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YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 22, 2017 - All About Madi (Brian Sears, $11) made the lead and that was that Friday night (Sept. 22nd), winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $50,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. In a race with not much speed, it was a two-speed number. 'Madi,' from post position No. 5, worked around pole-sitting Jag Out (George Brennan), grabbing the baton before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile. She then rated a :30.1 next substation (:57.4 half). Call Me Queen Be (Jim Marohn Jr.) was away third at the 11-10 choice, but didn't get off the cones as Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton) made her second move. That one towed HP Sissy (Dan Dube) into it going toward the 1:25.2 three-quarters. Off those intervals, All About Madi should have had something in reserve, and she did. Taking a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane, 'Madi' held off Jag Out by a three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3. 'Sissy' was third, with a from-last 47-1 outsider Newborn Sassy (Tyler Buter) and 'Queen Be' settling for the remainder. For third choice All About Madi, a 4-year-old daughter of Brandon's Cowboy owned and trained by Brittany Robertson, it was her eighth win (third consecutive) in 25 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $44.80, with the triple returning $230.50. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Sept. 23rd) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $2,426.47. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 15, 2017- All About Madi (Brian Sears, $9.60) wedged into an early pocket and it served her well Friday night (Sept. 15th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $50,000 harness racing filly and mare 'Open Handicap Pace'. In play from post position No. 3, 'Madi' had some company, including pole-assigned, 19-1 number Acefourtyfour Alex (Brent Holland) and 3-2 fave Regil Elektra (Jason Bartlett). All About Madi used some discretion-along with a vacant two-hole-to take a seat, while Regil Elektra found herself hung to dry by the longshot from the inside. Intervals of :26.4, :55.2 and 1:23.4 finished off Regil Elektra, but Acefourtyfour Alex continued her advantage. She owned a length-and-quarter lead into the lane, but faltered late. All About Madi moved inside and whipped a ground-saving Betabcool N (Eric Goodell) by a neck in 1:53.2. The latter edged the pace-setter for second, with Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton) and Venus Delight (Joe Bongiorno) rounding out the payees. Regil Elektra faded to sixth. For third choice All About Madi, a 4-year-old daughter of Brandon's Cowboy owned and trained by Brittany Robertson, it was her seventh win in 24 seasonal starts (first try in local femme feature). The exacta paid $164, the triple returned $729 and the superfecta paid $5,787. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Sept. 16th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $2,484.90.   The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

Columbus, OH --- After Rockin Ron (Matt Kakaley) blew by Mel Mara (Dave Palone) like the 2-1 public selection was standing still it appeared the harness racing  trophy for the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial would clearly belong to his connections. McWicked, however, had other plans as he and Brian Sears unleashed a scintillating rally through the passing lane to score by a neck in 1:49.3 on Saturday (Sept. 9) at Eldorado Scioto Downs. “I won the 3-year-old Breeders Crown championship with this horse,” said Sears. “You have to ask him a little more than you used to when he was younger but he still has that speed.” As expected speedster Luck Be Withyou (post five, Aaron Merriman) immediately left the gate to take command. After leading the field of 10 swift older pacers through an opening quarter-mile in :26.1, Palone gave Mel Mara his cue and the stallion responded with a first-over move to take the lead through a half-mile in :54.2. The world champion’s stint on top would be short lived as Rockin Ron was loaded with pace and overhauled Mel Mara from fourth in a flash shortly before 1:21.3 for the three-quarters was posted on the board. In a moment Rockin Ron (9-2) not only passed Mel Mara but left him completely in his wake by several lengths. As the field strode toward the final turn, it seemed Rockin Ron was going to collect an emphatic victory, as Check Six (Chris Page), Boston Red Rocks (Josh Sutton) and McWicked all had plenty of work to do from sixth, third and fourth, respectively. As Rockin Ron disposed of Check Six and Boston Red Rocks, McWicked was winding up along the inside and gaining on the leader with every inch. As Sears urged him on, the 6-year-old stallion edged past Rockin Ron with a :27.2 final panel to annex the race. Rockin Ron held for second while Boston Red Rocks and Check Six