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YONKERS, NY, Friday December 6, 2019- Harness racing favorite Dibaba N (Eric Goodell, $4.30) gave nothing else a shot Friday night (Dec. 6th), winning Yonkers Raceway's brisk $42,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. It was a two-speed, two-wagering-choices number, with Dibaba N--from assigned post position No. 5--working around pole-sitter Itty Bitty (Dan Dube) before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile. There wasn't much to it from there as Dibaba N found a :57.2 intermission. Down the backside and moving toward a 1:25.3 three-quarters, Clear Idea (Joe Bongiorno) gapped out of a three-hole, while Shellie De Vie (Greg Merton) tired after a weak, first-over bid. Dibaba N and Itty Bitty had the stretch to the themselves, with the former opening a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn. Dibaba N prevailed by a length-and-a-half 1:52.4 Third--beaten more than eight lengths--was Kaitlyn N (Jason Bartlett), with Write Me a Song (George Brennan) and Clear Idea settling for the small envelopes. For Dibaba N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Shadow Play owned by Blindswitch Racing, J&T Silva, VIP Internet & Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Jose Godinez, it was her eighth win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $11, the triple returned $50 and the superfecta paid $170.50. By Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – “He’s back.” That’s the first thing that went through harness racing trainer Nick DeVita’s mind after watching Heaven’s Gait score a comeback win in the $14,000 winners over at Saratoga Nov. 9. Although the race setup for a closer as a pair of leaders hooked up in a speed duel through panels of :26.3 and 54.2, Heaven’s Gait proved impressive. The 5-year-old wheeled first-over from a 6-length deficit in sixth passing the half, went three-wide around the leaders on the third turn under Jay Randall pistol grips, and opened a 4-length advantage through three-quarters in 1:22.4. With Randall still statuesque in the bike, Heaven’s Gait reported home a 5 1/2-length winner in 1:52.2. “That was a big relief to see him win the way he did at Saratoga. That’s the horse we knew we had,” DeVita said. “There was no doubt anymore that he was going to come back as good as he was. “Obviously, we have bigger plans for him next year with the Levy and everything,” DeVita continued. “We are just trying to get his feet back under him and trying not to push him too hard. He’s come back pretty good and we’re real happy with him so far and just trying to race him back into shape now.” The Saratoga victory was Heaven’s Gait’s first victory and only his second pari-mutuel start since winning the Empire Breeders Classic Final at Tioga Downs Aug. 20, 2017. Heaven’s Gait emerged from his 1:49.2 victory in the $263,000 stakes with an injury that send him to the sidelines. “He didn’t come out of that race too great,” DeVita said. “He was a little sore for a few days and we took a few X-rays and saw that he broke his P1 (first Phalanx). We just stopped with him, obviously and gave him the rest of the year off to heal.” By Rock N Roll Heaven out of the Somebeachsomewhere mare Booya Beach, Heaven’s Gait is a homebred for John Cummins. The horse stood out to DeVita from day one. “When he first came into the farm, he just looked like a big ball of muscle. He looked like he was going to be a nice athlete,” DeVita said. “He did everything right from the start and as we started going faster miles, he just did it so easily and seemed to enjoy it so much. He never gave us any problems and he just had a special look about him, the way he carries himself. He’s a very intelligent horse.” Heaven’s Gait made just five starts at 2, winning a pair of overnights at Pocono Downs. At 3, he won two legs of the New York Sire Stakes and the $75,000 Hempt Consolation. He crossed the wire first in the last five starts of his sophomore campaign, culminating with the Empire Breeders Classic. “He was a homebred for us, so we really worked with him from the ground up,” DeVita said. “To win a big race like that, it was quite a thrill and such an honor. I was just proud to be part of the team and John has been so hands-on with him. John loves his horses, so it was really special to win that race. It was very rewarding, the road to get there.” DeVita took Heaven’s Gait’s injury in stride and the support of Cummins, a veterinarian based in Lexington, proved invaluable. “It’s part of the game, so you can only play the card you’re dealt. Dr. Cummins is a very knowledgeable veterinarian and he told us what we needed to do. He was onboard in helping us any way he could,” DeVita said. “We followed his advice and he said, ‘if you do the right thing, he should come back no problem,’ and he did. “We’re very careful with him. John doesn’t put a lot of pressure on us; he wants the right thing done by his horse and we respect that,” DeVita continued. “That makes it so much easier when the owner wants the best thing done with their horse and you don’t have the pressure to bring them back too early or do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing. We just took our time with him and he let us know when he was ready to come back.” Heaven’s Gait qualified five times between Aug. 22, 2018 and Dec. 1, 2018, but never started in a pari-mutuel race. He trialed again Oct. 9 at Pocono Downs in 1:55 before posting a final qualifier one week later in 1:54.2. Heaven’s Gait finished second in his return to the races at Saratoga Nov. 2. After his comeback win, he started from post eight in Saratoga’s Open Handicap, but found himself at a 12 1/2-length disadvantage through a :57.1 half. In his last start at Yonkers Nov. 23, Heaven’s Gait finished sixth in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap. “His last start at Saratoga, they nearly went a second quarter in 31 seconds and he was sitting last. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re that far out of it, especially at a track like Saratoga, you’re hoping to finish fifth at that point,” DeVita said. “We had the rail last week and just our first start at Yonkers, tried to get around there safely. He did and he finished strong. Hopefully we get away a little closer this week.” Heaven’s Gait will continue his comeback in the $42,000 Open Handicap Pace Saturday night (Dec. 7). George Brennan, who leads Jason Bartlett in the driver standings 411 to 407, will drive the stallion from post one. The pair are 6-1 on the morning line. Last week’s Open Handicap winner Mac’s Jackpot will start from post six as he seeks four straight wins. Jack’s Legend was assigned post eight off a pair of impressive victories in the Open Handicap and Preferred Handicap in his last two starts Nov. 16 and 23, respectively. The Real One and Saying Grace, who finished second and third to Mac’s Jackpot last week, drew posts seven and two, respectively. The Wall, who was handicapped by post seven last week, drew post five Saturday night. Raukapuka Ruler and Sunfire Blue Chip complete the lineup and enter off wins for $27,000 Nov. 23. “He’s in against tough horses, but we plan to race him against the best horses,” DeVita said. “I think he can go with them no problem. He was one of the best 3-year-olds in 2017 in New York and he raced against good horses then and I’m sure he’ll be able to compete with them. “He’s shown that he can win on the lead, he can win from off the pace, he can fly home. He’s great off a helmet. I really have no concern there,” DeVita continued. “Yonkers is a good track to race off the pace and there’s really no pressure on George to put him on the lead by no means. He is in against those tough horses and hopefully he can work out a trip and hopefully it works out for us.” Regardless of the outcome Saturday night, DeVita still sees the same spark in Heaven’s Gait that made him stand out as a yearling. “He loves to work, very classy horse, professional. He never gave us a problem. He’s still a stallion and he’s a perfect gentleman. You can walk a mare right past him. He’s a pleasure to work with. You know a special horse when you’re around them. They act different, they carry themselves differently, they know they’re special.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through December 17. First post time is 6:50 p.m.  By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY-- The coach showed-em how to do it. Paul Minore, a retired high school athletic coach and outstanding amateur driver, saved the best for last when he rallied his Glenferrie Dreamer in the final strides to win the $15000 final of the NAADA harness racing trotting series in 2:00.1 tonight (Dec. 5) at Yonkers Raceway. It was the third and final trotting 10-race series offered this year by NAADA. On a cold and windy evening Bob Hechkoff sent Five Towns to the lead from the six-hole when the wings of the mobile gate folded but found he had company in the presence of Dave Offenberg and Fiji who were making a bid for the lead but Hechkoff refused to yield. Meanwhile Minore was content to be in the two-hole as the leaders trotted by the first stanza in:29.1. But as they trotted by halfway point Fiji and Five Towns were heads apart as they raced one-two past the half in :59.3 while Minore sat chilly covered along the pylons. As the field passed the three quarters Fiji was beginning to show the perils of being parked out and began to fade. As he did Minore hustled Glenferrie Dreamer up to challenge Five Towns and they duked it out all the way down the lane. But as they approached the wire Minore's trotter was the stronger horse and eeked-out a head victory over Hechkoff's charge. Fiji was third, three lengths off the winner. It was the third victory of the season for Minore's 10 year old Dream Vacation gelding. Raced on the betting card Glenferrie Dreamer paid $5.60 to win. by John Manzi, for NAADA    

