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WILKES-BARRE PA - Rockstar Angel A, coming off a wire-to-wire win at Yonkers this past Friday, came right back to win again on Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, moving to the lead in front of the stands and going on to a 1:54 triumph over a "sloppy" surface. Driver George Napolitano Jr. watched as Keystone Riptide put Betterb Chevron N behind her to the:27 quarter, then was on the move with the "Angel" to get the lead well before the :55.4 half. The winning daughter of Bettor's Delight, who kept her place in the race because of the "eligible at time of entry" rule, got a bit of a breather though going against the wind to the 1:25.1 three-quarters, then sprinted home over the off going in :28.4 (co-fastest last quarter of the night) to have a length advantage at the wire over a closing Bettor's Up, with early combatants Keystone Riptide and Betterb Chevron N another length back in third in a dead-heat. (This was the third consecutive race where there was a dead heat, the previous ones coming for second and fourth.) Rockstar Angel A notched her third victory in her last five starts after triumphing eleven times in 2018, and now has earnings of $345,122. Hunter Oakes conditions the oft-winning mare for Northfork Racing Stable. The Sportswriter mare Write Me A Song was a dominant winner for the second straight time at Pocono, taking the $17,500 co-featured distaff pace in 1:54.2 in the start following her posting the fastest clocking of the year here for mares, 1:50.1. Tyler Buter, a four-time winner on the night, employed similar strategy here as did "George Nap" in winning the feature with Rockstar Angel A: let the other duelers settle, brush to the lead in front of the grandstand, and then maintain control to the wire. Write Me A Song won by 3¼ lengths while running her career record to 13 victories in only 28 starts and $252,527; Lance Hudson conditions the sharp mare for owner William Hartt. The next card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be on Saturday night, with the 2019 debut of Captain Crunch, last year's divisional champion, in one of three divisions of a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts. First race on Saturday at Pocono will be at approximately 7:30 p.m., as soon as the festivities are finished at The Preakness.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - 2018 Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year Captain Crunch makes his 2019 harness racing debut in the middle of three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes second preliminary for the glamour division, to be held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night in races nine through eleven - and he couldn't have found a more challenging spot in which to open his season. Captain Crunch, a Captaintreacherous colt trained by Nancy Johansson for the 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, the Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms, won six of ten starts, including the Breeders Crown here at Pocono and the Governor's Cup, en route to divisional honors while winning the most money among baby colts, $616,113, and coming within a fifth of his division's world record by winning in 1:49.1 at Lexington. Prepping for 2019, Captain Crunch has qualifying wins in 1:50.1 and 1:51.2 (the latter on a "good +1" track). The draw was kind to Captain Crunch in one respect, as Scott Zeron will be guiding him from post three in the field of nine (all three divisions have nine starters). But the draw also gave Captain Crunch a real challenge, in that many of the section's top colts, at both two and three, will be lining up against him Sunday. One example would be Proof (post eight, trainer Brian Brown, driver David Miller), second behind Captain Crunch in last year's Breeders Crown, the 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, and a good second at The Meadows in the Sire Stakes' opening leg in his first start of the year; also in this cut is the horse who conquered Proof in that event in 1:50.4, Southwind Ozzi (post one, trainer Bill MacKenzie, one of four "calls" for driver Tim Tetrick). There's Lyons Night Hawk (post five, trainer Gareth Dowse, Tetrick also listed), who was just edged in 1:50.1 in a PA All-Stars event in his seasonal bow, and Prince Of Tides (post two, trainer Ross Croghan, driver Eric Carlson), 1:49.4 winner of the Wiggle It Jiggleit final at The Meadowlands. But not all of the good horses will be facing Captain Crunch. In the eleventh race third division, two Sire Stakes winners at The Meadows will attract a good deal of attention: Workin On A Mystery (post two, trainer Brian Brown, driver Tim Tetrick), who won the fastest Sires section in 1:50.1, and Love Me Some Lou, undefeated in two starts this year and a 1:50.4 Sires winner, who will have to negotiate the difficult post eight for trainer Tom Cancelliere and driver David Miller. While the ninth race first division may not have horses who have some of the paper credentials of the other two divisions, it has some nice developing horses of its own, including Major Deception (post one, trainer Tony Alagna, driver Tim Tetrick), the easiest kind of winner at Philly over sloppy going in his 2019 return; Wild Wild Western (post two, trainer Norm Parker, driver Mike Wilder), who was second to Workin On A Mystery in the fastest PaSS division at The Meadows; and 2018 PA Fairs champion Aflame Hanover (post eight, trainer Linda Schadel, driver Tony Schadel), who has shown that he can be competitive with the most select of the state's three-year-olds. There will also be four Pennsylvania Stallion Series divisions at Pocono Sunday, including first round StS winners Captain Koine, Skip To My Lou, and Under Paid, plus Captain Panko, the 2018 Stallion Series champion who will be making his 2019 debut. First post for Sunday's 14 race card is set for 7 p.m.