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CHESTER PA - The 2019 Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) gets underway with quite a bang this Saturday, May 4, at the two eastern Pennsylvania tracks, Harrah's Philadelphia and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the three classes of Open trotters, Open pacers, and Mare Open pacers each drawing a fine field. The two harness racing events taking place on a special Saturday afternoon card at Philly, worth $30,000 each, are the Mares Open pace and the Open trot. The Open trotters are first on the card in race four, and the event will mark the 2019 debut of Crystal Fashion, a four-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall trained by Jim Campbell. Crystal Fashion won just shy of $1.1 million as a three-year-old last year, with high finishes in most of the major stakes in his division; he was also the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. Starting from post two in a field of seven off a pair of easy qualifying wins in 1:57.1 and 1:57, Crystal Fashion is scheduled to have the green and yellow colors of "T. Tetrick" behind him - only Saturday his driver is scheduled to be Trace Tetrick, brother of Tim, the 2017 Rising Star Award winner and the leading driver at Hoosier Park near Indianapolis. Pappy Go Go, who has a 1:52 victory of each of the two eastern PA tracks this year to give him two of the three fastest times on the trot in North America this season, will get a real test of class here as he begins from post four for driver George Napolitano Jr and trainer Andrew Harris. Ohio champion Mission Accepted opened the season undefeated in three starts since switching to the care of Ron Burke, but he'll have to solve the difficult post seven Saturday, with Andrew McCarthy scheduled to drive. In the sixth race Mares Open pace, 2018 champion sophomore filly Kissin In The Sand will make her first start of this year, starting from post two for trainer Nancy Johansson and driver Scott Zeron. The Somebeachsomewhere mare had ten wins and five seconds in fifteen seasonal outings, taking her mark of 1:47.3 at Lexington, and she was also the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. Her main foe appears to be the American Ideal mare Tequila Monday, who has ripped off four straight victories against high-quality mares to open her season for trainer Hunter Oakes. Trace Tetrick has also gained the catch-drive behind Tequila Monday as she starts from post five in the seven-horse field. The GNOS action then heads 100 miles north on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Pocono, where there will be a doubleheader of racing on Saturday, and the highlight of the evening card will be the track's traditional Derby Day feature, the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace. The Rose Memorial will count in the GNOS pointstandings, and is slotted for the evening action's race ten. The race has attracted the hottest, and the richest, performer in North America so far this year in Western Fame, starting from post seven in the field of nine for trainer Rene Allard, currently in front in a bid for his sixth Pocono training title in seven years, and driver/brother Simon. All the son of Western Ideal has done recently is post four wins and a second in five preliminaries of the Levy Series, then took the $664,000 Levy final by almost five lengths in 1:50.4 at Yonkers, boosting his 2019 earnings to $446,300 with only a third of the year gone. Filibuster Hanover, winner of the 2017 Little Brown Jug and like Western Fame a racing millionaire, had the misfortune of drawing the outside post nine for his seasonal debut, with trainer Ron Burke choosing Jim Morrill Jr. for sulky duty. Sure to draw attention as well is Highalator, starting from post two for trainer Jenny Bier and driver Richard Still; Highalator, who is 10-for-17 lifetime at the mountain oval, and Still teamed to win a leg of the Golden Receiver series at The Meadowlands in his last start. The Great Northeast Open Series races are scheduled every weekend at the two tracks until September 1, with $30,000 contests (a few "special events" carry a bigger bounty) on the sheet for all of the three divisions. When Pocono has the Open pace, it goes on Saturday evening; otherwise the GNOS contests are, with a few exceptions (like this week), slotted for Sunday, at Philly in the afternoon and at Pocono at night. The top pointwinners in the competition will vie for $100,000 in each of the three GNOS divisions, with their Championships to be held over 1¼ miles on a Monday twilight card on September 9.