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All systems appear to be go for early Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank, who marched to an easy 2½-length win in his first start as a 3-year-old in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for harness racing trotting colts and geldings Friday night at the Meadowlands. "He was Frank," said winning trainer Ron Burke. "He couldn't have been any better. It's what we expect from him." The son of Muscle Hill was unhurried early, and made his way to the top shortly after vacating the four hole at the three-eighths after an opening quarter of :27.4. Meeting little in the way of resistance, driver Yannick Gingras was able to relax his colt and cut moderate fractions of :57 and 1:25 before kicking home in :27.1 to win going away in a lifetime-best 1:52.1. Brooklyn Hill was second while Bar Hopping finished third. As the 1-9 public choice, Southwind Frank, who is now 12-for-13 lifetime, returned $2.20 to win for owners Southwind Frank Partners. Earlier on the card, All The Time ($2.10), a major Hambletonian Oaks contender, crushed seven overmatched foes by 7¼-lengths in a division of the NJSS for 3-year-old trotting fillies in 1:53.2, a lifetime mark. Hillosophical was second with Southwind Pearl third. Once again, it was Gingras calling the shots, but this time it was with a Jimmy Takter trainee. The 2015 Breeders Crown champion has now won eight of 13 lifetime starts for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. STILL GROWING: The 12th race 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five, which has not been hit the entire meeting, failed to have a single-ticket winner again, upping the carryover to $226,527.68 for the next card. ... All-source wagering on the program totaled $2,693,370. ... Rose Run Parker ($10.40) held off 3-5 favorite Obrigado to win the $25,000 open handicap trot in a lifetime-best 1:50.4. ... The Big M is back with live racing Saturday at 7:15 p.m. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

The road to August's $1 million Hambletonian Stakes resumes this weekend with a slew of harness racing, including the first appearance of the year by early-season Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank. And trainer Ron Burke, who conditions Southwind Frank, couldn't be happier. "I'm excited," Burke said. "I'm ready to get going. I'm glad he's racing. "You want to start seeing if he's as good as you think he is. If not, you want to know what you need to work on. But I'm hoping that right off the bat it's good and it just stays good. We just need a little luck and I think he'll take care of the rest. He trained down super and seems great." Southwind Frank, who finished his 2015 campaign with 10 consecutive victories, makes his seasonal debut in Friday's opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Southwind Frank and driver Yannick Gingras will start from post four in a 12-horse field and are the 7-5 morning line favorite. Other Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the race are Bar Hopping, Brooklyn Hill, Dominion Beach, Honor Above All, Jack Vernon, Metatron, Promise Delivered, Sigmund, and Southwind Flash. Last year, Southwind Frank won 11 of 12 races and earned $786,419. His wins included the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, and William Wellwood Memorial. In addition, his time of 1:52.2 in a division of the International Stallion Stakes set the world record for a 2-year-old male trotter. He received both the Dan Patch and O'Brien awards for best 2-year-old male trotter. Southwind Frank was owned last year by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Our Horse Cents Stables, and J&T Silva Stables. This season he races for the Southwind Frank Partners, which includes the previously mentioned owners as well as Diamond Creek Racing. A son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Flawless Lindy, Southwind Frank was purchased as a yearling for $100,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale. His family includes Dan Patch Award winner Cayster as well as stakes-winners Giant Hit and Program Speed. Southwind Frank heads to the New Jersey Sire Stakes off a 1:54 qualifier win on May 14 at the Meadowlands. He finished second in an earlier qualifier, which came a week after being held out of qualifying because of a quarter crack. "Other than that everything has been picture perfect with him, totally uneventful," Burke said. "The quarter crack could have turned into an issue and it didn't. I think it's no longer a worry." This is the second consecutive year that Burke brings a top contender onto the Hambletonian trail. Last year, it was filly Mission Brief, who battled back woes before challenging the boys in the Hambletonian. She won her Hambletonian elimination and finished second to Pinkman in the final. "He's way more push-button than her," Burke said. "And so far we've had no issues. This colt just gets better and better. But honestly, with (Mission Brief), I was more emotionally involved than I am with him. She's my all-time favorite. The losses with her were horrible, the worst in the world. I like him, but I'm not as attached --- at least at this point --- as I was to her. Certain horses you just dig. You know, that's my horse. She's the one I like the most." During his 10-race win streak, Southwind Frank posted every victory by at least 1-1/4 lengths. Burke said it's hard at this point to determine where the colt's bottom is. "He did everything so easily last year and Yannick did such a nice job protecting him, not showing him off," Burke said. "I think there's a lot more there. He does things once in a while when he's training where you're like, 'What the heck?' You're reading the watch trying to figure out if what he did is possible. He might be something really special this year. "I'm just hoping he stays sound. I think the schedule we have set right now in our minds is perfect for him to be at his best when he hits (Hambletonian Day). If you win that, your whole year is made. That's the ultimate goal. Yannick doesn't have one, I don't have one, so it's very important to both of us." Other races on the road to the Hambletonian are Saturday's two Currier & Ives divisions at The Meadows and one New York Sire Stakes division at Vernon Downs. Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the first Currier & Ives division are Desert Runner, Hititoutofthepark, Iron Mine Bucky, and Steed. Hititoutofthepark is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The second division includes Hambletonian eligible Breedlove, Hollywood Highway, and Leggs Matter. At Vernon Downs, three Hambletonian-eligible trotters compete in the second of two New York Sire Stakes splits. They are Chukkar, Reve Royale, and The Perfect Lindy. For a "Hoof Beats" magazine feature on Southwind Frank, click here. Ken Weingartner      

