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Splash Brother is making quite a comeback this year, having earned his place behind the gate on the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions at Yonkers on Saturday. According to co-owner and trainer Ray Schnittker, the 3-year-old harness racing gelded pacer looked solid last year until a fateful day at Saratoga. "He looked really good that day until Mark McDonald fell off and Splash Brother got loose," said Schnittker of the incident while scoring down for a leg of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) on July 20, 2019, at the half-mile track. The driver sustained a broken shoulder, which was later repaired by surgery, and was forced to sit out the rest of the year on the sidelines. Schnittker said the horse was also impacted, despite performing well in NYSS events the rest of the season and finishing fourth in the Final at Batavia Downs to close out his 2-year-old year. "We believe he hurt his shoulder because something was just bothering him, but we still to this day don't really know. We just knew that he wasn't the same." But the son of So Surreal trained back well in 2020, winning the $240,600 Empire Breeders Classic and two legs of the Sire Stakes while being steered by regular driver Tyler Buter. His last start on Sept. 1 was a return to Saratoga where he dug in for a 1:51 victory, just a fifth of a second off the track record. "It's funny when he came back this year, it was no problem," said Schnittker. "It is like he is a 5-year-old child with that type of energy behind him." Schnittker is trying to capture some of the same magic he had in last year's NYSS season. He picked up two Night of Champions wins at Batavia last year with Cigars And Port and USTA District 8 Horse of the Year Hickfromfrenchlick. For now, Schnittker is concentrating on the NYSS Final, where his horse starts from the rail as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the eighth race on Saturday. Following that, Splash Brother is heading to Indiana for five races in which Schnittker is expecting good outcomes. The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions takes place September 12 at Yonkers Raceway. Post time is 7:12 p.m. Spectators are not permitted, but owners of horses competing may reserve their spot to attend in-person by calling the NYSS office at 518-388-0224 by Friday at 3:00p.m. By Leah Rostohar, for New York Sire Stakes

Harness racing trainer Travis Alexander is not letting a recent setback stop American Courage from vying for the title of top 2-year-old pacing colt on the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions on Saturday, Sept. 12. The trainer calls an equine virus that ran through his barn in mid-August a blessing in disguise as it may give his colt an edge in his $225,000 Final. The virus caused Alexander to scratch American Courage from the fifth preliminary leg for freshman pacing colts at Vernon Downs on Aug. 28. "We could have raced and pressed for points as he was clean on race day but we weren't taking any chances," said Alexander. "We let him tell us how he was feeling, and we decided to scratch." Still, American Courage remains unbeaten in his career with a perfect seven-for-seven and with $180,000 in total earnings accumulated already this year. This includes starts in the New York Sire Stakes and the Springfield (formerly the Sheppard) at Yonkers. "You never know how they are going to be, he's been a surprise," said Alexander. "I always knew he had a large amount of ability, but things just have to go your way. All of these horses are fast and bred so well; they're getting more Thoroughbred-like." Despite easing up on the colt's training as he recovered, the Alexander is still confident pointing the colt into the largest purse start of his young career. He will leave from Post 5 in the fifth race on Saturday with driver Matt Kakaley. "I haven't even trained him a mile in August," said Alexander. "I haven't even tightened the screws. I just started him back up yesterday (Sept. 2), but he'll be ready to go." Alexander isn't just referring to the Night of Champions, but to three major stakes races ahead, including the Metro Stakes in Canada on Sept. 26. The scheduling proximity between the NYSS Finals and the Metro poses a challenge to trainers and any connections looking to cross the border. As of right now, any person coming from the United States must quarantine for two weeks in accordance with COVID-19 regulations. Back-to-back races across the border means Alaina, Alexander's wife, is already in Canada for the Metro Stakes while Travis focuses on the Night of Champions. "Alaina is somewhat upset about not being here for the finals in person. She takes care of him and runs his barn. She's basically the boss," said Alexander. "She knows every wrinkle of American Courage so, being here alone, it puts a lot of pressure on me for sure." A lot of pressure, but also a belief that he has the right team in place to realize the pacer's brimming potential. "Matt (Kakaley) has done an amazing job. It makes my job easier," said Alexander. "I have full confidence in American Courage." The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions takes place September 12 at Yonkers Raceway. Post time is 7:12 p.m. By Leah Rostohar, for New York Sire Stakes  

YONKERS, N.Y. - New York's richest night of harness racing returns to Yonkers Raceway this Saturday with the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions. Eight finals races featuring the best state-bred 2- and 3-year-olds will be contested for $225,000 purses each. Post time is 7:12 p.m. A full list of entries can be found here. American Courage (American Ideal) will be heavily favored among the 2-year-old colt pacers. It's been seven wins in seven starts for trainer Travis Alexander and driver Matt Kakaley, including four wins in the NYSS. The freshmen has proven he knows how to win at Yonkers with three wins on the track this year, including a win in the $104,250 MGM Springfield Stakes Final. American Courage will start from the 5 post for owner Fiddler's Creek Stables LLC. Test of Faith (Art Major) will be the filly to watch as the points leader looks to cement her place as the best 2-year-old pacer this season. In five NYSS starts, she's recorded four wins and a second-place finish. She's also the top earner among 2-year-olds in the series this year with $145,250.00 for trainer Brett Pelling and owners Melvin Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable, and Eddie Gran. She starts from post 6 in the final. Ambassador Hanover (Chapter Seven) is undefeated in four NYSS starts. Ambassador Hanover is trained by Ake Svanstedt and is owned by Howard Taylor, Judith Taylor, Order By Stable. Destined To Dance (Chapter Seven) stands atop the points among 2-year-old filly trotters at a perfect five-for-five in NYSS starts this season. John Butenschoen trains for co-owner/breeder Crawford Farms and co-owners Heritage Standardbreds and Rich Preziotti. Destined To Dance drew the 3 post in her division final. Chapter Seven has sired the point leaders in each of the four NYSS trotting divisions. Standout rivals Major Betts (Art Major) and Splash Brother (So Surreal) will be favorites looking to settle their score in the final for 3-year-old colt pacers. Major Betts is trained by Mark Harder for owners by Joe Jannuzzelli and Deena Frost. Splash Brother is trained by Ray Schnittker, who co-owns with Steven Arnold, Tammy Flannery and Nolamaura Racing. Hen Party (Roll With Joe) sits atop the points standing for 3-year-old filly pacers with four wins in five NYSS starts. This past week, the Empire Breeders Classic winner tied the track record for her division with a 1:52 at Saratoga. She starts from post 3 for trainer Tony Alagna and owner Crawford Farms Racing. Chaptiama (Chapter Seven) will want to avenge a second-place finish in last year's final as a 2-year-old in what's proven to be the most competitive division in the NYSS this season: 3-year-old colt trotters. Chaptiama is facing challengers Hobbs, Barn Holden, Berkery J, and Bourbon Express, all finalists last year. Chaptiama is trained by Trond Smedshammer for owner Purple Haze Stables. Top overall earner in the NYSS this season, Love A Good Story (Chapter Seven), will look to bolster her already impressive $226,850 in purse money in the final for 3-year-old filly trotters. Finishing the season with a perfect record will be the goal for trainer Julie Miller and owners Pinske Stables, Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Daniel Plouffe. "We saw great performances from our New York-breds in what proved to be a very competitive season, despite it being a little shorter than usual due to the current pandemic," said M. Kelly Young, executive director, Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. "We'd like to congratulate all the owners, trainers and drivers representing the New York Sire Stakes at the Night of Champions, and thank all of our participants throughout our program for their flexibility this season." Race sponsors for the event include New York-based breeders and institutions: Allerage Farm, Blue Chip Farms, Cameo Hills Farm, Crawford Farms and Winbak Farm. The Finals for the NYSS Excelsior Series are scheduled for Sept. 11 at Tioga Downs, post time is 3 p.m. The County Fair Finals were raced on Sept. 6 at Goshen Historic Track. A livestream of the event can be viewed here. From the New York Sire Stakes

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) will be livestreaming the draw for the 2020 "Night of Champions," via Facebook on Monday, September 7. The finals for New York State's premier harness racing program for 2- and 3-year-olds is set to take place Saturday, September 12 at Yonkers Raceway. Monday's draw will begin at 12:00 p.m. and can be accessed through the NYSS website, NYSS Facebook page and the Yonkers Raceway Facebook page. This year's draw will be closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. "The 2020 season presented a unique set of challenges for our members and fans so we are thrilled to be able to still offer ways to connect with them through virtual events such as this live draw," said M. Kelly Young, executive director, Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. "We are looking forward to an exciting evening of racing at the Night of Champions and this live streaming event helps build further anticipation of what is to come the following weekend." From the New York Sire Stakes

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Leonidas makes his Yonkers Raceway debut Friday night (Sept. 4) in the $18,000 pacing feature, it will end a long wait for owner Steve Finklestein of Jesmeral Stable and trainer Sheena McElhiney. An Australia-bred 5-year-old by Mach Three, Leonidas was purchased by Finklestein this spring as a Yonkers prospect, but owing to interruptions in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, was marooned in his home county until this summer. Leonidas moved to the David Aiken stable in Australia and continued to race Down Under. He finished first or second in nine straight races at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Shepparton, and Bendigo between March 14 and June 26. Leonidas’ streak included a 1:51.7 victory at Bendigo June 6, which established a track record for the 1,650-meter distance at the Victoria oval and two second-place finishes to Australian pacing star and three-time Group 1 winner Lochinvar Art. “With all the restrictions and the tracks being closed down, we couldn’t get him over right away,” McElhiney said. “One of (Steve’s) lifelong friends, David Aiken, took over training. He broke some track records there and we were excited to get him over here because we knew the caliber of horse he is.” Leonidas was finally exported to the United States July 6. He received some downtime after arriving in McElhiney’s stable, but acclimatized quickly and was back to work in short order. Leonidas proved himself to be a professional on the track once his training resumed. “Obviously, we couldn’t wait to get him over here. The time we had to wait for him just seemed like forever. Just watching him race over there, he’s a really good-caliber horse,” McElhiney said. “When he came here, he looked great, he was in great shape, he adjusted pretty well. He had a winter coat already when he came over. We gave him a little time and let him hang out in the paddock and just be a horse before we started really training him down again. “He had been racing pretty consistently over there,” she continued. “It wasn’t too tough to get him back into shape. He’s a nice horse to train. He went right out on the track like he’d been here forever.” Leonidas qualified Aug. 7 at Yonkers Raceway with Jason Bartlett in the sulky. Leonidas raced