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Crockets Cullen N (Christian Cullen) has been an absolute force in the Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel for the last year and continued his harness racing dominance in Sunday afternoon’s feature. Larry Stalbaum owns, trains and drives Crockets Cullen N who finished up his 2019 campaign on a nine-race win streak in the local Open Pace. He began his ’20 season in style by winning yet another feature before going on what was, for him, a cold streak. Heading into last Sunday’s (June 28) Open, Crockets Cullen N had gone four starts at the Spa without a victory but broke that rare losing streak after getting a pocket trip behind the race’s betting favorite Hudson Phil (Shawn Gray) and besting him in the stretch.   On Sunday afternoon, Crockets Cullen N took on Hudson Phil once again as the top two pacers from 2019 at the Spa wound up squaring off in the stretch for yet another time. Stalbaum moved Crockets Cullen N out to the early lead in the $8,500 feature and after setting first-half fractions of 27.1 and 56.2 cruised past three quarters in 1:24.3 before facing his first challenge. Hudson Phil came from off the pace and followed live cover into a striking spot before fanning three-wide around the final turn. The chase proved to be in vain as Crockets Cullen N dug in to win yet another installment of the Saratoga Open Pace, scoring in 1:53.1. Hudson Phil came up second-best and now has been the runner-up in all three Opens since the return from the pandemic shutdown. Deetzy (Jay Randall) earned the show spot for the second straight week in the pacing feature.   OpeCrockets Cullen N paid $4.90 to win as the 7-5 second-choice in the betting. The exacta with the favored Hudson Phil second returned $10.20 while the triple with Deetzy third came back $30.40. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon with a 13-race card featuring NY Sire Stakes action. Two year old trotting fillies will be featured on Wednesday with first post time set for 12 noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Bontz N (American Ideal) continued her win streak in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday as she changed tactics to score her fourth consecutive victory in the local feature. Trainer Gary Levine thrived in 2019 after acquiring Bontz N who has enjoyed as good of a '20 campaign as could be. Thursday was the fifth start of the season for the nine year old mare who was assigned the outside post in the $8,500 feature. Bontz N came into the race on a three-race win streak, which dated back to March, with all three of those wins coming in wire-to-wire fashion. In Thursday's feature, driver Shawn Gray was forced to come from off the pace with the race's 2-1 betting favorite but the closing style suited Bontz N just fine as she put the swoop to the group before stopping the timer in 1:54.1 to record her fourth win in as many tries. The final time served as a new seasonal mark for the standout distaffer who has become the lady to beat this season at the Spa. Thats Incredible (Billy Dobson) came charging hard in the stretch to finish second while Jewels Forreal (Mark Beckwith) closed to be third. Bontz N paid $6.90 to win and led an exacta and triple that paid $27.20 and $136, respectively. Live racing resumes on Sunday at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12 Noon. There will be a $3,885 carryover in the Pick Five pool with the Pick Five beginning in the afternoon's first race. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Sunday's co-featured Opens at Saratoga Casino Hotel saw a familiar face and an Open newbie record harness racing victories. Crockets Cullen N (Christian Cullen) is the defending Pacer of the Year at the track and when he won the season's first Open Pace in February, it was the tenth consecutive victory in the local Open for the standout Larry Stalbaum trainee. After some lackluster tries prior to the quarantine layoff, Crockets Cullen N made his return last Sunday afternoon (June 21) but faded on the front end before finishing fifth. This week, the classy veteran drew the rail for his try in the $8,500 co-feature and Stalbaum got a pocket trip for him behind the race's favorite Hudson Phil (Shawn Gray). Hudson Phil, who finished second in the Pacer of the Year vote in '19 to Crockets Cullen N, again finished as the runner-up to him once again on Sunday as he got reeled-in in the final eighth of a mile. Crockets Cullen N got up to win in 1:52.3. Paying $5.10 to win on Sunday, Crockets Cullen N led an exacta with Hudson Phil second that returned $9.90. Deetzy (Jay Randall) earned the show spot and rounded out a $42.80 trifecta. The $8,500 Open Trot went to Gemologist (Cantab Hall) on Sunday as he went coast-to-coast for his owner/trainer/driver Jordan Derue. Gemologist has been competitive in the Opens at the Spa from time to time but had yet to win one heading into Sunday's try in which he started from post four. Derue marched the five year old out to the early lead and despite moving quickly to the quarter in 27.4, Gemologist had plenty left in the tank to complete a wire-to-wire score in 1:56.4. Unlike Crockets Cullen N who has been a winning machine in local Opens, Gemologist's victory was the first of his career in the local feature. The 6-5 betting favorite paid $4.40 to win and led an exacta and triple with Volare (Claude Huckabone III) second and Waiting On A Woman (Phil Fluet) third that returned $28.20 and $109.50, respectively. Live racing resumes on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12 Noon start to the matinee.   Mike Sardella

