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Freehold, NJ --- Obrigado might have a little Alfred E. Neuman in him. One gets the feeling after talking with the 7-year-old trotter’s regular driver, Mark MacDonald, that an appropriate caption under the horse’s photo would be “What -- me worry?” just the same as the cartooned Neuman on the cover of MAD magazine. Going back to July 2014, Obrigado has won 18 races. Excluding one victory in which he was second-placed-first, the gelding has won 11 of the remaining 17 by a half-length or less. And the vast majority of those triumphs, nine to be exact, were by a neck or less. Those 17 wins, by the way, were worth nearly $1 million. “He never overdoes it,” MacDonald said with a laugh. “He takes care of himself. He makes you kind of sweat it out a little bit. Me, not so much now, because I know him and I’m confident he’s always going to give you that last little lunge at the end. But I’m sure for Paul and the other owners watching it probably makes them a little nervous.” Paul is trainer Paul Kelley, who owns Obrigado with Lennart Agren’s SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and the multi-partner Stable 45. The group is preparing for more edge-of-your-seat excitement as Obrigado makes his seasonal debut in Saturday’s $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial Trot at Eldorado Scioto Downs in central Ohio. Hill was the founder of Scioto Downs and president of the track from 1959-1989. Obrigado, who received the 2016 Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter, is the 5-2 morning line favorite and will start from post one with MacDonald in the sulky. Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational winner Crazy Wow, starting from post eight with Chris Page at the lines for trainer Ron Burke, is the 4-1 second choice while 2015 Dan Patch Award honoree JL Cruze is 9-2 from post five with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. driving for Eric Ell. “That’s a pretty good group,” MacDonald said. “It should be a good race.” Last year, Obrigado won eight of 17 races and earned $873,300. He hit the board a total of 13 times and his victories included the Hill Memorial, TVG Free For All Series championship, Dayton Trotting Derby, Crawford Farms Trot, John Cashman Memorial, Cleveland Trotting Classic, and Maxie Lee Memorial. For MacDonald, the win in the Crawford Farms Trot exemplified Obrigado’s toughness and determination. Obrigado was in the outer flow in an opening quarter-mile of :26, cleared to the lead at the halfway point and then battled stride-for-stride with Resolve for nearly the final three-eighths of a mile before winning by a quarter-length in 1:51.2. “I think that was the best race last year, maybe the best race of his life since I’ve been driving him,” said MacDonald, who took over the driving duties behind Obrigado at the beginning of the horse’s 5-year-old season. “Man, that was a great race. They fought all the way down the stretch. Getting down by the wire Obi came back on and won. That was just a crazy mile. “He brings his lunch pail every night and goes to work. He’s tough. He’s got no quit in him. It’s kind of hard to give him a bad trip; I’ve been parked with him, I’ve been in bad spots with him, but he always gives 120 percent. He’s just a good horse. You look forward to his races. He’s always made a good account of himself.” MacDonald was happy to see Obrigado honored with a Dan Patch Award last year. Obrigado, who has won 42 of 79 career races and earned $1.62 million, was a star in Maine at ages 2 and 3 before being sold to the New York-based Kelley and partners in November 2013. “That was cool,” MacDonald said. “I was really happy for Paul and the owners. He was so good all year. I think maybe winning the TVG at the end of the year put him over the top, but to me he had such a great year. He won so many big races and he showed up to work every night. “You have to give Paul credit. I think he protected (Obrigado) a lot as a 4-year-old. He kept him out of the spotlight, away from the Grand Circuit horses. He kind of aimed for him to peak as an older horse and the patience paid off. He let him mature and grow into his own and he turned into a great aged racehorse.” Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. at Scioto Downs and the Hill Memorial is race eight, with an 8:50 p.m. estimated post time. Following is the field for the Hill Memorial. Post-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1 - Obrigado - Boy Band - Mark MacDonald-Paul Kelley-5/2  2 - Natural Herbie - Here Comes Herbie - Verlin Yoder-Verlin Yoder-8/1 3 - Musical Rhythm - Cantab Hall - Peter Wrenn-Benoit Baillargeon-15/1   4 - Hemi Seelster - Holiday Road - Brent Holland-Richard Banca-10/1   5 - JL Cruze - Crazed - Ronnie Wrenn Jr.-Eric Ell-9/2   6 - Centurion ATM - SJ's Caviar - Aaron Merriman-Ake Svanstedt-10/1   7 - Muscle Diamond - Muscle Hill - John Campbell-Brett Bittle-15/1   8 - Crazy Wow - Crazed - Chris Page-Ron Burke-4/1   9 - Homicide Hunter - Mr Cantab - Tyler Smith-Chris Oakes-12/1   10 - Major Athens - Andover Hall - Jody Jamieson-Jeffrey Gillis-6/1  Major Athens starts in the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

