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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  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Rene Allard admits Springsteen can be a complicated horse to deal with and the challenge is reflected in the colt’s results. His sophomore season has been a mix of impressive miles and dull efforts. He won the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial and two divisions of New York Sire Stakes, but came up flat in the Carl Milstein, Adios, and Art Rooney Pace.  Allard looks to make amends for the Rooney loss when he sends Springsteen out in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes Saturday night (Sept. 1), slated as race seven on a stakes-laden card. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven drew the inside while rival Jimmy Freight landed post eight. “We’re happy with the season. Obviously, he threw a couple clinkers, there’s a couple races I wish he would have shown up better,” Allard said. “The final of the Art Rooney, he tied up that start and then the start at Northfield. Other than that, he’s a nice horse, he’s got high speed. We’re happy with him.” Springsteen suffers from tying up when he trains too hard and deals with trying conditions, like long trips to the races and drastic changes in the weather. He can also be a difficult horse to drive. All these factors converged two starts back in the Milstein. After shipping all the way to Ohio, Springsteen choked in the race when Lather Up broke to his outside on the second turn. “He had some tying up issues and he choked. (Lather Up) made a break and he shut his air off. He’s a real tricky horse,” Allard said. “When he sees the gate, he gets a little grabby and sometimes he shuts his air off. When he shuts his air off, that’s it, the race is over. That’s why the drivers have to be a little careful with him.  “If he doesn’t tie up and doesn’t shut his air off, he’s probably as good as any 3-year-old colt out there,” Allard continued. “So, we just kind of keep our fingers crossed that everything goes good and have the equipment on him to control him and so far, 90 percent of the time it’s been working out.” Everything worked out in the Hempt Final at Pocono Downs June 30. Springsteen followed the cover of Hitman Hill and Lather Up as Dorsoduro Hanover paced through a :53.1 opening half-mile. Simon Allard tugged on the right line before the three-quarters and Springsteen charged three-wide. He circled Lather Up past a 1:20.2 panel, the 1-9 favorite off his North America Cup and Hempt elimination wins offering no resistance.  Allard drove Springsteen confidently into the stretch, the colt drifting wide and the driver still holding the whip over his shoulder as he leaned flat in the bike. Allard finally went to the whip in the final sixteen as Nutcracker Sweet shot through up the passing lane and put a head in front. Allard sat up in the bike and gave Springsteen a pair of right-handers and the colt extended, edging his nose in front just as the glow of the finish line lights appeared. He registered a head win in 1:48.3. “He’s definitely got high speed and he’s a nice horse and it’s been a very fun ride, for sure,” Allard said. Allard bought Springsteen with Bruce Soulsby midway through his 2-year-old season. After watching Springsteen use a :26.1 final quarter to finish second in a Metro Pace elimination at Mohawk last September for Chris Ryder, Allard and Soulsby finally came to an agreement to purchase the horse during the Grand Circuit meet at the Red Mile, adding partners Alan Weisenberg and Kapildeo Singh.  Springsteen finished seventh in the International Stallion Stakes in Lexington Oct. 7, but the June 2 foal kept on improving. He registered his first win in a $12,000 maiden at Pocono Oct. 22 and won the Matron at Dover in his next start. Springsteen capped his freshman year with a win in the Governor’s Cup elimination and a seventh in the final after being parked the mile. “We watched him finish second in the Metro Pace elimination and he came a huge last quarter. That’s when he caught my eye and I was talking to Bruce Soulsby about it and we ended up making a deal in Lexington. Chris Ryder did a tremendous job training him down and getting him ready,” Allard said. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t keep on going and keep on improving. Last year, toward the end of the year he just kept getting better and better.” Springsteen finished a distant second to Jimmy Freight in his Messenger elimination last week, pacing a 1:51.2 mile and finishing 3 ¾ lengths behind the latter’s track-record effort. Off a 14-day break since his Milstein effort, Allard was happy with the trial. “He was first-over to a horse that was just unbelievable. That was a huge mile, off 14 days and we don’t do a lot with him between races,” Allard said. “He’s one of those that you can’t train real hard between races, so I expect him to be a little better this week. I think he should be tighter. We just kind of keep him on his routine, light work every day. We don’t work him real hard, just kind of steady all week. No hard, fast miles, a lot of slow miles.” Springsteen already won the Messenger post position draw. Although Springsteen typically doesn’t show early speed, Allard loves the prospect of starting along the pylons while Jimmy Freight will start from the far outside. Last week’s other elimination winner, Babes Dig Me, drew post five while the other runner-up, JK Wildfire, drew post four. Stay Hungry will try