Day At The Track

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Two giants of harness racing are not only introducing a new wager that combines their considerable assets this Friday (March 22) but are also tackling an industry-wide source of frustration in the hopes of pleasing the customer. The "Can-Am Pick-4" will make its debut and requires a player to correctly select the winners of two races at the Meadowlands and two more at Woodbine Entertainment's Woodbine Mohawk Park. The bet will have a 20-Cent minimum, so players who are accustomed to a 50-Cent wager will have the option to increase their base bet or use more horses in the hopes of catching several longshots during the sequence. It will also sport a low 15 percent takeout. Leg One of the CAP4 will be Woodbine Mohawk Park's 10th race (post time, 10:40 p.m.), followed by the Meadowlands' 10th (10:52 p.m.), WMP's 11th (11:04 p.m.) is the third leg before the wager concludes with the 11th (11:16 p.m.) at the Big M. If all goes according to plan, the entire bet from start to finish will take 36 minutes, which is certain to be a hit with horseplayers. "For us, it's important to get things done in a timely fashion," said Klaus Ebner, Senior Manager of Simulcast Services for Woodbine. "The Can-Am Pick-4 locks up the customer's funds for a short span, allowing them to churn winning money into more wagering opportunities." But harness racing's two biggest tracks in terms of visibility and handle have more up their sleeves. The subject of post-time "drag" will be addressed by both tracks beginning with the Friday races. "As industry leaders, one of our goals - as well as our friends at Woodbine Entertainment - is to shorten the post-time drag before our races go to the gate," said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "We will both be doing this as the leaders of this industry. We want to move the needle back on these outlandish drags but it will take an industry-wide initiative to make it happen. We will be taking the first step in doing so and are hoping that our fans will continue to wager the same or more." Both tracks are aiming for the following: -At three minutes past zero minutes to post, countdown clock starts -At four minutes, call to post -At five minutes, race goes off "This will allow the customer to understand when the race is going off," said Ebner. "It will have some certainty for them. Our main goal is we don't want our customers having to choose between wagering on Woodbine Mohawk Park and the Meadowlands. The coordination of post times will allow them access to the best two harness racing products in the world. We have worked together to stay off one another (not race at the same time) to the best of our abilities and, for the most part, the staffs at both tracks do a great job of doing that."   GET READY FOR MAYHEM: The NCAA college basketball tournament will be on overload this week with a full slate of games scheduled for Thursday through Sunday (March 21-24). Also on overload will be college basketball fans who will be watching and wagering on all of the hoops action in the Meadowlands' FanDuel Sportsbook, where there is plenty of comfortable seating with many food and drink options from which to choose. The action begins at noon, with 16 games on Thursday and Friday, before eight more matchups on Saturday and Sunday.   ORANGE CRUSHES: Driver Andy Miller, aka The Orange Crush, hot the hot hand last weekend (March 15-16) at the Big M, piloting seven horses to victory lane. Jenn Bongiorno paced the trainer's colony, winning three times from only five starts.   CALLING ALL T-BRED 'CAPPERS: On Saturday (March 23), the Meadowlands is hosting a National Horseplayers Championship qualifying event with a pair of seats to the NHC Final in Las Vegas (Feb. 7-9, 2020) on the line. The qualifier has a $400 entry fee. Pre-registration is recommended but walk-ups on the day of will be accepted. Need more information? Contact Rachel Ryan at raryan@playmeadowlands.com or go to www.playmeadowlands.com.   Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations  

Jim Campbell knows stakes-winner Alexa's Power will face a challenge this year at age 4, leaving the age-restricted ranks to take on the best older female pacers in the sport, but the harness racing trainer believes his mare has a temperament that could help her along. "She's got that feisty, racing attitude to her, and she likes to race," Campbell said. "I think those are pretty good qualities to help her make that transition. But it's a very tough group, probably as tough as there's been in a long, long time. "The toughest part for them is coming back at 4 and making that transition. She needs to get some racing and see what she can do." Alexa's Power starts to get that racing Friday at the Meadowlands, where she kicks off her 4-year-old season in the preferred handicap for fillies and mares. She faces eight rivals, including 2018 Golden Girls winner Divas Image, who is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Alexa's Power, with Marcus Miller in the sulky, is 6-1. Last year, Alexa's Power won multiple Grand Circuit stakes, including the Jugette and Lismore Pace. She won nine of 20 races, hit the board a total of 17 times, and ranked fourth in divisional earnings with $469,363. The three horses that finished ahead of her in purses have either a Dan Patch or O'Brien award to their credit: Kissin In The Sand, Youaremycandygirl, and Percy Bluechip. "I was very happy with her," Campbell said. "She's such a nice filly to race because she gives you a good effort every time you put her out there. And she's just a real nice horse to be around, too. She's one that you love having in the barn." Alexa's Power, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the O'Brien Award-winning mare Michelle's Power, is owned by breeder Jeff Snyder and his son Michael. She is a full sister to stakes-winner Mac's Jackpot and her family also includes Canada's 2012 Horse of the Year Michael's Power as well as Hall of Famer Cam's Card Shark. Alexa's Power The mare prepped for Friday's race with two qualifiers at the Meadowlands. She finished fifth in the first and fourth in the second, beaten 1-1/4 lengths. "She bled a little bit in her second qualifier, so we put her on Lasix; it will be her first start on Lasix," Campbell said. "But other than that, she's come back good. "We were thinking of the (Blue Chip Matchmaker Series) for her, but bleeding and not getting off on the right foot, that was going to be pretty tough. We're just going to get her a few overnights and see where she's at and go from there. She's staked up. We'll go race to race and see how she is and go from there." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Friday at the Meadowlands. The card also includes a preferred handicap for trotters, where Sutton is the morning-line favorite (2-1) over Trolley (5-2). Sutton handed Trolley his only loss in five races this season on March 8. Trolley defeated Sutton in his seasonal debut on Feb. 22. For Friday's complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

