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John Stark Jr's Xcuseme (RC Royalty) will head into next week's final of the John Mongeon Memorial Trotting Series as the big favorite. The three year old trotter cruised to his fourth consecutive harness racing victory on Wednesday's matinee card going back-to-back in the two legs of the series and staying undefeated in 2019. Xcuseme made pretty easy work of his competition as he coasted to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:58.1, the fastest time of the leg two winners. While Xcuseme was the most decisive of the leg two winners in the Mongeon Trot, he wasn't the only repeat victor. Living Proof I Am (Prayer I Am) also went back-to-back in the series' legs as he got up in the final strides on Wednesday to score in 1:58.3, matching his win time from last week which was a career best. Phil Fluet piloted the Andy Byler trainee to both of his series' scores. The other division of the second leg was won by Pumping Irony (Muscle Mass). The Eve Bergeron-trained trotter cruised to victory as the public's 1-5 betting favorite on Wednesday with Steve Genois in the sulky. A runner-up to Living Proof I Am in leg one, Pumping Irony recorded a convincing romp in 1:59 to punch her ticket to next week's final which will go for a purse of more than $30,000. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

There were three divisions of the first leg of the Virginia O'Brien Memorial Pacing Series that took place as harness racing co-features on Thursday's matinee card at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Each division of the series for filly and mare pacers went for a purse of $10,000. Perhaps the favorite heading into the fifth annual O'Brien Memorial was Chase You (American Ideal). A winner of three of her four starts in 2019 heading into Thursday's first leg, Chase You has been a dominant force on the engine thus far this season. Bet down as the 2-5 public choice on Thursday, Chase You made the lead once again with Brett Crawford in the sulky. While the favorite certainly didn't prove dominant, she had enough to get the job done and record her fourth win in five seasonal tries, stopping the timer in 1:57.1. Though her effort couldn't be deemed dazzling, Chase You did enough to perhaps still be considered the favorite in the series for lady pacers. Qing Qong Bluechip (Brian Cross) set a lifetime mark in her division of the O'Brien Pace as the Henry Westbrook III trainee took advantage of a late break by her race's favorite and took over the lead in the stretch, one that she would not relinquish. Her second win of the season came in a career-best 1:56.3, a win time that proved to be the fastest among the leg one winners. Delightful Trysta and her trainer-driver Phil Fluet scored in the final division of leg one of the series, coming on in the stretch to prevail in 1:58.3, a time that also served as a career-best for the three year old filly. Both Qing Qong Bluechip and Delightful Trysta paid $11.60 to win in their mild upsets. Next Thursday's card will feature leg two of the O'Brien Memorial Pace with the $30,000+ Final scheduled for the following week. Live racing resumes at Saratoga on Saturday night with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella  

Wednesday marked the kickoff of the 7th annual harness racing John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series at Saratoga Raceway. There were lifetime marks set in all three divisions of the first leg of the series, each of which went for a purse of $10,000. John Stark Jr's Xcuseme (RC Royalty) came into Wednesday two-for-two on the season and on paper appeared to be the one to beat in the series heading into the first leg. Xcuseme wasted little time moving out the lead as his race's 1-5 betting favorite and never faced an anxious moment en route to scoring a career-best victory in 1:57.1. He was the fastest of the series' winners on the day by a significant amount. Living Proof I Am (Phil Fluet) was aggressive in the early going in his division of leg one and found himself on the front-end for the first time aided by his inside post position. The Andy Byler-owned and trained trotter had hit the board in five of his seven starts on the year heading into his try in the Mongeon Trot in which he held off the late charge of rival Pumping Irony (Steve Genois) en route to a career-best win in 1:58.3. The final division of the day went the way of Lisa Zabielski's Aerial Flight (Conway Hall). Overcoming her outside post, Aerial Flight sat the pocket to the race's favorite Powerscourt (Mickey McGivern) and surged by him in the stretch to prevail in 1:58.4, another lifetime best win time for a Mongeon Trot participant. Leg two of the Mongeon Memorial Trot will take place next Wednesday with a $30,000+ Final set for the following week. Live racing continues on Thursday at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00 noon. Mike Sardella  

