Day At The Track
Search Results
65 to 80 of 3750

A pair of new names have entered the most horses in the 2021 editions of the MGM Borgata and Blue Chip Matchmaker series to be contested at Yonkers Raceway throughout March and April. Both newcomers to the stakes scene, trainer Shane Tritton has seven horses between the two events and Neil Balcerak has five in the Borgata. A total of 46 horses nominated for the 2021 Borgata (nee Levy) and 20 were made eligible to the Matchmaker. Both events were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With four in the Borgata and three in the Matchmaker, the Down Under native Tritton is feeling good about his chances and excited about his first stakes action since arriving in the U.S. less than a year ago. "I'm 100% looking forward to the series. It is very close to the Inter Dominion back home where you have to go four runs in a row. It is a war of attrition, but it is good to have something to work through. I'm looking forward to the challenge," said Tritton. Tritton's male quartet in the Borgata include 2019 Borgata champion Western Fame, Pat Stanley N, Bronx Seelster and Yayas Hot Spot N. His mare trio is formed by Lady Dela Renta A, Maczaffair N and My Ruebe Star N. "This has always been the goal for these horses," said Tritton. "Western Fame, Bronx Seelster and Pat Stanley are starting to hit their stride at the right time and the mares have been racing at a high level. Yayas Hot Spot just needs more racing." Neil Balcerak has been training horses on a limited basis since 2015 but is getting his first taste of stakes action in a big way. He paid the $5,000 nomination fee on five horses, all of which he owns in partnership with another newcomer to the game, Matthew Morrison. "Matt is new to the business. He did well on his first horse and wanted to take a shot," said Balcerak about entering so many horses. "He is a fresh owner to the game. He really enjoyed owning his first horse (Jahan Hanover) and now he goes to the track a couple of times a week. Having a new owner is great for the game. "We bought a couple of nice ones over the summer and we had a few others we just wanted to give a shot to because there wasn't much available for the horses to race for good money," continued Balcerak on entering five horses. Balcerak, who said he started out small as a trainer with just some county fair horses, is hoping for good things from all five of his Borgata entrants. He has the highest hopes for Caviart Rockland and The Wall, who was fifth in the 2019 Borgata. The 37-year-old Pennsylvania native also has Indictable Hanover, Jahan Hanover and Esai Hanover in the series. The Borgata, which begins on March 15 with the first of five legs raced in $40,000 divisions, is loaded with talent. The list includes 2019 Breeders Crown winner American History, who is standing at Walnridge Farm and is expecting to pull double-duty as a stallion and racehorse this year. Three-year-old Ohio standout Ocean Rock makes his first journey outside of the Buckeye state and is one of three newcomers to the Nancy Takter barn in the series. Undoubtedly one of the favorites going into the opening round will be overseas import Let It Ride N. The Richard 'Nifty' Norman-trained 8-year-old has won all six of his starts since coming to America including an impressive 1:52 1/5 win at Yonkers on January 11. "He'll be a handful for anybody," said Norman about Let It Ride N. "I'm sure others will be ready, but he proved he gets around the track very well." Alexa Skye, who joined the Jeff Cullipher barn before a recent second-place finish at Yonkers in the Open Handicap, is certainly one of the favorites going into the March 12 opening leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker. She has won three of five starts in 2021 and has never finished worse than second. The Borgata and Matchmaker both feature five legs and culminate with finals and consolations on Monday, April 19. A complete list of the eligible horses can be found here and below: 2021 MGM Borgata Eligibles American History American Mercury Ana Afreet N Artie's Ideal Ashley Locaz N Backstreet Shadow Blood Line Bronx Seelster Caviart Rockland Chief Mate Esai Hanover Fine Diamond Hesa Kingslayer N Ideal Jimmy Indictable Hanover Jahan Hanover Jesse Duke N Leonidas A Let it Ride N Lyons Steel Mach n Cheese Mac's Jackpot Micky Gee N No Easy Day None Bettor A Ocean Rock Ostro Hanover Pat Stanley N Raukapuka Ruler N Rockapelo Rodeo Rock San Domino A Semi Tough Sheriff N Shnitzledosomethin Springsteen Stars Align A Tellitsabb The Wall This is the Plan Tookadiveoffdipper Tyga Hanover Western Fame Western Joe Windsun Ricky Yayas Hot Spot N 2021 Blue Chip Matchmaker Eligibles Alexa Skye Alii Nui Bettors Heart N Blue Ivy Caviart Cherie Dbldelitebrigade N Kaitlyn N Keep On Rocking A Lady Dela Renta A Machnhope Maczaffair N Monica Gallagher My Ruebe Star N Parisian Bluechip Seaswift Joy N Siesta Beach Snobbytown Soho Burning Love A The Bandit Queen N Trillions Hanover By Yonkers Raceway Media

