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Plainville, MA --- The $1.8 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) reconvened at Plainridge Park on Sunday (Oct. 20) after a one week sabbatical, with five harness racing divisions of 2-year-olds competing for $161,450 in total purses. The strongest performances of the day were turned in by Han Solo (Mister Big-Leah) and Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) who combined, tied or set four race records. The 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings went two divisions and Han Solo was victorious in his $22,100 split after a hard-fought race. R Maddy Blue Chip (Drew Monti) left and cut the mile, giving Han Solo (Kevin Switzer Jr.) a perfect pocket trip. R Maddy Blue Chip set a moderate pace of :27.1, :57.1 and 1:25.2 while Han Solo drafted closely behind, waiting to make his move. At the top of the stretch Switzer tipped Han Solo and started driving him hard down the lane. Monti was also heavily urging R Maddy Blue Chip and the two were almost even heading to the wire. But Han Solo got the advantage before tripping the beam and won by one-half length in 1:54.1. The time was a new lifetime mark for Han Solo, a new MASS stake record for 2-year-old pacing colts and tied his own track record for 2-year-old pacing colts. It was the fifth win in the last six starts for Han Solo ($5.40) who now has total earnings of $59,837 for owner, trainer and breeder Monique Cohen. In the $39,200 division for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings, Life Is A Feast (Howard Parker) left from post five and was pushed to the front. From there he set quarters of :28, :57.2 and 1:26.1 before turning for home and extending his lead to 1-3/4 lengths at the wire in 1:55.4. The time tied Life Is A Feast's lifetime mark and also tied the MASS stake record and the Plainridge Park track record for 2-year-old trotting geldings, both of which he set earlier this year. It was the fourth win in a row and third straight in the MASS series for Life Is Feast ($3.00) who pushed his earnings to $63,475 for owners Al Ross and Paul Fontaine. George Ducharme trains the Karen Carroll-bred winner. The $40,600 2-year-old pacing filly division went to Odds On Orlando (Captaintreacherous-Lindys Old Lady) for the third straight time this year. Driver Drew Monti took Odds On Orlando back to fourth while Mini Pini (Ivan Davies) and Rojas Blue Chip (Kevin Switzer Jr.) argued for the lead to the quarter in a swift :26.3. Mini Pini finally grabbed the front and the field then went to the half in single file in :55.2. After the five-eighths pole Rojas Blue Chip came back out to challenge Mini Pini along with I Am Wonder Woman (Wally Watson). This forced Odds On Orlando to go three-deep at the three-quarter pole and around the entire turn. Outside of her four-wide was Ry's Red Rocket (Matty Athearn) who was now even with the other three fillies. At the top of the stretch Odds On Orlando swelled up and paced away from the field under a line-drive to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:55, which was a new lifetime mark. Odds On Orlando ($2.20) remains perfect in Massachusetts while earning $62,416 for owner Odds On Racing and trainer Tony Alagna. Lindy Farms of Connecticut bred Odds On Orlando. The other $21,750 2-year-old pacing colt and gelding division went to Finnbar (Real Desire-Unbeachable) who scored his first stake victory. Mcbeantown (Mitchell Cushing) led the way to the half in :57.4 with the field in single file behind. They remained that way until the five-eighths pole where driver Ivan Davies pulled Finnbar from third, took the lead in the turn and cleared the front by the top of the stretch. From there he cruised home down the lane a wrapped-up two-length winner in 1:55.1, which was a new lifetime mark. Finnbar ($4.00) is owned by Nancy Longobardi and is trained by his driver Davies. Steve O'Toole was the breeder of Finnbar. The $37,800 division of the 2-year-old trotting fillies was the lone non-betting event and it went to Without A Warning, who remains perfect this year in the stake. Leaving from the pylons, Without A Warning (Shawn Gray) led every step of the way while cutting fractions of :29.1, :58.2 and 1:28. He rounded the last turn and trotted away in the stretch while opening up a 3-1/4 length margin of victory in 1:58. Without A Warning has now earned $136,160 this year for owner Ray Campbell Jr., who also bred the filly. George Ducharme is the trainer. The 3-year-old divisions will compete on Monday (Oct. 21) when live racing resumes at Plainridge Park. There are three non-betting events with post times of 1 p.m., 1:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. The fourth division goes as race one on the regular betting card with a post time of 2 p.m. All eight divisions of the $800,000 (est.) MASS finals will be held at Plainridge Park on Monday (Oct. 28). By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- With two of the three preliminary harness racing legs of the $1.8 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) in the books, six stake records have been either broken or tied and leaders have emerged in several divisions. With the stake taking a break from action this week, many of its competitors have too and it's a good time to evaluate what has happened so far. The 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings have had the largest field of eligibles and as a result, have been racing two divisions each week. And the four races held in the first two legs have yielded four different winners. Han Solo (Mister Big-Leah) won in week one in a new stake record of 1:54.4 with Spatterdash (Deuce Seelster-Poster Hanover) winning the other division, but in a much slower 1:56.3. But the story in that second division was fourth place finisher R Maddy Blue Chip (American Ideal-Frontierpan) and third