Believe This Bob

Believe This Bob leads Byron grand slam

Nichols, N.Y. -- Making his local harness racing debut after chasing top pacers in Delaware, Mary Ann Larrimore's Believe This Bob ($4.10) had no trouble keeping clear of his seven rivals in Sunday (May 24) evening's $14,000 Open Pace at Tioga Downs, holding sway for a 1:50.3 triumph.   The 7-year-old Beach Romeo gelding split fellow leavers Road Untraveled (Brandon Simpson) and Glass Prince (Rick Dane) to assume the pacesetting duties, clicking off a :26.2 first quarter and maintaining the lead through a :55 half mile. Believe This Bob in fact controlled the terms throughout, edging clear from the pocket-sitting Road Untraveled on the far turn. Upon encouragement from Aaron Byron through the stretch, Believe This Bob dug in to maintain a clear two-length margin over a late-rallying Glass Prince. Glass Prince, who was locked in on the backstretch by Prairie Jaguar (Jim Marohn, Jr.), had room to edge off the pegs at head-stretch, narrowly defeating Road Untraveled for second. Prairie Jaguar faded to fourth off his uncovered bid.   Joe Skowyra trains Believe This Bob, now a 27-time winner.   Byron kicked off a driving grand slam in the featured event, reeling off two more wins immediately aboard Oakmont ($4.30, 1:51.3) and NBA Pick ($8.10, 1:55.2) before capturing the finale with Philana Chalice ($40.00, 1:55.2). Corey Braden and Jim Marohn, Jr. both recorded driving doubles on the night, while Edgar "Sparky" Clarke notched a training double on the 10-race card.   Monday (May 25) afternoon's all-stakes card kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, with first-round Graduate action for 4-year-olds and New York Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old pacing fillies comprising the entirety of the 13-race card.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Bi Polar Rose

Sophomores star in fun filled holiday weekend

With some good sized crowds filling the apron for a festive Memorial Day weekend of fun-filled activities at Balmoral Park, a pair of harness racing Illinois conceived and foaled stake events for three-year-olds shared top billing on the racing oval.   Trotters grabbed the spotlight on Sunday, May 24th as a very evenly matched field of nine diagonally gaited fillies squared off in the $16,400 Violet Stake.   Continuing the fast start she's enjoyed in her second season Cynthia De Marlie and Jason Van Winkle's Bi Polar Rose shot right to the top and proceeded to make every call a winning one as she reported home with a four-length decision in a career best of 1:57.3 for Travis Seekman.   Gunned away from post six the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe carved out splits of 29.4, 59.2 & 1:28.4 while rolling along relatively unchallenged on the front end.   With plenty still in reserve, the Ronnie Roberts trained miss trotted home in 28.4 while drawing away from stretch challenges by Persuasive Look (Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) who wound up second and third respectively.   Hammered at the betting windows, Bi Polar Rose returned $4.60, $3.00 & $2.40 while running her career record to 6-3-3 in 15 starts with earnings of $93,457.   On Saturday, May 23rd a total of 12 state-bred colts and geldings met in a pair of $7,500 Cardinal Stake eliminations. The top five finishers in each division will return next Saturday night to battle in the $18,400 final.   In the first division the Dane May owned and trained Dinky Dune continued his second season improvement as he came charging through the passing lane to record a two-length triumph in 1:53.4 for driver Pat Curtin.   Given a perfect steer, the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Dream Hand settled in third early on but as the pace slowed Curtin zipped the bay gelding to the front leading the field through an opening quarter in 30.0.   The action continued to heat up through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:26.4 as a hard charging Dixie's Boy ( Casey Leonard) showed the way with Dinky Dune right on his back in second.   Through the lane Dixie's Boy managed to fend off the first over challenge of 6-5 favorite Lucpark (Mike Oosting) but a fit and fresh Dinky Dune was full of pace and ready to roll as he moved down to the passing lane. Sealing the deal with a wicked 26.4 final quarter Dinky Dune cruised right on by the pace setter to notch his second career win in eight starts. Lucpark came on again late to edge Dixie's Boy for the place and show spots. Rockin Cassinova & Mighty Hot Shot also earned spots in next week's final.   In the second elimination last year's division leader Earndawg showed that he's ready to defend his crown as he posted a very comfortable 1 ½ length victory in 1:54.1 with Todd Warren at the controls.   After easing away from the gate in third while stablemate King Of The Swamp (Ridge Warren) led the field through opening splits of 28.4 & 58.2, the Roger Welch trained gelding grabbed command of the proceedings as the field moved around the final bend.   After taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.4 the son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K gamely held off his rivals with an impressive 27.2 final quarter to notch his 10th win in 20 career starts for the partnership of Bo & Pat De Long and Ernest Miller. Frosty Dune (Casey Leonard) saved ground throughout then rallied nicely to finish second while King Of The Swamp held on for third. Also gaining spots in the final were C Note and Comecatchme.   The 50 Cent Pick 5 wager was not hit on Sunday, May 24th so there will be a carryover of $11,081.42 added to next Saturday's (May 30th) Pick 5. Because of the carryover BalmoralPark will guarantee a $25,000 pool for next Saturday's Pick 5. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 10 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com beginning on Thursday, May 28th.   Tom Kelley  

