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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 19, 2019-- Harness racing pacer Allusneedisfaith N (Jim Marohn Jr., $10.40) took it the distance Saturday night (Oct. 19th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $42,000 Open Handicap. From post position No. 4--in one notch after a defection--Alluneedisfaith N slipped past Dancin' Dragon (Jason Bartlett) before a :28.4 opening quarter mile. The teletimer didn't get much more of a workout by a :57.4 intermission, which was fine by the leader. Nearing the half, Theartofconfusion A (Austin Siegelman), The Real One (Pat Lachance) and Prairie Panther (Brent Holland) found themselves in an outer-tier logjam, with Prairie Panther pushed wide as the other two seemed to extricate the cones late. Meanwhile, Alluneedisfaith N continued past a 1:25.2 three-quarters, opening a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn. He finished it off, whipping Dancin' Dragon by a length in 1:53.2. The above troika of The Real One, Theartofconfusion A and Prairie Panther wound up third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Micky Gee N (Jordan Stratton) never fired as the slight 2-1 choice, winding up last in the seven-horse soiree. For fourth choice Alluneedisfaith N, a 5-year-old Down Under Art Major gelding owned by Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Ross Croghan, it was his sixth win in 22 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $41, the triple returned $141 and the superfecta paid $376. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Monday evening’s (Oct. 21st) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,543.11 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee has been approved by the New York State Gaming Commission and is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 Monday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Saturday evening), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

CHESTER, PA - Driver Eric Carlson had the hot hands at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, sweeping the featured paces for distaffs for trainers with whom he had combined for a victory earlier on the card. In a $16,000 conditioned pace, Carlson and the Bettor's Delight sophomore filly Dark Force worked out a two-hole trip, rallied up the inside to a midstretch lead, and then held off a late charge by 53-1 shot Thrillonthebeach to be a half-length good on the money in 1:54.2. Ross Croghan is the conditioner of the victorious three-year-old for the Let It Ride Stables Inc. In a $14,500 conditioned pace, the McArdle filly Lispatty ran her lifetime win ratio to 25% (24 for 96) and pushed her earnings to $625,265 with a 2½ length win in 1:52.1. Carlson let the early speed sort itself out, then sent Lispatty to the lead under the wire the first time around; from there she had little trouble, marching home in 28 to be safely clear for trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera and owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Last night’s Harness Racing Awards Dinner brought exciting news for junior drivers and cousins Nathan Dawson and Dannielle McMullen when they were announced winners of the 2018 Kevin and Kay Seymour Young Achievers Award. The award comes with an unbelievable all-expenses paid trip to North America working and learning under the watchful eye of successful harness racing trainer and former Australian Ross Croghan. The trip will be an incredible learning curve for the youngsters and will include opportunities to visit the stables of prominent standardbred trainers such as Jimmy Takter and Ron Burke, touch base with ex-pats such as Andy McCarthy, Noel Daley and Chris Ryder to name but a few, visit renowned racetracks such as the Meadowlands, Yonkers and Freehold as well as the possibility of securing a race drive. Young Achiever nominations were selected on a monthly basis throughout the season by a panel of industry experts. Other nominees included Trent Moffat, Hayden Barnes, Brittany Graham, Narissa McMullen, Isobel Ross, Mitchell Dawson, Alex Cain and Matt Elkins. Nathan Dawson was the obvious preference for the male award recipient given his unbelievable driving record in the 2017/2018 season and being nominated for the award on three occasions. He secured the Queensland Driver of the Year Premiership and was the only driver to land a double century of wins. Dawson’s career best month was in August where he landed 40 winners and 42 placings from 149 drives. In that month he drove four winners on two occasions, trebles on three occasions and recorded his 500th lifetime winner. “I hadn’t kept count of the winners that month, I just went out there and did my best. I had a really good season and it’s great to be rewarded for the hard work” Dawson stated. He was also selected to represent Queensland in the upcoming Australasian Young Drivers Championship held at Albion Park and Redcliffe in November. McMullen also enjoyed plenty of success last season finishing within the top 10 on the state drivers, metropolitan drivers and concession drivers premierships with 78 winners from 595 drives. Along with her sister Narissa, McMullen represented the state in the Australian Female Drivers Championship in Tasmania where she finished in 2nd place, as well as competing in the Reinswomen Invitational series at Globe Derby. Narissa was selected as last year’s Kevin and Kay Seymour Young Achiever and ironically the sisters finished on the same number of wins last season. “I’m really looking forward to the trip, it’ll be a really great learning experience and I know it wouldn’t be possible without the sponsors Kevin and Kay Seymour”, said McMullen. While the trip details are yet to be confirmed it has been suggested that the drivers will set off in August next year and their trip will coincide with the one million dollar Hambletonian Stakes at the Meadowlands Racetrack.   