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Plainville, MA --- The extreme heat that caused the postponement of Monday's (July 27) card at Plainridge Park had somewhat subsided when the harness racing horses took the track on Tuesday (July 28) to contest those deferred races and several stellar performances were put forth by both man and beast. There were a pair of $10,000 condition paces that were featured on Tuesday and both winners followed similar come-from-behind routes. In the first co-feature, Touch Of Dragon (Kevin Swtizer Jr.) got away sixth behind a fast :26.3 quarter set by the favored Pure Sunshine (Ron Cushing). As the race moved past the grandstand, Switzer tipped Touch Of Dragon and motored up the outside and drew alongside Pure Sunshine by the top of the stretch. From there, Touch Of Dragon responded favorably to moderate urging from Switzer and paced away to the wire where he won by three lengths in 1:53.4, which was a new lifetime mark.   Touch Of Dragon ($11.20) got his second win in six 2020 starts for owners Michele Nelson, Walter Hight and Jeffery Foss. Joe Nelson trains the winner. Then later in the card, Tucker Creek (Drew Monti) floated out from post eight and dropped in fourth while Mcbeantown (Drew Campbell) led the group to the quarter in :26.3. Positions remained the same until just before the half when Monti pulled Tucker Creek first-up and pulled alongside Mcbeantown at the three-quarters. At that point Monti just raised the lines, tapped the bike shaft once and Tucker Creek motored home on cruise control to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:53.1.   It was the second consecutive win for Tucker Creek ($3.20) and owners Joe Hayes Jr. And Paul Paoletti. Jimmy Nickerson is the trainer. Another participant who had consecutive wins was driver Drew Monti who scored a natural grand slam in races four, five, six and seven. Besides the already mentioned Tucker Creek, Monti also won with American Fighter (1:57.3, $14.80), What A Hooligan (1:55, $3.20) and Worth Watching (1:56.1, $14.00). Not to be outdone, Bruce Ranger also had a big day in the bike, winning three races with Plus One (1:52.3, $5.80), Hollywood Deemon (1:58.4, $17.60) and Maui (1:54, $3.20). The 1:54 win by Maui (Bettor's Delight-Barbara Ann), who is Massachusetts-bred and stake eligible, set a new track record for a 2-year-old pacing gelding, breaking the record of R Maddy Blue Chip set just last year. Maui is owned by KDK Standardbreds and trained by Kevin Switzer. After only eight cards of racing so far this year, there have already been four track records broken at The Ridge. There was an instant jackpot in the Wicked Hi-5 wager in the sixth race where a 20-cent ticket on the combination of 3-5-2-1-9 returned a whopping $14,603.70. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (July 30) with post time at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- Manchego put on a display of devastating speed in a gate to wire victory in the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot at Plainridge Park on Sunday (July 26) and set a new world record for aged trotting mares over a 5/8th's mile track when she tripped the timer in 1:49.3. Manchego broke her own world record of 1:50.1 set at Hollywood Dayton Raceway in 2019. The time also smashed the all-age track trotting record at Plainridge Park, besting the 1:51.2 set by JL Cruze in the 2017 Spirit Trot. Dexter Dunn had Manchego revved up off the gate and shot right for the lead with Atlanta (Yannick Gingras) dropping in the pocket from post seven as the race passed the quarter in a blistering :25.2. The field remained in single file as Manchego marched to the half in :53.3 and the three-quarters in 1:21 with Atalanta in deliberate pursuit. As the pair trotted away from the field around the last turn, Gingras pulled Atlanta off the pylons to take her best shot at the leader. But as soon as she pulled, Manchego accelerated, opened up two lengths and proceeded to the wire under no urging at all to win wrapped-up by 2-1/2 lengths. Atlanta held on for second and Run Director (David Miller) closed fast to finish third.   It was the 31st career win for Manchego ($3.00) and it pushed her lifetime earnings to over $2,342,705. The 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic is owned by Black Horse Racing and is trained by Nancy Takter. One race earlier in the $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace, Shartin N made herself right at home again at Plainridge as she broke the all-age track record that she set here just last year. Tim Tetrick put Shartin N on the point immediately as Kissin In The Sand (Yannick Gingras) left from post four and followed closely with the two-hole trip. After the quick :26.2 quarter and with no pressure at all, Tetrick backed down the second panel to :28.1 and the race seemed well in control for him at that point. By the five-eighths, Gingras pulled Kissin In The Sand and tried to draw alongside Shartin N, but never got closer than a length around the far turn. Tetrick eased the lines a bit and gave Shartin N her head and the mare swelled up down the lane, opening up 2-1/4 lengths in a :27 flat last panel and won in 1:48.1. Stablemate Soho Burning Love A (Jordan Stratton) rallied late to finish second and 38-1 shot Philly Hanover (Dexter Dunn) completed the board.   The time was a new all-age track record at Plainridge Park which was set last year in this same stake by Shartin N when she cruised home in 1:49.1, and it was only one-fifth of a second off the world record of 1:48 for an aged pacing mare over a five-eighths mile track that is co-held by her and Somwherovrarainbow. This was the 44th career victory for Shartin N ($2.60) who has now earned $2,244,946 for owners Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King and Tim Tetrick. The 7-year-old daughter of Tintin In America-Bagdarin is trained by Jim King Jr. By Tim Bojarski, for Plainridge Park  

