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LEBANON, OH. - A pair of native harness racing Buckeyes returned to their roots this week and were successful in back-to-back races on Wednesday night at Miami Valley Raceway.   Ken Holliday and Brent Holland, prolific drivers with thousands of career victories and winners of dash titles at numerous tracks, are currently plying their trade within miles of the old Lebanon Raceway, where they learned many of their early lessons in their teens and twenties.   Holliday, other than a single 'Legends' race on closing night at Lebanon Raceway in 2013, has been sidelined by injury in recent years and attained his judge's license while on the mend. He has served stints in the judge's stand at both Pompano Park and Scioto Downs. On an interim basis, he has returned to driving and guided Wisher to a valuable victory in his very first start back.   Holland, who has fared well in both Chicago and at Yonkers Raceway since leaving Ohio years ago, trotted home a winner with Baby Blaze in a $5000 conditioned event.   The win for Wisher, in the final preliminary leg of the "Claim To Fame" series for $5000 claimers, vaulted him into the $15,000 championship race next Wednesday (January 28). The race should be extremely competitive as the series produced ten different winners in ten preliminary leg races. Three other horses had a pair of second place finishes to create a logjam at the top of the standings in the series.   Wisher and two other horses who had a win and got another check in the two-week preliminary stage are guaranteed spots in the final. Ten other horses are tied for the final six spaces behind the starting gate, to be determined by a random judge's draw. The four horses that do not draw into the $15,000 championship will get berths in an $8000 consolation final along with the next five highest earners. A total of 50 horses competed in the preliminary legs of this particular series.   The finalists were also determined Wednesday night in the $12,500 claiming mares division. Impressive winners Melodie Hotspur and She's A Ball stamped themselves as the favorites for next week's $19,600 championship race with convincing scores.   Gregg Keidel  

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, October 8, 2014--Yonkers Raceway has a simple four-word, 15-letter request for everyone attending the sixth annual harness racing Fall Harvest Festival, set for this Saturday night (Oct. 11). "Have Fun. Wear Pink." All the popular Festival sights, sounds and tastes are back... ...live music, pony rides, New York State craft beers, exciting harness racing (including the Legislators' Challenge), face painting, a pumpkin patch and so much more in a fun, family atmosphere. Now, the reason for the request. Empire City, Yonkers Raceway, its horsemen and the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) have once again joined in the fight against breast cancer. A donation of $10 shall be made (with a maximum gift of $15,000) to the Susan G. Komen Greater NYC Chapter for every Fall Harvest Festival guest who wears the color du jour. In keeping with the theme, pink horseshoes shall be given away on the apron (while supplies last), all the drivers that evening are carrying pink whips and the winning horses receive pink blankets, sponsored (alphabetically) by Team Allard, Richard Banca, Amber Buter, Rick Dane Jr., Scott DiDomenico, Mark Ford, Allan Johnson, Peter Pellegrino, Jody Riedel, Brittany Robertson, Nick Surick and Anita Vallee. Representatives from the Komen organization are also going to be on hand to answer questions, provide informational materials and accept an oversized donation check in the winner's circle at 6:30 PM. Need some extra incentive to help a worthy cause? The first 1,500 Empire Club members who visit a promotions booth that day receive a free, $2 exacta box ticket on one of that evening's live races. The Fall Harvest Festival takes place trackside from 4 PM-8 PM, with the first Legislators' Challenge races set for 5:30 PM. Post time for the live racing card is the usual 7:10 PM. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Vernon Downs held harness racing Finals in eight divisions of the New York Excelsior "A" Series on Saturday night with purses totaling $360,000.   The 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings were first up and provided an 11-1 upset with Commissioner Daley (Conway Hall-Irish Washerwoman) storming through the stretch once he got into the clear and rolling right past Genius At Work late to win in a final time of 1:55.2.   Commissioner Daley is owned by Ann-Mari Daley of Lake Worth, Florida and Michael White of Royal Palm Beach, Florida. Dan Daley is the trainer-driver.   2-year-old trotting fillies were up next and, as opposed to the first of the eight Finals, this one went according to form as 3-5 favorite Barn Girl (Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie) took the lead in mid-stretch and held off a strong closing kick from Morcredit Bluechip to score a victory in 1:57.   Barn Girl is owned by Steven and Nancy Pratt of Corfu, New York. The trainer is Howard Okusko and she was driven to victory by Jeff Gregory on Saturday night.   Freshman trotting colts & geldings provided the most exciting stretch drive of the night as part of a 5-1 entry, Progression (Credit Winner-Ens Curious), came through an opening on the inside left when the favored Crazshana drifted out in the lane. Progression's final time was 1:57.4.   Progression is owned by Leigh Raymer, who also trains, of Delaware, Stephen Moss of Pennsylvania, Harold and Helane Solomon of New York. Mark MacDonald was the driver on Saturday night.   The sophomore pacing filly race was won in gate-to-wire fashion by Expose (Artiscape-Good News Lady). She took the lead immediately and never was headed again as she triumphed in 1:52.4   Expose is owned by Linwood Higgins of Scarborough, Maine and Stake Your Claim Stable of Seacaucus, New Jersey. Linda Toscano trains and Jim Morrill Jr. was the winning driver.   Archetto Hanover (Bettor's Delight-Arts Masterpiece) took the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace after rallying past the favored Murder He Wrote at the top of the stretch. He went on to win by a length in a final time of 1:51.4   Archetto Hanover is owned by Paymaq Racing of Illinois, Greg Gillis of Ontario, Canada, and Louis Willinger of Kentucky. The trainer is Erv Miller and the winning driver was Marcus Miller.   