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Hightstown, NJ --- Two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Marion Marauder will open his 5-year-old season Sunday (May 20) by traveling to a harness racing track he’s never visited previously, even if it is still in North America rather than Scandinavia. Marion Marauder will head to Harrah’s Philadelphia, where he meets six rivals in the Great Northeast Open Series for older trotters. There was hope during the winter that Marion Marauder would get the opportunity to head overseas for May races in Europe, including the famed Elitlopp at Sweden’s Solvalla Raceway. The past two years, a direct flight was offered from New York to Sweden in the hopes of attracting North American horses, but the flight was discontinued this year. “We didn’t have him a hundred percent ready, so it probably wouldn’t have worked fitness-wise for him,” said Mike Keeling, who trains Marion Marauder with his wife, Paula Wellwood. “But the real problem was logistics; without a direct flight it turns into a bit of a milk run. Early in the season, you can’t do that. You’re jeopardizing far too much. “Maybe we can make it work someday. We’d really like to participate in it, and be competitive in it. I think everybody would like that opportunity once.” Marion Marauder, who was the 2016 Trotter of the Year, won three of 10 races last year and earned $769,182 on his way to receiving the Dan Patch Award for the sport’s best older male trotter. His victories included the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate Series championship and he was second in the Yonkers International Trot. In 2016, Marion Marauder won 10 of 15 starts and became the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner -- and first since 2006 -- by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. For his career, the stallion has won 14 of 38 races, hit the board a total of 30 times, and earned $2.53 million. He is owned by Devin Keeling and Marion Jean Wellwood. Marion Marauder heads to Philly off two wins in qualifiers. He will start Sunday from post seven with regular driver Scott Zeron and is 10-1 on the morning line. Crazy Wow, who in his most recent start on May 5 was third in the Cutler Memorial, is the 5-2 favorite. The remainder of the field is Lagerfeld, Melady’s Monet, Fearless Man, Opulent Yankee, and Crazshana. “He qualified great and he’s coming into the season nice and sound,” Keeling said about Marion Marauder. “We kind of got handicapped for the first start, but it will be a good test for him and that is what matters most, that he gets stretched out. If he gets himself in position he’ll be accountable. Our first start or two we’ve just got to see what Scott plans for him and go from there. “We enjoy it (racing Marion Marauder). We know that he’s always going to give us a great effort, that’s what matters. If he shows up, he’s going to win his share.” Harrah’s Philadelphia also hosts two divisions of the Great Northeast Open Series for older female pacers on Sunday. Blue Moon Stride is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first division and three-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country is the 5-2 choice in the second division. Racing begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ --- It is not uncommon to see a female trotter receive a Dan Patch Award at both ages 2 and 3. What is uncommon is to see one of those harness racing ladies win another award at age 4. Since the first Dan Patch Award for 2-year-old filly trotters was handed out in 1978, only Peace Corps and CR Kay Suzie have accomplished the feat. When Ariana G launches her 2018 campaign in Saturday’s first round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters, she will be the fourth female trotter in as many years to attempt to join that select group. Ariana G, one of two mares to enter the Graduate Series opener, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first of two $50,000 divisions. A total of 13 filly trotters have won Dan Patch Awards at both ages 2 and 3, including Broadway Donna, Mission Brief, and Shake It Cerry in the three years prior to Ariana G. Ariana G won 12 of 15 races last year and earned $1.12 million for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, who also bred the horse. Trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by Yannick Gingras, her victories included the Hambletonian Oaks, Breeders Crown, and Elegantimage Stakes. For her career, Ariana G has won 21 of 26 races and earned $1.86 million. Katz told Hoof Beats magazine the decision to bring Ariana G back rather than to start her on a broodmare career was based on conversations with Takter. Those talks began during the middle of last year’s racing season. “We have the greatest of respect for Jimmy Takter’s opinion,” Katz said. “He felt she deserved the right to come back and that she was certainly capable of coming back and racing with any and all, and could develop into a great aged mare as well.” Added Gingras, “There’s only so many horses like her. She’s very special and you hate to see a horse like her go to the breeding shed too early. There’s no doubt every time I stepped on the racetrack with her, I knew I had the best horse in the race. Maybe it didn’t work out the way we wanted every time, but she’s very special and she gives 100 percent each time.” Ariana G faced male rivals on three occasions last year. She won an elimination of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and finished third in the final. She also finished second in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial. Her foes Saturday are New Jersey Viking, Bill’s Man, Lindy The Great, Yes Mickey, Fraser Ridge, Dunbar Hall, and Sortie. In the second division of the Graduate, Achille Duharas is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. The remainder of the field is Moonshiner Hanover, Lord Cromwell, Swell Chap, International Moni, Don Dream, and the mare Barn Bella. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). The Meadowlands card also includes second-round action in three other series -- the Rainbow Blue, Escort, and Hot Lead. For those arriving at the track early, harness racing’s all-time richest horse, 14-year-old pacer Foiled Again, will be in a qualifier at approximately 5:15 p.m. as he gets ready to resume his season before retiring at the end of the year. For Saturday’s complete Meadowlands entries, click here. For track announcer Ken Warkentin’s analysis, click here. Editor's Note: To read a feature story on Ariana G from the March 2018 edition of Hoof Beatsmagazine, click here. To subscribe to Hoof Beats, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ --- Chuck Connor Jr. stood in the race paddock at the Meadowlands Racetrack one recent morning and looked around at the 2-year-old trotters and pacers on hand for a training session at the North Jersey harness racing oval. “Right now, everyone has got hope,” Connor said. “This is where the dream starts.” Connor would like to be living the dream in several months when the 2-year-olds are in the midst of their rookie seasons. Connor and his wife Janice, along with their son Brian, train a small stable of horses in Goshen, N.Y., based at Historic Track adjacent to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. The Connors have a stable of 17 horses at the