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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, May 25, 2019--As a yearling, Bettor's Wish sold for all of $20,000. "But he's not a $20,000 horse anymore." So said harness racing co-owner and trainer Chris Ryder Saturday night (May 25th) after his charge--and driver Dexter Dunn--made short work of Yonkers Raceway's $300,000 Art Rooney Pace. It was Kiwis on Parade during a cool and windy Westchester evening. The 29th Rooney, for 3-year-old colts and geldings (actually, it's an open event, but why quibble?), turned into a romp for the odds-on ($3.70) choice. One of the last week's two elimination winners, Bettor's Wish drew post position No. 6 in the finale. He found himself three-wide early, outside of Captain Malicious (Mark MacDonald) and Buddy Hill (Brian Sears) and inside of Blood Money (Scott Zeron). Blood Money made the lead before a 27-second opening quarter-mile, then a :55.4 intermission. Going down the backside the second time, Rollwithpapajoe (Joe Bongiorno) was advancing out of fifth before he broke stride. That allowed Buddy Hill a path out of third, and he was about to leave the cones, Bettor's Wish extricated himself from the pocket. The one disposed of Blood Money soon after a 1:24.1 three-quarters, preparing to bust the race wide open. Bettor's Wish slapped three lengths on his rivals in and out of the final turn, then ran it up. The final margin was a half-dozen lengths in a season's-best 1:51.4. Second went to Branquinho (Tyler Buter), while Air Force Hanover (Dave Miller) was third. That tandem offered solid closes, especially 'Air Force,' the faster (1:52.4) elim winner who was stuck behind the eight-ball here. Buddy Hill and Blood Money picked off the remainder, while Captain Malicious--uncoupled stablemate of the runner-up--Price Hanover (Dan Dube) and he misbehaving Rollwithpapajoe completed the order. For Bettor's Wish, a Bettor's Delight colt also co-owned by Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm and Kenneth Solomon, he's won all three of his seasonal starts ($180,000). The exacta paid $24, the triple returned $242.50 and the superfecta paid $1,138. "I thought if I stayed in here I could get stuck in a two-hole trip," Dunn said. "It was pretty intense going in the first turn. We'd done a bit of work, but he travelled really good past the half. I decided to pop (before the three-quarters). It could've been a bad move, but the horse pulled through." "When I first qualified him, I thought he was a very good horse," Ryder said. "I drove him and he won the race, but broke a hopple. "I knew tonight was a real test. He didn't have the best of posts, but I figured if he's the best he'll get there one way or the other. I'm very thankful of the way Dexter drove him. "This wasn't an easy race for a driver and he did a great job." Ryder said Bettor's Wish is off to the North America Cup. For his part, Dunn finished off a helluva week, which began by winning last Sunday's (May 19th) Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs with Done Well. Saturday night's pair of $44,000 Open Handicaps were won by... --Trot--Weslynn Dancer (Zeron, $5.80) in 1:54.4, --Pace--Micky Gee N (Jordan Stratton, $3.80) in 1:52.2. The Raceway now takes a hiatus until Friday night, June 7th.   Frank Drucker Director of Publicity

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Chris Ryder pulled up his entries Monday evening and saw that Bettor’s Wish drew post six in the $300,000 Art Rooney Final, the harness racing trainer was dismayed. However, the isolated snippet of Bettor’s Wish’s post position didn’t tell the whole story. After Ryder saw the full field, he was intrigued. “When I saw I had the six hole on my USTA entry line, the full field wasn’t there, it just showed my horse having the six hole, I thought, ‘here we go again with a bad draw in the final, as usual,’ ” Ryder said. “But then when the full field came out and I saw the good ones were outside of me, I thought, ‘well, maybe it’s not so bad.’ When you have the six hole at Yonkers, the good thing about that is it’s not the seven and it’s not the eight. I think it’s very interesting. It’s definitely opened up the race.” Bettor’s Wish drew inside fellow Rooney elimination winner Air Force Hanover, who will start from post eight in the open-draw stakes. Blood Money, the runner-up to Bettor’s Wish last week, will start from post seven.  “I’m sure there’s going to be action in this race,” Ryder said. “It’s going to be a very interesting race. I think it’s a driver’s race.” Although Bettor’s Wish figures to be at the forefront of the action, the colt initially wasn’t eligible to the race. A $20,000 buy from the 2017 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Bettor’s Wish didn’t stand out as a yearling or a 2-year-old and had limited stakes engagements, primarily in Canada. “We bought him off of Brittany Farm,” Ryder remembered. “I liked his video before I went to the sale, I liked his pedigree page. When I saw him, he was a bit small, but that didn’t really put me off. “He didn’t particularly stand out,” Ryder continued. “He’s always trained well, but did he really stand out? Not completely. But he qualified well straight away at Chester. Even now, you wouldn’t know he’s in the barn. He’s really quiet, he’s not a flashy colt. He just does everything pretty well.” After starting his career with a pair of qualifiers at Harrah’s Philadelphia last June, Ryder sent Bettor’s Wish to Chantal Mitchell in Canada. The colt won on debut in a Mohawk overnight July 5 before placing in two Ontario Sire Stakes legs in the following weeks. Bettor’s Wish won an elimination of the Battle of Waterloo at Grand River and was second in the final before notching a victory in OSS August 15.  After a pair of placings in Kentucky Sire Stakes and a fourth in the final, Bettor’s Wish shipped back to Ontario, earning another win and finishing second in the Gold Final to cap his freshman season. Ryder gave Bettor’s Wish a break before he returned to the barn to train down for his 3-year-old season. The colt had started to grow up and he made a good impression. “He’s grown up a little bit, he’s physically filled out. He’s still not a big horse, but he’s big enough,” Ryder said. “We gave him six weeks out in the field, left him alone completely. We trained him down normally. We were happy with him training back. He just trained really well.” Ryder was so pleased with Bettor’s Wish, that when the February 15 deadline came to supplement the colt to the Art Rooney Pace, he pulled the trigger and paid the $6,000 fee, favoring the Hilltop stakes over an OSS leg. “When I was doing the staking, I noticed there was a supplement to the Rooney,” Ryder said. “I saw it was available and I thought, ‘you know what, we might as well take a shot.’ It’s $300,000 instead of $80,000 or $90,000 Canadian on the same day. So, we opted to cough up the extra $6,000 to make him eligible.” After a qualifying win in 1:53.3 April 16 at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Ryder brought Bettor’s Wish to Yonkers to test the waters in a $20,000 overnight April 29. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, Bettor’s Wish raced in the pocket, but driver Dexter Dunn edged him to the outside with five-sixteenths to pace. He advanced alongside leader Twin B Tuffenuff passing the three-quarters and extended through the stretch, winning by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:52.0. "Obviously, I brought him to Yonkers to race him in that overnight race specifically because we were going to the Rooney,” Ryder commented. “He’s been on a half in Canada in the Battle of Waterloo and he handled it, so that made it easier to supplement.” Seeing that Bettor’s Wish was ready for the Rooney eliminations May 18, Ryder opted to qualify the 3-year-old at the Meadowlands May 11 rather than race again. Bettor’s Wish then cruised in his elimination, scoring a gate-to-wire win in 1:53.2 with a :27.1 final quarter. “We just went to the Meadowlands to qualify because I really didn’t think he needed a race,” Ryder said. “He was ready, just qualified him wanting to keep him fresh. That’s all he needed, particularly when you have an elimination and a final. “I was really happy with his elimination,” Ryder continued. “I was happy with the way he got away from the gate and happy with the way he finished. It wasn’t a particularly tough race, which I was pleased about. You’d rather have an easier race than a tougher race with the final coming up. The driver was happy and I think the horse is happy.” Entering the final Saturday night (May 25), Bettor’s Wish is 7-for-14 for Bella Racing Ltd., Fair Island Farm, and Ken Solomon, who own in partnership with Ryder. Dexter Dunn, who has driven Bettor’s Wish in each start so far this year, will take the lines again. Ryder is happy to be paired with the New Zealand transplant. “He’s been dedicated to driving since he was a little fellow, and he’s always been good at it. I’m not surprised to see him doing as well as he is. And I’m very happy to have Dexter on the horse,” Ryder said. “His father was a good friend of mine growing up. I kind of encouraged him to come over here. It’s not an easy decision for the guy who’s the leading driver in New Zealand to come somewhere where you might struggle for a few years. He’s done extremely well.” The full field for the $300,000 Art Rooney Final is listed below. 1 – Captain Malicious – Mark MacDonald – Ray Schnittker – 8-1 2 – Rollwithpapajoe – Joe Bongiorno – Jenn Bongiorno – 7-1 3 – Branquinho – Tyler Buter – Ray Schnittker – 7-1 4 – Buddy Hill – Brian Sears – Marcus Melander – 6-1 5 – Price Hanover – Dan Dube – Tom Cancelliere – 12-1 6 – Bettor’s Wish – Dexter Dunn – Chris Ryder – 7-2 7 – Blood Money – Scott Zeron – Nancy Johansson – 5-2 8 – Air Force Hanover – David Miller – Brian Brown – 5-1 Saturday night’s card also features the $109,234 Lismore Final, along with the regular $44,000 pacing and trotting co-features.  First post time is 6:50 p.m. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. For entries to the races, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

CHESTER PA - Warrawee Ubeaut, the harness racing filly who became the fastest two-year-old of all time when she won in 1:48.3 en route to her 2018 divisional championship, makes her seasonal debut Friday at Harrah's Philadelphia in what will also be the first 2019 racing in the rich Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program. There will be two $83,240 divisions of Sire Stakes three-year-old pacing fillies, while their Stallion Series counterparts will contest $20,000 in each of five divisions. The Sweet Lou filly Warrawee Ubeaut, to start from post seven in her Sire Stakes section for driver Yannick Gingras and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Phil Collura, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, is one of six fillies trainer Ron Burke has entered in the Sire Stakes, and he'll have three going in each division. Warrawee Ubeaut, who also was the richest freshman in 2018 North American harness racing with $646,995 in earnings, won her Breeders Crown event last year, one of her seven victories on the campaign; another was the historic world record at Lexington, where she came home in :53.2. Warrawee Ubeaut has had two qualifying preps at The Meadowlands for her sophomore campaign, both times winning in 1:53.2. The champion's main rival in this event may be the Somebeachsomewhere filly Stonebridge Soul, who won her last two starts as a freshman in stakes company, then returned last week for trainer Chris Ryder and driver Dexter Dunn by winning at Philly in 1:53.1, with twin :27.3s coming home. Taking a shot at "the big girls" is another daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Trillions Hanover, the winner of her 2018 Stallion Series Championship and also victorious in her first start of the year in 1:52.3 at The Meadowlands for trainer Tom Fanning. In the second Sire Stakes division, starting from the rail will be Sylph Hanover, another Burke trainee who was a 13-1 upset winner in her Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship last season in 1:51.4. Matt Kakaley is the regular driver of the Somebeachsomewhere filly for Burke Racing LLC, William Switala, James Martin, and Joseph Critelli, and he was in the sulky when "Sylph" added the Matron Pace to her list of credits towards the end of her two-year-old campaign. Sylph Hanover faces no fewer than four horses coming off of a victory. Three of them are undefeated in their 2019 campaigns; the other, Pretty N Fast, added her third straight victory in a late-closing final at The Meadows last time, and she also hails from the productive Burke barn. The Sire Stakes events will go in races eight and twelve; the five Stallion Series events will face the gate in races three, seven, nine, eleven, and thirteen. Though currently in the lower division of the program, the Stallion Series fillies have already won 24 races among them this year, and some are only now finding their top form. Post time for Friday's card at Philly is 12:25. There will be live racing on both Saturday and Sunday at 12:40; the Saturday card is a special Kentucky Derby Day card that will feature opening round action of the 2019 Great Northeast Open Series.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

