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Yonkers, NY—The Billings is back. After being sidelined all last year because of the Corona virus the granddaddy of all amateur harness racing series made its seasonal debut at Yonkers Raceway tonight (Jan. 21) with two $6000 non-wagering divisions that were contested prior to the betting card getting underway with familiar names and newcomers participating. The first division was won by newcomer “Steady Jake” Stillwell with Dark Pool in a 2:01.3 clocking while the second split saw veteran amateur reinsman Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff guide Pound Sterling to an easy victory in a 1:59.4 clocking. In his division Stillwell got away in third position and then moved to the front before the half mile timer tripped 1:01.3. Once in command Stillwell played catch me if you can and not surprisingly no one could as Dark Pool rambled on to an oh-so-easy four-length triumph in a time of 2:01.3.. Noble Warrawee and Mike Polansky chased the winner home for second money while “Yankee Joe “Lee garnered the show dough with Can Do. It must have been a thrill for Stillwell since this was his first lifetime driving victory. The winning horse was the 8-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall who is owned by Barry Franklin and trained by Paul Fusco. In the other split Hechkoff' sent Pound Sterling to the front when the wings of the mobile gate folded and the veteran 8-year old Muscle Hill gelding put it on cruise control and made every pole a winning one en route to a 2-length victory in a time of 1:59.4. If I Must, driven by "Coach Paul” Minore, started in second place early but couldn't make up any ground and finished second. Third place went to Chas Hanover who was driven “Mighty Marianna” Monaco. With the season just getting started and lots of room to add events the next Billings trot will once again be at Yonkers Raceway on February 4. Anyone interested in joining the Billings Series can do so by contacting the series president Tony “the Capo” Verruso by calling 917-697-8985.   John Manzi

Following a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic obliterated the stakes schedule at Yonkers Raceway, MGM Resorts has reinstated a full slate of harness racing Grand Circuit races for 2021, anchored by a pair of Triple Crown events occupying a new slot on the calendar. Held in late August/early September the last few years, the $300,000 (GTD) MGM Yonkers Trot and $300,000 (GTD) MGM Grand Messenger Pace Stakes finals for 3-year-olds shift to July 2 on the calendar in 2021. Eliminations for both Triple Crown events will be conducted on June 25, along with filly counterpart races - Park MGM Pace and New York-New York Mile - that culminate with $125,000 (Est.) finals on the first Friday in July. The change in scheduling for the Yonkers Trot and Messenger coincides with a move of major stakes for 3-year-olds at The Downs at Pocono from Fourth of July weekend to the end of August. The races are now the first legs of the Triple Crown on both gaits. "With all the setbacks and difficulty 2020 saw, we're excited to get all of these important stakes races back onto the calendar for 2021," said Alex Dadoyan, Director of Racing at Yonkers Raceway. The popular MGM Borgata and Blue Chip Matchmaker Pacing Series are both back in their usual calendar locations for 2021, though Monday is the new Saturday at Yonkers, and the day when the best pacers on the grounds will compete. The Borgata, for older male pacers, kicks off its first of five $40,000 (GTD) legs on Monday, March 15. The Blue Chip Matchmaker also offers a handful of preliminary legs. Worth $35,000 (GTD) each, the series launches on Friday, March 12. The top eight point-earners in each series will convene on Monday, April 19 for a pair of six-figure added-money finals, with the subsequent eight earners in the series' taking part in the $75,000 (GTD - Borgata) and $60,000 (GTD - Matchmaker) consolations. Stakes season officially begins at Yonkers on Tuesday, March 2 with the M Life Ladies Pacing Series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares. The male companion event starts one night later on Wednesday. Both events offer three legs with $15,000 (GTD) purses and culminate with added-money finals and guaranteed consolations on March 23 and 24, respectively. The John Brennan Trotting Series (formerly the SOA Bonus Trot), honoring the memory of the long-time Yonkers Raceway paddock representative, starts on March 31 with the first of three legs for 3-year-olds and up who are Non-winners of 6 races and/or $100,000 lifetime through February 1. An added-money final and $30,000 (GTD) consolation is scheduled for Wednesday, April 21. The Reynolds Pace for 3-year-old colts and fillies also joins the stakes calendar at Yonkers on May 7. Finally, July 9 and 16 offer eliminations and the final of the $100,000 (Est.) MGM Springfield Stakes for 2-year-olds. Nomination blanks for the Borgata, Matchmaker, M Life, Brennan and Springfield series can be found here. Information on the Yonkers Trot and Messenger can be found on the Hambletonian Society's website. Yonkers Raceway offers live racing Monday through Friday with a first-race post-time of 7:15 PM. For more information, click here. Yonkers Raceway Media    

