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The award of the first of 10 mini-casino licenses has left Commissioner Dan Vogler hopeful for Lawrence County's chances at one of the remaining nine licenses. The first license was awarded on Wednesday to Mountainview Thoroughbred Association LLC, the Dauphin County-based parent company of Hollywood Casino. The winning offer for $50,100,000 outbid three other competitors. The new mini-casino will be located in Yoe Borough in southern York County. The community is near the Maryland border with access to Interstate 83 into Maryland. "That is very similar to our situation," said Vogler who made the drive to Harrisburg to witness the bid award. "Lawrence County is located on a state border with Ohio. We have access to many major highways from Interstate 376, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstates 80 and 79. We also have empty buildings that would be ideal locations to house a casino." All the county needs, he agreed, is an existing casino operator with deep pockets who can outbid others vying for the remaining nine Category 4 licenses. Vogler said he could not say if any potential casino operators have visited Lawrence County but agreed that several locations might be attractive for such a project. Potential sites could include the Cascade Galleria in downtown New Castle and the former Sears store in Union Township, which has good highway access, is near the Ohio border, has access to massive amounts of free parking and is located near hotels and restaurants. The winning bid and proposed location for the state's first mini casino were announced prior to Wednesday's Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting by executive director Kevin O'Toole who said the amount of the bid must be provided to state officials by 4 p.m. Friday or the license will go to the second place bidder. In all, four bids were received for the first casino license auction. O'Toole said the names of the unsuccessful bidders and their offers would be locked away "secured and confidential and will not influence upcoming auctions." The next auction is scheduled for Jan. 24. Vogler noted that under terms of the new licenses, the casino must be located within a 15-mile radius of Yoe, and may be no closer than 25 miles to an existing casino. Vogler also noted that with Gettysburg in Adams County and all of Lancaster County opting out of potential casino sites, "This locks up south central Pennsylvania along the Maryland border." Gov. Tom Wolf in October expanded the gaming law, creating opportunities for 10 mini-casinos also called satellite or Category 4 casinos. The state anticipates generating $100 million if all 10 licenses are sold. However, an estimated 1,017 municipalities within the commonwealth have opted out of gaming expansion. Vogler, however, noted that there is interest in Reading, Williamsport, State College, Altoona, Johnstown and Lawrence County which under the law is far enough from casinos in Allegheny and Erie counties not to be seen as competing. The county is also 30 miles from the Penn National Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown. "The advantage of a mini-casino here is they will have table games — which they do not have in Austintown — and that is a no-smoking facility. A Pennsylvania casino will have designated smoking areas," he said, noting that the Austintown facility is smoke free. Based on the first bid, Vogler said, he believes interested bidders will now retool their strategies for when they return in two weeks. He said he also believes future bids will be lower than the $50.1 million bid for the initial license. What he doesn't know if he'll attend the next bid award. "I'll have to talk it over with Steve (Craig) and Bob (Del Signore) to see if they feel it will go any good to maintain a presence," Vogler said. Over the years Vogler has regularly attended Harness Racing Commission and Gaming Control Board meetings while Lawrence County remained in the running for a Category 1 racetrack/casino complex planned for Mahoning Township. "In that time, I got to know a lot of the officials," he said. "In the year and a half since I've been here, five of the seven Gaming Board members have turned over. I only know two current board members." New Castle Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo believes Lawrence County — and New Castle in particular — would be an ideal location for a casino. "We're open for business and willing to talk to anyone who wants to come in," he said. Mastrangelo said he is not personally aware that anyone representing casino interests has visited the city. "I invite them to see me," he said. "A casino could do us well. It could help us to get out of Act 47." New Castle has been part of the Act 47 recovery plan for financially distressed cities since 2007. Under a change in the law, the city must get out of the program by 2019. Mastrangelo agreed that existing sites in Union and Shenango townships could be good locations for a casino, "But they are not in the city," he said, adding, "I can think of at least three locations right now that would be ideal," The Cascade Galleria, which is in the heart of town offers 70,000-square-feet of developable space, is surrounded by free parking, "and the owner is very interested." Mastrangelo also believes the nearby former Post Office building on Kennedy Square would be an ideal casino location. "This would benefit the downtown," he said. "These sites are available now Mastrangelo added that the New Castle Area Transit Authority "takes six buses every day down to Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino. "If we had a casino, they could stay at home."  By Nancy Lowry  Reprinted with permission of The New Castle News