to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive from post six. Winston, Topville Olympian, and Nutcracker Sweet complete the lineup. “Everything kind of has to go his way, but he has high speed and I think he’s in a good spot there. He’s got the rail, the best horse has the eight hole. I think the draw could not work any better,” Allard said. “Brian (Sears) is going to have to work his magic. Of all the drivers at Yonkers, Brian is one of if not the best ones and I have a lot of confidence in him, so I’m going to let him do his thing.” Saturday’s card also features the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-olds in race six where Six Pack is favored over Helpisontheway. Lindsey`s Pride, Lindy`s Big Bang, Maxus, Mississippi Storm, Tito, and The Veteran will try to upend the favorites. The filly companions to the Messenger and Yonkers Trot, the $129,014 Hudson Trot and $122,904 Lady Maud Pace go as races four and five, respectively. The night’s $44,000 Open Handicap Pace goes to post in race eight and features Bit Of A Legend and Evenin Of Pleasure. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N, coming off a 1:51.4 mile from post nine - two days ago - returned to the red clay oval at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono just over 48 hours later, and far from looking any the worse for wear, she parlayed a class drop and an improved post into a 1:51.2 victory. Driver Simon Allard had the winner of $164,619 outside and second-over behind the lively cover of Princess Fabulosa, then got a 27 last quarter out of his charge to have him 1½ lengths clear of her opposition at the end of the $17,500 mares conditioned pacing feature. A seven-time winner this year,  Eclipse Me N is trained by Simon's brother Rene, the meet's leading conditioner, for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae. George Napolitano Jr. had four more winners on the Tuesday card, giving him 17 over the for-day Pocono week and, with two cards at Philly since last Friday, 25 wins in a 5-day period. The draw for Sunday's $1.5M spectacular card of racing, featuring four $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds and three $100,000 Championships for the Great Northeast Open Series, contained about everything anybody could realistically want, and then some. True fans of the sport will not want to miss the excellent racing this Sunday at The Downs, with first post set for 7 p.m. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - In the $17,500 distaff harness racing pacing feature Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N looked to be in trouble while still midpack as pacesetter Betabcool N got a Sta-Puf soft half of 58, but her strong late rally got her to the wire first by a neck in 1:53. Betabcool N put Keystone Riptide in behind her earlier, and the easy 28.2 quarter surprised some - then the timer flashed 58 to the half, about the Pocono norm for "nw 3" trotters. Simon Allard had moved Eclipse Me N into second-up position behind favored Princess Fabulosa and gained to the 1:25.1 3/4, then swung wide late on the turn and continued to gain, just edging the pacesetter on the money, with Princess Fabulosa holding for third. Simon's brother Rene trains the winner of $149,369, who came her personal last half in a crackling 54.1, for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald MacRae. His namesake in the squared circle usually struck with lightning efficiency before getting the decision, but the equine Goldberg proved to be more a power grinder as the freshman took his purse debut in 1:54.3. The son of Mr Wiggles - Chausettes Blanche (who unfortunately died while carrying a full brother to Goldberg) was put in second-over position by owner/driver Montrell Teague before the walking 59.2 half, waited until midturn to tip off his fast-moving cover, then finished out his own last half in 54.4 to win by 1¾ lengths without urging. Brenda Teague trains the promising youngster, and she and her brother George certainly remember another two-year-old from the stable who broke his maiden at Pocono - a horse you may have heard of named Wiggle It Jiggleit. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, July 29, 2018--One odds-on choice sizzled and one odds-on choice fizzled Monday night (July 30th) during Yonkers Raceway's $172,000 New York Sire Stakes Bruce Hamilton Pace for 3-year-old colts and geldings. The event once again honored the memory one of the state's true get-it-done gentlemen, whose contributions to the industry were way too numerous to mention here. The Monday sizzling was done by Springsteen (Dave Miller, $2.50), who sat a loose, second-over trip before closing ranks and powering away in the $85,250 first division. Away fourth from post position No. 2, Springsteen saw revved up polester Lyons Steel (Scott Zeron) set early fractions of :26.4 and :55.1. Topville Olympian (Brian Sears) then made his second move, prompted in and out of a 1:23.1 three quarters. Meanwhile, Springsteen was meandering behind Topville Olympian, taking his time to tag him before going wide in the final turn. He did take over, opening a length in and out of the final turn before widening to 2¾ lengths at the spiffy 1:51.1 wire. Rootin' Tootin' (Mark MacDonald) was behind the winner and chased him home, with Topville Olympian, Twin B Tuffenuff (George Brennan) and Lyons Steel coming away with the minors. For Springsteen, a Hempt-winning son of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Bruce Soulsby, Alan Weisenberg and Kapildeo