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Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing history was made at Freehold Raceway on Saturday, as Podium Girl wrapped up the New Jersey Sire Stakes- Standardbred Development Fund series with a bang. She won the $56,000 final for 2-year-old pacing fillies in 1:54.3, equaling the track record.   Off an impressive win in the first leg of the series two weeks ago, she was sent off as the 1/5 favorite in the field of eight. Driver George Brennan had her in the pocket early on, off In High Cotton, but soon moved her to the front and got her to the lead at the half. She maintained a comfortable lead going by three-quarters, and pulled away in the stretch to win by 3 1/2 lengths.       Podium Girl's win marks the third time a 2-year-old filly has paced in 1:54.3 at Freehold. The mark was first set by Darlin's Delight, who won the Molly Pitcher on August 20, 2005. It was then equaled by I Kill Time, while winning the NJSS-SDF Final on September 25, 2010.   For Podium Girl, Saturday's win marks her fifth career win from eleven starts, and pushes her career earnings past the $104,000 mark. She's owned by Henderson Farms, Robert Mondillo, and Barry Spak, and trained by Chris Ryder.   Live racing resumes at Freehold Raceway on Friday, October 30, starting at 12:30 PM.   From Freehold Raceway  

Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway hosted the $48,000 Renaissance Pace for two-year-old fillies Saturday (October 3).    Harness racing driver Daniel Dube was looking for a stakes sweep, driving Significant Other. He went out to a clear lead with his filly, and led turning for home at 36/1. However, favored Podium Girl closed strongly from the back of the pack, and got up to win by 3/4 of a length.   She paced the mile in 1:57.2, for her third win of her career. George Brennan was in the bike, for owners Henderson Farms, Robert Mondillo, and Barry Spak, and trainer Chris Ryder.       The first leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes- Standardbred Development Fund for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers was expected to be a coronation for King James Express. Off a string of stakes wins, he was the 1/5 favorite in the field of six. However, he broke stride twice, costing him a chance at victory.   Meanwhile, second choice Captain Fancy saved ground off the leader, then got by early leader Not Today to win by 1 3/4 lengths. He avenged his defeat to King James Express in the Renaissance last week with this win. He went the mile in 1:58, for owners Vincent Ali, Alma Iafelice, and Theodore Gewertz, trainer Bill MacKenzie, and driver Dan Dube.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday, with a scheduled first post time of 12:30 PM.   From Freehold Raceway      

Freehold Raceway will celebrate the harness racing luck of the Irish on Friday the 13th this year, when they play host to the annual St. Patrick's Day Pace.   The race is scheduled as the fourth on the ten-race program. As usual, the race features a lineup of all Irish drivers.   The field, from the rail out, consists of Classic River, with George Brennan, JV'z Dream, with Ron Burke, Happilyeverfaster, for Jim Whelan, Anotherprettyface, with last year's winner, Jack Killeen, Our Royal Majesty, for Jack Baggitt Jr, Nora's Tandt, with Mike Whelan, Dear Diary, with Irish Joe Hanney, and J Danae, for Anthony Haughan.   Race sponsor, Peter Grandich & Co,. will make a presentation to the winning driver after the race.   The first race on Friday is scheduled for 12:30 PM EDT.   From Freehold Raceway  

YONKERS, N.Y. – The Standardbred Owners Association of New York will make a presentation to the 2019 leading drivers and trainer at Yonkers Raceway Monday night (March 2). Drivers Jason Bartlett and George Brennan, who dead-heated for the most wins last season with 427 each, and trainer Scott Di Domenico, who dominated the trainer’s standings with 180 victories, will each be recognized for their achievements on the racetrack The driver’s race became one of the highlights of the 2019 season at Yonkers and put an unexpected twist on the final few days of racing. After nearly 11 months of competition and over 2,000 starts by the track’s leading drivers, there is typically little left to be settled in the meet’s final weeks. For instance, by Dec. 1, 2018, Jason Bartlett had a 104-win edge on Jordan Stratton. In 2017, Bartlett came into the stretch of the meet with a 153-win margin. However, with two racing days left in the 2019 season, Jason Bartlett and George Brennan were locked in a tight battle for the Yonkers driving title. At Dec. 1, the duo was separated by just three wins, with Brennan ahead 406 to 403. After trading blows throughout December, Bartlett brought a three-win margin into the penultimate night of competition (Dec.16) with 423 wins. It was the closest race in Bartlett’s memory. “Usually