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On Monday October 16, Monticello Raceway hosted the $400,000 New York Sire Stakes Consolations, with eight harness racing divisions each racing for a purse of $50,000 each. When one thinks of Sire Stake events, one thinks of hot balmy days of July and August. Today the conditions were far from the Sire Stake norm, with temps in the mid 50's, with intermittent sun and a persistent raw wind. 2-Year-Old Filly Pace The short 5 horse field only offered win and place wagering, Dan Dube and Python Blue Chip (Roll With Joe - Michell's Dream) eased their way to the front past the ¼ in 27.4 and stayed there every step of the mile. Michelle's Jazz (Andrew McCarthy) popped out from the garden spot to take a shot at Python Blue Chip at the top of the lane, but Dube hit the wheel disc for extra measure and the filly responded to win by 4 lengths in 1:55.3 for her 2nd win of the year for trainer Ake Svanstedt. Michelle's Jazz was second, followed by Sand Artist (T. Tetrick) 2-Year-Old Colt Pace Aces in Heaven (PP1) protected his position from the rail and left briskly, the post time favorite Courtly Choice (Mark MacDonald) patiently took the lead past the ¼ pole in 27.2 and tripped the following beams in 56.4 1:25.4. and played catch me if you can. Cheese Melt (Dan Dube) didn't see the wood often during his mile, he made a hugh 3 wide move to pass Aces In Heaven in the lane. Courtly Choice scored in 1:56.1, Cheese Melt was 2nd followed by Aces In Heaven 3rd. The son Art Major - Lady Ashlee is trained by Blake Macintosh did not disappoint his faithful, returning $4.40. 3-Year-Old Trotting Colts Zack's Zoomer took the overland route to score in the most impressive effort of the day, as Cresurrey was cutting the fractions (28.4, 58.4 1:27.4) followed by Aces and Eights. Zack's Zoomer was doing his Avis impression and was trying harder. Marcus Miller unleased Zack's Zoomer down the backside in an impressive 3 wide move a the 5/8's pole. The son of Deweycheatumnhowe continued to grind it out to prevail in 1:57.1, LQ 28.3, Cresurrey was 2nd and Aces and Eights (Dan Daley) sat the pocket the entire mile and finished 3rd. 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt The barefooted Cruising In Style (Jason Bartlett), scored a win, but not without some anxious moments. The son of Muscle Mass carved out splits of 30.2, 1:01.4 1:31.4, past the ¾ marker Cruising In Style got rough gaited and was 1 bad step away from jumping off stride, but kept his composure to record the win in 2:01.1 over a hard closing Seven Irons (Tim Tetrick) with Seven Knights (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) Cruising In Style is trained by Andrew Harris for Thestable Cruising Group. 2-Year-Old Filly Pace The eight-horse field was reduced to 7 with the scratch of Oooteeny, Eunice (Eric Goodell) from the rail showed the way barely to the ¼ before Sevenbuyeleven took the lead and reeled off fractions of 29, 59.3, 1:30 to scamper away to an easy 4 length victory in 1:59.3 over the pocket sitter Eunice, finishing 3rd was Perfect Summer K (J. Stratton) Sevenbuyeleven by Chapter Seven is trained by Linda Toscano and is owned by Ken Jacobs and paid a paltry $2.70. 3-Year-Old Pacing Colts Following the successful trend of the day, Octane Bluechip (Dan Dube) from the rail, went down the road for as far and fast as he could go. Dan Dube put the Art Major sleeper hold on the field with a 30 second 2nd quarter and had just enough in the tank to hold off Outrajus Blue Chip (Andy McCarthy) in the fastest mile of the cold afternoon in 1:54.4 and Twin B Cowboy ranged up for 3rd. The 3/5 fav Talent Soup was never a threat and finished last. 3-Year-Old Filly Trot Ostrich Blue Chip made short work of the 7-horse filed and was never headed in an easy 6 length win over Busy Doing Nothin (Ray Fisher Jr.) and Flyhawk Charm (J. Bartlett) in 1:58.1. The Chapter Seven lass is owned by the estate of the great patron of the sport Fred Monteleone, who recently passed away. In the winner's circle was his daughter and other family and friends and shared a special moment. 3-Year-Old Filly Pace The lass with the class was World Apart (Art Major), her wins this year include the Simpson Stake and the The Lady Maud. Candlelight Dinner and Jim Morrill cut the mile to the half, 27.2 - 56.0, she was trailed by World Apart to the 5/8 pole. World Apart pulled the pocket to challenge the now tiring Candlelight Dinner and came first over on the outside at the ¾ marker in 1:25.2, once on the lead World Apart hug on in a tight photo. Touchamatic (George Brennan) was bobbing and weaving thru traffic the entire mile was able to get up and finish 2nd, Magic Forces was 3rd for Marcus Miller. Drivers Jason Bartlett and Dan Dube each had a driving double, Art Major and Chapter Seven each recorded two sire wins each. By Shawn Wiles

