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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 18, 2020-- Harness racing favorite Swansea (Austin Siegelman, $4.30) was left to his own devices Saturday night (Jan 18th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's 'sloppy' $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. From assigned post position No. 5, Swansea found himself as the only leaver. With no issues, he worked around pole-sitting Mostinterestingman (George Brennan) before a :28.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, a :58.4 intermission before sharp interloper Now's the Moment (Jason Bartlett) moved from third. The invader was quite good this night, but Swansea had too many things (cheap lead, comfy teletimer) working to his advantage. After a 1:27.2 three-quarters, he had two lengths in and out of the final turn. Swansea closed the sale, handily widening to 3½ lengths in 1:56.3. Now's the Moment served notice holding second, with Yes (Brent Holland), Lean Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Will Take Charge (Jordan Stratton) settling for the small change after never factoring. Mostinterestingman backpedaled to sixth.   For Swansea, a now-5-year-old Swan for All gelding co-owned by Triple D Stables & Dana Parham and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was his first win in a pair of seasonal starts (career 21-for-47). The exacta paid $28, with the triple returning $78.50. Special Saturday props to season-debuting Ostro Hanover (Dan Dube, $8.70), wiring his foes in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace (1:54). Also, the venerable 11-year-old gelding Melady's Monet (Brennan, $3) made it 62-for-203 with his 1:55.2 win in the $27,000, second-race trot. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Trainer Rene Allard is off to a fast start in the 2020 season at Yonkers Raceway. Allard has topped the track’s trainer standings in three of the last five years and was the runner up in the other two. Just nine programs into the new season, Allard’s tally is 13-for-42 with another 15 seconds and thirds. “We’re only racing about half the barn right now and the ones that we’re racing are in good spots, so it helps. When you’re only racing half the barn, it’s easier to keep a higher average,” Allard said. “I have approximately 30 horses who are going to qualify between now and the middle of February. I’m very happy with the start of the year so far. During the Yonkers break, we kept them fit and trained and as soon as they opened, we were ready to go.” The trainer recently completed an addition to his Middletown, N.Y. barn that added another 12 stalls, brining his total to 84. Only seven remain unoccupied, and that number could shrink to zero after Sunday’s Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands. “I try to keep the barn full and there’s the young horses that are training down in Florida right now. I have nine yearlings that are down in Florida training down. In the spring they’re going to come here. We always make it work,” Allard said. “The winter, we back down to usually 60. In the summer, we go up to 120. Right now, I probably have a little bit more horses than I usually do this time of the year, so I have a feeling we’ll be pretty busy.” Allard has four entrants on the Saturday night (Jan. 18) program at the Hilltop. Among them is Ostro Hanover, who seeks his fourth straight victory in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace. The 5-year-old gelding, owned in partnership by Go Fast Stable, B And I Stable, VIP Internet Stable, and Kapildeo Singh is 15-for-46 in his career with $256,466 earned. “He finished his year very strong, I was very happy with him. He’s been sharp and we’re taking a shot in the Preferred,” Allard said. Ostro Hanover won seven of his first 16 races for Frank Yanoti before joining Allard’s ranks as a companion to his standout 3-year-old pacer Springsteen in July 2018. However, Ostro Hanover went 0-for-6 to close his sophomore season, finishing third in the New York Sire Stakes Final beaten 11 1/4 lengths. “We really liked what we saw. I saw him win a couple times. We contacted the owner and we bought him and we thought he could be a great 3-year-old for the New York Sire Stakes,” Allard said. “Since we were going with Springsteen and they have multiple divisions, we thought, why not have two? We bought him and he was OK. I think we just did OK with him. We expected him to maybe be a little better the first year.” Allard stopped with Ostro Hanover after the NYSS Final Sept. 22, 2018 and he reemerged as a gelding a qualifier March 27, 2019. Ostro Hanover rattled off two straight wins in the