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Blue Ivy didn't get all of the respect on the toteboard, but the 5-year-old mare had her say in a powerhouse performance, capturing the first of two $35,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker harness racing divisions on Friday night at Yonkers Raceway. Sent off as the surprising 7-5 second choice, Tyler Buter put Blue Ivy into the three-hole entering the first turn as 3-5 favorite Keep Rockin A made the lead easily for Tim Tetrick and marched to the quarter in 27.4. With just five in the field, Tetrick was able to back down the pace with the Jim King Jr.-trained import, who was in search of his first series victory. The slow half didn't shake Buter in the least as he waited to midway down the backstretch to energize Blue Ivy. It didn't take more than 50 yards for Blue Ivy to engulf and dispose of Keep Rockin A, as that mare slowed markedly into the final turn. After three-quarters in 1:25, Blue Ivy kicked home in 28 seconds flat and scored by open lengths in a 1:53 mile. Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett) was able to come up the pylons late to secure the place spot, with Caviart Cherie (Matt Kakaley) third in the mile. BLUE IVY REPLAY It was Blue Ivy's second win in the series, to go along with two second-place finishes, for trainer Todd Buter. Owned by Renee Bercury, Blue Ivy, a 5-year-old daughter of Captaintreacherous, paid $4.80 for the victory. The exacta with 32-1 shot Monica Gallagher in the place spot was worth $54, and the triple came in at $158.50. The upsets continued in the second Blue Chip Matchmaker division as Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) rallied from last on the final turn and rolled past the betting favorites to score her first series victory in a 1:54.3 clocking. Snobbytown and driver George Brennan out-left two others to gain control nearing the opening quarter, as Bettors Heart N and driver Dexter Dunn yielded the front. Snobbytown had the lead in 27.4, and Brennan was keen to back things down, reaching the half in 57.3 as Bettors Heart N lagged behind her in second. Dbldelitebrigade N and Todd McCarthy pulled on the third turn to challenge, towing the 1-5 favorite Machnope with her, but the cover wasn't worth much as Snobbytown marched off with a snappy 28.1 third quarter. The acceleration forced driver Andrew McCarthy to send two-leg winner Machnhope three-deep passing three-quarters to gain into contention. Siesta Beach and Kakaley used that cover through the final turn and tipped wider into the homestretch to gain a clear chance. It was a thrilling finish, with Snobbytown and Brennan working hard to maintain the lead, but powerless to stall the closers, with Siesta Beach, a 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal, doing the best work late for the win. Machnope had to settle for the place, with Snobbytown third. SIESTA BEACH REPLAY Trained by Nicholas Devita and owned by Eric Prevost, Siesta Beach returned $15 to win. The exacta with the heavy chalk paid $26.60 and the triple was an even $63. It was the third win on the season for Siesta Beach, who entered the fourth round of the series with three straight third-place finishes. Preliminary round action in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series concludes next Friday (April 9), with the final slated for Monday, April 19. The fourth round of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series will be the feature on Monday (April 5) at Yonkers Raceway, with three $40,000 divisions highlighting the 10-race program. Leonides A is a heavy favorite to win his third straight leg in one of the splits.  Favorites were victorious just twice during Friday night’s (April 2) Pick 6 sequence at Yonkers Raceway, meaning there were no tickets with six out of six. As a result, there will be a carryover of $7,067.60 and a guaranteed pool of $15,000 in the wager on Monday night’s (April 5) program. The guarantee is being offered as part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. Free past performances for the Pick 6, courtesy of TrackMaster, are available here. The Pick 6 at Yonkers Raceway offers a takeout rate of 20 percent, as do the nightly Pick 4’s and Pick 5. Monday’s Pick 6 will include all three $40,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, as well as a $27,500 Preferred Pace. Post time is at 7:15 p.m., and the Pick 6 will begin in race three. For full results, click here.   From Yonkers Raceway

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The three $15,000 harness racing divisions of the third and final preliminary of the Game Of Claims Trotting Series for $15,000 base-priced horses held Monday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, did absolutely nothing to clarify the picture before next Monday's $30,000 series Championship. Two of the three winners, both missing the first prelim, did not qualify for the final - they will be the two AEs based on the points. The third winner was ninth in the standings going into Monday, but he secured third place in the points - yet he was not claimed (in fact, none of Monday's winners were), while the horses winding up 1-2-4 in the final pointstandings did change hands. Assuring himself a chance at the big money was the 13-year-old Kool De Caux gelding Ursis Des Caillons, fifth and claimed in the first leg, then with a second and here a 1:55.1 win for driver Mark MacDonald, trainer Carmen Auciello, and the ownership of Fox Racing