Slugfest - Racked up his fifth open win for the season at Saratoga on Sunday

Slugfest continues to shine

Slugfest (Conway Hall) made his return to the winner's circle at the harness racing meeting at Saratoga on Sunday afternoon. The track's top trotter, Slugfest is following up his award winning 2014 campaign with another big season. The Maureen Salino-trained trotter had been first or second in six straight Opens heading into Sunday afternoon's tilt but was coming off of a sound defeat as the 1-5 favorite in last week's $18,000 feature. Slugfest was up to the task on the beautiful Sunday afternoon at the Spa as the five year old went coast to coast in 1:56.4 to record his fifth Open win of the '15 season. Bentley Karan (Stephane Bouchard) closed for second while Increditable (Bruce Aldrich Jr) came on for third. Jay Randall piloted the even money favorite Slugfest to the Sunday score. It was one of two training wins on Sunday for Salino whose Ideal Delight (Billy Dobson) prevailed in 1:57.2. Live racing resumes on Thursday at Saratoga with a 4:00pm first post. Melissa Simser

Father Patrick

Father Patrick debuts with track record win

Chester, PA --- Harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter has seen his share of great trotters over the years and he thinks Father Patrick is among them. The 4-year-old Father Patrick, who was a division champion at ages 2 and 3, made his 4-year-old debut a winning one by capturing Sunday's $150,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters by two lengths over Bee A Magician in 1:52.1 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Lindy's Tru Grit finished third. Father Patrick's time equaled the track record for a 4-year-old male trotter. "If everything stays perfect I think he's going to be very dominant," said Takter, whose past stars include Horse of the Year Award winners Moni Maker and Malabar Man. "I really do. I've been around greatness, and I think he's going to be a horse people talk about for many, many years." Father Patrick has won 23 of 29 career races and earned $2.51 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group. Takter also visited the winner's circle following the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older male pacers, which was won by his Great Vintage by three-quarters of a length over Dancin Yankee in 1:50.2. Mach It So finished third. Radar Contact won the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers by a neck over Anndrovette, who won last year's race. Ooh Bad Shark was third. The Maxie Lee field featured a deep group of trotters, including 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician as well as division champions Classic Martine and Market Share, who won last year's edition of the event. Father Patrick and Bee A Magician were among four horses to go for the lead on the first turn and Father Patrick got to the front before the group neared the second turn. The opening quarter was :27.1, followed by a half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.2. Bee A Magician tried to launch a challenge coming off the final turn, but Father Patrick yielded no ground. "He did it so easy too," winning driver Yannick Gingras said. "The earplugs are still in; I never really called on him. I let him trot the last eighth (of a mile). "Bee A Magician got the right trip, but with those kinds of fractions maybe I got a little bit of a jump on her. But she's a great horse and I was definitely worried around the turn when Brian (Sears) pulled because I knew she would give me a run. But he just showed what kind of horse he is." A son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream, Father Patrick prepped for his seasonal debut by qualifying three times, with his final effort being a 1:52 victory at the Meadowlands on May 16. "Last week we wanted to get him a race but weren't able to, so I treated that (qualifier) as a race," Gingras said. "We went decent fractions and he stretched his legs out a little. I knew he was about as ready as he could be. He's not in peak, peak form yet, but he was good enough to win today." In addition to preparing for his racing campaign, Father Patrick has been doing stud duty. He made three trips to the breeding farm in the week leading up to the Maxie Lee. "It's individual," Takter said about whether breeding and racing could work for all horses. "I know horses that won't go at all; when you start breeding them they lose total interest in racing. In his case, it hasn't been negative. So far so good." Great Vintage also has done stud duty, but after he bred just a handful of mares this year Takter decided it was better to give him a chance again on the racetrack. Great Vintage had been "retired" after suffering a ligament injury last August. A 7-year-old son of American Ideal out of the mare Art's Vintage, Great Vintage is 2-for-2 this season. He has won 28 of 95 career races and earned $793,108. "He came back very happy," Takter said. "He got hurt in the fall last year, so I thought he was done. But he came back sounder and better. He was a really good 2-year-old, but he got hurt in the paddock when he was turned out so he didn't come back good as a 3-year-old. He had a bad injury on the knee. "He raced good (in the two years) after that. He's a good horse. He's a brother to ($2.1-million-earner) Vintage Master, so he's got a license to play. He's a tough horse." Takter trains Great Vintage for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk. In the Betsy Ross, Radar Contact went to the front in the opening quarter-mile and never looked back, holding off multiple Dan Patch Award-winner Anndrovette at the wire. A 7-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway out of the mare Topville Cyberwave, Radar Contact has won six of 16 races this year and finished worse than second only twice. For her career, she has 31 victories in 97 starts and $877,006 in purses. Radar Contact is trained by Noel Daley for owners Charles Stillings and Dean Ehrgott. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

