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YONKERS, NY - Yonkers Raceway Friday night (Sept. 14th) wrapped up its New York Sire Stakes legs--all 16 of 'em--with the $156,200 Lew Barasch Trot for 2-year-old harness racing colts and geldings. Friday's event once again honored the memory of 'Tootie,' whose unmatched PR savvy in the golden age of the game helped make the nascent Roosevelt International Trot a happening. The evening's first ($77,400) grouping saw odds-on Thunder (Jason Bartlett, $3.10) do it handily in 1:58. From post position No. 2, he made the lead around Brady Bunch (Andy Miler) after an early break of Kredit Karma (Brian Sears). After that, no issues for the fave through dawdling (:29.1, 59.2, 1:29) fractions. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) tried it first-up from third, settling for second to the winner (as he did at Vernon), with the final margin three lengths. Brady Bunch and Quiksilver Bluchip (catch-driver Jordan Stratton) completed the gimmick finishers. For Thunder, a son of Conway Hall trained by John Butenschoen for co-owners Crawford Racing, VIP Internet Stables and Jeremey Day, it was his fourth win in eight seasonal starts (all in last five tries). The exacta paid $12.20, the triple returned $17.20 and the superfecta paid $98.50. "He's handy, he gets over any size tracks and he's getting better," Bartlett said. "We're ready for next week (sire stakes finals here)." The evening's second ($78,800) statebred sojourn was a mismatch on paper and in practice for divisional leader Gimpanzee (Sears, $2.10), making it 6-for-6 ($166,358) during his froshfest. All the wins have come in New York Sire Stakes competition, the latest after weigh stations of :29, :57.4, 1:28.1 and (identical to first event) 1:58. From post No. 6, he waited his turn to get by an eventually-breaking Captain Krupnik (Dan Dube) and Chapter Fashion (Bartlett). The latter eventually did the dance of the damned coming to the half, which led to an extremely gapped-out gang. The lead was eight lengths at intermission. Our White Knight (Miller) did cut in that passing the three-quarters, but the outcome was even more death-and-taxes than death-and-taxes. Gimpanzee won by 3¾ lengths, with Out White Knight safely second over Certify (Jeff Gregory). Fourth went to Captain Krupnik, as his break wasn't as costly as the other three misbehavers...even though all four were 'distanced' in the chart. Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven is trained by Marcus Melander for Delray Beach co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, has won his half-dozen starts by a combined 23¼ lengths. The exacta paid $23.20, the triple returned $222 and the superfecta paid $920. "He's done nothing wrong and tonight was the same," Sears said. The Raceway hosts the $1.8 million New York Night of Champions Saturday night, Sept. 21st, with eight, $225,000 divisional finals. Friday night's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace was won by Medusa (Sears, $6.60) in 1:52, the lady's 35th career victory in her 120th start. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, September 8, 2018-A week after the 2018 Yonkers Trot, there was a renewal of the 2017 edition, complete with similar outcome. Top Flight Angel (Brian Sears, $17.20) two-moved from the eight-hole Saturday night (Sept. 8th), winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured $44,000 Open Handicap Trot. He grinded his way up and over Yes Mickey (Jason Bartlett), just as he did in last season's Trot. The margin was a nose when they went for a half-million-dollars then and a length here. The mile went in 1:55 after Yes Mickey's intervals of :28.1, 57.3 and 1:25.4. Third went to a belated Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory), Charmed Life (catch-driver Mark MacDonald) and Elysium Lindy (George Brennan) settled for the minors, while slight 2-1 choice Rose Run Sydney (Jim Marohn Jr.) jumped it off early. For fourth choice Top Flight, a 4-year-old son of Archangel owned by Legendary Standardbred Farm and trained by Julie Miller, it was his fourth win in 10 seasonal starts (career earnings over $614,000). The exacta paid $80 ($79.50 in the '17 Trot), the triple returned $225 and the superfecta paid $1,413. Saturday night's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace saw pole-assigned Sunfire Blue Chip (MacDonald, $7.50) retake from 7-10 favorite Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), then win comfortably in 1:51.3 (off early subsections of :26.4, :55.4 and 1:23). Back for his first visit in nearly three months, Sunfire Blue Chip defeated a first-up Theartofconfusion A (Sears) by a length-and-a-quarter, with Evenin' of Pleasure, Somewhere in L A (Bartlett) and Always at My Place (Brennan) coming away with the remainder. For second choice Sunfire Blue Chip, an 8-year-old son of American Ideal trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Brixton Medical and R A W Equine, it was his sixth win in 18 '18 tries (career earnings over $1.4 million). The exacta paid $37.60, the triple returned $105 and the superfecta paid $632. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, September 2, 2018-A second-tier Bioness (Brian Sears, $33.80) made one decisive move Sunday afternoon (Sept. 2nd), winning the $120,000 final of Yonkers Raceway's French-American Trotting Club Series. The finale, wrapping a four-race series for imported French-breds, went at the mile-and-a-half and the first of the four added-distance races. Away sixth (fifth after a breaker) from post position No. 9, Bioness made the lead from 47-1 Adagio de la Tour (Jason Bartlett) between the :28.3 opening quarter-mile and the :59.1 half. He then fought off Uhlan Noir (Brent Holland), with Deo (George Brennan) wide behind that one. While this was going on, 6-5 choice favorite Versachet (Jordan Stratton) found himself going wide to nowhere, while second choice Ursis des Caillons (Joe Bongiorno) was done in by an early break. After subsequent substations of 1:28.3, 1:58 and 2:28, Bioness opened to three lengths into the lane. Though tiring, Bioness did hold sway over a handful of pursuers, winning by a length in 2:58. Adagio de la Tour (Jason Bartlett) closed from a loose pocket and wound up second, with Alpha D'Urzy (Louis-Philippe Roy) third. Ursis des Caillions did recover for fourth, with first leader Barry Black (Austin Siegelman) lasting for the last pay envelope. For fifth choice Bioness, a 7-year-old Sam Bourbon gelding owned by Northfork Racing Stable and trained by Chris Oakes, it was his third win in 13 seasonal starts (a second and two thirds in series prelims). The exacta paid $1,004, the triple returned $6,978 and the superfecta paid $43,653 (base $2 payout). The week's $44,000 Open Handicap Trot, at the old-fashioned flat mile, was won by down-the-road Obrigado (Mark MacDonald, $5.90) in 1:55.2 Sunday's final-for-a-while summer stock presentation of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 4-Ruler of the Nile (Saratoga's 1st race) and 6-Lord Cromwell (Yonkers' 3rd race), returning $18.70 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $7,490. The next Sunday matinee is Nov. 4th (post time TBA). Note that the Raceway is dark for live racing Monday and Tuesday nights (Sept. 3rd and 4th), returning Thursday night (Sept. 6th), with the evening norm first post of 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) wins the first of two divisions of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman harness racing trotting colts & geldings at Vernon Downs on Thursday (August 30) for a purse of $53,500. Chapter Fashion (Jason Bartlett) charged to the front and hit the first quarter in :27.4. Gimpanzee ($2.10) followed in the pocket. Trained by Marcus Melander for owners Courant Inc., and S R F Stable, he would take over just before getting to the half first in :57.0 and cruise into three-quarters in 1:25.4. Chapter Fashion would stay close in second. As they hit the stretch Gimpanzee found another gear and recorded a lifetime best mark to win in 1:54.3. Chapter Fashion was easily second best. Our White Knight (Jim Morrill Jr.) came up to finish third. Gimpanzee is a colt by Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows. He is a perfect five for five in his career. Thunder (Jason Bartlett) takes the second division ($54,500) of the NYSS for trotting colts & geldings. Thunder ($6.30) went right to the front but Brady Bunch (Andy Miller) went first-over and took the lead before hitting the first quarter in :27.4. Thunder, who is trained by John Butenschoen for owners Crawford Farms Racing , Jeremy Day, and VIP Internet Stable LLC., re-claimed the lead and led them to a half of :57.4. He would lead them to three-quarters in 1:27.1. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) came up to challenge around the last turn but Thunder was too strong and flew home in the stretch to win in a lifetime best of 1:55.4. Chip Chip Conway would settle for second with Brady Bunch earning third money. Thunder is a colt by Conway Hall-Cr Oh Suzanna. It was his third win in six lifetime starts. Vernon downs returns to live racing on Friday (August 31) for a 10 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, August 29, 2018-It began innocently enough, back in 1984, with the harness racing pacer Alicia Blue Chip at Vernon Downs. The lass, same as the driver, won just that lone race that season.... ...but while 'Alicia' would go on to win just 22 more races during her career, her driver would notch another 10,000-and counting-during his. It was a bit more than 24 hours after Brian Sears reached that milestone when he sat back and mused about the milestone. "It's meaningful for me," Sears said during a Yonkers Raceway work night. The irony that the 50-year-old Sears reached five figures while driving a trotter named Chasin' Dreams in Westchester Sunday afternoon (Aug. 26th) was not lost on him. "The relationships I've maintained," he said. "I appreciate all the owners, trainers and grooms that have supported me over the years." Sears made sure to save the premier plaudits for his family. "My dad (Jay) taught me how to be a horsemen and he took the brunt of it, because I had to learn with his horses. "He and my sister, Jennifer, who's also an accomplished horseperson, have helped me more than anyone." As good a big-money driver as harness racing has ever seen-career purses in excess of $186 million ranks him sixth all-time-there isn't a trophy out there without Sears' name etched somewhere. So what stands out? "I can't name them all, but my first Hambletonian (Muscle Hill-2009), first Meadowlands Pace (Rocknroll Hanover-2005), winning the (2017) Yonkers Trot (Top Flight Angel) and Messenger (Downbytheseaside) the same night. Those are races I definitely remember." While the Harness Hall of Famer (Class of 2016) has been the leading driver at every venue he's hung his helmet full-time, he credits the Meadows-where he moved his base in 1994--for starting his career. "I had opportunities there to learn and work on my craft," he said. "I would drive against Dave Palone and Dave Miller and learn from them." Another irony not lost on Sears is the fact that the next generation is now learning from him. "We're the old guys in the room now," he said while seated next to George Brennan (his words, George, not ours)."But it's still fun. I enjoy it out there." "The game has changed. The biggest difference today is there are no breathers during the race. Horse carry their speed much farther than they used to, so we have to be more aggressive." And with that, Sears left one seat for another. Next up...11,000. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, August 26, 2018-Brian Sears won the 10,000th race of his more-than-distinguished harness racing career Sunday afternoon (Aug. 26th), reaching the milestone at his second home, Yonkers Raceway. Sears, as good a big-money driver as the sport has ever seen, found the plateau with death-and-taxes Chasin' Dreams ($2.30) in the $16,000, ninth-race trot. The 3-year-old Credit Winner gelding quarter-moved to the lead, then defeated Striking Encore (Jason Bartlett) by a pair of lengths in 1:57.1. After the achievement, as required by state and federal law, Sears was presented with the obligatory congratulatory sign. He began the afternoon getting win No. 9,999 with favored Top Flight Angel ($5.40)-the 2017 Yonkers Trot winner-in the $44,000 Open Handicap Trot (1:54.3). The 50-year-old Sears, a native of Fort Lauderdale, FL, has career purse earnings in excess of $186 million. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, August 20, 2018--The public figured it out Monday night (Aug. 20th) with Yonkers Raceway hosting the $160,400 New York Sire Stakes Michael Sorentino Trot for 2-year-old colts and geldings. A pair of $80,200 events led to a pair of winning favorites. The opening division saw Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, $3) mock both an eight-hole and seven outclassed foes, an as-he-pleased 4¼-length win in 1:57.3 Away fourth early, Gimpanzee went up and over early (:28.3, :59.2) leader Cavill Hanover (Dan Duve) before a 1:28.2 three-quarters. Gimpanzee opened 3½ lengths into the lane, then finished it off because the rules said he had to. Our White Knight (Scott Zeron) did get into second (for the fifth time), with Bazillionaire (Trond Smedshammer) third and Brady Bunch (Andy Miller)--who missed the memo at the outset--fourth. As for Gimpanzee, the son of Chapter Seven hasn't been tested thus far, winning his first four (NYSS) races by a combined 16½ lengths. Gimpanzee is trained by Marcus Melander for Delray Beach, FL, co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. The exacta paid $44, the triple returned $307 and the superfecta paid $1,467 "He's just very mature," Sears--single digits away from 10,000 career wins--said. The evening's second and final grouping was won by Chapter Fashion ($5.90), who two-moved to the lead from post position No. 7, then held sway (:29.2, 59.3, 1:29, 1:58.1). Thunder (Zeron) tried it first-up, missing three-quarters of a length, with Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) third and Xcuseme (John Stark Jr.) fourth. The other half of the field, including second-choice Keystone Cash (Jimmy Takter), all misbehaved at some juncture. For Chapter Fashion, a Chapter Seven gelding owned by Fashion Farms and trained by Jim Campbell, it was his second (consecutive) win in five '18 tries. The exacta paid $17.80, the triple paid $45.20 and the superfecta paid $438. "He seemed to get around the track alright," Bartlett said. "There was some movement, but we weren't going very fast." New York Sire Stakes continue here Friday night (Aug. 24th), with the $156,000 Jim Crawford Pace for 2-year-old colts/geldings. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, August 19, 2018--It's a froshfest Monday night (Aug. 20th), with Yonkers Raceway hosting the $160,400 New York Sire Stakes Michael Sorentino Trot for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Post time for the dozen-race card is 6:50 PM, with the pair of $80,200 statebred events going as races 6 and 8. The opening division finds Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, post 8) eying a fourth sire stakes win in as many starts. The son of Chapter Seven hasn't been tested thus far, winning those first three races by a combined 12¼ lengths. He hits town after a life-best 1:55.4 effort at Saratoga, a track record for that age group. Gimpanzee is trained by Marcus Melander for Delray Beach, FL, co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. Geldings Horns for Three (Jason Bartlett, post 1) and Cavill Hanover (Dan Dube, post 2) have each won twice in sire stakes competition, the latter edging the former earlier this month at Batavia. Our White Knight (Scott Zeron, post 5) has been a bridesmaid four times (with one third) in his five NYSS tries, while Brady Bunch (Andy Miller, post 7) has chased home Gimpanzee in his last couple of sire stakes efforts. The evening's second and final grouping has Thunder (Zeron, post 5) going after a third consecutive NYSS win. The son of Conway Hall, trained by John Butenschoen for co-owners Crawford Racing, Jeremey Day and VIP Internet Stable, was an off-the-pace, life-best 1:58.3 at Batavia in his latest work night. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr., post 3) has two wins and two seconds in a half-dozen seasonal starts, while Chapter Fashion (Bartlett, post 7) enters off an open stakes win in a division of the Tompkins (Tioga), a maiden-breaking 1:56.1. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

It was a busy week of stakes action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. There were big-money races held each night, with both two-year-old trotting fillies and three-year-old pacing fillies competing in both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series action. There were some scintillating performances and some head-scratching winners. And one of those stakes winners also has been doing damage in the overnight races at Pocono, making her the perfect candidate to lead off the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ATTENTION HANOVER This three-year-old filly has shown a knack for being able to win no matter what the race throws at her. She started her hot streak with a win against non-winners of two at Pocono on July 2 by going gate to wire in a career-best 1:51.2. At Harrah's for her next start, she came on with a first-over victory. On July 22 at Pocono, Attention Hanover passed four horses in the stretch for an upset win at 15-1. Finally, after a near-miss second, she scored at 8-1 with a pocket trip and rally in a condition group on August 5. That meant she rode into Sunday night's $20,000 Stallion Series races for three-year-old pacing fillies with wins in four of her last five races, all coming in unique fashion. As the even-money favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven, she sat the pocket seat once again, this time behind pacesetting Butchie Beach. Driver Eric Carlson then made the crucial decision to tip Attention Hanover to the outside late to follow the cover of the first-over mover Sandy's Beach. That proved to be a stroke of genius, because it gave Attention Hanover the opportunity to rally. Instead of getting blocked behind a faltering horse, the filly was able to spin off the cover and overtake Sandy's Beach for a victory by 1 ½ lengths in 1:51.2, which was the fastest of the three Stallion Series splits that night. Her win gives Attention Hanover victories in five of her last six starts, each one of them unique unto itself but still building toward her overall excellent record. Other top