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WASHINGTON, PA - April 9, 2021 -- Harness racing driver Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. had to use him twice, but Lunar was up to the challenge as he stretched his career unbeaten streak to four in Friday's Tom Kirwan Memorial Pace at The Meadows. Manholmes took the other $12,500 second-leg division in the event for 3-year-old colts and geldings. The series championship is set for Friday, April 23. Lunar got away fourth from post seven but didn't sit there long, moving first over after the leader, Louie. The Sweet Lou-Crescent City gelding wore down the well-meant Louie and defeated him by 1-1/2 lengths in a career-fastest 1:52.1. Twin B Edge finished third. Ron Burke trains Lunar for Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, Knox Services and J&TSilva-Purnel&Libby. LUNAR REPLAY   Manholmes powered up from third past the three-quarters and drew off late to triumph for Dan Rawlings, trainer Dane Snyder and owners Linwood Higgins, Ultimate Racing Group and Jim Winske. Aime Hanover was second, 3-3/4 lengths back, while Phoenix of Fluzzy completed the ticket. The Betting Line- JK Isn'tshelovely gelding scored in 1:53.1, a lifetime mark. MANHOLMES REPLAY   The Meadows will be dark the week of April 12 to maintain the track and prepare the facility for the Saturday, May 1 kickoff of the 2021 stakes season. That day's festivities include the Kentucky Derby simulcast and the first Pennsylvania Sires Stake action of the year. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday, April 21. For full race results, click here.  by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing driver Austin Siegelman went into the Friday (April 9) card on a hot streak. He had won four races on each of the last three race days at Freehold Raceway. This Friday, he did one better, with five victories.   His biggest victory came in the Preferred Handicap trot, where he guided Levitation to victory. Coming off a win in the A.H.D.C. Amateur Trot, Levitation was the 8/5 favorite in the field of eight. Siegelman sent him to the early lead, but Winneress wrestled back control and cleared to the front just after the opening quarter. Undeterred, Siegelman kept his drive in the pocket, letting Winneress set the pace.   Siegelman's plan worked to perfection. As they turned for home, he angled Levitation off the inside for clear sailing, and he got by in the last few strides for a half-length victory. The final time was 1:57.   LEVITATION REPLAY       Levitation has now won twelve times from 69 career starters, with earnings of more than $177,000. He's owned and trained by Franz Wolf.   Siegelman began his day with a win in race 1, scoring on Betziesbookinit for trainer Travion Jones. He took race 3 on Perseverance, for trainer Robert Baggitt Jr, then won a pair of trainer Mike Kimelman, scoring in race 4 with Loud Brazilian and race 8 on Sweet You.   Siegelman has a comfortable lead in the driver standings, with 74 wins.   Live racing at Freehold continues on Saturday (April 10) with an 11-race card starting at about 12:30 PM.   For full race results, click here.   From Freehold Raceway  

With two horses already guaranteed spots in the harness racing final of the MGM Borgata Series for older male pacers, trainer Ron Burke will look to add a third on Monday (April 12) when Yonkers Raceway hosts the last preliminary round of the six-week event. Based on points accumulated in the series, the Burke Brigade's Rockapelo and This Is The Plan are among five horses to have already secured places in the eight-horse final on April 19. The others are Western Joe, Hesa Kingslayer N, and Leonidas A. Burke's Backstreet Shadow is in the best position to join that group, pending the outcomes in Monday's last preliminary divisions of the series. Backstreet Shadow, sixth in points, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the first of the last three Borgata splits, starting from post one. The six-horse field also includes four of the five horses directly behind Backstreet Shadow in the standings: San Domino A and Lyons Steel, who are tied for seventh, ninth-place Raukapuka Ruler N and 11th-place Tyga Hanover. The remaining horse in the field is series leader Western Joe. Other horses that could bolster their chances of making the final with wins on Monday are Mach N Cheese and Mac's Jackpot, who are both in the second division, and Ostro Hanover, who is in the third. None are morning-line favorites. Backstreet Shadow has a win and two seconds in the Borgata. A trainer can start only one horse in a division, and Burke has four horses in the series, so Backstreet Shadow sat out last week's leg after coming up sick in his second-place finish on March 29. "He had a legitimate excuse his last