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WASHINGTON, PA, July 28, 2018 - Victimized by brutal trips in his last two starts, Dorsoduro Hanover finally got the journey he needed and pounced on the opportunity to win Saturday's $400,000 harness racing final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids in 1:50.1 at The Meadows.   American History, who won an elimination of the 52nd edition of the Adios, raced well first over to finish second, 1-1/4 lengths back, while Hitman Hill, the other elimination winner, could not improve position in the Lightning Lane and settled for show.   Dorsoduro Hanover gave The Meadows-based trainer Ron Burke, perennially the sport's leading conditioner, his first blanket of Adios orchids as the head of his stable, although he was assistant for his father, Mickey, when their horse, May June Character, won the 2007 Adios.   A Somebeachsomewhere-Deer Valley Miss gelding who cost $100,000 as a yearling, Dorsoduro Hanover was roughed up from post 10 in the Meadowlands Pace final and again in is Adios elimination but still managed to finish second each time.   It seemed likely that he was only a good trip away from a signature victory . . . and Matt Kakaley provided it for him giving him a 28.3 second-panel refresher after a 26.3 opening-quarter burst to the lead.   "We got a big breather there in the second quarter," Kakaley said. "I knew he would be tough off that . . . if he didn't win with that trip, something was wrong. I'm happy for the horse. He's showing everybody that he's a top colt."   American History took up the chase before the half and pursued the winner gamely but was all out late to preserve his place finish.   "He raced phenomenal. I couldn't be more happy with how he raced," said his trainer, Tony Alagna. "We knew Matt had the fractions his way, but even around the last turn, we had a shot to win the whole thing. He hung tough to be second."   Once Dorsoduro Hanover crossed the wire, a jubilant Burke and members of his staff sprinted from the paddock to the winners' circle, eschewing the golf cart that customarily provides transport. Burke, however, indicated the wins in 2007 and 2018 were equally important to him.   "We have a big crew, and to me, that's what it's about: doing it together," Burke said. "We probably spent about $10 million chasing this, and we finally got one. It's a great feeling to enjoy it with our staff and our core group."   In that core group are the owners of Dorsoduro Hanover, who now has earned $575,803 for them: Burke Racing Stable; Silva, Purnell & Libby; Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Wingfield Five.   Burke said Dorsoduro Hanover will be pointed to the Carl Milstein at Northfield.   ADIOS NOTES: Burke entered 26 horses on the 16-race Adios Day card, not a record for him but still a heckuva lot better than average. Burke ended the day with seven wins — also a heckuva lot better than average — including four by Kakaley, two by Yannick Gingras and one by Dave Palone. . . For the second straight year, James Witherite – who also works as a race analyst, race charter, copy editor and jazz organist – found time to entertain the crowd as Adios Day bugler.   by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

A stalled weather front brought us a lot of rain this past week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, leading to a bunch of sloppy tracks at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The geese loved it, as evidenced by the one who managed to actually show up in a photo finish with one of the horses on Sunday night. As for the horses, there were some strange occurrences and bizarre outcomes, showing that you never can tell in this sport. Here are the finest performances, as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HURRICANE BEACH On Sunday night, it poured rain on and off, leading to an ever-changing track condition that eventually settled on sloppy for the end of the program. In the final race, a $17,000 condition pace for five-year-old and younger winners from three to seven races, Hurricane Beach, a new addition to the Rene Allard barn, was made the 2-1 favorite from post position #8 in a field of nine. Other than expecting it to be a competitive field with some excellent pacers, there wasn't anything in the ledger to suggest we were in line for something special. Hurricane Beach, a four-year-old gelding who came into the race with a modest record of two wins in nine races this season, had other ideas. Driver Simon Allard cut him loose, and he scorched the mud to the tune of a :25.1 opening quarter. The ridiculously fast number was eye-popping, but there are many horses that can go wild for a quarter-mile. It was the half-mile time that really left us all slack-jawed, as Hurricane Beach tripped the