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John Stark Jr's Xcuseme (RC Royalty) will head into next week's final of the John Mongeon Memorial Trotting Series as the big favorite. The three year old trotter cruised to his fourth consecutive harness racing victory on Wednesday's matinee card going back-to-back in the two legs of the series and staying undefeated in 2019. Xcuseme made pretty easy work of his competition as he coasted to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:58.1, the fastest time of the leg two winners. While Xcuseme was the most decisive of the leg two winners in the Mongeon Trot, he wasn't the only repeat victor. Living Proof I Am (Prayer I Am) also went back-to-back in the series' legs as he got up in the final strides on Wednesday to score in 1:58.3, matching his win time from last week which was a career best. Phil Fluet piloted the Andy Byler trainee to both of his series' scores. The other division of the second leg was won by Pumping Irony (Muscle Mass). The Eve Bergeron-trained trotter cruised to victory as the public's 1-5 betting favorite on Wednesday with Steve Genois in the sulky. A runner-up to Living Proof I Am in leg one, Pumping Irony recorded a convincing romp in 1:59 to punch her ticket to next week's final which will go for a purse of more than $30,000. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Thursday afternoon harness racing returned this week at Saratoga Casino Hotel and the thirteen race matinee was highlighted by a $9,630 event for New York sired trotters. John Stark Jr's Jeter's Way (Muscles Yankee) is in the midst of a successful sophomore season but has been feast or famine of late. The three year old recorded two wins in his last six starts heading into Thursday's feature, including a career-best 1:57 victory in July, but also made a pair of breaks in his last handful of starts. On Thursday, Jeter's Way had to come from well off the pace and wound up first over on the race's odds-on favorite All Night Credit (Shawn Gray). The leader enjoyed a tepid tempo in lap one making the task all the more daunting for Jeter who marched up in the two-path and took on the leader first-over before grinding him into submission in the final few feet of the race. Jeter's Way's victory, which came in just 2:01.2, was his fifth on the season, a sophomore campaign that included him setting a 1:57 lifetime mark at Saratoga this summer. All Night Credit wound up second-best while Trotmundo (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. Jeter's Way, who is trained and driven by John Stark Jr, paid $13.60 in the mild upset and led an exacta and triple that returned $33 and $100.50, respectively. Live racing continues on Friday night with first post time set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Kinda Naughty (Conway Hall) matched her lifetime mark in Thursday evening's co-feature at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Trained by Steve LaBelle and driven by John Stark Jr, Kinda Naughty moved aggressively to the lead in Thursday's $9,300 co-feature for New York Sired trotters and hung tough in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:58.4 to match the career best time she set last season at Yonkers Raceway. The four year old mare was dismissed at odds of 12-1 as she recorded her first victory in what was her third start of the season. Driver Jimmy Devaux was the sulky star of the day at the Spa as the veteran reinsman piloted five winners on the card including two for trainer Dave Dewhurst. Devaux scored with a trio of longshots on the afternoon as I Am Will (Yankee Skyscraper), Linda's Choice (Conway Hall) and One Chaser (Ice Chaser Won) went off at odds of 16-1, 13-1 and 11-1, respectively. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Showmeyourguns (Conway Hall) completed a sweep of the Jim Derue Memorial Trotting Series on Saturday night as the John Stark Jr. trained trotter scored another front-running victory. Shawn Gray piloted the three year old and moved him out to the early lead in the $28,200 Series Final. The race's 3-5 favorite never had an anxious moment en route to recording a career best score in 1:58.1. Timmy T (Bruce Aldrich Jr) was the runner up to Showmeyourguns while Bad Cantab (Jim Devaux) earned the show spot. Showmeyourguns, who won both legs of the series in convincing fashion, added his name to the list of previous winners of the Jim Derue Memorial Trot which includes Jelectric and last year's winner The Lindy Treaty (who was driven by Jim's son Jordan). Shawn Gray also won the evening's Open Pace as he guided invader Regulus N (Mach Three) to a career best win in 1:51.4 for trainer Tom Milici in Saturday's $19,250 pacing feature. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee that begins at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