Inc. URISIS DES CAILLONS REPLAY   Golden Son is in AE1 position after going the fastest of the three Game Of Claims contests, rallying along the inside for a 1:55 win for driver Jason Bartlett, trainer Kevin Lare, and the Lexington Harness Group LLC. The other winner, Triumphant's Chip, was giving chasing to frontstepping favorite Namje in the stretch when that one went offstride, and he picked up the pieces in 1:55.3 for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Travis Alexander, and owner Adam Friedland. GOLDEN SON REPLAY   TRIUMPHANT'S CHIP REPLAY   The unofficial leading pointwinners for the Championship are Credit Fraud, Willie B Worthy, Ursis Des Caillons, Adagio De La Tour, Broadway Bruiser, Tyson, Meetmeinthemiddle, Explosive Magic and Campbellini. Broadway Bruiser (a double prelim winner, as was Credit Fraud) and Explosive Magic both chose to bypass the third prelim rather than risk a claim, and they had enough points for the strategy to work. Amidst all the series action on the Monday card, a standout was the Bar Hopping sophomore trotting ridgling Top Me Off, who won his seasonal debut by 9¼ lengths in 1:54.2 - a clocking which was not only a lifetime best but also equaled the fastest mile by a three-year-old trotter anywhere in North America this year (also in 1:54.2 so far was the colt Really Fast at The Meadowlands). The winner of his Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship at two (though this race was technically a "nw 1 p/m race"/maiden), Top Me Off could mature into a national-caliber stakes colt for trainer/driver Todd Schadel, who is also co-owner with his wife Christine along with Rick and Regina Beinhauer. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/The Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Captaintreacherous gelding Rogerthat Bluechip made an early move to control the pace, rested to the half, then sped home in :55.2 to win the $12,000 pacing feature for males in a lifetime best 1:52.3 during the Sunday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Jason Bartlett drove the winner, who has now taken two straight since coming to Pocono for trainer Andrew Harris and the ownership of Martin Budkey and Michael Goldberg Racingllc, and may be headed for better things. ROGERTHAT BLUECHIP REPLAY   In the co-feature for distaffs, the Quality Western mare Peggy J spent a long time in the two-wide path to get to the lead in front of the stands, but once there she could not be dislodged and won in 1:54.3. Simon Allard handled the sulky duties for trainer Jeff Sorenson and owner Paula Sarcone. PEGGY J REPLAY   Fastest mile on the card was the 1:51.1 turned in in the nightcap by the So Surreal mare Surreal Feeling, lowering her mark by 2/5 of a second after setting virtually all of the pace and finishing in :27.2. Trainer Dale Lawton co-owns the impressive mare with Chris Lawton, and Jason Bartlett guided her to the quick clocking. In all, eight horses set new lifetime marks during the program, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees. SURREAL FEELING REPLAY   Matt Kakaley led all drivers with three sulky successes Sunday, including the night's fastest trotter, Great Unknown, who reduced his mark to 1:54.2. The Monday afternoon card at Pocono will feature the third and final preliminary of the Game Of Claims Trotting Series action for $15,000 base-price horses, three $15,000 divisions which will decide who will qualify for the $30,000 Championship on March 29 - and out of whose barn the finalists will be racing, what with 24 claims in the first two prelims. Monday's first post is 12:30 p.m. EST; program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The highly-anticipated return of the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Nicholas Beach to Pennsylvania took place Wednesday morning at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where he streaked a last quarter of :26.2 to win a qualifier in 1:54. Nicholas Beach, a $110,000 yearling, showed precociousness at two by following up a second in his debut with a 1:53.2 win at Pocono on August 19. But then Nicholas Beach did not get back to the races for 551 days, trying unsuccessfully to qualify once at three, and finally returning to the track and winning twice at Pocono at the end of winter 2020. Another 172-day layoff ensued (remember COVID), and Nicholas Beach came back ready, winning seven of eight starts and finishing second in the other. He took a mark of 1:49 at Philly on August 28, coming his back half in :53.3 from post eight. His last 2020 victory was at Yonkers on November 23, and his new connections, which include trainer Jennifer Bongiorno, brought him back out for a March 6 qualifier at Meadowlands where he won in 1:53.1 from post ten. The next three finishers in that mile - Backstreet Shadow, Patriot Nation, and This Is The Plan - have earned $3.8 million among them (Nicholas Beach has $70,450 on his card), and an average mark of 1:47.3. The sharp victory for driver Matt Kakaley at Pocono Wednesday again points to what seems like a vast potential in the horse if he can realize it. Two other horses broke 1:55 during the "balmy" (high 30s) Wednesday morning session at Pocono. The double stakeswinner Shouldabeenatd, now four, triumphed in 1:54.3 for Kakaley and trainer Ron Burke, and Ghost Dance, a New York Sire Stakes winner in his earlier days, was along in 1:54.2 for driver Tyler Buter and trainer Scott Blackler. From the PHHA/The Downs

