Affective Action (Conway Hall) was an impressive first-over winner in the harness racing feature on Thursday at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The John Grasso-trained four year old got away sixth in the $9,950 eight horse trot for New York Sired highsteppers. The journey proved irrelevant as Stephane Bouchard tugged on the right line heading to the half and Affective Action cruised from there. After overcoming an early nine length deficit, Affective Action wound up scoring a five length victory in 2:00 after trotting a final half in 58.2 over a track labeled 'good'. The win was one of two on the afternoon for Bouchard. Last year's leading driver Bruce Aldrich Jr had a big day piloting four winners on the eleven race card. Live racing continues on Friday evening with a first post time set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella
On Tuesday afternoon (July 15 ) Monticello Raceway will host 3 year old trotting colts and geldings in both the New York Sire Stakes and the Excelsior Series. Two NYSS events, along with five Excelsior's, will offer over $163,000 in purse money. The NYSS events mark the third of eight legs for the sophomore trotters at various New York racetracks en route to the $225,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway on September 13. Along the way the competing colts and geldings will earn points in each leg, depending on the placements, with the top eight point recipients earning a berth in the rich finale. Although the Excelsior's outnumber the NYSS, five to two, those competing in the sire stakes events, at least at this time, are the cream of the crop and each division will go for a purse of $59,100. Two of the Division A Excelsior's go for $12,600 purses while the three Division B trotters each race for $6600. The NYSS trots will go as races eight and 12 on Tuesday's 13-race card and both fields contain quality trotters. The first $59,100 split pits Gural Hanover, an altered son of Crazed-Givemearing, against Expressive Action, a Conway Hall-Yetta's Angel colt. Both young trotters have similar credentials with each having three wins, one second and one third in five starts. And both have won on big tracks in 1:54 and a piece although Expressive Action has already earned over $167,000 while Gural Hanover's current bankroll tops $75,000. However the latter has defeated the former in the two previous NYSS events at Saratoga Raceway and at Buffalo Raceway. The odds-maker sets a 4-5 morning line odds on Gural Hanover while Expressive Action has been rated at 2-1. Gural Hanover is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E Stable and Panhellenic Stable and will start from the four- hole with Jimmy Morrill, Jr. at the controls. Meanwhile, Expressive Action, trained by John Grasso for the John Grasso Stable, Inc. will have his regular driver, Mike Simons, in the sulky when they start from post position two. Cash Me Out, with three consecutive victories-two in NYSS action-has been rated the 2-1 early line favorite in the second $59,100 division. His last, a 1:56.4 come-from-behind triumph over Expressive Action at Buffalo Raceway was a beaut. The Cash Hall-China Victory colt has four wins and three seconds in eight starts and over $88,000 in earnings. Owned by Traylor Racing, trained by Cheryl Mc Givern, Cash Me Out will start on the far outside from post six with Mickey McGivern at the lines. Flyhawk El Durado, the winner of last year's $225,000 2 year old colt and gelding final, will be the main competition in the six horse field. Trained by Mark Ford for Martin Scharf the Conway Hall-El Paso Gal colt has purses of over $77,000 and a best win time of 1:54.1 taken at Mohawk Racetrack in Canada. Mark MacDonald will be in the pilot's seat when the colt leaves from post four. The five Excelsior Stakes trots make a solid undercard on the Tuesday program. First post will be at 12:50pm. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway
Hamburg, NY-- Three-year-old colt trotters make their mark on Buffalo Raceway on Sunday in New York Sire Stakes action with 6 out of the 16 entered being nominated for the 89th Hambletonian. Currently so far this season 2 track records have fallen at the hands of New York Sire Stakes horses. This Sunday they will be going after the mark of 1:56 3/5 which has been tied once already this season by veteran Lutetium. The first of two New York Sire Stakes takes place in race two. Cash Me Out (Cash Hall-China Victory) is the 2/1 morning line favorite coming off a very nice win at Saratoga. This gelding has won $213,412 so far in his career and always looks strong and close to the pace. Cash Me Out driven by Michael Mc Givern has won three races this year and is on a streak of two straight coming to Buffalo Raceway. Expressive Action (Conway Hall-Yetta's Angel) driven by Mike Simons is the second choice in the field at morning line odds of 5/2. This three-year-old colt is coming off a very good front end trip at Saratoga and was a winner in the $215,125 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs in 1:54 1/5. Its possible trainer John Grasso could be gearing this one up for a shot at The Hambletonian in August. The rest of the field includes The Lindy Treaty (Ray Schnittker), Elegante Attire (Jeff Gregory), Daley Lovin (Dan Daley), Mister Anson (Jim Morrill Jr.), Hallanet (Jim Mahron Jr.), and High Q (Kevin Cummings). The second division picks up in the fifth race, and looks equally as difficult as the first division. Gural Hanover (Crazed-Givemearing) trained by Ron Burke is coming off an impressive NYSS victory at Saratoga from an outside post just like he has today. Jim Morrill Jr. picks up the line for the gelding who has hit the board in all 4 starts this season. Flyhawk El Durado (Conway Hal-El Paso Gal) is trained by Mark Ford and stuck on the outside this afternoon. He comes down from Mohawk Racetrack where he was a super horse in the $250,332 Goodtimes elimination and got a tough trip off some hot fractions in the Final. This colt has made over $350,000 so far and really seems to like the half mile tracks. The rest of the field includes JS Trotting Bob (Jeff Gregory), Zoey De Vie (Phil Fluet), Consumer Rate (Ray Schnittker), Karets (Ray Fisher Jr.), Rocky De Vie (Truman Gale), and Crazolo (Jim Mahron Jr.) There is also a set of $12,500 Excelsior Series "A" for the 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters and also a set of $6,600 Excelsior Series. For more information, including race replays, results upcoming promotions, and the latest news, visit www.buffaloraceway.com. By Michael Carter, for Buffalo Raceway
