Even with a substitute driver, Take The Money and Perfect Alliance continued to dominate Bobby Weiss series action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs with easy wins on Wednesday night. Two $15,000 divisions of the Weiss were held for three and four-year-old trotting fillies and mares. With regular driver Andy Miller injured, trainer Julie Miller turned to Yannick Gingras to pilot the two four-year-old mares. He delivered, as Take The Money (Donato Hanover-Repititions) coasted in her split to a win in a career-best 1:55:4 and Perfect Alliance (Credit Winner-Yalta Hanover) strolled to a victory in 1:54:4. The pair are now a combined 13-for-13 in 2014 starts, including three Weiss wins apiece heading into next week's group final. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review Once again the weather was a wild ride this past week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, which obviously affected the racing wars at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. A gorgeous weekend led to the fastest times of the young season, but rain, snow, and bitter cold on Tuesday brought sloppy conditions. Nonetheless, the action stayed thrilling no matter what the track conditions or winning times were. Here is a look at the week’s best performers via another edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: DRIVE ALL NIGHT It’s always fascinating to watch how excellent horses progress throughout their careers. They will often go through periods at their where they face the top classes, and then almost inevitably start to drop down in class as they age to face competition more suited to their talent level. But there are some that have a tendency to rise to the top of whatever class they inhabit. Drive All Night certain falls into that category of horses that seem to find a groove no matter the caliber of horses they face. A few years back, he took on the pacers in the highest condition classes and even the Open pacers at Pocono, and he always acquitted himself well. These days the nine-year-old gelding is a denizen of the mid-priced claiming classes, and he has been cleaning up. He came into Saturday night’s $20,000 claiming event with back-to-back front-pacing victories at Pocono with the $15,000 claimers. The step up in class didn’t bother him a bit, as driver Simon Allard sent the 9-year-old gelding trained by Marty Fine to the front end and guided him to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:50:4. That gave the veteran 54 lifetime wins, and he’s showing no signs of slowing back down. In fact, with performances like that, he might just be ready to step back up to the face the whippersnappers in those top classes once again. Other top pacers this week include: Abelard Hanover (Jonathan Roberts, Donald Billings), whose victory in Saturday night’s Preferred pace came in 1:48:4, the fastest time recorded at Pocono so far this season; Its Rock N Roll (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who moved up in class and switched barns Saturday night and still picked up his second straight win at Pocono and his third straight overall, this one coming in a career-best 1:51:3; and American Shuttle (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who ripped off her second straight claiming win on Sunday night since arriving from Yonkers, matching her career-best of 1:53:3 in the process. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WIND OF THE NORTH Saturday night’s condition trot for non-winners of $23,500 in the last five starts felt like an Open considering the high caliber of the horses competing. Some of the standouts in the six-horse field included Meadowlands shippers Banker Volo and Jurgen Hanover, Imagine Hanover, who was fresh off a late closer sweep at The Meadows, and Money On My Mind, who finished second in Preferred company in his previous start. With that kind of competition, it’s not surprising that folks were a little skeptical of Wind Of The North, the four-year-old gelding from the Clifton Green barn who was coming off back-to-back condition wins to start his 2014 season. He was moving up in class, so that’s probably why he was let go at 6-1, but this is a trotter who proved last year as a three-year-old he could compete in the toughest classes. He proved it again and then some on Saturday night. With Mike Simons in the bike, Wind Of The North battled both Money On My Mind and Banker Volo in the stretch before prevailing in exciting fashion. It took his best effort, a career-best 1:53:4, to come out on top, but this third straight victory should go a long way in preventing anyone from underestimating this peaking trotter again. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Definitely Mamie (George Napolitano Jr., Brewer Adams), the accomplished mare who won a tough condition battle on Wednesday night in 1:55:4; Keystone Thomas (Andrew McCarthy, Joe Pavia Jr.), who rolled on the front end to a condition win on Wednesday in 1:55; and Smokin Dabra (Ron Pierce, Marty Fine), who moved up in class in style with a claiming handicap victory on Wednesday in 1:54, his third win in a row. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WHIRL MONROE Tuesday night’s sloppy track seemed conducive to long shots, and this condition pacer with Anthony Napolitano in the bike pulled off the night’s biggest shocker at 36-1, paying off $79.80 to win. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARK MACDONALD MacDonald has been spending more time at Pocono than ever before, and it’s paying off big dividends, like on Saturday night when he ripped off four victories. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LOU PENA Pena is always a major factor at Pocono, and he’s been making his presence felt again in the first few weeks of the 2014 season. On Saturday night, he scored three training wins. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
With his regular reinsman Andy Miller sidelined following yesterday's racing accident, world champion trotter Sevruga did his best to lift Team Miller's spirits on Wednesday, scoring his second straight win at Harrah's Philadelphia. Trained by Andy's wife Julie and owned by KDM Stables Corp., Sevruga ($3) won his season's debut from post eight in 1:52.1 on April 2. The six-year-old SJs Caviar gelding overcame his assigned outside post once again in Wednesday's $30,000 Winners Over Handicap Trot for another victory. Subbing in for Andy, Corey Callahan rolled the multiple-stakes winner to the lead, clearing to command past the :27.4 quarter pole. They continued to front the eight-horse field through middle splits of :56 and 1:26.1 en route to the one and a half length victory in 1:55.3. Fox Valley As and Baximum came on for second and third. To read the rest of the story click here.
YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, April 15, 2014--Here's an update regarding driver Andy Miller, who was injured in a Yonkers Raceway accident Tuesday night. According to Miller's wife, Julie, as well as trainer Scott DiDomenico, Andy Miller broke a pair of lumbar vertebrae in his back. As of this writing, he is awaiting transfer from Lawrence Hospital (Bronxville, NY) to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in northern Manhattan for further evaluation and treatment. Andy Miller has feeling in all his extremities, and is obviously in a lot of pain. Driving Marmara Denizi--a 3-year-old gelding co-owned and trained by his brother, Erv--Miller was in the back of the field and unseated during the $10,000, first race pace. Also unseated was George Brennan, who was driving 13-10 favorite In the Clear. In The Clear was a tight-pocket second down the backside the second time when he looked to slip out and appeared to step on the wheel of a first-up Fiftyshadesofhay (Dan Dube). In the Clear went down, as did Brennan, who did get up and resume his assignments for the evening. Miller did not lose consciousness, and none of the horses appeared to be injured. The race was won by Keystone Dalton (Jason Bartlett, $9.30) in a maiden-breaking 1:59. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
The Meadowlands unveiled a brand new series for female pacers on Friday named for the talented race mare and Hall of Fame broodmare Artistic Vision. The first of two scheduled $22,500 legs required the entrants be split into a pair of sevens with the first division going post ward as a just five horse field after two scratches in race two. The two hottest mares nominated to the series came in with unblemished 2014 records and both drew into the first split. American In Paris won this battle, outsprinting JK Letitgo in 1:51.3 over a track dulled by day long rains. Driver Jim Morrill, Jr sent American In Paris to the top from her outside post through the 27.1 first marker, then yielded to JK Letitgo who broke the next two beams in 55:3 and 1:24.4. In the stretch, Morrill geared his charge up from the pocket and the 26.4 final quarter was enough to edge by the stubborn leader. American In Paris races out of the Ron Burke barn and is owned by Burke Racing in partnership with Weaver Bruscemi. The second division was captured by Road Bet. Fresh off a third place finish in the $63,000 Petticoat Final at Yonkers on Monday, Road Bet was aggressively steered to the lead by her pilot Dave Miller. She set the pace unopposed until odds-on favorite Art Ideal was guided out of the pocket prior to the 3/4 pole, after stalking Road Bet through fractions of 27.1 and 55.1. Road Bet hit 3/4 in 1:24.2 and fought gamely to the wire, fending off Art Ideal through the stretch and scoring in 1:52.1 in the slop. The winner is owned by W J Donovan and trained by Chris Ryder. Grandview Hanover was third. The $30,000 Free-For-All Handicap Trot was the feature event on the card. Quick Deal showed his customary early foot, ripping through fractions of 27.1 and 54.4. But the early tempo took its toll on the 3-1 favorite and set things up for an upset. Drift Away, who sat the pocket with Andy Miller behind the pace-setter, found room in the stretch and kicked through an opening inside of World Cup, who made the lead following a first over grind. In a hard-fought stretch battle, Drift Away hit the wire first, with World Cup a game second and Baker Volo third. Undercover Strike ran into traffic in the stretch and was finishing fastest of all to dead-heat with Quick Deal for fourth. Drift Away is trained by Julie Miller for owner Brian Gillespie. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands
Driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller continue to dominate the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as their mares Take The Money and Perfect Alliance, stayed unbeaten in 2014 with easy victories on Wednesday night. There were three Weiss divisions for three and four-year-old fillies and mares on the trot contested on Wednesday, each carrying a purse of $15,000. Take The Money (Donato Hanover-Repititions) got away with soft fractions on the engine and coasted to the victory in her split by five lengths in 1:56:2, making her four-for-four in 2014. Perfect Alliance (Credit Winner-Yalta Hanover) then moved to seven-for-seven on the year with a romping victory in her division by four lengths in a scorching 1:53. In the other Weiss division, Dough Dough (CR Excalibur-Rising Dough), trained by Gail Wrubel and driven by Mike Simons, cashed in on the front end in 1:56:4. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review March 29-April 4, 2014 We saw a little bit of everything this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There was persistent rain on Saturday night, a wintry mix that made a real mess on Sunday night, and then, finally, some springlike weather on Tuesday and Wednesday. The one constant was excellent racing the entire week through, which we’re about to highlight with our Weekly Awards. Pacer of the Week - BLATANTLY GOOD Saturday night marked the beginning of our second week of racing, which meant that horses that won their first time out in the meet would get a chance to establish themselves as more than just one-week wonders. One of those horses was Blatantly Good, a 10-year-old stallion from the barn of trainer PJ Fraley, whose first start of the ’14 campaign at Pocono resulted in a sizzling condition victory in 1:49:4. Coming off that, he moved up a notch in the condition wars on Saturday night to face off with a group of non-winners of $20,000 in the last five starts. As if the tough foes he was facing in the race weren’t enough of a collective obstacle, he also had to deal with seriously sloppy racing conditions that made it a tough night for favorites on the whole. Several horses battled for the early lead, leaving Blatantly Good far back in the back. But driver Brett Miller never panicked and brought him