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This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series second legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features four $40,000 divisions on Friday (March 22) in the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (March 23) card at Yonkers will see six $50,000 divisions in the second round of the George Morton Levy series for open pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for Free-For-Allers began Saturday night (March 16) with six $50,000 divisions. Dan Dube posted his 9,000th career win with Western Fame. Mike Lizzi photo. Say this much for Dan Dube...he appreciates timing. Approaching his latest driving milestone for a while, Dube coordinated it just right, stylishly winning Saturday night's opener of the Levy. His open-length romp with favored Western Fame ($4.40) not only served as the 9,000th win of his career, but threw down the Free-For-All series gauntlet as the fastest local mile (1:51.1) of the season. From post position four in the first division, Western Fame gave nothing else a shot through intervals of :27.1, :56.2 and 1:24.1. The two-length lead off the final turn became 5-3/4 lengths at the wire, helped by his fast feet and a scattering behind after a nasty break by Windsong Leo (George Brennan). Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett) avoided the happenstance to end up second, with Mach It So (Brent Holland), Lyons Steel (Mark MacDonald) and Don Domingo N (Matt Kakaley) settling for the remainder. For Western Fame, a 6-year-old son of Western Ideal co-owned by Go Fast Stable, B&I Stables, Stephen Klunowski and Gilbert Short and trained by Rene Allard, it was his first win in a pair of seasonal starts. Beware the Ides of March (Friday the 15th), provided you weren't mesmerized by the start of Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker. Five $40,000 groupings were consecutively contested, featuring the best pacing mares around. Defending series champ Shartin N (Tim Tetrick, $2.20), began her purse season by fooling very few. From post No. 2, she found herself away third before finding the front. From there (:27.4, :56, 1:24.3, 1:52.2), she was a puny pari-mutuel proposition. Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett) made the first lead, yielded and missed, beaten a half-length. Bettorb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton) closed for third, with Dudesalady (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Mach It A Par (George (Brennan) settling for the small change. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Tintin in America Kiwi lass, co-owned by Tetrick, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, she comes off a 19-for-24, million-dollar season. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards.   Here are the leaders following the opening weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1t. Jason Bartlett - 22; 1t. Scott Zeron - 22; 3. George Brennan - 21; 4t. Joe Bongiorno - 20; 4t. Tim Tetrick - 20. Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. - 20; 2. Ross Croghan - 15; 3t. Tony Alagna - 10; 3t. Rene Allard - 10; 3t. Jen Bongiorno - 10; 3t. Tahnee Camilleri - 10; 3t. Robert Cleary - 10; 3t. Dylan Davis - 10; 3t. Erv Miller - 10; 3t. Nifty Norman - 10; 3t. Nick Surick - 10. Owners: 1. Robert Cooper Stables - 12.5; 2t. Tahnee Camilleri - 10; 2t. J L Benson Stables - 10; 2t. Enzed Racing Stable - 10; 2t. Brad Grant - 10; 2t. Royal Wire Products - 10; 2t. D R Van Witzenburg - 10; 2t. Wish Me Luck Stable - 10. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy over the next three weekends. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 20.   Paul Ramlow Internet News Manager U.S. Trotting Association | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Goshen, NY - The Racing Under Saddle series of New York is proud to host their inaugural Derby Night at the Races event on (Saturday) May 4 in Orange County, NY, the Cradle of the Trotter. The fundraiser is an audience-participation event where actual races are shown on multiple televisions and guests are given the chance to "wager" on the outcome of eight pre-recorded horse races and win prizes. The event starts at 6 pm, and guests will also be able to watch the 145th Run for the Roses live from Churchill Downs, which is slated for a 6:50 pm post time. Party-goers are encouraged to wear Kentucky Derby-themed attire and there will be prizes for the derby best hat, best dressed, as well as a host of great door prizes. To be held at G.W. American Burgers in Chester, NY, the multi-media facility is well-equipped to host the fun and excitement of a horse racing-themed affair which is geared toward adults and equine enthusiasts. Tickets are $25 each or $40 per couple and seating is limited. Advance ticket purchase is necessary, and can be reserved by contacting Vanessa Karlewicz at (call or text) 914-588-3104 or thru Facebook messenger. RUS NY is a group of passionate equestrians that are collectively committed to organizing and promoting under saddle races for Standardbreds across the state of New York, including events held in conjunction with various New York Fair Stakes races. For more information about RUS NY go to:   by Chris Tully for RUS NY

