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Batavia, NY --- When 64 of the best New York-bred harness racing trotters and pacers enter the paddock at Batavia Downs for the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions on Saturday (Sept. 14), there will be three horsemen that will have a homecoming of sorts as their careers all got started in Batavia at the oldest lighted harness track in America. Ray Schnittker from Tonawanda, New York, Steve Pratt from Corfu, New York and Chris Oakes from Akron, New York all mastered the trade they have excelled in so well over the years at Batavia Downs. Schnittker got his start in 1977 racing horses owned by his father. By the late 1980's he moved his colors to New York City and found success driving on that major circuit. His rise to prominence in the sport eventually led to his greatest career success of a Hambletonian victory with his Hall of Fame trotter, Deweycheatumnhowe (Muscles Yankee-Trolley Square) 1:50.4 ($3,155,178). With his base of operations in Goshen, New York now for many years now, Schnittker has been a regular on the NYSS circuit racing many great 2- and 3-year-olds over that time. Schnittker's lifetime stats as a driver show 2,795 wins and $42,809,617 earned and as a trainer 1,266 wins with $39,755,029 in purses. This year Schnittker has three starters in the finals. 3-year-old pacing colt Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl's A Star) 1:48.4 ($414,427) and 2-year-old pacing colts Splash Brother (So Surreal-Sugarcoated) 1:54.2 ($48,961) and Cigars And Port (So Surreal-Sweet On Art) 1:55.3 ($79,851). Hickfromfrenchlick has developed into one of the best sophomore pacing colts around. He currently has the sixth fastest win time of the year (1:48.4) for a 3-year-old and is the ninth richest ($275,866) second-year pacing male in North America. He has four NYSS wins this year, but he also won the $238,200 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga in a lifetime best effort. He comes into the finals on a four-race winning streak and looks extremely tough to beat on Saturday. Pratt started in the business in 1970 and had much success racing overnights, and mostly trotters, at Batavia Downs. Although he competed his own stable part-time, he eventually got into racing young horses at the fairs and made the move to the NYSS in the 1990's. Over the last eight years he has been a constant in this series with a string of highly competitive trotters that all had "Barn" in their names that also went on to be accomplished overnight performers as aged horses. A very high percentage trainer, Pratt's career numbers show 236 wins out of only 823 starts and $2,785,646 in earnings; the bulk of which came in the last eight years competing in the NYSS. 2-year-old trotting colt Barn Holden (Conway Hall-Barn Babe) 1:55.3 ($126,168) is Pratt's starter in the finals this year and he's as solid a performer as any he's had to date. Barn Holden is the points (224) and earnings ($126,168) leader in his division and comes into the final with three wins, two seconds and two thirds out of eight starts. His only lifetime start at Batavia was on August 7 when went wire to wire by 8-3/4 lengths in 1:57.1 to set a new track record for 2-year-old trotting colts. It's a short ship from Corfu (where Pratt still lives) to Batavia and Barn Holden will return to the scene of that record Saturday to try and repeat his performance. Oakes got his trainer's license in 1984 and campaigned horses for his father in western New York for several years. He made the move to Pennsylvania and (then) Pocono Downs in 1992 and it was there his career took off. A very winning and high percentage trainer, Oakes has won multiple training titles at his home track the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and his horses have won a plethora of major stakes across North America. In his career Oakes has sent 1,875 winners to post and has earned $28,853,311 in purses. Oakes has two starters in the NYSS finals this year and both are in the same division. They are 3-year-old pacing colts Shake That House (American Ideal-Shake That Junk) 1:47.4 ($452,804) and Buddy Hill (Roll With Joe-Lessofit Hanover) 1:52 ($141,313). Shake That House won two out of three NYSS starts this year but went on a real tear in between. He won his elimination and then the final of the Max C. Hempt Memorial at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in back to back miles of 1:49 and 1:49.2. Then two weeks after that he scored his lifetime mark of 1:47.4 in his second NYSS win taken at Vernon Downs. That time annihilated the track record for 3-year-old pacing colts and was just one-fifth of a second off the all-time pacing track record there. After a two-week rest, Shake That House had a qualifying tightener that he won in 1:53.1 in preparation for this start and comes in fresh for the race. The $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions that are comprised of eight $225,000 races will be held at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 14) with a first race post time of 6 p.m. Peter Kleinhans will be the tracks guest host and handicapper for the in-house and simulcast broadcast and Heather Wilder will be in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle interviewing the winners and all their connections after each stake race. There will be two $7,500 guaranteed pools in both the early and late Pick-4 wagers that night and both will be all-stake Pick-4's (races 3-6 and races 7-10). The pools are part of the United States Trotting Association's (USTA) Strategic Wagering Program and free program pages will be available on the USTA's website and through links on the Batavia Downs Facebook page when they become available. Free full card programs are now available for download from the Daily Racing Form Harness. There will be a T-shirt giveaway courtesy of the NYSS on Saturday night as well. Fans attending the races live only need to swipe their Player's Club card at guest services starting