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YONKERS, N.Y. – When Delightfulmemphis wheeled first-over on heavy favorite Bettor Joy in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series first leg March 15, harness racing trainer Nifty Norman didn’t have high hopes. As rain poured down and the track quickly changed from fast to sloppy, Bettor Joy brushed to the front and cruised untested through a half in :56.1. With Jason Bartlett’s whip on her tail, Delightfulmemphis worked within 1 ½ lengths passing the three-quarters, but appeared to stall around the final turn as Tim Tetrick confidently handled the leader. “I was quite happy to be second, I thought that would be just fine; come first-over and finish second, that would be great,” Norman said. “I knew that other mare was a very nice mare and I didn’t expect to beat her.” Luckily for Norman, Bartlett didn’t concede that easily. Turning for home, the track’s leading driver kicked out the plugs and went to a strong right-handed stick. Delightfulmemphis straightened out, bore down, and inched closer and closer. The mares crossed the wire together and Delightfulmemphis got her nose in front in time to win the $40,000 series split. “I thought it was fantastic. I thought turning for home, she had no shot, but she’s one of those horses who can just hang around and stay close,” Norman said. “Once she’s in the straights, she gets wound up a little bit and right at the wire, she just lunged at that other mare. Jason said on the turns, she struggles a little bit, loses a little ground, but if you can just keep within half-a-length of another horse, she tries like hell.” Despite her first-leg series win, which boosted her seasonal record to 5-for-8 with $92,250 earned, the most of any horse so far this season, the Matchmaker wasn’t Delighfulmemphis’ target all along.  Since she began her stateside career for Norman last July, the Australian Group 3 winner and Group 1 and 2 placed mare racked up wins in the conditioned ranks and Harrah’s Philadelphia and the Meadowlands. However, the Bettor’s Delight daughter was 0-for-6 at Yonkers, including two tries in the distaff open. “To be honest, I thought she was probably a big track horse,” Norman said. “I thought she was a closer and I thought you’d have to race her at the Meadowlands or Mohawk. I raced her at Yonkers a couple times and she got around it pretty good. I still don’t really think it’s her forte because she likes to get home good. She’s not a great front-runner, which was sort of against her at Yonkers; she’s a little bit lazy in front. But Jason has done a good job driving her. Because of Jason’s help, she’s worked it out and if you don’t use her too hard early, she can really come a good back three-quarters. “I didn’t think she was a Matchmaker horse, really, but she’s gotten better and better.” The turning point came February 1 when Delightfulmemphis scored her first local victory in a $29,000 overnight. The uncharacteristic front-stepping win prompted Norman to nominate her to the series, which closed February 15. Delightfulmemphis won her first local feature that evening and finished second in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap March 8. “I only sent the check in right before they were due,” Norman remembered. “She won a non-winners of $30,000 the week before and I said, ‘you know what, why not?’ You might as well be in it and she had just won, so that helped pay for the starting fee, so that’s when I decided.” Although she established herself as one to watch with her first-leg win, Delightfulmemphis will still have her work cut out for her in week two. She drew post two in the fourth and final division Friday night (March 22), which features fellow first-leg victors Shartin and Seaswift Joy, who drew posts eight and seven, respectively. Feelin Red Hot finished second to Seaswift Joy last week and drew post five while Obvious Blue Chip, compromised by post seven last out, will start along the pylons. Dudesalady, Angel’s Pride, and Sell A Bit complete the lineup.  “It’s a good race. Obviously Shartin is probably the best mare in the country, so she’s tough to beat any time. I think we’re in a good spot there with post two to not do too much work early and just hope we can get a good run at the end and pick up a good check,” Norman said. “Apart from Shartin, I think she’s probably competitive with most of the others. It’s a tough series. I’d actually like to get another top-two finish so you could maybe give her a week off somewhere along the way. Having a good draw helps, so we’ll just see how it works out.” Friday night’s card features four divisions of the Matchmaker Series Second Leg while the George Morton Levy Series goes with six splits Saturday, March 23. Monday night’s card features the $58,000 Petticoat Series Final and the $60,200 Sagamore Hill finale goes Tuesday night. 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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 15, 2019-A first-up Delightfulmemphisn (Jason Bartlett, $17) prevailed Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Away fourth from post griposition No. 4, Delightfulmemphisn watched Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley) lead through early intervals of :27.3 and :56.3, Delightfulmemphisn left the cones after intermission, as first pacing in place toward a 1:24.4 three-quarters. She picked it up after that, though Kaitlyn N owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. However, that lass was about to wear out here welcome. Delightfulmemphisn surged by, whipping a second-over Itty Bitty (Jim Marohn Jr.) by a length in 1:53. Sally Fletcher A (Joe Bongiorno), Kaitlyn N and Empress Deo (George Brennan) settled for the lesser loot, with 1-2 favorite Betterb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton) last among the half-dozen at every point of the mile. For fifth choice Delightfulmemphisn, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Enzed Racing Stable and trained by Nifty Norman, it was her fourth win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $135, the triple returned $685 and the superfecta paid $1,983. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Richard "Nifty" Norman is looking forward to watching his 3-year-old female trotters this season and is getting an early look at one of them that he didn't get to see in action on the racetrack last year. Haveoneforme was unraced at age 2 because of soundness issues. She made her career debut Jan. 25 and defeated a field of mostly older horses, both male and female, in a conditioned class at the Meadowlands. She returns to the same class Friday and is the 9-5 morning-line favorite from post eight with Dexter Dunn in the sulky. She is among a group of 3-year-old fillies that has Norman feeling hopeful as he looks ahead to stakes season. Others in the stable are returning Grand Circuit winners Evident Beauty and Princess Deo as well as lightly raced Mother Bonnie. Princess Deo and Mother Bonnie were trained previously by Noel Daley, who returned home to Australia to continue his career at the end of last year. "I've got a good group," Norman said. "I've got a couple others that are just maidens but have got some talent I think. It's good to have depth. Anytime you've got depth, you're all right." Haveoneforme adds to that depth, although she might be pointed more toward restricted-stakes action in Ontario. The filly is a daughter of Kadabra out of All Filled Up. Her second dam, Filly At Bigs, and third dam Mombasa were O'Brien Award winners. The family also includes stakes-winners Big Rigs, Miss Tezsla, and Bridger. "We trained her down last year and she got a bit sore," said Norman, whose Enzed Racing Stable owns Haveoneforme with Mel Hartman. "She went through the July (Tattersalls Summer Mixed) sale and we bought her back. She is pretty good this year; no killer, but handy. I'm probably just going to stake her in Ontario. I think she could maybe do well up there. "I liked her last year. She was nice enough, but she wasn't sound. We just turned her out and gave her some time, let her grow up. She's lovely to be around, has got a good head on her, and she is good gaited." Haveoneforme finished second in a qualifier prior to winning her debut in 1:58 on a 30-degree night at the Big M. "I wasn't sure if she had enough speed, but she actually showed good speed in her qualifier and her race," Norman said. "I liked the way she finished up both times. I just wanted to race her a few times to see if she's good enough to go to the next level. I'll maybe give her three starts and then give her another break and get her ready for Ontario." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST) at the Meadowlands. Six-year-old Trolley, trained by Erv Miller and driven by Marcus Miller, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the night's Preferred Handicap for trotters. Trolley is 2-for-2 this year and has won five of his past six races dating back to November. For Friday's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Robyn Camden, unbeaten in 12 starts at 2 and 3 won her first race in the US at Yonkers on Monday night Jan 28th. The best of her generation in the British Isles, the four year old filly had made a pleasing start to her career stateside being placed in all 3 of her starts so far at the Meadowlands in December and had paced the mile in 1:51 on one of these occassions Lining up against some stiff local opposition on Monday night the filly by Art Professor out of Keystone Havoc was driven to victory by crack New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn who kept things simple by taking cover from the gate before producing her in deep stretch with an electric turn of foot to triumph a shade cosily in 1:57.3 much to the relief of trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and the delight of co-owner Clive Kavanagh, spokesman for the All Out Syndicate. After the race Norman admitted that it had taken a while for Robyn Camden to acclimate to life in the US and being a precocious sort it had just took a little while longer for her to readjust than some of the others that had made the journey from Ireland before her. One of these recent exports Rebel Rouser continues to impress and is a winner of his last 4 at The Meadowlands for trainer Robert Cleary. Another, Reclamation who travelled over shortly before Robyn Camden has shown great promise and is a multiple winner both at Harrahs Philadelphia and The Meadowlands. Reclamation and Rebel Rouser are joined owned by Bill Donovan from Delray Beach, Florida and Donal Murphy from Baltimore in Cork, Ireland and both horses along with Robyn Camden spent their formative years being reared on the lush green pastures of Ireland - which many claim have given them a strong constitution and solid foundation, perfect springboards to achieve success across they are all currently enjoying across the atlantic. Now that shes resumed her winning ways got her first win on the board, its onwards and upwards for Robyn Camden and connections are confident that she will have many more victories under her belt before returning home to Ireland in utero from a yet be named a top sire. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Darlinonthebeach made her Meadowlands return a winning one, taking the Friday night feature, the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for harness racing pacing fillies and mares in 1:51, her seasonal best. As reported by Jay Bergman in DRF Harness, the Nifty Norman trainee, who last raced at the Big M on Nov. 16, has battled a nagging suspensory injury for much of the season, which derailed her Breeders Crown and TVG hopes, but she showed no ill effects of her physical problem after a perfect trip led to her third win of the season in nine starts. Sent to the gate as the 3-5 favorite (along with entrymate Stylish Beachware), Darlinonthebeach was taken to the rear of the eight-horse field by driver David Miller in the early stages. Brazuca, who went off stride briefly before the start, made a bold move at leader Kak's Shark Attack down the backstretch and on to three-quarters, all the while providing a perfect tow for Darlinonthebeach, who was in an ideal second-over flow. With three-sixteenths of a mile to go, Darlinonthebeach was tipped off her cover by Miller and rolled to a decisive 1¾-length victory over Jewel Lehigh A, who rallied for second. Brazuca hung in there to nab the show dough. Darlinonthebeach, a 5-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Darlin's Delight who is owned (and was bred) by White Birch Farm, returned $3.20 to her backers. Lifetime, she's won 20-of-54 starts and banked $1,068,648. A LITTLE MORE: Yannick Gingras continued his winning ways, guiding four to victory lane, including three for trainer Ron Burke. David Miller and Dexter Dunn had three apiece. Gingras and Miller have 11 victories each over the last three Big M programs ... The 50-Cent Pick-4 pool came oh-so-close to reaching the six-figure mark, as a total of $99,938 was pushed through the windows on the Big M's signature bet. ... All-source handle on the 14-race program was $2,486,515. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. with another action-packed 14-race card. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Robyn Camden, the undisputed queen of harness racing in the British Isles, makes her eagerly awaited debut in the USA at the Meadowlands on Fridays program Dec 21st and thousands of her fans in the UK and Ireland are expected to stay up late and logged on to their laptops in order to see her majesty strut her stuff on the world stage for the first time.   Now trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman the 3 year old filly will be driven on the night by David Miller having qualified impressively last week at the Meadowlands "with loads to spare" according to David Miller. Bred by the Camden Stud in Yorkshire, England, the filly is by Art Professor (1:47.4) out of Keystone Havoc which has already thrown millionaire Keystone Horatio (1:48.4) and she made top price at the annual York Sales in October 2016 when the hammer fell at £15,200. New owners All Out Syndicate represented by accomplished horseman Clive Kavanagh and partners, the filly was broke in on return to Ireland by Christy Foran and conditioned for racing by Clive Kavanagh and renowned trainers Christy and Geoff Dunne in Kildare whose facility at Porterstown is adjacent to the world famous thoroughbred stronghold known as The Curragh. Undefeated in 12 races at 2 and 3, the filly has beaten the best of her generation both colts and fillies and even all aged company proved to be no match for her in 2 races in 2018 at her home track Portmarnock. With multiple track records and numerous awards to her name and nothing left to prove in her homeland, the connections Clive Kavanagh and partners hatched an audacious plan to send her to the US to resume her career and to see just how far the filly could go on the big stage. Jonathan Dunne, regular driver of the filly (alongside Clive Kavanagh) recommended Nifty Norman to take charge of her on arrival in New York in September and all has been quietly gearing up for her debut since then. Reputed to be sparkling in training a big run is expected by connections and the eyes of a nation will be on her come Friday night at the Big M to see if her unbeaten run can continue against stiffer opposition. Also in Friday's line up is old adversary Reclamation, who was also campaigned at 2 and 3 in Ireland and the UK, and despite 7 attempts she failed to beat Robyn Camden, although she came close to doing so at times. Reclamation of course is now 2 wins from 2 starts since her arrival in the US and has a record of 1:53.4f to her name. It remains to be seen whether Reclamation can finally lower the colours of Robyn Camden and a lot will be down to who has acclimatised better to being trained in the States. Both pacers will have to achieve a lifetime best however to defeat the race favorite, Delightful Feather on the night who is a winner of half of its ten starts and has a record of 1:52.1m., Whatever the result on the night, both Robyn Camden and Reclamation have a bright future this side of the atlantic and hopes are high these fillies who spent their formative years in Ireland can carry the luck of the Irish with them in their careers Stateside. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink  