New York sired three-year-old trotting colts and fillies were in the harness racing spotlight at Vernon Downs Sunday competing in the $432,000 finals of the Empire Breeders Classic. The harness racing series for state-breds featured elimination divisions last week with the top nine finishers returning for the rich finals. The sixth race first final was for the fillies and they raced for a purse of $217,735. Cutup Hanover and driver Jeff Gregory left quickly from post six to take the early lead and then give way to Winning Pursuit (John MacDonald) at the opening quarter mile in :27.2. Then as the field past the half mile in :57, Glowngold and driver Jim Morrill, Jr. came first-over to challenge and following second-over was Crediama with driver Tim Tetrick. Winning Pursuit looked to be the strong horse as the past the three-quarters in 1:25.3 but once they started down the stretch it was Crediama and Tim Tetrick collaring Winning Pursuit and passing them by for a one and one-half length victory in 1:54.1. Winning Pursuit was second with Annies List (Tyler Buter) third. Crediama covered the one mile race in a lifetime best clocking of 1:54.1. “She felt super tonight,” Tim Tetrick said, “Last week was the first time I ever driven her and I really liked her. She trotted well, very nice mannered and she likes to get her job done. She did everything right today. I got a second-over trip behind Julie Miller’s horse (Glowngold) and she responded well. I kicked out the plugs and went right by them. She did everything right. She is very handy, very smart and a talented filly.” It was the second win in just three starts this year for Crediama. She is sired by Credit Winner, is trained by Trond Smedshammer and owned by the Purple Haze Stables of Fairport, NY. Crediama paid $6.90 to win. In the ninth race final for the colts with a purse of $215,125, it was the 4/5 betting favorite, Expressive Action and driver Mike Simons who waited until the field settled down by the opening quarter mile in :27.1 and then sent his colt to the front for good. There were three lead changes right after the start of the race as Wild And Crazy (Ron Pierce) left hard from post eight to get to the front. They were then passed by Cash For Gold (Michael Vanderkemp) and then they were passed by Cashamatic and driver Jim Morrill, Jr. Expressive Action then became the fourth horse to have the lead before the half mile marker in :56 and he would remain in front, past the three-quarters in 1:24.4 and no one even contemplating a first-over move against the race leader. Coming down the stretch Simons kept Expressive Action alert and they went on to win by two lengths in a lifetime best clocking of 1:54.1. Wild And Crazy closed well to be second with Hallanet (Trond Smedshammer) was third. “He has been very good this season,” Mike Simons said, “He’s just super, he’s nice and sound and he has a good head on his shoulders. As always, everyone had an interest in leaving so I kinda just let everyone sort things through. I figured Jimmy (Morill, Jr.) wanted a two-hole trip behind the best horse in the race so I took a shot and it worked out. There are no limits to his talents. His strength is in the stretch as he thrives on passing horses. He is a little weak on the front end but when going for over $200,000 you don’t want to make the wrong move. He really digs in and likes to come off cover and then he finds another gear to kick-in.” Bred, owned and trained by John Grasso of Hawthorne, NY, Expressive Action is sired by Conway Hall and is unbeaten in 2014 in three starts. He paid $3.60 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
The May 2014 Hoof Beats cover girl, Precocious Beauty, will be one of many stars to be on the track on Friday night at Vernon Downs. The Friday program includes three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, as well as eliminations for the Empire Breeders' Classic for three-year-old colts and three-year-old fillies. The stars will also be in the bikes on Friday night with Tim Tetrick, David Miller, Jim Morrill Jr., Matt Kakaley, and many others coming into Vernon to drive on the twelve-race program. Precocious Beauty makes her official return to the races for 2014 night after participating in qualifiers at Pompano Park in April and Mohawk Raceway in May. The imposing filly is owned by James Avritt Sr. of Lexington, Kentucky, trained by Gregg McNair and will be driven by Douglas McNair on Friday night. Precocious Beauty is hoping to recapture her 2013 form, which saw her win divisional honors for two-year-old female pacers at the Dan Patch Awards last season. She was a winner in seven of eleven starts last year, including a victory in the She's A Great Lady Stakes, earning purses of $446,692. She has been installed at 5-2 on the morning line in Friday's seventh race, but she appears to have plenty of competition coming her way from Blush Hanover, to be driven by Tim Tetrick. Blush Hanover has three wins in four career starts, two at Harrah's Philadelphia and has also scored a win and a second in two tries at The Meadowlands. In the other two New York Sire Stakes divisions to be run, morning-line