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YONKERS, N.Y. – In the early morning hours on Wednesday, October 2, Talvikki Niiniketo prepared to travel across the Atlantic Ocean with Zacon Gio ahead of the trotter’s start in the Yonkers International Trot Oct. 12. Joining Zacon Gio in his equine transport container, the pair were hoisted into the bay of a cargo 747 jumbo jet and waited for their departure to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport from eastern Belgium’s Liège Airport. For seating, Niiniketo made do with an overturned bucket. For safety, she held on tight. “It was actually really exciting. It was the first time to go on a really big airplane and when it leaves, sitting there in a big container on a water bucket,” Niiniketo recalled. “First, I was thinking, ‘how am I going to hold on.’ In the end, it was really easy. And also for the landing, I was sitting there on a water bucket with him. It wasn’t so bad. I think it’s worse where the people sit, you feel it more.” Traveling to the United States to compete in harness racing’s World Cup was beyond Niiniketo’s dreams even one year ago. As a self-described city girl, the idea would have seemed impossible to Niiniketo growing up in Helsinki, Finland. “I’m the only one from the family who likes horses,” said Niiniketo, who tried to recall her first equine encounter. “I don’t know, I just saw them and I loved them. I don’t remember, maybe it was some carnival or something where I saw this pony. Then I started riding school to ride the ponies. I actually had a riding horse, that was my first own horse, a riding horse. I did dressage. It’s a Finnish horse, a cold-blooded horse named Syntipukki.” Niiniketo’s passion for horses led her to the sport of harness racing. A desire to see the world took Niiniketo to Italy in the mid-2000s and she worked as a groom and caretaker in trainer Erik Bondo’s stable. Niiniketo returned home to Finland in 2008 to complete her schooling and with that accomplished, in 2011 she moved back to Italy where she’s lived ever since. After six years working for Bondo, Niiniketo sought new surroundings, eager to see how training varied from stable to stable. She came to work for Holger Ehlert in March 2018. Zacon Gio arrived in Ehlert’s barn a few months later and Niiniketo was assigned his caretaker. A son of Rudy Griff out of the Yankee Glide mare May Glade Font Sm, Zacon Gio was then a 3-year-old with nine wins in 16 starts, but had failed to factor in stakes company, finishing third of five in the Group 3 Gran Premio G. Stabile, eighth in the Group 1 Gran Premio Citta' di Napoli, and seventh in the Group 3 Gran Premio Regione Puglia. Thinking highly of the trotter and desiring to unlock his potential, owner Giuseppe Franco transferred the horse to Ehlert. Intent on getting Zacon Gio to the Italian Trotting Derby in late September 2018, Ehlert started the horse September 1 in a Cesena invitational. However, after getting a second-over trip and angling three wide into the stretch, Zacon Gio finished a flat fourth. His connections thought better of their Derby dreams. “We tried to make (the Derby), it was really short time,” Niiniketo said. “We raced him once almost immediately so that we could see how he was. He wasn’t good in that race. He wasn’t ready for the Derby. Thank god, the owners, even though it was really big money, they agreed to skip the Derby so we had time to try to make him better. We tried to make him better because no one knew what he would become.” In her time working with Zacon Gio, Niiniketo has learned to work with the trotter’s big personality. “He has a lot of character and he’s really playful,” Niiniketo explained. “Sometimes he does some things that are a little bit silly, but that’s only because he just wants to entertain himself. Maybe it’s boring to just go around the track, so he has to make something fun. “He eats all the blankets, he eats everything,” she continued. “When we had the bottled water (in quarantine) and I go to put the water in the bucket, he takes the bottles from me and throws them around. Blankets, he eats right away. If he feels it’s a little bit too warm, he takes them off right away and then it’s in little pieces in the box. He is the boss.” Zacon Gio reemerged for Ehlert October 25, 2018 when he cruised in a Bologna overnight. After that, the wins piled up. Over the following 11 months, Zacon Gio won his next 10 starts, including Group 2 successes in the Premio Citta' Di Torino and the Gran Premio Regione Campania and Group 1 wins in the Premio Unione Europea and Gran Premio Tino Triossi. “He’s been only getting better every race,” Niiniketo said. “He’s only 4. He’s growing mentally and he’s growing physically. From when he came last year, he’s really gained much muscle. He’s double that of when he came.” Zacon Gio’s exploits in Italy improved his record to 20-for-29 with $496,834 earned. Zacon Gio also garnered the interest of the Yonkers racing office, which awarded him an invitation to the New York track’s signature race, the Yonkers International Trot. Zacon Gio’s connections accepted and in late September, Niiniketo and Zacon Gio began their trek to America. They endured a long ride from Ehlert’s stable to Grosbois Training Center southeast of Paris, France. There, Zacon Gio went his final training trip before flying overseas, completing 2,000 meters over the Grosbois track October 1. Then, it was on to Belgium to board the plane before finally landing in New York. However, with a mandatory 48-hour quarantine, Zacon Gio couldn’t ship to Yonkers Raceway until October 4. “We were really worried about the 48 hours when we couldn’t see them, but in the end, it was quite fun because then we were free to go anywhere. After that, you’re stuck going to feed him three or four times a day and can’t really go so much,” Niiniketo said. “I’ve never been in America before. This is the first time. We went to the Empire State Building and we walked around. It was quite fun. We were in the city both days, just shopping.” Niiniketo and Ehlert worked with Zacon Gio at Yonkers in the week leading up to the Yonkers International Trot. Unlike at home, Zacon Gio spent nearly all of him time in his stall. Whenever the caretaker fretted over the upcoming race, she looked to the horse to settle her nerves. “He can’t go to the paddock. He’s used to spending a lot of time out, I just leave him in the paddock and I just take him in just before I have to train him. He gets ready and I go,” Niiniketo said. “Here, he has to be in the box, so he’s like a little bomb when you walk here. “The only thing that was worrying me was how would he take the trip. He’s been drinking and eating, but you never know because they can’t tell you if something’s wrong, so you never can be sure,” Niiniketo said. “All the team has been really nervous and they come and see, is he tired, is he OK, and I have to just keep in my head that I know him, I (work with) him every day, and I think he’s like always.” Zacon Gio confirmed Niiniketo’s intuition Saturday afternoon, October 12, when he crushed his competition in the $1 million stakes while running his streak to 12. Although driver Roberto Vecchione typically puts Zacon Gio on the point at home, the pair came from off the pace in the trotter’s first start outside Italy. Racing in fourth early, Zacon Gio hugged the pylons around the first of five turns in the 1 1/4-mile Yonkers International as Atlanta set a dawdling tempo and Uza Josselyn prompted to her outside. Entering the second turn, Vecchione angled Zacon Gio to the outside to follow the Swiss mare’s cover. Zacon Gio remained on hold for Vecchione until they reached the midway point of the backstretch the final time. Forced three deep by Guardian Angel As, Vecchione put the whip on Zacon Gio’s tail and the trotter took off like a Manhattan taxi getting a green light. Entering the final turn, Vecchione yanked out the ear plugs and by the midway point of the bend, Zacon Gio left Atlanta in his wake. With Vecchione calling out to his mount, Zacon Gio put up a 3 1/2-length lead in the stretch. In the final sixteenth, the driver took the lines in his left hand and letting Zacon Gio trot through the finish on a loose line, pumped his right hand to the sky in celebration. Slide So Easy of Denmark, who rode a pocket trip behind Atlanta, angled out behind the tiring pacesetter and finished second 3 1/4 lengths behind Zacon Gio. Marion Marauder of Canada was third. Niiniketo met Zacon Gio on the track and hooking a lead to his bridle, walked him to the winner’s circle. She held onto Zacon Gio as dozens of people – owner, trainer, driver, blacksmith, family, friends, and more swarmed around the trotter. Zacon Gio stood quietly as Italian flags fluttered around his head and his connections were hoisted into the air in celebration. Someone even tucked a flag into Zacon Gio’s browband in the chaos. “I’m always scared about the winner’s circle. When he won the first Gran Premio, that was in Florence, and there he also went really fast and should have been tired,” Niiniketo remembered. “Roberto gave the horse to me to take him. I drive around to go in because he’s supposed to be really nice after the race because he’s supposed to be tired. I went by some horses and he just put the tail up and was ready to go again.’ ” With pictures taken, Niiniketo walked Zacon Gio back to the paddock. When the trotter returned to his stall with his new white and blue Yonkers International Trot blanket draped over his back, the trotter stood tall, cotton-stuffed ears forward, eyes wide and bright, nostrils barely flaring as he breathed gently. His vanquished foes were blowing hard and restless after their 10-furlong journey around the hilltop oval. “He’s not ever tired. I’ve never seen him tired,” Niiniketo commented. “He’s just getting better and now this was again another step. He had to race against the older horses who are strong. We don’t know what the limit is.” Niiniketo walked Zacon Gio across the paddock to the washstand and waiting for their turn, the pair circled around with Zacon Gio on a loose lead as Niiniketo accepted a congratulatory phone call. After being hosed off, Zacon Gio took a few gulps of water from a bucket and completed the post-race testing procedures at his own pace before Niiniketo led him back to the barn down the hill from the paddock. Taking the horse path back to the barn, Niiniketo and Zacon Gio encountered three of the adoring connections and were greeted with chants of, “Zacon! Zacon! Zacon!” Niiniketo’s face lit up in a smile and one of the roisterers thrust a beer into Niiniketo’s hand. Zacon Gio stopped and waited quietly for his caretaker to take a few sips before she passed the drink back and the pair continued on their trek. After crossing the road feeding from the Yonkers Ave entrance, the horse path bent to the right, hugging the southeast side of the parking lot and winding downhill. At the bottom, it swung to the left again back toward the barn. On the half-mile hike, Niiniketo looked forward to giving her trotter a well-earned break after getting home. Zacon Gio will be reunited with his paddock, a luxury he was deprived of while staying at Yonkers. “The trainer makes the decisions and talks with the owner now, but I think he’s going to now have a little vacation and take it easy and then start to train for the Gran Premio Lotteria in May,” she said. “That’s our next big thing. I’m going to just forget about him for a week in the paddock so he can just do what he wants to do. Eat grass and be by himself. He likes it.” As Niiniketo approached the barn with Zacon Gio, she reflected on her time in New York. Only an hour removed from the race which more than doubled the trotter’s earnings to $996,834 and opened doors for more adventures to come, she tried to grasp the magnitude of the victory. “It’s been amazing and everything has been so nice,” Niiniketo said. “It’s so well-organized. You never have to worry. If there’s something (wrong), in five minutes, they fix it. That’s really nice. In Italy, it’s never like that. Here, in five minutes everything is fixed. “It’s a dream come true, of course. Doesn’t happen to every girl,” Niiniketo said. “It’s unbelievable. I can’t even get hold of it yet, what he just did, what we just won. It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t even imagine it a year ago. And I’ve been doing quite good with normal horses, but no one like him because there is no one like him, there’s no one like him.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 6:50 p.m. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York’s Executive Director, Alex Dadoyan, will be leaving his harness racing position at the SOA of NY to take a position with MGM Resorts Yonkers Raceway as Director of Racing. “MGM having someone with his knowledge of the racing game will be beneficial in both the short and long term for the racing product at Yonkers, our horsemen and the industry,” said SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo. “The SOA of NY has benefited from having Alex these last six years to help us fulfill long term goals that many said were merely pipe dreams, including the initiation of the only regularly scheduled simulcast of American harness racing which took place from Yonkers Raceway to the French PMU,” Faraldo continued.    “Alex helped the SOA of NY to promote and tighten the global bonds that unite horsemen from North America to Europe to our down under partners in Australia and New Zealand.  Alex’s departure from the SOA leaves big shoes to fill, but we wish Alex well in his transition to MGM, and we look forward to a long and productive relationship with Alex and his colleagues at MGM as we build upon our successes of recent years,” Faraldo concluded. Sometime after the International Trot on October 12th the SOA of NY will be canvassing for a new Executive Director whose duties will include general Administration and handling our Welfare and Retirement Funds in conjunction with the officers, directors and trustees of the Association . From the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Quincy Blue Chip is a rare type to find for sale. Blue Chip Farms bred the Chapter Seven daughter out of the Cantab Hall mare Sirenuse and the filly accomplished big things for her breeder and owner. At 2, Quincy Blue Chip won four legs of the New York Sire Stakes for trotting fillies and placed in another three before finishing second to Winndevie in the $225,000 Final at Yonkers last September. At 3, Quincy Blue Chip returned to sweep the elimination and $209,500 final of the Empire Breeders’ Classic for sophomore trotting fillies at Vernon Downs May 17 and 27, respectively. She then rattled off another two wins and two seconds in New York bred stakes in the barn of Gareth Dowse, including a 1:53.2 lifetime best score at Tioga July 14. One day later, Quincy Blue Chip sold to Rich Banca in an online auction for $335,000. “She’s a good horse. You don’t see horses like her where you’re able to buy them very often, if ever,” Banca said. “I bought her on OnGait. I saw her race, but I didn’t see her in person before. It’s very hard to find good horses and she’s a good horse. She came up for sale and I bought her.” When Quincy Blue Chip arrived at Banca’s stable and the trainer finally laid eyes on her, he was impressed. “I loved her. She’s beautiful. She’s just a perfectly built horse,” Banca said. “She’s really good-looking. She looked really healthy; she was well taken care of. I couldn’t ask for more.” Quincy Blue Chip debuted for Banca and co-owners Barbara and Jim Boese in a $118,800 leg of NYSS at Monticello July 29. Starting from post two, the filly led at every call and posted a 1 3/4-length victory in 1:56.2. Quincy Blue Chip then returned to Vernon Downs Aug. 8 for another NYSS leg. Starting from post seven, driver Jim Morrill, Jr. had the whip on the filly’s tail leaving the gate in a bid to secure the early lead. However, Sweet Chapter and Sensibility left to Quincy Blue Chip’s inside and Woodside Charm blasted to her outside. Barreling three wide into the first turn, Quincy Blue Chip made a rare break in stride before a :26.2 opening quarter. Despite the miscue, which left her eighth 9 1/4 lengths behind, Quincy Blue Chip recovered to finish fourth. “Jimmy said they were just flying into that turn and it’s just something that happened. I don’t think there was any real reason for it, they were just going that fast. It just happened; she made a mistake,” Banca said. “I don’t think that was her fault, I just think she got pushed a little hard into the turn,” Banca continued. “I think she was really good even after she made a break. She came back to finish fourth. If that didn’t happen, I don’t think they could have beat her.” Quincy Blue Chip’s next effort gives credence to Banca’s high opinion of the filly. She went to Batavia Aug. 23 and streaked to a 2-length win over Winndevie in a track-record 1:55.4 mile. Quincy Blue Chip’s 11th win in 20 starts boosted her earnings to $525,387. “She was super. Jimmy said she was just unbelievable. She was great,” Banca said. Off her latest win, Banca feels Quincy Blue Chip has earned a chance to compete in open company stakes. She will do so for the first time at Yonkers Raceway Saturday night (Aug. 31) when she starts in the $124,334 Hudson Trot. Quincy Blue Chip drew post five in the first of four stakes on the card and will again have Morrill in the sulky.  “I just think she’s good enough. I think she’s good enough for it. It’s close to home and I wouldn’t miss it,” Banca said. “There’s good horses in there. It’s not going to be easy, but I think if she gets a good trip and nothing unfortunate happens, I think she’ll be fine.” Quincy Blue Chip is the 3-2 morning line favorite, but will have six challengers. Joe Holloway’s Starita will make her first start on a half-mile track. She won in the Reynolds at the Meadowlands July 6 and enters off a third in the $135,000 Zweig Memorial at Vernon Aug. 17. Jezzy’s Legacy posted a 4-length win in the Stallion Series at the Meadows Aug. 19 and drew the inside post in the Hudson Trot. Magical Beliefs won in the Arden Downs Stakes at the Meadows July 27 and enters the Hudson Trot off a third in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Aug. 19. Sexy Wow, Golden Tricks, and Personal Paradise complete the lineup. For Banca, a win with Quincy Blue Chip on the Grand Circuit at Yonkers would be especially meaningful. Leading trainer at Yonkers in 2017 and third in the current standings with 80 wins in 544 starts, the Hilltop is Banca’s home track. Banca was also introduced to the Boeses through an SOA of NY program. “It would be unbelievable for me, especially since it’s at Yonkers where I race. The owners are great people and I would love to win the race for them,” Banca said. “The first horse I got for them was one of those French trotters (Adagio de la Tour). They called me up about getting one of those and it’s really just worked out. They own Weslynn Dancer and a lot of nice horses. They’re great owners and friends and it’s worked out great for us.” Saturday night’s card also features the $500,000 Messenger Stakes Final, the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, and the $122,224 Lady Maud. The $46,000 Open Handicap Pace supports the stakes-laden 12-race card. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 6:50 p.m.  By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Wisdom Tree’s first three starts at Yonkers all yielded the same results. The then 2-year-old filly started from outside posts and make breaks late in her miles, failing to earn a check in New York Sire Stakes company, including the $225,000 final October 14, 2017. Since that race, the Betterthancheddar daughter is perfect at the Hilltop in four tries and made amends for her freshman defeat with a 1 1/2-length score in the NYSS final for 3-year-old pacing fillies last fall. Wisdom Tree will look to run her Yonkers streak to five when she starts in the $46,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Friday night. It will be the Jeff Cullipher-trainee’s first start in the Yonkers distaff feature. “I think she gets over (Yonkers) very well,” Cullipher said. “She’s just really easy. She can leave, she’s very versatile, she can do anything. She’s great-gaited, that helps. She’s just a medium to small horse, she does everything right for a half-mile track.” Wisdom Tree went 11-for-18 last year and earned $436,111 for Cullipher and co-owner Tom Pollack. The pair bought Wisdom Tree out of the 2016 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for $28,000. Out of the Artsplace mare Wisdom, Wisdom Tree caught Pollack’s eye as a half-sibling to Rich Wisdom. “Me and Tom Pollack, we go (to the sale) with a budget and she was within that. Tom actually had a brother to her and that’s how we originally noticed her,” Cullipher said. “We always try to get a couple of New York breds, we like the New York Sire Stakes. That wasn’t our forte, but we knew eventually we would branch out that way.” Cullipher, leading trainer at Hoosier Park in 2017 and 2018 and currently topping the standings, has branched out east as intended. He has about 20 horses at White Birch Farm in New Jersey and Wisdom Tree now races out of his stable when she treks east, having previously gone to Ed Hart. “Before, we would only send two, three out and we always sent them to Ed and everything always worked out good. Now, I’m enlarging my stable of my own,” Cullipher said. After Wisdom Tree’s NYSS final win last September, Cullipher took her to the Red Mile where she finished second a division of the Tattersalls in 1:48.2 October 6. She raced three more times through October 26, but only mustered two thirds and a fifth. Cullipher decided to give the filly a break. “We got pretty tough on her. We took her to Lexington and she went a huge mile, paced 48-and-2. That took a lot out of her,” Cullipher said. “We raced her a couple more times and she just wasn’t herself. She’s been good to us, so we just gave her extended time off and tried to shoot for this year.” Wisdom Tree returned with victories a pair of qualifiers at Hoosier Park in early May. Although she’s now 4, Cullipher sees much the same filly he did working with her at 2.  “She’s actually still the same today as she was training her down as a baby,” Cullipher said. “She never did anything flashy, but always did everything right. That’s still her today.” Wisdom Tree started 2019 posting a :25.3 final quarter to finish second in a distaff open at Hoosier Park May 22. She won her next start in 1:50.4 in the same class a week later, but made a break next out June 8. “She laid over those horses. The night she made a break, she came from last and was blowing right by them, but she did it coming off the turn and I think she was just going so fast she took a little dive in and overpaced herself,” Cullipher said. Wisdom Tree returned to her winning ways in her next start June 22, taking another Hoosier distaff feature in 1:50.4. After a local win in a $30,000 overnight July 5, Cullipher took Wisdom Tree to the Grand Circuit.  Wisdom Tree finished ninth with a tough trip in the Golden Girls July 13, fifth in the Lady Liberty while individually timed in 1:48.0 on Hambletonian Day, and fourth in the Artiscape in her last outing August 18. Year to date, she’s 3-for-9 with $62,971 earned. “Obviously, she’s made good money, but she’s just a tick below what she needs to be to really compete with Shartin and Caviart Ally. We’ll continue to give her a chance. She’s not getting embarrassed,” Cullipher said. “The money’s not on her card like we would like for it to be. That’s why when we can, we’re going to hit spots like Yonkers and hopefully we can do OK going for good enough money there to get some money on her card." In her return to Yonkers, Wisdom Tree will start from post two and face six rivals. Unlike in her 2- and 3-year-old seasons when she had 13 different drivers, Cullipher has tried to keep a consistent presence in the bike this year. Sam Widger drove in each Midwest start while Dexter Dunn got the call in her last three starts on the East Coast. Dunn will drive again Friday night. “I liked when Dexter called and said he would come and drive. It made me feel a lot better that he had the confidence in her,” Cullipher said. “That’s made things a lot easier this year. She’s been so easy, and easy to drive, so everybody seems to get along with her.” Apple Bottom Jeans is also dropping out of stakes company for trainer Dylan Davis. She finished second in the Rainbow Blue June 28, third in the Golden Girls, second in the Barton at Plainridge July 28, and paced 1:47.4 when fourth in the Lady Liberty. She is 5-for-18 this year with $272,015 earned and will start from post six with Corey Callahan in the sulky.  Alexa’s Power won this Open in her last start two weeks ago and drew immediately outside of Wisdom Tree for Jim Marohn, Jr. and Jim Campbell. Last week’s winner Betterb Chevron landed post four after starting from the seven last out. Jordan Stratton has the return call for Lance Hudson. Miss You was second to Betterb Chevron last week, but drew post seven this time. Feelin Red Hot was third behind Alexa’s Power and Dibaba in her last outing and will start from post five for George Brennan and Ron Burke. Nine-year-old mare Mach It A Par will start from an assigned post one. “I’m going to leave it in Dexter’s hands, but I think it’s going to work out very well. She’s versatile enough that she can do whatever she needs to do and I have the confidence in Dexter to have her in the right spot,” Cullipher said. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 6:50 p.m.  By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Sandra Kaufman, Chairman of the co-sponsored SOA of New York/Yonkers Raceway Scholarship Committee, has announced that Jennifer Lauer is the winner of the 2019-2020 Scholarship Award in the amount of $5,000. The second place award of $3,000 went to Dean Blumenfeld and John McDermott picked up the third place scholarship award of $2,000. Jennifer Lauer is currently enrolled at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She is pursuing a veterinary degree and plans on becoming an equine veterinarian. Jennifer’s father Bruce trains a stable of horses racing in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dean Blumenfeld is currently enrolled at Arizona State University pursuing a PhD in Anthropology. Dean’s father Paul trains horses in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. John McDermott is currently enrolled at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. John’s father John McDermott races horses at Yonkers Raceway and around the East Coast. The annual SOA/Yonkers Raceway scholarships are awarded to SOA members, or members of their immediate families, or to covered individuals (backstretch personnel) or a member of their immediate families, for study beyond the high school level. The recipient is chosen on the basis of merit and financial need. The applicants were judged first by an independent third party to produce the top five candidates. Then the Committee selected the top three winners from the five finalists. Personal information from all the candidates was redacted when presented to the independent party and the Committee to assure a blind judging process. From the SOA of New York

YONKERS, N.Y. – Monday evening at Yonkers Raceway, Steve Starr gathered in the winner’s circle with about 30 of the track’s drivers, horsepeople, officials, and even the outrider. The group came together in recognition of Starr’s 47-year career at the track, which ended Monday as Starr announced his retirement. Growing up, Starr dreamed of becoming a Standardbred breeder and graduated from Delaware Valley College with a degree in animal husbandry. However, life guided him to Yonkers Raceway, where he took a job assisting Ed Parker and Richard O’Donnell in the race office in the mid-1970s. That job blossomed into a career and Starr soon became the track’s race secretary, a position he maintained through Monday.  Starr reflected on his career, the challenges facing the industry, and looked ahead to retired life with the SOA of NY’s Brandon Valvo Wednesday evening. BV: Congratulations on your career and on your retirement. How does it feel? SS: I’ve been retired for 24 hours and it feels great. I spent most of the day with my wife and my youngest grandchild, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m off on the right foot.  BV: They had a big ceremony in the winner’s circle for you. What was that like for you, how did you feel? SS: It was great. Over the course of the years, there have been so many great people in that winner’s circle and it really was a thrill to be down there. To have all those drivers and trainers and grooms and officials with me, I enjoyed it. BV: What made you decide now was the right time to call it a career? SS: Truthfully, I’ve put 47 years in and I’m going to be 70. I worked for the Rooneys my whole life, and it was great working for them and their family. They couldn’t have treated me any better over the period of 47-years and I have no regrets ever working for the Rooneys and (Vice President and COO) Bob Galterio. When MGM bought the place in late January, I just thought I was too old and too set in my ways to go forward with MGM and adjust to their changes. I spoke to my wife and I wanted to work until we got through the International Trot, but that’s two-and-a-half months away and we’d miss the whole summer, so I decided to get out now while the getting is good. BV: You mention the summer, do you have any plans coming up or anything you’re looking forward to? SS: Just staying local, I have a son and daughter. I live in Pleasantville, they moved to Pleasantville, with my grandchildren. I’m very happy right now. What my wife and I want to do is sell our house, we want to downsize, stay in Pleasantville. So, we have some work to do to keep us busy and once we do that, my new life will begin. This is still business. BV: How did you get involved in racing and how did you decide this was the career for you? SS: When I got out of college, I got the opportunity to work at some stud farms and I took that opportunity. I wanted to stay in the breeding business, that’s what my desire was early in my life. When I got to the farms, I felt they weren’t using me to the best of my abilities, so when an opportunity opened up at Yonkers, their assistant had moved on and I went down to interview for the job and I was very fortunate to start working for Ed Barker and the Rooney family. That was in 1974 and from there, my tutelage was under Ed Barker and Richard O’Donnell. In early 1977, I was given the job of race secretary and I was there in that position ever since. BV: What was it like when you first started working at Yonkers? What was the racetrack like back then? SS: It was great. It was $2 million a night in handle, good attendance. The work was outrageous, I never worked so hard. Ed Barker, he wasn’t a slave driver, but he was meticulous about how he wanted everything done. It was a tie and a coat when you went in to draw in the morning and then when you came back in the evening, it was a tie and a coat. There wasn’t a relaxed atmosphere back then, it was more business than anything else. The ABC system requires a lot more time than conditioned racing and that’s how I started. I worked that system until ’91 or ’92. It was a lot of work then; I can’t even tell you how much work. They days were 10, 12 hours, and those were good days. BV: You would spend a good portion of your day handicapping the horses and trying to classify them appropriately? SS: Yes, I learned that under Ed Barker and Richard O’Donnell. As an assistant, you work a little harder than most, but the whole system was different. You had to really watch those races pretty carefully so you could be sure about what you wanted to do. Move them up, move them down. These guys livelihoods were in your hands. It was important to do things right if you could. I liked it until Roosevelt closed and everyone was doing conditions except me. It was very difficult at that time to do ABC. When Roosevelt, was open, they could go to Roosevelt for a few months, then come to Yonkers for a few months. We both worked the ABC system, so it was easy to keep them classified and know where they were going to race. When we were the only ones doing ABC, every horse that came in had to be reclassified unless they were claimers.  