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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 3, 2015--One horse who figured (Melady's Monet [Jason Bartlett, $5]) and on who didn't (Big N Bad [Eric Carlson, $116.50]) hogged the harness racing headlines Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $48,000 co-features. A from-last "Melady" won the Open Handicap Trot, prevailing in a three-horse photo over Zooming (Tyler Buter) and pace-setting, 13-10 favorite Luminosity (George Brennan). That one was out a long way before making the lead from Not Afraid (Dan Dube). Quick early intervals of :27.4 and :56.3 softened Luminosity up, so even a :29.1 third quarter (1:25.3) and a two-length lead into the lane weren't enough. Melady's Monet, sent outside his six rivals, closed from third-over. He picked off Zooming by a head in 1:55.3, with Luminosity fading to third, beaten a half-length. World Cup (Brent Holland) and Sevruga (Pat Lachance) were best-of-the-rest, minor moolah entities. For second choice Melady's Monet, a 6-year-old Revenue S gelding trained by Kevin McDermott for owner Melady Enterprises, it was her 11th win in 23 seasonal starts (season earnings over $300,000, career in excess of $700,000). The exacta paid $43.60, with the triple returning $174. The weekly pacing feature, a blind draw this time around, did no favors for Big N Bad. No problem. Leaving hard from the eight-hole, he was forced even wide when Crombie A (Holland) pulled pocket early. Undaunted, Big N Bad found the lead and kept going (:26.4, :55.4, 1:23.4, 1:51.4) . After racing his eyeballs out a week ago only to get nailed late, Big N Bad closed the sale here, defeating a cone-skimming The Real One (Lachance) by neck. Third went to Crombie A, with Dynamic Youth (Brennan) and Sapphire City (Jordan Stratton) settling for the small change. Great Vintage (Dube), as the 6-5 favorite, couldn't get out of his own way at the outset and finished last. For seventh choice Big N Bad, a 5-year-old Badlands Hanover gelding trained by Jennifer Sabot for owner Vincent Laurenzo, it was his eighth win in 26 seasonal '15 tries. The exacta paid $1,314, with the triple returning $12,955. With a Pick 5 sequence that featured win prices of $19, $116.50 and $53, shockingly the gimmick wasn't hit. So Monday night, which already offers a $10,000 guaranteed pool, begins with a carryover of $6,537.25 (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11, program pages at Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 18, 2015-Odds-on fave Krispy Apple with harness racing driver Jason Bartlett at the wheel couldn't possibly have had it any easier Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $48,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. An assigned eight-hole isn't quite as difficult when none of the other seven inside of you leave. So, the millionairess made 'em pay, making a simple lead before coming out of the first turn and strolling through subsections of :27.4, :55.4, 1:23.3 and 1:51. The margin, punctuated by a :27.2 kicker, was 3½ lengths turning for home before ballooning to five lengths at the wire. The mile set a new track record for aged mares. Sudoku (Jordan Stratton), chasing from a looser pocket, saved second, with Dune in Red (Mark MacDonald), Caribbean Rose N (Brian Sears) and Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) rounding out the payees. For Krispy Apple, a 7-year-old daughter of Western Ideal co-owned by Bamond Racing and Joseph Davino and trainer by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was her ninth win in 20 seasonal starts (career earnings at $1,509,576). The exacta paid $16.80, with the triple returning $153. Frank Drucker

Rules Of The Road, runner up to Wild Honey in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, faces three rivals in the $30,000 Helen Smith Trot on Friday, September 11, 2015 at the harness racing meeting at Freehold Raceway. With only four entrants, the Helen Smith for New Jersey-sired three-year-old trotting fillies, sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, will be contested prior to the betting card with a post time of 12:10 p.m. Facing Rules Of The Road, driven by Jason Bartlett for trainer Janice Connor, will be Southwind Cartier [trained and driven by DR Ackerman], Blue Muse [trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt], and Riley's Dream [driven by Steve Smith for trainer Julie Miller]. Blue Muse is by Muscles Yankee and the other three are by Muscle Hill. Rules Of The Road, owned by Arden Homestead of Delhi, NY and Janice Connor of Goshen, NY, has five wins, four seconds and two thirds in 18 starts this year for earnings of $211,235 toward a career total of $244,285. Her wins this year include a division of