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WILKES-BARRE PA - The Lis Mara gelding Ontario Success had quite the adventuresome trip going from last at the quarter to first at the finish in the $20,000 pacing feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday night, but he got the job done nicely for harness racing driver Anthony Napolitano in 1:51.2 with the temperature in the cool mid-50s. Ontario Success did not leave, but the two primary quick starters, Milliondollarwave and Maxdaddy Blue Chip, hooked wheels coming out of the first turn, with several of the horses directly in behind them having their chances severely compromised in the ensuing melee. Napolitano had to go wide in front of the stands to avoid major trouble, but indeed would suffer relatively minor difficulty and went up to third going to the second turn. Off that bend Ontario Success started a first-over journey, wore down El Bloombito, who had emerged with the lead after the early trouble, then held off the second-over Bruce's Magic by a length. Ron Burke trains the winner of $425,430 for his family's Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Pocono will race as usual Sunday night at 7:30, and then on Monday it switches over to that day's post time at the mountain oval for the rest of the year, 4:30 p.m. The Labor Day Monday card is a great one - the $1.2M+ Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for two-year-olds, featuring the undefeated trotting filly Manchego and other stars of the future. PHHA / Pocono

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Harness racing driver Yannick Gingras rushed Ontario Success to the lead at the quarter in a pulse-pounding :26.4 and then was permitted to tap the brakes for the middle half-mile, which proved to be the difference as the pair took the Saturday night feature at the Meadowlands, a $17,500 conditioned pace. Ontario Success, a 7-year-old gelded son of Lis Mara, was permitted to sleepwalk to the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:25. Off a middle half that was timed in :58.1, the lifetime earner of $386,613 then sprinted home in a quarter identical to his opening split to win by a diminishing neck over the fast-closing 6-5 favorite Bettor's Edge in 1:51.4 for trainer Ron Burke, upping his lifetime stats to 30 wins from 103 starts. As the second choice in the wagering, Ontario Success returned $5.00 to win. J J Flynn was third. BOMBS AWAY: Longshots ruled in the first three legs of the Pick 5 (Races 1-5), setting up a big payday for one lucky bettor. One Tough Nut ($34.60), Jaye's A Lady ($63.00) and Stitch In Time ($27.60) took the first three races on the card, so even after favorites Sams Triple Crown ($3.80) and Cherokee Ranger ($4.00) completed the quintet, the payout for the winning combination of 5-4-2-8-3 was a whopping $28,411.20. CHALKY COREY: Driver Corey Callahan led the driver colony with four winners on the card, each was the pubic choice. ... All-source wagering on the program totaled $2,310,037. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. Ontario Success By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

Exciting former Kiwi Van Mara (Lis Mara-Van Seraa) can overcome his extreme draw at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night, says harness racing trainer Andy Gath. Speaking with Nadia Horne on RSN Friday morning, Gath spoke glowingly of his four-year-old, who is two-for-two since joining the Kate and Andy team. “He had really good form in New Zealand. It tapered off a little bit before he came over to us but he’s a horse we have a pretty big opinion of,” Gath said. Van Mara, to be driven by Andy's wife, Kate, starts from outside the second row in the DNR Logistics Pace Final (Race 2) at 5.55pm. “He can do it tough if he has to,” Gath said. “And he’s got good speed, even if he’s back in the field. He’s a horse that we think is going to develop into a pretty nice horse. He’ll be fighting out the finish.” Gath has always had an eye on Van Mara and always expressed interest in purchasing the gelding. “Finally he came down to a price I was comfortable at and I was fortunate enough to be able to get him in the stable,” the Long Forest horseman said. GET THE INSIDE WORD FROM ANDY GATH Meanwhile, TAB.com.au has a projected Quaddie pool of $125,000 ($20,000) jackpot tomorrow night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Sign up to receive your GoodForm Game Plan delivered hot off the press daily from our dedicated team of form analysts.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

