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WILKES BARRE PA - The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono got its "2020 Meet 2.0" underway on Saturday afternoon after a 103-day delay because of the health restrictions - and harness racing driver Tyler Buter, who won the last local race before the layoff, came back red-hot with five driving victories, including the four upper-class races described here. Prairie Panther was sent right to the lead by Buter in the $17,200 featured pace, forcing tucks before a :26.3 quarter then getting a breather to a :56 half. Our Max Phactor N made the leader pick up the pace with an uncovered challenge, and the two battled to a 1:23.1 three-quarters and all the way through the last quarter, with Prairie Panther staying a neck to the good in the 1:51 mile. The victorious Royal Millennium gelding certainly has the winning habit, as he posted his 37th career triumph in 76 races for trainer Mike Deters, co-owner with Laurie Lee Poulin. Fastest winner on the Saturday afternoon card was the unusually-named Irish-bred Gentlemanjim II IE ("ie" is the internet country code for the Republic of Ireland). The Kikikolt gelding, in only his second U.S. start, stormed the third quarter in 26.1 for Buter to clear to the lead and drew off to a new mile mark of 1:50.4. Gentlemanjim II IE appears to be one from whom more will be heard for trainer Robert Cleary, who leases a share of the horse with owner/lessee John Richardson. A pair of $11,200 events topped the day's trotting action. In the first, the Muscle Massive gelding Two AM raised his lifetime bankroll to $455,285 with a sharp 1:53.3 victory despite the outside post eight for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Todd Buter, and owners Buter Farm Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs. The second diamondgaited event saw driver Buter complete a sweep of the top trots with the Explosive Matter gelding Marion Gondolier, who rallied steadily behind a fast pace and was along late in 1:54.3 for trainer Mike Watson and owner Cliff Grundy. Racing resumes on Sunday night with a first post at 7 p.m. - the only occasion where the Sunday action will start at this time. The Pocono basic schedule for now will consist of Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday racing at 12:30 p.m., and future Sunday cards beginning at 5 p.m. PHHA / Pocono

Tyler Buter drives Prairie Fortune to the $10,000 Open Trot at Tioga Downs on Monday (June 8). He had four harness racing winners in all on the night. It's A Herbie (Verlin Yoder) jumped out to the early lead but jumped off-stride. Dragin The Wagon (Jim Meittinis) then took over and led to the first quarter in :28.1. Prairie Fortune ($4.50), who is owned by Laurie Poulin and trainer Mike Deters, charged up and took the lead with one lap to go. He went to the half in :58.1 and hit three-quarters in 1:27.1. Massive Opulence (Jim Taggart Jr) made a run at him as they went around the final turn. Prairie Fortune found another gear as the reached the stretch and won with ease in 1:56.2. Uncle Hanover (Kyle DiBenedetto) came flying late to finish second. It's A Herbie was third best. Prairie Fortune is an 8-year-old gelding by Arapa Victory. It was his third win this season. He now owns 55 career victories. Buter combined with trainer Rob Harmon for three of his wins. They won with That's My Opinion ($5.20), MV OK Palacio BR ($3.80), and Wise Image ($10.40). Buter's other victory came with the Mike Deters trained An The Thunderolls ($17.80). Tioga Downs set a new handle record for the second straight day. The new record is $431,435. Thank you to everyone who participated. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (June 14) with a post time of 4 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - Tyler Buter guided five winners during the Wednesday morning harness racing qualifying session at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, while Mark MacDonald, just a week into his comeback since his injuries last summer, showed he is back in form with three victories. MacDonald handled the fastest winner of the session, the Mach Three gelding Highrthananeagle A. The six-year-old had not raced since November and was making his U.S. debut, but the Rob Harmon trainee made two moves, including going first-over, to win in 1:55.1 for the ownership of Harmon Racing Stable LLC, Lightning 5 Racing Stable, and Joel Kahan. The Cantab Hall gelding Macmorris Hanover, an earner of $120,000 at three last year in his first season at the races, showed he may be a trotter to reckon with in the higher classes as Buter put him on the lead and won by over five lengths in 1:56.1 in his 2020 bow. Bob Baggitt Jr. conditions the promising horse for the ownership of Ben Mudry, Douglas Millard, Timothy Murray, and Howard Taylor.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE, PA -- The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono opened on Saturday night, the earliest seasonal start in the 55 years of harness racing at the track, but while the temperature hung around the freezing mark, the competition on the oval was hot, mainly in the first preliminary leg of two sections of the track's Game Of Claims Pacing Series. Action for horses entered at various claiming prices, with three preliminaries determining those who will race for the throne as their Game Of Claims divisional champion, provided two divisions of $25,000 base-price horses going for $25,000 each and three cuts of $15,000 base-price horses going for $15,000 (the base price in each grouping goes up slightly with each preliminary) opening night. With $50,000 and $30,000 Championship purses respectively, it's no surprise that a total of eighteen horses were claimed in Saturday's first round action, including four of the five divisional winners, for a total of $350,000. The only Game Of Claims winner on Saturday not changing barns will be the Rock N Roll