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Harness racing driver-trainer Pat Lachance is this week's guest on the Harness Racing Alumni Show.   Pat drops by and candidly discusses his stable, while mentioning to Freddie, Trade and Bob that he has a couple of American Ideal two-year-old's that he expects to be nice racehorses. One of the youngsters he's training, Anthony Perretti and show co-host Bob Marks were the under bidders on at the sale.   His famous driver-trainer dad, Michel "Mike" Lachance, works with his son at the barn on a daily basis. Pat also shares his personal views about the future of American harness racing. It's an interesting broadcast. Listen to it on this week's Harness Racing Alumni Show.   From the Harness Racing Alumni Show      

Tookadiveoffdipper will find himself in an unfamiliar spot when he lines up for his opening-round division of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for older male pacers at Yonkers Raceway on Monday (March 15). He will start from post one for the first time in 26 career starts at The Hilltop. In fact, it will be only the third time he leaves from anywhere inside of post four. The first round of the six-week Borgata series, formerly the George Morton Levy Memorial, attracted 40 horses, which were split into five divisions. Tookadiveoffdipper is in the third division and 6-1 on the morning line for trainer-driver Pat Lachance. During his career, Tookadiveoffdipper has won seven times at Yonkers and hit the board a total of 14. His most recent victory at the half-mile oval came Jan. 18 in his second start for Lachance after being trained previously by Virgil Morgan Jr. The 7-year-old gelding was the 2018 Indiana Sire Stakes champion for older male pacers. "He's a nice horse," Lachance said. "We're still working on some things, just getting to know him, really. We've had a couple little issues with him, but I think he's getting better. He's going into (his race) very good. "He's got the rail this week, so we'll put him in play. He can leave really good, so I expect him to race good." Last year's Borgata series was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was, though, a November invitational for Borgata-eligible horses, and Tookadiveoffdipper finished third behind This Is The Plan and Ostro Hanover. Tookadiveoffdipper, who began his career at the Iowa fairs, is a son of Always A Virgin out of Onceinabluemoon. He has won 38 of 114 races and $478,826. He is owned by Jane Cross and Mark Cross. "He's a nice horse to be around, all the way around," Lachance said. "He's a nice drive, very quiet in the barn. He does nothing wrong." Western Fame, who won the 2019 series, is in Monday's fifth division of the Borgata. Leonidas A, last year's Potomac Pace champion, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in that division. The morning-line favorites in divisions one through four are Let It Ride N (9-5), American Mercury (3-1), Rockapelo (3-1), and Hesa Kingslayer N (5-2). Fourteen horses in the Borgata have earned more than $500,000 lifetime -- led by millionaires Western Fame, This Is The Plan, and American History -- and an additional 10 have earned at least $370,000. "There are a lot of good horses in there," said Lachance, who is making his first appearance in the series since 2016. "We'll see if (Tookadiveoffdipper) fits in there or not. He's showed that he can go in the Open before, so I don't see why not. "It's an exciting time." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. The Borgata divisions are races three through seven. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

By Michael Carter — It’s a name not recognized on the Grand Circuit stage, but a local New York favorite, Percy’s Z Tam, is a former harness racing champion who continues to shine bright after returning home to where it all began. Percy’s Z Tam, a $75,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase in 2015, showed a lot of promise through his 2-year-old season for owners M & M Harness Racing, Royal Flush Stable, Z Tam Stables and Pat Lachance. After qualifying at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and The Meadowlands, trainer Lachance put his blossoming 2-year-old into the New York Excelsior Series “A” program. Percy’s Z Tam excelled on a half-mile track in 2016, with all five of his victories on the four-turn ovals. His only miscue was at Vernon Downs, making a break heading to the three-quarter pole to finish a disappointing ninth. He concluded his season with an Excelsior Series final victory at Saratoga after making up 5-3/4 lengths in the final quarter-mile. His 3-year-old season wasn’t as easy of a road for the hard hitting son of American Ideal-Mintjulep Bluechip, scoring just one