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Columbus, MN - One of the featured harness racing events on the Tuesday afternoon program at Running Aces was the $10,000 Mares Open Pace, with a talented field of eight distaffers going into battle.   The talk of the tote-board (6-5) was Amasa Arion (Rick Magee) who drew post seven and was up in class after a decisive win in conditioned company last out. Last Flight In (Chris Scicluna) was well supported at the windows (2-1) from post eight and Always Be Lucy (Nick Roland) took some action as well and was sent off at 7-2 from post four.   Amasa Arion blasted fastest from the gate and took immediate control while registering a very fast early pace in :26.4 with Always Be Lucy leaving fast and easing into the pocket in front of Pull The Shade (Brady Jenson) and Last Flight In.   Rick Magee slowed things down just a bit in the next panel to turn in a half mile in :55 seconds while keeping the field lined up behind his mare. There were no challengers for Amasa Arion as they rounded for home and stopped the timer in 1:23 with a 2 length cushion, but as they turned into the lane Always Be Lucy was inching closer in the pocket.   In deep stretch it was Always Be Lucy ($9.40) pacing strongest to the wire, just enough so to get up right on the line by a neck over Amasa Arion in 1:52., establishing a new lifetime mark. Last Flight In was home third over Pull The Shade who took fourth. The winner is a five years old daughter of Always A Virgin, owned by Karma Racing Inc. and trained by Don Harmon. Tuesday's victory was career win number fourteen and boosted her earnings to $97,486.   The $10,000 Open Handicap Pace for horses and geldings was also a featured event on Tuesday, and saw heavy-favorite and part of an entry (with Hoo Nien A) Keep On Rocking A (Pat Berry, $2.40) score for the second straight week in the top pace, leading every step and fighting gamely through the lane to keep a neck in front of Heza Real Diamond (Nick Roland) at the wire in a sharp 1:51.2 mile. It was the fifth win from 8 starts in 2020 for Keep On Rocking A, who is owned and trained by Chris Scicluna and now has career earnings of $248,742.   Other impressive winners on Tuesday included last year's three year old Minnesota-Sired pacing colt of the year SB Bodacious (Rick Magee, $8.20) who powered to the front early and never looked back to score a one-length tally in 1:52.4, while perennial top Minnesota aged pacer Stuckey Dote (Rick Magee, $2.80) picked up his first Aces win of 2020 in 1:52.4 as well. Haulin'Oats (Nick Roland, $3.60) became the first horse to win three races this year at Running Aces - with his third consecutive dominating performance, stopping the timer today in 1:55.1.   Rick Magee led all drivers at Running Aces on Tuesday, with 3 wins, while Nick Roland scored a double. On the training side both Rick Bertrand and Don Harmon had two winners on the day.   Live Racing returns to Running Aces with a special Friday card on July 3 at 1:00 pm (CDT). There is no live racing on Saturday July 4. Friday's program will feature a carryover in the 20 cent Pick-5 Jackpot Wager of $3,509.87.   By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces

A pair of harness racing Opens headline the Saturday night action at Cal Expo, with Pridecrest leaving from the assigned No. 10 slot in the $7,000 Open Trot and Alwaysalittlemore doing her work from the same challenging post in the $6,700 Distaff Open. Watch and Wager LLC will present 11 races with a first post of 6:10 p.m., with the Filly and Mare Open as the second race and the Open Trot occupying the third-race spot on the evening. Alwaysalittlemore has posed for pictures following four of her last six trips to the post and is now being asked to keep the momentum going while leaving from the extreme outside post in the Distaff Open. A 6-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin, Alwaysalittle more carries the banner of Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith, hails from the Edward Hernandez shedrow and will once again have the services of Luke Plano. The bay miss has actually crossed the finish line first in five of her last six starts, but was set back to second by the stewards on February 29 after racing inside two pylons. Alwaysalittlemore rebounded last week with a victory as the 7-5 choice, opening a large lead turning for home and then holding safe by a head over a hard-charging Bertha Vanation that evening. The latter is a Voracious Hanover mare who is coming off back-to-back big efforts for owner Cathy Dessert and driver/trainer Nick Roland. Bertha Vanation flew home to handle a conditioned crew two weeks ago, then came home smartly once again in last week's Open to just fall short. Low takeout wagers, Single 6 featured There are two wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate in the 20-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. In addition, the Pick 4 comes with a $40,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guarantee on Fridays. There was a Single 6 carryover of nearly $24,000 going into Friday's program, so if that went unhit, it would be a worthwhile stab on Saturday at only 10 cents a ticket for the shot at a nice prize. To show the value in the lower takeout, last Saturday night's 20-cent Pick 4 returned $1,008 for each correct 20-cent ticket. Using the regular takeout rate, it would have paid $907, a difference of $101 for each winning prognostication. The only favorite in the aforementioned sequence was the victory by Blue Star Maverick at 7-5 odds. The Lorne Duffield-owned, Steve Wiseman-trained and Luke Plano-driven son of As Promised obviously enjoyed the class relief as he responded with a clear-cut score in coast-to-coast fashion. Things got off to an auspicious start in that Pick 4 when the Gerry Longo owned/trained/driven Key Word posted a $30 upset, with Free Radical ($9) rounding out the sequence. By the way, the victory behind Blue Star Maverick was the fourth on Saturday's card for Plano, who had a triple on Friday and padded his lead in the driver standings. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

