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WILKES-BARRE PA - The American Ideal mare Ghosttothepost became the only distaff to be victorious in all three of the preliminaries for the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing fillies and mares, coming home in 56.2 on a cold Monday with swirling winds at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono to triumph in 1:54.3. George Napolitano Jr. got early fractions of 28.3 and 58.1 with the five-time seasonal winner, then turned on the back half jets, with a 28.2 second quarter and then a 28 last quarter into the win. Ghosttothepost, who suffered broken equipment during the contest, needed the speedy finish to keep pocketsitting Cardiff a neck away at the finish for trainer Darren Farrell and owner Peter Paul Venturini. Ashlee Sparkles came to her third Weiss prelim with a pair of series victories, but this week she couldn't catch the Sportswriter filly Girl's Got Rhythm, who clocked splits of 28.2, 57.2, and 1:25.3, then held off Ashlee Sparkles by a length in 1:54. Girl's Got Rhythm was unraced as a freshman, but she has begun her career with three straight victories, including one previous Weiss success, for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Nicholas Devita and owner John Cummins. Charms Little Sis lowered her record 4 1/5 seconds when she won the other Weiss cut in 1:55.2, giving Tyler Buter victories in two of the three series divisions. Charms Lil Sis, a Mach Three mare, also used frontstepping tactics en route to the winners circle, opening a big lead down the backstretch and staying three lengths clear at the wire for trainer Scott Blackler and the Millar Farms. The $30,000 Weiss Championship for this group will be featured next Monday, April 22, with a $15,000 consolation also to be available if enough horses enter. The unofficial pointleaders after this group's preliminary round action, from highest to lowest points, are: 1. Ghosttothepost, 2. Ashlee Sparkles, 3. Cardiff, 4. Girl's Got Rhythm, 5. Final Escape, 6. Charms Lil Sis, 7. Flippin Fun, 8. Linda Lace Hanover, and 9. JK Lockherup; Take Abit Of Life and Barbs Beach would be the two AEs "on the bubble," in that order of preference, and would be the top eligibles for the consolation if it fills. FINISHING LINES - If you didn't get your licks in during races 4, 5, and 6, and your driver's name wasn't Tyler Buter, Anthony Napolitano, or Simon Allard, you did not have a pass into the Pocono winners circle on Monday night: "ANap" and Simon won four races each, Tyler three. Anthony Napolitano combined with trainer Jose Godinez to win the Early Double; Simon Allard hooked up with trainer/brother Rene to sweep the Late Double; and Buter as noted won two Weiss divisions, bringing him to 2998 career sulky successes.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

YONKERS, N.Y. – When driver Tyler Buter guides Parkin In Heaven onto the racetrack for the $58,000 final of the Petticoat Series Monday night (March 25), he will doubtlessly be thinking of Gene Oldford. A longtime friend and client of Buter and his father, Todd, Oldford owned the 4-year-old pacer before his passing February 25, 2019 and the filly continues to race in his name. “I’ve trained for him my whole life and dad actually met him on the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association Board,” Buter said. “That was how dad and Gene got to be friends. Gene’s son Stephen is also really active in the business and we train some horses for him, too. That’s been a good relationship. “We’re hoping Gene is watching her on Monday and hoping he helps us out little bit,” Buter continued. “We need all the help we can get, right?” The Buters bought Parkin In Heaven for Oldford at the 2016 Harrisburg Sale for $25,000. Sired by Rock N Roll Heaven, the filly was out of Park Avenue, a mare owned by Oldford and campaigned by the Buters to earnings of $558,527. “You buy them as a yearling and you teach them everything they know. It’s definitely rewarding when you buy them as a yearling and they turn out to be a good race horse,” Buter said. “And we also raced her mom, Park Avenue, so that’s kind of cool in the sense that we raced her mom and now we have an offspring of hers that’s doing well. “Her mom was a really nice racehorse. They’re build a lot alike and they’re demeanor in the barn and on the racetrack is similar. You can definitely tell,” Buter continued. “She’s really quiet. You literally don’t even know she’s in the barn. She’s sweet, one of those quiet fillies that doesn’t fuss much.” Parkin In Heaven only made two starts as a 2-year-old, but broke her maiden early in her 3-year-old campaign. She’s 3-for-33 in her career with another 16 placings and has earned $57,690. She’s continued to improve as a 4-year-old and has adapted to racing on a half-mile track, which led to her connections taking a shot in the Petticoat Series. “As a 3-year-old, she had a decent year. She was always a little better on the bigger tracks as a 3-year-old. We raced her a lot at Pocono,” Buter said. “And then as a 4-year-old, she just seems to get better every start. She’s learned to race on a half a lot better. She gets around it a lot better than a year ago.” Despite her steady development, Parkin In Heaven’s path to the Petticoat Final wasn’t a sure thing. After a third-place finish in the series’ first leg March 4 and a runner-up effort to Ella Is Awesome the following week, Parkin In Heaven was