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Talented gelding Gee Jay Kay has a history of breaking in running and racing roughly, but his trainer Vicki Lea is delighted that he has overcome those bad habits and is ready to perform strongly in the $50,000 Pearl Classic for three-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Saturday night. “He’s a different horse now and is more relaxed,” she said. “Before, he was quite angry and uptight and did things wrong in his races. When he was hopping and skipping, he was an angry horse. “He’s come a long way; he’s had some feet issues and we’ve worked through them and now we are just waiting for everything to fall into place. His whole attitude has changed and he’s now a happy horse. “It’s been a matter of what works for him. He’s a horse who is always busy; he’s always thinking and looking, and he doesn’t miss a trick. It’s been a matter of trying to find that niche for him which we think we’ve found. “We are happy with the way he’s coming along. He is starting to mature and has discovered what he’s meant to be doing. Barrier seven on Saturday night is not ideal, but we’re not the only ones who have drawn a difficult barrier. I think he should be thereabouts.” Gee Jay Kay, to be driven by master reinsman Chris Lewis, looks one of the main chances, along with Aldo Cortopassi’s Theo Aviator, the Colin Brown-trained pair of Its Rock And Roll and Patrickthepiranha and Justin Prentice’s Back In Twenty. Gee Jay Kay warmed up for the classic in good style with an effortless victory in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night when he started from barrier four and raced without cover before taking a narrow lead 450m from home and cruising to the line to win, untouched by Lewis, from Jiving Jolt and the pacemaker Jilliby Jake. He could have gone considerably faster, but Lewis was quite content to give him an easy run in the breeze, with a very slow lead time of 39sec. and meandering opening quarters of 31.4sec. and 30.7sec. before he dashed over the final 400m sections in 28.8sec. and 27.9sec. The win improved Gee Jay Kay’s record to 15 starts for five wins and seven placings for earnings of $37,374 and he looks set for a bright future, with his chief mission as a four-year-old the prestigious Golden Nugget championship. The Pearl Classic was robbed of considerable interest with the absence of brilliant New Zealand-bred colt Franco Edward, who notched his 11th win from 18 starts when he set the pace and scored an easy victory at a 1.56.1 rate over 2130m in a qualifying heat of the classic on Tuesday of last week. Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper said that the colt had been sent for a spell, explaining: “He’s been up for a while and has had a few little niggles. I wasn’t quite happy with him. He has been impressive in recent starts and racing in good form, but I think that was just because he is a high-calibre horse. “He wasn’t quite right and has gone to the paddock to make sure he gets the best opportunity to come back as a very good four-year-old. I wasn’t quite happy with the way he pulled up after his latest win, so I sent him to the paddock for a well-earned spell. The main concern is the horse and his well-being and to make sure he has a bright and long future. “It’s disappointing because I’m sure he would have been very competitive and hard to beat in the Pearl. There are still some classy horses in the race and some of the higher-assessed horses are drawn awkwardly. I think the one to follow could be Back In Twenty; he’s the one I like.” Back In Twenty, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, will start from the outside barrier (No. 2) on the back line and is capable of unwinding a strong finishing burst. He has led and won at two of his past three starts. Brown is hoping for a change of luck with Its Rock And Roll, who will start out wide at barrier eight on the front line. The gelding is a stout-hearted performer who has raced seven times this season for five placings after winning four times as a two-year-old. Patrickthepiranha, to be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, is sure to be tested from the outside barrier (No. 9) but has the class to overcome this disadvantage. He won at his first seven appearances as a three-year-old before unplaced runs at his past three outings. His was last in a field of 12 in the middle stages before finishing solidly to finish seventh behind Franco Edward in the heart of the Pearl. “That was the best he’s hit the line at his past three starts,” said Egerton-Green. “He was racing a little bit flat going into the Derby two starts ago (when sixth behind Major Trojan) and then had a bit of a let-up and he’s come back a lot sharper.” Cortopassi said he was pleased with Theo Aviator’s last-start fourth behind Franco Edward when the gelding had a tough run, racing three wide early and then in the breeze. Theo Aviator, a winner at ten of his 26 starts, will begin from barrier four in the front line and Cortopassi aims to use the gelding’s gate speed in a bid for the early lead.   Ken Casellas

