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In A Single Bound (Roll With Joe) won his first local Open Pace last month at Saratoga Casino Hotel and the Monica Krist harness racing trainee has become a staple in the feature ever since. On Saturday night, the five year old started from post position one and wound up getting a pocket trip behind Mar Nien A (Greg Merton), the race's other 8-5 co-favorite. After checking in at three quarters in 1:23.2, Mar Nien A still appeared strong but was met with a late challenge from In A Single Bound who came flying up the passing lane. Those two hit the wire noses apart but it was the Krist-trained pacer who prevailed, stopping the timer in 1:51.3 for his fourth victory of the year and second in the $15,000 Saturday night Open Pace. Mar Nien A had to settle for second while Carolina Beach (Mark Beckwith) earned the show spot. The win was the 20th in the career of In A Single Bound in just 48 lifetime starts. The exacta comprised of the pair of 8-5 shots paid $23.00 while the triple returned $47.80. Leading driver Billy Dobson, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, piloted the Open winner as well as another for Krist on the card. Their Half A Billion (Sportswriter) set a lifetime mark in a $10,000 event for pacers, going coast-to-coast in 1:51.3, the same final time as his stablemate In A Single Bound scored in in the evening's feature. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:00 Noon first post.   Mike Sardella

Trenton, NJ — It is safe to say emotions have run the gamut for 18-year-old Zack Gray over the past year. On June 10, 2018, his dad, popular trainer/driver Bobby Gray, passed away at age 56 — shortly before Father’s Day. Flash forward to this past Saturday (May 11) at Saratoga Casino Hotel, the night before Mother’s Day. As sad as things were 11 months earlier, they were that joyous for the family when Zack earned his first harness racing driving win in his 36th start. Making it more special is that he won driving Cool Jack, a pacer that his his mom, Sheryl, co-owns with Joe Facin Jr. and David Faile. “It was pretty good because I figured that’s what (my dad) wanted me to do,” Gray said. “It felt good, but it was a little sad too. I know my mom was pretty happy.” That’s an understatement. “It was the best Mother’s Day present,” Sheryl said. “But it was exciting because it has been Zack’s dream since he was a little boy. Friday was a rough day for us as it was (exactly) 11 months since my husband’s passing. Zack’s Nana Gray and uncle had just drove from Florida and were there for the weekend. Zack is very well-liked and everyone was cheering for him at the home stretch.” Zack nearly got his first win last November with Cool Jack, missing by a neck in a third-place finish. On Saturday, the tandem had to come from behind, with Zack coolly taking advantage of fast early fractions as the leaders reached the opening quarter-mile in :27.1 and the half in :55.1. “I was sitting last at the quarter pole,” Gray said. “I saw the fractions and I thought, this is going to work out good because my horse absolutely flies home. I took the lead around the last turn and I won by three (and a half lengths). I was pretty happy. It was pretty good.” As he crossed the finish line in 1:54.3, Zack looked up and pointed his whip skyward in a salute to his dad who, like his son, was also well-liked and respected. “It took my dad a long time to win his first race and I think he’d be proud of me to accomplish it earlier than he did,” Zack said. “I knew mine would come at some point. You’ve just got to be patient.” Bobby Gray was licensed in 1982 and was a career amateur driver. He competed in the C.K.G. Billings Series and in amateur races predominantly in Maine. He also ran a small stable and amassed 189 wins, 183 seconds and 169 thirds in 1,412 lifetime starts. Those finishes pocketed $564,166 in purses. Perhaps his biggest legacy was doing all he could to care for his horses, and always being there to help his colleagues at the track. He apparently passed that trait on to family members, who were his number-one priority. “He was also well liked in the harness world,” Sheryl said. “Zack sure follows his footsteps in that aspect.” Bobby took his son under his wing and Zack remembers jogging his first horse at age 5. “I loved it right away,” he said. The family sold its stable in 2012 and soon moved from Maine to Saratoga. Bobby went to work for Jimmy Nickerson and Zack tagged along. “I didn’t really start working for somebody until two years ago,” he said. “I always helped my dad. I started working for Dave Spagnola and I worked there for a while.” Bobby became a huge supporter when Zack started driving, and early on some more emotions churned up. “He was always there when I started qualifying,” Gray said. “When I qualified a week after he died, it was kind of different. But I know that’s where he wanted me to be.” Zack Gray earned his first driving win in his 36th start on May 11 with Cool Jack. Melissa Simser-Iovino photo. Zack has driven Cool Jack in all but two of his starts since last November. He is trained by Amanda Facin, Joe’s daughter. “He’s been a good little horse for me; he’s a cool little horse,” Gray said. “And the people who help me out in the barn are just wonderful people. The Facin family helped me out with buying the horse and they’ve been there ever since.” Gray does not do any catch driving, and as far as helping out in stables he said, “I just kind of freelance,” mostly at Saratoga. He is trying to make his way in the business and has full support from Sheryl and sisters Dawn and Mikayla. “My mom is always there to root me on,” Gray said. “Good or bad, she says ‘You did a great job.’ And my two sisters are excellent, they cheer me on and give me support.” As far as driving goes, Zack will continue to do it for now, but has other plans. “If I can get some more wins now driving, I’ll do it,” he said. “But I like training too. I think I could go a little ways as a driver, but I’d like to be a trainer and drive my own stable.” Whatever he decides, his family will be right behind him with support, as will Bobby from up above.   by Rich Fisher USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

