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WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 19, 2019 -- Harness racing's Carolina Beach snapped his "bridesmaid" streak when he inherited the lead down the backside and made it stand up in Saturday's $18,000 Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Carolina Beach had five consecutive place finishes and appeared destined for another as he stalked the formidable Windsong Leo from the pocket. But when Windsong Leo made an uncharacteristic and potentially dangerous break past the half -- Dave Palone guided him safely to the back of the pack -- Carolina Beach seized the opportunity, holding off the Lightning Lane charge of K Ryan Bluechip by a head in 1:51.1 for Aaron Merriman. Improbably, Windsong Leo recovered to earn show. Bill Bercury trains Carolina Beach, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere-Laughandbehappy gelding who lifted his career bankroll to $297,843, for Renee Bercury. Tony Hall and Merriman each collected three wins on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the program features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the Pick 4 (races 3-6) and a $3,052.36 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 15, 2019 -- Touchamatic collected her 16th harness racing win this year when she barreled through the Lightning Lane and captured Tuesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Sea Shadows, seeking her sixth straight victory, looped the field from last and grabbed the lead near the three-eighths but tired in the stretch. That enabled Touchamatic and driver Aaron Merriman to shoot the Lightning Lane and score in 1:51.1, a head better than the rallying Camera Lady. Sandy Win finished third at 30-1. Bill Bercury trains Touchamatic, a 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch who soared over $400,000 in career earnings, for Renee Bercury. Merriman piloted five winners and Dave Palone three on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $1,951.06 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

DAYTON, OH. - Shards Halo N (Aaron Merriman) dominated the $16,000 Open Mares Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Friday night (Oct. 11), downing her harness racing rivals by an easing 4-1/2 lengths in 1:51.3 r a rain-soaked racing strip. Merriman allowed eventual third place finisher Gone Girl (Tyler Smith), entering the race off two consecutive scores at this level, to clear to the front but immediately retook command at the :27 first quarter station.   Without a challenge, the heavy 2-5 favorite enjoyed a :29 second quarter breather before speeding through the third panel in :26.4 as Up Front Flor Ida (Brett Miller) ranged up on the outside. Once that challengers effort was thwarted, Allbeastnobeauty (Dan Noble) rallied furiously through the stretch to secure second, but without causing an anxious moment for the winner.   Shards Halo is owned by Scott George in partnership with trainer Tyler George.   Earlier on the card, Town Temptress won the $13,000 top conditioned pace for females. It was the 23rd lifetime win for the 7-year-old daughter of Artiscape, who is five months in foal to Ohio stallion Mr Wiggles according to trainer Steve Bauder.   "We hope to reach $300,000 in earnings in her next start, then she'll be put away to a well deserved comfortable life on the farm." A reminder that Hollywood Dayton will present matinee cards on both Saturday and Sunday this week with 2:15 post times. From the Dayton Raceway Media Department

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 1, 2019 -- Touchamatic held off challengers inside and out to capture Tuesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. It was the 15th victory this season for Touchamatic, who was driven by Aaron Merriman for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. The 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch took the field through a swift 1:21.4 three-quarters but still had enough in the tank to turn back the outside brush of Camera Lady and the Lightning Lane charge of Suddenly Royal. She prevailed in 1:50.2, 1/2 length better than Camera Lady, while McDazzle rallied for show ahead of Suddenly Royal. Touchamatic now boasts career earnings of $388,572. Dave Palone and trainer Scott Betts each enjoyed a triple on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $3,698.94 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 30, 2019 -- The verdict is in: Dr Judge was much the best in Monday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $13,200 Conditioned Trot, as he triumphed in 1:53 and knocked 1.4 seconds from his lifetime mark. Aaron Merriman and Dr Judge served early notice that they would take no prisoners, blistering the first quarter in 26.3. Although the 6-year-old Dr McDreamy-Carolling gelding was geared down late, he had enough in the tank to hold off the rallying Dawson Springs by 1-1/4 lengths, with Delcrest Holiday third. Tyler Stillings trains Dr Judge for Rags To Riches Of PA. Mike Wilder fashioned a triple on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the card features a $2,583.53 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5, First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