Albion Park Harness Racing  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Somebeachsomewhere harness racing mare Call Me Queen Be, a million-dollar winner in stakes company before the end of her three-year-old season, continues to be productive in her older form, as the five-year-old raised her lifetime intake to $1,346,835 with a 1:51.1 victory in the $30,000 Mares Open pace Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Eric Carlson put Call Me Queen Be on the early lead and got Lispatty in behind her before favored Lakeisha Hall came on a brush at the 26.3 quarter. Lakeisha Hall got a 56.1 breather to the half on the 45-degree night, but the price of pacing went up as Lispatty came at the leader first-up, actually getting a head advantage at the 1:23.4 3/4s. Call Me Queen Be was perfectly-placed off the protracted front-end duel, and in the stretch surged by the front combatants to a 2¼ length victory. Call me Queen Be was the 2016 Breeders Crown three-year-old pacing filly champion, and this triumph, the fourth in her last six starts, may be a deciding factor for trainer Ross Croghan and the ownership of Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Mr. Dana Parham - three-year-old and older performers have to declare in Tuesday for Saturday's 2018 Breeders Crown eliminations right here at Pocono, a day after supplemental nominations and entries for two-year-olds are due. The $6,000,000 Breeders Crown Championship Night is Saturday, October 27. Another horse who may have punched his ticket for a Crown starting berth is Muscle Diamond, who in the $21,500 featured trot got the lead nearing the 27 quarter under George Napolitano Jr.'s handling, went a very un-Crown like 57.4 to the half, then threw a 27.4 and then a 27.3 in finishing quarters to complete a 1:53.1 package on the cool night. A six-year-old son of Muscle Hill trained by Brett Bittle and co-owned by him along with Dan Bittle and the Charles Kellers III and IV, Muscle Diamond also would bring valuable Breeders Crown experience to the table - he finished second in his two-year-old event at The Meadowlands in 2014, beaten only a half-length by Pinkman, and then in 2015 at Woodbine he was only 1¼ lengths off stablemates The Bank and Pinkman in taking third. Muscle Diamond, who has won four of his last seven, took his mark of 1:50.1 earlier this year, and he now has earnings of $745,199. Driver George Napolitano Jr. had five winners on the Sunday Pocono card, adding to the three he posted last night - and went honors even for the weekend with his brother Anthony, who captured seven races on Saturday and added another on the Sunday program. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

It appears Lazarus can not only walk the walk but talk the talk. The Kiwi pacing hero faces one of the toughest challenges of his North American career when he starts from a daunting wide draw in the US$250,000 Dan Rooney Pace (one mile) at Yonkers, New York tomorrow morning (10am NZ time). On the tight Yonkers track Lazarus needs to get handy or more ideally lead inside the first 600m to give himself the best chance of a revenge victory over arch rival McWicked, who beat him in the second fastest race mile in history in Kentucky last week.  As was the case when he was trained in New Zealand, Lazarus has thrived on hard racing and is showing no signs of lightening off in condition, looking muscled and with a stunning summer sheen on his coat at trainer Jimmy Takter’s New Jersey property this week. “I think the hard racing has really brought him on,” says Takter. “He felt very good in his work on Wednesday and he will be hard to beat this Saturday even though he has a tough draw.” But Lazarus’s work on Takter’s straight sand track track on Wednesday wasn’t the only reason the Hall Of Fame trainer was smiling afterward. He was shaking his head in amazement at a story from Kentucky last Saturday relayed to him by fellow top trainer Ross Croghan. Croghan is the trainer of Lazarus’s former stablemate Heaven Rocks and the pair raced each other for the first time in the United States last Saturday. “Ross told me the most amazing story,” says Takter. “He said when Lazarus walked into the barn last week he stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Heaven Rocks, who apparently he used to travel with Down Under, and started yelling out to him. “It wasn’t a stallion thing because the other horse is a gelding but Lazarus started yelling at Heaven Rocks like he was an old friend and Heaven Rocks starts calling back to him. “It was like too old friends seeing each other and Ross said it was incredible to see and there was no doubt they were happy to see each other. “When I heard that story it made the hairs on my arms stand up. I know this horse is smart but they really are incredible animals.” Coming from a small-time trainer who spends all his time with the one horse that might sounds cooky, hearing it was Takter and Croghan is a magical equine moment. But Takter isn’t finished. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised because one of the first things I loved about this horse was he is always talking to the other horses. “When you are out there working him he is making noises at them, again not as a stallion but just cause he likes his job. The top horses always have charisma, he has a lot of it.” It is the same at Takter’s stables where Lazarus has become protective of the juvenile trotting filly he is stabled next too, not in an amorous way but as the big brother. “Any time we do anything with her he comes over to make sure she is all right and he gets really annoyed when we take her away. He misses her,” said Lazarus’s main handler Helen Engblom. It seems regardless of what happens at Yonkers tomorrow Lazarus is making a big impression in North America, on and off the track. Michael Guerin

