Day At The Track
George Napolitano Jr,Harness racing

George Napolitano Jr sweeps features

WILKES-BARRE PA - A pair of Cantab Hall geldings handled by George Napolitano Jr., the leading harness racing driver at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, took lifetime marks in winning the $15,000 featured trots during the Tuesday twilight card. The faster of the two was the sophomore Nextroundsonme, who won in 1:54.3 for Napolitano, trainer Jenny Melander, and Belmar Racing & Breeding LLC. "George Nap" and Nextroundsonme made the lead early then yielded to sit in the pocket behind Bag O Chips, then went to the Pocono Pike and gained in a :28.3 last quarter to win by a neck over the closing P L Ketchup, with pacesetting Bag O Chips a head behind the place horse and favored Smokee Mirrors squeezing between horses late to miss the victory by only a half a length though fourth. As tight as that finish was, Final Dream's 1:55 victory in the other division was just as decisive, as she made the top, got a second quarter breather, then outmuscled the competition in winning by 3¼ lengths. After being on the board in over half his seasonal starts, Final Dream finally broke into the 2019 victory column for trainer Carmine Fusco and owner Howard Jacobs. George Napolitano Jr. completed a sweep of the featured races when he directed the A Rocknroll Dance mare Sidewalk Dancer to a 1:51 victory in a $14,000 conditioned pace for distaffs. The winner was on the move off the first turn to grab the top before the next bend, kept up a fast pace, then kept pocket rocket hopeful Keystone Riptide at bay by a neck. Chris Oakes conditions the winner of $245,109 for Northfork Racing Stable, Omar Beiler, and Dennis Coons.   PHHA / Pocono

Kurt Sugg

Sugg wins five races on the nine race card

Painesville, OH- Harness racing action kicked off at the Lake County Fair in Painesville, Ohio Tuesday with nine races, five of which were won by driver Kurt Sugg. His wins included the $3,500 Forest "Pappy" Cone Memorial, a Signature Series Trot, and the richest event of the day, the $10,100 three-year-old filly trot. Earlier this month, Sugg went over the 4,000 career win mark. In the Cone Memorial, Sugg steered his trainee Star Chip, owned by Rebecca Sugg, to an easy 2:02 win, her eighth of the year. The eight-year-old gelded son of Chip Chip Hooray- Star Sneakers has now banked just under $340,000 in his career. It was his second Signature Series win of the year. Riverdancing Diva was second and Rockinthepines finished third. In the sophomore filly trot, trainer Marty Wollam called on Sugg to drive Ladycallstheshots, a daughter of Uncle Peter from the SJ's Caviar mare Caviar For The Lady. She cruised to a 2:04.2 win, her first this year. She is owned and was bred by Acadia Farms of Canfield, Ohio. D J Miracle finished second, with And Up We Go taking home show money. Sugg also easily took the opener for two-year-old pacing fillies with Pat Holden's Miss Tressa, who was an impressive 2:01.3 winner for trainer Wollam. He also won the second division of the freshman filly pace, this time piloting Don Hoovler, Jeery Sommers and Mike Medors' Yankee Cruiser filly Medoland Carmen to a 2:04.3 win. To wrap things up, in the nightcap, Sugg won the maiden trot in 2:07with two-year-old trotting gelding K J Chuck. Scott Woogen owns the winner who is trained by Steve Cross.   Keith Gisser for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association

Dixie Star,Harness racing

Pocono Week in Review

It was a week of extremes in terms of the weather for harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. On Saturday night, action was delayed due to the intense heat. On Monday, torrential rains caused a delay. But all 56 races scheduled for the four racing cards were eventually run, and, despite the somewhat erratic conditions, the action was excellent throughout. The outstanding efforts put forward by the winners of our Weekly Awards is proof of that. PACER OF THE WEEK: DIXIE STAR N This mare didn't begin her racing career till this year at age four, starting with a couple races overseas in her native New Zealand at the tail end of winter. When Dixie Star N arrived in the United States for trainer Peter Tritton, she was a beaten favorite in her first start at Yonkers. But coming to Pocono seems to have unlocked her potential. She carved out a win and two places in three starts with the non-winners of four fillies and mares in the months of June and July. On Sunday night, she was back at it against that same class, only this time she would have to deal with a #9 post. She also had to deal with Tequila Party, who was coming off an impressive victory in Canada in her last race and was made the 3-5 favorite. Dixie Star N went off at 18-1, but driver Jim Marohn Jr. made sure she was in the mix by sending her to the early lead. Tequila Party then swooped by to take over around the first turn, leaving Dixie Star N in the pocket. Tequila Party wasn't granted an easy lead, as Carousel pestered her first-over for much of the back stretch. The only question was whether or not Dixie Star N would have a second move in her after exerting effort early in the mile. She answered that question with a resounding yes, thundering past the tiring Tequila Party to pick up the win by a half-length in 1:53. Not only was it impressive because of the difficult post and the long odds, but the win also stands out for this rising mare as a new career-best time. Other top pacers this week include: Western Joe (Pat Berry, Christopher Choate), who captured the featured condition pace on Saturday night in 1:49:2; Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who went down the road for a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Sidewalk Dancer (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who delivered a win in Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in 1:51.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARCH CREDIT The old "fool me once, fool me twice" credo can be applied to this five-year-old gelding trained by Robin DiBenedetto. On July 15, he rallied with Kyle DiBenedetto in the bike to beat an $11,000 condition trotting field at monster odds of 46-1. He was back at it again just five nights later on Saturday, trying to pick up his second victory in the span of a week. Arch Credit left from the #1 post in a field of seven seeking another conquest of the $11,000 condition trotters. And, once again, he was overlooked at the betting window, although this time he was a more modest long shot at 11-1. The favorite in this race was P L Icabod, who went off at 6-5. Meanwhile, second choice Dirty Secret found the pocket seat. Arch Credit, meanwhile, sat third-in. As anyone who has ever watched harness racing on a 5/8-mile oval knows, that trip can either be very, very good or very, very bad, depending on how the outer flow develops and how the inside horses in front hang together. In this case, it couldn't have worked out any better for Arch Credit. He managed to squeeze through a small window on the inside passing lane and rallied under DiBenedetto's urging. As the line approached, he was just able to nose out P L Icabod for the victory in 1:55. After two straight wins at double-digit odds, it's doubtful that Arch Credit will get to fool the bettors a third time. But if he does, you know, based on these past two victories, he'll relish the opportunity. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Say You Do (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who came into Pocono on a four-race winning streak and added to it by winning the Sunday night featured condition trot in 1:52:2; Max (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who churned out his second straight condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54; and Alpha D'urzy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved to two-for-two since arriving from Saratoga with a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:54:3.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GRAPPLE HANOVER This gelding driven by Wayne Long overcame a #9 post and a sloppy track to beat a condition trotting field on Monday afternoon at 28-1, paying off $59.20 on a $2-win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS The veteran driver has been picking up the pace in recent weeks at Pocono, and he starred on Monday with a driving double in the sloppy conditions.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ERV MILLER Miller was able to train back-to-back winners on the Monday card, with both of the trotters involved, Flippen Creek and Grandma Heidi, getting their maiden victories.   That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia

Vernon Downs.jpg

Freshman pacing males to race in NYSS

Vernon Downs welcomes two harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Thursday (July 25). Both divisions race for a purse of $54,000. Berkery J (Jason Bartlett) is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the first division. The 2-year-old colt by Chapter Seven-Southwind Catlin is owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by George Ducharme. He has one win in three starts in his career. He won a NYSS race at Yonkers. The second choice at 3-1 is the entry of Barn Holden (Kevin Cummings) and Bluffinner (Trond Smedshammer). Barn Holden is a 2-year-old colt by Conway Hall-Barn Babe. He is owned the Purple Haze Stables, Out In the Country Stable, Nancy Pratt, and trainer Steven Pratt. He got his only career victory in a leg of the NYSS at Yonkers. Bluffinner is a 2-year cold by Credit Winner-Bluff. He is owned by the Purple Haze Stables and trained by Smedshammer. It will be his first career race. The Ake Svanstedt trained entry of Third Shift (Jim Morrill Jr.) and R Herbie Blue Chip (Svanstedt) is the 2-1 morning line choice in the second division. Third Shift is a 2-year-old colt by Chapter Seven-Overnight Command, who is owned by Melby Gard Inc. He has a NYSS win at Tioga Downs. R Herbie Blue Chip is a 2-year-old colt by Here Comes Herbie-New Hampshire Girl. He is owned by Svanstedt, Blue Chip Bloodstock, and Herbert Burns III. The colt finished third his last time out. Bourbon Express (Jason Bartlett) is the second choice at 3-1. He is owned by trainer Jessica Okusko, Slavatore Vullo, and James De Armond. The 2-year-old colt by RC Royalty-Kasha has two wins in three career starts including a NYSS win at Buffalo. The 10 race card at Vernon Downs starts at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, July 23, 2019 -- Sansovina Hanover stalked Caviart Scarlett from the pocket, then edged by her in the Lightning Lane to capture Tuesday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, an $11,500 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace. Caviart Scarlett won the early battle for the lead, accelerating through a 26.4 opening quarter that forced Sansovina Hanover and Jim Pantaleano to the pocket. But the 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Shacked Up was the stronger mare late, downing Caviart Scarlett by a head in 1:52, matching her career fastest. Our GG rallied for show. Doug Snyder trains Sansovina Hanover, who lifted her career bankroll to $264,469, for Frank Poerio, Jr. It was one of six wins for Pantaleano on the 13-race card, including a pair for trainer Scott Betts and one each for Corey Kreiser, Christen Pantaleano Bill Popio and Snyder Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, when the program features a $5,370.08 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Northfield, OH -- Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $50,000 20¢ Super High Five total pool guarantee to its harness racing card on Wednesday (July 24). Offered in race 13, the $50,000 Super High Five guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $14,916. The evening's ninth race begins the 20¢ Northfield Single Six (a unique combination Pick 6) with a carryover that has grown to $31,168. Northfield's Pick-5, Pick-4s, Pick-3s, 20¢ Super High Five and 20¢ Northfield Single Six offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent. Wednesday's post time is 6 p.m.   Ayers Ratliff