Pompano Beach, FL...May 23, 2015...Johnny Grippa teamed up with harness racing driver Bruce Ranger to score a handy win measuring 2 1/2 lengths in Pompano Park's $8,500 "Winner's Over" handicap pace on Saturday night in 1:51.4. The seven year-old son of Cam's Card Shark led at every junction in the mile, clocking fractions of :27.2, :56.4 and 1:25.3 before exploding home in :26.1 to pin the defeat on stablemate Hillybilly, handled by Ben McNeil, with Northern Companion, with Tom Sells handling the lines, third. Shamderock and Who's Your Maddy picked up the final awards in the quintet. At the outset, Johnny Grippa was sent right to the front from his advantageous post five with Northern Companion, one slot in, also on the engine early and settling in the garden spot with Shamderock, Who's Your Maddy and Hillybilly completing the order through the early going and over to the half. On the backside, driver McNeil sent Hillybilly winging from the back of the pack and, with no interruptions, brushed up into second around the final turn. In the lane, Johnny Grippa was doing some serious brushing of his own, scorching the last panel to seal the deal. In a post race interview, driver Bruce Ranger, having just celebrated lifetime win number 8,888 just last Wednesday, smiled and said, "Well, that's the first of my 'next' 8,888." He continued, "This is just a hard hitting, solid performer. He loves to be in the thick of the action from the get-go and the five post here is the perfect spot to do so. He was sharp last week finishing second and he was sharp again tonight with the 'soft' fractions helping him the middle half of the mile." Trained by Stewart Nemiro for Mc Trade Enterprises, Johnny Grippa won for the fifth time this year in 18 starts, good for $40,600 so far in 2015. Lifetime, Johnny Grippa now owns 42 wins with career earnings of $194,170. As the 1 to 5 chalk on the tote-board, Johnny Grippa paid $2.40 to win. Also of interest on the Saturday night card was the winning debut of Bring On The Beach, a three year-old full brother to the great Somebeachsomewhere, Trained by Jim Mc Donald for the Mardon Stables, Paradox Farm and Dan MacIssac, Bring On The Beach scored for Wally Hennessey in 1:54.4, holding off the late surging pair of Marion and Motorcity Pawnstar in the process. Bring On The Beach was away cautiously in this, his first career outing before brushing from third around the opening turn and taking the lead right at the first marker in :29. He then proceeded through panels of :57.4 and 1:26 before holding on to score by three-parts-of-a-length on the strength of his :28.4 finale. Unraced at two--sans a Mohawk qualifier in which he made a miscue early--Bring On The Beach came into the action off of a 1:56.4 qualifying win three weeks ago. After the win, Hennessey said, "He's a nice colt, no doubt about that...but he's got about 40 lengths to make up to catch his brother...$3,000,000, too. He's got some talent. I hope he goes half as far as his brother!" As the 4 to 5 tote-board favorite, Bring On The Beach paid $3.80 to win to his many followers. Racing continues on Wednesday night with first post tabbed at 7:30 p.m. Correction: In our last report, it was erroniously stated that the handle for last Wednesday's program was a record $1,381,817. While the single race handle of $1,299,038 proved to be a record, the aforementioned total handle was not a record as $1,435,549 was wagered on Isle of Capri night in 2003 and $1,403,907 was the total handle on Isle of Capril night in 2000. by John Berry for Pompano Park

It doesn't seem to matter to Hannah Miller who she faces in harness racing amateur competitions, whether it's a field of NAADA drivers or a group of Billings participants, she often wins, usually convincingly, against all challengers, who by the way, are far and away male drivers. On Saturday afternoon at Freehold Raceway "Hot-Handed Hannah" reined Genius At Work to an easy four-length triumph over Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff's , No Recess, in a time of 2:01.1. Third place went to CSI What's My Name driven by David "Poppa" Glasser. And once again Ms. Miller was the only woman in the contest. Usually up behind horses from her boyfriend Nick Surick's barn on Saturday she got a mount behind a trotter trained by her aunt, Julie Miller. "I got a call from Aunt Julie (Miller) saying she had to go to Vernon Downs on Saturday and asked if I would I like to drive Genius At Work in the Billings. I said sure, I'll love to," Ms. Miller explained. Genius At Work was winless in seven starts and had drawn post position five. When the gate sprung Hannah found a spot along the pylons in fifth position as "Coach Paul" Minore and Wygant Prince led the eight-horse field by the quarter in :29.3. As the field headed to the halfway point Ms. Miller moved the Credit Winner gelding first-up and when they passed the second stanza the timer flashed 1:01.1. At this point Genius At Work was fourth on the limb some three lengths off the leader. Up the backside Hannah kept her charge going forward and they were just a long neck from the lead at the three quarters which was trotted in 1:32. "Going into the final turn I urged my horse at bit< Hannah said. He dug in and we opened up daylight on the rest of them and he trotted away to an easy win. I was surprised that he was that good today. He trotted the last quarter in :29 and piece. "Genius At Work is owned by Mr. (Jeff) Gural and I appreciate that he let me drive him." Although Genius At Work was winless this year still the betting crowd sent him away as the favorite in the race. Trained by Julie Miller, he paid $4.60 for win. Thus far this year Hannah Miller's stats show that she has 13 wins, six seconds and three thirds in 35 starts which equates to a lofty .495UDR. Last year she won six races and was on the board ten times in 12 outings. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

