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Matt Kakaley saw many of McWicked's victories during the horse's Dan Patch Award-winning campaign in 2014, but not from a favorable vantage point. Kakaley drove horses that lost nine times to McWicked that season, which culminated with McWicked being named harness racing's best 3-year-old male pacer. Last weekend McWicked won again, but this time Kakaley was much happier with the view. Kakaley began driving McWicked three weeks ago in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series and the two teamed to advance to Saturday's $529,000 championship at Yonkers Raceway by getting last week's crucial triumph following two second-place finishes. "It's cool how it's worked out where I finally get to drive him," Kakaley said. "I raced against him many, many times and he usually beat me every time I raced him. I think I got the better of him once or twice. "This has worked out good. He's getting sharp at the right time. He was super the other night."McWicked will start Saturday's Levy final from post No. 1 and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind favorite Somewhere In L A, who enters the race off back-to-back victories. Missile J, the only three-time winner in the event's five preliminary rounds, is 4-1 while defending champion Bit Of A Legend N is 5-1. "It's going to be a good race," Kakaley said. "It's a good group of horses. Missile J is the one to beat, but Somewhere In L A has been racing good, Bit Of A Legend has been racing good. I don't think any one horse lays over (the field). There are probably four or five that have a really big shot." McWicked, owned by Ed James and trained since last year by Steve Elliott, was stymied at ages 4 and 5 by throat issues that resulted in two surgeries. This year, the 6-year-old son of McArdle-Western Sahara has won three of seven races and earned $71,000 to push his career purses to $1.83 million. Kakaley and McWicked needed last Saturday's win to secure a place in the Levy final. A week after losing by a nose to Clear Vision in a gate-to-wire attempt, McWicked rallied from four-lengths back at the half to win by three-quarters of a length over Caviart Luca. "He's been getting better and better each start," Kakaley said. "The (previous) start, when I had him on the front, he was just kind of waiting on a horse and Clear Vision got him. I asked Steve to make a little bridle change and he was sharp. He was super. "He's getting right at the right time for this series and the rail always helps at Yonkers. He's just a pleasure to drive. He'll do anything you want. He's all professional. Steve has got him really good right now. Hopefully I can work out a good trip and give him a big chance to get the job done." Two races prior to the Levy championship, Kakaley will drive Medusa in the $310,600 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final. Medusa, who had one win in the five preliminary rounds for trainer Andrew Federico Jr. and owners Randy Bendis and Tom Pollack, is 20-1 on the morning line from post six. Mach It A Par, who shared the points lead in the prelims with Shesjustadelight N, is the 2-1 choice from post three. Regil Elektra, a three-time winner in the series, is 5-2 from post five and Shesjustadelight N is 4-1 from post two. "I wasn't too thrilled about the draw," Kakaley said. "She drew outside a couple of the main contenders. But she's been really good. She was really sharp when she won and she was really good last week, I just didn't really have much room up the passing lane. But she finished with a good amount of steam. "I was really looking forward to her being a live shot in there. Hopefully things will work out because she's been good. I think she still has a shot; she just needs the race to set up for her." Complete entries for the Saturday races at Yonkers can be found by clicking on this link. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager

WILKES-BARRE PA - Dash Of Danger kept his Bobby Weiss Series record after the third preliminary round for harness racing male pacers on Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, scooting up the Pocono Pike and reducing his mark a fifth to 1:51.3 to take his $15,000 section.   The Western Hanover gelding fled the gate quickly from his outside post six for driver Matt Kakaley, but met a determined railstarter in Dakota Jack, with the latter forcing the winner to take the pocket seat by the quarter in 26.4. Dakota Jack (2-1 odds) put up middle splits of 54.3 and 1:23.1 (the slowish third split explained partially by a headwind), with Dash Of Danger (the 9-5 second choice) in the two-hole and even-money favorite Rough Odds swinging three-wide off cover turning for home   The race was on among last week's three winners in the Weiss, and it was Dash Of Danger who emerged victorious, largely through track geometry, as he could duck into the Pike and then held off Rough Odds, who suffered a good deal of ground displacement while wide then straightening and, though closing perhaps strongest of all, missed by a length, with Dakota Jack third.   The victory was the fourth in succession, all at Pocono, for Dash Of Danger, who is trained by Ron Burke for the combine of Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Marc Reynolds.   Also finding the inside route the winning one over the red clay surface was the Somebeachsomewhere colt Magritte, who lowered his record four seconds to 1:51.4. Matt Kakaley also had sulky duties behind this winner and handled him the same way as Dash Of Danger, getting him into the pocket, then tipping him down into the Pipe, er, Pike, making the lead, then holding off the deep inside bid of Ascaryone Hanover by a head for trainer Anette Lorentzson and owner Ted Gewertz.   