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Chester, PA -- Jack's Legend N ($12.40) lifted off second-over cover and used a vicious :26.4 closing sectional to overpower 3-5 favorite Rodeo Rock for a 1:49.3 score -- his second straight harness racing victory -- in Sunday's (Sept. 27) $14,400 pacing feature at Harrah's Philadelphia. After recording a pillar-to-post win at Harrington on Monday (Sept. 21), Pat Berry changed tactics with the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding and settled into fifth behind a :26.4 first-quarter duel between Pyro (Simon Allard) and Proper One (Todd McCarthy). After rating a :55.2 half, Pyro faced intensifying first-over pressure up the far side from Rodeo Rock (David Miller), and Jack's Legend N was perched second-over off a :26.4 third-quarter duel. Rodeo Rock kept the heat on through the far turn and was able to reel Pyro in, but Jack's Legend N pounced with fresh legs in upper stretch -- drawing off to defeat the dueling pair by 1-1/4 lengths. Rodeo Rock narrowly nabbed Pyro for the runner-up spot.   Trainer Josh Green co-owns 15-time winner Jack's Legend N with Richard Lombardo, David Kryway and Eric Good. Green led all trainers with a double on the program, while drivers David Miller, George Napolitano Jr. and Tim Tetrick notched two wins apiece as well. The Jackpot Hi-5 carryover is on the rise again, now standing at $2,346.64 for the return of live racing to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday (Sept. 30). Post time is 12:25 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

SMYRNA, DE -- The latest harness racing episode of The Extra Mile, a new biweekly news-magazine podcast centered around Standardbred racing, became available for streaming and download on Wednesday (Sept. 23).   The third episode avails listeners a preview of Thursday's (Sept. 24) Little Brown Jug, along with an inside look at the inaugural Mohawk Million, slated for Saturday (Sept. 26) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Harness racing media veteran James Witherite presents the biweekly podcast, which features guests Jim Campbell, Carmen Auciello and Mark McKelvie.   Listeners can access the current episode of The Extra Mile at this link or by subscribing via Apple Podcasts, and can follow The Extra Mile on Twitter at @DHNExtraMile.   From the DHN Media Group

Chester, PA — Scott DiDomenico captured top billing on Sunday afternoon's (Sept. 20) 14-race card at Harrah's Philadelphia, winning with three of his harness racing trainees at the riverside oval. DiDomenico, whose Triple D Stables Inc. registered an owning treble as well, sent Sweet Beach ($4.60, 1:53) to victory in a first-level conditioned pace before also haltering Numbered Account ($10.60, 1:51.4) and Jack's Shadow N ($2.40, 1:51.3), who proved best in their respective third-level pacing events. Tim Tetrick drove all three of DiDomenico's winners, and he also drove Chris Temming's Barbados ($2.80, 1:52.3) to victory in a $20,000-$25,000 claiming handicap. Tetrick's grand slam was matched by George Napolitano Jr. and Simon Allard. In the afternoon's featured event, a fifth-level conditioned pace with an $11,600 purse, Jenn Bongiorno trainee Vettel N ($43.20) secured the pocket and drafted comfortably behind Alluneedisfaith N before reaching up the open stretch to just nose out the late-rallying Casual Cool in 1:51.3. Tony Morgan drove the 7-year-old American Ideal gelding for the Jenn Bongiorno Stable LLC, Joe Bongiorno, Brent Hershberger and Robert Devine.   Live racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia with a 15-race card on Wednesday (Sept. 23), with Liberty Bell stakes for Pennsylvania-sired 2-year-old fillies taking center stage. Post time is 12:25 p.m. EDT.     by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

