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Crockets Cullen N (Christian Cullen) has endured some breaking problems of late but found just the remedy for those harness racing ills by returning to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Saturday night. Larry Stalbaum owns and drives the eight year old New Zealand invader who had to qualify following back-to-back breaks while racing at Yonkers. Crockets Cullen N returned to the Spa where he had won three consecutive starts in the local Open Pace. The morning line favorite went off at odds of 7-2 on Saturday in a five-horse feature that went for a purse of $18,000. Crockets Cullen N has done most of his damage from off the pace in his local victories but on Saturday Stalbaum wasted little time moving to the front-end as he powered Crockets Cullen N out to the lead in the early going. After cruising through a pretty comfortable first half of 56.3, Crockets Cullen N stepped on the gas heading to three quarters and never looked back before prevailing in 1:52 for his fourth straight score in the Saratoga Open Pace and his tenth win overall in 2019. Hudson Phil, an eight-time winner of the local feature this season, closed to finish second while Century Endeavor earned the show spot. Crockets Cullen N, who is trained by Tracy Tarantino, paid $9.10 to win and led an exacta that returned $29.80. Live racing continues at the Spa on Sunday with a first post time set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Clear Idea (American Ideal) returned to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday afternoon to compete in the local Fillies and Mares Open. The Blake Macintosh-trained mare has been a winning machine throughout her career and prevailed in her lone try in the local Open back in August. On Thursday, Clear Idea had Phil Fluet piloting and was the public's odds-on choice in the wagering despite being assigned post six in the six-horse feature. With several leavers in the race, Clear Idea had to be taken back to last in the early going. She remained there in a first half that went in 57.1. The tempo quickened heading to three quarters and when it did, Clear Idea had a hard time keeping up to her cover while second-over. Come Get The Cash (Jay Randall) closed in first-over on the race's tiring leader and when pocket-sitting Bye Bye Felicia, last week's Open winner, flew up the passing lane, it appeared those two were poised to tell the tale. Classy distaffer Clear Idea shifted gears a bit again in the stretch and surged up on the outside approaching the wire. When the dust settled, it was Clear Idea that emerged victorious in 1:55.3 over a track labeled 'sloppy.' Bye Bye Felicia was the runner-up while Come Get The Cash earned the show spot to keep her sensational "on the board" streak alive. The victory for Clear Idea was number 21 in 83 career starts for the five year old Macintosh trainee and was the second on the day for Fluet who won the undercard to the feature guiding longshot Surreal Feeling (So Surreal) to an upset score in the $14,000 Winners Over for fillies and mares. Surreal Feeling paid $33.40 to win while hanging on in 1:56.1. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Royal Lady (Credit Winner) was the runner-up in back-to-back tries in the winners of two but not more than five race lifetime condition at Saratoga Casino Hotel to wrap up the month of September. Since the calendar turned to October, though, the story has been much different for the Melissa Beckwith-trained trotter as she has found the winning way. Royal Lady parlayed pocket trips to wins in successive starts in October leading up to Wednesday's try in a $10,700 co-feature for New York sired trotters. Driver Mark Beckwith didn't want another two-hole trip with Royal Lady and subsequently marched on to the lead in the early going with the race's 1-2 betting favorite. The sophomore filly had her way on the engine but was met with the challenge of Song Chapter (Billy Dobson) in the stretch. Song Chapter got the pocket trip behind the favorite before taking her shot in the stretch. Royal Lady held on to win a photo over Song Chapter in a mile clocked in 1:58.1. The victory was the third in a row and fourth on the season for Royal Lady. The other co-feature saw Sassy Massy (Muscle Mass) spring a mild upset. The Cheryl Whitcroft-trained trotter won in 1:58.4 just one week after setting a lifetime mark of 1:58.3 against similar competition. Sassy Massy was driven to victory by Mark Whitcroft. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon featuring a Pick Five guarantee of $5,000. The Pick Five begins in the matinee's first race and is a 50 cent minimum wager. First post time is set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Mister Muscle (Muscle Mass) has emerged as the new stable harness racing star at Saratoga Casino Hotel for leading driver Mark and conditioner Melissa Beckwith. On Sunday, the five year old won the Open Trot for the third time in his last four tries. Mister Muscle won his first career Open last month and followed that victory up with another in his following start. After a second-place finish last Sunday, it was back to the winner's circle for Mister Muscle this week after he cruised out to the early lead in the $18,000 Open and coasted through a first half in 57.4 before remaining untested in three quarters of 1:27.2. Longshot Cartier Volo (Frank Coppola Jr.) took her shot first-over on the leader past three quarters but the chase was futile. Pocket-sitter Wings Of Royalty, the race's 3-5 betting favorite, didn't prove to be a threat in the stretch to the eventual winner Mister Muscle who stopped the timer in 1:56.3 for his third victory in the Open in the last four tries. Cartier Volo finished second while Wings Of Royalty, last week's Open winner, had to settle for third. With the earnings from the feature score, Mister Muscle moved his career bankroll to over the $200,000 mark. The winner paid $4.50 to win and led an exacta that came back $25. The rising trotting star is owned by Patricia Schneeberger of Valatie, NY. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon with a first post set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Larry Stalbaum won the Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel for the fifth time in the last seven Saturday nights when his Lord Willoughby A (Mach Three) went last to first in the $18,000 harness racing feature. Lord Willoughby A was assigned post six in the six-horse Open but benefited from an early speed duel on Saturday. With a pair of rivals going toe-to-toe in a fast first half of 55.2, Lord Willoughby A got underway past the half and moved third over heading to three-quarters. He wound up four-wide around the final turn but once he straightened up in the stretch, Lord Willoughby A had enough to come on and win in 1:53.1. The Tracy Tarantino trainee paid $8.30 in what was his second consecutive victory in the Open and his fifth win in the last six local starts. The favored Vasari N (Jimmy Devaux) made his debut in the local Open and was tested from the start of the race while on the engine before digging in to finish second. Betterlatethnnever (Mitch Cushing) closed to be third in the $18,000 feature. The exacta and triple came back $27.80 and $119, respectively. Lord Willoughby A's two Open wins come just a few weeks after Stalbaum and Tarantino's Crockets Cullen N scored victories in three of four tries in the Open Pace. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a first post time set for 12 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Bye Bye Felicia (Woodstock) sprung the mild upset in Thursday's feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Melissa Beckwith-trained distaffer was assigned post three and went off at odds of 9-2 in the six-horse Fillies and Mares Open. With fractions of 27 and 55.4 in lap one, the race's leader tired when confronted by a first-over Bye Bye Felicia. The five year old took over command past three quarters in 1:24 and was tasked with holding off the challenge of the favored Come Get The Cash (Jay Randall) who was closing in after getting a second-over journey. Bye Bye Felicia held strong in the stretch and prevailed in 1:52.4 to win the Open for the first time in 2019. Come Get The Cash has finished in the top three in every start since the middle of summer and wound up as the runner-up in the ladies' feature for the fourth consecutive week when she came up second-best to Bye Bye Felicia. Invader Shutthefrontdoor (Phil Fluet) came on to finish third. Bye Bye Felicia paid $11.20 to win in her mild upset and led an exacta and triple that returned $35 and $112, respectively, in the $18,000 Open for fillies and mares. Mark Beckwith piloted Bye Bye Felicia to her Thursday score. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Veteran pacer Dinner Guest (No Pan Intended) did something on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel that is very rare in harness racing. Normally, parlaying a pocket trip to victory after drawing the rail in a low-level condition race wouldn't be anything of note but Dinner Guest is fourteen years old. An award winner in 2018 as top Claiming Pacer of the Year at the Spa, the Frank Multari-trained veteran earned his first victory of the season on Wednesday as he came on to prevail in 1:55.4 in a conditional pace that went for a purse of $4,815. Dinner Guest enjoyed a nine-win campaign last year but mustered up only a couple of second-place finishes as well as five thirds in a winless '19 season before shaking loose late on Wednesday to score in 1:55.4. Veteran driver Dan Cappello Jr. sat behind the fourteen year old who went over the $730,000 mark in lifetime earnings with the win. It is rare enough for any horse to still be racing at the age of fourteen, the maximum age for a standardbred to compete in a pari-mutuel event, but to still have enough in the tank to register a victory is certainly uncommon and impressive. The win was career number 76 for the classy veteran who is wrapping up a sensational dozen years of racing. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon with first post time set for 12 Noon. There is a $5,000 guaranteed Pick Five pool on Thursday as the Saratoga Harness Horseperson's Association has teamed up with Saratoga Casino Hotel to offer the guarantee. The Pick Five, which begins in race one, is a fifty cent minimum wager.   Mike Sardella

Lord Willoughby A (Mach Three) was raging with pace in the stretch in his debut in the local Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel last week. On Saturday night, the Tracy Tarantino trainee wasn't going to risk getting caught inside again and driver Larry Stalbaum moved first-over at the half with Lord Willoughby A in the $15,000 Open. Bet down to odds of 9-5, the public's top choice in the wagering was tasked with grinding local star Hudson Phil (Jay Randall) into submission after a half mile in 55.2. Lord Willoughby A's pressure proved too much for that rival as the race's favorite took over the lead past three quarters in 1:23.1. Century Endeavor (Gerry Mattison), the runner-up in two consecutive Opens heading into Saturday night, shook loose around the final turn to serve as the stretch threat for the favorite. The chase proved to be futile as Lord Willoughby A stopped the timer in 1:52.2 to record his first win in the local Open. Century Endeavor came up second-best once again while last week's Open winner Betterlatethnnever (Mitch Cushing) earned the show spot. Lord Willoughby A paid $5.60 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $21 and $88.50, respectively. The victory was the fourth in the last six installments of the Open Pace for Stalbaum and trainer Tracy Tarantino whose Crockets Cullen N has recorded a trio of Open wins in the last two months. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12 Noon. For full results and entries, click here. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Eclipse Me N (Real Desire) parlayed her perfect trip to a harness racing victory in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Trainer Rene Allard, whose YS Tallia (Western Ideal) won the $12,500 Winners Over for pacing mares earlier on the card, saw his Eclipse Me N surge in the passing lane to record her ninth win of the season. Steeven Genois piloted Eclipse Me N as they sat the pocket to the race's favorite Bontz N (Billy Dobson) who set sizzling fractions on the front-end on a chilly fall afternoon in Saratoga. Bontz N was confronted by a rival in the early going in the feature and went to the half in 55.1. Come Get The Cash (Jay Randall), who like Bontz N has become a force among local pacing mares in recent months, came from last and closed quickly around the final turn before taking the lead in the stretch. It looked as if Come Get The Cash was to be the winner before Eclipse Me N gathered momentum in the passing lane and emerged victorious in 1:54. The seven year old Eclipse Me N is enjoying a six-figure campaign for the second consecutive year and added another win to her bulky total in Thursday's feature. In the five-horse Open, Eclipse Me N paid $8.10 to win and led an exacta with Come Get The Cash second that returned $41.40. Bontz N had to settle for the show spot. Eclipse Me N, who now owns four local Open victories in 2019, gave back-to-back winners on the card to Allard and owner Yves Sarrazin of Quebec, Canada who co-owns the Open's winner with Donald Mac Rae and the Allard Racing Stable. Sarrazin is the sole owner of YS Tallia who went coast-to-coast in 1:54.2 in the undercard to the Thursday feature with leading driver Billy Dobson in the sulky. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at the Spa with a first post time set for 6:45pm. For full results and entries click here. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Harness racing trotter Halliama (Conway Hall) continued his dominance of the winners of two but not more than five class at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Alek Chartrand trains and drives the three year old trotter who recorded his fourth consecutive victory when competing in the $9,000 co-feature on Wednesday. Faced with racing against Lucky June Bug (Frank Coppola Jr) who came into the day on a six-race win streak, Halliama beat that one to the punch in the early going and wound up on the front-end as an even money shot in the wagering. Halliama went coast-to-coast for Chartrand in 1:57.4, a time that was fastest of the three $9,000 events for New York sired trotters on the afternoon program. Lucky June Bug wound up first over on the winner and ended up as the third-place finisher as pocket sitter Song Chapter (Jimmy Devaux) was the runner-up. For Halliama, who spent a portion of his summer competing in the Excelsior A division of the New York Sire Stakes, the win was his sixth in fourteen tries in 2019. The other $9,000 co-features were won by Southwind Falcon (Conway Hall) and Royal Lady (Credit Winner). Southwind Falcon extended his win streak to five with a first-over score as his race's overwhelming favorite. Ron Harp trains and drives the three year old who had little difficulty extending his streak on Wednesday as he proved a decisive winner in 1:59.1 over a track labeled 'good'. Royal Lady closed up the passing lane before getting up in the final stride to prevail in 1:59.3 with Mark Beckwith driving for trainer Melissa Beckwith. Royal Lady was the runner-up in back-to-back tries before coming on to score on Wednesday. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon with a first post time set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, foir Saratoga Raceway

Veteran pacer Betterlatethnnever (Western Terror) has been a winning machine over the course of the last several years. The Jimmy Nickerson-trained pacer got his career off to a late start but once he started, he has never stopped. On Saturday night at Saratoga Raceway, the ten year old was the longest shot on the board in the evening's $15,000 Open Pace with reinsman Mitch Cushing in the sulky. After the race's favorite traveled unopposed on the lead in a first half in 56 seconds, he faltered heading to three quarters and a host of closers swallowed up the favorite around the final turn. Betterlatethnnever closed with a power surge on the far outside and emerged victorious after a scramble in the stretch, stopping the timer in 1:53.1 to record the upset at odds of 9-1. The win was the tenth of the season for the Nickerson trainee and though it was the first in the local Open in 2019 for Betterlatethnnever, it wasn't his first career victory in a Saratoga Open. Back in the '17 season at the age of eight, Betterlatethnnever won an Open in a career-best 1:50.1, a mark that still stands as a lifetime mark for the classy pacer. Century Endeavor (Gerry Mattison) finished second in the Saturday feature while Lord Willoughby A (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. Betterlatethnnever paid $21.20 to win and led an exacta and triple in the six-horse feature that returned $110 and $307.50, respectively. The Open win was the first at Saratoga in the young career of driver Mitch Cushing. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at the Spa with a matinee beginning at 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Mister Muscle (Muscle Mass) wrapped up a big day for his connections as the five year old trotter won the Sunday feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Melissa Beckwith and owner Patricia Schneeberger recorded three winners on the matinee card as a trio of Beckwith trainees recorded Sunday scores. Mister Muscle's victory in the $15,000 Open Trot was his second straight with Mark Beckwith in the sulky. Dismissed at odds of 6-1 on Sunday, Mister Muscle raced parked out for the majority of the first lap before clearing in a half of 56 seconds. Though the Beckwith trainee began to tire some in the back half, Mister Muscle had enough to hang on in 1:56.3 to complete his back-to-back jacks in the Open. Longshot Uncle Leo (Jimmy Devaux) was first over on the eventual winner and finished a strong second while the longest shot on the board Silent Pine (Bruce Cooper) earned the show spot. Mister Muscle paid $14.80 to win and led big prices in exotics. The exacta returned $125 while the triple came back $715. Schneeberger and Beckwith teamed up earlier in the card for victories with Slieve League (Federal Flex) and The Great Farini (Comaro Dasolo), the latter who recorded a new lifetime mark of 1:57.1 with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. All three of the Beckwith-trained winners' victories on Sunday were their second consecutive. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon with a first post time set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Bontz N (American Ideal) continued to show that she is a force among the lady harness racing pacers at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday afternoon. The eight year old New Zealand-bred debuted at the Spa with a win in August and immediately vaulted into Open company. Bontz N came into Thursday's try with two victories in her four starts in the $15,000 feature and wound up as the 7-5 top choice in the wagering as started from her assigned outside post position six. Billy Dobson piloted the Gary Levine trainee in the Open and powered her out to an easy lead. Over a track labeled 'good', Bontz N cruised unopposed in a soft first half of 58.3 but had two challengers closing in past three quarters in 1:26.3. Itty Bitty (Jordan Derue) was first-over and got to drop in around the final turn as Come Get The Cash (Jay Randall) closed in from the back of the pack. Bontz N faced a two-pronged challenge in the stretch but had enough to prevail for the third time in her last four starts in the Open, stopping the timer in 1:55. Come Get The Cash has become a force at the Spa as well since debuting here in July and finished second to Bontz N in the feature to extend her "on the board" streak that has now lasted almost three months. Itty Bitty earned the show spot. Bontz N paid $4.90 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $20.20 and $57, respectively. Her win was one of two on the day for her connections as trainer Gary Levine and leading driver Billy Dobson teamed up for another victory on Thursday with low-level condition mare Baddabingbaddabang. The Pick Five carryover at Saratoga on Saturday will be the largest it's been in years as a $10,950 carryover will be there for the taking. The Pick Five begins in the evening's first race on Saturday which is set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Vernon Downs harness racing invader Southwind Falcon (Conway Hall) is in the midst of a sensational stretch at Saratoga Casino Hotel and on Wednesday afternoon, the three-year-old harness racing trotter scored his fourth consecutive win. Ron Harp trains and drives Southwind Falcon who is enjoying a breakout campaign in 2019. In a $7,250 trotting event on Wednesday, the sophomore drew the rail and was subsequently the public's 2-5 betting favorite while seeking to complete the grand slam. Despite getting off to a bit of a slow start, Southwind Falcon wound up second-over approaching the half mile pole as two rivals slugged it out toe-to-toe throughout the first lap. The dueling leaders tired and Southwind Falcon swooped right by to assume command before drawing away late to score in 1:58.2. It was the fourth win in a row and eighth of the season in just sixteen starts for the Harp trainee. The Vernon-based trotter is owned by Diane and Venetia Harp of Oneida, NY. Live racing continues at Saratoga on Thursday afternoon with a first post time set for 12 Noon. There will be a Pick Five carryover on Thursday of $3,884. The Pick Five begins in the matinee's first race. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

There were eight harness racing Excelsior A Finals contested on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The culmination of the summer-long Excelsior series saw eight divisions which each went for a purse of $55,000 on a beautiful late summer evening in the Spa City. Two and three year old trotters who competed starting in late spring and through the summer saw their stakes campaigns culminate on Saturday night. It was "Miller Night" at Saratoga as reinsmen Andy and Marcus Miller prevailed in three of the eight Finals. Marcus Miller piloted Century Ferrari (American Ideal) to victory in the three year old colt and gelding pace in a sizzling 1:52.4 for his father trainer Erv Miller. Century Ferrari got the jump on his race's favorite Rickybobbynthehaus (Tyler Buter) and held that one off in the stretch before securing his fourth win of the season. Marcus Miller also sat behind the Anette Lorenzon-trained Alleyesonme As (Heston Blue Chip) in the two year old filly pace as she went coast-to-coast in 1:54.2. Andy Miller recorded a win on Saturday night as his Book Seven (Chapter Seven) went wire-to-wire in the two year old colt and gelding trot Final, stopping the timer in 1:59.4. Julie Miller trains the freshman trotter who moved his