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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

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, November 25, 2014-We're not suggesting Canadian Mark MacDonald isn't a fan of American Thanksgiving, but no one could blame the guy if he'd rather be working. MacDonald has caught fire late in Yonkers Raceway's season, as evidenced by three wins each this past Friday, Saturday and Monday nights. "I think a lot of it has to with the fact I'm here every night," MacDonald said. "I'd been going to Pocono, which is closed for the season, and occasionally to the Meadowlands. The trainers know I'm going to be around, and I'm getting a lot more live horses. "Also, if I have one that draws poorly or may be in tough one week, I have a better chance of keeping the drive the next time." Those who have invested in MacDonald have been handsomely rewarded. Among his winners since the middle of the month have been Mister Anson ($43), Theseyesrcrying ($32.40), Frame Worthy ($31), Don't Stare ($28), Brenway Dixie ($22.80), Giddy Up Delight ($21.60), Mr. Coolie ($18), Upfront Countryboy ($17.80), and Duel in the Sun ($12). MacDonald, who turns 36 next month, was twice lauded with an O'Brien Award as Canada's leading driver. The Charlottetown, PEI, native was among the leaders on the WEG circuit for a decade. He relocated stateside early in 2012, looking for a change of venue after a series of career-threatening injuries. MacDonald has career totals of more than 5,400 wins and $71 million in purses. He's currently deadlocked for 10th in the local standings with 67 wins, but only one name on the leader board (Pat Lachance, also with 67 wins) has fewer drives. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule is in play through Dec. 14, with first post every Monday, Thursday (save for Thanksgiving Night), 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 nighttime programs, with afternoon simulcasting (including an early Turkey Day opening) available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Vernon Downs held harness racing Finals in eight divisions of the New York Excelsior "A" Series on Saturday night with purses totaling $360,000.   The 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings were first up and provided an 11-1 upset with Commissioner Daley (Conway Hall-Irish Washerwoman) storming through the stretch once he got into the clear and rolling right past Genius At Work late to win in a final time of 1:55.2.   Commissioner Daley is owned by Ann-Mari Daley of Lake Worth, Florida and Michael White of Royal Palm Beach, Florida. Dan Daley is the trainer-driver.   2-year-old trotting fillies were up next and, as opposed to the first of the eight Finals, this one went according to form as 3-5 favorite Barn Girl (Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie) took the lead in mid-stretch and held off a strong closing kick from Morcredit Bluechip to score a victory in 1:57.   Barn Girl is owned by Steven and Nancy Pratt of Corfu, New York. The trainer is Howard Okusko and she was driven to victory by Jeff Gregory on Saturday night.   Freshman trotting colts & geldings provided the most exciting stretch drive of the night as part of a 5-1 entry, Progression (Credit Winner-Ens Curious), came through an opening on the inside left when the favored Crazshana drifted out in the lane. Progression's final time was 1:57.4.   Progression is owned by Leigh Raymer, who also trains, of Delaware, Stephen Moss of Pennsylvania, Harold and Helane Solomon of New York. Mark MacDonald was the driver on Saturday night.   The sophomore pacing filly race was won in gate-to-wire fashion by Expose (Artiscape-Good News Lady). She took the lead immediately and never was headed again as she triumphed in 1:52.4   Expose is owned by Linwood Higgins of Scarborough, Maine and Stake Your Claim Stable of Seacaucus, New Jersey. Linda Toscano trains and Jim Morrill Jr. was the winning driver.   Archetto Hanover (Bettor's Delight-Arts Masterpiece) took the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace after rallying past the favored Murder He Wrote at the top of the stretch. He went on to win by a length in a final time of 1:51.4   Archetto Hanover is owned by Paymaq Racing of Illinois, Greg Gillis of Ontario, Canada, and Louis Willinger of Kentucky. The trainer is Erv Miller and the winning driver was Marcus Miller.   2-year-old pacing colts and geldings might have provided one of the more impressive wins of the night from Artistic Major (Art Major-Western Dancer). Artistic Major (Brent Holland) made the lead at the top of the stretch and powered away to win by four lengths in a time of 1:52.4.   Artistic Major is owned by David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio of Ohio and Steve Elliott of New Jersey. Steve Elliott doubles as the trainer.   Freshman pacing fillies followed that and Rock Me Gently (Rock N Roll Heaven-Cam Swifty) prevailed in what turned into a clustered finish with multiple horses ending up close together. The final time was 1:55.   