Chester, PA — After being outmatched by the likes of Filibuster Hanover at Pocono, Southwind Ozzi ($4.80) returned to the site of his only prior harness racing win to date this year — Harrah's Philadelphia — and delivered a decisive 1:51 score in Sunday afternoon's (Sept. 13) $14,400 top-level pacing feature. The 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere entire landed in midfield in the early stages while Joesstar Of Mia A (Simon Allard) strode clear to control soft early fractions of :28 and :57.2. Before the midway stage, Daniel Dubé angled Southwind Ozzi off the pegs from fourth to gain ground, and gain ground he did. Southwind Ozzi attacked Joesstar Of Mia A up the backstretch and used a :25.4 individually-timed third quarter to seize command. After hitting the three-quarter mark in 1:23.3, Southwind Ozzi opened up a 3-1/2 length lead through the final turn, three of which he maintained at the winning post. Joesstar Of Mia A narrowly held second over Jack's Legend (Pat Berry), who sustained his pursuit after losing cover up the far side. Bill MacKenzie trains 12-time winner Southwind Ozzi for Vincent Ali Jr. and Alma Iafelice. In the sub-featured $11,600 pace, Rock The Devil ($3.80) rode the pocket en route to a 1:49.2 victory — the day's fastest mile — over pacesetter Imarocnrollegend N. Todd McCarthy drove the 6-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding for trainer Richard 'Nifty' Norman. Tim Tetrick led all drivers with five wins on the program, winning with Barbados ($3.60, 1:51.3), Rockabilly Charm ($28.60, 1:52.1), Rock The Town ($8.40, 1:51.1), Daddyofemall ($3.20, 1:52.2) and Melanie's Tedy ($6.40, 1:53.1). Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia with a 14-race program on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 16). Post time is 12:25 p.m. EDT.     by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia

The latest episode of The Extra Mile, a new biweekly news-magazine podcast centered around Standardbred harness racing, became available for streaming and download on Wednesday (Sept. 9). The episode focuses on some of the top fillies currently in training, including the undefeated Party Girl Hill and New York standout Love A Good Story.   James Witherite and Kimberly French, two of harness racing's most travelled and respected journalists, present the biweekly podcast, which features guests Yannick Gingras and Julie Miller.   Listeners can access the current episode of The Extra Mile at this link, and can follow The Extra Mile on Twitter at @DHNExtraMile.   From the DHN Media Group    

