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After a gaming license pursuit that has spanned more than three years, Tioga Downs has announced it will officially open the new casino to the public on Friday, December 2nd at 3 pm.   The new gaming floor features 33 long-awaited table games, including Blackjack, Craps and Roulette, as well as popular casino games like Pai Gow Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em, Let It Ride, 3-Card and 4-Card Poker and the Big 6 Wheel.   New tables aren't the only new games players will find in the casino. The facility also replaced all of the video lottery terminals with new slot machines.   Staff at Tioga Downs will open the doors to the new gaming floor at 3 pm on Friday following an opening presentation and official ribbon-cutting ceremony.   More detail on the event and the casino itself is available from this link.   Tioga Downs    

Nichols, N.Y. -- Owner-breeder Ina Madill's Andreios Kardia ($3.00) demonstrated great determination in the featured $10,000 Pacer of the Year Match Race on Saturday's (September 17) closing-night harness racing program at Tioga Downs, upending pacesetter Believe This Bob in a 1:50.1 mile.   The 5-year-old Badlands Hanover gelding was eager to go on from race's outset, offering pressure to Believe This Bob through a :26.3 first quarter before settling into a tight pocket through the middle half. Mike Simons and Believe This Bob relaxed the terms through a :55.2 half mile, but were forced to accelerate as Aaron Byron switched Andreios Kardia back to the two-path with five-sixteenths to go. The two dueled through a :27.1 third quarter, and Andreios Kardia would emerge victorious in the final 150 yards, edging away from the game pacesetter by half a length while driven.   Jeff Byron trains 15-time winner Andreios Kardia, whose third consecutive top-level victory earned him 2016 Tioga Downs Pacer of the Year honors.   Aaron Byron and Mike Merton led all drivers with four wins apiece on the 11-race card.   Additionally, Trotter of the Year honors were bestowed upon Prairie Fortune, campaigned by owner Laurie Poulin, owner-trainer Mike Deters, and regular driver Jim Meittinis. Deters was also crowned the seasonal training champion, while Ontario-based Scott Coulter maintained a clear margin over Mike Simons to capture top driving honors.   Horseplayers and horsemen alike are advised to visit www.tiogadowns.com for updates on the ongoing casino expansion, as well as on the 2017 harness racing season.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. - Just over a month removed from her 5-1/2 length win in the Geers Stakes, harness racing owner Kenneth Jacobs's Planet Rock ($13.80) proved victorious again at Tioga Downs, sustaining first-over progress and parrying two late-charging 2-year-old pacing fillies in a $110,200 New York Sire Stakes event on Friday (September 16) evening. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven and Villa Hanover was forced to abort a leave attempt as Artrageous (Jim Morrill, Jr.) led a :26.2 stampede through the first quarter. John Campbell would put Planet Rock in play with a circuit to go, advancing first-over to the clubhouse turn while 3-10 favorite Tequila Monday (David Miller) slipstreamed live cover through middle splits of :57 and 1:24.3. Planet Rock would succeed in dueling down Artrageous off the far turn, but she wasn't home free upon cornering. Tequila Monday--who drifted to the four-path after fanning off cover--quickly righted the ship and charged boldly, as did Robin J (Mike Simons) after finding room to vacate the pocket. Still, Planet Rock ultimately prevailed, driven out to hold sway by a neck in 1:52.3. Tequila Monday and Robin J finished second and third respectively, while Roaring To Go (Brett Miller) stayed on for fourth. Linda Toscano trains Planet Rock, who earned her seventh career win in just eight starts. In the sub-featured $13,500 Open 1 Trot, Dragin the Wagon ($8.10) made every yard a winning one en route to a 1:53.3 triumph. The 6-year-old Angus Hall gelding sprinted to the fore to evade a host of leavers to the first turn, and held clear of a belated rally from Prairie Fortune (Jim Meittinis), who emerged off third-over cover to take second. Aaron Byron drove the 31-time winner for owner James Cantelon and trainer Jeff Byron. An 11-race Closing Night card awaits on Saturday (September 17); first post is slated for 6:30 p.m., with full coverage on the Tioga Downs Racing Network to commence at 6:05 p.m. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- Friday (September 16) evening's harness racing program at Tioga Downs will feature a probable preview of the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old pacing fillies, as eight precocious distaffers will square off in a lone $110,200 Sire Stakes event as the centerpiece of a 15-race card.   Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey's Tequila Monday will look to remain undefeated after a pair of dominant wins at Harrah's Philadelphia and an 8-3/4 length domination in her lone Sire Stakes effort at Yonkers last week. David Miller retains the driving duties on the daughter of American Ideal and Margarita Monday, and the pair will start from post 7 for trainer Chris Oakes as the 3-1 morning line second choice.   Among the seven fillies looking to hand Tequila Monday her first career defeat are six-time winners Planet Rock and Robin J, both from the Linda Toscano stable. Planet Rock, the 5-2 morning line favorite from post 6, began her career with six straight wins, including a 1:53.1 victory in her Geers Stakes division at Tioga on August 12. John Campbell assumes the lines on the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven and Villa Hanover.   Planet Rock's stablemate Robin J was a no-match second to Tequila Monday at Yonkers last week, but won six of seven prior events including, like Planet Rock, a Geers Stakes division over the local oval. Mike Simons is slated to drive the daughter of Roll With Joe and Mommy Robin Q from post 3 as the 4-1 third choice.   In addition to top New York-sired 2-year-old pacing fillies, Tioga Downs will play host to the Maine-Endwell (NY) Little League baseball team, as they will be honored at the races for their Little League World Series title in a special ceremony following the evening's third race. Post time for the penultimate card of the 2016 season is 6:30 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- With the eleventh season of harness racing at Tioga Downs coming to a wrap, Laurie Poulin and Mike Deters's Prairie Fortune captured Trotter of the Year honors by way of sustained dominance over the Open ranks through the summer. However, with Mary Ann Larrimore's Believe This Bob and Ina Madill's Andreios Kardia virtually inseparable in terms of top pacing honors, they will settle their score in dramatic fashion: a closing-night (Saturday, September 17) match race.   "It's been a great summer," remarked Jason Bluhm, Director of Racing at Tioga Downs. "With these two pacers each winning seven races this season and going back and forth at each other in the Opens, we thought, 'What better way to determine Pacer of the Year than with a match race?'"   The two combined for 14 wins on the season, and they have exchanged top billing in Open 1 events through the last five occurrences of the event, with Andreios Kardia having won three and Believe This Bob two. Andreios Kardia, the slim 3-5 morning line favorite by virtue of his 1:49.3 triumph last week, will start from post 2 for trainer Jeff Byron with usual driver Aaron Byron. Believe This Bob, while the dominant force through the summer with more sustained success at the Open 1 level, last won on August 27, staving off Andreios Kardia by a scant nose in 1:50.4. Usual driver Mike Simons will be at the lines for trainer Joe Skowyra.   In addition to the race for Tioga Pacer of the Year, Simons remains in the battle for top driving honors on the meet. His 62 wins thus far keep him within three of leading driver Scott Coulter with 26 races remaining in the season. In the trainer standings, Deters has started to edge away, leading Skowyra 34 to 30 while closing weekend looms.   Both the Friday (September 16) and Saturday (September 17) cards are set to commence at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, with full coverage on the Tioga Downs Racing Network to begin at 6:05 p.m. on both nights.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

The CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series has been part of the harness racing scene for nearly 35 years and on Saturday (Sept. 10) was the first time this season that the Billings Series offered trots in both the Midwestern and Eastern Regions on the same evening. The Billings trot in the Midwest at Northfield Park was won by Max "Colonel" Schultz while David "Poppa" Glasser was victorious in the East at Tioga Downs. Schultz, a German amateur driver visiting the USA, scored a wire to wire triumph with Detailer in a 1:59.4 clocking and Glasser used similar tactics when reined Celebrity Stimulus home first in a 1:58 mile. Last year Schultz came to the USA around the time the Little Brown Jug was contested, and showed his American counterparts that he knows his was around the racetracks winning two Billings contests then. In tonights contest Schultz had Detailer on the lead as they trotted by the first stanza in :30 seconds and they were followed closely by Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford with Partyatyourplace. "Tonight, my horse was strong behind the (starting ) gate so I sent him to the lead and then slowed him down," Schultz related via a telephone conversation. The field trotted by half in 1:00.3 and up the backside "Chicago George" Bonomo took aim at the leaders with Flying Muscles although Schultz and Oldford were still one-two as the field passed the three quarters. In the lane Oldford angled Partyatyourplace out to challenge and they raced side by side to the wire. "I had perfect trip behind Max and when I pulled my horse out to challenge in the stretch we got to Detailer's his chinstrap but we couldn't get by and had had to settle for second," Oldford said. . Bonomo and Flying Muscles finished third. Both Detailer and Partyatyourplace are owned by Bert Hershberger and trained by J D Wengerd and according to Oldford if it wasn't for them the race probably never would have filled. Detailer notched his fourth seasonal victory and returned a $13.40 mutuel. Meanwhile in Billings action hundreds of miles away at Tioga Downs in New York's southern tier David "Poppa" Glasser reined his fifth victory of the season behind his own Celebrity Stimulus. Glasser and his charge started from the four hole and grabbed command almost instantaneously and they were three lengths in front in a :28.2 first quarter. From there Glasser let his trotter breeze and they were safely in front until the deep stretch when "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and MT Ur Pockets came calling. But Celebrity Stimulus hung on gamely for a neck decision over the country's leading amateur driver. Third place went to Linda Marie, driven by Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivlen. Glasser, president of a litigation company, was gracious to his help. "I am sincerely grateful that the trainers, and staff, who have cared for Celebrity Stimulus all year have him in such good shape. Without their hard work and skill I would not have won tonight. "As for the race, I had the racing luck tonight. No passing lane kept that closed and I was able to fight off the first over challenge," he related. The Billings trot went as a non-wagering affair after the third race on the betting card at Tioga Downs. By John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series

Nichols, N.Y. - Fresh off his dominant 1:49.4 win in last week's Open, Andreios Kardia ($6.30) made the most of a pocket trip to exact revenge on Believe This Bob in Saturday (September 10) evening's harness racing $13,500 Open 1 Pace at Tioga Downs. Aaron Byron used Andreios Kardia aggressively from race's outset, working to push clear of Believe This Bob (Mike Simons) through a :26 first-quarter duel, only to yield control to Believe This Bob with a circuit to go. The 5-year-old Badlands Hanover gelding found himself boxed through a :55.3 middle half, as Believe This Bob was forced to contend with the first-over JK Panache (Scott Coulter) up the far side. Andreios Kardia would find clearance off the far turn, vaulting out of the pocket as JK Panache faded and collaring Believe This Bob by half a length in a lifetime best 1:49.3. F Twenty Two (Corey Braden) saved ground throughout, passing tiring foes in upper stretch to take third. Jeffrey Byron trains 14-time winner Andreios Kardia for owner-breeder Ina Madill. In a $5,000 C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series event, Celebrity Stimulus and owner-driver David Glasser made every yard a winning one, repelling pressure from Dr Cal (Bob Hechkoff) and outlasting a three-wide charge from M T Ur Pockets (Hannah Miller) for a 1:58 triumph. Homer Hochstetler trains the 6-year-old Cantab Hall gelding. Two programs remain on the 2016 season at Tioga Downs. Live racing will take place on Friday (September 16) and Saturday (September 17) of next week, with first post at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on both nights. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. - Scott Woogen's K J's Caroline ($9.80) took full advantage of a pocket trip in Friday (September 9) evening's co-featured harness racing $13,500 Mares Open 1 Pace at Tioga Downs, only reaching the lead in the last 15 yards of a 1:51.2 mile. The 6-year-old Roddy's Bags Again mare was involved from race's outset as she customarily does, repelling Northern Beauty (Mike Simons) on approach to the first turn before yielding control to Yes You Can (Aaron Byron) after a :26.3 first quarter. K J's Caroline enjoyed a clear pocket ride through middle sectionals of :55.1 and 1:22.4. Jim Taggart, Jr. angled K J's Caroline out of the pocket just above the eighth pole--but another threat would emerge deeper out in the form of Northern Beauty, who hooked three-wide off the turn once able to shake free. K J's Caroline gained the upper hand in the nick of time, just collaring runner-up Yes You Can by a neck and likewise staving off third-place finisher Northern Beauty in a three-way stretch battle. Gary Messenger trains K J's Caroline, now a 28-time winner. Brandos Muscle Man elevated to first in featured trot In the $13,500 Open Handicap Trot, 17-1 outsider Brandos Muscle Man ($37.40) was elevated to first after his stretch bid from the pocket was interrupted by pacesetter Dragin the Wagon (Byron), who bore out off the far turn and clipped Brandos Muscle Man amid their stretch duel. Mike Merton drove the 8-year-old Muscles Yankee gelding to his 30th career win in 1:53.3, albeit by default. Dragin the Wagon was relegated to second for his upper-stretch foul, while Prairie Fortune (Jim Meittinis) could only muster enough momentum to capture third from off the pace. Rick Dane, Jr. trains Brandos Muscle Man for the Rock and Roll Stable, Inc. and Monica Banca. Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (September 10) evening, with the first of 13 pari-mutuel events due off at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- Andreios Kardia ($6.10) had no trouble overcoming his assigned post 9 in Monday (September 5) afternoon's featured $13,000 Open Handicap Pace at Tioga Downs, using a :54.4 back half to trounce his eight harness racing Labor Day rivals.   Andreios Kardia was among a host of early leavers, including All Stienam (Brandon Arsenault) and Flying Cowboy (Kyle DiBenedetto). Despite being forced to travel wide on the entirety of the first turn, the 5-year-old Badlands Hanover gelding achieved the lead through a :26.4 first quarter and would never look back. After driver Aaron Byron rated a brief second-quarter breather, Andreios Kardia used another :26.4 quarter to gain separation on his competition, ultimately drawing clear by 6-1/4 lengths to defeat the late-rallying Dee's Rocketman (Tyler Freese) and F Twenty Two (Corey Braden)--both of whom took advantage of chain-reaction interference in the second flight to make their late bids--in 1:49.4. trains 13-time winner Andreios Kardia for owner-breeder Ina Madill. Jeffrey Byron   Two weekends of racing remain in the 2016 season at Tioga Downs. The next program is scheduled for Friday (September 9) evening, with post time slated for 6:30 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs    

Nichols, N.Y. -- After his dominant win over Open 2 trotters last week, James Cantelon's Dragin the Wagon ($7.00) made a successful jump to harness racing Open 1 company at Tioga Downs, capturing the $13,000 feature on Saturday (September 3) evening in pillar-to-post fashion.   Aaron Byron had the 6-year-old Angus Hall gelding in play from the outset, sprinting clear of Brandos Muscle Man (Mike Merton) in the first few strides of a :27 first quarter. Dragin the Wagon immediately backed the pace down before bracing for the first-over bid of odds-on favorite Its Payday Friday (Mike Simons) up the far side. Dragin the Wagon subsequently parried the challenge of Dragin the Wagon after intermediate splits of :57 and 1:25, digging in through the homestretch to prevail by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54. Its Payday Friday narrowly held second over Brandos Muscle Man, who was hard pressed for racing room from a tight pocket trip.   Jeff Byron trains 30-time winner Dragin the Wagon for owner James Cantelon.   