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CHESTER, PA - Streaking classriser Bella Ava held off a late bid from favored classdropper Winnerup to take a new mark of 1:53.2 in the $13,600 harness racing trotting feature on Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. Dexter Dunn made two moves to control the pace with the daughter of Cantab Hall, opened up ground on the second-over Winnerup down the backstretch and around the far turn, then stayed strong while trotting her last half in :56.1 to defeat her main rival by 1½ lengths. It was the fourth straight victory, stepping up every time, for Bella Ava, who is trained by Jenny Melander for the JPS Racing Stables LLC. In a pair of $11,600 co-features on the "Trottin' Thursday" card at Philly, driver Tyler and trainer Todd Buter shipped in with a pair of horses who had won exactly one-third of their lifetime starts - and both improved on that percentage by coming home first. The faster of the two was the Explosive Matter gelding Rich And Miserable, who came uncovered into a :55.2 back half yet still won comfortably in 1:52.1, giving him 18 wins in 52 career starts. Buter Farm Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs own the talented trotter. The same ownership foursome are also the sponsors of the Muscle Massive gelding Two AM, who came out of the pocket headstretch, had his prospects not hurt when pacesetting Broadway Athena briefly went offstride, and then scored in 1:53.1 to bring his career scorecard to 29 wins in 85 starts. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Jenny Melander knows Altercation likes to put up a fight when training. On Tuesday (April 2) she will see for the first time how her 3-year-old harness racing filly trotter battles in a real race. Altercation is one of three Melander horses that will compete in Tuesday's opening round of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3- and 4-year-old female trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Altercation is in the fourth of four $15,000 divisions, at 3-1 on the morning line, and is joined by stablemates Meadowbranch Vicki (3-1 in the second division) and Cayenne Victory (7-2 in the third). First race post time is 4 p.m. (EDT). Altercation is a Diamond Creek Farm-bred daughter of Cantab Hall out of the stakes-winning mare Glide Power. She was purchased for $30,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale and enters the Weiss off a second-place finish in a qualifier at Pocono, timed in 1:58.4 with driver Marcus Miller. "Last year she wasn't ready; she was getting a little sore here and there," said Melander, who owns the filly with Noonan Harness Racing, Clark Stables, and John Devito. "I'm glad my partners decided to go on with her this year. She seems like she's pretty nice. "Her biggest thing is she loves to race. In every single training mile as soon as we turn for home she just wants to go. She absolutely loves to win every time. That is by far her strongest asset. She is pretty good gaited, she's long, and she is going to give all she's got." Following the Weiss Series, Melander said Altercation is eligible to Pennsylvania-sired stakes as well as the Kentucky Sire Stakes. "When they haven't raced as a 2-year-old, it's really hard to put a lot of money into staking them, but she has plenty enough," Melander said. "That's a lot of races right there. There is plenty of reason for her to make money if she comes around and proves herself." Meadowbranch Vicki, a 3-year-old filly bred and owned by Hans Enggren, is making her seasonal debut. The daughter of Wishing Stone out of Wen-Mar's Memo won one of 12 races last year and earned $44,785. Her victory came in a conditioned race, but she was second in divisions of the Simpson and Ohio Sire Stakes. "She's like all those Wishing Stones, kind of on the small side, but she really likes her job," Melander said. "She put in quite a few good races but she also ended up with a lot of bad luck. It's a lot of half-mile races in Ohio and every time we were on a half-mile (track) she ended up drawing on the outside, she was in with the toughest horses, just not much luck. "But she's an honest little horse and she did her best to make money. We were happy with her. She does what we ask, but she's not one that shows off in any way. She is staked in Ohio and she's got another couple races here and there, but not a whole lot." Rounding out Melander's group is Cayenne Victory. The 4-year-old daughter of Cayenne Turbo out of Victory Connection is owned by Melander Racing and Noonan Harness Racing. She was purchased for $15,000 at February's Blooded Horse Winter Speed Sale, then missed several weeks because of illness. She has started twice for Melander, with a third- and fourth-place finish. For her career, Cayenne Victory has won four of 34 races and earned $32,124. "We needed something more to race during the winter, so that was the main reason we bought her," Melander said. "That didn't work out because she got sick. But she's all trot and that's kind of what I liked about her. She's very solid." Jim Morrill Jr. will drive Meadowbranch Vicki and Cayenne Victory. The Weiss Series for female trotters features three preliminary rounds followed by a $30,000 final April 23. For Tuesday's complete entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