East Rutherford, NJ - Hurrikane Ali continued to impress with another effortless harness racing win in the $25,000 second leg of the New Jersey Sires Stakes at The Meadowlands on Saturday night.   The son of Rocknroll Hanover was away patiently for Yannick Gingras as the field passed the quarter in 26.4 but once the dust settled Gingras moved him to the front and the race was effectively over. Hurrikane Ali closed out the 1:50.1 mile with a 26.2 final quarter and sets up an interesting match up with Artspeak (who skipped the second leg) in next Saturday's $100,000 final. John McDermott, Jr is the trainer of the winner for owners Kuhen Racing, Jonathan Klee Racing, Dr Ken Rucker and Robert Pucila.   Gokudo Hanover was a length and a quarter in arrears for second with Edward Teach third.   The filly pacers also completed their preliminary leg obligations and Wicked Little Minx scored a mild 10-1 upset in a front stepping career best 1:51.1 effort for driver Tim Tetrick. Wicked Little Minx was left alone on the lead through friendly fractions while favored Stacia Hanover was mired in traffic and left with too much to do at the end despite her ferocious 26.2 final quarter rally.   Trainer Nancy Johansson was racing Wicked Little Minx, also by Rocknroll Hanover, for only the second time since she took over the duties for owner Courant AB of Sweden.   Information on next week's NJSS finals will be available on the SBOANJ website.   Meadowlands Media Relations Dept

 ANDERSON, Ind.-May 23, 2015 - Indiana's three-year-old pacing colts were in the spotlight at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, May 23 to square off in the opening round of Indiana Sires Stakes action and as predicted, the sophomore colts opened their harness racing series in impressive fashion. Freaky Feet Pete and Wiggle It Jiggleit, considered two of the top pacing colts for 2015, both delivered in their respective eliminations. Making his 2015 return to the races, Freaky Feet Pete picked up right where he left off as he found the winner's circle in his sophomore debut, winning in 1:50.3. Driven by Trace Tetrick, Freaky Feet Pete used a :27.2 final panel to coast home a winner by two lengths. Freaky Feet Pete settled well off the early pace, retreating to fifth while the rest of the field battled for early position through first half fractions of :27.1 and :55.4. Freaky Feet Pete began his quest to the front just past the half and reached the leader's wheel approaching the final turn. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:23.1, Freaky Feet Pete found his best strides late in the lane and cruised home to notch his first victory of the season. The 1:50.3 final time equals his career best. "I think his best attribute is that he's very versatile, on the front, off the pace, it doesn't really bother him," driver Trace Tetrick noted after the race. "Great horses do great things and that's what he is. He's come back great, he's fresh, he's ready to race, and he loves his job." Voted Indiana's two-year-old pacing colt of the year, Freaky Feet Pete has now won 10 of 11 career starts and earned $271,950 for owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer. The son of Rockin Image-Skyway Lori is trained by Larry Rheinheimer. In the very next division, Wiggle It Jiggleit, fresh off his world record setting performance, made his Hoosier Park debut a winning one to remain undefeated in nine starts. With regular pilot Montrell Teague in the sulky, Wiggle It Jiggleit made a powerful move down the backside and cruised to the wire seven lengths in front of his competition in 1:50.3. The world champion took off the speed early in the mile, but made a controlled move to the lead and cleared just before the half-mile mark through fractions of :27.1 and :55.3. Wiggle It Jiggleit led the field through the three-quarter split in 1:23.3 before beginning to put his talent on display. As the rest of the field struggled to stay within striking distance, Wiggle It Jiggleit was racing the clock. Finishing well within himself at the wire, the son of Mr. Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover coasted to the wire with his earplugs still in-tact. "I don't want to put him on the front every time, he's versatile and I think he can go any way," driver Montrell Teague noted in the winner's circle. "I could have taken him back to last and he probably would have done the same thing. Racing him off pace just teaches him that he has to calm down a little bit, and now, hopefully, we'll be ready for next week." "He's awesome, his attitude, his intelligence, he just does everything right," Teague continued. "It's a pleasure to be around a horse like him and to go those kind of miles every week. I didn't even pop the earplugs tonight." Wiggle It Jiggleit became the fastest-3-year-old pacing colt on a half mile track in history when he romped to a 1:49 victory at Harrington Raceway on May 11. He is conditioned by Clyde Francis and owned by George Teague Jr. With the victory, Wiggle It Jiggleit's career earnings surpassed the $100,000 mark. Trainer Jon Anderson teamed up with driver Rick Plano to double up in the other two divisions of the stakes action. The Anderson-Plano scored first with My Buddy Ninkster in the opening split and followed up with Rockin Ron scoring in the final division. After finishing second in his last two outings, My Buddy Ninkster rebounded to find the winner's circle when it counted in 1:51.1. Benefitting from a pocket trip, My Buddy Ninkster was able to overcome the tempo-setting Harfo Hanover and Tony Hall late in the lane. Sired by Dali, My Buddy Ninkster recorded the fourth victory of his sophomore campaign while establishing a new lifetime mark in the process. Owned by John and Mary Krasnican, the son of Dali-Sporty Ellie has now earned $46,553 lifetime. In the final division of the stakes action, Rockin Ron kept his winning streak alive as he recorded his 5th consecutive victory at Hoosier Park in 1:51.2. The Jon Anderson trainee dictated fractions of :27, :55.2 and 1:23.2 before powering home a winner. The son of Real Desire-Im All A Roan is now 5 for 5 this season and six for 15 in his career. Owned by Ronald Phillips, Louis Leinberger and Jesse Ferge, Rockin Ron has earned $58,300 lifetime. All four of the evening's elimination winners successfully earned a spot in the first of five $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final slated for May 30 at Hoosier Park. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. Emily Gaskin

