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Vernon, N.Y. -- An explosive :53.2 final half mile was more than enough for Travel Playlist ($4.40) to take top billing among 16 other 2-year-old harness racing pacing colts and geldings in Monday (September 7) afternoon's New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs.   Travel Playlist was unhurried early in the $55,500 first division, moving off the pegs from fifth at race's midpoint to chase Talk Show (John Campbell) after a :54.2 initial half mile.   The son of Art Major and Village Madonna steadily progressed through the far turn, taking second from a tiring Fine Diamond (Tyler Buter) through a :27.2 third quarter before subsequently mowing down Talk Show in upper stretch.   By way of a :26.4 final quarter, Travel Playlist turned in a decisive 1:49.2 victory, taking three-fifths of a second off the track record for 2-year-old pacing colts formerly held by He's Watching.   Joe Larry N Curly (Jim Morrill, Jr.) rallied late to take second, 3-1/4 lengths in arrears, while Talk Show checked in a beleaguered third.   Marcus Miller drove Travel Playlist for owner Ronald Michelon and trainer Erv Miller.   In the $56,500 second division, another son of Art Major prevailed. Autotune Hanover ($6.80) floated into midfield from a post 9 dispatch, slid second-over on the far turn to track the cover of Red Roll (John Campbell), kicking off stalled cover at head-stretch before pushing clear of a rapidly fading Skip Jive (Wally Hennessey). Autotune Hanover, by Art Major and out of Anderosa Hanover, kicked forward immediately when Tyler Buter moved him off cover, ultimately staving off the third-over Endeavor (Patrick Lachance) to win in 1:51.2.   Trainer Mark Harder co-owns Autotune Hanover with Rick Phillips, Deena Frost, and Peter Venturini.   Live racing at Vernon Downs shifts to a schedule of Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings for the remainder of September and the entirety of October. Post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

It was downstate statebred rookie initiation Thursday night, with the harness racing meeting at Yonkers Raceway hosting the $153,024 New York Sire Stakes Jim Meagher Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. The event, which honored the memory of the Raceway's long-time corporate controller, went in two divisions of $76,512 each. The first event saw odds-on number Autotune Hanover (Tyler Buter, $2.80), fresh from his win in the final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard pace here a dozen nights ago, have no issues whatsoever. Leaving from post position No. 5, he took a brief seats before working past Fine Diamond (George Brennan) right at a :28.2 opening quarter-mile. From there, intervals of :58.2, 1:28 and 1:56.2 gave him a 2¼-length victory of that pocket-sitting foe. Beaches De Vie (Pat Lachance) rallied for third at 101-1, with Carlos Danger (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Cenovis (Scott Zeron) completing the cashers. For Autotune Hanover, an Art Major colt co-owned by (trainer) Mark Harder, Peter Paul Venturini, Deena Frost and Rick Phillips, it was his second win in four career starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $8.30, with the triple returning $203.50. "It was interesting in the first turn," Butter said. "Andy (Miller's) colt (Redneck Rally) looked awfully hot and eventually made a break, so I just took my time." "My horse seems more mature as he goes along, but he didn't have to go nearly as fast as his did (1:54.3) in his last start." Thursday night's second Meagher grouping had Travel Playlist (Miller, $14.20) have to wait his turn to get the lead, then refuse to relinquish. In play early from post No. 7, he gave Red Roll (Jason Bartlett) and 9-10 fave Joe Larry N Curly (Morrill Jr.) first cracks at glory. Travel Playlist made the lead passing the :28.4 opening quarter-mile, then rated a very soft :59.1 intermission. He then closed the sale with a 1:28.3 three-quarters and eight furlongs in 1:56.1. Joe Larry N Curly dove inside but missed a half-length, with Endeavor (Lachance), Red Roll and Roll with Fred (Brian Sears) grabbing the remainder. For third choice Travel Playlist, an Art Major colt owned by Ronald Michelin and trained by Erv Miller, he's now 2-for-2 to begin his career. The exacta paid $56, the triple returned $705 and the superfecta paid $6,168. The Raceway's live season continues Friday and Saturday nights (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 18, 2015 - After a couple of starts failing to grasp the "left foot, right foot" concept, Autotune Hanover (Tyler Buter, $12) picked a good night to have a good night. The $120,000 son of Art Major turned in a solid, maiden-breaking effort Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $107,500 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. It's the Raceway's premier "open" stakes event for first-season pacers. Winning the draw in the field of seven colts and a lone (Artmagic) gelding, "Autotune" stung 7-10 favorite Tailgunner Hanover (Ray Schnittker) a bit. Artmagic (Mark MacDonald), a 57-1 outsider, was also put in play early, resulting in a spiffy, 27-second opening quarter-mile. "Tailgunner," one of two elimination winners a week ago, continued through a rated, :29.4 next subsection (:56.4 half). He took the gang down the backside before Autotune Hanover made his move. It was decisive. Autotune Hanover rolled from third, getting past the non-resisting fave at the 1:26.1 