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Andreios Kardia (Aaron Byron) wins an action packed Tioga Downs Open Handicap ($12,000) on Sunday Afternoon (July 23). Leading harness racing driver Mike Simons would win five times. Golden Gun (John MacDonald) would take the lead into the first quarter. Fireyourguns (Scott Coulter), would then take command and lead into the half. Andreios Kardia (Badlands Hanover) would go first over on the back stretch and take over at three-quaters. Owned by Ina Madill and trained by Jeff Byron, the 7 year-old would open up by two at the top of the strecth and hold on after a late charge by Time Out I'm Tired (Jim Marohn Jr). Andreios Kardia ($9.30) would finish the mile in 1:50.3. Time Out I'm Tired (Artiscape) would finish second with Bettorsluckystreak taking third. Mike Simons would get victories with Y S Joe ($13.60), Rebel Jet ($5.70), A Breath Of Fresh Art ($3.00), No Bad Dreams ($3.30), and would win number five with M G Home Run ($7.40). He now has 56 wins at Tioga Downs for the season. One True Friend was victorious in the special non-betting Racing Under Saddle (RUS) race at Tioga. The lady riders put on a great non-betting performance at the Nichols, NY track on Sunday. One True Friend (Dream Vacation) went gate-to-wire putting up the fractions :30.1, 1:00.2, 1:30.3, 2:03.3. Admirable Hanover (Vanessa Karlewicz) would follow the whole way to finish second. Railroad Lane (Michelle Miller) finished third. Iron WIll (Heather Reese) came in fourth. Boy Can She Fly (Codie Smith) was fifth with Stirling Accord (Sasha Moczulski) finishing sixth. There will be no live racing at Tioga Downs on Friday (July 28) due to a 38 Special concert. Live racing returns on Saturday (July 29) with a post time of 6:50p.m. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs

"Gotta get to the paddock. What did the paddock schedule say? Let me read it again...okay, I have to be in the paddock with the horse at 6:20 p.m., that's in ten minutes. The horse is ready, he's in the stall for one last time before we head up to the paddock. "Alright, paddock time...fourth race, number...I forgot the number. Alright, I am the four horse...number is on...buckets are filled with water, wait...where's the sponge? Oh, there it is. Warming up in 15 minutes...jog cart is here...does this horse wear a tongue tie to warm-up? Race time. We race in..."attention horsemen, 5 minutes, 5 minutes to post"...oh no, where's the bike?! on, tongue tie on, driver on, post parade out. Going to the gate at two-to-one, got a trip following the favorite...what is going on? He finished up the track, last quarter 32 seconds. I need to call the vet to see what's going on with him." A horse race functions like a car. There's many parts that make it work. Even though the buyer only sees the car and the crowds only see the horse and driver, there's a complex web of parts that work behind the scenes to move the car and keep it running as there are many people and factors that contribute to getting a horse to the races. These factors work like cogs, where each piece moves the next and if one piece stops working, nothing will function properly. There's many articles showcasing owners and trainers, drivers and horses; however, there's a key factor amidst the rest, one that maintains the health of the animal and is vital in its journey to the track, but is invisible to the spotlight. This piece doesn't work for the spotlight or for the winning title, this piece works for the sole purpose of the horse: the veterinarian. A veterinarian is the first person called when an animal is acting out of the ordinary. When a horse finishes up the track, takes a bad step, stops eating, or anything abnormal to its typical behavior, trainers call the vet first. The veterinarian is here now at my barn. It's almost eight o'clock. The horse just raced and the vet is already here. Her husband has a horse in the sixth race but she's here at my barn looking after my horse. She's scoping the horse and it's coming up with a flipped palette...explains the unfortunate events of the race. My daughter is beside me, it's her horse. The vet is explaining what a flipped palette is to my daughter, she wants to be a veterinarian, too. "A flipped palette is when the tissues in the airway constrict so much as to block the airway, preventing the horse from getting proper airflow throughout the race," Doctor Michelle MacDougall explains to her while allowing her to observe through the scope. Doctor MacDougall reassures my daughter that the condition is treatable and the horse will be fine. Besides treating the animal, veterinarians need to treat the trainers, too. While focusing on what the horse has going on and what the horse needs, the vet has to account for the hovering and concerned "parents". Doctor Michelle MacDougall has been a veterinarian for large animals for nine years, since she graduated veterinary college in 2008. She has centered her focus on large animals, only working with small animals as a volunteer and for very small amounts of time. She refers to her four-legged patients as "little babies". "They are all my little babies and they are all my favorite. I don't have a single best case and all my patients are special, it wouldn't be fair to pick just one," states Doc MacDougall. I, myself, have been that same little girl, as have many horsemen across many racetracks. I have found myself concerned about my favorite horse but comforted by Michelle's words and teaching. She has shown me the inside of a scope on multiple occasions for my own horses and had even taken me on as a student for the summer of 2015. Throughout that summer, I had my heart set on becoming a veterinarian, I was intrigued by the knowledge Michelle had given me. She had shown me behind the scenes of her life, the ropes of becoming and actually being a vet. I spent the summer as her assistant and learned a wealth of information. However, and unfortunately, I have come to find that I do not have what it takes to follow in Michelle's footsteps. Michelle deals with the toughest parts of this business and of being a veterinarian. "The hardest part is not being able to help the horse. Despite examinations, blood work, diagnostics, and all the hopes and prayers, there are going to be some times that I simply cannot help the horse. Those are the hard times," says Michelle. Personally, I found that Michelle is strong, she is able to compose herself in these times, not for herself but for the sake of the trainer. On the other hand, amidst the tough times are seemingly small joys that have an enormous impact. "The best part of being a vet is being able to wake up every day and go to work doing something that I truly love to do, "Michelle says. "The best times come with watching a horse make its way to the racetrack after a long treatment or watching a foal come into the world." Michelle has experienced it all and has played a vital role in each event. In a nutshell, Michelle was born and raised in Maine. She became hooked on the outdoors as her daycare was a dairy farm that became a produce farm (Frugal Farmers) where she learned an honest day's work. She had an extensive career training and competing horses locally and regionally through high school and undergraduate school. She went to undergraduate school at the University of New Hampshire. Michelle MacDougall graduated veterinary school nine years ago from the Atlantic Veterinary College on Prince Edward Island, Canada. "I can't remember the exact moment when I decided to become a veterinarian and I can't remember wanting to do anything else," Michelle says. "Growing up I wanted to become a professional equestrian for the Olympics or World Games, but at the same time, I didn't have the 'horsepower' for that and so my mind was always set on becoming a veterinarian." Around the age of five or six years old, Michelle said she was introduced to a retired Standardbred named Kimberly Blaze. During Michelle's first ever horse show, her pony to be ridden came up lame and so Kimberly Blaze had to step in and save the day. Although Michelle had never ridden the mare before, she says Kimberly hauled her around the ring like a champ, earning her a ribbon in every class and reining Michelle in for a long-term passion for horses. Ever since that first show with Kimberly, Michelle has ridden many Standardbreds and "each one is unique in its own way." Michelle claims. She had already fallen in love with horses from the show ring but had a newfound excitement when she later came across harness racing while working in Maine for a Standardbred veterinarian. "I was introduced to this business in Maine," Michelle explained, "and there was no looking back. It was a new level of competition and excitement for me. They are just marvelous animals and simply love being a part of the sport. "I have a huge competitive spirit and I just love helping a horse become stronger and better for their owners and trainers. I watch almost every race that my clients participate in. I love to see my patients excel on the racetrack," Doc MacDougall stated. While working in Maine, Michelle had also met Jason MacDougall. He was one of the clients at the clinic she worked at when she graduated from vet school. He is a profession harness racing driver and trainer of 27 years. He has trained horses with Michelle for nearly ten years. "Michelle is a good vet and she loves animals, it's simple as that. For me, Michelle holds me together. She started our breeding farm and she started this new way of running our stable. Our horses are now our pets. All of our horses have a home for life with us," Jason says, "Michelle keeps me balanced and level-headed." Michelle has certainly had a reputable career working with horses. She has been a riding/driving instructor at Photo Finish Farm in Buxton, Maine. She has also been self-employed as a riding/driving instructor, as well as pleasure horse trainer for the past 25 years. Competitively, Michelle has competed in Eventing, Dressage, Gymkhana, Pleasure Driving, Competitive Driving, Distance Riding, Drill Team, Racing Under Saddle (RUS) and public demonstrations. She has represented Maine and SPHO Maine in competitive events as well including the USCTA Trials in Gladstone, NJ, the Equine Affaire in Springfield, MA and again, in Columbus, OH. She still continues to ride and compete. Every year, she takes a weekend to compete with a currently racing Standardbred in the SPHO National Show to showcase how versatile a Standardbred can be. "Michelle is one of my closest friends, said Tioga Downs caretaker, Tabitha Teresczuk. "We travel together to the National Show each year and she's always there for me. Whether we are out riding, driving to our next show, or in the barn at the racetrack, I always have her to talk to." Michelle began competing in the RUS program in Maine where the horsemen held a small circuit. The circuit followed the horsemen's own rules, with no governing body and no purse money, but with "the greatest fun in the world." These RUS races had 'gentlemen's starts' where each member of the race starts off equally without the use of a starting car, breaking horses, men and women riders, trotters and pacers. The race was for the fun of the horsemen and spectators, as an exhibition race. Later, the RUS race made its way to Tioga Downs as a USTA sanctioned race. Michelle earned a RUS license and qualified her mount, One More Lap. She was ecstatic as her previous RUS races had been on fair tracks with retired older horses and now, it was on the lightning fast Tioga Downs surface abroad fit and healthy racehorses. Qualifying One More Lap became more than her first USTA RUS race, but her most memorable moment in the division. After crossing the finish line, Michelle began to pull the horse up. However, the rhythm of the movement wasn't there, the horse and Michelle pulling opposite ways and so, Michelle landed on her head. "There was a bit of fuzziness for a while but not to worry," Michelle told everyone. "I came through the experience undaunted and rode the mare the next week to a spectacular second place finish." The next RUS race Michelle competed in was on Current Image at Colonial Downs. "What a difference racing Tioga Downs and Colonial Downs," Michelle explained. "From the top of the stretch at Colonial Downs, the finish line looked like it was simply never going to come. But it was just as exciting. Except I missed the start, oops." As a rider, Michelle has many achievements and awards. "As many people know, showing horses awards the rider with a ribbon. It is neither money nor fame, it is a silly little colored ribbon," Michelle says. "But, to us riders, that ribbon is so very important. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to fill rooms with my ribbons, trophies, plaques, blankets, pictures, and more. "However, the best awards are the memories," Michelle added. "The time shared with the horse; the long hours schooling the moves; the cleaning, packing, grooming; the re-cleaning, repacking, regrooming; the anxiety and nerves; and finally, the achievement. "The physical awards are wonderful, but the memories are the best," Michelle said. "Good friends, good horses, great times. There's not much better than." Michelle has been featured in books, magazines, and multiple published articles in the United States, Canada, and abroad. She helped edit and compose a Veterinary section in a book, "Retraining the Harness Racehorse" by Robyn Cuffey and Maryanne Donovan-Wright. She serves on the board of "Futures for Standardbreds" which helps place Standardbreds in good homes when their racing careers are finished. She also participates as a member in numerous other Standardbred related groups. As a horsewoman, Michelle assists her husband with the MacDougall Racing Stable whenever she gets a free moment. She has also helped her husband start a small Standardbred breeding operation based out of Florida. The breeding operation began out of availability, as Michelle puts it. "My husband has been involved in the business for over 30 years. But he did it like a man...not a woman...he never got attached." Once Michelle entered the picture, horses became pets rather than a business commodity. Selling horses became heartbreaking and nearly impossible to follow through. Thus, the breeding farm began. Most of their breeding stock is from horses that Jason had previously raced. They were all well bred horses, but were finished in their racing careers. The first mating pair produced Conman's Dream. "He's not a world beater," Michelle said. "but he was successful in his two and three-year-old Florida Stakes career and should make a decent overnight horse. He has a home for life!" Michelle's favorite horse throughout her life was a horse named Monte Carlo. He was her first horse, a Standardbred. "Together we ruled the world!" Michelle said. Her current favorite riding horse is College Major, her mount for the National SPHO Horse Show. Her favorite racing horse is Conman's Dream, her "homebred" and first foal. "There will be none more special than the first born!" As a veterinarian, Michelle began as an assistant at Blackstrap Hill Veterinary Clinic in Cumberland Center, Maine. After she graduated from vet school, she became an associate of the practice. Later, she branched out on her own creating her own business, Michelle MacDougall, DVM. Currently, Michelle works for herself as an equine veterinarian at Tioga Downs during the spring and summer months and at Pompano Park during the fall and winter months. In the spring of 2011, Michelle and Jason moved their stable from Maine to New York upon Jason's judgement of a better fit racetrack, at Tioga Downs. At the end of that meet, their stable was then moved to Colonial Downs in Virginia for the fall. The move to Florida was on a recommendation by fellow horsemen. They suggested trying a training center in Florida for the winter. In that winter of 2011, they moved to Reveille Farms in Astor, Florida. In 2012, they purchased their first Florida home and began the breeding program. "Now we have oranges on our license plates!" Michelle said, "We get to have Florida winter weather and New York summer weather, it's beautiful all year long. It's perfect!" Michelle's days and nights are filled with work. "I do not take days off, I do not take vacations." She works seven days a week, for most hours of the day. "I do vet work until vet work is done, I assist my husband with the stable, and then once I am home, I continue with records, billing and paperwork. I easily put 16-18-hour days, seven days a week. It's not a job for the light-hearted but I love what I do. "My clients are very understanding that when the races are going on, I will be assisting my husband's stable," Michelle added. "I also make a point of watching every race that I can, so when I am not helping in the paddock, I am sitting somewhere watching the monitors. I like to be able to see the horses at speed as well as examine them up close, and being in the paddock and watching races lets me do this. "My clients seem to appreciate this and they are very willing to schedule examinations or treatments before or after the races." Michelle starts her day early in the morning with a list of clients already written up. However, that same list becomes longer and longer throughout the day. She deals with everything from emergencies in the barnyard to last minute Coggins, which actually seem like emergencies to frantic trainers. "Michelle is dependable. She's always available when we need her. She maintains professionalism and is reasonable in every aspect. Michelle is considerate of both the trainer and the horse," said trainers Mario and Desi Dessureault. Michelle is able to compartmentalize between her personal and professional lives. "I try to treat all my horses with the utmost respect." Michelle explained. "I try to treat all patients as if they are the next world champion. I definitely try not to take anything for granted," One of Michelle's long term professional goals is to open up her own surgical facility. "I very much enjoy surgery and figured as I get older," Michelle said. "The hours I currently keep might start to catch up to me. It is not out of the question, but I currently do not have anything in place. "As far as I am concerned, I am quite happy to continue practicing within the barn areas of the racetrack. I think I have the ability to help the horses, I enjoy what I do and I can manage the hours. For now, I am content to stay as I am, but that is not ruling out a future in surgery." Although Michelle hasn't built upon her surgical dream, she has greatly impacted her current practice with the creation of a new treatment. It's called the DABS and it is a soft tissue internal blister. The procedure has helped many race horses overcome potentially career ending injuries such as bowed tendons, suspensory's, and other lower limb soft tissues by using their own blood properties in the treatment. Trainers from across the country have traveled to Tioga Downs and Florida to have the procedure done. Driver and trainer Nick Surick said "Following the advice of an owner, I sent over one of my horses to Michelle for the procedure. Although I was hesitant, I was also sure that without it, the horse would need to be turned out with a chance of not racing again. After Michelle's procedure, I have had great success and she has done other horses in my barn as well." From Coggins testing to career saving treatments and everything in between, veterinarian Michelle MacDougall has done at all, all the while tending to the trainers and horses simultaneously. She has become very well-known and has had a remarkable background working with horses in such a short period of time. There is certainly more to come. Alright, it's one week later, Michelle treated the horse for the flipped palette and I followed her advice to-a-T. We have the four hole in the fifth race and our odds seemed to skyrocket after last week's start. The horse is on the track, everything seems to be going well. Last quarter 28 seconds and change, good. Thanks to Doc MacDougall this horse is back to its normal self. I have to remember to thank her later. Thank you to Doctor Michelle MacDougall and all veterinarians for everything you do, from all horsemen, owners and trainers, and horses. by Jessica Hallett, for Harnesslink Jessica Hallett is a new correspondent for Harnesslink. Jessica, 18, lives in Margate, Florida and will be attending Nova Southeastern University this fall. She is the daughter of Pompano Park/Tioga Downs owner/trainers John and Michelle Hallett.  