HARRINGTON, Del. - Harrington Raceway's richest harness racing program of the season will commence Thursday (July 25) as part of the annual Governor's Day program during the Delaware State Fair. A 10-race card with nearly $600,000 in total purses will start at 7 p.m. Four Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund $100,000 finals for 3-year-olds will accompany popular annual events for older horses such as the $40,000 Governor's Cup, $30,000 Legislator's Cup, $30,000 Charles Murphy Memorial Trot and $20,000 President's Cup among others. A special addition for this year's Governor's Day program will be the presence of two of Delaware's most notable Standardbreds, both of which are stabled in Harrington. Shartin N, the 2018 Dan Patch winner for Pacing Mare of the Year and current number one ranked horse in all of North America, as well as Lather Up, who earlier this month equaled harness racing's fastest mile of all-time of 1:46, will both be on-track to lead a post parade. The two pacers have garnered national attention and are even listed among Harrington's famous residents on the Wikipedia listing for the town. Shartin N will lead the third race Governor's Cup field, while Lather Up will lead the fourth race Legislator's Cup group. The female pacers will kick off the program in the first race on the card, and first of the DSBF finals. A competitive group will go post ward that includes a powerful Jason Skinner-trained duo of Biggiessecondshot (4/1, Ross Wolfenden) and In And Out Again (5/2, Tim Tetrick). In And Out Again, a Roddy's Bags Again filly owned by Jason and Tim Skinner, swept her eliminations and won the earlier season final at Dover Downs. A daughter of No Spin Zone, Biggiessecondshot is owned by Joan Dalphon, Elanor Laws and the trainer. The filly trotting final is slated sixth on the card, as Carol Jamieson-Parker's Dark Dutchess (9/5, Jack Parker Jr.), a daughter of He's Spooky, will vie for a sweep after winning both of her eliminations impressively. Rod Allen's Disco Soliel (5/2, Allen), a CR Commando filly, won the final at Dover Downs and looks to thwart Dark Dutchess' bid. The male pacing final is the 8th race, Mst Racing Inc.'s Goldberg (9/5, Montrell Teague) will vie for a sweep of both 3-year-old finals after prevailing at Dover. The Mr. Wiggles colt won his June 10 elimination by 11 lengths. The male trotting final will follow as Andrew Glassmeyer's Embrace The Grind (8/5, Jon Roberts) bids for a third straight win. The Keystone Activator gelding swept the eliminations and final at Dover Downs. The Governor's Cup, programmed as race three, spearheads the races for older horses as Jo Ann Looney King's Q's Cruise (9/5, Tetrick) was installed as the morning line favorite. The Honorable Governor John Carney is expected to be on hand to present the trophy to the winning connections for the popular annual event with local bragging rights at stake. Legacy Racing and Reggie Hazzard's Sicily (2/1, Kirby) recently surpassed $500,000 in career earnings and figures to have a strong presence in the race among the contentious field. A formidable group will battle in the 4th race Legislator's Cup for pacing mares, familiar rivals like Vince Copeland's Goin Again (7/2, Copeland), Bonnie Benson, John Johannsen, Andrew Stafford and Holly Case's Artrageous (3/1, Art Stafford Jr.) and Legacy Racing, Nanticoke Racing, Reggie Hazzard and Gary Calloway's Delishka N (4/1, Allan Davis) among the field of eight. The featured event for older trotters if the Charles Murphy Jr. Memorial, the seventh race. Victor Kirby's Jammin Jack (2/1, Kirby) will look to make his state fair debut a winning one after a banner 2019 campaign in which he has been in the top three in 16 of 20 starts. Matthew Sparacino

WASHINGTON, PA, July 23, 2019 -- Elimination winner Southwind Ozzi has been installed as the 2-1 morning line harness racing favorite and will leave from post 4 in Saturday's $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows.   The other elimination winners, Captain Victorious (3-1) and Prince Of Tides (4-1), will start from posts 3 and 1, respectively.   Elimination winners chose their post positions, with their order of selection determined by lot. The connections of Southwind Ozzi chose first, followed by the teams of Captain Victorious and Prince Of Tides. The remaining post positions were determined by random draw.   The 53rd edition of the Adios anchors a blockbuster card that features six Grand Circuit stakes as well as the $50,000 Foiled Again Invitational Pace. Foiled Again, who retired as the richest Standardbred all time with more than $7.6 million in earnings, will lead the post parades for the Adios and the Invitational. The program also includes three total-pool guarantees with a combined value of $37,500.   The Adios Day card begins at 11:25 AM, with the Adios slated as race 15 on the 16-race program.   The field for the Adios, with sires, drivers, trainers and morning line odds:   1. Prince Of Tides - Somebeachsomewhere - Dave Palone - Ross Croghan 4-1 2. Stag Party - Bettor's Delight - Dexter Dunn - Casie Coleman 6-1 3. Captain Victorious - Captaintreacherous - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke 3-1 4. Southwind Ozzi - Somebeachsomewhere - Brian Sears - Bill MacKenzie 2-1 5. Wild Wild Western - Western Ideal - Mike Wilder - Norm Parker 20-1 6. Escapetothebeach - Somebeachsomewhere - Tim Tetrick - Tony Alagna 10-1 7. Reigning Deo - Rock N Roll Heaven - Andrew McCarthy - Brett Pelling 12-1 8. Branquinho - Somebeachsomewhere - Tyler Buter - Ray Schnittker 12-1 9.Quatrain Blue Chip - Somebeachsomewhere - Dave Palone -Chris Oakes 20-1   By Evan Pattak for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

East Rutherford, NJ - The penultimate card of The Meadowlands Championship Meet comes up this weekend with harness racing on Friday and Saturday, post time each night is 7:15.   Friday's features are the elimination races for the Championship stakes for the freshman trotting fillies and colts, the Jim Doherty and Peter Haughton Memorials. Those rich finals will be part of the August 3 Hambletonian card.   Twenty four fillies were declared for the Doherty, requiring three eight-filly $20,000 elimination races with the top ten returning for the $350,000e final.   The Haughton drew seventeen precocious males which will split into a pair of $20,000 eliminations toward next week's $425,000e final.   Also on the bill for the weekend, racing on the Saturday card, are the Hambletonian Oaks eliminations which will see nineteen 3-year-old filly trotters battling for the ten berths available in the $500,000 final.   The WN Reynolds stake for 3-year-old males is the very last prep for the upcoming Hambletonian and a dozen have entered the fray for that contest.   Last, but certainly not least, is the $60,000 final for the Golden Receiver FFA pace.   All of the pertinent information, the who's and the what's will be posted on the Meadowlands website when the draw is complete later this afternoon.      