favoritism goes to the horses on the rail. The 5-2 favorite in Race 8 is Sweetnsinful, driven by Jimmy Whittemore. Sweetnsinful is owned by Connie and Homer Hochstetler of Crete, Illinois and James Michels of Muncie, Indiana. Homer Hochstetler doubles as the trainer of Sweetnsinful. She was the winner of the Madison at Hoosier Park last October and paced a Qualifier at Vernon Downs on May 16 in 1:58.2. The favorite in Race 9 is Medusa, also listed at 5-2. Medusa is owned W.J. Donovan of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, trained by Paul Kelley and will be driven by Chris Lems, who was at the controls for all four impressive wins the filly has registered this season at Vernon Downs. The Empire Breeders' Classic eliminations also are on the docket for Friday night at Vernon Downs. There are two eliminations for each division. The 7-5 morning-line favorite for the first division of three-year-old colt trotters is Lukas Hall, runner-up in the Simpson at The Meadowlands on May 9 and runner-up in a New York Sire Stakes race at Tioga Downs on May 23. Lukas Hall is owned by former New York Jets Wide Receiver Wayne Chrebet of Colts Neck, New Jersey and Little E LLC of New York, New York. Little E LLC is owned by Vernon Downs owner, Jeff Gural. The second division of three-year-old colt trotters is led by 9-5 choice, Expressive Action, winner of a New York Sire Stakes race on May 23 at Tioga Downs. Expressive Action is owned by John Grasso Stable Inc. of Hawthorne, New York. Grasso is also the trainer, while the driver on Friday night is Mike Simons. The three-year-old fillies also have two eliminations on Friday. A winner of a New York Sire Stakes race at Vernon Downs on May 17, Lady With Credit, has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the first division. Lady With Credit earned her first career win with that Sire Stakes score in 1:55.1. She is owned by White Birch Farm of Allentown, New Jersey, and trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer. The second division also features a New York Sire Stakes winner from this season at Vernon Downs. Glowngold is 6-5 on the morning line off of a two and a quarter length win in 1:56.1 on May 17. Glowngold is owned by the Andy Miller Stable of New Jersey, S. Demeter and Blue Chip Bloodstock, both of New York, and Highland Green Farms of Florida. The Finals for the Empire Breeders' Classic races will be run as part of a special Sunday night program on June 8, which will also include the New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers. The twelve-race program will kick off at Vernon Downs on Friday night with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs
FlyHawk El Durado picked up right where he left off the in the New York Sire Stakes in taking the 1st leg at Tioga Downs. Mark MacDonald sent the 2013 NYSS 2YO Champion straight to the front for soft fractions of 29 and 58.1. The 3YO son of Conway Hall-El Paso Gal then picked up the pace by trotting a back half in 57 with a last quarter of 28.2. The Mark Ford trained Flyhawk El Durado was never really challenged and crossed the line with a comfortable 2½ length victory in 1:55.1. Lukas Hall finished 2nd while Hallanet wound up 3rd. In the 2nd division of NYSS action, John Grasso's homebred, Expressive Action was an impressive winner in a thrilling finish. Gural Hanover was sent to the front and opened an early 3 length lead with a brisk opening quarter of 27.1. Gregory then settled Gural Hanover down thru a half of 57.1, when shortly after, business picked up. Mickey McGivern's Cash Me Out the pulled from the 3-hole to get up and challenge the leader through a 3-quarters in 1:25.3, a spirited 28.2 duel. By the top of the stretch, Cash Me Out wore down Gural Hanover and stuck a nose in front, but that's when a perfectly placed Expressive Action, handled brilliantly by driver Mike Simons, eased out 3-wide from the pocket and chased down Cash Me Out right at the wire to win by a neck in 1:54.2. The win was the 1st of the year and the 2nd win in just 6 lifetime starts. Leading Tioga Downs driver Jim Marohn, Jr. steered 3 Excelsior horses to victory tonight (Crazolo, Rc Marquee and Engagedatlexington) while Jim Morrill, Jr. guided the remaining 2 (Avivas Winner and Zoey De Vie). Tioga Downs continues racing action Saturday night with 10 races at 6:15pm. For more information about racing at Tioga, please visit our website at www.tiogadowns.com. by Jason Bluhm, for Tioga Downs
The 2014 stakes season at Tioga Downs kicks off tonight (May 23), as a pair of $62,400 New York Sire Stakes races showcase top three-year-old trotting colts and geldings in the state. The first division is carded as race 3 on the nine-race card, with Martin Scharf's Flyhawk El Durado installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite. Mark MacDonald drives the son of Conway Hall, who prevailed as the two-year-old trotting champion on the New York Sire Stakes circuit last year, holding off Credit Fashion to take the winner's share of the $225,000 final at Yonkers. Wayne Chrebet and Little E, LLC's Lukas Hall also contests the first division, coming in off a runner-up performance to Trixton in the $51,543 Simpson at the Meadowlands. Jim Morrill, Jr. handles the driving duties. John Grasso's Expressive Action headlines the second division, which goes as race 6. Another son of Conway Hall, Expressive Action was a late-gaining fifth in the Valley Victory last November at the Meadowlands, ending a five-race freshman campaign against national stakes competition. Mike Simons handles the driving duties on the 5-2 morning line favorite. Ann-Mari Daley and JLRL, LLC's Daley Lovin will line up as the 3-1 second choice in the morning line, dueling with Flyhawk El Durado in last year's two-year-old NYSS final before fading late. Trainer Dan Daley handles the driving duties. Post time for the Friday nine-race card is 6:15 p.m. EDT. by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs
On Kentucky Derby day at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, we held our annual doubleheader, bookending thoroughbred's most famous race with a pair of harness racing cards for the overflow crowd. That means we had even more racing action than usual at Pocono this past week. And that, in turn, means that it was even tougher than usual choosing from among the best performances. Yet that's what we've attempted to do with this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: DANCIN YANKEE The feature event on Saturday night and of the entire week at Pocono was The Van Rose Memorial, a $50,000 invitational pace held in honor of the longtime area Sportswriter and great friend to the sport of harness racing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Van certainly would have loved Saturday night's race, considering the stellar field it contained and the outstanding performance of Dancin Yankee. Dancin Yankee, a 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn, was fresh off the rugged Levy series at Yonkers, where he finished 5th in the $567,000 final. As the 3-1 second choice in the Rose, he stayed back from a blistering early pace which produced fractions that were unsustainable even for the caliber of pacers in the race. On the back stretch, driver Brett Miller sensed his chance and sent Dancin Yankee first-over to easily take the lead. From there, he kept extending his advantage until it was just about insurmountable at the top of the stretch. Even with closers like the race favorite Dovuto Hanover attempting to rally, Dancin Yankee stayed strong and came home in front by 3 Â¼ lengths, an eye-opening margin considering the quality of the field. Even more impressive was his winning time of 1:49, a new career mark despite the fact that the track had been downgraded to good condition due to rainy weather. Other top pacers this week include: Codey Shark (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose condition victory on Saturday afternoon in 1:52:3 was his third straight; Sky Desperado (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), who switched barns but still managed his second straight $25,000 claiming win on Saturday night and matched his career-best time of 1:51:1 in the process; and Dealmaker (Ron Pierce, Joseph Poliseno), who picked up his second straight $15,000 claiming win on Wednesday night and did it in a new career-best of 1:50:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HARBOR POINT There wasn't an Open or Preferred trot on the schedule this past week at Pocono. Instead, the highest trotting purse of the week was the $21,000 up for grabs in a condition trot on Saturday night pitting non-winners of $27,500 in their last four starts against each other. As a result, the top trotters on the grounds jammed into this field, many either dropping down in class or shipping in from other tracks for the race. Yet the horse who was made the 3-5 favorite was one who was actually moving up in class. Harbor Point had faced a lower condition field in his previous start but scored in such convincing fashion in a sizzling 1:53:2 that it was impossible for the bettors to ignore him, even in such heady company. Driver Ron Pierce raced him like the best in the field, gunning him to the front end early. Pierce did an excellent job rating the speed on the front end, so that Harbor Point was plenty strong enough to hold off any late challengers. Even with the move up in class, the 5-year-old gelding from the Mark Ford barn picked up his second consecutive win in 1:54 on a good track. This trotter is on a roll and seems ready to take on all comers as long as this hot streak persists. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Frenchmen (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who picked up his second straight front-trotting win on Sunday night over the $7,500 claimers, this one coming in a new career mark of 1:56:4; Skyline Road (Jim Morrill Jr., William Mullin), who took a big step up the condition ladder on Wednesday night but still scored his second straight win, this one coming in a career-best 1:53:3; and Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), who went gate-to-wire to win Wednesday night's featured condition trot in 1:53:4. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY This pacer had been up the track in his previous two $25,000 claimers, but he reversed that trend on Saturday night with Marcus Miller in the bike at 36-1 for a $74.60 win payout on a $2 ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. George is a candidate to win this award every single week at Pocono. This week he picked up multiple wins in four out of the five racing cards that were held. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: Ron Burke Burke, as always, is in the hunt to be the top trainer in the Pocono standings, and he helped his cause on Saturday night by scoring three training victories. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
