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YONKERS, N.Y. – When it comes to the success of New Zealand-bred Italian Delight in the U.S., Darran Cassar says there are no secrets. Italian Delight is 3-for-4 since making his American debut in mid-January and the harness racing trainer says the addition of Lasix has been a key in the horse living up to his potential. “Lasix helps him a lot and he’s just a professional horse,” Cassar said. “Nothing bothers him. He makes my life, everyone’s life a lot easier. He’s good-gaited. He just does everything right. No headpoles and he wants to do it. I have to give credit to the horse, really. He’s made my job easy because he really doesn’t take a lot of work. It’s just a matter of keeping him happy.” Cassar began watching Italian Delight in 2018 when an agent informed Cassar the Bettor’s Delight gelding was for sale. Cassar’s interest piqued after seeing Italian Delight beat Seaswift Joy in Auckland April 6, 2018. However, at that time Cassar felt the price was too high and Italian Delight was sold to Australia. “The first thing is he’s a Bettor’s Delight. Usually I’m a big fan. They usually make good racehorses once they’re over here,” Cassar said. “If you go back through his form in New Zealand, he actually beat a horse called Seaswift Joy. She’s a good Open mare over here for Tony Alagna. He sat on her back and beat her fair and square and that was when I started paying attention.” Italian Delight’s Australian performances lacked luster. He only won two races in 26 starts Down Under between Oct. 20, 2018 and Nov. 23, 2019. Cassar again had the opportunity to purchase Italian Delight, and this time he and owner Windermere Stable took the chance, despite a late modification to the deal. “When you’re buying them for the right price, you can always take a chance on a horse like that,” Cassar said. “He was up in the classes, in the Opens or just below it, and he was still functioning without being as good as he probably could have been. If he was more money, maybe I wouldn’t have taken a chance, but I’ve bought a few horses off the same trainer before and he’s usually steered me in the right direction.” Italian Delight arrived in Cassar’s barn in early December. He looked the perfect size for a Bettor’s Delight, but was just OK in his first training trip. Cassar’s experience told him the horse had a bleeding problem. “The second time (training), I gave him Lasix and he was a totally different horse. Ever since then, we really haven’t trained him too hard because of the bleeding situation. It just seems to be working,” Cassar said. “We took care of the bleeding and got him on a program where we don’t stress him, he doesn’t injure himself during the week and we just race him from there.” After that second training trip, Cassar knew the deal they had struck to buy Italian Delight would pay off. “We had him bought and then they came back and said, ‘no, we want (more),” Cassar recalled. “Usually, I walk away from things like that, but I told the owner, you know what, let’s just buy him. I texted him a week before the qualifier and said, ‘that $5,000 you just spent is the best $5,000 you will spend for a long time.’ ” Italian Delight qualified Jan. 4 at the Meadowlands, a couple weeks ahead of schedule. With Dexter Dunn driving, Italian Delight finished fourth and qualified in 1:55.4 with a :27.0 final quarter. One week later, Italian Delight made his pari-mutuel debut in a $16,000 overnight at the Swamp and kicked home in :25.4 to score an off-the-pace 1:50.1 victory. “He never kicked the earplugs. I think it was a bit of a drop in competition from what he was racing, but he was a pretty good closer back in Australia and the race setup right for him,” Cassar said. “I give credit to the horse because he’s so professional. There’s no fancy equipment, no headpoles, he just goes on the track and wants to do it. When they don’t stress themselves, it makes a big difference.” Italian Delight stepped up in class Jan. 18 and doubled up when making another late move, but was only third Feb. 1 in a $37,500 Meadowlands overnight when he raced on the lead. “He’s definitely better closing. I think we saw that at the Meadowlands when he had to cut that mile,” Cassar said. “Saying that, I don’t think he was quite 100 percent that night. He was sick after that second win and I just don’t think was quite right for that Meadowlands start when he ran third.” Last week (Feb. 8), Italian Delight made his Yonkers Raceway debut in a $27,000 overnight. After warming Italian Delight up, Cassar felt confident when handing the lines to Brent Holland. “I spoke to Brent before the race and said, ‘listen, nothing fancy, just take him off the gate, first-over and he’ll win,’ and I was pretty confident when I told him that.” Everything went according to plan as Holland watched from 5 lengths behind as Anythingforlove set the tempo in :27.4 and :56.4. Holland tipped Italian Delight first-over as the field straightened away into the stretch the first time around. Italian Delight advanced willingly and drew even with Anythingforlove through three-quarters in 1:24.1. Racing around the final turn, Holland sat statuesque as Italian Delight headed Anythingforlove. In the lane, Holland put the whip on Italian Delight’s tail and the horse took off, leaving his competition 2 1/2 lengths behind in a 1:52.4 mile. “He got around Yonkers perfect,” Cassar said. “He just did it pretty easy in the end. It was a perfect situation where he just got the job done. There was no traffic, he just got to do his own thing and he was good enough to do it. It was a stress-free race considering he had to go first-over in 52.” Although the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, formerly the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway, wasn’t initially on Cassar’s radar, the trainer and owner made the decision this week to nominate Italian Delight. “It’s a tough series for a horse that just came over considering he’s only had four or five starts since he’s been here and there’s good horses in there,” Cassar said. “But after we spoke about it, there may not be another place to race. The other tracks aren’t all open, plus they’re not really going to fill Opens, so if you don’t go to the Levy, you really don’t have any other places to race. Is he good enough? I think so, but we’re just going to have to manage him the right way. It’s a tough series. But as of now, he’s going to be in there.” Italian Delight will face his toughest test to date Saturday night (Feb. 15) in the $40,000 Open Handicap Pace. He and Holland will start from post three in the pacing feature and are 7-1 on the morning line. The competition includes Trump Nation, who exits a 1:49.4 victory in the Meadowlands Preferred Feb. 8. George Brennan will drive the 5-year-old from post seven for Ron Burke. Jack’s Legend won last week’s local pacing feature at odds-on and will look to repeat from post six for Jason Bartlett and Rich Banca. Ostro Hanover’s win 4-race streak snapped with last week’s runner up finish to Jack’s Legend; the Rene Allard trainee will look to start a new streak from post five. Joesstar Of Mia, Harambe Deo, and Tookadiveoffdipper complete the lineup. If Cassar has his way, Italian Delight will make a first-over move again and try to duplicate last week’s win. “I’ll leave it up to Brent now that he’s driven the horse once. He knows the competition,” Cassar said. “Personally, I’d like to see the same thing. It’s tougher competition, it’s probably going to be the toughest he’s faced. Whatever Brent does, he does. I’m sure the horse can be used a little bit early, but after last week, if it ain’t broke, I wouldn’t fix it. “Every week you just don’t know who’s going to show up. It’s the Open, that’s just how it is. If he doesn’t face (Trump Nation) this week, he’s going to have to face him in a month in the Levy. He’s pretty exciting right now, but if that’s his limit, that’s his limit,” Cassar said. “We’ll just take care of the horse. He’s been good to us so far, we want to do the right thing by him. I’ve got a lot of horses there now that are 9, 10, 11 years old that are still racing because we do the right thing by them. They show up to Yonkers week in and week out and that can be a little bit tough on them, but if you do the right thing, they can last a long time and make a lot of money.” Saturday night’s card also features the $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 7:05 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (April 8, 2017) - Alberto Contador took the worst of it with a parked out journey, but the classy harness racing 9-year-old survived to win Saturday's $20,000 featured pace at the Meadowlands over the razor-sharp City Hall. Bullet Bob left the gate fastest and led the field of eight through an opening quarter in :27.1 before City Hall moved to the lead. Down the backstretch, Corey Callahan sent Alberto Contador on a brush towards the lead, but could not clear City Hall, who had won three of his last four starts. The duo continued their cutthroat battle through a half mile in :55 and three-quarters in 1:23. Just when it appeared that Alberto Contador would wilt from the long journey, he found more and gutted out a head victory over City Hall in 1:50.4. 2/1 favorite Rodeo Romeo rallied to be third by a neck. The win was Alberto Contador's fourth of the year and 35th lifetime for trainer Darran Cassar and Windermere Stable. Corey Callahan won three races including the feature and David Miller also added a driving hat trick. Favorites won nine of the 11 races on the program. Total handle was $2,419,537. Racing resumes Friday. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit Justin Horowitz