YONKERS, NY, Friday, May 19, 2017 - A pocketed Lispatty (Mark MacDonald, $31.60) stalked and subdued a harness racing season-debuting Pure Country (Brett Miller) Friday night (May 19th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $55,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. On paper, it was a stacked sewing circle, decreased by one when Matchmaker conqueror (and this week's eight-hole assignee) Mackenzie A was a late-for-Lasix scratch. On the track, however, it was a nothing more than a two-speed number, with millionairess Pure County sent off a in her first Westchester appearance. From post position No. 5, the 4-5 fave easily worked around her pole-sitting rival before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. From there, it was a :56.4 intermission and 1:24.2 three-quarters, with Medusa (George Brennan) offering a weak, first-up try and third and the backfield gapping badly. Pure Country owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but Lispatty edged inside and edged by. The margin was a neck in a season's-best 1:52.3. Delightful Dragon (Brent Holland) was third as the 53-1 rank outsider, with Mach it a Par (Brian Sears) and Medusa rounding out the payees. For sixth choice Lispatty, a 4-year-old daughter of McArdle owned by Gilberto Garcia-Owen and trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, it was her second win in 11 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $114.50, with the triple returning $924. Lispatty Nerida Franco N Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, March 19, 2017-Aggressive (Mark MacDonald, $9.80) angled off the cones and was up at the wire Sunday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway's $68,000 Open Trot. Starting from the pylons in the field of nine (the infamous 10-hole was scratched). Aggressive minded his manners as the lass Allerage Star (Andy Miller) left over Lady's Dude (George Brennan), and wasn't in too much of a hurry (:29.1, :59). Hemi Seelster (Jason Bartlett), as the slight 7-2 favorite from the second tier, then offered some mild heat. The one came first-up from fifth toward a 1:28.1 three-quarters, but never serious challenged, Allerage Star had the lead at the 1:57 milepost, with a length-and-a-half advantage in and out of the final turn. It was about the juncture when Aggressive extricated himself from the cones. He and Lady's Dude-who appeared to duck into the passing lane a lap earlier-provided Allerage Star with unwanted company from both flanks. Lady's Dude did so again this time, but was outgamed by Aggressive, who earned the schnoz decision in 2:27.1 for the mile-and-one-quarter. Allerage Star was third, beaten a neck, with a traffic-troubled Luck O the Irish (Jordan Stratton) and Hemi Seelster rounding out the payees. The five payees were separated by just a length-and-three-quarters at the wire. For third choice Aggressive, a 6-year-old Kadabra gelding trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera for owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen, it was his third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $130, the triple returned $510 and the superfecta paid $1,535. This was the final Sunday card until the end of May, and also the last 'New York, New York Double' until then (when Aqueduct becomes Belmont). Sunday's winning combination of 1-Lakeside Sunset (Aqueduct's 3rd race) and 7-Not Afraid (Yonkers' 6th race) paid $20 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $5,745. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 22, 2016 -- Regil Elektra and harness racing driver Mark MacDonald found a late lane Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $45,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. It looked bleak for our heroine as the race unfolded. From post position No. 2, she found herself trapped in three-hole as Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton) led through early intervals of 27-flat and :55.2. Skippin' By (George Brennan) was pocketed from the pole as the 9-10 choice when Secrets Out N (Jason Bartlett) went up and over the leader before the 1:23.2 three-quarters. That one opened a couple of lengths entering the lane, but just failed to close the sale. Bettor N Better (Tyler Buter), at 25-1, closed widest and--apparently--fastest. That is until Regil Elektra was able to get off the cones, then angle back inside and whip 'BnB' by a neck in a season's-best 1:52.1 Secrets Out N, Sell a Bit N and no-excuse Skippin' By rounded out the payees. For sixth choice Regil Elektra, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Fred Montelone Stable and trained by Keith Armer, it was her seventh win in 24 seasonal starts. Her lifetime earnings are now $627,000. The exacta paid $330, with the triple returning $1,340. Frank Drucker