the Tompkins Stakes at Tioga Downs on August 16 The Helen Smith stakes record of 1:56.2 is shared by Marla Bar [2002], Silver Credit [2013] and Cee Bee Yes [2014]. On the betting card, eight two-year-old trotting fillies, four by Muscles Yankee and four by Muscle Hill, are scheduled in a $7,000 first leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres. Installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the field of eight is Jazebel De Vie by Muscles Yankee. She is set to leave from post two with driver-trainer Chris Ryder. The eighth-race field, from the rail out with driver, trainer and morning line odds: Southwind Hope, Steve Smith, Julie Miller, 9-2; Jazebel De Vie, Chris Ryder, Chris Ryder, 5-2; American Spa, Jim Marshall III, Rick Gillock, 30-1; Cree, Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 3-1; Casino Cutie It, Vincent Ginsburg, Ray Schnittker, 9-2; Peg O My Heart, Christopher Freck, Christopher Freck, 30-1; Energy Bar, Eric Abbatiello, Jonas Czernyson, 4-1 and Heal The World, Marcus Johansson, Nancy Johansson, 30-1. Carol Hodes

Freehold, NJ --- Jeff Snyder knows he owns the one horse with a chance to capture this year’s Pacing Triple Crown. He also knows it’s not worth thinking about until after his horse, Dealt A Winner, competes in the second leg of the series, Saturday’s Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers at Yonkers Raceway. “If he wins Saturday, he’ll have a better shot,” Snyder said with a laugh. “Then we’ll give a lot more thought to it. It will be a lot more exciting then. “But in this business, you’ve got to go one race at a time.” Dealt A Winner won the first jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, the Cane Pace, at odds of 26-1 with a world-record performance on Hambletonian Day, Aug. 8, at the Meadowlands. He will start the $500,000 Messenger Stakes from post five with Yonkers’ leading driver Jason Bartlett at the lines for trainer Mark Silva. It will be only his second career race on a half-mile track, but he won last year’s Lou Babic Pace at Freehold with Bartlett in the sulky. In addition to the Messenger Stakes, Yonkers on Saturday hosts the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, which is the second leg of the Trotting Triple Crown. Pinkman, who won the first jewel, the Hambletonian Stakes, will start the Yonkers Trot from post seven with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Jimmy Takter. Post time is 7:10 p.m. for the first race. The Yonkers Trot is race six, at 8:50 p.m. approximately, and the Messenger is race eight, at 9:30 p.m. approximately. The most recent horse to win the Trotting Triple Crown was Glidemaster in 2006. The most recent horse to sweep the Pacing Triple Crown was No Pan Intended in 2003. The final jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown is the Little Brown Jug, which will be held Sept. 24 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. Dealt A Winner has won one of nine races this year after capturing five of six starts last season. He finished second to In The Arsenal in a Meadowlands Pace elimination and fourth in the final, when a :26 last quarter-mile left him a half-length from second. He has earned $363,439 during his career. Purchased for $35,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale under the name Lazzo Hanover, Dealt A Winner is a son of stallion Cam’s Card Shark -- who was the 1994 Horse of the Year and owned by Snyder -- and mare Lazan Hanover. His second dam, Lodi Hanover, is the mother of million-dollar-earner Timesareachanging, who also was sired by Cam’s Card Shark. Timesareachanging was the 2004 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male pacer and captured two jewels in the Pacing Triple Crown, the Cane Pace and Little Brown Jug. He finished second to Metropolitan in the Messenger. “I always look to find a Cam’s Card Shark (offspring) at the sale and (Dealt A Winner) was the one I picked,” Snyder said. “Timesareachanging attracted me to him.” Dealt A Winner won the Cane Pace after a duel for the lead between favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit and In The Arsenal resulted in a :52.1 opening half-mile. Dealt A Winner and driver David Miller rallied from fifth place with a three-wide move on the final turn and sprinted home in :26.3 to post a 1-1/4 length victory over Artspeak in 1:47.3. The time is the fastest ever for a 3-year-old gelding. Dude’s The Man, who won this year’s Adios and finished third in the Cane Pace, will start the Messenger from post one with George Brennan driving for trainer Jessica Okusko. In The Arsenal, who won the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers on May 30, got post No. 3 with Brian Sears in the sulky for trainer Kelvin Harrison. In The