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Plainville, MA --- Northfield Park regular Mister Muscle took the short 635 mile ride down the 90 to Plainridge Park and immediately flexed his way to the winner's circle in the $17,500 Winners-Over trotting harness racing feature on Monday afternoon (Nov.2). Mister Muscle (Bruce Ranger) took the lead and opened up a two length advantage over Ronnie Goldstein (Shawn Gray) at the quarter in :27.4. With a gapped advantage still at the half, Pappy Go Go (Mitchell Cushing) and Eurobond (Drew Monti) started rolling an outer flow in pursuit of the leader. Mister Muscle opened up three at three-quarters as Pappy Go Go faded, Eurobond went around him and Ronnie Goldstein started to dig in. With footsteps getting closer, Ranger started to heavily urge Mister Muscle at the head of the lane as his lead was diminishing with every stride. But despite the pursuer's best efforts, Mister Muscle took their best shot and hung on by a neck for the win in 1:55.3.   It was the sixth victory of the year for Mister Muscle ($10.40) who is owned by Patricia Schneeberger and trained by Melissa Beckwith. The biggest win mutuel of the meet was paid out on Monday after Matty "Ice" Athearn lived up to his name while coolly driving 60-1 Stihl N up the pylons at three-quarters and then three-deep in the stretch to nose out R Maddy Blue Chip (Kevin Switzer) at the wire in 1:55.1 to claim a new lifetime mark. Stihl N returned $133.40 to win much to the delight of her owner James Hemenway. Paul McHugh is the trainer. Shawn Gray led all drivers on Monday with three wins while Alicia Gray led all trainers with two. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (Nov. 5) with post time at 1 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Batavia, NY --- Harness racing driver Dave McNeight III has been on a tear of late at Batavia Downs and he stayed scary-good on Saturday (Oct. 31) as he won five races on the matinee card. He scored with Thor De Vie (1:54, $3.20), Barry Hanover (1:55, $10.40), Daylight Rush (1:55.2, $3.80), This Baby Rocks (1:57.3, $41.20) and In Runaway Bay N (1:56.1, $4.10). McNeight currently sits in fourth place in the driving race but has been gaining a lot of ground lately. In the last six cards of racing McNeight has won 16 races. The top race of the day was the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace and after not seeing the starting gate for 21 days, Mr. Euroman N made his return to action a triumphant one after a late stretch rush to grab the feature win. Mr. Euroman N (Billy Davis Jr.) got away sixth while Percy's Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) barked the orders on the front end wIth horses in single file behind. They hit the quarter in :27,3 and the half in a slow :58.1. Heading up the backside, Mr. Euroman N was still sixth while only McSpidey (Denny Bucceri) pulled to make a bid. Around the last turn McSpidey faded and Percy's Z Tam looked a likely winner. But when they straightened for home, Stratosphere (Drew Monti) found room up the pylons, Tullow N (Shawn McDonough) tipped outside and Mr. Euroman N shook loose from mid-pack and went four-wide and when the four horses hit the wire, Mr. Euroman N was the best by a nose in 1:55.2. It was the fifth win of the year for Mr. Euroman N ($15.00) who is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice trains the winner. BIlly Davis Jr., who currently sits second in the driver standings, also had a big day in the bike after he registered a grand slam on the card. Aside from winning the feature, his four scores were capped with a victory by the venerable 13-year-old pacer Expensive Toy (Camotion-Costly Toy) who went gate to wire in 1:58 to capture the 50th win of his long career. After having made 290 career starts, Expensive Toy has 50 wins, 52 seconds and 46 thirds with earnings of $468,848. Expensive Toy is owned and trained by Sabrina Shaw. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 4) at 5 p.m. There will be another guaranteed Pick-5 pool of $3,000 on Wednesday and it will again be part of the USTA's Strategic Wagering Program with free program pages available on both USTA and Batavia Downs websites starting early next week. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Just a reminder that Batavia Downs will host the first of two matinee cards today, Saturday (Oct. 31), with a 1:15 p.m. post time. This afternoon's card features 13 races including the weekly $8,500 Open I Handicap pace. The second matinee will be next Saturday (Nov. 7) also with a 1:15 p.m. post time due to the Breeders Cup races. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Plainville, MA --- They were dashing through the snow at Plainridge Park on Friday afternoon (Oct. 30) but the elements did little to cool red hot The Fun Marshall who scored her third consecutive harness racing win in the $15,000 featured pace for fillies and mares. The Fun Marshall was floated off the gate by driver Mitchell Cushing and methodically worked her way to the lead past the quarter. Once seated, she comfortably paced to the half in :57.1 and three-quarters in 1:26.4 with Kitty Hoyne (Nick Graffam) in pursuit on the rim. By the time the race reached the stretch, The Fun Marshall had opened up a two-length lead and paced home unchallenged in 1:56.1 over the muddy track.   