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Napolitano brothers accounted for the sulky success in the $22,000 twin harness racing features Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Anthony taking the trot with Swishnflick in 1:54 and then George winning the pace with Scott Rocks in 1:50.1.   The Kadabra mare Swishnflick was sent right to the top in the trotting headliner, putting down fractions of 28.1, 57.4, and 1:26 for "Ant'ny Nap." There turned out to be only one stretch challenger for Swishnflick - the pocketsitter My Love Bi, driven by brother George - and the latter pair were closing outside the leader with every stride, but Swishnflick held together gamely to the wire to get the nose nod for win for trainer Gus Scarpias and owner Kenneth Westerside.   "Pocket rocket" tactics proved more profitable for "George Nap" and Scott Rocks in the pacing feature. The pair quarter-moved after a 26.4 opener; as soon as they made the top, Great Artist completed a huge move (26.1 individual second quarter) to go by before the half in 54, and keeping the lead through a 1:22.3 three quarters clocking. The right-hand linetug at headstretch worked better for "GNap" in this event, as he rallied Scott Rocks, an altered son of Rocknroll Hanover, to catch Great Artist by a neck for trainer Chris Oakes and owners Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey.   PHHA / Pocono

Vernon, N.Y. -- Sent off the prohibitive 2-5 favorite, Barn Doll ($2.90) sustained a push to the fore on the far turn, drawing clear for a 1:54 triumph in her $40,600 New York Sire Stakes event for harness racing 3-year-old trotting fillies on Saturday (May 23) evening at Vernon Downs.   The daughter of Conway Hall and Headintheclouds settled in midpack early on, as Magic City (Jeff Gregory) cleared the lead through a :28 initial quarter. On the backstretch, Jimmy Whittemore angled Barn Doll second-over behind the cover of Frou Frou (Jim Morrill, Jr.), but was ultimately left uncovered after a :57.2 half mile as Frou Frou cleared. Despite no longer having the aid of cover, Barn Doll continued progressing, pushing clear on the far turn and drawing clear of Frou Frou by 3-1/2 lengths in the end. Stirling Debutant (Rick Zeron) sustained a move on the far turn to take third, just missing Frou Frou in a late battle for second.   Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables.   Lock Down Lindy ($3.80, Rick Zeron, 1:54.3) and Concentration ($10.00, Chris Lems, 1:56.3) also proved victorious in their Sire Stakes divisions.   Vernon Downs is dark for racing on Sunday, but hosts a 13-race program on Memorial Day (Monday, May 25). Post time is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- Relegated to last in the early stages, the Harmon Racing Stable's Detroit Rapper ($23.40) circled four-wide to pass all six of his rivals in Saturday (May 23) evening's featured harness racing $14,000 Open Trot at Tioga Downs.   The 4-year-old Jailhouse Jesse gelding took no part in the pace-setting proceedings, situated well off alternating leaders Sweet Justice (Aaron Byron) and B L Class Act (John Cummings, Jr.) through a :56.4 half mile. As 2-5 favorite Zooming (Brandon Simpson) applied steady pressure on B L Class act into the far turn, Jim Meittinis angled Detroit Rapper three-wide to follow the live cover of My Muscleman (Mike Simons), fanning four-wide at the head of the stretch and showing immediate response. The Patti Harmon trainee kicked forward at once, gobbling up ground and drawing clear by a length in 1:55.1 to defeat B L Class Act and Zooming. Aruba Vacation (Tyler Freese), who was shuffled to last on the backstretch, rallied five-wide in the stretch to save fourth.   Dan Clements and John Cummings, Jr. both earned driving doubles on the eight-race card.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Sunday (May 24) evening, with the first of 10 races slated for 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Defending Horse of the Year Panocchio (No Pan Intended) scored his first local Open win of the harness racing season on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Jimmy Mattison-trained five year old was the Spa's standout last year and wound up earning the awards for top pacer and horse of the year. Following a fourth place finish in his return to Saratoga last week, Panocchio showed early speed when bet down to be the $18,000 Open's 3-5 public choice on Saturday night. Driver Gerry Mattison got a soft second quarter for the star pacer en route to a first half in 57.3. From there, Panocchio would not be denied, holding off challenges from Talking Blues (Jim Devaux) and Upfront Countryboy (Bruce Aldrich Jr) in the stretch to secure his third win of the '15 campaign after prevailing in Pompano's Open twice this spring. Panocchio moved his career earnings to over the $200,000 mark with the Saturday score which came in 1:54.3. Talking Blues completed the $13.80 exacta while the triple with Upfront Countryboy third came back $51.00 Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at the Spa with a matinee beginning at 12:45pm. Mike Sardella  

