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All systems appear to be go for early Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank, who marched to an easy 2½-length win in his first start as a 3-year-old in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for harness racing trotting colts and geldings Friday night at the Meadowlands. "He was Frank," said winning trainer Ron Burke. "He couldn't have been any better. It's what we expect from him." The son of Muscle Hill was unhurried early, and made his way to the top shortly after vacating the four hole at the three-eighths after an opening quarter of :27.4. Meeting little in the way of resistance, driver Yannick Gingras was able to relax his colt and cut moderate fractions of :57 and 1:25 before kicking home in :27.1 to win going away in a lifetime-best 1:52.1. Brooklyn Hill was second while Bar Hopping finished third. As the 1-9 public choice, Southwind Frank, who is now 12-for-13 lifetime, returned $2.20 to win for owners Southwind Frank Partners. Earlier on the card, All The Time ($2.10), a major Hambletonian Oaks contender, crushed seven overmatched foes by 7¼-lengths in a division of the NJSS for 3-year-old trotting fillies in 1:53.2, a lifetime mark. Hillosophical was second with Southwind Pearl third. Once again, it was Gingras calling the shots, but this time it was with a Jimmy Takter trainee. The 2015 Breeders Crown champion has now won eight of 13 lifetime starts for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. STILL GROWING: The 12th race 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five, which has not been hit the entire meeting, failed to have a single-ticket winner again, upping the carryover to $226,527.68 for the next card. ... All-source wagering on the program totaled $2,693,370. ... Rose Run Parker ($10.40) held off 3-5 favorite Obrigado to win the $25,000 open handicap trot in a lifetime-best 1:50.4. ... The Big M is back with live racing Saturday at 7:15 p.m. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

The road to August's $1 million Hambletonian Stakes resumes this weekend with a slew of harness racing, including the first appearance of the year by early-season Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank. And trainer Ron Burke, who conditions Southwind Frank, couldn't be happier. "I'm excited," Burke said. "I'm ready to get going. I'm glad he's racing. "You want to start seeing if he's as good as you think he is. If not, you want to know what you need to work on. But I'm hoping that right off the bat it's good and it just stays good. We just need a little luck and I think he'll take care of the rest. He trained down super and seems great." Southwind Frank, who finished his 2015 campaign with 10 consecutive victories, makes his seasonal debut in Friday's opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Southwind Frank and driver Yannick Gingras will start from post four in a 12-horse field and are the 7-5 morning line favorite. Other Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the race are Bar Hopping, Brooklyn Hill, Dominion Beach, Honor Above All, Jack Vernon, Metatron, Promise Delivered, Sigmund, and Southwind Flash. Last year, Southwind Frank won 11 of 12 races and earned $786,419. His wins included the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, and William Wellwood Memorial. In addition, his time of 1:52.2 in a division of the International Stallion Stakes set the world record for a 2-year-old male trotter. He received both the Dan Patch and O'Brien awards for best 2-year-old male trotter. Southwind Frank was owned last year by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Our Horse Cents Stables, and J&T Silva Stables. This season he races for the Southwind Frank Partners, which includes the previously mentioned owners as well as Diamond Creek Racing. A son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Flawless Lindy, Southwind Frank was purchased as a yearling for $100,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale. His family includes Dan Patch Award winner Cayster as well as stakes-winners Giant Hit and Program Speed. Southwind Frank heads to the New Jersey Sire Stakes off a 1:54 qualifier win on May 14 at the Meadowlands. He finished second in an earlier qualifier, which came a week after being held out of qualifying because of a quarter crack. "Other than that everything has been picture perfect with him, totally uneventful," Burke said. "The quarter crack could have turned into an issue and it didn't. I think it's no longer a worry." This is the second consecutive year that Burke brings a top contender onto the Hambletonian trail. Last year, it was filly Mission Brief, who battled back woes before challenging the boys in the Hambletonian. She won her Hambletonian elimination and finished second to Pinkman in the final. "He's way more push-button than her," Burke said. "And so far we've had no issues. This colt just gets better and better. But honestly, with (Mission Brief), I was more emotionally involved than I am with him. She's my all-time favorite. The losses with her were horrible, the worst in the world. I like him, but I'm not as attached --- at least at this point --- as I was to her. Certain horses you just dig. You know, that's my horse. She's the one I like the most." During his 10-race win streak, Southwind Frank posted every victory by at least 1-1/4 lengths. Burke said it's hard at this point to determine where the colt's bottom is. "He did everything so easily last year and Yannick did such a nice job protecting him, not showing him off," Burke said. "I think there's a lot more there. He does things once in a while when he's training where you're like, 'What the heck?' You're reading the watch trying to figure out if what he did is possible. He might be something really special this year. "I'm just hoping he stays sound. I think the schedule we have set right now in our minds is perfect for him to be at his best when he hits (Hambletonian Day). If you win that, your whole year is made. That's the ultimate goal. Yannick doesn't have one, I don't have one, so it's very important to both of us." Other races on the road to the Hambletonian are Saturday's two Currier & Ives divisions at The Meadows and one New York Sire Stakes division at Vernon Downs. Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the first Currier & Ives division are Desert Runner, Hititoutofthepark, Iron Mine Bucky, and Steed. Hititoutofthepark is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The second division includes Hambletonian eligible Breedlove, Hollywood Highway, and Leggs Matter. At Vernon Downs, three Hambletonian-eligible trotters compete in the second of two New York Sire Stakes splits. They are Chukkar, Reve Royale, and The Perfect Lindy. For a "Hoof Beats" magazine feature on Southwind Frank, click here. Ken Weingartner      

