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Ake Svanstedt, Inc. and Little E, LLC's Non Stick ($2.70) remains undefeated in eight career starts after a comfortable two-length harness racing win in her $40,600 New York Sire Stakes division on Saturday (May 28) evening at Vernon Downs.   Mark MacDonald wasted no time with the 3-year-old Lucky Chucky filly, working clear of Goosebump Hanover (Chris Lems) before exiting the straight. Non Stick was uncontested through splits of :28, :57.2, and 1:26, working clear of her seven foes on the far turn. At head-stretch, Goosebump Hanover vacated the pocket to give chase, but Non Stick maintained her clear lead throughout under just mild encouragement for a 1:55 triumph. Earn Your Wings (Charlie Norris) circled from the rear of the main group to take second, while Dizzy Broad (Jim Morrill, Jr.) saved third off her cozy tracking trip. Goosebump Hanover lacked any late burst from the pocket, finishing fourth.   Ake Svanstedt trains Non Stick, who has amassed $226,532 thus far in career earnings.   Mario Mazza's Stick of Butter ($7.20) prevailed in her Sire Stakes division off an extended first-over bid, dueling clear of pacesetter Straight A Student for a 1:54.3 win. Trainer Francisco del Cid drove the Lucky Chucky filly.   Fair Winds Farm, Inc.'s Open Access ($33.80) also found the winner's enclosure, vaulting off cover and collaring Fad Finance and Swinging Royalty for a last-to-first 1:54.1 score. Charlie Norris drove the daughter of Credit Winner for trainer Robert Baggitt, Jr.   As no one hit the 50¢ Pick 5, a carryover of $246.95 will head to Monday (May 30) afternoon's card. Post time for the first of 12 races on Memorial Day is set for 1:25 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Harness racing driver Mark MacDonald calls his time in London, ON racing at The Raceway at The Western Fair District "maybe the best time of my life." MacDonald, who is now based in New York and is one of the top drivers at Yonkers Raceway, will return to Western Fair Friday to drive Sunfire Blue Chip in the $150,000 Molson Pace invitational for trainer Jimmy Takter. "London was the first place I bought a house. It was a condo, but it was like a house. I lived in apartments before that. I actually lived 10 minutes from Western Fair," said the 37-year-old Prince Edward Island native, who first made his name racing in Ontario from 1999 through 2011. "I had some stoplights then, not bridge traffic. It is definitely a different atmosphere (in New York) as opposed to up there, but Western Fair was great. I had a lot of fun there. I won a lot of races. It was the first time I got to race in all the (Ontario) Sires Stakes and was kind of the go-to guy." What hasn't been as much fun has been the Molson Pace. MacDonald has raced in it nine times and never won. "It's been my Achilles Heel. That race just keeps getting me. I almost won it a few times. Dr No, I thought I was home with him and Our Lucky Killean got me right at the wire (in 2006). I think I still have the track record at London with Tigerama (1:50.4 in 2008). He buzzed around there in the elimination and then drew the seven hole and got stung past the quarter. He was kind of a speed horse. The seven hole and a speed horse don't really mix there in London, unless the inside wing falls off or something. Anyway, he got stung and ended up fifth." MacDonald last raced in the Molson Pace in 2014 and was eighth with Bandolito. "Bandolito, I got a horrendous trip with him. I was out early and he didn't fire. He wasn't right then, either. He didn't race for about five or six months after that race," MacDonald said. "I've had some good horses in that race, but I've raced some horses that turned up sick and I've raced some horses that just got beat. I just never get to the wire first." MacDonald, a winner of nearly 5,700 career races and more than $84 million is a two-time O'Brien Award winner as Canada's Driver of the Year. He set a record for driving wins on Canadian soil with 739 in 2006 - since surpassed by Jody Jamieson. MacDonald will be driving against his younger brother, James MacDonald, in this year's Molson Pace. James will pilot P H Supercam from post seven. "James is a good little driver. He's doing a great job. I talk to him all the time and always try to help him as much as I can. But I won't be helping him out on Friday," Mark said, laughing. "Don't eat yellow snow. That's my tip for him." Mark said he likes his chances with Sunfire Blue Chip, especially drawing the inside post three. "He's a really good horse... A good half-mile horse," Mark said of the six-year-old stallion, a son of American Ideal out of Shot Togo Blue Chip who has earned just over $1 million. "He won the Prix d'Ete as a four-year-old at Three Rivers. He's a really fast horse, good gaited. He doesn't wear a boot. He's a typical Takter horse. He's really well-mannered, a nice horse to drive. Everything about him is nice. He just won in 1:51 a couple of weeks ago in Yonkers on kind of a tiring track. It was a good mile that night." Sunfire Blue Chip has a record of 4-3-2 this year in 16 starts and earnings of just over $80,000. "He was sharp in the Levy (Series at Yonkers). He raced in every leg in the Levy and he just had