start," said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Backstreet Shadow, as well as Rockapelo and This Is The Plan. "We had to give someone the week off, so it just made sense for it to be him. We expect him to be pretty good this start and then hopefully even better in the final." Backstreet Shadow, a 6-year-old gelding, has won 25 of 63 career races and $890,162. Last year, he won the Roll With Joe Stakes and hit the board in the Breeders Crown, TVG Open Pace Series championship, Sam McKee Memorial, and Allerage Farms Open Pace. "I think Backstreet Shadow and This Is The Plan are two of the top five or six aged pacers," Weaver said. "They've been factors the last several years. Hopefully, they are again, all season long. This is just the start of a long year, hopefully, for them." This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding with $1.8 million in career purses, has a win and three seconds in the Borgata. He is the 2-1 second choice in Monday's third division. Rockapelo, a 2018 New York Sire Stakes champion who has been lightly tested on the Grand Circuit, is sitting out Monday's action. The 6-year-old gelding has two wins, a second, and a fifth in the series. Nine of his most recent 12 victories have come at Yonkers. "He's kind of a Yonkers specialist, a grinder," Weaver said. "He's surprised us. This will be his Super Bowl, so to speak, for the year. After this, it will be back to overnights." The Burke Stable has traditionally been deep with talented older male pacers. The returning group this season also includes a past Dan Patch Award winner, Dorsoduro Hanover, as well as millionaire Filibuster Hanover, Elver Hanover, The Greek Freak, and Covered Bridge. "The aged division is kind of our bread and butter," Weaver said. "If you get a couple good ones, you can really do some damage. "We try to treat them like a baseball team where you've got some major leaguers, but you're always looking to develop your minor league system. At some point, they're going to get called up to the big leagues. We're constantly trying to keep the pipeline going. Hopefully, we have some that can fill the void when the time comes." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. For complete entries, click here. For the Borgata standings, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

TALLAHASSEE (CBS Miami) — Amid ongoing talks with the Seminole Tribe about a gambling deal, Senate President Wilton Simpson wants to move forward with other measures that would create a state gaming commission and lift a long-debated requirement on pari-mutuel facilities. Simpson announced Wednesday that the Senate Regulated Industries Committee will meet Monday to consider a proposal (SB 7076) that would create a five-member “Gaming Control Commission” to oversee gambling operations in the state. The Senate committee also is expected to consider a measure (SB 7080) that would do away with a requirement that many pari-mutuel facilities conduct live horse racing or jai alai games to offer more-lucrative card rooms. In a memo to senators, Simpson said the proposed gaming commission would be appointed by the governor and would have the authority to police the state’s gambling laws, which now are largely overseen by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and  local law enforcement officials. “Responsible regulation is central to gaming, and I believe, as with other industries, such regulation should be reviewed and updated regularly,” Simpson, R-Trilby, said in the memo. “Appropriate regulatory controls build public confidence and lead to a stronger gaming industry that can spur economic growth that benefits the businesses and our state.” Simpson’s other proposal would affect pari-mutuels that have harness racing, quarter-horse racing and jai alai. Those facilities would no longer be required to offer the races or jai alai games while continuing to operate poker games, a move known as “decoupling.” Florida voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment that banned live greyhound racing at the state’s dog tracks but allowed operators to continue to conduct card games and, in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, to offer slot machines. Pari-mutuel operators for years have pushed for decoupling, but critics say the card games are a reward for continuing to support the state’s once-glamorous racing and jai alai industries. The Senate decoupling plan would not affect live thoroughbred racing currently being conducted at two tracks. “Thoroughbred breeders, owners, trainers, and permitholders believe keeping a live racing schedule is vital to their industry and its long history in our state. As such, they are not included in this legislation,” Simpson said in the memo. To read the rest of the article, click here.   