Also getting a new speed badge was the third winner among the males, the Bettor's Delight gelding A Bettors Risk, lowering his mark to 1:52.2 for driver Simon Allard, trainer/brother Rene, and owner Robert Hamather. A Bettors Risk made the lead, got a 58 middle half breather, then withstood Western Tyrant, who was sixth at headstretch but blasted home, only to miss by a half-length.   On the female pacers side of the Weiss, the Camluck mare Cousin Mary rang up her sixth straight win and boosted her Weiss record to 2-for-2 with a seemingly-effortless wire-to-wire victory in 1:53.2 - the only one of tonight's Weiss winners to not take a new mark, as she went a fifth faster upon coming to Pocono last week. But Cousin Mary won with what looked like plenty of reserve for driver Anthony Napolitano, as she ran her 2017 record to 9-for-11 and her seasonal bankroll to $112,500 for trainer Andrew Harris and owner Jeffrey Williamson.   Also raising her Weiss tally to 2-for-2 and taking a new record was the Bettor's Delight filly Miss Jones, who made a quick brush to the lead early in the backstretch and then won handily in the fastest female sector, 1:52.4, for driver Corey Callahan and trainer Joe Holloway. Owner Ted Gewertz, who also owns a piece of Monday Weiss winner Magritte as noted above, racked up an owning double, as he is in partnership on this promising miss with Crawford Farms Racing and Val D'Or Farms.   Trainer Scott Di Domenico, who recently reached the 1000 career training wins plateau, is well on his way towards 2000 with a talented barn that includes Angel's Pride, a Roll With Joe filly who made a sweeping late move en route to an open-length victory for driver Jim Marohn Jr. while lowering her mark two seconds to 1:53. Triple D Stables Inc. shares ownership of Angel's Pride with JFE Enterprise LLC, and with only six lifetime starts under her girth, it's logical to think that this filly can improve even further.   Trotters take over the Weiss Series spotlight on the Tuesday card at Pocono, with the third preliminary round for females and the second prelim for males each filling three divisions.   Jerry Connors   Pipe, er, Pike   And to explain the part in highlighted in bold in the fifth paragraph, here is a copy of the most famous painting of the Belgian artist Rene Magritte; the French translates to "This is not a pipe."        

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Western Terror gelding Dash Of Danger - and his driver - emerged with top honors during the opening night of the 2017 Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday, with "Dash" winning in 1:51.4 to knock a tick off his lifetime best, set last week.   The Ron Burke-conditioned four-year-old, owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Marc Reynolds, had to overcome the tough tuck-then-first-over trip, but he had more than enough power in the lane in winning by 2¾ lengths.   Dash Of Danger's driver, Matt Kakaley, was the human star of the night, as he posted six winners. He had gotten the card off to a spectacular start by reining home the longest shot on the board, Threeupthreedown, to a $119.20 payoff in the Early Double opener, then came right back with another of Burke's three winning charges on the night, Migrate Blue Chip, to complete a very rare "9-9" Double worth $501.80.   Other male Weiss winners in their first round preliminary divisions, like the ladies' worth $15,000 each, were Highalator and My Three Sons. Highalator, a Somebeachsomewhere colt out of the $900,000-winning world champion Higher And Higher, now has six wins in a row after a 1:54.4 - 56.3 - 28.1 engine effort for driver Victor Kirby and trainer Jenny Bier, who also co-owns the promising sophomore with co-breeder Charles Dombeck.   Kakaley was originally listed to drive the Real Desire four-year-old gelding My Three Sons, but he stuck with another Burke trainee, Art N Music, and settled for third, just a neck off, behind the 1:53.2 winner, who came from third-over to edge Dakota Jack by a nose for driver David Miller and owner/trainer Anette Lorentzon.   In the three Weiss cuts for distaffs, Miss Jones was impressive in what looked like the most competitive section, taking a new mark of 1:53.4 in front of Corey Callahan for trainer Joe Holloway and the ownership of Crawford Farms Racing, Val D'Or Farms, and Ted Gewertz. The Bettor's Delight filly opened a big lead, then had more than enough to withstand previously-unbeaten Chat Snap by a length on the money.   The brothers Allard, driver Simon and trainer Rene, posted five victories on Saturday's Pocono card and came back Sunday with four triumphs, one of them with the American Ideal mare I Deal In Kisses. The winner moved to the lead past the quarter and went on to equal her lifetime mark of 1:53.3 for Allard Racing Inc.   Driver Victor Kirby took another trip to the Pocono winners circle after guiding the Dragon Again filly Rewind Again to victory in 1:54.1, earning her a new speed badge by 2/5 of a second. Rewind Again, an easy wire-to-wire winner, ran her record to 3-for-4 this year and 5-for-8 lifetime for trainer Gary Simpson, co-owner with Eric Good.   Pocono's next program will be on Tuesday night, when three divisions of trotting females will open up their Weiss Series preliminary action.   PHHA / Pocono  