Bobs Hope (Donato Hanover) started from the rail in Sunday's $15,000 Open Trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Amanda Kelley trainee spent his winter racing in Florida and returned to town on a two-race win streak. Jay Randall got the driving assignment on Sunday and situated Bobs Hope into the pocket spot in the early going. Wings Of Royalty (Shawn Gray), a three-time winner of Spa Opens last year, was making his first local start of the season and moved out to an easy lead on the chilly Sunday afternoon. Bobs Hope tracked the top one throughout and popped the pocket around the final turn. The seven year old surged by in the stretch before drawing away to win in 1:58. The race's favorite Cash Me Out (Phil Fluet) got up for second while Wings Of Royalty held on for third. Bobs Hope, whose earnings from Sunday's score moved him over the $200,000 for his career, was dismissed at odds of 5-1 in his return to Saratoga. Bobs Hope paid $12.80 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $33.80 and $114, respectively. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00pm.   Mike Sardella

Annabeth (Shadow Play) worked hard to secure the early lead in Thursday's harness racing feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel and once the veteran mare got to front, she proved to be tough as nails. Annabeth got interfered with in last week's installment of the Fillies and Mares Open but this Thursday, she enjoyed smooth sailing once clearing the lead in a first quarter of 27.3. Following a second quarter breather that led to a half in 57.3, Annabeth was confronted by the race's favorite Sally Fletcher A (Bruce Aldrich Jr) and those mares slugged it out toe-to-toe for almost a half mile. The Bill Adamczyk-trained eight year old dug in on the front-end and rebuffed the favorite before stopping the timer in 1:54.1 for her first win in the local Open this season. Happy Heart (Mark Beckwith) rode the coattails of the winner throughout and wound up as the runner-up while a game Sally Fletcher A had to settle for third in the $15,000 feature for the ladies. Annabeth, who was driven to victory by Shawn Gray, was the fourth choice among the group of six distaffers in the Open while dismissed at odds of 5-1. She paid $13.00 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $61.50 and $149.00, respectively. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a first post time set for 6:45pm.   Mike Sardella

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Looking for an entry into the World Harness Handicapping Contest at The Meadowlands on Saturday April 6, 2019? Buffalo Raceway will give you that opportunity this Saturday night (March 16) by hosting a WHHC qualifying event.   Contestants must be 18 years of age, have valid identification and be a member of the Hamburg Gaming Players Rewards Club which is free to join. Entrance into the qualifier is $10 with the winner receiving $500 along with two night hotel accommodations and paid entry into the WHHC finals. A second place finish will earn you $250 while third place returns $100.   Contestants will receive an individually numbered packet containing ten (10) mythical $200.00 win wager forms. A total of five wagers must be made on Buffalo Raceway's program on Saturday, March 16 with the other five having to be played at The Meadowlands.     Registration will begin at 5 p.m. and will continue through 8 p.m. at the contest table located in the Buffalo Raceway clubhouse. Post time at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday is 6 p.m. while The Meadowlands has a 7:15 p.m. starting time.   For more information and complete rules, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- There was little suspense in Buffalo Raceway's two main harness racing events on Wednesday night (March 6) as a pair of heavy favorites had no issues in posting dominating victories.   You Mach Me Crazy ($3.10) crushed the field in the $10,500 Class A Open Handicap for the distaff pacers while Noble Legend ($3.00) led every step of the way to collect the win in the $10,500 Class A Open Handicap Trot.   Driver Shawn Gray directed You Mach Me Crazy to a gate-to-wire decision over HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) in 1:57.0 over the good track.   Setting fractions of :29.1, :59.1 and 1:28.2, You Mach Me Crazy was in total control with a panel to pace and nailed the victory down with a :28.3 last quarter. HP Sissy was 3-1/4 lengths back with Ticket To Fly (Shawn McDonough) third.   It was the fourth victory in seven tries this year for You Mach Me Crazy (Mach Three-Lady Terror). Owned by William Emmons and trained by James Clouser Jr., the 6-year-old mare has now produced $21,685 in earnings in 2019 and $128,148 lifetime.   