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, December 3, 2019-- Every racetrack has them, folks whose names don't appear in the program, but without whom the harness racing program doesn't come close to getting off the ground. Yonkers Raceway is no exception. The joint doesn't conduct 230-odd cards a year with very few hitches without them. Do not refer to them as innominate. Do refer to them as invaluable. Arthur Webb is one such person. To friends, of which he counts many, he's just 'Zeke,' and Zeke the caretaker is retiring after 50 years when Yonkers' 2019 season ends Tuesday night, Dec. 17th. "It's time," Zeke said. "At least that what my wife (Mary) told me." It seems Zeke, a 67-year-old native North Carolinian ('Running Rapids, near the Virginia line'), had no choice but to end up with horses. His grandparents worked with them, while his two sisters and seven brothers--all older--were part of the Roosevelt and Yonkers Raceways circuit. As for Zeke, who still resides in dearly-departed Roosevelt's Long Island locale of Westbury, his half-century of keeping the trotters and pacers healthy and racing began with Frank Popfinger. After Popfinger ("I took care of his first 2:00 pacer, Goodnuff"), it was John Paton ("26-27 years"), then Mike Sorentino Jr. and, eventually, Don Sider. Ask Zeke what's changed in the industry and he mentions the sort of horses now filling the entry box. "It's a lot of claimers now," he said. "When I first started, there were the ('letter-classified') horses. Trainers had them longer. Now, so many more claimers and we don't have a bonding with them the way we used to. It's lost some of the sport." Then, there's the equipment. "Everything was so much heavier then," he said. "The hopples, the bike, everything. Now, with the quick hitch and the other improvements, it's so much easier for the horse, especially young ones. "They're able to be 'broken' quicker so they don't have to think as much. They get more confident, and I really think they sense if you like them." It's the affection that Zeke made a point of reinforcing to his inquisitor. "You have to love the animal," he said. "I didn't choose to do this for the money. For me, happiness is more important than money." (For his part, Zeke, along with late brother, Van (Sylvanious), enjoyed modest ownership success with the pacer Redd Fox during the last half of the pacer's decade-long [1997-2007] career.) "He even won a (Yonkers) race on my 50th birthday, Sept. 26, 2002. Ask Zeke what he's going to miss and "It just being here. We're going to the Carolinas to be with our daughter, Yolanda, but when the weather warms up, I'm going to come back Ask Zeke if he'd choose this work all over again, he politely offers a correction. "I haven't been working," Arthur Webb said, "I've been enjoying myself." One last question before we go..."Zeke?" "I was growing up and there was an older guy, Zeke Butler, who ran a tobacco tractor. He didn't move too fast and everyone said I was as slow as old Zeke Butler. "I didn't much care for the nickname at first, but since everyone starting calling me Zeke, I sort of went along with it." Alrighty then. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, December 2, 2019--With inclement weather around the New York metropolitan area, Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its live harness racing program for Monday evening (Dec. 2nd). It's the fifth cancellation of 2019. Evening simulcasting has also been scrapped (afternoon simulcasting was not scheduled). Live racing is set to resume Tuesday evening (Dec. 3rd), with the usual first post of 6:50 PM. Horsemen note that the double-draw for Friday and Saturday (Dec. 6th and 7th) continues as scheduled, with the entry box closing at 3:30 PM. With Monday evening’s (Dec. 2nd) card a casualty of the weather, Yonkers Raceway’s Tuesday night (Dec. 3rd) Pick 5 wager now starts with a carryover of $3,942.61 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee has been approved by the New York State Gaming Commission and is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 Tuesday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Saturday evening), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway    