WInd Of The North (Mike Simons) leaves the rest in the dust as they capture the Open Trot ($12,000) at Tioga Downs on Saturday (July 22). Picture This (Charlie Norris) would charge to the front and take them to a first quarter in 28.4. Wind Of The North (Cantab Hall) would then move first over from fourth and blow right by to take over before the half. Owned by Darryl Bier and Joann Dombeck, while trained by Jeff Long, the 7 year old gelding would follow up with fractions of :57.2, 1:25.0, 1:53.1 and winning by three lengths in the end. Dragin The Wagin (Aaron Byron) would come late to finish second. Picture This would settle for third. Wind Of The North ($3.90) would win for the sixth time this season in 18 starts and for the 30th time in his career. Mike Simons would take win number 51 on the season. Jeff Long would earn his sixth training win on the season. The exacta (1-6) would pay $20.20. The large crowd was entertained after racing with a fantastic display off fireworks. Tioga Downs returns to racing Sunday afternoon (July 23) with a 12 race betting card and one non-betting Riders Under Saddle (RUS) race (following race one). Post Time is 1:00pm. Also on Sunday is the "Belly Busting Burger Battle" on the trackside apron from 1-4p.m. Tickets are $15 with children under 3 free. 1/2 of ticket proceeds will go to a selected charity. Includes all burger tasting, water and one voting slip per person. Live entertainment and cash prizes. This is weather permitting only. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs.

