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YONKERS, NY, Monday, October 22, 2018--Turns out Brian Sears' 30-1 upset with Cruzado Dela Noche in the million-dollar Yonkers International Trot was puny parimutuel potatoes. Monday night (Oct. 22nd), Sears and---we kid you not--82-1 A Oliveinmymartini became Yonkers Raceway's largest win mutuel of the season, to the tune of $167.50 for ever correct couple of bucks. This was far for a 'shortest distance between two points' number. From post position No. 8 in the $16,000, third-race pace, the lass missed the memo, spotting her rivals about a half-dozen lengths at the start. A Oliveinmymartini did catch the field, racing fourth along the pylons before slipping out and widest in the final turn. She defeated 11-1 Successful Outlook (Jordan Stratton) by a half-length, with 17-1 Bullvillekarla (Dan Dube) third and 6-1 Fine Art (Brent Holland) fourth. Making her first start for owner Samuel Abdoo and trainer Amber Buter, the 3-year-old daughter of Three Olives was patrolling the Ohio fair circuit before winning at Dayton 18 nights ago. The 1:55.2 in her local debut was a life-best performance and led a $1,433 exacta, $10,899 triple (base $2 payout, $1 ticket worth $5,449.50) and $129,551 (base $2 payout, 10-cent ticket worth $6,477.55). A Oliveinmymartini won for the third time in 10 seasonal starts. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Sweden’s Cruzado Dela Noche made a three-wide move on the final turn and the 30-1 long shot was able to nip Norway’s Lionel at the wire in a dramatic photo finish by a head in winning harness racing’s $1 million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway Saturday. Driven by Brian Sears, Cruzado Dela Noche got away in sixth place as Arazi Boko (Alessandro Gocciadoro) took the early lead away from the USA’s Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) going to the first quarter in :28.2. Race favorite and Elitloppet winner, Ringostar Treb and Pastore Bob both went off-stride going for the lead on the first turn. Then Canada’s Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) came first-over and was able to clear to the lead and take the field to the half mile in :57.1 as Lionel and driver Goran Antonsen came first-over with Sears and Cruzado Dela Noche followed second over past the three-quarters in 1:27. As they came to the final turn, Sears made the big move three-wide with Cruzado Dela Notche past the mile marker in 1:27 and the three-horses raced side-by-side around the turn and then the battle began down the stretch. Marion Marauder began to tire, Lionel looked if he had the race won, but with every stride, Cruzado Dela Noche gained ground and then in the final strides to the wire, won by a head in 2:24.3. Up And Quick (Jason Bartlett) was third. A six-year-old stallion by Muscle Massive, Cruzado Dela Notche was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms in the USA and raced in the states at age two before being shipped to Sweden. He trained by Marcus Melander and is leased by Courant, Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida. He paid $62.50 to win. Also, of note is that Cruzado Dela Noche had not been in a pari-mutuel race since June 10. He did have two winning qualifying races before going in the International. “I’m just so proud and happy to be here today,” said winning driver Brian Sears. “The trip I got, I could not have drawn it up any better. Maybe I should have tipped him three deep a little earlier than I did. When I did tip out it made the 9 horse (Lionel) worked a little harder. Perhaps if I had waited until the top of the stretch my horse would have gotten to him sooner. “He just raced super,” Sears said. “He got the trip that he needed. It’s just awesome today. To win the International Trot is great. This was my fourth time in the race. You don’t get that many chances to compete at this level. To win this today is quite a thrill.” “We did the qualifiers at Pocono,” said trainer Marcus Melander. “And we really did not know if they were enough for him to get ready for this race. He showed up today in good shape. “We train our horses a lot,” Melander said. “He was use to the extra distance racing from Sweden.” Warrawee Roo and Dube take $250,000 Harry Harvey Trot With a huge three-wide move from fourth place, Warrawee Roo and driver Daniel Dube was able to collar pacesetter Gruden and go on to win the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot Saturday at Yonkers Raceway. Gruden, at 22-1, and driver Tim Tetrick grabbed the lead away from In Secret (George Brennan) to start off the seven race one and one-quarter mile race and led the field past the opening quarter in :28.1 and the half mile in :57. Yes Mickey and driver Jason Barlett had started up first-over with Warrawee Roo following the outside flow second-over as they past the three-quarters in 1:27. Then at the one-mile mark in the race at 1:56, Dube moved Warrawee Roo three-wide, clearing by Yes Mickey and then collaring Gruden as they started down the stretch. Warrawee Roo then has plenty of trot in the stretch, holding off Tap Flight Angel (Andy Miller) to win by one length in 2:25.2 with Gruden third. Winless in his last seven starts, Warrawee Roo, a five-year-old stallion by Majestic Son, posted his fourth win of the year for trainer Luc Blais and the Determination Stable of Montreal, Canada. He paid $10.60 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