On Monday afternoon (Sept.30) Monticello Raceway hosted four $45,000 finals of the Excelsior Series for 2-year-old pacers and trotters and arguably the most impressive was the victory turned in by Spreester when she easily defeated seven other New York bred pacing fillies by four lengths in 1:57.4. Jimmy Morrill, Jr. was in the sulky when Spreester started from the seven hole but that position was quickly compromised when they left strong and made the front before the quarter mile timer flashed :29.1. Once on the lead they remained unchallenged as the daughter of American Ideal paced through fractions of :59 and 1:28:2 before Morrill gave her her head and she paced off to an easy victory over Barbuda Babe and Jimmy Meittinis . Carlota Blue Chip was third for Joe Bongiorno. Trainer Paul Zabielski handed the lines to Jimmy Morrill, Jr. and it was the first time that Morrill sat behind the filly who had previously won seven of nine races this year. A relatively small filly Morrill said of her; “She’s like a little car, just as handy as can be.” Although Morrill was impressed with the filly her owner Kimberly Zabielski was more so after she rushed from the paddock to the winners circle with a smile from ear. While she held Spreester for the photo she said;: We bred her and we’re so proud of her .She’s our first sires stakes winner.” In spite of having the seven hole Spreester was sent off as the odds on favorite and paid $3.80 for win. In the colt division Jason Bartlett and Natural Leda were also teamed for the first time and the talented reinsman took advantage of racing luck and got Natural Leda home first in a 1:57.2 mile. After a pocket trip though past the half and around the clubhouse turn Bartlett felt his colt was ready for action. “He was good up the backside and they were working hard in front of me so I moved (to challenge) and we got alongside of Jimmy (Morrill, Jr. with Cabbies Delight) and my colt outpaced him to the wire,” Bartlett said of Natural Leda. Cabbie’s Delight held on for second and Hands Off Frank (Jordan Stratton) finished third. Owned by Deanna Frost, Rick Phillips and John Fielding, Natural Leda returned a $16.00 win payoff. John Stark, Jr. guided Royal Max to his fourth win in his last five starts when they easily captured the freshmen colt trotting division turning back Uproar and driver Chris Lems in a time of 2:01.1 by an eased-up six lengths. Dan Daley got Commissioner Daley up for the show dough Royal Max looked mighty impressive in victory and Stark was asked why he wasn’t racing in the sire stakes to which he simply said; “He got good late.” Owned by Ed Smith, Crawford Farms, Jim Giannuzzi and Dave Smith the son of RC Royalty paid $3.60 for win. The $45,000 filly final went to Ski To The Max and driver Gates Brunet in 2:02.4 over Trish (Jim Meititnis) and Brookside Lily (Aaron Byron) “She got good late and I think next year she’s sires stakes caliber,” Brunet said of Ski To The Max. Co- owned by Ted Gewertz, Debbie Brunet and Jean Brunet Ski To The Max paid $3.60 for win. John Manzi

