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Despite setting a grueling pace with even-money favorite Fireyourguns tracking from the pocket throughout, Steelhead Hanover ($6.00) had enough left in deep stretch to narrowly prevail in Monday (July 27) evening's $12,000 Open Pace at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs.   Mike Simons secured a close tracking spot with the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight entire on the first turn, situated just behind Fireyourguns (Aaron Byron) and Eastend Eddie (Jim Marohn, Jr.) through a :26.3 first quarter.   Upon completing his brush to the lead with a circuit to go, Steelhead Hanover kept at a rapid pace, bracing for a sustained challenge from Fireyourguns on the far turn after a :54.3 middle half.   Driven out through the stretch, Steelhead Hanover prevailed by a neck, holding off Fireyourguns in 1:49.4 over fast going.   Eastend Eddie hooked three-wide in the stretch, sustaining a belated rally to hold third.   Joe Pavia, Jr. trains Steelhead Hanover for Dijo Racing, Joseph Barbera, the AGC Stables, and Pint Size Racing.   While Simons completed a driving double in the sub-featured $10,000 Open II Pace with Electrofire ($3.90, 1:51.4), Jim Marohn, Jr. led all drivers with three wins on the 10-race card.   The "Mighty Mite Part Two" teamed up with Giddy Up Delight ($6.60, 1:52.4), Flying Cowboy ($15.80, 1:50.3), and Retail ($6.10, 1:53).   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (July 31) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Nichols, N.Y. -- In conjunction with a United States Trotting Association initiative to boost purses for horses just beginning their racing careers, Tioga and Vernon Downs have elevated purses for select races, effective Friday, July 31, 2015.   Tioga Downs will increase purses for maiden, non-winners of two, and non-winners of five events by approximately 15 per cent. Those races will now be contested for $4,800, $5,600, and $6,400 respectively (formerly $4,200, $4,800, and $5,500).   Likewise, Vernon Downs will boost purses for maiden, non-winners of three, and non-winners of five races by approximately 10 per cent. Those races now will carry purses of $3,300, $4,000, and $5,600 respectively (formerly $3,000, $3,600, and $5,100).   For more information and current condition sheets, visit www.tiogadowns.com and www.vernondowns.com.   by James Witherite, Tioga and Vernon Downs

While 3-year-old trotting filly Barn Doll ($4.60) kicked cover to beat older company in Sunday (July 26) afternoon's $12,000 Open Trot at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs, it was trainer Joe Skowyra who shone most brightly on the nine-race card, with all three of his trainees on the program proving victorious.   The first race, a $3700 first-level conditioned trot saw He Belongs Here ($4.70, Brandon Simpson) mount a rally on the backstretch after settling well off a quick early pace, working into the lead on the far turn before staving off a late charge from Maggie O (John Cummings, Jr.) to prevail in 1:58.4.   In the sixth race, a $5000 claiming event, Master in Charge ($4.70, Aaron Byron) took charge from the outset, rating a soft :59.4 initial half.   When a first-over bid from Dance With Molly (Gary Clark) came up short and a three-wide push from Psyched (Sean McAleese) lasted no longer than the entry of the far turn, Master In Charge drew off to a 5-length win, staying well clear of a late-rallying Ashcroft (Mike Simons) in 1:57.2.   After a flash deluge caused a brief delay before the late double, the afternoon's final race saw Justherighttouch ($9.50, Byron) enjoy a pocket trip behind Highland Yankee (Cummings), emerging once free off the far turn to take the lead in upper stretch.   Justherighttouch subsequently held off a late charge from P L Houdini (Ronnie Morales, III), who circled the stalled cover of Aruba Vacation to miss by just a half length.   The 8-year-old gelding won in 1:58.3, giving Skowyra a training hat trick on the afternoon.   