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 30, 2019--Mac's Jackpot (Brent Holland, $20), despite four weeks off, a scratched-sick line in between and a first-over trip Saturday night (Nov. 30th), annexed Yonkers Raceway's $42,000 Open Handicap Pace. Away fourth from assigned post position No. 2, Mac's Jackpot found himself in behind Havefaithinme N (Jason Bartlett), Bettor's Fire N (Ron Cushing) and Fine Diamond (Jordan Stratton). Havefaithinme N led through intervals of :27.1 and a flat 56 seconds before Mac's Jackpot moved. He led the conga line which included The Real One (Pat Lachance) and 17-10 choice Saying Grace N (Jim Marohn Jr.). Havefaithinme N found a 1:24 three-quarters, but was about to get collared. Mac's Jackpot took over soon thereafter, with The Real One in pursuit. Mac's Jackpot did close the sale from early in the lane, holding off The Real One by a length in 1:51.3 while matching a season's-best effort. Saying Grace N was a non-threatening third, with Havefaithinme N and The Wall (Joe Bongiorno) picking off the remainder. For fifth choice Mac's Jackpot, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned by Howard & Michael Ouriel and trained by Jeff Smith, it was her ninth win (third consecutive) in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $97.50, the triple returned $426 and the superfecta paid $1,171.   Frank Drucker Yonkers

YONKERS, N.Y. – Havefaithinme’s start in the Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway Saturday night (Nov. 30) will likely be his final race of the year and the gelding will try to add a harness racing victory in the Hilltop’s $42,000 feature to an impressive seasonal resume. Havefaithinme has earned 10 victories and nine placings from 29 starts this year, good for $188,755 in earnings for owners Blindswitch Racing Stable, Gary Axelrod, Good Friends Racing Stable, and Santo Farina. Although Havefaithinme’s record isn’t out of place for a champion imported pacer, the 8-year-old New Zealand-bred’s road to success in America was anything but ordinary. Campaigned in New Zealand and Australia by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen from July 2014 to January 2018, Havefaithinme established himself as one of the best pacers in the Southern Hemisphere. The Bettor’s Delight son earned four Group 1 victories at 3, including the Northern Derby and New Zealand Derby. At 4, Havefaithinme added another Group 1 from a standing start in the Auckland Cup over 3,200 meters on New Year’s Eve in 2015. Havefaithinme continued his 4-year-old campaign in Australia, rattling off four straight wins at Menangle, culminating in two Group 1 wins in the Chariots of Fire Feb. 13, 2016 and the Miracle Mile 15 days later. Havefaithinme’s 1:47.5 clocking in the Miracle Mile established a new standard for pacers in the Southern Hemisphere. Although the Miracle Mile was Havefaithinme’s final Group 1 victory, the pacer remained competitive at the top level until Blindswitch Racing’s David Litvinsky received a call from an agent in late 2017. Havefaithinme had just finished second to Lazarus in a heat of the Inter Dominion Pacing Series Gloucester Park Dec. 1 and the pacer was for sale. “There was an agent I was dealing with, I had gotten a bunch of horses from him in the past, and he said there was an opportunity to buy one of the top horses in Australia at the time,” Litvinsky recalled. “The owner would sell the horse, but he wanted to race the horse in three more races over there. “When he contacted me, he just came in second, first-over, three-wide. It was really amazing. He was outside the entire race and just flying home, he lost to Lazarus,” Litvinsky continued. “I was like, ‘this is something special.’ I got a group together and we told the agent we would buy the horse and we were OK with him racing three more times for the old owner and we would get the horse afterwards.” Havefaithinme finished last in his next three starts in the Group 1 Inter Dominion Grand Final Dec. 8, the Group 2 Village Kid Pace Dec. 29, and the Group 1 Western Australia Pacing Cup Jan. 19, 2018 before shipping to Blindswitch’s stable in Montgomery, N.Y. However, Litvinsky and trainer Jose Godinez soon discovered something was amiss. “I think he shipped within a week or two after the races. We brought him in, gave him a week off, and let him recoup himself after the travel,” Litvinsky said. “We took him for a jog, and he was dead lame, dead lame. We brought him back in and in the next day or two, we X-rayed his back leg and he had a pretty bad fracture in a hind leg.” Although the exact cause and timing of the injury remains a mystery, the fracture wasn’t fresh. “I sent the X-rays to our vet as well as Dr. Nutt and both of them basically said it was an old fracture, that it was already calcifying,” Litvinsky said. “If it was something that happened within the flight, it would have been fresh. It might have happened during his last three races in Australia.” Dr. Nutt repaired Havefaithinme’s leg with three screws. Although the injury wasn’t life-threatening, the surgeon gave the horse a 60 to 70 percent chance of returning to the races. Although