K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart Jr.) was just too tough in Tioga Downs Fillies and Mares feature on Friday night (July 21). The 7 year-old mare by Roddy's Bags Again would come firing out of the gate and control the race from the start. K J's Caroline ($5.30), who is owned by Scott Woogen and trained by Gary Messenger would put up the fractions of :27.3, :55.3, 1:24.0, 151:4, to go gate-to-wire. Gweneeee J (Jim Meittinis) would go after her but fall short and finish second. Iaquinta (Tom Jackson) would take the show position. Mike SImons still has huge lead in the driver standings. He would add one win to up his total to 50 wins on the season. Mike Merton is in second with 32 wins. Jim Taggart is third with 30 tallies. Tom Jackson is fourth with 28 wins. Jim Meittinis would win two on the night giving him 27 for the season.. Trainers standings continue to be wide open. Mike Deters and Tony Dinges are tied for first with 17 wins. Patti Harmon finds herself in third, tied with Gary Messenger with 14 wins a piece. Dave McGinnis has 13 wins on the season which lands him in 5th Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (July 22) at 6:50p.m. Fireworks will follow racing. For more information please go to John Horne for Tioga Downs.

Bettorsluckystreak (Jim Taggart Jr.) took the harness racing featured matinee pace on Sunday afternoon (July 16) at Tioga Downs. Believe This Bob (Aaron Byron) would take the lead and own all the early fractions, :25.4, :55.1, 1:22.3. Bettorsluckystreak (Better's Delight), who is owned by Ken Weckstein, Richard Rubin and trainer Gary Messenger, would ride the pocket the whole way until the top of the stretch. He would storm to the front and win with a lifetime best of 1:51.0. Bettorsluckystreak ($11.60) would win for the fourth time in 21 starts this season. Team Captain (Fern Paquet Jr.) would come late to finish second. Believe This Bob would settle for third. Scott Coulter who is known as "The Tan Tornado" was the only storm that hit Tioga Downs on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Coulter would win with Gold Star Spike ($8.00). His second victory came with Fritzie Pic Up Man ($3.80). "The Tan Tornado" would guide Ideal Legacy A to an upset victory, paying $37.60 for the win. His last win came on the last race of the day, leading Anderlecht ($6.20) to a gate-to-wire victory. Mike Simons added 2 more wins on Sunday giving him 49 for the season. Mike Merton is in second with 31 victories. Tioga Downs is back live on Friday (July 21) starting at 6:50. The track from Nichols, NY will be featuring their annual "Miss Tioga Downs Pageant" in between races. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs

Picture This (Charlie Norris) went gate-to-wire to win the harness racing feature ($9,000) at Tioga Downs on Saturday night. The 7yo gelding by Classic Photo charged to the front and never looked back. Picture this ($3.00) is owned and trained by Norris as well put up the fractions of :28.4, :57.4, 1:26.2, 1:55.0, won for the second time this season and has 18 career wins. McKensie's Star (Fern Paquet Jr.) finished a gritty second while Explosive Drama (Micke Merton) came up late to get third. Jim Meittinis and Arron Byron would each win three on the night. Meittinis first won with Master Of Puppets ($3.90). He drove Winemaster Hanover ($2.80) to victory for his second win. He got win number three with Katch Kanna ($8.00). Byron would pick up his firstwin with 2 year-old Rolling Sea (Roll With Joe-Romancing The Sea) paying ($6.80). His second win was with American Mistress ($5.30). The final victory was with Believe This Romeo ($7.90). Tioga Downs returns to live action Sunday (July 16) with a 12 race card starting at 1 p.m. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs

Northern Soiree (Mike Merton) would charge late to steal the harness racing Fillies And Mares Open Pace II ($9,000) (July 14) at Tioga Downs. K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart Jr.) would charge out to the early lead but Shutthefrontdoor (Scott Coulter) would take over after the first quarter. Shutthefrontdoor (Well Said) would get pressured at the three-quarter mark by Iaquinta (Mike SImons). Nothern Soiree (Western Ideal) who is owned by Sam Rosenberg and trained by Patti Harmon, would go three wide in the stretch and soar by to win in 1:52.1. The seven year old mare would get her sixth win of the season winning in a career best 1:52.1, paying a whopping $19.00 for the win. K J's Caroline (Roddy's Bags Again) would come up to finish second. Goldstar Rockette (Aaron Byron) would finish third. Fern Paquet Jr. would have the hot hand tonight, winning three times. First with DC Flashback ($5.30). Second win was with Scarlett N Silk ($11.20). He picked up the driving triple with Heart Crusher ($9.40). Tioga Downs returns to racing on Saturday with a nine race card starting at 6:50. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs

Shady City (Larry Stalbaum) would take the Open Pace ($12,000) at Tioga Downs on Sunday (July 9) for the third straight time. All together the harness racing 7 year-old has won five straight. Time Out I'm Tired (Jim Marohn Jr.) would jump out of the gate first but Fire Your Guns (Mike SImons), would work hard to take the lead before the first quarter. Fire Your Guns (American Ideal) would take all the early fractions :27.1, :54.2, 1:21.3. Time Out I'm Tired (Artiscape) would come out the pocket and challenge at the top of the stretch. Shady City (Metropolitan), who is owned by Staulbaum and trained by Kimberly Asher, would then make a three wide move in the stretch to blast by and win in a lifetime best of 1:50.1. Shady City ($5.90) would hold off a late charge by second best, Andreios Kardia (Aaron Byron). Time Out I'm Tired would hang on for third. Staulbaum would win two more on the card. He led Barbarian ($9.60) to victory, hanging on to beat Wellwesaid (Mike Merton). Staulbaum would get his thrid win with Winyard Hanover ($20.60) passing Lyons Johnny late in the stretch. Tioga Downs returns to live action on Friday starting at 6:50pm For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs  

Prairie Fortune (Jim Meittinis) captured the featured Open Trot ($12,000) at Tioga Downs on Saturday night. Dragin The Wagon (Aaron Byron) would jump out to the early lead and cut out all the early fractions :28.1, :57.4, 1:25.4. The late running, Prairie Fortune (Arapa Victory) would find himself in fifth place at the halfway point. Owned by Laurie Poulin and trainer Mike Deters, the 5 year-old gelding would go first- over at the middle of the back stretch. Prairie Fortune ($3.20) would have the lead by the top of the stretch and hold off a late bid by Picture This (Charlie Norris) to win for the fifth time this season in 1:54.1. Picture This would finish second with Dragin The Wagon holding on for third. For Meittinis it would be his second win of the evening. He would win with Lily's Swan Pond ($2.40) who finished in a dead heat victory with Yooooukilis ($5.20) and driver Jeff Long. Uriel (Explosive Matter) and Tony Dinges took the STAC Amateur race at Tioga Downs. Owned by Enos Van Stanhope III along with Dinges who also trains, the 6 year-old gelding would win gate-to-wire in 1:58.1 Uriel ($3.40 won for the second time this season. Yankee Manny (Mario Deessureault) would finish second. Thekeptman (Fred Cohen) was third. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (July 9) with a 13 race card beginning at 1p.m. For more information please go to by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

Lease Ness Monster (Mike Merton) wins the harness racing featured Fillies and Mares Open (($12,000), on Friday night at Tioga Downs (July 7). The 6 year-old Lease On Life mare would grab the lead just before the first quarter controlling the pace going 26.2, 55.0, 122.1, 150.4. Owned by Matthew and David Waltz while trained by Patti Harmon, Lease Ness Monster ($3.30), was too strong for the late pressure of Sudden Change N (Jim Taggart Jr.), who settled for second. Gweneeee J came flying late to get the third spot. Mike Simons remains top driver at Tioga Downs going in to tonights action. Simons would add two more wins tonight to go to 44. Mike Merton would win twice as well to be second with 27 wins. Jim Taggart Jr and Tom Jackson are tied for third with 26 wins a piece. Jim Marohn Jr. rounds out the top five with 20 wins in just 52 starts. The trainer's race is much tighter. Mike Deters and Tony Dinges are tied with 14 wins each. The trio of Gary Messenger (11 for 75), David McGinnis (11 for 68), and Mickey McNichol (11 for 47), are all tied for third. Tioga Downs returns to live action with a 10 race card on Saturday (July 8) at 6:50p.m. For more information please go to John Horne for Tioga Downs.