MILTON, November 30, 2018 - Grand Circuit harness racing star Darlinonthebeach shipped north and took the top spot in Friday's $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The top-class for pacing fillies and mares had seen three different winners (Request For Parole, Exhilarated, Kendall Seelster) in the last three weeks and all three were back to battle in Friday's feature contest. Richard 'Nifty' Norman trainee Darlinonthebeach was the lone newcomer in the field of eight. Sandbetweenurtoes and driver Louis Philippe Roy shot off the gate to the lead and posted opening-fractions of :27.2 and :56. Darlinonthebeach and driver Bob McClure took their time in the early-stages and got away sixth, eventually catching cover entering the far turn when Request For Parole committed first-up from fourth. The third-quarter saw Sandbetweenurtoes ramp up the tempo for a :27.3 split, while keeping distance away from Request For Parole and Exhilarated. Darlinonthebeach was sitting third-over and tipped three-wide coming off the final-turn. In the stretch, Darlinonthebeach tracked down her rivals with powerful strides to take the lead in the final-eighth and score the victory by a length in 1:52. Exhilarated battled tough to finish second, while Sandbetweenurtoes held third over Kendall Seelster. A five-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Darlinonthebeach was making just her second start since May. Her return to the races was a fifth-place finish in the Mares Preferred at The Meadowlands on November 16. Owned and bred by White Birch Farms, Darlinonthebeach earned $1 million over the past three-seasons racing for trainer Nancy Johansson. Now in the care of 'Nifty' Norman, the multiple-stakes winner is two for six with $42,100 earned this season. Friday's victory was the 19th career win for Darlinonthebeach. She paid $7 to win. Live racing continues Saturday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. Mark McKelvie

CHESTER, PA - Delightfulmemphisn, who had shown a great deal of harness racing ability both in her native Australiasia and in her American debut, put it all together in her second Stateside start, powering off to an effortless 1:51.2 victory in the $14,500 distaff featured pace at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday afternoon. The victorious daughter of Bettor's Delight gained second-over under the guidance of Brett Miller - normally a pretty good racing spot, although in the recent hot and muggy weather and the corresponding importance of forward race placement, only one of the previous 16 winners at Philly had been able to win off of cover. But Delightfulmemphisn had no such travel difficulty, tipping wide early on the far turn and then just powering home, her own last half 54.4 with Miller sitting chilly behind the powerful mare. They defeated Brazuca, who rallied from the pocket, by 1¼ lengths, with pacesetter Valuable Art third. Delightfulmemphisn had record 11 wins and 16 seconds in just 36 Down Under starts, and in her U.S. debut she closed from seventh to be third at The Meadowlands, with her individual last quarter of 25.1. She won easily today for trainer Nifty Norman and the Enzed Racing Stable Inc., and the earner of $233,938 looks like she can go with a tougher cast of competition quite well right now. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

JULY 19, 2018 - After an early season that did not play out quite as his connections had hoped, three-year-old trotting colt Perfetto made a brief stop in the Grassroots Series at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday evening and picked up a confidence building victory. Starting from Post 1, Perfetto and driver Trevor Henry eased away from the starting gate and were sitting fourth as Iam What I Am reached the :30.1 opening quarter. Henry soon sent the heavy favourite to the front and the pair was two and one-half lengths on top at the :59.4 half. On cruise control at the 1:29.3 three-quarters, Perfetto kicked into another gear in the stretch and trotted home a three and one-quarter length winner in 1:57.4. Smart Pick closed sharply to be second and early leader Iam What I Am was third. "That was easy for him," admitted Henry. "They just put him in here because it (the Gold event) was a half-mile at Grand River and they didn't figure he'd get around there, so they raced him here." A Gold Series winner at two, Perfetto's connections expected him to be a serious player at the province's top level again this season, but the gelding made a break in the Gold Series opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 28 and again in his Goodtimes elimination on June 8 and was forced to requalify. Trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman decided to add trotting hopples to the gelding's equipment and he delivered a solid qualifier on June 12, then followed that up with a strong effort in the June 26 Gold event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, finishing second to Stormont Ventnor. On July 13 Perfetto found the winner's circle for the first time as a sophomore in an overnight event for non-winners of three races. "They had a lot of problems with his shoeing and that and they seem to have gotten it straightened out. Anthony Haughan has done a good job with him, and he seems to be coming around now," said Henry, noting that Cambridge, Ontario resident Haughan cares for the Norman horses while they are competing in Ontario. "He's getting better, he's getting his confidence back, you know, he's got two wins now and it will help him a lot." Arthur, Ontario resident Henry has piloted Perfetto in all but one of his Ontario starts for Norman and his Enzed Racing Stable Inc. of Allentown, New Jersey, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida and Joe Hansford of Foothills, Alberta. Thursday's victory improved the gelding's sophomore record to three wins and two seconds in eight starts for earnings of $51,580. Say You Do's sophomore campaign also got off on the wrong foot with breaks in both the May 20 Grassroots opener at Flamboro Downs and the July 1 event at Dresden Raceway. The Kadabra gelding redeemed himself on Thursday evening