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YONKERS, N.Y. - As the longtime trainer and driver of $904,593-earner The Real One, Pat Lachance could easily take credit for much of the Mach Three gelding’s success. Instead, the harness racing horseman defers praise to owner Helene Fillion, who is understanding of The Real One’s off-the-pace style and doesn’t pressure Lachance to take the horse out of his comfort zone. “I think the key is the owner. We’re on the same page, we understand how he races and we understand that sometimes you’re at the mercy of the pace and it’s not going to work out, but you also know that if you fire him up and send him out of there, it’s not going to work either, so you try to race him the way he likes to race and try to win the race,” Lachance said. “That’s the biggest asset. I give her a lot of credit because she never puts pressure on him. He’s the kind of horse that if you had put pressure on him, he never would have been The Real One, he’d never be what he is, no question in my mind,” Lachance continued. “He’s the type of horse that if you put pressure on him, it’s not good. He wouldn’t be racing right now if that wasn’t the case.” Fillion bought then 3-year-old The Real One online for $10,000 in 2014 and initially trained him herself. After a slow start at Rideau Carlton, where The Real One failed to finish in the trifecta, Fillion campaigned her budding star to a win and three more placings at Hippodrome 3R. Recognizing his talent, Fillion sent The Real One to Lachance to compete for the rich purses at Yonkers Raceway. “She lives maybe 10 minutes from where I was raised as a kid until I was 10 on the farm in Montreal,” Lachance said. “I never knew her until this horse and she was looking for somebody who’s French-Canadian who she can communicate with and she knows I take care of my horses and I have a good reputation for taking care of them and she wanted to send them to somebody that she trusts. “It means a lot to me because you don’t see that as much anymore and obviously there’s not a lot of trainer-drivers around, I’m one of the few and people still like that,” he continued. “People still come to me because of that, so it makes me feel great, no question.” The Real One blossomed under Lachance’s tutelage. He’s won 41 of 150 races with another 50 placings. Last year, he took a lifetime mark of 1:50.0 when setting an all-age track record in the Open Handicap at Yonkers November 19. With six wins, including a 1:50.3 score in the Yonkers Open September 23 and $179,350 in earnings this year, The Real One isn’t showing any signs of slowing down nearing the end of his 7-year-old season. The Real One’s class and closing style help keep him in top form, Lachance explained. “It’s very rare that you see horses stay at this level for four years in a row. It’s amazing,” he said. “He’s just so consistent and just a nice horse, a top horse, and he just does his job. He loves to race, he stays sound. We’re very fortunate to have him. “He’s a closer, he likes to chase, he has one big run. He’s not a front-runner, he’s not a horse that you want to send out of there. He likes to finish up at the end and pick off horses. That style of racing, it just gives him a chance to stay good,” Lachance explained. As a trainer-driver, Lachance gets the opportunity to know his horses habits on the racetrack better than most. The Real One is no exception and Lachance understands exactly what he can and can’t do in the driver’s seat. “He can get a little grabby, he can get a little anxious. That’s the only thing he does wrong,” he said. “When he follows cover sometimes you’ve got to be a little careful with him that way. Besides that, he’s pretty much ok. You just can’t fire him up too much.” Despite posting a neck victory in last week’s pacing feature, an open draw in Saturday’s (Nov. 19) $40,000 Open Pace afforded The Real One the rare luxury of starting along the pylons. The Real One has started from posts seven or eight in three of his last five starts and hasn’t drawn inside post four since winning a $35,000 overnight from post two August 19. Lachance plans to be more aggressive as a result. “I definitely want to protect the rail a little bit, no question,” Lachance said. “I’ll try and get away as close as I can without firing him up to where he’s out of control. If I fire him up, he’s going to want to go a thousand out of there and that’s not good for him. I’ll try to keep him as relaxed as I can and try to keep him as close as I can and we’ll take it from there. “If we end up in the two-hole, great. If not, I can come first-up with him and he likes that, he doesn’t mind that,” he continued. “Hopefully things work out for us, but there’s definitely a lot worse spots than the rail.” The Real One is the 3-1 morning line choice in Saturday’s Open Pace, but isn’t the only local standout moving inside. Bit Of A Legend drew post four and off a third place finish last week, is the 7-2 second choice on the line. Caviart Luca, last week’s runner up, will start from post seven while Dr. J Hanover, a wire to wire Open Handicap winner Oct. 28, drew post eight. Orillia Joe, Maxdaddy Blue Chip, Scott Rocks, and Blood Brother complete the field. “Bit Of A Legend is probably the horse to beat in there, there’s a few other ones. They’re in the open for a reason, they can all win with a trip, so hopefully it all works out,” Lachance said. “We’ve been assigned the seven and eight hole quite a bit, so we have the rail now, so we’ll take advantage of it.” First post time Saturday at Yonkers Raceway is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Since taking out her harness racing trainers’ license in June, Jennifer Bongiorno has enjoyed immediate and steady success at Yonkers Raceway. She’s sent out 18 winners from 73 starts for an 18 percent strike rate and posted another 27 placings. Despite her flying start and a contingent of top-class horses in her stable, a victory in the lucrative local Open ranks has proven elusive. Bongiorno will have another chance at her first Open win with Georgie’s Pockets in Sunday’s $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. “I couldn’t be happier with the results. I give full credit to the horses I have and the owners I have behind me,” Bongiorno said. “The owners that I have behind me, big names that are able to provide us with horses that have talent and are able to go out there and win races. I definitely own my own horses in the barn, but you have names like Jerry Silva, Gene Kurzrok, Howard Taylor. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.” This spring, Bongiorno found herself increasingly involved in managing the horses she owned while still balancing a full-time position as a harness racing broadcaster at The Meadowlands. Bongiorno knew her true passion was with the horses and with the help of her younger brother, driver Joe Bongiorno, decided to take the plunge into training her own stable. “I felt like I was constantly at work just worrying about the horses I owned and talking to different trainers that I’m friendly with and wanting to learn more about that end of the game,” she said. “So really, I just took a leap of faith and I knew I would have the support of my brother, which is immense. “I definitely feel I made the right decision,” she continued. “I go to work every day and I think I was at the point at The Meadowlands where it became a job for me, and now with what I’m doing, it’s not. I’m so passionate, I’m so happy. Every morning when I walk in, those horses are like kids to me. I love each and every one of them and they’re what makes me happy.” Bongiorno didn’t have to wait long to taste success. She scored her first win as a conditioner in her very first start when 5-year-old pacer Gratian Hanover won a $14,500 overnight from post eight as a 9-1 outsider June 20. “My first win, I’ve never felt that level of gratification before,” she said. “My first start was with my boy Gratian Hanover. He’s my absolute pet. Luckily, crazily enough, we had a win together. It was awesome.” Bongiorno will look to add to her win tally when Georgie’s Pockets races from post four in this week’s Open Trot. Joe Bongiorno will take the lines behind the 8-1 morning line chance who will face six rivals, including 3-1 favorite Home’N Dry, a winner of two straight local Opens, International Trot starter In Secret, and millionaire mare Charmed Life. Buen Camino, Tight Lines, and Wings of Royalty complete the field. “Opens at Yonkers are always difficult. It being a seven-horse field is not the worst thing, that’s for sure,” Bongiorno said. “He has speed, he can do it from off the pace. Versatile horses are always good to have. He’s given me no reason to think he can’t go with this group. Sometimes I think he might be a step below them, but he’s beaten Home’N Dry, he’s finished with In Secret before, so I see no reason why he won’t be competitive in there.” Although Georgie’s Pockets has posted 3 wins and another five placings from 15 starts and earned $86,114 since debuting for Bongiorno in June, the son of Muscle Mass almost didn’t come to her stable. After an agent approached her to buy him, Bongiorno felt the price was too high and passed on purchasing the 4-year-old. However, when browsing online listings soon after, Bongiorno’s affinity for sire Muscle Mass proved fruitful as Georgie’s Pockets appeared in the results for a more reasonable price. Bongiorno took him and brought Kurzrok’s Our Horse Cents Stables on as a partner. “What a nice horse he is. He was supposed to be in the Harrisburg Sale and we took him out because he is exactly what you would want in a horse,” Bongiorno said. “He has the most awesome personality. You walk in the barn and he’s the most spoiled horse. He comes running out, he just can’t wait to be around you. You would never know he’s a stud, which is cool. “He’s flawlessly gaited,” she continued. “Joe said after the first time he drove him, ‘you can leave with this horse on a loose line at Yonkers,’ and there’s not many horses you can do that there with. He’s perfectly gaited, perfectly sound and when you have horses like that, they make it as easy as can be.” Georgie’s Pockets’ style has proven a perfect fit for Yonkers Raceway. After disappointing on the five-eighths oval at Pocono, Bongiorno moved Georgie’s Pockets back to Yonkers, where he posted two straight wins at the non-winners of $10,000 and $20,000 levels in July. His most recent score, an 8-length romp for non-winners of $30,000 last five came October 7. “One thing about him is, he is a half-mile horse. There are certain horses that aren’t going to pick up on a big track, and he’s one of them,” Bongiorno explained. “He doesn’t really leave Yonkers now because we know he’s not going to be able to pick up his speed. He’ll go as fast on a half as he will on a mile. That’s just his deal.” Georgie’s Pockets’ most impressive effort in his trainer’s eyes came not when winning, but as the runner-up in 4-year-old Dia Monde’s track record-setting 1:54.2 effort in the Open Handicap Trot September 23. Although she’s being realistic about her chances in this week’s Open Trot, Bongiorno thinks Georgie’s Pockets has great upside for her stable going forward. If he can pull off an Open victory, it will be one the young conditioner won’t forget. “He’s only 4, I think he’s only going to get better. He’s a beautiful looking horse, he’s strong, and I can’t say it enough, he’s so happy, he loves his work. I think going forward he’s going to be a good thing to have in the barn,” she said. “I have three trotters that I think the world of racing: B Yoyo at Pocono and Rubber Duck and Georgie at Yonkers. Anyone would be so lucky to have one of them and to have all three of them in the barn is a true blessing. “I’m just so thankful for my life right now. I wake up and I feel so happy and so blessed. I’m very thankful to everyone I have supporting me,” she continued. “I think my brother is an incredible horseman and a great driver. ‘Georgie’ is a rockstar and I’m so proud of the horse he’s become. I’m still searching for that Open win at Yonkers, but I really will be very, very excited about that. If ‘Georgie’ can do it, with his personality, he would be so proud of himself.” First post time Sunday at Yonkers Raceway is 11:25 a.