Triple Crown fever is striking everywhere, and anticipation is high for American Pharoah’s bid on Saturday, June 6th with the 14th Belmont Stakes.  With a big celebration planned for Belmont Stakes Saturday, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is excited to announce that jockey Victor Espinoza will be appearing for autographs and photos on Tuesday, June 2 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm on the Sky Bridge between the casino and the racetrack.  This is a wristband-only event, and fans may obtain their wristband starting at 1:00pm, with a very limited amount available.  Only the authorized photo, which will be distributed at the signing, will be autographed, and a professional photographer will be on hand for photos, which will then be posted on the Mohegan Sun Pocono Facebook page for sharing. Belmont Stakes Saturday will be a huge party, with live harness racing at 3:30pm until 5:00pm, and 12 additional races immediately following the 147th Belmont Stakes.  Food trucks; the “Belmont Breeze” in souvenir glasses; and plenty of bars with ice cold beverages will be on the apron for the fans to enjoy in anticipation of post time and history in the making.  American Pharoah merchandise will be for sale on the apron as well.  Victor Espinoza has won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes  three times, riding War Emblem in 2002; California Chrome in 2014; and American Pharoah this year.  As of this date, he is the first jockey in history to enter the Belmont Stakes with a third opportunity to win the Triple Crown. Jennifer Starr – The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Scarborough, Maine (May 23, 2015) - Making his very first state of Maine start on Saturday (5/23), Only The Lonely with harness racing driver Eddie Davis, Jr., just missed equaling one of the oldest Track Records on the Scarborough Downs books when they stopped the tele-timer in 1:54.1. The effort came within whiskers of matching Prince Ebony's standard for aged stallions set during the 1990 edition of The Presidents Pace, Scarborough's then marquee invitational, with driver Ron Pierce getting the entry home in 1:54 flat. The mile was the fastest recorded yet in 2015 at the Downs. Only The Lonely is the latest addition to the roster of Scarborough's 2014 Trainer of the Year, Bo Sowers and is owned by David MacDonald of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The five-year-old son of Western Ideal was insistently driven to an early lead through a contentious 28 second opening panel and maintained that front-seat advantage throughout, coasting to a 6-1/4 length margin at the wire, pretty much under wraps. We've got a feeling that Prince Ebony's ancient standard which has stood the test of time for nearly 25 years, may be in jeopardy soon with this new fleet stallion setting up shop at the Downs. Live harness racing is featured weekly at Scarborough Downs with the Friday and Saturday cards going to post at 4:00 p.m. (EDT) while the popular Sunday matinee gets underway at 1:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Western Alumni got a perfect pocket-sitting trip from harness racing driver Jim McNeight and notched a surprising $46.40 victory in 1:54.2 over a fast track in the $10,500 Open pace at Buffalo Raceway Saturday night (May 23).   With the field shortened to five due to the scratch of Jokerman, Western Alumni tried to take the top from outside. The heavily-favored and rail-riding Cobble Beach, however, was ready and willing to hand out some parking tickets.   Western Alumni was throttled down and managed to find a seat in the garden spot just before the quarter-pole as Cobble Beach (Kevin Cummings) was in charge of the fractions with times of 28.1, 57.0 and 1:26.0.   With a final panel to go, Western Alumni tipped from the outside and managed to wear down second place finisher Cobble Beach by a length in 1:54.2. Rockstar Temper (Drew Monti) took the show spot.   Owned by North Creek Racing LLC and trained by Jerry Nugent Jr., Western Alumni (Western Hanover-Countryview Miss) now has three victories in 2015. It moved the 7-year-old gelding's earnings to $24,226 this year and $233,714 lifetime.   In the $9,500 Open II pace, Lucky Nadotremblay ($4.10) found the front end to his liking as he went gate-to-wire in 1:54.3.   Scoring from the rail, Lucky Nadotremblay (Jack Flanigen) had no issues getting the lead and posted times of 28.3, 58.0 and 1:26.3. There were a line of pacers ready for the stretch drive but Lucky Nadotremblay had an extra gear and held back the remaining field of four at bay.   Unicorn Hanover (Shawn McDonough) managed to get up for the place spot with Peenie (Shawn Gray) in third.   Co-owned by Paul and Ronald Louis Viele, Lucky Nadotremblay (Blissfull Hall-Periella Hanover) has now four wins on the campaign and $31,194 in the bank. The 5-year-old horse also has made $93,583 in his career.   Racing resumes on Wednesday night at Buffalo Raceway with a 13-race card scheduled for 5 p.m.   The New York Sire Stakes makes its first appearance of the season on Wenesday with the 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers set to square off in three divisions worth $39,000 each. There will also be several Excelsior Series events on tap as well in both the 'A' and 'B' classifications.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