at 4:30 p.m. to receive a ticket to get their shirt after the seventh race. by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY --- Hickfromfrenchlick came to play on Sunday (Aug. 4) in his $58,700 division of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings at Batavia Downs and he went gate to wire in impressive fashion and equaled the track record time. Leaving from post one driver Matt Kakaley was rolling immediately with Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl's A Star) and had prohibitive post time favorite Shake That House (Tyler Buter) alongside, also trying to make the front. These two tangled to the quarter in :26.2 when Buter relented and ducked into the pocket heading into the second turn. With no pressure moving to the half Kakaley backed it down to :28.3, but as soon as the second circuit ensued, Shake That House pulled and came right back at the leader one more time. Hickfromfrenchlick and Shake That House squared off and were pacing in tandem from the five-eighths to the three-quarters and got there in a lightning 1:22.4. Around the final bend Hickfromfrenchlick got a 1/2 length advantage that he took into the stretch. Kakaley was throwing lines and his horse was responded with more. Hickfromfrenchlick put away Shake That House and held of a quick closing Buddy Hill (Marcus Miller) to win by a neck in 1:51.2. The winning time of 1:51.2 was a new lifetime mark for Hickfromfrenchlick and also tied the Batavia Downs track record for 3-year-old pacing colts set by All Bets Off back in 2014. Oddly enough Kakaley also drove All Bets Off in that record performance. "Well we had the rail and he's good on the front so that's where I wanted him, especially with no passing lane here. We controlled the pace and he responded well to the challenge," said Kakaley. "He was getting a little tired in the lane but he saw the one (Buddy Hill) coming at him and had enough left to hold him off at the wire." When told he tied the track record of All Bets Off Kakaley said "As I recall we were on the front that day too and he had quite a bit left at the wire." All Bets Off ran away with that race by eight lengths. Hickfromfrenchlick ($6.50) scored his fourth win in seven starts this year and now has $114,925 on the card in 2019. Ray Schnittker trains and co-owns Hickfromfrenchlick with Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico. Steve Jones was the breeder of Hickfromfrenchlick. In the second $58,700 division American Mercury was peerless in victory after controlling all fractions from the start. Tyler Buter floated American Mercury (American Ideal-Tessa Hanover) off the gate after Artie's Ideal (Marcus Miller) bolted to the front. He then rolled up the outside and took over the lead in a comfortable :28.1. The field stayed in single-file and American Mercury hit the half in only :57 and things were looking very much in his favor at that point. Magic Joe Lindy (Drew Monti) pulled first up at the five-eighths and advanced towards the leader. He got to within one length of American Mercury at the three-quarters and stayed there around the last turn. When they hit the stretch Buter was line driving American Mercury and he was pacing strongly all the way to the wire to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:52.2. It was the third straight win for American Mercury ($2.10) and sixth of the season. The gelding has now earned $211,843 this year for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Northfork Racing Stable, Chuck Pompey and Scott Bice. Steve Stewart, Julie Nash and Charles Nash bred American Mercury. There were also $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior "A" series that were won by: Rickybobbyandthehaus (American Ideal-Molly Can Do It) Driver - Tyler Buter Owner - Crawford Farms, Northfork Racing Stable, Billy Timmins and Anthony Timmins Trainer - Chris Oakes   Breeder - Blue Chip Bloodstock Time - 1:53.4  Mutuel - $4.40 Chatelroll (Roll With Joe-Chatelaine) Driver - Jason Bartlett  Owner - Purple Haze Stable Trainer - George Ducharme  Breeder - Twinbrook Limited Time - 1:53.2  Mutuel - $3.00 Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Aug. 5) with post time at 5 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY --- As three $34,866 divisions of 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings went postward in the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) at Batavia Downs on Sunday (July 28) with Groovy Joe putting in the fastest performance of the day allowing him to remain undefeated. Sandy's Bolt (Jim Morrill Jr.) started from post one and led the majority of the race with Groovy Joe (Matt Kakaley) sitting in the garden spot. Morrill set quarters of :28.1, :58.1 and 1:26.3 and took his lead into the stretch. But Groovy Joe (Roll With Joe-Chotat Milk) popped the pocket and went right by Sandy's Bolt and then held off a late charging American Rebel (Tyler Buter) at the wire to win by a neck in 1:55, which was a new lifetime mark. It was the fifth straight win for Groovy Joe ($3.10), all in NYSS action, and it took him to $96,795 for the year. Hutt Racing and Blake McIntosh own the colt with MacIntosh also doing the training. Winbak Farm bred Groovy Joe. The other two divisions ended up being the Ray Schnittker Show as they were both won by his trainees in career best outings. First, Cigars And Port (So Surreal-Sweet On Art) grabbed the lead before the half and put in a strong effort from there. After getting to three-quarters in front by 1-½, Cigars And Port turned for home and opened up even more, eventually winning by three in 1:55.3, which was a new lifetime mark. Schnittker drove Cigars And Port ($7.50) and owns in conjunction with Nolamaura Racing, Ted Gewertz and Steve Arnold. Steve Jones bred the Cigars And Port. In the last division Teton Sunset (American Ideal-Gray Ghost) sat a perfect trip behind Oreo Dream Xtreme (Jason Bartlett) who cut the mile and Level Up (Jim Morrill Jr.) who pushed the pace from outside from the half before finding