DOVER, Del.--- Singing Saint, driven by Tony Morgan, came from off the pace to record a 1:53.1 victory to win the Monday, Feb. 13 $9,000 Male pace at Dover Downs. Harness racing driver Montrell Teague drove four winners, three for trainer Clyde Francis and two for owner George Teague. Morgan moved the Lis Mara-Celestial gelding three wide on the final turn to quickly join the leaders turning for home. In the lane, Singing Saint fended off Go Collect N (Corey Callahan) in a stretch duel to register his first win of 2017, after two seconds and a third, for owner-trainer Bob Stevenson. Rock N Roll Jet (Bret Brittingham) picked up third place in the nine-horse field. Singing Saint won for the 21st time in his career while annexing a $142,382 bankroll. In the sub-feature, Vic Kirby and Shellysblockbuster won the dash-to-the-wire beating Casey At Bat (Allan Davis) in 1:52.2. It was the second win of the season for the Bettor's Delight-Lover's talk veteran gelding owner by Don Reed and trainer George Wagner. Western Young Gun (Jonathan Roberts) finished third. Shellysblockbuster won for the 26th time in his career while earning $226,510 lifetime. Montrell Teague led all drivers with four winners. Vic Kirby had three wins; Jonathan Roberts, trainer Clyde Francis haltered three wins while owner George Teague had two winners. SHARP SWEET BOBBIE SEEKS REPEAT IN $20,000 MARES OPEN Sweet Bobbie, never farther back than third in her last eight races, returns this week to the $20,000 Mares Open Handicap, facing KJ’s Caroline, who steps up after a win last week, among seven starters in the Tuesday, Feb.14 Valentine’s day feature at Dover Downs. Post time is 4:30 p.m. Enhance Your Mind, with Vic Kirby driving for owner-trainer Bryan Truitt had been burdened by outside posts recently after winning four-races in a row heads the opposition. Nat A Virgin, piloted by Corey Callahan, moves from an outside post to the rail this time, for owners J&T Silva and Robert Cooper Stable. Another solid contender, Rich Pollucci’s Mischief Maker N with Ross Wolfenden finished a close-up second last week for the second straight time. Scott Woogen’s KJ’s Caroline and Yannick Gingras leaves from post 2 with Dave Banks and Layfield Horses’ Sayulita, handled by Allan Davis, and Killean Finale with Jonathan Roberts driving for trainer Josh Parker and Nanticoke Racing completing the competitive lineup. After Frank Carzone, Bob Sabatini, trainer Ed Gannon and driver Yannick Gingras’ Vintage Babe’s six-race win streak was snapped two weeks ago, the four-year-old returned to the winners circle last Tuesday. Now, she takes on eight rivals in the $15,500 Mares 4&5-Year-Old pace. She tangles with the red-hot Dismissal (Montrell Teague), from the rail, who has front-paced to three consecutive wins for CTC Stable in a nine-horse secondary feature female pace. An  excellent all-female pacing undercard is on the Tuesday program.  Monday through Thursday live racing begins at 4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are ‘dark days’ at the track. Fine food is available while watching the races at the acclaimed Winner's Circle Restaurant Buffet. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad  

Promising three-year-old Messi, surprisingly beaten for the first time in a seven-start career when second to Starlight Brigade at Albany last Saturday night, gets his chance to make amends and return to the harness racing winning list when he contests the $18,000 Grace Smedley Pace over 1730m, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, the New Zealand-bred Lis Mara gelding carried all before him and was touted as a leading prospect for the WA Derby this year when he won in good style at his first six starts in a race (two as a two-year-old and four this season). He was favourite at 7/4 on when he started from the back line last Saturday night at his outing for two months. He raced in seventh position in the first lap before Ryan Warwick sent him forward, three wide, to move into the breeze outside the pacemaker Starlight Brigade. Messi got to the front, by a neck, at the 1200m mark, but was unable to cross to the front. He fought on gamely, but wilted in the closing stages to finish more than three lengths behind Starlight Brigade. He is sure to be improved by his first-up effort. However, he will need to be close to his top against some smart three-year-olds, including the only filly in the race, the Mike Reed-trained Beach Goddess, who will be driven by Colin Brown from the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line. Beach Goddess won four times from eight starts as a two-year-old and she reappeared after an absence of seven and a half months in a 2130m event last Friday night in which she started out wide at barrier seven. She raced on the pegs in fifth position before fighting on to finish fourth behind stablemate Maczaffair. She is a smart frontrunner and Brown is likely to attempt an all-the-way win. The David Thompson-trained Allmightyjoelouis has resumed after a spell in fine style and demands plenty of respect. He will start from barrier six and looks set to fight out the finish. Allthemightyjoelouis will be handled by Gary Hall jun., who has excellent winning prospects with Soho Chelsea, Ideal Alice and American Boy. Ken Casellas