After a scratch, the featured field on Sunday afternoon was down to six participants at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The six-pack of Open trotters slugged it out for their share of the $15,000 purse and Mandeville (Majestic Son) emerged victorious with leading driver Billy Dobson in the bike. Mandeville was a two-time Open winner at the Spa in 2018 but scored his first win of the season just last week when he stopped the timer in 1:54.2, the fastest clocking for any trotter at Saratoga this year. Mandeville was up into Open company on Sunday and brushed up to take over the lead approaching the half mile pole and once he made the lead, the Don Billings-trained trotter never looked back. Mandeville withstood heavy pressure from the race's favorite Bobs Hope (Jay Randall) who came into Sunday on a three-race win streak in the Open. Mandeville proved up to the task and rebuffed Bobs Hope who still earned a second-place finish. Longshot Cartier Volo was third in the mile clocked in 1:55.3 over a track labeled 'good.' Mandeville paid $9.50 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $21.40 and $126.50, respectively. With the victory, Mandeville becomes just the fifth horse at the Spa to win an Open Trot this season, a level that has been dominated by two horses that he defeated on Sunday, Bobs Hope and Cash Me Out. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

In 2014 and 2015, Panocchio (No Pan Intended) was named harness racing Pacer of the Year at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Jimmy Mattison-trained pacer also took home honors for Horse of the Year after his fantastic '14 campaign. On Saturday night, Panocchio was back at the Spa after spending the winter racing at Pompano in Florida. The nine year old veteran drew the rail in the $12,500 featured Winners Over and driver Gerry Mattison marched the classy pacer out to the early lead. After getting a second-quarter breather, Panocchio clicked off a first half in 57.3 and had plenty left in the tank for the final lap. The first-over threat to the leader was the race's even money betting favorite In A Single Bound (Billy Dobson) but he saw bid rebuffed by Panocchio who drew away to win in 1:53.1 to make his return to the Spa a winning one. Pocket-sitting Rise Up Now (Jimmy Devaux) finished second while In A Single Bound had to settle for third. Panocchio paid $6.30 to win and led an exacta and triple in the feature that paid $41.60 and $95.50, respectively. Trainer Jimmy Mattison and driver Gerry Mattison went two-for-two on the Saturday card at the Spa as their Century Endeavor (Shadow Play) came from off the pace to prevail earlier in the evening. Live racing resumes on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Westsluckycam (Camluck) debuted last month at Saratoga Casino Hotel after the Jose Godinez harness racing trainee raced in the claiming ranks at Yonkers for much of the year. After a claim in March by Godinez, the six year old mare climbed the class ladder at Yonkers before coming to the Spa in April to compete in the $12,500 Winners Over for mares. Westsluckycam had a win and a second at that level before testing her fate in the local Open for the first time last week. Bruce Aldrich Jr. is her regular driver in the local tries and piloted her to a second-place finish in last week's installment of the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open. On Thursday afternoon, the Godinez-trained distaffer drew post five in the six-horse local feature and powered out to the early lead. Westsluckycam set a sensible pace in lap one and after checking in at the half in 57.4 appeared to have plenty left in the tank. Facing just a brief challenge from first-over rival Queen Elsa (Steve Genois) around the final turn, Westsluckycam kicked away in the stretch to win in 1:55 for her sixth victory of the year and her first in the local Open. Pocket-sitting Sandy Sue (Billy Dobson) was the runner-up in her local debut while Queen Elsa earned the show spot. Westsluckycam paid $8.00 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $26.40 and $101.50, respectively. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at the Spa with a 6:45pm first post.   Mike Sardella