Arsenal has made five starts at Yonkers during his career, winning four. “If he can get into the race early enough, we’re looking for him to race very well,” Snyder said about Dealt A Winner. “Unfortunately, Dude’s The Man got the rail and In The Arsenal got the three hole, so hopefully he’ll get a good trip somehow. But this horse can go first over. He’s got a lot of heart, a lot of desire to win. Hopefully he’ll bring his ‘A’ game on Saturday night.” Following is the field for the Messenger Stakes with listed drivers and trainers: 1-Dude's The Man-George Brennan-Jessica Okusko  2-Revenge Shark-Yannick Gingras-Tony Alagna  3-In The Arsenal-Brian Sears-Kelvin Harrison  4-Roland N Rock-Daniel Dube-Rob Harmon  5-Dealt A Winner-Jason Bartlett-Mark Silva  6-Rock N' Roll World-Daniel Dube-Mark Silva  7-Rollin Ring Afire-Tim Tetrick-Charlie Norris  8-National Seelster-Eric Carlson-Chris Ryder  by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Batavia, NY---There was no doubt who the best New York bred 3-year-old colt competing at Batavia Downs was on Sunday (Aug. 30) after Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) tied the track record of 1:51.2 for sex and gait in winning his division of the $120,400 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS). After taking an easy lead from post one, Betting Exchange (Jason Bartlett) extended his advantage to two lengths over The Spy (John Cummings Jr.) at the quarter as post time favorite Artistic Major (Jim Morrill Jr.) got away poorly and was gapped a distant third. The leader was cruising along untested until Morrill rushed Artistic Major up by half-time and alongside Betting Exchange into the turn. The challenge continued up the backside and to three-quarters in 1:24 but it was there the race was decided. Bartlett gave Betting Exchange his head and he simply paced away from the field. At the wire he was 10 lengths the best in 1:51.2, pacing the back half in a dazzling :55 flat. The winning time tied the track record for 3-year-old pacing colts set by All Bets Off in 2014 and was also just one-fifth off the all-time track record of 1:51.1 set by Aracache Hanover in 2011. After the race, Jason Bartlett commented "He raced super. I let him roll on the turn and he opened up. He's really a nice one." It was the second win in 14 starts for Betting Exchange ($4.50) and it pushed his 2015 earnings to $318,475 for owners Howard Taylor, Susan Kajfasz and Tom Fanning, who also does the training. In the first division, Rockin In Heaven (Rock N Roll Heaven-Tropic's Beachgirl) overcame a fast battle for the lead and two subsequent challenges to hold on for an impressive victory. Off the wings, no one played nice when Americanprimetime (Jason Bartlett), K-Rock (Matt Kakaley) and Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry) went three-abreast to argue for the lead. The trio motored up the backstretch and eventually seated with Rockin In Heaven taking the lead in a speedy :26.3. Positions remained unchanged to the half when Americanprimetime pulled first over from third to go after the leader. With Americanprimetime outside prompting Rockin In Heaven past three-quarters in 1:24.1, K-Rock was sitting the perfect trip behind the pair waiting for his chance. When they hit the head of the lane it was obvious Rockin In Heaven had put away Americanprimetime but then had to fight off K-Rock who made his way into the passing lane. This was accomplished with a strong finishing kick as Rockin In Heaven won in 1:53 by a half-length. "I wanted to get him out of the starting gate and to the lead. He dug in well when I called upon him" said Trevor Henry in the winner's circle. It was the eighth win in 15 starts for Rockin In Heaven ($2.60) and it boosted his earnings to $310,565 for 2015. The colt is owned by Douglas Polley, Francois Lecomte, Gordon McComb and Dr. Ian Moore, who also trains the horse. There were two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior Series "A" also on the card that went for a combined $30,000. The first event was won by the heavily favored Masterson (Bettor's Delight-Tug River Princess) in 1:54 and it was the fourth straight win for the gelding owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock. Masterson ($3.20) was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for trainer Tracy Brainard. In the second split, Pop Icon (Bettor's Delight-Pop Queen) overcame a slow start and breaking horses to win in 1:56.3. It was the second Excel "A" win this year for Pop Icon ($11.80) who is owned by Ken Weckstein, Richard Rubin and Gary Messenger, who also trains the horse. Jim Morrill Jr. did the driving. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 2) with post time set at 6:35 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Some of the biggest names in Standardbred racing will be at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 30) for the $120,400 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings division. Fourteen horses are entered to compete in two splits, each vying for $60,200 in purse money. In the first division (carded as race two), Rockin In Heaven (Rock N Roll Heaven-Tropic's Beach Girl) is the 5-2 morning line choice and for good reason. He is coming in off a lifetime best, 1:50 flat win at Tioga Downs in the $290,000 Empire Breeders Classic. He is a multiple stakes winner this year, having already captured the Somebeachsomewhere and a leg of the Summertime series at Mohawk Raceway as well as the NYSS at Yonkers. And in those races has finished ahead of the likes of $400,000 Adios winner Dudes The Man and $300,000 Art Rooney Pace winner In The Arsenal. Rockin In Heaven leaves from post five and will be driven by Trevor Henry for trainer Dr. Ian Moore. His main competition appears to be American Primetime (American Ideal-Prime Xample A). Having raced the same slate of races as Rockin In Heaven over the past five starts, American Primetime has not had favorable draws. This week he starts from the rail and should be able to put forth his best effort as a result. His lifetime mark of 1:52.4 was taken over the half-mile oval at Yonkers Raceway and that bodes well for this start at Batavia. American Primetime is 3-1 morning line and will be driven by Jason Bartlett for trainer Rick Dane Jr. In the second division (carded as race four), Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) brings an impressive resume to the table and as a result is the 2-1 early choice. Most recently, Betting Exchange finished fourth in the $290,000 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. After drawing post seven, Yannick Gingras took the colt to the front in :26.2 before getting covered up second by Arque Hanover. They sat the two-hole trip the entire race and fell just short in the stretch once getting loose in the stretch. Betting Exchange finished fourth in 1:50, beaten only three-quarters of a length by Rockin In Heaven. His biggest effort of the year came in the $810,000 Meadowlands Pace final on June 20 where he finished third behind Wakizashi Hanover and Wiggle It Jiggleit (currently first and third in North America for 2015 earnings) in 1:48 flat. He was only beaten by three lengths and was race timed in 1:48.3 in that marquee event. Betting Exchange has drawn post one and will be driven by Jason Bartlett for trainer Tom Fanning. Artistic Major (Art Major-Western Dancer) will be a major stumbling block for the favorite and has been listed as the 5-2 second choice. Having put together as solid a season as anyone could want, Artistic Major is 10 for 10 in the money and that money has totaled $203,351 this year. He was second in the fastest Empire Breeders Classic elimination (1:49.3) and then finished second once again in the final. All three of his wins have come in NYSS competition including his lifetime mark of 1:50.3 taken at Vernon Downs in June. NYSS leading driver Jim Morrill Jr. takes the reins behind Artistic Major and will leave from post 4 for trainer Steve Elliott. There are also two $15,000 NYSS Excelsior Series "A" races slated to go as race one and three. Post time for the matinee card is set for 1:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs 

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 28, 2015 - Prohibitive harness racing favorite Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett, $2.60) successfully completed her rounds Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $48,000 Filly and Mare Handicap Pace. Ordered outside her six foes, the millionaires worked around Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter), then controlled the coterie through fractions of :27.1, :56.1, 1:23.4, 1:51.4. The mile, a tick off her previous local season's-best, found her getting to the line a length-and-a-quarter before a cone-skimming Dune in Red (Jordan Stratton). The one photoed "Jonsie" for second, with Spreester (George Brennan) and Cocoa Beach (Eric Carlson) grabbing the smaller envelopes. For Krispy Apple, a 7-yeart-old daughter of Western Ideal co-owned by Bamond Racing and Joseph Davino and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was her eighth win in 18 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $22.60, with the triple returning $91 The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM), with the $149,249 final of the Hudson Filly Trot (3-year-old fillies), the final of the $116,430 Lady Maud (3-year-old pacing fillies) and a pair of $40,000 eliminations for the 61st Yonkers Trot. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 14, 2015 - They finally solved Cinamony (George Brennan) Friday night, as it was 17-10 favorite Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett, $5.40) winning Yonkers Raceway's $48,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace.. With that lass going for her seventh consecutive win since hitting town, she negotiated an assigned eight-hole to make the lead. The second choice took a 1¾-length lead into the lane, but this was the first time locally she couldn't close the sale. Passing outside by a pocket-sitting (from post position No. 7) Krispy Apple and inside by Skippin' By (Eric Carlson), it was the former getting the latter by a neck in 1:51.3. That effort matched the track record for aged mares (Rocklamation, Venus Delight and Cinamony twice). Cinamony settled for third, beaten three-quarters of a length, with Handsoffmycupcake (Scott Zeron) and For the Ladies N (Brian Sears) rounding out the payees. For Krispy Apple, a 7-year-old daughter of Western Ideal trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr. for co-owners Bamond Racing and Joseph Davino, it was her seventh win in 16 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $71, with the triple returning $336.50. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (first post 7:10 PM). Frank Drucker

Sapphire City (Jason Bartlett, $8.60) and Backstreet Hanover (Larry Stalbaum, $10) shared the glory Saturday night at the harness racing meeting at  Yonkers Raceway's winning the co-featured $48,000 Open Handicaps. Pole-assigned Sapphire City won the weekly pacing feature, chasing Forty Five Red (Mark MacDonald) before whipping him in a two-speed number (:27.4, :56.1, 1:24, 1:51.4). The final margin was a medium-sized nose a season's-best effort. The Real One (Pat Lachance) was a belated third as the 7-5 favorite, with Frankie's Dragon (Dan Dube) and E Z Noah (Brian Sears) completing the cashers. For second choice Sapphire City, a 7-year-old millionaire Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stables and Jordan Sklut, it was his fifth win in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $35.20, with the triple returning $150. The week's marquee trot saw the lass Backstreet Hanover-from post position No. 5-move from seventh turning for home to win going away. The margin was 2¼ lengths in a season's-best 1:55.2. Rock of Cashel (Tyler Buter) rallied for second with ABC Muscles Boy (Eric Carlson), Skates N Plates (MacDonald) and Tober (Jason Bartlett) settling for the remainder. The latter two mixed it up early (:27.4, :57.1, 1:25.4), helping the cause of the closers. Tepid 7-2 fave Theraputic (Joe Bongiorno) was a non-factor seventh. For third choice Backstreet Hanover, a 7-year-old daughter of Andover Hall trained by Chris Marino for owner David Hamm, it was her fourth win in 19 '15 tries. The exacta paid $115, the triple returned $744 and the superfecta paid $4,716. The Raceway's live season continues Monday (first post 7:10 PM), a "French-centric" Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

Yonkers Raceway's Monday harness racing program played no gender favorites. Driver Jason Bartlett won seven races, while trainer Jennifer Sabot won four. The two successfully crossed paths three times, the first with odds-on choice Little Joke ($2.20), who won the $20,000, third-race pace by 8½ lengths in a maiden-breaking 1:55. Bartlett/Sabot then prevailed with American Venture ($7.20), who won the $19,000, seventh race by 10½ widening lengths (life-best 1:50.4). Then, it was Rock My World ($3.70) in the $25,000, ninth-race pace (season's-best 1:55.2). Bartlett authored his own personal Pick 5, which included favored Midnight Dylan ($4.50) in the $19,000, sixth-race pace (1:53.4, matching a season's-best), American Venture in the seventh, with Yes You Can ($8.60) in the $25,000, eighth-race pace (life-best 1:53.2), Rock My World in the ninth and Secretsoftheknight ($14) in the $22,000, 10th-race pace (season's-best 1:53). Bartlett, who had nary a race off during the dozen races, wrapped it with a first-up Villager Beat ($34.60) in the $25,000 pacing finale (season's-best 1:52.2). Ms. Sabot's other training victory was JC Kingdom ($10) in the fifth-race pace (1:53.1, a season's-best). She won with all but one of her starters Monday evening. The Monday wagering Pick 5-as opposed to the Monday Bartlett Pick 5-attracted $20,902.74 of new money with a $10,000 guaranteed poll and a carryover of just over $4,100. The winning combination of 4/1/2/5/3 returned for every correct half-a-buck wager. Frank Drucker