CHESTER, PA - I'm Trigger Happy, happy to not have to face recent foes Youaremycandygirl and Kissin In The Sand in the $17,000 distaff featured pace at Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon, worked her way to the front early and scored impressively in 1:51.4. Driver Corey Callahan, finishing a consecutive driving double, sent the Art Major sophomore filly to the point before the 27 quarter, then maintained command past the middle poles of 55.3 and 1:23.4. In the stretch, second choice Big City Betty tried to rally from the pocket, but the favored frontstepper still had a 28 last quarter in her to win by ¾ of a length for trainer Ross Croghan and the Let It Ride Stables Inc. Driver Eric Carlson, behind Big City Betty, had to settle for second in the feature, but earlier he had put together a very memorable consecutive double of his own, guiding Bold Goddess to her maiden win at a win price of $116.20, and then coming right back with another longest shot on the board, Rentier, who paid $81.00 for a $2 win ticket. With the victories, Carlson tied Brett Miller for the meet lead in $50+ wins (4) and $100+ wins (2). Bold Goddess's $116.20 mutuel also equaled the biggest payoff of the year at Philly, set three days ago by Lookinforadventure ... who was driven by Brett Miller! From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Bettor's Delight mare Twinkle, used very hard to get the early lead and under attack most of the mile, nevertheless dug down to take a 1:52.2 victory in the $17,500 distaff featured pace Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Driver Eric Carlson left the gate hard with the even-money favorite, but she had to pay a 26 price to get by JK Jazzitup, who took full advantage of track geometry from her inner starting position. Once on the lead, Twinkle had to deal with a steady grind through middle markers of 54.3 and 1:22.4 from second choice Princess Fabulosa, who never found a tuck from her outside starting berth in the field of seven and had to spend life on the rim. Twinkle finally was able to shake the Princess off, but then soon on the scene was Truth And Liberty, who had followed along second-over and then tipped wide for the drive. At the midstretch point it looked like Truth And Liberty might get by Twinkle, but the pacesetter dug down deep and produced enough to withstand the closer by a nose. Ross Croghan is the trainer of the winner of $186,629 for the Let It Ride Stable and Mr. Dana Parham. This weekend will see the final preliminary action of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and the Pennsylvania Stallion Series, along with the last prelim date of the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) - Pocono will host a $30,000 fast-class GNOS trot on its Sunday card. After this weekend action, the final point status of the major contenders will be known, and on Tuesday, August 28 there will be the post draw for both the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds and the Great Northeast Open Series Championships, the latter to be conducted at the distance of 1¼ miles, with both of the Championship series highlighting an outstanding card to be raced at The Downs on Sunday, September 2. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

CHESTER, PA - More The Better N, having to come from eighth at the half in a third-over flow, was just along to win his U.S. debut, a $30,000 Great Northeast Series open pace, in 1:49.1 on Sunday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. Corey Callahan took back with his horse at the start as early command was taken by Caviart Luca, who in turn yielded to Western Joe before the 26.1 quarter. The outer tier formed as Western Joe went to the half in 54.3, with favored Split The House, Sunfire Blue Chip, and More The Better N the first three in the two-wide flow. Split The House had moved into second and a challenging position by the ¾ in 1:21.3, with the two in behind him keeping in close attendance. Turning for home Sunfire Blue Chip fanned three-wide, and through the stretch it looked as if Split The House and "Sunfire" would be the major contestants, but Callahan had More The Better N flying four-wide inside the final 1/16, getting by Sunfire Blue Chip by a head. Split The House missed taking the big end of the purse by only a neck, and Western Joe was only ¾ of a length off while fourth in the exciting drive to the wire. More The Bettor N came from New Zealand with a 32-14-12-2 record and $430,168 in earnings, and did not take long to show he can go with a very high level of pacer on these shores. Ross Croghan is handling his conditioning for the Robert Cooper Stable LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC. The crowd's lack of familiarity with the abilities of the winner, which allowed him to be the day's big payoff at $16.60, will surely be reduced after his impressive local bow. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Somebeachsomewhere mare Skinny Dipper, who dead-heated for the win in her last harness racing outing, again put the photo-finish camera to work at the end of the $17,500 distaff pacing feature Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono - and this time the picture showed Skinny Dipper an outright winner by a neck in 1:51. Driver Eric Carlson had secured the lead with Skinny Dipper before the 27.1 quarter, then got a breather to the half in 56.1, with Juxta Cowgirl tucked in just behind the frontstepper. Positions remained unchanged at the 1:23.2 3/4s (favored OK Heavenly couldn't make enough of a dent first-over before fading), and in the stretch Carlson got his mare to finish out her last half in 54.4, holding off the charge of the potential pocket rocket "Cowgirl" in the close finish. This was the third win in the last four starts for Skinny Dipper, despite her stepping up in class with every trip to the gate. She is trained by Ross Croghan for the Let It Ride Stable Inc., and she now has earned $263,344. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