timer in :51.2, a new world record for the fastest ever half on a 5/8-mile oval. On a sloppy track. Hurricane Beach kept up his tear to the three-quarter pole, hitting it in 1:19.3. It was only in the stretch that he began to ease up a little, but by then he was well ahead of the rest of the stunned field. His winning time was 1:49.4, a new career-best and the fastest of the week at Pocono, and he defeated the field by 7 ¼ lengths. For those who stuck around for that closing race on that rainy night, they witnessed something special. Other top pacers include: Big N Bad (George Napolitano Jr., Gareth Dowse), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap win on Saturday night against the highest-priced claimers on the grounds, managing this victory in 1:52.3 in the slop; Attention Hanover (Simon Allard, Steve Salerno), who moved up in class on Sunday night and rallied for his third straight condition win, two of which have come at Pocono with the other at Harrah's, in 1:54 in the slop; and Rockstar Angel A (Brett Miller, Chris Oakes), an Australian invader who made a striking United States debut at Pocono on Tuesday night, winning the featured condition pace for mares in 1:52.4 in the slop. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BOFFIN As veteran trotters go, there are few around who seem to do damage at Pocono every single year they appear quite like this warrior trained by Anette Lorentzon. Now aged eight, Boffin arrived at Pocono in June in a rare slump, having come up empty in four races in the Midwest. Coming to his old stomping grounds immediately energized him, as he handled an $11,000 condition field on June 18 at Pocono to get his first win of the season. That win must have given him a taste, because Boffin followed that up with another victory, this time over a $14,000 group in 1:52.4 on June 30. This past Sunday, he was at it again in the rainy conditions, once again moving up in class to face off with a $17,500 class. Even with the step up the ladder, the bettors were wise to the caliber of this gelding and made Boffin a 3-5 favorite leaving from post position #4 in an excellent field of nine. George Napolitano Jr., who has driven Boffin to many a victory over the years, decided to end the suspense early, as he quickly sent him to the front end. From there, the rest of the field, which was comprised of accomplished trotters, looked like amateurs in his wake. Boffin never really endured any challenge to his supremacy, and he steadily opened up the lead until he came home a 4 ¾-length winner at the end of the mile. His winning time, even in the slop, was a solid 1:54.1, giving him three straight victories. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Uknow What To Do (Anthony Morgan, Rene Allard), who moved up in class on Saturday night and scored his second straight condition win, this one in 1:56.2 in the slop; Alpha D'Urzy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who followed up a win in his U.S. debut at Saratoga with a condition victory at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:57.4 in the off conditions; and Satin Dancer (Matt Kakaley, Travis Alexander), a mare whose win in Sunday night's featured condition trot in 1:53 matched a career-best and represented the fastest trotting mile of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CASINO DIRECTOR This pacer driven by Tyler Buter sent the folks home shocked with a condition win in the finale on Monday night at 36-1, paying off $74 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY One of the most consistent performers at Pocono on a regular basis, Kakaley did his usual damage this week, picking up six combined wins in three nights of racing. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GARETH DOWSE There has been no hotter barn on the grounds for the past month or so, and Dowse solidified that hot streak with three more training wins this week. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Both of the $21,500 features at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night required the use of the photo finish camera, with the mare Satin Dancer holding off Crazshana by a nose on the trot and Juslikeaqueen rallying furiously from sixth at the 3/4 to get a neck decison in the distaff pace. Satin Dancer, a double winner in Open company at Hoosier before coming east, was sent right to the top in a 27.1 quarter over off going by driver Matt Kakaley in the trotting headliner, then got a breather to the half in 57. The winning daughter of Big Stick accelerated the tempo to the ¾, reaching that pole in 1:25.1, then had to go faster and dig deep as Crazshana narrowed in from the pocket, retaining the smallest possible advantage on the money while equaling her mark of 1:53. Travis Alexander conditions the winner, one of the