on the bubble going into the last preliminary leg March 18. However, after drawing into a field with only five rivals, Buter was confident. “I was confident that if I had her somewhere close to the front, she was going to be top three,” he said. “That wasn’t a huge concern. She always finishes really well. As long as you have her close to the front, she’s going to finish well.” Parkin In Heaven rode the pylons in fourth 5 lengths behind Cabowabocuttie in her last outing. Buter guided her second-over behind longshot Playin The Ponies past the three-quarters and tipped three-wide around the final turn. Parkin In Heaven cruised past her cover in the lane to finish third, elevating her series earnings to $9,800. The total put her eighth in the Petticoat standings and earned her a place in the final. Parkin In Heaven drew post two in the final, slated as the eighth race Monday night, and is a 12-1 morning line chance.Odds On Ashely is 3-1 from post four after two wins and a second in the series while racing on the frond end. Catch An Ace will start from post five and is the 5-2 morning line choice off a first-leg win and two runner-up finishes. Robyn Camden and Cabowabocuttie each posted wins in legs two and three of the series, but drew posts six and seven, respectively while Ella Is Awesome, who won in the first two legs of the series, drew the inside. Bye Hanover and Ghosttothepost complete the lineup. Parkin In Heaven’s start in the Petticoat Final will be especially meaningful for Buter. Not only will it be the biggest race of her career to date, it could also be one of her last races for the Buters as Parkin In Heaven is likely to be included in an online dispersal of Oldford’s stable in the near future. “Hopefully she races good for us and everything works out. Hopefully she makes a good racehorse for someone else, too,” Buter said. “Obviously, we drew good in the final, so we’re hoping they shake it up a little bit and we’re right there at the end. “That’s a good spot. I know some of the better ones drew the outside, so it will be interesting,” Buter continued. “She has gate speed, so as a driver, you just kind of play it by ear. You have to go by what your horse is telling you behind the gate and what the other horses are doing. It all changes when they say ‘go’ that’s for sure.” Tuesday night’s card features the $60,200 Sagamore Hill finale while the Matchmaker and Levy Series continue this weekend. Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

WILKES-BARRE, PA - A trio of $15,000 conditioned events were featured on the penultimate card of 2018 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday night. The first of two trots resulted in an easy victory for the Kadabra gelding Northern Major in 1:57.3. Matt Kakaley moved the winner to the front past a 29 quarter and put up midsplits of 59 and 1:28.1 before storming off by 5½ lengths over closing Broadway Bruiser. The race favorite, Northern Major is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. In the other trotting contest, the Triumphant Caviar sophomore gelding QB Kemp rallied from the pocket to record his second straight triumph, here in 1:57.1. Favored Bautista went to the top in a quick 27.4 on a cool night, rated the middle fractions to 57.1 and 1:27.2, but still could not withstand the rush from the two-hole by QB Kemp, driven by Tyler Buter for trainer Rob Harmon and Harmon Racing Stable LLC. The pacing event was for fillies and mares, with Don't Mach Mia surrendering the early lead to Parkin In Heaven in a 28.1, brushing to the lead and posting middle fractions of 57 and 1:26, then holding off the pocketsitter to notch a neck triumph in 1:55.1. George Napolitano Jr. was sulkysitting for trainer/owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen. Earlier, pacer SB Ideal In Art, driver John Kakaley (Matt's father), and trainer Jim Ray became the first horse-driver-trainer combination to post two $50+ victories in 2018 at Pocono when they teamed up for a $148.80 shocker in race two. The trio had clicked at a $58.00 price on July 31. Tempster Hanover is the only other horse to have two $50+ wins at the meet, but he had changed hands between his May 8 and June 26 upsets. Trainer Ray tied for the top at Pocono with his second training bomber: Judy Welty, Jose Godinez, Alex Kavoleff, Jason Robinson, and Ron Burke also have two upset winners, with the last two joining Ray as both posting their double within the last month and having one of their twosome under question pay $100+. The last card of the 2018 season will take place at The Downs on Saturday night, with the yet-undistributed yearend awards to be given. The world's fastest trotter and "home track" Breeders Crown winner, Homicide Hunter, will receive local Trotter of the Year honors, with the horse's trainer, Chris Oakes, also to be on hand to see his son Hunter Oakes get the award for posting the colony's top UTR. Rene Allard will be feted upon winning his fifth training win title in the last six years, while George Napolitano Jr. will sweep the driving dash title and UDR title for the sixth straight year - "George Nap" has thirteen Pocono dash crowns and eleven UDR championships to his credit, both obviously local records. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The annual Grey Ghost and Poltergeist Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Tuesday night (with Halloween Wednesday being a dark day on the schedule) attracted two gray horses, a white horse, and two roans for its 2018 edition. Getting his picture taken after the race was the sophomore roan colt Marc Mellow Man, who shaved over six seconds off his mark by posting a 1:54 victory. Marc Mellow Man, in rein to Tyler Buter, was the only horse not to put in a serious move in the first quarter of the race, which was reached in 26.1. The top was eventually claimed by 2-5 favorite Gypsy Leather, who cut middle fractions of 55.1 and 1:24.2 with White Rolls in behind him and $240,000 yearling purchase White Bliss on the outside pressing. Nearing the far turn Gotta Love Him moved outside and then three-wide off cover to join the main action. All this time the victorious son of Marced Card sat last, and he still was out four lengths nearing midstretch. But the constant battling took its toll on his foes, and Marc Mellow Man had only to swing wide for Buter and pace a strong last 1/16 to win going away by ¾ of a length. It was the 10th victory in the three-year-old's career, but his first at a pari-mutuel track, as owners Duane, Connie, and Roger Roland had raced him on their native Iowa fair circuit, then sent him east to trainer Rob Harmon - who all combined to with Marc Mellow Man at $46.00 as the longest shot on the board. Top purse event during Tuesday's action at The Downs was a $17,500 pace for fillies and mares, and Eclipse Me N was back in comfortable environs, which she celebrated with a 1:51.3 victory. Having been on the road at Hoosier and Batavia recently, and having been beaten here against tougher stock than she faced on this night, the victorious daughter of Real Desire posted her third straight win at this conditioned level, overcoming a first-over journey to win by three lengths. Simon Allard handled the winner of $185,119 for trainer/brother Rene and the ownership of Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

As we roll into the month of October, it is hard to ignore the fact that, by the end of this month, a dozen division champions will be crowned on October 27 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Breeders Crown is fast approaching, but we still have some business to conduct at Pocono in the few weeks between now and then. Namely, some more outstanding overnight racing action, such as what transpired these past four racing nights to produces these Weekly Award winners. PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKSTAR ANGEL A This Australian-bred mare has taken a shine to Pocono even since arriving from overseas this past summer. So far all of her victories in the United States has come at the Pocono oval, including a win in her U.S. debut back in July and an impressive victory on September 4 in a $17,000 condition pace in a career-best 1:51. Leading into Sunday night's featured $21,500 condition pace for mares, Rockstar Angel A had not raced since that September 4 win, a span of almost four weeks. The fact that there was a possible rust factor and the step up in class may have been why Rockstar Angel A went off as a 3-1 third choice on the board with an inside post in a field of seven. That also could have been a byproduct of the quality of the field, which was led by Bettorhaveanother, winner of the finals of the Great Northeast Open mares pacing series final in her previous race at Pocono. It was indeed Betterhaveanother who set the pace, ceding the lead around the clubhouse turn to 3-2 favorite Penpal. Meanwhile Rockstar Angel A sat on the inside about four lengths away on the back stretch. Once driver George Napolitano Jr. called on this Chris Oakes trainee around the last turn, she gobbled up the margin. She overtook Penpal and Betterhaveanother and held off fellow closer Don't Think Twice to win it by a neck. Her winning time was 1:51.2, and Rockstar Angel A now has two straight wins against the very toughest distaffers that Pocono has to offer. Other top pacers this week include: Pembroke Wildcat (Anthony Napolitano, Brittany Robertson), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap victory against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono on Saturday night, winning this one in 1:51.4: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who returned from New York to defeat a condition field on Saturday night in 1:49.3, the fastest time at Pocono this past week and a new career mark; and Well Played Out (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who rolled to his second straight conditional claiming win on Monday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:52.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TYSON This five-year-old gelding has been one of the better performers on the trotting side all meet long at Pocono. Trained by Edwin Gannon Jr., Tyson has earned the bulk of his seven victories this year at Pocono. The kicker is that most of those wins have come when he hasn't been a favorite, with several coming at middle-priced odds. On Sunday night he dropped down into a $17,500 condition group and went off as the 5-2 third choice in a field of seven. Driver Eric Carlson held Tyson back in the middle of the pack early as Dream Baby Dream, the race favorite, headed for the front. Elysium Lindy set right behind the leader on the inside. As they rounded the final turn, Dream Baby Dream went on a speed break. That was a big break for Tyson, who otherwise might have been hopelessly blocked or had too much ground to make up in the stretch if he had been locked into his third-in journey. Instead he wound up right behind Elysium Lindy, who had inherited the lead from the breaking horse. In the stretch, Carlson tipped Tyson to the outside and he won a tight stretch duel over Elysium Lindy. The margin was just a head, but the 1:53.4 winning time by the gelding matched the fastest trotting time this past week at Pocono. We are getting closer to yearend awards time at Pocono, and Tyson is a trotter who definitely deserves consideration. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Two AM (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who dropped down in class to win a condition trot on Saturday night in 1:53.4, matching Tyson for the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Mandela Blue Chip (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who handled a condition field on Monday night in a sharp time of 1:54.1; and Second Sister (Anthony Napolitano, Michael Deters), a mare who snuck in a condition won on Tuesday night in 1:54.3 before rain cancelled the remainder of the card. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SOME GOLD Nobody saw it coming when this condition pacer driven by Vinny Ginsburg upended the field on Saturday night at stunning odds of 114-1, paying off $230.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter has returned to a more regular driving role this year at Pocono and has been on fire of late, tallying three wins on Saturday night and then four more on the Monday program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES The Oakes' barn had a field day on Sunday night, ripping off five victories out of five starters sent to the gate, including a win in the mares pacing feature with Rockstar Angel. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The change in month from September to October made no difference either to the Mach Three mare Intoview or to her driver George Napolitano Jr., as the pair teamed again for a fourth straight victory while scoring in the $14,000 claiming handicap pace Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. This may have been the most impressive of Intoview's four-string of victories, as she equaled her lifetime mark of 1:51.1 in winning, and she did it the hard way: going up first-over against favored pacesetter Tataria, who hung up early splits of 26.4 and 55.4, then was pressed by Intoview to reach the ¾ in 1:22.4 - a 27 second third split, with Intoview going two ticks faster in charging up to duel with the leader. Through the stretch, the outside horse proved the stronger of the pair, winning by 1¼ lengths, with Tataria photoing out pocketsitting LK's Nancy Lee for second. Intoview has now earned $23,815 since joining the father/son team of Gilbert Garcia-Herrera and Gilbert Garcia-Owen, the latter the owner, five races back, and her current lifetime tally is $157,301. As for Napolitano, who won 60 races at Pocono during September (and 30 more at Harrah's Philadelphia), it was business as usual, with "George Nap" reporting home first four times. In addition, Tyler Buter also scored four winners. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs    

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Muscle Diamond launched three-wide down the backstretch and trotted a 27.3 third quarter to clear to the lead before the ¾, going on to win in 1:52.2 to take the $21,500 feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night. Tyler Buter kept the son of Muscle Hill off of hotly-contested fractions, then launched him midbackstretch and had no further problems in the three length victory. Brett Bittle conditions the winner of $734,449 lifetime, and he is also a co-owner along with the Charles Kellers III and IV and also Dan Bittle. In the $17,500 the Crazed gelding Crazshana made the top handily, rated the half to 57, then sprinted home in 55.3 to be clear of his field at the end of the 1:52.3 mile. The Jeff Bamond Jr.-trained horse, who boosted his earnings to $101,450 this season and $437,849 lifetime, is owned by Bamond Racing LLC, and he also was part of a 17-winner weekend (Friday-Saturday-Sunday, including Philly) for driver George Napolitano Jr. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

Melodies Major (Tyler Buter) captured the first of two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman pacing colts and geldings. Both divisions raced for a purse of $56,500. Reigning Deo (Jim Morril Jr.) took the lead hitting the first quarter in :26.2. The favorite, Major Blake (Jason Bartlett) took over before hitting the half in :55.0. He continued to lead hitting the three-quarter mark in 1:23.2. Melodies Major ($11.40) was fifth after three-quarters. Owned by Martin Scharf and trained by Mark Ford. He cam flying down the stretch to win in a lifetime best of 1:51.3. Artie's Ideal moved up to take second with Jack Nation finishing third. Melodies Major is a 2-year-old colt by Art Major-Hilarious. It was the fifth win of his young career. All wins were legs of the NYSS. Buter won two more races on the card. His other wins came with Shake That House ($3.40) and (Rollonhighway ($3.30) Hickfromfrenchlick (Ray Schnittker) easily wins the second division of the NYSS. Hickfromfrenchlick ($3.70) fired right to the front and went gate-to-wire controlling all the fractions (:27.1, :56.0, 1:23.2 1:51.3). Owned by Nolamaura Racing LLC., Thomas Spatorico, and trainer Schnittker, he would hold off a late charge by second place finisher Chatelroll (Scott Zeron) to get a lifetime best mark. Jet Rock (John MacDonald) finished third.   Hickfromfrenchlick is a 2-year-old colt by So Surreal-My Girls A Star. He has now won four out of five races in his career.   Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (September 7) at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com by John Horne, for Vernon Downs