to the outside to begin picking off horses on the back stretch. With one sweeping move around the final turn, the standout stallion blew by his competition on his way to a win going away. The winning time of 1:53:4 was obviously affected by the track condition, but it was nonetheless another impressive victory for this stellar veteran. Other top pacers this week include: Donna Party (Brett Miller, Kent Sherman), who stepped up to a tougher group of claiming handicap mares on Wednesday night and still won her second straight, this one coming in 1:52:3; So Take That (Tyler Buter, William Adamczyk), who moved to two-for-two on the meet with a first-over grind to victory in 1:52:2 on Saturday night against our highest claiming group; and Leaveumlady (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), a mare who won her second straight condition on Wednesday, stepping up in class for the victory in a career-best 1:51:1. Trotter of the Week - DAYLON MIRACLE This 5-year-old mare from the barn of trainer William Bercury had an incredible hot streak earlier this season at The Meadows. In February and March, she rolled to four consecutive victories. Those races were all against her own gender, however, which might have led to some skepticism about her chances when she faced the toughest male trotters at Pocono. On March 22 at MSPD, she took on Modern Family, one of the top older trotters in the country, and battled him all the way before coming up just short in 3rd. Without that star in Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred Handicap field at Pocono, the fans were on board Daylon Miracle, making her the even-money favorite. It was just a matter of going out and delivering. It wasn’t easy, as the mare had to grind it out first-over to get by Tober, the race pacesetter. In the stretch, Coraggioso, who had been placed perfectly in the pocket, closed to try to steal the win. But Daylon Miracle answered the challenge, digging in for the victory by three-quarters of a length. The winning time of 1:56:1, skewed by the sloppy track, doesn’t reflect the outstanding effort of this distinguished distaffer. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Extracurricular (Simon Allard, Marty Fine), who delivered a thrilling condition win on Wednesday night, his second straight, and matched a career-best of 1:54:3 in the process; First Aqua (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who moved up in class to beat the top claiming handicap group on the grounds in 1:54, giving him two straight impressive wins to start the meet; and Wind Of The North (Mike Simons, Clifton Green), who moved to two-for-two on the meet with a condition in on Wednesday night in 1:54:2. Long shot of the Week - CEE PEE PANIC In a $20,000 claimer on Saturday night, this gelding, with Tyler Buter in the bike, came swooping through the slop in the stretch for a win at 30-1, paying off $62.80 on a $2 win ticket. Driver of the Week - BRETT MILLER Miller is making Pocono his permanent home so far in the meet, and it’s paying off. On Saturday night, he had his best night yet by reeling off four victories. Trainer of the Week - WILLIAM ADAMCZYK Adamczyk sent out just two horses on Saturday night, but they were both winners, one of whom was out long shot of the week, Cee Pee Panic. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, April 1, 2014-Favored Extreme Machine N (Eric Goodell) prevailed from loosest of pockets Tuesday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $67,400 final of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series. The Teddy Roosevelt-approved series, for 3- and 4-year-old colts and geldings, culminated with Yonkers Raceway's richest race of the season to date. Extreme Machine N, as the 9-10 favorite, won the draw and watched as Artist Night (George Brennan) set sail on a mission. That mission included a 28-second opening quarter-mile and :55.3 half. All the while, Extreme Machine N was pacing just enough to make sure outside leavers Ashley's Husband (Jordan Derue) and A Stitch in Time (Ron Pierce) had no hole. Artist Night had five lengths at the wicked 1:22.4 three-quarters before Goodell asked his charge to close ranks. The margin was a length-and-a-half entering the lane, but the fractions were shockingly taking their toll. Extreme Machine N went by, getting the best of a three-hole-sitting Sir Michigan Z Tam by a half-length in a life-best 1:52.1. Artist Night held third, beaten a couple of lengths, with City Hall (Brian Sears) and Touchdown Mindale (Andy Miller) grabbing the remainder. Wilcox (Dan Dube), "Ashley" and A Stitch in Time rounded out the order. "I haven't seen the end to him yet," Goodell said. "I didn't want to be right on George's (Brennan, driving Artist Night) back, and even with those fractions, I was worried I waited too long. "In the (final) turn, he started to come back to me. (Extreme Machine N) steers a bit funny, and has a lot to learn, but the more experience he gets over here, he's just going to get better." For Extreme Machine N, a 4-year-old Down Under Mach Three gelding owned by Joseph Muscara and trained by Darren Cassar, he returned $3.90 for his third win as many seasonal/series/North American starts. The exacta paid $18, the triple returned $42.20 and the superfecta paid $104. A trio of series consolations, worth $25,000, $12,500 and $12,500, respectively, were won by I Dreamed a Dream (Pat Lachance, $14) in 1:54.2, Rolandale Buster (Dube, $8.20) in a life-best 1:54.4, and Artacus (catch-driver Miller, $38.20) in a life-best 1:54. Tuesday's Pick-5 pool, fortified with a $7,907.68 carryover and featuring a $25,000 guaranteed pool, induced $32,731 of fresh coin into the equation. The winning combination of 3/4/6/1/5 returned a tidy $16,228 to a pair of intelligent handicappers. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 31, 2014-Macharoundtheclock (Scott Zeron) pounced from the pocket Monday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $63,000 final of the Petticoat Pacing Series. The series, for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares, culminated with a 1-9 parimutuel entry in the form of Doo Wee Rusty (George Brennan, post 1) and Hobe Sound (Brian Sears, post 2). It was "Rusty" outsprinting everyone before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. Macharoundtheclock, leaving from post position No. 4, found himself sequestered In The Pocket, while A Sham of Amber (Jason Bartlett) was adroitly away in third. A soft, :31.1 second quarter (:59 half) figured to serve the leader well as his partner, Hobe Sound, moved from fourth. That one actually poked a head in front at the 1:28.1 three-quarters, with Mattie Terror Girl (Andy Miller) second-over. Doo Wee Rusty battled back to put her nose first turning for home, but no matter...both halves of the entry were toast. Macharoundtheclock, carried the lane, zipped inside and drew off. The final margin was a length-and-a-half in 1:57. Mattie Terror Girl raced very credibly from the eight-hole to grab second, with Road Bet (Dan Dube), So Long My Love (Jordan Stratton) and Cloris Hanover (Tyler Buter) grabbing the final pay envelopes. Hobe Sound, a Sham of Amber and Doo Wee Rusty rounded out the order. "The fractions played to the leader, but at the same time, kept a lot of us in striking distance," Zeron said. "Once she saw the passing lane, she just took off." For Macharoundtheclock, a 4-year-old homebred daughter of Mach Three owned by Birnam Wood Farms and trained by Larry Remmen, she returned $22.40 (second choice) for her fourth win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $130, with the triple returning $500. A pair of series consolations, worth $25,000 and $12,500, respectively, were won by It's a Miracle (Brennan, $5.60) in a life-best 1:54.3 and Wednesday's Whim (Brennan again, $10) in 1:55.3 The $67,400 final of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series, for 3- and 4-year-olds of the male persuasion, goes Tuesday night. Note that since no one took down Monday night's Pick-5, Tuesday's wager-which usually has a $10,000 guaranteed pool----shall now offers a $25,000 guaranteed pool...complete with a $7,907.68 carryover. The Pick-5 is a 50-cent base wager on races 5 through 9 nightly. Program pages for Tuesday's quintet are available at www.yonkersraceway.com. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
On paper, the $83,000 Clyde Hirt Final appeared to be a wide open race. But on the racetrack, it was anything but. Avatartist, sent off as the 9-5 favorite, made the early lead in 26.1 prior to yielding to the pocket. Driver Dave Miller made an aggressive move down the backstretch, reclaiming the lead past a 53.3 half-mile. The Buckeye threw down the gauntlet and opened up a commanding lead heading to the top of the stretch and never had an anxious moment in the stretch winning in a stakes record 1:50.1. Alexa's Jackpot rallied very well off dull cover to be second, while Wake Up Peter came from an impossible spot to be third. The winner is trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owners William Hill, Peter Harrisson, Michael Saftic and James Walker. Ironically, Avatartist is not eligible to the upcoming Whata Baron series which begins Saturday April 5th, while Alexa's Jackpot and Wake Up Peter are heading to that series next. In the $60,600 Final of The Horse & Groom, it was a perfect storm for Hldontghttoyurdrms in more ways than one. First, the 3-5 favorite Bambino Glide made a break prior to the start, never to be involved. At the start, round one winner Amigo Ranger went off-stride. Next, turning down the backstretch, with Hldontghttoyurdrms leading through a 27.3 opening quarter, pocket-sitting March Awareness broke stride, leaving the pace-setter with a six length lead heading to the half. Hldontghttoyurdrms got that half in 55.4 and three quarters in 1:24.3, while never facing a challenge and romping to an easy score in 1:53.4 for Canadian based driver Jonathan Drury. The winner had been a bit disappointing in the first two rounds of the series, but with the money down, the gelded son of Muscles Yankee got the job done. He is trained by Corey Johnson for owners Saverio Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Frank Spagnolo. Longshot Magglio was second with Crosbys Clam Bake finishing third. Scott Zeron and Jim Morrill, Jr. were the Winners in Round 2 of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Scott Zeron continues to make plenty of noise at The Meadowlands as he easily led the Phenoms from gate to wire to win the second leg of the Driver Challenge with 85 points. Zeron also won the "phenom" category last week as well. While Zeron is dominating the Phenoms, the Legends category has been a battle. Tonight, Andy Miller and Jim Morrill Jr. went into the last race each with 83 points, with first round winner Dave Miller right behind with 81 points. In the end, it was Jim Morrill Jr, with 90 points winning round 2 for the Legends. For the tournament, Dave Miller (172) leads the "Legends" followed by Andy Miller (160), Jim Morrill Jr. (158), Corey Callahan (74) and John Campbell (73). Scott Zeron (163) is cruising along in the "Phenoms" category. Joe Bongiorno (90) is a clear-cut second. Rounding out the top 10 are Tony Hall (60), Jonathan Drury (54), Steve Smith (52), Jim. Marohn Jr. (49), Vincent Ginsburg (46), Tyler Smith (45), Jim Meittinis (33) and Eric Abbatiello (22). On Saturday April 26th, the top five Legends and the top five Phenoms will qualify for the Driver Challenge Final, with the winner earning $15,000. Racing resumes on Friday with the first round of the Artistic Vision series for pacing mares, with post time at 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands
Driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller dominated the Bobby Weiss Series on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as Take The Money and Perfect Alliance each stayed unbeated in 2014 with victories. Overall there were three Weiss divisions held at Pocono for three and four-year-old trotting fillies and mares, with each of those races carrying a purse of $15,000. Take The Money (Donato Hanover-Repetitions), won for the third time in three starts this year by taking the first division by 3 ¾ lengths in 1:56:1. Perfect Alliance then made it six-for-six with a victory in the final division (Credit Winner-Yalta Hanover) with a win by 6 ½ lengths in 1:54. In the remaining Weiss division Laureen (Donato Hanover-Clareen), driven by Jim Meittinis and trained by Henrik Lundell, denied the Millers a complete sweep with a victory in 1:57:1. Week in Review at Pocono Downs The 2014 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs began under sunny skies and comfortable temperatures last Saturday night, a nice break from the bitter cold that has enveloped the area for so long. Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday got downright frigid once again, but nothing dampened the enthusiasm for the start of the campaign. As we will all season long in this space, let’s take some time to honor the best performances by horses, drivers, and trainers in the past seven days by handing out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: EIGHTEEN Although there weren’t any Open paces on the card this week at Pocono, there were several top-flight condition paces which produced seriously rapid times, especially on Saturday night when the weather cooperated. Still, times under 1:50 in the month of March are rare, especially for horses who go into a race at odds of 12-1. That’s exactly what the 6-year-old stallion Eighteen was facing as he stared down a condition field of non-winners of $30,000 in the last four starts on Saturday night. Trained by Mark Ford, Eighteen had been testing himself against some of the tougher condition pacers at the half-mile oval at Yonkers prior to his arrival at Pocono. He was certainly ready to pounce from behind when the fractions got hot and heavy. In the stretch, driver Mark MacDonald called on Eighteen for a rally, and he responded with some major late kick. When the dust cleared, the son of Cam’s Card Shark blew by all of the horses who got more attention at the windows with little problem, tripping the timer at a stunning 1:49:3. It was a new career mark for Eighteen, and an early, imposing standard for the rest of the pacers on the grounds to try and match. Other top pacers this week include: Blatantly Good (Brett Miller, PJ Fraley), who controlled a condition field on Saturday night for a victory in 1:49:4; He’s A Beachboy (George Napolitano Jr., Gilbert Garcia-Herrera), who followed up back-to-back wins at Freehold with a win over a claiming handicap field on Saturday night in 1:52; and Shark Fantasy (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose win Saturday night in 1:52:3 against other three and four-year-old pacers in the Bobby Weiss series was his third straight overall. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MODERN FAMILY While the pacing side had no invitation/open-style races on tap this week, we were fortunate enough to witness a $25,000 Preferred Handicap on the trotting side on Saturday night. As expected, it was a stellar field drawn to the big purse, led by Modern Family, the 5-year-old stallion who is the pride of the Daryl Bier barn. Bier also drives Modern Family and has led his horse through a gauntlet early in the season, taking on the very best trotters at the Meadowlands and Dover Downs. Yet he hasn’t been the least bit intimidated; in six starts this year he had been in the money every time, including a pair of wins. With that kind of track record, it was no surprise he was made the 4-5 favorite on Saturday night in a rugged field of nine. Bier worked out a pocket trip behind pacesetting Daylon Magician, setting it up for a stretch battle. That’s when Modern Family delivered the winning blow, wheeling on by for a one-length victory in a time of 1:52:1 that would have been worthy of praise in the middle of summer, let alone on March 22. It made for a great start to the trotting season, which, based on this early evidence, should be quite captivating in 2014. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: First Aqua (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who dominated a field of claiming handicap trotters on Tuesday night to the tune of a career-best time of 1:53:3; Ray Hall (Tim Tetrick, Mark Harder), who won Sunday night in the first leg of the Bobby Weiss series for young trotting colts, stallions, and geldings in 1:55:3, the fastest time of the three divisions held that night; and Perfect Alliance (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), a mare whose romping win in the Weiss series on Wednesday night in 1:54 was her sixth in six tries this season. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: APPLEY EVER AFTER This pacer rallied late in Saturday night’s final race with Aaron Byron driving to send the fans home stunned, since he was a 25-1 long shot and paid off $52 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY In an ever-growing driving community, one of our regulars stood out right off the bat. Kakaley became the first driver to chalk up a five-win night in the 2014 season, achieving the feat on Tuesday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GILBERTO GARCIA-HERRERA Garcia-Herrera ended last year on a tear at Pocono, and he picked it up quickly, nabbing two wins on Saturday night on his way to four for the week. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com .by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