moment, with nine 2-year-olds. Six of the 2-year-olds made the trip last week to the Meadowlands for their first training session away from home. “You have some that look like an A, some that look like a B, some that look like a C,” Connor said with a laugh. “But right now I’m hopeful that we’ve got a couple of As. It’s looking OK. It’s their first time here and things are a little exciting. It’s a little different for them, but at least they’re learning.” The Connors’ 2-year-olds on the trip, all trotters, included colts Amico Mio Bi (Donato Hanover-Lapponia) and The Chutzpah Kid (Conway Hall-Ms Fushsia) and fillies Muscle N Beauty (Muscles Yankee-Cabaret Hall) and Taja Mahala (Trixton-Kindling). Muscle N Beauty’s dam Cabaret Hall is a half-sister to stakes-winner Cash Hall and full sister to stakes-winners Cartier Hall and Capetown Hall. Taja Mahala’s dam Kindling is a half-sister to Personal Banner, who upset Moni Maker in the 1996 Breeders Crown. “You hope for soundness, number one,” Connor said about evaluating his 2-year-olds. “Then that they show you a little speed and each week they increase that speed a little bit. That’s what you’re hoping they show up with. And manners are key. “They accomplished everything I was looking for here. I was looking for around 2:09, 2:10 and everybody went there. They were all comfortable and did it well. That’s what you hope for.” In recent years, the Connors’ top horse was Rules Of The Road, who finished second to Wild Honey in the 2015 Hambletonian Oaks. Last year, trotter Whats The Word had success on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit, but went off stride as the 9-5 favorite in the series championship. The stable also had a stakes winner in pacer Real Rayenbow. “You could always have a better year, no matter how good it is,” Connor said, laughing. “You never win enough races and you never make enough money. You just hope you don’t have disappointments along the way, and last year we had a few disappointments. But we still had pretty good horses. “You stay positive and hope everything works good and comes together. That’s why we’re here.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Dan Patch Award-winner Lost In Time makes his seasonal debut Saturday (May 19) in the third of three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for harness racing 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and there is no shortage of familiar faces joining the colt in the field. Also making their seasonal debuts in the same race are Breeders Crown champion Stay Hungry and stakes-winners Hayden Hanover, who was the fastest 2-year-old male pacer of 2017, and Nutcracker Sweet. In addition, stakes-winner Wes Delight is part of the eight-horse field. Stay Hungry, who starts from post No. 3 for driver Doug McNair and trainer Tony Alagna, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Lost In Time, who leaves from post six with Scott Zeron at the lines for Jimmy Takter, is the 3-1 second choice while Hayden Hanover is 4-1 from post one with Andy Miller driving for Julie Miller. "It's a who's who of horses; it's heavy hitters," Zeron said. "It's about as interesting as it gets. There are amazing horses in that race." Last year, Lost In Time won five of nine races including the Metro Pace, Governor's Cup, and a division of the International Stallion Stakes. He earned $608,112, which led all 2-year-old male pacers. The A Rocknroll Dance colt was trained by Jim Mulinix for most of the season before Mulinix turned the horse over to Takter for his final two races of the year. Lost In Time enters Saturday's race off two qualifiers. He finished fourth in the first, timed in 1:53.1 with a :25.4 last quarter-mile. He won the second, timed in 1:51 with a :26.3 final quarter. "Those qualifiers, to me, were exactly what I was looking for," Zeron said. "It's nice to see the way he's started this season. He's come back great. There are a lot of similarities to last year, which is what you kind of want; the same horse with a little progression. That's the way it's felt. "Mentally he's gotten a little sharper. He's always been nice to handle and he's nice on himself. It's like Jimmy has said, he's a horse that likes to win. I don't think he's flashy on a day-to-day basis, but he enjoys racing. He's easy to drive, so that makes it easy for me." Lost In Time is owned by Diamond Creek Racing, J&T Silva Stables, William Rufenacht, and Scott Robinson's Team S Racing Stable. At February's Dan Patch Award banquet, Robinson's guests included professional wrestling legend Ric Flair, who was celebrating his 69th birthday. While accepting Lost In Time's Dan Patch trophy, Robinson announced he was giving Flair an ownership percentage in the horse as a birthday present. "I really hope this horse can deliver and be a real champion because (Flair) was very excited about being brought in on this horse," Zeron said. "And it's exciting to know that somebody that's lived the life he's lived is excited about a horse. It's nice for everybody connected with it." In Saturday's first Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division, Takter's Grand Teton, a half-brother to three-time Dan Patch Award-winning mare Pure Country, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Kindergarten Series champion Points North is the 3-1 second choice. The second division finds Chris Ryder's stakes-winning This Is The Plan, who is 2-for-2 this year, as the 5-2 favorite followed by Dorsoduro Hanover at 3-1. The field also includes defending Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Pedro Hanover, who is 9-2 on the morning line. "Right now, everyone talks about Stay Hungry and Lost In Time, but there are other horses out there that were good last year," Zeron said. "It's the way every year starts out, you see at the beginning who comes to play. Maybe that will stamp your mark on the year. "This Pocono race might be one that puts one ahead of the others, but in my eyes it really won't. It's just a step toward the North America Cup for me." The following Pennsylvania Sire Stakes starters Saturday are eligible to the North America Cup: Captain Deo, Closing Statement, Dorsoduro Hanover, Grand Teton, Hayden Hanover, Lost In Time, Nutcracker Sweet, Pedro Hanover, Points North, Pro Beach, Sometimesawinner, Stay Hungry, Wes Delight, and Whos Better. Saturday's card at Pocono also includes two divisions of the Great Northeast Open Series for older male pacers. In the first, Rockeyed Optimist is the 5-2 morning-line favorite over 3-1 Rockin Ron. In the second, Dr J Hanover is the 5-2 choice over 3-1 Mach It So. Racing begins at 7:30 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