YONKERS, N.Y. – Leading harness racing local driver Jason Bartlett is ranked number one in North America with $9.9 million in purse money won this season and third by wins with 497 victories. Just over $1 million of the 36-year-old reinsman’s earnings this season have come in New York Sire Stakes, making him the leading driver on the New York stakes circuit by earnings and his 24 victories top the win column. Bartlett will drive in all eight of the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Finals at Yonkers Raceway Saturday afternoon (October 14). The rich races for statebreds are part of a $3.3 million card that includes the $1 million Yonkers International Trot, the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot, and the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace. Many of Bartlett’s contenders drew advantageous post positions and all but two are the first or second choice on the morning line. “It’s been a really good year throughout the stakes races for me,” Bartlett said. “Hopefully we can cap it off with a good day. The draws were favorable for me. Good spots, good horses, the home track. Now it’s up to me not to mess up. “I’m very grateful to all the owners and trainers for giving me an opportunity to drive all these nice horses,” he continued. Bartlett gave his thoughts on all eight of his drives in New York Sire Stakes Saturday: 2-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Pace CASUAL COOL (Post 3, 3-1 ML): The son of American Ideal is 5-for-9 this year with a pair of seconds and a third, good for $137,538. Bartlett drove in three of the colt’s victories, including a wire-to-wire win in NYSS from post one at Yonkers August 25. One of three sire stakes finalists Bartlett will drive for trainer Linda Toscano. Won his last start in the Simpson at Philadelphia October 1. “Nice handy little horse, can race either way. By the looks of that field, we have options. The one to beat is inside of us and the other one to beat is in the eight hole, so we’ve got some options going into that race. (Linda) has had a good year in stakes races this year and all of her babies seem to have got a little bit sick, but now they’ve been pretty good as of late. He had a race down at Chester coming in, the Simpson and he won down there, which is a plus going into this race that he was able to get a race in between the three-and-a-half weeks between races. He was very fortunate to get that race.” 2-Year-Old Filly Pace HURRIKANE SHORTY (Post 6, 5-2 ML): After posting two wins and two seconds with Jim Marohn Jr. at the lines, the daughter of Art Major won her first two starts with Bartlett in the sulky at Yonkers August 17 and 29. Although all her wins have come on the front end, the filly showed Bartlett a new dimension last time at Monticello September 19, racing off the pace to finish second beaten a half-length. Qualified in 1:55.4 at Philadelphia October 3. Brings an 8-4-3-0 record into the sire stakes final for trainer Kevin Mc Dermott. “She got a little sick there her last two or three starts and then her last start at Monticello, I was very happy with her racing off the pace. Kevin said she’s a lot healthier now. She got a nice qualifier in down at Chester, so she looks pretty good in there, too. She’d been raced a lot on the front end, so putting her on a helmet, trying to race off a helmet was something that I had been trying to do. That front end all year long is going to catch up to them sooner or later. She’s very versatile, she’s very quick off the gate and the way she raced at Monticello, you’re not scared to race her from behind.” 2-Year-Old Filly Trot LIMA NOVELTY (Post 2, 3-1 ML): Posted four wins and a second in NYSS company this summer, including a track record 1:57.3 victory at Monticello August 21. Made a break when trying open company in the Peaceful Way at Mohawk September 11 before finishing second in sire stakes individually timed in 1:55.4 at Vernon September 22 and qualifying at Pocono in 1:58.0 October 4. “We have not seen the best of her. She’s a very, very nice trotting filly. Very disappointing up at Mohawk, but very nice filly. She can do it either way, too. She’s won on the front and from behind at Monticello with a track record. She drew a very good spot too, in between the two favorites, so just kind of play off of other people there. She grabbed her boot behind and she just ran. I mean, she’s never run in her life. You would think that getting around Buffalo and Monticello and all those other tracks, in a straightaway at Mohawk, she’d be able to get around there easily enough. It was very surprising to say the least.” 3-Year-Old Filly Pace PLANET ROCK (Post 1, 6-1 ML): Winless this season in 14 starts, but the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven enough seconds and thirds in sire stakes company to earn a place in the final and drew the inside post. Toscano trainee went 8-for-12 as a 2-year-old, but enters this year’s sire stakes final off a sixth in the Simpson September 20 and a seventh against older mares in a $17,500 overnight September 29 for Toscano. “She’s been getting better. I raced her on the front end at Monticello, she raced really well. I had never really driven her before and I put her back on the front at Chester and Linda said two weeks in a row on the front end for her is not the thing to do. She has enough speed to get herself involved early, and then hopefully we can find the right helmet.” 2-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot CLIVE BIGSBY (Post 3, 5-2 ML): Gelded son of Muscle Mass is 5-for-8 with another two placings to start his career. Impressed when winning a sire stakes leg from post seven at Yonkers by 3 lengths August 8 and won by 3 ¼ at Batavia August 27. Qualified for the William Wellwood Final at Mohawk September 18, but was scratched. Enters the NYSS Final off a 1:57.4 tune up at Vernon September 29 for trainer George Ducharme. “He’s an honest trotting colt. He’s also a very handy little horse. He’s a nice little horse. He tries, he tries really hard. Got a great little attitude and just a handy little horse. He’s one that you can play the gate and see what everybody else is doing and kind of react, but it looks like he’ll be pushing off the gate and going from there. He’s good. He gets over the track really well. He can stop and go, he’s very good that way. He was sick up there (at Mohawk), so that’s why they scratched him there. George will have him ready, that’s for sure.” 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace AMERICA’S FLEET (Post 3, 20-1 ML): The longest shot of Bartlett’s Saturday drives, the Edward Hart trainee is 4-for-22 this year, including a nose victory in NYSS at Yonkers July 10. Enters the final off a fourth in an overnight at The Meadows October 7. “He’s the type of horse that’s going to have to get tripped out pretty good. That race, it’s just going to come down to if there’s any speed or not. We’ve got to trip that horse out a little bit. With the right trip, he can go with them. He’s always been right there with those horses. He may not win a lot of races, but he’s right there. Seconds, thirds, fourths. He’s got a lot of nice checks throughout the year.” 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot GUARDIAN ANGEL AS (Post 1, 8-5 ML): After making breaks in the stretch of the Hambletonian Final and at the start of the Yonkers Trot, the son of Archangel finished second in NYSS at Batavia September 13 before winning in sire stakes next out at Yonkers September 23. Shipped to Lexington for the Bluegrass October 1 and finished second beaten a neck in 1:52.1. Anette Lorentzon trains. “We drew the rail and he looks like he raced really well out at Lexington. He got to stretch out before Yonkers, which is going to help him a lot. With the rail, he can leave and with him, he’s just got to mind his manners. With him, I just let him do what he wants to do and then I’ll just go from there. If he wants to go out of there, he usually drags me out of there anyways, but I’m not going to rush him to get to someplace I don’t need to be. I think I’ve got the best horse, we got a good spot not to do too much rushing, which I’m very happy to see. He can get himself in position, so I’m not really worried about that.” 3-Year-Old Filly Trot CELEBRITY RUTH (Post 2, 9-5 ML): Unraced at 2, Trond Smedshammer’s filly by Archangel is 4-for-14 this year with another six seconds and $359,113 earned, making her the third highest-earning finalist on the card behind 3-year-old pacer FunkNWaffles and rival Barn Bella. Has three recent wins over the track, including the Hudson Trot September 2 and a 1:55.3 score in NYSS September 14. Enters off a second in a $27,000 Yonkers overnight October 5. “Very nice filly. She’s quite handy too. She can leave the gate very fast, she’s been in very good spots and it looks like we’re in a very good spot for the final, too. Obviously the one to beat is Barn Bella. I know the half isn’t (Barn Bella’s) forte, so I’d expect her first-over or something like that. (Celebrity Ruth) has been very good in her races coming in, so I’d expect another similar performance from her. She was very good in the Hudson Trot and came back and was actually better in her latest race at Yonkers. She was very good at Batavia, so she’s coming into the race pretty good.” by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