A $6,700 filly and mare Open Pace and a pair of $7,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-olds get the marquee treatment Friday evening at Cal Expo. Watch and Wager LLC will present 11 races and first post is 6:10. The Sire Stakes are the first and fifth events on the evening, while the Distaff Open occupies the sixth-race slot. Alwaysalittlemore will look to get back to the winner's circle after being disqualified from victory last weekend for going inside the pylons in the stretch in that clash at the top for the female pacers. A 6-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin, she carries the banner of Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith with Edwin Hernandez training and Luke Plano at the helm. Alwaysalittlemore has posed for pictures following three of her seven starts this season, including a 1:52 3/5 lifetime best performance, and two of those scores have come at this Open level. Looking at the Sire Stakes, Its Pointless is a standout in the male division after dominating his rivals in coast-to-coast fashion in the initial stakes dance two weeks ago. The Mark Anderson homebred is by Kent's On Nuke, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will once again be piloted by James Kennedy. Prom Queen accounted for the first distaff Sire Stakes two weeks ago, upsetting favored Debit Or Credit that night. Prom Queen is a daughter of Little Steven who was bred by Robin Clements and Desomer Stables Inc., is owned by Clements and has Nick Roland on a return assignment. Its Pointless leaves little doubt Its Pointless got right to the point in the first California Sire Stakes of the year for the sophomore pacing males, motoring directly to the front for James Kennedy and reporting home with five and three-quarter lengths to spare in a snappy 1:57 4/5 debut. A Mark Anderson homebred who hails from the Gordie Graham barn, Its Pointless had showed some promise in his two qualifiers and this was not lost on the crowd, who bet him down to 1-5 in what proved to be an overlay. The son of Kent's On Nuke was on cruise control from the very beginning, never having less than a two and half-length lead once the gate rolled and widened when the field hit the stretch. "For this being his first start, he was very professional," Kennedy related. "He's pretty smart and I was very impressed with his effort." Its Pointless is back to work Friday night in hopes of landing another Sire Stakes trophy on the mantle for the Anderson/Graham combination. There is a carryover of $19,269 in 10-cent Single 6 Friday night, with the sequence beginning on the fifth race. There are also two wagers offered here with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, the 20-cent Pick 5 and 20-cent Pick 4, and the Pick 4 comes with a $40,000 guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and $30,000 on Fridays. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness        