Smart Queensland pacer Terror Time has been sold and will do his future harness racing in North America. The former Gr.1 Nursery Pace winner was trained throughout his career by husband and wife combination of Shannon Price and Scott Miller and now heads to stables of leading horseman Darren Cassar, a native of Sydney. In recent times, Cassar has enjoyed good success with former ‘down under’ pacers including Montana Pablo, Erle Dale, Mr Hasani, Lettucerocku and many others. Terror Time, a homebred gelded son of Western Terror out of the Camtastic mare Kotare Cameo won 23 of his 73 career starts while banking close to $300,000 in prizemoney. “Wilson (Terror Time) did a wonderful job for us and he’s a very special horse to the family for a number of reasons." "The fact we bred him, raced him and claimed a major event in his first season of racing has left us with memories forever.” Shannon Price said. Terror Time is due to fly to North America on Sunday week (August 2). From 21 starts this season, Terror Time has won only twice while competing at the highest level. At his most recent start, Terror Time finished toward the rear of the field behind star four-year-old Bling It On in a mile rate of 1;54.0 at Albion Park on July4 “It’s hard at the elite level and he found it tough going if he didn’t draw well, you’re relying on a fair bit of luck going your way and unfortunately we didn’t get any with him this term." "Some of his efforts have been really good; he went back to back in April and May and rated good time on both occasions." “My favourite memory of him would easily be the Nursery Pace victory because we didn’t expect to win that night and he fairly and squarely defeated Soho Valencia." "It was pouring down rain that night and although we had excellent lead-in form, Soho Valencia was expected to win but Wilson charged down the outside to win it." “He’ll do a nice job up there because he’s strong and holds his speed well, he’s always been very well looked after and he hasn’t been overly raced for his age." "It will be fun to monitor his progress and watch him race via SKY Channel, I just wonder how his best mate Baxter (American Legend) is going to cope without him being around.” Terror Time was bred and raced by the late Tony Price along with his wife, Katy. Chris Barsby