Chester, PA — Party Girl Hill ($2.40) looked every bit the part of a divisional harness racing champion on Sunday (Sept. 6) at Harrah's Philadelphia, keeping her undefeated record intact with a decisive 1:48.4 score in the $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final for sophomore pacing fillies. Just eight days removed from her 1:49.2 victory in the Fan Hanover at Woodbine Mohawk Park, the daughter of Captaintreacherous once again asserted her superiority — and in almost identical fashion to her recent Grand Circuit triumph. Dexter Dunn floated Party Girl Hill forward from her pole position, but allowed Rocknificent (Scott Zeron) and New Year (George Napolitano Jr.) to dispute a :26.4 first quarter before brushing from third to clear command with just over a lap to go. After rating a :55.1 half, Party Girl Hill braced for a first-over challenge from JK First Lady (Andy McCarthy), who steadily advanced from fourth up the far side to force a :26.4 third sectional. Party Girl Hill's lead slipped to a length off the home turn, but she responded with a :26.4 quarter of her own, sprinting off at first asking before being taken in hand in the final yards of her 2-1/2 length victory. JK First Lady was a clear second, 2-1/4 lengths ahead of tiring pocket rival Rocknificent. Chris Ryder trains Party Girl Hill, whose 1:48.4 mile broke the existing track and stakes records for 3-year-old pacing fillies, for owner-breeder Tom Hill. She has won all nine of her career starts and amassed $482,181 in purses. Party Girl Hill completed a sire stakes hat trick for Dunn, who also captured the $252,000 finals for 3-year-old colts and geldings aboard pacer No Lou Zing ($6.60) and trotter Amigo Volo ($2.80). No Lou Zing, who only broke maiden on June 20, has since vaulted into the upper echelon of sophomore pacers and proved his place among them with a sharp 1:49.3 effort. Dunn was reserved early on with the Sweet Lou gelding and remained in midfield while 3-5 favorite Allywag Hanover (Tim Tetrick) brushed from fourth after stalking a :25.4 quarter. Allywag Hanover maintained a spritely pace through middle splits of :53.4 and 1:21.1 and was forced to exert even more into the far turn while Sandbetweenmytoes (Andy McCarthy) encroached on the outside and No Lou Zing stalked from second-over. With just over a furlong remaining, Dunn flipped No Lou Zing three-wide, and he vaulted to the lead in upper stretch before striding two lengths clear. The Greek Freak (Matt Kakaley) saved second from a hard-earned pocket, while Cattlewash (David Miller) narrowly upended Allwag Hanover for third. No Lou Zing rallied off cover to upend Allywag Hanover in the PASS 3-year-old colt pace final.  -- Grace Zimmers photo Nancy Takter trains five-time winner No Lou Zing for the 3 Brothers Stables, Rojan Stables and Caviart Farms. Amigo Volo lived up to odds-on billing in the 3-year-old male trot, scooting away from EL Ideal's stern head-stretch challenge by 2-3/4 lengths and delivering a 1:52.3 victory. Amigo Volo yielded to early speedster EL Ideal (Andy Miller) on the first turn, only for Dunn to angle him out and claim control just beyond a :27.3 first quarter. After stealing a :57.2 half-mile split, the Father Patrick gelding accelerated up the far side, reaching three-quarters in 1:24.4 before EL Ideal again emerged from the pocket. Amigo Volo made easy work of his challenger, sprinting off in upper stretch to record the 10th win of his career. EL Ideal was an isolated second, 5-1/2 lengths better than Patriarch Hanover (Kakaley). Odds-on favorite Amigo Volo kicked clear in upper stretch to win the PASS 3-year-old colt trot final. -- Grace Zimmers photo Richard 'Nifty' Norman trains Amigo Volo, whose career earnings now stand at $946,719, for the Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. Dunn's lone sire stakes defeat came in the $252,000 final for 3-year-old trotting fillies, which saw Ron Burke trainee Crucial ($42.80) and David Miller spring a massive upset in a race that figured to be a showdown between Sister Sledge and Next Level Stuff. Predictably, Next Level Stuff (Tetrick) assumed early control, but kept early challenger Queen Of The Hill — and Dunn — parked through early splits of :27 and :56 while Crucial established the pocket and 2-5 favorite Sister Sledge (Brian Sears) assumed second-over position. As Queen Of The Hill worsened in the breeze nearing three-quarters in 1:24, Sister Sledge angled three-wide but failed to fire, but Next Level Stuff wasn't home free. Crucial angled out of the pocket turning for home and lifted clear by 1-1/2 lengths to win in 1:52.4. Sweet Shirley Mae (Andy Miller) and Dip Me Hanover (Scott Zeron) emerged to take second and third respectively over an engulfed Next Level Stuff. Crucial rode the pocket en route to a 20-1 upset in the PASS 3-year-old filly trot final.   -- Grace Zimmers photo It was the seventh career win for Crucial, who campaigns for the Burke Racing Stable, Bill Donovan, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. In addition to his win with Amigo Volo, Norman captured two of the four $50,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes consolations on the card: Annabelle Hanover ($9.40, Dunn) took the 3-year-old filly pace in 1:50.3, and Chestnut Hill ($8.20, David Miller) won the 3-year-old colt and gelding trot in 1:53.2.   Sherry Lyns Lady ($10.60, Tetrick) wired her foes in the 3-year-old filly trot in 1:54.4 for trainer Jim Campbell, and Manticore ($2.80, Jordan Stratton) delivered a dynamite 1:49.2 mile in the 3-year-old colt pace consolation for trainer Bruce Saunders.     by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

Chester, PA — Backstreet Shadow ($3.40) led a training triple for Ron Burke on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 30) at Harrah's Philadelphia with a sharp 1:48.4 score in the featured $20,000 winners-over harness racing pacing event. Tim Tetrick angled the 5-year-old Shadow Play gelding out from midfield as Jack's Legend N (Pat Berry) worked to clear the lead from Respect Our Flag (Joe Bongiorno) at the end of a :26.4 first quarter. Just as Jack's Legend N took control, Backstreet Shadow surged forward outside of rivals and worked to the top just before reaching the half in :54.3. Up the backstretch, Backstreet Shadow was forced to pick up the pace by Western Joe (George Napolitano Jr.), who advanced first-over to apply mild pressure through a :27 third sectional. Backstreet Shadow responded in kind, edging clear to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:48.4. Western Joe dug deep to protect second from Jack's Legend N, who was a one-paced third from the pocket. Burke trains 23-time winner Backstreet Shadow, who captured the Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs earlier this summer, for the partnership of the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby. Burke also teamed up with driver Joe Bongiorno for a pair of wins on the card, combining with Jahan Hanover ($2.20), a 13-1/2-length, 1:51.2 winner over Ginger Tree Pete in an entry-level conditioned event; and Twin B Tuffenuff ($4.00), who just collared Statement Made A in 1:51.3 in a $11,600 upper-level conditioned pace. Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 2), with a $2,241.53 carryover in the Jackpot Hi-5. Post time is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.     by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

