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Batavia, NY --- When 64 of the best New York-bred harness racing trotters and pacers enter the paddock at Batavia Downs for the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions on Saturday (Sept. 14), there will be three horsemen that will have a homecoming of sorts as their careers all got started in Batavia at the oldest lighted harness track in America. Ray Schnittker from Tonawanda, New York, Steve Pratt from Corfu, New York and Chris Oakes from Akron, New York all mastered the trade they have excelled in so well over the years at Batavia Downs. Schnittker got his start in 1977 racing horses owned by his father. By the late 1980's he moved his colors to New York City and found success driving on that major circuit. His rise to prominence in the sport eventually led to his greatest career success of a Hambletonian victory with his Hall of Fame trotter, Deweycheatumnhowe (Muscles Yankee-Trolley Square) 1:50.4 ($3,155,178). With his base of operations in Goshen, New York now for many years now, Schnittker has been a regular on the NYSS circuit racing many great 2- and 3-year-olds over that time. Schnittker's lifetime stats as a driver show 2,795 wins and $42,809,617 earned and as a trainer 1,266 wins with $39,755,029 in purses. This year Schnittker has three starters in the finals. 3-year-old pacing colt Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl's A Star) 1:48.4 ($414,427) and 2-year-old pacing colts Splash Brother (So Surreal-Sugarcoated) 1:54.2 ($48,961) and Cigars And Port (So Surreal-Sweet On Art) 1:55.3 ($79,851). Hickfromfrenchlick has developed into one of the best sophomore pacing colts around. He currently has the sixth fastest win time of the year (1:48.4) for a 3-year-old and is the ninth richest ($275,866) second-year pacing male in North America. He has four NYSS wins this year, but he also won the $238,200 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga in a lifetime best effort. He comes into the finals on a four-race winning streak and looks extremely tough to beat on Saturday. Pratt started in the business in 1970 and had much success racing overnights, and mostly trotters, at Batavia Downs. Although he competed his own stable part-time, he eventually got into racing young horses at the fairs and made the move to the NYSS in the 1990's. Over the last eight years he has been a constant in this series with a string of highly competitive trotters that all had "Barn" in their names that also went on to be accomplished overnight performers as aged horses. A very high percentage trainer, Pratt's career numbers show 236 wins out of only 823 starts and $2,785,646 in earnings; the bulk of which came in the last eight years competing in the NYSS. 2-year-old trotting colt Barn Holden (Conway Hall-Barn Babe) 1:55.3 ($126,168) is Pratt's starter in the finals this year and he's as solid a performer as any he's had to date. Barn Holden is the points (224) and earnings ($126,168) leader in his division and comes into the final with three wins, two seconds and two thirds out of eight starts. His only lifetime start at Batavia was on August 7 when went wire to wire by 8-3/4 lengths in 1:57.1 to set a new track record for 2-year-old trotting colts. It's a short ship from Corfu (where Pratt still lives) to Batavia and Barn Holden will return to the scene of that record Saturday to try and repeat his performance. Oakes got his trainer's license in 1984 and campaigned horses for his father in western New York for several years. He made the move to Pennsylvania and (then) Pocono Downs in 1992 and it was there his career took off. A very winning and high percentage trainer, Oakes has won multiple training titles at his home track the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and his horses have won a plethora of major stakes across North America. In his career Oakes has sent 1,875 winners to post and has earned $28,853,311 in purses. Oakes has two starters in the NYSS finals this year and both are in the same division. They are 3-year-old pacing colts Shake That House (American Ideal-Shake That Junk) 1:47.4 ($452,804) and Buddy Hill (Roll With Joe-Lessofit Hanover) 1:52 ($141,313). Shake That House won two out of three NYSS starts this year but went on a real tear in between. He won his elimination and then the final of the Max C. Hempt Memorial at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in back to back miles of 1:49 and 1:49.2. Then two weeks after that he scored his lifetime mark of 1:47.4 in his second NYSS win taken at Vernon Downs. That time annihilated the track record for 3-year-old pacing colts and was just one-fifth of a second off the all-time pacing track record there. After a two-week rest, Shake That House had a qualifying tightener that he won in 1:53.1 in preparation for this start and comes in fresh for the race. The $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions that are comprised of eight $225,000 races will be held at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 14) with a first race post time of 6 p.m. Peter Kleinhans will be the tracks guest host and handicapper for the in-house and simulcast broadcast and Heather Wilder will be in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle interviewing the winners and all their connections after each stake race. There will be two $7,500 guaranteed pools in both the early and late Pick-4 wagers that night and both will be all-stake Pick-4's (races 3-6 and races 7-10). The pools are part of the United States Trotting Association's (USTA) Strategic Wagering Program and free program pages will be available on the USTA's website and through links on the Batavia Downs Facebook page when they become available. Free full card programs are now available for download from the Daily Racing Form Harness. There will be a T-shirt giveaway courtesy of the NYSS on Saturday night as well. Fans attending the races live only need to swipe their Player's Club card at guest services starting at 4:30 p.m. to receive a ticket to get their shirt after the seventh race. by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - The rain was in full force for the Thursday program but so was Eastern Canada's trotting power at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. It was all systems go in the wet weather for Gettin Messi over a track with a two-second variant as the champion trotter won his three-year-old Lady Slipper division in a 21-length route in 2:01.1. Mike McGuigan supplied the drive for trainer Len McGuigan and owner Jamie Whalen of Avondale. Mile Hill Willie scored in his $8,000 Lady Slipper split in 2:01.3 for driver Gilles Barrieau and owner-trainer Paul Morrison of Cardigan. Ya Boy Bear delivered in the final sophomore division with a 2:02.1 victory for trainer-driver Marc Campbell and owner Michael Bailey of Morell. The card also featured a pair of $9,000 two-year-old Lady Slipper stake divisions for trotters and Mack Truck got up in the stretch drive to win the first split in 2:08 for driver Barrieau, trainer Randy Van Meer and owners Donna Van Meer of Bowmanville, Ont., and Lynda MacSwain of Stratford. Mykindofparty had a maiden breaking score in the other $9,000 split in 2:06.2 in line to Corey MacPherson for trainer Paul MacDonald and owner Jonathan MacDonald of North Wiltshire. The $2,350 D & G Younker Memorial Open trot was won by Freddie and driver Walter Cheverie in 2:03.1. For race replays and more go to www.Redshores.ca. By Nicholas Oakes, for Red Shores

Batavia, NY --- It will be a homecoming of sorts for Akron, New York native Chris Oakes when he brings two powerful members of his stable to Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 4) to compete in a pair of divisions of the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for purses totaling $117,400. In the first $58,700 division (carded as race one) Oakes will start Shake That House (American Ideal-Shake That Junk) as the morning line 6-5 favorite. Shake That House only has two starts in the NYSS this year and both were wins, but he has also been competing successfully on the Grand Circuit. After drawing the outside at Mohawk Park in an elimination of the North American Cup, Shake That House got parked for most of the mile and did not qualify for the final. But the resilient colt bounced right back to win his next start which was an elimination of the Max C. Hempt stake at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. After taking the lead past the half, Shake That House led the rest of the mile and won in 1:49, which was a lifetime mark. The following week in the $500,000 final he left from post seven, went right to the front and won handily in 1:49.2. Then in his most recent start, Shake That House was in a NYSS event at Vernon Downs and sat third to the half before pulling to take the lead before the three-quarter pole. From there he paced away from the field in 1:47.4 which was a new lifetime mark for him and a new track record for 3-year-old pacing colts for Vernon. The time was also just 1/5th off the all-time Vernon track pacing record. For the year Shake That House has six wins in seven starts and has made $336,400 to date. Tyler Buter will be in the bike behind Shake That House on Sunday and will start from post five. Shake That House will be coupled in a stable entry with Buddy Hill (Roll With Joe-Lessofit Hanover) for betting purposes. Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl's A Star) and Major March (Art Major-March You And Me) who finished second and third in that track record mile at Vernon are also in this division starting from post one with Matt Kakaley and post two with Jason Bartlett respectively. The second $58,700 split (carded as race six) finds another Oakes trainee, American Mercury (American Ideal-Tessa Hanover), the prohibitive morning line choice at 4-5. American Mercury has raced exclusively in NYSS races this year and has won four of the six he entered, finishing second and third in the other two. He took a new lifetime mark at Yonkers in June winning easily in 1:50.3 over the half-mile strip and it set a track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings. The time also tied the all-age seasons mark at the Hilltop. In his next start at Vernon, American Mercury lowered his personal best again while touring the facility in 1:49.4 and winning by two lengths. American Mercury has five wins in seven starts this year and has earned $182,493 as a result. Tyler Buter gets the call on American Mercury as well and gets post two off the gate. Magic Joe Lindy (American Ideal-Lindy's Bandita) who finished third to American Mercury in that sub-1:50 mile at Vernon should be his main competitor here and starts from post five with Drew Monti up. There are also two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior "A" series carded in races four and seven. Post time for the first race Sunday is 1:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- American Mercury ($6.50) overcame the outside post to start the race then overwhelmed Major March in the stretch to collect the harness racing victory in the $118,800 New York Sire Stakes event for the 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night (June 5).   Covering the mile in 1:52.4, in was the second straight NYSS victory for American Mercury.   "It's a steep hill to climb from the eight post here at Buffalo," Buter said after the race. "I left hard with him but when things straightened up, I let the leaders soften each other up."   Starting from the outside, American Mercury was able to use some early speed and drop into fourth heading up the backstretch the first time. Major March, Melodies Major and Price Hanover showed no mercy toward each other as they battled for early control.   With a smoking opening panel of :26.4 put up by Major March (Jason Bartlett), American Mercury went first over and was able to come to even terms with the pace-setter at the three-quarter pole in 1:24.1. In the meantime, the remaining six entrants found those splits too hot and started to retreat.   It boiled down to a match race in the stretch as American Mercury was just too strong for Major March and never looked back in scoring the 1-3/4-length win. Reigning Deo (Jim Morrill Jr), the 2-year-old NYSS champion, was third 10-1/4 lengths behind.   Trained by Chris Oakes and co-owned by Crawford Farms, Northfork Racing Stable, C. Pompey and S. Bice, it was the third win in fourth tries this season for American Mercury (American Ideal-Tessa Hanover). The gelding has now earned $105,050 this season and $142,670 lifetime.   There were two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A Series. Buter drove Quake Blue Chip ($3.00) to the opening bracket triumph with a neck score over Murrow Boy (Bartlett) in 1:55.3. Buter made it a sweep at this level with a half-length win aboard Rickybobbynthehaus ($4.10). They beat the front-stepping Rollonhighway (Morrill Jr.) in 1:56.3.   The $6,600 Excelsior B Series race saw McNulty Z Tam (Pat Lachance) register a head victory over Dancing To Heaven (Shawn McDonough) in 1:57.3 and return $2.50 to his backers.   Buter and Billy Davis Jr. completed the evening with triples while Oakes had three training victories and Sabrina Clevenger two.   Racing will resume on Friday evening at 5 p.m. with a 12-race card slated.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek for Buffalo Raceway

WILKES-BARRE PA – The Chris Oakes stable sent out a trio of impressive winners in qualifying harness racing action on Wednesday morning at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, headed by the world’s fastest trotter, Homicide Hunter. The seven-year-old altered son of Mr Cantab, who rewrote the standard for the gait with his 1:48.4 victory at Lexington last year and who won his 2018 Breeders Crown event at this track, showed he was coming to his sixth campaign in fine shape, rattling off splits of 29.1, 58.1, and 1:26.4 en route to a 10½-length victory in 1:55.1 under the guidance of Matt Kakaley. Oakes also sent out a pair of impressive sophomore colts by American Ideal with fine maternal connections. The faster was American Mercury, who shows horses such as American Jewel, Luck Be Withyou, and Three Diamonds not far back along his maternal line, who went wire-to-wire in 1:52.4, last quarter 27.4, with Tyler Buter at the controls. Buter, who posted his 3000th career driving win at Pocono on Sunday night, was also in charge of the Oakes trainee Shake That House, third in the Metro and a ¾ brother to Breeders Crown winner Split The House. Shake That House came his own back fractions in 55.2 – 27.3 to get to the wire first in 1:53.1. PHHA / Pocono   Jerry Connors