conditions at Saratoga to begin his 4-year-old campaign. “He got a little bit sore at the end there. He was always a little bit weird behind, we couldn’t figure it out,” Allard said. “We castrated him, turned him out, and gave him time, and he came back really good. He was always pacing a little funny behind before, but once we did that, he came back good.” Although Ostro Hanover earned a check in nine straight starts, he continued to find the winner’s circle elusive. His next victory came July 6 in a $17,500 overnight at Pocono Downs. “The 4-year-old year is the toughest year for any horse. You go from racing only 3-year-olds and then you have to race against the world,” Allard said. “I don’t race my 4-year-olds as heavily. Last year, I had Springsteen, Simple Kinda Man, and Ostro Hanover, we didn’t race them as hard as some of the 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-year-olds. As the year goes on, it seems like they catch up to the rest.” As the year progressed, Allard saw Ostro Hanover continue to develop physically and mentally. “The one thing I’ve noticed is he used to gallop a lot when he jogged and now he paces almost all the time. He’s gotten stronger, he’s built a little more muscle,” Allard said. “His attitude has been great since he’s a gelding. When he was a colt, he was a little bit inconsistent. He had better days, bad days. Now, he never has a bad day. As they year went on, he got better and better, so we were happy with that.” By the end of the season, Ostro Hanover was firing on all cylinders. He won a $20,000 overnight at Yonkers Nov. 9 and after a third-place finish Nov. 21, earned a win in a $30,000 overnight Nov. 30. The next logical move was the Open Handicap Pace. However, Allard had another plan. He put Ostro Hanover in a $75,000 claimer for a $30,000 purse Dec. 7, taking advantage of the 25% allowance in the final month of Ostro Hanover’s 4-year-old season. The move paid off as Ostro Hanover doubled up. He won in the same class on the final Saturday of the season, scoring his third straight victory. “We figured he was a 4-year-old, so if anybody claimed him, they had to pay $100,000 for the horse,” Allard said. “We didn’t think anybody was going to claim him and we thought it was a good spot for him, so we took advantage of his 4-year-old allowance to get a couple wins out of it. But the plan was, after January to put him back in the conditioned races.” Ostro Hanover qualified Jan. 10, finishing second by a neck to Preferred rival Jack’s Legend. Allard thinks the gelding is ready to go in his first pari-mutuel start of the year. “We’ll see what happens. He’s been training good, he’s trained every three days for the last three weeks in the Yonkers break and then last week, they didn’t use the Open or the Preferred, so we qualified him and he qualified well; we were happy with him. “I think the horse is feeling good, he’s fresh, and I think he belongs in there. It’s a bit of a step up, but when the horse’s feelings are not hurt and the confidence is there, usually they show up. They’re kind of like humans with their feelings. Right now, he thinks he’s one of the best because he’s won his last three. I think that reflects in their performance when they’re feeling brave.” Ostro Hanover will start from post six with regular driver Dan Dube in the sulky. Jack’s Legend, who won two Open Handicaps and finished second in another last fall for Rich Banca, will start from post seven with Jason Bartlett in the bike. Reagan’s Avenger and Tookadiveoffdipper each won their last start in the Yonkers overnight ranks and step up into the Preferred. Benson Boys, Twin B Tuffenuff, and Benhope Rulz complete the lineup. “I think it’s not too bad of a spot,” Allard said. “There’s a couple nice horses in there. Banca’s horse is probably the best horse, but he drew outside. There’s a couple nice horses, but I think if he gets in the hunt with the right trip, he’ll definitely be right with them.” Saturday night’s card also features the $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 7:05 p.m. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 17, 2020--Itty Bitty (Dan Dube., $8.10) was the best after two moves Friday night (Jan 17th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Filly and Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. Away third from assigned post position No. 5, Itty Bitty watched as 3-5 favorite Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan) leapfrogged her quintet of inside rivals. After early intervals of :27 and :57, Itty Bitty was out and moving toward a 1:25.2 three-quarters. She then engaged the leader in and out of the final turn, with the people's preference empty through the lane. Itty Bitty was able to close the sale, the final margin over two-hole Cay's Blessing (Jason Bartlett) a neck in 1:54.2. Made of Jewels AS (Eric Goodell), Renaissance Lady K (Jordan Stratton) and Feelin' Red Hot settling for the minors. Tipp City (Brent Holland) was outrun.   