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Last night at Tabcorp Park Melton Terang once again proved a town rich in trots horsepower. Harness racing trainer Darren Cole, based in the western Victorian town, produced classy seven-year-old Exciteusinthecity first-up to win the Alabar Captain Sandy Free-for-All over 1720 metres. Rated perfectly by driver Tim McLean, Exciteusinthecity punched through from the pole gate to hold out fast starter Maximan early, withstood a challenge from It Is Billy at the bell and went on to score a gritty win by a metre in a mile rate of 1:55.7. The Metropolitan gelding joins guns such as Lennytheshark (2015) and Smoken Up (2009) on the Captain Sandy FFA honour roll. Not giving much away in his post-race interview, reinsman McLean said leading was the key to unlocking success for the gelding by Metropolitan out of Safely Kept mare Excite. “He loves getting to the front. He fought well to hold them off (tonight),” he said. When asked what was next for the 2014 Casey Classic and Gammalite winner, McLean borrowed a line from an old coaching manual. “We’ll just take it one race at a time.” Exciteusinthecity has now won 20 races, his stakemoney exceeding a quarter of a million dollars. VIDEO: EXCITEUSINTHECITY WINS THE ALABAR CAPTAIN SANDY FFA McLean has piloted the pacer to eight city victories. It Is Billy finished second to Exciteusinthecity, his vocal fan club appreciative of the Michael Barby-trained pacer’s efforts – cheering him hard with a lap to run and giving him another cheer post-race, while Metro Mike ran third. Dalvui Raceway Terang will host a seven-race program on Tuesday night, featuring the running of the 2016 Terang Guineas. McLean will be chasing another feature victory in that race aboard The Big Show, but Im Wrongly Accused from the Terang stable of Matthew Craven, exciting Sebastopol-trained King Of Rocknroll and Group 1 winning local Jilliby Jitterbug – one of five Marg Lee Terang-trained runners on the program – will all draw support from punters. Cody Winnell

When it comes to purchasing quality mares it appears that harness racing owner Tom Pollack hit the jackpot when signing the checks for Hoosier Park stalwarts Montenegro and White Metro. “I have about 65 horses right now and would like to get up to 100,” said Pollack. “I can’t say enough about the luck we have had with these mares. We are so fortunate to have them in our barn and really cannot wait to get them both started this year. “We were trying to get White Metro in the Invitational this week and Montenegro in the non-winners of $15,000, but the track decided not to go with those races so we are on the sidelines for opening night (April 1). All systems are go for both of them so we will have them racing again as soon as possible.” Montenegro, who is co-owned by Randy Bendis and conditioned by Jeff Cullipher, is an 8-year-old daughter of Camluck and the Fighting Major mare Cyber Wave. She is a half sibling to Mach Pride (Mach Three, $595,665) while her dam earned more than $700,000 with one of her stakes triumphs being the prestigious Orange and Blue final. Montenegro has emulated the success of her mother by compiling a record of 169-38-30-22 and banking $661,314. She set her lifetime mark of 1:50.2s at age five and she seems to relish any trip over the Hoosier Park oval where she competes frequently in Invitational events. In the 2-1/2 years she has belonged to Bendis and Pollack, the mare has collected nearly $300,000 and is a formidable foe over the Anderson surface on every occasion her name is dropped in the box. “Not only is she consistent and sound other than some small maintenance issues, but she is a sweetheart,” Pollack said. “She really is the perfect horse as you know every time you take her over she is going to give it her all. Randy and I try to concentrate on horses in the $40,000 to $80,000 range that will do well for us in Open events. We watched her for quite some time and thought she would be an excellent fit for our program. She has not only exceeded our expectations with all the money she has made, but has been a joy for us. When you have a horse that finishes first or second nearly every time she races, how can you ever say a bad thing about her? Actually we think she is a gem and wish they all could be that way.” White Metro is a 4-year-old daughter of Metropolitan and the Threefold mare Bye Bye Peachy Pie. While not as prolific as her older stablemate, the mare is an Indiana Sire Stakes victress and is a half sibling to Peachy’s Noble Sam (Nobleland Sam, $216,651), Noble’s Grand Slam (Nobleland Sam, $682,720) and All Got In (Allamerican Ingot, $112,013). Jell Cullipher, who co-owns the horse with Pollack, is the trainer of record and has been responsible for guiding her career. After just one victory from nine starts at age two, White Metro took 28 trips to the gate in 2015 with nine wins, two seconds and five third place finishes. Her lifetime earnings stand at $148,192 and her total record at 37-10-5-5. Pollack feels she will only continue to improve this year and is excited to witness her perform after a powerful qualifying effort at Hoosier Park on March 26. “Jeff has done such a terrific job with this horse,” he said. “She has been such a pleasant surprise with the way she came on last year and her qualifying races were outstanding. She finished up in the last one in 1:53.1 and came home her last quarter in :27.2 so you can’t get much better than that. It looks like she did it quite easily too. We are anxious to getting her rolling this year to see what she can do, but are already more than satisfied with what she has accomplished so far.” While seemingly blessed with a plethora of riches, Pollack is quick to point out how blessed he feels and how fortunate he is that Lady Luck dealt him such a strong hand. “I got hooked on this business in the late 1980s,” he said. “I was working at a golf course and was very into golf, when I kept being asked to go to the racetrack. I said no several times and really knew nothing about horse racing. Finally I gave in and after winning on some bets that evening I was hooked on the sport. “I have been ever since and I always say it is Doug Snyder’s fault because he just dominated the Meadows that night. He won like six races and one of them from the nine hole. I did not know him or anything about betting, but my friend told me whenever I saw his name on the program to put some money on him. I did and here we are years later. Doug and I are friends now and laugh about that night all time. “We have other mares that are doing extremely well besides Montenegro and White Metro. We realize how tough this business can be and not many people experience this kind of success. It is so sweet to be in this position with all these mares. “The reason we don’t have more male horses, is these ladies just seemed to fit the bill and we haven’t seen many of the other gender that we felt would work out this way. I can’t wait to see these two mares get into their 2016 season. We think it is going to be another outstanding year and we look forward to competing in the Indiana program. Hoosier Park is the right fit for both horses and trust me, I never imagined I would ever be in this kind of position two decades ago.