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Friday night featured the harness racing final of the Holiday Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Horses that battled it out in two weeks worth of $7,500 per division squared off in the seven-horse $20,000 final as closing weekend of the meet got underway. Brett Crawford's Nitro Glistening (Badlands Nitro) was a two-leg winner in the series and was one of two of the final's participants seeking a sweep. Nitro Glistening drew the outside post in the final but was aided by the scratch of a rival. Crawford blasted the race's 3-5 betting favorite out early but they found themselves parked out in a first quarter of 27.3. After making the lead, Nitro Glistening enjoyed a bit of a breather before being asked for his best around the final turn. The five year old pacer responded and kicked away in the stretch to win decisively, stopping the timer in 1:56.1 to complete his series sweep. UF Lana Rae (Jimmy Devaux) finished second in each leg of the series and wound up as the runner-up in the final as well. Hawaii And Sun (Frank Coppola Jr) earned the show spot. The exacta paid $10.40 and the triple came back $24.60. Nitro Glistening's victory is the latest on the season for Brett Crawford who has enjoyed a breakout campaign as a driver in 2018 and will be recognized with the Johnny Page Award for the track's top breakthrough driver at the conclusion of the meet. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga as closing weekend for the '18 campaign continues. First post is set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

Miss Muscle (Muscle Mass) went coast to coast in her division of the harness racing co-featured trotting events on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel to complete a double for trainer-driver John Stark Jr. Stark's Miss Muscle lasted on the lead as her race's even money betting favorite on Thursday to score in 2:01.2 through a light snow in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was the sixth win on the season for the three year old filly. Jeter's Way (Muscles Yankee) also went wire-to-wire in an $11,000 division of the co-featured races for New York sired trotters. One of the nominees for Three Year Old Trotter of the Year at Saratoga this season, Jeter's Way had little difficulty recording his eighth victory in the 2018 campaign when he scored in 1:59.3, the fastest time among the winners of the matinee's co-features. While in someone limited starts, Stark enjoyed a strong '18 season led in large part by his group of young trotters some of which were on display on the Thursday card. Jeter's Way and Miss Muscle teamed up for fourteen victories this season. Phil Fluet's Lady Macbeth (Deweycheatumnhowe) prevailed in the other co-feature on the card, toughing out a first-over journey to win in 2:00.2. Live racing continues on Friday night as we head into closing weekend for the season at the Spa. First post time on Friday is set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

The Royal Harry (RC Royalty) completed the sweep of the harness racing Holiday Trotting Series at Saratoga on Wednesday afternoon. The former Hambletonian participant didn't have his best year in 2018 and thus qualified to compete in the Holiday Trot which began last month. Returning to the stable of trainer Andy Sardella, The Royal Harry went coast to coast in both legs of the $7,500 per Holiday Trot and headed into Wednesday's final as the one to beat. The Royal Harry surged out to the early lead, which is his normal method, but was aided by an early break by Sweet Royalty, the public's even money favorite in the race. The Royal Harry sealed the deal on Wednesday by reporting home in 1:56.3 to complete the sweep. JS Trotting Bob (Phil Fluet) was a leg one winner and leg two runner-up and finished second in the $20,000 Final while longshot CC Bank (Jay Randall) earned the show spot. The Royal Harry's fourth win of the year set a new seasonal mark and resulted in him adding his name to the list of previous Holiday Trot winners comprised of Under The Stars and Wrightwood, both of whom were driven to their victories by Phil Fluet. The Royal Harry was piloted to his trio of series' wins by leading driver Billy Dobson. The series champ paid $4.40 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $25.60 and $250.50, respectively. The $10,000 Holiday Trot Consolation went to Wicked Nick. Brett Crawford trains and drives the four year old Wicked Nick who raced parked the mile but overpowered the competition in the final half before drawing away to win by open lengths in 2:00. Wicked Nick was the 7-5 betting favorite in the Holiday Trot Consolation. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