FREEHOLD, NJ - The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey's annual board of director's meeting and election was held on Friday (Oct 19) at Freehold Raceway. The committee summary reports were given by board of directors. Mike Gulotta reported that the Pension Funds are benefiting from the change of investment managers with returns better than expected and funds in line with benchmarks. Chris Ryder reported that racing days in New Jersey are still in negotiations however, he is hopeful that 2019 race dates will be similar to the 2018 dates. He also reported that the Benevolent Fund has assisted many members and horsemen with health issues and funeral assistance. Mike Klau reported that over 400 mares were bred in New Jersey this season. Insurance committee head Anthony Romano announced that there will not be any changes to insurance benefits and no increases to premiums for members in 2019. Anthony Perretti reported that TrotPac is continuing to build important relationships with Legislators to help raise awareness to the need for alternative revenue to support our industry and to help push the $20 million dollar appropriation bill through. The board of director election results were announced from the 360 ballots that were received. Mike Gulotta and Richard Meirs were each re-elected in the breeder category as they ran unopposed. Thomas Pontone and Dennis Lane were both running for one spot in the owner category. Incumbent Thomas Pontone will continue to represent the owners as board of director. The driver/trainer category had two open seats available this election. The nominees were incumbents Chris Ryder and Thomas Luchento, and new comers Linda Toscano and Ray Baynes. Chris Ryder and Linda Toscano were elected to fill the two positions. The SBOANJ would like to thank all members who ran and voted in this years election. It is important to have members involved in all aspects of the election. We would also like to thank all those that attended the meeting especially Mr. Taylor Palmer, one of the original founders of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Rodeo Romeo used his vaunted early foot and propelled his 2018 earnings over the $150,000 mark when he led at every call in winning the $21,500 pacing feature Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:50.3. The son of Rocknroll Hanover cleared to the lead just after a 26.2 opening quarter, and then driver Eric Carlson was able to get him a rest to the 55.2 half. From there, favored Stormont Czar A came up first-over, with Rodeo Rock hot on his bumper at the 1:23 3/4s, but Rodeo Romeo was kept alive at crunch time, holding off Stormont Czar A by a nose, with Rodeo Rock just another neck back in third. The Chris Ryder trainee, owned by Oompa's Farm Inc. and Robert Mondillo, has now bankrolled $154,080 this season and $335,029 lifetime. Pembroke Wildcat won his second straight race when he was victorious in the $18,000 claiming handicap pace in 1:51.4. Driver Anthony Napolitano got the winning Western Maverick gelding away in the two hole behind Polak A, stepping up in company in search of his fourth straight win, but after fractions of 26.2, 55.3, and 1:23.2, Polak A could not sustain, and Pembroke Wildcat was able to make the lead and then resist 42-1 shot Onlythetuffsurvive, second for the fifth straight start, by a head. Brittany Robertson trains and owns the career winner of $345,227. For 46-year-old trainer Michael Seddon, making his career debut as a conditioner, certainly will have the Pocono patrons remembering his name - not too many trainers have a lifetime profit generation of 11410%. The very first horse Seddon ever sent out, Some Gold, rallied from an inside trip for trainer Vinnie Ginsburg to tally in an $11,000 pace and return $230.80 for a $2 ticket - despite winning his last start at Freehold. Of the eight horses who have paid in excess of $50 at Pocono since August 11, five of them have lit up the board for $100+, including season's leader College Hanover ($336.60) on September 9. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - It's safe to predict that Rodeo Romeo, the leading pointwinner in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) in the open pacers division, will not get as rough a trip as he did in his last start when he begins from the rail in a $30,000 GNOS divisional event Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Rodeo Romeo, who is featured in this month's edition of Hoof Beats as a horse using recently-developed technology to keep him in consistent peak form, had no chance to show that form in the Gerrity Memorial at Saratoga last time, parked three-wide past the quarter on the half-mile track and then two-wide throughout, ample excuse to tire. The Chris Ryder-trained pacer will be handled by George Napolitano Jr., who had his pick of the three morning line favorites and chose Rodeo Romeo, is quoted at 4-1, and could well be both an early and a late factor. The morning line favorite in the GNOS is Split The House, winner of the Franklin Consolation and then photoed out in his last two races, both in the Great Northeast series. Trainer Chris Oakes will have Tyler Buter, in hot driving form, handle Split The House from post three as the early 5-2 choice. The 2-3 horses in the GNOS pointstandings, had quite different results at the post draw. Bettor's Edge drew post two for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and was tabbed at 3-1; the horse just ahead of him in the current rankings, Rockeyed Optimist, drew the outside post eight and was set at 6-1, with Marcus Miller slated for sulky duty. The top pointwinners in GNOS action after the last August 25-26 prelims will be eligible to draw in for their $100,000 GNOS Championship event, to be held over 1 1/4 miles at Pocono on Sunday, September 2, the same night as the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds. From the PHHA/Harrah's & Pocono