The M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series kicked off on Tuesday night (March 2) at Yonkers Raceway with a trio of $15,000 harness racing divisions that were won by Flirty Forty, Dragon Roll, and Turnthefrownaround. Flirty Forty (Matt Kakaley), sent off at 21-1 in the first split, sat third while 1-9 favorite Pettycoat Business (George Brennan) led through fractions of 28.1, 57.1, and 1:25.3. Sound Idea (Scott Zeron) stalked Pettycoat Business from the pocket and then tipped out two-wide before they turned into the lane, with Flirty Forty tracking Sound Idea's bid before going three-wide in the stretch. It was a thrilling battle to the wire, but in the end Flirty Forty had the best kick, getting up to win by a head in 1:55 1. Sound Idea was second, and Pettycoat Business had to settle for third. Mark Ford trains Flirty Forty, a 4-year-old daughter of American Ideal, for owner Bay Pond Racing Stable. This was her fourth career win, and she has now earned $42,452. Flirty Forty paid $45.40 to win, the 2-1 exacta returned $171.00, and the trifecta kicked back $406.00.   The 4-5 favorite Dragon Roll (Jason Bartlett) dashed to the lead from post five and put up stations of 28.2, 58.3, and 1:27.1 in the next section. Despite the well-rated tempo, Dragon Roll had to dig in determinedly in the last quarter, initially to fend off a first-over try from Pray The Rosary (Brent Holland), and then to deal with a big close from Break The Deal (Zeron) through the stretch. Although she made the chalk players and her connections sweat it out, the wire came up in time for Dragon Roll to tally over Break The Deal by a nose in a 1:57.1 mile. Pray The Rosary held third. Dragon Roll is a 4-year-old Roll With Joe mare owned and trained by Ricky Bucci. Dragon Roll now sports a record of 4-4-8 from 21 career tries, and she has pocketed $149,073. Dragon Roll returned $3.70 to win. The 5-6 exacta paid $29.00 and the trifecta of 5-6-8 was worth $357.50. The last flight saw Somebeachsomefra (Zeron) pop out of the pocket to take over command from Special Achiever (Bartlett) on the way to the 28.3 opening quarter. Somebeachsomefra would continue to front the field to the half in 58 seconds and the three-quarters in 1:26.3, with even-money choice Turnthefrownaround (Brennan) vacating the cones out of third early on the last turn. Somebeachsomefra still had a clear advantage turning for home and responded when Zeron called on her in the lane, but Turnthefrownaround wore her down in deep stretch to prevail by a neck in 1:56. There was a dead-heat for third between Special Achiever and Off The Press (Jordan Stratton). The winner is another 4-year-old by Roll With Joe and is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Phil Collura. Turnthefrownaround scored her fifth victory in her 30th trip behind the gate, and she has now banked $129,660. Turnthefrownaround returned $4.30 to win. The exacta paid $11.40, and the two trifectas kicked back $21.60 (Special Achiever third) and $39.40 (Off The Press third). The M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series has additional preliminary legs on Tuesday, March 9 and Tuesday, March 16, and the final is slated for March 23. The boys take their turn in the M Life Rewards Gents Pacing Series on Wednesday night's (March 3) 10-race card at Yonkers, competing in four divisions of their first round. For full results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Game Of Claims Pacing Series will again be featured this racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun, with 58 of the amazing 60 horses claimed during opening weekend (for $1,001,500) returning for second preliminary round action for their new connections. There is a slight "bump-up" in claiming price each prelim week of the Game Of Claims, so this Saturday afternoon seven $25,000 divisions will feature horses with a baseline tag of $27,500. Only the thirteenth race, the last prelim at this level, features a matchup of two winners from opening week - one who was not claimed, I Get That, who paid $83.20 in winning for trainer Mark Akins and draws post four here; and one who was taken, American Ideal, who will begin from post six for trainer Daniel Renaud. Saturday's card, which begins at 12:30, also brings together five $15,000 sections of pacers who will go for a base tag of $17,500. Again, it is their last prelim of the day, race twelve, which finds winners squaring off, and again there is one who was claimed last week (Sunset Braydon, post six, trainer Kelly Hastings) and one who was not (Fernado, post four, trainer Jennifer Bongiorno). Sunday's twilight card at 5 p.m. has four $10,000 divisions for horses with a $12,500 price before any allowances, and all four of this level's winners in round one have drawn into separate divisions this time. Such is not the case in the five $7500 divisions for $9000 base-tag performers that evening; the eighth race section, for example, will match three first leg winners who did not have to adjust to new surroundings, but here will have to adjust to starting on the right-hand side of the gate: Dontcallmefrancis (post six, trainer David Russo), Onlythetuffsurvive (post seven, trainer Marc Mosher), and Pop Icon (post nine, trainer Dennis A. Laterza). Since Pocono lost its scheduled opening card on February 6, a special card has been added for this Monday, February 22, with a 12:30 post time, with overnight horses featured during the program. FINISHING LINES - Horsemen are reminded that nominations for the Game Of Claims Series for trotters starting with a base price of $15,000 are due by this Saturday, February 20. ... Veteran John Kakaley drove three winners during the Wednesday morning qualifiers at Pocono. John is the father of Matt Kakaley, who won seven races here on opening weekend; Matt also grabbed himself a qualifying victory. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The 2021 harness racing season got underway on Saturday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. While the temperature hovered in the low- to mid-20s, the action was hot on the racetrack, at the claiming box - and if your horse was driven by Matt Kakaley, who captured six winners on the opening day card. Featured during the curtainraiser were the first preliminary legs of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for two divisions: horses with a $25,000 base tag and horses based at $15,000. The claiming prices rise a little in the next two preliminaries - which may be part explanation for the incredible total of 41 claims during the card. $825,000 worth of horseflesh went home to a new barn after the races as hopefully the right horse for their purchasers to chase after their $50,000 and $30,000 Championships respectively on March 6. There were seven $25,000 divisions of the action for the $25,000-priced set, with Kakaley winning three times in the class. His fastest win in the group came with the American Ideal gelding American Rebel, who sat a groundsaving journey then angled out in the lane to lower his mark to 1:52.3 for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and the ownership of Glenn Goller, Abraham Basen, and David Postman. Unfortunately for those connections, American Ideal was one of six overall Game Of Claims winners to be purchased out of his race.   The 1:52.3 clocking was matched by another winner in the higher-level action, with the Mach Three gelding Lord Willoughby A one of a minority of horses on the lead to do well on the arctic day. Despite only one race in just under two months, Lord Willoughby A paced bravely late to win for owner/trainer/driver Larry Stalbaum. The fastest mile in all the Game Of Claims action came in one of four $15,000 divisions for the $15,000-tagged pacers, with the Always A Virgin gelding Sunset Braydon continuing his hot form with a 1:52.1 win for driver Jim Pantaleano, coming off his 8000th career win on Thursday; trainer Justin Pirillo; and Fox Racing Inc. The Royal Art gelding Royal Heart won the Game Of Claims Series Championship for $15,000 horses here last year, and he got his 2021 off to a good start by winning a division in 1:54.2 despite a two month layoff. Royal Heart was one of three Kalaley winners for this price tag as well, with Matt driving for trainer Clay Faurot Jr. and owner Chelsey Faurot. Both Sunset Braydon and Royal Heart were claimed out of their races. Quickest of all the Saturday competitors at Pocono was the richest one - Western Fame, with the son of Western Ideal raising his career earnings to $1,803,025 with a 1:51.1 victory. Jordan Stratton rated the half, then sent the talented pacer through the chill in :54 the last half to tally for trainer Shane Tritton and owners Bruce Soulsby, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables LLC, and Kapildeo Singh. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Simon Allard, Matt Kakaley, and George Napolitano Jr. each had a harness racing driving triple on the Tuesday afternoon card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and among them they swept the Rainbow Pick 5 bet's races, the last five on the card. Since the biggest win price in the sequence was $14.60 and three were under $6.00, the carryover pool for Rainbow Pick 5, which requires a bettor to have a unique ticket with all five winners to take down the big jackpot, grew to $239,477.19 for Saturday afternoon's card as there were multiple consolation winners. Tuesday's driving triple brought Napolitano's tally for the week at Pocono to seventeen in four cards. "George Nap" has driven exactly 250 winners in the period since July 1 (for comparison, North American leader Aaron Merriman has had 208 in the last three months through the Tuesday afternoon card at The Meadows), and George will be in action on the last day of September tomorrow at Harrah's Philadelphia. With the coming of October, Pocono reduces its basic schedule to three cards a week during the month, with racing starting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Tuesdays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. From the PHHA / The Downs

YONKERS, N.Y. - “He gives me a sense of something special.” That’s how Matt Kakaley describes American Courage, a 2-year-old colt who’s undefeated in six starts, all with Kakaley in the sulky, including the elimination and final of the MGM Springfield Stakes at Yonkers Raceway and three legs of the New York Sire Stakes. The pair will put their win streak on the line again Tuesday night (Aug. 18) at Yonkers in the fourth leg of the NYSS for freshman pacers. Kakaley first heard about American Courage from trainer Travis Alexander while the colt was still training in Florida, with the conditioner indicating, ‘he thought he had a pretty nice colt.’ Kakaley, who is based in Pennsylvania, intended to travel to the Sunshine State to train American Courage, but never got the chance once the coronavirus pandemic effectively halted travel throughout the United States in mid-March.  