place finisher Kevmarvalous (Delmarvalous-Shady Sabrina) who both emerged the following week. R Maddy Blue Chip lowered the stake record to 1:54.3 in the second leg on the strength of a dominant performance while Kevmarvalous also had a coming-out party, winning in 1:56.3 and blowing up the tote board at 45-1. The points are well spread among this group with the top four currently being Han Solo (75), Kevmarvalous (62), R Maddy Blue Chip (58) and Spatterdash (58). The 2-year-old pacing filly division has been a one-horse show; Odds On Orlando (Captaintreacherous-Lindys Old Lady). Both weeks Odds On Orlando has come from off the pace to win in consecutive lifetime marks. After having been stretched out in Lexington for three starts prior to coming to Massachusetts, she has finished very strong in her two efforts at Plainridge and remains the perfect leader with 100 points. Currently sitting in third place with 26 points is She's A Fireball (Western Maverick-Fire Can Fly). This filly finished a very strong second in the first MASS leg before making an untimely break in the second. On Saturday (Oct. 12) she won the $55,073 final of 2-year-old pacing filly division of the Maine Sire Stakes (MSS) in a new lifetime mark with a strong first-over trip. That race will definitely set her up for a big effort in the next leg in Massachusetts and moving forward into the final. The 2-year-old trotting colt and gelding division has been a two-horse race so far. Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) took a new lifetime mark of 1:55.4 in the first leg which also set a new MASS stake record and a new Plainridge Park track record for 2-year-old trotting geldings. In the second leg, Crazy For Luca (Crazed-Teachmehowto Lindy) earned a hard fought 1:57.3 victory over Life Is A Feast to take his first lifetime win, which also set a new track record for 2-year-old trotting colts. As a result each horse now has 75 points and look to continue a head to head battle down to the final. The 2-year-old trotting fillies has been dominated by Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) who had won two straight starts and has tied the stake and track record of 1:57.3 in the process. However RT's Warrior has become an emerging force. RT's Warrior (Noble Venture-Oye Oye) has finished third and second behind Without A Warning through two legs but the filly just won the $55,045 MSS final on Saturday (Oct. 12) by 3-1/4 lengths in a new lifetime mark. When the MASS reconvenes next week, that race should provide forward momentum in RT's Warrior's continued development. Moving on to the sophomore class, all four 3-year-old divisions have seen two-time winners after the first two legs and two of the four were 2-year-old MASS champions that are looking to repeat. 3-year-old trotting gelding Simple Kaos (RC Royalty-Ksenia) has won back to back legs and leads with 100 points. The first week he was a wrapped-up winner in 1:54.3 and that set a new track record at Plainridge Park for 3-year-old trotting geldings. Simple Kaos was the freshman Mass champion and is well on his way to taking another crown. Jake G's Champion (RC Royalty-Super Starlet) and The Fixer (Trixton-Give You My Word) have been second and third once each and look to be the main rivals in here. Each currently have 37 points. 3-year-old pacing filly Karan's Choice (Sportswriter-Denverlove) is the other 2018 champion and she is off to a great start this year as well. After sweating out a mere head victory over So Beautiful (So Surreal-Leanback Coco) in week one, Karan's Choice rebounded to a more handy 1-1/2 length win over So Beautiful once again in week two. These two top the points standings with 100 and 50 points respectively heading into week three. The 3-year-old colt and gelding pace has a developing dynamic between last year's top two finishers that should provide an interesting race to the final this fall. Current MASS leader CBF Bantam (Baron Biltmore-Cohenucopia) is two for two and alone at the top with 100 points. But Victoria's Maverick (Western Maverick-Perfect Launch), who was the 2-year-old champion and has finished second and third behind CBF Bantam this year, just won the $82,195 MSS final on Saturday (Oct. 12). In that race CBF Bantam, who also competed, made a break at the start and finished third at the wire. This rivalry will renew next week and should keep this division very competitive through the final. Victoria's Maverick is tied for second with Levi (Pet Rock-Beam Of Joy), who just won an overnight race on Sunday (Oct. 13), with 37 points each. The MASS 3-year-old filly trotters have been dominated by Crystalline (Chapter Seven-Royalty Free) who has not only won two weeks in a row, but has also set two consecutive stake records in the process. After going winless in 2018 and finishing second and third twice each in the MASS, Crystalline has come back strong in 2019, winning six races as a dominant force in the New York Sire Stake (NYSS) Excelsior series and now in the MASS. Crystalline has 100 points and is ahead of Ev's Girl (Crazed-Lindy's Lullaby) and Mother Teresa (Father Patrick-Highscore Kemp) who each have 37. To date Shawn Gray is the leading driver in the MASS with six wins and is ahead of Drew Monti and Jimmy Whittemore who are tied with three and Jim Hardy who has won two. The top trainer in the series so far is George Ducharme with seven victories while Tony Alagna, David Crochere and Jim Hardy are tied for second with two apiece. The series will resume on Sunday (Oct. 20) at Plainridge Park at 2 p.m. For a complete set of Massachusetts Sire Stake points listings and all the remaining race dates, please log onto the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts website at www.sominc.net and click on the links on the homepage. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- Monday (Sept. 30) was the second day of the $1.8 million (est.) Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) at Plainridge Park featuring the 2-year-old harness racing performers and that group picked up where their 3-year-old counterparts left off on Sunday (Sept. 29); breaking records. Topping the list were Life Is A Feast and Han Solo who put on brilliant performances in their non-betting events and etched themselves into the Massachusetts record books. In the $38,500 trot for 2-year-old colts and geldings, Life Is A Feast (Howard Parker) went gate to wire uncontested, and pulled away in the last half of the race to be the easiest of winners by 4-1/4 lengths in 1:55.4. Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) not only extended his current win streak to three, he also took a new lifetime mark, set a new MASS stake record and a new Plainridge Park track record for 2-year-old trotting geldings. Both former marks were 1:56.3 set by Hashtagmadeyalook in 2017. Life Is A Feast is owned by Al Ross and Paul Fontaine and is trained by George Ducharme. Karen Carroll bred the gelding. Then in the first $22,100 division of 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings, Han Solo (Kevin Switzer Jr.) undertook an identical race strategy by taking the front, leading at every station and maintaining a 1-1/4 length lead to the wire where he stopped the timer in 1:54.4. Han Solo (Mister Big-Leah) is now on a four-race win streak and with this victory, set a new MASS stake record for 2-year-old pacing colts. He broke the former mark of 1:56 set by Ideal Smile in 2011 and later matched by Twelve in 2017. Monique Cohen bred, owns and trains Han Solo. The next three stake races were on the regular pari-mutuel card and they returned some healthy payoffs for the betting faithful. In the second $22,450 division for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings the 38-1 Spatterdash (Mike Stevenson) got away sixth while the heavily favored R Maddy Blue Chip (Gary Mosher) cut all the fractions. Stevenson pulled Spatterdash second-over behind Kevmarvelous (Kevin Switzer Jr.) at the three-quarters, then tipped three-deep into the stretch and barreled down the lane to beat a fast closing McBeantown (Mitchell Cushing) at the wire in 1:56.3. It was the first lifetime win and mark for Spatterdash ($78.00) who is owned and trained by Ralph Anderson. Anderson also bred Spatterdash (Deuce Seelster-Poster Hanover). The $41,300 pace for 2-year-old fillies was a full field of nine that I Am Wonder Woman (Wally Watson) took to the half in :56.4. Odds On Orlando (Drew Monti) was out and rolling at that point and she continued to grind around the second turn, up the backstretch and to the three-quarters where she found welcomed cover from the favored Ry's Red Rocket (Matty Athearn) who popped the pocket for the advance. Positions remained the same until the top of the stretch where Ry's Red Rocket opened up a two length lead. However Odds On Orlando was relentless in pursuit, tracking her down and catching the leader at the wire to win in 1:56.1. It was the first lifetime win and mark for Odds On Orlando ($28.40) who is owned by Odds On Racing and trained by Tony Alagna. Lindy Farms of Connecticut bred Odds On Orlando (Captaintreacherous-Lindys Old Lady). The only favored winner of the day came in the $39,900 2-year-old filly trot where Without A Warning (Shawn Gray) got away 10-lengths behind the front-running RT's Warrior (Matty Athearn). She eventually tripped-out a gapped third-over from the half to the three-quarters where the field finally bunched in 1:27.4. Gray tipped Without A Warning three-deep into the last turn and proceeded to make up ground. At the head of the lane Without A Warning fanned five-wide and was in full stride; flying down the lane under a hand drive from Gray and passing everyone at the wire in 1:58.4. Without A Warning ($2.20) scored her first lifetime win for owner Ray Campbell Jr. and trainer George Ducharme. Campbell also bred Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration). After only nine races in the first leg of the MASS this year, three stake and two track records have already been rewritten between the two age groups. The Massachusetts Sire Stakes will continue with the second leg of the series next week at Plainridge Park. On Sunday (Oct. 6) the 3-year-olds will compete in divisions worth $35,000 (added) and on Monday (Oct. 7) the 2-year-olds will reconvene and go for purses of $35,000 (added) each. Post time for both days is 2 p.m. The next day of live racing at Plainridge Park is Thursday (Oct. 2) with post time for the first race at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA --- The 2019 Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) will get underway on Sunday (Sept. 29) at Plainridge Park, but the 2-year-olds won't convene for their first leg until Monday (Sept. 30). There are 96 eligibles that make up this first-year harness racing group of competitors and some have already been performing at a high level. 2-year-old pacing colts Han Solo (Mister Big-Leah) would have to be considered the favorite of this group going in. He finished second in an elimination of the Lawrence B. Shepard stake at Yonkers in July and was defeated by only 2-1/2 lengths in that final. Since coming back to Plainridge he won two out of three legs of the Nauset Light series plus the final and set a new track record for 2-year-old pacing colts in the process (1:54.1). With four wins in eights starts, he is ready to take on all comers. Monique Cohen trains Han Solo. R Maddy Blue Chip (American Ideal-Frontierpan) has been racing on the New York Sire Stake (NYSS) circuit against some very tough competition this summer. He did get checks in three out of those four starts and showed good speed both leaving and closing. He had been off since mid-August but qualified handily at Harrah's Philadelphia in 1:56.2 and has since won in 1:58.4 