Her most recent trips to the winner's circle were separated by more than three months but on Thursday afternoon Bontz N (American Ideal) recorded her third consecutive victory in the harness racing Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel. A nominee for Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year in 2019 in her first season at the Spa, Bontz N has enjoyed a strong start to her '20 campaign winning on Thursday for the third time in just four tries on the season. Shawn Gray, who pilots the nine year old mare for owner April Aldrich of Greenfield Center, NY and trainer Gary Levine, was aggressive at the start of the $8,500 feature powering the star mare out to the early lead while overcoming their assigned outside post in the seven-horse Open. Cruising through a first quarter of 27.2, Bontz N paid a stiff price to the get to top but soon got a breather that saw her reach the half in 57 seconds. Longshot Pasultimatedelite N (Jordan Derue) came first-over on Bontz N and took over the lead past three-quarters in 1:25.1. While the upset minded Pasultimatedelite N got by Bontz N, she never got clear and those two turned for home together while joined by other closing rivals. Bontz N rallied before stopping the timer in 1:54.2 to secure her third consecutive win in the Open, a streak that started back in March. Bontz N Another 2019 nominee for top distaffer at the Spa, Spreester (Phil Fluet) came charging hard in the stretch to finish second while Pasultimatedelite N earned the show spot. Despite coming in on a winning streak, Bontz N paid $11.80 to win and with the race's two biggest longshots finishing second and third, the exotics paid very well. The exacta in the feature returned $162.50 while the triple came back $559. Live racing resumes on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12 Noon. Mike Sardella

Thursday afternoon marked the return of harness racing at Saratoga Casino Hotel with a thirteen-race program on a beautiful June day in the Spa City. With only about a month of the scheduled season being contested in 2020 heading into Thursday, trainer-driver Alek Chartrand had just ten starts as a trainer and six as a driver under his belt on the year. The return card was a big one for the 35 year old Chartrand who enjoyed his best day of the “young season” as he not only recorded a pair of victories but secured both wins with horses who had drawn post position eight. The dazzling mile of the day came from a Chartrand trainee who was making just his second lifetime start. My Pal Joe (Roll With Joe) raced only once as a freshman in 2019 but came into Thursday’s event for maiden pacers off an impressive 1:56.3 romp in a qualifier contested last week. Chartrand powered My Pal Joe out from his outside post and made it to the top. The sophomore dominated his group of fellow three year olds before scoring a decisive eleven-length win in an eye-popping 1:53.4. Chartrand’s Onspeed N (Bettor’s Delight) also drew the unfortunate task of starting from post eight on Thursday when she made her local debut. Dismissed at odds of 16-1, Onspeed N pulled off the upset in her first Spa start as she parlayed a pocket trip to a win in 1:57.1. Onspeed N, a new addition to Chartrand’s stable, paid $35.60 to win on Thursday. Trainer Jaymes McAssey and driver Jordan Derue teamed up for a pair of victories on the matinee card as well with Derue piloting three winners in total. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a thirteen-race card set to kickoff at 12 Noon.    Mike Sardella  