victory on his way to another New York Excelsior final. This time, however, he had too much ground to make up as Geez Joe cruised to an easy front-end victory. After a private purchase near the end of his 4-year-old season he was brought to Northfield Park under the care of trainer Herman Hagerman. After winning his first start in Northeast Ohio, the long season caught up with the talented gelding who didn’t hit the board for the remainder of the year. Percy’s Z Tam would return the following season in 2019 to hit the board in 16 of 44 starts, making just over $30,000. He would make his return to New York through the 2020 Blooded Horse Sale as a $14,500 purchase for owner Mike Torcello and trainer Gerry Sarama. Torcello saw a lot of promise in the hard-knocking gelding and thought the return home would be good for him. “I thought he would be a good fit in Western New York. His best racing took place at the New York half-mile tracks as a 2- and 3-year-old,” said Torcello. “I thought someone might try to buy him and take him back to Yonkers; luckily I was able to get him for a reasonable price and shipped him to Buffalo.” Torcello’s focus when purchasing horses is to try and find horses that can get around the half-mile tracks at Buffalo or Batavia. That move back to New York proved to be beneficial as Percy’s Z Tam quickly moved up the ranks, winning three of his first five starts facing some of the area’s top pacers. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut racing down, there was some uncertainty about what his training schedule would look like, but thanks to the management of Buffalo Raceway, Percy’s Z Tam was able to adjust to his new schedule well. “We were fortunate in WNY that management, through an agreement with the horsemen’s association, has allowed us to remain on the racetrack and keep horses in training pointed towards a reopen whenever the state deems it safe,” said Torcello. Looking ahead to the gelding’s future, Torcello says the uncertainty that surrounds the sport makes it difficult to know if they will race him on a different circuit than the one he is on now. “Our plan is to continue racing in WNY as we have done in the past, I think it is the perfect place for a horse like Percy. We’re all going to have to be flexible depending on when and where racing resumes.” Percy’s Z Tam is just one of 18 horses trained by 50-year veteran Gerry Sarama and second-trainer Sam Smith. His caretaker Sierra Smith has cared for him since entering the barn. “He knows how to take care of himself,” said Smith. “I love horses that know what works for them and can relax and do what they have to do.” by Michael Carter, USTA Social Media and Publicity Coordinator  

Freehold, NJ --- Last week, Lyons Steel was pace compromised in the Freehold Raceway harness racing feature, and finished up the track. On Saturday (March 7), he removed all doubt early on, and destroyed the field on the lead.   Leaving from post position six, driver Pat Lachance immediately cleared to the front and opened up a big margin, going the first quarter in a blazing 26.4. That's the fastest opening quarter of the new year at Freehold. Undeterred, Lachance slowed things down with Lyons Steel in the second quarter, going the half in 55.4 while maintaining a comfortable advantage.   Heading up the backstretch the final time, Lyons Steel began to open up on the field, holding a five-length advantage as he went by three-quarters. No one was able to make up any ground on the dominant pace-setter, and Lyons Steel coasted under the wire 5 1/4 lengths in front. The final time was 1:53.1.     Lyons Steel has now won twice at Freehold this season, having won the Preferred back on February 15. He paid $3 to win, $3 to place, and $2.80 to show. He's owned by BD Racing LLC and trained by Dennis Watson.   Although Lyons Steel was well clear of the rest, the other seven were separated by just two lengths on the wire. Exit Cam got up for second at 32/1, while National Seelster was third at 15/1. Casual Cool, Hudsen A, Newbie, Lucan Hanover, and Tie Your Shoe Ed.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday, beginning at 12:30 PM EDT. From Freehold Raceway      

