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Stafford Invitational Contenders Named

Published: May 21, 2017 2:32 pm ET

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One of the most anticipated races next Sunday (May 28) at Harrah's Philadelphia is the Ben Stafford Jr. Memorial for aged pacers. Stafford, a popular local horseman who raced predominantly in Delaware and at Harrah's Philadephia, passed away in July of 2016 at the age of 45. Stafford won 693 races in his career as a driver, with Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund champion Badlands Jenna, Good Bet, Badlands Art, Mudslide and Scout Hanover, among others.

The invitational itself will feature accomplished millionaire pacers All Bets Off and Great Vintage, Tattersalls Mixed Sales topper Rock N Roll World, Levy standouts Missile J and Somewhere In L A, the red-hot Canadian invader Jins Shark, and wonders from Down Under Christen Me N and Mossdale Connor N.

All Bets Off has an endless resume. The Ron Burke trainee has amassed over $2 million in career earnings, with plenty of high profile stakes wins in his portfolio. Aiming to be the richest son of Bettors Delight, the connections decided against retirement in favor of the racetrack in 2017. He was headed to Hickory Lane Farm to be a stallion in Ohio, but the owners and the farm mutually agreed to terminate the agreement. He ended 2016 with a win in the inaugural Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway.

Millionaire pacer Great Vintage looks to rebound from a tough spot at Yonkers on Saturday (May 20), where a tough trip and bad post took their toll. The brother of double millionaire Vintage Master won this very event in 2015, a year after returning back from a knee injury.

Rock N Roll World was the sales topper at the Tattersalls Spring Mixed Sale at The Meadowlands, going for $165,000 to Tom Pollack. The purchase paid immediate dividends, as the 5-year-old son of Worldly Beauty paced the fastest mile thus far in 2017, a winning effort in 1:48.3 at Hoosier Park. The Jeff Cullipher trainee is staked to the Breeders Crown, Ben Franklin, Canadian Pacing Derby, William Haughton Memorial, and Jim Ewart Memorial.

Two of the major players in the lucrative George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers have been invited. Somewhere In L A and Missile J both had terrific runs leading up to the final, where they finished second and fourth respectively. Somewhere In L A, a 2016 Harrisburg Sales purchase, eclipsed the million-dollar plateau in career earnings last month. He leads all horses in earnings so far this season with just under $350,000 bankrolled. Missile J is fourth in that category, with just under $200,000 earned. The Scott Di Domenico trainee was purchased for 115,000 at the Tattersalls January Select Mixed Sale by the duo of Brian Carsey and John McGill. The 4-year-old's biggest win to date was the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers last season.

Richard Poilucci's wonder from Down Under Christen Me N will return to the scene of his North American debut, a winning effort over the Harrah's Philly oval in 1:51 last Sunday (May 14). He finished a fast closing third at The Meadowlands on Saturday (May 20) in a 1:49.1 clocking. Christen Me N is an eleven-time Group 1 winner in Australia and New Zealand, and was the 2015 New Zealand harness horse of the year.

Canadian invader Jins Shark has been red-hot as of late. The Isaac Waxman trainee paced the first sub 1:50 mile of the year in Canada on April 29 at Mohawk. He has gone on to impressive victories against top Canadian free-for-all pacers since. Jins Shark is owned by Aaron Waxman and Liv With Autism Stables.

Perhaps a bit overshadowed by Christen Me N is another force from the southern hemisphere, Mossdale Connor N. He has looked super impressive since arriving to the United States, winning three straight including an effortless 1:51.4 mile in his most recent effort at Yonkers. The 7-year-old pupil of Peter Tritton won 13 races in New Zealand, including the Group 1 Taylor Mile before being sold to the current connections.

Also on the all-star card next Sunday (May 28) at Harrah's Philadelphia are the Maxie Lee Memorial for aged trotters and the Betsy Ross for aged mare pacers. Post time is 12:40 p.m.

(Harrah's Philadelphia)

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