It was basically the same story for Noble Legend in the featured trot. Darting to the lead from the start, Noble Legend played 'catch me if you can' and did so successfully.   Noble Legend wires the field in Open Trot. -    Photo by Steve Roth   Using splits of :29.3, 1:00.0 and 1:29.4, a :30.0 last frame by Noble Legend was more than enough to squash any flickering hopes of Are You In (Kevin Cummings) and Snapshot Springs (Drew Monti). They finished in second and third respectively behind Noble Legend who won by 3-3/4 lengths in 1:59.4.   Co-owned by the Vogel & Wags Nags Stable along with Jack Rice, Noble Legend (Kadabra-Lovin It) is a 7-year-old gelding conditioned by Maria Rice. It was the third victory in eight appearances this season for Noble Legend, now a winner of $21,390 and $221,476 in his career.   Davis Jr. and Monti each had triples on the card with Jim McNeight Jr. doubling. Jim McNeight had a pair of training victories.   Racing will continue on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. with a 12-race program scheduled.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to     by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, February 26, 2019--Yonkers Raceway's fourth race Tuesday night (Feb. 26th) was declared a 'no contest'. Right around the quarter-mile pole, trailing pacer Classiesistar N (Joe Bongiorno) took some bad steps and fell down. He landed about two or three paths out from the pylons and not far from where the starting car remains as an observer during the race. When the rest of field hit the backstretch the second time, they all had to check up to negotiate a 'skinnier' oval, going wide in between the fallen horse and the car. With the entire oval unable to be used during the race, the judges deemed the race a 'no contest'. Now the good news. Bongiorno was not hurt, while 10-year-old gelding Classiesistar N--once unhooked from the bike--immediately took a clockwise lap before escorting himself back to the paddock. The injury report apparently consisted of just some cuts to his knees and/or feet.   Frank Drucker

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Opinions. Everybody has one.   Well, fans are now getting another opinion when it comes to handicapping the races at Buffalo Raceway as Paige Usiak has joined the team to give her insight. She's along side Buffalo Raceway track announcer Wayne Teaven on the track and simulcast feed as the pair share their perspective on each race.   Their input is in addition to Brian Mazurek's selections which appear in the nightly Buffalo Raceway program and at   So, along with the morning line odds, it now gives fans four different points of view on each and every race.   Usiak said, "We are tweaking things as we go along but so far I think Wayne and I are playing off each other well. I study the program for every card and probably watch two hours of replays to get ready for the night."   Buffalo Raceway Director of Operations Jon Cramer said, "We're excited to have Paige on board. She is working well with Wayne."   Usiak is no stranger to horses. She's was on Buffalo Raceway's backstretch last year, working the ship-in barn and also paddocking. Being on the front side is different this season for her, stating, "On any given day I can be doing something new, I never know what but I'll do it. It's a lot of fun."   She can be seen serving cocktails in the clubhouse and discussing her personal race picks with seasoned fans and newcomers.   Usiak is currently enrolled at Erie Community College where she plans on becoming an architect. So while being a 'Jill of all trades' at Buffalo Raceway, a handicapper and college student, it makes for a busy life.   But for Usiak, it's something she's enjoying.     by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway   Photo: Paige Usiak Photo by Steve Roth

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Beachy Dream swept by the field like a tidal wave and surfed his way to a dominating 4-1/2 length harness racing win over Dark Horse in Buffalo Raceway's $11,000 Class AA Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night (Feb. 23).   Driver Shawn Gray sent Beachy Dream to the winner's circle and remained scorching hot at Buffalo Raceway as he banked four victories on the program to push his total to 23 in just 75 starts. He had four victories on Wednesday's card.   It was a mad dash for the lead with IYQ YQR and Dark Horse fighting it out to the half mile pole while Beachy Dream enjoyed the festivities from fifth. Gray then asked Beachy Dream to go to work and he responded perfectly.   Getting live cover, Beachy Dream stormed three-wide to the three-quarter pole and easily stormed his way to the lead, drawing off by widening 4-1/2 lengths in 1:58.1 over the good track. Dark Horse (Ray Fisher Jr.) picked up the place check while Mr Euroman N (Billy Davis Jr.) was third.   