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Speed maps that have Major Crocker and Mossdale Conner dicing for the lead in Saturday night’s harness racing showcase may be blown away by a local with lofty ambitions. Metro Mike, trained at Smythes Creek by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, drew barrier one for the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, a starting point connections will endeavour to capitalise on. "The barrier helps, he’s got a lot of gate speed, we will look to hold the front and see how he goes,” Stewart said. “It is our home cup, he has to take a step up against the other horses, but he is a quality racehorse.” She said the gelding by Metropolitan had a “freshen up” since finishing last when favourite in the Melton City Council Sprint on July 4 last year, only returning this month for one run at Ballarat before tackling the cup. On January 8 Metro Mike placed third behind Changing Code and Jaccka Art, battling on well after coming from the tail mid-race to finish within 4m of the winner. “He also had a few trials and he trialled pretty well. He had a pretty hard race first up, but did a good job,” Stewart said. “Now we’ve thrown him in the deep end, but he is a quality horse and if things fall right he should be a good chance to run a place.” The cup represents a step-up for the seven-year-old, whose 70 starts have yielded 20 wins and $189,000 in stakes, but Stewart is confident he can compete in this class. “It’s his first taste against a couple of the better ones. It’s not an outstanding field, I’ve seen stronger and he’s definitely got a chance,” she said. Key to any success will be Metro Mike’s ability to hold the front, or near to, amid a succession of likely challengers. “There’s definitely going to be pressure, because everyone will be working to be on the fence. It will be up to (driver) Jason (Lee) to sum up, but I’m confident we’ll be able to hold the front.” Also front of mind is the fact some challengers may be wary of burning too many petrol tickets ahead of the Victoria and Hunter cups. “We can afford to run along a bit stronger than they may want to, which is probably in our favour,” Stewart said. Should the cards fall their way, it would be the third time the Stewart and Tonkin stables have held the cup, following Restrepo in 2014, Safari in 2008 and Robin Hood in 2006. “It is always a race that we want to win. We have won it three times before and it’s a race we want to win again on Saturday.” by Michael Howard

Sapphire City (Jason Bartlett, $8.60) and Backstreet Hanover (Larry Stalbaum, $10) shared the glory Saturday night at the harness racing meeting at  Yonkers Raceway's winning the co-featured $48,000 Open Handicaps. Pole-assigned Sapphire City won the weekly pacing feature, chasing Forty Five Red (Mark MacDonald) before whipping him in a two-speed number (:27.4, :56.1, 1:24, 1:51.4). The final margin was a medium-sized nose a season's-best effort. The Real One (Pat Lachance) was a belated third as the 7-5 favorite, with Frankie's Dragon (Dan Dube) and E Z Noah (Brian Sears) completing the cashers. For second choice Sapphire City, a 7-year-old millionaire Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stables and Jordan Sklut, it was his fifth win in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $35.20, with the triple returning $150. The week's marquee trot saw the lass Backstreet Hanover-from post position No. 5-move from seventh turning for home to win going away. The margin was 2¼ lengths in a season's-best 1:55.2. Rock of Cashel (Tyler Buter) rallied for second with ABC Muscles Boy (Eric Carlson), Skates N Plates (MacDonald) and Tober (Jason Bartlett) settling for the remainder. The latter two mixed it up early (:27.4, :57.1, 1:25.4), helping the cause of the closers. Tepid 7-2 fave Theraputic (Joe Bongiorno) was a non-factor seventh. For third choice Backstreet Hanover, a 7-year-old daughter of Andover Hall trained by Chris Marino for owner David Hamm, it was her fourth win in 19 '15 tries. The exacta paid $115, the triple returned $744 and the superfecta paid $4,716. The Raceway's live season continues Monday (first post 7:10 PM), a "French-centric" Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

Ballarat based Jaimie-Lee King had the last laugh on her rivals when four year old Major In Art/Laughing Meadow gelding Major Laugh blitzed his rivals in the Fishers IGA Pace at the Arrat trots on Tuesday. Trained at Smythes Creek by “boss” Emma Stewart, Major Laugh raced and driven by Jaimie-Lee starting from the extreme draw settled at the tail of the field, with polemarker Under Your Thumb kept honest all through the race by the favourite Four Starzzz Fella outside him. Send forward four wide in the last lap, Major Laugh followed Zermanion three wide in the back straight, before sprinting like a gazelle four wide to lead on the home turn, scoring by 9.5 metres over Our Sir Ivanhoe along the sprint lane after trailing the pacemaker and being held up at a vital stage, with Nobetterthanthis (one/one) third. The mile rate was 1-58.1. A winner at Mildura on June 3 when making his Victorian debut after racing mostly around the Hunter Valley, Major Laugh returned a mile rate of 1-58.1. Two relatively unknown participants of the sport were successful on the night – Bunkers Hill (Ballarat) based owner/trainer Alan Holman combining with Zac Steenhuis to land the Hygain Feeds Vicbred Pace for C1 class over 2195 metres with $61.80 chance Blude Master and Gordon’s Larry Lynch the Eastick Homes Pace for C1 class over 1790 metres with Graceful Art at $40.60. Blude Master a five year old gelded son of Attorney General and Bludegirl having start number 23 and first since April 2014 after taking a lift, was taken back at the start from outside the front row to settle at the tail of the field. Under pressure in the final circuit to follow Extra three wide, Blude Master hard driven gradually made ground and when Go Betweens four wide outside him joined in approaching the home turn, grabbed the bit and went with him to set sail after the leader Blissful Spanker. In a race than changed complexion over the concluding stages, Blude Master prevailed by a nose from Go Betweens in a mile rate of 2-01.7, with Blissful Spanker 1.6 metres away in third place.  