There is an old adage in harness racing that says “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Sometimes, though, how you start is how you finish. And in the case of Rockin Ron, how he starts and how he finishes are often fast. Rockin Ron has reeled off 11 consecutive wins since joining the stable of trainer Ron Burke in November. He will try to make it 12 in a row when he faces eight rivals in Saturday’s opening round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old male pacers at the Meadowlands Racetrack. His most recent victory came in last Sunday’s Confederation Cup, where Rockin Ron defeated 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit by three-quarters of a length in a Canadian-record 1:50.1 mile at Flamboro Downs. As has often been the case during his win streak, Rockin Ron grabbed the lead during the opening quarter-mile and never looked back. It was the eighth consecutive race in which he paced his opening quarter in less than 27 seconds. It also was the second time in his last three starts in which he finished with a final quarter in less than 27 seconds. Since becoming a member of the Burke Brigade, Rockin Ron has been in first place at the first call in eight of his victories. Twice he was in second place and once he was in third. In 19 career triumphs, only twice has Rockin Ron come from further back than third at the halfway point. “A lot of our drivers, when they know a horse has speed like that, they want to use it,” said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Rockin Ron. “I don’t blame them. You don’t see horses often leave in 26 and change, come right back to you, and then come home in 26 and change.” Rockin Ron and driver Yannick Gingras will start Saturday’s $75,000 Graduate from post four. The remainder of the field is In The Arsenal, National Seelster, J Eagle Feather, Americanprimetime, Rock N’ Roll World, Split The House, Artistic Major, and My Hero Ron. Rock N’ Roll World and My Hero Ron also are from the Burke stable. “In a perfect world, I wouldn’t mind seeing (Rockin Ron) race from behind this week,” Weaver said. “It’s his first time on a big track in a while; maybe change the tactics. They’re not machines, you have to look after them a little bit. The first start we had him, we raced him out of a hole and he shook loose late and exploded. But who knows what will happen Saturday.” A son of Real Desire out of Im All A Roan, Rockin Ron has won 19 of 40 career races and earned $313,858. He is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and RTC Stables. The group thought they had a deal in place to buy Rockin Ron in early 2015, but the sale fell through. Last year, Rockin Ron won two divisions of the Indiana Sire Stakes and finished fourth in the event’s Super Final, which was won by standout and future Breeders Crown champion Freaky Feet Pete. “We love the Indiana-breds,” Weaver said. “We’ve been a huge fan of the whole program. “The secret is kind of out. When you look now, the best older pacers are Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, you could throw Rockin Ron in there I think, and they’re all Indiana-breds. I think it’s a great place; I love to try to buy horses and race them there. Rockin Ron looks like he’s another one in that same line. “The horses that race in Indiana, when you take them away from there, they produce. They’re tough. To do what (Rockin Ron) has done is the extreme aspect of that, but maybe he’s the type that likes Ronnie’s training program and likes to be put into the race.” Rockin Ron is staked lightly this season, with the Ben Franklin Pace and Prix d’Ete also on his schedule. “We usually try to take it easy with the 4-year-olds,” said Weaver, who has enjoyed success with past Pacer of the Year Award winners Foiled Again and Sweet Lou. “Midway through the spring we didn’t have him staked at all. I don’t think he was even on our staking list. After one of the races earlier this year at The Meadows, I asked if we might not want to try him in some of the 4-year-old races. I’m glad we did. “That was a pretty big mile (last weekend). We’re anxious to see how he does Saturday and then we’ll go from there. I’d be OK if Rockin Ron stepped up to be our best one, that’s for sure.” Ken Weingartner