Hightstown, NJ — Only two horses in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown top 10 were in action last week, which resulted in little movement at the top of the harness racing rankings. Gimpanzee, who won a division of the New York Sire Stakes to remain unbeaten in 12 career races, improved his position from eighth to seventh in the poll. Western Fame, who finished fifth in the Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial, dropped from the top 10. Millie’s Possesion, who was idle but is undefeated in seven starts, moved into the No. 10 spot. Shartin N remained No. 1, with 33 of 35 first-place votes. She was followed by Atlanta, Greenshoe, Lather Up, and Bettor’s Wish in the top five. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, which runs weekly through November, does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 9 – 7/23/2019 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Shartin N (33) 6pm 11-10-0-0 $605,765 347 1 2 Atlanta (1) 4tm 7-6-1-0 $438,330 288 2 3 Greenshoe (1) 3tc 5-4-1-0 $326,500 282 3 4 Lather Up 4ph 9-6-0-1 $411,405 241 4 5 Bettor’s Wish 3pc 7-5-2-0 $554,630 165 T5 6 Captain Crunch 3pc 6-4-0-0 $511,574 163 T5 7 Gimpanzee 3tc 3-3-0-0 $161,688 94 8 8 Hannelore Hanover 7tm 5-3-0-0 $79,282 79 7 9 Best In Show 3pc 9-3-3-2 $444,440 43 9 10 Millie’s Possesion  3tf 7-7-0-0 $170,517 35 — Also: Western Fame 33; McWicked 25; Stonebridge Soul 24; Evident Beauty 11; None Bettor A 9; Shake That House 8; Caviart Ally, Rich And Miserable, Six Pack 7; Green Manalishi S, Pilot Discretion 6; This Is The Plan, Warrawee Ubeaut 5; Bettor Joy N, Crystal Fashion, Tequila Monday 4; JK First Lady, Marseille, Sister Sledge, Workin Ona Mystery 3; Boadicea, Jimmy Freight, Mr Vicktor, Treacherous Reign 2; Courtly Choice, Nine Ways, Southwind Ozzi 1. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Trenton, NJ — Harness racing driver Kiara Morgan’s biggest problem wasn’t winning her first race, but what to do after she won. “I pulled around and I was like ‘I don’t even know what to do. Where’s the winner’s circle? Where do I go?’ Morgan said. “So, I finally pulled around and got our picture and it was cool. I was happy.” This all occurred July 17 at the Washington Court House Fair in Ohio, when the daughter of renowned trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. drove Action Metro Max to victory. It was only her third start and she had taken second in her first two. It didn’t take long to get her second win, which came later in the day with Tail Gunner Hall. Morgan wasn’t too surprised at winning the second, but taking first with Action Metro Max was a bit unexpected. “Max was a little bit lazier and you have to get after him,” she said. “The second one, he’s just a little bit classier of a horse. He’s older too but he wants to race, whereas Metro Max is more of a surprise. But Tail Gunner is really good.” Which might say something about Morgan’s driving skills in that she brought Actin Metro Max from behind and got him to win easily. “He’s 9, so as you would imagine he’s pretty laid back, he’s not going to do anything more than he has to,” Kiara noted. “He wasn’t real quick off the gate. I got away fourth or fifth, it wasn’t a big field and I was pretty far back there. “A little bit after the half, someone right in front of me kind of pulled out to pull up a little bit. I was pulling out at the same exact time. They pulled back in and I went around him. I had qualified that horse at Scioto, I really think after he realized it was a half-mile track instead of a mile, he liked it. He literally just took off. After I pulled him he just said ‘Hey wait a minute’ and he just took off.” From there, Morgan could smell the victory. “I got up next to the person leading,” she said. “I kind of grabbed him up a little, by that time we were almost up to the three-quarter pole and I just let it go. He was real good. After I pulled away, he was just cruising. I was kind of grabbing him up a little because I don’t really like to win by that much, I don’t like to blow him out more than I have to. I remember I got done I was kind of like ‘I didn’t mean to win by that much, but I didn’t want to walk him either.’ I just kind of grabbed him up and let him go at a comfortable pace and he was ahead by quite a bit.” And just like that, the newbie was the winner. It was 20-year-old Kiara Morgans’s first driving win as she took a condition pace with Ken Sommer’s 9-year-old gelding by Metropolitan Action Metro Max in 2:01h for her dad, trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. Our RWTS winner Bill Holley of WCH joined them for the photo. Ohio Harness Horseman Association Photo “Before last year I’d been in a jog cart a handful of times growing up helping my dad,” she said. “Other than that, it’s all really new to me. So, it all happened quick.” It was an eventful day for the 20-year-old, who only began working with dad in December. Virgil Morgan Jr. is No. 2 in training history with 6,411 wins, trailing only Ron Burke. He is No. 8 in purses with $56 million. Despite Virgil’s success and notoriety in Ohio, Kiara wasn’t immediately sold on the harness racing game. But she got her first horse at age 7. “I always had a huge passion,” she said. “I’d ridden and shown horses my whole life, so I’ve always been around them, but I’ve always been riding and showing them and going to all kind of shows and stuff. I would come out maybe in the summer, my dad would jog with me and my brother (Trey). His training center is 12 minutes from the house and I’d maybe been there a handful of times.” By last November, however, she began to feel the urge to see what harness racing was all about. Virgil was reluctant at first but when he got a few more horses he relented in December. “I just started jogging, gradually he would put me on the training sheets,” Kiara said. “Every day I got more experience. It happened really quick. The reason I decided to try to get my license was we had heard about the (Ladies Driving Series); I thought that would be cool with all girls. I qualified a few and now I’m doing the lady pace thing. That’s where that all started.” Once again, Morgan was back in the world of racing. Only this time, someone else was doing the running. As a student at Grove City High School, Kiara was a standout on a formidable track and field team that was Southwest Ohio’s top team during her time there. She ran the 100, 200 and 400 and had success, but is modest about it. “I’m not going to say too much about that,” she said. “I won some races, but I don’t remember the specifics.” Kiara just knew she was having fun, because she was competing. “I’ve always loved to race,” she said. “I remember being a little kid, we’d get all the neighborhood kids together, and my dad would literally have a race around the house. Ever since I was little I liked to race. Track became a big part of my life in high school.” Upon graduation she attended Columbus State College and this summer she transferred to Fortis College in order to study radiology. While she would love to make a career of harness racing, Virgil has made her understand she needs something to fall back on just in case. But rest assured, racing is in her blood at the moment. When asked to equate the thrill of running a 400-meter event or driving a horse on a fairgrounds track, Kiara said there’s no comparison. She came to that realization after her Ladies Driving Series debut race at the Wilmington (Clinton County) Fair on July 9. “When I got off the track from my first race, I didn’t win, I got beat by a neck,” she said. “Those girls are extremely competitive. I remember I got off the track and I was so happy. It’s like a high you don’t get from anything else. I was parked the whole mile and I still came out and I was smiling from ear to ear. It’s a feeling like really no other I ever felt before. You’re controlling an animal, you’ve got to make decisions in split seconds and stuff. It’s really a different feeling.” As much as she loves it, Morgan knows she has to get that college degree in order to have security. “I’m going to be honest, I don’t really like school and I have to force myself to do it,” she said. “I thought about not doing it before and just trying to do the horses. But school’s really important to my dad so I always have a safety net. It takes a lot to be extremely successful with the horses, I want to have a fallback, a definite career income. “But racing pulls my heart a lot. Everyone’s always like “Aww you’ll find something that you want to do, what you love.’ I tell them ‘I know exactly what I want to do!’ I’ve known this all while I was growing up, but it’s just the fact you never really know how successful you’re going to be. I don’t want to jump into horses and end up having nothing.” So instead of diving into the pool, she is wading into it slowly. Her mindset is that she will see where driving takes her, but always have an alternate plan. In the meantime, Morgan has one of the best tutors a girl can find in her father. “Oh gosh, everything I know, it all comes from him,” she said. “He says every time I go on the track just learn something new. Obviously I’m going to make a lot of mistakes. He says every time you’re out there, learn from my mistakes, learn something new especially. Me and my brother claimed one ourselves, I’m learning all about what to do to help the horse itself. He’s always telling me to watch the grooms and ask questions. We have the greatest help in the world, they’ve all made an impact on me and are teaching me new things.” And while Virgil is a little cautious about throwing his girl right into the fire, that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying her early successes in the sulky. “It’s funny, after my first win somebody said ‘How many pictures are you going to get,’” Kiara said. “My dad never gets pictures of himself, but he got four win pictures that day just to make sure everybody had one.” Thank goodness she found out where to go. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