The M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series kicked off on Tuesday night (March 2) at Yonkers Raceway with a trio of $15,000 harness racing divisions that were won by Flirty Forty, Dragon Roll, and Turnthefrownaround. Flirty Forty (Matt Kakaley), sent off at 21-1 in the first split, sat third while 1-9 favorite Pettycoat Business (George Brennan) led through fractions of 28.1, 57.1, and 1:25.3. Sound Idea (Scott Zeron) stalked Pettycoat Business from the pocket and then tipped out two-wide before they turned into the lane, with Flirty Forty tracking Sound Idea's bid before going three-wide in the stretch. It was a thrilling battle to the wire, but in the end Flirty Forty had the best kick, getting up to win by a head in 1:55 1. Sound Idea was second, and Pettycoat Business had to settle for third. Mark Ford trains Flirty Forty, a 4-year-old daughter of American Ideal, for owner Bay Pond Racing Stable. This was her fourth career win, and she has now earned $42,452. Flirty Forty paid $45.40 to win, the 2-1 exacta returned $171.00, and the trifecta kicked back $406.00.   The 4-5 favorite Dragon Roll (Jason Bartlett) dashed to the lead from post five and put up stations of 28.2, 58.3, and 1:27.1 in the next section. Despite the well-rated tempo, Dragon Roll had to dig in determinedly in the last quarter, initially to fend off a first-over try from Pray The Rosary (Brent Holland), and then to deal with a big close from Break The Deal (Zeron) through the stretch. Although she made the chalk players and her connections sweat it out, the wire came up in time for Dragon Roll to tally over Break The Deal by a nose in a 1:57.1 mile. Pray The Rosary held third. Dragon Roll is a 4-year-old Roll With Joe mare owned and trained by Ricky Bucci. Dragon Roll now sports a record of 4-4-8 from 21 career tries, and she has pocketed $149,073. Dragon Roll returned $3.70 to win. The 5-6 exacta paid $29.00 and the trifecta of 5-6-8 was worth $357.50. The last flight saw Somebeachsomefra (Zeron) pop out of the pocket to take over command from Special Achiever (Bartlett) on the way to the 28.3 opening quarter. Somebeachsomefra would continue to front the field to the half in 58 seconds and the three-quarters in 1:26.3, with even-money choice Turnthefrownaround (Brennan) vacating the cones out of third early on the last turn. Somebeachsomefra still had a clear advantage turning for home and responded when Zeron called on her in the lane, but Turnthefrownaround wore her down in deep stretch to prevail by a neck in 1:56. There was a dead-heat for third between Special Achiever and Off The Press (Jordan Stratton). The winner is another 4-year-old by Roll With Joe and is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Phil Collura. Turnthefrownaround scored her fifth victory in her 30th trip behind the gate, and she has now banked $129,660. Turnthefrownaround returned $4.30 to win. The exacta paid $11.40, and the two trifectas kicked back $21.60 (Special Achiever third) and $39.40 (Off The Press third). The M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series has additional preliminary legs on Tuesday, March 9 and Tuesday, March 16, and the final is slated for March 23. The boys take their turn in the M Life Rewards Gents Pacing Series on Wednesday night's (March 3) 10-race card at Yonkers, competing in four divisions of their first round. For full results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Leonidas A, who scored a Grand Circuit harness racing win in the Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway last year, kicked off his 2021 campaign with a 1:55.4 victory in the $30,000 Open Pace on Monday night at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Austin Siegelman, Leonidas A got away in the sixth spot and watched as Moonshine Kisses (Mark MacDonald) carved out fractions of 27.4 and 57.2 for the opening half. On the third turn, driver Joe Bongiorno tipped out first-over from fourth with Rollwithpapajoe, giving Carlisimo (Scott Zeron) a second-over journey and Leonidas A the third-over ride. Rollwithpapajoe and Moonshine Kisses were on even terms at the 1:26.4 three-quarters, and though Rollwithpapajoe got an advantage on the far turn, he was unable to clear. Meanwhile, Siegelman moved Leonidas A out four-wide on the bend, with Carlisimo ready to strike three-wide. In the lane, Carlisimo had first crack at the leaders and went by them to take a narrow advantage in upper stretch, but Leonidas A was kicking home even better on the far outside, and it would be Leonidas A prevailing by a length. Carlisimo was a solid second, and Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter), who was also making his first start of the year, advanced from seventh to third in the last quarter. Fine Diamond (Brent Holland) and Rollwithpapajoe rounded out the top five.   Sheena Mcelhiney trains Leonidas A, a 6-year-old gelding by Mach Three, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A has now won 25 times from 51 career starts, and he pushed his earnings to $231,848. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Leonidas A paid $3.90 to win. The 6-5 exacta with Carlisimo returned $27.00, and the trifecta of 6-5-7 kicked back $277.50. Live racing resumes at Yonkers Raceway on Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m., and the 10-race card features three divisions of the first leg of the M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series. For full results, click here.  From Yonkers Raceway