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Two harness racing horses who had been in very sharp form during the preliminaries in their respective Game Of Claims series - Charger Blue Chip and Always B Magic - continued their winning ways right to the throne as the winner of their Championships, with the former taking his $20,000 event for $10,000 base-priced horses and the latter victorious for the $15,000 bounty offered for $7,500-based priced pacers at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs. Considering he had two wins and a third in his only three seasonal starts, all in the GOC Series, the Rocknroll Hanover gelding Charger Blue Chip was overlooked by the bettors at 9-1, probably because of his difficult outside post nine. But driver Jim Marohn Jr. hustled the quick veteran to command, yielded but was on the retake before the second turn, and from there kept favored Grandpa Don at bay by an easy 2¼ lengths in 1:54.1. Claimed for $10,000 in the first leg of the series, Charger Blue Chip has already earned $16,200 in just three starts for trainer Marc Mosher and owners Edward and James Hall Jr. Trainer Susan and co-owner John Marshall may have been denied a Game Of Claims sweep on Sunday with Grandpa Don's second, but earlier they had kept driver Marohn from that same double victory, as their Always A Virgin gelding Always B Magic was always off the pylons throughout the GOC finale, but still dug in to hold off Naked City (Marohn) by a nose in 1:55 for driver George Napolitano Jr. The timing was good for the connections and the horse. The Marshalls claimed Always B Magic for $9000 out of the second leg, and with two wins and a finals place assured, they kept him out of the third prelim so he wouldn't get claimed - and the week off did nothing to take off his edge. As for Always B Magic, before the Game Of Claims he had amassed a 60-race losing streak, back to June 18, 2018; he then went three-for-three in the series, all the series wins for Napolitano. (Who drove him on June 18, 2018? George Nap, of course!) Driver Matt Kakaley visited Victory Lane five times on Sunday, three times with a Ron Burke trainee, including the Yankee Glide gelding Max in a $17,500 fast-class trot. Leaving from post six, Max got the entire field in behind him before the quarter, then put in twin :28.2 back splits to win handily in 1:54.3 for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Frank Baldachino. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

Alwaysalittlemore, a dominating front-end victress the last time the top harness racing pacing fillies and mares got together, gets the marquee treatment in Saturday evening's $6,700 main event at Cal Expo Harness. The Filly and Mare Open will go as the third on an 11-race Watch and Wager LLC card that gets underway at 6:10 p.m. Alwaysalittlemore is a 6-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin who carries the banner of Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith with Edward Hernandez training and Luke Plano once again at the helm. The hard-knocking bay miss closed out 2019 with romping conditioned victory and has ended up in the charmed enclosure following three of her six trips to the post this season. She recently went over the $100,000 earnings mark and set her 1:52 3/5 standard here on January 18. Her most recent appearance came two weeks ago in the Distaff Open and she made 3-1 look like a gift as she made every pole a winning one with Plano while coming to the wire with four and a half lengths on her nearest rival. Taking her on are Royal Mistress, Dancingonthesand, Delightfully Wild, Virgin Eyes and Surprisingly Sweet. James Marshall IV charting his course James Marshall IV is another new face in the driver's room here this season, with the highlight thus far being his Open victories behind the Jenna Cornelison-trained Bright Your Life. "I got the opportunity to drive for Jenna and I wanted to see California," said the 34-year-old New Jersey native. Even though James came to the sport full time at a bit older age that many, he certainly has a harness racing pedigree as his mother and father are heavily involved as were his paternal grandparents. "I've driven over different-sized tracks, but I would have to see I prefer the mile ones like Cal Expo because those are the tracks I've raced over the most," he noted. "Having said that, just give me an inside post and I'm happy to be driving over any size." The biggest change for James has been driving mostly pacers, where he previously did a lot of his steering behind the trotting set, including several Billings competitions. The 7-year-old pacing mare Brighten Your Life has certainly been the highlight to this point in the stand, including a coast-to-coast victory on January 10 over the best disaffers on the grounds. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                            

