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WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 15, 2021 — To young harness racing driver Drew Monti likes his home in Buffalo, but he also likes working regularly. Thus, the 26-year-old reinsman has decided to drive at The Meadows, even as he continues his regular schedule at Buffalo Raceway. Monti made his Meadows debut Wednesday and had four assignments the following day, although he’s idle Friday. With Buffalo now racing Wednesday and Saturday, Monti expects  to work at The Meadows each Thursday and Friday, with Wednesday doubleheaders a possibility. Monti has been something of a phenom in western New York, where he’s won a total of three driving titles spanning Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. He debuted in 2012; the very next year, the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association named him its “Rising Star.” From 2017-2019, he recorded at least 260 wins per season with a UDR of at least .301 each year. He’s won more than $11 million in purses. For all that, Monti knows that landing assignments at a new track with a deep driver colony can be a challenge. “I have a couple friends at The Meadows, a couple of ‘ins,’ and it’s not too far from home, so I thought I’d give it a try,” he said. Monti can make it to The Meadows from his home in about two hours. It’s a commute that might intimidate some, but he’s used to an even more demanding travel schedule. “I commuted to Plainridge last year — that’s six hours each way for me,” he said. “So this is a breath of fresh air.” All that highway time didn’t seem to affect his performance, as he finished second in the Plainridge driver standings. He’s looking forward to a similar outcome at The Meadows as well as networking opportunities. “I like it here,” he says. “The track and barn area are good, and they race a full schedule year round. So far, there’s nothing not to like. “I love being able to go to new places. That helps you sharpen your skills and meet new people who may help you down the road. That’s never a bad thing.” By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 14, 2021 -- Hammered down to 1-2 despite post 9, All Day Sunshine made all that money look smart as she overcame a brutal first quarter to win her third straight in Thursday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $9,100 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace. Morning Shadow stretched All Day Sunshine to a 26.4 opening panel before the 4-year-old daughter of Sunshine Beach-Mustang Kensley could cross over. But when Dan Rawlings gave her a 29.1 second-quarter breather, All Day Sunshine was home free. She scored in 1:53.2, 2-1/4 lengths better than Morning Shadow, with Dorothy's Legacy third. Paul Corey trains the winner, who boosted her career bankroll to $164,763, for Kenneth Ashba. All Day Sunshine Tony Hall, Aaron Merriman and Dave Palone each piloted three winners on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Friday when the 13-race program features a $6,726.31 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 13, 2020 — Swinging wide off excessive cover through the final turn, Jeffery P roared through the lane and captured Wednesday’s $16,200 Open Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Jeffery P raced third over down the backside, cover that he probably didn’t need because it forced him well wide in the stretch. But he had a ton of trot for Dave Palone and sailed past th pack to triumph in 1:54.4, 3/4 lengths better than his rallying stablemate, Lady’s Dude. Jessiejesorjessica completed the ticket. Ron Burke trains Jeffery P, a 6-year-old Full Count-Betty Jean gelding who lifted his career bankroll to $195,523, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Phillip Collura. Palone collected three wins on the 13-race card, including a pair for Burke. Live harness racing at The Meadows continues Thursday when the 13-race program features a $4,679.25 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 12, 2021 -- The Meadows has added a $10,000 guarantee for Wednesday's harness racing Pick 5, which begins with race 8 and features a 50-cent minimum wager. The guarantee is offered in association with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Initiative. Wednesday's 13-race card also includes two other carryovers: $3,068.87 in the final-race Super Hi-5, $2,792.64 in the Early Pick 4 (race 4). First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 11, 2021 -- Spring series for harness racing 3 and 4-year-olds, a popular fixture at The Meadows that fell victim to COVID-19 restrictions last year, have returned. Beginning in early March, the track will offer eight series -- four for 3- and 4-year-olds, four for 3-year-olds -- that feature two preliminary legs and a championship, with total purses projected to exceed $312,000. Pennsylvania owned or sired horses are eligible. Nomination fee for each series is $250, due Feb. 15 (3-and-4-year-old events) or March 15 (3-year-old events). The line-up includes:   ·      Wilbur Zendt Memorial Pace: 3- and 4-year-old colt and gelding