JACKSON, MI – Jackson County Fair Manager Denise Owens has heard the rumors: Skeptics don't believe the fairgrounds will be ready to host the fair Aug. 4-10. But Owens is confident that the Jackson County Fairgrounds/Keeley Park will be ready, albeit without some of the  finishing touches like landscaping. Construction crews have been busy this summer making the redesigned fairgrounds a reality. Changes for 2019 include removal of part of the harness-racing track and new spots for the midway and parking.  Construction of the new events center is underway, but it won't open until 2020. "It's going to happen," Owens said. "I had a guy call me yesterday and bet me $10 it wasn't going to happen. I said, 'Well you just march down here, right now, and give me that $10, because it's going to happen.'" Rumors that the fair might move to Michigan International Speedway aren't true, Owens said – not only because the fairgrounds will be ready, but also because MIS is hosting a race the same week.  "We are doing everything we can to make this the best experience – knowing that you're going to see a little dirt in a few places," Owens said. "Just the convenience of the layout is tremendous." Here's a look at the progress of the construction and a guide to where everything will be setup for the fair. Courtesy of Jackson County   An overview This rendering from Jackson County shows the final plan for the fairgrounds, including new parking lots and new park space.  While this will be the look for the 2020 fair, a few components aren't quite finished for August's fair, Owens said. Courtesy of Jackson County   A new midway Instead of on the south end of the property, the new midway is shaped like an upside-down U in the infield of the former harness-racing track.  In past years, this was where visitors would park. Crews are working on growing grass in this area. "We're out there watering like crazy," Owens said. "I think you will see grass, it won't look really thick and full, but people will identify it as grass."   J. Scott Park | MLive.com     J. Scott Park | MLive.com   Where to park General parking for the fair is at the old prison site on North Street, which was Michigan's first state prison from 1838 to 1934. Jackson County bought the property earlier this year for $175,000 and plans to shuttle people west on North Street to the north fair entrance.  Parking is $5, like always, but the shuttle ride is free. The shuttle stops running each night at 11 p.m., Owens said.  The area can hold more than 1,000 cars, and is larger than the infield parking space from previous years.   J. Scott Park | MLive.com   County officials have wanted to move parking from the interior of the fair to the exterior for years, partly for safety reasons. It's much easier to search a person, than to search someone's whole vehicle, officials said when vying for the change. "There's very few fairs anymore that allow people to drive into the center of the fair," Owens said. "There's a lot of reasons that needs to be thought out." J. Scott Park | MLive.com   Other parking, food vendors There are new parking lots on the south side of the property, but they aren't for general admission fairgoers.  The parking lot on the southwest corner is the handicap lot, with a new entrance off Ganson Street. The lots just south of the midway will be used for vendors and vendor parking. The county owns a lot on Blackstone Street that's traditionally been used for parking, but it will be used for vendor camping space this year. Homeowners on streets surrounding the fair often allow parking on their property for a fee, as do some businesses along Ganson Street.   Walk-up ticket sales For 2019, walk-up admission is staying where it's been along Ganson Street, Owens said. Starting next year, walk-up tickets will be sold in the new American 1 Events Center. J. Scott Park | MLive.com   The new building Construction continues on the new American 1 Events Center, and will continue throughout fair week.  However, concrete pouring will be delayed until the week after the fair, due to the disruption it would cause, Owens said. It will be roped off during the fair, so attendees won't be able to take a look inside.     Courtesy of Jackson County   The $6.4 million building is on schedule, Owens said, with plans to open in March 2020. The event center is 35,000 square feet, including a 20,000-square-foot event space, a public meeting room, a concourse, a catering kitchen and office space.   Courtesy of Jackson County   The picnic area between the new American 1 Events Center and the Herman Gumper also won't open until 2020.   J. Scott Park | MLive.com   Grandstand While part of the track has been torn out, the grandstand isn't going anywhere. With recent changes, the structure built in 1920 is easier to see from anywhere in the area.  Temporary fencing will go up during the fair to block it from view of fairgoers – although concert attendees will see the midway in the backdrop of the concert stage.   Temporary movie screen The county parks department recently purchased a large, blow-up movie screen, which will be utilized at the fair this year. The screen will be set up north of the midway area, and "Charlotte's Web" will play at dusk on Thursday night, Owens said. One of the vendors plans to hand out free popcorn during the movie, she said.   J. Scott Park | MLive.com   The old American 1 Events Center Vendor booths are available under the grandstands and inside the old American 1 Events Center, like in previous years. A new walkway has been constructed to connect the midway with the building.   The free act This year's free act at the fair is called K9s in Flight, with dogs doing tricks like catching flying discs and leaping into pools. The free act will be stationed just south of the grandstand area.   J. Scott Park | MLive.com   The beer tent The beer tent is back in 2019, being set up just south of the track and stage area. It opens at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 5 through Friday, Aug. 9.  This area will become a parking lot in the future, but won't be paved in time for this year's fair. Millings will be put down as a sturdy, temporary surface. Courtesy of Jackson County   Video renderings To see a video walkthrough of renderings, with what the fairgrounds are designed to look like, click here. Courtesy of Jackson County   Courtesy of Jackson County     J. Scott Park | MLive.com   For more photos of the construction progress at the fairgrounds, click here. By Taylor DesOrmeau | tdesorme@mlive.com Reprinted with permission of Expo.Mlive.com

The Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Association is proud to announce the launch of their new harness racing website.    The adaptive and responsive internet platform will allow harness horse people to easily access information about the upcoming annual Ohio Selected Jug Sale, which is slated for Friday, September 13, 2019 at the Brave Horse Equestrian Center in Johnstown, Ohio.   This year's sale will feature over 200 yearlings by Ohio sires Pet Rock, Cash Hall, Uncle Peter, Racing Hill, Triumphant Caviar, Rockin Amadeus, Western Vintage, My MVP, Big Bad John, McArdle and many more.   Ohio Breeders president Randy Haines noted, "We are excited to bring this new level of information access to the breeders, owners and trainers in Ohio. Since everyone these days has their phone in their hands...we want people to find our sale yearlings at the touch of a button!"   For decades, the Ohio Select sale has been the first stop for owners and trainers to acquire top State-bred harness racing performers. This year will be no exception as the Ohio Select sale has sold hundreds of Ohio Sire Stakes winners and dozens of Super Night Champions.   Current standouts include, but are not limited to: ROSEMARY ROSE p,1:50.3f--'19 ($496,867); QUEEN OF THE PRIDE p,2,1:52.4f, 3,1:51.1f--'19 ($460,479); ROSE RUN SYDNEY 4,1:54.1h ($554,643); FRASER RIDGE 4,1:52.1f ($522,479); World Champion ROCK CANDY p,3,1:50.2f--'19 ($305,626); PURE CHANCE p,3,1:54.2h--'19 ($148,896); BIG BOX HANOVER 2,1:57.4f--'19 and ELVER HANOVER p,2,1:53.3h--'19, etc.   The website includes directions and maps to the Brave Horse Center auction site and links to area hotels are posted along with an archive of sales results from previous years. In addition to the sales roster, yearling video links and a PDF digital catalog will be linked for on-line viewing, when they become available.   A social media, facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OhioHHBreeders/ is also up and running, which will feature current and former Ohio Sire Stakes winners and performers, as well as news, links and updates from farms and consignors.   The Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Association is a cooperative of Buckeye State equine nurseries dedicated to the promotion and growth of Ohio Standardbreds, and include: Abby Stables, LTD., Cool Winds Farm, Dublin Valley Farms, Hickory Lane Horse Farm, LMN Bred Stables, Inc., Midland Acres, Inc., Rose Run Farm, Spring Haven Farm, Steiner Stock Farm, Sugar Valley Farm and Winterwood Farm.   For additional information, contact Laura Nault at Ohio Harness Horse Breeders, 17605 Clarks Run Rd., Mount Sterling, OH 43143. Email: LJNault@gmail.com. By Chris Tully for the Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Assoc.