With the Breeders Crown in our rear view and November now upon us, it means that we have officially hit the home stretch of the 2013 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Before we can wrap things up, we still have a few more weeks of exciting racing action to finish. This past week there were some excellent performances even with the temperatures dropping. Here are the best of those in the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HERE WE GO AGAIN An outstanding field of nine headed to the gate in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 Preferred pace, including several horses who have been on torrid hot steaks. Here We Go Again was one of those horses. He came in off five straight in the money. The 6-year-old gelding from the barn of PJ Fraley had been particularly tough at Pocono, winning back-to-back condition paces in his previous two circuits of the track. Saturday night was his first try in the Preferred class though, which meant he would be facing the very best pacers on the grounds. Driver Eric Ledford raced him aggressively, setting nasty fractions in the chilly temperatures that seemed destined to catch up with him in the race. Come the stretch, however, he was still winging it. Things got real tight in the final strides when pocket horse Townslight Hanover, who had been tracking with an excellent trip, came firing. The two pacesetters hit the line together, but it was Here We Go Again who took the photo by a nose. He paced the mile in 1:50, giving him four wins in his last six races and an improving reputation as some of the finest pacers in the East. Other top pacers include: Easton Bound (Matt Kakaley, Chris Oakes), a fast-improving 3-year-old, who won his second straight condition pace on Friday and third in his last four overall, this one coming in a time of 1:54:1; Keystone Neptune (George Napolitano Jr., Rene Allard), who won his second straight $20,000 claimer, this one in 1:52, giving him five wins in his last eight; and A Sweet Ride (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who chalked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49:4, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAULA’S BRADY This 7-year-old gelding has been one of the most consistent lower-priced trotters at Pocono for much of the meet, and he’s been coming into his best stride of late. He scored back-to-back $10,000 claiming victories in come-from-behind fashion to start off the month of October. In his last race, he started a bit slow, finishing third as an even-money favorite. He was back at it again on Tuesday night in the same class trying to avenge his loss, this time with Anthony Napolitano in the bike for trainer Scott Osterhout. Paula’s Brady nearly got boxed in on the inside behind the leaders, but Napolitano found him some room behind cover on the outside before the gap closed. He followed that cover until the stretch. It was an exciting three-way battle for the win in the closing moments. At times Paula’s Brady seemed like he was going to come up just a bit short. But Napolitano coaxed just enough out of him as the line approached for a razor-thin victory in 1:56. That gives him three wins in his last four races, quite the hot stretch for this veteran trotter as the season winds down. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), whose condition victory on Friday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:53:4; Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who captured a tough condition trot on Saturday night in 1:55; and Southwind Warsaw (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), who scored a victory in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:54:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TAYLOR C Despite going off at 31-1, this claiming pacer with Anthony Napolitano in the bike made a couple of speed moves on Friday night and came up a winner for a $65.20 win payout. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC LEDFORD Ledford doesn’t stop in at Pocono very often, but he might want to be a more frequent visitor after picking up three victories for trainer PJ Fraley on Saturday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PAUL HOLZMAN Another solid performer from the deep Pocono training community, Holzman had a good week with single wins on Friday and Tuesday. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Bevigila for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
It’s the Breeders Crown. John Grasso is a breeder. The 60-year-old was born into the business and has kept himself connected to the sport for nearly his entire life. On Friday his Expressive Action, a two-year-old with just two lifetime starts, will tackle the big boys in a single $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for two-year-old trotters at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The colt starts from post two with the services of driver Ron Pierce. With two colts accepting byes, the first seven finishers will advance to the $500,000 2-Year-Old Colt Trot final on Oct. 19. Grasso, who is likely the elder statesman of the few remaining horsemen to stable at Yonkers Raceway, believes that Expressive Action may be the best horse he’s ever had. “Before we ever baby raced him I trained him a mile at Yonkers in two minutes flat,” said Grasso, speaking volumes about the potential of this homebred by Conway Hall from Yettas Angel. The dam is a daughter of Credit Winner, a half-sister to Grasso’s top three-year-old from a few years back named Approved Action. “She was a big mare,” recalled Grasso of Yettas Angel. “She took a record as a four-year-old and then we crossed her with Conway Hall.” The first foal from that pairing was Explosive Action. Grasso thought he had a good one until the colt hurt a knee. Explosive Action is racing this year as a three-year-old but far from the level expected of him. As for Expressive Action, Grasso had extremely high hopes for him and staked him accordingly. “We had him eligible to the Peter Haughton,” Grasso lamented, reflecting on the bad luck he’s had, which started in June after the colt scored consecutive victories in baby races with Brian Sears in the bike. “He trotted home in: 27 and change and showed really high speed,” said Grasso. However, days later Grasso found Expressive Action cast in his stall. In the colt’s attempt to right himself he had twisted his shoes and got some nails jammed in his feet. He also banged a knee, an injury that proved minor. “We had to deal with Mother Nature,” said Grasso about the recovery time. “His foot needed to grow out and we had to wait.” As part of the healing process Grasso sent Expressive Action to