Five year old Metropolitan/Private Affair mare Graceful Affair trained by Larry Lynch racing under the banner of Lynch Harness Horses, possied mid-field in the running line from the extreme draw with local Michael Bellman in the sulky. Held up in the last lap with horses all around her as the leaders Our Bedrock and Bellas Jet kicked clear appearing to have the race to themselves, Graceful Affair came with a withering burst of speed down the centre of the track to score by 1.2 metres over Bellas Jet which raced in the open for the majority of the journey, dropping in for a breather approaching the home turn. Saab Magic flashed home late from three back the markers after also being held up prior to the home turn to be 1.5 metres away in third place. The mile rate was 1-59.4. Great Western’s Peter Manning combined with Glen Craven aboard 4-Y-0 Christian Cullen/Precious Delight gelding Precious Cullen to snare the Ararat RSL Red Poppy Bistro Pace for C0 class over 2195 metres in 1-59.2. Sent forward three wide out of gate four to cross Space Keeper running into the first turn, Precious Cullen coming off a fifth at Horsham on June 17 when badly held up on debut, ran his rivals ragged in defeating Mister Untouchable which faced the breeze for the final circuit, with Eyesrromin (four wide last lap) third.  Huntly (Bendigo) trainer/driver Anthony Crossland has Kiwi bred 4-Y-0 Love You/Sun Goddess gelding Dieu De Lamour racing in peak form, bringing up his third victory in the last four starts by taking the Ararat Vet Clinic Trotters Mobile for T0 & T1 class over 2195 metres. Biding his time four back in the moving line from the extreme draw, Dieu De Lamour when eased three wide in the last lap exploded to the front prior to the home turn, scoring by a huge 56.5 metres in 2-03.3 over Copa Comaida which led from the pole, with Truscott Sun 5.8 metres away in third place after racing in the open for most of the trip. Terang’s Matty Craven experiencing his best season ever, had an armchair drive aboard Grinfromeartoear/Classic Malibu five year old gelding Roy George in the AME System Pace for C4 to C6 class over 1790 metres, leading all of the way from gate two in accounting for Xavier Jack which trailed and Myrniongfirecracker (one/three) in a rate of 1-58.8. The winning margin was 11.8 metres. Burrumbeet trainer Ash Herbertson took advantage of a concession for Bolinda’s Josh Duggan aboard in-form 6-Y-0 Metropolitan/Ellovalooka mare Metrofromelle to capture the David O Jones Mitre 10 Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2195 metres. Settling three back in the running line from a solo second line draw, Metrofromelle was soon off and running to park outside the pacemaker Forced Out (gate two) where Duggan was content to dictate the tempo. Taking a slender lead on the final bend, Metrofromelle outstayed her rivals to score by a neck over Our Supreme Guy along the sprint lane after following Forced Out who finished 2.9 metres away in third place. Great Western trainer Brad Hunt who assists at Peter Manning’s stable, was successful with Grinfromeartoear/Big Time Babe gelding If The Mood Suits in the E. W. Bulte Timber & Hardware 3-Y-0 Pace over 2195 metres when making his third appearance at the races. Driven by Glen Craven, If The Mood Suits (gate six) was restrained as gate sped away, going back to the tail of the field. Still a long way off the leader Katsina which had crossed the pacemaker Second Hands approaching the home turn, If The Mood Suits came from the clouds on straightening to record a 1.4 metre victory in advance of Sisulu Success (one/three – three wide last lap) and Lavish Smile (one/two) in a rate of 2-02.7. Perhaps the biggest winner of the night was Gotta Go Cullect/Princess Of Stars colt Rockstar Confusion on debut for Armstrong duo Brooke Hansen and Tim O’Brien in the Chally’s Bar & Bistro 3-Y-0 Trotters Mobile over 2195 metres. Driven by Maryborough’s Ash Matthews, Rockstar Confusion although rocky in the score-up, led from the pole only to gallop running into the first turn appearing to throw away any chance of figuring in the finish, which allowed Uwouldntbelieverit to take over. Still a mile off the leader Strazeele which had crossed to lead for the final circuit, Rockstar Confusion showed a terrific turn of speed in the last lap to get close to the front runner on straightening and in a ding-dong duel all the way up the running, gained the judge’s nod by a half head in 2-05.7. Hanging On A Dream finished 35.6 metres away in third place off a mid-field passage. Len Baker  

HARRISBURG PA - Example A of why never to say "Oh, he (or she) is 'just a fair horse'" is the pacer Sapphire City, a seven-year-old son altered son of Metropolitan, winner of his Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship at age 2 - and the sport's newest millionaire following victory in Saturday's $100,000 Levy Series Consolation at Yonkers.   Just over two years removed from their Vivid Photo Hambletonian fame, Pennsylvania horsemen Roger Hammer (by the way right now just two wins short of 4000) and Todd Schadel purchased the baby from his breeder, the late Dr. John Hurtgen. As is the case with many Hammer/Schadel copurchases of yearlings in a given year (Vivid Photo would be one), they divvied up the horses between them to train, and Schadel got Sapphire City.   At two, Sapphire City got checks in the "big" Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and was undefeated in five starts at the fairs, after which he posted a wire-to-wire victory in his Fair Championship at The Meadows. At three, Sapphire City got checks in p/m Sire Stakes competition and even won a Stallion Series event, so a late-season flurry of 5-3-2-0 fair activity wasn't enough for him to get to the Final, soon after which he was sold to Illinois' Centaur Stable and Indiana's Jordan Sklut, who still own him, and has been under the shedrow of trainer Paul Blumenfeld the vast majority of that time.   Sapphire City won over $200,000 in each of his 4, 5, and 6YO years, and $773,895 combined in those three seasons, taking a mark of 1:49.4 at Tioga Downs. This year he had two early wins in Yonkers' Open handicaps, which triggered his campaigned in the Levy, where he had two seconds (one a half-length loss to Levy champion Domethatagain), a third, and two fourths to earn him a spot in the Consolation. Ironically, he was never higher than 8-1 in his Levy prelims, but he was 13-1 in the Consolation, where - for the sixth straight week against top-level horses - he used his early speed, perhaps learned in his fair days, to work out a pocket trip, then rallied in the passing lane to win in 1:52.2 and go over seven figures in earnings.   Schadel and Hammer purchased Sapphire City for $27,000 as a yearling and made almost $80,000 with him at two and three, and undoubtedly got a good price when he was sold to the Midwesterners, who obviously have gotten a great deal as well. Sapphire City, new millionaire, is the embodiment of why using the dismissive term "He's just a fair horse" is a risky choice of words for anyone.   Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