There is an old adage in harness racing that says “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Sometimes, though, how you start is how you finish. And in the case of Rockin Ron, how he starts and how he finishes are often fast. Rockin Ron has reeled off 11 consecutive wins since joining the stable of trainer Ron Burke in November. He will try to make it 12 in a row when he faces eight rivals in Saturday’s opening round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old male pacers at the Meadowlands Racetrack. His most recent victory came in last Sunday’s Confederation Cup, where Rockin Ron defeated 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit by three-quarters of a length in a Canadian-record 1:50.1 mile at Flamboro Downs. As has often been the case during his win streak, Rockin Ron grabbed the lead during the opening quarter-mile and never looked back. It was the eighth consecutive race in which he paced his opening quarter in less than 27 seconds. It also was the second time in his last three starts in which he finished with a final quarter in less than 27 seconds. Since becoming a member of the Burke Brigade, Rockin Ron has been in first place at the first call in eight of his victories. Twice he was in second place and once he was in third. In 19 career triumphs, only twice has Rockin Ron come from further back than third at the halfway point. “A lot of our drivers, when they know a horse has speed like that, they want to use it,” said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Rockin Ron. “I don’t blame them. You don’t see horses often leave in 26 and change, come right back to you, and then come home in 26 and change.” Rockin Ron and driver Yannick Gingras will start Saturday’s $75,000 Graduate from post four. The remainder of the field is In The Arsenal, National Seelster, J Eagle Feather, Americanprimetime, Rock N’ Roll World, Split The House, Artistic Major, and My Hero Ron. Rock N’ Roll World and My Hero Ron also are from the Burke stable. “In a perfect world, I wouldn’t mind seeing (Rockin Ron) race from behind this week,” Weaver said. “It’s his first time on a big track in a while; maybe change the tactics. They’re not machines, you have to look after them a little bit. The first start we had him, we raced him out of a hole and he shook loose late and exploded. But who knows what will happen Saturday.” A son of Real Desire out of Im All A Roan, Rockin Ron has won 19 of 40 career races and earned $313,858. He is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and RTC Stables. The group thought they had a deal in place to buy Rockin Ron in early 2015, but the sale fell through. Last year, Rockin Ron won two divisions of the Indiana Sire Stakes and finished fourth in the event’s Super Final, which was won by standout and future Breeders Crown champion Freaky Feet Pete. “We love the Indiana-breds,” Weaver said. “We’ve been a huge fan of the whole program. “The secret is kind of out. When you look now, the best older pacers are Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, you could throw Rockin Ron in there I think, and they’re all Indiana-breds. I think it’s a great place; I love to try to buy horses and race them there. Rockin Ron looks like he’s another one in that same line. “The horses that race in Indiana, when you take them away from there, they produce. They’re tough. To do what (Rockin Ron) has done is the extreme aspect of that, but maybe he’s the type that likes Ronnie’s training program and likes to be put into the race.” Rockin Ron is staked lightly this season, with the Ben Franklin Pace and Prix d’Ete also on his schedule. “We usually try to take it easy with the 4-year-olds,” said Weaver, who has enjoyed success with past Pacer of the Year Award winners Foiled Again and Sweet Lou. “Midway through the spring we didn’t have him staked at all. I don’t think he was even on our staking list. After one of the races earlier this year at The Meadows, I asked if we might not want to try him in some of the 4-year-old races. I’m glad we did. “That was a pretty big mile (last weekend). We’re anxious to see how he does Saturday and then we’ll go from there. I’d be OK if Rockin Ron stepped up to be our best one, that’s for sure.” Ken Weingartner