With the New York Sire Stakes season having kicked off this week, a couple of three year old trotting fillies who competed in harness racing stakes competition last season and may be prepping to do the same in 2019 prevailed at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Trainer Bob Gale is based out of central New York but often competes at Saratoga and on Wednesday, his RC's Lady Royale (RC Royalty) drew the rail for her try in a $7,500 trotting event for New York sired high-steppers. Having finished a fast second on Sunday afternoon at the Spa, RC's Lady Royale was the public's 1-5 betting favorite as she went coast-to-coast on Wednesday with Jay Randall in tow. The filly who earned over $15,000 as a freshman in '18 has come back strong to begin her '19 campaign set a lifetime mark with her score in 1:59.3 and appears poised for a solid season in Excelsior Series competition. Somermusic'chapter (Chapter Seven) raced in the Sire Stakes last season and though the Dan Daley trainee was winless as a freshman, she did earn over $17,500 in just seven starts. With lasix added and hopples off, Somermusic'chapter made her sophomore debut on Wednesday and driver Gerry Mattison was in to drive for Daley. The three year old filly powered up first-over and cruised past her race's favorite before drawing away to break her maiden in 2:00.2 to kick off her season in style. The first installment of the NYSS at Saratoga will take place on May 26th with the three year old trotting fillies competing at the Spa on Sunday June 9th. Melissa Simser

A trio of memorials served as harness racing features on the Saturday night card at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The 7th annual JP Morel Memorial Pacing Series went for a purse of $32,000 while the 5th annual Virginia O'Brien Memorial Pace was contested for a $32,300 purse and both races saw career-best performances from their winners. Mantario (Sportswriter) drew the rail in the JP Morel Memorial Pace Final and was the odds-on betting favorite. With Billy Dobson in his sulky, Mantario cruised to victory and set a new lifetime mark of 1:53.1 in completing the series sweep. The only winner of both legs of the series, Mantario was a decisive winner on Saturday as he bested stablemate Energyzone Hanover (Jay Randall) who had to settle for second-best. Mantario joins Finnish First, Mach To The Max, Starznheaven, Hillbillycashflow, In A Single Bound and Justin Credible as winners of the JP Memorial Pacing Series. In A Single Bound, like Mantario, was and is trained by Monica Krist and driven by Billy Dobson, making them the first tandem to be a two-time winner of a series at the Spa. The Virginia O'Brien series for lady pacers was so well balanced that there were six different winners in the divisions heading into Saturday's final. Reflexionofroyalty (American Ideal) was the even money betting favorite in the final after she impressed in outclosing her rivals in leg two. She came into the night with five victories in her eight starts in 2019. Jimmy Devaux wasted little time putting the favorite on the lead and the Allen Sisco trainee cruised from there. Reflexionofroyalty set a lifetime mark, scoring in 1:55.2 to add her name to the list of previous winners of the Virginia O'Brien Memorial Pace that is comprised of Karla Art, Shesnobeachboy, Nashurallability and Maggies Way. The 1st annual George Karam Memorial Invitational Pace was contested on Saturday and was won by local superstar Artful Way (Artistic Fella). The Jackie Greene-trained pacer went coast-to-coast in 1:50.4, matching the time of his stablemate Hudson Phil as the fastest of the season for any horse thus far at Saratoga in 2019. Artful Way, the three-time defending Pacer of the Year at the Spa, recorded his 56th win in 147 career starts. Frank Coppola Jr is his regular driver and was in the sulky for Saturday's score. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:00 Noon first post. Mike Sardella

