March 2017
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2017 RACE DATES

MEADOWLANDS - Post Time 7:15pm
January 26 - March 11, 2017
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays

March 17 - August 5, 2017
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September 8 - September 16, 2017
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November 17 - December 2, 2017
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December 7 - December 30, 2017
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FREEHOLD - Post Time 12:30pm
January 5 - March 25, 2017
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Special Race Day Monday February 20, 2017

March 31 - May 6, 2017
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September 1 - December 9, 2017
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Special Race Day Monday September 4, 2017

December 28 - December 30, 2017
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays



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LONG TOM AIMS TO STEP UP IN BLUE GRASS

-- Story by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA
Photos courtesy Marcus Melander

Long Tom might be short on experience, but trainer Marcus Melander believes the 2-year-old male trotter can stand tall when it comes to racing on the Grand Circuit. The colt, who spent time in Sweden after being purchased for $60,000 at last year’s Standardbred Horse Sale, competes Thursday in the first of six Bluegrass Stakes divisions at Red Mile.

“He feels like the right horse, but there are some good horses out there as well, so it’s not so easy,” Melander said about Long Tom, who heads to Lexington with two wins and a second in three career races. “He started out good and we’ll see how he does against the best ones out here. I definitely think he can be on the Grand Circuit.

“He feels like a good horse and I think he’ll get better and better with every race he can have. We’ll see after Lexington how we do. But so far he’s been very good.”

Long Tom – who is also staked to the International Stallion, Breeders Crown, Matron, and Valley Victory – is a son of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Ilia. He is a half-brother to Tight Lines, who last week finished third in the Old Oaken Bucket at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. Signed for by Swedish trainer Reijo Liljendahl, the horse is owned by the Finland-based AMG Stable Oy.

Following the Harrisburg sale, Long Tom traveled to Sweden, where he was in Liljendahl’s stable.

“We talked in February and Reijo told me he had a good horse he wanted to send over,” Melander said. “I liked him already at the sale, so when Reijo told me the name of the horse I was happy. He was a good-looking horse. He came to me at the end of March.”

Because of his travels, Long Tom wasn’t ready to see action when qualifiers for 2-year-olds began in mid-June at the Meadowlands. But when Melander brought the colt to qualifiers a month later, he was pleased.

On Aug. 9, Long Tom made his racing debut in a conditioned race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and won by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:59.1. Four weeks later, he finished second to New Jersey Viking in the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey-sponsored Harold Dancer Memorial Trot and followed that effort with a 1:56.1 victory in a conditioned race for 2- and 3-year-olds at the Meadowlands.

“He’s been racing very well,” Melander said. “In the qualifiers I took it very easy with him and I felt he was a good horse. In his first lifetime start, he won very easy at Pocono even if it was just in (1):59.1. He did it so easy.

“After that, he had some problems getting into races when the Meadowlands closed. But he raced very well at Freehold after some time off and when he won at the Meadowlands he raced great again.”

Long Tom is a horse that tends to get complacent when he reaches the front, but Melander is impressed with the colt’s desire to win.

“He’s not like a monster in training; he’s very lazy,” Melander said. “He’s like an older horse that’s been doing this for a while. He’s never grabby. He’s almost too lazy sometimes. Last week when he won at the Meadowlands he had plenty left. He’s just so lazy you need to get him going to hold his speed otherwise he waits for the other horses.

“But you can feel in a horse when they want to be first. He’s nice gaited, but what I like most is his head. He wants to be a racehorse; he wants to win.”

At Lexington, Melander is anxious to see if Long Tom has the speed to be a top colt.

“That’s the thing, he’s never been coming home faster than 29 (seconds),” Melander said. “But he’s so lazy. When he’s first, he doesn’t go much faster. He knows he’s first and he knows he’s going to win. I think he’s got the speed. I’m not saying he’s going to go :26 quarters down here, but I think he can go faster than :29, that’s for sure.”

Long Tom, who has earned $19,250 this season, is 9-2 on the morning line in his six-horse Bluegrass division, where he will start from post one with driver Tim Tetrick. Bill’s Man, from the stable of trainer John Butenschoen, is the 2-1 favorite from post two with driver Corey Callahan.




The morning line favorites in the remaining divisions, in race order, are Tony Alagna’s stakes-winner Signal Hill, Frank Antonacci’s International Moni, Julie Miller’s stakes-winner Fly On, Ron Burke’s Peter Haughton Memorial champ What The Hill, and Jimmy Takter’s King On The Hill.


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