WILKES-BARRE  PA - The recent Australian import Stormont Czar A unleashed a furious rally in the last 100 yards to hit the wire first in the $21,500 pacing feature on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning a three-horse photo in a lifetime best of 1:50.4. The field got away in post position order, with rail horse Lawrencetown Beach setting fractions of 27, 55.4, and 1:23, with Maxdaddy Blue Chip sitting the pocket. Stormont Czar A, from post three and sitting third, did not go first-over, then was able to back out to third-over position late on the final turn. It took half of the stretch for driver Tyler Buter to angle the winner widest into a clear path, but after that the gelded son of Bettor's Delight was just a blur, rallying from fifth when clear to be up just on the money over Pocono Pike utilizer Maxdaddy Blue Chip, with Lawrencetown Beach lasting until the final couple of steps and also just a nose off the winner. Stormont Czar N now has two wins in four U.S. starts for trainer Amber Buter and has already bankrolled 29,300 American dollars for the ownership of Tyler Buter and Oldford Racing LLC. The $20,000 claiming handicap pace went over a second faster than the headliner, as the American Ideal gelding Ideal Kiss was awesome in a six-length victory while taking a new mark of 1:49.3. The winner of four of his last five and trained by Hunter Oakes for Northfork Racing Stable, Ideal Kiss shot out to the lead in 26.2, got a breather to the half in 55.1, increased the tempo to reach the ¾ in 1:22.4, then had his earplugs popped and bid goodbye to the field, streaking home in 26.4. The driver for Ideal Kiss was George Napolitano Jr., who is on as hot a driving streak as can be imagined. This victory was his sixth of the night, giving him 13 at Pocono the last two Saturdays, and 23 over the last five cards at The Downs. In his last four appearances at Harrah's Philly, George has visited Victory Lane 15 times, for 38 successes since a week ago Friday. One of the best cards of the year will take place at The Downs on Sunday night, with the mountain track hosting a $1.5 extravaganza hosting four $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds, their attendant consolations, and three $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series Championships, to be conducted at 1¼ miles, one each for open pacers, open trotters, and pacing mares. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - It's safe to predict that Rodeo Romeo, the leading pointwinner in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) in the open pacers division, will not get as rough a trip as he did in his last start when he begins from the rail in a $30,000 GNOS divisional event Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Rodeo Romeo, who is featured in this month's edition of Hoof Beats as a horse using recently-developed technology to keep him in consistent peak form, had no chance to show that form in the Gerrity Memorial at Saratoga last time, parked three-wide past the quarter on the half-mile track and then two-wide throughout, ample excuse to tire. The Chris Ryder-trained pacer will be handled by George Napolitano Jr., who had his pick of the three morning line favorites and chose Rodeo Romeo, is quoted at 4-1, and could well be both an early and a late factor. The morning line favorite in the GNOS is Split The House, winner of the Franklin Consolation and then photoed out in his last two races, both in the Great Northeast series. Trainer Chris Oakes will have Tyler Buter, in hot driving form, handle Split The House from post three as the early 5-2 choice. The 2-3 horses in the GNOS pointstandings, had quite different results at the post draw. Bettor's Edge drew post two for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and was tabbed at 3-1; the horse just ahead of him in the current rankings, Rockeyed Optimist, drew the outside post eight and was set at 6-1, with Marcus Miller slated for sulky duty. The top pointwinners in GNOS action after the last August 25-26 prelims will be eligible to draw in for their $100,000 GNOS Championship event, to be held over 1 1/4 miles at Pocono on Sunday, September 2, the same night as the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds. From the PHHA/Harrah's & Pocono

CHESTER, PA - Rich And Miserable kept himself in position for a possible sweep of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series for three-year-old trotting colts on Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, running his record to three-for-three in the competition with a 1:54.1 lifetime best effort. Tyler Buter kept the Todd Buter trainee in the two-hole as favored pacesetter Max's Beast and first-over New Plymouth argued through a 27.3 third quarter, then dipped to the inside for the stretch and went by under confident handling. The crowd wasn't so confident about the winner, though, as he was coming off a 26-day layoff, so the double-now-triple winner returned a generous $8.60. The Explosive Matter gelding is owned by the Gene Oldford Farms LLC, Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs; they