Mike Merton led all drivers for a second consecutive night, taking three of the night's nine races.   LIve racing returns to Tioga Downs on Monday (September 5) afternoon; the 10-race Labor Day card is slated to commence at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- LRL Racing, LLC's Cracker Coffee ($5.60) proved a gritty winner in Friday (September 2) evening's featured $13,000 Mares Open 1 Pace at Tioga Downs, giving harness racing driver Mike Merton one of his five wins on the 11-race card.   Merton sent the 7-year-old Six of Diamonds mare to the front from the outset, using the entirety of the first turn to clear K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart, Jr.) through a :26.3 first quarter before pulling back the pace. With three-eighths of the mile to go, Cracker Coffee faced stern first-over pressure from Shutthefrontdoor (Scott Coulter), and the two went on to duel through the far turn. Cracker Coffee not only outlasted her first-over foe, but also managed to stave off a late bid up the pegs from K J's Caroline to prevail by a neck in 1:53. Shutthefrontdoor leveled off from her uncovered bid and finished third.   Amber Buter trains Cracker Coffee, now an 18-time winner.   Merton also teamed up with Patti Harmon trainees Braveheartedmillie ($10.80, 1:53.1) and Jailhouse Jessica ($3.10, 1:55.2), as well as Courtney Wright trainee Gliding Boy ($76.50, 1:57) and Edgar "Sparky" Clarke trainee Zoraze ($10.00, 1:57).   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (September 3) evening; first post is slated for 6:30 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- Every Way Out ($3.00) made every yard a winning one in the $52,780 Solicitor, a W. N. Reynolds Memorial Stakes event for harness racing 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Monday (August 29) evening at Tioga Downs.   The son of If I Can Dream and Every Play pushed through up the pegs to establish the early lead, forcing Cougar Bait (Marcus Miller) into the pocket on approach to the first turn. Every Way Out controlled the terms through sectionals of :28.3, :57.3, and 1:26 before he was forced to brace for a bid from Cougar Bait out of the pocket. Every Way Out prevailed by a half length, staving off Cougar Bait while driven to complete the one-mile journey in 1:54. Rock the Boat (John Cummings, Jr.) stayed on from a clear tracking trip to hold third.   Tim Tetrick drove Every Way Out to his sixth victory in as many career starts for owners Howard Taylor, Abraham Basen, Edwin Gold, and Thomas Lazzaro and trainer Dylan Davis.   Tetrick also won the first $31,590 division of the Lorraine, just holding sway with Lets Havea Party ($3.90) over Ella Christina (Marcus Johansson) and Well What's New (Kyle DiBenedetto) in 1:54.1. Tony Alagna trains the Art Major-City Delight filly for Brittany Farms and Marvin Katz.   The other Lorraine split saw Loreenas Ruffian ($13.40) draw clear in hand to a 1:53 score over Touchamatic (Aaron Byron), while odds-on favorite Ameraway (Marcus Miller) could only muster a third-place finish from off the pace. Trainer-driver Charlie Norris co-owns the McArdle-She's a Ruff One filly with Leonard Buckner and Rebecca Ewing.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (September 2) evening, with post time scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- Solar Sister ($9.50) stole the show in the final 150 yards of Sunday (August 28) afternoon's stakes-laden harness racing card at Tioga Downs, dueling down prohibitive favorite Lady Shadow for a 1:49.4 triumph in the $200,000 Artiscape distaff pace. Favorites were upended in the Empire Breeders Classics as well, as No Clouds Bluechip ($7.00) and Fresh Cut ($36.00) both took top honors in their respective events for New York-sired 3-year-old pacers. On the undercard, trainer-driver Ãke Svanstedt swept a trio of W. N. Reynolds Memorial events for 2-year-old trotters. Tasked with a second-row start in a field of 10, Solar Sister sat just of a contested pace in the initial stages of the Artiscape, working into fifth early as Lady Shadow (Yannick Gingras) pushed clear of Table Talk (Andy Miller) after a :26.2 first quarter. On approach to the clubhouse turn, Doug McNair angled Solar Sister first-over, only offering mild progress into a :54 half mile. The 4-year-old Mach Three mare did her best work up the far side, working to within a length of Lady Shadow through a :27.2 third quarter and subsequently dueling with the 1-1/8-mile world record