The sensational Artful Way (Artistic Fella) was at it again on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Jackie Greene trainee was last year's Horse of the Year and is a two-time defending Pacer of the Year at the Spa. He is poised to take home both honors again in 2018. Artful Way is a regular favorite in the local feature but on Saturday night was dismissed at odds of 5-1 in the $20,000 Open Pace. Frank Coppola Jr. marched Artful Way out early and wound up getting a pocket ride for the local superstar. Starznheaven (Jimmy Devaux) cut the mile and set a sensible pace throughout but proved no match for Artful Way once that one popped the pocket around the final turn. Getting up to prevail in 1:53.2, Artful Way recorded his seventh win of the year and his tenth in the local Open! Starznheaven finished second while invader Hug The Wind N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Artful Way paid an unheard of, for him, $13.00 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $71.50 and $324, respectively. Artful Way may well be on his way to becoming the first horse in track history to earn Pacer of the Year honors in three consecutive years and perhaps just the second horse ever to be named Horse of the Year in successive seasons at the Spa. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:15pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

It had been awhile since Betabcool N (Bettor's Delight) recorded a win in the harness racing local Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Jose Godinez-trained mare won the feature three times early in the season but had gone winless in the Open since April 13th, albeit in limited tries, heading into Friday night's action. Betabcool N had a second and a third place finish in her two most recent starts in the Open and was dismissed at odds of 7-1 in a six-horse feature on Friday night. Bruce Aldrich Jr. left a bit with Betabcool N but they wound up coming away third as the top two choices in the wagering came away one-two. Betabcool N made her move as the feature field made its way towards the three-quarter pole and the eight year old New Zealand-bred mare paced right past the leader. Longshot OK Jewel (Jimmy Devaux) came from well off the pace and tried to get to Betabcool N in the stretch but it was to no avail. Betabcool N's fourth Open win of the year came in 1:54.4. OK Jewel was the runner-up while Culinary Delight N (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. Betabcool N paid $16.40 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $185 and $395, respectively. Godinez has won the local Fillies and Mares Open seven times this season, three times with Sally Fletcher A and now four with Betabcool N. Godinez and Aldrich also teamed up for a victory in the $15,000 Winners Over for fillies and mares on Friday night as veteran distaffer Glenferrie Bronte N (Changeover) lived up to the hype at odds of 3-5 to give her connections a double on the night. With the earnings from her score, Glenferrie Bronte N moved her career bankroll to over the $300,000 mark. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

Thursday afternoon's harness racing matinee at Saratoga Casino Hotel featured three divisions of the second leg of the Holiday Trotting Series. Horses had their final chance to secure points towards next week's $20,000 Series Final. Each of the three divisions on Thursday went for a purse of $7,500. The Royal Harry (RC Royalty) stole the show in leg two as he cruised to a wire-to-wire romp for the second consecutive week. Leading driver Billy Dobson has piloted The Royal Harry, who returned to the stable of trainer Andy Sardella a couple of weeks ago, to the back-to-back jacks. On Thursday, the young trotter, who participated in the 2016 Hambletonian, never had an anxious moment as he romped in 1:57.4, the fastest of the leg two divisions to stamp himself as the one to beat in next week's Final. In the victory, The Royal Harry bested the race's favorite JS Trotting Bob (Phil Fluet) who was a fellow leg one winner but came up second best on Thursday. Sweet Royalty (Shawn Gray) went coast-to-coast as his division's 1-5 betting favorite on Thursday as the leg one runner-up jogged in 1:59 on a chilly December afternoon in Saratoga. The final division of the day went the way of The Cuse Is Loose (Brian Cross) who became the second repeat winner in the legs of the series behind an open length score in the matinee's finale. The Andy Byler-trained The Cuse Is Loose cruised to victory despite drawing the outside post and did so in 2:00.3 while the public's 2-5 betting favorite. The third annual installment of the $20,000 Holiday Trot Final will take place next week during closing week of the 2018 racing season at the Spa. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a first post time of 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