Matt Kakaley is ready to go. Sidelined since a March 13 racing accident, the 30-year-old harness racing driver will be back in action Saturday (May 12) with nine drives at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "I can't wait. I really can't wait," Kakaley said. "It's been a tough couple months, but I'm feeling good now and I'm itching to get back. Seeing my name on the entries, it was a good feeling." Kakaley was injured at Yonkers Raceway when the horse he was driving took a bad step and went down. Kakaley was thrown to the track and suffered injuries that required three surgeries, including one for a broken orbital bone and another for a fractured collarbone. He has spent the past month rehabbing and getting in shape for his return. "I put on a few pounds just sitting around," Kakaley said with a laugh. "That's the goal right now, to get those off and be fit again." Kakaley is grateful for all the well wishes he received following the accident and the support of his friends and family, including his mom Linda, longtime partner Annie Larrabee and her mom Debbie, as well as trainer Ron Burke and fellow drivers Andy McCarthy and Mark MacDonald. "It showed me how many really good friends I really do have and how special my family is," Kakaley said. "It was a tough time, but I had a good support system and people who were there for me to make it a little bit easier." Kakaley, who set a career high with $9.04 million in purses last year, has 62 wins and $1.07 million in purses this season. Last week, he trained several horses for Burke in preparation for this weekend. "I just wanted to make sure it feels good sitting behind a horse and going a mile," said Kakaley, who has 4,169 career wins. "I felt great. The shoulder wasn't bothering me at all, so I figured I was ready to go. "The last two weeks or so I've been feeling really good, but I didn't want to come back too soon. I had to wait it out. It's for the better because I don't want to reinjure it." Kakaley's drives on Saturday include Aleppo Hanover in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers and Rockin Ron and Check Six in divisions of the Great Northeast Open Series for male pacers. In addition, Kakaley is one of the drivers participating in this weekend's Trotting 4 Charity event. Trotting 4 Charity, organized by TrotCast's Ryan Macedonio, will be held May 18-20 at racetracks throughout North America. Participating drivers and trainers will wear a custom-made replica jersey of their own colors, with their selected charity logo displayed on the jersey. During the weekend, drivers will race in their jersey. After the event, auctions will be held for fans to bid on the jerseys and all proceeds from winning bids will be donated to the corresponding charities. Kakaley's charity is Marley's Mission, which is based near Pocono and provides equine-based psychotherapy free of charge to children, and their families, who have experienced trauma. "I think it's a great event and I thought Marley's Mission was a perfect fit," Kakaley said. "I wanted to do something locally and this is great exposure for them, as well as harness racing." Racing begins at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ --- Harness racing driver Jim Morrill Jr. got career win No. 7,000 on Sunday night (May 13) when he drove Indy Ingot to victory in the 13th race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Indy Ingot, trained by Joe Pavia Jr., won by one length in 1:54.3. The 53-year-old Morrill set his career high for wins with 404 in 2012 and career high for purses with $8.21 million in 2009. He ranks No. 21 in harness racing history for purses, with $101.3 million. Morrill led all drivers with 500 or more starts in driver’s rating in 2006, 2008 and 2009. He finished second in 2007, 2012 and 2016. Among his notable wins are three Breeders Crown finals -- with See You At Peelers, Won The West and Yellow Diamond -- the 2004 Meadowlands Pace with Holborn Hanover and the 2012 Yonkers Trot with Archangel. A native of Massachusetts, where he played junior hockey prior to his career in harness racing, Morrill now lives in upstate New York. He ranks fourth in wins at Pocono this year. Son of the late trainer-driver Jim Morrill Sr., Morrill Jr. began his driving career in 1984.   by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager   Additional to article   Ken's story mentioned that Holborn Hanover won the Meadowlands Pace in 2004. Two years later, Holborn would become the first horse to go a world record 1:46.4 in a race, with George Brennan driving him that day.1:46.4 in a race held up (tied three times) as the world record for a race until Always B Miki went 1:46 at Lexington in 2016, which also eclipsed Cambest's T1:46.1.   Jim's fastest time is just a tick slower than the former race record, 1:47, achieved in guiding Won The West to a Breeders Crown victory.   Morrill finished in the North American top half-dozen drivers in UDR every year between 2012-2016.   The USTA changed the "top category" of drivers in the UDR competition from 300+ to 500+ drives in 1982. When Morrill won his first title in 2006, his .521 was the highest figure ever in the "500+" category (only fellow New England Walter Case Jr. had cracked .500 before, .505 in 1998).   Prior to the change to "500+," the last figure in the "top category" to top Morrill's 2006 figure of .521 was C.J. Osborn's .566 in 1979.   Morrill's .521 in the 500+ UDR category was eclipsed only this past season when yet another son of New England, Drew Campbell, posted a .523 figure.   Morrill has won the Pocono UDR title three times -- 2009, 2010, and 2012.

Hightstown, NJ --- After a journey of more than 5,000 miles, the harness racing starting gate used for the prestigious Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio, is now safely in the least likely of racing locations, Budapest, Hungary. The starting gate is used to start the harness races. It has a special attachment with long wings that open up and close. The horses get behind the gate at their assigned post position numbers and follow the gate to the starting point of the race and then the vehicle accelerates away from the field of horses and then follows them on the outside of the track throughout the race. The extensive journey for the unique Ford F-150 pickup truck with its starting gate attachment began in early July of 2017 when Petronella Kovács, an equine photographer and assistant manager at Kincsem Park in Budapest, contacted harness racing publicity consultant and Hall of Famer, Steve Wolf, in Coral Springs, Fla. Kincsem Park is a major events facility in Budapest that features not only harness racing, but also Thoroughbred and greyhound racing, concerts and festivals. “I received an email from Petronella,” Wolf said, “asking if I could assist them in purchasing a good used starting gate and having it shipped to Budapest. Little did I know the kind of journey this would take us on. “Thank goodness for Google translate, as I do not speak Hungarian, and Petronella speaks some English. We had some minor situations where we did not understand each other, but always were able to work it out.” “I speak English somewhat,” Kovács said. “Our communication was the best I think, easy, fluent and simple. “I was searching for a company or a person who could arrange these kinds of things like this. I wrote to some companies, and only Steve said he can and wanted to help me.” So Wolf began searching for a good used starting gate, which was no easy task. “I contacted the two major companies that build starting gates in the USA,” Wolf said. “And either they did not have any used vehicles for sale or they were too old for what they wanted at Kincsem Park. I contacted race tracks and found a couple of used starting gates, but again, too old for what they wanted.” Then Wolf went to Mike Woebkenberg of Superior Sulky in Farmerville, Ohio. Mike and Steve had never met before, but through talking on the phone, had become friends. “I realized that Steve really wanted to help find a starting gate for the people