by this time, everything is cut and dry of who’s going to get it and who’s not,” Bartlett said. “Between me and George, we drive hard against each other. We’ve always done that. At the end of the day, we still respect each other on and off the track. It’s a good competition, but at the end of the day, we still have a job to do and that’s to win races and get as much money as we can for the trainers.” Bartlett drove four winners on the penultimate card to Brennan’s two, giving the former a 427-423 edge going into the final night of racing Dec. 17. Adding a further complication to the contest, Bartlett missed the final card due to a previously scheduled family vacation. Brennan won four of the first 10 races on the Closing Night program, tying the standings at 427 and had a chance to take sole possession in the final race with Lord Of Misrule. However, when that pacer finished fourth, the standings were final. After 2,657 races from January 7 through December 17, the contest ended in a dead heat. “It was very exciting. I’ve been leading driver before, but this was the most exciting driving race I’ve been involved in. It was a lot of fun,” Brennan said. “I just went about my business and that’s how it ended. It’s a lot of work, a lot of dedication, good clients. It means a lot. “You can’t really think about it. You just have to go about your business and try to stay safe and win races,” Brennan said. “There was something going on with the driving title, but in a sense, it’s secondary because you still have to get the job done, you still have to get the most amount of money for your owners and trainers you’re driving for. That’s the number one priority there.” Bartlett and Brennan both experienced memorable wins in the final week of racing. Bartlett drove Mach It A Par to victory Friday, Dec. 13 in her final career start. The $1.1 million-earning mare aired by 4 1/2 lengths in her bow, her 82nd start and 17th win with Bartlett. Brennan scored with 11-year-old millionaire trotter DW’s NY Yank on the final night of racing in the pair’s 82nd start and 25th win together. Bartlett, 38, won his ninth Hilltop title while Brennan, 52, earned his third. Bartlett saw Brennan as a mentor and an inspiration growing up, making the contest even more meaningful. However, the pair can leave the competition on the track and focus on their work. “He’s a driver that I’ve looked up to my whole life,” Bartlett said. “Being in a competition against him, running for number one, is a pretty big deal for me. Growing up and knowing George and looking up to him. “For me, it means I’m doing my job. I’m there to win races and business is good. Every year, you shoot for it. You’ve got to have a little luck along the way and get some horsepower,” Bartlett said. “It’s a job that I love to do, I’m very competitive at it and it’s really nice to go to work and know every race matters. There’s no messing up. I know a lot of people are watching it.” “I just want to thank all the trainers and owners and caretakers that look after and train the horses, because I can’t do it without them. A big thank you to them,” Brennan said. While Bartlett and Brennan battled to the wire for the driving title, Scott Di Domenico enjoyed an insurmountable lead in the training ranks. The 38-year-old harnessed 180 winners at Yonkers in 2019, 27 more than 2018 champion Rene Allard. It is Di Domenico’s first training title at Yonkers, a goal the he has been working toward for years. He was second in the standings last year with 160 wins and third in 2017 with 117. “It was great. To do that, it’s been something that I’ve been close to a few times over the last three or four years, but never got it solidified. To be able to get it done last year was really special,” Di Domenico said. “It was never anything that I was praying every night that I would get, but you work hard every day and you strive for goals and you strive to win races. When it all comes together like it did, it was really gratifying.” Allard topped the standings through July, but Di Domenico took over a narrow lead in August. Di Domenico extended the margin through the end of the season. However, which such a long season, the title wasn’t something Di Domenico focused on nightly. “Never gave it a lot of thought. Just tried to have our head down working hard and tried to come to work every night prepared and tried to win races,” he said. “The rest of it, it was going to work out one way or the other. I’m glad it worked out the way it did, but it was never something that you sat there every night getting your voodoo doll out and hoping the other guy didn’t win any races.” By mid-November, when he enjoyed a lead of more than 30 victories, Di Domenico could finally step back and look at the big picture. “It was looking promising, it really started to set in, in the middle of November. I was paying more attention to it than I had been at any other point in the