CHESTER, PA - Tymal Reign set most of the pace in the $14,500 trotting feature at Harrah's Philadelphia, but the pocketsitting Ameliosi had inside room and from mid stretch ... inched ... up ... with ... every ... stride ... and ... finally ... nipped the winner in the final few feet, stopping the timer in 1:55.3. Ameliosi, a daughter of Explosive Matter trained by Jenny Melander for owner John Devito, took command on the first turn, hung favored Tymal Reign past the 27.3 quarter and was thereafter content to sit behind that one through the middle splits of 56.1 and 1:25.2. The winner kept on grinding just inside the pacesetter, and just did get by by the shortest of margins under the urging of Marcus Miller, on a day when quick last quarters were not to be found. There were a pair of $14,000 co-features, one on each gait. On the trot, the finish may have been even closer than in the feature, as the Cantab Hall sophomore gelding American Steele set the pace, holding off closing favorite Dunsinane Hall by no more than a couple of inches. A win is a win, and this win in 1:57.2 was a lifetime mark for American Steele, who was kept rolling to the wire by the track's leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., for trainer Rob Harmon and the partnership of Harmon Racing Stable LLC and Harvey Eisman. The pace was taken by Western Showgirl, who posted only her second career win, yet broke $50,000 in lifetime earnings, shedding her previous 29-1-14-7 "bridesmaid" pattern by winning in 1:57.1. Owner/trainer Ray Barnes sent her on a first-over mission, opened a good-sized lead when the pacesetter gave way midturn, then maintained a safe 1½-length margin to the wire with the Western Ideal mare. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

WASHINGTON, PA, June 19, 2018 -- Chapter Too, who had been plying her trade at Eastern tracks, made her debut at The Meadows a successful one with a front-end victory in Friday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot. Chapter Too zipped to the lead from post 2 for Dan Rawlings and showed she meant business when she wouldn't release early challengers Glidinthruparadise, who broke stride, and Expose Yourself. The 4-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Wood Blue Chip had little trouble holding off the late bid of the pocket-sitting You're Majestic to down her by a length in 1:54.1, matching her career best. Ready Any Time, the 1-1 favorite, finished third. Jenny Melander trains Chapter Too, who lifted her lifetime bankroll to $230,123, for Belmar Racing & Breeding. Mike Wilder collected four wins on the 13-race card. Saturday's program at The Meadows features two rich total-pool guarantees -- $7,500 for the Pick 4 (races 4-7), $5,000 for the Pick 5 (races 9-13). First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Yonkers, NY --- Harness racing trainer Jenny Melander started two horses in the $100,000 Yonkers Raceway/SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series last year, Golden Son and Ameliosi, who finished third and fifth, respectively. In addition, Ontheroad De Vie claimed the runner-up spot in the $25,000 consolation for series eligibles on the same card. When the four-week series starts anew Tuesday (April 3), Melander will send out a formidable foursome. For her, the series has become a prime target for talented trotters to jump start their 4-year-old seasons. “We’re not as big as the biggest stables, but we try to get the best value out of the horses for our owners and with that, it seems to work out that we keep the 3-year-olds that haven’t made enough money so they still fit the series, and they can have a good and healthy 4-year-old season. And if we can buy a horse who fits the series, that’s great as well,” Melander said. “I think that series is one of the best series there is for the amount of money you spend to be in it and the number of starts you can get in for that kind of money,” she continued. “It’s a good series and we’ve had good luck in it in the past, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t keep aiming for it.” Melander’s stable is now 35 strong in total. She prides herself on showing continuous improvement in each of her six years since she went out on her own as a trainer, both in quality and in quantity. In 2017, her horses earned $1,266,587, a personal best. “I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made over the last few years and where we’re at now, I think we have better quality each year and I think this year we have a little better quality than last year,” she said. Melander commented on each of the four horses she will start in the $25,000 divisions of the series’ first leg: Race 2 – Division One #1 Frankie Mullins 5-2 (Jason Bartlett) Belmar Racing’s 4-year-old son of Muscle Massive is 4-for-27 with $94,092 earned. The gelding earned multiple placings in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series last year before ending the season with a string of off-the-board finishes at Yonkers and Harrah's Philadelphia. After a winter break, Frankie Mullins qualified back March 6 and finished third and fifth in two starts at Pocono on March 17 and 23, respectively. “We’ve had him since halfway through his 2-year-old year. He’s a good horse, he tries, he always gives it what he can, he gets around the half good. Not a top-of-the-line horse, but he’s a grinder and he always does well, he always tries. He’s improved a bit, he’s filled out a bit, gotten a little bigger. I give pretty much all my horses a winter break, I think they deserve it. He’s come back good. He had a good first start at Pocono when he finished third and then last week he got locked in on the rail, but he should be ready on Tuesday.” Race 6 – Division Four #3 Meadowbrook Glider 9-5 (Jason Bartlett) A $25,000 buy for John Devito from the Ohio Blooded Horse Sale last May, Meadowbrook Glider has proved a challenge for Melander. Although he’s shown talent, trotting to a 1:54.4 victory at Pocono last season, the 5-year-old son of Justice Hall makes frequent breaks in stride. After a change in equipment following his latest break March 9 led to two strong races -- a third from post seven at Yonkers March 18 and a win at Pocono March 24 -- Melander feels more confident