Popular Tasmanian harness racing trainer Marc Butler took a break from the industry a few years ago, but the lure of spending time with horses was too great. Since returning to training he has had only a handful of horses in work but, in his words, enough to keep him busy. In recent times he has been preparing winners on a regular basis, and in Hobart last night, Anothermetro delivered an impressive all-the-way win that suggests he has more to give. The son of Metropolitan is a lightly raced four-year-old formerly in the care of Rodney Ashwood. He joined Butler’s stable six months ago and it appears the change of environment and a different approach to training has worked for this gelding. Ashwood is an excellent trainer but sometimes a horse will respond to different methods and Butler seems to have found the right recipe for success with Anothermetro. With Mark Yole in the cart, Anothermetro showed good early speed to roll to the front from gate three and settled into a good rhythm to lead comfortably to the home turn. The pressure was applied turning for home by Bobby Jo and Iden Mister Ed, which emerged from the pack to challenge. Iden Mister Ed looked set to grab the leader halfway up the home straight, but his run ended 50 metres out, as did Bobby Jo’s, and Anothermetro went on to defeat Bobby Jo by a metre-and-a-half, with Iden Mister Ed a short head away third. Another Metro rated 2.04 for the 2090 metres, covering his last half in 59.9 seconds. PETER STAPLES

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 7, 2015 - Not Afraid (Dan Dube, $2.80) and a repeating Sapphire City (Eric Carlson, $10) grabbed the gusto Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing co-featured $35,000 Open Handicaps. Not Afraid made it three wins in his last four featured trot tries. Outsprinted--from post position No. 6--at the outset by outside number Count Me In (George Brennan), the odds-on choice settled fourth. After early intervals of :27.4 and 58 seconds flat, Not Afraid took off after the leader, engaged in and out of the 1:26.3 three-quarters. Not Afraid took over early in the lane, then held off a trio of closers to prevail in 1:55.4. On the Podium (Carlson) grabbed second, beaten, three-quarters of a length, with Awesome Valley (Jason Bartlett) third. A from-last Struck By Lindy and Murmur Hanover (Pat Lachance) completed the cashers. For Not Afraid, a 6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Andeberg, he's 3-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $34.80, with the triple returning $200,. Sapphire City, from post No. 3 in the pacing feature, made the first lead before Michael's Power (Dube) went by. That one, from an assigned eight-hole, cleared and led early (:27.1, :57.1). Invading Dapper Dude (Brian Sears) tried it first-up from fifth, prompting past a 1:25.1 three-quarters. The leader remained so, with a length-and-a-half in and out of the final turn. However, he began to tire as Sapphire City ducked in and went by. In a virtual carbon copy of last week's race, he was able to whip a closing 2-1 choice Take it Back Terry (Brennan). The margin was a half-length (same as last Saturday) in 1:52.4. Dapper Dude held credibly for third, with Michael's Power and BJ's Guy settling for the minor spoils. For third choice Sapphire City, a 7-year-old Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stable and Jordan Sklut, it was his second win in five seasonal starts (career earnings now over $900,000) The exacta paid $39, the triple returned $292.50 and the superfecta paid $699. The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then a French-centric Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 31, 2015 - Sapphire City  and harness racing driver Eric Carlson, and Count Me In (George Brennan, $4.80) divided Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night glory, winning the co-featured $35,000 Open Handicaps. Sapphire City annexed the Open Handicap Pace in rallying fashion. Working out a second-over trip from post position No. 6, he was chasing 4-5 choice Doctor Butch (Brian Sears). That one had to wait his turn before making front (:28.2, :58.1), getting around second choice Mickey Hanover (Dan Dube) Sapphire City, towed in behind Classic Gent (Stephane Bouchard), was able to slip to the cones when "Mickey" dropped anchor before a 1:27 three-quarters. Doctor Butch owned a short lead into the lead, but was in trouble from both sides. Sapphire City ducked inside, getting the jump on a from-last Take it Back Terry (Brennan). The former whipped the latter by a half-length in 1:55.1. Doctor Butch faded to third, with Flem N Em N (Jason Bartlett) and Classic Gent rounding out the payees. For fourth choice Sapphire City, a 7-year-old Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stable and Jordan Sklut, it was his first win in four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $108, with the triple returning $334.50. Second choice Count Me In left nothing to chance in the week's marquee trot, going the distance from post No. 3 in equal halves (:27.3, :58, 1:26.4, 1:56). With pole-assigned In Nomine Patri (Jim Marshall III) doing just enough to keep the pocket, two-time defending champ Not Afraid (Dube) was wrangled back in third. The 4-5 fave saw Count Me In widen down the backside, taking a four-length lead in and out of the final turn. Count Me In was a safe winner, holding off Not Afraid by a never-threatened half-length. In Nomine Patri, Murmur Hanover (Pat Lachance) and Dancehall Mistress (Sears) settled for the remainder. For Count Me In, a 6-year-old Full Count gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, M1 Stable and Michelle Yanek, he's now 3-for-4 this season. The exacta paid $10.80, the triple returned $36.60 and the superfecta paid $109.50. The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). YONKERS RESCHEDULES FRIDAY DRAW Due to more impending bad weather supposedly descending upon the greater New York area, Yonkers Raceway has rescheduled its draw for the Friday (Feb. 6) program. That draw, originally going Monday (Feb. 2), is now taking place Sunday (Feb. 1). Box closes at 10 AM. Please be advised that as of this writing, there are no other changes to the live racing and draw schedules (updates if/ when necessary). For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. Frank Drucker

