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After posting wins over Dan Patch Award winner Father Patrick in his previous two starts in preliminary rounds of the Graduate Series, JL Cruze rallied in deep stretch to upend world champion Sebastian K by a nose in 1:51 in Saturday's (July 4) $75,000 Sun Invitational at the harness racing meeting at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The mile equaled the world record for a 4-year-old trotting gelding on a five-eighths-mile track set back in 2014 by Wind Of The North. It was JL Cruze's ninth consecutive win of the season. For the year, he has won 14 of 16 races and captured four winter/spring series championships -- the Super Bowl, Singer Memorial, Shiaway St Pat and Weiss -- for owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar and Stephen Iaquinta. The group purchased JL Cruze for $37,000 at November's Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale. "He doesn't go bad races," said John Campbell, who drives the horse for trainer Eric Ell. "He's raced good each and every time I've raced him, even when he got beat in the wintertime by Opulent Yankee." "He's just gained so much confidence through those series at the Meadowlands and then coming here to Pocono (for the Weiss)" "It's just done wonders for him mentally." "It can't be overstated." "They know when they win or lose, especially when they can win and you're not stressing them." "He just got stronger and stronger with those wins." Sebastian K, making his 2015 debut at the track where last year he trotted 1:49 for the fastest mile in harness racing history, appeared to fight off JL Cruze's stretch bid but JL Cruze found one more gear in the final strides to get to the wire in front. Gural Hanover, who set the early fractions, finished third. "There's no give-up in him," Campbell said. "He's shown me that before. He tries hard right to the wire. I kept right at him and he was able to wear him down right at the wire." As JL Cruze raced through the winter and spring, Campbell began to think the son of Crazed-Topcat Hall could compete against the sport's best. "I really didn't give it a thought until after the second series," Campbell said. "He had gotten so much better and Eric was working with his shoeing and got him really cleaned up with his gait. When he got done with that second series at the Meadowlands and had come here, I was pretty sure he could step up and compete at the next level. "I'm not saying I thought he could beat those type of horses, but I was pretty sure he could compete at that level." Gural Hanover led the field through an opening quarter-mile in :27.1 and was still on top by a nose over Sebastian K when he reached the halfway point in :55.3. Sebastian K, last season's Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter, was able to complete his move to the front, but trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt said "I lost the race there." "I went very fast in that turn, very fast," Svanstedt said. "He was a little tired at the end. It was too tough in the second turn, too fast. "But he did go a good race." Ken Weingartner

It was a big day for harness racing driver Yannick Gingras on Sunday afternoon (June 28) at Harrah's Philadelphia. Gingras had a natural hat trick, winning races 5,6, and 7. He followed that up by sweeping the late pick three and the late double for seven wins on the program. He also swept the co-featured events on Sunday, open affairs both on the pace and trot. In the open trot, it was Gural Hanover (Yannick Gingras) getting his first victory of the year. The 4-year-old son of Crazed was parked out the entire first quarter (:27.4) before clearing the lead. After rating the half (:56.4), he was able to maintain a solid lead throughout. He got three-quarters in 1:24.1, and the final time in 1:53, as he won by three lengths in the end. My Love Bi (Geo. Napolitano Jr.) finished second, while World Cup (Joe Bongiorno) finished third. It was the twelfth career win out of twenty starts for Gural Hanover ($4.40), who is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E LLC, and Panhellenic Stables. In the open pace, it was Brittany Farms and John Cherveny's Allstar Legend (Yannick Gingras) winning his fourth straight. The son of Four Starzzz Shark led the first quarter (:26.1), but was cleared by Doctor Butch (Tim Tetrick) who was three wide around the first turn. Allstar Legend drafted behind this pacesetter through a half in :54.1 and three quarters in 1:21.4 before engaging the leader in the stretch. Allstar Legend went on to win by a length, stopping the clock in 1:50.1 for his seventeenth career win out of sixty-one starts. Doctor Butch was second, while Fancyfreeshark (Allan Davis) finished third. The Ron Burke trainee paid $4.80 to win. Michael Bozich