Singh, it was his third win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $10.20, the triple returned $19.80 and the superfecta paid $69. "He's at his best in the back end of the race," Miller said. "I really thought they'd go (fractions of) :27 and :57, so when saw the first half, I figured we were in good shape. "I'm just the passenger when he's as good as he was tonight." Monday night's second ($86,750) and final division, alas, didn't charm the chalk players. Art Rooney Pace winner Trump Nation (Jason Bartlett), at 35-cent-on-the-dollar this evening, was ground into in last among the octet. Sitting third early behind My Delight (Brent Holland) and Ghost Dance (Zeron), Trump Nation moved to the lead between a :27.4 opening quarter-mile and :56.3 intermission. That didn't impress Ghost Dance, who took out of third to go after the people's preference. Pole-sitting Heavenly Sound (Jim Marohn Jr.) was able to work from second-over. Ghost Dance draw even at the 1:24.1 three-quarters, sticking his nose out entering the lane. Meanwhile, that duel just empowered Heavenly Sound ($14.80), who whipped a third-over Ostro Hanover (Miller) by a length in 1:52.4. My Delight crossed the line third, but was set down to fifth for lane interference. That lifted Stendahl Hanover (Marcus Miller) and Rockapelo (Sears) to third and fourth, respectively. For third choice Heavenly Sound, a Rock N Roll Heaven colt owned by M&M Harness Racing and trained by Bruce Saunders, it was his fifth win in 15 '18 tries. The exacta paid $92, the triple returned $970 and the superfecta paid $5,380. "He negotiated the turns better here than his last start (Saratoga)," Saunders said. "We made a few equipment changes and the trip certainly didn't hurt." Bruce Hamilton's brothers, Scott (with daughter Faith) and Keith, joined in the winner's circle presentations. New York Sire Stakes continue here Tuesday night (Aug. 7th), with the Mike Cipriani Trot (3-year-old fillies). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Chester, PA --- Perched third-over up the far side, Independent One ($4.60) circled four-wide en route to a 1:51.4 win in Sunday afternoon's (July 29) $17,000 featured pace at Harrah's Philadelphia.   After racing second from last in the early stages while Xpert Bayama (Corey Callahan) and Commentariat (Andy McCarthy) disputed the lead through fractions of :26.4 and :54.4.   Simon Allard then angled the 4-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding third-over up the far side into a late-developing outer flow. As Rough Odds (George Napolitano Jr.) advanced to press Xpert Bayama on the far turn after a :28.2 third sectional, Independent One stayed right on the helmet of Drinkin Again (Eric Carlson), who swung three-wide to the lead an eighth from home. Independent One vaulted clear as the pace collapsed and beat Drinkin Again by 1-1/4 lengths, while Sossy's King Kong (Brett Miller) rallied from astern to take third.   Independent One captured his sixth career win for trainer Vincent Fusco Jr. In addition to handling the driving duties, Allard shares ownership of Independent One with Bruce Soulsby, Allen Weisenberg and Niss Allen Inc.   Trainer Lou Peña recorded his 3,000th career win in one of two $14,500 sub-featured events, teaming up with Eric Carlson for a 1:52.1 victory with Skyful Of Lighters ($29.40).   The 7-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding was left uncovered with a circuit to go, sustained progress up the backstretch, and wore down pacesetter Cyamach N (Pat Berry) to win by half a length. José Cervantes owns the 20-time winner.   The other sub-featured pace saw Rock The Nite ($6.80, Napolitano) dig deep to parry a stern first-over threat from Grand Teton (Andy McCarthy) to earn his 18th career win in 1:50. Andrew Harris trains the 6-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding for Robert Key.   Multiple players hit the afternoon's 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 in race five, resulting in a carryover of $1,072.27 to Wednesday afternoon's (Aug. 1) card. First post is scheduled for 12:25 p.m.   by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia

Gruden (Muscles Yankee) added trotting hopples a few weeks ago after enduring breaking trouble in previous months. The Rene Allard trainee won the qualifier at Pocono with hopples on and was dynamic at Saratoga Casino Hotel last week while winning his local debut in 1:55. Gruden moved up in company on Tuesday night as he took part in the $12,000 Winners Over. The five year old trotter who scored nine wins in seventeen tries in 2017 was bet down as the 1-9 favorite on Tuesday Leading driver Billy Dobson moved Gruden out to the early lead, paying a bit of a stiff price to get to the top. Parked at the start, Gruden crossed over to cut the mile after guiding the way through a first quarter of 27 seconds. The big favorite had little difficultly opening up a big lead but was beginning to tire as a pair of dangers, Silent Pine (Bruce Cooper) and Entranced (Dan Cappello Jr) were making steady progress towards the leader. Gruden had enough to hang on and win in 1:56 while Silent Pine came up second best. Entranced earned the show spot. Live racing continues on Wednesday evening at Saratoga with a 7:05pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