Barn Doll kicks cover to triumph in trotting feature   Not to be outdone, Barn Doll utilized a :27.1 final quarter to defeat her five rivals in the featured $12,000 Open Trot. Beginning from post 6, the Conway Hall filly came away second from last, just detached of the top quartet through a soft :57.1 first half.   On the backstretch, Jim Meittinis moved her second-over to draft behind Oho Diamond (Morales), inching closer as pacesetter Six Bax (Jim Taggart, Jr.) accelerated through a :28.4 third quarter.   Barn Doll would do her best work without the aid of cover, though, as she stormed home after losing Oho Diamond's cover, collaring Six Bax in the final yards and prevailing by a half length in 1:53.4.   Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables.   Live racing returns at Tioga for a special Monday evening card tomorrow (July 27).   Post time for the 10-race card is 6:15 p.m. Eastern.   James Witherite

Nichols, N.Y. -- Tracking live cover on the backstretch, Dan Clements's Mach It a Par ($3.00) showed immediate response at the top of the stretch once again, taking Friday (July 24) evening's $12,000 Mares Open Pace at Tioga Downs in decisive--and well-measured--fashion.   Getting away last in the field of six, John Cummings, Jr. angled the 5-year-old Mach Three mare second-over to track the live cover of Shutthefrontdoor (Vern Smith) well off a :55.4 half mile. Mach It a Par was towed into midfield on the backstretch as Shutthefrontdoor turned up the pressure on leader K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart, Jr.) past three-quarters in 1:24. K J's Caroline ultimately gave way midway on the far turn, but Shutthefrontdoor's new-found lead was in jeopardy at head-stretch. Mach It a Par tipped off cover just upon cornering, and surged to the fore in mid-stretch. She was taken in hand with 70 yards to go, and she prevailed by a measured half-length in 1:52.2. Shutthefrontdoor held second, and K J's Caroline checked in a worn-down third.   Renaldo Morales, III trains Mach It a Par, now a 14-time winner.   Cummings led all drivers on the evening, notching three wins on the 10-race card.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Sunday (July 26) afternoon, with first post scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

After a punishing early pace led to defeat in his previous outing, Fireyourguns ($9.30) bounced back with a 1:50.3 triumph in Sunday (July 19) afternoon's $12,000 Open Pace at the harness racing meeting at  Tioga Downs.   Jim Meittinis sent the 6-year-old American Ideal gelding right to the front, working clear of Bettorsluckystreak (Jim Taggart, Jr.) and Believe This Bob (Corey Braden) on the first turn.   Fireyourguns set solid fractions of :26.2, :54.1, and 1:22.0 before facing a first-over challenge from Thunder Steeler (Dan Clements) on the far turn.   Fireyourguns had no issues dismissing that challenger, edging away at the top of the stretch and prevailing by 2-1/4 lengths.   Eastend Eddie (Jim Marohn, Jr.) swung three-wide off stalling cover to just take second, while Bettorsluckystreak was an all-out third off his pocket trip.   Trainer Terence McClory co-owns Fireyourguns with Jennifer and Robert Lowe.   The sub-featured $10,000 Open II Pace went to Elite Awards ($4.60, Taggart), who took charge with a circuit to go after yielding to Dreamlands Art (Brandon Simpson) in the early stages, only to hold off a late rally from that same rival for a 1:52.3 triumph.   Joe Skowyra trains the 4-year-old Powerful Toy gelding for owner Karen Walls.   Jim Marohn, Jr. led all drivers with four wins on the 13-race card.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (July 24) evening, with post time scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