P H Supercam (Million Dollar Cam) overcame a first over journey to score in the seventh annual harness racing Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Saturday night. The Jeff Bamond Jr. trainee drew post position four and after leaving to get away third, came first over on the race's favorite Dancin Yankee (Jim Morrill Jr) in the $260,000 free-for-all pace. Dancin Yankee, the Saratoga track record holder after winning the 2014 Gerrity in 1:48.4, returned to town to defend his title and came up just a neck shy of repeating. Jason Bartlett piloted P H Supercam, who wore down Dancin Yankee in the final strides to secure the win in 1:50.1, easily the fastest mile of the '15 campaign at the Spa. Dancin Yankee had to settle for second while longshot Domethatagain (Billy Dobson) came on to finish third. P H Supercam returned $11.20 to win and led an exacta and triple that paid $33.40 and $647, respectively. The victory was the eighth in seventeen seasonal tries for millionaire pacer P H Supercam. Live racing takes place every Tuesday through Saturday at Saratoga for the next six weeks with first post times set for 7:05pm each night. Mike Sardella  

I took a look at how a number of drivers are measuring up against their mid-season performance last year. I’ll compare the figures through the end of racing on Saturday, Pace Day, with the figures through the end of racing on July 18, 2014. The earnings for many of the upper echelon drivers are down this year; the average for the top ten is down almost $170,000. The winter and spring weather for racing are historically bad, causing some tracks to delay their opening and others to cancel numerous dates. Tim Tetrick, who topped the list last year at this point, after winning the Pace with He’s Watching, is currently in third place. He missed time early in the year to the World Driving Championship; last year he missed the first five weeks to rehab after he had a hip replaced. Despite wins in last Saturday’s Golden Girls with Anndrovette, and the Haughton with Mach It So, Tetrick is short $735,000 from where he was at this point in 2014. Jason Bartlett, the leading driver at Yonkers, has been leaving Westchester more this year, with trips to Pennsylvania on Wednesdays and more drives on the NYSS circuit. He drove in Canada not long ago and piloted Venus Delight at The Meadowlands on Pace night.He currently leads all drivers in money earned by a slight margin over Corey Callahan. Jason has started 106 more times, registering 40 more wins, and earning $1.1 million more than he had to mid-July last year. His UDRS has jumped from .314 to .350. He ended 2014 in seventh place; as good as the money is at Yonkers, all that stakes money up for grabs over the next four months will be tough to overcome. The 2014 year-end leader, Driver of the Year Yannick Gingras, is currently in fourth place. He was in second at this point last year. Gingras is $900,000 short of last year’s mid-season total, with 11 fewer starts and 65 fewer wins. His UDRS is 0.337; it was 0.364 at this time in 2014. The reason is, to an extent certainly, the same one that has Matt Kakaley off more than a million dollars and Brett Miller short 82 wins and almost $450,000: Ron Burke is light years ahead of the other trainers, but he’s also well behind last year’s record setting pace. Aged money-makers Foiled Again, Clear Vision, Bettor’s Edge and Rocklamation are a collective 4 for 41 with not much money between them. Many of his top 2014 sophomores, like JK Endofanera, Limelight Beach, Sayitall BB and Gural Hanover, have disappointed. His Pace entry, Lyons Levi Lewis, finished ninth at 81/1. Takter is steaming along, so Yannick may win the title again in 2015, but so far there have been more bumps in the road. John Campbell, who received much unsolicited advice about retiring after his serious accident at Chester in May of 2011, is killing it. At this time four years ago reports surfaced that Campbell, who was still in the recovery phase, was contemplating ending his career. Then in February, 2013, he broke his collarbone in an ice skating accident. Thanks to world champion JL Cruze, Doo Wop Hanover, Rockeyed Optimist and others, JC is currently at 18, up from 39 at this point a year ago. He has almost doubled his win total, and has earned $1.3 million more. Corey Callahan, who is number two on the money list, was fifth last July. He missed time to the World Driving Championship in 2014, and has made 50 more starts this year. He has 80 more wins and $670,000 more in earnings. His UDRS is up to .332 from .288. Corey finished in sixth at year’s end. (Pierce was third last July and ended the season there. His absence is having an impact on all the marquee players.) George Napolitano Jr, who stays in Pennsylvania during the high season and drives in Florida in the winter, is having a terrific year. GNap, who is the leading driver at both Harrah’s Philadelphia and Pocono Downs, is winning almost 23% of his