2-year-old pacing colts and geldings might have provided one of the more impressive wins of the night from Artistic Major (Art Major-Western Dancer). Artistic Major (Brent Holland) made the lead at the top of the stretch and powered away to win by four lengths in a time of 1:52.4.   Artistic Major is owned by David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio of Ohio and Steve Elliott of New Jersey. Steve Elliott doubles as the trainer.   Freshman pacing fillies followed that and Rock Me Gently (Rock N Roll Heaven-Cam Swifty) prevailed in what turned into a clustered finish with multiple horses ending up close together. The final time was 1:55.   Rock Me Gently is owned by Old Block Stables Inc. and Kenneth Klein of New York and The Fra Stable LLC of New Jersey. The trainer is Steve Elliott.   The final Final of the Excelsior "A" Series on Saturday night was 3-year-old trotting fillies and the winner was Dreamsteeler (Cash Hall-Dream Street) with Jim Morrill Jr. driving. She took the lead right away and cruised to an easy victory by nine lengths in a final time of 1:56.3   Dreamsteeler is owned by Andrew Herzog of Monticello, New York and Tracy Brainard is the trainer.   Live racing will resume at Vernon Downs on Thursday night with an 11-race program. Post time is 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 19, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Open Handicaps-one for distaff pacers and one for trotters of any make or model--were won by Campanile (Tyler Buter, $10.40) and Lorenzo Dream (Brent Holland, $26.80). Unhurried from post position No. 6, Campanile saw Set Me Up (George Brennan) lead the conga line through early intervals of :28.2 and :56.3. Virgin Mary (Eric Goodell) was pocketed from the pole, while slight 2-1 choice Scandalous Hanover (Jason Bartlett) was first-up from fifth. Chasing that was Campanile as Set Me Up remained an unpressured leader in and out of a 1:24.2 three-quarters. Set Me Up owned a length lead into the lane, but was about to drop anchor. Scandalous Hanover went by first, then Campanile went by last. The latter whipped the former by a length in 1:52.2. Last week's victress, Royal Cee Cee N (Brian Sears), rallied for third here with Crazy on You (Holland) and a tiring Set Me Up completing the cashers. For fourth choice Campanile, a 5-year-old daughter of No Pan Intended trained by Allan Johnson for owner Michael Casalino Jr., it was her eighth win in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $49.40, with the triple returning $182. The week's marquee trot saw Lorenzo Dream-banished behind the eight-ball-make short work of that inconvenience. Vaulting to immediate command, he was a lonely leader through sub-stations of :28, :57.2, 1:26.3 and 1:55.3. Up four lengths turning for home, and with pocket-sitting longshot Neighsay Hanover (Jordan Stratton) and a first-up, 17-10 fave Backstreet Hanover (Bartlett) both doing nothing, "Lorenzo's" final margin was three lengths. The Triple Lindy (Eric Carlson) found room late to grab second, with Zooming (Buter), Backstreet Hanover and Rossini (Dan Dube) settling for the small change. For sixth choice Lorenzo Dream a 7-year-old Taurus Dream gelding owned by Vincent Laurenzo and trained by Julie Miller, he's now 8-for-25 this season. The exacta paid $626, the triple returned $1,683 and the superfecta paid $15,476 (base two-dollar wager). Note that since no one hit Friday's Pick 5, Saturday night's gimmick begins with a $3,363.16 carryover. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager (races 5 through 9). Over the past number of years, employees and staff from Empire City, Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York have visited the Food Bank For Westchester in nearby Elmsford, helping out with the fine work of that organization. Friday night, the folks from Food Bank returned the favor, visiting Yonkers to enjoy dinner, a night at the races....and to receive a donation. The Raceway and the SOA made a contribution to the Food Bank, which goes toward feeding the hungry throughout the county of Westchester. "Yonkers is pleased to assist such a worthy cause," Raceway COO Bob Galterio said. "So many of our employees generously donate their time every time we visit. Anything we can do to help, it's our pleasure." "We have had tremendous support from horsemen and owners throughout our organization," SOA of New York president Joe Faraldo said. "Many of Yonkers' leading drivers have been to the Food Bank to lend a hand and see what this organization does." For more information, visit www.foodbankforwestchester.org. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 12, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Open Handicaps-one for distaff pacers and one for trotters of any gender that's out there--were won by a from-last Royal Cee Cee N (Brian Sears, $15) and Somebody AS (Dan Dube, $17.60). Also Brian Sears had the hot hands, winning six races on the card. Unhurried from outside her seven rivals, Royal Cee Cee N saw last week's victress, Venus Delight (Jason Bartlett), out past a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and into Turn 2 before making the lead. The slight 2-1 choice then rated a :56.2 intermission before Classy Lane Rose (Dube) moved from fifth. However, she didn't continue that bid in and out of a 1:24.4 three-quarters, forcing Campanile (Eric Carlson) wide and Royal Cee Cee N even wider. Venus Delight opened a couple of lengths in and out of the final and looked home...and a relentless close by Royal Cee Cee N. Sixth-nearly five lengths back--turning for home, she snapped "Venus" on the money, winning by a nose in 1:53.3. Campanile, Set Me Up (George Brennan) and Strings (Eric Goodell) rounded out the payees. For millionairess and fifth choice Royal Cee Cee N, an 8-year-old Down Under daughter of Christian Cullen owned and trained by Mark Harder, it was her sixth win (third consecutive and 40th career) in 24 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $114, with the triple returning $293.50. The week's marquee trot was a two-speed number, with 2013 Yonkers Trot champ Dewycolorintheline (Jordan Stratton) putting up intervals of :28.1, :58.3, 1:26.3, all the while shadowed by Somebody AS. The latter, after an early sequester from post position No. 4, went inside and went by. The margin was three-quarters of a length in 1:55. Wishing Stone (Brennan), last week's winner--and this week's 9-5 choice--Traverse Seelster (Tyler Buter) and Obrigado (Brent Holland) completed the cashers. For fourth choice Somebody AS, a 5-year-old Striking Sahbra gelding co-owned by Acl Stuteri AB & Kjell Johansson and trained by Anette Lorentzon, he's now 4-for-15 this season. The exacta paid $90, the triple returned $847 and the superfecta paid $2,806. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday ($1.8 million New York Night of Champions) at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway        