three-quarters. He then opened a length-and-three-quarters turning for home, only to widen from there. His closest pursuers had interesting trips. Do Over Hanover (Jason Bartlett), also an elim winner, was done no favors from the eight-hole and was out the entire mile. Rodeo Rock (Dan Dube), jammed in be the half while a handful to handle, extricated himself and appeared to impede Gleneagles (George Brennan). Autotune Hanover's final margin was four lengths in 1:54.3, second-fastest Sheppard ever (Hail the Taxi's 1:54.1 in 2012). Rodeo Rock edged past "Do Over" for second, then survived an inquiry to stay there. War-N-Munn (Eric Goodell) and Endeavor (Pat Lachance) completed the cashers, while Artmagic, Tailgunner Hanover and Gleneagles rounded out the order. For third choice Autotune Hanover, co-owned by (trainer) Mark Harder, Peter Paul Venturini, Deena Frost and Rick Phillips, it was that first win in three career starts. The exacta paid $71, with the triple returning $387. "Mark (Harder) just told me to drive him with confidence," Buter said. "Last week (in elims), he went a bit sideways, but as soon as he hit the track tonight, he felt completely different. Mark said he changed some things up, and he was much better. "These are 2-year-olds, after all." Saturday's pair of $48,000 Open Handicaps were won by eight-holers... --(Trot), Melady's Monet (Bartlett, $5) in 1:53.3, fastest local mile of the season; --(Pace) Great Vintage (Dube, $10) in 1:51.1. The Raceway's live season continues Monday night (first post at 7:10 PM), featuring the $147,723 New York Sire Stakes Clyde Hirt Pace (2-year-old fillies). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, May 1, 2015 - Jonsie Jones, (Tyler Buter, $5.70), the horse of a different color, finished what she started Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $42,000 harness racing Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. In play at the outset from post position No. 2, "Jonsie" worked around the 7-5 favorite, the pole-sitting Scootin' for Joy (Brian Sears). She then threw down the gauntlet through intervals of :28.4, :57, 1:25.3 and 1:53.3. the final margin was a diminishing neck over a cone-skimming Virgin Mary (Eric Carlson), with "Joy" third. Delightful Dragon (George Brennan) and Sir Jillian Z Tam (Pat Lachance) rounded out the payees. For second choice Jonsie Jones, an 8-year-old gray daughter of Tulane trained by Buter's wife, Amber, for owner Lrl Racing, it was her fifth win in 14 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $33, with the triple returning $82. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), a French-centric Tuesday (1 PM, first round of the Jackpot Next Door Claiming Series), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note Sunday matinees are done until November. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Speaking of Mr. Buter, he and Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Hannah Davis are included in a blue-ribbon panel Saturday for Empire City's annual "Fancy Derby Hat Contest" at the track apron. The contest is to be held trackside as part of the festivities and the $1,100 in cash prizes--$750 (first), $250 (second) and $100 (third)-are awarded at 5 PM (registration from 2-4 PM). Fans are invited to stop by and take a photo with Ms. Davis, and, so as not to hurt his feelings, Mr. Buter as well. Full-card Churchill simulcasting (141st Derby Day first post is 10:30 AM) is, of course, available, with Yonkers' regular Saturday card beginning at the usual 7:10 PM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, April 30, 2015 - Here's a quickie harness racing quiz, and if you get it wrong, please don't continue reading...ever. Multiple choice - Hannah Davis or Tyler Buter - which one graced the cover of the 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and which one has won over 2,300 races and currently sits fifth in the local driver standings? While you may surmise the lovely Ms. Davis and the lovely (?) Mr. Buter have nothing in common, that would be incorrect. The lady and gentleman are helping Yonkers Raceway celebrate the 141st Kentucky Derby this Saturday (May 2nd). The two, ahem, beauties, are joining WVOX Radio personality John Marino and WAG Magazine's Georgette Gouveia as the blue-ribbon panel selecting the winner of Empire City's annual "Fancy Derby Hat Contest". The contest is to be held trackside as part of the festivities and the $1,100 in cash prizes--$750 (first), $250 (second) and $100 (third)-are awarded at 5 PM. Contestants are required to register between 2-4 PM trackside, with all qualified hat contestants receiving a $10 Free Play coupon which can be redeemed at the promotions booth. In addition, the first 700 Empire Club Members to visit the Gotham Palace promotions booth beginning at 4 PM receive a $2, two-horse exacta box for the Kentucky Derby (limit one per Empire Club member). As for the 141st Derby, Yonkers Raceway again offers complete Churchill Downs wagering, with first Churchill post both Friday and Saturday at 10:30 AM (Yonkers' mutuel windows open each day at 10 AM). The entire Saturday card can be advance wagered all day Friday. Post time for the Derby is scheduled for 6:34 PM, with Yonkers' Saturday card going at the usual 7:10 PM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, April 28, 2015--Tyler Buter, one of Yonkers Raceway's leading harness racing drivers, becomes a judge Saturday afternoon for Yonkers Raceway's "Kentucky Derby Fancy Hat Contest." Buter is to be