The 2/5 favorite Aubrion du Gers (9g Memphis du Rib-J’Arrive du Gers) won today’s Gr. II Prix des Ducs de Normandie (purse 130,000€, 2450 meters, 12 International starters) at Caen with a patient, smart drive engineered by harness racing owner/trainer/driver Jean Michel Bazire.   He was away second on the outer and after 300 meters took the lead from early leader and 3.1/1 odds Bold Eagle (8m Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet) handled by Bjorn Goop for trainer Sebastien Guarato.   From then forward Aubrion du Gers maintained the front and won by over a length timed in 1.12.5kr for his 15 th consecutive victory and 45th in a 69-race career. His earnings are now 2,321,947€.   Bold Eagle increased his life earnings to 4,047, 120€ with the second-place finish and is now 43 career wins from 62 outings.   Bugsy Malone (8g Ready Cash-Night Captain) held third after pressing the pace around the final bend and boxing Bold Eagle on the pegs until late-stretch, for reinsman Yoann Lebourgeois and owner/trainer Philippe Allaire. Winning teamster Bazire rated the front with Aubrion du Gers to keep Bold Eagle in the pocket until late in the lane. 18/1 Billie de Montfort and 123/1 Django Riff completed the top five.   Aubrion du Gers now heads to Solvalla for the Elitloppet late in May. The 2/5 favorite Fadu du Chene (4m Singalo-Stardu Chene) took today’s monte Prix Henri Balliere (Gr. II, purse 100,000€, 2450 meters, 10 starters) clocked in 1.12.8kr and reined by jockey P.Ph. Ploquin for trainer Julien LeMer and breeder/owner Claude Guedj. Fadu du Chene                               ---LeTrot photo He won for the 10th time in 17 career starts now for life earnings of 620,700€. 6.1/1 Feeling Cash (4m Ready Cash-Royale Star) took second for jockey Eric Raffin for owner Carlos Lerner and trainer Philippe Allaire. 9/1 Freeman de Houelle (4m Vigove) earned the third check with Yoann Lebourgeois in the irons for breeder/trainer Franck Leblanc.   Thomas H. Hicks  

Hopeland trainer Debra Lewis is enjoying a golden run of successes which should continue when speedy four-year-old The War Nurse contests the www.gloucesterpark.com.au over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Saturday night. In the past 12 weeks Lewis has prepared 24 winners with The War Nurse winning at four of her six starts, and Luis Alberto (six wins), The Watch Maker (four), Carte Blanche (four), Vrai Amour (two), Lot Twenty One (two) and Pierre Whitby (two) all racing in with great enthusiasm. The War Nurse, to be handled by the trainer’s husband Chris, will start from the No. 5 barrier on Saturday night and the mare possesses such sparkling gate speed that she should be able to cross to the front and then dictate the terms of the 2130m event. Last Friday night, The War Nurse began very fast from barrier three and set the pace in the $50,000 WASBA Breeders Pace in which she fought on grandly to finish third behind Our Alfie Romeo and Rosies Ideal. She led from barrier five and won at a 1.55.8 rate from Ona Happy Note and The Trilogy a week earlier and scoring effortless victories at Pinjarra at her three previous outings. The War Nurse, who managed five thirds from 15 starts as a three-year-old, has really blossomed this season, with six wins, four thirds and three fourths from 13 starts. She is likely to be tested by smart mares in Beaudiene Beach Babe, Kitura and Purest Silk, but should emerge triumphant. Beaudiene Beach Babe, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr for trainer Justin Prentice, is favourably drawn at barrier three and should fight out the finish. She dashed to the lead after 400m in the standing-start Race For Roses last Friday week before relinquishing the front and being shuffled back to fifth, three back on the pegs, and then running home with great determination to finish a head second to Miss Sangrial. Kitura, trained and driven by Nathan Turvey, was unlucky at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when she trailed the pacemaker Breach The Beach and was badly blocked for a clear run in the closing stages when third to that pacer over 1730m. She will have many admirers this week from the prized No. 1 barrier. Purest Silk, trained by Barry Howlett, will start from the inside of the back line and should be prominent. She notched her eighth win from 25 starts when she finished powerfully to win from Crystal Sparkles and the pacemaker Cut Above at a 1.57./6 rate on Tuesday night. The Lewis stable will also have a strong following in other events on Saturday night, with Pierre Whitby (race two), Lot Twenty One (race six), Soho Leviathan (race seven) and Luis Alberto (race ten). Luis Alberto, a New Zealand-bred gelding, has been a revelation in the past few months, with his 13 starts for Lewis producing six wins and three placings. He is handily drawn at barrier three in the final event on Saturday night, the 1730m The Bridge Bar Pace, and should fight out the finish for Jocelyn Young, who has formed a strong association with the five-year-old. Considerable interest in this event surrounds the first appearance in Western Australia of Victorian performer Mad Robber, an eight-year-old stallion who has hade 43 starts for 11 wins, ten seconds and four thirds. Mad Robber, prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr, will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier and reinsman Gary Hall jnr is sure to make full use of the horse’s good gate speed over the sprint trip. Mad Robber, driven by Maddison Brown, impressed in winning a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when the horse began fast from barrier one, set the pace and sprinted the final 400m in 27.5sec. in beating Galante by one and a half lengths at a 1.57.3 rate. He will be having his first start on Saturday night since he raced in the breeze and wilted to fifth behind Rackemup Tigerpie over 1710m at Ballarat on December 26 last year.   Ken Casellas