For second choice Itty Bitty, a now-6-year-old daughter of Always a Virgin co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, B&I Stables, Stephen Klunowski and John Schmucker, it was a successful seasonal debut for a 24th career victory. The exacta paid $51, with the triple returning $181 by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 11, 2020--It was a change of tactic for the harness racing trotter Lean Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr., $15.20) Saturday night (Jan 11th), serving him well in winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Open Handicap Trot Usually an off-the-pace number, Lean Hanover--from assigned post position No. 4--made the first lead in the first adult-table trot of the season. He then deferred to second-choice Swansea (Austin Siegelman). The latter put up intervals of :27.4, 57.3 and 1:26.3, with minimal first-up grief from just-over-even-money favorite Will Take Charge (Jordan Stratton). Swansea owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but was unable to stall the pocket sitter. Lean Hanover edged out and by, the margin a head in 1:55.1. Hill of a Horse (Brent Holland) rallied for third, with Trotting Grace (Matt Kakaley) and Obrigado (Dan Dube) settling for the minors. Will Take Charge backpedaled to last among the half-dozen.   For third choice Lean Hanover, a now-7-year-old Donato Hanover gelding co-owned by Wellwood Enterprises & Karen Carroll, it was a successful seasonal debut for an 18th career victory. The exacta paid $34.20, the triple returned $406 and the superfecta paid $723. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway    

Columbus, OH — The Daily Racing Form reported on Thursday (Jan. 9) that “Bullet” Bob Meyer, longtime announcer at Yonkers Raceway, has died. He was 80. Meyer, who served as the principal race caller at Yonkers through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, concluded his career with a six-year stint at Saratoga before retiring in 2005. He called his final race on Dec. 2, 2018. Derick Giwner, editor of DRF Harness, offers a remembrance of Meyer here.

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, January 7, 2020--Yonkers Raceway's Tuesday night (Jan. 7th) harness racing Pick 5 wager had some old money and some new shooters. A $4,751.30 carryover and a $15,000 guaranteed pool resulted in $22,253 of fresh investments. The sequence proved rather formful until 18-1 shot Be Best (Brent Holland, $38.80) rallied to win the concluding leg going away in 1:54.4. The winning combination of 6/3/1/1/5 returned $586.50 for every correct half-a-buck wager. As a reminder, Yonkers' Pick 5 wager now encompasses races 5 through 9 nightly. A night after Jim Marohn Jr. won four races to begin the Raceway's 2020 season, Jason Bartlett did him one better, with five winners during the dozen-race card. Note the Raceway's usual five-program-per-week schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) has returned, though with a new first post of 7:05 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, January 6, 2020--Yonkers Raceway began its 2020 harness racing season Monday night (Jan. 6th), with Jim Marohn Jr. throwing down an early gauntlet. Marohn Jr., whose 177 wins placed him sixth locally a season ago, won four races during Yonkers' dozen-race opener. He and 29-1 outlier Sugar Shock ($60.50) busted any number of Pick 5 tickets, upsetting in the first leg of that sequence in 1:53.4, a tick off his life-best effort. Whomever was left standing after that race then had to unearth 28-1 shot Sir Machalot (Cory Stratton, $59) in the next race. For some good measure, 18-1 Milliondollar Wave (Austin Siegelman, $39.20) won the final leg. It wasn't surprising that the sequence went unclaimed, meaning Tuesday evening's (Jan. 7th) gimmick starts with $4,751.30 carryover and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee has been approved by the New York State Gaming Commission and is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program. As a reminder, Yonkers' Pick 5 wager now encompasses races 5 through 9 nightly. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Entering the penultimate night of racing at Yonkers in the 2019 season, Jason Bartlett led George Brennan in the driver standings 423 to 420. The Dec. 16 program saw the drivers combine for six wins on the 11-race program and at the end of the night, Jason Bartlett extended his margin to 4, leading with 427 victories. However, Bartlett would be absent from the Closing Night program, Tues. Dec. 17 as he departed on a family vacation, never anticipating the driving title would be decided on the final night of a 2,657-race season. To that point, the two drivers had never spoken about the dash title. However, as Bartlett left the driver’s room, the pair acknowledged their rivalry for the first time. “OK, I got you by four. Win four tomorrow and we’ll just end in a tie,” Bartlett told Brennan.  “OK. Done,” Brennan responded. The tongue-in-cheek exchange proved prophetic as the Closing Night program unfolded. Brennan won four of the first 10 races, tying the standings at 427 apiece. After each victory, the Yonkers TV department displayed the standings on the track’s simulcast feed and track announcer John Hernan narrated the update for the viewers. “Yonkers had it on TV the last few nights. They were keeping count for us,” Brennan said. “It was very exciting. I’ve been leading driver before, but this was the most exciting driving race I’ve been involved in. It was a lot of fun.” Brennan drove Lord Of Misrule from post three in the 11th race, the final heat of the season. Leading trainer Scott Di Domenico sent out the 8-year-old gelding who chased only his second seasonal win in his 31st start of the year. “Bruce Saunders said to me, ‘do you like your chances in the last race,’ ” Brennan recalled. “I said, ‘well, he’s 1-for-30 for the year. That says it all right there.” Lord Of Misrule raced along in third throughout, but lost ground in the stretch and finished fourth 7 lengths behind a 1:53.4 score by Knocking Around. “(Lord Of Misrule) ended up getting a perfect trip, he sat third, I never had to pull him, but they went a really good mile in 1:53.4 and 1:53.4 kind of stretches him out in the summer anymore,” Brennan said of the $545,485-earner. “It was going to have to work out, it was going to have to line up perfectly for him. And it actually did and I didn’t have enough horsepower.” With the final race complete, Brennan had four on the card as promised and shared the driving title with Jason Bartlett. “I just went about my business and that’s how it ended,” Brennan said. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of dedication, good clients. It means a lot.” Bartlett enjoyed a lead from January through June as he focused solely on racing at the Hilltop. However, as New York Sire Stakes season ramped up through the late spring and summer, Barlett’s time was divided while Brennan stayed put at Yonkers. Bartlett and Brennan flip-flopped on the lead in July, but by September Brennan seized command with a double-digit advantage. The race narrowed again in late fall, as Brennan’s margin shrunk to eight wins by Nov. 1. By December, the drivers were in a tug of war. Brennan was sure his scheduled vacation in December would crush his chances. “He was creeping back up there pretty quickly,” Brennan said. “But then, I honestly didn’t think it was going to be close when I was taking four days off in December. I thought he would have a comfortable lead after that. I got lucky, got some good mounts, good post positions, and things worked out.” Brennan’s approach to the contest, much like his opponent’s, was to block out the race as much as possible. “You can’t really think about it. You just have to go about your business and try to stay safe and win races,” Brennan said. “There was something going on with the driving title, but in a sense, it’s secondary because you still have to get the job done, you still have to get the most amount of money for your owners and trainers you’re driving for. That’s the number one priority there.” Considering memorable horses or victories on the season, Brennan zeroed in on DW’s NY Yank. The 11-year-old Dilbert Hanover gelding has earned 58 wins and $1.5 million in 200 starts. His most recent score came with Brennan in the second race Closing Night, a $17,000 overnight in which DW’s NY Yank aired by 2 easy lengths. It was the pair’s 82nd start and 25th win together. “Some horses I really enjoy driving. Some of those old horses for Burke, like DW’s NY Yank, he’s one of my favorites. I enjoy driving those older horses like that,” Brennan said. “I’ve been driving him now since he was 4 years old. He tries hard. He’s definitely not what he was anymore, but he’s just a lot of fun to drive. He’s tailor-made for a half-mile track.” Although the spotlight was on the drivers for the final few weeks of the racing season, Brennan pointed out that the drivers only comprise a small piece of the puzzle and expressed gratitude for the other hardworking individuals who hand over the lines for two minutes each week. “I just want to thank all the trainers and owners and caretakers that look after and train the horses, because I can’t do it without them. A big thank you to them,” Brennan said. To read Jason Bartlett’s account of the driver’s race, visit http://ustrottingnews.com/bartlett-to-make-case-for-yonkers-driving-title-monday/. Yonkers Raceway opens its 2020 live racing season Monday, January 6. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 7:05 p.m. For entries to the races, visit https://www.empirecitycasino.com/racing/condition-sheets-entries-results/. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 3, 2020—Yonkers Raceway has announced its 2020 harness racing stakes schedule, featuring a slew of name changes and a pair of cancellations from previous seasons. The renamed stakes/series races reflect the Raceway’s inclusion in the MGM Resorts portfolio, highlighting some of MGM’s other properties as well as its customer loyalty rewards program. The names (old and new) are as such… STAKES/SERIES NAME (OLD)   STAKES/SERIES NAME (NEW) DATE OF FINAL *-Petticoat Pacing Series *-M life Ladies March 23   *-Sagamore Hill Pacing Series *-M life Gents March 24   *-Blue Chip Matchmaker *-Same April 18   *-George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series *-MGM Borgata Pacing Series April 18     *Yonkers Raceway/SOA of New York Bonus Trotting Series   *-Same   April 21     Art Rooney Pace   Cancelled   N/A   Lismore Cancelled N/A   *-Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace *-MGM Springfield Stakes July 11     Yonkers Trot   MGM Yonkers Trot   Sept. 5     Hudson Filly Trot   New York New York Mile   Sept. 5     Messenger Stakes   MGM Grand Messenger Stakes   Sept. 5   Lady Maud   Park MGM Pace   Sept. 5   Harry Harvey Invitational Trot Bellagio Classic Invitational Trot Sept. 12     Dan Rooney Invitational Pace   Aria Invitational Pace   Sept. 12     Yonkers International Trot   MGM Yonkers International Trot   Sept. 12     New York Night of Champions   New York Day of Champions by MGM Resorts (matinee card)   Sept. 12             *-nomination blanks for these stakes/series available at empirecitycasino.com/racing/nomination-blanks The calendar also includes the usual 16 visits (two per division for 2- and 3-year-olds) of the New York Sire Stakes leading to the aforementioned Day of Champions. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, January 2, 2020--Yonkers Raceway begins its 237-card 2020 harness racing season Monday night (Jan. 6th). It was a full entry box which greeted race secretary Bob Miecuna for the opening double draw, as in 150 entrants for Monday and 130 for Tuesday night (Jan. 7th). Both nights feature a dozen races, with 22 of the 24 races offering standing-room-only eight-horse fields. A reminder that Friday's (Jan. 3rd) draw for Thursday (Jan. 9th) has the entry box for closing at 9 AM sharp. A condition sheet can be found at empirecitycasino.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/conditionsheet.pdf, with the new first post of 7:05 PM. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, January 1, 2020--Yonkers Raceway is gearing up for its 2020 harness racing season opener with three morning draws over a two-day period. Thursday (Jan. 2nd) has the box for Monday and Tuesday nights (Jan. 6th and 7th), while Friday (Jan. 3rd) draws for Thursday (Jan. 9th). Entry box for both days closes at 9 AM sharp. A condition sheet can be found at empirecitycasino.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/conditionsheet.pdf The five-program-per-week schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) returns, however note the new first post of 7:05 PM. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, December 17, 2019--Yonkers Raceway concluded its 2019 calendar Tuesday night (Dec. 17th) with a season-long harness racing dead-heat. George Brennan won four of the closing-night's 11 races--all with wagering favorites--and in doing so caught the idle Jason Bartlett with 427 local wins. Historians were trying to determine if there had been a leading-driver deadlock previously, but couldn't swear either way to that oddity. As for Brennan, he won Tuesday's $17,000, second-race trot with DW's NY Yank ($2.70) in 1:58.4, Showmeyourguns ($2.90) in the $14,500, seventh-race trot (1:58.3), Jet Rock ($4.50) in the $12,500, ninth-race pace (1:55.1) and Westchester-debuting Ginger Tree Marty ($3.70) in the $15.750, 10th-race pace (1:55.2). Brennan's chance to have the big chair all to himself was thwarted when Lord of Misrule was a never-threatening fourth in the $17,000 pacing finale. Yonkers' final 2019 leaderboard story