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia / The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Simon Allard won his third of the four $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championships conducted this spring at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking Monday's rich finale for trotting males with the 1:54 winner Dover Dony. 70-1 shot Chapter And Ruth (trained by Rene Allard, who had combined with his brother Simon on their two earlier Weiss wins) shot out from PP9 right to the top for harness racing driver Tom Jackson, looping the winning son of Andover Hall, who eventually worked his way to the top before the :27.4 opener. Allard gave his charge a :57.1 breather to the half, then sent the 6-5 second choice through a :27.3 third quarter to try to put separation between himself and 3-5 favorite My Lindy Winner, who was looking for a Weiss sweep. My Lindy Winner came wide off cover late on the final turn for driver Jim Morrill Jr., and Chapter And Ruth popped out from the pocket, but Dover Dony had enough to maintain a length margin to the finish while lowering his mark 3 2/5 seconds. Chapter And Ruth, who had a Weiss prelim win (which ironically is more than the winner could say) showed determination to take second, a neck ahead of My Lindy Winner, who had been undefeated in six seasonal starts. Dover Dony had a 37-2-10-10 record before this final, but he surely picked a good time to become more photogenic for trainer Jordan Derue and owner Anthony Ciuffetelli. In the $15,000 Weiss consolation for the male trotting set, the sophomore Yankee Glide gelding Raceace set a North American season's record of 1:54.3 for his division while lowering his mark nearly three seconds. Matt Kakaley put his horse on the lead in his fourth lifetime start, and the even money favorite stepped home in :56.1 - :27.4 to keep 6-5 shot Omaha Omaha away by a head at the wire for trainer Nifty Norman and the All Laid Out Stable Inc. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

YONKERS, N.Y. – Harness racing trainer Rene Allard knows how it feels to win the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series Final. The trainer captured Yonkers Raceway’s richest pacing event in each of the last two years with Keystone Velocity and took the 2015 edition with Domethatagain. Allard will take aim at his third straight Levy victory and fourth overall when he sends out Western Fame in Saturday night’s $662,800 series final. The lead up to this year’s final has a distinct feel for Allard, however. His past winners were outsiders, or even longshots. Despite drawing post one, Domethatagain was 6-1 in the final after winning one preliminary leg and finishing second in another. Keystone Velocity pulled off an 11-1 surprise in winning his first Levy title and was a tepid 5-2 favorite last year after scoring just one victory in the preliminaries. Western Fame however, is expected to be a heavy favorite Saturday night. “I think it’s a lot of pressure, more pressure than usual because we’re going to have the favorite,” Allard said. “Having the favorite is always a little extra pressure, but I would rather be the favorite than the longest shot on the board. That means we have a good shot.” A fixture in the barn of Jimmy Takter since the beginning of his career, Western Fame won a division of the Bluegrass and eliminations of the Little Brown Jug and Breeders’ Crown and finished second in the Jug Final, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final, Tattersalls Pace, and Matron Stakes at 3. At 4, Western Fame captured the Prix d’Été and Confederation Cup and was third in the Graduate Final. After racing at the FFA level throughout 2018, Allard eyed the Western Ideal son for his stable. “I was looking, trying to find a horse to replace Keystone Velocity. He was going to stud to breed and retire and I was looking for one in that age group,” Allard explained. “I obviously didn’t think McWicked and a couple of those other ones would be for sale, but I thought this one might come up for sale because I knew Jimmy was retiring. I contacted them and said, ‘if this horse ever comes up for sale, let me know.’ ” About a month later, Allard’s phone rang. Western Fame was for sale. Allard agreed on a price, and the deal was complete. “Everything happened pretty fast,” Allard added. Western Fame made a favorable impression from the moment he arrived in the barn. His intelligence and professionalism impressed his new trainer, who owns the stallion in partnership with Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B And I Stable, and Gilbert Short. “Classy horses like him are definitely pleasant to be around. He’s a good horse to be around, very smart horse, obviously Takter did a great job with him throughout his career,” Allard said. “Everything he does, he does it right. Working around fast horses, those are the ones I like to work around the best. I don’t mind if they have issues, but if they have speed, that’s half the battle.” Western Fame made his first start for Allard December 2, 2018 when he captured the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway. After a winter break, Western Fame qualified back at Yonkers February 2 before making his seasonal debut March 9 in the Open Handicap at Saratoga. Although he finished third in that start, he was rough around the final turn as he made a bid to circle the field. “The first start this year, he was struggling a little bit in the turns,” Allard said. “We changed his shoeing and did a couple adjustments to his equipment and he’s been super