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – After a breakout season in New York Sire Stakes, 3-year-old filly Clear Idea will test the waters in Yonkers Raceway’s $50,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace tonight (Nov. 10). The sophomore will face seven harness racing aged rivals, including last week’s winner Mackenzie A and Breeders’ Crown finalist Blue Moon Stride. Trained by Blake Macintosh, Clear Idea entered the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Final Oct. 14 with 9 wins and another nine placings in 2017. Five of her wins came against her New York bred rivals at tracks across the state, including a 1:55.1 score from post seven at Buffalo Raceway. Although she drew post seven in the final, regular reinsman Mark MacDonald was determined to put the filly in the race. “She was at the top of her division. She had the seven hole, so we had to take a shot,” MacDonald said. “There was never a chance I was going to take back to last or second-last. Especially when guys were ducking, I was going to try and go to the front.” While much of the field came away in post-position order, MacDonald gunned Clear Idea to the lead in the opening furlong before allowing Obvious Blue Chip to clear the front. After a pocket trip, Clear Idea couldn’t catch her favored rival, but stayed for a second-place finish at odds of 12-1. MacDonald was happy with the effort and happier for his friend Macintosh, who also co-owns Clear Idea with Hutt Racing Stable. “She’s had her aches and pains throughout the season, maybe getting a little tired, I think if she had been on top of her game, I think she would have won, but second was good,” MacDonald said. “Blake Macintosh, one of my best friends, owns half of her and it was a nice little payday for him. Anytime you can win when a friend owns the horse, it’s always rewarding to win, but it’s extra rewarding when it’s for a family member or a friend.” MacDonald met Macintosh in the late 1990s when the pair raced at Windsor Raceway. Stabled across from one another, MacDonald soon began driving for Macintosh and the pair became close friends. “We were about the same age and we just got to hanging out. I was driving and I ended up driving all of his stable. One year, Blake was the leading trainer and I was the leading driver at Dresden Raceway. I remember we got gold Timexes,” MacDonald remembered with a laugh. “We’ve been really good friends forever, so that’s how long I’ve been driving for Blake. Pretty near my whole life.” Although driving for a close friend can make the wins more rewarding, it can also make the losses more agonizing. Although MacDonald jokes that Macintosh gives him a hard time after the races, “all the time,” the trainer never stays down on the losses for very long. “He’s very loyal. It doesn’t matter what happens, he’s a very, very loyal person,” MacDonald said. “Win, lose, or draw, you might hear about it a little bit, but he’s very loyal.” MacDonald first drove Clear Idea in her freshman season. After winning her first start in an overnight at Grand River in July 2016, MacDonald was aboard for several placings in Excelsior A stakes across New York. Her progression from a check-getter to a stakes winner impressed her driver. “She’s really come. She’s turned into a really nice racehorse. She’s a little lazy, kind of a late-bloomer, but she progressed throughout the year and she turned into a really nice filly and I think she’s going to be a really nice racehorse,” he said. “She was so good on a half, I was like, ‘you didn’t pay her into the Jugette? Are you crazy?’ She’s obviously an overachiever and clearly the way he staked her he didn’t think she was this good, but she is really good and I think she’ll be an open mare as an aged mare, I really do.” One of Clear Idea’s standout features is her versatility. She can handle any trip, which gives her driver options and makes his job easier. “She’s really lazy, really laid back, somewhat like myself,” MacDonald joked. “She’s easy to drive. She kind of drives herself, just depending on the post position and whatnot. She’s always in a good spot because she can go first-over, she can go to the front, and when she gets a trip, she loves it.” Clear Idea will face aged mares in tonight’s Filly and Mare Open Handicap carded as the seventh race on a 12-race card. She will start from post five at a 7-1 morning line chance in her first start since the Sire Stakes Final. “Obviously, that’s a step up, maybe two steps up, maybe even three,” MacDonald said. “We’ll just see what happens. I think if she’s close and has the right trip, she won’t embarrass herself. It’s really hard for 3-year-olds to go against aged horses. “I know he’s trained her up good, I know he has her conditioned well. That’s one thing about Blake, when he has them out, they’re conditioned well. He doesn’t miss a day,” MacDonald continued. “She hasn’t raced, but I’m sure she’ll put in a good effort, I’m sure she will. She needed to be freshened up anyway, in fact, she might even be better. We’ll see how she steps up, but she won’t embarrass herself, I guarantee you that.” First post time tonight at Yonkers Raceway is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Leading harness racing local driver Jason Bartlett is ranked number one in North America with $9.9 million in purse money won this season and third by wins with 497 victories. Just over $1 million of the 36-year-old reinsman’s earnings this season have come in New York Sire Stakes, making him the leading driver on the New York stakes circuit by earnings and his 24 victories top the win column. Bartlett will drive in all eight of the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Finals at Yonkers Raceway Saturday afternoon (October 14). The rich races for statebreds are part of a $3.3 million card that includes the $1 million Yonkers International Trot, the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot, and the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace. Many of Bartlett’s contenders drew advantageous post positions and all but two are the first or second choice on the morning line. “It’s been a really good year throughout the stakes races for me,” Bartlett said. “Hopefully we can cap it off with a good day. The draws were favorable for me. Good spots, good horses, the home track. Now it’s up to me not to mess up. “I’m very grateful to all the owners and trainers for giving me an opportunity to drive all these nice horses,” he continued. Bartlett gave his thoughts on all eight of his drives in New York Sire Stakes Saturday: 2-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Pace CASUAL COOL (Post 3, 3-1 ML): The son of American Ideal is 5-for-9 this year with a pair of seconds and a third, good for $137,538. Bartlett drove in three of the colt’s victories, including a wire-to-wire win in NYSS from post one at Yonkers August 25. One of three sire stakes finalists Bartlett will drive for trainer Linda Toscano. Won his last start in the Simpson at Philadelphia October 1. “Nice handy little horse, can race either way. By the looks of that field, we have options. The one to beat is inside of us and the other one to beat is in the eight hole, so we’ve got some options going into that race. (Linda) has had a good year in stakes races this year and all of her babies seem to have got a little bit sick, but now they’ve been pretty good as of late. He had a race down at Chester coming in, the Simpson and he won down there, which is a plus going into this race that he was able to get a race in between the three-and-a-half weeks between races. He was very fortunate to get that race.” 2-Year-Old Filly Pace HURRIKANE SHORTY (Post 6, 5-2 ML): After posting two wins and two seconds with Jim Marohn Jr. at the lines, the daughter of Art Major won her first two starts with Bartlett in the sulky at Yonkers August 17 and 29. Although all her wins have come on the front end, the filly showed Bartlett a new dimension last time at Monticello September 19, racing off the pace to finish second beaten a half-length. Qualified in 1:55.4 at Philadelphia October 3. Brings an 8-4-3-0 record into the sire stakes final for trainer Kevin Mc Dermott. “She got a little sick there her last two or three starts and then her last start at Monticello, I was very happy with her racing off the pace. Kevin said she’s a lot healthier now. She got a nice qualifier in down at Chester, so she looks pretty good in there, too. She’d been raced a lot on the front end, so putting her on a helmet, trying to race off a helmet was something that I had been trying to do. That front end all year long is going to catch up to them sooner or later. She’s very versatile, she’s very quick off the gate and the way she raced at Monticello, you’re not scared to race her from behind.” 2-Year-Old Filly Trot LIMA NOVELTY (Post 2, 3-1 ML): Posted four wins and a second in NYSS company this summer, including a track record 1:57.3 victory at Monticello August 21. Made a break when trying open company in the Peaceful Way at Mohawk September 11 before finishing second in sire stakes individually timed in 1:55.4 at Vernon September 22 and qualifying at Pocono in 1:58.0 October 4. “We have not seen the best of her. She’s a very, very nice trotting filly. Very disappointing up at Mohawk, but very nice filly. She can do it either way, too. She’s won on the front and from behind at Monticello with a track record. She drew a very good spot too, in between the two favorites, so just kind of play off of other people there. She grabbed her boot behind and she just ran. I mean, she’s never run in her life. You would think that getting around Buffalo and Monticello and all those other tracks, in a straightaway at Mohawk, she’d be able to get around there easily enough. It was very surprising to say the least.” 3-Year-Old Filly Pace PLANET ROCK (Post 1, 6-1 ML): Winless this season in 14 starts, but the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven enough seconds and thirds in sire stakes company to earn a place in the final and drew the inside post. Toscano trainee went 8-for-12 as a 2-year-old, but enters this year’s sire stakes final off a sixth in the Simpson September 20 and a seventh against older mares in a $17,500 overnight September 29 for Toscano. “She’s been getting better. I raced her on the front end at Monticello, she raced really well. I had never really driven her before and I put her back on the front at Chester and Linda said two weeks in a row on the front end for her is not the thing to do. She has enough speed to get herself involved early, and then hopefully we can find the right helmet.” 2-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot CLIVE BIGSBY (Post 3, 5-2 ML): Gelded son of Muscle Mass is 5-for-8 with another two placings to start his career. Impressed when winning a sire stakes leg from post seven at Yonkers by 3 lengths August 8 and won by 3 ¼ at Batavia August 27. Qualified for the William Wellwood Final at Mohawk September 18, but was scratched. Enters the NYSS Final off a 1:57.4 tune up at Vernon September 29 for trainer George Ducharme. “He’s an honest trotting colt. He’s also a very handy little horse. He’s a nice little horse. He tries, he tries really hard. Got a great little attitude and just a handy little horse. He’s one that you can play the gate and see what everybody else is doing and kind of react, but it looks like he’ll be pushing off the gate and going from there. He’s good. He gets over the track really well. He can stop and go, he’s very good that way. He was sick up there (at Mohawk), so that’s why they scratched him there. George will have him ready, that’s for sure.” 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace AMERICA’S FLEET (Post 3, 20-1 ML): The longest shot of Bartlett’s Saturday drives, the Edward Hart trainee is 4-for-22 this year, including a nose victory in NYSS at Yonkers July 10. Enters the final off a fourth in an overnight at The Meadows October 7. “He’s the type of horse that’s going to have to get tripped out pretty good. That race, it’s just going to come down to if there’s any speed or not. We’ve got to trip that horse out a little bit. With the right trip, he can go with them. He’s always been right there with those horses. He may not win a lot of races, but he’s right there. Seconds, thirds, fourths. He’s got a lot of nice checks throughout the year.” 