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WILKES-BARRE PA – Over a surface that had improved from “sloppy” to “good” to “fast” by the time the $14,000 featured mares pace took to the track on the Sunday twilight harness racing card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Baron Remy showed no rust after 3½ months away from the races, going on to a 1:51.2 victory. Andrew McCarthy made a three-wide move late on the backstretch with the Yankee Cruiser mare to gain contention after a fast pace, and Baron Remy was more than equal to the challenge, getting to two-wide on the turn and then proving her superiority late. The Ron Burke trainee, owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr (who had his namesake horse win at Philly earlier in the day), now sports earnings of $629,122. A couple of three-year-olds marked themselves as ones to watch while the track was still “sloppy.” Right now the Captaintreacherous filly Party Girl Hill must be thought of as “ceiling unlimited,” as after coming home in :53.2 and :53.1 in Meadowlands qualifiers and then winning her purse bow in 1:50.2 - :52.4 - :26, Party Girl Hill was sent to Pocono by trainer Chris Ryder and handled the stepup from “nw1” to “nw4” with aplomb, dominating her field in 1:52.4. Jim Morrill Jr. guided the developing miss to an easy victory for owner Tom Hill. The Yankee Glide colt Hell Patrol seems to be finding top form at a good time, as he was guided to the top by Mattias Melander and rattled down the road in a 1:55.1 mile. Yet another in the seemingly-endless line of quality diamondgaiters from the barn of Marcus Melander, Hell Patrol is owned by Courant Inc.   PHHA / Pocono

CHESTER PA – Trainer Tom Fanning, driver Tim Tetrick, and owner Joseph Smith combined to win the two fast-class harness racing events during the “Trottin’ Thursday” card at Harrah’s Philadelphia, while a few younger horses showed themselves ready for stakes action with convincing victories. The top purse event was a $14,400 event taken by the Cantab Hall gelding Mississippi Storm, whom Tetrick put on the lead at the quarter and went on to a handy 1:54 victory, with Morairtime second and favored Trolley third behind the victorious winner of $315,724 for Fanning and Smith. In the co-feature, the engine also provided the path to success for the Trixton gelding No Drama Please, who came in for some drama at the three-quarter pole when Perfect Stick made a big uncovered move to draw even, but the pacesetter shook off that one’s challenge to take a new mark of 1:53.2 and boost his bankroll to $242,676 for Team Fanning/Tetrick/Smith. In a showdown between two quality three-year-old trotters, the filly Shishito made her first start of the year a winning one, heading right to the lead and holding off the outside challenge of the colt Capricornus in 1:53.3. The earner of $246,912 was driven by Dexter Dunn for trainer Per Engblom and the ownership of Black Horse Racing and John Fielding. Another sophomore trotting filly making a winning bow in 2020 was the Sebastian K S miss Next Level Stuff, who tucked early, followed up second-over, then had strong trot in the stretch to stop the timer in 1:54.2 while raising her earnings to $172,255. Tim Tetrick had the winning steer for trainer Jim Campbell and the Runthetable Stables. The two-year-old pacing fillies made their pari-mutuel bows, and the Roll With Joe – Lorrie Please baby Easy To Please certainly stamped her name in many observer’s memory, holding off the impeccably-bred (Always B Miki – JK She’salady) JK Alwaysbalady easily. The real eye-opener was the timer – after Easy To Please made the lead and strolled to the half in :59.3, she then blitzed home in :54.4 - :27.1 – in her first purse start – to complete a 1:54.2 package. Allan Davis drove the fast filly for trainer Michael Hall, also co-owner with the CTC Stable and the Our Three Sons Stable LLC.   Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The first pari-mutuel racing card in the "second part" of the season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will take place this Saturday afternoon, with the first of fourteen races to be going postward at 12:30 p.m. (Pocono comes back with racing on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday at 12:30, with the Sunday card beginning at 7.) Top event scheduled on the return card is a $17,200 contest for fast-class pacers, with the millionaire Rockin Ron drawing the rail in the field of seven. The Ron Burke trainee, who has amassed $1,660,449 so far in his harness racing career, gets a bit of relief in company here after running into a 1:49 mile by Bechers Brook A while finishing fifth, timed in 1:49.4, in his first post-pandemic outing. Bakersfield, who himself has a bankroll in excess of $400,000 and a 1:49.1 lifetime mark at Philly, deserves a look from bettors if for no other reason than his trainer, Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, sent out five winners from ten starters during the first set of Pocono qualifiers last Saturday, with Bakersfield winning handily in 1:55.2. Tyler Buter, who won the last pre-shutdown race at The Downs on March 9, has a chance to complete a "102-day consecutive driving double" with McBoogitty in the day's