Alexa Skye came to Yonkers Raceway with four straight harness racing victories and left having made it five in-a-row, taking Thursday night's featured $30,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace in impressive fashion. The 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere stopped the teletimer in 1:52 flat.   Driven by Todd McCarthy, Alexa Skye left quickly from post three and cleared Feelin Red Hot (George Brennan) for the lead prior to the 27 4/5 opening quarter. Alexa Skye, who was the 8-5 second choice, was well-rated to the half, posting that fraction in 56 3/5, and then picked up the tempo to 1:24 2/5 at three-quarters as New Zealand imports Seaswift Joy (Andrew McCarthy) and Bettors Heart (Jason Bartlett) began to advance first-up and second-over, respectively.   On the far turn Seaswift Joy was able to drop into the pocket as Feelin Red Hot retreated, leaving Bettors Heart to try and close in two-wide through the stretch drive. Alexa Skye would have none of that, though, as she finished strongly through the lane, widening late to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths. Bettors Heart, who was the 3-2 choice, was the runner-up, and Seaswift Joy held third over a rallying Siesta Beach (Scott Zeron).   Brett Pelling trains Alexa Skye for owners Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and John Lengacher. Prior to tonight, Alexa Skye won two overnight races at the Meadowlands in December, then slid over to Freehold Raceway where she went from last at the half to first at the wire in two editions of their Fillies and Mares Preferred Handicap on December 26 and January 1. Alexa Skye, who returned $5.50 to win, now has a record of 11-4-1 from 31 career tries, and she has earned $131,140. The Alexa Skye-Bettors Heart exacta paid $12.40 and the 3-5-4 trifecta kicked back $21.20.   In other wagering developments during the card, the $1 Pick 6 paid $1,572.20 for the combination of 8/2/3/5/3/3 and the 50-cent Pick 5 of 3/5/3/3/3 returned $324.25. Those two wagers, along with the Pick 4, feature a reduced takeout rate of 20 percent for 2021.   Live racing at Yonkers Raceway resumes Friday night at 7:15, and the schedule continues on a Monday-Friday basis throughout the year.   Yonkers Raceway

New Zealand harness racing import Let It Ride improved his record since coming to the United States to six-for-six with a 1:52.1 victory from post position eight in the $30,000 Open Handicap Pace on Monday night at Yonkers Raceway as the 2021 meet kicked off.   Let It Ride had regular pilot Dexter Dunn at the controls, and Dunn floated away from the outside draw, landing a seat in sixth in the first turn. Meanwhile, Bettor Memories (George Brennan) shot out to the lead from the pole position and cut the opening quarter in 27 seconds. Bettor Memories would continue to show the way to the 56.3 half-mile marker, but Hesa Kingslayer (Jim Marohn Jr.), another New Zealand-bred, went first-over from fifth just prior to that marker, giving Let It Ride cover to track.   Bettor Memories remained in the lead at the 1:24.3 three-quarters and was able to keep Hesa Kingslayer at bay around the far turn as well, but Dunn turned Let It Ride loose three-wide before they entered the stretch, and he would out-finish his competition while not asked by Dunn, winning by a comfortable length. Speed Man, a Kiwi transplant driven by Scott Zeron, slid out off the cones to follow Let It Ride after three-quarters and wound up closing for second at 99-1, while Hesa Kingslayer came in third, giving the race an all-New Zealand trifecta.     An 8-year-old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven and out of the Bettor's Delight mare Love A Gamble, Let It Ride is trained by Nifty Norman for owner Enzed Racing Stable Inc. Let It Ride, who was a two-time Group 1 race winner in Australia in 2018, has a record of 24-6-8 from 60 career starts and has now earned $375,959. He paid $2.20 to win as the 1-9 favorite. The exacta with Speed Man kicked back $61.50, and the trifecta of 8-3-5 was worth $129.50.   On the wagering front, the first edition of the new $1 Pick 6 at Yonkers had a pool of $2,839, and the sequence of 1/1/2/1,2/8/5 returned $355.50. The 50-cent Pick 5 handled $13,964, and the winning combination of 2/1,2/8/5/1 paid $122.00. As a reminder, the takeout on the Pick 4’s, Pick 5’s, and Pick 6’s at Yonkers is now 20 percent.   Racing at Yonkers will resume on Tuesday night with first post at 7:15, and the track will continue on a Monday-Friday schedule throughout 2021.     Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Australian import Let It Ride will make his Yonkers Raceway debut in the featured $30,000 open handicap pace on Opening Night (Jan. 11). The move to the Hilltop comes after the Rock N Roll Heaven gelding took a Meadowlands preferred/open handicap in such style as to garner praise like, “he really amazed me,” from harness racing trainer Nifty Norman. In that start Jan. 2, driver Dexter Dunn slotted Let It Ride into seventh after starting from post nine as Harambe Deo ripped an opening quarter in :26.1. Let It Ride followed the second-over cover of Rock Diamonds and drew within 4 lengths of the lead as Harambe Deo blitzed a :53.2 half-mile. Dunn tipped Let It Ride three-deep at the midway point of the final turn and the pacer rocketed into contention.  Under a tight hold, Let It Ride angled into the stretch on even-terms with Harambe Deo. Dunn took a glimpse over his right shoulder and saw rival Hesa Kingslayer, who followed Let It Ride third-over, still 2 lengths behind and under urging. Dunn gave a few whip taps and pulled the plugs at the furlong marker. Let It Ride didn’t let up, extending through the finish line to cap the mile with a :26.1 final quarter and stopping the clock in 1:48.1, just one-fifth of a second of Golden Receiver’s record January mile at the Meadowlands in 2012. “You just don’t see an 8-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven come from Down Under and do this sort of thing,” Norman said. “I was hoping he was a winners over type of horse. He’d been a classy old horse, but he hadn’t been very good for a couple years. He trained down good, he qualified good, every start has been good. But his last race was unbelievable. He just seems like he’s getting better all the time, too.” Bred in New Zealand, Let It Ride won his first four starts at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club for trainer Tim Butt with Dunn in the sulky from Feb. 10, 2017 to March 31, 2017. Over the next year, Let It Ride went unplaced in four Group 1 races in his home country, but found better luck in Australia.  