Mandeville, coming off back-to-back victories at the top rung, looks to keep the harness racing momentum going in Saturday night's featured $10,000 Stan Bergstein Free-for-All Trot at Cal Expo Harness. There will be 10 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 5:50 p.m. Mandeville is a 9-year-old son of Majestic Son who is owned and trained by Gerry Longo with Luke Plano at the controls. He comes into this assignment with 33 wins from his 147 trips to the post with $281,000 in his account and a 1:54 standard. The Longo colorbearer was a game winner of the Gary Budahn here on March 6, coming first over with Plano and wearing down pace-setting Silverhill Volo for a length victory. Sent off the 8-5 choice in the Open two weeks ago, he did an encore to get the job done by a neck. Pridecrest is the track record holder here at Cal Expo with his 1:53 2/5 mark and is gunning for his 43rd lifetime victory with nearly $350,000 in earnings. He is owned by Chris Schick, takes his lessons from Kathie Plested and will once again have Mooney Svendsen giving directions. Pridecrest's most recent score came in the February 20 Open, ending up on the right end of a nose photo with Silverhill Volo in that contest. The latter is going to be a major player for his owner/trainer/driver Chip Lackey. The 10-year-old Muscle Hill gelding registered his biggest win at the meet when he captured the Joe Lighthill in December. Completing the field are Major Al-Mar for trainer Rick Bertrand and driver Cordarius Stewart and the Gordie Graham-trained Flameon with Jake Cutting at the controls. Cal Expo remembers Bill Vallandingham There will be a memorial Saturday night for Bill Vallandingham, who passed away last Sunday at age 74 due to complications from a lung transplant done seven years ago. Billy V, as he was affectionately known, was a member of the California Harness Horsemen's Association, along with his brother Gene. He was the starter here at Cal Expo for 20 years before health issues forced him to leave the job in 2014, but he did return to limited duties in 2018. He wore many hats around the racetrack before becoming the starter in 1994, including groom, paddock judge, horse identifier and horse tattooer. Ken Fowler worked those two decades at the wheel while Bill was in the back of the car sending the fields on their way. "Billy and I were pretty much joined at the hip for 20 years," Fowler said. "I owe everything to him. He was like a father to me, helping me through my personal problems and all the time teaching me about the starting car and everything that's involved." Current Cal Expo paddock judge and former driver/trainer Walter Petersen had a very special connection to Bill, as they served in the same Army unit in Vietnam in 1968. "We became friends right away as we both had families involved in harness racing," Petersen related. "He's was always a gentle person, and I don't think I ever saw him lose his temper. He was just a super fellow to be around, one of a kind and irreplaceable." Said trainer George Reider, "Bill and Gene have been my best friends for the last 45 years and I couldn't have picked better. Bill is the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back, and he will be sorely missed." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Freehold, NJ --- As a harness rawcing prep for the upcoming Grand CIrcuit Lady Suffolk and Dexter Cup trots, Freehold Raceway has scheduled a special open trot for 3-year-olds on Saturday, April 17.   The race carries a purse of $7,500, and is open to fillies, horses, and geldings. The race will be split by gender if there are enough entries.   All 3-year-old trotters are eligible, although Dexter and Lady Suffolk nominees will have preference.   The box for Saturday's card closes on Wednesday, April 14 at 9:00 AM.   Horsemen with questions are advised to call the racing office at (732) 252-2322.   From Freehold Raceway  

BANGOR, ME - April 9, 2021 - The 138th season of harness racing at historic Bangor Raceway will get underway Sunday, April 11th with 66 horses competing in nine races with a first race post time of 12:15 p.m. "It's always exciting to get a new racing season underway, and this year with an earlier opening than in previous years we have made a few changes including an earlier post time on Sunday that will allow for more families to come and watch the races," said Michael Hopkins, Manager of Racing Operations at Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway. COVID-19 precautions including social distancing and mandatory masks for all visitors will be enforced. Live racing will be conducted Wednesdays and Sundays through July 21 with no live racing on May 9 and 12. Post time for the Wednesday race cards will be 3 p.m. Independence Day (July 4) will feature a special evening race card and a special post time of 6 p.m. culminating with Bangor's famous fireworks display over the waterfront. The fall racing season will start on September 7 and continue through October 30 with live racing Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays. The highlight of the fall meet will be the October 16 Maine Sire Stakes Finals. Admission to the grandstand is free daily. Race programs will be sold at the track starting the day before each race date for $1 each. For more Bangor racing information please visit http://www.hollywoodcasinobangor.com/Racing/Schedule. Simulcast wagering from top racetracks around the country will be available every Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Win, Place & Show Lounge located under the grandstand. Simulcast wagering at the Race Book inside the Hollywood Casino Bangor remains closed until pandemic precautions are lifted. Hollywood Casino's gaming floor is open daily from 9 am to 12 midnight. Horse racing fans that can't make it to the track can watch and wager on their favorite tracks at home or on their mobile devices at www.hollywoodraces.com. Free live and replay video of the Bangor races can be found at https://www.hollywoodcasinobangor.com/racing/watch-live-races-replays. by Christopher McErlean, for Bangor Raceway    