Batavia, NY---Betting Exchange and Berkley were on the outside looking in at the $1.8 million Night of Champions at Yonkers coming into tonight's final leg of the New York Sire Stakes 2-year-old pacing colt and gelding division. But winning heals all and that's exactly what they both did to advance to the final next Saturday. In the first $54,500 contest, Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) scored his second win in a row to move from ninth to sixth overall in the standings and lock up a spot in the $225,000 final. Betting Exchange came off the wings for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and went right to the front to cut the mile. After briefly settling in fourth, Americanprimetime and Mark MacDonald pulled and came up to challenge the leader. That move found the colt getting parked through fractions of :27.3, :56 and 1:25.2 before packing it in around the last turn. From that point on Betting Exchange ran away and hid, winning the race by three lengths in 1:55.1. The winner paid $5.70. Play The Field (Kevin Cummings) was second and K Ryan Bluechip (Joe Pavia Jr.) was third. It was the second win in five starts for Betting Exchange and boosted his earnings to $66,125 for owners Howard Taylor, Susan Kajfasz and Tom Fanning, who also trains the horse. After the race Morrill said "I didn't really want to get into a speed duel but he felt real good tonight so I let him roll. After he fought off Americanprimetime he paced very strong to the wire." In the second $54,500 split, Berkley (Art Major-Monterey) caught his competitors and the betting public asleep as he upset both with a strong stretch-drive victory at 17-1. The win boosted him from tenth to seventh in the standings and also qualified him for the lucrative NYSS final. Mark MacDonald sent Bet You out like a rocket and paced strongly on the lead to an uncontested :58.1 half when Southwind Masimo and Mike Lachance came first-over to challenge. That encounter was short lived when the pack straightened out up the backside and Bet You shifted gears to hold the group at bay. To this point, Joe Pavia Jr. had Berkley sitting comfortably In The Pocket behind the leader, just waiting to take his best shot at the head of the lane. Bet You opened up a two length lead coming for home but the fresh-legged Berkley rolled off the pylons and right by the leader with a furious brush to pull the upset in 1:55.3. The winner returned $36.00. Bet You hung on to be second and Southwind Masimo was third. This was the first win in nine starts this year for Berkley and raised his bank to $58,620 for owners Randy Bendis, Reed Broadway and Thomas Pollack. Berkley is trained by Ed Hart. Pavia had a glowing review saying "I was really impressed how good Ed (trainer Hart) had him tonight. He was much improved and raced super. He got a real good trip and we took advantage of it." There were also three divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card, each going for $12,600. The first division was won by Heaven Rocks (Rock N Roll Heaven-Cheerful Outlook) who was driven by Brent Holland in 1:56.1 and returned $4.70. He is owned by Paymag Racing, Greg Gillis, Mystical Marker Farms LLC and Louis Willinger and trained by Erv Miller. The second leg was won by Soto (Rock N Roll Heaven-Incredible Beauty) who was driven by Mark MacDonald in 1:55.2 to pay $4.90. He is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, R A W Equine Inc. and Jim Fielding and is trained by Jimmy Takter. The final split was won by Mystical Pacer (Bettor's Delight-Take My Pulse) who was driven by Brent Holland in 1:56.4 and paid $6.10. He is owned by Mystical Marker Farms, Paymag Racing and Ron Michelon and is trained by Erv Miller. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. scored a driving grand slam while Mark MacDonald and Brent Holland both registered doubles on the night. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Tuesday evening with a 6:35 post time. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---The last chance to see the best bred standardbreds in the Empire State race at Batavia Downs this year occurs on Saturday night (Sept. 6) when the New York Sire Stakes makes its last stop at the Genesee County oval for 2014. The 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings are featured as the stars of tomorrow and will compete for $109,000 in purses. The first $54,500 NYSS division goes as the fifth race and features seven pacers going postward. Americanprimetime (American Ideal-Prime Example A) is currently ranked second in points for the Night of Champions finals for his sex and gait and boasts a 1:52.4 lifetime mark at Tioga Downs this year. This Rick Dane Jr. trained colt likes to be on the front end and will get his chance here scoring from post three. He has made two breaks in his six starts but when he is on his game he's hard to beat. Brent Holland will sit behind Americanprimetime for the first time in this race. Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) beat Americanprimetime last week at Vernon Downs en route to taking his lifetime mark of 1:51.1. He has been lightly raced due to an injury in July and has only four starts this year. But he's made the most of the opportunities he has had and appears to be improving with every start. Betting Exchange needs points to move up in the standing in order to make the final and this will be his last chance to do it. Top NYSS reinsman Jim Morrill Jr. is aboard for trainer Tom Fanning. Azorean Art (Art Major-Dancin Barefoot) is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and looks to be coming into this race sharp as a tack. Also coming off a lifetime mark of 1:52.3 at Vernon last week, Azorean Art overcame road trouble the entire race and still found a way to win. Driver Mark MacDonald drove him for the first time in that victory and is back in the sulky here. Azorean Art is currently fifth in the standings but could move up substantially with a win. The second $54,500 NYSS division