horrible luck with the draw. He was, literally, outside every week... We couldn't get a break with that horse. They actually took him out of the Levy one week and I took him to the front and he won in like :53.3... The Levy wasn't meant to be for him this year, but he always raced well. He showed up every week." Now Mark MacDonald hope Sunfire Blue Chip shows up with his best game on Friday so he can finally claim the Molson Pace in his 10th attempt. Post positions for the Molson Pace field are as follows: 1. State Treasurer - Chris Christoforou 2. Bettor Rock On N - Jody Jamieson 3. Sunfire Blue Chip - Mark MacDonald 4. Evenin Of Pleasure - Sylvain Filion 5. Machtu N - Trevor Henry 6. Mcwicked - Randy Waples 7. P H Supercam - James MacDonald 8. All Bets Off - Matt Kakaley The Molson Pace program will also feature the Ontario Sires Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers, a quartet of City of London Series finals, a pair of Alliance Claiming Series finals and an added-purse Junior Invitational Pace as part of the undercard. Total purses for the night will be more than $550,000. There will be a number of promotions on the night, including Scratch and Win program prizes, OSS 'Be A Winner Contest,' Party on the Patio, a Molson VIP infield event and much more. The wagering menu has been bolstered to include a $5,000 guaranteed early Pick-3, $10,000 guaranteed early Pick-4, $15,000 guaranteed late Pick-4 and the addition of a third Super Hi-5 - all low 15 per cent takeout wagers. For more information, visit molsonpace.com. Greg Blanchard

Harness racing driver Mark MacDonald was the star of the show Saturday night, sweeping both of Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 co-featured Open Handicaps with favored Great Vintage (Pace, $5.30) and Obrigado (Trot, $8.20). Great Vintage, assigned post position No. 2, two-moved around Texican N (Jordan Stratton), then set sail on his appointed rounds (:27.4, 56.3, 1:24.2, season-matching 1:52). The people's choice eventually disposed of a first-up Bettor Rock On N (Dan Dube), then took a three-quarter length lead into the lane. He fended off an inside bid of Texican N by half-length in 1:52. Artistic Major (Brent Holland) rallied very well for third, with Ideal Cowboy (Jason Bartlett) and Atta Boy Dan (George Brennan) settling for the remainder. For Great Vintage, an 8-year-old son of American Ideal trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners his wife, Christina, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk, it was his third win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $28.80, with the triple returning $220.50. As for Obrigado, he did his damage-from assigned post No. 5-from first-up. Away six, he saw Luminosity (Brennan) lead through intervals of :27.4, :57.2 and 1:26.1. It was Luminosity holding a short lead into the lane, but Obrigado was relentless. He keep at it, whipping Luminosity by a length in 1:54.2. Homicide Hunter (Stratton) was third, with tepid 5-2 choice Major Athens (Brian Sears) and Allerage Star (Pat Lachance) earning the minor moolah. For second choice Obrigado, an 6-year-old Boy Band gelding co-owned by (trainer) Paul Kelley, Linwood Higgins, SRF Stable and Stable 45, it was his first win in a pair of '16 tries. The exacta paid $33.60, the triple returned $179 and superfecta paid $579. Saturday's $30,000 Preferred Handicap Pace was won by Machtu N (Steve Smith, $7.70) in a night's-best 1:50.4 for a first North American victory. Frank Drucker  

Al Raza N (Mark MacDonald, $13) roared through the lane Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 harness racing filly and mare Open Handicap Pace. It didn't appear to be a closer's race after odds-on number Mosquito Blue Chip (Dan Dube) worked around Pasultimatedelite N (George Brennan) and dawdled through early intervals of 28-flat and 57-flat. Even when longshot Know it All (Eric Abbatiello) offered a stern, backside challenge, it was only into a 28-second (1:25) three-quarters. Despite the comfy fractions, "Mosquito" was about to be swatted. She was swallowed up from all sides early in the lane, with a third-over (from post position No. 7) Al Raza N closing fastest from sixth turning for home. She picked off Pasultimatedelite N by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.2, with McCovey Cove N (Jordan Stratton), Jag Out (Steve Smith) and Know it All settling for the remainder. Mosquito Blue Chip faded to sixth. For third choice Al Raza N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Gotta Go Cullect owned by (trainer) Augie Abbatiello's Durazzano Stable LLC, it was her fifth win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $44.40, with the all-Kiwi triple returning $153. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Apr. 30) Pick 5 wager begins with a tidy carryover of $4,999.04. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing program. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday evening), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next program. Frank Drucker