Stowport harness racing trainer Andrew Rawlings celebrated his biggest win this season when Musselroe Bay stormed home to capture the Norske Skog New Norfolk Cup over 2950 metres at Kensington Park yesterday. With premier reinsman Gareth Rattray in the cart, the son of Metropolitan settled worse than midfield despite stepping cleanly from his front two, while a hot pace was set by Put Mback, while The Dip faced the breeze ahead of Whisper Jet, which began brilliantly from his 20-metre handicap. It was Rattray’s second New Norfolk Cup win in succession having been successful with Put Mback the previous year. Put Mback started at $31, while Musselroe Bay was more fancied starting at $9. When the tempo quickened at the bell, the back markers struggled to get into the race down the back straight the last time, and turning for home it looked likely the leaders would fight out the finish. But Musselroe Bay emerged from the pack to set sail after the leaders, and once balance at the top of the straight, he powered home to overhaul the leaders close to home to score narrowly from Whisper Jet, Damitsam and The Dip. A big crowd ventured to New Norfolk for the club’s only meeting for the season that boasted seven races, with the Cup and the Ted Plunkett Memorial the features on the card. The Ted Plunkett was won by the David Pennicott-trained Strange Conduct which also was driven by Rattray. Strange Conduct powered home to score by 10 metres from Grinable, with Helen Wheels, which started off a 10-metre handicap, three-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

Having taken a break as he relocated properties, astute trainer Tony Peacock is ready to rebuild his harness racing operation. In 2014 Peacock moved from Kilmore to Moama, which saw him scale his team right back. Settled into his new stable – complete with a mile fast work track – Peacock is ready to increase his crew “to around 20”. “We’ve had a bit of a break and now it’s time to get cranking again,” Peacock said. “The new place is coming along well. “I’ve got a mile fast work track, 1200-metre sand track, pool and there’s treadmill on the way. “Everything is coming along well, including a few winners off the bat.” Peacock has cut a regular path to the winners’ circle during the past few weeks, including a double at Cobram yesterday. Racing in sensational form, Jay Dee Zed completed a hat-trick when scored with Damian Wilson in the cart. Given time to settle from his second row draw, Jay Dee Zed was sent forward three-wide during the middle stages to find the lead in what proved a winning move. Digging deep along the home straight, the son of Metropolitan staved off a late charge from Call Me Spartacus, with Barney Fella third. “He’s coming along well and is unbeaten from three starts this time in,” Peacock said. “He’s no superstar, but he’s going to get through the grades. “I can’t see any reason why he can’t string a few more together.” Peacock and Wilson also combined for victory with promising pacer Barimah. Named after former world champion boxer Azumah Nelson, Barimah extended his unbeaten record to three. First-up since last August, the son of Bettors Delight completed a four-and-a-half metre win from Calcavado, with Ess Prefontaine six-and-a-half metres away third. “He is still very dumb and green, but he’s a nice horse,” Peacock said. “He’s taking his time to understand what’s going on, but will get better with experience and maturity. “I really like him and think he will be a big improver as he goes along.” PAUL COURTS

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, December 6, 2014- Sapphire City (Eric Carlson) snapped Ronny Bugatti (Tyler Buter) at the wire Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Open Handicap Pace. Those two had some "sloppy" numbers to chase, as 11-10 choice Beach Memories (George Brennan) rolled through intervals of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:22.4. He opened to two lengths turning for home, but was about to hit the skids. Ronny Bugatti, who had come first-up, slipped in for a breather after pocket-sitting Orillia Joe (Brent Holland) quit. Right behind "Ronny" was Sapphire City who, from post position No. 3, had advanced down the backside. Those two had the length of the lane to decide it, with Sapphire City winning by a desperate head in 1:52. It was a from-last P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett)--again on display late--grabbing third, with Beach Memories and E Street Plan (Matt Kakaley) settling for the remainder. For slight second choice Sapphire City, a 6-year-old Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stable and Jordan Sklut, he returned $11.40 for his eighth win (fourth consecutive) in 37 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $57.50, with the triple returning $323.50. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule continues through Dec. 14, with first post every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fifth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) next weekend just after 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Astute harness racing trainer Darren Cole is hoping the connection between his rising star Exciteusinthecity and former champion Gammalite can extend beyond their place of residence. One of the greatest pacers produced in the Southern Hemisphere, Gammalite thrilled onlookers with his brilliant mix of speed and seemingly endless supply of stamina during the 1980s. Gammalite raced 179 times in Australia and New Zealand for 94 wins, 33 seconds and 19 thirds, picking up a record $1,386,480 in stakes. The stallion’s biggest victories include two Inter Dominions, fourth South Australia Cups, the Queensland Pacing Championship and the A G Hunter, Western Australia and Fremantle Cups. A son of Thor Hanover, Gammalite was prepared throughout his career by the late Leo O’Connor at his Terang stable, which is where the connection to Exciteusinthecity begins. Following O’Connor’s passing, Cole purchased the horseman’s property, with Exciteusinthecity domiciled in Gammalite’s former box and yard. As such, Cole entered Exciteusinthecity in tomorrow night’s The Gammalite at Tabcorp Park Melton for