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After a season in which he was prone to missteps, No Lou Zing is finding his best harness racing stride this year. No Lou Zing's display of winning talent is not a surprise to driver Josert Fonseca, who will join the horse in making the biggest start to date in both their careers in Saturday's (Aug. 1) $375,000 Delvin Miller Adios final at The Meadows. No Lou Zing, who went off stride in all three of his races last year and was shut down before summer's end, has three wins and two second-place finishes this season. The gelding heads to the Adios off a third-placed-second effort in his elimination, which was won by Papi Rob Hanover in a world-record 1:47.1 last weekend. Papi Rob Hanover was scratched from the final because of a season-ending injury, leaving Catch The Fire, also an elimination winner last week, the 3-1 morning-line favorite. No Lou Zing, trained by Nancy Takter, is 7-1 and will start from post five in the nine-horse field of 3-year-old pacers. "I have a lot of confidence in him," Fonseca said. "He doesn't get tired at all. He's got a great engine, he's got great speed, and he'll just go forever. I think it's really an open race now that Papi Rob is not in there. They're all even, good horses. "You never know how a race is going to turn out, but if I can put him in the right spot, he'll get down there just as good as last weekend." No Lou Zing is a son of Sweet Lou out of Terroronthebeach. He was purchased under the name Lou's Beach for $145,000 at the 2018 Standardbred Horse Sale. He is owned by 3 Brothers Stables, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms. "He was a very good-looking yearling," Fonseca said. "He started training down and always looked the part, he looked beautiful, but he made unnecessary breaks and things like that. He could qualify OK just babying him around, but every time we put him in a race, he would make a mistake. He got a little tense, you could feel it right away behind the gate. He just needed more time. "Training down this year in the winter, he grew so much more mentally and he got a lot braver and stronger. This horse is fast, he just had to learn and relax a little bit. We had to take our time. Before you knew it, he was getting better and better. We got a little more excited at the beginning of this year. We saw a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel." No Lou Zing started three times in conditioned races, finishing second to Splash Brother in his seasonal debut before winning back-to-back starts. He continued his winning ways in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes before his Adios elim. "Nancy has done a really good job with him," said Fonseca, a Takter assistant who has driven No Lou Zing in all but one of his eight lifetime starts. "I get along great with the horse. I think it's very beneficial for him; I know his weaknesses and his strengths. "He's been in great spirits this week. I think everything is in order so far and we just have to execute." The 31-year-old Fonseca had no knowledge of harness racing when he began working as a groom for Takter's father, Jimmy, eight years ago. Fonseca was born in Costa Rica, where he spent his early childhood before moving to New Jersey at the age of 8. He graduated from a high school located not far from Takter's stable but spent several years working in a variety of jobs before a friend introduced him to the sport. Fonseca began driving in 2018. He has won 27 of 158 starts, including four of 13 this year. "Obviously, this is what you dream of," Fonseca said. "Like I've said before, just to qualify a horse for anybody was a big deal and now I've been driving a little more. This is a great opportunity." The Adios is race 15, with an estimated post time of 4:02 p.m. (EDT). Here's the field with post positions, trainers, drivers and morning line odds: $375,000 Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids 1. Later Dudes-Brian Brown-David Miller-8-1 2. Capt Midnight-Tony Alagna-Andrew McCarthy-4-1 3. Catch The Fire-John Ackley-Mike Wilder-3-1 4. The Greek Freak-Ron Burke-Matt Kakaley-5-1 5. No Lou Zing-Nancy Takter-Josert Fonseca-7-1 6. Sweet Truth-Ron Burke-Yannick Gingras-12-1 7. Chief Mate-Tony Alagna-Scott Zeron-20-1 8. Captain Barbossa-Tony Alagna-Brian Sears-6-1 9. Elver Hanover-Ron Burke-Chris Page-10-1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Chester, PA --- Not only did Sunfire Blue Chip ($14.20) duel down double millionaire Mach It So, but he also parried a ferocious late rally from the white-hot Donttellmeagain in Sunday afternoon's (Aug. 26) featured $30,000 Great Northeast event for open pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia.   