in the gelding coming into the series. “He’s a little bit trickier. He’s really fast, he showed his speed last year. He’s had a little tougher time coming back this year and getting gaited. He still sits on a ton of speed, it’s just a matter of keeping him sound and focused enough. He’s switched to the pace a couple times and his mind wanders off and you have to get him focused. We just put the racer pads on him up front. That’s what he had last year and I think he just needs them. He loves the racer pads and they seem to work for him. “You have to drive him up in the bit, keep his attention. I was very happy with his last start at Pocono where he showed he’s still got it. The talent is there, but you have to drive him and hold him together at the same time. He raced good at Yonkers when he finished third and he came flying late from the back of the pack and was four-wide on the last turn, so that was a good effort as well. He’s had two solid races now after a few miscues early on.” Race 7 – Division Five #5 Chapter Too 2-1 (Andy Miller) Belmar Racing paid $70,000 at Harrisburg last fall to acquire New York Sire Stakes finalist Chapter Too, a daughter of Chapter Seven out of the Kadabra mare Wood Blue Chip. She won her debut for Melander off the winter layoff at the Meadowlands March 9 before finishing second by a nose after sustaining a long first-over charge in her next outing March 17. In her most recent start, Chapter Too earned her fifth career win and pushed her earnings to $159,908 when she won a Meadowlands overnight in 1:54.1. “From the second she came into our barn, I really liked her. She is a lovely, lovely horse. The owner is planning to breed her eventually, she’s pretty well-bred and we’re hoping to make some money with her during her 4-year-old year. She sits on a ton of speed, she’s a very classy mare. We already know she can get around a half-mile track, we just wanted to get a few starts into her before going to Yonkers. “She’s an all-around mare. She can leave, she can sit back, she can pretty much do whatever you want her to do. The first week, obviously after just one qualifier, she needed to be raced following something. She got a beautiful trip and everything was good. The following week, she had to race a little tougher than what we initially hoped for, but she’s a tough mare, it didn’t do anything bad to her. I thought she fought it out all the way and after a tough race, only lost by a small bit. Then, just showing how good a mare she is, she just got better after that. In her last start at the Meadowlands, (Andy Miller) never even pulled the plugs. She kind of has a little funky way of going at times, her action isn’t 100 percent clear, but I think that’s just the way she goes.” Race 9 – Division Six #6 Ontheroad De Vie 5-1 (Jim Marohn Jr.) Immediately after Ontheroad De Vie finished second in a series consolation last year, it was obvious something was amiss. Melander soon discovered the gelded son of Holiday Road fractured a bone in his hoof and spent the rest of the year nurturing him back to health. The 6-year-old won for the first time since his injury when he captured a $3,100 overnight from post eight at Monticello March 26. “We wanted to sell him in the January sale last year. He was racing really well for us in the fall and into the winter, but nobody really wanted to pay any money for him, so we ended up buying him back. From the sale until the end of the series, he had a great time and was making great money every start and really consistent. He’s not a top-of-the-line horse, but he shows up and he tries and he’s consistent. He makes good money doing that. “Then unfortunately he broke his coffin bone in the consolation. When he came off the track, he was limping and before we left the paddock, he was crippled. We spent all summer just getting him back. It was a pretty bad break, so we didn’t know how good of a horse he was going to be coming back, but he’s come back sound and good and I think he’s just about the same horse he was when he broke down. He’s been good to us and I’m glad we could be good to him and get him back to where he’s doing good. We’re lucky that we can stay eligible to the series again.” by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY 

Golden son (Mike Simons) wins the Tioga Downs open trot Saturday night (June 3). The 4 year-old Majestic Son gelding road in the pocket following the favorite Sweet Thing (Fern Paquet Jr.). Sweet Thing led the field hitting the first quarter in :27.4, the half in :56.4 and three quarters went in 1:25.1. Simons waited patiently in the stretch for an opening. Once he got it he guided Golden Son ($8.30) to the front for a three length win in 1:54.1. Golden son who is owned John Devito and Rocco Maniello while trained by Jenny Melander won for the 6th time this season. Sweet Thing finished second with Another Breath (Jim Meittinis) getting third. Mickey Mc Nichol continues to soar at Tioga Downs this season. The 68 year-old trainer, driver has had a stellar start at Tioga Downs this season. On May 14, 2007, he piloted Maxdaddy Blue Chip to a mile in 1:49.3 during the Open Pace. On Monday (May 29), he had another great drive when he guided the 31-1 long shot Good Luck to victory. Owned by Fred Monteleone, Good Luck escaped the pocket at the top of the stretch and surged by For A Bettor Time for an easy win in 1:52.0. Tonight (June 3) he would add two more wins. In race number two Mc Nichol guided Blueberry Heaven ($7.90) to a win in 1:52.1. Race number nine he was victorious with the favorite Massive Lightning ($4.00). Fred Monteleone owned both horse who were trained by Mc Nichols as well. Tioga Downs returns to action with an 11 race card on Sunday afternoon (June 4) at 1pm. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs.

