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Reputation would suggest a party in Miami, Florida, is a not an uncommon occurrence and the champagne corks could well be popping again in 'The Magic City' come May 6. Miami residents Gordon Banks and Marc Hanover's investment in Victorian trots looks set to pay significant dividends this Australian Pacing Gold series, with the pair owning harness racing trainer Nicole Molander’s high-flying fillies. Passions Delight and Saphirique were both heat winners in the April 13 two-year-old fillies first series hit-out at Tabcorp Park Melton, form they will hope to extend in Friday night’s semi-finals. “It’s a really good series and something all trainers hope to get one going early enough to contest,” Molander said. “It’s a bit nerve-wracking to hold them together for such a long time from the heats to the semi-finals and finals, but they are both doing really well, so that makes life a bit easier.” Bred by Norwood’s Trevor and Christine Scadden, Saphirique was snapped up by Mr Banks and Mr Hanover at the 2016 APG sales, with the Bettor's Delight out of Sapphire Lil having cost $62,000 and already returned $10,490 in stakes from her three starts. The owners also bred Passions Delight, also a Bettor's Delight but out of Passions Promise, a winner of 12 of her 26 starts and more than $270,000 in stakes. It is talent that is translating on the track much to Molander’s relief, with Passions Delight having won three of her five starts and placed in the other two. “They both seemed like nice fillies leading into racing,” she said. “You always get a bit nervous, because you don’t know how that is going to measure up on race day, and having two going nicely is nerve wracking as well because you don’t get two good ones. I was just hoping our expectations would hold up.” And they have, although not always as expected. “At home I always thought that Passions Delight had more speed and would probably do better coming off other horses backs, and Saphirique the opposite – that she was tougher. “But the way they have been racing it has almost been the opposite, in particular Passions Delight showed real toughness when she held out Amelias Courage and kicked away.” The story continues to unfold at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Race programme for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 28 April 2017  

Superbly-bred harness racing filly Pick My Pocket arrived in Perth from New Zealand three weeks ago and is being set by owner Bob Fowler and trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice for the $150,000 WA Oaks on May 5. The daughter of champion sire Bettor's Delight will make her West Australian debut when she starts from the No. 5 barrier on the front line in the Happy Birthday Tanya Smeeth WA Oaks Prelude over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Prentice is unsure how well Pick My Pocket will perform at her first appearance in a race in Australia. “I have had her only a short time,” he said. “She’s a nice filly and I’ve had only one trial with her.” Pick My Pocket was not extended in finishing second to Jumping At Shadows in a 2100m trial at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park on Wednesday of last week. The winner rated 1.58.8 and the final quarters were run in 29.5sec. and 28.5sec. Pick My Pocket is out of In The Pocket mare La Filou, who raced only eight times in New Zealand for one win and one placings for stakes of $7315. La Filou is out of the remarkable broodmare Scuse Me, the dam of 12 winners, including Adore Me and Have Faith In Me. Adore Me raced only 36 times for 26 wins and seven placings for earnings of $1,677,032. She was successful in 12 group 1 events, including the New Zealand Cup at Addington in November 2014 and the Ladyship Mile in 1.47.7 and by a margin of six lengths at Menangle in March 2015.    Have Faith In Me has had 32 starts for 15 wins, eight placings and $1,446,592. His five group 1 wins include the Chariots of Fire at Menangle in February 2016 and the Miracle Mile in 1.47.5 when he defeated Lennytheshark. Pick My Pocket has had five starts in New Zealand for one win and a third placing, for earnings of $12,735. She won on debut over 2400m in a 14-horse field at Winton last December when she began speedily from barrier five and led after 250m before being restrained 300m later to trail the new pacemaker. She then raced three back on the pegs and took advantage of an inside passage to hit the front 120m from the post to win at a 1.58.2 rate. Her most recent appearance was at Addington on February 17 when she started from the outside in a field of five and was restrained to the rear and raced in fifth place in an Indian-file affair before fighting on gamely, three wide, to be fourth behind Spanish Armada, who dashed over the final two quarters in 28.5sec. and 27sec. The New Zealand-bred Maczaffair looks outstanding in Friday night’s race, especially after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line. Maczaffair has won at eight of her 19 starts and is maintaining her splendid form for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko. Apart from Pick My Pocket, Prentice has two other runners in Friday night’s race, Im Stylish (Tom Buchanan) and Lady Luca (Hayden Charles). Im Stylish has won at each of her past three starts, but is poorly drawn out wide at barrier eight. However, she is capable of doing plenty of work in a race and is sure to be prominent. In an Oaks prelude last Friday week, Im Stylish started from the back line and began a three-wide move after 450m to race without cover for much of the way before taking the lead 270m from home and defeating the fast-finishing Red Hot Roxy, who had enjoyed an ideal passage behind the pacemaker Lady Luca. The consistent Red Hot Roxy (Gary Hall jun.) will start from the outside of the back line this week and should be finishing with plenty of gusto. Soho Angel (Kim Prentice) will start from the inside of the back line and is also capable of a spirited effort. Ken Casellas

