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YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 27, 2017 - You just have to admire someone who was in a sow barn by day and a Yonkers Raceway harness racing winner's circle by night. "She's the best horse we've ever had," owner Jeffrey Williamson said after not-quite-death-and-taxes Cousin Mary (Jordan Stratton, $2.70) easily disposed of her seven rivals in Monday's (March 27th) final of the $61,000 Petticoat Pacing Series. The series was open to 3- and 4-year-old pacers who are/were non-winners of four races or $40,000 through last Dec.1 and pretty much closed once 'Mary' strutted her stuff. After hat-tricking her three Petticoat prelims, Cousin Mary won the draw for the final. Yielding early to St. Kitts (Jason Bartlett), the people's choice took over eight before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, is was quite simple (:57.2, 1:25.4, 1:54.3) after putting away a first-over bid from Vintage Babe (Yannick Gingras). The margin, a length-and-a-half entering the lane, was 2¾ lengths at the wire. St. Kitts was second, with a closing A Crafty Lady (Dan Dube) third. Vintage Babe and Real Diva (George Brennan) settled for the minors, while Northern Soiree (Matt Kakaley), Rei's Star Cross (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Angels Rockn Pink (Mark MacDonald) rounded out the order. For Cousin Mary, a 4-year-old daughter of Camluck owned by Williamson-a hog farmer northwest of Toronto-and trained by Andrew Harris, it was her seventh win in nine seasonal starts. The exacta paid $13.20, the triple returned $170 and the superfecta paid $704. "Honestly, when she first came to me, I didn't think that much of her,' Harris said. "She was handling (Yonkers') lower conditions, but not going that fast. When she moved up from non-winners of four (races) to non-winners of eight, she lost but raced better than she did when she was winning. "That's when I thought she had a future. Tonight was the first time the series Jordan (Stratton) popped her plugs, and I don't know where her bottom is." A $30,000 series consolation was won by a Winners Over MacDonald, $36.60) in 1:55.1. Monday night's Pick 5, which began with a $5,353.51 carryover, attracted $22,248 worth of fresh investors. The winning combination of 4/1/4/5/1 paid $60.87 for every winning half-a-buck-wager. The $61,800 final of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series goes Tuesday night (March 28th). Frank Drucker

Freehold, NJ --- The manner in which Cousin Mary found her way to owner Jeff Williamson’s harness racing stable --- not to mention the Petticoat Series at Yonkers Raceway --- could best be described as fortuitous. Especially given the way she has frequently found her way to the winner’s circle. Williamson bought Cousin Mary, the 9-5 morning line favorite in Monday’s $61,000 Petticoat Series final for 4-year-old female pacers, in 2014 as part of a two-horse package. Williamson’s initial interest was in the other horse, a filly named Wild Blue Ponder, but Cousin Mary was thrown into the deal. Before agreeing to the purchase, though, Williamson wanted to talk with his wife Becky. They agreed to go through with the transaction under one condition. The couple had purchased a horse several months earlier and the horse was racing that night. If the horse won --- which he had yet to do for the Williamsons --- they would complete the Cousin Mary deal. Of course, the horse won. It was his only win for the Williamsons. Cousin Mary, a daughter of Camluck-Chianti Seelster, has won 10 of 24 career races, hit the board a total of 19 times, and earned $86,543 in purses. “She’s definitely the best horse we’ve had so far,” said Williamson, an Ontario hog farmer who lives 125 miles northwest of Toronto. “It’s been a thrill. You need a horse like Mary to get you to the next level. For a guy like me and my wife, who are newer to the business, being in the Petticoat is a big thing to us. We’re proud of that. I know it’s not one of the bigger races, but for us it’s like the Little Brown Jug. Hopefully we get lucky on Monday.” Interestingly, Cousin Mary ended up at Yonkers only after Williamson saw a deal to sell the horse fall through last year. J Harris, who was driving Cousin Mary in Canada, suggested to Williamson that he send the horse to his brother, trainer Andrew Harris, in New Jersey to compete at Yonkers. Cousin Mary has won six of eight races this year, all at Yonkers. She won her three preliminary Petticoat divisions by an average of nearly four lengths and will start the final from post one with regular driver Jordan Stratton in the sulky. “There are some fillies in there that make me nervous, but the rail helps big time,” Andrew Harris said. “I think she likes Yonkers. She’s still a little green, but she’s getting the hang of it now and she doesn’t want to let anyone pass her and will pass anyone in front of her. She’s just come around and is peaking at the right time.” Following the Petticoat Series, Cousin Mary is expected to head to the Bobby Weiss Series for female pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. “I’ll probably skip the first leg (April 2), give her the week off, and then she’s got three more legs to try to get into the final there,” Harris said. “We’ll probably give her a little time off after that and then she’s a racehorse.” Williamson got into harness racing seven years ago but stepped up his involvement only recently. The Williamsons rent a horse farm with 45 stalls and a half-mile track near their home farm. They are involved in all aspects of the sport now, from breeding to racing. “My grandfather used to race before I was born so I wanted to learn how to do it,” Williamson said. “I wanted to learn the business. We’ve got 45 horses at the racing farm now.  “I like to give horses a chance. Some people give up on them; I like those horses.” Williamson owns Cousin Mary’s dam, Chianti Seelster, and has a Big Jim-sired 2-year-old filly out of the mare named Eataams Payday. Many of the Williamsons’ horses have Eataam in their name, which is a reference to the hog business, Eataam Pork. Eataam comes from the initials of the couple’s children at the time the name was created --- Evan (age 17), Alyshia (16), Tyler (14), Amy (12), Allan (9) and Matthew (7). Another son, the now-5-year-old Parker, was born afterward. “We didn’t think we should call him Pork,” Williamson said, laughing. He added about the horse business, “Our kids are involved now. It’s been a lot of fun so far.” For the complete list of entries at Yonkers Raceway on Monday (March 26) please click here. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