in third for the first 6 furlongs before moving to the lead and powering away from the final with a :27.4 final quarter to win the trial by 12 1/4 lengths in 1:55. McElhiney then entered Leonidas to race at Pocono Downs Aug. 20. “He qualified well, Jason was happy with him. The plan was to race him at Yonkers, but we could get him in (at Pocono) right away. We decided to put him in there.” Leonidas drew post seven and faced a Grand Circuit-quality field that included Filibuster Hanover, Western Joe, Dancin Lou, San Domino, and Southwind Ozzi in his first American start. Although he was dismissed at odds of 39-1 and got away seventh, Leonidas angled to the outside on the backstretch and latched onto third-over cover. Bartlett angled Leonidas four-wide into the stretch and he paced past San Domino and Dancin Lou to finish third individually clocked in 1:48.4 with a :27 final panel. “The plan was to just race him easy his first start and then bring him to Yonkers. I think he had to go a little bit more than we expected, but he definitely didn’t disappoint,” McElhiney said. “Just watching, I knew he was the horse that we thought he was. He came out of it great, no issues with that. He just did it easy. Jason said he wasn’t pushing him, he was kind of doing his thing out there. It was nice to have him go out there in the first start and be impressed with him. It makes you excited for the rest of the year, for sure.” Leonidas drew post two in the Friday pacing feature at Yonkers, for horses who are non-winners of $25,000 in their last five starts. Jason Bartlett will drive again and the pair are 2-1 on the morning line.  The field includes Hudson Phil, who won the Saratoga open pace in his last start Aug. 25, Heaven’s Gait, who won two straight at this level July 17 and 31 before finishing fifth in the local open Aug. 21, and Caviart Luca, who won the local open handicap pace two back Aug. 7. Speed Man, Rodeo Rock, Capozzo, and One Off Delight complete the lineup. “We trained (Leonidas) Tuesday and went a slow trip with him because we put the miles on him jogging,” McElhiney said. “When we train him, he’s just two fingers and really easy. He’s a little bit lazy, but you chirp to him a little bit and he’s ready to go. “Steve has some quality horses, but this one is pretty special.” Yonkers Raceway’s revised schedule features live harness racing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Sept. 8 – 10) and New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions on Saturday, Sept. 12. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Mister Rebbily looked every bit a professional racehorse when cruised to a 5 3/4-length harness racing victory in a $12,000 conditioned pace at Yonkers Raceway Aug. 10. He relaxed in fourth and watched a speed duel play out in front of him before launching a bid three-wide entering the backstretch the final time, clearing the lead around the final turn, and imposing his will in the stretch under a Jordan Stratton hand drive to post a 1:52 victory.  Considering Mister Rebbily’s professional appearance in his last outing, and his 3-for-5 record since being imported into the United States by trainer Tahnee Camilleri for owner David Kryway, one wouldn’t know that only a few months prior, the horse was terrified of just about everything. Camilleri found Mister Rebbily while on a trip to Australia to visit her family in January. Mister Rebbily was racing in overnights at Albion Park and although he was picking up checks each start, hadn’t won since going back-to-back in April and May 2019. The October 2016 foal had less than $13,000 Australian dollars earned and wasn’t listed for sale. However, as a half to Firebby, who won her first three starts in the United States for Camilleri at Yonkers in 2018, the trainer was interested. “I saw him at the races and at his home farm. At the farm, he was very quiet and well-mannered, but at the races, he was quite hot and naughty. I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me,” Camilleri said. “He’s actually a half-brother to a mare called Firebby who was the mare I initially brought over and started my American dream. There was a little bit of a family connection there and I liked what I saw. He looked like a nice type to get around Yonkers; I purchased him as a Yonkers prospect. “He wasn’t really for sale, but because I had trained and sold his sister over here, he was on my radar and I was luckily able to negotiate a sale while I was over there,” Camilleri continued. “He was extremely lightly raced, just at the start of his career. Most trainers don’t want to lose horses that early on. I was very fortunate to be able to buy him.” Mister Rebbily was cleared to the United States Jan. 20, but even a month after arriving Stateside, was no closer to starting in a race. Moving from a small farm in Australia to New Jersey’s bustling Gaitway Farm made everything a challenge for Mister Rebbily and his connections. “He was born and broken in on the farm that he was trained out of. It was like he came to the big city and it was very overwhelming for him,” Camilleri said. “He’d never experienced horses training coming at him while he was jogging, which he was petrified of. And don’t get me started on the tractor. He would be jogging on the half-mile track and he would see the tractor on the mile track and he would run off the track. His eyes were bugging out of his head, there was just so much stimulation for him and he’s already a hot little horse. “He wasn’t used to crossties, he had to be broken to crossties and just a simple thing such as picking up his feet on the crossties would send him into a panic. It took a lot of work in the barn and a lot of work on the track,” said Camilleri, who credits caretaker Yvan for working with Mister Rebbily in the barn. Recognizing she was effectively breaking a new horse from scratch, Camilleri enlisted the help of Ernie Hendry, an assistant trainer at Julie Miller’s stable who has significant experience breaking and training difficult young horses.  “Ernie said he’s never had a horse who was as fearful of the tractor or as hot as Mister Rebbily when he came, and that’s saying something,” Camilleri said. Gradually, Mister Rebbily started to improve. Mister Rebbily and Hendry trained in a set with stablemate Billy Lincoln, driven by Camilleri. With each training session, Camilleri could feel Mister Rebbily’s talent revealing itself. “Billy Lincoln is a lovable fellow, unflappable, nothing phases him. He’s a big, tall, strong horse whereas Mister Rebbily is a small, flighty horse. Couldn’t get two more opposite horses, but they’re stabled next to each other, they love each other, they go out in the field together, and they train down together. They do everything together,” Camilleri said. “I would always cut the mile with ‘Billy’ and ‘Rebel’ would sit behind, just teaching him to relax and follow a helmet and see the tractor and the water truck and everything else that was happening. After about a month or two, he was really breathing hard on my helmet and Ernie started pulling him out and we worked them to the line together, and I was just so excited because he was really impressing me. It didn’t take long to realize just how good they both were.” Mister Rebbily was finally ready to qualify May 29 as the coronavirus racing shutdowns began to ease across the eastern United States. After finishing fifth in a trial at Gaitway, pacing his mile in 1:53.1 with a :27.3 final quarter, Camilleri entered Mister Rebbily in a $11,000 overnight at the Meadowlands June 6. He started from post 10 and finished up the track. “He was very upset and very nervous. That was his first time racing under lights; he had only raced in the daytime in Australia. Meadowlands in and of itself can hot up even the quietest horse, so it was just a little too much stimulation,” Camilleri said. “I took him to the races expecting he would be a handful, and he was. He didn’t do anything wrong in the race, thank goodness, but he was just washed out. He had run his race before he stepped foot on the track.” Mister Rebbily qualified again at Gaitway June 29 with Dexter Dunn in the sulky and returned to the Meadowlands July 4. Mister Rebbily made short work of the competition in a $6,000 overnight, cruising to a 3 3/4-legnth win in 1:52. Mister Rebbily moved to Yonkers and scored another open-length win in a $12,000 conditioned pace July 13 before finishing second by a nose in the same class July 27. After his win Aug. 10, Mister Rebbily improved his record to 5-for-17 with another five placings and $27,169 earned. Mister Rebbily winning on August 10th. Mister Rebbily will make his next start Monday night (Aug. 24) in the seventh race at Yonkers, a $14,500 pace for non-winners of eight pari-mutuel races or $100,000. He drew post position two and will have a new driver in George Brennan as Stratton opted for Pete Tritton’s Globaldomination, who drew post six and seeks his fifth win in nine starts this season. The field also includes The Moonshadow, who drew inside and looks to make it four in-a-row for Mark Harder. “(Mister Rebbily’s) heart rate was really good and he had plenty left (after his last start). I’m sure if pressed, he could go 1:51. I think he could make a lot of money at Yonkers if he can do that,” Camilleri said. “I’m so proud about what he’s done. I can’t help but sing the horse’s praises. I’m very proud of the little bugger.” Yonkers Raceway’s revised schedule features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, Friday nights through Sept. 12. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY 

YONKERS, N.Y. – Jimmy Marohn, Sr. remembers walking winner Meadow Paige around the Yonkers Raceway paddock as a harness racing groom for Billy Haughton after the 1967 Cane Pace. Marohn also reflects fondly on winning the 1981 Cane Pace at Yonkers with Wildwood Jeb, one of his 5,358 career driving wins. Although Marohn hung up his driving colors in 2014 after over 44,000 starts, he now finds himself back in the Yonkers Raceway paddock as the new field representative for the SOA of NY. “Here it is, 2020 and I’m back in the Yonkers paddock. Wow, that was some trip I went on,” Marohn said. Marohn brings more than 50 years of industry experience to the role, in which he is responsible for addressing the needs of the horsemen — owners, trainers, drivers and caretakers — at Yonkers Raceway during racing hours. The field representative is also responsible for interacting regularly with the judges and the race office and, at times, the New York Gaming Commission. “I’m a communication person between the management and the horsepeople and the SOA and the horsepeople,” Marohn said. “If somebody needs a license, if somebody has a complaint, say the judges are having a hard time with somebody or if the drivers need something regarding the track condition.” Assistant General Manager ShawnWiles (right) is joined by (right to left) Jimmy Marohn, Sr. (5113 wins); Billy “Zeke” Parker, Jr. (9636 wins) ; Mike Forte (2578 wins and Bruce Adrich, Jr. (2743 wins) in presenting Jimmy Marohn, Jr.(far left) reaching the 1,000 win mark Marohn succeeds John Brennan as the SOA of NY’s field representative after Brennan tragically passed from coronavirus in March 2020. About a month into the new role, Marohn has enjoyed reconnecting with drivers he once competed with and the horsepeople he once raced for. Marohn is also forming relationships with the new generation of horsepeople. “Now that I’m with the SOA, I remember a lot of people. I always was an owner person; whoever owned the horse, I really raced for the owner. That’s where it starts; it starts with the owner and the trainer. As I look around the paddock, the paddock looks the same,” Marohn said. “It feels pretty good. The younger drivers may know me by name, but they may not know me. Some of them I do know,” Marohn continued. “There are people that raced there before and everybody I talked to is glad that I got the job. They say, ‘good, you’re one of us.’ Instead of a guy with a suit coming in. “I’m just glad that I got the job. For me, it’s a pleasure, something to look forward to,” Marohn said. “I feel good doing it. Plus, I get to see my son (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) race, so I can keep an eye on him, or he can keep an eye on me.” Yonkers Raceway’s revised schedule features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, Friday nights through Sept. 12. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. From the SOA of NY