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA – Tequila Monday was an in-charge repeat winner in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) for mare pacers Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, home in 1:52.1 over a “sloppy +1” track with the mercury hovering around 40. In the companion GNOS contest for open trotters, also worth $30,000, Guardian Angel AS was sharp in his second harness racing outing of the year, winning easily in 1:53.1, with Homicide Hunter never a major factor in his debut for both the year and for the Burke Brigade. Kissininthesand, second after going first-over against Tequila Monday in the GNOS opener last Saturday, was scratched sick here, taking a little of the drama out of the race, but the great 2018 filly champion, even with expected improvement in her second seasonal start, would have had it tough against the razor-sharp winning daughter of American Ideal. The rest of her opposition sure did. Apple Bottom Jeans got her customary flying start even from the outside post seven, with Tequila Monday and Bettor Joy N looped and pressing onward on the first turn. Tequila Monday made the lead nearing the :27 quarter; Bettor Joy N, enjoying her cover until then, went on to get the lead at the three-eighths, backing off the half to :56.1 and the three-quarters in 1:25. However, Bettor Joy N hadn’t raced since the Blue Chip Final on April 20 after her Ohio difficulty, and in the :27.1 sprint home Tequila Monday roared up the famed Pocono Pike, going by easily for a 1¼ lengthvictory. Bettor Joy N held admirably for second, with Apple Bottom Jeans clearing late and coming on for third. Tequila Monday has now won all six of her seasonal races, with earnings of $91,750 this year and $833,462 lifetime, during which she has won 23 of 50 starts. Tyler Buter, who is winning quite more than his share of feature races at Pocono in recent days, had the sulky assignment for trainer Hunter Oakes and the ownership of Northfolk Racing Stable and Chuck Pompey. In the GNOS trotting event, Guardian Angel AS, fourth from the trailing post eleven in his seasonal bow at The Meadowlands after coming from ninth at the ¾, obviously benefited from the outing (the bettors made him the favorite). He let JL Cruze speed away to take the early lead then moved outside to the :27.3 quarter and took command, hanging up middle fractions of :56.4 and 1:25.1, with La Grange A gaining first-over. Guardian Angel AS                                    --Curtis Salonick photo The victorious son of Archangel, though, had plenty left in the tank, sprinting home in :28 to be 3¾ lengths clear for driver Tim Tetrick, with La Grange A and Weslynn Dancer next in line. Homicide Hunter, unraced since winning the Breeders Crown here last October 27, had a wave of trotters leave inside of him from the outside post eight, settled in fourth, and then stayed in rather than go out for a second move after the long layoff. He was shuffled behind a tired horse in the last quarter, finishing sixth. Guardian Angel AS, meanwhile raised his lifetime bankroll to $544,780 with his 17th win in 42 lifetime trips to the gate. A winner in a Breeders Crown elim here last year (he was fourth in the final), the winner is trained by Anette Lorentzon for ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. Buter and Tetrick, GNOS winners, were the overall leading drivers of the night: Buter with four wins, Tetrick with three complementing his quartet at Philly earlier in the day, while Buter also grabbed three wins at Tioga Downs. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Pennsylvania All-Stars harness racing series began its annual run at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night, with three $30,000 divisions of sophomore pacing males in the spotlight. The first All-Stars division was taken by the heralded and well-bred Sweet Lou colt Blood Money, but only by a nose in 1:50. It was an interesting strategic "chess match" between Scott Zeron, guiding Blood Money, and George Napolitano Jr. behind Escapetothebeach: Zeron gradually guided Blood Money to the lead past a :26.4 opener, only for Napolitano to brush in front of the stands with his first-time 2019 starter to have the lead before the :55 half. Zeron didn't want to be caught in with his 1-5 shot, so he regained command before the 1:22.3 three-quarters, only to have Escapetothebeach hang right behind him, take the Pocono Pike, and only get beaten by the slightest of margins. Brassy Hanover, ducking inside fading cover on the far turn, rallied up the far inside and missed by only ¾ of a length in third. Blood Money had won his seasonal debut at The Meadowlands in 1:50; this mile was the fastest of the year by a sophomore on a 5/8-mile track, and tied Blood Money with himself as the fastest "glamour division" colt on any size track. Nancy Johansson trains the winner of $372,244 for Diamond Creek Racing. Branquinho, winless at two but a full brother to Huntsville, looks like he may flourish in his sophomore campaign - he's now undefeated in three 2019 starts, following up on a Stallion Series win last week with an All-Stars victory in 1:50.1, his fastest ever. The Somebeachsomewhere colt bypassed an enormous hole mid-first turn and went on to the lead near the :27.2 quarter; favored Lyons