sentimental reasons. “I became close friends with Leo’s wife, Maureen before her passing after moving up here and The Gammalite just seemed like the right race to try and win,” Cole declared. “He isn’t flash from the stand, but I’d like to win it given he know lives and relaxes exactly where Gammalite did during his wonderful career and retirement." The feature will mark Exciteusinthecity’s second attempt from the tapes, however, Cole isn’t concerned about the gelding’s lack of experience. The son of Metropolitan’s previous standing start was in last season’s Stawell Cup when he began roughly before finishing eighth behind Arber. “We’ve been working on his standing start manners to prepare for this and I’m sure he will go away safe enough,” Cole said. “As long as he can go away safely and be in touch with the field early, I think he will be a real winning chance.” Following his 2760-metre appearance – during which he will begin from a 10-metre handicap – Exciteusinthecity will be given a brief freshen up as Cole selects suitable targets. “At this stage he will have a few light weeks to brighten him up,” Cole revealed. “He has been up for a while and a break will do him good. “I haven’t really got any plans picked out for him as I just like to take it one step at a time. “If he can keep racing like this and be competitive against the better ones, then I guess we will have to look at some of the main races down the track.” PAUL COURTS

The latest harness racing rankings for the New Zealand Trotting Cup have been released and nothing much has changed although a few eyebrows have been raised about the placement of Lochaburn after his two outstanding runs this campaign. To see Lochaburn still below Jimmy Johnstone after beating him home twice this season is hard to fathom. Otherwise a very perdictable list. NEW ZEALAND METROPOLITAN TROTTING CLUB INC - ADDINGTON RACEWAY - TUESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER   Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup - Stakes $700,000 Distance 3200 Metres - Standing Start - No Handicaps Apply - Maximum of 15 horses to start, with provision of 3 horses as Right-of-Re-Entries -  RANKINGS                                                            26th August                               9th September Terror To Love                                              1                                                    1 Christen Me                                                   2                                                    2  For A Reason                                                3                                                    3  Themightyquinn                                            4                                                     4 Adore Me                                                      5                                                     5 Pembrook Benny                                          6                                                     6 Seel N Print                                                   7                                                     7   Franco Ledger                                               8                                                     8 Smolda                                                          9                                                     9 Easy On The Eye                                         10                                                   10 Abettorpunt                                                   11                                                   11  Franco Nelson                                              12                                                   12  Besotted                                                       13                                                   13 Jason Rulz                                                    15                                                    14 Fly Like An Eagle                                          14                                                    15 Tiger Tara                                                      19                                                   16 Jimmy Johnstone                                          16                                                    17                                       Pemberton Shard                                          17                                                    18  Bit Of A Legend                                             18                                                    19 Locharburn                                                    20                                                    20  Hands Christian                                             21                                                    21 Arden Rooney                                               22                                                     22  Pass Them By                                               25                                                    23 Four Starzzz Flash                                        23                                                    24 Lets Elope                                                     24                                                    25 Pure Power                                                   26                                                    26   Maximan                                                        27                                                    27  Jivin Cullen                                                    28                                                    28 Classiesistar                                                  29                                                    29 Vice Chairman                                               30                                                    30 Averil’s Quest                                                31                                                    31  Belkmyster                                                     32                                                    32  Ballindooley                                                   33                                                    33  Lewy Risk                                                      36                                                    34 The Wrath Of Robyn                                     34                                                    35    Maiden Rome                                               35                                                     36  Franco Harrington                                         37                                                    37     Harnesslink Media