It was a big harness racing day for driver Brian Sears at Yonkers Raceway Saturday afternoon. After capturing the $1 million International Trot with Cruzado Dela Noche, Sears then came back in the 11th race $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace to win with ease with McWicked. It was Mach It So (Jason Bartlett) who flew out of the starting gate to take command and then Nuclear Dragon and driver Tim Tetrick came right after Mach It So to control the pace at the first quarter in :27. As they came past the grandstand the first time, Sear came out with McWicked and started to grind his way towards the leaders at the half mile in :55.3. Following second-over was Bit Of A legend with driver Jordan Stratton. Then in the backstretch, McWicked was able to overpower Mach It So and take command with ease going to the three-quarters in 1:22.4. From there is was all McWicked as he pulled away in the stretch to win by four open lengths in 1:50.4. Bit Of A Legend was second with Evenin Of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) third. “He always gives a great effort,” Sears said after the race. “I was OK with getting away third and I knew we would have to come first up and he just makes it look so easy. I don’t want to always come first up with him, but today he was OK. He is just so easy to drive.” A seven-year-old stallion by McArdle, it was the ninth win this year for McWicked. He is trained by Casie Coleman and owned by Ed James SSG Stable of North Boston, NY. He paid $2.90 to win as the race favorite with the scratch of Lazarus from the race on Friday. McWicked now sports 31 career wins in 90 starts and lifetime earnings of $3.500,376. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

YONKERS, N.Y. – Sunday morning (October 7), there was no time for celebration in Chris Oakes’ barn on the backstretch at the Red Mile. Homicide Hunter, who set a world record for the fastest trotting mile ever the afternoon before, stood in his stall after going out to jog several laps with caretaker Therese Pierce.  Despite his remarkable achievement on the track, in the barn, Homicide Hunter was barely noticeable, standing silently in a dark corner of his stall without so much as a fuss as Pierce tended to him with the stall door wide open. “Not crazy. We went out for dinner afterwards, shared a few laughs, and we’re back to work today,” Oakes said as he looked admiringly into the trotter’s stall. “You can’t dwell on it too long, we have to work now, we have to keep going.” Homicide Hunter shipped back to Oakes’ Pennsylvania farm this week and will ship to Yonkers Friday to arrive in time for the 24-hour detention barn ahead of Saturday’s Harry Harvey Trot, a $250,000 invitational on the Yonkers International Trot undercard. The stakes will mark Homicide Hunter’s first local start since August 12 and his first start after setting the record. “He has a 10-hour ship back to Pennsylvania, then gets hauled Friday up to Yonkers, race, then be back to Pocono for the Breeders Crown. It’s a lot to ask of these horses,” Oakes said. “He’ll be getting a nice, easy week in the field. I’ve got a pool at the farm right inside the barn, they’ll get swimming a lot and get turned out. That’s what he really enjoys.” Homicide Hunter’s easy week comes off a grueling schedule. After winning the $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series Final over 10 furlongs at Pocono September 2, Homicide Hunter had a tune up at Pocono September 12 before shipping to the Midwest. He finished third in the Caesars Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park September 21 and fourth in the Dayton Trotting Derby September 28 before heading to the Red Mile for the Allerage Farms Open Trot. The Allerage set up perfectly for Homicide Hunter, who has come from off the pace in all of his recent stakes tries. Lindy The Great put up a quarter in :26.2 and after taking the lead heading up the backstretch, Will Take Charge passed the half in :53.2.  Homicide Hunter followed Lindy The Great and Pinkman in the flow third over to three-quarters in 1:22. Brian Sears tipped Homicide Hunter four-wide into the stretch and with a :26 final quarter under with minimal urging from the Hall of Fame driver, Homicide Hunter swept past the field to win by 3 lengths in 1:48.4.  