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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 31, 2019-It there was a better harness racing advertisement for New York-breds than the one Yonkers Raceway displayed Saturday night (Aug. 31st), one would be hard-pressed to find it. Odds-on favorite Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, $2.60) gave nothing else a chance in the 65th Yonkers Trot, dusting his seven foes in a track-record performance. From post position No. 4 in the $500,000 foray, Gimpanzee took the lead from 127-1 number Sheena's Boy before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. The early portion of the race included a pair of jumpers in Osterc (George Brennan) and Livinonthedash (Marcus Miller). While those two miscreants were leaving the course, Hambletonian winner Forbidden Trade (Bob McClure) was easing into a four-hole. That four-hole became a three-hole after Soul Strong (Dexter Dunn) broke. Meanwhile, Gimpanzee was all by his lonesome at the :56.4 half. Then, for good measure, he threw down a :56.4 back half, the result a 1:53.3, 4¼-length win in the second jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown. The mile was a track record for 3-year-old cots and the fastest Trot held here (Windsong's Legacy won the 2004 edition at Hawthorne in a stakes-record 1:53.1). Forbidden Trade, though no threat to the winner, was a credible, two-move second (in horse's and driver's first local appearance). A recovering Soul Strong was third, with 199-1 rank outsider No Drama Please (Jason Bartlett) and HL Revadon (Jim Marohn Jr.) moved up to fourth and fifth, respectively, after Sheena's Boy broke in a tiring pocket, disqualified from fourth to sixth. Osterc and Livinonthedash rounded out the order. For newly-minted millionaire Gimpanzee, a statebred son of Chapter Seven co-owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, it was his fifth win in seven seasonal starts (career 14-for-26, $1,145,996) The exacta paid $8.50, the triple returned $18 and the superfecta paid $269. Gimpanzee has won all five of his Westchester starts, while Sears won his fourth Yonkers Trot. "All the credit to Marcus (Melander) and his outfit," Sears said. "He's been a total pro from the first time I sat behind him, just so mature and he was ready tonight. It's just a pleasure to be a part of it." "When the draw came out, I knew it was his race to lose," Melander said of the defending statebred and overall divisional champion. He's been great on a half (-mile track). "He lays down in the turns over like a motorcycle. "This is an amazing race to win and I don't think there is a better 3-year-old on a half-mile track and I think he showed it tonight." A race later, the half-million-dollar 64th Messenger Stakes found American Mercury (Tyler Buter, $16.20) finding room inside and picking off 1-20 favorite Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn) in 1:51.3. Pole-sitting Bettor's Wish, as expected, left the gate, while American Mercury-from post No. 3-stepped around Branquinho (Ray Schnittker) and into an early pocket. They weren't going that much (:27., :55.3), not even when U S Captain (Bartlett) moved from fourth. That one did draw alongside Bettor's Wish, however, in a modest 28-second (1:23.3) third quarter. That left Buter with a decision...swing off the cones or hope to find room inside. Bettor's Wish-the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into the race-owned a length lead into the lane, gradually disposing of U S Captain. A patient American Mercury was loaded, though, needing a path to ply his craft. He was obliged when Bettor's Wish bore out and the pursuer took down the prohibitive fave, winning the second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown by a head. U S Captain was third, with Branquinho and Escapetothebeach (Corey Callahan) grabbing the minors. Waterway (Joe Bongiorno), Aflame Hanover (Sears) and Reigning Deo (George Brennan) brought up the rear. American Mercury (No.3) picking off 1-20 favorite Bettor’s Wish (Dexter Dunn)   --Mike Lizzi photo It was the first Triple Crown win of Buter's career. For second choice American Mercury, a soph Empire-bred American Ideal gelding co-owned by Crawford Racing, Northfork Racing, Chuck Pompey & Scott Bice and trained by Chris Oakes, it was his seventh win in 10 '19 tries. The exacta paid $22, the triple returned $57.50 and the superfecta paid $308.50. "He was super-sharp coming into the race," Buter said. "First and foremost, I owe [trainer] Chris [Oakes] a big thank you for giving me a shot on this horse. It's been a fun ride all summer, driving him and traveling New York. He definitely came through tonight and showed everybody what he can do. "I came off Dexter (Dunn)'s helmet there and he kicked on the gas. I think that might have been the winning move, because if I stayed there, Dexter was probably going to back into me as much as he could. So then, as soon as I was off his helmet, Dexter stepped on the gas, and I was able to get back down the inside and find a little room late, and it worked out" Asked when the 'switch went on' for American Mercury, Oakes offered, "When I gelded him. He was kind of a big, growthy 2-year-old. He had a lot of ability; we loved him training down, and quite honestly wasn't quite as good as I thought he would be at 2, even though he raced some pretty good miles. Bringing him back at three, he was training good, but I just thought he'd probably be more focused, mentally, for racing, as a gelding. We made that decision and I honestly believe it helped him a lot. "He means business now."   by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, August 28, 2019- Of the dozen 3-year-olds who entered this season's Messenger Stakes, four were trained by Tony Alagna. Students of history should not have been surprised, as Alagna has come within a dirty nose of winning Yonkers Raceway's second jewel of the harness racing Pacing Triple Crown four years in a row. In 2015, Revenge Shark (Yannick Gingras) won a three-horse photo, upsetting in the Messenger at odds of 9-1. By contrast, in 2016, Racing Hill (Brett Miller), in the midst of a $1.5 million season, fooled no one (we checked), winning this race at five-cents-on-the-dollar. In 2017, 22-1 Art Scene (Jordan Stratton) closed inside, running out of racetrack against another 1-20 winner in Downbytheseaside. Last season, Stay Hungry (Doug McNair) outgamed Jimmy Freight in what was essentially a match race. "(The Messenger) is a race that's very important to us," Alagna said from Lexington, KY. "Obviously, you have to be lucky, but also versatile and quick off the gate." Of Alagna's barbershop quartet for this season's 64th edition, three advanced to Saturday night's (Aug. 31st) half-million-dollar final...though not necessarily the one the trainer figured. "I thought Captain Trevor was our best chance, but he didn't race well (last in his elim)," Alagna said. He scoped sick and we're not sure why-maybe the shipping-but that's horse racing. We just move on." Alagna is 'moving on' with U S Captain (Jason Bartlett, post 4), Waterway (Joe Bongiorno, post 6) and Escapetothebeach (Corey Callahan, post 7). The trainer opined about the trio. " U S Captain raced very well last week (second to Aflame Hanover). It looked to me as if he lost some momentum getting jammed up behind the leader (eventual winner). "Waterway (third to Aflame Hanover) seemed to be doing his pacing at the wire, which is all you can ask. Last season, he paced in (1):50 and 1 and won the consolation of the Kentucky Sire Stakes (Red Mile), so we thought he'd come back a bit better, but he gets around Yonkers very well. "Escapetothebeach came first-up against Bettor's Wish (finishing third), and that's been the story of his season. He's had some bad posts and bad trips, but I think he's had a really good season." U S Captain and Waterway both entered the Messenger off local overnight wins, a fact that wasn't lost on Alagna. "We wanted to try them there with the Messenger in mind," Alagna said. As for the three-head monster looking to take down pole-sitting behemoth Bettor's Wish, "They came out of last week well and are coming into the final training well. "I'm looking forward to it." The Messenger goes as the seventh of Yonkers' dozen Saturday races, the card also featuring the 65th Yonkers Trot ($500,000) as the sixth race, $124,334 Hudson Filly Trot (4th race) and $122,224 Lady Maud (5th race). Those program pages accompany this release. First post is the usual 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

