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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Talk about no respect. Machnhope, last seen winning the $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker at Yonkers Raceway on April 19, kept on rolling Friday night at The Meadowlands, taking the $30,000 harness racing featured Winners Over/Preferred Handicap for fillies and mares on the pace in wire-to-wire fashion despite going off as the fifth choice in the betting in the six-horse field. "I wasn't sure how to play it," said winning driver Andy McCarthy after being asked what was his thought process given how the extremely windy conditions favored speed all night long. "I didn't have a plan. I saw some of the horses to my inside weren't leaving, so I decided to step her off the gate." A Noel Daley trainee, Machnhope, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Hope For Life, was on the point out of the first turn and cut out fractions of :27.4, :55.4 and 1:23.1 on a night that saw eight winners lead from start to finish. A challenge came down the backside from Gia's Surreal, who won at The Big M on April 17, but Machnhope turned that one away off the far turn before sprinting clear of the field through the stretch on the way to a 2¾-length victory in 1:51.2. Sweet Lucy Lou rallied for second, with Major Occasion A, the 2-1 favorite, grabbing the show dough. MACHNHOPE REPLAY   "On a windy night like this," said McCarthy. "You have to follow the car out of posts five and six (Machnhope had the six) and let it break the wind for you. The Blue Chip was a tough series over there, but she's been terrific. She felt sharp tonight warming up. I figured she'd be good." Machnhope, in winning for the fifth time in her last seven starts, now has 31 victories from 105 career starts. Her bankroll stands at a gaudy $536,394 for owners Deo Volente Farms, T. Pontone, A Express Stables and Daley. She paid $12.20 to win after going to the gate at odds of 5-1. LONG LAYOFF, NO PROBLEM: With the COVID-19 shutdown continuing in Ontario, several drivers have moved their tacks temporarily to The Big M. One pilot, making his first appearance at the mile oval since 2016, was James MacDonald, who scored wire-to-wire in the first race with 3-5 favorite Majestic Virgin. Last weekend, two other Woodbine Mohawk Park regulars, Bob McClure and Doug McNair, recorded their first Meadowlands victories of the meeting. McNair added to his total by guiding a pair to victory lane Friday. FABULOUS FRIDAY: All-source wagering totaled $3,516,276, the biggest night of business at The Big M this year on a Friday. It marked the ninth consecutive card to see betting break the $3-million barrier. ... Favorites continue to score at a high rate, as over the last six race cards, 41 post-time choices have won the 78 races (53 percent). ... With a carryover of just under $10,000, the total pool in the 20-cent Pick-6 was $56,611. Those with winning tickets cashed in for $1,467.06 after odds-on choices took the first, second and sixth legs of the bet. ... Gates open at 9 a.m. at The Big M for Kentucky Derby Day. The first race at Churchill Downs goes at 10:30 a.m. The Derby, race 12 on the 14-race card, is slated for 6:57 p.m. ... Live harness racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

CHESTER, PA - A trio of $11,200 contests for developing horses opened up a five-day harness racing week at Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday (the track will stage a live card on Kentucky Derby Day Saturday at 12:40). In the first of the contests for male pacers, the altered son of Mr Wiggles, Nextmovebestmove, remained undefeated in four career starts, chopping down the well-regarded leader Rockin Rocko while lowering his fastest time to 1:51.2. Montrell Teague drove the Clyde Francis trainee, improving by the race, for George Teague Jr. Inc. and David Collins. NEXTMOVEBESTMOVE REPLAY   it would be Todd McCarthy behind 1-10 shot Shakespeare. However, it proved to be brother Andrew getting the victory with the Sweet Lou three-year-old colt Tapped Teen in a career best of 1:52.3, coming out of the pocket to wear down the big chalk for owner/trainer Aaron Lambert. GOO DOO DOLL REPLAY   In the feature cut for trotters, the Googoo Gaagaa sophomore filly Goo Doo Doll made her 2021 debut a winning one, reducing her mark to 1:57. David Miller had to send the filly on the difficult "tuck-then-grind" mission, but the stakes-placed filly here last year was impressively up to the challenge for trainer Ed Gannon Jr, and owner Frank Canzone. On Thursday, a $12,800 trot for developing horses heads the lineup, with Shikansen coming off a 1:54.2 win at The Meadowlands for "Red" Harrison, tied at the top of the Philly trainer standings; he'll take on Ginger Tree Knox, stepping up off two straight victories for the hot Team Cook/Beegle. First post will be at 12:30 p.m.; program pages for the card will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html. FINISHING LINES - At the PHHA's sister track, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, on Wednesday morning, Bronx Seelster, a son of Big John who was the Battle Of Waterloo winner at two, had a sharp 1:52 qualifier for the Down Under team of trainer Shane Tritton and driver Lauren Tritton, who won over 900 races in her sulky time back home. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Just call them "The Road Warriors". With things at a standstill at their home track due to a COVID-19 shutdown, a pair of harness racing horses who call Woodbine Mohawk Park home ruled The Meadowlands Saturday night as trotter It's Academic and pacer Sintra scored in the co-featured $30,000 Preferreds. It's Academic benefited from a third-place, once-over-the-track effort from a week ago to score in 1:51.3. The 4-year-old son of Uncle Peter - Annapolis was sent to the gate as the 3-2 second choice in the betting and on a typical night that favored speed, left quickly from post five in the eight-horse field and led at every call through fractions of :26.3, :56.3 and 1:24.4 on the way to recording his 15th win from just 30 lifetime starts. Scirocco Rob (Tim Tetrick), the 6-5 favorite, challenged the eventual winner at the three-quarter-mile mark, but was put away off the far turn as It's Academic rolled to a convincing 3-length score. Scirocco Rob finished second with Buck Dancer (Andrew McCarthy) third. ITS ACADEMIC REPLAY   A Ron Burke trainee who is owned by Brad Grant, It's Academic returned $5.00 to win in lifting his lifetime earnings to $493,188. "It just did not really work out last week when he got shuffled," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "Tonight, he proved he's a nice horse. He can leave super-fast and he can go :26 [to the quarter], so I was able to get a good second-quarter breather [of :30]. He was full of trot late." Sintra was nothing short of scintillating in overcoming post 10 to score in 1:48.4. The 8-year-old gelded son of Mach Three - Dancin Barefoot left hard from the outside in the 10-horse field and got a spot fourth at the rail out of the first turn. The 8-5 favorite came first-over at the five-eighths and made his way toward leader American History (McCarthy), who blazed fractions of :54.4 to the half and 1:21.4 at three-quarters after wrestling control away from the early leader, 5-2 second choice Ana Afreet N (Tetrick), at the three-eighths. Continuing to chip away at the leader's edge, Sintra, who paid $5.40 to win, grabbed the front with less than an eighth to go before holding off a fast-closing-along-the-inside Ana Afreet N by a neck in 1:48.4. American History held third. SINTRA REPLAY   Driven by Todd McCarthy and trained by Brett Pelling, Sintra not only overcame the outside post but also a 27-day layoff to register his 36th career victory from 83 starts. His earnings now stand at $1,150,360 for owners Michael Guerriero, Kelly Waxman, Nunzio Vena and Frank Cirillo. "I was concerned with where he was going to be at," said Todd McCarthy, whose hot hands guided five winners on the card. "You try to be as conservative as you can. I knew we'd have to go first-over at some stage. He showed his class tonight. I was a little worried as to how much we had left [in the stretch] but he got there." SPEEDY SORTS: Last Saturday, the Jennifer Bongiorno-trained Nicholas Beach rocked the clock to the tune of 1:48.2 to become the second fastest performer of the year in harness racing. Last night, her Stars Align A became the fastest horse of the year, recording a 1:48 clocking in the seventh race high-end conditioned pace, besting Let It Ride N's Jan. 2 mile time of 1:48.1. All three miles took place at The Big M. AN EARLY START: Before the beginning of the betting card, there were two non-betting divisions of the New Jersey Breeders Maturity contested for 4-year-olds on the trot. In the $12,500 event for mares, 2020 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Ab'sattitudexpress went wire-to-wire for trainer Lucas Wallin and driver Tim Tetrick in 1:54.2. The daughter of Trixton - Abbie'sgotattitude sprinted home in :26.1 to best her only opponent, Spoiled Princess, by 2¾ lengths. The Ake Svanstedt-trained and driven Back Of The Neck, who won a division of the 2020 Stanley Dancer, proved best of five horses in the $15,000 split for horses and geldings in 1:55.4 after leading at every call. The son of Ready Cash - Big Barb hit the wire two lengths in front of Play Trix On Me, the NJSS champion from a year ago. A LITTLE MORE: There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6, setting up a carryover of $9,992. Those with five correct collected $64.00. ... For those who want to jump into what no doubt will be a big Pick-6 pool Friday night, free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com. ... All-source wagering was typically strong for a Saturday at $3,552,966, the eighth straight program to see betting of over $3 million. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

The betting was focused on two harness racing mares in Monday's $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final at Yonkers Raceway, but in the end it would be 6-1 shot Machnhope that would get the job done in game fashion, overtaking Blue Ivy near the wire to score in 1:52.2 for driver Andrew McCarthy. The action was hot and heavy at the outset as four horses left the gate, including favored Alexa Skye from post six, but the even-money choice would have to be content with a tuck in the four- hole as George Brennan, behind Snobbytown, circled Blue Ivy on the first turn and drove past Machnhope to take charge. Tyler Buter, driving 3-2 second choice Blue Ivy, may have been outsprinted early, but the two quickly seized control well before the 27.1 opening quarter. From there, Buter and Blue Ivy kept the pace somewhat lively, hitting the half in 55.3 before feeling any heat. Todd McCarthy and Alexa Skye got off the pylons at the half and quickly flushed Machnhope's cover. What looked like a perfect trip for the favorite at that juncture didn't turn out that way, though, as while Machnhope moved towards the pace-setter, Alexa Skye stalled and couldn't stay on her cover. With Blue Ivy still in control at three-quarters in 1:23.4, the second choice looked in position to win, but Machnhope, under steady urging by Andrew McCarthy, kept grinding her way towards the leader. The field got a bit crowded in deep stretch as Snobbytown searched for room but was unable to find any. Machnhope showed her tenacity near the wire, securing the victory for trainer Noel Daley, who shares ownership in the 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three with Deo Volente Farms LLC., Tom Pontone, and L A Express Stable LLC. Snobbytown settled for third behind Blue Ivy, with Alexa Skye holding fourth on the line. MACHNHOPE REPLAY   "Everything went right out there," said Daley. "She was sound, with no issues, and Andy really knows how to drive her. She just got there on her own." It was the fourth win in 11 tries this year for Machnhope and her 30th career victory. She also pushed her 2021 earnings to $184,115 and her lifetime bankroll to $521,394. Machnhope returned an even $14 to win, with the exacta returning $53.50 and the triple $223.50. Soho Burning Love A, half of the Jim King Jr.-trained entry that was sent off at odds of 1-5, was a dominant force in the $60,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker consolation, distancing herself from the field on the final turn and scoring powerfully in 1:51.4 for driver Tim Tetrick. Soho Burning Love A took control on the first turn and set a sensible early pace, hitting the quarter in 27.4 and half in 56.2, with entrymate Keep Rockin A (Andrew McCarthy) in pocket position. Tetrick allowed Soho Burning Love A to turn on the afterburners on the third turn, and the 7-year-old blew out a 27.2 third quarter, losing the majority of the field in the process. In the homestretch Soho Burning Love A sealed the win with a 28 second final quarter, as Bettors Heart N (Dexter Dunn) rallied late to be a distant second ahead of Parisian Blue Chip (Dan Dube). Owned by Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, Soho Burning Love A returned $2.50 as the prohibitive choice, keying a $8.90 exacta and $23.20 triple. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway  