goes as race nine and has the top horse in the series competing in it. Southwind Masimo (Bettor's Delight-Max's Leading Lady) is a perfect four-for-four this year and all in NYSS action. He has won both on the front and from behind, and on both small and large tracks. The Pat LaChance trained colt took his lifetime mark of 1:54 at Tioga Downs, but he actually paced faster last quarters in his two starts at Yonkers. However Southwind Masimo is coming into this race off a scratch at Vernon last week when he reported sick, so the colt has not raced in 18 days. Whether or not this will affect his performance remains to be seen, but having Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance on board will certainly help his cause. Cartoon Daddy (Art Major-Ask Alice) has four wins in seven starts this year and oddly enough, all four wins were on half-mile tracks. He has a sparkling lifetime mark of 1:53.4 at Yonkers Raceway which is considerably faster than any other horse in this race has paced over a half-mile track. He is currently third in points and could vault to number one with a victory. Cartoon Daddy hails from the powerful Ron Burke stable and will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr. Bet You (Bettor's Delight-Armbro Amoretto) has two wins and three seconds in six starts this year and the only time he finished off the board was due to an interference break. Also a Takter trainee, Bet You has displayed racing versatility on the track and seems to be brave on the front end. His mark is 1:55.1 at Yonkers but he paced considerably faster in a just-beaten mile at Tioga Downs in 1:52.4. Bet You is right behind Cartoon Daddy in the points standing and could also take the top spot with a win. Mark MacDonald gets his second straight ride behind him in here. There are also three divisions of the Excelsior series to be contested in races one, two and seven going for a total of $37,800. Post time for the first race is 6:35. One other highlight for the night is the return of popular and second leading driver Shawn McDonough who was injured in a spill at Batavia Downs during a race on Labor Day. Only three days removed from the incident, McDonough will be back in the sulky on Friday night and is slated to drive the full card on Saturday. McDonough said "I'm doing pretty good. My ankle is still sore but not too bad, and I have been taking it easy the last few days. But now I'm ready to come back." -- Tim Bojarski

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 30, 2014- Rank outsider Fameous Western (Larry Stalbaum, $67.50) had everything go his way Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace . Assigned post position No. 2, Fameous Western watched the floor show from a primo table. Pole-given Russley Rascal N (George Brennan), as the tepid 2-1 favorite, parked Heston Blue Chip (Brent Holland) through intervals of :26.4 and :55.1. Fameous Western was pocketed, with Handsome Henry K (Eric Goodell) out, then back in. Frankie's Dragon (Brian Sears) wound up second over, with Pancetta (Jordan Stratton) behind him. It was "Russley" leading in and out of the 1:23.2 three-quarters, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. The leader was about to throw in the towel, with Fameous Western awaiting his turn. He ducked in, whipping the horse on his back--Dallenbach Hanover (Eric Carlson)--by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:52.1. "Frankie," Pancetta and Russley Rascal N rounded out the payees. For Fameous Western, a 6-year-old Western Hanover gelding co-owned by Anita Fialkow & Sandra Presciti and trained by Lance Hudson, it was his 11th win in 27 seasonal starts. The exacta (two biggest prices on the board) paid $735, with the triple returning $3,594. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 29, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Opens--a handicap for distaff pacers and a blind draw for all trotters who passed initiation--were won by rank outsider Campanile (Eric Carlson, $58.50) and Obrigado (Brent Holland, $11). An early bystander from post position No. 4, Campanile had much to watch. Last week's victress, Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton) was in play, getting stung by pole assignee, the newly-sold Venus Delight (Jason Bartlett). No sooner did the just-above-even-money fave Robin Cruiser make the lead (:26.4 opening quarter-mile) than Monkey on My Wheel (Dan Dube) took her turn. Monkey on My Wheel found a :55.4 intermission and 1:24.2 three-quarters, with Montenegro (Greg Merton) offering a stern test first-up. Monkey on My Wheel opened to a length-and-a-quarter entering the lane, but was done soon after. Venus Delight closed deep in the passing lane, but it was Campanile-third-up--moving widest and fastest. Sixth in and out of the final turn, Campanile prevailed by a neck in 1:52.3. Robin Cruiser, Crazy on You (Holland) and Camille (George Brennan) rounded out the payees. For Campanile, a 5-year-old daughter of No Pan Intended trained by Allan Johnson for owner Michael Casalino Jr., it was her seventh win in 31 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $290.50, with the triple returning $789. The week's marquee trot saw upstate scourge Obrigado-which, as pointed out by track announcer/U-N interpreter John Hernan, translates to "thank you" in Portuguese-prevail from second-over. After Tober (Bartlett) and Lorenzo Dream (Jeff Gregory) led the way (:27.2, :57.1), Tober regained and found a 1:26.1 three-quarters. He had a 2¼-length lead turning for home, having disposed of both a stopping "Lorenzo" and an uncovered DW's NY Yank (Brennan). However, Obrigado-gradually advancing from post No. 5-snapped the leader late, winning by a neck in 1:55.3. Third went to Bingo Queen (Eric Goodell), with tepid 19-10 choice Somebody AS (Dube) and "DW" settling for the minor awards. For Obrigado, a 4-year-old Boy Band gelding co-owned by (trainer) Paul Kelley, William Weaver III, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45, he's now 7-for-16 this season (28-for-39 lifetime). The exacta paid $44.20, with the triple returning $216.50. Friday's undercard saw the 7-year-old double millionaire Wishing Stone (Brennan, $3.70) beat up his rivals, setting a set track record for aged trotting horses (1:54.2). He (nearly a year ago to the day) and Archangel shared the old standard at a tick slower. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Batavia, NY---There was a lot of harness racing action on Wednesday night (Aug. 27) at Batavia Downs and as the New York Sire Stakes headlined the racing, both man and beast were in top form. The Ron Burke trained Sassa Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover) re-wrote the record books when she toured the facility in a blistering 1:54.2, erasing the old mark of 1:54.4 for a 2-year-old pacing filly set by Barefoot Beauty just last year. This was the fourth track record set at Batavia Downs in 2014. Jim Morrill Jr. left the gate with Sassa Hanover from post five in the $35,867 division and dropped in third behind the early leader Devil Child (Jimmy Whittemore) and the pocket sitting Yes You Can (Mike Whelan). But when they headed up the backside for the first time, Morrill quickly came out and overtook the leader by the quarter in :28.1 and at that point, the race was over. Sassa Hanover got to the half in :57.1 and the three-quarters in 1:26.2 and from there her only adversary was the clock. Morrill popped the plugs past the last station and the slick-gaited filly paced her hips off down the lane in a :28 flat last quarter and the record breaking final time of 1:54.2. Sassa Hanover paid $2.10 for the win. Devil Child (American Ideal-Kattimon) was second and Yes You Can (If I Can Dream-Cantbuymehappiness) was third. This was the fifth win in six starts for Sassa Hanover and it boosted her bank account to $125,992 for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, The Panhellenic Stable Corp, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Lawrence Karr. In the first $35,167 division, Mosquito Blue Chip (Bettor's Delight-Sandfly Hanover) made it two in a row for trainer Paul Jessop and driver Jim Morrill Jr. but not without a tenuous ending. My Little Delight (Mark MacDonald) left swiftly in the four horse field and spearheaded fractions of :27.4, :58.2 and 1:28.4. But the action picked up at the three-quarters when Pop The Tags (Brent Holland) came with a rush to challenge the front running filly around the turn and down the stretch. However when the rail opened up as the group straightened out, Mosquito Blue Chip buzzed through the gap and nipped the leader at the wire by a half-length in 1:56.3. The heavy 2-5 favorite returned $2.80 for the win. My Little Delight (Bettor's Delight-My Little Dragon) was second and Pop The Tags (Bettor's Delight-Breathe) was third. It was the second win in seven starts for Mosquito Blue Chip, pushing her annual income to $101,302 for owners Our Three Sons Stable LLC, Donato Falchicchio and Paul Jessop. The final $35,867 division was as good as it could be for Bettor N Better (Bettor's Delight-Vanite Semalu) as she won easily in her preferred front-running style. This was the second NYSS win on the night for trainer Ron Burke and the third for driver Jim Morrill Jr. Off the wings, One Hot Majorette (Mike Saftic) flew right to the front from post six and crossed over by the eighth pole. Jim Morrill Jr. played give-and-go with Bettor N Better off the rail and retook the front as soon as they straightened out up the backside. But Heavenly Bride (Mark MacDonald) was immediately at her again and established the third lead change as they passed the quarter in :29. Morrill, not content to sit in second, once again pulled Bettor N Better at the top of the stretch and retook the lead once more before they hit the half in :58. From there the race was Bettor N Better's to be won. She took the group to the three-quarters in 1:27.4 before On Hot Majorette came back for one more challenge. That was quickly rebuffed and Bettor N Better paced away down the stretch to a length and a half victory in 1:56. The winner returned $2.10. Heavenly Bride (Rock N Roll Heaven-Native Bride) was second and Heavens Legacy (Rock N Roll Heaven-Unique Legacy) was third. That was the fourth win in six starts for Bettor N Better and pushed her earnings to $117,125 for owners Our Horse Sense Stable and Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. Jim Morrill Jr. put on a driving clinic, scoring five wins and three seconds on the night. He was employing incremental positioning in many races where he made several moves within the mile to improve his horse's location during the race and the strategy was paying off. Morrill is the leading NYSS driver this year and has been annually for some time. In 2014, horses he drove have won 41 NYSS races and earned in excess of $1.6 million in those contests. After the races, Morrill spoke glowingly of all his charges. "Sassa Hanover is a very, very nice filly. She didn't really get over the track that well tonight but we got the job done anyway. She will definitely be one to beat in the final at Yonkers. Mosquito Blue Chip drew well and then had the race set up perfect for her. When the rail opened up, she sprinted to wire and got across. And Bettor N Better is just a sweet heart, but she is very professional too. We were on cruise control the entire mile." There were also three divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card that offered a total of $36,000 in purses. The first $12,600 division was won by Moremercy Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mercy Mercy Mercy) who is trained by Julie Miller and was driven by Chris Lems. The winner paid $4.70. Moremercy Blue Chip is owned by the Andy Miller Stable and the Pinske Stable. The second $12,600 leg was won by Rock My world (Rock N Roll Heaven-Love The Game) who is trained by Ed Hart and was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. She returned $4.20 for the win. Rock My world is owned by Jeffrey Snyder. The third $12,700 split went to Hey Kobe (Bettor's Delight-American West) who is trained by Jean Drolet and was driven by John Plutino. The victor returned $8.10. Hey Kobe is owned by Stephen Schneider, William Siegel and Marthe Drolet. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 29) with post time set at 6:35. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---In the sixth of eight New York Sire Stakes visits for 2014, three divisions of first-year female pacers go postward on Wednesday night (Aug. 25) in pursuit of $106,901 in purses. Races one, four and eight will feature the best distaff side-wheelers bred in the state. The track record of 1:54.4 set by Barefoot Beauty in 2013 definitely has a target on it as many of the entrants are more than capable of a similar mile and will be taking a big shot. In the first race, Mosquito Blue Chip (Bettor's Delight-Sandfly Hanover) is coming off three sharp efforts, and most recently got her first lifetime win in 1:55 at Yonkers last week. She hasn't missed a purse check all year and that has made her the top money winner in the race with $83,718. The Paul Jessop trained filly will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr. The royally-bred My Little Delight (Bettor's Delight-My Little Dragon) scored a lifetime mark at Vernon Downs two starts back in 1:52.3 and came up just a head short to Mosquito Blue Chip last week. Mark MacDonald gets the nod from trainer Noel Daley for the Third Straight week and MacDonald has been on fire in each of his Batavia visits this year. The outside post in the short field should have no effect on this talented 2-year-old. Pop The Tags (Bettor's Delight-Breathe) steps back up to NYSS action after winning three in a row in Excelsior action. She has one start in the top series this year but with disappointing results. But Pop The Tags is in a good spot here to utilize her front running speed for driver Brent Holland who was at the lines in her last three efforts for trainer Erv Miller. The fourth race features the 2-5 heavy favorite Sassa Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mango Hanover) from the powerful Ron Burke Stable. After reeling off four consecutive wire to wire NYSS wins that includes her lifetime mark of 1:52.2 at Vernon, Sassa Hanover, who is currently second in the point's standings, came up just a nose short to Mosquito Blue Chip in her last start at Yonkers. Her $108,085 in earnings and four victories for the year surpasses her competitor's combined totals for each category and she looks to add to those numbers tonight. Jim Morrill Jr., who last sat behind her in a 1:56.3 win at Monticello Raceway on July 4, takes the lines from Yannick Gingras this week. Devil Child (American Ideal-Kattimon) has yet to win a NYSS race but missed doing so twice this year by a combined total of only one and three-quarters lengths. After scoring an easy win at Vernon in an overnight last week, she may just be brave enough now to track Sassa Hanover from the rail and have the best shot of challenging her in the lane. Jimmy Whittemore is up for trainer Homer Hochstetler. The third division in the eighth race has another Ron Burke pupil pegged as the 4-5 morning line choice. Bettor N Better (Bettor's Delight-Vanite Semalu) has three wins and two seconds in five lifetime starts, all of which were NYSS events. Her lifetime mark is a 1:55 effort at Saratoga but she just got beat at Vernon in a 1:52.3 clocking over the big track. She seems to thrive on the front end and tonight from the rail with Jim Morrill Jr. aboard, she seems to be set up for success. Our Hot Majorette (Art Major-She's So Hot) raced off a two-week layoff last week at Yonkers and managed to show well. But to see what this filly is really capable of you must look at her effort on July 22, also at Yonkers. She followed the top New York 2-year-old filly Band Of Angels, and just missed winning. She finished second, beaten only half a length in 1:54.4, last quarter in :26.4. If she is able to regain that form in here, the favorite could be beaten. Mike Saftic makes a very rare Batavia Downs appearance on the call from trainer Eric Adams. There are also three divisions of the Excelsior series on the card going for a total of $38,000. They are programmed as races seven, nine and ten. Post time for Batavia Downs Wednesday night races is 6:35. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 22, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Opens--a handicap for harness racing distaff pacers and a blind draw all socially-acceptable trotters--were won by odds-on numbers Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton, $3.70) and Bee A Magician (Brian Sears, $3.10). From penultimate post position No. 6, Robin Cruiser was in the game early, yielding to outside assignee Summertime Lea (George Brennan). just after a 27-second opening quarter-mile. Social Scene (Sears) was away third. After a 55-second half and before a 1:23.3 three-quarters, "Lea" was getting only mile pressure from a first-up Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett). The lead was length-and-a-quarter into the lane. However, she tired mid-stretch, passed on the inside by Robin Cruiser and on the outside by a fast-closing Crazy on You (Brent Holland). The former beat the latter by a neck in 1:52.3, with Summertime Lea, the filly Fanticipation (Larry Stalbaum) and Krispy Apple rounding out the payees. For Robin Cruiser, a 5-year-old homebred daughter of Yankee Cruiser owned by Pinske Stables and trained by Julie Miller, it was her sixth win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $74.50, with the triple returning $345.50. ...and then there was the week's featured trot, where the name above the marquee was one Bee A Magician. The reigning Harness Horse of the Year, in her first Westchester work night-and just third career half-mile excursion-took to the four turns like a veteran. Winning the draw, she allowed the 2013 Yonkers Trot champ Dewycolorintheline (Stratton) to throw the first salvo. Bee A Magician then secured the lead after a :28.1 first station. From there, a waltz--around :59.3 middle half (:58.4 intermission, 1:27.4) gave the lass three lengths in and out of the final turn. Millionaire four times over Arch Madness (Trond Smedshammer) was the first to move, trotting in place from fourth before Somebody As (Dan Dube) tried his luck advancing modestly from third. A :27.1 chaser closed the sale by 3¾ lengths in 1:55...a new track record for her division. Somebody As won the scrum for second, with "Dewy," Tober (Bartlett) and Arch Madness rounding out the payees For Bee A Magician, a 4-year-old daughter of Kadabra trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners David McDuffee, Mel Hartman and Herb Liverman, she's now 2-for-8 this season (career 29-for-38 with earnings a shade under $2.5 million) "She handled the track perfectly, and I'm hoping she returns," Sears said of the first HOY to race here after winning the award since Gallo Blue Chip (won HOY in 2000, raced here twice in '03). The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Batavia, NY---Perfect weather and a lightning fast track provided record-breaking conditions for Buen Camino and trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer and the pair did not disappoint. They were never headed in a $55,500 division of the New York Sire Stakes on Wednesday