YONKERS, N.Y. - Yonkers Raceway’s lucrative purses were on trainer Jenny Melander’s mind when she opened the sale catalogs last fall. Melander, who’s been running her own stable for five years now, only had a few horses who could compete at the harness racing Hilltop Oval last season and she wanted to change that. “I would love to always have a good focus on Yonkers, but last year, we didn’t have horses that would get around a half as good as I would have hoped,” she said. “When we searched for horses at the sale this fall, we did have Yonkers in the back of our head. That’s where we wanted to be.” Melander’s focus on Yonkers is proving fruitful early in the 2017 racing season. From 23 starters, Melander’s pupils have won seven races and another nine have hit the board. In Tuesday’s (April 18) third leg of the Yonkers Raceway/SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series, she’ll send out three competitors: Golden Son, Ameliosi, and Ontheroad De Vie. Melander purchased Golden Son out of the Harrisburg Mixed Sale with the series in mind. For $20,000, she thought she was getting a horse who loved to win and could compete at Yonkers. “I liked him from day one,” Melander recalled. “He’s a big horse and I just thought he needed a little more muscle tone than what he had. It looked like he might have been turned out for a little bit when he first came to us. A 3-year-old that’s kind of on the big side, that’s nice because you know you can improve them just with maturing and training. He’s lovely. He has a great work ethic and he’s really nice around the barn.” Golden Son debuted a winner for Melander at The Meadowlands December 15, but didn’t race again until January 17 at Yonkers when he won again in a $25,000 overnight. The spacing between races was part of a carefully crafted campaign that allowed Golden Son to stay eligible to the Bonus Trotting Series, for horses who had not won six races or $100,000 through February 1, 2017. “In the series, we thought he’d fit perfect. Even when we bought him because he had so many wins already, but he didn’t have much money on his card,” she explained. “We knew that if we were to continue to race him into the winter before the stakes payment came up, he wouldn’t fit it. We managed him for the series. We raced him twice before the payment was due for the series.” Golden Son racked up two more wins in overnight competition before the series began April 4. Sent straight to the lead by John Campbell in week one, Golden Son went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:57.3. The next week, with Jason Bartlett in the sulky, Golden Son wired the field again, winning by 2 in 1:56.3. In addition to his impressive victories, Melander is seeing improvement in Golden Son’s attitude on the racetrack. “Sometimes, he gets a little worked up and he doesn’t finish the mile as strong as he should, but the last couple of weeks he’s been minding his manners even better,” she explained. “Part of that is maturing and part of that is the driver helping to keep him quiet. Obviously some days it works better than others, but lately, he’s coming around with that and able to use his ability to the fullest instead of wasting it beforehand.” Golden Son, one of four horses sporting a perfect record in the series heading into week three, along with Tight Lines, Pridecrest, and Triumphant’s Chip, drew post position two in the third of five $25,000 divisions Tuesday night and is a 6/5 morning line favorite. While Melander is happy Golden Son has avoided the other series favorites so far, the same can’t be said for Ameliosi, who faces Tight Lines from post one in the first division. Ameliosi finished third in leg one after making up an 8 1/4-length deficit at odds of 18-1 before winning her second-leg division in wire-to-wire fashion in 1:57.2. Although the waters get deeper this week, Melander is thrilled to have Ameliosi in contention for a spot in the series final after a paddock accident last fall nearly ended the 4-year-old mare’s career. “Our plan was to race her at Yonkers through the winter, but she fell in the paddock in the late fall and really hurt herself and it’s just taken forever to get her back going. For a while, we thought we would have to breed her because she just did not improve,” Melander remembered. While Ameliosi didn’t require surgery, she did need time, and a lot of it. Sore muscles in her back left the daughter of Explosive Matter’s future in doubt. “It was all muscles and chiropractic work. She must have pulled a muscle in her back that set really deep. At first, we gave her a month off, but starting back, she just wasn’t where she should have been,” Melander recalled. “It was really just a rocky go for a few months and we were just thinking maybe she’s not going to come around. Then, we started seeing a little light again and she got a little better and a little better. Now she’s over it completely and she’s getting stronger and stronger.” Melander credits owners John Devito and Rocco Manniello for their patience during Ameliosi’s recovery. The longtime owners, who also own Golden Son, are big supporters of Melander’s growing stable. “They started with one horse and I think I have eight horses with me now. They’ve been great to me and we have a pretty good relationship at this stage,” Melander said. “I really appreciate them when they let me take my time. Sometimes when you rush these horses, you’re just not going to get the results you wish for.” While Golden Son and Ameliosi drew well in Tuesday’s divisions, Melander’s final series entrant didn’t fare as well. Ontheroad De Vie will start from post seven in the final division of the night. It’s the second time in the series the 5-year-old gelding will start from the far outside. Co-owned by Melander, Ontheroad De Vie is a 6-1 morning line. “He has been a good horse to us and he went through the classes. We bought him last fall and he’s been really good, made a lot of money at Yonkers. I have no complaints, but he’s just not the quality of the other two,” Melander pointed out. “He needs a trip worked out and needs it worked out his way. He’ll always try and he’ll always put in a good effort.” For entries for Tuesday’s card, click here. First post time at Yonkers is 7:10 p.m. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Former Victorian harness racing horseman Marty Noonan is back at his home in the USA where he will spend the next 12 weeks in a neck brace following a serious training accident. The trots man was working a horse at the training centre where he is based when another horse got loose and slammed into Noonan’s jog cart from the side. Noonan landed hard on the ground and was airlifted to hospital where he was put under sedation for 16 hours before being cleared of brain damage. Noonan’s left ear was severed in the horrific fall, requiring surgery to be reattached, and he broke a vertebra in his neck. Noonan’s partner, Jenny Melander, posted on social media that Marty returned home on October 14 and thanked everyone for their “prayers and well wishes”. Melander told Trots Media that despite the seriousness of the injuries, “Marty was extremely lucky. It could have been much worse.” “As of now he doesn’t need any surgery on his neck. It is supposed to heal with 12 weeks in a neck brace. He has made it home and is moving around quite well now,” she added. Noonan formerly trained and drove horses in Victoria but is now in the US training with Melander. Many Victorian trots fans and participants were concerned with the news Noonan was involved in the accident, highlighting his popularity among the industry. by Cody Winnell

Harbor Racing's Newcastle (Corey Callahan) was dominate in the featured event on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 5) at Harrah's Philadelphia.   It was a trot for non-winners of 5 races of $50,000 lifetime going for a purse of $16,000.   Starting from post 4, the 3-year-old son of Cantab Hall came away an early 3rd, before brushing to the top shortly after the quarter-pole.   From that point, he was able to maintain the advantage, winning b a length stopping the clock in 1:55.3.   Special Action (Scott Zeron) finished second, while Ralph R (And Miller) was third.   It was the 6th win out of 12 starts for the Jenny Melander trainee, all coming this season,   Driver Core Callahan and George Napolitano Jr. each had 4 wins on the card.   Live racing continues Thursday, with a first post of 12:40 PM.   Harrah's Philadelphia

East Rutherford, NJ - Saturday night's feature on the racetrack at The Meadowlands is the $20,000 "Dash For The G Notes" final but a little investigation will provide some tasty tidbits that are not on the regular harness racing menu.   The "G Note" field is comprised of horses that competed in a pair of $10,000 claimers last week with the strong (top five from each) surviving to race for the inflated purse. The oddsmaker has designated the improving Steady Pulse as the one to knock off here. Steady Pulse led all the way from post nine last week to be a handy 2 1/4 length winner for owner Nicole Dicostanzo and his trainer, the red-hot Mike Russo.   Scott Zeron had his choice of winners in this one as he also steered longshot Chilli NZ to a $77.60 upset in the other division last week and he chose Steady Pulse. John Campbell will make a nice replacement on Chilli NZ for owner Michael V Gubitoso and trainer Jenny Melander.   Also listed under "Saturday Night Specials" will be the continuing story of the Hi 5 Jackpots and Saturday brings not two but three chances to score. We offer the standard entrée of sizeable Jackpot pools at The Meadowlands which currently stand at $64,065 in race five and $29,735 in the last race.   However, as the pièce de résistance available while supplies last, Woodbine has designated Saturday's eleventh race as the mandatory pay-out vehicle for their Jackpot wager which stands at $847,458. With play on the twelve horse field assembled for the race expected to be in the $2 million range, the payoffs will be huge. This article offers more detail on the bet.   Woodbine offers a free program download for their Saturday card, so get started early on your handicapping.   Off the racetrack and on the hardwood, the NCAA college hoops Final Four will be up on the big screen in Victory Sports Bar with the Duke vs Michigan State game slated to begin at 6:09pm and the highly anticipated match-up of unbeaten Kentucky and Wisconsin up at 8:49pm. The crowd is lively and food & drink specials are available.   First post at The Meadowlands is 7:15pm.   Meadowlands Media Relations Department

The 2014 Hambletonian Monte lineup is set for the Friday evening Meadowlands finale. Ten competitive trotters and riders will face the starter for $27,500 with a 7:35 estimated off-time. Winners in 2014 under saddle include Truth In Action, Tymal Oh So Nice, O U Gus, Take My Picture and Flowing James. Here is the field in post position order: 1. Chinese Cuisine, Tina Duer/Brett Biddle 2. Truth In Action, Karen Isbell/also trainer 3. Bambino Hall, Stephanie Jacobs/Julie Miller 4. Tymal Oh So Nice, Jenny Melander/Ronald MacDonald 5. A Penny Earned, Michelle Crawford/George Ducharme 6. O U Gus, Stephanie Werder/Whitney Richards 7. Take My Picture, Therese Lindgren/Nikolas Drennan 8. Flowing James, Tara Hynes/also trainer 9.Master Pine, Helene Gregory/Julie Miller 10. Blue Boy Yankee, Kristina Smith/Randal Smith Earlier in the week the Morris, NY Fair hosted the fourth leg of the RUS NY Series. Vassar Hall (10m Striking Sahbra-Vera Hall-Conway Hall) took this test in 2:13.4h for Michelle Crawford, trainer and co-owner Brett Crawford along with Len Woydyla. Kash Now (Michelle Miller) and Striking Mystery (Jennifer Lowry) chased the winner home by Thomas H. Hicks, for Monte America

