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YONKERS, NY, Monday, July 29, 2019-Long-time Yonkers Raceway racing secretary Steve Starr is retiring, effective Wednesday (July 31st). Starr has been 'putting together' Yonkers races since early 1976 after serving an apprenticeship under both Ed Parker and Richard O'Donnell. Of course, at that time, New York-area racing alternated, with three-month stays at Roosevelt Raceway and Yonkers. Before leaving and turning over the big chair to assistant Bob Miecuna, Starr looked back. "When I first started, we had classified racing, A, B, C, and paper eligibility, so the race office had more control," he said. "It was in the early 1990's that we went to condition racing. "It became easier. The horses classify themselves and you don't have to be as observant." Ask Starr about his favorite horsemen and you get names such as Buddy Gilmour ('Straight shooter. Would give you the shirt off his back and the shoes off his feet.'), Lucien Fontaine and Ted Wing ('Professionals'). "I didn't have a problem with anyone as long as they were good to talk to and had nothing to hide," he said. "Maybe it's me, but I think the horsemen worked harder back then. Today, there seem to be three times as many trainers, owners and drivers, so we see a lot more people." Starr spoke fondly of the Rooneys, whose ownership of the Raceway essentially spanned his time as racing secretary. "I can't say enough good things about (former YR president) Tim (Rooney), (former general manager) Bob (Galterio) and the family. They allowed me to do my job, paid me a good salary and I was able to get married and raise my own family. "I guess the best thing I could say is that I enjoyed my job and was 100 percent ready to go to work every day," Starr said. "I know people who make a lot of money and are good at their jobs, but hate it. I have no regrets. As for the immediate future, "Spending time with the children and grandchildren. "I owe my wife (Denise) a lot of vacations, so we're going to travel," Starr said. "By car. I don't like to fly." Flying wasn't needed when Starr's visited the winner's circle, where Yonkers' horsemen and racing officials stopped by and wished him well. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 27, 2019 - Winnerup (Trond Smedshammer, $5.80) and Livinonthedash (Marcus Miller, $2.20) proved best Saturday night (July 27th), dividing Yonkers Raceway $170,500 New York Sire Stakes Milt Taylor Trot for harness racing 3-year-old colts and geldings. A pair of $85,250 races comprised the event. Winnerup, who has been his own worst enemy more than once this season, was a good boy here. From post position No. 5, he worked it out from second-over. Cavill Hanover (Dan Dube), as the 3-4 favorite, could not stand the prosperity of soft (:28.1; 57.2) fractions. He was rolled over by Lucky Weekend (George Brennan) right around the 1:26.1 three-quarters. Meanwhile, Winnerup was waiting his turn before taking over. He widened through the lane, whipping his tow by 4¼ widening lengths in 1:55.1. Horns for Three (Miller) was third at 116-1, with Whimzical Chapter (Dan Daley)-trapped behind the stopping leader-and Chip Chip Conway (Jason Bartlett) picking off the minors. Cavill Hanover tired to sixth, beating a pair of breakers. For second choice Winnerup, a son of Credit Winner owned by Purple Haze Stables and trained by his driver, it was his fourth win in nine seasonal starts. The exacta paid $25.60, the triple returned $325 and the superfecta paid $2,295. The evening's second sire stakes rendition saw a determined Livinonthedash-essentially gifted a win when Winnerup jumped it off the first time this division came here-need no such largesse now. From post No. 5, he sat out there as maiden Skyway Kon Man (Smedshammer) decided to park everyone. 'Everyone' included Jason's Camden (Bartlett) and a three-deep Our White Knight (Jim Marohn Jr.) After intervals of :28.2; 56.4 and 1:26.4, the leader tired early in the lane. While this way going on, Livinonthedash went widest and closed fastest. He defeated an out-the-mile Jason's Camden by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:56.2. Refi (Jordan Stratton), Skyway Con Man and Powerscourt (Mickey McGivern) settled for the small envelopes. Livinonthedash For Livinonthedash, a Muscle Mass colt co-owned by (trainer) Erv Miller, David Prushnok and Tangie Massey, it was his seventh win in a dozen '19 tries. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $5.70, the triple paid $60 and the superfecta paid $167.50. Saturday night's pair of $46,000 Open Handicaps were won by... -- (Trot) Eye ofa Tiger AS (Bartlett, $54) in life-best-matching 1:54.2; -- (Pace) The Real One (Pat Lachance, $8.10) in 1:51.3, a 50th career victory. New York Sire Stakes returns downstate Friday night (Aug. 2nd ), with the Frank Becerra Pace for 2-year-old fillies (purse TBA). Total purses for the 2019 New York-bred program are estimated at $14 million. For more information, please visit www.nysirestakes.com. Click here for full results of tonight's program Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 26, 2019 - Favored Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan, $4.10) gave nothing else a shot-again-Friday night (July 26th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's $46,000 harness racing filly and mare Open Handicap Pace. It was not much more than a summer rerun, with Feelin' Red Hot hurdling over her