ever since. We changed his shoes, we have spreaders on him, and he’s been really good since.” Western Fame put his Levy rivals on notice with a first-leg blowout win March 17. He scored in wire-to-wire fashion by 5 ¾ lengths in 1:51.1, pacing a final quarter in :27. After a runner-up finish in week two, Western Fame returned to his dominant ways, taking legs three, four, and five by 2, 5 ½, and 1 ¾ lengths, respectively. Western Fame kicked home in :27 in his last two starts and his fourth-leg victory came in 1:50.4, equaling the season’s mark at Yonkers. “We knew he was a good horse. He’s won a lot of races at the highest level, so we thought he’d be a nice horse to have for the aged pacing stakes, but he’s really gone beyond our expectations. He’s been really good,” Allard said. Western Fame drew post position five in the rich Levy Series Final and is expected to be a heavy favorite off his dominance in the preliminaries. However, fellow leavers The Downtown Bus, JJ Flynn, and Anythingforlove all drew inside the series leader. Allard will leave the race tactics to regular driver Dan Dube, who piloted both Keystone Velocity and Domethatagain to their Levy wins. “I think the horse can be driven any way. Throughout his career, he’s done it from every spot, so I don’t think he’s only one way,” Allard said. “But I believe Dube is probably going to be pretty aggressive being the favorite in there. “Western Fame has been super since we purchased him. He’s ultra-consistent and I expect him to be right there on Saturday again,” Allard continued. “He looks good, feels good. Any time you go for that kind of money on a half-mile track, it’s never easy. It’s not going to be easy, so hopefully everything goes well, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.” For Allard, winning the Levy carries meaning beyond the purse money. He considers Yonkers his home track; he was leading trainer in 2015, 2016, and 2018 and currently tops the trainer standings. Last year, Allard made nearly half of his 1,717 starts at the Hilltop. “Yonkers is the racetrack that I race at the most and this is the biggest race of the year for us there. I haven’t had a chance to have a trotter in the International yet, maybe one day, but the Levy is a race that anyone who races at Yonkers wants to win,” Allard said. “It makes it extra special; that’s our track that we race at, we’re there every night. It means a lot to win that race, it would mean a lot to get it done. “Last time we won, I think I had Dube on top of my shoulders,” Allard continued. “Every time we win, the party gets a little crazier and crazier. We celebrate; that’s one thing that we do with Team Allard is we try to have fun. You live only once, so we try to live right.” The field for the Levy Series Final is listed below: Post Position   Horse   Driver  Trainer  1       Anythingforlove A         Joe Bongiorno             Jenn Bongiorno 2       More The Better N       Scott Zeron                  Ross Croghan 3       JJ Flynn                       Tim Tetrick*                  Josh Green 4       The Downtown Bus     Tim Tetrick*                 Jeff Gillis 5       Western Fame             Dan Dube                    Rene Allard 6       Rodeo Rock                 Andrew McCarthy       Robert Cleary 7       The Wall                       Andy Miller                  Nick Surick 8       Ideal Jimmy                  Brent Holland               Erv Miller Driver choice to be announced. Saturday night’s card also features the $401,600 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final, the $100,000 Levy Series Consolation, the $75,000 Matchmaker Series Consolation, and a $50,000 Open Handicap Trot. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Eclipse Me N (Real Desire) prevailed in her 2019 harness racing debut while competing in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday afternoon. The Rene Allard trainee enjoyed a $100,000+ campaign last season and debuted in the local feature off a pair of qualifiers that took place at Pocono Downs. With leading driver Billy Dobson in the bike, Eclipse Me N got a second-over trip in the five-horse field, following the cover of the race's favorite. Betabcool N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) enjoyed a hassle-free first lap on the lead before being met with the challenge of the favorite approaching three quarters. Eclipse Me N fanned off her cover around the final turn and came on in the final strides to best Betabcool N and secure the victory in the $15,000 feature. Betabcool N was the runner-up while Miss Irish Rose A earned the show spot. Eclipse Me N, who stopped the timer in 1:54.4, paid $7.70 to win and led an exacta that returned $30.00.   There is a Pick Five carryover of $3,061 on Saturday's card at Saratoga with the Pick Five beginning in race one. First post time is set for 6:45pm.   Mike Sardella