big factors at two and three in Indiana as her $637,160 earnings would attest, for Summit Pacing Acres LLC (a "Pacing Acres" owning a fast trotter - they really have the winning touch!). Obvious Blue Chip tried to live up to 1-5 backing in the female pacing feature, moving to the front near the 27.4 quarter and then posting middle fractions of 57 and 1:24.4. But first-over Princess Fabulosa grinded at the leader, passed her in the stretch, then herself was caught by the flying-from-third-over Juslikeaqueen, from whom Anthony Napolitano summoned a huge last quarter while wide to take a 1:53.1 decision. Antonia Storer owns and trains the Palone Ranger mare, who now has a lifetime bankroll of $175,710. And just in case you thought that all those good Jimmy Takter trotters easily roll out of the barn all ready to go stakes-caliber miles, consider Fleet Admiral, who had a 1:56.3 win and a break in two qualifiers as a freshman, then put in two stretch breaks as a sophomore before qualifying at Pocono in 1:54.4. He made a break in his first purse start, was 16½ lengths out at the quarter, and rallied to be second, so when he broke at the start of his second race Sunday but was only 9¼ down at the quarter, he was "obviously" still in the hunt, and he again showed a giant recovery kick for driver Josert Fonseca, coming his last ¾ in 1:27.1 to win in 1:57.3 on a sloppy track. Oh, did we mention that he's a full brother to Ariana G? Hurricane Beach :51.3 to the half is fastest ever According to a detailed check of available records, the Somebeachsomewhere – Blazing Yankee four-year-old gelding Hurricane Beach cut the fastest half-mile ever in a Standardbred race mile on a 5/8-mile track, 51.3, in winning the last race on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The final time for the mile was 1:49.4, over a sloppy track, in the $17,000 conditioned pace. Hurricane Beach blasted away from post eight for driver Simon Allard, hitting the quarter in 25.2 with the field well-strung-out behind, and Allard had the horse under a hold passing the stands for the first time. The half-mile station was reached as noted in 51.3, and the ¾ was reached in 1:19.3. Hurricane Beach officially had a 10-length lead at the stretch call, and won by 7¼ lengths. A detailed list of miles which have reached the 3/4s in 1:20, while not official, has been kept, and the 51.3 clocking eradicated the former mark for 5/8-mile tracks of 52.1 set by Split The House in the 2016 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft, won by All Bets Off. The record in such a race on an “f” track for the quarter is 25.1, notched by five horses (only one of which went on to win); Always B Miki went 1:19 to the 3/4s in winning the Ewart Pace at Scioto, also in 2016. The overall harness record for reaching the half in a mile race, according to this list, is 51.2, set by Devonshire Hanover at The Meadowlands in 2006. Those with long memories about unusual records probably had a bell ring as soon as they saw a horse named “Hurricane” involved in fast fractions. And yes, Hurricane Beach is a half-brother, out of Blazing Yankee, to the Cam’s Card Shark pacer Hurrikane Kingcole, who holds the overall record for the fastest-ever clocking to the ¾ in a mile race, 1:18.2, in the 2012 SBOANJ Classic at The Meadowlands, which was won by Panther Hanover. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

Vernon Downs featured three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old pacing fillies, on Thursday (July 12). All three divisions raced for a purse of $39,900 each. Ms Cheesman (John MacDonald) takes the first division. The favorite Newsday (Jim Marohn Jr.) took over the lead just before the first quarter mark. She controlled all the early fractions (:26.2, :55.0, 1:24.2). Ms Cheesman ($9.50) followed in the pocket trip for the first three-quarters of the mile. Owned by Bay Pond Racing and trained by Jessica Okusko, she would go first-over at the top of the stretch and blow right by to win in a lifetime best time of 1:52.2. Presto Blue Chip (Drew Monti) charged late to finish second. Checkered Past (Jim Morrill Jr) was third best. Ms Cheesman is a 3-year-old filly by Betterthancheddar. It was her fourth win this season and it was career victory number five. Pueblo Blue Chip (Matt Kakaley) edges Ubettergo Go (Mark MacDonald) in the second division of the NYSS. Betterthanbrie (Josert Fonseca) charged to the front and led the group to a first quarter of :28.0. Ubettergo Go went to the lead just after the quarter. She would lead them to a half of :56.4 and to three-quarters in 1:25.0. Pueblo Blue Chip ($5.20) went first over from third just before the three-quarter pole. Trained by Ron Burke for owners Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Menary Racing Inc., and Michael Guerrero, she