Bob Mondillo had no idea where to set his expectations when he began buying horses two decades ago, but chances are that wherever he set them he would be pleased with the results. Mondillo has enjoyed a number of successes, most notably with retired millionaire Nob Hill High and continuing with stakes contenders including Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace-bound Rodeo Romeo. Mondillo, an investment advisor from Ohio, was introduced to harness racing by his friend Don Robinson. The first horse they owned together was a claimer, who in turn got claimed from the duo after several starts. It was a result that spurred Mondillo to change his approach to the sport. "I really didn't like that," Mondillo said, laughing. "If I was going to sell a horse I wanted to have some control over it and not just put it in a claiming race and lose him. I thought, why don't we up our game and get into the stakes competition. That's what we did and we never looked back. It's been a great run." In 2001, Mondillo and Robinson purchased then 18-year-old broodmare Anniecrombie, a Dan Patch Award-winner during her racing career, from a dispersal sale. Two years later, Mondillo watched McArdle win the Magical Mike at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. Those moments mattered because Mondillo and Robinson bred Anniecrombie to McArdle in 2005 and the result was stakes-winner Nob Hill High. He was Anniecrombie's final foal. "At least on paper she saved the best for last," Mondillo said. "I really liked McArdle a lot, so we ended up breeding Anniecrombie to him. The rest is history, I guess. Watching Nobbie do what he did, I never expected I would own a millionaire in the sport. When you first get started, you don't know how to set your expectations, how high or how low. He's a wonderful horse." Other top horses for Mondillo have included stakes-winners This Is The Plan, Fraser Ridge, That's The Ticket, National Seelster, Moonlit Dragon, Time On My Hands, and Martini Hanover. Two-year-old male pacer High On Paydaze, from Nob Hill High's first crop, is 2-for-2 on this year's Ohio Sire Stakes circuit. And then there is the late-blossoming Rodeo Romeo, a 6-year-old pacer who is having the best season of his career to date. The stallion, trained by Chris Ryder, has won five of 15 races this year and earned $123,330 for Mondillo and Oompa's Farm Inc., which is headed by Pete Mazzella. Mondillo first met Ryder when he trained McArdle. "He's just a quality guy and he has a wonderful family," Mondillo said. "He's just a pleasure to work with. I probably talk with him daily and we talk about things other than horses. We just have that kind of relationship. It's been a great experience for me. "Don is a very knowledgeable guy and Pete has a great deal of knowledge too. I learn from all of them and I try to absorb it all like a sponge and hope that most of it is retained." All five of Rodeo Romeo's victories have come in his past 11 starts, during which time he also posted three second-place finishes and a third. He has two wins and two seconds in the Great Northeast Open Series and was third in the Commodore Barry Invitational. "He's done very well," Mondillo said. "He did not race as a 2-year-old; he was beset by a number of different ailments as a 4-year-old and as a 3-year-old. Finally those appear to be behind him and he's racing very well. Fingers crossed, he'll stay healthy and we'll continue to move forward. "We've always had a horse we believe in, and knew he was talented, but we just couldn't keep him sound or healthy enough to show what he could do until this year. He's well cared for by his groom, Alexz Goldin. I think without her taking such good care of him, he might not be where he is right now in terms of his accomplishments." Rodeo Romeo will start the Gerrity Memorial from post seven in an eight-horse field. The remainder of the group is defending champion Bit Of A Legend N, Evenin Of Pleasure, Killer Martini, Mach It So, Missile J, Rockin Ron, and Somewhere In L A. "I think that given the right trip he can be in there," Mondillo said about Rodeo Romeo. "He can race from behind, he can race on the front end. Certainly he's not going to be on the front end in this race from that post position, at least not initially. We hope at the end he will be there. He's going to have to have some kind of a trip to do well, I believe. "I like the fact there is no quit in that horse," he added. "I can't tell you how much he means to Pete and myself and certainly Alexz and the Ryder Stable. He's certainly been a bright spot. We're thrilled with him." The Gerrity Memorial was created in 2009 to honor Joe Gerrity Jr., a highly respected figure in the area's equine development and an integral leader of Saratoga Harness. Gerrity was a breeder of horses in Loudonville and licensed harness driver before becoming chairman of the board for Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. in 1987. He later oversaw the expansion and development of the facility before it became the premier property to feature video lottery terminals in New York State. Gerrity passed away in 2005. Racing begins at 7:05 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. Parking and admission are free. Below is the field for the Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace. Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Missile J-Brett Miller-Scott DiDomenico-9/2 2-Bit Of A Legend N-Jordan Stratton-Peter Tritton-5/2 3-Killer Martini-Wally Hennessey-Ricky Bucci-12/1 4-Evenin Of Pleasure-Joe Bongiorno-Jennifer Bongiorno-4/1 5-Somewhere In L A-Jason Bartlett-Richard Banca-6/1 6-Rockin Ron-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-3/1 7-Rodeo Romeo-Billy Dobson-Chris Ryder-8/1 8-Mach It So-Jim Morrill Jr.-Jeffrey Bamond Jr.-10/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) is back in action at the two eastern Pennsylvania tracks this weekend, with an open pacing event at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night and an open trot at Harrah's Philadelphia the next afternoon. Saturday's open pace at Pocono brings together four of the top five horses in the GNOS divisional standings, with the only double winner in the series to date, Rodeo Romeo, drawing the rail and being accorded 2-1 favoritism for driver Eric Carlson and trainer Chris Ryder. In his last start, Rodeo Romeo was third in the Commodore Barry Pace at Philly, behind top 4YO Filibuster Hanover and the talented Australian import Heaven Rocks A. Second in the GNOS standings, and parading second, will be Rockeyed Optimist, who has come to good recent form for trainer Jake Leamon, with Anthony Napolitano in the sulky behind the horse who has a first and a second in the competition. The other two Top Five horses, Bettor's Edge (#4) and Mach It So (#5), didn't fare nearly as well at the post draw, getting the outside post seven and post six, respectively. On Sunday afternoon at Philly, the open trot has drawn a full field of nine. Accorded early favoritism from the rail is Such An Angel (driver George Napolitano Jr.), who comes off a lifetime best victory of 1:52.2. This will be the toughest field Such An Angel has ever faced, including millionaireness Broadway Donna, a two-time divisional champion, and four other horses who have bankrolled over $400,000 in their careers. With pointsleader Agent Q and eight of the top dozen in the standings behind her, totaling six of the seven GNOS division winners so far, in Toronto this weekend in eliminations for next Saturday's $365,000 Roses Are Red Pace, the mare pacing event did not fill. From the PHHA/Harrarh's & Pocono Downs