shall be sent in the coming days. The Raceway's 2020 season is scheduled to begin Monday night, Jan. 6th, pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – By the time December comes around, the driving and training titles at Yonkers Raceway are usually sewn up. After nearly 11 months of racing and over 2,000 starts by the track’s leading drivers, there is typically little left to be settled in the meet’s final weeks. By December 1, 2018, Jason Bartlett had a 104-win edge on Jordan Stratton. In 2017, Bartlett came into the stretch of the meet with a 153-win margin. However, with two racing days left in the 2019 season, Jason Bartlett and George Brennan are locked in a tight battle for the Yonkers driving title. At December 1, the duo was separated by just three wins, with Brennan ahead 406 to 403. After trading blows throughout the last two weeks, Bartlett brings a three-win margin into Monday night (Dec.16) with 423 wins. It is the closest race in Bartlett’s memory. “Not since I’ve been to Yonkers, never have. Usually by this time, everything is cut and dry of who’s going to get it and who’s not,” Bartlett said. “Between me and George, we drive hard against each other. We’ve always done that. At the end of the day, we still respect each other on and off the track. It’s a good competition, but at the end of the day, we still have a job to do and that’s to win races and get as much money as we can for the trainers.” Although the race is proving a nail-biter, Bartlett had written off the title at the end of stakes season, when Brennan lead by double-digits. However, after Brennan took a week off from Dec. 7 to Dec. 14, Bartlett took a slight edge. “Obviously, in any sport, you want to be number one. At that track, that year, it shows what a good year I had and the hard work I put in,” Bartlett said. “Going through the year, it’s not something you really think about. I was chasing Sire Stakes all year. Obviously, I can’t be in both places on a given night, so you have to give up something. This year, I focused a little bit more on the Sire Stakes, which got me behind a little bit not being at Yonkers all the time. “As the stakes races got done, I was behind him and I kind of just chalked it up that I wasn’t going to catch him,” Bartlett said. “Then I got a little bit closer and he ended up going on his normal annual vacation, so I knew I would be able to close the gap a little bit then.” Bartlett, 38, is chasing his ninth Hilltop title while Brennan, 52, seeks his third. Bartlett saw Brennan as a mentor and an inspiration growing up, making the contest even more meaningful. However, the pair can leave the competition on the track and focus on their work. “He’s a driver that I’ve looked up to my whole life,” Bartlett said. “Being in a competition against him, running for number one, is a pretty big deal for me. Growing up and knowing George and looking up to him. “Between me and him, we’ve never really mentioned (the standings). I know he’s aware of it. Obviously, I’m aware of it. But we’re not driving any different against each other,” Bartlett continued. “You have enough to think about and try to put your horses in the best spot. That’s hard enough. Then you start thinking about George all the time and what I’m doing, is it going to affect George winning the race or not? You can only control what you can control. I can do my best to try to win races, I can control that. I can’t control what he’s doing and whatever else is going on. I try to control what I can and after that, it’s horse racing.” Bartlett enjoyed another season as Yonkers top money-earner, with horses he drove winning $8.3 million through Saturday (Dec. 14). With Brennan away, Bartlett won 12 races last week. He won five races Friday (Dec. 13), including Mach It A Par’s final bow. The Minister of Speed answered with three victories upon his return Saturday, including a wire-to-wire score from post eight with 18-1 upsetter Shoreview. Barlett will drive in all 11 races Monday night (Dec. 16) while Brennan has nine calls. The contest could be decided sooner than expected as Bartlett will miss Closing Night (Dec. 17) as he leaves on his family vacation. Brennan will drive in all 11 races on the Tuesday program. Regardless of the outcome, the contest is validating to Bartlett. “For me, it means I’m doing my job. I’m there to win races and business is good. Every year, you shoot for it. You’ve got to have a little luck along the way and get some horsepower,” Bartlett said. “It’s a job that I love to do, I’m very competitive at it and it’s really nice to go to work and know every race matters. There’s no messing up. I know a lot of people are watching it. The track announcer is right on top of it. It’s nice to see it’s going to come down to the wire and to put a little spin on it, I will not be there the last day, so whatever I get through Monday is it. “Whatever happens, happens. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. And if not, it was fun while we were doing it.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The 2019 season closes Tuesday, Dec. 17 and the 2020 season opener is set for Monday Jan. 6. First post time is 6:50 p.m. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, December 14, 2019--Yonkers Raceway bid adieu to one of its harness racing favorites, Bit of a Legend N. The 10-year-old dual hemisphere double-millionaire, who was profiled earlier this week, was retired Saturday night (Dec. 14th) in an appropriate place, the Raceway winner's circle. Before going to his next job--stallion duty at Midland Acres in Bloomingburg, OH--Bit of a Legend N was honored by his human posse. Among those who gave their props to the 2016 Levy champion were co-owners Susan and Harry Von Knoblauch Jr., trainer Peter Tritton, driver Jordan Stratton, caretakers Smiley Quinteros and Carlos Rodriguez and official groupie Peter Venaglia. "(Bit of a Legend N) allowed me to retire," Von Knoblauch Jr. said, adding, "He bought our family closer together. We can't say we'll find another as good as him, but we try." Bit of a Legend N was an original $103,000 purchase by the late Harry Von Knoblauch. He went on to earn $1.9 million in 99 North American starts, winning a third (that's 33 after some fast math). "Peter (Tritton) and his staff took such good care of him," Stratton said. "I think that's why he lasted so long. "The horse's name is Bit of a Legend, but the real legend was Peter. He never put any pressure on me. I wasn't as established a driver then, and even when we didn't get the results, he understood my thought process." Saturday night's pair of $42,000 Open Handicaps were won by... --Trot, Swansea (Austin Siegelman, $4.50) in 1:55.4,                                                                                                -- Mike Lizzi photo --Pace, Mac's Jackpot (Brent Holland, $12.20) in 1:52.2.                                                                                                -- Mike Lizzi photo George Brennan, back from some R&R, won three races, halving the difference (423-420) between himself in Jason Bartlett in the local driver standings with two programs remaining before the '19 season ends Tuesday night (Dec. 17th). Bartlett was blanked Saturday evening.   Frank Drucker Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 13, 2019--Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett, $2.80) went out a winner Friday night (Dec. 13th). The millionairess harness racing pacing mare, profiled earlier this week, handily notched career win No. 53 at her second home, Yonkers Raceway. Undeterred by pouring rain and a pared-down field of five rivals in the $22,000, second-race pace, odds-on Mach it a Par--from post position No. 2--retook early from Bellatricks (Brent Holland). She eventually widened in a 'sloppy' 1:54.1. The final margin was 4½ lengths over Annabeth (Jordan Stratton), with Bellatricks, Line Dancer (Eric Goodell) and Jewels Forreal (Matt Kakaley) rounded out the payees. For Mach it a Par, a 9-year-old daughter of Mach Three co-owned by D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, T L P Stable and the Gandolfo Stables and trained by Richard Banca, it was her seventh win in 36 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $8.90, the triple returned $27.40 and the superfecta paid $9,150. Mach it a Par ended her career with 182 starts, 53 wins, 29 seconds and 30 thirds ($1,152,767). The plan is for the lass to be bred to a to-be-determined New York stallion, After her final race night, Mach it a Par was given an official sendoff in the paddock, surrounded by her connections and racing officials and complete with congratulatory sign. Bartlett, meanwhile, won five of the night's 11 races to grab a six-win lead (423-417) over the idle George Brennan with three programs left in the local season. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, December 12, 2019— Harness racing trainer Peter Tritton, that fairly competent Down Under imported trainer, was asked about Bit of a Legend N, that fairly competent Down Under imported pacer. “We were coming off after a race one night and Jordan (Stratton) said to me, ‘Every driver should have a chance to sit behind a horse like this.’ ” Bit of a Legend N, who rarely ran out of real estate on the racetrack, has nonetheless run out of daylight as a racehorse. The 10-year-old double-millionaire is set to retire after a Yonkers Raceway winner’s circle send-off Saturday night (Dec. 14th). The son of Bettor’s Delight is off to Midland Acres in Bloomingburg, OH, to begin a stallion career. “I’m going to have to plan a road trip to go see him,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N and Stratton have gone down the road together, the number of memorable miles too numerous to mention. “He’s my favorite horse. No question,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N came over as advertised, having won Australian Breeders Crowns at ages 3 and 4. “Peter (Tritton) told me he was a getting a pretty nice horse,” Stratton said of the then 7-year-old who the late Harry Von Knoblauch purchased for $103,000. “I went to the farm to see him. He just looked good running in the paddock and in his first qualifier (Yonkers, January of 2016), I knew. “He didn’t go much (third, timed in 1:57.1), but the way he drove, the way he carried himself.” Rising through the overnight ranks with two wins and two seconds in four tries, it was time to wear the big-boy pants and the ’16 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Sweep. Bit of a Legend N won all five of his preliminary legs starts, including a stirring, track-record 1:51.2 dead-heat with Wiggle It Jiggleit. In the $609,000 final a week later, he drew well, took control early and won in a facile 1:51 (see accompanying photo). He was (and remains) the only Free-For-Aller to run the Levy table. The 2016 season saw Bit of a Legend N win 13-of-28 starts (with six seconds and one third), socking away $723,850. Proving he was no one-hit wonder, Bit of a Legend N threw down consecutive half-million-dollar seasons in 2017 and ’18. The 2017 Levy saw Bit of a Legend N win twice (with two seconds) during preliminary-round competition before a no-chance-trip fourth (to Keystone Velocity) in the final. He then hit the road, winning the $109,600 Molson (Western Fair, 1:51.3), $260,000 Gerrity Memorial (Saratoga, 1:50.3…at 15-1) and Quillen Memorial (Harrington, 1:52.1).  The next season saw another standout Levy-leg log (two wins, two seconds, one third) and yet another less-than-no-shot trip in the final. From post position No. 7, Bit of a Legend N charged home for second, again to Keystone Velocity. Bit of a Legend N eventually returned to Londontown, looking to defend his Molson (renamed to Camluck Classic) title. He wound up a flat, never-in-it fifth and “the only time he ever disappointed me,” Stratton said. “He’s had some EPM (parasite) issues throughout his career,” Tritton said. “We’ve been able to stay on top of it, usually, but I think that, and the ship up to Canada, was too much for him. His blood was no good, but he bounced back.” Indeed. A week later at Northfield, it was a first-up, life-best 1:49.4 effort in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie, putting away the same horse—Rockin’ Ron—who had dusted his rivals in the Camluck. “Everyone was excited for him,” Stratton said. “There were people, wherever we went, who said he was their favorite horse.” Bit of a Legend N’s 2019 season was hampered by some poorly-timed quarter cracks, essentially costing him any shot of doing damage in the Levy. “It’s never a good time to get them, but this was a bad time for him, and us,” Tritton said. “It took about six or seven weeks to completely heal and the series doesn’t allow for any time off.”  “It not that he’s even slowed down that much, but the competition is just better,” Stratton said. “Before, you could win a race in 1:52. Now, it’s no better than third.” Stratton offered some of the same platitudes about Bit of a Legend N that were bestowed upon Foiled Again by his primary driver, Yannick Gingras. “He can relax and go a quarter in 30 (seconds), then sprint in :27. He won’t do more than what’s necessary. It’s just his way of taking care of himself. Look at his races. The margins are never that much. He knows what he has to do. That’s why he’s lasted so long.” The plan was for Bit of a Legend N to be racing Saturday nights through the end of the season, but after a second-place finish in late November, Tritton detected a bit of a problem with an ankle (“There was nothing to gain by having him go a couple of more weeks”), so the North American racing career ended with 33 wins in 99 starts and earnings of $1,909,935 (more than $2.5 million including foreign take-home). “I’ve had good horses before,” Tritton said, “but he’s different. To have the longevity he’s had and to produce in the big races the way he did, that’s what stands out.” …and they named him right, too. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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