Plainville, MA --- Some of the best harness racing handicappers in the business give their selections for the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace that will be held at Plainridge Park on Sunday (July 26). Gordon Waterstone - Associate Editor - The Horseman And Fair World Spirit Of Massachusetts Trot 7-Atlanta 4-Manchego 6-Lindy The Great Even though Manchego gets a post edge in this battle, I believe Atlanta is a whisker better, so she'll get my nod in the photo finish.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 4-Kissin In The Sand 3-Soho Burning Love A Shartin N missed a start with a tender foot and that was likely the reason behind a narrow loss last time out to a horse that came up the pylons.   Dave Brower - Meadowlands oddsmaker, handicapper and broadcaster Spirit Of Massachusetts Trot 4-Manchego 2-Eurobond 7-Atlanta Manchego figures to take her turn in this epic rivalry with Atlanta this year. I think she's more versatile on the smaller-size track and I just don't see the Takter-trained duo giving up their post position advantage.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 3-Soho Burning Love A 4-Kissin In The Sand Shartin N is pretty hard to go against, after that needed "tightener" in the Dorothy Haughton at M1. She raced her eyeballs out and came up a little bit short. The inner post makes all the difference.   Derick Giwner - Editor - The Daily Racing Form Harness Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 4-Manchego 6-Lindy The Great 7-Atlanta Manchego should take charge and never look back.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 4-Kissin In The Sand 3-Soho Burning Love A Shartin N wasn't quite herself in the Haughton; makes amends.   Lenny Calderon - Race Announcer - Plainridge Park Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 4-Manchego 7-Atlanta 5-Lindy The Great Manchego has been outstanding in all four starts this year with her only loss coming at the hands of arch-rival Atlanta. This aged miss can make no mistakes and should prove best in the drive to wire.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 4-Kissin In The Sand 3-Soho Burning Love A Shartin N is one classy lady who should be up to the task in defending her title.   Ken Warkentin - Race Announcer - Meadowlands Racetrack Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 4-Manchego 7-Atlanta 2-Eurobond Two-time Dan Patch Award & Breeders Crown winner & fastest female trotter in history, Manchego tuned up with an easy Miss Versatility leg. She's tough when in control.   Clara Barton Pace 3-Soho Burning Love A 4-Kissin In The Sand 2-Shartin N The fresh and hot stablemate of Shartin N has emerged as a deadly closer at The Big M. She won't be far off to collar the speed. Bob "Hollywood" Heyden - Freelance Racing Statistical Authority Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 4-Manchego 7-Atlanta 1-Joey Bats The best current rivalry continues. Post position may decide many of these as they vie for the biggest pot since the TVG.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 3-Soho Burning Love A 4-Kissin In The Sand Shartin N comes in off a huge effort after missing a start. No pacer has gone back to back HOY since Cam Fella 1982-83. Ken Weingartner - USTA Media Relations Manager Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 4-Manchego 7-Atlanta 6-Lindy The Great Not much separates Manchego and Atlanta, so it might come down to post position and trip.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 4-Kissin In The Sand 5-Trillions Hanover Shartin N just missed in the Dorothy Haughton after a minor foot issue and should return to her winning ways here.   Garnet Barnsdale - Public Handicapper for the Daily Racing Form Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 7-Atlanta 4-Manchego 6-Lindy The Great Atlanta will likely offer the better price of the two super mares due to post position.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 3-Soho Burning Love A 4-Kissin In The Sand Shartin N returns in eight days this time and it is very doubtful she will be picked off late again.     Michael Carter - USTA Social Media Publicity Coordinator Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 6-Altanta 4-Manchego 3-Muscle M Up Atlanta kicked off her five-year-old campaign with a game second place finish in the Miss Versatility to rival Manchego. She has since won two straight including the Cutler against the boys at The Meadowlands.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 4-Kissin In The Sand 3-Soho Burning Love A Shartin N made her first start after injuring herself at Yonkers on June 30. She was game in defeat in the Dorothy Haughton but don't hold that loss against her.She is a tough mare who may have just needed a start off the bench.   Tim Bojarski - Publicist and Handicapper at Plainridge Park Spirit of Massachusetts Trot 4-Manchego 7-Atlanta 6-Lindy The Great Manchego gets a slight nod over Atlanta for me as she is back in to go in a week where Atlanta has had 15 days off. It's that close.   Clara Barton Pace 2-Shartin N 4-Kissin In The Sand 3-Soho Burning Love A This race is all about speed and with only six drawn in, it's wide open. In that even of a field I will take Shartin N every time.   Consensus: Spirit of Massachusetts Trot-Manchego, Atlanta, Lindy The Great Clara Barton Pace-Shartin N, Kissin In The Sand, Soho Burning Love A   By Tim Bojarski, for Plainridge Park  

