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Harness Racing was halted about two weeks ago at The Meadows, shut down because of social-distancing measures and the threat of coronavirus. But horses need to exercise, and it takes humans to train them and care for them. That continues at The Meadows and all over the country. The lack of competitive racing also threatens stakes racing and the big-money purses that go with it. The Meadows is no exception. While stakes racing isn’t scheduled until the Pennsylvania Sire Stake series starts May 2 at the North Strabane Township track, other events such as the Currier & Ives for 3-year-old pacing fillies (May 22) and for pacing colts (June 20) also are in question. The Adios eliminations are scheduled for July 25 with the final set for Aug. 1. Until further notice, racing has been limited to one harness track in the country, Cal-Expo in Sacramento, Calif. The California Horse Racing Board approved the track to begin racing last Friday. Racing will be held there Tuesdays and Wednesdays through April 22. The Meadows’ return to racing might be determined by the reopening of the casino and return to work by state employees because race judges are employees of the state. Races cannot be contested without judges. For now, keeping horses active and their handlers healthy is a main objective. “Most days, (horses) are coming out and exercising,” said Ron Burke, the top trainer in the world. “We’ve turned some out, so they are put in paddocks. But there’s not enough paddocks for all the horses. “The horses have to come out and either jog lightly or some days they go closer to race speed. So, when races pick up, they are fit and ready to go. Basically, with a barn bigger like ours, we’re able to simulate races.” Jim King, Jr., one of the top trainers in the country, has his horses at his farm in Delaware. He has a number of stakes-eligible horses. He’s attempting to strike a balance. “It kind of changes every day,” said King. “We don’t know what is going on ourselves. There is no change in what we do with the horses. Jim King, Jr. “I had a half-dozen ready to qualify. In fact, I dropped them into qualifiers, but they didn’t draw in. They were that close. A couple more were a few weeks away. I had to finish getting them ready and once they are ready, I’ll back off. My other horses will keep going with an abbreviated schedule. They’re jogging, not as far as usual and only training once a week.” Dirk Simpson, who owns a significant stable of horses at The Meadows, said horsemen have been through racing lulls in the past, pointing to planned weeks off and a layoff in 2018 because of a deadly virus. Racing at The Meadows was shut down for more than one month early in 2018 because the virus was contracted by a handful of horses in late January. “The first week, it’s just kind of normal business,” Simpson said. “We’ve been down before. You think it’s OK and things are going to be the normal. We’ve survived it before. “Now, we’re into two weeks and there is no sign of racing. I’m thinking, my own personal point of view is that at some point the state will open it back up. We can operate with a small group of people. The governor will eventually allow (state employees) to go back to work. Dirk Simpson “I’m trying to be optimistic. Two years ago, we were shut down a month and my barn was hit hard. We just weathered through it. You get 60 days; it’s a totally different thing to tackle. If this goes longer than three weeks, it would be a hardship – first the smaller stables and then the larger stables. It’s scary right now. I’m staying as positive as I can.” Neither Burke, King nor Simpson have laid off any workers. None has reported anyone who has become ill with the virus. The entire harness racing industry is looking forward to getting back on the track. “We need the end date,” Burke said. “I don’t think we’re anywhere near finding the end date. “We’re trying to keep people from congregating and they’re good at it. It’s not like we have cubicles we’re sitting in to watch our horses. Once on the track, those horses keep you separate.” Burke is stressing to employees to maintain social distancing, washing their hands and staying healthy. “We need to stay healthy because the horses need us to take care of them,” he said. King has 3-year-old filly pacer, Lyons Sentinel, who’s coming out party came at The Meadows, to be concerned with. Lyons Sentinel won nearly $900,000 as a 2-year-old. “She was a little behind most of them (his other horses) anyway,” King said. “She’s training but nowhere near. … She’s six weeks from qualifying anywhere. I have to keep the horses moving, not race read but moving enough so I can have them race-ready in 10 days.” Burke thinks the harness racing industry could return faster to close to normal operations than other industries. “It could be done under any system they want, 40 to 50 people,” Burke said. “Horses have to exercise anyhow. There are ways. It would take some adjustments. The way we prepare, you’d have to cut the number (of people) and change the way you go to the paddock. You could put the horses together and we could separate people. “We should be able to get back about the quickest of any industry. We don’t need interaction. People can bet from their phone and on computers. I have a little hope for whatever social-distancing requirements there are, we can manage it.” Reprinted with permission of The Observer-Reporter