American Courage remained undefeated in his young harness racing career scoring in 1:54.2 in New York Sire Stakes action at Yonkers Raceway Tuesday night. American Courage is now a perfect 7 for 7 with four consecutive wins in New York Sire Stakes action for two-year-old pacing colts, taking the $70,300 second race division. Driver Matt Kakaley moved to the lead approaching the first quarter and held sway to a half-length victory over I'll Drink To That with Sexy Blue Chip four and one-quarter lengths further back in third.   The son of American Ideal now has three wins at Yonkers Raceway, having taken the MGM Springfield Stakes Elimination and Final last month. The $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Final will be at Yonkers Saturday September 12 as part of the $1.8 million New York Night of Champions with eight division finals. There was a non-betting $69,000 New York Sire Stakes division before the card and Sauvignon Blue Chip led at every point to a 1:54.4 victory. Tyler Buter guided the son of Art Major to his first lifetime win for trainer and co-owner David Dziengiel. Live racing resumes at Yonkers Thursday with a 7:12pm first post. Racing is currently being conducted four nights a week: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. by Alex Dadoyan for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. - “He gives me a sense of something special.” That’s how Matt Kakaley describes American Courage, a 2-year-old colt who’s undefeated in six starts, all with Kakaley in the sulky, including the elimination and final of the MGM Springfield Stakes at Yonkers Raceway and three legs of the New York Sire Stakes. The pair will put their win streak on the line again Tuesday night (Aug. 18) at Yonkers in the fourth leg of the NYSS for freshman pacers. Kakaley first heard about American Courage from trainer Travis Alexander while the colt was still training in Florida, with the conditioner indicating, ‘he thought he had a pretty nice colt.’ Kakaley, who is based in Pennsylvania, intended to travel to the Sunshine State to train American Courage, but never got the chance once the coronavirus pandemic effectively halted travel throughout the United States in mid-March.  Once American Courage shipped north for the racing season, Kakaley trained American Courage twice, once at the farm and again at Pocono Downs. “He was nice, but I don’t try to get too high on them when they’re training down because they’ll prove us wrong more times than not,” Kakaley said. “He was smart on the track. The one time I trained him at the farm, he could just sprint out of a hole real quick, no problem. Good gait. Everything was good about him, there wasn’t really any knocks about him. He was a professional to sit behind, he was good like that right from the beginning.” American Courage qualified June 24 at Pocono Downs. The colt raced in third throughout before charging home with a :29 final quarter to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:57.2. “The qualifier, he was good, he wasn’t great,” Kakaley said. “He had an ear hood on and he was really quiet. He was good, not great, but I was very happy with him, it was a perfect first qualifier for him.” Alexander entered American Courage in a $10,400 overnight at Pocono June 30 and the race proved eventful. Starting from post six, American Courage kept about a half-length off the starting gate and took back into fifth early as rivals Big Luciano and Sir Lovealot BC battled through a :27.1 quarter.  American Courage angled first over at the half, but was soon forced three-wide as 50-1 Spellbinding pulled in front of him nearing the backstretch. Kakaley took back, then sent American Courage three-wide again up the backstretch. American Courage put a head in front of Big Luciano by the three-quarter pole and kicked away in the stretch under Kakaley pistol grips to win by 6 lengths in 1:54.1.  “I just wanted to get away in mid-pack, make one run with him, and try to give him a good learning experience and teach him a little bit,” Kakaley said. “It was kind of a messed-up race and for him to handle the whole thing the way he did, I came off the track and I told Travis, ‘he’s better than I thought he was.’ Travis never really gave me a notion that he was really high on him because I don’t think he wanted to get let down if something happened with him. “I got shoved three-wide at the half, someone came out underneath me. I backed up, waited a little bit and then swung him three-wide around the three-eighths pole and he cleared in three steps,” Kakaley continued. “He just did it really good and professional. The way he handled a horse coming out underneath him, me grabbing him up, and then starting him back up, I was very impressed that day.” American Courage aired by 7 1/4 lengths in his elimination of the MGM Springfield Stakes in his next start July 6 and returned for the $104,250 final a week later. After settling in fourth around the first turn, Kakaley gunned 2-5 favorite American Courage to the front up the backstretch, pocketing 5-1 shot Town Gossip and driver Joe Bongiorno. The backfield failed to make an impression and American Courage rounded the final turn with Town Gossip breathing down his neck. “The only time anyone has really gotten close was the final of the Springfield,” Kakaley said. “That was the only time I popped the ear plugs. Joey was right on my back on the last turn, I pulled the plugs out at the top of the stretch and I thought it was going to be a really tight finish, but he just hit another gear halfway down the stretch.” While Town Gossip was all-out down the lane, Kakaley gave American Courage a few whip-taps at the top of the stretch and again halfway to the wire. Although Town Gossip got within a half-length, he never went by. The pair were 6 3/4-lenghts in front of the third-place finisher Crystal Beach in a 1:53.3 mile. “After the wire, he wasn’t even done then. He was just going around there and when I asked him for some pace, he gave it to me and I was never worried. He was super,” Kakaley said. Since the MGM Springfield Final, American Courage rattled off three more wins in NYSS; he won at Saratoga in 1:54.3 by 6 3/4 lengths, paced 1:51.3 at Tioga while winning by 4 1/4, and most recently posted a 1:54.2 win by 10 1/2 lengths at Batavia Downs Aug. 9. American Courage has amassed $145,108 for owner and breeder Fiddler’s Creek Stable.  American Courage is a son of American Ideal out of the Feel Like A Fool mare Nota Fool Bluechip, a full sister to millionaires Feel Like A Fool and Fool Me Once. Fiddler’s Creek Stable and Travis Alexander bought Nota Fool Bluechip at the 2014 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for $60,000. Although she only went 1-for-14 in her racing career, American Courage is her first foal to race.  “It’s a special horse to be a part of. I thank Travis and I thank Fiddler’s Creek. It’s a great operation they have and they’ve spent a lot of time and put a lot of money breeding these horses,” Kakaley said. “He would go to the sales and keep the mares and breed them. I’m really happy for him because he deserves a horse like this for all the time and money he’s put into the business. He deserves to get rewarded with a horse like this. “Travis and Alaina (Alexander) do a great job with him, they take great care of him,” Kakaley continued. “I think Alaina goes back and gives him a walk every night after dinner time just to spoil him a little bit. He’s a very cool horse, too. He’s very calm in the paddock, relaxed. He doesn’t get riled up or rattled by much and on the track, he’s all business. He’s what you want, for sure.” American Courage is the 4-5 morning line favorite in the penultimate NYSS leg for 2-year-old colts and geldings Tuesday night. He will start from post four in a six-horse field that includes I’ll Drink To That, a $75,000 buy at the 2019 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for Craig Henderson and co-owners Lawrence Minowitz, Robert Mondillo, and Oompas Farm who enters off a 1:53.3 win in NYSS at Tioga Aug. 1. Dexter Dunn will drive I’ll Drink To That for trainer Chris Ryder. Bottle Rocket, Major Makeover, Sexy Blue Chip, and King James Express complete the lineup. “I’ll just play it how it is,” Kakaley said. “If anybody is getting real crazy, I don’t need to be in any speed battle or anything like that. He’s a really good horse and he’ll let me do whatever I need to do. However it looks is what I’ll do. We’ll have him on the gate and figure it out from there. Just float him around and when it’s time to go, we’ll just hit the gas pedal. Yonkers Raceway’s revised schedule features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, Friday nights through Sept. 12. 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 - Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts (“Empire City”) and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York (“SOA”), the organization representing horsemen at Yonkers Raceway, announced an agreement to extend racing at the historic harness track through Saturday, September 12th. This will allow for the New York Night of Champions to proceed as scheduled on September 12th, which will showcase the best trotters and pacers bred in New York State “In partnership with the SOA, we are excited to be able to continue harness racing operations despite the continued closure and loss of revenue from our casino operation,” said Ed Domingo, senior vice president of Empire City. “This agreement further demonstrates our commitment to the sport and to the men and women employed by the horse racing industry.” Racing prize purses are funded primarily through gross gaming revenue generated by Empire City Casino and casino operations remain suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With limited funds available in the prize pool and no continued funding stream due to the casino closure, racing operations were expected to cease in August. However, MGM Resorts has agreed to continue racing operations and the SOA will contribute $1.2 million to purses from their reserve fund to allow the sport to continue operating through September 12th. “We recognize the hardships our horsemen have suffered during the pandemic,” said Joe Faraldo, president of the SOA. “We have chosen to take $1.2 million from our treasury in order to supplement the purse account and allow us to continue racing until the NYSS Night of Champions September 12th.” While the agreement allows for the preservation of the New York Sire Stakes races, several other stakes races scheduled for later in the year will be eliminated because of the limited purse funds. Those cancellations include the Yonkers Trot and Messenger Stakes. The racing schedule at Yonkers Raceway was interrupted earlier in the season with a temporary closure of the track due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Live racing operations resumed June 22nd with extensive health and safety protocols in place. Pursuant to state and health guidelines, spectators are not permitted at Yonkers Raceway but races are simulcast and available for viewing and wagering online at www.EmpireCityBets.com. As always, the health and safety of our customers and employees remains our top priority. For more information on the race schedule, please visit www.EmpireCityCasino.com. From Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY - Yonkers Raceway hosted two harness racing divisions of New York Sire Stakes races for three-year-old trotting fillies Tuesday evening and the rail was the place to start from in both divisions. In the first division, a $73,100 four horse race held before the wagering card, Love A Good Story relinquished the lead early from post position one to No Mas Drama, but then brushed by that rival and drew away to a length and a half score in 1:55.2. Love A Good Story is a daughter of Chapter Seven and remains a perfect four for four in New York Sire Stakes action for Andy and Julie Miller and the ownership group of Pinske Stables, Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Daniel Plouffe. Chapter Seven continues to lead the way for trotting sires in this year's New York Sire Stakes, with 83 wins in 184 starters and surpassed earnings of more than $1 million in the series. In the second division, race two on the card, Without A Warning was bet down to 2-5 favoritism from post one and was an easy two and three-quarter length winner in 1:55.1. Scott Zeron drove the daughter of RC Royalty to victory for trainer George Ducharme and owner Raymond W J Campbell Jr.   The $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions will be Saturday September 12 at Yonkers Raceway. Yonkers continues a four-day racing schedule, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with a first post of 7:12pm. by Alex Dadoyan, for Yonkers Raceway  