Heaven gelding This Is My Song, who moved after a blistering half, made the lead easily to the ¾, and defeated his field of $25,000 horses handily in 1:51.2, fastest mile of the opening card for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Dan Maier, and Racing To Win Stable. The other winner at that level was the Captaintreacherous ridgling Trente Deo, who never looked back for the brother team of trainer Rene and driver Simon Allard in 1:53.4, last half :55.4, for Allard Racing Inc. and Earl Hill Jr. Team Allard also won the first division for the $15,000 horses, with the Delmarvalous gelding Machine Team benefiting from a fast pace to score a closing victory in 1:55.4 for A 1 Racing as the only Game Of Claims favorite to win. The other two sectors for $15,000 horses were taken by Darren Taneyhill- trained horses coming off two-month layoffs, and they won by a combined 14¼ lengths for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and owner Eric Prevost - the Cheyenne Rei gelding Cheyenne Reijane coming out of the pocket for a 7½ length win in 1:53.3, and the Make My Day gelding Ancle on the engine to finish 6¾ lengths to the good in 1:54.1. The 11-year-old Western Terror gelding Atta Boy Dan, 2019's Pocono Pacer of the Year while posting a United States-high win total of nineteen seasonal triumphs, readjusted quickly to northeast Pennsylvania, capturing a $14,000 conditioned pace in 1:51.4 for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Peter Pellegrino, and owner Stephen Larkin. Rock Diamonds N did not want to surrender the early lead, so Buter put "Dan" in the pocket, then came again after the leader in the stretch and went by for a half-length triumph, the 73rd win of the pacer's distinguished career while moving his lifetime bankroll to $974,002. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - After 2019 saw him crack the Top 10 in the harness racing standings at the top venue in the sport, driver Tyler Buter no doubt had a resolution to win even more races at the Meadowlands during 2020. He's off to a good start. Buter, who had a career-best $5.6 million in earnings a year ago, scored three times on the Thursday program to get his Winter Meeting at the mile oval off to a good start. The 34-year-old Michigan native snagged his first winner of the night with the Bob Lounsbury-trained Summer Rock in a filly and mare pace for TrackMaster 74.5 or less as the 7-5 favorite in the fourth race in 1:53.4. Buter, who won 47 times at the Big M during 2019, made a huge move on the far turn to open up a big lead in the fifth race with Walks Of Life before holding off the late-charging Sir Richie N by a diminishing neck in 1:53.1 for trainer Besim Odza in a $7,500 claiming pace as the 5-2 second choice. The third and final score for Buter came in the ninth race behind Spilling The Beans, who stopped the clock in 1:54 as the 6-5 public choice for trainer William Adamczyk in another filly and mare pace for TrackMaster 74.5 or less.   A LITTLE MORE: There were only two winning favorites on the card and Buter drove them both. ... Marcus Miller and Austin Siegelman each got 2020 off to a great start with two winners apiece. ... The 50-cent Pick-4 came back $18,065 after a sequence that saw winner's odds of 14-1 (Siegelman), 18-1 (Greg Merton), 6-5 (Buter) and 10-1 (Siegelman). ... The 10th-race 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to yield a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover for Friday's 14th race to $87,287. ... All-source handle for the 10-race card was $1,665,191. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands   

Tyler Buter is putting the finishing touches on a memorable harness racing season and looking forward to taking another step forward in 2020. The 34-year-old Buter has won a career-high $5.56 million in purses and driven in a career-high 34 races worth at least $100,000 this season. He also got the 3,000th win of his career in April. Among Buter's other triumphs this year were the $500,000 Messenger Stakes, the most lucrative victory of his career, with American Mercury and the $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series championship for trotters with Rich And Miserable. He was second in the Matron and third in the Little Brown Jug with American Mercury and second in the Art Rooney Pace with Branquinho. In addition, he drove in the Hambletonian eliminations, Breeders Crown, Kentucky Futurity, Adios, Three Diamonds, and Progress Pace. Buter was named the Driver of the Year in U.S. Trotting Association District 8, which covers most of upstate New York. Entering Thursday, he had won 324 races this year, marking the fourth time he topped 300 in a season, and the first time since 2009. "I'm definitely happy with the way the year went," said Buter, who resides in Middletown, N.Y. "I made the decision early in the year that I was going to drive more and train less. Judging by the numbers, it definitely paid off. "It was a lot of 'firsts' for me this year (on the Grand Circuit). Being in the big races, that's where I want to be. Not everybody wants to travel and follow those horses around, but that's what I like to do. I like driving the 2- and 3-year-olds; I think that's the most fun to me." Buter, though, did enjoy a good bit of fun this season with a 4-year-old, Rich And Miserable, trained by his father Todd. The gelding has won 11 of 21 races this year, highlighted by his head victory over Hannelore Hanover in the Great Northeast final, and earned $277,000. He races Saturday in a conditioned event at The Meadowlands. "He was a fun surprise this year," Buter said. "He was just OK as a 2- and 3-year-old but he matured a lot between 3 and 4 and he had a great year. "Unfortunately, he wasn't staked to anything, but it might have been a blessing in disguise. We'll point him toward a couple bigger races next year. We won't go crazy, but we'll give him a chance to race with the top names." Buter