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot GUARDIAN ANGEL AS (Post 1, 8-5 ML): After making breaks in the stretch of the Hambletonian Final and at the start of the Yonkers Trot, the son of Archangel finished second in NYSS at Batavia September 13 before winning in sire stakes next out at Yonkers September 23. Shipped to Lexington for the Bluegrass October 1 and finished second beaten a neck in 1:52.1. Anette Lorentzon trains. “We drew the rail and he looks like he raced really well out at Lexington. He got to stretch out before Yonkers, which is going to help him a lot. With the rail, he can leave and with him, he’s just got to mind his manners. With him, I just let him do what he wants to do and then I’ll just go from there. If he wants to go out of there, he usually drags me out of there anyways, but I’m not going to rush him to get to someplace I don’t need to be. I think I’ve got the best horse, we got a good spot not to do too much rushing, which I’m very happy to see. He can get himself in position, so I’m not really worried about that.” 3-Year-Old Filly Trot CELEBRITY RUTH (Post 2, 9-5 ML): Unraced at 2, Trond Smedshammer’s filly by Archangel is 4-for-14 this year with another six seconds and $359,113 earned, making her the third highest-earning finalist on the card behind 3-year-old pacer FunkNWaffles and rival Barn Bella. Has three recent wins over the track, including the Hudson Trot September 2 and a 1:55.3 score in NYSS September 14. Enters off a second in a $27,000 Yonkers overnight October 5. “Very nice filly. She’s quite handy too. She can leave the gate very fast, she’s been in very good spots and it looks like we’re in a very good spot for the final, too. Obviously the one to beat is Barn Bella. I know the half isn’t (Barn Bella’s) forte, so I’d expect her first-over or something like that. (Celebrity Ruth) has been very good in her races coming in, so I’d expect another similar performance from her. She was very good in the Hudson Trot and came back and was actually better in her latest race at Yonkers. She was very good at Batavia, so she’s coming into the race pretty good.” by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Although harness racing owner Hans Enggren jokes that he doesn’t remember much nowadays, when it comes to his horse Resolve, he has plenty of fond memories to share. Enggren attended the Yonkers International Trot last year when Resolve won and the experience is something he will never forget. “The service that we got, the people were absolutely marvelous to help me from beginning to end. The race was amazing and the audience was amazing,” he said. “We felt so welcome and the race was amazing and to see all these people with video cameras and regular cameras.” Enggren watched last year as Resolve led at every call in the $1 million International. With trainer Åke Svanstedt in the sulky, Resolve won the 1 ¼-mile stakes by 1 ½ lengths and stopped the timer in 2:23.4. Although his connections dreamt of defending their title in the race’s 2017 renewal, a freak incident in early September threatened their plans. Before Resolve raced in an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack September 8, he suffered a snake bite. “He was turned out in a pretty large area and that’s when it must have happened,” Enggren said. “It’s such an amazing thing to be bitten by a snake when he went to Canada. I mean, gee whiz. That has happened to me once before in my life. I had a horse called Meadowbranch Ava. I liked her and I bred her and she was in foal and she was bitten by a snake. It’s just unbelievable. It’s the second time for me.” Resolve finished seventh in his Maple Leaf Trot elimination, beaten 6 ¾ lengths by Mambo Lindy. After the race, Resolve spiked a fever and the vet discovered the bite. “The vet had to give him some antidotes, which was pretty strong. I told my trainer to let him rest,” Enggren said. “In the meantime, he was rested, was treated. He has trained almost up to normality. He’s looking pretty good now and Mr. Svanstedt is very pleased with him and he said he’ll be alright for the race on the fourteenth. We are very, very careful with everything about the horse.” Although Resolve hasn’t raced or qualified since the Maple Leaf Trot elimination, Enggren and Svanstedt have pointed him for the International Trot. Enggren and Svanstedt didn’t want to rush their star back to the races after his incident. Enggren suggested they each develop a plan for the son of Muscle Hill’s fall season and reconvene to make a decision. “When he was hurt by the snake and I didn’t want him to race, I called Svanstedt up and I said, ‘why don’t you decide on what race you would love to be in more than any other race for the rest of the year,’ and I said, ‘I’ll tell you mine and we’ll call each other back.’ It was strange, we both picked the same race.” Enggren’s careful handling of Resolve this fall is understandable. He spent months trying to buy Resolve from his breeders Mike Pozefsky and Edward Wilson before a deal was struck in July 2014. Since then, Resolve has won a host of open stakes in North America, including the Mack Lobell, A.J. Cutler, and Maple Leaf Trot. Resolve has also enjoyed success overseas, finishing second to Nuncio in the 2016 Elitlopp Final and third to Timoko and Propulsion in this year’s edition. All told, Resolve is 18-for-62 with another 26 placings and has earned $2,743,033. “I fell in love with him when he was still a 2-year-old,” Enggren remembered. “I just fell in love with the horse and I didn’t give up. This was in October when he was 2 and it took till the sixteenth of July – it’s amazing that I remember that date because I don’t remember very many things anymore – and on that day, the very, very kind and nice owners and breeders of Resolve agreed on a price of which they would sell him to me." Enggren noted Resolve and trainer Svanstedt have developed a special bond in their time together. He credits this for much of Resolve’s success and it gives Enggren confidence heading into the International Trot October 14. “The horse is always doing his best and he wants to race. I think he’s getting up to that by the coming Saturday, I certainly hope so. Svanstedt seems to feel that everything is going to be fine,” Enggren said. “I understand that there are some very good horses and on paper, we know that we have beaten them before. I know the other horses in there, but I also know this horse has been so amazing on so many occasions that I think he’ll do fine. “I still say if he doesn’t pick up a check, I’ll be extremely surprised,” he continued. “I do know that he and Svanstedt are a team. It’s amazing how they are, both on the track, off the track, and when they just see each other in the barn. They just like each other so much. Everybody likes this horse. He’s just extremely kind and he’s amazing.” Although Enggren won’t be able to attend the International Trot this year – the 88-year-old recently spent a week in the hospital – he will be watching intently from home. Resolve has brought Enggren closer to his family and friends, who all convene on race days to root for the star trotter. “He’s a marvelous horse and I have made more friends because of him. We have a little theater here every time he races because my friends come and want to see him,” he said. “I think I will stay here and see the race and invite my kids and my friends and we’ll do it here.” More International Trot invitees will be featured as the race draws closer. The $1 million Yonkers International Trot at Empire City Casino will be raced Saturday (Oct. 14) at Yonkers Raceway. For more information, visit www.internationaltrot.com. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - In Secret has been an unstoppable force at Yonkers Raceway of late. He boasts a six-race harness racing win streak dating to July 2, the last four of which have come at the Open level. In Secret’s driver, George Brennan, hoped the trotter’s exploits would earn him an invitation to the Harry Harvey Trot on the International Trot undercard October 14. To his surprise, the raceway announced In Secret as a representative of the United States in the $1m Yonkers International Trot this Monday (Oct. 2). “I was just hoping maybe we would get an invite to the $250,000 invitational they have that day,” he said. “It was a pleasant surprise when I saw it. It’s great.” For Brennan, the chance to compete in the International Trot is about more than the race’s $1 million purse. Although he drove Arch Madness to a fifth place finish in the $250,000 International Trot Preview in 2014, Brennan has lacked a horse for the International Trot since the race’s revival in 2015. “It’s my home track, Yonkers. It’s a very good horse. It’s been my main account, Ron Burke. It means a lot,” Brennan said. “There’s a lot going into it, a lot at stake to it. The stars are lined up. It’s really exciting.” In Secret’s win streak began when the 5-year-old won a $35,000 overnight at Yonkers July 2 for trainer Noel Daley. In his next start, In Secret debuted a winner for Ron Burke in a $42,000 overnight August 13 before winning his first local Open in Brennan’s characteristic wire-to-wire style in his next try the following week. In Secret wired the field in another Open August 27 before showing a different dimension when he won his third Open in first-over fashion September 16. In Secret won his most recent start at the Open level on the lead September 30. With his success, the son of Deweycheatumnhowe’s earnings have swelled to $354,385. “He’s done everything I could ask. I’ve raced him on the lead. A couple weeks ago, I had to drop in fourth, I raced him first-over. He came first-over and won that race,” Brennan explained. “He’s done everything I’ve asked of him so far and he’s responded to it. He’s pretty solid. He knows the track, he gets over the track perfect.” Making In Secret’s win streak even more impressive, two of his victories came from post six, another three came from post seven, and one came from the far outside. In Secret’s first two wins came at the 1 1/4-mile distance of the International Trot. Brennan also drove In Secret to victory in a 10-furlong overnight from an outside post earlier this year. “He’s good, he’s solid, he’s professional. He makes my job easy,” Brennan said. “I raced him earlier in the year for Noel Daley and he won that race also. I left for the lead, but somebody pounced. He sat the two-hole and he won easily. He’s versatile.” In Secret’s impressive feats haven’t come without a price. The difficulty of dealing with outside assignments week after week means In Secret never gets an easy race or trip; he earns every win, Brennan explained. “He’s got to work hard. Every week he does win is work,” he said. “That’s the only thing. It makes it tough going into (the International) because he’s had no cupcakes. Every race is work for him because of the post positions. But it is what it is and he’s overcome them, so let’s hope the success continues.” In Secret will get a final start in before the International Trot in this week’s $50,000 Open Handicap Trot, carded as race six Saturday night. In Secret will start from post eight, and Brennan doesn’t intend to pamper the gelding a week before the biggest race of his career. “I’m going into that race, it’s a $50,000 Open, that’s a heck of a purse, and I’m still trying to win it. We’ll go forward, try and get him involved, if not on the lead, involved somewhat, and we’re going in to win,” he said. “Definitely not racing him easy going in. When horses are good and horses are sharp, you’ve got to race them. That’s how you keep them sharp.” Looking ahead to the International Trot, Brennan hopes to draw a post position in the first tier where In Secret can have his nose on the gate. Although he isn’t sure how the presence of seven European horses and drivers will change the dynamics of the race, he is confident in his horse and his own ability on his home oval. “A lot of it is going to have to do with the post positions. I’ve never raced in Europe before. I’ve watched those guys race here before,” he said. “I’d like to draw a good post position and you know what, the European drivers are going to have to worry about me if I get a good post position. “He’s been pretty much automatic, push-button and I just hope it continues. Whatever the case may be, I know he’s going to give me a good race,” Brennan continued. “Whatever it is in the International, I know he’ll give me a good, solid race and that’s all I can ask for.” More International Trot invitees will be featured as the race draws closer. The $1 million Yonkers International Trot will be raced Saturday, October 14 at Yonkers Raceway. For more information, visit www.internationaltrot.com. Please note; Yonkers Raceway has set a 12 Noon first post for the Oct. 29th return of Sunday matinee.. The remaining five Sundays between then and the rest of the season are TBA. The card of Oct. 29th includes seven 'French' added-distance, overflow field trots, going as races 2 through 8. The 12-race card has a scheduled last post of 5:05 PM. Information regarding the return of that day's 'New York, New York Double' shall be sent when available.    