pacers this week include: Hallie's Comet (Pal LaChance driver and trainer), who rallied from off the pace for a second consecutive condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51.3; Sea's Ideal (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who churned through sloppy conditions on Monday night to pick up her second straight claiming victory in a career-best 1:51.4; and Rock Absorber (George Napolitano Jr., Brandon Todd), whose victory in a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:50.2 not only matched a career mark but also was the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ABC MUSCLES BOY One of the reasons that Rene Allard has been the top trainer for several years running at Pocono is because his horses never stay down for too long. They may suffer slumps at some point during the meet, but they generally rally from those slumps, right the ship and come back hotter than ever. Case in point: ABC Muscles Boy. The seven-year-old gelding had always been a solid performer in the past, but he started his 2018 season off with five straight finishes out of the money. On August 6, he was dropped into our lowest condition group. Needing the boost of confidence that comes with victory, ABC Muscles Boy responded with a solid win, handling the field by eight lengths in a sharp time of 1:54.3. Riding high once again, he moved up into the $11,000 condition trotting group on Monday night. Recognizing his potential, the bettors made him a 3-5 favorite even with the move up in class. Leaving from post position #6 in a field of eight, ABC Muscles Boy was sent right to the front end by driver Brian Sears. Even in a torrential downpour and extremely sloppy conditions, he held the lead with little concern. By the time the stretch rolled around, he was once again well ahead of his competition, coasting home for the victory in 1:55.2. It looks like we have another Allard trainee moving back up the ladder, his slump long since a thing of the past. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: I'm Your Captain (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), who followed up back-to-back wins at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who tore it up for a condition win on Sunday night in 1:53.1, matching the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Beautiful Sin (Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter), whose winning time of 1:56.3 was the fastest of three divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies held on Monday night in the slop. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RIPROY There were a bunch of long shots that scored on Saturday night, but this pacer driven by Tom Jackson topped them all, winning a claiming handicap at 55-1 and paying off $117 on a $2 win ticket. (Correction from last week: In last week's column, I misidentified the Long Shot of the Week. The honor should have gone to Mandela Blue Chip. My apologies for the mistake.) DRIVER OF THE WEEK: BRIAN SEARS Sears makes occasional appearances at Pocono on stakes nights, and he made the most of a visit on Monday, scoring five victories, including a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win with Swizzle Sticks. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIM CAMPBELL Campbell won a Sire Stakes on Saturday night with three-year-old pacing filly Alexa's Power, and then scored another on Monday night with two-year-old trotting filly Swizzle Sticks. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Down

There were three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for two year old colt and gelding trotters at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Tuesday evening. Each division for the freshman high-steppers went for a purse of $54,500 and in the first division of the night, a new track record for two year olds was set. Marcus Melander's Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows-Muscle Massive) was the public's 2-5 betting favorite in his installment of the NY Sire Stakes for two year olds and brought a two-for-two career record into the try. Brian Sears marched the colt out to the front end as the freshman stepped away to a lead that grew to nearly five lengths in the early going. After clocking a half in 57.1, Gimpanzee appeared dominant in the final lap before stopping the timer in 1:55.4. The win time lowered the previous track record for two year old trotting colts by a full second, eclipsing the mark set last year by My Lindy Winner (Jim Morrill Jr). The win time also served as a new lifetime best for the freshman trotter whose previous mark was set at Tioga Downs in the start leading up to Tuesday's race. Frank Coppola