Beachy Dream (If I Can Dream-Beachy Girl) is an 8-year-old gelding that has found the winner's circle three times in five appearances in 2019. Owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama, Beachy Dream has now earned $17,920 on the year and $198,060 in his career.   There were a pair of sub-featured $9,500 Class A races on the card. The most impressive in the two events was A F F Bigdaddy ($2.60) who strolled to an easy 5-1/4 length win over Im So Handsome in 1:56.1.   After sitting back and watching the scrum take place on the front end, A F F Bigdaddy (Drew Monti) took over just before the quarter pole and never felt any pressure the rest of the way.   Owned by Jennifer and Marcus Rogowski and trained by Steve Kiblin, it was the second victory in three starts this season for A F F Bigdaddy (Sir Luck-Artacam Hanover). The 6-year-old gelding has now put $10,840 in the bank on the campaign and $89,865 lifetime.   In the other contest, four horses had a taste of the lead at some point but it was Manceiver ($5.40) who was on top when it counted the most, at the wire.   Manceiver (Gray) had the lead early, was shuffled back, but found a way to shake free in the stretch to register a 1-3/4 length nod over Foreign Officer (Monti) in 1:58.1.   Conditioned by Sarama and owned by Torcello, it was the third victory in five outings this season for the 5-year-old gelded Manceiver (Sportswriter-Swift N Shout). The win jacked his seasonal earnings to $14,390 and $109,027 in his career.   Monti also had an excellent night in the sulky as he had five victories while Davis Jr. doubled. Sarama had three training scores and Lee Dahn had a pair.   Racing will resume on Wednesday evening with a 13-race program scheduled for 5 p.m. The finals and the consolation round of the 'Opportunity Knocks' Series highlight the card along with the $10,500 Class A Open Handicap Trot and the $10,500 Class A Open Handicap Pace for the ladies.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Veteran local trotter Cash Me Out (Cash Hall) made his return in style to the Spa on Sunday afternoon as the 2019 harness racing season got underway at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Kyle Spagnola-trained trotter has spent the majority of his career competing at Saratoga and on Sunday prevailed in the first Open of the season. Phil Fluet guided the 1-5 betting favorite out to the early lead in the $12,000 Open Trot and the veteran high-stepper never faced an anxious moment. Cash Me Out got the money, going coast-to-coast with relative ease, stopping the timer in 1:57.1 in the season's first feature at the Spa. Mandeville (Jimmy Devaux) finished second while Zagster (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. Cash Me Out's win, which was the 38thin 164 career starts, boosts his lifetime earnings to just above the $995,000 mark. The 78th racing season is now underway at Saratoga Casino Hotel and features matinee race cards this week contested on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons starting at 12:00pm each day. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Khun Ratha A, after spending a brief time at Monticello and Yonkers Raceway since arriving from Australia, made his Buffalo Raceway harness racing debut on Saturday night (Feb. 3) an impressive one by easily brushing by the field to register a 1-1/4 length victory in the featured $11,000 Class AA Open Handicap.   Under the guidance of owner/trainer/driver Larry Stalbaum, Khun Ratha A ($5.10) went three wide heading to the three-quarter pole and blew past the pace-setting and second place finisher Title Town (David McNeight III) in 1:56.1 to secure the win. Dark Horse (Ray Fisher Jr) took the show position.   Title Town and Western Rockstar A tussled to the opening half in :57.4 over the good track and that battled proved to be the perfect setup for Khun Ratha A.   Sitting fifth, Stalbaum directed Khun Ratha A to go three-wide and the tandem confidently cruised to the top around the final turn and never looked back.   It was the second win in four starts this season for the 9-year-old gelded Khun Ratha A (Bettor's Delight-Calafia). The win pushed his seasonal earnings to $12,660 and $176,028 lifetime.   In the $9,500 Class A event, Beachy Dream went gate-to-wire in 1:57.3 to defeat RM Hawk by a half length. Shawn Gray drove the winner to the popular $2.20 score for owner Mike Torcello and trainer Gerry Sarama.   Billy Davis Jr. got off to a great start on the season by notching four wins in the bike while Drew Monti added three and Gray a pair.   Trainer Maria Rice found the winner's circle four times with Sarama getting a double.   Racing will resume on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with a nine race card scheduled.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Aldine Hanover joined the ranks of Michael Hall’s harness racing stable late last year, the filly immediately made her presence known. Aldine Hanover quickly asserted herself as the alpha in the Hall’s group of mares and she commanded respect in the barn. It was apparent to Hall that Aldine Hanover possessed something special that could not be taught.  “We turn the horses out. The mares especially, they go out in groups. Since she’s been here, she took over the boss spot in the field with four other mares. Before that, one of them thought she was in charge,” Hall said.  “She’s a little bit mean, but in a good way on the racetrack. She doesn’t like another horse to pass her and she’ll dig in,” Hall continued. “If you train her with another horse, she’s perfect when you sit behind them, but as soon as you tip her out to go, she wants to go by them instantly. Just does everything that you want her to do. “She’s just all racehorse. You can make an athlete, or you can be born with it. Just something in her genes, she was just meant to be a good horse.” Aldine Hanover proved her merit to Hall in winning last week’s $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap at Yonkers Raceway. The wire-to-wire effort was the biggest win of her career to date, elevating her earnings to $289,711 and improving her record to 10 victories from 43 starts. The 4-year-old mare will try to double up in this Friday’s (Feb. 1) distaff feature. Hall had his eye on Aldine Hanover while she raced out of Erv Miller’s barn at 2 and 3. By A Rocknroll Dance out of the Artsplace millionaire Armbro Amoretto, Hall was initially attracted to Aldine Hanover’s pedigree. He also liked Aldine Hanover’s consistent performances on the track. “A lot of my owners are breeders and I try to have the client in mind for when they’re done racing because that way, they give you a little bit of a safety net because they don’t always pan out. Fortunately, she did, but they don’t always pan out,” Hall said. “We always try to have a backup plan in place when you get into it. “She basically never misses the board. That was the biggest thing. She was ideally going to be a money maker. I was hoping she’d be able to win out of the non-winners of eight at Dover and maybe go in the winners over there. I didn’t really have the aspirations that she’d be as good as she’s been the last few weeks.” Hall knew Miller would be likely to part with Aldine Hanover at the end of her sophomore season. After Aldine Hanover romped in a local $20,000 overnight November 19, the sale was completed and Hall took Aldine Hanover to Dover Downs. She won two straight races to close her 2018 campaign and began her 4-year-old season with a narrow loss January 2. She won a $16,000 overnight January 9 before testing the waters in Dover’s $25,000 Filly and Mare Open January 16. She finished a close third to Delishka and Apple Bottom Jeans. “She got away third on the rail, which is like the death spot. It’s the toughest spot in the world to make money from,” Hall said. “Dexter Dunn got off of her and said, ‘man, if I could have gotten out three or four feet earlier, I would have won.’ She was flying at the wire. “I don’t know if she could have beaten those two mares or not,” Hall continued. “I would have said (Dexter) was being a little overly optimistic, but he’s driven a lot of good horses, so if he says something like that, he knows what he’s talking about.” Aldine Hanover proved she can handle open company last time out when she took Yonkers’ top class for distaffers in 1:53.4 with Jason Bartlett in the sulky, beating her Delaware rival Delishka in the process. Hall made the move to the Hilltop to gauge Aldine Hanover’s talents as he floats the idea of nominating her to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series. “We raced her in the Open at Dover and they didn’t fill it the following week. I figured we might as well try it. The last start before I bought her, she raced there and everything worked out perfect. Jason Bartlett drove her, got the front really easy, and never pulled the plugs,” Hall said. “I was shocked at how good she handled it. A lot of horses who are a decent size struggle on the turns, but she just got right around them like it was nothing. With the purses up there, it would be foolish not to take a chance.” Aldine Hanover drew post four in her repeat bid, and with Jason Bartlett back in to drive, she is a tepid 5-2 morning line choice. Unlike last week when she was handicapped by post seven, Delishka benefited from this week’s open draw and will start from post two in front of Brent Holland. Between the Delaware invaders will start Lance Hudson’s recent New Zealand-bred import Betterb Chevron. Amateur Hour, Shez Sugarsweet, Monica Gallagher, Ella Michelle, and Itty Bitty comprise the lineup. “Last week she beat that Delishka mare. That mare is awful tough. It was nice to draw inside of her, but this week she drew inside of us,” Hall said. “We couldn’t beat her on the five-eighths. It will be interesting to see if the track size evens it out. The other foreign mare of Lance Hudson’s, that mare was airborne finishing the last few weeks.” Although Aldine Hanover won on the front last week, Hall is skeptical about his