Set Me Up followed live cover into the final turn, then blazed through the lane to capture Monday's $22,500 harness racing filly & mare Preferred Handicap Pace -- her second straight victory -- at The Meadows. A longtime top performer at The Meadows, Set Me Up dropped into a conditioned event to collect last week's win. She was sharp in the top distaff pace Monday, following the first-over cover of Coffee Addict before Dave Palone sent her wide through the stretch. She prevailed in 1:51.4, edging the rallying Spreester by a nose, while Medusa shot the Lightning Lane for show. Ron Burke trains Set Me Up, a 7-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture-Moccasin Flight who now boasts $435,255 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Rockin Ron and driver Yannick Gingras established a new track and Canadian record in winning the 38th edition of the $244,000 Confederation Cup on Sunday night (May 15) at Flamboro Downs. The streaking Ron Burke trainee held off reigning Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 3-5 favored second tier starter, in 1:50.1 to set a new record for older harness racing pacers on a half-mile track. Burke, trainer of 2015 champion All Bets Off with three entrants in this year's edition, has set a new track record in the Confederation Cup for the second year that it has been contested as a race for 4-year-olds. Last year, All Bets Off won his elimination in what was a track record 1:50.4 before returning to take the final, and later won the Prix D'Ete in 1:50.3 at Hippodrome 3R for a share of the former Canadian record. Gingras left with Rockin Ron from post four as he indicated he would in a pre-race interview on the Flamboro Downs broadcast. Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry) also left from post seven and cleared to command heading to the first turn. However, Rockin Rock retook the lead into a :26.2 first quarter. As the 4-5 second wagering choice led the field off the turn in front of the grandstand, his stablemate My Hero Ron (Matt Kakaley) tipped first over from fourth with Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) following his cover. Rockin Ron raced past the half in :55.3 and headed to three-quarters in 1:23.3 while Teague fired Wiggle It Jiggleit three-wide down the backstretch to take over second place. Wiggle It Jiggleit continued to chase the leader as they turned for home, but Rockin Ron maintained a one length advantage down the stretch as he sprinted home in :26.3 to score the 1:50.1 triumph, equaling his lifetime mark that he took at Miami Valley Raceway in his last start. Rodeo Romeo (Brett Miller) finished 2-1/2 lengths behind in third off a three-hole trip. The finish order was completed by Rockin In Heaven, National Seelster (Sylvain Filion), Burke trainees Rock N Roll World (James MacDonald) and My Hero Ron, Drachan Hanover (Randy Waples) and Americanprimetime (Chris Christoforou). After the race, Gingras admitted that he was concerned that the front-end looked tiring, but opted to stick with his strategy after speaking with Burke. He pumped this horse up, but he sure put up," said Gingras in a post-race interview. "He went a big mile, and at the wire, he was just starting to get going. If he went around again, he was going to win anyway. I never touched him with the whip and I was ultra-impressed by him. I was able to cross right over, but :26.2 and :55.3 are no easy fractions. And 1:23.3 and then he had :26 on the end of it to come home, so you've got to give the credit to the horse, he put in a big performance." Rockin Ron has now won all 11 of his starts racing for the Burke stable, including 10 this year. The 4-year-old Real Desire gelding is owned by Burke Racing LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Rtc Stables Inc. Prior to the race, Burke noted that the Confederation Cup would be a good test for Rockin Ron to decide what direction he takes with the pacer. That's very impressive -- :26.3 tonight was a very good quarter and Yannick really thought that he had more left so this is another step in the right direction and we'll try to figure out where we go from here," said Burke after the victory, noting that Rockin Ron is scheduled to compete in next Saturday's Graduate Series at the Meadowlands. Standardbred Canada

If there is a "formula" for harness racing success at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, it does NOT read: "Be last at the quarter, last at the half, and last at the three-quarters."   But nobody showed this "non-formula" to All Bets Off.   The son of Bettor's Delight, starting from the outside post eight in the $25,000 featured pace Saturday night at The Downs, got away last and was fourth-over in sloppy going, then circled a top-caliber field within 3/16 of a mile, going three-wide through the turn to the lead midstretch and pacing off by 2¼ lengths, with Matt Kakaley sitting calmly in the bike. Bigtown Hero, who last week won here in 1:48.1 for the fastest mile of the year in North America, raced well again, battling uncovered outside his 5-2 co-choice McArdle's Lightning and still going on for second, a length ahead of Melmerby Beach.   All Bets Off was 3-1 despite post eight and a three-week layoff since the Levy Final, having shown an affinity for the local surface by taking his mark of 1:48.3 here at three. He is trained by Ron Burke and is co-owned by Burke Racing Stable along with Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, and the Panhellenic Stable Corporation, who saw their talented pacer raise his lifetime bankroll to $1,806,334.   For Kakaley, the featured victory was his third of the night, two of which he guided for Burke; perennial Downs leader George Napolitano Jr. had even a hotter hand, with six trips to Victory Lane.   Pennsylvania All-Stars action for three-year-old state-sired horses will be featured at The Downs for the next three days, with three $30,000 divisions each night. Pacing colts have the spotlight Sunday, with pacing fillies following on Monday and trotting fillies highlighted on Tuesday.   PHHA / Pocono