Let It Ride won six straight races at Tabcorp Park Menangle and Albion Park between May 26, 2018 and July 21, 2018, including a pair of Group 1 stakes in the AU$100,000 New South Wales Breeders Challenge Four-Year-Old Entires and Geldings Final, in which he paced the mile in 1:49.4, and the AU$200,540 Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship over 2,680 meters with Dunn driving.  After that Blacks A Fake win, which saw Let It Ride explode out of the pocket to win by 5 lengths, the brilliance seemed to fade. Let It Ride won just three of his next 27 starts through Sept. 26, 2020. Tim and Anthony Butt, longtime friends of Norman, thought the horse would benefit from Lasix and a deal was made to export the horse to the U.S. “Basically, I think putting him on Lasix turned him around,” Norman said. “We didn’t do a lot with him. His feet were a little sore, we changed his shoeing, put him on Lasix, and that was that. He’s such a good-winded horse. He must have a big set of lungs because he never seems to get tired. Nothing bothers him.” Let It Ride was cleared to the U.S. Oct. 5, 2020 and made an impression as soon as he arrived in Norman’s stable. Norman says Let It Ride is easy to be around, is a simple horse to train, and describes him as a gentleman. “He’s a grand looking horse. He’s a big, strong fellow. He’s got a great, big hind end on him and he’s in great shape,” Norman said. “He looks after himself really well. He’s got a good coat and always carries lots of weight. He’s a good-looking horse and good-natured, good to be around. He doesn’t do anything wrong. He’s a real nice horse.” Let It Ride was ready to qualify in short order and did so at Harrah’s Philadelphia Nov. 11, 2020 with assistant trainer Scott Petherick in the bike. Off a pocket trip, Let It Ride came home in :27.2 to post a 2-length win in 1:55.1. From there, Let It Ride ran up a five-race win streak culminating with that “amazing” Meadowlands win Jan. 2. Dunn drove in each pari-mutuel start. “Scotty qualified him and he said, ‘jeeze, this is the real deal. He’s strong as hell.’ Once we raced him a couple times – and we just raced him off the pace to see how he would be – Dexter came back and said, ‘this thing is a bull,’ ” Norman recalled. “I said, ‘it would be great if I could get him back to where he used to be.’ He said, ‘I think he’s there already. He feels better than he ever did when I drove him.’ I felt pretty good after he said that.” Let It Ride will start from an assigned post eight in his first start at Yonkers, which will also be his first race on a half-mile, or 800-meter, track. Let It Ride spent most of his time in Australia on the 1,400-meter oval at Tabcorp Park Menangle and got several starts over various tracks measuring approximately 1,000 meters.  Let It Ride got one start each over the 946-meter track at Cranbourne and the 931-meter track at Newcastle, which approximate the U.S. half-mile oval. In addition, Norman trains Let It Ride on the half. Norman opted to come to Yonkers before nominating Let It Ride to the Borgata Pacing Series, which closes Feb. 16, 2021. “We’ll see how he handles a half-mile track. I don’t think that will be a big challenge; I think he’ll get around it fine. We’ll just have to see how it goes,” Norman said. “I really wasn’t worried about what he drew, I just wanted to see how he’ll get around Yonkers. I don’t think he’ll be as well-suited to it, I think he’ll be better-suited to the big track, but I just wanted to see how he got around it before I pay him into the stakes races. “He’s a big horse, big hopple,” Norman continued. “He drives pretty good, but some horses just can’t find their speed on a half-mile track. But he seems to pace the turns really good wherever he goes. I don’t think he’ll have an issue.” With Dunn set to drive again, Let It Ride is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The competition includes Hesa Kingslayer, the Mike Deters trainee who finished second in this open handicap Dec. 12, 2020 and won a preferred handicap from post eight at Freehold Dec. 26, 2020 before finishing second to Let It Ride last out. Hesa Kingslayer and Jim Marohn, Jr. will start from post five and are 3-1 on the morning line. Ron Burke will send out Bettor Memories, who will start from the inside after scoring a 1:50.4 pocket-riding victory in the Meadows $16,200 open handicap Dec. 29, 2020. George Brennan will drive the 3-1 shot.  San Domino overcame post seven to score a 1:52.3, 4 1/2-length victory in this open handicap for trainer Deborah Daguet in his last start Dec. 12, 2020. He will start from post seven again tonight with Jason Bartlett set to drive.  Western Fame won two in a row in the local conditions in late November before getting parked the mile as the 7-5 favorite in his open debut for Shane Tritton. Jordan Stratton will look for a cleaner trip with the 8-year-old tonight. Tookadiveoffdipper and Raukapuka Ruler, third and fourth, respectively, in the invitational pace for Borgata Series eligibles Nov. 28, and Speed Man, 35-1 winner of this open Nov. 21, complete the lineup. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday through Friday with a first post time of 7:15 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

On This Weeks Harness Racing Alumni Show;   How Yonkers Raceway and the New York Yankees came to be   Yonkers Raceway & the New York Yankees is the captivating story told by Freddie Hudson, host of the Harness Racing Alumni Show this week.   It's an interesting, historical scenario of how Yonkers Raceway was born.   Learn intimate details about the founder/builder William H Clarke and how the creation of Yonkers Raceway led to his financial ruin and his untimely death.   Also, in this story, find out how a half mile harness track oval's 'twist of fate' led to the birth of the legendary New York Yankees baseball team.   Don't miss this exciting broadcast...!!!   Listen to "HARNESS RACING ALUMNI SHOW Yonkers Story 1- 7 - 21" on Spreaker.      