Bad Boy Matt with harness racing driver Mark MacDonald in the sulky, lasted-barely-from first-up Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $32,000 Open Handicap Pace. Spectating early from post position No. 5, "Matt" saw 3-10 favorite Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton) and fresh parimutuel Lasix Roland N Rock (Dan Dube) both leave inside of him. "Roland" was able to get away cheap enough (28-flat opening quarter-mile, :56.4 intermission) before Bad Boy Matt moved to challenge from fifth. Roland N Rock continued to lead in and out of a 1:25.2 three-quarters. Despite the seemingly-comfy fractions, "Roland" was foldin' off the final turn. This did nothing for the cause of a trapped-in Bit of a Legend N as Bad Boy Matt opened some daylight early in the lane. Bit of a Legend N finally saw the passing lane closed relentlessly, but ran out of racetrack. Bad Boy Matt's nose was at the line first in 1:53. A season-debuting Ideal Cowboy (Jason Bartlett) was a fast-moving third, with Dream Out Loud N (George Brennan) and Justified (Eric Abbatiello) rounded out the payees. Roland N Rock faded to seventh. For third choice Bad Boy Matt, a 6-year-old Badlands Hanover co-owned by Legacy Racing of Delaware & Reginald Hazzard II and trained by Wayne Givens, it was his third win in a nine seasonal starts. The exacta paid $37.80, with the triple returning $303.50. Saturday night also saw the season's fastest mile(s), a pair of 1:51.3 efforts by Lunar Tide N (Shaun Vallee) and Mattamerican (Bartlett). Also, when 28-1 Keystone Honor (Brennan, $59.50), 35-1 Aberdeen Hanover (Pat Lachance) and 9-1 Life Up Front (Stratton) crossed the line 1-2-3 in the 11th race, it resulted in a $12,299 triple, richest locally thus far in 2016. The Raceway's live season continues with a "French" Sunday afternoon (first post 1:10 PM). Frank Drucker

Obrigado (Boy Band) took today's Open Trot at Saratoga, for harness racing driver Mark Macdonald and trainer Paul Kelley. After getting away last, Obrigado circled the field for a victory in 1:55.4. Live racing continues Thursday with a post time set for 4pm. Mike Sardella  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 25, 2015 - After any number of predictable results in Yonkers Raceway's weekly Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace, harness racing longshots ruled the roost Friday night. Dune in Red (Mark MacDonald, $21.80) photoed Justhaven'tmetuyet (Jason Bartlett) in 1:52.4 after 3-10 choice Cinamony (George Brennan) couldn't sustain a second move. Dune in Red, assigned post position No. 4, gained the first lead before Skippin' By (Jordan Stratton) left over her. That one fronted the fray through early fractions of :27.1 and :55.2, while eight-hole ordered Cinamony found a seat fourth. The fave was out and moving between intermission and 1:23.3 three-quarters, but the dozen-to-one leader wasn't overly impressed. Skippin' By stood her ground in and out of the final turn, but the swarm was coming. Dune in Red ducked in, while Justhaven'tmetuyet went wide. When the dust settled, "in" whipped "wide" by a short nose, with Carobbean Pacetry, Cinamony and Strings (Eric Carlson) rounding out the payees. For third choice Dune in Red, a 5-year-old daughter of Duneside Perch owned (as Hero Stables) and trained by Bob Krivelin, it was her fifth win in 20 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $109, with the triple returning $504. Saturday evening, it's New York Night of Champions (Part II), with Yonkers hosting a quartet of $225,000 sire stakes finals for 2-year-olds (races 2 thru 5 included in the dozen-race card). Frank Drucker

What started out as a "mundane" harness racing meeting at Yonkers Raceway Saturday night wound up lending itself to any number of stories and sidebars. Let's run down the plotlines, shall we... The Features--A pair of sixes, in Great Vintage (Dan Dube, $6.10) in 1:51.2, and Luminosity (George Brennan, $6.70) in a life-best 1:53.3, won the evening's $48,000 co-features for pacers and trotters, respectively. The Record-Sharer--Forty Five Red (Mark MacDonald, $4.60) held sway in the $35,000 Open Handicap Pace for 4-year-olds, and he did so in 1:50.1. That effort matched Crombie A's three-week-old, all-age track record, while setting a new one for Forty Five Red's age group. The time also matched the son of If I Can Dream's own life-best performance. The Record-Sharer, Part II--Luminosity's previously-proclaimed 1:53.3 trotting work night equaled that of Melady's Monet for season's fastest locally (set four weeks ago). The Speed--Ten of the evening's dozen races were essentially won wire-to-wire, or at least by the horse who was moving to the lead at the quarter. The other two races were won by one out of the pocket and one sitting a three-hole. The "slowest" of the 10 pacing events went in 1:52.3, while the non-Luminosity trot "trudged home" in 1:55.2. The Milestone-in-Waiting--Take My Picture, a best-of-the-record while chasing Luminosity in the trotting feature, now has career earnings of $998,386. The 8-year-old Classic Photo gelding, who once upon a time was a Yonkers Trot runner-up, is technically a millionaire if you throw in his Racing Under Saddle earnings. The Humans--Dube won four races, Brennan three. The Raceway's live season continues Monday night (first post 7:10 PM), featuring the $150,224 New York Sire Stakes Lew Barasch Trot (2-year-old colts/geldings). Frank Drucker