joined in the trackside apron reviewing stand by popular WVOX-AM Radio "Good Morning Westchester" host John Marino, and Georgette Gouveia, writer and editor for The WAG Magazine. The first Saturday in May brings Yonkers Raceway's own tradition, with a grand prize of $500 in cash, along with bragging rights. Second prize $250 in cash, and third prize is $100 cash. Contestants are required to register between 2-4 PM trackside, with winners announced at 5 PM. All qualified hat contestants receive a $10 Free Play coupon which can be redeemed at the promotions booth. In addition, the first 700 Empire Club Members to visit the Gotham Palace promotions booth beginning at 4 PM receive a $2, two-horse exacta box for the Kentucky Derby (limit one per Empire Club member). As for the 141st Derby, Yonkers Raceway again offers complete Churchill Downs wagering, with first Churchill post both Friday and Saturday at 10:30 AM. The entire Saturday card can be advance wagered all day Friday. Post time for the Derby is scheduled for 6:34 PM, with Yonkers' Saturday card going at the usual 7:10 PM. John Cirillo, Cirillo World, 914-260-7436, johnnycigarpr@aol.com, Taryn Duffy, Empire City Casino, 914-457-2431, tduffy@empirecitycasino.com, Christina Barry, Empire City Casino, 914-457-2442, cbarry@empirecitycasino.com)

YONKERS, NY, Friday, April 24, 2015-Pole-assigned Dune in Red (Tyler Buter, $16.80) held off the cavalry Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing featured $31,000 Filly and Mare Preferred Handicap Pace After seeing Fanticipation (Mark MacDonald) grab the first glory, Dune in Red edged from the pocket. The one made the lead just at a :27.3 opening quarter-mile, then rated a :57.3 intermission. Sweetnsinful (Jason Bartlett) then moved from fourth as the 3-2 favorite, prompting the pace through a brisk :27.4 third quarter (1:25.2). Delightful Dragon (Brian Sears) tried to match strides with Sweetnsinful, but found herself gapping down the backside. It was Dune in Red widening to 2¼ lengths in and out of the final turn. She would need just about all that margin in a very slow (:29.2) final quarter, before lasting by a neck in 1:54.4. RD IOU and Fanticipation wound up in a dead-heat for second, with a late-arriving Delightful Dragon and Sweetninsful rounded out the payees. The first five finishers were separated by a length-and-a-quarter. For fifth choice Dune in Red, a 5-year-old daughter of Duneside Perch owned by Hero Stables and trained by Chris Marino, it was her first win four seasonal starts. The exactas paid $30.40 (with RD IOU second) and $160 (with Fanticipation second), with the triples returning $287.50 (RD IOU second) and $448 (Fancipation second). The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM), with the sport's two richest races of the season to date-finals of the Blue Chip Matchmaker (purse $261,000) and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (purse $529,000)-highlighting a $1.2 million purse card. GEORGE MORTON LEVY MEM. FINAL - SAT'S 8TH RACE HN/PP HORSE DRIVER 1/7 MACH IT SO Tim Tetrick 1A/8 P H SUPERCAM Jason Bartlett 2/1 DOMETHATAGAIN Dan Dube 3/2 LUCAN HANOVER Dave Miller 4/3 WINDSONG JACK Eric Carlson 5/4 BEACH MEMORIES Yannick Gingras 6/5 TAKE IT BACK TERRY George Brennan 7/6 POLAK A Brian Sears BLUE CHIP MATCHMAKER FINAL - SAT'S 6TH RACE HN/PP HORSE DRIVER 1/1 VENUS DELIGHT Jason Bartlett 1A/7 KRISPY APPLE Tim Tetrick 2/2 YAGONNAKISSMEORNOT Brian Sears 2A/4 CAROLSIDEAL Dan Dube 3/3 FANCY DESIRE Yannick Gingras 4/5 MONKEY ON MY WHEEL Dave Miller 5/6 STRINGS Eric Carlson 6/8 CAMILLE George Brennan The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM), with the two richest races of the season to date, finals of the Blue Chip Matchmaker (purse $261,000) and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (purse $529,000). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM, $66,500 final of YR/SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note Sunday matinees are done until November. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

Freehold, NJ --- Billmar Scooter never won a major stakes, but owner Gene Oldford would take a stable filled with horses like her. And who knows, if all goes well she might produce one of them herself. Oldford decided earlier this year that Billmar Scooter would be retired after reaching $800,000 in career earnings. On Wednesday, the 10-year-old mare surpassed that number – and did it in style – winning a conditioned race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Her next assignment will be motherhood. Oldford, who shares ownership of Billmar Scooter with driver Tyler Buter, plans to breed the mare to American Ideal. “We’re really going to miss her,” Oldford said. “She’s been so good to us, but it’s probably time to breed her. We had a breeding coming to American Ideal and we thought this would be a good time to use it. I told Tyler that all we have to do now is find her replacement. She just kept plugging along every year.” Billmar Scooter, a daughter of stallion Keystone Raider out of the mare Its Scooter Time, was bred by Bill Roberts of Michigan and raced by Bill and Marie Roberts during the early part of her career. Oldford bought the horse on the recommendation of trainer Al Sisco following Bill Roberts’ death and raced the horse for more than seven years. Since 2011, Amber Buter handled the training. The horse raced at 28 tracks during her career, from the Michigan fairs to the East Coast and Canada. She enjoyed one of her best seasons in 2012, when