse." Other top moments for Cummings include two wins in the Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace at Batavia Downs. The first came with a local horse, Michael Scores, in 2006. He got the second victory in 2016 with Foiled Again, the richest horse in harness racing history. A year later, Cummings won again with Foiled Again, this time in the George "Duke" Dranichak Memorial Invitational. It was Foiled Again's 96th lifetime triumph. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 109 wins, the eighth most for a pacer in history. "That was a big thing for me, to drive the richest horse ever," Cummings said. "He was a real easy horse to drive, just push-button. He was a special horse, you could tell. He just wanted it. I was two-for-two with him, but he did good for everybody." The 50-year-old Cummings trains a small stable of horses in addition to driving. He has been the winningest driver at Buffalo Raceway six times and at Batavia on four occasions. This year, he is third in the standings at Buffalo. "I'm having a pretty good year," Cummings said. "My horses are doing good, my stable, and I'm doing pretty good driving too right now. I can't complain." He is looking forward to getting win 4,000. Entering Thursday, he had 3,993 victories. "It means a lot," Cumming said. "Every thousand you get is a thousand more that you didn't have. It's a good milestone. I'd like to get to (5,000) but I don't know if it will happen. It's tough here because we only race a couple days a week. It doesn't accumulate as quickly." And just like that young kid who accompanied his dad to the barn all those years ago, Cummings still looks forward to getting to work with the horses. "You can't beat it," Cummings said. "You think about other things you could be doing, and you appreciate what you have. I've got it pretty good. I think that's what keeps me going." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Standardbred owner and breeder Don Tiger knows where Charlie May's 3-year-old harness racing season will begin. Where the pacer goes from there will be decided as his campaign unfolds, but the owner knows where he would like to see his horse. All around the Grand Circuit. Charlie May, who was voted Ohio's best 2-year-old male pacer in 2020, makes his seasonal debut Saturday in a $15,000 elimination of the James K. Hackett Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at Miami Valley Raceway. Charlie May, trained by Steve Carter, will start from post seven in a seven-horse field with driver Brett Miller. Last year, Tiger's homebred gelding won seven of nine starts and finished second in both defeats. Charlie May earned $328,627 to rank sixth among all 2-year-old male pacers in North America and his best win time of 1:50.2, established in a track-record Ohio Sire Stakes championship performance at Scioto Downs, tied for fifth. Charlie May will be pointed toward events for Ohio-sired horses to begin the season, but Tiger has paid the horse into numerous open stakes for 3-year-old male pacers including the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, and Breeders Crown. He is not eligible to the Little Brown Jug but can be supplemented if he wins one of the following races: North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Messenger Stakes, or Cane Pace. "We've got four weeks here (in Ohio) to find out where we're at," Tiger said. "The goal is to get better each week, and then at the beginning of May we'll have decisions to make as far as where we're going. I paid the money for everywhere. He's staked until the end of November. I did my part. Now it's going to be up to the horse. "I'm real excited. You never know what is going to happen between (ages) 2 and 3, but I think the good thing for me is I've been playing with house money, so I'm calm and relaxed and excited and happy. I wouldn't trade places with anybody." Charlie May is by McArdle out of Stipple Hanover. He is the first horse Tiger ever bred. "I just took a leap of faith," Tiger said. "This is for the little guys. This isn't supposed to happen to Steve Carter and Don Tiger. It's a feel-good story. I own the horse, but he's not my horse. It's those guys at the barn -- Steve Carter and his staff. They've told me he's a one-in-a-million horse. "I'd love for those local guys to get the chance (on the Grand Circuit). It would be great for them and great for Ohio racing." Tiger plans to bring a realistic approach to determining Charlie May's stakes schedule. "I want to make a stamp on the national scene, but I'm not going to go through it just to do it," he said. "I'm not going to go to the Meadowlands Pace to be 30-1 and hope I'm fifth. If we're going to those kinds of races we're going to go because we're bringing a howitzer. We're not going with a squirt gun. "We'll see how it shakes out. I just want him to be healthy. If he's healthy and gets beat, I'm great with that. I just don't ever want to play the 'what if' game. If he's healthy, then it's just up to the racing gods and whatever is supposed to happen is going to happen." Charlie May's opening assignment will not be easy. Among his Hackett rivals is Heart Of Chewbacca, who handed Charlie May a setback in a preliminary round of the Ohio Sire Stakes last year and was second in the final. Heart Of Chewbacca, trained by Ron Burke and driven by Dan Noble, also is staked to numerous Grand Circuit races. He was one of last season's fastest 2-year-olds on both a five-eighths and half-mile track. "Ohio has gotten tougher," Burke said. "I think you'll see that maybe those colts can step and go with the other ones. They're breeding a lot of horses; they're breeding way more quality. Things are heading in the right direction there." Laughagain Hanover, who was third in the Ohio Sire Stakes championship, leads the first Hackett elimination. He is trained by Christi Noble and driven by Dan Noble. The first-four finishers from each elimination will advance to the $40,000 final April 17. They will be joined by the fifth-place horse with the fastest time. Racing begins at 4:05 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Miami Valley. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

1 to 16 of 2287
1 2 3 4 5 Next »