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YONKERS, N.Y. – Rodeo Rock will make his first start since June 30 when he races in the $46,000 Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway Saturday night. The 6-year-old was in the midst of his best season to date for trainer Robert Cleary before suffering from minor setbacks in the beginning of the summer. Rodeo Rock’s big 2019 season began at the end of his 2018 campaign. Although the Rock N Roll Heaven son had six wins on the season by last November, his victories had come in mid-level conditions and he didn’t make an impression with two fourth-place finishes in legs of the Levy Series last spring.  Rodeo Rock’s breakthrough came in a $29,000 overnight at Yonkers November 17. Rodeo Rock utilized a :27.2 final quarter to come from off the pace and score by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:53. Two weeks later, he returned to claim his first victory in the $44,000 Open Handicap Pace by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.4. “He was super sharp,” Cleary recalled. “He won a non-winners of 30 event at Yonkers last November. Brian Sears drove him, and he was actually fifth at the top of the stretch and he won going away and Brian never touched him with the whip. You don’t normally do that in non-winners of 30 at Yonkers. In his next start, he won the Open at Yonkers. It wasn’t just the start of this year, he finished off the end of last year very sharp.” After some time off over the winter, Cleary brought Rodeo Rock back in a Meadowlands qualifier this February, which he won in 1:53.1. The gelding proved he was still sharp in winning his first pari-mutuel start of the year March 2. “He got a break at Christmas and came back and qualified late February,” Cleary said. “He was super sharp, the sharpest he’d ever been. He won his first start at the Meadowlands, took a life mark of 49-and-4, swooped the field from last to first.” Rodeo Rock then came to the Levy Series at Yonkers. He captured divisions of the first two legs of the series March 16 and 23 before finishing third and second in subsequent legs March 30 and April 13, respectively.  Rodeo Rock drew post six in the $664,000 Levy Final April 20 and despite racing seventh 10 lengths off the pace at the quarter with Andrew McCarthy in the sulky, rallied to finish second 4 3/4 lengths behind Western Fame. Rodeo Rock earned $166,000 for his runner up placing, more than the $136,350 he banked in 28 starts last year. “It was a great feeling. I thought the horse deserved to be second because I thought he was the second-best horse in the series,” Cleary said. “No doubt about it, Western Fame was the best horse in the series. I would have loved to have sat on Western Fame’s back in the final and seen if we could’ve had a shot at him from the two hole instead of sitting seventh at the half.  “My horse was racing good and he deserved to be second there,” Cleary continued. “It was very exciting. It was great to race for that kind of money and it was great to pick up a purse like we did. It’s a great series when you have a sharp horse.” Cleary has trained Rodeo Rock since 2017 when the pacer still fit the non-winners of six condition at Yonkers. He praised driver Eric Goodell for helping develop Rodeo Rock.  “I have to give a lot of credit to Eric Goodell,” Cleary said. “He drove him a lot at 4, he raced him in the 4-year-old Open at Yonkers. He did a good job with him. He raced him the way he was supposed to race him. When he was in the right spot, he got him on the front or first-up. And when he was meant to ride the fence, he rode the fence. I think he did a good job in bringing the horse along. “He was an immature big horse that had some soundness issues at 2 and 3,” Cleary continued. “When he developed into a 4-year-old, he just became a bigger, sounder, stronger horse.” After the Levy Series, Rodeo Rock went to Pennsylvania to compete in the Great Northeast Open Pacing Series. He won a leg at in a lifetime best 1:49.0 at Pocono May 18 and followed it with a second in the Commodore Barry Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia May 26. However, when Cleary shipped Rodeo Rock to Northfield Park for the Battle of Lake Erie June 8, the horse finished up the track beaten 29 lengths. “He’s actually a really calm, relaxed horse, but he just can’t handle shipping,” Cleary said. “He shipped out there, I thought he was OK. He made no noise in the trailer, drank a little bit on the way out. But when he came off the trailer out there, he was very, very uncomfortable. We did what we could to make him as