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Bobby Weiss Series, a traditional launching pad for young talent named after the man who developed the racetrack at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono into one of the most popular surfaces in the world, opened its 2019 harness racing campaign during the Monday twilight card, with all three winners of their $15,000 first preliminaries posting lifetime bests. Fastest was the Sportswriter mare Cardiff, who raced very big with the introduction of Lasix and stopped the timer in 1:53. Simon Allard got early position in the 26.3 opener, then brushed to the lead well before the 55.3 half. Cardiff kept right on rolling, passing the ¾ in 1:24.2 and then widening her lead to 3¾ lengths over Sewonandsewforth for trainer Rene Allard and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc. and Carmen Carson. The roan American Ideal mare Ghosttothepost made two speed moves, got to the half in 57.1, then sprinted home in 56.3 to be a clear 1:53.4 winner in her Weiss cut. Brian Malone conditions the striking mare for owner Peter Paul Venturini. The sole three-year-old winner in the first Weiss leg for this group was the Art Major filly Ashlee Sparkles, who made every pole a winning more in 1:54.2 under the guidance of George Napolitano Jr. Mccoolen gave valiant chase from the pocket but was 1¼ lengths in arrears of the winner, who is conditioned by Blake MacIntosh; McIntosh also shares ownership with Hutt Racing Stable, Jacqueline Tierney, and the Mortgage Boys Stable. Weiss Series Action will continue on the 4 p.m. Tuesday Pocono card, with trotting distaffs sharing the spotlight in four divisions of their first round action. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

Stars Align A (Art Major) recorded his first local Open Pace harness racing victory on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Rene Allard trainee got a tough trip a few weeks back in his debut in the local feature but on Saturday night, a first over journey worked out very well for the Yonkers invader. Steve Genois got the driving assignment behind Stars Align N who overpowered one of the race’s co-favorites when first-over en route to the 1:52.3 score. Stars Align N’s win wasn’t just his first Open win but gave Genois his first Open victory since coming to Saratoga to drive last year. Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum) shook loose late and charged hard in the stretch before finishing second while last week’s Open winner JK Panache (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot. Stars Align N paid $13.80 to win the mild upset and led an exacta and triple that came back $104 and $731, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time of 12:00pm. Mike Sardella

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing trainer Rene Allard, leading conditioner at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono five of the last six seasons including the previous two, showed that he should again be a major force during the early part of 2019 at the mountain oval as he harnessed three winners during the Thursday morning qualifying session. The track was again rated "+2" in 20-degree temperatures even though the surface was today rated fast, but several horses looked in midseason form, especially those coming from Team Allard. Rene's brother Simon drove two of the barn's winners, Bet On Brett (1:56.1) and Beach Boogie (1:57.1, his own last half 56.2); Simon was guiding another Allardite when Rene's third winner, Nicol Shard N, posted the fastest clocking of the day, 1:55.2 (56.4-28), going wire-to-wire for driver Tom Jackson. For the results of these qualifiers click on this link. Many of the horses who qualified two days ago and today are likely to be racing on Pocono's first live card of the season on Saturday, March 16, which will be drawn on Monday. Opening night will find male pacers going in $12,500 first leg divisions of their Secretary's Series action. Nicol Shard N returning to the paddock with driver Tom Jackson for trainer Rene Allard There will be one more qualifying session at Pocono before Opening Night - this coming Wednesday, the 13th, at 10:00 a.m., after which Pocono will welcome the media for a preview of the 2019 racing season. Jennifer Starr Racing Marketing Manager

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, December 20, 2018 -- To the surprise of very few, Jason Bartlett and Rene Allard were Yonkers Raceway's leading harness racing 2018 driver and trainer, respectively. The 237-program season (one postponement), which concluded this past Sunday (Dec. 16th), saw Bartlett roll along to an eighth local title. The 37-year-old Bartlett, originally from Augusta, ME, was both the winningest (485) and busiest (2,328) driver, winning at a 20.8 percent clip. His $8.8 million in purses also led the list. Jordan Stratton was again second, this time with 371 wins and $7.3 million in purses, with the top five win list completed by George Brennan (345), Jim Marohn Jr. (167) and Brent Holland (164). Allard, a 31-year-old Quebecois now operating out of Matamoras, PA, took down the Westchester prize for the second time in the last three seasons. He sent out 178 winners from 843 starters (21.1 percent winning percentage), leading in purses ($3.55 million). Scott DiDomenico (160 wins), Richard Banca (141) Ron Burke (113) and Jennifer Bongiorno (71) completed the first quintet among wins. The Raceway's 234-program, 2019 season is set to begin Monday night (Jan. 7th), with a first post of 6:50 PM, A complete schedule accompanies this release, with all dates pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission. Frank Drucker