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 22, 2020--The next time Melady's Monet (George Brennan, $3.90) throws in a bad race would probably be the first time Melady's Monet throws in a bad race. It was harness racing career win No 63 (in start No. 207) for 'Melady' Saturday night (Feb. 22nd), taking down Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Preferred Handicap Trot. Melady's Monet--the odds-on favorite from assigned post position No. 7--left around both Lean Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Dube). Once on the point, Melady's Monet finished what he started (:27.2, :57.3, 1:26, season's-best 1:54.3). Pappy Go Go (Jason Bartlett) tried it first-up from last among those trotting, but tired. Meanwhile, Melady's Monet owned a pair of lengths in and out of the final turn, then whipped Lean Hanover by a length. Third went to Mostinterestingman (Austin Siegelman), with Smalltownthrowdown and Money Maven (Brent Holland) rounding out the payees.   For Melady's Monet, an 11-year-old homebred Revenue S gelding owned by Melady Enterprises and trained by Hermann Heitmann, it was his second win in seven seasonal starts (career earnings in excess of $1.63 million). The exacta paid $17.80, with the triple returning $101.50. Saturday night's $40,000 Open Handicap Pace saw outsider Tookadiveoffdipper (Jordan Stratton, $37.80) beat both the gate and his half-dozen rivals. From post No. 6, Tookadiveoffdipper left to immediate command, well before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. Season-debuting Mac's Jackpot (Holland), as the 19-10 second choice, was able to get into a chasmic pocket. It was an antsy two-hole that 'Mac' tried to vacate between a :56.2 intermission and 1:24 three-quarters. However, Tookadiveoffdipper stood his ground, taking a length-and-a-three-quarter lead into the lane. He held Mac's Jackpot at bay, the final margin a half-length in a '20-best 1:52.2. San Domino A (Dube), the 17-10 choice was a belated third, with Jack's Legend N (Bartlett) and Rockapelo (Brennan) settling for the smaller envelopes.   For sixth choice Tookadiveoffdipper, a 6-year-old Always a Virgin gelding co-owned by Jane &Mark Cross and trained by Virgil Morgan Jr., it was his third win in six '20 tries. The exacta paid $92, the triple returned $433 and the superfecta paid $850. Saturday props as well to 12-year-old, $1.4 million number Great Vintage (Holland $8.30), who earned his 53rd career win in the $22,000, fourth-race pace (1:53.1). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

As the Indiana harness racing industry embarks on a new decade, the Indiana Standardbred industry paused to take a look back at the year that was 2019. A night of champions was celebrated as Hoosier horsemen honored the top Indiana-sired harness racing horses in Indianapolis during the Indiana Standardbred Association's annual banquet held in January. Every year, the Indiana Standardbred Association (ISA) recognizes the year's top pacer, trotter, aged pacer and aged trotter, determined by total earnings in Indiana throughout the year. Two-year-old pacer Odds On Osiris took home the Pacer of the Year award after amassing earnings of $343,895 at Harrah's Hoosier Park. The colt's record included seven wins in 10 starts, including the Indiana Sire Stake Super Final and the Fox Stake. Bred by Merlie Schwartz, the Rockin Image colt is owned by Odds On Racing, trained by Melanie Wrenn and was driven by Peter Wrenn. The Odds On Racing crew also took home the Indiana-Sired Two Year Old Colt Pace Championship for the horse. Glorious Nite was named the Aged Pacer of the Year after earning $74,397 at Harrah's Hoosier Park in 2019 in 20 starts and nine wins. The 4-year-old Always A Virgin mare was bred and owned by Phyllis Grozich and Paula Kind and trained by Charles Morgan. Grand Swan earned the Indiana Sire Stakes Three Year Old Filly Trot Divisional Championship, the Indiana-Sired Three Year Old Filly Trot Championship and the Trotter of the Year title after earning $411,232 in 2019 at Harrah's Hoosier Park. The Swan For All filly had 15 starts with ten wins during the year for trainer/driver LeWayne Miller. Bred by Larry Miller, the filly is owned in partnership with Grand Swan Racing, Go Fast Stable and Never 2 Late Stable. The Jailhouse Jesse gelding Bridge To Jesse's repeated as the Indiana Sire Stakes Super Finals and Divisional Champion in the Aged Stallion/Gelding Trot, which netted him the Aged Trotter of the Year Award. After a season where Bridge To Jesse's had seven wins in 22 starts, he earned $131,650 for owners William C. DeLong, William P. DeLong, Roger Welch and Ray DeLong. He was bred by Michael and Randy Wilt and trained by Roger Welch. Divisional Champions for the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit were announced for the horses who earned the most points up until the Indiana State Fair in August. The Indiana Sired Fair Circuit is the racing circuit for Indiana-sired and -bred two and three year olds throughout the summer. During that time, a total of $1,628,250 was awarded in purse money, including eight $20,000 championship races during the Indiana State Fair. The emotional portion of the banquet was the honoring of the four new inductees into the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame. Harold Barnes and Lynn Wilfong were the human inductees. A pair of Breeders Crown Champions, Freaky Feet Pete and Hannelore Hanover, were also inducted into the Hall of Fame. Inductee and fan favorite Freaky Feet Pete, 2015 Breeders Crown 3 Year Old Pace Champion recently retired to Ivy Lane Farm in Goshen to stand his first season as a stallion in 2020. "This is more than just our horse, he's everyone's horse," Marty Rheinheimer stated when accepting the Hall of Fame trophy on behalf of Freaky Feet Pete and the Rheinheimer family. Super mare Hannelore Hanover, two-time Breeders Crown Champion and 2017 Dan Patch Horse of the Year was also inducted. "She's the type of horse that if anyone is lucky enough to get to own, you can appreciate her presence," said a teary Frank Baldachino, owner of Hannelore Hanover. Victory Hill Farm in LaGrange, Indiana, repeated as the Large Breeder of the Year while Larry E. Miller, Jr., was named Small Breeder of the Year. Victory Hill Farm earned more than $2,891,000 in Indiana alone with more than 91 starters bred by the farm. While Miller only had two starters in 2019, those two earned more than $402,000 racing in Indiana. With 55 Indiana Sire Stakes starters earning more than $1,741,000, including champions Priceless, Rockin Nola and Odds On Osiris, Rockin Image earned the Indiana Sire Stakes Pacing Sire of the Year. Swan For All was named the Indiana Sire Stakes Trotting Sire of the Year. The repeat winner sired 53 Indiana Sire Stakes starters who earned more than $2,273,000 in earnings. Champion progeny from Swan For All included Grand Swan, Rock Swan, TJ's Top Pick and Swandre The Giant. Both stallions stand at Victory Hill Farm. "As always, it was a wonderful night celebrating the best of Hoosier Horsepower," says Jessica Barnes, Director of Racing and Breed Development for the IHRC. "Every year is exciting when it comes to horse racing in Indiana, but with the return of the Breeders' Crown to Harrah's Hoosier Park this year, the level of excitement has been elevated as we hope to see more Indiana-sired horses taking the spotlight." A comprehensive list of the award winners can be found on the ISA website (http://www.indianaharness.com). From the Indiana Horse Racing Commission'   