CHESTER, PA – Over a Harrah’s Philadelphia harness racing oval not friendly to closing horses, the Sweet Lou sophomore colt Hellabalou made a startling 2021 debut on Wednesday, winning an $11,200 co-featured pace in 1:51.1, covering his own last half officially in :53. Hellabalou was third-over as pacesetter Step On The Gas attempted to take his third in his last four, but when driver Andrew McCarthy sent him wide early on the backstretch to circle dull cover, he responded with a sizzling :25.4 individual third quarter, kept going around the first-over to get in a challenging position on the far turn, and then paced away to a 1¾ length victory over a very good Step On The Gas. Hellabalou, who took a new mark here, showed promise early as a freshman with a win in an Arden Downs Stake on Adios Day at The Meadows, but then his fortunes went south and he was stopped with around Labor Day. Trainer Eddie Dennis was in the sulky when Hellabalou qualified in 1:54.2 – 27.2 for his qualifier, and now owner Eric Good finds himself with at least a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes prospect, if not more. HELLABALOU REPLAY   In the other co-feature for pacers, Montrell Teague sent Nextmovebestmove, an altered son of Mr Wiggles who had won the only race of his career the year before, out to the lead, then kept him going to the wire to lower his mark to 1:53.4 for trainer Clyde Francis and owners George Teague Jr. Inc. and David Collins. NEXTMOVEBESTMOVE REPLAY   If this pattern and general cast of characters seems reminiscent, that’s because the story of Nextmovebestmove parallels one of a horse named Wiggle It Jiggleit – who would win his first ten starts in his second campaign and go on to become a legend. Nextmovebestmove is now four and won his only start at three after missing all his freshman season, but if he could develop anywhere near his illustrious stablemate, … In the $11,200 feature for trotters, Ginger Tree Knox showed steady improvement throughout the last three-eighths of a mile, catching first-over Real McCoy while reducing his record to 1:56.1. Andrew McCarthy, top driver on the day with three successes, guided the Bar Hopping gelding for trainer Steve Cook and the partnership of Sam Beegle, Ginger Tree Ventures LLC, Double D Racing Stable, and Reber-Chesen Stable. “Trottin’ Thursday”’s card at Harrah’s Philly will feature fast and competitive races among the veterans of the racing wars and the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow. First post is at 12:25 p.m.; program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER, PA - The pairing of "Down Under wonders," Australian Andrew McCarthy and New Zealander Kelvin "Red" Harrison, were the top newsmakers at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, with McCarthy driving five straight winners on the card, and Harrison training four of them. Three of the four Harrison trainees that McCarthy guided to victory - Bigonpersonality N, Persimmon A, and Claytons Bettor N - were their race's favorite, and their fourth combination, Bettor Trix N, was a second choice. McCarthy's fifth winner, Eddard Hanover, was also a second choice for trainer Jeff Cullipher; all of the victorious quintet raced on the engine except for Bettor Trix N, who was a pocket rocket. McCarthy might have added to his totals, but he left southeastern Pennsylvania after the ninth race to drive in an early Blue Chip Series race at Yonkers. Nevertheless, he is tied with Marcus Miller at the top win spot in the drivers standings with seven triumphs; Harrison is king of the hill on the trainers side with five wins at the meet. A pair of $11,200 paces for younger horses were the top purse events of the day. In the section for distaffs, the Western Ideal mare Avaya Hanover rallied from the two-hole for driver Marcus Miller to overhaul favorite Break The Deal in 1:53.4 for trainer/owner Cote Keim, while the male group was fronted from the quarter by the American Ideal gelding Mancount, who took a new mark of 1:51.3 for driver Anthony Napolitano and trainer/owner Trevor Stafford. Both Miller and Napolitano put together driving triples at Philly on Friday. AVAYA HANOVER REPLAY   The twelve-year-old McArdle stallion Mcerlean became harness racing's newest millionaire when he won for Andrew McCarthy's brother Todd. Trained by Darran Cassar for Muscara Racing Trust, Mcerlean moved his lifetime tally to $1,004,130 -- $942.507 of that for the Muscara family -- with his 47th career victory. MCERLEAN REPLAY   The best card of the young reason season will be held at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, with half of the races not out of place as a feature event at most ovals. First post will be at 12:40 p.m.; program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Preppy Art continues to be one of the more amazing stories in harness racing for a horse of modest class, as the veteran 9-year-old visited The Meadowlands winner's circle once again Friday night, this time in a claiming handicap pace with a top price tag of $12,500. The recipient of an ideal pocket trip, Preppy Art stormed past leader Northern Rock to record a convincing 2½-length score, his 24th lifetime from 151 starts, after stopping the clock in 1:54.3 as the 9-5 second choice in the