Trainer Rene Allard scored a pair of wins with the two trotters he brought to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Volare (Conway Hall) cruised to a wire-to-wire victory score as the fastest of the winners of three co-features for New York sired trotters on the chilly afternoon at the Spa. Allard brought Volare to town as the trotter looked to shake what had been some second and third-itis over the past couple of months. Leading driver Billy Dobson wasted little time moving the race's favorite out to the early lead and once the four year old got there, he had no trouble coasting to victory in 1:57.3. Volare's win came in one of the three $11,000 co-features and was the fastest among them on the matinee card. Allard's other victory came with Haveitalltogether (Cantab Hall) who toughed it out first over in a $9,000 event for young trotters. Volare was the by far the fastest of the three winners of the Wednesday co-features but John Stark Jr's Miss Muscle (Muscle Mass) and Notmeitsyou (Chapter Seven) also secured victories in the $11,000 trio of features on the matinee card. Miss Muscle went coast-to-coast for Stark as the three year old filly continued her solid sophomore campaign with what was her fourth victory of the '18 season. Miss Muscle stopped the timer in 2:00.1 as her race's 2-1 favorite. The third co-feature went the way of Notmeitsyou who lived up to the hype as a 1-5 betting favorite on Wednesday as the three year old drew away late to prevail in 1:58. It was the second win for Notmeitsyou in as many weeks in the $11,000 co-feature as the sophomore continues what has been a terrific run since coming to Saratoga in September for trainer-driver Phil Fluet. Live racing resumes on Friday evening with first post time set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Saturday was closing night for the 2018 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with ceremonies honoring some of the top horses and horsemen of the meet sharing the spotlight with the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series Eastern Regional Final #2. The Billings purse was $12,000, but you'd have thought they were going for a hundred times that as they were three-deep to a 27.4 quarter. Past that station, Winwood Scout, the favorite, kept On The Podium out in the 38-degree air, and the middle fractions of 57.2 and 1:27.2 were very demanding. With the best seat in the house behind the battle up front was driver David Offenberg and the Cantab Hall gelding Fiji, and when the outside horse melted back on the far turn, Fiji was ready to spring. Offenberg moved his horse outside at headstretch, but Winwood Scout was favored for good reason, and it took until the very last steps before "Dave The Rave" could nudge Fiji past the gallant Winwood Scout and driver Bob Davis, winning by the smallest possible margin in 1:57.1. For being named after a tropical island (which was the homeland of the famous Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka), Fiji is certainly a good cold weather performer - he also accounted for a Billings event in November of last year. The winner of $164,637 is trained by Eric Abbatiello for the Allister Stables LLC of Offenberg, and he may add to that total this year, as by virtue of winning this Billings Regional Final Championship, Offenberg has qualified for the $25,000 Billings Gold Cup at Yonkers on Sunday the 25th - and he may well take along the sharp and proven "winter warrior" Fiji. (Offenberg also looks like a "winter warrior" - he won the NAADA Final in December 2015 and the Silver Cup in November of that year, and he was second in the GSY Fall Final on Friday.) The equine honoree of the evening was Pocono Trotter of the Year Homicide Hunter, who locally won the Breeders Crown and set a world record for 1¼ miles in a year where he also became The World's Fastest Trotter with his 1:48.4 mile at Lexington. Chris Oakes, the horse's trainer and himself the winningest trainer of the year here three times, was on hand, and also took part in the ceremony honoring his 20YO son Hunter Oakes, who took the award for top UTR with a sparkling rating of .556. Rene Allard won his second straight training victory title and fifth in the last six years, finishing with 133 visits to Victory Lane, including on closing night. Allard's "handful" of training title ties him for the all-time lead at Pocono with a horseman whom some may have forgotten once had an active stable - George Napolitano Jr. (2001 and 2003-2006). "George Nap" of course also had his turn in the spotlight, winning the crowns for driving victories (366) and UDR (.374). George has now been the top driving dashwinner at Pocono twelve times, including the last seven consecutive seasons, and he won the last race of the year with Feeling Cam Lucky to finish with the second-most victories at Pocono in a year, behind only his own record of 407 in 2015. George's tenth UDR title at the mountain oval was his fifth in a row. One trophy not given was "Most Driving Wins with $50+ Longshots" - if they did, Jim Taggart Jr. solidified his hold on this honor, guiding home Roll Away Joe to a $51.20 victory for his seventh of the meet, two ahead of Tom Jackson and Anthony Napolitano. FINISHING LINES - It may have been Closing Night, but it appears that not too many stables will be shutting down for the year - there was $163,750 in claiming action on the last card of the meet, with nine horses changing hands. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Onlyest One, a Bettor's Delight gelding racing for the first time for the meet's leading trainer Rene Allard after a claim, overcame a first-over journey to post a 1:52.3 victory in the $18,000 claiming handicap harness racing pacing feature Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where the mercury was one degree above freezing for the evening's headliners. Now a 13-time winner in 2018 with earnings of $101,450 this year and $347,240 lifetime, The Onlyest One withstood Roll Away Joe by a length for driver Simon Allard while making a successful debut for Allard Racing Inc. Music Is Art may not have been the straightest pacer in the stretch drive of the $17,500 co-featured pace, but he was the fastest under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano to reach the wire first in 1:51.2. The son of Art Major was positioned second-over, swung wide entering the stretch - and kept going wider the closer he got to the line, winding up about 4 ½-wide at the wire but with a half-length lead over pacesetting I'm A Big Deal, a sophomore last seen in his Breeders Crown Final here. Music Is Art, trained by Mark Ford for owner Rick Berks, pushed his earnings to $91,863 this season and $196,790 lifetime. Ford, the Allard brothers, and George Napolitano Jr. each had a triple Saturday. Two horses were honored Saturday in the Hanover Shoe Farms winners circle at Pocono for seasonal accomplishments at the mountain oval. First to be spotlighted was another success story for the brothers Allard, Mare of the Year Eclipse Me N, who won half of her twelve 2018 starts at Pocono at the highest level of the conditioned ranks, including a Tuesday, August 28 victory - right back in two days after she had competed at the top level at Pocono on Sunday. For the year overall, Eclipse Me N, who raced in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers in the winter, has nine wins and $93,210; she took her mark of 1:50.1 on May 15 at Pocono for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Don Mac Lean, who imported her from New Zealand in May 2017. While the American Ideal gelding Ideal Kiss raced honorably at Pocono from May to November, his selection as Claimer of the Year was hugely based on his stint under the tutelage of Hunter Oakes, after Northfork Racing Stable claimed him for $30,000 on August 11. For Northfork/Oakes and driver George Napolitano Jr., still guiding the horse's fortunes, Ideal Kiss paced to a scorecard of 9-5-1-1 for earnings of $59,020 and a lifetime mark of 1:49.3 earned on September 1 - take that, you who say "Just a claimer" with a sneer. Ideal Kiss has raced this year to a total of 10 wins and $118,030 in earnings; his lifetime accumulation is $202,730. Tomorrow night Pocono Pacer of the Year Dorsoduro Hanover will be feted; on 2018 closing night next Saturday, Trotter of the Year Homicide Hunter will be honored -- quite a pair closing out the season at The Downs. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Charmed Life boosted her lifetime earnings to $1,445,137 in winning the $17,500 featured harness racing trot at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:53.2 on Sunday night, and she did it in an unusual fashion for the mountain oval - she picked up the entire field from last. Driver Simon Allard, sulkysitting for brother/Pocono top trainer Rene, had drawn the outside post seven after a scratch, and was in no hurry with the veteran daughter of Majestic Son until down the backstretch, when he made a power three-wide move around stalled cover. Charmed Life had drawn within a length of the battling front duo, leader Crosbys Clam Bake and uncovered Silvermass Volo, by the top of the stretch, and she have enough kick in reserve to drew clear by 1¾ lengths over Crosbys Clam Bake, with Silvermass Volo another length back in third behind the winner, who is owned by Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and VIP Internet Stable LLC. There was a trio of $17,000 co-features on the Sunday card, and Pocono's top driver George Napolitano Jr. won both of the paces among the six victorious horses he guided on the evening. Mink Pink, sitting third on the rail entering the final turn, found a hole and Napolitano swung her wide in the distaff pace, with the American Ideal filly charging home swiftly to win by ¾ of a length in 1:52.1 