Once American Courage shipped north for the racing season, Kakaley trained American Courage twice, once at the farm and again at Pocono Downs. “He was nice, but I don’t try to get too high on them when they’re training down because they’ll prove us wrong more times than not,” Kakaley said. “He was smart on the track. The one time I trained him at the farm, he could just sprint out of a hole real quick, no problem. Good gait. Everything was good about him, there wasn’t really any knocks about him. He was a professional to sit behind, he was good like that right from the beginning.” American Courage qualified June 24 at Pocono Downs. The colt raced in third throughout before charging home with a :29 final quarter to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:57.2. “The qualifier, he was good, he wasn’t great,” Kakaley said. “He had an ear hood on and he was really quiet. He was good, not great, but I was very happy with him, it was a perfect first qualifier for him.” Alexander entered American Courage in a $10,400 overnight at Pocono June 30 and the race proved eventful. Starting from post six, American Courage kept about a half-length off the starting gate and took back into fifth early as rivals Big Luciano and Sir Lovealot BC battled through a :27.1 quarter.  American Courage angled first over at the half, but was soon forced three-wide as 50-1 Spellbinding pulled in front of him nearing the backstretch. Kakaley took back, then sent American Courage three-wide again up the backstretch. American Courage put a head in front of Big Luciano by the three-quarter pole and kicked away in the stretch under Kakaley pistol grips to win by 6 lengths in 1:54.1.  “I just wanted to get away in mid-pack, make one run with him, and try to give him a good learning experience and teach him a little bit,” Kakaley said. “It was kind of a messed-up race and for him to handle the whole thing the way he did, I came off the track and I told Travis, ‘he’s better than I thought he was.’ Travis never really gave me a notion that he was really high on him because I don’t think he wanted to get let down if something happened with him. “I got shoved three-wide at the half, someone came out underneath me. I backed up, waited a little bit and then swung him three-wide around the three-eighths pole and he cleared in three steps,” Kakaley continued. “He just did it really good and professional. The way he handled a horse coming out underneath him, me grabbing him up, and then starting him back up, I was very impressed that day.” American Courage aired by 7 1/4 lengths in his elimination of the MGM Springfield Stakes in his next start July 6 and returned for the $104,250 final a week later. After settling in fourth around the first turn, Kakaley gunned 2-5 favorite American Courage to the front up the backstretch, pocketing 5-1 shot Town Gossip and driver Joe Bongiorno. The backfield failed to make an impression and American Courage rounded the final turn with Town Gossip breathing down his neck. “The only time anyone has really gotten close was the final of the Springfield,” Kakaley said. “That was the only time I popped the ear plugs. Joey was right on my back on the last turn, I pulled the plugs out at the top of the stretch and I thought it was going to be a really tight finish, but he just hit another gear halfway down the stretch.” While Town Gossip was all-out down the lane, Kakaley gave American Courage a few whip-taps at the top of the stretch and again halfway to the wire. Although Town Gossip got within a half-length, he never went by. The pair were 6 3/4-lenghts in front of the third-place finisher Crystal Beach in a 1:53.3 mile. “After the wire, he wasn’t even done then. He was just going around there and when I asked him for some pace, he gave it to me and I was never worried. He was super,” Kakaley said. Since the MGM Springfield Final, American Courage rattled off three more wins in NYSS; he won at Saratoga in 1:54.3 by 6 3/4 lengths, paced 1:51.3 at Tioga while winning by 4 1/4, and most recently posted a 1:54.2 win by 10 1/2 lengths at Batavia Downs Aug. 9. American Courage has amassed $145,108 for owner and breeder Fiddler’s Creek Stable.  American Courage is a son of American Ideal out of the Feel Like A Fool mare Nota Fool Bluechip, a full sister to millionaires Feel Like A Fool and Fool Me Once. Fiddler’s Creek Stable and Travis Alexander bought Nota Fool Bluechip at the 2014 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for $60,000. Although she only went 1-for-14 in her racing career, American Courage is her first foal to race.  “It’s a special horse to be a part of. I thank Travis and I thank Fiddler’s Creek. It’s a great operation they have and they’ve spent a lot of time and put a lot of money breeding these horses,” Kakaley said. “He would go to the sales and keep the mares and breed them. I’m really happy for him because he deserves a horse like this for all the time and money he’s put into the business. He deserves to get rewarded with a horse like this. “Travis and Alaina (Alexander) do a great job with him, they take great care of him,” Kakaley continued. “I think Alaina goes back and gives him a walk every night after dinner time just to spoil him a little bit. He’s a very cool horse, too. He’s very calm in the paddock, relaxed. He doesn’t get riled up or rattled by much and on the track, he’s all business. He’s what you want, for sure.” American Courage is the 4-5 morning line favorite in the penultimate NYSS leg for 2-year-old colts and geldings Tuesday night. He will start