VENANGO TOWNSHIP — Recognizing the 2017 Crawford County Fair had losses totaling more than $200,000, the county Fair Board reviewed plans for the 2018 edition at its annual meeting Wednesday at Venango Valley Inn and Golf Course in hopes of generating more interest and revenue. The annual treasurer's report showed the fair lost $219,519.73, of which $38,904.77 was from the grandstand acts. The operating expenses totaled $1,361,987.30 compared to revenues of $1,263,010.54. Expenses increased when adding capital expenses totaling $120,542.97. Of that, $50,000 was the final payment to commissioners for the grandstand. When not counting the capital expenses, the 2017 fair lost about $99,000. Of 10 acts in front of the grandstand, six showed a profit. They were: Saturday evening demolition derby, $31,426.08; Straight No Chaser concert, $30,49.01; Friday truck and tractor pull, $13,773.46; Old Dominion concert, $6,305.60; Saturday afternoon demolition derby, $4,32762; and Monday truck pull, $2,370.56. Losses were: King and Country concert, $85,492.83; Fair Queen pageant, $11,635.41; six hitch class, $26,372.73; and Saturday morning tractor pull, $5,104. An analysis of increased expenses show an increase of $84,951.74 in various categories. Increases of more than $10,000 over 2016 included: marketing and advertising expenses $36,636.70; official expense and audit, $18,145.97; labor in the office, $16,610.16; equipment rental, $12,138.83; harness racing purse, $17,759.37; and entertainment, $57,338.51. The Fair Board last year hired Julliette Enfield, educator and agriculture entrepreneurship with Penn State University, to draft a business plan for the fair's future. She is meeting with the board and others to gain research and information to come up with a plan. The next session is set for 9 a.m. Jan. 8 at the Crawford County Cooperative Extension Office, 1099 Morgan Village Road, Suite A. Enfield is based out of Warren and her duties have included marketing and business plans for fairs. The university has agreed to pay her expenses to attend the State Fair Convention as well. When the Fair Board voted to purchase land last year, commissioners had requested the Fair Board develop a business plan and that is why Enfield was hired. In relation to the new land purchase, the Fair Board approved adding another gate near Gate 2 (across from the land acquired) that will be only for walk-in or those on golf carts to use. It will be a movable gate to accommodate the public. The board also voted to have evening meetings — on a trial run — in February, March, April and May. Meetings are at 6 p.m. at the extension office at 1099 Morgan Village Road, Suite A. Board members noted the belief that younger people are needed and thought perhaps moving meetings to evening hours would help attract more interest. The lineup of grandstand entertainment for 2018 is: Saturday, Aug. 18, truck pull; Sunday, Aug. 19, fair queen pageant (free admission); Monday, rodeo; Tuesday, six hitch class and veterans programs (free admission); Wednesday, country music concert; Thursday, Christian music concert; Friday, truck pull; and Saturday, demolition derbies in afternoon and evening. Also free on Tuesday will be a logging contest from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission to grandstand acts (except for the concerts) will be $7 for the grandstand and $10 for race track seats. Tentative agreements have been reached with country and Christian music acts, board member George Deshner reported, but those names will not be released until April when all contracts are finalized. The board gave Deshner the authority to investigate the possibility of having the Rhinestone Roper Show if he is available and to investigate possible sponsorship for the cost of $1,900 a day for six days. Roper would perform two or three times daily if he is added to the fair. Board member Bill Good suggested this could be a new act to attract more people. Also approved was requiring campers to have a number 10 electrical cord. Discussion is being held to upgrade electric in the area, and board members said it is imperative that the cords be upgraded. Anyone not having the proper size will not be permitted to hook up. The board heard a request from Kenny Carr to reconsider its action to have zero free senior citizen days in 2018. He requested that at least a half day be free for seniors. Also, the board heard a request concerning the increased cost in 2018 for vendor passes, noting a letter to the editor from a member of Fallowfield United Methodist Church. It was noted that many volunteers cannot or will not help with the increased pass price. The cost of a 2018 concessionaire weekly pass will be $35 in 2018, up $20 from $15 in this year. Anne Hall has agreed to research the number of nonprofits at the fair and the impact the increase will have on the nonprofits as well as the anticipated loss to the fair revenues. She will take that information to the next meeting for the board to consider. The board re-elected its officers: William Winters, president; Ron Kerr, first vice president; Good, second vice president; Diana Perry, secretary-treasurer; and Shelby Proctor, executive secretary. Also approved was to recommend Winters and Perry to commissioners for another term on the Fair Board.  By Jane Smith Special to the Tribune Reprinted with permission of The Meadville Tribune

The curtain fell on the 150 day harness racing meet at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday, December 17, 2017. Gilbert Garcia-Herrera was the leading trainer at the meet. Herrera had 111 wins in 395 starts for a UDRS of .419, and purse earnings of $1,070,569. Ron Burke, who led the meet in purse earnings with $1,518,484, was second with 97 wins on the season. Driver George Napolitano Jr won his record 12th dashwinning title, once again winning the titles at both Harrah's Philly and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Napolitano had 316 wins of 1,376 starts for a UDRS of .367, and purse earnings of $3,243,110. Tim Tetrick, who had the most total purse earnings on the meet ($3,494,086) finished second with 274 wins. Harrah's Philadelphia would like to thank the horsemen and women for an exciting 2017, and wish everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season. Michael Bozich