This Week: Yonkers Trot, Messenger Stakes, Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Pacing Derby, Simcoe Stakes, and Champlain Stakes, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ontario. Schedule of events: A busy holiday weekend of Grand Circuit action is led by a pair of Triple Crown events at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (Aug. 31). The Hilltop oval will host the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters and the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers. These races will be the second legs in the Triple Crown for their respective gaits. Also on the Saturday program will be the $124,334 Hudson Filly Trot for 3-year-olds and the $122,224 Lady Maud for 3-year-old filly pacers. Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk commences on Thursday (Aug. 29) with two divisions in the C$195,597 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Aug. 30) program is highlighted by a single division in the C$128,876 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters. The Saturday (Aug. 31) program features the C$600,000 Maple Leat Trot for older trotters and the C$525,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers. Also on the program will be a single division in the C$171,503 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers. Complete entries for the races at Yonkers are available at this link. Entries for the Woodbine Mohawk races are available at this link. Last time: It was a 'non-Bettor's Wish' Saturday night (Aug. 24) during Yonkers Raceway's eliminations for the 64th Messenger Stakes. Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn), the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into the second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, summarily disposed of his five rivals in a non-wagering elimination. A pole-sitting second early in the $40,000 off-the-card elimination, Bettor's Wish took over from American Mercury (Tyler Buter) before a :28 opening quarter-mile. After a pedestrian :58 intermission, Escapetothebeach (Corey Callahan) tried it first-up from fourth. Bettor's Wish led through a 1:26.1 three-quarters, eventually holding off American Mercury by a half-length in 1:53.2. Escapetothebeach backed away but held third, with Branquinho (Jason Bartlett) fourth. That quartet goes into this Saturday night's (Aug. 31) $500,000 finale of the Messenger. Bettor's Wish, a Bettor's Delight colt, has hit the board in 22-of-23 career tries (13 wins, seven seconds, two thirds, $1,131,600). He now has eight wins and three seconds in 11 '19 tries ($859,544). Chris Ryder co-owns (with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm and Bettors Wish Partners) and trains. "He was just so great, so easy to drive," Dunn said. "I can't wait for next week." The on-the-card, $40,000 elimination saw Aflame Hanover (Callahan, $6) finish what he started. From post position three, he never had an issue (:27.4, :56.3, 1:24, 1:52), beating pocketed pole-sitter U S Captain (Bartlett) by 1-1/2 lengths. Waterway (Joe Bongiorno), paired with the runner-up as the 17-10 wagering choice, was a closing third, while 37-1 rank outsider Reigning Deo (George Brennan) was a ground-saving fourth to advance. For second choice Aflame Hanover, a Russell Hanover gelding co-owned by trainer Linda and Tony Schadel, it was his fourth win in 16 seasonal starts. "He was super," Callahan said. "He did everything I asked. His hobble hanger broke, but that didn't bother him." Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 776; 2. Yannick Gingras - 581; 3. David Miller - 486; 4. Dexter Dunn - 419; 5. Brian Sears - 374. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 713; 2. Tony Alagna - 366; 3. Jim King Jr. - 299; 4. Marcus Melander - 279; 5. Ake Svanstedt - 233. Owners: 1. Fashion Farms - 192; 2. Brad Grant - 137.5; 3. Burke Racing Stable - 134.6; 4. Courant Inc. - 122.5; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 122.1. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Scioto Downs, and Tioga Downs. Woodbine Mohawk will feature eliminations of the Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial, Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-olds (filly pacers, filly trotters and colt trotters) and Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old pacers; Scioto will host the Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers and the Charlie Hill for older trotters; and Tioga Downs will feature a leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older trotting mares. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, August 26, 2019- Post positions have been drawn for Yonkers Raceway's pair of $500,000 Triple Crown harness racing events, set for the Saturday night (Aug. 31st). The 65th Yonkers Trot required no eliminations, as just eight 3-year-olds entered. Hambletonian winner Forbidden Trade drew post position No. 6 in what was carded as the sixth race. "It wasn't in our original plan, but plans change," trainer Luc Blais said. "We let him tell us what to do and he's been training so well." Forbidden Trade, a son of Kadabra, supplemented to the Trot after his 2-year-old season. He has won six of his nine starts at 3 ($671,484), the latest an Ontario Sire Stakes Gold event at Mohawk. The colt, has who made two half-mile-track OSS starts in his career, is owned by Serge Godin's Determination and driven by Bob McClure. "Always such a professional," McClure said in advance of his-and his date's-first trip to Westchester. "Just from Day One, he was mentally ahead of the other trotters.": Defending the honor of the Empire State is Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, post 4), a perfect 4-for-4 here including last season's $225,000 New York Sire Stakes title. The Chapter Seven colt, trained Marcus Melander for co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, has won 13 of his 15 career starts ($895,996). He enters off a paid sire stakes workout last weekend at Batavia where every other horse in the field went off at triple-figures-to-one. The draw for Trot entrants, with declared drivers... 1- Osterc (Dexter Dunn) 2-Soul Strong (g) (Dunn also listed) 3- Sheena's Boy (g) (Andy Miller) 4-Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) 5- Livinonthedash (Marcus Miller) 6-Forbidden Trade (Bob McClure) 7-HL Revadon (g) (Jim Marohn Jr.) 8-No Drama Please (Jason Bartlett) Messenger Stakes No. 64, which began with soph pacers, found elim winners Bettor's Wish (Dunn, post 1) and Aflame Hanover (Corey Callahan, post 8) starting from the pole and the polar opposite, respectively. Bettor's Wish, a Bettor's Delight colt-the lone $30,000 supplement into this race-has hit the board in 22-of-23 career tries (13 wins, 7 seconds, 2 thirds, $1,131,600). He has eight wins and three seconds) in 11 '19 tries ($859,544). Chris Ryder co-owns (with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm & Bettor's Wish Partners) and trains. The field for the Messenger (7th race)... 1-Bettor's Wish (Dunn) 2-Branquinho (Bartlett) 3-American Mercury (g) (Tyler Buter) 4-U S Captain (Bartlett also listed) 5-Reigning Deo (George Brennan) 6-Waterway (Joe Bongiorno) 7-Escapetothebeach (g) (Callahan) 8-Aflame Hanover (g) (Callahan also listed). Saturday night's dozen-race card also includes companion events, the $124,334 Hudson Filly Trot (4th race) and $122,224 Lady Maud (5th race). First post is the usual 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 24, 2019--It was a 'Non-Bettor's Wish' Saturday night (Aug. 24th) during Yonkers Raceway's harness racing eliminations for the 64th Messenger Stakes. Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn), the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into the second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, summarily disposed of his five rivals in a non-wagering elim. A pole-sitting second early in the $40,000 off-the-card elim, Bettor's Wish took over from American Mercury (Tyler Buter) before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. After a pedestrian, 58-second intermission, Escapetothebeach (Corey Callahan) tried it first-up from fourth. Bettor's Wish led through a 1:26.1 three-quarters, eventually holding off American Mercury by a half-length in 1:53.2. Escapetothebeach backed away but held third, with Branquinho (Jason Bartlett) fourth. That quartet goes into next Saturday night's (Aug. 31st) $500,000 finale of the Messenger. Lyons Johnnyjnr (Dan Dube) and Captain Trevor (Jordan Stratton) completed the order. Bettor's Wish, a Bettor's Delight colt has hit the board in 22-of-23 career tries (13 wins, 7 seconds, 2 thirds, $1,131,600). He now has eight wins and three seconds) in 11 '19 tries ($859,544). Chris Ry8der co-owns (with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm & Bettor's Wish Partners) and trains. "He was just so great, so easy to drive," Dunn said. "I can't wait for next week." The remaining half of the Messenger field was to be decided later this evening in the second, $40,000 elim, part of the dozen-race wagering program. The on-the-card, $40,000 elim saw Aflame Hanover (Callahan, $6) finish what he started. From post position No. 3, he never had an issue (:27.4, 56.3, 1:24, 1:52), whipping pocketed pole-sitter U S Captain (Bartlett) by a length-and-a-half. Waterway (Joe Bongiorno), paired with the runner-up as the 17-10 wagering choice, was a closing third, while 37-1 rank outsider Reigning Deo (George Brennan) was a ground-saving fourth to advance. Buddy Hill (Eric Goodell) and Air Force Hanover (Stratton) were fifth and last, respectively. For second choice Aflame Hanover, a Russell Hanover gelding co-owned by (trainer) Linda and Tony Schadel, it was his fourth (consecutive) win in 16 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17.60, with neither triple nor superfecta wagering offered. "He was super," Callahan said. "He did everything I asked. His hopple hanger broke, but that didn't bother him." Aflame Hanover traversed the Keystone State exclusively, only leaving (before Saturday) to finish fifth and fourth, respectively, in the elim and final of Mohawk's North America Cup. Saturday's pair of $46,000 Open Handicaps were won by... --Pace, None Bettor A (Bartlett, $2.30) in 1:50.4; --Trot, Will Take Charge (Stratton, $8.70) in 1:54.4. Undeservedly reduced to sidebar status were... --American History (Bongiorno, $5.60), who matched the all-age track record (1:50) in winning the $37,000 4-Year-Old Open Handicap after teletimer-torturing intervals of :26.2, :53.1 and 1:20.2; --Double-millionaire Bit of A Legend N (Stratton, $4.60), who grinded out a 50th career win (in his 150th life start), winning the $30,000, 11th-race pace (1:52.4). Open draws for next Saturday's four-pack of stakes--$$500,000 Yonkers Trot No, 65, Messenger, $124,334 Hudson Filly Trot and $122,224 Lady Maud Pace--take place Monday afternoon (Aug. 26th). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

When Bettor's Wish won May's Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers Raceway, it served as a harbinger of the colt's rise to prominence among harness racing 3-year-old pacers. On Saturday, he returns to The Hilltop for the first time since that victory, facing five rivals in the first of two eliminations of the Messenger Stakes. Bettor's Wish was not staked to the Messenger, so his connections paid $30,000 to make him eligible to the race. The colt, trained and co-owned by Chris Ryder, has won seven of 10 races this year (finishing second in his three defeats) and earned $839,544, which tops all horses in North America. He heads to his Messenger elim off victories in the Carl Milstein Memorial and a division of the Kentucky Sire Stakes. Interestingly, Bettor's Wish was not originally staked to the Art Rooney, either, but his connections paid a $6,000 supplement fee in February to make him eligible. Bettor's Wish won the $300,000 Rooney by six lengths. "He's been great," said Scott Ezzo, an Ohio resident whose wife Lisa heads Bella Racing Ltd., which is part of the horse's ownership group. "The Art Rooney was the one that set the stage. When he won that race, we said he was going to be something to enjoy. "We weren't sure (what to expect from Bettor's Wish entering this year). I talked to Chris throughout the winter and he said he was training really well. But Chris never tips his hand. So, when Chris supplemented him to the Art Rooney, that got my attention." Bettor's Wish has attracted plenty of attention in the months to follow. In addition to winning the Milstein and Rooney, the colt finished second in the Meadowlands Pace, missing by a head after being parked out the entire mile, and second in the Cane Pace, where he was defeated by a neck. He also was second in the North America Cup. Over the course of his career, Bettor's Wish has won 12 of 22 races and finished worse than second only three times, with two thirds and a fourth accounting for the remaining setbacks. "It's been tremendous; we've had a lot of fun following him," Lisa Ezzo said. "We have so many people that are following him along with us. We just love that. It's been fun for a lot of people, I think. "I think he's a little guy and people always want to root for the little guy. But he races big. He doesn't know his size." Bettor's Wish, by Bettor's Delight out of Lifetime Star, was purchased for $20,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale. He has earned $1.11 million so far in his career. The colt is owned by Ryder, Bella Racing, Leah Cheverie's and Art Zubrod's Fair Island Farm, and the recently created Bettors Wish Partners group of original owner Ken Solomon and newcomers Dana Parham and Eric Cherry's Let It Ride Stables. The Messenger Stakes is the second leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, following the Cane Pace (won by Captain Crunch, who did not enter the Messenger) and ahead of the Little Brown Jug. The Jug is held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, which happens to be the hometown of the Ezzos. Bettor's Wish is not eligible to the Jug, but a win in the Messenger final would allow his connections to supplement. Any horse not eligible to the Jug can be supplemented if it wins either the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Cane Pace, or Messenger. "Our backs are against the wall," Scott Ezzo said. "Hopefully we'll get in." Bettor's Wish is undefeated in three lifetime races at Yonkers, all this season, and has won six of seven career starts on half-mile tracks, such as Yonkers. His only loss on a half came by a neck in last year's Battle of Waterloo. He flashed his big-track ability in his most recent victory, stopping the clock in 1:47.4 at Red Mile, which is tied for the second-fastest mile of the season by a 3-year-old pacer. "He's proven to me to be very durable," trainer Ryder said. "Every time he races, he does something that impresses you, he does something good. It's just a good ride, we just have to keep it up. We're just taking it week by week." The Ezzos have enjoyed success with other horses, such as 2006 Breeders Crown winner Charley Barley and world-record-setter Kiss Me Onthebeach, but Bettor's Wish has been something else. "It's just been incredible," Scott Ezzo said. "We've had some good horses, but he's the best. I'm not taking anything away from the other ones, but he's like the Energizer bunny; he just keeps going, and going, and going." Joining Bettor's Wish in the first Messenger elimination, which is a non-betting race, are Captain Trevor, Escapetothebeach, American Mercury, Branquinho, and Lyons Johnnyjnr. Bettor's Wish starts from post one with regular driver Dexter Dunn. The horses in the second elimination, which is race five on the betting card, are U S Captain, Air Force Hanover, Aflame Hanover, Waterway, Buddy Hill, and Reigning Deo. Buddy Hill is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