mare trying for the lead this week. He is confident in his mare’s off-the-pace tactics. “I know Jason likes to be aggressive off the gate, but Delishka, that mare can leave fast. think it would be a little harder for us to make the lead if we wanted to,” Hall said. “I like the fact that my horse doesn’t have to be on the front. She can do what she has to do. To me, it sets up a whole lot different than last week because the horses we had to out leave were all outside of us and everybody sort of floated into the turn and grabbed up. This week, it looks like it should be interesting for the first quarter-mile. “I think it will be a good test,” Hall continued. “I’m sort of on the fence about whether she’s good enough to think about putting her in the Matchmaker or not. This will be as tough a group of mares that she’s raced so far in her career, so we’ll see how it goes.” Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

MGM Resorts International and its real estate arm, MGM Growth Properties, have finalized their $850 million purchase of the Empire City Casino and its 97 acres of developable land in Yonkers, New York, just 15 miles north of Manhattan’s Times Square. The purchase gives MGM — which opened its $960 million MGM Springfield resort casino in August — a fourth property in the Northeast. MGM bought out its partner and took control of the Borgata in Atlantic City and opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland, both in 2016. MGM Springfield President and CEO Michael Mathis said MGM’s operation in Yonkers will help it market MGM Springfield, especially through MGM’s M life rewards program. “The Empire City Casino acquisition in Yonkers is designed to tap into the underserved NY market, which will complement the MGM Springfield market. MGM’s unmatched East Coast presence in major markets allows for significant cross marketing and customer loyalty programming that offer us a clear competitive edge. We are well positioned to be a leader in the Northeast’s multi-billion dollar gaming market," Mathis wrote in an email. The New York Gaming Commission approved the deal Monday, as well as MGM’s permission to run harness racing at the 120-year-old track. Continued racing is a requirement under Empire City Casino’s license to run slot machines. “We are pleased to welcome the 1,200 employees at Empire City Casino to the MGM Resorts family,” said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, in a news release. “With this new addition to the MGM Resorts portfolio, we have now gained a foothold in the high-density New York City region and we look forward to leveraging the MGM platform to maximize value in this evolving marketplace.” Tribal Winds: East Windsor casino project has new name, new push from Foxwoods and Mohegan to compete with MGM Springfield This comes as the Connecticut legislature is asked to pass legislation allowing casino expansion to East Windsor. MGM bought the property from the Rooney family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers and owners of Yonkers Raceway since 1972. The Empire City Casino opened in 2006. “What’s incredibly exciting is the amount of opportunity MGM Resorts will bring to the employees at Empire City, as well as Westchester County, the city of Yonkers, and the State of New York,” said Timothy J. Rooney, president and CEO of Empire City Casino, in a news release. “With destinations throughout the world, from resorts to casinos to entertainment, MGM has a tried-and-true formula for success. ... the potential for growth at Empire City has absolutely no boundaries.” Over the years, MGM has told investors it plans to leverage the marketing power of its East Coast casinos, offering package deals and cross promotions to get visitors moving among the casinos and looking to MGM’s Vegas properties for longer vacations. MGM is also in the final stages of buying Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in Ohio for $1 billion. Empire City Casino is 125 miles and a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Springfield. Empire City doesn’t have state permission to run table games. It offers slot-machine-like electronic games at 5,200 video-lottery terminals operated by the state lottery. MGM Resorts said will pay an additional $50 million to the Rooneys if Empire City is awarded a license for live table games by the end of 2022 and if MGM Resorts gets the license by the end of 2024. But New York has a moratorium on new casino development until 2023. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the news website that he is aware that MGM would like to get a full casino with table games in Yonkers, but didn’t indicate he would look to make any changes to the time frame. “I know it’s a topic of conversation, but I have no opinion or intention of making any changes at this time," Cuomo said. "It’s an evolving field, there’s no doubt about that.” The website USBets said MGM might relocate the required harness racing meet to Belmont Park, a thoroughbred track and home of the Belmont Stakes, to free up space for development at the Yonkers track. By Jim Kinney Reprinted with permission of the site