Three-year-old gelding trotter Dayson (Yannick Gingras) was spectacular in his harness racing debut for the Ron Burke stable on Thursday at Harrah's Philadelphia. After going 7 for his first 7 as a 2-year-old, the altered son of Conway Hall broke in the New York Sire Stake's final as the heavy favorite, thus ending his undefeated streak. After a pair of qualifiers, he was entered in the featured event on Thursday, a trot for non-winners of $20,000 in their last 5 starts, or Non-winners of 9 races. He was sent immediately to the lead from post 8, brushing past the quarter pole. After rating quarter two, he was challenged by 25-time winner Escuela (Geo. Napolitano Jr.), but was up to the task. The margin of victory (3/4 of a length) does not reflect the ease with which he won, as he was under-wraps in a time of 1:53. The clocking was only 3/5ths of a second off of the track record for 3-year-old gelding trotters set by Pinkman last year. He is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stbls, J & T Silva Stables, and R. Smith. Michael Bozich

Hannelore Hanover and Solar Sister notched Grand Circuit victories on closing day of the 2016 Miami Valley Raceway harness racing meet on Sunday (May 8).   The pair of $100,000 races were highlights of the 88th and final program of Miami Valley's third season, its most successful to date with huge increases above 20% in both average handle and total purses.   Hannelore Hanover kept her 2016 season perfect in her fifth start by wiring a classy field of North America's best older trotting mares in 1:52.3, a new track record for 4-year-old female squaregaiters. Despite facing a full field with lifetime earnings north of $4 million in the $100,000 Miami Valley Distaff, the winning daughter of Indiana sire Swan For All was dispatched as a prohibitive favorite, and driver Ricky Macomber Jr. guided her accordingly. Speeding off the wings of the starting gate, Hannelore Hanover and Macomber stopped the first-quarter beam in :27.1 and never looked back through subsequent fractions of :55.4 and 1:23.3. At the head of the lane, it looked briefly as if the taxing fractions might doom the Ron Burke trainees fate, but when Macomber asked for a bit more Hannelore Hanover responded with a :29 flat final panel to seal a 1-3/4 length victory.   Charmed Life (Jody Jamieso) gave futile chase to finish second, while Daylon Miracle (Daniel Dube) raced gamely to finish just a quarter-length further back in third.   Hannelore Hanover increased her career bankroll to $405,324 with her 14th win in 26 lifetime starts. She is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and Frank Baldachino.   Solar Sister had to survive a lengthy judge's inquiry before being named the official upset winner of the $100,000 Chip Noble Memorial for the continent's top pacing mares. Although it appeared that Solar Sister and driver Doug McNair may have forced at least one other horse wider when they vacated the pylons down the backstretch, the judges ultimately decided that the confusion was caused by a tiring frontrunner (Lady Shadow) who was simultaneously drifting into the outer flow.   The winner left with alacrity to drop in behind Lady Shadow (Aaron Merriman) before the :26.2 quarter, then enjoyed a pocket ride through a :55.2 half before pulling going to the three quarter station. Solar Sister was first-over in second when the field sped past that 1:22.3 marker, then emerged victorious following a thrilling stretch drive that resulted in a three-horse photo finish in 1:51.2. Favorite Yagonnakissmeornot (Dube), who won the inaugural Noble Memorial in 2014 and still holds the distaff track record, was parked much of the mile and finished just a head behind, with Purrfect Bags (Victor Kirby) third across the wire, just another head behind in her first seasonal start.   Gregg McNair trains the winning 4-year-old daughter of Mach Three for David Willmot and Clay Homer. She now sports 11 career triumphs and $681,387 in earnings.   A pair of $20,000 Opens were also contested on the getaway matinee card.   Il Mago (Trace Tetrick) topped Penn (Josh Sutton) and Cimeronken (Kyle Ater) in the trotting feature, clocked in 1:55.. It was the sixth win in a dozen 2016 starts for the 7-year-old son of Kadabra, who is owned by CC Racing LLC and trained by Tyler George.   Addys Way (Dan Noble) emerged from a stride-for-stride stretch duel with Igottafeelinfran (Kayne Kauffman) to cop the top local pacing mares event in 1:52.1. OK Hallelujah (Jason Brewer) collected the show dough. Perkins Racing Stable LLC owns Addys Way, an 8-year-old Cambest mare, also trained by Noble. She now has an impressive 47 victories from 189 starts and is nearing $400,000 in bank deposits.   Gregg Keidel    