YONKERS, N.Y. - Driver Yannick Gingras felt confident in 4-year-old mare Vintage Babe when she faced the starting gate for the opening leg of the Petticoat Series at Yonkers Raceway March 6. The daughter of Vintage Master who Gingras co-owns had won four of her seven seasonal starts and hit the board in the other three, but those races were all out of town on bigger harness racing tracks. Vintage Babe’s first start on Yonkers’ half-mile oval was anything but routine. There was a recall before the race and Gingras could sense his mare was unsettled. When the wings of the gate finally folded, Vintage Babe left hard, but went off stride before the midway point of the first turn. “She caught me by surprise. She got really hot and she went into the first turn pulling hard on me and wanting to go way too fast,” Gingras remembered. “She made a break there and I kind of shrugged it off thinking she was a little too excited, a little too grabby.” Although she lost several lengths, Vintage Babe reset her gait in a matter of strides. Turning into the backstretch, Gingras found himself in a tough spot. Vintage Babe was caught wide in fifth about 6 lengths from the lead. However, as the race’s 1/20 favorite, Gingras’ decision was clear. “As soon as she got back pacing I knew I had to pull back to last or make a move to go to the front. For me, there was only really one option: it was go to the front,” he said. Although Vintage Babe sprinted to the lead and held off her challengers to the wire, she hardly lived up to her odds-on status. She won by a desperate half-length in 1:57.2 and only mustered a :30.3 final quarter. “She was really no good,” Gingras said. “Something was really off with her because once she made the front, she barely held on and that’s not her. That race, even though she made a break, she should have won by 5, honestly.” For week two of the Petticoat, Gingras and trainer Ed Gannon, Jr. made some adjustments they thought would help Vintage Babe negotiate the Hilltop Oval. Instead, she made another break while unhurried at the start from post position five. “She made a break before she even got to the turn. That really raised a red flag for me like something is really up with her. She’s not like that usually. Before she even got to the turn, she was protecting herself,” Gingras recalled. Despite her early troubles, Vintage Babe again reset and made the most of her predicament. Charging from last, she passed a rival on the outside before diving back to the pylons on the final turn. Gingras guided her into the passing lane in the stretch and she rallied to finished third 6 lengths behind winner St Kitts. In doing so, she earned enough points to make the Petticoat Final. “I never really got her going till almost the top of the stretch and from where I was sitting, there wasn’t much of a chance. She paced the stretch really good the second week,” Gingras said. Although Vintage Babe’s path to the Petticoat Final was unconventional, it comes as a pleasant surprise for her connections. Gingras partnered with longtime friends Frank Canzone, Bob Sabatini, and Gannon to buy her out of the 2016 Harrisburg sale for $40,000. “Frank Canzone, we go way, way back. He’s actually the first guy that bought horses with me when I came to Yonkers 15 years ago,” Gingras remembered. “Ed had a horse named Looking Hanover years ago. He owned him already and I was driving for him. I actually tried to buy him to give him to Burke to train, but he wasn’t interested in selling the horse. I ended up buying a piece of him and that’s how we hooked up.” The group hoped Vintage Babe could make money racing in conditioned races at Dover Downs this winter. She exceeded expectations, winning her first six starts at the Delaware speedway and set a new lifetime mark of 1:52.2 January 10. As the wins piled up, so did her earnings. Vintage Babe has already made $49,010 this year, bringing her career total to $99,591. By earning enough points to make the Petticoat Series Final in the first two legs, Vintage Babe was able to skip the last preliminary March 20. Her connections seized the opportunity to make adjustments. Now, she’s primed for Monday’s $61,000 stakes where she’s the 5/2 second choice on the morning line. “The week off will definitely be beneficial to her. She hasn’t been that good on the half and racing her four weeks in a row would have been a little too much for her,” Gingras said. “The day after that second race, we got a lot of vet work done on her and had two weeks to work. There were a lot of positives there. “We were able to train at the farm, do the equipment changes, and try them versus just trying them in a race. That was positive as well,” he continued. “She trains on a half-mile track at home and she trained quite hard at the farm this week. (Ed) said she could not have trained any better. We’re really optimistic.” Even if Vintage Babe handles the track, the Petticoat Final won’t be a walk in the park. The race’s favorite, Cousin Mary, raced in all three preliminary legs and won them by 5 3/4, 5, and 3/4 lengths, respectively. Cousin Mary drew the rail in the final and was installed as the 9/5 favorite. “On paper, the best horse got the rail. Obviously I think she’ll end up cutting the mile,” Gingras reasoned. “As far as I’m concerned, I just have to make it through the first turn and go from there. There’s no plan going in. “I’ll see how she feels in the post parade. I’ll score her down quite a bit to see how she feels. I still think that Cousin Mary is a really nice mare, but I know how good my mare is as well. If she doesn’t struggle on the turns, I think I can go with her. I’m not saying I can beat her, but I do know that my mare is in the same class as her.” The Petticoat Series Final is race 8 on a 12-race card Monday night at Yonkers. The $30,000 Petticoat Series Consolation supports the program two races earlier. Click here to view entries for the card. First post time is 7:10 p.m. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 25, 2017 - Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for harness racing Free-For-Allers continued Saturday night, with another quartet of $50,000 divisions. Second choice Missile J (Tim Tetrick, $4.40) enjoyed his off-the-pace antics so much in Round 1, he parlayed the performance this time around. From post position No. 3 in the third division, he was fourth as Somewhere in L A (Jason Bartlett) cleared his six inside rivals with the aplomb of a hurdler. After a :27.3 opening quarter-mile and moving toward a 56-second intermission, even-money fave Provocativeprincen (Jordan Stratton) moved from third. It appeared Bartlett was fighting with his charge to let Stratton and his ride go, but the latter duo could not seize the initiative. Somewhere in L A then threw in a :27.1 backside number (1:23.1) to dispose of Provocativeprincen, taking a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane. As this was transpiring, Missile J was closing ranks. He rallied from fourth in the lane, beating a solid 'L A' by a length in 1:51.3. Third went to 51-1 P H Supercam (Brett Miller), with 98-1 Texas Terror N (Mack MacDonald) and Take it Back Terry (George Brennan) rounding out the payees. Provocativeprincen backpedaled to last, his first blemish after a 4-for-4 start to his U-S career. For Missile J, a 4-year-old American Ideal gelding trained by Scott DiDomenico for Hoosierland co-owners John McGill and Brian Carsey, it was his sixth