comfortable as possible. The way he warmed up, I actually thought he was going to be OK, but in the stretch of the race, he didn’t want any part of it. I had a veterinarian check him out after the race and he actually had a touch of a gas colic.” Cleary gave Rodeo Rock a few weeks off to recover, but after a fifth and seventh in his next two starts at the end of June, Cleary stopped again. “He raced OK one start at Pocono after the break. I raced him once more at Chester and he was horrible. He wasn’t acting good, he wasn’t feeling good, so I sent him to the clinic,” Cleary said. “They scoped his stomach and he had ulcers. I gave him two weeks in the field and I treated him heavily for his stomach. He’s acting much better. “You just have to go back to the basics, let them be a horse, let them get back out into the field,” Cleary said. “They’ll rectify a lot of those problems themselves when they get out in the field.” Rodeo Rock returned in a qualifier over a sloppy track at Harrah’s Philadelphia August 6. He came from 8 1/2 lengths behind in fourth at the half to win by 2 1/4 in 1:55.2 with Goodell back in the bike. Despite the slow time, which Cleary attributed to the adverse conditions, the trainer was encouraged. “The biggest goal going into the qualifier was to braven him up and let him run down horses because that’s what he loves to do,” Cleary said. “It’s a little bit hard to get a reading on it because the weather was so bad. It was an absolute downpour, so I think it was hard for every horse to get around the track. Eric knows him pretty well and was happy with him. He said he was very strong, he was very pleased with him, so I’ll take his word on that.” Rodeo Rock drew post six for his return Saturday night and will be paired with Goodell again. Dr J Hanover is the 3-1 morning line favorite from post four off a nose loss on the front end in this class two weeks ago. Control Tower, who beat Dr J Hanover in that start, was sixth last week from post six, but drew post two this week and is 10-1 for Austin Siegelman and Nick Surick. Perfectly Close has been claimed three times in his last six starts and now trainer Michael Temming is bumping him up into the Open ranks. He will benefit from an assigned post one. The Real One was third in the Open last week and won it July 27; he will start from post five. Shneonucrzydiamnd, I’m Some Graduate, and Imarocnrollegend complete the lineup. “I know the horses that are in there and I want him driven the right way,” Cleary said of Rodeo Rock, who he plans to campaign at Yonkers and in Pennsylvania for the remainder of the year. “We can’t overdrive him when he’s been off for two months since his last start. I’ll be more than happy to let him race like he did in the Levy Final. Let him race from off the pace and pace home hard, hopefully he’s got some pace on the end of it. “It’s not even about a check, it’s about the horse racing good and finishing up strong.” Saturday’s card also features the $46,000 Open Trot and $46,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace.  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-- The granddaddy of all amateur driving organizations, the CKG Billings Series, move on to Yonkers Raceway for a pair of trots over the speedy double-oval and when the judges hung the official signs "Tough Tyler" Miller and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff each reined a winner in their respective divisions. Miller drove the Nick Surick- trained veteran Jacks To Open, to a 2-1/2 length triumph in 1:59.1 while Hechkoff scored a 1:58 victory with Five Towns, another old-timer whose trained by Kyle Spagnola. In his split Miller was content to head to the pylons from post three as "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo, up behind Tough Get Going, played hardball with Mystical Power, driven by Tony "the Capo" Verruso, and the pair zipped by the quarter in :28 and raced was a team past the half in :57.4 and they were still side by side at the three quarters in 1:28.2. When Mystical Power began to show signs of the overland trip young Miller moved Jacks To Open out to challenge and he trotted to the front before the head of the lane and coasted home an easy winner over Southwind Dorian, driven by 16-year-old Brett "the Kid" Beckwith. Faraldo garnered the show dough with Tough Get.Going. Hechkoff used the front-end route to score an easy triumph in 1:58 with the veteran Five Towns,a 10 year old Andover Hall gelding. Five Towns started from post three and once in command it was "Katey bar the door" as he trotted along with no serious challenges until "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio got Super Manning in high gear as the field neared the third stanza. But that rally was short-lived as Five Towns was up to the challenge and trotted away to an easy victory over Pennacchio's trotter. Shady McCoy finished third for Dave "the Rave" Offenberg. Both races went as non-wagering affairs before the first race on the betting card.   John Manzi for the Billings Series