Aero King (9g Hooper) took Tuesday’s Enghien featured Prix Bernard Simonard (monte, apprentice jockeys, 58,000€ purse, 2875 meters, 11 starters) clocked in 1.13kr and ridden by Maxime Tijou.   Off at 4.4/1 odds, Aero King won for the 10th time in 85 starts, now for 437,270€ earned. Mme. Virginie Moquet trains the winner. 3.6/1 Delcieux de Cebe (6g Gazouillis) was second with Mlle.   Oceane Briand aboard for trainer Franck Leblanc, and 2.8/1 Carla du Chatelet with third with Maxime Gilbert in the irons for trainer Sebastien Guarato.   On the same card lightly raced three year olds contested the Prix du Pont Saint-Michel (purse 41,000€, 2875 meters, eight starters) with victory to the 9/10 favorite Great Zeus (3f Niky-Tine de Villeneuve) handled by Eric Raffin.   Gregory Thorel trains the 1/19kr clocked winner that scored for the second time in three career starts. 7/1 Gaston du Roc (3m Quirky Jet) was close second for Patrice Toutain and 4/1 Great Father (3m Opus Viervil) rallied for third with Nicolas Roussel up.   Great Zeus                   - LeTrot photo   At Mons Ghlin this day was the featured Prix Shanghai (7,200€ purse, 2300 meters autostart, nine International starters). 17.2/1 outsider Ultimate du Rib (11g Dahir de Prelong-Kara Pelois) scored timed in 1.14.9kr, his 16 th career victory in 128 starts now for 551,352€ earned.   Gert Sucaet teamed the trainee of Christophe De Groote. 4.1/1 Truman Dairpet (12g Biesolo-Heloise Poterie) took second for Piet Van Pollaert and third was the 5/10 favorite Goofy Greenwood (6g Russel November-Chatooga River) with trainer H.W. Langeweg Jr. at the lines. Ustang Ludois, Buzz Mearas and Banker Transs R followed the top three home in this good field.   Ultimate du Rib       -LeTrot photo   Later in that card the Prix Melbourne (6,000€, 2300 meters autostart, eight starters) saw 2.7/1 Elencio (5m Love You-Olencia) score, timed in 1.14.8kr for pilot Joseph Verbeeck and breeder/owner/trainer Alphons Vanberghen.   Racing also was held this day at Hyeres with the feature race being the Prix du Restaurant “le Porquerollais” (purse 37,000€, 2850 meters distance handicap).   12.2/1 odds Avocat des Loyeau (9g Meaulnes du Corta) was victorious for owner/trainer/driver Laurent Freneau timed in 1.14.6kr.   This winner recorded his 12 th career win now for 182,890€ earned. 40.2/1 Venezia de Mai was second for Anthony Laignon, overcoming a 25 meter handicap, and 10.4/1 Bichon del Green was third.   The 1.9/1 Colonel Bond was fourth, he too 25 meter handicapped, as was 1.8/1 Auch that finished sixth.   Avocat des Loyaux   Note that the great French gelding Aubrion du Gers has received and accepted an invitation to the 2019 Elitloppet. Trainer Jean Michel Bazire announced the acceptance and that he is a double winner of the event. It is not known whether Bazire will travel to Sweden to drive his champion that has been driven by another double Elitloppet winner Joseph Verbeeck in other ventures outside of France. Readly Express, Propulsion and Dijon were previously invited to the 2019 Elitloppet.     It was also rumored that Bjorn Goop could drive Bold Eagle in his anticipated race at Enghien in the Prix l’Atlantique, that is scheduled for April 20.   This is Enghien’s only Gr. I event and it carries a purse of 170,000€ (2150 meters autostart is the distance).   Bold Eagle won the 2017-2018 editions of the race that has historically drawn the best trotteurs then racing in Europe. Winners since 2004 are shown below.         Thomas H. Hicks

If ever there was a horse who shouldn’t have “made it”, Great Western Harness Racing trainer Michelle Wight reckons it’s her promising three-year-old Reactor Now (Auckland Reactor-Who’s Sorry Now (Western Ideal). Wight freely admits the accident-prone gelding has presented some challenges – but after two assertive wins in succession, it seems “Goose”, as he is known around the stables, might finally be repaying her dedication. “To put it bluntly, he sat on a post just before he was due to come back into work as a yearling and the injury he sustained was horrible.  We really weren’t sure he would ever race,” Wight said. And anyone who’s ever tended a serious equine injury wouldn’t dare argue. The 16-inch gash in the large muscle mass on the horse’s near side rump was deep and extremely difficult to manage.  But, over a period of four months, Wight and her husband Craig, with the assistance of their vet, managed to nurse Goose back into “one piece”. “We had a few setbacks along the way, including at one stage the internal stitches breaking open, but we got there in the end,” Wight said. But even after the prolonged recovery, the troubles weren’t over for Reactor Now. “We finally got him back into work as a two-year-old and there was another hiccup.  Because of the damage to the muscle, he was a little short in his action on that leg, which we were just working him through slowly,” Wight said. “One day he just worked a little bit lame on the leg and I got the vet to have a look and he’d somehow fractured a pastern bone. So, yes, he has been a project!” she laughed. Wight said Reactor Now’s three-year-old preparation had been necessarily and understandably slow. “We probably had him in work most of the last half of last year and have been mindful of allowing him to make a full recovery and looking after him,” she said. The gelding had his first start at Horsham in February but “got a bit excited” and proved a handful for Wight’s brother-in-law, reinsman Grant Campbell. But Campbell managed the gelding superbly when he returned to the track at Ballarat a month later, easing Reactor Now from the mobile barrier as the leaders poured on the speed.  