she was named Pocono Downs’ Pacer of the Year thanks to capturing nine of 12 starts at the track. In addition to high-level wins at Pocono and Yonkers throughout her career, she won a preliminary division of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers in 2012. Lifetime, Billmar Scooter won 45 of 240 races and hit the board in 56 percent of her starts. She finished her career with $804,218 in purses, making her the richest daughter of Keystone Raider. “Her consistency was what I most admired about her,” Oldford said. “She really never got lame or sick or sore. We gave her a little time off in the wintertime, just enough to freshen her up, and she was good. “She was pretty much always in the money,” he added. “I never complained when she was second. I’ve been in the business long enough, and told people time and time again, that I’m always happy with seconds. If I could get seconds every time I’d be thrilled.” One of Billmar Scooter’s memorable second-place finishes came to Park Avenue, another daughter of Keystone Raider, in the $48,383 Michigan Pari-Mutuel Final for 4-year-old female pacers at Sports Creek Raceway in 2009. Oldford also was among the owners of Park Avenue. “What a night that was, to have them come in 1-2,” said Oldford, who is enshrined in the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association Hall of Fame. “Usually you’re just happy to get a check let alone be 1-2. “I’ve always liked Keystone Raiders. Overall they’ve been good.” Of course, while Oldford is happy with second-place finishes as a rule, he was delighted Billmar Scooter capped her career with a win. “That was perfect,” said Oldford, an 82-year-old native of Detroit who now lives in St. Clair, Michigan. “The only thing that would have made it better is if I would have been there.” Tyler Buter was thankful to have the best seat in the house for Billmar Scooter’s final victory – the driver’s seat. “It was fitting she went out in style,” Buter said. “She’s just an absolute sweetheart and she loved to race. She’s like one of those employees who would never miss a day of work. She wanted to race every day. She loved her job.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, March 8, 2015 - The clocks were moved up an hour Sunday morning, but that minor inconvenience didn't throw off harness racing driver  Tyler Buter's timing. Buter won four races during Yonkers Raceway's French-centric Sunday matinee (insert whatever version of "Buter-ful" you wish). Buter handily swept both halves of the $10 early daily double, with Art of Illusion ($3.40) in the $19,000 pacing opener (1:54) and the mare Backstreet Hanover ($7.40) in the $33,000 Preferred Trot. The lass won by eight lengths, while negotiating the mile-and-one-quarter in 2:27.1. His third victory of the day was with Tweet Me ($8.80) in the $22,000, fourth-race trot (added-distance 2:28.1) before One More Kid ($18.80) was a pocket winner in the $18,000, sixth-race trot (added-distance 2:28.1). The quartet gave Buter 35 local wins this season, good for sixth in the Westchester standings. Sunday's seven France-hubbed exported races attracted just one million Euros in wagering (just under 1.1 million US dollars). The Raceway's live season continues Monday (7:10 PM) and a "French" Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). A friendly reminder there's also live racing next Sunday, March 15 (post time 1:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (all provided Mother Nature cooperates). Frank Drucker

The first of the Dash For The "C" Notes mini-series this week at The Meadowlands got underway on Thursday night with the filly and mare pacers. It was contested in four divisions requiring a horse finish first or second to guarantee a spot in the $25,000 harness racing Final next week. The word of the night was upset. The first division saw a mild upset as SGT Molly Pitcher (9/2), who led early in the mile, yielded to pressure and re-rallied to score the win in a lifetime best 1:51.2 for driver Vincent Ginsburg. The winner was trained and owned by Robert Ginsburg Jr. Next up was another upset as Antigua Hanover overcame post 10 to score a sharp first over victory at 8-1. Forced to press the pace uncovered after leaving smartly from the outside post, Antigua Hanover just kept on coming wearing down favored Best Boss to win in 1:52.1. Antigua Hanover was driven to victory by Andy Miller for Amber Buter and owners Oldford Farms LLC and Tyler Buter. The third division was captured by 11-1 Weekend Getaway and Yannick Gingras. Entering the contest off a seven week layoff, Weekend Getaway went first over, wearing down Marty Party on the far turn and then holding that mare at bay through the stretch to win in 1:51.2, easily a lifetime mark. Weekend Getaway is trained by Phil Fluet who co-owns the mare with Keith Franklin. The final division also featured an upset winner as Deliciouslynaughty worked out a perfect second over trip to score the victory at 12-1. The race became wide open when 3/5 favorite, Bring Them Home, broke on the first turn. Deliciouslynaughty tracked cover and chased down Rhapsody Rose who did the work on the lead to score in 1:52.4 for John Campbell. The winner was trained by Mark Ford who also owns the mare. The $.20 cent Jackpot Super Hi-5 in both races went unclaimed. The fifth race carryover stands at $1,797.86 while the last race carryover has grown to $71,788.83. Post Time for the Friday program is 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

