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McWicked and harness racing driver Brian Sears were able to grind it out first-over in capturing the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace at Yonkers Raceway Saturday for the second straight year. The 11th race feature saw Jimmy Freight (Scott Zeron) and None Bettor A (Jason Bartlett) trade control of the lead with Jimmy Freight winning out by the first quarter in :26.2. Coming around the second turn Jimmy Freight remained in control as Sears started McWicked up first-over past the half mile :55.1 and right through to the three-quarters in 1:22.4 with The Real One (Pat Lachance) hanging in the hunt second-over. McWicked was able to grind by Jimmy Freight by the top of the stretch and then was barely able to hold off a late flying Micky Gee N (Jordan Stratton) to win by a long nose in 1:51.1. Jimmy Freight was third by a length. “I can’t say enough about the horse and the way he races,” Said Brian Sears of McWicked. “He has been battling hoof issues all summer, but he shows up every week. I was pretty pleased where I got away in the race. I did come first-up a little earlier than I like, but he battled tough and held on to the wire.” It was the second straight win and sixth of the year for McWicked. The eight-year-old stallion by McArdle is trained by Casie Coleman and owned by the S S G Stables of North Boston, NY. (Ed James) and paid $6.90 to win. With the $125,000 winners share of the purse, McWicked now sports career earnings of $4,878,342. By Steve Wolf, for Harneslink

YONKERS, N.Y. – While many of the horses competing in the Dan Rooney Invitational Pace compete on the Grand Circuit, traveling from track to track chasing harness racing’s biggest purses, Theartofconfusion will be at home. The $250,000 stakes on the Yonkers International Trot undercard will be the 99th local start for the 9-year-old Riverboat King gelding and his 55th straight race at the Hilltop. Theartofconfusion has the Yonkers all-age track record to his name after he became the first Standardbred to pace a sub-1:50 mile in the track’s 120-year history. The mile came unexpectedly in a $30,000 overnight Aug. 31. Despite Theartofconfusion’s typical off-the-pace tactics, driver Austin Siegelman gunned the gelding off the gate that night. Chasing Theartofconfusion with the whip, the pair left around Mach N Cheese and forced Ideal Cowboy to take the pocket. The rest was history. Theartofconfusion was on top by 2 lengths through a :26.2 opening panel and his lead increased to 2 ¾ lengths passing the half in :54.2. Twenty-seven-year-old reinsman Siegelman felt confident despite the torrid pace. “When I hit the half with him, and pretty much the whole race, I was just daring the horse to run away with me,” Siegelman said. “Setting the bit in his mouth and kind of growling at him and he was just responding to that.” Theartofconfusion left his rivals behind, pacing through three-quarters in 1:21.3 while up by 5. With Siegelman motionless in the sulky, Theartofconfusion pinned his ears back, kept his head down, and powered determinedly through the stretch to score by 10 lengths in the track record clocking. “I probably didn’t need to go that much with him, but at the three-quarter pole, when I saw the timer, I knew he’d set the track record because he just goes faster and faster,” Siegelman said. “I didn’t think he’d go that kind of mile until that day, but he is pretty much unbeatable on the front end. He doesn’t get tired. He’s big and strong,” Siegelman said. “He could have gone whatever that day.” Off his track record mile, which has since been equaled by Dan Rooney rival American History, Theartofconfusion won the $46,000 Open Handicap Pace Sept. 7 before a string of outside handicaps in the weekly feature saw him lose three straight from Sept. 14 to Oct. 5. However, Theartofconfusion landed post position two in the Rooney’s random draw. “Drawing outside, he really had no shot in any of those miles,” Siegelman said. “The horses that drew inside of him have a lot more speed than him. Finally drawing back inside, he did it at the right time. He’s been good the past three starts, just no shot.” Siegelman started driving Theartofconfusion in June, taking over from Mark MacDonald. Siegelman is in the midst of his biggest season to date. After getting the chance to drive full time at Yonkers and getting first call on Gilbert Garcia-Herrera’s