Plainville, MA --- When the Grand Circuit makes its midsummer stop in Massachusetts on Sunday (July 26), the top three aged mares currently competing in the sport, all who are multi-million dollar winners, will be on hand to compete in the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace at Plainridge Park. The much anticipated third round of the year between Atalanta and Manchego will take place in the Spirit and little separates the two coming into the race after each claiming one win in head-to-head competition. In their first meeting in the $40,000 Ms. Versatility at the Meadowlands on June 19, Atlanta and Manchego got away third and fifth respectively before Yannick Gingras pulled Atlanta and Dexter Dunn followed with Manchego. Atlanta cleared past the quarter and Manchego took control from her by the half. The pair remained one-two until they hit the stretch when Gingras tipped Atlanta and methodically gained ground on Manchego as both drivers heavily urged their mounts. When they hit the wire they were side by side and it took a photo to separate them by a nose, with Manchego getting the nod in 1:50 flat. The win time is the fastest trotting mile of the year to this point. The second meeting came two weeks later on July 4 in the $170,900 Cutler Memorial, also at M1. Atlanta and Manchego both gunned the gate and sprinted away in tandem from the field of 11 to a very hot first quarter of :25.4. Manchego was finally able to clear at that point but Atalanta was right on her back. Chin Chin Hall (Brian Sears) engaged Manchego past the half and pushed her through a 1:23.1 third quarter and around the far turn. Atlanta, who was sitting in the pocket, was able to get out at the top of the lane and tip three-deep turning for home. Atlanta drew even with Manchego in deep stretch and eventually was able to run her down at the wire to win by only 1/2 length in 1:50.1. That time is the second fastest trotting mile of the year (tied with Guardian Angel As). Despite this marquee match up, the 2020 Spirit Trot field has other very strong competitors who can definitely have an effect on the outcome of the race, making this a very bettable event. Lindy The Great (Andy Miller) has yet to win this year but has suffered bad luck in the draws with two consecutive eight holes, forcing him into two hellacious overland trips. However he has still performed outstanding despite those disadvantages, finishing second and third in those races. In the Cutler he was beaten only 1-1/4 lengths by Atalanta and Manchego after being parked out the entire mile. Manchego's stablemate Eurobond (Tim Tetrick) is coming off a powerful 1:51.2 win at Harrah's Philadelphia on July 5 and seems to be peaking at the right time for this race. He has a lifetime best outing of 1:50.1 last year at the Meadowlands and clearly has the ability to contend with these. Joey Bats (Andrew McCarthy) could be a big sleeper here after finishing only 2-3/4 lengths behind the favorites in the Cutler. He had a favorable draw (post one) and McCarthy has already pulled an upset in this stake when he followed fast fractions and snuck up the inside to win 2017 Spirit with JL Cruze at 60-1. Shartin N will make her second trip to the Commonwealth to defend her crown after she won the inaugural Barton in 2019. In that race, Tim Tetrick put Shartin N on the point and went gate to wire, uncontested and under a strong hold to win in 1:49.1, smashing the all time Plainridge track record. This year Shartin N started out winning two straight and taking an early season's mark of 1:50 at Dover Downs before being sidelined with a foot injury. After 18 days off she returned to the Meadowlands on July 18 in the $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial and put in a huge effort, falling short by only a neck. In a first-over trip engaging the front running Kissin In The Sand (Yannick Gingras), Shartin N took the lead in mid-stretch but tired in the final strides to finish second behind Major Occasion (Dexter Dunn) who rallied gamely up the pylons. With that start under her belt, she remains the horse to beat on Sunday and Tetrick will have her on her toes. Kissin In The Sand was pushed extremely hard every step of the mile in that Haughton start and still tired only late. In her first outing of 2020 she scorched the Meadowlands, going gate to wire in a lifetime best 1:47.4, which is also the fastest pacing mile of the year to date. Shartin N's stablemate Soho Burning Love A (Jordan Stratton) won back-to-back races in 1:48.4 and 1:48.1 before finishing third in the Haughton, right between the two morning line favorites. This mare has paced home in :25.4 three times this year and will be in a position to upset. Another mare to watch is Trillions Hanover (George Brennan) who has also exhibited great closing speed. With four solid races in her last four starts, there is not much separating her from the favorites at the end of the day with a favorable trip. Kissin In The Sand, Soho Burning Love A and Trillions Hanover will give Shartin N all she can handle in this very short, six-horse field. The all-time track record on the trot at Plainridge Park is 1:51.3 set by JL Cruze and 1:49.1 on the pace by Shartin N. Both marks look to be under assault on Sunday. Post time for the first race is 2 p.m. Post time for the Clara Barton Pace is 3:20 p.m. and the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot is 3:40 p.m. Lasix schedule for Plainridge Park Sunday With the early 2 p.m. post time at Plainrdige Park on Sunday (July 26), horsemen are reminded that the Lasix schedule remains the same as other race days. Lasix horses must be on the grounds four hours before post time of their respective race and non-Lasix horses must be on the grounds three hours before post time of their respective race. Stall assignments will be available when you check in. Also please remember that the barn area will open at 8 a.m.  by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts 