Freehold, NJ --- Lyons Steel made his first harness racing victory of 2020 a dominant one on Saturday (February 15) at Freehold Raceway, winning the Preferred Handicap pace by three lengths.   After a brief layoff, Lyons Steel returned to the races last week, finishing fifth in the Preferred with a strong closing rally. Off that big effort, he was made the 3/5 choice in this week's Preferred.   Dropped into sixth in the early stages, driver Pat Lachance took him to the outside nearing the half-mile point, then went three-wide at the 5/8 marker to get around a stalled rival. He continued his move nearing three-quarters, effortlessly moving by early leader Smileandsaycheese and getting a clear advantage as they turned for home. With no serious competition in the stretch, he coasted home a three-length winner. The final time over the fast track was an impressive 1:53.3.     Lyons Steel made waves at Freehold last year, winning the Preferred three times. He picked up where he left off Saturday afternoon, continuing his impressive ways over that track. He's owned by BD Racing LLC and trained by Dennis Watson.   Live racing resumes on Friday at Freehold, starting at 12:30 PM EST. There will be a double carryover in the pick 5, worth $1,474.46.   From Freehold Raceway  

Freehold, NJ --- Phil Jasper's Drinkin Again has quickly taken a liking to Freehold Raceway, with three wins over the track in his last eight races. Last out, he won the Preferred Handicap pace by half a length at 12/1. He'll seek to defend his title on Saturday (February 15), lining up against seven contenders.   Jack Baggitt will be back in the sulky on the 6-year-old, who will seek to become the first pacer to win the Freehold Preferrred Handicap twice in 2020. He'll leave from the outside post position eight. It will be interesting to see if Jack takes back, or tries to send like he did last week.   Two others drew for the outside post positions, and they'll line up directly to Drinkin Again's inside. Lyons Steel turned in a strong closing effort in his 2020 debut last week, rallying to finish fifth with a final quarter of 28 seconds. During the fall/winter portion of the Freehold season, he won the Preferred three times. Pat Lachance will leave from post position six for trainer Dennis Watson.   Winning Linc drew post position seven, for driver Eric Abbatiello and trainer Richard Johnson. He caught fire at the Meadowlands last fall, with three wins in his last four starts of the year. This will be his 2020 debut.   Smileandsaycheese, Ozone Blue Chip, Gotta Go BB, Solo Story, and Ginger Tree Marty complete the ensemble. The Preferred will go as the seventh race, with a listed post time of 2:50 PM EST.   Saturday's Freehold card also features another renewal of the American Harness Drivers Club amateur trot, which will go as the fifth race. Wygant Prince, for owner/driver Paul Minore, will seek to make it two in a row at the class.   In addition, the hottest pacer based at the track, Jackamino, will seek his fifth win in a row in the sixth race, a NW $8,000 last 5/NW 9 pace. Vinny Ginsburg will drive from post position four for trainer Taylor Gower, who also trains Wygant Prince.   The first of ten races at Freehold on Saturday will be at 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway      

Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway will host a 13-race program this Saturday (February 8), with full harness racing fields in every race. The co-headliners will be the Preferred Handicap Pace and the Preferred Handicap Trot.   The Preferred Trot is scheduled as the seventh race, with a post time of approximately 2:30 PM EST. The top two finishers from last week's Preferred, Caviar Star and Dot Dot Dot Dash, will do battle once again. Caviar Star scored a 39/1 upset in last week's Preferred, saving ground after a pocket-sitting trip for owner and trainer Tom Lail. Dot Dot Dot Dash came from way out of it to narrowly miss last week, losing by a head at 17/1. Two weeks ago, she won the Preferred by a length. Chase Vandervort will be in the sulky for trainer Leah Vandervort.   The Preferred Pace will go as the ninth race, with a scheduled post time of 3:10 PM EST. Lyons Steel, who won the Preferred three times at the fall/winter Freehold meet, will make his 2020 debut, leaving from post position eight for trainer Dennis Watson and driver Pat Lachance.   Another Daily Copy, who put in a big qualifying mile at Freehold last week, Vapour, who was second in the Preferred last week, and Rancousy, who came in third in the same race, also profile as contenders.   Saturday will also feature qualifying races, beginning at 11:00 AM. The box will close on Thursday at 10:00 AM.   The first race at Freehold on Saturday is scheduled for 12:30 PM.   From Freehold Raceway  