first race - this pacer shows two seconds and a third in his last three starts against similar company, but he has not raced since the last weekend here before the hiatus. In the second half of the double, much respect will go to Cattlewash, another Burke trainee, who will be making his sophomore debut after winning in excess of $300,000 as a baby and taking a mark of 1:50.3 at Lexington. Cattlewash will need to come back sharp to overcome the outermost draw in a field of nine talented youngsters. On the trotting side, Lindsey's Pride may be the horse to beat in an $11,200 contest after opening his 2020 account with two straight 1:55 qualifying wins at Wingate Farms Spa, an eastcentral Pennsylvania training facility which has raced qualifying events the last two Mondays for its local horsemen's colony. 100 miles to the south of Pocono, Harrah's Philadelphia will tomorrow be conducting the draw for its first racecard of the year, which will take place on Sunday afternoon (Philly will race Wednesday through Friday and Sunday at 12:40). Both Pocono and Harrah's will be holding qualifying action tomorrow morning to help ensure the trotters and pacers can be primed as they start or restart their regular racing schedule.   Jerry Connors

HARRISBURG PA - Roger Huston, the Communicators Hall of Fame member who ended a 44-year announcing career at The Meadows racetrack last November but continues harness racing involvement in his native state of Ohio, has been voted the highest honor annually given by the Keystone Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the Mary Lib Miller Award, named for the lifelong helpmate of "Mr. Harness Racing," Delvin Miller, founder of The Meadows - a couple Roger knew quite well. Huston got his start in broadcasting at a radio station in his native Xenia OH; his uncle Don was the announcer at Lebanon Raceway and some nearby fairs, which became Roger's introduction to going behind the microphone in the sport. Besides announcing at The Meadows, Roger will in 2020 calling at Delaware OH at the Little Brown Jug for the 53rd straight year, and he has been the announcer at several western Pennsylvania fairs. Besides his new role as "brand ambassador" for the Ohio horsemen's association, Huston continues to serve as a Director of USHWA for the Keystone Chapter (for whom he served as founding president), and he was the Director with the most years of USHWA membership (52) at the association's Florida annual meetings in February. About the only harness racing "force" that has been going longer than Roger is Hanover Shoe Farms, which again was voted Pennsylvania Breeder of the Year. The Shoe Farms has been the sport's leading breeder every year since records started to be kept in 1948, and while recording their 72nd straight win they established a single-season high for the winnings of their produce, $34.0M. Another repeat winner is George Napolitano Jr., who was voted his second straight Pennsylvania Driver of the Year award and fourth in the twelve years the award has been given. Napolitano, who recorded his 10,000th career victory at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on October 12, won 638 Pennsylvania races between The Downs (337), where he was the top sulkywinner for the eighth straight year, and Harrah's Philadelphia (301). "George Nap" was third in all of North America last year with 651 driving wins. Kim Hankins, the longtime executive director of the Meadows Standardbred Association and one of the most well-rounded and well-respected individuals in harness racing, was named a Friend of Pennsylvania Harness Racing for his leadership of his horsemen's group in such diverse areas as racetrack negotiations, marketing, and intrastate partnerships and communications. A longtime top horseman in Illinois for many years, Hankins is currently 1st Vice President of Harness Horsemen International, and served for many years on the board of directors of the U.S. Trotting Association. Two smaller stables raised their profiles in 2019 to a degree that they were voted awards by Keystone USHWA. Longtime Meadows horseman Bill Bercury, campaigning a five-horse stable most of the year, saw his barn earn over $590,000 for the sixth straight year (with only 123 starts), and he posted the #1 trainers percentage in North America for those with fewer than 300 starts, a .580 "batting average." The constant sharpness and success shown by his stable earned Bercury Pennsylvania Trainer of the Year honors. Bob Rougeaux III campaigns the horses of the Brocious Racing Stable of the late Harold "Lefty" Brocious, and the "Rocky Top" stable, as they style themselves, sent out four of the eight blanketwinners at the Pennsylvania Fair Banquet for having amassed the most points in their respective divisions during the twenty-stop fair season in the Keystone state. As with Bercury, "quality" trumped "quality" here, and the Rougeaux/Brocious "team" were named the Small Stable of the Year in Pennsylvania. Missy Rothfuss, the outrider at The Meadows, is this year's recipient of the Keystone Unsung Hero Award. Rothfuss started her career while a senior in high school and has been at The Meadows 24 years. She is the first responder when accidents happen on the racetrack, often