NEW YORK DAY OF CHAMPIONS AND CONSOLATION RACES NOTE Yonkers Raceway and the New York Sire Stakes are reminding horsemen who have qualified for either Yonkers’ New York Day of Champions (to be held Saturday afternoon, Oct. 14th) or the consolation event (to be held at Monticello Raceway, Monday afternoon, Oct. 16th)  that all entries are due in Yonkers’ race office this Monday, Oct. 9th. Entry box closes promptly at 4 PM. Both series races shall be drawn Monday (Oct. 9th ) by Yonkers. For more information, please contact the Raceway’s (that would be Yonkers) race office at (914) 457-2627.     by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - Harness racing owner John Backlund remembers watching His Majesty win the International Trot in 1995. He couldn’t have imagined then that he would start a horse as an owner in the $1 million race’s revival 20 years later, or that he would return with the same horse the next two years in a row. Backlund, however, will do just that when he travels to New York with Sweden’s On Track Piraten to compete in the Yonkers International Trot for the third straight year. The decision to return was as easy this time as it was the first. “We’re lucky, we have been in a lot of big races, but the experience at Yonkers has been absolutely number one,” Backlund said. “Even though the horse hasn’t had any luck in the races, the experience from Yonkers has been absolutely number one for us. When we got invited, we didn’t hesitate for a second. “It was a new experience for everyone and we didn’t hesitate the first year at all,” he continued. “Now we know what we’re going to and it’s been amazing every year. Hope the horse can get in good shape now. He’s getting older, so maybe we don’t have the same hope to win as the year before, but you never know.” Although Backlund is facing the reality of On Track Piraten’s increasing age - he is 9 years old and will reach the mandatory retirement age in France next year and Sweden’s limit of 12 two years later - he is savoring the ride with his star trotter. On Track Piraten is a multiple grouped stakes winner in Europe and an earner of 14,888,710kr, or about $1.85 million. Backlund’s journey with the gelding began before he was even foaled. Breeder Eva Eriksson told Backlund about a mare, Monrovia, she had in foal to Kool du Caux. The French Classic victor and four-time Group 1 winner stood in France, out of Backlund’s reach. Backlund seized the moment and bought the unborn horse on the spot. “It was Kool du Caux. He was one of my absolute favorite horses and you couldn’t get him in Sweden, so you had to get the mare to France to use Kool du Caux,” he explained. “I knew it wasn’t possible for me to send one to France, so to get a chance to get a foal from Kool du Caux was the number one reason why I wanted him. When she said she had a mare with Kool du Caux, I didn’t think, I just said, ‘I want him.’ ” When Monrovia foaled On Track Piraten in April 2008, Backlund was thrilled to see a big, dark horse. By the time he was a yearling, On Track Piraten already towered at 16 hands. Backlund sent On Track Piraten to Natalia Abdalla’s base in Estonia to be broken and On Track Piraten’s talent showed from the start. “In centimeters, he was 163 as a 1-year-old, so he was already extremely big. He was not overbuilt, he just looked one year older, even as a yearling. She said when other ones wanted to run 1 kilometer, he runs 2. From the start, he was exceptional,” Backlund remembered. Backlund’s journey with On Track Piraten hasn’t come alone. He sold shares of the horse to friends and family, many of whom had never owned a trotter before. All told, the ownership group Stall Mörkermasse has 10 members. Nearly all of them will be present at Yonkers for the International October 14. “I think half of them had never been involved in a horse before. They’ve been extremely lucky,” Backlund said. “I asked some of my friends and they asked some of their other friends. It was pretty quick. Work colleagues, and my father in law is also one of the owners.” Backlund doesn’t only share On Track Piraten with his co-owners, he also shares On Track Piraten with the horse’s many fans on social media. Backlund administrates a Facebook group dedicated to the horse on which he posts regular updates to the page’s more than 700 members. The love and encouragement the fans show for On Track Piraten is something Backlund still can’t fathom. “He’s from a small track and a small trainer, so he’s like a horse for the people. He’s also not an expensive horse, so you get to show everyone that it’s possible to get a good horse, even if you’re not buying the most expensive,” he said. “It’s kind of unreal because to us. Maybe we can understand it after the career, but now it’s just like, it’s hard to understand how so many people are involved and like the horse so much.” Paired with trainer Hans Strömberg, On Track Piraten’s 37 victories include two Group 2 Svenskt Mästerskap titles in 2013 and 2014, three Group 2 C.L. Müllers Memorial wins in 2013, 2014, and 2016, and the Group 3 Prix du Luxembourg in 2015. Although Strömberg’s outfit is small, his plentiful experience lent itself well to working with the precocious On Track Piraten. “I always thought he was a good trainer and it would be interesting to send some horses to him. We had some horses sent to him a couple years before Piraten came,” Backlund said. “Natalia, she really liked the horse and she was a bit worried that we would send him to some younger trainer that would push him too hard. She was really happy with the experienced trainer also.” This season, On Track Piraten is 6-for-17 with $172,862 earned. After last year’s International Trot, On Track Piraten returned to Sweden and posted nine straight wins, four of which came at the Group 2 level. On Track Piraten’s last victory came at his home track of Rättvik June 24 when he beat Nuncio in the Midsommarloppet. He’s lost seven straight leading up to the International Trot. “The winter was amazing, but it’s not as hard competition in the winter,” Backlund said. “He’s as good now as he was during the winter, but the competition is harder. Every summer, we’ve been thinking he has some problems with (allergies) because he gets some respiratory problems during the summer every year. The autumn during the year has been his best. Hopefully he’ll be at his best in a couple of weeks.” In his third International Trot appearance, On Track Piraten will have his third driver. Erik Adielsson drove in 2015 while ”¶rjan Khilström took the lines last year. This year, Johnny Takter, who was in the sulky for all of On Track Piraten’s 10 victories since last year’s International Trot, will drive. Backlund hopes for better luck at the draw this time around. In 2015, On Track Piraten drew post seven and finished seventh. Last year, he started from post eight. Although On Track Piraten posted the race’s fastest final quarter of :27.3 and finished fourth beaten just 2 1/2 lengths after racing 12 3/4 lengths behind winner Resolve early, Backlund and the rest of the team had high hopes entering the race as On Track Piraten was in peak form. “We all thought the best would be to not go from the start, but if we had to do it all over, of course, he should have gone from the start,” Backlund said. “He finished very fast and we thought early in the race, he couldn’t win with a trip like that. We had seven the first year and eight last year, so if we can get one or two, then maybe we can have a chance.” More International Trot invitees will be featured as the race draws closer. The $1 million Yonkers International Trot will be raced Saturday, October 14 at Yonkers Raceway. For more information, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - When Yonkers Raceway revived the International Trot in 2015, harness racing trainer Richard Westerink supported the $1 million stakes by shipping Timoko across the Atlantic for the first and only time in the career of the recently retired 15-time Group 1 winner and €5 million earner. Then 8 years old, Timoko raced on the rim the entire 1 1/4 miles. After being turned away from the lead by Creatine, driver Björn Goop tried to give Timoko a breather in the opening quarter. However, as Mosaique Face advanced three wide, Goop put Timoko in play again to protect his position. Timoko put Mosaique Face behind him and continued on his first-over grind, pressuring Creatine through a quarter of :28.4. When Oasis Bi made a wide rally to confront Creatine past the half, Goop let the leaders get away by 3 lengths. Timoko benefited from the cover for about a quarter-mile before angling three wide entering the backstretch the final time. Racing into the lane, the plugs came out and Timoko found more. He wore down Creatine, but couldn’t pass Papagayo E, who saved every inch of ground in the pocket throughout the 10-furlong stakes. For all the extra ground he covered, Papagayo E only beat Timoko a half-length. “I think it’s one of the best races of Timoko,” Westerink said. “The horse was fighting and fighting until the end and it was a great race. It was incredible.” Although Westerink didn’t return to the International Trot with Timoko in 2016 - Timoko’s dual career of racing and breeding made the international voyage too taxing - the trainer will bring Dreammoko, a 4-year-old son of Timoko, to compete in the lucrative stakes this year. “It’s a little bit easier with Dreammoko. He’s not breeding, not yet,” Westerink said. “That’s why I can come with Dreammoko.” Part of Timoko’s first crop, Dreammoko is already a Group 2 winner, having taken the Prix Phaeton at Vincennes in March. He has earned €305,210 and placed in eight other grouped stakes in 28 races. Despite his success, Westerink wasn’t inspired when Dreammoko came to his stable as a yearling for owner Jan Stins. “He’s a very lazy horse in the work, more lazy than his father. Timoko, in the beginning was also like that. This one is even more lazy in the works,” Westerink said. “This horse, in the beginning, I said he’s not a very good horse, but when we pull the shoes, he’s better. In the beginning, he was not a very good horse for me. This year, we can take off the shoes and that transformed the horse.” Dreammoko finished second on debut in January 2015 and won his next start, both with shoes. After a barefoot win in his third start at Vincennes, Dreammoko went two for his next 11 racing with shoes. Westerink pulled Dreammoko’s shoes in his 15th start January 24, 2017 and the chestnut recovered from a brief break behind the gate to win the €65,000 overnight by 5 1/ 2 lengths in a lifetime best time. All of Dreammoko’s stakes performances since have come without shoes. One of the highlights of Dreammoko’s career thus far came in the Kymi Grand Prix at Kouvola June 17. Dreammoko raced against his sire, Timoko in the €165,000 stakes. Although many were critical of Westerink’s decision to pit Dreammoko against Timoko, the trainer enjoyed the unique opportunity. “It was fun for me. There was a lot of critique in the world. ‘How can you race a son against his father,’ ” Westerink said. “I think that made it more of a challenge for me. I love to take challenges and I think it was a good challenge. The horses were racing well, both of them.” Timoko entered the