New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing 2 year-old trotting colts and geldings sparkle on fourth of July at Tioga Downs. NYSS 2 year-old trotting colts and geldings were on display as Tioga Downs as everyone celebrated a gorgeous fourth of July (Tuesday). A preview of the future stars of the harness racing world looked promising. The NYSS races were broken up into four divisions. The first division of NYSS ($27,750) for 2 year-old trotting colts and gelding went to Cruising In Style (Jason Bartlett). A lot of horses tried to leave early, but when they went by the stands for the first time it was Rich Uncle (Mike SImons) who would have his own way until the end of the back stretch. Cruising In Style (Muscle Mass) would go first over then the duel was on. Owned by Thestable Cruising Group and trained by Andrew Harris, Cruising IN Style ($3.90), would battle Rich Uncle all the way to deep stretch when Rich Uncle would break stride. Cruising In Style would then cruise to finish line in 1:56:0. Funknpancakes (Corey Callahan) would take second while Troller (Phil Fluet) would finish third. The second division of the NYSS ($27,750) for the freshman trotters went to Fourth Dimension and brand new hall of famer, Brian Sears. The 2 year-old by Chapter Seven, would charge out of the get and control all the fractions, :28.1, :57.4, 1:26.3, 1:55.2 and go gate-to-wire. Owned by Courant inc. and trained by Marcus Melander, Fourth Dimension ($27.00), was too strong for Purpose Blue (Claude Huckabone III) who finished second. Don (Andy Miller) came up to get third. The third division of NYSS ($28,250) for baby trotters would be won by Fashion Forever (Corey Callahan). Lunar Credit (Chris Lems) would put up the early fractions :30, 1:00, 1:29, but Fashion Forever (Credit WInner) would charge out of the three hole and fly right by to lead through the stretch and win in 1:58.3. Owned by Fashion Farms LLC and trained by Jim Campbell, Fashion Forever, who was purchased for $150,000 as a yearling, paid $29.00 for the win. Lunar Credit would hold for second while Chasin Dreams came flying late to finish third. In the best race of the day Clive Bigsby (Chris Lems) would run down Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt) to win the last of the NYSS ($27,750) for freshmen colts and geldings. After Church Choir (Mike SImons) set the first quarter mark in :28.1, Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt) would control the fractions with the half in 51.2 and the three-quarters in 1:26.3. Clive Bigsby (Muscle Mass), who is owned by George Ducharme Stable and Winters Racing Stable while trained by Ducharme , would follow in the pocket the whole way. Clive Bigsby ($5.80) and Six Pack (second) would trade blows all the way down the stretch. Clive Bigsby would lunge at the wire to win in 1:56.2. Handsome Devil (Brian Sears) finished a distant third. Tioga Downs returns to live action on Friday (July 7) starting at 6:50 p.m. For more information please go to John Horne for Tioga Downs

Harness racing drivers Jim Marohn Jr. and Scott Zeron each take two Tompkins-Geers Stakes races at Tioga Downs on Sunday Afternoon (July 2). Jim Marohn would be the first to win taking Mac's Jackpot (Somebeachsomewhere) and going almost the whole way in the lead.  During the first of two Geers Stakes ($33,935) for 3 year-old pacing colts and geldings, Mac's Jackpot ($4.70), who is owned Jeffrey Snider and trained by Jim Campbell would hold off Northwest Yankee (Brett Miller).   Mac's Jackpot would win for the seventh time in his career setting a lifetime best at 1:50.2. Northwest Yankee would hold for second. Finishing third was The Wall (Scott Zeron. Mac's Jackpot The next Geers stakes race was for 3 year-old fillies ($25,960).  This time it was Scott Zeron's turn winning with World Apart (Art Major).  The 3 year-old who is owned by South Mountain Stables, Bay's Stables, Little E LLC, radio Racing Stable and trained by Linda Toscano, would go right to the front and never looks back.  The big favorite Someomensomewhere (Jim Marohn Jr.) would follow the whole way but would fall short to finish second.  World Apart ($12.40) put up fractions of :26.4, :56, 1:23.4, 1:52.2 ,  and was just too strong in the end to capture her first win as a 3 year-old.  Sweet Emotion (Brett Miller) would take third. World Apart It would be the Fillies version of the Geers Stakes ($25,960) again.  Ideal Plan (Western Ideal) would be the next win for Marohn Jr.  Owned by West Wins Stable, Jim Fielding, and Kevin McKinlay while trained by Casie Coleman, Ideal Plan ($12.20) would lead until the back stretch when Oceania (Jim Taggart Jr.) would take over and lead till just after the top of the stretch.  Tori Hanover (Scott Zeron) would then take a short lead before Ideal Plan would find her second wind and go by to win by a head in 1:53.1. For Ideal plan it was her third win of the season. Tori Hanover was second with Shepulledthegoalie flying late to finish third. Ideal Plan Independant One (Jim Taggert Jr.) would take the second Geers Stakes ($34,435) for 3 year-old colts and geldings.  The favorite, Jo Pa's Somebeach (Brett Miller) would lead all the way to the top of the stretch.  Independant One ($11.80) would come out of the pocket and wear down Jo Pa'sSomebeach (third) in the stretch and hold off a furious late charge by Art Scene (Scott Zeron) to win in a lifetime best 1:51.3.  Art Scene wound up second.  Independant One, who is owned by William Wiswell and Pinske Stables and trained by John Butenschoen, would win for the fourth time this season. Independant One The Final Geers Stakes ($25,460) race was for 3 year-old fillies.  Scott Zeron would team up with trainer Linda Toscano once again.  This time with Robin J (Roll With Joe) who is owned by Kenneth Jacobs.  Magic Forces (Marcus Miller) would lead the way until just before the half.  Looking like she was shot out of a cannon, Robin J ($4.20) would fly by to win by five lengths in the end to establish a new life time mark of 1:51.2.  Touchamatic (Brett Miller) would finish second with No Chaser (Tom Jackson getting third.  For Robin J it was her second win of the season and her eighth career victory. Robin J Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Tuesday (July 4) starting at 1 p.m.  The 13 race card will feature the New York Sire Stakes for 2 year-old trotting colts. For more information please go to John Horne for Tioga Downs.