This Week: Messenger eliminations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; Nassagaweya, Eternal Camnation, and Maple Leaf Trot eliminations, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ontario; and W.N. Reynolds Memorial, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: This Saturday (Aug. 24), Yonkers Raceway will host a pair of $40,000 eliminations in the Messenger Stakes for sophomore pacers, the second leg of the sport's pacing Triple Crown. The top four horses in each elimination will return for the $500,000 final on Aug. 31. Also on Saturday, Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk Park will feature a single division in the C$228,100 Nassagaweya for 2-year-old pacing colts, two divisions in the C$224,478 Eternal Camnation for 2-year-old pacing fillies; and a pair of C$40,000 eliminations in the Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters. On Sunday (Aug. 25), Tioga Downs will card four sets of W.N. Reynolds Memorial events for freshman pacers and trotters. Complete entries for the races at the U.S. tracks are available at this link. Entries for the Mohawk races are available at this link. Last time: Greenshoe (Brian Sears) rebounded from his defeat in the Hambletonian to win the $330,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old open trotters on Saturday night (Aug. 17) at Vernon Downs. Greenshoe rebounded from his loss in the Hambletonian to win the $330,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial. Fotowon photo. Marseille (Ake Svanstedt) assumed the lead heading to the first quarter in front of Don't Let'em (Yannick Gingras) who took up position in second, with Sears waiting patiently in third with Greenshoe ($2.30). Mareseille set a modest first quarter of :27.1 before rationing out the speed to the half in :56.3, where Greenshoe made his move first-over heading into the final turn. Turning for home Marseille had a short lead past three-quarters in 1:25.1, but he could not fend off the pressure from Greenshoe who powered past through the stretch to a convincing six length victory. Greenshoe's stablemate, Green Manalishi S (Tim Tetrick) finished second, while Marseille held on for third. Greenshoe is trained by Marcus Melander for owners Courant Inc., Morten Langli, Hans Backe, and Lars Granqvist. For the Father Patrick sired 3-year-old, it was his sixth win in eight starts this season. The Ice Dutchess (Yannick Gingras) scored a victory in the co-featured $135,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Starita (Dexter Dunn) jumped to the front out of the gate parking The Ice Dutchess ($5.80) to the first quarter of :27.1. After seizing the lead, The Ice Dutchess controlled the tempo to the half in :56.2. Evident Beauty (David Miller) was the first to make a move on the leader heading to the three-quarter pole (1:25.1), but that challenge was repelled by The Ice Dutchess who was two lengths in front turning for home. The Ice Dutchess faced no other challengers through the stretch and won by a decisive 1-3/4 lengths in 1:52.4. Evident Beauty held on for second, while Starita had to settle for third. The Ice Dutchess is owned by Coyote Wynd Farms and is trained by Nancy Johansson. The Muscle Hill sired filly now has four wins on the season and nine career victories. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 731; 2. Yannick Gingras - 566; 3. David Miller - 444; 4. Dexter Dunn - 409; 5. Brian Sears - 344. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 673; 2. Tony Alagna - 282; 3. Marcus Melander - 279; 4. Jim King Jr. - 274; 5. Ake Svanstedt - 231. Owners: 1. Fashion Farms - 182; 2. Burke Racing Stable - 127.1; 3. Courant Inc. - 122.5; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 114.6; 5. Jo Ann Looney-King - 101.2. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Yonkers Raceway and Woodbine Mohawk Park. Yonkers will feature the Yonkers Trot, Messenger Stakes, Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud. Woodbine Mohawk will offer the Canadian Pacing Derby and Maple Leaf Trot, as well as Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers and Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Stay Hungry has now won two of the three jewels of harness racing’s Triple Crown for pacers and Six Pack won the Triple Crown jewel, the Yonkers Trot, to headline an actioned packed card at Yonkers Raceway. In the seventh race $500,000 Messenger Stakes for three-year-old pacers it was Babes Dig Me and driver George Brennan getting the early lead, but driver Doug McNair had Stay Hungry on the move and they took command by the opening quarter mile in :27.1. Coming around the second turn, driver Louis Philippe Roy came first-over from fourth place with Jimmy Freight and took off after Stay Hungry and that became a dogfight going to the half mile in :55.3 as McNair would not let Roy get by him. Those two continued their battle down the backstretch to the three-quarters in 1:23 and in the stretch Jimmy Freight tried but could not catch Stay Hungry who went on to win by a neck over Jimmy Freight in 1:52.1. Topville Olympian (Jim Morrill, Jr.) was third. It was the fourth win in ten starts for Stay Hungry, a son of Somebeachsomewhere, trained by Tony Alagna and owned by Bradly Grant of Milton, ON and the Estate of Irwin Samelman of Las Vegas, NV. He paid $7.80 to win. “The front end is usually not his forte,” Doug McNair said of Stay Hungry. “But he did it tonight. He’s very relaxed, you can drive him with two fingers. Tony (Alagna) does such a great job training him. “The last 16th we were both tired,” McNair said. “We had gone head and head for a half mile or so and in that last 16th my horse was lucky to hold on.” “It may not be his forte to go on the front end,” Alagna said. “But I knew he (Stay Hungry) could handle a half mile.  After he won the Cane Pace it was a no-brainer that we were going after the Triple Crown, that’s why we brought him here tonight. “Cat Manzi, who works for me,” Alagna explained,” brought him here a week before the eliminations and trained him so we had his gear set to go. He did a great job helping me get him ready.” Alagna said they would discuss whether to take Stay Hungry up north to Toronto for the Simcoe Stake next week or just give him a rest before going for the final jewel of the pacing triple crown, the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio on Thursday, September 20. Stay Hungry Stay Hungry Interview Six Pack easy winner in $500,000 Yonkers Trot Six Pack and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt were able to score a seven and three-quarters length romp in capturing the 64th edition of the Yonkers Trot, the second leg of harness racing’s Trotting Triple Crown, Saturday at Yonkers Raceway. The purse was $500,000. It was Lindsey’s Pride and driver Marcus Miller who shot out to the early lead and parked out Six Pack and Svanstedt to the opening quarter mile in :28.4. Once on the lead, Six Pack was on cruise control for Svanstedt, holding the field at bay past the half mile in :58.1. Heading to the backstretch, Helpisontheway (Jim Morrill, Jr.) came first-over with Maxus (Mark MacDonald) second over. In the backstretch, Svanstedt opened up on the field with Six Pack at the three-quarters in 1:26.3 and they went on to win with ease in 1:54. Helpisontheway was second with Lindsey’s Pride third. The time of the race was the fastest Yonkers Trot ever at the track. It was the sixth win in nine starts this year for Six Pack, who paid just $2.50 to win. The son of Muscle Mass is co-owned by Ake Svanstedt with Little E LLC of NY, Stall Kalmar of Sweden and Lars Berg of DE. “The good horses (Six Pack) are good at age 2 and get better at age 3.” Svanstedt said. “The horse to beat was #1 (Helpisontheway). I was not worried about the horse in front of me early. “Now we (Six Pack) have two New York Sire Stakes to race in to make the final,” Svanstedt