anticipating problems and arriving before anyone else at the site of trouble, and because of her record is well-respected by Meadows horsemen. Between races Missy is meeting fans, letting them pet her equine partner, and educating them about harness racing. She has ridden in Breeders Crown events and also is the head outrider at The Little Brown Jug in Delaware, OH. And after many years toiling in semi-anonymity, Missy is not only receiving this award but was also recently featured in Vicki Howard's "Superstar Females of Harness Racing" column in the online journal Harness Racing Update. The now-11-year-old pacer Atta Boy Dan started his season in the western part of the state, but the record he put up while operating at Pocono was the major contributor to his being named Pennsylvania Horse of the Year, for horses making over half their starts within the borders of Pennsylvania. The winner of over $900,000 lifetime won 19 times (earning over $200,000) during 2019, the most victories of any horse in the United States, and he set an unofficial record by being claimed in fourteen consecutive starts. The state writers initiated a Keystone Chapter Member of the Year this past season to recognize outstanding efforts made by those within their ranks, and in this inaugural season a recognition will be given to a member in both the western and the eastern parts of the state. Chris Gooden, who has been a Smallsreed Photo awardwinner in the national competition for the last two years, was selected as the top Keystoner from the west; on the eastern side, the honors went to Jennifer Starr, the multitalented and tireless Racing Marketing Manager at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Ordinarily, the Keystone USHWA awardwinners would have had a moment in the spotlight as they received their awards in a trackside ceremony. But with the coronavirus throwing unprecedented uncertainty into everyone's schedules, it was thought to send the recipients their trophies through delivery, before the shine of their 2019 accomplishments became too faded by time. Jerry Connors

Hall of Fame Communicator Jerry Connors wrote this story for Harness Racing Update from a North American's view on handicapping and wagering on Australian racing. As we continue without any pari-mutuel harness racing on which to bet in North America, wagering services, through computer or phone, do continue to offer up some harness action – although “the rules” are a good deal different than what we are used to in the already-challenging North American game. I have my betting service through Penn National, as in Pennsylvania we were (at least at the time) supposed to sign up with the most local service provided. And through Penn National, I have been able to see some Australian harness racing cards, and I have sought to try to come to an understanding of their racing and their fields before the races go – trying to keep sharp my handicapping skills (betting we’ll talk about at the end). So here is a primer on what I have learned about the process of deciphering the form of Australian harness racing. 1. What we see in North America is Australia’s daytime cards. The east coast of Australia is 14 hours “ahead” of East Coast time, meaning that if their races are to start at 10 p.m. here, it’s already noon the next day Down Under. Thus, we see the daytime cards. If they were sending nighttime cards that started at say 7:30 p.m., they would be starting at 5:30 a.m. here, and with all due respects to followers of South African racing, that’s just not prime time for western hemisphere bettors. 2. The schedule of races for the entire country, and all kinds of handicapping information, is available at www.harness.org.au. This site is the equivalent of the USTA and Standardbred Canada main sites. You click on “Racing” then “Form Guides,” their term for what we would call program pages, and then click on the track you’re interested in. You can print out the program pages/Form Guides for the card (they call a day of racing a “meeting”) or for certain races. We’ll explain how to read the Form Guide – the most important part of handicapping – later on. To read the rest of the story, click here. 

BEDFORD, PA - Following the afternoon annual meeting of District 7 (Pennsylvania), the Bedford Springs Omni Resort in this southwestern Pennsylvania city hosted the annual Pennsylvania Fair Banquet, co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, the U.S. Trotting Association, and the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horseman's Association. New to the Fair Banquet this year was a 24-page souvenir program, put together by the Keystone Chapter of the U. S. Harness Writers Association as both a fundraiser for their own activities and a keepsake for all the people associated with the horses who were the stars of the 2019 Pennsylvania fair circuit. Harrah's Philadelphia announcer Mike Bozich served as master of ceremonies for the evening. The first group to be in the spotlight were the connections of the top pointwinners along the Pennsylvania fair circuit, who received a blanket in their stable colors: 2YO TROTTING MALE - PENANCE (g, Father Patrick - Yankee Etta), trained by Bob Rougeaux III for Brocious Racing Stable Inc. (winningest horse at the fairs with nine triumphs.) 