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE – Sock It Away made the step up to more seasoned competition but still made easy work of them as he continued his perfection in the Sunday afternoon top event at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Marc Campbell was in the bike for the three-year-old colt’s 17th win in-a-row from as many starts in 2018 for trainer Kevin MacLean and owner Reg MacPherson of Stratford, P.E.I. Rockin Indy (Driven by David Dowling) set the early tempo in the $2,650 Preferred pace from post 1 cutting out splits of 28.4 and 59.1 before Sock It Away converted his first-over assault into a front-end trip before the three-quarters of 1:28.1. The son of Pang Shui, who was making his first career start out of stakes competition, kicked clear in the stretch to romp by seven lengths in 1:57.1 over a windy track with a two-second variant. Rockin Indy was second while Winter Blast (Jason Hughes) finished third. Ryan Doucette celebrated his first career win as a trainer on the Sunday afternoon card as Delcie Hanover posted a mile 5-1 upset in race 2. Ken Murphy was in the bike for the 2:03 effort for the South Rustico trainer. Windemerenightlife continued his undefeated streak since coming home to P.E.I., as he scored in 1:59.4 for driver Dowling and owner-trainer Clair Sweet of O’Leary, P.E.I. The four-year-old son of Articulator was making his fourth straight trip to the winner’s circle since coming back to his birthplace from Ontario in October. Live racing continues Saturday and Sunday afternoon at Red Shores Charlottetown. For more information go towww.Redshores.ca. By Nicholas Oakes, for Red Shores

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 9, 2018- Favored Rockstar Angel A (Eric Goodell, $4.60) continued her form spree Friday night (Nov. 9th), winning Yonkers Raceway's wet and windy $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap harness racing pace. From assigned outside post position No. 6, Rockstar Angel A left into a three-hole behind Call Me Queen Be (Joe Bongiorno) and Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett). The former made the lead before a 28-second opening quarter-mile, then found a :57.1 intermission. Rockstar Angel A bided her time until she came out of third turn, engaging Call Me Queen Be past a 1:24.2 three-quarters. The 'Queen' and the 'Rockstar' held their own private battle from there, with Rockstar Angel A getting the better of her rival late in the lane. The final margin was a hard-fought neck in 1:53.2. Mach it a Par lost touch with those but was a clear third, while Angel's Pride (Brent Holland) and Keystone Wanda (Jim Marohn Jr.) settling for the minors. Bettorhaveanother (George Brennan) was always outrun For Rockstar Angel A, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Rocknroll Hanover owned by Northfork Racing Stable and trained by Chris Oakes, it was her 11th win (fourth consecutive) in 27 seasonal starts The exacta paid $12.40, the triple (three wagering favorites in order) returned $35.60 and superfecta paid $136.50. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Batavia, NY --- When French-bred trotter Bioness last competed at Batavia Downs he won the $15,000 Schroeder Invitational trot in October. On Friday (Nov. 9) he stayed undefeated at the Genesee County oval by taking the $11,500 Open Handicap trotting feature under a slick drive by his young reinsman Hunter Oakes, over a very sloppy track. When the wings folded Bioness started the long trek from post seven to the front and gained that position by the quarter in :29.4. But the lead was short-lived as the local hot-trotter Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) pulled at the three-eighths and rushed to the front by the half and grabbed the pylons into the second circuit. Southern Palms (Kevin Cummings) made the next move, pulling at the five-eighths and drawing near Lougazi as the race progressed through the third panel. The top two trotters battled around the last turn and into the stretch before a gap allowed Oakes to pull Bioness out of the pocket and jet between them. He was by Southern Palms and overtook Lougazi at the wire to win in 1:59.4 by one-half length. It was the fifth win of 2018 for Bioness ($2.70) who now has $107,438 on his card for the year. The 7-year-old altered son of Sam Bourbon is owned by the Northfork Racing Stable and is trained by Chris Oakes. For the 20-year-old Hunter Oakes, it was his fourth consecutive win in only five career drives and his first career victory at Batavia Downs in his Western New York homecoming. In the $8,800 Open II trot, Labatt Hanover (Shawn McDonough) sat third the whole mile before tipping three-wide off cover in the lane to catch Barn Winner (Ray Fisher Jr.) at the wire to win by a neck in 2:00.1. It was the second win in the last three starts for Labatt Hanover ($11.60) and owners Gary and Cynthia Saj. McDonough also does the training. There was no winner in the early Pick-5 wager on Friday so the $2,756 carry over will supplement a guaranteed $7,000 pool for the early Pick-5 wager when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 10). This bet will be part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program and as such, will offer free race pages for races one through five for Batavia Downs tomorrow courtesy of Trackmaster. These free pages can be downloaded at www.ustrotting.com under the "Handicapping" tab. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 2, 2018-Tepid favorite Rockstar Angel A (Eric Goodell, $5.30) continued her form spree Friday night (Nov. 2nd), winning Yonkers Raceway's moist $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. From outside post position No. 5 (in one notch after a defection), Rockstar Angel was stuffed into a pocket behind Medusa (Jason Bartlett) as that one led through intervals of :27, :56.3 and 1:25.4. Rockstar Angel A was out to engage by the three-quarters, finally disposing of Medusa early in the lane. She then widened to win by 2¼ lengths in 1:54.2. Sophomore statebred Alexis Faith (Brian Sears) was second, with Keystone Wanda (Jim Marohn Jr.)-who broke late-surviving an inquiry to stay third. Medusa faded to fourth, with Angel's Pride (Brent Holland) distanced after jumping it off early. For Rockstar Angel A, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Rocknroll Hanover owned by Northfork Racing Stable and trained by Chris Oakes, it was her 10th win (third consecutive) in 26 seasonal starts The exacta paid $25, with triple and superfecta wagering refunded due to the short field size. The Raceway is offering full-card Breeders' Cup wagering Saturday (Nov. 3rd), opening at 10 AM in advance of Churchill Downs' first post of 10:45 AM. Empire Terrace lunch reservations may be made at (914) 457-2454. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Homicide Hunter (George Napolitano Jr.) slipped up the passing lane to pass Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) to win the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot in 1:52.3 on sloppy track. Homicide Hunter is trained By Chris Oakes and owned by Crawford Farms Racing. Top Flight Angel led off the gate and hit the first quarter in :27, followed by Homicide Hunter along the rail. Those two led the field to the :55.3 half and on to the 1:24 three-quarter marker. In sight of the finish line, Homicide Hunter, trailing the leader, angled to the inside passing lane and overtook Top Flight Angel to win by about a length. It was the first Breeders Crown win for Napolitano. "Wow. Words can't even explain it," he said. "It's unbelievable. I am so grateful. It's a pretty simple track to drive on, and I have the right people beside me." On if trainer Chris Oakes had any words for him before the race, Napolitano said, "Nothing. Chris didn't say a word. He knows I know this horse and I know the track. I usually win the four claimers, not the Breeders Crown." Top Flight Angel was second and Warrawee Roo was third. The winner returned $10.20 to win, $5.20 to place, and $4.00 to show. by Ellen Harvey, For The Breeders Crown

YONKERS, NY, Friday, October 26, 2018-Favored Rockstar Angel A (Eric Goodell, $5.90) went from first-up to first home Friday night (Oct. 26th), handily winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Unhurried from post position No. 5, the lass watched Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton) make the first lead, doing so before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. Artrageous (Mark MacDonald) was not happy with that arrangement, having to work as she moved from the pocket before a quick :55.4 intermission. Meanwhile, Rockstar Angel A began her assault, and she did it with purpose. Moving from fifth, Rockstar Angel A blew by, grabbing the gauntlet well before a 1:24.1 three-quarters. She opened to 3½ lengths in and out of the final turn, widening to four lengths at the (1:53) wire. Second went to Keystone Wanda (Brent Holland), with Vorst (George Brennan), Artrageous and Medusa (Brian Sears) rounding out the payees. For Rockstar Angel A, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Rocknroll Hanover owned by Northfork Racing Stable and trained by Chris Oakes, it was her ninth win (second consecutive) in 25 seasonal starts The exacta paid $59.50, the triple returned $490 and the superfecta paid $2,663. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The two-year-old American Ideal - Shake That Junk colt Shake That House might well have earned himself a spot in his division's Breeders Crown elimination ten days hence at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, coming within 3/5 of a second of his divisional world record by winning a $15,000 pace Tuesday in 1:50.2 over the mountain oval. The winner, a ¾ brother to 2017 Breeders Crown champion Split The House, quarter-moved from third for driver George Napolitano Jr. after another well-bred horse, the sophomore Captain Deo (a Somebeachsomewhere colt out of the $1.9M-winning Worldly Beauty), smoked the opening panel in 25.3 in the "nw 4 races" event. Shake That House went on to post midsplits of 54.3 and 1:22.1, then held off the stretch charge of Captain Deo by a half-length. It was the seventh lifetime start and third win for Shake That House, who was coming off a 3-3 finish in the Metro elims and final, and who previously had won in 1:52.2 at Vernon. Chris Oakes, the trainer of not only Split The House but also the new world's fastest trotter Homicide Hunter, conditions the rapidly-developing freshman for Crawford Farms Racing, Alan Johnston, and Norfolk Racing Stables. The 1:50.2 clocking was just short of the 1:49.4 world record of Somestarsomewhere set, appropriately enough, in a 2013 Breeders Crown elimination right here at Pocono. Earlier, Napolitano did something he does not do regularly - drive a horse who paid $50.80 to win. Revelry, who had only one show finish in seven career starts despite often showing good early speed, used off-the-pace tactics on Tuesday to give "George Nap" his third $50+ horse of the meet. Trainer/driver Fern Paquet Jr. also got in on the Tuesday longshot fun by handling Embassy Seelster as she came home first to the tune of $53.60, giving Pocono its tenth card of the meet during which two winners paid $50+. Napolitano, the track's leading driver both all-time and this season, had five winners on the Tuesday Pocono card, and his brother Anthony visited Victory Lane three times. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

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

As we roll into the month of October, it is hard to ignore the fact that, by the end of this month, a dozen division champions will be crowned on October 27 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Breeders Crown is fast approaching, but we still have some business to conduct at Pocono in the few weeks between now and then. Namely, some more outstanding overnight racing action, such as what transpired these past four racing nights to produces these Weekly Award winners. PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKSTAR ANGEL A This Australian-bred mare has taken a shine to Pocono even since arriving from overseas this past summer. So far all of her victories in the United States has come at the Pocono oval, including a win in her U.S. debut back in July and an impressive victory on September 4 in a $17,000 condition pace in a career-best 1:51. Leading into Sunday night's featured $21,500 condition pace for mares, Rockstar Angel A had not raced since that September 4 win, a span of almost four weeks. The fact that there was a possible rust factor and the step up in class may have been why Rockstar Angel A went off as a 3-1 third choice on the board with an inside post in a field of seven. That also could have been a byproduct of the quality of the field, which was led by Bettorhaveanother, winner of the finals of the Great Northeast Open mares pacing series final in her previous race at Pocono. It was indeed Betterhaveanother who set the pace, ceding the lead around the clubhouse turn to 3-2 favorite Penpal. Meanwhile Rockstar Angel A sat on the inside about four lengths away on the back stretch. Once driver George Napolitano Jr. called on this Chris Oakes trainee around the last turn, she gobbled up the margin. She overtook Penpal and Betterhaveanother and held off fellow closer Don't Think Twice to win it by a neck. Her winning time was 1:51.2, and Rockstar Angel A now has two straight wins against the very toughest distaffers that Pocono has to offer. Other top pacers this week include: Pembroke Wildcat (Anthony Napolitano, Brittany Robertson), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap victory against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono on Saturday night, winning this one in 1:51.4: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who returned from New York to defeat a condition field on Saturday night in 1:49.3, the fastest time at Pocono this past week and a new career mark; and Well Played Out (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who rolled to his second straight conditional claiming win on Monday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:52.