Pachacuti  confirmed his status as Tasmania's best harness racing pacer when he came of the back mark of 40 metres to win the $40,000 Ranvet Easter Cup over 2569 metres in Launceston on Sunday night. Despite starting off a back mark of 40 metres the gelded son of Bettor's Delight defied a tough run facing the breeze for the last 1500 metres to win and broke the track record for a standing start along the way. The Todd Rattray-trained gelding was forced to work hard early to tack onto the field but when his trainer-driver called on the gelding to improve he raced around the field to face the breeze outside of the leader Black Centurian. When Rattray called on his charge for supreme effort in the home straight he powered home to defeat outsiders Isaac ($51) and Remember Joe ($101). Pachacuti ($5.70) won seven races in succession before finishing fifth in his Easter Cup heat off 40 metres but armed with that run under his belt he delivered what Rattray described as a career-best effort. "This is the race I've always wanted to win and to do it with such a great horse is special," Rattray said. "I knew he was going really well and this week his trackwork was outstanding and he's taken that into the race tonight. "I'll wait a few days to see how he pulls up but I am confident I can take this horse away and win interstate." Pachacuti has won 32 of his 69 starts with 19 minor placings for over $300,000 in stakes. Isaac had a hard luck story as he was held up at a crucial stage over the final 300 metres and when he saw daylight half-way up the home straight he flashed home to be beaten two metres. Remember Joe ran the race of his life to grab third ahead of the race leader Black Centurian. Peter Staples

Pompano Beach, FL...Sunday, April 16, 2016...Sing For Me George, driven by Kevin Wallis, took top honors in Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Handicap Pace on Sunday night, scoring a gate-to-wire harness racing win in 1:50.4.   The eight year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight, rocketed through an opening quarter in :26.2 and then went on to card panels of :55.1 and 1:23.4 before a :27.2 sprint home sealed the deal by 3¼ lengths over the only mare in the field, OK Heavenly, handled by Wally Hennessey. Maxdaddy Blue Chip, with Mickey McNichol in the bike, rallied for third, just a neck further back while Rock On Moe, last in the sextet for the majority of the mile, finished fourth. Heart Felt was fifth after a mild first over bid on the backside while Arsenal, prominent in the garden spot for the first five-eighths of the mile, finished sixth.   In a post-race interview, driver Kevin Wallis related, "The key was the start and having the five post helped tremendously because that post has won around 25% of the races here.   "I thought that if I could make the top early, I'd have a chance to control the race and my horse (Sing For Me George) like to get into it early.   "The opening quarter probably dissuaded anyone from an early challenge so I was able to grab a hold a bit through the half and really not too much developed on the backside.   "I chirped at him once at the top of the lane and he responded like a good horse does.   "He went a heckuva mile."   Coming into the action with nary a win in seven starts but with a pair of seconds and five third place finishes, Sing For Me George earned his initial win of the season for trainer Paul Bernardo, who trains for owner Joseph Martinelli, Sr.   Sing For Me George now has 23 career wins in 129 lifetime starts and $433,636 to go along with his mark of 1:50.2 as a five year-old at The Meadowlands.   Off as one of the 8 to 5 co-favorites, Sing For Me George paid $5.20 to win.   In other Easter night action, the 12 year-old trotting warrior I'll Tell You What, also driven by Kevin Wallis, scored the 61st win of his storied career measuring 298 starts when he wired his seven foes in a conditioned trot in 1:56.   The gelded son of Lockkeeper clicked off panels of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:25.3 before coasting home unscathed in :30.2 to win by 6¾.   Trained by Deb Clayton for owner Janet Mathely, I'll Tell You What now owns a 61-55-57 scorecard and earnings of $423,540 to go along with his 1:53.2 mark set seven seasons ago over the 1¼ mile Colonial Downs oval.   I'll Tell You What paid $3.40 to win.   Yet another altered son of Lockkeeper, PC's Alleyway, scored for Wallis to kick off the Easter night festivities, also winning a conditioned trot.   This four year-old, trained by Mike Sweeney, who co-owns with Jeff Lemmer, held on to win in 1:57.4 for his 2nd consecutive win and ninth score lifetime to send his career bounty to $71,637 in 48 starts.   Off at 1 to 2, PC's Alleyway paid $3.00 to his multitude of followers.   Racing continues on Monday night with the $10,000 Open Trot being the feature.   In that event, Boli is listed as the 8 to 5 morning line favorite as that five year-old gelded son of Kadabra looks to bounce back from a fourth place finish in last week's event after starting from the outside seven post and never able to join the fray. Wally Hennessey is expected back in the sulky back of Boli.   Commentary, Pocket Trip, Tater Twister, Sailer Eddie and Prairie Fortune complete the talented sextet.   Monday's Pick-4 pool is guaranteed at $10,000 as part of the U.S.T.A. Strategic Wagering Program.   There is also a carryover in the track's Pick-6, conducted on races 3 through 8.   Pompano Parks Super Hi-5 finale has a carryover going into Monday night of $78,904.   Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park