Taking full advantage of a cozy pocket trip, Wisenheimer ($8.10) found ample room up the inside to defeat Dough Dough in Saturday (July 26) evening's $14,000 Open Trot at Tioga Downs.   The five-year-old Revenue gelding achieved the early lead, but driver Jim Marohn, Jr. quickly yielded to the pocket, allowing 6-5 favorite Dough Dough (Mike Simons) to handle the pacesetting duties. While I Love New York (Bruce Clarke) advanced two-wide to force a strong :57.0 middle half, Dough Dough accelerated to maintain her advantage.   After reaching the three-quarter split in 1:24.4, Dough Dough was able to dismiss the challenge of I Love New York, but was softened up by the steady pressure. In the final hundred yards, Wisenheimer found room at the pegs to strike the front, prevailing by just over a neck in 1:53.4. Dough Dough held second, while House Money (Aaron Byron) sustained a three-wide bid off the far turn to take third.   Jenny Melander leases and trains Wisenheimer, who is now a 13-time winner.   The drive aboard Wisenheimer was one of three winners on the evening for Marohn, who again took top driving honors on the card.   Live racing returns to Tioga with an 11-race Sunday program. First post is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

The month of June arrived at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and brought with it some of the most competitive racing we've had all year long. We saw a little of everything: Standout performances, stunning long shots, drivers and trainers putting in big efforts, and much, much more. It's never easy to pick out the very best of such a crowded field, but that's what we're here to do by handing out another edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: BJ'S RAMEAU Like any other athlete, character is often most clearly revealed in a harness racing horse when adversity strikes. In the case of BJ's Rameau, that adversity came in the midst of an outstanding season as one of the top claiming pacers at Pocono, when, in his first start in the barn of trainer Matias Ruiz on May 17, he finished dead last in a field of nine despite having a lead at the top of the stretch. That rare clunker of a finish was mitigated somewhat by the fact that he started the race from the outside post, meaning that the lead he captured was extremely hard-fought. Still, the bettors were skeptical enough that in his next start, BJ's Rameau went off at a tepid 6-1. He responded with a gutty win from the pocket in 1:50:2. On Saturday night, he was the even-money favorite once again in his usual $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap group, and he delivered a bravura effort. With Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike, BJ's Rameau made the lead about 3/8 of a mile into the race and poured it on from there, beating the toughest pacers on the grounds by 5 ¾ lengths and doing so in a career-best 1:49:1, which was the fastest pacing time posted this week at Pocono. Like all the finest horses, this 5-year-old gelding bounced back from his brief bout of adversity stronger than ever. Other top pacers this week include: Morgan Shark (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who ripped off his Third Straight claiming win on Saturday night and did so in a career-best 1:50:1; Skitsofrantic (Mark MacDonald, John Barchi), who continues to tear up the lower claiming ranks, winning in 1:53:3 on Sunday night for his fourth consecutive victory; and Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), a three-year-old who won his Third Straight condition race on Sunday, this one in 1:52:4, despite the fact that he wasn't favored in any of those starts. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JOHNHANNIBALSMITH Fans of 80's television will recognize this name as being the same as the leader of the A-Team, a guy famous for saying, "I love it when a plan comes together" at the end of every episode. For the trotter of the same name, an 11-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, the plan has been pretty simple. He just goes out and beats everybody he faces. Coming into Wednesday night's $12,500 claiming trot, Johnhannibalsmith had made seven starts in 2014 and won six of them. His only loss was by a heartbreaking head to Fortissimo on April 25 at Chester, but he ripped off three more wins in a row following that defeat, two of them coming at Pocono. On Wednesday night, he upped his claiming price from $10,000 to $12,500 for a new challenge, but the race played out the same when the gelding booked to the front end. With his regular driver George Napolitano Jr. in tow, Johnhannibalsmith led all the way even though he was tested at the end of the mile. That extra effort led him to a career-best time of 1:54:3, meaning that this veteran trotter deserves another victory cigar lit in his honor, just like his television namesake liked to do. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tamasin Hall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), a mare who picked up her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:3; Bufalino Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Todd Schadel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in the week's fastest trotting time of 1:53:3, which was also his career-best; and Truth In Action (Mike Simons, Jenny Melander), who overcame an outside post position to win a claimer on Tuesday night in 1:55:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PSYCHOBABBLE The filly's maiden victory on Tuesday night with Tom Jackson in the bike was probably just as memorable for her bettors as it was for her, as she cashed in at 36-1 for a $74.40 payout on a $2 ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Joe Pavia Jr. Joe proved this week that he is still a force in the sulky when he takes on enough drives, posting back-to-back three-win nights on Saturday and Sunday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: FRED GRANT Grant pulled off a unique training double on Tuesday night, as each of his winners, trotter Psychobabble and pacer Somenicebeach, earned their maiden victories. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