At one stage in the first lap Campbell found himself 40 metres from the leaders, but unflustered tacked on with 1200 to go, slid into the death seat and applied the pressure.  He hit the front before the home turn and dashed away to score by 12 metres untouched. To watch the video replay of this race click on this link. The pacer was just as impressive at Terang a fortnight later (March 19) when he was caught three wide early, for nearly half a lap, before working to the death-seat.  Approaching the bell, Campbell clicked the big fellow up a gear to surge to the lead.  When he pulled the plugs on the home corner, Reactor Now careered clear, eventually winning by 10 metres, with the last quarter in a sizzling 27.4 (half in 56.6). To watch the video replay of this race click on this link. “He’s always showed his potential, but he’s been a big, awkward, green fellow and he’s taken a lot of time to learn, and probably get the confidence to go fast,” Wight said. “When he’s within his comfort zone he is good, but if you push him beyond that, he can get a bit rough and break,” she said. “But in his two wins he has won well within himself and we haven’t pushed him, so we haven’t really found the bottom of him yet. I think if one came up beside him he would find a little bit because he has got a competitive streak. “It’s fair to say he’s done more than we expected at this stage.” Although horse and connections endured a torrid 18 months, Wight said Reactor Now ticked all the boxes when he was purchased after the APG Gold 2016 sale. “He’s owned by Graeme and Liz Old, their nephew Frank and his wife Robyn and their daughter Narelle Hall and her husband Steve,” she explained. “He was a bit of an afterthought at the sales because all the ones we liked were above our budget. So, at the end of the day we were looking at what had been passed in. “My husband Craig loves to go through the books and choose them from the breeding and Frank prides himself on picking them on looks.  So between the two of them they picked out Reactor Now. Reactor Now “He is a very natural athlete and pacer and even when I was long-reining him he was pacing.  But he was a big fellow and we knew he would take time – just probably not quite this much time!” But it’s no surprise Wight has managed to put the polish on “Goose”, with her reputation for finding a way with problem horses. “This group of owners are the same ones who had Frances Annie – aka ‘The Mad Trotter’,” she said. “We had a five-horse truck and she needed all the dividers out and to travel on her own just to get her to the races. Once we got there, she needed spare stalls either side of her. “Once the lease was up, the owners weren’t too keen on having her back immediately, so we have her out the back in foal (to Skyvalley).  She did test my patience, but she did win $100,000, so you never know!” Reactor Now is entered in the Group 3 Victoria Sires Classic $40,000 for three-year-olds race at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Talented young reinsman Bailey McDonough will be anxious to take full advantage of Clarenden Hustler’s sparkling gate speed when he drives the six-year-old from the prized No. 1 barrier in the $20,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. In-form trainer Matt Scott engaged McDonough to drive Clarenden Hustler for the first time to gain a junior driver’s concession and a start in an event which has enabled the chestnut to drop significantly in class. Shannon Suvaljko has driven Clarenden Hustler, a former South Australian performer, in all his nine starts in Western Australia for two wins and two seconds. Clarenden Hustler started from the inside of the back line and trailed the pacemaker Handsandwheels in the group 2 Four and Five-Year-Old Championship over 2130m last Friday night before wilting to finish eighth behind Handsandwheels. But he will certainly appreciate racing in inferior company this week when his main dangers include Just Bet On Black, Smoldering Ashes, Luis Alberto and Aliman. Just Bet On Black, trained and driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, is in top form, but is not perfectly drawn at No. 4 on the front line. However, he has the ability to overcome this draw and prove hard to beat. He started from the No. 6 barrier when an impressive last-start winner, over 2536m last Friday week. He raced three wide early and then worked hard in the breeze before getting to the front and fighting on gamely to defeat the pacemaker Dominate The Dojo by a half-neck at a 1.58.5 rate, with final quarters in 27.7sec. and 29.3sec. Two weeks before that Just Bet On Black raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs before finishing powerfully to be a neck second to James Butt at a 1.54.4 rate over 1730m, with final quarters of 28.1sec. and 28.6sec. “He’s in somewhere near career-best form,” Egerton-Green said. “It’s been a long process and, touch wood, we’ve got him right and hopefully able to string a few nice runs together.”   Ken Casellas

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has lavished praise on big New Zealand-bred colt Major Trojan and has no hesitation in declaring him one of the best three-year-olds he has prepared even better than superstar $1 million champions Beaudiene Boaz and Chicago Bull.    