Happy Heart (Woodstock) came into Thursday's harness racing feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel with a pair of second-place finishes in the Open Pace for fillies and mares in 2019. The Melissa Beckwith trainee scored three victories in the local feature last season and on Thursday recorded her first of the year as she closed sharply up the inside in the five-horse Open. Brian Cross picked up the catch-drive and sat third throughout the mile with Happy Heart before the rail opened up at the top of the stretch. With the race's odds-on favorite Coveredndiamonds N (Jay Randall) starting to tire on the lead, pocket sitter Westsluckycam (Bruce Aldrich Jr) moved to the outside turning for home. The passing lane opened up for Happy Heart who was dismissed at odds of 7-1. The six year old mare surged up the rail and scored in 1:54.1. Westsluckycam finished second while Coveredndiamonds N had to settle for third in the $15,000 Open. Happy Heart paid $17.20 to win and led an exacta that returned $90.00. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a first post scheduled for 6:45pm.   Mike Sardella

Pumping Irony (Muscle Mass) pulled off a mild harness racing upset in the $33,400 John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series Final contested at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Wednesday. Steve Genois piloted the Eve Bergeron trainee to a second-place finish in leg one of the series before going wire-to-wire in leg two leading up to her try in the final for the series that honors the memory of John Mongeon Sr, a longtime horseman at Saratoga. The final featured 1-5 betting favorite Xcuse Me (John Stark Jr) who hadn't been defeated in his first four starts in 2019 heading into Wednesday's tilt including his two tries in the series' legs. Pumping Irony drew the rail for the final and wound up sitting the pocket to Xcuseme who hadn't faced a formidable challenge in his first few starts on the campaign. Xcuseme cruised through a first half in an honest 58 seconds and was met with the challenge of a longshot approaching three-quarters. All the while, Genois sat patiently in the pocket with Pumping Irony before the passing lane opened up turning for home. One of just two mares in the field, Pumping Irony flexed her muscles in the stretch and surged by the big favorite to record the mild upset in a career-best 1:57.2. Xcuseme had to settle for second-best on Wednesday while Iamnotlefthanded (Jay Randall) earned the show spot. Pumping Irony paid $12.40 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $28.40 and $73.00, respectively. The $15,000 consolation of the series went to Southwind Tinker who herself put in a career-best performance on Wednesday for trainer Dave Dewhurst and driver Jimmy Devaux, scoring in 2:00 in the consolation. Pumping Irony adds her name to the list of previous winners of the John Memorial Sr. Memorial Trotting Series which is comprised of Pop I, Order By Don, Quick Feet, Palmers Pride, Reigning Autumn, Spoiler Alert and now Pumping Irony. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee set to kick off at 12:00 Noon. There is a Pick Five carryover of $2.024. The Pick Five begins in race one. Mike Sardella

Bobs Hope (Donato Hanover) has become the “host” of the Sunday matinees this season at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Amanda Kelley harness racing trainee returned to the Spa in March from a successful winter stint at Pompano in Florida. The seven year old former claimer put his immediate stamp on the Open Trot when he prevailed in his first start back at Saratoga, parlaying a pocket trip to victory at odds of 5-1. Ever since then, Bobs Hope hasn’t gone off anywhere close to 5-1 but he has just kept winning. On Sunday, he was the public’s even money favorite as he looked to score his third consecutive victory in the $15,000 local feature. Driver Jay Randall moved Bobs Hope out to the early lead and from that point on, it was smooth sailing. The rising trotting star cruised to a nearly three-length win in 1:56 for his fourth victory in the local Open and sixth overall this season. Longshot Windsun Missile (Brett Crawford) got the pocket ride to Bobs Hope and finished second while CR Blazin Beauty (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Randall has been the regular driver for the Trotter of the Year at Saratoga in three of the last five seasons and may well be again as Bobs Hope has simply dominated the Open Trot in the early portion of 2019. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon with first post time set for 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