by four lengths in a tightener at Farmington, Maine. He looks ready to compete. R Maddy Blue Chip is trained by Joe Nelson. Corporal Cole (Sunshine Beach-Get A Cab) has only four starts lifetime but the last two sent some notice. After taking his maiden win in a come-from-behind effort of 1:57.1, Corporal Cole came right back on the front-end and dropped almost two-seconds, winning in 1:55.3 by open lengths. If he continues to progress it could make this division a little more interesting. Corporal Cole is trained by Charlene Cushing. Wesley Snoops (Western Maverick-Secure Hanover) has been busy in the Maine Sire Stakes (MSS) this summer and is currently third in the points standings there. Although his lifetime mark of 2:00.2 taken at Farmington in his last start doesn't seem too speedy, he has yet to hit the big track and it's there he could move to that next level. Wesley Snoops is trained by Ivan Davies. 2-year-old pacing fillies Ry's Red Rocket (Sunshine Beach-Mo Molly Blue Chip) got her first win at Windsor, Maine in a sharp 1:57.1 on September 1 right after finishing third in 1:54.2 at Plainridge in the Nauset Light series. She had an unfortunate equipment break in the next leg before finishing a strong second to Han Solo in the final, pacing in 1:56 in the process. She will take that effort right into this first leg of the MASS. Ry's Red Rocket is trained by Gretchen Athearn. Bold N Sporty (Sportswriter-Murrayfield) made two starts in the Ontario Sire Stakes (OSS) in July grabbing only one fifth place check. But she was race-timed in 1:53.3 and 1:54 in those two efforts at Mohawk. After winning at Georgian Downs the end of August, Bold N Sporty shipped to Plainridge and closed sharply to be third in 1:55.4 after being parked out the better part of the mile. She is now familiar with the track and that may be helpful moving forward. Jimmy Nickerson trains Bold N Sporty. Odds On Orlando (Captaintreacherous-Lindys Old Lady) has only three lifetime starts but has made forward strides in each. In her last effort at the Red Mile she closed very strong from fifth to finish third in 1:53.1 with a last quarter in :28. She had previously come home in a blistering :26.4 in a qualifier but also shows some gate speed when asked. Odd On Orlando is an interesting prospect. Tony Alagna trains Odds On Orlando. 2-year-old trotting colts Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) had a breaking problem earlier in the year that he seems to have gotten over. Proof of that is his 14-length romp in the third leg of the Wood End Light series followed the next week by his track record tying, 3-1/2 length winning effort of 1:56.3 in the series final at Plainridge Park. If he continues to mind his manners, the sky seems to be the limit for this gelding. Life Is A Feast is trained by George Ducharme. Double Dealing (RC Royalty-Heather Spur) has similarly progressed in his last two races. After finishing a distant third in the third leg of the Wood End Light, Double Dealing finished a close second to Life Is A Feast in the final and was race timed in 1:57.1. The improvement in time and performance is something to take notice of. Double Dealing is also trained by George Ducharme. 2-year-old trotting fillies Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) comes into the MASS after a big year on the NYSS circuit. She hit the board in three out of her six starts in the series, while making a break in the other three. She did come up big in the $225,000 final at Batavia, minding her manners in a first-over trip that saw her finish third at 91-1. And it was the third straight start she stayed flat. She'll come into the MASS still looking for her first lifetime win, but her wallet has $77,710 in it and that makes her by far the richest filly in this event. She has been race-timed in 1:56.4 at Vernon Downs. Without A Warning is trained by George Ducharme. Pembroke Whisper (Noble Venture-Spring Laughter) has five wins in seven outings and hasn't missed the board in MSS action, making her the points leader in that division to date. She has the consistency, but the question is will the switch to the big track at Plainridge help her develop her speed. That is an unknown. Pembroke Whisper is trained by Valerie Grondin. Sophia's Express (Crazed-Snowblind Lindy) was a win machine in the NYSS Excelsior B series this year. She won six out of seven starts there with her only loss a secret be place finish coming up a head short. Her lifetime mark (1:59.4) and biggest margin of victory (3-1/2 lengths) came at Vernon Downs so she should feel at home over the three turns at Plainridge as well. Sophia's Express is trained by Marissa Chadbourne. Here is the complete 2019 Massachusetts Sire Stake Schedule: Sunday (Sept. 29) 3-year-old First Leg $35,000 added Monday (Sept. 30) 2-year-old First Leg $35,000 added Sunday (Oct. 6) 3-year-old Second Leg $35,000 added Monday (Oct. 7) 2-year-old Second Leg $35,000 added Sunday (Oct. 20) 2-year-old Third Leg $35,000 added Monday (Oct. 21) 3-year-old Third Leg $35,000 added Monday (Oct. 28) 2- and 3-year-old Finals $100,000 (est.) By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- The $20,000 Wood End Light Trot and $20,000 Nauset Light Pace finals, both for 2-year-old harness racing starters, were held at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Sept. 23) and both winners were Massachusetts-bred horses. In the Wood End Light, Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) went off the prohibitive favorite and didn't let his backers down. Driver Howard Parker cut fractions of :28.1, :58.2 and 1:27 with a gapped two-length advantage going into the last turn. Life Is A Feast hit the top of the stretch all alone and trotted home a wrapped-up 3-1/2 length winner in 1:56.3. The time was a new lifetime mark for the winner and also tied the track record for 2-year-old trotting geldings set by