A stalled weather front brought us a lot of rain this past week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, leading to a bunch of sloppy tracks at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The geese loved it, as evidenced by the one who managed to actually show up in a photo finish with one of the horses on Sunday night. As for the horses, there were some strange occurrences and bizarre outcomes, showing that you never can tell in this sport. Here are the finest performances, as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HURRICANE BEACH On Sunday night, it poured rain on and off, leading to an ever-changing track condition that eventually settled on sloppy for the end of the program. In the final race, a $17,000 condition pace for five-year-old and younger winners from three to seven races, Hurricane Beach, a new addition to the Rene Allard barn, was made the 2-1 favorite from post position #8 in a field of nine. Other than expecting it to be a competitive field with some excellent pacers, there wasn't anything in the ledger to suggest we were in line for something special. Hurricane Beach, a four-year-old gelding who came into the race with a modest record of two wins in nine races this season, had other ideas. Driver Simon Allard cut him loose, and he scorched the mud to the tune of a :25.1 opening quarter. The ridiculously fast number was eye-popping, but there are many horses that can go wild for a quarter-mile. It was the half-mile time that really left us all slack-jawed, as Hurricane Beach tripped the timer in :51.2, a new world record for the fastest ever half on a 5/8-mile oval. On a sloppy track. Hurricane Beach kept up his tear to the three-quarter pole, hitting it in 1:19.3. It was only in the stretch that he began to ease up a little, but by then he was well ahead of the rest of the stunned field. His winning time was 1:49.4, a new career-best and the fastest of the week at Pocono, and he defeated the field by 7 ¼ lengths. For those who stuck around for that closing race on that rainy night, they witnessed something special. Other top pacers include: Big N Bad (George Napolitano Jr., Gareth Dowse), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap win on Saturday night against the highest-priced claimers on the grounds, managing this victory in 1:52.3 in the slop; Attention Hanover (Simon Allard, Steve Salerno), who moved up in class on Sunday night and rallied for his third straight condition win, two of which have come at Pocono with the other at Harrah's, in 1:54 in the slop; and Rockstar Angel A (Brett Miller, Chris Oakes), an Australian invader who made a striking United States debut at Pocono on Tuesday night, winning the featured condition pace for mares in 1:52.4 in the slop. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BOFFIN As veteran trotters go, there are few around who seem to do damage at Pocono every single year they appear quite like this warrior trained by Anette Lorentzon. Now aged eight, Boffin arrived at Pocono in June in a rare slump, having come up empty in four races in the Midwest. Coming to his old stomping grounds immediately energized him, as he handled an $11,000 condition field on June 18 at Pocono to get his first win of the season. That win must have given him a taste, because Boffin followed that up with another victory, this time over a $14,000 group in 1:52.4 on June 30. This past Sunday, he was at it again in the rainy conditions, once again moving up in class to face off with a $17,500 class. Even with the step up the ladder, the bettors were wise to the caliber of this gelding and made Boffin a 3-5 favorite leaving from post position #4 in an excellent field of nine. George Napolitano Jr., who has driven Boffin to many a victory over the years, decided to end the suspense early, as he quickly sent him to the front end. From there, the rest of the field, which was comprised of accomplished trotters, looked like amateurs in his wake. Boffin never really endured any challenge to his supremacy, and he steadily opened up the lead until he came home a 4 ¾-length winner at the end of the mile. His winning time, even in the slop, was a solid 1:54.1, giving him three straight victories. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Uknow What To Do (Anthony Morgan, Rene Allard), who moved up in class on Saturday night and scored his second straight condition win, this one in 1:56.2 in the slop; Alpha D'Urzy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who followed up a win in his U.S. debut at Saratoga with a condition victory at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:57.4 in the off conditions; and Satin Dancer (Matt Kakaley, Travis Alexander), a mare whose win in Sunday night's featured condition trot in 1:53 matched a career-best and represented the fastest trotting mile of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CASINO DIRECTOR This pacer driven by Tyler Buter sent the folks home shocked with a condition win in the finale on Monday night at 36-1, paying off $74 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY One of the most consistent performers at Pocono on a regular basis, Kakaley did his usual damage this week, picking up six combined wins in three nights of racing. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GARETH DOWSE There has been no hotter barn on the grounds for the past month or so, and Dowse solidified that hot streak with three more training wins this week. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, July 17, 2018 - Hempt winner Springsteen, North America Cup runner-up Done Well and Meadowlands Pace runner-up Dorsuduro Hanover lead a field of 16 into the 52nd edition of the $450,000 (est) Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows. Eliminations are set for Saturday, July 21 first post 1:05 PM, while the final headlines a blockbuster Saturday, July 28 card that also features five other Grand Circuit stakes. The Adios Day program begins at noon. The first four finishers in each elimination, plus the fifth-place finisher with higher career earnings, return for the final. Elimination winners will choose their post positions for the final - their selection order will be determined by draw - with all other post positions determined by random draw on Tuesday, July 24. Springsteen, who hasn't had a pari-mutuel start since winning the $500,000 Hempt final on June 30, turned in a sharp July 11 qualifier, winning in 1:52 with a 26.1 final panel. Simon Allard is scheduled to drive the son of Rock N Roll Heaven-American Charm for trainer Rene Allard and owners Allard Racing Inc., Bruce Soulsby, Alan Weisenberg and Kapildeo Singh. He'll leave from the rail in the second elimination. Done Well followed up his sharp performance in the North America Cup with a pair of fourth-place finishes in the Hempt. Trainer Brian Brown has given the son of Well Said-Dagnabit Hanover a breather since then. James Stambaugh, Wingfield Brothers LLC, Milton Leeman and Alan Keith campaign Done Well, who'll have the services of Tim Tetrick when he leaves from post 7 in the first elimination. Dorsoduro Hanover had a monstrous Meadowlands Pace final, overcoming post 10 and closing in 26.4 - despite his 57-1 odds - and was beaten only 1-1/4 lengths by Courtly Choice. The Somebeachsomewhere-Deer Valley Miss gelding has drawn post 3 in the second elimination for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Silva, Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Wingfield Five. Matt Kakaley is listed to drive. Burke with four and Tony Alagna with three are the only trainers with multiple entrants. The eliminations will go as races 12 and 13. Here are the fields in post position order with trainers and tentative driving assignments: Elimination 1, Race 12 1. Summer Travel Andrew Harris/David Miller 2. No Easy Day Burke/Kakaley 3. American History Alagna/Yannick Gingras 4. Shadow Cat John Butenschoen/Corey Callahan 5. Bambino Joe Greg Wright, Jr./Aaron Merriman 6. GD Western Joe Burke/Gingras 7. Done Well Brown/Tetrick 8. Wes Delight Mark Harder/Callahan   Elimination 2, Race 13 1. Springsteen Allard/Allard 2. Larry Karr Burke/Gingras 3. Dorsoduro Hanover Burke/Kakaley 4. Hitman Hill Chris Oakes/Brett Miller 5. Thinkbig Dreambig Jimmy Takter/Jordan Stratton 6. Odds On Lauderdale Alagna/Scott Zeron 7. Western Beachboy Christen Pantaleano/Jim Pantaleano 8. Babes Dig Me Alagna/Brett Miller   by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

YONKERS, N.Y. – Although SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo oversaw the selection of the 24 trotters for the French American Trotting Club, even he was surprised when Alpha d’Urzy showed up to qualify Saturday (July 7) at Yonkers wearing only an open bridle, an ear hood, and trotting boots with no overcheck or poles. The trotter wears less equipment than any horse in trainer Rene Allard’s stable. I said, ‘Joe, it’s because we understand each other. I speak French to him,” Allard said. “He just laughed.” With his minimal equipment, Alpha d’Urzy led at every call of the 1 ¼-mile trial with Jason Bartlett in the sulky. He stopped the timer in 2:32.4 and posted a :29.1 final quarter, besting Aladin du Dollar by 4 ½ lengths. “He trotted a good back-half. He’s good-gaited, he’s straight, and he gets around the turns perfect,” Allard said. “I barely have any equipment on him and he gets around Yonkers perfect. Maybe I just got really lucky. Jason said he was even better on the turns than in the straightaways.” Alpha d’Urzy is an 8-year-old son of Opus Viervil out of Amazone River and sports a 6-for-56 record with 118,550€ earned. He’s one of 22 French geldings who shipped to New York last month for the SOA of NY’s new series, which begins August 5. Two of the 24 trotters were unable to make the trip to America as they got sick and were unable to pass the stringent quarantine testing requirements for importation. The series required 24 participants to buy in at $28,000, with $25,000 allocated to purchasing the horse and $3,000 to travel. Trainers Ray Schnittker, Ron Burke, and Mike Lachance hand-picked the trotters and the horses were distributed to their new connections in a random draw. “I was the first one that sent the check in, as soon as I heard about it,” Allard said. “I’m always into progress and love to see new things happen and be involved in it. I thought it was a great to have a chance to get horses from a different place. I went to the Prix d’Amérique with my father for his 60th birthday and I went to all the farms. I was excited about it, especially knowing they were going to do races just for them.” Although Allard kept his expectations in check, he’s been pleasantly surprised by Alpha d’Urzy so far. The trotter arrived at his stable in great shape and was eager to get to work. “He looked really healthy, really good, he had a nice coat on him, he was in great shape. His front-end is a little narrow, but other than that, he looked good. When I trained him the first time, he looked like he was really fit, really in great shape,” Allard said. “Whoever took care of him for the few weeks before we got him, obviously they did the right thing and kept the horses in good form.” Since Alpha d’Urzy’s arrival in mid-June, Allard has