Ken Wood has seen Soto grow up. And now Wood is watching the harness racing 5-year-old pacer tangle with the big boys. Last week, Soto won his first-round division of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. Soto defeated a field that included defending Levy champion Bit Of A Legend N, 2014 Levy winner P H Supercam, open-stakes-winners Wakizashi Hanover and Somewhere In L A, plus world champion Always At My Place. "It was a privilege to be in the same race with those horses," said Wood, who owns Soto with Bill Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta. "There are a lot of horses better than him, but it's fun to have him be able to race with them. He's not the best horse in the world, but he's decent when he gets it his way a little bit." Wood and his partners bought Soto for $40,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale in 2015. Since the purchase, Soto has won 17 of 50 races and earned $234,045 in purses. For his career, the stallion has won 21 of 75 starts and banked $345,575. Soto won only one of his first six races for his new owners, but eventually worked himself up to the Preferred/Open level of competition at Dover Downs and Yonkers prior to heading to the Levy. "He didn't start off with a boom, but he's gotten a little better all the time," Wood said about Soto, whose family includes Dan Patch Award-winners Sportswriter and Precocious Beauty. "He was a nice purchase for the money we gave for him. "When you're at the sale, you look at all of them. He showed some 26-second last quarters early as a 3-year-old, and if they're doing that well early on, there's speed in there. He had a few little problems, but nothing serious. You know they're supposed to get better as a 4- and 5-year-old. That's what I go by, anyway. "I think somebody else helps me raise my hand once in a while," he added. "We're not geniuses, just lucky." Wood, who also co-owns 2015 Dan Patch Award-winning older male trotter JL Cruze with Dittmar and Iaquinta, uses the profits from his horses to fund his mission to dig wells for safe drinking water in Africa. Since starting his Lifetime Wells project in 2006, his group has put in a total of 1,700 wells in Ghana and Tanzania. "It's going good," Wood said. "We've got one rig drilling every day with the locals. When I go four times a year I drill in Tanzania myself. I spend three months every year over there." It was upon returning from one of his trips that Wood realized Soto had done a lot of growing up following his season as a 3-year-old. "I've never seen a horse grow from (age) 3 to 4, but he's grown six inches taller," Wood said. "He was a little bitty fella. I'd been in Africa for a while and when I came back he grew a lot. He's grown much taller than he was. I've never had that experience before when they grow at that age, but he sure did." Soto returns to the Levy Series this Saturday, where he will compete in the second of four second-round divisions. Soto, trained by Eric Ell and driven by Matt Kakaley, will start from post two. The field also includes Bit Of A Legend N, Rockin Ron, Mach It So, McWicked, Guantanamo Bay, and Blood Brother. The third division features two first-round winners --- Provocativeprincen and Missile J --- while the fourth division includes opening-round winner Long Live Rock. The series has five $50,000 preliminary rounds followed by a $200,000-added final, which is scheduled for April 22. "Post position helps quite a bit at Yonkers, naturally," Wood said, referring to high win percentages for horses with inside starting spots on the half-mile oval. "Luck went our way the first race anyway. We're just hoping he gets checks because we know those other horses are better than he is." If Soto keeps enjoying success, though, Wood might no longer be able to say that. "I hope I have that problem," Wood said, laughing. For Saturday's complete Yonkers card, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 25, 2017 - Saturday night offered any number of harness racing entrants for Yonkers Raceway's upcoming George Morton Levy Memorial Series (nominations close this Wednesday, March 1-hint, hint), including favored Soto (Matt Kakaley, $4.50), winner of the featured $50,000 Open Handicap Pace. In play from post position No. 4, Soto then gave up the baton to Somewhere in L A (Mark MacDonald) just before a moist :26.4 opening quarter-mile. After a 56-second intermission and moving down the backside, First Class Horse (Tyler Buter) took out of fourth, That one towed Guantanamo Bay (Jason Bartlett) while moving into a :27.4 third quarter (1:23.4). Somewhere in L A owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, was good, though not quite good enough. Soto dipped inside, edging past by a neck in 1:52.1. Third was a best-of-the-rest Guantanamo Bay, with Roland N Rock (Jordan Stratton) and Caviart Luca (George Brennan) rounding out the payees. For Delaware-based Soto, a 5-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven trained by Eric Ell for co-owners Kenneth Wood, William Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta, it was his fourth win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $27.40, with the triple returning $147. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 4, 2017 - Down-the-roaders Allerage Star (Andy Miller, $3.80) and Somewhere in L A (Matt Kakaley, $36.60) shared the Saturday night harness racing marquee, winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured $45,000 Open Handicaps. Allerage Star-odds-on favorite from post position No. 5-made short work of the week's featured trot. Benefitting from a scratch directly inside of her, she went the distance (:28.3, :58.3, 1:27.2, 1:55.3). Longshot Military Blue (Brent Holland) chased from the pocket before losing contact, while Rock of Cashel (Scott Zeron) wound up a three-hole second. The margin, two lengths into the lane, was the same at the wire. Springbank Sam N (Jordan Stratton), Dot Dot Dot Dash (Steve Smith) and season-debuting, eight-hole-assigned Hemi Seelster (Jason Bartlett) settled for the remainder. For Allerage Star, a 5-year-old daughter of Angus Hall trained by Julie Miller for co-owners Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz and Arthur Geiger, it was her first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $13.40, with the triple returning $58.50. Saturday's pacing feature saw eight-baller Somewhere in L A make the lead from Roland N Rock (Stratton) just past a nifty :26.4 opening quarter-mile. After a :55.4 intermission, slight 2-1 choice Long Live Rock (Dan Dube) moved from fifth. He closed in nearing the 1:24.4 three-quarters, but 'L A' maintained a short lead in and out of the final turn. The leader was tenacious, holding off Long Live Rock by a neck in 1:52.4. Caviart Luca (George Brennan) was a second-up third, with 'Roland' and Givenupdreaming (Bartlett) came away with the minor moolah. For sixth choice Somewhere in L A, a 6-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding trained by Rich Banca for co-owners D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Ianncone, TLP and Gandolfo Stables, it was his fourth win in five '17 tries. The exacta paid $164, with the triple returning $786. Saturday also featured an 'unhit' Pick 5, so Monday's gimmick begins with a carryover of $3,283.05 (50-cent base wager, Monday comprising races 7 through 11). Frank Drucker

