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Pompano Beach, FL...November 22, 2020...Ideal Feeling, superbly handled byharness racing driver Dave Ingraham, held off the determined late charge from Mach West to score a narrow repeat win in Pompano Park's Open Handicap Pace on Sunday night in 1:50.4, the identical time of last week's win. The five-year-old son of American Ideal left with alacrity from his outside post (seven with a scratch) and swept into the lead with Mach West (post four with Wally Hennessey)) finding the garden spot early through panels of :26.4, :54.4 and 1:22.3. In the lane, Ideal Feeling, drifting out slightly, then used a :28.1 finale to hold off Mach West's charge along the pylons. The winning margin was a neck with Loud Splash (John MacDonald) third, two lengths away.   Dash Of Danger paced an "even-steven" mile to be fourth while Lets Roll, who put in a mild challenge around the final bend, picked up the minor award in the field reduced to seven with the scratch of Real Peace. Trained by Peter Blood for owner Rick Berks, Ideal Feeling earned his seventh win of the year in 21 starts to send his 2020 bounty to $70,688 and $267,693 lifetime to go along with his 1:48.4 Meadowlands mark this season. In a post-race interview, trainer Peter Blood related, "You know, he's just the nicest horse to be around, handy, great personality and can be handled with two fingers! He is the true definition of a 'race horse.' He likes off the pace better but, with the outside post, he had to be sent forward at the start tonight, just like last week. He's earned a week off after these two trips, that's for sure." Sent off as the 3 to 5 tote-board favorite, Ideal Feeling paid $3.40 to win. The Open II Pace went to Joe Chindano, Jr's Skip To My Lou, who roared home in :27.2 to score a repeat win in1:51.4 over Plus One (Wally Hennessey) with Brandon Hanover (Tyler Smith) rounding out the top three. Mac Anover and La Rockin Sampson earned the minors in the sharp septet. Skip To My Lou is a four year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou and this win was his fourth of the year in 14 starts, sending his seasonal bounty to $24,571 and $107,701 lifetime. He paid $2.60 as the 1 to 5 tote-board favorite. In other action, four $12,000 divisions of the FSBOA sponsored Sunshine State Stakes Finals for two year-olds were contested on Sunday night--two of these non-betting events--with Ifnotmewho and Prairie Sweetness capturing those on the pari-mutuel card with Shulda Hada Drink and Theflyingrock taking top honors in the non-wagering races. Ifnotmewho, a daughter of Credit Winner, earned her second straight win in the filly trot with a courageous late surge near the wire to score in 1:59 for Wally Hennessey--the margin a half-length over Prairie Virtue (Mike Simons) with Caio Bella (Alessandro Spano) third, 3 ¾ lengths away. West Haven and Prairie Trinket earned the final two awards in the field of seven. It was, indeed, Caio Bella, who blasted off the wings to take the field through panels of :29.1 and 1:00. On the backside, with three-eighths to go, Prairie Virtue left her cozy pocked to take command with Ifnotmewho following and settling back in right behind as they straightened away for the drive home. At mid-stretch, Ifnotmewho began gnawing away and got heir just in time. Hennessey also trains the filly for owner Herman Brewer with the win sending her scorecard to 2-3-2 in nine starts, good for $36,953. As the 1 to 2 favorite, Ifnotmewho returned $3.00 to her multitude of backers. Prairie Sweetness, involved in photo finishes is her first two career starts, got the nod in this her third trip back of the starting gate for Kevin Wallis in the filly pace, by edging past favored Sheza Terror (Wally Hennessey) at the wire to score in 1:56.4, lowering her lifetime best by 3 1/5 seconds. Ms Rodeo Drive (Dave Ingraham) overcame the outside post to garner third while Gator babe was next. Rocks StormyD earned the final check in the octet. At the outset, KD's Dream Girl, Sheza Terror and Prairie Sweetness were one-two-three off the wings but prior to the opening panel in :28.4, KD's Dream Girl suffered a broken hobble hanger and was forced to pull out allowing Sheza Terror to inherit the top spot with Prairie Sweetness on her tail. Prairie Sweetness, a daughter of Royel Millennium wound up stalking