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved fines totaling $79,500 for two harness racing track and slot machine casino operators. Robert Soper, the former President and CEO of Downs Racing, L.P. — which operates Mohegan Sun Pocono in Luzerne County — was personally fined $60,000 for his failure to properly disclose various business interests, the Board’s release states. The business interests include 10 companies, two of which deal directly with Mohegan Sun Pocono. Washington Trotting Association Inc., which operates The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County, was assessed two fines. The company was fined $12,000 for allowing an individual who is on the Board’s Self-Excluded Persons List to gamble and cash in chips at the casino’s cage, the release adds. It was also fined $7,500 for failure to notify the Board of construction modifications between two restricted areas at The Meadows. By Sean Naylor Reprinted with permission of Fox43

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 10, 2017 -- Tessa Seelster quarter-poled to the top and cruised home from there, capturing Tuesday's $20,000 harness racing filly & mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace in a sharp 1:51.3. Tessa Seelster was away second for Dave Palone but sat only briefly behind Spreester before powering to the top. The 5-year-old daughter of Shadow Play-Titania Seelster drew off late, downing Spreester by 3 lengths, while Southwind Roulette shot the Lightning Lane for show. Ron Burke trains Tessa Seelster, who soared over $500,000 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Jonathan Newman. Elsewhere on Tuesday's card, Flowers N Songs took the $15,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Trotting Handicap with an eye-popping charge through the Lightning Lane that carried her from seventh to first in 1:55.2. Dan Charlino piloted the 4-year-old daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe-Pleasure's Song, who now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $539,503, for trainer Rich Gillock and owner/breeder Bob Key. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 23, 2017 -- Dismissed at 14-1, Photobombr Hanover caught the game but weary leader, Q's Cruise, in deep stretch and pulled off the harness racing upset in Saturday's $86,900 Keystone Classic at The Meadows. Normandy Beach took the other division of the event for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Q's Cruise fronted the field through three-quarters in a demanding 1:22.3 after a 54.4 half, fractions that left him vulnerable to the second-over charge of Photobombr Hanover. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Pilgrims Witchie brushed wide through the lane for Jim Pantaleano to down Q's Cruise by a neck in 1:50.2, with the first-over Mac Attack third. "He looks on paper like a very strong horse, and he showed up today," Pantaleano said. "Having live cover was good. A half in 54.4 is a pretty good stinger, even for those good horses." Tom Fanning trains Photobombr Hanover, who extended his lifetime bankroll to $150,597, for Howard Taylor, Susan Kajfasz and Fanning Racing LLC. Normandy Beach enjoyed brief cover down the backside, but when his cover slipped back to the cones, he was left to pursue the leader, Summer Side, on his own. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Symphony In Motion was up to the task as he gobbled up Summer Side and held off the rallying Mac's Jackpot by a head in 1:51.1 for Matt Kakaley. Summer Side saved show. "I've always liked this colt," Kakaley said of Normandy Beach, who earned $160,369 at 2 but just more than half that amount this year. "I guess the 3-year-old season didn't really go as planned, but he still has a chance to make some money with the late races." Ron Burke conditions Normandy Beach for William Donovan. In the $15,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Pace, Knocking Around ground out a tough first-over victory in 1:51.1 for Pantaleano, trainer David McNeight, Jr. and owner Courtney McNeight. The 7-year-old Western Terror-So Completely gelding now boasts $364.783 in career earnings. Aaron Merriman piloted four winners and Tony Hall three on the 12-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

MONROE TWP. — Two partners have invested about $5 million reviving a harness racing training facility in Wyoming County for horses that race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Twp. and other tracks. Ron Walsh of Nuangola Borough and Ken Churchill, who has homes at Harveys Lake and in California, recently opened Silver Springs Ranch on 76 acres of land near Harveys Lake. The site was formerly called 5R Ranch and was previously used as a training facility for horses who raced at Pocono Downs. The Rosentel family originally owned the farm from the 1960s until 2013. A half-mile track surrounds a nine-acre pond at the revived ranch. It was built in the 1960s at the same time Pocono Downs was constructed as a harness racing rack on Route 315, decades before Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority opened a casino there in 2006. In recent years, the Wyoming County property sat idle until Walsh and Churchill transformed the site into a 64-stall training facility for horses. Dolittle Construction of Watsontown built the barn. Walsh said the track was idle and overgrown and it took “an immense amount of money to get everything back in shape.” The pond includes fountains and at night — one shoots water about 35 feet in the air. “More people have been coming out here from The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and it’s starting to spark interest because it’s close, it’s a brand new place and it’s really nice,” Walsh said. “Some of these horses are very expensive and they don’t want to put them in a barn