When talented driver Robbie Morris returned to the sulky after a serious leg injury less than a month ago he had one target in mind and that was to reach 100 winners for the season. With less than a week left in the season Morris got to the milestone when Love This Dragon took out the first race at Newcastle on Monday. "It was good to get to the 'ton'. It was the goal I set when I returned from the broken leg and to get so much support from trainers and owners has been great," Morris said. "KerryAnn (Turner) was doing the sums for me, I think through injury and suspension I have missed nearly five and a half months of the season and still been able to get to 100 winners. Before the injury I think I would have been able to push towards 150 and maybe that will be something I can aim for next season." Morris was surprised at the amount of support he received after the race fall that required surgery to mend his leg. "Mum and Dad have been fantastic through it, they have been great support for me but I was really surprised by the amount of texts and messages I received when I got injured. So many people contacted me wishing me all the best which really lifted my spirits." "The stable's owners have been fantastic as well, Peter Green, Bill Green, Daniel Cordina, Segenhoe Stud and there are plenty of others that have been fantastic." When the KerryAnn Turner trained Leighs Delight won race seven at Newcastle on Monday it took Morris' total to 101 winners. "It was nice to win two races at Menangle on Saturday night to get to 99. JB Maguire deserved to win the M0 and it was good to see Graeme Hartman win the last with Alta Rihannah as he does a good job." Morris will have five drives on Saturday night at Menangle which is the last Metropolitan meeting for the season. Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales 

Woodley to break through in August Cup Morgan Woodley, who has driven a placegetter in three of the past four August Cups, has high hopes of breaking through for his first victory in the winter feature event by scoring with David Hercules in the $35,000 Curtin FM August Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. David Hercules, trained at Byford by David Thompson, has drawn fairly at barrier four on the front line, but is likely to be left in the breeze outside the likely pacemaker Northview Punter, who will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 2536m event. Trainer Gary Hall sen. conceded that he was slightly disappointed at Northview Punter's effort when second behind stablemate Our Arlington in a 2503m stand last Friday night. But his spirits were boosted after the random barrier draw. David Hercules proved the master of Northview Punter three starts ago when he started from the No. 5 barrier and worked hard in the breeze before finishing strongly to beat the pacemaking Northview Punter by a half-length, rating 1.55.7 over 2130m. David Hercules was gallant in defeat when fourth behind Reuben Brogden in a 1730m sprint last Friday night. He was at a significant disadvantage, starting from the outside of the back line. He settled at the rear before Woodley started a three-wide move 1100m from home. The seven-year-old sustained a strong effort to finish just under two lengths from the winner. David Hercules had been most impressive in winning at his four previous starts (after resuming from a spell), winning twice each over 2130m and 2536m. Friday night's event will be the 63rd running of the August Cup and Thompson is hoping that David Hercules will become just the eighth horse to complete the Winter Cup-August Cup double in the one season. Those to have achieved this feat are Tavis (1975), Peter Anstey (1977), High Moore (1979), Preux Chevalier (1985), Manageable (1989), Shattering Class (1998 and 1999) and Another Party (2000). Woodley's placegetters in recent August Cups have been Mysta Magical Mach (third behind Im Themightyquinn in 2010), Has The Answers (third behind Lombo Navigator and Rocket Reign in a thrilling three-way photo finish in 2011) and Has The Answers (second to Uppy Son last year). Mysta Magical Mach and Has The Answers were prepared by Tony Svilicich, who won the August Cup with Digger of Fortune in 2003. Svilicich has trained six minor placegetters in the past six August Cups. In 2008 he was represented by Roydon Holmes and Demoralizer. Roydon Holmes (9/1) led until the final 20m and finished a close second to Glencadam, and Demoralizer was third. He did not have a runner in 2009 before Has The Answers led until the final 50m when second to Im Themightyquinn in 2010. His other runner Mysta Magical Mach was third. A year later Has The Answers (6/4 on) set the pace when third. In the 2012 August Cup Mysta Magical Mach (6/1) set the pace and was two lengths in front with 120m to travel before being swamped and was relegated to fifth behind Dasher VC. Twelve months ago Has The Answers was favourite at 6/4 when set the pace from barrier two and led until the final 90m when beaten by the fast-finishing Uppy Son. This year Svilicich will be represented by outsider Shardons Rocket, who will be driven by Chris Lewis, but faces an extremely difficult task from the outside of the back line. The August Cup is a particularly significant event for Hall sen., who had the distinction of training Zakara for his four wins in the race --- in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994. Hall's other August Cup winner was Im Themightyquinn, who started at 5/2 on in 2010 when he got to the front 50m from the post before defeating the pacemaker Has The Answers. The Cup prospects on Friday night of last-start winners Reuben Brogden and Our Arlington were boosted when they drew favourably at No. 2 and No. 3 on the front line. Reuben Brogden, trained by his owner Gary Elson, was most impressive last Friday night when he was tenth at the 500m mark and stormed home from sixth, five wide, on the home turn to defeat Old McDonald at a 1.54.4 rate over 1730m. Our Arlington also caught the eye last Friday night when he galloped soon after the start and settled down a distant ninth before dashing forward to move into the breeze 1400m from home and then gained the one-out, one-back trail and then finishing boldly to snatch victory from Northview Punter. Hall predicts big things for Machtu Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. has labelled Machtu the second best pacer in his Serpentine stables and is bubbling with confidence that the New Zealand-bred three-year-old will make a triumphant return to racing by proving too powerful for his rivals in the 2130m Glengarry Spectacles Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Machtu