Rockin Ron and driver Yannick Gingras established a new track and Canadian record in winning the 38th edition of the $244,000 Confederation Cup on Sunday night (May 15) at Flamboro Downs. The streaking Ron Burke trainee held off reigning Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 3-5 favored second tier starter, in 1:50.1 to set a new record for older harness racing pacers on a half-mile track. Burke, trainer of 2015 champion All Bets Off with three entrants in this year's edition, has set a new track record in the Confederation Cup for the second year that it has been contested as a race for 4-year-olds. Last year, All Bets Off won his elimination in what was a track record 1:50.4 before returning to take the final, and later won the Prix D'Ete in 1:50.3 at Hippodrome 3R for a share of the former Canadian record. Gingras left with Rockin Ron from post four as he indicated he would in a pre-race interview on the Flamboro Downs broadcast. Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry) also left from post seven and cleared to command heading to the first turn. However, Rockin Rock retook the lead into a :26.2 first quarter. As the 4-5 second wagering choice led the field off the turn in front of the grandstand, his stablemate My Hero Ron (Matt Kakaley) tipped first over from fourth with Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) following his cover. Rockin Ron raced past the half in :55.3 and headed to three-quarters in 1:23.3 while Teague fired Wiggle It Jiggleit three-wide down the backstretch to take over second place. Wiggle It Jiggleit continued to chase the leader as they turned for home, but Rockin Ron maintained a one length advantage down the stretch as he sprinted home in :26.3 to score the 1:50.1 triumph, equaling his lifetime mark that he took at Miami Valley Raceway in his last start. Rodeo Romeo (Brett Miller) finished 2-1/2 lengths behind in third off a three-hole trip. The finish order was completed by Rockin In Heaven, National Seelster (Sylvain Filion), Burke trainees Rock N Roll World (James MacDonald) and My Hero Ron, Drachan Hanover (Randy Waples) and Americanprimetime (Chris Christoforou). After the race, Gingras admitted that he was concerned that the front-end looked tiring, but opted to stick with his strategy after speaking with Burke. He pumped this horse up, but he sure put up," said Gingras in a post-race interview. "He went a big mile, and at the wire, he was just starting to get going. If he went around again, he was going to win anyway. I never touched him with the whip and I was ultra-impressed by him. I was able to cross right over, but :26.2 and :55.3 are no easy fractions. And 1:23.3 and then he had :26 on the end of it to come home, so you've got to give the credit to the horse, he put in a big performance." Rockin Ron has now won all 11 of his starts racing for the Burke stable, including 10 this year. The 4-year-old Real Desire gelding is owned by Burke Racing LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Rtc Stables Inc. Prior to the race, Burke noted that the Confederation Cup would be a good test for Rockin Ron to decide what direction he takes with the pacer. That's very impressive -- :26.3 tonight was a very good quarter and Yannick really thought that he had more left so this is another step in the right direction and we'll try to figure out where we go from here," said Burke after the victory, noting that Rockin Ron is scheduled to compete in next Saturday's Graduate Series at the Meadowlands. Standardbred Canada

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, May 13, 2016 - With just three weeks to go, the inaugural All-Star Drivers Tournament at the Hippodrome 3R on Sunday, June 5, is beginning to heat up and heading the list is Hall of Famer John Campbell and Quebec native Yannick Gingras. Two of the all-time great drivers in the sport of harness racing, Campbell and Yannick bring two distinct styles of driving to the tournament. "I have never driven at the Hippodrome 3R before," said John Campbell, "So I really look forward to this tournament. And competing against some of the best drivers in our sport will keep me on my toes. I'm not coming up there just to go around the track." Born in Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Campbell is the leader winner of all time in purses earned by the horses he has driven, approaching $300 million. His name is synonymous with harness racing and management at the Hippodrome 3R is honored to have him in the competition. "The last time I was in Quebec," Campbell explained, "was to compete in the Prix D'Ete at Blue Bonnets. It was such a great experience because they put such a tremendous show on every year. Campbell is the youngest driver ever inducted into the Hall of Fame at age 35 in 1990. Among his exploits he has won the Hambletonian six times, most recently in 2006. It is hard to find any major stakes event he has not won over the year. Just a few years back he scored his 10,000th career win. Campbell is also the president of the Grand Circuit and was very pleased when the Hippodrome 3R revived the Prix D'Ete and has made it a Grand Circuit event. "I was so impressed when Vincent Trudel (general manager at 3R) came to the race secretary's meetings in 2013 and announced that 3R was bringing back the Prix D'Ete. I won that race in 1992 with Direct Flight and that as very special. I really hope to have a drive in this year's Prix D'Ete." Also in the driver's tournament June 5 is a very familiar and popular face at the Hippodrome 3R in Quebec native Yannick Gingras. Raised in Sorel, Gringras was born into harness racing, following in the footsteps of his father, Raymond. "My special memorial of 3R," Gingras said, "Is that of being a kid and the drive back and forth to the races at 3R with my dad. That drive was always so good, talking about the horses and driving races. "Also special was that I got my first win as a professional driver at the Hippodrome 3R," Gingras explained. "That is definitely a race you never Everyone is Quebec is proud of Yannick Gingras. With harness racing being a close knit group, many personally know the young man who began his career professional in 1998 and now 15 years later is on the top of the world. After making the move to the USA, Gingras has become the most sought after driver in all of North America. His purse earnings with the horses he has driven is at $17 million a year and his season he should be celebrating his 6,000th career victory. The two top trainers in harness racing, Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter use him regularly on their top horses, to the point that Gingras, at many crucial times, must choose between them which horse to drive in a rich stakes race. It is a nice problem to have. As for the upcoming driver's tournament, Gingras most certainly has a leg up on John Campbell, as he won the inaugural Fall Driver's Tournament at 3R in 2013 in a romp, capturing three of the first four divisions, then adding two more win five of the eight races. "I just love coming back to the 3R and to drive in front of my friends and family." Gingras said. "I win lots of big races in my career, but never in front of all my friends and family as was the case this year. As long as I have some good horses, I can win the tournament this year." Gingras may have "stacked the deck" for this year's tournament in race fans, as he has made reservations for 36 people in the dining room for his mother, father and just a few friends. "It will be so good to see everyone again." Gingras explained, "Now with my kids in school and my busy race schedule all summer long, I have not had the chance to come back to 3R to see everyone. I am so grateful to the Hippodrone 3R for setting this tournament up." The last time Gingras was at 3R was in 2014 for the revival of the Prix D'Ete, which he won with the Jimmy Taker trained Sunfire Blue Chip. They had drawn the outside post 8 but it was not a factor as Sunfire Blue Chip not only won the race, but rewrote the all-age track record with a 1:50.3 mile clocking. But it was earlier on the race program that day, when Gingras won a race and was mobbed in the winner's circle by family, friends and fans. So much so that he got permission to leave the winner's circle to talk with them and sign autographs. But when you have many of the world's best drivers in the tournament, it is never a walk in the park to win it. Especially when Campbell and Gingras will be driving against Trois-Rivieres native Daniel Dube, Tim Terick from the USA, Ontario stars Sylvain Filion and Jody Jamieson plus 3R leading reinsman Denis St-Pierre and Mario Charron. All eight of the drivers will be at the track for a meet and greet with race fans Sunday, June 5 at 12:30 pm in the clubhouse area. For more information, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club