year,” Di Domenico said. “But you still try to work hard, and you didn’t want to let up on the gas any to not be able to win. Just tried to stay on the same plan we were on the whole year and tried to keep buying horses and have fresh horses coming in and out all the time and doing the best we could.” Di Domenico averaged 60 to 70 horses in his stable throughout 2019, most of which were pointed to Yonkers, where he made 810 starts last season. Di Domenico credits owners Dana Parham and Jo Ann Fucci not only for being great clients, but also for being great for the industry. “Last year we took kind of a step up. As always, as it’s been since I’ve been out here, Yonkers was my main focus,” Di Domenico said. “All of (the owners), they’re the key to any success. If you don’t have good clientele behind you and guys that are ambitious about buying horses, ambitious about racing, then it is what it is. You’ve got to have people that are ambitious about it and want to win as much as you do.” One of the highlights to Di Domenico’s season was the development of trotter Swansea. The Swan For All gelding joined Di Domenico’s stable in late 2018 and rose through the ranks in 2019. He won three preliminary legs of the SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series last spring before finishing second in the $75,000 Final. Swansea then made the leap to the Open Handicap, winning three local trotting features before year-end. For the season, he went 14-for-29 and earned $255,815. “He was a horse that came from Indiana that nobody had any real high expectations of and to see him come here and make $250,000 and win a lot of races,” Di Domenico said. “He had a little bit of bad luck in the Trotting Series Final in the spring where the trip didn’t work for him as well as we were hoping that night. That horse, he’d have to be at the top of the list. “That series, three horses that really stood out to me now that you can look back on it, Swansea, Joey Bats, and Rich And Miserable,” Di Domenico continued. “It says a lot about that series and it shows how tough that racing can be at Yonkers.” Di Domenico also praised his team for the training title win. “It’s special, those guys work hard every day and certainly they deserve a lot of the credit,” he said. “They’re in the thick of going to the races every night, getting home late, up early, and taking great care of the horses. They certainly deserve a lot of credit for that.” Looking ahead to 2020, Di Domenico hopes for continued success and has his sights set on a repeat. “I’d like to do it again,” Di Domenico said. “It was fun and just the fact that you go to the track and most nights you feel like you’re prepared and you have as good a chance as any to win is a very good feeling. Going home after winning a race or two races is very gratifying.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The M Life Rewards Ladies Series begins Monday night, March 2 while the M Life Rewards Gents Series kicks off Tuesday, March 3. The Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will return Friday, March 13 and the Borgata Pacing Series starts Saturday, March 14. First post time is 7:05 p.m. For entries to the races, By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 28, 2020-- Prohibitive favorite Snobbytown (George Brennan, $3.20) held off Sandy Win (Austin Siegelman) through the lane Friday night (Feb. 28th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Snobbytown, from post position No. 2, wasted no time making the lead. The people's preference worked around polester Ba Ba Ba Banana (Matt Kakaley) before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile. It was after a :56.4 intermission when Sandy Win took out of fourth, with Kaitlyn N in tow. Sandy Win went back inside as Ba Ba Ba Banana hit the skids, while Kaitlyn N (Jason Bartlett)--perched outside that one--inexplicably jumped it off. As that was transpiring in and out of a 1:25 three-quarters, Snobbytown owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. She then held off a stubborn 'Sandy' by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3. Itty Bitty (Dan Dube), Betterb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton) and 'Banana' settled for the small change, ahead of the imploding Kaitlyn N among the half-dozen.   For Snobbytown, a 4-year-old daughter of Non Hill High co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, & Jason Melillo, it was her third win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $13, with the triple returning $65.50. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 31, 2020--Odds-on choice Snobbytown (George Brennan, $2.60) fooled no one Friday night (Jan. 31st), airing in Yonkers Raceway's $27,000, month-end pacing feature for the ladies. There wasn't much to it, as Snobbytown--from post position No. 5--left for an immediate lead. She worked around polester Wishy Washy Girl (Joe Bongiorno) before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile, with the rest of the ladies arranged in numerical order. From there, Snobbytown effortlessly closed the sale (:57, 1:24.3, 1:52.3), the final margin over Wishy Washy Girl a widening 4¼ lengths. Milliondollargem A (Jordan Stratton), Sandy's Beach (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Ambro Courage N (Austin Siegelman) settling for the remainder.   For Snobbytown, a 4-year-old daughter of Nob Hill High co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, and Jason Melillo, it was her first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $13.20, with the triple returning $58.50. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