Ron Burke trainees finished 1-2-3 in the inaugural $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic Final for state-sired three-year-old pacing colts and geldings Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Check Six going a big mile on the front end to reduce his mark a tick to 1:50.3, while in the harness racing companion filly event, the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Final, Pure Country bounced back from her first loss in the previous week's elimination race, going the first-over route and still matching the 1:50.3 clocking of Check Six.   Check Six was three-wide a good part of the first turn, then when The Catamount Kid backed off from between horses, Check Six was sent to the front by driver Yannick Gingras to go around stablemate Big Top Hanover, with the first quarter of 27.2 not too taxing despite the extra real estate. Check Six got a further breather when the half was tripped in 56.1.   The price of pacing went up exponentially down the backstretch when another Burkeite, Check Six's fellow Classic elim winner JK Will Power, advanced to give a stern first-over challenge. The ¾ was tripped in 1:23.1, and then despite going into a stretch headwind the battling duo still stormed in 27.2, with Check Six holding off JK Will Power, let go at a surprising 12-1, by a neck, with Big Top Hanover another 1¼ lengths back. The Catamount Kid held for fourth, with Lyons Snyder, a slight favorite over the winner with both sent off at 2.10-1, unable to capitalize on second-over position and settling for the last check.   Trainer Ron Burke took home $488,850 of the rich purse in the Classic, while Check Six became the second-largest moneywinner of the year by boosting his 2016 bankroll to $301,250, with his career bankroll for Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, William Switala and James Martin at $416,139.   Yannick Gingras, who drove both elim winners for Burke, picked Check Six for his Classic mount, "but the choice was closer than I would have thought earlier - JK Will Power really showed me a lot last week, and he was big again tonight." But Check Six came up biggest of all at the finish and took in the glory of winning the first Pennsylvania Classic.   **********   She's b-a-a-a-a-a-c-k!   Pure Country, last year's champion two-year-old filly who suffered her first loss in a Miss Pennsylvania elim in her seasonal debut, looked like a filly who could rank with the greats when she overcame a hard first-over trip to win the Miss PA Final in the same time as Check Six, a new lifetime mark. Pure Country settled midpack early as Call Me Queen Be went a stinging 25.2 first quarter, then yielded to 4-5 favorite Darlinonthebeach (Pure Country was the 2-1 second choice, the first time she had gone off higher than 3-5 in her career). Darlinonthebeach went on to the half in 53.3, with driver Brett Miller having Pure Country in gear first-over at that point and advancing the length of the backstretch to be right in contention at the 1:21.3 ¾.   Pure Country just kept on advancing the turn, gaining the lead past the curve's midpoint, and continued on strongly through the lane, holding off the late rush of second-over I Said Diamonds by 1¼ lengths, with Call Me Queen Be, Newborn Sassy, and I Said Please getting the minor awards in that order; the favored pacesetter Darlinonthebeach tired and finished seventh.   Speaking of her Miss Pennsylvania elim loss, trainer Jimmy Takter noted that "she had been a little sick and I had lost two weeks" of preparation for her 2016 bow. The "real" Pure Country showed up at Pocono Saturday, and the smiles on the faces of Takter and owner Adam Bowden of the Diamond Creek operation were big indeed.   (And yes, both winners were second choices, both won in 1:50.3, and both took new marks. The styles of the two races, though, couldn't have been more different.)   ************   In the race before the two Pennsylvania stakes finals, the American Ideal gelding Bigtown Hero, no stranger to extreme speed when at his prime, went the fastest mile in North American harness racing this year, 1:48.1, in an $18,000 pace. Simon drove the Hero like he was the best, and the horse validated his judgement, moving to the lead after a 26.2 opener and then hanging out middle splits of 53.4 and 1:20.3 before holding of the late charge of Aslan to win for Simon's brother, trainer Rene Allard, and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc and Yves Sarrazin.   PHHA / POCONO

Off-the-layoff Tessa Seelster (George Brennan, $12.40) finished what she started Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $40,000 filly and mare Open Handicap Pace. In play early from her assigned post position No. 2, it was "Tessa" working around Mach it a Par (Brian Sears). She then completed her rounds (:27.4, :56.3, 1:24.2, 1:52.1) while beating her seven elders. Carolsideal (Dan Dube), as the 9-5 favorite, hung around first-up, though never getting to "Tessa," who owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. She held off a second-over Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett) by a neck, with Mach it a Par, Caroslideal and Al Raza N (Mark MacDonald) settling for the remainder. For third choice Tessa Seelster, a 4-year-old daughter of Shadow Play co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Jonathan Newman, she's now 4-for-4 this season after her first purse start since late January. The exacta paid $82.50, the triple returned $337 and the superfecta paid $1,335. Friday evening's $30,000 Filly and Mare Preferred Handicap Pace was won by Know it All (Eric Abbatiello, $10) in 1:54. Derby Day Saturday finds the Raceway in full Churchill Downs simulcast mode, with selected mutuel windows opening at 10 AM in advance of a 10:30 AM first post. The track apron has music, food and drink specials and the obligatory hat contest (with special guest judge Bethenny Frankel and cash prizes). The regular live program begins at 7:10 PM. YONKERS’ SATURDAY PICK 5 FEATURES $3,700 CARRYOVER A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday’s (May 7) Derby Night Pick 5 wager begins with a carryover of $3,779.89. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing program. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday evening), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next program. Frank Drucker