said. “Then we will supplement to the Kentucky Futurity at the Red Mile.” Six Pack World Record tied in $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot   The fourth race Hudson Filly Trot Final for three-year-old’s saw Plunge Blue Chip, the 1/5 betting favorite and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt barely hold off Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller) by a long nose in 1:53.1. The clocking was not only the all age track record at Yonkers, but it also tied the world record set in 2013 by Frau Blucher. The previous all age track record at Yonkers was set by Quick Deal at 1:53.2 in 2013. Svanstedt left quickly from post one with Plunge Blue Chip and held the field at bay through quarters of :27.3; :55.3 and 1:23.2 before Miller was able to catch up with Supergirl Riley in the two-hole. Supergirl Riley made it a horse race down the stretch but Plunge Blue Chip had just enough left to win it at the wire. Lucky Ave (Daniel Dube) was third. It was the fourth win in nine starts this year for Plunge Blue Chip, a daughter of Muscle Mass. She is co-owned by Svanstedt of Wrightowns, NJ, Blue Chip Bloodstock, NY, Tomas Anderson, Sweden and Rick Zeron of ON. She paid $2.50 to win. “She had been pulling too much the first half,” Svanstedt said. “So, we made some changes. She is very well gaited so that is why she does so well on smaller tracks. She is very good now.” Favorite wins $112,904 Lady Maud Pace The fifth race Lady Maud Final for three-year-old pacing fillies started out with Better Than Happy and driver Joe Bongiorno taking the early lead from the rail with 1/5 favorite Alexis Faith (Jim Morrill, Jr,) sitting right on their backs to the opening quarter mile in :27.4. They raced Indian-style to the half mile in :57.1 when Jewels Forreal and driver George Brennan started up first-over with Majorette Angie (Brian Sears) following second-over. Once in the backstretch, Morrill pulled from the pocket and barely got out in front of Jewels Forreal and Alexis Faith cleared to the lead past the three-quarters in 1:25.3. Opening up two lengths on the field, Alexis Faith and Morrill cruised to the wire, holding off a late charge by Solitary (Jim Marohn, Jr.) to win by a half length in 1:53.4. Jewels Forreal was third. Sired by American Ideal, Alexis Faith is trained by Casie Coleman and owned by the West Wins Stable and Jim Fielding of ON, J Robert Darrow of OH and Kevin McKinlay of ON. She paid $2.60 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

YONKERS, N.Y. – Rene Allard admits Springsteen can be a complicated horse to deal with and the challenge is reflected in the colt’s results. His sophomore season has been a mix of impressive miles and dull efforts. He won the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial and two divisions of New York Sire Stakes, but came up flat in the Carl Milstein, Adios, and Art Rooney Pace.  Allard looks to make amends for the Rooney loss when he sends Springsteen out in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes Saturday night (Sept. 1), slated as race seven on a stakes-laden card. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven drew the inside while rival Jimmy Freight landed post eight. “We’re happy with the season. Obviously, he threw a couple clinkers, there’s a couple races I wish he would have shown up better,” Allard said. “The final of the Art Rooney, he tied up that start and then the start at Northfield. Other than that, he’s a nice horse, he’s got high speed. We’re happy with him.” Springsteen suffers from tying up when he trains too hard and deals with trying conditions, like long trips to the races and drastic changes in the weather. He can also be a difficult horse to drive. All these factors converged two starts back in the Milstein. After shipping all the way to Ohio, Springsteen choked in the race when Lather Up broke to his outside on the second turn. “He had some tying up issues and he choked. (Lather Up) made a break and he shut his air off. He’s a real tricky horse,” Allard said. “When he sees the gate, he gets a little grabby and sometimes he shuts his air off. When he shuts his air off, that’s it, the race is over. That’s why the drivers have to be a little careful with him.  “If he doesn’t tie up and doesn’t shut his air off, he’s probably as good as any 3-year-old colt out there,” Allard continued. “So, we just kind of keep our fingers crossed that everything goes good and have the equipment on him to control him and so far, 90 percent of the time it’s been working out.” Everything worked out in the Hempt Final at Pocono Downs June 30. Springsteen followed the cover of Hitman Hill and Lather Up as Dorsoduro Hanover paced through a :53.1 opening half-mile. Simon Allard tugged on the right line before the three-quarters and Springsteen charged three-wide. He circled Lather Up past a 1:20.2 panel, the 1-9 favorite off his North America Cup and Hempt elimination wins offering no resistance.  Allard drove Springsteen confidently into the stretch, the colt drifting wide and the driver still holding the whip over his shoulder as he leaned flat in the bike. Allard finally went to the whip in the final sixteen as Nutcracker Sweet shot through up the passing lane and put a head in front. Allard sat up in the bike and gave Springsteen a pair of right-handers and the colt extended, edging his nose in front just as the glow of the finish line lights appeared. He registered a head win in 1:48.3. “He’s definitely got high speed and he’s a nice horse and it’s been a very fun ride, for sure,” Allard said. Allard bought Springsteen with Bruce Soulsby midway through his 2-year-old season. After watching Springsteen use a :26.1 final quarter to finish second in a Metro Pace elimination at Mohawk last September for Chris Ryder, Allard and Soulsby finally came to an agreement to purchase the horse during the Grand Circuit meet at the Red Mile, adding partners Alan Weisenberg and Kapildeo Singh.  Springsteen finished seventh in the International Stallion Stakes in Lexington Oct. 7, but the June 2 foal kept on improving. He registered his first win in a $12,000 maiden at Pocono Oct. 22 and won the Matron at Dover in his next start. Springsteen capped his freshman year with a win in the Governor’s Cup elimination and a seventh in the final after being parked the mile. “We watched him finish second in the Metro Pace elimination and he came a huge last quarter. That’s when he caught my eye and I was talking to Bruce Soulsby about it and we ended up making a deal in Lexington. Chris Ryder did a tremendous job training him down and getting him ready,” Allard said. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t keep on going and keep on improving. Last year, toward the end of the year he just kept getting better and better.” Springsteen finished a distant second to Jimmy Freight in his Messenger elimination last week, pacing a 1:51.2 mile and finishing 3 ¾ lengths behind the latter’s track-record effort. Off a 14-day break since his Milstein effort, Allard was happy with the trial. “He was first-over to a horse that was just unbelievable. That was a huge mile, off 14 days and we don’t do a lot with him between races,” Allard said. “He’s one of those that you can’t train real hard between races, so I expect him to be a little better this week. I think he should be tighter. We just kind of keep him on his routine, light work every day. We don’t work him real hard, just kind of steady all week. No hard, fast miles, a lot of slow miles.” Springsteen already won the Messenger post position draw. Although Springsteen typically doesn’t show early speed, Allard loves the prospect of starting along the pylons while Jimmy Freight will start from the far outside. Last week’s other elimination winner, Babes Dig Me, drew post five while the other runner-up, JK Wildfire, drew post four. Stay Hungry will try to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive from post six. Winston, Topville Olympian, and Nutcracker Sweet complete the lineup. “Everything kind of has to go his way, but he has high speed and I think he’s in a good spot there. He’s got the rail, the best horse has the eight hole. I think the draw could not work any better,” Allard said. “Brian (Sears) is going to have to work his magic. Of all the drivers at Yonkers, Brian is one of if not the best ones and I have a lot of confidence in him, so I’m going to let him do his thing.” Saturday’s card also features the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-olds in race six where Six Pack is favored over Helpisontheway. Lindsey`s Pride, Lindy`s Big Bang, Maxus, Mississippi Storm, Tito, and The Veteran will try to upend the favorites. The filly companions to the Messenger and Yonkers Trot, the $129,014 Hudson Trot and $122,904 Lady Maud Pace go as races four and five, respectively. The night’s $44,000 Open Handicap Pace goes to post in race eight and features Bit Of A Legend and Evenin Of Pleasure. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