half-dozen inside foes to make the lead in the first turn. From there, it was stealing money (:27.2, :55.4, 1:23, 1:51.2, a tick better than what was last week's season-best effort). Eclipse Me N (Dan Dube) offered a weak, first-up bid from fourth. Feelin' Red Hot opened 3½ lengths off the final turn, belying the final margin of a couple of lengths. Annabeth (Austin Siegelman) saved second as the 43-1 polester, with Twinkle (Brent Holland), a drifting Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) and Eclipse Me N rounding out the payees. For Feelin' Red Hot, a 6-year-old daughter of Feelin' Friskie co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, it was her ninth win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $73, the triple returned $327 and the superfecta paid $1,198. For the results of tonights program click here. Frank Drucker

Yonkers, NY -- As the participating members in the NAADA Series ready for an international competition next week with the visiting Italian amateurs the eighth leg of the current local harness racing series went to post for an $8000 purse tonight at Yonkers Raceway on the betting card and when the race was official, Paul Minore's old warhorse, Wygant Prince, the longest shot on the board (24-1), went wire to wire to score his first seasonal triumph, albeit the 39th of his illustrious career. After grabbing the racetrack from the four-hole Minore played hardball when the odds-on favorite , Tough Get Going (Joe Faraldo) came calling. Despite a :28.2 first quarter Minore refused to allow Faraldo' s trotter to gain command and the two whizzed by the half in :57.4.. And as the two leaders headed for the three quarters they were still heads apart. However, at that point Tough Get Going understandably began to fade while incredibly the 12-year old Wygant Prince kept going forward. He passed the third stanza in 1:28. and opened a 2-length lead on his competitors. When they headed for paydirt David Glasser's, Eyore Hanover, rallied from far back but ran out of racetrack and had to settle for second money as Wygant Prince got off the schnide to notch his first victory this season. Third place went to Fiji, with Dave Offenberg aboard. Those who wagered on Wygant Prince who treated to a $51.00 payoff. He is owned by his driver and trained by Taylor Gower. by John Manzi, for the NAADA Series    

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, July 24, 2019--Yonkers Raceway has made a change to its live harness racing schedule. The card of Friday, Aug. 16th has been eliminated, replaced by Friday, Oct. 11th (usual first post 6:50 PM). The cancellation is to accommodate a Kool & the Gang concert taking place on the track apron. The schedule amendments have been approved by the New York State Gaming Commission.   Frank Drucker Manager of Publicity Yonkers  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 20, 2019 - Scott Rocks (Eric Goodell, $8.30) and Will Take Charge (Jordan Stratton, $6.30) both went the distance Saturday night (July 20th), winning Yonkers Raceway's pair of $46,000 harness racing co-featured Open Handicaps. From post position No. 4 in the weekly pacing feature, Scott Rocks had to work around 95-1 pole-assigned Great Vintage (Troy Beyer). He did, making the lead right at a :26.2 opening quarter-mile. The longshot leaver forced slight 5-2 favorite Caviart Luca (George Brennan) to take a three-hole before that one made a second move. Caviart Luca went after Scott Rocks from a :55.3 intermission to a 1:22.4 three-quarters, with The Real One (Pat Lachance) second-over. Scott Rocks owned a length-and-three-quarter leader into the lane, then closed the sale. He defeated The Real One by three-quarters of a length, with Caviart Luca third. A belated eight-holer Micky Gee N (Stratton) and Proven Desire (Jim Marohn Jr.) picked off the remainder. For fourth choice Scott Rocks, a 9-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding co-owned by Northfork Racing & Chuck Pompey and trained by Hunter Oakes, it was his sixth win in 15 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $54, the triple paid $147.50 and the superfecta paid $585. Will Take Charge did his bidding from post No. 7 in the week's marque trot. Out into the second turn, he eventually went past In Secret (Brennan) after that one's :27.3 opening quarter. Will Take Charge From there, intervals of :56.3, 1:25.4 and a season-best-matching 1:54 made it fairly simple. The final margin over In Secret was a length-and-three-quarters, with 13-10 choice Melady's Monet (Goodell) a never-in-it third. New Heaven (Marohn Jr.) and Eye ofa Tiger AS (Jason Bartlett) settled for the smaller envelopes. For second choice Will Take Charge, a 6-year-old Kadabra gelding co-owned by (trainer) Jeff Gillis and Mac Nichol, it was his fourth win in a dozen '19 tries. The exacta paid $31, the triple paid $133 and the superfecta paid $245.50. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – Lord Cromwell has proven to be a talented trotter, amassing 16 wins from 57 starts and earning $396,626 to date for harness racing owners and breeders Irving and Carolyn Atherton. The 5-year-old scored his first victory in the $46,000 Open Handicap Trot at Yonkers Raceway last week (July 13) and seeks to double up tonight (July 20).  