Hudson Phil (Shanghai Phil) returned to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Saturday night to compete in the $15,000 Open Pace. The Jackie Greene harness racing trainee won his previous local start which took place last month but was a beaten favorite earlier in the week while competing at Plainridge in Massachusetts. Hudson Phil was the Open's 1-5 betting favorite on Saturday and certainly raced like that convincing of a public choice. The four year old pacer surged out to the early lead and after going through lap one in 56 seconds, put in a back half that was simply dazzling. Hudson Phil paced his final half in 54.4 to score in 1:50.4, the fastest mile of the year thus far at Saratoga. Jay Randall piloted the rising Open star to the decisive victory. Longshot Nitro Glistening (Brett Crawford) was the runner-up to the favorite while Carolina Beach (Mark Beckwith) earned the show spot. In four starts in the local Open Pace in 2019, Hudson Phil now has two wins and a second. The big favorite led an exacta and triple on Saturday that paid $18.40 and $56.00, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12 noon first post.   Mike Sardella

Sally Fletcher A (American Ideal) was back into Open company on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Jose Godinez trainee, who was a three-time winner of the local Open in 2018, prevailed in last week’s $12,500 Winners Over for fillies and mares and graduated into the feature for distaffers on Thursday’s matinee card. Powering out to the early lead, Sally Fletcher A gave way to rival Jewels Forreal (Frank Coppola Jr) approaching the opening quarter. Jewels Forreal went the first half in 56.4 and checked in at three quarters in 1:25.2 still appearing to have plenty left in the tank. Driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. pocket-pulled around the final turn and Sally Fletcher A got by in the final strides to score in 1:54.2 for her third consecutive victory and fourth on the year. Jewels Forreal was a strong second while invader Coveredndiamonds N (Jay Randall) earned the show spot in the $15,000 ladies Open. Sally Fletcher A was the public’s lukewarm favorite but still paid a solid $7.90 to win as she led an exacta and triple that came back $50.00 and $304.00, respectively. Sally Fletcher A is owned by the Blindswitch Racing Stable of Cortlandt Manor, NY. Live racing resumes at Saratoga on Saturday evening with first post time set for 6:45pm.   Mike Sardella

Lady Macbeth (Deweycheatumnhowe) continued the strong stretch in Wednesday co-features at Saratoga Casino Hotel for her driver-trainer Phil Fluet. Fluet has recorded several victories in the $9,000 co-features for New York sired trotters in the season’s first couple of months. His Lady Macbeth owned a pair of wins at that level in 2019 coming into her Wednesday start in which she was relatively dismissed while off at odds of 6-1. With her race’s favorite Bonamassa (Brett Crawford) having things her own way while on the front end, Lady Macbeth sat patiently until getting her cue from Fluet approaching the three-quarter pole. The four year old mare trotted past her rivals and scored her fastest win of the season as she stopped the timer in 1:57.3, a win time that served as the fastest of the afternoon’s three co-features. Bonamassa was the runner-up and has now finished first or second in five of her seven seasonal tries in the class. Iamnotlefthanded (Credit Winner) also came from off the pace to prevail in his division of the co-features, scoring in 2:00.1 for his first victory of the season while pulling off the mild upset at odds of 5-1. The final of the $9,000 co-features on the matinee card was won by Tournament (Deweycheatumnhowe) who was the lone member of the trio of featured races to win as his race’s favorite and to win on the front end. The public’s 2-5 betting choice, Tournament held on to score in 1:59 for his second victory of the ’19 campaign with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky for trainer Dave Dewhurst. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon with a 12:00pm first post.                                                                                                                                                      Mike Sardella

Bobs Hope (Donato Hanover) scored his second Open Trot harness racing victory of the year at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Sunday afternoon. Jay Randall piloted the Amanda Kelley trainee and was aggressive from the get-go retaking the lead with Bobs Hope on last week’s Open winner Wings Of Royalty (Shawn Gray). The seven year old trotter never faced an anxious moment after reclaiming the lead and coasted to an open length victory in 1:55.1 on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the Spa City. Bobs Hope’s paid $6.10 to win in his second victory in the $15,000 trotting feature this season. Mandeville (Jimmy Devaux) toughed out a first-over trip to finish second while Wings Of Royalty had to settle for third. Bobs Hope, whose win was the fourth in his last five starts, led an exacta and triple that returned $29.20 and $60.50, respectively. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time of 12:00pm.    Mike Sardella