grew up in Manchester, Mich., and got his first win at the Gladwin, Mich., fair before his 17th birthday. After successful stints in both Michigan and Illinois, he relocated to the East Coast in 2010. Despite his many years in the sulky, Buter is still evolving as a driver. "That's the crazy thing, I've been driving horses full time for 15 years almost, and you're always learning," Buter said. "I try to go through every night and drive every horse good. I'm my own worst critic; I'm pretty hard on myself as far as making mistakes. "It's still hard to go a whole night and not make one mistake, and I've been doing it a long time. Being mistake-free is everyone's goal and it's something I strive for, trying to be perfect, if I can." Over the years, Buter has realized the need to put any miscues behind him as quickly as possible. "I used to let it carry over and get upset," Buter said. "You can't let it get to you. Five minutes later, you're going to be driving someone else's horse that put in seven days of hard work to get ready for this race and you've got to give your undivided attention to that horse and not be thinking about the one you just drove." As for 2020, Buter has no specific goals. "I just want to keep getting better," Buter said. "If I can have a little better year next year, that would be great. You never really want to take a step backwards in this business." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The three-year-old harness racing pacing colt Hickfromfrenchlick has been named the Unites States Trotting Association District 8 Horse of the Year. The award was presented to trainer Ray Schnittker at the New York Sire Stakes & USTA District 8 Annual Awards Banquet on Nov. 10. The So Surreal-My Girl's A Star colt has earned $500,136 this year and won 11 of his 15 starts. His sophomore season featured wins on the New York Night of Champions and in the Empire Breeders Classic. Bred by Steve Jones, he has banked $638,677 lifetime for owners Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico. Tyler Buter was also honored at the banquet as USTA District 8 Pari-Mutuel Driver of the Year. Buter is about to cross the career milestone of $40 million in earnings and has solidified himself as a leading driver on the New York circuit as well as the Grand Circuit. As the regular driver of American Mercury this season, Buter won the $500,000 Messenger Stakes and five legs of the NYSS. The pair was also third in the Little Brown Jug. So far in 2019 the driver has recorded $5.27 million in earnings and 313 trips to the winner's circle. George Ducharme took home the USTA District 8 Trainer of the Year award. He had a career-best season with $1.9 million in earnings and 94 training victories. He also had the leading money-winning stable at his home track of Vernon Downs. In addition to earning more than $700,000 in the NYSS and starting three finalists on the Night of Champions, he won four Massachusetts Sire Stakes finals this year. Other honorees at the event were Claude Huckabone Jr., who was named both County Fair Driver and Trainer of the Year; Jason Bartlett as NYSS Driver of the Year for leading the series in earnings; Trond Smedshammer as NYSS Trainer of the Year; and Winbak Farm as NYSS Breeder of the Year. From the New York Sire Stakes

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) District 8 has announced the winners of its 2019 year-end awards. George Ducharme has been named Trainer of the Year; Pari-Mutuel Driver of the Year is Tyler Buter; and Claude Huckabone Jr. is the County Fair Driver of the Year. Ducharme earned $705,226 in the New York Sire Stakes program this year with 113 starts. His stable was led by 3-year-old trotting filly Sensibility, who earned more than $250,000, and 2-year-old trotting colt Berkery J, who took home nearly $150,000. Ducharme was also the leading money earner at his home track, Vernon Downs, with $213,968 in purses. Overall, Ducharme's horses have banked $1,940,793 this season and he sports a .415 UTRS. Buter has $1.5 million in combined NY Sire Stakes and Excelsior earnings this season and 63 wins on the circuit. He drove New York County Fair Champions Certify (Credit Winner-Good Intentions) and Roll with Mimi (Roll With Joe-Dream of Mimi) into the winner's circle. He also steered American Mercury to a win in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes and a third-place finish in the Little Brown Jug. For the year, Buter has guided 306 winners to $5.2 million in earnings. Huckabone Jr. finished atop the New York County Fair earnings chart with $51,514 in 58 starts. He drove 2-year-old colt pacer Flow With Joe (Roll With Joe-Hidden Play) to a County Fair championship, and trained Champion 3-year-old filly pacer Roll With Mimi, whom he drove most of the season. Awards will be given at the joint NYSS and USTA District 8 Banquet at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Sunday, Nov. 10. Horse of the Year will be announced at the event. Also honored that evening will be these USTA Divisional Champions: Mr. Vicktor - 3-Year-Old Trotting Colt Owner: Robert Santagata, Jennifer Lappe, Diamond Pride and Joseph Lee Trainer: Jennifer Lappe Winndevie - 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly Owner: Purple Haze Stables Trainer: Trond Smedshammer Hickfromfrenchlick - 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt Owners: Raymond Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico Trainer: Ray Schnittker Brooklyn Lilacs - 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly Owner: Crawford Farms Racing Trainer: Jennifer Bongiorno Chaptiama - 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt Owners: Purple Haze Stables Trainer: Trond Smedshammer C And T's Credit - 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly Owner: Peter Barbato and Samuel Bova Trainer: John Stark Jr. Cigars And Port - 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt Owner: Raymond Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing, Theodore Gewertz and Steven Arnold Trainer: Ray Schnittker Racine Bell - 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly Owner: Chris Lawton and Dale Lawton Trainer: David Dewhurst "On behalf of our board of directors, I'd like to congratulate this year's winners," said USTA District 8 Chairman Michael Kane. "These horses and horsemen are shining examples of the level of quality coming out of this area and each has represented this district well, both at home and on the Grand Circuit. We are proud to have this opportunity each year to honor their contributions to our sport." The award winners were selected in balloting of the New York State race secretaries. Horses were selected from those with ownership in District 8. Tickets to the awards banquet are $35.00 and include reception and dinner. Special room rates are available in which banquet guests can receive 15% off a reservation at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Click here for booking information. A USTA District 8 meeting will precede the banquet and is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the hotel. Guests are asked to please RSVP no later than Monday, Nov. 4. RSVPs can be given to Sarah Quinn at squinn@caphill.com or 518-694-5002. Payment should be made out and sent to: Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Fund c/o CHMS 230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 101 Albany, NY 12203 From the New York Sire Stakes

Batavia, NY --- After only one year of competing full time on the New York Sire Stake (NYSS) harness racing circuit, Tyler Buter claimed his first driving title in the series as its top reinsman for both wins and earnings. In a category long dominated by Hall of Famer Wally Hennessy and Jim Morrill Jr., Buter hopes to become as familiar a name driving champion New York-bred Standardbreds as theirs. Buter will be a busy man on Saturday (Sept. 14) when he returns to Batavia Downs for the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions. A native of Michigan, Tyler Buter has been one of the most consistent and sought after drivers in the northeast over the past 10 years. The 34-year-old Manchester native started driving at age 17 and got his first win at the Gladwin Fair in his home state in 2002 with a horse named I Luv My Pasture. Earlier this year he hit his career milestone 3,000th win with Daddy Let Me Drive at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and in between he has spent time perfecting his craft at tracks in Michigan and Chicago before moving to Monticello, Yonkers and the Meadowlands while earning over $38 million in purses. Currently calling the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono home, Buter still does often compete at the other venues. But an event that occurred this past February that affected both his personal and professional life prompted him to make a career-changing decision. "Earlier this year my longtime owner and friend Gene Oldford passed away and a lot of things changed. After discussing it with my family I decided to get away from running a stable and focus on driving full time," said Buter. "And as it turned out, many of the trainers I have been driving for had horses in the NYSS and I made the decision to commit to making all the dates and it's worked out well for me." Buter had made some sporadic starts in the series before this year but 2019 was the first time he committed his whole summer to it. "There are some excellent horses coming out of New York; the breeding is great and the competition is second to none. I've enjoyed this year and look forward to driving here again next year," said Buter. And based on his results in the bike, the connections of the New York-bred horses he drives are looking forward to it as well. Buter posted 25 wins out of 87 starts and had a stellar .390 Universal Driver Rating (UDR) as a result of hitting the board over 50% of the time in the NYSS and that gave him just over $1 million in purses for those starts. When asked about winning the driving title, Buter was quick to praise his competition and not focus on himself. "Jason (Bartlett, 2017 leading driver) and Jimmy (Morrill, 2018 leading driver) and myself have put in a lot of miles this year and it was a great competition right to the end. All the guys who compete here are tough and make you earn every dollar and that makes you better as a driver," said Buter. Although he missed a lot of starts with overnight horses during the summer, Buter realized something he truly enjoys in his new role. "I really like racing 2- and 3-year-olds. I like helping them to develop and seeing when the light bulb comes on in their head as they mature. That's when they finally get it and move forward. And it's very gratifying to know you had a part in that growth." The $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions that are comprised of eight $225,000 races will be held at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 14) with a first race post time of 6 p.m. The draw for that card is on Wednesday (Sept. 11) at noon and will be streamed live on the NYSS website as well as both the NYSS and Batavia Downs Facebook pages. Batavia native and New York State Assemblyman Stephen M. Hawley will serve as the honorary drawmaster. There will be two $7,500 guaranteed pools in both the early and late Pick-4 wagers that night and both will be all-stake Pick-4's (races 3-6 and races 7-10). The pools are part of the United States Trotting Association's (USTA) Strategic Wagering Program and free program pages will be available on the USTA's website and through links on the Batavia Downs Facebook page when they become available. Free full card programs will also be available for download from the Daily Racing Form starting Thursday. There will be a T-shirt giveaway courtesy of the NYSS on Saturday night as well. Fans attending the races live only need to swipe their Player's Club card at guest services starting at 4:30 p.m. to receive a ticket to get their shirt after the seventh race. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, August 29, 2019--Here's one that can't lose...guaranteed or your non-wagering money cheerfully refunded. Yonkers Raceway Thursday night (Aug. 29th) hosts a good, old-fashioned walkover. The 3-year-old pacing gelding It's Rigged (punchline optional) has the honors at about 5:30 PM in a $6,100 New York Sire Stakes Excelsior 'B' event. Tyler Buter, who began the day at 3,209 career wins, is reasonably certain to get another one. It's Rigged, a homebred Riggins gelding, enters with three wins and four seconds in his nine seasonal starts ($13,100). He's owned by Last Hurrah Stable and trained by Eldo Leonelli. Ironically, it's the second consecutive season the Raceway has hosted a walkover. The 3-year-old statebred pacing filly Windsun Magnolia and Jim Marohn Jr. made it look easy last September, disposing of her no rivals in a life-best 1:58. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Trenton, NJ -- David Miller may not be driving one of the more well-known horses in Saturday's (Aug. 3) Hambletonian at The Meadowlands, but he will be driving for one of the more high-profile owners in the race. Miller will be in the sulky behind Reign Of Honor, who has two wins in 21 lifetime races along with four seconds and three thirds. He has won a total of $294,550. This year, Reign Of Honor has one win in the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. He is a son of Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma. While those figures may appear modest when compared to much of the field, the horse will have a pretty famous rooting section at The Meadowlands, as one of his owners is Jennifer Dalton. Fans of Bravo Network will remember Dalton appearing in Pregnant in Heels in 2012 and one year later she was a season-long guest star in The Real Housewives of New Jersey. A friend of Teresa Giudice, one of the show's top stars, Jennifer is also a Sotheby's realtor who appeared on the show while trying to sell a home for Melissa and Joe Gorga, and she counts Lil' Kim as one of her best friends. And when the gate goes up Saturday, Reign Of Honor will have the Housewives on hand to lend vocal support. "All the Housewives crew are going to be there," Dalton said. "The producer wants to do a show with the horses." It's a show that no one would have thought possible just five years ago. Dalton had no interest in horses for most of her life until one day she went to a race at Yonkers, where John Campbell drove her girlfriend's horse. As they were stuck in traffic while leaving, she saw the horse trailers and became obsessed. Rolling down the window she yelled out to a trainer, who happened to be Pat Lachance. He invited her to see the horses and the two became friends. Soon after, she entered the Meadowlands' "Own a Horse" promotion and "won" 10 percent of UF Fast Feelin. Her first race as an owner was Jan. 2, 2016 and she never looked back. In fact, once the contest ended, she claimed the horse. The horse was eventually claimed from Dalton, which broke her heart. "I never owned a claimer again," she said. "I cried." Once Jennifer got involved in Standardbreds, she discovered a different kind of tension than that which occurred amidst the Housewives controversies. "There's drama in both," she said. "But Housewives of New Jersey I got paid. This one, I pay so much money for horses and training, and you just hope you get paid back." Dalton now has a stable of 19 horses at trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman's New Jersey barn. Most of them have something in common -- they honor Jennifer's 5-year-old daughter. "All my horses are named after her," she said. "When you see a 'Reign' somewhere, it comes from us," Dalton's boyfriend Mike Herrera added. Several years ago, Dalton actually brought a horse to Reign's school for show-and-tell. "She had me driving around in a tractor and trailer in Edgewater, N.J., right under the George Washington Bridge," Herrera recalled. Jennifer has completely immersed herself into harness racing. A striking, stylish woman who always looks her best, she surprises folks when they see her cleaning out the stalls. After attending several Hambletonians it became a dream for her to enter a horse in the race. She and Norman staked Reign Of Honor and made the call to enter him. "I'm so happy," said Dalton, who owns the horse with Deo Volente Farms, Tom Pontone, and Kentuckiana Racing Stable. "This horse is so good, he really is. I love this horse." The Hambo is a great morale lifter for Dalton, who suffered a serious stroke at the beginning of last year. She is able to walk and live an everyday life, but is still undergoing speech therapy, and her memory has issues at times. "It was serious, but I'm OK now," she said. Jennifer thinks her horse, who is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Reynolds Memorial and drew the four hole in the second elimination, is pretty OK as well. She and Mike playfully joke about his chances in the Hambo. "You know what, he's a real nice horse, but he's been second to Greenshoe (in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final)," Herrera said. "I don't think we can beat that horse right now. To be honest, I think we're racing for second place." He then directed his conversation to Dalton, saying with a laugh, "You know that; you're a professional, you know that. "A couple of years ago she would have been like 'My horse is the best,' but she realizes the business now, she understands the numbers. I'm just keeping it real." And what is Dalton's version of real? "I want to go for it all!" she said. Either way, it's a big day for the couple. "Imagine," Herrera said, "going from a 10 claimer to a Hambo horse." Sounds like a made-for-TV saga. Mr. Vicktor deserves shot at Hambletonian Tyler Buter doesn't know if