ANDERSON, IN --April 8, 2021--Just seven nights into the 2021 live harness racing season, Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing & Casino recorded the largest Thursday night handle ever in the 27-year history of the track on Thursday.. Bolstered by full fields and competitive racing, the evening's 13-race card produced a total of $1,151,829 wagered to establish an all-time record handle for Thursday night racing. "We'd like to send a very big thank you to everyone who watched and wagered on tonight's card at Harrah's Hoosier Park," Vice President and General Manager of Racing, Rick Moore noted. "We are firm believers in momentum, and this is a great way to start the season. We'd also like to thank the horsemen for putting on an outstanding show each and every night." Harrah's Hoosier Park kicked off the 2021 live racing season on Friday, March 26 and did it with a bang as the bettors came out in full force. Handle increases were felt both on track and through export wagering to produce $703,202 in all sources handle for the evening. All sources handle was up an impressive 7.5% over opening night in 2019 with the same number of races carded. Along with a few new additions to the wagering menu for the 2021 live racing season, Harrah's Hoosier Park has and will continue to offer a free live racing program available for download on the Harrah's Hoosier Park website every live racing night. Expert selections and handicapping tools are also available for free on Harrah's Hoosier Park's website Live racing will return to Harrah's Hoosier Park on Friday, April 9 with an action packed 13-race card. Friday's card will feature a $20,000 Open Pace and four divisions of the Jerry Landess Memorial Pacing Series. Friday's card will also feature a $10,000 Guaranteed Hoosier High-5 pool in the last race of the program. With a daily post time of 6:30 p.m., Harrah's Hoosier Park's 2021 season will feature 160 live racing days. Racing will be held on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule through mid-May before adding Sunday evenings. The full schedule continues through September before dropping back down to a Wednesday through Saturday schedule through December 4. For the first time ever, Harrah's Hoosier Park will also offer live racing on both the night before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving night. For more information on the upcoming live racing schedule, please visit www.harrahshoosierpark.com. by Emily Ratcliff, for Harrah's Hoosier Park      

Harness racing driver Greg Merton won four of Monticello Raceway's 13 on Thursday, Apr. 8, including the two conditioned co-features.   Merton began his day on the right foot, capitalizing on a leader's break with Junior's Dew in the opener. He placed the seven-year-old into the pocket spot through the quarter in :28.1 and followed leader No Stone Unturned (Jim Devaux) to the half in :58.1.   No Stone Unturned promptly went off stride at that point, gifting the lead to Juniors Dew who led to three-quarters in 1:27.2 and opened up a three-and-a-quarter-length gap in the lane for a 1:56.1 win. Stop Action (Brandon Parker) came from last to take the place spot, and Our Regal Ideal N (Cory Stratton) was third.   JUNIOR'S DEW REPLAY     Juniors Dew is now 14-for-105 with more than $95,000 in earnings. Ashley Eldred trains the Western Ideal gelding for Marianna Monaco of Poughquag. The horse paid $4 to win.   After winning two more in between, Merton took the other co-feature in a wire-to-wire romp with Sb Mikes Hot Beach.   He sent the journeyman stallion to the lead immediately, taking the front end unopposed. Sb Mikes Hot Beach settled in, guiding the field through splits of :28.3, :58.1, and 1:27.3 before leaving the pack behind in the final quarter in a 1:56.1 win by five and a half lengths.   Runhappy Ten (Jim Devaux) was best of the remainder in second, and Cee Pee Panic (Michael Merton) took show money.   SB MIKES HOT BEACH REPLAY     Candace Brandsetter trains Sb Mikes Hot Beach for Nicole Mason of Freedom. The 13-year-old horse by Magical Mike has won 45 races in a 276-race career and earned more than $355,000.   Merton and his brother, Michael, combined for six victories on the day. Greg also won aboard Rise Up Now (1:58.2) in the second and Ok Galahad (1:56.4) in the 10th. Michael visited the winner's circle after the sixth and ninth with Mikey Boy (1:58.1) and Donau (1:57.3), respectively. Another Merton sibling, Thomas, trained Donau.   Also on the card, Joseph Pennacchio won the North American Driving Association 4th Leg trot with 50-1 longshot Keystone Blade. Pennacchio contested the early lead with his charge before settling for the pocket spot, then came back around at three-quarters and out-kicked the rest of the field to win by two and three quarter lengths in 1:59.2.   KEYSTONE BLADE REPLAY     Keystone Blade and Pennacchio won their first NAADA appearance of the season on Mar. 25. Keystone Blade, an eight-year-old Yankee Glide gelding, is trained by Cory Stratton for Joe P Racing LLC of Delray Beach. The horse is 23-for-161 lifetime with just shy of $175,000 earned. He paid $102 to win.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink  