win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $40.60, with the triple returning $505. Saturday night's first Levy grouping was a private stretch battle between 3-2 choice Bettor's Edge (Miller) and an uncovered Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube). The latter whipped the pace-setting (:27.3, :56.2, 1:24) former by half-length in 1:51.3. First leader Dr. J Hanover (Scott Zeron) held third-beaten 3½ lengths-with Santa Fe Beachboy (Stratton) and Burning N (Ron Cushing) settling for the remainder. For Keystone Velocity, a 9-year-old son of Western Hanover co-owned (as Allard Racing) by trainer Rene Allard, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr and VIP Internet Stable, it was his first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $30, with the triple returning $185. The evening's second series soiree had slight 7-5 choice Rockin' Ron (Yannick Gingras, $4.90) take it the distance from the pole while matching (1:51.1) the fastest local mile of the season. Defending series champ Bit of a Legend N (Stratton) actually poked about a neck in front entering the lane from first-up, but a resurgent 'Ron' won by three-quarters of a length. Soto (Matt Kakaley) was a pocket third, with Mach it So (Tetrick) and Guantanamo Bay (Miller) settling for the minors. For Rockin' Ron, a 5-year-old Real Desire gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and RTC Stables, he's now 3-for-5 to begin the season. The exacta paid $15.20, with the triple (three wagering choices in order) returning $25. "I was worried on the final turn and wanted to save something for the stretch," Gingras said. "I had Bit of a Legend N challenging and Soto in the pocket. He's very easy on himself and he can really sprint home." The second round's final foray offered a 12-1 upset as Melmerby Beach (Bartlett, $26.60) pick off both 3-10 shot All Bets Off (Kakaley) and second choice Wakizashi Hanover (Tetrick). The former set seemingly-sensible fractions (:28, 57, 1:24), but gave way readily in the lane. Melmerby Beach, apparently not bothered by a 27-second third quarter, defeated 'Wakizashi' by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:52, with All Bets Off beaten three lengths. Artistic Major (Zeron) and Great Vintage (MacDonald) wound up with the leftovers. For third choice Melmerby Beach, a 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere owned and trained by Ettore Annunziata, it was his first win in three '17 starts. The exacta paid $132, the triple returned $237.50 and the superfecta paid $464. "He's had his moments," Bartlett said of Melmerby Beach. "I remember last season when he beat Foiled again in this series last season. I was surprised the leaders came back to me, but my horse finished very well." YONKERS' MONDAY PICK 5 FEATURES $5,300 CARRYOVER A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Monday evening's (March 27) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $5,351.51. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 (for programs with at least 11 races...if not, then it goes as races 6 through 10). It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Saturday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 24, 2017 - Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker offered up Round 2 Friday night (March 24th), with another trio of $40,000 divisions for top-flight harness racing pacing mares. The opening event saw Empress Deo (Matt Kakaley, $25) get encouraged to leave the gate, then trip out from the pocket to pick off Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) at the wire in 1:54. Diva's Image (Joe Bongiorno), as the just-over-even-money favorite, was third. From post position No. 5, Empress Deo left to an immediate lead, then relented to pole-sitting Shesjustadelight N at a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. After a soft :56.4 half, series-debuting Sandbetweenurtoes (Brett Miller) tried it first-up from fifth. She didn't threaten as 'Delight' led comfortably in and out of a 1:26 three-quarters, up a length-and-a-quarter entering the lane. A week ago, it was Empress Deo cutting the fractions and Shesjustadelight N beating her from behind. It was turnabout and fair play this time around, with Empress Deo ducking inside and getting the decision by a head. Diva's Image was beaten a length, with Lispatty (Mark MacDonald) and Sandbetweenurtoes rounding out the payees. For fourth choice Empress Deo, a 6-year-old daughter of Rocknroll Hanover owned by Legacy Racing of Delaware and trained by Wayne Givens, it was her first win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $71, with the triple returning $146. Friday night's second Matchmaker grouping saw Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton, $6.80) win both the draw and the race (1:53.2). Giving it up early to Wrangler Magic (Dube), Mackenzie A then played a game of Ladies Leapfrog, making the lead just after a :28.2 opening quarter-mile. It was an equally-time second substation (:56.4 intermission), then Betabcool N (Mark MacDonald) moved from fifth. Mackenzie A was comfy through a 1:24.4 three-quarters as the miss opened a couple of lengths into the lane. She held off a good effort from Wrangler Magic, winning by a half-length. Betabcool N held third, with a from-last, 79-1 Medusa (Kakaley) and a never-in-it, 9-10 fave Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) settling for the minors. For Mackenzie A, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned by Harry von Knoblauch & Ellen Kinser and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her first win in four seasonal/North American starts. The exacta paid $36.40, with the triple returning $205. The second round's final foray offered the fastest female, as it did a week ago. This time, it was odds-on Bedroomconfessions (Scott Zeron, $2.90) giving nothing else a shot (:27.3, :57, 1:25.2, 1:52.3). Leaving from the pylons, Bedroomconfessions toured the terrain with the ease of a qualifier. She stuffed Krispy Apple (Miller) in behind at the outset, then did as she pleased. The lead was three lengths in and out of the final turn and 3¼ lengths at the wire. Regil Elektra (Bartlett) was a solid, two-move second, with Kiwis Sell a Bit N (Stratton) and Change the Rulz N (George Brennan) earning the rest of the reward money. For Bedroomconfessions, a 5-year-old statebred daughter of American Ideal co-owned (as Alagna Racing) by (trainer) Tony Alagna and Riverview Racing, it was her third win in six '17 starts. The exacta paid $6.20, with the triple (three wagering favorites in order) returning $12.40. "She's a big horse, but she gets around a half (-mile track) so well," Zeron said. "They never tried her much on the small tracks before this season, but she's faster in these turns then she is in the straightaway. "The race couldn't have been easier. Everyone else was happy to line up behind us. Never showed her the whip, never pulled the plugs." Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 24, 2017 - A pair of series finals share next week's harness racing marquee, with Yonkers Raceway hosting the $61,000 Petticoat (Monday night, March 27) and $61,800 Sagamore Hill (Tuesday night, March 28). The series were open to 3- and 4-year-old pacers who are/were non-winners of four races or $40,000 through last Dec. 1. As luck-and the open draw-would have it, Cousin Mary (Jordan Stratton) partakes of the pylons as she goes after Petticoat series sweep in Monday's eighth race. The 4-year-old daughter of Camluck, Ontario-owned by Jeffrey Richardson and trained by Andrew Harris, was a sharp, two-move winner a week ago (series- and life-best 1:54.1) after a pair of solid, open-length winners. "She knows where the wire is," Stratton said of the lass who's 6-for-8 this season "She's surprised, me, but in a good way." Northern Soiree (Matt Kakaley, post 8) was the only other multiple-prelim winner, though she obviously needed better help with the pills. The 4-year-old Western Ideal miss, with four wins in eight seasonal starts, is owned by Seth Rosenberg Racing and trained by Scott Blackler. A Crafty Lady (Dan Dube, post 7), after missing the opening round of this series, drilled her foes last week. The 4-year-old Mach Three miss is owned by Bob Hamather and trained by Rene Allard. Angels Rockn Pink (Mark MacDonald, post 2), Vintage Babe (Yannick Gingras, post 3), Real Diva (George Brennan, post 4), Rei's Star Cross (Jim Marohn Jr., post 5) and St. Kitts (Jason Bartlett, post 6) round out the field. Tuesday night's finale of the Sagamore Hill, going as the sixth race, is a showdown among the troika of Prejudice (Stratton, post 1), Never Say Never N (Bartlett, post 2) and Awesomeness (Scott Zeron, post 5). While each swept their pair of series legs (one round was snowed out), Awesomeness may have been a bit more visually impressive than the other pair. The 4-year-old Mach Three gelding, owned by Martin Scharf and trained by Aaron Lambert, wired his foes (at 1-20) to begin this series, then won first-up a week ago in (1:53.3) "He's apparently been good from Day One," Zeron said. "There's no bottom to him, he seems to get over the track well and he's very simple to drive." Awesomeness enters Tuesday with six consecutive wins (all at odds-on), including a sweep of Woodbine's Snowshoe Series. The remainder of the Tribute to Teddy Roosevelt includes Sure Fired Bet (Gingras, post 3), Ideal Son (Brennan, post 4), Wishawasagigolo (Dube, post 6, coupled with Prejudice), Artmagic (Brent Holland, post 7) and Stirling Escort (Kakaley, post 8). Each series also includes its respective $30,000 consolation.     RACE 8 - Yonkers Raceway - NY - March 27, 2017  Conditions: PETTICOAT SERIES FINAL 3&4 YEAR OLD FILLIES & MARES  Gait: Pace     Purse: $61,000     Class: PETTIFINAL     Distance: 1 Mile     Planned Post Time: 9:30 PM     PP  Horse Med 2017 North America YTD  Driver  Trainer ML Base        Sts  W  P  S  Time  Earnings     Stable Odds Claim      1  Cousin Mary   8   6   1   0   1:54.1H   $67000   Jordan Stratton  Andrew Harris 9-5           2  Angels Rockn Pink L  3   1   1   0   1:56.1H   $16000   Mark Macdonald  John Butenschoen 7-1           3  Vintage Babe   9   5   2   2   1:52.2F   $49010   Yannick Gingras  Edwin Gannon Jr 5-2           4  Real Diva L  9   4   1   2   1:54.3F   $37530   George Brennan  Ron Burke 7-1           5  Rei`s Star Cross   7   2   2   2   1:55.0H   $28175   Jim Marohn Jr  Rob Harmon 10-1           6  St Kitts L  3   1   1   1   1:55.2H   $17400   Jason Bartlett  Richard Banca 6-1           7  A Crafty Lady L  7   3   1   1   1:55.2H   $23075   Daniel Dube  Rene Allard 15-1           8  Northern Soiree L  8   4   2   1   1:56.0H   $55250   Matt Kakaley  Scott Blackler 20-1           AE1  Family Roll Call L  7   0   3   1   -   $20000   Daniel Dube  Chris Ryder         RACE 6 - Yonkers Raceway - NY - March 28, 2017  Conditions: SAGAMORE HILL SERIES FINAL 3&4 YO C,H&G **$10 NYS STARTING FEE**  Gait: Pace     Purse: $61,800     Class: SAGAFINAL     Distance: 1 Mile     Planned Post Time: 8:50 PM     PP  Horse Med 2017 North America YTD  Driver  Trainer ML Base        Sts  W  P  S  Time  Earnings     Stable Odds Claim      1  Prejudice L  8   3   1   1   1:53.0H   $41850   Jordan Stratton  Joseph De Carlo             2  Never Say Never N   FOR: 0 0-0-0 $-   4   4   0   0   1:54.0H   $37000(i)   Jason Bartlett  Heidi Rohr             3  Sure Fired Bet L  6   1   0   0   1:54.2H   $12884   Yannick Gingras  Andrew Harris             4  Ideal Son   3   1   0   0   1:54.3H   $11210   George Brennan  Tom Fanning             5  Awesomeness   7   6   1   0   1:50.3S   $59404   Scott Zeron  Aaron Lambert             6  Wishiwasagigolo L  5   0   2   1   -   $13650   Daniel Dube  Joseph De Carlo             7  Artmagic L  6   2   2   0   1:54.1H   $32500   Brent Holland  Jeffrey Bamond Jr.             8  Stirling Escort L  7   1   3   1   1:54.1H   $36230   Matt Kakaley  Linda Kakaley             AE1  Dakota Jack L  9   4   2   0   1:53.4H   $49800   Daniel Dube  Matias Ruiz     YONKERS’ FRIDAY PICK 5 FEATURES $4,400 CARRYOVER A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Friday evening’s (March 24th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $4,467.45.   The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 (for programs with at least 11 races…if not, then it goes as races 6 through 10).  It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Thursday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, March 23, 2017 - Yonkers Raceway and its ADW portal, Empire City Bets, are offering advance wagering for Saturday's (March 25) Dubai World Cup program. Beginning Friday (March 24), the Raceway shall accept wagers for the last four races (see schedule below) of the World Cup program. Those same four races, culminated by the $10 million Cup (featuring Arrogate), are available for in-house wagering Saturday, with selected mutuel windows opening at 10 AM (and free coffee). Empire City Bets is offering advance wagering for the entire World Cup program, again beginning Friday. Please visit www.empirecitybets.com for details. The entire roster of races includes...   Race Post Time Dubai Post Time UK Post Time ET Race 1 Godolphin Mile (Group 1) 3:45pm 11:45am 7:45am Race 2 Kahayla Classic (Group 1 Arabian) 4:15pm 12:15pm 8:15am Race 3 Dubai Gold Cup (Group 1) 4:50pm 12:50pm 8:50am Race 4 UAE Derby (Group 2) 5:25pm 1:25pm 9:25am Race 5 Al Quoz Sprint (Group 1) 6:00pm 2:00pm 10:00am Race 6 Dubai Golden Shaheen (Group 1) 6:35pm 2:35pm 10:35am Race 7 Dubai Turf (Group 1) 7:30pm 3:30pm 11:30am Race 8 Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1) 8:05pm 4:05pm 12:05pm Race 9 Dubai World Cup (Group 1) 8:45pm 4:45pm 12:45pm Frank Drucker