Night Hawk also chose to press forward and grabbed the top halfway to the next station, which was reached in :54.4. The chalk had repelled outside competition by the 1:22.4 three-quarters; Branquinho (the 9-5 second choice) would be his major challenger in the lane, and the winner responded sharply when tipped out from the two-hole by Tyler Buter, winning by ¾ of a length for owner/trainer Ray Schnittker (note: Buter and Schnittker share brown-and-gold colors). Somebeachsomewhere picked up a second sire credit when Air Force Hanover, parked a good way for the lead and not getting a breather up front, was still able to draw clear in the lane to take a new mark of 1:50.1. Air Force Hanover and George Napolitano Jr. (who drove five horses to Victory Lane on the card) were still outside past the :26.3 quarter, then ranged up to the lead in the frontstretch towards the :55.2 midway clocking. Aflame Hanover, the 2018 PA Fair champion, forced the winner to go an all-out :26.3 third quarter to keep the lead, and after the challenger started to fade past the 1:22 three-quarters, "George Nap" kept the winner's mind to business as he posted a 2¾ length victory over fast-closing Highlandbeachlover, who was hampered by a nonflowing outer tier. Brian Brown is the conditioner of the four-time career winner for Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and W. J. Donovan. Pocono's love affair with the claiming box produced a "new track record" on Saturday, as the Mach Three seven-year-old gelding Raksmach N was claimed for $40,000, a record for the mountain oval. A winner of three straight before a very hard-fought third from the outside post eight on Saturday, he leaves owner Mark Akins with a $2400 purse check and a $5000 profit on his haltering of the horse for $35,000 last week, minus the week's training fee; the horse now goes to the Oakes barn and the Northfolk Racing Stable. In all for the night, 12 claims totaled up to $304,500, running the seasonal totals to 147 claims, with $2,642,500 changing hands. Tomorrow night marks the 2019 debut of The World's Fastest Trotter, the locally-based Homicide Hunter, in a $30,000 open trot event in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS); Tequila Monday and Kissininthesand seem likely to renew their first-round GNOS rivalry in the $30,000 mares open pace.   ATTRIBUTION - PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

CHESTER PA – The stars of the day Friday at Harrah’s Philadelphia, where three-year-old trotting fillies contested their first preliminary harness racing round in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania Stallion Series, were driver Yannick Gingras, sire Cantab Hall – and a $200,000 yearling, never on the board in seven previous career starts, winning a Sire Stakes section and paying $100.80, or more than the other thirteen winners on the card combined. The longshot special was Hallintheclouds, who wasn’t a longshot on pedigree – sired by Cantab Hall, who added three Stallion Series credits, and out of the Yankee Glide mare Headintheclouds, the dam of the $870G+ winner Barn Girl. And she wasn’t a longshot in the mind of trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt, who sent her to the lead just after a :28 opener, then brought her back uncovered after two horses had passed her to the :57.2 half. Hallintheclouds went right up to favored Magical Beliefs, looked her in the eye to the 1:26.1 three-quarters, and went right on by headstretch, trotting out a 2 1/2 length winner over Firedbylindie, also used early and late, in a new mark of 1:55.4 for Åke Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Fayette AB, and Gabriella’s LLC. Gingras had four trips to the Philly winners circle Friday, including one in the Stallion Series and two in the Sire Stakes. The fastest mile among the sophomore misses was the 1:54 posted in the Sires by the Muscle Hill filly Asiago (also a $200,000 yearling, with My MVP close-up on her dam’s side). Gingras guided her to the early lead, set fractions of :27.3, :57, and 1:24.3, then coasted home four lengths to the good of Matter Of Fact for trainer Per Engblom, and the ownership of Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband, Al Libfeld, and Black Horse Racing. Another Sire Stakes winner for Gingras was the Muscle Massive miss Sonnet Grace, who made her 2019 debut a successful one. The well-bred filly (CR Kay Suzie is her granddam) set fractions of :27.4, :57, and 1:25, then held off the late rush of longshot Personal Pride (Svanstedt -- a foreshadowing of the next division?) by a nose for trainer Ron Burke and the Sonnet Grace Stable. The Possess The Will filly Millies Possesion, unraced at two, is undefeated in two career starts after setting an individual standard of 1:54.4 in the other Sires section. Dexter Dunn patiently worked up to the lead with “Millie” past a :28 opener, then put up middle splits of :57.2 and 1:25.3, after which she still had plenty to be three lengths clear of Jezzys Legacy on the wire for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms LLC. All five Stallion Series winners lowered their marks in victory. The three daughters of Cantab Hall who won were Cant Touch It, a 1:55.3 winner in her seasonal debut while a neck to the good of Swizzle Sticks for driver Scott Zeron, trainer Nancy Johansson, and the partnership of Christina Takter, John Fielding, and Stephen Gordon; Altercation, who withstood Lindy Misssunshine by a neck in 1:56.3 for driver Marcus Miller, trainer Jenny Melander, and the ownership of Melander Racing Inc. Noonan Harness Racing LLC, Clark Stables LLC, and John