where the roof is leaking or it is falling apart. They want a nice place.” Walsh, who formerly worked for the Rosentel family’s spring water business, said the property also includes a maintenance shed and a “wheelhouse” which is used for training horses when they can’t get out on the track. Eighteen security cameras were installed in the barn that horse owners could check from their phones. Walsh’s interest in horses came from his father “who was always into horses,” he said. He thought the project was worthwhile because the training facility is close to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. “When it was Pocono Downs before the casino came in, the purses weren’t real high,” Walsh said. “When the casino came in, the purses started getting real high and you started seeing out-of-town license plates coming in. There are other training facilities out there but we are the closest training facility to Mohegan Sun.” Horses also are trained at Mohegan Sun Pocono and White Haven. In addition to Mohegan Sun Pocono, horses at Silver Springs Ranch also race at other tracks such as Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack in Chester, Pennsylvania. Walsh said they have been talking about possibly building another barn on the site. “We are talking with a company now and they’re drawing up a plan,” he said. Rory Coolbaugh, who owns a horse named Sheer Desire, said he loves Silver Springs Ranch. “I loved it before,” Coolbaugh said. “I love the area in general but when they put this place up, it’s just absolutely beautiful. They did a great job.” Pat Dellavecchia races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Chester and in New York and enjoys training horses Sam McSmith, Clyde the Glide and Common Tariat at the revived ranch. The horses were formerly in stables at the Meadows Racetrack in Washington, Pennsylvania are now in stables at Silver Springs Ranch. “It’s beautiful,” Dellavecchia said. “The track is awesome.”   By Denise Allabaugh   Reprinted with permission of The Citizens Voice

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Western Ideal mare Healthy Gain, a winner at a $49.60 mutuel in "nw 5" company at The Meadows in her previous start, shipped northeast to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and won again in the same class Tuesday, victorious in the $16,000 featured pace for harness racing fillies and mares while taking a new lifetime mark of 1:51.4 - and returning only $6.60 as the favorite of the crowd. Leading driver George Napolitano Jr. made every pole a winning one with the invader and the pair had an easy time of it, winning by four lengths. Trainer Gary Johnston shares ownership of the in-form four-year-old with Tracy Chropek. The win with Healthy Gain was "George Nap"'s third win of the night - he later added a fourth by scoring in the $14,000 co-featured pace for distaffs, with Marlee B also passing every pole in front en route to a 1:51.1 victory. The winning Mach Three mare had a harder time in getting to Victory Lane, however, as she was used to get command from the outside post eight, held off the first-up bid of favored Graceful Vision, then needed to dig in to fend off potential pocket rocket UF's Dragon Queen by a nose, with Graceful Vision only another half-length off at the wire. Hunter Oakes trains the winner of $431,870 lifetime for Synerco Ventures Inc. Update; George Nap wins five on the night. PHHA / Pocono

GRATZ PA - Even though the sophomore trotters and pacers produced five miles in 2:00 or less at the Gratz Fairgrounds Monday in this eastcentral Pennsylvania town - on a circuit that had seem only 18 magic miles in its previous stops this year - the most sensational racing was generated on Sunday by the harness racing freshmen, with two babies not only breaking their respective Gratz track marks, but also posting the fastest time for age/sex/gait in the history on the Pennsylvania fair circuit. In 2017, when one reads the words "Pennsylvania fair," "fast mile," and "two-year-old," the words "Venier Hanover" usually aren't far behind, and indeed the gelded son of Well Said-Valmctorian added more luster to his shining record by winning in 1:56.4 for trainer/driver Dave Brickell, also co-owner with Mitchell York. Besides lowering the Gratz 2PC from the 1:58.1 put up by Ya Gotta Go in 2010, it was also the fastest mile by a two-year-old ever at a PA fair, a fifth better than the quality miles coming from a quintet of horses: Dixie Pride and Shu Hanover (both 2003 at Bloomsburg), Evening Shadows (2010 at Port Royal), Gordo (2014) and Artists Ruffles (2016, the latter two at Bedford). The fast clocking was also his seventh track record at the fairs this season, and his sixth 2:00 mile, both at the top of all lists. The other multi-record eclipser was the Explosive Matter-Nan's Conway filly, who went fractions of 29.2, 59.3, and 1:30.2 on the engine before stopping the timer in 2:00.3, lowering the Gratz mark of 2:01.4 (first set in 2013 by Glide By Shooting and then equaled last year by All Set Lets Go, whose name you'll read later), and also wiping out the all-time Keystone twicearound mark for 2TFs of 2:01.1, set by Shesfastandfurious back in 2006. Wayne Long guided the winner to the record time for trainer Bob Rougeaux III and the Brocious Racing Stable Inc. The fastest winners of the other two divisions also set 2017 PA fair "season's records": the freshman trotting gelding by Andover Hall-Girls' Getaway, Grapple Hanover, who won in 2:03.1 for trainer/driver Wayne Long, and the Well Said-Goddess's Princess pacing filly Geisha Seelster, closing in 29.1 to win in 2:00.2 for trainer/driver Roger Hammer. All four freshmen thus set PA Fairs' seasonal's records - and ironically, the previous standard broken by all four were their own. Turning to the sophomores, the fans wanted to see if two fillies could extend long winning streaks. First up was the Donato Hanover trotting filly All Set Lets Go, as mentioned previously