Hall has trained the winner of four of the past six prestigious WA Derbies and is confident Major Trojan will prove very hard to beat in the $200,000 Derby next Friday week (April 5). Major Trojan, a winner at two of his five starts in New Zealand, has finished a close second at each of his first two starts in Western Australia and Hall is confident the colt will prove hard to beat in the $50,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Western Gateway Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I think he’s the best three-year-old I’ve trained, or maybe, the second best, behind Alta Christiano,” Hall said. “Beaudiene Boaz and Chicago Bull were good, but as three-year-olds neither were as good as Major Trojan.” In saying that, Hall admitted that Major Trojan was far from a good thing in the Western Gateway in which he will start out wide, at barrier eight on the front line of the 2536m event. He has plenty of respect for the brilliant Colin Brown-trained Patrickthepiranha, who will be a short-priced favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier. “I reckon that Major Trojan is the best horse in Friday night’s race and whatever beats him will win,” he said. “Regarding his strengths, he is fast and he can stay but it won’t be easy to beat Patrickthepiranha, who should get an uncontested time in front and I expect Major Trojan will be playing cat and mouse with Franco Edward. “However, Major Trojan doesn’t need a lot of luck; he can make his own luck. I think he’s the real deal. He had only nine weeks in work before last Friday night’s race and he should be starting to get close to top fitness. He should be at his peak on Derby night.” Major Trojan, who will again be handled this week by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, has plenty to live up to. The wonderful father-and-son combination has landed the winner of four of the past six Derbies, scoring with Alta Christiano (2013), Beaudiene Boaz (2015), Chicago Bull (2016) and King of Swing (2018).    Major Trojan gave a sample of his class last Friday night when he finished an unlucky second in a 2130m Derby prelude, a nose behind stablemate Eloquent Mach. He started from the inside of the back line and was three back on the pegs in fifth place at the bell, with Eloquent Mach setting a brisk pace. The final quarters then were covered in 27.7sec. and 28.4sec., with Major Trojan being held up for a clear run before he finished with a powerful burst on the inside to fail by the narrowest of margins. Six nights earlier, Major Trojan had his first start for four months when he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back in the 2100m Battle of Bunbury at Donaldson Park. He vacated that position 420m from home and sustained a spirited burst to finish a neck second to the pacemaker Eloquent Mach, with final quarters in 27.7sec. and 27.8sec. Eloquent Mach, again with Stuart McDonald in the sulky, will start from barrier two on the back line in Friday night’s race and should be prominent. The Hall stable’s third runner Robbie Easton (Micheal Ferguson) is awkwardly drawn at barrier five. “Eloquent Mach is getting better with every run and Robbie Easton is going well, but is underrated,” said Hall Snr. Patrickthepiranha, like most of his rivals this week, will be having his first start over the Derby distance of 2536m. With a marvellous record of 12 starts for nine wins, he has given every indication that the longer trip will pose no problems. He is also a splendid frontrunner, having set the pace in six of his nine victories. Dylan Egerton-Green, fresh from driving Patrickthepiranha to victory in last Friday night’s $50,000 Sales Classic, has handled the gelding in all of his 12 starts and he has high hopes of winning the Western Gateway Classic for the second year in a row after bringing the Mike Reed-trained Bechers Brook home with a dazzling burst from ninth at the bell to beat Cott Beach by a neck in last year’s classic. “It’s a great draw (No. 1) and hopefully we can take full advantage of it,” he said. “He has shown that he can roll the gate, but I don’t expect it to be an easy run for the horse. He has pulled up well after winning the Sales Classic and this will be a good test. The Derby, that’s the aim.” Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper has spaced Franco Edward’s runs in the lead up to the Derby and the American Ideal colt looms as a major player in this week’s classic as well as the Derby. Franco Edward notched his ninth win from 14 starts when he raced in the breeze for much of the journey and was inclined to overrace before finishing strongly to win a Derby prelude over 2130m three weeks ago, beating the pacemaker Eloquent Mach and Galante, who enjoyed a good run behind the pacemaker. Franco Edward has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 9) on Friday night and he will have a legion of admirers. He gave a tremendous indication of his great talent in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he settled down in last place in a field of five, ten lengths from the early leader, before Harper sent him forward with a sparkling turn of speed 1100m from home. He charged to the front within 100m and careered away to win, unextended, by 27 lengths from unraced three-year-old Cordero. Ken Casellas

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Wheels A Turning was the lone harness racing mare in Buffalo Raceway's $12,000 Open Trot on Wednesday night (March 20) and she was way too much for the boys to handle as she scored a 1-1/4 length victory over Southern Palms in 1:57.4 over the fast track.   The win was the third straight in as many tries for Wheels A Turning ($5.40) since arriving from The Meadows in late February.   Drafting behind the fraction setting Southern Palms (Jim Morrill Jr.) who went splits of :28.3, :59.1 and 1:28.4, Wheels A Turning (Shawn Gray) kicked her into high gear down the stretch and had no issues to cruising to the finish line in front. Southern Palms held on for second place with Are You In (Kevin Cummings) taking third.   Co-owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, it was the third win in six appearances for Wheels A Turning (Mr Cantab-Free Wheeling). The 5-year-old mare, trained by James Clouser Jr., has now earned $14,190 in 2019 and $169,592 lifetime.   You Mach Me Crazy (Gray) won the battle and then the war in the $10,500 Class A Open Handicap Pace for the filly and mares in a seasonal best 1:55.4.   In the tussle for early command, You Mach Me Crazy managed to subdue the leave attempts by Little Joke and HP Sissy. Showing the way on the front end with a :58.4 opening half, You Mach Me Crazy ($4.20) pulled away down the stretch thanks to a :28.2 last frame to post the 2-1/4 length win. Little Joke (Shawn McDonough) was the runner up while Kaitlyn Rae (Drew Monti) arrived in time for the show position.   William Emmons is the owner You Mach Me Crazy (Mach Three-Lady Terror). The 6-year-old mare, trained by Clouser Jr., has now registered five wins in nine appearance, boosting her bankroll to $28,195 this year and $326,675 lifetime.   