Harness racing driver Kevin Cummings was around the age of 8 when he began jogging horses with his dad, trainer John Cummings Sr. Not surprisingly, as Kevin Cummings approaches win No. 4,000 in his driving career, he counts his father as the most important influence on his life. John Cummings Sr., who passed away in 2019, won more than 700 races as a trainer. Among his top horses was Arm And A Leg, who in 2009 was named western New York's Horse of the Year by the Upstate New York chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. "He was an inspiration," Cummings said. "He was a hard worker. You try to remember all the tips he gave you, what you saw and how he would do things. He was a good horseman. There are horsemen and there are trainers, in my opinion. He was a horseman, for sure. "We went to the barn with him every day. We got to jogging and training at a young age, but he didn't just throw you in the cart. He made you earn that cart first. You had to work and learn the discipline at the other end." Cummings is one of four boys in the family, and the others - John Jr., Tony, and Todd - also have all won races as both drivers and trainers. In fact, Cummings' first win came in 1989 behind a horse named Orlando Otto, who was trained by Tony. "That was special," Cummings said. "It was my second drive. I remember I drove two for him that night. I won with Orlando Otto and the other one I had the seven hole and finished second. He paid $77 to place. That was a good night. That was a lot of fun." Of all the horses to pass through the family's stable, two of Cummings' favorites were Windjammer Munk and Arm And A Leg. Windjammer Munk, who raced from 1979 to 1987, was one of the earliest horses in his dad's stable. "He was probably the family pet," Cummings said. "He was a little horse, but he was tough. He would race. We kept him his whole life. "Arm And A Leg was a real special horse for us. I drove him in the open every week and he got assigned the outside because he was better than the rest. He never had it easy, but he liked it. He was a gutsy horse, and he didn't like to not do good. That would probably be the horse I remember the most. He was just a good horse." Other top moments for Cummings include two wins in the Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace at Batavia Downs. The first came with a local horse, Michael Scores, in 2006. He got the second victory in 2016 with Foiled Again, the richest horse in harness racing history. A year later, Cummings won again with Foiled Again, this time in the George "Duke" Dranichak Memorial Invitational. It was Foiled Again's 96th lifetime triumph. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 109 wins, the eighth most for a pacer in history. "That was a big thing for me, to drive the richest horse ever," Cummings said. "He was a real easy horse to drive, just push-button. He was a special horse, you could tell. He just wanted it. I was two-for-two with him, but he did good for everybody." The 50-year-old Cummings trains a small stable of horses in addition to driving. He has been the winningest driver at Buffalo Raceway six times and at Batavia on four occasions. This year, he is third in the standings at Buffalo. "I'm having a pretty good year," Cummings said. "My horses are doing good, my stable, and I'm doing pretty good driving too right now. I can't complain." He is looking forward to getting win 4,000. Entering Thursday, he had 3,993 victories. "It means a lot," Cumming said. "Every thousand you get is a thousand more that you didn't have. It's a good milestone. I'd like to get to (5,000) but I don't know if it will happen. It's tough here because we only race a couple days a week. It doesn't accumulate as quickly." And just like that young kid who accompanied his dad to the barn all those years ago, Cummings still looks forward to getting to work with the horses. "You can't beat it," Cummings said. "You think about other things you could be doing, and you appreciate what you have. I've got it pretty good. I think that's what keeps me going." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

CHESTER, PA - Yonkers harness rawcing invader Hill Of A Horse made short work of a good field in the $14,400 featured trot at Harrah's Philadelphia Thursday afternoon, moving to the lead in front of the grandstand and then stepping home in :56 flat to stop the timer in 1:55.2. Reduced to a field of five with the scratch of the fast mare Refined, the headliner saw Armagedon Seelster get top early positioning from his outside starting slot (the #1 berth from which to leave at Philly), with Hill Of A Horse and driver Marcus Miller briefly settling behind that one to the :28.2 quarter, then brushing to command and stealing a soft half of :59.2. They would have needed wings to catch the 2-5 favorite from there, with the Muscle Hill gelding hitting the three-quarters in 1:27.4 and then powering home in :27.3, 4¼ lengths clear of Armagedon Seelster, who held second over Bluebird Jesse. Trained by Erv Miller for Andray Farms, Hill Of A Horse surpassed the quarter-million dollar career plateau with the triumph, his figure now $255,912. HILL OF A HORSE REPLAY   In the $12,800 co-feature for