The Atherton’s are thankful each time their Chapter Seven son steps on the track after nearly losing their homebred as a 2-year-old. Lord Cromwell always made a good impression as a young horse. Out of the Athertons’ mare Oh Oh It’s Magic, who won the 2007 Empire Breeders’ Classic Final and earned $392,202, the Athertons and trainer Ed Hart sung praises about Lord Cromwell as he trained well.  “When he was born, he looked the part. When he was a yearling, Ed Hart said he thought he was going to be a really, really good horse,” Irving Atherton recalled. “Your trainer tells you as a 2-year-old he’s training in 2:04 on a five-eighths track and then he calls back the next day and says, ‘I couldn’t get him to go 2:30.’ It’s really just not a good feeling.” Hart and the Athertons consulted several vets, but none could determine what, if anything, was wrong with Lord Cromwell. Finally, the Athertons sent Lord Cromwell to a clinic in Pennsylvania, where a discovery was made. “We found out that he had severely infected testicles. As soon as they saw him, they saw the enlargement and they took x-rays and they said they had to geld him right on the spot,” Atherton said. “They thought within 24 or 48 hours, he would have died on us.” After flirting with death, Lord Cromwell still made four starts as a 2-year-old and won two divisions of the $6,700 New York Excelsior B Series. However, it was at 3 that Lord Cromwell began to shine.  Lord Cromwell impressed in his training and scored a 1:56 qualifying win at the Meadowlands April 15, 2017. Hart and the Athertons entered Lord Cromwell in the Dexter Cup eliminations two weeks later. With John Campbell in the sulky, he was dismissed at odds of 7-1, but posted a wire-to-wire 3-length victory. Lord Cromwell returned the following week to score a 5¼-length win in the $143,737 final in a stakes record 1:55.0. “We got the highest pleasure from John Campbell, he thought he was a Hambletonian horse,” Atherton recalled. “He did what he had to do and he still has the track record for the Dexter.” Ineligible for the Hambletonian, Lord Cromwell raced on the New York circuit at 3, winning a leg of the New York Sire Stakes at Saratoga and the Landmark at Goshen. He finished third from post seven in the $225,000 NYSS Final. Last year, Lord Cromwell made the Final of the Graduate Trotting Series and raced in the conditioned and Open ranks at Yonkers, Pocono Downs, and the Meadowlands. Now at 5, the gelding is getting even better. Lord Cromwell won his seasonal debut in a $23,000 overnight at Yonkers March 15 and finished third in a local Open Handicap Trot next out March 30. He was on the board in two $29,000 races at the Hilltop before a string of four losses sent him to a $12,500 overnight at Pocono, where he recorded at lifetime mark of 1:53 May 28. Lord Cromwell went back-to-back at Pocono for $14,000 June 8 before returning to Yonkers. He worked his way back up the conditions and made it to the $46,000 Open last week. With the benefit of starting from post one, Lord Cromwell rode a pocket trip behind Will Take Charge and collared that rival in the stretch to score a neck win in 1:53.3. “He was super, he was just superb. He got a nice pocket trip. It was terrific,” Atherton said. “It’s a pleasure to watch him. I know he gives 100 percent every time he’s out there. “It’s a fantastic feeling,” Atherton continued. “The greatest places in the world to win races are Yonkers and the Meadowlands. He’s just a good horse. He’s a pleasure to watch race because he’s always trying and we’re as thrilled as anybody can be. We have a nice horse to watch and we know that anytime he steps onto the track, he’s got a chance because he’s not a quitter.” Despite his impressive record, Lord Cromwell is on the smaller side and is a light horse. He sometimes requires time off to recover from hard races and is lightly raced, with just 57 starts in his 3 years on the track. “He’s a very, very bad eater. He probably should have another 100 or 200 pounds on him, but he’s very fussy,” Atherton said. “We have this special food that Ed Hart gets from California. That’s why he’s not heavily raced because he has to get some time off. He gives everything he’s got. He’s not a big guy, he’s not tiny, but he’s not a big horse. Just  nice, good-hearted, and he wants to win.” Lord Cromwell drew post six for his repeat bid in the featured trot and will have Larry Stalbaum in the sulky. Will Take Charge drew immediately to Lord Cromwell’s outside and Eye Ofa Tiger As will start from post eight. New Heaven, who won two straight races on the lead before finishing sixth while coming from off the pace in last week’s Open, will start from post three. In Secret will start from post five off a front-stepping score from post seven last out. In My Dreams, Trotting Grace, and Melady’s Monet complete the lineup. “The race is a difficult race to handicap because I think Will Take Charge will leave again and my feeling is the horse who didn’t leave last week, New Heaven, he might leave because he’s got the three hole. There is some speed in there. Larry Stalbaum is going to have to drive a smart race,” Atherton said. Whatever the result tonight, Atherton is just happy to have Lord Cromwell on the track. “I’ve been in this game a long, long time,” he said. “You know the ups and downs and now you’ve got to enjoy the ups. We’ve had a lot of ups in our life.” Saturday night’s card also features the $46,000 Open Handicap Pace and the $37,000 4-Year-Old Open Handicap Pace.  