for trainer Chris Oakes and Crawford Farms Racing. Napolitano, who has a frontracing style that usually works effectively at Pocono, also took the division for males from off the pace, and about as far off the pace as you can - last at the half after starting from the rail. But the Bettor's Delight gelding Bellows Binge had the necessary late step to catch 25-1 pacesetter Uffizi by a neck while stopping the timer in 1:52.3 for trainer Dirk Simpson and the ownership of Peter Karras and the Dirk Simpson Stable Inc. Lest anybody thinks that the Pocono oval had been totally converted from the speedfavoring track it had been on the Saturdays of Breeders Crown competition, a frontrunner did win the co-featured trot, which also fell to trainer Chris Oakes, but a different driving Napolitano - Anthony, who put a new mark of 1:53.1 on the Chapter Seven filly Eunice. "ANap" and Eunice controlled the pace and the sophomore won by almost seven lengths, her third straight triumph for Crawford Farms Racing (another feature doubler), Northfork Racing Stable, and the T L P Stable. And if anybody is trying to read the political tea leaves before the next Pocono card on Election Day Tuesday evening (the track is dark on Monday in November), we note the victory of Make America Great, a son of So Surreal, who took a maiden event. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

YONKERS, NY, Friday, October 5, 2018- A first-up Keystone Wanda (Jim Marohn Jr., $12.20) held sway Friday night (Oct. 5th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Showing no inclination to leave at all from assigned post position No. 2, Keystone Wanda in fact left a chasmic hole for Lispatty (Mark MacDonald) to plotz in front of her. They, and everyone else, saw pole-assigned, 6-5 choice Frost Damage Blues (Jordan Stratton) lead through early intervals of :27.2 and :56.2. The seemed comfy when Keystone Wanda moved from third, engaging the leader in and out of a 1:24.2 three-quarters. Despite that bring just a 28-second third substation, the leader was in trouble. It was Keystone Wanda-in her 200th career start-going by early in the lane as Agent Q (Eric Goodell) was doing her third from third-over. The former whipped the latter by a diminishing head in 1:53. Lispatty, stuck behind a stopping leader, did get third, with a second-over Magic Forces (George Brennan) and Medusa (Joe Bongiorno) settling for the minors. Frost Damage Blues backpedaled to last among the octet. For Keystone Wanda, a third-choice, 8-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere owned (and Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, it was her seventh win in 29 seasonal starts The exacta paid $37, the triple returned $309 and the superfecta paid $1,387. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N continued to show that she has the winning knack as she was victorious in the $17,500 mares pacing harness racing feature on Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Driver Simon Allard, sulkysitting for trainer/brother Rene, worked out a fine second-over trip with Eclipse Me N, coming her own last half in 54.4 to be a length clear of pocketsitter Monica Gallagher at the end of the 1:51 journey. A winner of four of her last seven starts and an eight-time winner in 2018 for owners Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae, Eclipse Me N now has earnings of $84,460 for the season and $167,619 lifetime. George Napolitano Jr. guided home six winners on the Tuesday card at Pocono, giving him 18 for the four-day racing week here (4 1/2 a night average). Combining his Pocono wins with a five-bagger at Philly Friday and a triple there Sunday, Napolitano had 26 victories over a five-day period, which now puts him ahead of Dan Noble for third place in North America behind Aaron Merriman and Ron Wrenn Jr. His sixth winner on Tuesday, Critical Mass in the last race, was a pari-mutuel shocker, returning $50.00 for a $2 ticket; earlier George had guided Colorful Jamie to a $25.80 tally. If a fan had bet $2 to win on each  of "George Nap"'s fourteen Tuesday drives, the fan would have received a $90.00 return -- a profit of 221%. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Stars Align A was able to steal off to a big lead by going in 26.4 down the backstretch in the $21,500 pacing feature Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, then held together to fend off the late-charging Music Is Art to win by ¾ of a length in a personal best 1:50.4 The victorious son of Art Major took advantage of post two in the field of seven and went to the front, where he was joined by his fellow 8-5 shot Bettor's Edge nearing the 26.3 quarter. Bettor's Edge went on to work up to command in front of the stands, but he took the second turn badly and slowed drastically, forcing the entire field around him just past the 55.4 half. Driver Simon Allard got Stars Align A in high gear quickly past the trouble and to the lead, then tried to put as much distance as possible between his horse and the field, and had an advantage of four lengths at the 1:22.3 3/4s. That lead shrunk