National Seelster (Andy Miller, $13.20) ripped out of the pocket and ripped past a prohibitive favorite Thursday night, throwing down the gauntlet with the fastest of three efforts during the harness racing meeting at Yonkers Raceway's $168,375 New York Sire Stakes Hugh Grant Pace night. Leaving alertly from post position No 6 in the first $56.125 event for 3-year-old pacing colts/geldings, National Seelster made the first lead. He then gave up the baton to 1-4 choice Arque Hanover (Jason Bartlett) right at a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. Southwind Massimo (Pat Lachance) was away third. Arque Hanover found a 56-second intermission and 1:23.4 three-quarters, with no outer pressure whatsoever. He took a length lead into the lane, but National Seelster was more than ready for his second move. He went up and over "Arque," winning by a length-and-quarter in a certifiably-snappy 1:51.1. Arque Hanover held second over Southwind Massimo. For second choice National Seelster, an (unraced at 2) son of Bettor's Delight trained by Chris Ryder for co-owners Robert Mondillo and Oompa's Farm, it was his seventh win in 13 seasonal starts (4-for-4 in NYSS competition). The exacta paid $22.60, with the triple returning $86.50. "He's just a perfect colt," Ryder said. "Does whatever you ask, gets around any surface. We may try the Adios next, depending upon how many of those 'killers' are there." Thursday's other Grant events were won by Betting Exchange (Jim Morrill Jr., $2.10) getting off the seasonal schneid in 1:53.3, and Americanprimetime (Bartlett, $19.80), holding off 59-1 Rock in Heaven (Dave Miller) in a season's-best 1:52.4. The former, Bettor's Delight colt trained by Tom Fanning for co-owners himself, Howard Taylor and Susan Kajsfasz, zipped well past $300,000 in career cash. The exacta (Penji Hanover [Mark MacDonald] second) paid $4.50 (two wagering choices, with the triple (K-Rock [Yannick Gingras] third) returning $27.80. The winning margin was two lengths. For fourth choice Americanprimetime, a son of American Ideal trained by Rick Dane Jr. for owner Rock and Roll Stable, he's now 2-for-9 this season. The exacta paid $148.50, the triple (Artistic Major [Scott Zeron] third) returned $1,548 and the superfecta (17-10 choice A Bettor Hat [Brian Sears] fourth) paid $12,135 (base $2 payout). The winning margin was a half-length. The Raceway's live season continues Friday and Saturday (both at 7:10 PM), with Saturday night featuring the $107,500 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

Fast N Victorious was just that in the New York Sire Stakes for harness racing2-year-old colt and gelding pacers while Skip Jive remained unbeaten in his brief career to share top honors at Buffalo Raceway Wednesday night (July 8).   In the first $54,500 division, Fast N Victorious ($5.70) drafted perfectly behind the pace-setting Red Roll, who put up solid times of 28.3, 59.1 and 1:28.3.   It was a ding-dong battle to the wire with Fast N Victorious able to sneak past the stubborn Red Roll in the passing lane for the neck win in 1:58. Brigadoon (Billy Dobson) finished in third.   "Red Roll was very competitive and we had to fight for the win," Gregory said of the stretch drive. He added, "Fast N Victorious is like a race car and he loves the small tracks."   Owned by the Jesmeral Stable and trained by Gregory, Fast N Victorious (Art Major-Yankee Luck) rebounded nicely after a disappointing second place finish in his only start in Sire Stakes action last week at Monticello. The victory jumped his earnings to $35,891.   Skip Jive ($4.90) made it a perfect 2-for-2 in his young career putting in another impressive performance in 1:57.1 in the second division.   Being hung on the outside at the start, driver Mark MacDonald stepped on the gas with Skip Jive and took command at the quarter pole.   Setting fractions of 28.4, 57.4 and 1:28.2, Skip Jive was ready for a stretch battle from a threatening Joes On A Roll and Best Of Ribera.   But things fell apart quickly as Joes On A Roll broke stride in the lane and interfered with Best Of Ribera, wiping out the chances both had of a win.   Those issues allowed Skip Jive to cruise off with a 3-1/4 length victory. Carlos Danger (Jim Morrill Jr.) picked up the pieces for second place while Fine Diamond (Matt Kakaley) placed third.   MacDonald said the race at Goshen on June 21 where Skip Jive made a break at the start has turned him around. "We made a few equipment adjustments after Goshen and it really helped him out." He went on to say of Skip Jive, "He's a really nice horse. He was well in hand at the finish."   Co-owned by the W. Springtime Racing Stable and Shannon Brott, Skip Jive (Rock N Roll Heaven-Dancinwiththestarz) is trained by Paul Kelley. The win pushed his two-race career winnings to $42,033.   In the $15,000 Excelsior Series 'A' races, KJ Erich ($3.60) took the first division with a 1:58.3 mile for Gregory while Acting Out ($7.00) posted a 2:00.0 winning mark for Mike Simons. Gregory, a native of nearby Churchville, N.Y., finished the night with a double.   NY Whitesox ($7.50) took the $6,600 Excelsior Series 'B' race by going wire-to-wire for Dobson in 2:02.   BZ Glide ($7.70) went from last to first and took the $10,500 Open Trot in a seasonal best 1:57.0.   