Plainville, MA --- Harness racing driver Shawn Gray, trainer George Ducharme and owner Ray Campbell Jr. all pushed themselves up the statistical ladder on Friday (July 24) after each scored a grand slam at Plainridge Park. First Gray and Ducharme teamed up for a pair of victories with Dramatra ($2.80) who took an overland route to a 1-1/2 length, 1:55.3 lifetime mark win and Without A Warning ($2.80) who jogged home to a six length victory in 1:55.2.   Dramatra is owned by Ray Campbell Jr. and Al Ross while Without A Warning is owned by Campbell alone. Ducharme's other two training wins came with Wings Of Royalty ($2.20) who led the entire race before drawing off to an 18-length win in 1:53.1 for driver Drew Monti while Greyscale ($3.00) and Nick Graffam closed sharply in the lane to catch Crazy For Luca ($2.10) and Mitchell Cushing at the wire where the two finished in a dead heat. Wings Of Royalty and Greyscale are both owned by Ray Campbell Jr., closing out his four-win day while Crazy For Luca is owned by Dale Hein, Tessa Perrin and Royal Roland. Gray completed his four-bagger behind Tobasco ($8.00) who took a new lifetime mark of 1:55.4 for owner Di Stefano and Son Stable and trainer John Di Stefano and Weekend Getaway ($12.20) who paced sharply in 1:53.4 for owner Jeffrey Kaylor and trainer Joe Therrien. Dramatra, Without A Warning, Greyscale and Crazy For Luca are all 3-year-old Massachusetts-bred trotters who will compete in the Massachusetts Sire Stakes at Plainridge Park later this year. Wings Of Royalty is also a Massachusetts-bred trotter who was the MASS 3-year-old trotting colt champion in 2015 and has amassed over $880,000 in lifetime earnings to date. With the first two weeks of racing now complete at Plainridge, Drew Monti is the leading dash driver with 10 wins followed by Shawn Gray who bolted into second today, and now has nine wins. Tied for third are last year's driving champion Mitchell Cushing and Nick Graffam who have eight wins apiece. On the training side, George Ducharme went right to the top with six wins on the strength of his four win day with Mike Graffam in second place with five tallies. There are three conditioners tied for third with three wins each and they are Scott Rollins, Roger Farrar and Mark Eaton. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Sunday (July 26) with a special 2 p.m. post time and will feature the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and the $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- After being narrowly defeated in the preliminary round, Avery Seelster bounced back with a statement victory in the $20,000 Freedom Trail series final for resident harness racing pacing mares at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (July 23) after a deluge of rain delayed the races for almost 30 minutes. Trainer/driver John Nason got away fourth from the pylons and stood pat until just past the :26.4 quarter where he pulled first-over and marched towards the front-running Go Sandy Go (Nick Graffam). Avery Seelster hung third in the breeze until midway up the backstretch when the mare switched gears, advanced to the front and opened up a four length advantage. From there, Nason just kept her interested and she cruised home in 1:53 over the off track, equaling her lifetime mark.   Avery Seelster ($7.40) is owned by Katharine Nason. In the weekly $14,000 Winners-Over pacing feature, Paternity Suit A (Drew Monti) went right for the lead and never looked back en route to a convincing victory. After going quarters of :27.1, :56.1 and 1:23.2, Paternity Suit A put separation between himself and the field while opening up an eight-length gap as he motored home to win in 1:51.1 in the slop. The time was a new lifetime mark.   It was the second straight win in two North American starts for Paternity Suit A ($3.80) who is owned by Tony Gruppo and Tim Bojarski. Scott Rollins trains the winner. The Massachusetts-bred Ry's Red Rocket (Matty "Ice" Athearn) won the fourth race in 1:52.2 and broke the track record for 3-year-old pacing fillies set by Apple Bottom Jeans (1:52.3) in 2016. It was also a new lifetime mark for Ry's Red Rocket ($4.60) who will compete later this year in the Massachusetts Sire Stakes at Plainridge. Gretchen Athearn trains the winner for owner Linwood Higgins. Drew Monti, Matty "Ice" Athearn and Bruce Ranger all had two winners on the card Thursday. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (July 24) at 4 p.m. And on Sunday (July 26) the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Pace will be held at The Ridge with a 2 p.m. post. by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts 

Plainville, MA --- With the draw now complete, two short but stacked harness racing fields are set for the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace, that will be contested on Sunday (July 26) when the Grand Circuit makes a stop at Plainridge Park. The track's signature trot will see the heavyweight battle between Atlanta and Manchego renewed for the third time this year in the Spirit of Massachusetts, with each mare having won once and the two only separated by a combined half-length in those contests. Plus these mares are responsible for trotting the two fastest miles so far this year. Shartin N won the Clara Barton Pace in 2019 in track record time and will return to defend her title. Her stablemate Soho Burning Love A has posted back-to-back 1:48 wins already this year since landing from Australia, but Kissin In The Sand has paced the fastest mile by a mare overall this year (1:47.4). Tracks records are in danger across the board at The Ridge on Sunday. Here are the complete draws for both stakes: $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot - Post Time 3:40 p.m. Post Horse Driver Trainer 1 Joey Bats Andrew McCarthy Andrew Harris 2 Eurobond Gingras/Tetrick Nancy Takter 3 Muscle M Up TBD Ake Svanstedt 4 Manchego Dexter Dunn Nancy Takter 5 Run Director David Miller Andrew Harris 6 Lindy The Great Andy Miller Julie Miller 7 Atlanta Yannick Gingras Ron Burke $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace - Post Time 3:20 p.m. Post Horse Driver Trainer 1 Philly Hanover Dexter Dunn Ron Coyne 2 Shartin N Tim Tetrick Jim King Jr. 3 Soho Burning Love A Jordan Stratton Jim King Jr. 4 Kissin In the Sand Yannick Gingras Nancy Takter 5 Trillions Hanover George Brennan Tom Fanning 6 Kimberlee Dunn/Andy Miller Ake Svanstedt There are 10 races on the card with purses totaling $415,000. Post time for the first race is 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Plainridge Park  