Rock Me Gently is owned by Old Block Stables Inc. and Kenneth Klein of New York and The Fra Stable LLC of New Jersey. The trainer is Steve Elliott.   The final Final of the Excelsior "A" Series on Saturday night was 3-year-old trotting fillies and the winner was Dreamsteeler (Cash Hall-Dream Street) with Jim Morrill Jr. driving. She took the lead right away and cruised to an easy victory by nine lengths in a final time of 1:56.3   Dreamsteeler is owned by Andrew Herzog of Monticello, New York and Tracy Brainard is the trainer.   Live racing will resume at Vernon Downs on Thursday night with an 11-race program. Post time is 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - Post positions have been drawn for the 25th edition of the New York Night of Champions, hosted by Yonkers Raceway Saturday night. The $1.8 million event, richest night of harness racing in the state, offers eight, $225,000 sire stakes finals for 2-and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. Once again, each race is sponsored by a prominent Empire State breeding farm. Some hot-off-the-overnight-sheet tidbits from each of the races, which go as races two through nine on the 13-race card ($10,000 guaranteed pool Pick 5, 50-cent base wager races 5 through 9)... Crawford Farms 2-Year-Old Filly Trot (2nd race)-Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory, head number 5, post 5) led the lasses with six wins in eight seasonal tries ($95,287) and 2-for-2 here, but was scratched sick from her last scheduled start. Pig Hunt (Brennan, HN 4, post 3) also won both of her local tries, while Concentration (Brian Sears, HN2, post 1) enters with three win in her last four work nights. All three lasses mentioned are daughters of Conway Hall. Cameo Hills Farm 3-Year-Old Filly Pace (3rd race)-Spreester (Jason Bartlett, post 1) won both the division during the summer and the draw for the final. The Kimberley Zabielski-owned homebred daughter of American Ideal does seem to enjoy her craft, as in 6-for-14 this season ($134,330) and a career 14-for-24. It Was Fascination (Brett Miller, post 2) has been open stakes-placed, while Ken Doll J (Sears, post 4) authored a 40-1 upset in her latest at Batavia. Winbak Farm 2-Year-Old Filly Pace (4th race)-A three-headed Ron Burke-trained monster in Band of Angels (Brennan, HN 1, post 1), Sassa Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr., HN 1A, post 2) and Bettor N Better (Matt Kakaley, HN 1B, post 3) had the pills perform perfectly. They're a combined 16-for-21 this season-occupying the first three places in the standings-with earnings in excess of $330,000. "Angels" and "Sassa" are daughters of Rock N Roll Heaven, while "B n B" is a Bettor's Delight lass. Stirling Brook Farms 3-Year-Old Filly Trot (5th race)-Market Rally (Morrill Jr., HN 2A, post 6) was last season's statebred champ, and, after being sold to Burke and Associates, has continued her excellent form. The Cash Hall lass has run roughshod over her foes, winning six of her last seven tries...the only blemish being an early Batavia bobble. She's 5-for-5 here in her career, accounting for half of her career (10-for-21, $544,716) win resume. Morrisville College Equine Institute 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Trot (6th race)-Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer, post 6), a Cash Hall gelding, has rattled off three consecutive wins ($125,338). Crazy Wow (Dan Rawlings, post 1) needed a win here and some help to get the last place at the table, while Insomniac (Bartlett, post 8) also enjoyed a six-figure summer. Blue Chip Farms 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pace (7th race)-All Bets Off (Kakaley, HN 1A, post 6), with a pair of open-company wins (Art Rooney Pace, Milstein Memorial) on his holster, has hit the board in all 11 tries this season (8 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third, $530,425). Stay Up Late (Mark MacDonald, HN 5, post 5) has won his last couple of NYSS events, and could be best of others. Genesee Valley Farm 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pace (8th race)-Any number of these have mastered freshman orientation, including points leader Southwind Masimo (Pat Lachance, post 1)-4-for-5 thus far-Americanprimetime (Tyler Buter, post 5) and Cartoon Daddy (Kakaley, post 6), who has won thrice in four Westchester effort. Allerage Farm 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Trot (9th race)-Defending champ Flyhawk El Durado (MacDonald, HN 2, post 1), who enters with six wins in 13 '14 tries ($292,711), has won his last four versus statebreds. He features wild speed to take advantage of the pylons, while the gelding Gural Hanover (Morrill Jr., HN 1, post 2) is 8-for-10 ($274,413) has strung together seven (NYSS) wins in succession entering this race. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Batavia, NY---Betting Exchange and Berkley were on the outside looking in at the $1.8 million Night of Champions at Yonkers coming into tonight's final leg of the New York Sire Stakes 2-year-old pacing colt and gelding division. But winning heals all and that's exactly what they both did to advance to the final next Saturday. In the first $54,500 contest, Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) scored his second win in a row to move from ninth to sixth overall in the standings and lock up a spot in the $225,000 final. Betting Exchange came off the wings for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and went right to the front to cut the mile. After briefly settling in fourth, Americanprimetime and Mark MacDonald pulled and came up to challenge the leader. That move found the colt getting parked through fractions of :27.3, :56 and 1:25.2 before packing it in around the last turn. From that point on Betting Exchange ran away and hid, winning the race by three lengths in 1:55.1. The winner paid $5.70. Play The Field (Kevin Cummings) was second and K Ryan Bluechip (Joe Pavia Jr.) was third. It was the second win in five starts for Betting Exchange and boosted his earnings to $66,125 for owners Howard Taylor, Susan Kajfasz and Tom Fanning, who also trains the horse. After the race Morrill said "I didn't really want to get into a speed duel but he felt real good tonight so I let him roll. After he fought off Americanprimetime he paced very strong to the wire." In the second $54,500 split, Berkley (Art Major-Monterey) caught his competitors and the betting public asleep as he upset both with a strong stretch-drive victory at 17-1. The win boosted him from tenth to seventh in the standings and also qualified him for the lucrative NYSS final. Mark MacDonald sent Bet You out like a rocket and paced strongly on the lead to an uncontested :58.1 half when Southwind Masimo and Mike Lachance came first-over to challenge. That encounter was short lived when the pack straightened out up the backside and Bet You shifted gears to hold the group at bay. To this point, Joe Pavia Jr. had Berkley sitting comfortably In The Pocket behind the leader, just waiting to take his best shot at the head of the lane. Bet You opened up a two length lead coming for home but the fresh-legged Berkley rolled off the pylons and right by the leader with a furious brush to pull the upset in 1:55.3. The winner returned $36.00. Bet You hung on to be second and Southwind Masimo was third. This was the first win in nine starts this year for Berkley and raised his bank to $58,620 for owners Randy Bendis, Reed Broadway and Thomas Pollack. Berkley is trained by Ed Hart. Pavia had a glowing review saying "I was really impressed how good Ed (trainer Hart) had him tonight. He was much improved and raced super. He got a real good trip and we took advantage of it." There were also three divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card, each going for $12,600. The first division was won by Heaven Rocks (Rock N Roll Heaven-Cheerful Outlook) who was driven by Brent Holland in 1:56.1 and returned $4.70. He is owned by Paymag Racing, Greg Gillis, Mystical Marker Farms LLC and Louis Willinger and trained by Erv Miller. The second leg was won by Soto (Rock N Roll Heaven-Incredible Beauty) who was driven by Mark MacDonald in 1:55.2 to pay $4.90. He is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, R A W Equine Inc. and Jim Fielding and is trained by Jimmy Takter. The final split was won by Mystical Pacer (Bettor's Delight-Take My Pulse) who was driven by Brent Holland in 1:56.4 and paid $6.10. He is owned by Mystical Marker Farms, Paymag Racing and Ron Michelon and is trained by Erv Miller. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. scored a driving grand slam while Mark MacDonald and Brent Holland both registered doubles on the night. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Tuesday evening with a 6:35 post time. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---The last chance to see the best bred standardbreds in the Empire State race at Batavia Downs this year occurs on Saturday night (Sept. 6) when the New York Sire Stakes makes its last stop at the Genesee County oval for 2014. The 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings are featured as the stars of tomorrow and will compete for $109,000 in purses. The first $54,500 NYSS division goes as the fifth race and features seven pacers going postward. Americanprimetime (American Ideal-Prime Example A) is currently ranked second in points for the Night of Champions finals for his sex and gait and boasts a 1:52.4 lifetime mark at Tioga Downs this year. This Rick Dane Jr. trained colt likes to be on the front end and will get his chance here scoring from post three. He has made two breaks in his six starts but when he is on his game he's hard to beat. Brent Holland will sit behind Americanprimetime for the first time in this race. Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) beat Americanprimetime last week at Vernon Downs en route to taking his lifetime mark of 1:51.1. He has been lightly raced due to an injury in July and has only four starts this year. But he's made the most of the opportunities he has had and appears to be improving with every start. Betting Exchange needs points to move up in the standing in order to make the final and this will be his last chance to do it. Top NYSS reinsman Jim Morrill Jr. is aboard for trainer Tom Fanning. Azorean Art (Art Major-Dancin Barefoot) is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and looks to be coming into this race sharp as a tack. Also coming off a lifetime mark of 1:52.3 at Vernon last week, Azorean Art overcame road trouble the entire race and still found a way to win. Driver Mark MacDonald drove him for the first time in that victory and is back in the sulky here. Azorean Art is currently fifth in the standings but could move up substantially with a win. The second $54,500 NYSS division goes as race nine and has the top horse in the series competing in it. Southwind Masimo (Bettor's Delight-Max's Leading Lady) is a perfect four-for-four this year and all in NYSS action. He has won both on the front and from behind, and on both small and large tracks. The Pat LaChance trained colt took his lifetime mark of 1:54 at Tioga Downs, but he actually paced faster last quarters in his two starts at Yonkers. However Southwind Masimo is coming into this race off a scratch at Vernon last week when he reported sick, so the colt has not raced in 18 days. Whether or not this will affect his performance remains to be seen, but having Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance on board will certainly help his cause. Cartoon Daddy (Art Major-Ask Alice) has four wins in seven starts this year and oddly enough, all four wins were on half-mile tracks. He has a sparkling lifetime mark of 1:53.4 at Yonkers Raceway which is considerably faster than any other horse in this race has paced over a half-mile track. He is currently third in points and could vault to number one with a victory. Cartoon Daddy hails from the powerful Ron Burke stable and will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr. Bet You (Bettor's Delight-Armbro Amoretto) has two wins and three seconds in six starts this year and the only time he finished off the board was due to an interference break. Also a Takter trainee, Bet You has displayed racing versatility on the track and seems to be brave on the front end. His mark is 1:55.1 at Yonkers but he paced considerably faster in a just-beaten mile at Tioga Downs in 1:52.4. Bet You is right behind Cartoon Daddy in the points standing and could also take the top spot with a win. Mark MacDonald gets his second straight ride behind him in here. There are also three divisions of the Excelsior series to be contested in races one, two and seven going for a total of $37,800. Post time for the first race is 6:35. One other highlight for the night is the return of popular and second leading driver Shawn McDonough who was injured in a spill at Batavia Downs during a race on Labor Day. Only three days removed from the incident, McDonough will be back in the sulky on Friday night and is slated to drive the full card on Saturday. McDonough said "I'm doing pretty good. My ankle is still sore but not too bad, and I have been taking it easy the last few days. But now I'm ready to come back." -- Tim Bojarski

Not even an hour after Sassa Hanover ($2.30) equaled JK Molly's 1:52.2 track record for two-year-old pacing fillies at Tioga Downs in her $53,500 New York Sire Stakes event, Mosquito Blue Chip ($6.10) set the record anew in her 1:52.1 Sire Stakes triumph, finding room up the inside off a pocket trip to just prevail on the all-stakes Thursday (September 4) evening card.   The daughter of Bettor's Delight and Sandfly Hanover held pocket position behind a speedy Devil Child (Jimmy Whittemore) through a solid yet well-rated :56.4 half mile, tracking intently as favorite Bettor N Better (Matt Kakaley) charged first-over at Devil Child to force a :27 third quarter. Blocked in upper stretch,   Jim Morrill, Jr. wedged through at the pegs with Mosquito Blue Chip in the final 70 yards to take the lead from Devil Child, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.1. Bettor N Better flattened late, still holding third.   Trainer Paul Jessop co-owns Mosquito Blue Chip with the Our Three Sons Stable and Donato Falcicchio.   Earlier in the evening, Sassa Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover) gave Morrill his first Sire Stakes driving win on the evening, brushing to the fore with a circuit to go before turning aside a challenge from My Little Delight (Mark MacDonald) and subsequently kicking clear to a 2-1/4 length 1:52.2 win. Ron Burke trains Sassa Hanover for the Burke Racing Stable, the Panhellenic Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and Larry Karr.   In addition to New York Sire Stakes action for two-year-old pacing fillies, freshman trotters contested five W. N. Reynolds Memorial Stake divisions. Colts SS Poseidon (Marcus Miller, 1:57.1) and Sixteen Encores (Matt Kakaley, 1:57.2) proved victorious in their divisions, while Gold Cora (Mike Simons, 1:56.3), Allerage Star (Corey Callahan, 1:56.1), and Big Barb (Mike Simons, 1:57.2) scored wins in the three filly divisions.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (September 5), with first post at 6:15 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