In his second local start, Paul and Patricia O'Neil's Verdi ($9.60) held off steady pressure from Six Bax and subsequently held off a late stand-side charge from even-money favorite Spice It Up Lindy to capture Saturday (July 18) evening's $14,000 Open Trot at the ahrness racing meeting at Tioga Downs.   With a pair of scratches reducing the field to five, Verdi did battle with fellow 7-2 joint second favorite Lexis D J on the first turn, driven clear by Mike Simons after a :28.1 first-quarter duel.   Upon reaching the backstretch, Verdi was nudged along by the first-over Six Bax (Jim Taggart, Jr.), holding off intensifying pressure through three-quarters in 1:26.1.   At the top of the stretch, Verdi was fully extended, but battled stoutly through the final yards. Not only did he stave off Six Bax's extended challenge, but he also kept the late-charging Spice It Up Lindy (Charlie Norris)--who kicked cover off the far turn and accelerated in the final sixteenth--at bay for a 1:56 victory. Spice It Up Lindy missed by a long neck, while Six Bax stayed on to finish third.   John Hallett trains Verdi, a 4-year-old gelded son of Kadabra.   In addition to the feature, Simons took both halves of the early double, teaming up with Twin B Heartland ($5.40, 1:55.3) and Yolo Lindy ($2.80, 2:02.1) for a driving hat trick on the 13-race card.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Sunday (July 19) afternoon, with the first of 13 races due to commence at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Nichols, N.Y. -- Sons of Art Major prevailed in two of three $37,267 New York Sire Stakes events for harness racing 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Friday (July 17) evening at Tioga Downs.   Talk Show ($2.70) set the speed standard for the evening in the first split, carded as race 5 on the 12-dash card. Scott Zeron brushed out of third with the son of Art Major and Lush Limbaugh, pushing clear after a :26.4 initial quarter and subsequently staving off a stern first-over challenge from Major Hill (Jim Taggart, Jr.). After repelling that challenge, Talk Show sprinted clear of pocket rival Roll With Fred (Jim Morrill, Jr.) for a 2-1/2 length triumph, turning in a 1:52.3 mile over fast going.   Steve Elliott trains Talk Show for the Pegasis Investment Group, the Team S Racing Stable, and the Barbara Bongiorno Stable.   Travel Playlist ($12.00, out of Village Madonna) was the second Art Major son to capture a co-featured Sire Stakes event, showing a potent late turn of foot to beat odds-on favorite Skip Jive from a pocket trip. Andy Miller found racing room in upper stretch with the race's third choice, and Travel Playlist accelerated to a 1:53.4 victory as soon as he was availed a clear lane.   Erv Miller trains Travel Playlist for owner Ronald Michelon.   The final New York Sire Stakes race of the evening went to Joe Larry N Curly ($2.90), a 1:53.1 winner off an aggressive middle move. Jim Morrill, Jr. vacated midfield with a circuit to go, brushing the son of Roll With Joe and Life's Image to a clear lead after a :56 half mile. At the top of the stretch, he edged clear of pocket rival Fine Diamond (Aaron Byron), holding sway from a late-rallying Bottom Deals (Scott Zeron) to prevail by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:53.1.   Trainer Mark Harder co-owns Joe Larry N Curly with Joseph Jannuzzelli and Dawn Colucci.   Mach It a Par makes it three straight   The evening's $12,000 Mares Open Pace saw Mach It a Par ($3.20) employ her patented stretch kick once again, rallying off a second-over trip to beat Shutthefrontdoor (Scott Zeron) in 1:53.1 for her third consecutive victory. Owner Dan Clements drove the 5-year-old Mach Three mare, and Ronnie Morales, III handles the training duties.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (July 18) evening, with first post at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs  

Taking advantage of a pocket trip, Lauxmont Capri ($16.40) scored an upset win in Sunday (July 12) afternoon's $14,000 Open Pace at the harness racing meeting Tioga Downs, kicking clear at will for a 1:53 score.   The 5-year-old Red River Hanover gelding pushed the pace up the pegs, stringing out U Belong To Me (Jim Marohn, Jr.) through a :26.4 first quarter before easing back to the pocket.   The two remained uncontested through the middle half, as first-over challenger Prairie Jaguar (Jim Meittinis) could only get to within three lengths of the lead at any point of the race.   As he faded off the far turn, Jim Taggart, Jr. angled Lauxmont Capri--with clear sailing all the while--out of the pocket, vaulting clear upon cornering.   