Social Scene and driver George Brennan blistered to a 1:52.2 track record performance in their division of the $155,000 NY Sires States at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday afternoon, September 11 and in doing so their time erased the former mark of 1:52.3 set last year on August 28 by Romantic Moment and Yannick Gingras. It was perfect day for making speed with high humidity, bright sunshine and the temperature in the mid-90’s. Racing fans were offered a solid 13-racecard with three divisions in the NYSS and four $12,700 splits in the Excelsior Series, all for sophomore pacing fillies. And My Shiyen’s 1:56.1triumph for Jimmy Morrill, Jr. in an Excelsior split was the ‘slowest’ of the seven events. Incredibly, four the filly’s races went in 1:54.4 or faster. But in spite of the all speedy miles registered the day belonged to Casie Coleman-trained Social Scene when she paced through fractions of:28.3,:56.3, 1:24 and finished in 1:52.2. After Jason Bartlett and JK Black Beauty grabbed the early lead Brennan made a quarter pole move to the front and once Social Scene was on top Brennan let her ramble. She had three lengths at the half; seven lengths at the three quarters ; and finished five lengths in front of runner-up Springforth , driven by Bruce Aldrich, Jr. JK Black Beauty held on for third money. Brennan was asked in the winner’s circle why he opened up so much daylight on the field. “She’s been having throat problems and I kept her rolling and didn’t want to shut her off,” he said.” She’s a real nice filly and she went a big trip here today.” The daughter of American Ideal-On The Catwalk scored her sixth victory in 11 starts and raised her bankroll to over $160,000 for owners West Wind Stable, Steve Calhoun and Mac T. Nichol. She paid $4.10 for win. The day got underway with the series top campaigner Summertime Lea and driver Jimmy Morrill, Jr. cruising to a very easy 1:54.1 triumph in the first NYSS division . Sent off at odds of 1-9, Morrill sent Summertime Lea to the lead and they were never in doubt as Lislea-Donna Summer filly easily paced through fractions of :28.1; :57.2; 1:26.2 and finished 1-1/2 lengths ahead of Free Time with George Brennan aboard. Brussels Hanover finished third for Bruce Aldrich, Jr. “It worked out good for us today because she had an easy trip going onto the final, “Morrill said of Summertime Lea whom he figures will be at the top of her game in her $225,000 NYSS finale at Yonkers Raceway on September 28. “She wanted to go more but I tried not to let her.” Brennan, who began his illustrious career at the Mighty M, also won another NYSS split when he guided Cheyenne Miriam to a 1:54.3 victory. In that wide open event four fillies were sent off at odds of 3-1 or less with Cheyenne Miriam sent away co-favored at 2-1. She left from the four-hole and Brennan settled her in along the pylons in third position and reveled in the fast early fast speed set by Pat Lachance and Sir Lehigh Z Tam. It wasn’t until the field headed up the backside that Brennan decided to make a move and when he did Cheyenne Miriam zipped to the front and coasted home an easy two length winner over the Jason Bartlett-driven Bettor Think Twice. Third place went to Park N Orchard with Marcus Miller in the pilot’s seat. “The speed cleared. They came back to me and we just jogged, “Brennan said, about his easy journey with Cheyenne Miriam and then added, “She’s a good one.” It was the filly’s 10th win in19 starts and the victory raised her seasonal earnings to over $219,000. The Cheyenne Gang, LLC are the lessees of the daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Alibacca. She paid $6.50 for win. It took speed to win the four Excelsior Series races as well. Morrill won two, both trained by Jean Drolet. His first triumph for Drolet was with Trevor’s BeBe ($2.10), a $4000 yearling purchase at the Morrisville Sale, in 1:54.4. Co-owner Bill Siegel, on hand for the winner’s circle presentation, was asked why his filly wasn’t racing in the Sire Stakes instead of the Excelsior Series to which he replied: “We didn’t pay much for her and (we) didn’t realize that she is as good as she is. She’s really come on of late.” Morrill also scored with My Shiyen in 1:56.1for Drolet and also won an overnight race making it four wins on the card for the talented reinsman. Other Excelsior Series winners included; Know It All ($8.10) in 1:55.1 for John Stark, Jr., and Aria J ($7.00) in 1: 55.2 for Mark MacDonald by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway  