Devito; and Keystone Abbey, a half length winner over Giant Possession in 1:56.4 for driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Beaver, the latter co-owner with Donald Robertson, Martin Yoder, and R.B.H. Ventures Inc. The Donato Hanover filly American Kronos was sharp in her 2019 bow, winning by three lengths over Matterlei in 1:54.3, fastest of all Stallion Series divisions, and quicker than three of the four Sire Stakes cuts. Yannick Gingras drove for trainer Julie Miller and owners Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, and David Goodrow. The final Stallion Series victress was the Explosive Matter miss Spring In Paris, now five-for-six in 2019 after downing Fashion Rachel by a three length margin in 1:55.1 for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Steve LeBlanc, and Leblanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

CHESTER PA - The Explosive Matter gelding Scirocco Rob sat a pocket trip behind favored Buen Camino, then drew away from the 1-5 shot by three lengths in taking the $18,000 featured harness racing trot on Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. Buen Camino, a winner of $692,231, went right to the front around Scirocco Rob and put up fractions of :28, :56.3, and 1:24.4, with Sky Marshal applying midrace first-over pressure. That foe would tire, but Scirocco Rob was still quite fresh, and when tipped outside at headstretch he roared right by the chalk in his second start of the year, raising his earnings to $305,898. Mark Silva now handles the conditioning of the winner for owners Kathleen and Lewis Whitaker Jr. Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter made his first pari-mutuel drive since his "retirement" at the end of last season (he had guided Manchego in her qualifier last Saturday at The Meadowlands), and Jimmy got the job done with Malibu S, but he probably didn't miss the sometimes-necessary sweating out an inquiry before posing in the winners circle. The son of Muscle Hill, out of the dam of Walner, was inside two pylons early, but the judges ruled that he was there because of pressure from an outside breaker, so the result stood, and Mailbu S now has a mark of 1:58.1 for trainer Per Engblom and Crawford Farms Racing. We mentioned Manchego a few sentences back, and the former PA Sire Stakes champion makes a good bridge into noting that the trotting fillies come to Philly tomorrow to contest the first preliminary of their Sire Stakes and Stallion Series three-year-old action - four divisions of Sire Stakes races and five of Stallion Series action. There will also be a carryover of $21,824.68 into the Jackpot Hi-5 pool Friday. On Sunday, Rodeo Rock and Donttellmeagain will start side-by-side from outer slots in a very competitive open pace event in the Great Northeast Open Series.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

CHESTER PA - This Sunday promises some spectacular racing at the two tracks served by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA), with the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) staging a trio of $30,000 events, for open pacers at Harrah's Philly in the afternoon and for mare open pacers and open trotters at Mohegan Sun Pocono at night. In the open hanress racing pacing event at Philly, Rodeo Rock has been installed as a tight 7-2 favorite in a well-matched field of nine which will be the fifth race. The Robert Cleary pupil, to be driven by Andrew McCarthy, is one of only four North American horses to have earned over $200,000 already this year, the bulk of his bankroll coming when finishing second in the $664,000 Levy Final at Yonkers. Starting just to his outside will be Donttellmeagain for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick. A state favorite since winning the PA Stallion Series Championship in 2017, Donttellmeagain holds the distinction of being the last horse to win against 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked, and he comes off a 1:49 victory at The Meadowlands. The two GNOS races at Pocono will come consecutively, in slots ten and eleven. The ladies will come first, with the 1-2 finishers from last week's first GNOS group for this group, Tequila Monday and Kissininthesand, ready to bump heads again and vie for favoritism. This will be the second start of the year for Kissininthesand (post one, trainer Nancy Johansson, driver Scott Zeron), last year's three-year-old champion, and she might be just that much better with a race under her girth. But knocking off Tequila Monday (post six, trainer Chris Oakes, driver Tyler Buter) has never been an easy task throughout that mare's career, and might be even more hard to bring off this year, as Tequila Monday has started the year with five consecutive victories, and she has shown she can win on, off, or near the pace. The World's Fastest Trotter, Homicide Hunter (1:48.4 at Lexington last year), is entered in the open trotting event, and he returns to the races both for a new stable, the Burke Brigade, and off two fine qualifying wins, the latter a photo victory over 2018 sophomore champion Six Pack. One big obstacle facing Homicide Hunter and driver Yannick Gingras will be the outside starting spot in the field of eighth, but he is still the early favorite. Guardian Angel AS (post five, trainer Anette Lorentzon, driver Tim Tetrick) won a Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono last year, and in his seasonal debut last week at The Meadowlands he came from ninth at the three-quarter call to miss less than two lengths. Pappy Go Go, who has two of the four fastest North American trotting miles of the year, a pair of 1:52 wins both here and at Philly, has the advantages of post one and Pocono's top driver George Napolitano Jr. Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, in conjunction with The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia racetracks