pacers, first leg March 5; ·      Donna Dunn Memorial Pace: 3- and 4-year-old filly and mare pacers, first leg March 3; ·      Dale McConnell Memorial Trot: 3- and 4-year-old colt and gelding trotters, first leg March 4; ·      Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot: 3- and 4-year-old filly and mare trotters, first leg March 4; ·      Tom Kirwan Memorial Pace: 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers, first leg April 2; ·      Ruby Cook Memorial Pace: 3-year-old filly pacers, first leg March 31; ·      Margaret Provost Memorial Trot: 3-year-old filly trotters, first leg April 1; ·      Terry Altmeyer Memorial Trot: 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters, first leg March 31. To nominate or for more information, including specific eligibility conditions, contact The Meadows Race Office, 724.225.9897. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 8, 2021 -- Wild Wild Western made the top with an uncovered move and found the wire just in time in Friday's $16,200 harness racing Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Wild Wild Western was third when Tony Hall sent him after the leader, Macadoodledoo. The 5-year-old son of Western Ideal-Caila Fra cleared handily but was pressured late by Carolina Beach in the Lightning Lane. Wild Wild Western downed that rival by a neck in 1:51.3 while long shot The Wall rallied for show. Norm Parker trains the winner, who lifted his lifetime bankroll to $269,229, for Jacobs Creek Racing, Andrew Altobelli and John Deters. It was one of four wins for Hall on the 13-race card. Wild Wild Western Live racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday when the program features a trio of rich carryovers: $4,254.49 in the Pick 5 (race 8); $3,068.87 in the final-race Super Hi-5; $2,792.64 in the Early Pick 4 (race 4). First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 6, 2021 -- Hammered down to 1-9, All Day Sunshine performed liked the overwhelming harness racing favorite, romping to her second straight victory in Wednesday's Opening Day feature at The Meadows, a $9,100 Conditioned Pace. All Day Sunshine quarter-poled to the top for Dan Rawlings and began to draw off at the three-quarters. The 4-year-old daughter of Sunshine Beach-Mustang Kensley scored in 1:54.1, 2 lengths better than Marvalous Song. Dream Dancing finished third. Paul Corey trains All Day Sunshine, who boosted her career bankroll to $160,213, for Kenneth Ashba. It was one of four wins for Rawlings on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Thursday, first post 12:45 PM. All Day Sunshine By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 5, 2021 -- The Meadows Racetrack & Casino kicks off its 2021 season Wednesday with a 13-race harness racing card beginning at 12:45 PM. To add to the excitement of opening day, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is offering free race programs that can be downloaded here. The Meadows will race each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday through the end of March, first post 12:45 PM each day, with Tuesdays added for April. The multirace wagering menu includes: Pick 3 (race 2); Early Pick 4 (race 4); Pick 5 (race 8); Late Pick 4 (race 10); Super Hi-5 (day's final race). The Super Hi-5 offers a 20-cent minimum wager while the minimum bet for the other multirace wagers listed is 50 cents. As always, the highlight of the racing season is the $500,000 (est) Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids, one of harness racing's premier tests for 3-year-old pacers that this year is set for July 24 and July 31. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 30, 2020 -- Lady's Dude opened a sizable lead in the stretch, allowing him to score under wraps in Wednesday's $16,200 Open Handicap Trot at The Meadows, the track's closing-day harness racing feature. Lady's Dude had the opportunity to drop in third before the quarter, but Tony Hall elected to keep the 9-year-old Victory Sam-Lady's Star gelding marching to the point. It proved a wise choice, as Lady's Dude cruised home in 1:54.4, 3/4 lengths better than Jeffery P, who rallied inside. Maewegonow finished third. Ron Burke trains Lady's Dude, who won for the 51st time and lifted his lifetime bankroll to $854,090, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Johnny Yoder. It was one of four victories for Hall on the 13-race card. Lady's Dude The Meadows kicks off its 2021 live racing season Wednesday, Jan. 6, first post 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 30, 2020 — The Meadows brings down the curtain Wednesday on its 2020 live harness racing season, and because Wednesday’s card is the final program of the current meeting, it features mandatory payouts for a number of exotic wagers, including:   ·      Pick 5 (race 8); ·      Late Pick 4 (race 10); ·      Super Hi-5, where there is a $1,328.39 carryover (race 13); ·      Final Superfecta of the day.   