Vernon, NY – Royalty For Life and driver Brian Sears were able to rebound from their loss last week by posting an impressive 1:53.1 victory in capturing the $360,000 Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds at Vernon Downs Sunday. It was just about a cakewalk for the New York sired son of RC Royalty at his home-based track. Corky and driver Dave Miller left out of the gate as did Sears and Royalty For Life and Sear was able to take command by the opening quarter mile in :27.1. Spider Blue Chip (Ron Pierce) made a break out of the gate and was never in the hunt. Just about walking to the half mile marker in :58 and the three-quarters in 1:26, Royalty For Life had things his own way on the lead but Pine Credit has come first-over and collared the race leader with Modest Prince (Jeff Gregory) getting great second-over cover by the final turn.  But in the stretch it was all Royalty For Life, who seemingly held the field at bay and went on to win by one and one-half lengths with Corky second and Pine Credit third. It was Royalty For Life’s fifth win in nine starts this year. He is trained by George Ducharme for owner/breeder Al Ross with RWJ Campbell, Jr. and Paul Fontaine, all of New England. Royalty For Life paid $4.70 to win. “Tonight behind the gate he was a little extra quiet,” said driver Brian Sears of Royalty For Life. “He usually wants to get on the gate and take off but he was pretty docile tonight. I don’t think he was 100% tonight. He was extra docile, extra quiet tonight. But when I asked him to pick it up a little on the backside he did.” Punxsutawney and driver Corey Callahan could not take advantage of soft early fractions and gave perfect cover to Lindy’s Tru Grit and driver Tim Tetrick, who came on late in the stretch to win the $75,000 Zweig Memorial Trot consolation for three-year-old colts. Wannacmyguns and trainer/driver John Stark, Jr.  was the first to show from the starting gate and then gave way to Lindy’s Tru Grit by the opening quarter mile in :28.1. But by the half mile in :58.3 it was race favorite Punxsutawney moving first over and taking command in the backstretch. Punxsutawney led the field to the three-quarters in 1:27.2 as Crazed N Lindy and driver Ron Pierce came first over to challenge. As the field started down the stretch it looked as if Punxsutawney was well in command but no one told that to Tetrick and Lindy’s Tru Grit came after them, kept gaining ground and past them by before the wire to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.4. All Laid Out (Andrew McCarthy) closed well to be third. Sired by Cantab Hall, it was the third win this year and a lifetime mark for Lindy’s Tru Grit, who is trained by Frank Antonacci and is bred and owned by the Lindy Racing Stable of Enfield, CT with Robert Rudoph of Vineland, NJ. Sent off at odds of 5-1, Lindy’s Tru Grit paid $13.00 to win. By Steve Wolf

The Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame & Museum announces it's Annual Induction Ceremony/Open House, Tuesday June 11, 2012 at the Museum- 352 Jefferson St, Saratoga Springs, NY. The museum is located off the Jefferson St. entrance to Saratoga Casino & Raceway.

Wannacmyguns (Conway Hall) prevailed in his first start of the season for harness racing trainer-driver John Stark Jr on Wednesday night (April 17) at Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

The Battle of Saratoga #3 trotting series final was the Sunday (October 21) feature at Saratoga. Going for a harness racing purse of $39,000 was a group of young trotters and the final was a hotly contested one.

Macedonia (ohio)-based harness racing trainer Sam Schillaci scored a training double on the Wednesday (April 25) card at Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

The fleet-footed pacer Western Tsunami wired five feisty foes in 1:51.3 to capture the $10,000 featured eighth event as Vernon Downs closed out its 58th live harness racing season on Saturday night (Nov. 19).

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is proud to announce that harness racing trainer/driver John Stark Jr. and the late Gary Gibson will be inducted to their Upstate New York Harness Racing Hall of Fame representing Vernon Downs.

With no open trot to be the Friday feature this week at Saratoga Casino and Raceway, there were two divisions of the $10,000 per condition/claimer for trotters which served as harness racing co-features on a chilly night at the Spa.

Four $30,000 New York Sire States Late Closer Finals for harness racing 2 and 3-year-old pacers and trotters were featured on Monday, October 17th at Monticello Raceway and though the majority of the participating colts and fillies were of fine caliber still the day belonged to Union Man Hanover, who was far and away the cream of the crop.

Three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes Late Closers highlighted the Friday harness racing program at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Two year old pacing fillies squared off for their share of the $12,300 per division purse on a beautiful early fall night in Saratoga. The best battle of the evening came between two standout freshman fillies who took win streaks into their Friday tilt.

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