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- What's Goin On probably had the harness racing fans asking that exact question as he shocked the field in his $36,567 division of the New York Sire Stakes for the 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night (July 20).   In covering the mile in 1:56.4, the fastest of the three divisions, What's Goin On (Mark MacDonald) paid a handsome $37.60 to his faithful backers.   In other Sire Stakes action, driver Jody Jamieson took Windsong Napoleon straight to the lead and never looked back in registering an easy 6-1/4 length triumph over Twin B Cowboy (Jim Morrill Jr.) in 1:57.2 while the heavily-favored Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley) avoided disaster down the backstretch and was able to track down the pace-setting Americanfirewater (Jamieson) in 1:57.3.   The winners were short of the track records of He's Watching (1:55.4) set for the colts in 2013 and Roadside Delight (1:56.3) established in 2010 for the geldings.   In the most shocking result of the night, What's Goin On led from the start and put up respectable splits of 29.4, 59.4 and 1:29.1. The Mark Harder-trainee had plenty left in the tank for the last quarter mile as he paced home in 27.3 to hold off any late threats. This Is My Song (Jamieson) finished in second while Offdahook Bluechip (Kakaley) finished in third.   Owned by Rick Phillips, the VIP Internet Stable, Deanna Frost and Mark Harder, it was the first victory for What's Goin On (Roll With Joe-Shipps Xclamation).   In the first leg, Windsong Napoleon was able to set fractions of 29.4, 59.3 and 1:29.1 and used a final panel of 28.1 in going gate-to-wire in disposing of Twin B Cowboy and third place finisher America's Fleet (Mark MacDonald).   Owned by trainer Carl Jamieson, Thomas Kyron and Douglas Good, Windsong Napoleon (Art Major-Bunny Dearest) now has two victories in four career tries, earning $26,879.   In the other bracket, Miso Fast ($2.30) was fortunate to avoid trouble heading to the three-quarter pole and used a 27.4 last split to collar Americanfirewater in 1:57.3. Willie Joe Hall (Pat Lachance) took the show position.   Going first over down the backstretch, Miso Fast and a heads up Kakaley were able to swing wide and avoid the pocket-sitting Outkast Blue Chip who broke stride and scattered the field.   In the home stretch, Americanfirewater could feel the pressure being applied by Miso Fast in the lane and could do nothing but helplessly watch.   Miso Fast (Roll With Joe-Sakura Hanover) is trained by Ron Burke and is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stable and the J&T Silva Stable. It was his second straight Sire Stakes victory, now a winner of $39,896 in just two lifetime appearances.   Morrill Jr. took a pair of $15,000 Excelsior A Series events. He guided Funknwaffles ($2.50) to a 1:57.4 victory and Serious Major ($2.70) to a 1:59.1 decision. In the other leg, Percy's Z Tam ($4.60) found the winner's circle with a 2:00.0 score with Lachance in the bike.   Sargeant Reckless was a popular $4.20 winner in the $6.500 Excelsior B Series as Morrill Jr. steered him to a 2:01 victory. Watch Me Fly ($5.00) took the other division in 2:01.3 with Kevin Cummings aboard.   There were two divisions of the Claiming Championship Series contested with Fresh Squeezed ($4.50) posting a 1:56.1 victory for Kakaley in the $14,800 finale for filly and mare pacers ($8,000-$12,500).   In the $10,000 championship event for the distaff pacers ($4,000-$7,000), Mystical Danica ($3.20) cruised to a 1:57.2 victory under the guidance of Cummings.   Princess Katie (Ray Fisher Jr.) toured the Buffalo Raceway half-mile oval in 1:55.2 to capture the $9,500 Open Pace for the filly and mares. She returned $4.20 for the victory.   The final week of racing will continue on Friday night at Buffalo Raceway with 10 races going to the post at 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Straight A Student ($3.10) and Fad Finance ($3.50) took their respective $60,200 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes and tied the Buffalo Raceway track record for 3-year-old filly trotters in doing so with times of 1:58.2 over the fast track on Sunday afternoon (July 17).   The clocking equaled the mark of 1:58.2 established in 2015 by High Rise.   In the opening leg, Straight A Student (Mark MacDonald) got a perfect trip and won the cavalry charge down the stretch to register a head victory over Lindylicious (Kevin Cummings). Goosebump Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) took the show position.   At the start, Straight A Student parked Goosebump Hanover to the quarter pole before finally relinquishing the lead. From there, Goosebump Hanover was in command until the top of the stretch when Straight A Student came charging down the passing lane and Lindylicious attacked from the outside.   It was a blanket finish with Straight A Student getting the head win over Lindylicious while Goosebump Hanover was just a neck back.   "I just wanted to make it around the first turn," MacDonald said in getting Straight A Student to the winner's circle. "I knew if I followed Goosebump Hanover around the track, I'd be where I wanted to be in the end."   Straight A Student (Credit Winner-Smarter Than Smart) as been playing second fiddle for much of the season as she has had five runner up finishes in her seven starts. "She's trotted some big miles this season and finally got the win," MacDonald added.   Trained by Paul Kelley, Straight A Student pushed her seasonal earnings to $71,885 and $93,675 lifetime.   In the second division, Fad Finance was ready to roll midway down the backstretch the final time but had to wait for racing room before rallying late to nip Monarchs Sequel (MacDonald) by a nose. Swinging Royalty (Chris Lems) secured the show position.   Fad Finance had nowhere to go heading to the three-quarter marker as the pace-setting Swinging Royalty and the first-over Monarchs Sequel had her boxed in along the pylons.   In the race for the wire, Fad Finance found some wiggle room and just got up in time to take the nose victory.   "I did all I could do to keep her in the two hole," Morrill Jr. said of Fad Finance's journey. "If I could have gotten her free down the backstretch, we probably would have won by five lengths."   Trained by Trond Smedshammer, it was the third victory of the year for Fad Finance (Credit Winner-Armbro Vanity). The win pushed her seasonal bankroll to $83,038 and $129,988 in her career.   Fruition ($5.10) was the fastest in the $15,000 Excelsior A Series with a 2:00.0 victory which gave MacDonald a double while Kevin Cummings drove Outside Court ($7.30) to a 2:00.4 win.   Shawn McDonough swept both of the $6,600 Excelsior B Series as he was aboard Catalina Cash ($6.60) and Barn Diva ($10.40). Catalina Cash covered the mile in 2:02.0 while Barn Diva toured the Buffalo Raceway half-mile oval in 2:03.1.   Morrill Jr. took top honors on the day in the bike as he posted five wins.   The final week of the 2016 season at Buffalo Raceway will start on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. with a 12-race card scheduled. The New York Sire Stakes will kick off closing week as the 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers will be in action.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - As a general rule, investing in half-mile track eight-hole trotters is not the soundest handicapping philosophy. Sometimes, however, the risk-reward equation gets tossed on its ear. It was Tuesday afternoon, courtesy of Military Blue (Mark MacDonald), who lit up Yonkers Raceway's tote board to the tune of a $229.50 win mutuel. Beating only a lone breaker early in the $25,000 sixth race, Military Blue improved steadily, eventually operating from second over. Widest turning for home, he not only won, he did so going away. Military Blue defeating pace-setting, odds-on favorite Capt. Serious (Scott Zeron) by a couple of lengths in 1:57.1. Lindylicious (George Brennan) was third. The upsetter, a 4-year-old Lucky Chucky gelding co-owned by (trainer) David Hoover and Albert Abdala III, is now 2-for-11 this season. He led a $575 exacta and $1,970 triple. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Obrigado avenged last year's Cleveland Trotting Classic defeat with an impressive track record victory on Saturday (July 2). Last year's runner-up trotted like he had something to prove and bested his competition by 5 ¾-lengths. Obrigado ($3.40) started from the rail. He floated off the gate and two rivals were ahead of him at the 1/8-pole. Once the field was set, driver Mark MacDonald quarter-moved Obrigado. He took the lead just past the :27.2 opening quarter and never experienced an anxious moment the rest of the mile. He led his rivals through times of :56, 1:25 and 1:53.2. "He (Obrigado) is really sharp right now. I got him to the front and let things play out from there," said MacDonald. "Once this horse is near the lead, he does the rest." The 1:53.2 clocking replaces the 1:54.1 time of Kirty Dream (Aaron Merriman) as the fastest trotting mile ever on the Flying Turns for a five year-old and up gelded trotter. Kirty Dream's mark has held since 2014. Saturday's win is Obrigado's fourth win this year and 38th lifetime score, increasing his bankroll to $1,109,749 for owners Paul Kelley Racing Stable, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45. Completing the $180,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic were Muscle Up The Goal, Shake It Cerry, Il Sogno Dream, Maestro Blue Chip, Homicide Hunter and Like Old Times. "This is a great horse to drive. I love driving for Paul Kelley, and his owners are extremely patient," explained Mac Donald. "It is very meaningful to win races for guys like them." by Ayres Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Northeast Ohio's premier trotting race, the Cleveland Trotting Classic, will go to post Saturday (July 2) at Northfield Park. This will be the second edition of the Classic and it carries a purse of $180,000. The Grand Circuit event has attracted some of the best veteran trotters in North America. It has been slated as the 11th event on a 15-race program. First race post time is 6 p.m. 1-Obrigado, runner-up in this event last year, draws the rail for his return. He has been victorious in 37 of 68 career races, including a 21 race win streak earlier in his career. He has lifetime earnings of $1,019,749 and a 1:51.3 (M 1) mark taken last year. Although entering this event off a third place finish in the $200,000 Cutler Memorial, Obrigado has three wins in six races this year. Those wins include the $200,000 Maxie Lee at Harrah's Philadelphia and the $210,000 Charlie Hill Memorial at Scioto Downs. The six year-old is owned by Paul Kelley Racing Stable, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45. He is conditioned by Paul Kelley. Canadian native Mark MacDonald has been named to steer. 2-Homicide Hunter was sired my Mr Cantab and is owned by Michelle Crawford and Albert Crawford. With 20 career victories, he has been a model of consistency, finishing in the top three 29 of his 33 lifetime starts. He enters the Classic in very good form, just equaling his 1:51.4 lifetime mark in a $54,000 stake race on June 18 at The Meadows. That victory bolstered his career bankroll to $609,513. Christopher Oakes trains the four year-old gelding. Dave Palone, winner of more races than any driver in harness racing history, has been named to drive this 4-1 morning-line competitor. 