on the far turn and through the stretch, with Music Is Art leading the charge, but Stars Align A had enough left to raise his U.S. win percentage to 50% after a pair of starts after going 15-for-29 (52%) before his recent importation. Simon's brother Rene conditions the winner of $152,313 for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, Bruce Soulsby, and Alan Weisenberg. Rene Allard is Pocono's leading trainer; his driving counterpart, George Napolitano Jr., continued his incredible form on Saturday nights with eight victories on the card, including one with the American Ideal gelding Ideal Kiss in 1:50 to take the $20,000 claiming handicap pace co-feature. "George Nap" pointed Ideal Kiss towards the top, as he has in all of his four starts for trainer Hunter Oakes and the Northfork Racing Stable, and the pacer again showed "1"s all the way across his charted line, winning by 2¾ lengths. Since being claimed by Oakes/Northfolk on August 11, Ideal Kiss has earned $40,000 by winning the high-level Pocono claim four starts in a row. He now has overall yearly earnings of $90,930, garnered mostly in his nine seasonal victories, and a $175,630 career bankroll. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

Batavia, NY --- There is a lot at stake for all the entrants of the $117,600 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 5) as this is the last race for that group before the $225,000 final at Yonkers on Saturday (Sept. 22). But the one division all eyes will be on features a heavyweight match between Springsteen and Hitman Hill who both need to win for the opportunity to make that final. Currently Springsteen is 10th in points with 100 while Hitman Hill is sitting behind him in 12th with 75. The majority of the horses currently in position to make the final are also competing on Wednesday so it all depends on how well everyone does. There are three $39,200 divisions of the NYSS carded as race one, five and six. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m. Springsteen (Rock N Roll Heaven-American Charm) has had a huge year. He won the $500,000 Hempt at Mohegan Sun Pocono in a lifetime best 1:48.3 in June along with two NYSS divisions this year. But he failed to make the $400,000 Adios final and more recently finished seventh in the $400,000 Milstein. And this past Saturday (Sept, 2) he had a rough outing finishing last in the $500,000 Messenger Stake at Yonkers. He currently sits eighth in North America among all 3-year-olds for earnings with $341,175 and has the sixth fastest win time for that same group of 1:48.3 Louis Roy has been tabbed by trainer Rene Allard to drive Springsteen and they are the morning line choice at 8-5 from post three. Hitman Hill (American Ideal-Fox Valley Shaker) has had a full dance card this year as well and has put in stellar efforts in each one of his outings. He finished third in the Hempt (behind Springsteen), third in the Adios final and fourth in the $272,025 Empire Breeders Classic. He finished one-two in his pair of NYSS events and returns to Batavia Downs as the reigning track record holder for 2-year-old pacing geldings with a mark of 1:52.4 taken here in 2017. For the year, Hitman Hill has three wins and $200,387 in earnings with a seasonal and lifetime best mark of 1:49.3. Akron, New York native Chris Oakes trains Hitman Hill and has Brett Miller in the bike as usual. They will depart from post six listed at 5-2. The first division's early 8-5 favorite is Topville Olympian (American Ideal-Our Sophia) who just finished a close third behind Stay Hungry and Jimmy Freight in the Messenger Stake at Yonkers on Saturday. He has one NYSS win this year but has never missed the board while competing in that series. He's the top money earner in this race with $129,170 and picks up the services of Brett Miller for this outing. His main rivals appear to be Rockapelo (Rock N Roll Heaven) who scored his best win at Tioga Downs this year in the Geers Stake going 1:50.2 and the NYSS points leader Rootin Tootin (Roll With Joe-Wild Retreat) who has 180 and is 55 points ahead of his nearest rival. Ideal Feeling (American Ideal-Feelinglikeastar) gets the track handicapper's nod in the second division as he is listed at 2-1. After taking an early season mark of 1:51.3 at Tioga, Ideal Feeling acquitted himself well in an elimination of the Meadowlands pace in July that went in 1:49, although he missed the final. Then he finished a strong second to Courtly Choice in an elimination of the Empire Breeders Classic before drawing post seven in the final, finding himself chasing a 1:48.3 mile from the back of the pack. He draws post four in a short field here and has Jason Bartlett up for the ride. Also looking to get the win are Real Surreal (So Surreal-Armbro Wallflower) who finished third in the Empire Breeders Classic, pacing in 1:50 in defeat while Ostro Hanover (Betterthancheddar-Ozmopolitan) makes his fourth start for his new trainer after winning a 1:52.4 NYSS race at Saratoga Raceway. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

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