Yonkers, NY - Starting this week, the 50 cent Pick 5 wager at Yonkers Raceway will carry a $7,500 guaranteed pool on Mondays and Tuesdays. The pick 5 begins in race five each night. Monday's Pick 5 at Yonkers features two $77,300 New York Sire Stakes harness racing divisions for three-year-old pacing fillies. In the eighth race, the fourth leg of the Pick 5 wager, Hen Party looks to remain perfect in NYSS action. Hen Party, a daughter of Roll With Joe for the Crawford Farms and trainer Tony Alagna has already won sire stakes legs at Yonkers, Tioga and Vernon. Andrew McCarthy is in the bike once again and is the 9-5 morning line favorite from post five. Yonkers is currently racing four nights a week, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with first post at 7:12pm by Alex Dadoyan, for Yonkers Raceway    

Former "Down-under" champion harness racing reinswoman Lauren Tritton couldn't have scripted it any better. Lauren, wife of accomplished trainer Shane, landed her first win in the USA with 11-year-old gelding Flaming Flutter at last Friday's Yonkers Raceway and Empire City Casino at New York. The old timer (by Bettors Delight-Twice As Hot (In The Pocket) showed there's still spirit in those aging legs with a tough victory in a $17,250 event. It was just Lauren's fourth drive in the US after moving from Australia four months ago. "It was pretty exciting. It did give us a real buzz, particularly doing something like this on the other side of the world," Lauren said. "It would certainly be up there with my most memorable achievements-it was a life goal I'd always thought about," she said. "And it's a nice feeling to have the monkey off my back!" Lauren makes no secret that Flaming Flutter, who Team Tritton races on lease from well-known Victorian horseman Geoff Webster, is her stable favorite. "There was some talk of the horse being retired when we decided to try our luck in the US-but Shane talked them around," she said. "He's a lovely old horse and I was just so rapt with his win because he had to do it hard over the last half. And his time of 1.51 for the race was super." Watch the final stages of the race click here:  Shane said he had to convince the other owners not to retire "Flame" and it did take some doing! "I really wanted to bring him with us, but the funny thing is that I haven't sat in the seat behind him since! Lauren adores him and does all the work with him and he's her favorite by a long stretch." Lauren Tritton has a highlight reel as long as your arm as a driver back home in Australia. She's driven over 850 winners, became the youngest woman in Australian history to drive 500 winners, was the first female to win the NSW Metropolitan Driver's Premiership and she is a winner of over one hundred group-listed races. Harness racing is unquestionably a male-dominated sport in the US, and despite Lauren's passion for competing at the top level, she isn't planning on regular engagements outside her Team Tritton appointments. "I know there's quite a few over here who are surprised to see her drive, but I'm just so proud to see her out there competing," Shane said. "There's no way Lauren would ever just want to do the races as a driver - you have to commit totally to it to be successful, and that means 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "She thoroughly enjoys occasionally driving some of our team and maybe she will inspire some young girls to give it a go. There seem to be others who drive, but just at fairs and not the top level." The maiden victory in the US by Lauren was part of "a good couple of days" for the team. Stable pin-up girl My Ruebe Star (Falcon Seelster-Zenola Star (New York Motoring) made it five wins from five starts when she claimed the $33,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap at Yonkers on Thursday. "She's really on fire and we're so pleased because we really had to twist the arm of (NZ-based) owner Mike Siemelink to bring her to the US," Shane said. "Mike sent her over to us from NZ in May last year with the idea to win some races at Menangle and get some quick times to her name and then breed from her. She won six races and was 4th in a Group 3 Final to Bright Energy in 1.50 after storming home from last," he said. "So it was a bit of a radical change of plans, but of all of our horses, 'Ruby' has been the one to acclimatize the quickest. She's in great order; she's dappled up and jumping out of her skin and now we'll look at some of the big mares' races next year with her. "Jordan Stratton has been driving her over here and he's stoked by the way she keeps stepping up. He hasn't had to pushed her right out yet and she's pulled up a treat again." Shane said there was still a learning curve when it came to changes in training methods from the Australian way to the US. "Probably one of the big differences is that we don't work them anywhere near as hard as we did back home. There's been a few other little adjustments along the way, but we'll keep learning and chipping away," he said. "Obviously at some point they'll get on their marks, so we'll just keep making hay while the sun shines." Team Tritton has established an enviable strike-rate since shipping to the States, winning a dozen races from about 40 starters.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

YONKERS, N.Y. – Since the husband and wife training duo of Lauren and Shane Tritton arrived in the United States this spring, their harness racing stable has been on a tear, winning 10 of its first 35 starts, including a 4-for-17 start at Yonkers Raceway. Of the 12 horses the Trittons brought over from Australia, none have adapted quicker or been more consistent than My Ruebe Star, who brings a four-race win streak to the $33,000 filly and mare open handicap Thursday night (July 30). “The horses have done pretty well,” Shane Tritton said. “We’re still learning and we’re still trying to work out the changes between training in Australia and here, but we’re trying to mold it as we go. The horses have been getting better; we knew they’d get better as we went because we are still trying to work out exactly where to race them and where they needed to be. “(My Ruebe Star) has been the horse that’s acclimatized the quickest. She looks a million dollars and she adapted to the way we’re training here better than the rest. We’re pretty happy with her and hopefully she can keep the ball rolling,” Tritton said. “There’s a couple of little things there that you need to adjust and some horses pick up on it quicker than others. She’s been one that you can just tell by looking at her, she’s dappled up and she’s full of beans. I knew she’d keep getting better, we just don’t know where that will end up.” My Ruebe Star is a 6-year-old New