Plainville, MA --- Owners, trainers, driver s and grooms who will be coming to Plainridge Park on Sunday (July 26) for the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace are asked to take note of the following information before coming to the track as much has changed due to state of Massachusetts regulations relating to Covid-19. The draw for Sunday (July 26) will be held on Wednesday (July 22) with the box closing at 9 a.m. Also on Wednesday, you will need to fax to the judges a 2020 negative coggins test, a 2020 EHV vaccination record and an up to date health certificate with Plainridge Park as the destination for each horse racing. There will be limited access to the administration building and as a result, anyone needing a 2020 Massachusetts racing license is urged to apply in advance. Go to the MGC website (, download the appropriate form and fax it to the judges prior to coming to Plainridge to keep the number of people who need access to the licensing office to a minimum on race day. If you are unable to do that, print and bring the completed form with a check made out to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to the track to expedite the transaction on site. The fax number for sending health certificates or licensing forms is 508.643.9624. The phone number to contact the judges direct is 508.576.4565. There is no overnight stabling on the grounds at Plainridge Park this year, so you will not be able to get into the track before Sunday morning (July 26) at 8 a.m. All horses in to go must be on the grounds no later than 11 a.m. and then get to the Lasix barn at the appropriate time for your race. All horses will have assigned stalls and must remain in those stalls until the races are over. At the conclusion of the card, all horses must then leave the grounds. No one is allowed in the paddock except for the trainer of the horse and a groom. No owners will be allowed in the paddock. Also no one will be allowed in the winner's circle after any race except the winning horse and the driver. To enter the grandstand you must go to the main casino entrance, have your temperature taken, answer a health questionnaire and then proceed to the racing side of the building. A mask must be worn upon entering Plainridge Park Casino and must be kept on the entire time you are there. Social distancing is also a requirement and will be enforced. Also due to state Covid-19 restrictions, the grandstand will be limited to a maximum of 300 people. If you are planning on attending, tickets will be available the day of the race at the program stand or from any racing services manager for $5 (limit two per person). Please note there are a number of tickets reserved for participating horsemen that day. By Tim Bojarski, for Plainridge Park

Plainville, MA --- It was 95 degrees in Plainville, Massachusetts on Monday (July 20) but the temperature wasn't the only thing that was hot at Plainridge Park. Driver Drew Monti won five of the 11 races on the card including a natural hat trick in races five, six and seven. Monti's top win came in the $20,000 featured Freedom Trail pacing final for Plainridge-based horses and geldings with Cherokee Hiflyzane. After getting away third behind the front-stepping Gd Cruise For Gold (Bruce Ranger), Cherokee Hiflyzane pulled first-over before the half, cleared on the backside and then opened up a 1-1/2 length lead at the top of the stretch. From there he held off a fast closing Mansome (Pat Curtain) down the lane and hung on to win in 1:53, which was a new seasonal mark.   It was the second win in two 2020 starts for Cherokee Hiflyzane ($4.60) who has now bankrolled $15,000 for owners Barrie Farrar and Roger Farrar, who also trains the winner. Monti rounded out his five-bagger with Tucker Creek (1:52.4, $3.60), Magic Joe Lindy (1:52.2, $2.20), Tisadream N (1:52, $3.00) and What A Hooligan (1:54, $6.20). Driver Kevin Switzer Jr. and trainer Benson Merrill each scored two wins on Monday as well. The biggest payouts of the meet so far occurred in the fourth race when 24-1 shot Western Victory (Wally Watson) steamrolled home in :28.4 to win in 1:52.2, 2-1/4 lengths ahead of 45-1 shot Commondiscourtesy (Nick Graffam). Besides the $50.20 win and $39.60 place prices, the $2 exacta combination of 6-8 paid $1,017, the $2 6-8-4 trifecta returned a whopping $18,667.20 and the $2 superfecta of 6-8-4-2 retuned $11,808.40. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (July 23) at 4 p.m. On Sunday (July 26), Plainridge Park will host the Grand Circuit featuring the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and the $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace during a special matinee card that gets underway at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- After winning back-to-back Free-for-all trots at Scarborough Downs in recent weeks, Namesmuscle ran his streak to three after scoring a gate to wire victory in the $12,000 Winners-Over harness racing feature at Plainridge Park on Friday afternoon. Leaving from post four and opening up a quick three-length advantage at the quarter, Namesmuscle (Matty Athearn) trotted along unchallenged until the half where Jericho (Shawn Gray) attacked from third and matched strides with the leader up the backstretch, to the three-quarters and all the way around the last turn. When the race hit the top of the lane, Jericho took the lead by a neck and looked as if he would maintain it. But Namesmuscle responded to heavy urging from Athearn and came back on to regain the front in mid-stretch and held off Jericho, and a very fast closing Tobasco (Drew Campbell) to trip the beam first in 1:56.1. The time was a new seasonal mark.   