racing room in the stretch to pull away from both of them and win by a 3-½ length margin in 1:57.1, The time was also a new lifetime mark. Teton Sunset ($7.40) was driven by Tyler Buter for trainer/owner Schnittker and his partners David Pepin and Flintlock Farms. The ownership trio bred the winner. There were also three divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior "A" series on the card that were won by: Sunsetboozecruise (Roll With Joe-Rideintothesunset) Driver-Jim Morrill Jr. Owner-Matthew Dugan Trainer-Erv Miller  Breeder-Kentuckiana Farms Time-1:57.4 Mutuel-$2,10 I Rolled The Dice (Roll With Joe-Keystone Ivy) Driver-Jim Morrill Jr. Owner-Howard Taylor Trainer-Erv Miller Breeder-Howard Taylor Time-1:57.1 Mutuel-$8.90 Breakout Session (Heston Blue Chip-Troubled Escape) Driver-Scott Zeron Owner-Bay Pond Racing Stable Trainer-Linda Toscano Breeder-Winbak Farms Time-1:58.1 Mutuel-$14.20 Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (July 29) with post time at 5 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Goshen, NY - Trainer Ray Schnittker sent out three harness racing winners, including track-record-setting Captain Malicious, and Jan Johnson notched his first winning drive since 2016 as Historic Track hosted six Landmark Stakes on Friday afternoon (July 5) as part of its annual Hall of Fame weekend Grand Circuit meet. Captain Malicious and driver Mark MacDonald won the $15,700 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers by three-quarters of a length over Branquinho in 1:54.1 to eclipse the previous track standard of 1:54.3 for a 3-year-old colt set by Soto in 2015. A son of Captaintreacherous-Silky, Captain Malicious has won two of 10 races this year and earned $32,360 for owners Schnittker, Dr. John Egloff, John Frisch, and Max Hempt. "That horse has had no luck," MacDonald said. "He paced (1):49.1 in his Hempt elimination and just missed making the final. In the (Hempt) consolation, I got stuck behind a bad one. He's been good, he's just not had a whole lot of racing luck. He's a really nice horse. It's early yet. He's so handy, he's so good gaited, I can't see him not being a real player later in the year." MacDonald also found the winner's circle with Schnittker-trained Rodeo Beach, who won the $9,500 Landmark for 2-year-old female pacers by three-quarters of a length over Finally Free in 2:00.2. Rodeo Beach, who was fourth at the half, moved to the front on the final turn before losing the lead to Finally Free in the stretch. But the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Wild West Show, a full sister to Dan Patch Award winner Huntsville, battled back for the victory in her career debut. "She was blowing right on by," MacDonald said. "We train here, and I don't know if she thought that was it (on the final turn) but she was calling it a day on me. Once I got around the turn, she took back off. She's just green. But she's a really nice filly." Rodeo Beach won the $9,500 Landmark for 2-year-old female pacers by three-quarters of a length over Finally Free in 2:00.2. --USTA/Ken Weingartner photo Rodeo Beach is owned by Schnittker, Mary Kinsey Arnold, and Paul Bordogna. Schnittker's remaining winner was Full Rights in the $14,800 Landmark for 3-year-old male trotters. Full Rights, a son of RC Royalty-Cruella De Ville, won by one length over Jnr Express in 1:57.4 with Schnittker in the sulky. Full Rights has won two of nine races this year and earned $19,824. The gelding is owned by Runthetable Stables. The 68-year-old Johnson was making his first driving start since October 2017 and won with Higher Call in the $13,550 Landmark for 2-year-old male trotters. Higher Call, who was making his career debut, was first at every call on his way to a 19-1/2 length triumph over Superior Athlete in 2:03.1. "It's been a while," Johnson said with a smile after picking up his first Grand Circuit victory since 2015. "(Higher Call) is getting better. He likes a small track. He's a grinder. He doesn't have that quick speed, he just keeps going. I had him in the winter in Florida. He's been sound and he wants to do it. He's a nice horse to be around." Higher Call, who is in the care of Johnson and trainer Marcus Melander, is owned by Caroline Gerry, who also bred the colt. He is a son of Explosive Matter-Bruschette. Gerry raced Bruschette, who was trained by Johnson, during her multiple-stakes-winning career. Driver Jan Johnson and owner/breeder Caroline Gerry with Higher Call. --USTA/Ken Weingartner photo "We didn't know if he had it in him or not, but he's growing," Gerry said about Higher Call. "We're just taking it easy with him, not pushing him. I love him. He's got such a nice manner. He's good looking. He's got to grow into himself. He was big from the beginning. He'll be good." Friday's remaining winners were Meadowbranch Vicki in the $7,100 Landmark for 3-year-old female trotters and Hurrikane Lori Ann in the $7,225 Landmark for 3-year-old female pacers. Meadowbranch Vicki won by a neck over Taja Mahala in 2:00.3. Meadowbranch Vicki, a daughter of Wishing Stone-Wen-mar's Memo, has won two of 10 races this year and earned $27,383 for owner Hans Enggren. The Jenny Melander-trained filly was driven by Jason Bartlett. Hurrikane Lori Ann won by 1-1/4 lengths over Adorabella in 1:55.4 for driver Carl Garofalo and trainer John McDermott. The filly, a daughter of Lis Mara-Luxury Goods, has won two of six races this year and earned $28,501 for owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, and Pegasis Investment Group. Friday's Landmark Stakes are part of the annual Grand Circuit meet at Historic Track. The meet coincides with the sport's Hall of Fame inductions, which will occur Sunday at the adjacent Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Post time is 1 p.m. daily. Admission is free for children (12 and under); adults are $5 and includes a racing program. The stable area is open to visitors, to see the racehorses up close as they prepare for competition. Sunday's races include the annual Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry Memorial Trot, featuring a field of Hall of Famers. This year's event will include inductees Blair Burgess, Joe Holloway, and Linda Toscano as well as Wally Hennessey, David Miller, Brian Sears, Dick Stillings, and Jimmy Takter. Following the race, the drivers will be available to meet fans and sign autographs at tables located adjacent to the grandstand. For Friday's complete charts, click here.   by Ken Weingartner USTA Media Relations Manager