WASHINGTON, PA, March 16, 2020 -- Perlucky shot the harness racing "Lightning Lane" to capture Monday's $18,000 Open Handicap Trot at The Meadows, a triumph that sent him over $400,000 in career earnings. Perlucky and Dave Palone patiently stalked Icanflylikeanangel from the pocket, then shot by him in mid-stretch. As it turned out, the greater threat was the first-over Wind Of The North, but the 10-year-old millionaire fell 1/2-length short. Icanflylikeanangel saved show in the 1:53.4 mile. Ron Burke trains Perlucky, a 5-year-old Lucky Chucky-Paper Girl gelding, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Phillip Collura. Perlucky Jim Pantaleano, Palone and Burke each fashioned a triple on the 13-race card. The Meadows announced that it is temporarily suspending all operations at the facility, including racing, effective 6:00 AM Tuesday, March 17. The suspension was mandated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as part of community-wide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Updates will be announced as appropriate. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

March 16, 2020 - Washington, PA. As you know our country as well as the world finds itself in an unprecedented set of circumstances attempting to control the spread of Coronavirus. Many governmental entities are implementing restrictions on group gatherings in an effort to thwart the spread of the virus in our communities. To that end the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has issued a mandate, we have no choice but to temporarily suspend all operations at The Meadows including racing. This will go into effect at 6:00 AM March 17. This is a very fluid situation. Updates will be announced when appropriate. The Meadows      

WASHINGTON, PA, March 13, 2020 -- Zanetti pounced on the game but weary leader, Rock N Teen, in mid-stretch and scored in Friday's Wilbur Zendt Memorial Pace at The Meadows. Smooth Lou took the other $12,500 second-leg split in the series for 3- and 4-year-old colts, stallions and geldings. Harness racing drivers Dave Palone and Aaron Merriman each collected five wins on the 13-race card while trainer Andy Rickert enjoyed a triple. The Wilbur Zendt is one of four late-closing series The Meadows currently is featuring, with the championship leg of each set for Friday, March 20. Rock N Teen threw down a wicked 1:22.4 three-quarters, leaving him vulnerable to the first-over challenge of Zanetti and Aaron Merriman. The 4-year-old A Rocknroll Dance-Ty's Artist gelding rolled past Rock N Teen and downed him by 2-1/4 lengths in a career-best 1:52.1. Jonah earned show.   Rick Magee trains Zanetti for Mikaela Delgiudice. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the program features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the Pick 4 (races 3-6) and a $3,417.82 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, March 12, 2020 -- "Wearing o' the green" is a popular St. Patrick's Day tradition, and if you wear green at The Meadows on Tuesday, March 17, you'll be a winner before you ever place a wager. That's because the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) will present a free race program to all patrons wearing green on St. Patrick's Day. The holiday card will feature other MSOA-sponsored events, including:  A raffle for a free berth in The Meadows Live Bankroll Handicapping Contest on March 20; A drawing for a $50 betting voucher each time a driver with green in his colors wins a race. Among notable Meadows-based drivers wearing green are Mike Wilder, Wilbur Yoder, Kyle Bolon, Aaron Johnston and Shawn Johnston. First post Tuesday is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, March 11, 2020 -- Vacation Money maintained her poise while her harness racing rivals blew up around her, then shot the Lightning Lane to pull off the 18-1 upset in Wednesday's Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot at The Meadows. Andover Contessa captured the other $12,500 second-leg split in the series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares. The Mary Wohlmuth is one of four late-closing series The Meadows currently is featuring, with the championship leg of each set for Friday, March 20. While four in the field of nine jumped it off, Vacation Money patiently stalked the leader, Tough Tootsie, from the pocket. When Aaron Merriman pointed her inside, the 3-year-old daughter of Break The Bank K-American Holiday surged past to score in a career-best 1:59.3. Aunt Bee rallied for second, beaten 1/2 length, while Tough Tootsie saved show.   Norm Parker trains Vacation Money for owner/breeder Bob Key. It was one of four wins for Merriman on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday when the program features a $1,725.40 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, March 10, 2020 -- Feel The Muscle overcame post 9 by following cover and kicking home strongly to score in Tuesday's Dale McConnell Memorial Trot at The Meadows. Enzio sprang a 9-1 upset in the other $12,500 second-leg split in the harness racing series for 3- and 4-year-old colts, stallions and geldings. The Dale McConnell is one of four late-closing series The Meadows currently is featuring, with the championship leg of each set for Friday, March 20. Feel The Muscle picked up the live backside cover of Danny's Boy. When Mike Wilder tipped him off that cover through the final turn, the 4-year-old Muscle Hill-Macy Lane gelding roared past Danny's Boy and downed him by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:56.4 -- a life mark despite the sloppy conditions. Long shot Norwegian Dad rallied for show.   