from post four in a six-horse field that includes I’ll Drink To That, a $75,000 buy at the 2019 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for Craig Henderson and co-owners Lawrence Minowitz, Robert Mondillo, and Oompas Farm who enters off a 1:53.3 win in NYSS at Tioga Aug. 1. Dexter Dunn will drive I’ll Drink To That for trainer Chris Ryder. Bottle Rocket, Major Makeover, Sexy Blue Chip, and King James Express complete the lineup. “I’ll just play it how it is,” Kakaley said. “If anybody is getting real crazy, I don’t need to be in any speed battle or anything like that. He’s a really good horse and he’ll let me do whatever I need to do. However it looks is what I’ll do. We’ll have him on the gate and figure it out from there. Just float him around and when it’s time to go, we’ll just hit the gas pedal. Yonkers Raceway’s revised schedule features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, Friday nights through Sept. 12. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With open road late in the stretch, Filibuster Hanover fired past harness racing horses to land a head in front at the finish of the $61,540 Sam McKee Memorial Consolation on Saturday (Aug. 8) at The Meadowlands.   Our Majordan A, the 6-5 favorite, launched to the lead from post six while Jesse Duke N pushed from the pylons to race in the pocket. Filibuster Hanover sat fourth to a :25.4 first quarter and stayed put at the pylons as Our Majordan A posted middle fractions of :54 and 1:22.2.   Rounding the final turn, Donttellmeagain advanced first over to apply mild late pressure with Trump Nation and Geez Joe in tow -- second- and third-over, respectively. Into the stretch, Our Majordan A maintained a narrow lead as Jesse Duke N squeezed through a slim opening at the pylons, edging by the tiring pacesetter to take a short mid-stretch lead before Filibuster Hanover -- angling to the center of the track off a covered trip at the pylons -- gathered momentum and charged past to win in the final strides of a 1:49.1 mile. Our Majordan A settled for third.   Returning $58.40 to win, Filibuster Hanover won his first race from five starts this season and his 14th from 75 overall and has earned $1,758,544. Ron Burke trains the 6-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding for owners Burke Racing Stable, Joseph DiScala Jr., J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. Matt Kakaley drove the winner.   by Ray Cotolo, for the Hambletonian Society    

Hightstown, NJ - Harness racing driver Matt Kakaley was 16 when Rickards Ed arrived in the stable run by his parents, Linda and John, at Pompano Park. Matt was just starting to work in the barn more frequently and quickly formed a bond with the then 7-year-old pacer. Looking back, it was a time and relationship that helped propel Matt into his career in harness racing. In fact, such was his connection with Rickards Ed that four years later he and his mom bought the horse and still own the 22-year-old gelding in his retirement. "That horse was special to me," Matt said. "He came in the barn and he was the best horse my parents had. He was an open pacer at the time. I started working with him all the time and that was the turning point for me. He was just a great horse around the barn, great to work with. He was fun. "When I was a kid, that horse helped me make the decision, I'd say. That's when I felt like this is what I wanted to do." Rickards Ed won 14 races at Pompano Park that season, all with John in the sulky. The following year, Matt drove the horse to two of his seven victories. "He was just a really tough, tough horse on the racetrack," Matt said. "He was a Camluck (sired horse) and he had that toughness to him." A third-generation horseman, Matt follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, Joe, who owned horses and spurred the family's interest in harness racing, and his parents. He lived in Michigan until he was 12 and spent his teen years around Pompano Park. Matt has won 4,743 races in his career and was the youngest driver, at the time, to reach the 1,000 and 2,000-victory levels. But early on, Matt wasn't focused on becoming a driver. In fact, he only got his qualifying license because a friend was doing it. "It was weird, it wasn't something I was really pushing to do, to be a driver," Matt said. "Not at that age, anyway. But once I started qualifying horses, it was something I wanted to do." Matt mostly worked with his parents, but remembers getting to do interval training for Tom Audley, who was stabled next to his family's barn. "When I was a kid, Tom would have me go in the bike and I would be out there for a half hour or 40 minutes just going trips," Matt said. "I thought that was the greatest thing ever, to go speed in the race bike with those horses. And he paid me for it, so it was a win-win. "When I did get my qualifying license, there were a lot of people down there that helped me out and gave me chances in the qualifiers. Whatever anybody wanted me to do, I would do." Working with the horses gave Matt his greatest joy. "I just really loved being around the horses and taking care of them," Matt said. "The horses my parents had were older horses that had their issues. I would work on them. I would soak their feet, I would rub their legs, work hard on them. I just took pride in it. I took pride when they would race good. "Just working with them every day was a lot of learning. I really cared. I think I got that from my mom. She puts her heart and soul into