Harness racing driver Corey Callahan got the jump on Driver of the Week honors, finding the winner's circle five times on Friday night at The Meadowlands. Callahan didn't waste any time, winning the first two year old event of the season at The Meadowlands, with the John Butenschoen trained Ideal Rocky, a Rocknroll Hanover colt that cost $47,000 at the Harrisburg yearling sale. Callahan and Butenschoen would team up again later on the night, winning a condition trotting event with the Currier and Ives winner, Suit and Tie (Andover Hall). The Captain would also go on to score with B Stern (Bettor's Delight) in wire to wire fashion in a condition pacing event for fillies and mares at 13-1. He also guided Beach Story (Somebeachsomewhere) to a strong win in a very tough upper-level condition pacing event for mares and steered Tirade Hanover (Crazed) to a well-meant win in a competitive middle level condition trotting event. With the five wins, Callahan moved into the top-five in the Meadowlands drivers standings. The feature race of the night was the $50,000 TVG Free For All Trot, the third leg in the $1.2 Million series. Obrigado made his debut in the series and he made it a winning one, scoring in impressive fashion in 1:51.3, a lifetime best performance. Last week, Obrigado found himself locked in throughout the mile while crying out for racing room in the stretch, Mark Macdonald made sure that wouldn't happen this time, putting his gelding in the game early. But Obrigado had to work hard early on, parked out by DW's NY Yank, the 9/5 favorite and the two raced in tandem past the quarter in 26.3. Shortly after the trotters turned into the backstretch, Obrigado cleared the lead and it was a lead he would not relinquish. MacDonald effectively backed his trotter down to a 55.3 half mile before reaching three-quarters in 1:25.1, completely a tepid 58.3 middle half-mile. In the stretch, the Boy Band gelding  simply out-sprinted the field, kicking home in 26.2 to complete the triumph. Flanagan Memory rallied to finish second with Melady's Monet overcoming traffic trouble in the stretch to finish third. Obrigado is co-owned by his trainer Paul Kelley, L. Higgins and W. Weaver III. The fifth race Jackpot Super Hi-5 survived another night, despite a 15-1 upset and that carryover will be $168,564 into the Saturday program. The last race carryover swelled to $149,836 as well. Racing resumes on Saturday with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

Vernon, N.Y. -- Both brushing to the fore and opening up at will on their respective rivals, Barn Doll ($2.70) and Crazy Wow ($2.30, part of entry) proved dominant in a pair of harness racing  Empire Breeders Classic events for New York-sired 3-year-old trotters on Sunday (June 21) afternoon at Vernon Downs.   The $248,275 Classic for fillies saw Zanna Blu (Yannick Gingras) stride to the early lead past her stablemate Allerage Belle (Jim Morrill, Jr.), with Barn Doll tracking that pair comfortably through a :28 initial quarter. Moving off the clubhouse turn, Jeff Gregory brushed to the fore with the 3-year-old Conway Hall filly, clearing Zanna Blu with no trouble before controlling a :56.2 half mile. Barn Doll accelerated on the far turn through a :27.3 third sectional, leaving her eight rivals well in her wake after edging clear at head-stretch. She ultimately trounced the others, winning by 6-1/4 lengths in 1:52.1. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) rallied down the center of the track to take second, while Jewels in Hock (John Cambell) kicked cover off the far turn to finish third.   Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables, LLC.   An overflow field of 11 3-year-old colts and geldings contested a $255,325 Classic event, with Crazy Wow overcoming a second-row start to obliterate his competition--and the previous track record for sophomore geldings. Yannick Gingras floated Crazy Wow second-over to follow entrymate Habitat (Jim Morrill, Jr.) to a :26.4 first quarter, continuing on without cover to clear the lead upon exiting the clubhouse turn. The Crazed gelding posted a :56.4 middle half and then edged clear of his entrymate in upper stretch, amassing a 6-1/2 length margin of victory in 1:51.1. Habitat held second, while Fashion Creditor (David Miller) rallied from a third-over trip to take third while well detached of the Ron Burke trainees.   The Our Horse Cents Stables, the JT 45 group, and the J&T Silva Stables, LLC own Crazy Wow, who knocked 1-2/5 seconds off Gym Tan Laundry's 1:52.3 mark for 3-year-old trotting geldings, taken in 2012.   Fireyourguns breaks his own all-age pacing record   Earlier in the 14-race program, Fireyourguns ($2.90) set blistering fractions and held sway from a late-charging JK Panache (Yannick Gingras) to take the $10,000 Open Pace in a track record 1:47.3. The 6-year-old American Ideal remains undefeated on the year in six starts, taking two-fifths of a second off his former mark with Jim Morrill, Jr. in the bike. Double millionaire Golden Receiver, reunited with 2011 World Driving Championship runner-up Corey Callahan, was all-out to chase the pacesetter, holding third. Trainer Terence McClory co-owns Fireyourguns with Jennifer and Robert Lowe.   NY Sire Stakes glamour boys contest four undercard events   In addition to the pair of Empire Breeders Classic events and Fireyourguns's track record mile, 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings squared off in a quartet of New York Sire Stakes events, offering a combined purse of $122,400. My Spirit Soars ($5.50, Jim Morrill, Jr., 1:49.3), National Seelster ($8.60, Andy Miller, 1:50.2), A Bettor Hat ($7.30, Morrill, 1:51.3), and Artistic Major ($8.50, Scott Zeron, 1:50.3) proved victorious in their respective races.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 26) evening, with post time set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs    