dead-heated for third place. Owned by Ed James and conditioned by Casie Coleman, 2014 Dan Patch Award winner McWicked boosted his career bankroll past the $2 million mark and collected the 22nd win of his 68-race career. The stallion suffered from breathing problems as a 4-year-old which caused him to miss nearly all of the 2015 season and abbreviated his campaign last year. In 2017, McWicked has compiled a record of 21-7-3-2 after those issues were rectified. “Casie has trained him on and off throughout his career and she has really done a great job with him,” Sears, who also won the Jug Preview with Downbytheseaside earlier on the card, said. “I’m just very happy I received the opportunity to drive him tonight and that I was able to win with him again.” Introduced in 2013, the race honors the late Jim Ewart, who was the race secretary at Scioto Downs from 1976 through 2002. Ewart, who worked as a race secretary at 18 different tracks in North America, plus Australia and New Zealand, died in 2012. by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

Yonkers, NY --- World champion Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears) withstood a late charge from two rivals to win the $540,000 Messenger Stake final for harness racing 3-year-old colt pacers in 1:52.1 on Saturday night (Sept. 2) at Yonkers Raceway by a nose. Sears completed the Messenger/Yonkers Trot double when he steered Top Flight Angel to victory by the very same margin in the aforementioned contest later on a card that also included the Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud Pace. Downbytheseaside and Sears got away from the gate to make the lead just past the :27.1 first quarter, with Blood Line (Mark MacDonald) tucked in behind. Those two led the field to the half in :56 and to the three-quarters in 1:24.1. They were still on top at the head of the stretch but a charge was developing from horses on both sides. Art Scene (Jordan Stratton) came charging on the inside late and was second and Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) was third on his outside. Downbyheseaside held them off to win by a nose. Downbytheseaside is owned by Country Club Acres, Sbrocco, Lombardo and Diamond Creek Farm; he’s trained by Brian Brown. “It’s a little different trip tonight,” said Sears. “He had the seven hole tonight so he had to do some decent work early. It’s a battle every week and there was a lot of speed in the race.” The win price was $2.10 on the 1-9 shot, there was no place or show wagering.  The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Sprig Hanover improved his 2017 record to 12-8-1-2 and became the sport's latest millionaire with the victory. Downbytheseaside Yonkers Trot Top Flight Angel (Brian Sears) was a nose the best in the $580,000 Yonkers Trot in 1:56.3 for 3-year-olds. Devious Man and Andy Miller got away with the lead off the gate to hit the quarter mile mark in :28.4 and held that lead to the :58.4 half, with Yes Mickey (Ake Svanstadt) along the rail in second racing with a new Murphy Blind on the left side and Top Flight Angel in third. Devious Man was still on the lead at the 1:27.3 three-quarters, but there was a gathering storm behind him, with both Yes Mickey along the inside and Top Flight Angel on the outside. In the end it was a win by a nose for Top Flight Angel over Yes Mickey, with Devious Man in third. The win earns Top Flight Angel an automatic invitation for the Yonkers International, to be held Oct. 14 and improved his seasonal slate to 12-3-1-3. Top Flight Angel by Archangel is owned by Legendary Standardbred Farm of New York and trained by Julie Miller. “I was hoping Brian could get out of there from the two-hole,” said Miller. “It’s a huge accomplishment, Andy [her husband] and I work very hard and I’m glad Brian got it done.” “It wasn’t the way we drew it up but we got out of there the best we could,” said Sears. “I sat as long as I could but by the three-quarter pole, I was pretty happy. The horse went a great mile tonight.” Also part of the evening's events were the Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud Pace. Top Flight Angel Hudson Filly Trot Celebrity Ruth and driver Jason Bartlett took the direct route to the winners circle to win the $119,010 Hudson Filly Trot in wire to wire fashion by a 1-3/4 lengths in 1:56.3 on Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway.  Celebrity Ruth and Bartrlett hit every fraction on top,:28.1 to the quarter, :58.2 to the half and 1:27.2 to the three-quarters. In the last turn, Sunshine Delight and driver Brian Sears were poised on the outside of the eventual winner but that one went on a break and lost all chance. Chapter Too (Jeff Gregory) was along the rail behind the leader and held that position to the wire. Mamora Bay was third.  “Any size track fits her and last week we were disappointed in her race [she was fifth by three lengths in the Zweig filly race] but come to find out after the race she tied up,” said Bartlett. “So that’s the reason why she didn’t win last week. I’ve got to thank Trond, he drives most of the horses he trains, so I have to thank him for that.”  