JK Will Power (1:51.1) and Check Six (1:50.4) both posted new lifetime marks in winning the two $25,000 elimination races for next Saturday's inaugural $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic for harness racing PA-sired three-year-old colts and geldings at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The winning duo also contributed to give trainer Ron Burke a familiar position of domination, as he sent out both winners, a second-place finisher, and a third-place finisher from four starters. The Classic Championship is to be held during the evening portion of the Kentucky Derby Day doubleheader next Saturday at the mountain oval.   The Burke Stable had the two favorites in the first Classic elim in JK Will Power (1 to 2) and Manhattan Beach (9 to 5), and they finished 1-3 respectively, split by Canadian invader The Catamount Kid. JK Will Power, off a strong 2016 bow at Philly, went by his stablemate early, briefly gave up the lead to the parked The Catamount Kid at the 26.4 quarter, but was quickly in the move to reclaim the front. Explained driver Yannick Gingras, "I wasn't sure, with my driving the favorite, that Jody (Jamieson) and his horse were the ones to sit behind from the program, but as it turned out I could have gone either way."   JK Will Power got a real rest during panel and hit the half in 56.2, continued on with a tailwind to put up a 1:23.3 ¾, then sprinted home in 27.3 - and needed all of that dash through the lane as The Catamount Kid tried hard to emulate the three "pocket rocket" winners of the Miss Pennsylvania elims. His Pocono Pike late effort, at 11-1, came up a neck shy, with Manhattan Beach holding his third spot ahead of Western Dynasty. Trainer Burke conditions the victorious Somebeachsomewhere colt for the 3 Brothers Stable.   In the other elim, Check Six and Big Top Hanover were coupled in the betting as the 3-5 favorite, and they finished a nose apart on the money, just ahead of Lyons Snyder. These three had been in the thick of the action throughout - Lyons Snyder claimed the front, yielded to Easy Lover Hanover before the 26.3 opener, then was quarter-mover #1 to the lead in front of the stands, yielding to quarter-mover #2 Big Top Hanover, who took the field to the half in 55.   Check Six and driver Yannick Gingras, completing the Classic elim sweep along with Burke, came up first-over and made a bold backstretch brush to clear his stablemate by the 1:22.1 3/4s, then stayed game late as Big Top Hanover came outside from the pocket for the drive and lost by the smallest possible amount, with Lyons Shadow only a half-length off the win; Duke Of Delray was fourth, and from this division JJ Flynn had the faster clocking of the two fifth-place finishers and thus was the last horse advancing to the Championship.   Somebeachsomewhere picked up his fourth sire credit in the five stakes elims, two at each sex, with the victory of Check Six, who is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, William Switala and James Martin.   Gingras said that he would await the results of Monday's open draw before finalizing a selection of whom he'll guide in the Championship. Matt Kakaley guided the other two Burke-ites. Trainer Chris Ryder will have three in the final, Western Dynasty, Duke Of Delray, and JJ Flynn; owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound is in the interesting position of having two horses in the final with different trainers: Manhattan Beach (Burke) and Lyons Snyder (Mark Silva).   Cooperstown (11-1) and Doctor Butch (14-1) both came steaming down the extreme outside and finished on equal terms in the $25,000 winners-over pace, stopping the timer in 1:50.2. The winners came into the race on different win wavelengths - the Four Starzzz Shark stallion Cooperstown having won four of his last five, while the Art Major stallion Doctor Butch had been winless (though with 8 board finishes) in 11 seasonal starts - but both laid off a backstretch battle between favorites Lettucerockthem and JK Endofanera, then rallied strongly for the top-end dead heat.   Tim Tetrick guided Doctor Butch for trainer Linda Toscano and owner Kenneth Jacobs, while Anthony Napolitano, who had seven winners here last Saturday, posted his fifth win of the night in this tenth race co-feature (the sixth non-stake race of the night at this point) with Cooperstown, trained by Daniel Renaud for owners Brian and Ina Ross Wallach.   Pocono / PHHA