the local standardholder for 2TFs, and while she didn't need to set a record to win her heat, her 2:02.1 triumph for driver Roger Hammer, trainer John McMullen Jr., and his family's McMullen Stable LLC was her eleventh straight at the fairs, the longest current streak. Her pacing counterpart, Bella Ragaza, had taken nine races in succession before her Monday race, but after setting the pace she was caught in the lane, settling for second. But it was no fluke that beat her - it was the Dragon Again filly Camera Lady, last year's winningest two-year-old in North America, and currently a winner of six of her last seven fair outings after winning in 1:59.4 for "Team Venier" - trainer/driver Dave Brickell, co-owner with Mitchell York. This dup completed a sweep in the 3PF ranks with the Moon Beam filly Cajun Moonlite, who went a tick faster than her stablemate. On the colt side of things, the fastest trotter and pacer pushed the fair record of the Burke Brigade to 9-for-9 in 2017. The Yankee Glide gelding New Heaven became the first sub-2:00 performer on his gait on the local cotton candy circuit, making up five lengths in the stretch while winning in 1:59.3; among the pacers Midway Island was a bullyboy front-end winner, stepping home in 57.4-28.2 to win in 1:56.3. Chris Shaw drove both winners for Burke, and the fast three-year-olds are both owned by the combine of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Knox Services Inc., and David Wills. For the meet, Eric Neal and Roger Hammer both crossed the wire first, helping Hammer reduce Chris Shaw's seasonal advantage to 59-56. Hammer, Dave Brickell, and Todd Schadel each sent out three winners from their barn to top that column; Hammer has 51 winning trainees for the season and will not be caught. The horses on the PA fair circuit earn their way into their rich Championship races by accumulating points throughout the season based on finish, on a 35-25-15-10-8-5-4-2-1 basis, with 9 for a rainout. At the top of these tables, All Set Lets Go and Bella Ragaza are exactly even after 19 of the 20 stops, each with 418 points (ASLG 12-11-0-1 with two rainouts, BR 12-10-2-0 with two rainouts). But some of the most heated competition when the circuit ends its year at Bloomsburg this Friday (3 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.) will be among the horses who are very close in points to a bunch of rivals who could make the final with a superior performance at "Blom" - and there are several of this kind of horse in nearly every one of the eight divisions. Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

YORK PA - For the second straight week, Mother Nature was not kind to the three-year-olds racing on the Pennsylvania fair circuit. On Labor Day, the entire harness racing program of sophomore action at Stoneboro was washed out; on Wednesday in this southcentral Pennsylvania city 261 miles to the south-southeast, only the colt pacers got to race. But the two winners did a terrific job. Just as the skies were opening around race one, the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Midway Island rocketed out of the gate for the circuit's leading driver, Chris Shaw, and never looked back, hitting the wire in 1:56.3, giving the Ron Burke-trained recent arrival on the twicearound circuit his third divisional track record in as many fair starts, here knocking a tick off the 2009 mark set by Lahaye. Midway Island is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Knox Services Inc., and David Wills - and brought Burke's conditioning record at the 2017 Keystone fairs to 7-7-0-0-1.000. Conditions were deteriorating rapidly when the second division went gateward, as the frequently-winning Yankee Cruiser gelding Ginger Tree Marty did not get away cleanly and was 12½ lengths behind at the ¼. But trainer/driver Sam Beegle methodically got his horse into improved positioning, and "Marty" then paced home in 29 to win comfortably in 2:03.3. Ginger Tree Marty, the fastest horse at the PA fairs this year with a 1:55.2 mile at Gratz, has now won six straight races and eight of nine on the fair circuit. He is owned by Ginger Tree Stable LLC and Bob Reber. Ginger Tree Marty has five 2:00 miles at the state twicearounds this year, a figure which now puts him tied for the lead in that category with the wondercolt two-year-old Venier Hanover, who won the first race of the abbreviated meet in 1:58.2 on Tuesday. That clocking was also his sixth track record performance at the fairs, reducing Half Moon Bay's York standard by a fifth. The Well Said-Valmctorian gelding has taken eight straight fair contests, has an overall fair mark of 10-9-1-0, and has 11 wins in all competition in his baby year, second in North America. Trainer/driver Dave Brickell co-owns Venier, who nine days earlier had paced in 1:51.2 while fifth, beaten less than three lengths in his $252,000 PA Sire Stakes pari-mutuel championship, with Mitchell York (no known relation to the host city). Also notable during Tuesday's baby action was Todd Schadel sulkysweeping the A colt trot events. First up was the Muscle Massive gelding Bela's Bad Boy, who held off a big charge by PA Stallion Series champion Hockey Hanover to win in 2:06.4 for trainer Schadel, co-owner with Christine Schadel; Todd then took a successful catch-drive with trainer Bill Zendt's Explosive Matter-Love To Flaunt gelding Exuberance, who broke his maiden in fine style with a 2:04.4 victory for the Bay Pond Racing Stable. (Another first-time winner deserves a salute here; driver Justin Wiest, who won a "B" colt pace event with Starvin Marvin.) The rainout on Wednesday did cost two three-year-old fillies the chance to extend long winning streaks: trotter All Set Lets Go would have been racing for her 11th straight triumph at the fairs, while pacer Bella Ragaza was seeking 10 consecutive wins. Both may well be back in the box when the fair circuit heads back to Gratz for its next-to-last stop of the 2017 season, with racing this Sunday and Monday at 1 p.m. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA -- Pacer Big Top Hanover and trotter New Jersey Viking both took lifetime marks over a "good" track while recording their initial harness racing victories in 2017 in the $18,000 features at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Sunday night.   Big Top Hanover, who earned over $700,000 at two and three against the top stakes colts, showed sharp form in only his third start at four, using the famed Pocono Pike to take a new mark of 1:51 over the good track. The Western Ideal gelding, driven by Anthony Napolitano for trainer Daniel Renaud, defeated the first-over Independent One by a neck, with the speedy pacesetter Beach Boogie another half-length back behind the winner, who is owned by Brian & Ira Wallach Racing, Leonard Sorge, and Maria Reid.   Trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt made a big backstretch move with the Muscle Hill sophomore colt New Jersey Viking, opened up an insurmountable advantage on the far turn, and went under the wire two lengths to the good while reducing his personal best to 1:54.3. The youngster was a multi-stakes winner at two, and now offers the prospect of better things ahead for the ownership of Knutsson Trotting Inc. and Little E LLC.   Monday marks the switchover of that day's post time to 4:30 for the rest of the year, and the change starts with a bang -- Pocono will be hosting the $1.2M+ Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for two-year-olds. The state freshman fillies have been the stars so far, as undefeated Manchego heads the distaff trot, and superbly-bred pacers Come See The Show and Rainbow Room show down again in their Championship event. PHHA / Pocono  

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Harness racing, part of the Crawford County Fair since the fair’s first year in 1946, returned to the track Wednesday as hundreds gathered in the grandstand to study their racing form, pick their favorites and perhaps make a friendly wager with a friend or grandchild. One of numerous free events at the fair, the races attracted all kinds — a troop of youngsters on a camp visit to the fair, serious handicappers poring over their programs and everything in between. In the cheap seats “I usually have quarter bets with all the grandkids,” said Chuck Groger of Harmonsburg after the first race. Halfway up the grandstand, Groger sat eyeing his program with Emily Groger of Guys Mills, one of his nine grandchildren. “When all the grandkids are here, I get the last pick — whatever’s left.” But two quarters had been exchanged yet, Groger explained, since it was just the two of them. Emily’s two brothers — the three of them are triplets — had returned to the pig barn where two older sisters were preparing to show their pigs. Chuck and Emily, in the meantime, were continuing a family tradition at the harness races, like many in the crowd. “I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, coming with my dad and uncles,” Chuck said. “I’ve probably been doing it 55 years.” Chuck had Emily beat, of course, but Wednesday was already the 4-year-old’s fourth year at the races, Chuck said. Emily, for her part, remained shy and mostly silent beside her “Papa,” looking skeptically over her sunglasses as she declined to share any of the considerations the two took into account as they picked their winners. The sport, which features Standardbred horses pulling their drivers behind them in sulkies, two-wheeled carts, can get in your blood, many of those in the crowd attested. The view from above Directly above the Grogers, a blood test might have found harness racing in Roger Huston’s blood after about 35 years of calling the action on the track at the Crawford County Fair. Huston was stationed in the chain-link skybox suspended from the roof of the grandstand along with other race officials. Between the third race and the fourth race, the mood in the caged perch high above the track resembled the same relaxed atmosphere as was evident around the Grogers 30 feet below. Squeezed around a long table, officials checked the times from the previous race and questioned who needed to send what where. Despite the calm, it had already been a big day. “We had a track record,” Huston said. “Todd Schadel on Bela’s Bad Boy ran 2:06 in the 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. He broke a mark that was established in 2014.” With 27 races this year, more than in the recent past, according to Huston, more records could fall. On the track below, a few drivers jogged their horses around the track in preparation for later races. Huston's voice seemed to shift from black-and-white to color as he picked up the microphone to call the next round of racers to the track. Moments later the same Oz-like transformation seemed to ripple through the entire booth as Huston turned toward the track. The next race was ready and the pace car circled the track with the horses trotting behind. Stepping toward the edge of the booth, Huston put the microphone to his lips. “Heeeeeere they come!” he told the crowd. Turning back to the others in the booth, he lowered the mic and told them, “We will pause for this important message.” And then they were off, the half-dozen horses on the track pulling their drivers behind them in the two-wheeled carts. Presiding Judge Doug Thomas, who officiates races at many of the fairs throughout the commonwealth, explained some of the fundamentals for the unfamiliar observer as Huston remained locked in concentration during the race. Besides the drivers being pulled behind, the other most significant difference between harness racing and the more familiar Thoroughbred horse racing, is the gait. Where Thoroughbreds gallop around the track, Standardbreds maintain a steady trot around the track and must move to the outside and reestablish their trot if they break stride, Thomas said. As though on cue, below him on the track a horse led