CHESTER, PA - The Credit Winner gelding Ooh Rah didn't have to move out of third until the ¾ for driver Pat Lachance in the $18,000 featured trot Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, and then he was able to sustain a rally to catch favored Mississippi Storm in 1:55.1. Ooh Rah was able to get to the lead early, with millionaire DW's NY Yank going wide early and surging to the lead before a :27.2 quarter. Mississippi Storm had been looped in the early action, but he stayed on and went to the lead in front of the stands, getting a bit of a breather with middle fractions of :57 and 1:26.2. But it was nearing the latter station that Ooh Rah made his move, and he closed determinedly to get past the pacesetting chalk by a neck, raising his lifetime earnings to $210,055 for trainer Kathleen La Montagne, co-owner with Donald La Montagne. In a co-featured $14,500 trotting contest, driver Pat Lachance also reported home first, here with the Italian import Sylvesteramericait, who never looked back from the rail in putting up a winning clocking of 1:54.3 Bob Baggitt Jr. trains the Varenne gelding, now a winner of $297,007 on both sides of the Atlantic, for owner Christine Baggitt. Lachance and George Napolitano Jr. tied for the day's honors with three driving victories apiece. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Freehold, NJ --- It wasn't quite as easy as last week, but Ponder the Odds won another leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes - Standardbred Development Fund (NJSS-SDF) for 3-year-old harness racing pacing fillies on Saturday afternoon at Freehold Raceway. Off an impressive win in the first leg last week, Ponder the Odds was sent off as the 1/10 favorite. Driver Pat Lachance put her right on the early lead, and let her cruise through early fractions of 28.0 and 58.1 seconds. At the half-mile point, A Beach Cowgirl applied some stiff first-over pressure, and continued to pester approaching the final turn.   Ponder the Odds held firm as they turned for home, then had to fight off the late rally of ground-saving Stood Up. Although Stood Up surged late, Ponder the Odds held on to win by a neck.   This was the fourth consecutive win for the Kathleen and Donald La Montagne owned and trained filly. She's won eight races this year from 21 starts, and has earned over $70,000 lifetime. She figures to be a big favorite in next week's final.   Andy Miller had five victories on the card, with the biggest one coming with Trente Deo in the second leg of the NJSS-SDF Final for 3-year-old pacing colts & geldings. Miller sent his horse right to the lead in the four-horse field, and let him cruise on the front end through easy fractions. He held off the late rally of Admiral Ballsy to win by a head, going the mile in 1:54.4.   Miller won four consecutive races later on the day, winning the preferred handicap pace and trot with The Wall and Money Maven, respectively. He also scored with Cheyenne Jeffrey in race 8 and Northern Virgin in race 10.   Live racing resumes on Friday at Freehold, with a scheduled first post time of 12:30 PM EDT.   From the Freehold Raceway Media Department    

There were no surprises in the first legs of the New Jersey Sire Stakes- Standardbred Development Fund (NJSS-SDF) at Freehold Raceway on Saturday, as heavy harness racing favorites Prince of Tides and Ponder the Odds won their respective divisions. Coming off a big win in the Homegrown Pace, Prince of Tides was sent off as the 1/20 favorite in the first leg for 3-year-old colts & geldings. Driver George Brennan sent him aggressively from post position five. He cleared to the lead before the opening quarter, and never had an anxious moment from there. He crossed the wire three lengths in front, stopping the clock in 1:53. That was the ninth win of the year for the Ross Croghan-trained gelding, who is owned by Let it Ride Stables, Dana Parham, and Howard Taylor. He paid $2.10 to win and $2.10 to place, with no show wagering offered. Reigning Deo made a good first-over move and held on for second, while Trente Deo checked in third. Two races later, Ponder the Odds dominated the first leg for 3-year-old fillies. Off two big wins at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Yonkers Raceway, she was dismissed as the 1/10 favorite. Driver Pat Lachance sent her right to the front, and she opened up a three-length lead at the opening quarter. Longshot Fear No Evil drew close as the field turned for home, but Ponder the Odds brushed off the challenge. She cruised under the wire by 2 1/2 lengths, going the mile in 1:56.2. Ponder the Odds is trained and co-owned by Kathleen La Montagne; Donald La Montagne also owns the horse. She paid $2.20 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Surreality was second, while Stood Up finished third. Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday, October 11, with a first race post time of 12:30 PM EDT. For full results and rentries, click here. From the Freehold Raceway Media Department