YONKERS, N.Y. - Horsemen are reminded that there has been a change in the Yonkers Raceway draw schedule for the next harnes racing leg of the New York Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series for 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly (Thursday, Aug.22). The box will close tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 15) at 9:00 a.m., instead of the usual 3:30 p.m. The Yonkers Raceway office will be closed tomorrow evening due to a concert at the facility. For more information, contact the Yonkers race office directly at 914-457-2627, or the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund at 518-388-0178 or info@nysirestakes.com.   Jason Politi

YONKERS, NY, Monday, August 12, 2019-Yonkers Raceway has pushed up its entry box closing this Friday (Aug. 16th) to 9 AM, instead of the usual 3:30 PM. It's the box for the Thursday (Aug. 22nd) program, which includes the New York Sire Stakes Pat Quaglietta Trot for 2-year-old fillies. With live racing cancelled Friday night to accommodate a Kool & the Gang concert, the race office shall have morning hours only. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 10, 2019--Funny thing about Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt, $2.70). Whenever he's invaded Yonkers Raceway, the end result is not a fair fight. Such was the case again Saturday night (Aug. 10th), when Six Pack drilled seven outclassed foes in the co-featured $46,000 Open Handicap Trot. Making short work an assigned eight-hole, Six Pack left around Eye ofa Tiger AS (Jason Bartlett), t hen made even shorter work of the teletimer. Never threatened at any point, he widened at every (:28, 57.2, 1:25, 1:53.1) point. The result was... a-matching the all-age trot track record, set by Svanstedt’s filly Plunge Blue Chip last September, and b- 6¼-length win over Lord Cromwell (Austin Siegelman), and c-a fifth consecutive win here, and d-the fastest local trot mile of the season, and e-a new track record for his weight class. For the record, New Heaven (Jim Marohn Jr.) was third, with Eye ofa Tiger AS and Such an Angel (Eric Goodell) settling for the small change. Six Pack, a 4-year-old $1.5 million statebred son of Muscle Mass co-owned by his driver/trainer, Little E LLC, Knuttson Trotting. Stall Kalmer and Lars Berg, it was his second win in seven seasonal starts (career 17-for-30). The exacta paid $28.80, the triple returned $173 and the superfecta paid $1,122. Not lost on Svanstedt was throwing down a gauntlet in the hopes of getting an invitation to October's million-dollar International Trot. "We wanted to see him back on a short track and he handled it well," Svanstedt said. "He's not been lucky in a many of his races this season. That's the biggest difference in him as a 4-year-old. "The owners wanted to enter him (tonight). We're hoping he's asked to race in the International." The weekly $46,000 adult-table pace was won by a down-the-road Scott Rocks (Goodell, $4.80) in 1:51.3. The 9-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding went up and over $995,000 in career earnings after a 57th lifetime win. For his part, Goodell won four of the night's last seven races. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 9, 2019-Pocketed favorite Alexa's Power (Jason Bartlett, $4.50) gave the harness racing public what it wanted Friday night (Aug. 9th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $46,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. The board spoke her name and Alexa's Power raced as if she knew it. Making the first lead from post position No. 4, she then deferred to raging, eight-hole-assigned Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan) before a 27-second opening quarter-mile. From there, the lass who had won her previous three tries threw down a :55.4 intermission and 1:23.1 three-quarters. However, she could not shake either Alexa's Power or Dibaba N (Eric Goodell). A bit cooler at the windows this time around, Feelin' Red Hot was a bit shorter on the track. Alexa's Power collared the leader early in the lane, going by to whip Dibaba N by three-quarters of a length in a season's-best 1:51.1. Feelin' Red Hot easily held third, with Annabeth (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Betterb Chevron N (Brent Holland) settling for the remainder. For Alexa's Power, a 4-year-old homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by Jeff & Michael Snyder and trained by Jim Campbell, it was her third win in 14 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $28.80, the triple returned $202 and the superfecta paid $974. Friday night's Pick 5, who began with a $7,500 carryover and $20,000 guaranteed pool, attracted $26,812 of new coin into the gimmick. It was a 5/4/5/5/3 winning combination returning $107.62 for each correct half-a-buck wager. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, August 6, 2019- Yonkers Raceway Tuesday night (Aug. 6th) hosted the $153,200 New York Sire Stakes Jim Crawford Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. A $75,900 non-bettor and a wagering-carded $77,300 division comprised the event. The before-the-program bandwagon was led by American Rebel (Tyler Buter). Making the first lead from post position No. 2, American Rebel then deferred to Groovy Joe (Matt Kakaley). The latter needed just about the entire :28.1 opening quarter-mile to get there. However, American Rebel was none too thrilled about the pocket, so he extricated himself right at the :57.2 intermission. American Rebel had few issues from there (1:25.4, life-best 1:54), getting minimal grief from a first-up Cigars and Port (Ray Schnittker) before widening in the lane. The final margin over Groovy Joe was two lengths, with Cigars and Port hanging around for third. For American Rebel, a son of American Ideal co-owned by (trainer) Rob Harmon and Robert Robinson, it was his third win in seven seasonal/career starts. "He was really great today," Buter said. "I knew if I had him in front, they wouldn't catch us." The evening's wagering sire stakes event saw a scattered gathering between those that either broke or puled up. Meanwhile, Freedom Warrior (Dan Dube, $14.40) found his way out of the maiden ranks by pacing a mile...and a few extra steps. From post No. 6, he was away fourth, ahead of some early misbehavers. He was then wide down the backside the first time around another non-conformist. Freedom Warrior and driver Dan Dube collar Splash Brother before the wire (Mike Lizzi photo) Freedom Warrior had a loose target to chase in the presence of Splash Brother (Brent Holland), with that one going right along though intervals of :27.4, :56.1 and 1:24.4. The pursuer steadily closed ranks, getting past his rival late to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.2. It was about a dozen lengths back a tiring 11-10 choice Save Me a Dance (Jason Bartlett), while 45-1 outsider R Maddy Blue Chip (Kakaley) was fourth For fourth choice Freedom Warrior, an American Ideal gelding owned by Forrest Bartlett and trained by Kevin Lare, it was that first win in five '19/life starts. The exacta paid $55.50, the triple returned $146 and there was no superfecta wagering (coupled entry in the race). "He's a very fast horse," Dube said, adding, "You have to be careful with him." New York Sire Stakes continue downstate Thursday night (Aug. 22nd), with the Pat Quaglietta Trot 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. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Yonkers, NY -- After watching the visiting Italian amateur drivers make a good showing in the Hambletonian Amateur Trots at the Meadowlands on Friday (Aug. 2), the NAADA v. Italian Amateur Friendship Competition got underway at Yonkers Raceway on Monday night (Aug. 5) with two races on the betting card. And when the judges hung the official sign after each contest was completed NAADA's John Calabrese had won both events. Calabrese scored an eye-opening 1:53.2 victory with the Erv Miller-trained Normandy Beach in the pacing contest and Calabrese came right back to score a 2:00.1 triumph in the trot behind the Bill Adamczyk pupil, Blue Swan. Both races comprised the daily double on the Yonkers Raceway betting card. In the trotting contest Calabrese started from the four-hole and coasted along the pylons in fifth position as NAADA's Tony Verruso cut swift fractions of :26.2; :56.3 and 1:25 with Our Regal Ideal N. But when the field headed for paydirt Calabrese angled to the outside and Normandy Beach zipped the lead and coasted home an easy 1-1/2 length winner over Our Regal Ideal N. Italy's Michele Bechis finished third with Hudsonandbernard. The winner, a 5-year old altered son of Somebeachsomewhere, is owned by the Rock and Roll Stable. He paid $13.00. In the trotting