CHESTER, PA - Following a pair of runner-up efforts since arriving in North America, the third time was a charm for Heaven Rocks A ($2.60), who stubbornly held his ground to parry Bettors Edge a quarter mile from home en route to a 1:50 score in a $30,000 Great Northeast Series event on Sunday afternoon (June 3) at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The six-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding began his brush from midfield, as Sicily (driven by Montrell Teague) completed a :27 first quarter, put in motion by David Miller to slipstream the cover of Bettor Memories (Tim Tetrick) off the first turn before pushing clear with a circuit to go. After maintaining a stout pace through a :54.3 half, Heaven Rocks A faced a stern first-over challenge from Bettors Edge (Andy Miller) up the far side. Bettors Edge — a winner last week — worked to within a head of the leader, but was sternly rebuffed at the conclusion of a :28.1 third quarter. Heaven Rocks A powered clear off the far turn and handily maintained three and a half lengths of clearance over Always At My Place (Corey Callahan), who circled three-wide off cover to just nab Bettors Edge for second. Heaven Rocks A, who defeated Australian sensation Lennytheshark earlier this year, increased his career record to 13 wins from 30 starts.Ross Croghan trains Heaven Rocks A for Let It Ride Stables Inc., Dana Parham, and Misty Miller. by Michael Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

Ex NZ pacer Heaven Rocks who finished second beaten only a nose in his first North American will be joined by another ex- All Stars runner in the near future. More The Bettor has been purchased out of the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn and will join the US stable of Ross Croghan who also trains Heaven Rocks. Croghan an Australian born reinsman who emigrated to the United States in 1976, now ranks among the greats in US harness racing, winning several driving titles and training well over 1000 winners. Heaven Rocks had his American debut at Harrah's Philadelphia in Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon (NZ time) running a fast finishing second in 1.49.8 on a slushy track. He was driven in his first start in America by US driving legend Dave Millar. More The Bettor joins a growing list of Purdon/Rasmussen horses who are leaving New Zealand to race in North America, with the latest being champion pacer Lazarus.   __________________________________________________________________________ Australian visitor Shez All Rock (Rock N Roll Heaven-Irish Loch) has copped a terrible draw for her first New Zealand start in the New Zealand Oaks on Friday. Shez All Rock who is now being trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen has drawn barrier 16 for the 2600m mobile journey. The smart filly has won her last 5 starts in a row but will have to be extra special to win the Oaks with horses like Elle Mac, Bettor Joy and Delight In Me all drawn much better in the race. Elle Mac will start a short priced favourite in the event after easily winning last weeks Gr1 Nevele R Fillies final.   Harnesslink Media

YONKERS, N.Y. – After visiting his New Jersey stable Wednesday to train his pacers bound for the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway, Ross Croghan is excited to see what the next six weeks will hold. Croghan will start four horses in the first leg of harness racing series action at Yonkers Raceway this weekend: Call Me Queen Be and Twinkle in the Matchmaker and Waikiki Beach and Hug The Wind in the Levy. Although he’d like to be with his stars full time, a barn of 44 horses in Florida keeps him away. “I’d like to be up there with them, but I just can’t be in two places at once,” Croghan lamented. “I trained all those Levy and Matchmaker horses (Wednesday) morning. I just wanted to make sure they’re all good. They all felt fantastic. I’ve got two mares in the Matchmaker, they’re both as sharp as racehorses can be.” Although $1.2 million earner Call Me Queen Be will make her seasonal debut from post three in the third Matchmaker division Friday night (March 16), Croghan’s focus will be on up-and-coming mare Twinkle. A $77,000 yearling buy out of the 2014 Lexington Select Sale, Twinkle went largely unnoticed last year after making her career debut as a 4-year-old. In the eyes of her trainer however, Twinkle has already shown hints of being something special. “She broke beautiful and she was just so smooth and even. You could put a glass of water on her back and you wouldn’t spill a drop. When you sit behind them and you feel that, you say to yourself, ‘that’s beautiful balance,’ ” Croghan recalled. “But then, by the time she had been training for three months, it was obvious she had growing pains. Usually by 3, they’re better, but she was just one of those horses that wasn’t.” Croghan talked owners Let It Ride Stables and Dana Parham into letting the young filly develop. Even as the opportunity