WILKES-BARRE PA - The first two-year-old qualifying races of the season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Wednesday morning found most of the harness racing sex/gait divisions dominated by one particular barn per section. Ray Schnittker won both of the three events for pacing colts in which he had a horse, while on the filly side Chuck Connor Jr. and Charlie Norris won both paces and both trots, respectively. In the trotting colt ranks, Schnittker and Norris each had a winner. Fastest, and perhaps most impressive, of all the baby winners was Cigars And Port, a So Surreal colt out of Sweet On Art, whose first foal, Wild West Show, has produced Huntsville and two other $500G winners in Cowboy Terrier and Stevensville. Schnittker, who drove all of his winning trainees, put Cigars And Port on the lead, got to the half in 1:00.4, then buzzed him home in 55.3 to win all alone in 1:56.2, not much short of being two seconds faster than any other freshman yet reported on a 5/8-mile track. Schnittker owns the precocious colt with Nolamaura Racing, Ted Gewertz, and Steven Arnold. Schnittker's other winner in the pacing colt ranks was the American Ideal-Gray Ghost colt Teton Sunset, who set the pace and stepped home in :28.4 to complete a 2:01.1 mile. The third winner in this division was the Rock N Roll Heaven - Sunduel A gelding Follow Your Heart for trainer/driver Aaron Lambert, pacing his back fractions in :57.3 - :28.1 out of the pocket to stop the clock at 2:00.4. The faster of the Chuck Connor Jr. freshman pacing fillies was the Heston Blue Chip - Paper Cut miss Chili Pepper, a clear winner for her trainer/driver and owner Janice Connor in 1:58.1 - :57.2 - :28.2. Just a tick behind was the Sunshine Beach - Oceans Motion filly Robmotion Blue Chip, owned by Janice Connor, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., and Robert Lovell, whose 1:58.2 tally featured closing numbers of :57.1- :28.1. Schnittker notched his third colt win of the day when the action shifted back to trotters, guiding the Explosive Matter - Fifty Shades colt Can't Say No to a 2:03.4 victory with a:29.4 rally out of the pocket. Trainer/driver Charlie Norris then brought out the Chapter Seven - Amity's Lalabye miss Sing Me A Lalabye, who went to the lead past the quarter and finished out in 2:02.4 - :29.4. Norris had seven of the ten fillies entered in the two-year-old filly trots - and finished 1-2-3 in one and 1-2-3-4 in the other. The faster winner for Norris beat the times posted by "the boys," as Mizzy Brenda K, by Donato Hanover out of owner Bob Key's "foundation mare" Winning Missbrenda (dam of millionaires Win Missy B and Winning Mister), showed good front-end speed in a 2:02.1 triumph, equaling the season's mark for the division. The other winner for Team Norris was the Conway Hall - Rucoucou distaff Sweet Sofie T, home in 2:03.1.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

Ray Schnittker debuted two of his freshmen pacers by the hot young harness racing stallion So Surreal, at the Meadowlands on Saturday morning, June 1st , and both won impressively. First, The Mystic with Schnittker at the controls, made every panel a winning one, setting fractions of 30, 57.4,126.2, with a mile in 1:54.2 He is owned by Schnittker, Paul Bordogna and Howard Taylor. The Mystic is by So Surreal from Beachy Lady , and was a $ 40,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase, bred by Steve Jones and Fair Winds Farm Then Splash Brother, again with Ray doing the piloting, went down the road setting fractions of 30.1, 58.4, 127.2 , going his mile in 1:54.3, winning as he pleased by 12-widening lengths while coming a sparkling last half in 55.4 with a last quarter in 27. 1 Splash Brother is owned by Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing LLC, Steve Arnold and Tammy Ann Flannery. Splash Brother is also by So Surreal from Sugarcoated and was a $ 30,000 purchase at the Goshen Yearling Sale and was also bred by Steve Jones's Cameo Hills Farm . Schnittker has enjoyed great success racing horses bred and purchased from Cameo Hills. Deweycheatumhowe and the great Check Me Out were both purchased by Schnittker from Cameo Hills, and Huntsville was raised at Cameo Hills as well. These colts and all of Ray's babies are stabled at Historic Track in Goshen , New York by John Manzi , for Goshen Historic Track

On Monday May 13, the New York Sire Stakes made their first stop of the year at Monticello Raceway for 3 Year Old Pacing Colts, the conditions were less than ideal as it was a cold, rainy raw day that was reminiscent of a fall day and certainly not the middle of May. Hickfromfrenchlick, the Ray Schnittker trained harness racing son of So Surreal started from post position 4 and went off the 1/5 odds on favorite in the 6 - horse field. Hickfromfrenchlick (Mark Macdonald) lead the pack every step of the way, reeling off even rated fractions of 28.2, 58.1 1:28.1, American Mercury (Tim Tetrick) were the first to move down the backside as the outer flow developed with Stone Hanover right behind him. It looked like Hickfromfrenchlick was going in for an easy layup but American Mecury was not done yet as the duo paced home strong, but Hickfromfrenchlick rebuffed American Mercury by a scant neck to score in 1:55, pacing his last ¼ in 27 in the fastest mile of the afternoon. Stone Hanover finished 3rd, coming home in 26.4. Hickfromfrenchlick is owned by Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing LLC and TC Spatorico. In the second heat of Sire Stakes, it