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WASHINGTON, PA, May 22, 2020 -- Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down harness racing March 16 at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, veteran trainer Randy Bendis had 25 horses in his stable. That's down to 23, as Bendis was forced to sell two mares to raise cash to pay his bills and avoid laying off staff. Now, that number may decline even further as racing venues in states other than Pennsylvania are reopening, forcing Bendis and his owners to consider moving their horses outside the Commonwealth for a chance to earn money. Not only would that reduce income for Pennsylvania horsemen, horsewomen and their supply chains, but a diminished horse population also could make it harder for The Meadows and other Keystone State tracks to assemble full, quality fields when racing does resume. All harness racing in North America shut down in mid-to-late March and has been dark since. But because trainers, grooms, security personnel and track and facilities maintenance staff still report to work each day to feed and exercise horses, the vast majority of people needed to stage live racing already are on the backside and following stringent CDC safety measures. Live racing would require only a few more people, including state judges and a broadcast production crew, action that would have negligible impact on public health. States have begun to realize this and have announced reopening schedules for their racetracks. Ohio venues will resume racing today, while the states of New York, Delaware, Indiana and Minnesota, as well as the Province of Ontario, have announced June reopening dates. (All venues will race without spectators.) If Pennsylvania doesn't take a similar step soon, Bendis, says, he'll be forced to ship some of his horses to jurisdictions where they can earn purses to offset ongoing expenses. "If we don't get any news here, two of my horses will go to Hoosier Park (Indiana), four to Ohio and two more to Yonkers (New York)," says Bendis, who owns a piece of most of the horses in his stable. "My partners have suggested sending their horses to trainers at jurisdictions that are racing, and I really can't argue with them." Bendis indicates he knows of horsemen who have taken part-time work delivering groceries and driving for Uber to keep some cash coming in. Things haven't reached that point yet for trainer Sarah Andrews, but she can see a time when they might. At the start of this week, Andrews' stable at The Meadows had nine horses. That has changed. "I sent one to Indiana on Monday," she says. "My owner has horses in four different states, so there's no reason not to move them to states where they can race. I can't hold my owners hostage." What really hurts: the Indiana-bound horse is Statham N, a fast-class pacer almost certain to turn a healthy profit this year. If Pennsylvania racing doesn't reopen soon, Andrews and her staff may not see any of it. "I'm hoping my owners will send their horses right back here once we start racing," she says. "If they don't, my stable will slowly disappear." By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, June 3, 2019 -- Bluebird Jessie seized the lead from post 7 and romped to a facile 1:54.2 harness racing victory in Monday's $20,000 Open I Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Cue Hall challenged first up from third, but Tony Hall had Bluebird Jesse well in hand, as the pair held off Cue Hall by a length. Rising MVP rallied for show. Sarah Andrews trains Bluebird Jesse, a 5-year-old Jailhouse Jesse-Bluebird Swandrful gelding who triumphed for the sixth time this season and now boasts $315,084 in career earnings, for Brian Carsey, John McGill and Adam Friedland. In Monday's subfeature, the $17,000 Open II Trot, She Nuit shot the Lightning Lane to score in 1:55 for Brian Zendt, trainer Jeff Conger and owner Joe Urban. The 8-year-old daughter of SJ's Caviar-Bonne Nuit extended her career bankroll to $225,736. Hall collected four wins on the 13-race card while Mike Wilder fashioned a triple.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 4, 2018 -- Vague Traces dueled with Dapper Dude the entire final quarter before edging him at the wire to capture Saturday's feature at The Meadows, a $13,000 Conditioned Pace. Dapper Dude needed a 26.4 opening panel to make the point and gamely retook the lead when passed shortly thereafter. Vague Traces also was hard used, finding a seat fourth from post 9 before moving first over for Jim Pantaleano. Vague Traces was a neck better than Dapper Dude, scoring in 1:50.4, with the rallying Lincolnjames third. Sarah Andrews trains Vague Traces, a 6-year-old Always A Virgin-Village Junior gelding who now boasts $295,406 in career earnings, for Michael Jurczykowski. It was one of five wins for Pantaleano -- including four consecutively spanning races 5-8 -- on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the program features a $100,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake for freshman filly trotters. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 26, 2018 -- Pilgrims Tide exploded first over down the backside, opened up a daylight lead and rolled home to victory -- his second straight -- in Tuesday's feature at The Meadows, a $13,000 Conditioned Trot. Dismissed at 8-1, Pilgrims Tide was third when Dan Rawlings sent him after the leader, Goodtogo Hanover. The 5-year-old Muscle Massive-Raysofgrace De Vie gelding was ahead by 3 lengths before the field turned for home, ultimately downing the 4-5 favorite, Swell Chap, by a length in 1:54.4. Chef Lee shot the Lightning Lane for show. Sarah Andrews trains Pilgrims Tide for Sandbur Farms, Valarie Sutton and Joseph Hemingway. Aaron Merriman and Dave Palone each collected four wins on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday with a special twilight card, first post 5:30 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, May 26, 2018 -- Tony Hall and trainer Sarah Andrews teamed for four wins Friday at The Meadows, including the $13,000 featured race with 26-1 long shot Nitro Seelster. Nitro Seelster attracted so little support in the Conditioned Pace because he was stuck with post 9; when he was parked the opening quarter in 26.3, it appeared bettors were right to look elsewhere. But the 8-year-old Camluck-No Strikes Against gelding repelled the mild challenge of Royaltyhasarrived and triumphed in 1:51.3. John's Dream rallied for second, a length back, with the pocket-sitting Lord Of Winterfell third. Sandbur Farms and Valarie Sutton campaign Nitro Seelster, who extended his career bankroll to $245,963. Dave Palone also enjoyed a big Friday, collecting four victories on the 11-race card. After a brief Memorial Day break, live racing at The Meadows resumes Tuesday, when the program features a pair of rich total-pool guarantees -- $10,000 for the Pick 5, $7,500 for the Pick 4. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows            

WASHINGTON, PA, March 29, 2018 -- For more than 20 years, Sarah Andrews paid her dues, working as an assistant trainer for a number of stables, including some of the most prominent in harness racing. All that hard work and learning has paid off, as Andrews has emerged as one of the leading percentage trainers at The Meadows this year. Andrews will send out five horses Saturday, when the card begins at 1:05 PM. Harness racing was an unusual career choice for the Illinois native, whose family has little background in the sport. But when Andrews was 16, a family friend took her to the nearby Marengo, IL farm of trainer John Butenschoen. Except for a brief, unhappy stint in a manufacturing plant, she's been involved with Standardbreds ever since. After working for Butenschoen, she relocated to the New Jersey stable of Carl Porcelli, Jr. -- she conditioned a few of her own horses as well -- before signing on with trainer Joe Holloway. "I gave up my horses in New Jersey to work for Joe, be around some nice horses and learn about the 'baby' end of the business," Andrews says. "I've always worked for people I thought could teach me something, and I'm using what I've learned from all of them." For Holloway, she assisted with some of the sport's superstars, including Always B Miki, who would go on to become the fastest Standardbred ever, and Breeders Crown champion Divine Caroline. "She did a lot of work with Divine Caroline," Holloway recalls. "She helped the horse, and that helped her also." When Andrews, 42, thought she might ready to start her own public stable, Holloway had some advice for her: " I said, 'You're not going to stay here forever.' I thought The Meadows was a good place for her to set up. She had no deep roots here, so it was easier for her to make the move. I think it's paid off for her." Andrews wasn't an instant success at The Meadows, but it was pretty darn close. In 2017, only her second full season here, she had a breakout year, sending out 34 winners and compiling a highly respectable .253 UTR. She's on track to eclipse those results this year; her current .344 UTR places her fourth among The Meadows trainers. Meanwhile, her stable has grown from a couple horses to 14 representing a diversity of owners. Upgrading her stock is her next objective. "We're going to the Meadowlands sale next month to see if we can get some actual power horses," she says. Andrews' Saturday quintet includes: Purdy Sam (race 2, post 4); Save The Shark (race 3, post 2); I'm Feelin Good (race 6, post 6); Nitro Seelster (race 7, post 1); Allbeef N Nobull (race 7, post 9, racing uncoupled with Nitro Seelster). Of that group, Andrews gives the class-dropping Purdy Sam, with Tony Hall driving, the best shot to win. "Tony really gets along with that horse," she says. "He seems to get more out of him." Weekend racing at The Meadows kicks off with a special Friday twilight program, first post 5:30 PM. On Saturday, Mychoice members can compete in the Road to the Triple Crown Thoroughbred Handicapping Contest. More information is available at the retail counter in the track's Racebook. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 7, 2016 -- Seeyouatthefinish blew up the tote board Monday at The Meadows when she moved relentlessly first over to pull off a 29-1 harness racing shocker in the $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. Seeyouatthefinish was sixth down the backside when Dan Rawlings sent her after the leader, Show Runner. The 6-year-old daughter of Western Terror-Moon Scooter finally reached the front in mid-stretch and held off the rallying Spreester by a neck in 1:52.4. Aniston Seelster shot the Lightning Lane for show. Sarah Andrews trains Seeyouatthefinish, who extended her career bankroll to $196,545, for Bernie Paul and Deb Paul. Jim Pantaleano collected three wins on the 14-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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