Yonkers, NY-- After a couple of false starts due to weather conditions, the granddaddy of all amateur driving harness racing series finally presented another leg of the 2021 CKG Billing Series season on March 1st at Yonkers Raceway. When the judges hung the official sign that evening "Mighty Marianna" Monaco emerged victorious after she sat back and then and rallied Hot Summer Knight to a head victory over the pace-setter, Pound Sterling, who was driven Bob "the Headhunter"Hechkoff. When the starter said "go" Hechkoff gunned Pound Sterling to the lead from post position six and they had command on the first turn and led five others by the first quarter in :29.1. Comfortable on the lead Pound Sterling and Wygant Prince ("Coach Paul" Minore) were one-two as they passed the half in 1:00.2. Perhaps the soft race track kept the trailers from moving early and the field remained in the same order as they approached the three quarters. Monaco was the first to move off the pylons and she rallied Hot Summer Knight up alongside the Pound Sterling and when they rounded the final turn the former was the strong horse and he collared Pound Sterling for a head victory in 2:03. Wygant Prince held on for the show dough. The winner, a 10-year-old Justice Hall gelding, is owned by Lynette Buter and trained by Todd Buter For full results, click here. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

For the first time in 2021, Yonkers Raceway will play host to harness racing stakes action next Tuesday (March 2) and Wednesday (March 3) as the M Life Rewards Ladies and M Life Rewards Gents Series begin. Both events are for 3-year-old and 4-year-old pacers who were non-winners of four races and/or $50,000 through December 1, 2020. The fillies kick things off on Tuesday night with three $15,000 divisions. Pettycoat Business, a 4-year-old daughter of Art Major who won her Empire Breeders Classic elimination last year and also raced in events including the Breeders Crown and Courageous Lady, has drawn post six in the opening eight-horse grouping (race one), with George Brennan listed to drive for trainer Scott Di Domenico. She meets up with Even Louder (post three, Jason Bartlett/Nick Devita), a 1:53 winner this year at Pompano Park. Dragon Roll (post five, Bartlett/Ricky Bucci) heads up the second split in race three. Dragon Roll, a 4-year-old Roll With Joe mare, was a regular on the New York Sire Stakes circuit as a rookie and a sophomore, and has missed the board just once in five starts in 2021, sporting a 1-1-2 record. Her win came at Yonkers in a non-winners of three event on February 17. The M Life Rewards Ladies Series action for Tuesday concludes in race four. Trainer Ron Burke sends out Turnthefrownaround (post two, Brennan), who, like Dragon Roll, also has a win, a second, and two thirds thus far in her 4-year-old campaign. Another Roll With Joe mare, Turnthefrownaround took a non-winners of four race in gate-to-wire fashion in Westchester on the 17th of February. Somebeachsomefra (post three, Scott Zeron/Deborah Daguet), a 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, has also been performing well with a couple wins from four efforts this year. Wednesday's M Life Rewards Gents Series will see four divisions go behind the gate in races one, three, four, and five. In the first split, just one horse has a victory so far this year, that being 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding Surfer Beach (post six, Austin Siegelman/Jaymes McAssey), who prevailed in 1:52 4/5 at Dover on January 21, but Scootnroll (post four, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) went 10-for-17 in the win column in 2020, and the 4-year-old gelding by Roll With Joe will be looking to get back to his victorious ways. Got The Mojo (post four, Matt Kakaley/Eric Ell), a 4-year-old Sportswriter gelding, posted two victories in three attempts at Dover Downs this year, and in the second section he hooks up with a couple of local winners from 2021 in 4-year-old Rockin Image gelding Odds On Brexit (post one, Tyler Buter/Chris Freck) and Retour Au Jeu (post two, Jordan Stratton/Dennis Laterza), a 4-year-old gelding by He's Watching. The third division will see a matchup between a couple of sharp horses in Cigar Smoking Tony (post four, Bartlett/Jose Godinez), a 4-year-old son of Art Major, and Lou's Sweetrevenge (post six, Brennan/Burke), a 4-year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou. Cigar Smoking Tony has two wins and a second from three starts in 2021, and Lou's Sweetrevenge sports a record of 2-0-2 from four trips behind the gate. The final flight is led by 4-year-old Roll With Joe gelding My Pal Joe (post five). Trained and driven by Alek Chartrand, My Pal Joe has three victories, a second, and a third from five starts in 2021. He took a mark of 1:49 4/5 at the Meadowlands on January 2. Dragon Said (post one, Joe Bongiorno/Jenn Bongiorno) and Sweet Truth (post seven, Zeron/Thomas Corelli) have also won races this year. The M Life Rewards Ladies and M Life Rewards Gents Series both have a total of three preliminary legs. The Ladies final is slated for Tuesday, March 23, with the Gents final the following night. Both next Tuesday's and Wednesday's ten-race cards at Yonkers get underway at 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