for a 3-year-old season came and went, Croghan never forgot the promise Twinkle showed early in her training and never gave up on the daughter of Bettor’s Delight. “It took her a long time to become a sound horse that you could push on with. I just kept putting her aside thinking she will eventually grow up and her growing pains will go away and last year she did,” Croghan said. “In this day and age, you get pressured because you pay for stakes and there was a point where I thought the owners were going to say to me enough’s enough. I told them I really like this filly and they just said ok and just put up with it. I think they’re going to get paid.” When she finally began racing, Twinkle showed she could carry her morning talent to the races. She went 11-for-12 last year with another second-place finish, good for $101,250 in earnings. In just her third start, Twinkle posted a lifetime best 1:51.3 victory from post 10 at the Meadowlands with John Campbell in the sulky. Croghan remembers the Hall of Fame driver gushing over the filly post-race. “He came in and said, ‘I think you have something special here. Green horses are not supposed to do what she just did.’ ” Now 5 years old, Twinkle will make her stakes debut in the first leg of the Matchmaker Friday night. Eric Goodell will drive the 4-1 shot from post two. Series veteran Regil Elektra will start to Twinkle’s immediate outside while defending Matchmaker champion Makenzie drew post seven. Although the competition is more seasoned, Croghan is confident heading into the series after watching Twinkle out-train Call Me Queen Be this winter. “I’m not a guy that steps on the gas too much training,” he explained. “You just ask them to step that last eighth and you’re looking across and you see that one horse is almost coming out of their hobbles they’re pacing so fast and you look across at the other one and she still has the bit between her teeth. I’ve trained her plenty now and she’s impressive. If you speak to her and then look at your watch, you go, ‘oh my god!’ I’ve had a lot of good mares and this might be one of the best I’ve had.” In addition to his Matchmaker duo, Croghan will start a pair of horses in the Levy Saturday night (March 17). Although Hug The Wind is an outsider in the third division, Waikiki Beach figures to be a major contender in the evening’s second split. A five-time Group 1 winner in Australia and earner of $708,019 for Mark Purdon, Waikiki Beach started his career with 17 consecutive victories from April 2015 to May 2016. Although he was winless in five starts as a 4-year-old last year, Waikiki Beach still finished second in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire at Menangle February 11 and fourth in the Group 1 Miracle Mile February 25. However, after a string of off-the-board finishes in New Zealand in October and November, Croghan learned Waikiki Beach could be for sale. “I went down there to buy some horses and he was just on my radar,” Croghan said. “Sensational 2- and 3-year-old. He hit 4 years old against some of the best horses in the world. As a 4-year-old, it’s not that he raced bad, he just didn’t beat the top-flight ones. He was just on my radar to check out to see if he could possibly be on the market. Through a lot of negotiating and a lot of time, I got a deal done.” Waikiki Beach shipped to the United States December 4, 2017 and after a stopover in New Jersey, the son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the Bettor’s Delight mare Cyclone Beach joined Croghan’s main string in Florida. The kind-mannered horse has proven a pleasure to work with thus far. “He’s just fantastic. His manners are impeccable. He’s just a lovely horse,” Croghan remarked. “He’s a typical ‘Beach;’ he’s just got that fire in his blood. He’s a very, very smart horse, that’s what he is. He’s got a little bit of fire in his blood, but he’s very smart. “ ‘Waikiki’ is just turn-key. You could send a child out to train him, he knows what he’s doing,” Croghan continued. “Most foreign horses, it’s a big change for them to leave their comfort zone, especially coming over in the middle of winter. From day one, he just went out on the track, never looked sideways, never took a hold of you. He doesn’t wear an overcheck, he holds himself in perfect balance at all times. He’s just a pleasure to get ready. He’s just got those beautiful racehorse manners.” Croghan had Waikiki Beach ready to qualify at Pompano January 21 and a week later, he made his fist start on U.S. soil in the Open Handicap at the South Florida racetrack. Waikiki Beach won his debut in 1:51.4 and returned the following week to score in 1:50.2. After a brief freshening before the grueling Levy Series begins, Croghan tuned Waikiki Beach up with a 1:55.4 qualifier at Pompano March 4. While he considered the trial a success, he was surprised at how lazy Waikiki Beach was on the lead. “His qualifier, I would have liked to have gone a little bit quicker, but it was his first time on the engine and he was just a little bit lazy,” Croghan said. “He just didn’t quite get into it, but when Scott Zeron came off the track with him, I said, ‘is he ok?’ He said, ‘he’s lazy on the front end, but as soon as he saw that horse coming to him, there was plenty in the tank.’ ” Croghan thinks the ear plugs used in the morning contributed to Waikiki Beach’s modest qualifier. The gelding doesn’t wear them on race day. “He has won on the front end plenty,” Croghan said. “I got him ready and made sure he stayed nice and quiet. It’s just in that last qualifier, he was a little too quiet. But he had his ear plugs in and he doesn’t have them in the race. When I race him, I take the ear plugs off him. I just keep them in for training and qualifying.” Waikiki Beach will start from post five in his Levy division Saturday night. He’ll face 2017 series winner Keystone Velocity, who drew post seven. Although Croghan is confident, he admits there is no standout in this year’s series. “The draw is in my favor, it’s not in his, but it’s six weeks of racing. I can’t say that he’s not going to be razor sharp because I actually think he will be,” Croghan said. “Between the qualifier and when he’ll race it’s going to be 13 days, but I trained him two trips (Wednesday) morning. He just felt fantastic. I do expect him to step out pretty close to 100 percent ready. “He’s a nice horse and I think he fits that series,” Croghan continued. “I’m not going to call him a standout or anything like that. It’s a very even bunch of horses and when the final comes around, the draw plays a massive part of it. You’ve got to be lucky.” First post time at Yonkers Friday and Saturday night is 6:50 p.m. For Friday’s entries, click here. For Saturday’s entries, click here. Yonkers Sunday Post Time Yonkers Raceway’s first post for this Sunday’s (March 18th) matinee has been set at 11:45 AM. Races 5 (post time 1:30 PM) through 11 (post time 4:25 PM) go as the ‘French’  trots, with the 12th-race finale scheduled for 4:40 PM. Sunday’s ‘New York, New York Double’ consists of Aqueduct’s 3rd race (post time 2:21 PM) and Yonkers’ 7th race (post time 2:30 PM). Program pages accompany this release. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 17, 2017—Call Me Queen Be (Eric Goodell, $8.20) retook the lead early and grudgingly held it late Friday night (Nov. 17th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s blindly-drawn (by modern technology) $40,000 harness racing filly and mare Open Pace. Away second from post potion No. 2, ‘Queen Be’ at first was pocketed to HP Sissy (Dan Dube) then retook before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. It was a :56.1 intermission when Regil Elektra (Joe Bongiorno) offered a fruitless, first-up bid from fifth. Meanwhile, Call Me Queen Be maintained her social status in and out of a 1:24.3 three-quarters, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. She would need just about all of it. Slight 5-2 favorite All About Madi (Brian Sears), who won the draw but sat a loose three-hole, stormed home inside. ‘Madi’s’ memo arrived a tad late as she missed a scant nose in 1:53.3. Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) left the cones to snatch third, beaten a half-length. HP Sissy and She’sjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) settled for the pre-turkey leftovers. For tepid second choice Call Me Queen Be, a 4-year-old millionairess daughter of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by Let it Ride Stables & Dana Parham and trained by Ross Croghan, it was her fourth win in 19 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $21.40, with the triple returning $63.50. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Nov. 18th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,867.20. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker  

Call Me Queen Be faces a tough group of older female pacers in Saturday's $201,000 Golden Girls at the Meadowlands Racetrack, but driver Scott Zeron expects his mare to be in the thick of the action from the get-go. It's been a successful formula for the horse, who has earned nearly $1.1 million in her career. "Even as a 2- and 3-year-old, we've kept her races kind of all the same," Zeron said. "She's made a million dollars by leaving really fast, sitting in, and letting things happen down the stretch. Whether she gets room and squeaks out or whether she gets her seconds or thirds, she's made a million dollars doing that." Call Me Queen Be, trained by Ross Croghan for owners Let It Ride Stables and Dana Parham, has won 11 of 37 career starts and hit the board a total of 29 times. Her wins include the 2016 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly pacers. She has been either first or second at the first quarter in 16 of her most recent 19 races and 28 times overall. "I know my horse really well; she can do almost anything I ask of her," said Zeron, who has driven Call Be Queen Be in all but four of her races. "Her best asset is she can leave with the car and go 25 seconds and then go a second quarter in 32 seconds. She makes my job very easy." The Golden Girls is one of Saturday's two stakes events for older pacers. Mel Mara is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the $427,400 William R. Haughton Memorial for the older male pacers, which will be contested one race prior to the Golden Girls on the star-studded Meadowlands Pace Night card. Lady Shadow, the sport's No. 2-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, headlines the Golden Girls. The 6-year-old mare is unbeaten in five races this year and owns an eight-race win streak dating back to October. She is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Golden Girls despite drawing post No. 10 in the 1-1/8 mile event. A year ago, Lady Shadow won the Golden Girls with a world-record 2:00.3 clocking for 1-1/8 miles. At the conclusion of last season, Lady Shadow received the Dan Patch Award for best older female pacer in the U.S. and soon thereafter added a third O'Brien Award in Canada to go with honors at ages 3 and 4. Lady Shadow, owned by David Kryway, Carl Atley, Ed Gold and BFJ Stable, has won 33 of 60 career races and earned $1.86 million in purses. She is trained by Ron Adams. Yannick Gingras will be in the sulky. New Zealand-bred Nike Franco, who was second by a neck to Lady Shadow last week in the preferred handicap for fillies and