After watching Justgottogetthere cut the fractions of 28.3, 58.0 and 1:27.4, BZ went three-wide down the backstretch and trotted away smartly in the lane to post the 1-1/2 length win over Serious George (Shawn Gray). Winkys Pride (Drew Monti) took the show position.   Owned by the Caprio Stable and trained by Alana Caprio, BZ Glide (Yankee Glide-Bloomer Zoomer) has three wins in six starts in 2015, earning an even $20,000 and $135,957 lifetime.   Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) nosed out Infrontigo Hanover (Jim McNeight) to take the $9,500 Open II pace for the fillies and mares. Country Delight toured the Hamburg half-mile oval in 1:56.1.   Racing will continue on Friday night at 6:35 p.m. with a 13-race program on tap.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   Brian Mazurek  

Northeast Ohio's newest premier race, the Cleveland Trotting Classic, will go to post Friday (July 3) at Northfield Park. The Classic carries a $170,000 purse for its inaugural edition and has attracted some of the best veteran trotters in North America. The Grand Circuit race is the featured event of a stakes-laden program. The Friday harness racing card offers total purses of $647,500. Obrigado drew post two and has been named the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the Classic field by Northfield Park Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, Dave Bianconi. Entering Friday's race off a 1:51.3 lifetime mark in the $50,000 TVG Free for All at the Meadowlands, Canadian Mark MacDonald has been named to drive the 5 year-old Boy Band gelding. Obrigado sports 31wins, including 21 consecutive victories earlier in his career, and has lifetime earnings of $421,164. DW's NY Yank is the 3-1 second choice. He drew post three for powerhouse trainer Ron Burke. The six year-old has five wins this year and 37 career victories. DW's NY Yank is a hard-hitting Open trotter that has garnered career earnings of $855,914 with a 1:51.3 mark at Pocono Downs taken in 2013. Daylon Magician is the richest in the field with $1,849,527 in earnings. The son of Kadabra drew post seven and is 6-1. The seven year-old has five wins this year and 30 lifetime scores, the richest being the $1,020,000 Canadian Trot at Mohawk Racetrack in 2011. Jack Moiseyev is the seven year-old's trainer and driver. Daylon Magician has a 1:51.1 mark at Mohawk Racetrack, trotted in 2013. The 2015 Cleveland Trotting Classic field: Horse   Sire   Driver   Trainer   M/L 1 - Count Me In by Full Count - Aaron Merriman* Ron Burke 9-2 2 - Obrigado by Boy Band - Mark MacDonald Paul Kelley 2-1 3 - DW's NY by Dilbert Hanover -  Yank Chris Page Ron Burke 3-1 4 - Awesome Valley by  - Aaron Merriman* Joseph Hundertpfund Jr. 20-1 5 - Datsyuk by Explosive Matter - Charlie Norris Charlie Norris 15-1 6 - Rompaway Galaxy by Rompaway Wally - Aaron Merriman* Krista Harmon 12-1 7 - Daylon Magician by Kadabra - Jack Moiseyev Jack Moiseyev 6-1 8 - Il Sogno Dream by Cantab Hall - Aaron Merriman* Christopher Beaver 8-1 *Driver selections will be finalized by 9:00 p.m. Tuesday evening. Powerful Undercard This year's Classic program undercard highlights 11 $40,000 Ohio Sires Stakes races featuring the best freshman filly pacers and trotters in the Buckeye State. There will be six divisions of filly pacers and five filly trot stake races going to post. Superfecta wagering has been added to Friday's 11th race, the Classic feature. A $10,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 has also been added and covers races eight through 11. First race post time is 6:00 p.m. In addition to superior racing action, Battle night will also offer guests a buffet in Lady Luck's clubhouse dining room. The buffet is just $19.95. Reservations are preferred and can be made by calling 330-467-4101. Guests who want to be close to all of the racing action can stop by the grandstand apron for a plethora of FREE fanfare activities. These attractions include a t-shirt toss from the winner's circle by the successful driver of each race, driver meet-and-greets and commemorative poster signings throughout the evening, Harness Racing Bingo offering over $1,000 in cash and prizes, country band Six String Cowboy performing on the apron from 6:00 till 10:00 p.m., and spinning of the Northfield Park Prize Wheel for cash and prizes from 8:00 till 9:30 p.m. Ayers Ratliff

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, May 26, 2015 -- Favored Winter Blues (Brian Sears, $3.80, part of entry) and bombardier McEver (Mark MacDonald, $91.50) earned the spiffy blankets Tuesday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway's pair of harness racing final in the "Jackpot Next Door" Claiming Series. In play early from post position No. 4 in the $69,000 finale for the boys, Winter Blues worked around Auckland Flyer (Eric Carlson), with a :27.2 opening quarter-mile and :56.2 intermission. Ideal Carver (Dan Dube) tried it from fourth towards the 1:24 three-quarters as Winter Blues owned a length-and-three-quarter lead in and out of the final turn. When a $20,000 claimer paces a life-best 1:51.3, he's gonna be tough, and Winter Blues was just that. He held sway over Ideal Carver by three-quarters of a length, with Auckland Flyer