Certify (Credit Winner) lengthened his impressive local harness racing win streak on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The four year old was assigned post six in the six-horse Open Trot and driver Jay Randall was tasked with piloting the talented trotter who came out of the Melissa Beckwith barn for the first time. Certify won his first start for new connections last September when he prevailed in the $55,000 New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series Final and has gone on a tear at the Spa ever since. Bringing a six-race win streak into Sunday's try into the $15,000 Open Trot, Certify was the public's 6-5 betting favorite and got away last in the feature. Randall was patient with the favorite who began to make his move after a half mile of 56.3. Certify progressed quickly and overpowered the race's leader past three quarters of 1:26.3 before turning on the afterburners. Shorething Fashion (Shawn Gray) mirrored the move of Certify, following his cover until the chase proved futile. Certify stopped the timer in 1:56.2 for his second Open win of the season and his seventh consecutive Saratoga victory. Shorething Fashion was the runner-up for the third consecutive week while Cartier Volo (Brian Cross) earned the show spot. Certify, who is owned by William Hartt and Marc Reynolds, paid $4.50 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $15.60 and $130.50, respectively. Live racing is set to resume on Wednesday at Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Franco Tristan N (McArdle) prevailed in his local debut last month at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Amanda Kelley-trained pacer was the 1-9 favorite after drawing the rail in that start in a conditional race. Following a third place finish last week, Franco Tristan N moved up into the Open Pace on Saturday night. Billy Dobson sat behind the eight year old New Zealand invader in the $15,000 as they sat the pocket to the track's defending Pacer of the Year Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum). Crockets Cullen N has a ten-race local win streak in the Open snapped earlier two weeks ago and didn't factor in last weekend's installment of the Open. Still, the nine year old was the race's 3-5 betting favorite on Saturday in a five-horse field. Franco Tristan N got the perfect trip riding the coattails of the favorite in a first half that went in just 57.3. The Kelley trainee flew up the inside in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:54.1 to record his first Open win. Betterlatethnnever (Jay Randall) came on to finish second for the second straight week in the Open while Crockets Cullen N had to settle for third. Franco Tristan N paid $8.00 to win and led an exacta that returned $39.20. Franco Tristan N is owned by the Scheigert Racing Stable of Saratoga Springs. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee kicking off at noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

The field for the Fillies and Mares Open was reduced to three participants after a host of harness racing scratches on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. In a race offering win betting only, Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) was the betting favorite in a feature that went for a purse of $15,000. Bontz N (Shawn Gray), a nominee for Pacing Mare of the Year at the Spa in 2019, wound up getting the pocket trip to Miss Irish Rose A in what was her second start back this season. Invader Fool Me Again (Mitch Cushing) got away third in the compact field of three as Miss Irish Rose A cruised through a first half in 58.3. Bontz N got geared up to go around the final turn and cruised past Miss Irish Rose A in the stretch to record the victory in 1:56. Miss Irish Rose A was the runner-up and has now finished first or second in all four of her tries in the Fillies and Mares Open at the Spa this season. Bontz N, who paid $4.60 to win, is owned by April Aldrich of Greenfield Center, NY and is trained by Gary Levine who came into the day atop the trainer standings after about a month of the racing season at the Spa. Live racing is scheduled to resume on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 5:00pm first post.   Mike Sardella

Young pacer Flow With Joe (Roll With Joe) had a terrific harness racing season as a two year old in 2019. The Jody Weidman trainee recorded seven wins in eight starts last year while competing mostly in the New York Sire Stakes Fair Circuit. Flow With Joe followed up his good-looking freshman campaign with a fast third-place finish in his seasonal debut at the Spa in February. Last Wednesday (March 4), the sophomore went coast-to-coast to record his first victory of the season. Appearing maybe a bit green on the front end, Flow With Joe was all out to win in 2:00.2 as his race's 1-2 favorite. This Wednesday, the young pacer stepped up in company and squared off against a strong group in a $6,000 race for colts and geldings. Dan Cappello Jr piloted the Weidman trainee who was fifth in the six-horse field turning for home but displayed his versatility as the youngster who won on the engine last week came flying home to outclose his rivals to repeat on Wednesday. The victory came in 1:57.4 for Flow With Joe who pulled off a bit of an upset while dismissed at odds of 9-1. The win was one of two on the afternoon for the eight-time Saratoga driving champion Cappello who has enjoyed a solid start to his 2020 campaign. With his Wednesday win, Flow With Joe has now prevailed in nine of his eleven lifetime starts and could be poised for another solid season in NY Sire Stakes competition. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for noon. There is a $5,000 guarantee in the Pick Five pool on Thursday with the Pick Five beginning in the afternoon's first race.   Mike Sardella