was a race of the Major's, Major Blake left fast from post 4 from the gate but decided to take the 2- hole tuck as Major March from the rail cut the steady fractions of 28.2,58.1 1:26.4, Respect The Flag and Astarie angled out past the ¾ maker in an effort to start tracking down Major Blake, but their efforts were thwarted as he coasted to a 2 length victory in 1:55. Major March is trained by soon to be Hall of Famer Linda Toscano, the Art Major - Mach You And Me colt is owned by Bay Pond Racing Stable of Malvern, PA. Major Blake was 2nd and Astaire finished 3rd Major March                    --Geri  Schwarz photo The highly touted Reigning Deo highlighted the last heat of Sire Stakes in the 6th race, the Rock N Roll Heaven colt started from the rail and was the 3/5 favorite going to post. Dealer's Table (PP4) and Jason Bartlett cut the soft fractions to the ¾ pole 29.3, 59.3 1:28.1. Rollwithpapajoe (T. Buter) was the first to come off the rail approaching the half, he continued the overland route with no cover. Heading for home he rolled to an easy 3 length win over Reigning Deo held on for 2nd place followed by Covered Bridge. Rollwithpapajoe is trained Jenn Bongiorno, The Roll With Joe colt is owned by Barbara Bongiorno, BK Lambos and D. Libertos. The Excelsior A contest's saw Shim (American ideal - Feel Life) leave the gate unhurried to rally over Caviart Cale in 1:58.3 for Trainer - Driver and part owner Pat Lachance, in the second A class Surreal Art (So Surreal - Artcotic) was content to sit the pocket while Shanghai Bobby cut the mile. It was a good battle down the lane between the two but Surreal Art hung on for a neck victory over Shanhai Phil in 1:55.1 Sire Stats for the afternoon showed American Ideal and So Surreal both had 2 winners, Jason Bartlett and Patrick LaChance each had a driving double on the chilly afternoon. $461,000 was wagered on the 8- race card for a per race average of $57,625.   By: Shawn Wiles

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Pennsylvania All-Stars harness racing series began its annual run at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night, with three $30,000 divisions of sophomore pacing males in the spotlight. The first All-Stars division was taken by the heralded and well-bred Sweet Lou colt Blood Money, but only by a nose in 1:50. It was an interesting strategic "chess match" between Scott Zeron, guiding Blood Money, and George Napolitano Jr. behind Escapetothebeach: Zeron gradually guided Blood Money to the lead past a :26.4 opener, only for Napolitano to brush in front of the stands with his first-time 2019 starter to have the lead before the :55 half. Zeron didn't want to be caught in with his 1-5 shot, so he regained command before the 1:22.3 three-quarters, only to have Escapetothebeach hang right behind him, take the Pocono Pike, and only get beaten by the slightest of margins. Brassy Hanover, ducking inside fading cover on the far turn, rallied up the far inside and missed by only ¾ of a length in third. Blood Money had won his seasonal debut at The Meadowlands in 1:50; this mile was the fastest of the year by a sophomore on a 5/8-mile track, and tied Blood Money with himself as the fastest "glamour division" colt on any size track. Nancy Johansson trains the winner of $372,244 for Diamond Creek Racing. Branquinho, winless at two but a full brother to Huntsville, looks like he may flourish in his sophomore campaign - he's now undefeated in three 2019 starts, following up on a Stallion Series win last week with an All-Stars victory in 1:50.1, his fastest ever. The Somebeachsomewhere colt bypassed an enormous hole mid-first turn and went on to the lead near the :27.2 quarter; favored Lyons Night Hawk also chose to press forward and grabbed the top halfway to the next station, which was reached in :54.4. The chalk had repelled outside competition by the 1:22.4 three-quarters; Branquinho (the 9-5 second choice) would be his major challenger in the lane, and the winner responded sharply when tipped out from the two-hole by Tyler Buter, winning by ¾ of a length for owner/trainer Ray Schnittker (note: Buter and Schnittker share brown-and-gold colors). Somebeachsomewhere picked up a second sire credit when Air Force Hanover, parked a good way for the lead and not getting a breather up front, was still able to draw clear in the lane to take a new mark of 1:50.1. Air Force Hanover and George Napolitano Jr. (who drove five horses to Victory Lane on the card) were still outside past the :26.3 quarter, then ranged up to the lead in the frontstretch towards the :55.2 midway clocking. Aflame Hanover, the 2018 PA Fair champion, forced the winner to go an all-out :26.3 third quarter to keep the lead, and after the challenger started to fade past the 1:22 three-quarters, "George Nap" kept the winner's mind to business as he posted a 2¾ length victory over fast-closing Highlandbeachlover, who was hampered by a nonflowing outer tier. Brian Brown is the conditioner of the four-time career winner for Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and W. J. Donovan. Pocono's love affair with the claiming box produced a "new track record" on Saturday, as the Mach Three seven-year-old gelding Raksmach N was claimed for $40,000, a record for the mountain oval. A winner of three straight before a very hard-fought third from the outside post eight on Saturday, he leaves owner Mark Akins with a $2400 purse check and a $5000 profit on his haltering of the horse for $35,000 last week, minus the week's training fee; the horse now goes to the Oakes barn and the Northfolk Racing Stable. In all for the night, 12 claims totaled up to $304,500, running the seasonal totals to 147 claims, with $2,642,500 changing hands. Tomorrow night marks the 2019 debut of The World's Fastest Trotter, the locally-based Homicide Hunter, in a $30,000 open trot event in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS); Tequila Monday and Kissininthesand seem likely to renew their first-round GNOS rivalry in the $30,000 mares open pace.   