DOVER. Del.--- Mel Mara led off the 2016-17 harness racing meet at Dover Downs recording a 1:49.1 triumph in the $30,000 Preferred Open Handicap. Drivers Art Stafford Jr., Bret Brittingham, trainer Eric Ell and owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta made the winner's circle three times each to highlight the opener of its 48th season on Monday, Oct. 31. Corey Callahan and Dylan Davis, the meet's defending leading driver and trainer combined as Mel Mara led from early and never looked back posting his seventh win of the season for owners Robert Cooper and J&T Silva stables finishing his mile with a :26.4 final panel. The victory lifted the Lis Mara-ML Revrac horse to $233,540 earnings this season and $$691,464 lifetime. Dancin Yankee and Tim Tetrick raced second throughout with Mustang Art, piloted by Sean Bier, third. Meanwhile. In the $18,000 3,4&5-Year-Old Open, Soto closed strongly for Art Stafford Jr. to notch a 1:50.4 score for the Wood, Dittman and Iaquinta ownership and trainer Eric Ell. The game Remember Me VK (Montrell Teague) cut the mile and finished a strong second. Trading Up (Pat Berry) took third. In another $15,000 event, Cajon Lightning, a four-year-old altered son of Mach Three-Tex In The City, with the same driver, trainer and owners along with Minisink Farms came through with a 1:51 verdict in a $15,000 Male pace. Lew's Maverick (Kevin Switzer Jr.) and Rock On Precious (Russ Foster) finished second and third. The other $15,000 pace, went to Swapportunity, another gelded son of Mach Three from Swap Blue Chip, driven by Jim Morand for trainer Les Givens and owners Ed Maas, Arlene Paisley and Nanticoke Racing, overcame post 8 to best Poisonous (Tim Tetrick) in a 1:52.4 victory. The win in the 3,4&5-Year-Old Winners-Over pace, gives the owners a $54,023 reward thus far this season. Fashion Bythebeach (Vince Copeland) was third. Driver Bret Brittingham and trainer Ben Stafford combined for two of Brittingham's three wins. Cloud Speed, A three-year-old Dragon Again-Cams Extic gelding scored a lifetime best 1:53 to win an $11,000 pace for young horses. Machine Team won in a lifetime fastest 1:54 in another $11,000 race. All Music, owned by Benton, West and the Wyatts, was his third wi in 1:55.1 in a $9,000 pace. Janet Hudson's Just A Jolt and Star Messenger, who she owns with Joanne Looney King gave driver Vic Kirby and trainer Jim King a double. Just A Jolt, by Village Jolt-Just Wait Kate, scored in 1:51.2 in a $12,500 Male pace beating Sicily (Allan Davis) and Golden Gun (Pat Berry) while Star Messenger, a Jereme's Jet-Manhattan Killean gelding romped in 1:51.4. Allan Davis, also added a pair of wins. Trainer Gary Simpson and Eric Good's Ideal Kiss won a $13,500 pace for younger horses in 1:54, the American Ideal-Ruffle's Kiss sophomore gelding's eighth win of the year. Earlier, he drove Allan Pullman and Barry Glickstein's Doctor McSwing to his third lifetime win, all this year, wnning an $8,000 pace in 1:56. In Tuesday feature race, a $20,000 Filly and Mares Open Pace, Nike Franco N and Scandalicious head a field of eight topping a female filled 15-ra The week's top female pace leads Tuesday's racing. The top trotters head Wednesday's card while all four rich Matron Stakes for male and female two-year-old trotters and pacers is set for this Thursday, Nov.3. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. No racing on Friday and Saturday. Sunday racing now starts at 5; 30 p.m. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing and NFL three-game wagering is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight. There is no charge for parking and admission. Early reservations are suggested for the acclaimed Winner's Circle Buffet Restaurant and for those planning to stay at the 4-star Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600. ce card. Marv Bachrad          

HARRINGTON, Del. - Robert Stevenson's Singing Saint (Tony Morgan, $9.80), won the harness racing featured $19,200 Open Pace Monday at Harrington Raceway in 1:52. The race was named in honor of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, a non-profit organization aimed at increasing awareness for breast cancer in The First State. Volunteers from the DBCC were on hand selling harness horse bracelets and other miscellaneous merchandise, with proceeds benefiting the DBCC. To learn more about their organization, please visit www.debreastcancer.org. The aforementioned Singing Saint, a 6-year-old Lis Mara gelding, notched his seventh win of the year for his owner/trainer Stevenson, courtesy of a fierce charge in the stretch that catapulted him by his rivals for the win. Little Ben was second, with Special T Rocks third. Montrell Teague and Bret Brittingham each had three winners on the program. Matthew Sparacino    