She has a commanding record but it is fair to say six-year-old harness racing mare Bettor Downunder is really only now starting to show her full potential. The Bettor's Delight mare notched her 11th win last night in the Group 3 Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup with Michael Stanley in the sulky, and her trainer, Wayne Ronan, is eyeing bigger fish in coming weeks. A series of mares’ features at Tabcorp Park Melton, unofficially referred to as ‘the mares’ Triple Crown’, culminates in the $100,000 Group 1 Benstud Queen of the Pacific on May 20. That is Bettor Downunder’s short-term Grand Final. “She showed against A Piccadilly Princess in January (that she was up with the best mares in the country),” Ronan said after last night’s win around the 811-metre Ararat circuit in a rate of 1:58.8 for the 2195m trip. “(But) I’ll be honest,” Ronan added. “The way she’s gone this time in, even Michael made the quote last week, if the mare last week turned up to that race he’s certain she would have beaten A Piccadilly Princess.” “Now, you can sit her up, you pull the plugs and she’ll let go. The last two weeks have shown that with Mick sitting in the death and when he pulls the plugs you see there’s something there.” Stanley was full of praise for Ronan. “All credit to Wayne, he’s done a great job with her,” he said. “The Queen of the Pacific will be her target and she will acquit herself well. “Tonight we were able to control the race (from the breeze) and I was able to pinch a good break on Milly Perez when we needed to.” Stanley sent Bettor Downunder to the front approaching the final bend while Milly Perez ran wide to launch her customary final dash from back in the field. Despite Milly Perez savaging the line, Bettor Downunder had pinched the race-winning break and scored by 1.8m. “He drove her sensational,” Ronan said of Stanley’s steer. “He burnt them on the bend.” For Ronan, who trains at Glen Park and whose profession as a chiropractor sees him travelling away from home regularly, the training of Bettor Downunder is a family affair. “My son Connor, he’s 17, I go to Queensland fortnightly for work so he works the horses while I’m away. It’s great to have confidence where you can say, 'can you work a horse in 3.20 or 4.30' and he’ll be within 0.2 of a second,” he said. “My daughter Teanna helps out too, so it’s satisfying that it’s a family thing. Dad’s virtually given me the run of the roost with the breeding and what stallions to go to. He’s always saying ‘when are we going to get money out of it?’ Now it’s good to see we’re reaping the rewards. It’s great.” Bettor Downunder has come a long way since being the mare who would either win by a huge space or break connections’ hearts with misbehaviour bringing her undone. Ronan says he is thankful Gordon Rothacker Medal recipient Carl O’Dwyer has been able to assist in shoeing Bettor Downunder, which has turned things around. “She’s a little bit offset in the front knees. When she was hitting the ground she was putting all the pressure on the inside heels, so I took her over to Carl’s and we got her reshod and left the heel off the ground and put a pad under. She seems a lot more comfortable now,” he said. “I’m glad he took my phone call.” Ronan is hopeful that Bettor Downunder’s bad luck is well and truly a thing of the past. “It’s a great thrill. I’m breeding to try and sell horses … and to get her back and get her up and running and showing her true potential is just fantastic.” Milly Perez finished second, picking up two points in the Trots Country Championship, which left her shy of ladder leader Im Corzin Terror. It means Im Corzin Terror, from the Dean Braun stable, will pocket the $25,000 Trots Country Cups championship regardless of his finishing position in today’s Warragul Pacing Cup. Beach Boy Adios finished third from fourth-placed Perspective at Ararat, with local Jivin Cullen in fifth place. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Leppington harness racing trainer Kevin Pizzuto is eyeing off all the big races with his latest Kiwi purchase, Tiger Tara before a stud career beckons. The six-year-old ‘black bullet’ has been killing his rivals in no uncertain terms and is set to continue the trend in tonight’s Group 2 Renshaw Cup at Penrith. The son of top stallion Bettor's Delight has the $50,000 time-honoured feature at his mercy following his recent speed blitz performances and will start favourite. Tiger Tara has been breaking the clock in winning four of his past five starts with sustained speed over various distances. He ran 1:49.8 winning a mile race at Menangle before going close to Smolda’s 2525m track record in winning a lead-up to the Renshaw Cup at Penrith last week. He then stepped out at Menangle last Saturday night and scored easily in 1:50.7. “He has certainly turned the corner,’’ said Pizzuto who is one of the most successful trainers in NSW with his production line of Kiwi imports. “I’m not scared of backing my horses up. I have them pretty fit.” “He’s pulled up enormous after his last win. There are some nice horses in the Cup but he should make his own luck tonight,’’ Pizzuto tipped. The trainer was referring to the stallion’s usual tactics of making a move at some stage from barrier 10 and put them to the sword over the staying trip. A dual Group 1 winning three-year-old before graduating to the top ranks in New Zealand, Tiger Tara has taken time to adjust to Pizzuto’s training methods. “He wasn’t right when we tried to get him in the Miracle Mile,’ Pizzuto said. “I train them differently (to the Kiwis) and it has taken time for him to adjust. We also had a few minor issues. The ins and outs of fixing his gear.” “He has done a huge job now and will have a break after tonight and then come back for the Len Smith Mile.’’ “We will look at the Brisbane Carnival after that and then Inter-Dominion in November, but it will be one step at a time, ’’ he added. Pizzuto bought Tiger Tara after he was placed behind Lazarus in the NZ Cup and the NZ FFA in November. “When he came up for sale I told my daughter Courtney I wanted him, mainly for breeding,’’ he said. “So I bought him in a syndicate with my wife Tanya, Courtney and her boyfriend Mikey Hawli.’’ “He’ll stand at stud after his racing career is over.” By Paul Micallef Harness Racing Media Centre

Champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. is poised to win the Easter Cup for the sixth time by driving star pacer Ohoka Punter to victory in the $40,000 group 3 feature event at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The New Zealand-bred Ohoka Punter is the sole backmarker off 50m, but this should prove no impediment to his chances in the 2902m marathon in which he has a massive edge in class over his 11 rivals. Ohoka Punter, a striking seven-year-old stallion by Bettor's Delight, made an outstanding return to racing after an absence of 24 weeks when he scored an effortless victory over stablemate American Boy, rating 1.55.5 in a 2130m mobile event last Friday night. Returning to a standing-start event and racing over 2902m will not prove an obstacle to Ohoka Punter, whose past 12 starts have been in mobiles. His most recent appearance in a stand was in the 3280m Hunter Cup at Melton in early February last year. He led early in the Hunter Cup and then sat behind the pacemaker Smolda before finishing determinedly to be a head second to that star pacer. A week earlier Ohoka Punter contested a 2760m stand at Melton. He raced wide early before setting the pace and winning by one and a half lengths from Star Chamber, with final quarters of 27.8sec. and 27.4sec. A fortnight before that Ohoka Punter led all the way and won the Shepparton Gold Cup, a stand over 2690m in which he beat Five Star Anvil by a length and rated 1.57, a track record. The winner of the Victoria Derby at Melton and the Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park early in 2013, Ohoka Punter has been raced sparingly and has a fine record of 53 starts for 25 wins and 20 placings for earnings of $979,196. The 34-year-old Hall was delighted with Ohoka Punter’s first-up performance last Friday night and said that the horse was “really exciting at home and does some pretty special things.” An attack of colic, followed by a lung infection, forced Ohoka Punter to miss the Interdominion championship series at Gloucester Park last November and December, and now trainer Gary Hall sen. has his sights set firmly on the next Interdominion series in Perth late this year. “It was a real disappointment that he didn’t front up for the Inters,” Hall jun. said. “We thought that he was a really good chance in the series, judged on what he was doing at home.” The Easter Cup was first run in 1912 (when Goldust was successful at a 2.44 rate) and Hall jun. has won the Cup five times --- with The Falcon Strike (off the back mark of 20m) in 2003, Patches (off the back mark of 30m when he dead-heated for first with OK Windermere) in 2006, Uppy Son (10m) in 2012, Rebel Scooter (10m) in 2013 and Znana (off the front) in 2016. The reinsman with the most wins in the Easter Cup is Chris Lewis, who has been successful six times --- with Pallaton (1980), Gold Rowan (1984), Village Kid (1987), Abmidas (1997), OK Windermere (2006) and Lovers Delight (2015). Lewis will drive the Chris Winston-trained frontmarker Importer Exporter, an experienced standing-start performer and excellent frontrunner, in Thursday night’s Cup. Importer Exporter will start from barrier No. 2 and is likely to be involved in an early battle for the lead with the polemarker Bashful Compton, whose 12 wins in Western Australia have been in stands. Prentice trained and drove Subabrew for his victory in the 2007 Easter Cup. Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be represented by Assassinator (front) and Galactic Star (10m). Ryan Warwick drove Assassinator for a fighting win in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, but he will be in the sulky behind Galactic Star, who is clearly the stable’s main hope. Assassinator is a dogged and determined pacer and he will be handled by Ryan Bell.    Galactic Star, a New Zealand-bred four-year-old, is the youngest runner in the race and he looks set for a bright future. He impressed at his latest outing, in the final of the Clarke Pace last Friday week, when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before hitting the front 275m from home and winning easily from Vultan Tin, with a final quarter of 27.5sec. His past eight starts have been in mobiles, but he is a brilliant standing-start performer, having had five starts in stands in Western Australia for five wins. Evergreen gelding Shardons Rocket will start off the 30m mark with Kyle Harper in the sulky. The 12-year-old celebrated his 205th start by finishing a head second to Lisharry over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg has two runners, El Machine and Glow Bright, engaged in the Cup, with the eight-year-old El Machine her better prospect. El Machine finished solidly from fifth on the pegs at the bell to be second to American Boy over 1730m last Friday week. Shannon Suvaljko will drive El Machine and Morgan Woodley will handle Glow Bright, an eight-year-old who finished solidly to be a close last-start second to Maximum Demand. Two starts before that, he won a 2503m stand. Ken Casellas