third. Someplace Special (Tyler Buter) and Digital Z Tam (George Brennan) came away with the remainder. For Winter Blues, a 10-year-old Astreos gelding co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard and Kapildeo Singh, it was his fourth win in 16 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $14.40, with the triple returning $36.80. "Just an honest horse who raced very well," Sears said, though he was admittedly stumped when asked how many career marks he's put on 10-year-olds. Tuesday afternoon's $59,000 finale of the 'JND' for the ladies was won by that cone-skimming McEver as the longest shot on the board. ` Leaving from post No. 7 (in one notch after a defection), McEver had no choice but to watch the floor show taking place many lengths in front of her. It was pole-sitting Mikeleh (Dube) refusing to give up the baton, seating a reluctant 1-5 choice (part of entry) Grace Seelster (Brennan) and throwing down the gauntlet (:26.3, :55.4). First-up was Derek Delight (Sears), "Grace's" partner, but she couldn't sustain a bid toward a 1:24.1 three-quarters. So, Mikeleh owned a length-and-three-quarter lead into the lane. Grace Seelster took another shot, but she wasn't the problem. The problem was McEver, who saved every inch of ground, closed relentlessly (:27.4 individual final quarter) and actually won going away. The margin over Mikeleh was a length in a season's-best 1:53. Shawnee Dancer (Scott Zeron) rallied for third, with Grace Seelster and My Ideal Hanover (Buter) rounding out the payees. "I'd rather be lucky than good any day," MacDonald said. "Turning for home, I was hoping to get third, but she kicked it in and Danny's filly and mine were going in opposite directions. His came back to us and mine just took off." For McEver, a 7-year-old daughter of McArdle owned by Susan Oakes and trained by Chris Oakes, it was her fifth win in 14 '15 tries. The exacta paid $453, with the triple returning $4,784. The winner paid $116 to place, with show wagering barred. Frank Drucker

Louisville, KY --- He might not receive as much press as the sport’s top rated horse Bee A Magician or Elitloppet bound Wind Of The North, but Obrigado’s harness racing connections feel he possesses the ability and class to be one of the top older trotters of 2015. “He’s staked up to everything and is such an intelligent horse,” said Paul Kelley, who co-owns and conditions the 5-year-old gelding. “He never does anything wrong and is a cool horse to be around.” After an extended winter vacation, Obrigado will be making his third start of the season on Saturday (May 23) at Yonkers Raceway in a $42,000 Open Handicap. He will commence his journey from post position seven with Mark MacDonald at the lines in the fifth race on the card and is the 5-2 choice on the morning line. “He’s done very well at Yonkers and always gives a good account of himself,” Kelley said. “We are really looking forward to this season with him.” A Maine champion at age 2 and 3, Obrigado was bred by Mike Andrew of Gorham, Maine, and is a son of Boy Band and the Malabar Man mare Malimony. He is a full brother to Kanalla Bella 3,2:01h ($81,025), A Cappella Bella 3,2:01.4h ($85,060) and Iza Bella 4,1:58.3h ($232,295) and was purchased by Kelley, Linwood Higgins, Bill Weaver and Stable 45 at the 2013 Standardbred Mixed Sale for $53,000. The gelding is a very handsome horse and that is initially what caught Kelley’s eye. The fact that he reeled off 21 consecutive victories after finishing fourth and third in his first two starts certainly did not impair the acquisition either. Kelley always thought Obrigado would be a very nice addition to his barn, but was overjoyed by how well the gelding performed last year. He compiled a record of 21-9-7-1, set a track record of 1:52.3f at Tioga Downs and doubled his bankroll by earning $173,742. In his last race of 2014, the former Ivan Davies trainee illustrated he was a force to be reckoned with as he came home fourth behind Natural Herbie, Commander Crowe and Bee A Magician in the $250,000 International Trot Preview Invitational on Oct. 25 at Yonkers Raceway. “We were tickled to death to receive the last invitation and were anxious to see how he would perform against some of the top horses in the sport,” Kelley said. “He did much more than show he could hold his own and that race gave us notice that he belonged with those horses. Being from Maine, you never knew how he was going to measure up and when we bought him it was with the intention of having a nice horse for the upstate New York circuit. He is just so much more than that and everyone that comes in contact with him ends up becoming a fan. He is that kind of horse.” The gelding qualified twice this year on April 23 and April 30 before finishing second on May 9 in an Open Handicap at Yonkers. He was second again in the same class at the Hilltop on May 16. A triumph this weekend would bring his resume to an extremely consistent 47-31-9-2 and bring him closer to the $400,000 mark in career purse money (he is currently at $363,164). “We started off this year with some changes, as I am now stabled at Mark Ford’s training center,” Kelley said. “It is absolutely tremendous here and we made a great choice. Also, Mark MacDonald is at the barn every