coming around the final turn in the two-lap race. With nothing on the horizon between the horse and the finish line, it suddenly drifted to the outside. “He was home free and he broke stride,” Thomas said. Like human athletes, it seemed, equine athletes can sometimes be plagued by mental errors. Immediately, the second-place horse surged past for the finish line. The shocking change of fortune had not escaped Huston, of course, whose intensity approached a boil: “Going to the three-quarter mark — three-quarters in 1:35. Into the final turn What a Hunk with the lead, Willie B. Worthy is second, third American Brexit. ... Off stride! Willie B Worthy — into the stretch they come and Willie B Worthy now has the lead. Down the the stretch by three lengths, pulling away from What a Hunk. It’s Willie B Worthy, opening up now with every stride — Willie B Worthyyyy!” After the race Like any athletes, Willie B Worthy and the other racing horses followed a particular post-race routine. After a couple of cool-down laps, drivers led their horses back to the barn, where they received baths before returning to fresh hay in their stalls. “They know when it’s race day,” said driver Wayne Long, who had traveled from Delaware to race at the fair. Placing a blanket over a horse who was waiting to be called to the track, Long had already won two of the four races he had participated in by mid-afternoon. “It’s exciting — like any kind of sporting event.” The secret to winning, he said, is all in the horse. “It doesn’t matter who’s driving or what you do,” he said. “The main thing is the horse.” Still in his racing silks, Ernie Masci offered a similar assessment as he stood nearby outside the barn. “They get nervous, some of them,” he said of the horses, “and they’re very competitive — well, not all of them. They’re like people.” But on the track, he said, the excitement tends to take over. “When you’re out there,” Masci said, looking toward the track, “it’s a thrill.” Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at You can go Harness racing continues with 13 races today beginning at 11 a.m. at the race track. Admission to the grandstand to view the races is free. By Mike Crowley Meadville Tribune Reprinted with permission of The Meadville Tribune

WILKES-BARRE PA - On Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 11-1 shot Concerto overcame pacesetting favorite Brazuca, the only filly to have won in both of the previous Pennsylvania Stallion Series for three-year-old pacing distaffs, surmounting a first-over trip to tally in 1:53.1 - but the night's harness racing action still left Brazuca as the only StS double divisional winner, as five first-time winners accounted for all the stakes victories. Tim Tetrick pulled Concerto from fourth at the 5/8 to journey up uncovered at Brazuca (Corey Callahan), and these two (and their similarly-clad drivers) slugged it out from midturn to the wire, leaving the others far behind. And tonight the battle of daughters of Bettor's Delight saw Concerto hit the high note, coming home in 55.2 - 27.2 to subdue her game rival in the last 50 feet, winning by a neck despite reporting back with broken equipment. Kelvin Harrison trains the determined winner for Ronald Mario. Pocono's leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., drove three of the first-time Stallion success stories, with the trio winning by a combined 10½ lengths and all in charge of their races from before the half. The fastest of the GNap trio was the Somebeachsomewhere filly Hold It Hanover, who came under the care of trainer Michael Hall at the beginning of July and now has won five straight, this one in 1:51 in taking a new lifetime mark for ubiquitous owner Howard Taylor. Napolitano's other winning duo were the Western Terror filly Freakonomics, who equaled her mark of 1:51.2 for trainer Ross Croghan and the ownership of Let It Ride Stables and Dana Parham, and another daughter of Bettor's Delight, Bridge To Tomorrow, who won in 1:53.2 for trainer Nifty Norman and Bay Pond Racing Stable. George Napolitano Jr. ended the night with eight driving victories. Norman also had the other Stallion Series "firster," Perplexed, who gave Somebeachsomewhere a siring double as well as she was driven by David Miller to a 1:52.3 triumph for Cool Cat Racing Inc. Brazuca is the only horse who has earned enough points that she can't be toppled from a berth behind the gate in the Stallion Series Championship, but with nine horses with 10 points of the ninth and final starting spot in the final, the last prelim for this division, set for August 26 at The Meadows, should provide some exciting, competitive racing. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA – Two-year-old trotting fillies were featured in seven $20,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series’ second preliminary Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and although the “off” harness racing track was below peak speed throughout the evening (“+1” in “good” conditions later changing to “sloppy”), all the winners took lifetime marks.   The Donato Hanover filly Zoe Bi was the only filly to register a second straight score in the Stallion Series, and she succeeded swiftly, with her 1:57.4 clocking the fastest of the night for trainer Christopher Beaver, also co-owner with Marion Beachy and Synerco Ventures. Pocono’s leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., moved the baby miss to the top past the quarter, then brought her home in 58.1 to be almost five lengths clear of her opposition at the finish.   Driver Andy Miller picked up two winning catch-drives in the Stallion Series action. One came with the second-fastest winner, the Explosive Matter distaff Bombshell Belle, who won by 6½ lengths in 1:58.1. On the lead at the stretch call in her first Stallion Series start at The Meadows only to make a break, the Robert Baggitt Jr.-trained filly was overlooked here and paid $31.40 to win as she tallied for Christine Baggitt and noted amateur horseman Mitchell Walker.   