Making her Buffalo Raceway debut, Majestic Kat (Billy Davis Jr.) went from last to first to take the upset win in the $10,000 Class A-AA Handicap Trot in 1:59.0.   With Time Will Tell All showing the way until the three-quarter marker, Majestic Kat ($18.20) started her slow and steady climb towards the top and eventually exploded past the field in the lane. Empire Earl N (Ray Fisher Jr.) and Call My Broker (Cummings) finished in a dead heat for second, a length behind Majestic Kat.   Co-owned by the Vogel & Wags Nags Stable, Jack Rice and Pine Hill Racing, Majestic Kat (Majestic Son-Order By Matilda) is a 5-year-old mare who is trained by Maria Rice. The victory jacked her seasonal winnings to $17,460 and to $179,051 in her career.   Cummings and Gray finished the evening with four winners each in the bike while Fisher Jr. had a double. Clouser had three training wins with Misty Carey getting two.   Racing will continue on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. with a 13-race card set.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Three year old harness racing pacing filly, Cheep Sunglasses, under the expert guidance of Austin Siegelman, reaches the wire in 2:02 at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday March 20. Austin Siegelman won 5 races on an 8 race card. No, its not groundhogs day but it is beginning to sound like a broken record, for the fourth time this season Austin Siegelman won five races in an afternoon at Monticello Raceway, he did it again on Wednesday March 20. He proceeded to win the first 3 races Boostwiththefur (1:59.1- $3.10), Cheep Sunglasses (2:02 - $6.30) Gonna Fly (1:58 - $10.80) he finished 3rd in the 4th race. Four Starzz Lefty (1:59.3 - $10.20) won the 5th race, Austin finished 2nd in the 7th race with Cerisier. It was Adorabella, a 3-year-old Pet Rock filly that earned Siegelman his 5th trip to the winners circle. Adorabella is trained by Jody Riedel, it was the fillys first pari mutual win. The five wins from today has vaulted Siegelman to the top of the leading dash winners at Monticello Raceway with 85 wins, Mike Merton is second with 64. James DeVaux 52 and Bruce Aldrich in 4th with 49 wins. Overall Siegelman has won 118 races thus far in 2019, which is good enough to earn him the 6th place nationally , his mounts have earned $676,073 at this point in the season.   By: Shawn Wiles

Bonamassa (Muscle Mass) continued her strong start to the meet on Wednesday at Saratoga Casino Hotel when the Maureen Salino trainee recorded her third win of the season in just her fifth start. The 3-5 betting favorite in her division of the $9,000 co-featured races for New York sired trotters, Bonamassa wound up sitting the two-hole on Wednesday and parlayed her pocket ride to victory in career-best fashion. Brett Crawford has been the regular pilot this year for Bonamassa who again surged in the stretch on Wednesday before stopping the timer in 1:57.4 to continue the strong start to her '19 campaign. Proving to be versatile this season, Bonamassa has thrived while racing up close and from off the pace in her handful of tries in her four year old season. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:00pm first post. There is a $5,000 guarantee in the Pick Five pool starting in race one. Race five has a $25,000 guarantee in its triple pool.   Mike Sardella

Marcoola’s comeback has be delayed as Clint Ford just couldn’t ask his old mate to start off a massive handicap at Addington this week. So the Dominion winner will now go into the NZ Trotting Champs against Speeding Spur and Monbet without a race in two months. Marcoola’s season has been a real game of two halves situation: before Christmas he was nearly unbeatable, since then nothing has gone right. He was beaten by Massive Metro as a red hot favourite in the National Trot on New Years Eve then performed lengths below his best in the Great Southern Star at Melton in January, later found to have dust in his lungs. Now back in his beloved Canterbury, owner-driver Ford says he is putting the failed Victorian experience behind him. “I loved the trip and being part of it over there but nothing went our way for the race,” says Ford. “Both him and Amaretto Sun were fine when they first got to Victoria but after a few days the weather changed and it got very, very hot into the 40s.  They stopped eating and drinking as much and raced liked it and afterwards we had them scoped and found a lot of dust in their lungs. “I suppose the conditions are something the local horses get used to but our didn’t and taking advice from people I think if we went over there again we would either go just the day before or like three weeks before to give them time to adjust. “Obviously what we did didn’t work.” Ford is happy with how Marcoola’s new prep is going  but wasn’t as thrilled with the 55m handicap he received at Addington on Friday night and scratched him. “I am not sure it is the right thing to do racing him off 55m fresh up so I scratched him,” said Ford. “With a horse like him he would have to be put in the race and I think a trial might be a better way to get him ready for the Trotting Championships.” Before his summer derailed post-Christmas, Morcoola would have been unbackable to win Trotter of the Year, especially after one of the more brutal Dominion wins in recent times in November. He will still almost certainly win the title Ford would like to win one of the three group ones remaining to the six-year-old to cement the title and end the season on a high. “We have the Trotting Champs, the Anzac Cup and the Rowe Cup and that will probably do us so I’d like to get at least one of those.” While Marcoola may not make it to Addington on Friday night there is great depth at the meeting and Northern Derby winner Ultimate Sniper looks set to continue on his winning after drawing perfectly in the Flying Stakes, the lead-up to New Zealand Derby on April 5. Michael Guerin