Hashtagmadeyalook (also bred in Massachusetts) in 2017. It was the second straight win for Life Is A Feast ($3.00) and owners Al Ross and Paul Fontaine. Karen Carroll bred the winner. Later in the Nauset Light another Mass-bred, Han Solo (Mister Big-Leah) scored his third win in a row after leading the whole race by a length while stopping the timer in :27.1, :57.4 and 1:25.4. Around the last turn and into the stretch driver Kevin Switzer Jr. sat confidently in the bike as Han Solo paced sharply and hit the wire on top by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:55.4. Han Solo ($4.00), who set the track record of 1:54.1 for 2-year-old pacing colts two weeks ago, is owned by Monique Cohen who also bred and trains the horse. Life Is A Feast and Han Solo should be considered early favorites in their prospective divisions of the $1.8 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes which get under way this Sunday afternoon (Sept. 29) at Plainridge Park. The weekly featured $14,000 Winners-Over Handicap pace was won by the 1-9 Bettors Fire N (Ron Cushing) who led every step of the way. After backing the half down to :56.4 with no one pushing the pace, Bettors Fire N brushed home in :55 flat going away in an easy 1:51.4 victory. It was the eighth win of the year for Bettors Fire N ($2.10) who now has banked $144,470 in 2019 for owners Kevin Sywyk, Ron Cushing and Frank Ranaldi. Heidi Gibbs is the trainer. Mitchell Cushing, Drew Monti and Jim Hardy all had driving doubles on Monday and Hardy also trained both of the horses he won with. The Wicked Hi-5 carryover pool continues to grow and will be worth $42,450 in the sixth race on Thursday when racing resumes at Plainridge Park at 2p.m. by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts 

Batavia, NY --- Blue Bell Bonnie has been one of the toughest harness racing mares competing at Batavia Downs this season. Coming off three wins in her last four starts and moving up in class, the mare went right to the front and never looked back in the $12,500 Open I Handicap Pace for distaff participants at the Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 11). Driver Jim Morrill Jr. sent Blue Bell Bonnie to the front and proceeded unchallenged to the half in relatively mild :57.4. With the field still in single file as they headed into the third turn, HP Sissy (John Cummings Jr.) finally pulled first-over past the five-eighths and made a bull rush towards the leader, drawing alongside her in the backstretch. The two matched strides to the three-quarters and into the final bend before Blue Bell Bonnie found a new gear and started to pull away. With a clear one-length lead, Morrill urged Blue Bell Bonnie down the lane and she responded to win by a length in 1:54 over a fast closing Little Joke (BIlly Davis Jr.). It was the eighth win of the year for Blue Bell Bonnie ($4.70) and it pushed her earnings to $52,798 for owners Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi. James Clouser Jr. trains the 7-year-old daughter of Mister Big-The Girl Can Bet. In the $11,000 Open II fillies and mares pace, Mean Pauline (Shawn McDonough) got a perfect pocket trip behind Machin Marley (Jim Morrill Jr.) before popping the deuce at the top of the stretch and wrestling away the lead at the wire to win by a head in 1:57. Now with four wins on the year and earnings of $30,756, Mean Pauline ($21.20) has already surpassed her efforts of last year for owner Harry Wortzman. Her driver Shawn McDonough also trains the winner. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. had a driving triple on the card to lead all reinsmen. When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 13) at 6:00 p.m. there will be a guaranteed carryover pool of $4,000 for the Pick-5 wager. This will be part of the United States Trotting Association's (USTA) Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available for races one through five on the USTA's website. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Harness racing driver Stephane Gendron got off to a superb start opening day at the Hippodrome 3R, scoring a driving quintuple including a victory in the co-feature Preferred Pace with Mister Big Top. It was a picture-perfect afternoon for racing with sunny skies and a large crowd came out to the track for opening day. Gendron started off the day on a winning note, capturing the first race pace with Gusty Greg ($9.10) in 1:57.3. He scored again in the fourth race trot with SG Goliath King ($13.10) in 2:00.2. In the eighth race Preferred Pace it was Too Much Duncan and driver Marc Belanger shooting out to the early lead from post seven over Chaleurs Ad (Jocelyn Gendron) to the opening quarter in :28.2. Chaleurs Ad and Gendron quarter moved to take command and Mister Big Top with Stephane Gendron, sat patiently in third place, content to allow the other to fight for the lead. By the half mile marker in :58.3, Two Much Duncan and Belanger came first-over and were unable to collar Chaleurs Ad as they raced down the backstretch. Stephane Gendron finally made his move from third place at the three-quarters in 1:27.4 and tipped three-wide as they raced around the final turn. With Chaleurs Ad still in command of the race, Gendron was able to urge Mister Big Top on the stretch and they won by one length over Chaleurs Ad in 1:57.3. Bali (Dany Mainguy) was third. It was the second win in eight starts this year for Mister Big Top. The seven-year-old gelded son of Mister Big, trained by Yves Tessier and owned by Francis Morin of Beauceville, paid $8.00 to win. Stephane Gendron capped the late daily double, winning the ninth race pace with Bettor Now ($2.90) in 2:00.1 and then the tenth pace with My Lucky Bluejeans ($14.20) in 2:00.1 to sweep the last three races on the program for his five winners on the day. In the second race Preferred Trot, Jamigo and driver Daniel Laflamme took advantage