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The second preliminary rounds of two of the levels in the Game Of Claims Series took place on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and sharp horsemen looking for potential thronetakers in the Game Of Claims Championships two weeks hence claimed all three of the night's series winners. The Game Of Claims pacing horses who went for a basic price of $12,500 drew one division of ten horses (scratched down to nine), making for a rare trailing starter at Pocono. At the wire, the field was trailing the Rocknroll Hanover gelding Grandpa Don, who after being last at the half made a huge looping move on the far turn and paced past everybody in 1:56.2 for driver Tyler Buter and trainer Susan Marshall, the latter co-owner with John Marshall - and was then claimed out of the race. Both horses who won last week in the Game Of Claims group that started for a basic price of $9000 on Sunday were again victorious, but as opposed to last week both horses headed to new barns after Sunday's successes. First to Victory Lane was the Rambaran gelding Speedling, now 2-for-2 in 2020 after a 1:56 win for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Lou Pena and his Lou Pena Racing Stables Inc. Then it was the Always A Virgin gelding Always B Magic who was again to parlay a pocket journey into a victory, here in 1:55.1 for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Daniel Renaud, and owner Alexa Renaud. With two claims from each of the $9,000 fields, four $12,500 purchases from that event, and three horses haltered out of a claiming handicap trot (perhaps looking towards the trotting Game Of Claims Series in March), 11 horses went through the box for a total of $124,125, running the totals over the four days of 2020 Pocono racing to 47 claims and $812,900 - keeping horsemen and handicappers on their toes to be in the right place at the right time. One place you didn't want to be at Pocono on Sunday was on the front end, as the speed held up only once in thirteen races. The lone horse making every pole a winning one was the very impressive four-year-old Sweet Lou mare Darn Tootn Hanover, who was sent to the top in a $15,000 distaff pace by Tyler Buter in :27.3, got a rest to a :57.1 half, then motored home in :55.3-:27.2, needing all that speed to hold off the invading Tango Dancer N by a neck in 1:52.4. Darn Tootn Hanover entered the year with only one victory to show in 17 starts as a freshman and sophomore, but this year she's turned things around and is now 3-for-3 for trainer Nik Drennan and Yankeeland Partners LLP. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

