Wednesday, August 20, 2014


E.L. Titan Hopes to Loom Large


By Ken Weingartner

Stakes-winner E L Titan has been absent from the Grand Circuit this season, but that is soon to change.

The 3-year-old male trotter, who won three of five starts last season, including divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and Madison County, made his 2014 debut earlier this month and is getting ready for the Simcoe Stakes and Canadian Trotting Classic, both at Mohawk Racetrack.

Riina Rekila, who trains E L Titan for breeder/owner Erkki Laakkonen, qualified E L Titan on July 4 at Mohawk, where he won in 1:57.4, but didn’t see the colt make his first start until Aug. 9, when he was victorious by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2 in a conditioned race at Mohawk.

“He had little issues, but we decided to start a little bit later with him,” Rekila said. “He was staked to the Hambletonian too, but I entered him in a few overnights here and they didn’t use the class, so I just came late with him. I can’t just go and race (in the Hambletonian) without any normal races.

“We hope he’s good now until the end of the year.”

E L Titan is by stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Courtney Hall, a stakes-winning full sister to millionaire Cameron Hall. E L Titan is Courtney Hall’s fourth foal and the previous three -- E L Rock, Appomattox and E L Rocket -- each earned at least $233,000. Appomattox, who finished second in the 2012 Kentucky Futurity, leads the group with $414,548.

Last year, E L Titan won his division of the International Stallion Stakes by a neck over Trixton in 1:53.4. The time was fifth fastest among all 2-year-old male trotters last season. He also finished second to Father Patrick in a division of the Champlain Stakes.

“I really liked him,” Rekila said. “He’s lazy training, so you can’t tell too much. We were very surprised he raced that well (on Aug. 9) because he had only one qualifier. At home, I just train him under saddle or on my sand track. I don’t train him too fast, so I was happy he went (1):54 pretty easy at Mohawk.”

Rekila drove E L Titan as a 2-year-old, but Chris Christoforou was in the sulky for the colt’s first start this season. Rekila hopes Christoforou will drive E L Titan again in the Simcoe, which is Aug. 30.

“If he doesn’t take him, I’ll take him,” Rekila said with a laugh. “I like Chris. He’s nice with the horse and he’s one of the best drivers up here.

“I like to drive 2-year-olds because maybe they are not so handy to drive,” she added in explaining why she gave up her seat behind E L Titan this year. “I know them, so it is easier.”

Following the Simcoe and Canadian Trotting Classic, E L Titan’s stakes schedule includes the American-National, Galt, Yonkers Trot, and Breeders Crown.

“I’m racing him lightly because we would like him to race as a 4-year-old as well, maybe when he’s a little older,” Rekila said. “The owner is the nicest person ever, so we can do whatever we want. He doesn’t want me to push the horse. If there are issues we can wait and race the horse whenever he’s ready. We just want to have a nice horse.

“I like him,” she added about E L Titan. “They’re all horses, so you never know, but I think he’s a very nice horse.”


Harness Racing Communications

U.S. Trotting Association




Written by Publisher of Harness Racing Update

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Thursday, August 14, 2014


Father Patrick Ready to Roll Again


By Ken Weingartner

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak.

His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too.

“Win or lose, I’d always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him,” Gingras said. “He’s a great horse. He’s provided me with great thrills so far, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come.

“I’m looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is.”

Father Patrick’s return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover.

Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 – the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack – and went off stride at the start.

The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky.

“I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I’ve never left with him before,” Gingras said after the race. “I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It’s so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I’ll have another chance. But he never will.”

Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat.

“It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed,” Gingras said. “When you focus on a race for so long, that’s what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven’t won one yet. That day had it all – the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he’s accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn’t feel like celebrating.

“I do still think about it. It’s a race I’ll always want to take back, but you’ve got to live with it now at this point.”

Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian.

“They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good,” Gingras said about Father Patrick. “That was to be expected. There’s nothing wrong with him, so I’m sure he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”

The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter’s daughter, Nancy Johansson.

Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga.

The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover.

Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes.

“There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that’s for sure,” Gingras said.


Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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Thursday, August 07, 2014


Sweet Lou Takes Aim at Dan Patch


By Ken Weingartner

It would be easy for trainer Ron Burke to be confident as he prepares Sweet Lou for Friday’s $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park. After all, his 5-year-old pacer brings an eight-race win streak to the event, with an unprecedented stretch of speedy miles to go with it.

But Burke knows Sweet Lou isn’t the only horse streaking into the Dan Patch. Dancin Yankee, the last horse to defeat Sweet Lou, also is among the pacers in the nine-horse field. Dancin Yankee, racing out of the stable of trainer Amber Buter, brings a six-race victory streak to the Dan Patch.

It will be the first meeting between the two horses since Dancin Yankee won the Van Rose Memorial Invitational on May 3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Sweet Lou finished third, but since then has gone undefeated.

“I think Lou is running into another horse that is racing as good as anyone in the country,” Burke said. “I’m actually nervous. I think that horse is super sharp, career sharp, too.

“There are other horses that could win too, but both those horses are on long win streaks. I think that’s going to be a great race.”

Sweet Lou has won eight of 11 races this year and earned $791,500 for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. His wins include the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and Roll With Joe.

His 1:47 victory in the Ben Franklin is the fastest ever on a five-eighths-mile track, breaking the previous mark of 1:47.2 that was shared by Dancin Yankee and Pet Rock.

Sweet Lou has won each of his last five starts in less than 1:48, which is a record. He has been driven during his win streak by Ron Pierce.

For his career, the son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future has won 30 of 66 races and $2.90 million. He was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer and earned $1 million at age 3, but picked up only four wins and $348,638 at 4.

“I’m just so happy he’s winning,” Burke said. “It’s enjoyable to watch him race right now. I’ve been such a believer all along and for him to do what we thought he could, nothing feels better.”

Burke, who on Saturday moved past Virgil Morgan Jr. to become the winningest trainer in harness racing history, also sends Bettor’s Edge to the Dan Patch. The 5-year-old gelding has won six of 19 races this season and earned $421,781. He was second to Sweet Lou in the Franklin and Haughton and fourth in the U.S. Pacing Championship.

Dancin Yankee has won 14 of 21 races this year and $315,140 for owners Baron Racing Stable and Rich Lombardo. The 6-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Dancewiththebest won the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in each of his last three starts.

The remainder of the field is Thinking Out Loud, Night Pro, Carol’s Comet, Heston Blue Chip, State Treasurer and Our Lucky Chip.

“It ended up being a really good field,” Burke said.

Following is the field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Dancin Yankee, Tyler Buter, Amber Buter, 8-1; 2. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh, 6-1; 3. Night Pro, Peter Wrenn, Dale Decker, 20-1; 4. Carol’s Comet, Aaron Merriman, Ron Potter, 15-1; 5. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 4-5; 6. Heston Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Linda Toscano, 15-1; 7. Bettor’s Edge, Ricky Macomber Jr., Ron Burke, 10-1; 8. State Treasurer, Jody Jamieson, Ian Moore, 4-1; 9. Our Lucky Chip, Trace Tetrick, Jason Miller, 30-1.

U.S. Trotting Assn.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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