2YO TROTTING FEMALE - LINDY PRETTY LADY (Explosive Matter - Dreamgirl Lindy), trained by Bob Rougeaux III for Brocious Racing Stable Inc. (#1 pointwinner among all fair contestants.) 2YO PACING MALE - LIFE'S MARVALOUS (g, Delmarvalous - Life'sarealbeach), trained and owned by Roger Hammer (#1 pointwinner among all males.) 2YO PACING FEMALE - RT DON'T SPEAK (Artspeak - Carousel Frame), trained by Bob Rougeaux III for Brocious Racing Stable Inc. 3YO TROTTING MALE - ANDOVERS ASSET (g, Andover Hall - Lively), trained by Linda Schadel and owned by Linda and Tony Schadel. 3YO TROTTING FEMALE - RT GLORIA DE DIOS (Muscle Massive - RT Sun Poco), trained by Bob Rougeaux III for Brocious Racing Stable Inc. 3YO PACING MALE - STRANGER THINGS (g, Western Terror - Southwind Prairie), trained by Steve Schoeffel for owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther. 3YO PACING FEMALE - CREW SOCK HANOVER (Well Said - Chantal Hanover), trained by David Brickell and owned by David Brickell and Mitchell York (#1 pointwinner among all three-year-olds in 2019). Then the team behind the winner of their Fair Sire Stakes Championships at The Meadows in October each received a warm jacket courtesy of MH Eby Inc.: 2YO TROTTING MALE - STICKLER HANOVER (c, Explosive Matter - Secret Credit), trained by Steve Schoeffel for owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel, Daniel Goethe, and Michael Munn. 2YO TROTTING FEMALE - BETTER SONG (Better Caviar - Jessie's Song), trained and co-owned by Rick Beinhauer with Regina Beinhauer (set stake record of 1:57.2). 2YO PACING MALE - CHAMP CHARBEL (c, Ponder - Odds On Affair), trained and owned by Joseph Karrat. 2YO PACING FEMALE - DEAD HEAT (1st DEAD HEAT TO WIN IN A PA FAIR CHAMPIONSHIP): --DREAM DANCING (A Rocknroll Dance - Clearly Foxy), trained and co-owned by David Brickell with Mitchell York; and --SILLY BUT SERIOUS (Captaintreacherous - I Need Hotstuff), trained and co-owned by Gary Johnston with Joyce Benkart. 3YO TROTTING MALE - ANDOVERS ASSET (g, Andover Hall - Lively), trained and co-owned by Linda Schadel with Tony Schadel (tied all-time Fair Championship trot record and stake record of 1:56; only pointleader to win Championship). 3YO TROTTING FEMALE - MISTY LANE (Muscle Massive - Dundee Lane), trained and co-owned by David Brickell with Mitchell York. 3YO PACING MALE - UNDER PAID (c, A Rocknroll Dance - Upfront Cruisin), trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Lawrence Karr, and Phillip Collura (set stake record of 1:52, fastest Fair Championship ever by 3YO). 3YO PACING FEMALE - APRIL AVA (Delmarvalous - Jeneva), trained by Scott Betts for Nicholas Catalano and Timothy Betts. Mitchell York, a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who began his sulky career in June and within two weeks of his first drive set the all-time track standard at Butler (Crew Sock Hanover, 2:00.1), was honored as "Rookie of the Year" after finishing in the Top Ten in the fair dash standings with 15 triumphs. The drawings for equipment and other prizes generously donated by a host of PA fair supporters again allowed the average $40 dinner ticketbuyer to emerge with a profit on the evening, such were the value of the drawing prizes. The grand prize winner, a Spyder race bike, was Tom Loughryof the Bob Rougeaux stable. by Jerry Connors, Jr., for the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes quFair Circuit

BEDFORD, PA - The annual meeting of District 7 (Pennsylvania) of the United States Trotting Association was held Saturday afternoon at the Bedford Springs Omni Resort in this southwest Pennsylvania city. Sam Beegle, Chairman of District 7, presided over the meeting; also in attendance were District 7 Directors Rich Gillock and Tom Leasure. It was announced that Mark Loewe would be taking Mr. Leasure's place on the USTA national Board of Directors at the annual March meetings in Ohio. Fred Strathmeyer, Deputy Secretary of the PA State Department of Agriculture, attended the meeting, as did Anthony Salerno, Bureau Director, Standardbred Racing, of the PA Horse Racing Commission. USTA Director Barry Brown, Kim Hankins and Mike Harant, the Executive Directors of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, respectively, were also present; those associations' presidents are respectively Gillock and Beegle. After the Pledge of Allegiance, the USTA rule change proposals were discussed among the 41 attendees, so that the Directors could represent their wishes at the upcoming national Board of Directors meeting. Below is how the District 7 members voted: 1. Eliminate heat racing - REJECTED 2. "Ext. p/m meet" now defined as 6+ days - REJECTED 3. Prohibit "gene doping" - ACCEPTED 4. Pylon physical requirements - REJECTED 5. Standardized saddle pads - REJECTED 6. Define "proper racetrack action maintenance" at ext. p/m tracks - REJECTED 7. Claiming price after horse claimed - REJECTED 8. Purse distribution after interference - REJECTED 9. Post position conditioned by money won - REJECTED 10. Starting "pole" at starting point - REJECTED 11. Adjusting date in qualifying rule - ACCEPTED 12. Location of "fair start" pole - REJECTED 13-14. Definition of "amateur driver" - TABLED 