On the heels of the harness racing Night of Champions, Monticello Raceway will host the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) consolations on Monday October 16, post time for the 12 race card is 12:50 . There will be 8 races, for each division of age, sex and gait, each division will race for a purse of $50,000. Owners that plan on being attendance for the afternoon will be given a free food voucher for the new state of the art Sports Bar, a free program, along with a special gift. Any owner that plans on being in attendance should contact the Race Office at (845) 794 - 4100 ext. 557 or 555 to make accommodations. The Monticello Harness Horseman's Association in conjunction with Monticello Raceway and the Harness Breeders of New York State will have a BBQ in the paddock for participating horseman and grooms throughout the card. 2 Year Old Filly Trotters Sevenbuyeleven (Tim Tetrick) earned her speed badge of 1:55.1 last week at the Red Mile winning a heat of the International Stallions Stakes, she is the richest and fastest filly in the race, she scores from post position 4. Setntheworldonfire (PP6) has only been off the board once this year for trainer Noel Daley, Andrew McCarthy will drive the Muscle Yankee lass. 2 Year Old Colt/Geldings Trotters Seven Iron (PP4 - Tim Tetrick) was impressive at the Red Mile in the Bluegrass stake, taking a LTM of 1:55.3, equally as impressive is his tally for the year 10 2-2-4, with freshman earning of $91,893. Cruising in Style (Jason Bartlett) has been in the thick of things all year on the NYSS circuit, he will start from the rail in the 5-horse contest. My Lindy Winner (Jim Morrill Jr.) looks to regain her early season form (PP2) that saw her win at Saratoga Raceway in a brisk 1:56.4. 2 Year Old Filly Pacers Michelle's Jazz is the 5-2 favorite from the rail with Andrew McCarthy at the helm. American Myth (Jason Bartlett) brings her 2-race win streak in overnight company at the Meadows, she will score from post 2 for trainer Ed Hart. Mink Pink (Eric Goodell) has been model of consistency with 3 seconds and 2 thirds in her last 5 starts, but she has yet to enter the winners circle this year. She will start from (PP4) 2 Year Old Colts/Geldings Pacers Persist Blue Chip (George Brennan) was a winner earlier in the year at Monticello Raceway in 1:58.1, in this company he will start from the 6 hole. Trump Nation has been very sharp lately, he has 2 Excelsior A wins and a place finish to his credit for trainer Andrew Harris. Aces In Heaven will score from the rail with John MacDonald in the bike and is the morning line favorite. 3 Year Old Filly Trotters Twice the bridesmaid in NYSS competition and heat winner of the Zweig, Ostrich Blue Chip (PP3) in her last 7 starts she has 5 wins and 2 place finishes, Scott Zeron will drive the favorite. Busy Doing Nothing knows her way around a ½ mile oval will benefit from the rail, Ray Fisher will drive. 3 Year Old Colts/Geldings Trotters The Trond Smedshammer stable brings an entry with Cresurrey (PP6 - Jason Bartlett)) and Texican (PP7) for owner Purple Haze Stable LLC. Arch Credit is the morning line second favorite at 3-1, the son of Credit Winner has recently rounded into consistent form. The often-erratic Optimist Blue Chip will start from the rail with Tim Tetrick in the bike. Aces And Eights was impressive in his Vernon Q 1:55.4 last week for Dan Daley. 3 Year Old Filly Pacers World Apart (PP4 - Jason Bartlett) has been a model of consistency, her potent resume includes 3 wins and earnings over $140,000, along the way she earned wins in the Simpson Stake and the Lady Maud, she was 2nd in her NYSS division at Monticello in September. Artrageous (Mark Macdonald) is looking to extend her win streak to 3. 3 Year Old Colts/Geldings Pacers Outrajus Blue Chip looks to be in top form from post 3 and has been installed the morning line fav at 5-2. Octane Blue Chip (Dan Dube - PP1) will also be in the hunt. Benji 's Best was a NYSS winner at Monti this summer in 1:53.4, he was a winner of the EBC consolation in 1:50 at Tioga Downs, post position 8 will hampers his efforts today. By: Shawn Wiles