would trade blows with Ubettergo Go all the way down the stretch. Halfway down the stretch they were joined by third place finisher Azreal As It Gets (John MacDonald). Pueblo Blue Chip used one last lunge to win in a lifetime best mark of 1:52.2. Ubettergo Go had to settle for second. Pueblo Blue Chip is a 3-year-old filly by American Ideal. It was her third win in four starts of 2018. She nailed down career victory number four. Dance Blue (Josert Fonseca) is an upset winner in the third division. Apothic (Mark MacDonald) led the group to a first quarter time of :27.0. The lead was short lived as Jewels Forreal (Matt Kakaley) took over and led to the halfway point in :55.4. Dance Blue ($17.60) took control just after the half and led them to three-quarters in 1:23.1. Trained by Nancy Johansson for owners Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband, and Goran Anderberg, she breezed home in the stretch to win in a lifetime best of 1:51.2. Jewels Forreal was second best with Apothic finishing third. Dance Blue is a 3-year-old filly by Rock N Roll Heaven. She secured her second win of her season and her career. Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday with a 13 race card starting at 6:10. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs          

Matt Kakaley is ready to go. Sidelined since a March 13 racing accident, the 30-year-old harness racing driver will be back in action Saturday (May 12) with nine drives at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "I can't wait. I really can't wait," Kakaley said. "It's been a tough couple months, but I'm feeling good now and I'm itching to get back. Seeing my name on the entries, it was a good feeling." Kakaley was injured at Yonkers Raceway when the horse he was driving took a bad step and went down. Kakaley was thrown to the track and suffered injuries that required three surgeries, including one for a broken orbital bone and another for a fractured collarbone. He has spent the past month rehabbing and getting in shape for his return. "I put on a few pounds just sitting around," Kakaley said with a laugh. "That's the goal right now, to get those off and be fit again." Kakaley is grateful for all the well wishes he received following the accident and the support of his friends and family, including his mom Linda, longtime partner Annie Larrabee and her mom Debbie, as well as trainer Ron Burke and fellow drivers Andy McCarthy and Mark MacDonald. "It showed me how many really good friends I really do have and how special my family is," Kakaley said. "It was a tough time, but I had a good support system and people who were there for me to make it a little bit easier." Kakaley, who set a career high with $9.04 million in purses last year, has 62 wins and $1.07 million in purses this season. Last week, he trained several horses for Burke in preparation for this weekend. "I just wanted to make sure it feels good sitting behind a horse and going a mile," said Kakaley, who has 4,169 career wins. "I felt great. The shoulder wasn't bothering me at all, so I figured I was ready to go. "The last two weeks or so I've been feeling really good, but I didn't want to come back too soon. I had to wait it out. It's for the better because I don't want to reinjure it." Kakaley's drives on Saturday include Aleppo Hanover in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers and Rockin Ron and Check Six in divisions of the Great Northeast Open Series for male pacers. In addition, Kakaley is one of the drivers participating in this weekend's Trotting 4 Charity event. Trotting 4 Charity, organized by TrotCast's Ryan Macedonio, will be held May 18-20 at racetracks throughout North America. Participating drivers and trainers will wear a custom-made replica jersey of their own colors, with their selected charity logo displayed on the jersey. During the weekend, drivers will race in their jersey. After the event, auctions will be held for fans to bid on the jerseys and all proceeds from winning bids will be donated to the corresponding charities. Kakaley's charity is Marley's Mission, which is based near Pocono and provides equine-based psychotherapy free of charge to children, and their families, who have experienced trauma. "I think it's a great event and I thought Marley's Mission was a perfect fit," Kakaley said. "I wanted to do something locally and this is great exposure for them, as well as harness racing." Racing begins at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, March 15, 2018—Here’s a further update regarding harness racing driver Matt Kakaley, who was injured in an accident during Yonkers Raceway’s 10th race Tuesday night (March 13th). The update was provided by driver Mark MacDonald at the request of Kakaley’s girlfriend, Annie Larrabee. Kakaley, driving Lawgiver Hanover, and Jim Marohn Jr., driving Big Jer, were at the rear of the field moving into the third turn of the $15,000 pacing event. Lawgiver Hanover took a bad step, went down and throwing Kakaley. Big Jer, who may have briefly gone down, unseated Marohn Jr and ran off.  