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TYSON This five-year-old gelding has been one of the better performers on the trotting side all meet long at Pocono. Trained by Edwin Gannon Jr., Tyson has earned the bulk of his seven victories this year at Pocono. The kicker is that most of those wins have come when he hasn't been a favorite, with several coming at middle-priced odds. On Sunday night he dropped down into a $17,500 condition group and went off as the 5-2 third choice in a field of seven. Driver Eric Carlson held Tyson back in the middle of the pack early as Dream Baby Dream, the race favorite, headed for the front. Elysium Lindy set right behind the leader on the inside. As they rounded the final turn, Dream Baby Dream went on a speed break. That was a big break for Tyson, who otherwise might have been hopelessly blocked or had too much ground to make up in the stretch if he had been locked into his third-in journey. Instead he wound up right behind Elysium Lindy, who had inherited the lead from the breaking horse. In the stretch, Carlson tipped Tyson to the outside and he won a tight stretch duel over Elysium Lindy. The margin was just a head, but the 1:53.4 winning time by the gelding matched the fastest trotting time this past week at Pocono. We are getting closer to yearend awards time at Pocono, and Tyson is a trotter who definitely deserves consideration. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Two AM (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who dropped down in class to win a condition trot on Saturday night in 1:53.4, matching Tyson for the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Mandela Blue Chip (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who handled a condition field on Monday night in a sharp time of 1:54.1; and Second Sister (Anthony Napolitano, Michael Deters), a mare who snuck in a condition won on Tuesday night in 1:54.3 before rain cancelled the remainder of the card. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SOME GOLD Nobody saw it coming when this condition pacer driven by Vinny Ginsburg upended the field on Saturday night at stunning odds of 114-1, paying off $230.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter has returned to a more regular driving role this year at Pocono and has been on fire of late, tallying three wins on Saturday night and then four more on the Monday program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES The Oakes' barn had a field day on Sunday night, ripping off five victories out of five starters sent to the gate, including a win in the mares pacing feature with Rockstar Angel. 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 Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The meet's leading driver, George Napolitano Jr. , ended a highly successful September with six victories on the Sunday night card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Four of the wins came with horses from the Chris Oakes stable, including a 1:51.2 triumph with Rockstar Angel A in the $21,500 distaff feature pace. The early pace in the top event was creaking, as Great Northeast Series champion Bettorhaveanother zipped away from the outside post seven, got to the lead in 28.4, and then reached the half in 57.3 (about average for "nw3" trotters here). The tempo picked up dramatically at that point, though, as favored Penpal, who paced her own third quarter in 26.2 while winning last week, came up with a roar uncovered and was quickly on top just past the midpoint, scorching to the ¾ in 1:23.4 - a third split in 26.1. Rockstar Angel A and "George Nap" pulled from third on the far turn, with countrymate Don't Think Twice A, making her U.S. debut, moving out behind her, while Bettorhaveanother went to the Pocono Pike to challenge Penpal. The quarter of mares went at each other through the stretch, with Bettorhaveanother gaining a short lead midstretch, only to see Rockstar Angel A go by with 100 feet to go, then hold off Dont Think Twice A (who paced her own last half in 52.4) by a neck. Bettorhaveanother was third, another neck back; Penpal fading to fourth. Rockstar Angel A, a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover owned by the Northfolk Racing Stable, was imported from Down Under this year, and now has seven wins in her 2018 campaign, with $196,002 in career earnings. Napolitano just missed a seventh win in the $17,500 co-feature trot, as Elysium Lindy, who was racing second behind favorite Dream Baby Dream, inherited the lead on the last bend when that one went offstride, but Tyson, following the top two horses, had enough punch in the stretch to get a head decision in 1:53.4. Eric Carlson had sulky duties behind the Donato Hanover gelding, who is trained by Ed Gannon Jr., co-owner with Frank Canzone, and Tyson raised his career share of the purse to $200,300. George Napolitano Jr. had three wins earlier in the day at Harrah's Philadelphia, overhauling previous meet leader Tim Tetrick in that track's victory column, and thus combined with his six wins at Pocono had nine visits to Victory Lane on the day. "George Nap" had 90 triumphs during the month of September, with 2/3 of those coming at the mountain oval and the other 1/3 at the other end of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

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