Three-year-old gelding trotter Dayson (Yannick Gingras) was spectacular in his harness racing debut for the Ron Burke stable on Thursday at Harrah's Philadelphia. After going 7 for his first 7 as a 2-year-old, the altered son of Conway Hall broke in the New York Sire Stake's final as the heavy favorite, thus ending his undefeated streak. After a pair of qualifiers, he was entered in the featured event on Thursday, a trot for non-winners of $20,000 in their last 5 starts, or Non-winners of 9 races. He was sent immediately to the lead from post 8, brushing past the quarter pole. After rating quarter two, he was challenged by 25-time winner Escuela (Geo. Napolitano Jr.), but was up to the task. The margin of victory (3/4 of a length) does not reflect the ease with which he won, as he was under-wraps in a time of 1:53. The clocking was only 3/5ths of a second off of the track record for 3-year-old gelding trotters set by Pinkman last year. He is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stbls, J & T Silva Stables, and R. Smith. Michael Bozich

When last seen in these parts, Pinkman was exiting the harness racing winner's circle following his 2015 Hambletonian victory. The altered son of Explosive Matter returns to The Meadowlands in the sixth race on Friday, May 13 to face six foes with his sites set squarely on next week's opening leg of the Graduate Series.   Pinkman's 2015 season resulted in his being named as the Dan Patch three-year-old trotter of the year. He danced virtually every dance, winning eleven of seventeen starts including the Canadian Trotting Classic and Kentucky Futurity to go along with the Hambo win while banking over $1.8 million. Leaving from post four tomorrow night, Pinkman comes in off of a pair of conditioning qualifiers for Jimmy Takter who trains him for owners Christina Takter, Jon & Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. Yannick Gingras will drive.   Transitioning into the summer meet, all of The Meadowlands outdoor attractions are now open for business including Victory Terrace with its spectacular NYC skyline views and a fashionable bar crowd. Directed toward that demographic is Friday's $50 Spring Handicapping Contest providing an arena for new fans to compete for cash prizes.   The guaranteed horizontal wagers are in place, free program pages for the late Pick-4 are available courtesy of Trackmaster and the last race Hi-5 Super Jackpot stands at $212,593 to open the weekend.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations    

Ron Burke trainees finished 1-2-3 in the inaugural $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic Final for state-sired three-year-old pacing colts and geldings Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Check Six going a big mile on the front end to reduce his mark a tick to 1:50.3, while in the harness racing companion filly event, the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Final, Pure Country bounced back from her first loss in the previous week's elimination race, going the first-over route and still matching the 1:50.3 clocking of Check Six.   Check Six was three-wide a good part of the first turn, then when The Catamount Kid backed off from between horses, Check Six was sent to the front by driver Yannick Gingras to go around stablemate Big Top Hanover, with the first quarter of 27.2 not too taxing despite the extra real estate. Check Six got a further breather when the half was tripped in 56.1.   The price of pacing went up exponentially down the backstretch when another Burkeite, Check Six's fellow Classic elim winner JK Will Power, advanced to give a stern first-over challenge. The ¾ was tripped in 1:23.1, and then despite going into a stretch headwind the battling duo still stormed in 27.2, with Check Six holding off JK Will Power, let go at a surprising 12-1, by a neck, with Big Top Hanover another 1¼ lengths back. The Catamount Kid held for fourth, with Lyons Snyder, a slight favorite over the winner with both sent off at 2.10-1, unable to capitalize on second-over position and settling for the last check.   Trainer Ron Burke took home $488,850 of the rich purse in the Classic, while Check Six became the second-largest moneywinner of the year by boosting his 2016 bankroll to $301,250, with his career bankroll for Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, William Switala and James Martin at $416,139.   Yannick Gingras, who drove both elim winners for Burke, picked Check Six for his Classic mount, "but the choice was closer than I would have thought earlier - JK Will Power really showed me a lot last week, and he was big again tonight." But Check Six came up biggest of all at the finish and took in the glory of winning the first Pennsylvania Classic.   **********   She's b-a-a-a-a-a-c-k!   Pure Country, last year's champion two-year-old filly who suffered her first loss in a Miss Pennsylvania elim in her seasonal debut, looked like a filly who could rank with the greats when she overcame a hard first-over trip to win the Miss PA Final in the same time as Check Six, a new lifetime mark. Pure Country settled midpack early as Call Me Queen Be went a stinging 25.2 first quarter, then yielded to 4-5 favorite Darlinonthebeach (Pure Country was the 2-1 second choice, the first time she had gone off higher than 3-5 in her career). Darlinonthebeach went on to the half in 53.3, with driver Brett Miller having Pure Country in gear first-over at that point and advancing the length of the backstretch to be right in contention at the 1:21.3 ¾.   Pure Country just kept on advancing the turn, gaining the lead past the curve's midpoint, and continued on strongly through the lane, holding off the late rush of second-over I Said Diamonds by 1¼ lengths, with Call Me Queen Be, Newborn Sassy, and I Said Please getting the minor awards in that order; the favored pacesetter Darlinonthebeach tired and finished seventh.   Speaking of her Miss Pennsylvania elim loss, trainer Jimmy Takter noted that "she had been a little sick and I had lost two weeks" of preparation for her 2016 bow. The "real" Pure Country showed up at Pocono Saturday, and the smiles on the faces of Takter and owner Adam Bowden of the Diamond Creek operation were big indeed.   (And yes, both winners were second choices, both won in 1:50.3, and both took new marks. The styles of the two races, though, couldn't have been more different.)   ************   In the race before the two Pennsylvania stakes finals, the American Ideal gelding Bigtown Hero, no stranger to extreme speed when at his prime, went the fastest mile in North American harness racing this year, 1:48.1, in an $18,000 pace. Simon drove the Hero like he was the best, and the horse validated his judgement, moving to the lead after a 26.2 opener and then hanging out middle splits of 53.4 and 1:20.3 before holding of the late charge of Aslan to win for Simon's brother, trainer Rene Allard, and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc and Yves Sarrazin.   PHHA / POCONO