First post Wednesday is 12:45 PM. The 2021 live season kicks off Wednesday, Jan. 6 beginning at 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 29, 2020 -- Pinned inside, Bettor Memories found the Lightning Lane just in time and shot through to capture Tuesday's $16,200 harness racing Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. With Rock Candy surging outside and passing the leader, Wild Wild Western, it wasn't clear that Bettor Memories would find racing room soon enough. But he was up to the task when Dave Palone urged him through the Lightning Lane, edging Rock Candy by a nose in 1:50.4. Wild Wild Western saved show. Ron Burke trains Bettor Memories, a 7-year-old Bettor's Delight-Allamerican Memoir gelding who now boasts a career bankroll of $709,656, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Phillip Collura. Burke fashioned a five-bagger on the 13-race card while Tony Hall and Palone each enjoyed a triple. Bettor Memories Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, first post 12:45 PM. Because Wednesday is the final day of the current meeting, the 13-race program will feature mandatory payouts in the Late Pick 4 (race 10), Pick 5 (race 8), Super Hi-5 (race 13, $1,328.39 carryover) and the day's final Superfecta. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 28, 2020 -- Dismissed at 37-1. Circle The Page attacked relentlessly first over and pulled off the harness racing shocker in Monday's feature at The Meadows, a $9,400 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace. Circle The Page was sixth, 7-1/2 lengths in arrears, when Chris Shaw sent her after the leader, Hedges Avenue A. The 6-year-old daughter of Real Artist-Queen Marie edged in front through the final turn and went on to score in 1:55.3 over a "good" surface. Amelia's Courage shot the Lightning Lane for second, a neck back, with Our GG third. John Sullivan trains Circle The Page, who now boasts a career bankroll of $284,750, for Michael Marocco. Brady Brown and trainer Scott Betts each enjoyed a three-bagger on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the 13-race program features a $2,540.37 carryover in the Pick 5 (race 8). First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 23, 2020 -- All Day Sunshine pulled the pocket into the final turn, blew by the weary leader, Seadog Lady, and rolled on to capture Wednesday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $9,100 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace. All Day Sunshine may have won the race in the first quarter, when she made a relatively easy lead while Seadog Lady was parked in 26.4 before she could cross over. All Day Sunshine had plenty in the tank and defeated Seadog Lady by 2 widening lengths in 1:56.3 for Dan Rawlings. Paul Corey trains the winner, a 3-year-old daughter of Sunshine Beach-Mustang Kensley, who extended her lifetime bankroll to $155,663, for Kenneth Ashba. Dave Palone collected four wins and Dan Rawlings three on the 13-race card. After a Christmas break, live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the 13-race program features a $3,964.45 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM. All Day Sunshine   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 22, 2020 -- Lightly regarded at 11-1, Maewegonow found a seam in mid-stretch and barreled through to capture Tuesday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $9,800 Conditioned Trot. Maewegonow was pinned inside into the final turn, and the Lightning Lane wouldn't have come fast enough. But when Dan Rawlings edged her out to emerging daylight, the 6-year-old daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe-Mauresmo burst through willingly and triumphed in 1:55.1 over a "good" surface. The first over Jessiejesorjessica was second, 1/2 length back, with Jeffery P third. Richard Perfido trains Maewegonow, who pushed her lifetime bankroll to $408,255, for Win Rhythm Stables.   Maewegonow Tony Hall piloted five winners on the 13-race card. Including a pair for trainer Kevin Johnson. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the 13-race program features a pair of carryovers -- $2,411.88 in the final-race Super Hi-5, $1,209.95 in the Pick 5 (race 8). First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association      

Trenton, NJ — It all started as a joke. After it turned serious, harness racing John “The Greek” Sikaras is still sporting one of the biggest grins in western Pennsylvania. As well he should. Sikaras recorded his first driving win Nov. 27 in an $8,500 Great Lakes Amateur Driving Association event at The Meadows. The fact his horse, Explosive Leggs, went off at 23-1 is pretty neat in its own right. Throw in the fact that Sikaras turned 70 on June 12, and you’ve got a Pittsburgh area feel-good story that ranks right up there with the invention of the famed Primanti Brothers sandwich. “I still can’t come up with the right words to describe what that felt like, or even what it feels like now,” said The Greek, whose nickname came from Meadows announcer Jeff Zidek. “I don’t know how to put it in words. I cannot believe that we got it done. It’s something you see only in movies. It was an absolutely incredible feeling; something that will stay in me forever and ever.” It is also something that