Celebrity Ruth by Archangel is trained by Trond Smedshammer and owned by White Birch Farm.  Celebrity Ruth Lady Maud Pace The $113,880 Lady Maud for 3-year-old trotting fillies was won by a nose in 1:54 by World Apart and Jason Bartlett on Saturday at Yonkers Raceway. The track was rated good after a steady rain earlier in the night.  World Apart charged out of the gate to briefly get the lead before being overtaken past the :27.1 quarter mile mark by Angel’s Pride (Matt Kakaley), who held the lead through the :56.1 half and the 1:24.3 three-quarters. As the field turned to the homestretch, Bartlett had World Apart off the rail and pressuring Angel’s Pride all the way down the stretch until she finally got a nose in front for the win. Angels Pride was second and Robin J was third.  World Apart by Art Major is owned by South Mountain Stables, Bay’s Stable, Little E Stable and Radio Racing Stable. Linda Toscano is the trainer.   Ella Christina was a late judges scratch in the race. It was announced that the scratch was due to a fall on the track scoring down prior to the race.  World Apart by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications 

YONKERS, N.Y. - After sitting behind Downbytheseaside in his 8 1/2-length romp in the Messenger Stakes Elimination at Yonkers Raceway last week, harness racing driver Brian Sears likes the way the 3-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere is coming into the $500,000 Final and second leg of the Pacing Triple Crown Saturday night. Sears drove Downbytheseaside through a :56.0 half last week and was a passenger as Downbytheseaside opened 6 lengths racing into the lane and powered away with a :27.2 final quarter. “He really did that under his own. I never even asked him. He just knew it was time to pick it up and that was all without asking. He’s a really nice horse and he’s getting better and better about his manners. Hopefully he keeps progressing.” Sears will drive Downbytheseaside for the eighth straight time in Saturday’s Messenger Final, the fourth race on a stakes-laden card. The newly anointed hall of famer is happy with the progress Downbytheseaside has made since he picked up the drive in the North America Cup at Mohawk June 17. “A couple weeks ago, he sat in behind a :56.0 pace,” Sears said. “I don’t know if he could have done that before or he wasn’t really willing to do that. He would get a little bully when he wanted to go and you had to pretty much be on the move with him at that point. He seems to be working with me a little bit.” Downbytheseaside showed all the fire Sears described in the North America Cup. After Sears placed him in fourth behind a :25.2 opening quarter, Downbytheseaside dictated his own terms and followed Fillibuster Hanover’s brush to the lead. Downbytheseaside paced through a half in :52.1 and 6 furlongs in 1:19.3 before finishing third to stablemate Fear The Dragon beaten 3 3/4 lengths. “I dropped a horse in front of me and then he ended up pulling back out,” Sears said. “Going to the half a hundred, and he actually took me, which was not what I was expecting. They were :52.1 at the half and that just shows the kind of speed this horse has. He hung in there very gamely I’d have to say for those numbers.” Sears drove Downbytheseaside to a win in an elimination of the Max Hempt, a fifth in the final, a second in the Meadowlands Pace, and a third in the Cane Pace before the Brian Brown trainee made his way to Northfield Park for the Carl Milstein Memorial August 12. There, Downbytheseaside got back on a half-mile track, a trip he hasn’t lost on in five tries. “He’s just a really athletic horse with an efficient gait,” Sears said. “I don’t know what it is about him that makes him so comfortable over the half-mile track. It was an incredible mile he went a couple weeks ago at Northfield.” Downbytheseaside raced 3 lengths behind a :56.0 half set by Fear The Dragon in the Milstein. Sears pulled first-over with just over a lap to go and Downbytheseaside glided up alongside Fear The Dragon through a :26.3 third panel. “The horse, he came out of the hole pretty relaxed. He knew it was time to do some work, but he really didn’t try to overdo it,” Sears recalled. “Although we were pacing sub 27-second quarters, it was just amazing how easily they were doing it, both horses, getting over the ground. We were side by side and going into the last turn, I saw Dave call on his horse and I was thinking, ‘he might need a little more than that.’ I still felt really good.” David Miller popped the plugs on Fear The Dragon and reminded him with the whip on the final turn. With Sears motionless in the sulky and the whip dangling over his shoulder, Downbytheseaside put a nose in front of Fear The Dragon at the furlong pole. In the final strides, Downbytheseaside extended and paced away from Fear The Dragon on his own to win by a length in a track record 1:49.3. He paced a :26.4 final quarter. “That’s one thing, that’s the type of horse he is. He’s going to give it to you, what he’s got,” Sears said. “He’ll empty the tank for you. My job is just to try and keep him relaxed and confident and let him go about his thing.” Off his elimination win, Downbytheseaside drew post seven in the Messenger Stakes Final, a race Sears won by open lengths with 1-2 favorite Always A Virgin in 2007. Downtheseaside is a 9-5 morning line favorite, but could be closer to those odds come post time. Geers winner Mac’s Jackpot, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winner Summer Side, Empire Breeders’ Classic runner up Miso Fast, Empire Breeders’ Classic Elimination winner and Messenger Elimination runner up Art Scene, New York Sire Stakes winner Funknwaffles, and Messenger Elimination third place finisher Blood Line will start inside Downbytheseaside. Henry The Dragon drew post eight. “I’m not thrilled with the seven hole. I’m not thrilled and there’s a little bit of speed in the race. He’s the class of the field and I think he’ll be able to overcome it,” Sears said.“How many horses are going to be using their early speed and the fact that I have to be going forward off the gate and try and not be too far back. I’m really not looking to have any road trouble.” The Messenger Stakes Final is one of four stakes on the card Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway. The card also features the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, $113,880 Lady Maud Pace, and the $119,010 Hudson Trot. First post time is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Fear The Dragon entered Saturday's $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park as harness racing's top-ranked horse. Everything looked to be going his way. He drew the rail, was the overwhelming favorite and posted soft fractions. However, Downbytheseaside paced home in :26.4 despite a tough first-over trip to best Fear The Dragon by a full length. Downbytheseaside started from post-7 and sat fifth through the opening :27.1 quarter. Driver Brian Sears pulled Downbytheseaside and grinded first-up through fractions of :56 and 1:22.4. The 1:49.3 final time was a new track record for sophomore colt pacers. "I knew he was going to have a lot left with those soft fractions," stated Sears. "I didn't want to have a speed duel." The duel came in the final quarter when Downbytheseaside drew alongside Fear The Dragon, eventually wearing him down in the stretch, returning $11.60 to win. "He put in a great effort and every time I called on him he gave more," said Sears. Brian Brown trains both colts at the historic Delaware County Fairgrounds. "I am thrilled this horse raced the way that he did and got there," said Brown. "It wasn't like Fear The Dragon raced bad." Downbytheseaside Finishing behind Downbytheseaside were Fear The Dragon, Classic Pro, Blood Line, Drunk On Your Love, Rock N Tony, R J P and Bags To Riches. Saturday's stablemate duel was intense and trainer Brian Brown indicated that the colts will meet again in September in the Little Brown Jug. Ayers Ratliff

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, July 30, 2017 -- He's obviously slowing down. Harness racing favored Homicide Hunter (Brian Sears, $5.50), after waltzing through last week's mile-and-a-quarter in 2:24.3, needed a full fifth of a second more this time around. Other than that alarming loss of alacrity, not much changed for the people's preference Sunday afternoon (July 30th) en route to winning Yonkers Raceway's $68,000 Open Handicap Trot. From an assigned eight-hole in the field of 11 (scheduled '12-holer' Springbank Sam N came up lame and was a pre-race day scratch), Homicide Hunter's job was a bit easier at the outset. Luminosity (George Brennan) and Centurion ATM (Dan Dube) both mamboed their way out of contention. Lone lass Celebrity Eventsy (Shristian Lind) made the first lead, yielding to Rubber Duck (Joe Bongiorno). The one gave up the baton to Homicide Hunter after a :28.4 opening quarter-mile. As was the case a week ago, no ensuing issues at all (:58, 1:27.4, mile in 1:56.1) for the eventual winner. Homicide Hunter owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane before whipping Rubber Duck by 2¾ lengths. Fashion Creditor (Eric Goodell), Taco Tuesday (Jordan Stratton) and Smalltownthrowdown (Jason Bartlett) settled for the minors. For Homicide Hunter, a 5-year-old Mr. Cantab gelding owned by Crawford Farms Racing and trained by Chris Oakes, it was his fifth win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $22, with the triple returning $175.50. Sunday's installment of the 'New York, New York Double' offered a winning combination of 4-Dunk a Din (Saratoga's 3rd race) and 2-Take My Picture (Yonkers' 10th race) paid $10.20 for every correct $1 wager. Total pool was $3,725. Note the Raceway's post time next Sunday (Aug. 6th) is 12:30 PM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, July 23, 2017 - Homicide Hunter (Brian Sears, $6.10) who