seasonal record to five for nine with the victory. Scott Zeron was the other out-of-towner to pilot a winner in a $55,000 Final as he guided the Blake Macintosh-trained Fool Me Again (Roll With Joe) to a 1:53.4 score in the three year old filly pace. Four local drivers logged victories among the eight Finals on Saturday night as well. Jimmy Devaux got the evening started for the Spa regulars by guiding Ideal Perception (American Ideal) to a front-running score in 1:54.2 in the two year old colt and gelding pace. Tony Alagna trains the freshman pacer whose victory was his third of the season. John Stark Jr. trains and drives C And T's Credit (Credit Winner) who cruised to a first-over win in the two year old filly trot, stopping the timer in 2:00 for an open-length score. Mark Beckwith and Frank Coppola Jr. each catch-drove a Finals winner on Saturday as Beckwith guided Certify (Credit Winner) to a career-best victory in 1:55, paying immediate dividends for his new connections as the three year old gelding went coast-to-coast in his first start out of the Lance Hudson stable. Coppola's win came while sitting behind George Ducharme's Hanna Dreamgirl (Chapter Seven) in the three year old filly trot. Hanna Dreamgirl sprung the biggest upset of the night, swooping the group in 1:58.3 and doing so at odds of 19-1 with Coppola at the controls. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

It is no surprise to find Wally Hennessey winning a high rate of races in upstate New York during the summer. The Hall of Fame driver, who spends the non-summer months at Florida's Pompano Park, has enjoyed countless years of success at Saratoga's harness racing track going back to the late 1980s. This year, though, Hennessey has spent the summer competing at Tioga Downs. He decided the change would benefit the handful of trotters in his stable, the majority of which he thought would perform better on Tioga's five-eighths-mile oval compared to Saratoga's half-mile circuit. As it turned out, Hennessey's horses did not thrive at Tioga. But Hennessey did. With two nights of racing remaining in the 58-day Tioga Downs meet, Hennessey sits comfortably atop the driver standings with 131 wins. The total is a record for the track, which opened in 2006, shattering the previous high of 91 shared by Jim Marohn Jr. (2014) and Howard Parker (2007). Hennessey's win rate at Tioga is nearly 28 percent. "My main reason for going wasn't that I was thinking I was going to be the leading driver," Hennessey said. "My reason was because of my stable. As it turned out, I didn't do as well as I expected to do with my own stable and I did way better than I expected to do driving. So, you never know." Over the past 10 years, Hennessey won nearly 900 races during his summer sojourns in Saratoga, so it was not an easy decision to change his routine. "I love Saratoga, I love the town, I love the people there," said Hennessey, who turns 63 on Oct. 4. "I've seen kids raised and families and I've known people a long time. But this is a business, and this was a business decision. It wasn't something I was doing with my heart. I was doing it with my head. "When you're making a change, especially at my age, the older you get, the harder it is to do. There is always that unknown. But it couldn't have worked any better. I met so many nice people, and I think in life that's quite a thing too, that you're able to meet new people. "The people were so friendly and respectful. That's kind of the way I was raised on Prince Edward Island. They remind me of the same type people. I enjoyed it. I don't know where I'm going next year, but if that's my choice, I wouldn't be second-guessing it." Hennessey, whose decision to race at Tioga was made easier knowing that a number of horsemen from Pompano spent the summer there, graded his experience an "A-plus." He will drive the final two nights at Tioga Downs and then return to Florida and get ready for the Pompano Park meet, which begins Nov. 3. He will use October to get his stable ready for action after turning out his trotters three weeks ago. "My horses were just fair," said Hennessey, who has won the past four driving titles at Pompano. "Good isn't good enough for me, I have high expectations. My horses didn't race that great. I'm not sugar-coating nothing. They were not near as good as I thought they should be. I shut them down to refresh them for Pompano. "I won't be doing any driving (until Pompano resumes), and I need that as well, mentally and physically," he added. "But I'm very happy." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

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