Litvinsky praises Dr. Nutt for his work and friendship throughout the process, the ordeal soured what should have been an exciting venture with an imported champion. “It was frustrating when you find out it happened prior to him shipping. Was it just an honest mistake? We tried to get the money back, but basically, buyer beware,” Litvinsky said. “We didn’t vet the horse after his last few races. The vet report was before those races, so we really should have vetted him out again, but that’s hindsight. Luckily, he’s just an amazing horse and he was able to rebound from an injury like that.” After four months off, Havefaithinme began training back. He qualified twice at Pocono Downs in Sept. 2018, finishing second and first clocked in 1:56 and 1:53.2, respectively with final quarters of :27.1 in both trials. “It was scary. You don’t want to see him break down or hurt himself. Watching his qualifier, just hoping that he comes out OK and doesn’t fall down during the race,” Litvinsky said. “Usually, you aren’t that nervous during a qualifier, but for him, it was almost like a race. He was super, he brushed and came home in :27.1. Just incredible, he’s an amazing horse.” Havefaithinme went 1-for-9 last year, his lone win coming in a $23,000 overnight at Yonkers Oct. 30. After a brief freshening over the holidays into January, Havefaithinme found his best form this year. Havefaithinme returned with a victory in a $29,000 overnight at Yonkers Feb. 9 and posted a win in Saratoga’s pacing feature the Feb. 18. After hitting the board in three straight starts, Havefaithinme posted three consecutive wins in April before taking on top competition in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono Downs May 18. Although he finished sixth in his first attempt in the series, Havefaithinme finished second to None Bettor in 1:49.2 after a pocket trip June 22. “He chased None Bettor when None Bettor was super sharp, just missing by a neck at Pocono in one of the Great Northeast Open Series legs. He’s just that type of horse. He gives it all, doesn’t matter who he’s racing against,” Litvinsky said. Havefaithinme’s remarkable comeback continued throughout the summer as he earned three more victories in overnights at Yonkers and Pocono. He’s raced at Yonkers exclusively in his last eight starts, finishing second in the Open Handicap twice and posting victories in the $35,000 Preferred in two of his last three starts. “He’s just one of those horses that likes to win. Whenever you pull him up and a horse comes up next to him that looks like he’s going to pass him outside, he just won’t let anybody pass. He just goes into another gear when he sees another horse come up to him,” Litvinsky said. “He knows. He won’t give up that lead. In Australia, he didn’t race on the front a lot, but over here on the front end he’s a monster. If he’s 100 percent, no one’s passing him, I don’t care who it is. “He’s also the sweetest horse. He’s like a dog,” Litvinsky continued. “My son goes up and pets him and kisses him and gives him love. It’s an extra bonus of having a super horse on the track and also in the barn. He just does everything right.” Havefaithinme will start from post five in Saturday’s pacing feature. Jason Bartlett drove in Havefaithinme’s two Preferred wins and takes the call again. The pair are 7-2 on the morning line. New Zealand-bred Bettor’s Fire returns to the Hilltop after two front-stepping wins in the Plainridge Park feature November 7 and 14. Ron Cushing drives the 11-year-old gelding for Heidi Gibbs. The third New Zealand import in the field, Saying Grace, won three straight in the Open ranks at Hoosier Park before shipping in to finish second to Jack’s Legend here Nov. 16. The Jeff Cullipher trainee was also on the lead in his prior two races. Ron Burke will send out Windsong Leo, who has led at every call in each of his last three starts at the Meadows and Dover, but drew post eight in his first local start since the Levy Series. Fine Diamond, Mac’s Jackpot, The Real One, and The Wall complete the lineup. “There’s good horses and it’s probably his last race before getting turned out. He’s going to go to Chris Coyle’s (Olive Branch Farm) in North Carolina, probably after this race. He’s probably getting a little tired,” Litvinsky said. “It’s the Open, anything can happen. It’s wide open, I just trust Bartlett will do the right thing and hopefully Havefaithinme has another one in him and hope for the best. Honestly, whatever happens, I’m grateful for an amazing season from him.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through December 17. First post time is 6:50 p.m. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, November 27, 2019-- With Aqueduct having scrapped its holiday card due to anticipated inclement weather (wind), Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, Nov. 28th) simulcasting. Del Mar had previously cancelled its Thursday program. Daytime simulcasting is scheduled to resume Friday (Nov 29th), with live racing set to return Saturday evening (Nov. 30th). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway    