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, September 23, 2017-- Yonkers Raceway Saturday night (Sept. 23rd) hosted the $172,000 New York Sire Stakes Michael Sorentino Trot for harness racing 3-year-old colts and geldings. It was the last of 16 sire stakes local legs, leading up to the Oct. 14th New York 'Day' of Champions. That afternoon, eight, $225,000 NYSS finals take place during Yonkers' $3.3 million International Trot matinee program. A pair of groupings, at $85,250 and $86,750, respectively, comprised this event. The opening division saw Seven and Seven (George Brennan, $4.90) give nothing else a chance in 1:55. Making just his second sire stakes appearance of the season, Seven and Seven--from post position No. 4--took over from Eye ofa Tiger AS (Jason Bartlett) after a :28.1 opening quarter-mile. He continued leading through intervals of :57.2 and 1:26 before Yonkers Trot winner Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller). The pole-sitting, 3-4 favorite was in no particular hurry early and thus had way too much to do late. Seven and Seven opened 2¼ lengths into the lane, then finished it off by 2½ lengths. Top Flight Angel was a non-threatening second, with Eye ofa Tiger AS third. For second choice Seven and Seven, a Chapter Seven homebred (Mrs. Durand) Ontario co-owned by (trainer) Tom Durand, the missus, June, and Allan Smith, it was his second win in nine seasonal starts. Durand had not started a horse locally in nearly four years, but made up for lost time Saturday (more about that in a bit). The exacta paid $9.30, with the triple returning $18.20. "I didn't know anything about him and drove him accordingly," Brennan said. "I did know that Tom would send them here with purpose." "We made a decision before the season to race him in Grand Circuit events," Durand said. "We didn't have much luck with that, so we tried him in the final sire stakes of the season. Maybe he can make the final." Saturday's second Sorentino division had even-money Guardian Angel AS (Bartlett, $4)--whose early Yonkers Trot break did him--get the better trip and the bigger check here. Working it out second-over from post No. 3, he stalked Swell Chap (Brian Sears) after that one swallowed up early leader Zach's Zoomer (Miller). 'Zach' was done after fractions of :28, :57.2 and 1:26.3. Swell Chap opened a length lead in and out of the final turn but couldn't stave off Guardian Angel AS. The latter prevailed by a hard-earned head in 1:56, with Icanflylikeanangel (Jordan Stratton) rallying for third after finding himself pocketed to a tiring leader. For Guardian Angel AS, a son of 2012 YR Trot winner Archangel trained by Anette Lorenzton for co-owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson, it was his eighth win in 15 '17 tries. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $9.40, with the triple returning $43.60. Saturday's pair of $50,000 Open Handicaps were won by... --Pace--The Real One (Pat Lachance, $6.90) in 1:50.3, fastest local mile of the season; --Trot--Dia Monde (Brennan, $3.70) in 1:54.2. Durand's other starter also went down the road, matching the track record for 4-year-olds geldings. Between races, driver Mark MacDonald was feted with a congratulatory sign for his 6,000th win, the milestone reached the previous night at Vernon Downs. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Monday evening’s (Sept. 25th) Pick 5 wager starts with a double carryover of $7,779.95. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday and Saturday nights), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

Harness racing driver Mark MacDonald would pilot Atlanta to a track record for freshman trotting fillies by capturing the first division of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) and getting his 6,000th career driving victory at Vernon Downs on Friday night (September 22). Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) remained undefeated winning the second division. Fury Road (Chris Lems) would lead the first division ($55,500) trotters into the first quarter in 28.3. It was short-lived when Atlanta (Chapter Seven - Hemi Blue Chip) claimed the top spot just before the top of the back stretch. Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, and Brad Grant while trained by Zeron, she would be joined by the first-over by Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller) just before the three-quarter marker. The two fillies would then have an epic battle all the way down the stretch. Atlanta ($7.50) would dig down deep to hold off the heavy pressure from Supergirl Riley (Muscle Mass - Crown Royal), to set the track record in 1:54.0, while getting her fifth career win. All this making win number 6000 even sweeter for MacDonald. MacDonald would later on add win 6001 with Padua Hanover ($3.60). Supergirl Riley had to settle for second with Perfect Summer K (jimmy Whittemore) getting third. Plunge Blue Chip (Muscle Mass - Dunk The Donato) would get her sixth win in six starts taking the second division ($56,500). Big Checkmate (Donald Dupont) would grab the early lead but Plunge Blue Chip ($2.10), who is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and trainer, driver Svanstedt, would take over before the first quarter and put up all the fractions :28.3, :58.0, 1:27.2, 1:55.0. The 2 year-old filly was in complete control and would get a career best time beating her top rival Lima Novelty (Jason Bartlett), who came on late to finish second three lengths back. Big Checkmate hung on for third. Chris Lems would win four on the night. He got victories with Give Angel Credit ($7.50), Sweet Thing ($2.10), Dreams Beach Boy ($3.30), and In The Clear ($5.10). Vernon Downs returns to live action on Saturday (September 23) with a 13 race card starting at 6:45 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs.    