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Nichols, N.Y. -- Making his local harness racing debut after chasing top pacers in Delaware, Mary Ann Larrimore's Believe This Bob ($4.10) had no trouble keeping clear of his seven rivals in Sunday (May 24) evening's $14,000 Open Pace at Tioga Downs, holding sway for a 1:50.3 triumph.   The 7-year-old Beach Romeo gelding split fellow leavers Road Untraveled (Brandon Simpson) and Glass Prince (Rick Dane) to assume the pacesetting duties, clicking off a :26.2 first quarter and maintaining the lead through a :55 half mile. Believe This Bob in fact controlled the terms throughout, edging clear from the pocket-sitting Road Untraveled on the far turn. Upon encouragement from Aaron Byron through the stretch, Believe This Bob dug in to maintain a clear two-length margin over a late-rallying Glass Prince. Glass Prince, who was locked in on the backstretch by Prairie Jaguar (Jim Marohn, Jr.), had room to edge off the pegs at head-stretch, narrowly defeating Road Untraveled for second. Prairie Jaguar faded to fourth off his uncovered bid.   Joe Skowyra trains Believe This Bob, now a 27-time winner.   Byron kicked off a driving grand slam in the featured event, reeling off two more wins immediately aboard Oakmont ($4.30, 1:51.3) and NBA Pick ($8.10, 1:55.2) before capturing the finale with Philana Chalice ($40.00, 1:55.2). Corey Braden and Jim Marohn, Jr. both recorded driving doubles on the night, while Edgar "Sparky" Clarke notched a training double on the 10-race card.   Monday (May 25) afternoon's all-stakes card kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, with first-round Graduate action for 4-year-olds and New York Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old pacing fillies comprising the entirety of the 13-race card.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
With some good sized crowds filling the apron for a festive Memorial Day weekend of fun-filled activities at Balmoral Park, a pair of harness racing Illinois conceived and foaled stake events for three-year-olds shared top billing on the racing oval.   Trotters grabbed the spotlight on Sunday, May 24th as a very evenly matched field of nine diagonally gaited fillies squared off in the $16,400 Violet Stake.   Continuing the fast start she's enjoyed in her second season Cynthia De Marlie and Jason Van Winkle's Bi Polar Rose shot right to the top and proceeded to make every call a winning one as she reported home with a four-length decision in a career best of 1:57.3 for Travis Seekman.   Gunned away from post six the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe carved out splits of 29.4, 59.2 & 1:28.4 while rolling along relatively unchallenged on the front end.   With plenty still in reserve, the Ronnie Roberts trained miss trotted home in 28.4 while drawing away from stretch challenges by Persuasive Look (Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) who wound up second and third respectively.   Hammered at the betting windows, Bi Polar Rose returned $4.60, $3.00 & $2.40 while running her career record to 6-3-3 in 15 starts with earnings of $93,457.   On Saturday, May 23rd a total of 12 state-bred colts and geldings met in a pair of $7,500 Cardinal Stake eliminations. The top five finishers in each division will return next Saturday night to battle in the $18,400 final.   In the first division the Dane May owned and trained Dinky Dune continued his second season improvement as he came charging through the passing lane to record a two-length triumph in 1:53.4 for driver Pat Curtin.   Given a perfect steer, the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Dream Hand settled in third early on but as the pace slowed Curtin zipped the bay gelding to the front leading the field through an opening quarter in 30.0.   The action continued to heat up through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:26.4 as a hard charging Dixie's Boy ( Casey Leonard) showed the way with Dinky Dune right on his back in second.   Through the lane Dixie's Boy managed to fend off the first over challenge of 6-5 favorite Lucpark (Mike Oosting) but a fit and fresh Dinky Dune was full of pace and ready to roll as he moved down to the passing lane. Sealing the deal with a wicked 26.4 final quarter Dinky Dune cruised right on by the pace setter to notch his second career win in eight starts. Lucpark came on again late to edge Dixie's Boy for the place and show spots. Rockin Cassinova & Mighty Hot Shot also earned spots in next week's final.   In the second elimination last year's division leader Earndawg showed that he's ready to defend his crown as he posted a very comfortable 1 ½ length victory in 1:54.1 with Todd Warren at the controls.   After easing away from the gate in third while stablemate King Of The Swamp (Ridge Warren) led the field through opening splits of 28.4 & 58.2, the Roger Welch trained gelding grabbed command of the proceedings as the field moved around the final bend.   After taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.4 the son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K gamely held off his rivals with an impressive 27.2 final quarter to notch his 10th win in 20 career starts for the partnership of Bo & Pat De Long and Ernest Miller. Frosty Dune (Casey Leonard) saved ground throughout then rallied nicely to finish second while King Of The Swamp held on for third. Also gaining spots in the final were C Note and Comecatchme.   The 50 Cent Pick 5 wager was not hit on Sunday, May 24th so there will be a carryover of $11,081.42 added to next Saturday's (May 30th) Pick 5. Because of the carryover BalmoralPark will guarantee a $25,000 pool for next Saturday's Pick 5. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 10 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com beginning on Thursday, May 28th.   Tom Kelley  