The 8-year-old American Ideal entire got away cleanly in third behind early pacesetter Check Six (Tony Morgan) and stalked a :26.1 first quarter before watching Mach It So (George Napolitano Jr.) brush from the pocket with a circuit to go before working to clear before reaching race's midpoint in :54.2. Driver Josert Fonseca angled Sunfire Blue Chip first-over up the far side and worked steadily toward Mach It So through a :27.3 third split.   Within half a length a quarter from home, Sunfire Blue Chip inched closer through the far turn and gained equal footing with Mach It So at head-stretch. Meanwhile, Donttellmeagain (Victor Kirby) -- a 1:49.1 winner in Great Northeast action a fortnight ago -- was building momentum around foes after kicking third-over cover.   With one challenger put away, Sunfire Blue Chip held tough to the end of a 1:50 mile, keeping Donttellmeagain a head at bay. Third-place finisher Mach It So proved valiant in defeat, only beaten by half a length.   For Jimmy Takter trainee Sunfire Blue Chip, the Great Northeast win was his 30th career tally and his fifth of the season. Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Brixton Medical and R A W Equine own the millionaire pacer.   No one correctly selected the top five finishers in the afternoon's fifth race, despite 4-5 favorite Penzance Hanover ($3.60, Napolitano) winning the $17,000 conditioned event. As such, the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 carryover for Wednesday's (Aug. 29) program increased to $7,146.35. Post time for the first of 14 races on Wednesday is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia  

Vernon Downs featured three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old pacing fillies, on Thursday (July 12). All three divisions raced for a purse of $39,900 each. Ms Cheesman (John MacDonald) takes the first division. The favorite Newsday (Jim Marohn Jr.) took over the lead just before the first quarter mark. She controlled all the early fractions (:26.2, :55.0, 1:24.2). Ms Cheesman ($9.50) followed in the pocket trip for the first three-quarters of the mile. Owned by Bay Pond Racing and trained by Jessica Okusko, she would go first-over at the top of the stretch and blow right by to win in a lifetime best time of 1:52.2. Presto Blue Chip (Drew Monti) charged late to finish second. Checkered Past (Jim Morrill Jr) was third best. Ms Cheesman is a 3-year-old filly by Betterthancheddar. It was her fourth win this season and it was career victory number five. Pueblo Blue Chip (Matt Kakaley) edges Ubettergo Go (Mark MacDonald) in the second division of the NYSS. Betterthanbrie (Josert Fonseca) charged to the front and led the group to a first quarter of :28.0. Ubettergo Go went to the lead just after the quarter. She would lead them to a half of :56.4 and to three-quarters in 1:25.0. Pueblo Blue Chip ($5.20) went first over from third just before the three-quarter pole. Trained by Ron Burke for owners Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Menary Racing Inc., and Michael Guerrero, she would trade blows with Ubettergo Go all the way down the stretch. Halfway down the stretch they were joined by third place finisher Azreal As It Gets (John MacDonald). Pueblo Blue Chip used one last lunge to win in a lifetime best mark of 1:52.2. Ubettergo Go had to settle for second. Pueblo Blue Chip is a 3-year-old filly by American Ideal. It was her third win in four starts of 2018. She nailed down career victory number four. Dance Blue (Josert Fonseca) is an upset winner in the third division. Apothic (Mark MacDonald) led the group to a first quarter time of :27.0. The lead was short lived as Jewels Forreal (Matt Kakaley) took over and led to the halfway point in :55.4. Dance Blue ($17.60) took control just after the half and led them to three-quarters in 1:23.1. Trained by Nancy Johansson for owners Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband, and Goran Anderberg, she breezed home in the stretch to win in a lifetime best of 1:51.2. Jewels Forreal was second best with Apothic finishing third. Dance Blue is a 3-year-old filly by Rock N Roll Heaven. She secured her second win of her season and her career. Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday with a 13 race card starting at 6:10. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs          

CHESTER PA - A two-time divisional champion mare and a driver who is undefeated in his entire racing career dead-heated for the win in a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, and came very close to the divisional world record for a trotting tie. Broadway Donna, tops in her class at two and three, was driven aggressively by Tyler Buter, spotting early then making a move after the 28 quarter to follow Lagerfeld, driven by Josert Fonseca, who had cleared to the lead in front of the stands. Broadway Donna went on to the lead before the half in 56.2, shook off the first-over bid of Fashion Creditor near the 1:25 ¾ pole, then braced for a stretch battle as Fonseca moved Lagerfeld outside for the dash to the wire. Broadway Donna held her ground staunchly