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 22, 2017 - It's a homecoming weekend of sorts, with Yonkers Trot winner Top Flight Angel returning Saturday night (Sept. 23rd) as the harness racing conquering hero. He does so in the first division of Yonkers Raceway's $172,000 New York Sire Stakes Michael Sorentino Trot for 3-year-old colts and geldings. A pair of groupings, at $85,250 and $86,750, respectively, go as the fourth and fifth races in an event named for the one of the Raceway's long-time popular horse owners. As if we needed the assistance, Top Flight Angel won the draw, with the Mr. (Andy Miller) driving for the Mrs. (Julie Miller). The son of 2012 Yonkers Trot winner Archangel grabbed the half-million-dollar Trot by a moist nose in 1:56.3. He then shuffled off to Batavia, airing in a NYSS event (1:54.3). For the season, the Legacy Standardbred (Alan Hainsworth) homebred has won four of his 13 starts ($362,016). Brian Sears, Top Flight Angel's Trot date, tries to beat him this time around with Stick with Me Kid. The Dewycheatumnhowe gelding, trained by George Ducharme, is also 4-for-13 this season. He starts at the opposite end of the seven-horse gate. Seven and Seven (George Brennan, post 4) is Ontario-based trainer Tom Durand's first local visit in since October of 2013. The homebred (Mrs. Durand) son of Chapter Seven has been trying open stakes company for much of the summer, though his lone win was a Tioga sire stakes event. Saturday's second Sorentino division includes Guardian Angel AS (Jason Bartlett, post 3). The Archangel colt has won half of his 14 '17 tries ($153,143), though that may be overshadowed by breaks in the finals of both the Hambletonian and Yonkers Trot. Anette Lorenzton trains for co-owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. Swell Chap (Sears, post 4) has come to hand late in the summer, entering with consecutive NYSS wins (Saratoga and Batavia). The Son of Chapter Seven colt, trained by Todd Rooney, has hit the board in 11-of-13 starts this season ($157,451). Saturday is the last of 16 sire stakes local legs, after which the judges tabulate the scores to see who's good enough for the $1.8 million Oct. 14th New York 'Day' of Champions. The eight, $225,000 NYSS finals take place during Yonkers' $3.3 million International Trot matinee program. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, September 21, 2017-- Paprike Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr., $7) and Hitman Hill (catch-driver Eric Goodell, $2.20) were the Empire's elite Thursday night (Sept. 21st), highlighting Yonkers Raceway's $157,600 New York Sire Stakes Jim Crawford Pace for the harness racing 2-year-old colts and geldings. A pair of $78,800 divisions comprised the event. The opening group saw Paprike Blue Chip put in play from post position No. 5 (in one notch after a scratch). Grabbing the first lead, he relented to 3-10 choice Casual Cool (Jason Bartlett). The odds-on number took over just after a :27.2 opening quarter-mile, then rated a 57-second intermission and 1:26 three-quarters. Silver Arrow (Mark MacDonald) was loitering first-up while Casual Cool maintained a not-so-casually contested lead into the lane. The people's choice took Paprike Blue Chip to the passing lane, and pass he did. The second choice whipped the fave by a length-and-three-quarters in 1:55, with Silver Arrow photoing American Vision (Jordan Stratton) for third. For 'Paprike,' a Roll with Joe gelding, trained by John Butenschoen for co-owners Harmony Oaks & Crawford Racing and VIP Internet Stable, it was his fifth win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $9.80, with the triple returning $22. "It's not hard to get along with him," Morrill Jr.--who has won three times with Paprike Blue Chip--said. "There's some class there." Thursday's second sire stakes event saw undefeated, pole-sitting Hitman Hill break in a new chauffeur after Brett Miller was unable to get here (from Delaware, OH) in time. As for Goodell's post-mortem, "He was rank and wild leaving the gate. Very talented, but he needs to control it." There were few stop signs early as My Delight (Brent Holland) made the first lead passing the :26.3 first subsection. Hitman Hill wanted no place in the pocket, making the lead and throwing it down (:55.2, 1:23.4). He owned a 'iffy' length-and-and-a-half lead into the lane, appearing there for the taking. However, in a slow (:29:3) final quarter, no one took it. Hitman Hill held off Topville Olympian (Morrill Jr.) by a head in 1:53.2, with Keystone Tenacious (Jim Marohn Jr.) third. For Hitman Hill, an American Ideal gelding co-owned by Tom Hill & North Fork Racing and trained by Chris Oakes, he's won all six of his career tries. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $5.30, with the triple returning $26.40. Special Thursday props to Marohn Jr., whose four victories were a personal local best. No props, at least not this night, for MacDonald, who remains at 5,999 career wins after going 0-for-9. MacDonald ventures to Vernon Downs Friday night (Sept. 22nd) for statebred frosh trotting fillies. Frank Drucker

Two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for harness racing 2 year -old filly trotters take center stage at Vernon Downs on Friday (September 22). In the first division ($55,500) the morning line favorite at 2-1 is Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller). The 2 year-old by Muscle Mass - Crown Laurel, is owned by Paymaq Racing, George Golemes, and Harvey Eisman, while trained by Erv Miller. She has captured three legs of the NYSS with wins at Yonkers (7-18), Saratoga (9-2), and again at Yonkers (9-11). The top competition is the Ake Svanstedt trained entry of Fury Road (Chris Lems) and Lucky Ava (Svanstedt), who are the morning line second choice at 3-1. Fury Road (Muscle Mass - Bar Ballad) is owned by Knutsson Trotting Inc. She has captured three legs of the NYSS with wins at Batavia (7-26), Monticello (8-21), and Saratoga (9-2). She was second to Supergirl Riley her last time out at Yonkers. Lucky Ava (Lucky Chucky - Ava Marion) is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, and Van Camp Trotting Corp. The 2 year-old has four NYSS victories with wins at Buffalo (6-30), Batavia (7-26), and two victories at Yonkers (7-18 and 9-11). In the second division ($56,500), undefeated Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) is the morning line favorite at 2-1. She is part of another Svanstedt trained entry along with Natalie Hanover (Marcus Miller). Plunge Blue Chip (Muscle Mass - Dunk The Donato) is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc. and Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. She is five for five, winning all of her NYSS starts. She has wins at Buffalo (6-30), Batavia (7-26), Tioga Downs (8-13), and two at Yonkers (7-18 and 9-21). The top rival is Lima Novelty (Jason Bartlett), who is part of the Linda Toscano trained entry with Sevenbuyeleven (John MacDonald), at 3-1. Lima Novelty (Chapter Seven - No Pictures Please) is owned by Kenneth Jacobs. The freshman filly is four for four in NYSS races. She has scored victories at Buffalo (6-30), Yonkers (7-18), Monticello (8-21), and Saratoga (9-2). The only blemish on her record was during the Peaceful Way eliminations at Mohawk (9-11) when she went on a break and finished ninth. Post time for the 12 race card at Vernon Downs is 6:50. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. John Horne for Vernon Downs