Charlie Norris trains Feel The Muscle for Share A Horse Inc. In the $20,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace, Lakeisha Hall rallied wide through the stretch to triumph in 1:53.2 for Dave Palone, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Jack Piatt II. The 7-year-old daughter of Third Straight-Lantana Hall now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $772,489. Burke collected four wins and Palone three on the 13-race card. After multiple carryovers, the Super Hi-5 was hit, with the sole winning ticket returning $22,913.72 Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, first post 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, March 10, 2020 -- The harness racing jackpot for Tuesday's Super Hi-5 at The Meadows has jumped to $20,841.09. The Meadows offers the wager on the final race of each live card. In addition, Tuesday's program features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 3-6) and a $1,481.62 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6). First post for the 13-race card is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, March 9, 2020 -- Windsun Juno, a lightly raced 4-year-old, enjoyed her first harness racing career victory in Monday's Donna Dunn Memorial Pace at The Meadows. Speak The Peace captured the other $12,500 division in the second leg of the series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares. The Donna Dunn is one of four late-closing series The Meadows currently is featuring, with the championship leg of each set for Friday, March 20. Unraced at 2 and 3, Windsun Juno has been competitive from her first outing, finishing second in four of her six previous career starts. Using Lasix for the first time Monday, she quarter-poled to the top for Dave Palone and prevailed by a comfortable 4 lengths in 1:55.1. Loudoo Princess and Acrobatta completed the ticket.   Ron Burke trains Windsun Juno, a daughter of Sunfire Blue Chip-Artistic Melody, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Mike Wilder and Palone each collected four wins on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the program features a trio of rich wagering opportunities: a $20,841.09 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5; a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 3-6); a $1,481.62 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6). First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Patta, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, March 6, 2020 -- Rock N Teen let Zanetti do the heavy lifting on the front end, then blew by him in the lane to score in a career-best 1:53, fastest harness racing division in Friday's Wilbur Zendt Memorial Pace at The Meadows. Gumption and Arrhythmic Storm also captured $12,500 opening-leg splits in the event for 3- and 4-year-old colts, stallions and geldings. The series honors the memory of Zendt, a trainer, driver and patriarch of one of The Meadows most prominent and successful clans. It's one of four late-closing events that kicked off this week at The Meadows, with the championship leg of each set for Friday, March 20. Zanetti reeled off a blistering 1:23.3 three-quarters, making him vulnerable to the pocket-sitting Rock N Teen. Indeed, when Mike Wilder cut him loose, the 3-year-old Rock N Roll Hanover-Dance With Me Tina gelding roared passed and defeated Zanetti by 1-3/4 lengths. Chicken Nugget completed the ticket. Norm Parker trains Rock N Teen for owner/breeder Bob Key.   Tony Hall collected four wins on the 13-race card, including three for trainer Scott Betts, while Dave Palone and trainer Ron Burke each enjoyed a triple. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the program features an $18,605.15 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 3-6). First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA - March 6, 2020 -- Reading, Writing & Harness Racing. That may be a twist on the traditional version of the "Three R's," but it was the order of the day Thursday when The Meadows drivers participated in national Read Across America Week/Dr. Seuss Day activities by reading to students at a local school. Drivers Jason Merriman, Dan Rawlings and Mike Wilder visited Trinity North Elementary School near The Meadows and read to children in grades K-4. The horsemen read selections from Dr. Seuss and Bonnie Worth's If I Ran the Horse Show: All About Horses. This marks the fifth consecutive year in which the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) and its members have participated in the event. Wilder has been a volunteer reader every year. "When our qualifiers were finished, I got pretty excited about going to the school," Wilder said. "I couldn't wait to get there and see the kids' faces light up." After reading, the drivers took questions -- some about racing, some about their personal lives. "They asked what's your horse's name, so I explained that we drive many horses," Wilder said. "They asked how many wins do you have, have you ever been hurt, how fast do the horses go. For young kids, they asked pretty good questions. "The whole event is a great deal. I love it and would never turn down the opportunity." By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association                            