Jr. piloted Horns For Three (Credit Winner-Swoosh Hanover-Lindy Lane) to a wire-to-wire score in the second division of the Sire Stakes on Tuesday. The Ed Hart trainee held off the first-over bid by the favored Our White Knight (Brian Sears) before scoring in 2:00.4. Horns For Three is now a two-time winner in the NYSS as he prevailed at Buffalo last month. The evening's final division of the NYSS saw Thunder (Conway Hall-Cr Oh Suzanna-Royal Troubador) roll to a first over victory for Scott Zeron. The John Butenschoen trainee recorded the first win of his young career as he toughed it out overland before scoring in 1:59.2. Live racing continues on Wednesday night at Saratoga with a first post time set for 7:05pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, July 29, 2018-Lass Rose Run Sydney (Brian Sears, $6.10) beat the boys (and one other girl), then made 'em cry Sunday afternoon (July 29th), winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $44,000 Open Handicap Trot. The weekly trotting feature was a flat-mile event, contested a handful of races after the day's four, mile-and-a-quarter, bigger-field 'French' forays. Away fourth from assigned post position No. 5, Rose Run Sydney saw eight-baller In Secret (George Brennan) eschew a three-hole. That one made the lead around 17-10 favorite Mostinterestingman (Jordan Stratton) after a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. It was a :56.4 intermission before 'Sydney' was and out and moving in the third turn. She engaged In Secret in an out of the 1:25.1 three-quarters, disposing of that one soon thereafter. The lass opened a 2½-length lead in the lane, then whipped a pocket-extricating Mostinterestingman by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.2...a tick off her season and life-best effort. In Secret was a stubborn third, with Madhatter Bluechip (Brent Holland) and the other lady, Weslynn Dancer (Jason Bartlett), coming away with the remainder. It was one of Sears' four wins during the dozen-race card. For second choice Rose Run Sydney, a 4-year-old daughter of Triumphant Caviar co-owned by Steve Carter, Adam Friedland and RBR Racing and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was his fourth win in 13 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17.40, the triple returned $70 and the superfecta paid $168. Sunday's go-round of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 7-Glossy (Saratoga's 3rd race) and 4-Casa Palmera (Yonkers' 5th race), returning $7.60 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $4,970. The next Sunday matinee is Aug. 5th (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, July 22, 2018-Odds-on Homicide Hunter (Brian Sears, $3.10) overcame the impost Sunday afternoon (July 22nd), winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $54,800 Open Handicap Trot. The weekly trotting feature went as the late-morning opener, the first of four, mile-and-a-quarter, bigger-field 'French' forays. Away sixth from his eight-ball incarceration in the field of 10, Homicide Hunter saw Madhatter Bluechip (Brent Holland) make the first lead. Gural Hanover (George Brennan) and lass NF Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.) found seats directly in behind. After early subsections off :28, :57.2 and 1:25.4, there was a second helping of 'Happenstance,' as the mare was first-up. While she began the outer tier, Gural Hanover broke in the pocket. Meanwhile, Madhatter Bluechip was continuing to fight the good fight, with the lead the 1:55.1 milepost. N F Happenstance had backed out, with Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Dube) going wide, Homicide Hunter wider and 34-1 shot Mostinterestingman (Jordan Stratton) even farther out. Smalltownthrowdown took a short lead into the lane, but couldn't sustain it. Homicide Hunter rolled off his rival, then held off a diving-inside Mosinterestingman by a neck in 2:24.2 for the added distance. Buen Camino (Jim Marohn Jr.) was s ground-saving third, with a solidly-closing Bluebird Jesse (Mark MacDonald) and a flattening Smalltownthrowdown settling for the minors. For Homicide Hunter, a 6-year-old Mr. Cantab owned by Crawford Racing trained by Chris Oakes, it was his fifth (consecutive) win in six seasonal starts (career earnings now over $1.28 million). The exacta paid $47.60, the triple returned $511 and the superfecta paid $3,625. Sunday's incarnation of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 1-La Moneda (Saratoga's 3rd race) and 2-Coach Cummings (Yonkers' 5th race) and returning $11.50 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $5,488. The next Sunday matinee is July 29th (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, July 