JK Will Power (1:51.1) and Check Six (1:50.4) both posted new lifetime marks in winning the two $25,000 elimination races for next Saturday's inaugural $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic for harness racing PA-sired three-year-old colts and geldings at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The winning duo also contributed to give trainer Ron Burke a familiar position of domination, as he sent out both winners, a second-place finisher, and a third-place finisher from four starters. The Classic Championship is to be held during the evening portion of the Kentucky Derby Day doubleheader next Saturday at the mountain oval.   The Burke Stable had the two favorites in the first Classic elim in JK Will Power (1 to 2) and Manhattan Beach (9 to 5), and they finished 1-3 respectively, split by Canadian invader The Catamount Kid. JK Will Power, off a strong 2016 bow at Philly, went by his stablemate early, briefly gave up the lead to the parked The Catamount Kid at the 26.4 quarter, but was quickly in the move to reclaim the front. Explained driver Yannick Gingras, "I wasn't sure, with my driving the favorite, that Jody (Jamieson) and his horse were the ones to sit behind from the program, but as it turned out I could have gone either way."   JK Will Power got a real rest during panel and hit the half in 56.2, continued on with a tailwind to put up a 1:23.3 ¾, then sprinted home in 27.3 - and needed all of that dash through the lane as The Catamount Kid tried hard to emulate the three "pocket rocket" winners of the Miss Pennsylvania elims. His Pocono Pike late effort, at 11-1, came up a neck shy, with Manhattan Beach holding his third spot ahead of Western Dynasty. Trainer Burke conditions the victorious Somebeachsomewhere colt for the 3 Brothers Stable.   In the other elim, Check Six and Big Top Hanover were coupled in the betting as the 3-5 favorite, and they finished a nose apart on the money, just ahead of Lyons Snyder. These three had been in the thick of the action throughout - Lyons Snyder claimed the front, yielded to Easy Lover Hanover before the 26.3 opener, then was quarter-mover #1 to the lead in front of the stands, yielding to quarter-mover #2 Big Top Hanover, who took the field to the half in 55.   Check Six and driver Yannick Gingras, completing the Classic elim sweep along with Burke, came up first-over and made a bold backstretch brush to clear his stablemate by the 1:22.1 3/4s, then stayed game late as Big Top Hanover came outside from the pocket for the drive and lost by the smallest possible amount, with Lyons Shadow only a half-length off the win; Duke Of Delray was fourth, and from this division JJ Flynn had the faster clocking of the two fifth-place finishers and thus was the last horse advancing to the Championship.   Somebeachsomewhere picked up his fourth sire credit in the five stakes elims, two at each sex, with the victory of Check Six, who is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, William Switala and James Martin.   Gingras said that he would await the results of Monday's open draw before finalizing a selection of whom he'll guide in the Championship. Matt Kakaley guided the other two Burke-ites. Trainer Chris Ryder will have three in the final, Western Dynasty, Duke Of Delray, and JJ Flynn; owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound is in the interesting position of having two horses in the final with different trainers: Manhattan Beach (Burke) and Lyons Snyder (Mark Silva).   Cooperstown (11-1) and Doctor Butch (14-1) both came steaming down the extreme outside and finished on equal terms in the $25,000 winners-over pace, stopping the timer in 1:50.2. The winners came into the race on different win wavelengths - the Four Starzzz Shark stallion Cooperstown having won four of his last five, while the Art Major stallion Doctor Butch had been winless (though with 8 board finishes) in 11 seasonal starts - but both laid off a backstretch battle between favorites Lettucerockthem and JK Endofanera, then rallied strongly for the top-end dead heat.   Tim Tetrick guided Doctor Butch for trainer Linda Toscano and owner Kenneth Jacobs, while Anthony Napolitano, who had seven winners here last Saturday, posted his fifth win of the night in this tenth race co-feature (the sixth non-stake race of the night at this point) with Cooperstown, trained by Daniel Renaud for owners Brian and Ina Ross Wallach.   Pocono / PHHA