Classic Gent paced home for his 50th career harness racing victory, winning the thirteenth race at Northfield Park on Wednesday (September 25). The 9-year-old veteran, with 231 career starts, also has 28 seconds and 34 third-place finishes. Classic Gent (Blissfull Hall-Northern Jade-Northern Luck) has career earnings of $477,629 with a lifetime mark of 1:51.2 at Woodbine Racetrack at age four. The gelding's richest win was also at Woodbine in a $36,360 stakes event in 2013. Classic Gent is a well-traveled campaigner -- his 50 wins have been spread across 10 different racing surfaces. Classic Gent started from the rail in the evening's $4,000 conditioned event. He virtually led the entire mile through fractions of :28.3, :58, 1:26 and 1:55, besting his closest competitor by 3-lengths. He was heavily favored in the race and returned $2.10 to win. Rick Howles of Lake Orion, Michigan owns Classic Gent. Trainer Ryan Angus called upon leading driver Aaron Merriman to pilot. by Ayres Ratliff, for Northfield Park

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 10, 2019 -- Continuing his harness racing comeback following a lengthy layoff, millionaire Il Sogno Dream overcame a demanding opening quarter and captured Tuesday's feature at The Meadows, a $12,700 Conditioned Trot. Although sidelined most of the first six months this year, Il Sogno Dream now has two wins and as many seconds in his last five outings. On Tuesday, he was three wide for much of the 27.2 opening panel before clearing to the lead for Aaron Merriman near the three-eighths. The 8-year-old son of Cantab Hall-La Reve held off the late charge of Gee Wizz George to down him by a length in 1:54, with Mac Deeno third. Chris Beaver trains Il Sogno Dream, who lifted his lifetime bankroll to $1,128,533, for Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. Tony Hall and Merriman each collected three wins on the 14-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $2,412.72 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

Custom Cantab (Aaron Merriman) captures the $40,000 fourth leg of the Miss Versatility at Tioga Downs on Friday (September 6). Emoticon Hanover (Aaron Byron) led the first quarter in :26.4. She continued to lead to the half in :56.3. Ice Attraction (Mike Merton) was the first to challenge as Emoticon Hanover led to three-quarters in 1:24.3. Custom Cantab ($4.00), who is owned by trainer Christopher Beaver, Donald Robinson, and RBH Ventures, was fourth after three-quarters. She would go four wide down the stretch to win in 1:53.0. Dream Together (Wally Hennessey) finished second with Emoticon Hanover settling for third. Custom Cantab is a 4-year-old mare by Mr Cantab. It was her third win this season. She now owns 18 career victories. Gigi From Fiji (Wally Hennessey) takes the $11,000 fillies & mares open 1. Gigi From Fiji ($8.30) went to the front and controlled all the fractions (:27.2, :55.3, 1:23.0, 1:52.0). She got challenged by second place finisher Truth And Liberty (Mike Simons). Gigi From Fiji, who is owned by trainer Mike Deters, L Barnett, and J Spindler, was not to be denied and held on for the win. Northern Dali (Fern Paquet Jr.) finished third best. Gigi From Fiji is a 5-year-old mare by Ponder. She won for the ninth time this year. She now has 18 career victories. Mike Merton drove five winners on the night. He won with Blurred Lines ($3.80), Choochoocharlie ($6.00), Roaring Rei ($6.50), Runhappy Ten ($9.00), and R M Blackhawk ($9.40) Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (September 7) with a 13 race card starting at 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com. by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