Larry Stalbaum's Crockets Cullen N (Christian Cullen) won his first local harness racing Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel in mid-October. Following a third place finish the week after, the seven year old New Zealand invader fell sick and wound up taking a month off to recover. Stalbaum qualified Crockets Cullen N at Monticello in anticipation of his return to the Saratoga Open on Saturday night. Crockets Cullen N was assigned post four for his try in the $20,000 feature and Stalbaum unleashed him early. After making an easy lead, Crockets Cullen N yielded to soon-to-be three-time Pacer of the Year Artful Way (Frank Coppola Jr) who wound up on the front end. Artful Way set honest but relatively comfortable fractions throughout and after checking in at three quarters in 1:24.4 braced for Crockets Cullen N who was keen to go. Stalbaum popped the pocket at the head of the stretch and the battle ensued. Crockets Cullen N got up in the nick of time to edge the track's defending Horse of the Year to score in 1:52.2 for his second victory in the local Open. Artful Way came up second best while Lachie Maguire N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Pulling off a minor upset, Crockets Cullen N paid $9.30 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $48.80 and $207, respectively. The win was one of three on the card for Stalbaum who won the $16,050 Winners Over with Chumlee A and a conditional race with his O'Sundland who came from off the pace to prevail on Saturday night. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Casa Miasa (Driven To Win) was named this week as one of the harness racing nominees for Filly and Mare Claiming Pacer of the Year at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Evan Hoagland trainee spent a chunk of her season competing in claimers but in recent weeks has gone on a tear while racing in the conditional ranks. Casa Miasa has pulled off upsets in two of the three starts heading into Friday night's try in the $14,000 Winners Over for fillies and mares. After coming from off the pace to win at odds of 18-1 and 20-1, Casa Miasa vaulted into top-flight competition and on Friday proved more than capable. With last week's Open winner Culinary Delight N (Larry Stalbaum) moving first over while trying to go last to first, Casa Miasa slid out to pick up that one's cover approaching the half mile pole in Friday's feature. Culinary Delight N cleared the lead around the final turn but Casa Miasa just kept plugging away before surging by in the stretch to win in 1:55.2. For driver Evan Hoagland, it was win number five locally this year and his sixth overall in 2018. The 22 year old Hoagland just got his 'A' license and has thrived of late while piloting his trainee Casa Miasa. The six year old mare paid $48.70 to win in what was yet another upset score. Culinary Delight N finished second in the Friday feature while Bazooka Terror (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. The exacta returned $482 while the triple came back $3,915. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga featuring a pick five carryover of $3,833. First post time is 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

Cherry Peep (Conway Hall) continued her winning ways on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Amy Dowd-trained filly prevailed for the third time in her last four starts while competing in one of the $11,000 harness racing co-features for New York sired trotters. Driver Jay Randall was aggressive in the early going with Cherry Peep as he moved her out to the lead heading to the opening quarter, bypassing the race's favorite en route to the front-end. Once she got there, Cherry Peep was game, rebuffing the first-over challenge of a longshot before drawing away at the head of the stretch. The public's 2-5 betting favorite Notmeitsyou (Phil Fluet) never got close to the eventual winner who stopped the timer in 1:59.3 and wound up second-best. Cherry Peep now has three wins in six starts since being acquired by Dowd last month. Absolut Uncertenty (Muscles Yankee) went coast-to-coast in one of the other divisions of Thursday's co-features as he served as one of two winners on the card for trainer John Berger. Absolut Uncertenty's win came in 1:59.3 which serves as a new lifetime mark for the three year old trotter. Berger teamed up with leading driver Billy Dobson again later in the card for a win with pacer Our Art And Heaven who sprung the upset at odds of 9-1. The third co-feature on the matinee program was won by John Stark Jr's Miss Muscle (Muscle Mass) who overcame her outside post to secure her fifth victory of the season. Miss Muscle was dismissed at odds of 11-1 in her Thursday score. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga and will feature a pick-five carryover of $1,281.41. First post time is set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

Dragin The Wagon (Angus Hall) became the fourth different horse to win the Open Trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel in the last four installments of the regular Sunday feature when he went coast-to-coast. Phil Fluet trains and drives Dragin The Wagon who had finished second a handful of times this season but had yet to secure a victory in the local Open heading into Sunday's try in the $20,000 feature. Fluet moved the veteran trotter out to the early lead in what became a five-horse Open following a scratch. Dragin The Wagon enjoyed comfortable first-half fractions and after clocking lap one in 58.2 wasn't challenged until three quarters when the race's favorite Cash Me Out (Mark Beckwith) came out of third to pressure the leader. Dragin The Wagon proved to be too tough for his rivals on Sunday as he dug in to score his first local Open win of the season, stopping the timer in 1:57 over a track labeled 'good.' Cash Me Out came up second-best for the second time in as many Sunday's while Mandeville (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot. Dragin The Wagon paid $9.70 to win in the mild upset and led an exacta with the favorite second that returned $21.60. Live racing resumes on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:15pm start to the matinee. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