That Matt Kakaley is nothing if not an instigator. What Kakaley did Saturday night was blow up Yonkers Raceway's Pick 5 harness racing wager, winning three-fifths of it with double-digit numbers. First, Kakaley--with a catch-drive--bottomed out the $45,000 Open Handicap Pace with First Class Horse ($29.40). Leaving outside his six rivals, First Class Horse was strung out early by Mach it So (Jason Bartlett), then just rolled along...as in 27 seconds flat, :54.3 and 1:21.4. He owned a length-and-a-three-quarter lead into the lane before the hooves began to get heavy. However, even a slow (:28.4) last quadrant couldn't get him beat, as 7-5 fave The Real One (Pat Lachance) closed well but not well enough. The one missed by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.3, with Mach it So, Blood Brother (Scott Zeron) and the ubiquitous Foiled Again (George Brennan) rounded out the payees. For fifth choice First Class Horse, a 4-year-old son of Western Terror owned by Vincent Laurenzo and trained by Tom Milici, it was his sixth win in 31 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $88.50, with the triple returning $150. As if Kakaley didn't throw enough of a monkey wrench into the Pick 5 players, he threw in Somewhere Fancy ($29.60) and Dream Out Loud N ($46.20) into the equation, ensuring much unclaimed coinage. Thus, Monday's program features a $7,260.85 double-carryover booster shot into the Pick 5 (50-cent base wager, races 6 through 10). Frank Drucker

FORT WASHINGTON, MD - All Bets Off was the beneficiary of a perfect trip and a contested early pace to capture the $100,000 Potomac Pace Tuesday evening while equaling the harness racing track record for a mile at Rosecroft Raceway. Driven by Matt Kakaley, All Bets Off was timed in 1:48.2 while edging Split the House by a nose and tying Nuclear Breeze's 2007 track record in the inaugural edition of the Potomac Pace. All Bets Off started sharply to sit second behind Split the House, who showed the way around the first turn and along the front stretch while setting blistering fractions of 23.3 (seconds) and 52.1 for the first half after withstanding an early challenge by Mel Mara and driver Corey Callahan. Split the House, the 5-2 second choice, continued to show the way along the backstretch, hitting the three-quarter pole in 1:19.3. Shamballa, the 9-5 favorite, was taken to the outside by Scott Zeron heading into the far turn but was unable to mount a serious challenge. Kakaley eased All Bets Off off the rail for the stretch drive and steadily wore down the game pacesetter at the wire. Wakizashi Hanover, driven by Trace Tetrick, closed strongly along the inside to finish third. "It was absolutely perfect. I got to follow David around there. That horse had to go big fractions because he left Corey out there in the front of the grandstand. A half in 52.1 (seconds) was smoking.," said Kakaley, who winner was sent to post as the 4-1 fourth choice.. "I was kind of worried about Shamballa being second-over but he really didn't factor in at all of the last turn. Coming off the turn, I thought I'd get right by, but Split the House was real game though." The Potomac Pace was the first race at Rosecroft to offer a purse worth $100,000 or more in nearly 10 years. The historic 67-year-old facility has hosted Breeders' Crown races, the Messenger Stakes and the William E. Miller Memorial. However, it hasn't been since the $122,170 Wayne Smullin Memorial in 2007 that a race with the significance of the Potomac Pace has been held at Rosecroft. Tuesday evening's mile invitational offered the eight pacers in the field opportunities to step out of the imposing shadows of Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit, harness racing's most celebrated and accomplished superstars. Always B Miki was recently retired, while Wiggle It Jiggleit is enjoying a well-deserved hiatus. "It makes a big difference for my horse because he's just as good as all the others. He's not quite as good as Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki, but he's a very, very good horse. I mean, he's got more than $2.2 million now," Kakaley said. Split the House held on to second after setting All Bets Off for his track-record equaling performance, a length ahead of Wakizashi Hanover. "I am really proud of my horse tonight. We set great fractions throughout the race and we just missed the win," Miller said. "I couldn't have asked for more from my horse, and look forward to our next race. Third-place finisher Wakizashi Hanover entered harness racing's spotlight when he pulled off an upset victory over Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $1 million North America Cup at Mohawk Raceway in June 2015. The son of Dragons Again, who is owned by Tri County Stable and Bruce Kennedy, defeated the odds-on favorite by three-quarters of a length while pacing in 1:48 for driver Tim Tetrick. A winner of $1.1 million in 2015 and named Canada's champion 3-year-old pacing colt or gelding, Wakizashi Hanover became hampered by a paralyzed flap in his airway the end of the 2015 season and he underwent tie-back surgery in April. Winless in four starts after returning to action in July, the Pennsylvania-bred pacer underwent a second surgery in August that has breathed new life into his racing career. "I had to settle for the 7 Hole early, and when the passing lane opened, he really kicked in," said Tetrick of Wakizashi Hanover. "He gave his race, and I was happy that he closed on them so well." The Potomac Pace may well be the last of All Bets Off's career. "I love this horse," Kakaley said. "He's had a great career. I think the plan is for him to go off to stud." David Joseph