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 23, 2019--'Twas a pair of Yonkers Raceway $35,000 Preferred Handicaps highlighting the Saturday harness racing night (Nov. 23rd) soiree. Stormy Kromer (Brent Holland, $36.80) edged past Will Take Charge (Jordan Stratton) in the week's marquee trot, snapping that one in a season's-best 1:54. The latter retook from the eventual winner, throwing down subsections of :27.3, :57 and 1:25.2 while Top Flight Angel (Eric Goodell) offered a weak, first-up bid. Will Take Charge owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but was unable to close the sale for the second week in a row. Stormy Kromer--from post position No. 5--eased out and by, the margin a neck. Lean Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr.) was a best-of-the-rest third, with Swansea (Austin Siegelman) and 17-10 choice Melady's Monet (George Brennan) settling for the small change. For sixth choice Stormy Kromer, a 5-year-old Dejarmbro gelding owned by Tom Ceraso Jr. and trained by Paul Stafford, it was his eighth win in 35 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $123.50, the triple returned $1,193 and the superfecta paid $13,076 (base $2 payout). The weekly adult-table pace saw odds-on fave Jack's Legend N (Jason Bartlett, $3) get the memo just in time. Assigned outside his five rivals, he floated from the gate, but landed only fifth as The Wall (Brennan) rolled intervals of :27.4; :56.3 and 1:24. The one had a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn, with San Domino A (Holland) pocketed and The Real One (Pat Lachance) pacing in place first-up from third. All the while, Jack's Legend N was lagging to catch his tow, then went wide. The Wall fought the good fight, but the people's preference did get there, winning by a half-length in a life-best 1:51.2. The Real One, San Domino A and invading Tookadiveoffdipper (Stratton) picked off the remainder,                                                                                       --Mike Lizzi photo For Jack's Legend N, a 5-year-old Down Under Bettor's Delight gelding co-owned by (trainer) Richard Banca, Barbara & James Boese, it was his sixth win in 10 '19 tries. The exacta paid $11.60, the triple returned $31.40 and the superfecta paid $51. Special Saturday props to venerable vets Somewhere in L A (Bartlett, $16) and Bit of a Legend N (Stratton, ), who were a nose apart in the $22,000, 11th-race pace (1:52.1). That was a now 44-time winner ($1,799,046) just holding off a 53-time winner ($2,562,871) with a combined 328 career starts.   Frank Drucker Manager of Publicity Yonkers

YONKERS, NY--The 2019 CKG Billings Amateur Driving Harness Racing Series is now in the books after $25,000 Gold Cup Championship Finals in the series Midwest and Eastern regions. Last night at The Meadows Kelly "Sky" Walker emerged victorious with Keystone Blade in the Midwest final and tonight at Yonkers Raceway Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford scored with Blasco in the East Regional finale. Both Billings Gold Cup finals were contested at a distance of 1-1/4 mile. Keystone Blade was victorious in 2:30 while Blasco scored in 2:29.1. Unlike last night's Gold Cup Final where the winner returned a $38.60 mutuel Oldford's trotter was second choice in the wagering and paid $6.10. In tonight's contest Oldford hustled Blasco to the lead from the two-hole and was in front when he passed the first quarter in :28.2. But as they trotted beyond the quarter pole Oldford, still on the pylons, opened up some daylight which allowed Minore to settle a parked Wygant Prince in behind him. As Blasco showed the way by the half mile pole "Yankee Joe" Lee moved the favorite, Inukchuk Chuck to the outside from far back and began moving up but he had to go three- deep as they neared the three quarter pole to get around Wygant Prince. Still in charge Blasco was a length to the good when he passed the one- mile marker in 1:59:3. And through the lane despite constant urging by Joe Lee, Inukchuk Chuck couldn't make up any ground on the leader and finished second , 1-1/2 lengths behind Blasco. Wygant Prince held on for the show dough. Oldford had qualified his trotter Utopia for the Midwest Gold Cup Final but they finished off the board. However, they more than made up for that with a gutsy win by Blasco in tonight's East Region Gold Cup Final. Blasco is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Ethan Cisco. Although there is no award for best trotter in the BIllings Series one could easily nominate the Nick Surick-trained, Inukchuk Chuk. The veteran trotter won five Billings trots this year with four different drivers: Sofia Zingale, Tyler Miller, Kiara Morgan and two wins by Hannah Miller.