are the exact same partnership who owned 2016 Stallion Series 2YO champion Two AM - who just happened to win the very next race after Rich And Miserable's victory. Trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer now faces a difficult decision with his Donato Hanover gelding Donatover, who overcame a first-up journey to tally in 1:55. The sophomore, owned by Purple Haze Stables LLC, had a first and a third in the Sire Stakes, one level up, earlier in the campaign, and for the fourth leg at The Meadows Smedshammer will have to decide which level to commit to - and whether he'll have enough points to make the series' respective Championships. Im Your Captain, after a third and fifth in Sire Stakes racing, enjoyed the drop to the Stallion Series, taking a new mark of 1:54 in a wire-to-wire victory. The win by the Muscle Hill colt, owned by the Andy Miller Stable Inc. and Black Horse Racing, came in the middle of a "natural hat trick" for driver Andy Miller, and was the start of a consecutive double for trainer/wife Julie. ("Team Orange Crush" also had two seconds in the other Stallion Series legs.) The Muscle Hill gelding Spartan now has won three in a row and five of his last six after powering strongly the last 3/8 for driver Tim Tetrick to tie his personal best of 1:55.1. A Stallion Series leg winner earlier, Spartan and his victory may have cheered the day of trainer Anette Lorentzon, co-owner with Fayette AB and ACL Stuteri AB, whose family patriarch John Erik Magnusson recently passed away. Tomorrow the three-year-old trotting colts will be on display at Philly in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes - races whose impact includes both the horse who could make the Sire Stakes Championship and, more immediately, contemplation of entering The Hambletonian on August 4. Beal Championship winner Crystal Fashion is among the three fields of seven in the Friday feature. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Melodies Major has been nothing but spectacular thus far in his brief career and he continued to sparkle on Wednesday night (July 18) at Buffalo Raceway by toppling the 2-year-old pacing colt record with a 1:54.2 victory over Jack Nation in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for the freshman pacers.   Cruising to an easy 3-3/4 length win in his $53,500 division, Melodies Major ($2.10) crushed the old mark of 1:55.4 set in 2013 by He's Watching.   In the other NYSS leg, Bicorne Hanover went gate-to-wire in 1:56.3 and held off Jojo's Place by three-quarters of a length.   But is was Melodies Major (Art Major-Hilarious) who stole the show. Driver Tyler Buter said after the race, "I drove him with two fingers. He's such a pleasure to drive. When I asked him to go, he just went faster."   Getting splits of :28.2, :57.1 and 1:26.0, Melodies Major never was asked for more in the lane as Buter tucked away the whip and enjoyed the view of the Buffalo Raceway home stretch. Despite being in cruise control, he still put up a :28.2 last panel. Jack Nation (Jim Morrill Jr.) took second while Covered Bridge (Mike Simons) nailed the show position.   Melodies Major is a perfect 3-for-3 in his brief career and has two track records now with the first coming at Monticello on July 4 with a 1:54.3 clocking. Owned by Martin Scharf and trained by Mark Ford, Melodies Major has put $80,000 in the bank already in 2018.   Bicorne Hanover (Kevin Cummings) took advantage of the inside draw and wired the field in a solid 1:56.3.   Leaving from the rail, Bicorne Hanover established fractions of :28.3, :58.2 and 1:28.0. Jojo's Place (Jason Bartlett) made a valiant charge at the end but came up three quarters of a length short at the line. Bean (Scott Coulter) took third place.   Co-owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi, James Martin and William Switala, Bicorne Hanover (Art Major-Boldnbrash Hanover) is trained by Ron Burke. It was the first victory in three starts this season for Bicorne Hanover, now a winner of $44,110 in 2018.   Murrow Boy (Drew Monti) was the fastest in the $15,000 Excelsior A Series races with a 1:55.4 time, returning a healthy $17.00 to his backers. Mark Witha K ($6.20) took the other leg with a 1:59.0 victory for Morrill Jr.   Morrill Jr., who completed the evening with a driving triple, captured the $6,400 Excelsior B event with a 1:58.4 win aboard Baby Maker Hanover ($5.10)   Cummings had a double in the bike while trainer Russell Bratt notched a pair of victories.   Racing will continue on Friday night at 5 p.m. with a nine race program scheduled and the 2018 season will come to a close on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. with a 10-race program set.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, simulcast schedule, race replays, results and entries, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Future Life swept from sixth just past the ¾, steadily coming on three- and four-wide through the turn and in the stretch to catch Unbeamlieveable by a half-length while taking the $14,000 claiming handicap distaff pacing feature Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Unbeamlieveable, the 9-5 favorite and winner of four of her last five, was parked well past a hot 26.4 quarter by LK's Nancy Lee, who finally ceded the lead to the chalk, and Unbeamlieveable could get a bit of a rest to the 56.1 half. With Sew Psyched advancing first-over, and Cinder Rita and Future Life right behind her, Unbeamlieveable stepped it up to a 1:24.4 ¾. Early in the stretch it looked as if the pacesetter might've gotten away from her opposition, but Future Life continued her strong rally under Tyler Buter's guidance to take the decision in 1:53.4 while returning a $35.20 mutuel. Andrew Adamczyk trains and owns the victorious daughter of Life Sign, who certainly has been able to find the winners circle in her career - this was her 66th lifetime victory, boosting her earnings to $265.040. Tomorrow two-year-old pacing fillies get the spotlight at Pocono, with four $30,000 divisions of a Pennsylvania All-Stars event for this group. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