TORONTO, November 19— Snowstorm Hanover grabbed control early in the mile and coasted around the Woodbine harness racing oval to a 1:55.1 win as the 7-5 public choice in the $404,000 Valley Victory Final on Saturday evening. The Ron Burke-trained colt by Muscle Massive out of the Andover Hall mare Snow Angel Hanover was sent to the front by driver Matt Kakaley, trotting splits of :28.1 and :57.3. Into the final turn, Snowstorm Hanover gained three lengths of separation from pocket-rider Moonshiner Hanover, as well as from first-over pursuer Jake and International Moni on his back. Trotting three-quarters in 1:25.3, Snowstorm Hanover still held a sizable lead through the stretch. International Moni fanned off cover and narrowed in on the leader while Jake chased them from third, but Snowstorm Hanover remained in front by a length. “I got to the front, just like in the elimination, and he held them off,” said Kakaley. “There was [a tense moment] in about the last sixteenth or so when I heard them coming, and he was getting a little tired, but he was still good.” Returning $4.90 to win, Snowstorm Hanover won his sixth race in 14 starts, amassing $395,919 in earnings for owners Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Phillip Collura. by Ray Cotolo for WEG Communications

WILKES-BARRE PA - Limelight Beach, the 2014 Little Brown Jug winner, held off a determined railshooting Katies Rocker to take the $20,000 featured harness racing conditioned pace Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:51.1. Matt Kakaley left strongly with the gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere but still had to race two-wide to get around Dreams Beachboy at the 26.2 quarter. Limelight Beach posted middle fractions of 55 and 1:22.4, had put away a strong first-over bid by Major Uptrend, and was able to get some separation from Dreams Beachboy, but in midstretch Katies Rocker, who had raced third-inside, shot to the deep Pocono Pike and gained rapidly, with Kakaley urging his charge on and withstanding that one by a half-length, with Theartofconfusion A coming from far back to edge Dreams Beachboy for third. The victory was the third in the last four starts for the lifetime winner of $1,175,699 - he had taken his previous start at Batavia on the Kane Pace undercard, with the feature taken by his Ron Burke stablemate Foiled Again. Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, M1 Stable LLC, and the Wingfield Brothers LLC are the "Superfecta LLC" owners. Rockin Rambaran won his fourth straight race when he took the $18,000 high-end claiming pace by two lengths in 1:51.1 for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Richard Banca, and the P T Stable. But "P T," who had claimed the pacer for $25,000 out of his last start, will (at least for now) have to settle for a "$9000 minus a week's training fees" profit from the horse, as he was taken Saturday right back by the Chris Oakes stable. PHHA / Pocono  

CHESTER PA - Before Sunday's $100,000 "Summer Sizzle Drivers Challenge" Championship at Harrah's Philadelphia, there were two simulations run of the eight-race harness racing contest, conducted among the eight busiest drivers during the summer at the two tracks of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association and with the top driver receiving a bounty of $40,000. Both projections had 28-year-old Matt Kakaley ahead after the third race, and indeed with two wins and a second in the opening trio of races, Kakaley was on top.   Where Kakaley might have problems, the projections said, would likely come after the third race, where Matt was scheduled to drive horses 20-1, 20-1, 8-1, 20-1, and 7-1 on the morning line, with none of this quintet rated to get a check by the early odds. And it was in these latter five contests that Kakaley really won the Challenge, as he finished third twice, fourth twice, and once fifth - remember, in races where he was not projected to get a check - adding valuable points to his commanding early lead and coming home a relatively easy winner.   Within a 35-25-15-10-8-5-4-2 (7 for scratch) pointsystem, Kakaley finished with 153 points, well clear of the only other driver to win twice in the contest, George Napolitano Jr., at 129. (Matt and GNap had one other thing in common: in each race, one driver was able to pick the horse he wanted to drive, with the first pick going to highest summerlong pointearner Napolitano and then down the line, and he and Kakaley, who had sixth selection, were the only drivers to win with the horse they picked, although in fairness we mention Andrew McCarthy's pick was scratched.)   The other drivers in final order were Tony Morgan (112 points and the only other "lap leader" besides winner Kakaley, as he won the initial race of the contest), Marcus Miller (104), Simon Allard (97), Corey Callahan (92), Pat Berry (91), and Andrew McCarthy (58). The tone of the contest was consistent - all-out - from the first ten seconds of the first race, where four drivers were rocking and urging their horses leaving (watch the replay), to the very end, where there was a photo needed to decide both second and fourth.   