EAST RUTHERFORD (June 19, 2015) - The third leg of the Graduate Series for trotters at The Meadowlands pitted a rematch of JL Cruze vs. Father Patrick, this time for $100,000. Fresh off the upset two weeks ago that sent shockwaves throughout the harness racing sport, JL Cruze was given more respect at the windows Friday night, sent off as the 9/5 second choice. Father Patrick was given the nod as the favorite, despite the narrow loss last-out and post 10 tonight, released as the 1/2 choice. JL Cruze floated off the gate, while Father Patrick did the same, watching many trotters vying for early position to his inside. Around the first turn, JL Cruze sat mid-pack in fifth, with Father Patrick right behind him. The early lead belonged to Gural Hanover, who reached the quarter in 26.4. As the field straightened up on the backstretch, JL Cruze launched his bid for the lead, with Father Patrick hot on his heels and the pair ranged up into contention as JL Cruze cleared the lead going to the half-mile in a sharp 54.1. Father Patrick was left uncovered briefly, but he asserted himself rather quickly and made the lead as the field moved into the far turn. His pilot, Yannick Gingras, let Patrick roll to three quarters in 1:22.3, while Sumata was challenging first over. JL Cruze was locked in the pocket for much of the stretch as Father Patrick reached for the line. But inside the final eighth of a mile, the pylons opened up for JL Cruze and John Campbell guided his trotter through the narrow opening where he sprinted to the wire to defeat Father Patrick in a lifetime best 1:50.4. That clocking also equaled the fastest trotting mile of the season thus far. Resolve rallied to be third from well back. JL Cruze is owned by W Kenneth Wood, W J Dittmar Jr and S J Iaquinta and trained by Eric Ell. The four-year-old Crazed gelding cost just $32,000 at the Harrisburg Mixed Sale in November and has now earned $233,638 this season. Driver John Campbell spoke to how the horse has developed. "Back in February, we knew he was good, but I don't think anyone could have predicted this. But he kept getting stronger as time went on and I knew he could trot with these, but I wasn't sure he could win. But he just keeps getting better." Amazingly, trainer Eric Ell reported that JL Cruze kicked his stall the morning of the second round of the Graduate and he considered scratching the horse. Not only did he race, but he defeated Father Patrick, a feat he accomplished again tonight. The $250,000 Graduate Trot Final will be contested on Meadowlands Pace elimination night, Saturday, July 11th. JL Cruze The third leg for the Graduate pacers was also contested Friday night at The Meadowlands for $100,000. An overloaded field of twelve would go to the post and because of the two trailers, the race was contested at 1 1/8th miles. Rockeyed Optimist, a winner of nine of 10 starts this season was sent off as the odds-on favorite, while Doo Wop Hanover, a winner of the first rounds of the Graduate series was let go at 7/2. Both four year olds are trained by Steve Elliot. The early speed came from the inside as Limelight Beach and Lyonssomewhere blasted to the front, but Rockeyed Optimist was aggressive from his outside post and he would grind into it early on and made the lead past the quarter of 27.1. In the meantime, Doo Wop Hanover never saw the pylons and was allowed to settle into his stride uncovered while racing nearly 10 lengths off the lead as Rockeyed Optimist sprinted past the half-mile in 53.4. At that point, Doo Wop Hanover began to a launch a steady bid for the lead while leading the outer flow, tracked by All Bets Off. Rockeyed Optimist completed three-quarters in 1:22.1 as Doo Wop Hanover continued to close in. As the field straightened away in the stretch, the two Elliot trainees were side by side and they put on a show, pacing through the stretch together, leaving the field behind. Doo Wop Hanover, despite being uncovered throughout the nine furlongs, was able to wear down his stable mate and score a win in a world record clocking for one mile and one eighth, winning in 2:02.3, eclipsing the previous mark of 2:03.1, established by Noble Ability in 1999. All Bets Off checked in third. The four-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover  was sent out by owners Peter Blood and Rick Berks. John Campbell swept The Graduate events Friday night and was extremely impressed with the performance of Doo Wop Hanover. "He went a huge trip, but he wasn't working that hard and that was the key. But we were out the whole way and he just kept coming." Both Elliot trainees are being pointed to the $250,000 Graduate Final on Friday, July 3rd. Doo Wop Hanover In other action, Hot List (McArdle) made it back to back victories, both in the form of pylon skimming drives as she won the $28,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace over Iniitowinafortune in a sharp 1:49.4. The win was another on the card for John Campbell who scored a hat trick on the program. The mare is trained by Arnold Marks. The $26,000 Open Trot was won in wire to wire fashion by DW's NY Yank, who led at every pole to score in 1:52.1. Obrigado was locked in the pocket throughout the mile and appeared to have a ton of trot while finishing second. Trainer Ron Burke sent out the winner. DW's NY Yank The $22,800 Cathedra Dot Com Final went to Next Flight Up in a 24-1 upset and she rallied down the center of the racetrack and chased down Oceans Motion, Real Drama and That Woman Hanover to score in 1:50.4 for Brett Miller and trainer Jeff Smith. Next Flight Up Both carryovers in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 lived to fight another day, with the fifth race carryover growing to $162,597 and the last race carryover swelling to $141,004. Total handle for the Friday program yielded a 10-percent increase over the same night in 2014, despite one less race. Racing resumes on Saturday with a 13-race program beginning at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