of costly breaks by the two wagering favorites and came home a big winner at odds of 19-1. It was track record holder Wildwild Men (Jocelyn Gendron) was on top of the field early with Lagerfeld (Raymond Gingras) sitting the two-hole pocket trip with Jamigo sitting in third place. They went past the opening quarter mile in :29.1, then the half mile in :59.3. Then in the backstretch, Lagerfeld went off-stride, leaving Wildwild Men with a three-length lead at the three-quarters in 1:28.4 and then he went off-stride. That left a wide-open gap for driver Daniel Laflamme and he went right to the lead with Jamigo and held on in the stretch to win by one length in 2:00.2 over Holiday Party (Pascal Berube) with R Rkadabra (Stephane Gendron) third. Trained and owned by Manon Lamothe of Terrebonne, it was the first start this year for Jamigo, an 11-year-old gelding by Angus Hall. Going off at odds of 19-1, Jamigo paid $41.50 to win. That was the highest win payoff of the afternoon. TRACK NOTES: Stephane Gendron led all drivers with his five wins while not one other driver or trainer on the ten-race program could tally more than one win. Of the ten races, favorites only scored twice on the day. Live racing resumes next Sunday at the Hippodrome 3R. For more information, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The five-year-old Mister Big gelding Just Toyin With Ya tried new tactics in the $13,000 featured harness racing pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday night - go fast, then go even faster, then go faster yet - and they worked to perfection, as the pacer stormed to a 1:49.4 victory, lowering his mark by over two seconds. Driver Eric Carlson had the pedal to the metal early with Just Toyin With Ya and laid down winners-over-type fractions of 26.2, 54.2, and 1:21.2, opening a four length lead going around the final turn and carrying his speed to the wire for a 6 1/2 length tally over You Got Trumped, as the winner certainly lived up to his name in the estimation of those trailing him across the wire. Unraced at both two and three and with only one show in two starts at age four, Just Toyin With Ya seems ready to make up for the lost time with this breakthrough tally. Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC own the winning pacer, who likely won't be racing for an $18,000 tag next time behind the gate. From PHHA/Pocono Downs

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Rocky Boy and harness racing driver Marc Belanger made it back-to-back victories in the Invitational-Handicap Trot at the Hippodrome 3R Sunday with another wire-to-wire triumph. Starting in the ninth race feature from the same post five he had in his last start, Rocky Boy really earned his keep on this day. Belanger left from post five but Rocky Boy was to be stung early by the game Caroluzzo (Stephane Gendron), who begrudgingly gave up the lead after the opening quarter mile in :28.3. Also parked out three-wide to the opening quarter mile was Holiday Party (Francis Picard), who then was stuck first-over and thus went after the lead from Rocky Boy and pushed the pace to the half mile marker in :57.3. Then in the backstretch, with Caroluzzo in tow, Rocky Boy led the field past the three-quarters in 1:27 and that was more than enough for Holiday Party as he backed off and the co-race favorite at 7/5, Torches Angel (Stephane Brosseau) could not make up any ground. Down the stretch Rocky Boy dug in again and went on to win by three lengths in 1:57.3. Caroluzzo was second with Southwind Voltage (Jocelyn Gendron) grabbing the third spot. It was the second straight win this year for Rocky Boy. The nine-year-old gelded son of Rocky Balboa is trained by Stephane Beaudoin. He paid $4.90 to win and is co-owned by Belanger and Beaudoin of Trois-Rivieres. Top pace of the day took place in the seventh race where Mister Big Top ($11.40) with Jocelyn Gendron in the bike, sat the perfect two-hole trip, got clearance from a game first-over Rainbow Palace (Francis Picard) at the top of the stretch and scored a one and one-half length victory in 1:55. It was the fastest mile on the program and the third win this year for Mister Big Top. A six-year-old gelded son of Mister Big, he is trained by Yves Tessier and owned by Francois Morin of Beauceville. Rainbow Palace was second and pacesetter Onyx V A (Stephane Brosseau) was third. Trainer Michel Allard was the only horseman on the program to send out two winners Sunday. Track Notes: The first Tuesday night program of the race season at the Hippodrome 3R takes place this Tuesday, May 29, first race post time is 6:30 pm for the eight-race card. Wildriverbumblebee, the 2017 champion 3yo pacers from Quebec, qualified Saturday at the Hippodrome 3R. He had to make two moves in the race and still was able to win for driver Stephane Brosseau in 1:58.3. Wildriverbumblee is owned, bred and trained by Dr. John Bradbury and has been made eligible to the $200,000 Prix D'Ete at H3R on August 19. For more information, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Sunday's ninth race Silver Invitational Pace at the Hippodrome 3R looks to be a wide-open affair with nine starters including four horses who have won this class during the season. The lone return winner in the field is Mister Big Top from post five for trainer Yves Tessier and driver Stephen Gendron. Tessier, it should be noted, is currently the third leading percentage rainer in all of Canada this season. His UTR (universal training rating) is a very impressive .422 between the Hippodrome 3R and Rideau Carlton in 2017. He is also the third leading trainer this year at H3R (15 wins) and 4th in the standing at Rideau Carlton (39 wins). Owned by Francois Morin of Beaucevile, Mister Big Top sports seven wins this year, his fastest a 1:54.3 lifetime mark at Rideau Carlton. Most recently he tuned up for Sunday's race with an easy 2:00.1 