Choosing the horses of the year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs used to be a much simpler job. When the racing wasn't as competitive as it is now, there were usually only a few candidates who would rise above the rest by winning in the same classes week after week, making the choices for the top honors relativeLY easy. Not anymore. Since Pocono is a destination for the top horses and horsemen in the country, it is extremely difficult for any one horse to dominate a single division. As a result, there are dozens of horses who can make legitimate cases at different times in the year that they are the best of the best at MSPD. I had a little input into these choices, but most of the research and hard work behind these choices was done by my esteemed colleagues Terri Phalen and Jennifer Starr. It wasn't easy, but the three winners, in my opinion, are extremely deserving. So, without further ado, here is a look at the 2014 Pocono Horses of the Year. PACER OF THE YEAR: DANCIN YANKEE When this six-year-old stallion arrived at Pocono in May, he had already distinguished himself with a big winning streak at Dover and a respectable performance in the Levy series at Yonkers. Trained by Josh Green, he made his presence felt immediately at MSPD with back-to-back wins, including a dominant performance in the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational. When he returned at the end of June, he was working for the Amber Buter barn. What an auspicious Pocono debut he made for the new connections, winning a $100,000 invitational race with Tyler Buter in the bike in 1:47:2, a winning time which would have broken every record in the book if Sweet Lou hadn't won the Franklin in 1:47 that same night. Dancin Yankee followed that up with three more no-doubt wins in a row in a Preferred company. Only a monster mile by Bigtown Hero in September kept him from sheer perfection at Pocono for the year, as he finished third to finish with six wins in seven against the very best on the grounds. His success at Pocono was just one part of a brilliant season overall for Dancin Yankee, but it was good enough to capature perhaps the most glamorous year-end award. TROTTER OF THE YEAR: WIND OF THE NORTH Wind Of The North, a four-year-old gelding trained by Clifton Green, didn't waste any time at Pocono in 2014. He picked up a condition win in the season's first week on his way to wins in four of his five races of the season as he moved up the condition ladder in the spring. That was just his warm-up act, however. On June 28, with David Miller in the bike, he burned his way to a victory in 1:51, setting a new world record for his age group and gender on a 5/8-mile oval in the process. One thing that Wind Of The North had failed to accomplish in the first half of the season was a win against the Preferred trotters. That all changed when he handled that very group for a victory on September 27. His final tally: ten starts at Pocono in 2014, six wins, two seconds, and a third. Ladies and gentlemen, that's a Trotter of the Year resume for sure. CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: B J'S RAMEAU Do you want to know what was impressive about B J's Rameau's season at Pocono? Everything, that's what. The sheer numbers of it are good enough on their own to warrant Claimer of the Year consideration. In 28 races at Pocono this season, the 5-year-old gelding hit the board 17 times and won 11, including a career-best 1:49:1 mile. Then consider that all of those victories were against the top rung of the claiming ladder at Pocono. Consider that, as a hot claiming commodity, he won his 11 races for eight different trainers. And finally consider that many of those races were claiming handicaps and BJ's Rameau, because of his high sale price, was often saddled with the outside post, making his record even more impressive. We've had a lot of outstanding claimers this year, but they were all toiling in the wake of this gelding. Next week in this space we'll be wrapping up the 2014 season for good as we approach closing night on November 22. We'll be taking a look back at some of the best moments of the year and we'll also tell you who won the honors among drivers and trainers in terms of wins and percentage. It's hard to believe it's almost over, but the three horses we've spotlighted here have given us a whole lot to remember come the offseason. 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      

DAYTON, OH. - Ohio Sires Stakes championships for older horses were decided in decidedly different fashions Saturday night at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. The $50,000 trotting split was won by Final Breath in the most thrilling race to date at harness racing's newest venue. Dancin Yankee, on the other hand, enjoyed a virtual walk in the park in the $50,000 pacing division. The championship races for older state-bred horses were the first contested in many years as the VLT-infused racing renaissance in Ohio continues to gain momentum. Final Breath, Ohio's 2013 Ohio Horse of the Year, turned the tables on last week's elimination winner Count Me In by withstanding a lengthy photo finish which proved he had in fact held off his main adversary by about an inch. Driver-trainer Hugh (Sandy) Beatty made a bold second quarter brush to the front with favored Count Me In (Mike Wilder), who had set the track record of 1:55.1 last week, opting for the pocket ride. The result was a thrilling stretch duel between the two heavyweight trotters who reached the wire in tandem