Columbus, OH --- In this business, it’s very rare that even the most carefully constructed strategies actually yield results, but the machinations of Ron Cushing, Kevin Sywyk and Heidi Gibbs have produced an incredible amount of joy and satisfaction with the purchase of the New Zealand-bred harness racing mare Shesjustadelight N. The 7-year-old was in the winner’s circle for every one of her 12 trips to the post last year, has defeated males and captured her first $40,000 leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway on Friday (March 17). The trio’s fledging plan has certainly come together, as they prepare to contest the second $40,000 leg of the series on Friday (March 24). Shesjustadelight N will commence her journey from the rail with Cushing at the controls as she seeks to collect another Grand Circuit victory. She is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the first of three Matchmaker divisions. “I had the best season of my career in 2007 training and driving at Saratoga with more than $1 million in both categories ($1.1 million training and $1.2 million driving) and then we had to leave,” said Cushing. “People used to joke there should be an ‘N’ after my name on my stable sign at Saratoga because we were so successful with horses from New Zealand. After leaving Saratoga, everything just seemed to go bad; like cars breaking down, my dad being diagnosed with leukemia and only several horses in the barn. It actually worked out returning to Maine, where I grew up, so I could spend that time with my dad, which I would never trade for the world, and to work my way back. “I had worked with an agent before and I spoke with my good friend Peter Tritton about buying a mare from New Zealand to race here. We selected Shesjustadelight and from the first time I jogged her I knew she was talented. To be here in this series with her at Yonkers was a year in the making and we are just fortunate it all worked out as we planned.” A daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Love The Look, Shesjustadelight N was not exactly a terror in her home nation, but was a solid performer in stakes company, where she placed in multiple events and earned $78,215. Since her hooves landed on U.S. soil, however, the mare has been simply superb. While competing solely in New England, the mare amassed $81,000 and set her mark of 1:51 on Nov. 17 when defeating her male rivals with authority at Plainridge Park in a $20,000 Open event. Her first foray into deeper waters resulted in another triumph in a $45,000 Open Handicap against her own gender at Yonkers Raceway on Dec. 9. In three appearances this season, Shesjustadelight N has a record of 3-1-0-1, with all of her performances at Yonkers Raceway. The only occasion she has not hit the board was her first start of 2017 on Feb. 24 after a brief freshening. “That race just did not work out for her,” Cushing said. “She was coming back from a rest and she still closed like she always does; she was just too far back. When she finished third in her next start ($50,000 Open on March 3) I put her in the passing lane and she was closing again, but just couldn’t get there because we had 40-mph headwinds she had to contend with.” Shesjustadelight N’s next engagement was a triumph in the first $40,000 leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series on March 17. Cushing was provided with a perfect pocket trip for the mare, who made the most of her advantage and once again, had her picture taken. “The race just set up well for us,” Cushing said. “I did not have to use her and that is exactly what you want for a win in this series. With six legs and this kind of competition you could not ask for more. I know this week is very tough as well. We are in against Divas Image, (9-2, post two) who raced really well here last week from the eight-hole and the Remmens’ mare Sandbetweenurtoes (3-1, post four). Also how can you not respect Mach It A Par and Bedroomconfessions? We will have to meet them in this series and they are both very nice mares; their trainers have done an excellent job with them.” In Cushing’s opinion, he is comfortable with where he, his fiancée Gibbs and partner Sywyk are sitting. “It’s like I told Frank (Drucker, publicity director for Empire City at Yonkers Raceway) last week,” Cushing said. “She is just so handy; you can do anything with her. She also really enjoys her job; she loves being out there. That is why we decided to not push her, build up her confidence and allow her to transition in New England. We wanted her to like winning and for her attitude to be good. I hate to say it, but it is different with girls. Like with us boys, we can get in a bar fight, be with another man’s girlfriend and the next day we shake hands and it’s all good. With women it’s not like that and their attitude can change in a minute. I guess that’s what’s good about it, because it can only take five seconds for their mood to move on to something else, but it just is so much different to have a really nice mare with this kind of talent; it means more.” While Cushing, Gibbs and Sywyk definitely have their eyes on the Blue Chip Matchmaker prize, they already have mapped out a plan for Shesjustadelight N following this series. “We didn’t stake her for the Canadian series races like the Roses Are Red,” Cushing said. “But we do have her eligible for the Golden Girls and Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands. We are also hoping she receives invitations for other events like the Betsy Ross. We know there are so many excellent older pacing mares out there, but as long as she stays well, we really like our mare for the rest of this year.” For the complete Friday (March 24) evening card at Yonkers Raceway, please click here.  by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

Ken Wood has seen Soto grow up. And now Wood is watching the harness racing 5-year-old pacer tangle with the big boys. Last week, Soto won his first-round division of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. Soto defeated a field that included defending Levy champion Bit Of A Legend N, 2014 Levy winner P H Supercam, open-stakes-winners Wakizashi Hanover and Somewhere In L A, plus world champion Always At My Place. "It was a privilege to be in the same race with those horses," said Wood, who owns Soto with Bill Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta. "There are a lot of horses better than him, but it's fun to have him be able to race with them. He's not the best horse in the world, but he's decent when he gets it his way a little bit." Wood and his partners bought Soto for $40,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale in 2015. Since the purchase, Soto has won 17 of 50 races and earned $234,045 in purses. For his career, the stallion has won 21 of 75 starts and banked $345,575. Soto won only one of his first six races for his new owners, but eventually worked himself up to the Preferred/Open level of competition at Dover Downs and Yonkers prior to heading to the Levy. "He didn't start off with a boom, but he's gotten a little better all the time," Wood said about Soto, whose family includes Dan Patch Award-winners Sportswriter and Precocious Beauty. "He was a nice purchase for the money we gave for him. "When you're at the sale, you look at all of them. He showed some 26-second last quarters early as a 3-year-old, and if they're doing that well early on, there's speed in there. He had a few little problems, but nothing serious. You know