On Tuesday September 19, Monticello Raceway hosted it's 8th and final leg of the 2017 New York Sire Stakes Season featuring harness racing 2 year old pacing fillies. The first Sire Stakes event of the afternoon was a six horse field that competed for a purse of $53,500. Betting favorite KJ's Bekah (Jason Bartlett) made a nasty break in the middle of the first turn and went to his knees. Jim Morrill Jr. took advantage of the miscue with the improving Wisdom Tree (PP2) and reeled off fractions of 28.2, 58.2, 1:27.4 tripping the beam in 1:55.2 to score a no nonsense win by 2 lengths, over longshot Sand Artist (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Mink Pink (Matt Kakaley). Wisdom Tree (Betterthancheddar - Wisdom) filly is trained by Ed Hart, and is owned by Thomas Pollack and Jeff Cullipher, in the process she scored her first pari mutual win and returned $6.50 to the faithful. In typical Jim Morrill Jr. fashion, he sent the 4/5 favorite Alexis Faith from the rail, down the road and played catch me if you can in the final Sire Stakes ($54,500) of the afternoon and led the field to the first stanza in a brisk 27 and continued to show the way to the half in 56.1, down the backside former regular top Monticello driver Jim Marohn Jr. had Azreal As It Gets in perfect striking position and came first over. Alexis Faith was still on top as the field sped to the ¾ in 1:25.2, at this point it looked like the track record of 1:55 was in serious jeopardy as Marohn Jr and Azreal As It Gets continued to grind down pace setter Alexis Faith who tired late in the lane to prevail in 1:55.2 by a slim margin, the win was 2/5's off the track record of 1:55 set by Planet Rock last year. Hurrikane Shorty (Jason Bartlett) redeemed herself after being off her grain in a dull performace last week, finished a game 2nd, pacesetter Alexis Faith was third. The win was Azreal As It Gets second consecutive win after her win last week at Batavia Downs for trainer Jake Huff. The So Surreal - Vanite Semalu filly is owned by Our Horse Cents Stable and Stable 45. Jim Morrill had 3 wins on the afternoon, Bruce Aldrich Jr. took both divisions of Excelsior B's, leaving him just 5 wins shy of career win 7,000. Leading Monticello Raceway driver Jim DeVaux had 1 win on the card, he needs 27 more wins to become a member of the 5,000 club. Breeding shed banter saw both Rock N Roll Heaven and Art Major each has a pair of winners. Excelsior A - $15,000 Majorette Angie - 1:57.2 - $8.60 - Jim Morrill Jr./ Checkered Past - 1:58 - $6.60 - Jim Morrill Jr. Jericho Diva - 1:57.3 - Jim DeVaux - $9.30 Excelsior B - $6,500 Heavens Diva -2:00.4 - $2.10 - Bruce Aldrich / With Wings - 1:59.1 - $3.50 - Bruce Aldrich By: Shawn Wiles

YONKERS, NY, Monday, September 18, 2017 -- Yonkers Raceway Monday night (Sept. 18th) hosted the $157,600 New York Sire Stakes Lew Barasch Trot for harness racing 2-year-old colts and geldings. The race again honored the memory of 'Tootie,' the iconic Hall of Fame harness publicist from the sport's golden age. A pair of equally-parsed, $78,800 divisions comprised the event, which, as it turned out, was not for the squeamish. Fourth Dimension (Brian Sears), who entered the opener a perfect 4-for-4, exited have burned much money. Sent off as the 3-10 choice from post position No. 5, he was away third, only to break twice in the back half. The second- (Tito [Andy Miller]) and third-choice (My Lindy Winner [Jim Morrill Jr.]) also misbehaved, a problem not shared by Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt, $31). Going right down the road (:29, :59.4, 1:28.4, 1:57.3) from outside post No. 7, Six Pack never had any anxious moment. He opened 3½ lengths into the lane, then widened to defeat 49-1 shot Purpose Blue Chip (Dan Daley) by 4¾ lengths. Tito recovered to finish third, while Fourth Dimension wound up a well-beaten sixth. For fifth choice Six Pack, a Muscle Mass colt co-owned (with Stall Kallmar, Little E LCC and Lars Berg) by his trainer/driver, it was his second win six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $353.50, with the triple returning $1,705. Monday evening's second Barasch division saw Ronnie Goldstein (Kim Crawford, $24.20) prevail from the pocket. From post No. 3, he made the first lead (after another leaver broke), then gave it up to 9-10 choice (Perlucky) just past a :29.2 opening quarter-mile. After a :59.1 intermission, Perlucky engaged the second move of second choice Don (Miller), toward the 1:29.1 three-quarters. Don then jumped it off, leaving Perlucky with 2¼-length lead in and out of the final turn. He couldn't finish it off, though, as Ronnie Goldstein surged by. The margin was a neck in a life-best 1:59.1. Seven Iron (Sears) was third. For fourth choice 'Ronnie,' a homebred son of Muscle Mass trained by his driver for owner Steven Goldstein, it was his second win in eight '17 tries. The exacta paid $66, with the triple returning $297. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Tuesday evening’s (Sept. 19th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $2,969.45.   The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Monday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

Closing night for the 2017 harness racing season was highlighted by the New York Sire Stakes for sophomore pacing colts and geldings at Tioga Downs on Saturday (September 16). In the first division ($61,300) Henry Hill (Marcus Miller) would rundown the favorite Outkast Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) in the stretch for the victory. Ideal Wheel (Jim Taggart Jr.) would charge out to the lead and bring them to a first quarter in :26.1. Outkast Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Heaven) would then make his move taking over just before the half and control the half at :54.2 and three-quarters in 1:22.0. Henry Hill (Roll With Joe) would go first over and take over at the top of the stretch. Owned by Tom Hill and trained by Tony Alagna, the 3 year-old would battle Outkast Blue Chip (second) all the way down the stretch to win by a head in a lifetime best of 1:50.1. Outrajus Blue Chip (Jim Meittinis) would finish third. Henry Hill ($6.80), who didn't race as a 2 year-old, won for the third time in four starts. In the second division ($62,400), Cultural Paradise (Jim Morrill Jr.) would pop out of the pocket to get the victory in the stretch. Pointomygranson (Jim Marohn Jr.) laid down all the early fractions :27.1, :56.0, 1:23.1. Cultural Paradise (Americal Ideal) was content to ride in the pocket all the way to the stretch. Owned by Bradley Grant and trained by Larry Remmen, the 3 year-old surged to the front and just got by Pointomygranson (second) to win in a lifetime best of 1:51.3. Third place went to Serious Major (Jim Taggart Jr.) Cutural Paradise ($5.60), got win number six on the season and notched career victory number nine. Mike Deters was the top trainer for 2017. Mike Simons was the top driver this season. Pacer of the year was Andreios Kardia. Top trotter was Prairie Fortune. Fireworks followed the live racing. Tioga Downs wants to thank all the horsemen and fans for a great 2017 season. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne      