Kakaley, who turns 30 this coming Monday (March 19th), was originally taken to Lawrence Hospital in nearby Bronxville, NY, then subsequently moved north to Westchester Medical Center (Valhalla, NY), where facial plastic surgery was performed.    MacDonald—who visiting Kakaley this (Thursday) afternoon—said “considering what he went through, he was in very good spirits, laughing and joking.” It was MacDonald’s understanding that Kakaley is to be discharged from Westchester Medical sooner rather than later, returning sometime next week to have more work performed on his collarbone. “I don’t know if it’s the best-case scenario, but it seems to be close,” MacDonald said. “The doctors see no reason he won’t recover and get back driving, maybe within five or six weeks.” Does Kakaley had any recollection of the accident?’ “Not much,” MacDonald said.      Lawgiver Hanover was euthanized. The 9-year-old son of Art Major had won 28-of-202 career starts with earnings of $623,179. Marohn Jr. and Big Jer both escaped injury, the former taking his final two scheduled Tuesday drives and with a full complement of Yonkers’ Thursday assignments.  Further updates shall be provided as available. Kakaley has won 4,169 races and more than $61.1 million in purse in a career that began in 2006.   Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, February 25, 2018—All together now, ‘Taking to the off-going like a duck to water…’ Rubber Duck (catch-driver Matt Kakaley, $18.40) waddled home fastest Sunday afternoon (Feb. 25th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s sloppy $50,000 Open Handicap Trot. The field of nine (reduced by one after a nose-to-gate defection) went as first of seven ‘French’ trots, with Rubber Duck starting from an assigned 10-hole. Thus, he had no choice but to watch early as lass NF Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.) offered her customary leave.   Wide early from behind the ‘seven-ball’ after that scratch, she worked around 17-10 favorite In Secret (George Brennan) after a :28.1 opening quarter-mile. It was a  :57.4 half and 1:28.2 three-quarters before Melady’s Monet (Jason Bartlett) made his second move. Getting away fourth, he went after NF Happenstance going toward to the 1:57.2 milepost. However, Melady’s Monet wasn’t the problem. Le Reveur N (Dan Dube) went wide, Rubber Duck even wider. NF Happenstance did owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but the hooves were getting heavy. In Secret edged out of the pocket, while Rubber Duck continued his bid. The latter went right past the former, winning by a couple of lengths while getting the mile-and-a-quarter in 2:27.4.  Le Reveur N, NF Happenstance and Money Maven (Jordan Stratton) settled for the remainder. Rubber Duck winning in the sloppy conditions    - Photo Chris Brokate For fifth choice Rubber Duck, a 6-year-old Muscle Mass ridgling Alberta co-owned by Blain & Erna Corbeil and trained by Jennifer Bongiorno, it was his second win in four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $58.50, with triple returning $375.50. Sunday’s return of the ‘New York, New York Double’ offered a winning combination of 1-Westerdale (Aqueduct’s 3rd race) and 9-Uva Hanover (Yonkers’ 5th race) paid $60.75 for every correct $1 wager. Total pool was $5,900.   Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 24, 2017—Favored Thisjetsabookin’ (Jordan Stratton, $5.30) just lasted on the lead Saturday night (Feb. 24th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $40,000 Open Handicap Pace. Leaving from post position No. 5 in the gang of a half-dozen, Thisjetsabookin’ was stung by pole-assigned Quick asa Trick N (Dan Dube). The people’s preference paid a :26.3 privilege to make the lead before rating a :56.2 intermission. Gokudo Hanover (Matt Kakaley) started the outer assemblage, moving from fourth toward a 1:24.1 three-quarters. Don’tcallmefrancis (Greg Merton) chased that one,   Thisjetsabookin’ owned a length-and-three-quarter lead entering the lane, but his pursuers remained stubborn. 1:53.1. Gokudo Hanover was resurgent, trying the leader one more time. Thisjetsabookin’ found the wet wire when he need it, a short nose to the good in a season’s-best 1:53.1. Don’tcallmefrancis was third, beaten a head, with Quick asa Trick N and Killer Martini (Jason Bartlett) settling for the minors. Orillia Joe (Brent Holland) brought up the rear.     Thisjetsabookin’ (Jordan Stratton,#5) just lasted on the inside    - Photo Chris Brokate For Thisjetsabookin’, 6-year-old Jereme’s Jet gelding owned by William Emmons and trained by William Adamczyk, it was his second win in five seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $18.40, with the triple returning $83.50. Sunday matinees resume tomorrow (Feb. 25rd), with first post of 12:15 PM. Frank Drucker