15. Requirements for training license - ACCEPTED 16. Require "P" drivers to register colors - ACCEPTED 17. Restructuring of "whipping rule" - REJECTED 18. Mandatory notification for new geldings/spayed mares - First moved to TABLE, but that motion failed for lack of a second; then REJECTED 19. Track measurement rule - REJECTED 20. Percentage of ownership to be noted - REJECTED 21. Allowing embryo transfer donor mares to register two foals per year - REJECTED 22. Clarification of term "Standardbred" - ACCEPTED 23. Clarification of term "non-standard" - ACCEPTED It was determined that the meeting attendees were satisfied with the system by which Pennsylvania fair entries are being taken. The matter of horses wearing / not wearing trotting hopples, and consistency of their usage, along with the responsibilities of various parties in ascertaining the situation, was also discussed. by Jerry Connors, for the PHHA

The main action during the two-day meet at St-Aimé-des-Lacs, Quebec on Saturday/Sunday came on the latter card, with the most spectacular event being the obliteration of the track trotting record, as 21st century-born Bermudian Kiwon Waldron guided Missionoftheheart, a five-year-old daughter of Manofmanymissions, to a 1:59.4 victory in the Invitational handicap trot.   The mare, who won by 18 lengths, knocked two seconds off the old SAdL standard of 2:01.4, set by Revonah Hanover in 2013.   Waldron, who was discovered racing ponies in his native land by vacationing members of Team Allard, won twice on the Sunday card, and now has a driving record of 10-7-2-0, which translates to a UDR of .811.   The $10,000Cl five-mile Casino Charlevoix event was won by Appleby Hanover and driver Dany Mainguy, completing a big day for trainer Michel Allard, who is also the trainer of Missionoftheheart.   Dany Mainguy and the six-year-old son of Well Said led the entire five-mile journey, drawing clear of Bet I Can Fly to win by 15 lengths in 11:31. It was a repeat victory for Appleby Hanover in the 5 Milles after being elevated to victory over a disqualified Montana Ben in last year's race.   by Jerry Connors, for the Quebec Fair Regional Circuit

BEDFORD PA -- The harness racing card scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Bedford (PA) Fair is now announced as cancelled due to the inclement weather in the area.   Earlier, Monday's program had been cancelled; with this announcement, the entirety of the short meet at Bedford has now been lost.   Racing on the Pennsylvania fair circuit is next scheduled for the Clearfield Fair, where a four-day meet is to begin this Sunday.     Jerry Connors Jr

CHESTER PA - In a stretch battle of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winners earlier this season, the filly Nomo Volo was up in the final stride over the colt Ginger Tree Skyr to take the $16,000 trotting harness racing feature at Harrah's Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon in 1:56.4. Trainer/driver Jeff Gregory got away in the middle of the field with the winning Explosive Matter sophomore as favored Navarone Hanover made the early lead, then moved outside nearing the half and got cover from Ginger Tree Skyr. That colt grinded and worked past the favored pacesetting filly in the lane, but then was nipped by the filly on his back in a very close picture. Nomo Volo, who has had breaking issues since winning a Sire Stakes event on May 26, used her best behavior and ability to raise her bankroll to $141,467 for Jeff Gregory Inc. and Jesmeral Stable. In a $14,500 event for fast-class pacers, the Dragon Again gelding Blake North quarter-moved to command, then came home in :55.3 to post a half-length victory in 1:51.3 for driver George Napolitano Jr., meet-leading trainer Gilbert Garcia-Owen, and owner Gilberto Garcia-Herrera. It was 51-1 shot Emeritus Maximus who shot out to early command, yielded to the odds-on winner, and made him work hard for the triumph; even with that longshot followed in order by 16-1 shot Hudsonandbernard and 12-1 Te Kawau N (second choice Jeneral Patton did get fifth), the winning 1-6-5-7-2 Jackpot Hi-5 ticket was played by multiple players, and so the jackpot carryover climbed to $42,387.03 for Thursday's racing. Tim Tetrick, newly named as a Hall Of Fame ballot candidate for this summer's voting, built onto his lead as the winningest driver at Harrah's Philadelphia, visiting Victory Lane six times on the Wednesday afternoon program.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - The Muscle Mass sophomore gelding Cavill Hanover came off the stakes trail and promptly wired his field in the $16,000 trotting feature in a career best 1:55 during the Wednesday afternoon harness racing program at Harrah's Philadelphia. Trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt never showed any intention than to race the three-year-old on the lead, and Cavill Hanover took the field through fractions of :27.4, :57.4, and 1:25.4. Favored Daylon Phantom came three-wide on the final turn and loomed menacingly, but Cavill Hanover had more than enough to turn back his late charge by 1 1/2 lengths. The Wolfgang A Stable Inc. and Boris Nasstrom share ownership in the winner with the Little E LLC of Jeff Gural, who earlier in the day was