HARRINGTON, Del. - Robert Cooper Stables and J&T Silva Stables' Mel Mara (Corey Callahan, $2.20) had an auspicious Harrington Raceway debut in his prep for next week's (September 19) $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial with a 1:50.1 win, while breaking a track record in the harness racing featured $15,000 Open Monday. The 7-year-old Lis Mara stallion never had an anxious moment in his front end score from post position five for trainer Dylan Davis. Mel Mara has banked more than $171,000 this year and nearly $630,000 in his career. He has campaigned against many of the sport's top pacers this season and took a career best of 1:47 earlier in the year at the Meadowlands. The 1:50.1 time established a new track record for aged pacing stallions, which was formerly held by Getitoffyourchest, who set the mark earlier this year on June 20. Little Ben and Handsome Henry K rounded out the trifecta. For the second straight start, Carrie Malone and Amanda Malone's Nuclear Dragon ($5.40, Jon Roberts) recorded a new lifetime mark with a sparkling 1:52 score in a $9,000 conditioned pace for trainer Brian Malone. George Dennis recorded a driving triple. Montrell Teague had two wins. The draw for 10th annual Bobby Quillen Memorial is Tuesday September 13. Matthew Sparacino  

After a solid performance against the best aged pacers in the world in the Ben Franklin two weeks ago at Pocono, Dylan Davis trainee Mel Mara returned to harness racing. This time, in a Winner's Over pace going for $25,000 at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. Starting from post 7, the 7-year-old son of Lis Mara left fast off the wings, clearing the lead well before the quarter (:26.2). After rating the half (:55), Mel Mara turned it up a notch, pacing the third quarter in :26.3 (1:21.3). Mel Mara finished strong, stopping the clock in 1:48.4 (:27.1 last qtr). He finished under wraps, as driver Trace Tetrick never asked the now 14 time winner for any pace. Clear Vision (Yannick Gingras) finished second, while Southwind Amazon (Marcus Miller) overcame a tough trip to finish third. Mel Mara is owned by Robert Cooper Stables and J & T Silva Stables. He won by four lengths in the end, and paid $2.40 to win. Michael Bozich

ANDERSON, Ind.-June 18, 2016 - In near gate-to-wire fashion, Ontario Success and harness racing driver John DeLong captured the featured event of the evening, a $21,000 Invitational pace, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, June 18. Slightly dismissed at the windows at 6-1, Ontario Success was able to hold off his rivals late in the lane to score in 1:49.4, just a few ticks of his career best. It was a seasonal best mark and also equaled the fastest mile of the 2016 season through the first 50 nights of racing at Hoosier Park. Leaving from post seven in a talented field of nine, DeLong settled off the gate along the rail in seventh while a host of others left aggressively for the lead. Nitro and Ricky Macomber Jr. were the first to get a call through the opening panel in :26.2 but their lead would be short lived as Sam Widger had Night Pro pointed to the front. Night Pro was able to grab command just past the half :55 but would yield the lead to Ontario Success approaching the final turn. Ontario Success was in command at third station in 1:22.2 but Night Pro wasn't going away easily. As the rest of the field began to close in on the top pair, DeLong asked Ontario Success for more. Using a :27.2 final quarter, Ontario Success dug in gamely to get the win by a length over Night Pro. K-lees Shakenbake and Jason Dillander staged a big rally late in the lane to round out the trifecta. Ontario Success returned $15.60 to his backers at the betting windows. Trained by Ron Burke, Ontario Success scored his eighth win from 11 seasonal outings. The gelded son of Lis Mara-Loving Successor has now won 22 of 76 lifetime outings while bankrolling $280,903 for his connections of Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi. The win was also one of three driving wins on the evening's 13-race for driver John DeLong. DeLong is currently second on Hoosier Park's leading driver standings with 89 victories on the season through 55 nights of racing. Trace Tetrick leads all drivers with 127 victories in 2016. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Tuesday, June 21 with a daily racing post time of 5:45 p.m. Live racing will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 12. For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule, please visit www.hoosierpark.com . Emily Gaskin  