Trenton, NJ — After hitting career highs in wins and earnings in 2019, Austin Siegelman seemed on his way to breaking both of those marks again last year until the COVID-19 shutdown hit. He still finished with strong numbers, and has carried that momentum into this season. Racing predominantly at Yonkers during the week and Freehold on weekends, Siegelman has won 54 races in 2021, a total that ranks 10th in North America. He is the leading driver at Freehold Raceway, where his 43 victories put him 18 ahead of second-place Jim Marohn Jr. “I think it’s been a good start,” said Siegelman, who won the driving title at Freehold last year. “I wish I won a few more races at Yonkers to start, but that’s all right.” Nonetheless, he is happy with the progress he’s made over the years, which includes winning the $100,000 Potomac Pace Invitational last year with Leonidas A. “It’s getting to a point where I’m extremely confident on the racetrack,” he said. “I’m starting to get a little more finesse than I used to have and getting a little more polished than I used to be.” Siegelman, who turns 29 on Saturday, has been steadily climbing the ladder since receiving the 2013 Rising Star Award from the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. That was his first full year of driving and he won 90 races and earned $538,079 in 752 starts. From there, he would win over $1 million each of the next four years. He cracked 300 wins and $2 million in earnings for the first time in 2018 and exploded in 2019 with career-highs in starts (2,587), wins (323), and earnings ($3.63 million). He seemed ready to surpass those marks last year before the pandemic hit. “It was pretty disappointing to finally get rolling and to get shut down like that but, it happens, so no big deal,” the laidback driver said. “I didn’t find it hard to get back in a rhythm when we started again, but it was definitely different. There was less work available, less purse money. Just a lot of less.” In 2018, Siegelman’s main track was Monticello, and he began to drive at Freehold toward the end of the year with hopes of getting steady drives at Yonkers. That schedule slowly morphed into becoming a regular at Yonkers during weeknights and at Freehold on Fridays and Saturdays. He is hoping to get some drives at The Meadowlands, and possibly The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah’s Philadelphia. “My Saturdays just opened up; Yonkers changed its schedule, so they picked up Wednesday instead of Saturday a few weeks ago,” he said. “I’ve been throwing around the idea of racing in Pennsylvania and still doing Yonkers at night.” Siegelman will remain at Freehold, where he won 85 times in 2019 to capture the driving title. “Doing it at Freehold is a little different,” he said. “Usually, you’re driving for different people every race and it’s not just one barn, so that’s always nice.” When it comes to getting on a roll like that, Siegelman said, “You’re just thinking how to win the next one.” There is, however, some confidence that starts to build. “Oh yeah, absolutely,” he said. “Once you start to win a few, it kind of helps the train get rolling a little bit.” Siegelman began driving at Freehold since its day racing fit well with his schedule. It has turned into a nice little haven for him. “I feel very comfortable over at that track,” he said. “The atmosphere is a little more laid back.” He is now looking to conquer Yonkers the way he has at Freehold. “I like Yonkers, it’s tough,” he said. “I consider Yonkers my main track now. Even though I don’t win five a night at Yonkers, I’m there every night.” Siegelman, who lists winning the Potomac Pace last year and “just making it this far,” as some of his biggest accomplishments, says his goal this year would be to get 100 wins at every track he races regularly. But for the most part, he is taking it drive by drive. “Right now, I’m happy with where I’m at,” Siegelman said. “I drive for the overnight guys now. But when I’m ready (for stakes races), I’ll be ready for that.” Austin is the son of trainer James Siegelman, who he still goes to for advice. “We’re living in two separate places right now, but he still helps me out a lot,” Siegelman said. “I talk to him every night. He’ll criticize me every night or tell me I did good every night.” Slowly but surely, he’s earning more praise with each of those talks. by Rich Fisher, for the USTA

Due to inclement weather with snow and sleet, officials at Dover Downs has cancelled the live harness racing program for Thursday, February 18. Because of the severe winter storm currently impacting the area, tonight’s (February 18) card at Yonkers Raceway has been canceled. The race office will be conducting a remote draw for the Wednesday, February 24 card. All entries must be done online, and the box closes at 3 p.m. Racing is scheduled to resume at Yonkers on Friday night. The 10-race program will begin at 7:15.  