In A Single Bound (Roll With Joe) recorded his first ever win of the local Open Pace on Saturday night. The Monica Krist-trained five year old was a New York Sire Stakes harness racing star early on in his career and after being lightly raced in 2018 has gotten off to a strong start to his '19 campaign. After winning out of the local condition races, In A Single Bound had the rail in his previous two starts in the Open. Following a third and a fourth place finish, In A Single Bound drew post three for Saturday's tilt and left aggressively before dropping into the pocket behind Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum). That rival carved out reasonable fractions on the lead and In A Single Bound took his shot popping the pocket around the final turn. The favored Artful Way (Frank Coppola Jr) was having trouble getting into the race after getting away last in the six-horse Open but did begin to make some progress in the final quarter. Crockets Cullen N fought gamely but was overpowered late by In A Single Bound who completed a Saturday hat trick for leading driving Billy Dobson. Two of his winners were Krist trainees. Crockets Cullen N was the runner-up for the second consecutive week in the $15,000 feature while Artful Way had to settle for third. In A Single Bound paid $11.80 in the mild upset and led an exacta and triple that returned $55.00 and $135.00, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:00pm.   Mike Sardella Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

Eclipse Me N (Real Desire) prevailed in her 2019 harness racing debut while competing in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday afternoon. The Rene Allard trainee enjoyed a $100,000+ campaign last season and debuted in the local feature off a pair of qualifiers that took place at Pocono Downs. With leading driver Billy Dobson in the bike, Eclipse Me N got a second-over trip in the five-horse field, following the cover of the race's favorite. Betabcool N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) enjoyed a hassle-free first lap on the lead before being met with the challenge of the favorite approaching three quarters. Eclipse Me N fanned off her cover around the final turn and came on in the final strides to best Betabcool N and secure the victory in the $15,000 feature. Betabcool N was the runner-up while Miss Irish Rose A earned the show spot. Eclipse Me N, who stopped the timer in 1:54.4, paid $7.70 to win and led an exacta that returned $30.00.   There is a Pick Five carryover of $3,061 on Saturday's card at Saratoga with the Pick Five beginning in race one. First post time is set for 6:45pm.   Mike Sardella

Phil Fluet has thrived in Wednesday co-features in the early part of the 2019 harness racing season at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The veteran trainer-driver has piloted a host of his trainees to victories in the $9,000 races for New York sired trotters that have become the regular features on Wednesday matinees in the early stages of the '19 campaign. With horses such as Lady Macbeth and Notmeitsyou prevailing in multiple tries at that level this year, Fluet had another of his trainees add his name to the list of Wednesday feature winners this week as Kapow (Conway Hall) sprung the upset. Dismissed at odds of 41-1, Kapow picked up cover heading to three quarters and surged past his rivals in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:59.1 to be the fastest winner among the pair of co-features. Kapow, who paid $84.50 to win, had a second and third-place finish to his credit this season but Wednesdays' victory was his first of the campaign. Amazing Sevens (Frank Coppola Jr) went coast-to-coast in the other co-feature on the matinee card as the Margaret Spagnola trainee also recorded his first win of the year, scoring in 2:00.2. Fluet's Lady Macbeth came into that race off consecutive wins before taking a month off following an injury and finished third to Amazing Sevens. Live racing continues at Saratoga on Thursday afternoon with action starting at 12:00pm.   Mike Sardella

Wings Of Royalty (RC Royalty) had a pair of third-place finishes to begin his season at Saratoga Casino Hotel heading into his try in Sunday’s harness racing Open Trot. The Joe DiStefano trainee is stabled in Massachusetts but has been a fairly regular participant in the local Open in seasons past. On Sunday, Wings Of Royalty, who was the 8-5 second choice in the wagering in the five-horse feature, utilized his characteristic strong early speed to make an easy lead. Driver Shawn Gray gave him a nice middle-half breather before asking the seven year old to crank up the speed after passing three quarters in a reasonable 1:28. The favored Cash Me Out (Phil Fluet) came from last and began to trot up a storm around the final turn but it was too late to catch Wings Of Royalty who scored in 1:57.1 for his first win of the season. With the earnings from the victory in the $15,000 Open Trot, Wings Of Royalty moved his career bankroll to over the $800,000 mark. Cash Me Out lengthened his streak of finishing first or second in the Open to six. Golden Kronos (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Wings Of Royalty paid $5.40 to win and led an exacta with the favorite second that returned $7.50. Live racing resumes on Wednesday at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00pm.     Mike Sardella

Stars Align A (Art Major) recorded his first local Open Pace harness racing victory on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Rene Allard trainee got a tough trip a few weeks back in his debut in the local feature but on Saturday night, a first over journey worked out very well for the Yonkers invader. Steve Genois got the driving assignment behind Stars Align N who overpowered one of the race’s co-favorites when first-over en route to the 1:52.3 score. Stars Align N’s win wasn’t just his first Open win but gave Genois his first Open victory since coming to Saratoga to drive last year. Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum) shook loose late and charged hard in the stretch before finishing second while last week’s Open winner JK Panache (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot. Stars Align N paid $13.80 to win the mild upset and led an exacta and triple that came back $104 and $731, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time of 12:00pm. Mike Sardella