Champion harness driver Dexter Dunn is set to try to establish himself in North America again. And he hasn't ruled out a permanent move there should his winter campaign prove an enormous success. Dunn has won the last 10 national drivers' premierships but will relinquish his title to good friend Blair Orange this season, with the latter 28 clear on the standings after bringing up win 200 for the season at Manawatu on Tuesday. Orange's numbers this season have been so staggering he now has Dunn's national record 229 wins for a season in his sights and barring injury or suspension should probably set a new mark. But Dunn says the end of his premiership domination isn't why he is heading to New York in a few weeks. "I spent a few months up there driving a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience and always wanted to come back," says Dunn. "But the right opportunity never really presented itself until now." That finally did come when Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder, who is now based in North America, approached Dunn about driving in the US with his support. "Chris has been a long-time family friend and suggested the time was right and he would support me and try and help me get outside drives. "There has been a bit of visa paperwork to get through and I still have to go for a final interview at the US consulate in Auckland in a few weeks. But if and when the paperwork is finalised, hopefully I can get up there sooner rather than later. "Their [US] really good horses, the ones that will be racing in the better races later in the summer, are all starting to come out in the qualifiers at the moment so I'd love to be able to get some serious drives and the sooner I am there the more likely that is to happen." Dunn expects to be away from New Zealand from around mid-June until maybe just before the New Zealand Cup carnival in November, which would mean could drive at the rich Breeders Crown on October 27. But if the trip turned out to be an enormous success he could be tempted to stay. "I intend being back for the Cup carnival and driving like normal here over the summer. "But you never know what can happen. Anything is possible, including basing myself up there fulltime. "But I don't expect that to happen on this trip." After 10 remarkable years during which Dunn has emerged from obscurity to win 10 premierships and win 2180 races in New Zealand alone, the superstar of the sulky admits the time for a new challenge has come. "I still love the big carnivals, our summer racing and some of the special days we have, like Kaikoura for example. "But you do have the odd time when driving so much gets stale, especially when you have been travelling as much as I have for the last five years. "It usually only lasts a weekend and you are back fine the next week, but it does happen. "So this will be a good freshen up for me, a new challenge and a chance to learn some new things." Although Dunn has already seen his premiership run ended by Orange this season, any longer-term North American ambitions from him would put Orange in the perfect position to start his own premiership domination. The pair are so far in front of their rivals in numbers of drives and races won in the last couple of years it would be hard to envisage a new serious premiership contender emerging. So if Dunn tastes success during his upcoming US trip and decides to spend more winters there in the years to come, the national premiership would appear to be Orange's to own. Michael Guerin

Brilliant Australian three-year-old pacing filly Shez All Rock and Chariots Of Fire winner Jilliby Kung Fu have been announced as the latest recipients of an invitation to the 2018 Harness Jewels. Shez All Rock In winning the Victoria Oaks last Friday night for trainer-driver Mark Pitt Shez All Rock became the first filly since 1989 to collect the rare Victoria Oaks/New South Wales Oaks double. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven has now been defeated just once in eight career starts, with her only other race resulting in a second place at Cobram in February. Trained by Mark Pitt in those eight starts, Shez All Rock was purchased by expat Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder in late February. She will now transfer to the care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen to tackle the New Zealand Oaks on Friday 18 May and now for certain target the Harness Jewels on Saturday 2 June. The intention for Ryder is to return the filly to Australia after the Jewels to head to the Vicbred Series and the Breeders Crown but was unsure as to when she will head to the Northern Hemisphere. “It’s still to be determined. I had a little bit of an idea to leave her down there as a four-year-old but I haven’t looked into it much. Either way I’ll give her a good break and just decide at the time,” said Ryder. Originally from Greymouth, Ryder is based in Allentown, New Jersey and has been living in the States for 29 years. He made the move after his wife Nichola received a transfer with her job to work in New York city as an accountant, and after a two years he decided to start a training career there. Ryder been associated with some exceptional pacers during his training career there, including Put On A Show ($2.4 million and former 3YO US Filly of the Year), I Luv The Nitelife ($1.94 million and former 3YO Filly of the Year in the US and Canada), Art Major for the early part of his career, and he also trained McArdle who earned $2.6 million before heading to stud. Ryder had previously been very keen to purchase a filly down under. “I’d been trying to buy a couple of horses around New Zealand without much luck and Mark Purdon had been at the Miracle Mile and saw Shez All Rock win the New South Wales Oaks. He thought she might be available to buy,” explained Ryder. “After looking at her replays there was everything to like about her. So Mark (Purdon) called them up and we got her bought.  