Breedings to Trixton, Always A Virgin, Andover Hall, Courtly Choice, Jimmy Freight, JK Endofanera and Racing Hill are among the 75+ offered in the 22nd Annual New Vocations Stallion Auction that is currently in progress via OnGait.com. Visit https://ongait.com/s/newvocations to view breedings and bid until 2:00 p.m. Thursday Feb 6. The auction is held in an open-ended-format that allows for bidding up to two minutes after the last bid on breedings with high activity at the 2:00 p.m. cut off. All proceeds go to rehab, retrain, and rehome Standardbreds retiring from the track. For more information call (937) 947-4020 or email dot@horseadoption.com by Dot Morgan, for New Vocations  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 17, 2020--Itty Bitty (Dan Dube., $8.10) was the best after two moves Friday night (Jan 17th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Filly and Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. Away third from assigned post position No. 5, Itty Bitty watched as 3-5 favorite Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan) leapfrogged her quintet of inside rivals. After early intervals of :27 and :57, Itty Bitty was out and moving toward a 1:25.2 three-quarters. She then engaged the leader in and out of the final turn, with the people's preference empty through the lane. Itty Bitty was able to close the sale, the final margin over two-hole Cay's Blessing (Jason Bartlett) a neck in 1:54.2. Made of Jewels AS (Eric Goodell), Renaissance Lady K (Jordan Stratton) and Feelin' Red Hot settling for the minors. Tipp City (Brent Holland) was outrun.   For second choice Itty Bitty, a now-6-year-old daughter of Always a Virgin co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, B&I Stables, Stephen Klunowski and John Schmucker, it was a successful seasonal debut for a 24th career victory. The exacta paid $51, with the triple returning $181 by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

DAYTON, OH. - Always Giggling (John DeLong) sat chilly near the back of the pack as Imajean Rocks (Brett Miller), seeking her fifth consecutive victory at Hollywood Dayton Raceway, set torrid fractions in the weekly Friday night feature--the $17,500 Mares Open Pace.   The strategy paid big dividends as the :27, :54.4 and 1:22.4 fractions resulted in a relatively slow :29.2 final panel in which Always Giggling was able to rally from seventh to grab a narrow victory in the last quarter.   The final clocking of 1:52.2 resulted in the five-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin garnering her fifth seasonal win, the 16th of her stellar career which has now produced $434,527 in purse earnings. She is owned by Jeffrey Fought and trained by Peter Redder.   Always Giggling, dispatched at 10-1 odds, paid $23.40. Coupled with morning line favorite Imajean Rocks the perfecta returned $98.80. Eliza Dushku N (Mike Oosting) got the show dough, while Newsday (Trevor Smith), Knockout Queen (Jeremy Smith) and Elysium Seelster (Tyler Smith) also earned checks in the ten horse field.     The curtain comes down on Hollywood Dayton Raceway's sixth season on Saturday night (Dec. 28) when a strong 14-race card commences at 6:15 p.m.   From Hollywood Dayton Raceway

If you're keeping track, that's three straight wins at the head of the class for Its a Horse, including the Joe Lighthill Trot two weeks ago at Cal Expo Harness.  Ray Alan Miller's colorbearer, who takes his lessons from Marco Rios and has been guided in each of those scores by Dean Magee, had no trouble with the sloppy going in the Lighthill and reported home with two and three-quarter lengths to spare that evening. "The owner bought this horse last year and turned him out for sixth months, then I got him," Rios related when asked about the soon-to-be 7-year-old Ohio-bred. With his last tally, he is closing in on the $100,000 earnings plateau. Its a Horse likes to relax early and save his best for last, although in his last two wins he made his moves earlier than usual and actually had the lead by the time they hit the stretch on both occasions. "If you look at the races going back to when he was at Northfield Park, he was racing on the lead, but we were able to teach him a different style and it's worked very well," Marco noted. "As far as the sloppy track last time, I was a little concerned, but he had trained so well all week I still had a lot of confidence." Rios acknowledged that having veteran Magee at the controls is a major plus. "He knows all about the flow of the race, and if he feels he has to move early, he does it. The horse is very sharp right now and it's been very satisfying." Virgin Eyes seeking encore in main event Virgin Eyes, fresh from a game win over a sloppy track two weeks ago, attempts a curtain call in Saturday night's $6,200 Filly and Mare Open II Pace. The headliner will go as the eighth of 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post at 6:10 p.m. A 4-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin, Virgin Eyes has turned in two big efforts since arriving from the East for owner Aleksandra Karl and Jacob Fox. In a needed local debut on November 29 she rallied smartly for the place spot despite suffering poor cover. In her most recent assignment over the wet going, Virgin Eyes brushed to the lead for Fox past the quarter, withstood a strong challenge on the final turn and prevailed by a length as the 5-2 choice. Marilyn was a strong runner-up that evening after posting nice tallies versus softer competition in her previous two appearances. Mark Anderson owns, Gordie Graham trains and James Kennedy has the return assignment. Dancingonthesand is a long-fused mare who will certainly have her share of backers off her two solid victories with this group last month. The Alan Cooper-owned, Kathie Plested-trained disaffer has Mooney Svendsen guiding from the No. 7 slot in the field of nine. Completing the cast are Shock N Awe, Capitol Hill, Magnifique, Brighten Your Life, Morgangetsherway and Cenalta Glory. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness        