Chester, PA -- Horsemen are advised of an adjusted draw schedule for the upcoming week of harness racing at Harrah's Philadelphia, as a result of live racing occurring on Labor Day (Mon., Sept. 7).   Most notably, horsemen planning to enter the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes finals and consolations for 3-year-olds, which are slated for next Sunday, Sept. 6, must enter their horses by Tuesday (Sept. 1), one day earlier than usual.   The entire schedule is as follows:   Race Day (Draw Day) Friday, Sept. 4 (Monday, Aug. 31) Sunday, Sept. 6 (Tuesday, Sept. 1) -- PA Sire Stakes finals Monday, Sept. 7 (Wednesday, Sept. 2) Wednesday, Sept. 9 (Thursday, Sept. 3) Thursday, Sept. 10 (Friday, Sept. 4)   Entries close at 9 a.m. each morning.   For further information, please contact the Harrah's Philadelphia race office at 484.490.2222.   by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia Racing Media  

SMYRNA, Del. -- The Extra Mile, a new biweekly news-magazine podcast centered around harness racing, debuts with a Pepsi North America Cup preview which was released this morning (Friday, Aug. 28).   James Witherite, who has served as a race caller, oddsmaker, handicapper, publicist and columnist in his 15 years in harness racing, presents this new podcast to share the stories of harness racing's events, participants and challenges on a familiar and sophisticated -- yet accessible -- platform.   The debut episode features an in-depth look at a top contender on Saturday's North America Cup program at Woodbine Mohawk Park, as well an inside perspective at Clinton Raceway's unique and innovative approach to weathering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.   Listeners can access the debut of The Extra Mile at this link, and can follow The Extra Mile on Twitter at @DHNExtraMile.    

Chester, PA -- Leading harness racing trainer Ron Burke padded his lead in the standings at Harrah's Philadelphia with three wins on Sunday afternoon's (Aug. 23) program. Wins with Twin B Tuffenuff ($3.20), Mr D's Dragon ($3.40) and Braley Hanover ($6.20) enabled Burke to extend his lead over Gilbert Garcia-Owen to 34-28 in the local standings with just over one-third of the 2020 season complete. Twin B Tuffenuff overcame significant traffic and rallied to a 1:51.4 score in a $10,000 fourth-level pace to kick off Burke's training treble. George Brennan secured the pocket with the 5-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding through a :26.4 quarter before being shuffled behind a tiring Incredible Shark up the backstretch. Brennan was able to escape traffic nearing the far turn, angling Twin B Tuffenuff into a live outer flow and ultimately fanning to the grandstand side in the stretch. In the final strides, Twin B Tuffenuff reached for a narrow win over Italian Delight N (Tony Morgan) and Peace Out Posse (Victor Kirby). Twin B Tuffenuff Brennan and Burke also teamed up with Braley Hanover for a 1:50.2 score, while Simon Allard drove Burke's other winner -- Mr D's Dragon -- to a 1:54 victory. A pair of $11,600 fifth-level conditioned events served as co-featured races on the program, with Pollack Racing LLC and Jeff Cullipher's Ana Afreet N ($4.80) earning top honors by way of a 1:49.3 victory. In line to Simon Allard, the 5-year-old son of Bettor's Delight stalked in the clear from third through splits of :27.3, :55 and 1:21.4 before taking aim up the open stretch to collar Rockapelo (Brennan) by a neck in 1:49.3. Alluneedisfaith N (George Napolitano Jr.) finished third from the pocket. Ana Afreet N Ana Afreet N rallied up the open stretch for a 1:49.3 score, the fastest mile on the Sunday card at Harrah's Philadelphia The other co-feature saw Kinnder Jackson ($4.60) and Brennan dictate all the terms and evade the first-over Lying In Cash (Allard) and pocket rival Statement Made A (Tim Tetrick) by two lengths in 1:51. Jake Huff trains the 5-year-old Allamerican Native gelding for the Our Three Sons Stable and Rosalia Huff. Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia with a 14-race card on Wednesday (Aug. 26), which features a $1,792.65 carryover in the Jackpot Hi-5. Post time is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia    