the leader the rest of the way through fractions of :58.4 and 1:28.3 and just did squeak by in the very last stride on the strength of her :28 finale. With a scorecard reading 2-0-1 in just three starts, Prairie Sweetheart has banked $8,286 in her first month on the racetrack. Trained by Mike Deters, who co-owns with Laurie Poulin, Prairie Sweetness paid $6.00 as second choice in the betting. Shulda Hada Drink, took top honors in the juvenile trot featuring colts and geldings as this altered son of Shibboleth Hanover took a new lifetime mark with a near gate-to-wire romp in 1:58.2 in just his third lifetime start. Driven by Mike Simons for trainer George Coblentz and owner Nick Coblentz, Shulda Hada Drink posted numbers of :29.1, :59.1 and 1:28.3 to eclipse his former mark in his only other win by three full seconds. Ifnotnowwhen (Wally Hennessey) was second, 9 ¼ lengths away, while the pocket-sitting Seeking Matthew (Sergio Corona), finished third over Jo Jo Jet, who completed the quartet. Thefly6ingrock, also driven by Mike Simons, a winner last week in 1:54.2, proved that mile was no fluke as he blazed through panels of :27, :54.3 and 1:23 before hold on late to score by 1¼ lengths in 1:53.1, of course a new career best. The very fast closing Hey Don't Tell Me (Mike Micallef) was second while Mister David C was next in the quintet. Buddha Beach and Lucky Ramsey completed that roster. Theflyingrock, a gelded son of Rockingcam, is trained by Wayne Carter, who co-owns with Jean Carter. Finally, there were several notable performances in the driver category on Sunday night with top honors going to Rick Plano, who scored a consecutive driving triple in the Late Pick-3. Plano started things off with a ninth race win with Rockin Machine ($21.20), took the 10th with Imagineuwithoutme ($7.40) and the finale with McMach ($4.00) to reward the Pick-3 Send It In Army with a $168.40 payday for the 50 cent ducat. Plano trains all three, as well, and gave wife Maryann an owners triple as sole owner of Rockin Machine and Imagineuwithoutme and part owner of McMach with Jan and Mindy Findling Repko. Wally Hennessey also had a driving triple with Ifnotmewho ($3.00), Caviart Reagan ($3.60) and Sand Sniper $9.40). Mike Simons also hit the winner's circle three times as he swept both ends of the non-wagering Sunshine State Stakes with the aformentioned Shulda Hada Drink and Theflyingrock and got the triple with How Are Yee John ($4.60). Racing resumes Monday night with a post time scheduled for 7:20 p.m and the Super Hi-5 finale carry-over ballooning to $9,678.26. by John Berry, for Pompano Park  

Pompano Beach, FL...November 21, 2020...Ideal Feeling, a courageous harness racing winner in Pompano Park's Opening Night feature last week, looks to repeat in Sunday's Open Handicap Pace at South Florida's famed five-eighths mile oval. The five year-old son of American Ideal, trained by Peter Blood for owner Rick Berks, survived the outside nine post and a very taxing :26.1 opening panel to gamely hold on for a nose victory in 1:50.4 over the fast closing Maxdaddy Blue Chip with Mach West less than a length away at the end. Once again, Dave Ingraham is expected to be back in Ideal Feeling's bike and is actually the co-third choice in the morning line at 5 to 1 starting from the outside 8 post. Morning line favoritism has been assigned to Mach West, who loomed boldly in the lane in last week's event to just miss by three-parts-of-a-length. Wally Hennessey will drive Mach West for the Mike Deters trainee owned by Jerold Hawks. Maxdaddy Blue Chip, 9 to 2 in the morning line, was just a lip away last Sunday and paced his final 3/4s in 1:23 for Mike Simons. This eight year-old gelded son of Sportswriter is trained by Jim McDonald for Twenty Four Carrot Racing. The Hoosier Park invader Dash Of Danger, who has been known to be able to turn on the "afterburners" in the stretch is the co-third choice at 5 to 1 and will have trainer Kyle Husted in the sulky for Amy Cruise and David Brigham. Other first time invaders are Real Peace and Let's Roll while Bunkerhill Phill and Loud Splash complete the very talented and competitive octet. Sunshine State Stakes action continues on Sunday night, as well, as four divisions for the two year-olds (two off the betting card) will also be contested. On the betting card, Ifnotmewho and Prairie Virtue will renew their rivalry in filly trot while Sheza Terror, KK's Dream Girl and Prairie Sweetness, all involved in a photo finish last time out, will lock horns again in the filly pace. On the "better for the bettor" ledger, Pompano Park will offer a $10,000 guarantee on the Pick-4 (12% takeout), which begins on race six, as well as thee Late Pick-3 on the final trio of races. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry, for Pompano Park  