even as the margin of advantage was eaten into by Lagerfeld with every step, and on the wire the pair could not be separated in 1:53.2. A check of what materials are available on this phenomenon showed a 2014 trotting dead heat in 1:53 between Crosbys Clam Bake and World Cup - also at Harrah's. Broadway Donna, a daughter of Donato Hanover, is now 19 for 35 in her career, with earnings of $1,297,823 for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms LLC. Josert Foseca, now 3-for-3 lifetime, guided Lagerfeld, a son of Yankee Pride, as he equaled his mark and brought his bankroll to $718,400 for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership of Christina Takter, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Jim Fielding. The $17,000 pacing co-feature saw Last Gunfighter circle wide off of cover on the far turn, then stride away in the lane to record a victory in 1:52 over a track that had been downgraded to "sloppy." Vinnie Ginsburg handled the son of Rocknroll Hanover as he won impressively for trainer Jake Leamon and owners David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio. From the PHHA/Chester's Philadelphia

Josert Fonseca arrived at the Meadowlands Racetrack on a September morning last year and prepared for his first-ever drive in a harness racing qualifier. If he hoped to go unnoticed and work through any jitters, it would be impossible. First, the horse's trainer, Jimmy Takter, pointed out Fonseca to observers. Second, the horse was Pinkman. Not often does a driver get to take his first spin around a racetrack -- even in a qualifier -- with a Hambletonian Stakes champion. But such was Fonseca's opportunity, which speaks volumes about Takter's trust and confidence in the 29-year-old. Fonseca, who was then in his fifth year working at Takter's stable and had no knowledge of harness racing prior to arriving there, guided Pinkman to a win in 1:55.2. Since then, Fonseca has driven in 16 more qualifiers, getting opportunities not only from Takter but trainers Nancy Johansson, Tony Alagna and Trond Smedshammer, and finished worse than second only three times. He recently received his provisional "P" license and hopes to eventually get drives in pari-mutuel races. "If you like the sport, you want to try it at least one time," Fonseca said about driving. "You can train for so long, but you watch them out on the track (in races) and you want to get a chance to try it for yourself. "I never pushed the issue at all, but I think Jimmy saw that I showed a little bit of interest in it and that's kind of what sparked it. It's a lot on the line, so for him to say 'You can take that one,' is a big deal for me. I've been lucky with the ones I've driven so far, they've all performed really good for me." Fonseca's first qualifier with Pinkman, the 2015 Hambletonian winner, was special. "I trained him when he was growing up, so I'm comfortable with him, but it's still a little nerve-wracking," Fonseca said, adding with a laugh, "I just wanted to keep a low profile. "But (Pinkman) went out there and he was really, really good. And I was surprised how comfortable I was once I got out there." Fonseca was born in Costa Rica, where he spent his early childhood before moving to New Jersey at the age of 8. He graduated from a high school located not far from Takter's stable, but spent several years working in a variety of jobs, including a bakery and a fine-dining Italian restaurant, before a friend introduced him to harness racing. "My family had riding horses in Costa Rica and I always loved horses," Fonseca said. "I decided to give this a try for a couple weeks and see if I got the hang of it. I ended up sticking around. There is no better place to start. I've learned a lot in six years. It's like going to college, but you're getting paid to do it." Fonseca worked as a groom for more than two years before getting the chance to join in training. "He has a lot of responsibilities in the stable and he handles things very well," Takter said. "I can see who has the talent to do it out there. Every time he was out there, he got a little better, more comfortable. He handles the horses well; he doesn't fight with them, he sits right in the bike, he's very comfortable and relaxed. "I don't think he knows pressure yet. Of course there is a big difference between qualifiers and races, but he's going to be fine. He has a future, I'm sure about that." A future is Fonseca's dream. "I would love to pursue driving," Fonseca said. "I know it's difficult to get to the level most guys are at, but it's something I love. I feel really comfortable doing it; I don't feel nervous. I hope people see that I try to take good care of the horses out there. "I just need to keep doing what I'm supposed to do. If I get a chance, hopefully I'll take advantage of it. If I get the chance, I'll do my best." Ken Weingartner  

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