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 22, 2019-- Yonkers Raceway graded the distaff derby on a curve Friday night (Nov. 22nd), going with a brisk $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace for the harness racing ladies. It was Robyn Camden (Jim Marohn Jr., $16.20) getting the better of Lady Dela Renta A (Jordan Stratton) and 25-1 Cabowabocuttie (Eric Goodell) in a cavalcade of closers, the teletimer doing its thing in 1:55.4 At the outset, 4-5 fave Write Me a Song (George Brennan) found the lead, working around Sudden Change N (Austin Siegelman) before a :26.4 opening quarter mile. Then, Kaitlyn N (Jason Bartlett) grabbed the baton, parked into the second turn for the privilege. It was a :55.3 intermission before Shady Caroline (Matt Kakaley) took out of fourth, challenging in and out of the 1:25.3 three-quarters. She towed in Cabowabocutie while our heroine, Robyn Camden, was third-over from assigned post position No. 4. They had to get to Kaitlyn N and her length-and-a-quarter leader into the lane. They did. Cabowabocuttie grabbed the first lead, but Robyn Camden was about to go by. 'Robyn' then held the late threat of a cone-extricating Lady Dela Renta A at bay, the final margin three-quarters of a length. A last-to-fourth Clear Idea (Joe Bongiorno) and a tiring Kaitlyn N settled for the minors. For third choice Robyn Camden, a 4-year-old daughter of Art Professor owned by Jason O'Sullivan and trained by Rene Allard, it was her 12th win in 27 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $103, the triple returned $783 and the superfecta paid $3,717. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Yonkers, NY--As the NAADA Trotting Series third seasonal program nears its finale a short field went to post on Thursday night (Nov. 21) at Yonkers Raceway and a jubilant Miguel Alejo-Hernandez emerged victorious with Tropical Trice in a time of 2:01.1 defeating four others--due to late scratches- in the $8000 event which went to post prior to the first race on the betting card. And to say that Alejo-Hernandez was happy would be a gross understatement since it was his first-ever driving victory. And he was overwhelmed by a great congratulatory reception his competitors gave him in the paddock after the race. A member of the Rob Harmon stable operation Alejo-Hernandez eased his pacer away from the starting gate and settled in the four-hole as Joe Faraldo and Muzzys Muscles showed the way by the firstquarter in a soft :29.2. Comfortable on the lead Faraldo was in charge until late in the mile when Blazin Delores (Brett Beckwith) and Tony Verruso with Starsaboveallerage came calling. But Faraldo's charge rebuffed their challenges and he felt he was home free. But, by his own admission, he never saw the late rally on the far outside as Alejo-Hernandez had Tropical Trice in high gear and when the finish-line photo snapped Tropical Trice was a head winner over Muzzys Muscles. Starsaboveallerage was third, a length and a half farther back. On Wednesday, Dec.4 the series consolation will be contested at Monticello Raceway and the $15,000 NAADA Series Three Final will be raced at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, Dec. 5 by John Manzi, for NAADA    

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 16, 2019--Swansea (Austin Siegelman, $19.20) and Jack's Legend N (Jason Bartlett, $3.90) proved to be the best Saturday night (Nov. 16th), winning Yonkers Raceway's pair of $42,000 Open Handicaps. Swansea rolled from second-over in the week's marquee harness racing trot, picking off a stubborn Will Take Charge (Jordan Stratton). From post position No. 5, he prevailed by a length in 1:55.1. Will Take Charge won the scrum for the lead, an early battle which included Emoticon Hanover (Dan Dube) jumping it off and 13-10 favorite Tight Lines (Bartlett) getting stuffed back into a three-hole after he tried quarter-moving. It was Will Take Charge laying down the law (:27.4, :57) before Pat Matters (Eric Goodell) took out of fourth. That one gave way grudgingly after a 1:25.4 three-quarters as the leader opened to a length-and-a-half entering the lane. Swansea then closed widest and fastest, edging away late. Will Take Charge held second over a closing Melady's Monet (George Brennan), with longshots Stormy Kromer (Brent Holland) and Arabella's Cadet (Jim Marohn Jr.) settling for the remainder. Tight Lines tired to seventh. For fifth choice Swansea, a 4-year-old Swan for All gelding co-owned by Dana Parham & Triples D Stables and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was his 13th win in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $195, the triple