however, with an impressive gate-to-wire score from Post 7 in the first $19,150 division. With Guelph, Ontario resident Paul MacDonell in the race bike for the first time, Say You Do fired off the gate and reached the quarter in :28.4. The pair carried on through a :59 half, fought off a challenge from Daylon Phantom heading by the 1:28 three-quarters and then cruised home to a two and one-quarter length victory in 1:57.2. Fan favourite T Barrr closed well to be second and The Magic Number was third. MacDonell crafted Say You Do's first-ever Ontario Sires Stakes victory for trainer Stephen Oldford and his Oldford Racing LLC of Port Huron and Gene Oldford Farms LLC of St. Clair, Michigan. Through six sophomore starts the trotter now has two wins, two seconds and earnings of $17,990. Perfetto and Say You Do will be hoping for additional Ontario Sires Stakes success when the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings head to Rideau Carleton Raceway on August 26 for both the Gold and Grassroots events. On Friday evening Woodbine Mohawk Park will showcase Gold Series pacing fillies, both two and three-year-olds. The freshman fillies will compete in Races 5, 7, and 8, while the sophomores square off in Races 2 and 9. The Campbellville oval's first race goes postward at 7:30 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

Coming up in this space next week, we'll be providing all of the results and commentary on the eliminations for Sun Stakes Saturday, with the elims on the 23rd of June and the finals coming up the following Saturday. These races will feature a large majority of the sport's finest performers at this time, so there should be a lot to discuss. In the meantime, two horses who know their way around stakes-level competition are at the top of the heap for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS For the past five years or so, this gelding could be counted on to drop in at Pocono every once in a while to face off against some of the toughest pacers on the grounds, and more often than not he would come out victorious. The difference this year is that his longtime trainer Chris Oakes handed his handling over to his son Hunter. In his first try at Pocono in the 2018 meet on June 9, Scott Rocks, now age eight, came up just short in a $21,500 condition pace behind Boston Red Rocks, who had to pace the fastest mile of the season at Pocono just to beat him. On Saturday night, Scott Rocks was back at it, facing off against a group of $17,500 condition pacers for a slight drop in class. As per usual, Scott Rocks came off the gate well, but others were rushing to the lead as well in the early going and through the front stretch. At one point driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped the gelding to the outside for what would have been a second-over journey around the second turn. But then George decided against it and utilized about a split-second window to tuck Scott Rocks back in at the pylons. Scott Rocks was still sitting third-in as they rounded the final turn, and it looked like there might not be an opening for him to come on late. But the waves of horse flesh parted just in time for him to make a flying rush to the finish line, upending the game pacesetter First Class Horse by a length-and-a-half in 1:48.4, easily the fastest time of the week at Pocono. It was a memorable way to get his first win of the year, and it's a good time for Scott Rocks to be peaking as he heads into the eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace on the weekend. Other top pacers this week include Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who came up a winner in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50.1; Unbeamlievable (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who captured Monday night's featured claiming handicap pace for mares in 1:52.1, her second straight win at Pocono and third in a row overall; and No Easy Day (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Tuesday night in a new career mark of 1:50.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HOMICIDE HUNTER Like Scott Rocks, Homicide Hunter has been a stalwart in the Chris Oakes barn for many years. Unlike Scott Rocks, however, Chris is still the man in charge of Homicide Hunter, and he has witnessed the six-year-old gelding as he has taken off on one of his characteristic hot streaks in recent weeks. It started when he picked up a win in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono on June 3 on a sloppy track in 1:55.3. He went much faster than that the following week at Scioto when he captured the Hill Memorial in a world-record-matching time of 1:50.3. Coming off those two victories, it might have seemed like he would be an overwhelming favorite to win another Great Northeast Open race at Pocono on Sunday night. But one of the horses he was facing, Marion Marauder, came in with a record as much if not more accomplished. Marion Marauder had been scratched sick from the Hill, denying fans an opportunity to see a clash of the titans in that race. But they battled on Saturday night, with Marion Marauder taking the early lead and Homicide Hunter getting parked around turn two before he made the front himself. Although there were seven other top-flight trotters in the field, the showdown between Homicide Hunter and Marion Marauder seemed an inevitability. Indeed, in the stretch, Marion Marauder gathered momentum from the pocket and pulled up right alongside the leader in the passing lane. But Homicide Hunter simply found one more burst of energy and hustled to the line a neck in front in a winning time of 1:52.2. His third straight win wasn't a world record, but it was impressive nonetheless for the caliber of trotter he beat in that stretch duel. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Joey Pro (Matt Kakaley, John Hallett), who picked up his second straight condition win on Sunday night and did so in a career-best 1:55; Haveitalltogether (Eric Carlson, Andy Miller), who followed up a condition victory with a win against the Pennsylvania All Stars for three-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; and Lindy's Big Bang (David Miller, Nifty Norman), who posted the fastest time among winners of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for sophomore male trotters on Sunday night with a career-best mile of 1:52.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CARMENS BEST This pacer's first win of the year, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, proved a surprise, as he beat a bunch of claimers on Saturday night at 20-1, paying off $42 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON Carlson's picked up multiple victories three nights in a row this week, highlighted by a surprising win in the Pennsylvania All-Stars with Haveitalltogether. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN Norman always seems to bring in a high percentage of winners, and he chalked up two more at Pocono this week, including a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory with Lindy's Big Bang on Sunday night. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Bevigila, for Pocono Downs

Trenton, NJ --- For better or worse, harness racing trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman has undergone a plethora of experiences at the Hambletonian Oaks. What lies ahead for the trainer and his horse, Magic Presto, at Saturday’s $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters is anybody’s guess. “Well, we’re in there,” Norman said. “We’ve got a chance. That’s all you can ask for.” And as Norman knows better than most, anything can happen once you’re in there. In 2010, Nifty trained the Oaks favorite, Poof She’s Gone, who made a break on the final turn and finished seventh. Two years later, his 57-1 longshot entry, Personal Style, won the race after the top two favorites, Check Me Out and Maven, both made breaks. Finally, in 2013, events played out as expected. Norman’s heavily favored Bee A Magician, the eventual Horse of the Year with a 17-17-0-0 record, won the Oaks with Brian Sears driving. This year, Magic Presto is not the favorite -- that distinction goes to Ariana G, unless her connections opt for the Hambletonian -- and she’s not the longshot. So what is she? Owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee and Jeff Gural’s Little E LLC are anxious to find out. “She raced good (in the eliminations),” Norman said. “She didn’t run off on anyone, but I thought she looked good and Brian (Sears) was happy with her. That’s all you can hope for. She seems good and healthy and sound. So we’re going in (to the final) in good shape, hopefully.” This will be the first time in a while that Magic Presto comes back in a week, but Norman said “I think it will be good for her. Brian said she was a little fresh in her elimination but that’s probably a good thing.” Bred by Liverman, Magic Presto was purchased for $160,000 at the 2015 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg by nearly the same group of owners as Bee A Magician. Hartman, Liverman and McDuffee all had a piece of the 2013 Horse of the Year. A growth spurt put Magic Presto at 17 hands at the start of the season, as her size became so dramatic a new bike had to be built for her. This season she has four wins in seven starts, with earnings of $162,418. In addition to her Oaks elimination triumph, Magic Presto won the $94,995 Ontario SBOA final at Mohawk on May 20. “Everything’s gone to plan really,” Norman said. “It’s been kind of what we wanted, not having to race her too hard, and trying to be at our best for this week. She’s gotten better and better all the time. I think she’ll still improve some more. She’s a big filly and she’s probably not as strong as she could be. I think she’ll get stronger as she gets older.” Norman is attempting to become the fourth trainer to gain three Hambletonian Oaks wins. Jimmy Takter and Jan Johnson share the record with six, while Glen Garnsey trained three winners. Sears could become the fifth driver with three Oaks wins, as Glen Garnsey, Ron Pierce and Yannick Gingras have three each and Berndt Lindstedt owns a record four. The post positions and morning line odds will be revealed for the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands during a live post position draw on Tuesday (Aug. 1) beginning at 2 p.m. The event will be streamed exclusively on the Meadowlands Racetrack Facebook page and YouTube channel. Fans should be sure to “Like” the Facebook page or “subscribe” to the YouTube channel in order to view the stream. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Western Terror filly Chat Snap, already entered in the first leg of her division of the $750,000 Bobby Weiss Series Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, showed that she should be tough to beat with a victorious prep race five days prior to her first Weiss start, winning a $14,000 contest at The Downs Tuesday in 1:55.2 over a sloppy harness racing track.   With a well-strung-out field, driver Andrew McCarthy was able to wait in fourth with Chat Snap, and when given her head approaching the ¾, the filly took her cue, motoring right up to gain the lead before the top of the stretch. From there she methodically drew clear of her field, winning by 4¼ lengths.   Chat Snap is now undefeated in three lifetime starts, including a 1:52.3 - 26.3 victory to her credit, and she has the look of a tough filly in the making for trainer Nifty Norman and owners Enzed Racing Stable Inc. and Misty Miller.   Just how tough this filly is may be discovered in the first Weiss leg for pacing distaffs this Sunday, as Chat Snap will be starting from post six in a field of eight against what may be the best-balanced of all the $15,000 Weiss divisions Sunday. The females will do battle in races 5, 11, and 12, while the males will face off in races 6, 8, and 10.   PHHA / Pocono    