mares at the Meadowlands, is the 4-1 second choice from post four. She has won three of eight races this year and seven of 12 since arriving in North America. She is owned by Richard Poillucci and trained by Jo Ann Looney-King. Tim Tetrick handles the driving. Pure Country, a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3, is 5-1 from post one and heads to the race off an eye-popping 1:48 qualifier on July 1 at the Meadowlands. Pure Country, trained by Jimmy Takter, has two second-place finishes in four races this season. She has won 20 of 35 career races and earned $1.8 million for owner Diamond Creek Racing. "I knew (Jimmy) was going to drive her to kind of shake her up and wake her up," Diamond Creek's Adam Bowden said about Pure Country's qualifier, the fastest in history. "Obviously this year is a little disappointing after what she did at 2 and 3, but she's had tough trips and she's been sick most of her starts, battling something. We kind of got her cleaned up after Canada and she's showed that she's sharp again. I'm anticipating a good second half of the year now." Pure Country's impressive qualifier and Lady Shadow starting from the outermost spot on the gate add to the intrigue surrounding this year's Golden Girls. "It's going to be exciting," said Zeron, who leaves from post three with Call Me Queen Be and is 12-1. "A lot of horses could push out of there; it's going to be an interesting race to that (first) quarter, that's for sure. I think everybody kind of wants that two-hole trip if Yannick is going to make the choice to go to the front (with Lady Shadow). She tends to run out late and being in the two-hole spot to her is exactly where you want to be." Mel Mara heads to the Haughton Memorial, also being contested at 1-1/8 miles, off a second-place finish by a head to Keystone Velocity in the Ben Franklin Pace on July 1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The 8-year-old stallion has won three of five races this year and finished no worse than second while pushing his career earnings to $876,464. Boston Red Rocks, winless in nine races this year but second on five occasions and third twice, is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. All Bets Off, who earlier this season won the Battle of Lake Erie and tops the Haughton Memorial field with $2.44 million in career earnings, is next at 9-2. "I wish it wasn't a mile and an eighth; it makes (All Bets Off) more of a closer in the race," said All Bets Off's trainer Ron Burke. "We'll hope the trip works out. He's always right around there." First race post time is 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Meadowlands. The Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers, featuring Dan Patch Award winner Huntsville, and the Hambletonian Maturity, with returning Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder, will air live on cable's SNY from 9-10 p.m. For Saturday's complete Meadowlands card, click here. For a look at Meadowlands Pace night at a glance, click here. Ken Weingartner

YONKERS, N.Y. - Trainer Ross Croghan will send out strong harness racing contenders in both of Yonkers Raceway's top classes Friday night. A pair of 4-year-old mares, Prairie Sweetheart and Call Me Queen Be, are primed for the Filly and Mare Preferred Pace and the Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace, respectively. Prairie Sweetheart is the 2-1 morning line choice from post three in the $40,000 Filly and Mare Preferred Pace, the seventh on the 11-race card. A Florida bred by Royel Millennium out of the Masterman mare Taylors Lady, Prairie Sweetheart first caught Croghan's eye when she won a string of races at Yonkers and Pocono last summer for Mike Deters. Croghan purchased the filly just before departing for the Little Brown Jug and Lexington, and although she wasn't staked to anything, decided to bring her along. "I didn't want to be away from her the first month after I had just given a sizable amount of money for her, so she came down to Lexington with the rest of the horses just so I could get used to her," he said. "The second time I trained her down there, I was actually blown away by how talented she was. The way she felt, there was only one mare that could possibly beat her, and that's Lady Shadow." Croghan consulted Prairie Sweetheart"'s owners, Eric Cherry of Let It Ride Stables and Dana Parham, who gave him the green light to supplement her to the Allerage Farms Filly and Mare Open Pace. She sat a pocket trip to Lady Shadow before powering away in the stretch to win in a career best 1:49.1, beating older mares as the lone 3-year-old filly in the field in her first start for Croghan. "We did and it worked out. It wasn't preplanned, it was just a last minute thing and it made everybody look very smart," Croghan joked. Prairie Sweetheart suffered the first loss of her 15-start career in her seasonal debut at The Meadowlands April 14. She brushed to the lead up the backstretch that night and despite pacing a final quarter in :27.1, was passed in the final eighth by favored Windsun Glory and Inittowinafortune. "Her first start back was disappointing," Croghan admitted. "I took her blood and she had a little blood infection, so we waited a couple weeks and everything seems good right now." Back in good health, Prairie Sweetheart prepared for her comeback with a qualifier at Harrah's Philadelphia May 2. She finished second in 1:52.3, beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Nike Franco N, who will challenge Prairie Sweetheart again Friday as the 5/2 second choice on the morning line from post four. "I know in the qualifier, she had been a couple weeks with hardly any training, just a couple light