his horse can win the Hambletonian, but he knows darn well that he deserves the opportunity to try. Buter will be driving Mr Vicktor out of the five hole in the first elimination Saturday, and he is certain the horse belongs in the field of outstanding competitors. "I thought so early on in the year," Buter said. "They sold him to (trainer) Jennifer Lappe and (husband) John Kokinos and that was the main reason they bought him, to have a horse with the potential to race in the Hambletonian. The only time other than last week that he's been beat was against Gimpanzee, who is one of the top two to win the Hambo in my eyes. When you can keep up and race well against one of the top trotters in the country, there's no reason to believe that he doesn't belong in the Hambletonian." In nine starts this year, Mr Vicktor (RC Royalty-Hawaiian Vicky) has won six and finished second twice. His two seconds were both to Gimpanzee. He made his first Meadowlands start -- in fact, his first start outside of New York -- on July 27 and finished 12th after making a break in the Reynolds. He has rebounded from an abbreviated 2-year-old season, in which he was shut down after breathing issues surfaced. There have been no such issues this season, and Buter felt the Reynolds clunker was an aberration. "He's had a great year; his start last week, I would just throw it out," he said. "It was unfortunate. It was a 12-horse field, two trailers, horses going everywhere in the first turn. It didn't work out. I would not even take that start into consideration and look forward to this week. "He's really good gaited and he has a desire to race. As soon as you turn him to the gate, he wants to go. He's a very willing horse. He's always showed up every week to race." The horse is also owned by Robert Santagata, Diamond Pride LLC (baseball legend Joe Torre) and Joe Lee, and Lee praises the way Buter handles the horse. This will be the driver's Hambletonian debut, although he won the Townsend Ackerman Stakes with Two AM on Hambletonian Day in 2017. "This is something you always look forward to growing up," he said. "It's what you work for. For the trotters, it's the biggest race. It's what you strive for, what you work for all your life. The chance to drive in it at (age) 33 is pretty cool, I think." Forbidden Trade ready for the Hambletonian  Bob McClure won the Dr. John R. Steele Memorial with Dream Together on Hambletonian Day last year, so it was jokingly suggested to him it should be no problem to win his Hambo debut this year. "I wouldn't say that," McClure said with a laugh. "It takes a lot of horsepower and good luck. But it's fun when it does come together." McClure will try and have his fun driving Forbidden Trade out of the one hole in the second elimination. The horse has four wins and two seconds in six starts this year, good for $122,956 in earnings. Last year he won seven of 11 starts and earned $236,244 in winning the O'Brien Award as the top 2-year-old trotting colt of the Year in Canada. The son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory is trained by Luc Blais for owner Serge Godin's Determination Stable. "I don't think he's disappointed anybody yet," McClure said. "He's only been beaten twice. The first time he was on a half (-mile track) and the next time he got locked in. He almost got out to beat Pilot Discretion (in the $185,250 Goodtimes final at Woodbine Mohawk Park). I think every race he's had, he's improved and couldn't be going into the Hambo any better. "I think the sky is the limit for him. He's been a professional from day one. He's made my job easy. If he's in any position to win he usually gets the job done. He's been fun to drive all year. I think he has the potential to be a top Grand Circuit horse." McClure likes Forbidden Trade's versatility, nothing that as a 2-year-old "he just chased horses," and that this year, "out of nowhere in the Goodtimes elim, I left with him. He's very handy either way. He doesn't have a preferred style." On April 25, McClure suffered a broken pelvis in an accident during qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and returned to the sulky May 23 using a hyperbaric chamber three to four times a week to aid his recovery. After all that, needless to say Saturday is a big day for the 28-year-old. "It's exciting," he said. "I definitely never would have thought this two years ago. But I wouldn't be here without Determination Stable. That's a big contribution to it all. I owe it all to them." As for whether last year's Steele victory can help him, McClure said, "It doesn't hurt. Last year we went into it kind of green, but came out OK. I think as long as you've got some good horses and some confidence, you'll be OK." ​by Rich Fisher, for the USTA  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- American Mercury ($6.50) overcame the outside post to start the race then overwhelmed Major March in the stretch to collect the harness racing victory in the $118,800 New York Sire Stakes event for the 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night (June 5).   Covering the mile in 1:52.4, in was the second straight NYSS victory for American Mercury.   "It's a steep hill to climb from the eight post here at Buffalo," Buter said after the race. "I left hard with him but when things straightened up, I let the leaders soften each other up."   Starting from the outside, American Mercury was able to use some early speed and drop into fourth heading up the backstretch the first time. Major March, Melodies Major and Price Hanover showed no mercy toward each other as they battled for early control.   With a smoking opening panel of :26.4 put up by Major March (Jason Bartlett), American Mercury went first over and was able to come to even terms with the pace-setter at the three-quarter pole in 1:24.1. In the meantime, the remaining six entrants found those splits too hot and started to retreat.   