night (Aug. 20) at Batavia Downs and rewrote history. In an uncharacteristic move, Smedshammer sent Buen Camino out of the gate and put him right on the point; something the 2-year-old had never done before. But it wasn't done by accident; his driver had a plan. Smedshammer said after the race "It was time to put him on the front end. He was very good tonight." And perhaps very good was an understatement. After cutting fractions of :29.3, :59.4 and 1:29.2, Buen Camino pulled away from the pack while motoring in a :28.3 final panel to post a lifetime mark of 1:58 flat, which was also a new track record at Batavia Downs for 2-year-old trotting geldings. Post time favorite Gabe The Bear Dean (Ray Schnittker) got caught second over in a dull outer flow behind Andy Ray (Brent Holland) and followed that one to the top of the last turn before tipping three deep. But by that time it was too late as Buen Camino had opened up three and was cruising for the wire. Insomniac (Jason Bartlett) who skirted the pylons during the mile caught second and Mambo Blue Chip (Jeff Gregory) closed well to be third. The winner paid $22.40. This was the second win in only four lifetime starts for Buen Camino (Cash Hall-Baby Bella) and it boosted his earnings to $64,722 for owner Wanda Polisseni of the Purple Haze Stable LLC. After the race, Polisseni said "He's been a nice horse since day one but he's had some bad trips along the way. Trond really likes him and we're both very optimistic for next year." In the other $54,500 division, Tidquist (Conway Hall-Appomattox Lady) captured his first lifetime win in a convincing wire-to-wire, 1:59.4 victory for driver Mike Simons. Shooting quickly off the wings, Tidquist took a powerful four-length lead to the quarter pole where most of the field had trouble keeping up with him. After marking the first three stations in :30.1, 1:01.2 and 1:31.1, Royal Deceptor (Michael Mc Givern) who had been tracking him second, finally got close and pulled to challenge at the top of the lane. But Tidquist had another idea and turned on the speed to fly home in a sparkling :28.3 final quarter to win by a widening length and a quarter. Royal Deceptor hung on for second and Wings of Royalty (Chris Lems) was third. Overlooked by the bettors, the winner paid $27.60. The win was the first in six lifetime starts for Tidquist and was responsible for the bulk of his $33,196 in earnings for owners Robert Brooks, Jana Bowen, John Buettner and Charlene Long. Tidquist is trained by Jeffrey Long. There were also three divisions of the Excelsior Series that went for a total of $38,000. Abir Hanover (Credit Winner-Are You Ready) captured the first $12,600 division in 2:01.2 for trainer Paul Kelley and driver Jason Bartlett and paid $4.60. Abir Hanover is owned by Paul Kelley, W.J. Donovan and Theodore Gewertz. Lucky Pablo (Lucky Chuck-Classical Princess) won the second $12,700 split, also in 2:01.2 for trainer/driver John Stark Jr. and paid $24.00. Lucky Pablo is owned by Edmund Smith, Crawford Farms LLC, James Giannuzzi and David Smith. And in the third session, Crazshana (Crazed-Keystone Shana) won the $12,700 contest in 2:00.2 for trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer and paid $3.50. Crazshana is owned by the Purple Haze Stable LLC. The Purple Haze Stable sent out three winners on the evening and drivers Trond Smedshammer and Mark MacDonald both had driving triples. Racing resumes on Friday (Aug. 22) at Batavia Downs with a 12 race card that has a 6:35 post time.   Tim Bojarski

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - When more than $6.8 million of career class and cash hit town, notice is summarily taken. Such is the case Friday night, with Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Trot enhanced by the presence of Bee A Magician and Arch Madness. Bee A Magician, the reigning Harness Horse of the Year, won the draw as she makes her local debut and just her third career half-mile track start (two at Flamboro in 2012). The 4-year-old daughter of Kadabra, driven by Brian Sears, is trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners David McDuffee, Mel Hartman and Herb Liverman. After a 17-for-17, $1.5 million season a year ago, Bee A Magician has a win and five seconds in seven tries this season ($154,704). The career bankroll is in excess of $2.4 million. Despite her lack of small-track experience, "I have no reason to think she won't handle it," Norman said. "I'm probably gonna tighten up some of her equipment a bit, but that's about it. "It should be a good test for her. She needed a race (out 20 days since her last start), we're planning to race her on the half at Delaware (Ohio) next month, and perhaps we can come back for the (details to be announced) Invitational Trot here (late October)." "She trots the turns well, so I don't see a problem," Sears said. "We can play at by ear and see the race unfolds." According to the U.S. Trotting Association's Anne Chunko, Bee A Magician is the first Horse of the Year to race here after winning the award since Gallo Blue Chip (HOY in 2000, raced here twice in '03). With a mere $4.2 million in lifetime loot, Arch Madness makes just his second Westchester visit (an eight-hole break in a 2009 Open Handicap Trot). He drew post position No. 3 for trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer. The 10-year-old Balanced Image gelding, who could also be a Invitational candidate, is Long Island co-owned by Marc Goldberg and Willow Pond LLC. With 35 wins in 117 career starts, there's not much room left on this resume. The remainder of Friday night's overstuffed co-feature (8h race, approx. post time 9:30 PM) includes...2-Sombody As (Dan Dube), 4-Tober (Jason Bartlett), 5-Theraputic (George Brennan) 6-Dewycolorintheline (Jordan Stratton), 7-Coraggioso (Eric Carlson) and 8-Obrigado (Brent Holland). "Dewy" won the 2013 Yonkers Trot, while Coraggioso was the 2012 New York Sire Stakes (3-year-old colt/gelding) champ. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 15, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Open Handicaps-for distaff pacers and all duly-licensed trotters--were won by the odds-on harness racing duet of Yagonnakissmeornot (Dan Dube, $3.80) and NF Happenstance (Brian Sears, $3.30). Yagonnakissmeornot, generously assigned post position No. 5, was thus put in play early. She was the first leader, then giving it up to Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton) before a :26.4 opening quarter-mile. After a :55.3 intermission, Virgin Mary (Eric Goodell) moved first-up from sixth. That one actually had about a head in front of the leader passing the 1:24.1 three-quarters, with Monkey on My Wheel (Sears) second-up. However, "Robin" fought back and fought back, though she could not stall a late surge by "Yagonnakissme." The people's choice snuck past, winning by a neck in 1:52.1, Monkey on My Wheel, Virgin Mary and Classy Lane Rose (Brent Holland) rounded out the payees. For Yagonnakissmeornot, a 5-year-old daughter of The Panderosa co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard and Kapildeo Singh, it was her ninth win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $11.60, with the triple (two wagering favorites in order) returning $33.80. The week's marquee trot saw newly-sold NF Happenstance pay immediate dividends. Assigned post No. 4, she and Lorenzo Dream (Eric Carlson) alternated through early intervals of :28.1 and :58. The favorite retook before the half, then saw Bingo Queen (Brent Holland) try it first-up. That one offered mild grief in and out of a 1:26.3 three-quarters. NF Happenstance opened a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn, then rebuffed a closing "Lorenzo" by a head in 1:55.2. Bingo Queen held third, with Tober (Jason Bartlett) and Harbor Point (Dube) claiming the minor awards. For NF Happenstance, a 4-year-old daughter of SJ's Caviar owned by William Weaver and trained by Noel Daley, she's now 9-for-20 this season. The exacta paid $11, the triple returned $90 and the superfecta paid $331.50. Also Friday. 92-1 bomb Cosmicpedia (Dube) lit up the to the tune of $187 when he won the $16,000, seventh race pace. That number led a $1,048 exacta (Superbowl Party second) and $3,624 triple (Aussie Reactor A third). Later on, there was "only" a 51-1 winner...Be Pacific (Goodell, $105.50) in the $18,000, 10th race pace. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

Although Crazshana's 2:00 victory was topped by two others on the afternoon card, still that clocking established a new Monticello Raceway track record for freshmen trotting geldings at Monticello Raceway when Trond Smedshammer drove him to a 2:00 victory in a division of the Excelsior "B" Series of the New York Sire Stakes on Monday, August 11. The altered son of Crazed-Keystone Shana, owned by the Purple Haze Stable, finished three lengths ahead of Mythology Blue Chip (Mark MacDonald) and was one tick faster than the former standard of 2:00.1 set by Donttellmywife in 2006. In all, nine divisions of 2 year old trotting colts and geldings, in both the New York Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series, were featured that afternoon and the colts who won their NYSS splits were most impressive, each winning rather handily. Gabe The Bear Dean's 1:58.4 victory was the fastest of the three while Mambo Blue Chip scored in 1:59.3, and in his first lifetime start Sugarmakesmecrazy was victorious in 2:00.2. Ray Schnittkker guided Gabe The Bear Dean, a son of Lucky Chucky-Madam Hooch, to a four-length triumph in 1:58.4 in the first $35,867 NYSS split. They finished just two ticks slower than Fashion Blizzard's 1:58.2 track record two years ago. Although Gabe the Bear Dean was abetted by breaking colts early in the mile still the powerful youngster needed no ulterior assistance as he trotted unchallenged through fractions of :29.2,:59.3,1:29.2 before finishing four lengths ahead of the Brent Holland -driven Andy Ray. A $105,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg, it was the fourth victory in six seasonal starts for Gabe The Bear Dean who now has nearly $75,000 for co-owner Ray Schnittker and the Minix Stable. "He's a nice colt and does everything right," Schnittker said about Gabe The Bear Dean, and then added: "He's got a big motor, too. Sent off at odds of 2-1 Gabe The Bear Dean paid $6.20 for win Mal and Janet Burroughs were on hand to watch Jeff Gregory drive their Mambo Blue Chip to a 1:59.3 triumph over Insomniac and Mark MacDonald in another $35,876 NYSS spilt and that had Burroughs smiling...and chirping. "I've missed the Hambletonian the last few years but this guy (Mambo Blue Chip) is gonna get us back there next year," said Burroughs, only the second amateur driver to win the famed Hambletonian. (He won the 2006 edition with Malabar Man while Harrison Hoyt was the other when he won with Demon Hanover in 1948). Trainer Linda Toscano had Jeff Gregory again drive Mambo Blue Chip and he responded with their third victory together. Understandably, Gregory was all smiles when he spoke of the colt's attributes. "He a smart colt and handles like an aged horse. Yeah, we got a good trip but he knew just what to do when he saw daylight in the stretch." After traveling along in third position from the start and still in third place at the top of the lane, when Gregory had room in the stretch he aimed Mambo Blue Chip toward freedom and the colt responded with a one length triumph. Mambo Blue Chip, a $40,000 yearling purchase was second choice in the betting and returned a $4.40 win mutuel. As impressive as any of the other colts was Sugarmakesmecrazy. Racing for the first time for money off just one qualifying start at the Meadowlands where he was beaten a nose in 1:58.1, he breezed to a wire to wire two-length victory in a time of 2:00.2 and kept favored Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer) at bay. Asked why the colt hadn't started earlier Svanstedt said; "He's so big that he had problems" as he pointed to the colt's right hind ankle and foot. "He's a good trotter now but he will be a very good 3-year-old." An $80,000 yearling purchase, the son of Crazed-Maple Frosting, paid $4.80 for win. He is owned by Mellby Gard, Inc. The supporting undercard featured three freshman trots in the Excelsior "A" Series and three in the Excelsior "B" Series. Besides Crazshana's 2:00 victory other Excelsior winners included; Deadhead Royalty, 2:04.1 (Howard Okusko), Abir Hanover, 2:04.2 (Jason Bartlett), Lucic, 2:04.2 (Steve Smith), Lucky Bud, 2:01.1 (Homer Hockstetler) and Titanium, 2:01.2 (Jason Bartlett) In all, a total of 11 of the 13 races were for trotters on that Monday and Shortest Distance, driven by Jimmy Taggart, Jr. won in 1:57 and scored her 17th victory of the season. She now has drawn even with Diamond Tiara as the harness horses with the most wins in North America this season. -John Manzi

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