For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 19, 2019--Favored Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan $5.80) gave nothing else a shot Friday night (July 19th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's $46,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. As she did a week ago, Feelin' Red Hot went up and over her inside harness racing foes. In this case, that was all six of 'em, as assigned eight-holer Betterb Chevron N came up ill. Feelin' Red Hot worked around Twinkle (Brent Holland), rating things much more realistically (:27.2, :56.1, 1:23.1) than last week before taking off. She opened three lengths at the three-quarters and five lengths of the final turn before whipping Twinkle by a half-dozen in a season's-best 1:51.3. Third went to Annabeth (Mark MacDonald), with Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) and Lispatty (Joe Bongiorno) settling for the minors. For Feelin' Red Hot, a 6-year-old daughter of Feelin' Friskie co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, it was her eighth win in 22 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $40, the triple returned $372 and the superfecta paid $1,631. Deferring to the forecast of excessive heat throughout the area, the Raceway has pushed back its first post for Saturday night (July 20th) to 7:50 PM...one hour later than usual.   Frank Drucker Manager of Publicity Yonkers

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 19, 2019-Deferring to the forecast of excessive heat throughout the area, Yonkers Raceway has pushed back its first post for Saturday night (July 20th) to 7:50 PM...one hour later than usual. This post-time alteration is for one night only.   For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627.   Frank Drucker Manager of Publicity Yonkers

YONKERS, N.Y. – Mike Napoli hit 267 home runs during his Major League Baseball (MLB) career, has 28 victories as a Thoroughbred racehorse owner, and now the 37-year-old is chasing his first win as a harness racing owner in the claiming ranks at Yonkers Raceway. A first baseman and catcher during a 12-year MLB run that included stints playing for the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians, Napoli is also a lifelong horse racing fan. Growing up in South Florida, Napoli frequently attended the races at Calder Race Course with his grandfather as he chased his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player.  Napoli was drafted in 2000 at age 19 and played in the minor leagues until 2005. Napoli made his MLB debut in 2006 and hit a homerun in his first MLB at-bat. Napoli was behind the plate for the post season in 2011 with the Rangers, in 2013 for the Red Sox, and in 2016 for the Indians.  When Napoli retired from baseball in December 2018, he sought action of a different kind. Through mutual friends, Napoli met a racing manager at Gulfstream Park during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Napoli realized for the amount he was wagering on the races, he could get involved as an owner. The pair hit it off and exchanged numbers.  Napoli claimed his first Thoroughbred in January 2019. One quickly grew to seven and seven grew to 12. Within four months, the stable stood at 25-strong. Year-to-date, Napoli’s runners have won 28 races from 65 starts and placed another 19 times, good for $553,170. Napoli’s horses compete mainly in Florida, New Jersey, and New York.  Napoli took his first owner’s title at the Gulfstream Park meet that concluded June 30, topping the list with 16 victories. He also won his first stakes race when Heading Home took the $75,000 Jersey Girl Handicap at Monmouth Park July 7.  An avid racing fan and bettor, Napoli and his racing manager were enjoying an evening watching harness racing at the Meadowlands and Yonkers via simulcast. Whether fueled by the need for more action, the desire to try something new, or just too many beers, Napoli and his manager decided to dive into the harness game. New to the harness business, Napoli’s racing manager received Jenn Bongiorno’s number from a friend. He saw the trainer’s high win percentage and Italian heritage and was sold. Bongiorno recommended claiming the roan 10-year-old pacer Gypsy Leather and Napoli, a particular fan of gray horses, and his manager concurred. Knowing Yonkers was the place they wanted to be due to the good drivers, trainers, and purses, Napoli was in the box June 14. He claimed the 42-time winner from Brittany Robertson for $20,000.   Gypsy Leather debuted for Bongiorno and Napoli June 21, finishing second for a $25,000 tag after a pocket-sitting trip. He was the runner up again July 5 after setting the pace in a $25,000 claiming handicap and last out July 12, closed from 12 lengths behind to finish second by a nose from post eight. Napoli and his manager immediately noticed the primary difference between owning a Thoroughbred and a Standardbred is the timing between races. They often wait a month between starts at the flat track, but get action every week at the harness track. Although their business and expertise are anchored in the Thoroughbred game, Napoli’s racing manager conceded the economics of harness ownership appear to make more sense. Gypsy Leather will be back in action Friday night (July 19) at Yonkers. He will start from post four in a $25,000 claiming handicap and is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the six-horse field. Should Napoli get his first win as a harness owner in this spot, his racing manager, who wished to remain anonymous, predicts the