15, 2018-Such an Angel (Brian Sears, $14.60) did it quite well Sunday afternoon (July 15th), winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $54,800 Open Handicap Trot. The weekly trotting feature went as the late-morning opener, the first of four, mile-and-a-quarter, bigger-field 'French' forays. Away third from post position No. 5, Such an Angel saw lass Weslynn Dancer (Jason Bartlett) serve as the 28-second opening act before yielding to a wide-early In Secret (George Brennan). The one's lead in the polls continued through a :57.2 half before Such an Angel moved with purpose. The challenger took over right by the 1:27 three-quarters, then opened up some overcast daylight. While this was transpiring, an out-every-step Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron), as the 1-2 favorite, continued to advance from his eight-hole impost. However, he found himself with too much work to do as Such an Angel-after a 1:55 milepost- widened to 3¼ lengths in and out of the final turn. The leader finished it off in a good-track 2:24.2...matching the distance record for a 4-year-old gelding (Hemi Seelster). Marion Marauder trimmed the final margin by a length-and-a-quarter while easily second. In Secret, Mostinterestingman (Steve Smith) and Charmed Life (Mark MacDonald) grabbed the minors. For third choice Such an Angel, a previously-mentioned 4-year-old (statebred Credit Winner) gelding owned by Sam Caruso Jr. and trained by Hunter Oakes, it was his sixth win in 15 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $32.80, the triple returned $113.50 and the superfecta paid $714. Sunday's final seasonal Belmont rendition of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 1-Hay Field (Belmont's 3rd race) and 2-Beach Memories (Yonkers' 10th race) returned $20.20 (hindsight?) for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $5,673. The next Sunday matinee is July 22nd (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - McWicked continued to turn back the clock, holding off Filibuster Hanover by a half-length to win Saturday's $471,100 William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers in 2:02.2 at the distance of 1 1/8 miles at the Meadowlands. Rockin Ron finished third. McWicked, a 7-year-old stallion, was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3 in 2014. He has won five of seven races this year, including the Ben Franklin Pace on June 30, and earned $543,911 for owner Ed James' SSG Stables. Rockin Ron led the field to the opening quarter, in :25.4, before yielding the top spot to Sintra, who took the group to the half in :55, and three-quarters in 1:22.4. McWicked and driver Brian Sears were sixth through the early portion of the race, but followed the cover of Check Six to work their way to second at the top of the stretch. McWicked took the lead in the lane, but still had work to do to fend off the charge of Filibuster Hanover to his inside. "I was trying to get him someplace in the hunt early and get in some type of flow," Sears said. "The horse has been super sharp his last few starts. I was just hoping to get some kind of trip and it worked out great. "(Filibuster Hanover) was digging pretty good on the inside, but my horse kicked it in right to the wire and was very sharp. He's just a sweet horse, so easy to drive, and gives you everything he's got." McWicked, the 4-5 favorite, paid $3.60 to win. As a 3-year-old, McWicked won 12 of 23 races and earned $1.47 million. He was winless in a combined 14 races at ages 4 and 5 because of breathing issues and multiple throat surgeries, but bounced back last year with seven victories in 27 races and $560,025. For his career, McWicked has won 27 of 81 starts and $2.86 million. "This horse, every single time he races, is absolutely unbelievable," McWicked's trainer Casie Coleman said. "He gives everything he's got every time he's on the track. He's just a pleasure of a horse." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Contacting through the SOA of NY, this morning harness racing driver Brian Sears issued the following statement pertaining to not be able to race in the Meadowlands Pace. Jeff Gural and I had several discussions earlier in the year. He made it known what he expected from me. I agreed to go to the Meadowlands in June during the break at Yonkers. After contemplating what opportunities I might have there, I went a different route. I'm pleased that we have come to an agreement that works for all parties and allows me to race at the Meadowlands and fulfill my commitments to the owners and trainers that have invested so much in our game. No further information was provided about what the agreement agreed to.        