Barimah A's overall lack of strong early speed was a non-factor in the featured event on Sunday (April 9, 2017) at Harrah's Philadelphia. The 7-year-old harness racing gelding by Bettor's Delight was making his third start for Trainer Scott Di Domenico, in what figured to be his toughest test to date, a pace for non-winners of $20,500 in their last 5 races. Starting from post 8, Barimah A lumbered up wide of leavers Bettor Memories (Dave Miller) and Bushwacker (Brett Miller), but eventually got the lead after being parked the quarter (:26.2). After Driver Tim Tetrick rated the half (:55.1 / :29) a fresh challenger emerged in the form of Blaise MM Hanover (George Napolitano Jr.). The 4-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding pulled to within a head of the leader, tripping three-quarters in 1:23.1. The duel continued until the eighth-pole, when Barimah A edged away to win by one length, stopping the clock in 1:50.4. Blaise MM Hanover settled for second, while Bushwacker finished third. It was the gelding's 16th career win, and 4th of the season. "He raced really well I thought," said Di Domenico. "It looked like he was going to get collared in the last turn, but fought off the competition which was really good." Barimah A is owned by Brian Carsey, John McGill, and Adam Friedland. He paid $4.00. There were also two divisions of a non-winners of $15,000 in their last 5 races. The first division (race 4) was taken by Joe Trice's Hall Bro (Brett Miller). The gelded son of Blissfull Hall was driven aggressively past the quarter. He brushed to the lead and held on gamely for the win in a day's fastest 1:50.1 for his 30th career win. He is trained by Brewer Adams. Hall Bro returned a handsome $18.20 to his pari-mutuel supporters. The second division (race 8) went to Lou Frascella's Phil Your Boots (George Napolitano Jr). The 7 year old gelded son of Shanghai Phil made the top before yielding to the speed of Trading Up (Dave Miller). As the outer flow started to labor, The Andrew Harris trainee abandoned his pocket position and out dueled the leader to win by a head in 1:50.3. He paid $2.80. Both division winners went over the $300,000 mark in career earnings with their respective victories. Live racing continues Wednesday with a post time of 12:40. There is no live racing on Easter Sunday (April 16th). Michael Bozich

West Australian-bred three-year-old Michael Joseph ended a sequence of ten unplaced runs with a smart victory in modest harness racing company at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening and trainer Clive Dalton is confident the gelding will maintain his form and prove hard to beat in the Sky Racing.com.au WA Derby Consolation over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I think that he can hold up from barrier one, lead and win,” said Dalton, who will return to his training establishment in the Victorian town of Shepparton within the next month after spending the past four years preparing a team of pacers and trotters at Herron, south of Pinjarra. Michael Joseph, driven by Kim Prentice, trailed the pacemaker Anvil Rollover before switching three wide 250m from home and sprinting strongly to hit the front 90m from the post. He sprinted over the final quarters in 27.7sec. and 28.1sec. in notching his second win from 14 starts. Dalton, who races the Bettor's Delight gelding on lease, said that Prentice was most impressed with the gelding’s performance on Tuesday. “Kim said that he couldn’t believe how easily he won,” Dalton said. “He said the horse was just jogging down the back.” To win on Friday night Michael Joseph is sure to have to hold off strong challenges from New Zealand-bred geldings Righteous Brother (barrier three), Punters Dream (No. 2), Messi (No. 8) and Im The Best (No. 7) and stiff opposition from WA-bred pacers Courage To Live and Davinci Diamond. Ryan Warwick, who will drive Righteous Brother for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, said that the gelding, who led and won at his WA debut at Northam on Thursday of last week, should be prominent. “He gave me a really good feel at Northam and he’s very strong,” Warwick said. Righteous Brother also won three races in New Zealand earlier in the season.  Punters Dream, a speedy beginner and a winner at Pinjarra in February and March, is ideally drawn at barrier two for Busselton trainer Barry Howlett and ace reinsman Chris Lewis. He improved from eighth at the bell to finish sixth behind El Barcelona last Friday night. Dalton said that he and his wife Annie had thoroughly enjoyed their four years in WA. “It has been wonderful here where we’ve had a lot of wonderful winners and memorable nights,” he said. “We plan to come back for a weekend here and there and for the Interdominion championship series later this year. “I’m hoping to have John of Arc fit to race at the Inters. He is spelling now, recovering from another suspensory ligament injury. And I’m looking at bringing Cardigan Boko back to Perth for the major trotting races in the summer.” Ken Casellas

WASHINGTON, PA, April 3, 2017 -- Mike Wilder and trainer Ron Burke teamed up to sweep Monday's opening-leg divisions of the Medusa Pace at The Meadows, with Make Mine Mocha and Emily R Hanover each taking a $15,000 split. The series for harness racing 3-year-old fillies honors Medusa, a fast-class mare who most recently performed for owners Randy Bendis and Tom Pollack in the Bluechip Matchmaker series at Yonkers. Make Mine Mocha dueled with the even-money favorite, Terrortina for the early lead before sliding into the pocket. The daughter of Bettor's Delight-Allamerican Mocha was stronger late, though, as she shot the Lightning Lane to down Terrortina by a neck in 1:54, matching her career best. Bella Ragaza came from well back for show. Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, Michelle Yanek and Weaver Bruscemi LLC campaign Make Mine Mocha. Off since Oct. 15, Emily R Hanover powered to the front past the half and steadily drew off to triumph in 1:55. Flyme To The Moon was second, 1-1/2 lengths back, with Imperial Delight third. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, William Donovan and Yanek own the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-EZ Rock. In the $20,000 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, Show Runner overcame a parked-out 27.3 opening panel to score for Jim Pantaleano, trainer Christen Pantaleano and owner A Piece Of The Action LLC. Rockin Rum Springa rallied from last for second, beaten a neck, while Shesasmokinlady completed the ticket. The 7-year-old daughter of Little Steven-Peace Runner extended her lifetime bankroll to $441,291. It was one of three winning drives for Pantaleano on the 13-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Colin Belton has two metal plates and eight pins in his right leg and walks with a slight limp. But he has no hard feelings towards harness racing four-year-old Mister Versace, who sent him crashing into a fence at the family property in Banjup last September. “I forgive him now, the way he’s going,” said Belton, husband of Annie Belton, who trains Mister Versace, who has blossomed after the terrible track accident almost seven months ago, with his 14 starts since then producing four wins, three seconds and one third for stakes of $28,995. And now the Beltons have high hopes that Mister Versace will maintain his excellent form and win the $18,500 www.gloucesterpark.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The WA-bred Mister Versace, purchased as a yearling for $19,000, will be driven by Kim Prentice from the inside of the back line. “He has drawn behind October Brown, a smart beginner and good frontrunner,” said Colin Belton. “He should have a soft run and, hopefully, Kim will be able to get him into the clear at the right time.” The Bettor's Delight gelding has been racing in considerably stronger company and should enjoy a drop in class this week. Three starts ago he led from barrier four and won from Americanbootscoota and Military Master, rating 1.56.1 over 2130m at Gloucester Park. That followed his strong finishing effort to be fourth behind Bettor Reward and Sprinter in the Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park. He has no luck at his past two outings. He raced three back on the pegs and was blocked for a clear run in the final stages when sixth behind Kiwi Legend in the group 3 Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park last Friday week. Then, last Friday night he raced in sixth place in the one-wide line before he was hampered and lost about three lengths when shuffled back at the 700m mark behind the tiring Debt Free Charlie in the Westbred final. He then fought on gamely to be fourth behind Hot Fraternity. Belton explained what happened on the fateful day in September, saying: “Mister Versace was the last horse to be worked on our track that day, and we were on the final lap when a bird suddenly flew in front of us. He took fright and jumped left and took me with him. “The cart got stuck in the fence. I was holding on for dear life, but I couldn’t hold him and he took off, with my leg still caught in the fence. He jumped the fence and dashed down Liddelow Road before being caught, unharmed, near the Jandakot track. “I was lying in the sand for 40 minutes and I knew that there was something wrong when I stood up and started hyper-ventilating. I knew I was in shock. Finally, the next door neighbour found me and I was taken to hospital where I asked a nurse if she could see anything. She said ‘it doesn’t look very good.’ “There was a spiral fracture in the right shinbone and now I have two plates and eight pins in the leg, and they’re going to be there forever. It was a bit of a setback and I was unable to work for six months. But Mister Versace has made up for it and is doing really well.” A sympathetic Annie Belton said that Mister Versace was an extremely docile horse and the accident was no fault of his, or of Colin. Meanwhile, Annie Belton has stable star Mister Jadore back in work and she is hopeful that the $17,000 yearling who has earned $267,889 from 12 wins and ten placings from 27 starts will be able to make a successful comeback after suffering a severely damaged tendon more than two years ago. “He’s a pet and I have taken my time with him,” she said. Ken Casellas

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - A pocketed Never Say Never N (Jason Bartlett, $7.10) out-tripped 2-5 favorite Awesomeness (Scott Zeron) Tuesday night (March 28th), winning Yonkers Raceway's 'sloppy' $61,800 harness racing final of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series. The annual Teddy Roosevelt-A-Thon was open to 3- and 4-year-old pacers (guys only, girls went at in the Petticoat) who are/were non-winners of four races or $40,000 through last Dec. 1. Leaving from post position No. 2, Never Say Never N tracked pole-sitting Prejudice (Jordan Stratton) from the outset. Meanwhile, Awesomeness-from post No. 5-tried to leave, but was wrangled back into a fourth-hole. That trio were the only ones in the final who had each won both of their series starts (one scheduled leg was snowed out). After early intervals of :28.1 of :58.2, Awesomeness was out and moving, trying to stomp out Prejudice in and out of a 1:26.2 three-quarters. Prejudice owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but was surrounded. Awesomeness was resilient, but Never Say Never N had the shorter route and the bigger envelope. The latter whipped the former by a head in a moist 1:54.2. Prejudice was third, beaten a neck, with Sure Fired Bet (Yannick Gingras) and Artmagic (Brent Holland) settling for the remainder. Ideal Son (George Brennan), Wishiwasagigolo (Dan Dube, coupled with Prejudice) and Stirling Escort (Matt Kakaley) finished off the order. "He's quick and fits this track very well," Bartlett said. "Ever since I qualified him, I've been impressed with him. I knew Jordan's horse (Prejudice) would take me to the lane, and it was up to him from there. For second choice Never Say Never N, a 4-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight co-owned by Gerard Stuchbury and Thomas Lazzaro and trained by Heidi Rohr, he's now 5-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $20.20, with the triple returning $30.80. "His best stride has always been near the wire, but sometimes he shuts himself off, so they added a mini bit tonight and it helped." As for Awesomeness, whose own win streak ended at six, "We lost a lot of round in the last turn and Jason (Never Say Never N) was able to get the jump," Zeron said. "(Awesomeness) was out two turns and really running in, so I can't fault the effort." A $30,000 series consolation was won by Magical Cowboy (Gingras, $5.40, part of entry) in 1:55.2. Frank Drucker