Vernon, N.Y. -- Trainer Ron Burke and driver Jim Morrill, Jr. teamed up to sweep a pair of $61,300 New York Sire Stakes events for harness racing 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Saturday (June 6) evening at Vernon Downs.   In the first division, Habitat ($3.00) brushed from the pocket through a :57.1 initial half, clearing early pacesetter Wings of Royalty (Chris Lems) before facing first-over pressure on the far turn from Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer). The son of Conway Hall and Habit's Best dug in at head-stretch, turning aside Buen Camino and holding clear of Wings of Royalty by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:53.4. The Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi, LLC own Habitat.   The other division saw Crazy Wow ($2.10) mount a monstrous recovery to overcome an interference break he suffered at the start. An early break by Royal Deceptor (Michael McGivern) seemingly took Crazy Wow out of contention at the completion of a :27.2 first quarter, but the son of Crazed and No Pan No Gain worked to catch the field on the far turn, storming through up the pegs to collar pacesetter Mythology Bluechip (Aaron Byron) in the final yards of a 1:55.2 mile. The Our Horse Cents Stables shares ownership of Crazy Wow with the JT 45 group and the J. & T. Silva Stables, LLC.   A trio of $10,000 Open events headlined the undercard, with Keene Olivia ($2.90, Morrill, 1:50.4) rallying to win the Mares Pace, Modest Prince ($7.90, Morrill, 1:53.1) pouncing from the pocket to beat the favored Bourbon Bay in the Trot, and Big Jer ($5.60, Greg Merton, 1:49.2) also striking from the pocket to upend JK Panache in the Pace.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Sunday (June 7) afternoon, with first post slated for 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

William Cantrell's Classic Belisima ($4.80, Jon Roberts) won her sixth straight race Wednesday in the $16,000 Open Trot at the harness racing meeting at Harrington Raceway in 1:55. Trained by John Cabot, the 4-year-old daughter of Crazed was making her Harrington debut after five consecutive wins, including a sweep of the Weiss series at Pocono Downs (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Leaving from post position one, Classic Belisima took no prisoners in her front end romp that resembled a training mile over Wingus and I Like My Boss. It was her 10th win of the year. Favorite Powerful Charger, who was bidding for a third straight triumph, made a break near the three-quarters was never threatened the winner. Tony Morgan had four wins on the program. Ross Wolfenden drove three winners. Matt Sparacino

There were three Series Finals that took place on Friday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway for young horses who have competed over the last few weeks for their spot in the $25,000+ harness racing finals. Starznheaven (Rock N Roll Heaven) was named Saratoga’s top two year old pacer last year and has now started out his sophomore campaign on a three race win streak. The Jackie Rousse-trained pacer recorded a wire-to-wire victory in a career best 1:54.3 in the JP Morel Memorial Pacing Series Final as the race’s 3-5 betting favorite. Frank Coppola Jr. piloted Starznheaven to his early season hat trick. Coppola also piloted the winner of the John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trot Final as Quick Feet (Crazed) went coast to coast in a lifetime best performance of his own. The Margaret Spagnola trainee cruised in 1:59 as the race’s favorite at odds of 9-5. The Virginia O’Brien Memorial Final was won by longshot Karla Art (Major In Art). Brian Cross co-owns, trains and drives the three year old filly who took advantage of early speed duel before circling her rivals to prevail in a career best 1:58.3. Karla Art returned $71.00 to win as a 34-1 longshot. Live racing continues on Saturday evening at Saratoga with first post time set for 7:05pm. Mike Sardella

WASHINGTON, PA, May 1, 2015 -- Though harness racing stablemates and 4-year-olds, Gural Hanover and Rose Run Parker have taken different geographic paths to stardom. Gural Hanover captured the New York Sires Stake championship last year; Rose Run Parker achieved the same feat -- in Indiana. Together, they've earned just over $1 million for trainer Ron Burke, and they'll lead the field in Saturday's inaugural edition of the $62,100 The Meadows Maturity for 4-and-up stallion and gelding trotters. The event, part of a special Kentucky Derby Day card that begins at 11:25 AM, goes as race 9. "They're very similar," Burke said of his dynamic duo. "They dominated their sires stakes programs, and they have big chances this year to move up." Gural Hanover (post 1, Matt Kakaley) has won 11 of 15 career starts and will be launching his season after a sharp 1:55.3 qualifier at Harrah's Philly. "That was a vicious qualifier," Burke said of the Crazed-Givemearing gelding owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Little E and Panhellenic Stables. "I'd like to have one more work in him, but it is what it is." Rose Run Parker (post 2, Dave Palone), had a 3-race winning streak snapped April 18 when he broke stride in Hoosier Park's Invitational. "I didn't like that break last week, but that's out of character for him," Burke said. "I don't expect it to be a problem. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and William Haas, Jr. campaign the Jailhouse Jesse-Centergy gelding. Burke said he hasn't plotted specific schedules for Gural Hanover and Rose Run Parker. "When they finish one race, I think about the next race," he said. "I never assume they'll be ready for this race or that race. I take it week by week." The road to victory may go through the Burke pair, but Melady's Monet (post 4, John Campbell) may be just the contender to speed down that road. The 6-year-old Revenue S-Keystone Melady gelding already has won five of eight outings this year, including three straight in the Open Handicap at the Meadowlands, for trainer Kevin McDermott and owner Melady Enterprises. Last week's distaff division of The Meadows Maturity was a showcase for local talent, as Bill Bercury's Daylon Miracle blew past 2014 Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry to lead a 1-2-3 finish for The Meadows-based horses. Bercury will be looking for a stakes sweep Saturday when he sends out Tamarind, (post 8, Aaron Merriman), who has banked $624,484 in his career but needed a drop to conditioned company to get his most recent victory. Completing the local contingent are Classicality (post 5, Brian Zendt), an easy winner in The Meadows' top trot last week, and Sixteen Mikes (post 7, Eric Goodell), campaigned and bred by Bob Key and conditioned by Rich Gillock. Saturday's 13-race card also features three splits of the $183,216 Adios Betty, a Pennsylvania Sires Stake for sophomore filly pacers. The field for The Meadows Maturity, in post position order, with drivers and morning line odds: 1. Gural Hanover, Matt Kakaley, 9/2 2. Rose Run Parker, Dave Palone, 7/2 3. Madewell Hanover, Chris Ryder, 6-1 4. Melady's Monet, John Campbell, 5/2 5. Classicality, Brian Zendt, 8-1 6. Possessed Fashion, Tony Hall, 8-1 7. Sixteen Mikes, Eric Goodell, 10-1 8. Tamarind, Aaron Merriman, 10-1 The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WILKES-BARRE PA – Classic Belisima was the easiest of winners in the $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championship for trotting females Wednesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, guided by harness racing Hall of Famer David Miller to her fifth straight triumph, this one in 1:54.1.   Hopes for a showdown between Classic Belisima, who had won all three of her Weiss preliminary starts, and Dress For Success, who had won in all four weeks of the prelims, lasted only a few feet after the start of the race, as Dress For Success made a break, taking her out of the race. Miller handled the victorious daughter of Crazed with patience, going up towards the lead past the 27.4 opening quarter, taking command in front of the stands, and then posting splits of 57 and 1:25.2 en route to a 4¾-length victory over Passing Jetta, with Never Ever Clever third; Dress For Success could never repair her early mistake and was last in the field of seven.   Classic Belisima has now been victorious 9 times in but 11 seasonal starts, and the Weiss Championship triumph pushed the John Cabot-trained mare’s lifetime bankroll to $113,055 for owner William Cantrell.   Another winning streak continued in a $25,000 mares handicap pace, as Show Runner is now 6 for 6 in 2015 after a 1:52.3 victory over Ooh Bad Shark, with 2014 Breeders Crown 3YO champion Sayitall BB third after closing from the back. Show Runner is acquiring the nickname “Picket Fence”, as her last five wins show nothing but “1”s all the way across the line, including tonight’s triumph, where she came home in 55 for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Lou Pena and owners A Piece Of The Action LLC.   ********** He’s better than The Six Million Dollar Man, because his lifetime bankroll now stands at $6,923,781, making him the richest racing harness horse of all time. And The $6+-Million Dollar Horse, Foiled Again, will return to the scene of his 2013 Breeders Crown triumph on Saturday at The Downs, heading a field of six in a $25,000 winners-over pace. Last time Foiled Again raced locally, the Franklin Final last year, he finished third, beaten only a length and a half, in Sweet Lou’s victory in 1:47 – the fastest time ever over a 5/8-mile track. Matt Kakaley has been tapped for Saturday sulky duty as Foiled Again’s saddle pad will match his lifetime bankroll status – 1.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The winning beat went on for JL Cruze as he captured the $30,000 Championship of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting males in 1:52.4 Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, while in the $30,000 pacing female Championship, Donttellruss led a 1-2-3 finish for the Burke Stable with a 1:52.1 triumph.   MALE TROTTERS - JL CRUZE   It may not exactly have been the maximum win in "cruze control" - it looked like John Campbell had to flick the whip three times at him in the lane - but the result was the same: JL Cruze in the winners circle, for the 11th time in 13 starts this year and for the seventh straight time, after a 1:52.4 triumph in the Weiss finale for male trotters.   Campbell bided his time early with the Crazed gelding, then went up to get the lead just past the quarter from Opulent Yankee, with splits of 27.4, 57, and 1:25.1. The "Yankee" gave his nemesis a good threat in the Pocono Pike midstretch, appearing to get within a half-length, but JL Cruze still had more and completed the last panel in 27.3 for a length victory. (Math fans will note that tossing out the second stanza gives you 1:23.3 speed for JL Cruze in the other quarters; in another numbers note, "Cruze" commanded over $19,000 in a $21,700 show pool.)   Eric Ell, the skipper of one of the East Coast's hottest barns right now, trains JL Cruze, who will certainly be needing to take a step up in class soon if not now, for owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta.   (And spare a thought for the gallant Opulent Yankee, from the Miller Team Orange Crush. His seasonal record now is 13-5-8-0, and you get exactly zero points for guessing which horse finished in front of him all eight times. At least he has the satisfaction of knowing he did hang JL Cruze's two 2015 defeats on him.)   FEMALE PACERS -- DONTTELLRUSS   Far inside, far outside, down the middle of the track - the Ron Burke four-horse stable entry came at 'em from every angle, taking down the 1-2-3 spots in the Weiss Championship for female pacers, with Donttellruss taking the biggest part of the money as a 1:52.3 pocket rocket.   With $32,500 of a $34,000 show pool riding on the 1-5* quartet, only one of them left the gate hard - Donttellruss, winner of her last two starts in the Weiss, and she wrested the lead from Hollyrocker just at the 26.2 quarter. The Beach Nextdoor, sent off at 2-1 despite three straight series wins, had tucked fourth early after starting from post eight, then was hustled to the lead well before the 55.3 half.   But The Beach Nextdoor would find the Burke entry making life a "beach" for her soon afterwards, with Life Is A Beach and Allthatjazz De Vie, each series winners, coming first- and second-over respectively (and remember, Donttellruss is still in the pocket) past the 1:23.2 3/4s.   In the stretch, driver Andrew McCarthy took Donttellruss to the Pocono Pike, took the lead from the game but overwhelmed The Beach Nextdoor, and then held off - Caviart Shelly, the fourth Burkeite, the only one not a prelim winner, the one who was fourth-over and eighth at the ¾ pole and five-wide headstretch, the one closed with a furious rally to miss by only a head, with Life Is A Beach just another neck back in third.   Donttellruss is a daughter of Panspacific Flight co-owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr, and Frank Baldachino. She earned $31,800 in Weiss competition, with the Burke foursome totaling $82,200 in this division alone.   One final note: the only non-1-2-3 Burke horse, Allthatjazz De Vie, finished sixth, though beaten only 2¼ lengths. This was important wagering information, as in addition to show wagering, Pocono also allowed exacta, trifecta, and superfecta betting - thus the Exacta was the 1-2-3 entry and fourth-place Crescent City; the Trifecta added fifth-place The Beach Nextdoor; and for the Superfecta, you had to go all the way down to seventh, Hideaway Beach, to determine the official order!   '**************   And if all that isn't enough for mountain sulky fans to digest: the $30,000 Weiss Championship for trotting females is tomorrow night, and on Saturday the world's richest harness horse, Foiled Again, returns to the scene of his 2013 Breeders Crown triumph, as The $6+ Million Dollar Horse ($6,923,781) goes in the winners-over pace.   (And he drew the rail. Won't this guy Burke ever get any luck?)   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - JL Cruze was once again on "cruze"-control Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning his $15,000 division of the fourth and preliminary leg of the Bobby Weiss Series for male trotters in 1:52.4.   JL and "JC" - Hall of Fame driver John Campbell - moved rapidly from fourth nearing the quarter to take over the lead from main challenger Opulent Yankee under the wire the first time, and the triumphant Crazed gelding was not threatened from there, sprinting home in 55.4 - 27.2 to keep the game Opulent Yankee 1¼ lengths at bay at the finish.   JL Cruze, a winner of over $140,000 already this season, is now perfect in two Weiss starts for trainer Eric Ell and owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Steve Iaquinta, and already has 10 wins in but 12 seasonal starts. With no show wagering, JL Cruze attracted $8329 in a $9658 place pool, but the real value may have been the JL Cruze-Opulent Yankee exacta, which was a big overlay at $3.20.   In the other Weiss section for this class, the Holiday Road colt Holiday My Way not only recorded his first Weiss score, but he also broke his maiden, and in fine fashion with a 1:56.2 personal mark. Trained by Shawn Simons and driven by his dad, "The Trot Man" Mike Simons, Holiday My Way made an early move to the lead and went on to win for Rick and Regina Beinhauer and the T L P Stable.   Tuesday's Pocono card also featured the last prelim round for pacing females (both of these $30,000 Championships will be next Tuesday). The first section saw The Beach Nextdoor win her third straight in Weiss competition, with the Somebeachsomewhere mare shading 27.3 in the final panel to equal her lifetime mark of 1:53 as a "pocket rocket." Jim Morrill Jr. was again in the sulky for trainer Brewer Adams and owners Adams Racing LLC and Brian Clark.   Like The Beach Nextdoor, Donttellruss used rallying tactics from the two-hole in the other cut, gaining into the 27.3 kicker to win in 1:53.3 over her stablemate in the Ron Burke barn, Allthatjazz De Vie, marking the second straight week that that pair has finished 1-2. The victorious mare by Panspacificflight was driven by Andrew McCarthy for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Kerr, and Frank Baldachino.   ****************** The field has been drawn for the first of the Weiss Series Finals, this Saturday's $30,000 event for pacing males, and while two major contenders benefited from the draw, one suffered the unkindest luck of all.   Getting the rail was YS Lotus, who responded to getting a full week off last Saturday by pacing to a lifetime best of 1:50.2 for driver Simon and trainer/brother Rene Allard (who teamed for seven victories on the Pocono card last Saturday). Prior to that win, "YS" had started 6 times in 18 days, competing in both the Weiss and the Sagamore Hill Series at Yonkers, but the extra racing seems to have only honed the gelding to a career edge.   The other Weiss winner last week is Major Uptrend, making him 2 for 2 in the series, and he seems quite likely to be the betting favorite for trainer Ron Burke and driver Matt Kakaley. The Major won in "only" 1:51.3 last week, but it was from the difficult post eight, and he has been very versatile and consistent on the bigger-sized tracks in 2015.   The "unlucky" Weiss finalist is Victory At Last, who had posted victories in each of the first three prelims, but had to settle for second behind Major Uptrend last week. Also a member of the Burke stable, Victory For Last is "stuck behind the 8-ball" for Saturday's Championship.   PHHA / Pocono