Yonkers, NY --- With a three-wide sweeping rush, All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) got to the finish line first by a slim margin in the harness racing $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 14) at Yonkers Raceway in 1:51.4. All Bets Are Off is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Baldachino and Pan Hellenic Stables. It was his 27th career win and pushed his lifetime earnings to $2,834,832. Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) grabbed the lead at first call, getting to the quarter in :26.4, with race favorite Sintra trailing him. By the :55.3 half, Bit Of A Legend A (Jordan Stratton) still had the lead but was soon overtaken by Somewhere In LA (Jason Bartlett) who had the lead at the 1:23.1 three-quarters. With a cavalry charge down the homestretch, Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) went three-wide to chase down the leaders and grab the lead at the head of the stretch. But All Bets Off was coming fastest of all and got up on the outside to just nip All Bets Off at the wire. Wining driver Matt Kakaley said he had no fear of timing the wire just right. “That was perfect, it worked out great," he said. "I think he likes it that way (accelerating late in the race), it’s worked good the last two weeks and the trip just was perfect today. I was pretty confident (he would get to the wire in time) it was working out good for him. Shannon Murphy, assistant trainer for the Burke Stable, was similarly confident. “I thought he’d get there; he likes that. If I owned him maybe it would be tough on my heart. Breeders Crown is next for him.”   by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications 

WILKES-BARRE PA - Sapphire Breeze came in off the stakes trail and promptly earned herself a new harness racing speed badge of 1:52.1 in taking the $16,000 distaff pacing feature Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The sophomore daughter of Well Said was given a second-over trip by driver Matt Kakaley and was still fifth at the stretch call, but she had enough rally in her to reach the wire a length ahead of two-move leader Gigi From Fiji. Ron Burke conditions Sapphire Breeze for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Phillip Collura, Michelle Yanek, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. In the $14,000 co-featured distaff pace, the Rock N Roll Heaven mare Rock Me Baby continued to enjoy her local campaign at The Downs, running her Pocono record to 3-2-1-0 since shipping back in with a 1:51 victory. Marcus Miller moved the sharp winner of $230,258 to the lead past the quarter, then held off the charge of Quebec champion YS Tallia by 1¼ lengths for trainer Heidi Rohr and owner Scott Dillon. Anthony Napolitano, 2017's "King Of The Longshots" at Pocono, reined in his ninth $50+ horse of the meet (no other driver has more than four) when he rallied the Majestic Son gelding Sibson to a $68.80 nose victory over odds-on favorite Flagstaff in a conditioned trot for trainer Jody Riedel and Super Mile LLC. PHHA / Pocono

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 12, 2017 -- Ron Burke figured to be a force in Tuesday's $86,498 Keystone Classic at The Meadows -- he trains eight of the 17 freshman filly pacers who dropped in -- but he was even more dominant than that, teaming with harness racing Matt Kakaley to sweep the event with Double A Mint, Strong Opinion and Majorsspeciallady. Double A Mint turned in the most powerful performance, rolling to a facile 5-1/2-length victory over stablemate Danikova in 1:52.4 and lifting her bankroll to $115,499 for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Dandy Farms and Silva, Purnel & Libby. She's In For Life completed the ticket. "She gets better," Burke said of the daughter of Bettor's Delight-Double Creme, who will be pointed to stakes at Hoosier Park and the Red Mile. "She tries harder. She's a typical Bettor's Delight -- they try." Strong Opinion finished a disappointing seventh in the Pennsylvania Sires Stake championship, but Kakaley Indicated there was a good reason she couldn't get more involved. "She was third over in the last turn, not really in a terrible spot, but a horse broke in front of her and took her out of the race," he said. "I've loved her all along. She's beautiful to drive, and she goes when you ask her to go." In the Keystone Classic, the daughter of Well Said-Rough Sketch made the lead with a quarter-pole move and had little trouble holding off Sarpa Hanover by a length in 1:53.3, with Ana Hanover