No matter what she does, Kristina Smith carries the memory of her grandmother with her. Smith's horses always will too. Smith, the 21-year-old daughter of trainer Randy Smith, lost her grandmother, Linda Jean Nelson, to cancer in 2015. Nelson was an inspiration to Kristina on multiple levels, including around the horses and on the racetrack. Nelson was an accomplished horsewoman, even setting the track record for trotting under saddle at Scarborough Downs in the 1970s. So when Smith began her own training career earlier this year, it was important for her to honor her grandmother and the contributions she made to her life. Smith decided her horses would race in pink equipment, including a Buxton with Nelson's name on it, in memory of her grandmother. Twelve days ago, an 8-year-old pacer named Uppercutz went onto the track at Miami Valley Raceway wearing that equipment and gave Smith her first win as a trainer. photo -Kristina Smith "My grandmother meant the world to me," Smith said. "She helped my dad raise me and she was always there for me, even when she was sick. We lost her too soon. There was so much more she could have taught me, not only with the horses but about life and being a good person because she was a prime example. I wouldn't be where I am and who I am if it wasn't for her and for that I keep her legacy alive." Smith grew up in New England, where her dad started his stable when she was 3. She now lives near Columbus, Ohio, where she works for trainer Sandy Beatty and has her own one-horse racing stable plus a retired Standardbred owned previously by her grandmother that is now a riding horse. The trotter, Blue Boy Yankee, is no stranger to having someone on his back --- Smith raced him under saddle in 2014 and 2015. Smith was unaware of her grandmother's under-saddle exploits when she began riding but was happy to discover the connection. "I think it's meaningful to follow in her footsteps," Smith said. She also is following in her father's footsteps, and in the case of Uppercutz's victory, beating him. Randy's horse A List finished third in the same race. "Everyone was teasing him," Smith said, laughing. "But he said if he had to lose to someone he would rather lose to his daughter." Randy found Uppercutz for his daughter, who claimed the gelding out of a race in Maine. Not surprisingly, she rides the pacer as part of his training regimen. The horse has raced eight times for Smith and posted a win and two seconds. "I take him trail riding; I have a blast with him," Smith said. "He doesn't want to stay on the track to jog. He'll jog for about 10 minutes and try to run off the track. I've learned it's easier to ride him because he enjoys that more than jogging in a jog cart. He seems to be a horse that likes the one-on-one attention." Uppercutz winners circle                 -photo Brad Conrad Smith does not intend to train horses on a fulltime basis. Whatever success Uppercutz enjoys on the track, Smith plans to use the profits to go to equine dentistry school. "For the time being, just having one is good," Smith said. "I've always wanted to have my own smaller stable. I probably wouldn't want to have more than three racehorses plus the riding horse. The smaller the better. It's very time consuming to do everything the right way. I'd rather have a smaller stable and have every horse get the attention they need. I was always told quality is better than quantity." No matter what she does, Smith will continue to use the lessons she learned from her grandmother and father along the way. "I was definitely very fortunate to have them to teach me," Smith said. "My dad would always say to me growing up, 'I just want you to be the best you can be.' That's what I strive to do. I know my grandmother looks over me and I want her to be proud."   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com  

This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series second legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features four $40,000 divisions on Friday (March 22) in the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (March 23) card at Yonkers will see six $50,000 divisions in the second round of the George Morton Levy series for open pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for Free-For-Allers began Saturday night (March 16) with six $50,000 divisions. Dan Dube posted his 9,000th career win with Western Fame. Mike Lizzi photo. Say this much for Dan Dube...he appreciates timing. Approaching his latest driving milestone for a while, Dube coordinated it just right, stylishly winning Saturday night's opener of the Levy. His open-length romp with favored Western Fame ($4.40) not only served as the 9,000th win of his career, but threw down the Free-For-All series gauntlet as the fastest local mile (1:51.1) of the season. From post position four in the first division, Western Fame gave nothing else a shot through intervals of :27.1, :56.2 and 1:24.1. The two-length lead off the final turn became 5-3/4 lengths at the wire, helped by his fast feet and a scattering behind after a nasty break by Windsong Leo (George Brennan). Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett) avoided the happenstance to end up second, with Mach It So (Brent Holland), Lyons Steel (Mark MacDonald) and Don Domingo N (Matt Kakaley) settling for the remainder. For Western Fame, a 6-year-old son of Western Ideal co-owned by Go Fast Stable, B&I Stables, Stephen Klunowski and Gilbert Short and trained by Rene Allard, it was his first win in a pair of seasonal starts. Beware the Ides of March (Friday the 15th), provided you weren't mesmerized by the start of Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker. Five $40,000 groupings were consecutively contested, featuring the best pacing mares around. Defending series champ Shartin N (Tim Tetrick, $2.20), began her purse season by fooling very few. From post No. 2, she found herself away third before finding the front. From there (:27.4, :56, 1:24.3, 1:52.2), she was a puny pari-mutuel proposition. Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett) made the first lead, yielded and missed, beaten a half-length. Bettorb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton) closed for third, with Dudesalady (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Mach It A Par (George (Brennan) settling for the small change. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Tintin in America Kiwi lass, co-owned by Tetrick, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, she comes off a 19-for-24, million-dollar season. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards.   Here are the leaders following the opening weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1t. Jason Bartlett - 22; 1t. Scott Zeron - 22; 3. George Brennan - 21; 4t. Joe Bongiorno - 20; 4t. Tim Tetrick - 20. Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. - 20; 2. Ross Croghan - 15; 3t. Tony Alagna - 10; 3t. Rene Allard - 10; 3t. Jen Bongiorno - 10; 3t. Tahnee Camilleri - 10; 3t. Robert Cleary - 10; 3t. Dylan Davis - 10; 3t. Erv Miller - 10; 3t. Nifty Norman - 10; 3t. Nick Surick - 10. Owners: 1. Robert Cooper Stables - 12.5; 2t. Tahnee Camilleri - 10; 2t. J L Benson Stables - 10; 2t. Enzed Racing Stable - 10; 2t. Brad Grant - 10; 2t. Royal Wire Products - 10; 2t. D R Van Witzenburg - 10; 2t. Wish Me Luck Stable - 10. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy over the next three weekends. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 20.   Paul Ramlow Internet News Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Victorian Central Highlands harness racing trainer Tim O’Brien is aiming to make it two Cups in a week when he makes the long trek to the popular Ouyen fixture on Sunday. O’Brien, of Armstrong, near Ararat, has his stable star Perspective (Art Major USA-Vista Bella (Badlands Hanover USA) in the $14,500 Gregg’s Electrical Ouyen Pacing Cup. The pacer’s form has been terrific in recent weeks.  Leading up to his Boort Cup victory last weekend, he’d been placed in four of his previous six runs. “The Boort victory was pleasing because I reckon it was the first time he’s come from behind and got the money for me,” O’Brien said. “We’ve drawn on the inside of the back row at Ouyen so he’s obviously going to have to do it again and try and come home over the top of them.” The six-year-old is raced by Melbourne owner Kevin Murray, who will be hoping to make it back-to-back Ouyen Cup successes, after Perspective won last year, when driven by Mark Pitt. O’Brien said getting the opportunity to train the talented pacer was a “dream come true”. “I think he’s probably won close to $100,000 for us.  He’s been a little goldmine for the connections and kept us going along nicely,” he said. The lucky chance to add Perspective to his stable came through the fact that O’Brien’s father Mick had previously trained horses for Murray years ago. Perspective was purchased at a clearing sale held by Kevin and Colleen Bamford, who decided to turn their interests fully to the thoroughbreds. The couple conducts “Daisy Hill” stud at Doreen, and had the enjoyment of owning and racing 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain. “I think (well-known bloodstock agent) Mark Hoare was in charge of the sale, and he also may have had a bit to do with me getting the horse,” O’Brien said. “Perspective finished runner-up at our first start with him in early 2017 at Ararat and I was thinking he’d been a perfect horse for some nice races at Mt Gambier or up in the Mildura area,” he said. “But I admit I was a little bit off the mark because he’s proven to be a gutsy, genuine racehorse. “He’s got stronger as we’ve gone along, and he’s certainly got a reputation of being as tough as old boots when he’s out in front. He puts his head down and enjoys holding them off, that’s for sure.” And there’s no doubting Perspective has proved to be somewhat of a surprise packet as he’s gone on to land the “first prize” at tracks including Melton, Boort, Ouyen, Wedderburn, Bendigo, Ballarat, Mildura and Swan Hill. All up he has 15 wins and 18 placings for earnings of over $125,000. O’Brien said Perspective is one of the best horses he’s trained. “He’s definitely up there for sure, but Arber and Western Rockstar had a touch of brilliance about them – I think Western Rockstar is still racing successfully in the USA,” he said. “The Ouyen race has attracted some handy performers, but with an ounce of luck we shouldn’t be far away.” And two people who will be cheering for Perspective will certainly be O’Brien’s parents, Mick and Lorraine. “The horse has become a bit of a family pet because he lives in the front paddock at their place so they will be barracking fairly hard too,” O’Brien said. Click here for the field of The Ouyan Pacing Cup next Sunday. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

TOP class pacer Ultimate Art has run his last race. Connections of the Group 1 winner, who is affectionately known as Thomas, decided it was time to pull the plug on his harness racing career after his lust for racing had deteriorated. Trainer Michael Formosa was hoping for one last win with his stallion at Bathurst this Saturday night but the Ellalong mentor scratched the nine-year-old out of the Smooth Satin Cup. “I was hoping to go out with a win but in this grade he’s in it’s hard to find an easy race,” said Formosa. “He hasn’t really been interested in racing so I decided this morning (Wednesday) to not keep pushing him. “I never really imagined he would have over 100 starts . . . for a stallion to have that many starts and not go amiss is a massive effort.” Ultimate Art will bow out of racing with a record of 38 wins and 33 placings in 117 starts. The son of Modern Art began racing at the age of two and has retired from the racetrack at the age of nine. Ultimate Art gave a lot to the Formosa family including their first Group 1 victory when he won the Bathurst Gold Crown as a two-year-old in 2012. Wins in both the Breeders Challenge Final as a four-year-old and a heat of the Inter Dominion in 2015 were also highlights.  “Each of his wins meant something to us but that first Group 1 win was big for us,” said Formosa. “We didn’t really enjoy it as much as we should have at the time though . . . we were offered $120,000 for him before the race and we knocked it back. “We had a mortgage at the time and it put a lot of pressure on us. “In the end we made the right decision.” So much so, Ultimate Art went on to pocket $621,996 in stakes after being purchased for a mere sum.  “We bought him from the Australian Pacing Gold Sale for $7,000,” said Formosa. “It was the first year we went to the sales to by horses for ourselves, we were on a tight budget so we didn’t look at the expensive breeds like the Art Major’s. “We had $15,000 to spend and we saw him (Ultimate Art) and he was such a magnificent looking horse we thought he would go for more than our budget would allow. “When we got him for $7,000 we thought we’ve missed something with this horse, something must be wrong.” Ultimate Art will now spend his days in the paddock as a father. The son of Modern Art has already served eight mares with Formosa hopping to increase this in the next season.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