After a track-record performance in his Messenger Stakes elimination last week, Jimmy Freight will need to overcome the most unfavorable harness racing starting position at Yonkers Raceway -- post No. 8 -- in Saturday's $500,000 final. While that presents a degree of uncertainty regarding the colt's prospects in the race, owner Adriano Sorella is hopeful his horse possesses the skills to get the job done. Jimmy Freight, who won his Messenger elimination in 1:50.3 to become the fastest 3-year-old pacing colt in the track's history, will have regular driver Louis-Philippe Roy in the sulky for trainer Andrew Harris and is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Horses win from post eight at Yonkers at a rate of 4.1 percent. Posts one-through-five at the half-mile oval produce winners at a minimum 15.4-percent clip. "What are you going to do? You draw the eight-hole, you draw the eight-hole," Sorella said. "I'm not thrilled about it, but Louis knows what he's doing and the horse has been super, super sharp. He's a great half-mile horse and we know he can come from off the pace. We'll see how it plays out this weekend." Sorella, who paid $30,000 to supplement Jimmy Freight to the Messenger, would like to see the open draw for eliminations winners eliminated in the future. A number of stakes finals already permit the connections of elim winners to pick post positions for the final or allow elim winners to draw for inside positions prior to the open draw for the remainder of the field. "I knew going into (the Messenger) that it was an open draw, so it's not like it was a big shock to me," Sorella said. "I don't think you should be able to pick your post, but I think elimination winners should draw one-through-five, or something along those lines. If you want competitive eliminations, the elimination winners should get compensated in some way. "I know people will say it's only because we drew the eight-hole, but we've had this conversation all year when we've talked about these half-mile tracks." The Messenger is one of four stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Yonkers. The card also includes the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, which is the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown, as well as the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot and $112,904 Lady Maud. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT) with the stakes events going in succession -- Hudson, Lady Maud, Yonkers Trot, Messenger -- as races four through seven. Stay Hungry, who won the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown, the Cane Pace, will start the Messenger from post six. The final jewel in the Crown, the Little Brown Jug, is Sept. 20 at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio. Springsteen, who drew post one, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, followed by Stay Hungry at 4-1. Babes Dig Me, who won the other Messenger elimination in 1:52.2, is 8-1 from post five. Jimmy Freight, a son of Sportswriter out of Allamerican Summer who was born in Iowa and raced the early part of his career in the Hawkeye State, has won 15 of 25 career races and hit the board a total of 24 times. He has earned $519,274, with all but $6,120 coming since Sorella bought the colt in July 2017. Jimmy Freight won twice in Ontario last year and finished second in the Ontario Sire Stakes championship. He was lightly staked to races at the beginning of this season, leaving Sorella to supplement if he wanted to see Jimmy Freight compete in some of the sport's big events. Sorella paid $61,690 to get Jimmy Freight into the Meadowlands Pace and the horse finished in a dead-heat third in his elimination and fourth in the final. If Jimmy Freight wins the Messenger, he would be eligible to supplement to the Little Brown Jug in September. "We knew he would be good, we just didn't know how good he would be," Sorella said. "Training back, he was in Anthony Beaton's barn. I asked him what he thought when it came time for staking. I watched him train down and he looked good to me. I think we were a little more concerned about the horses coming back that were so strong at (age) 2 that we kind of left him out of a little bit and staked him more toward the end of the year. That kind of bit me. "It's been a fun ride, but it could have been a lot cheaper, that's for sure. But at the end of the day the horse deserves to be in those races and he's showed us that he's one of the top 3-year-olds. This is why you buy horses and you race them, to try to get a good one like this. When you have one, you don't want to think twice about some of the stuff you want to do with them. You want to go to those races so you're not kicking yourself afterwards for not trying." Jimmy Freight's wins this year include four divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes and a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes. He finished third to older rivals Sintra and McWicked in the Gold Cup, where he rallied from eighth place with a :26.3 final quarter-mile. "Maybe he shouldn't have been in there, but we put him in there anyway to give him a race," Sorella said. "He was trying the whole way and closing hard. I like the fact that he's got gate speed or can come from behind. We've seen him on the lead, but some of his better races have come from off the pace. "This horse has got a big heart and nothing really fazes him. He went a big mile the other night. We knew it was coming because he likes the half and he's a pretty handy horse. I don't know if we've seen the bottom to him yet, but I don't think we have." Following is the field for the Messenger in post-position order. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Springsteen-Brian Sears-Rene Allard-3/1 2-Winston-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-20/1 3-Topville Olympian-Jim Morrill Jr.-Chris Oakes-7/1 4-JK Wildfire-Jason Bartlett-Brett Pelling-7/1 5-Babes Dig Me-George Brennan-Tony Alagna-8/1 6-Stay Hungry-Doug McNair-Tony Alagna-4/1 7-Nutcracker Sweet-Jordan Stratton-Jimmy Takter-20/1 8-Jimmy Freight-Louis Roy-Andrew Harris-5/2  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, August 29, 2018-With Yonkers Raceway's featured half-million-dollar stakes races contested consecutively this Saturday night (Sept. 1st), handicappers having to chance to combine the pair. Yonkers is offering a special 'Triple Crown Daily Double,' comprised of Yonkers Trot No. 64 (6th race) and the 63rd Messenger Stakes (7th race). The final program pages for all four Saturday stakes (adding Lady Maud and Hudson Filly Trot) accompanies this release. First post for the dozen-race card is the evening norm of 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, August 29, 2018--In conjunction with the finals of the two Triple Crown race, the Yonkers Trot and the Messenger Stakes on Saturday and the Yonkers Raceway's inaugural French-American Trotting Club Series, the Empire Terrace shall be open on Saturday night and will offer a brunch buffet this Sunday (Sept. 2nd). The Terrace opens at 11:30 AM Sunday in advance of that afternoon's first post of 12:15 PM. The Raceway's French guests, as well as horsemen, owners and fans, can watch the races while enjoying 'themed' delicacies including French toast, Coq au Vin, Ratatouille, Enchaud Perigourdin pork loins, pasta with lobster meat in a cream sauce, an omelette station and other selections. The cost for the buffet is $24.95 per person (plus tax and gratuities), though there is no charge for participants in the French-American Trotting Club, courtesy of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. For reservations, please call (914) 457-2457. Please note that Trotting Club members are also requested to use the number to make their reservations. As a reminder, the Terrace is also open Saturday night (Sept. 1st) for the Raceway's pair of half-million-dollar Triple Crown events, the 64th Yonkers Trot and 63rd Messenger Stakes. Use the above number for reservations. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