CHESTER, PA - Mississippi Storm, advancing without cover through the last half, wore down pacesetter Muscle M Up late to win the $17,500 trotting harness racing feature in 1:53.3 on Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. Crazy About Pat, going for his third straight win, was out on his second move to the top nearing the :27.3 quarter, made the lead, then yielded to Muscle M Up, who had been limbed with cover from the outside post eight until "Pat" cleared, nearing the second turn, with the half accomplished in :56.2. The Cantab Hall gelding Mississippi Storm started his long uncovered grind soon after that pole, and wasn't far off the leader when he passed the three-quarters in 1:24.4. Through the stretch the battle narrowed down to these two, and Mississippi Storm proved the better late for driver Pat Lachance, with the 3/4-length decision boosting his earnings to $282,424 for trainer Tom Fanning and owner Joseph Smith. In a $14,500 subfeature trot, the Muscle Hill gelding Jack Vernon made the same type of strong backstretch move that carried him to the lead last week in a race where he finished second. That outing was his first in over three months, and this week, in his second start back, Jack Vernon was that much better, carrying his advantage to the wire in a 1:54 victory. Corey Callahan drove the winner of $323,573 for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Thomas Lazzaro and Michael Casalino Jr. 27-year-old driver Marcus Schoen, a lieutenant in the powerful trotting brigade of trainer Marcus Melander, enjoyed the first sulky success of his young driving career when he guided the Donato Hanover freshman colt Hopeyousteponalego to a maiden victory in 1:58.4. The pair came first-over into a 57.3 last half and still won handily for Team Melander and the ownership of Courant Inc. FINISHING LINES - All three Grand Circuit winners during the opening day of the championship meet at the famed Red Mile used their Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship, held here at Philly, as a springboard to victories in the two-year-old colt stake - Gangster Hanover, EL Ideal, and Amigo Volo, the last-named setting a 1:52.3 world record for 2yo trotting geldings. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, July 25, 2019 - This under "Best Laid Plans"... Monday afternoon (July 22nd), down at Harrah's Philly, Pat Lachance won his 2,000th career race as a harness racing driver. That evening, Yonkers Raceway was dutifully prepared to present him with the appropriate congratulatory signage. However, it rained buckets. Alas, Lachance was not a Yonkers' participant Tuesday night (July 23rd) and the Raceway was idle Wednesday night (July 24th). Order was restored Thursday night (July 25th), with Lachance summarily recognized for his latest achievement. Lachance, son of Hall of Famer-and perennial Yonkers' driving champ, Michel-remains a throwback, with about 25 horses currently in training. The 43-year-old native of Montreal has more than 1,500 training wins to his credit. "I'm happy to reach the number," Lachance said. "The fact that so many of the winners came from the barn makes it even better." Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, October 4, 2018-Yonkers Raceway's all-age track-record-holder returned to town Thursday night (Oct. 4) and promptly hit a number. The Real One (Jason Bartlett), whose life-best 1:50 back in November of 2016 remains Westchester's fastest-ever effort, finished second in Thursday's $23,000, 12th-race finale. Though faltering late in the lane as the 1-2 favorite, the runner-up finish and subsequent $5,750 pay envelope pushed his career account to $1,001,738. After 174 starts, the resume reads 45 wins, 31 seconds and 26 thirds. The 8-year-old Mach gelding is owned by Helene Filion and trained by Pat Lachance. Driver Jim Marohn Jr. won four of the evening's dozen races, including Prairie Panther ($21,80) in the last of the night. by Frank Druicker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, N.Y. - As the longtime trainer and driver of $904,593-earner The Real One, Pat Lachance could easily take credit for much of the Mach Three gelding’s success. Instead, the harness racing horseman defers praise to owner Helene Fillion, who is understanding of The Real One’s off-the-pace style and doesn’t pressure Lachance to take the horse out of his comfort zone. “I think the key is the owner. We’re on the same page, we understand how he races and we understand that sometimes you’re at the mercy of the pace and it’s not going to work out, but you also know that if you fire him up and send him out of there, it’s not going to work either, so you try to race him the way he likes to race and try to win the race,” Lachance said. “That’s the biggest asset. I give her a lot of credit because she never puts pressure on him. He’s the kind of horse that if you had put pressure on him, he never would have been The Real One, he’d never be what he is, no question