at Kincsem Park,” Woebkenberg said. “And I wanted to help him, so we looked into building a new one, but that became too costly with shipping and import taxes. We tried all sorts of scenarios and then I said to myself, why not sell them the main starting gate I use at the Little Brown Jug and other tracks and just build a new one for myself.” After working out a price, a deal was reached between Woebkenberg, Wolf and Kovács that was acceptable to Kincsem Park management. But then came the paperwork for the Ford F-150 starting gate. “I thought at first that this would be an easy purchase agreement,” Wolf said. “Then came an 18-page bidding form in Hungarian! It took some time as Google translate was not as helpful, but Petronella worked with me and soon enough I had it done. I nicknamed her my “Job Angel” and Mike also was a major help as we had to include all dimensions of the truck and the starting gate mechanisms in kilometers, etc.” Because Kincsem Park is owned and run by the Department of Agriculture in Hungary, bids must be done for all major machinery purchases. So next came the waiting game for Wolf to see how the bidding would go. It was early July when the adventure first started and then on Oct. 13, Wolf received via email a document from the Hungarian government with an official seal on it. “I thought at first it was the official notice that my bid was successfully submitted,” Wolf said. “So, I forwarded it to Petronella and she got back to me and said ‘Congratulations Steve, your bid is the winning one,’ and I was ecstatic about it.” Of course, more work remained. Arrangements were made to have the starting gate shipped from Ohio to an East Coast port, then across the Atlantic to a port in Europe, and then to have the vehicle transported to Budapest, which is totally landlocked from any major shipping port by hundreds of miles. “I had done pricing on all facets needed to get the starting gate to Budapest for the bidding contract,” Wolf said. “And now I was able to negotiate final deals with the different transport companies.” So, Woebkenberg began preparing the truck for a long trip to Europe. “I had the truck totally detailed,” Woebkenberg said. “New tires and an extra new spare, new brakes, extra spare parts and prepared the truck for being in a container for a while and how the salt air could affect it. I also wrote out instructions for basic repairs and maintenance for the truck and starting gate and made sure that the company folded in the big side-view mirrors in order for it to fit inside the container.” The starting gate was then transported from Farmerville, Ohio to the port in Jersey City, N.J., then shipped to the port at Bremerhaven, Germany and transported 740 miles to Budapest, Hungary. “I had all the information,” Wolf said. “The name of the ship, the route it was going to take, when it might arrive, but still I was nervous waiting for it to finally arrive in Germany. I even learned how to track a vessel at sea provided it passed near some of the tracking stations across the Atlantic. “And then I got an email on Monday, Jan. 22, from my customs agent that the ship had docked the night before,” Wolf added, laughing. “So, my worries about the starting gate sinking were over with!” “I did not think it would take so long,” Kovács said. “With the truck coming from America, it is not the closest or the easiest way to Hungary. A good job takes time. “My colleagues and I were so excited when I got the message on my phone that the truck had arrived. I finally felt calm and secure. Everyone was so excited and could not wait to see the truck at work.” Both Steve Wolf and Mike Woebkenberg are hopeful that this experience will be repeated with other tracks around the world that are interested in getting either a new or used starting gate. They can be reached via email at stevenwolf1956@gmail.com or mike@superiorsulky.com. “I’m ready to do it all over again,” Wolf said. “It was most certainly a life experience that I really enjoyed doing, made new friends around the world and now I can add international exporter to my resume.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

After making history last year, Pure Country is ready to pursue more honors. The 5-year-old harness racing female pacer will begin her 2018 campaign Sunday (May 13) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in the $30,000 Mares Open, which is part of the new Great Northeast Open Series. Pure Country became the first female pacer in history to receive a Dan Patch Award at ages 2, 3, and 4 when she was named the sport’s best older pacing mare in December. Only two pacers have ever won more Dan Patch trophies, Anndrovette and Eternal Camnation, with four each. Those two also were female pacers. For her career, Pure Country has won 25 of 47 races and earned $2.23 million, which puts her on the verge of joining the 10 highest-earning female pacers in North American history. Her victories include two Breeders Crown finals, the Fan Hanover Stakes, Lynch Memorial, Lady Liberty, TVG Series championship, Artiscape, and Matron. “She is in rarified air,” said Adam Bowden, whose Diamond Creek Racing owns Pure Country and whose Diamond Creek Farm bred the mare. “This was never expected when we first had her. But with each win comes bigger expectations. Can she live up to them? She did last year. I hope she does again this year. “She is fantastic. There are no superlatives that you can’t say. She is a blessing.” Pure Country is a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of one of the first horses Diamond Creek bought, Western Montana, in the farm’s formative years. Pure Country started slowly in 2017, but won five of her last 10 races, including the Breeders Crown and TVG Series championships to close out the stakes season. “When we decided to bring her back last year, it was always a two-year plan,” Bowden said. “I knew there would be a steep learning curve, but I think she surprised me toward the end of the year how good she was no matter what kind of trip she got. “She came back good this year. She’s a big strong mare; she looks like a colt. She will always be that way. I think she is more mature now, she understands her role, and gets along well with (driver Mark MacDonald). I expect another big year from her. I would be disappointed if she wasn’t one of the top couple mares at the end of the year, if not the best.” MacDonald and the Jimmy Takter-trained Pure Country will start Sunday from post six. Pure Country is 4-1 on the morning line, the third choice behind 5-2 favorite Nike Franco N and 3-1 Lady Shadow. “There is never going to be an easy race for the mares; there are too many good horses,” Bowden said. “She’s in tough, she will always be in tough, and she’s never going to win every race. Not to say she won’t or can’t win on Sunday, but first start back it’s asking a lot. She is going to give a good accounting of herself because she always does. “Jimmy does a great job. He’s the master. He gets everything out of her and they have a great rapport and she seems to rise to the occasion when it matters. She always has.” In addition to the open series event for the female pacers, Pocono on Sunday hosts a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series race for trotters. Cutler Memorial runner-up Will Take Charge is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Racing begins at 7 p.m. Sunday at Pocono. For the mare open pace field, click here. For the open trot field, click here. The Great Northeast Open Series -- sponsored by Pocono, Harrah’s Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association -- will feature races throughout the summer for older pacers and trotters, all leading up to $100,000 championships Sept. 2 at Pocono. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Harness racing trainer Tony Alagna will send out three horses in each the Escort and Rainbow Blue series Saturday (May 12) at the Meadowlands Racetrack while also on the card two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Broadway Donna and stakes-winners Bill's Man and Lagerfeld all will make their seasonal debuts in the Preferred Handicap Trot. The opening leg of the conditioned Escort Series, for 3-year-old male pacers, attracted 14 horses, with the group divided into two $12,500 seven-horse divisions. The conditioned Rainbow Blue Series, for 3-year-old female pacers, also was split into two $12,500 divisions after a total of 13 horses entered the first round. Also on Saturday's card is the first round of the conditioned Hot Lead Series, for pacers of all ages. Second-round action in all three events will be May 19. The finals are May 26. Alagna's entries in the first Escort division are Odds On Lauderdale and Legal Power. Both horses are making their seasonal debuts. Odds On Lauderdale (Western Ideal-Worldly Deo) was winless in 11 races last year, but hit the board in two divisions of the Kindergarten Series and an elimination of the Metro Pace. He also earned paychecks in divisions of the Nassagaweya, Champlain, and International Stallion stakes as well as an elimination of the Breeders Crown. The colt, who is fully staked, is owned by Odds On Racing. His family includes stakes-winners World Of Rocknroll and Rock N' Roll World, and that duo's dam, multiple Dan Patch Award-winner Worldly Beauty. Legal Power (Somebeachsomewhere-Authorize) was winless in five starts last year. He is owned by breeder Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, and Legal Power Racing. His family includes his stakes-winning dam as well as Dan Patch Award-winner Artiscape. "Odds On Lauderdale was a very nice colt last year," Alagna said. "He didn't have the best of luck last year. But he's a real nice horse. He's got a huge turn of speed. If you don't use him hard early, he can really kick home hard. I think the big track really suits him. "Legal Power showed ability last year but just never really fulfilled what we thought he should do. We (gelded) him over the winter and it seemed to really help." Alagna's Babes Dig Me (Somebeachsomewhere-Western Babe) is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the second Escort division. The colt won a conditioned race last year in eight starts and hit the board in divisions of the International Stallion and Champlain. He is owned by Brad Grant, Joe Sbrocco, Robert Leblanc, and In The Gym Partners. Babes Dig Me, whose family includes 2006 Pacer of the Year Total Truth, made his debut last week with a second-place finish to This Is The Plan in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows. "He ended up stuck on the front, which isn't his forte, but he still was a good second," Alagna said. "He's eligible to the (upcoming Art Rooney Pace) so I wanted to get a start in him here in case the Rooney doesn't have eliminations. That way he can have a start beforehand. He's heavily staked. He's a nice colt." In the Rainbow Blue, Alagna sends out first-time starter Odds On Ashley in the first division followed by first-time starter Studio Girl and lightly raced Someangelsomewhere in the second. Odds On Ashley (Rock N Roll Heaven-Docdor Cameo) is owned by Odds On Racing. Studio Girl (American Ideal-The Art Museum) is owned by breeders Brittany Farms and Mel Hartman. Someangelsomewhere (Somebeachsomewhere-Angel Scent) was winless in three races last year and is making her 2018 debut. She is owned by breeders Spring Haven Farm and Doug Millard as well as Brad Grant and Joe Sbrocco. "Odds On Ashley trained down good last year, but was just very immature," Alagna said. "It took her a little time to get going. She's come back good. Studio Girl is a sister to (Dan Patch Award-winner) Artspeak. Someangelsomewhere had a lot of sickness issues last year, so we turned her out. She's come back much better. I'll be glad to get a start in them and see where we're at. I think they've come back well so far." In the Preferred Handicap Trot, Broadway Donna is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Bill's Man is 5-1 and Lagerfeld is 8-1. For the Meadowlands complete Saturday entries, click here. For track announcer Ken Warkentin's analysis, click here. Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ --- Harness racing trainer Mark Harder is hoping Wes Delight can provide a lot of joy this season. The 3-year-old male pacer will race Saturday (May 12) in a $23,066 division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial Stakes at Yonkers Raceway as he tunes up for a North America Cup bid next month. Last year, Wes Delight won three of 11 starts and earned $124,077 for owners Harder, Rick Phillips, and Deena Frost. So far this year, the colt beat older horses in his seasonal debut and finished second to Dorsoduro Hanover in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows despite traffic trouble around the final turn. “I think he’s the real deal,” Harder said. “He showed a lot of talent last year at 2, but just struggled with his gait a little bit. He’s come back good and strong this year. He was very good at the Meadows last week. He sat behind (leader) Pedro Hanover and he stopped and took us out of the race. But when he got free, he had a lot of pace late.” Wes Delight is a son of Bettor's Delight out of Maid West, a half-sister to stakes-winner Gimmebackmybullets. Wes Delight was purchased for $55,000 at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. He is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in his Reynolds division, which is the first of three for the 3-year-old male pacers, and will have Corey Callahan in the sulky. “He will have a couple of races before we head off to the North America Cup,” Harder said. “Big plans, but I think he can go with those horses. He’s not a big horse, but he travels like a bigger horse. He gets over the ground good and has good desire. He’s got a personality and is just a nice horse to be around. He’s just a happy horse.” Harder also will send out horses in the other two Reynolds divisions, 4-1 Iluvtomakemoney in the third and 12-1 Major Offense in the second. Iluvtomakemoney, a son of Well Said out of millionaire Symphony In Motion, has won six of 15 career races and heads to the Reynolds off a victory in a division of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series. He has earned $93,901 lifetime and is owned by breeder Joseph Jannuzzelli. Tim Tetrick will drive the gelding. “He’s just a good little hard-hitting horse,” Harder said. “He’s not overly abundant in talent, but he goes to the races and makes money. He’s always right there. We’ll keep him away from the big boys. You’re better off being a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond.” Major Offense, who is eligible to the upcoming Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers, won