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 11 - American Rock with Jody Jamieson turned in a gritty harness racing effort to win the $37,000 Youthful Series final Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A solid group of ten three-year-old pacing colts and geldings lined up Saturday evening for the final of the three-week Youthful series. Legion Of Boom, the 4/5 favourite, came into the final on a three-race win streak and had a chance at a series sweep. The action was hot right from the start, as the first-quarter saw a trio of horses battle around the opening turn. Dialamara, who was three-wide, would come away with the lead as the field entered the backstretch. American Rock, who got away fourth, came charging first up in the second-quarter to engage Dialamara in a duel. American Rock would eventually clear to the lead at the mid-way point, but not after a rock-solid half-mile clocking of :55.1. Around the final turn, Team Captain was pressing at the leader first up, while Legion Of Boom was placed second-over. American Rock posted a third-quarter of :28.1 to reach the three-quarter pole in 1:23.2. In the stretch, American Rock dug deep and would not allow his rivals to get by, as he reached the wire first in a career-best 1:52. Dialamara came up the rail to finish second by a length and a quarter, while Pantheon Hanover made a rally on the far outside to finish third. Team Captain, who was beat less than two-lengths, and Legion Of Boom had to settle for fourth and fifth, respectively. A son of Rocknroll Hanover, American Rock is trained by Ben Wallace for owner Brad Grant. The sophomore pacing colt came into Saturday's final off a 1:54.1 victory in last week's second leg and had finished second by only a head in an opening leg division on March 28. American Rock, who did not race as a two-year-old, now has a record of five wins from eight starts and earnings $57,250. The Wallace trainee returned $7.10 to win. In order to be eligible to the Youthful series, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2014. American Rock Favourites dominate round one of Don Mills The first leg of the Don Mills Trotting Series Saturday night at Mohawk was dominated by the chalk. A group of 13 four- and five-year-old trotters were split into two $20,000 first round divisions. In the first division, Wild And Crazy Guy picked up his third win from his last four starts in 1:56. Sent off as the 3/5 favourite, Wild And Crazy Guy and driver Mario Baillargeon got away fourth in the early stages. A second-quarter move gave Wild And Crazy Guy control of the lead and he never looked back. The public's choice finished up his mile with a :28.2 final-quarter to win by a length and three-quarters over Windsun Revenge. Exemplar finished third, while Ramas Last Son took fourth. A four-year-old gelding son of Crazed, Wild And Crazy Guy is trained by Martin Lachance for owners Jean Brunet & Ted Gewertz and now has three wins from 12 starts in 2015. Saturday evening's victory gives the four-year-old 12 career victories and pushes his bankroll over $164,000. Wild And Crazy Guy paid $3.30 to win. Wild And Crazy Guy In the second division, Bourbon Bay and driver Mike Saftic lived up to their 1/5 billing and scored a dominant 1:54.1 victory. A four-year-old gelding son of Sand Vic, Bourbon Bay swept the General Brock series back in February at Woodbine and was returning north of the border Saturday off a Weiss Series division victory at Pocono on March 31. The heavy-favourite was sent straight to the lead by Saftic and it was lights out from there. Bourbon Bay set fractions of :28.2, :57 and 1:25.1 before trotting home easily in :29 to win by 2 ¾ lengths over Seawind Pascale. Sheer Flex finished more than 12 lengths behind the winner in third, while A J Destiny finished fourth. The clocking of 1:54.1 is a new career-mark for Bourbon Bay, who now has eight wins from 11 starts in 2015. The four-year-old is trained north of the border by Mike Sinclair for lessee John Cummings Jr of Nichols, New York and increased his career bankroll to over $117,000 with the victory Saturday. Bourbon Bay paid $2.40 to win. Bourbon Bay In order to be eligible to the Don Mills, the trotters had to be non-winners of $150,000 lifetime as of December 31, 2014. The second leg of the Don Mills Trotting Series will take place next Saturday (April 18). Mark McKelvie