U Belong To Me was devoid of any response, fading sharply through the stretch.   As Lauxmont Capri drew off in the final sixteenth, Electrofire (Mike Simons) emerged from traffic up the inside, just collaring the tracking Hunchie (Corey Braden) for second, 2-3/4 lengths in arrears of the winner.   Western Trademark (Aaron Byron) rallied from the back of the pack, gaining down the grandstand side to take fourth.   Gary Messenger trains Lauxmont Capri for owners Scott Woogen and Brenda Messenger.   Byron and Marohn score hat tricks   While Taggart earned top honors in the day's featured event, Aaron Byron and Jim Marohn, Jr. were the driving stars on the 10-race card, each recording three victories.   Byron prevailed in partnership with St Lads Lotto ($4.10, 1:52.2), An Officers Duty ($7.20, 1:54.1), and Elite Awards ($12.40, 1:52.3), while Marohn teamed up with Special Joe ($4.10, 1:52.3), Smellthecolornine ($6.70, 1:53.1), and Retail ($26.00, 1:51.4).   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (July 17) evening, with the first race due to begin at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Nichols, N.Y. -- Enjoying a pocket trip behind Bourbon Bay, but hard pressed for racing room on the far turn, Awsome Valley ($7.00) emerged up the pegs in the final 70 yards to take Saturday (July 11) evening's harness racing $14,000 Open Trot at Tioga Downs.   Aaron Byron pressed early up the inside with the 6-year-old Valley Victor gelding, ultimately ceding the lead to track record holder Bourbon Bay (John Cummings, Jr.) through a :27.3 initial quarter. Bourbon Bay would control the terms through an uncontested :58.4 middle half, but Awsome Valley ended up boxed on the far turn as I'm Fabulous (Jim Taggart, Jr.) turned up the pressure after a 1:26.2 three-quarter sectional. As I'm Fabulous closed in, 6-5 favorite Valley of Sin (Jim Meittinis) angled three-wide off cover, and Bourbon Bay was pushed to his limit, Awsome Valley was crying out for racing room with no shortage of late trot. In the final sixteenth, a lane opened up along the pegs for Awsome Valley, and he pushed through to prevail by a half length in 1:55.1. Valley of Sin mustered second honors off his belated surge, while I'm Fabulous just collared Bourbon Bay to take third.   Joe Hundertpfund, Jr. trains Awsome Valley for the Revocable Trust of Barbara Boese.   Mike Simons led all drivers with three wins on the nine-race card, prevailing with his own Vacation Day ($14.40, 1:57.2) along with Yolo Lindy ($5.30, 2:00) and Military Blue ($2.90, 1:55.2). His son Shawn registered a training double on the evening's program.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs with a 10-race Sunday card. Post time is 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, and fans are invited to arrive early to receive a replica Jim Marohn, Jr. colors shirt (while supplies last).   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Taking advantage of a pocket trip and a blistering pace, K J's Caroline ($5.40) took charge late, holding off a bevy of closers in Friday (July 10) evening's $10,000 top-level pace for fillies and mares at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs.   The 5-year-old Roddy's Bags Again mare dueled early with Stormunn (Aaron Byron), ceding the lead on the first turn but not without having a hand in forcing a taxing early pace.    Stormunn worked clear through a 25.4 opening quarter over fast going, tracked intently by K J's Caroline through a :56.4 middle half.   On the far turn, Jim Taggart, Jr. edged K J's Caroline out of the pocket, collaring the pacesetter in mid-stretch before edging clear.   While Smokin N Grinin (Tyler Freese), Maejusmac (Dan Clements), and Forty Three (Jim Meittinis) all showed late pace from midfield or farther back, K J's Caroline held them all at bay, prevailing by a length in 1:52.   Gary Messenger trains K J's Caroline for owner/breeder Scott Woogen.   Taggart would go on to sweep the first four races of the evening's eight-race program, teaming up as well with Twin B Flirt ($3.00, 1:53.2), Purple N Gold ($4.00, 1:53.2), and Bullville Bren ($4.00, 1:57.3).   