Tioga Downs - With a break in the Sires Stakes schedule in both New York and Pennsylvania, the Tompkins-Geers stakes for the harness racing three-year-old pacers has attracted a bounty of both fillies and colts to race at Tioga Downs on Sunday, July 2.   Twenty six fillies were entered and split three ways as races four, six and eight on the card each for a purse of over $25,000.   Trainer Linda Toscano returns with her trio of talented New York bred fillies, all of whom won a division of the Geers stake at two and went on to race in the NYSS freshman finals.   While Toscano's World Apart is defending her Geers title, Breeders Crown winner Someomensomewhere is the focus of the first division as she searches for her freshman form for trainer Jimmy Takter. The winner of over a half million dollars changed hands privately over the winter and now races for the interests of Diamond Creek Racing and ABM Stable with Jimmy Marohn, Jr driving from post four.   Planet Rock must overcome post nine for driver Mike Simons as she seeks her first win of the season in what looks to be a wide open race six. The Rock N Roll Heaven lass earned more than $200,000 in 2016 for Linda and owner Ken Jacobs and has been second in her last two NYSS events.   The third member of the Jacobs and Toscano returning winners is Robin J (PP #5 Scott Zeron), another of last season's top Empire State fillies. She got her first score of the new season in a division of the Excelsior program at Buffalo in a speedy 1:54.4, which may signal her return to top form.   The seventeen pacing colts split into two $35,000 divisions carded as races three and seven with owner Jeff Snyder sending a formidable pair of homebreds into battle.   Mac's Jackpot (PP#5 Jim Marohn, Jr) has faced the top level colts at both two and three and won a division of the Grand Circuit Somebeachsomewhere stake on June 1. After being narrowly eliminated from the NA Cup final he was beaten just a head in the consolation for trainer Jim Campbell. The career winner of over $163,000 finds a bit of class relief in the Geers on Sunday.   Mac Attack was lightly raced at two but has been maturing quickly against overnight stock for trainer Mark Siva and shows a solid line against tough PASS competition on June 1. He'll have to overcome the far outside post nine for Marohn to get the job done in this one.   The fun starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday.   Nick Salvi                          

Sudden Change N (Jim Taggart Jr) makes a late four wide move to steal the harness racing Fillie's and Mare's Open at Tioga Downs on Saturday Night June 30.   Gweneeee J (Jim Meittinis) took the lead just after the first quarter and lead all the way to the top of the stretch.  The pacers went four wide in stretch.  Yes You Can (Tom Jackson) shot out first to claim the lead but Sudden Change N ($15.60) came widest and fastest of all to win in 1:51.4.  Sudden Change N (Changeover) is owned by Super Mile LLC and trainer Jody Reidel, would win for the third time this season.  Yes You Can captured second. Gweneeee J hung on for third. Taggart Jr. would win two others on the night.  Winning with Classic Can Dream ($4.60) in 1:53.2.  His first win of the night came with Townline Momma ($9.50). Leading driver Mike SImons would win four on this muggy Friday night in Nichols, NY.  Simons would win the second race with Iaquinta ($3.60) winning gate-to-wire by 11 lengths in the end in 1:52.0.  In race five he would command Caviart Griffin ($7.20) to the front before the half and hang on to win in 1:56.1.  Simon's next win would come during race eight with Charming Hill ($11.40) using a late move to win in deep stretch in 1:53.4.  Simon's would complete the grand slam with a win in race 12 driving Simple Saver N ($11.80) to victory in 1:52.2. Tioga Downs will not race on Saturday (July 1) because of the 38 Special concert.  Racing returns on Sunday (July 2) with a 13 race card starting at 1p.m. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs

Everyone has some form of a dream. Whether it's a collective dream, shared by a community, or a personal dream, held by each individual. Within the harness racing community, dreams are collectively individual. Every horseman and woman dreams of making it to the big races - the Hambletonian, the Breeders Crown, and so on. This dream is held for their individual self, but everyone in the business has the same dream, therefore making it “collectively individual”. Even though they all share the same dream, they each share it for themselves. The big races are the prime spot for gold and glory. Making it to these racetracks on these particular race days and nights is an accomplishment in itself. Just making it to the races fulfills the dreams of horsemen across the nation. However, for some, the glory doesn't end when the horse makes it to the track, but when the horse makes it to the winners circle that night. One driver/trainer in particular, has broken boundaries and has made an appearance in and won many major races. Myles “Mickey” McNichol has found himself not only in the paddock on these special nights, but in the race bike and in the winner’s circle on multiple occasions during his career. Mickey was born in the Bronx as Myles McNichol. “Growing up in the Bronx was tough so I changed my name to Mickey, after Mickey Mantle,” McNichol recounts. In 1996, Mickey’s career in the harness racing industry began. He lived near Yonkers Raceway in New York and got actually go his first job and got to go to Pompano Park in south Florida, where he groomed for Satch Werner and Ken Heeney. Mickey also went to Pace University in New York for two years to become an accountant. “Thank God I lived near Yonkers,” McNichol recollects his transition into the harness business from college. In this business, there are a variety of opportunities available to anyone interested in working with horses. On the track, these opportunities come at varying levels. Anyone of interest can become a groom, owner, trainer or driver. Some horsemen hold one or more of these available positions. Mickey has held all of them at some point in his life. “I've been in the business for over 50 years and I still love doing it, I've never had a real job,” says McNichol. As a horseman, Mickey has traveled the country - mainly the east coast - racing at all different kinds of tracks. From the southeast to the northeast, Mickey has raced at Pompano Park, Yonkers Raceway, Roosevelt Raceway, Mohawk Downs, Liberty Bell Downs, Woodbine Racetrack, Brandywine Raceway, and the grand circuit racetracks. “Those are the main tracks, there's too many to mention,” Mickey jokes. Aside from being a well-known trainer and driver, who has traveled up and down the east coast, Mickey has earned his name with the major races he has been a part of. Mickey has driven horses from every caliber, from claimers to champions. According to Mickey, the best races he has won include the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks, four Breeders Crowns, two Peter Haughton’s when the purse was one million, and the Shepherd Pace at Yonkers for $500,000. He won these great races with great horses. The best horses Mickey has trained or driven include Jazz Cosmos, Nearly Perfect, Why Not, Another Miracle, Selena Lobell, Broadway Express, and What's Next. Besides training and driving the best horses, every horseman has their favorites. A ten thousand claimer named What a Chance, the champion horse Caesars Jackpot, and the great Jazz Cosmos, were some of his favorites. “My best horses were Jazz Cosmos and Caesars Jackpot. The one I loved the most was What A Chance,” Mickey reminisces. Although McNichol has competed in every class of racing, he says his two best races were winning with the Hambletonian with Alf Palmea and losing the Hambletonian with Jazz Cosmos. “Even though I lost the Hambo with Jazz Cosmos, I won every other race with him and it was an honor winning Trotter of the Year with him in 1982.” Mickey’s biggest score did come when trainer/driver Per Eriksson asked him to drive Alf Palema in the Hambletonian. Mickey admitted he never even heard of the horse until the week before the Hambletonian. “I always think about that day I came up the rail and beat King Conch,” said McNichol. “It was the greatest day I had in the business, and when I crossed the finish line and slowed down into the first turn to come back to the winner’s circle, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it that I’d won. “The Eriksson people were so high on King Conch, McNichol recalled, “That before we went on the track for the final they never said anything to me -- no instructions or anything like that. So, I’m scoring down, and I look down and notice that he’s missing a left front shoe. I started to head back to the paddock to get a repair and then I saw that he was missing his right front shoe too. Now, I might miss a horse throwing one front shoe, but there’s no way I’m going to miss one throwing both. Then I figured out he had no shoes on any of his feet. If I had gone back to the paddock, I would have looked like a complete idiot, but nobody even bothered to tell me that they’d pulled all the shoes off!” In pursuing a career in harness racing, trainers and drivers generally have someone who sparked the interest that lead to this decision. McNichol says he looked up to trainers and drivers Stanley Dancer, George Sholty, Bill Haughton, and Herve Filion. Mickey McNichol himself can be considered an inspiration. “I grew up in his barn,” said top performing driver Bruce Aldrich, Jr. “I watched him dominate the race track. My father, Bruce Aldrich, worked for him for years. Watching Mickey was the moment I knew where I wanted to take my life. Mickey McNichol is the reason I became a driver.” Being in the harness business gives anyone a keen eye for talent. Horsemen come to a knack for observing horses. With McNichol’s 50-plus years in the business, he has not only achieved this talent but has been able to see the transition in talent over the years. “Horses are much more near a natural gait these days,” McNichol explained, “They are easier to break. It's still a great business. It has changed with the addition of slots. We just work with it and hope to get our fair share.” Currently, Mickey is stabled at Tioga Downs for the summer. He had been staying in Florida year-round, but has recently been teamed up with prominent owner, Fred Monteleone, who he has eight horses for. “It's worthwhile to travel north for these eight horses,” Mickey says. “It is an honor to host Mickey at this racetrack,” Said Tioga Downs director of racing Jason Bluhm. “He brings his drives and his horses. He's currently the fourth leading trainer and within the top ten leading drivers at Tioga and the caliber of his horses make race nights eventful.” Mickey also says he is in great health. “I feel great,” Mickey says. He had a bypass surgery eight years ago and has overcome numerous harness racing accidents. “I work hard at keeping healthy and no booze,” McNichol laughs. He has three kids; Melissa, Andrew, and Hayley. McNichol is engaged with Marianne Ayers to be married in September. “I couldn't be happier,” McNichol said. McNichol also likes to give special mention to his former co-owner and trainer, Joe Caraluzzi. “My friend and partner forever,” McNichol said. “We grew up in the Bronx together before harness racing and are still best friends to this day.” Mickey McNichol has had an illustrious career in harness racing, one worth special honors, a story that is still being written. By Jessica Hallett, for Harnesslink Jessica Hallett is a new correspondent for Harnesslink. Jessica, 18, lives in Margate, Florida and will be attending Nova Southeastern University this fall. She is the daughter of Pompano Park/Tioga Downs owner/trainers John and Michelle Hallett.

For the second week in a row Shady City (Larry Stalbaum) would capture the featured pace at Tioga Downs on Sunday afternoon (June 25). Sing For Me George (Aaron Byron) took over from the start and controlled all the early fractions :27.1, 55.2, 123.1. Shady City($4.80) for the second week in a row would find himself parked out first-over for over half a mile. The 7-year-old gelding by Metropolitan took over at the top of the stretch. Rodeo Rock (Jim Meittinis) would fire late and looked poised to win in the stretch but Shady City who is owned by Staulbaum and trained by Kim Asher dug down deep and found something extra to earn his fourth consecutive win going away in 1:51:1. Rodeo Rock settled for second best while Golden Gun (Truman Gale) was third. Staulbam would win again in race 10 with the big long shot Great Tune ($80.50). Mad Mad World (Jim Taggart Jr.) had a three length lead at the top of the stretch but the big favorite would tire in the stretch, setting up the late chase by Great Tune (Art Major). Owned by Brittany Ohol and trained by Michael Ohol, Great Tune would win his first career victory in 1:56.3. Mad Mad World held for second. Winback Willie T (Atlee Bender) finished third. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Friday (June 30). No racing on Saturday (July 1) because of 38 Special concert. For more information go to John Horne for Tioga Downs.

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