BV: I imagine one of the biggest changes made during your career was the switch from ABC to conditions at that point? SS: Absolutely. It was night and day, like two different jobs. You give the horsemen more latitude to decide where they wanted to go. Your condition racing was by age, sex, money earned. There was a lot of opportunity to decide where you wanted to race, plus the claiming races. It really turned over the racing program more in the hands of the trainers and owners than the race secretary. There were a lot less arguments then, too. BV: What was it like when the casino came to Yonkers? SS: That was something brilliant, that was the greatest thing that happened to harness racing at Yonkers and in the State of New York. We were all in the same boat and the Rooneys kept that place going. When we opened the casino in 2006, it really made all the difference in the world. When we first opened, we got somewhere between $40- and $45 million for purses and that worked its way up to $50 million dollars. That made the biggest difference in the world. It sure made my job a lot easier. BV: Talk a little more about how the game has changed over the last 10 years or so. How has your job changed more recently? Everyone talks about the horse shortage; did you feel that at Yonkers? SS: Before we closed for the casino to be built, we were really struggling because the purses were not good. They still had the shipping to do, they had bridges to cross, and probably a lot of people just didn’t want to come to Yonkers. When we reopened, our purses gradually got much better. At that point in time, we had more horses than we knew what to do with. Eventually, that started to wean itself. The horse population is really bad at Yonkers only because for someone to ship to Yonkers, it costs about $250 and that probably doesn’t include the groom and paddocking, just for tolls and gas just to pull one of those trailers across the bridge. The expense is just exorbitant to get to us. Sometimes when they have to opportunity to race at Chester or Pocono, they race there instead. Now it’s more difficult and the only thing that makes it more difficult is lack of horses, but I’m not alone. I think that’s going to be one of the biggest problem the industry faces in the future. I think the horse population will be more important to deal with than anything else and I don’t think it’s far away, either. I would say probably within 5 or 10 years. BV: You look at entries for the top pacing races at a lot of the tracks, you have 20 or 30 New Zealand- and Australia-bred horses per night.  SS: That’s right, they’re filling these races, really. Especially the better classes. You can’t fill and Open and a Winner’s Over, you can’t fill those two classes. There was a time when you had an Open and two Winner’s Overs and they were pretty good horses. Now, you can’t fill them the same day, with mares, trotters, and the aged pacers. There just aren’t that many horses who can race in those classes. Chester and Pocono, if they didn’t have their series back and forth with the final, if they didn’t have that, they wouldn’t have any high-class races at their tracks. They don’t even try to fill Opens over there anymore. BV: How do you think that problem is going to be addressed? SS: I don’t think they’re taking it seriously right now. They know there’s a problem, but I really don’t think they realize how big this problem is going to be. There’s only one way to address it and that’s to have more horses. I don’t know how you get people to breed. These farms are putting out as much as they can. There really aren’t that many individuals that breed anymore, there’s just a few big farms that do most of the breeding. I don’t see that changing other than them increasing their broodmare bands and producing more yearlings, but I don’t know if they can do that or not. To raise a mare and a yearling and sell it is really expensive. BV: You mentioned the Yonkers International Trot at the beginning of our conversation. Talk about what it was like for you when that race was revived in 2015. What was it like to be a part of that? SS: I was tickled to death. I was scared. I didn’t know how it was going to work, I couldn’t speak anything but English. I was lucky, I was introduced to a guy from Europe. He’s a racetrack operator, but he’s also a friend of the horsemen. His name is Klaus Koch. With his assistance, we were able to put these fields together. When we started in 2015, it was not easy. The purse is $1 million, and you would have thought you weren’t giving them anything but a slice of pizza. It was comical. You have to wait a long time to fill these races because the Europeans don’t make a commitment right away. You have to be within a month of the race before they make a real commitment. It’s getting better now, but in 2015, they just didn’t want to make an early commitment. From the horseman’s side, I can’t argue with them, but as the race secretary, I wish they made up their minds a lot sooner. This year could be the best year ever. It certainly would have been if that French horse (Aubrion Du Gers) didn’t get killed in that accident on the track. He had already made a commitment to come with Dijon, the horse that won the Elitlopp. This was shaping up to be a really good race. Every horse I wanted to come was a grade 1 winner. This was the best year I ever had, it was unbelievable the way this was turning out and it’s still shaping up to be one of the best fields ever. I’m sure Bob Miecuna working with Klaus, they’ll get this race together. If the people who are interested now make a commitment, it will be a great race in 2019. BV: Listening to you talk about the International, it sounds like something you are really passionate about. SS: Oh, I was. When they came back with the race in 2015, it was $1 million. That was the second time we had a million-dollar race, we had an Art Rooney Pace for $1 million once. MGM was gracious enough without knowing much about racing to keep this race going. The SOA of NY of course, they’re very much a part of the race. They contributed 100 percent to the affair. BV: Talk more about the relationship with the horsepeople and the SOA of NY. That must have been a big part of your job as well. SS: It was, and I’ll tell you something, it’s a lot easier to get along with the horsemen than it’s not. Back in the ‘80s when Joe Faraldo and the SOA took over, it was a war zone at Yonkers. I didn’t know if I was going to make it home every night. But as things turned around and things got better, our relationship with the horsepeople got better. My relationship with Joe Faraldo and the SOA is 100 percent sound. They’re great people to work with, they’re reasonable, and if you work together and think together, you can make anything happen. The best way to run your business is to get along. Joe and I, we eventually many years ago started to get along and it really made things a lot better and I think it made the races a lot better, too. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

The Yonkers Raceway SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series gets underway Tuesday April 2 at Yonkers Raceway. There is a $10,000 bonus made available by the SOA of NY for the series winning trotter, provided that the driver, trainer and all owners are current SOA of NY members at the time the first leg of the series is drawn. Any horse that changes owner or trainer after time of declaration of its first start in the series will be ineligible to race in the finals or consolations.  The deadline to become a member is this Thursday March 28. Owners are encouraged to make sure their SOA of NY membership is current for the 2019 season and can do so by calling the SOA offices at 914-968-3599. As an added convenience, membership can now be processed directly online at www.soaofny.com/membership. One year memberships are $35 or the three-year option is $75. The Yonkers Raceway SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series has three $25,000 preliminary legs on April 2, 9 and 16. The $55,000 added Final, now estimated at more than $70,000, is scheduled for April 23.    SOA of NY

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike, presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is proud to announce that they will partner again with the Standardbred Owners Association of New York to present a George Morton Levy "Bracket Buster March Madness" harness racing tournament. The bracket buster challenge is completely free to enter and has a top prize of $250 to the winner. The contest is limited to the first 64 players who enter at www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com. Each contestant will pick two horses (one top selection/one alternate) in each leg of the Levy Series beginning next Saturday (March 16) and will earn points based off where the horse finishes. Entrants will get three points for first, two points for second, and one point if their horse finishes third. Selections for the contest must be in by Thursday evening at 9:30 p.m. (EDT). Entrants will be in a randomly seeded 64 man single-elimination tournament and the opponent will be determined by random draw. If you defeat your opponent, you move on. If you lose, you will be eliminated. Tiebreakers will be determined by the amount of points their alternate selections score. Entries close on Wednesday, March 13 at 12 noon. For more information and complete rules visit www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com. Michael Carter