CHESTER PA - Driver Tim Tetrick, who has gone to the lead in the local sulksysitting standings, posted four winners in the first five races Wednesday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia and wound up with five on the card, but in the two features he and his favored horse were caught in photo finish victories by "pocket rockets." In the $16,000 featured pace, Handsoffmychips was sent to the lead by Tetrick and went fractions of :27.3, :56, and 1:23.1, but the He's Gorgeous gelding Miss U Big Mike was lying in wait in the two-hole for driver Marcus Miller. The pair came up the inside to catch the favorite by a neck, with Miss U Big Mike lowering his mark 3 2/5 seconds with a 1:51.2 final clocking. Christie Collins conditions the winner, who has an enviable lifetime win rate of 28% (16-for-58) for owner Irwin Kaplan. In the $14,500 co-featured pace, Anthony Morgan left strongly for the lead with Machiavelli, but Tetrick moved favored Soto nearing the :27 quarter and hung up middle splits of :55.2 and 1:23.1. But again danger lurked to the chalk's left, and the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Machiavelli had enough rally to edge past Soto, also by a neck, also stopping the clock in 1:51.2. The winner of $191,260 has now taken half his last eight starts for trainer Nick Surick and Dynasty Racing. Friday's card at Harrah's Philadelphia will have a special nighttime post time of 6:30 p.m. Then on Sunday, the World's Fastest Trotter (1:48.4 at Lexington last year), Homicide Hunter, moves from the far outside post to the far inside starting slot in the $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) event for open trotters. On a cool and messy last Sunday night at Pocono. in his debut both for the year and for the Burke Brigade, Homicide Hunter suffered a bad trip and finished off the board; his fortunes may improve this week, although he will be facing Melady's Monet, a GNOS winner two weeks ago here, and Muscle Diamond, who took a mark of 1:50.1 last year and makes his 2019 bow Sunday.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Kaitlyn Rae broke into the win column for the first time this season as she was able to register a half length victory over Sentimental Lady in Buffalo Raceway's featured $8,400 Class B harness racing event for the distaff pacers. She covered the mile in 1:57.1 over the fast track.   After posting 14 victories and putting over $83,000 in the bank in 2018, it's been a tough go for Kaitlyn Rae to reach the winner's circle this year. She notch four second place finishes and a third in 13 tries during the drought but finally got that elusive first win on Wednesday night (May 15).   Cruising along in fourth place as Good Lookin Woman (Jim Morrill Jr.) put up fractions of :29.0, :59,1 and 1:27.4, Kaitlyn Rae (Ray Fisher Jr.) was first over and slowly cut into the lead.   Down the lane, Kaitlyn Rae ($3.30) was able to wear down the pace-setting Good Lookin Woman and hold back the late rushes of Sentimental Lady (Drew Monti) and Carrickmannon N (Kevin Cummings) who were second and third respectively.   Owned and trained by Riley Asher-Stalbaum, Kaitlyn Rae (Cheyenne Rei-I C U Lookin) is a 10-year-old mare that has now won $17,705 this season and $422,494 lifetime. It was also her 63rd career win.   Shawn McDonough completed the night with a driving/training double while Fisher Jr. collected two wins in the bike. Marc Shuttleworth had a pair of training victories.   Racing will continue on Friday night with an eight race card slated for 5 p.m. There's a $752 carryover in the Pick-5 which begins in the second race. There will be a 10-race program on Saturday with a special 7:15 p.m. post time in order to accommodate the running of the Preakness Stakes.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, entries, results, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek for Buffalo Raceway

When harness racing trainer John McDermott approached the owners of star-crossed male pacer Hurrikane Kingcole and mare Hurrikane Schmumma to float the idea of breeding them, Jonathan Klee was unsure what to think. “I remember telling John, I’m not a breeder, I’m a lawyer,” said Klee, who was among the owners of both horses. “However, we all believed in Kingcole and John can be convincing, so all the owners discussed it and we gave it a go.” It turned out to be a wise choice. The first mating of Hurrikane Kingcole to Hurrikane Schmumma in 2014 resulted in a filly, Hurrikane Empress, who won a New Jersey Sire Stakes championship and finished her career with $219,902 in purses. She is now in foal to Sweet Lou. The second mating resulted in a colt, Hurrikane Emperor, who last year at age 2 captured sire stakes titles in New Jersey and Kentucky and was named New Jersey’s Standardbred of the Year. He won seven of nine races and earned $226,900 under the tutelage of McDermott and his son John Jr. “Last year was a dream come true,” Klee said. “Unlike buying a horse at a sale or claiming a horse, when you own the sire, dam and foal it’s a different type of feeling. Emperor is like a child to all of us. We have known everything about him since birth.” Hurrikane Emperor begins his 2019 season Friday (May 17) in the first round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at The Meadowlands. His connections are hoping for not only success in state-bred stakes action this year but on the Grand Circuit as well. “If everything goes perfectly, we’ll go through the New Jersey Sire Stakes and use it as kind of a stepping-stone to the North America Cup,” said Jeff Kuhen, another of Hurrikane Emperor’s breeders/owners. “It’s been pretty great to see that Emperor is as good as Kingcole was, if not hopefully better. “He hasn’t done anything yet, knock on wood, to show us that he can’t go on any track and race any kind of style. That’s why I’m pretty excited to see what he can do this year.” Driven primarily by Dan Dube, the colt won from off the pace and from the front last year and impressed with his ability to relax at any point during a race. His fastest win time, 1:49.3 in his half-length triumph over Blood Money in the Kentucky Sire Stakes final at Red Mile, was tied for the fifth best of the season by a 2-year-old pacer. “He impresses me more every day I’m with him,” said McDermott, who also trained Hurrikane Kingcole and Hurrikane Schmumma. “His potential is endless. He’s got wicked speed like his father, but he’s the most intelligent and manageable horse I’ve ever been around. He’s so cool about things. “He didn’t get that from dad,” the trainer added with a laugh. “The thing people don’t know about his father was that his father was relaxed. The problem