star will be celebrating from South Florida. “I would say he’ll probably jump through the TV. He gets real excited,” he said. “We’ve had discussions about hitting a home run or about winning a race. He says it’s close to being the same. The racing, he gets butterflies in his stomach, he gets real excited and nervous. We discussed hitting a home run with 50,000 people in the stands and millions watching on TV. He says that was his job, it wasn’t really the same thing. Even though we’re a claiming operation right now, to us, you get that ‘W’ and it’s still a great feeling to win.” With continued success, Napoli could expand his harness stable. He is looking forward to visiting Bongiorno’s New Jersey stable, where he will doubtlessly enjoy another perk of harness racing: jogging his own horse. If his brief history as a Thoroughbred owner is any indication, Napoli could be at the top of the harness owners’ leaderboard in no time. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY    

Yonkers, NY--Like fine wine Joe Faraldo just keeps getting better. The driving barrister scored yet another harness racing victory with his old warhorse Tough Get Going when they bottomed-out the field with an impressive 2:00 wire-to-wire victory in the $8000 NAADA Trot at Yonkers Raceway tonight (July 18). "His wonderful ability of leaving like a runner sure helps when we're looking for a good position and tonight he grabbed the lead on the first turn and we were pretty comfortable after that," Faraldo said via phone after the race. After starting from the five hole Faraldo sent his charge to the lead and they had command even before the first turn and they led their competition by the first stanza in :29. Snug on the lead Tough Get Going led the field by the halfway point in 1:00.2 but at that point David Glasser hustled Eyore Haover up alongside Faraldo's charge and the two then raced side by side up the backstretch. As they approached the three quarters Hannah Miller-who was getting a two-hole journey- moved Jacks To Open tighter on Faraldo's back . "Hannah's horse was fresh and with Glasser on the limb I backed into Hannah to keep her in behind me as long as I could. She did shake loose at the top of the stretch but it was too late," Faraldo added. At the wire Tough Get Going rambled home a 1-1/2 length winner over Jacks To Open. Eyore Hanover hung on for the show dough in the non-wagering event. For Smokin' Joe it was his 150th driving victory   by John Manzi for NAADA    

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, July 16, 2019--Yonkers Raceway Tuesday evening (July 16th) hosted the humid $156,600 New York Sire Stakes Hugh Grant Trot for 2-year-old harness racing fillies. Three, $52,200 races comprised the event. There wasn't much out of the ordinary in the first division. Death-and-taxes Love a Good Story (Andy Miller, $2.20) sat off some ambitious fractions (:27.4, :57.3, 1:27.4), before moving to the lead and drawing off. From post position No. 3 (in one notch after a defection), she whipped I'lldotitmyself (Scott Zeron) by 3¾ lengths in 1:57.2. C Me Hyde (Phil Fluet) and Seeking Royalty (Jordan Stratton), 1-2 through those quick early intervals, wound up third and fourth, respectively. For Love a Good Story, a daughter of Chapter Seven co-owned by Pinske Stables & Kentuckiana Racing Stable and trained by Julie Miller, it was her third (NYSS) win in as many seasonal/career starts. The exacta paid $32.80, the triple returned $80,50 the superfecta paid $573. "She's just so good," driver Miller said. "She made it look easy." Love a Good Story                                  --Mike Lizzi photo Tuesday night's second sire stakes rendition saw a determined Munster (Stratton, $5.80) hold off a second pocket-pull of Sorprese (Dan Daley). From post No. 5, the former went the distance (:28.4, :58.1, 1:27.3, maiden-breaking 1:57.4), defeating that rival by a length-and-three-quarters. Seventimesalady (Ake Svanstedt) was third as the 6-5 favorite, with Olympic Glory (Andy Miller) rounding out the gimmick numbers. "It was the first time I'd driven her, but she showed she could leave, so I left," Stratton said. "Then she dug in." For second choice Munster, a Chapter Seven miss trained by Per Engblom for co-owners Black Horse Racing and Wiesman Farms, it was that first win in a pair of season/life tries. The exacta paid $57, the triple returned $199.50 and the superfecta paid $2,422. It took until the final statebred soiree for the gauntlet to be thrown down. Odds-on HypnoticAM (Brian Sears, $2.70) vaulted up and over her six inside rivals--the outside foe was scratched--then had her way in a gapped-out group (:28, :57.4, 1:26.3, 1:56.1). The final distance between Hypnotic AM and bridesmaid Really Blue Chip (Anthony MacDonald) was 5¾ lengths, while the time was a new track record for the her weight class (Plunge Blue Chip-1:56.2 in '17). Destiny Blue Chip (Svanstedt, part of entry) was third, For Hypnotic AM, a homebred Chapter Seven ma'am trained by Marcus Melander for owner Courant Inc., she's started out 2-for-2 after another blowout NYSS win (in identical times). The exacta paid $24.20, the triple returned $50 and no superfecta wagering due to the presence of a coupled entry. "Those Melanders do a helluva job," Sears said. New York Sire Stakes returns downstate Saturday night (July 27th), with the Milt Taylor Trot for 3-year-old colts/geldings (purse TBA). Total purses for the 2019 New York-bred program are estimated at $14 million. For more information, please visit www.nysirestakes.com.   Frank Drucker Manager of Publicity Yonkers