developing trotters, the photo finish camera could not separate frontstepping favorite Manatlas and gritty first-over mare Heat Wave Hanover, who tied for the 1:55 victory. Manatlas, an E L Titan gelding, had last been second to Hambletonian winner Forbidden Pleasure in the 2019 Ontario Sire Stakes Super Final before a comeback victory at Dover last week; Mark MacDonald drove him here for trainer Wayne Givens and the partnership of Legacy Racing of DE Inc., Reggie Hazzard II, and Gary Calloway. Heat Wave Hanover, a daughter of Sebastian K S, showed her determination by battling to the dead heat for the sister-brother team of trainer Jennifer and driver Joe Bongiorno and owner Robert Weinstein. DEAD HEAT FINISH REPLAY   Friday's action at Harrah's Philly starts at 12:25 p.m.; program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

WASHINGTON, PA, April 8, 2021 -- Franklin County broke his maiden in spectacular fashion Thursday at The Meadows, springing a 17-1 upset in the Margaret Provost Memorial Trot in a sharp 1:56.3. Treasure Gems K captured the other $12,500 second-leg division in the series for 3-year-old harness racing filly trotters. Franklin County hit the ticket only once in his five previous outings, but he left alertly for trainer/driver Wilbur Yoder, settling into the pocket behind opening-leg winner Night Flyer K. The daughter of Southwind Frank - Hiya Lady rolled past Night Flyer K in the lane and held off Wholelotatrot to prevail by a neck for owner McMullen Stable. Night Flyer K saved show. FRANKLIN COUNTY REPLAY   Treasure Gems K controlled the mile for Dave Palone, never enduring a threatened moment en route to a career-fastest 1:55.2 victory. Although her margin over Kommin On Strong was only 1/2 length, Treasure Gems K was wrapped up late. Cash N Chips, who was forced wide by a breaker while rallying, was a hard-luck third. Norm Parker trains the daughter of Encore Encore-Treasure Bank for Norm Parker Stable and Tom Klosky, Jr. TREASURE GEMS K REPLAY   Dan Rawlings, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and Palone each enjoyed a three-bagger on the 14-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Friday, first post 12:45 PM. For full race results, click here.  by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

Monticello, NY---When Joe Pennacchio's trotter, Keystone Blade, drew the eight-hole in the NAADA trot today (April 8) at Monticello Raceway he wasn't discouraged. After all, Keystone Blade had gone wire to wire in 1:58 against similar company two weeks ago at Yonkers Raceway. So, in the amateur trot this afternoon Pennacchio sent his veteran trotter toward the front when the wings of the mobile gate folded at odds of 50-1 and they ranged alongside the pace-setter Pound Sterling (Bob Hechkoff) as they trotted to the first quarter in a swift :28.4.. "When I ranged alongside Hechkoff I could see he wasn't going to let me go so I grabbed leather and backed my horse into the two-hole," Pennacchio said."And once settled in I just followed the leader for a ways." Hechkoff kept the pedal to the metal and showed the way by the half in :59 with Pennacchio's trotter tight on his back. "When we headed up the backside for the second time I moved off the pylons as the trailing horses were beginning to rally and I didn't want to get locked-in,"Pennacchio explained. Keystone Blade was moving forward but Pound Sterling still had command when they trotted into the final turn. And when they straightened for home it was all Keystone Blade as the veteran 8-year-old Yankee Glide gelding began to draw off and went on to a 2-1/2 length triumph in 1:59.2. KEYSTONE BLADE REPLAY   Alan Schwartz, who was following the leaders throughout with Ladys Big Stormont, got up in the final strides to collar Pound Sterling for te place money. Maybe it was the eight-hole or perhaps Pennachio's first Mighty M start this season, but for whatever reason the betting public sent Keystone Blade away at odds of 50-1. Those who believed were rewarded with across the board mutuels of $102.00 to win, $47.00 to place and $18.00 show. For full race results, click here. by John Manzi, for NAADA

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series fifth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (April 9) in the fifth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (April 12) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the fifth round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: This Is The Plan, Western Joe, and Leonidas A scored victories in the trio of $40,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series on Monday night (April 5) at Yonkers Raceway. This Is The Plan broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Chris Brokate photo. After finishing second in all three of his appearances in the series coming into this leg, This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Gingras fired This Is The Plan to the top from post four and he would put up fractions of :27.2, :56.1, and 1:23.3 before he closed in :27.3 to win by three lengths over pocket-sitter Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton). Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) held third over Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn). Ron Burke trains This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 15-time winner in his career and he pushed his earnings to $1,806,700. Blue Ivy didn't get all of the respect on the toteboard, but the 5-year-old mare had her say in a powerhouse performance, capturing the first of two $35,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker divisions on Friday (April 2) at Yonkers Raceway. Sent off as the surprising 7-5 second choice, Tyler Buter put Blue Ivy into the three-hole entering the first turn as 3-5 favorite Keep Rockin A made the lead easily for Tim Tetrick and marched to the quarter in :27.4. With just five in the field, Tetrick was able to back down the pace with the Jim King Jr.-trained import. The slow half didn't shake Buter in the least as he waited until midway down the backstretch to energize Blue Ivy. It didn't take more than 50 yards for Blue Ivy to engulf and dispose of Keep Rockin A, as that mare slowed markedly into the final turn. After three-quarters in 1:25, Blue Ivy kicked home in :28 and scored by open lengths in a 1:53 mile. Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett) was able to come up the pylons late to secure the place spot, with Caviart Cherie (Matt Kakaley) third in the mile. It was Blue Ivy's second win in the series, to go along with two second-place finishes, for trainer Todd Buter. Owned by Renee Bercury, Blue Ivy, a daughter of Captaintreacherous, paid $4.80 for the victory. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 4-5-21): Drivers: 1. Todd McCarthy - 50; 2t. Andrew McCarthy - 47; 2t. George Brennan - 47; 4. Austin Siegelman - 44; 5. Tyler Buter - 34. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 92; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 30; 2t. Mike Deters - 30; 2t. Todd Buter - 30; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 30. Owners: 1t. Jesmeral Stable - 30; 1t. Renee Bercury - 30; 3. Eric Prevost - 28; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 26.8; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 26.8. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue at Yonkers with the finals of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Business at The Meadowlands continued its remarkable early stages of 2021 run, as after a highly-successful first quarter, action at the mile oval stayed vigorous as the second quarter kicked off last weekend with a pair of $3-million handles, upping the total number of harness racing cards that have surpassed that magic number to 18 on the year. During all of 2020, the $3-million barrier was broken a total of 11 times. Much of the success The Big M has experienced can be attributed to the half-dozen popular wagers offered nightly that offer a low takeout of 15 per cent. A prime example is last weekend's action in the extremely popular Pick-4, when the bet - which is offered four times every weekend - took in a total of $367,866 of action, an average per pool of $91,966. Meadowlands management is convinced that when you return more to the bettors, the more bettors will bet. "All of us at The Meadowlands feel that low takeout is a key component in bringing horseplayers of all breeds to wager on our track," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The Big M offers six chances a night to play into low 15 percent takeout pools. Another significant reason to the play The Meadowlands is that we offer only one wager (the trifecta, 25 percent) that has a takeout higher than 20 percent. Judging by our rapidly growing business this year, players around the world seem very appreciative for the built-in value created by our price-conscious wagering menu." Here is the takeout breakdown at the Big M: 15%: 50-cent Pick-4, 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Pick-6, 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5 17%: Win, Place and Show 19%: Exacta, Daily Double 20%: Pick-3, 10-cent Superfecta 25%: Trifecta Saturday night saw betting total $3,444,133, with two popular multi-leg bets showing big returns, with the Pick-4 averaging $101,770 per pool while the first race Pick-5 saw action of $82,960. The ever-reliable exacta, which is available on every race, averaged $72,997, accounting for almost $950,000 of action on the night, more than one quarter of the total handle. Some potent payoffs from last weekend included Friday's Early Pick-4 ($3,556), Survivor ($15,231) and Pentafecta/Hi-5 ($1,224). Saturday's big payouts came in the Pick-5 ($1,632), Survivor ($6,506) and Pick-6 ($12,209). FINAL DERBY PREP: The last prep for the May 1 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday (April 10) as the $1-million Arkansas Derby takes place at Arkansas' Oaklawn Park. The card will be offered as part of an extensive simulcasting menu at The Meadowlands. The Oaklawn card has a post time of 1 p.m. with the Arkansas Derby slated to go as race 12 at 7:41 p.m. The horse to beat is the Joel Rosario-ridden, Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour, who is the even-money morning-line favorite. There are four stakes events on the 13-race program that feature purses of at least $250,000. GET SOCIAL: You can always check in with the team at The Meadowlands on Twitter. For early changes, racing information and staff selections, go to @themeadowlands or #playbigm. On race nights, stay in touch with the Big M's Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover), Andrew Demsky (@shadesonracing) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1). $100,000 GUARANTEED: Every night, The Meadowlands guarantees big green on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 sports a guaranteed pool of $50,000. The wagers span races 6-9 and 10-13. CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on