Mister Muscle won the Open Trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel five times in 2019 after debuting here out of the Melissa Beckwith harness racing stable. As a five year old last season, Mister Muscle (Muscle Mass) enjoyed a career year winning ten races and finishing second eight times en route to just dollars shy of $100,000 in earnings. Now in his six year old campaign, Mister Muscle made his third start of 2020 in Sunday afternoon's feature for trotters and this time reinsman Jimmy Devaux got the driving assignment. Mister Muscle, who finished second in his first start back a few weeks ago, moved right out to the front end in Sunday's $15,000 Open and though he worked hard to get the first quarter in 27.3, he got a bit of a breather in the middle half before checking in at three quarters in 1:27.1. Shorething Fashion (Shawn Gray), who had a first and a second place finish in his first three Open tries at the Spa this season, sat the pocket to Mister Muscle on Sunday and gave him a bit of a scare in the stretch. The favored Cash Me Out (Brett Crawford) was looking to go back-to-back in the Sunday feature but put in just a mild bid before leveling off late in the mile. Mister Muscle stopped the timer in 1:56.2 to record his first win of the year besting Shorething Fashion who wound up as the runner-up for the second straight week. Cash Me Out had to settle for the third spot. Mister Muscle, who is owned by Patricia Scheeberger of Valatie, NY, was the 9-5 second choice in the wagering and paid $5.80 to win. The exacta with Shorething Fashion second returned $21.60. Jimmy Devaux piloted three winners on Sunday's card. Live racing resumes at Saratoga on Wednesday afternoon with first post time set for noon. There is a $5,000 guarantee in the Pick Five pool on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the month of March. The Pick Five begins in the first race of the day. Mike Sardella