missed a hard-charging head a week ago, had no such angst this time around, winning Sunday afternoon's (July 23rd), Yonkers Raceway's $68,000 Open Handicap Trot. The last of three early leaders, Homicide Hunter-from assigned post position No. 7 among the dozen--took over after Bueno Camino (Scott Zeron) and Springbank Sam N (Jordan Stratton) each had a spin in the big chair. Homicide Hunter, as the 2-1 wagering choice, made the lead in the second turn, between a :28.3 opening quarter-mile and :57.2 half. His ascension to the throne left Hemi Seelster (Jason Bartlett) first-up, sitting outside. Homicide Hunter (1:28.3 three-quarters, mile in 1:55.4) hade few issues thereafter, widening to 2½ lengths in the lane before 'running' away by four lengths. The mile-and-a-quarter went in a spiffy 2:24.3. Buen Camino edged Springbank Sam N for second, with Fashion Creditor (Eric Goodell) and Awsome Valley (Greg Merton) settling for the minors. Hemi Seelster, who has had success in races where he's been out every step, couldn't replicate it here, winding up last among the dozen. For Homicide Hunter, a 5-year-old Mr. Cantab gelding owned by Crawford Farms Racing and trained by Chris Oakes, it was his fourth win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $25.20, with the triple returning $94. Sunday's installment of the 'New York, New York Double' offered a winning combination of 5-Uncle Mojo (Saratoga's 3rd race) and 2-I C Caviar (Yonkers' 7th race) paid $10.70 for every correct $1 wager. Total pool was $4,231. Note the Raceway's post time next Sunday (July 30th) is 11:30 AM. (Author's aside...I C Caviar was Bartlett's 7,000th career win. Separate story/pix shortly). Frank Drucker

The Meadowlands - Harness racing Breakfast With The Babies, Pace Day edition, began at 9:30 a.m. on a windless, muggy morning with the temperature at 72 degrees.   Making his first public appearance a winning one this morning was Tactical Landing, the colt trotter who gained notice when it took a bid of $800,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale by his eponymous ownership group to buy him. Trainer Bobby Stewart has brought the physically imposing Muscle Hill brother to the great Mission Brief along purposefully with late season stakes the target and Hall of Famer Brian Sears handled him with care in his debut. The pair settled third early and sat in past the 1:32 three panels where Sears moved Tactical Landing to the outside, the colt responded by trotting strongly through the stretch in 28 seconds. Finishing second in a quality effort after setting all the fractions was Treasure Staff, who was catch driven by Jimmy Takter for trainer Ron Gurfein in an meld of Hall of Fame trotting minds. One can't help but wonder if Takter had any post-race advice for Gurf.   Trotting fillies kicked off the nine two-year-old races with Deschanel, a homebred Yankee Glide sister to D'Orsay and half-sister to International star Propulsion, winning in 1:58.2 for Dave Miller. Settled in third through the 1:29.3 three quarters, Deschanel rolled by Lindy On Tap (Domenico Cecere) when shown racetrack through the stretch. It made for a good day for her trainer Bobby Stewart who conditions the filly for Fredericka Caldwell and Bluestone Farms.   Aperfectruby won the second race in 1:58.3 converting a perfect trip from driver Scott Zeron for trainer Ron Burke. After a pair of unsuccessful tries at Harrah's the $65,000 Lexington Sale purchase by Burke, Melillo, Silva, Purnel, Libby, Weaver & Bruscemi looked safe today and edged by mile-cutter Glide Onin Sabrina (Jan Johnson) late.   Jimmy Marohn, Jr picked up the drive on Linda Toscano's Chapter Seven colt Helpisontheway and took advantage of the opportunity by mowing down the field from far back in a well-timed move. Southwind Camo (Scott Zeron) set the fractions as Maron sat patiently near the back waiting to launch Helpisontheway and when he did the colt responded beautifully through the 29.4 end to the 1:59.2 mile. Lindyinoverdrive also rallied well late for Domenico Cecere but couldn't stall the winner's bid. Toscano shares ownership of the colt as Camelot Farms with The Bay Stable.   Lindy's Big Bang (David Miller) and Make It a Double (Julie Miller) battled right to the wire in a 1:58.4 mile and could not be separated by the camera finishing in a dead heat for win. Both were in close attendance as Prince William (Zeron) cut the mile until head-stretch when Make It A Double went by from the pocket and Lindy's Big Bang closed up the inside for the tie. Lindy's Big Bang is trained by Nifty Norman for the partnership of Mel Hartman, Dave McDuffee and the driver who paid $70,000 for the Explosive Matter colt in Lexington last fall. Make It A Double ($80,000 LEX-SEL) is trained in the Julie Miller barn for Andy Miller Stable and Jason & Doug Allen.   