3-Shake It Cerry has been named the 2-1 morning-line favorite. She is the richest in this year's field, sporting career earnings of $2,547,962. She has 50 lifetime starts and 28 career victories, including the $500,000 Breeders Crown in 2014. She is a five year-old daughter of Donato Hanover with a lifetime mark of 1:51.2 (Lex 1). Shake It Cerry is trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Solveig's Racing Partners. Ronnie Wrenn Jr, Northfield Park's leading driver, has been given the driving assignment. 4-Il Songno Dream is one of two starters in this race from the powerful Christopher Beaver Stable. He has won 17, and been on the board in 32 of 54 career races. He has two runner-up finishes this year in three efforts. This five year-old son of Cantab Hall has career earnings of $803,077. His 1:50.2 (Lex 1) lifetime mark is the fastest in this race. Canadian Trevor Henry comes to drive this 10-1 morning line selection. 5-Muscle Up The Goal enters this race for owner Synerco Ventures, Inc. He is the second entrant in this field for trainer Christopher Beaver. 2015 Dash Driving Champion Aaron Merriman has been given the driving assignment for tonight's outing. The four year-old has already won three times in five tries this year and has won eight of 24 starts lifetime. He earned his 1:52 mark at The Meadows this year in a $20,000 Preferred event. In May of this year, Muscle Up The Goal broke the Northfield Park trotting record and a world record for four year-old trotting horses in 1:52.3. This son of Muscle Mass has lifetime earnings of $257,896. He carries an 8-1 morning line. 6-Maestro Blue Chip is owned by Richard Poillucci and trained by Jo Ann Looney-King. The four year-old enters this race off a 1:53.4 win on June 12 in the $75,000 Graduate at Tioga Downs. He has a total of 25 career starts with 13 triumphs, but has blossomed this year, winning 11 of 12 outings. He earned a 1:51.3 (M 1) lifetime mark just three races ago and has career earnings of $270,173. Victor Kirby has been named to drive this 6-1 morning-line starter. 7-Like Old Times was the 2015 Ohio Horse of the Year. She enters this race off two consecutive local victories, including a 1:55 track record performance and lifetime mark. This daughter of Chip Chip Hooray is owned by Keith Ross and trained on the Flying Turns by Northfield Park Wall of Famer and Ohio Trotmaster Don McKirgan. Like Old Times has 17 victories in 34 starts and has $343,350 in earnings. Ryan Stahl has been named to drive this 25-1 longshot. 8-Boffin, 25-1, enters off a runner-up finish in a $25,000 Open event at Scioto Downs. He has a 1:51.1 (PcD 5/8) lifetime mark and career earnings of $340,127. This son of Donato Hanover has won 28 of 85 career starts. Anette Lorentzon trains Boffin for owners ACL Stuteri AB, Kjell Johansson and Karin Lorentzon. Jason Merriman has been given the driving assignment. This year's Classic program undercard is highlighted by three $20,000 Open events. One features Foiled Again, the richest horse in the history of harness racing and a three-time Battle of Lake Erie winner. The Opens and the Trotting Classic comprise the evening's Pick-4, which carries a $10,000 guaranteed pool. In addition to superior racing action, the 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 an array of free fanfare activities. These attractions include a free Northfield Park ball cap for the first 1,500 patrons, a t-shirt toss from the winner's circle by the successful driver of each race, country band Six String Cowboy performing on the apron from 6-10 p.m., spinning of the Northfield Park Prize Wheel for free cash and prizes from 8-9 p.m., and some of Northeast Ohio's favorite food trucks on the grandstand apron from 6-10 p.m. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

East Rutherford, NJ - The $200,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial will see seven of the top harness racing older trotters currently racing convene at The Meadowlands to contest the 19th renewal of the Grand Circuit stake on Friday, June 24.   Mr. Cutler was a popular and successful Manhattan restaurateur. His empire of restaurants began in 1990 with Carmines (still a popular Italian family style venue) and grew to embrace several cuisines such as Ollie's Noodle Shop, Gabriela's Mexican and Virgil's BBQ. A Virgil's location is set to be opened soon by Mr. Cutler's longtime friend Jeff Gural as part of the renovations at Tioga Downs.   On the track (race 7) it's a quality over quantity field that includes Obrigado, who will seek to make it three consecutive memorial trots having annexed the Charlie Hill and Maxie Lee in his last two starts. A winner 37 times in 67 career starts, Obrigado is now less than $4,000 from the coveted million dollar mark in career earnings. Trainer Paul Kelley shares ownership of the classy veteran with the SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45 and Mark MacDonald will be in to drive.   Resolve is making his first start back state-side for Ake Svanstedt after an impressive showing in the Elitlopp last month where he finished second in that final to Nuncio.   JL Cruze will return to his favorite track as he searches for the form that made him virtually invincible in his award winning season of one year ago.   The Burke Stable has drawn posts one and two with Crazy Wow and Gural Hanover. Wind Of The North and Flanagan Memory are both accomplished trotters who add class and form to the contentious field.   