starts at Harrah’s and more than 24% at Pocono. He doesn’t get much Grand Circuit work, but he did recently win the Franklin with Luck Be Withyou. He’s currently seventh, up from 13 last July. He has 55 more wins and has banked $727,000 more. George finished last year at number 11. Tyler Buter is also having a very good year. He was number 50 a year ago, and has moved up to 19. He has 66 more wins and is up $1.3 million. Dan Dube, who has benefited greatly from driving Rene Allard’s horses at Yonkers, has jumped from number 17 last July to number seven. He has 69 more wins on 104 more drives and is showing a healthy $1.5 million increase in purse money over one year ago. He’s the third leading driver at Yonkers, where he’s winning 15% of his starts. Dube finished 2014 in the 21 slot. Simon Allard has also benefited from his brother’s success, in Pennsylvania. He was in slot 47 one year ago and is at 27 now. He had banked $743,000 more through Saturday than he did thru July 18, 2014. Dave Palone, the King of The Meadows, was twelfth this time last July and is at 16 now. His drive total is down 295; he has 60 fewer wins; and he has banked $682,000 less. Dave’s UDRS is a high 0.372, virtually the same as it was a year ago. Sylvain Filion, the only WEG based driver in the top twenty, went from number 23 last July to number 16 after Saturday. He’s made 75 more starts, has 60 more wins and has $587,000 more in the bank. Doug McNair, who had an off year in 2014, leaving him at number 38 in July and 32 at season’s end, has rebounded to the 24 slot.  Jody Jamieson has been on the opposite track. He went from 18 a year ago to number 35 through Saturday. He has 44 fewer wins and is short $365,000. With the OSS in full swing these numbers can change quickly. The same goes for Chris Christoforu, who was wildly successful with Casie Coleman’s youngsters in the OSS last year. Coleman is off to a very slow start and Chris is down to 33 from 19 last July. He’s earned $268,000 less this year. And James MacDonald is down to 38 from 24, with 70 fewer wins and $223,000 less. Most of these WEG drivers have had multiple win nights/days in the OSS of late. Mark MacDonald, who is up ten spots is a testament to the power of the purse money offered at Yonkers, his home base. He only has four more wins, but he has earned $600,000 more. He was second to Jim Morrill Jr on the NYSS circuit last season, and that’s just heating up. Morrill, who takes the winter off then races in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, has banked $500,000 more, with only three more wins. Both MacDonald and Morrill benefit greatly from that NYSS money. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century.  He writes a weekly blog for  Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 17, 2015-- Three days after France celebrated Bastille Day, Yonkers Raceway celebrated Bastille Night. Bastille, the trotter, wired his foes in Friday night's $25,000 second race, going the distance in 1:56.4. The Ronald Knigge 9-year-old Revenue S homebred, trained by his daughter, Ashley, and driven by Jason Bartlett, paid $6.40 as the slight wagering favorite. Bastille won his second race in 18 seasonal starts while going past $577,00 in career earnings. Frank Drucker

National Seelster (Andy Miller, $13.20) ripped out of the pocket and ripped past a prohibitive favorite Thursday night, throwing down the gauntlet with the fastest of three efforts during the harness racing meeting at Yonkers Raceway's $168,375 New York Sire Stakes Hugh Grant Pace night. Leaving alertly from post position No 6 in the first $56.125 event for 3-year-old pacing colts/geldings, National Seelster made the first lead. He then gave up the baton to 1-4 choice Arque Hanover (Jason Bartlett) right at a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. Southwind Massimo (Pat Lachance) was away third. Arque Hanover found a 56-second intermission and 1:23.4 three-quarters, with no outer pressure whatsoever. He took a length lead into the lane, but National Seelster was more than ready for his second move. He went up and over "Arque," winning by a length-and-quarter in a certifiably-snappy 1:51.1. Arque Hanover held second over Southwind Massimo. For second choice National Seelster, an (unraced at 2) son of Bettor's Delight trained by Chris Ryder for co-owners Robert Mondillo and Oompa's Farm, it was his seventh win in 13 seasonal starts (4-for-4 in NYSS competition). The exacta paid $22.60, with the triple returning $86.50. "He's just a perfect colt," Ryder said. "Does whatever you ask, gets around any surface. We may try the Adios next, depending upon how many of those 'killers' are there." Thursday's other Grant events were won by Betting Exchange (Jim Morrill Jr., $2.10) getting