Youaremycandygirl has the championship gene, being an American Ideal first foal of Sweet Lady Jane who is a Somebeachsomewhere sister to Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet, enough that Bill Donovan ponied up a cool $150,000 for her at Harrisburg last fall. Bill placed her in the Burke barn and she's been flawless, save for an interference break in a NYSS at Vernon last week. In her first go over the Big M, Youaremycandygirl flaunted her speed with a 1:53.2 win pacing home in 27 flat for Joe Bongiorno. Band Stand (Sears) was in close attendance throughout and held well for second.   Takter drove the pacing filly Betterthanbrie to a 1:56 / 28 win, setting all the fractions then barely holding pocket sitter Odds On Stepahnie (Zeron) at bay. The winner is a homebred from the first crop of Betterthancheddar raised and raced by Christina Takter and John Fielding.   A pair of fast colts finished together in race eight where Bodega Bay finally made it through that pesky final turn pacing for Scott Zeron and finished his 1:54 mile with a 28.1 final quarter for the win. The winner is a Brittany Farms owned Vintage Master homebred from the fast Nikki Beach who has evidenced high speed in his previous starts, if trainer Tony Alagna has solved the puzzle he'll be heard from this summer. I'm A Big Deal (Sears) wove his way through traffic to be a closing second. That one was a high dollar buy for trainer Chris Ryder and shows great promise as well.   Takter closed out the baby races with a front running 1:55.4 win aboard Thinkbig Dreambig in that Bettors Delight colt's first start. He was driven out to hold off the close Pecorino (Sears) from the pocket in a 27.3 final quarter. Thinkbig Dreambig was a $180,000 Lexington but for Brixton Medical, Fielding, Anderberg and Falk.   QUALIFIERS   Princess Aurora (Takter) and International Money (Zeron) went to the wire in tandem with the Princess prevailing in 1:53.3, final quarter in 27.4 this morning. Connections for both have made Hambletonian Day on August 5 the target date for this pair.   Takter wrapped the day up by winning in 1:56 with his returning 2015 Hambletonian winner Pinkman. After a long layoff, Pinkman is in the midst a gradual return to top form.   Tonight is Meadowlands Pace night with the signature race of the "Championship Meet" and all that comes with it.   Post time is 6:30 p.m.   Nick Salvi

YONKERS, NY, Friday, June 30, 2017 - Locally-debuting Blue Moon Stride (Brian Sears, $5.80) handled the Westchester harness racing crowd with few issues Friday night (June 30th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $55,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. The field, thorough first-half-mile raindrops, was pared to half-dozen after Call Me Queen Be (ill) and Sell a Bit N (late for Lasix) were both withdrawn. In play from position No. 4 (in once notch due to one of those defections), Blue Moon Stride worked around She'sjusadelight N (Ron Cushing), taking the lead right at a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. It was a 56-second intermission before last week's victress, Freeze Out (George Brennan), moved from fifth. That one, as the 13-10 fave, challenged the leader in and out of a 1:23.3 three-quarters before being put away. Blue Moon Stride opened couple of lengths entering lane before widening her stride to win by 3½ lengths in 1:52.2. She'sjustadelight N chased with no shot, while Freeze Out tired to third. I Deal in Kisses (Dan Dube) and Venus Delight (Brent Holland) came away with the minors, while Jewel Leigh A (Mark MacDonald) was always outrun. For second choice Blue Moon Stride, a 4-year-old daughter of Rocknroll Hanover Aussie co-owned by Emilio & Marie Rosati and trained by Mark Harder, it was her first win in 16 seasonal starts (career earnings over $760,000). The exacta paid $15.20, the triple returned $30.40 and the superfecta was refunded due to insufficient starters. A reminder regarding Saturday's (July 1st) simulcast of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby from the Curragh. Races 3 thru 8 shall be imported, with the Derby going as the 7th race (approx. post 12:20 PM ). Mutuel windows (fourth floor only) have an early 10 AM opening. Frank Drucker

They didn’t make their reputations here, but they certainly enhanced them. Thus, it’s only appropriate Yonkers Raceway salutes two of harness racing’s greats, one about to take his rightful place alongside the other. Numbers don’t begin to describe either Brian Sears or John Campbell, but try these on for size. Sears, 49, is approaching 9,800 wins to go with nearly $178 million in purses. The 62-year-old Campbell’s stats are even more ridiculous, in excess of 10,600 wins and just shy of $300 million in purses. Sears is being enshrined Sunday (July 2nd) into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame at Goshen, NY, a place where Campbell has resided since 1991. While Sears’ first career as a leading Yonkers’ regular is very much active, Campbell is readying for his next one, as president and chief executive officer of the Hambletonian Society…which hopefully brings him here quite often. The stakes wins of both men—here and elsewhere—are too numerous to mention, so it’s not surprising they have many in common. Sears is pictured hoisting the trophy after winning the 2015 Yonkers Trot with Habitat, while Campbell is seen after winning the ’14 edition with Nuncio We take this time to congratulate Messrs. Sears and Campbell, gentlemen of the first order whose accomplishments are second to none. Frank Drucker