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 26, 2019 -- Down-the-road numbers Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Dube, $6.10) and Bettor's Fire N (Ron Cushing, $4.70) went, um, down the road Saturday night (Jan. 26th), winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured harness racing $44,000 Open Handicaps. From position No. 4, in the week's marquee trot, Smalltownthrowdown seated Wings of Royalty (Jordan Stratton) and 8-5 choice Andy Ray (Jason Bartlett) in behind, then completed his rounds (:27.4, :57.4, 1:26.3, 1:55.3). It was the fastest local trot mile of the early season. The margin was a comfy length-and-a-half over Wings of Royalty, with Andy Ray--after a second move--DW's NY Yank (George Brennan) and Weslynn Dancer (Matt Kakaley) settling for the minor moolah. For second choice Smalltownthrowdown, a 6-year-old statebred Cash Hall gelding co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Bruce Soulsby, VIP Internet Stable and Yves Sarazin, it was his first win in a pair of seasonal starts. The exacta paid $26, the triple returned $66 and the superfecta paid $273.50. Smalltownthrowdown The adult-table pace saw favored Bettor's Fire N--from assigned post No. 2--stuff Air Strike (Brent Holland) in behind early, then take it the distance (:27.1, 57.1, 1:25.1, 1:53.1). Air Strike tried him from the pocket, but missed a length. Third went to a ground-saving, 80-1 rank outsider Techtor Hanover (Stratton), with Aston Hill Dave (Tyler Buter) and Great Vintage (Jim Marohn Jr.) rounding out the payees. For Bettor's Fire N, an 11-year-old Bettor's Delight Down Under gelding co-owned by his driver, Ron Cushing and Frank Ranaldi, it was his first win in a pair of '19 tries. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $16.40, the triple returned $215.50 and the superfecta paid $1,674. The winner was a closing, eight-hole third at 62-1 in his last try. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 25, 2019 - Odds-on harness racing fave Aldine Hanover (Jason Bartlett, $3.40) finished what she started Friday night (Jan. 25th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Returning from Dover and winning the 3-thru-6 draw, Aldine Hanover stepped about polester Shez Sugarsweet A (Ron Cushing), making the lead just before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. After a 57-second intermission, the other formful Delaware interloper, Delishka N (Brent Holland), was at it again, moving from an early-acquired four-hole. Aldine Hanover needed a :27.3 third quarter (1:24.3) to keep that foe at hoof's distance, taking a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane. The gang closed ranks behind her, but Aldine Hanover held sway, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.4. Shez Sugarsweet A grabbed second, with Clear Idea (Matt Kakaley), Delishka N and Culinary Delight N (Larry Stalbaum) rounding out the payees. For Aldine Hanover, a 4-year-old daughter of A Rocknroll Dance owned by Claim to Fame LLC and trained by Michael Hall, it was her second win in four seasonal starts (board-certified in 13 of last 14 tries). The exacta paid $23.20, the triple returned $68.50 and the superfecta paid $275. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 18, 2019 - Ella Michelle A (Joe Bongiorno, $7.70) won the draw for the inner half of the gate, then left the other lasses at her mercy Friday night (Jan. 18th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Ella Michelle A stuffed both Amateur Hour (Brent Holland) and Clear Idea (Matt Kakaley) in behind, while 3-2 favorite Itty Bitty (Jason Bartlett) was forced to retreat after she, too, tried leaving. Meanwhile, Ella Michelle A had an issue (:27.4, :57, 1:25.4, 1:55.1), with Clear Idea faltering after a weak second move. Ella Michelle A had a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn before winning by three. Culinary Delight N (Larry Stalbaum) offered late lane pace to get second, with a tough-trip Itty Bitty, 53-1 rank outsider Made of Jewels AS (Troy Beyer) and Amateur Hour settling for the minors. For second choice Ella Michelle A, a now-8-year-old Down Under daughter of Cammibest owned and trained by Chris Scicluna, it was a winning seasonal debut. The exacta paid $89.50, the triple returned $324.50 and the superfecta paid $2,896.  YONKERS CANCELS SATURDAY LIVE RACING, EVENING SIMULCASTING Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its live racing program (and evening simulcasting) for tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 19th), due to the impending snow and ice storm. It’s the first cancellation of 2019. Afternoon simulcasting is available until approximately 6 PM. Live racing is scheduled to resume Monday night (Jan. 21st), with the usual first post of 6:50 PM. Frank Drucker

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