Namesmuscle ($5.20) is owned by William Phipps and is trained by Gretchen Athearn. Later in the card, Just Enuf Sass continued his winning ways after taking the co-featured $12,000 conditioned trotting event for 6-year-olds and under. Just Enuf Sass (Mike Stevenson) left sharply from the pylons and led the whole race by a comfortable 1-1/2 length margin. After cutting quarters of :28.3, :59.1 and 1:27.4, Stevenson hand-drove Just Enuf Sass to the wire where he won by two lengths in 1:57.2. It was the fifth straight win (going back to 2019) for Just Enuf Sass ($3.40) who is owned by Ed Flynn and Joe Flynn, who also trains the winner. Mitchell Cushing, Nick Graffam and Bruce Ranger each had two driving wins Friday while trainer Mike Graffam led all conditioners with two wins as well. After one week of racing at The Ridge, Team Graffam has been a force to be reckoned with. Nick Graffam currently tops the driver colony with seven wins and Mike Graffam is the top trainer with five wins in the bank. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (July 20) with post time at 4 p.m. Plainridge Park will present a special Sunday afternoon card on July 26 when the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace will be held. Post time for the matinee is 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- After not racing since February 8 at Menangle Park in Australia, Paternity Suit A made his North American harness racing debut a winning one after going from last to first in the $12,000 Winners-Over pace at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (July 16). Bettors Fire N (Ron Cushing) took the lead before the quarter and stepped off a quick :26.1 panel while the field lined up single file behind him. At the half, JK Will Power (Mitchell Cushing) pulled first over and started his march towards the leader with Beachchip Hanover (Kevin Switzer Jr.) on his back. Up the backstretch, it was a battle between Bettors Fire N and JK Will Power as they paced side by side past the three-quarters and into the last turn. It was there that Beachchip Hanover tipped three deep in pursuit, but Paternity Suit A (Drew Monti) who had been shuffled to last, tipped four deep as the race spiraled into the stretch and was gaining momentum. Monti tapped the disc and Paternity Suit A responded with a furious stretch drive that launched him past the field to the lead and a victory in 1:53.2. It was the third win in six starts this year for Paternity Suit A ($9.80), pushing his earnings to $19,776 in 2020. The 7-year-old gelded son of Rock n Roll Heaven is owned by Tony Gruppo and Tim Bojarski and is trained by Scott Rollins. The fillies and mares also had the spotlight on Thursday with a pair of conditioned events that saw their winners put in strong efforts. The $12,000 5-year-olds and younger event saw Rockin Ellie (Bruce Ranger) pull from sixth at the three-eighths pole and follow cover until the three-quarters where she tipped three deep into the last turn to run down the race long leader, Maverick Fiber (John Nason) to win by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2. Rockin Ellie ($5.00) is owned by Just Enough LLC and Michael Girouard, who also trains the winner. Then the $12,500 Freedom Trail series for resident Plainridge distaff pacers went to Life Isa Shortwalk (Shawn Gray) who went wire to wire from post seven to win by a nose over Avery Seelster (John Nason) in 1:55.4. Life Isa Shortwalk ($13.60) is owned and trained by Ed Blash. Several drivers had multiple win efforts on Thursday's card. Drew Campbell led all and registered a driving triple while Nick Graffam, Shawn Gray and Bruce Ranger all visited the winner's circle twice. Racing resumes on Friday (July 17) at Plainridge Park with a 12-race card that features the $12,000 Winners-Over trot scheduled to go in race five. Post time for the first race is 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- Harness racing took center stage in the Bay State for the first time since last November as Plainridge Park kicked off their 2020 live racing season on Monday (July 13). With fans watching trackside, the horses put on a solid show despite the long layoff for many entered on the day's card. The first feature of the meet was a $12,000 conditioned pacing event that was won by Victoria's Maverick, who closed with a strong brush down the lane. Victoria's Maverick (Mike Stevenson) got away second behind a headstrong Van Helsing (Matty Athearn), who took the field to the half in :56.2. It was there that Besidetheseaside A (Ron Cushing) came calling and hooked up in a duel with the leader that lasted to the head of the stretch. After taking full advantage of the pace and cover, Stevenson steered Victoria's Maverick inside the tiring Van Helsing and skirted the pylons to the wire where he won by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:55.   The win came in the first seasonal start for Victoria's Maverick ($6.80) and the purse pushed his lifetime earnings to over $250,000 in only 29 tries. The 4-year-old Massachusetts-bred gelding by Western Maverick is owned by Don Gauthier and Ralph Anderson, who also trains the winner. There were also two $10,000 divisions of the Freedom Trail series for Plainridge-based horses that both provided strong payouts. The first elimination went to Bet On Joe (Mike Stevenson) who sat the pocket behind American Rock (Jim Hardy) until the stretch where he tipped, cleared and cruised home in 1:56. Bet On Joe ($17.80) is owned by Sharon Goding and trained by Bobby Marston. The second split was won by Cherokee Hiflyzane (Drew Monti) who made a move past the five-eighths and overpowered the leading Tixnstones (Jim Hardy) around the last turn. He then held off a fast closing Mansome (Pat Curtain) at the wire to win in 1:53.4. Cherokee Hiflyzane ($10.20) is owned by Barrie Farrar and the winner's trainer, Roger Farrar. Nick Graffam was the hot driver on Monday, winning three races on the card. He blew up the tote board with Pembroke Hat Trick ($38.40) and King Royalty ($21.00) before guiding home the strongly backed Rockin Cougar ($5.60). Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (July 16) with post time at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- After a three month delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Plainridge Park will kick off its 2020 live harness racing season on Monday (July 13) with a 4 p.m. post time for the first race. The track will welcome fans back to the track that day to watch the races live, but strict safety protocols will be in place and followed to ensure the health and well being of the track's patrons and employees. Everyone will have their temperature checked upon arrival and are required to wear a mask at all times. Spectators can only gather in groups of six or less and must maintain social distancing while doing so. There will also be sanitizing stations located throughout the facility. Food and soft drinks will be available in the grandstand but they must be consumed in designated areas and no alcoholic beverages will be served at this time. The meet that was supposed to start on Monday (April 6), will now consist of 68 racing days that will be contested on Monday, Thursday and Friday afternoons with post time at 4 p.m. for all racing days. The post time will change to 2 p.m. on Thursday (September 4) and then once again to 1 p.m. on Monday (November 2). There are two exceptions to this regular schedule. Racing will be held on Sunday (July 26) at 2 p.m. when the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and Clara Barton Distaff Pace will be contested and also on Wednesday (November 25) at 1 p.m. in place of Thursday (November 26) in observance of Thanksgiving. There will be a full menu of wagering for those following the action at Plainridge whether live or via simulcast including an early and late double, exacta and trifecta in every race and superfectas offered in select races on each card. The track's Wicked Hi-5 pentafecta will also be back and joined by a brand new wager this year. The Bay State Pick-6 will debut on opening day as a 10-cent minimum wager that will begin in race three and run through race eight. On the track, all the leading drivers and trainers from 2019 will return to vie for 2020 honors. Mitchell Cushing won the dash title last year with 170 wins followed by Drew Campbell with 137 and Shawn Gray with 130. Gray finished the meet as the top money earner with $1.25 million in purses ahead of two other million dollar drivers, Cushing ($1.22) and Campbell ($1.05). Gray also had the best Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .381 ahead of Cushing (.355) and Plainridge newcomer Drew Monti (.324). Looking at the resident trainers, Jimmy Nickerson took conditioning honors after winning 58 races at the meet. Jim Hardy finished second with 47 tallies and Elisha LaFreniere was third with 40 scores. Domenico Cecere (36) and Mike Graffam (33) also had strong seasons finishing fourth and fifth. Although the meet will be abbreviated, there will still be a full schedule of stake races including a stop by the Grand Circuit in late July. Plainridge Park's signature stake, the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and sister stake, the $100,000 Clara Barton Pace for fillies and mares, will be held on Sunday (July 26) and will feature some of the best Open trotters and pacers competing in North America today. Eligibles to the Spirit include last year's winner Guardian Angel Asbalong with Atlanta, Manchego and Gimpanzee, to name only a few of the 29 top-notch trotters that are eligible. And in the Barton, last year's winner, current Plainridge track record holder and 2019 Dan Patch Horse of the Year, Shartin N will lead a field of 20 distaff pacers who are eligible to the second running of this stake. Then in September, the lucrative Massachusetts Sire Stakes will kick off and highlight the best 2- and 3-year-old Massachusetts-bred trotters and pacers around. The stake features three preliminary legs for age, gender and gait followed by finals. Last year the series total purses topped $1.8 million. Here is the complete Massachusetts Sire Stake schedule. Sunday, September 27, 2020 3-year-old first leg Monday, September 28, 2020 2-year-old first leg Sunday, October 4, 2020 3-year-old second leg Monday, October 5, 2020 2-year-old second leg Sunday, October 18, 2020 2-year-old third leg Monday, October 19, 2020 3-year-old third leg Monday, October 26, 2020 2- and 3-year-old finals For all the latest news and updates concerning racing at Plainridge Park, log on to the website at and the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts at By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- When the Massachusetts Gaming Commission gave their support to a tentative date for live harness racing to begin at Plainridge Park, it was contingent on Phase-3 of the governor's reopening plan beginning on schedule.That has not happened and the track's starting date has changed. On Friday (June 19) Governor Baker announced that he was extending Phase-2 by one week so he could get a look at two weeks of indoor dining data before making a decision on starting Phase-3. As a result, if Phase-3 does begin after that one week extension, qualifiers at Plainridge would be held on Monday (July 6) and Thursday (July 9) and then the opening day of live racing for the 2020 season would take place on Monday (July 13). Any further delay of implementing Phase-3 will also result in another delay in the racing dates listed. The condition sheets for qualifiers are now on the United States Trotting Association's website ( with a double draw to be held for those qualifiers. You must declare by 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning (July 2) for the draw for Monday (July 6) and Thursday (July 9). Horse men and women are also reminded to renew their Massachusetts racing licenses in advance of the start of live racing. With limited access to the judges office due to social distancing, it is suggested you print an application from the MGC website (, fill it out and return it with a check. MGC personnel will be working prior to the track's opening to process all applications received in order to avoid any kind of last minute rush.   By Tim Bojarski, for Plainridge Park