twice in his first three races this year but is winless in three starts since then. For his career, the son of Art Major-Northwestern has won two of 12 races and earned $29,056 for the same ownership group as Wes Delight. George Brennan will drive Major Offense; his first opportunity in the bike behind the gelding. “It seems like he’s tailed off a little bit, like he doesn’t really like it (at Yonkers) much,” Harder said. “We decided to give this race a shot and I made a driver change just to see if it made a difference. He’s just not getting away in good spots and he’s gapping off. We’ll see if George can light a fire in him a little bit and get him involved. “How he races will determine whether we go to the Rooney or not. It’s doubtful at this stage.” Rob Harmon’s Kwik Talkin is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the second Reynolds division and Harmon’s Mach N Cheese is the 5-2 choice in the third. In addition to the Reynolds action for the boys, Yonkers hosts three divisions for the 3-year-old female pacers as well. First race post time is 6:50 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

When harness racing driver Yannick Gingras heard about the upcoming Trotting 4 Charity event, he knew immediately he wanted to participate. Gingras' brother-in-law, Brian Michonski, lost a battle with pancreatic cancer in 2014 and Gingras will drive in Brian's memory to raise money for the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. Trotting 4 Charity, organized by TrotCast's Ryan Macedonio, will be held May 18-20 at racetracks throughout North America. Participating drivers and trainers will wear a custom-made replica jersey of their own colors, with their selected charity logo displayed on the jersey. During the weekend, drivers will race in their jersey. After the event, auctions will be held for fans to bid on the jerseys and all proceeds from winning bids will be donated to the corresponding charities. The mission of the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation is to deliver unwavering support for patients and families fighting pancreatic cancer. It was founded in 2009. Michonski, a Maine resident who was 50 when he passed away, worked in his family's masonry business and was active in sports and the community throughout his life. He played baseball and ice hockey and coached both sports at the youth level. He also was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman and loved to travel with his family. "This is always a charity that is important to me," Gingras, who is among 40 horsemen and horsewomen participating in the event, said about the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. "I'm always willing to help out and when I heard about (Trotting 4 Charity) I thought it was a great idea and wanted to get involved. "This brings attention to these charities and the work they do, which is very important. It also brings attention to harness racing. It's just a good thing for everyone." Following is a list of drivers and trainers participating in Trotting 4 Charity, with their corresponding charities. Allan Davis - Nemours Children's Hospital Andrew Harris - The Breast Cancer Research Foundation Andy McCarthy - St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - Science and Medicine Andy Miller - Pacing For The Cure Bob McClure - Children's Wish Foundation of Canada Brady Galliers - Ronald McDonald House Charities Brian Burton - Potomac Valley Boxing Association Chris Page - Jimmy V Foundation Colin Kelly - Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Corey Callahan - Harness Horse Youth Foundation Declan Donoway - St. Jude Children's Hospital Dolores Basilone Case - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Doug McNair - Autism Speaks Emily Hay - Leukemia Research Foundation Frank Milby - Talbot Special Riders, Inc. J Bradley Harris - Breast Cancer Research Foundation James MacDonald - Canadian Cancer Society Jim Morrill - Wounded Warrior Project Julie Miller - Pacing For The Cure Louis-Philippe Roy - Fondation Rêves d'enfants, Québec - Children's Wish Foundation, Quebec Marc Campbell - IWK Foundation Marcus Miller - Dogs For Better Lives Matt Kakaley - Marley's Mission Montrell Teague - St. Jude Pat Berry - St. Jude Robert Shepherd - Autsim Speaks Roger Plante - Ronald McDonald House Russell Foster - Freedom Hill Horse Rescue Ryan Macedonio - Big Brothers Big Sisters Scott Young - Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Scott Zeron - Standardbred Retirement Foundation - Adoptahorse.org Sean Bier - Cardiac Kids Simon Allard - Wigs For Kids Timmy Offutt - Maryland International Harvest Foundation Tom Jackson - Lung Cancer Research Foundation Travis Henry - Breast Cancer Research Foundation Trevor Henry - The War Amps Tyler Buter - Wounded Warriors Tyler Smith - St. Jude Yannick Gingras - National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation Pictures of each jersey will be available at trotting4charity.com or trotcast.com. Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ --- A 2-year-old’s first trip to the harness racing track for a training session is somewhat similar to high school orientation. It’s an opportunity to learn their way around and get comfortable in a new environment before the real work begins. “The first time, I don’t care how they go, really,” said trainer Ray Schnittker, who brought a small group of horses to the Meadowlands last week for the first of several training days at the track this month for 2-year-olds. “I just want them to experience going on the trailer. I just want them to see everything here; go by tractors -- because they’ve never seen this many water trucks or tractors -- be in the paddock, get used to a new setting. “A lot of guys don’t do it, but I think it does help. Usually the first time I’m disappointed in how they train here. The second time they’re a lot better. They figure it out.” The training days at the Meadowlands for 2-year-olds, a cooperative effort between the Big M and the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, are offered from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. each Thursday in May. The costs for the sessions are covered by the SBOANJ. The organization and Backstretch Community Assistance Program (BCAP) also sponsor breakfast for grooms and trainers at JoJo’s Paddock Café. Schnittker’s horses making the trip to the Meadowlands included Branquinho (Somebeachsomewhere-Wild West Show), who is a homebred full brother to Dan Patch Award-winning pacer Huntsville, and Cloudbreak (Somebeachsomewhere-Must See), a half-brother to 2009 Pacer of the Year Well Said. They were joined by Check Out Trixie, a daughter of 2014 Hambletonian winner Trixton out of Schnittker’s two-time Dan Patch Award-winning trotter Check Me Out, filly trotter Jezzys Legacy (Donato Hanover-Jezzy) and colt pacer Captain Malicious (Captaintreacherous-Silky), who is a half-brother to stakes-winner Malicious. Schnittker, who has 15 total 2-year-olds in training, plans to bring a different group to the Meadowlands this week. The horses will train multiple times at the Big M before heading to qualifiers. “It’s a pretty good group,” Schnittker said. “No disappointments yet. We’ll see what happens.” Among the other trainers at the Meadowlands last week was Marcus Melander, who brought nine horses. “We only have a half-mile