morning. He will be the one driving Obrigado now as he has done plenty of work with him and really likes the horse. I think he is an excellent fit and has definitely earned the drive by all the time he has spent with us. He also provides great feedback on how the horse is doing.” Although it is not yet June, Kelley is very excited to see exactly what Obrigado will accomplish. “Everyone always asks how he is doing and where he will be going,” Kelley said. “But we will just let him tell us how to proceed all year. It’s all up to him, but I have confidence in him. He could never let us down as he is so smart and gives more than 100 percent every time you lead him over. You never know what can happen from year to year, but we think he can improve upon last year and we hope to have a lot more fun with him this year.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Louisville, KY --- When it comes to Warrawee Needy, Mark Ford utters a sentence that anyone in this sport knows all too well in describing the stallion’s career. “Welcome to horse racing,” said his conditioner and co-owner. “We were literally drooling we had the first crack at buying him, but there has been the bad luck, the awful draws and the fact we have never been able to get him quite right. I thought we would have a terrific older free-for-all pacer and he can go so fast so quickly, but we just don’t know if he ever will be what he once was.” But the 6-year-old world champion son of E Dee’s Cam and the Apaches Fame mare Great Memories, appears to be regaining the form he flaunted at ages 2, 3 and 4, as he prepares to compete in a $50,000 second leg of the Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (March 28). Although that black cloud might still be hovering over him when it comes to where he will leave from, Warrawee Needy enters this race fresh off a 1:52.1 triumph in the first leg of the series last week, but will have to commence his journey from the seven post. His regular pilot, Mark MacDonald, will be holding the lines in what will be the eighth race on the evening card. Although he must contend with Foiled Again and Michael’s Power, Warrawee Needy, who is owned by Ford, his former trainer Carl Jamieson and David Shea, has earned the most money ($77,550) in the field this year and has already paced a 1:51.4h mile in 2015, as has Michael’s Power. Warrawee Needy has already nearly doubled what he earned last year ($41,540) and his record stands at an extremely acceptable 7-4-1-0. Could he quite possibly be back in the form that enabled him to pace a world record 1.46.4 mile as a 4-year-old? “This horse has been through so much and to be honest, he has kept me awake many nights,” Ford said. “He has been so frustrating and I’ve worried about him more than any other horse I have ever had. He has always shown flashes of brilliance and is such a nice horse to be around. He even looks the part of a racehorse, but we just don’t know how long he will stay together without getting sick.” Warrawee Needy has struggled with respiratory issues and allergies throughout his career. It has been difficult for Ford and his team to maintain his condition long enough for him to race consecutive weeks in a row. Toss in the horrible post positions the horse normally is allotted and it doesn’t make for a lucrative purchase for his connections. “I thought we would win the Breeders Crown with him in 2013,” Ford said. “But he stepped on a wheel and broke. It’s just been like that with him ever since. “We took him to Norm Ducharme at Cornell to look at him for throat surgery and he told us the sicknesses would not go away even if he performed the surgery. That is just something that happens with him and has to be managed. His groom takes such good care of him. She has her eye on him 24 hours and provides him with any treatment he needs, whether it be morning or night.” So why was Ford so thrilled to get his hands on this horse? It’s pretty simple. As a 2-year-old, Warrawee Needy earned $536,950 and sported a record of 12-9-1-1 while racing for Carl and Jody Jamieson. He was Canada’s 2-year-old pacing colt of the year. At age 3, he was still an elite horse in his division, but finished last as the second choice behind Sweet Lou after having the eight hole in the North America Cup, then ninth in the Canadian Breeders Classic after leaving from the 10 post position and was sixth as the favorite in his Breeders Crown elimination. Warrawee Needy still managed to amass just under $300,000. As a 4-year-old, Warrawee Needy kicked off his campaign with style against a fantastic group of older pacers. He was second in the Aquarius Series final, captured three straight Preferred contests at Woodbine and then was seventh in a TVG series leg after drawing the sixth spot on the gate. He then bounced back with a very nice second to Sweet Lou in the Meadowlands Maturity after both horses left from the nine and 10 positions. He was sixth in the Roll With Joe after leaving eighth at the gate and finally hit the winner’s circle again at Mohawk in the Mohawk Gold Cup. Once again, Warrawee Needy took the overland route by starting his race from the ninth post position. He then won his eliminations for both the William Haughton Memorial (in 1:46.4, equaling the