CHESTER PA - Lazurus (the trotter, not the imported pacer) went wire-to-wire in the $12,500 trotting feature at Harrah's Philadelphia, taking advantage of misfortune suffered by favored Tony Soprano to win in 1:55.3. Tim Tetrick, second in the harness racing drivers standings both at Philly (he had five wins on Wednesday) and in North America, guided the Credit Winner gelding to the lead before the :28.2 quarter, then was able to regulate the tempo to :57.4 and 1:26.3, with horses occupying but not gaining in the two- and three-wide tiers, before sprinting clear at headstretch to stretch his lifetime bankroll to $303,656 for trainer Scott DiDomenico and the ownership of Mr. Dana Parham and the Triple D Stables Inc. Meanwhile, Tony Soprano was locked in a back room of the Bada-Bing Club, stuck third-inside behind walls of parked horses and a fading then breaking pocket horse. He finally shook clear early in the stretch and made up ground well, but came up 2¼ lengths shy of Lazurus under the wire. No single ticket solved the Jackpot Hi-5 bet today, so the carryover going into Thursday's card is $20,514.09. The PA-sired three-year-old trotting fillies are gathered at Philly Friday for the first time in 2019, with four divisions of Sire Stakes and five sections of Stallion Series action. The defending Sire Stakes champion Windy Lover and Stallion Series champion Navarone Hanover both meet in the same division, but they will have to face Magical Beliefs, a Lady Suffolk winner in her first start of the year. Other well-known names include Sonnet Grace and Fraulein Blucher, going head-to-head; Asiago, a recent Meadowlands winner in 1:53.4; and Millie's Possesion, who may not know how to spell but won her career debut in 1:56 here. On Sunday, a full field of nine has been attracted to a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series event for the open pacers - headlining will be Donttellmeagain, the last conqueror of 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked; recent 1:50.1 Philly winner Tiger Thompson N; and the evergreen Scott Rocks.   Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - His full sister Phaetosive was an impressive harness racing winner in a qualifier on Saturday, and now the Explosive Matter - Phaeton gelding Explosivebreakaway has shown he may be ready for an outstanding year in 2019, winning his first trip behind the gate in 1:56.1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Wednesday morning. The three-year-old came a pair of :28.2 quarters in the back half to close from sixth and take the triumph. Last year Explosivebreakaway posted a 5-3-2-0 record, winning his last start, a Liberty Bell stake, in 1:57.4. Trainer Erv Miller teamed with driver Atlee Bender to showcase an impressive pair of debuting three-year-olds - Code On The Beach (a Somebeachsomewhere gelding) and Cub Fan (a So Surreal gelding), both of whom crossed the wire first in 1:53.3. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Bettor's Delight mare Bettor's Up made her debut for Nick Surick a successful one, sweeping wide off cover and taking the $17,500 distaff pacing feature in the Tuesday harness racing twilight at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:51.4. Matt Kakaley guided the winner of $772,254, one of the best of her division in her filly stakes days, into second-over position, then tipped her three-wide approaching headstretch. Bettor's Up, now five, took it from there, pacing strongly through the stretch as the 2-1 favorite to defeat the longest shot on the board, Culinary Delight N, by 1¾ lengths. Trainer Surick got control of the winner after his Nick Surick Stable LLC acquired her after her last start. The sun shined bright on my old Wilkes-Barre home just before the $14,000 co-featured distaff pace after cloudiness and some rain, and the Sportswriter mare Write Me A Song wrote herself a new mark of 1:50.1 in going wire-to-wire. Driver Tyler Buter took control from the pole from the outset with Write Me A Song, hustling the winner of $243,777 through fractions of :26.2, :54.1, and 1:22.1 en route to a 2½ length victory for trainer Lance Hudson and owner William S. Hartt. There will be plenty of great racing the next two cards at Pocono, with the Pennsylvania All-Stars for three-year-old colt pacers going in three divisions on Saturday, and then $30,000 contests in the Great Northeast Open Series for open trotters and open mare pacers topping a fantastic Sunday night offering. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The best of the Pennsylvania-sired Standardbreds in the sport's glamour division - the three-year-old pacing colts - spend their second of four consecutive weekends within the confines of the Keystone State this Saturday, inaugurating the 2019 Pennsylvania All-Star harness racing Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono with three $30,000 divisions. In the eighth race first division, the Sweet Lou colt Blood Money is held as the 5-2 favorite as he begins from the middle of the nine-horse field for driver Scott Zeron. Trained last year by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, who retired in the off-season, Blood Money is now handled by his daughter, Nancy Johansson, and based on his 1:50 season debut victory at The Meadowlands on April 27, where he came from over ten lengths behind