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 13, 2019 -- Columbo (Eric Goodell, $6.70), sans the rumpled raincoat, was the fastest frosh Saturday night (July 13th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $120,250 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace for harness racing 2-year-old colts and geldings. The race again honored the Hall of Fame founder of Hanover Shoe Farms. From post position No. 4, Columbo had designs on leaving, but was caught wide early as the inside threesome all had the same idea. Hunter Hill (Tyler Buter), as the 9-5 favorite, eventually worked around American Rebel (Pat Lachance), making the lead before a non-stressed, 29-second opening quarter-mile. They weren't going much (:57.4) to the half, either, when Columbo took out of fourth. He began to engage Hunter Hill after a 1:26.2 three-quarters, with Save Me a Dance (Jason Bartlett) working from second-over. Hunter Hill was grudgingly giving up the ghost in and out of the final turn as Columbo put him away. The latter then held off Save Me a Dance to win by a half-length in 1:55.4. A from-last, eight-hole Manticore (Jim Marohn Jr.) closed crisply for third at 36-1, with a tiring Hunter Hill and American Rebel settling for the smaller envelopes. Level Up (Mark MacDonald), Han Solo (George Brennan) and a misbehaving-early lone gelding Freedom Warrior (Jordan Stratton) completed the order. For third choice Columbo, a son of Sweet Lou owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by Gareth Dowse, it was his second win in as many season/career tries. He did take down the fastest of last week's three eliminations in 1:54. The exacta here paid $15.60, the triple paid $163.50 and the superfecta paid $468.50. "You never know how these races with 2-year-olds are going to unfold," Goodell said. "Before anything, you want to get around the first turn "I thought about moving when Tyler (Buter, driving Hunter Hill) did, and I thought I made a mistake when I didn't," Goodell said. "When I did go with him, he was acting sort of goofy, sort of wanting to make friends with the other horses. He didn't really seem to get it until late. "I think he can move forward from here." Saturday night's pair of $46,000 Open/Open Handicaps were won by... --(Open Pace), Scott Rocks (Buter, $7) in a life-best 1:51.2; --(Open Handicap Trot), Cromwell (Bartlett, $12.20) in 1:53.3, fastest local trot mile of the season. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 12, 2019-Odds-on harness racing favorite Betterb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton, $3.50) set well off some scorched-earth fractions of Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan) Friday night (July 12th), then rolled by that rival in winning Yonkers Raceway's $46,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Feelin' Red Hot vaulted up and over her seven inside rivals, making an immediate lead while hanging a looped Eclipse Me N (Jim Marohn Jr.) in the process. There was nighttime daylight through unseemly intervals of :26.2, 54 seconds-flat and 1:21.4, but while the margin was shrinking, the leader did not just slink away. Betterb Chevron N, away sixth from post position No. 4, circled widest and took out after her target. She easily went by Feelin' Red Hot, widening by 2¼ lengths in a life-best 1:51. Feelin' Red Hot raced her eyeballs out and was a clear second, with Dibaba N (Eric Goodell), Lispatty (Joe Bongiorno) and Twinkle (Brent Holland) picking off the smaller portions. For Betterb Chevron N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by William Hartt and trained by Lance Hudson, it was her sixth win in 16 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $34, the triple returned $224 and the superfecta paid $1,352. Saturday night (July 13th) finds the Raceway offering the $120,250 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace (2-year-old colts/geldings). The Sheppard, honoring the Hall of Fame founder of Hanover Shoe Farms, goes as the eighth of a dozen races. Post time is the usual 6:50 PM.   Frank Drucker Manager of Publicity Yonkers

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, July 11, 2019-Yonkers Raceway Thursday evening (July 11th) hosted the soggy $153,900 New York Sire Stakes Clyde Hirt Pace for 2-year-old harness racing fillies. Four races comprised the event. The opening ($37,950) division saw a pole-pocketed The Fun Marshall (Scott Zeron, $11) pick off 3-10 favorite Fashion Hill (Tyler Buter) by a head in a maiden-breaking 1:55.4. That latter led at every interval (:28, 57.2, 1:27)...save for the last one. Hen Party (Yannick Gingras) was a best-of-the-rest third. For second choice The Fun Marshall, a daughter of So Surreal co-owned by (trainer) Richie Silverman, Mary Kinsey Arnold, Edward McEnery & Michael Gluckman, it was that first win in three seasonal/career starts. The exacta paid $19, with triple and superfecta wagering cancelled due to a short (five-horse) field. "She beat a nice horse," Zeron said. "She needed a trip to do it, but she's a handy filly." The next/final divisions went consecutively, each at $38,650. Merga Hanover (Gingras, $5.70)-from post position No. 2-retook from Racine Bell (Jason Bartlett), then held that one at bay by a length (:29, :58.4, 1:27.4, 1:56.2). So Rude (Brian