horses, Siegelman has 283 wins this season with $2.97 million earned. While his Yonkers exploits are only responsible for 83 of his wins, his mounts have earned $2.22 million here. “This has for sure been my best year. I didn’t expect to drive at Yonkers, and now I’m getting stakes drives and I never get stakes drives,” Siegelman said. “It’s cool. I think I’m ready for it and I think I can drive with just about anybody. It’s just about getting the mounts and getting the security to where I can just relax on the racetrack about it and not worry about every race that I have to win. I think I’m finally getting there.” Despite his powerhouse season, Siegelman’s focus on Yonkers and his relationship with Garcia-Herrera were unexpected. “I just got lucky,” the driver said. “Guys called out sick and they needed to call me in. So, I showed up. Right after Monticello one day, I went over to Yonkers and showed up and happened to do some good for people and got listed back. “I drove a few odd times for (Gilbert). We just did all right whenever he got stuck with me and MacDonald started going to stakes races and I was there each night.” Theartofconfusion was among those Siegelman began to drive for Garcia-Herrara. Over their 16 starts together, Siegelman has learned to read the horse. “He’s a cool horse. He doesn’t do anything wrong. He’s nice to be around. He’s a little bit hot,” Siegelman said. “He’s a little hard to drive in that he doesn’t have the real quick speed that some of those other horses have, so that kind of puts me at a disadvantage. He’s kind of a one speed grinder that just doesn’t get tired. Every once in a while, you can get him out of the gate fast. “I think you either have to decide before the wings fold whether you’re just going to go on a mission and go forward,” he continued. “You have to take him off the gate otherwise. You either have to tell him he’s going to leave or not.” Despite Theartofconfusion’s track record performance, he’s a longshot in the Rooney. He’ll face Horse of the Year and defending Rooney winner McWicked, who enters for Casie Coleman and Brian Sears fresh off a win in the Allerage Open Pace at the Red Mile Oct. 5. Other rivals include Jimmy Freight, who drew the one hole off his Dayton Pacing Derby victory Sept. 27 and None Bettor, who will start from post five off a victory from the eight hole in the local $42,000 Open Handicap last out Sept. 28. Regular Yonkers competitors The Real One and Micky Gee drew will start from posts three and four, respectively, while This Is The Plan and American History will need to overcome wide draws. “He’s a 20-1 morning line. I don’t really look at the morning line, I don’t think it means much. I’m just happy to be in the race and have a shot to get money,” Siegelman said. “I have to push him out no matter what so he doesn’t gap,” the driver said. “We’ll see how it works out. It’s just a matter of whether I want to really tune him in scoring down or not. I’ll have to talk to Gilbert about that, see what he wants to do and how he feels he should race. I don’t have any strategy right now. We’re still thinking about it.” Although a Grand Circuit victory on the Yonkers International Trot undercard would be a milestone in Siegelman’s career, the reinsman thought first of Garcia-Herrera and co-owners Barbara and Donald Arnstine. “It would be cool for me, but I would just be happy to get the win for Gilbert, who’s pretty much supported me now for the past year,” Siegelman said. “It would be cool for him and those owners to get that. It’s not really about me. “Gilbert’s first owner owns this horse with him. They’re out of California. They’ve been with him the longest. It would be cool for those people.” The $250,000 Dan Rooney Pace will be held on the undercard of the $1 million Yonkers International Trot, slated for Saturday (Oct. 12) at Yonkers Raceway. The card will also feature the $250,000 Harry Harvey Trot at 10 furlongs. For more information on the event and its participants, click here. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, October 3, 2019--Yonkers Raceway's harness racing secretary Bob Miecuna has finalized the eight-horse field for the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace. The octet, part of the undercard for Saturday afternoon's (Oct. 12th) International Trot card, is (alphabetically)... American History (age 4) --fresh off matching Yonkers' all-age track record (1:49.3) this past Saturday night (Sept. 28th) after winning Harrington' Quillen Memorial in identical time in previous start. Courtly Choice (4) - wins in the Canadian Pacing Derby (Mohawk) and Commodore Barry Invitational (Harrah's Philly). At 3, won the Meadowlands Pace, Little Brown Jug (Delaware, OH) and Empire Breeders' Classic (Tioga). Jimmy Freight (4) -- won last week's Dayton Pacing Derby as well as Mohawk's Gold Cup. At 3, won the final of Ontario Sire Stakes Gold (Mohawk) and elim of Yonkers' Messenger Stakes before second in final. McWicked (8) - Really? $4.6 million in career earnings doesn't need much in the way of introduction, but...how about 2018's Harness Horse of the Year after wins in TVG (Meadowlands), Breeders Crown (Pocono), Dan Rooney (here), Allerage (Red Mile), Canadian Pacing Derby (Mohawk), Haughton Memorial (Meadowlands) and Ben Franklin (Pocono)? This season's wins include the Ewart Memorial (Scioto), Gerrity Memorial (Saratoga) and Roll With Joe (Tioga). None Bettor A (6) - his first North American season includes win in the Battle of Lake Erie and final of Great Northeast (Pocono), plus pair of Open Handicaps here. Theartofconfusion A (9) - set the local all-age track record (1:49.3) while working his way up through the conditioned ranks. Has raced exclusively here since August of 2017. This is the Plan (4) - wins in the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, Prix D'Ete (Hippodrome Three Rivers), Ben Franklin (Pocono) Well-traveled number is making Yonkers his 16th career venue. Western Fame (6) - early-season standout here, winning four legs and final of George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Post time for the International Trot matinee card is 1 PM. Post positions for the Rooney shall be drawn Monday afternoon (Oct. 7th). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Casie Coleman drew up the plans for McWicked’s 2018 campaign, Yonkers Raceway wasn’t among the potential targets for the star pacer. In fact, no half-mile tracks were, in part because Coleman believes McWick d is better on a big track and in part because owner Ed James of S S G Stable doesn’t like to race his horses on half-mile ovals. Coleman was surprised then, when James expressed interest in racing in the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace on the Yonkers International Trot undercard, especially since the timing of the race could upset McWicked’s path to the Breeders Crown. Despite the risk, Coleman changed course with McWicked to make the race, carded as the 11th of 12 on today’s program (October 13). “It wasn’t on the schedule at all. I wasn’t planning to get invited to it. It’s nice we did, obviously,” Coleman said. “My plan was to ship him home to Canada Sunday morning and have a week off to get ready for the Breeders Crown; that was the original plan that I thought was going to be perfect.  “When we got invited, you can’t turn it down. I didn’t think the owner would want to go. If the Breeders Crown goes eliminations, he’s going to be at six races in a row going into that Crown final, so it’s not something I would recommend,” she continued. “I’m really praying the Open Pace will go right to the final and then we’re perfect if that happens, but if they go elims, we’re going to be scared to have a tired horse going into the Crown final. The owner, I told him about it and he wanted to go. He said, ‘we’ll take a chance,’ so we’re going and we’ll hope for the best.” McWicked is the top earning Standardbred in North America this year with $1,053,864 in the bank. Wins in the Ben Franklin Final, Haughton Memorial, Canadian Pacing Derby, and a 1:46.2 lifetime best score in the Allerage Farms Open Pace last time out at the Red Mile October 6 earned him an invitation to the Rooney. It’s the best season the 7-year-old McArdle stallion has enjoyed since his sophomore year and has bolstered his record to 30-for-89 with $3,375,376 in career earnings.  “He was really good last year. He wasn’t this good, but he didn’t get into a lot of those big races because they went by money earned on the year and he didn’t have any money earned on the year,” Coleman said. “Now that he’s got money on his card, he’s been in all the big dances and he’s as strong now as he’s ever been, no doubt. He thinks he’s 3 again.” In his most recent start, McWicked raced off frantic fractions of :26.1 and :52.1 set by Western Fame and Heaven Rocks. He followed Filibuster Hanover around the final turn and tipped wide past three-quarters in 1:19.1. McWicked struck the front with a furlong to pace and held off parked-out rival Lazarus in the final sixteenth to win by ¾ lengths. “I couldn’t have been any happier with the way it set up. ‘Wicked’ seems to get a lot of tough trips, he’s first-over a lot. He seems to respond to it, he always races really well obviously,” Coleman said. “When I saw the fast fractions up front and he was second-over, Lazarus ended up being parked the mile, so that was to our advantage. I was really happy for the way it was setting up. “He’s been pacing some pretty big miles and that track was the fastest track I’ve seen of any track,” she continued. “That track was lightning. I was definitely expecting a big, big mile and with the fractions, it set up to go a big mile.” Despite McWicked’s torrid winning and beaten times – he’s been sub-1:50 in all but one of his 2018 starts at a mile and sub-1:49 in five – McWicked is a lazy horse in training and until recently, was a muted personality in the barn. “He’s always been a cool horse. As a 3-year-old, he was a really quiet horse. He made no noise and you would never even know he was in the barn. Now, he’s doing double duty, he’s breeding and racing, so he’s squealing and roaring and he knows he’s the boss, basically,” said Coleman, who’s trained McWicked for the bulk of his career. “There’s not many horses I’ve had as long as him except for back when I had claimers because the other ones either go to be broodmares or stallions,” she said. “He’s been around a long time. It’s pretty cool. We always call him the mascot. There’s not many mascots that are in the barn that have made $3.3 million. We call him the mascot because he’s been there forever. “To drive he’s an absolute sweetheart. If you want to go a mile in 2:25, he’ll go in 2:40. He’s very, very lazy. When you watch him race, he doesn’t want much part of the race until they’re past the half. He’s always gapped out and that’s just him,” she continued. “As a 3-year-old, he used to leave more, but this year, he’s very lazy. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s a nice horse, he just squeals and roars a lot, makes a lot of noise, makes sure everybody knows he’s there.” Only $180,990 of McWicked’s career earnings have come on the half-mile track. He finished fifth in the Little Brown Jug and third in the Messenger at 3. At 5, McWicked finished third in the Molson Pace before finally winning on the half at age 6; he took a $30,000 overnight at Yonkers in his 2017 debut March 11 and won a leg of the Levy Series a month later. He finished last in the Levy Final April 22 for trainer Steve Elliot and hasn’t raced on the half since. “He gets around the half fine, he’s good-gaited. I haven’t been to the half that much with him,” Coleman said. “When I went to the Jug, I was extremely excited about McWicked. I thought he would fly over the half and he was no good there, I wasn’t happy with him, he was flat. I never really did find out what it was.  “I’m hoping he’s fine,” she continued. “I don’t see why he’ll have an issue with the half because he’s very good-gaited and he’ll get around anything, but he’s definitely not at his best on the half like he is on a big track.” McWicked drew post 2 in the Dan Rooney Pace and is the 2-1 morning line favorite with regular reinsman Brian Sears in the sulky. Nuclear Dragon is 5-2 from the inside off a front-stepping 1:50.2 score at Dayton while Endeavor to McWicked’s immediate outside enters off a similar score at Hoosier.  Bit Of A Legend, who finished second to Wiggle It Jiggleit in this race in 2015, will start from post 4 off a win in the local $44,000 Open Handicap Pace last out. Evenin Of Pleasure, Mach It So, and Always At My Place complete the lineup after the late sick scratch of Lazarus Friday morning.  “I have no idea what Brian will do on the half,” Coleman admitted. “The rail horse has a ton of speed and the three horse has a ton of speed. I don’t know what Brian will do, but as long as we get away midpack somewhere, I’m happy. I just hope that we can get our picture taken again.” Today’s card also features the $1,000,000 Yonkers International Trot and the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot. 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

Harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter has confirmed that Lazarus has been scratched sick from the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace at Yonkers Raceway Saturday afternoon. “He started coughing yesterday and continued today,” Takter said. “I was not going to take any chances of hurting him. Now we can make sure he is OK for the Breeders Crown.” Lazarus was to start from post six and rival McWicked drew inside of him (post 2) for their fifth battle. The score now is tied 2-2. The two horses should battle once again in the Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

YONKERS, NY, Monday, October 8, 2018--Post positions have been drawn for Saturday afternoon's (Oct. 13th) pair of Yonkers Raceway $250,000 Invitationals, the Harry Harvey Trot and Dan Rooney Pace (program pages accompany). The card will also feature the rivalry of McWicked and Lazarus battling again. The Harry Harvey goes as the seventh race (post time 3:10 PM), immediately before the $1 million Yonkers International Trot @ Empire City Casino. Both are 10-horse fields (eight on the gate, two in the second tier) carded at the mile-and-a-quarter distance. Here's the field for the Harvey..1-Warrawee Roo (Dan Dube), 2-Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller), 3-Guardian Angel AS (Matt Kakaley), 4-In Secret (George Brennan), 5-Yes Mickey (Jason Bartlett), 6-Gruden (Tim Tetrick), 7- NF Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.), 8-Sortie (Trond Smedshammer), 9-DW's NY Yank (Yannick Gingras), 10-Homidice Hunter (Brian Sears). The Rooney, going the penultimate 11th race (post time 5 PM), drew out as such..1-Nuclear Dragon (Tetrick), 2-McWicked (Sears), 3-Endeavor (Tetrick also listed), 4-Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton), 5-Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), 6-Lazarus N (Gingras), 7-Mach it So (Bartlett), 8-Always at My Place (Brennan). Saturday's race schedule... Race 1 - 1 PM Race 2 - 1:20 PM Race 3 - 1:40 PM Race 4 - 2 PM Race 5 - 2:20 PM Race 6 - 2:40 PM Race 7 - 3:10 PM $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot (1¼ miles) Race 8 - 3:40 PM $1 million Yonkers International Trot @ Empire City Casino (1¼ miles) Race 9 - 4:10 PM Open Trot (1¼ miles) Race 10 - 4:40 PM Trot (1¼ miles) Race 11 - 5 PM $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace Race 12 - 5:20 PM The 40th International Trot is to be drawn Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 9th) at a midtown luncheon. A reminder that races 7 and 8 are part of a special all-stakes Pick 4 with Belmont Park (Pebbles and Floral Park). Races 7 through 10 are simulcast to the French-hubbed audience. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Yonkers, NY --- With a three-wide sweeping rush, All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) got to the finish line first by a slim margin in the harness racing $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 14) at Yonkers Raceway in 1:51.4. All Bets Are Off is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Baldachino and Pan Hellenic Stables. It was his 27th career win and pushed his lifetime earnings to $2,834,832. Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) grabbed the lead at first call, getting to the quarter in :26.4, with race favorite Sintra trailing him. By the :55.3 half, Bit Of A Legend A (Jordan Stratton) still had the lead but was soon overtaken by Somewhere In LA (Jason Bartlett) who had the lead at the 1:23.1 three-quarters. With a cavalry charge down the homestretch, Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) went three-wide to chase down the leaders and grab the lead at the head of the stretch. But All Bets Off was coming fastest of all and got up on the outside to just nip All Bets Off at the wire. Wining driver Matt Kakaley said he had no fear of timing the wire just right. “That was perfect, it worked out great," he said. "I think he likes it that way (accelerating late in the race), it’s worked good the last two weeks and the trip just was perfect today. I was pretty confident (he would get to the wire in time) it was working out good for him. Shannon Murphy, assistant trainer for the Burke Stable, was similarly confident. “I thought he’d get there; he likes that. If I owned him maybe it would be tough on my heart. Breeders Crown is next for him.”   by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications 

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