third. Burke Racing Stable, Jack Piatt II, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Silva, Purnel & Libby campaign Strong Opinion, a $50,000 yearling purchase. The victory by Majorsspeciallady was more tactical than flashy; when Kakaley gave her a soft opening half of 58, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-See Major waltzed home in 1:54.1, a length better than Aims Whisper. The first-over Cult Icon earned show. "She hasn't always been in the right spot, but she's the kind who definitely will get better with age," Burke said. "The thing about her is, when she's in with horses she's supposed to beat, she beats them." He indicated Majorsspeciallady, a $30,000 yearling acquisition, is headed to engagements at Hoosier Park and the Red Mile for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and J&T Silva Stables. North America's perennial leading trainer was a factor elsewhere on Tuesday's card, as his 5-year-old Shadow Play-Titania Seelster mare, Tessa Seelster, captured the $20,000 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace for Dave Palone in 1:52. Shesasmokinlady was second, 1-1/4 lengths back, while Yankee Moonshine rallied for show. Tessa Seelster now boasts $490,913 in career earnings for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Jonathan Newman. Brian Zendt collected three wins on the 14-race card. Wednesday's program at The Meadows features a $102,700 Keystone Classic for freshman filly trotters. First post is 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WILKES-BARRE PA - Matt Kakaley posted the 4000th win of his driving career on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, guiding the maiden trotter Rose Run Tyrone to an open length victory to reach the harness racing milestone. Fittingly, Matt's 4000th winner was behind a horse trained by Ron Burke, for the 29-year-old Kakaley's career really took off at the start of the decade when he became one of the preferred drivers for Burke's far-flung stable, giving him plentiful driving opportunities at top ovals and the chance to handle some of the sport's best horses. Kakaley has posted seven straight seasons of earnings over $5.9M, and in early September of this year he has already bankrolled almost $6.5M, putting him in line to reach his personal seasonal high of $8.1M, which he accomplished in 2014. (And, by gosh, that almost looked like a smile on the poker-faced-driving Kakaley as he went under the finish line!) Celebrity Eventsy earned a new lifetime mark of 1:52.2 after taking full advantage of a pocket journey in winning the $25,000 winners-over trot. Jim Marohn Jr. hustled the four-year-old daughter of Manofmanymissions to the lead before the 27.2 quarter, then yielded to Centurion ATM and sat in the golden chair through middle splits of 56 and 1:24. But Centurion ATM had no answer for the pocket rocket late as Celebrity Eventsy blasted on by to win by 2¾ lengths. Staffan Lind conditions the winner of $551,060 for Celebrity Farms. The Majestic Son gelding Golden Son notched his ninth victory of the season, and third in his last four starts, while equaling his lifetime best of 1:53.2 in the $20,000 co-feature trot. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent the four-year-old to the lead past the quarter and remained in control from there, although Golden Son had to stay sharp to hold off the big late bid of third-over Infiniti As by a half-length. Jenny Melander trains the winner, who has earned $138,767 already this year, for owners John Devito and Rocco Manniello. The Downs will now celebrate its annual "early" Oktoberfest, with a break in racing until a week from Monday, the 18th, when post time will be at 4:30 p.m. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - On Sunday night Rose Run Parker returned to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and he promptly ran his local harness racing scorecard to two straight wins and three triumphs in his last five starts with a 1:53.1 victory in the $20,000 featured trot. Driver Matt Kakaley hustled the Jailhouse Jesse gelding to command after the quarter, and the winner of $878,865 posted identical halves of 56.3 while in control. Double L Lindy, coming off a check earning effort in the Hambletonian Maturity, was second, 1½ lengths behind the winner and a neck ahead of third-place Celebrity Pegasus. Rose Run Parker's current form skein at The Downs mirrors a lifetime fondness for finishing first - the six-year-old has now taken 44 of his 74 lifetime starts, just shy of 60%. Ron Burke trains the veteran for the powerful combine of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. PHHA / Pocono