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec - Opening day for the Hippodrome 3R is right around the corner on Sunday, May 1 and management at Quebec's only pari-mutuel harness racing track is ready to greet fans with some big, positive changes. "From our new All-Star Spring Driver's Tournament with many of the best harness drivers in the world coming to 3R, to our redesigned website, we are ready for a very exciting race season in 2016." Said 3R General Manager Vincent Trudel. The track opens with live racing on Sunday's at 1:30 pm starting May 1 and then adding Tuesday night racing (post time 7:00 pm) beginning on May 24. "We have positive changes set for this season," Trudel added. "In order to boost our simulcast signal, our track announcer, Guy LaFontaine, will be calling the races in both English and French, and we will have our changes, handicapping selections and other broadcast items in both languages as is our website. "We have also hired a new Director of Marketing, Andre Provencher," Trudel said. "To assist us for promotional events, marketing and simulcasting. He is already a welcomed addition to our staff." What Trudel is most excited about for the new season is the All-Star Driver's Tournament set for Sunday, June 5. "We have never had such a lineup of the best drivers in North America racing here at 3R." Trudel gleamed. "Hall of Famer John Campbell, Tim Tetrick, Yannick Gingras, Jody Jamison, Daniel Dube, Sylvain Filion and our own Denis St Pierre and Mario Charron. What a great tournament this will be. I am so grateful for these driver's taking the time from their busy schedules to come here to Trois-Rivieres." The tournament will comprise of eight races and throughout the day there will be interviews after each race and a special Meet and Greet with all the drivers starting at 12:30 pm. "Just after we announced the tournament and the top drivers in the competition, the dining room at the track was sold out in days." Trudel said. The premier event of the season is the third annual revival of the Prix D'Ete for four-year-old pacers with a purse of $200,000. Set for Sunday, August 21, this year's Prix D'Ete is headlined by the nomination of the 2015 Harness Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit. "We are hoping that owner George Teague and Wiggle It Jiggleit have a strong and healthy season," said Trudel, "so that they will come here and race in the Prix D'Ete. The race has had many great horses compete in prior years and the racing fans in Quebec would love the opportunity to see this world champion race on our track." Other stakes at 3R this season include the Lucien Bombardier Pace for two-year-old fillies on Sunday, September 11 and the very popular Quebec-Bred Series for two, three and four-year-old pacers. The Quebec-Bred Series takes place from May through September depending on age with preliminary round and finals in all divisions. Leading driver for the past two years, Denis St-Pierre, is ready for the start of the 3R racing season. "I may be living in Ontario now," St-Pierre said, "But I will be at 3R every time I have the chance to drive mainly in the stakes races. I did this last year and missed some programs but still was able to hang on for the driving title against Mario Charron. He nearly caught me on closing day. "I am so honored to be part of the upcoming driver tournament on June 5," St-Pierre added, "What a great job the management at the Hippodrome 3R has done to have these world class drivers come to Quebec. "It is so important for our race program at 3R to have a tournament of this top class for everyone in North America to have their eyes on," St-Pierre said. "I can't wait for this day as it will be great to compete again these guys. This is very positive for harness racing at 3R and important for all the horsemen and women in Quebec to support." The Hippodrome 3R's top drivers, trainers and owners will be back for the summer meet. Along with Denis St-Pierre and Mario Charron, Stephane Brosseau, Stephane Gendron, Pascal Berube, Jocelyn Gendron and Louise-Phillip Roy, who is currently the leading driver at Rideau Carlton Raceway, will all be back at 3R. Top trainers returning to 3R include Maxime Velaye, who captured his first driving title last year with an impressive UDR of .443. He will be joined by Jean Tourigny, Yves Tessier, Dany Fontaine and Andre Champagne. "It is very exciting getting ready for this Sunday," Trudel said. "I know the race fans in Quebec are anxious for the return of live racing to Trois-Rivieres and we are ready to show everyone a good time." For more information visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club      

Mother Nature was sensational again this Sunday, with temperatures soaring to 70 degrees, with little wind and plenty of sunshine at Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester, PA. Also sensational was Driver Yannick Gingras, who had six wins on the card, which included four for trainer Ron Burke. Included in those four wins, were two pacing colts making their 3-year-old debuts. Check Six (Somebeachsomewhere-Southwind Vanna) drew post 8 in race two, facing NW of 5 races or $50,000 company. He went right to the front, and was able to sprint the last half home in :55.1 after rating a :57.1 front. The final time was 1:52.2, and he paid $4.80 to win. Check Six is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Bill Switala, and James Martin. The other debuting colt was JK Will Power (Somebeachsomewhere-What's New Pussycat). He settled in the three-hole before brushing to the front just past the quarter. He was also able to rate the front half (:57.1), before cruising home under wraps in 1:53. He paid $2.40. JK Will Power is owned by 3 Brothers Stables. Chalk up another win for the Burke-Gingras connection, this time in the featured event, a non-winners of $20,000 in their last 5 starts on the pace. The 4-year-old horse Rock N Roll World (Rocknroll Hanover-Worldly Beauty) was able to storm to the front, and never look back, carving fractions of :28, :56.2, and 1:23.2. He won by one length in 1:51.1. He is now a perfect two-for-two this season, and has made over $375,000 in His career. He paid $5.60. by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