It was quite a simple deal and I was very happy to be able to buy her at the time.” “So far it’s working out very well.” Ryder was keen to make the trip down to New Zealand to witness his filly race, but due to it being spring currently at home his training schedule didn’t allow for him to be here. However Ryder will be keenly waiting for news from his family down under admitting he has a sister ‘who is pretty handy on the telephone.’ Despite being half a world away Ryder was grateful for the opportunity to start a horse in a feature race in his home land. “We are very pleased to be invited. We appreciate it.”   Jilliby Kung Fu Australia’s next emerging star, Jilliby Kung Fu, has been announced the recipient of an invitation into the Four-Year-Old Emerald at this year’s Harness Jewels. The 2018 Chariots Of Fire winner will represent Australia in the Four-Year-Old Emerald on Saturday 2 June at Cambridge Raceway. In his Chariots win he recorded a sizzling 1.48.8 over a mile, and followed that win with a brave second placing to My Field Marshall in the Miracle Mile. On that occasion he was beaten by a mere head when just caught on the line, with the winner recording a new Australasian record of 1.46.9. Since then the horse has had a month spelling and all things going to plan will start in a fresh state on Harness Jewels day. A son of Four Starzzz Shark, Jilliby Kung Fu is trained by Marg Lee of Terang, Victoria and is driven regularly by her son Jason Lee. At just 22-years-old Jason has focused on his harness racing career diligently and this year it has really paid off. Being associated with a horse like Jilliby Kung Fu has presented Lee with some remarkable opportunities to compete at the highest level. The horse has continued to go from strength to strength. “To do what he did in the Miracle Mile was really quite special when you go back and think about it. At the time you were probably disappointed just to get beat but it was quite an extraordinary effort from a four-year-old,” said Lee. Jilliby Kung Fu has raced 29 times for 14 wins and 10 placings, and has earned just over $492,000 in stakes. His impressive resume already includes the Group One Chariots Of Fire, Group One 4YO Bonanza, Group One Vicbred 3YO Final and a Group Two  APG 2YO Consolation Final. And whilst the horse faces a big ask coming into the Jewels potentially in a fresh state, Lee was positive about the trip. “It’s one of those things if you don’t go and try you may never get a horse or the opportunity to go and try and do it again.”   To listen to the full interviews with Chris Ryder and Jason Lee click here   Jess Smith

Freehold, NJ --- With a horse named This Is The Plan, it stands to reason that harness racing trainer/co-owner Chris Ryder would have a plan for the 2-year-old male pacer. He does. Stay healthy, race well, and head to the Breeders Crown. Of course, the plan is the same for Ryder’s 2-year-old male pacer I’m A Big Deal. “That’s what we’re hoping as we speak,” Ryder said. “We’ll see what transpires. They’re in a good spot, they’re doing well.” Both horses won Bluegrass Stakes divisions last week and return Saturday to Lexington’s Red Mile for divisions of the International Stallion Stakes. There are four International Stallion divisions for colts and geldings and three for fillies. Saturday’s Red Mile card also includes the $136,000 Allerage Farms Open Trot and $119,000 Allerage Farms Open Pace. Maple Leaf Trot winner Hannelore Hanover, who is making her Lexington debut, leads a group of nine in the trot. The 5-year-old mare is one of three former Dan Patch Award honorees in the race, with JL Cruze and Pinkman. Rounding out the field are Crazy Wow, Mambo Lindy, Centurion ATM, Crescent Fashion, Homicide Hunter, and I Know My Chip. All Bets Off, coming off his win in the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, is among the 10 horses in the pace. He drew post No. 10 in a field that includes former Dan Patch Award winners McWicked and Boston Red Rocks. Completing the field are Manhattan Beach, Split The House, Easy Lover Hanover, Dealt A Winner, Mel Mara, Check Six, and Wakizashi Hanover. This Is The Plan is in the first International Stallion division. The gelding has won two of nine races and earned $149,149 for Ryder and co-owner Robert Mondillo. He has hit the board a total of seven times, including four second-place finishes. Purchased for $90,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale, This Is The Plan is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare That’s The Plan. His dam is a half-sister to stakes-winner Loving Caroline, who is the mother of Dan Patch Award winner Divine Caroline, and his family also includes Hall of Famer Western Hanover. “We didn’t really want to geld him, but we had to,” Ryder said. “He was jumping all over the place.” I’m A Big Deal has won three of eight races and earned $55,010 for Ryder, Mondillo and Craig Henderson. The colt’s three wins have come in his most recent five starts. “He just took a while to come around, even though he’s doing fine now,” Ryder said. “He just took a while to become a racehorse. He just needed a little time. I believe he will keep improving. He’s still getting a few things together. He’s a bigger, heavier horse. It just took him a while to get his ducks in a row.” I’m A Big Deal is a son of Somebeachsomewhere and the first foal out of the stakes-winning mare Big McDeal. He was purchased for $300,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. “He was a lot of money, but that’s OK,” Ryder said. “Those were good races last week. We drew well again (for Saturday) and they’re staying healthy here. We’ll see how it goes.” In addition to the Breeders Crown later this month at Hoosier Park, both horses are eligible to November’s Matron Stakes and Governor’s Cup. Click here for Saturday’s complete Red Mile card. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Agent Q moved alongside leader Brazuca on the final turn and pulled away from the field to win Saturday's $165,700 Mistletoe Shalee for harness racing 3-year-old filly pacers by two lengths in a stakes- and track-record equaling 1:48.4 at the Meadowlands. Idyllic Beach finished second and Awash was third. Sent off as the 1-5 favorite, Agent Q and driver David Miller were fourth in the race's early stages as Brazuca led the fillies to the opening quarter in :26.4 and half in :54.3. By that time, Agent Q was on the move first over and was a quarter-length from the lead when the field reached three-quarters in 1:21.4. Agent Q's time equaled the track and stakes record set by Dancinwiththestarz in 2010. "She's just been unbelievable the last few weeks," co-owner Bill Rochetti Jr. said. "It's so fun to watch." Agent Q has won five of eight races this year and earned $379,124 and her victories this season also include the Lynch Memorial. For her career, she has won eight of 18 races and finished worse than third only once on her way to banking $817,828. The daughter of Western Terror-Teenage Paige, trained by Chris Ryder, is owned by Martin Scharf, Rochetti Cassar Racing and Robert Muscara. Agent Q paid $2.60 to win. Agent Q By Ken Weingartner  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (April 15, 2017) - Since adding Lasix on April 1, Rodeo Romeo has taken his already considerable talent to a harness racing career-best level. The 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover stallion won for the second time in three starts since adding Lasix, this time holding off the late charge of Special T Rocks to win the $18,000 pacing feature in a career-best 1:50. Andrew McCarthy moved Rodeo Romeo to the front past an opening quarter in :27. From there, the Chris Ryder-trainee controlled the action and had just enough late to hold off Special T Rocks, who got clear too late and missed by a head. Rodeo Romeo won for the ninth time in 29 career starts and has career earnings of $169,999. He is shared in ownership by Oompa's Farm and Robert Mondillo. In Round 2 action in the Dash For The G-Notes series, Iwillmakeyousaynow won the fastest split in a lifetime-best 1:50.3 over fellow Round 1 winners Downthehighwy and So Take That. Iwillmakeyousaywow is trained by Todd Buter and driven by Tyler Buter. Alex Bullville and P L Idaho won the other divisions. The top point earners are scheduled to return next Saturday in the $17,500 final. Corey Callahan was the driving star of the night with five wins, including a natural hat trick in Races 7-9. Dave Miller won a pair of races while Chris Ryder and Mike Russo each had two training wins. Total handle was $2,040,489 for the 11-race card. Racing resumes next Friday. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz

DOVER, Del.-- Bushwacker rolled out of post 7 to take the lead and fought off a slew of harness racing challengers nearing the finish line to score a 1:51.2 victory , the third in his last four starts to win the $30,000 Preferred pace while Art Stafford Jr. notched his third win of the day in the $27,500 Delaware Special highlighting a big Thursday, Feb. 2 Dover Downs program. Defending driver champion Corey Callahan, who scored his second of a three win night, driving Henderson Farms' Bushwacker for trainer Chris Ryder, Cajon Lightning (Art Stafford Jr.), who finished second for the third straight time, with Dancin Yankee (Ross Wolfenden), a winner of $1.5-million, third. In the $27,500 Delaware Special Handicap, Art Stafford Jr., who drove the winners of both halves of the daily double, completed a three-win night coming from off-the-pace with Blazing Bobby Sox to catch front-pacing Remember VK (Yannick Gingrass) in deep stretch with Captive Audience (Callahan) second and Mustang Art (Vic Kirby), the third-place horse. Engel and JL Benson stables' Toatsmygoats was at his best in a $15,500 Male pace turning back eight rivals with Golden Gun being scratched with a 1:51.3 triumph equaling his lifetime best clocking. Pat Berry was in the bike for trainer Nick Surick for Relentless Yankee-This Much Is True gelding's 17th career win. Don't Ya Know (Callahan) was runner-up in front of Ballinrobe (Allan Davis). Tony Morgan steered Niss Allen's Ima Rebel to his first win of the new year scoring a lifetime record 1:52.1 victory in a $15,000 4&5-Year-Old pace. Willard Reynolds conditions the Skydancer Hanover-Ali Cat gelding. Suchasenseofhumor (Jim Morand) was the second-place finisher. Sonny At The Beach (Kirby) an early leader, held on for third. The husband and wife team of driver Sean and Crissy Bier combined for back-to-back wins. Sean Bier's Brody won a 1:51.2 decision racing in a $20,000 Male pace. R.J.Thomas' Jet Blue Miracle came right back, also from post 1, to win a $15,000 Male Claimer. After a long climb from far back, Corey Callahan, the defending champion, jumped into first place in the meet's dash win column with three wins to now lead second-place Vic Kirby by three victories. Art Stafford Jr. and Corey Callahan had three winners. Sean Bier and Yannick Gingras had two winners each. Trainers Crissy Bier and Dylan Davis, who also had two owner wins, had doubles. The biggest win-payoff on the card was $98.80 when Arty Foster's 48-1 shot Rock Me Henry with Russell Foster driving, closed along the passing lane to beat Officer Blue Chip (Jason Lynch) ending that horses five-race win streak. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are dark days. Parking and admission at Dover Downs is free. Reservations are suggested for the popular Winner's Circle Restaurant and its acclaimed Buffet. . For reservation ns, call 302-674-4600. Simulcasting of top harness and thoroughbred racing is available in the Dover Downs Racing and Sports Book, from 12 Noon to 12 Midnight daily. Marv Bachrad

TORONTO, November 19 - Thats The Ticket charged home to win the $427,000 Three Diamonds for harness racing two-year-old pacing fillies at odds of 5-1 Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Chris Ryder trained pacing filly was able to convert off a perfect third-over trip from driver David Miller for her second win in 14 starts. Idyllic Beach, the 6-5 favourite, left out hard to grab command ahead of a pesky Someomensomewhere. The public's choice posted an opening-quarter of :27.2 and was unchallenged in the second-quarter to lead the field by the half in :56.4. Caviart Ally came first up just after the half and supplied cover to Candlelight Dinner from fifth and Thats The Ticket in sixth. The first-over challenger pulled up along side Idyllic Beach at three-quarters in 1:25.2. In the stretch, Thats The Ticket shot off cover and delivered a stunning stretch rally to fly by her rivals with powerful strides. The Ryder trainee crossed the wire first in 1:53.4, 3¼ lengths ahead of runner-up Idyllic Beach. Candlelight Dinner edged out Caviart Ally for third. Known as a front-end favouring racetrack, Thats The Ticket completely ignored the Woodbine track bias to win the Three Diamonds. "We had planned