Monticello Raceway hosted the final leg of the New York Sire Stakes and the Excelsior Series for 2 year old filly trotters on Wednesday (Sept. 3). There were three $37,000 splits in the sire stakes and five short fields in the Excelsior Series. And despite eight of the 12 races on the card featuring the up- and -coming freshmen trotters still wagering was good. The owners of all the winners could stand tall especially Braxton Medical AB, the proprietors of Shaqline who, in only her fourth lifetime start, equaled the track record for freshmen trotting fillies when Jimmy Takter guided her to a 1:59.2 triumph in her NYSS split. Shaqline now shares top honors with Lady Riviera who also was victorious in 1:59.2 for Ronnie Pierce in 2012. Takter, driving more now and enjoying it immensely, sent the daughter of Credit Winner-Vivaca Hall to the lead from the pole position and they raced unchallenged on the front- end until the final turn. There, after shadowing Shaqline all the way from the get-go, Mark MacDonald moved Nunkeri out to contest the leader but all Takter had to do was give his filly her head and she remained in front as she trotted a final quarter in :28.4 en route to her track record equaling performance. Nunkeri was three lengths back in second place and Dancewithmechuck took home the show dough for Charlie Norris She's a real good filly," Takter told those who joined him in the winner's circle.. He was asked why this was only Shaqline's fourth career start to which he replied; "She had an entrapped epiglottis and it took three surgeries before the problem got fixed. She's breathing great now and she's going to be a real good 3 year old." Shaqline is a pretty nice 2 year old now, Jimmy, and she'll be the one to beat in her $225,000 NYSS Final at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday, September 13. Sent of the favorite in the betting Shaqline paid $3.80 for win. The finale will be no cake walk when Shaqline faces some of the other division winners along the way, especially Concentration and Kaliska, who each were victorious in NYSS action at the Mighty M on Wednesday. Concentration, a daughter of Conway Hall-Super Starlet, had driver Chris Lems smiling in the winners circle after they scored a 2:00.1 victory over Summer Scent and driver Dan Daley. After a slow start Lems put Concentration on the pylons in third position and they were five lengths off the lead set by Daly and Summer Scent as they passed the quarter in :30. Lems followed the leader until he moved his filly out to challenge up the backside. They easily gained command and at the third stanza in 1:30 they had two on Summer Scent. From there it was catch me if you can, and no one could, as Concentration coasted home a 1-1/4-length winner in 2:00.1. Daley's filly was second and Ray Schnittker got Summers Windsong up for third place. "She's a nice filly and if we get a good (post) position in the final I think she'll be heard from,' Lems added through his smiles. Trained by George Ducharme for owner Chip Campbell, Concentration paid $5.20 for win. Schnittker also got a chance to have his picture taken after he won the final $37,000 NYSS division with Kaliska in 2:00. But he had to work hard for it. After they fell into the two-hole on the first turn behind Dan Daley and Cherry Crown Jewel that duo led the field by the quarter in a swift :28. When they passed the half in :58 Schnittker was out and going and Kaliska took command up the backside. They kept the lead until the finish and Schnittker had to steadily urge his filly but Kaliska held off a late rally on the far outside by Mark MacDonald and Duolectra to win by a neck. Favored Pig Hunt was third for George Brennan. "She's green and I had to keep after her because she tried to pull up three times in the stretch," Schnittker expounded after the mile. The Credit Winner-Armbro Vivian filly is trained by Schnittker and owned by Schnittker, Tom Spatorico, the Pepin Stable and Fam Alber Horse Racing LLC. She paid $10.00 for win. The undercard featured five divisions in the Excelsior Series also for freshmen trotting fillies. Winners included: I'm Very Lucky (Sam Schillaci) in 2:08.4 ; Barn Girl (Jeff Gregory) in 2:00; Morcredit Bluechip (Jeff Gregory) in 2:00.2; Teacher Pat (Chris Lems) in 2:02.3 and Waiting Room (Jimmy Morrill, Jr.) in 2:01.1. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

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