Goggo Gee Gee has gone from paddock pet to harness racing star in the eyes of his owner Adam Rattray. When Goggo Gee Gee was a foal playing amongst many in a paddock on the Rattrays' Karalta Pacing Stables at Pateena Road Longford he took a shine to Adam Rattray and they formed a bond. It isn't an odd occurrence but one that ensured plenty of emotion when Goggo Gee Gee emerged triumphant in the Harry Holgate Memorial final at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston last Sunday night. With his trainer Todd Rattray in the sulky, the gelding worked home three-wide for the last lap with the favourite Courageous Jamane on his back. But when the driver released the deafeners and called on the Bettor's Delight gelding for the supreme effort he sprinted clear of the favourite and then outgunned race leader Christian Jaz over the final 100 metres to win narrowly with the favourite closing late to grab third. "I just sat there three wide and I knew the favourite was on my back and that he was the one to beat, so when he pulled out on the corner I went for home in an attempt to out sprint him," Todd Rattray said. It was Goggo Gee Gee's seventh win but clearly his best and his owner is hoping for more. "He came up to me in a paddock and we bonded and from then on he was pretty much a pet," Adam Rattray said. "He is a small horse with a big heart and I thought it was a tough win." Peter Staples

Pachacuti extended his winning steak with an effortless harness racing victory in the $10,000 Governor's Cup over 2090 metres in Hobart on Sunday night.. Pachacuti ($1.30 favourite) was unable to hold the lead from gate two and was crossed by Modern Ruler and heading down the back stretch the last time it looked for a moment that the favourite might not get out of the pocket. But the seven-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding's trainer-driver Todd Rattray somehow eased off the fence from behind the leader at the point of the home turn and once in the three-wide line the gelding powered home to score by over 10 metres from Hugo Play with Sapphire Swayze a closing third. Pachacuti is being aimed at the $40,000 Easter Cup on April 16 and his next outing will most likely be in an Easter Cup heat in Launceston on Friday week, March 31. Rattray was hauled into the stewards' room after the race and subsequently suspended for four race dates on a dangerous driving charge and it could mean missing out on driving Pachacuti in an Easter Cup heat. "I will be appealing the suspension and that's all I want to say about it," Rattray said. It was Pachacuti's sixth win in succession this year and given the way he toyed with his rivals at this latest outing he should be a major contender when he arrives at his grand final in the Easter Cup. "I am very happy with how he's going but I'm sure there is a fair bit of improvement in him between now and the Easter Cup. "He had a short let-up after his previous run so I reckon he definitely was in need of this run." Peter Staples

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (March 18, 2017) - Millenium Wheel made a winning Meadowlands debut last week as a 7/1 outsider. Making a double jump up in class tonight, the Joe Hundertpfund, Jr. trainee won again in the $18,000 featured pace as an 11/1 long shot. Andy Miller positioned Millenium Wheel in the pocket while Tyler Buter put The Rock on the front end through swift fractions of :26.4 and :55.1 for the half. After three quarters in 1:24.1, The Rock began to tire from those earlier efforts. Millenium Wheel was able to mount his rally up the pylons while Jacksrluckytoo and Chevals Clivesdale launched powerful rallies from the back of the six-horse field. Millenium Wheel held them off to win his second straight and 19th career race in 1:52. Even money favorite Jacksrluckytoo was second with Chevals Clivesdale third. Millenium Wheel is an 8-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding shared in ownership by William Sartin and Mark Salerno. Hundertpfund and Miller teamed up to win again in the 11th race with Special T Rocks, another Dover invader. Special T Rocks won the 2012 Clyde Hirt Series final at the Meadowlands when trained by Daryl Bier. Marcus Miller led all drivers with three wins including a $56.80 upset in the nightcap with Ooh Bad Boy. Tyler and Amber Buter teamed up to win a pair of races with the Meadowlands-loving City Hall and Vorst. City Hall has won seven of his last eight Big M races dating back to last fall. Total handle on the 12-race card was $2,570,693. Racing resumes next Friday. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Herr Wins Seat in BetAmerica WHHC Final Ed Herr of Ocean, NJ, captured the March 18th BetAmerica World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifier at the Meadowlands Racetrack.  The $100 Qualifier required contestants to place at least five $10 minimum win wagers on Meadowlands races.  Herr had $30 to win on 26-1 #9 Ooh Bad Boy in Race 12.  He cashed for $852, earning him the $1,215 top cash prize and an $800 seat in the BetAmericaWorld Harness Handicapping Championship on April 29 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.  