holder. The two drew off from a fading Table Talk, and Solar Sister dueled to the fore in mid-stretch. Solar Sister's 1:49.4 mile time gives her a share of the track record for 4-year-old pacing mares that was established by Anndrovette five years ago. Lady Shadow would have to settle for runner-up honors as the 2-5 favorite, while Devil Child (David Miller) sustained a massive three-wide bid off the far turn to capture third. Gregg McNair trains the homebred Solar Sister for Ontarians David Willmot and Clay Horner. Favorites were upended in both Empire Breeders Classic events as well, with No Clouds Bluechip and Fresh Cut both prevailing off cozy stalking trips. In the $239,225 Filly Classic, Brett Miller pushed No Clouds Bluechip into play with just over a quarter mile to go, overtaking a fading Angels Rockn Pink (Mark MacDonald) before engaging Wishy Washy Girl (Jim Morrill, Jr.) on approach to the far turn. The Roll With Joe filly edged clear authoritatively, sprinting off by 4-3/4 lengths en route to a 1:50.1 triumph as the second favorite. Wine Snob (John Campbell) posted belated uncovered gains to take second at 59-1, while even-money favorite Penpal (Pat Lachance) could only overcome stale early cover enough to save third down the grandstand side. John Berger trains No Clouds Bluechip for owners Richard Carney, Farrell Carney, and Barbara Berger. The development of the $240,475 Classic for colts and geldings came as no surprise, but the outcome stunned. Marcus Miller pushed forward early with Fresh Cut and ultimately established a cozy pocket trip with a circuit to go after yielding to 1-4 favorite American Passport (Scott Zeron) at the winning post. While the shape of the race held true to expected form, Fresh Cut's strong turn of foot from the pocket in the final eighth of a mile proved plenty to reel in American Passport and also stave off a late bid from 41-1 runner-up Stolen Glimpse (Yannick Gingras) for a 1:51.1 victory. American Passport ultimately faded to third after he was gathered in. Erv Miller trains Fresh Cut, a son of American Ideal, for the Bay Pond Racing Stable. Svanstedt and Muscle Hill sweep Reynolds Already renowned for his mastery in the kingdom of trotting, Svanstedt revealed why that contention possesses such veracity as he conditioned and steered New Jersey Viking (Muscle Hill-Hall Of Wishes), Ice Attraction (Muscle Hill-The Ice Queen) and Evelyn (Muscle Hill-Viva Las Lindy) to victory in their respective splits. While both New Jersey Viking ($2.90) and Ice Attraction's journeys ($3.10) to the wire in their contests, which are relegated solely to 2-year-old colts and fillies, were quite straightforward, Evelyn's ($5.20) provided a much more extensive amount of drama. Commencing his mile from post position eight, New Jersey Viking went right to the fore and was never threatened as he cruised around the Nichols oval. Owned by Knuttson Trotting and Little E LLC, the colt collected his second career triumph from five trips to the post. Two of his previous engagements were fourth-place finishes in the Peter Haughton Memorial and New Jersey Sire Stakes final. New Jersey Viking tripped the timer in 1:55.1, which was a new lifetime mark, and increased his bankroll to more than $69,268. Southwind Moody (Yannick Gingras) and Bill's Man (Corey Callahan) were second and third respectively. While not quite as dominant as her male counterpart, Ice Attraction demonstrated why she merits respect. The public's selection was content to sit in the pocket while Overdraft Volo (Andy Miller) cut the mile, until Svanstedt pulled his charge on the far turn. There was never a doubt who would be appearing in the winner's enclosure as the filly always had her rival measured. Owned by her trainer, Douglas Sipple, Mal and Janet Burroughs and Little E LLC, Ice Attraction strode across the finish line in 1:56, a new lifetime best, and scored her second career win to improve her resume to 6-2-1-1. Her earnings now stand at $35,300. Overdraft Volo and Caviart Wonder (Matt Kakaley) came home second and third, respectively. Although Evelyn's trip around the track was not without its impediments, the filly persevered after being shuffled back to fourth from second. Once pulled three-wide at the three-quarter pole, Evelyn passed her dueling colleagues Southwind Avanti (Marcus Johansson) and Treviso (Charlie Norris) to break her maiden in her sixth attempt. The filly, owned by Svanstedt, Little E LLC, Borge Nasstrom and JT45, equaled the track standard for her age, sex and gait with a final clocking of 1:55.2. Her record now stands at 6-1-1-1 and she has earned $47,310. Despite not winning prior to today, Evelyn had displayed talent with a sixth in the James Doherty Memorial and a second in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final. Southwind Avanti outlasted Treviso for second. Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Monday (August 29) evening, with the first of nine races scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs  