While it does not alter the SOA’s concerns about horse and driver safety at Yonkers I have now been told that the horse was not euthanized as previously reported to me and indeed may recover from his injury. The horse’s condition is being monitored. Thankfully, the initial assessment was upgraded. The owner rejected euthanizing him and the horse is presently wearing a cast of some sort. While that is some consolation, it only indicates that we thankfully missed a bullet at Yonkers, but these conditions cannot go on and there must be consequences. Joe Faraldo, President SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – When New Zealand-bred harness racing pacers Mighty Santana and Hesa Kingslayer arrived in Mike Deters’ stable this summer, the former fit the mold of a typical Deters trainee: a great big, strapping, good-looking horse. Then there was the latter. Take a walk through Deters stable and he might stand out to you. “Hesa Kingslayer is quite well-built, but not very big,” Deters said. “I was actually kind of nervous about it. I said, ‘oh boy, we could be in trouble here.’ ”  By Christian Cullen out of the Bettor’s Delight mare Millwood Manhattan, Hesa Kingslayer raced for the first time as a 4-year-old, finishing third in a NZ$10,700 maiden for Greg and Nina Hope at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club May 4, 2018. Hesa Kingslayer then won two straight races Timaru and Invcargill. He won his first Metro race Aug. 17, 2018, but never rose to the free for all ranks in New Zealand. Hesa Kingslayer went to Australia in mid-2019 and continued to improve. He won nine of 14 starts on the continent, including three wins at Gloucester Park. His final Down Under start came May 22, 2020. “We bought him from an agent named Frank Rinaldi. He said this horse could be a diamond in the rough. He said he would need work, but he thought he could be helped and he might be a very good horse,” Deters said. “My partner, Joel Warner, and I took a shot on him. I watched a bunch of his races and he had a big motor. That’s what intrigued us about him.”  Mighty Santana after winning the Gore Cup in New Zealand (Bruce Stewart Photo) Both Mighty Santana and Hesa Kingslayer were cleared to the United States Aug. 3, 2020. Deters gave the horses all the time they needed. “We got him the first week of August and I turned him out for a few weeks and we started a slow grind to get him ready,” Deters said. “These are actually the first horses I’ve imported myself, and the agent recommended that if you give them some time, you’re far better off. And that’s what we did.” Before starting serious work with Hesa Kingslayer, a few kinks needed to be worked out. The gelding had bad feet that needed correcting. He had also lost significant weight on his long journey.  “He is a really nice horse to be around, nice horse to work around,” Deters said. “We were able to do some corrective shoeing on him and take care of his stomach and turn him into a really nice horse.” Hesa Kingslayer qualified at Hoosier Park Oct. 7. With Trace Tetrick in the bike, Hesa Kingslayer gunned straight to the lead and peeled away by 3 3/4-lengths to win in 1:54.1 with a :27.2 final quarter. He hasn’t seen the front end since, and probably won’t for some time. “We knew he was very, very fast, but could be a little hot. We had a game plan that leaving with this horse is probably not a good idea,” Deters said. “Trace Tetrick qualified him and said he was pretty warm. I train him by himself. He’s fine by himself, but when he saw the starting gate, he activated.” Hesa Kingslayer finished eighth in his first Stateside pari-mutuel start Oct. 17 with Peter Wrenn in the bike. Then, he finished second at 41-1 in his next start Oct. 23, pacing home with a :25.4 final quarter under Tim Tetrick’s encouragement. “My brother-in-law dove him his first start and he was hot, hot, hot, hot and he was able to duck him,” Deters said. “Then Tim Tetrick drove him the next week and he said, ‘I wouldn’t leave with this horse for a year.’ We’ve been ducking him and he always thunders home. No matter where he’s at, he’s charging at the wire. That will be the game plan for a while.” Hesa Kingslayer won his next two races, a $16,500 second division of the open pace at Hoosier Park Nov. 6 and the $18,000 open Nov. 13, in which he took a lifetime mark of 1:50.1. In his final Hoosier Park start in the open pace Nov. 20, Hesa Kingslayer utilized a :25.1 final quarter to come from 15 1/4 lengths behind to nab second. While the rest of Deters’ stable shipped to Florida for the winter following the Hoosier Park meet, Hesa Kingslayer and Mighty Santana went to Chris Freck at White Birch Farm for a Yonkers campaign.  “The purse money is one thing. A lot of those Australian and New Zealand horses are better in cooler weather. And I have a couple other open pacers at Pompano and you can only have so many of them at one location or it doesn’t work out. I think it was potentially a good move. At least the little horse is adapting to Yonkers quite well,” Deters said. Hesa Kingslayer made his Yonkers debut in the $30,000 open handicap pace Dec. 5. In that start, driver Jim Marohn, Jr. took Hesa Kingslayer back into fifth early and watched as Tookadiveoffdipper, Hot Deuce, Rock Diamonds, and Western Fame all vied for the lead. With those four still charging three-wide to the quarter and covered only 2 lengths through a :26.3 opening panel, Hesa Kingslayer bided his time. Tookadiveoffdipper parked Western Fame through a half-mile in :54.1. While San Domino slid out of sixth to join the flow third-over, Marohn stuck to the pylons with Hesa Kingslayer. Up the backstretch, San Domino tipped three-wide and confronted the pacesetters, who had dueled each other into defeat. While San Domino struck the lead with a quarter-mile to race, Hesa Kingslayer was mired in traffic and shuffled to last. Hesa Kingslayer finally had open road at the midway point of the final turn with just over a furlong left to race. He circled everyone but San Domino, who had scampered away by 4 1/2 lengths.  “I thought he raced tremendous,” Deters said. “I would have liked to see him out third-over, I think he would have had an opportunity to win, but that’s a two-second call by the driver and he sat in and did what he had to do. When he finally shook free, he was pacing at the wire. I know he didn’t really come a better last quarter than anybody else in the race, but he went from zero in mid-turn and he shifted three-high and was really pacing at the wire. I was very, very happy with his performance.” Hesa Kingslayer drew post position four in the Saturday night (Dec. 19) open handicap pace in what will be just the 37th start in the 7-year-old’s career. Marohn will drive again and the pair are 6-1 on the morning line.  Their rivals include San Domino, last week’s winner who will start from the outside post again, and Ostro Hanover, who will start from post seven after winning this open Dec. 5 and finishing second in the $125,000 Invitational Pace for Borgata Series Eligibles Nov. 28.  The field also includes Hudson Phil, who was second to Ostro Hanover in this open Dec. 5, and Speed Man, who upset this open at 35-1 Nov. 21. Rock Diamonds, Bronx Seelster, and Raukapuka Ruler complete the lineup for the final pacing feature of the year at Yonkers. “I hope there’s action on the front. I don’t think there will be action like there was last week because that had to surprise everybody to see them going that kind of half,” Deters said. “I would like to see a fast tempo and see my horse coming second- or third-over and hopefully he’s charging at the wire.” First post time Saturday night is 7:12 p.m. Racing continues at Yonkers Monday (Dec. 21) and Tuesday (Dec. 22), closing night. The proposed racing schedule for January 2021 would see live harness racing return Jan. 11 and continue on a Monday – Wednesday schedule with first post time at 7:15 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers Raceway cancelled the remainder of the Friday night (Dec. 18) harness racing program after the first pari-mutuel race due to unsafe track conditions.  The cancellation followed a snowstorm that dumped more than a foot of snow on the half-mile oval late Wednesday night (Dec. 16) into Thursday morning (Dec. 17). The storm also forced the cancellation of the entire Thursday night card. However, the track called off the Thursday card at 9:10 a.m., well before the scheduled 7:12 p.m. first post. Friday’s game-time cancellation followed dozens of horses, caretakers, trainers, and drivers shipping in at considerable expense. Jordan Stratton, the chairperson of the SOA of NY’s driver’s committee and one of the track’s leading reinsman, commented that the surface was inconsistent.  “Some spots were frozen solid. Others were deep and slushy,” Stratton said after driving even-money favorite Gunpowder in the first race.  SOA of NY field representative Jimmy Marohn, Sr., who is responsible for communicating with the judges on behalf of the horsepeople, noted everyone was in agreement about cancelling as the track condition was deemed unraceable. The loss of Friday’s card is significant as it was one of only four programs left on the 2020 season, which had already been drastically reduced due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The SOA of NY has recently called into question the competency of the track superintendent employed by Yonkers Raceway and the adequacy of the manpower being allocated and materials being used to maintain the racing surface. “The situation is a mess and not conducive to a consistent, let alone safe, track surface,” SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo wrote in an opinion piece titled The Trackman Carousel in the organization’s Sept. 30, 2020 newsletter. Live racing is scheduled to resume Saturday night (Dec. 19) with a 7:12 p.m. first post.    By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Yonkers, NY-- It is often said that there are horses for courses. And if that's so, how about harness racing drivers for who are a perfect fit behind a certain horse. Case in point: Dawn Anderson and Take A Wish. For the second time in the past few weeks Ms Anderson and the 5-year-old Wishing Stone mare rallied to victory, this time with a come- from- behind triumph in the $15,000 NAADA Final at Yonkers Raceway on the cold Friday evening of December18. On Nov 11 the duo teamed-up for a 1:58:3 triumph in a NAADA leg, also at Yonkers Raceway. But their victory tonight was amazing in that they came from seventh ar the top of the Yonkers homestretch and then rallied to a going away one length triumph in the non-wagering contest that was held over from yesterday due to a heavy snowfall that besieged the northeast then. Before the race, previous leg winners DW's Revenge (Brett Beckwith), from post four, and Exarch (Tony Verruso) from the seven-hole, figured to be the ones to beat, on paper anyway. And when the gate sprung Exarch hustled right to the lead and had command by the first quarter in :29.4. However, young Beckwith moved DW's Revenge off the pylons as the field headed to the halfway point and they were second-over as the half mile timer flashed 1:01:2. As the pace quickened DW's Revenge showed the way by three-quarters in 1:30.3: with Exarch on his chinstrap on the inside. Meanwhile Take A Wish was languishing at the back of the pack but smartly Anderson used the inside route to rally her charge from seventh at the top of the stretch to a stunning come-from -behind triumph over DW's Revenge in a 2:01.3 clocking.Exarch held on for the show dough. Ms Anderson shares ownership of the winner with Steve Smith. It was Take A Wish's fourth seasonal triumph. by John Manzi for NAADA