TORONTO, November 19 – Sent off the 5-2 second choice, Magic Presto sat a pocket trip to 3-5 favorite Princess Aurora before edging off the pylons in the stretch and sweeping to a 1:55.4 harness racing victory in the $447,000 Goldsmith Maid Final Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack. Brian Sears guided Richard “Nifty” Norman trainee Magic Presto to the front before the first turn, with Temple Ruins tucking into second and Princess Aurora into third. After a :29.1 quarter, Princess Aurora pursued the front and struggled to clear to command. She managed to take the front before trotting a :58.1 half. Maintaining control through a 1:26.3 third-quarter, Princess Aurora was soon braced by Magic Presto emerging from the pocket. Within a matter of strides, Magic Presto trotted to the lead and clear of Princess Aurora to win by three and a quarter lengths. Temple Ruins chased the two for third and Cameron Hill finished fourth. Winning her fourth race in nine starts this season, Magic Presto, a two-year-old trotting filly by Kadabra from the Muscles Yankee mare In The Mean Time, returned $7.10 to win. “It’s a good way to end the year,” Norman said following the victory. “She gets put away in good shape and I think she’ll be a good filly next year.” Magic Presto finishes her rookie season with of $393,049 for owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee, and Little E LLC and could’ve made more had it not been for a sickness last month. “Brian [Sears] actually hasn’t driven her when she’s been at her best,” noted Norman. “She had some sickness troubles during the [Ontario Sires Stakes] Super Final and the Breeders Crown, but we assured [Brian] that she was on the way back and she qualified good, so he came up. “It was a shame she got sick for the Super Final. We tried to get her healthy, and she got healthy for the Breeders Crown, but she really wasn’t fit enough and it didn’t pay off. We got paid tonight, so it worked out good.” by Ray Cotolo for WEG Communications

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 15, 2016 - She classes up the joint. Champion harness racing trotting mare Bee a Magician (Brian Sears, $3.30), in her first purse try since late May here, didn't disappoint Saturday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway's $250,000 Invitational Trot. Away third from post position No. 2 in the mile-and-a-quarter event, Bee a Magician saw a couple of ladies, polester Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory) and Allerage Star (Andy Miller), plus Homicide Hunter (Eric Goodell) all offer early foot. After a :27.4 opening quarter-mile, and with Homicide Hunter finding a seat behind her, the fave was pointed forward. Bee a Magician made the lead before a :57.4 half, with second-tier Melady's Monet (Jason Bartlett) first-up from sixth. That one engaged the leader through a soft 1:28 three-quarters (mile in 1:57), with Bee a Magician owned a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn. She held sway from there, repelling a stubborn "Melady" by three-quarters of a length in 2:25.1. Barn Doll was a pocket third, with Windofthenorth (Corey Callahan) and Lookslikeachipndale (Dan Dube) settling for the smaller envelopes. For Bee a Magician, a 6-year-old daughter of Kadabra trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners David McDuffee, Mel Hartman and Herb Liverman, she's now 4-for-4 this season and 45-for-69 in her brilliant career with $4,088,395 in the bank. (real dollars) The exacta paid $26.20, with the triple returned $109.50. "To have a horse ready to go the mile-and-a-quarter against a very good field after nearly five months is a credit to Nifty (Norman) and a credit to her," Sears said. "I qualified her this past Tuesday (Meadowlands), and she was impressive. Today, she was back to her ornery self and it was good to see." Frank Drucker

Everyone in this business longs for that horse; the one that is a harness racing world champion, a Horse of the Year and charts the course of history so their name is forever distinguished, remembered and revered. Although Magic Presto has only just begun her career, the inspiration behind her purchase was the premonition that lightning may be captured in a bottle, not once, but twice and that she could follow in the hoofprints of another filly that first served notice of her superiority with a victory in the 2012 Peaceful Way -- Bee A Magician. "She was a big, beautiful, strong yearling," said Richard "Nifty" Norman, the filly's conditioner. "My owners always support Kadabra because they have shares in him, but this filly reminded me of Bee A Magician. That is why we went to $160,000 for her." Those are exceptionally high expectations for the daughter of Kadabra-In The Mean Time, who is owned by the same connections as the horse she was compared to in Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee, along with Little E LLC. She may not be dominating the headlines, yet Magic Presto certainly has been living up to what her connections anticipate for her future. In her