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs will celebrate their opening night of the 2019 live harness racing season on Wednesday (July 24) by welcoming the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) as they make their first of nine stops at the Genesee County oval this year. The initial visit will bring two divisions of 2-year-old trotting fillies along who will compete for identical $53,000 purses. The first split that's carded as race five features the undefeated Love A Good Story (Chapter Seven-Celebrity Lovin) who is listed as the 6-5 morning choice from post six for Team Orange Crush: Andy and Julie Miller. This filly has already taken a lifetime mark of 1:55.1 at Tioga Downs in her second career start and has won all three of all her races by open lengths. She is the top pointgetter in her bracket and has $52,600 made this year. Love A Good Story will look to add the winners share of this race to her total as well. Per Engblom's Munster (Chapter Seven-Richesse Oblige) is coming off a sparkling effort of her own at Yonkers where she went gate to wire in a career best 1:57.4. That was her first time on a half mile track and the result bodes well for her prospects at the Downs. Jordan Stratton will be at the controls from post two at 2-1. The second division in race six has a pair or performers from from the Ake Svandstedt Stable that were made morning line choice at 2-1 by the track handicapper, as a stable entry. Seventimesalady (Chapter Seven-Ava Marion) and Destiny Blue Chip (Chapter Seven-Chasin Clouds Away) will leave from post one and post seven respectively. Seventimesalady is winless in two starts but not for lack of performance. She chased Love A Good Story in a fast 1:55.1 at Tioga to finish second in her first lifetime start and then got parked out for a majority of the mile from post seven at Yonkers last week before finishing third. She will be looking to get a good trip from the pylons with her trainer Svandstedt in the bike. Destiny Blue Chip is also winless in two starts but has put in two solid races trotting close to the leaders, garnering a couple of thirds for her work. Unfortunately she moves out in post from those starts but does pick up driver Jim Morrill Jr. this week who will be an asset to her as he knows the track at Batavia well. Another ready candidate is Really Blue Chip (Credit Winner-Muscles Secret) who has shown she likes a half -mile track. She sat a pocket trip behind Hypnotic AM at Yonkers last week and finished second in a 1:56.1 time, trotting her mile in 1:57.2. And she does have a win in the NYSS already this in her first lifetime start at Buffalo. She is in a perfect spot here to take that next step for trainer Scott Di Domenico. Really Blue Chip leaves from post five for driver Jordan Stratton. There are also three $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior "A" series in races three, four and seven and two $6,700 Excelsior "B" series events in races eight and nine. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Fowlerville, MI -- On Monday, July 22 there was a five-horse Billings Trot at the Fowlerville Family Fair in Michigan posted as the last race on a lengthy harness racing card that featured Michigan-bred colts and fillies and being not far from his home, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford not only participated but he came away with yet another driving victory when he guided Blasco to a gate to wire triumph in a 2:05 clocking over National Forces, driven by Jerry "the Jet" Mihelich. When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded Oldford sent Blasco to the front and they led the others by the first quarter in a soft 33 seconds. However, Steve picked up the pace when "Fast Freddie: Davis came calling on the outside and the trotted by the half in 1:04. Up the backside the two leaders were still heads apart until Blasco rebuffed the challenge and went on to a one length victory. Sitting a two-hole journey paid dividends for Mihelich as his Natural Forces rambled home for second money. Third place went to Stirling Boudica driven by "Michigan Miriah" Wright. The race winner, Blasco, is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Oldford. Oldford, whose quickly becoming the face of amateur racing, owns many standardbreds employs many trainers and will travel almost anywhere to drive spirited steed. But in recent years he's become a member of multiple amateur racing organizations. Currently the vice president of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series Steve was recently awarded the Harness Racing Museum's Amateur Driver if the Year Award. It was the sixth time Oldford has received that honor.. A few seasons ago Oldford was named National Amateur Driver of the Year and now with 11 wins, four seconds, nine thirds and a .416 UDR he's got a good chance at yet another national driving award this season. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