YONKERS, N.Y. – Delaware-based harness racing trainer Dylan Davis’ name doesn’t appear in the Yonkers program regularly. Out of Davis’ 542 starters to date in 2020, only 17 of them have come at the Hilltop. When faced with a long ship each way and stiff competition, Davis wants to ensure that when he does make the trek, he is coming to win. “Personally, I love racing there, it’s just a matter of having the right class of horse,” Davis said. “It’s kind of hard for us to just take one horse all the way to Yonkers. If traffic is good, we can make it in four hours, but if we hit the George Washington Bridge at the wrong time, it can be a job. That’s why when I do come, I enter two, three, sometimes four at a time.” On Monday (Dec. 14), Davis will send just one horse to Yonkers Raceway: Dina Bolt, a New Zealand-bred 4-year-old gelding who made his U.S. debut a winning one in a $14,000 overnight here Nov. 30. Handled by Jordan Stratton, Dina Bolt raced in third under a strong hold in the first quarter as Scrappin Gold set the pace. Approaching the half, Stratton tugged on the right line and by the third turn, Dina Bolt ranged up to confront the leader. Scrappin Gold and Dina Bolt raced nose-to-nose up the backstretch and around the final turn. As they straightened away, Stratton simply struck the wheel disc once and Dina Bolt’s response was instantaneous. Dina Bolt’s stride quickened, and he put up 2 1/4 lengths on the field. He stopped the timer in 1:53.3 with a :28.3 final quarter over the sloppy racetrack. As far as Davis was concerned, it was a textbook first start. “Jordan did a great job with him. When I get them shipped over from Australia, I want them taken off the gate the first couple times just so they don’t get hot and they learn our style of racing,” Davis said. “Jordan did great, he sat him in until past the three-eighths and when he moved, it wasn’t like he brushed him or anything, he worked his way there. Jordan told me at the top of the stretch, he asked him to go and that was it.” Bred by Feek, Candy, and Nolan, Dina Bolt is by Bettor’s Delight out of Pullover Brown, an Armbro Operative mare who won three Group 1 stakes and two Group 2 stakes and earned NZ$332,265 between 2002 and 2004. Pullover Brown’s progeny include Dina Bolt’s full sister, Dina Brown, who has placed in multiple Grouped stakes and earned NZ$102,877 to date. Dina Bolt raced in the barn of top trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, finishing third on debut in the Group 2 Two-Year-Old Classic at Invercargill April 27, 2019. Dina Bolt’s next five starts included unplaced efforts in the Group 1 Two-Year-Old Emerald and the Group 1 Sire Stakes Final, both at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club. Dina Bolt scored his first win in an Auckland Trotting Club maiden Dec. 3, 2019 and doubled up in his next start there 11 days later. After another overnight win Feb. 28, 2020 and two more unplaced stakes efforts in March, Dina Bolt shipped to Australia. He won three overnight races and placed in another three between Aug. 11 and Sept. 22 before Mike Casalino, Jr., who co-owns Dina Bolt with Davis, identified the prospect. “My partner Mike Casalino, he does most of the searching for the Down Under horses,” Davis said. “I do look at their lines and their replays. Watching the replays, I know what I want to look for in a horse. I watched quite a few of his videos. He looked over there like a very handy horse. “Something that sticks out in my memory, I watched three or four races of his and he was racing from the back or from the outer tier,” Davis recalled. “Then, all the sudden, he had an outside post and the driver sent him out of there and he crossed right over to the lead. I was like, ‘woah, I like that,’ a lot of versatility being able to do it both ways.” Once Dina Bolt arrived in Delaware, Davis saw all the usual attributes of a Bettor’s Delight son. “He’s awesome. He’s a lot of fun, he’s got a great personality, he plays. Even though he’s a foreign Bettor’s Delight, he acts a lot like one,” Davis said. “When he’s in the stall, he will jump around. He has a ball he plays with. When he’s out jogging, he’ll have his head down between his legs kind of cantering and jumping around. He’s just a really good-feeling horse. That’s what I like about him. He doesn’t seem to stress out about anything; he’s nice and relaxed all the time, just having a good time.” Davis spent around six weeks getting Dina Bolt acclimated and training down. The first 10 days to two weeks, Dina Bolt spent in the field. Then once he began training, Davis kept him settled in the middle of the set. Similar tactics were employed in Dina Bolt’s qualifier at Harrah’s Philadelphia Nov. 24, when he raced along in fifth throughout before pacing home in :28.2 to finish third. “Training down, I always train in groups. I’ll train anywhere from two at a time to six at a time. Something I’ve done with every New Zealand or Australian horse we’ve brought over here, when we train them in sets like that, they just sit in the middle. I never pull them and make them brush by anybody, I never put them on the lead,” Davis explained. “My main thing is I want them to sit in and he was perfect that way. We’ll even do it going fast; we’ll train miles in 1:58 and he’ll sit in behind somebody and never move. He’s been a real pleasure to get adjusted.” Dina Bolt was on the also eligible list last Monday (Dec. 7), but got back in tonight (Dec. 14) and drew post six in a $16,000 overnight as he steps up from the non-winners of four to the non-winners of six condition. Jordan Stratton will drive again. His rivals include Caliber, the 5-2 morning line favorite who enters off two straight wins for Williams Hernandez, including a 3/4-length wire-to-wire score here in 1:54.3 last out Dec. 7. The field also includes Mac’s Big Boy, Patriot Nation, Genius Man, Sports Obsession, Western Vacation, and So Many Roads. “I’m not disappointed with the draw because I want him to race from the back again,” Davis said. “With the right trip and everything working out, I think he’ll be tough to beat again. I don’t know those horses like I know all the horses at Dover Downs, but with the way he raced the first time, they’re going to know he’s there.