on just racing her off the end of it there and hopefully get some cover that takes us where we needed to go," said Miller post-race. "Passed the half when they all started moving I was hoping they would get up with the leader, which they did and everything worked out good, but I moved her over at the head of the stretch and she really dug." Thats The Ticket, a daughter of Roll With Joe from the Artsplace mare Art Account, has shown big closing speed throughout her rookie season, including last week's :26.4 kicker to finish second in her elimination. Miller was confident victory was within reach with an eighth of a mile to go. "About half way through (the stretch) she was almost up to the leader and starting to get wound up," noted Miller, who did not drive the Ryder trained filly in the elimination. "I was feeling pretty comfortable and she won pretty handy." Owned by Craig Henderson, Robert Mondillo and Lawrence Minowitz, Thats The Ticket now has two wins in 14 starts and earnings of $331,824 this season. She paid $13.70 to win. by Mark McKelvie    

WILKES-BARRE PA - Kiss Me Onthebeach, who had never been better than third in a harness racing stakes race during her first 17 career starts, changed her luck in a huge way Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, coming home strongly after wild front-end numbers to win her division of the fourth and final preliminary of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in 1:48.3, a world record for three-year-old pacing fillies on a 5/8-mile track. Another daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Darlinonthebeach, took her second Sires prelim win with a 1:48.4 victory.   The new world champion Kiss Me Onthebeach, to be fair, had been "there or thereabouts" against top fillies throughout her career before Saturday at Pocono, getting checks in 12 of 14 starts in stakes competition and winning her only three starts in overnights for trainer Chris Ryder and Bella Racing LTD. And she used every bit of Hall of Famer John Campbell's sulky magic to make her breakthrough in a big way while defeating Newborn Sassy by a neck.   2-5 favorite I Said Diamonds left strongly from midpack in the field of five, but she met resistance from East Side Hanover, with the polesitter using racetrack geometry to force her flying rival to tuck well before an astonishing 25.2 quarter. East Side Hanover had her earplugs out coming into the stretch the front time, and soon so did I Said Diamonds, who rushed out for command 5/16 and was stretched by "East Side" before making to the top into the second turn, just before the "52.3" clocking flashed and had the crowd buzzing.   Shezarealdeal was the first to move around the tiring East Side Hanover and tucked in the pocket, with Campbell and Kiss Me Onthebeach going on from behind her to challenge the leader to the 1:20.3 3/4s. When "Kiss Me" took the advantage late on the turn, Newport Sassy, who hadn't been far back, tipped outside, and that filly ate into the two-length advantage the leader still had at midstretch, but came up short in the photo, with I Said Diamonds settling for third, a total of four lengths behind.   The 1:48.3 mile lowered by a tick the world divisional standard set by I Luv The Nitelife at Pocono just under three years ago (August 17, 2013). The winner lowered her record by three full seconds, and with her first stakes victory raised her bankroll to $131,075 while returning $53.40 to win to her scattered backers.   Had Darlinonthebeach raced 17 minutes earlier, her 1:48.4 clocking would have put her name alongside that of I Luv The Nightlife, however temporarily; in any case, "Darlin" returned to the track where he had had a problem and had to be pulled up in the Lynch Final on July 2, putting to rest any "bad vibes" or whatnot with her authoritative triumph. Driver Matt Kakaley settled the winner of $488,272 in fourth early as Call Me Queen Be worked to get around Lispatty in a 25.4 quarter, then got to the front past the finish line the first time and hung up middle splits of 54 and 1:21.4.   Call Me Queen Be had stayed tight in the pocket, and after a first-over move from Lispatty was shaken off, the "Queen" mounted a strong charge in the famed Pocono Pike, but Kalaley's filly still had a 27 last quarter in her and kept her adversary at bay by 1¼ lengths, with longshot Skinny Dipper third after an inside journey. Darlinonthebeach, who was sent off at 7-5 from the outside post six against Call Me Queen Be's 4-5 favoritism, is trained by Nancy Johansson for owner/breeder White Birch Farm, and lowered her mark by 2/5 of a second.   With Pure Country off at Northfield again taking on the boys in the Milstein Pace (she was second to Betting Line after finishing fourth in the Cane Pace on Hambletonian Day), Newborn Sassy saw her 25 points earned in finishing second Saturday bring her unofficially to 100 points in the Sires preliminaries (35-25-15-10-8-5-4-2-1) to lead her group with a 4-1-2-1 record.   With stakes conditions limiting the $350,000 Championship, which will be held at The Meadows on Saturday, September 10, to eight, the following horses also get automatic qualification for the Championship, listed in points order: Darlinonthebeach (95), Call Me Queen Be (90), I Said Diamonds and Pure Country (tied at 85), Kiss Me Onthebeach (65), Shesasmokinlady (58), and Lispatty (35). Skinny Dipper (31) and Shezarealdeal (30) will be programmed as AEs and can draw into the race until 6 p.m. the day before. The next nine highest pointearners not in the Championship will have a $50,000 Consolation on the condition sheet for them.   Tomorrow night at Pocono, these fillies' Stallion Series counterparts will race four divisions of their final preliminary leg, going in slots 3, 4, 7, and 8. The two double winners in the three prelims so far will headline the first two divisions: Dismissal has post three in race three, while Terror At Night has post five in race four. The top nine pointwinners after tomorrow's Stallion Series racing will become eligible for their $40,000 Championship, to be held right here at Pocono on Sunday, September 11.   And while the top eight pointearners didn't change because of the results of tonight's Sire Stakes racing, we can assure you of no such certainty tomorrow: after the top five horses, who look pretty safe, there are fewer than 20 points between the horse currently sitting sixth and the two horses tied for twentieth, with sixteen of the top 21 entered for Sunday.   PHHA / Pocono

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