her horses too." When he was 19, Matt accepted an offer from trainer Mickey Burke to move to Ohio and work for the Burke Stable. Soon, he was driving regularly at Northfield Park, although it did not begin smoothly. Enter another pivotal horse in teenage Matt's life, this one also with the name Matt - Matt Hershey. "Going to Northfield, I didn't know anybody; it was tough," Matt said. "I never raced on a half-mile track before and the first month or two was a little rough. I did win a few races, but there were a lot of bad mistakes and a lot of nights when I was thinking maybe it wasn't going to work out. I'm sure Ronnie (Burke) felt the same thing. He stuck with me and I stuck it out. I kept working hard and it got better. "A couple horses raced big for me. Matt Hershey, he was an open horse at Northfield, went on a really good run (with six wins and two seconds in a nine-race span) and I started picking up some live drives for other people. It just kind of turned the corner. He got good and then I started driving more and I started doing really good. It snowballed." In 2010, Matt received the Rising Star Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Last summer, while in the car on his way to Buffalo Raceway for New York Sire Stakes action, Matt's thoughts returned to his early days as a driver when in a week he would travel back and forth between Northfield and Buffalo (roughly seven hours round trip) while also hitting Tioga Downs on Sundays. "When I think back, I don't know how I did that," Matt said with a laugh. "Just young, I guess. I was just excited to drive anything, anywhere, so I did it." And whenever he thinks back to Rickards Ed, he can thank him for driving him in that direction. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager    

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Even as a certain well-regarded harness racing mare qualified at Dover in what was likely preparation for early season work, two horses who were very prominent in last year's Levy Series action turned in top qualifiers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Wednesday morning. Western Fame, the 2019 Levy Series winner who would go on to take a Franklin elim and finish third in the Franklin Championship here at Pocono, went straight to the lead for driver Simon Allard and trainer/brother Rene Allard, winning in 1:57.1. A last quarter of :28.4 made the winner of $1,745,185 clear at the wire for Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables LLC, and Gilbert Short. Later, former Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Champion Ideal Jimmy, a three-time Levy prelim winner last year, put in a sharp 1:53.4 mile on the engine, with a :27.3 last quarter leaving him 8¼ lengths in front of his field for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Erv Miller, and the Van Witzenburg stable. Also deserving mention are the team of driver Eric Carlson and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who combined on the first three qualifiying winners. Garcia-Herrera sent out a total of eleven horses in the prep races, a few times with two in the same race, and in addition to the three wins he had four second-place finishers and two third-place finishers. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the line-up for Thursday morning (Nov. 14th) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Matt Kakaley, Gary Seibel, Jason Turner, and Norton Shoemaker. Driver Matt Kakaley will talk to Mike and Mike about his drives in the Matron Stakes coming up Thursday night at Dover Downs in Delaware. Cal Expo Announcer and Hall of Famer Gary Seibel will discuss the fall/winter meet at the Sacramento oval, which just got underway. The Digital Brand Strategist for the USTA Jason Turner will join the duo to talk about the Youth Delegate Summit that took place this past weekend. Harrah's Philadelphia Starter Norton Shoemaker will give us an inside look at what goes into starting the races on a daily basis. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. From Post Time WIth Mike And Mike  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Keystone Endeavor gelding Endeavors Pride, under constant reminders from driver Matt Kakaley to keep to business during the mile, showed gameness in taking the featured $16,000 claiming handicap harness racing pace Saturday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Endeavors Pride was looped early, and was outside well past the :26.4 opening quarter. The winner did gain command before the :55.4 half, but he soon came under attack from first-over Rockin Rio. Endeavors Pride turned that one back on the far turn, then had enough to withstand a huge closing burst by Outkast Blue Chip, closer to the outside fence than the pylons turning for home, by 1¾ lengths in 1:52.3, with the mercury at 30 degrees. The eight-time seasonal winner is trained by Katie Remmerswaal for Doug and Leslie Berkeley. A "heat wave" came to the track midcard, with the temperature up to a balmy 32 degrees for the two $14,500 co-featured paces. The first of the co-features went to the Pocono Pacer of the Year, Atta Boy Dan, who won for the 15th time at Pocono during the meet, for the 18th time during 2019, and for the 70th time during his $937,942-winning career. What was unusual about this victory is that Atta Boy Dan came from dead last in the six-horse field, moving three-wide in the lane and showing his big heart to overhaul 60-1 shot A Real Miracle by ¾ of a length in 1:52.2. Simon Allard, who tied with Kakaley for night's honors with four victories, drove the ten-year-old Western Terror gelding for trainer Pete Pellegrino and owner Stephen Larkin. Perhaps the most impressive winner of the night was In Secret, who captured the second co-feature in 1:50.4, matching the lifetime best he established two weeks ago. The Bettor's Delight gelding had a horrible trip early - looped leaving, three-wide around a breaker, finally getting to tuck out of the first turn, then uncovered again into the next bend - but In Spades brushed right around the leader before the 5/8 and had a safe lead the rest of the way, winning under a hold. George Napolitano Jr. guided the sharp winner for owner/trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. 