Nichols, N.Y. -- Favorites eked out narrow victories in co-featured $13,000 Open 1 harness racing events on Saturday (August 27) evening at Tioga Downs, with Prairie Fortune ($6.30) and Believe This Bob ($2.80) both scoring repeat wins.   Prairie Fortune, a 4-year-old Arapa Victory gelding, used his customary tactics to overcome post 8 and capture his 23rd career victory in the Open 1 Trot, carded as race four. Jim Meittinis angled Prairie Fortune second-over behind Rossini (Scott Coulter) on approach to the backstretch, subsequently moving three-wide off the far turn. Prairie Fortune accelerated immediately upon cornering, mowing down pacesetter Its Payday Friday (Mike Simons) in the last yards of a 1:54 mile. B L Class Act (John Cummings, Jr.) held third from a pocket trip.   Trainer Mike Deters co-owns Prairie Fortune with Laurie Poulin.   In the Open 1 Pace, Believe This Bob controlled nearly all of the terms, brushing from the pocket with a circuit to go and digging in to repel a late charge from Andreios Kardia (Aaron Byron) for a 1:50.4 score. The 8-year-old Beach Romeo gelding battled stoutly through the last 300 yards to keep his pocket rival at bay, prevailing by a scant nose while That'll Be the Rei (Mike Merton) stayed on for third.   Mike Simons drove the 39-time winner for trainer Joe Skowyra and owner Mary Ann Larrimore.   Simons led all drivers with a hat trick, also teaming up with Crime of Passion ($4.80, 1:51.1) and Gold Star Roger ($5.10, 1:56.3) on the nine-race card.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Sunday (August 28) afternoon; post time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- So Nice ($3.50) made easy work of her five rivals in Friday (August 26) evening's $13,000 Mares Open 1 Pace at Tioga Downs, posting a 1:50.2 victory to follow up her successful local harness racing debut last week.   The 6-year-old Ponder mare had no trouble forcing My Spring Fling (Corey Braden) into the pocket early on, finding a clear path to establish the lead as both K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart, Jr.) and Truth and Liberty (Aaron Byron) broke in the initial stages of the one-mile race. So Nice controlled the pace through sectionals of :27 and :55.3 before using a :27 third quarter to accelerate clear up the far side. So Nice ultimately prevailed by seven lengths over Shutthefrontdoor (Scott Coulter), who rallied belatedly for runner-up honors. Heart Major (Jim Meittinis) gained mildly off the far turn to take third over the fading My Spring Fling.   Amber Buter trains So Nice for the Gene Oldford Farms, LLC, Stephen Oldford, and Tyler Buter. For winning driver Mike Merton, the featured score was the first leg of a hat trick on the nine-race card. Merton would later team up with Windsong Illusion ($40.40, 1:55.3) and Futuristic Bride ($18.20, 1:57.2).   As no one hit the 50¢ Pick 5, a carryover of $479.48 will head to Saturday (August 27) evening's card. The first of nine races is slated for 6:30 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Columbus, OH --- When an harness racing O’Brien Award winner becomes available for purchase most people would not hesitate to sign their name on the dotted line. Howard Taylor, however, had to be persuaded to place his name on the check to buy a piece of harness racing mare Lady Shadow. “I thought she was too expensive,” he said. “That is when I called up Ed Gold and asked him what he thought. He said she was worth it and even if she did not race well she was worth what they were asking in residual value as a broodmare. “Also, I already owned a filly, Sudoku, that had beat Lady Shadow up in Canada. I felt she was much faster and we thought we could win the Jugette with her, but we had some problems keeping her head together and eventually bred her. If it wasn’t for Ed, I don’t think I would have bought into Lady