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through Dec. 22. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Yonkers, NY-- Two 7-horse fields of trotters went to post tonight (Dec. 3) at Yonkers Raceway in the North American Amateur Drivers Association harness racing series which was presented before the betting card got underway and when each event was declared official, a pair of Tony's emerged victorious; Tony Ciuffetelli won his split with Golden Kronos in 1:58.2 while Tony Verruso copped his division with Exarch in 1:59.2. Both horses used the front-end route to victory. In his split Ciuffetelli sent Golden Kronos to the lead from the two-hole and they got first call at the quarter in :29 while keeping Karets and driver Joe Lee on the limb. They were one-two by the half and remained in those positions until the three quarters where Karets began to fade. At that point Golden Kronos and Ciuffetelli scooted away to a three-length lead as they headed for home and at the wire Golden Kronos was an eased-up 1-1/2 length winner over Dw's Revenge who was driven by 17-year old Brett Beckwith.    Five lengths behind the winner If I Must rambled home third best for Paul Minore. In the other event hot-handed Tony Verruso notched his third victory in his last five starts when he gunned Exarch to the lead from the seven-hole. “I was told he could and leave like a runner and when the gate sprung I let him ramble and we were in front before the (first)turn,” Verruso said. “Once there it was little more than catch-me-if-you can.” They passed the first stanza in a swift :28.1 and they had two lengths on the field when they trotted by the half in :58.1 “Bob (Davis-with Lucky June Bug) was the first to move on us but my horse easily kept him at bay and in the stretch we opened daylight and finished a 2-1/2 length winner,” Verruso added. Lucky June Bug was second best while Jacks To Open took home the show dough for Nicole Dicostanza. The NAADA series continues next Thursday at Monticello Raceway   By John Manzi for NAADA

More than $1 million was wagered on the Tuesday night harness racing card at MGM Yonkers. This marked the first time the track surpassed the million dollar threshold since before the pandemic closure. On the last Tuesday before the COVID-19 shut down March 3, nearly $1.1 million was wagered on Yonkers races. "We had so much momentum in late February and early March," said Director of Racing Alex Dadoyan. "Five of our last eight cards before we had to shut down saw more than $900k in wagering. And then the world turned upside down." Yonkers was forced to close from early March to mid June. "Everything lined up right tonight. The first of the month is always huge and MGM Northfield having to cancel due to snow really gave us the spotlight." The competitive racing produced an $8,750 carryover in the Pick 5 wager for Thursday's card. The 50 cent Pick 5 covers races five through 9 and will have a $20,000 guaranteed pool on Thursday. First race is 7:12pm. Alex Dadoyan Director of Racing MGM Yonkers Inc

Caviart Ally took full advantage of her inside starting position and worked out a perfect pocket-sitting trip to surge past the pace-setting Shartin N in mid-stretch to prevail by a neck in 1:52.1 in the sixth race $100,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker harness racing Invitational at Yonkers Raceway. Shartin N, the 2019 Horse of the Year and defending Blue Chip Matchmaker Champion left quickly from post position seven and controlled the race throughout but had to settle for second. Snobbytown finished third five and one-quarter lengths behind. It was Caviart Ally's third win in 2020 and 28th lifetime for driver Andrew McCarthy and trainer Brett Pelling. The winner's share leaves her just shy of $2 million in career earnings at $1,974,971. The six-year-old mare is owned by Caviart Farms of Vienna, Virginia. As the 8-5 second choice, she paid $5.50 to win. Caviart Ally In the eighth race $125,000 Borgata Pacing Series Eligibles Invitational, This Is The Plan closed past the tiring leaders to win by half a length in 1:52 paying $5.60 to win as the 9-5 second choice. This Is The Plan left alertly from the outside starting position to tuck in fourth and worked out a second over trip for driver George Brennan. The Ron Burke trainee notched his fourth win of 2020 for owners Burke Racing, Weaver, Bruscemi, Jerry and Theresa Silva and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan Ostro Hanover held second after setting the pace and Tookadiveoffdipper was two and one-quarter lengths back in third. The Blue Chip Matchmaker and Borgata Pacing Series races were originally scheduled to begin March 13 and 14 but were canceled when the racetrack closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of the customary five legs and final, the races were altered to be one dash invitationals for horses that were eligible for the original races this Spring. Alex Dadoyan Director of Racing

