Wednesday, June 19 2019

Greenshoe tops Hambletonian hopefuls in Beal elims

Five of the 10 horses in the Road to the Hambletonian rankings produced by Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin will be in action Saturday (June 22) in eliminations for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with No. 1 Greenshoe headlining the event.

Greenshoe, who also is the top-ranked 3-year-old trotter in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, is 2-for-2 this season, with his most recent victory coming in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship on May 31 at The Meadowlands. His times of 1:51.2 in the opening round of the NJSS and 1:50.2 in the final are the fastest miles of the season for a 3-year-old trotter.

The colt prepped for the Beal with a 28-length victory in a qualifier at Pocono on June 12. He was clocked in 1:52, which equaled the third-fastest win time of the season by a 3-year-old trotter.

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Friday, June 14 2019

Stars to shine on Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park

The 3-year-old pacers in Saturday’s C$1 million North America Cup will enjoy center stage at Woodbine Mohawk Park but the card’s supporting cast includes its share of star power too, such as No. 1-ranked Shartin N, returning Horse of the Year McWicked, and additional award winners Atlanta, Emoticon Hanover, Forbidden Trade, Hannelore Hanover, Jimmy Freight, Kissin In The Sand, Tall Drink Hanover, Warrawee Ubeaut, and Youaremycandygirl.

Shartin N, who has been the top-ranked horse in all three of this year’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown polls, looks for her second consecutive win in the C$330,000 Roses Are Red Stakes. The 6-year-old mare won a prep race at Mohawk last week by 1-3/4 lengths over Caviart Ally in 1:48.4. She is the 4-5 morning-line favorite, with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Jim King Jr.

“She’s was better than ever,” King said. “Her job was very easy to her. We’re looking forward to Saturday, but we know how that works; anything can happen. But she sure does look the part.”
Shartin N won 19 of 24 races last year and became the first pacing mare to earn more than a million dollars in a season, banking $1.05 million, and received the Dan Patch Award for best older female pacer. She might be an even more complete performer this year.

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Monday, June 10 2019

Big day for DiDomenico in Gaitway qualifiers

Manalapan, NJ — The last time trainer Scott DiDomenico qualified 2-year-olds at Gaitway Farm, it seemed dark clouds followed him at every turn. Of the eight horses he sent into action that morning last June, one posted a win and only one other finished better than fifth.

“It was kind of a beatdown day,” DiDomeninco said.

On Monday, there were dark clouds — literally, this time — all around but DiDomenico had a sunny disposition after watching three of his seven 2-year-olds post victories and another finish second.

“It was a good day at the office,” DiDomenico said. “It’s been a little lean the last couple years qualifying here. To see these horses come through and go good is very fulfilling. It certainly wasn’t a Black Monday today; it was a good Monday.”

A misty rain fell throughout the morning, with the temperature at 65 degrees to start the card. The track was rated “good.”

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Sunday, June 09 2019

Engblom enjoys big day at Big M qualifiers

East Rutherford, NJ --- Per Engblom’s stable got off to a strong start at Saturday’s second edition of Breakfast with the Babies at The Meadowlands, and kept the good times rolling through the morning. Engblom won six times, dominating the eight-race trotting portion of the card for 2-year-olds.

“It was a very good day,” Engblom said. “I thought we had prepared them good enough, especially my trotting fillies. They’ve been training great all winter. I had high hopes for them. The colts also came out nice.

“We’ve got good horses, so they’re supposed to look good when they come out. I was happy with pretty much everything.”

There was a total of 13 qualifiers for 2-year-olds Saturday, with all but five horses in those races making their debuts. In addition to Engblom, trainers Tony Alagna and Ray Schnittker were multiple winners, with two victories each.

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Friday, June 07 2019

Trillions Hanover hopes to put best foot forward in Fan Hanover

Tom Fanning might not have a shoo-in to reach the Fan Hanover Stakes final, but he likes Trillions Hanover’s chances with shoes on.

Fanning watched his 3-year-old female pacer qualify last weekend at The Meadowlands in 1:50.2 with a shoe missing, after which he was quick to quip with a grin, “She probably goes 1:49 with four shoes.” She can try Saturday (June 8), when she races in the first of two Fan Hanover eliminations at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Nineteen 3-year-old filly pacers were entered in the Fan Hanover, including Dan Patch Award winner Warrawee Ubeaut and O’Brien Award winner Tall Drink Hanover. The two will meet in the second of the two C$35,000 eliminations, which also includes Three Diamonds Stakes winner Prescient Beauty and budding Ontario star Sunny Dee, who is 8-for-8 this season.

The top five finishers from each division will advance to the final on June 15.

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Thursday, June 06 2019

Burke’s North America Cup trio looks to step up

Ron Burke leads all trainers in starters for Saturday’s (June 8) Pepsi North America Cup eliminations at Ontario’s Woodbine Mohawk Park, and although his three 3-year-old pacers are winless this season, the sport’s leading conditioner is anticipating improved performances from his group.