East Rutherford, N.J. (Jan. 13, 2020) – Peter Grandich and Company (PGC) is pleased to announce that it will sponsor an Irish Heritage Driver Race on Saturday, March 14, which will be hosted at the Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Additionally, two PGC team members in New York Giants Super Bowl champion Jeff Feagles and former New York Jets quarterback Ray Lucas will be appearing for a meet and greet that night as well. “My wife and I have been sponsors of Irish Heritage Driver Races at Monticello and Freehold, and we are honored to now do so at the mecca of harness racing, the Meadowlands,” said Peter Grandich, Managing Member of Peter Grandich and Company. “Having two of our Irish heritage sports celebrities appearing as well will surely make it a great night.” Some of the leading contender to be in the race George Brennan, Irish Joe Hanney and Dublin's Jack Killeen.  This event marks the third by PGC at the Meadowlands Racetrack in recent months. The firm hosted a Hockey Night with Nick Fotiu, Bruce Driver and Brian Propp in November before holding a Football Night with Joe Klecko and Dan Klecko in December. “We are grateful to Peter Grandich and Company for sponsoring our 2020 Irish Heritage Driver Race,” said Jason Settlemoir, COO & GM of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. “We are also excited to host Super Bowl Champ Jeff Feagles and New York Jets fan favorite Ray Lucas. This event showcases how intertwined racing & sports really are!” Punter Jeff Feagles played 22 seasons in the NFL, appearing in 352 games overall. He holds the NFL record for most consecutive games played in a career and ranks third in the NFL for most games played overall. The two-time Pro Bowler spent the final seven years of his career with the New York Giants, where he was a member of the 2007 Super Bowl champions who defeated the previously unbeaten New England Patriots. Feagles retired from the NFL after the 2009 season and now works as a successful real estate professional. Quarterback Ray Lucas played in the NFL from 1996 to 2002, spending time with the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens. Since retiring from the NFL, the New Jersey native now works as a studio analyst on a variety of Jets shows for SNY, and he also works as a radio broadcaster for his alma mater, Rutgers University. To learn more about Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, and to view their upcoming schedule, make sure to visit their official website: PlayMeadowlands.com From Peter Grandich and Company

Freehold, NJ --- There was a big upset in Saturday's Preferred Handicap harness racing pace at Freehold Raceway, as 19/1 Polak A upset 1/5 Matticulous.   George Brennan blasted off with Matticulous, clearing him to the lead and setting up shop before the quarter. While he did get to the lead, he had to work very hard for it: the opening quarter was 27.1 seconds. Meanwhile, Vinny Ginsburg conceded the lead with Polak A and pocketed up behind the leader.   As they rounded the final turn, Polak A edged out of the pocket, and presented a serious challenge to the favored leader. Though Matticulous tried hard to hold him off, Polak had plenty of horse, and got by to win by a length. The final time for the mile was a blazing 1:52.     Polak A performed well in the amateur races over the fall at the Meadowlands, winning two of three in that class. Last out, he finished fifth after showing speed in the Preferred at Freehold. He's owned by Tony Beltrami and trained by Vinny Fusco Jr.   Benson Boys, Ozone Blue Chip, Bullet Bob, Gotta Go BB, The Onlyest One, and Clint Westwood completed the order of finish.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Thursday, beginning at 12:30 PM EST. There's a 2-day pick 5 carryover for the card, worth $2,031.83.   