This Week: Yonkers Trot, Messenger Stakes, Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; and Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Pacing Derby, Simcoe Stakes, and Champlain Stakes, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ontario. Schedule of events: A busy holiday weekend of Grand Circuit action is led by a pair of Triple Crown events at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 1). The Hilltop oval will host the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters and the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers. These races will be the second legs in the Triple Crown for their respective gaits. Also on the Saturday program will be the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot for 3-year-olds and the $112,904 Lady Maud for 3-year-old filly pacers. Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk commences on Thursday (Aug. 30) with three divisions in the C$202,476 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Aug. 31) program is highlighted by three divisions in the C$209,321 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and a single $153,996 division in the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (Sept. 1) program features the C$651,000 Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters and the C$600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers. Also on the program will be a single division in the C$169,183 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt trotters. Complete entries for the races at Yonkers are available at this link. Entries for the Woodbine Mohawk races are available at this link. Last time: Hambletonian Oaks champion Manchego delivered a stunning 1:51.4 stakes record performance to defeat Hambletonian champion Atlanta in Friday's (Aug. 24) $103,360 Casual Breeze at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The superstar fillies were squaring off for the first time in 2018 and went off as co-favorites at odds of 4-5 in a field of 10. Manchego delivered a stunning 1:51.4 stakes record performance to defeat Atlanta in the Casual Breeze at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Manchego and driver Yannick Gingras left strong from post eight, while Atlanta and driver Scott Zeron showed their usual early speed from post three. Driver Trevor Henry decided to mix things up by firing longshot Smoke And Mirrors towards the lead and kept Manchego out going around the first turn, as Zeron took back to settle third. The Jimmy Takter trained Manchego cleared to the top just strides after leading by three-quarters of a length at the opening quarter in :27.3. The Hambletonian Oaks champion continued to trot strong for the next eighth of a mile before Gingras tapped the breaks to grab a comfortable :28.4 second quarter. Atlanta was angled from the three-hole heading into the far turn, while Gingras and Manchego began to ramp up the tempo. Smoke And Mirrors gapped in the two-hole, which allowed Zeron to drop in with Atlanta and power up for the stretch battle. Manchego reached three-quarters in 1:24.1 with a 1-1/2 length lead on Atlanta. In the stretch, Manchego continued her powerful ways and didn't allow Atlanta to get any closer than her wheel. The Takter trainee trotted a :27.3 final quarter to defeat Atlanta by 1-3/4 lengths in a Canadian record equaling 1:51.4. Sorceress Seelster, who sat fourth most of the mile, finished 11 lengths back in third, while Blonde Magic was 12 lengths behind the winner in fourth. Friday's matchup between Manchego and Atlanta was months in the making. Manchego entered the season as the top filly after an undefeated rookie campaign. Atlanta made an immediate impact to start her sophomore season and eventually successfully took on the boys in the Hambletonian, while Manchego beat the fillies in the Oaks. "Everybody was talking about Atlanta and rightfully so, she's a great filly too, but I never lost confidence in mine and all along I thought I had the best filly," said Gingras following the victory. "It's just one matchup; they'll meet up again many times, but my filly was super strong tonight." A daughter of Muscle Hill, Manchego improved to 18 wins and nearly $1.4 million earned in 21 career starts for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding and Herb Liverman. She has now won six of nine this season and remains undefeated in three starts at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Rick Zeron trainee Atlanta suffered just her second loss in eight starts this season. The Chapter Seven filly's only prior defeat was a second in the first heat of the Hambletonian, which she followed up with an impressive victory in the final. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 748.5; 2. Yannick Gingras - 730.5; 3. David Miller - 429.5; 4. Scott Zeron - 315; 5. Jordan Stratton - 288. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 672.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 554; 3. Tony Alagna - 358; 4. Jim Campbell - 226; 5. Erv Miller - 220. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 148; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 143; 3. Fashion Farms - 139; 4. Brittany Farms - 122.4; 5. Robert Key - 120. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Scioto Downs, and Tioga Downs. Woodbine Mohawk will feature eliminations of the Canadian Trotting Classic, Elegantimage, Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial, as well as Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old pacers and Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old pacers; Scioto will host the Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers and the Jug Preview for 3-year-old pacers; and Tioga Downs will feature a leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older trotting mares. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, August 27, 2018-Post positions have been drawn for Yonkers Raceway's two, half-million-dollar Triple Crown events, Saturday night's (Sept. 1st) 64th Yonkers Trot and Messenger Stakes No. 63. The Trot, which required no elimination races, goes as the sixth of a dozen races (first post 6:50 PM). The draw yielded a nearly-complete alphabetical order...1-Helpisontheway (s, Jim Morrill Jr.), 2-Lindsey's Pride (g, Marcus Miller), 3-Lindy's Big Bang (g, Dexter Dunn), 4- Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt), 5-Maxus (Mark MacDonald), 6-Mississippi Storm (g, Jason Bartlett), 7- Tito (Bartlett also listed), 8-The Veteran (Jordan Stratton). [g- gelding. s-$30,000 supplemental entrant] The Messenger saw an original list of 11 entrants whittled down to the finale octet. The open draw turned Jimmy Freight (Louis-Philippe Roy)-he of the scorched-earth 1:50.3 romp in the second of last Saturday night (Aug. 25th) two $40,000 eliminations-into Jimmy (Fr)eight-hole, starting outside his seven rivals. Owner Adriano Sorella's $30,000 supplemental entrant (the only buy-in this season) set a track record for his age group and went faster than any final of this race held here. The other elim winner, Babe Dig Me (George Brennan), did so in a life-hest 1:52.2. He drew post No. 5 for the final (7th race), which autodrew as such... 1-Springsteen (Brian