Oakes thought Homicide Hunter could trot sub-1:50, but never expected a world record. He was thrilled to share the moment with owners Al and Michelle Crawford. The win improved Homicide Hunter’s record to 38 wins from 75 starts and boosted his earnings to $1,463,927. “I knew instantly that was a world record. I’m just very happy for the horse and for the owners, too,” Oakes said. “They bring so much to the game and you like to see good people like that do good. When they spend the money they do on horses like this, it’s nice to see things go right. “Luckily, they were on time in front of him, they were getting down there. That helped,” he continued. “The horses that were in front of him were racing hard and of course, he hadn’t been used yet. So, when he did get free, he was loaded.” Homicide Hunter raced barefoot in his record-setting mile, a decision Oakes grappled with before the race. It was his second time racing barefoot for Oakes; the only other instance came in the same race one year earlier when Homicide Hunter was second to Hannelore Hanover in a 1:49.2 mile. The shoes were back on Sunday morning, as they will be for his start in the Harry Harvey Trot. “The track was extremely fast; the conditions were perfect,” Oakes said. “I was contemplating whether I was going to take his shoes off or not, but if you don’t do it on a day like that, you’ll never do it. I thought it was the right conditions and he was OK with it. “This year, the only I thing I did differently was I put no boots on him at all. He wears trotting boots behind, like most of them do, the only thing I put on his hind legs were two wraps, keep it as light as possible, and it worked,” he said. The Harry Harvey Trot will be a completely different style of racing for Homicide Hunter than what he encountered at the Red Mile. He will shift from the mile track to the half, will face a big field of nine rivals, and will stretch back out to 10 furlongs. Although Homicide Hunter won a local Open Handicap Trot at 1 ¼-miles from off the pace earlier this year, Oakes doesn’t want to be too far back against a tough field Saturday. “He’s OK with Yonkers. Big change and maybe even a change in strategies too,” Oakes said. “I don’t know if we can be that far back at Yonkers, it’s a different style of racing there, a little bit more speed involved.” Homicide Hunter drew post 10 and with Sears back in the bike, is the 3-1 morning line favorite in the Harry Harvey Trot. He’ll face Guardian Angel As, the runner up in the Allerage for Annette Lorentzon, who drew post 3 and is 4-1 early. Warrawee Roo, who finished second in the Dayton Trotting Derby last out, is 6-1 from the inside post. The field also includes a host of recent local winners, including Top Flight Angel, In Secret, Yes Mickey, Gruden, NF Happenstance, Sortie and DW’s NY Yank. After his world record score, a win in the Harry Harvey Trot heading into the Breeders Crown would make an impressive campaign for the 6-year-old gelding. Oakes is just happy to be along for the ride. “This horse was a good horse long before I ever laid hands on him. His 3-year-old year in a very tough program in Indiana, this horse won 16 out of 18 (for Curt Grummel) and that tells you right there what kind of horse you’re dealing with. He’s a winner. He’s won half of his lifetime starts. It’s really all about him. I’m glad to be part of him." Saturday’s card also features the $1,000,000 Yonkers International Trot and the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace. First post time is 1 p.m. For entries to the card, click here. For more information on the International Trot and its participants, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

McWicked and driver Brian Sears paced the second fastest mile in the history of harness racing with a 1:46.2 victory over Lazarus in the $179,000 Allerage Farms Open Pace at the Red Mile Saturday. The eighth race feature saw Western Fame and driver Brett Miller leave from post nine and take the early lead away from Filbuster Hanover (Matt Kakaley). Also, on the move was Australian import Heaven Rocks and driver David Miller and by the opening quarter mile in :26.1 they were in command of the field. Past the half mile marker in :52.1, Filibuster Hanover and Kakaley started up first-over and was followed on the outside by McWicked and Sears. Following McWicked third over was Lazarus (Yannick Gingras). They raced past the three-quarters in 1:19.1 as McWicked and then Lazarus started to fan out and come after Heaven Rocks. McWicked was able to collar and pass by Heaven Rocks in the stretch and then hold off Lazarus to win by one length in 1:46.2. Filibuster Hanover was third. It was a lifetime record for McWicked and the $89,500 winners share of the purse pushed his earnings over $1 million in 2018 for trainer Casie Coleman and the SSG Stables of North Boston, NY.   McWicked has now tied his rivalry with Lazarus at 2-2. To see the race click here.  Sired by McArdle, McWicked is seven years old and now sports career earnings of $3,375,376. He paid $5.00 to win. “This horse,” said trainer Casie Coleman. “I’ve never had one this old before and wow, 1:46.2, I’ve never had a horse go that fast and that makes him pretty special. “I’ve always liked this big horse,” Coleman added. “When we got him at age 3 he earned $1.5 million and won some of the big stakes races. He still racing now and going strong. “We got invited to Yonkers next week to race for a half a million,” Coleman said. “I didn’t think the owner wanted to go there but he said yes so it looks like we are going to Yonkers.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