they're supposed to get better as a 4- and 5-year-old. That's what I go by, anyway. "I think somebody else helps me raise my hand once in a while," he added. "We're not geniuses, just lucky." Wood, who also co-owns 2015 Dan Patch Award-winning older male trotter JL Cruze with Dittmar and Iaquinta, uses the profits from his horses to fund his mission to dig wells for safe drinking water in Africa. Since starting his Lifetime Wells project in 2006, his group has put in a total of 1,700 wells in Ghana and Tanzania. "It's going good," Wood said. "We've got one rig drilling every day with the locals. When I go four times a year I drill in Tanzania myself. I spend three months every year over there." It was upon returning from one of his trips that Wood realized Soto had done a lot of growing up following his season as a 3-year-old. "I've never seen a horse grow from (age) 3 to 4, but he's grown six inches taller," Wood said. "He was a little bitty fella. I'd been in Africa for a while and when I came back he grew a lot. He's grown much taller than he was. I've never had that experience before when they grow at that age, but he sure did." Soto returns to the Levy Series this Saturday, where he will compete in the second of four second-round divisions. Soto, trained by Eric Ell and driven by Matt Kakaley, will start from post two. The field also includes Bit Of A Legend N, Rockin Ron, Mach It So, McWicked, Guantanamo Bay, and Blood Brother. The third division features two first-round winners --- Provocativeprincen and Missile J --- while the fourth division includes opening-round winner Long Live Rock. The series has five $50,000 preliminary rounds followed by a $200,000-added final, which is scheduled for April 22. "Post position helps quite a bit at Yonkers, naturally," Wood said, referring to high win percentages for horses with inside starting spots on the half-mile oval. "Luck went our way the first race anyway. We're just hoping he gets checks because we know those other horses are better than he is." If Soto keeps enjoying success, though, Wood might no longer be able to say that. "I hope I have that problem," Wood said, laughing. For Saturday's complete Yonkers card, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - Mothers love all their children (in theory), but Tuesday night's happiest harness racing mom had to be Cheyenne Adrienne. Suffice to say no other two- or four-legged mommy had their offspring find Yonkers Raceway's winner's circle not once, but twice. Throw in the fun factoid they're full brothers, and you certainly have some dinner-table conversation. Boogiewoogiebrian (Jordan Stratton, $10) won a blanket photo, first-up by a head in the $14,500, third-race pace (1:55) for a first win of the season. The 7-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding in owned by Eric Prevost and trained by Rob Harmon. Not to be outdone, big brother (by one year) Yo Cheyenne Rocky (Stratton, $12) won the $14,500 eight race, also first-up (1:55.4), also by a head. It was also 'Rocky's' first win of the season for the Robbie Siegelman- trained, Barry Rubinstein Farms-owned homebred. Cheyenne Adrienne couldn't quite complete the always-tricky maternal hat trick however, as half-brother (and 4-5 favorite) Cheyenne Jeffrey (Jason Bartlett) faded to third in the $16,500, 11th-race finale. 'Jeffrey' is a 9-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding for Siegelman/Rubenstein. Frank Drucker

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series second legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features three $40,000 divisions on Friday (March 24) in the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (March 25) card at Yonkers will see four $50,000 divisions in the second round of the George Morton Levy series for open pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for Free-For-Allers began Saturday night (March 18), with a quartet of $50,000 divisions over a 'sloppy' surface. The opening event saw 3-2 choice Missile J (Tim Tetrick) charge from sixth in the lane to win going away in 1:54.1. Unhurried from post position two, he rolled late, whipping a pocketed Blood Brother (Jason Bartlett) by 1-1/2 lengths. Third went to a rallying Guantanamo Bay (Scott Zeron), with Burning N (Ron Cushing) and a pace-setting Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube) settling for the remainder. For Missile J, a 4-year-old American Ideal gelding trained by Scott DiDomenico for co-owners John McGill and Brian Carsey, it was his fifth win in six seasonal starts. Saturday night's second Levy grouping saw Long Live Rock (Dube) author a decisive, first-over upset. Moving from fourth, from post two, he dismissed 1-2 favorite McWicked (Zeron), then drew off to win by three lengths in 1:54.1. Season-debuting All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) couldn't match the winner's tow but finished second, with Mattamerican (Brett Miller) third. Santa Fe Beachboy (Jordan Stratton) and Melmerby Beach (Tetrick) grabbed the minors. McWicked, caught three-deep early, wound up a badly-beaten seventh. For Long Live Rock, an 8-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding owned and trained by Rene Allard, it was his first win in six seasonal starts. The evening's third series soiree had Provocativeprincen (Stratton) -- from post two -- prevail in a blanket finish. Away third, he engaged Bettor's Edge (Miller), then outgamed a pocketed Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras) by a head in 1:54.2. Mach It So (Tetrick) in his first seasonal start, was third, beaten a neck, with Bettor's Edge and Texas Terror N (Mark MacDonald) earning the lesser loot. Provocativeprincen, a 7-year-old Down Under Grinfromeartoear gelding owned by Harry von Knoblauch Stable and trained by Peter Tritton, is now 4-for-4 to begin the season. The first round's final foray offered the fastest feet as Soto (Kakaley), pacing from the pocket, was able to get 'first run' against defending series champion Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton). The former, from post three, whipped the latter by a half-length in 1:53.3. Bit Of A Legend N, as the 2-5 choice, was second-up and may have waited a tad too long. Pace-setting Somewhere In L A (Bartlett), Wakizashi Hanover (Tetrick) and Always At My Place (Gingras) rounded out the payees. For Soto, a 5-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven trained by Eric Ell for co-owners Ken Wood, William Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta, it was his fifth win in nine '17 starts. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2017, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2017 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the opening weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Jason Bartlett - 27; 2. Matt Kakaley - 20; 3. Jordan Stratton - 15; 4. Scott Zeron - 14; 5. Tim Tetrick - 12. Trainers: 1. Richard Banca - 17; 2. Peter Tritton - 15; 3. Scott DiDomenico - 12; 4t. Rene Allard - 10; 4t. Keith Armer - 10; 4t. Eric Ell - 10; 4t. Heidi Gibbs - 10; 4t. Ron Burke - 10. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch Stable - 15: 2t. Rene Allard - 10; 2t. Fred Monteleone Stable - 10; 4t. Brian Carsey - 5; 4t. Ron Cushing - 5; 4t. Jesmeral Stable - 5; 4t. Legacy Racing of DE - 5; 4t. John McGill - 5; 4t. Kevin Sywyk - 5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy over the next three weekends. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 22. by Paul Ramlow, publicity director, the Grand Circuit