Besides the drivers, other horsemen was also rewarded for their efforts in staging the contest - all eight races used carried purses 20% higher than normal, and the horses who finished sixth through last brought home a $300 check. And all at the track were thrilled with the generally go-go-go, no-quarter-given racing - and watching Matt Kakaley earn his Drivers Challenge Championship with intelligent handling of his latter-race longshots, taking advantage of every opportunity (Kakaley noticed early on that horses wide at the ¾ and through the far turn were not faring well with a strong stretch headwind, so he raced "tucked in" much of the day then came along the inside) with his longshot legion to protect his early cushion and earn the "bragging rights' of the Championship.   Also raced Sunday at Harrah's were three divisions of three-year-old pacing colts going for $35,000 in the Liberty Bell stakes series, a PA-sired set of eight races, one per stakes division, to be held over the next two weeks, akin to Pocono's PA All-Stars and The Meadows' Keystone Classics. Home first in those contests were Another Daily Copy, a Somebeachsomewhere colt guided by Tony Hall to victory in 1:52.3 for trainer Nicholas Devita and owner Carl Sackheim; the McArdle colt Sam McSmith, who lowered his mark to 1:52.2 for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer Tony Alagna, and the partnership of Andray Farm and David J. Miller; and the Western Ideal gelding Ideal Jimmy, last year's 2YO PA Sire Stakes champion, who finally got his first win of 2016 by scoring in 1:53 for driver Marcus Miller, trainer Erv Miller, and owner D. R. Van Witzenburg.   Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association

WILKES-BARRE PA - The old adage has it that "I'd rather be lucky than smart," but it's better still when you're lucky AND smart - as was harness racing driver Matt Kakaley, who guided the American Ideal mare Scandalicious to a 1:51.3 in the $14,000 high-level conditioned pace for mares Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   Kakaley and Scandalicious, leaving from post two, were third-inside during contentious early fractions of 26.1 and 55, and things did not look good when Twin B Elite roared up three-wide down the backstretch to take on the softened front end, crossing down to two-wide and keeping Scandilicious pinned in before the parked horse had backed off. But the horse following Twin B Elite's cover could not keep up late on the backstretch, so Kakaley deftly moved Scandalicious to the outside at the ¾, and the career winner of $336,813 took it from there, drawing off to a 2¼ length victory for trainer Scott Di Domenico and owners JFE Enterprises LLC.   In the card's opener, the Western Terror sophomore filly Lindy's Nightmare ran her career record to 5 wins in 6 starts with a 1:52.4 victory in a $16,000 "nw 5 races" pace. But the victory for the 1-10* filly, who broke in her debut and since has been perfect, including winning the Town Pro Series Final at Mohawk, was very far from as easy as her backing might suggest - Brett Miller had to circle cover and come from fifth at the stretch call, and third 50 feet from the wire, to earn the neck decision for trainer Frank Antonacci and owner/breeder Lindy Farms of Connecticut.   Lindy's Nightmare had over $6600 of a $9500 win pool on her nose; in contrast, second race winner Keystone Tempo had only slightly more than $100 bet on her to win when she took an upset victory in the second half of the Early Double. Pocono's "Trot Man," driver Mike Simons, came first-over in the latter stages with his Cantab Hall mare to win in 1:56.1 and pay $77.20 for a $2 win wager. Double players fancied Keystone Tempo more than win wagerers did - the Early Double with Lindy's Nightmare on top returned $68.40.   PHHA / Pocono  

WASHINGTON, PA, July 23, 2016 -- Racing Hill, the 1-5 favorite, overpowered the field as he captured his elimination in the 50th edition of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids in 1:49.1, while Manhattan Beach found late racing room to take Saturday's other $25,000 harness racing elimination at The Meadows. Those two will be joined in next Saturday afternoon's $400,000 Adios final by Check Six, Lyons Snyder, More Dragon, Fernando Hanover, Another Daily Copy, American Passport and Big Top Hanover. Big Top Hanover earned his berth in the field of nine as the fifth place finisher with higher career earnings. Five of the six entrants trained by Ron Burke made it through to the final. The draw for Adios post positions is set for Tuesday at 12:30 PM and can be seen on Meadows Live! The connections of Racing Hill and Manhattan Beach will choose their post positions, with the others drawn randomly. Racing Hill boasted the strongest credentials in the field, having won the final of the $500,000 Hempt Memorial and finishing second in the Meadowlands Pace and the final of the North America Cup--each of those a $1 million event. If that grueling schedule of five tough races in little more than six weeks took anything out of him, it wasn't evident in his Adios elimination. The son of Roll With Joe-Chasing Ideals made the front with an extended quarter pole move for Brett Miller and thwarted the first-over challenge of Pick Six to down him by 3/4 lengths. Early leader Lyons Snyder finished third. "He's just ultra-sharp," said Tony Alagna, who trains Racing Hill for owner/breeder Tom Hill. "He felt so good coming out of the Meadowlands Pace--he was so fresh and jogged great--that I felt good about bringing him here. "If the final had been an open draw, I probably would have preferred that he sit in so we could make the final. But with the new format this year, it's important that you get to pick your post--especially with a bunch of Burke horses making the final. You don't want to draw the 9 hole against a big entry." The victory pushed Racing Hill's lifetime