YONKERS, N.Y. - Trainer Lance Hudson imported five harness racing horses from New Zealand and Australia in late 2018 with the hopes of having a fresh band of competitors for Yonkers Raceway's 2019 season. The new pacers included Betterb Chevron, who won her first three races including the distaff feature in her latest start Feb. 1 and Letschasethedream, who ran his streak to three wins before coming up short January 26. The surprise of the bunch, though, has been Don Domingo. The 7-year-old gelding has won four straight races to begin his Stateside career and will try to extend his streak to five in Saturday night's $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway. "I knew he had some ability, I knew he was fast, but he just seems like a horse that gets it done," Hudson said. "I've got a horse that he's training with that I like better, but he hasn't been quite as good. He's been OK, but he hasn't had four wins in a row like Don Domingo. Don Domingo just seems to be an over achiever right now. I've got some talented horses in my barn. I didn't think he was a slouch by any means, but I didn't think at this point that he'd be 4-for-4." Hudson considered buying Don Domingo after being approached by agent Peter Larkin. Despite Don Domingo's form in New Zealand tailing off in late 2018 with two straight eleventh-place finishes at the free for all level, Hudson saw potential for Don Domingo to have a successful career in the United States. Hudson noticed Don Domingo had been racing at distances of 2,600 to 3,000 meters and felt the American Ideal son would benefit from a turnback. In addition, Don Domingo had been keeping company with the likes of Dream About Me and The Fixer, two of the top pacers in the Southern Hemisphere. "An agent called me one day and told me about the horse. Basically, he went and worked him and he thought the horse had good manners and he thought he would be OK at Yonkers, so we purchased him for $63,000 landed and that's how it all began," Hudson said. "He was going distance. He was going basically 2 miles and he was racing the best over there," Hudson continued. "He's a horse that I don't think is super durable. He's a horse that's more fit for a mile race than 2 miles. When you look back in his form, when he wasn't going that distance, he was very competitive when he was going shorter distances." Don Domingo finished final race in New Zealand October 5 and arrived in Hudson's stable later that month. He arrived healthy and without suffering from any ailments from the long trek north, was ready to qualify in mid-December. However, with Yonkers closing for the holidays, Hudson took a conservative approach for Don Domingo's first United States trial. "I knew he had some ability, but there was no other place to qualify at the time. The last week of Yonkers, he was ready, but we started him at Monticello, just a qualifier, and then raced him once just to get him a start and get him acclimated to racing in the States," Hudson explained. Don Domingo finished second to Texas Terror in his qualifier and won his debut in 1:54.4 in the winner's over at Monticello January 2. Hudson then brought Don Domingo to Yonkers where the gelding won three straight; he took two $23,000 overnights in off-the-pace fashion before posting a pocket-sitting victory over I'm Some Graduate for $29,000 in his latest outing February 2. "He's basically done it about any way," Hudson admired. "We haven't really put him on the front even though we've left the car with him a little bit. He's been first-over, he's been third-over, and he's sat the two-hole. He's very versatile, that's for sure. Whatever situation he's in, he always seems to find a way. He just seemed like an average horse, but he always seems to get the job done no matter what he's got to do." Don Domingo will face his toughest test so far in Saturday night's pacing feature. The competition includes last week's Open winner Rockathon, last week's Preferred winner Imarocknrollegend, and Anythingforlove, who will seek his third straight win from post seven off scores in 1:52.4 and 1:51.4. Mighty Mr Sharkey, Stormount Czar, Techtor Hanover, and Bellow's Binge complete the field. "He's definitely in with better horses, but the horse that he beat sitting on his back, I'm Some Graduate, is a pretty decent Open horse," Hudson said. "A lot of times at Yonkers, it's just how the trip goes and how everything goes down, but they'll know he's in there." Although he' unsure how good Don Domingo is, Hudson expects to find out in the coming weeks. Saturday's race will help determine whether Don Domingo is nominated to the George Morton Levy Series, which closes next Friday (February 15). "We have some options whether to put him in the Levy and that type of thing," Hudson said. "I'm not exactly sure. We're OK where we are with him for now. We'll see what happens Saturday and we'll have to make some decisions about what we're going to do with him." Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Last year, Rich Banca and Barbara and James Boese watched as New Zealand-bred mare Kaitlyn went on a tear. The American Ideal daughter won her first four harness racing starts in the United States at Harrington for trainer Josh Parker and went on to win across the East Coast at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the Meadowlands, and Yonkers.  Although she began her campaign in the non-winners classes, Kaitlyn worked her way up to Harrington’s Open ranks. She beat the top mares at Harrington four starts in a row last fall and earned $110,875 in the season. Boese, the track’s Chief Operating Office and General Manager, took notice and bought her, bringing Banca in on the partnership and giving him the horse to train. “I had seen her at Yonkers. (The Boeses) watched her down there and they liked her. They picked her out and they bought her,” Banca said.  Kaitlyn is the latest horse the Boeses have teamed with Banca on after their successful partnership began with the Adagio de la Tour last summer. The French-bred came to the United States as part of the French American Trotting Club, finished second in the $120,000 final, and went on to earn $122,640 last year. “I have quite a few horses with them, they’re really good people,” Banca said. “It started with the French trotters. They wanted to buy one of the horses coming from France and they called me up and asked if I would take the horse. I said yes. That’s where it started and I’ve gotten a bunch more sense.” Kaitlyn made her last start for Parker November 21, finishing second in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap at Dover Downs. Banca turned her out with the intention of getting her ready for a 2019 campaign. She qualified back in 1:56.2 with Matt Kakaley in the sulky while finishing second to Havefaithinme at Yonkers February 2. “We bought her, she got turned out for a while, and we brought her back and qualified her last week,” Banca said. “We turned her out for a while after we bought her, gave her a break and got her fresh and well. It was probably about a month and then we trained her back and qualified her. “I didn’t see it, I wasn’t there, but Kakaley likes her a lot. He said she was very good, so that was enough for me,” Banca continued.” Although it is difficult to gauge her talent without seeing her race, Banca is pleased with Kaitlyn so far.  “I haven’t had her very long, we haven’t raced her yet. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see what happens, but so far, I can’t say a bad thing about her,” he said. “She’s nice. She’s a good-looking horse, she doesn’t do a thing wrong. I like her. I’m really happy with her. She’s perfect.” Kaitlyn will start from post six in the $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Friday night (Feb. 8). She is a 7-1 morning line with Kakaley back in the bike. Her rivals include 5-2 early favorite Delishka, who won three straight Opens in Delaware in January before finishing fourth and third in her first two tries at the Hilltop, respectively.  Invader Nerida Franco is 4-1 off two victories in the Filly and Mare Select at Dover, but drew a difficult assignment in post seven. Amateur Hour is also 4-1 and benefits from an assigned inside post after Paul Blumenfeld claimed her for $30,000 two back. Ella Michelle won the Yonkers Distaff feature two starts ago and will start from post three with Joe Bongiorno in the sulky. Shez Sugarsweet, Shezza GNP, and Itty Bitty complete the lineup. “She’s only got one qualifier, she’s been off for quite a while. I’m not expecting to see her best. I think she’ll need a start or two,” Banca said of Kaitlyn’s prospects first time out. “We’ll try and get her right for the Matchmaker. “I hope she’ll be a contender in the series,” he continued. “It’s hard to say, we haven’t raced her yet, but I hope she is. She’s done everything right and part of the reason for buying her was for that race and we’re going to stake her to some other things. Hopefully she’s up to it.” Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOANY

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Casie Coleman drew up the plans for McWicked’s 2018 campaign, Yonkers Raceway wasn’t among the potential targets for the star pacer. In fact, no half-mile tracks were, in part because Coleman believes McWick d is better on a big track and in part because owner Ed James of S S G Stable doesn’t like to race his horses on half-mile ovals. Coleman was surprised then, when James expressed interest in racing in the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace on the Yonkers International Trot undercard, especially since the timing of the race could upset McWicked’s path to the Breeders Crown. Despite the risk, Coleman changed course with McWicked to make the race, carded as the 11th of 12 on today’s program (October 13). “It wasn’t on the schedule at all. I wasn’t planning to get invited to it. It’s nice we did, obviously,” Coleman said. “My plan was to ship him home to Canada Sunday morning and have a week off to get ready for the Breeders Crown; that was the original plan that I thought was going to be perfect.  “When we got invited, you can’t turn it down. I didn’t think the owner would want to go. If the Breeders Crown goes eliminations, he’s going to be at six races in a row going into that Crown final, so it’s not something I would recommend,” she continued. “I’m really praying the Open Pace will go right to the final and then we’re perfect if that happens, but if they go elims, we’re going to be scared to have a tired horse going into the Crown final. The owner, I told him about it and he wanted to go. He said, ‘we’ll take a chance,’ so we’re going and we’ll hope for the best.” McWicked is the top earning Standardbred in North America this year with $1,053,864 in the bank. Wins in the Ben Franklin Final, Haughton Memorial, Canadian Pacing Derby, and a 1:46.2 lifetime best score in the Allerage Farms Open Pace last time out at the Red Mile October 6 earned him an invitation to the Rooney. It’s the best season the 7-year-old McArdle stallion has enjoyed since his sophomore year and has bolstered his record to 30-for-89 with $3,375,376 in career earnings.  “He was really good last year. He wasn’t this good, but he didn’t get into a lot of those big races because they went by money earned on the year and he didn’t have any money earned on the year,” Coleman said. “Now that he’s got money on his card, he’s been in all the big dances and he’s as strong now as he’s ever been, no doubt. He thinks he’s 3 again.” In his most recent start, McWicked raced off frantic fractions of :26.1 and :52.1 set by Western Fame and Heaven Rocks. He followed Filibuster Hanover around the final turn and tipped wide past three-quarters in 1:19.1. McWicked struck the front with a furlong to pace and held off parked-out rival Lazarus in the final sixteenth to win by ¾ lengths. “I couldn’t have been any happier with the way it set up. ‘Wicked’ seems to get a lot of tough trips, he’s first-over a lot. He seems to respond to it, he always races really well obviously,” Coleman said. “When I saw the fast fractions up front and he was second-over, Lazarus ended up being parked the mile, so that was to our advantage. I was really happy for the way it was setting up. “He’s been pacing some pretty big miles and that track was the fastest track I’ve seen of any track,” she continued. “That track was lightning. I was definitely expecting a big, big mile and with the fractions, it set up to go a big mile.” Despite McWicked’s torrid winning and beaten times – he’s been sub-1:50 in all but one of his 2018 starts at a mile and sub-1:49 in five – McWicked is a lazy horse in training and until recently, was a muted personality in the barn. “He’s always been a cool horse. As a 3-year-old, he was a really quiet horse. He made no noise and you would never even know he was in the barn. Now, he’s doing double duty, he’s breeding and racing, so he’s squealing and roaring and he knows he’s the boss, basically,” said Coleman, who’s trained McWicked for the bulk of his career. “There’s not many horses I’ve had as long as him except for back when I had claimers because the other ones either go to be broodmares or stallions,” she said. “He’s been around a long time. It’s pretty cool. We always call him the mascot. There’s not many mascots that are in the barn that have made $3.3 million. We call him the mascot because he’s been there forever. “To drive he’s an absolute sweetheart. If you want to go a mile in 2:25, he’ll go in 2:40. He’s very, very lazy. When you watch him race, he doesn’t want much part of the race until they’re past the half. He’s always gapped out and that’s just him,” she continued. “As a 3-year-old, he used to leave more, but this year, he’s very lazy. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s a nice horse, he just squeals and roars a lot, makes a lot of noise, makes sure everybody knows he’s there.” Only $180,990 of McWicked’s career earnings have come on the half-mile track. He finished fifth in the Little Brown Jug and third in the Messenger at 3. At 5, McWicked finished third in the Molson Pace before finally winning on the half at age 6; he took a $30,000 overnight at Yonkers in his 2017 debut March 11 and won a leg of the Levy Series a month later. He finished last in the Levy Final April 22 for trainer Steve Elliot and hasn’t raced on the half since. “He gets around the half fine, he’s good-gaited. I haven’t been to the half that much with him,” Coleman said. “When I went to the Jug, I was extremely excited about McWicked. I thought he would fly over the half and he was no good there, I wasn’t happy with him, he was flat. I never really did find out what it was.  “I’m hoping he’s fine,” she continued. “I don’t see why he’ll have an issue with the half because he’s very good-gaited and he’ll get around anything, but he’s definitely not at his best on the half like he is on a big track.” McWicked drew post 2 in the Dan Rooney Pace and is the 2-1 morning line favorite with regular reinsman Brian Sears in the sulky. Nuclear Dragon is 5-2 from the inside off a front-stepping 1:50.2 score at Dayton while Endeavor to McWicked’s immediate outside enters off a similar score at Hoosier.  Bit Of A Legend, who finished second to Wiggle It Jiggleit in this race in 2015, will start from post 4 off a win in the local $44,000 Open Handicap Pace last out. Evenin Of Pleasure, Mach It So, and Always At My Place complete the lineup after the late sick scratch of Lazarus Friday morning.  “I have no idea what Brian will do on the half,” Coleman admitted. “The rail horse has a ton of speed and the three horse has a ton of speed. I don’t know what Brian will do, but as long as we get away midpack somewhere, I’m happy. I just hope that we can get our picture taken again.” Today’s card also features the $1,000,000 Yonkers International Trot and the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot. First post time is 1 p.m. For entries to the card, click here. For more information on the International Trot and its participants, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Training wrapped up on a hot and humid morning Sunday at the Red Mile. There were few clouds to provide cover from the beaming sunshine; the old barns and trees in the backstretch providing a reprieve from the sweltering conditions.  Jimmy Takter brought a horse in off the track and returned to his barn around 10 a.m. Relaxed a day after sending Lazarus to a second-place finish in the Allerage Farms Open Pace and the morning before starting Manchego and Tactical Landing on the Kentucky Futurity Card, Takter joined assistant Per Engblom at a table on the patio at the end of his barn facing the racetrack.  Still in his black, white, and green driving colors, Takter sat back. Legs crossed and comfortable in the shade, he pulled up a replay on his phone of Great Vintage’s second-place effort in the $44,000 Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers the night before and smiled as he watched the 10-year-old battle with Bit Of A Legend in the stretch while pacing a 1:51.1 mile. “This is one of my favorite horses,” Takter said, his eyes glued to the screen. “To do what he’s done and still be going at 10 years old is amazing.” Although Takter’s Hall of Fame resume includes four Hambletonians, six Hambletonian Oaks, 33 Breeders Crowns, an Elitlopp and a Prix d’Amérique just to name a few, Takter still has items on his bucket list as the Grand Circuit season winds down in his final year of training. Namely, he has never won the International Trot. It’s a race he’s dreamed of winning since he started his career in Sweden.  “It was a race that I saw a lot before I even came here. The French horses came over and won. This was a classic, classic race. I’m really glad they brought it back. People love it,” Takter said. “This was long before I came over here that I knew about the race and then it unfortunately disappeared for a while and wasn’t on the radar. Now of course, we just have two $1 million races in the sport, the Hambletonian and this one. “It would mean a lot. I would be really, really excited,” he continued. “This is my last year of training and to end up winning, that’s another stripe on my shoulder. It would be something.” Takter has competed in the International Trot twice before. He trained and drove Whiteland Image to a sixth-place finish in the 1995 edition, the last before the race would be revived in 2015. Takter started Creatine in the Yonkers International Trot’s reappearance; the Andover Hall stallion returned from a European campaign to represent the United States, finishing third after setting the tempo. “Long, long time ago. I don’t even remember it to be honest with you. I don’t think my horse was any good that day. They used me in the last spot, they had an opening or whatever,” Takter said of his International debut with Whiteland Image. “That was the year Melander won, His Majesty. Then I raced Creatine three years ago. He was third, so it’s time to do it now.” This year, Takter will start Ariana G in the $1 million stakes. The 4-year-old mare will represent the United States for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. One of the last of the 10 competitors to be announced, Takter accepted the invitation from Yonkers Raceway race secretary Steve Starr just after her win in the Dayton Trotting Derby September 28. “I had it in the back of my head that it would be interesting to race her there,” Takter said. “I know she’s only 4 and you never know, but she showed she could compete against the aged horses. Especially now that she won at Dayton, I feel very good about it. “I talked to Steve before Dayton and I told him, I don’t want to go unless the filly is good,” Takter continued. “He actually called and invited me for the $250,000 (Harry Harvey Invitational), and I told him I’m not going to jeopardize the Breeders Crown for that race, but I’d do it for the International Trot. I waited to see how she raced at Dayton and when she won there, then I knew.” Ariana G entered the Dayton Trotting Derby off a third in the Maple Leaf Trot September 1 and a sixth in the Preferred at Mohawk September 11. She tipped three-wide off the turn in the $150,000 stakes, grinding down Guardian Angel AS and holding off Warrawee Roo to post a 1:52.1 victory and establish a new track record. “I thought she was going to race good, but we were a little bit nervous because we had sick horses up in Canada and she hadn’t raced good the start before, so we were really a little bit worried going into it that she wouldn’t be herself,” Takter admitted. “I think she was 90 percent and I think with this start in her, I think we’re going to be good.” Ariana G’s off-the-pace win in the Dayton Trotting Classic is the 26th of her 37-race career. Victories in the Doherty Memorial, Peaceful Way, Hambletonian Oaks, Elegant Image, the Breeders Crown at 2 and 3, the Graduate Final, and Hambletonian Maturity contributed to her $2.3 million bankroll.   “She’s been a World Champion from 2 years old and she’s just been phenomenal,” Takter remarked. “Every year, she just gets a little bit more mature. Now she’s a 4-year-old, she’s starting to look more professional, but she’s been a class horse from day one.” Despite her impressive record, Ariana G has never raced on a half-mile track and has never raced further than 9 furlongs. She will have to navigate the turns of Yonkers’ half-mile oval five times in the 1 ¼-mile International Trot.  Ariana G will face nine rivals in the Yonkers International Trot: Arazi Boko (Italy), Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden), Lionel (Norway), Marion Marauder (Canada), Pastore Bob (Sweden), Ringostarr Treb (Italy), Slide So Easy (Denmark), Up And Quick (France), and Will Take Charge (Canada). She drew post four and is a 5-1 morning line with Yannick Gingras in the sulky. “She’s never raced on a half-mile, but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. She’s pretty handy,” Takter said. “I really don’t know the European horses too much. There’s a couple of horses who can really bust out of the gate good and I don’t know if they have the stamina. I think the two horses that are big contenders are ‘Ariana’ and Marion Marauder. Whoever gets the best trip is going to be close there. “I don’t think I want to see her do the dirty work too much,” he continued. “It’s a mile-and-a-quarter. If she’s sitting fourth or fifth with decent horses in front of her, maybe working out a second-over trip the last lap, would be the dream spot.” The $1 million Yonkers International Trot is slated for Saturday, October 13 at Yonkers Raceway. The card will also feature a pair of $250,000 invitationals, the Harry Harvey Trot and Dan Rooney Pace. For more information on the event and its participants, click here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