Sears), 2-Winston (g, Corey Callahan), 3-Topville Olympian (g, Sears also listed), 4-JK Wildfire (g, Jason Bartlett), 5-Babes Dig Me (George Brennan), 6-Stay Hungry (Doug McNair), 7-Nutcracker Sweet (Jordan Stratton), 8-Jimmy Freight (s, Louis-Philippe Roy). [g- gelding. s-$30,000 supplemental entrant] Saturday night's card also includes the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot (4th race) & $112,904 Lady Maud Pace (5th race) , both for 3-year-old ladies. (this story shall be updated) by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 25, 2018- Owner Adriano Sorella paid $30,000 for the privilege of Jimmy Freight entering the 63rd Messenger Stakes. We're surmising the other connections would be glad pay at least twice that much the privilege of Jimmy Freight exiting the 63rd Messenger Stakes. That's because Jimmy Freight (Louis-Phillipe Roy, $3.30) made Yonkers Raceway his very own veranda Saturday night (Aug. 25th), rolling in an elimination race while setting a track record in the process. The second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown began with a pair of $40,000 elims, five- and six-horse fields to determine the eight finalists for next Saturday night's (Sept. 1st) half-million-dollar finale. 'Jimmy,' making his-and his driver's-local debut, made short work of the second soiree. From post position No. 4, he waltzed around Westchester (:27.4, :56.2, 1:23.4, 1:50.3) with the greatest of ease. That :26.4 kicker gave Jimmy Freight the track record for 3-year-old colts, a tick faster than Source of Pride (2013). Pole-sitting Springsteen (Brian Sears) was out from third down the backside, moved to within a length-and-three-quarters in the final turn before being rebuffed. Jimmy Freight widened to 3¾ lengths and a place in the annals. Stay Hungry (Doug McNair) tried his luck from off-the-pace, rallying for third without ever threatening. A loosely-pocketed Winston (Corey Callahan) wound up fourth, with Decoy (Mark MacDonald) and Kwik Talkin' (Jordan Stratton) both outrun. For Jimmy Freight, a son of Sportswriter trained stateside by Andrew Harris, it was his eighth win in 13 seasonal starts (career earnings now over $519,000). The exacta paid $10, the triple returned $17.80 and the superfecta paid $50.50. "He's just perfectly suited for the half-mile track," Roy said. "I never had to pull the plugs. When we were in the third turn, he wanted to go even more." The opening elim for the Messenger saw polester Babes Dig Me (George Brennan, $6.30) retake from Topville Olympian (Sears), then hold both that one and a first-up JK Wildfire (Jason Bartlett) at bay (:26.3, 56.1, 1:24.3, life-best 1:52.2). Babes Dig Me defeated JK Wildfire by a hard-fought head, with Topville Olympian beaten a neck. The battle for fourth was equally interesting, as 7-10 favorite Nutcracker Sweet (Stratton) was poor but had just enough to photo longshot Wild Bill (Ray Schnittker). For second choice Babes Dig Me, a son of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by Brad Grant, Joe Sbrocco, Robert Leblanc & In the Gym Partners and trained by Tony Alagna, he's now 2-for-14 this season. The exacta paid $58.50, with neither triple nor superfecta wagering offer due to the abbreviated assemblage. "Cat Manzi, who works for Tony (Alagna) said I'd like him and he was right," Brennan said. "I learned he's handy and he can fight one off." The open draw is Monday afternoon (Aug. 27th) for the Sept. 1st card, featuring the Messenger, $500,000 Yonkers Trot No. 64 (second jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown), the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot & $112,904 Lady Maud Pace. Saturday night's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by favored Scott Rocks (Eric Goodell, $6.40) in 1:52.1. As for Sears, he won twice Saturday night, bringing the milestone-in-waiting career count to 9,998. Sunday afternoon's (Aug. 26th), latest "French' foray offers a first post of 12:45 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Driver Louis-Philippe Roy’s ride with Jimmy Freight to date has already been a fulfilling one. One of the first major stakes horses the Quebec native has traveled with, Jimmy Freight has taken the 28-year-old reinsman to the Meadowlands Pace and the Carl Milstein Memorial. The next step in the pacer’s journey, the $580,000 Messenger Stakes, brings Roy to Yonkers Raceway for the first time. “It’s nice to be racing on those tracks I used to watch on TV, and especially competing against those elite drivers,” Roy said. “Just meeting them was a big thing for me a few years ago, now racing against them is even bigger.” Roy became Jimmy Freight’s regular driver this spring when the colt entered Richard Moreau’s barn. The pair have registered seven wins together, including a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Mohawk and four splits of Ontario Sire Stakes. Jimmy Freight is 14-for-24 lifetime with $499,274 earned. “Jimmy is the easiest horse to drive, he can do whatever you want,” Roy said. “In front, off the pace, he doesn’t care, it’s the race that dictates the kind of trip will be the best for him, so that gives me more options and make my job easier.” Although versatile, most of Jimmy Freight’s success has come on the front end. He’s led gate-to-wire in four of his wins this season, including a 1:48.3 lifetime best at Mohawk August 4. The blazing mile came as no surprise to his driver. “He went a lot of fast miles against the OSS colts without needing any urging before, so I figured he could go that kind of speed if asked,” he said. Jimmy Freight wasn’t eligible to the North America Cup, but faced older pacers on the Cup undercard in the $100,000 Gold Cup. He came from 14 ¼ lengths out of it to finish third to Sintra and McWicked in 1:49 with a :26.3 final panel.  The Sportswriter son finished in a dead heat for third in his Meadowlands Pace Elimination July 7 and fourth in the final a week later, individually timed in 1:47.3. After two scores in Ontario Sire Stakes, including his 1:48.3 mile, Jimmy Freight went to Northfield Park for the Milstein. He set the pace there, but was caught in the final sixteenth by pocket-sitting Thinkbig Dreambig.  Roy is confident Jimmy Freight will register a Grand Circuit victory and thinks the Messenger is a prime opportunity to make the score. “I think he’s knocking at the door, I hope it’s going be his day soon,” Roy said. The Messenger drew 11 entrants, necessitating two $40,000 eliminations Saturday (August 25). The top four finishers in each elimination will advance to the final September 1. The rich Triple Crown card will also feature the $500,000 Yonkers Trot and the Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud Pace, each with an estimated $115,000 purse.  Jimmy Freight drew post four in the second Messenger elimination Saturday night. The 9-5 morning line favorite will meet Springsteen, a 5-2 shot from the inside post. The Rene Allard trained Rock N Roll Heaven colt finished seventh in the Milstein last out and won the Max Hempt at Pocono Downs in June. Stay Hungry won the Cane Pace on Hambletonian Day and looks to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive. He is 2-1 from post five with Doug McNair driving for Tony Alagna. Winston, Decoy, and Kwik Talkin complete the field. The first elimination features JK Wildfire, a 5-time winner this year who tries open stakes company for the first time this season. Jason Bartlett will drive for Brett Pelling. Babes Dig Me finished third in the Cane Pace and drew the rail for George Brennan and Alagna. Nutcracker Sweet was second in the Hempt and finished sixth in both the Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace. Jordan Stratton will drive the Takter-trained Bettor’s Delight son from post five. Wild Bill and Topville Olympian complete the lineup. First post time Saturday is 6:50 p.m. The 12-race card also features a $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. For entries to the races, click here.  by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

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