qualifying win at H3R. But prior to that, on the Quebec Regional Fair Circuit at Bedford, Mister Big Top scored a decisive triumph in a 1.5 mile extra distance race with a 2:58 victory. Back on July 30, Mister Big Top and Gendron won the two-mile race at H3R in 4:06.1. The race favorite is Bali, despite having to start from the far outside in post eight for driver Stephane Brosseau. Brosseau is the leading driver this season with 45 wins, giving him a commanding lead over Stephane Gendron in second place with 32 wins. Bali, in his last two starts has had his head handed to him at Rideau Carlton with two 6th place finishes. But prior to that he has two straight wins and also has seven wins on the year, the fastest a lifetime best 1:53.1 triumph right at H3R. The horse that sports the most second place finishes this year is Solid Performance in post four. This eight-year-old gelded son of Armbro Deuce has 11 second place finishes and four wins. He will be driven for the first time by David Pilon. Just two starts back, Solid Performance won at H3R in 1:54.2. H3R's leading trainer, Francis Richard with 22 wins, sends out Matt's Phil from post two with Pierre Luc Roy handing the driving. Matt's Phil sports six wins and three second place finishes this season and in his last seven starts has been either first or second. Highpoint Chip, trained and driven by Pascal Berube, starts from post seven and has won three of his last four starts, all at H3R, the fastestd a 1:54.3 victory. Rounding out the competitive field are Pantheon Seelster (post one), Lyons Josephjnr (post three), Arazi (post six) and My Buddy Mason (post nine). First race post time is 12:30 pm. For a free race program for Sunday's races, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

Charlottetown, PE - Mr Irresistible over-powered pace setter Adkins Hanover to win the Saturday harness racing feature in a sparking 1:54.3 at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Adkins Hanover (Corey MacPherson) cut impressive fractions of 27.2, 55.1 and 1:24.4 before fading in the stretch to Mr. Irresistible driven by Jason Hughes for owner Danny Birt, Stratford, PE who was also celebrating his birthday. The five-year son of Mister Big, conditioned by Jennifer Trainor, picked up his fifth win of the season including back to back feature victories. Eagle Jolt (Marc Campbell) finished third to complete the triactor. Hughes also drove 2016 Governor's Plate finalist Jeb to victory for co-owners Robi Hughes, Eric and Blair MacLauchlan. Jeb, who was making his 2017 debut, stopped the timer in 1:57.4. Marc Campbell also posted a driving double on the card. For complete results go to www.redshores.ca By Lee Drake

WILKES-BARRE PA - Crafty Master, a son of Mister Big shipping to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono from Canada's capital city track, Rideau Carleton, couldn't have been more impressive in his "return" to the Downs, winning Saturday night's top purse event, an $18,000 claiming handicap pace, in 1:52 to complete a consecutive triple for the harness racing team of Allard, driver Simon and trainer Rene.   Overcoming post eight, Crafty Master spotted fourth early, then was rushed to the front just before the half in 55.3. From there "Crafty" was the master of this domain, pulling away to win by 2¾ lengths for Allard Racing Inc., VIP Internet Stable LLC, and Lynn Denesha.   It's a bit ironic that the six-year-old Crafty Master had had only one career Stateside purse start before this triumph, and that that race had been at Pocono - a 2013 elimination of the Breeders Crown 2CP, where Crafty Master, coming off a second in the Ontario Super Final, went off as the second choice, but ruined his chances with an early break. His lifetime U.S. win rate jumped to 50% with Saturday's triumph.   There was a pair of $15,500 co-featured conditioned events, with the pace going to the hot City Hall, a Metropolitan gelding who now sports a 4-3-1-0 recent record after a 1:52.1 victory. George Napolitano Jr. got the winner, who started outside all his rivals in post eight, safely around late first turn trouble by going three-wide, brushed to the top in front of the stands, then held his advantage to the finish for trainer Amber Buter and the partnership of Gene Oldford Farms LLC and Tyler Buter.   On the trotting side, the millionaire DW'S NY Yank was glad to escape the likes of bearcats Melady's Monet and Opulent Yankee, winning in 1:53.3 although being yet another disadvantaged with the outermost post eight. Driver Eric Goodell made two speed moves with the Dilbert Hanover gelding, then held off pocketsitting Skates N Plates in for his first win of the year for trainer Ron Burke and owners who turn up in more than a few programs - Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Howard Taylor.   Melady's Monet, who was mentioned above, may be the hottest trotter going right now, and he heads the Pocono Sunday night feature, a $20,000 handicap slotted for race ten. Brett Miller, currently leading driver at The Meadowlands but no stranger to area punters, will come over to drive "Monet," undefeated in two starts this year for trainer Kevin McDermott, from post seven.   In addition to the Allard brothers, driver Simon and trainer Rene, teaming for three wins, the team of driver Eric Goodell and trainer Ron Burke had a triple. Also with three wins was driver George Napolitano Jr., for three different trainers. Anthony Napolitano drove three winners, two for trainer Andrew Harris   PHHA / Pocono