LEXINGTON, KY -- With fast fractions set before him, Homicide Hunter ranged towards the center of the track into the stretch and slingshot past tiring trotters to become the fastest trotter in harness racing history with a 1:48.4 victory in the $145,000 Allerage Farms Open Trot, sponsored by Jeff & Paula Gural, at The Red Mile on Saturday, Oct. 6. Homicide Hunter's 1:48.4 mile lowered the all-time trotting mark previously set by Hannelore Hanover, who beat the boys in the Allerage Farms Trot last year with a 1:49.2 mile. The time also lowers the record for gelding trotters of 1:49.4, set by Jl Cruze at the Meadowlands in 2015. Guardian Angel As took the lead from Pinkman firing at the rail while Lindy The Great floated for position into third. Lindy The Great brushed to the lead by the quarter in :26.2 as Will Take Charge, away fourth, angled off the rail and began his move for the lead, clearing before a :53.2 half. Will Take Charge faced first-over pressure from Guardian Angel As around the far turn with Pinkman positioned second over and Homicide Hunter third over. Guardian Angel As inched to the lead past three-quarters in 1:22 and fought for command into the eighth pole. However Homicide Hunter, poised from his setup, accelerated past the field with ease and trotted to the wire going away from Guardian Angel As holding second. Pinkman finished third while Lindy The Great weaved into fourth. A six-year-old gelding by Mr Cantab out of the Like A Prayer mare Evening Prayer, Homicide Hunter won his eighth race in 13 starts and his 38th in 75 overall, surpassing $1.4 million in earnings. The Chris Oakes-trainee, returning $5.20 to win, races for Crawford Farms Racing and had Brian Sears in the bike. By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, September 19, 2018- Brian Sears, he of the recent 10,000 career harness racing win plateau, was the subject of Tuesday (Sept. 18th) profile by News 12 Westchester. Sports anchor/reporter Pete Ruf spent a Yonkers Raceway evening with Sears. They discussed his career (Sears', not Ruf's), starting with learning his craft from his father, Jay, through the early years in upstate New York, his countless stakes victories, Hall of Fame induction and remaining among the sport's premier drivers. The story can be viewed by clicking here. A note of appreciation to Ruf and News 12 for their continued interest in the Raceway side of Yonkers Raceway. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY - Yonkers Raceway Friday night (Sept. 14th) wrapped up its New York Sire Stakes legs--all 16 of 'em--with the $156,200 Lew Barasch Trot for 2-year-old harness racing colts and geldings. Friday's event once again honored the memory of 'Tootie,' whose unmatched PR savvy in the golden age of the game helped make the nascent Roosevelt International Trot a happening. The evening's first ($77,400) grouping saw odds-on Thunder (Jason Bartlett, $3.10) do it handily in 1:58. From post position No. 2, he made the lead around Brady Bunch (Andy Miler) after an early break of Kredit Karma (Brian Sears). After that, no issues for the fave through dawdling (:29.1, 59.2, 1:29) fractions. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) tried it first-up from third, settling for second to the winner (as he did at Vernon), with the final margin three lengths. Brady Bunch and Quiksilver Bluchip (catch-driver Jordan Stratton) completed the gimmick finishers. For Thunder, a son of Conway Hall trained by John Butenschoen for co-owners Crawford Racing, VIP Internet Stables and Jeremey Day, it was his fourth win in eight seasonal starts (all in last five tries). The exacta paid $12.20, the triple returned $17.20 and the superfecta paid $98.50. "He's handy, he gets over any size tracks and he's getting better," Bartlett said. "We're ready for next week (sire stakes finals here)." The evening's second ($78,800) statebred sojourn was a mismatch on paper and in practice for divisional leader Gimpanzee (Sears, $2.10), making it 6-for-6 ($166,358) during his froshfest. All the wins have come in New York Sire Stakes competition, the latest after weigh stations of :29, :57.4, 1:28.1 and (identical to first event) 1:58. From post No. 6, he waited his turn to get by an eventually-breaking Captain Krupnik (Dan Dube) and Chapter Fashion (Bartlett). The latter eventually did the dance of the damned coming to the half, which led to an extremely gapped-out gang. The lead was eight lengths at intermission. Our White Knight (Miller) did cut in that passing the three-quarters, but the outcome was even more death-and-taxes than death-and-taxes. Gimpanzee won by 3¾ lengths, with Out White Knight safely second over Certify (Jeff Gregory). Fourth went to Captain Krupnik, as his break wasn't as costly as the other three misbehavers...even though all four were 'distanced' in the chart. Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven is trained by Marcus Melander for Delray Beach co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, has won his half-dozen starts by a combined 23¼ lengths. The exacta paid $23.20, the triple returned $222 and the superfecta paid $920. "He's done nothing wrong and tonight was the same," Sears said. The Raceway hosts the $1.8 million New York Night of Champions Saturday night, Sept. 21st, with eight, $225,000 divisional finals. Friday night's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace was won by Medusa (Sears, $6.60) in 1:52, the lady's 35th career victory in her 120th start. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, September 8, 2018-A week after the 2018 Yonkers Trot, there was a renewal of the 2017 edition, complete with similar outcome. Top Flight Angel (Brian Sears, $17.20) two-moved from the eight-hole Saturday night (Sept. 8th), winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured $44,000 Open Handicap Trot. He grinded his way up and over Yes Mickey (Jason Bartlett), just as he did in last season's Trot. The margin was a nose when they went for a half-million-dollars then and a length here. The mile went in 1:55 after Yes Mickey's intervals of :28.1, 57.3 and 1:25.4. Third went to a belated Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory), Charmed Life (catch-driver Mark MacDonald) and Elysium Lindy (George Brennan) settled for the minors, while slight 2-1 choice Rose Run Sydney (Jim Marohn Jr.) jumped it off early. For fourth choice Top Flight, a 4-year-old son of Archangel owned by Legendary Standardbred Farm and trained by Julie Miller, it was his fourth win in 10 seasonal starts (career earnings over $614,000). The exacta paid $80 ($79.50 in the '17 Trot), the triple returned $225 and the superfecta paid $1,413. Saturday night's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace saw pole-assigned Sunfire Blue Chip (MacDonald, $7.50) retake from 7-10 favorite Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), then win comfortably in 1:51.3 (off early subsections of :26.4, :55.4 and 1:23). Back for his first visit in nearly three months, Sunfire Blue Chip defeated a first-up Theartofconfusion A (Sears) by a length-and-a-quarter, with Evenin' of Pleasure, Somewhere in L A (Bartlett) and Always at My Place (Brennan) coming away with the remainder. For second choice Sunfire Blue Chip, an 8-year-old son of American Ideal trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Brixton Medical and R A W Equine, it was his sixth win in 18 '18 tries (career earnings over $1.4 million). The exacta paid $37.60, the triple returned $105 and the superfecta paid $632. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, September 2, 2018-A second-tier Bioness (Brian Sears, $33.80) made one decisive move Sunday afternoon (Sept. 2nd), winning the $120,000 final of Yonkers Raceway's French-American Trotting Club Series. The finale, wrapping a four-race series for imported French-breds, went at the mile-and-a-half and the first of the four added-distance races. Away sixth (fifth after a breaker) from post position No. 9, Bioness made the lead from 47-1 Adagio de la Tour (Jason Bartlett) between the :28.3 opening quarter-mile and the :59.1 half. He then fought off Uhlan Noir (Brent Holland), with Deo (George Brennan) wide behind that one. While this was going on, 6-5 choice favorite Versachet (Jordan Stratton) found himself going wide to nowhere, while second choice Ursis des Caillons (Joe Bongiorno) was done in by an early break. After subsequent substations of 1:28.3, 1:58 and 2:28, Bioness opened to three lengths into the lane. Though tiring, Bioness did hold sway over a handful of pursuers, winning by a length in 2:58. Adagio de la Tour (Jason Bartlett) closed from a loose pocket and wound up second, with Alpha D'Urzy (Louis-Philippe Roy) third. Ursis des Caillions did recover for fourth, with first leader Barry Black (Austin Siegelman) lasting for the last pay envelope. For fifth choice Bioness, a 7-year-old Sam Bourbon gelding owned by Northfork Racing Stable and trained by Chris Oakes, it was his third win in 13 seasonal starts (a second and two thirds in series prelims). The exacta paid $1,004, the triple returned $6,978 and the superfecta paid $43,653 (base $2 payout). The week's $44,000 Open Handicap Trot, at the old-fashioned flat mile, was won by down-the-road Obrigado (Mark MacDonald, $5.90) in 1:55.2 Sunday's final-for-a-while summer stock presentation of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 4-Ruler of the Nile (Saratoga's 1st race) and 6-Lord Cromwell (Yonkers' 3rd race), returning $18.70 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $7,490. The next Sunday matinee is Nov. 4th (post time TBA). Note that the Raceway is dark for live racing Monday and Tuesday nights (Sept. 3rd