New York, NY --- Marion Marauder, who finished second in last year's $1 million Yonkers International Trot, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday's (Oct. 13) 40th edition of the invitational, which will be raced at 1-1/4 miles at Empire City Casino's Yonkers Raceway. The 5-year-old stallion, representing Canada, was made the top choice after getting post No. 1 on Tuesday at the event's draw and press conference at Manhattan's 21 Club. Scott Zeron will drive Marion Marauder for trainer Paula Wellwood. Marion Marauder has won six of 10 races this year and finished no worse than second in any start. He heads to the International Trot off a win in the Caesars Trotting Classic on Sept. 21 at Hoosier Park. Other victories in 2018 include the John Cashman Memorial and Cleveland Trotting Classic. He was second in the Maple Leaf Trot and Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational. "It beats the heck out of the seven or eight hole, that's for sure," said Mike Keeling, who shares the training duties on Marion Marauder with his wife, Paula Wellwood, about drawing the rail. "At least we won't be parked. "He loves three weeks between races and this works out perfectly from his last start. I think he's probably a touch better than he was for the Hoosier race. We're really pleased with him right now. As long as he's in good shape and the race sets up for him, we'll be fine. "I follow the Europeans a little bit. I know Lionel, I know Ringostarr Treb. The other horses I'm not so familiar with. We'll look at the program pages. We can only do what we can do, it's up to Scott to figure out the rest." For his career, Marion Marauder has won 20 of 48 races and earned $3.08 million for owners Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling. He was the 2016 Trotter of the Year after winning the Trotting Triple Crown and captured another Dan Patch Award in 2017 as best older male trotter. Marion Marauder has enjoyed success at Yonkers, with three wins and two seconds in five career starts. One of the victories came in the Yonkers Trot on his way to the Triple Crown. Ariana G, the U.S. representative and lone mare in the field of 10, drew post three and is 5-1 on the morning line. The International Trot has been won by a mare 11 times, most recently by Peace Corps in 1991. The International Trot was contested from 1959 through 1995 before being resurrected in 2015. A Dan Patch Award divisional champion at ages 2 and 3, the 4-year-old Ariana G has won five of 11 races this year and heads to the International Trot off a win over male rivals in the Dayton Trotting Derby on Sept. 28. Other victories this season include the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate Series championship. She also won her elimination for the Maple Leaf Trot and finished third in the final. For her career, Ariana G has won 26 of 37 races and earned $2.36 million for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Yannick Gingras will drive the mare for trainer Jimmy Takter. "You have to be happy with the draw," said Gingras. "But I think most of the good horses got good spots too. It will be a tactical race, but we can't complain about where we'll start. "I think she's super sharp. She raced really good in Ohio in her last start. Jimmy skipped Lexington pointing toward this race. I think it was a smart move, no doubt. I think she's got as good a shot as anybody." Will Take Charge, a second Canadian representative as a late replacement for the Netherlands' Dreammoko, drew post seven and is 6-1. The Jeff Gillis-trained 5-year-old gelding, who will have Tim Tetrick in the sulky, has won nine of 21 races this year, including the Crawford Farms Open Trot and Maxie Lee Memorial, for owner Mac Nichol. For his career, he has won 21 of 71 starts and $848,116. Elitloppet winner Ringostarr Treb, one of two horses representing Italy, leads the international contingent. The 8-year-old stallion is trained by New England native Jerry Riordan, who conditioned last year's International Trot champion Twister Bi. Ringostarr Treb, who has won 30 of 86 career races and $1.57 million, will start from post four with driver Wilhelm "Wim" Paal and is 4-1. The stallion is owned by E.V.A.M. Racing. "I'm very happy about the post," Paal said. "It keeps me a little bit out of the traffic in the first turn. I can choose my own race. I think there are four or five horses that have a good shot in this race --- Marion Marauder, Up And Quick, Ariana G. For me, Lionel is a horse you should not underestimate because he shows his best at a mile-and-a-quarter and he is a classy horse. "I think the small track gives a big opportunity to the four (inside) horses. They are all good horses and were lucky in the draw." Up And Quick, who won the 2015 Prix d'Amerique, drew post two and is 10-1 with top Yonkers driver Jason Bartlett in the sulky for trainer Antoine Lherete. The 10-year-old stallion, representing France, has won 16 of 74 career races and $2.81 million. He is owned by Ecurie Quick Star. Lionel, representing Norway, drew post nine in the second tier and is 10-1 with owner Goran Antonsen set to drive. The 8-year-old stallion, trained by Daniel Reden, won his Elitloppet elimination and finished fifth in the final. He has won 23 of 69 races and $1.67 million. The remaining International Trot participants are Italy's Arazi Boko, Sweden's Cruzado Dela Noche and Pastore Bob, and Denmark's Slide So Easy. For video of the post draw click here. Racing begins at 1 p.m. Saturday. The International Trot is race No. 8 on the card and scheduled for 3:40 p.m. Following is the field in post-position order for the $1 million Yonkers International Trot. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Marion Marauder-Scott Zeron-Paula Wellwood-3/1 2-Up And Quick-Antoine Lherete-Jason Bartlett-10/1 3-Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/1 4-Ringostarr Treb-Wilhelm Paal-Jerry Riordan-4/1 5-Pastore Bob-Johan Untersteiner-Johan Untersteiner-8/1 6-Cruzado Dela Noche-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-12/1 7-Will Take Charge-Tim Tetrick-Jeff Gillis-6/1 8-Arazi Boko-Alessandro Gocciadoro-Alessandro Gocciadoro-15/1 9-Lionel-Goran Antonsen-Daniel Reden-10/1 10-Slide So Easy-Flemming Jensen-Flemming Jensen-15/1 For more information, visit www.internationaltrot.com. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

The post positions for the $1 million Yonkers International Trot will be drawn Tuesday October 9 at noon at the famed 21 Club in New York City. The Standardbred Owners Association of New York will be streaming the draw live on their facebook page www.facebook.com/soaofny. Tuesday's activities are scheduled to begin at 12 noon. Fans can expect the live draw on Facebook to start as soon as all of the drivers, trainers and owners have assembled. This year marks the 40th edition of the International Trot and Yonkers will be hosting the historic trotting championship on Saturday, October 13. Ten trotters will be racing and representing seven different countries: Arazi Boko - Italy Ariana G - USA Cruzado Dela Noche - Sweden Lionel - Norway Marion Marauder - Canada Pastore Bob - Sweden Ringostarr Treb - Italy Slide So Easy - Denmark Up And Quick - France Will Take Charge - Canada The Yonkers International Trot will have a 3:40pm post as race eight on a 12 race card. First post is at 1pm. From the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Winning the Elitlopp this year with Ringostarr Treb was surreal for Jerry Riordan, but the trainer quickly realized the experience wasn’t for the claustrophobic. Just after the race, Riordan and driver Wim Paal led Ringostarr Treb up the track along the outside rail. The track apron at Solvalla is elevated from the racing surface and the thousands of fans along the fence leaned over and reached out. Their extended arms hung over the trainer, driver, and horse, enclosing them in a tunnel of humanity. The newly crowned Elitlopp winner took it all in stride. “If you have a horse that can deal with it, it’s always nice to bring them over to the public,” Riordan said. “The horse, he’s such a cool horse, an easy-going kind of a guy. At one point, there was an old lady in a wheelchair that reached up and grabbed his shadow roll and was pulling him over so she could pet him and he didn’t care. We had taken the sulky off, we were just letting him walk along. “I was with the horse and we have this entourage behind us and we were only going to do it for a little bit, but as we were going up the fence, there were people waiting for him,” Riordan continued. “That’s my biggest memory of the post-race celebrating on the track. The people here are so enthusiastic, and they’ve been watching races all their lives. It was just a real pleasure to be able to have that fun and have so many people patting me and Paal on the back and rubbing the horse between his ears. He was loving it, he was fantastic.” Riordan’s journey with Ringostarr Treb began after owners E.V.A.M. Racing transferred the trotter to his care from former conditioner Holger Ehlert. Although he was a claimer at 2 and 3, Ringostarr Treb won the Group 2 Sweden Cup for Ehlert before coming to Riordan. When the son of Classic Photo showed up in the barn, Riordan realized he knew little about the horse he’d been competing against for years before. “When I saw him, I had the wrong impression of the horse completely from racing against him. I just thought he was a horse that leaves fast and finishes really strong, and when he came to the barn, I went around the corner and saw him in his stall and he was this beautiful horse,” Riordan recalled. “He’s not very big, but he’s gorgeous, beautiful head, really intelligent looking. “For all the horse owners out there, they should always have hope. This horse was racing in a 10-claimer when he was 3 years old. Nobody claimed him,” Riordan said. “It just goes to show, once in a while, it happens.” Riordan stripped most of Ringostarr Treb’s equipment off and changed the horse’s racing style. Instead of gunning the lead in every start, Riordan raced Ringostarr Treb from behind. The changes worked. Ringostarr Treb won a Gulddivisionen trot in his debut for Riordan, finished second in the 2017 edition of the Group 1 Hugo Åbergs Memorial, and won the Group 1 Sundsvall Open Trot.  Despite Riordan’s early success with Ringostarr Treb, the stallion didn’t reach his full potential until after a bout in France competing at the prestigious winter meet at Hippodrome de Vincennes. Although he was only third in the Group 2 Grand Prix du Bourbonnais and was off the board in his next three starts, including a seventh in the Group 1 Grand Prix d’Amérique, Ringostarr Treb blossomed physically racing in the long distances of the French classics. “The biggest thing, when I saw the horse really improve was after that winter meet in Paris. The horse just came out of it like a bull,” Riordan said. “He had terrible luck, he was interfered with in the Prix d’Amérique. But the real positive was, after the winter meet down there, he just got so much stronger. Going those type of speeds over the long distance just really seemed to bring him to another level because this spring he was just really, really good.” Ringostarr Treb returned to Sweden a winner, taking the Group 1 Olympitravet in track record time April 28. He followed it up with his two-heat Elitlopp score, improving his record to 30 wins in 86 starts with 12.9 million Swedish krona earned.  