Post time on Friday is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, June 20, 2016-"Anything you can do, I can do...just as well."  Friday night, harness racing driver Jason Bartlett won six of Yonkers Raceway's 11 races, including that evening's feature with Krispy Apple. Saturday night, Mark MacDonald won six of Yonkers Raceway's 11 races, including both of that evening's co-features with Sunfire Blue Chip and Aggressive. With the six-pack gauntlet having been thrown down-twice-perhaps a third driver can join to form a "devilish" troika. For now, though, Messrs. Bartlett and MacDonald own the bragging rights. The pair entered Monday night ranked first (276 wins) and sixth (83), respectively, in local standings. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, June 18, 2016 - "I don't think I have anything left to say." Such was the post mortem of one harness racing driver Mark MacDonald Saturday night after winning six of Yonkers Raceway's 11 races. One night after Jason Bartlett won a happy half-dozen, MacDonald picked up that gauntlet, including taking both halves of the night's $45,000 co-features in his best-ever local work night. MacDonald chauffeured favored Sunfire Blue Chip ($5) to a down-the-road victory in the Open Handicap Pace (1:51.2). "Sunfire," from position No. 4, defeated a pocket-sitting Doctor Butch (Dan Dube) a by length, with Artistic Major (Jason Bartlett) a good, two-move third. While the pacing result was predictable, the featured trot was not so much. MacDonald and pole-assigned Aggressive ($38) edged past E R Ellie (Jordan Stratton) by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.3. Undercover Strike (Bartlett) was a steppy third, while just-over-even-money fave Luminosity (George Brennan) was a non-factor sixth. MacDonald's first win of the evening was behind a first-up Northview Punter A ($11.40) in the $18,000, second-race pace (1:52.1). He then lasted on the lead with Forty Five Red ($7) in the $22,000, fifth-race pace (1:52). After putting the two features to bed, MacDonald then swept the $591 late double with Summers Windsong ($59) in the $26,000, 10th- race trot (1:54.4), and a pocketed Sapphire City ($25.60) in the $22,000, 11th-race pace (1:52.2). Not even the MacDonald Fan Club deciphered the Saturday Pick 5, so Monday night's gimmick begins with a carryover of $2,424.39 (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11). Frank Drucker

In 2014, Michael Pozefsky watched a horse he bred --- Resolve --- race in the Hambletonian Stakes. This year, he hopes to watch a horse he bred and owns compete in the $1 million harness racing event. Pozefsky and Edward Wilson bred The Royal Harry, who on Sunday races in the $222,975 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs in upstate New York. The colt, whose family includes two Hambletonian winners and a Hambletonian Oaks champion, is now owned by Pozefsky and his brother, William. The Royal Harry has won two of six career races and hit the board a total of five times, earning $32,030. He has a win and a second-place finish this season, with his victory coming in 1:55.1 in a conditioned race June 10 at Vernon Downs. He was second to Sir Royson in his first start, which came in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs. Sir Royson, the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Empire Breeders Classic, won by a half-length in 1:54. "He won against a lesser crew at Vernon last week, but we just needed another race to try to be ready for this week," Pozefsky said. "His first start, it was a good line, but he got a good trip and he got a good drive. I wasn't expecting to go that much, but he did, which was terrific." The Royal Harry, trained by Ake Svanstedt, raced only four times last season. He had a win and two second-place finishes, but was shut down in early October to prepare for this year. "He was a big colt," Pozefsky said. "Instead of rushing him into it, the Svanstedt Stable decided to bring him along at a slower pace, which was fine with us. We had higher hopes, but he got to a point where he was going about the same and we decided to bring him back as a 3-year-old and hope that he improved substantially. It appears he has, but we'll know a lot more about that after the Breeders Classic." Wilson and Pozefsky bred and raced The Royal Harry's dam, Wilsonator, who enjoyed success on the Ontario circuit and finished fourth in the 2010 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly trotters. The family also includes Hambletonian winners Emily's Pride and Spencer Scott and Hambletonian Oaks champion Keystone Pioneer. Pozefsky and Wilson also shared the breeding credit for Resolve, who finished fifth in the 2014 Hambletonian. The two breeders take turns naming their horses and Wilson named The Royal Harry, a son of RC Royalty, after Pozefsky's son Harry, who is now 29. The Royal Harry was put through the Standardbred Horse Sale in 2014, where the Pozefskys bought back the yearling for $100,000. "He's just part of the family," Pozefsky said. "We liked him a lot. It was kind of an easy decision. The dam was a fine mare and this is her second foal. Her first foal (Muscle Hill-sired Hillsonator) is racing well in Canada." The Royal Harry is one of two Hambletonian eligible horses in the Empire Breeders Classic, along with George Ducharme-trained Reve Royale. Pozefsky hopes The Royal Harry can continue to make strides and find