The $47,650 final of the Winter Survivor Series saw Hacienda saved the day for his more highly regarded entry-mate Cane Ridge with a 1:51.2 score for Vinny Ginsburg at the Meadowlands Satuday. Cane Ridge's convincing win in the second prelim drew favoritism and Andy Miller sent him right to the front from the rail, the preferred position based his past performance. The fractions were fast but fair, however when the competition began to engulf the pace setter on all sides, trainer Doug Dilloian, Jr.s focus shifted from the tiring leader to his "other" horse Hacienda who was closing the widest and the fastest. At the wire Hacienda prevailed in a tight photo over Mc Rusty with Malosi N third. Darius Oshidar owns the winner. The six week "Legends vs Phenoms" Meadowlands drivers' tournament kicked off Saturday, with the top point earner of each distinction awarded a $2,000 prize. Scott Zeron was the leader at every call for the Phenoms and had his bounty salted away by race ten. The Legends, though fewer in number, were far more contentious in their competition. The Millers, Andy (who seemed to relish the opportunity to race a few on the lead with Yannick Gingras across the river all night) and David swapped the point lead back and forth several times and as they lined up for the twelfth and final Dave's lead was a tenuous five points. Dave Miller put the favored Pembroke Dewey on the lead and parked out Andy's weak bid with Corey Road to unceremoniously close him out and take home the $2,000 top prize. The competition will continue over the next several weeks with the final for the driver tournament schedule for Saturday, April 26th. The Drivers and Points will be updated at PlayMeadowlands.com throughout the tournament. On the equine front, two $20,000 divisions of the Clyde Hirt pacing series highlighted the card. One was rather formful while the other division resulted in a shocker. In the first split, a pair of leavers from outside posts made for a lively pace with first Avatartist then Burkentine Hanover clearing to the front through a 27- quarter and 54.2 half. Alexa's Jackpot took a bold run at Burkentine past the 1:21.4 three panels and was moving like a winner as Dave Miller desperately sought a seam for Avantartist. Once that fissure appeared, Miller guided him through a tiny opening up the cones to win by the slimmest of margins (and survive an inquiry to his course in the stretch) over Alexa's Jackpot in 1:50.1. Burkentine Hanover was a brave third. That gives Avatartist wins in both legs and he'll merit serious consideration in what shapes up to be a very competitive $83,000 final next Saturday night. Tony O'Sullivan trains the son of Rocknroll Hanover for W. Hill, P. Harrison, M. Saftic and J. Walker all of Ontario. Division two began largely as predicted with a couple of longshots battling away on the front and heavy favorite Wake Up Peter well situated second over around the final bend when he suddenly and unexpectedly went off stride. That left the long uncovered bid by Teresa's Beach well rewarded with a new lifetime mark of 1:50.1 and his backers wallet's a little fatter with a healthy $29.20 return on investment. Bree's Creek was up for the place with a late rush and Stars Above landed third resulting in a trifecta payoff of over $4,000. Brett Brittingham was in for the drive for trainer Johnny Waite and owner Leslie Betts, all of Delaware. In addition, Tyler Smith earned his first career Meadowlands driving victory with Arsenal in the 4th race C-1 Pace. The Meadowlands showed slight gains both on-track and in total handle for the Saturday program. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands
The second $20,000 leg of the Horse & Groom trotting series drew a dozen entries and went as the first and third races on the Friday night card. Bambino Glide took the opener in wire to wire fashion for Andy Miller to kick off the card on a pleasant spring evening, reducing his career record to 1:52.2 in the process. Miller sent the favored Bambino Glide to the top and set even fractions with second choice Hldontghttoyurdrms pocketed throughout in the abbreviated field. In the stretch Bambino Glide sprinted away from that rival under his own power to a two and a quarter length decision. Crosby's Clam Bake may have secured a final berth with his third place finish after being a judges scratch from the first leg. Julie Miller is the trainer and Kapiledo Singh and Shakoor's Racing Stable share ownership of the winner is will look for the series sweep as the likely favorite in next Saturday's $60,600 final. The second division saw Banker Volo prevail over Amigo Ranger in a photo. Amigo Ranger was a leg one winner in first over fashion and new driver Jimmy Morrill seized the opportunity afforded by the short field to steal easy fractions on the lead, aided by Ashes Cash and Explosive Action both going off stride before the half. Banker Volo sat the pocket throughout and tipped out head stretch for Marcus Miller to engage the leader. It took the length of the stretch, but Banker Volo did get his nose on the wire first in 1:55.2. Amigo Ranger was gallant in defeat and March Awareness rewarded the hunch players with the show dough. Erv Miller trains the talented Yankee Glide five year old for Mystical Marker Farms, Peggy Hood and Paymaq Racing. A series of upsets on the second-half of the card, included a 24-1 Team Orange Crush shocker in the 7th with Bambino Hall, ignited a massive Late Pick 4 payout of $14,209.80 from the pool of $66,901, yielding just four winning tickets. This marked the fourth time on the meet where the Late Pick 4 returned over $10,000 for the pool that has returned an average payout of over $8,000 so far in 2014. The Late Pick 4 returns Saturday with its customary $50,000 guaranteed pool. Featured on the Saturday program is the Final of The Winter Survivor Series and the second round of the Clyde Hirt. Post time is 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands
Saturday, March 22nd will begin the six week long, Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Each race on the next five Saturday programs will be a part of the Challenge, with the following format. Â· The driver with the most points accumulated for each team will win a $2,000 bonus. Â· Points are accrued as follows: o Win - 10 points o 2nd - 9 points o 3rd - 8 points o 4th - 7 points o 5th - 6 points o 6th - 5 points o 7th - 4 points o 8th - 3 points o 9th - 2 points o 10th-12th - 1 point On the sixth Saturday, April 26th, the top 5 point earners for The Legends and the top 5 point earners for The Phenoms from the first five weeks will qualify for the Final, where the Overall winner will win $15,000, the runner-up will receive $5,000, third place will receive $3,000 and fourth through tenth will each receive $1,000. For purposes of this coming Saturday, March 22nd, the drivers will be divided as follows: Legends: Dave Miller, Andy Miller, Jody Jamieson and Jim Morrill Jr. Phenoms: Scott Zeron, Tony Hall, Tyler Smith, Joe Bongiorno, Jim Meittinis, Vincent Ginsburg , Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smtih, Eric Abbatiello and all other drivers on the card. The Drivers Challenge will take place each Saturday through April 26th. Darin Zoccali
On what is likely to be Yannick Gingras' final night at The Meadowlands until after The Levy and Matchmaker Series, the Big M's leading harness racing driver went out with a driving double. First, he scored on Dragon Lore in the 5th race $9,000 C-2 Pace at 5-2. It was Dragon Lore's first start since February 22nd, but he was ready off a qualifier where he finished up in a strong in 26.4. Gingras scored down the son of Dragon Again aggressively and it paid off as Dragon Lore led at every call, winning in 1:53.2. Gingras guided the four year old home for trainer Mark Capone and owners T J Maggliozzo, S. Schachner and C. W. Duffy. Gingras also pulled off the mild 6-1 upset in the 9th race $9,000 C-2 Trot with Stonebridge Idol, who he guided to the lead down the backstretch, stealing a 29.1 third quarter and scoring in 1:55.1 for trainer David Duspiva and owner Fiddler's Creek Stables L.L.C. Gingras' 96 wins has him 29 wins ahead of Dave Miller. But with Gingras driving in The Levy and Matchmaker and Miller staying at The Meadowlands, that margin will become much tighter come The Championship Meet. Additionally, both Jim Meittinis and Andy Miller also scored two wins on the card. Racing resumes on Friday, featuring the second round of The Horse & Groom Series, with post time at 7:15 P.M. for the 11-race program. Saturday will feature the second round of the Clyde Hirt series, the $47,650 Final of The Winter Surivor Series and the first round of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge where The Meadowlands will welcome Jim Morrill Jr., Tony Hall, Tyler Smith and others to The Meadowlands driving colony. For more information, go to PlayMeadowlands.com Darin Zoccali
We had to take a bone chip out of a hind ankle. Dr. Patty Hogan did the surgery and we pretty much followed the textbook bringing him back." Sevruga made a statement last year that he could compete with harness racing’s best older trotters. Trainer Julie Miller hopes Katie Said can announce herself in similar fashion when she takes on stakes-calibre three-year-old filly pacers later this season. Katie Said, who was limited to two starts last year, and Sevruga were among four winners for Miller at last Friday’s qualifiers at the Meadowlands. The others were six-year-old trotter Bambino Hall and three-year-old pacer The Lunch Pail as Team Miller -- Julie and her husband, driver Andy -- went 4-for-4 on the day. It was the six-year-old Sevruga’s second qualifier of the season, a winning effort in 1:54.2 as he comes back from bone chip surgery that forced him to miss the end of last year. Sevruga won nine of 22 races and earned $484,575 in 2013 for owner KDM Stables. His wins included the John Cashman Jr. Memorial and Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, both at the Meadowlands, and he finished worse than third only once in his first 19 starts. He was off the board in his last three races and missed the final of the TVG Free For All Series after ending the preliminary rounds as the points leader. "He’s had two nice qualifiers. We’re going to qualify him back again because the level he has to race at, with the top horses in the country, I’d like to have one more tightener for him. But so far he’s done everything we’ve asked of him.” Sevruga, who finished fifth in purses among all older trotters in North America last year, is staked to a similar schedule in 2014. “He’s got all the big races,” Miller said. “If you can get a piece of those, you’re doing good. It’s a tough division, but (Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural) putting together those nice races for the older horses to keep them on the track, it’s been great to see that competition.” Katie Said, a daughter of stallion Well Said, is a half-sister to Kikikatie, the 2003 Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old filly pacer, and stakes-winner Just Wait Kate. Katie Said’s mother, Katies Lucky Lady, is a full sister to millionaire Camluck. Purchased as a yearling for $67,000 at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale, Katie Said is owned by the Andy Miller Stable and Black Horse Racing. She won her first start last year in 1:55.3 at Harrah’s Philadelphia in early October, but in her second race made a violent break while challenging for the lead and went to her knees. “She grabbed a shoe,” Miller said. “She just had some scrapes and scratches, but instead of going on with her, we turned her out and did the right thing by her. It’s working out.” Katie Said won her qualifier last week in 1:55.2. She is eligible to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit as well as a number of stakes including the Lynch Memorial, Adioo Volo, Shady Daisy, Reynolds and Tompkins-Geers. “Andy said she was vicious in her qualifier, just under wraps,” Miller said. “As a two-year-old, she was a late-comer. She had some maturity issues, not physically, but mentally. She’s got a nice three-year-old (stakes) season for this summer. She’s been a pleasant surprise. Hopefully she’ll be a nice racehorse for us this year. We’re really looking forward to her.” The Lunch Pail was another late bloomer, after getting an attitude adjustment. The now gelded son of Yankee Cruiser-Noble Marty, won a division of the