Americanprimetime (American Ideal) recorded his second consecutive victory in the Open Pace on Saturday evening at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Rick Dane Jr trainee broke the lengthy local win streak of rival Crockets Cullen N last Saturday (February 29) when he went coast-to-coast in the $15,000 Open. This weekend, with Jimmy Devaux once again in the sulky, Americanprimetime was the public's top choice in the feature when bet down to odds of 3-5. The favorite wasted little time powering out to the lead and once he got there, he proved to be tough as nails. Americanprimetime paced his first half in 56.3 before being confronted by Crockets Cullen N who suffered his first defeat in his last eleven tries when he was the runner-up to Americanprimetime this week. The journey got the best of Crockets Cullen N on Saturday and the Spa's defending Pacer of the Year faded from the scene around the final turn as Americanprimetime drew away. Going back-to-back, Americanprimetime stopped the timer in 1:52 for the fastest time of the young meet at Saratoga. Betterlatethnnever (Jay Randall) sat the pocket to the winner before finishing second while Topville Olympian (Phil Fluet) came on to earn the show spot for the second straight week in the local feature. The exacta and triple in the Open paid $27.80 and $146.50, respectively. Americanprimetime is owned by the Rock&Roll Stable of Chicago, IL. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon beginning at noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Robyn Camden (Art Professor) has thrived in her limited starts at Saratoga Casino Hotel over the course of her young career and on Thursday afternoon, the Rene Allard trainee returned to the Spa to compete in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Assigned post six in the six-horse feature, Robyn Camden cruised out to the front-end in a fast first quarter paced in 27.1. Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum), who owned a win and a second in the two installments of the feature for distaffers in 2020 leading up into Thursday's card, had made the top before yielding to Robyn Camden in the early going. Those two drew off from the competition past three quarters and it appeared that the public's top two choices in the wagering were poised for a good battle in the stretch. Robyn Camden put those thoughts to bed pretty quickly as reinsman Billy Dobson asked the 4-5 favorite to crank up the speed around the final turn and the results were instant. Robyn Camden paced away to win decisively in 1:54.2 triumph while Miss Irish Rose A held off longshot Firstup (Shawn Gray) to earn the place spot. Robyn Camden won her previous try at Saratoga when she scored in the local Open during closing week of the 2019 meet, dominating the competition en route to a victory by better than four lengths. On Thursday, the favorite paid $3.80 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $7.80 and $29, respectively. Robyn Camden is owned by Jason O'Sullivan of Dublin, Ireland. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 5pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Harness racing trainer Jackie Greene has a pair of training titles to her credit at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The trainer of the Horse of the Year at the Spa on multiple occasions, Greene used driver Frank Coppola Jr. as her stable's regular reinsman for the last several seasons. With Coppola not in the mix anymore, Greene has used Shawn Gray on all of her horses in the first couple weeks of the 2020 racing season. On Wednesday, Greene and Gray teamed up for a pair of victories including one in a co-featured $9,000 trotting event for New York sired trotters. Deplorable Tom (Credit Winner) was acquired by the Kellogg Racing Stables this winter and after a few unsuccessful starts at the Meadowlands, the four year old made his local debut out of the Greene stable on Wednesday. Gray moved Deplorable Tom out to the early lead and they faced just a mild threat from the race's favorite before drawing off to score in 1:59.1. The Kellogg Racing's Brad's Buddy (Heston Blue Chip) put in a career-best performance on Wednesday as he posted a new lifetime mark. Brad's Buddy worked hard in the early going to overcome post seven but after getting through the opening quarter in 27.1 didn't face a significant challenge before stopping the timer in 1:54.3 to set a new career mark as Greene went two-for-two on Wednesday with new regular driver Shawn Gray at the helm. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon with a matinee beginning at Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Sunday's feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel was the $15,000 Open Trot and it went the way of an Open first timer. Certify (Credit Winner) was a winning machine in 2019 spending much of his year competing in New York Sire Stakes races. Whether it was traveling the Fair Circuit or racing in Excelsior competition, Certify thrived throughout his three year old campaign. A late season purchase by owners William Hartt and Marc Reynolds, Certify paid immediate dividends for his new connections when he won the $50,000 Excelsior Final contested here at Saratoga in September. Following a win last Sunday in his seasonal debut, Certify was up into the Open this week and wound up as the public's 1-2 betting favorite with Jay Randall in the sulky. The four year old trotter cruised out to the early lead in the six-horse feature and traveled unopposed for the majority of the mile before Randall asked the budding star to crank up the speed around the final turn. Certify's response was instant and he drew away to be a decisive winner in the Open stopping the timer in 1:55.4 to move his local win streak to six and record his first career Open Trot victory. Volare (Billy Dobson) sat the pocket to the winner before finishing as the runner-up while Cash Me Out (Brett Crawford) came on to earn the show spot. The exacta and triple in the feature paid $14.20 and $61, respectively. Certify is trained by Lance Hudson who has six wins and a second in his seven starts since acquiring the talented trotter in September of last year. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Miss Irish Rose A (McArdle) sprung the upset in Thursday's harness racing feature pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Larry Stalbaum owns and drives the Tracy Tarantino-trained distaffer who wound up getting a pocket ride in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Miss Irish Rose A sat the two-hole to Yonkers invader Sandy's Beach (Billy Dobson) who made an early beeline to the lead in the feature. The race's favorite, The Charging Moa N (Jay Randall), was last of the five pacing mares when she made her move approaching the three quarter pole but her chase proved futile. Miss Irish Rose A popped the pocket on Sandy's Beach around the final turn before coming on to score the upset at odds of 16-1. Sandy's Beach held second while Bye Bye Felicia (Mark Beckwith) came on to finish third. Miss Irish Rose A paid $34.60 in her upset win and led an exacta that returned $93.50. The win was one of two on the day for Stalbaum and Tarantino as their Gina Grace N (Bettor's Delight) made good at odds of 1-5 to record her first victory of the season. Miss Irish Rose A joins stablemate Crockets Cullen N as Tarantino trainees to win an Open during the first week of the 2020 campaign at the Spa. Live racing resumes on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

There were co-features on the Wednesday afternoon harness racing card at Saratoga Casino Hotel for New York sired trotters. Each division went for a purse of $9,000. Monticello invader Chip Chip Conway (Conway Hall) was the afternoon's most decisive winner as defending leading driver Billy Dobson piloted the Gary Messenger-trained trotter to a four-plus length victory in 1:59.4 in the first of the co-features. Chip Chip Conway wrapped up his 2019 campaign with back-to-back victories at Monticello and didn't wait long to put one in the win column in his '20 season as he made good at odds of 2-5 on Wednesday. The second co-feature saw Blackjack (Credit Winner) go coast-to-coast in his first start since joining the stable of Jordan Derue. Blackjack prevailed in five of the last six tries to wrap up his '19 campaign and cruised to a wire-to-wire win in 2:00.4 in his $9,000 division on Wednesday with Derue in the sulky. Blackjack paid $6.50 to win as his race's second choice in the wagering. The favored Guilty Desire (Billy Dobson) made a break after the start and wound up closing to be the runner-up to Blackjack despite coming from last following the early miscue. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratofa Raceway  

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