himself at the Meadowlands on Aug. 6 for the Hambletonian. "He's got to find some real additional time," Pozefsky said, "but surely that's the dream." The Royal Harry will start the Empire Breeders Classic from post No. 1 with Mark MacDonald in the sulky. He is 5-1 on the morning line. Svanstedt will drive Dexter Cup winner Dante, who is 9-2 from post nine. Sir Royson will start from post seven with Jim Marohn Jr. driving for trainer Linda Toscano and owner R-And-I Farms. A homebred son of Crazed-Leibovitz Hanover, Sir Royson has won five of nine career races and earned $84,722. Sunday's card at Vernon Downs also features the $234,375 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old female trotters. The entry of Earn Your Wings and Straight A Student is the 2-1 morning line favorite. Earn Your Wings, from the stable of trainer Anette Lorentzon, and Straight A Student, from the stable of trainer Paul Kelley, are coupled because of common ownership. by Ken Weingartner

On a steamy Saturday (June 11) evening at Scioto Downs, Obrigado fended off the late charge of track record holder and harness racing world champion Natural Herbie to claim the trophy for the $210,000 Charlie Hill Memorial Trot. The 6-year-old gelding, piloted by regular reinsman Mark MacDonald, was the beneficiary of a perfect pocket trip, which the duo parlayed into a powerful 1:53.3 score. “He is just such a great horse,” said MacDonald. “You can do anything you want with him and all he wants to do is win. For some reason, I’m not sure why, we just get along. Tonight you could not have asked for a better position and then he did all the rest.” Leaving from post six, the gelded son of Boy Band and the Malabar Man mare Malimony, settled into second behind the leader and recent world champion Muscle Up The Goal. Content to allow the hometown favorite and the public’s selection at 4-5 to set the pace, Obrigado simply followed that rival around the Columbus oval behind fractions of :27.1, 57.3 and 1:25.3 before he was pulled out of the pocket at the top of the stretch to commence his drive to the wire with a :27.4 final panel. Obrigado glided by Muscle Up The Goal and completed his victorious journey to the wire seemingly well in hand. Natural Herbie placed pressure on the property of conditioner Paul Kelley, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and Stable 45, however, his first over bid rendered him unable to match strides with the victor. Flanagan Memory, the 2013 O’Brien Award winner, closed from eighth to nab the show spot. Sent off at odds of 3-1, Obrigado paid his supporters $8.20. Natural Herbie, dismissed at 22-1, provided $14.40 to place and Flanagan Memory at 9-1 offered $7.40 to show. The exacta was $68 and the trifecta a generous $475.80. “I could not have asked for a trip around this track that was any better,” MacDonald said. “It was like a dream and honestly, I was shocked it worked out that well for us. I knew Natural Herbie was coming down on us and I respect him because he is such a nice horse, but my horse had the advantage off how this race set up. This was a very strong group of horses and it is a great win for us.” A Maine champion as a freshman and sophomore, Obrigado is the pride of Kelley’s stable and rightfully so, as the horse has now banked enough from his career record of 67-37-14-6, including this evening’s purse, to be roughly $4,000 shy of millionaire status. Purchased by Kelley, who was drawn to what an exemplary physical specimen he is, for $53,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Mixed Sale, Obrigado has been a winning machine before and after leaving the confines of his home state. Although Kelley shied away from top competition at age four, he placed the horse with the elite of his division last year as a 5-year-old and he has excelled. In 2015 he earned $405,535 with a record of 4-6-3 from 18 trips to the gate and knocked heads with all the best trotters currently competing in the sport. This year Obrigado has trotted five miles with three victories, one second and one third. Despite it being only June, the gelding has already collected just under $250,000 in purse money. The win in this Grand Circuit event is the second consecutive triumph for Obrigado in 2016 and comes immediately subsequent to his huge victory in the $200,000 Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 29. “I think he is even better than last year,” MacDonald said. “It is like he is in a zone and in peak form. It was not like he was bad by any means last year. He is a very smart horse that does nothing wrong and I think this season is going to be very fun with him and might be his best yet. “Paul (Kelley) wanted me to drive him as a 4-year-old, but circumstances did not work out to enable me to. Paul protected him and kept him up at Saratoga that year so he did not have to face many of the best trotters. I think that strategy is working out now, as he is so sharp and I know I can count on him for many more appearances in big races this season. Paul has really done a tremendous job with this horse and the horse himself just has all the tools. There is no denying he is right there with the best racing right now and he continues to make me very happy.” by Kimberly French, USTA Internet News Editor