off the seasonal schneid in 1:53.3, and Americanprimetime (Bartlett, $19.80), holding off 59-1 Rock in Heaven (Dave Miller) in a season's-best 1:52.4. The former, Bettor's Delight colt trained by Tom Fanning for co-owners himself, Howard Taylor and Susan Kajsfasz, zipped well past $300,000 in career cash. The exacta (Penji Hanover [Mark MacDonald] second) paid $4.50 (two wagering choices, with the triple (K-Rock [Yannick Gingras] third) returning $27.80. The winning margin was two lengths. For fourth choice Americanprimetime, a son of American Ideal trained by Rick Dane Jr. for owner Rock and Roll Stable, he's now 2-for-9 this season. The exacta paid $148.50, the triple (Artistic Major [Scott Zeron] third) returned $1,548 and the superfecta (17-10 choice A Bettor Hat [Brian Sears] fourth) paid $12,135 (base $2 payout). The winning margin was a half-length. The Raceway's live season continues Friday and Saturday (both at 7:10 PM), with Saturday night featuring the $107,500 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 11, 2015 - Two-year-olds were prominent Saturday night, with Yonkers Raceway hosting a pair of eliminations for the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace. A baker's dozen worth of plebes went it at in their $25,000 elims, with the first four finishers in each back for next Saturday's (July 18) $107,500 finale. Jason Bartlett, who won half the evening's dozen races, included wagering choice Do Over Hanover ($5) among that list. The pole-sitting, $25,000 Western Ideal colt won the evening's first elimination, defeating first-starter Gleneagles (George Brennan) by 3¾ lengths in a maiden-breaking 1:56.1. Second and third choices Autotone Hanover (Tyler Buter) and Rodeo Rock (Dan Dube) both survived breaks-and a judges' inquiry-to finish third and fourth, respectively. For Do Over Hanover, trained by Jim Campbell for co-owners Jeffrey & Michael Snyder and Robert Unice, it was that first career win in a couple of starts. The exacta paid $37.60, with the triple returning $143. The second elimination saw Joe Larry N Curly (Brennan), sent off at 1-10 odds and the reason show wagering was taken off the table, fail to get the memo. He jumped it off wildly leaving the gate, winding up distanced. That left Tailgunner Hanover (Ray Schnittker, $23.40) in a race by himself, doing his business-from post No. 6-from an open lead. He won by 6¼ lengths in an identical (and life-best) 1:56.1 Endeavor (Pat Lachance), Artmagic (Brian Sears) and War-N-Munn (Dube) also earned their way into the final. For third choice Tailgunner Hanover, a $50,000 Well Said colt co-owned (with Joe Sbrocco, Frank Baldassare and Howard Taylor) by his trainer/driver, it was his second win in three '15 tries. The exacta paid $130, with the triple returning $544. Note that since no one took down Saturday's Pick 5, Monday night's gimmick-already with a $10,000 guaranteed pool-begins with a carryover of $4,726.64 (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11). The Raceway's live season continues Monday night (7:10 PM), a "French-centric" Tuesday matinee (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 10, 2015  - Favored Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett, $5.30) left here a beast and returned just as ornery Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $48,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. The 8-5 choice, ordered outside of her seven rivals, tucked into fifth...a job made much easier since the three horses directly inside of her were all off the gate. Set Me Up (George Brennan) laid down the law early (:27.3, :56), not seeing any competition until Alhambra (Larry Stalbaum) took out of third nearing the 1:24.1 three-quarters. That allowed Krispy Apple to grab a tow. Set Me Up owned a tenuous lead into the lane, but the gate crashers were arriving. It was Krispy Apple-back in Westchester for the first time since late May-going widest and fastest. She whipped a pocket-sitting Road Bet (Dan Dube) by a length in a season's-best 1:52.1. Third went to Caribbean Rose N (Brian Sears), with Alhambra and Set Me Up also settling for the small change. For Krispy Apple, a 7-year-old daughter of Western Ideal co-owned by Joe Davino & Bamond Racing and trained by Jeff Bamond Jr., it was her fifth win (fourth consecutive here) in a dozen seasonal starts. The exacta paid $28.20, with the triple returning $130.50. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM), with a pair of $25,000 eliminations for the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace (2-year-old colts and geldings). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all nighttime programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

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