Saturday night featured two harness racing divisions of the second leg of the JP Morel Memorial Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Each division for five year olds and younger went for a purse of $10,000. Leading driver Billy Dobson and trainer Monica Krist teamed up with winners of both divisions, scoring open-length romps with their three year old geldings. Mantario (Sportswriter) became the only repeat winner in the series as he scored a decisive victory in 1:55.1 on a chilly evening in the Spa City. Mantario's 1:54.2 leg one win was by far the fastest of the series heading into next week's final. Energyzone Hanover (American Ideal) was a beaten favorite in leg one of the Morel Memorial but had little difficulty recording a four length win in a career-best 1:55 with Dobson in the sulky. Energyzone Hanover came into the series three-for-three in the win column in 2019 before suffering a rare defeat in leg one as rival Super Roll (Jimmy Devaux) got past him in the final strides to pull off the mild upset. Super Roll reversed roles in leg two as he ended up as the runner-up to Energyzone Hanover in leg two. The final of the 7th annual JP Morel Memorial Pacing Series will take place next Saturday night (May 4th) and is set to be contested for a purse of $32,000. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00 Noon. Mike Sardella

John Stark Jr's Xcuseme (RC Royalty) will head into next week's final of the John Mongeon Memorial Trotting Series as the big favorite. The three year old trotter cruised to his fourth consecutive harness racing victory on Wednesday's matinee card going back-to-back in the two legs of the series and staying undefeated in 2019. Xcuseme made pretty easy work of his competition as he coasted to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:58.1, the fastest time of the leg two winners. While Xcuseme was the most decisive of the leg two winners in the Mongeon Trot, he wasn't the only repeat victor. Living Proof I Am (Prayer I Am) also went back-to-back in the series' legs as he got up in the final strides on Wednesday to score in 1:58.3, matching his win time from last week which was a career best. Phil Fluet piloted the Andy Byler trainee to both of his series' scores. The other division of the second leg was won by Pumping Irony (Muscle Mass). The Eve Bergeron-trained trotter cruised to victory as the public's 1-5 betting favorite on Wednesday with Steve Genois in the sulky. A runner-up to Living Proof I Am in leg one, Pumping Irony recorded a convincing romp in 1:59 to punch her ticket to next week's final which will go for a purse of more than $30,000. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Saturday marked the kickoff of the 2019 edition of the harness racing JP Morel Memorial Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel. There were two divisions for the young colt and gelding pacers, each of which went for a purse of $10,000. The series' clear favorite heading into it was Energyzone Hanover (American Ideal). The three year old pacer came into the race with a three-for-three record this season and with four consecutive wins overall dating back to last year. The betting public was not deterred when the Monica Krist trainee drew the outside post for leg one of the Morel Memorial Pace and still made the sophomore his race's 2-5 favorite. Despite getting an easy lead and not facing a challenge until the final turn, Energyzone Hanover (Billy Dobson) was defeated on Saturday night as the Dave Byer-trained Super Roll (Roll With Joe) got the best of him in the stretch. Super Roll, who set a lifetime mark in leg one of the series as he scored in 1:55, paid $13.40 in the mild upset. Jimmy Devaux piloted Super Roll to the career-best victory. Energyzone Hanover had to settle for second-place despite racing well once again. In didn't take long for Dobson and Krist to avenge the defeat in the leg one try as their Mantario (Sportswriter) made good in the other division of the $10,000 Morel Pace on Saturday. Mantario was the big favorite while coming in off four consecutive second-place finishes but shook his seconditis as Dobson moved the three year old pacer out to the early lead. They never looked back, stopping the timer in 1:54.2 for the decisive leg one victory. Mantario gave Dobson, the meet's leading driver, one of his four winners on the Saturday card. Leg two of the seventh annual Morel Memorial Pacing Series will take place next Saturday night with the $30,000+ Final scheduled for the following weekend. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12 noon first post. Melissa Simser