and 4th), returning Thursday night (Sept. 6th), with the evening norm first post of 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) wins the first of two divisions of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman harness racing trotting colts & geldings at Vernon Downs on Thursday (August 30) for a purse of $53,500. Chapter Fashion (Jason Bartlett) charged to the front and hit the first quarter in :27.4. Gimpanzee ($2.10) followed in the pocket. Trained by Marcus Melander for owners Courant Inc., and S R F Stable, he would take over just before getting to the half first in :57.0 and cruise into three-quarters in 1:25.4. Chapter Fashion would stay close in second. As they hit the stretch Gimpanzee found another gear and recorded a lifetime best mark to win in 1:54.3. Chapter Fashion was easily second best. Our White Knight (Jim Morrill Jr.) came up to finish third. Gimpanzee is a colt by Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows. He is a perfect five for five in his career. Thunder (Jason Bartlett) takes the second division ($54,500) of the NYSS for trotting colts & geldings. Thunder ($6.30) went right to the front but Brady Bunch (Andy Miller) went first-over and took the lead before hitting the first quarter in :27.4. Thunder, who is trained by John Butenschoen for owners Crawford Farms Racing , Jeremy Day, and VIP Internet Stable LLC., re-claimed the lead and led them to a half of :57.4. He would lead them to three-quarters in 1:27.1. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) came up to challenge around the last turn but Thunder was too strong and flew home in the stretch to win in a lifetime best of 1:55.4. Chip Chip Conway would settle for second with Brady Bunch earning third money. Thunder is a colt by Conway Hall-Cr Oh Suzanna. It was his third win in six lifetime starts. Vernon downs returns to live racing on Friday (August 31) for a 10 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, August 29, 2018-It began innocently enough, back in 1984, with the harness racing pacer Alicia Blue Chip at Vernon Downs. The lass, same as the driver, won just that lone race that season.... ...but while 'Alicia' would go on to win just 22 more races during her career, her driver would notch another 10,000-and counting-during his. It was a bit more than 24 hours after Brian Sears reached that milestone when he sat back and mused about the milestone. "It's meaningful for me," Sears said during a Yonkers Raceway work night. The irony that the 50-year-old Sears reached five figures while driving a trotter named Chasin' Dreams in Westchester Sunday afternoon (Aug. 26th) was not lost on him. "The relationships I've maintained," he said. "I appreciate all the owners, trainers and grooms that have supported me over the years." Sears made sure to save the premier plaudits for his family. "My dad (Jay) taught me how to be a horsemen and he took the brunt of it, because I had to learn with his horses. "He and my sister, Jennifer, who's also an accomplished horseperson, have helped me more than anyone." As good a big-money driver as harness racing has ever seen-career purses in excess of $186 million ranks him sixth all-time-there isn't a trophy out there without Sears' name etched somewhere. So what stands out? "I can't name them all, but my first Hambletonian (Muscle Hill-2009), first Meadowlands Pace (Rocknroll Hanover-2005), winning the (2017) Yonkers Trot (Top Flight Angel) and Messenger (Downbytheseaside) the same night. Those are races I definitely remember." While the Harness Hall of Famer (Class of 2016) has been the leading driver at every venue he's hung his helmet full-time, he credits the Meadows-where he moved his base in 1994--for starting his career. "I had opportunities there to learn and work on my craft," he said. "I would drive against Dave Palone and Dave Miller and learn from them." Another irony not lost on Sears is the fact that the next generation is now learning from him. "We're the old guys in the room now," he said while seated next to George Brennan (his words, George, not ours)."But it's still fun. I enjoy it out there." "The game has changed. The biggest difference today is there are no breathers during the race. Horse carry their speed much farther than they used to, so we have to be more aggressive." And with that, Sears left one seat for another. Next up...11,000. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, August 26, 2018-Brian Sears won the 10,000th race of his more-than-distinguished harness racing career Sunday afternoon (Aug. 26th), reaching the milestone at his second home, Yonkers Raceway. Sears, as good a big-money driver as the sport has ever seen, found the plateau with death-and-taxes Chasin' Dreams ($2.30) in the $16,000, ninth-race trot. The 3-year-old Credit Winner gelding quarter-moved to the lead, then defeated Striking Encore (Jason Bartlett) by a pair of lengths in 1:57.1. After the achievement, as required by state and federal law, Sears was presented with the obligatory congratulatory sign. He began the afternoon getting win No. 9,999 with favored Top Flight Angel ($5.40)-the 2017 Yonkers Trot winner-in the $44,000 Open Handicap Trot (1:54.3). The 50-year-old Sears, a native of Fort Lauderdale, FL, has career purse earnings in excess of $186 million. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, August 20, 2018--The public figured it out Monday night (Aug. 20th) with Yonkers Raceway hosting the $160,400 New York Sire Stakes Michael Sorentino Trot for 2-year-old colts and geldings. A pair of $80,200 events led to a pair of winning favorites. The opening division saw Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, $3) mock both an eight-hole and seven outclassed foes, an as-he-pleased 4¼-length win in 1:57.3 Away fourth early, Gimpanzee went up and over early (:28.3, :59.2) leader Cavill Hanover (Dan Duve) before a 1:28.2 three-quarters. Gimpanzee opened 3½ lengths into the lane, then finished it off because the rules said he had to. Our White Knight (Scott Zeron) did get into second (for the fifth time), with Bazillionaire (Trond Smedshammer) third and Brady Bunch (Andy Miller)--who missed the memo at the outset--fourth. As for Gimpanzee, the son of Chapter Seven hasn't been tested thus far, winning his first four (NYSS) races by a combined 16½ lengths. Gimpanzee is trained by Marcus Melander for Delray Beach, FL, co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. The exacta paid $44, the triple returned $307 and the superfecta paid $1,467 "He's just very mature," Sears--single digits away from 10,000 career wins--said. The evening's second and final grouping was won by Chapter Fashion ($5.90), who two-moved to the lead from post position No. 7, then held sway (:29.2, 59.3, 1:29, 1:58.1). Thunder (Zeron) tried it first-up, missing three-quarters of a length, with Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) third and Xcuseme (John Stark Jr.) fourth. The other half of the field, including second-choice Keystone Cash (Jimmy Takter), all misbehaved at some juncture. For Chapter Fashion, a Chapter Seven gelding owned by Fashion Farms and trained by Jim Campbell, it was his second (consecutive) win in five '18 tries. The exacta paid $17.80, the triple paid $45.20 and the superfecta paid $438. "He seemed to get around the track alright," Bartlett said. "There was some movement, but we weren't going very fast." New York Sire Stakes continue here Friday night (Aug. 24th), with the $156,000 Jim Crawford Pace for 2-year-old colts/geldings. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, August 19, 2018--It's a froshfest Monday night (Aug. 20th), with Yonkers Raceway hosting the $160,400 New York Sire Stakes Michael Sorentino Trot for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Post time for the dozen-race card is 6:50 PM, with the pair of $80,200 statebred events going as races 6 and 8. The opening division finds Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, post 8) eying a fourth sire stakes win in as many starts. The son of Chapter Seven hasn't been tested thus far, winning those first three races by a combined 12¼ lengths. He hits town after a life-best 1:55.4 effort at Saratoga, a track record for that age group. Gimpanzee is trained by Marcus Melander for Delray Beach, FL, co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. Geldings Horns for Three (Jason Bartlett, post 1) and Cavill Hanover (Dan Dube, post 2) have each won twice in sire stakes competition, the latter edging the former earlier this month at Batavia. Our White Knight (Scott Zeron, post 5) has been a bridesmaid four times (with one third) in his five NYSS tries, while Brady Bunch (Andy Miller, post 7) has chased home Gimpanzee in his last couple of sire stakes efforts. The evening's second and final grouping has Thunder (Zeron, post 5) going after a third consecutive NYSS win. The son of Conway Hall, trained by John Butenschoen for co-owners Crawford Racing, Jeremey Day and VIP Internet Stable, was an off-the-pace, life-best 1:58.3 at Batavia in his latest work night. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr., post 3) has two wins and two seconds in a half-dozen seasonal starts, while Chapter Fashion (Bartlett, post 7) enters off an open stakes win in a division of the Tompkins (Tioga), a maiden-breaking 1:56.1. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