JK Panache (Art Major) is once again a harness racing nominee for Pacer of the Year at Saratoga Casino Hotel and the ultra-consistent Dave Dewhurst trainee again showed why on Saturday night. A formidable threat in the Open Pace at the Spa for the last several years, JK Panache was the second-choice in the wagering when bet down to odds of 5-2 in Saturday's installment of the $20,000 Open. Driver Shawn Gray got the nine year old away well and sat patiently in the early going before springing JK Panache into action heading to the half. With longshot Yonkers invader Badix Hanover (Bruce Aldrich Jr) on the front end, JK Panache did what he always does. The classmaster attempted to grind the top one into submission while chipping away at the lead before putting him away in mid-stretch. JK Panache got up in time to prevail in 1:52.2 to record his fourth Open Pace win of the season and eighth victory overall. Though his last local Open win came in early May, JK Panache has been a regular runner-up in the Saturday feature and has recorded some victories in the Winners Over along the way as well. Badix Hanover was a strong second in his local debut on Saturday while Ourlittlegeneral A (Jordan Derue) followed the winner's cover to wind up finishing third. Paying $7.10 to win, JK Panache led an exacta and triple that came back $77.50 and $621, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with first post time set for 12:15pm. Mike Sardella

Culinary Delight N (Lis Mara) came from well off the pace to record the win in Friday's Fillies and Mares Harness Racing Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Larry Stalbaum owns, trains and drives the eight year old New Zealand bred who drew post five in the six-horse feature on Friday. Culinary Delight N got away fifth and sat patiently near the back of the pack as the race's favorite Clear Idea (Billy Dobson) was carving out the fractions. The race's 3-5 public choice in the wagering, Clear Idea didn't face a challenge before checking in at three quarters in 1:25.3 on a cold November night in Saratoga. Betabcool (Bruce Aldrich Jr) was the first to move on the outside, coming out after the leader approaching three quarters. Culinary Delight picked up the cover of that rival and they began to close-in in tandem on Clear Idea around the final turn. Culinary Delight N came charging home and got by Clear Idea in the final strides before stopping the timer in 1:54.2 to record her second win in the local Fillies and Mares Open on the season. Culinary Delight N paid $16.00 to win in the upset score and led an exacta with the favored Clear Idea second that returned $41.00. Betabcool N earned the show spot and completed a $130.50 triple in the Open for distaffers. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