Carrickmannon N (Lis Mara) made her debut in the harness racing feature on Friday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Chris Marino-trained mare moved first over on the race's big favorite in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open and cruised by to prevail in a career best 1:52.3. Stephane Bouchard piloted Carrickmannon N to her tenth win in fifteen seasonal starts. The six year old New Zealand invader powered past the 2-5 shot Godiva Seelster (Wally Hennessey) while breaking that one's impressive five race winning streak. Godiva Seelster had to settle for second in the feature for distaffers while Bettorhaveanother (Frank Coppola Jr) earned the show spot. Carrickmannon N returned $7.80 to win and led an exacta and triple that paid $21.20 and $81, respectively. While it was the first career victory in the Open for Carrickmannon N, for her connections owner Mike Casalino Jr. and trainer Chris Marino, it was number six in the Fillies and Mares Open in 2016 as their Campanile has recorded five wins in the Friday features at the Spa thus far this year. Live racing continues on Saturday night with first post time set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

You won’t miss John McDermott’s smile over the next few weeks, because it’s one of the largest anyone in Harness Racing has at the moment. The past few weeks have been some of the best for the Prebbleton based trainer and amateur driver. It all started with the win of She’sa Tricky Bridge, on Premier day at Addington back on the 14th of May. The 3yo Stonebridge Regal filly cracked her maiden victory and gave McDermott one of his biggest victories’s to date. A week later and McDermott was down to drive Sheza Springfield and Shantahlia Knight in the first two heats of The Dexion New Zealand Amateur Drivers Championship. That night saw John salute the judge on both occasions and head to Rangiora leading the pack on maximum points. Luck continued when John was drawn to drive Franco Exeter in the third heat. “I could never have dreamed of picking up two wins at Cambridge, I drew a couple of nice horses and the luck went our way on the night” said John Apart from a failure at Forbury Park back at the end of April, the 5yo Lis Mara gelding hasn’t missed a top two finish for Burnham trainer Mark Jones. Sent forward from a wide draw, Franco Exeter took up his customary leading role and McDermott let the Wayne Higgs owned gelding roll along at a steady tempo. “The Dominator John McDermott” as commentator Mark McNamara called him, was off and gone at the 500m and had most of the field off their feet. Franco Exeter managed to hold on and win by ½ length over a fast finishing As Kiwi As (Gavin Cook), with 2 ¼ lengths back to Going Going Gone (Sheryl Wigg). “The connections weren’t that confident after his last start failure, but his previous form had been so good” said McDermott. One punter was that confident that John would go 3/3 that they placed a whopping $3,500.00 to win on Franco Exeter. Somehow even with maximum points from the first 3 heats, there was a chance that John could be pipped at the post, but that was put to bed when he took inside runs on outsider Midfrew Tarpediem to finish strongly for 5th and secure a maiden NZ amateur title. “They told me coming into the last I had to either beat Sheryl home or if she won, it would turn into having to beat four home to win, and three home to win on a count back." "It’s been a wonderful competition; having four heats this year has been great. Last year they only managed to get the 3 heats and some drivers only got to have two drives, but thanks to all the trainers and connections at Cambridge and Canterbury, we had full fields and several of those trainers backed their horses up from Friday night which really helped.” Sheryl placed 3 times and won the last heat, usually that sort of form would win most drivers series in New Zealand but nobody could begrudge McDermott’s victory, nor the smile on his face after achieving his career highlight (to date). She’sa Tricky Bridge Sheza Springfield Shantahlia Knight Franco Exeter Andrew Fitzgerald