Queensland teenager Brittany Graham teams up with an old stable favourite to make her North American harness racing driving debut in the third race at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon. Graham, 19, one of two Queensland young guns experiencing an month long educational award in the US, will drive an ex-Aussie pacer Montana Pablo from the pole position in the $9,000 Conditioned Pace over one mile. This season, Montana Pablo is a nine-start maiden for Gateway Farms trainer Darran Cassar and owner Joe Muscara but last season the pacer was in sizzling form, winning at Yonkers. Before being exported to the USA, Montana Pablo was a real handy open class campaigner for Brittany’s father, trainer Darrel Graham. The seven-year-old gelding by Blissful Hall won $123,068 with 18 wins and 18 placings from 79 Queensland race starts and had its last start in June 2013 at the Gold Coast when runner up to top mare Forever Gold, Graham, who got the feel for North American racing, driving in a Qualifier at The Meadowlands recently, tweeted today, “Giddy up Pabzy”. “I’m so excited for my first US drive on Wednesday,” She said. The Harrah’s (Chester) Philadelphia Racetrack is one of North America's best places for harness racing, boasting one of the fastest 5/8 mile horse racing surfaces anywhere with its first-of-its-kind in North America miracle turn that actually extends over the Delaware River with a specially constructed bridge. Top horses and top driver races at this track and Graham's oposition on Wednesday will include USA’s 2015 World Driving Championship representative Tim Tetrick. Graham and fellow Queensland young gun Trent Moffat, who have both been mentored by champion expat Australian trainer Ross Croghan during their educational stay in New Jersey, will return to Australia at the end of next next week. WATCH YOU TUBE: Interview with Brittany Graham at The Meadowlands Pace: Brittany speaks about her drive on Wednesday. by David Aldred

The featured event on Sunday (June 7) from the harness racing meeting at Harrah's Philadelphia was a pace for non-winners of $27,500 in the last 5 starts going for a purse of $25,000. The wagering public put their support behind 8-year-old gelding Dream Out Loud N. The son of Bettor's Delight was coming off of a fast closing third against similar at Yonkers. Driver Tim Tetrick settled into forth in the early stages, as Teddy Baker trainee Getitoffyourchest (Marcus Miller) and Ron Burke charge Outrageous Art (Yannick Gingras) battled for the early lead. After a fast opening quarter (:26), the tempo slowed, with Outrageous Art on top at the half (:54.3). That's when the race favorite got in gear, as Dream Out Loud N moved confidently first-over to challenge for the lead. He was on even terms with the pace setter at three-quarters (1:21.3). He was able to wear down the leader in the stretch, going on to a two length victory, stopping the timer in 1:50.1 Abelard Hanover (Scott Zeron) closed up the inside for second, while Outrageous Art faded to third. It was the nineteenth career win for Dream Out Loud N, moving his career earnings close to the $400,000 mark. The winner ($4.20) is owned by Muscara Racing Stables, and was one of three training wins for Darran Cassar. Tim Tetrick had five driving wins on the afternoon. Michael Bozich