Zealand-bred daughter of Falcon Seelster out of the New York Motoring mare Zenola Star. After showing promise in New Zealand for breeder and co-owner Mike Siemelink, My Ruebe Star was exported to Australia in May 2019 and joined Tritton’s ranks. My Ruebe Star won on debut for her new connections with Lauren Tritton in the sulky in a $14,280 overnight at Menangle June 22, 2019. My Ruebe Star racked up another five wins through the end of February 2020 as she climbed the class ladder. She also finished fourth in the Group 3 Garrards New Years Gift Final at Menangle Jan. 11, in which winner Bright Energy was clocked in 1:50.1. “The guy that owned her in New Zealand sent her over to us just to see how she’s shape up at Menangle and she came to us almost a maiden and she raced right through her grades at Menangle,” Tritton said. “She was probably a season shy of going to the top. She ran fourth in a 1:50.1 mile back home a month before we came over. She was just starting to break into some of the better mares’ races and then we shut her down to bring her over here.” Among My Ruebe Star’s best attributes is her gait. Tritton knew she would fit the American style of racing and the half-mile track at Yonkers Raceway, he just needed to persuade the owners, who had their eyes on stakes races in Australia and breeding her later on. “She’s certainly a horse we were desperate to bring,” Tritton said. “It took a bit of convincing of the owners to bring her over. Once we explained that she should do well here, they were happy enough to give us a crack with her and now they’re obviously pretty happy with the decision. We know she can’t keep winning forever, but she’s certainly got the qualities to take out a big race if she can get the right run. “We just knew that with her gait, she would suit the tracks here and she’s probably fitting them better than we could have imagined,” Tritton continued. “We think she’s only going to get better with a season of racing under her belt here. She really hasn’t taken any harm out of the runs she’s had so far, so hopefully she’s still got a bit in the tank and she can keep stepping up.” My Ruebe Star qualified a runner-up at the Goshen Historic Track June 4 before making her first stateside start in a $10,000 Meadowlands overnight June 12, becoming the first pari-mutuel starter and winner for Team Tritton in America. My Ruebe Star took a lifetime mark of 1:50.1 in repeating a week later. “She was a little bit fresh and needed to get that race start under way,” Tritton said. “First two starts, she came through really well at the Meadowlands and we wanted to get her to Yonkers as soon as we could because we knew she was so good-gaited that she’d have a bit of an advantage there over most horses. Once we got her there, she’s come through those runs brilliantly and it hasn’t really taken much of a toll on her.” Tritton moved My Ruebe Star to Yonkers July 9, where she overcame post eight in a $17,250 overnight, riding a pocket trip behind favorite Feelin Red Hot and utilized a :27.0 final quarter to glide past the pacesetter in the stretch for her third consecutive win. In her latest start at the Hilltop July 16, My Ruebe Star went gate-to-wire in 1:52.3 in a $20,250 overnight to make in four in a row.  My Ruebe Star drew post seven in an open draw in this week’s distaff feature and is 8-1 on the morning line with regular driver Jordan Stratton. Snobbytown, twice a winner and once the runner-up in this class in her last three starts for George Brennan and Ron Burke, is the 3-2 morning line favorite after drawing the inside. The field also includes Imprincessgemma, who’s lone win this season came in the filly and mare open handicap Feb. 14 and who has since finished second in this class three times, including twice behind Snobbytown in her last three starts for the Bongiornos. She drew post eight and is 6-1 on the morning line. Monica Gallagher, Lispatty, Kaitlyn, Robyn Camden, and Diamondtoothgertie complete the field. “It’s a tough draw this week and we know these are the best mares going around Yonkers at the moment, so it’s going to be tough,” Tritton said. “We just know that she’s good enough to mix it with them. When she gets the right run, she’ll certainly be good enough to stick her nose out, that’s for sure.” By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Yonkers, NY - Sire Art Major had two harness racing pacers in Tuesday night's New York Sire Stakes divisions for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers and both came away victorious. In the $75,900 first division, Major Betts led all the way to a two and a half length score in 1:51.1. Dexter Dunn was the winning driver for trainer Mark Harder and owners Jannuzzelli, Harder and Frost.   Major Betts started in the Meadowlands Pace Final in his last race but the return to NYSS action got him back to the winner's circle. In the $77,300 second division, Genius Man got up by a nose in an eventful stretch battle in 1:52.3. Save Me A Dance was second with Splash Brother a neck back in third.   Marcus Miller drove the Art Major gelding to victory for trainer Erv Miller and owners Michelon and Plouffe. Racing at Yonkers Raceway continues Thursday and Friday night this week, first race is 7:12pm by Alex Dadoyan, for Yonkers Raceway  

Yonkers, NY - Tuesday night, Yonkers Raceway hosted three $48,866 New York Sire Stakes divisions for two-year-old harness racing trotting fillies. In the first division, race five, No Pay No Way sprung a 22-1 upset by a neck in 2:00 flat. The daughter of Credit Winner was driven to victory by Scott Zeron for his father trainer Rick Zeron and the Bay Pond Racing Stable of Malvern, Pennsylvania.   In the second division, race six, driver Tyler Buter avoided any mishaps with several early breakers in the field and cruised home to a four and one-quarter length victory with Destined to Dance in 1:58.3. The daughter of Chapter Seven is trained by John Butenschoen and owned by Heritage Standardbreds, Crawford Farms and Preziotti.   In the third division, race seven, Insured Am S was another winning daughter of Chapter Seven, prevailing by one length in 1:59.2. Brian Sears was the winning driver for trainer Marcus Melander and Courant Inc.   Live racing continues at Yonkers Raceway Thursday and Friday nights this week, first post is 7:12pm. by Alex Dadoyan, for Yonkers Raceway  

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