It boiled down to a match race in the stretch as American Mercury was just too strong for Major March and never looked back in scoring the 1-3/4-length win. Reigning Deo (Jim Morrill Jr), the 2-year-old NYSS champion, was third 10-1/4 lengths behind.   Trained by Chris Oakes and co-owned by Crawford Farms, Northfork Racing Stable, C. Pompey and S. Bice, it was the third win in fourth tries this season for American Mercury (American Ideal-Tessa Hanover). The gelding has now earned $105,050 this season and $142,670 lifetime.   There were two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A Series. Buter drove Quake Blue Chip ($3.00) to the opening bracket triumph with a neck score over Murrow Boy (Bartlett) in 1:55.3. Buter made it a sweep at this level with a half-length win aboard Rickybobbynthehaus ($4.10). They beat the front-stepping Rollonhighway (Morrill Jr.) in 1:56.3.   The $6,600 Excelsior B Series race saw McNulty Z Tam (Pat Lachance) register a head victory over Dancing To Heaven (Shawn McDonough) in 1:57.3 and return $2.50 to his backers.   Buter and Billy Davis Jr. completed the evening with triples while Oakes had three training victories and Sabrina Clevenger two.   Racing will resume on Friday evening at 5 p.m. with a 12-race card slated.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek for Buffalo Raceway

Rebellious (Tyler Buter) captures the featured harness racing Open Handicap Pace ($12,000) at Tioga Downs on Sunday (June 2). Rebellious ($4.90) took the lead before hitting the first quarter in :26.3.  He continued to control the pace hitting the half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:23.3. Rebellious, who is owned by Joel Warner and trainer Mike Deters, was joined in the stretch by Ideal Feeling (Wally Hennessey).  The two would battle all the way down the stretch.  Ideal Feeling came hard but Rebellious dug in and held on to win in 1:52.1.  Ideal Feeling had to settle for second.  Rockntouch (Mike Simons) finished third. Rebellious is a 5-year-old gelding by Mach Three.  It was his fourth win of 2019.  He now has 23 career victories. Tyler Buter drove three winners on the day.  He teamed up again with trainer Mike Deters getting a win with Hulking ($18.60).  His other win came with Tangled Mind ($28.60). There is no racing at Tioga Downs on Friday (June 7) because of the Chubby Checker concert.  Live racing returns on Saturday (June 8) starting at 6:15 p.m.  There will be afternoon racing on both Sunday (June 9) and Monday (June 10) with a post time of 1 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com.   John Horne for Tioga Downs.

Gimapazee (Brian Sears) wins the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) final ($215,200) for sophomore trotting colts and geldings at Vernon Downs on a special Memorial Day matinee (May 27). He won his 3-year-old harness racing debut and is a perfect 10 for 10 in his career. Mr Vicktor (Tyler Buter) went to the front and was followed in second by Cavill Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) with Gimpanzee ($2.10) in third. Mr Vicktor put up all the early numbers (:28.0, :57.3, 1:25.1). Gimapanzee, who is trained by Marcus Melander for owners Courant inc. and S R F Stable, went first over from third just before the final turn. He would be second after three-quarters and battle Mr Vicktor for the lead. He would take over in the stretch but Mr Vicktor would battle back gamely. Gimpanzee found another gear and put him away to win easily in a lifetime best of 1:54.0. Mr Vicktor would settle for second as Travel Winner (Trevor Henry) came up to finish third. Gimpanzee is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) captures EBC final ($209,500) for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Sweet Chapter (Matt Kakaley) led the way to a first quarter of :27.3. Winndevie (Trond Smedshammer) took over just after the first quarter. She would lead to the half in :56.3 and three-quarters in 1:25.3. Quincy Blue Chip ($3.40), who is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and trained by Gareth Dowse, went second over as they went around the final turn. She went three-wide at the top of the stretch and flew home to a win in 1:55.0. Sensibility (Scott Zeron) charged late to finish second. Sweet Chapter (Matt Kakaley) was third. Quincy Blue Chip                                         --Fotowon photo Quincy Blue Chip is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. She picked up her third win of the season. She now owns seven career victories. St Somewhere (Matt Kakaley) and Zero Tolerance (David Miller) each won legs of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies. Both divisions raced for a purse of $58.700. In the first division St Somewhere ($10.00) came charging late to nip the late rush of second place finisher, Meghan Lynn (Joe Bongiorno) to win in 1:52.1. JK American Beauty (Scott Zeron) was third best. St Somewhere is a 3-year-old filly by American Ideal. Trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing, P Collura, J&T Silva-Purnell&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. It was win number two of 2019. She now owns seven career victories. In the second division Zero Tolerance ($2.10) went flying in the stretch to overtake second place finisher DD Delicious (Matt Kakaley) to win in 1:51.3. So Awesome (Brian Sears) picked up third money. Zero Tolerance is a 3-year-old filly by Heston Blue Chip. She is trained by Joe Holloway for owners Val D'Or Farms and Theodore Gewertz. It was her second win this season and career win number nine. Zero Tolerance                                  -Fotowon photo David Miller won three more on the card. He got his other wins with Sports Column ($2.70), Gussy's Realdeal ($22.60), and Fool Me Again ($5.80). Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (May 31) with 13 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - In wet weather and over a worsening harness racing surface Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Millies Possesion remained undefeated in her career and after three Pennsylvania Sire Stakes preliminaries for three-year-old trotting fillies, triumphing in one of three $55,168 PaSS divisions, while the four $20,000 Stallion Series sections were divided equally between drivers George Napolitano Jr. (who also won a Sire Stakes) and Tyler Buter. Millies Possesion showed a great deal of fortitude in her 1:56.3 tally. She tucked fourth before the :29 quarter, then looked to make a quarter move for driver Dexter Dunn but was beaten to the punch by Firedbylindie, who moved from third to take the field to the half in :59.2. Dunn had the winning daughter of Possess The Will going again uncovered by the 5/8 and up to challenge by the 1:28.2 three-quarters, with $480,000 yearling, seasonal debutante, and race favorite Beautiful Sin on her back. Through the stretch Millies Possesion showed her talent, closing into a :28.1 last quarter in the muck to win by 1¼ lengths over Beautiful Sin, who was moving very well late; she in turn was a length ahead of Firedbylindie. Now perfect after four career starts, all this year, Millies Possesion is trained by Jim Campbell and pushed her bankroll to $76,184 for Fashion Farms LLC. Napolitano's Sire Stakes win was in signature front-end fashion with the Muscle Hill filly Asiago, who now has two wins and a close fourth in the PaSS after this 1:55.2 triumph. Fractions of :29.1, :58.2, and 1:27 were posted by Asiago, with pocketsitting Fade Into You trying to rally but falling short by 1¼ lengths, with The Ice Dutchess, $320,000 yearling, seasonal debutante, tough customer in 2018, and race favorite, coming third-over from last and moving strongly late to be another ¾ of a length back. Per Engblom conditions Asiago, a winner of $163,626 for Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband, Al Libfeld, and Black Horse Racing. A sweep of second choices in the Sire Stakes was completed by the Explosive Matter miss Nomo Volo, who notched her first seasonal tally in 1:56. Trainer/driver Jeff Gregory had Nomo Volo in front at every pole, with fractions of :27.4, :58.3, and 1:27.1 preceding the neck victory over Navarone Hanover, last year's Stallion Series champion; favorite Swizzle Sticks had to make two moves and wound up fifth. Nomo Volo now has lifetime earnings of $129,937 for Jesmeral Stable. Morning line favorite Sonnet Grace was scratched sick. In Stallion Series competition, Napolitano was behind the Cantab Hall filly Keystone Abbey, who became the only three-time PaStS winner after leading at every call in 1:57.1 for trainer Chris Beaver, who is also co=owner with Donald Robinson, Martin Yoder, and R.B.H. Ventures Inc. George's other stakes win came with the Explosive Matter miss Matterlei, who went to the lead in front of the grandstand and went on to a new mark of 1:57.4 for trainer Trond Smedshammer and Purple Haze Stable LLC. Tyler Buter's first visit to the Stallion Series winners circle was with the Donato Hanover filly Jezzys Legacy, who sported a second in the Sire Stakes but was lowered a notch by trainer Ray Schnittker and got a popular victory in 1:57.2 for co-owners Schnittker, Little E LLC, Ted Gewertz, and Mary Kinsey Arnold. Buter came back with another daughter of Donato Hanover, Hanovers Best, playing "pocket rocket" to perfection and then holding off Spring In Paris, who had won her first two Stallion Series starts, in 1:57.1 for trainer Rob Harmon and the partnership of Lester Gelardi Jr., Anthony Passafaro, Seafood Delight Stable, and Harmon Racing Stable Inc.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

Sunday marked the kickoff to the New York Sire Stakes season at Saratoga Casino Hotel as three year old colt and gelding pacers took center stage on a beautiful afternoon in the Spa City. There were three harness racing divisions of $58,000+ stakes competition and trainer Chris Oakes and driver Tyler Buter stole the show. Buter won four consecutive races at one point on the card including three for Oakes. Two of their victories came in the “big time” Sire Stake races as Shake That House (American Ideal-Shake That Junk-Camluck) and American Mercury (American Ideal-Tessa Hanover-Somebeachsomewhere) scored impressive wins on the matinee card. Shake That House was making his first NYSS start of the year and wound up as the afternoon’s fastest winner, stopping the timer in 1:51.3 while going coast-to-coast to earn the winner’s share of the $58,100 purse. The victory was the third in three starts in 2019 for the superstar pacer and the sixth in eleven career tries. American Mercury had a rematch with rival Hickfromfrenchlick (Mark Macdonald) on Sunday as those two squared off for the second consecutive time in stakes competition. Two weeks ago at Monticello, Hickfromfrenchlick held off the late bid from American Mercury to secure the Sire Stakes score. The two saw their roles reversed on Sunday though as Oakes’ American Mercury got up in the final stride in the $59,200 stakes try to best Hickfromfrenchlick in a mile paced in 1:52. Buter piloted four winners including a pair in Excelsior A competition as he drove Oakes’ Rickybobbynthehaus (American Ideal) to victory and guided Notwithoutafight (Art Major) to a wire-to-wire score for trainer Erv Miller. On a day in which Oakes and Buter scored two victories among the day’s three big Sire Stakes races, the other winner in a $58,100 event was Fromthestartagain (So Surreal-From The Start-Western Terror) who recorded his first Sire Stakes victory, setting a lifetime mark of 1:53 with Jason Bartlett driving for trainer John Grasso.  The next installment of the NYSS at Saratoga will take place in two weeks when three year old trotting fillies are featured on Sunday June 9th. Live racing resumes at the Spa on Wednesday afternoon with a first post time set for 12:00 Noon.     Mike Sardella

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