It was a solid day for Hall Of Fame Driver Dave Miller on Sunday (April 10th) at Harrah's Philadelphia. Miller had five wins on the afternoon program, including the first two legs of the pick 4 and the late pick 3. The Ohio native has been on quite a roll as of late, winning 10 races at 3 different racetracks in a 24 hour period. Miller had 3 wins on Saturday night at The Meadowlands, and 2 wins at Pocono on Sunday night, to go along with his 5 wins on Sunday afternoon.   In other news, there was a $2,709 carryover in the pick 4 headed into Sunday's program. Despite the fact that a heavy 1/2 favorite won the first leg (Hickory Icon), the pick 4 still managed a handsome return of $833 for a .50 cent wager. The new minimum in 2016 is .50 cents, with a low 15% takeout.   Ron Burke trainee Verdad (Gingras) picked up his third straight win in the featured event of the day, a non-winners of $15,000 in the last 5 starts for pacers. The Howard and Judith Taylor owned 7-year-old horse out of Western Ideal was game in his win, grinding much of the mile first-over. The mile was timed in 1:52.3. It was his 29th career victory, as he continues to edge towards the $500,000 mark in career earnings. The red hot Toatsmygoats (Andy Miller) finished a bang-up second, despite being shuffled behind a tiring leader. The Nick Surick trainee came into this race winning 2 of his last 3 starts.   The upset of the day came in race 5, as Chris Temming's Gavin's Designer (McCarthy) came from off the pace to win at at 54-1. The 7-year-old gelded son of Camluck was able to take advantage of the tired pacesetters, after the initial quarter was ripped off by Burke trainee Allstar Legend in :25.4. The gelding prompted a 2 out of 3 Pick 3 payoff.   And in a milestone watch, millionaire pacer Versado was looking for his 50th career win on Sunday. The 9-year-old gelded son of Dragon Again was starting from post 4 in a non-winners of $10,500 in their last 5 starts event. After challenging the speedy Bestjetyet first-over in the races middle half, he tired to finish 5th beaten 5 lengths. It was his second start of 2016.   Live racing continues on Wednesday, April 13th, with a first post of 12:40 PM.   by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

The 2016 racing season at Harrah's Philadelphia got underway on Friday, April 1st. The rain held off just long enough to get the 14 race harness racing card in, although there was a consistent headwind in the stretch of 20-30 mph. The featured event, which was an upper-conditioned level filly and mare pace going for a purse of $17,500, went to Bradley Grant's Sandbetweenurtoes (Brett Miller). The 5-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was coming off of disappointing efforts in the Bluechip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers. She appeared to enjoy the move to the bigger oval, as she was able to grind first-over to win by a head in 1:52.1. It was her second win of the year, and the fifteenth of her career. She paid $5.40.Driver Brett Miller also won the meet opener with favorite Mystical Nectar. He had 2 wins on the day. Yannick Gingras led all drivers with 3 tallies on the afternoon. Driver Brandon Givens won 2 races on the day, including a 44-1 shot in race 12 (Dark Pool). Driver Montrell Teague picked up his 900th career driving win, piloting 3-year-old filly Destiny'sbeachbabe to victory in the finale. The Clyde Francis trainee is a perfect 4 for 4 on the season. Harrah's Philadelphia has lowered the minimum wager on it's pick 4 to .50 cents. The takeout remains 15%. Harrah's Philadelphia races Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with a post time of 12:40 PM Eastern. Michael Bozich

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, March 23, 2016 - The Quebec Jockey Club has announced they will host their inaugural All-Star Spring Driver's Tournament at the Hippodrome 3R on Sunday, June 5 with John Campbell and Tim Tetrick headlining the top drivers that will compete. Featured will be the greatest lineup of professional harness racing drivers ever to grace the 3R half-mile oval. In addition to Campbell and Tetrick will be the Grand Circuit's leading driver Yannick Gingras, Trois-Rivieres native Daniel Dube, Ontario leading drivers Sylvain Filion and Jody Jamieson with 3R leading reinsman Denis St Pierre and Mario Charron completing the lineup. The eight all-star drivers will compete in eight races on the race program with a prize purse of $10,000. There will be an early meet and greet session with the drivers and interviews throughout the day. "What a superb tournament this will be," said Vincent Trudel, general manager at the Hippodrome 3R. "Never before has such a great field of world class drivers ever been assembled to compete here at 3R. Racing fans around the world will be in for a special treat on June 5. This will be a big day in the history of horse racing in Quebec." For both Campbell and Tetrick, it will be the first time they have ever driven at the Hippodrome 3R. "I can't wait to come to 3R for this tournament," said Hall of Famer John Campbell. "The last time I was in Quebec was in the 1980's when I drove in the Prix D'Ete at the Hippodrome Blue Bonnets in Montreal. It will be great to compete for the first time at the Hippodrome 3R." "The Quebec Jockey Club is doing such a great job at the Hippodrome 3R," said Quebec native Yannick Gingras. "And this tournament will be super. The racetrack there is very good. It allows the fans to be right up close to the action - closer than any track I have ever competed at. They have also done a good job on their racing surface and their half-mile track is as good as any in the sport. I look forward to coming back, seeing my friends and family and driving in the tournament." "What an honor it is to be invited to compete against these world class drivers," said Denis St. Pierre, the leading driver at 3R the past two years. "This will be a great event for every horse racing fan in Quebec that no one should miss. I am really looking forward to June 5." From the Quebec Jockey Club