Live racing returns to Tioga on Saturday (July 11) evening, with a nine-race card due to begin at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Having captured the harness racing driving titles at Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs respectively in 2014, Chris Lems and Jim Marohn, Jr. will both be honored with a unique giveaway this weekend at the upstate New York tracks, as fans in attendance will receive shirts (while supplies last) depicting the colors of Lems and Marohn.   Lems's black and silver colors will be distributed to fans at Vernon Downs on Saturday (July 11) evening, with post time at the Central New York oval slated for 6:45 p.m.   Lems, a 28-year-old South Dakota native, maintains his spot atop the Vernon standings with 59 wins so far at the Miracle Mile.   His closest pursuers, John MacDonald and Jimmy Whittemore, are currently tied for second with 50 wins apiece.   Additionally, Lems leads all Vernon drivers in purse earnings on the season, with $317,060 amassed well before the midpoint of the 90-card campaign.   Marohn's white, teal, and black colors will be available to those in attendance at Tioga Downs for the Sunday (July 12) afternoon card, due to begin at 1:30 p.m.   Though primarily racing at the Meadowlands this year, Marohn has maintained a dominant presence at Tioga on a limited schedule, amassing 29 wins in 92 drives, enough to maintain fifth place in the standings.   His .470 Universal Driver Rating is the highest among all drivers with at least 30 starts at Tioga this season.   Both drivers will be available to sign autographs and visit with fans prior to the races on the days of their respective giveaways.   James Witherite

After proving a gritty winner in both his preliminary events, Jeneral Patton ($2.80) earned a hard-fought 1:51.3 victory in Sunday (July 5) afternoon's harness racing $42,800 final of the Nichols True Value pacing series at Tioga Downs.   Jim Marohn, Jr. brushed to the lead with the 4-year-old Art Major entire after a :27 first quarter, clearing Gokudo Hanover (Tom Jackson) with a circuit to go but then yielding to Let's Foal Around (Mike Simons), who claimed commend on entry to the clubhouse turn after dueling for the lead at race's outset. With Let's Foal Around taking charge through a :54.3 half mile, Jeneral Patton was able to draft along comfortably in the pocket as the mid-race leader faced heavier pressure. With three-eighths to go, Let's Foal Around faced pressure from a first-over Idealbeach Hanover (Brandon Simpson), and the two dueled through a 1:22.1 three-quarter sectional while Marohn angled Jeneral Patton three-wide on the far turn. In upper stretch, Let's Foal Around kicked clear of his dueling rivals, but was chased valiantly by a late-charging Stratocaster (Aaron Byron) up the pegs. Jeneral Patton responded to the late threat, holding sway by half a length. Stratocaster's potent inside kick earned him second honors, and the tiring Let's Foal Around held third.   Linda Toscano trains Jeneral Patton for owner Kenneth Jacobs.   Marohn took the $10,000 Open II Pace earlier on the card, driving Ron Burke trainee Eastend Eddie ($3.30) to a 4-1/2 length win over Electrofire (Simons) and Lauxmont Capri (Jim Taggart, Jr.) by way of a third-over trip. After losing cover on the approach to the far turn, the 7-year-old Million Dollar Cam gelding began to edge away, drawing off for a 1:51.2 score.   The afternoon's co-featured Open I Pace carried a purse of $14,000, and saw Believe This Bob ($3.30) dictate the terms through strong fractions before drawing clear to a 3-1/2 length win over U Belong To Me (Marohn) and Bettorsluckystreak (Taggart). Aaron Byron drove the 7-year-old Beach Romeo gelding for trainer Joe Skowyra.   Byron led all drivers with three wins on the 11-race card.   Live racing returns to Tioga on Friday (July 10) evening, with post time scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