CHESTER PA - A two-time divisional champion mare and a driver who is undefeated in his entire racing career dead-heated for the win in a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, and came very close to the divisional world record for a trotting tie. Broadway Donna, tops in her class at two and three, was driven aggressively by Tyler Buter, spotting early then making a move after the 28 quarter to follow Lagerfeld, driven by Josert Fonseca, who had cleared to the lead in front of the stands. Broadway Donna went on to the lead before the half in 56.2, shook off the first-over bid of Fashion Creditor near the 1:25 ¾ pole, then braced for a stretch battle as Fonseca moved Lagerfeld outside for the dash to the wire. Broadway Donna held her ground staunchly even as the margin of advantage was eaten into by Lagerfeld with every step, and on the wire the pair could not be separated in 1:53.2. A check of what materials are available on this phenomenon showed a 2014 trotting dead heat in 1:53 between Crosbys Clam Bake and World Cup - also at Harrah's. Broadway Donna, a daughter of Donato Hanover, is now 19 for 35 in her career, with earnings of $1,297,823 for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms LLC. Josert Foseca, now 3-for-3 lifetime, guided Lagerfeld, a son of Yankee Pride, as he equaled his mark and brought his bankroll to $718,400 for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership of Christina Takter, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Jim Fielding. The $17,000 pacing co-feature saw Last Gunfighter circle wide off of cover on the far turn, then stride away in the lane to record a victory in 1:52 over a track that had been downgraded to "sloppy." Vinnie Ginsburg handled the son of Rocknroll Hanover as he won impressively for trainer Jake Leamon and owners David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio. From the PHHA/Chester's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE PA - Four $15,000 events for the "rising younger set" were the features on a Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Both of the pacing events were restricted to males. In the first, Pembroke Joey proved most photogenic in a three-way picture as he lowered his mark to 1:53. Driver Tyler Buter got the Roll With Joe gelding into the pocket, then sat a two-hole trip behind pacesetting His Excellence. In a long stretch battle, Pembroke Joey used the Pocono Pike and got a nose up very late; the same margin separated second-place His Excellence over David Himself, who gained ground inside the winner and just missed taking it all deep in the Pike. Mark Ford conditions the winner and co-owns him with Bill Varney. The second pacing event's contentiousness was reflected in the fact that the favorite in the eight-horse field was 7-2, and the finish was also close, with three in the picture at the wire. Taking the major portion of the purse was the Western Ideal gelding Winston, equaling his mark of 1:52.1 for driver Tom Jackson, trainer John Butenschoen and Crawford Farms Racing. Jackson worked out a pocket trip with the winner, took the lead in the Pocono Pike midstretch, then withstood a hard-charging Terror Atthe Beach by a nose, with first-over Instructor only a neck off the top two. One of the trotting headliners saw the Federal Flex mare Passthecrownaround go a big mile on the engine after two early moves, ringing up a new mark of 1:55.4. George Napolitano Jr. kept his charge on the bit throughout, and the pair was 1¾ lengths clear on the money for trainer Mike Watson and owner Clifford Grundy. In the second trot, sister-in-law and brother-in-law trainers were 1-2, as the Cantab Hall gelding Haveitalltogether, trained by Julie Miller, caught the Erv Miller pupil Keystone Apache to win going away while tying his lifetime best of 1:55.1. Driver Eric Carlson, who had three wins on the night, kept Haveitalltogether well-placed throughout the mile, and he was strongest to the line for the Pinske Stable, the Andy Miller Stable Inc., Kentuckiana Racing Stable, and Eddie Gran. Top event for the older set was a $14,000 pace for mares, taken by the Always A Virgin mare Itty Bitty, who equaled her lifetime mark of 1:51.1. Driver Simon Allard got the winner of $126,367 away nicely from post eight to tuck third, pulled her out at headstretch, and took the measure of pacesetting Juxta Cowgirl by a neck for trainer Andrew Harris and owners Evan Katz, J. Robert Darrow, and A Harris Racing LLC. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

