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Miller High On Love Matters

Published: August 13, 2015 4:14 pm ET

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“Knock on wood, he’s been good so far. You can’t brag too much, you’ll get in trouble, but he’s really a nice colt. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”

It is early in his career, but Erv Miller sees lots to love so far about trotter Love Matters.

Love Matters, a son of Explosive Matter out of the mare Lotsa Love, is undefeated in three starts. On Sunday, the colt is the 8-5 early favourite for the third of six divisions of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for two-year-old male trotters at Tioga Downs in New York. Marcus Miller, Erv’s son, will drive Love Matters.

Tioga Downs’ Sunday card features entirely stakes events. In addition to the six Tompkins-Geers divisions for the two-year-old male trotters there are two divisions each for the two and three-year-old female trotters and one division for three-year-old male trotters.

There also are three eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic for three-year-old female pacers and two elims for the EBC for three-year-old male pacers.

Love Matters heads to the Tompkins-Geers off a three and three-quarter length win over Raisethejollyroger in 1:57.2 in a division of the Arden Downs at The Meadows on July 31. He also has a win in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, from Post 8 at Harrah’s Philadelphia, in 1:59.

“Knock on wood, he’s been good so far,” said Miller, who owns Love Matters with Michael Anderson’s Paymaq Racing and Harvey Eisman. “You can’t brag too much, you’ll get in trouble, but he’s really a nice colt. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”

Miller purchased Love Matters for $21,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. His mother is a half-sister to Malabar Man, who was the 1997 Horse of the Year. Mal Burroughs, who drove Malabar Man to victory in the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown, is co-breeder of Love Matters.

“I just thought he was a really good-looking horse,” Miller said. “He had some length to him; I liked that about him. He’s a long, good conformation horse.

“He had one break in his first (qualifier) at Pocono, but I don’t think he was shod quite right for that. Once we got him shod right, he’s been good since then. He’s not a hard horse to be around.”

Love Matters is eligible to a number of open stakes including the International Stallion, Breeders Crown and Matron.

“He’s a (Pennsylvania) bred so we don’t go too much out of Pennsylvania until the sire stakes are over,” Miller said.

In addition to Love Matters, Miller will send Southern Palms into the sixth division of the Tompkins-Geers for two-year-old male trotters. Southern Palms is 8-1 on the morning line.

Southern Palms, a gelded son of RC Royalty-Pacific Elegance, finished second in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Yonkers Raceway in his debut and then finished third in a division of the Kindergarten Series at the Meadowlands. He went off stride in his most recent start in a division of the NYSS at Batavia Downs.

Purchased for $60,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale, Southern Palms is owned by Ronald Michelon and Anthony Lombardi.

“Southern Palms is a real nice horse,” Miller said. “He’s sort of a late-bloomer. He’s a little aggressive, stays a little too aggressive all the time. That’s why we’ve been kind of taking our time with him. That’s why we had the problem at Batavia.

“I really like him. He’s a great gaited horse. But he’s not mature. His mind is a little short of where it needs to be.”

* * *

Trainer Ron Burke has the morning line favourites in the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for three-year-old trotters. Habitat, who finished seventh in last weekend’s Hambletonian, is the 6-5 early favourite in the race for male trotters while Im So Fancy is the 2-1 early choice in the division for female trotters on the betting card. A second division for the three-year-old filly trotters will be raced as a non-wagering event after the first race on the program.

* * *

Kelvin Harrison’s In The Arsenal is the 8-5 morning line favourite in the first of the two Empire Breeders Classic eliminations for three-year-old male pacers and Tom Fanning’s Betting Exchange is the 5-2 choice in the second. The top four finishers from each elimination plus a fifth-place finisher drawn by lot advance to the final. Elimination winners select post positions for the final.

The early favourites in the elims for three-year-old female pacers are Julie Miller’s Moremercy Bluechip (2-1) and two fillies from the Burke stable, Band Of Angels (7-5) and Sassa Hanover (8-5). The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the final. Elimination winners select post positions for the final.

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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