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WASHINGTON, PA, June 13, 2018 -- Barn Girl thwarted the late challenge of Ready Any Time and went on to capture Wednesday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Trot at The Meadows, her eighth win in 11 starts this year and the 50th victory of her career. Barn Girl endured a demanding opening quarter -- three wide in 27.1 -- before reaching the front, a trip that could have made her vulnerable. But in characteristic fashion, she dug in for Aaron Merriman when Ready Any Time loomed boldly and defeated her by 3/4 lengths in 1:54. The pocket-sitting Expose Yourself finished third. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, a 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie who lifted her lifetime bankroll to $683,668, for Renee Bercury. It was one four wins on the 13-race program for Merriman. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday, when the card features a pair of rich total-pool guarantees -- $12,500 for the Pick 4, $5,000 for the Pick 5 -- as well as a $2,404.55 carryover in the day's first Superfecta and a $2,517/70 jackpot in the final-race Super High 5. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 2, 2018 -- In a rare battle of millionaires, Dapper Dude got the jump on Dancin Yankee and held him at bay late to capture Saturday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dapper Dude was drafting in the pocket behind his stablemate, Anythingforlove A, when Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. sent him after the lead past the three-quarters. The 9-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest blew by in a heartbeat, with Dancin Yankee in tow. Dapper Dude downed Dancin Yankee by a head in 1:50 while 56-1 long shot Rock The Nite rallied for show. Bill Bercury trains Dapper Dude, who now boasts a career bankroll of $1,242,500, for Renee Bercury. With his place check, Dancin Yankee soared over $1.7 million in lifetime earnings. The Bercurys were at it again in Saturday's co-feature, the $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot. There, Barn Girl -- trained by Bill, owned by Renee -- won a heated three-way scrum for the early lead and prevailed in 1:53, a tick off her career best. The 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie now has won $673,668, and she improved her career winning percentage to a nifty 50 -- 49 victories in 98 starts. Dave Palone piloted three winners, including a pair for trainer Mike Palone, on the 12-race card GEORGE BONOMO WINS BILLINGS LEG  WASHINGTON, PA, June 2, 2018 -- 'Chicago' George Bonomo squeezed off the cones with Time Outa Jail down the backside, gobbled up the tiring leader and captured Saturday's $10,000 leg of the C.K.G. Billings amateur trot at The Meadows in a 10-1/4-length romp. Once Bonomo and Time Outa Jail found racing room, they surged past Mike "The Mortgage Man" Mitchell and Ki Ki Canolli and scored in 1:58. Bob "The Lumberman" Troyer was second with JLS Too Hot Taj while Michelle "The Belle" Ruvola and Better Call Saul rallied from a backside break to earn show. When Ruvola finished third, she assured that family bragging rights would remain with Bonomo, her father -- at least until the next Billings event. Christ Hershberger trains Time Outa Jail, a 7-year-old Jailhouse Jesse-Two Timer gelding who extended his career bankroll to $252,533, for 'Chicago' George and Rose Bonomo. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Columbus, OH --- When Bill Bercury took his future wife, Renee, out on their first date, he selected The Meadows as his venue of choice. For two people that were not involved in harness racing in any way, shape or form, it’s pretty darn ironic their lifetime commitment has not only included a magnificent relationship, but two of The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association’s 2017 award winners in Barn Girl and Dapper Dude. “Neither one of us knew anything about horses,” Bercury said. “But we did know we liked them. I just thought it was a good place to take someone on a first date because everything was there for us. Who would have thought this would ever happen? And it is because I do have such a wonderful wife; she has never been anything but supportive of the horses.” When the Bercurys had the opportunity to acquire world champion Barn Girl in Nov. 2016, they did not hesitate. After all, the daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie was a veritable winning machine and had already amassed $315,146 while competing in the New York Excelsior Series, New York Sire Stakes and Open events at The Meadows. “She came up for sale because Ron Burke had so many good female trotters, like Hannelore Hanover, he was thinking he couldn’t get them all raced,” Bercury said. “I am so grateful and fortunate we could get her. She is tied for the world record on a half-mile track at Northfield (1:53) and she just loves to race; she loves to pass horses.” With a record of 90-43-17-16 and $583,368 in the bank, Barn Girl, a 6-year-old, has demonstrated her ability on many occasions and will continue to do so in 2018 as The MSOA's defending champion older trotting mare. “She is nervous and is like that all the time,” Bercury said. “She can be tough to deal with and when she bites, she bites hard and when she kicks