From Freehold Raceway  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Entering the penultimate night of racing at Yonkers in the 2019 season, Jason Bartlett led George Brennan in the driver standings 423 to 420. The Dec. 16 program saw the drivers combine for six wins on the 11-race program and at the end of the night, Jason Bartlett extended his margin to 4, leading with 427 victories. However, Bartlett would be absent from the Closing Night program, Tues. Dec. 17 as he departed on a family vacation, never anticipating the driving title would be decided on the final night of a 2,657-race season. To that point, the two drivers had never spoken about the dash title. However, as Bartlett left the driver’s room, the pair acknowledged their rivalry for the first time. “OK, I got you by four. Win four tomorrow and we’ll just end in a tie,” Bartlett told Brennan.  “OK. Done,” Brennan responded. The tongue-in-cheek exchange proved prophetic as the Closing Night program unfolded. Brennan won four of the first 10 races, tying the standings at 427 apiece. After each victory, the Yonkers TV department displayed the standings on the track’s simulcast feed and track announcer John Hernan narrated the update for the viewers. “Yonkers had it on TV the last few nights. They were keeping count for us,” Brennan said. “It was very exciting. I’ve been leading driver before, but this was the most exciting driving race I’ve been involved in. It was a lot of fun.” Brennan drove Lord Of Misrule from post three in the 11th race, the final heat of the season. Leading trainer Scott Di Domenico sent out the 8-year-old gelding who chased only his second seasonal win in his 31st start of the year. “Bruce Saunders said to me, ‘do you like your chances in the last race,’ ” Brennan recalled. “I said, ‘well, he’s 1-for-30 for the year. That says it all right there.” Lord Of Misrule raced along in third throughout, but lost ground in the stretch and finished fourth 7 lengths behind a 1:53.4 score by Knocking Around. “(Lord Of Misrule) ended up getting a perfect trip, he sat third, I never had to pull him, but they went a really good mile in 1:53.4 and 1:53.4 kind of stretches him out in the summer anymore,” Brennan said of the $545,485-earner. “It was going to have to work out, it was going to have to line up perfectly for him. And it actually did and I didn’t have enough horsepower.” With the final race complete, Brennan had four on the card as promised and shared the driving title with Jason Bartlett. “I just went about my business and that’s how it ended,” Brennan said. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of dedication, good clients. It means a lot.” Bartlett enjoyed a lead from January through June as he focused solely on racing at the Hilltop. However, as New York Sire Stakes season ramped up through the late spring and summer, Barlett’s time was divided while Brennan stayed put at Yonkers. Bartlett and Brennan flip-flopped on the lead in July, but by September Brennan seized command with a double-digit advantage. The race narrowed again in late fall, as Brennan’s margin shrunk to eight wins by Nov. 1. By December, the drivers were in a tug of war. Brennan was sure his scheduled vacation in December would crush his chances. “He was creeping back up there pretty quickly,” Brennan said. “But then, I honestly didn’t think it was going to be close when I was taking four days off in December. I thought he would have a comfortable lead after that. I got lucky, got some good mounts, good post positions, and things worked out.” Brennan’s approach to the contest, much like his opponent’s, was to block out the race as much as possible. “You can’t really think about it. You just have to go about your business and try to stay safe and win races,” Brennan said. “There was something going on with the driving title, but in a sense, it’s secondary because you still have to get the job done, you still have to get the most amount of money for your owners and trainers you’re driving for. That’s the number one priority there.” Considering memorable horses or victories on the season, Brennan zeroed in on DW’s NY Yank. The 11-year-old Dilbert Hanover gelding has earned 58 wins and $1.5 million in 200 starts. His most recent score came with Brennan in the second race Closing Night, a $17,000 overnight in which DW’s NY Yank aired by 2 easy lengths. It was the pair’s 82nd start and 25th win together. “Some horses I really enjoy driving. Some of those old horses for Burke, like DW’s NY Yank, he’s one of my favorites. I enjoy driving those older horses like that,” Brennan said. “I’ve been driving him now since he was 4 years old. He tries hard. He’s definitely not what he was anymore, but he’s just a lot of fun to drive. He’s tailor-made for a half-mile track.” Although the spotlight was on the drivers for the final few weeks of the racing season, Brennan pointed out that the drivers only comprise a small piece of the puzzle and expressed gratitude for the other hardworking individuals who hand over the lines for two minutes each week. “I just want to thank all the trainers and owners and caretakers that look after and train the horses, because I can’t do it without them. A big thank you to them,” Brennan said. To read Jason Bartlett’s account of the driver’s race, visit http://ustrottingnews.com/bartlett-to-make-case-for-yonkers-driving-title-monday/. Yonkers Raceway opens its 2020 live racing season Monday, January 6. 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, visit https://www.empirecitycasino.com/racing/condition-sheets-entries-results/. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY  