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 29, 2014- First-up McErlean (Eric Carlson, $19) held off favored Beach Memories (George Brennan) Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Harness Racing Open Handicap Pace. Sitting in early from post position No. 4, McErlean watched as Mickey Hanover (Dan Dube) had to work to get around pole-assignee Orillia Joe (Brent Holland). "Mickey" did, getting early fractions of :27.3 and :56.4. Shortly thereafter, MrErlean moved from fifth, with locally-debuting Beach Memories--as the 9-10 choice--in behind. Mickey Hanover led past the 1:25.1 three-quarters, but was about to drop anchor. It was McErlean taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, then holding off Beach Memories by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.3. Orillia Joe, P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) and Mach's Beach Boy (Pat Lachance) rounded out the payees. For fourth choice McErlean, a 5-year-son of McArdle owned by Muscara Racing Trust and trained by Darren Cassar, it was his eighth win in 30 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $69.50, with the triple returning $505. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule changes, with first post every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fourth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) this weekend at 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

The New Zealand pacer Dream Out Loud joined a select group of his country's harness racing horses when he won at Harrahs Chester yesterday in a career best of 1:48.4f despite a broken right front hopple and he was just two-fifths of a second of the track record. It was his third win of the year and followed an unlucky second in 1:49.3 at the same track at his previous start. Bred in New Zealand by well respected breeder, Brian West, Dream Out Loud was bred to be something special. By champion sire Bettors Delight, he is from an In The Pocket half sister to the the former grand circuit star Defoe 1:53 ($262,895). It is a family that Brian West has developed over 30 years to the point where it is now one of New Zealand's most sought after maternal families. Developed in New Zealand for his racing career by noted conditioner Steve Dolan, Dream Out Loud showed his potential from the start,winning his first three starts with ease. An Australian raid netted a couple of wins from a handful of starts and by the time he was purchased for North American racing by Joe Muscara in June last year, he had racked up nine wins in Australasia for stakes of ($91,792) with a best winning time of 1:54.4. Since arriving in North America,he has shown a real liking for the racing in his adopted homeland. With yesterdays win he took his stake earnings since his arrival to ($160,565) with the promise of much more to come. Dream Out Loud is trained by ex Australian Darren Cassar. The manner of his latest win where he lead from the quarter pole and won without being unduly pressured gave hope that he may yet be New Zealand's first 1:47 pacer. Harnesslink media

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, April 1, 2014-Favored Extreme Machine N (Eric Goodell) prevailed from loosest of pockets Tuesday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $67,400 final of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series. The Teddy Roosevelt-approved series, for 3- and 4-year-old colts and geldings, culminated with Yonkers Raceway's richest race of the season to date. Extreme Machine N, as the 9-10 favorite, won the draw and watched as Artist Night (George Brennan) set sail on a mission. That mission included a 28-second opening quarter-mile and :55.3 half. All the while, Extreme Machine N was pacing just enough to make sure outside leavers Ashley's Husband (Jordan Derue) and A Stitch in Time (Ron Pierce) had no hole. Artist Night had five lengths at the wicked 1:22.4 three-quarters before Goodell asked his charge to close ranks. The margin was a length-and-a-half entering the lane, but the fractions were shockingly taking their toll. Extreme Machine N went by, getting the best of a three-hole-sitting Sir Michigan Z Tam by a half-length in a life-best 1:52.1. Artist Night held third, beaten a couple of lengths, with City Hall (Brian Sears) and Touchdown Mindale (Andy Miller) grabbing the remainder. Wilcox (Dan Dube), "Ashley" and A Stitch in Time rounded out the order. "I haven't seen the end to him yet," Goodell said. "I didn't want to be right on George's (Brennan, driving Artist Night) back, and even with those fractions, I was worried I waited too long. "In the (final) turn, he started to come back to me. (Extreme Machine N) steers a bit funny, and has a lot to learn, but the more experience he gets over here, he's just going to get better." For Extreme Machine N, a 4-year-old Down Under Mach Three gelding owned by Joseph Muscara and trained by Darren Cassar, he returned $3.90 for his third win as many seasonal/series/North American starts. The exacta paid $18, the triple returned $42.20 and the superfecta paid $104. A trio of series consolations, worth $25,000, $12,500 and $12,500, respectively, were won by I Dreamed a Dream (Pat Lachance, $14) in 1:54.2, Rolandale Buster (Dube, $8.20) in a life-best 1:54.4, and Artacus (catch-driver Miller, $38.20) in a life-best 1:54. Tuesday's Pick-5 pool, fortified with a $7,907.68 carryover and featuring a $25,000 guaranteed pool, induced $32,731 of fresh coin into the equation. The winning combination of 3/4/6/1/5 returned a tidy $16,228 to a pair of intelligent handicappers. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway          