On a chilly night in Indiana, odds-on favorites were hot at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino as both of the heavy favorites delivered in the $21,000 featured trot and pace on Saturday, April 30. Each of the featured harness racing events saw familiar faces in the winner's circle as both races produced repeat winners from the previous week. Freaky Feet Pete, the 2015 Breeders Crown Champion for three-year-old pacing colts, turned in another dominant performance to score his second consecutive Hoosier Park victory in the $21,000 Invitational Pace. With regular driver Trace Tetrick at the lines, Freaky Feet Pete stopped the timer in 1:50.2 over a sloppy rated track. Using the same front-running tactics as the previous week, Freaky Feet Pete dictated first half fractions of :27.1 :55.2 while Fearless Diablo and LeWayne Miller benefitted from a pocket trip. With the heavy betting favorite calling the shots on the front, the rest of the field remained in single file line down the backside. Bluehourpower and Ricky Macomber Jr. were the first to commit to the outer flow but Freaky Feet Pete began to inch away from the field with every stride. With a three-quarter clocking in 1:23, Freaky Feet Pete began to put his talent on display as the rest of the field struggled to stay within striking distance. Freaky Feet Pete cruised to the wire under a hand drive from Tetrick finishing six and a half lengths in front of Fearless Diablo. SF Donttellonme and Joey Casagranda used a late closing kick to round out the trifecta. With the win, Freaky Feet Pete notched the second win of his four-year-old campaign and 26th career victory from 29 lifetime outings. The homebred son of Rockin Image-Skyway Lori has now earned $1,136,724 lifetime for his owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer. In much the same fashion on the trotting side of things, Hannelore Hanover and Ricky Macomber Jr. extended their winning streak as they easily handled an abbreviated field of six in the $21,000 Invitational trot in 1:52.4 over a track rated good. Hannelore Hanover was unhurried from the gate and settled along the rail in third behind Churita and Trace Tetrick who reached the first quarter mark in :28. Macomber Jr. gave Hannelore Hanover the green light down the backside and the Ron Burke trainee easily reached the front to dictate middle fractions of :57 and 1:24.4. As the field turned for home, Hannelore Hanover was two lengths in front of her next closest competitor and used a :28 final panel to coast home three lengths to the good. Churita maintained her position to finish second while Rever Ever rallied nicely to finish third. As the heavy betting favorite, Hannelore Hanover returned $3.20 at the betting window. The four-year-old daughter of Swan For All-High Sobriety notched her fourth consecutive victory and remains undefeated in four starts in 2016. Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and F. Baldachino, Hannelore Hanover has now amassed $345,324 lifetime. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Tuesday, May 3 with a 14-race card that is set to begin at 5:45 p.m. The 160-day racing season will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 12. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule at Hoosier Park, please visit www.hoosierpark.com . Emily Gaskin

Mother Nature was sensational again this Sunday, with temperatures soaring to 70 degrees, with little wind and plenty of sunshine at Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester, PA. Also sensational was Driver Yannick Gingras, who had six wins on the card, which included four for trainer Ron Burke. Included in those four wins, were two pacing colts making their 3-year-old debuts. Check Six (Somebeachsomewhere-Southwind Vanna) drew post 8 in race two, facing NW of 5 races or $50,000 company. He went right to the front, and was able to sprint the last half home in :55.1 after rating a :57.1 front. The final time was 1:52.2, and he paid $4.80 to win. Check Six is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Bill Switala, and James Martin. The other debuting colt was JK Will Power (Somebeachsomewhere-What's New Pussycat). He settled in the three-hole before brushing to the front just past the quarter. He was also able to rate the front half (:57.1), before cruising home under wraps in 1:53. He paid $2.40. JK Will Power is owned by 3 Brothers Stables. Chalk up another win for the Burke-Gingras connection, this time in the featured event, a non-winners of $20,000 in their last 5 starts on the pace. The 4-year-old horse Rock N Roll World (Rocknroll Hanover-Worldly Beauty) was able to storm to the front, and never look back, carving fractions of :28, :56.2, and 1:23.2. He won by one length in 1:51.1. He is now a perfect two-for-two this season, and has made over $375,000 in His career. He paid $5.60. by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

More Dragon survived a demanding first quarter and rolled on to a convincing victory in Saturday's $32,500 championship of the Atta Boy Dan Pace for harness racing 3-year-old colts and geldings at The Meadows. More Dragon was parked throughout a 27.2 opening panel before clearing to the lead. Winning driver Dave Palone said he wasn't overly concerned about the potential impact of that swift quarter. "We were just looking for everybody to get settled," Palone said. "It was just a matter of everybody finding a spot and then moving him to the front. He responded really strong through the wire." Once on top, More Dragon easily parried the first-over thrust of Trelane to score in 1:54.1, 2-1/2 lengths better than the pocket-sitting Arthur Pendragon. Rip This Joint was third. Palone indicated More Dragon, who's fresh enough with only three starts this year, may turn out to be a top performer. "I think he's a pretty good colt," Palone said. "I know they'll be out there in 1:49 miles, but he's been well within himself. I've seen these kinds of horses move to other tracks and shade 1:50. He has a terrific attitude. The only knock on him is he's a little fella, but he takes great big steps, and he has a good way of doing it." Ron Burke trains More Dragon, a Dragon Again-Liscaramore gelding, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Knox Services and David Wills. In the $22,500 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, Dew N Doughnuts was able to slip by three horses in an early jackpot and prevail in 1:52.2. The trouble began when both Seventh Secret and Unlocked broke stride while trying for the lead, placing Sam Hill in a precarious position behind them. Aaron Merriman kept Sam Hill clear of the rest of the field, enabling Dew N Doughnuts and Tony Hall to ease through safely along the pylons. The 6-year-old son of Real Desire-Artbitration defeated the rallying Easy Again by a length, with the first-over Cammikey third. Norm Parker conditions Dew N Doughnuts, who now boasts $314,274 in lifetime earnings, for Tom Klosky, Jr. Palone piloted five winners and Mike Wilder four on the 15-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