21-year-old trainer Hunter Oakes was honored as the track's leading conditioner in the UTR system in trackside ceremonies. The son of well-known trainer Chris Oakes, Hunter saw his horses post excellent numbers of 162-51-27-23-.455 going into the night's card, putting him ahead of all trainers who average a start per two cards. Speaking of two cards - that's all that is left on the 2019 Pocono calendar. The trotters and pacers will go at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and then next Saturday (7 p.m.), the final card of the local year will be highlighted by a Fan Appreciation Night that features a hooded sweatshirt giveaway while quantities (and size availability) lasts. The leading Driver awards will be given on the closing card, and the Trotter of the Year will be honored. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The veteran Conway Hall gelding Dayson was able to overcome a first-over journey, defeating Joey Bats by a half length in 1:54.3 to take the $17,500 featured harness racing trot Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Matt Kakaley kept the career winner of $1,118,127 midpack as first Sylvesteramerica IT and then Hill Of A Horse took command from the breaking leader The Lionking As near the quarter, then midrace moved Dayson to the outside to begin his grind forward. The nine-time seasonal winner never faltered, going to the lead in the stretch and then withstanding second-over Joey Bats for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr (the last-named had the pacer named for him win in 1:50.1 over sloppy going at Philly earlier in the day). A trio of $17,000 events for developing younger horses served as subfeatures. In the one trotting division, the Chapter Seven sophomore colt Refi also found the first-out route the path to glory, catching pacesetter Always A Dream by half a length in 1:55. Tom Jackson drove the recent addition to the Ray Schnittker barn for the partnership of Greenhorse and Robert Rudolph. The two pacing co-features were split by sex. The event for fillies and mares saw the Bettor's Delight mare Persistent Bettor save ground most of the way for driver Anthony Napolitano, then slide wide at headstretch and rally to outfinish favored Demi Hill by ¾ of a length in 1:52. Trainer John Hallett, who has done very nicely on the local scene since coming over from Tioga Downs, conditions the winner for Geoffrey and Rick Howles. In the co-feature section for pacing males, the American Ideal gelding JK Musicman looked like his closing kick might come too late to catch Rebel Rouser, who had used the Pocono Pike to grab a midstretch advantage, but driver Eric Carlson hustled the Musicman home to a 1:50.4 victory by ¾ of a length. Gilbert Garcia-Herrera trains the winner of $111,266 for his son Gilbert Garcia-Owen. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Harness racing's top trainer/owner combination, trainer Ron Burke and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, teamed with driver Matt Kakaley to sweep the featured races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono during a Tuesday twilight card. Kakaley used "pocket rocket" tactics to take both headliners, including with the Cantab Hall sophomore gelding Fanatic in a $15,000 trot. Fanatic sat behind favored Stonebridge Symba as that one set the tempo of :28.1, :58.1, and 1:26.4, with the leader getting second-half pressure from Winning America before that foe lost gait midway on the far turn. After the breaker Fanatic soon went to the outside and easily passed the pacesetter in the lane to win in 1:55.3, with Voodoo Man, who had a third-in trip, getting up for second, 1¼ lengths behind the winner. One day after Pocono hosted the 2019 Great Northeast Open Series Championships at 1¼ miles, the winner of the 2018 GNOS Mare Pace Championship, Bettorhaveanother, set a new lifetime best of 1:50.1 at the conventional mile distance, winning a $14,000 distaff pace. The victorious Bettor's Delight mare paced past Monica Gallagher midway on the first turn, then after the :26.4 quarter she relinquished the lead to Sidewalk Dancer, who took the field past the midpoles in :55.3 and 1:23. Bettorhaveanother, now a winner of $578,992, had plenty of pace after the two-hole journey, and she gained into a 27.1 final quarter to win by 1½ lengths over Sidewalk Dancer, who in turn photoed out Monica Gallagher for second. George Napolitano Jr. guided the last three winners on the card to tie his brother Anthony for the card's sulky honors with a trio of victories apiece. George and Anthony are 1-2 in the seasonlong Pocono driving win standings. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

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