  Plainville, MA --- During a special meeting of the Racing Division of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission held on Tuesday (June 16), the commisioners of that board unanimously voted to allow live harness racing to begin at Plainridge Park on Monday (July 6) in accordance with the governor's phased reopening program, assuming Phase-3 begins as scheduled.   The meet which was originally slated to start in mid-April was put on hold as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.   There will be two days of qualifiers held prior to the resumption of live racing that will take place on Monday (June 29) and Thursday (July 2). Horses who have not raced within the last 45 days will be required to qualify before entering the box at Plainridge Park.   Full details on entry dates and post times will be listed on the condition sheet which will be made available next week.   A complete set of safety protocols collectively drawn up by the governor's office, the MGC, Penn Gaming, Plainridge Park and the HHANE that include items such as social distancing, wearing a mask and spacing in the paddock will also be made available to all participating horse men and women prior to the qualifiers and must be strictly adhered to.   More information pertaining to the meet will be made available as opening day draws near.   By Tim Bojarski, for Plainridge Park

As the country looks to progress in the COVID-19 reopening phase, more jurisdictions are giving race tracks the green light to start or resume their horse racing meets, albeit with restrictions to keep a second wave of coronavirus cases from happening. On Wednesday, the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) announced that Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley received permission from the Alameda County Health Department to resume racing next Thursday (May 14). On Thursday, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission announced that racing can resume as of June 14, with Indiana Grand Racing and Casino set to officially unveil the date for its opening day sometime next week, according to a track press release. It’s possible the Indiana Grand may allow fans to watch racing as soon as July 4. Last week, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice gave the state’s tracks the OK to resume racing. On Wednesday, Charles Town Races confirmed it will restart racing next Thursday. Charles Town halted its meet on March 24. I miss the team, the entire team at the track. It’s been lonely and trying months, but I promise you better times are ahead of us right now,” said Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races Vice President of Racing and Sports Operations Erich Zimmy said in a video statement posted Wednesday on Twitter. Mountaineer Park, West Virginia’s other horse track, will start its meet on May 31. Santa Anita Hopeful to Resume Next Week More tracks may soon receive permission to resume racing, including Santa Anita Park. The southern California track suspended its meet on March 27 after receiving an order from the Los Angeles County Health Department to comply with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order. Newsome initially gave that order on March 19, but racing continued at the track as questions circulated whether racing could be considered an essential business. The Stronach Group (TSG), owners of the track, stopped allowing fans to at the track on March 13. Even as Santa Anita and Golden Gate, also owned by Stronach, stopped racing, Newsom’s order was not universally applied by every county health department in California. That allowed Los Alamitos Race Course, located just 23 miles south of Santa Anita, to continue holding races because it is located in Orange County. Santa Anita last gave an update about its situation to the TOC last week. At that time, Aidan Butler, TSG’s executive director for California racing, told the owners the track was prepping for a May 15 reopening but that was contingent partially on the county letting its stay-home order expire on that date. Massachusetts Commission Extends Delay Indefinitely While some states are allowing their tracks to move forward with reopening plans, other states are still pushing their reopening schedules further into the year. On Thursday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 5-0 to extend indefinitely the suspension of harness racing at Plainridge Park Casino. Previously, the plan had been to allow racing activities to start at the track, located about 25 miles southwest of Boston, on June 1. However, in a memo to the commission, state Director of Racing Dr. Alexandra Lightbrown said that neither she nor Chris McErlean, the vice president of racing for Plainfield-owner Penn National Gaming, felt a June 1 opening was realistic considering the state’s current stay-home order has been extended to May 18. Lightbrown said that she and McErlean will review a reopening plan the state plans to release on May 18 and use that information to put together a plan for the harness track. The Harness Horsemen of New England have raised concerns about the extended delays, noting that racing – although not harness racing – is going on in several other states. In particular, the group opposes any plan that would tie the resumption of racing to the reopening of the track’s casino. However, Commissioner Gayle Cameron supported extending the postponement, noting it will be a challenge to reopen the track in a manner that’s safe for everyone. “Doesn’t mean an insurmountable challenge, but it will be a challenge,” she told her colleagues Thursday. “And I know that’s difficult for the horsemen and women to hear because they would love to get back to their livelihoods sooner rather than later. I certainly understand that, but safety is a key piece.” By Steve Bittenbender  Reprinted with permission of

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