Kymi Grand Prix off a victory in the Group 1 Elitloppet Final at Solvalla May 28. Dreammoko came in off a third in the Tommy Hannes Lopp at Solvalla the same day. Timoko started from post three in the Kymi Grand Prix and Dreammoko, post nine in the second tier. Just before the start, Dreammoko shied away from the horse in front of him. After raising his head high and taking a few awkward steps, Dreammoko began in last 12 lengths behind. Meanwhile, Timoko raced to the lead. Hounded by Seabiscuit to his outside and Buzz Mearas to his inside, Timoko trotted through a blistering opening quarter in :26.4. While Timoko blazed a trail up front, Dreammoko raced into the flow fourth-over. Racing around the final turn, Timoko tried to fight off Carabinieri, who challenged on the outside. Meanwhile, driver Gabi Gelormini guided Dreammoko three wide and he advanced within 6 lengths of his sire. Although Timoko battled down the stretch, he could not withstand Carabinieri’s fresh legs. Timoko finished second beaten a length while Dreammoko stormed down the center of the track to finish third, 2 1/2 lengths behind his sire. “Dreammoko, he made a little mistake behind the gate,” Westerink said. “He lost 10 or 12 meters and in the last turn, he was coming on the outside. It was a great race. (Dreammoko) was speeding faster in the end, but he’s not a better horse than Timoko, I don’t say that.” Since his bout with Timoko, Dreammoko has twice finished second to rival and top 4-year-old Django Riff. Dreammoko was beaten first in the Prix de Milan at Enghien July 29 and again in the Prix de Geneve at the same track August 16. In his most recent start, Dreammoko finished third to Diablo Du Noyer and Django Riff in the Group 2 Prix Jules Thibault at Vincennes August 31. “He raced the last three times with Django Riff, the best horse of his age I think and he’s fighting, fighting, fighting,” Westerink said. “I think once he will beat him. Almost in Enghien in the last race, he almost beat him on the outside, Django Riff in the lead and (Dreammoko) on the outside. He lost by a head. He’s a tough racer, like his father. I think he’s a great horse.” Westerink plans to race Dreammoko one more time in Europe before shipping to Yonkers for the International Trot October 14. Dreammoko will head to Bologna, Italy to compete in the Group 1 Gran Premio Continentale September 17. Dreammoko will start from post four in the €209,000 stakes for 4-year-olds. “He’ll race once, next week in Bologna in Italy. He has number four,” Westerink said. “That’s a Group 1 race in Italy, a big race. We have a little chance, maybe we can win there. That would be nice, to win one before Yonkers.” Dreammoko’s start in Italy will be his first on a half-mile track, the same size oval he will find when he arrives in New York later this fall. Since many of Dreammoko’s best races have come on the lead, Westerink expects the 800-meter track to suit his International hopeful. “For him, it’s not a problem. I think it’s better for him,” Westerink said. “We can take the lead and it’s a little track, he can take the lead. He can come behind, but I think when we have the lead, it’s good for him.” More International Trot invitees will be featured as they are confirmed for the race. The $1 million Yonkers International Trot will be raced Saturday, October 14 at Yonkers Raceway.  by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - After a bout with a persistent sickness hindered Mamora Bay’s early season, harness racing trainer Sam Schillaci gave the 3-year-old filly some time to recover and brings her back in tonight’s $119,010 Hudson Trot. Schillaci is confident his star trotter is back to her old self and feeling better heading into the Grand Circuit Stakes, one of four on the card at Yonkers Raceway. “She hasn’t quite been herself as far as being really aggressive at the end of the mile because she developed this virus earlier in the year. She’s kind of been fighting it all year. I think as of recent, she seems to be getting healthy again,” Schillaci said. “I feel she’s very good. I think she’s as healthy now as she was her first couple of starts of the year. I’m very optimistic going into this race that she’s going to do very well.” Mamora Bay stood out as a 2-year-old in New York Sire Stakes last year. She won five of nine starts and placed in another four, earning $182,371. Mamora Bay finished second to Barn Bella in the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Final at Yonkers to end her season. Schillaci drove her in all but one start. “She really did have a tremendous season,” Schillaci recalled. “I think everything came so easy for her, that’s what made her so good last year as a 2-year-old horse. Driving her as a 2-year-old was like driving an aged trotter. That’s what made everything so easy for her because a lot of younger trotters have gait issues, you have to hold them together and steady them. That wasn’t the case with her.” Mamora Bay’s success came as a surprise to Schillaci and owner Peter Barbato. Barbato purchased mare Giulie Bi in foal to Chapter Seven out of the 2014 January Mixed Sale for $22,000. Giulie Bi, by Supergill out of the Speedy Crown mare Traffic Jam, had already produced two foals at that stage, including Romeus, a 2012 son of Muscles Yankee who sold for $70,000 at the 2013 Harrisburg Sale. It was the first time Barbato bought a pregnant mare, but for the price, he couldn’t go wrong. “He liked the breeding of the mare and he went to the Meadowlands Sale and got the feeling to buy the mare in foal,” Schillaci said. “He was looking at some other ones and he loved this particular mare. He liked the breeding on her and he just bought her.” Giulie Bi foaled Mamora Bay three months later and Barbato later gave the filly to Schillaci. Training down, Mamora Bay was nothing special. Although she trotted well and was easy to handle, she was afraid of everything and was the horse Schillaci let barn visitors drive in the morning. “Training her down as a 2-year-old, she was one that I actually seldom sat behind,” Schillaci remembered. “I have some friends and some other owners that come on training days and they always want to train a young horse or train a baby. I would always let everyone go with her because she never did anything wrong. “She was very slow developing as far as being a racehorse,” he continued. “She just sat in the back and basically just followed along. She was scared to pass horses, she wouldn’t get up to any horses because she would shy from them, but she never made breaks.” Once Mamora Bay trotted past 2:10, she started to figure out her job. She began beating all of Schillaci’s other trotters in the mornings and enjoyed her work. For Schillaci, who trains with his wife Jodi, bringing a horse through that process and seeing the light bulb go on in the horse’s mind is gratifying. “I used to love it when I was younger, just being a catch-driver, but now that I’ve gotten older and gotten more horses to train, it’s much more rewarding to train and drive your own horses,” he said. “It’s just very rewarding when you buy your own horses as babies and make them into racehorses.” After her breakout freshman year, Mamora Bay started her 3-year-old campaign in May with a second in New York Sire Stakes at Tioga. She got sick around her next start in the Empire Breeders’ Classic Final at Vernon June 18 and finished sixth beaten 10 3/4 lengths. Since then, she has a win, a pair of thirds, and a fourth in Sire Stakes company. Mamora Bay last raced August 4 at Yonkers before Schillaci gave her some time. He qualified her back at Northfield August 17, adding lasix. She won by 3 lengths in 1:57.2. When the Hudson Trot attracted eight entrants and no eliminations were required, Schillaci qualified Mamora Bay again last week and she won by 9 in 1:58.0. “The adding of lasix was because of health reasons. The qualifiers are basically just to keep her tight. She’s not really a horse that’s a good trainer, so we’ve just been racing her in qualifiers to just keep her tight,” the trainer explained. “I was actually hoping that there would have been an elimination to the Hudson Filly Trot last week rather than qualifying her, but there wasn’t, so we had to give her another tightener.” Mamora Bay drew post five in the Hudson Trot and will race on lasix for the first time with Schillaci in the sulky again. She is a 6-1 morning line chance. Trond Smedshammer’s Celebrity Ruth, earner of $221,433 this season after going unraced at 2, is the early favorite at 5-2 from post 4. The field also includes Dangle Then Deke, Chapter Too, Lexi Marie, Sunshine Delight, Evelyn, and Ice Attraction. Although Schillaci would like to be aggressive in a spot like the Hudson, Mamora Bay’s fear of the starting gate may prevent that. As a 2-year-old, Mamora Bay wouldn’t get within a length of the gate and she was never closed than third to the opening quarter. Recently, Mamora Bay has gotten better at the start, Schillaci said. “She’s gotten to the point recently over the last two or three starts where now she’ll go right up to the gate and she’s really good that way. She still really hasn’t developed a lot of gate speed. She tends to fall off the gate as it opens,” he said. “If she would be a horse with gate speed, I probably would be approaching it a lot differently, to try to get out there a little bit and maybe get a little bit better position.” “With a horse like her, there’s really not a lot of reading into the program and looking to get a spot. It’s wherever you land when the gate opens and then you’ve got to kind of make a game plan after that,” he continued. “I definitely think the horse to beat is (Celebrity Ruth). I’m assuming that horse is going to go to the lead. My biggest hope would be that somebody else leaves in there and they get some kind of early speed and then I think that we’ll have a pretty decent shot of being right on the wire.” The Hudson Trot is one of four stakes on the card Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway. The card also features the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, the $500,000 Messenger Stakes, and the $113,880 Lady Maud Pace. First post time is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - After sitting behind Downbytheseaside in his 8 1/2-length romp in the Messenger Stakes Elimination at Yonkers Raceway last week, harness racing driver Brian Sears likes the way the 3-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere is coming into the $500,000 Final and second leg of the Pacing Triple Crown Saturday night. Sears drove Downbytheseaside through a :56.0 half last week and was a passenger as Downbytheseaside opened 6 lengths racing into the lane and powered away with a :27.2 final quarter. “He really did that under his own. I never even asked him. He just knew it was time to pick it up and that was all without asking. He’s a really nice horse and he’s getting better and better about his manners. Hopefully he keeps progressing.” Sears will drive Downbytheseaside for the eighth straight time in Saturday’s Messenger Final, the fourth race on a stakes-laden card. The newly anointed hall of famer is happy with the progress Downbytheseaside has made since he picked up the drive in the North America Cup at Mohawk June 17. “A couple weeks ago, he sat in behind a :56.0 pace,” Sears said. “I don’t know if he could have done that before or he wasn’t really willing to do that. He would get a little bully when he wanted to go and you had to pretty much be on the move with him at that point. He seems to be working with me a little bit.” Downbytheseaside showed all the fire Sears described in the North America Cup. After Sears placed him in fourth behind a :25.2 opening quarter, Downbytheseaside dictated his own terms and followed Fillibuster Hanover’s brush to the lead. Downbytheseaside paced through a half in :52.1 and 6 furlongs in 1:19.3 before finishing third to stablemate Fear The Dragon beaten 3 3/4 lengths. “I dropped a horse in front of me and then he ended up pulling back out,” Sears said. “Going to the half a hundred, and he actually took me, which was not what I was expecting. They were :52.1 at the half and that just shows the kind of speed this horse has. He hung in there very gamely I’d have to say for those numbers.” Sears drove Downbytheseaside to a win in an elimination of the Max Hempt, a fifth in the final, a second in the Meadowlands Pace, and a third in the Cane Pace before the Brian Brown trainee made his way to Northfield Park for the Carl Milstein Memorial August 12. There, Downbytheseaside got back on a half-mile track, a trip he hasn’t lost on in five tries. “He’s just a really athletic horse with an efficient gait,” Sears said. “I don’t know what it is about him that makes him so comfortable over the half-mile track. It was an incredible mile he went a couple weeks ago at Northfield.” Downbytheseaside raced 3 lengths behind a :56.0 half set by Fear The Dragon in the Milstein. Sears pulled first-over with just over a lap to go and Downbytheseaside glided up alongside Fear The Dragon through a :26.3 third panel. “The horse, he came out of the hole pretty relaxed. He knew it was time to do some work, but he really didn’t try to overdo it,” Sears recalled. “Although we were pacing sub 27-second quarters, it was just amazing how easily they were doing it, both horses, getting over the ground. We were side by side and going into the last turn, I saw Dave call on his horse and I was thinking, ‘he might need a little more than that.’ I still felt really good.” David Miller popped the plugs on Fear The Dragon and reminded him with the whip on the final turn. With Sears motionless in the sulky and the whip dangling over his shoulder, Downbytheseaside put a nose in front of Fear The Dragon at the furlong pole. In the final strides, Downbytheseaside extended and paced away from Fear The Dragon on his own to win by a length in a track record 1:49.3. He paced a :26.4 final quarter. “That’s one thing, that’s the type of horse he is. He’s going to give it to you, what he’s got,” Sears said. “He’ll empty the tank for you. My job is just to try and keep him relaxed and confident and let him go about his thing.” Off his elimination win, Downbytheseaside drew post seven in the Messenger Stakes Final, a race Sears won by open lengths with 1-2 favorite Always A Virgin in 2007. Downtheseaside is a 9-5 morning line favorite, but could be closer to those odds come post time. Geers winner Mac’s Jackpot, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winner Summer Side, Empire Breeders’ Classic runner up Miso Fast, Empire Breeders’ Classic Elimination winner and Messenger Elimination runner up Art Scene, New York Sire Stakes winner Funknwaffles, and Messenger Elimination third place finisher Blood Line will start inside Downbytheseaside. Henry The Dragon drew post eight. “I’m not thrilled with the seven hole. I’m not thrilled and there’s a little bit of speed in the race. He’s the class of the field and I think he’ll be able to overcome it,” Sears said.“How many horses are going to be using their early speed and the fact that I have to be going forward off the gate and try and not be too far back. I’m really not looking to have any road trouble.” The Messenger Stakes Final is one of four stakes on the card Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway. The card also features the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, $113,880 Lady Maud Pace, and the $119,010 Hudson Trot. First post time is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - When Ella Christina prepared to make her first start for new trainer Nick Surick in a split of the Adioo Volo Stakes for harness racing 3-year-old pacing fillies at The Meadows July 29, Surick was home feeling sick as a dog. He wasn’t worried about missing the race. He didn’t think his filly had a shot anyway and the public agreed, sending her off at odds of 56-1. Surick propped one eye open and watched the race in bed. Ella Christina started from post seven and raced 7 lengths off the pace past the half. Heading up the backstretch, driver Jim Pantaleano kept her along the pylons in seventh. Ella Christina advanced within 4 1/2 lengths of the leader at the three-quarters and passed four tiring rivals to her outside. “I just saw everybody coming off the rail and she’s coming up the inside around the last turn,” Surick remembered. “I was like, ‘we’ll get a fifth or a fourth out of this. Hey, we’ve got a shot, we’ll be third.’ ” Ella Christina raced into the passing lane off the turn and Pantaleano put her to a right-handed drive. Inside the final sixteenth, she extended and sprinted past Colorful Jasmine. Ella Christina’s :27.0 final quarter propelled her to a half-length victory in 1:52.2 in the $62,475 stakes. It was Surick’s second win in the Adioo Volo Stakes. He also conditioned 2011 division winner Whats New Pussycat. “I jumped up out of bed and halfway down the lane I said, ‘I got a shot to win this,’” Surick said. “I didn’t feel sick for the next hour or two, but then it caught up with me again that night. But it was ok. It was quite a thrill and that was the second time I’ve raced one in the Adioo Volo and I’ve won it both times.” Surick’s first start with Ella Christina was a long time in the making. Surick had been trying to purchase the daughter of Western Ideal since he watched her win a $49,200 division of the Standardbred at the Delaware County Fair last September for Nancy Johansson. Surick and Johansson finally came to a deal about a week before the Adioo Volo. “I watched her race in last year as a 2-year-old in Delaware, Ohio and she won that stakes down there. She won in 54-and-a-piece and I thought that was pretty good for a 2-year-old,” Surick explained. “I think Nancy is one of the more honest trainers in the business and I just think it’s a good place to shop. You get a horse with a good foundation and I think you get an honest purchase when you buy from them.” Although he was happy to finally bring Ella Christina into his stable, Surick’s first impression of her wasn’t glowing. Although she had a good attitude, she was on the small side. Surick wasn’t thinking about stakes, but an overnight at Yonkers, for her first start. “There’s not really much to her, she’s kind of a smaller horse and just a lovely horse to be around. She’s got a great personality, she’s a cool little filly. I never thought for her to be this much,” Surick said. “I dropped her in at Yonkers and she didn’t get in. By chance, I just dropped her in the Adioo Volo because last year it was a five horse field. I thought maybe that might be the case again this year and then it ended up being two fields of eight or nine and I drew the seven hole and I said, ‘well, my plan backfired,’ going into it. I thought I had no shot.” After Ella Christina’s Adioo Volo upset, Surick got on the phone and staked the filly to everything he could, including a supplement to the $113,950 Shady Daisy Stakes on Hambletonian Day. She finished fifth beaten 10 lengths in that race, sending Surick back to the drawing board with Ella Christina’s training. “The first week I had her, I didn’t do anything with her. I literally just jogged her a few miles a day, sent her to the Meadows, raced her, and she came up super,” he said. “After that win, I couldn’t help myself and I knew I was going in for big money next week and I trained her real hard two trips in between the Adioo Volo and the Shady Daisy. She kind of came up a little flat on me there. I didn’t think she could win, but I thought she’d be closer and she just flattened out a little bit and I wasn’t happy with her performance. “I thought back to what I changed from week one to week two and the difference was the hard work in between starts. She doubled jogs every day. I jog all my horses 6 miles, but instead of jogging her a straight 6 miles, she’ll go out and jog 2 miles, come back in, sit in the stall for a half-hour, go back out and jog her next 4. It just seems to break up her routine a little bit and she enjoys it. Since I’ve done that, she’s really turned the corner.” Under her light training regime, Ella Christina enters Saturday’s $113,880 Lady Maud Pace at Yonkers Raceway off a second and a win in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series in her last two starts, respectively. Her last win came in 1:53.1 with a :27.3 final quarter. Although Tim Tetrick drove Ella Christina in her last three races, George Brennan will get the call for the first time Saturday night as Tetrick will be driving in Canada. “My filly, she’s a small filly, she’s put together nice. I think the smaller the track, the better her game,” Surick said. “I’m not happy that I lost Tetrick. I’m one that likes to stick with a driver. He’s really gotten a lot out of her, but I’ve won some good races with George Brennan, he knows his way around the track, so by no means am I downgrading in a driver, but I just like to have a driver that knows my filly. When I’m forced to make a driver change, I’m never going to be upset with George Brennan.” Ella Christina will face six rivals in the Lady Maud, including Scott Di Domenico’s Angel’s Pride, who won the Empire Breeders’ Classic Consolation at Tioga Downs in her last start August 20 and will start along the pylons. Linda Toscano’s World Apart finished second against older competition in an overnight at Philadelphia August 18 and won the Thompson Geers at Tioga in July. She drew post seven. Tony Alanga will send out the double threat of Tori Hanover and Awash. Gurl Band K and Robin J complete the field. If Ella Christina can beat her rivals in the Lady Maud, Surick will be dreaming big with his new filly. “I have big ambitions for her down the road this year and going into those races, I just want her to feel like she’s somebody. I want her to beat up on horses right now and I just want to keep her confidence up right now,” he said. “Now the Lady Maud and then she’s got Liberty Bell, Jugette, and then she’s off to Lexington for two weeks. She’s got Courageous Lady and Matron at the end of the year.” The Lady Maud Pace is one of four stakes on the card Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway. The card also features the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, $500,000 Messenger Stakes, and the $119,010 Hudson Trot. First post time is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - When he last raced at Yonkers, Downbytheseaside won the $300,000 Art Rooney Pace May 27. The victory was his fourth in a row after capturing the Governor’s Cup at Woodbine to end his 2-year-old season, taking his 2017 harness racing debut in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and winning the Rooney Elimination May 20. Although he won as a heavy favorite in both his starts at Yonkers, Downbytheseaside had to earn it both times. In his elimination, Downbytheseaside made an early move after starting from post nine. Driver David Miller guided Downbytheseaside to the outside and tracked Funknwaffles in the second quarter. After Funknwaffles cleared the lead before the half, Downbytheseaside drove on the front past a :55.4 half before winning by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:52.2. In the final the following week, Downbytheseaside won by 3 1/4 in 1:52. “I expected the way they usually race at Yonkers where they line up and don’t race much till the end,” trainer Brian Brown said. “The two races I was in, they raced pretty hard the whole way. There was nothing given to him. He had to really earn it both weeks. “To win a race that’s named after the founder of the track, that’s always nice,” Brown continued. “Everybody does a great job making those races special. They were special to us to just be in them let alone have a chance to win them.” Since his Rooney victory, Downbytheseaside has traded blows with Huntsville and stablemate Fear The Dragon in a host of Grand Circuit stakes. Downbytheseaside finished third in the North America Cup after setting fractions of :25.2, :52.1, and 1:19.3, was fifth in the Max Hempt Final, second in the Meadowlands Pace, and third in the Cane Pace. In all those cases, Huntsville or Fear The Dragon took top honors. Downbytheseaside finally upended his stablemate last time out in the $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park August 12. In a change of tactics, Brian Sears rated Downbytheseaside in fourth early as Fear The Dragon dictated the speed. Fear The Dragon paced a quarter in :27.1 and a half in :56. As the field raced into the second lap, Sears guided Downtheseaside