will be making his first appearance for 20 weeks when he starts out wide at No. 4 on the back line for champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. This will be the gelding's first start since he finished a close third behind Three Blind Mice and Eyre Crusher in the WA Derby early last April. "He has returned in great shape and his trials at Byford on the past two Sundays have been phenomenal," said an enthusiastic Hall sen. "He won both his trials, beating open-class horses and you would think that he would just win on Friday night. "In a 2550m stand on Sunday Machtu led and beat his open-class stablemate Livingontheinterest by a length after sprinting the final 400m in 27.9sec. In a 2150m mobile the previous Sunday he led and covered the final 800m in 56.5sec. and beat top-class pacer David Hercules on his merits. "Machtu is the second best horse in our stable, behind Im Themightyquinn. We are really happy with him and his long-term mission is the interdominion championship in Perth in 2016. At the moment we will take races as they come and see how he goes. "Quinny is back in work and is coming along nicely. He should resume racing towards the end of October and his main target is the $700,000 New Zealand Cup on the second Tuesday in November. It's a stand and he will draw the front line." Machtu, who has won at seven of his 12 starts, is one of three Hall runners in Friday night's race, the others being High Courage (No. 3 on the front line) and Classic American (outside of the back line). High Courage and Classic American are smart colts, but appear a class below Machtu. Nonetheless, each will be fancied to figure in the finish along with Burning, the promising Mach Three colt in the stables of Greg and Skye Bond. Burning, a speedy frontrunner and winner at seven of his 16 starts, will begin from the inside of the back line. An all-the way Pinjarra winner three starts ago, he lost few admirers when a fighting second to Elegant Christian over 2130m last Friday night after working hard without cover. Hall sets sights on 250 winners There is no stopping the all-conquering Hall training complex and now champion horseman Gary Hall sen. has lifted the bar and is setting himself fresh challenges as the 2013-14 season comes to an end. The Hall camp has 14 starters on the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night and punters would be well advised to include all 14 runners in their thoughts. Hall, a runaway winner of the trainers' premiership, would dearly love to end the season in a blaze of glory on Friday night. Leading reinsman Gary Hall jun. also would love to wind up the city season by winning the final event with honest performer Globalization in the Pedrini Painting Westbred Pathway Pace. Hall sen. leads the Metropolitan trainers' premiership with 169 wins --- a mile head of Greg and Skye Bond (63), Ross Olivieri (62), Debbie Padberg (32) and Andrew De Campo (25). On all tracks in Western Australia during the season he has had 814 starters for 209 winners, 116 seconds and 96 thirds for prizemoney of $2,966,533. In second place is the Bond stable with 146 winners and 128 placegetters from 817 starters. This is the first time a trainer has prepared more than 200 winners in a season in this State. Hall currently has 50 horses in work and he wants to keep the winners rolling in. "My aim for the 2014-15 season is to train 250 winners and to win the WA Pacing Cup for the ninth time," he declared. "Im Themightyquinn will run in the Cup, providing the wheels stay on." Hall is also looking for big things from exciting three-year-old Machtu and he also predicted bright futures for many of his horses, including Beaudiene Boaz, Nuala, Zennart and Juliana Bromac. Get on Machs A Pearler Unfavourable barriers have dogged Machs A Pearler in recent weeks and the New Zealand-bred four-year-old should greatly appreciate starting from the prized No. 1 barrier in the first event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The honest gelding, trained at Forrestdale by Greg and Skye Bond, looks a good thing and punters should establish a good bank for the night by supporting him to end a losing sequence of seven. Machs A Pearler has enjoyed little luck recently after starting from the back line three times and from the outside of the front line twice at his past five outings. He is a smart frontrunner ideally suited over the sprint trip of 1730m. Punters should take it into serious consideration that he has led in ten of his 490 starts for five wins and five second placings. The Bond stable has 13 runners on Friday night, including six starters in the $25,000 King's Park Fashion Schrader final over 2130m. Four of those runners --- Tuapeka Kahu, Lunar Tide, Bettor Offer and Im Terrific --- are last-start winners, while the other two, Jay Bees Grin and Condrieu each finished third at their most recent outing and have sound prospects. Libertybelle Midfrew runs a sizzling trial Star filly Libertybelle Midfrew looms large as the best bet on the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night after running a superb trial at Byford on Sunday morning. Libertybelle Midfrew, trained by Mike Reed and to be driven by his son Mark, has the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting from barrier seven, the outside of the front line in the 1730m Casey Australia Pace. She warmed up for the race in dashing style at Byford on Sunday morning when she raced wide early and then took up the running before careering away from her four rivals to win the 2150m trial by almost 19 lengths from Shezablaze, rating 1.57.1 after sprinting over the final 800m in 56sec. This performance showed that the filly was poised to make amends for her shock first-up defeat at 10/1 on when she raced without cover and finished third behind Harriet Elisabeth and Jungle Jewel over 2130m on August 1. That was her first appearance since scoring a runaway victory in the WA Oaks on May 9 to take her West Australian record to five starts for five wins. Making good appeal as a placegetter is the Andrew De Campo-trained Maddy White, who should be prominent throughout from the No. 2 barrier on the front line. The David Thompson-trained Harriet Elisabeth has won at seven of her 18 starts and is capable of a bold showing from barrier three on the back line. Where Dreams Grow, trained and driven by Justin Prentice, has won at each of her past three starts, two at Bunbury and then one at Gloucester Park, when she set the pace from barrier two. But she faces a stern test from the No. 6 barrier.  Ken Casellas  

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