Chester, PA -- Despite a relatively pressure-free journey and soft fractions, 2019 Breeders Crown champion Amigo Volo was narrowly upset at 1-5 odds in the first $94,967 division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Sunday (Aug. 16) at Harrah's Philadelphia -- with Maesteraemon ($8.60) and El Ideal ($4.00) sharing the honors in a 1:53.3 dead heat. After riding the pocket behind Amigo Volo (George Napolitano Jr.) through splits of :28, :56.2 and 1:25.1, El Ideal and Trond Smedshammer wedged out to attack with just over an eighth of a mile to go -- enabling Maesteraemon and Tony Morgan to find a clear path to the open stretch. Amigo Volo was fully extended off the home turn, and ultimately gave way to the tandem of El Ideal in the two-path and the surging Maesteraemon up the open stretch with 40 yards to go. The shared victory was Maesteraemon's first of the season and fifth of his career. Marcus Melander trains the son of Andover Hall for the SRF Stable. El Ideal, a son of Muscle Hill who ended his rookie season with a decisive score in the Valley Victory, earned his second win as a 3-year-old and the sixth of his career for EMP-Invest Oy of Finland and trainer Ãke Svanstedt. Smedshammer won the second Sire Stakes division as well, doing so in decisive fashion with his trainee Hillexotic ($5.80). The son of Muscle Hill worked clear of Beyond Kronos (Napolitano) through a :28.3 quarter before evading an outside challenge from Gangster Hanover (Svanstedt) by 7-1/4 widening lengths in 1:53.4. Gangster Hanover dueled down pocket rival Beyond Kronos for runner-up honors. Hillexotic, who did not race at 2, earned his second win in five starts for Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables. Overserved ($4.80) took top honors across four $20,000 Stallion Series divisions with a 1:55.1 mile in line to Victor Kirby. Bargain Bob ($4.80, Simon Allard, 1:57.3), Meanttobe De Vie ($29.00, George Brennan, 1:58) and Scirocco Patrick ($80.00, Daniel Dube, 1:56.3) won their splits as well. In the sub-featured $20,000 winners-over pace, Southwind Ozzi ($26.60) won for the first time since he captured the 2019 Little Brown Jug, grinding down Turbo Hill for a 1:52 score over Jack's Legend N and Highalator. Daniel Dube drove the 4-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere for trainer Bill MacKenzie and owners Vincent Ali Jr. and Alma Iafelice. Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday (Aug. 19) with a pair of carryovers on the 14-race card: a $23,916.26 carryover in the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 in race five, and $4,795.40 in free money on the table in the 50-cent Pick-4, which begins in race seven. Post time is 12:25 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia

Chester, PA -- On Friday afternoon (Aug. 14), harness racing driver Simon Allard recorded the 4,000th driving win of his career, doing so with Anythingforlove A ($2.10) in the ninth race at Harrah's Philadelphia.   Allard yielded for the pocket with the 8-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding, and the pair drafted Skip To My Lou before reclaiming the lead on the backstretch and holding off a late charge from 23-1 outsider Mr Profeta to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:51. Allard also won with Rock The Town ($23.20) and Diamond Head ($11.20), and his hat trick gave him top honors among all drivers on the 14-race program. The 38-year-old Quebec native has driven almost exclusively in the United States since 2016 and has earned over $39 million in purses. Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 16), with a 14-race card featuring two $94,967 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings, as well as a $22,990.90 carryover in the fifth-race Jackpot Hi-5. Post time is 12:40 p.m. by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia

Chester, PA -- Fresh off a pair of wins at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Respect Our Flag ($4.80) made it three in a row with a sharp 1:50 score in Sunday's (Aug. 9) featured $14,400 top-level harness racing pacing event at Harrah's Philadelphia. Driver Joe Bongiorno hustled Respect Our Flag to the early lead through a :27 first quarter before yielding to Lyons Steel (George Napolitano Jr.), who handled the bulk of the pacesetting duties. While Lyons Steel controlled a :55.3 half and faced mild outside pressure from Rock The Devil (Victor Kirby) past three-quarters in 1:22.3, Respect Our Flag drafted comfortably in the pocket and awaited clearance. Once the field turned for home, Bongiorno ducked Respect Our Flag to the open stretch, and the 4-year-old Roll With Joe gelding powered clear by 1-3/4 lengths under vigorous encouragement. Rock The Devil lasted for second; Lyons Steel finished third after giving way in the final sixteenth. Breeder Barbara Bongiorno co-owns 9-time winner Respect Our Flag with Bill Lambos and Dionisios Liberatos. Jenn Bongiorno handles the training duties. Joe Bongiorno and George Napolitano Jr. led all drivers on the card with three wins apiece. The Jackpot Hi-5 carryover continues to grow, now standing at $20,677.97 in advance of Wednesday's (Aug. 12) card. The Jackpot Hi-5 is a 20-cent base wager available in the fifth race each day, with the carryover only paying out in the event of one unique winning ticket. Post time for Wednesday's 14-race card is 12:25 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The sensational filly Ramona Hill took a well-deserved gulp from the Hambletonian trophy after beating the boys on Saturday (Aug. 8) in the $1 million harness racing trotting classic at the Meadowlands Racetrack.   It was the latest chapter in the developing saga of harness racing's newest superstar.   The victory, the 15th by a filly in the race's illustrious history, was hardly a surprise. She was the 2-5 favorite following the previous week's jaw-dropping win from an impossible spot, kicking home with a :25.4 final quarter in the Hambletonian eliminations.   She was just as good in the final. Andy McCarthy turned Ramona Hill loose down the backside and she easily surged past Threefiftytwo to take command for good.   "When I came out early there, I sensed I could find the front," McCarthy said. "I went for it, and she knows her job."   As Ramona Hill made the lead, main rivals Ready For Moni -- the other elimination winner -- and Back Of The Neck took up the chase.   Through the lane, Ramona Hill remained solidly in command, beating Ready For Moni by a length with Back Of The Neck third.       "She was starting to work a little bit towards the wire, but she finished it off," McCarthy said.   The time for the mile only confirmed what observers already knew: Ramona Hill is the real deal. The 1:50.1 clocking equaled the stakes mark set by her sire Muscle Hill in 2009.   It was a muted winner's circle celebration with access limited and everyone masked to ward off the coronavirus.   John Campbell, president of the Hambletonian Society, summed up the day and the performance eloquently.   "What a great performance by a tremendous filly," Campbell said. "Throughout history, society has dealt with crises and troubles, but great horses and great horse racing have found a way to bring people together to forget about what's going on in their everyday lives. I think that's what's happened here today."   It was the first Hambletonian victory for McCarthy and trainer Tony Alagna, who took a very patient approach with his talented filly. The race was only her fourth of the year and 11th of her career.   "People talked earlier about how COVID affected this filly's schedule," Alagna said. "Honestly, this was our schedule from the beginning, with or without COVID. She's very much like a Thoroughbred. She doesn't need the starts to be at her best."   Of course, the Hambletonian Oaks for fillies earlier in the day was a possible target. But after Ramona Hill cruised to a convincing win in the Del Miller on July 18, Alagna set his sights on the bigger goal.   "We always had it (the Hambletonian) in the back of our minds, but nobody wanted to be the first one to say it," Alagna said. "After the Del Miller, it became a reality."   It had already been a great afternoon for McCarthy with four victories. Number five, the Hambletonian, will be the one he'll always remember.   "It was a very good start to the day and I was trying to keep my cool, and I was trying to let it sink in too much because I still had a lot of work to do," McCarthy said.   The driver and the filly completed the mission in style.   "The adrenalin you get from winning a race like this, words can't explain it," the Australian reinsman said. "It's an amazing event and a privilege to be involved."   With the victory, Ramona Hill improved her record to 9-0-2 in 11 starts for Bradley Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc and In The Gym Partners. The 2019 Breeders Crown and Dan Patch Award winner is the second filly to capture the Hambletonian in the last three renewals, joining Atlanta (2018).     by Mike Farrell, for the Hambletonian Society