There were eight County Fair Harness Racing Finals as part of the New York Sire Stakes on Friday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The two and three year old pacers and trotters who accrued the most points while traveling throughout the state in the fair circuit all summer long competed in the finals on Friday night. Red hot reinsman Jimmy Devaux stayed that way on Friday as the veteran chauffeur piloted four winners among the eight fair finals that each went for a purse of $10,000. There was one non-betting race among the eight finals and it was two year old colt pacer Buckys Brat (Quik Pulse Mindale) who prevailed to continue his amazing summer. Devaux piloted the Larry LaPage trainee to a wire-to-wire win in the non-wagering event as the freshman stopped the timer in 1:56.1 for his eleventh win in fifteen seasonal tries. A dominant force this summer in the fair circuit, Buckys Brat will likely take part in the Excelsior Final as well as the two year old has been on a tear of late in Excelsior B's as part of the NY Sire Stakes. Devaux drove the winner of the three year old filly pace as Bonita Island (Artiscape) prevailed on the engine and guided longshot Royal Bahama (RC Royalty), who overcame his outside post, to a win in the division for two year old colt and gelding trotters. Devaux's final victory on the night came with the Dave Dewhurst-trained Anja (Credit Winner) who scored in the three year old filly final to complete the grand slam for Devaux. There was a pair of upset winners in County Fair Finals as Gary Clark's Golden Attitude (Conway Hall) scored at odds of 12-1 in the three year old colt and gelding trot final while Napper Tandy (Art Major) upset at 17-1 in the three year old pace final for colts and geldings with Ben McNeil in the sulky. The other winners on Friday night were NY Spirit (Lucky Chucky) in the freshman filly trot final with Frank Coppola Jr. in the sulky while Casie's Believer (Betterthancheddar) scored in the freshman filly pace for Shawn Gray to wrap up the evening. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

On Tuesday September 19, Monticello Raceway will host the final leg of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing 2-year-old pacing fillies. The next stop for the upper echelon fillies will be the NYSS Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday October 14. As luck, would have it, or not, the top 4 point leaders are competing in the same heat of Sire Stakes in race 10. Ubettergo Go is the point leader by with 207 points, followed closely by Hurricane Shorty with 205, Alexis Faith with 200 & Betterthangraduate with 195. The first heat of Sire Stakes is race 8, the 6-horse field will race for $53,500, Surreal Feeling has reeled off 6 consecutive wins in the Excelsior B class, the $6,000 Goshen Yearling graduate was impressive last week at Batavia, where he made a break at the start and gathered himself to still win in 1:57.2, taking a new lifetime record in the process. The connections of Surreal Feeling have opted to jump over the Excelsior A's and tackle the elite group, she will start from post 5 for trainer Dale Lawton and will be driven by leading Monticello Raceway dash leader Jim DeVaux. KJ's Bekah (PP4) has traveled a similar path, already a 3-time winner in the Excelsior A class, the $140,000 Lexington Select yearling purchase is owned by Kenneth Jacobs. The daughter of American Ideal - Upfrontandpersonal is trained by Linda Toscano, and will be driven by Jason Bartlett. The 2nd dash for the cash ($54,500) has a trio of evenly matched freshman fillies, all with similar paths, as they have individually have won 3 Sire Stakes each, thus far this season. The top point leader of the category Ubettergo Go, drew post position 4, the daughter of Art Major- Ubetterthink is trained by Blake Macintosh, Mark MacDonald will drive. Her credentials are impressive with over $87,000 in earnings, she scored a NYSS win in her last start at Batavia Downs in 1:55.3 and sports a speed badge of 1:53 taken at Vernon Downs. Right next to her behind the starting gate is another Goshen Yearling Sale alumni Hurrikane Shorty ($8,000) from post 5, her black type includes 2 NYSS wins at Yonkers, and 1 at Saratoga. The Art Major - Speed Date offspring is owned by Little E, Jason Settlemoir & A. Geiger, she is trained by Kevin McDermott, Jason Bartlett is in the bike, she is the fastest filly of the bunch with a mark of 1:52, taken at the Meadowlands. The morning line favorite, by virtue of drawing the rail is Alexis Faith, she also has 3 win blankets in her tack trunk this year, she is 3rd in points in the division with 200. Cassie Coleman trains the American Ideal - Cannae Cammie bay filly for owners West Wins Stable, Jim Fielding, J Robert Darrow and Kevin McKinlay. The 2 time NYSS winner Betterthangraduate, will start from PP6 and will be driven by Matt Kakaley. Post Time is 12:50 By Shawn Wiles