was that once you started him, you couldn’t stop him. Emperor can leave, sit, come back, do anything you want. That’s the beautiful thing about him.” Hurrikane Kingcole, speedy but rarely healthy, won 14 of 49 career races and equaled a world record in 2012 with a 1:48.1 mile at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. His career mark of 1:47.3 came in the consolation division of the Meadowlands Pace. He now performs stud duty in Australia. In addition to Klee and Kuhen, Hurrikane Emperor is owned by the third of the three breeders, Pegasis Investment Group, as well as William Garofalo. The colt is eligible to most of the major open stakes for 3-year-old male pacers including the North America Cup, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Meadowlands Pace, Adios, and Cane Pace. He is not eligible to the Breeders Crown. “We will give him every chance to prove how good he can be,” Klee said. “It will be a tribute to all of the little owners, breeders and farms who dream of breeding and racing a champion if Emperor can go out, compete, and win at the highest level.”   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Jovial Bill Milner of Kilmore is strictly a trainer only of square-gaiters these days - and loves every minute of it. "I'll have to be honest and say that a fair amount of patience is required with them at times, but I just keep poking along and mostly they are enjoyable," Milner said. And Bill's certainly enjoying a pleasant time in harness racing at the moment, with four-year-old Dellsun (Majestic Son-Auravale (Malhana Gindin USA) getting the job done in fine style. The gelding, nicely driven by master Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford, didn't put a foot wrong to take out the JDC Contractors Trotters Handicap at Shepparton last Tuesday night. Milner said the Shepparton circuit was quickly becoming one of his favorite tracks. "I seem to have a fair bit of success up there. Dellsun is an example because his previous victory was also at Shepparton a month ago," he said. "It's a nice easy drive from home so I'll keep racing there while our luck is in." Milner is hands-on with pretty much every aspect of the sport and does a great job with a small team. Not only does he breed all his stock, but breaks them in, does the farrier work and trains them. That virtually leaves only the driving side of it, but he says he's quite happy to watch from the other side of the fence. "I do enjoy the breaking-in part probably the most. There's a heap of satisfaction comes out of that and yes I suppose I do nearly everything myself," he said. "Over the many years I've been involved, I've learnt a hell of a lot from a great number of people. "I got started with Carl O'Dwyer when I was a teenager doing a farrier apprenticeship. Then later on when I was shoeing for greats like Vin Knight, Gordon Rothacker, Kevin Murray, Kevin Dixon and others, I would pick up more knowledge. "Early days another influential person was Frank Shinn. I remember we went off buying a horse each and mine was named Fair Baron. I was learning how to drive fastwork one day and nearly put Frank over the fence, which didn't go down all that well. "Fair Baron never won a race, but I'm certain the one Frank purchased turned out okay!" Milner now owns the property that belonged to Shinn. It's on nearly four acres and has a 400-metre track. He said he trained pacers years ago before changing his alliances to square gaiters. "Without doubt the best pacer I had would have been Vice Regal, who raced in the early 1990s," Milner said. Vice Regal (Vance Hanover USA-Pat Hanover NZ (Emory Hanover USA) finished his career with 14 wins and 24 placings for more than $74,000. After becoming a fully qualified farrier, Milner was employed by the Victoria Racing Club and worked at Seymour and Kilmore gallops meetings as well as some in Melbourne. "I used to help out with barrier duties as well and I'm still at it, nearly 50 years later," he said. Most of the Milner team go back to a daughter of Welcome Advice, Star Advice, a moderately performed race mare. However, in the breeding barn, she had six foals, including Auravale and Auravalley. Auravale, a five-race winner, had six foals with all winners, except one. Auravalley has produced three foals with the best being My Archie Way (4 wins) and Tetra (2 wins). Milner paid tribute to his success with his small team to supporter Kevin Dixon, "92 years young", who has held a licence for 76 years. "Kevin would only train two at a time back in the day, but he was very good at it. When the old Melbourne Showgrounds closed, he moved to Kilmore on a small acreage and he lives about five minutes from me," Milner said. "He has taught me a lot. He calls into my stables regularly and still attends all the meetings with me - he's a great mate."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ben Aubron is an integral part of the powerful Yabby Dam Racing operation in Cardigan, where the Frenchman plays a key role in the education of the yard's "babies" at the state-of-the-art stable and stud complex. And the 27-year-old was able to celebrate an extra special success on Saturday night when the one horse trained under his name saluted in the Club Menangle NSW Trotters Derby (2400m), when Xebec captured Group 2 glory at just his seventh run for Aubron. "To win a race like that ... we worked so hard to do this. We wake up in the morning dreaming about this, to win some big race like this," he said. "I think I've got a really nice horse." Picture: Ben Aubron salutes as Xebec claims Group 2 glory. Picture: Ashlea Brennan Photography. A far-reaching combination of nationalities helped achieve the triumph, with New Zealander Jack MacKinnon at the controls for the French trainer. MacKinnon settled Xebec back in the field for much of the trip and then capitalised on the early speed to run down front-runner and Yabby Dam rival All Cashed Up. In the end, Xebec raced clear to score by more than seven metres, with the Orlando Vici gelding rocketing home to pip All Cashed Up for second.  