ATTRIBUTION - PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing trainer/driver Ray Schnittker shipped in a squadron of three-year-olds who were impressive victors during qualifying events on Wednesday morning at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Fastest of three three-year-old pacing colts that Schnittker guided to wins was the So Surreal colt Hickfromfrenchlick, named after basketball star Larry Bird, who made very pole a winning one in 1:54, last quarter 27. 2¼ lengths behind Hickfromfrenchlick was Shake That House, third in the Metro at two and a ¾ brother to Breeders Crown winner Split The House. Branquinho, a maiden who was stakes-placed at two, looked a bit more like a full brother to Huntsville as the Somebeachsomewhere colt paced in 1:55 - 27.4. A race earlier Captain Malicious, a Captaintreacherous colt and Sheppard winner, won in 1:55.2, coming from third with his own back fractions of 56.3 - 27.4. A fourth Schnittker winner was the sophomore trotting filly Jezzy's Legacy, a Donato Hanover out of the $800G+ winner Jezzy, who put in a 28.1 last quarter to stop the timer in 1:56.2. Another of Donato Hanover's offspring was successful - the four-year-old Whats The Word, second in his Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship last year, who came out of the pocket sharply to get home first in 1:57 for the Allard brothers. Fastest mile of the a.m. session went to the Captaintreacherous filly Blue Ivy, winner of a Bluegrass division, who made two moves to win in 1:53.3 for driver Tyler Buter and trainer Chris Oakes. PHHA / Pocono

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 21, 2018-For years in Boston Celtic green, Larry Bird taunted, tortured and tormented New York. Saturday night (Sept. 22nd), his 'nicknamesake' tries to take it. Hickfromfrenchlick drew post position No. 6 in 2-year-old pacing colt and gelding event during Yonkers Raceway's $1.8 million New York Night of Champions. The race, sponsored by the state's Agriculture and Horse Breeding Development Fund, is the fourth of a dozen-race card and the third of eight consecutively-contested $225,000 sire stakes finales. Hickfromfrenchlick is no stranger to the spotlight, having won the $100,000 Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace here in mid-July (1:55.4). The son of So Surreal returned to Westchester in late August, picking off divisional leader-and tonight's pole-sitter-Melodie's Major in a New York Sire Stakes event (1:53.3). It was off to Vernon Downs after that and a down-the-road, life-best 1:51.3 statebred romp. For the season, he's won four of six tries ($120,541), though he did not fire in his final NYSS try (Batavia). "Stuck behind some bad horses who had no reason to pull," Ray Schnittker said. Fortunately for Hickfromfrenchlick's co-owner/trainer and sometime chauffeur, those sort of nights have been few and far between. Schnittker drove that night (as he did at Vernon), but is AWOL (Meadows) Saturday, so he enlists Tim Tetrick this time around. "Training down, he was good, so I'm not surprised," Schnittker said of the $47,000 (Goshen, NY) lad who's also co-owned by Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico. "He had a :27 and change last quarter (in a Landmark event) at Goshen, so I knew he was ready. "I trained his mother (My Girl's a Star) and she had a record of (1):52 and 2 as a 2-year-old. (Author's aside...My Girl's a Star was a solid New York Sire Stakes lass, winning 7-of-11 and more than $139,000 as a frosh [2010] despite having the misfortune of being in the same age group as one See You at Peelers). "I told Mark (MacDonald) he was going to win the Sheppard, so just don't screw it up, which he didn't." Any such guarantees for Tetrick before he and Hickfromfrenchlick Saturday night? "No one can outleave Melodie's Major if they wanted to, but I think (Hickfromfrenchlick) can get around some of the others, and if he's close, he wouldn't stun me." Regardless of Saturday's outcome, Hickfromfrenchlick is finished for the season. "He's done everything we've asked," Schnittker said. Post time for the New York Night of Champions fun and frolic is the usual 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Batavia, NY --- The eighth and final "regular season" visit of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) to Batavia Downs brings the 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings to Genesee County on Wednesday (Sept. 12) to compete in two divisions for a total of $109,000 dollars. The Batavia Downs track record for 2-year-old pacing colts is 1:54.2 and that standard is definitely in danger of going down. The NYSS events are carded in race three and five. Two $15,000 Excelsior "A" legs will be held in race one and two. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m. The first $54,500 NYSS freshman pace features the top point earner in the series Melodies Major (Art Major-Hilarious) and the red hot Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl's A Star) in a race that could easily rewrite the local record book. Melodies Major has raced exclusively in NYSS events this year and has excelled, winning five out of seven of them. And he's been successful over every size track in the state. In his most recent outing he scored a big come-from-behind win at Vernon Downs, taking a new lifetime mark of 1:51.3 in the process. He comes in here sharp as a tack and looking forward to the final. Melodies Major is 2-1 morning line and leaves from post five with his regular driver Tyler Buter aboard for trainer Mark Ford. Pushing the issue will be Hickfromfrenchlick who has won four out of his last six outings. Hickfromfrenchlick has won his last two NYSS races and like Melodies Major, took a new lifetime mark of 1:51.3 at Vernon Downs last week. The start before that he won in 1:53.3 at Yonkers, beating Melodies Major by only a half-length. He hasn't been worse than second all year and he will be a force to deal with here. Western New York native trainer/driver