in the last half, Blood Money appears to have lost nothing in the change of conditioners. In the tenth race second division, the majority of the crowd seems likely to follow one of two horses, Lyons Night Hawk (5-2) and Branquinho (3-1). Lyons Night Hawk, another Sweet Lou colt who will start from post seven for trainer Gareth Dowse and driver Tim Tetrick, came his own last half in a blazing :53.4 while winning his 2019 debut in 1:51.3 at Philly, while the Somebeachsomewhere colt Branquinho, starting from post five for trainer Ray Schnittker and driver Tyler Buter, is two-for-two this season, and comes off a 1:50.4 victory in Stallion Series competition at The Meadows. The twelfth race third division seems the most wide-open of the three, with the Somebeachsomewhere colt Air Force Hanover accorded a slight 3-1 favoritism in the early line despite having to start from the outside post eight. Going in favor of the sophomore is a 1:51 victory last year, early speed, and driver George Napolitano Jr., the latter two of which may mesh nicely to get Air Force Hanover in good position during the contest. After having started their PA season in Sire Stakes/Stallion Series action last Saturday at The Meadows, the sophomore colts are here this Saturday and then again next Sunday in the Sire Stakes; they will then move on to Philly for Sires action during the Super Stakes Sunday on May 26 that includes three $100,000 Invitationals. The Sunday card at Pocono is a sensational gathering of talented horses, mostly on the trot. The features on the card are $30,000 divisions of the Great Northeast Open Series, one for Mares Open pacers and one for Open trotters. The Great Northeast action will be previewed in a later release, after Philly draws its Open pacers division tomorrow. But the overall quality of the Pocono Sunday card deserves an extra mention: it has 18 horses who won over $100,000 during 2018, and 17 horses who have won over $500,000 in their careers, including four millionaires. There are so many full field upper-level trots besides the Great Northeast race that afterwards it may be possible to put together a field of trotters who don't get a check Sunday, and there is a decent chance that such a field would be about as good as any trotting field to be assembled during all of 2019 at many North American ovals. ATTRIBUTION - PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

CHESTER PA - A pair of older performers who have had Breeders Crown harness racing success in the past showed they may be ready to fit in with the best of their divisions with impressive qualifying victories at Harrah's Philadelphia Tuesday morning. Shnitzledosomethin, the distinctively-named four-year-old son of Fred And Ginger, was a wire-to-wire winner for trainer Dylan Davis and driver David Miller in 1:52.4, with back fractions of :55.3 - :27.1. The winner of $597,782 first came to national prominence with a second-place finish in the Crown at two at his "home track" of Hoosier Park, and last year he won a Crown elimination and was fourth in the Crown Championship. Muscle Diamond, a seven-year-old son of Muscle Hill with a mark of 1:50.1, rebounded off a vacation of three-plus months with an engine triumph in 1:56.3, marching home in :56.4 - :28.1 for trainer Brett Bittle and driver Andrew McCarthy. Despite racing only 55 times in his first five racetrack campaigns, Muscle Diamond has amassed $785,699, a good portion of which came from Breeders Crown Championship finishes of second at two and third at three. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia   Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA – It was the Tyler Buter Show on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as the harness racing driver who recently passed the 3000 career sulky win milestone hit a “grand slam” in winning the top four races, two on both gaits. In the $17,500 featured trot, Buter got away fifth with the favored Muscle Massive gelding Two AM, but the overland journey posed little problem for the career winner of $377,210 against a front end who had been softened a bit by a contentious early duel. Two AM battled pacesetting Truemass Volo the last 5/16 of a mile, then drew away from that one to have a 3 1/4 length margin at the wire in 1:54.3, with Todd Buter the trainer for Buter Farm Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs. In the $17,000 co-featured trot, Rich And Miserable reported home first for the third time in his last four starts, the Explosive Matter gelding winning easily in 1:56.2. Buter moved the recent winner of the $73,000 SOANY series final from seventh early to first by the 3/8, then remained in control to the wire for the same team behind Two AM: trainer Todd Buter and owners Buter Farm Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs. The pacing headliners were a pair of $15,000 events, both going to Buter-driven sons of American Ideal, both Chris Oakes trainees with sparkling pedigrees making their 2019 debuts. In the first, American Mercury was a 1:53 winner despite an adventurous trip: briefly three-wide past the 3/8 on a determined move to the top nearing the half, American Mercury drew clear in the stretch to win by three lengths for the ownership of Crawford Farms Racing, Northfork Racing Stable, Chuck Pompey, and Scott Bice. This one could be anything: he’s out of Tessa Hanover; the dam is a Somebeachsomewhere out of Triplet Hanover, who produced six $100,000 winners, including Trim Hanover, who was the dam of American Jewel and Luck Be Withyou … The other eyecatching Oakes-conditioned sophomore was Shake That House, a ¾-brother