The SOA of NY recognized the 2016 achievement of top harness racing driver Jason Bartlett recently with a plaque presented by SOA President Joe Faraldo. Bartlett will be the first to tell you how much he owes his grandfather for the exceptional talent being recognized once again as the HIlltop Oval's leading driver. In a very talented field of drivers competing at Yonkers, including many who have found their way to the winner's circle in the sport's most prestigious events, Bartlett didn't rest on his laurels of 2015. Jason notched 616 victories, over one hundred more than 2015's 514 triumphs. He also added 405 second place finishes and 362 third place finishes. His numbers were virtually untouchable within the talent laden Yonkers driving colony once again earning him the driving title in 2016.  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 20, 2017--The invincible Arrogate-Travers Stakes, Breeders' Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup champion deservedly proclaimed as the "World's Best Racehorse"-tries to continue his dominance in the $10 million Dubai World Cup this Saturday (March 25). Look no further than Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway as the place to be for simulcast wagering on this epic. The 4-year-old son of Unbridled Song, trainer Bob Baffert and regular jockey Mike Smith have headed halfway across the world to square off against such familiar names as Keen Ice, Hoppertunity, Gun Runner, Lani and Mubtaahji in the elite field of 14, but New York-area racing enthusiasts only need a short trip to Empire City Casino just north of New York City to partake in the betting action. Post time for the World Cup is 12:45 PM. After finishing third in his career debut, Arrogate has reeled off six consecutive wins (including the trio of multi-million dollar stakes) in dramatic and emphatic fashion. Meydan Racecourse is the host of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, and Yonkers will be accepting wagering on the last four races - all Group 1 affairs - on the program. Race 6 - Dubai Golden Shaheen, 10:35 AM ET Race 7 - Dubai Turf, 11:30 AM ET Race 8 - Dubai Sheema Classic, 12:05 PM ET Race 9 - Dubai World Cup, 12:45 PM ET Doors at Empire City open at 10 AM (free coffee), with mutuel windows available on the third and fourth floors. The Dubai World Cup field (alphabetically) includes Arrogate, Mubtaahji, Gun Runner, Hoppertunity, Neolithic, Special Fighter, Keen Ice, Gold Dream, Awardee, Apollo Kentucky, Long River, Move Up, Furia Cruzada and Lani. Empire City Bets will have wagering on the nine-race card available (see full program below). Please visit www.empirecitybets.com for more information. The immortal Cigar won the inaugural Dubai World Cup win 1996, and such champions as Silver Charm, Curlin, Animal Kingdom, and California Chrome have brought the Cup back to America.   Race Post Time Dubai Post Time UK Post Time ET Race 1 Godolphin Mile (Group 1) 3:45pm 11:45am 7:45am Race 2 Kahayla Classic (Group 1 Arabian) 4:15pm 12:15pm 8:15am Race 3 Dubai Gold Cup (Group 1) 4:50pm 12:50pm 8:50am Race 4 UAE Derby (Group 2) 5:25pm 1:25pm 9:25am Race 5 Al Quoz Sprint (Group 1) 6:00pm 2:00pm 10:00am Race 6 Dubai Golden Shaheen (Group 1) 6:35pm 2:35pm 10:35am Race 7 Dubai Turf (Group 1) 7:30pm 3:30pm 11:30am Race 8 Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1) 8:05pm 4:05pm 12:05pm Race 9 Dubai World Cup (Group 1) 8:45pm 4:45pm 12:45pm by John Cirillo, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, March 19, 2017-Aggressive (Mark MacDonald, $9.80) angled off the cones and was up at the wire Sunday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway's $68,000 Open Trot. Starting from the pylons in the field of nine (the infamous 10-hole was scratched). Aggressive minded his manners as the lass Allerage Star (Andy Miller) left over Lady's Dude (George Brennan), and wasn't in too much of a hurry (:29.1, :59). Hemi Seelster (Jason Bartlett), as the slight 7-2 favorite from the second tier, then offered some mild heat. The one came first-up from fifth toward a 1:28.1 three-quarters, but never serious challenged, Allerage Star had the lead at the 1:57 milepost, with a length-and-a-half advantage in and out of the final turn. It was about the juncture when Aggressive extricated himself from the cones. He and Lady's Dude-who appeared to duck into the passing lane a lap earlier-provided Allerage Star with unwanted company from both flanks. Lady's Dude did so again this time, but was outgamed by Aggressive, who earned the schnoz decision in 2:27.1 for the mile-and-one-quarter. Allerage Star was third, beaten a neck, with a traffic-troubled Luck O the Irish (Jordan Stratton) and Hemi Seelster rounding out the payees. The five payees were separated by just a length-and-three-quarters at the wire. For third choice Aggressive, a 6-year-old Kadabra gelding trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera for owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen, it was his third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $130, the triple returned $510 and the superfecta paid $1,535. This was the final Sunday card until the end of May, and also the last 'New York, New York Double' until then (when Aqueduct becomes Belmont). Sunday's winning combination of 1-Lakeside Sunset (Aqueduct's 3rd race) and 7-Not Afraid (Yonkers' 6th race) paid $20 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $5,745. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 18, 2017-Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for Free-For-Allers began Saturday night, with a quartet of $50,000 divisions over a 'sloppy' surface. The opening event saw 3-2 choice Missile J (Tim Tetrick, $5) charge from sixth in the lane to win going away in 1:54.1. Unhurried from post position No. 2, he rolled late, whipping a pocketed Blood Brother (Jason Bartlett) by a length-and-a-half. Third went to a rallying Guantanamo Bay (Scott Zeron), with 78-1 Burning N (Ron Cushing) and a pace-setting Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube) settling for the remainder. For Missile J, a 4-year-old American Ideal gelding trained by Scott DiDomenico for Hoosierland co-owners John McGill and Brian Carsey, it was his fifth win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $22, with the triple returning $76.50. Saturday night's second Levy grouping saw Long Live Rock (Dube, $38.60) author a decisive, first-over upset. Moving from fourth (from post No. 2), he dismissed 1-2 favorite McWicked (Zeron), then drew off to win by three lengths in 1:54.1. Season-debuting