Juxta Cowgirl (Aaron Byron) captures the $12,000 featured fillies and mares open on Friday (August 2). Juxta Cowgirl ($21.40) went to the front and led to a first quarter of :26.1. Gigi From Fiji (Wally Hennessey) sat in the pocket and followed as Juxta Cowgirl led to the half in :55.3 and controlled the pace to three-quarters in 1:22.4. Juxta Cowgirl, who is trained by Mike Watson for owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC., and Glasser Racing LLC., led going to the stretch. Gigi From Fiji popped out of the pocket and came charging late but Juxta Cowgirl dug in and won in a seasonal best of 1:51.2. Gigi From Fiji settled for second. Gold Star Mysti (Corey Braden) finished third. Juxta Cowgirl is a 5-year-old mare by Relentless Yankee. It was her third win this season. She now has 34 career victories. Fern Paquet Jr. drove three winners on the night. He finished first with Gold Star Aurora ($3.80), Nothern Dali ($18.00), and Shutthefrontdoor ($10.80). Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (August 3) with a 10 race card starting at 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 2, 2019 -- The ancient Greeks considered Nemesis the goddess of retribution, and for trainer Bill Bercury, his horse Major Nemesis often seemed just that, racing himself into repeated trouble when it appeared his speed lay over the field. In recent weeks, however, the 5-year-old Big Bad John-Nassau Loop gelding ripped off an impressive winning streak at Northfield Park and is back at The Meadows to show off his new, mannerly look. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday following a week's post-Adios break, and Major Nemesis and Aaron Merriman have drawn post 4 in the $18,000 Open Handicap Pace, which goes as race 7. First post is 1:05 PM. Bercury purchased Major Nemesis for owner Renee Bercury toward the end of his sophomore campaign on the advice of one of the horse's drivers. Recalls Bill Bercury: "He said to me, 'This is the fastest horse I ever sat behind. If you get him, you'll figure him out.' I didn't think it would take me a year to figure him out, although he's more than paid for himself. He's a wonderful horse to work with. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body." Early on for the Bercurys, Major Nemesis proved fast but furious. Bercury implemented a makeover by treating the horse's feet and throwing away his equipment card. "We took off his shadow roll, his head pole, his Murphy blinds," Bercury reports. "We rigged him with expandable hopples that stretch three inches and give him much more support. Give Aaron credit for that -- it was his idea." The results have been palpable. His four straight victories at Northfield included a pair of sub-1:50 miles in which he was parked most of the way. In his return to The Meadows on Adios Day, he finished fourth off a similar demanding trip. A win Saturday would vault Major Nemesis over $200,000 in career earnings. One of the major impediments will be his stablemate, Carolina Beach, who'll leave from post 5 in the same race. Bercury is pointing Major Nemesis to a pair of stakes for Ohio eligibles later this year, and he's confident that the horse no longer is bent on retribution. ""I qualified him myself and found him to be not that difficult anymore," Bercury says. "I think he's growing up." On the wagering front, Saturday's card features a $6,563.80 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, June 11, 2019 -- Touchamatic, who saw her six-race winning streak snapped last week, took the first step to stringing together a new one when she exploded from the pocket lane to capture Tuesday's $18,000 harness racing Filly & Mare Open Pace at The Meadows. Touchamatic was content to stalk from the pocket for Aaron Merriman and let the front-ending Medusa do the heavy lifting. As they straightened out of the final turn, however, Merriman cut Touchamatic loose, and the 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch was by far the fresher mare. She scored in 1:51, 2 lengths better than Medusa, while Keystone Riptide rallied for show. Bill Bercury trains Touchamatic, who lifted her career bankroll to $296,662, for Renee Bercury. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and Merriman each piloted three winners on the 13-race program. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, first post 1:05 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Both of Northfield Park’s local pacing stars have accepted their harness racing invitations to Saturday’s $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie.   Dave Bianconi, the track’s Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, has assigned Bully Pulpit and Southwind Amazon 12-1 and 15-1 morning-line odds.  His customary assignments to them are outside posts in Northfield’s weekly Open Pace. “It is unusual to have two local horses in the Battle, but both of these appear to have the ability to compete on the big stage, explained Bianconi.  “This year’s race is totally wide open.  The local horses just add two more pieces to a very interesting puzzle.” Bully Pulpit is conditioned by Northfield Park leading trainer Brian Loney and owner Brad Schwartz of Chicago, a Cleveland native.  Saturday will mark the first time Loney will harness one of his trainees for a Grand Circuit event, but he feels good about his chances. “The way I see his (Bully Pulpit’s) competition is that I’m not in against them, they are in against me,” said Loney. Bully Pulpit goes to post off a three-race win streak in Northfield’s Open Pace, one of those wins being a 1:49.4 victory from post-8.  That 1:49.4 effort is the fastest clocking on any half-mile track in North America this year.  North America’s leading driver, Aaron Merriman, will guide the six-year-old from the two-hole. Southwind Amazon drew post-5 for trainer Paul Holzman.  The nine-year-old is trained at Sahbra Farms about 15 miles from Northfield, and was North America’s winningest horse in 2018 with 22 victories from 38 races, usually from an assigned outside post.  His regular pilot, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., will drive. “This is a quality field of horses and I wish a had a little better draw than the five-hole,” stated Holzman.  “My horse is very sharp right now and with some racing luck anything can happen.  If Southwind Amazon wins, I don’t know if I would be surprised, but I would sure be ecstatic.” The two local stars will face a stiff onslaught from invaders.  Rodeo Rock drew the rail and has been named the 3-1 slight morning-line favorite.  He was the runner-up in this year’s $664,000 Levy Final at Yonkers Raceway in April and enters this race off another runner-up finish in a $100,000 Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia.  The Robert Cleary trainee has four wins in nine races this year and seasonal earnings of $289,400.  Eric Goodell has been listed to drive.  Rodeo Rock has never raced at Northfield, but is owned locally by Royal Wire Products of North Royalton.    Indiana sired superstar Always A Prince enters this event with 20 victories in 26 lifetime starts.  The four-year-old won 19 of 22 races last year and has not missed the board so far in four starts this season.  He has been given a 7-2 morning line.  Always A Prince has a career bankroll of $515,855 and sports a 1:48.1 (HoP 7/8) lifetime mark, the fastest in this year’s field.  Trainer Tyler George brings Trace Tetrick to drive.     Ontario-based speedster Jimmy Freight drew post-7 and is the 4-1 third choice.  He was second in last year’s $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial in his only other race at Northfield.  Jimmy Freight has finished in the top three in 35 of 37 career races, taking a 1:48.3 (Wbsb 7/8) lifetime mark and earning $950,448.  Trainer Andrew Harris tabs Yonkers standout Jason Bartlett to drive.      The 2019 $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie field – Race 12 – 10:15PM approx. post time:   Post     Horse                          Driver                         Trainer                       Morning Line Odds 1          Rodeo Rock                Eric Goodell               Robert Cleary              3-1  2          Bully Pulpit                 Aaron Merriman          Brian Loney                12-1 3          The Wall                     Brett Miller                  Nick Surick                 9-2 4          Always A Prince         Trace Tetrick               Tyler George               7-2 5          Southwind Amazon    Ronnie Wrenn Jr         Paul Holzman             15-1 6          None Bettor A            Joe Bongiorno             Jennifer Bongiorno     6-1 7          Jimmy Freight             Jason Bartlett              Andrew Harris            4-1 8          Filibuster Hanover      Chris Page                   Ron Burke                   10-1   A $10,000 guaranteed Pick 4 has been added to the eleventh race.  The Battle feature will be the second leg of this wager, which offers a low 14% takeout rate.  Since its inception in 1986, the Battle of Lake Erie has drawn the sport’s best veteran pacers. Past Battle champions include racing greats Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Gallo Blue Chip, Maltese Artist and Foiled Again. In addition to superior racing action, Battle night will also offer guests a buffet in Lady Luck’s clubhouse dining room from 5:30 – 8:30 PM. The buffet is $19.95. Reservations are preferred and can be made by calling 330.467.4101. Guests who want to be down close to all the racing action can stop by the grandstand apron to visit Barrio, Pasta Tivo, Smash Time, Super Hero food trucks and Crooked Kettle Popcorn.  Live music by Unknown Reason will be part of the apron scene from 6 – 9 PM.  Battle night attendees can win cash, gift cards and more through prize drawings until 8 PM and play Pop-A-Shot from 8 – 9 PM.  First race post time is 6 PM.  Admission and parking are always FREE!   Ayers Ratliff