event Calabrese had the odds-on favorite Blue Swan from the four-hole and trailed in fourth position until he moved first-up at the half to challenge the pacesetter Muzzy's Muscles , driven by Joe Faraldo. With Muzzy 's Muscles on the inside and Blue Swan on his chin-strap on the outside the two trotters were one-two by the third stanza. Although Muzzy's Muscle got first call at the top of the lane he faded as Blue Swan trotted clear and gamely held-off Merry Hanover (Jacopo Brischetto ) and Tech Titan, with Enrico "Vino" Colombino at the controls. Blue Swan, owned by William Chin, paid $3.90 for win. NAADA has been hosting Italian amateurs from the Venice area with the final two contests tomorrow at Monticello Raceway. by John Manzi, for NAADA    

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 3, 2019--A two-move There'sademoninme (Eric Goodell, $22.80) and a cone-skimming Control Tower (Joe Bongiorno, $60.50) muddled the mutuels Saturday night (Aug. 3rd), winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured $46,000 Open Handicaps. From post position No. 4 in the week's marquee trot, There'sademoninme left, then found himself in a three-hole behind Lord Cromwell (Jason Bartlett) and Mostinterestingman (Austin Siegelman). The former led through intervals of :27.4 and :57.2. There'sademoninme was out and moving, engaging the leader by the 1:26.1 three-quarters. He hooked Lord Cromwell in and out of the final turn, then ground that rival into submission. There'sademoninme then widened, winning by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:55.1. I'm the Muscle (Dan Dube) arrived late, snapping Lord Cromwell for second, with 2-5 choice Will Take Charge (Jordan Stratton) and Money Maven (Brent Holland) grabbing the remainder. Note that eight-holer Will Take Charge threw in steps right before the start, making his job that much more difficult. For fifth choice There'sdemoninme, an 8-year-old Kadabra gelding co-owned by Thomas Lazzaro, Michael Casalino Jr. & Howard Taylor and trained by Dylan Davis, it was his eighth win in 19 seasonal starts (and 40th career victory). The exacta paid $147, the triple returned $765 and the superfecta paid $2,468. The weekly adult-table pace saw Dr. J Hanover (Holland) roll through subsections of :27.3, :56.2 and 1:23.3. Owning a length-and-a-half lead entering the lane, he just failed to close the sale. In a race where the first four finishers were separated by a neck, it was loosely-pocket, polester Control Tower finding room closest to the pylons. He picked off the Good Doctor by a nostril in 1:52. Our Max Phactor N (Bartlett) and 1-2 fave I'm Some Graduate (Brennan) completed the close quartet, with The Real One (Pat Lachance)--beaten only a half-length--settling for the smallest pay envelope For seventh choice Control Tower, an 8-year-old Panspacificflight gelding owned by Dynasty Racing and trained by Nick Surick, it was his fifth win in 24 '19 tries. The exacta paid $155, the triple returned $518 and the superfecta (the good ol' 1-2-3-4) paid $1,159. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 2, 2019 - Yonkers Raceway Friday night (Aug. 2nd) hosted the $153,900 New York Sire Stakes Frank Becerra Pace for 2-year-old fillies. A trio of $51,300 races comprised the event. The first division saw Racine Bell (Jason Bartlett, $5.80), as the lone leaver make her five rivals pay (:29, :59.2, 1:28.1, career-best 1:56.1). From post position No. 5, Racine Bell opened three lengths in and out of the final turn before winning by that same margin. Rapunzel Blue Chip (George Brennan) as a loose-pocket second, with 11-10 favorite Dragon Roll (Jordan Stratton) a non-threatening, first-up third. Galleria Gal (Tyler Buter) was fourth. For second choice Racine Bell, a daughter of So Surreal co-owned by Chris & Dale Lawton and trained by Dave Dewhurst, it was her third win in six seasonal/career starts. The exacta paid $51.50, the triple returned $151.50 and the superfecta paid $378. The evening's second sire stakes rendition saw another down-the-road dominatrix in Merga Hanover (Brennan, $4.30). From post No. 3, the public choice held So Rude (Joe Bongiorno) at bay by a head after spongy intervals of :29.1, :59.1, 1:27.4 and 1:56. Movie Town (Buter) was a three-hole third, with Wannashakeyourtree (Bartlett) fourth. For Merga Hanover, an American Ideal ma'am co-owned by Thomas & Scott Dillon, Joe Sbrocco and W J Donovan, it was her third win in four seasonal/career tries. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $8.20, the triple paid $31 and the superfecta paid $82. Form didn't hold in the third and final statebred division as 1-2 choice Turnthefrownaround (Bartlett) jumped it off by the half while sitting third. Of those that remained pacing as required, a maiden-no-longer Tipperary Hill (Buter, $59) outgamed Cash Roll (Stratton) by a head in 1:56.3. The latter had taken over from first leader Chuppah On (Harry Landy), putting up subsections of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:27.2. Meanwhile, pole-sitting Tipperary Hill improved a position when the favorite jumped, then engaged the leader through the final turn before prevailing. Roll with Angel (Dan Dube) and Chuppah On rounded out the gimmick finishers. For sixth choice Tipperary Hill, an Art Major miss co-owned by David Smith, James De Armond, James & Daniel Giannuzzi and trained by Jessica Okusko, it was a first board finish in three '19/life starts. The exacta paid $144.50, the triple paid $584 and the superfecta paid $2,859. As an aside and according to our esteemed photographer, Daniel Giannuzzi was more than mildly enthused with Tipperary Hill's longshot win. He was hoping for the same with Sweet Chapter in Saturday's (Aug. 3rd) Hambletonian Oaks. Friday night's $46,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace was a hat trick for Feelin' Red Hot (Brennan, $2.90). New York Sire Stakes continue downstate Tuesday night (Aug. 6th), with the $153,200 Jim Crawford Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. 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, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Monday evening at Yonkers Raceway, Steve Starr gathered in the winner’s circle with about 30 of the track’s drivers, horsepeople, officials, and even the outrider. The group came together in recognition of Starr’s 47-year career at the track, which ended Monday as Starr announced his retirement. Growing up, Starr dreamed of becoming a Standardbred breeder and graduated from Delaware Valley College with a degree in animal husbandry. However, life guided him to Yonkers Raceway, where he took a job assisting Ed Parker and Richard O’Donnell in the race office in the mid-1970s. That job blossomed into a career and Starr soon became the track’s race secretary, a position he maintained through Monday.  Starr reflected on his career, the challenges facing the industry, and looked ahead to retired life with the SOA of NY’s Brandon Valvo Wednesday evening. BV: Congratulations on your career and on your retirement. How does it feel? SS: I’ve been retired for 24 hours and it feels great. I spent most of the day with my wife and my youngest grandchild, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m off on the right foot.  BV: They had a big ceremony in the winner’s circle for you. What was that like for you, how did you feel? SS: It was great. Over the course of the years, there have been so many great people in that winner’s circle and it really was a thrill to be down there. To have all those drivers and trainers and grooms and officials with me, I enjoyed it. BV: What made you decide now was the right time to call it a career? SS: Truthfully, I’ve put 47 years in and I’m going to be 70. I worked for the Rooneys my whole life, and it was great working for them and their family. They couldn’t have treated me any better over the period of 47-years and I have no regrets ever working for the Rooneys and (Vice President and COO) Bob Galterio. When MGM bought the place in late January, I just thought I was too old and too set in my ways to go forward with MGM and adjust to their changes. I spoke to my wife and I wanted to work until we got through the International Trot, but that’s two-and-a-half months away and we’d miss the whole summer, so I decided to get out now while the getting is good. BV: You mention the summer, do you have any plans coming up or anything you’re looking forward to? SS: Just staying local, I have a son and daughter. I live in Pleasantville, they moved to Pleasantville, with my grandchildren. I’m very happy right now. What my wife and I want to do is sell our house, we want to downsize, stay in Pleasantville. So, we have some work to do to keep us busy and once we do that, my new life will begin. This is still business. BV: How did you get involved in racing and how did you decide this was the career for you? SS: When I got out of college, I got the opportunity to work at some stud farms and I took that opportunity. I wanted to stay in the breeding business, that’s what my desire was early in my life. When I got to the farms, I felt they weren’t using me to the best of my abilities, so when an opportunity opened up at