bankroll over $770,000. Manhattan Beach saved ground for most of the mile before Matt Kakaley sent him through a seam in mid-stretch. He held off the Lightning Lane charge of his stablemate, Fernando Hanover, to defeat him by a neck in 1:50.2, a career best. Another Daily Copy, who fronted the mile, saved show. Kakaley said he wasn't worried about being pinned late. "If I'd had to wait for the passing lane, he'd have got through," he said. "There was no worry there. He raced really good in the Meadowlands Pace, and he raced good today. He was sneaky good a few starts before the North America Cup. Hopefully he brings his 'A' game next week." Burke conditions Manhattan Beach, a Somebeachsomewhere-Benear gelding who soared over $200,000 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Geoffrey Lyons Mound and Wingfield Brothers. As thoughts turned to Tuesday's draw for post positions, both camps seemed to be heading in the same direction. "The inside here is tough to get off," Miller said. "I got away fourth today from the rail, and I was leaving just about as hard as I could. I could live with post 3, but I think I'd rather have post 4, right around there." Kakaley's reasoning was similar. "I don't want the 1 or 2 hole ," he said. "Probably 3 or 4." Evan Pattak

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Buffalo Raceway kicks off its final week of the 2016 harness racing season on Wednesday night (July 20) with the 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers ready to clash in three $36,566 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes.   Trainer Ron Burke is bringing in four promising youngsters and they all have been tabbed the morning line favorite in their respective divisions. He's bringing in Rock It Scott, Major Key, Miso Fast and Offdahook Bluechip to the Hamburg half-mile oval for the event.   With 10 track records either tied or broken this season at Buffalo Raceway, the standard for the 2-year-old colt and geldings is on the line. He's Watching holds the colt mark of 1:55.4 established in 2013 while Roadside Delight has the gelding mark of 1:56.3 set in 2010.   In the first division, Burke has an entry of Rock It Scott (Roll With Joe-Vanite Semalu) and Major Key (Art Major-Capri Hanover).They are the 2-1 top choice.   Matt Kakaley gets the call aboard Rock It Scott who easily wired the field at Saratoga on July 8 in the Sire Stakes. Starting from the rail, Rock It Scott won by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:54.3. They'll get the inside post once again in hopes of an instant replay.   Kevin Cummings will be behind Major Key who was seventh in his only start of his career after drawing the seven post. Major Key will get a better starting position this week as he got the four slot.   The main competition could come from Windsong Napoleon (Art Major-Bunny Dearest) with Jody Jamieson in the bike. Windsong Napoleon lost by a neck in 1:53.1 on July 11 at Mohawk Raceway. The Carl Jamieson-trained colt will start from the five post.   In the second leg, Miso Fast (Roll With Joe-Sakura Hanover) headlines the field after burying the field on July 8 in the Sire Stakes at Saratoga Raceway. He posted an impressive 3-1/2 length decision in 1:54.3. Kakaley will steer Miso Fast, the 8-5 morning line choice, from the six spot.   Leading driver at Buffalo Raceway Jim Morrill Jr. will try and contend with Outkast Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Hanover-Armbro Savannah). In his career debut, Outkast Blue Chip started from the seven position and managed to work out a fourth place finish. They'll try their luck from the three hole this time around.   The final division finds Offdahook Bluechip the 5-2 choice after a fast closing second place finish to Music In Art on July 8 at Saratoga. Starting from the three post with Kakaley in the sulky on Wednesday, Offdahook Hanover (American Ideal-Stefani Blue Chip) should be loving the long stretch at Buffalo Raceway.   Zampara put in a stellar performance in a $15,000 Excelsior A Series event at Saratoga on July 8 with a wire-to-wire victory in 1:54.3. Pat Lachance will guide Zampara (American Ideal-Valobesta) from the inside post and could be tough from the pylons.   Outrajus Blue Chip had tough luck in his career debut. He was interfered with at the start and lost all hope but finished sixth after trailing by more than 14 lengths. Morrill Jr. will drive Outrajus Blue for trainer Aaron Lambert.   There will also be three $15,000 Excelsior A Series races and two $6,500 contests in the Excelsior B Series on the card.   The Claiming Championship finals will also be contested. The first bracket is for filly and mare pacers ($8,000-$12,500 claiming price) who will tangle for the $14,800 purse while the other final features the filly and mare pacers ($4,000-$7,000 claiming price) who will go for $10,000.   The 12-race program gets underway at 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

The fastest mile for 2 year old trotting fillies at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon belonged to Mamora Bay, it was also Matt Kakaleys second win on the afternoon card. The betting favorite Mamora Bay (PP2) sat 3rd for most of the mile as she followed Hotel Royale and Shes Smoke, the filly was gaining maturity and momentum with every step, nearing the 5/8 mile marker she was out and it was a 2 horse race between Mamora Bay and Hotel Royale as the 2 opened up on the rest and trotted in tandem down the lane, Mamora Bay scored in 2:00.1, the fastest mile of the day for 2 year old filly trotters In the winners circle, Matt Kakaley told trainer Sam Schillaci "I really like her, she can move!" Schillaci responded with "I liked the filly all winter" She trotted her last quarter in 29.1 The Chapter Seven filly is owned by Peter Barbato of Demarest NJ., and earned her first Sire Stake