Hall of Fame-bound harness racing driver Brian Sears plans to return from his winter hiatus next week following an extended break in North Carolina. Sears last raced Nov. 29 at Yonkers Raceway. Sears had laser eye surgery in December and expected to return to action in February, but decided to prolong his time off until April. He spent part of his break in Pinehurst, where he made trips to the local harness racing track several times a week while also enjoying the opportunity to work on his golf game. He plans to resume racing April 13 following a trip to the Masters Golf Tournament. "Everything is good," Sears said. "I'm looking forward to starting back. Too much of a good thing isn't good. But it's been fun. I've enjoyed my time." One particularly enjoyable moment came March 19 when Sears recorded a hole-in-one at the Legacy Golf Links, located near Pinehurst. It was Sears' first-ever ace. "That's one thing I accomplished this winter," Sears said with a laugh, adding, "It doesn't mean my golf game is that much better, it just means I'm playing a lot of golf. But it was cool." Sears won 301 races last year and $7.49 million in purses. His top wins came with Control The Moment in the Meadowlands Pace and Flanagan Memory in the Breeders Crown Open Trot. In September it was announced that Sears was voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame by the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Sears will be inducted July 2 in Goshen, N.Y., the home of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. For his career, Sears has won 9,715 races and $176 million in purses. He ranks 14th in North American history for wins among drivers and sixth in purses. He led the sport in earnings in 2005, with a then-record $15 million, and has finished among the top 10 in purses each of the past 13 years. Sears has driven three Horse of the Year award winners --- Rocknroll Hanover in 2005, Muscle Hill in 2009 and Bee A Magician in 2013. He has won the Hambletonian three times, with three different trainers, and is the only driver to twice win the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day. He accomplished that feat with Muscle Hill and Broadway Schooner in 2009 and again with Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician in 2013. The 49-year-old Sears received the 2009 Driver of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association and was the 1991 Rising Star Award recipient from the same organization. Ken Weingartner

Harness racing's newest inductees to the Hall of Fame, driver Brian Sears and communicator Steve Wolf, will be the special guests on the top Thoroughbred radio show in south Florida Wednesday afternoon, It's Post Time With JJ Gracie. The program gets underway on the internet at 3:00 pm at www.wdbfradio.com. It's Post Time With JJ Graci takes place seven days a week, live on Thursday from the studio and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday they are on location at Gulfstream Park. The show features sessions about the horse racing industry, including harness racing, handicapping, live race calls, trivia with prizes, and great guests! Sears, a south Florida native and graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School, won his first race at age 16 at Pompano Park and hails from three generations of harness horsemen. Both his grandfather, Gene, and father, Jay, are inducted in the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Currently, Sears has amassed 9,714 driving wins, purse earnings of more than $176,000,000 and has a very impressive career UDR of .329. Wolf has been living for 17 years in south Florida. Starting out as an owner/breeder in 1977 with his father, Manny, and their Leo Wolf & Son Stable, he was the Director of Racing Operations at the Isle Pompano Park for nine years and is now a horse racing consultant. "I really like and appreciate harness racing," said JJ Graci, "and it will be great to have two of the sports newest inductees to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame on our show Wednesday." You can follow It's Post Time With JJ Graci on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Its-Post-Time-with-JJ-Graci-227868714000411/?fref=ts. From It's Post Time With JJ Graci      