Cam's Card Shark, one of the leading stallions of his generation, has just been retired from stud duty, but hopes are high in Ohio that one of his greatest progeny can carry on his dynamic legacy in the breeding shed. Shark Gesture, whose earnings in excess of $2.8 million are the most of the more than 1,700 racehorses that Cam's Card Shark sired and one of the fastest with a speed mark of 1:48.1s, will be represented by a crop of two-year-olds this season. Abby Stables in Sugarcreek, Ohio, is standing the big, dark brown stallion.  "Shark Gesture is the total package," Abby Stables' Teresa Maddox told Harness Racing Update."   Shark Gesture developed into a horse for the ages. A $110,000 yearling purchase by Norm Smiley, Shark Gesture raced from two to four, posting some impressive victories.  He was retired to the breeding shed due to an injury and stood as a stallion in Ontario for the 2008 season. Later that year, when the injury had fully healed and he trained excellently, Shark Gesture returned to the races and started three times. But it was as a six- and seven-year-old that he excelled, earning over $1.8 million. He beat some of the best aged pacers, including the likes of Foiled Again, Mister Big, Art Official, Boulder Creek, Artistic Fella, Shadow Play and Won The West 12 times, including by more than 10 lengths in the Hoosier Cup.  Maddox said because Shark Gesture disappeared from the breeding scene for three years people may be confused about his history.  "He really hasn't gotten a fair shake as a stallion," Maddox said. "If you go back and look at some of his races, he was phenomenal. He's well-mannered, he's intelligent and was a bear on the racetrack. It's just a breath of fresh air to have him in Ohio. We welcomed him with open arms." Shark Gesture can be seen in action on his page at . His web page comes complete with race footage, photos, pedigree, articles and both a downloadable and digital breeding contract.  "There is no reason because he had 44 foals that raced from his first and only crop as a stallion, standing in Ontario and bred to mostly Ontario-bred mares, that people should have forgotten about him because he went back to the races," said Smiley. "He is still a good horse.  This year he has two-year-olds that are training and I've got good reports on them. Trainer Fred Grant has a colt by Shark Gesture out of Boca Babe.  Fred owns the dam and owns a piece of the colt and said, 'he's very good-gaited, very sound, very willing and has lots of speed. I just love him.'" Trainer David Miller, currently training a two-year-old Shark Gesture filly named Hex, described her as a "big, strong, great-gaited, intelligent filly who is showing excellent speed." Another trainer, Jenny Melander, has a nice sturdy black filly named When Sharks Fly and echoed Miller's comments about Shark Gesture's offspring. "His foals are big and sturdy, with heart, speed, intelligence and strength," she said.   Shark Gesture is truly an anomaly. How many horses return to the races two years after retiring and earn almost twice as much, facing battled-hardened competitors? In total, he posted 31 sub-1:50 miles, 16 of those 1:49 or better and four of those sub-1:49. As a 2-year-old, he won the Bluegrass Stakes (recording a freshman mark of 1:51.3), the Simpson Stakes and an elimination of the Breeders Crown.  At three, he won the Breeders Crown, the Tattersalls Pace (with a sophomore speed mark of 1:49.1), the Bluegrass Stakes, the Simpson Stakes and the Progress Pace. In an abbreviated four-year-old season, he won the New Hampshire Sweepstakes. In his return to the races, he won the William R. Haughton Memorial two years in a row, the Canadian Pacing Derby Final (with a lifetime mark of 1:48.1), the Graduate Series twice, the Dan Patch Invitational Pace and the Bettor's Delight. He broke track records at Tioga Downs and Hoosier Park and tied the track record when he won the Canadian Pacing Derby. "He's won all the big races, beat all the good horses," Maddox said. "He beat Foiled Again (the top aged pacer last year) more than once. He beat Won The West. He's beat them all at one point or another. His owners believed in him so much, they told us the story (of why he retired and then returned to the races) and it was just a no-brainer for us." 2010 Graduate Final William R. Haughton Memorial Smiley recalled why he bought Shark Gesture. Even though he was big and growthy, Smiley liked him, viewing him six times. "There are certain horses you go to the auction and put a price on and you go to that price or a few bucks more," Smiley said. "With him I said I was buying him, period."  Smiley subsequently offered shares to his brother, Gerald, and Thomas and Louis Pantone. Typical of a Cam's Card Shark offspring, Shark Gesture grew into his body from two to three. He stood about 17 hands high and had a long stride. Early in Shark Gesture's two-year-old season, he won the Bluegrass in 1:51 3/5, but he was still developing and growing. As a three-year-old, he did some amazing things, none more so than winning the Breeders Crown only a week after he fell down in a mishap in his elimination race for the final. He finished third and was moved up to second, but Norm Smiley and trainer Erv Miller feared the colt might not survive the accident. Once the bike and equipment were removed, Shark Gesture stood up and walked off as if nothing had happened, although he did have some cuts and abrasions. Driver Brian Sears, Miller, Smiley and the horse's vet shook their heads in disbelief. "If that's not a tough horse, I don't know what is," Smiley said.   