Sears) was a first-up third as the 7-5 choice, while Roll with Angel (Zeron) was fourth. For second choice Merga Hanover, an American Ideal miss trained by Ron Burke for co-owner Thomas & Scott Dillon, Joe Sbrocco and W J Donovan, it was her second win in as many season/life tries. The exacta paid $51, the triple returned $125.50 and the superfecta paid $889. "She didn't do anything fancy, but she did get around the track very well," Gingras said. I think she could be a Grand Circuit filly." The third sire stakes event was a tour de slop for Galleria Gal (Buter, $8.80). Vaulting past her six inside rivals at the outset, she was never a loser here (:29.1, :59, 1:27.2, 1:55.4). The final margin was 4½ lengths. Rare Jimstone (Bartlett) was a loose pocket second, with 13-10 fave Coconut Beach (Marcus Miller) a non-threatening third. For second choice Galleria Gal, a daughter of Art Major co-owned by Theresa Donnelly & Fernando Amesti and trained by John Berger, it was her first win in three season/life tries. The exzacta paid $25.20, with the triple returning $81.50 (superfecta not offered-start of Pick 5). The statebred finale had Cash Roll (Zeron, $3.40) have to work for the lead, but few issues thereafter. Cash Roll                                              --Mike Lizzi Photo From post No. 7, she was too tough (:28.3, :58.4, 1:27.3, life-best 1:56), widening to whip first leader Jackie's Express (George Brennan) by 4¼ lengths. Third went to Turnthefrownaround (Dexter Dunn), with Hidden Cove (Miller) fourth. For Cash Roll, a Roll with Joe ma'am trained by Richard Ringler for owner Louis Palumbo, she's started out 3-for-3. The exacta paid $36.20, the triple returned $133.50 and the superfecta paid $349.50. New York Sire Stakes returns downstate Tuesday night (July 16th), with the $156,600 Hugh Grant Trot for 2-year-old fillies. Total purses for the 2019 New York-bred program are estimated at $14 million. For more information, please visit www.nysirestakes.com.   by FRANK DRUCKER Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – When harness racing trainer Kevin Lare purchased Freedom Warrior off trainer Jimmy Nickerson in mid-June, the freshman gelding came with a warning. Although he already qualified twice with Tim Tetrick in the sulky, including a 1:52.4 second-place finish with a :26.4 final quarter, the American Ideal son had yet to race and was still green. “When I bought him, I had been told by Timmy Tetrick and the gentleman I bought him from that he’s just a 2-year-old, that he hadn’t learned yet and it didn’t take much for him to get really hot-headed, run away, stuff like that,” Lare said. However, to Lare’s surprise, he experienced no issues with Freedom Warrior leading up to the gelding’s first start in the eliminations of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace last Saturday (July 6) at Yonkers. Freedom Warrior was two fingers when training with cotton-stuffed ears and an ear hood. However, for his first race, Lare opted for pop-out ear plugs. “The other night, I warmed him up, he was fine,” Lare said. “I passed somebody warming up, somebody passed me. I actually had to tap him with the whip because I wanted to go a good last quarter warming him up to make sure he was OK to get around that track. “I made an equipment change,” the trainer continued. “Now I’m in a race going for money, I go to the pop-out earplugs. I know he can hear through the ear plugs some from putting them in him at the farm; they’re not completely soundproof.” Just before the start of Freedom Warrior’s elimination, the last of three that evening, fireworks went off near the racetrack. Freedom Warrior heard them and became a runaway with Jordan Stratton in the sulky. As the race began, the fireworks went off again, and Freedom Warrior took off. “They set off some fireworks about 30 seconds before he went to go to the gate and Jordan said he lost his mind when he heard that,” Lare explained. “Jordan put him to the gate, and as the gate folded, Jordan said they set some more fireworks off as they hit the first turn, and he lost his mind again and Jordan was just a passenger.” Freedom Warrior pulled Stratton along, unratable and barely controllable. He was 3 lengths clear of the field past a quarter of :27.1 and after a half-mile in :54.4, the first-time starter was 10 lengths ahead of his nearest rival. Lare watched from the paddock, bracing for the worst. “I knew he was going to stop and that he was getting ready to come home in 40 seconds if he doesn’t fall. I’m thinking that he’s going to fall because he’s going to choke him off,” Lare recounted. “I thought he was going to choke, flip a palate, hopefully he doesn’t fall, but I just know he’s coming home in :35 tops. I just know he’s getting ready to pull up to a walk.” However, Freedom Warrior stayed on top by 7 lengths through three-quarters in 1:23.4. But fatigue soon began to set in. Waiting in the wings, a trio of rivals – Columbo, Hunter Hill, and Roll With JR – took their aim. Columbo took the first shot, edging to the outside at the top of the stretch as he appeared poised to go past the tiring leader. Meanwhile, Hunter Hill and Roll With JR loomed close behind. With only the top two finishers guaranteed to advance to the final, Lare was ready to pack his bags. “I know at that point in time the best he’s going to be is fourth, that these three are going right by him,” Lare said. “But when the first one got to him, he took back off and raced that horse. That was awfully impressive to me. I couldn’t believe it and Jordan couldn’t believe it either.” Freedom Warrior dug in, only letting Columbo past in the final sixteenth. The others never got to him and Freedom Warrior finished second by 1 ¼ lengths to earn a place in the $120,250 Sheppard Final this Saturday (July 13).  “Is he fast? Yeah, he’s fast. We saw that the other night. Without a doubt, he is a nice horse, but he doesn’t need many trips like that, for sure,” Lare said. “Jordan never did pull the plugs on him or touch him with the whip. He felt bad for the horse, as I did. I definitely was not coming back for the final at the half. I thought he was getting ready to walk across the wire. I did not see that coming at all. “I hope it’s that easy of a fix, that I can just go back and put the cotton in his ears. I can only hope,” Lare said. “You jog him without the cotton, the stone hits the wheels, here where we’re at, trains hook up right behind us and he does freak out. But when he’s got his ear hood on and the cotton in his ears, I can send my 12-year-old kid out to jog him and he wouldn’t be a problem.” Bred by Curran Racing, Adam Michael, and Heidi Rohr and trained down by Rohr’s husband, Freedom Warrior came onto Lare’s radar after being contacted by an agent. Lare and owner Forrest Bartlett have been searching for a talented 2-year-old for several years, and the pair felt Freedom Warrior was that horse. “I’ve been telling an agent for the last couple years that I’ve been looking for a top-notch 2-year-old if they could find one. The owner, Forrest Bartlett, we’ve actually tried to buy a few in the last couple years here,” Lare said. “He was always willing to step up to the plate. Forrest wasn’t interested in one that just looked OK, he wanted one that had a chance of being a top-ten horse. (The agent) called me and that was it, we got the job done from there.” Although one might pass Freedom Warrior by on looks alone, Lare was immediately impressed by the gelding’s gait and his ease of motion. “He’s not a big, strappy-looking horse or anything like that. He’s a gelding, so he’s not built like a stud horse or anything,” Lare said. “He’s not a looker, he’s not one that you’re going to turn your head and say, ‘wow, look at that horse.’  “But on the racetrack, he covers so much ground,” Lare continued. “When I sat behind him and trained him, I was impressed because he covers the ground so easy and he covers so much of it. When he picks them up and puts them down, horses that wear a longer hopple than he does, he’s covering more ground than they are every stride. He does it very easily and effortlessly. I really like that about him.” After purchasing Freedom Warrior, Lare took the gelding to Ocean Downs to qualify June 27. Although the heavy half-mile track was not ideal for the 2-year-old, it was the trainer’s last chance to get a trial in before the Sheppard. Lare expected a slow mile, but got more than he bargained for when finishing second a half-length behind Breeze Away B in a 1:56.2 mile. “The track was really deep. Jonathan said that was a 54-and-a-piece mile at Yonkers. So, I was very impressed with him that day,” Lare recalled. “I did have to make a couple equipment changes after qualifying that day, but that’s why I went down there, to find out exactly what I needed to do.” Freedom Warrior drew post six in the Sheppard Final and will again have Stratton in the sulky. Elimination winners American Rebel, Columbo, and Save Me A Dance drew posts two, four, and five, respectively while elimination runner ups Han Solo and Manticore will start from post one and post eight, respectively. Hunter Hill and Level Up, the two fastest third-place finishers in last week’s eliminations, drew posts three and seven, respectively.  “Of course, I would have liked to draw the rail in the final too. After what happened last week, I think he would have gained a lot of respect leaving the gate. I’m sure he’s going to be headed in the same direction anyway, we just hope it isn’t as fast fractions,” Lare said. “Of course, the six hole is no advantage there, but with his gate speed, it’s not going to hinder him that much. He is quick off the wings, but we just want to be able to settle him back down. “I think he’s got a huge chance. Personally, I think he’s the best, I really do,” Lare continued. “They’ve got him to beat in my opinion. All he’s got to do is get some honest fractions. He can pace as fast home as he was leaving the gate last week, he just can’t do it off those fractions.” For Lare, a victory in the Sheppard Final, the first open Grand Circuit stakes final for 2-year-olds this year, would be especially meaningful. The trainer hopes to see owner Bartlett rewarded for his purchase. “It would be great for Forrest Bartlett. He stepped up to the plate, he spent money buying this horse. He’s been a great owner for me,” Lare said. “I’ve had great horses before; he’s not the first one, nor do I hope he’s the last one, nor do I hope he’s the last one that Forrest buys. It would be great to win the first major stakes race the horse is in. That would be great for Forrest and great for me.” Saturday night’s card also features the weekly $46,000 Open Handicap Trot and Open Pace, along with the $37,000 4-Year-Old Open Handicap Pace. First post time is 6:50 p.m. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

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