The win - at the bolter's price of $31 - came on the back of his maiden victory at Maryborough just a fortnight earlier. Xebec has now won two and placed in another two of his 10 career outings, the first three of which were for Yabby Dam's head trainer Anton Golino. Aubron said the plan was to now send the horse back to Menangle on May 25 for another Group 2, the Trots NSW 3YO Final. It's a further sign of doors opening for Aubron, who arrived in Australia close to five years ago primarily as a monte rider and joined Yabby Dam Racing after an initial stint with Craig Demmler. "It's really different from back home, the racing, but it's a really good country and good people," he said.   Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

Harness Racing This Week: Graduate Series Trot first leg, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J., and Art Rooney and Lismore eliminations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action takes place this Saturday (May 18) at Meadowlands Racetrack with a pair of $50,000 divisions in the first leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old open trotters. Also on Saturday, Yonkers Raceway will host two $40,000 eliminations in the Art Rooney for 3-year-old open pacers and two $20,000 eliminations in the Lismore for 3-year-old pacing fillies. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last Time: This past Saturday night (May 11), Yonkers Raceway featured the $92,100 W.N. Reynolds Pace, which offered two divisions each for the 3-year-old girls and boys. A gingerly-handled Queen Of The Pride (Jordan Stratton, $2.30) was as advertised in her $22,050 event, winning by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:54. The daughter of McArdle, owned by Frank Chick and trained by Kevin Lare, is now four-for-five this season. As Time Goes By (Stratton, $13) went by tiring odds-on favorite Art Lecture (George Brennan) in a life-best 1:54.3, winning her $21,550 event. The Captaintreacherous miss is trained by Julie Miller for co-owners Willow Oak Ranch and Andy Miller Stable. The colt and gelding groupings, each worth $24,250, were won by Wager On Me (by Bettor's Delight) for co-owners George and Tina Dennis Racing and North State Street Stable, trainer Joe Columbo and driver Jason Bartlett in 1:54.2 and American Admiral (by American Ideal) for co-owners William, Ian and James Fleming, trainer Andrew Harris and driver Jim Marohn Jr. in 1:54.3. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 178; 2. Jason Bartlett - 117; 3. George Brennan - 100; 4t. Daniel Dube - 92; 4t. Jordan Stratton - 92. Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. - 142; 2. Ron Burke - 83; 3. Rene Allard - 77; 4. Richard Banca - 61; 5. Andrew Harris - 54. Owners: 1. Jo Ann Looney-King - 51.7; 2. Tim Tetrick LLC - 48.2; 3. Richard Poillucci - 41.7; 4. Brad Grant - 41; 5. D R Van Witzenburg - 40. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park (first leg of the Miss Versatility for trotting mares); The Meadows (Currier & Ives for 3-year-old trotters); Yonkers Raceway (Art Rooney and Lismore finals for 3-year-old pacers); and Harrah's Philadelphia (Maxie Lee Memorial for open trotters, Betsy Ross for pacing mares and Commodore Barry for open pacers). Paul Ramlow  

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, May 14, 2019-New York Sire Stakes continued downstate Tuesday night (May 14th), with Yonkers Raceway hosting the soggy $170,500 Art Watson Pace for 3-year-old fillies. Two consecutively-contested divisions, at $85,250 each, comprised the event. Odd-on Zero Tolerance (Dave Miller, $2.40) widened in the first division. From post position No. 4, she crawled to the half (:28.2, :59.2), then rebuffed a hard challenge from Meghan Lynn (Joe Bongiorno), then finished it off (1:27.1, 1:55.2). Zero Tolerance whipped a loosely-pocketed So Awesome (Tim Tetrick) by 2½ lengths, with DD Delicious (Matt Kakaley) third and Crazy Cute (catch-driver Scott Zeron) fourth. For Zero Tolerance, a daughter of Heston Blue Chip co-owned by Val D'or Farms & Ted Gewertz and trained by Joe Holloway, it was her first win in two seasonal starts (7-for-13, $485,813 as 2-year-old). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $4.80, the triple returned $32.80 and the superfecta paid $177.50. "She was good and strong. I liked the way she raced," Miller said. The second/final sire stakes event saw a perfectly-towed Brooklyn Lilacs (Bongiorno, $65) edge past the lass who took her into the fray, Hurrikane Norakane (Dan Dube). The latter went up and over just-over-even-money choice JK American Beauty (Zeron) after the one led through intervals of :28.2, :57.4 and 1:26.2. When the leader tired (to fifth), she trapped last season's frosh champ, Money Shot Hanover (Tetrick), in behind. Hurrikane Norakane grabbed a short lead off the final turn, but 'Lilacs'-from post No.. 4-was ready for her close-up. Brooklyn Lilacs went by late, the margin a neck in a life-best 1:55.2. Heaven's Challenge (Miller) closed for third-over to grab third, with 'Money Shot' settling for fourth. Brooklyn Lilacs                                   --Mike Lizzi photo For sixth choice Brooklyn Lilacs, a homebred Rock N Roll Heaven miss owned by Crawford Farms and trained by Jennifer Bongiorno, it was her first win in three '19 tries (1-for-7, $60,660 as 2-year-old). The exacta paid $466, the triple returned $4,466 and the superfecta paid $7,127. "She's a nice filly and I think she's going to get better every start," driver Bongiorno said. New York Sire Stakes returns downstate Thursday night (June 20th), with the Jim Meagher Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Total purses for the 2019 New York-bred program are estimated at $14 million. For more information, please visit www.nysirestakes.com.   Frank Drucker Director of Publicity