Tee Cee Bee Macray’s emergence as a four-year-old of significant talent was only enhanced with a commanding win at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, which will have the gelding a short price for next week’s final. Heats one and two of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace, which is restricted to M0, saw the Alan Tubbs trained gelding confirm his class, coming from the back of the field to rally five-wide and run past a couple of smart types with plenty in the tank. “It was a genuinely run race, which she probably still needed that to some degree with where we settled,” driver Greg Sugars said. “Having said that, he did have a pretty good class edge on most of his rivals. He did the job nicely in the end.” SEE THE FULL RESULTS AND REPLAYS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT'S RACING Colin Rogers’ well-rated Merbein flyer Murranji Track again gave a good account of himself, facing the breeze outside Gollahgirl and while others faded the tough Grinfromeartoear gelding pressed on to run into second, getting to the line strongly to outpoint third-placed Niki No No. Their strong performances have earned them tickets to return to Tabcorp Park Melton next Friday night for the metropolitan pace final, where they will confront heat one winner Miss Dreamin. Kerryn Manning pulled all the right reins on Paul Campbell’s four-year-old mare, showing gate speed to take the lead on Miss Dreamin before allowing favourite Fake Smile to slide to the front mid-race while she took leader’s back. Come the sprint lane Miss Dreamin was hitting the line hard and had enough in the bank to win a photo finish, with just a half-head separating the winner from second-placed Masterofthurles, another half-head to third-placed Fake Smile, while Marg Lee’s Keayang Ebonyrose was a close fourth. “She went really nice,” Manning said of the mare by Lis Mara out of Karamea Dreamin. “I had the option of holding the favourite (Fake Smile) out, but she was always going to get a good trip (in the box seat) and she does sprint lane quite well we thought. “She just got there on the line, but did well. You couldn’t ask for much better really. She just keeps stepping up and has again tonight. Obviously the final will be a little harder, but she is well in it now.” Michael Doltoff trained Fake Smile, who had won eight of nine starts leading into tonight, will only be better for the run having been first up from a spell. A tantalising showdown against Tee Cee Bee Macray awaits, having last met in in February’s Group 1 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, when Tee Cee Bee Macray placed third and Fake Smile fourth behind Tact Tate and Itz Bettor To Win. On Friday night the good times also rolled on for Horsham father-and-son team trainer Barry and driver Aaron Dunn. Leading in they had produced five consecutive wins and while the succession was broken when Little Lyn was unable to overcome her awkward draw in her keenly contested race, Nikkibadwagon only further enhanced her reputation. Having driven his first Melton winner only one week earlier, Aaron Dunn snapped up number two when his three-year-old filly won the University Meat 3YO Pace, having been three-wide for much of the last lap before letting down in the straight to outpace $3.30 favourite Rockstar Angel. “I (went) a bit earlier than I would have liked,” Dunn said, having been surprised Hu Hu R U crossed Dancingwithsierra to take the breeze, which left Nikkibadwagon exposed three-wide. “At least we were able get a bit of a breather down the back straight.” A 30.6 second quarter rolled into a 29.5 third quarter as Nikkibadwagon joined the front runners and ultimately scored a 3.2m win. “She’s got a lot of depth and she can really sprint home.” Milly Perez, for Marong trainer Larry Eastman, also produced another eye-catching performance, winning the Matt Laing’s Bucks Pace with Chris Alford in the sulky. A 12th career win increased the Four Starzzz Shark’s mare’s winnings to almost $200,000, with Milly Perez proving too good after having sat with cover until the last time down the back straight, when she popped out and wore her rivals down. “She’s going super,” Alford said. “I thought tonight we would get a nice easy run without doing much, but we had to come out pretty early and she was still travelling really well around the turn and picked up in the straight.” Shes Just a Delight, trained and driven by Kerryn Manning, ran on well to claim second, 3.5m in arrears of the winner. While most races largely went to script, many punters were bundled out of the quaddie when Classy Western made every post a winner to claim the Cougar Bourbon Pace for trainer-driver Allan McDonough. It was the well-respected seven-year-old’s first placing in 17 races, with the frenetic early lead time (43.9) set by a pulling Savesometimetodream, while Matt Craven’s Changing Code loomed forward from a middling start. At the back of the field Classy Western sat in wait, tailing Lets Elope into the race three-wide. As the leaders faded, Lets Elope worked clear, releasing Classy Western for a backmarkers battle down the straight and it was the Western Terror gelding who snapped up the win. “He’s been going terrific all this season really,” McDonough said. “Tonight the lead time was good and I was able to get a good cart into the race.” In other races, Nathan Jack drove a double, claiming the first – the DNR Logistics Pace – with David Abrahams trained Fabrication (Dream Vacation/Figment), and the tab.com.au pace final for Wayne Potter’s impressive three-year-old Itz Billy Hillis (Bettors Delight/Itz Got The Giggles), who has won four of his six starts. Geoff Webster produced a double of a different kind, training the first two placegetters in the Join The Pegasus Club Pace Final. Webster drove Mach Doro (Mach Three/Three Eagles) to clip stablemate Kotare York (Mach Three/Kotare Yoyo) by a head. Tenno Dance (Tennotrump/Disco Dance) won the Aldebaran Park Trot for Strathfieldsaye trainer Glenn Sharp and Bolinda driver Josh Duggan, and Black Valley (Skyvalley/Black Curlew) wrapped up the night by winning the VHRSC The Owners Voice Trot Final for Kyabram trainer Robert Shellie and Shepparton driver Rebecca Bartley. “Everything went good tonight,” Bartley said. “He travelled really well and got the job done.” Michael Howard