announced as being on the summer ballot for election to the Hall of Fame. In a $14,500 event for fast-class pacers, favored Ideal Wheel brushed to the lead after a :26.3 quarter, and before the :55.3 half he was challenged by Santiago Style, who was parked the mile. The two continued their fight past the 1:23.4 three-quarters and into the stretch, where it was the favorite who gave way - but Santiago Style had Western Hill on his back from the second turn, and it was that Western Ideal gelding who went by the gallant if unlucky Santiago Style late to win by ¾ of a length in 1:52.3. Corey Callahan guided the winner of two straight and $298,707 lifetime for trainer Ed Gannon Jr., also co-owner with Frank Canzone. Tim Tetrick, who literally minutes before the Early Double had his place on this summer's Hall of Fame balloting announced, then went out to sweep the Double with favorites Sweet Colt Of Mine and Turn The Paige. In all Tetrick, the leading dashwinning driver at Philly, had five victories; another came with the freshman Somebeachsomewhere - Fashion Ecstasy filly, Beyond Ecstasy, a full sister to Filibuster Hanover who won her purse bow in 1:55.3.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE PA - Six $30,000 divisions of Pennsylvania All-Stars stakes harness racing action for two-year-old trotting males were featured Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with enough pedigree and precociousness showing that fans of the mountain oval may have seen a starter or two in the 2020 Hambletonian, a race 13 months to the day in the future. Two of the winners set season's records in 1:55.2; the one with the more adventurous journey was the gelding Real Cool Sam, whose sire Muscle Hill had four stallion credits in the six All-Stars races and whose mother Cooler Schooner set a 1:51.3 world record here as a freshman. David Miller settled the winner, who won his purse bow in 1:56 at Philly, in fourth early as double purse winner and favored (both were 4-5 on the board) Paulie Walnuts went down the road in :28.1, :57.4, and 1:26.2, with the winner moving right to him approaching the three-quarters. Real Cool Sam was working by Paulie Walnuts late on the turn when he suddenly bore out three-wide nearing headstretch, where the Pocono paddock is located, and Paulie Walnuts found himself back on a clear lead. But Miller soon straightened out the Jim Campbell-trained freshman, and despite the detour "Sam" won in 1:55.2, within 2/5 of a second of the world record for the division (Correctamundo, Mississippi Storm, White Tiger) - on July 9 -- and a season's record for baby geldings on any size of track. Paulie Walnuts could not respond to Real Cool Sam's resurgence and made a late break, finishing second, 5¾ lengths behind the budding star, for Fashion Farms LLC. The other 1:55.2 mile fell to Big Oil, a son of Pocono freshman track recordholder Father Patrick out of the half-million-dollar-winning Cee Bee Yes. Big Oil also took the tuck-then-first-route for driver Andy Miller, but he was the recipient of good fortune when Legion Of Honor, who moved to the lead after a :27.4 opener and set middle fractions of :57.4 and 1:26.2, made a break nearing headstretch fighting against the winner. Big Oil took a 2¼ length margin over favored Expectations under the wire in his purse bow for trainer Julie Miller and owners Joseph, Douglas and Ronald Allen while also rewriting the North American season's standard for colts. Big Oil                                 ---Curtis Salonick photo Trainer Marcus Melander, who has been dominating the three-year-old colt stakes, won the first two divisions of this freshman action with Muscle Hill colts making their purse bows. One was with Rome Pays Off, who is out of the mare Order By Wish - which makes him a full brother to Marseille, who ironically defeated Melander's big gun Greenshoe here in the recent Beal Championship. Mattias Melander raced Rome Pays Off in the pocket behind pacesetter Vinny De Vie, then went to the Pocono Pike and overhauled that rival by ¾ of a length in 1:58.1, closing into a :58.2 back half for the S R F Stable. Marcus Melander then teamed with driver Brian Sears (the Greenshoe combo) to win with Hellbent For AM S, out of the mare Nalda Nof, who came first-over, made the lead in the lane, then held off the horse on his back, Patriarch Hanover, by a neck in 1:56.1 for Courant Inc. The time was a season's record for 18 minutes until Big Oil came along, and a tick shy of the time he recorded in a dead-heat qualifying win. The Explosive Matter colt Can't Say No, a $78.60 shocker winning his purse debut here, saw the crowd back him Monday to favoritism, and he and trainer/driver Ray Schnittker responded with a wire-to-wire win in 1:55.4, a new mark. Steel Schooner was good in the pocket but at the finish could get no closer than 1¼ lengths behind Can't Say No, who is co-owned by Schnittker in partnership with Steven Arnold, Arden Homestead Stable, and Fred Hertrich III. The other of Muscle Hill's winning sons was Mister Walker, the first foal out of world champion mare D'Orsay, who was successful in his first start for a purse in 1:57.1. Corey Callahan got the youngster going quickly raw out of fifth down the back and Mister Walker gobbled up the ground (his own last half in 57.3) to reach pacesetter Dublin, then overhauled that rival by ¾ of a length for trainer Jonas Czernyson and Consus Racing Stable Inc. FINISHING LINES - The Early Double produced what might be a once-in-a-lifetime sight: George Napolitano Jr. and Tim Tetrick combining on a 3-6 ticket worth $5934.00, with George winning with Noble Prize ($42.40) and then Tim bringing home Logan Hanover ($38.20). ... Napolitano wound up with four wins on the twilight card, giving him eleven in the first three days at Pocono this racing week, and sixteen if including Friday and Sunday action at Philly.   PHHA / Pocono