WILKES-BARRE PA - Four of the first five winners at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday night paid the 5 cents to a dollar legal minimum profit in winning, including three visitors to the harness racing Victory Lane during $15,000 third round series action of the Bobby Weiss Series - with the quartet tallying by a combined 21 lengths.   The trotting males were up first, and two Meadowland invaders took all the money, both pari-mutuel and purse. First up was the Crazed gelding JL Cruze, who has already bankrolled $133,000+ this year winning three series at the Jersey oval and racking up an effortless 12¼-length score in his mountain debut for trainer Eric Ell and driver John Campbell. The winner tripped the timer in 1:54.1 over a sloppy surface after making every pole a winning one for owners Ken Wood, William Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta.   Opulent Yankee, who has caused the "2" in JL Cruze's 11-9-2-0 season's record, was next up, and he was 3½ lengths to the good at the end of his 1:54.2 triumph. Team Orange Crush, driver Andy and trainer Julie Miller, guide the fortunes of the Muscles Yankee gelding for Little E LLC, Arthur Geiger, Jason Settlemoir, and David Stolz.   In the first of two pacing mare divisions, the Burke / Weaver Bruscemi entry took all the money and finished 1-2, as Donttellruss got her first Weiss win in two starts, turning back Allthatjazz De Vie, who was successful in her initial series outing, in 1:53.3. Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi share ownership of the Andrew McCarthy-driven winning daughter of Panspacificflight with Lawrence Karr and Frank Baldachino.   In the second distaff sidewheelers cut, a Burke entry was also favored, but they had to settle for second and third behind the only two-time Weiss winner in this section, the Somebeachsomewhere mare The Beach NextDoor, taking a new mark of 1:53 under the guidance of Jim Morrill Jr. The winner's dam is named On The Choo Choo, and those are the tactics Morrill successfully employed for trainer Brewer Adams and the partnership of Adams Racing LLC and Brian Clark.   The fourth 1-20* horse, in the card's opener, was the well-regarded altered son of The Panderosa, Heavenly Knox, who made short work of his assignment in a personal best of 1:51.3. Triumphant in the Walter Russell Series Final at The Meadows in his last start, Heavenly Knox is now 8 for 9 lifetime, with driver David Miller and trainer Mark Ford entrusted with the care of the winner by new owners George and Rose Bonomo.   The four "sureshots" attracted plenty of money "underneath" as well, as $60,000 to show among all but JL Cruze; his race had no show betting, so over $20,000 went into the place pool on him.   (But all is not chalk in the Pocono pari-mutuels: Hall of Famer John Campbell paid $25.60 to win in a race on the card, and he finished third, beaten a length, at 75-1 in another.)   PHHA / Pocono    

Scarborough, Maine (Sunday, April 5, 2015) -. Easter is a time for family gatherings and celebrations but in Maine, Easter is also a time for harness racing excitement. The Gretchen Athearn Stable effectively combined both traditions on Sunday (4/5) as three generations of her family teamed up to set the holiday table at Scarborough Downs by engineering victories in both halves of the Daily Double. General Bill Brown proved capable of a successful launch to his 2015 campaign as the New York Sire Stakes graduate won fresh off the shelf after exiting the Empire State trenches last fall in favor of the PineTree State battlegrounds in the spring. The four-year-old son of Crazed, now owned by William Phipps of Yarmouth, Maine coasted to an impressive victory with driver Mark Athearn calling the shots from the sulky. The fun continued in the very next dash as Saffron scored an upset win for Team Athearn, crashing the board at 14-1, while holders of the $30 win tickets could be heard singing a verse from the old Donovan song, Mello Yellow, "I'm just mad about Saffron, Saffron's mad about me". Sunday's success concluded a profitable weekend for the Athearns who, combined with Saturday's winner, Daggett, scored victories with three of the five horses they sent to post. Live harness racing is proudly featured at Scarborough Downs every Saturday and Sunday with post time slated for 1:00 p.m. (EDT) For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, March 30, 2015 -- Crazolo quarter-poled to the lead and had no serious challenges thereafter in capturing his second straight harness racing victory in Monday's $15,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Trot at The Meadows. Crazolo dropped into an optional claiming handicap to get last week's win and was so impressive that he was sent off the 9-5 favorite despite the jump in class. Away third, Crazolo brushed to the lead for Jim Pantaleano and easily held off the first-over Tamarind by 3/4 lengths in 1:54.4. Call To Post rallied from last for show. Paul Corey conditions Crazolo, a 4-year-old Crazed-Stroke Play gelding who vaulted over $100,000 in career earnings, for Michelle Yanek. Dave Palone, Mile Wilder and Pantaleano each piloted three winners on the 14-race card. THE MEADOWS TUESDAY CARD: $20,000 PICK 5 GUARANTEE, $5,000 PICK 4 GUARANTEE On Tuesday, March 31, the live card at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will feature two total pool guarantees — a $20,000 guarantee for the Pick 5 and a $5,000 guarantee for the Pick 4. Both are offered as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. The Meadows added the “instant” Pick 5 guarantee after Monday’s Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a two-day carryover of $5,148.04, while the $5,000 Pick 4 guarantee is a regular feature each Monday and Tuesday. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) and Pick 5 (races 10-14) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Tuesday’s program is 12:55 PM. Evan Pattak The Meadows Racetrack & Casino  

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