Ray Schnittker will be aboard from post six as the second choice at 5-2. The second $54,500 split has Reining Deo (Rock n Roll Heaven-Little Miss) looking to cement his spot in the NYSS final. Reining Deo is currently eighth in points but could still be knocked out in a worst-case scenario. He has been one-two-three in four NYSS starts and has a mark of 1:54.2 at Saratoga. A win would give him 142 points and a ticket to ride in the final. Trainer Brett Pelling has Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike and they have been made the 2-1 morning line favorite from post five. JoJo's Place (Roll With Joe-Angel Place) is winless this year but has hit the board in three NYSS races. He has a very outside chance of making the final but only if he could win here. Recently he has been hampered with outside posts for the last five outings and drawing post two will definitely help. Although he finished fifth last week at Vernon, he still paced in 1:52.3 in defeat. Matt Kakaley will be driving for trainer John Butenschoen and they were made 3-1 by the track handicapper. Major March (Art Major-March You And Me) has been a bit of a late bloomer. After winning big in an Excel "A" race at Saratoga in 1:54.1 by seven lengths, he stepped up to the NYSS for the last two starts and acquitted himself well. He seems to fit this field nicely and should not be overlooked given his recent outings. Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano has tabbed Drew Monti to drive and they will start from post six at 7-2. The 2018 NYSS Consolations races which carry a total purse value of $320,000 will be held at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 21). By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs      

Melodies Major (Tyler Buter) captured the first of two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman pacing colts and geldings. Both divisions raced for a purse of $56,500. Reigning Deo (Jim Morril Jr.) took the lead hitting the first quarter in :26.2. The favorite, Major Blake (Jason Bartlett) took over before hitting the half in :55.0. He continued to lead hitting the three-quarter mark in 1:23.2. Melodies Major ($11.40) was fifth after three-quarters. Owned by Martin Scharf and trained by Mark Ford. He cam flying down the stretch to win in a lifetime best of 1:51.3. Artie's Ideal moved up to take second with Jack Nation finishing third. Melodies Major is a 2-year-old colt by Art Major-Hilarious. It was the fifth win of his young career. All wins were legs of the NYSS. Buter won two more races on the card. His other wins came with Shake That House ($3.40) and (Rollonhighway ($3.30) Hickfromfrenchlick (Ray Schnittker) easily wins the second division of the NYSS. Hickfromfrenchlick ($3.70) fired right to the front and went gate-to-wire controlling all the fractions (:27.1, :56.0, 1:23.2 1:51.3). Owned by Nolamaura Racing LLC., Thomas Spatorico, and trainer Schnittker, he would hold off a late charge by second place finisher Chatelroll (Scott Zeron) to get a lifetime best mark. Jet Rock (John MacDonald) finished third.   Hickfromfrenchlick is a 2-year-old colt by So Surreal-My Girls A Star. He has now won four out of five races in his career.   Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (September 7) at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com by John Horne, for Vernon Downs

After seeing Wild Bill suffer an injury at age 2 and from bleeding issues this year at 3, trainer Ray Schnittker hopes his colt is ready to turn the corner beginning in Saturday's eliminations for the Messenger Stakes at Yonkers Raceway. Wild Bill, a full brother to Dan Patch Award-winner Huntsville, adds Lasix for his upcoming race following off-the-board finishes in his past two starts. For his career, he has won three of eight races and earned $58,391 for Schnittker, who bred Wild Bill with the late Charlie Iannazzo and remains the owner of the colt. "He hadn't been racing that well," Schnittker said. "We scoped him and he was bleeding pretty badly so we put him on Lasix. I think it's going to make a big difference. He trained very well on it and I think it'll be a factor. It seems like it really made a difference, but we're going to find out quickly on Saturday." The Messenger Stakes is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Stay Hungry won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, on Aug. 4 at The Meadowlands. The final jewel, the Little Brown Jug, is Sept. 20. Stay Hungry and Wild Bill were among 11 horses entered in the Messenger. The top-four finishers from each of Saturday's two $40,000 eliminations advance to the $500,000 final on Sept. 1 at Yonkers. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT), with the Messenger eliminations as races five and six. Wild Bill won the first two races of his career -- including a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division that included future open-stakes-winners Nutcracker Sweet, Hayden Hanover, and Dorsoduro Hanover -- before consecutive fifth-place finishes that proved to be his final starts of the season. "He got a leg injury so we had to quit with him," Schnittker said. "He came back a hundred percent on that." Wild Bill is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Schnittker's mare Wild West Show, who has produced stakes-winners Stevensville, Cowboy Terrier, Beachesofcheyenne, and Huntsville. In 2016, Huntsville paced a world-record-equaling 1:49 mile and was named best 2-year-old male pacer. In 2017, he won the Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace before retiring in October because of injury. His best win time of the season, 1:47.4, led all 3-year-old pacers. "He's definitely not Huntsville, but he's a pretty nice colt," Schnittker said about Wild Bill. "He's a lot smaller horse, but he's the same type of horse -- he wants to go. He's just nice to drive, two fingers and does everything right. He's a little smarter horse probably than Huntsville. I don't know if he's as fast. I think I'd rather have fast