Trainer Rene Allard scored a pair of wins with the two trotters he brought to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Volare (Conway Hall) cruised to a wire-to-wire victory score as the fastest of the winners of three co-features for New York sired trotters on the chilly afternoon at the Spa. Allard brought Volare to town as the trotter looked to shake what had been some second and third-itis over the past couple of months. Leading driver Billy Dobson wasted little time moving the race's favorite out to the early lead and once the four year old got there, he had no trouble coasting to victory in 1:57.3. Volare's win came in one of the three $11,000 co-features and was the fastest among them on the matinee card. Allard's other victory came with Haveitalltogether (Cantab Hall) who toughed it out first over in a $9,000 event for young trotters. Volare was the by far the fastest of the three winners of the Wednesday co-features but John Stark Jr's Miss Muscle (Muscle Mass) and Notmeitsyou (Chapter Seven) also secured victories in the $11,000 trio of features on the matinee card. Miss Muscle went coast-to-coast for Stark as the three year old filly continued her solid sophomore campaign with what was her fourth victory of the '18 season. Miss Muscle stopped the timer in 2:00.1 as her race's 2-1 favorite. The third co-feature went the way of Notmeitsyou who lived up to the hype as a 1-5 betting favorite on Wednesday as the three year old drew away late to prevail in 1:58. It was the second win for Notmeitsyou in as many weeks in the $11,000 co-feature as the sophomore continues what has been a terrific run since coming to Saratoga in September for trainer-driver Phil Fluet. Live racing resumes on Friday evening with first post time set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Artful Way's unbelievable run in the Open Pace continued on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel- a run that has lasted three years! The Jackie Greene trainee was at it again on Saturday as he got away last in the $20,000 Open Pace at the Spa. Driver Frank Coppola Jr. sat patiently with the superstar pacer before moving him second-over approaching the half. Following the live cover of another perennial star JK Panache (Shawn Gray), Artful Way tipped off his cover around the final turn and surged before getting up in just the nick of time. The six year old stopped the timer in 1:52.4 in what was his ninth win in the local Open this year and sixteenth victory on the season overall. The Pacer of the Year at Saratoga in '16 and the Pacer and Horse of the Year in '17, Artful Way is putting the finishing touches on what will be his third consecutive award for top local pacers. JK Panache continued the big year of his own with a second-place finish in the feature while Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. Artful Way returned $5.70 to win as the race's second-choice in the wagering and led an exacta and triple that paid $15.20 and $60, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a first post time set for 12:15pm. lla by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Round The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) has been nothing shy of sensational since being acquired by owner-trainer John Macdonald at the beginning of October. The three year old filly went three-for-three at Vernon Downs with Macdonald in the sulky before coming to Saratoga Casino Hotel towards the end of last month. Jay Randall picked up the drive and sat behind Round The Beach as she scored convincingly in 1:53.4 in her Spa debut. The filly secured her sixth consecutive victory last weekend when her trainer piloted the rising star to victory despite a step up in class. This Friday night, Round The Beach was vaulted into the Fillies and Mares Open for the first time and was tasked with taking on some terrific mares. Randall was aggressive in the early going and moved Round The Beach to the top in a first quarter clocked in 27.2. The filly traveled unopposed throughout the middle half and after checking in at three quarters in 1:25.1 stepped on the gas when met with the challenge of pocket-sitter Betabcool N (Bruce Aldrich Jr). Meanwhile, the race's odds-on favorite Seventimesavirgin (Billy Dobson) began working closer while trying to pull off a last-to-first move in the feature. Round The Beach again proved up to the task as she extended her win streak to seven since the move to the Macdonald barn, wiring the field in 1:54.1 in the $18,000 Friday feature. Round The Beach, who paid $9.30 in her Open score, kept reinsman Jay Randall red hot. The Saratoga veteran piloted four winners on Thursday afternoon and has had a terrific 2018 as a whole. Betabcool N was the runner-up in the feature while the favored Seventimesavirgin had to settle for third. Live racing continues on Saturday night with a 6:45pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

2018 has been a renaissance year at Saratoga Casino Hotel for veteran driver Jay Randall. The 57-year-old reinsman has surged up into fifth place in the local driver standings in what has been his best season in quite some time. On Thursday afternoon, Randall piloted two of the three winners in co-featured $11,000 races for New York sired trotters. The Amy Dowd-trained Cherry Peep (Conway Hall) prevailed last week when Randall got a pocket trip for the three year old filly who surged up the passing lane en route to recording a victory in 1:59.1. On Thursday, Randall once again situated Cherry Peep into the pocket before closing up the inside to stop the timer in 1:59.1 in a near carbon copy of last week's win. Randall piloted Grammy Winner (Credit Winner) to a wire-to-wire score in the second co-feature of the day as the Todd Buter-trained trotter handled her step up in class without difficulty. The three year old filly won out of the non-winners of two race lifetime condition and moved into the winners of two but not more than five featured class where she went coast-to-coast on Thursday, scoring in 1:59 with Randall in tow. The win was the first of back-to-back jacks on the card for Buter and Randall who teamed up for a score with veteran trotter Stitch In Time on the matinee program. Randall completed a Thursday grand slam when he piloted Jordan Derue trainee Love Yourself (Rock N Roll Heaven) to a first-over score. The sophomore pacer overcame his outside post, prevailing despite a difficult journey in a 56.3 back half en route to the win which wrapped up a monster day for Randall in what has been a sensational '18 campaign for the local reinsman. The third co-feature on the card went the way of Notmeitsyou (Chapter Seven) who overcame his outside post to shake his recent seconditis for trainer-driver Phil Fluet. Notmeitsyou lasted on the lead in what was the fastest of the co-features on Thursday, scoring in 1:58.3 to break his string of five consecutive second-place finishes. Live racing continues on Friday at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

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