Different horse, same result for Larry Stalbaum in the Monday Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The dominant force in the local Open in the last couple of seasons has been Crockets Cullen N. That veteran harness racing campaigner has thrived for Stalbaum and won the Open last week (Oct 26). On Monday, Stalbaum unveiled his American Zest A (American Ideal) at the Spa for the first time. The Aussie invader was winless in five starts since coming to the U.S. but came in off his strongest effort, a second-place finish at Pocono Downs. Stalbaum powered American Zest A out to the front-end on Monday and the race's 2-5 betting favorite moved quickly on a windy day in Saratoga. After a first quarter in a demanding 27.2, American Zest A got a half in 57.2 without facing a challenge. Perennial local star Artful Way (Billy Dobson) powered up first-over on the favorite and those two went toe-to-toe in the stretch before American Zest A held on to win in 1:54.2.   Artful Way was the runner-up while No Ordinary Man (Phil Fluet) earned the show spot in the $9,350 co-feature. American Zest A is owned, trained and was driven to victory by Stalbaum. The Open Trot was won by a familiar face on Monday as Kyle Spagnola's Waiting On A Woman (Mike Polansky) went coast-to-coast with Phil Fluet in the sulky. The 12 year old Waiting On A Woman returned to the Spa off a victory at Plainridge and was back into the local Open where he had a win and a second in his last two tries. Enjoying comfortable fractions on the engine, Waiting On A Woman cruised through a first half in 59.3 without facing a challenge. The backfield was in motion heading to three quarters as Stone In Love (Brian Cross) and Gruden (Billy Dobson) began making progress from the back of the pack. Waiting On A Woman held off those rivals to win in 1:59 while Gruden closed to be second. Stone In Love earned the show spot in the $9,350 Open for trotters. Waiting On A Woman, whose win was his third in a local Open in 2020, is owned by Mike Polansky of Loudonville, NY. Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga with a Noon first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

CHESTER, PA -- A 1:50.1 score from Vettel N ($6.20) in Sunday afternoon's $14,400 top-level pacing feature at Harrah's Philadelphia was the cornerstone of a hat trick for the sister-brother harness racing team of trainer Jenn Bongiorno and driver Joe Bongiorno. The 7-year-old American Ideal gelding sealed off the pocket behind early pacesetter Beach Boogie (Simon Allard) when the gate sprung, and then angled out to seize command at the end of a :27.2 first quarter. From there, Vettel N traveled virtually uncontested through middle splits of :55.2 and 1:22.3 -- only having to contend with a mild first-over challenge from Shneonucrzydiamnd A (Montrell Teague) on approach to the far turn. After parrying that first foe, Vettel N found himself in the crosshairs of 6-5 favorite Itsrockandroll A (Corey Callahan) off the home turn. Vettel N rose to that challenge as well, prevailing by a diminishing half length while driven out. Itsrockandroll A was a strong second, another half length better than Beach Boogie, who rode the pocket for third. Jenn and Joe Bongiorno co-own 24-time winner Vettel N with Brent Hershberger and Robert Devine. The Bongiornos also won with Alex Tye ($2.20, 1:51.3) and Peace Out Posse ($4.00, 1:50.1). Trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras teamed up for three wins on the 14-race card as well, accounting for Semi Tough ($3.40, 1:51), Pyro ($4.60, 1:51.1) and Ginger Tree Marty ($3.80, 1:52). Live racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 28). The 15-race card will be led by a half-dozen John Simpson Memorial divisions for 3-year-old colts and geldings, the final stakes events of the 2020 meet. Post time is 12:25 p.m. EDT. by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia

Get Your Armor paced home for her 50th career victory, winning the fifth race at MGM Northfield Park on Saturday (October 24). The 10-year-old veteran, with 293 career starts, also has 49 seconds and 45 third-place finishes. Get Your Armor (American Ideal-Mystic Money-Nihilator) has career earnings of $518,367 with a lifetime mark of 1:52.2, taken at Northfield Park at age seven. The pacer's richest win was for a purse of $14,000 in a Fillies and Mares Open at Northfield Park, an event she has won multiple times. Get Your Armor has only won on two racing services. She has six victories at Saratoga Raceway in 2014. Since then she has scored 44 times on Northfield's Flying Turns. Get Your Armor started from the rail in the Saturday's $5,500 conditioned event. She sat forth through the :26.3 and :55.1 initial quarters before starting her first-over bid. Get Your Armor took the lead by the 1:24.1 three-quarter clocking and won by 2¼-lengths. The $4.20 winner posted a final time of 1:53.   Sam Schillaci Jr. of Silver Springs, New York owns Get Your Armor. Trainer Sam Schillaci called upon Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the winning drive. by Ayers Ratliff, for MGM Northfield Park

It is still to be determined whether or not there will be end of the harness racing season awards given out at Saratoga Casino Hotel this year due to the abbreviated season and the major reduction in Opens contested. If there are awards, you can pretty much lock up Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year for Bontz N (American Ideal). The Gary Levine trainee was dynamic earlier in the season, winning four consecutive installments of the Open for distaffers and on Tuesday afternoon (Oct 13), she added another to her tally. Bontz N came into the $9,350 Fillies and Mares Open off a victory but she had dropped in class to secure that win. Leading driver Billy Dobson was back in the bike on Tuesday as the nine year old mare cruised out to early lead in the feature. Clicking off a first quarter in 27.3 before going a half in 57 seconds over a sloppy track, Bontz N was met with her first challenge approaching three quarters. She rebuffed a first-over rival and held strong in the stretch before reporting home a three-quarters of a length winner in 1:55.1.   The race's 3-5 betting favorite, Bontz N recorded her sixth Open victory of the season besting Racine Bell (Jimmy Devaux) and Pasultimatedelite N (Jay Randall) who first second and third, respectively. The exacta and triple with the favorite on top paid $16.20 and $96. Levine holds a small lead in the trainer standings after a pair of Tuesday victories. Bontz N accounted for one of three wins for her connections as Levine and Dobson teamed up with owner of April Aldrich of Greenfield Center, NY for victories with pacers JK Heaven Sent (Rock N Roll Heaven) and Western Beachboy (Somebeachsomewhere). The latter sizzled through the slop winning in a dazzling 1:52.2 with Dobson in the bike. The meet's leading driver piloted four winners on the card. Live racing takes place every Monday and Tuesday afternoon with first post time set for noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

DAYTON, OH - Americanprimetime (Jeremy Smith) adapted favorably to the bright lights of the featured $16,000 Mares Open Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Friday night (Oct. 10). Despite a triple jump up in harness racing class following consecutive triumphs in a pair of condition races, the 8-year-old stallion by American Ideal went gate-to-wire in 1:49.3 to top nine other classy foes and claim the top prize at 8-1 odds.   Smith was resolute in his desire to dictate the pace from his inside post position and got every call through fractions of :26.1, :54, 1:21.1 and 1:49.3. Fellow longshot American Dreamer (Kayne Kauffman) followed the winner every step of the way, but had to settle for the runnerup finish at 18-1. GD Western Joe (Chris Page, 7-1) rallied late to grab the show dough.       American Primetime paid $18.60 to win, the correct exacta returned $132.20, and the 50-cent trifecta kicked back $647.25. The winner is owned by the Rock & Roll Stable of Chicago and trained by red hot trainer Ken Rucker.   From Hollywood Dayton Raceway    