track to train on at home, so I don’t go that fast with them,” Melander said. “We will try them with a little more speed here, push them a little the last quarter, but mostly this first time they’re just here to learn. I’ve got another group for next week and this group will come back in two weeks. They should be ready to qualify at the beginning of June.” Melander’s horses included colt trotter Greenshoe (Father Patrick-Designed To Be), who sold for $330,000 under the name Rifleman at last year’s Lexington Selected Sale. Other colt trotters with Melander were Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows), who sold for $170,000 under the name Army Of Monkeys at the Standardbred Horse Sale, Kredit Karma (Credit Winner-No Pain No Gain; sold as The Fat Cobra), Great Explorer (Muscle Mass-Mayflower Volo; sold as Massive Volo), Swedish-bred Green Manalishi (Muscle Hill-Naga Morich) and Olympic Goal (Donato Hanover-Bewitching Beauty). He also had three filly trotters: Isolde (Cantab Hall-Tosca), Shee La (Cantab Hall-Victory Bouquet) and Tangent (Cantab Hall-Fraction). “They’re very nice,” Melander said. “I can’t say one bad thing about any of them right now. Hopefully they continue that way.” Overall, Melander is training 28 2-year-olds. “It’s a good group,” he said. “There are a couple that are a little bit behind, but we’re happy with most of them.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association announced Friday (May 4) that Kim French, who currently serves as an internet newsroom editor and writer for the organization's website, has been named interim editor of Hoof Beats magazine. In addition, former editor Dean Hoffman has been hired as a consultant for the magazine. They replace TJ Burkett who recently resigned to pursue another career opportunity outside of the harness racing industry. French joined the USTA staff in April 2016 but had been a contributor to both Hoof Beats and the website as a writer for a decade prior to that. She has written for about 20 equine magazines during her career and was the recipient of a Hervey Award for a Hoof Beats story that appeared in 2016. A graduate of Northern Kentucky University, French also has extensive television experience that includes serving as associate producer, field producer, production assistant and stage manager for ESPN and NBC Sports Thoroughbred national broadcasts, program editor for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup from 2007 through 2015, and has produced the national newsfeed for both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup since 2013. Hoffman most recently taught a Race Track Marketing and Media Relations course as well as provided support for the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program's marketing efforts and its annual Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming. Previously, he worked in public relations and advertising agencies in varying capacities before being named Executive Editor of Hoof Beats magazine, a position that he held for almost 25 years, longer than any other editor since the magazine was established in 1933. In 2007, Hoffman was inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. Two years earlier, he was awarded Harness Tracks of America's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award for contributions to the literature of harness racing and he was president of American Horse Publications and served on its board for 15 years. Ken Weingartner

Maxus did no work to advance to Saturday's (May 5) $133,800 Dexter Cup final for harness racing 3-year-old trotters at Freehold Raceway, but the field's top money-earner might need to work a little bit extra to advance to the winner's circle this weekend. One of three horses to skip last weekend's Dexter Cup elimination thanks to a bye based on career earnings, Maxus drew post No. 7 for the final, which is the season's first stakes race on the road to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian. Only one starting position, post eight, has produced fewer winners than post seven at Freehold's half-mile oval. Vic's Winner, who won the eight-horse Dexter Cup elimination by a neck over On The Ropes in 1:57, will start from post No. 3. On The Ropes drew post one. Post one leads Freehold with a 22.5-percent win rate while post three is 15.4 percent and post seven is 5.2 percent. "You know how it is," said Jimmy Takter, who trains Maxus, "when you're racing on a half-mile track you want to see a decent post." Maxus, who is eligible to the Hambletonian and will be making his seasonal debut in the Dexter Cup, won three of 11 races last year and earned $162,836 for owners Brixton Medical Inc. and Christina Takter. Yannick Gingras will drive the colt in the Dexter Cup. A son of Muscle Hill out of Gerri's Joy, Maxus' wins last season included a division of the Bluegrass Stakes and elimination for the William Wellwood Memorial, where he finished third in the final. He also earned checks in the Peter Haughton Memorial and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. "He was a pretty solid horse last year," Takter said. "He's a pretty gutsy horse. He was always there last year. He raced most of the dances. He just needs a little luck. "He could be (a horse for the Hambletonian). He needs to develop a little bit, but it's a long time until August." Joining Maxus in receiving byes for the Dexter Cup were Julie Miller-trained Don and Trond Smedshammer-trained Perlucky, who both were winners on the New York Sire Stakes circuit last year. Vic's Winner heads to the final with four wins in his past five starts dating to last year. This season, the Joie De Vie Farm and Winbak Farm-owned colt has won two of three races. George Brennan, who guided Vic's Winner to victory in the elimination, will be back to drive the horse in the final. "He was very good," trainer Hermann Heitmann said about Vic's Winner in the elimination. "He showed good gate speed, he came right out, and George drove him just perfect. "I'm very lucky with the No. 3 (post). I'm very happy with that. Everybody will be going for position, we have to make sure we get a good trip out of it. But everything has worked out perfect so far." First race post time is 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, with the Dexter Cup carded as race 10. Two races prior to the Dexter Cup, the $66,400 Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old female trotters will be contested. Following is the field for the Dexter Cup. Vic's Winner, Thrust Control, Don, and Maxus are eligible to the Hambletonian. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1 - On The Ropes by Chapter Seven - Dan Dube - Ake Svanstedt 2 - Lindy's Big Bang by Explosive Matter - David Miller - R. Nifty Norman 3 - Vic's Winner by Credit Winner - George Brennan - Hermann Heitmann 4 - Thrust Control by Cantab Hall - Brian Sears - Marcus Melander 5 - Don by Credit Winner - Andy Miller - Julie Miller 6 - Credicone by Credtit Winner - Trond Smedshammer - Trond Smedshammer 7 - Maxus by Muscle Hill - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter 8 - Perlucky by Lucky Chucky - Jim Marohn Jr. - Trond Smedshammer For Saturday's complete Freehold entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

