Day At The Track
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On The Podium (Donato Hanover) went coast to coast in the Sunday harness racing feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Al Annunziata-trained trotter moved out to the early lead in the $15,000 Winners Over and never looked back. After getting a first half in 57.2, On The Podium didn't face any real pressure until the final turn when pocket sitter Cincinnati Miss (Frank Coppola Jr) came out of the two-hole to challenge. Those two trotters stepped away from their rivals before On The Podium reached the wire first in 1:55.4 for his third victory of the season. The race's lone lady Cincinnati Miss came up second best while Lucid Thoughts (John Macdonald) kept his "on the board" streak alive by closing for third. On The Podium returned $13.40 to win while pulling off the mild upset. Aldrich has rebounded well after a scary spill on Friday night. The 2015 leading driver at Saratoga piloted three winners on Saturday evening (two for Annunziata) and followed it up with a victory in the Sunday matinee's feature. Live racing continues on Monday afternoon with a Memorial Day matinee card set to kick off at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Givenupdreaming (If I Can Dream) paced the fastest mile of the year to date on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Heidi Rohr trainee was one of five participants in the $13,000 Open Pace and with first half fractions of 27 and 55.3 to set the table, Givenupdreaming moved first over and powered up to take over the lead after three quarters in 1:23. The six year old standout cruised away in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:50.3, the fastest clocking for any race in the 2017 campaign at the Spa. Somewhere Fancy (Billy Dobson) followed the winner's cover and wound up as the runner-up in the feature while Panocchio (Gerry Mattison) came on for third. It was the sixth victory of the season for Givenupdreaming and the first win in the local Open for the Rohr trainee who was piloted to the Saturday score by Stephane Bouchard. Live racing this holiday weekend with matinees scheduled for both Sunday and Monday afternoons both beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Little Santamonica (Little Steven) has always loved competing at Saratoga Casino Hotel and the talented harness racing mare has always done her best work on the front end. In Friday night's $13,000 Fillies and Mares Open, the Jordan Hope trainee moved out to the lead. Driver Jimmy Devaux, who has said that Little Santamonica is one of his favorite horses as she always gives premium effort, gave the nine year old a second quarter breather before she was tested approaching three quarters. Little Santamonica recorded her seventh victory of the season as she held off pocket sitter Keene Olivia (Billy Dobson) and longshot Quick Draft A (Frank Coppola Jr) to prevail in 1:53.1. The race's 6-5 co-favorite in the wagering led an exacta and triple that paid $27.80 and $189, respectively. It was career win number 42 for Little Santamonica who earlier in the season paced the fastest mile of the year for distaffers when she stopped the timer in 1:51.4 in her previous Open win. Live racing continues on Saturday night with a 6:45pm first post time. Mike Sardella

Lucid Thoughts (Cash Hall) has spent much of 2017 finishing second and third. The John Macdonald trainee had hit the board in nine of his eleven harness racing seasonal tries but was winless as he drew the rail for Sunday's Winners Over trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Lucid Thoughts was part of a significant three-horse speed duel in the early stages of the $14,000 Sunday feature but Macdonald would not relinquish the lead. Parking out a pair of rivals, the 8-5 co-favorite Lucid Thoughts went to the half in 55.3 but looked none the worse for the wear in the race's second lap as he cruised to his first win of the year, a victory that came in 1:55.2. Photo King (Jay Randall) sat just off the early speed and was the runner-up while Cincinnati Miss (Frank Coppola Jr) closed for third. While Lucid Thoughts was co-favored, the exotics paid well in the Sunday feature with an exacta of $51.50 and a triple that returned $449. Live racing resumes on Thursday afternoon with a matinee that kicks off at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Titus Seelster (Artistic Fella) went back to back in the harness racing Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel as the Jackie Greene trainee went coast-to-coast for the second consecutive week. Despite being assigned the outside post in Saturday's $14,500 Open, Titus Seelster blasted out to the early lead. After a first quarter in 27 seconds, driver Frank Coppola Jr gave the standout a second quarter breather of 29 seconds. From there, the six year old pacer went a back-half in 55.1 before stopping the timer in 1:51.1 en route to his sixth win of the year. The win time was the second fastest of the year at Saratoga, second only to Titus Seelster's stablemate Artful Way who won the Open in 1:51 back in April. Don'tcallmefrancis (Bruce Aldrich Jr) sat the pocket to the winner and finished second while Bettor Rock On N (Stephane Bouchard) came on for third. Titus Seelster, who was the favorite in last week's Open, returned $16.40 to win this week and led an exacta and triple that paid $89 and $404.50, respectively. Artful Way gave Greene a training double on Saturday as the standout pacer dropped down into the $12,500 Winners Over level to secure a victory of his own, a win that came in 1:51.4 with Coppola in the sulky. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Milky Way Rae (American Ideal) had little difficulty handling the step up in the harness racing company on Friday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Heidi Rohr trainee was coming off a win in the conditional ranks when she stepped up into the $13,000 Fillies and Mares Open on Friday night. Billy Dobson has become the regular pilot for the four year old mare whose early speed is her best asset. Flashing that speed in the feature, Milky Way Rae made the lead in a 26.4 first quarter and sizzled through a half in 55.4. Feeling just mild pressure before reaching the top of the stretch, the talented distaffer faced a host of challengers in the lane but proved to be up to the task. Milky Way Rae stopped the timer in a seasonal best 1:53.1 to record her third win of the season, two of which came in the Open. Godiva Seelster (Shawn Gray) was the runner-up in the Friday feature while Her Own Land (Mark Beckwith) closed for third behind the 4-1 shot winner. Dobson and Rohr teamed up for another victory on the card as pacing mare Keene Olivia (Always A Virgin) recorded her second consecutive win despite being parked the entire first half of the mile before drawing off to prevail in 1:53.4. Live racing continues on Saturday evening with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella  