the "handicapping" tab and go to "race reviews". Brower's input is generally available 48 hours before every card. THE SCHEDULE: Live racing continues every Friday and Saturday with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. Big M TV's live "Racing from The Meadowlands" pre-game show, which provides news and notes, features, a look at that evening's featured action and staff selections, gets underway at 5:47 p.m. BET THE MASTERS: Golf's biggest event of the year, The Masters, tees off Thursday (April 8) morning and the place to watch and wager on all the action is at The Meadowlands' FanDuel Sportsbook. Some of the bets that will be available include Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, who are both +950 to wear the Green Jacket Sunday evening. Next up at +1100 are Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. How about making the cut? DeChambeau leads the way at -1150, followed by Johnson, Thomas and Jon Rahm, all of whom are -1100. How about the top finishing former winner? Johnson is at +175, followed by Spieth (+250), Patrick Reed (+550) and Sergio Garcia (+900). All odds shown were as of Wednesday evening. The sportsbook is open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The cash counter is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

Get Legs entered last week's opening round of John Brennan Trotting Series at Yonkers Raceway with eight wins in nine starts at the Meadowlands, but miscued over the sloppy going and had to settle for rallying for third. He made no such miscues this Wednesday, though, cruising to a 1:55 2/5 harness racing victory. Driver Andy Miller didn't hustle Get Legs away from post two in Wednesday's final $20,000 division, but he didn't tuck on the inside, either, letting his horse move steadily up on the rim to get the lead from Lady Jeter (Scott Zeron) after the 28.4 opening quarter. From there, Get Legs put up the half in 57.2 and the three-quarters in 1:26.2, navigated the far turn without any issue, and pulled away impressively in the lane on his way to defeating Lady Jeter by 5 1/2 lengths. P L Notsonice (Renaldo Morales III) came in third after a first-over try. Julie Miller trains Get Legs, a 4-year-old son of Muscle Hill, for owners Andy Miller Stable Inc. and Michael Anderson. Get Legs has earned $76,010 to go with his 9-0-2 record from 11 starts, and he paid $2.10 across the board. The exacta returned $4.70 and the trifecta was worth $14.00. GET LEGS REPLAY   In other John Brennan Trotting Series action, Tyler Buter had a pair of winners in Stinglike A B K and Timon AS. Competing in the night's first split, Stinglike A B K raced in third through opening half fractions of 28.1 and 57.3, then made a first-over move past the half that carried him into second behind leader Swiss House Onfire (Austin Siegelman) at the 1:26.4 three-quarters. Stinglike A B K and Swiss House Onfire battled around the final bend and into the lane, but Stinglike A B K gained a narrow advantage and was able to hold sway to the wire, downing a gaining Lifetime Royalty (Dan Dube) by a neck in 1:56.3. Swiss House Onfire wound up third. STINGLIKE A B K REPLAY   Stinglike A B K is a 5-year-old Andover Hall stallion owned and trained by Nicole Dicostanzo. Stinglike A B K is now a nine-time winner in his career, and he has banked $97,054. Stinglike A B K, the 2-1 second choice, returned $6.00 to win and was atop a $45.40 exacta and a $112.50 trifecta. Two races later, Buter guided Timon AS to a 1:57 decision. Timon AS pocketed up behind Look In My Eyes (Jordan Stratton) and stalked that foe through a 29.1 opening quarter and a 58.1 half, then pulled out of the two-hole as they trotted to the 1:27.2 three-quarters. Timon AS wore down Look In My Eyes coming into the stretch, then drew clear, prevailing by a length and three-quarters. Look In My Eyes held second over Blue And Bold (Brent Holland). TIMON AS REPLAY   A 5-year-old Lionhunter gelding, Timon AS is trained by Melanie Wrenn for owner Michael Guest. Timon AS now has a record of 20-3-1 from 55 attempts, and he has put away $111,280. Timon AS was the 3-2 second choice and paid $5.10 to win. The exacta kicked back $59.00 and the trifecta was worth $728.00. Buter nearly nabbed another win with first-over attacker Grinder in the second section, but Windsong Pioneer (Holland), who put up stations of 27.3, 57.1, and 1:25.3, kept Grinder at bay in game fashion, hitting the wire a nose to the good in a 1:56.1 mile. Guilty Desire (Stratton) got third after a second-over journey. The victorious 5-year-old E L Titan gelding is trained by Paul Stafford for owner Thomas Ceraso Jr. Windsong Pioneer picked up his 14th career win, and he boosted his bankroll to $110,932. Windsong Pioneer, dispatched at 7-2, returned $9.00 to win and led a $24.40 exacta and a $66.50 trifecta. The John Brennan Trotting Series has one preliminary leg remaining next Wednesday, April 14, before the final on Wednesday, April 21. Stakes action continues at Yonkers on Friday (April 9) and Monday (April 12) as the final preliminary rounds of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series and MGM Borgata Pacing Series are held. There are two $35,000 divisions in the Blue Chip Matchmaker, one a non-wagering affair and the other race two on the pari-mutuel program, and a trio of $40,000 splits of the MGM Borgata are slated as races four, five, and six. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

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