It might be a bit uncommon for a harness racing trainer to feel little apprehension about discovering their horse's post position, particularly on a half-mile track, where outside starting spots are typically unfavorable. So far, though, 6-year-old female pacer Demeter N has afforded Andrew Harris that luxury. Demeter N has won five of eight races since arriving from Australia last year, including five of six at half-mile Yonkers Raceway. She is 2-for-2 this season at The Hilltop, with victories from post six and post eight. Two of her losses came in her first two starts in the U.S., both at The Meadowlands. She missed by a neck in her debut and by a nose from post 10 in the next, when she closed with a :25.4 final quarter-mile. "I'm really impressed with her versatility," Harris said. "She can do it any way. She's raced from off the pace, come from off a helmet. She's done it first up, grinded it out. And when we've put her on the front, she's just as good there. "She can do it from any position on the track. The post positions never seem to really scare me with her. The race doesn't need to set up for her. She will make things happen because she wants to do it." Harris bought Demeter N and 8-year-old male trotter Deltasun A as a package in July. He owns Demeter N, a daughter of Art Major out of Weka Lass, with Martin Budkey. The mare won 10 of 40 races Down Under and is a half-sister to six-figure-earner Reciprocity. "I think she's exceeded expectations, to be honest with you," Harris said. "She's a nice mare and she's been a beast at Yonkers. Her only issue is that she will tie-up once in a while and not finish the way she should. But as long as we stay on top of that, nothing seems to slow her down." Demeter N has raced in conditioned classes since her arrival but is scheduled - weather permitting - to step up to the $30,000 open for fillies and mares on Thursday at Yonkers. Demeter N, with Jason Bartlett in the sulky, will start from post four and is 9-2 on the morning line. Alexa Skye is the 3-1 favorite. "She's got to try them at some point, so we might as well do it while she's sharp," Harris said. "I do think she is going to be that level of a horse, so this is going to be an acid test for her. I think we are going to skip the (Blue Chip Matchmaker) with her this year, but I do think this mare is going to be the real deal eventually." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Following forced cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, MGM Yonkers Raceway is back this year with a full slate of stakes races for pacers and trotters of all ages. Nominations for three of the stakes for 2021 close on February 16 and interested parties are encouraged to submit payments promptly to ensure a chance to race for more than $2 million in purse money. The Borgata Pacing Series (formerly George Morton Levy Memorial) highlights the best older pacers in the sport. In 2019, Western Fame captured the $663,260 Borgata final. The series commences on March 15 this year with the first of five preliminary legs. Each round of the Borgata will now take place on Monday, the featured night of the week at Yonkers Raceway, replacing Saturday. A $5,000 nomination fee must arrive by February 16 for horses to be eligible. The mare companion race for the Borgata is the Blue Chip Matchmaker. Using it as a springboard to her Horse of the Year campaign, Shartin N took the $402,060 final of the Matchmaker in 2019. Interested pacing mares must submit a $4,000 nomination fee to be eligible for the opening leg on Friday, March 12. The Borgata and Blue Chip Matchmaker finals are scheduled for Monday, April 19. Nomination blanks for both races can be found on the Yonkers Raceway website. Stakes season officially kicks off on March 2 at Yonkers Raceway with the M Life Rewards series for 3- & 4-year-olds of both sexes who are Non-winners of 4 races and/or $50,000 lifetime through December 1, 2020. Those paying the $200 nomination fee by February 16 will be eligible to either the male or female finals guaranteed to offer a purse of at least $50,000. Yonkers would also like to remind owners and trainers of top 3-year-old trotters and pacers that the Hambletonian Society is accepting sustaining and supplemental payments for the $300K (gtd.) MGM Yonkers Trot, $300K (gtd.) MGM Grand Messenger, $125K (est.) New York New York Mile and $125K (est.) Park MGM Pace. Eliminations for all four races are slated for June 25. The finals take place on July 2. Click here for more information. Yonkers Raceway will offer more than $3 million in stakes purse money and is scheduled to offer more live racing dates than any other Standardbred track in North America in 2021. Live racing at Yonkers continues on a Monday to Friday schedule with a first-race post-time of 7:15 PM. From Yonkers Raceway    