Golden Shoe Farms in Bullville, New York, a facility with an exercise pool that he felt would help with the horse’s conditioning while not having an impact on his feet. “After a session in the pool they turned him out and they couldn’t catch him,” recalled Grasso. That episode was another disaster, with Expressive Action again doing damage to his still recovering hooves. Nearly three months later Expressive Action got back on the comeback trail but much of the stakes racing was over. The New York-sired colt still had some starts left in the Empire State’s Sire Stakes program and Grasso had hoped to get him qualified for a race at Saratoga. “We had to have the horse entered on a Friday. Normally I would have qualified him at Yonkers since they have qualifiers on Fridays but since Yonkers qualifiers were held at night I had to ship him to Freehold to get a line on him,” Grasso said. Unfortunately Expressive Action made a break in that qualifier and was not eligible for the Sire Stakes event. Instead a week later Brian Sears got behind Expressive Action in a qualifier at Yonkers and the colt did what was necessary to be eligible to race in his first pari-mutuel start on September 20. The $113,744 New York Sire Stakes at Yonkers was the first indication to the betting public of Expressive Action’s talent. The colt rallied tenaciously in the stretch after sitting well off a dawdling pace and was lapped on the winner Cash Me Out in a 1:59 3/5 mile. With just one start Expressive Action could not qualify for the Night Of Champions and instead earned a consolation prize when he captured the $50,000 Fall Harvest at Yonkers last Saturday in 1:59 2/5. The mile was all the inspiration Grasso needed to take a shot against the big boys. “I wish we had more starts in him,” said Grasso, “but I’m looking at this like March Madness. If he races well in the eliminations and hopefully the final we’ll continue to race him as he has a few more starts. If not we’ll put him away and get him ready for next year. Grasso has obviously watched Father Patrick (post nine) race, the favorite to capture not just Friday’s Crown elimination but perhaps the final as well. “He’s an impressive colt,” he said. At the same time he believes that with a little experience Expressive Action may prove that he belongs in this company. Perhaps 2013 will not give Grasso and his family its first Breeders Crown triumph. But that’s not likely to deter anyone. “We breed two to three mares every year. We get two to three foals and have two to three yearlings to train,” Grasso said. In the Breeders Crown you don’t have to be big to show up, you just have to bring quality. Even from a limited production line it appears as if John Grasso could have the real thing in Expressive Action. by Jay Berman for the Breeders Crown
Bee A Magician, Captaintreacherous and I Luv The Nitelife, who have combined to win 35 of 37 races and $3.67 million this year, lead the list of 156 horses entered Tuesday for the 12 Breeders Crown events at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Eliminations are unnecessary for the 3-year-old filly pacers and Open Trot, which both received nine entries. Eliminations for 2-year-old male and female trotters plus 2-year-old female pacers are Friday at Pocono Downs, with the remaining elims Saturday. Post time is 6:30 p.m. both nights. All 12 finals - with purses totaling $5.6 million - will be Saturday, Oct. 19, at Pocono Downs. Post time is 5 p.m. for the first race. Bee A Magician, a 3-year-old filly trotter, is 13-for-13 this year for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. She enters the Breeders Crown off a win in the Ontario Sire Stakes championship Sept. 28 at Mohawk, which pushed her seasonal earnings to $1.09 million. Other victories this season include the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $356,981 Elegantimage Stakes. A daughter of the stallion Kadabra out of the mare Beehive, Bee A Magician is the fastest 3-year-old trotter this season, with a clocking of 1:51 that came in winning the $265,500 Delvin Miller Memorial on July 13 at the Meadowlands. The time is the fastest ever for a 3-year-old filly trotter. Bee A Magician has won 23 of 26 lifetime starts and earned $1.86 million - the most ever for a filly trotter at ages 2 and 3 combined. She finished third in last season's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly trotters, which was won by To Dream On. Bee A Magician is the second of two eliminations for the 3-year-old filly trotters, starting from post three. To Dream On, who on Sunday won the $205,100 Kentucky Filly Futurity final, is in the second of the two eliminations. To Dream On is one of 12 previous Breeders Crown champions entered in this year's event. Three-year-old colt pacer Captaintreacherous is a nose from perfect this year, with 10 wins in 11 starts and $1.61 million. He is trained by Tony Alagna for the Captaintreacherous Racing ownership group. He heads to the Breeders Crown following his victory Saturday in a $215,500 division of the Tattersalls Pace at The Red Mile. Other wins this year for the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Worldly Treasure include the $980,000 North America Cup, the $635,750 Meadowlands Pace, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial and the $360,211 Cane Pace. His only loss came by a nose to Sunshine Beach in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine in a world-record 1:47.4 mile. Captaintreacherous has won 18 of 21 career races and earned $2.53 million. He finished third in last season's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers. He is in the second of two eliminations for the 3-year-old male pacers and will leave from post four. I Luv The Nitelife, a 3-year-old filly pacer, has won 12 of 13 races this year and earned $968,337 for trainer Chris Ryder and owners Richard and Joanne