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, December 17, 2019--Yonkers Raceway concluded its 2019 calendar Tuesday night (Dec. 17th) with a season-long harness racing dead-heat. George Brennan won four of the closing-night's 11 races--all with wagering favorites--and in doing so caught the idle Jason Bartlett with 427 local wins. Historians were trying to determine if there had been a leading-driver deadlock previously, but couldn't swear either way to that oddity. As for Brennan, he won Tuesday's $17,000, second-race trot with DW's NY Yank ($2.70) in 1:58.4, Showmeyourguns ($2.90) in the $14,500, seventh-race trot (1:58.3), Jet Rock ($4.50) in the $12,500, ninth-race pace (1:55.1) and Westchester-debuting Ginger Tree Marty ($3.70) in the $15.750, 10th-race pace (1:55.2). Brennan's chance to have the big chair all to himself was thwarted when Lord of Misrule was a never-threatening fourth in the $17,000 pacing finale. Yonkers' final 2019 leaderboard story shall be sent in the coming days. The Raceway's 2020 season is scheduled to begin Monday night, Jan. 6th, pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – By the time December comes around, the driving and training titles at Yonkers Raceway are usually sewn up. After nearly 11 months of racing and over 2,000 starts by the track’s leading drivers, there is typically little left to be settled in the meet’s final weeks. By December 1, 2018, Jason Bartlett had a 104-win edge on Jordan Stratton. In 2017, Bartlett came into the stretch of the meet with a 153-win margin. However, with two racing days left in the 2019 season, Jason Bartlett and George Brennan are locked in a tight battle for the Yonkers driving title. At December 1, the duo was separated by just three wins, with Brennan ahead 406 to 403. After trading blows throughout the last two weeks, Bartlett brings a three-win margin into Monday night (Dec.16) with 423 wins. It is the closest race in Bartlett’s memory. “Not since I’ve been to Yonkers, never have. Usually by this time, everything is cut and dry of who’s going to get it and who’s not,” Bartlett said. “Between me and George, we drive hard against each other. We’ve always done that. At the end of the day, we still respect each other on and off the track. It’s a good competition, but at the end of the day, we still have a job to do and that’s to win races and get as much money as we can for the trainers.” Although the race is proving a nail-biter, Bartlett had written off the title at the end of stakes season, when Brennan lead by double-digits. However, after Brennan took a week off from Dec. 7 to Dec. 14, Bartlett took a slight edge. “Obviously, in any sport, you want to be number one. At that track, that year, it shows what a good year I had and the hard work I put in,” Bartlett said. “Going through the year, it’s not something you really think about. I was chasing Sire Stakes all year. Obviously, I can’t be in both places on a given night, so you have to give up something. This year, I focused a little bit more on the Sire Stakes, which got me behind a little bit not being at Yonkers all the time. “As the stakes races got done, I was behind him and I kind of just chalked it up that I wasn’t going to catch him,” Bartlett said. “Then I got a little bit closer and he ended up going on his normal annual vacation, so I knew I would be able to close the gap a little bit then.” Bartlett, 38, is chasing his ninth Hilltop title while Brennan, 52, seeks his third. Bartlett saw Brennan as a mentor and an inspiration growing up, making the contest even more meaningful. However, the pair can leave the competition on the track and focus on their work. “He’s a driver that I’ve looked up to my whole life,” Bartlett said. “Being in a competition against him, running for number one, is a pretty big deal for me. Growing up and knowing George and looking up to him. “Between me and him, we’ve never really mentioned (the standings). I know he’s aware of it. Obviously, I’m aware of it. But we’re not driving any different against each other,” Bartlett continued. “You have enough to think about and try to put your horses in the best spot. That’s hard enough. Then you start thinking about George all the time and what I’m doing, is it going to affect George winning the race or not? You can only control what you can control. I can do my best to try to win races, I can control that. I can’t control what he’s doing and whatever else is going on. I try to control what I can and after that, it’s horse racing.” Bartlett enjoyed another season as Yonkers