WILKES-BARRE PA - Rockstar Angel A, coming off a wire-to-wire win at Yonkers this past Friday, came right back to win again on Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, moving to the lead in front of the stands and going on to a 1:54 triumph over a "sloppy" surface. Driver George Napolitano Jr. watched as Keystone Riptide put Betterb Chevron N behind her to the:27 quarter, then was on the move with the "Angel" to get the lead well before the :55.4 half. The winning daughter of Bettor's Delight, who kept her place in the race because of the "eligible at time of entry" rule, got a bit of a breather though going against the wind to the 1:25.1 three-quarters, then sprinted home over the off going in :28.4 (co-fastest last quarter of the night) to have a length advantage at the wire over a closing Bettor's Up, with early combatants Keystone Riptide and Betterb Chevron N another length back in third in a dead-heat. (This was the third consecutive race where there was a dead heat, the previous ones coming for second and fourth.) Rockstar Angel A notched her third victory in her last five starts after triumphing eleven times in 2018, and now has earnings of $345,122. Hunter Oakes conditions the oft-winning mare for Northfork Racing Stable. The Sportswriter mare Write Me A Song was a dominant winner for the second straight time at Pocono, taking the $17,500 co-featured distaff pace in 1:54.2 in the start following her posting the fastest clocking of the year here for mares, 1:50.1. Tyler Buter, a four-time winner on the night, employed similar strategy here as did "George Nap" in winning the feature with Rockstar Angel A: let the other duelers settle, brush to the lead in front of the grandstand, and then maintain control to the wire. Write Me A Song won by 3¼ lengths while running her career record to 13 victories in only 28 starts and $252,527; Lance Hudson conditions the sharp mare for owner William Hartt. The next card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be on Saturday night, with the 2019 debut of Captain Crunch, last year's divisional champion, in one of three divisions of a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts. First race on Saturday at Pocono will be at approximately 7:30 p.m., as soon as the festivities are finished at The Preakness.   PHHA / Pocono

Much of the racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past week took place under less-than-ideal weather conditions, thanks to an unusually cold and rainy stretch of weather from Sunday to Tuesday. That didn't dampen enthusiasm in the least for one of the most exciting weeks of racing we've witnessed this year, as the harness racing action was spiced up with the Great Northeast Open Series and Pennsylvania All-Stars races for three-year-old colts and geldings pacers. Let's take a look at the best of the best as we check out the Weekly Awards.   PACER OF THE WEEK: TEQUILA MONDAY What a year it has been for this five-year-old mare from the Hunter Oakes barn. Tequila Monday came into the $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series race on Sunday night for pacing mares with wins in all five of her races in 2019. Included in those victories was a condition win at Pocono back on April 16. In her previous race, she captured the first leg of the GNO Series with a powerful late move from the pocket at Harrah's at Philadelphia in 1:51.   On Sunday night, she was made the 4-5 betting favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven. And a powerful field it was, including Bettor Joy N, who was hungry for action after a controversial scratch in Ohio, and Percy Blue Chip, Breeders Crown champ at Pocono in 2018. Bettor Joy N hustled past Tequila Monday for the lead on the first turn, and matters looked a little concerning for Tequila Monday when Bettor Joy N was able to get away with relatively soft fractions on the front end.   In the stretch, Tequila Monday had her chance to take on the leader when the passing lane opened up. With Tyler Buter guiding her home, she absolutely exploded past Bettor Joy N, blowing by with ease to win it by 1 ¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:52:1 was impressive considering that the track was slowed by the sloppy conditions. Now 6 for 6 on the year and already having beaten many of the top competitors in her age group, Tequila Monday seems poised for a legendary season.   Other top pacers this week include: Nine Ways (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), whose third straight condition win on Saturday night came in 1:50, a new career-best and tied for fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in condition to win his second straight on Saturday night, getting it done in 1:50:2; and JM's Delight (Greg Merton driver and trainer), who won his second condition pace in his last three at Pocono with a victory in the slop on Sunday night in 1:54.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GUARDIAN ANGEL AS As was the case with the mares, the field for the #30,000 Great Northeast Open Series for trotters on Sunday night was stacked. Homicide Hunter, defending Breeders Crown champ, was making his first start of the year and his debut for the Ron Burke barn. JL Cruze joined Homicide Hunter as one of two million-dollar earners in the field. La Grange A was coming off back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands, while Pappy Go Go had earlier in the season posted the fastest trotting time in the Pocono meet with a 1:52. But it was Guardian Angle AS, leaving from the #5 post in a field of eight, who was made the 3-5 betting favorite. The 5-year-old stallion was coming off a 2018 which saw him earn a robust $243,966. His first start of 2019 was only a fourth-place finish, but considering it came against brutal competition at The Meadowlands and that he had to deal with a second-tier post, it wasn't bad at all. On Sunday night, he made a quick move to the lead on the front stretch with Tim Tetrick in the bike. On the back stretch, La Grange A came flying at the leader first-over. But Guardian Angel AS, trained by Anette Lorentzon, calmly rebuffed that challenge. In the stretch, he effortlessly opened up the lead and ended up coming home a winner by 3 ¾ lengths over La Grange As, with most of the rest of the field was well back. The winner trotted the mile in 1:53:1 in the slop, making it all look ridiculously easy despite the high caliber of the field. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mass Production (Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron), who managed to match a career-best time of 1:54:4 in a condition win on Sunday night despite the sloppy conditions; Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory driver and trainer), who followed up a condition win at Harrah's with one at Pocono on Sunday night in the slop with a time of 1:54:1; and Sylvesterameicait (Anthony Napolitano, Bob Baggitt Jr.), whose win in a condition on Monday on a sloppy track in 1:55:4 was the fastest trot of the day by almost four seconds.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RED MAPLE LANE Under the guidance of driver Matt Romano, this trotter led every step of the way in a condition on Tuesday afternoon at 31-1, paying off $64.80 on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR George Nap just keeps plowing through the competition, extending his lead in the Pocono driving colony with another big week that was highlighted by five wins on Saturday night.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANTONIA STORER Storer has been winning at an impressive rate with limited starters at Pocono, as evidenced by a training double on Saturday night with Nine Ways and Rock The Town.   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.   Jim Beviglia

May 14, 2019 - Calaska de Guez (7f Pomerol de Laumac-Miss de Guez) took Tuesday’s Quinte+ that was the Prix de Saint  Pourcain sur Sroule (purse 31,000€, 2950 meters distance handicap,  18 European starters) held at Vichy. This Jean Michel Bazire harness racing trainee was teamed with Nicolas Bazire (his first Q+ race victory) for the 1.14kr victory as they overcame a 25 meter handicap. Ecurie Vautors owns the winner that now has 16 career wins in 40 starts for 259,850€ earned. Calaska was off at 4.3/1 odds and she defeated 27/1 Clea Miquellerie (7f Nil du Rib) with Serge Peltier up and 11/1 Verika Dairpet (10f Ludo de Castelle) with Jean Bollereau aboard. 28/1 Botticino and 114/1 Bel Canto Joyeux completed the top five and set up a 289,793.00€ payoff for two holders of the Q+ exact order 2€ tickets. The Q+ pool this day was 3,024,091€ and the total handle on this race exceeded 6.6€ million. At Paris-Vincennes their Prix Lamberta (purse 45,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 13 starters) saw 3.1/1 Deesse de l’Oison (6f Kiwi-Punaise) score timed in a quick 1.11.1kr with Mathieu Mottier aboard for trainer Pascal Castel. Deesse de l’Oison                                      ---LeTrot photo   Thomas H. Hicks  

Belle Of Montana has been gifted the perfect opportunity to make the Filly of the Year a one-horse race.  Because if she win the $150,000 NZ Oaks at Addington on Friday night the title is certain to be hers and the barrier draws have put her in the box seat to do just that.  The flying Clevedon filly made it three group ones for her debut season when coming from the second line to win the Nevele R Final at Addington last Friday but it was a third victory of a different kind that might be just as important in the FOTY voting.  For the third time in as many meetings Belle Of Montana beat arch rival Princess Tiffany, who was only third and appeared to race at least a couple of lengths below her best.  Princess Tiffany had started favourite and her trainer Mark Purdon suspects the NSW Oaks winner may have suffering from tying up problems last Friday, although a blood test indicated she was not overly affected by a virus which has troubled much of his team.  Excuses aside, Belle Of Montana now has a 3-0 lead in the head-to-head battle with Princess Tiffany so the latter would need to win both the Oaks this Friday and the Jewels on June 1 to have much chance of turning voters back her way in what is one of the more valuable titles handed out at the annual harness racing awards.  The problem for Princess Tiffany is she has drawn the second line again whereas Belle Of Montana is drawn to start from barrier five and one of the likely early leaders is her own stablemate Havtime.  That and the respect Belle Of Montana has earned with her string of group one wins suggest she will have a healthy lead over Princess Tiffany in the first lap of Friday’s 2600m classic. And there is the possibility, backed up by the stats, that Belle Of Montana may simply be the better filly.  The market for the Oaks will open today but the pair share Jewels favouritism at $2 each, which may not change greatly until after the draws on Friday week.  That market split is almost mirrored by the two-year-old male pacers, where One Change is $2 and Smooth Deal $2.20 for the Jewels and they also go head to head this Friday night.  They have both drawn well on the front line so neither should have an excuse in the $170,000 Sires’ Stakes and after winning the Sales Series if One Change can down his stablemate again he also take a big lead in their category for the HOTY.  The Sires’s Stakes Trot for the juveniles, the three-year-old Sales Series Trot and an open class trot add some squaregaiting strength to the second-last premier meeting of the season.   Michael Guerin