The top four contest finishers were: Place Prize $ Bankroll First Last 1 $1,215 $852 Ed Herr 2 $675 $540 Joe Barre 3 $459 $211 Chris Simonetti 4 $351 $160 Mike Petruccelli  The BetAmerica WHHC is a one-day tournament [April 29, 2017], with a welcome reception the evening prior.  Players that did not earn a seat through a qualifying event can directly buy-in for $800.  The BetAmerica WHHC contest format requires players to bet 10 races: their choice of six Meadowlands races, plus four designated mandatory races from partner tracks.  Players keep all pari-mutuel winnings.  Prize payouts are to the Top 10, with an guaranteed prize pool of $50,000. BetAmerica.com is currently hosting regular online Qualifiers for the BetAmerica WHHC Entries for the first online Qualifier are now open, with an entry fee of $35. New accounts to BetAmerica are eligible for a $300 Sign Up Bonus. Hoosier Park, Monticello Raceway, Northville Downs, Plainridge Racecourse, Scioto Downs, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and Buffalo Raceway have signed up to host BetAmerica World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifiers.  Registration deadline is 10 p.m., Friday April 28.   For the contest entry form and complete rules visit PlayMeadowlands.com by Justin Horowitz, for the Meadowlands

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 17, 2017-Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker for high-end pacing mares began Friday night, with a trio of $40,000 divisions. The opening event saw odds-on choice Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing, $3.60) parlay a perfect pocket trip into a handy, 1:53 victory Winning the draw, Shesjustadelight N watched as Empress Deo (Matt Kakaley) grabbed the lead before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. Then, along came American Girl (Tim Tetrick), who eschewed a three-hole only to get hung for her troubles by Empress Deo. It was a :55.2 intermission and 1:23.4 three-quarters, with American Girl eventually backing away. While that was transpiring, Shesjustadelight N was enjoying the show, awaiting her close-up. Empress Deo owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but the fave was ready. Shesjustadelight N edged inside, defeating the Empress by a length-and-a-three-quarters. Change the Rulz N (Scott Zeron) rallied for third at 48-1, with 110-1 shot Quick Draft A (Mark MacDonald) and Tessa Seelster (George Brennan) rounding out the payees. "She's just super handy and I couldn't have asked for a better trip," Cushing said. "I was a bit surprised Tim (Tetrick) didn't take the seat behind me, but it ended up working out for us. "It's always good when you can just a win in this series without using a horse hard, so we're going take it.." For Shesjustadelight N, a 7-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight co-owned by her driver & Kevin Sywyk and trained by Heidi Gibbs, it was her first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17.80, with the triple returning $109.50 "She's just super handy and I couldn't have asked for a better trip," Cushing said of his lass. "I was a bit surprised Tim (Tetrick) didn't take the seat behind me, but it ended up working out for us. "It's always good when you can just a win in this series without using a horse hard, so we're going take it." Friday night's second Matchmaker grouping saw another odds-on number, Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett, $3.20) prevail, though not without some angst. Away third from post position No. 2, Mach it a Par quarter-moved around Bedroomconfessions (Zeron), taking over right a :28.1 first two furlongs, There were very soft fractions after that (:57.3, 1:26), with Betabcool N (MacDonald) trying it first-up from fourth. Mach it a Par owned a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn, then was all out to hold off Bedroomconfession by a nose in 1:53.2. Betabcool N held for a credible third, with Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton) ad Krispy Apple (Brett Miller) settling for the remainder. For Mach it a Par, a 7-year-old daughter of Mach Three co-owned by D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, Gandolfo & T L P Stables and trained by Richard Banca, it was her second win in four seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $5.10, with the triple returning $16.20. The first round's final foray offered the fast female, as Regil Elektra (Bartlett, $8.40) lasted on the lead in a season's-best 1:52.4. From post No. 3, she hooved her way (:28.2, :57.1, 1:24.3). Regil Elektra had a length lead into the lane, then whipped a crisp rally of 22-1 Hidden Land by a half-length. Third went to a pocketed Lispatty (MacDonald), with a first-up Medusa (Kakaley) and Diva's Image (Joe Bongiorno) grabbing the minors. Nike Franco N (Tetrick), locally debuting as the 9-10 favorite, gapped second-over and wound up seventh. For second choice Regil Elektra, a 7-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Fred Monteleone Stable and trained by Keith Armer, it was her third win in six '17 starts. The exacta paid $133.50, with the triple returning $374. "The open draws are so big in these series, and both (Mach it a Par and Regil Elektra) had good posts, so I had to leave with them," Bartlett said. "Mach it a Par isn't a front-end sort of mare, but I thought she was good in the last quarter when she had to be. "Regil Elektra won the Open Handicap here last Friday when it was cold, and she was there again." The Matchmaker (as well as the Saturday night-beginning George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series) offer five preliminary rounds, leading to a finale, set for Saturday, Apr. 22nd . by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

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