Late last night, the Meadowlands management sent a response to www.harnessracingupdate.com pertaining to the situation with Brian Sears being barred from competing Saturday night in the Meadowlands Pace. At the end of last year (track owner) Jeff Gural and (COO) Jason Settlemoir met with all of the drivers that compete regularly at The Meadowlands, including Brian Sears. It was explained to them that if they wanted to drive at Yonkers from Jan through June don’t expect to show up in July to drive horses in our major stakes. Everyone understood and we made it clear that this rule did not apply to the Levy or Matchmaker or any other stakes races, only to overnights. Brett Miller, Yannick Gingras and Corey Callahan drove at The Meadowlands over the winter, though not every night, but they did not drive at Yonkers. Dave Miller and Brian Sears spent the winter in Florida and David began driving at the Meadowlands when he came back. Tim Tetrick took the winter off and came back after the Levy. Sears asked if he could come back after Yonkers closed for 10 days at the end of May and he did come back for that weekend’s racing. He then called Jeff and told him he had decided he did not want to be driving on the Grand Circuit and endure all the travel and inconvenience. Jeff said that was his decision and he understood; assuming this issue would not arise since most trainers of Grand Circuit horses expect their driver to travel around to Canada, Indiana, PA, Ohio and Lexington. And not just show up at the Meadowlands. Truthfully, we are surprised this became an issue since Jeff likes Brian, thinks he is a great driver and respects his desire to slow down as evidenced by his decision to take the winter off. Brian Sears is not a victim here; he advised that as a lifestyle matter he wasn’t looking for what a racing on the Grand Circuit requires and we respect that. We appreciated the commitment and rigorous schedule maintained by our drives who are Grand Circuit drivers. Up to now the only reason there is racing at the Meadowlands is because Jeff has subsidized the operating losses and overpaid the purse account by millions of dollars. With the help of many sponsors the lights have remained on and the lucrative stakes program intact. Seeing the hand writing on the wall with the dramatic decline in entries as evidenced by the fewer races, short field and lower handle has compelled Jeff along with Mike Gulotta, the SBOANJ and Dennis Drazin at Monmouth Park to work tirelessly these last few months to convince the state of the importance of horse racing in the state. Together they have requested that the state restore the $30 million-dollar purse subsidy that Gov. Christie redirected to AC advising politicians that without that money it would be impossible for The Meadowlands to continue to race when the PA tracks are open and also impossible to maintain the existing stakes schedule, which is what makes Meadowlands the leading harness track in the country, if not the world. Unfortunately, the subsidy was not included in the budget passed last week; however Jeff and the others have not given up and hope to have that added to a supplement budget which hopefully will happen in the fall. In the meantime, everyone should enjoy the next five weeks of major stakes and the 2-year-olds racing on Saturday’s Breakfast With The Babies culminating with the richest race of the year, the Hambletonian. From the management at the Meadowlands

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