wagering. The gelded son of Art Colony - Electric Smile wrote a remarkable story back in December of 2019. During 2018, he won exactly zero races from 30 starts before starting the following season winless in 21 outings. PREPPY ART REPLAY   With his losing streak at 59, he then caught fire, winning six in a row at the $7,500 claiming level to earn himself a legion of fans. He finished 2019 with eight wins in his last nine tries. He had an off year in 2020, finishing with a 15-race losing streak and just two victories from 20 starts on the season. But in 2021, he appears to be all the way back. After beginning the year winless in eight tries, Preppy Art, who has been seen for the most part in the GSY Series, has been victorious in three of his last four, with his only loss coming to the razor sharp So So De Vie one week ago in the GSY Series Final. On Friday, he scored with Andy McCarthy in the bike for trainer Edwin Quevedo, and in his next start, he'll attempt to keep rolling for new connections, as trainer Kyle Spagnola took the sharp sort for $12,500. ONES TO WATCH: The Nancy Takter-trained Really Fast, a $700,000 purchase at the Lexington Select Yearling Sale, did not disappoint as the 1-9 favorite in a non-winners of two on the trot, winning his first career start from off the pace in 1:55 for driver Yannick Gingras. The 3-year-old son of Muscle Hill - Stubborn Belle moved to the outside from the four-hole at the half and steadily made up ground on the leaders around the far turn, and went on to an easy 2½-length win when leader Light Blue Movers went off stride during the stretch drive. Really Fast is owned by Brixton Medical, Hatfield Stables and Marvin Katz. Using a dazzling burst of speed down the backstretch to grab the lead, Whole Lotta Lou was beyond impressive staying perfect in two starts this year, taking a non-winners of two on the pace by 4½ lengths in 1:52.1 as the 3-5 public choice. "I didn't really have it in the game plan to do that," said winning driver McCarthy of the backside brush. "But Simon's [Allard, driving Itzalldowntoluck N] horse looked like he was about to drop anchor, so I decided to make the move. He's a little green but he finished up well. He's got a little bit more to learn. I had to keep telling him what to do. He had a lot more pace than he was showing. I think this is a pretty nice colt." A 3-year-old son of Sweet Lou - Ideal Love, Whole Lotta Lou, who is trained by Stacy Chiodo, won for the second time from just four lifetime outings for owners Timothy Tobias Stable. A LITTLE MORE: Yannick Gingras led the driver colony with three winners on the card. ... All-source wagering totaled $3,044,446, the 17th time this year the $3-million barrier has been busted. During all of 2020, the $3-million plateau was reached a total of 11 times. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. From the Meadowlands

Having gained enormous respect from her blowout harness racing victory in the opening leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Alexa Skye had a much easier time putting away her rivals on Friday night (March 19), capturing the first of three $35,000 divisions at Yonkers Raceway in a 1:53.4 clocking. Sent off as the prohibitive 1-10 betting favorite, Todd McCarthy wasted little time seizing command on the opening bend from an accommodating My Ruebe Star N and driver Jordan Stratton. McCarthy kept an easy clip, going to the quarter in 28.4 and reaching the half unchallenged in 58.1. From there, the field of six stayed very much in line as Alexa Skye picked up the pace on the backstretch, hitting three quarters in 1:26 on her own power. McCarthy hardly moved a muscle edging into the homestretch, and the powerful 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere finished out her mile with a 27.4 final quarter as the rest of the field battled hard for the place spot. My Ruebe Star N held her ground and won the competition for the second position, while Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closed along the pylons and finished in a dead-heat with Keep Rockin A (Tim Tetrick) for show. ALEXA SKYE REPLAY   Alexa Skye, who picked up her 14th victory overall and has now banked $192,390, is owned in partnership by Pollack Racing LLC. and trainer Jeff Cullipher. The dead heat for third crunched the payoffs a bit, with Alexa Skye returning $2.20 for win and the exacta kicking back a cool $7.20. In the triple department, the 3-1-2 combination returned $10, and the 3-1-4 was worth $6.30. Seaswift Joy N and driver Andrew McCarthy pulled the upset in the second division, using the wire-to-wire approach as an 11-1 offering. Bettors Heart N (Dexter Dunn), the even-money choice, left quickly and parked Seaswift Joy N for early command, yielding her advantage into the opening bend..After clearing, McCarthy had Seaswift Joy N in control reaching the quarter in 28.1 and slowing the half to 57.3 while the favored Bettors Heart N struggled to maintain close contact with the leader throughout. Lady Dela Renta A and Stratton were first to pull into the third turn but were unable to advance as Seaswift Joy N extended her lead through three-quarters, which went on the board in 1:26. On the final turn, McCarthy kept his mare alert, and she closed out the mile with a 27.4 quarter, easily holding the hard-charging Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter) off in a 1:53.4 mile. Blue Ivy, the 6-5 second choice, was a clear second, with Lady Dela Renta A holding third. SEASWIFT JOY N REPLAY   Owned by Bradley Grant, Seaswift Joy N, an 8-year-old Bettor's Delight mare, improved on her second-place finish in the opening leg for her third victory in 2021 for trainer Tony Alagna. Seaswift Joy N, who is now a 28-time winner and earner of $465,035 lifetime, returned $24.20 to win, with the exacta paying $86. The triple was good for $220.50. Favored Machnhope, with Andrew McCarthy, in the bike took the overland route to victory in the third Blue Chip Matchmaker division, scoring in 1:53.4, the same exact time of the first two winners. Snobbytown, second choice in the field, jetted to command at the outset for George Brennan and had control late on the opening bend. Snobbytown cruised