CHESTER, Pa. --- Most people might be unhappy to see clouds block out the sun on their Memorial Day weekend, but harness racing driver Montrell Teague couldn't have been more overjoyed. Teague drives Wiggle It Jiggleit, a horse who has a penchant for jumping shadows on the racetrack. So when Teague saw the clouds roll in moments before heading onto the track for Wiggle It Jiggleit's start in Sunday's $200,000 Dorothy Mullin Invitational for older male pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia, he was relieved. And under the cover of those clouds, Wiggle It Jiggleit went out and paced the fastest mile in the 11-year history of Harrah's Philadelphia, stopping the timer in 1:47.3 as he captured the Mullin Invitational by 1-3/4 lengths over early pacesetter Rockin Ron. Rockeyed Optimist finished third. "When I warmed him up, he jumped over a couple (shadows); that would have been another obstacle to overcome," Teague said. "The shadows were out pretty good until we went out, so it worked out perfect. The clouds worked out in our favor." The previous fastest mile at Harrah's Philadelphia was 1:48, a mark shared by Artistic Fella and Mister Big. The time was one-fifth of a second off the world record for a 4-year-old gelding pacer on a five-eighths-mile oval. "He's done so many races and all of them are spectacular, it's hard to pick one that stands out," Teague said after the 4-year-old Wiggle It Jiggleit won for the 29th time in 36 career races and increased his lifetime earnings to $2.57 million. "This is right up there with all the big ones, I think. "I thought I could have gone faster, but if I'm already in front I just want to look back and see where they are and start celebrating." Also on Sunday's card at Harrah's Philadelphia, Obrigado won the $200,000 Maxie Lee Memorial for older trotters by a neck over Il Sogno Dream in 1:52 and Venus Delight won the $200,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers by 2-1/2 lengths over Katie Said in 1:50.4. Wiggle It Jiggleit, harness racing's 2015 Horse of the Year, has won six of nine races this season and finished no worse than second in any start. He entered the Mullin Invitational off a track-record win in the Battle of Lake Erie on May 21 at Northfield Park. In the Mullin, Wiggle It Jiggleit found himself in second place behind Confederation Cup champion Rockin Ron. Teague and the 1-2 favorite made their move to challenge Rockin Ron just after reaching the race's midpoint and battled side-by-side around the final turn. From there, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced away from his rivals to post the victory for owners George Teague Jr., who is Montrell's father, and the Teague Racing Partnership. Wiggle It Jiggleit is trained by Clyde Francis. "It was unbelievable," Montrell Teague said. "I thought there might be a few more horses leave and I'd have to take back a little further, but when you've got a two hole you've got to take advantage of it. I saw a horse coming on the outside of me and I didn't want to get locked in. I was just playing my part and seeing what was going to go on and trying to be out before anyone got outside of me." Wiggle It Jiggleit's next start is expected to be Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack in the second round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers. In the Maxie Lee, Obrigado held off Il Sogno Dream after even-money favorite JL Cruze went off stride in the final turn. Also going off stride in the race were Shake It Cerry and Gural Hanover. Morning line favorite Bee A Magician was scratched earlier in the day because of an unspecified injury. It was Obrigado's second win in four races this year. The 6-year-old gelding has won 36 of 66 career starts and earned $891,229. Obrigado is owned by the Paul Kelley Racing Stable, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and Stable 45. He is trained by Kelley and was driven by Mark MacDonald. "I thought his effort was great," Kelley said. "I don't think he ever got ahold of the racetrack, to my liking anyway, but he's a game horse and he just gives 110 percent every time you put him on the track. All the horses that race at this level are just tremendous athletes, and he overcame it. "His year has been really good. We dealt with some issues last year with his front feet stinging him and I think we have a better handle on what he likes and what he doesn't like. Hopefully he's going to have a really good year." Then with a laugh, Kelley added, "I need a retirement plan and I don't have one right now; not a good enough one. So this could be it." In the Betsy Ross, Venus Delight and driver Tim Tetrick rallied from midpack to overtake Katie Said in the stretch and post her first win in nine races this year. The 6-year-old mare was the Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer in 2015. "If you're going to get a first win of the year, this is a good one to get," winning trainer Jeff Bamond Jr. said. "I think she just came back a little slowly. She had a long year last year; she raced hard and just needed to get her legs under her a little bit. This definitely worked out today. "Timmy made a great move and she just exploded today. I was very happy with the way it worked out." Venus Delight, sent off at 9-1 odds in the Betsy Ross, has won 26 of 71 career races and earned $993,523. She is owned by Bamond Racing. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

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

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