A large crowd turned out at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs on Saturday (July 4) evening for Independence Day festivities, and Bourbon Bay bounced back from a defeat two weeks ago to capture the featured $12,000 Open Trot.   The 4-year-old Sand Vic gelding worked clear of March Awareness (Richard Simard) on the first turn, controlling the terms through a :56.3 initial half while under no pressure.   On the backstretch, lessee/driver John Cummings, Jr. asked Bourbon Bay for a bit more trot, and the response was instant.   Bourbon Bay accelerated through a :28.1 third quarter, drawing clear of his foes off the far turn.   He ultimately amassed 2-1/2 lengths of clearance on his rivals, defeating them in 1:54.2   Grey Ice (Corey Braden) made a late push off the pegs to just take second, while March Awareness tired while chasing, checking in third.   Megan Wilson trains Bourbon Bay, who is now an 18-time winner in 37 career races.   Jim Taggart, Jr. led all drivers with three wins on the nine-race card, earning his second hat trick in as many nights.   He was victorious aboard You the One ($21.80, 1:58), Sweet Kix ($56.00, 1:57.4), and Six Bax ($3.50, 1:55.1).   Live racing returns to Tioga on Sunday (July 5) afternoon, with the first of 11 races slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Nichols, N.Y. -- Trailing her four rivals through a dawdling pace, Mach It a Par ($3.00) made her move at the top of the stretch to pass all four of her harness racing rivals in the final sixteenth of Friday (July 3) evening's $12,000 Mares Open Pace at Tioga Downs.   Owner/driver Dan Clements settled the 5-year-old Mach Three mare into her customary early spot at the rear of the field, seven lengths off pacesetter Dune in Red (Brandon Simpson) through tepid early fractions of :29 and :58.2. Mach It a Par remained at the back of the quintet even as Sherkin Hanover (Corey Braden) commenced a first-over bid on the backstretch and the pocket-sitting Southwind Trini (Jim Meittinis) chased the accelerating Dune in Red through a :27.3 third quarter. In fact, Clements wouldn't move Mach It a Par off the pegs until the top of the stretch, storming home down the grandstand side as Dune in Red had reached her capacity in the final 70 yards. Mach It a Par passed all four of her rivals in deep stretch, just prevailing by a head in 1:54.1. Southwind Trini made a late bid up the pegs to tie Dune in Red for second, and K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart, Jr.) was an out-kicked fourth, beaten by just a long neck.   Renaldo Morales, III trains Mach It a Par, who scored her 12th career win.   Private Interview sweeps Tioga State Bank series   The Friday program at Tioga also saw owner/trainer Robert Gale's Private Interview ($3.10) complete a sweep of the Tioga State Bank starter allowance series, holding clear of his eight rivals for a 1:52.4 triumph in the $10,000 final. Corey Braden wasted no time securing the lead with the 8-year-old Real Artist gelding, setting torrid early sectionals of :26.1, :54.2, and 1:22.2 before drawing clear of his eight rivals on the far turn. While he decelerated a bit late, he maintained a 3-1/4 length winning margin over pocket rival Who Dat Love (Dan Clements). CF Sting Rei (Aaron Byron) emerged from traffic in the final yards, rallying to just miss second, while Remus Blue Chip (Mike Simons) was an even fourth off a tracking trip.   Jim Taggart, Jr. led all drivers with three wins on the evening's nine-race card, teaming up with Robert Lounsbury trainees Powerful Love ($3.40, 1:55.1) and Purple N Gold ($4.90, 1:53.4) as well as Gary Messenger trainee She's So Into Me ($6.50, 1:59.4).   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (July 4) evening, with the nine-race Independence Day card kicking off at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Kirby Band will perform patriotic favorites trackside throughout the evening, and a fireworks and laser spectacular will light up the Southern Tier sky following the evening's races.