After he hit the wire first on March 19 for his first victory in more than 1-1/2 years, Mel Mara’s connections were understandably ecstatic, not only because any win is cherished, but because this one was so incredibly rewarding for harness racing trainer Tony Alagna and his team. “We are so thrilled to have our stable mascot back,” said the 7-year-old pacer’s conditioner. “He has been so good to us over all these years, but he had several issues that required us to give him over a year off and at this age you never know if they are going to come back. “Actually, he was scheduled to go in the January Select Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands and we raced him one time before that as a gauge to see if he would go in the sale. He did not race very well (seventh on Jan. 16), but I felt that was only because he was not provided with an opportunity to show us his best. That is why we did not put him in the sale and we really cannot be any more pleased with how he proved himself.” A son of Lis Mara and the Matt’s Scooter mare M L Revrac, Mel Mara will seek to collect his second triumph of his comeback journey on Saturday (March 26) when he takes on seven rivals in a $16,000 non-winners contest at the Meadowlands. The horse will be steered by Scott Zeron and will leave from post position seven in the seventh race. Mel Mara is tied for fourth choice (6-1) on the morning line, but has paced the swiftest mile (1:49.1) of the year in this field. “Not only did he win, he was impressive in his last race,” Alagna said. “He was first over on a night the weather was not very cooperative and just powered home. With that race under his belt he should only improve and I think he will be extremely competitive in any spot we decide to put him in from now on.” Owned by Brittany Farms and Riverview Racing, Mel Mara has amassed $463,024 from 48 trips to the gate and his record stands at 11-7-2. As a 2-year-old he only managed one win from five starts but was a respectable fourth in the $317,800 Woodrow Wilson. After an eighth in a $40,400 elimination of the Metro Pace, which was captured by A Rocknroll Dance, he was put on the shelf with some minor ankle issues. The time to grow into himself was more than fortuitous as Mel Mara returned at age three in terrific form. He earned just under $340,000 from 20 starts in top company and established his lifetime mark of 1:49.1. The highlights of his season included a win in a $100,600 division of the Bluegrass Stakes over Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer and Dapper Dude, a win over Michael’s Power in a $132,600 Ontario Sire Stakes Gold final and a fourth in the $300,000 Ontario Sire Stakes Super final. After a strong second in his $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination, Mel Mara was an unlucky seventh in the final after leaving from the 10 hole. “He is just such a classy horse,” Alagna said. “That was a very tough group of horses to compete against and he showed up every time. After that huge win down in Lexington he went right up to Canada and beat the Jug winner (Michael’s Power) on a half(-mile track). I think that goes to show what kind of talent he has always possessed and what kind of heart.” Like many horses, Mel Mara did not exactly excel during his 4-year-old year. From 16 pari-mutuel miles he was 3-2-0 and banked just over $67,000. As a 5-year-old he raced on four occasions with two wins and a third and brought home $14,400 in purse money. That is when Alagna realized several physical issues were hampering how he raced and it was decided to turn him out in September 2014. “With all that he has done for us as a very nice stakes horse we wanted to do what was right by him,” Alagna said. “There were a couple things bothering him. They weren’t serious and all he needed was time. That was when we decided to be patient and give him all he needed. We probably even gave him too much time, but it is better to give them too much rather than not enough. Besides this horse is a favorite of ours and we would go above and beyond for whatever he needs.” Mel Mara made the first step in his return on Jan. 2 with a second in a qualifying race at the Meadowlands. He followed that up with the same placing in another qualifying contest the following week before finishing seventh in a betting engagement. He was then given the month of February off and was sixth in another qualifying race on March 5. On March 12, the gelding was sixth again in a non-winners of $17,000 but his final quarter-mile was :26.4 against horses that were in racing shape. That race sharpened him for his 11th career score. Now that Mel Mara has once again returned to the winner’s circle, Alagna is not exactly certain of what his racing future may consist of, but he definitely knows this: “He is an absolute pleasure to have in our barn,” he said. “Not only is he the consummate professional and completely well-mannered on the track and off, he has an excellent personality. He is a very fun horse and is one of those you look forward to seeing every day. I can’t stress enough how good he was to us and we are so excited our patience paid off for him to still be with us. He is a very important part of our stable and we have a lot of confidence in him for the rest of the season.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