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Gimpanzee ($3.20) kept his undefeated 4-year-old harness racing season intact with a stunning 1:50 score in the $291,350 John Cashman Memorial Trot on Saturday (Aug. 8) at The Meadowlands, cascading off third-over cover to strike the front in the final yards.   Brian Sears patiently kept Gimpanzee off the pace in the early stages while double millionaire mare Atlanta brushed clear of Guardian Angel As beyond a :26.3 first quarter. Atlanta maintained a quick tempo through a :54.1 half and braced for a stern challenge from Lindy The Great on the far turn, while Gimpanzee slipstreamed live cover from third-over.   Off the home corner, Lindy The Great began to wear on Atlanta, and Sears fanned Gimpanzee four-wide upon straightening for home -- but he didn't accelerate at first asking. As Lindy The Great gathered Atlanta in with 150 yards to go, Gimpanzee found his best stride and stormed home to win by the better part of a widening length in the final strides in a career best 1:50. Lindy The Great finished second, and Soul Strong emerged out of traffic to finish third.       Marcus Melander trains 22-time winner and double millionaire Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven, for Courant Inc. and the SRF Stable.   by James Witherite, for the Hambletonian Society    

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Trainer Nancy Takter continued something of a family tradition Saturday (Aug. 8), winning the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old harness racing trotting fillies with Sorella at The Meadowlands.   Takter, whose father Jimmy won a record eight editions of the Oaks, became the first female trainer to ever win the race, which began in 1971.   Sorella and driver Yannick Gingras rolled to the front in the first turn and cruised to victory by 1-3/4 lengths over Hypnotic AM in 1:51. Panem, also trained by Takter, finished third. Hypnotic AM and Panem both started from the second tier, with Hypnotic AM in post 12 and Panem in post 11.   It is the sixth time in seven years the Oaks was won by a Takter and Gingras, who extended his record for wins by a driver to six.       “It certainly doesn’t get old,” Gingras said. “With any of these big races, you win them once and you want to win them again. I think it’s a pretty good accomplishment to have six of them. Definitely I’m proud of it.”   Gingras and Sorella started from post seven and saw Whose Blues leave for the front from post six. Whose Blues settled in the top spot, but only briefly, as Gingras pushed forward to claim the lead in a :26.1 opening quarter. From there, Sorella hit the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.3.   “I thought there were three horses in the race that really stood out and the other two had posts 11 and 12,” Gingras said. “When I left the gate, I saw they were going to get away somewhere in mid-pack. They weren’t going to get away too close, so I was taking no prisoners from there. I figured she was the one to beat at that point and took no chances.”   Said Takter, “I thought my horses both raced super. I wish Panem would have gotten up a little bit more, but they were both really good. It kind of worked out the way I expected, so that’s good when things go that way.”   She added that Sorella’s next start would most likely come in the Zweig Memorial on Aug. 21 at Vernon Downs.   Sorella, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Kadealia, has won four of five races this year and six of 14 lifetime with earnings of $503,376. She is owned by breeder Elmer Fannin, Crawford Farms Racing and Brent Fannin. Elmer Fannin named the filly after a bottle of wine.   “We’re very excited about Sorella,” said Brent Fannin, Elmer’s son. “We knew one day (Kadealia) was going to throw a good one, and we just kept being patient and bred her to one of the better sires we could. And along comes Sorella and we’re real excited. We lost her mom earlier this year, who was in foal to Father Patrick, and hopefully Sorella can carry the torch from here.”   by Ken Weingartner with Derwick Giwner

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