Miller’s other win came with the Cantab Hall filly Keystone Carly in 1:59.4, after a phrase often heard among baby trotter races: “a war of attrition.” Three in the field of seven broke early; a fourth broke during the second quarter; and then La La Winnie, who had put up amazing fractions of 27.1 and 57.4, made a break at the half – with Keystone Carly officially 17 lengths back at the half. But she and favored Reiza were the only two who had remained flat, and the latter had been close-up in the pocket when the leader miscued, inheriting a lead that was 7½ lengths at the 1:28.2 3/4s. But the early fractions took their toll and Keystone Carly, with the patient Miller, was the fresh filly late, charging by to score by 1½ lengths for trainer Todd Schadel, who shares ownership with his wife Christine and Rick & Regina Beinhauer.   Cantab Hall picked up another siring credit when trainer Jimmy Takter also took sulky duty behind Basquait, who stepped home in 29.1 to complete a 2:00 tally. Basquait, named after perhaps the greatest graffiti artist who later went on to work with Andy Warhol, was picture-perfect in winning for Order By Stable.   Also with two winning offspring was sire Muscle Massive, the faster of which was Women’s Lib, who went wire-to-wire in 1:58.4, last half 58.1, for trainer Donna Marshall. Sharing ownership of the winning distaff with the renown Arden Homestead Stable is her driver, whom famed announcer Jack E. Lee would undoubtedly call “Diamond-uh-Jim-MARSHall-1-2-3-4” – Jim Marshall IV, son of the longtime noted horseman Jim III and only in his second year of driving in the professional ranks.   Enchanting was the other successful daughter of Muscle Massive, holding off the Team Orange Crush filly Cloud Dancer by a neck in 2:00.4. Enchanting, who led at every call, is owned and trained by D.R. Ackerman.   Also successful on the wet night was the Andover Hall filly Fish Is Fish, who used a pocket journey as a springboard to a nose victory over first leg winner Explosive G, who had taken the lead in the stretch, in 1:59.2. Driver Dan Rawlings shipped northeastward with trainer Dirk Simpson, and their filly made the long ride worthwhile for them and owner Ed Teefey.   Five divisions of Sire Stakes two-year-old trotting fillies are carded for tomorrow night (Tuesday), the last night of the week in Pocono Saturday through Tuesday basic schedule.   PHHA / Pocono

WASHINGTON, PA, July 16, 2017 -- On Monday, July 17, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will offer a $25,000 total-pool guarantee for its Pick 5 wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. The Meadows added the "instant" guarantee after Saturday's Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a two-day carryover of $8,484.76. In addition, Monday's card includes a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4, a regular feature of each program at The Meadows. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) and Pick 5 (races 9-13) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Monday's program is 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino  

DAYTON PA - The 2017 Pennsylvania fair schedule of harness racing gets underway this weekend at the Dayton Fairgrounds in Armstrong County, just northeast of Pittsburgh. Two-year-olds will take to the track at high noon on Saturday, while on Sunday at the same time a full slate of three-year-olds will be racing.   This year the Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes will feature an improved yet simplified purse structure, thanks to the work of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen Association (PHHA) and the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania (SBAPA), with Sam Beegle and Jim Simpson heading the respective associations' efforts.   The Fair Sire Stakes will be divided into "A" and "B" divisions. For the "A" cuts, the purse will be $7500 plus the $75 starting fees if there is one division, $5000+ each if two divisions, and $3750+ each if three or more divisions. The "B" Sire Stakes were formed to place emphasis on the homegrown state agricultural project: while the former Quaker State Series allowed eligibility for "PA-sired OR wholly PA-owned" horses, being a Sire Stakes of course now necessitates the animal being sired by a state stallion. There will be a purse of $2500 plus starting fees for however many "B" divisions are needed.   At this stage of the season, of course, the two-year-olds are getting the final touches on their racing education, and indeed only one of the babies in Saturday's 12 races has so much as made a pari-mutuel start. But what a start that was: Venier Hanover won a maiden contest at The Meadows in 1:54, following up on a 1:55.2 first charted line qualifier. The gelding certainly has this kind of ability in his pedigree: his third dam is Oxford Mary Ann, the dam of Cambest, whose 1:46.1 time trial in 1993 was eclipsed only last year by a tick by Always B Miki at Lexington.   Among the three-year-olds, trotter Gee Wizz George and pacer Marvalous Artist, who set the Dayton colt divisional standards at two last season, will both be in action Sunday, whose card will also feature a dozen races. Also among the entrants are Camera Lady (a Dave Brickell stablemate of Venier Hanover), the winningest two-year-old in all of North America last year with 15 trips to Victory Lane for the pacing filly, and Gemalous, who conquered the "Lady" in their Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship.   Roger Hammer and Team Shaw (driver Chris and trainer/brother Jason), who have been the big guns along the Keystone fair circuit the last couple of years, both will send out a healthy contingent of hopefuls, looking to maintain their lofty perches atop the horsemen's win columns.   Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association        

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