YONKERS, NY, Friday, June 16, 2017 - I Said Diamonds (Matt Kakaley, $7) went up and over laboring harness racing lasses Friday night (June 16th), winning-at first seasonal purse asking-Yonkers Raceway's $55,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. This was the first local live program since a May 28th matinee and debuted the new start/finish line, which shortened the stretch by some 105 feet (660 to 555 feet). Unhurried from post position No. 4, I Said Diamonds settled sixth as Northfield expat Beyonce's Rockn (Jason Bartlett) made short work of an assigned eight-hole. That one made the lead after paying a 27-second, opening-quarter price for the privilege. The newbie was not in a giving mood, hanging Petticoat Series winner Cousin Mary (Jordan Stratton) in her attempt for the lead. A :55.1 intermission over a 'good' surface that had taken on some water put the closers in play. Down the backside, Lispatty (Mark MacDonald), as the 3-2 choice, went three-deep, but I Said Diamonds went deeper and much faster. The latter grabbed the lead passing a 1:24.1 three-quarters, then widened. She opened 3½ lengths off the final turn, whipping Lispatty by 4¼ lengths in 1:53.2. Hidden Land (Brian Sears), Delightful Dragon (Brent Holland) and Freeze Out (George Brennan) settled for the minor moolah. For second choice I Said Diamonds, a now-4-year-old daughter of Well Said owned by A Piece of the Action Stable and trained by Matias Ruiz, she entered off a six-win, $304,000 season as a soph. The exacta paid $27.60, the triple returned $142.50 and the superfecta paid $400.50. Holland won a race, moving him to within four of the 5,000  win plateau (that would be 4,996 for those of you keeping score of such things). A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (June 17th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $1,845.99.   The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

All Bets Off won Saturday's $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park, making him only the second horse to win both a Carl Milstein Memorial and a Battle of Lake Erie, two of the track's prestigious harness racing Grand Circuit events. Wiggle It Jiggleit accomplished the same feat. All Bets Off (Bettor's Delight - Armbro Penelope - Dexter Nukes) is owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino and Panhellenic Stable. He is trained by Ron Burke. Matt Kakaley had the winning drive. As the gate pulled away from the stellar Battle field, Luck Be Withyou and Aaron Merriman rushed to the front, setting wicked-fast fractions of :26, :52.4 and 1:20.3. "I figured the race would rock and roll early. I thought I should get away mid-pack and cross my fingers," said Kakaley. "The trip worked out perfectly for us." All Bets Off started from post four and made a three-wide bid late in the third panel to make the front and best his competition by 2¼-lengths, stopping the clock at 1:49.2. The time represents a new track record for five and up pacing horses. The former 1:50.4 mark was set in 2002 by Western Millennium and Walter Case, Jr. "All Bets Off is a special horse to me and has really helped further my career to a place I'm not sure it would be without him," offered Kakaley. "This win feels good." Saturday's win marks the 25th score for All Bets Off in 86 career races and increases his bankroll to $2,372,503. All Bets Off Ayers Ratliff  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Skippin By, forced to go a fast first half by Yes You Can, held off that foe by ¾ of a length at the wire to emerge triumphant in the $16,500 harness racing featured mares pace Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   Matt Kakaley got away fourth with the daughter of Shadow Play, then made a quarter-move, which turned out to be an elongated one as Yes You Can also sought the top past the 27 quarter. Yes You Can did make the lead in front of the stands and then yielded to Skippin By, but not before forcing a 54.4 half.   Unusually for Pocono, the third quarter (28.1) was the slowest in the race, which meant that Skippin By, after reaching the ¾ in 1:23, still had plenty in the tank, and the favored winner of over $700,000 careerwise was good enough to thwart the potential pocket rocket in winning for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Wall Brothers Stable, and Bruce Soulsby.   There was a pair of $16,000 paces for distaffs in the co-featured position. The quicker went to the Rock N Roll Heaven mare Angels Rockn Pink, who quarter-moved for driver Marcus Miller and went on to a 1:52.2 victory by 2½ lengths for trainer John Butenschoen and Crawford Farms Racing. In the other, the Well Said filly I Wish You Well tied her 1:52.3 lifetime best set last week, rallying from the pocket to catch odds-on Miss Jones by 1¼ lengths for trainer/driver Pat Lachance and the ownership of Luc Ouellette Incorporated and Alan Alber.   PHHA / Pocono

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