it is with purpose, but she is easy to drive. Aaron Merriman has done a great job with her and really loves her.” The Bercurys also own Dapper Dude, The MSOA's older pacing horse/gelding of the year. The 9-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest defeated world champion Sweet Lou to claim the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship in 2012. Dapper Dude also finished ahead of that rival, but behind Thinking Out Loud and Time To Roll in that year’s $1,470,000 North America Cup final. State Treasurer, A Rock N Roll Dance, Pet Rock and Warrawee Needy were also in his wake. “When I first heard he was up for sale (in 2015) I was outbid on him,” Bercury said. “So when I heard he was up for sale again (in 2016) I jumped on it and didn’t ask any questions. He is such a great horse to be around. You can do anything with him and he has excellent manners; he’s just a joy to be around.” To date, Dapper Dude has amassed $1.18 million and sports a resume of 158-42-28-30. He, like Barn Girl, will remain primarily in the Keystone State for this year’s campaign. “We are not going to do the Miss Versatility Series with Barn Girl this year,” Bercury said. “It just didn’t work out for her last year and we think she is a second tier mare, but a very good second tier. We might go to Miami Valley with her, but otherwise she will stay close to home. With Dapper Dude, we will also keep him here; he’s right there every time.” The Bercurys, however, may have a fortuitous issue as two of their six horses will likely have to compete against one another as their newly acquired world champion, Wind Of The North, will most likely have to take on Barn Girl yet again. “I think he is just going to have a great season,” Bercury said. “Not that I don’t think Barn Girl or Dapper Dude won’t and I also have two 4-year-olds I think will do well, but I think this horse is going to do really well. He fits in perfectly with our stable and has his own paddock he goes out in every day, like everyone else, and he seems really happy. He is another horse that is great to be around and you can do anything with. He’s the only one I own, as Renee owns all the rest of our horses. And he has already beaten Barn Girl.” No matter what the future holds for the Bercury stable, Bill credits Renee for a majority of their success. “She is never afraid to take a chance,” he said. “I have to give her a lot of credit for seeing opportunities and believing in them with the horses. And we have our motto and stick to it: harness racing is fun. That is just what we believe in and how we approach it.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 9, 2017 -- Dapper Dude collected his 13th win this season when he withstood the determined challenge of Meadowbrook Tiger and captured Saturday's $20,000 harness racing winners over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dapper Dude retook the lead for Aaron Merriman following a swift 26.3 quarter only to face the menacing Meadowbrook Tiger, who gained steadily through the final turn. Dapper Dude shook loose in mid-stretch and scored in 1:53.3, a length better than the rallying Sam Hill, while Meadowbrook Tiger saved show. Bill Bercury trains Dapper Dude, an 8-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest who now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $1,178,280, for Renee Bercury. Dave Palone, Jim Pantaleano and trainer Ron Burke each fashioned a three-bagger on the 12-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 7, 2017 -- Barn Girl zipped to the front for Aaron Merriman and had little trouble with the harness racing field or sloppy surface from there, powering to her 13th victory this year in Tuesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Ahead by a length at the three-quarters, Barn Girl poured it on late and defeated Bags For All by 3 lengths in 1:55.1, with the pocket-sitting Glidinthruparadise third. Bill Bercury trains the 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie, who triumphed for the 24th time over the past two seasons and extended her career bankroll to $546,968, for Renee Bercury. Dave Palone collected four wins -- including three for trainer Ron Burke -- while Brady Brown enjoyed a triple on the 13-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 31, 2017 -- Racing off a 40-day layoff and parked the entire first quarter from post 9, Barn Girl hung tough in the lane and captured Tuesday's $20,000 harness racing filly & mare Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Barn Girl, who last performed in the Sept. 21 Miss Versatility final at the Delaware County Fair -- she finished third -- was dogged the entire back half by the first-over Classical Annie. But the 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie dug in for Aaron Merriman and edged Classical Annie by a neck in 1:55.2. Fancytucky rallied for show. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, who won for the 12th time this year and now boasts $537,968 in career earnings, for Renee Bercury. It was one of three victories for Merriman on the 13-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 29, 2017 -- It took her three tries, but Barn Girl finally wore down a determined Goodtogo Hanover and captured Tuesday's $20,000 harness racing filly & mare  $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. The two mares dueled for the early lead, and when Goodtogo Hanover and Brian Zendt refused to release Barn Girl, Aaron Merriman settled her into the two hole. She pulled the pocket and attacked once again down the backside but still could not clear. Finally, when it looked as though Goodtogo Hanover might pull off the upset, Barn Girl gathered her talent and resolve in the stretch and downed her stubborn rival by a head in 1:55. Classical Annie was third. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, a 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie who won for the 22nd time over the past two seasons and extended her career bankroll to $511,108, for Renee Bercury. Mike Wilder piloted four winners while Tony Hall and Merriman each enjoyed a triple on the 13-race card. Because Wednesday's card at The Meadows is the final program of the Mountain Laurel meeting, no pool can be carried over. Therefore, the Pick 4, Pick 5 and final superfecta all are "must pay." First post is 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, July 8, 2017 -- Dapper Dude zipped to the lead from post 8 before releasing Lincolnjames, then blew by him in the lane to capture Saturday's $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. That early battle for the front went in a demanding 26.2, but Dapper Dude had enough left for Dick Stillings to edge the rallying Knocking Around by a nose in 1:51.3, with Rip This Joint third. Bill Bercury trains the 8-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest, who boosted his lifetime bankroll to $1,115,480, for Renee Bercury. Tony Hall, Aaron Merriman, Dave Palone and Mike Wilder each collected a pair of wins on the 12-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the program features an $80,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake for freshman filly trotters as well as a $15,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4, races 4-7. First post is 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, June 23, 2017 -- Fifth by 6 lengths when he launched his relentless uncovered move, Dapper Dude nailed Lincolnjames in the shadow of the wire to capture Friday's $18,000 harness racing winners over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Lincolnjames opened a 2-length lead turning for home, but a 26.2 opening panel over a sloppy surface left him vulnerable to Dapper Dude's pressure. The 8-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest edged Lincolnjames by 1/2 length in 1:50.2 for Aaron Merriman, with the rallying Knocking Around third. With the victory, Dapper Dude vaulted over $1.1 million in career earnings for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Dapper Dude Dave Palone collected five wins, including a pair for trainer Ron Burke, on the 12-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, first post 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, May 24, 2017 -- The harness racing veteran Tamarind displayed his class and toughness Wednesday at The Meadows when he sustained a first-over bid in the slop and went on to capture the featured race, a $13,000 conditioned trot. Tamarind was fourth near the half when Aaron Merriman sent him after the leader, Classic Banker. It took the 9-year-old son of Angus Hall-Spicegirl Kosmos most of the back half to wear down Classic Banker, but he drew off in the stretch to prevail in 1:55. Mike The Trader rallied for second, 2-1/2 lengths back, while Classic Banker saved show. Bill Bercury owns and trains Tamarind, who boosted his career bankroll to $892,084. Mike Wilder and Merriman each fashioned a three-bagger on the 12-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes with a special Friday card that features the $72,000 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old filly trotters. First post is 5 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, May 16, 2017 -- Stuck three-wide through a sizzling 26.4 opening quarter, Barn Girl showed her grit when she held off all harness racing challengers to capture Tuesday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. When Barn Girl finally reached the front near the three-eighths, she shrugged off the first-over move of Bessie. A more serious threat was Princess Pablano, who went three-wide down the backside and drew even with Barn Girl into the final turn. But Barn Girl drew off for Aaron Merriman in late stretch and downed Princess Pablano by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:53.4. Bessie persevered for show. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, a 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie who has won 18 times over the past two seasons and $455,108 for her career, for Renee Bercury. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, April 4, 2017 -- Dismissed at 18-1 thanks to a stale date and poor post position, Box Of Luck zipped right to the front and pulled off the harness racing upset in Tuesday's Tamarind Trot at The Meadows. DD's Comet captured the other $15,000 opening-leg division -- and gave Aaron Merriman his 9,000th career win -- in the series for 3-year-old colts and geldings. The event honors Tamarind, long a top performer at The Meadows and still active for owner/trainer Bill Bercury. Box Of Luck earned $39,225 at 2 but ended his season Sept. 11 off a stretch of subpar performances. He hadn't raced since then and was saddled with post 8 for his return. But when Mike Wilder sent him to the lead, the Lucky Chucky-New DVD gelding thwarted the first-over bid of Rockefeller Lindy and prevailed in 1:58, 1-1/4 lengths better than Media Buzz. Rockefeller Lindy saved show. Robert Rougeaux III trains Box Of Luck for Brocious Racing Stable and Lone Wolf Stable. In the $13,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Handicap Trot, Goodtogo Hanover withstood nearly race-long pressure from Oho Diamond to down her by a head in 1:55, with the pocket-sitting Bags For All third. Brian Zendt drove for trainer Phillip Zendt and owner Gary Saul. The 4-year-old daughter of Explosive Matter-Grammy Hall extended her career bankroll to $171,427. Jim Pantaleano piloted three winners on the 13-race card.   The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, March 20, 2017 -- Dapper Dude stalked Mykindachip from the pocket, then blew by him in the lane to capture Monday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dapper Dude chased Mykindachip through a 1:23 three-quarters before Aaron Merriman vacated the pocket and asked the millionaire for pace. The 8-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest responded by wearing down Mykindachip and downing him by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:50.4. Heavenly Knox shot the Lightning Lane for show. Bill Bercury trains Dapper Dude, who boosted his lifetime bankroll to $1,060,520, for Renee Bercury. In Monday's companion feature, the $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace, Rockin Rum Springa cut out a brutal 25.3 opening panel but had enough to hold on and triumph by 1/2 length in 1:52.1 for Eric Goodell, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Dime A Dance and Southwind Roulette, a Doug Snyder-trained entry, finished second and third, respectively. A 4-year-old daughter of Rockin Image-Deferred Comp, Rockin Rum Springa now boasts $185,611 in career earnings. Dave Palone piloted four winners on the 13-race card while Burke fashioned a triple. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows  

Barn Girl, Dapper Dude, Tamarind and two other harness racing horses live on a farm in Slippery Rock. When they see the horse trailer, they get very excited because they know they are going to The Meadows racetrack. “They really, truly, love to race,” said William Bercury, who trains the horses that are owned by his wife, Renee Bercury. I “met” Barn Girl in January when she calmly stepped off the track after trotting faster than seven other mares and fillies to win the featured race of the day. I thought she looked small, as horses go, and dainty. The 5-year-old bay mare is 15.1 hands high and 815 pounds, Bercury told me. Proving that in her case, neither size nor sex matters. Barn Girl “beat the boys” on Feb. 15, Bercury said in a telephone interview. The only mare in the Preferred Handicap Trot, Barn Girl beat stallions and geldings, which is easier said than done because they generally are 100 pounds heavier and 4 inches taller than she is. Barn Girl is almost diminutive compared to the famous thoroughbred Secretariat. The Triple Crown winner nicknamed “Big Red” was 16.2 hands high and 1,155 pounds. Growing up without a horse of my own, I was entranced by the Walter Farley horse books, especially “The Black Stallion” and “The Black Stallion’s Sulky Colt.” Hanging out in The Meadows paddock on Jan. 18 with people who live the kind of lives that Farley wrote about, I got to ask and Bercury and their driver, Aaron Merriman, a series of dumb questions that they patiently answered. Do you talk to the horses when you are racing? Do they listen to you? How smart are horses? Do you have a favorite horse? Are the horses happy if they win? How do you communicate with them and control them when you are riding in a sulky behind them rather than sitting astride their backs? Merriman, the winningest harness racing driver in the country in 2015 and 2016, says he talks to horses during races, and they listen. “When they flick their ears back, they’re listening. But when their ears go flat on their head, they’re mad. You don’t want to see that,” he said. Bercury is always watching Barn Girl’s ears because they are often edging toward flat. “She’s a mare, and she is a very wary mare,” he said. Not to be sexist, but horse people generally agree that mares are moodier and harder to handle than geldings, which are neutered males. “Around mares you need to be attentive and do things their way,” Bercury said. “If you want a nice, easygoing horse, go with a gelding.” Since the couple bought Barn Girl in October, “she has adapted well to her surroundings, and we have adapted well to her ways,” Bercury said. “Mike, our assistant, treats her like a pet. We often enter the barn and find him singing or talking to her in the mellow tones of true love.” Since she moved into the Bercury stables, Barn Girl has had 11 starts and seven first-place wins, two seconds and two third-place finishes. Her lifetime record for 61 races is 30 wins, 10 seconds and 12 thirds. Her lifetime earnings are $394,196. Bercury said they bought Barn Girl from Ron Burke, “the top trainer in the country and perhaps the world. He sold us this horse because he had