YONKERS, N.Y. – Night after night, Noel Rhodd looked on and smiled from the paddock as he watched the Standardbred trotters and pacers trek up the ramp and onto the racetrack. Rhodd felt content watching the harness racing drivers hop onto their race bikes, knowing the seat was clean and the stirrups were in just the right spot. He felt at ease knowing the quick hitch was secured and the safety straps – which would keep the bike attached to the harness should the quick hitch fail – were fastened. And he felt pride as the spotless sulkies sparkled under the beams of the track lights.  Rhodd knew the seat was clean because he cleaned it. He knew the stirrups were in the right spot and wouldn’t slip because he put them there and tightened them. He knew the safety straps were in place because he checked them. And he knew the bikes shined because he meticulously shined them.  Rhodd has been working in the Yonkers Raceway paddock for 30 years and he’s been smiling at this scene, race after race, night after night for the duration. He doesn’t clean the seat for his own comfort. He doesn’t check the stirrups and hitches for his own safety. And he doesn’t shine the bikes for recognition. Much like the businessman who spends hours on Sunday night conditioning and polishing his oxfords for the week ahead, Rhodd knows most who have the opportunity to appreciate his work won’t.  But that’s OK with Rhodd. Like the businessman with his oxfords, Rhodd shines the bikes for the sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of a job well-done, not to be noticed. And he checks and double-checks the rigging of the bikes for the safety of his friends – the drivers – and of the horses.  “The most important thing is getting the job done right. Safety is on the agenda,” Rhodd said before the races Thursday, Jan. 28. “Anything to make the races more successful and more safe. That’s the top of the line for me, to make sure everything is safe and I’m doing my best to make sure everything runs smooth. The whole thing is to be safe every night and respect each other.” For Rhodd, part of earning that respect is knowing the individual drivers: their preferences, quirks, and personalities.  “All of them are different. They are professional people. They make you become a professional,” he said. “That’s good for me because it puts me to a higher standard, I don’t take anything for granted, I’m going for professionalism. Every driver is different and personalities are important. You don’t do a half-assed job, you do a quality job because that’s what they expect from you, quality work.” In return, Rhodd respects the dedication and painstaking work of the horsepeople. He endeavors to make their jobs easier when they are at the track. “You are dealing with a lot of people who work very hard,” Rhodd said. “They get out of bed at 4 o’clock, they come here to race, they have to put away the horses when they get home, they have their family, they have rent; the horse business is not a joke. In this business, you can’t take off, you have to be here constantly taking care of these horses like babies. They need a whole lot of care for them to perform well. The grooms have to work hard. It’s a lot of things that go into it.” Rhodd’s typical day goes something like this: He arrives at the track well before first post time and begins by placing the Trakus tags – which transmit each horse’s position in the race to the track’s graphics in real time – in the saddlepads and ensuring the batteries are charged and the transmitters are functioning. Then, he gets the race bikes ready. Finally, Rhodd distributes the saddlepads to the horsepeople and he makes sure the numbers are fastened. “Sometimes, they forget to clip the number and it can fall off during a race. That’s an important thing to me that I like to look at, I make sure they clip the number correctly because they are so busy doing a whole lot of things. Sometimes, one groom is taking care of three horses and he forgets to clip on one side. Sometimes, they forget to attach the bike and put the safety strap on. A lot of basic and small things you have to look at. It’s a fast environment and people are doing things quickly. That’s why I like to be safe in everything I do,” Rhodd explained. At the end of the night, Rhodd collects all the saddlepads and cleans them with a disinfectant before putting them away for the next racing program. Then, it’s back to the race bikes. “I clean the bikes up. They use whips now that leave marks on the side of the bikes, so I make sure there are no whip marks on the bikes,” Rhodd said. “It looks good. Whenever they go up the ramp, I’m looking at the bikes. I enjoy how clean they look because of the work I put into them to make them look good.” A testament to his diligence, Rhodd puts just as much effort into a sulky that will leave the paddock that night as one which will stay for the next night’s races. “Sometimes these guys go away with their bikes. I say, ‘you can’t take a dirty bike away. Let me clean it for you,’ ” Rhodd said. “We don’t do that here. We don’t take dirty bikes away and bring dirty bikes back. We want to make sure these bikes are clean even if they’re not staying here. That’s the way we work. We don’t go for that laziness. We want to do a good job.” Rhodd developed his appreciation for doing a quality job and for working hard while growing up on the island of Jamaica in the late 1950s and 1960s. He recalls learning what he refers to as the basics: cleaning the house, washing the dishes, cooking, ironing, and cleaning shoes.  “In Jamaica growing up, we had a lot of morals and a lot of discipline. We had elders to respect and our name to honor. It’s a different time now with so much technology. We didn’t have that,” Rhodd said. “That basic stuff kept us in line. We got worked hard. That’s why I lasted so long here (at Yonkers). If I didn’t get that grooming early, I couldn’t last this long.” Rhodd also got his first exposure to horse racing in his native country. He fondly recalls events such as English jockey Lester Piggott’s visit to Caymanas Park, a Thoroughbred venue just to the west of the Jamaican capital of Kingston. “We have flats in Jamaica, I loved the flats. I guess that’s where it stemmed from, really,” Rhodd said. “I used to listen to the races on the radio. Sometimes, we would go to the betting shops and we would bet and listen to the races. I went to Caymanas Park many times and enjoyed the racing, but I wasn’t as involved with it as I am here.” A 19-year-old Rhodd, along with his mother and siblings, immigrated to the United States in 1975 after his father passed away. The move, Rhodd says, was, “for betterment of ourselves, to live a strong and healthy life.” Rhodd initially worked in a clothing store before beginning a career at the Department of Parks and Recreation. There, he happened to work with an owner of Standardbred racehorses and eventually visited Yonkers Raceway. “My foreman had a horse who raced at Yonkers,” Rhodd said. “I would go with him at lunchtime to visit his horse and one day they said they had a job in the paddock to be the saddlepad distributor. I thought, it’s a part-time job, why not give it a try?” Rhodd stayed three decades. For most of that time, he continued to work full-time at the Department of Parks and Recreation before heading to Yonkers in the evenings. “It was a beautiful experience for me because I’ve learned so much, especially when the horses come from overseas for the International Trot. All the excitement and different people, getting it together,” Rhodd said. “I enjoy being there because they all love me and I love them. I love everybody.” That is a statement backed up by his colleagues. “Always smiling and always singing,” Linda Toscano said of Rhodd.  “A great, sincere guy! A true promoter of happiness,” Paul Kelley said. Barbara Bongiorno described Rhodd as, “one the most positive men we know, always smiling and happy.” “Noel was a great help to anyone that needed it in the paddock at Yonkers,” Cat Manzi said. “He was always a pleasure to work with and helped me on many occasions.” In his time at Yonkers, Rhodd has witnessed in close proximity many of the sport’s great horses, trainers, and drivers. It’s hard for him to name favorites, but he does count Jordan Stratton among his closest friends. “Jordan Stratton has been a very great help to me. Whenever I need anything, I know I can talk to him, I can go to him. He’s there for me all the time,” Rhodd said. “As a young man, he could be my son. Anything that’s on my mind, personal, emotional, I could go to him and express myself right there and he’s always there for me to give me some support. He’s a great listener and advisor.” “I have learned a lot from Noel, and we have become close friends,” Stratton said. “His outlook on life is very positive and uplifting. Sometimes I get swept up in the stress of racing and can count on him to remind me what really matters in life: friends and family. He treated everyone like he knew them their whole lives and sincerely cared how their day was going.” It’s not surprising then, that Bit Of A Legend is one of Rhodd’s favorite horses. Stratton drove the New Zealand-bred, Pete Tritton-trained horse to victory in the $609,000 George Morton Levy Series Final in 2016, among many other overnight and stakes wins locally and out of town.  It wasn’t just Bit Of A Legend’s exploits on the track that garnered Rhodd’s attention; he was also fascinated by the horse’s quiet demeanor in the paddock and the way he worked in perfect sync with his driver. Rhodd also recalls the emotion surrounding Bit Of A Legend’s final race, a runner-up finish in a $27,000 Yonkers overnight Nov. 30, 2019. “That’s a very beautiful horse and I learned a lot from that horse, the way he comes in the paddock, the way he behaves, the way he gets along so good with Jordan,” Rhodd said. “The day when he left for stud, it was hard for Pete and Jordan. Super horse.” Rhodd is 64 years old and his tenure at Yonkers has also come to a close. Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 marked his last day at the track. On Thursday, Jan. 28, the horsepeople gathered for a group photo with Rhodd, an uncustomary event in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, to celebrate his career and acknowledge his hard work and the mindset Rhodd brought to the job. Rhodd contracted COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic when the virus tore through the Standardbred community. The battle helped shift Rhodd’s perspective. “I want to be around family, the grandchildren, have a wonderful time, enjoy life, and just be thankful for what we have. Look what happened with the virus, so many people are gone. There’s more now to be happy and joyful for because we could have gone, too,” Rhodd said.  “I could have gone because I got the virus and it hit me hard. It hit me so hard, it was unbelievable. We lost John Brennan, we lost the Fuscos. This was no joke; we almost lost me, too. I always take care of myself, but this caused me to take more interest in myself, because of what happened.” “It was hard to listen to him on the phone while he had COVID,” Jordan Stratton said of his friend. “He really was up against the ropes. I’m glad that he pulled through and is able to surround himself with family.” Retirement will be a big change for Rhodd, who has been working since age 12 and has always enjoyed it. However, a permanent move to Florida and grandchildren to chase after will ease the transition. “Working has been engrained in me from my childhood. I had a wonderful time working,” Rhodd said. “I don’t let my job become a stressful situation. It’s a real joyful thing. I still feel good.  “I have little grandkids, they are young. I have a lot to teach them,” Rhodd continued. “That’s what I’m going to enjoy. I want to spend my life with them and enjoy them while they’re young. It’s not going to be easy, kids today are not easy, but at least I’ll be doing something with my family.” But at 6:15 p.m. on Jan. 28, one night before his retirement and one hour before first post time, Rhodd still showed his characteristic work ethic. There were saddlepads to distribute, race bikes to look after, and a farewell ceremony in his honor to attend. Any more thoughts about retirement would have to wait, at least for another day. “What time do you have now?” Rhodd asked. “I have to go before I’m running late.” By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY  