trained the gelding two 1 ½-mile trips. Both times, the trotter impressed without exerting himself. “I trained him the first time and he did it really effortless and he was really fit,” Allard said. “I came back the week after, I trained him faster. I gave him a good back-half, good last quarter and he wouldn’t blow a candle out. He was really fit and really in great shape. I figured there was no sense in waiting, I’d just put him in to qualify.” The quick turnaround came to Allard’s surprise. Accustomed to horses arriving from Australia and New Zealand underweight, stressed, and sick due to the change in seasons from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere, Allard was happy to see Alpha d’Urzy handled his trip across the Atlantic well. “My horse never got sick, never missed a meal. He adjusted really well,” he said. “When he got here, I could have raced three days later, he was perfect. When they got here, I thought it was going to take a while before they were ready. I was even concerned about being ready in the beginning of August for the series, but surprisingly, mine came really great.” Allard’s experience has been shared by trainer Chris Oakes, who received 7-year-old trotter Bioness. The son of Sam Bourbon and Quiradelle D'hilly earned 119,590€ in 40 European starts before shipping to the U.S. When he arrived at Oakes barn, Bioness drew comparisons to Oakes’ $1.2 million earning trotter Homicide Hunter. “I love him, I absolutely love him, loved him right from day one,” Oakes said. “Big strong good-looking horse. I have a horse called Homicide Hunter and that’s who he reminded me of. Even when I trained him I told people, this horse reminds me of ‘Homicide.’ It’s funny because nobody knows what horse you’re going to get, you know nothing about any of them, other than you’re getting a horse. Rene came up and looked at him in the paddock at the qualifiers and he said, ‘this thing looks just like Homicide Hunter.’ ” Oakes found Bioness to be good-gaited, good-mannered, and intelligent. Like Alpha d’Urzy, the trotter wears minimal equipment. “I had no equipment card of any kind. Just a horse: four legs and a tail. You just feel them out as you go,” Oakes explained. “I could see he was sensible, so I ended up going with an open bridle. I could see the way he traveled, he didn’t need any boots at all. I just put a light set of trotting boots on and that was it. He’s very clean-gaited and wears next to nothing. I think we drew a nice horse.” Oakes put Bioness into an American style of training and the gelding responded. Oakes also thinks ample time spent turned out has helped the trotter adjust to his new surroundings. “I basically put him into our American style of training. I’ve got my own farm, so he’ll train and then he gets turned out a lot. I’m sure they’re used to that, they like that and I’m fortunate enough I’ve got my own farm, so they spend a lot of time out in the field just to keep them happy,” Oakes said. “He seems to have adapted really well. I’ve only had him here two or three weeks. I put him right to work and he didn’t skip a beat. He’s happy with his new home and seems to have adapted to our style. It’s going to be a little different than what he’s used to, but he shows he’s got speed.” Bioness qualified last Wednesday (July 4) at Pocono Downs with Oakes’ 20-year-old son Hunter in the sulky. It was Hunter’s first time in a charted race and he made his father proud. Bioness tracked in third throughout the 1-mile trial. Although he was 4-lengths behind Allard-trainee Gruden at the three-quarters, Bioness came home in :28.1 to finish second beaten just a neck. He was individually timed in 1:56.1. I just told him, ‘be careful out there. Make it a good experience for the horse and yourself.’ He’s very conservative with the horse and said if he had asked him he would have won it easy,” Oakes said. “(Hunter) has been training and schooling behind the gate, but never in a real charted race. I’m really very proud of him because he did a really nice job and it went really well and I’m going to let him qualify again this coming week.” Yonkers will host qualifiers exclusively for the French Trotters at the 1 ¼-mile distance July 14 and 21 ahead of the start of the French American Trotting Club Series August 5. The second and third legs of the series will be held August 19 and 26, respectively and the $100,000 final is set for September 2. For more information, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Vernon, NY - Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Sportswriter) had raced twice in the Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel this spring before the Rene Allard trainee went to Pennsylvania to compete for a couple of months. The six year old harness racing pacer returned to the Spa on Saturday night with an Open win and a second place finish to his credit from his starts in May. Maxdaddy Blue Chip made his return to town a winning one as the 1-5 betting favorite in the $14,500 Saturday feature. Reinsman Billy Dobson moved Maxdaddy Blue Chip out to the early lead and together they enjoyed a very comfortable first lap that was paced in 56.2. The favorite never faced a legitimate challenge and lengthened his lead seemingly with every stride before pacing away from his rivals to prevail in 1:51.3 on a beautiful summer night in Saratoga Springs, NY. Deetzy (Jimmy Devaux), who parlayed his pocket ride to victory in last week's Open, again got the two-hole trip on Saturday night but had to settle for a strong second place finish. Longshot Tullow N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Maxdaddy Blue Chip, who won fifteen times in 2017, prevailed for the third time in '18. The meet's leading driver, Dobson piloted three winners on the Saturday card. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, July 1, 2018-Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Dube, $7.40) snapped his rivals at the wire Sunday afternoon (July 1st), winning Yonkers Raceway's hot and steamy $44,000 Open Handicap Trot. The weekly trotting feature, commemorating Canada Day in the Lower 48, was not included in the 'French' four-pack which began the card. Rather, the flat-mile festivities saw lass N F Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.)-assigned outside her half-dozen foes-parked into the second turn and past a :27.1 opening quarter-mile before making the lead. She did rate a :30.1 next substation (:57.2 intermission) as her sister in arms, Weslynn Dancer (Jason Bartlett), moved first-up from fourth. That towed Smalltownthrowdown, unhurried from post position No. 6, within striking distance. N F Happenstance, though, led in and out a 1:26 three-quarters, with a length-and-a-half advantage off the final turn. The leading lady hung tough, but could not stall Smalltownthrowdown. That one edged past late, winning by a neck in 1:55...his fastest purse win time of the season. N F Happenstance held second, with 13-10 favorite DW"S NY Yank (George Brennan) relegated to a pocket third. Weslynn Dancer and Bluebird Jesse (Brent Holland) came away with the minors. For second choice 'Smalltown,' a 5-year-old Cash Hall gelding co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Yves Sarazin, VIP Internet Stable and Bruce Soulsby, it was his third win in eight seasonal starts (20th career victory). The exacta paid $50.50, the triple returned $163 and the superfecta paid $593. Special props to Brennan for a 10-win weekend (four Friday, five Saturday, one Sunday afternoon) over a 30-race span. Sunday's scheduled rendition of the 'New York, New York Double' was cancelled after Belmont Park deferred to the heat and scrapped its card. The next Sunday matinee is July 15st (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Wilkes-Barre, PA --- Springsteen rocked to a 15-1 upset in Saturday's (June 30) $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where favorite Lather Up went off stride and suffered his first loss in eight starts this year. Springsteen and driver Simon Allard used a three-wide move at three-quarters and overcame Nutcracker Sweet by a head to win in 1:48.3. Hitman Hill finished third. Stay Hungry led the field to the first quarter in :26 before giving the top spot to Dorsoduro Hanover by the half-mile point, which was reached in :53.1. Lather Up, the North America Cup champion, made a first-over move on the backstretch but was unable to get to the front, leaving Springsteen to make a three-wide move as the group hit three-quarters in 1:20.2. In the stretch, Nutcracker Sweet moved to the inside and got the lead, but was unable to hold off Springsteen. Lather Up, who got roughly gaited going around the first turn, went off stride as he came off the final turn and was seventh-placed-eighth in the field of nine. "All I worry about is my horse being nice and relaxed," Allard said. "He's always so angry and wants to go fast. The fact they were going real fast to the half, I never had to grab into him and he was nice and relaxed. Whenever we can tip him whenever he wants to go, that's the thing to do. "We didn't know how good of a 3-year-old he was going to be. We went through a little bit of a problem with him tying up but right now everything is back good. He's ready for a good summer I guess." Springsteen is a son of Rock N Roll Heaven out of American Charm. He has won two of five races this year and five of 19 in his career, good for earnings of $479,423. The colt is owned by Allard Racing, Bruce Soulsby, Alan Weisenberg, and Kapildeo Singh. Springsteen paid $32.60 to win. Max C. Hempt was a renowned Pennsylvania-based breeder, whose horses were known for the prefix "Keystone," as well as a longtime director of the U.S. Trotting Association and Hambletonian Society. He served as the Hambletonian Society president from 1966-1984 and the creation of the Breeders Crown series evolved under his leadership. Hempt, who passed away in 1999, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1980. The Art Major colt Courtly Choice set the speedy tone for the evening by winning the $75,000 Hempt Pace Consolation in 1:48.4, equaling his mark and setting a national season's record. David Miller spotted fourth with Courtly Choice while I'm A Big Deal and Done Well battled well past a wicked :25.3 opening quarter, with Done Well claiming the top at the three-eighths and rolling on to the :53.2 half. Miller and Courtly Choice, who was the choice of the bettors, quickly got in gear down the backstretch, went by Done Well with no difficulty before the 1:21.1 three-quarter pole, and then finished out on his own, 12-1/2 lengths ahead of his rivals. Courtly Choice, now a winner of $148,596 for trainer Blake MacIntosh and the ownership of Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms, evidently has the speed to give with the division's best -- what he still needs to master is how to draw a good post. He had post eight of nine in the North America Cup eliminations, was a troubled fifth, won the Cup Consolation, then drew post nine of nine in the Hempt elimination against Lather Up and had too far to come on the speed-favoring Pocono oval. by Ken Weingartner & PHHA/Pocono Downs    