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Preppy Art had been a harness racing machine of late, winning six in a row heading into the Toys For Tots Final for $7,500 claiming pacers at the Meadowlands Thursday night. It appears Forevernalways didn't read the press clippings. The 5-year-old Forevernalways, a gelded son of Always A Virgin-Jnb N Me, rushed up to challenge Preppy Art on the far turn before cruising by on the way to a 4¼-length win in a lifetime-best 1:51. It was apparent during the wagering that Preppy Art, who was making his sixth straight start in a different barn, would not be the post-time favorite, but as the 2-1 second choice, he fired away from the gate to the lead and cut out a :27.3 quarter before a :55.2 half.   Forevernalways vacated the three-hole approaching the far turn after Preppy Art hit three-quarters in 1:24 and made a bold move to poke a head in front with three-sixteenths of a mile to go. From there, the Kenneth Tisa trainee drew off with Dave Miller doing the driving during an explosive final quarter of :26.4 to win for fun. Walks Of Life was second, with Preppy Art third. Forevernalways, who paid $4.60 to win as the 6-5 favorite, was claimed for a third consecutive start, this time by Izzy Estrada. Preppy Art, who was claimed for a sixth consecutive outing, left the track on Bruce Lauer's trailer. There were two other Toys For Tots Finals on the program. JB's Shooting Star (Yannick Gingras driving) ran her win streak to three by taking the Fillies and Mares TrackMaster 77 or less Pace in 1:53 as the 4-5 public choice while Broadway Promise (Dave Miller) hit the wire first in 1:54.3 in the Non-Winners of $3,500 Pace at odds of 8-1. LARRY THE LIP: The always entertaining Larry Lederman called the Thursday night races, and as usual he provided some quips that are rarely heard: "Feel The Muscle is coming and so is Christmas." "This could be long-term parking, just like at the airport." "And the car leaves at 40 miles an hour, and there's R M Blackhawk going about 38." A LITTLE MORE: Dave Miller and Andy Miller were the driving stars of the night with three winners each while Andy McCarthy had two. Those three drivers accounted for eight of the 10 winners on the card. ... One player - wagering into the Midlantic hub - had the lone ticket to last all eight legs in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-8 and collected $6,183. ... Favorites won seven times on the program. ... All-source handle totaled $956,383. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