Due to a no contest race that occurred in the final leg of Friday night's (February 5) Pick 6 sequence at Yonkers Raceway, the carryovers in both the Pick 5 and Pick 6 were not able to be distributed due to New York State wagering rules that say that if one of the legs are declared a no contest, any carryover amount goes to the next day or racing program, and the money wagered is paid out as a single-day pool.   This means that Friday's carryover amounts of $12,573 in the Pick 6 and $4,412 in the Pick 5, as well as the guarantees of $25,000 and $15,000 in those respective bets, will be moved to Monday night's (February 8) card. The guarantees are part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program, and free past performances will be available here. The no contest was a result of driver Daniel Dube being unseated from Western Beachboy at the start of race eight. While loose, Western Beachboy interfered with the field, and the judges made the call after a lengthy inquiry. Dube hopped immediately back to his feet and drove in the next race on the card, and Western Beachboy returned to the paddock seemingly none the worse for wear. Monday night's program has ten races slated, and first post is at 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

Going with the flow can be a positive, but that hardly makes it the best route. Take for instance the newly minted Pick 6 harness racing wager at Yonkers Raceway in 2021. Rather than follow the trend of lower minimums, the track has aimed higher in hopes of producing pools that are meaningful for all players. The Pick 6 wager, which requires bettors to correctly select the winners of six consecutive wagers, has seen a renaissance over the last year. Multiple tracks have reinstated the bet with minimums ranging from .10 to .50, but at Yonkers the decision was made to increase the difficulty level on the wager by keeping the lowest acceptable wagering level at $1. While raising the minimum decreases the ability of some players to spread deep on their tickets, it also increases the possibility of a carryover and maximizes the return to players. After a slow start where the wager was hit on the first eight nights of 2021, the Pick 6 went unsolved for six consecutive cards to produce a sizable carryover for bettors to attack. Awaiting players on Friday (2/5) is a $12,573 carryover in the Pick 6 as well as $4,412 in the Pick 5. Free past performances for both wagers are available here courtesy Trackmaster as part of the USTA's Strategic Wagering Program. The carryovers not only produce value for bettors should they select the winning combination, since the pool is seeded with a large portion of the wagering from each previously un-hit Pick 6, but also reward bettors for success more than the lower minimum wagers since they are harder to solve. The result is fewer winning tickets, which leads to higher payouts. "It would have been easy to just put the bet in for 50 cents and go," said Director of Racing Alex Dadoyan. "But we wanted to test drive the $1 minimum and see if there is any appetite for it in the simulcast market. At that base price, it's not going to be for everyone. But that's ok, there are plenty of lower denomination wagers on our card and elsewhere. Managing bankroll is the key for all horse players and to properly cover this sequence most nights, it will require some tough decisions." The Pick 6 is not the only wager at Yonkers with a $1 minimum that offers higher returns to bettors. Both Pick 4s and all Pick 3s offer the single-dollar base amount. Another benefit for bettors in 2021 at Yonkers is a reduced takeout of just 20% on the Pick 4, 50 cent Pick 5 and Pick 6 wagers. The 20% mark is the lowest allowed by the New York State law for those wagers. "Hopefully we can get more support from the players which can lead to further takeout reductions in the future," said Dadoyan. Support for the reduced takeout wagers has been strong at Yonkers in 2021. The average pool for the early Pick 4 sits at $11,643, up 25% from the last five cards of 2020. The late Pick 4 has climbed 41% to $9,163 and the average Pick 5 pool sits at $8,015 this year. The Pick 4 is offered twice nightly in races 1 and 7. The Pick 6 kicks off in race 3 and the .50 Pick 5 starts in race 5. Yonkers Raceway continues to race Monday through Friday with a first-race post time of 7:15 PM. From Yonkers Raceway

Because of necessary snow removal procedures on the track and grounds, harness racing is once again canceled at Yonkers Raceway on Wednesday, February 3. There will be a draw for Tuesday, and the box closes at 3 p.m. With no racing tonight, that means that the carryovers of $4,412.72 and $12,573.07 in the Pick 5 and Pick 6 and guaranteed pools of $15,000 and $25,000 in those two wagers will be moved to Thursday night's (February 4) scheduled program. Ten races are on the card, with first post at 7:15 p.m.

Due to the ongoing winter storm impacting the Northeast, harness racing at Yonkers has been canceled for Tuesday, February 2. There is still a draw for Monday (February 8), and the box closes at 3 p.m. Because of the cancelation of tonight's card, the carryovers of $4,412.72 and $12,573.07 in the Pick 5 and Pick 6 and guaranteed pools of $15,000 and $25,000 in those two wagers will be moved to Wednesday night's (February 3) program. Ten races are on the docket, with first post at 7:15 p.m.

Due to significant snowfall in the area, harness racing has been canceled at Yonkers Raceway for Monday, February 1.   The race office is still drawing for Friday with online entries only, and the box closes at 3 p.m. Because of the cancelation of tonight's card, the carryovers of $4,412.72 and $12,573.07 in the Pick 5 and Pick 6 and guaranteed pools of $15,000 and $25,000 in those two wagers, will take place on Tuesday's program.   Ten races are on the docket, with first post at 7:15 p.m.

A run of upsets during both the Pick 5 and Pick 6 sequences on Friday night at Yonkers Raceway wound up with nobody being able to hit either of them. As a result, there will be carryovers and guaranteed pools in both wagers when harness racing resumes at the oval on Monday night. The Pick 6, which starts in race three, will offer a $12,573.07 carryover and a $25,000 guaranteed pool, and the Pick 5, which gets underway in the fifth race, will have a $4,412.72 carryover and a $15,000 guaranteed pool.  Both guarantees are being offered as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program. Free past performances for the Pick 5 and the Pick 6, courtesy of TrackMaster, will be available here.  Yonkers Raceway's Pick 5 and Pick 6 wagers both have a takeout rate of 20 percent, as does the nightly Pick 4.  Monday night's 10-race program at Yonkers is scheduled to get underway at 7:15 P.M.

65 to 80 of 3750