Fans got their first look at Swedish-bred trotter Darling Mearas during Saturday's (May 11) qualifiers at The Meadowlands Racetrack, but they will have to wait a little longer than anticipated to see the 6-year-old mare in her first race in North America. Darling Mearas, who earned $750,199 in Europe and counted the 2016 Swedish Trotting Oaks and 2018 European Championship for harness racing mares among her wins, posted a 1:56.1 victory in her Big M qualifier for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. But Svanstedt was not completely happy with the performance, so he plans to delay Darling Mearas' debut, which was expected to come in Monday's (May 20) first round of the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "She trained back good but when she qualified, I was not a hundred percent satisfied with her," said Svanstedt, who took over the training of Darling Mearas following her arrival in the U.S. earlier this spring. "We're not going to race her yet. We're going to wait a couple of weeks. Her gait was not perfect in the last turn. She must feel a little bit better." Darling Mearas, a daughter of Cantab Hall out of the Muscles Yankee mare Khao Manee, won 12 of 29 races in Europe for trainer Stefan Persson and breeder-owner Snogarps GÃ¥rd, a farm run by the Wihlborg family. The family might be best known to North American racing fans as the owner of 2014 Breeders Crown champion Commander Crowe, who earned $5.09 million worldwide in his career. Calle Wihlborg told Sweden's Sulky Sport magazine the decision to send Darling Mearas to North America was made in part because she would have more opportunities to race in stakes events restricted to mares. Svanstedt was selected as the trainer because "purely historically, he has been very good at getting older horses to take another step." Darling Mearas is staked to a number of Grand Circuit events this season, including the Breeders Crown, Armbro Flight, Dr. John R. Steele Memorial, and the TVG Championship. "The plan is to race her here this summer and then breed her with a top stallion here in America next spring," Svanstedt said. "She is a good horse. She was one of the best mares and she was a good horse in the stakes races when she was young. She has a lot of power and she wants to do the job. She is always nice to drive and if you ask her, she does the job."   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

WILKES-BARRE PA - 2018 Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year Captain Crunch makes his 2019 harness racing debut in the middle of three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes second preliminary for the glamour division, to be held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night in races nine through eleven - and he couldn't have found a more challenging spot in which to open his season. Captain Crunch, a Captaintreacherous colt trained by Nancy Johansson for the 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, the Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms, won six of ten starts, including the Breeders Crown here at Pocono and the Governor's Cup, en route to divisional honors while winning the most money among baby colts, $616,113, and coming within a fifth of his division's world record by winning in 1:49.1 at Lexington. Prepping for 2019, Captain Crunch has qualifying wins in 1:50.1 and 1:51.2 (the latter on a "good +1" track). The draw was kind to Captain Crunch in one respect, as Scott Zeron will be guiding him from post three in the field of nine (all three divisions have nine starters). But the draw also gave Captain Crunch a real challenge, in that many of the section's top colts, at both two and three, will be lining up against him Sunday. One example would be Proof (post eight, trainer Brian Brown, driver David Miller), second behind Captain Crunch in last year's Breeders Crown, the 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, and a good second at The Meadows in the Sire Stakes' opening leg in his first start of the year; also in this cut is the horse who conquered Proof in that event in 1:50.4, Southwind Ozzi (post one, trainer Bill MacKenzie, one of four "calls" for driver Tim Tetrick). There's Lyons Night Hawk (post five, trainer Gareth Dowse, Tetrick also listed), who was just edged in 1:50.1 in a PA All-Stars event in his seasonal bow, and Prince Of Tides (post two, trainer Ross Croghan, driver Eric Carlson), 1:49.4 winner of the Wiggle It Jiggleit final at The Meadowlands. But not all of the good horses will be facing Captain Crunch. In the eleventh race third division, two Sire Stakes winners at The Meadows will attract a good deal of attention: Workin On A Mystery (post two, trainer Brian Brown, driver Tim Tetrick), who won the fastest Sires section in 1:50.1, and Love Me Some Lou, undefeated in two starts this year and a 1:50.4 Sires winner, who will have to negotiate the difficult post eight for trainer Tom Cancelliere and driver David Miller. While the ninth race first division may not have horses who have some of the paper credentials of the other two divisions, it has some nice developing horses of its own, including Major Deception (post one, trainer Tony Alagna, driver Tim Tetrick), the easiest kind of winner at Philly over sloppy going in his 2019 return; Wild Wild Western (post two, trainer Norm Parker, driver Mike Wilder), who was second to Workin On A Mystery in the fastest PaSS division at The Meadows; and 2018 PA Fairs champion Aflame Hanover (post eight, trainer Linda Schadel, driver Tony Schadel), who has shown that he can be competitive with the most select of the state's three-year-olds. There will also be four Pennsylvania Stallion Series divisions at Pocono Sunday, including first round StS winners Captain Koine, Skip To My Lou, and Under Paid, plus Captain Panko, the 2018 Stallion Series champion who will be making his 2019 debut. First post for Sunday's 14 race card is set for 7 p.m.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

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