A week later, he won the Breeders Crown with George Brennan, who would become his principle driver, steering him in what was a clean trip, racing on or near the pace. "Nobody knew that horse like Georgie," Smiley said.  "George was tremendous with that horse from the first time he drove him." Shark Gesture raced only eight times in an abbreviated four-year-old season and was retired, his notable victory in the New Hampshire. Some of the notable offspring from the 32 starters from his first crop as a sire include stakes winner Piston Broke, 1:49.2s ($291,131) and Best Ears, 1:49.4f, ($188,483). After Shark Gesture recovered from his injury and trained solidly, Norm Smiley made the decision to bring the horse back to the races. It would prove to be a shrewd decision. In 2009 at the age of six, Shark Gesture came into his own, racing 29 times and winning seven, including the Haughton Memorial and Canadian Pacing Derby and topping all pacers with more than $900,000 in earnings. At age seven, he raced 12 times and winning seven, notably the Graduate, Bettors Delight, Dan Patch (by a whopping 10½ lengths), and repeating in the Haughton.  He finished second by a length in the Franklin. He was retired at the end of the season.  "He was just amazing," Norm Smiley said. "This horse never got the respect he deserved. He was a tremendous racehorse." By Perry Lefko, for Harness Racing Update

It was ladies night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as they hosted the Mildred Williams International Driving Series on Friday evening. Eight of harness racing’s top women drivers competed in a trot for a purse of $6000. Trainer/owner/driver Megan Fortna organized the women for the race, held at the Northeast PA track for the second consecutive year, and arranged for the winning percentage to be donated to Komen for the Cure, Northeast PA Chapter. The charity is special to Megan, whose mother, Barbara, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. Mrs. Fortna, now cancer-free, was on hand to cheer on the ladies in the race, and appeared in the Winner’s Circle trophy presentation. Natasha Day and Jailhouse Camryn, tucked into the pocked out of the gate, and battled in the stretch with the favorite, Nordic Venture, driven by Katie Miller, for the win. Northern Inferno with Lynn Fry in the bike finished third, followed by Miss Wapwallopen and Jenny Melander. Also driving in the race were Ms. Fortna; Rebecca Brewer; Monica Banca, and Linda Schadel. by Jennifer Starr for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs  

2013 leading Monte America (RUS) performers in the United States (horses, riders and trainers based on earnings) are shown below.  Congratulations to all for making the monte season memorable and for setting the stage for future years. The equine leaders were Flex The Muscle and Vassar Hall with three wins each. Ray Schnittker posted three riding wins versus two each for Michelle Crawford and Helene Gregory. Schnittker and Brett Crawford earned three training victories. Horses: Flex The Muscle led the US equine monte competitors with three wins in five starts earning $19,750. Vassar Hall recorded three wins but did not hit the top five money earnings that also included single dash winners Chinese Cuisine ($14,420), Master Pine ($9.250), A Penney Earned ($6,500) and the consistent non-winner Muscolo ($7,004). Other monte winners during the season included Andover America, Admirable Hanover, John-Michael, Motown Dream Girl, First Tail U See, Pointe Of Honour, Fort Valley As, and Sundance Bayama. Riders: Ray Schnittker earned three wins with his trainee Flex The Muscle for earnings of $19,750. Helene Gregory recorded two wins for $14,250 with the other top five money winners being Tina Duer (one win for $14,420), Jenny Melander (one win for $8,520) and Karen Isbell ($7,250 earned with one victory). Other winners included two-time dash winner Michelle Crawford and single dash winners Heather Reese, Tara Hynes, Jennifer Lowery, Ashley Eldred, Jennifer Connor, Therese Lindgren, Melinda Giroso and Mary Dolce-Conti. Trainers: Schnittker also led the trainer category in 2013 with three wins and $19,750. Brett Bittle’s charges earned $11,300 with one win followed by Julie Miller ($9,250, one win), Paul Kelley ($7.004 without a win) and George Ducharme ($6,500, one victory). Other dash winning monte trainers not in the top five money winners were Brett Crawford (3 wins) and single dash winners Henrik Lundell, Jennifer Sabot, Frank Scamporino Jr., Robert Bresnahan, Robert Lounsbury, Daryl Bier, Janice Connor, Ashley Eldred and James Doherty Jr. Our Canadian monte colleagues are listed below based on wins and all events were exhibitions without purses. Horses: Harlequin led the 2013 equine monte performers with three wins and a second in four starts. Other single dash winners were I’ll Be There, Katla, Lady Is A Pirate, Sixth Man and Speedy Desperado. Riders: Riina Rekila posted a category leading four victories in six starts steering Harlequin and Katla to wins. Evelyn Harms, Maggie Jones, Sharleen MacDonald and Emma Jayne Wilson scored one win each. Trainers: Geoff Maltby led the way with three wins in eight starts for a UTRS of .444. Maggie Jones, Doug McIntosh, Anthony Montini, Riina Rekila and Julie Walker recorded one training win each. Thanks to all participants, owners, sponsors and track operators for making 2013 a successful monte campaign and in heightening interest in racing under saddle in North America. Special thanks to USTA’s David Carr for being the diligent scorekeeper and to racetrack photographers for recording the racing action. by Thomas H. Hicks for  

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