first-over and quickly drew within a half-length of Fear The Dragon. David Miller pulled the plugs on Fear The Dragon, who kept Downbytheseaside at bay through three-quarters in 1:22.4. Entering the final turn, Miller had the whip of Fear The Dragon’s tail while Sears edged Downbytheseaside’s nose in front under a hand-drive. In the stretch, Downbytheseaside glided away from his competition to win by a length in 1:49.3. “He was really good that day,” Brown commented. “He’s had some feet trouble and that week leading up to that race, that horse was as good as he’s been all year. Never did he get lame in his feet, but his feet are always bothering him a little. He was really good that week. I don’t know what we did to him that much different. He was on the vibrating plate maybe more. He was extra good that night.” For Brown, seeing Downbytheseaside get the upper hand meant seeing his other horse, Fear The Dragon, suffer a loss. Although he wants both horses to do well, he was happy to see Downbytheseaside’s connections, Country Club Acre, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and Diamond Creek Racing, get a win. “I’m glad for that horse that he finally got to win a race like that. He was getting some pretty tough trips. Post position was killing him at times,” Brown said. “It’s hard to have both of those; you don’t want either one to lose. But he was just really good that night and it was good for him, good for the owners to finally win a race without being the one making all the speed and getting passed late. It was nice for him to race from behind and be able to win a race like that.” Downbytheseaside’s Milstein victory extended the son of Somebeachsomewhere’s perfect half-mile track record to four. He won a division of the Standardbred at the Delaware County Fair in a world record 1:50 at 2 before winning the Rooney elimination and final and the Milstein. Downbytheseaside also went his first two qualifying trips at Delaware as a 2-year-old, winning both. In his career, Downbytheseaside is 14-for-23 with $1,263,322 earned. “It’s hard to explain because he’s a big, strong horse, but for some reason, he loves a half,” Brown said. “He has great speed. To be honest, he is as good on a half as he is on a big track. He’s always been good on a half.” Downbytheseaside drew post three in the nine-horse Messenger Elimination Saturday night. Brian Sears will drive again in the $40,000 prep for next week’s $500,000 jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown. The last place finisher will not return for the final. Brown is confident in Downbytheseaside’s chances to return to Yonkers a winner. “He drew a good spot, he’s coming in pretty good. He should be in pretty good shape come Saturday. I think we’re ok,” Brown said. “I think everything will be good.” The Saturday night card at Yonkers also features two eliminations of the Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters in races 6 and 7 and a $50,000 Open Handicap Pace in race 8. First post time is 7:10 p.m. To view entries for Saturday’s card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - Of the 12 colts and geldings who will contest the harness racing eliminations of the Yonkers Trot, three are trained by Julie Miller. She will send out 9-5 morning line favorite Devious Man in the first $40,000 elimination in race 6. The coupled entry of Money Macintosh and Top Flight Angel are 9-5 in the early odds behind Guardian Angel As at 8-5 in the second elimination one race later. Miller is hopeful all three of her starters will finish fourth or better to earn a spot behind the gate of the $500,000 Final Saturday September 2. “That would be wonderful. That’s the game plan,” Miller said. “That’s what I mapped out on the chalk board, but it would be wonderful. I’m hoping that’s the outcome on Saturday evening.” The second jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown, the Yonkers Trot is a race Miller has her eye on. “It’s a race that’s on my bucket list. I’d sure like to add it to my resume,” she said. “We love racing at Yonkers. I think they have a great program over there, I think they do a great job, so we are glad to be a part of Yonkers racing. The half-mile racing, I know a lot of people like to see racing on mile tracks, but I think it’s great. It shows versatility in horses.” Devious Man leads all 3-year-old trotters in seasonal earnings with $730,367 in the bank. He won the $252,000 Empire Breeders Classic Final at Vernon Downs June 18 and took the $500,000 Beal Final at Pocono July 1. Devious Man also finished second to Walner in the Stanley Dancer Memorial and third in the Zweig behind Yonkers Trot rival Yes Mickey. Andy Miller has driven Devious Man in all of his starts. “Obviously we’re real happy with him,” Miller said. “He was really good on the New York circuit last year winning the Sire Stakes Final right there at Yonkers. We were hoping he would come back as well as he has and he’s proven to be real nice. He’s consistent and you couldn’t be happier with a horse like him. “In the Empire Breeders Final, Andy had him in perfect position second-over and pounced on a great trip. He was super that day and for a New York race, that was a nice one to win, obviously,” she continued. “In the Beal, he was kind of a longshot over there; he drew the outside. Andy worked out a perfect trip for him.” Devious Man reached harness racing’s biggest stage when he competed in the Hambletonian at The Meadowlands August 5. After finishing second in his elimination, Devious Man was third in the final after closing with a :27.2 final quarter, but was placed second after What The Hill, who crossed the wire first, was disqualified. As the result is under appeal, Miller is left in an awkward spot in the middle of it all. “I don’t know if he was second or third in the Hambletonian yet,” she said with a laugh. “I was happy with his effort in the Hambletonian. To go two trips and race the best he could, I’m really, really proud of him. “My horse, my number wasn’t blinking that day. I finished third and if the judges felt an infraction was made by the winner, that’s their decision and that’s why they’re in the judges’ booth and I’m in the paddock working,” she continued. “My horse raced a great race. The horse and Andy did a great job that day.” Devious Man will start from post five in his elimination, just outside of 2-1 second choice Yes Mickey, who enters off a victory in the Zweig. Hambletonian finalist Enterprise is 3-1 from the pylons. Miller is confident in Devious Man Saturday night. “My horse can maneuver on the half-mile track and he’s liked Yonkers in the past, so I’m very excited for the eliminations and the final,” she said. In the second elimination, Miller will start Money Macintosh and Top Flight Angel. Money Macintosh is 1-for-7 this year. His only win came in a leg of the New York Sire Stakes at Monticello July 17. Since then, the son of Credit Winner made a break in a Sire Stakes leg at Yonkers August 3 and went off stride again in Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs August 11. Miller got a clean line on Money Macintosh last time out in the Zweig when Jason Bartlett piloted him to an eighth place finish in 1:53.3. “Money Macintosh, he can go around a half. If he minds his manners, I think he can be right there,” she said. “I’ve been going back to the drawing board after his last couple starts when he did go off stride. Jason said in the Zweig, he was solid. He kept him flat and that was a nice race going into the Yonkers Trot. I just keep making modifications and adjustments on him to kind of get him over getting a little shaky at the wire.” Top Flight Angel is 2-for-7 this year and both victories came at the Hilltop Oval. The colt by Archangel won a $22,000 overnight by 5 1/4 lengths May 16 and took a New York Sire Stakes leg by 5 3/4 lengths in 1:55 August 3. “He won at Yonkers pretty dominantly in New York Sire Stakes. He seems to travel that track well,” Miller said. “It’s a great booster in your confidence. I picked up Brian Sears, which doesn’t hurt anything. We’ll see what happens that night.” The Saturday night card at Yonkers also features a single elimination of the Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers in race 9 and a $50,000 Open Handicap Pace in race 8. First post time is 7:10 p.m. To view entries for Saturday’s card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - Multiple stakes-winner Missile J returns to harness racing at Yonkers Raceway Saturday night after a brief freshening. Trainer Scott Di Domenico, who purchased Missile J out of the Tattersalls January Mixed Sale with owners John McGill and Brian Carsey, entered the pacer back in the $35,000 sub-featured 4-Year-Old Open Handicap. Off the 83-day layoff, but still with $76,380 on his card, the restricted pace is the ideal spot to bring the 15-time winner and $498,482 earner back. “This class is the race we bought him for in January. This is what our hope for him was when we bought him,” Di Domenico said. “Obviously, I don’t think anybody thought that it was going to go the way that it did with him getting on that kind of roll and competing at the level he did with the horses he was racing against. Fortunately it did. That was a great thrill for everybody involved.” After buying Missile J for $115,000, the son of American Ideal won his first four races for his new connections. He climbed the class ladder in each start and won the Open Pace at Dover Downs in a lifetime best 1:49.1 to cap his grand slam. Missile J then won three straight preliminary legs of the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers. He paced 1:51.3 in two of those triumphs and posted two sub :27 final quarters on the half-mile track. Missile J’s last win came April 1 at Yonkers. Since then, he finished third in the Levy Final as the race’s even-money favorite, third in the Graduate Final, fourth in an Open Handicap Pace, and seventh in the Stafford Invitational at Harrah’s. His connections came together and decided to give the gelding some well-earned time off. “Racing that caliber of horses, going 1:51, :26 three weeks in a row at Yonkers, that’s very hard to hold up to. Five or six weeks in a row of that Levy series against that competition, they throw a lot of heat on you every week and it’s taxing,” Di Domenico said. “I’m not making any excuses on why he didn’t win the final or the next race or anything else. I just think it was a combination of getting raced fairly hard through the winter and raced at a very high level in the Levy. I just think he needed a break.” Di Domenico came to McGill and Carsey with his decision and they agreed. Despite having to bypass several Grand Circuit events, Missile J’s owners opted to be patient and let their star pacer recuperate from the winter and spring campaign. “When we sat down and talked about giving him a little break, they were very good about it. You always want to do good for people like that. They give me a lot of options to make decisions, which I enjoy and we work well together,” Di Domenico said. “They believe in the horse and they believe in the trainer’s decision to sit a horse of his caliber out. He was eligible to some Grand Circuit races for a lot of money. They knew he was out in the field and they watched those races from the sidelines and never said a word or complained about it ever. I’m appreciative of them for believing in my decision to give the horse a little break and I think he’ll repay them for it, I really do. “Horses don’t do what he did,” he continued. “He came home in some tough spots and mowed them down and I think he’s got a lot of future ahead of him.” After about 35 days off at New Jersey Equine, Missile J returned to Di Domenico’s barn in great shape. He had put on some weight and came back mentally sharp and with a great attitude. Di Domenico prepped Missile J for his first race off the bench with one qualifier at Harrah’s August 8. He finished second to Christen Me and paced 1:53.2 with a :27.1 final quarter. In his first start off the layoff, the race office assigned Missile J post eight. Brent Holland will drive the 9/2 morning line chance for the first time Saturday night. Di Domenico is expecting an off-the-pace trip. “He’s done everything that I’ve asked him to do. Everything really professionally,” the trainer said. “The outside at Yonkers is not a very easy thing to overcome. Hopefully he’ll get some pace ahead of him and he’ll have a shot to pick up some of the pieces and get paid.” Saturday’s 4-Year-Old Open Handicap Pace also includes last week’s winner, Ideal Jimmy. The son of Western Ideal drew post four and is the 7/2 second choice on the morning line. Jordan Stratton will drive again. St Lads Moonwalk finished third last week from post five and drew the same position this time. He is the 3-1 morning line favorite. Dakota Jack, Settlemoir, Mr D`s Dragon, Continual Hanover, and Western Dynasty complete the field. A $55,000 Open Handicap Pace featuring Bit Of A Legend and Somewhere In L A headlines Saturday’s card. Post time is 7:10 p.m. For entries for Saturday’s races, click here. Sunday at Yonkers A reminder regarding Yonkers Raceway’s matinee program this Sunday (Aug. 20th), with a 12:30 PM first post. It’s the sixth of eight consecutive Sundays. It’s a dozen-race, all-trot card, with races 2 (approx.. post time 12:50 PM) through 5 (2:20 PM) of the ‘French’ theme, as in overflow fields at the mile-and-one-quarter distance. The ‘New York, New York Double’ is also back this Sunday, including Saratoga’s 3rd race (post time 2:07 PM) and Yonkers’ 5th race (post time 2:20 PM). Program pages accompany this release. Final post for Sunday is scheduled for 4:50 PM. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y - A week ago, Yonkers Raceway began using a new electronic draw system to set post positions for its races. The new system is called eTrack and was developed by the USTA. The system takes the harness racing horses entered in each race as input and randomly assigns post positions to them with the press of a button, as Yonkers Raceway Assistant Race Secretary Bob Miecuna explains. “With eTrack from the USTA, it’s an option you have to draw the races automatically instead of doing it by hand,” he said. “Basically, everything is set up exactly the same way you would for the regular draw. You select the horses you have for each particular race and then you push a button to draw and then the eight post positions come up with the also eligibles. It’s very simple.” The electronic draw replaces a decades old system of drawing post positions by hand. As Miecuna explains, the process was dated and relied heavily on human participation. “The old process, the entry blanks were brought over to the judges for each race and the judge would select an entry blank and then a horseman would go and select a number randomly. They had pills numbered one through eight. They would go and select a pill, call out the number, they’d write it down on the blank and on the draw sheet, and continue right through, eight for each race for all twelve races.” Miecuna, who began his role 19 years ago and handles the processing of entries, claims, and other work in the race office, noted the upgraded draw system offers two main advantages: integrity and efficiency. The new system largely removes humans from the equation and saves time. “This does save time. The time isn’t the big thing, it’s just it’s very efficient,” he said. “Nobody can drop a pill. The only human hand is touching the button that says ‘draw.’ ” Miecuna noted the new system also makes it easier for horsemen and the public to observe the draw. When pills were hand-drawn and entry blanks were pulled under the old system, it was difficult for any spectators to see which numbers and horses were being selected. The new  eTrack system, however, displays its results on a large screen monitor in the race office.  “We got a large TV monitor for the judge’s office so anyone who comes in can come and see it,” Miecuna said. “There’s no looking over a shoulder onto a little computer screen. We have a 42- or 44-inch that they can look at.” Although the eTrack system has been available to the track for several months, the race office began using it to draw pari-mutuel races about a week ago. For two months leading up to the change, Miecuna and Race Secretary Steve Starr used the eTrack system to set post positions for qualifiers. “We were practicing with that on qualifiers for about two months just to make sure that when we did go and do it live, it was a smooth transition,” Miecuna explained. “We knew it was going to work, but we wanted to make sure we could do it properly.” The system has successfully drawn post positions for pari-mutuel races, including overnight and sire stakes fields. The only limitation of the software is exposed when complex handicaps are applied to the track’s top classes. Miecuna is optimistic a future software update will address this limitation. “If you do make any kind of difficult handicap race, you have to draw by hand, but besides that it’s fine. You can’t assign one and two, draw three through six, and assign seven and eight. Down the road they’ll get to that.” Yonkers Raceway races Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:10 p.m. and Sunday afternoons. Click here for a complete racing schedule. To view Yonkers Raceway’s draw schedule and latest condition sheets, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. - Ever since harness racing trainer Aaron Lambert purchased Dynamic Youth out of the 2010 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Carl Cito Jr. has been involved. He started with a small piece of the talented pacer and was along for the ride as the gelding won the Cane Pace and captured multiple New York Sire Stakes at 3, won an elimination of the Ben Franklin and placed in the Confederation Cup, Monument Circle, and Windy City Pace at 4, placed in the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby at 5, and again made the Ben Franklin Final at age 6. But as Dynamic Youth’s stakes days ran out, the other partners in the ownership group fled. Soon, Cito found himself taking on a bigger role with the pacer. “I’ve always owned a small piece of him,” Cito explained. “As time went on and I ended up training him, some of the other guys were opting out; they were just into stakes horses. I acquired more of a share of him and now I own half of him with my partner Chris.” Cito trains, drives, and owns the Dynamic Youth in partnership with Chris Giaccio. The two met by chance and although Cito was reluctant to take on the new owner, eventually, they began partnering on horses. “I actually met (Chris) through the judges when Cammie Haughton was the presiding judge. He went into the office and asked for some recommendations for trainers and I was on the list,” Cito recalled. “The guy just called me and I wasn’t really taking owners at the time, it was just my own horses. But I kind of became friendly with him and we got some horses together and have ever since. It’s probably been about six or seven years now.” Dynamic Youth trains at Cito’s private farm in Jackson, New Jersey along with Cito’s four other horses. Cito and his wife, Natalie, know just how lucky they are to work with the accomplished  son of Bettor’s Delight, who is 35-for-116 with $1,219,492 earned. “You can’t ask for a better racehorse. Good manners, good personality, a lot of class. He’s got track records at probably two or three different tracks,” Cito said. “He’s just a class, class horse. You can’t ask for a better horse to be around. He really has no bad habits, which is rare. “My wife is the one who goes out and feeds him, gives him apples and carrots. He’s just a nice horse and they don’t come around like him very often. He’s special.” At age 8, Dynamic Youth is still in top form. He’s 3-for-15 this year racing primarily at Yonkers and finished third in the $55,000 Open Handicap Pace July 29. With Cito in the sulky, Dynamic Youth rode a pocket trip behind Great Vintage after stretching his rival out through a :26.3 opening quarter. Although Dynamic Youth was raging with pace, Cito had to take up behind Great Vintage, who tired badly with a furlong to race. Meanwhile, odds-on favorite Evenin of Pleasure enjoyed a perfect second-over trip. “The whole outer tier, Evenin of Pleasure and George (Brennan) got the jump on all of us,” Cito explained. “I actually came to a very, very slow pace at that time and when he hit the passing lane, he just charged. His last eighth was very fast. If he would have gotten me to the top of the lane, I think I would have won. The horse I was following finished last. My momentum was stopped.” Cito has driven Dynamic Youth in all 25 of his pari-mutuel starts since taking over the gelding’s training in April 2016. One of the few owner-trainer-drivers remaining in the sport, Cito’s days as a catch-driver in the 1990s motivate him to drive his own stock. A winner of 1071 career races, Cito only gave up driving full time after a series of accidents forced him to the sidelines. “I did the catch driving thing back in the 90s. I just basically drove for other guys. Then I had a couple of bad wrecks and I just started training and I did that for another 10 or so years, then I started doing both again. When I get the itch, I drive, when I don’t, I don’t.” Driving his own stock, the five stabled at his farm and a few others stabled with their owner in Colts Neck, New Jersey, gives Cito more insight about his horses. Cito says Dynamic Youth is a perfect horse to drive. “He’s a horse you can drive with no handholds. You rev him up, he can leave the gate :26.0, but he can go a quarter in 35 seconds. He doesn’t even wear ear plugs. He’s just a pleasure to drive,” Cito described. “It’s very rare to get a top horse like that who just does what you tell him to do. When he’s sharp like he is now, he can get a little aggressive, but he’s just a perfect horse to drive and he always was. Everyone who ever drove him said that.” Dynamic Youth will start from post one in Saturday night’s $55,000 Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway. He is a 12-1 morning line in a loaded field. Bit Of A Legend will make his first start since winning the Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace at Saratoga, but will start from post eight at odds of 4-1. Somewhere In L A is 7/2 from post six while last week’s Open winner Luck Be Withyou will start just to his inside as the 3-1 favorite. A winner two weeks ago, Evenin of Pleasure was assigned post seven and is 8-1. P H Supercam, Polak A, and Sunfire Blue Chip complete the field. “It’s definitely one of the toughest Opens this year so far at Yonkers with all them good horses in there at once,” Cito remarked. “They’re all pretty sharp right now. They’re all pretty good horses in there, but he’s not going to embarrass himself. He’ll hold his own for sure.” From the inside, Cito hopes to work out another garden trip. He will look to leave along the pylons and drop in behind the leader in a race that figures to feature plenty of early speed. “You leave hard and then you see who’s coming. If it’s not a good one, you try to seat them behind you and follow the next one that’s coming and roll on. His best race is on the front, but it’s hard to cut a mile. I can’t imagine nobody’s going to be leaving in that race. We’ll just try and follow the best one we can and hope he takes me to the top of the stretch.” As Cito continues to race Dynamic Youth at the top level of competition, he is acknowledges the special opportunity he has been afforded to not only own a horse of this caliber, but to work closely with him, too. “We’ve been fortunate to have him and have him stay healthy all this time and have him still able to compete with these horses at 8 years old. I’ve only had one other one that made $1 million that I’ve trained from the get go and they don’t come along very often. “The horse always shows up and if he doesn’t, there’s usually a reason. Not just because he throws a clunker. He doesn’t usually do that. And you get to know his quirks as far as what his routine is during the week. How hard to train him, how hard not to train him, if you train him at all. Sometimes I don’t even train him. Sometimes I just jog him and he seems to like that. I’ve just been lucky to have him.” First post time Saturday night at Yonkers is 7:10 p.m. Click here to view entries for Saturday’s races. Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

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