ANDERSON, Ind.-April 22, 2016-Hannelore Hanover extended her winning streak to two at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino after a decisive win in the featured event of the evening, a $21,000 Invitational Trot, on Friday, April 22. Driven by Ricky Macomber Jr., Hannelore Hanover has now gone back-to back at the top level with her 1:53 victory and remains undefeated in three starts in 2016. With combined lifetime earnings of over $3.4 million, the talented field of eight was comprised of multiple stakes winners and former Indiana Sires Stakes champions. Hannelore Hanover, Indiana's reigning three-year-old trotting filly of the year, was one of four mares in the field and started from the outside post 8. Macomber Jr. left no room for error as he sent Hannelore Hanover away from the gate firing. She would have to work for her position as Trace Tetrick also sent Churita away aggressively from post four. Hannelore Hanover reached the front and dictated fractions first half fractions of :27.1 and :57.4 while the rest of the field sorted out early positions. Churita benefitted from a pocket trip while Natural Herbie and Verlin Yoder were next in line in third. Hannelore Hanover looked strong on the front and continued to call the shots down the backside through the three-quarter clocking in 1:25.4. Il Mago and Jason Dillander were the first to commit to the outer flow and were on the attack first-over with Allie Labrook and Dan Shetler in tow. Hannelore Hanover was able to put away Il Mago before turning for home with an ever-increasing lead. Churita tipped from the pocket but Hannelore Hanover wasn't finished. Using a :27.1 final quarter, Hannelore Hanover kicked home under a hand drive from Macomber Jr. to win by two lengths over Churita. Allie Labrook staged a big rally late in the lane but had to settle for third place honors. As the publics' second choice, Hannelore Hanover returned $6.60 at the betting windows. Trained by Ron Burke, the daughter of Swan For All-High Sobriety notched her 11th win from 24 seasonal outings. Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and F. Baldachino, Hannelore Hanover has now amassed $334,824 lifetime. Live racing continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, April 24 with a 14-race card highlighted by the highly anticipated return of Breeders Crown Champion Freaky Feet Pete in race 11. Hoosier Park's 'Family Fun Days' return this Saturday and will continue each weekend throughout the entirety of the harness racing season. Activities will include face painting, live entertainment, games and winner's circle giveaways. Saturday's live racing card will be followed by a free performance by The Ripple Effect in Hoosier Park's Terrace Showroom. With a daily post time of 5:45 p.m., the live racing schedule will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and continue through November 12. For more information, please visit www.hoosierpark.com. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

WASHINGTON, PA, April 19, 2016 -- Lightly regarded at 10-1, Pointblank Hanover seized the lead with an uncovered backside bid and rolled on to the upset in Tuesday's $33,100 championship of the Classicality Trot for 3-year-old colts and geldings at The Meadows. Pointblank Hanover's uneven performances in recent outings had prompted Ron Burke, who trains the SJ's Caviar-Puffed-Up gelding, to switch from blinkers to an open bridle for the Classicality. But after two lackluster efforts in preliminary legs -- he finished fourth and fifth -- regular driver Tony Hall had an idea. "He was more controllable with the open bridle, but he was just going through the motions in the race," Hall said. " I asked Ron if he could throw the blinkers on him. Even though he's a little more rank with them, he has more go to him. I figured they would be going some fractions today so I really wouldn't have to fight him that much. "They liked the way he trained with the blinkers. He really responded to them today. He's a decent horse. He just gets a little hot sometimes." When Hall moved him from fourth, Pointblank Hanover swept past the leader, 7-5 favorite Breedlove, and drew off to score in a career-best 1:55.3. Breedlove saved place, 3-3/4 lengths back, while Meadowbranch Memo rallied for show. The win brought Hall his second series championship in as many days, as he captured Monday's final of the Do Me Honor Pace with Wasaga Beach. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables campaign Pointblank Hanover. The $22,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot also brought an upset, as 20-1 Princess Pablano moved first over and wore down the leaders to triumph in 1:54.3 for Mike Wilder, trainer Tyler Stillings and owner Rags To Riches of PA. Barn Girl shot the Lightning Lane for second, 3/4 lengths in arrears, with early leader Anaffairtoremember third. The 6-year-old daughter of Holy Guacamolie-CR Princess Bride now boasts $252,148 in lifetime earnings. Wilbur Yoder piloted three winners -- all with horses he trains -- on the 15-race card. Wednesday's program at The Meadows features the $31,300 championship of the Whata Donato Trot for 3-year-old fillies. First post is 1 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows        

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