Yonkers, their assistant had moved on and I went down to interview for the job and I was very fortunate to start working for Ed Barker and the Rooney family. That was in 1974 and from there, my tutelage was under Ed Barker and Richard O’Donnell. In early 1977, I was given the job of race secretary and I was there in that position ever since. BV: What was it like when you first started working at Yonkers? What was the racetrack like back then? SS: It was great. It was $2 million a night in handle, good attendance. The work was outrageous, I never worked so hard. Ed Barker, he wasn’t a slave driver, but he was meticulous about how he wanted everything done. It was a tie and a coat when you went in to draw in the morning and then when you came back in the evening, it was a tie and a coat. There wasn’t a relaxed atmosphere back then, it was more business than anything else. The ABC system requires a lot more time than conditioned racing and that’s how I started. I worked that system until ’91 or ’92. It was a lot of work then; I can’t even tell you how much work. They days were 10, 12 hours, and those were good days. BV: You would spend a good portion of your day handicapping the horses and trying to classify them appropriately? SS: Yes, I learned that under Ed Barker and Richard O’Donnell. As an assistant, you work a little harder than most, but the whole system was different. You had to really watch those races pretty carefully so you could be sure about what you wanted to do. Move them up, move them down. These guys livelihoods were in your hands. It was important to do things right if you could. I liked it until Roosevelt closed and everyone was doing conditions except me. It was very difficult at that time to do ABC. When Roosevelt, was open, they could go to Roosevelt for a few months, then come to Yonkers for a few months. We both worked the ABC system, so it was easy to keep them classified and know where they were going to race. When we were the only ones doing ABC, every horse that came in had to be reclassified unless they were claimers.  BV: I imagine one of the biggest changes made during your career was the switch from ABC to conditions at that point? SS: Absolutely. It was night and day, like two different jobs. You give the horsemen more latitude to decide where they wanted to go. Your condition racing was by age, sex, money earned. There was a lot of opportunity to decide where you wanted to race, plus the claiming races. It really turned over the racing program more in the hands of the trainers and owners than the race secretary. There were a lot less arguments then, too. BV: What was it like when the casino came to Yonkers? SS: That was something brilliant, that was the greatest thing that happened to harness racing at Yonkers and in the State of New York. We were all in the same boat and the Rooneys kept that place going. When we opened the casino in 2006, it really made all the difference in the world. When we first opened, we got somewhere between $40- and $45 million for purses and that worked its way up to $50 million dollars. That made the biggest difference in the world. It sure made my job a lot easier. BV: Talk a little more about how the game has changed over the last 10 years or so. How has your job changed more recently? Everyone talks about the horse shortage; did you feel that at Yonkers? SS: Before we closed for the casino to be built, we were really struggling because the purses were not good. They still had the shipping to do, they had bridges to cross, and probably a lot of people just didn’t want to come to Yonkers. When we reopened, our purses gradually got much better. At that point in time, we had more horses than we knew what to do with. Eventually, that started to wean itself. The horse population is really bad at Yonkers only because for someone to ship to Yonkers, it costs about $250 and that probably doesn’t include the groom and paddocking, just for tolls and gas just to pull one of those trailers across the bridge. The expense is just exorbitant to get to us. Sometimes when they have to opportunity to race at Chester or Pocono, they race there instead. Now it’s more difficult and the only thing that makes it more difficult is lack of horses, but I’m not alone. I think that’s going to be one of the biggest problem the industry faces in the future. I think the horse population will be more important to deal with than anything else and I don’t think it’s far away, either. I would say probably within 5 or 10 years. BV: You look at entries for the top pacing races at a lot of the tracks, you have 20 or 30 New Zealand- and Australia-bred horses per night.  