returned $1,332 and the superfecta paid $6,729. After pacing over and through adult-table rivals in his North American purse bow, Jack's Legend N--from post No. 5--was pocketed to Hoosierland invader Saying Grace N (Holland) . That locally-debut lad threw the gauntlet (:27.1, :55.4, 1:24.2) as the pair separated themselves from the rest of the gang. Jack's Legend N pulled early against his foe, who would not cooperate. The pursuer eventually did go by, the final margin a length-and-a-quarter in 1:52. Saying Grace N was more than four lengths in front of Runrunjimmydunn N (Stratton), with The Real One (Pat Lachance) and Western Joe (Goodell) along for the rest. For Jack's Legend N, a 5-year-old Down Under Bettor's Delight gelding co-owned by (trainer) Richard Banca, Barbara & James Boese, it was his fifth win in nine '19 tries. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $11.80, the triple returned $39.20 and the superfecta paid $256.50. Special Saturday props to the soon-to-be-retiring Bit of a Legend N (Stratton, $3.30), who won the $20,000, ninth-race pace going away (1:54.3) for a 53rd career victory by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 15, 2019 -- With not a distaff derby in sight a harness racing Friday night (Nov. 15th), Yonkers Raceway offered $22,000 tri-features. Using some editorial discretion, we went with the trotters. Odds-on favorite Icanflylikeanangel (Jason Bartlett, $3.30) has no issues whatsoever. From post position No. 5, he worked around Majestic Brayden (Joe Bongiorno), making the lead before a :28.1 opening quarter-mile. From, there, it was a :58.2 intermission and 1:27 three-quarters, with pole-sitting Lord Cromwell (Matt Kakaley) not getting close first-up from third. Icanflylikeanangel owned a length-and-three-quarter lead into the lane, needing only to hold off his immediate stalker. He did, defeating Majestic Brayden by a couple of lengths in 1:55.2. Third went to Lord Cromwell, sharing the minors with Sumatra (George Brennan) and I'm the Muscle (Dan Dube). For Icanflylikeanangel, a 5-year-old Archangel gelding co-owned by Pollack Racing & Randy Bendis and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was his fifth win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $31, the triple returned $90 and the superfecta paid $332. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Nov. 16th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,858.09 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 Saturday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Saturday’s Pick 5 program pages accompany this release.       YR Sat., 11-16-19 P5 program pages.pdf 212K View as HTML Download BY FRANK DRUCKER Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, November 13, 2019--Yonkers Raceway has added Saturday night, Nov. 30th, to its live harness racing calendar, with the usual first post of 6:50 PM. This schedule addition, approved by the New York State Gaming Commission, replaces an earlier program which had been cancelled. The Raceway's Thanksgiving week schedule now reads Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 25th and 26th), along with the aforementioned Saturday. Evening simulcasting continues around the live schedule, while afternoon simulcasting is offered Wednesday through Sunday (altered for NYRA race days). A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Thursday evening's (Nov. 14th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $5,379.14 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 6 through 10 Thursday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Tuesday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 9, 2019--Former all-age harness racing track record-holder The Real One (Pat Lachance, $13.40) stuck his tongue out at the wire Saturday night (Nov. 9th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $42,000 Open Handicap Pace. Third-over from assigned post position No. 4, The Real One was sixth--then fifth--when he bid in earnest. He snapped a first-over Dancin' Dragon (George Brennan) in 1:53, with Runrunjimmydunn N (Jordan Stratton) tiring to third after intervals of :26.4, :55.2 and 1:24. It was Theartofconfusion A (Dan Dube) and 8-5 choice Jack's Legend N (Jason Bartlett) settling for the minors. The latter, making a North American purse debut after four qualifiers, was caught third in turning for home before knifing through while pacing over rivals. For fourth choice The Real One, a 9-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by his chauffeur for owner Helene Filion, it was his fifth win in 23 seasonal starts (career 52-for-205, $1,229,688). The exacta paid $54.50, the triple returned $129.50 and the superfecta paid $470.50.   By FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director

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