Yonkers, NY -- Tony Verruso continued his winning ways in the harness racing Amateur ranks when he guided Final Dreams to an oh-so-easy 5-1/2 length triumph in the first division of the two NAADA trots at Yonkers Raceway on Friday night. A second division, which had three ladies competing in the seven-horse field, saw Melissa Arbia sit the pocket with Photo Bomber and rally for a neck victory in the final strides. In his $8000 split Verruso left cautiously from the three hole with the 5-year-old Cantab Hall gelding. "I kept my horse off the gate at the start to make sure he got away on the trot," Verruso said. "But once the gate sprung we were in business." Verruso settled his charge along the pylons and was content to be fourth as the field trotted by the first panel. "He got a little bouncy when I took hold of him so I moved him early and once he hit his stride he flattened out and trotted to the lead at the three quarters and we were all alone finishing." Dark Pool was second for Jacob Stillwell while Christopher Doherty and Garnet took home the show dough. Verruso now has won two of his last three starts this season and now has driven 80 winners in his career. In the other $8000 split Paul Minore sent his old warhorse, Wygant Prince, to the lead from the five-hole and they cut even fractions throughout the mile despite Nicole Dicostanzo and Jacks To Open parked on the limb all the way to the top of the stretch. When Jacks To Open tired three trotters charged to the wire heads apart. Although there is no passing lane at Yonkers Ms Arbia had Photo Bomber tight behind Wygant Prince and in mid-stretch she angled him to the inside and he rallied to a neck triumph over the leader in a 2:00.1 clocking. Take A Wish rallied to finish third for driver Dawn Anderson. It was Ms Arbia's third seasonal winner and fifth of her fledgling career. by John Manzi for NAADA  

YONKERS, N.Y. – After taking Thursday (Nov. 26) off for the Thanksgiving holiday, live harness racing resumes at Yonkers Raceway Friday night (Nov. 27) with a 7:12 p.m. first post time. The 10-race card features the $30,000 open trot and leads a big weekend at the Hilltop that culminates with a pair of six-figure invitational paces on Saturday night. Carded as race seven on the Friday program, the trotting feature is lead by Stormy Kromer, the all-age trotting track record holder who won last week’s open handicap by 2 lengths. Stormy Kromer went on a tear this summer, going 6-for-7 between July 16 and Sept. 9, including a 4-length romp in 1:52.3 to reset the track record and three preferred handicap wins.  Stormy Kromer scored his first victory in the Yonkers open trot Oct. 2, beating Melady’s Monet by a nose. Stormy Kromer then went through a five-race winless streak between Oct. 9 and Nov. 13 as he dealt with assigned outside posts and difficult trips. However, after drawing post two last out Nov. 20, Stormy Kromer controlled the pace and drew away late to win in 1:53.2. Stormy Kromer is now 8-for-19 this season with $109,390 earned and 30-for-112 lifetime with $444,484 in the bank. Stormy Kromer drew post three Friday night. He and regular reinsman Dan Dube are the 3-1 favorites on the morning line. Paul Stafford trains Stormy Kromer for Tom Ceraso, Jr.  In addition to last week’s winner in Stormy Kromer, last week’s runner up Nows The Moment also returns in Friday’s open trot. A 5-yer-old credit winner gelding owned by Sonya MacDonald and trained by Alex MacDonald, Nows The Moment is 6-for-22 this season with $94,200 earned. His victories include a 4-1 mild upset in the local $22,000 preferred handicap Sept. 25.  Nows The Moment has also factored in this open due to his early speed. He set the tempo after leaving from post seven and finished second to Melady’s Monet Oct. 9 despite 64-1 odds. Nows The Moment left for the lead last out Nov. 20 before Stormy Kromer made the front. Nows The Moment rode the pocket to a second-place finish at 12-1. Jason Bartlett, who drove Nows The Moment last week, will get the call again tonight. The pair are 4-1 on the morning line. Broadway Athena pulled off a 12-1 upset in the local open handicap Oct. 23, but has drawn in difficult spots since; the 6-year-old mare finished third from post six Oct. 30, and got away 12 lengths behind from post eight Nov. 6, but still rallied to finish fourth at 112-1. Broadway Athena was scratched sick from post eight Nov. 13 and makes her return Friday night. The Gilbert Garcia-Herrera trainee will start from post five with Austin Siegelman in the sulky. They are 12-1 on the morning line. Although 11 years old, Melady’s Money has continued to be a force in the Yonkers open ranks this season. The Hermann Heitmann trainee finished second in a pair of local open handicaps before the COVID-19 shutdown. Since then, the $1.7-million earner captured the open handicap Oct. 9 and took the open Nov. 6. He also finished second in the trotting feature Oct. 2 and 30. On the season, Melady’s Monet is 6-for-18 with $128,780 earned. Although this week’s open is not a handicap, Melady’s Monet drew post eight, the same position he was handicapped by Nov. 20. Melady’s Monet got away 12 1/2 lengths behind Stormy Kromer last out and finishes seventh beaten 8 3/4 lengths. He and driver Jordan Stratton are 12-1 on the morning line in a similar spot Friday night. The field also includes Rich And Miserable, who finally draws inside after getting away seventh from post six in each of his last two outings, Lean Hanover, who enters off a win in a local $17,500 overnight Nov. 20, Lord Cromwell, who finished fifth in each of his last two outings in this feature Nov. 13 and Nov. 20, and Mission Accepted, who finished fifth in the $320,000 TVG Open Trot at the Meadowlands last out Nov. 21. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through Dec. 22. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY  

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