Burke, the 2018 Trainer of the Year in the U.S., sends out De Los Cielos Deo in the first of two C$50,000 eliminations and Captain Victorious and Semi Tough in the second. Nancy Johansson and Brian Brown are the only other trainers with multiple horses in the North America Cup elims, with two each.

The top-five finishers from each nine-horse elimination will advance to the C$1 million final on June 15. The connections of the elimination winners will select their post positions for the final and the remaining eight horses will be put in an open draw. The draw will be Tuesday during a luncheon at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

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Wednesday, May 29 2019

Connections hope ‘Swandre’ comes up big

Highly regarded Hambletonian hopeful Swandre The Giant begins his 3-year-old campaign Thursday (May 30) in the first round of the Indiana Sire Stakes at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The Ron Burke-trained colt is the No. 6-ranked horse in Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin’s second Road to the Hambletonian released Tuesday.

Last year, Swandre The Giant won nine of 12 races and finished second twice while earning $255,180. The colt won his first seven starts, all in Indiana, for trainer-driver Brandon Bates before being sold to the ownership group of Diamond Creek Racing, J&T Silva Stables, and Howard Taylor. He immediately tested the Grand Circuit, finishing second in his elimination of the William Wellwood Memorial at Ontario’s Woodbine Mohawk Park and going off stride a week later in the $308,000 final.

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Saturday, May 25 2019

Napolitano and Homicide Hunter reunite in Maxie Lee Invitational

Homicide Hunter and driver George Napolitano Jr. will be reunited this weekend for the first time since their win in October’s Breeders Crown Open Trot and the two have proved to be a dynamic duo. Napolitano has driven the trotter 11 times in his career and posted nine victories.

“We get along good,” said Napolitano, who will drive 7-year-old Homicide Hunter in Sunday’s (May 26) $100,000 Maxie Lee Invitational for older trotters at Harrah’s Philadelphia. “He’s just a good ol’ horse, it’s pretty simple. He’s got the heart to win. He always sticks his nose out. He makes it pretty easy for a driver.”

Homicide Hunter, history’s fastest trotter with a time of 1:48.4 set last year in the Allerage Open Trot at Lexington’s Red Mile, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the Maxie Lee and will start from post three. He is making his third start of the season and enters off a 1:52.4 victory in a preliminary round of the Great Northeast Open Series at Philly on May 19.

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Thursday, May 23 2019

Top-ranked Hambletonian hopeful Gimpanzee ready for 2019 debut in EBC

Marcus Melander trains the top three horses in the first Road to the Hambletonian rankings released this week by Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin, and No. 1 makes his first start of the season Monday (May 27) in the $215,200 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs.

Gimpanzee, who was 9-for-9 last year and took home the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter, will start from post five in the EBC for Melander and regular driver Brian Sears. Last year, Gimpanzee won seven times on the New York Sire Stakes circuit, including the $225,000 final, before capturing his elimination and the final of the Breeders Crown.

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Friday, May 10 2019

Lets Get Real a ‘10’ in maiden win

Winning a race is always special for an owner. But when Linda Schwaid and her husband Era “Ernie” Williams watched their homebred pacer Lets Get Real win his career debut this past Saturday at Freehold Raceway, it provided a rush that lasted for days.

That’s because Lets Get Real was no ordinary first-time starter. Lets Get Real is 10.

“Just to see him race was special,” Schwaid said. “To see him win? My heart was beating for days. I couldn’t believe it. It was total shock.

“We’ve had winning horses before, but not like this. Not after all the work we put in.”

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Monday, May 06 2019

Winndevie ready to defend New York crown

If not for the whirlwind known as Woodside Charm and a world-record-shattering mile, filly trotter Winndevie could have completed her 2-year-old season with an undefeated record. But there was no shame in finishing with a 6-for-7 slate, capped by a victory in the New York Sire Stakes championship.

On Tuesday (May 7), the filly returns to the site of last year’s final triumph — Yonkers Raceway — to begin her defense of the title as the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the third of three NYSS divisions for 3-year-old female trotters. The race, with a purse of $54,833, will be Winndevie’s seasonal debut for trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer and owner Purple Haze Stables.
“She’s been good all winter; I’ve been happy with her,” Smedshammer said about Winndevie, a daughter of Credit Winner out of Vida De Vie. “She’s more mature, looks good. She’s good and healthy. She only has one qualifier in her, so she’s not super ready, but we’ll see.

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Wednesday, May 01 2019

050119-Warrawee Ubeaut on her best behavior so far for Gingras

Warrawee Ubeaut left little question about her speed last year, but her behavior was not always the best. If her work heading into this season has been any indication, though, the returning Dan Patch Award winner is blossoming into Miss Manners.

“At times last year she would get a little too excited and she would drive me instead of letting me drive her,” said Yannick Gingras, who has sat behind Warrawee Ubeaut for every start of her career. “But all winter long they told me how good she was coming back and how well behaved she was. They were right.

“Her manners have been perfect so far. She’s just very chill out there.”

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