All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) couldn't match the winner's tow but finished second, with 62-1 shot Mattamerican (Mark MacDonald) third. Santa Fe Beachboy (Jordan Stratton) and Melmerby Beach (Tetrick) grabbed the minors. McWicked, caught three-deep early, wound up a badly-beaten seventh. For fifth choice Long Live Rock, an 8-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding owned and trained by Rene Allard, it was his first win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $232, with the triple returning $3,014. The evening's third series soiree has Provocativeprincen (Stratton, $5.70)-from post No. 2-prevail in a blanket finish. Away third, he engaged Bettor's Edge (Brett Miller), then outgamed a pocketed, 8-5 fave Rockin' Ron (Yannick Gingras) by a head in 1:54.2. Mach it So (Tetrick) in his first seasonal start, was third, beaten a neck, with Bettor's Edge and 77-1 Texas Terror N (MacDonald) earning the lesser loot. For second choice Provocativeprincen, an 8-year-old Down Under Grinfromeartoear gelding owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, he's now 4-for-4 to begin the season. The exacta paid $16.60, with the triple returning $62.50. "He's done nothing wrong since I've sat behind him," Stratton said,. The first round's final foray offered the fastest feet as Soto (Kakaley, $14) from the pocket was able to get 'first run' against defending series champion Bit of a Legend N (Stratton). The former, from post No. 3, whipped the latter by a half-length in 1:53.3. Bit of a Legend N, as the 2-5 choice, was second-up and may have waited a tad too long. Pace-setting Somewhere in L A (Bartlett), Wakizashi Hanover (Tetrick) and a Always at My Place (Gingras) rounded out the payees. For third choice Soto, a 5-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven trained by Eric Ell for co-owners Kenneth Wood, William Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta, it was his fifth win in nine '17 starts. The exacta paid $23, the triple returned $55 and the superfecta paid $198. "He's just a versatile horse," Kakaley said. "I would have been happy either cutting the mile or sitting second. It may have been different had Bit of a Legend N been first-up, but my horse was very good." The Saturday night Pick 5, buoyed by a carryover in excess of $3,100, was taken down by one bettor. A winning combination of 2/3/8/7/3 returned $13,468.25 for that 50-cent wager. Reminder that Sunday's live all-trot 'French' card begins at 12:30 PM, the final Sunday card until the end of May. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 17, 2017-Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker for high-end pacing mares began Friday night, with a trio of $40,000 divisions. The opening event saw odds-on choice Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing, $3.60) parlay a perfect pocket trip into a handy, 1:53 victory Winning the draw, Shesjustadelight N watched as Empress Deo (Matt Kakaley) grabbed the lead before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. Then, along came American Girl (Tim Tetrick), who eschewed a three-hole only to get hung for her troubles by Empress Deo. It was a :55.2 intermission and 1:23.4 three-quarters, with American Girl eventually backing away. While that was transpiring, Shesjustadelight N was enjoying the show, awaiting her close-up. Empress Deo owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but the fave was ready. Shesjustadelight N edged inside, defeating the Empress by a length-and-a-three-quarters. Change the Rulz N (Scott Zeron) rallied for third at 48-1, with 110-1 shot Quick Draft A (Mark MacDonald) and Tessa Seelster (George Brennan) rounding out the payees. "She's just super handy and I couldn't have asked for a better trip," Cushing said. "I was a bit surprised Tim (Tetrick) didn't take the seat behind me, but it ended up working out for us. "It's always good when you can just a win in this series without using a horse hard, so we're going take it.." For Shesjustadelight N, a 7-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight co-owned by her driver & Kevin Sywyk and trained by Heidi Gibbs, it was her first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17.80, with the triple returning $109.50 "She's just super handy and I couldn't have asked for a better trip," Cushing said of his lass. "I was a bit surprised Tim (Tetrick) didn't take the seat behind me, but it ended up working out for us. "It's always good when you can just a win in this series without using a horse hard, so we're going take it." Friday night's second Matchmaker grouping saw another odds-on number, Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett, $3.20) prevail, though not without some angst. Away third from post position No. 2, Mach it a Par quarter-moved around Bedroomconfessions (Zeron), taking over right a :28.1 first two furlongs, There were very soft fractions after that (:57.3, 1:26), with Betabcool N (MacDonald) trying it first-up from fourth. Mach it a Par owned a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn, then was all out to hold off Bedroomconfession by a nose in 1:53.2. Betabcool N held for a credible third, with Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton) ad Krispy Apple (Brett Miller) settling for the remainder. For Mach it a Par, a 7-year-old daughter of Mach Three co-owned by D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, Gandolfo & T L P Stables and trained by Richard Banca, it was her second win in four seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $5.10, with the triple returning $16.20. The first round's final foray offered the fast female, as Regil Elektra (Bartlett, $8.40) lasted on the lead in a season's-best 1:52.4. From post No. 3, she hooved her way (:28.2, :57.1, 1:24.3). Regil Elektra had a length lead into the lane, then whipped a crisp rally of 22-1 Hidden Land by a half-length. Third went to a pocketed Lispatty (MacDonald), with a first-up Medusa (Kakaley) and Diva's Image (Joe Bongiorno) grabbing the minors. Nike Franco N (Tetrick), locally debuting as the 9-10 favorite, gapped second-over and wound up seventh. For second choice Regil Elektra, a 7-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Fred Monteleone Stable and trained by Keith Armer, it was her third win in six '17 starts. The exacta paid $133.50, with the triple returning $374. "The open draws are so big in these series, and both (Mach it a Par and Regil Elektra) had good posts, so I had to leave with them," Bartlett said. "Mach it a Par isn't a front-end sort of mare, but I thought she was good in the last quarter when she had to be. "Regil Elektra won the Open Handicap here last Friday when it was cold, and she was there again." The Matchmaker (as well as the Saturday night-beginning George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series) offer five preliminary rounds, leading to a finale, set for Saturday, Apr. 22nd . by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

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