Reasinforpleasin (Conway Hall) put in a harness racing career best effort in the Thursday co-feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Dave Spagnola trainee picked up second over cover approaching the half in the $9,000 feature for New York sired trotters and charged hard in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:58.1 to lower his lifetime mark. Reasinforpleasin enjoyed success as a freshman two years ago and also did well in 2016 as a sophomore despite having only started nine times. On a scorching hot Thursday afternoon in the Spa city, the four year old trotter recorded his second win in seven seasonal tries with Frank Coppola Jr in the sulky. Scarey Karie (Phil Fluet) came on late to be the runner-up while longshot Thanks For Playin (Dan Cappello Jr) earned the show spot. Steve La Belle's Kinda Naughty (Conway Hall) prevailed in the other co-feature going coast-to-coast in 1:59 with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

While both series finals that took place on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel were won by big favorites, the John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series final saw a harness racing upset on Sunday afternoon. Reigning Autumn (Rc Royalty) moved out to the early lead in the $32,100 trotting final and was tracked throughout by the race's favorite Osvaldo Blue Chip (Jay Randall). With several of their rivals making breaks, the top tandem drew off a bit around the final turn but it was the longshot holding off the favorite in the end as Reigning Autumn held on to win in a career best 1:56.3. Osvaldo Blue Chip had to settle for second while Elegant Son (Brian Cross) came on to finish third. The Alek Chartrand-trained Reigning Autumn, who was driven to victory by Bruce Aldrich Jr, paid $19.20 to win. The exacta and triple came back $51 and $268.50, respectively. Reigning Autumn became the fifth winner of the annual John Mongeon Sr. Memorial trotting series joining a list that consists of Pop I, Order By Don, Quick Feet and Palmers Pride. Live racing resumes on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee starting at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella    

There were two series finals which served as harness racing co-features on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The J P Morel Memorial Pacing Series final went for a purse of $31,600 for young colts and geldings and was won by heavily favored In A Single Bound (Roll With Joe). The Monica Krist-trained three year old set a lifetime mark of 1:52.4 in leg one of the series two weeks ago but was a beaten odds-on favorite in the prep for the final which took place last weekend. On Saturday night, Billy Dobson put the 2-5 public choice on the engine and the sophomore standout never looked back before drawing away to win by more than five lengths in 1:53.1 over a sloppy Spa oval. American Wiggle (Stephane Bouchard), who upset In A Single Bound last week, was the runner up to him in Saturday's final while Beckarama (Mark Beckwith) earned the show spot. In A Single Bound became the fifth winner of the J P Memorial Pacing Series which started in 2013. Nashurallability (Ameripan Gigolo) moved her record to four-for-four for trainer Joe De Carlo and driver Chris Long as she completed the sweep of the Virginia O'Brien Memorial Pacing Series on Saturday night. The race's overwhelming favorite at odds of 1-9, Nashurallability never had an anxious moment as she wired the group of fillies and mares who took part in the $31,500 final in a career best-matching 1:54.3 over the sloppy track. Sweet You (Bruce Aldrich Jr) was the runner-up while Constant Factor (Jay Randall) came on to finish third. The four year old mare added her name to the short list of winners of the O'Brien memorial which now consists of Karla Art, Shesnobeachboy and Nashurallability. Live racing continues at Saratoga on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Milky Way Rae (American Ideal) went coast to coast in the Friday harness racing feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Heidi Rohr-trained mare was dropping out of the Filly and Mare Open in which she finished third last week and was the 2-5 betting favorite in Friday's $9,500 feature for distaffers. Milky Way Rae moved out to the early lead in a fast 27 second opening quarter and the four year old mare never looked back. With Billy Dobson in the sulky, Milky Way Rae stopped the timer in a seasonal best 1:53.3, the fastest of her two seasonal scores. A winner in the Open back in March, Milky Way Rae has consistently hit the board this year against the track's top mares. Bettorhaveanother (Frank Coppola Jr) sat the pocket to the winner on Friday and finished second while longshot Weekend Getaway (Jimmy Devaux) closed to be third. The win was one of two on the card for Rohr and Dobson who also secured a victory with heavily favored Keene Olivia (Always A Virgin) earlier in the night. Live racing continues on Saturday evening at the Spa with a first post time set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