top money-earner, with horses he drove winning $8.3 million through Saturday (Dec. 14). With Brennan away, Bartlett won 12 races last week. He won five races Friday (Dec. 13), including Mach It A Par’s final bow. The Minister of Speed answered with three victories upon his return Saturday, including a wire-to-wire score from post eight with 18-1 upsetter Shoreview. Barlett will drive in all 11 races Monday night (Dec. 16) while Brennan has nine calls. The contest could be decided sooner than expected as Bartlett will miss Closing Night (Dec. 17) as he leaves on his family vacation. Brennan will drive in all 11 races on the Tuesday program. Regardless of the outcome, the contest is validating to Bartlett. “For me, it means I’m doing my job. I’m there to win races and business is good. Every year, you shoot for it. You’ve got to have a little luck along the way and get some horsepower,” Bartlett said. “It’s a job that I love to do, I’m very competitive at it and it’s really nice to go to work and know every race matters. There’s no messing up. I know a lot of people are watching it. The track announcer is right on top of it. It’s nice to see it’s going to come down to the wire and to put a little spin on it, I will not be there the last day, so whatever I get through Monday is it. “Whatever happens, happens. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. And if not, it was fun while we were doing it.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The 2019 season closes Tuesday, Dec. 17 and the 2020 season opener is set for Monday Jan. 6. First post time is 6:50 p.m. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 1, 2019-- A pocketed Write Me a Song (George Brennan, $6.10) picked off harness racing favored I'mprincessgemma A (Joe Bongiorno) nearing the wire Friday night (Nov. 1st), winning Yonkers Raceway's $42,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Making the first lead from post position No. 5, Write Me a Song stuffed Tequila Monday (Eric Goodell) in behind before yielding to 7-5 choice I'mprincessgemma A. All that transpired before a 27-second flat opening quarter-mile. It was a rated :56.1 intermission when Tequila Monday made her second move, advancing from third toward a 1:24.3 three-quarters. That lass stalled soon after, with I'mprincessgemma A taking a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn. Write Me a Song edged by, however, the final margin three-quarters of a length in 1:52.4. 'Gemma' held second, with ground-savers Robyn Camden (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Angel's Pride (Brent Holland), along with Glenferrie Blade A (Jordan Stratton) coming away with the small change. For second choice Write Me a Song, a 4-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Phil Collura, it was her ninth win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $22.40, the triple returned $121 and the superfecta paid $694. Note the Raceway shall open for simulcasting Saturday (Nov. 2nd) at 11:30 AM in advance of Aqueduct's first post of 12 Noon as well as Day Two of Breeders' Cup from Santa Anita (first post 1 PM ET). A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Nov. 2nd) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $2,961.94 and a $10,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 Saturday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Freehold, NJ --- The phrase "short but select" comes to mind when talking about the New Jersey Sire Stakes-Standardbred Development Fund Final (NJSS-SDF) for 3-year-old filly harness racing trotters at Freehold Raceway on Friday.   While there's only five horses in the field, the race features a rubber match between the winners of the first two legs of the series: French Cafe and Sexy Wow.   A winner of two legs of the Kentucky Sire Stakes earlier in the year, French Cafe impressed in the first leg of the NJSS-SDF two weeks ago, defeating Sexy Wow by 1 1/4 lengths. However, Sexy Wow turned the tables in the second leg, sitting a perfect pocket trip to win by 3/4 of a length.   French Cafe will have the post position edge in the final, drawing post position two. Andy Miller will drive, while his wife, Julie, is the trainer. Sexy Wow has the outside post in the five-horse field, with George Brennan in the sulky for trainer Nick Surick.   Marveloustrix, Lady Lone Star, and Taja Mahala round out the field. They finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in the second leg last week. The final is scheduled as the third race on the card, with a scheduled post time of 1:10 PM EDT.   The first of ten races at Freehold on Friday will go postward at 12:30 PM EDT.   From the Freehold Raceway Media Department  