Historic-Goshen Cup in 1:51.3 at Harrah’s Philadelphia and finished second in divisions of the Reynolds and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes after a slow start to his career. “He was a little bit of a project for us,” Miller said. “He grabbed a shoe one time at The Meadows and got jammed up another time and was making some breaks. In the stall, he was a nipper and biter and kind of would buck around and kick. We decided to geld him and keep his mind on his business. “As soon as we did that, he had a dazzling performance in (1):51.3 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. It’s amazing what they can accomplish when they keep their mind on their business.” The Lunch Pail, who was purchased as a yearling for $44,000 under the name Bud Bay at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale, is a full brother to stakes-winner Marty Party. The Lunch Pail was owned by the Millers, but three days after his 1:52.4 qualifier win was sold to Michael Ouriel, who also owns Marty Party. He is eligible to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes as well as events such as the Hempt Memorial, Adios, Reynolds and Historic. He also could go to the Bobby Weiss Series, which begins Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. “He’s a nice bred horse,” Miller said. “He’s got pedigree, he’s got the conformation, and now he’s got a great attitude too.” From the United States Trotting Association
Friday qualifiers showcased several returning stars on a chilly morning in East Rutherford, NJ. Sevruga made his second appearance for the Andy / Julie Miller barn and continued his return to form with a 1:54.2 / 28.1 win out of the pocket. He followed Detour Hanover's even fractions around the track before edging out head stretch and widening as he pleased. Heston Blue Chip made his seasonal bow, plodding along through slow fractions for Tetrick before a 27.1 sprint through the final quarter in a 1:55 mile, pretty much all in to hang on over a hard charging Escape The News. Ron Burke sent own a bunch of good older horses this morning and they pretty much took over for the second half of the qualifying card. Foiled Again was sent to the front by Gingras in his second go-'round and tacked a 26.3 close on a 1:51.1 mile. He was several lengths clear of the competition in a visually impressive workout. Doctor Butch was second in a solid effort. Top pacing mares came next and the tantalizing Burke triumvirate of Camille (Kakaley), Rocklamation (Gingras) and Charisma Hanover (Andy Miller) came together on the wire in 1:51.4 with Rocklamation and Charisma Hanover closing from a ways back into the 26.3 last quarter. They looked great. Sweet Lou looked the best of the lot today. He sat an early pocket through the 57.2 half for Yannick, then ripped out of the pocket through consecutive 27.2 / 26.2 quarters on the end of the 1:51.1 mile on his own. Results and replays are available here http://www.meadowlandsracetrack.com/results.aspx?racetype=2 by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands
East Rutherford, NJ: Beginning on Saturday, March 22 The Meadowlands will host a six week tournament for drivers that pits the sport's established stars against the emerging new talent. Each Saturday night through April 19 (five legs) a point tally determined by each driver's order of finish will be kept over the course of the entire race card and the top point earner for each of those two groups will be awarded $2,000 for their efforts. The tournament will conclude on April 26 with a final in which the top point earners over the course of the five preliminary legs will compete in a series of races on the card. The winner of the final will be awarded $15,000, second place is worth $5,000, third $3,000 and all other finalists will receive $1,000. This event is jointly sponsored by Jeff Gural and The Meadowlands with no effect on the purse account. "During the Levy Series at Yonkers I thought this would be an opportunity to reward those drivers who remain loyal to the Meadowlands and at the same time create an opportunity for the younger drivers to earn some extra money," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "With increased competition for the handle looming we feel the need to generate promotions that will hold the interest of our customers. "I think this is also a great chance for out of town drivers to show off their skills at the sport's most competitive racetrack during a time when there will be increased opportunity for them to get drives. We welcome those young drivers that would like to try their luck at The Meadowlands." There will be no specifically dedicated races for this contest. All drivers will be competing for their own interests, there is no team element other than to determine the top point earners for the purpose of awarding the prizes. The contest will consist of all races on each of the Saturday programs and the process will remain as it normally is so far as entering horses and driver selections. The trainers will enter their horses listing the driver of their choice. The drivers will make their choices with the judges by scratch time and trainers will be required to call the judges and react to those choices, then name whomever they wish if their first choice has gone elsewhere. The "Legends" will be comprised of Yannick Gingras, David Miller, Corey Callahan, Tim Tetrick, Andy Miller and John Campbell (who expects to return to the sulky on March 28). The "Phenoms" will include Scott Zeron, Andy Mc Carthy, Joe Bongiorno, Marcus Miller, Jimmy Marohn, Jr, and Tyler Smith among others. Any drivers not listed above who race at The Meadowlands on the tournament Saturdays will compete as members of the "Phenoms" and are eligible for any prize awarded to that group. The drivers named above and any others will compete of their own volition, as their personal schedule allows. They may compete in as many or as few of the preliminary legs as they choose. Contact Nick Salvi at (607) 972-5500 with inquiries.