short career, the filly's resume stands at 5-2-2-0 and she has banked $59,677. Magic Presto will attempt to replicate the feat of her older stablemate when she leaves from post position 10 in the C$363,000 Peaceful Way final on Saturday (Sept. 17) at Mohawk Racetrack. The filly will have the services of one of Canada's best reinsman in Trevor Henry and enters this contest after a very strong second in her elimination to Thats All Moni (post two). Unfortunately, Magic Presto will have to contend with post position 10, when she takes on the likes of freshman trotting sensation Ariana G (post four). After being hampered by post nine in her elimination, Magic Presto was hung wide leaving the gate, was settled in fourth and then endured a first-over journey commencing at the three-quarter marker only to be out-finished by Thats All Moni by 2-1/4 lengths at the wire. "You can't do anything about where you draw," Norman said. "I would not have selected either post for her in the elimination and final, but was very pleased with how she performed in the elimination. She will do anything you ask of her and is so willing. To come first-over and to have that kind of finish, you can't ask anything more of her." As for Bee A Magician, the horse whose shoes Magic Presto is anticipated to fill, it is possible the 6-year-old daughter of Kadabra-Beehive will return prior to the end of the season. "She has been swimming," Norman said. "We put her back in light training this week and all seems to be well. We would like to bring her back for the Breeders Crown, but there is still some time to go before we can see what will happen. I'm not really sure what we would use for a prep race for her as it depends on what is available and how she progresses." When it comes to Magic Presto, however, the filly will have plenty of opportunities to stake her claim for divisional honors. "Kadabra is a provincial stallion," Norman said. "But my owners and I have done quite well with him and we think this filly has ability. She is cleanly gaited, you can put her anywhere you want to and she is staked to everything for the rest of the year. She will have the opportunities to progress and develop." C$363,000 Peaceful Way 2-year-old filly trotters Race 2 - Post time 7:50 p.m. (EDT) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1. Stuck In My Spanks-Paul MacDonell-Scott McEneny 2. Thats All Moni-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter 3. Pure Kemp-Rick Zeron-Rick Zeron 4. Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter 5. Cameron Hill-John Campbell-John Bax 6. Southwind Avanti-David Miller-Nancy Johansson 7. Winter Sweet Frost-Scott Zeron-Paul Reid 8. The Erm-Mike Saftic-Clark Beelby 9. Dream Together-Sylvain Filion-Luc Blais 10. Magic Presto-Trevor Henry-Nifty Norman  by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night $45,000 co-featured harness racing Open Handicaps were brought to us by the letter B. Ladies First, with Bee a Magician (Brian Sears, $3.50), who took a overnight rest stop and toyed with her six marquee trot rivals. From post No. 6 (in one notch after the inside number was scratched-sick), Bee a Magician paid a :27.4 price to secure the lead. One she paid that toll, the rest of the road was essentially a freebie (:57.4; 1:26.4; 1:54.1). Major Athens (Tyler Buter) pulled pocket early against the Queen, and all that did was cost him second. That went to Allerage Star (Dan Dube), with Major Athens, Luminosity (George Brennan) and Crazy About Pat (Jordan Stratton) grabbing the minor awards. Buen Camino (Jason Bartlett) was outrun in a mile that ended up being a track record for aged mares. For $3.8 million ma'am Bee a Magician, a 6-year-old daughter of Kadabra trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee, it was his third win in as many seasonal starts (lifetime 44-for-68) The exacta paid $19.80, with the triple returning $64.50. Bee a Magician Then, there was Bit of a Legend N (Stratton, $3.50), who prevailed from an impossible locale in the weekly pacing feature. Last among the seven in a pokey race, he saw Great Vintage (Mark MacDonald) seemingly dawdle (:27, :56.2, 1:24.4) with Outrageous Art (Bartlett) engaging first-up. Great Vintage owned a length lead into the lane, then began to get steppy and tire. In the interim, Bit of a Legend N was winding up front last and rallying down the middle of the oval. Sixth turning for home, he was a going-away winner, defeating Outrageous Art by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:52.1. Take it Back Terry (Brennan), Great Vintage and Moonliteonthebeach (Brent Holland) earned the smaller portions. For Levy champ Bit of a Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, he's now 9-for-12 this season. The exacta paid $26.80, with the triple returning $84. Saturday's card also included a $40,000 elimination for the Art Rooney Pace for 3-year-olds. Missile J (Sears, $2.10, part of entry) won the game of musical chairs--nine to eliminate one--in 1:53.2. The American Ideal gelding defeated Rodeo Rock (Dube) by a length-and-three-quarters, with the winner's entrymate, Artmagic (Brennan) third. Joining those three in next week's $300,000 final of the 26th Rooney are Manny, Yankee Artillery, No Shame Blue Chip, Tailgunner Hanover and Tap into Power. Autotune Hanover, last season's winner of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace here, was devoid of pace this night and finished ninth. Next Saturday's Rooney is accompanied by the $100,000 Lismore Pace, which attracted six 3-year-old fillies. Both open draws take place Tuesday morning. Frank Drucker

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