miles waiting for the blood to get corrected. I just thought that qualifying mile would top her off. She trained back sensational. Nike Franco, she's very talented, so it's not an easy race, but I think she'll perform very well." One race later, Croghan will send out Call Me Queen Be in the $55,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. From post three, she is a 5-1 chance on the morning line behind favored Mach It A Par at 5/2. Croghan didn’t mince words about his expectations for the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere and Preppy Party Girl. "I'm expecting her to go straight to the top and dominate the race. That's what I'm expecting," he said without hesitating. "I'll be disappointed if that doesn't happen." In 31 starts, Call Me Queen Be has amassed a bankroll of $1,042,099. Last year, she showcased her talent by winning the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final for 3-year-old fillies and capturing the first heat of the Jugette before finishing second in the final. She closed the season with a victory in the Breeders Crown Final for 3-year-old fillies. "The second half of the season, she did show that she was, I thought, the best filly out there," Croghan said. "That's as good as a horse can race in that Breeders Crown. First-up. It was very, very strong." In her first start of the year at The Meadowlands April 21, Call Me Queen Be led at every call but the last, finishing second to Inittowinafortune in 1:52.0 with an individual final quarter of :26.3. Last time out, she blasted to the front from post seven at Yonkers April 28, but faded in the final quarter to finish an uncharacteristic eighth. "For the first time in her life, she had an atrial fibrillation and quit at the three-quarters, which is what they do when their heart rhythm gets out of whack," Croghan explained. "She's been treated for that and she trained sensational the other day. Her heart rate was perfect, so I'm not expecting her to do that again." Call Me Queen Be's biggest strength is her early speed. She is capable of posting sub :26.0 opening quarters, like she did at Pocono Downs last summer, and still comes back to her driver, Scott Zeron, after making those moves. "Scott has told me 20 times she is the fastest horse off the gate he has ever sat behind," Croghan said. "He's got there in :25.4 with her and said he never started her up. She's got that good tactical gate speed which is going to put her into every race she's in." Like her stablemate, Eric Cherry's Let It Ride Stables and Dana Parham own Call Me Queen Be. Longtime owners for Croghan, they are looking forward to the season ahead. "They're both great guys, they both love racing horses, and it's a good little setup," Croghan said. "We're looking forward to a fun season. We had fun last year and both fillies are very, very sound. We're going to be there." First post time at Yonkers is 7:10 p.m. Click here for entries for the card. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Lexington, Ky. - Justin MacEachern, who works in the Ross Croghan harness racing stable, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HHRNP) in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). MacEachern, 26, has worked for Croghan for three years, and in 2016 he was the caretaker of Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Pace champ Call Me Queen Be. Call Me Queen Be also included in her 2016 victories the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes final as well as the first heat of the Jugette at Delaware, Ohio, when she set a new world record of 1:50.1h for her division. "I am so overwhelmed by this, I can't even begin to explain it," said MacEachern. "When you take care of a horse, and I've taken care of Call Me Queen Be for two years and she was my only horse up until this winter, just waking up every day knowing that I had so much to do with the horse, it's just great. There is a whole connection there and it's an amazing feeling." All caretakers in North America are eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel-all of whom were former caretakers themselves-chose MacEachern as the winner. As winner of the HHRNP Caretaker of the Year Award, MacEachern will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, where he will be presented a trophy. A third-generation horseman, MacEachern had been pursuing a degree in culinary management at the Art Institute of Philadelphia when the lure of the horses changed his direction. MacEachern received several nominations, with one noting the "countless hours he has dedicated to the filly (Call Me Queen Be)" and a pacer who he needed "to use his horsemanship skills to gain the trust of." Croghan agreed, saying recently, "He has spent hours and hours with this filly giving her confidence and getting her mannered. Justin has just put his heart and soul into this horse." Croghan also noted MacEachern's attention to detail, whether it involved shipping, shoeing, exercise schedules or equipment. Another nominator noted that MacEachern "risked his own life" last winter when fire engulfed a barn at the South Florida Trotting Center. One of the first on the scene, MacEachern helped rescue several horses from the burning barn, later helping ship the injured to a nearby vet clinic. MacEachern, along with all the USHWA 2016 award winners, including Always B Miki as Horse of the Year, will be recognized during the banquet on Feb. 26. Information on tickets and accommodations for the event can be found at www.ushwa.org. by Gordon Waterstone, for Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park and U.S. Harness Writers Association  

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