"The trainer sacked her in the wash and I took her home."  That was how Invercargill harness racing trainer Brent Shirley described the process by which he took over the training of new recruit Tact Minaj who was previously trained at Winton by Trevor Proctor.   He's had the mare for just over two weeks and has quickly formed a syndicate of owners to race the well bred mare.    "Last start she sat three wide the entire journey and faded out of it." "She got fifth at Cromwell and got held up and finished on not too bad." "Probably the change of stable and the environment have been the biggest thing I've changed," he said.   The new owners are Shirley's wife Raywyn, Brendon Franks, Keith Gaines, Sharyn Gaines, Colin Dixon, John Edminstin and Terry McNaught all of whom have had horses with Shirley previously.   At the Gore harness racing meeting yesterday Tact Minaj settled last of the main bunch. With 1300 metres to run driver Nathan Williamson improved the Lis Mara mare around to sit parked outside leader Hard N Fast. On straightening Tact Minja levelled with Hard N Fast and the two battled down the straight with Tact Minja the bravest, winning by a length.   "I said to Nathan that I thought I had her hopples pretty much right but I said to him to sprint her up in the prelim and take them up if he wanted. I see he's pulled them up two holes."     Tact Minaj is out of the ten win Albert Albert mare Tact Hayley Jane and is a half sister to Tact Hayleys Delight, the winner of four races here and a further eight in Australia.   Interestingly, Proctor gained a win with a new stable runner of his own later in the programme when Tartan Trilogy won at his four attempt for Proctor. He was previously trained by Geoff and Jude Knight. Tartan Trilogy's time for the 1800 metres was 2-17.5 a new open track record bettering the previous record of 2-21.8 held jointly by Applause and Even Flo.     Meanwhile Shirley has designs on winning this Saturday's Group Three Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Cup with stable star Costa Del Magnifico.    "He seems very very well and I couldn't be happier with him." "He's healthy, training well and looking good." "We backed off him after Addington and are peaking him for this race." "Nathan came in and drove him after the workouts yesterday and he seemed happy."   When pressed for times from the private workout, he smiled and got busy answering texts on his phone.   Didn't Shirley used to train a horse called Nothingforthemedia?    Bruce Stewart  - Southland Harness Racing    Check site here  

If there is one thing you can be sure of heading into this years round of yearling sales in New Zealand, it is that the usual handful of stallions will dominate proceedings. Bettor's Delight just continues to raise the bar every year with his progeny dominating Australasian harness racing like no stallion in living memory and will deservedly be the most sought after sire. Hot in pursuit will be his biggest challengers in Art Major, Mach Three and Somebeachsomewhere but after that, the pacing stallion picture becomes a lot less clear. Rocknroll Hanover and Rock N Roll Heaven have had their moments at past sales and do have particularly strong offerings this year which may lift their results up to the top level above The averages for all of the other stallions at last years round of sales suggested buyers were a lot less forgiving of issues or faults with progeny of what we called the "second tier stallions". Some made reasonable money but a lot would have struggled to break even which in the context of what a lot of these sires have produced would seem an unfair result. In our view there is a lot of value for money to be had in the progeny of the second tier stallions at New Zealand sales and this year is no exception. Most of these stallions have shown they can leave that classic winning youngster but just not at the same frequency as the Bettor's Delights of this world. A good example for us is Lot 117 at the Australasian Classic Yearling sale. Named Lacey's Lad, he is a son of Lis Mara from the race winning Christian Cullen mare in Van Seraa. Van Seraa has three foals that are three years or older on the ground and to date she is batting at 100% winners to foals * Raesawinner - 1: 56.7 ($ 92,821) - By Elsu * Georgia's Jury 1:57.3 ($59,871) - By Lis Mara * Van Mara - 1:58.2 ($15,150) - By Lis Mara Georgia's Jury was a classic filly at three, running second to Adore Me in the three year old filly Sires Stakes final while Van Mara is a three year old who won recently at Alexandra Park. So this years offering is a full brother to two smart winners and the individual himself is a strong athletic looking colt so he ticks a lot of boxes for prospective buyers. To us he is typical of the value for money yearlings available at the sales by second tier stallions and deserves more than a passing glance from prospective buyers. Harnesslink Media  

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