The Fun Marshall ($2.10) is owned by Jim and David Winske and Stephen Michaels and is trained by Melissa Beckwith. In the undercard $12,000 distaff condition, Best Honey Hanover (Kevin Switzer) led at every station before finishing very strong, holding off a wall of four horses who all finished within a length of each other behind her in 1:54.3, which was the fastest mile of the dismal weather day. It was the 10th win of the year for Best Honey Hanover ($3.60) who is owned by Steven Kouray, Donald De Luca and Peter Daratsos. Jimmy Nickerson trains the winner. Mitchell Cushing was the day's top driver with three wins registered. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (Nov. 2). Please note that post time will be moved to 1 p.m. starting Monday and will remain there for the duration of the meet. The final day of racing at Plainridge is Friday (Nov. 27). By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- After coming up just short in the feature at Plainridge Park last week after a tough parked-out journey, Hudson Phil got a perfect trip and paced away to a seasonal harness racing mark in the $15,000 Winners-Over pace on Thursday afternoon (Oct. 29). Hudson Phil (Jay Randall) tucked in second off the gate behind Rock Diamonds N (Mitchell Cushing) who splashed to the half over a sloppy track in :56. At that point Ideal Star A (Shawn Gray) was rolling up the outside and pushed the leader to a quick :27.3 third panel. Around the last turn Ideal Star A faded, making room for Hudson Phil to pull off the pylons and like a rocket, he opened up a quick two length lead and extended that to 3-3/4 at the light in 1:51.3, which was his best effort of 2020.   Hudson Phil ($5.80) scored his fifth win of the year for owner the Kellogg Racing Stable and trainer Jackie Greene. In the co-featured $15,000 condition for 5-year-olds and under, Unlikeanyother (Bruce Ranger) made quick work of the field on the point while setting fractions of :27, :57 and 1:24.3. From there he maintained his one length lead over the pocket-sitting Sea Isle City (Shawn Gray) all the way to the wire to win in 1:52.3. It was the fourth win of the year for Unlikeanyother ($3.40) who is owned by Jim Winske. Melissa Beckwith is the trainer. Nick Graffam, Drew Monti and Ron Cushing all had two driving wins on Thursday. Trainers Melissa Beckwith and Jackie Greene also scored two wins on the card. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (Oct. 30) with post time at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Batavia, NY --- On a damp Wednesday evening (Oct. 28) at Batavia Downs, a pair of $8,500 Opens produced runaway harness racing winners while the meet's third winningest driver inched closer towards the leaders. The night opened up with the fillies and mares Open I Handicap where Tellawoman (Jim Morrill Jr.) left with the gate and led at every point of the mile. After escorting the short field of five to the half in :58, Morrill stepped on the gas and Tellawoman sped away in a :28.1 third panel, stretching out to a 3-1/2 length lead at the point. As they rounded the last turn Tellawoman kept on going and kicked-away to a 5-3/4 length advantage at the wire in 1:56.1. It was the third win in the last four starts for Tellawoman ($8.00) who is owned by Rose Campbell and trained by Russell Bratt. Later in the program, Morrill also won the co-featured Open I Handicap trot with Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) who was utterly peerless this night. Il Mago left and established a six length lead at the quarter in :27.2. He extended that to 12 lengths at the half in :56 and 15-lengths by three-quarters in 1:25.2. Morrill had Il Mago wrapped up at that point and he just sauntered across the wire by 6-3/4 lengths in 1:57.4. It was the sixth win of the year for Il Mago ($4.20) and owner Mike Torcello. Gerry Sarama trains the venerable 11-year-old who has now won 52 races lifetime. Driver Drew Monti won five races on the card including a natural hat trick in races five through seven. Monti scored with Lucky Guess (2:01.2, $5.00), Keystone Keen (1:57.2, $4.70), Barn Beast (1:59, $11.00), Mean Pauline (1:58.1, $5.40) and Carly Girl (1:57, $5.00). Monti currently has 57 wins and sits in third place behind the leading Jim Morrill Jr. who has 70 wins and Billy Davis Jr. who is second with 61 wins after tonight. Kevin Cummings led all trainers on Wednesday winning three races during the proceedings. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 31) with a special Halloween matinee post time of 1:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Plainville, MA --- Harness racing driver Scott Zeron was all business at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Oct. 26) as he won four of the eight Massachusetts Sire Stake finals, including three straight to start the day. Trainer George Ducharme and owner/breeder Ray Campbell Jr. also combined for three stake wins and five in-the-money placings during the afternoon. There were eight $90,000 divisions combined for a total value of $720,000. Zeron struck first with the 2-year-old trotting gelding Incommunicado (Chapter Seven-Gran Cavalla) who took an early lead and marched on the point by 1-1/2 lengths all the way to the three-quarters. At that station Incommunicado kicked-away from the group and opened up six lengths around the last turn and stretched that advantage to 17-1/4 at the wire where he stopped the timer in 1:56.2, which was a new lifetime mark for the winner.   