The Thursday feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel was comprised of five pacing mares in the Open on what was a pleasant spring afternoon in the Spa City. January A (Cammibest) hadn't made much of an impression locally in her first three local starts but was the public's 6-5 betting favorite in Thursday's Fillies and Mares Open. Starting from post three in the five-horse feature, the Patti Harmon-trained January A sat patiently in the early going and wound up first over approaching the half mile pole. Grinding her way alongside the leader at the three quarter pole, January A wound up hitting the wire first in 1:55 with Jay Randall in the sulky. Happy Heart (Mark Beckwith) came on to finish second while Betabcool N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot in the $15,000 feature for distaffers. The win time for January A matched her lifetime mark which was set by the Australian invader at Yonkers earlier this year. The exacta with the favorite on top returned $16.80. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 6:45pm.   Mike Sardella

Trainer Dave Dewhurst got off to a bit of a slow start to his 2019 harness racing campaign at Saratoga Casino Hotel but the most recent week’s action at the Spa is evidencing that the veteran conditioner has turned the corner. After winning Saturday night’s Open Pace with his JK Panache, Dewhurst scored three victories on the Wednesday card. Young trotter RX For Success (Credit Winner) began the day as a winner for Dewhurst whose Royal Bahama (RC Royalty) drew the rail for his start in one of the $9,000 co-featured races on the matinee program. Reinsman Jimmy Devaux was aggressive with Royal Bahama and retook the lead past the opening quarter with the race’s second choice in the wagering. After rebuffing the challenge of the favorite, Royal Bahama held off his rivals in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:58.1 to set a new lifetime mark. Dewhurst’s training hat trick was completed when Tournament (Deweycheatumnhowe) secured his first victory of the season, lasting on the lead in 1:58.3 in one of the co-features. Tournament, who came into the race with a host of second and third place finishes in recent months, wound up as the even money favorite as he wrapped up the three-win day for Dewhurst and for Devaux who piloted a trio of winners on the matinee card. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon featuring a Pick Five guaranteed pool of $5,000 and a race five triple pool with a $20,000 guarantee. First post time is set for 12:00pm.         Mike Sardella

Veteran trotter Cash Me Out (Cash Hall) became a harness racing millionaire two weeks ago at Saratoga Casino Hotel when the Kyle Spagnola logged his second Open Trot win of the season at the Spa. Following a second place finish in last week's installment of the $15,000 Open, Cash Me Out was the public's 2-1 second choice in the wagering on Sunday afternoon. Driver Phil Fluet powered the eight year old veteran out to the early lead and once he got there, he would not be denied. Cash Me Out went coast to coast in 1:55, the fastest trotting mile of the young season at the Spa. Bobs Hope (Jay Randall), last week's Open winner, had to settle for second-best this week following a pocket ride behind the winner. Wings Of Royalty (Shawn Gray) earned the show spot for the second consecutive week. Cash Me Out's win was his third on the season and the 40th of his career. The perennial local trotting star paid $6.60 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $21.80 and $82, respectively. To see the full results for today's program click here Live racing resumes on Wednesday with a first post time set for 12:00pm. Mike Sardella

Saturday night's harness racing Open Pace featured the return of Artful Way (Artistic Fella) at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The three-time defending Pacer of the Year at the track suffered a minor injury that forced him to be scratched a couple weeks ago following a victory in his 2019 debut. Despite coming in off a three week layoff, Artful Way was the public's betting favorite in the $15,000 Open while starting from the outside post. Fellow veteran JK Panache (Art Major) was the one who stole the show on Saturday though. The Dave Dewhurst trainee moved first over approaching the half and continued to plug away on the outside while the backfield was set in motion. Artful Way made his move and a scramble in the stretch ensued. Despite appearing to tire around the final turn, JK Panache just kept fighting on and wound up prevailing by the slimmest of margins. The win that looked unlikely at the top of the stretch was the second of the year in the Open for JK Panache who was once again piloted to victory by Jimmy Devaux. Artful Way came charging hard but had to settle for second while In A Single Bound (Billy Dobson) finished third. The incredible JK Panache paid $8.90 to win in the mild upset and led an exacta and triple that came back $46 and $186, respectively. Jimmy Devaux drove four winners on the Saturday card. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00pm. Mike Sardella  

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