Shadow.” Co-owned by Taylor's BFJ Stable, Gold, Carl Atley and David Kryway, the daughter of Shadow Play and the Camluck mare Lady Camella was Canada’s 3-year-old pacing filly champion and is the reigning champion older mare in that nation. It appears she is on her way to collecting another divisional title, as the 5-year-old places her five-race winning streak on the line in the $200,000 Artiscape at Tioga Downs on Sunday (Aug. 28). Lady Shadow, who is conditioned by Ron Adams, will commence her journey from post three and will have the services of Yannick Gingras. Her task, however, will not be a simple one as the field includes Dan Patch Award winners Venus Delight (post two), Anndrovette (post five) and Divine Caroline (post eight). Other rivals of note in the contest are fellow Canadian champion Solar Sister (post 10) and the always competitive Devil Child (post nine). “The plan this year was to keep her down here with Josh Green,” Taylor said. “He was the one that found her for us, but he called me up and suggested Ron Adams take her because he just could not get her to go. We put her in the Blue Chip Matchmaker series (at Yonkers) and thought she would be tough to beat, but she did not do well (seventh in the final). Then Josh put her in the Chip Noble (at Miami Valley) where she was seventh again. That is when he suggested the change. I have to give him credit for admitting she was not working out for him and she was fifth in her first start for Ron, but since then she has been rolling along.” Lady Shadow has been a model of consistency throughout her career. As a 2- and 3-year-old she was in Gregg McNair’s barn and earned $189,892 and $259,635, respectively. She was also trained by McNair until being purchased by her new connections in May of last year. Lady Shadow collected $286,034 last season, while under the care of Adams in 11 of her 14 starts, en route to championship honors. “I need to learn to listen to Ed more often,” Taylor said. “I was concerned about her price and then right after we got her she went out and won the Roses Are Red final. She paid for herself within weeks of us having her.” Since switching her home base from the United States to Canada this spring, Lady Shadow has been absolutely stellar. She won her second Roses Are Red title in June, then added the $229,900 Golden Girls to her resume in a world record 2:00.3 clocking (1-1/8th mile distance) which lowered the standard Always B Miki had established earlier on the card. She then captured the $235,950 Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day, where it appeared she would draw off to another facile victory, but Solar Sister possessed another plan and came on late to make it interesting in the end. Ultimately, Lady Shadow, with more than $1.16 million in the bank, prevailed. To prepare for her journey to Western New York, the mare qualified in 1:52.2 on Aug. 19 at Mohawk Racetrack. “She still has a long season left of racing and is staked to everything,” Taylor said. “The end goal is, of course, the Breeders Crown and we are hoping she has another championship season, which it seems at this point, she is right in the hunt for divisional honors. “I’m not sure what it is about Canada that agrees with her, because with her being stabled up there it will involve more shipping for her, which was why we wanted her down here with Josh, but for some reason being with Ron and being in that stall in that barn is what she wants to do. If that is what makes her happy we are all for it and like I keep saying this is one of the many times I’m really glad I called Ed Gold.” Below is the field for the $200,000  Artiscape. PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer 1. Empress Deo - Rocknroll Hanover - Jonathan Roberts-Wayne Givens 2. Venus Delight - Bettor's Delight - Jason Bartlett-Jeffrey Bamond Jr. 3. Lady Shadow - Shadow Play - Yannick Gingras-Ronald Adams 4. Regil Elektra - Mark Three - Mark MacDonald-Keith Armer 5. Anndrovette - Riverboat King - Tim Tetrick-Jeffrey Bamond Jr. 6. Stacia Hanover - Western Ideal - Brett Miller-Steve Elliott 7. Table Talk - Bettor's Delight - Andy Miller-W. Bart Dalious 8. Divine Caroline - Rock N Roll Heaven - Corey Callahan-Joe Holloway 9. Devil Child - American Ideal - David Miller-Chris Oakes 10. Solar Sister - Mach Three - Douglas McNair-Gregg McNair by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

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