It was the third straight MASS win for Incommunicado ($2.60) who is owned by Knutsson Trotting, Little E, Arthur Geiger and David Stolz. Ake Svanstedt is the trainer. The Moni Maker Stable bred Incommunicado who was an $80,000 yearling purchase at the Lexington Selected Sale in 2019. Next in the 3-year-old male pacing division, Zeron sat behind the heavily favored Wyatt J (American Ideal-Think Pink) and similarly called the shots on the front. When the race got to the half, Spatterdash (Mike Stevenson) moved alongside and presented a real threat as the pair matched strides to the three-quarters and halfway around the last turn. There, Wyatt J pulled away by a length but still had to quell a late charge from R Maddy Blue Chip (Kevin Switzer) and Han Solo (Shawn Gray) to win by 1/2 length in 1:52.1. Now undefeated in four starts in Massachusetts, Wyatt J ($2.20) has also won eight straight starts this year for owner Ken Jacobs. Linda Toscano is the winning trainer. Wyatt J was bred by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and was a $245,000 yearling purchase at the 2018 Lexington Selected Sale. Zeron's natural Hat Trick was completed in the 2-year-old male pacing division with Mullinax (American Ideal-Up Front Kellie Jo) who took an early lead to the quarter in :26.4 before Maui (Shawn Gray) tipped and took control. At the five-eighth's pole Call Me Maverick (Mike Stevenson) and Bumpah Stickah (Jim Hardy) drew even with Maui and Mullinax and the foursome paced away from the field. At the top of the stretch Bumpah Stickah tipped three deep and Mullinax went four wide and got the best of the insiders by only a neck at the light in 1:53.4. The time was a new stake record and tied the existing track record that Mullinax set himself earlier this month. It was the sixth win of the year and second straight for Mullinax ($5.00) who is owned by William Varney and trained by Mark Ford. Mullinax was bred by his namesake, Ed Mullinax. Zeron completed the Grand Slam in the 3-year-old trotting filly division behind Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) who took the lead off the gate and was never headed after that. The filly trotted through quarters of :28, :58 and 1:26.2 when Zeron let Without A Warning out a notch and she swelled up down the stretch with a 6-1/4 length lead at the beam, timed in 1:55. Without A Warning ($2.10) swept the MASS for the second straight year and is now a two-time champion for owner/breeder Ray Campbell Jr. George Ducharme trains the winner. Without A Warning has also never lost a race in the state of Massachusetts and is a perfect nine-for-nine lifetime. The 2-year-old filly pace went to Purameri (American Ideal-J K Pure Pearl) who got away sixth behind the front-running So Amazing (Bruce Ranger). At the half Suzie Blue chip (Shawn Gray) was out and rolling and driver Nick Graffam followed that cover with Purameri all the way to the top of the stretch where they swung wide and paced up a storm passing So Amazing. Once in front, Purameri opened up a 2-1/2 length lead and won in 1:54.1 in a 7-1 upset. Purameri ($17.00) scored her second and biggest win in Massachusetts for owner the Purple Haze Stable and trainer Jessica Okusko. Next was the 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings and Double Dealing (RC Royalty-Heather Spur) dug deep to get the win. After getting away third behind Life Is A Feast (Scott Zeron), Shawn Gray pulled Double Dealing at the half and motored up the rim towards the leader and engaged him on the backstretch. The two trotters tangled to the three-quarters, around the last turn and into the stretch where Double Dealing opened up a two length lead and cruised to the wire under a line drive in 1:57.1. It was the third MASS win and seventh overall of the year for Double Dealing ($4.60) and owner/breeder Ray Campbell Jr. George Ducharme trains the winner. Royal Envy (RC Royalty-Temper Of Will) won her fourth straight MASS race after capturing the 2-year-old trotting filly division. Me Too Baby (Matty Athearn) opened up a quick three-length lead on the field while Royal Envy sat fifth. But that was short lived as Shawn Gray came early behind Moni For Lindy (Scott Zeron) who was on the move in front of the stands. Moni For Lindy cleared at the half before Royal Envy crossed over for the lead past the five-eighths. With no serious challenge from behind, Gray line-drove Royal Envy from that point all the way to the wire where she won in 1:57.4, which was a new lifetime mark. Royal Envy ($4.00) now has four wins out of six lifetime starts for owners/breeders Al Ross and Ray Campbell Jr. The filly is also trained by George Ducharme. Finally in the 3-year-old pacing filly group, Ry's Red Rocket (Sunshine Beach-Mo Molly Blue Chip) took no prisoners as Matty Athearn sent her to the front and she never looked back. Ry's Red Rocket tripped the timer in :26.4, :56.1 and 1:24.4 with Rojas Blue Chip (Drew Monti) right on her back, but her back was all the competition would see as Ry's Red Rocket turned for home and paced smartly to the wire on top by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54. Ry's Red Rocket ($3.60) got her second stake win and sixth of the year for owner/breeder Linwood Higgins. Gretchen Athearn trains the winner. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- Aside from being the most prolific Standardbred breeders in the state, Ray Campbell Jr. is also the president of the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts. He has been involved in the sport for most of his life and has seen first hand the ups and downs of breeding and racing in Massachusetts, as well as the growth it has experienced in recent years. Campbell's first interaction with harness racing was at a yearling sale at Young Meadow Farm (now the UMass Equine Research Farm in Hadley). They held fair racing there years ago over a five-eighth's mile track, but there were also stallions standing at the farm. "My interest in the beginning was fair racing. Back in the 80's and 90's there were multiple venues from the western part of the state to the central part and it was typical fair racing only without the fair. You would race out of your trailer for a couple thousand dollars and a cooler and it was really all about the competition," said Campbell. Campbell transitioned and started breeding in the early 1990's, standing his first stallion at Sawmill River Farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. He then started buying broodmares and it became a family enterprise. "My father and I were all hands on deck with the whole operation. Our focus was to race horses in Massachusetts but also have some that could compete in New York," Campbell explained. "Then about 20 years ago the fairs started fading away, Foxboro closed and the sport had pretty much come to a halt here. It changed everything." However everything changed again, only this time for the better after the Race Horse Development Fund was instituted in 2015. Since that time breeding and the performance of the horses that were bred has improved exponentially each year and people who would have never thought of racing young horses in the commonwealth, now want in. "First and foremost there is a much greater degree of interest. Next there are inquiries about "how do I get involved?" Now we have more people participating each year and that is driving the number of eligible resident mares up each year," said Campbell. "As the horse population grew, farms were in great demand and stalls were hard to find. Eventually that improved as some farms started to pop up and reclaimed some of the land and now there's more availability for boarding." Campbell explained that the issues people had trying to race in years past are gone and have now been replaced with opportunity. "It was difficult before when you had 2 and 3-year-olds here, you just couldn't get them raced. You would find yourself in races with added conditions facing older horses. But they have really done a great job with enhanced purses and restricted races and that has been very good for the program," explained Campbell. "It's a terrific thing to have young horses racing here now, although the racing is tough; there is nowhere to hide. I've been doing this a long time and the days of two and three horse fields are a thing of the past." In recent years the track and stake records have continued to be broken and that is a true indicator of how far the program has really come. And that shouldn't really be a surprise because of the number of quality mares that have been bred. There are currently 146 eligible to race as 2-year-olds in 2021 and that number seems to climb year after year. "To keep the program moving forward and growing, it's vital to have Plainridge Park remain a thriving and viable venue. This keeps people engaged in the sport and the revenue that it, along with the other casinos generate, help fund the RHDF which in turn makes the stakes a worthwhile investment that people want to get involved in," concluded Campbell. The finest Massachusetts-bred Standardbreds will be on display Monday (Oct. 26) when the $720,000 Massachusetts Sire Stake finals will be held at Plainridge Park. Post time is at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- Since shipping into Massachusetts, Eurobond has been performing at a high level and did again on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 25) when he won the $15,000 Winners-Over harness racing trot at Plainridge Park. Eurobond (Drew Monti) settled in fourth while Midnite Craze (Kevin Switzer Jr.) led the field to the half in :58 flat. Monti had Eurobond out and rolling at that point and they took control by two lengths at the three-quarters in a swift :27.4 third panel. From there Eurobond kicked-away around the turn and down the stretch and opened up by 4-1/2 lengths at the wire where he won in 1:54.2.   It was the second win in the last three starts at Plainridge Park for Eurobond ($2.60) who is owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and Robert Rudolph and trained by Domenico Cecere. In the co-featured $15,000 conditioned trot for 5-year-olds and under, Manruptcy (Mitchell Cushing) tripped out to the half behind Just Dreamin (Mike Stevenson), tipped at the five-eighths and grabbed the lead before the three-quarters. Manruptcy continued to trot with authority in the turn and down the lane, holding off a pesky Split Rail (Shawn Gray) at the wire to win in 1:55.4, which was a new lifetime mark. Manruptcy ($11.80) is owned by Justin Hale and is trained by Kyle Spagnola. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (Oct. 26) at 2 p.m. when eight divisions of the Massachusetts Sire Stakes will go postward for a total of $720,000.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- Harness racing trainer George Ducharme has been one of the top trainers competing in the Massachusetts Sire Stakes for years and his success in the series is no surprise as many of the horses the Walpole, Massachusetts native starts are tight and experienced coming in off their New York Sire Stake races. This year he brings a "Ducharmy" of nine starters to Plainridge Park on Monday (Oct. 26) including a pair of defending 2-year-old champions looking to repeat and take their share of the $720,000 up for grabs in purse money. Here is a look at his starters followed by some comments by Ducharme. In the 3-year-old trotting filly division, Ducharme has a three headed monster led by Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) who is one of those returning champions. Without A Warning race against Love A Good Story and Hypnotic Am all summer in the NYSS and finished third in the $225,000 final. She has now won three in a row in MASS competition, taking a new lifetime mark and setting a MASS stake record of 1:54.2 in the process. He is also starting Dramatra (Trixton-Bourbon 'n Grits) who is a sister to 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life and Greyscale (Credit Winner-Global Beauty) who has had some light stake work in New York. "Without A Warning is just a nice horse. She raced those three good fillies in New York all year and held her own. She was just maybe a step below them, but it has definitely bravened her up for the competition level she's had to race so far." "Dramatra was just growthy and sore last year so we quit with her. This year she's come back to be a useful racehorse that has held her own in stakes so far. Greyscale is a good honest little horse, not quite as fast as the other two, but one that has done what we've asked of her to this point for sure." Ducharme has two 3-year-old trotting colts starting including another returning champion, Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) who was racing in the Ontario Sire Stakes and Double Dealing who was a NYSS Excel A finalist. "I just got Life Is A Feast back a couple weeks ago. I trained him down last winter and then sent him up to Canada for his Canadian stakes. He hadn't raced in almost three weeks before his first MASS start the other day and I think he needed the race. So hopefully he should be a little better this week." "Double Dealing has just turned into a real honest little horse. He trots 55-ish every week and he can do it on the lead or from behind and I'm pretty happy with him." Another two starters appear in the 2-year-old trotting colts division with In The Cards (RC Royalty-Super Starlet) who had a win and a third in NYSS action and Beantown Madness (Conway Hall-Armbro Archer) who Ducharme has been very pleased with his progression coming in. "Beantown Madness has turned out to be a really nice little horse. We were very slow with him, we raced him in the NYSS Excel B races and let him learn because he wasn't the biggest horse at the time. But he's grown and filled out and really come into his own and he's learning how to make speed. I couldn't be happier with him." Ducharme's last trotting entry is 2-year-old trotting filly Royal Envy (RC Royalty-Temper Of Will) who seems to be peaking at the right time and is three-for-three in MASS action. "Royal Envy was growthy and sore most of the summer and that hindered her progress. I qualified and tried to race her and she just wasn't good so we backed off on her, blistered her up a couple of times, brought her back and she's been really good. She definitely has plenty of speed and she's finishing her miles real good right now. I think she'll become a useful horse, hopefully Monday, and then into next year." Ducharme is also starting one pacer, a 2-year-old filly named So Amazing (So Surreal-Teddy Ballgirl) that has actually raced up to her name. "So Amazing is just a nice filly. Last week I was really impressed with her, having horses at her the whole mile without a breather and finish the way she did. And to pace in 1:53 as a 2-year-old against a good group of fillies. That's a real good division because there are three or four in there that have taken turns every week depending on how the trips go." Ducharme also commented on how far the stake has come since the Race Horse Development Fund was put in place in 2015. "Every year this stake gets more competition as the quality of the mares gets better. And the numbers are getting better because people have faith in the program at Plainridge and Massachusetts right now. I think all of the class groups are in the 20's next year so a lot of them could go split divisions next year," said Ducharme. "We bought a couple more Mass-bred yearlings in Lexington this year besides our home-breds so we're going to keep supporting the program for sure." By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- Ken Jacobs has never had a horse compete in the Massachusetts Sire Stakes. But when the man who has competed harness racing standouts Heston Blue Chip (American Ideal-Shot Togo Bluechip $1.78 million), Kenneth J (Bettors Delight-Advantest $1.56 million), He's Gorgeous (Art Major- So