several mares in the same category … Ron Burke and his staff have been Barn Girl’s biggest fans since we bought her and have cheered us on as friends and first-class competitors.” Many animal lovers don’t think horses are as smart as dogs. Some people don’t think they’re smart at all. “Oh, they’re smarter than you’d think,” said Merriman, 38, who has been driving since 1999. Horses are especially smart about “picking up on people who fear or dislike them. They respond well if you’re relaxed and confident.” “Absolutely I have favorite horses,” he said. “They’re not necessarily the fastest horses. They’re the ones that try the hardest.” Merriman drives all of the Bercury horses, including Dapper Dude, an 8-year-old stallion with more than $1 million in lifetime earnings. He also drives horses for many other trainers and diplomatically did not provide the names of his favorite or least-favorite horses. “Some horses are happy when they pass a horse on the track,” Merriman said. “Some seem to enjoy being out in front.” Bercury, who with his wife has owned horses since 1978, is convinced “they want to win. I think they know the object is to beat the other horses. If they have confidence in the driver, they go.” “Aaron is not just a driver. He’s a horseman,” Bercury said. “He knows horses and he likes them, and that makes a difference. I have never seen him put a whip to a horse.” The driver uses the reins to guide the horse during the race. There are horses who would prefer to pick their own race route, Bercury said with a chuckle, but “their way is usually not the smart way.” So how do drivers and trainers communicate with harness racing horses? When you ride astride a horse, your legs are used to control and send signals and cues to the horse. You can put your hands on their necks to calm or encourage them. You can learn forward to talk to them. In a sulky or job cart, driver only have their hands. “When I drive or train, I really only have two fingers on the reins,” Bercury said. So some of the communication between drivers and race horses is akin to some form of magic that can neither be explained nor taught. The stalls of each of the Bercury horses open up into their own individual pastures. The horses are able to visit each other over the the fences. Tamarind, 9, is currently in the final weeks of what Bercury calls his “vacation.” The stallion wasn’t sick or lame when Bercury gave him six weeks off from training and racing. A vacation is just something Bercury believes a horse needs, now and then. “These horses give it their all. They work very hard, and they need time to be horses. They roll in the snow or do whatever they want to do. It’s their choice.” “Some people say they can’t afford vacations. I say I can’t afford not to.” By Linda Wilson Fuoco Reprinted with permission of The Sun-Gazette

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 18, 2017 -- Trailing by 7-1/2 lengths at the half, Barn Girl unleashed a sustained bid for Aaron Merriman that carried her to an impressive harness racing victory -- her third straight and sixth in her last seven starts -- in Wednesday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. A determined Whata Donato, who was parked to the three-eighths before getting the lead, appeared to have the field put away heading into the stretch. But Barn Girl rocketed by her, drawing off to defeat her by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:56.4 over a "good" surface. Early leader Unefoisdansmavie earned show. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, a 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie who triumphed for the 29th time in 58 career outings (50 percent) and extended her lifetime bankroll to $377,796, for Renee Bercury. Wilbur Yoder and trainer Norm Parker teamed for a pair of wins on the 13-race card while Dave Palone, Dan Rawlings and Merriman also enjoyed two-baggers. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 27, 2016 -- Barn Girl quarter-poled to the lead, then held off the menacing challenge of Princess Pablano to capture Tuesday's $18,000 harness racing filly & mare Preferred Trot at The Meadows. Barn Girl was on a seemingly easy lead at the three-quarters when she was confronted by the first-over Princess Pablano, who drew even into the final turn. Barn Girl dug deep for Aaron Merriman and prevailed in 1:56.2, a neck better than the game Princess Pablano. Unefoisdansmavie shot the Lightning Lane for show. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, a 4-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie who won for the fourth time in her last five starts and extended her lifetime bankroll to $357,796, for Renee Bercury. Dave Palone piloted three winners on the 14-race card, including a pair for trainer Ron Burke. Because Wednesday's program at The Meadows closes the current meeting and the 2016 live racing schedule -- no carryovers are permitted. Therefore, the Pick 4 (races 4-7 with a $5,000 total-pool guarantee), Pick 5 (races 9-13 with a $2,483.89 carryover from Tuesday) and the final superfecta on the card are all "must pay." In addition, the day's first superfecta features a $3,886.26 carryover, as Tuesday's final superfecta was uncovered.   The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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