It was a busy week of stakes action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. There were big-money races held each night, with both two-year-old trotting fillies and three-year-old pacing fillies competing in both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series action. There were some scintillating performances and some head-scratching winners. And one of those stakes winners also has been doing damage in the overnight races at Pocono, making her the perfect candidate to lead off the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ATTENTION HANOVER This three-year-old filly has shown a knack for being able to win no matter what the race throws at her. She started her hot streak with a win against non-winners of two at Pocono on July 2 by going gate to wire in a career-best 1:51.2. At Harrah's for her next start, she came on with a first-over victory. On July 22 at Pocono, Attention Hanover passed four horses in the stretch for an upset win at 15-1. Finally, after a near-miss second, she scored at 8-1 with a pocket trip and rally in a condition group on August 5. That meant she rode into Sunday night's $20,000 Stallion Series races for three-year-old pacing fillies with wins in four of her last five races, all coming in unique fashion. As the even-money favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven, she sat the pocket seat once again, this time behind pacesetting Butchie Beach. Driver Eric Carlson then made the crucial decision to tip Attention Hanover to the outside late to follow the cover of the first-over mover Sandy's Beach. That proved to be a stroke of genius, because it gave Attention Hanover the opportunity to rally. Instead of getting blocked behind a faltering horse, the filly was able to spin off the cover and overtake Sandy's Beach for a victory by 1 ½ lengths in 1:51.2, which was the fastest of the three Stallion Series splits that night. Her win gives Attention Hanover victories in five of her last six starts, each one of them unique unto itself but still building toward her overall excellent record. Other top pacers this week include: Hallie's Comet (Pal LaChance driver and trainer), who rallied from off the pace for a second consecutive condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51.3; Sea's Ideal (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who churned through sloppy conditions on Monday night to pick up her second straight claiming victory in a career-best 1:51.4; and Rock Absorber (George Napolitano Jr., Brandon Todd), whose victory in a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:50.2 not only matched a career mark but also was the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ABC MUSCLES BOY One of the reasons that Rene Allard has been the top trainer for several years running at Pocono is because his horses never stay down for too long. They may suffer slumps at some point during the meet, but they generally rally from those slumps, right the ship and come back hotter than ever. Case in point: ABC Muscles Boy. The seven-year-old gelding had always been a solid performer in the past, but he started his 2018 season off with five straight finishes out of the money. On August 6, he was dropped into our lowest condition group. Needing the boost of confidence that comes with victory, ABC Muscles Boy responded with a solid win, handling the field by eight lengths in a sharp time of 1:54.3. Riding high once again, he moved up into the $11,000 condition trotting group on Monday night. Recognizing his potential, the bettors made him a 3-5 favorite even with the move up in class. Leaving from post position #6 in a field of eight, ABC Muscles Boy was sent right to the front end by driver Brian Sears. Even in a torrential downpour and extremely sloppy conditions, he held the lead with little concern. By the time the stretch rolled around, he was once again well ahead of his competition, coasting home for the victory in 1:55.2. It looks like we have another Allard trainee moving back up the ladder, his slump long since a thing of the past. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: I'm Your Captain (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), who followed up back-to-back wins at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who tore it up for a condition win on Sunday night in 1:53.1, matching the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Beautiful Sin (Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter), whose winning time of 1:56.3 was the fastest of three divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies held on Monday night in the slop. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RIPROY There were a bunch of long shots that scored on Saturday night, but this pacer driven by Tom Jackson topped them all, winning a claiming handicap at 55-1 and paying off $117 on a $2 win ticket. (Correction from last week: In last week's column, I misidentified the Long Shot of the Week. The honor should have gone to Mandela Blue Chip. My apologies for the mistake.) DRIVER OF THE WEEK: BRIAN SEARS Sears makes occasional appearances at Pocono on stakes nights, and he made the most of a visit on Monday, scoring five victories, including a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win with Swizzle Sticks. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIM CAMPBELL Campbell won a Sire Stakes on Saturday night with three-year-old pacing filly Alexa's Power, and then scored another on Monday night with two-year-old trotting filly Swizzle Sticks. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Down

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