Ravishing $743,844) and Walner (Chapter Seven-Random Destiny $567,652) finally does comes to town, it's no surprise he has the favorite in the glamour division of the $720,000 Massachusetts Sire Stake finals at Plainridge Park on Monday (Oct. 26). Wyatt J (American Ideal-Think Pink) is the heavy morning line favorite in the 3-year-old male pacing division. He was a $245,000 yearling purchase at Lexington in 2018, the highest price paid for any American Ideal yearling that year. And although his stature in the ring is what ultimately made Jacobs decide to buy him, it was also the reason he didn't meet his early expectations until this year. "I liked him going in; he was such a beautiful big horse, I had to have him. I usually don't go for big horses because I like a more medium size because we race on a half a lot in New York. But he was just gorgeous looking. As it turned out he was too big for his age and he had to grow into it," said Jacobs of Wyatt J. "As a 2-year-old he wasn't mature at all. He was so big I didn't want to hurt him. He did race decent at Vernon but that's a big track and I didn't want to put him on the smaller tracks so we shut him down and let him grow into his body. And he's done a pretty good job of that." His first two starts at three were 1:49 miles at Tioga and Vernon Downs against the top 3-year-old male pacers in New York and he acquitted himself pretty well. But Jacobs said he wasn't ready for that out of the gate and he decided to take him to Yonkers and get him brave in the non-winners classes and look past stakes in New York and forward to Massachusetts. "I sent him to Linda (Toscano) and that move worked out well for us. He kept winning races and kept getting better with each start. And he has just kept getting braver every week. They know when they're winning and they swell up, and that's what he's doing. And we want to keep that going for one more week," said Jacobs. Since moving to Yonkers, Wyatt J has won four straight races there before moving to Plainridge Park where he is now three for three in MASS competition. He has also set a new stake record of 1:51.3 for a 3-year-old pacing geldings in the process. Jacobs has never been to Plainridge Park, but plans to attend the finals this Monday. He said he has been impressed with the Sire Stake program and likes what he has experienced first hand this year. So much so he has already purchased another Massachusetts eligible yearling at Lexington named Knockout Lindy (Muscle Hill-Kinda Crazy Lindy) who was the sales topper for the third session and sold for $175,000. It's interesting to note that Knockout Lindy's dam, Kinda Crazy Lindy, is a sister to Big Man Ev (Chapter Seven-Possessed By Lindy 1:53.3, $231,921) who was the 3-year-old MASS trotting colt champion in 2017 and holds the stake and track record at Plainridge of 1:53.3 for 3-year-old trotting colts. Eight divisions of the $720,000 Massachusetts Sire Stake finals will take place at Plainridge Park on Monday (Oct. 26) with post time at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Batavia, NY --- Heavily backed at the windows, Black Is Back delivered for his harness racing supporters after going gate to wire in the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 24). The red-hot Dave McNeight III pushed the car away with Black Is Back and took the point passing the quarter in :28 and led a single file field to the half from there. Rounding turn two, McSpidey (Denny Bucceri) and Cultural Paradise (Kyle Cummings) pulled into the breeze and prompted the third quarter to a snappy 1:25.2. Rounding the last turn, Cultural Paradise tipped three deep, Percy's Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) went four wide around him and McSpidey shook loose from the pylons and all five horses were charging down the lane. With a highly animated group of drivers doing their best to get there first, McNeight and Black Is Back refused to lose and hung on by ½ length in 1:54.4. It was the seventh win of the year for Black Is Back ($2.80) who is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zedjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zedjelar Jr. trains the winner. The $7,500 Open II Handicap pace went to Machlicious (Drew Monti) who got away fourth before pulling first-over at the half, taking the lead at the three-quarters and then maintaining a 1½ length lead to the wire where he won in 1:55.2. Machlicious ($5.10) captured his third win in his last four starts for owner Jim Caradori and trainer Darrin Monti. Dave McNeight III led all drivers on Saturday with driving Grand Slam but Ron Beback Jr. had a big night as well, winning three races as both a driver and a trainer. There was a $5,000 guaranteed Pick-5 pool at Batavia Downs on Saturday that paid out big. The winning combination of 6-3-5-5-4 returned $6,065 for a $1 wager. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 28) at 5 p.m. There will be another guaranteed Pick-5 pool of $3,000 on Wednesday and it will again be part of the USTA's Strategic Wagering Program with free program pages available on both USTA and Batavia Downs websites starting early next week. by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Plainville, MA --- Last week from post seven, Major Leaguer did not get involved in the early pace and finished where he started as a result. This week he was back on the point and circled the field at 17-1 in the $17,500 Winners-Over harness racing pace at Plainridge Park on Thursday (Oct. 22). Nick Graffam sent Major Leaguer to the front ahead of Tisadream N (Drew Monti) and got to the quarter in :26.1. Moving on the outside second at that point was Sgt Papa Daddy (John McDonald) and Hudson Phil (Jay Randall) who were both in the wind around the second turn and up the backstretch. Hudson Phil tipped three-deep around a fading Sgt Papa Daddy and brought Rock Diamonds N (Ron Cushing) with him. Major Leaguer and Hudson Phil were fully engaged around the last turn when Rock Diamonds N joined the fray in the stretch. The three paced in close quarters to the wire but Major Leaguer was not to be denied and hung on by ¾'s of a length for the win in 1:50.3.   It was the seventh score of the year for Major Leaguer ($37.60) who is owned by Jimmy Whittemore. Marissa Chabourne is the trainer. Graffam also drove the winner of the $15,000 undercard conditioned pace for 5-year-olds and under, Benny Is A Jet, who became the winningest horse at Plainridge Park this year after scoring his sixth win of the meet. Benny Is A Jet got away fifth behind the leading Sea Isle City (Shawn Gray) and pulled second over behind Jackie Gheeson (Bruce Ranger) at the half. These two cleared and were one-two at the three-quarters, but Benny Is A Jet said goodnight to Jackie Gheeson and then held off the fast-closing Tucker Creek (Drew Monti) to win in 1:52 to claim his fifth straight race. Benny Is A Jet ($6.00) is owned by Braford Veilleux and Anthony Loiko and is trained by James Dunn. Nick Graffam ended up with three wins on the card to lead all drivers on Thursday. Amanda Kelly was the 10/22 leading trainer sending two for pictures herself. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (Oct. 23) with post time at 2 p.m. Just a reminder, the $720,000 (est.) Massachusetts Sire Stake finals will be held at Plainridge on Monday (Oct. 26) with post time at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Batavia, NY --- Western New York racing legend and former Grand Circuit driving star Gerry Sarama reached another harness racing career milestone after getting his 1,000th training victory with Ohio Prince in the 12th race at Batavia Downs. Sarama has been around the sport his entire life as his father owned and raced horses. He started driving at an early age and quickly found himself at the top of the driver colony in western New York and won many driving titles at Batavia Downs. Sarama made a move to Roosevelt Raceway in the late 1970’s and successfully competed with the best in the nation on the biggest stage at the time, racing side by side with the likes of Carmine Abbatiello, Herve Filion, Billy Haughton and all the other great New York City reinsmen of that era. But he eventually found his way back to his roots and continued to be at the top of his game ever since. The one constant of Sarama’s career regardless of what track he was competing at, he was always a highly sought after catch driver.    During his driving career, the now 78-year-old Sarama amassed 2630 wins and bankrolled $11.5 million dollars. But he curtailed that activity in 2007 and turned his attention to training full time. Since doing so Sarama has found as much success in the jog cart as he did in the sulky. He currently oversees about 14 horses and since taking over conditioning duties full time, his stable has won in excess of $5.6 million. During his entire training career Sarama has made 6,153 starts with 1,000 wins, 931 seconds and 843 thirds giving him a .292 UTR. The entire staff at Batavia Downs as well as all our horsemen would like to congratulate “The man with the hands” Mr. Gerry Sarama on this accomplishment.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- A rain-soaked track greeted horsemen for the night’s proceedings at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 21) but stellar harness racing performances were still on display, especially by top class winners Before I Die and Tellawoman. A scratch-shortened field of six horses went to post in the $8,500 Open I Handicap trot and the race turned into a tale of two races. Chapter one was Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) who screamed off the gate and sped away to an eight-length lead at the half in :58 and looked like a walk-over tonight. At that same station, Before I Die (Jim McNeight Jr.) was sitting fourth and 11 lengths in arrears. Chapter two was when McNeight pulled Before I Die at the five-eighths and started making tracks towards the leader and doing it in a timely fashion. At the three-quarters Il Mago’s lead was down to four and diminishing with every stride while Before I Die was in full gear. When they hit the top of the lane Il Mago was digging in and determined to win, but Before I Die wrote his own ending by a head; winning in 1:58.2. It was the second top class victory this year at Batavia Downs for Before I Die ($8.70) and his owners Caren and Jamie Dubay, the latter who also trains the winner. Then in the $8,500 Open I Handicap for for pacing fillies and mares, HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) led the field to the half in :27.4 but when Bucceri tapped the brakes in a :30.1 second panel, Morrill pulled Tellawoman and took control by the five-eight’s