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WILKES-BARRE PA - A pair of Cantab Hall geldings handled by George Napolitano Jr., the leading harness racing driver at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, took lifetime marks in winning the $15,000 featured trots during the Tuesday twilight card. The faster of the two was the sophomore Nextroundsonme, who won in 1:54.3 for Napolitano, trainer Jenny Melander, and Belmar Racing & Breeding LLC. "George Nap" and Nextroundsonme made the lead early then yielded to sit in the pocket behind Bag O Chips, then went to the Pocono Pike and gained in a :28.3 last quarter to win by a neck over the closing P L Ketchup, with pacesetting Bag O Chips a head behind the place horse and favored Smokee Mirrors squeezing between horses late to miss the victory by only a half a length though fourth. As tight as that finish was, Final Dream's 1:55 victory in the other division was just as decisive, as she made the top, got a second quarter breather, then outmuscled the competition in winning by 3¼ lengths. After being on the board in over half his seasonal starts, Final Dream finally broke into the 2019 victory column for trainer Carmine Fusco and owner Howard Jacobs. George Napolitano Jr. completed a sweep of the featured races when he directed the A Rocknroll Dance mare Sidewalk Dancer to a 1:51 victory in a $14,000 conditioned pace for distaffs. The winner was on the move off the first turn to grab the top before the next bend, kept up a fast pace, then kept pocket rocket hopeful Keystone Riptide at bay by a neck. Chris Oakes conditions the winner of $245,109 for Northfork Racing Stable, Omar Beiler, and Dennis Coons.   PHHA / Pocono
Painesville, OH- Harness racing action kicked off at the Lake County Fair in Painesville, Ohio Tuesday with nine races, five of which were won by driver Kurt Sugg. His wins included the $3,500 Forest "Pappy" Cone Memorial, a Signature Series Trot, and the richest event of the day, the $10,100 three-year-old filly trot. Earlier this month, Sugg went over the 4,000 career win mark. In the Cone Memorial, Sugg steered his trainee Star Chip, owned by Rebecca Sugg, to an easy 2:02 win, her eighth of the year. The eight-year-old gelded son of Chip Chip Hooray- Star Sneakers has now banked just under $340,000 in his career. It was his second Signature Series win of the year. Riverdancing Diva was second and Rockinthepines finished third. In the sophomore filly trot, trainer Marty Wollam called on Sugg to drive Ladycallstheshots, a daughter of Uncle Peter from the SJ's Caviar mare Caviar For The Lady. She cruised to a 2:04.2 win, her first this year. She is owned and was bred by Acadia Farms of Canfield, Ohio. D J Miracle finished second, with And Up We Go taking home show money. Sugg also easily took the opener for two-year-old pacing fillies with Pat Holden's Miss Tressa, who was an impressive 2:01.3 winner for trainer Wollam. He also won the second division of the freshman filly pace, this time piloting Don Hoovler, Jeery Sommers and Mike Medors' Yankee Cruiser filly Medoland Carmen to a 2:04.3 win. To wrap things up, in the nightcap, Sugg won the maiden trot in 2:07with two-year-old trotting gelding K J Chuck. Scott Woogen owns the winner who is trained by Steve Cross.   Keith Gisser for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association
It was a week of extremes in terms of the weather for harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. On Saturday night, action was delayed due to the intense heat. On Monday, torrential rains caused a delay. But all 56 races scheduled for the four racing cards were eventually run, and, despite the somewhat erratic conditions, the action was excellent throughout. The outstanding efforts put forward by the winners of our Weekly Awards is proof of that. PACER OF THE WEEK: DIXIE STAR N This mare didn't begin her racing career till this year at age four, starting with a couple races overseas in her native New Zealand at the tail end of winter. When Dixie Star N arrived in the United States for trainer Peter Tritton, she was a beaten favorite in her first start at Yonkers. But coming to Pocono seems to have unlocked her potential. She carved out a win and two places in three starts with the non-winners of four fillies and mares in the months of June and July. On Sunday night, she was back at it against that same class, only this time she would have to deal with a #9 post. She also had to deal with Tequila Party, who was coming off an impressive victory in Canada in her last race and was made the 3-5 favorite. Dixie Star N went off at 18-1, but driver Jim Marohn Jr. made sure she was in the mix by sending her to the early lead. Tequila Party then swooped by to take over around the first turn, leaving Dixie Star N in the pocket. Tequila Party wasn't granted an easy lead, as Carousel pestered her first-over for much of the back stretch. The only question was whether or not Dixie Star N would have a second move in her after exerting effort early in the mile. She answered that question with a resounding yes, thundering past the tiring Tequila Party to pick up the win by a half-length in 1:53. Not only was it impressive because of the difficult post and the long odds, but the win also stands out for this rising mare as a new career-best time. Other top pacers this week include: Western Joe (Pat Berry, Christopher Choate), who captured the featured condition pace on Saturday night in 1:49:2; Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who went down the road for a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Sidewalk Dancer (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who delivered a win in Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in 1:51.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARCH CREDIT The old "fool me once, fool me twice" credo can be applied to this five-year-old gelding trained by Robin DiBenedetto. On July 15, he rallied with Kyle DiBenedetto in the bike to beat an $11,000 condition trotting field at monster odds of 46-1. He was back at it again just five nights later on Saturday, trying to pick up his second victory in the span of a week. Arch Credit left from the #1 post in a field of seven seeking another conquest of the $11,000 condition trotters. And, once again, he was overlooked at the betting window, although this time he was a more modest long shot at 11-1. The favorite in this race was P L Icabod, who went off at 6-5. Meanwhile, second choice Dirty Secret found the pocket seat. Arch Credit, meanwhile, sat third-in. As anyone who has ever watched harness racing on a 5/8-mile oval knows, that trip can either be very, very good or very, very bad, depending on how the outer flow develops and how the inside horses in front hang together. In this case, it couldn't have worked out any better for Arch Credit. He managed to squeeze through a small window on the inside passing lane and rallied under DiBenedetto's urging. As the line approached, he was just able to nose out P L Icabod for the victory in 1:55. After two straight wins at double-digit odds, it's doubtful that Arch Credit will get to fool the bettors a third time. But if he does, you know, based on these past two victories, he'll relish the opportunity. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Say You Do (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who came into Pocono on a four-race winning streak and added to it by winning the Sunday night featured condition trot in 1:52:2; Max (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who churned out his second straight condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54; and Alpha D'urzy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved to two-for-two since arriving from Saratoga with a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:54:3.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GRAPPLE HANOVER This gelding driven by Wayne Long overcame a #9 post and a sloppy track to beat a condition trotting field on Monday afternoon at 28-1, paying off $59.20 on a $2-win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS The veteran driver has been picking up the pace in recent weeks at Pocono, and he starred on Monday with a driving double in the sloppy conditions.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ERV MILLER Miller was able to train back-to-back winners on the Monday card, with both of the trotters involved, Flippen Creek and Grandma Heidi, getting their maiden victories.   That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia
Vernon Downs welcomes two harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Thursday (July 25). Both divisions race for a purse of $54,000. Berkery J (Jason Bartlett) is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the first division. The 2-year-old colt by Chapter Seven-Southwind Catlin is owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by George Ducharme. He has one win in three starts in his career. He won a NYSS race at Yonkers. The second choice at 3-1 is the entry of Barn Holden (Kevin Cummings) and Bluffinner (Trond Smedshammer). Barn Holden is a 2-year-old colt by Conway Hall-Barn Babe. He is owned the Purple Haze Stables, Out In the Country Stable, Nancy Pratt, and trainer Steven Pratt. He got his only career victory in a leg of the NYSS at Yonkers. Bluffinner is a 2-year cold by Credit Winner-Bluff. He is owned by the Purple Haze Stables and trained by Smedshammer. It will be his first career race. The Ake Svanstedt trained entry of Third Shift (Jim Morrill Jr.) and R Herbie Blue Chip (Svanstedt) is the 2-1 morning line choice in the second division. Third Shift is a 2-year-old colt by Chapter Seven-Overnight Command, who is owned by Melby Gard Inc. He has a NYSS win at Tioga Downs. R Herbie Blue Chip is a 2-year-old colt by Here Comes Herbie-New Hampshire Girl. He is owned by Svanstedt, Blue Chip Bloodstock, and Herbert Burns III. The colt finished third his last time out. Bourbon Express (Jason Bartlett) is the second choice at 3-1. He is owned by trainer Jessica Okusko, Slavatore Vullo, and James De Armond. The 2-year-old colt by RC Royalty-Kasha has two wins in three career starts including a NYSS win at Buffalo. The 10 race card at Vernon Downs starts at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs
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