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, September 14, 2017-- Yonkers Raceway Thursday night (Sept. 14th) hosted the $167,500 New York Sire Stakes Mike Cipriani Trot for harness racing 3-year-old fillies. A pair of equally-parses, $83,750 divisions comprised the event, named for the Raceway's longtime award-winning photographer...and two high-class lasses did not disappoint. The opening event saw Hudson Trot winner Celebrity Ruth (Jason Bartlett, $2.10) return the legal minimum to win after having the legal minimum amount of angst. From post position No. 5, she worked around Mamora Bay (Sam Schillaci) before leading at every weigh station (:29.2, :59, 1:26.4, 1:55.3). The margin, 2¼ lengths entering the lane, was a wrapped-up length at the wire. Mamora Bay was a never-threatened second, four lengths in front of Maewegonow (Charlie Norris). For Celebrity Ruth, a daughter of 2012 Yonkers Trot winner Archangel owned White Birch Farm and trained by Trond Smedshammer, it was her seventh win in 13 seasonal/career tries (3-for-3 here). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid (local season-low) $3.50, with the triple returning $9.40. The second and final Cipriani division had to wait out a power issue (first-turn lights). When the wattage returned, Barn Bella (Jeff Gregory, $2.40) saved her best for last. Unhurried from post No. 4 (in one notch after a scratch), Barn Bella watched as polester Ostrich Blue Chip (Scott Zeron) led through intervals of :29, :59.1 and 1:27.2. This Ostrich was not about to put her head in the sand, opening 2½ lengths off the final turn. Meanwhile 'Bella,' the defending sire stakes champion, was out briefly before setting fourth. She then moved with purpose from the half, eventually ducking into a vacant pocket before taking her shot at the leader. Barn Bella was relentless, finally wearing down her foe by a neck in 1:56.2. Chapter Too (Brian Sears) was third, beaten 6¾ lengths. For Barn Bella, a Conway Hall miss co-owned by (trainer) Steve & Nancy Pratt and Purple Haze Stables, it was her 11th win in 14 '17 tries (17-for-22 lifetime). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $5.30, with the triple cancelled due to the limited number of starts (five, after that defection). Neither the unexpected delay nor the fact his date was coming in off two breaks (Batavia and Tioga) was a concern to Gregory. "She just didn't handle Batavia,:" he said. "The turns there are just too flat for her. I didn't drive her at Tioga the start before, so I can't speak to that. Tonight, she seemed very relaxed and I just wasn't going to race her off her feet early. "I knew she had enough get-up, but the other filly (Ostrich Blue Chip) made us work for it." Frank Drucker

Tioga Downs will end its 2017 campaign on Saturday night (September 16) featuring two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing sophomore pacing colts and geldings . The first division ($61,300) will feature morning-line favorite, Outkast Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.), who is at 5-2. Owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock and trained by G Buzzy Sholty, Outkast Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Heaven) has won two legs of the NYSS. He first won at Buffalo and then he captured a leg his last time out at Yonkers. The second morning-line choice at 7-2 is Music Is Art (Jim Marohn Jr.). The 3 year-old colt by Art Major is owned by Peter Blood with Rick Perks and trained by Mike Deters. He has three wins in 13 starts this season. The most impressive race was his third place finish in The Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs on August 20th. In the second division ($62,400), the morning-line favorite is Cultural Paradise (Jim Morrill Jr.) at 5-2. Owned by Bradley Grant and trained by Larry Remmen. Cultural Paradise (American Ideal) has hit the board in all 12 starts this season. He has finished first five times (all at Yonkers), with five seconds and two thirds. Pointomygranson (Jim Marohn Jr.) is the top rival at 3-1. The 3 year-old American Ideal gelding has won legs of the NYSS in his last two starts. Owned by Gold Standard Equine LLC and trained by Chris Ryder. he won the legs at Monticello and Yonkers. The post time for the 11 race card at Tioga Downs is 6:50. Fireworks follows the live racing. For more information please go to www.tiogadowns.com. John Horne for Tioga Downs

Batavia, NY---The $121,500 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters rolled into Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 13) and the track record for that age, sex and gait, which is also the all-time track trotting mark of 1:54.3 set by Archangel in 2012 was tied by his son, Top Flight Angel (Archangel-Top Photo). In the first $60,200 division, Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) left the gate, took the lead and called all the shots from there. Travelling well in hand and totally unchallenged the entire mile, Top Flight Angel set quarter fractions of :29, :58.2 and 1:26.2 while opening up a five-length advantage in the process. With the fans on hand aware of the track standard, all eyes were simultaneously on the leader and the clock as Top Flight Angel cruised down the lane and won in 1:54.3, tying the mark. "He was awesome; he just breezed around there. He likes the half. It's just a matter of getting him out of the gate and keeping his attention. He's got the (NYSS) final in a couple of weeks, the Breeders Crown if he's up to it and a couple later stakes. So hopefully we'll be going to the Breeders Crown" said driver Andy Miller. It was the fourth win of the year for the Yonkers Trot champion, Top Flight Angel ($3.80) and it pushed his earnings for 2017 to $362,016 for owner Legendary Standardbred Farm. Julie Miller trains the winner. In the second $61,300 division, Swell Chap (Drew Monti) left from post six and dropped in third as Icanflylikeanangel (Mickey Mc Nichol) took the lead. The field was moving at a brisk clip (:28.1, :57.3) when Monti pulled Swell Chap and started an outer flow in front of the grandstand. Swell Chap drew alongside Icanflylikeanangel and the two matched strides up the backstretch and around the last turn when Stick With Me Kid (Chris Lems) joined the party three-deep coming into the stretch. With the three across the track, Icanflylikeanangel gained a short advantage, but Swell chap swelled-up and came back under urging to win by a length in 1:56.1. "He raced awesome. He put in a good effort at Buffalo (Raceway on July 9) but I didn't get the trip I wanted. I didn't get it tonight either but he got the job done. He's a nice horse" said driver Drew Monti. The win was the sixth of the season for Swell Chap ($11.60) whose earnings now total $157,451. Foge McKeever and Eldon Thompson own Swell Chap (Chapter Seven-Gia) who is trained by Todd Rooney. Two $15,000 Excelsior A series races were also featured on the card Wednesday. Big Man Ev (Chapter Seven-Possessed By Lindy) won the first division wire to wire in 1:56.4 with Andy Miller aboard. Big Man Ev ($3.10) is owned by the Andy Miller Stable, the Lindy Racing Stable and Harvey Eisman and is trained by Julie Miller. Zack's Zoomer (Deweycheatumnhowe-Passageway) won the second division, cutting the mile in 1:55.2 for Jim Morrill Jr. Zack's Zoomer is owned by the Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Harvey Eisman. Erv Miller does the training. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

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