to the quarter in 27.4 and continued to control the action after that point, hitting the halfway mark in 57.2. McCarthy took Machnhope off the pylons heading past the half, and the 2-5 public choice grinded her way up to second as Snobbytown passed three-quarters in 1:25.4. It was a match race from there, with McCarthy getting the most out of Machnhope in the stretch and taking the duel in the late stages. Snobbytown was well clear for second, with Dbldelitebrigade N (Todd McCarthy) finishing in a dead-heat for third with Caviart Cherie (Kakaley). MACHNHOPE REPLAY   Trainer Noel Daley also co-owns Machnhope, a 6-year-old by Mach Three, with Deo Volente Farms LLC., Tom Pontone, and L.A. Express Stable LLC. Machnhope scored her 29th career win and has now pocketed $392,044. She returned $2.90 to win, with the exacta worth $6.40. The triples paid $8.50 (Dbldelitebrigade N third) and $11.20 (Caviart Cherie third). Third round action in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will take place on Friday, March 26. On Monday (March 22), the second round of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series has four $40,000 divisions, with first leg winners Leonidas A and San Domino A meeting in one split and fellow round one victors Hesa Kingslayer N and Let It Ride N meeting in another. Yonkers Raceway hosts live harness racing Monday through Friday nights, with first post at 7:15 p.m..  For full results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway  

Alexa Skye and driver Todd McCarthy served notice in the second of three $35,000 divisions of opening round action in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for harness racing pacing mares on Friday night at Yonkers Raceway with a blistering 1:51.2 victory. McCarthy took the 4-5 public choice to the lead shortly after the start, putting second choice Seaswift Joy N, driven by his brother Andy, in the pocket. Alexa Skye dictated the pace, cutting the first two fractions in identical 28 second quarters and keeping the abbreviated field of five at bay in the process. Alexa Skye picked up the pace noticeably past the half and smoked her third quarter in 27.2, gaining ample separation on the field before marching home impressively with a 28 second final kicker.   A 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Alexa Skye won for the first time since being purchased by trainer Jeff Cullipher, along with Pollack Racing LLC., in February. Alexa Skye, who picked up her 13th victory overall and has now earned $174,890, returned $3.70 to win, with the exacta with runner-up Seaswift Joy N coming back at $7.00. Monica Gallagher held on to the show spot and finished off a $19.40 trifecta. Andy McCarthy was able to post a mild upset in the first split with Machnhope, going first-over the final three eighths to collar race favorite My Ruebe Star N in the homestretch and win comfortably by 2 1/4 lengths. Jordan Stratton put the field in post position order at the outset with My Ruebe Star N and posted very modest fractions of 28.3 and 57.4 for the opening half. The pace picked up considerably when McCarthy pulled on the right line off turn three and went on the attack, coming to even terms with the favorite at the 1:25.3 three-quarters. The two continued to battle through the final turn, but Machnhope, trained by Noel Daley, surged past into the stretch and closed out her 1:53.3 victory with a 28 second final panel. Caviart Cherie squeezed out on the final turn to earn the place spot, with Bettors Heart N making a solid three-wide charge from a difficult spot to salvage the show dough.   Machnhope is owned by Deo Volente Farms LLC., Tom Pontone, L.A. Express Stable LLC., and trainer Daley. The 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three paid $4.80 to win, the exacta returned $52.00, and the trifecta kicked back $193.00. Machnhope is now a 28-time winner from an even 100 appearances, and she has pocketed $374,544. Blue Ivy and driver Tyler Buter cashed in on a second-over trip in the third flight as a 6-1 outsider in the field of six mares. Blue Ivy was away patiently in the early stages as Siesta Beach claimed control on the first turn but relinquished command to the 4-5 favorite Soho Burning Love A prior to the 28 second opening quarter. Tim Tetrick had Soho Burning Love A under good rating and waltzed to the half in 56.4 before meeting some pressure on the backstretch when Lady Dela Renta A and Stratton came calling. Tetrick and Soho Burning Love A disposed of the first-over challenger past the 1:25 three-quarters but proved powerless in the late going as Buter pulled Blue Ivy three-wide and flashed a wicked burst of speed to win going away in a 1:53.3 clocking. Soho Burning Love A held on to the place spot, with Siesta Beach following in third.   A 5-year-old by Captaintreacherous that had mastered the Northfield half-mile track this winter, Blue Ivy won for the fourth time in six starts in 2021 for owner Renee Bercury. Todd Buter trains Blue Ivy, who now has 23 career triumphs and has put away $319,790 The bettors received a healthy $15.20 on the win end, with the exacta worth $37.80 and the trifecta good for an $86.00 return. The second leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker is slated for Friday, March 19. Preliminary round action continues in the series through April 9, and the final is slated to take place on Monday, April 19. Stakes action continues on Monday night at Yonkers with five $40,000 divisions of the opening leg of the MGM Borgata Series for free-for-all pacers. Post time is 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Ana Afreet N and JL Cruze made quick work of their foes Saturday night at The Meadowlands, as each won their respective harness racing co-featured $25,000 Winners Over/Junior Opens with ease on a chilly night at the mile oval. Ana Afreet N, making just his second start back after a two-month layoff, showed that he is all the way back in the groove, as the Jeff Cullipher trainee crushed nine overmatched foes in the marquee event for pacers. Departing from post nine provided little in the way of trouble for the 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight-Anna Livia, as driver Andy McCarthy left the gate sharply, moving swiftly around the first turn while four-wide before clearing to the top at the quarter in :27.1. It was over right then and there. After being permitted to rate a second fraction in :28.2 with nobody close on the rim, Ana Afreet N then shrugged off token first-over pressure around the far turn from the horse who won this race last week, Shnitzledosomethin, before sprinting home in :26.4 to win by 1¾ lengths over a rail-sitting Gods Spirit N in 1:50.2. Shnitzledosomethin held third.   "He was terrific tonight," said McCarthy. "He really doesn't love the front end but he's going to have to get used to it racing over a half-mile track [in the March 15 Borgata Series] at Yonkers. He's probably better with a target, but he paced home strong. I think if a horse had been nearby, he would have shown even more." Ana Afreet N paid $5.80 to win as the 9-5 favorite and upped his lifetime numbers to 23 victories from just 46 starts. Owned by Pollack Racing and Jeff Cullipher, his lifetime earnings now stand at $180,072. JL Cruze showed no rust after a two-week break, blasting down the pike in the featured trot in 1:53.2 as the 1-2 public choice. "He takes me around the track," said winning driver Dexter Dunn. "He makes my job easy." The 10-year-old son of Crazed-Topcat Hall backed up his pilot's words by having an easy time of it on the front end. "That's what makes him so good," said Dunn, referring to his horse's last start, which he won from off the pace. "He's so versatile, so good out of the gate." JL Cruze, who was assigned post seven in the seven-horse field, exploded away from the gate, made the top out of the first turn, and cut out fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:25.3, before sprinting home in :27.4 to win by 1½ lengths over a fast-closing Pikachu Hanover. Winnerup was third.   Trained by Eric Ell and owned by W. Kenneth Wood, W.J. Dittmar Jr. and S.J. Iaquinta, JL Cruze lifted his lifetime statistics to 44 wins from 128 starts, good for an overflowing bank account of $1,584,892. He returned $3.00 to win and has now won four of his last five Big M starts. A LITTLE MORE: McCarthy won three races on the card to finish with five victories over the weekend. ... The 20-cent Pick-6 carryover of $6,225 blossomed into a total pool of $35,136, and those who had winning tickets cashed in for $3,422. ... All-source wagering totaled $3,114,494. There have been 10 Saturday programs conducted at The Big M thus far in 2021, and each has seen the $3-million-handle barrier busted. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

CHESTER, PA - A trio of $11,200 events for developing younger horses, two on the trot and one on the pace, topped the harness racing action on Friday at Harrah's Philadelphia. In the faster of the two sections of the featured trot, the newcomer Stravinsky made short work of his opposition, flying home in :56.2 - :28 for an easy 1:55.2 victory, 1¼ lengths ahead of favored Romanee Blue Chip. Andrew McCarthy, top driver of the afternoon with four victories, handled the impressive sophomore Sebastian K S gelding for trainer Andrew Harris and owners Thomas and Elizabeth Rankin.   The Italian/Swedish-bred Fly Eagle Fly showed the endurance of a Continental horse, parked outside the entire mile, in taking the other trotting sector in 1:57.1. The sophomore son of Bold Eagle was denied both the lead and the pocket in the second quarter, continued pressing the rest of the way, and got up by a neck over pacesetting Khedive, who had insisted on setting the pace. Corey Callahan kept the three-year-old going to record his lifetime best clocking for trainer Linda Toscano and owner Richard Gutnick. On the pace, the Sweet Lou sophomore ridgling Rockin The Blaze enjoyed a lowering from a basic diet of stakes competition, working his way to the lead in front of the grandstand and looking in charge thereafter while taking a new mark of 1:52. Full Send, from the pocket, got to within three-quarters of a length behind the winner, who was driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Eddie Dennis and owner Eric Good. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER, PA - Harness racing driver Andrew McCarthy guided all three winners in divisions of the $96,801 Hardie Hanover, the John Simpson Sr. Memorial stake for three-year-old pacing fillies that was raced Wednesday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. Two divisions of the $86,600 Elma, the companion Simpson stake for sophomore trotting fillies, were also contested. Fastest among the three McCarthy winners, all of whom were heavy favorites, was the Captaintreacherous miss Marloe Hanover, who made the top at the ¼, then powered home in :27.2 to be 5¾ lengths ahead of the nearest opposition at the end of a 1:50.4 mile. Nifty Norman conditions the winner of $413,273 for the Let It Ride Stables Inc.   Captaintreacherous scored another sires credit with Going Gone Hanover, whose path to victory was much more difficult. Gaining the lead from Shouldabeenatd past the opening turn, Going Gone Hanover had that rival on her back until the stretch and then gaining inch-by-inch on her late, but the winner withstood her determined rival by a neck in 1:51.3. In doing so, "Going Gone" upped her career bankroll over six figures for trainer Brett Bittle and Yankeeland Partners LLP. The Art Major filly Precious Alexis notched her third straight victory as part of the McCarthy sweeping triple, and she took a new mark of 1:51.4 in doing so after moving to the front going past the stands. Ed Gannon Jr. conditions the improving miss, who won by 2½ lengths, for Zippett Racing Stable. Contrasting with the pacing stakes, where the favorite won each time, both of the trotting events went to the crowd's second choice. In the first section, the Donato Hanover filly Dip Me Hanover came within 2/5 of a second of the divisional track record when she recorded a 1:53 victory. No Mas Drama, who had $9 more wagered on her to win than the winner, made a huge :27 charge down the backstretch to try to get the lead but pacesetting Hannah denied her the crossover. After the first-over faded then broke, Dip Me Hanover came out of the pocket and beat the leader by 1¾ lengths, raising her earnings to $377,934 for trainer Linda Toscano and the partnership of the trainer's Camelot Stable Inc., Dreamville Stable, and R-And-I Farms LLC. The $500,000 yearling Fifty Cent Piece certainly brought her "A" game to Philly on Wednesday, racing first-over yet still striding away to a 2½ length triumph in 1:53.4, her own last half :56, to be the only winner on the 14-race card to not be against the pegs when the field turned down the backstretch. Mattias Melander guided the daughter of Muscle Hill to the anti-bias victory for trainer/brother Marcus Melander and the S R F Stable. McCarthy and George Napolitano Jr., the track's leading driver, led the sulkysitters' colony with three successes on the afternoon; posting a pair of training scores were Ron Burke and Gilbert Garcia-Owen, 1-2 in the Philly standings. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER, PA - After getting a rude parked-the-mile reception in New York, the Mach Three mare Machnhope returned to Harrah's Philadelphia, a track where she had been doing well, and promptly won the $14,000 feature distaff handicap pace in 1:50.2. Andrew McCarthy got an early tuck with the winner of $296,301 as Caviart Cherie and Imprincessgemma A argued the :26.3 first quarter, then was underway in front of the stands, claiming the lead after some hard work to the :55 half. But Machnhope called the tune from there, passing the three-quarters in 1:22.1 and then drawing off to have a five length margin at the wire for driver Pat Berry and trainer Noel Daley, the latter co-owner with Deo Volente Farms LLC, Thomas Pontone, and L A Express Stable LLC.   In a $12,800 race for up-and-coming females, Dance Club made it two in a row at Philly, after winning her recent Liberty Bell division coming back here and fronting a field from early on to win by 2¼ lengths in 1:52.4. Ron Burke trains the winner for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Knox Services Inc. and David Wills. The Well Said mare Apple Hanover disappointed as the favorite in the $11,600 distaff pacing class last time after a hard trip; this time she took all the variables out of play by going wire-to-wire for driver Marcus Miller in 1:51.3, finishing 1½ lengths clear. Now a winner of $226,884, Apple Hanover is trained by Katricia Adams and owner Benjamin Gordon. Andrew McCarthy and George Brennan tied for day's honors among drivers with three triumphs each. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Brad Grant watched Ramona Hill's Hambletonian Stakes win at The Meadowlands in August from his home in Canada because of COVID-19 international travel restrictions. But now Grant, one of Ramona Hill's six owners, is getting to spend some quality time with the harness racing filly in his own backyard at Ontario's Woodbine Mohawk Park. Last week, Ramona Hill won a division of the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters at Mohawk for her fifth victory in six races this season. It was her first Canadian start since winning a Breeders Crown at Mohawk in October. On Saturday, she returns to the Ontario oval for the C$350,000 Elegantimage Stakes, where her nine rivals include Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella. Andy McCarthy will drive Ramona Hill for trainer Tony Alagna. "I'm excited," Grant said, adding with a laugh, "I was beginning to think my partners were hoarding her to the south. At least up here I get her all to myself. We're enjoying getting to spend some time with her." Grant shares ownership of Ramona Hill with U.S.-based partners Michelle and Al Crawford, Robert LeBlanc, John Fodera, and Steve Wienick. Grant, who was among the owners of 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta, watched this year's race on television with his wife Bonnie while the remainder of the group was at The Meadowlands. "It's not the same, but thankfully I had that experience a couple years earlier, so I know what it's like," Grant said. "I had the second-best seat in the house (this year) and I could rewind the race and watch it as much as I wanted. "Bonnie and I were just tickled to watch it on TV and see everybody. It's a great group. We're all just enjoying it. Tony has done a great job and Andy gets along with this filly amazing. Being up here, Tony's mom (Donna Lee, who runs the stable in Canada) has pampered Ramona to death looking after her. We couldn't have it any better." Ramona Hill, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy, has won 11 of 13 career races and $1.17 million. She became the 15th filly to beat the boys in the Hambletonian, which she accomplished in a stake-record-equaling 1:50.1. In addition to the Hambletonian and Simcoe, her wins this season include the Del Miller Memorial and the filly division of the Harry M. Zweig Memorial. She is the No. 1-ranked horse in the sport's current Top 10 poll. "There are a number of colts and fillies that could be No. 1 this year," Grant said. "I think if you have a bad week, you could move off where you are and get bumped down the line in a hurry. So, to be on the top of that list, in my mind, is quite an accomplishment." Ramona Hill will look to remain on top with a win in the Elegantimage, but Grant knows it won't be easy. Nancy Takter-trained Sorella, the No. 8-ranked horse in harness racing, has won six of eight starts this season and heads to the race off a win over older male rivals, including returning O'Brien Award winner Musical Rhythm. "She is a great filly," Grant said. "I think it's going to be a heck of a race. There are some others in there, but obviously, a quick glance says the one to beat is Sorella. Hopefully, we can come back with another good race and get it done." Grant owns a second horse in the Elegantimage, Warrawee Vicky, who won last week's other Simcoe Stakes division. She has won three of six races this year and eight of 16 lifetime, earning $243,151. She is trained by Scott McEneny. "She raced well last week so we decided to put her in," Grant said. "We're racing for fourth or fifth money, but the filly has raced really well for me this year and we're pleased with her. Scott has worked hard to get her there, so we