fastest race mile of all-time) and the U.S. Pacing Championship while finishing fourth and sixth, respectively, in the finals. After being scratched from the Canadian Pacing Derby elimination, he qualified three times, once for Jamieson and then for Ford before not hitting the board in his Breeders Crown elimination and the final, as well as the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. Warrawee Needy ended his season with a third in the American-National, a second in a TVG leg and an eighth in the TVG final after once again drawing the nine hole. “We have taken a lot of criticism for how we have raced this horse,” Ford said. “Especially for some of the spots we put him in like the TVG final last year after dropping him in against non-winners of $5,000 at Pocono, but no one really understands unless they are in that position. He would qualify great then race awful or else draw very badly. “Until this year, he had never raced much on a half because it was always thought he couldn’t get around it, but it had never been tried. That’s when we decided to take him to Yonkers and he seemed to like it. It also helps that he seems to like to race on the front, which helps there and Mark MacDonald gets along with the horse because he can be tough to drive. He’s been a good fit for him.” Obviously Ford has no idea what the season has in store for Warrawee Needy and although he’s realistic about the horse’s health, he still had enough faith to keep him eligible for the top stakes races. “He’s paid into everything,” he said. “We will see how he does and if he stays healthy. When I compare him to Gallo Blue Chip, which he can be, it is so different. This horse has such an amazing turn of foot, where Gallo Blue Chip did not, he just was going along and so much better than the other horses he was racing against. Then he just decided he didn’t want to race anymore and he had enough. “This horse is fast enough, looks the part and I really believed he might be untouchable. Those are just the highs and lows of the game though and that’s what can happen in this industry.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 7, 2015 - Millionaire Warrawee Needy and harness racing driver Mark MacDonald, $20.80 finished what he started Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Open Handicap Pace. Getting the memo early from post position No. 3, Warrawee Needy worked around Sapphire City (Eric Carlson), then sat sail through early intervals of :27.1 and :56.3. Pancetta (Brian Sears), tepid 2-1 choice from the pole, advanced first-up from fourth He engaged "Needy" toward a 1:24.4 three-quarters, but the leader was up to the assignment. Warrawee Needy opened a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn, but Pancetta was quite done. His second effort ended up a neck short, as Warrawee Needy prevailed in 1:53. Mach's Beach Boy (Pat Lachance) closed crisply to grab third-beaten three-quarters of a length-with Sapphire City and Take it Back Terry (George Brennan) rounding out the payees. For fourth choice Warrawee Needy, a 6-year-old son of E Dee's Cam co-owned by (trainer) Mark Ford, Carl Jamieson and David Shea, it was his third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $115.50, with the triple returning $594 The Raceway's live season continues Sunday (post time 1 PM, move those clocks up). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM) and next Sunday, March 15 (post time 1:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (all provided Mother Nature cooperates). Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 28, 2014 - Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $21,000 harness racing featured fairer-sex pace was won by a cone-skimming Palm Patrol (Mark MacDonald, $34). Sitting third along the pylons from post position No. 2, Palm Patrol saw Sir Jillian Z Tam (Pat Lachance) seemingly in control through (:28, :58.1, 1:28.2). Getting no grief from a first-up Rock N Load (Jordan Stratton), "Jillian" owned a length-and-and-half lead into the lane, but was about to hit the wall. Cooking the Books (Eric Carlson) edged from the pocket, leaving the passing lane for Palm Patrol...and she did indeed pass. The latter whipped the former by a head in 1:54.3, with a closing Our Els Dream N (Jason Bartlett), Sir Jillian Z Tam and 3-2 favorite Road Bet (George Brennan) settling for the small change. For sixth choice Palm Patrol, a 5-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Robert Burgess and trained by Carmen Auciello, it was her sixth win (third consecutive) in 35 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $120, the triple returned $1,580 and the superfecta paid $10,524. Friday's Pick 5, which began with a carryover of $3,699.73, saw a new $10,781.52 invested. The winning combination of 4-4-7-5-2 returned $734.50 for every half-a-buck, not entirely bad for a sequence that included three winning favorites a one second choice. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule changes, with first post every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fourth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) this weekend at 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

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