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 15, 2014--Montana Pablo A (Ron Pierce) prevailed from second-over Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's Ides of March $22,000 featured high-conditioned pace. Away fourth from position No. 4, "Pablo" saw 17-10 favorite Sapphire City (Eric Carlson) control the intervals of :27.3 and :56.1. Aracache Hanover (George Brennan) then moved from third, with Montana Pablo A tailing. It was Sapphire City leading in and out of a 1:24.3 three-quarters, with "Aracache" turning up the assault entering the lane. Montana Pablo A went wide, with 36-1 Rock to Glory (Jordan Stratton) skimming the cones inside. Outside whipped inside by a neck in a season's-best 1:52.3. Here We Go Again was third, with Sapphire City and Glass Prince (Brian Sears) rounding out the payees. Pierce and Sears each had four winners on the 12-race card. For Montana Pablo A, a 7-year-old Down Under Blissfull Hall gelding owned by Joe Muscara and trained by Darren Cassar, he returned $12.20 (fourth choice) for his fourth win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $264, with the triple returning $1,767. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker  

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - Yonkers Raceway's stakes season continued Tuesday night, with the opening round of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series. The annual tribute to Teddy Roosevelt, for 3- and 4-year-old gentlemen who are/were non-winners of four races and/or $40,000 through last Dec. 1, offered up eight, $12,500 divisions. Turns out that the last division (Touchdown Mindale) was also the swiftest (1:53.3), with the entire list of winners as such... --Artist Night,g,4 (by American Ideal); co-owners (as Burke Racing) trainer Ron Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,Howard Taylor/driver George Brennan; 1:54/$3.20; --Sir Michigan Z Tam,g,4 (by Somebeachsomewhere); co-owners (trainer/driver) Pat Lachance,M&M Harness Racing,Ira Rosenblum; 1:55.4/$4.10; --Rocks N Bonds,g,4 (by Rocknroll Hanover); owner Kostas Tsanakos/trainer Ivan Llopez/driver Eric Abbatiello; 1:55.1/$4.60; --A Stitch in Time,g,4 (by Kent's on Nuke); owner A Piece of the Action/trainer Lou Pena/driver Brian Sears; 1:54.1/$2.10; --I Dream a Dream,g,4 (by Western Ideal); co-owners Lomangino Standardbreds,Leo Lomangino/trainer-driver Lachance; (life-best) 1:54/$18.60; --Ashley's Husband,g,4 (by Henry Clay); owner W J Donovan/trainer Kyle Spagnola/driver Jordan Derue; 1:56.1/$2.50; --K-Lee's Shakenbake,g,4 (by Raycer Thad); co-owners Martin Scharf,David Linker/trainer Darren Cassar/driver Ron Pierce; 1:54.4/$3; --Touchdown Mindale,g,4 (by Always A Virgin); co-owners Erv Miller Stb,Harvey Eisman,Leland & Owen Mathias/trainer Nick Surick/driver Marcus Miller; 1:53.3/$22.40. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 11, 2014--Dream Out Loud N (Matt Kakaley) picked off favored Bettor's Edge (George Brennan) Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $33,000 Open Handicap Pace. Assigned post position No. 2, he worked out a pocket trip behind 2-5 choice Bettor's Edge. That one threw down intervals of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:25.2. All the while, he was pestered by a fumbly-gaited, but persistent, longshot Eddie Sweat (Jason Bartlett). Bettor's Edge eventually dismissed that one, taking a length lead into the lane. However, Dream Out Loud N was just minding his business. He angled out and easily went by, the margin a couple of lengths in 1:53.3. Bettor's Edge held second, with Dallenbach Hanover (Brian Sears), Lumberjack Willie (Jordan Stratton) and Sapphire City (Eric Carlson) settling for the remainder. For Dream Out Loud N, a 7-year-old Down Under Bettor's Delight gelding owned by Joe Muscara and trained by Darren Cassar, he returned $18 (third choice) for a season-debuting victory. The exacta paid $38.20, with the triple returning $106.50. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker  

Our Cullenscrown N and harness racing driver Brian Sears, (three winners on the 12-race card) continued his form spree Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway $28,000 moist, winners-over pace.

Ex-pat Australian harness racing conditioner Darran Cassar will find out just how good the fastest horse he has trained really is when Mr. Hasani N lines up in a $75,000 Open at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday afternoon.

The 16th Annual SBOANJ Golf Outing raised funds to benefit harness racing horsemen and produced a fun day for 115 golfers on July 11, 2011 at Gambler Ridge Golf Course in Cream Ridge, NJ. The golfers lucked into a mid-90s day with enough of a breeze to let them tour the course in fine form. In total, 130 people took part in the festivities, including a prime rib dinner.

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