There were three divisions of the first leg of the Virginia O'Brien Memorial Pacing Series that took place as harness racing co-features on Thursday's matinee card at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Each division of the series for filly and mare pacers went for a purse of $10,000. Perhaps the favorite heading into the fifth annual O'Brien Memorial was Chase You (American Ideal). A winner of three of her four starts in 2019 heading into Thursday's first leg, Chase You has been a dominant force on the engine thus far this season. Bet down as the 2-5 public choice on Thursday, Chase You made the lead once again with Brett Crawford in the sulky. While the favorite certainly didn't prove dominant, she had enough to get the job done and record her fourth win in five seasonal tries, stopping the timer in 1:57.1. Though her effort couldn't be deemed dazzling, Chase You did enough to perhaps still be considered the favorite in the series for lady pacers. Qing Qong Bluechip (Brian Cross) set a lifetime mark in her division of the O'Brien Pace as the Henry Westbrook III trainee took advantage of a late break by her race's favorite and took over the lead in the stretch, one that she would not relinquish. Her second win of the season came in a career-best 1:56.3, a win time that proved to be the fastest among the leg one winners. Delightful Trysta and her trainer-driver Phil Fluet scored in the final division of leg one of the series, coming on in the stretch to prevail in 1:58.3, a time that also served as a career-best for the three year old filly. Both Qing Qong Bluechip and Delightful Trysta paid $11.60 to win in their mild upsets. Next Thursday's card will feature leg two of the O'Brien Memorial Pace with the $30,000+ Final scheduled for the following week. Live racing resumes at Saratoga on Saturday night with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella  

Saratoga Springs, NY – George J. Karam passed away on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Born on September 4, 1958 in Rome, NY he was the son of the late George B. and Elizabeth (Abounader) Karam. George was a 1976 graduate of Rome Free Academy and for many years ran the family business, Thrifty Food Store. On December 5, 1997 he married his love, Joy Rolewicz, and together they moved to Saratoga Springs.  George had a lifelong passion for harness racing and horse ownership which led to a career in training and racing horses in Upstate NY. He also served as president of the Saratoga Harness Horseperson’s Association. This in turn led to his dream job of judging harness races. At the time of his passing he was the Presiding Judge at Yonkers Raceway.  Family was everything to George and his love, passion and special bond with his son was undeniable. His greatest joy was watching him excel into The Voice of the Saints and following all the local sports at Saratoga Catholic Central where Brandon is presently a junior.  Survivors include his wife Joy and beloved son Brandon; two brothers Douglas (Fredice) Karam of Rochester Hills, MI and Joseph (Jennifer) Karam of Bannockburn, Illinois; his sister Genevieve (Frank) Tallarino of Rome, NY; sister-in-law Jill (Henry) Koziarz of Rome, NY; step-mother Madeline Karam of Utica, NY and several nieces and nephews.  Relatives and friends may call from 3 to 7pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff Funeral Homes, 628 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs (518-584-5373).  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10am Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at the historic Church of St. Peter, 241 Broadway by Rev. Thomas H. Chevalier, pastor. Burial will be private at the convenience of the family.  In lieu of flowers please consider donations to an education fund set up for “Brandon R. Karam”, c/o Catskill Hudson Bank, 2452 State Route 9 Suite 104, Malta, NY 12020 (518-289-5463).

Wednesday marked the kickoff of the 7th annual harness racing John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series at Saratoga Raceway. There were lifetime marks set in all three divisions of the first leg of the series, each of which went for a purse of $10,000. John Stark Jr's Xcuseme (RC Royalty) came into Wednesday two-for-two on the season and on paper appeared to be the one to beat in the series heading into the first leg. Xcuseme wasted little time moving out the lead as his race's 1-5 betting favorite and never faced an anxious moment en route to scoring a career-best victory in 1:57.1. He was the fastest of the series' winners on the day by a significant amount. Living Proof I Am (Phil Fluet) was aggressive in the early going in his division of leg one and found himself on the front-end for the first time aided by his inside post position. The Andy Byler-owned and trained trotter had hit the board in five of his seven starts on the year heading into his try in the Mongeon Trot in which he held off the late charge of rival Pumping Irony (Steve Genois) en route to a career-best win in 1:58.3. The final division of the day went the way of Lisa Zabielski's Aerial Flight (Conway Hall). Overcoming her outside post, Aerial Flight sat the pocket to the race's favorite Powerscourt (Mickey McGivern) and surged by him in the stretch to prevail in 1:58.4, another lifetime best win time for a Mongeon Trot participant. Leg two of the Mongeon Memorial Trot will take place next Wednesday with a $30,000+ Final set for the following week. Live racing continues on Thursday at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:00 noon. Mike Sardella  

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