There were no surprises in the first legs of the New Jersey Sire Stakes- Standardbred Development Fund (NJSS-SDF) at Freehold Raceway on Saturday, as heavy harness racing favorites Prince of Tides and Ponder the Odds won their respective divisions. Coming off a big win in the Homegrown Pace, Prince of Tides was sent off as the 1/20 favorite in the first leg for 3-year-old colts & geldings. Driver George Brennan sent him aggressively from post position five. He cleared to the lead before the opening quarter, and never had an anxious moment from there. He crossed the wire three lengths in front, stopping the clock in 1:53. That was the ninth win of the year for the Ross Croghan-trained gelding, who is owned by Let it Ride Stables, Dana Parham, and Howard Taylor. He paid $2.10 to win and $2.10 to place, with no show wagering offered. Reigning Deo made a good first-over move and held on for second, while Trente Deo checked in third. Two races later, Ponder the Odds dominated the first leg for 3-year-old fillies. Off two big wins at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Yonkers Raceway, she was dismissed as the 1/10 favorite. Driver Pat Lachance sent her right to the front, and she opened up a three-length lead at the opening quarter. Longshot Fear No Evil drew close as the field turned for home, but Ponder the Odds brushed off the challenge. She cruised under the wire by 2 1/2 lengths, going the mile in 1:56.2. Ponder the Odds is trained and co-owned by Kathleen La Montagne; Donald La Montagne also owns the horse. She paid $2.20 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Surreality was second, while Stood Up finished third. Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday, October 11, with a first race post time of 12:30 PM EDT. For full results and rentries, click here. From the Freehold Raceway Media Department

Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway hosted a pair of harness racing stakes for 2-year-old pacers on Saturday (September 28). In the Renaissance Final for 2-year-old filly pacers, Lucy Lightyear was sent off as the 6/5 favorite, coming off three straight wins. However, Caviart Heather pulled off the upset, winning at 25/1. In the early stages, Joe Bongiorno and Sus kept Lucy Lightyear and Stacy Chiodo parked out through fast fractions. Lucy Lightyear managed to clear to the lead around the second turn, but had to work hard to get there. Meanwhile, Caviart Heather was well back in the early stages, and it didn't look as if she would threaten. However, George Brennan made a daring four-wide move up the backstretch the final time, and Caviart Heather zoomed by everyone and drew off to a convincing win. The final time of 1:55.4 marked a new lifetime top for the Tony Alagna-trained filly, who is owned by Caviart Farms. Earlier in the meet, she won the first two legs of the New Jersey Sire Stakes- Standardbred Development Fund for 2-year-old filly pacers, before finishing a dull fifth in the final and third in last week's elimination. She clearly regained her form here, however, as she picked up her third career win, while pushing her lifetime earnings over the $58,000 mark. Rockin Jukebox won the second stakes race of the day, the NJSS-SDF Final for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers. He tracked early leader and favorite Columbo most of the way, then angled out and made his move in the stretch. Despite some challenges in the stretch, he held on to win by 1 3/4 lengths at 5/2. His final time of 1:55.1 is a lifetime top. For Rockin Jukebox, it was his second career win, with his first one coming last week in the second leg of the series. He's owned and driven by Russell Foster, and is trained by Megan Foster. Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday, with a first post time of 12:30 PM EDT. The card will include a carryover on the pick five, worth $605.75. That sequence begins in race 5. For entries and race results click here.  From the Freehold Raceway Media Department

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 20, 2019-- Sometimes, there's an unexpected daily double, as in a harness racing track record that went unoticed and glorious photographic evidence to accentuate it. Thursday night (Sept. 19th), the 3-year-old trotting gelding Sheena's Boy (George Brennan, $2.50) trotted away in 1:54.4, setting a Yonkers Raceway track standard for the weight class. The five-length romp in the $16,000, fourth race so inspired 'Sheena' that the hairs on the back of his neck stood up, as the Mike Lizzi photo attests. Sheena's Boy, a gelded son of Trixton, is trained by Ake Svanstedt for co-owners S R F Stable and Knuttson Trotting. The win was his fourth in a dozen seasonal starts. In his previous start, Sheena's Boy was sitting a loose Yonkers Trot pocket to runaway Gimpanzee before breaking, crossing the line fourth but placed sixth while race-timed in 1:54.4. The previous local standard for 3-year-old trotting geldings was 1:55, set by Crazy About Pat (Eric Goodell) in September of 2013. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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