Hannelore Hanover is ready to step out. Filibuster Hanover might be ready to step up. Returning Horse of the Year Award-winner Hannelore Hanover makes her seasonal debut Saturday (May 5) at the Meadowlands Racetrack when she faces 11 male rivals in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters. Filibuster Hanover, last year's Little Brown Jug winner, also makes his 2018 bow at the Big M, taking on 10 foes in the first of two divisions of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old male pacers. Yannick Gingras will drive the Ron Burke trainees in their respective races, which will be contested at 1-1/8 miles because the fields exceeded 10 horses. First race post time is 7:15 p.m. (EDT). The $182,500 Cutler is race No. 7 while the $50,000 Graduate divisions are races six and nine. Hannelore Hanover won 10 of 17 races last year, finished second five times, and earned $1.04 million for owners Burke Racing Stable, the Weaver Bruscemi partnership, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. For her career, the daughter of Swan For All out of High Sobriety has won 36 of 58 races and $2.47 million. The 6-year-old female trotter enters the Cutler off two wins in qualifiers, the first in 1:53.2 and the most recent in 1:52.2. She will start the Cutler from post 12, the trailing position behind Mambo Lindy in post No. 2. "It's a 12-horse field at a mile and an eighth, so it's not the ideal scenario for a first start," said Gingras, who was the 2017 Driver of the Year. "But everyone is in the same boat. Both of her qualifiers were strong and I feel like she's ready for a good mile." Hannelore Hanover defeated male rivals multiple times last year, most notably in the finals of the Breeders Crown Open Trot and Maple Leaf Trot, as well as in the Allerage Farms Open Trot. She won the Allerage in 1:49.2, the fastest mile in history for a female trotter. "She got better and better as the year went on," Gingras said. "At the beginning of the year she was winning, but she was winning just because she's a great horse. At the end of the year I thought she was at her best. The little kinks she had went away and she finished the year real strong. She was at the top of her game. "She's started out the year better than she started it last year. Hopefully it leads to good things ahead of us. We'll be really happy if she comes back and does the same thing she did last year, winning those big races. If she does the same, I'll be more than happy." The complete field for the Cutler in post order finds Gural Hanover, Mambo Lindy, Sutton, Will Take Charge, Di Oggi, Crazy Wow, In Secret, Tuonoblu Rex, Warrawee Roo, and I Know My Chip on the gate, with Deep Impact and Hannelore Hanover in the second tier. As happy as Gingras is about Hannelore Hanover's return, he is also excited to see what Filibuster Hanover can do this season. Filibuster Hanover won five of 20 races last year and earned $724,029. His wins included the Little Brown Jug and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes. He finished second in the Monument Circle, Matron, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. Filibuster Hanover enters his Graduate division off two qualifiers. He finished second to Blood Line in 1:51.1 in his first outing, then exploded for a 1:49.3 win in his most recent effort, pacing his final quarter-mile in :25.2. "The horse has always had super ability," Gingras said. "When he trained down as a 2-year-old, Ronnie and I both agreed he was our favorite of the whole pack. It just took a long time for him to get rolling. I think he's matured into a really good horse. He's nice to drive, he's straight, and he's willing to do what you ask of him. "I think he's one that can take a step forward. He got better and better as last year went along. He wintered well and looks great. It's a group that I think is wide open, the aged division. I think there are a lot of good horses out there, but I don't think there's a great horse out there right now. If any horse takes a couple steps forward he could dominate the group, or at least do really well. I'm hoping that Filibuster is the horse." Joining Filibuster Hanover in the first division of the Graduate are Boogie Shuffle, Eddard Hanover, Blood Line, Bags To Riches, Funknwaffles, Photobombr Hanover, Odds On Delray, Highalator, Western Joe, and Classic Pro. The second division is Donttellmeagain, Mac's Jackpot, Pointomygranson, Mike's Z Tam, Sports Column, Music Is Art, Lawrencetown Beach, Rock N Tony, Daiymir, Talent Soup, Miso Fast, and Beyond Delight. For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

Barimah is no stranger to success in the Van Rose Memorial for older male pacers, but the Aussie import is going to have to find it as an outsider this year when he competes in the event on Saturday night (May 5) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Pocono hosts two $50,000 divisions of the Van Rose, which is the first leg of the newly created Great Northeast Open Series. Last year, Barimah started from post No. 1 and won the Van Rose Memorial Invitational at odds of 14-1 by defeating a field that included Sunfire Blue Chip, Somewhere In LA, Mach It So, McWicked, and Rockin Ron. On Saturday, Barimah starts from post seven in a seven-horse field, with Boston Red Rocks, Rodeo Romeo, Long Live Rock, Wakizashi Hanover, Always At My Place, and Dr J Hanover lining up to his inside. Barimah, with Pat Berry driving for trainer Scott DiDomenico, is 7-2 on the morning line. Dr J Hanover is the 5-2 favorite. "It looks tough," said DiDomenico, who trains Barimah for owners Brian Carsey, John McGill and Adam Friedland. "The draw wasn't very kind. There is a lot of speed inside of him. We'll see. He can sit off of them and probably do some good." Barimah heads to the Van Rose off a career-best 1:49.1 win in the Whata Baron Series championship at the Meadowlands on April 21. The 8-year-old gelding has won four of his past five starts and finished no worse than second in six consecutive races. "Nothing bothers him," DiDomenico said. "He's a really good horse. He's got his head out (of his stall) all day. You can do whatever you want with him. He's just a pleasure. He doesn't have any bad habits. He's very sensible and very likable. He's a little grabby in the race at some times, but I'd like to have a few more like him." Barimah is a son of Bettor's Delight out of Classy Sheila. He won 10 races and $102,840 Down Under before arriving in the U.S. in 2016. Since then, he has won 14 of 54 starts and $200,705. "I love his heart," DiDomenico said. "He digs in and wants to fight horses off. He wants to pass horses. He's got a big desire to win." The second Van Rose Memorial division includes George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series champion Keystone Velocity, who is the 2-1 favorite. Rounding out the seven-horse field are Rockin Ron, Mach It So, Bettor Memories, Rockeyed Optimist and New Zealand-breds Super Imposed and Christen Me. In addition, Pocono hosts four $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series championships for trotters and pacers. I M Fishin is the 5-2 favorite in the race for female trotters, Archibald is the 5-2 pick among male trotters, Riggle Wealth is the 5-2 favorite among male pacers and Sharen Hanover is 5-2 among female pacers. First-race post time is 7:30 p.m. (EDT). For the complete list of entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

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