This past week brought the hottest temperatures of the year to Northeastern Pennsylvania. Needless to say, that also meant that the harness racing was faster than it has been all season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It seemed like each new race brought another career-best mile. In addition, the fastest pacing time of 2018 was matched, while a new fastest trotting time of the meet was laid down as well. Those are some of the accomplishments that were in the running on a competitive week for the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: PA'S CORN SQUEEZIN It isn't often that we get shippers from California at Pocono, so this six-year-old mare was a bit of an anomaly right from the start. Her performance since arriving is the true reason that she stands out. Pa's Corn Squeezin immediately began dominating the distaff claiming pacers upon her arrival, winning her first four races. She picked up wins for three different barns during that streak, with the latest of those victories on May 21 coming in a career-best 1:52. On Monday night, Pa's Corn Squeezin faced a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap group from a #8 post in a field of nine in her first start under the guidance of trainer Jake Huff. She went off as the 7-5 second choice and made the lead around the first turn, but it took some effort to get by race favorite Macho Chick. She then had to deal with a persistent first-over charge from LK's Nancy Lee. All of that meant that the fractions were quite burdensome, certainly faster than any she'd had to deal with in her winning streak. By the home stretch, Pa's Corn Squeezin had shaken both Macho Chick and LK's Nancy Lee but was getting leg-weary. 40-1 long shot Dilly Dali, on the other hand, had stayed back from the early speed and was rallying heartily. Driver George Napolitano Jr. asked Pa's Corn Squeezin for just a little bit more in the final strides, and she held off Dilly Dali by a head in 1:53.1. It was her fifth consecutive win since coming from the West Coast wasn't her fastest, but it just might have been her gutsiest. Other top pacers this week include: Lawrencetown Beach (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in a career-best 1:49, which also matched the fastest time of the 2018 meet at Pocono; Nocturnal Beach (Yannick Gingras, Gareth Dowse), who moved up the condition ladder to win his second straight on Saturday night, doing so in a new career mark of 1:49.1; and Major Trick (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who outpaced a claiming handicap group on Saturday night for his third straight win and did it in a career-best 1:50.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: EVALUATE The racing in the early part of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit has been especially spicy, and Saturday night's three divisions for three-year-old colts and geldings on the trot was no different. In the very first split of the night, the even-money favorite was Captain Morgan, who had won his first two starts of the year, including a Sire Stakes at The Meadows in convincing fashion. Among the horses that Captain Morgan beat in that race at The Meadows was Evaluate, who closed well but came up short in second in what was his first start of the year. On Saturday night, Evaluate left from post position #1 in a seven-horse field as a 7-2 second choice, with the favorite Captain Morgan starting right to his outside in the #2 post. Once again Captain Morgan fired out to the early lead. The difference this time around was that Evaluate was able to stay a bit closer early in the race, so that when he moved first-over for driver Corey Callahan on the back-stretch, he didn't have nearly as far to come to corral the pacesetter. The fractions were ripping throughout the mile as Captain Morgan tried to shake Evaluate, the colt from the Marcus Melander barn. But Evaluate stayed after it despite getting parked around the final turn, and he eventually surged past the favorite late. He ended up winning by 1 ¼ lengths and put up a sizzling winning time of 1:51.4 in the process. That was easily his fastest trotting time of his young career and set the mark for the fastest in the 2018 meet to date at Pocono. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Whats The Word (Corey Callahan, Janice Connor), who won a Sire Stakes race on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53.2 to give him two straight in the Sire Stakes and three in a row overall, with two of those victories coming at Pocono; Fraser Ridge (George Napolitano Jr., Christopher Beaver), who handled a condition trotting group on Saturday night in a career-best 1:52.1; and Rich And Miserable (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who followed up a Stallion Series win at The Meadows with one at Pocono on Sunday night, the latter coming in a career-best 1:55 to match the fastest Stallion Series split of the night. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HALLIE'S COMET In a condition pace on Sunday night, this Comet came rallying through the night sky with Tom Jackson in the bike for the upset win at 19-1, paying off $40.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter has been making the most of limited driving opportunities, including on Sunday night when he led the entire Pocono driving community with three victories. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANETTE LORENTZON Lorentzon sent out two trotters on Sunday night and they both came back with big wins: Spartan in a Stallion Series race for three-year-olds and Perfect Stick in a $17,500 condition. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

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