seemed completely unattainable just two years ago. In 1970, after moving to northern New Jersey from Kastri, Greece, the 19-year-old became a railbird at Yonkers, Roosevelt, Freehold, Liberty Bell, Garden State Park and The Meadowlands. He had never heard of harness racing in his hometown of Kastri (just outside of Sparta), but quickly developed a crush on the sport in America. “I went to Yonkers with friends and it became love at first sight with those magnificent animals,” Sikaras said. “On top of that, I was in awe of the guys that drove them.” Flash forward to 2018. Sikaras had become a Standardbred owner after relocating to Washington County in Pennsylvania with his wife Bernadette 30 years earlier. John’s friend, trainer/driver Tom Svrcek, announced on social media he was hosting a fundraiser for the Belle Vernon school district. It included a celebrity horse race at the nearby Meadows. The event would feature four horses in double-seated jog carts with a driver and local celebrity. “I responded to the ad as a joke saying, I’m a celebrity,” Sikaras recalled. “I was thinking he would ignore my response. Until that point, the closest I had been to horses, other than three jogging trips — one with a trainer in a double cart — was when I visited or watched them race. So, I’m thinking he’s going to say I was crazy.” Think again, Greek. “He said, all right, you’re in,” Sikaras continued. “I said I was only joking! He said, too late, you can’t change your mind now.” The event was scheduled for Kentucky Derby Day, giving John a month to prepare. With the help of driver Ray Romanetti — his first friend in the business — they began a crash course. The Greek would drive each morning, moved on to training miles and actually saw it through and drove in the benefit. Suddenly, the infatuation he had with horses and drivers expanded to the art of driving itself. “I became hooked, I became obsessed, after my first drive,” Sikaras said. “I was a little nervous before that, but during the race I’m thinking: Is this happening, is this real? “I could not believe it was happening.” It was so enthralling it left his vocabulary looking for re-enforcements. “I don’t know enough words to describe what was going through my mind, but it was clear I became obsessed with being with a horse, feeling the awesome power they possess,” he said. “I knew right then and there that I wanted to be in a real race. I was 68, I was retired, and I had nothing to do but yard work and work in my garden. My goal, or fantasy, was to participate in amateur races.” Sikaras pursued it with zeal. After obtaining his Qualifying/Fair license, it took him 26 qualifying drives to gain his Provisional license. Many of them came with his own horse, Classical Caviar, while Dirk Simpson and Dave Zito also provided John some horses. “I became the proudest of owners of a license,” he said. This past October, trainer Sarah Andrews chose John to get behind Fomor for his first pari-mutuel drive. Fomor was the favorite and Sikaras drove him to a second-place finish in a GLADA race at The Meadows. Two weeks later, Fomor drew post nine and The Greek got away from the gate thinking he might pull off a big one. “I put him on the engine prior to the quarter and before the three-quarter pole, I yelled at him, something like ‘We got this buddy!’ because he felt that good,” Sikaras said. “He got real tired towards the end; we finished fourth and placed fifth for interference, so I paid the $200 fine. It turns out he was sick.” As the old cliché goes, the third time was a charm for the rookie. Trainer Carl Cocciolone gave John a shot with Explosive Leggs, who drew post six in a six-horse field. At 23-1 it didn’t look promising. Until it did. “The strategy was to ease him off the gate and make a move after the five-eighths pole,” Sikaras said. “We did that and guess what? We went three-wide, made up four lengths from the last turn to the finish line and won by a half-length. I’ve been on Cloud Nine since, I still can’t believe it happened.” It was the culmination of a long, interesting journey for The Greek. After being in America for 17 years, he took a position as production manager of a bagel chip manufacturer, where he met Bernadette. In 1988 they moved to Eighty Four, Pa., to be nearer to her parents. During his tour of Northeastern tracks, John became enamored with Romanetti and his horse Moshannon Express. In 1997, at age 47, John opened his own painting business and a year later got a call for an estimate from Lori Romanetti. Sikaras went there to discuss a price and began talking to her husband. He inquired about whether the man was related to Ray Romanetti. “It was him!” Sikaras said. “He and his wife and their horses were five minutes from us.” The couples became close friends and Bernadette fell in love with one of Ray’s horses, Taboo Yankee, “a small, gutsy, tough mare.” In 2009, when Taboo Yankee was 4, John bought a 25 percent share as Bernadette’s 50th birthday present. The horse enjoyed solid success on the track and also produced two foals — Tuesday Morning and Friday Night Storm — that are partly owned by the