in my mind,” Lachance continued. “He’s the type of horse that if you put pressure on him, it’s not good. He wouldn’t be racing right now if that wasn’t the case.” Fillion bought then 3-year-old The Real One online for $10,000 in 2014 and initially trained him herself. After a slow start at Rideau Carlton, where The Real One failed to finish in the trifecta, Fillion campaigned her budding star to a win and three more placings at Hippodrome 3R. Recognizing his talent, Fillion sent The Real One to Lachance to compete for the rich purses at Yonkers Raceway. “She lives maybe 10 minutes from where I was raised as a kid until I was 10 on the farm in Montreal,” Lachance said. “I never knew her until this horse and she was looking for somebody who’s French-Canadian who she can communicate with and she knows I take care of my horses and I have a good reputation for taking care of them and she wanted to send them to somebody that she trusts. “It means a lot to me because you don’t see that as much anymore and obviously there’s not a lot of trainer-drivers around, I’m one of the few and people still like that,” he continued. “People still come to me because of that, so it makes me feel great, no question.” The Real One blossomed under Lachance’s tutelage. He’s won 41 of 150 races with another 50 placings. Last year, he took a lifetime mark of 1:50.0 when setting an all-age track record in the Open Handicap at Yonkers November 19. With six wins, including a 1:50.3 score in the Yonkers Open September 23 and $179,350 in earnings this year, The Real One isn’t showing any signs of slowing down nearing the end of his 7-year-old season. The Real One’s class and closing style help keep him in top form, Lachance explained. “It’s very rare that you see horses stay at this level for four years in a row. It’s amazing,” he said. “He’s just so consistent and just a nice horse, a top horse, and he just does his job. He loves to race, he stays sound. We’re very fortunate to have him. “He’s a closer, he likes to chase, he has one big run. He’s not a front-runner, he’s not a horse that you want to send out of there. He likes to finish up at the end and pick off horses. That style of racing, it just gives him a chance to stay good,” Lachance explained. As a trainer-driver, Lachance gets the opportunity to know his horses habits on the racetrack better than most. The Real One is no exception and Lachance understands exactly what he can and can’t do in the driver’s seat. “He can get a little grabby, he can get a little anxious. That’s the only thing he does wrong,” he said. “When he follows cover sometimes you’ve got to be a little careful with him that way. Besides that, he’s pretty much ok. You just can’t fire him up too much.” Despite posting a neck victory in last week’s pacing feature, an open draw in Saturday’s (Nov. 19) $40,000 Open Pace afforded The Real One the rare luxury of starting along the pylons. The Real One has started from posts seven or eight in three of his last five starts and hasn’t drawn inside post four since winning a $35,000 overnight from post two August 19. Lachance plans to be more aggressive as a result. “I definitely want to protect the rail a little bit, no question,” Lachance said. “I’ll try and get away as close as I can without firing him up to where he’s out of control. If I fire him up, he’s going to want to go a thousand out of there and that’s not good for him. I’ll try to keep him as relaxed as I can and try to keep him as close as I can and we’ll take it from there. “If we end up in the two-hole, great. If not, I can come first-up with him and he likes that, he doesn’t mind that,” he continued. “Hopefully things work out for us, but there’s definitely a lot worse spots than the rail.” The Real One is the 3-1 morning line choice in Saturday’s Open Pace, but isn’t the only local standout moving inside. Bit Of A Legend drew post four and off a third place finish last week, is the 7-2 second choice on the line. Caviart Luca, last week’s runner up, will start from post seven while Dr. J Hanover, a wire to wire Open Handicap winner Oct. 28, drew post eight. Orillia Joe, Maxdaddy Blue Chip, Scott Rocks, and Blood Brother complete the field. “Bit Of A Legend is probably the horse to beat in there, there’s a few other ones. They’re in the open for a reason, they can all win with a trip, so hopefully it all works out,” Lachance said. “We’ve been assigned the seven and eight hole quite a bit, so we have the rail now, so we’ll take advantage of it.” First post time Saturday at Yonkers Raceway is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 11, 2017—Favored The Real One (Pat Lachance, $5.60) went by a stubborn leader before holding off the back markers Saturday night (Nov. 