Young. A daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Lisjune, she most recently won the $154,650 Jugette final at the Delaware County Fair on Sept. 18 for her 11th consecutive victory. Other triumphs include the $384,044 Fan Hanover Stakes, the $350,000 Valley Forge and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial. For her career, she has won 16 of 23 starts and $1.65 million. She finished second in last season's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly pacers, which was won by Somwherovrarainbow. Eliminations are unnecessary for the 3-year-old filly pacers, so the final was drawn Tuesday. I Luv The Nitelife will start from post seven; Somwherovrarainbow leaves from post eight. Shebestingin, who on Sunday paced the fastest mile in history by a female pacer when she won a division of the Glen Garnsey Memorial in 1:47, drew post five. The Open Trot, Mare Trot and Mare Pace each have three past Breeders Crown winners. Arch Madness, who makes his record-tying sixth Breeders Crown appearance, Intimidate and Uncle Peter all are previous trophy winners competing in this year's Open Trot. Arch Madness became the ninth trotter in history to surpass $4 million in career earnings when he won the Allerage Farms Open Trot on Sunday at The Red Mile. In the Mare Trot, Cedar Dove, Check Me Out and Maven have won titles, as have Mare Pace contenders Anndrovette, Economy Terror and Monkey On My Wheel. Anndrovette is seeking her third consecutive Breeders Crown, a feat never accomplished in any of the open divisions. Sweet Lou, in the Open Pace, completes the list of previous Breeders Crown champions. The Open Pace also includes Foiled Again, who is the richest pacer in harness racing history, with $5.38 million. Following are the fields with listed drivers and trainers. Elimination purses are $25,000. FRIDAY ELIMINATIONS 2-year-old filly trotters (top four in each elim and fifth place with highest seasonal earnings advance) Division One: 1. Struck By Lindy, David Miller, Nifty Norman; 2. Goddess, John Campbell, Paul Kelley; 3. Designed To Be, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 4. Shake It Cerry, Ron Pierce, Jimmy Takter; 5. Lifetime Pursuit, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 6. Cantabs Fortune, Rick Zeron, Rick Zeron; 7. Market Rally, John Cummings Jr., Megan Wilson. Division Two: 1. Cooler Schooner, John Campbell, Jim Campbell; 2. Scream And Shout, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 3. Harley Momma, Howard Parker, Jim Raymer; 4. Vanity Matters, Yannick Gingras, Jonas Czernyson; 5. Noon Tea Party, Brian Sears, Paul Fusco; 6. Demanding Sam, Paul Macdonell, Scott McEneny; 7. Ruby, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller. 2-year-old filly pacers (top four in each elim and fifth place with highest seasonal earnings advance) Division One: She's Da Bomb, Jody Jamieson, Tony O'Sullivan; 2. Rain Cloud Hanover, Brian Sears, David Taff; 3. Put On A Display, Tim Tetrick, Chris Ryder; 4. Gallie Bythe Beach, John Campbell, Jim Campbell; 5. Bettor Business, Tim Tetrick, Scott DiDomenico; 6. Southwind Silence, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 7. Ali Blue, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 8. Beach Body, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes. Division Two: 1. Precocious Beauty, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair; 2. JK Molly, Tim Tetrick, Ron Burke; 3. Act Now, Ron Pierce, Nikolas Drennan; 4. Quick Thrill, Jim Morrill Jr., Brewer Adams; 5. Allstar Rating, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 6. Rockingcam Park, Brian Sears, Ron Coyne Jr.; 7. Scandalicious, Andy Miller, Scott DiDomenico; 8. Uffizi Hanover, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 9. Delightful Dragon, Mike Lachance, Noel Daley. 2-year-old male trotters (top seven advance) 1. Southwind Spirit, Brian Sears, Ron Burke; 2. Expressive Action, Brian Sears, John Grasso; 3. Exodus Hanover, Andy Miller, Steve Elliott; 4. Another Transcript, Corey Callahan, Jerry Silverman; 5. Odds On Amethyst, Tim Tetrick, Robin Schadt; 6. Auspicious Hanover, Charlie Norris, Charlie Norris; 7. Muscle Network, Jody Jamieson, Tony O'Sullivan; 8. Nuncio, John Campbell, Jim Oscarsson; 9. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter. Byes: Credit Fashion, Don Dorado. SATURDAY ELIMINATIONS 2-year-old male pacers (top three finishers from each elimination advance) Division One: 1. Workandplayhard, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 2. Journeyman, Mike Lachance, Tony Alagna; 3. Let's Drink On It, Ron Pierce, Joe Seekman; 4. So Surreal, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 5. Idealbeach Hanover, Jody Jamieson, Mark Ford; 6. Somestarsomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 7. Sometimes Said, John Campbell, Jim Campbell. Division Two: 1. Beat The Drum, TBA, Staffan Lind; 2. Doo Wop Hanover, Ron Pierce, Steve Elliott; 3. Bakersfield, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 4. Melmerby Beach, Paul Macdonell, Brent MacGrath; 5. Crafty Master, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair; 6. Carracci Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 7. Western Vintage, Yannick Gingras, Nancy Johansson; 8. Some Major Beach, Brian Sears, Tony Alagna. Division Three: 1. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes; 2. Smack Talk, Ron Pierce, John Williamson; 3. Three Of Clubs, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair; 4. Fort Knox, Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna; 5. Pierce, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 6. Ari Allstar, Brian Sears, Mark Ford; 7. Stevensville, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker; 8. Arthur Blue Chip, Randy Waples, Ian Moore. 