than smart." Wild Bill has a full stakes schedule ahead of him and Schnittker hopes the issues that have hampered the colt are things of the past. "If he can put it together here a little bit, I'd be tickled to death if he could hit the board in the final, we'll see what happens," said Schnittker, who will drive Wild Bill on Saturday. "I'd be surprised if he's not kind of right there. I'm looking for a strong second half of the year." Following are the fields for the eliminations of the Messenger. Jimmy Freight was supplemented for $30,000. First elimination: 1. Babes Dig Me, George Brennan, Tony Alagna, 3-1; 2. Wild Bill, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker, 12-1; 3. JK Wildfire, Jason Bartlett, Brett Pelling, 7-2; 4. Topville Olympian, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 3-1; 5. Nutcracker Sweet, Jordan Stratton, Jimmy Takter, 3-2. Second elimination: 1. Springsteen, Brian Sears, Rene Allard, 5-2; 2. Winston, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 8-1; 3. Decoy, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter, 9-1; 4. Jimmy Freight, Louis Roy, Andrew Harris, 9-5; 5. Stay Hungry, Doug McNair, Tony Alagna, 2-1; 6. Kwik Talkin, Jordan Stratton, Rob Harmon, 20-1. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

On Sunday afternoon at Yonkers, Dewycolorintheline became harness racing's newest millionaire with an overnight win giving him a career total of $1,000,481 from 31 wins in 147 career starts.   Now 8 years of age, Dewycolorintheline was bred by Jeff Gural as Little E, LLC, came from the first crop of Hambletonian winner Deweycheatumnhowe out of his stakes winning mare Magenta Hall 2, 1:55.2m and was sold to Ray Schnittker for $110,000 with Gural remaining a partner in the Deweycolorintheline Stable.   A precocious freshman, Dewycolorintheline won his Peter Haughton Memorial elimination and was fifth in the final. A win in the Yonkers Trot highlighted a sophomore season that saw him earn over $400,000 for the year. From there it's come the hard way, grinding out more than $100,000 each season at ages 4, 5, 6 & 7 and the old boy is now halfway there again in 2018.   Allerage Farms will sell a Cantab Hall half sister to Dewycolorintheline by the name of Plum Rose in the Lexington Selected Yearling sale this October.   From Allerage Farms  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 14, 2018-They're 2-year-olds. Things happen. Such was the case in Saturday night's (July 14th) $100,000 Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace, Yonkers Raceway's premier event for 'open' frosh colts and geldings honoring the Hall of Fame founder of Hanover Shoe Farms. When the stone dust settled, Hickfromfrenchlick (Mark MacDonald, $5.30) emerged an open-length winner in a six-horse race that was not for the squeamish. At the outset, the eventual winner-from post position No. 2-was off the gate. His next-door neighbor to the outside, Just Plain Loco (Jim Marohn Jr.), tried to leave but threw in steps. He eventually righted the ship, but was wide into the first turn. Meanwhile, 4-5 choice World on Edge (George Brennan) led into the first turn, only to jump it off That left first starter and 58-1 rank outsider Can We Dance (Greg Merton) as sort of a default leader from his outside post. The bombardier put up intervals of :28 and :57, the latter as pole-sitting Hurrikane Kingklee (Dan Dube) tried to pull pocket, only to reconsider. Nearing the 1:26.1 three-quarters, the field truncated...even World on Edge, who then misbehaved again. Hurrikane Kingklee finally did dispose of the longshot leader, while Hickfromfrenchlick was right behind. The 'Hick' inhaled the tiring front-enders in the final turn, opening to two lengths into the lane. Hickfromfrenchlick then rolled home in his parimutuel debut, the final margin 3¼ lengths in 1:55.4. Just Plain Loco, who angled widest into the final turn, survived his race race-and-a-half to finish second, with another first-starter Treasure Tom (Jason Bartlett) third. Hurrikane Kingklee and Can We Dance settled for the minors, while World on Edge needs to think about what he did. For second choice Hickfromfrenchlick, a $47,000 (Goshen NY) plebe son of Larry Bird, er, So Surreal, co-owned by (trainer) Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico, he's won both of his purse tries (Landmark at Goshen). The exacta paid $20, the triple paid $155 and the superfecta paid $367. "He shied from the car at the start," MacDonald said. "I was fortunate with the breakers to get away where I did and just sort of sit there. "When Danny (Dube, Hurrikane Kingklee) pulled, I was right behind him and he just sort of paced away. Ray (Schnittker) told me not to screw it up. A strange race. Glad we won." Saturday's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by odds-on Always at My Place (Brennan, $3.10) in a season's-best 1:50.3. Sunday's (July 15th) matinee goes at 11:28 AM, with the first four 'French' trots going as both overflow-field and added-distance (mile-and-a-quarter) by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Goshen, NY - The great trotting mare Check Me Out only has two foals of racing age, and both are track record holders at the track that their mom called home. Check Me Out raced to fame and fortune in 2011 and 2012 for Ray Schnittker and her first two foals - Mooska Stride - 3,1:56h at Goshen Historic Track (GHT) on Sunday, July 1 and Check Out Trixie - 2,1:58.4h at Goshen on Friday, June 29 were both Track Record performances. Through three days of racing at Goshen Historic Track, Cameo Hills Farm in Montgomery, which produced all three of these fillies, has bred the winners of six races at GHT - Check Out Trixie, Major Sugar Rush, Hickfromfrenchlick, Damion Diesel Hahn, Mooska Stride and Youcouldbethatgirl. The first four are trained by Ray Schnittker while Mark Harder trains Mooska Stride and Dan Daley conditions Youcouldbethatgirl. by John Manzi, for Goshen Historic Track

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