Blanket of her juvenile career. In race 2, first heat of the $21,800 Sire Stakes, Sunshine Delight and John Campbell cut the entire mile, at the 5/8 marker Matt Kakaley was sitting 3rd tipped his mount Heels on Wheels to the outside, the filly was in cruise control and she eventually wore down Sunshine Delight to prevail in a neck victory. The Conway Hall - Go Go Dancer filly stopped the timer in 2:01, for trainer Ron Burke. She is now 2 for 2 in NYSS Company, the betting public favorite returned $3.20 Monticello Raceways leading driver Bruce Aldrich teamed up with Mighty Surf from the rail in the 4th, as the gate left Dazzlash took the lead and remained on the front for the first ¾, Mighty Surf was tracking in the 2 hole, Aldrich tipped his filly to the outside and she had the lead and 6 lengths in the blink of an eye. The Prayer I Am filly tripped the teletimer in 2:01, she is owned by Roy Dobbins and is trained by Dennis Larterza. In race 5 Dan Daley and Cherry Royal Ruby left hardest from the gate followed by Maewgonow, Cherry Royal Ruby took them past the ¼ in 29.3, as soon as they hit that marker Maewgonow and Marcus Miller took the lead, they passed the half in 1:01.1. Past the half Scarey Karie (Conway Hall - Alabama Hotel) was flushed out without cover and was forced to take the overland route down the backstretch, still first over at the ¾ she trotted in tandem with Maewegonow down the stretch to prevail in a gritty m win in 2:01 for Trainer Driver Phil Fluet and owner Michael Woodward of Oakfield NY. The last Sire Stake event came in the afternoons last race, by the time the 7 horse field came out of the first turn, all made breaks except Flyhawk Charm, and the daughter of Deweucheatumnhowe used this to her advantage and kept as much distance between her and the rest of the bunch to win in 2:03. Chris Lems drove the filly for owner - trainer Joseph Flynn In one of the Excelsior A division's Teasin N Pleasin and Larry "The Bomber" Stalbaum almost blew up the tote board, the longest shot in the field returned $79.00 to her backers. Former 1970's leading Monticello driver Thomas Corelli trains the daughter of CR Excalibur. In other Excelsior action, the winners were Eternal Flame AS (Archangel) 2:05 - $18.40, Mighty Surf (Prayer I Am) 2:01 - $5.80, Sevally (Conway Hall) 2:03.4 - $14.40 and Seven Diamonds (Chapter Seven) 2:05.1 - $9.50 by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Matt Kakaley knows there are harness racing fans that respect and appreciate All Bets Off and what the pacer has accomplished in his career. Still, he would like to see that group grow in numbers. He hopes to create some new followers on Sunday when he drives All Bets Off in the $179,000 Roll With Joe Stakes at Tioga Downs. All Bets Off, a multiple-stakes-winner of $1.86 million in lifetime purses, will start the Roll With Joe from post No. 1 as part of a four-horse entry from the stable of trainer Ron Burke. "I love that horse," Kakaley said. "You hear about all the big horses that they talk about in the older division this year, and how great it's going to be, and his name never gets brought up. I don't think that's fair to the horse because he deserves it. He's raced good every start this year. I think everyone kind of figures he's a little track horse, but I think he deserves a mention with those top free-for-allers. "There are some people that give him some recognition, but I think he'll win a couple big ones this year and set the record straight." Kakaley has driven All Bets Off for the majority of his career and won a number of top stakes with the now 5-year-old stallion. All Bets Off's list of victories include the 2013 Matron, 2014 Messenger, Milstein Memorial, and Art Rooney, and the 2015 Confederation Cup and Prix d'Ete. This year, All Bets Off has won three of 11 races and hit the board a total of nine times. He finished second from post eight in the Battle of Lake Erie, losing to 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, and second in the Levy Series championship to New Zealand-bred Bit Of A Legend. Wiggle It Jiggleit and Bit Of A Legend are the two top-ranked horses in the most recent Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. In addition, All Bets Off was a troubled-trip fourth in the Molson Pace, where he was beaten by 1-1/2 lengths despite a :26.3 last quarter-mile. "He's been big for me," Kakaley said. "I've won a lot of big races with him and he's put me in the national spotlight. He's given me some thrills, that's for sure. He's special to me." One of All Bets Off's best efforts this season came over a sloppy track in an upper-level conditioned race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. All Bets Off was last at the halfway point before launching a three-wide move on the final turn and getting to the front by mid-stretch. He won by 2-1/4 lengths over Bigtown Hero in 1:50.2 on May 14. "Just the way he did it and the way he felt that night, I knew he was getting sharp," Kakaley said. "You don't win from fourth over at Pocono, three wide on the last turn, against those horses. It just doesn't happen. "I think he's in career form right now and that start kind of proved it to me, how good he is. He was ready to get going and take on the big dogs, I think. He's just a handy little horse and I can do anything I want with him." All Bets Off and entry mates Take It Back Terry, Limelight Beach, and Always At My Place are 8-5 on the morning line for the Roll With Joe. The field also includes Rockeyed Optimist, State Treasurer, and McWicked. A son of Bettor's Delight-Armbro Penelope, All Bets Off is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and The Panhellenic Stable Corp. "He's been super," Kakaley said about All Bets Off. "I'm looking forward to him being good again Sunday." by Ken Weingartner

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