HARRISBURG, PA - John Pantalone, founder of World Wide Racing Photos, the track photographer presently at Harrah's Philadelphia and Freehold Raceway and previously for most of the Delaware Valley racetracks, passed away on Friday morning at age 76 after a gradually-debilitating illness. Pantalone graduated South Philadelphia High School, and received further training in electrical engineering through ROTC. He was laid off at the Boeing aircraft manufacturing plant in suburban Philadelphia in 1972, and with a friend began a photography business; one of his first clients was Liberty Bell Park, which led to the development of World Wide Racing Photos (WWRP), which he operated with his beloved wife Pat, who survives. Pantalone's WWRP was the track photographer at Brandywine, Liberty Bell, Garden State, Freehold, and Harrah's Philadelphia. The firm acquired a reputation for quick and quality development and production of track photography, to the point that at one point WWRP processed the photography for a dozen racetracks, including as far away as Golden Bear (Sacramento) in California. WWRP and Pantalone were at the forefront of several of the innovative changeovers in the racetrack photography industry through the years - the shifting from black / white to color photography and the change from film to digital photography being the two foremost examples. John's innovative mind brought about the start of the many of the oversize "tribute" photos that owners purchased to mark especially big wins with their horses. He and his firm were known for timely and courteous service, always willing to go "the extra mile" for their clients. In 1988 WWRP received Nike Photo Award for a special effects photo taken at Garden State Park. Garden State was also the scene of one of John's favorite racetrack memories, when in 1992 a campaign bus carrying President hopeful Bill Clinton stopped for a rally at the track, and the future President got in a winner's circle photo with "his namesake," Bubba Clinton, with Pantalone one of the few photographers authorized to record the event. On March 1, 2018, the Post Time with Mike and Mike podcast hosted an interview with Pantalone, which can be found online (https://extra.betamerica.com/post-time-w-mike-mike-harness-show-3118/). Funeral arrangements were not finalized at press time. Terranova Funeral Home of Haddon Heights NJ (terranovafuneralhome.com) will be handling these arrangements, and updates can be found on their website as they become available. by Jerry Connors  

CHESTER PA – Backseat Terror was a front-end winner for her fifth consecutive harness racing victory in the $17,000 featured pace for distaffs on Friday afternoon at Harrah’s Philadelphia, but she was all-out to hold off Rob Them Blind by a head in 1:51.4. Hurrikane Shorty took the field to the first station in :26.4, with driver Corey Callahan on the move with Backseat Terror, the daughter of Western Terror establishing command long before the :55.4 half. Favored (by $11 over the winner) Newsday applied strong pressure on the winner to the 1:23.1 three-quarters, with more horses joining the battle in the stretch. Rob Them Blind had gapped slightly in second-over but now found her best strides and made the leader do her best work, and Backseat Terror did hold off that rival to the wire. Hurrikane Shorty was third, Cardiff fourth up the inside, and even Newsday was beaten only a length in fifth. Backseat Terror, winless at two and three, now has seven victories and $76,386 amassed already this year for trainer Katricia Adams and owner John Bernard. Friday co-features were a pair of $16,000 trots. In the first, the Trixton sophomore filly Starita, third in her New Jersey Sire Stake final,  followed the cover of Navarone Hanover late on the backstretch, then trotted up to that one in the stretch and despite 29 days off was able to pass her by a half length. The time of 1:53.4 was a new mark for the Joe Holloway trainee, driven by David Miller for owners Val D’Or Farms and Ted Gewertz. Miller will be joined by Holloway and Gewertz in the sport’s Hall of Fame a week from Sunday. In the other subfeature section, the Muscle Massive gelding Massive Opulence, on his best behavior today, came first-over, trotted past favored pacesetter Boxing Gloves and drew clear of that rival by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:55.2. Steve Smith was in the sulky for trainer Bill Mac Kenzie and owners Scott Woogen and Brenda Messenger.   