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- While a power outage forced the abandonment of the last eight races on Sunday (June 28) afternoon's 12-race harness racing program at Tioga Downs, the Purple Haze Stables, LLC's Buen Camino ($3.60, part of entry) was able to capture his $61,300 New York Sire Stakes event in advance of the mid-afternoon electrical issues.   The 3-year-old gelded son of Cash Hall and Baby Bella had no trouble clearing the front, passing Wings of Royalty (Chris Lems) and Credit Creation (David Miller) to achieve the lead through a :27 initial quarter. After driver Jim Morrill, Jr. rated a :30.1 second quarter with the Trond Smedshammer trainee, Buen Camino responded to mild first-over pressure from Credit Creation, edging clear off the far turn and drawing off for a 2-1/2 length win over Wings of Royalty. The Physician (Daniel Dube) swung three-wide off stalling cover at the top of the stretch, rallying to take third.   Morrill won the previous race as well, taking a $12,000 Open Pace with Believe This Bob ($6.00) in 1:51.3.   Earlier in the card, War Hero ($12.80) sustained a middle move, holding off a late charge from Oh No Three O to take the $20,000 Normand Fluet Memorial Invitational Trot. Chris Lems settled the 7-year-old Ken Warkentin just off the pacesetters before brushing to the fore with just under a circuit to go, working clear of Spice It Up Lindy through a :57.3 first half. On the backstretch, War Hero braced for a first-over challenge from Oh No Three O, accelerating to three-quarters in 1:26.1 and ultimately holding sway by a length for a 1:56.1 triumph. Oh No Three O narrowly held second over Spice It Up Lindy, who was hard pressed for racing room through the final three-eighths of the mile.   Jessica Okusko trains War Hero for owner/breeder Howard Gill.   With respect to the abandoned races (5 through 12), all New York Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series events will result in an equal split of purse money and standings points among all entrants in each race. The Nichols True Value pacing series final (race 7) will carry over as already drawn to next Sunday (July 5) afternoon's card, but trainers are advised to contact the racing office with respect to driver nominations.   For punters who were live in the early pick three (ending in race 5), the 2-1-all combination (Believe This Bob in race 3, Buen Camino in race 4, and "all" in the canceled fifth race) returns $3.60 on the 50¢ base wager.   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (July 3) evening, with first post at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

Nichols, N.Y. -- Pushing clear with a circuit to go, Niss Allen, Inc.'s U Belong To Me ($17.20) backed down the second quarter before accelerating clear to a 1:54.3 win in Saturday (June 27) evening's harness racing $10,000 Open II Pace at Tioga Downs.   The 6-year-old Misfit gelding was caught wide early as A Weekend (Mike Simons) worked to clear Flying Cowboy (Dan Clements) through a :28 first quarter over sloppy going. Undeterred by the contested early pace, Fern Paquet, Jr. drove on with U Belong To Me, clearing A Weekend in the first pass through the home straight and subsequently slackening through a :30.3 second quarter. After the breather on the clubhouse turn, U Belong To Me accelerated on the backstretch to evade a first-over bid from T's Electric (Aaron Byron) and dismiss pocket rival A Weekend, who tired on the far turn. Turning up the pace through a :27.4 third quarter, U Belong To Me held clear of T's Electric for a 2-1/4 length victory in 1:54.3. No Monkeys Allowed (John Cummings, Jr.) sustained a belated rally to take third.   Eric Mollor trains U Belong To Me, who recorded his 12th career win.   Mike Simons led all drivers with four wins on the 13-race card, and Dan Clements recorded a driving hat trick. Renaldo Morales, III and Shawn Simons led all trainers with two wins apiece.   Live racing returns to Tioga with a 12-race program on Sunday (June 28) afternoon, featuring New York Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings along with the Normand Fluet Memorial Invitational Trot. Post time is 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

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