The New York Sire Stakes champion among freshman harness racing fillies last year, Barn Bella (Conway Hall) has picked up right where she left off. The Steven Pratt-trained filly went six-for-nine as a two year old in 2016 including a victory in the Two Year Old Filly Final on the $225,000 Night of Champions last season and moved her record to two-for-two in '17 on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Barn Bella was the public's 1-5 betting favorite in her second start back this year and looked every bit the part on Thursday. Coming off a win in which she prevailed in 1:57.4, Barn Bella romped in 1:56.2 this week, dominating her rivals for a nearly ten length victory in the $9,000 co-feature for New York Sired trotters. While regularly piloted in the NY Sire Stakes by Jeff Gregory, Claude Huckabone Jr. has sat behind Barn Bella in both of her wins thus far in 2017. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

Soul Train (Trainforthefuture) went coast to coast in the Sunday harness racing feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Trainer Al Annunziata and driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. won three on the matinee card and it was six year old Soul Train who highlighted the hat trick with his score in the $12,500 Winners Over Trot. After working hard early in a 27.3 opening quarter, Soul Train went middle quarters in 29 seconds before opening up a big lead around the final turn. Despite tiring a bit in the final strides, the Annunziata trainee had enough left to prevail and stopped the timer in 1:56.2 for his first win of the season. Lucid Thoughts (John Macdonald) extended his streak of finishing second or third to eight straight as he was the runner-up in the feature while Sweet Thing (Frank Coppola Jr) came on to finish third. Soul Train returned $10.40 to win. Annunziata's Bjanthony (Credit Winner) scored a dead-heat win earlier in the day as he lasted a long way on the outside before hitting the line at the same time as rival Eternal Prince. Veteran trotter On The Podium (Donato Hanover) wrapped up the hat trick for his trainer and driver with a wire-to-wire victory of his own. Live racing resumes on Thursday afternoon with a 12:15pm first post. Mike Sardella

JK Panache (Art Major) has been a force in the harness racing 'Open Pace' for years now at both Vernon Downs and at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Dave Dewhurst trainee had just a second place finish in the Saratoga Open this year though before Saturday's installment of the $14,500 feature. Jimmy Devaux picked up the catch drive behind JK Panache who quarter moved to the lead after an opening panel put up in 26.3. The fractions were sizzling as the eight year old veteran reached the half in 54 seconds over a track labeled 'good.' JK Panache checked in at three quarters in 122.1 and still looked to have something left though his rivals were closing in. The classy veteran held tough and held off the late surge from longshot Sporty Spook A (Billy Dobson) who came up second best to JK Panache in what was the 50th win of his illustrious career. Givenupdreaming (Stephane Bouchard) came from last to finish third in the mile clocked in 1:51.4. JK Panache was the race's 8-5 betting favorite and led an exacta and triple that paid $53.50 and $142, respectively. It was the first victory of the year in the Open Pace for the Dewhurst-trained superstar who is quickly approaching the half million dollar mark in lifetime earnings. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Her Own Land (Blissfull Hall) had rattled off three consecutive harness racing victories at Saratoga Casino Hotel before entering the Fillies and Mares Open for the first time in April. The Melissa Beckwith trainee was then the favorite in three consecutive tries in the $13,000 Friday feature but came up second best all three times. On Friday night, Mark Beckwith sat back early on with the six year old mare who was patient in the early going while the fractions were sizzling up front. Following an opening quarter of 26.3 and half in 55 seconds, Her Own Land made a methodical march up on the outside before kicking into full gear around the final turn. The distaffer moved her career earnings to over the $250,000 mark as she came on to win by a neck in 1:52.4 for a new seasonal best. Betabcool N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) was the race's favorite and came up second best on Friday night while Milky Way Rae (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. After being favored in each of her previous three tries in the feature, Her Own Land paid $8.60 to win and was on top of an exacta and triple that came back $23.60 and $64.50. Live racing continues on Saturday night with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

Nashurallability (Ameripan Gigolo) will head into the Virginia O'Brien Pacing Series Final as the one to beat after the Joe De Carlo trainee romped in her harness racing prep for next weekend's Final at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Nashurallability was the 1-9 betting favorite in the $10,000 feature on Thursday afternoon which served as the second leg of the series. The series' qualifications stated that there needed to be a minimum of twelve starters in order to have an official second leg. When that criterion wasn't met, leg two turned into a "prep" for O'Brien eligibles. Nashurallability had no trouble prevailing in wire-to-wire fashion in a career best 1:54.3 on Thursday with Chris Long in the sulky. Letherriptaterchip (Shawn Gray) was the runner up to Nashurallability for the second consecutive week while longshot Viva La Voracious (Frank Coppola Jr) earned the show spot. The Virginia O'Brien Pacing Series Final is scheduled for Saturday night May 13th and will go for a purse of upwards of $30,000. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

Sweet Thing, driven by harness racing driver Bruce Aldrich Jr., took Sunday's $15,000 feature trot at Saratoga. The 5 year old mare, trained by Homer Hochstetler, trotted the mile in 1:56.3 for the win. Live racing resumes Thursday afternoon with a post time of 12:15. Mike Sardella  

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