TORONTO, November 19 – Sent off the 5-2 second choice, Magic Presto sat a pocket trip to 3-5 favorite Princess Aurora before edging off the pylons in the stretch and sweeping to a 1:55.4 harness racing victory in the $447,000 Goldsmith Maid Final Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack. Brian Sears guided Richard “Nifty” Norman trainee Magic Presto to the front before the first turn, with Temple Ruins tucking into second and Princess Aurora into third. After a :29.1 quarter, Princess Aurora pursued the front and struggled to clear to command. She managed to take the front before trotting a :58.1 half. Maintaining control through a 1:26.3 third-quarter, Princess Aurora was soon braced by Magic Presto emerging from the pocket. Within a matter of strides, Magic Presto trotted to the lead and clear of Princess Aurora to win by three and a quarter lengths. Temple Ruins chased the two for third and Cameron Hill finished fourth. Winning her fourth race in nine starts this season, Magic Presto, a two-year-old trotting filly by Kadabra from the Muscles Yankee mare In The Mean Time, returned $7.10 to win. “It’s a good way to end the year,” Norman said following the victory. “She gets put away in good shape and I think she’ll be a good filly next year.” Magic Presto finishes her rookie season with of $393,049 for owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee, and Little E LLC and could’ve made more had it not been for a sickness last month. “Brian [Sears] actually hasn’t driven her when she’s been at her best,” noted Norman. “She had some sickness troubles during the [Ontario Sires Stakes] Super Final and the Breeders Crown, but we assured [Brian] that she was on the way back and she qualified good, so he came up. “It was a shame she got sick for the Super Final. We tried to get her healthy, and she got healthy for the Breeders Crown, but she really wasn’t fit enough and it didn’t pay off. We got paid tonight, so it worked out good.” by Ray Cotolo for WEG Communications

East Rutherford, N.J. -- Flanagan Memory and harness racing driver Brian Sears flushed out heavily favored Resolve past the half and then just waited their turn to wear down the field to win the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot in 1:52.1 by a length on Friday at The Meadowlands. Flanagan Memory is trained by Rene Dion and co-owned by him with Liette Flanagan. Windsun Revenge (Scott Zeron) was first to the lead in :27, with Crazy Wow in second and 1-5 favorite Resolve behind JL Cruze, who was third. Past the first quarter, Sears was on the move from sixth with Flanagan Memory, which caused trainer/drive Ãke Svanstedt to tip off the rail and head for the lead. At the :55.3 half, Windsun Revenge was still on the lead, with Crazy Wow in second and Resolve looking to pass him on the outside. Resolve was second on the outside to Windsun Revenge by the 1:23.2 three quarters. When the field straightened for home, Yannick Gingras was moving for the lead on the rail with Crazy Wow, while Svanstedt and Resolve briefly got a nose in front of the field before Brian Sears and Flanagan Memory trotted fastest of all to the wire. Resolve held for second and JL Cruze was third. "We got a nice trip tonight with him," said Sears. "We got to follow Resolve halfway down the lane so it worked well. The horse has been racing really good and Rene and Susie (Kerwood, his caretaker) really deserve it, they've done a great job with the horse, really awesome. It was a really big effort in the International Trot two weeks ago (he was third). He came out of it good and to finish third with the overland trip he got and still coming at the wire. This horse, he likes to pick them up late. He's a solid horse, he's a contender, always going forward at the wire." by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications    

YONKERS, NY, Friday, October 21, 2016 - A from-last Mach it a Par and harness racing driver Brian Sears swept away her sorority sisters Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $45,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. It was a repeat performance for Mach it a Par, who cut the mile a week ago. Here, remanded behind the eight-ball (though in one notch after a inside defection), she saw polester Southwind Roulette (George Brennan) either seat 'em or park 'em. Hung for their troubles were Lispatty (Mark MacDonald) and Purrfect Bags (Jordan Stratton), while Jungle Genie N (Brent Holland) was pocketed. After early intervals of :26.2 and :55.4, 13-10 choice Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett) launched a wide bid going toward a 1:24 three-quarters. She couldn't sustain it, however, as 'Roulette' maintained a tenuous lead into the lane. Enter Mach it a Par, who was last at three-quarters and fifth in and out of the final turn. She rallied widest and fastest, going away by 2½ lengths in 1:52.3. Jungle Genie N closed inside for second, with Moma's Got a Gun (Tyler Buter), Southwind Roulette and Krispy Apple settled for the remainder. For second choice Mach it a Par, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three co-owned by D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, T L P & Gandolfo Stables and trained by Rich Banca, it was her 11th win in 33 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $94, with the triple returning $667. Frank Drucker

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