WILKES-BARRE PA - Under patient handling from Anthony Napolitano, the Bettor's Delight mare Betabcool N rallied off of a fast pace to win in 1:52.3 while taking the $14,000 featured harness racing pace for mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the mountain track starting its 2019 scheduling of 4 p.m. post time on Mondays and Tuesdays. Betabcool N was pinned in behind an early-moving flow as fractions of 27, 55.3, and 1:22.4 were posted, mostly by pacesetting Vorst. She retained the lead into the lane, but Always A Z Tam swung wide off cover midturn, with "ANap" and Betabcool N following that one wide. In deep stretch the New Zealand import proved to have the most late kick, winning by a neck over Always A Z Tam, who nosed out Vorst for second. Jose Godinez, who teamed with Anthony Nap for another come-from-behind victory with the trotter Crazycat earlier in the card, conditions the winner of $460,062 for the Blindswitch Racing Stable. Some younger horses looking to make their mark in the upcoming Weiss Series at Pocono showed themselves ready with Tuesday victories. The most impressive of the trotters was the Explosive Matter sophomore filly Spring In Paris, whose final time of 1:56.4 was not only a lifetime mark but a North American season's record. Spring In Paris brushed from first-over to take the lead on the far turn, then drew clear by four lengths for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Steve LeBlanc, and the ownership of Leblanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson The Muscle Massive gelding Teardown This Wall (named after what President Reagan advised Gorbachev to do about the Berlin Wall) posted his maiden victory and improved his Weiss outlook, rallying from the pocket for a half-length tally in 1:59 over pacesetting favorite Dawn Of Glory. Tyler Buter handled the Muscle Massive gelding out of the $540G+ stakes-winning mare Vernon Blue Chip for trainer Rob Harmon and the Harmon Stable Racing Stable. (Harmon also sent out the upward-bound trotter My Lindy Winner, who took a new mark of 1:55.1 to remain undefeated in two seasonal starts.) On the pace Turbo Hill, a four-year-old son of American Ideal, ran his lifetime record to 5-for-6 with a blistering front-end tally in 1:51.1 for trainer/driver Hunter Oakes and owner Tom Hill, certainly stamping himself as a big consideration in his Weiss division. A Weiss filly counterpart, the four-year-old Sportswriter mare Lady Ella, came into her Tuesday race not having won since her career debut, 636 days ago, but she looked strong in a 1:54 triumph for trainer Andrew Harris, giving driver George Napolitano Jr. his sixth sulky success on the twilight card.   PHHA / Pocono

LEBANON, OH - The Tuesday (March 19) matinee at Miami Valley Raceway featured both trotters and pacers in "Lebanon Legends" late closing series harness racing action. Three divisions of the first leg of the Dr. Dan Farwick Memorial trot for non-winners of six races or $60,000 went postward, as did a trio of first leg divisions of the Omar Hiteman Memorial featuring non-winners of two or $20,000 male pacers. The quickest mile in the $15,000 Farwick splits came in the first division when Vatanna (Elliott Deaton) narrowly topped Red Rose Swan (LeWayne Miller) in 1:55.3. Best of the rest was Showboat (Brett Miller). The five geldings in the seven horse field were no match for the winner and runnerup, who were the only mares in the contest. Anna Lorentzon owns Vatanna, a 5-year-old by Dejarmbro, who has now notched three wins in six tries in 2019. Air Assault (Dan Noble) captured the second Farwick split in 1:56.1, besting Sesame (Brett Miller) and Starlight AS (Elliott Deaton). The 4-year-old son of Yankee Glide races for the partnership of Charles Kline and trainer Mike Hollenback. The clocking equaled the lifetime best for the ultra-consistent Air Assault. Another pair of 4-year-old mares showed their heels to the field in the final Farwick division. Missprimetimemel (LeWayne Miller) took full advantage of an early miscue by heavily-favored The Lionking AS to wire the field in 1:56.2. Peggy Sue (Brady Galliers) was a close second with Mr Quaker (Brett Miller) the show finisher. The winning daughter of Pilgrims Chuckie, also trained by LeWayne Miller for owners Nathan Yoder and Stephen Stoll, surpassed the $50,000 earnings plateau with the win. Missprimetimemel was a mild upset winner in the first leg of the Dr. Dan Farwick Memorial trot series at Miami Valley on Tuesday. - Conrad photo Dealer's Table (Josh Sutton), a 3-year-old by American Ideal making just his second lifetime start, sped to a 1:52.3 score in the fastest $10,000 Hiteman Memorial division. Injured and unraced at two, the winner made his first money start a winning one in 1:54.4 last week and followed up with a dominating effort in his second. "He's the real deal," quipped Sutton as he hung up the lines after beating Smilenmyles (Dale Hiteman) and Parklane Knight (Tyler Smith). Trainer Jeff Cullipher co-owns Dealer's Table, a New York bred, with partner Pollack Racing LLC. The other two victors in the Hiteman heats scored identical 1:54. Triumphs. DL's Big Elvis (Brett Miller) headed Jack's Major (Trevor Smith) and Star Of Oz (Dan Noble) across the finish line. The 3-year-old son of Mister Big earned just $5000 as a freshman, but has already doubled that amount in his first four starts of 2019. Charlie Stewart is training the winner for Rod Harness and breeder Dave Scott. Doctor Jimmy (Cam McCown) remained undefeated by winning his division over Skyway Three Ball (Trace Tetrick) and Seattle Hanover (Chris Page). Brian Brown trains the winning son of Well Said for the partnership of Country Club Acres, Milton Leeman and Richard Lombardo. The 3-year-old colt is now four-for-four to start his promising career.   Gregg Keidel