MILTON, ON - December 12, 2019 - Winter Series harness racing action finally got underway Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park with first round action in the Valedictory and Niagara Series. Each series featured two $17,000 divisions with three-year-old colt and gelding pacers dueling in the Valedictory and sophomore pacing fillies contesting the Niagara. The Valedictory Series launched with Windsun Ricky rallying from sixth at the head of the lane to reach up and defeat Lyons Pegasus, who led from the second-quarter on, by half a length in 1:51.4. What Up Mo was third, while Conboyville was fourth. Sent off as the even-money choice, Windsun Ricky was driven to victory by Sylvain Filion for trainer Murray Brethour. The gelded son of American Ideal now has five wins in 15 starts this season, with three of those victories coming in six starts since a break from the track in August and September. Windsun Ricky is now five for 20 in his career and has banked $69,080 for owners Brethour, Windsun Farm and Noblock Racing Stable. He paid $4.10 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. No rallying was needed in the second division, as Virgin Storm went coast-to-coast on the lead to win in 1:52.4. James MacDonald guided the Nick Surick trainee to his fourth win in 25 starts this season. Jknr Liketell rallied for second, beat a length. Dreamfair Charro was third, while Legion Seelster was fourth. Unraced at age two, Virgin Storm entered Thursday's race having not scored a victory since his fifth start of the season. The gelded son of Always A Virgin now displays totals of four wins, $57,555 earned and a mark of 1:52.4 for owner M Spacc Stables. Virgin Storm paid $11.30 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. The Niagara Series started with Sunfire Blue Chip filly Dreamfair Zenfire scoring at odds of 4-1 for driver Travis Cullen and trainer Jodie Cullen. Dreamfair Zenfire rushed up from third to claim the top at the half and went on to pace a :56.2 back-half to win by a length and a quarter in a career-best 1:53. Cranberry Brie took second, while Erikas Shadow and Mary Goodnight completed the Superfecta. The most experienced competitor in the Niagara, Dreamfair Zenfire is now six for 37 on the season after going winless in four starts as a rookie. She is a homebred for John Lamers that has now earned $64,131 during her racing career. Dreamfair Zenfire paid $11.40 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. Arya Stark closed out Thursday's series action in exciting fashion, winning by a neck over Giggle Hanover in 1:53.4. Driven by Chris Christoforou, Arya Stark angled out from fourth heading to three-quarters, collecting cover from a two-hole pulling Passport Hanover. Trip Aces Hanover, who led into the stretch, surrendered the lead late to Arya Stark, while Giggle Hanover charged up the rail late. Passport Hanover was fourth. A daughter of Royal Mattjesty, Arya Stark picked up her fifth win 34 starts this season and sixth career win overall with the upset score. Melissa Lamoureux trains the sophomore and co-owns with Jeffrey Boyd and Jefferson Davis. Arya Stark, who paid $23.80, now has career earnings of $68,537. To watch the race replay, click here. The Valedictory and Niagara Series were open to three-year-olds, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2019. Each event will resume next Thursday (December 19) with second-round action. The series finals will be contested on Boxing Day (December 26). Live racing continues Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

Always A Prince and driver Yannick Gingras stole the show in the $350,000 TVG Open Pace Final Saturday at the Meadowlands. Starting from post eight, Yannick sent the four-year-old gelding by Always A Virgin right to the front and never looked back. The duo held the field at bay and then pulled away in the stretch for a 1:48.2 triumph. He is trained by Tyler George and is owned by Carl and Melanie Atley of Xenia, Ohio. He paid $12.00 to win. Bettor's Wish was second with American History third. "It was the first time I ever drove him was tonight," said Yannick Gingras. "He was really nice to drive." by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

DAYTON, OH. - Tookadiveoffdipper, the ultra-consistent 5-year-old son of Always A Virgin, copped the $17,500 Open Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Saturday (Nov. 2) for his seventh harness racing win of the season. The Virgil Morgan Jr. trainee surpassed the $100,000 seasonal earnings plateau with the victory. In 2018, the winner also triumphed on seven occasions and banked $99,360. Driver Brett Miller opted to take control early, speeding to the quarter pole in :26.4 with the public's second betting choice. Tookadiveoffdipper also fronted the field at the half in :55.1 and the three-quarters station in 1:22.4 before sealing the deal in 1:50.4.   Pocket sitter Granite (Jeremy Smith), the slight race favorite, tried gallantly to overtake the leader in the stretch but fell one length short. Former multiple Ohio Horse Of The Year honoree Dancin Yankee (Chris Page), got loose late in the fray and closed for the show dough. The 11-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser, presently seeking his 80th victory, needs just $4,600 to reach $2 million in career earnings.   Tookadiveoffdipper is owned by Jane Cross of Illinois and Mark Cross of Tennessee.   The feature race win was one of four on the first dozen races for leading driver Brett Miller. A race later he guided Rock Out to a 1:50.2 tally in a $20,000 claimer for trainer Morgan Jr. Earlier on the program, Miller won a $15,000 claimer with Rush To Judgement, also from the Morgan Jr. barn; and lit up the toteboard with upset winner Omega Cat ($85.40) for trainer Steve Brannan in a top level condition pace.   Omega Cat's mega payoff in the seventh race caused a $2006 carryover in the track's 20-cent Hi-5 wager which prompted a $5000 guaranteed Hi-5 pool when racing resumes at Hollywood Dayton on Monday afternoon.   From Hollywood Dayton Raceway    

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