WASHINGTON, PA, May 30, 2019 -- Keystone Abbey has swept the first three legs of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series, but will she fare as well against tougher competition? She'll get her chance Saturday at The Meadows in the $70,000 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old harness racing filly trotters. The stake goes as race 6, with Keystone Abbey leaving from post 4 for Aaron Merriman. Chris Beaver trains the daughter of Cantab Hall-Miss Aultsville and owns with Donald Robinson, Martin Yoder and R.B.H. Ventures. First post is 1:05 PM. A daughter of Cantab Hall, Keystone Abbey sold for $15,000 at Lexington as a yearling and might have been expected to flash precocious speed. Her dam trotted in 1:59.2 in a 2013 Ontario Sires Stake Gold Series split, a Canadian record at the time for freshman fillies on a half-mile track. While Keystone Abbey wasn't exactly a disappointment at 2 -- she banked $54,625 -- she managed only a single win in 13 starts. "She always was good gaited and quick -- she was real natural," Beaver says. "She'd be in the race and then lose interest about halfway down the lane, then come on again at the wire. Maybe she was just green, but she didn't race to her potential. "She trained well at the start of this season, and it seems like she's turned a corner here recently. She's learned to race. In her last start, she never let them get close to her the whole mile. If her attitude has changed as it seems to have changed, I don't see why she wouldn't be able to be right there." Keystone Abbey may have her act together, but she'll have her work cut out for her Saturday, as the talented 10-horse field includes: - Nomo Volo, who's earned a win and a second in PA Sires Stakes this year but is stuck with post 9 for trainer/driver Jeff Gregory; -Fade Into You (post 2, Dave Palone) from the powerful Ron Burke stable, who has hit the board in three consecutive PASS divisions and finished second in the Weiss final at Pocono; - Altercation (post 1, Mike Wilder) and Meadowbranch Vicki (post 8, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.), a pair of improving fillies sent out by Jenny Melander. Beaver indicated Keystone Abbey will head next to the PA All-Stars at Pocono. "She is eligible to a couple better stakes later in the season," he says. "I'm just trying to keep her in the right class." Also featured on Saturday's card is the $20,000 Open Handicap Pace (race 8), which renews the "Battle of the Millionaires" -- Dapper Dude (post 4, Wrenn) and Dancin Yankee (post 7, Palone). The program also includes a $642.84 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, May 28, 2019 -- Touchamatic collected her sixth straight harness racing victory while Party At The Banks extended her winning streak to three in Tuesday's co-features at The Meadows. Touchamatic ripped off five straight at Northfield before putting her streak on the line in the $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace. The 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch released Medusa to the lead early, then blew by her in the lane and defeated her by 2-1/2 lengths in a swift 1:50.1. Magic Forces completed the ticket. Aaron Merriman piloted Touchamatic, who pushed her career bankroll to $282,662, for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Party At The Banks had a more demanding trip in the $20,000 Open Handicap Trot, parked every step from post 8. But she moved powerfully late for Dave Palone and drew off to down 42-1 long shot Tequila Talking by 3-3/4 lengths in 1:54.3, with Rising MVP third. The 5-year-old daughter of Break The Bank K-Beach Party As has been so dominant during her streak that her combined victory margin is 11 lengths. It was one of four wins for Palone on the 13-race card. Party At The Banks                             -Chris Gooden photo Ron Burke trains Party At The Banks, who now boasts lifetime earnings of 190,423, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, when the program features a pair of carryovers -- $2481.02 in the Pick 5 (races 2-6), $357.44 in the final-race Super Hi-5.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Leading Driver Aaron Merriman posted another big night at Northfield Park on Saturday (May 11) winning ten times on the 16-race program.   Merriman's monster night tied the Northfield harness racing record for the most wins on a single card. That record was set in 1999 by Walter Case Jr.   Aaron's triumphs were with The Lion Sleeps ($3.60) in race five, St Lads Maggie Mae ($3.60) in race six, Heythere Lisamarie ($2.10) in race seven, Designed To See ($8.60) in race eight, Nutmegs Yankee ($3.60) in race 10, It's Gest Me ($4.20) in race 11, Godiva Seelster ($7.00) in race 12, Red ($16.40) in race 13, Mayabelle ($3.40) in race 15 and Cookies Empire ($6.20) in race 16. Merriman was the leading driver in North America in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and is leading by more than 50 wins so far this year. Aaron has been driving since 1997 and has piloted 11,294 career wins and is approaching $75 million in purse earnings. Success over the Flying Turns is nothing new to Merriman. He has more wins than any other driver in Northfield Park's history.   Ayers Ratliff

Bully Pulpit captured the $16,000 harness racing Open Pace on Monday (May 6) in Northfield Park's 13th race. The 1:49.4 victory marks the first sub-1:50 race on a half-mile track this year. Brian Loney conditions the pacer for Bradley Schwartz of Chicago, IL. Aaron Merriman was in the bike for the winning drive. Bully Pulpit (Well Said-Cupcakesnwhipcream-Camluck) started from post eight. He was fifth through a brisk :26.2 opening quarter, then moved to second in the following panel and remained there through splits of :53.2 and 1:20.4. Merriman called upon Bully Pulpit in the stretch and he bested Southwind Amazon (Ronnie Wrenn Jr) by ½-length, stopping the timer at 1:49.4. Bully Pulpit and Southwind Amazon started the race tied at 1:50.1 for the fasted half-mile win this year. Monday's triumph increased Bully Pulpit's lifetime win tally to 19 and his earnings to $283,759. He returned $5.80 to win.   Jeffrey J. Zamaiko Ayers Ratliff

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