The Green Hornet (Yannick Gingras) has shot to the top of the leaderboard after a thrilling first day of the harness racing International All Star Series. US superstar Yannick Gingras drove victories in his first two starts on Australian soil and then followed up with a bold run in the last race to steal the limelight on day one. But it wasn’t all an international flavour, with Terang young gun Jason Lee claiming one for the Vics in race three on Yackandandah and then Greg Sugars winning the fourth and last, romping home late with Wardwell to overpower Gingras’ Captain Bronzie. The six-meet series, which starts and ends at Tabcorp Park Melton around meets at Echuca, Maryborough, Ballarat and Bendigo, began with Gingras driving Michael Stanley’s promising threeyear-old Spiritwriter to a thrilling win. Spiritwriter ran down a bold drive by Gavin Lang aboard Blackbird Power, who appeared to have pinched the race. “I thought I was coming second down the stretch, I always felt Gavin had it but asked the horse for a little bit more and it ran great,” Gingras said. Gingras then followed up with a 10m win on Fiery Blue Chip in race two, with Comigal (Dexter Dunn) and Illawong Bella (third) filling the placings. His run was broken when Lee, still a concession driver and the series’ youngest competitor, claimed the third race aboard Yackandandah, with ultraconsistent Dexter Dunn (New Zealand) finishing second driving Zalta and Victorian Chris Alford third on Jaccka Wilco. “I can sort of relax now,” Lee joked, having cracked through for a win. He said he felt lucky to have been picked for the event and been exposed to such champion drivers. The last race provided another ripping showdown, with Greg Sugars mowing down Gingras to salute on Wardwell, a third win for Sugars on the day having won the opening two races on the card, which were not part of the series. Gingras said he found the racing more comfortable than expected, noting with a wry smile “I was near the front as usual, so things didn’t really feel much different to home”. Harness Racing Victoria chief executive John Anderson said to be “in the presence of such greatness was quite an honour,” with the Victoria and World teams combining for 40,000 wins collectively. The racing followed a visit from Melton Specialist School students, who had superstar cards and caps signed by the drivers and were overjoyed by a visit from Captain Joy. Now retired, Captain Joy won more than $1 million in its career and is cared for by Susan Hunter through HRV’s HERO Program, which re-educates retired racehorses. International All Star Series day one leaderboard: Yannick Gingras 42 Dexter Dunn 33 Chris Alford 31 Jason Lee 30 Greg Sugars 27.5 Brett Miller 21 Gavin Lang 20.5 Corey Callahan 19 Anthony Butt 18 Kerryn Manning 15   Overall leaderboard:  World 133,  Victoria 124.    Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria

Stakes-placed Gural Hanover ($2.80, part of entry) made his return to the races a triumphant one in the $25,000 Open Handicap Trot, and all-sources handle topped $3 million for the eighth consecutive harness racing card on Friday (February 26) evening at The Meadowlands.   Having drawn the outside post in the field of eight, Gural Hanover took no part in the early pace, retreating to seventh as last week's Open winner Crosbys Clam Bake (Scott Zeron) sprinted to a :27.2 initial quarter before ceding the lead to Can Do (Anthony Napolitano). Midway on the backstretch, Yannick Gingras floated the 5-year-old Crazed gelding off the pegs, latching onto the live cover of B Yoyo (Joe Bongiorno) through a :55.2 half and slipstreaming a pressured third quarter before swinging three-wide off a stalled B Yoyo a quarter from home. Gural Hanover kicked clear in upper stretch as the pacesetters faded, holding sway in the end by a driven half-length in 1:54.4 over entrymates Bourbon Bay (Corey Callahan), who charged willingly down the grandstand side after being shuffled to last, and Opulent Yankee (Andy Miller), who negotiated traffic to stay on.   Ron Burke trains Gural Hanover for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E, LLC, and the Panhellenic Stable.   Burke and Gingras teamed up as well in the sub-featured $15,500 upper-level trot, as Its Huw You Know turned in a 19-1 upset in 1:54.2, kicking third-over cover to pass even-money favorite Dewycolorintheline and chase down pacesetter Hot Type in the final yards. The Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi co-own the 4-year-old Holiday Road gelding.   The evening's top distaff event--a $15,000 top-level conditioned pace--went to Clear View Hanover ($7.80), a pillar-to-post winner in 1:51.4 who battled gamely to stave off a vicious first-over press from Gweneeee J. Tim Tetrick drove the 7-year-old Western Ideal mare for trainer Henrik Lundell and owners Joie de Vie Farm and Guidetti Racing.   Anthony Napolitano led all drivers with four wins on the card, while Tetrick and Corey Callahan took three races apiece.   Punters combined to wager $3,245,266 on the 14-race card, carrying the streak of Meadowlands programs exceeding $3 million in turnover to eight.   Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Saturday (February 27) evening, with over $113,300 in combined Jackpot High 5 carryovers and $105,000 in guaranteed Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools. Additionally, four seats for the World Harness Handicapping Championship are up for grabs in a live-bankroll qualifier on-track tomorrow (the entry fee is $400, including a $200 contest bankroll). Post time for the 14-race program is 6:35 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations  

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