Slugfest (Conway Hall) made his return to the winner's circle at the harness racing meeting at Saratoga on Sunday afternoon. The track's top trotter, Slugfest is following up his award winning 2014 campaign with another big season. The Maureen Salino-trained trotter had been first or second in six straight Opens heading into Sunday afternoon's tilt but was coming off of a sound defeat as the 1-5 favorite in last week's $18,000 feature. Slugfest was up to the task on the beautiful Sunday afternoon at the Spa as the five year old went coast to coast in 1:56.4 to record his fifth Open win of the '15 season. Bentley Karan (Stephane Bouchard) closed for second while Increditable (Bruce Aldrich Jr) came on for third. Jay Randall piloted the even money favorite Slugfest to the Sunday score. It was one of two training wins on Sunday for Salino whose Ideal Delight (Billy Dobson) prevailed in 1:57.2. Live racing resumes on Thursday at Saratoga with a 4:00pm first post. Melissa Simser
Chester, PA --- Harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter has seen his share of great trotters over the years and he thinks Father Patrick is among them. The 4-year-old Father Patrick, who was a division champion at ages 2 and 3, made his 4-year-old debut a winning one by capturing Sunday's $150,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters by two lengths over Bee A Magician in 1:52.1 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Lindy's Tru Grit finished third. Father Patrick's time equaled the track record for a 4-year-old male trotter. "If everything stays perfect I think he's going to be very dominant," said Takter, whose past stars include Horse of the Year Award winners Moni Maker and Malabar Man. "I really do. I've been around greatness, and I think he's going to be a horse people talk about for many, many years." Father Patrick has won 23 of 29 career races and earned $2.51 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group. Takter also visited the winner's circle following the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older male pacers, which was won by his Great Vintage by three-quarters of a length over Dancin Yankee in 1:50.2. Mach It So finished third. Radar Contact won the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers by a neck over Anndrovette, who won last year's race. Ooh Bad Shark was third. The Maxie Lee field featured a deep group of trotters, including 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician as well as division champions Classic Martine and Market Share, who won last year's edition of the event. Father Patrick and Bee A Magician were among four horses to go for the lead on the first turn and Father Patrick got to the front before the group neared the second turn. The opening quarter was :27.1, followed by a half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.2. Bee A Magician tried to launch a challenge coming off the final turn, but Father Patrick yielded no ground. "He did it so easy too," winning driver Yannick Gingras said. "The earplugs are still in; I never really called on him. I let him trot the last eighth (of a mile). "Bee A Magician got the right trip, but with those kinds of fractions maybe I got a little bit of a jump on her. But she's a great horse and I was definitely worried around the turn when Brian (Sears) pulled because I knew she would give me a run. But he just showed what kind of horse he is." A son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream, Father Patrick prepped for his seasonal debut by qualifying three times, with his final effort being a 1:52 victory at the Meadowlands on May 16. "Last week we wanted to get him a race but weren't able to, so I treated that (qualifier) as a race," Gingras said. "We went decent fractions and he stretched his legs out a little. I knew he was about as ready as he could be. He's not in peak, peak form yet, but he was good enough to win today." In addition to preparing for his racing campaign, Father Patrick has been doing stud duty. He made three trips to the breeding farm in the week leading up to the Maxie Lee. "It's individual," Takter said about whether breeding and racing could work for all horses. "I know horses that won't go at all; when you start breeding them they lose total interest in racing. In his case, it hasn't been negative. So far so good." Great Vintage also has done stud duty, but after he bred just a handful of mares this year Takter decided it was better to give him a chance again on the racetrack. Great Vintage had been "retired" after suffering a ligament injury last August. A 7-year-old son of American Ideal out of the mare Art's Vintage, Great Vintage is 2-for-2 this season. He has won 28 of 95 career races and earned $793,108. "He came back very happy," Takter said. "He got hurt in the fall last year, so I thought he was done. But he came back sounder and better. He was a really good 2-year-old, but he got hurt in the paddock when he was turned out so he didn't come back good as a 3-year-old. He had a bad injury on the knee. "He raced good (in the two years) after that. He's a good horse. He's a brother to ($2.1-million-earner) Vintage Master, so he's got a license to play. He's a tough horse." Takter trains Great Vintage for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk. In the Betsy Ross, Radar Contact went to the front in the opening quarter-mile and never looked back, holding off multiple Dan Patch Award-winner Anndrovette at the wire. A 7-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway out of the mare Topville Cyberwave, Radar Contact has won six of 16 races this year and finished worse than second only twice. For her career, she has 31 victories in 97 starts and $877,006 in purses. Radar Contact is trained by Noel Daley for owners Charles Stillings and Dean Ehrgott. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA
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