to Breeders Crown winner Split The House, both out of the mare Shake That Junk. From the outside post eight Buter spotted him fifth, then moved him second-over. When he tipped three-wide midway on the far turn, the main question seemed to be the margin of victory, although to his credit JM’S Delight, who had been used three times in the mile, kept the margin to a length at the end of the 1:53.2 journey. Crawford Farms Racing and Northfork Racing Stable returned to partner with Alan Johnston behind this good-looking sophomore. Winning the featured quartet gave Tyler Buter nine wins on the weekend – three Saturday afternoon, two Saturday night, and four Sunday -- but even that total put him one behind Anthony Napolitano (four Saturday afternoon, four Saturday night, two Sunday) going into the last race of the weekend. Both were participants, but it was Anthony Napolitano in the winners circle with Tigers Too Good, making the final weekend score ANap 11, Tyler 9 – just at Pocono. Both made remarkable showings, and between them they won 59% of all the races contested over the Saturday-Sunday period.   PHHA / Pocono

CHESTER PA - Thisguyisonfire had the racing gods smiling on him today as he captured the $18,000 featured trot at Harrah's Philadelphia on "Trottin' Thursday", lowering his lifetime best by a fifth of a second to 1:54.2. First, a chief rival of Thisguyisonfire, Golden Son, was a scratch, making the possibility of a crowded front end a bit lower. Then Perseverance, who was outside battling railsitting leaver and favorite Scirocco Rob, broke stride at the 1/8, leaving Thisguyisonfire second at the :28.1 quarter, after which he was moved to the lead by driver Andrew McCarthy. Reaching the middle splits in :57.1 and 1:25.2, the victorious son of Yankee Glide was still in control, and when challenged by Rock Of Cashel in the stretch, Thisguyisonfire had enough to withstand the closer by a length. Chris Lakata trains the winner, now successful in three of his last four trips to the gate, for owner Richard Mishkin. Drivers in green and white accounted for the two $14,500 co-featured trots, with both of their charges taking lifetime records. In the faster, the Yankee Glide gelding Tight Lines, in only his second start in six months, brushed to the lead in front of the stands for trainer/driver Jeff Gregory and poured on the steam from there, drawing away from favored Filled Donut by 5¾ lengths in a 1:52.3 mile for Jeff Gregory Inc., Jesmeral Stable, and William Richardson. In the other subfeature contest, the Donato Hanover gelding Mosconi Hanover won his second consecutive outing, getting to sit just off a protracted duel between frontstepping Dream Massive and early challenger Sir John F and then catching the former by 1¾ lengths in 1:54.3 for driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Bob Baggitt Jr. and owner Christine Baggitt. Tomorrow the world's fastest two-year-old, the filly Warrawee Ubeaut (1:48.3), will start in one of two divisions of the first event of the 2019 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes season, for sophomore pacing fillies; there will also be five divisions of Stallion Series action. In addition, the Jackpot Hi-5 carryover will be just over $17,000, waiting to be taken down by clever bettors. On Saturday, the start of the Great Northeast Open Series headlines a special live Derby Day card at 12:40 p.m., with Crystal Fashion, winner of over a million dollars last year, topping the Open Trot in his first start of the year, and three-year-old divisional champion Kissin In The Sand also making her seasonal bow in the Mare Open Pace.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - A pair of pacing distaffs with North America-wide reputations - the four-year-old Caviart Ally and the three-year-old Zero Tolerance - both made their 2019 harness racing debuts at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday, and both were gallant but had to settle for second behind more experienced foes. Caviart Ally was odds-on in the $25,000 mares pacing handicap, and after being looped by Bettorhaveanother early, she worked her way to the lead near the :27.1 quarter. But driver Simon Allard and the Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N, who had won with a breathtaking stretch dash from seventh last week, were soon on the move and got to the lead well before the half, reached in :55.2, and continued in front to and past the 1:23.3 three-quarters. Caviart Ally came out with an 1/8 to go and pursued hard, but Eclipse Me N still had a :27 last quarter in her and held on by ¾ of a length in 1:50.3; Bettorhaveanother was 1¾ lengths further back in third. The victory ran Eclipse Me N's seasonal record to 5-3-1-0, and the Rene Allard trainee, owned by Allard Racing Inc. Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae, ran her lifetime earnings to $235,244. Zero Tolerance, second in the Breeders Crown and Three Diamonds last year, looked like an irresistible force at 1-5 in the $17,500 distaff subfeature, but she ran into Pocono's immovable object, driver George Napolitano Jr. David Miller let Zero Tolerance patiently work outside past the :26.4 opener to the lead in front of the stands, but "George Nap" had the Palone Ranger mare Juslikeaqueen winging frontward at that point, and that pair reached the half in :55. The "Queen" and the filly maintained 1-2 position at the 1:22.4 three-quarters, and just when it looked like Zero Tolerance was ready to go by, Napolitano got more out of the 9-1 shot and brought her home a half-length to the good in a lifetime best of 1:51. The game frontstepper, owned and trained by Antonia Storer, now has career winnings of $253,205. The victory with Juslikeaqueen was the sixth of the twilight card for George Napolitano Jr.; Simon Allard had three, and George's brother Anthony added another pair, meaning that eleven of the thirteen winners on Tuesday at Pocono were driven by someone named Napolitano or Allard. Saturday is Kentucky Derby Day, and that also means the traditional doubleheader of racing at The Downs, with first post at 11:00 a.m. for the brunch session and approximately 7:30 p.m. for the post-Derby action. The nighttime racing will be highlighted by the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace, in which Western Fame, the richest North American harness horse so far this year with $446,300 to his credit, looks to be the likely favorite. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

CHESTER PA - The 2019 Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) gets underway with quite a bang this Saturday, May 4, at the two eastern Pennsylvania tracks, Harrah's Philadelphia and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the three classes of Open trotters, Open pacers, and Mare Open pacers each drawing a fine field. The two harness racing events taking place on a special Saturday afternoon card at Philly, worth $30,000 each, are the Mares Open pace and the Open trot. The Open trotters are first on the card in race four, and the event will mark the 2019 debut of Crystal Fashion, a four-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall trained by Jim Campbell. Crystal Fashion won just shy of $1.1 million as a three-year-old last year, with high finishes in most of the major stakes in his division; he was also the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. Starting from post two in a field of seven off a pair of easy qualifying wins in 1:57.1 and 1:57, Crystal Fashion is scheduled to have the green and yellow colors of "T. Tetrick" behind him - only Saturday his driver is scheduled to be Trace Tetrick, brother of Tim, the 2017 Rising Star Award winner and the leading driver at Hoosier Park near Indianapolis. Pappy Go Go, who has a 1:52 victory of each of the two eastern PA tracks this year to give him two of the three fastest times on the trot in North America this season, will get a real test of class here as he begins from post four for driver George Napolitano Jr and trainer Andrew Harris. Ohio champion Mission Accepted opened the season undefeated in three starts since switching to the care of Ron Burke, but he'll have to solve the difficult post seven Saturday, with Andrew McCarthy scheduled to drive. In the sixth race Mares Open pace, 2018 champion sophomore filly Kissin In The Sand will make her first start of this year, starting from post two for trainer Nancy Johansson and driver Scott Zeron. The Somebeachsomewhere mare had ten wins and five seconds in fifteen seasonal outings, taking her mark of 1:47.3 at Lexington, and she was also the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. Her main foe appears to be the American Ideal mare Tequila Monday, who has ripped off four straight victories against high-quality mares to open her season for trainer Hunter Oakes. Trace Tetrick has also gained the catch-drive behind Tequila Monday as she starts from post five in the seven-horse field. The GNOS action then heads 100 miles north on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Pocono, where there will be a doubleheader of racing on Saturday, and the highlight of the evening card will be the track's traditional Derby Day feature, the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace. The Rose Memorial will count in the GNOS pointstandings, and is slotted for the evening action's race ten. The race has attracted the hottest, and the richest, performer in North America so far this year in Western Fame, starting from post seven in the field of nine for trainer Rene Allard, currently in front in a bid for his sixth Pocono training title in seven years, and driver/brother Simon. All the son of Western Ideal has done recently is post four wins and a second in five preliminaries of the Levy Series, then took the $664,000 Levy final by almost five lengths in 1:50.4 at Yonkers, boosting his 2019 earnings to $446,300 with only a third of the year gone. Filibuster Hanover, winner of the 2017 Little Brown Jug and like Western Fame a racing millionaire, had the misfortune of drawing the outside post nine for his seasonal debut, with trainer Ron Burke choosing Jim Morrill Jr. for sulky duty. Sure to draw attention as well is Highalator, starting from post two for trainer Jenny Bier and driver Richard Still; Highalator, who is 10-for-17 lifetime at the mountain oval, and Still teamed to win a leg of the Golden Receiver series at The Meadowlands in his last start. The Great Northeast Open Series races are scheduled every weekend at the two tracks until September 1, with $30,000 contests (a few "special events" carry a bigger bounty) on the sheet for all of the three divisions. When Pocono has the Open pace, it goes on Saturday evening; otherwise the GNOS contests are, with a few exceptions (like this week), slotted for Sunday, at Philly in the afternoon and at Pocono at night. The top pointwinners in the competition will vie for $100,000 in each of the three GNOS divisions, with their Championships to be held over 1¼ miles on a Monday twilight card on September 9.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia / The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Jerry Connors

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