in 1:54.4, the new track standard. It was the 20th career win for Final Breath, sent off at odds of 5-2 as the only four-year-old in the talented field, and increased his earnings to $322,578 for owner Duane Lowe. Rompaway Beau (Tyler Buter) was best of the rest to finish third. Dancin Yankee had a much easier task as the prohibitive favorite made it look easy capturing the pacing race in 1:52.1 over the 'good' track that horsemen lauded despite the fact the Dayton area experienced prolonged showers all afternoon. Driver Tyler Buter placed the millionaire pacer on the front end throughout and drew off by over five lengths in the stretch. With the impressive win Dancin Yankee's earnings soared to $509,140 this season for owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo. Outdoor Fever (Kayne Kauffman) was a game second place finisher, just as he was in his elimination heat, with Grandkids Attack (Jason Brewer) getting the show dough. Hollywood Dayton Raceway will host its first-ever Grand Circuit races on Friday night, October 24 when the inaugural $150,000 (est.) Dayton Trotting Derby and $110,000 (est.) Dayton Pacing Derby are presented. Creatine, presently the hottest trotter in North America, is expected to headline the Trotting Derby; while Foiled Again, the richest harness horse of all-time, was the first to name in to the Pacing Derby. Trainers are reminded that the entry box for the gala Friday night card closes on Monday (October 20) at 2:00 p.m. The Dayton race office accepts phone entries from noon to 2:00 p.m. at 937-235-7859, or welcomes entries through the USTA's online platform From the Dayton Raceway press box

In the three nights of racing that took place at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs the past week, we witnessed some outstanding performances by experienced veterans. Yet the two victories that stood out among such a distinguished crowd were scored by a pair of three-year-old fillies. We'll take a look at each of those precocious performers as well as the best of the rest in this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC CARPET This filly was unraced as a 2-year-old, which meant she started her racing career this year. She began that career on some small tracks in Canada and started to really find her stride with a romping win on the 5/8-mile oval at Rideau Carlton in August. That's when she shipped into the U.S. and joined the barn of trainer Ron Burke. She immediately paid dividends with a comfortable win at Harrah's at Philadelphia by another big margin. In her first appearance at Pocono on September 30, Classic Carpet faced off against a non-winners of four condition group and dominated as an odds-on favorite in 1:51, a new career-mark. With a three-race winning streak in tow, it was no surprise that she went off against that same condition group on Tuesday night as a 4-5 favorite despite being up against a solid field of young distaff pacers. With Matt Kakaley doing the driving, Classic Carpet once again made her move to the lead on the front stretch at about the 3/8-mile marker of the race. From that point, nobody posed even a modest threat to her dominance in the race. She coasted to the line 3 ¾ lengths in front of her closest foe in a sharp 1:51:4. She may have started a bit later than most, but this filly is making up for lost time in a big way. Other top pacers this week include: Wake Up Peter (Tyler Buter, Larry Remmen), who powered to a condition win on Saturday night in 1:50, the fastest time of the week at MSPD; Artache Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, James Eaton), who rallied from the pocket on Saturday night for his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; and Cameron Lucky (Jim Morrill Jr., Darren Taneyhill), a mare who picked up her second straight claiming handicap win on Wednesday night, this one in 1:52:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: STRUCK BY LINDY Unlike Classic Carpet, Struck By Lindy did race as a 2-year-old and she turned in a standout season, churning out four wins in just 12 starts and earning over $300,000 in purse. Her prospects for a great sophomore year seemed excellent, but even though she had several in-the-money finishes against good competition, she entered a condition trot on September 27 winless in eleven 2014 races. On that night, she followed outside cover and rallied for the victory to break the losing streak in a time of 1:54:1. Last Saturday night, the filly from the Nifty Norman barn once again tackled a tough condition group of non-winners of $14,000 in the last five starts. Struck By Lindy doesn't like to fire early, so the inside post she had might have worked against her as she was shuffled back in the pack. Driver Andrew McCarthy had no choice but to send her first-over on the back stretch to try to get the lead. Despite having to do all the work herself, the filly still glided on by the leaders. In the stretch, Struck by Lindy powered home to hold off closing Fools Revenue by 1 ½ lengths for the victory in 1:55. That makes two straight and provides further evidence that this talented trotter is regaining the form that made her such a big winner as a 2-year-old. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Black Caviar (Simon Allard, Clifton Green), a filly who rallied for her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:57:1; Not Afraid (Andrew McCarthy, Jimmy Takter), who scored a win in the week's featured Preferred trot on Saturday night in 1:52:3, easily the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Home Front (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who followed up his maiden win last week with a condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:57:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLACK CAVIAR As noted in the honorable mention above, this filly's win with Simon Allard in the bike on Tuesday was her second straight, yet she still got away at 28-1 for a $58 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Andrew McCarthy McCarthy has been on quite a roll in the second half of the season at Pocono, with four wins on Saturday and three more on Tuesday exemplifying his hot streak. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: Larry Remmen Remmen had just two starters in on Saturday night but he got his money's worth from them as Wake Up Peter and Word Power each scored impressive condition victories. 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        

YONKERS, NY, Friday, October 3, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Open Handicaps-one for distaff pacers and one for trotters with valid membership cards--were won by a pocketed Coffee Addict (Dan Dube, $20.80) and a cone-skimming Obrigado (Eric Carlson, $10.40). Pole assignee Rock N Loud (Larry Stalbaum) gave her backers an early thrill, leading through a :26.4 opening quarter-mile and a :55.2 intermission. Coffee Addict (Dan Dube) was behind that one from post position No. 2, Simple Saver N (Eric Goodell), who aborted a quarter-move, tried it again, out from third toward to the leader at a 1:23.4 three-quarters. Monkey on My Wheel (Carlson), who had left into a four-hole, chased that one. Rock N Loud was about to wear out her welcome early in the lane, as the other lasses crowded around her. Set Me Up (George Brennan) set it up from third-over, but it was (Coffee) ground-saving "Addict" to get the decision in 1:53.1. The latter whipped the former by three-quarters of a length. Monkey on My Wheel flattened to third, with last week's victress, Venus Delight (Jason Bartlett) and tepid 5-2 favorite Campanile (Tyler Buter) completing the cashers. For sixth choice Coffee Addict, a 4-year-old daughter of Dragon Again trained by Bruce Saunders for Pennsylvania co-owners James Clarke Sr. and Andrew Altobelli, it was her sixth win in 25 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $319, with the triple returning $2,023. The week's marquee trot Fort Valley AS (Bartlett) loop a couple into the first turn, then give it up to Home Turf (Brennan). That invader, set away as the 6-5 fave, made the lead right at a 28-second first sub-station. It was a :57.4 half before Somebody AS (Dube) was in a hurry, moving from fourth. He and Home Turf dropped the gloves in and out a 1:26 three-quarters, with Fort Valley AS backing away In The Pocket. The two leaders were in a virtual dead-heat in and out of the final turn before Obrigado-seventh early from post No. 6-made up good ground. He found his way deep in the passing saw and disposed of a stubborn Somebody AS by a half-length in 1:55. Home Turf, Bentley Karan (Goodell) and Fort Valley AS settled for the remainder. For second choice Obrigado, a 4-year-old Boy Band gelding co-owned by (trainer) Paul Kelley, William Weaver III, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45, he's now 8-for-19 this season (29-for-42 lifetime). The exacta paid $55.50, the triple returned $259 and the superfecta paid $1,029. Please note that since no one hit Friday's Pick 5 wager, Saturday's version begins with a carryover of $3,429.04 (50-cent base wager, races 5 through 9). The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway

Both of our major award winners for this week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs come from the claiming ranks. In the past, claimers were often thought were often thought of as being a notch or two below their counterparts in condition races. That has changed at MSPD, where the claiming races often feature winning times comparable or even better than condition races with similar purses. The exploits of our two horses of the week will demonstrate the rise of the claimers as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: MILLIONDOLLARTOUCH Up until a few weeks ago, this eight-year-gelding seemed to have just one big effort in him for the entire year. He picked up just one win in his first 22 races of the year, but it was a monster mile of 1:50:2 on July 26 that seemed to herald bigger things to come. Those bigger things didn't arrive until Milliondollartouch pounded a field of $12,500 claimers on September 17 by 7 ¾ lengths.   Puffed up by the big win, Milliondollartouch, trained by Mark Kesmodel, stepped up his asking price in a $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap on Saturday night. Andrew McCarthy took him to the front at about the 3/8-mile marker of the race and kept the pedal down, leading to intense fractions that seemed likely to sap the gelding's energy as the mile wore on. McCarthy must have had a pretty good inkling of how much his horse had in the tank though, because Milliondollartouch kept digging hard on the front end. Final Curtain tried to chase him down in the stretch, but the gelding held him off for a win by a half-length in 1:50:4. The fact that Milliondollartouch was able to follow up one standout performance with another suggests that the final months of his season might just be filled with consistent excellence instead of sporadic brilliance. Other top pacers this week include: Aslan (Andrew McCarthy, Tony O'Sullivan), who rolled to an easy win in the week's featured Preferred pace on Saturday night in 1:50:1; Scott Rocks (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), whose winning time of 1:49:4 in a condition pace on Saturday night was the fastest at MSPD this week; and Keystone Real Deal (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Carr), who earned his second straight claiming win on Wednesday night and did so in 1:51, matching a career-best time. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: A COOL MILLION Is it a coincidence that both of our big award winners have some variation of the word "million" in their name? Maybe, but what can be said for certain is that both of them certainly looked like they worth every bit their lucrative monikers. A Cool Million started to find her best stride once she arrived at Pocono on August 29 following a claim at Harrah's at Philadelphia for $10,000 that put her in the Gilberto Garcia-Herrera barn. The 6-year-old mare immediately paid dividends with a win in the $10,000 claimers in her first start at Pocono and then followed it up with a win in a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap trot. In both of those races she set new career marks. On Tuesday night she stepped up into a $20,000 claiming group, her connections likely hoping that recent momentum would outweigh the jump in class in terms of her prospects for the race. It turns out they were right. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, A Cool Million was just too tough to catch. She spread out her lead to a no-sweat margin at the line for her third consecutive victory, and once again she did it in a career-best time, which on this night was 1:53:1. She was claimed following the race, so her new barn is going to be getting a mare at the absolute pinnacle of her powers. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: King's Cavalier (Anthony Napolitano, Joe Geiser), who moved up in class to capture his second straight condition trot on Saturday night, this one coming in a career-best time of 1:54:1; DW's NY Yank (George Napolitano Jr., Rob Burke), whose condition win on Saturday night came in 1:52:1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Wind Of The North (Simon Allard, Clifton Green), who rallied to win the $25,000 Fred Yaggi Memorial Trot on Saturday night in 1:52:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CANADIAN OVERALL Even though he had raced just three days previously at Harrington, this trotter with Mike Simons in the bike stunned a condition group on Saturday night at 18-1 for a $38 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter enjoyed an impressive hot streak on Saturday night, ripping off three straight wins on the ultra-competitive card when only one of those winners was favored. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JAMES EATON The Eaton barn was feeling it this past week, ripping off a pair of training wins on Saturday night and then following it up with a training triple on Tuesday. 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    

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 26, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Open Handicaps-one for harness racing distaff pacers and one for trotters of any affiliation--were won by a from-last Venus Delight (Jason Bartlett, $93.50) and a stubborn Traverse Seelster (Tyler Buter, $5.20). Venus Delight, beginning outside of her foes, viewed from the rear as 3-2 choice Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton) made the lead around Scandalous Hanover (Eric Carlson). After a :27.1 opening quarter and seemingly-soft :56.3 intermission, no one moved in front of Royal Cee Cee N (George Brennan), who did so from sixth. That brought up both last week's victress, Campanile (Buter), as well as Venus Delight, while Robin Cruiser found a 1:25.2 three-quarters. "Robin" maintained a short lead into the lane, until the outer flow rolled her over. Royal Cee Cee N went by first, then Campanile, then finally Venus Delight. That one whipped Campanile by a head in 1:53.2, with Royal Cee Cee N, Scandalous Hanover and a tiring Robin Cruiser rounding out the payees. For seventh choice Venus Delight, a 4-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight trained by PJ Fraley for owner Bamond Racing, it was her fifth win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $595, with the triple returning $940. The week's marquee trot saw Traverse Seelster-one of several leavers, he from post position No. 5-settle early before stepping past pole assignee Bingo Queen (Eric Goodell). "Traverse," as the 8-5 favorite, shooed just about everyone away through sub-stations of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:27. The lone "nuisance" was a first-up Obrigado (Bartlett), who chased the leader for all he was worth before missing a length in 1:55.1. Somebody AS (Dan Dube) was third, beaten 3 ½ lengths, with Rossini (Larry Stalbaum) and The Triple Lindy (Carlson) settling for the small change. For Traverse Seelster, a 6-year-old Angus Hall gelding owned by Keith Pippi and trained by Amber Buter, he's now 13-for-25 this season. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $14.80, the triple returned $111 and the superfecta paid $632. Also Friday, Yonkers honored New York State racing inspector Matt Bibbo, who is retiring Saturday night. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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