American Courage remained undefeated in his young harness racing career scoring in 1:54.2 in New York Sire Stakes action at Yonkers Raceway Tuesday night. American Courage is now a perfect 7 for 7 with four consecutive wins in New York Sire Stakes action for two-year-old pacing colts, taking the $70,300 second race division. Driver Matt Kakaley moved to the lead approaching the first quarter and held sway to a half-length victory over I'll Drink To That with Sexy Blue Chip four and one-quarter lengths further back in third.   The son of American Ideal now has three wins at Yonkers Raceway, having taken the MGM Springfield Stakes Elimination and Final last month. The $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Final will be at Yonkers Saturday September 12 as part of the $1.8 million New York Night of Champions with eight division finals. There was a non-betting $69,000 New York Sire Stakes division before the card and Sauvignon Blue Chip led at every point to a 1:54.4 victory. Tyler Buter guided the son of Art Major to his first lifetime win for trainer and co-owner David Dziengiel. Live racing resumes at Yonkers Thursday with a 7:12pm first post. Racing is currently being conducted four nights a week: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. by Alex Dadoyan for Yonkers Raceway

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 18, 2020 -- Touchamatic moved powerfully first over and rolled on to a convincing harness racing win in Tuesday's feature at The Meadows, a $10,800 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace. Touchamatic was away third, and when Aaron Merriman tipped her off the cones, she gobbled up the leader, Amelia's Courage A, and scored in 1:51.3. Always Giggling rallied from last for second, 1/2 length back, while Camera Lady shot the Lightning Lane for show.   Bill Bercury trains the 6-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch who now boasts 33 wins in 100 lifetime starts and earnings of $477,954, for Renee Bercury. Jim Pantaleano collected three wins on the 15-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the 15-race program features a $16,576.67 carryover in the final race Super Hi-5 and an $853.81 carryover in the Early Pick 5 (race 2). First post is 12:45 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

Tioga Downs hosted two harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshmen pacing colts & geldings on Saturday (August 1). I'll Drink To That (Jim Morrill Jr.) wins the $53,100 first division. Major Bean (Jason Bartlett) went straight to the front. Sexy Blue Chip (Wally Hennessey) took over the lead just before hitting the first quarter in :28.0. Major Bean went back to the front as they headed for the stands for the first time. He led to the half in :57.3. I'll Drink To That ($14.60) made his move going first-over down the backstretch. He led to three-quarters in 1:24.4. I'll Drink To That continued to lead as they made the turn for home. Carrythetorchman (Marcus Miller) came flying as they hit the stretch but I'll Drink To That was too strong to win in a lifetime best of 1:53.2. Carrythetorchman had to settle for second. Sexy Blue Chip finished third.   I'll Drink To That is a 2-year-old colt by American Ideal-Margarita Monday. Trained by Chris Ryder for owners Craig Henderson, Lawrence Minowitz, Robert Mondillo, and Oompa's Farm. American Courage (Matt Kakaley) remains unbeaten with easy with in the $52,200 second division. Major Makover (Wally Hennessey) held a slight lead hitting the first quarter first in :27.0. Sauvignon Bluechip (Tyler Buter) took over the lead right after the first quarter but that was short lived when American Courage ($2.70) came flying by and took the lead with a lap to go. He hit the half in :56.0. Garrett's Drama (Jimmy Whittemore) came first-over to challenge as they reached the backstretch. American Courage cruised to three-quarters in 1:24.1. As they headed down the stretch it was all American Courage winning easily in a lifetime best of 1:51.3 Sauvignon Bluechip was second best. Major Makover finished third.   American Courage is a 2-year-old colt by American Ideal-Nota Fool Bluechip. He is owned by Fiddler's Creek Stables LLC and trained by Travis Alexander. He is now five for five in his young career. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (August 2) with a 13-race card starting at 1 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com. by John Horne, for Tioga Downs.