Although Ringostarr Treb’s Elitlopp victory on the last Sunday in May was impressive – he beat Propulsion by a length in 1:51 – the star wouldn’t return to the races until the fall. He scratched out of the Oslo Grand Prix June 16 after getting an infection in a joint, which was initially only made worse with treatment. “He had an infection. The doctor injected an ankle and there was a reaction to it,” Riordan said. “It shouldn’t have been that big of a deal, but the clinic overreacted. It created a worse problem than the actual infection. That was what knocked him out for the whole summer, the reaction to the reaction.” Although Riordan won last year’s Yonkers International Trot with Twister Bi, with that trotter moved to a new stable by his owners and with Ringostarr Treb on the sidelines, the conditioner didn’t think he’d make it back to New York for this year’s renewal of the $1 million stakes. “Honestly, I never thought I’d be back with him,” Riordan said. “We never had any particular objective, but we knew it was possible to make Yonkers. We were ready.” With an International Trot invitation accepted, but without a race since May 27, Riordan entered Ringostarr Treb in a 1,640-meter overnight for winners of at least 475,001 Swedish krona at Solvalla September 26. Ringostarr Treb raced at the back of the pack early with Torbjörn Jansson at the helm. When he pulled three wide around the final turn and began to advance, Ringostarr Treb made a break in stride, finishing sixth. “When I raced him the other night, a lot of things combined to create the situation. The regular driver was suspended, it rained like hell and they put sand on the track. He’s a horse that will make a break every now and then if you don’t know him,” Riordan said. “When he tipped him out, he was really hanging onto him and he didn’t want him to go too fast, he was on the bit pretty good and he was going to win. He was three-wide and he touched himself and lost it.” Despite the break, Riordan was pleased with the effort. He saw an explosive move on the turn before Ringostarr Treb galloped and knew the horse still had his desire to win. However, once Riordan realized Ringostarr Treb would need a clean line to compete at Yonkers, he plotted his next move. He entered his star in a qualifier at Hamburg Trabrennbahn Wednesday (October 3). With Wim Paal back at the controls, Ringostarr Treb breezed around the track, putting down a clean line and getting another tightener over the 2,200-meter distance. “Probably it’s exactly what he needs, another start in the sulky. It’s like we went 6 furlongs with him last Saturday and now we’re going to give him a little longer workout. I think he’ll be coming to New York just right,” Riordan said. “We’ll put a good, clean line on him and it will pick him up a little more too, so everybody will be in a good mood when we put him on the plane to send him over.” Ringostarr Treb will face nine rivals in the Yonkers International Trot: Arazi Boko (Italy), Ariana G (United States), Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden), Lionel (Norway), Marion Marauder (Canada), Pastore Bob (Sweden), Slide So Easy (Denmark), Up And Quick (France), and Will Take Charge (Canada). Riordan thinks the mare is the one to beat. “If Ariana G can get around the turns and can handle that extra quarter mile, it could be interesting with her in there,” he said. “It’s a nice field, it’s a balanced field. I’d like to think that ‘Ringo,’ if he’s in as good a shape as I hope he’ll be, can beat these. I think that Ariana G, with her speed and her form, she could be very dangerous.” The $1 million Yonkers International Trot is slated for Saturday, October 13 at Yonkers Raceway. The card will also feature a pair of $250,000 invitationals, the Harry Harvey Trot and Dan Rooney Pace. For more information on the event and its participants, visit www.internationaltrot.com. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – The sun inched toward the horizon in the western Paris skies around 4:30 p.m. January 25, 2015, casting a soft golden glow over harness racing's Hippodrome de Vincennes. The crystal horse trophy Philippe Delon cradled in his arms captured the rays and it too gleamed in a golden hue as Delon raised it over his head. From atop the podium in the winner’s enclosure, Delon smiled as he looked into the stands at the thousands of fans who cheered, waved flags, and smiled back at him before lowering the prize back into his arms, staring down at it in disbelief.  Moments earlier, Delon watched as his homebred star Up And Quick streaked into the stretch with the lead in the Grand Prix d’Amérique. After grinding leader Mosaique Face into submission, Up And Quick kicked away from late threat Voltigeur de Myrt. Ahead by 3 lengths nearing the finish, driver Jean-Michel Bazire took both lines in his left hand, blew a kiss with his right, and turned to the crowd to give a thumbs up as he and Up And Quick passed the finish. In that moment, Up And Quick rose to the top of the trotting world. The Prix d’Amérique was the third Group 1 win of the Buvetier d'Aunou son’s career after taking the Critérium des Five Ans in 2013 and the Grand Prix de Paris in 2014. The victory improved on Up And Quick’s second-place effort to Maharajah the year before. Nearly four years later, the curtain is about to close on the final act of Up And Quick’s racing career and Delon hopes his trotter can deliver one more thrill on the world’s stage. Up And Quick will reach the mandatory retirement age in France when he turns 11 in 2019 and will no longer be able to target France’s biggest trotting spectacle. Instead, Delon set his sights on New York, sending his star across the Atlantic to compete in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot. The representative of France would be the first Prix d’Amérique winner since Lutin d'Isigny in 1985 to win the International Trot. “He’s given us everything a breeder and an owner can dream of,” Delon said. “We would love to see him finishing his last season with a bang in New York.” Up And Quick’s journey to the Yonkers International Trot has been rife with struggles. Although he scored a fourth Group 1 in the 2015 Grand Prix de Paris, Up And Quick’s attempt to defend his Prix d’Amérique title in 2016 proved disastrous. After finishing fourth in the Prix de Bourgogne and 10th in the Prix de Belgique, Up And Quick was up the track when 14th in the Prix d’Amérique after attending the pace. He pulled up with a fractured ilium, one of three bones that comprise a horse’s hip. "As after every major race, a battery of tests were conducted and now the verdict is in: a fracture of the ilium was detected,” Delon’s Écurie Quick Star posted on it’s website after the race. “It is very surprising that Up And Quick could deliver such a beautiful race. He must be a brave and sacred competitor to trot as he did when he was injured.” Although he did not require surgery, Up And Quick needed months of stall rest and would not compete again until returning a winner in the Grand Prix de Noël at Hippodrome de Wallonie December 29, 2016. He didn’t make it back to the French classics, but Up And Quick proved himself competitive on the track, winning a pair of Group 2 races in 2017, the Critérium de Vitesse de Basse-Normandie at Argentan April 29, 2017 and the Prix de la Communauté de Communes Thiérache du Centre at La Capelle July 9. Soon though, Up And Quick would suffer another setback. “He suffered from a small fracture in July last year and had to stay two months in his (stall). Before that, he’d broken a hip bone and had to stay four months locked in,” Delon said. “It takes a real champion to come back the way he did after that. Jean-Michel Bazire said that’s the true mark of a wonder horse, coming back to do what he does best.” After covering 82 mares in the winter, Up And Quick returned to the track again in March and successfully defended his title in the Critérium de Vitesse de Basse-Normandie, posting a nose win over Un Mec d’Héripré and Ave Avis in a scrambling finish. Although he rides a nine-race losing streak into the Yonkers International Trot, the €2.1-million earner finished third in an elimination of the Elitlopp, second in the Group 1 Hugo Åbergs Memorial, and third in the Group 2 Grand Prix du Département des Alpes-Maritimes.  Up And Quick was fifth last time out in the Group 1 UET Trotting Masters Series Final September 16 after getting pinned inside three back along the pylons in the 12-horse field. Facing a wall of horses in the stretch, Up And Quick finished 3 ¾ lengths behind Propulsion. Delon chalked it up to a tactical mistake; driver Wim Paal chose to follow Pastore Bob and expected a pocket trip behind the speedy rival, but ended up buried at the inside instead. “We chose the wrong leader. Wim Paal and I thought Pastore Bob was the one to follow, but he got us nowhere,” Delon said. “Propulsion was the one to beat and we never had a live chance. Just throw that race away. The horse is absolutely fine. He loves to work and to race. That’s what kept him going all these years despite a few health issues that belong to the past now.” Since the Trotting Masters Final, Up And Quick has prepared for the Yonkers International Trot at Haras De Sassy, about 130 miles west of Paris. His days are easy at the stud farm with trainer Antoine Lhérété. Delon fears the quiet lifestyle can’t be replicated at Yonkers. “He’s out all day in his paddock. He loves it. He works in the pool, too. He only gets in his (stall) at night,” Delon said. “That was a bit of a problem for us because he won’t be able to relax like that while staying at Yonkers. That’s my main concern today. At least he’ll be able to get out twice a day, but that’s not exactly the same. I hope they will lodge him in a good (stall) because like Dreammoko, he’s a stud, full of energy.” Up And Quick will face nine rivals in the International: Arazi Boko (Italy), Ariana G (United States), Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden), Dreammoko (Netherlands), Lionel (Norway), Marion Marauder (Canada), Pastore Bob (Sweden), Ringostarr Treb (Italy), Slide So Easy (Denmark). The $1 million Yonkers International Trot is slated for Saturday, October 13 at Yonkers Raceway. The card will also feature a pair of $250,000 invitationals, the Harry Harvey Trot and Dan Rooney Pace. For more information on the event and its participants, visit www.internationaltrot.com. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY with Manu Roussel

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