pole. As soon as he did, Bucceri came right back out with HP Sissy and rode alongside the leader with Yankee Secret (Dave McNeight III) now traveling three deep. Heading into the stretch HP Sissy faded and Carly Girl (Drew Monti) was trying to get out between her and Tellawoman while Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) was also now flying down the stretch. When they hit the wire four horses were only a length apart in very close quarters and after an objection and two inquiries (none of which were allowed) Tellawoman won in 1:57, only 1/2 length ahead of Lady Dudette and HP Sissy who dead-heated for second. It was the second win in the last three starts for Tellawoman ($7.10) and owner Rose Campbell. Russell Bratt trains the winner. Jim Morrill Jr. and Drew Monti topped all drivers with three winners each on the night while trainers Sabrina Shaw, Kevin Cummings and Gerry Sarama tied for top conditioning honors with two apiece. With no winner in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday there is a $2,152 carry-over pool that will move to Saturday (Oct.24) and it has been announced that there will be a guaranteed pool of $5,000 for the Pick-5 wager that day. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites. The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the following Wednesday (Oct. 28) program. Post time for the first race Saturday is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Plainville, MA --- The third session of the Massachusetts Sire Stakes for 3-year-old contenders met at Plainridge Park on Monday (Oct. 19) to compete for the $112,500 in available purses with two early harness racing favorites ending the day three-for-three in the stake. The 3-year-old male pacers saw Wyatt J (American Ideal-Think Pink) successful for a third straight week after hanging on for the win. Wyatt J (Scott Zeron) took early command and led a single file field through five-eighths of a mile without movement. The first one to flinch was R Maddy Blue Chip (Kevin Switzer) who moved towards the leader up the backside and got within a length at the 7/8th's pole. There, Han Solo (Shawn Gray) pulled from fourth and swung three-deep into the lane and looked like he would take the prize. But Wyatt J was tougher and hung on to a neck victory in 1:52.3.   Owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, Wyatt J ($2.20) should head into the final as the prohibitive favorite. Bred by Lindy Farms of Connecticut, Wyatt J was a $245,000 yearling purchase at the 2018 Lexington Selected sale and drew the highest sale price of any American Ideal yearling that year. The other undefeated participant was Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) who bested the 3-year-old trotting fillies for the third straight week in a non-betting event. Without A Warning (Scott Zeron) followed RFL's M London (Jim Hardy) for a quarter mile before Zeron tipped, took the lead and ran off with the money. The filly stayed close to the field until the top of the lane where she kicked away to a 2-1/2 length win in 1:57. After tangling with the likes of Love A Good Story and Hypnotic Am in the New York Sire Stakes all year, Without A Warning has shown her class in this series with three easy wins for trainer George Ducharme. Without A Warning was bred by her owner, Ray Campbell Jr. In the 3-year-old male trotting division, Dazzling Lindy (Crazed-Lindy On The Rocks) got his first MASS win and did it with a career best effort. Dazzling Lindy (Drew Monti) took no prisoners and went right down the road with hectic fractions as the favored Life Is A Feast (Scott Zeron) following closely. Dazzling Lindy cut quarters of :27, :55.2 and 1:24.1. At that last station, Life Is A Feast pulled the pocket and tried to advance, but Monti popped the plugs and Dazzling Lindy trotted on. He opened up two lengths at the top of the stretch and held off a late lunge from Double Dealing (Shawn Gray) to win by 1/2 length in 1:54.4, which was a new lifetime mark. Dazzling Lindy ($10.20) scored his fourth overall win of the year for his owner the Lindy Farms of Connecticut, who also bred the gelding. Domenico Cecere is the trainer. Finally the sophomore pacing fillies were tamed by She's A Fireball (Western Maverick-Fire Can Fly) on the strength of a big three-quarter move. Rojas Blue Chip (Drew Monti) stepped to the half in a swift :55.3 with Ry's Red Rocket (Matty Athearn) and Shes A Fireball (Ron Cushing) right behind her. As they hit the 5/8th's, Cushing pulled Shes A Fireball and went right around Rojas Blue Chip and opened up two lengths on a fast approaching Ry's Red Rocket. Those two fillies broke away from the field heading into the stretch but Shes A Fireball was wrapped up and not to be caught, winning by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:54.1, tying her lifetime mark. Shes A Fireball ($5.80) has now won two of the three MASS legs for owners Ron Cushing and Adams Racing. Lucia Les and Kenneth Clairmont bred the winner. The $720,000 (est.) Massachusetts Sire Stake finals will be held on Monday (Oct. 26) at Plainridge Park with post time for the first race at 2 p.m. All eight finals will be held on that day. Live racing at Plainridge Park will resume on Thursday (Oct. 22) at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

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