SS: That’s right, they’re filling these races, really. Especially the better classes. You can’t fill and Open and a Winner’s Over, you can’t fill those two classes. There was a time when you had an Open and two Winner’s Overs and they were pretty good horses. Now, you can’t fill them the same day, with mares, trotters, and the aged pacers. There just aren’t that many horses who can race in those classes. Chester and Pocono, if they didn’t have their series back and forth with the final, if they didn’t have that, they wouldn’t have any high-class races at their tracks. They don’t even try to fill Opens over there anymore. BV: How do you think that problem is going to be addressed? SS: I don’t think they’re taking it seriously right now. They know there’s a problem, but I really don’t think they realize how big this problem is going to be. There’s only one way to address it and that’s to have more horses. I don’t know how you get people to breed. These farms are putting out as much as they can. There really aren’t that many individuals that breed anymore, there’s just a few big farms that do most of the breeding. I don’t see that changing other than them increasing their broodmare bands and producing more yearlings, but I don’t know if they can do that or not. To raise a mare and a yearling and sell it is really expensive. BV: You mentioned the Yonkers International Trot at the beginning of our conversation. Talk about what it was like for you when that race was revived in 2015. What was it like to be a part of that? SS: I was tickled to death. I was scared. I didn’t know how it was going to work, I couldn’t speak anything but English. I was lucky, I was introduced to a guy from Europe. He’s a racetrack operator, but he’s also a friend of the horsemen. His name is Klaus Koch. With his assistance, we were able to put these fields together. When we started in 2015, it was not easy. The purse is $1 million, and you would have thought you weren’t giving them anything but a slice of pizza. It was comical. You have to wait a long time to fill these races because the Europeans don’t make a commitment right away. You have to be within a month of the race before they make a real commitment. It’s getting better now, but in 2015, they just didn’t want to make an early commitment. From the horseman’s side, I can’t argue with them, but as the race secretary, I wish they made up their minds a lot sooner. This year could be the best year ever. It certainly would have been if that French horse (Aubrion Du Gers) didn’t get killed in that accident on the track. He had already made a commitment to come with Dijon, the horse that won the Elitlopp. This was shaping up to be a really good race. Every horse I wanted to come was a grade 1 winner. This was the best year I ever had, it was unbelievable the way this was turning out and it’s still shaping up to be one of the best fields ever. I’m sure Bob Miecuna working with Klaus, they’ll get this race together. If the people who are interested now make a commitment, it will be a great race in 2019. BV: Listening to you talk about the International, it sounds like something you are really passionate about. SS: Oh, I was. When they came back with the race in 2015, it was $1 million. That was the second time we had a million-dollar race, we had an Art Rooney Pace for $1 million once. MGM was gracious enough without knowing much about racing to keep this race going. The SOA of NY of course, they’re very much a part of the race. They contributed 100 percent to the affair. BV: Talk more about the relationship with the horsepeople and the SOA of NY. That must have been a big part of your job as well. SS: It was, and I’ll tell you something, it’s a lot easier to get along with the horsemen than it’s not. Back in the ‘80s when Joe Faraldo and the SOA took over, it was a war zone at Yonkers. I didn’t know if I was going to make it home every night. But as things turned around and things got better, our relationship with the horsepeople got better. My relationship with Joe Faraldo and the SOA is 100 percent sound. They’re great people to work with, they’re reasonable, and if you work together and think together, you can make anything happen. The best way to run your business is to get along. Joe and I, we eventually many years ago started to get along and it really made things a lot better and I think it made the races a lot better, too. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

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  

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