3-year-old filly trotters (top four in each elim and fifth place with highest seasonal earnings advance) Division One: 1. Royal Assets, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker; 2. Bouncing Bax, Howard Parker, Jim Raymer; 3. Coffeecake Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4. Thistle Dhu, Brett Miller, Del S. Miller; 5. To Dream On, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 6. Frau Blucher, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes. Division Two: 1. Southwind Cocoa, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano; 2. Shared Past, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, Nifty Norman; 4. Ma Chere Hall, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson; 5. Time To Kill, John Campbell, Ross Croghan; 6. Handover Belle, Mike Lachance, Tony Alagna. Mare trotters (top four in each elim and fifth place with highest seasonal earnings advance) Division One: 1. Bax Of Life, John Campbell, Jerry Duford; 2. Unefoisdansmavie, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3. Mystical Starlight, Brett Miller, Ross Croghan; 4. D'Orsay, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson; 5. Cowgirl Hall, Brian Sears, Deborah Brunet; 6. Cedar Dove, Ron Pierce, Noel Daley; 7. China Pearls, Paul Macdonell, David Drew. Division Two: 1. Real Babe, David Miller, Mark Harder; 2. Maven, Yannick Gingras, Jonas Czernyson; 3. Check Me Out, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 4. Intense America, Mike Lachance, Susanne Kerwood; 5. Win Missy B, TBA, Rich Gillock; 6. Beatgoeson Hanover, David Miller, Nifty Norman. 3-year-old male pacers (top four in each elim and fifth place with highest seasonal earnings advance) Division One: 1. Lucan Hanover, David Miller, Casie Coleman; 2. Sunshine Beach, John Campbell, Mark Steacy; 3. Wake Up Peter, Rick Zeron, Tony Alagna; 4. Fool Me Once, Brian Sears, Mark Austin; 5. Apprentice Hanover, Jody Jamieson, Ben Wallace; 6. Captive Audience, Randy Waples, Colin Johnson. Division Two: 1. Vegas Vacation, Brian Sears, Casie Coleman; 2. Urbanite Hanover, Yannick Gingras, John Williamson; 3. Emeritus Maximus, TBA, Tony Alagna; 4. Captaintreacherous, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna; 5. Sunfire Blue Chip, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 6. Beach Memories, David Miller, Brian Brown. 3-year-old male trotters (top four in each elim and fifth place with highest seasonal earnings advance) Division One: 1. Bluto, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 2. Dewycolorintheline, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker; 3. Fico, Corey Callahan, Staffan Lind; 4. Deadliest Catch, Ron Pierce, John Duer; 5. Smilin Eli, Tim Tetrick, David Smith; 6. All Laid Out, David Miller, Noel Daley; 7. Possessed Fashion, John Campbell, Tom Fanning. Division Two: 1. Caveat Emptor, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker; 2. Royalty For Life, Brian Sears, George Ducharme; 3. Hamdalla, Jody Jamieson, Riina Rekila; 4. E L Rocket, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5. Spider Blue Chip, Ron Pierce, Chuck Sylvester; 6. Aperfectyankee, Jim Oscarsson, Jim Oscarsson; 7. Creatine, Mike Lachance, Bob Stewart. Open Pace (top seven advance) 1. Warrawee Needy, Jody Jamieson, Mark Ford; 2. A Rocknroll Dance, Tim Tetrick, Jim Mulinix; 3. Bettor's Edge, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano; 4. Modern Legend, John Campbell, David Drew; 5. Sweet Lou, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 6. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 7. Golden Receiver, Corey Callahan, Mark Harder; 8. Michael's Power, Brian Sears, Casie Coleman; 9. Bolt The Duer, Mark MacDonald, Pete Foley. Byes: Clear Vision, Pet Rock. Mare Pace (top seven advance) 1. Economy Terror, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes; 2. Rocklamation, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3. Swinging Beauty, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke; 4. Ooh Bad Shark, Howard Parker, William Wiggins; 5. Anndrovette, Tim Tetrick, P.J. Fraley; 6. Monkey On My Wheel, Brian Sears, Casie Coleman; 7. Krispy Apple, Tim Tetrick, P.J. Fraley; 8. Camille, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 9. Shelliscape, David Miller, P.J. Fraley. Byes: Drop The Ball, Feeling You. FINALS, ON OCT. 19 (no eliminations necessary) $500,000 3-year-old filly pace: 1. Parlee Beach, 2. Mattie Terror Girl, 3. Carols Desire, 4. Authorize, 5. Shebestingin, 6. Aunt Caroline, 7. I Luv The Nitelife, 8. Somwherovrarainbow, 9. Love Canal. $600,000 Open Trot: 1. Market Share, 2. Wishing Stone, 3. My MVP, 4. Guccio, 5. Intimidate, 6. Mister Herbie, 7. Arch Madness, 8. Uncle Peter, 9. Sevruga. by Ken Weingartner for HRC
Yonkers Raceway's pair of Friday night harness racing $35,000 co-featured Open Handicaps--for trotters along with prim and proper pacers--were won by Affirmed Action (Jason Bartlett, $19.80) and Warrawee Koine (Bartlett again, $12).
Twenty-nine three-year-old pacing fillies travelled to Woodbine Racetrack Monday evening (December 19) to compete in a trio of $25,000 Niagara Stakes harness racing eliminations with veteran driver Rick Zeron guiding two of the fillies to victory.
As October rolls to a close, it's impossible to avoid the fact that the 2011 harness racing season is really winding down at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. With just a few weeks of racing left, the action hasn't slowed down one bit, as evidenced by some of the stellar efforts we witnessed the past few programs. Here is just a taste in the Weekly Awards.
John Grasso always believed Affirmed Action was talented. It took a while for the trotter to get the chance to prove it, but he is making believers of others now as well. Affirmed Action, the winner of all three of his starts this year, is the 9-5 morning line favorite in his delayed second-round division of the Horse & Groom harness racing series Thursday (March 17) at Meadowlands Racetrack.