thought we should put her in and see how she does." Saturday's card at Mohawk also includes the C$560,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old male trotters, headlined by Goodtimes Stakes and Zweig Memorial winner Ready For Moni, as well as eliminations for the Milton (pacing mares), Metro Pace (2-year-old male pacers) and She's A Great Lady (2-year-old filly pacers). Grant is among the owners of Alagna trainees Notorious Pink in the She's A Great Lady's first elimination and Pirate Hanover in the Metro's first elimination. Notorious Pink swept the Whenuwishuponastar at Mohawk earlier this year before competing in the Kentucky Sire Stakes. She has four wins and a second in six starts. Pirate Hanover has a win and a third in three races. "She's a really nice filly," Grant said about Notorious Pink. "I got in on her just as she started racing. She's green but she was pretty good up here before so we thought we would give her a shot. She does seem to like the track up here and (driver) Bobby McClure was her pilot up here before and got along with her really well. "I think Pirate Hanover is a sleeper. He made a break (in a division of the Nassagaweya) but I think he might have clipped the wheel of the horse in front of him. The colt has got a lot of speed and I don't think we've seen the bottom of his tank yet. I'm real excited about that colt. I think he has a ton of upside and I think he's just going to get better as he races." For more about Saturday's card, click here. For complete entries, click here. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Standardbred Canada is reporting that Andy McCarthy has been cleared to drive in Canada and will make his 2020 debut north of the border at Woodbine Mohawk Park this weekend. McCarthy will be the second U.S.-based driver to head to Canada for the Grand Circuit stakes at Mohawk. Yannick Gingras made the trek north in late August and is staying in Ontario for the time being. McCarthy is planning to drive in Canada this weekend and next, but returning stateside for the Kentucky Sires Stakes finals on Sept. 20. To read the full story on the Standardbred Canada website, click here. From Standardbred Canada

Over the past several years, harness racing driver Todd McCarthy contemplated leaving his native Australia to continue his career in North America. Watching his brother Andy win four Breeders Crown trophies last October at Woodbine Mohawk Park helped convince McCarthy to do it in 2020. The global coronavirus pandemic put his plans on hold for several months, but McCarthy finally was able to complete his move last week. And the 27-year-old wasted little time in finding the winner's circle, posting five victories in his first 28 starts. "I've always wanted to come, it was just a matter of time when I was going to be able to make the move," McCarthy said. "Probably after the Breeders Crown last year I started putting a few plans in place to make the move. That sort of made me think that this is the place to be. That definitely was motivating. "Initially, I wanted to come in March, early April, but (the pandemic) slowed things down. I was fortunate enough to be able to get over last week and it's all worked out. I've really enjoyed it at this stage. I've got a visa that allows me to stay for some time, so I'm planning on sticking around for quite a while." McCarthy's father, John, is a highly regarded trainer in Australia and brothers Luke and Andy are top drivers. Luke spent part of 2009 in North America and is best remembered for driving Muscle Hill to victory in the World Trotting Derby. Andy moved to the U.S. in 2007 and has won more than 2,500 races, including August's Hambletonian with Ramona Hill. Todd's accomplishments Down Under included winning the 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship and multiple New South Wales state and metropolitan premiership driving titles. He represented Australia at the 2019 World Driving Championship and counts the Inter Dominion as his top victory. "I think I'm most proud of the consistency," said McCarthy, who started driving in 2010. "I've had a lot of great support from trainers and that's something I'm proud of as well. My last couple seasons Down Under have been fantastic as far as the Grand Circuit goes, winning a lot of races. That's been pretty cool. "The timing (for this move) was perfect for me." McCarthy earned his first triumph in the U.S. in his third start and added four more victories in his next 25 races. He notched his first stakes triumph with Marloe Hanover in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars. "I've been overwhelmed by the support, that people have been willing to put me down and give me a shot," McCarthy said. "I can't thank all the trainers enough for that. It's been fantastic. "I've met so many people this first week, even though COVID has made things a little difficult. It's a weird time to be meeting people and making new relationships because you don't get to see everyone's face. That's been a little bit tricky. I've joked around that once we take our masks off, I probably won't recognize people." Adjusting to new horses and new drivers are McCarthy's biggest challenges. "I've been watching for a long time, but you've got to be here and driving in races to really pick that up," McCarthy said. "Back home, you sort of know most horses and have an idea how they race. Over here, I've had to start from scratch. "I find myself watching a lot of replays and reading a lot of programs. I'm doing my very best to educate myself. Each time I go out there, I've got as much knowledge as I can about the race and the horses in it and how I think the race is going to go." Following in Andy's ever-growing footsteps might seem daunting, but Todd is grateful for his brother's support. "If anything, he's made it easier for me; he's done all the hard yards," he said. "He's thrown a few contacts my way and gotten me a little bit of work. I've got to give Andy a huge shout out there. He's given me pointers on what to do and not to do. He's pointed me in the right direction, that's for sure." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

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