PHHA / Harrah’s Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - A trio of $16,000 races for classclimbing younger horses served as the harness racing tri-features on Friday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia - two for trotters, and one for pacing females. The faster trot saw a runaway winner in the Explosive Matter mare Pat Matters, who took a new lifetime mark of 1:53. A fast distaff (she got a check in the Kentucky Filly Futurity final last year) but one who had made two breaks in three seasonal starts, Pat Matters was all business in this contest, putting up front numbers of :28.3, :56.3, and 1:24.1 (a :55.3 middle half) en route to a decisive triumph for trainer Nifty Norman and the Patricia Stable. In the other trot, the Donato Hanover sophomore gelding Faithfulandtrue went the race of his life, being sent right to the lead by driver Michael Cole and putting up splits of :28.1, :57.4, and 1:26.3, then staying clear by three lengths to the wire in a lifetime best mile of 1:55.3. It was the seventh win in the career of Faithfulandtrue, who is trained by Joseph Columbo for owners George & Tina Dennis Racing, and the victory rewarded his scattered backers with an $80.40 win mutuel. The sidewheeling fillies and mares race came down to a stretch duel between second-choice Lyons Hedgeabet and favored Abigail Dawn, with the former prevailing and lowering her mark to 1:52.1. The victorious daughter of Mach Three was very wide going to the first turn in making the lead for driver Yannick Gingras, who then left Abigail Dawn circle up after the opening :27.3 fraction to take the lead and sat in the pocket through middle splits of :56 and 1:24.2. In the stretch Lyons Hedgeabet went to the pacesetter's left and the pair fought home in :27.4, with the winner gamely taking a half-length decision for trainer Gareth Dowse and owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound. In a $14,500 pace for fast-class mares, Believe In Me went to the early lead in :27, yielded to the quarter move of favorite Obvious Blue Chip to enjoy a two-hole journey behind middle splits of :54.4 and 1:23, then came out in the lane and wore down the pacesetter by ¾ of a length in 1:51.2. Andrew McCarthy drove the Brett Pelling trainee, with the Bay Pond Racing Stable owning the victorious daughter of Roll With Joe. A special Saturday live card is set for tomorrow at 2:05, as Harrah's Philadelphia will be one of four tracks in the Caesars chain to take part in the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge. The Billings amateur drivers will also be in town on Saturday.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA – On “Trottin’ Thursday” at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the Swan For All gelding Gold Medal Swan extended his harness racing winning streak to three races, closing for a 1:54.1 victory before a storm hit the area. Driver David Miller got the winner of $180,446 fourth as 72-1 shot Tough Mac bolted from post eight to the quarter in :26.3; by the time that one had moderated the half to :56.2, Cash For Gold was out from third to go first-over, with Gold Medal Swan right on his back. Cash For Gold cleared to the lead towards the 1:24.2 three-quarters, leaving the favorite uncovered on the far turn, Cash For Gold battled on in the lane, but Gold Medal Swan kept gaining on his hard-used foe, and in the end he could dash clear by 1¾ lengths. Mark Silva owns and trains Gold Medal Swan, who has now won half of his six 2019 starts. Two-year-old trotters, all making their purse debuts, contested two $13,000 races, one each for both sexes. In the filly race, held early before the storm arrived, the Muscle Hill – Viva Las Lindy miss Hannah vacated the three-hole at the three-quarters, went to the lead in the stretch, then withstood closing favorite Sherry Lyns Lady by ¾ of a length in 1:57.2, which was a North American divisional season’s record in addition to her first winning outing.  The fleet filly had personal back fractions of :57.4 - :28.4 in winning for driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller, and the ownership of Andy Miller Stable Inc., Lawrence Dumain, and Little E LLC. In the race for males, the Trixton – Lima Playmate colt Play Trix On Me came to his contest with a 2:00 qualifying win at Pocono, and he came out of it with a mark of 1:58.1 despite the arriving rain for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer Gareth Dowse, and owner Matthew Dugan. The chalk winner made a quarter-move and controlled the pace, showing fine end speed of :58 - :28.3 to win by 5¾ lengths.         Another freshman winner was the pacing filly Shotgun Persuasion, dropped in against one other baby and six older foes in a “nw 1” event, and again Tim Tetrick had the winning drive. The daughter of Western Ideal – Merculese spotted midpack early, went out then back in down the backstretch to avoid gapping cover, then got clearance up the inside in the stretch. Though the first-time purse starter appeared to be attracted by the tote board in late stretch, Shotgun Persuasion still had enough late kick to get her cocked-left head to the wire first by a nose in 1:57.1 (track still “fast”) for trainer Jim King Jr. and owner Jo Ann Looney-King.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

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