11th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $50,000 harness racing Open Handicap Pace. Sitting chilly from post position No. 4 as the temps hovered around freezing, The Real One watch pole-sitting Bakersfield (Greg Merton) stuff an antsy Orillia Joe (Brent Holland) in behind, then rebuff a second-move by Dr. J Hanover (Brian Sears). All this fun came during ‘flat’ early intervals of :27 and :56. Down the backside the second time, The Real One moved from fifth, circling wide around a retreating ‘Dr. J’ and setting after Bakersfield. He had that one in his sights at a 1:24.4 three-quarters, taking over soon after. The Real One owned a short lead into the lane, getting ‘first run’ against both Caviart Luca (George Brennan) and Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton). He whipped the former by a neck in 1:53, with the latter third, beaten a length-and-a-quarter. Thisjetsabookin’ (Jason Bartlett) and Orillia Joe settled for the minors. For The Real One, a ‘Veteran’ 7-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by his driver for owner Helene Filion, it was his sixth win in 23 seasonal starts (career earnings over $900,000). The exacta paid $39.40, with the triple returning $106. Reminder that ‘French’ Sunday matinees return tomorrow (Nov. 12th), with first post at 11:25 AM. Frank Drucker

Penpal is yet to come up with a statement win so far in her career, but the now 4-year-old pacing mare has done plenty to enhance her bank statements through two seasons of harness racing. A daughter of stallion American Ideal out of the stakes-winning mare Copywriter, Penpal has won four of 28 career races, but earned $288,639 lifetime for owners Patrick Lachance and M&M Harness Racing thanks to picking up checks in 25 of those starts. Penpal, who finished second in two qualifiers this month, is expected to make her seasonal debut later this week at the Meadowlands Racetrack. "She qualified good," said Lachance, who also trains and regularly drives Penpal. "We'll see it how it goes and take it week to week. If she's real good we'll try her in a few stakes and see what happens. She was very good last year and came back bigger and stronger. She seems like she matured quite a bit. I hope to see good things from her this year." Penpal won two of 17 races last year and earned $204,288. She finished second to two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country in the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers and second to Blue Moon Stride in the Mistletoe Shalee. Penpal, who possesses a strong finishing kick, was in contention in numerous stakes last season, but ran into a deep group of fillies that included multiple-stakes-winners Pure Country, Blue Moon Stride, Darlinonthebeach, Call Me Queen Be, and L A Delight and Newborn Sassy. "I was happy with her," Lachance said. "She held her own and made some decent money. "Speed is her best tool, but she's tough to manage. She gets really hot and she's not easy to drive. But she's very fast." Penpal is a full sister to Capital Account, a winner on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and runner-up to Always B Miki in a division of the 2014 Tattersalls Pace. Penpal was purchased for $65,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale and her family also includes past Lachance star Image Of Dawn. "I've been with that family and had luck with it," Lachance said. "Her page caught my eye and when I saw her, I liked her. We took a shot at her. She showed ability right off the bat." With only four wins to her credit, Penpal still fits in conditioned classes, which will enable Lachance to ease the mare into competition this year. Lachance bypassed the ongoing Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers because Penpal is less handy on a half-mile oval. "She's too big and she runs in pretty good," Lachance said. "Maybe in the future sometime, but I certainly didn't want to start her (year) on a half-mile track. "It's a transition year, and that's why I got her ready a little bit earlier. I wanted to give her some overnights and see what she's about. We didn't want to bring her right into that competition. She's only got four lifetime wins, so she fits non-winners of five. That leaves her some nice options." If all goes well this spring, Lachance will send Penpal to chase her first major stakes victory later in the year. Penpal is staked to events including the Graduate Series, Betsy Ross, Golden Girls, and Lady Liberty. "It would have been nice to get a big win last year, but it didn't happen," Lachance said. "I think that she will (go with the best mares this year). She's got some options to do some decent stuff." Ken Weingartner

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