WASHINGTON, PA, March 4, 2020 -- Tad Krazy Hanover moved powerfully first over and romped to a convincing harness racing victory in Wednesday's opening leg of the Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot at The Meadows. Tough Tootsie took the other division in the series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares. The series honors the memory of the late Wohlmuth, longtime manager of the 2:00 Club at The Meadows. It's one of four late-closing events kicking off this week at The Meadows, with the championship leg of each set for Friday, March 20. Tad Krazy Hanover was third near the three-quarters when Aaron Merriman sent her after the leader, BL Super Sally. The 4-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover-Tune Kronos It cruised to the top and drew off to score in 1:57.2. DJ's Midnight Jazz was second, 2-1/4 lengths back, with Linnea Hanover third.   Justin Pirillo trains Tad Krazy Hanover for Dylan Fazio. Elsewhere on Wednesday's card, Blue Ivy extended her winning streak to seven -- five to close her sophomore campaign plus two this year -- with a 1:51.4 triumph for Merriman in the $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Trot. When Touchamatic finished second, she provided an exacta sweep for the mares' trainer, Bill Bercury, and owner, Renee Bercury.   Mike Wilder and Merriman each collected three wins on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday when the program features a $16,406.18 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association                                                        

WASHINGTON, PA, March 3, 2020 -- Metro Boomin swooped the field with a brilliant backside burst and went on to score in 1:56.2 in the slop, the fastest division of Tuesday's opening leg of the Dale McConnell Memorial Trot at The Meadows. Danny's Boy and La Dolfina took the other $12,500 splits in the series for 3- and 4-year-old colt, stallion and gelding harness racing trotters. Tony Hall and trainer Scott Betts teamed for a pair of series wins with Metro Boomin and La Dolfina. The series honors the memory of the late McConnell, longtime trainer/driver at The Meadows who was so successful with diagonal-gaiters that he was nicknamed "Mr. Trot." The series is one of four late-closing events kicking off this week at The Meadows, with the championship leg of each set for Friday, March 20. In only his second start since an Ohio Fairs outing on Aug. 26, Metro Boomin was sixth past the half when Hall sent him after the leader, The Muscle Dog. The 4-year-old Wishing Stone-Vapor Rises gelding was on top in a heartbeat and rolled to a 2-1/4-length victory. Feel The Muscle and Spring Roll completed the ticket. Tim Betts and Nicholas Catalano campaign Metro Boomin.   Brady Brown piloted three winners on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a carryover of $14,485.92 in the final-race Super Hi-5. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, March 2, 2020 -- Ideal Bubby scored an impressive front-end harness racing victory in Monday's opening leg of the Donna Dunn Memorial Pace at The Meadows. Rusty Décor and Vibrent Kally captured the other $12,500 splits in the series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares. Ideal Bubby won only two of her first 38 starts but has come to hand for trainer Bill Kreutzer, who owns the 4-year-old mare with Denton Barrett, winning her last two. She captured Monday's division for Aaron Merriman in a series-fastest 1:54.2, by far the swiftest mark of her career and 3/4 lengths better than Windsun Juno. Jackpot Jessie completed the ticket.   The Donna Dunn Memorial, which honors the memory of the longtime Meadows horsewoman, is one of four late-closing series kicking off this week. The championship leg of each is set for Friday, March 20. Tony Hall piloted four winners on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the program features a $12,651.31 carryover in the final-race Super Hi 5 and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 3-6). First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 28, 2020 -- Dancin Dragon roared from the pocket into the final turn, blitzed by the leader and had just enough late pace to capture Friday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $15,000 Conditioned Pace. In only his second start this year, Dancin Dragon took full advantage of his pocket trip, putting away Do Work Son with ease. But he needed to dig deep for driver Tony Hall to thwart the late bid of K Ryan Bluechip and down him by a neck in 1:51.2. Humboldt completed the ticket.   Randy Bendis trains Dancin Dragon, a 5-year-old Dragon Again-McDance Desire gelding who lifted his lifetime bankroll to $239,540, and owns with Pollack Racing LLC. Hall piloted five winners on the 13-race card, including three for Bendis and a pair for trainer Jack Smith, while Dave Palone fashioned a four-bagger, including two wins for trainer Mike Palone. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the program features a $12,651.31 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the Pick 4 (races 3-6). First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 26, 2020 -- Blue Ivy ended her outstanding sophomore harness racing season with five straight wins. But how would the daughter of Captaintreacherous-All Blue perform in her 4-year-old debut following a layoff of nearly 10 weeks? The answer: just fine, thank you, as Blue Ivy shot the Lightning Lane to capture Wednesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Lakeisha Hall did the heavy lifting on the front end, with Blue Ivy stalking from the pocket. Once Aaron Merriman pointed Blue Ivy inside, she blew by Lakeisha Hall and downed her by 2 lengths in 1:53.2 over a "good" surface. Brown Brinny was a ground-saving third.   Bill Bercury trains Blue Ivy, who vaulted over $200,000 in career earnings, for Renee Bercury. Mike Wilder enjoyed a huge Wednesday, piloting six winners on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday when the program features an $11,205.58 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

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