couple. Friday Night Storm was last year’s 2-year-old Filly of the Year at the Meadows. Sadly, Taboo Yankee died two years ago while in foal to Father Patrick, and also lost the baby. “That was pretty sad,” John said. “I stayed in racing so her babies wouldn’t go anywhere.” After making his first purchase, Sikaras began rubbing shoulders with other owners. Every Friday night they would gather at a Meadows bar to watch live racing. “In 2012, after some adult beverages, I bought half a share of an unraced, 2-year-old trotter who we renamed Classical Caviar,” Sikaras said. Turns out the liquid lubrication was what best greased The Greek’s wallet when it came to buying horses. “It was the same thing (again) in 2012,” he said. “At the same bar and again after cocktails, I bought 50 percent of a bay trotter and we named him Rebel Soul.” Lest one think John was like a drunken patron rolling the dice recklessly at the craps table, they both turned out to be shrewd purchases. “Both were in the money many times and both were retired late this year and are now my official farm ornaments,” he said. “Both were claimed multiples times and I couldn’t sleep until I claimed them back.” The deeper Sikaras got involved as an owner, the more respect he gained for the men in the sulky. He always admired them in his Jersey days, but the more he saw of them, the more impressed he became. “I was in awe of the drivers,” he said. “I thought it was the coolest thing. I’d watch these guys race and I thought they were pretty brave and fearless.” He discovered what kind of courage it took when Svrcek called his bluff on the now-famous Derby Day joke, and there has been no looking back. Sikaras plans to continue driving in amateur races and has a laundry list of people and horses to thank, including Svrcek, Romanetti, who provided help and guidance, Zito, Dan Rawlings, who was instrumental in getting John his first drive, Andrews, Cocciolone, and Classical Caviar. He also gave a shout-out to the drivers, trainers, owners, grooms, and fans who helped support him, and noted that “Mark Weaver showed me a video of the (winning) race where he was rooting for me even though I was racing against one of his horses.” Sikaras has become a guy that people love to root for, considering his age and late foray into the sport. He walks four miles a day to keep in shape and is also trying to lose some weight. Now that he has driven a few times, he has gained even more of an appreciation for his new peers. “On my last drive, when we got back, I was more tired probably than the horse was,” The Greek said with a laugh. “The muscles that these guys use, it’s why they do it so effortlessly. You don’t know what it’s like to be in a race bike. They’re sitting there and they make it look so easy. “It wasn’t like that for me. It felt like I was pulling the race bike.” He is an inspiration to senior citizens everywhere, or to any person who thinks the chance to drive may have passed them by. He hopes his success will give others the courage to try it as well. “My story is not for me,” he said. “People are out there wondering if they can do this. They can. I want to try to get more people possible to get involved in racing. We need it. If someone wants to get involved as more than just an owner, then it can be done.” And that’s no joke. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 11, 2020 -- Macadoodledoo threw down a sizzling 54.3 back half but still was all out late to secure his harness racing victory in Friday's $17,900 Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Macadoodledoo zipped to the front from post 4 for Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. but couldn't draw away from Carolina Beach and Rock Candy, stalking from second and third, respectively. But Rock Candy's Lightning Lane charge fell a head short, and Macadoodledoo prevailed in 1:50.4. Carolina Beach finished third. Ron Burke trains the winner, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere-Pirouette Hanover gelding who vaulted over $200,000 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Elsewhere on Friday's card, Dapper Dude, the personable, popular, strong-willed millionaire, faced the starter for the final time in his illustrious career. The 11-year-old chestnut son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest tried to go out a winner, quarter-poling to the point, but he tired and finished sixth. Dapper Dude ends his racing career with 241 starts, 57 victories, a mark of 1:49 and just less than $1.4 million in earnings. He'll enter stud at Harris Paint Horses & Stallion Station in Maryland. Trainer Tim Twaddle and other admirers presented the gallant gent with a retirement blanket. Burke fashioned a five-bagger on the 13-race card while Wrenn and Aaron Merriman collected four wins and three wins, respectively. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the 13-race program features a pair of carryovers: $12,136.41 in the final-race Super Hi-5, $1,903.14 in the Pick 4 (race 4). First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

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