While Saturday night's Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel featured the return of defending Horse of the Year Artful Way, it was a different returnee who wound up prevailing in the $14,500 feature. Somewhere Fancy (Somebeachsomewhere) has been competing at a high level at Yonkers for much of this season and was assigned post five in a six-horse Saturday Open. Billy Dobson piloted the Rene Allard trainee and powered him out to early lead. Part of a speed duel in the early going, Somewhere Fancy set sizzling fractions of 26.3 and 54.4 in the first half. Facing just mild pressure, Somewhere Fancy stepped on the gas and kicked away from his rivals after posting three quarters in 1:23 and cruised to victory in 1:51.1. Panocchio (Gerry Mattison) toughed it out first over and wound up as the runner-up in the Open Pace for the second consecutive week while Lachie Maguire N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Artful Way, who was coming from last and got caught very wide in the final half, never wound up being a factor as the race's even money favorite. Somewhere Fancy, who has competed locally in the past, returned $6.20 to win in his first score in the local Open. The exacta and triple paid $40.60 and $116, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

WILKES-BARRE PA - The 2017 Pacer of the Year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Maxdaddy Blue Chip, visited the Downs winners circle for the first time in 2018, unleashing his patented late charge to capture the $21,500 feature on Saturday night. The 4-5 favored Sportswriter gelding was well-positioned second-over by driver Simon Allard, then started his surge three-wide midturn and carried it to the wire, which he reached ¾ of a length ahead of Waikiki Beach A. Maxdaddy Blue Chip is trained by Simon's brother and the meet's leading conditioner, Rene Allard, for Allard Racing Inc., Alycon Stable, How's That Stables Inc., and VIP Internet Stables LLC. The track's leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., was honored in the Pocono winners circle early in the evening for earning career driving victory #9000 on Monday night, making him only the 21st North American member of that exclusive club. Then "George Nap" went out and showed he was in a hurry to get to 10,000, scoring eight times on the card, including in the $18,000 claiming handicap pacing feature with the red-hot Major Trick, a gelded son of Art Major who made two speed moves in searing early fractions of 26.2 and 53.4, opened a big lead to the 1:21.4 ¾ pole, then stayed clear by 1¾ lengths to the wire in 1:50.1. The winner of $339,088, a five-time winner in his last six starts, is trained by Hunter Oakes for owner Omar Beiler. Napolitano also won the fastest mile of the night, a 1:48.4 triumph with the world champion (OPG-hmt) Scott Rocks. Finally, Walks Of Life, who was a gallant second while trying to increase his North American-leading 2018 win total to 14, will be doing something that he hasn't done since March 24 - returning to the same barn from which he started the night, in this case that of Team Allard. The tough claimer had been taken from his 12 previous starts, but attracted no claims tonight, and thus that streak is halted one shy of what is believed to be the longest series of a horse being claimed, the 13 purchases transacted for R Gauwitz Hanover in 2015. (But thirteen other horses were claimed on the Saturday card, with $223,750 changing hands.) From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - LMC Mass Gem overcame a double jump in class, post eight, a sloppy track, and being parked 3/8 of a mile before getting the top, surmounting the adversity to post a 1¼-length 1:56.3 triumph in the $17,500 featured trot over a sloppy track Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Muscle Mass gelding is certainly in the winning grove right now, having taken two straight, three of his last four, and seven of fifteen 2018 starts. Here he defeated Crosbys Clam Bake, who also brushed off covering extra real estate to photo out favored sophomore Whats The Word, facing elders after two straight in the Sire Stakes. Simon Allard, a five-time winner on the night, guided the winner of $215,805 for trainer/brother Rene, the meet leader who added three to his total Sunday, and the partnership of Bruce Soulsby, VIP Internet Stable LLC, Kapildeo Singh, and Earl Hill Jr. Three $17,000 co-features sported two fields of trotters and one of pacers. The first trot was taken by the Glidemaster gelding Joey Pro, who had an explosive last 1/8 to see him come from fifth to take a 2 1/2 length victory in 1:57.1 for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer John Hallett, and owner Mark Wamp. In the other, the brothers Allard combined with another son of sire Muscle Mass, the gelding Zagster, who raced to command at the ¾, then held off a late charge by Critical Mass to take a photo victory, also in 1:57.1. Zagster has now won $165,489 for Allard Racing Inc. and Kapildeo Singh. In the pacing contest, Xpert Bayama grabbed the lead quickly for driver Matt Kakaley, then scooted home in 56 to complete a 1:54.2 victory while 2¼ lengths to the good. The victorious altered son of Up The Credit has won three of his last five for trainer Ron Burke and the omnipresent duo of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

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