Underrated harness racing mare Followthewind repaid her staunch followers with an effortless all-the-way win at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Followthewind had strung together a bunch of minor placings since winning in Hobart in early July but with the aid of the pole position (barrier one) the five-year-old mare was able to find the lead and driver Ricky Duggan had no trouble in dictating the speed of the race. After being left alone in front Followthewind slipped clear at the top of the home straight and went on to score by almost six metres from Campaign Drive with Im Justforyou over four metres astern. It was a bold display of front-running with the daughter of Mister Big (USA) scampering over the 1680 metres in 2m.05.2s for a sub two-minute mile rate of 1.59.9. Followthewind is owned and raced by Barry Cooper and Jamie Cockshutt who have enjoyed a lot of success since they teamed up about five years ago. Followthewind has won eight of her 21 starts as well as nine minor placings for almost $50,000 in stakes. There was a lot to like about Followthewind's latest win but the run of Buriton Bailey also caught the eye, coming from well back to finish fifth and only 11 metres from the winner. Look for Buriton Bailey in the coming weeks and especially if the 10-year-old draws the front line. Peter Staples

Champion harness racing reinsman Gary Hall jun. celebrated his 34th birthday by driving the Michael Brennan-trained Awesum Teddy to victory in a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night and he hopes to continue in good form by landing Maidenimpression a winner of the third race, the Bill Steer Memorial Pace for three-year-old fillies, on Friday night. Hall has driven Maidenimpression for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice at the filly’s past three starts for a fast-finishing win in the Dainty’s Daughter Classic at Pinjarra, an unlucky fifth behind Jasmin Amal and an easy win in a heat of the Breeders Classic at Gloucester Park on Monday afternoon. Maidenimpression is somewhat awkwardly drawn at barrier six in Friday night’s 2130m event, but Hall believes the filly by the $4 million earner Mister Big has the ability to overcome this disadvantage. “She led from barrier one and got it all her own way on Monday,” he said. “But she still ran decent sectionals (30.6sec., 30.1sec., 28.4sec. and 27.7sec.). She’s a big-striding filly and she goes quicker than what you think she’s going. It felt like that she won in second gear. “This will be a test from barrier six, but she’s probably good enough to go forward. Eventually she will be a role player from any draw.” Ross Olivieri, an eight-time premiership trainer in WA, said that he Sheer Rocknroll was a big chance in the race if she was able to get to the front from the No. 2 barrier. Sheer Rocknroll has won at eight of her 26 starts and is a splendid frontrunner. But Olivieri is concerned that she might not be able to cross the polemarker Maia Maguire, a filly trained by Prentice who made most of the running when an easy winner at Bunbury two starts ago. Sheer Rocknroll will be handled by her usual reinsman Stuart McDonald, who was suspended on Tuesday night for four weeks after the stewards found him guilty of an unacceptable drive behind Sheer Rocknroll when she finished fifth and last behind Maidenimpression on Monday afternoon. The stewards ruled that McDonald erred by electing to move Sheer Rocknroll from a one-wide position early in the race to the pegs, where he was unable to gain a clear run for the remainder of the race. McDonald’s penalty will start from midnight on Friday night. Ken Casellas

In-form three-year-old pacer Little Bit of Big delivered another stellar harness racing performance to score an impressive all-the-way win at the Luxbet Racing Centre over 1680 metres in Launceston on Sunday night. Little Bit of Big made it three wins for the season when she made the most of the pole position to lead throughout in a 3C0-C0 race that boasted a quality line-up. With Rohan Hadley in the sulky, the Shelley Barnes-trained filly by Mister Big from Vanstand stepped well from the mobile and despite being attacked early she withstood the challenge to lead comfortably and then had to call on her courage to fend off rivals in the home straight. Little Bit of Big joined Barnes' stable recently and she is hoping the owners will allow her to retain the filly beyond the winter months. Listen to what trainer Shelley Barnes had to say about Little Bit of Big's latest win. Peter Staples

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, June 20, 2016 - Tuesday evenings race card at the Hippodrome 3R features a large number of eligible three-year-old pacers and trotters to the 2016 Quebec-Bred Series entitled Coupe Des Eleveurs or Breeders Cup. The Breeders Cup series gets underway Sunday, July 3 for pacers and Tuesday, July 5 for the trotters with purses totaling more than $450,000, which includes four weeks of preliminary rounds and then $65,000 finals in each of four divisions set for Sunday, September 4. There are 31 pacing colts, 33 pacing fillies, 24 trotting colts and 16 trotting fillies eligible to the series. One of the early favorites among the pacing colts is Mister Godro, who starts from the rail in the second race Tuesday. This son of Mister Big will be driven by Guy Gagnon for trainer Charles Gaudreault. In his last start at 3R, Mister Godro posted this second straight win wiring the field in a lifetime best 1:59.1. Another hopeful in the 5th race pace is the Sportswriter colt, Sports Authority, who starts from post seven. He hails from the Maxime Velaye Stable and is also on a two-race win streak for driver Mario Charron. He has won his last two starts by a total of ten lengths. All eyes on the series will be anxiously awaiting the return of last year's track record holder and series champion two-year-old, Wildwild Men. Last year he become the fastest two-year-old trotter ever at 3R with his 1:58.2 record. He is winless in three starts so far at Flamboro Downs. Post time Tuesday evening is 7:00 pm. For a free race program and live video feed of the Hippodrome 3R races, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

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