There were three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for two year old colt and gelding harness racing pacers contested at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Wednesday night. The overwhelming favorite among the freshman pacers heading into the evening was American Courage (American Ideal-Nota Fool Bluechip- Art Major) who was the dominant force in the recently completed Springfield Pace at Yonkers Raceway. The Travis Alexander trainee went two-for-two in the series highlighted by a career-best 1:53.3 victory in the $104,250 Final. The good-looking freshman came into Wednesday's try in the $47,967 division of the NYSS with an undefeated three-for-three record and was subsequently the betting public's 1-9 favorite as he looked to remain unbeaten. Driver Matt Kakaley wasted little time getting American Courage to the early lead and they never looked back winning decisively in 1:54.3 over a track labeled 'good.'   American Courage already has earnings of more than $93,000 and looks poised to have an even bigger summer as the Sire Stakes season progresses. American Courage is owned by the Fiddler's Creek Stables of West Bloomfield, MI. Town Gossip (American Ideal-Flibbertigibbet-Albert Albert) was the runner-up to American Courage in his first two career starts in the Springfield Series but on Wednesday broke his maiden in front of driver Joe Bongiorno. Town Gossip was his race's odds-on favorite as he cruised to the front-end and drew away late to prevail in 1:56.1. Owned by Robert Weinstein of Bellmore, NY, Town Gossip earned the winner's share of the $48,867 purse in his division of the NYSS on Wednesday. The talented gelding is trained by Jenn Bongiorno.   The third and final division for the freshman pacing colts went the way of King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds- Dragon Again) who parlayed his pocket ride to victory with Jason Bartlett at the controls. The Mark Harder-trained freshman drew the rail and sat the two-hole to the race's favorite Carrythetorchman (Marcus Miller) and when Bartlett gave King James Express his cue around the final turn, the gelding stormed past the favorite before stopping the timer in 1:56.3 to record his first career victory in just his second lifetime start. King James Express is owned by Harder, Frost, Carleton and Lockhart.   Live racing resumes on Monday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

YONKERS, NY - American Courage made a decisive brush to the lead approaching the first quarter and held off the pocket sitting Town Gossip to prevail in the $104,250 MGM Springfield Stakes at Yonkers Raceway Monday by a half length in 1:53.3. American Courage remains unbeaten in four lifetime harness racing starts for trainer Travis Alexander, driver Matt Kakaley and the Fiddler's Creek Stables of West Bloomfield, Michigan.His time of 1:53.3 was a lifetime mark.   The two year old colt by American Ideal is the first foal out of the Art Major mare Nota Fool Bluechip. The heavy favorite in the race, American Courage paid $2.40 to win. Crystal Beach was six and three quarter lengths back in third. by Alex Dadoyan, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Trainer Erv Miller entered three colts in the eliminations of the MGM Springfield Stakes (formerly the Lawrence B Sheppard) eliminations: Carrythetorchman, Crystal Beach, and Not Today. All three made the $104,250 final, set for Monday night (July 13) at Yonkers Raceway; Carrythetorchman by virtue of a victory and Not Today with a fourth in the second elimination and Crystal Beach with a third-place finish behind American Courage in the first elimination. With Carrythetorchman unbeaten in two baby races and his first pari-mutuel start, he leads the pack against the race’s 8-5 morning line favorite American Courage. By American Ideal out of the Astreos mare Kattimon, Carrythetorchman is a half to Classic Pro, a winner of two Ontario Sire Stakes legs and an earner of over $500,000 to date, and a full to Grand Circuit winner and New York Sire Stakes standout Devil Child. Carrythetorchman was a $70,000 buy from the 2019 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for Miller and owners Ronald Michelon and War Horse Stable. “He’s a good conformation horse. You might want one a little bigger for the big stuff, but for New York, I thought he was about the right size for getting around the half,” Miller said. “So far, he’s proven that. He doesn’t wear any boots and just gets around the half-mile track real easy.” Although Miller says Carrythetorchman showed class from the beginning of his training, the colt began to develop a bad habit while training in Florida over the winter and into the spring as he dealt with minor foot trouble. “Early on, he was really good. Then he went through a phase and I think it was more his feet than anything just had him where he wasn’t happy with what he was doing,” Miller said. “He wasn’t easy to keep under control when they jogged. He’d switch back and forth from the pace to the trot and we got that under control by leaving the hopples on him all the time.  “He was really fussy on the track at one time, but now he doesn’t do anything wrong,” Miller continued. “Since we got him close, a couple weeks before qualifying, he gotten over everything and it seemed like he was way better.” With that hiccup behind them, Miller shipped Carrythetorchman and the rest of his stable from Florida to Pennsylvania’s Wingate Farm uncertain when the horses would be able to qualify. With efforts to contain the coronavirus closing racetracks across North America, Wingate improvised, like many training centers throughout the country. “With COVID-19, it was just one of those things that we had to come up with a new solution. We couldn’t go anywhere to get qualified, so we came up with the next best plan,” Miller said. “I saw it coming when we left Florida, PA is shut down, things aren’t moving, so we better see if we can get our farm OK’d to qualify. That worked out good. We had a couple weeks of qualifiers that got things going.” Carrythetorchman was one of the horses who benefited, qualifying at home over the five-eighths mile track at Wingate June 15. He led his field of four gate-to-wire, stopping the clock in 1:59.2 with a :28 final quarter.  Nine days later, Miller was able to ship to Pocono Downs for a second baby race. Carrythetorchman left from post eight and utilized a :28.2 last quarter to power away from the field to win by 10 3/4 lengths in 1:57.  “He did really well. Because of training and knowing what kind of horse he was, we wanted to get a little faster mile in him there that day than what he did (at the farm) and expose him a little more. We did that and he just handled it really well,” Miller said. Carrythetorchman debuted July 6 at Yonkers, 20 minutes after American Courage posted a blowout 7 1/4-length win in the first MGM Springfield Stakes elimination in 1:55.2. Carrythetorchman left in between horses and glided to the front reaching the backstretch the first time. Driver Scott Zeron was simply a passenger as Carrythetorchman cruised home a 1 1/2-length winner in 1:55.4. Carrythetorchman drew post position three in the MGM Springfield Stakes Final and at 9-5, is the second choice on the morning line. American Courage will start from post four with Matt Kakaley as the 8-5 morning line favorite. “(American Courage) looked really sharp in his qualifier for this race, too. We just have to see how it plays out,” said Miller, who wasn’t sure what will happen when the two unbeaten colts face each other Monday night. Crystal Beach drew post two in the final and is a 20-1 morning line after finishing 9 lengths behind American Courage last week. Crystal Beach left hard from post five in his elimination, but was denied the lead by Major Makeover and was forced to take back into third heading to the quarter. With Crystal Beach keen in the hole, driver Marcus Miller angled to the outside turning into the stretch the first time and brushed to the top before being forced to yield again as American Courage forged to the lead at 1-5. “(Crystal Beach) really raced well the other day, but he was moved a lot, so it’s hard to tell how much he will go when he gets a nicer trip, maybe not used up quite as hard,” Miller said. “He’s also a very handy horse and gets around a half really good.” Crystal Beach was a $36,000 purchase from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and is owned by Miller and Tanah Merah Farm. Crystal Beach impressed training down and won his first baby race by 7 3/4 lengths at Wingate June 15 before finishing second behind Carrythetorchman June 24 at Pocono ahead of his debut in the Springfield elimination. “He’s been a really nice horse. He’s always trained like just a top, top colt. When you’re getting ready to race them, sometimes you don’t get quite what you expect or quite as much as you thought they trained like,” Miller said. “His biggest attribute is he’s just so handy, he’s very handy on a half-mile racetrack.” Not Today is also 20-1 on the morning line after drawing post six and will employ the driving services of Jason Bartlett. A $77,000 purchase as the Harrisburg Sale last fall, Not Today is owned by Anderson, Willinger, and Golemes.  Not Today was second behind Crystal Beach June 15, but won his trial at Pocono June 24 by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:58.4. He finished seventh 10 lengths behind American Courage in an overnight at Pocono June 30 before his fourth-place effort in the Springfield elimination last week. “He’s a little but more of an immature horse, not quite as mature as the other two, but he’s a little bigger, stronger horse. Hopefully at some point, he’ll catch up to the other guys a little bit,” Miller said. Town Gossip, Victory Move, Coalition Hanover, and Major Makeover complete the lineup for the MGM Springfield Stakes Final, carded as the fourth of eight races Monday night. “I think it’s a nice race to have. With everything going on, it’s nice for the 2-year-olds to be able to race for $100,000 right now,” Miller said. “With all the COVID-19, all the races being cut, and schedules being redone, it’s nice to still have this race.” The amended Yonkers Raceway calendar will see live harness racing conducted Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights until July 17. Beginning the week of July 20, the schedule will add Saturday nights as the track returns to its normal five night per week schedule through Dec. 19. First post time is 7:05 p.m. The complete revised racing calendar is available online here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Tioga Downs played host to two hanress racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old pacing fillies on Sunday (July 12). Both divisions raced for a purse of $59,000. Hen Party (Andrew McCarthy) rolls to easy win in the first division of the NYSS. The Fun Marshall (Mitchell Cushing) went straight to the lead but was quickly passed by Alleyesonme AS (Scott Zeron). Alleyesonme AS led to the first quarter in :27.3. Hen Party ($2.70) came first-over from third and grabbed the lead as they went by the stands for the first time. She led to the half in :55.1. She used a :28.4 third quarter to hit three-quarters in 1:24.0. As they made the turn for home the only one with a shot was second place finisher, Alleyesonme AS but she couldn't get close and Hen Party breezed home in a lifetime best time of 1:52.0. Rapunzel Bluechip (Jason Bartlett) finished a distant third.   Hen Party is a 3-year-old filly by Roll With Joe. Owned by Crawford Farms Racing and trained by Tony Alagna, she won for the second time this season. She has five career victories. Merga Hanover (Matt Kakaley) charges late to win the second division of the NYSS. Racine Bell (Jason Bartlett) flew out of the gate and went straight to the lead. She hit the first quarter in :27.0. The filly went :28.4 in the second quarter to hit the half first in :55.4. As they reached the backstretch So Rude (Joe Bongiorno) came first up and put on the pressure. Racine Bell held on to a slight lead as they hit three-quarters in 1:22.1. So Rude wrestled the lead away as they reached the stretch. Merga Hanover ($41.20) popped out of the pocket going three-wide in mid-stretch and blew right on by to win in a lifetime best of 1:51.1. So Rude held for second with Dragon Roll (Jim Morrill Jr.) coming up to get third.   Merga Hanover is a 3-year-old filly by American Ideal. She is trained by Ron Burke for owners Joe Sbrocco, WJ Donovan, Thomas and Scott Dillon. It was her first win this season. She now owns seven career victories. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Friday (July 17) starting at 4 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

Yonkers Raceway featured two elimination races for the first two-year-old stakes of the harness racing season, the MGM Springfield Stakes, on Monday night. In the first elimination, American Courage brushed to the lead approaching the half and was an easy seven and one-quarter length winner in 1:55.2 over Town Gossip with Crystal Beach third and Major Makover fourth.   The 1-5 favorite, American Courage paid $2.70 to win. The son of American Ideal was driven to victory by Matt Kakaley for trainer Travis Alexander and the Fiddler's Creek Stables of West Bloomfield, Michigan. In the second elimination, Carrythetorchman took control of the race from the start and led wire to wire to a 1:55.4 victory. Coalition Hanover was a length a half back in second with Victory Move third and Not Today fourth.   Carrythetorchman, also a son of American Ideal, also paid $2.70 to win and was driven to victory by Scott Zeron for trainer Erv Miller and owners Ronald Michelon of Northbrook, Illinois and War Horse Stables of Malvern, Pennsylvania. The top four finishers in each elimination return for the $104,250 MGM Springfield Stakes Final next Monday July 13 at Yonkers Raceway by Alex Dadoyan, for Yonkers Raceway  

Bontz N (American Ideal) continued her win streak in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday as she changed tactics to score her fourth consecutive victory in the local feature. Trainer Gary Levine thrived in 2019 after acquiring Bontz N who has enjoyed as good of a '20 campaign as could be. Thursday was the fifth start of the season for the nine year old mare who was assigned the outside post in the $8,500 feature. Bontz N came into the race on a three-race win streak, which dated back to March, with all three of those wins coming in wire-to-wire fashion. In Thursday's feature, driver Shawn Gray was forced to come from off the pace with the race's 2-1 betting favorite but the closing style suited Bontz N just fine as she put the swoop to the group before stopping the timer in 1:54.1 to record her fourth win in as many tries. The final time served as a new seasonal mark for the standout distaffer who has become the lady to beat this season at the Spa. Thats Incredible (Billy Dobson) came charging hard in the stretch to finish second while Jewels Forreal (Mark Beckwith) closed to be third. Bontz N paid $6.90 to win and led an exacta and triple that paid $27.20 and $136, respectively. Live racing resumes on Sunday at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12 Noon. There will be a $3,885 carryover in the Pick Five pool with the Pick Five beginning in the afternoon's first race. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

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