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Plainville, MA---When Ron Cushing took Kehmmywood gate to wire to win the eighth race at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (Aug. 9), he also hit a career milestone by registering his 2,500th lifetime driving win. Born in Farmington, Maine, the 54-year-old Cushing started his driving career in 1981 at age 17. He has competed and just about every north-east track from Maine to New Jersey and has won numerous driving titles over the years. In his 16,718 starts he has won 2,500, has been second 2,332 times and third another 2,214 to earn $10,458,183 in purses. 2016 and 2017 for Cushing were his best years percentage-wise, finishing with a .315 and .327 Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) respectively. He had a career year for wins in 2006 when he scored 218 and his best season for earnings came a year later in 2007 when he made $1.225 million. Both of those years he was competing regularly at Yonkers and Saratoga. Currently at Plainridge, Cushing has 17 wins in 127 starts with $154,516 in earnings. In the feature trot at the Ridge on Thursday, One Swan For All (Wally Watson) got away sixth behind an up-front speed battle between French Moni (Greg Merton) and Pirate (Ivan Davies) then came third-over and three-wide around the fading Pirate at the three-quarters and around the entire last turn before turning on the speed down the lane to pass French Moni and win by three-lengths in 1:56.1. Overlooked at 10-1, One Swan For All ($23.60) scored his second straight win for owner Joel Wheeler. Lisa Watson trains the winner. Ron Cushing, Greg Merton and Joe Di Stefano all had driving doubles on Thursday. Live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (Aug. 13) with post time set for 4 p.m. by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

The enabling legislation to allow racing and simulcasting in Massachusetts was passed thru the Legislature on Thursday afternoon (Aug. 2) and has been signed into law by the Governor. As a result, live racing will resume on Friday (Aug. 3) at Plainridge Park Casino. Post time will be at 4:00pm. Eric Schippers, VP Public Relations and Government Affairs for Penn National Gaming, Inc. said "We're thankful to the Legislature, Massachusetts Gaming Commission and especially the urgent and able attention of our legislative delegation in resolving this issue and allowing for simulcasting and live racing to continue at Plainridge Park on Friday." The track was forced to postpone the card scheduled for Thursday (Aug. 2) until Friday (Aug. 3) after the legislation permitting live racing in the commonwealth lapsed on Wednesday. Thursday's (Aug. 2) double draw for Monday (Aug. 6) and Tuesday (Aug.7) will take place as scheduled later this afternoon. Plainridge Park management appreciates everyone's understanding and patience over the past couple of days. From the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---After winning handily last week at the Ridge in 1:52 off a :54.4 back half, Thisjetsabookin stepped up to the top class and had no problem repeating as he won the $14,000 Winners-Over Handicap pace at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (July 30). Deetzy (Greg Merton) took an early lead and scooted to the quarter in :26.2. Thisjetsabookin (Shawn Gray) sat behind him second while BJ's Guy (Jim Hardy) got parked out third, where he would stay for three-quarters of the mile. The race got to the half in :55.1 and the three-quarters in 1:22.2. That's when BJ's Guy finally faded, leaving room for Thisjetsabookin to make a move and duke it out with the leader. Deetzy and Thisjetsabookin were single file around the final turn until just before the top of the stretch when Gray pulled Thisjetsabookin and got him underway. It didn't take long for the order to change as Thisjetsabookin took flight and soared by Deetzy to open up a three length lead under a loose-line drive, hitting the wire in 1:50.4 to claim a new seasonal mark. After winning his fourth race of the season, Thisjetsabookin ($8.00) has now earned $84,980 for owner William Emmons and trainer Jeff Lieberman. There were two $12,000 condition races on the undercard that produced big efforts from their victors. In the conditioned event for 6-year-olds and under, Tixnstones (Jim Hardy) scored his sixth win in only 10 starts this year as he went gate to wire and opened up a six-length lead as he stopped the timer in 1:51.4 to take a new lifetime mark for trainer/driver Jim Hardy. Tixnstones ($6.40) is owned by David Thibault, Christine Thibault, Ed Nowak Jr. and Jim Winske. Then in the non-winners condition event for all-age participants, Major Bucks ($28.40) lived up to his name and delivered same after making a second-over, three-wide move at three-quarters for driver Chris Long to break an 0 for 24 streak in 2018 and win in 1:52. After racing primarily at Yonkers Raceway this year, Major Bucks found new life over the big track at Plainridge for owners Joshua Schwartz and Raymond Hoegen Jr. and trainer Elisha Lafreniere. Several drivers had multiple win outings on Monday. Drew Campbell led everyone with three trips for pictures while Jim Hardy, Chris Long and Shawn Gray each had two wins apiece. Live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday afternoon (July 31) at 4 p.m. by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---The Massachusetts Sire Stake (MASS) program continues to grow. Resident harness racing mare numbers are up again and the resulting stake eligible foals continue to increase. This year the connections of the state-bred 2 and 3-year-olds are looking forward to competing for a total of $1.28 million (est.) that will be up for grabs when the series is contested during the month of October. The success of Plainridge Park Casino has enriched the Standardbred breeding in Massachusetts as a result of the percentage paid to that program through the provisions of the Race Horse Development Fund. The $1.28 million in sire stake purses being offered this year reflects a third consecutive year of increases that are expected to see continued exponential imcreases as the Springfield Casino opens later this year and the Boston Harbor Casino comes online in 2019. The 2018 MASS dates are: Monday (Oct 1) 2-year-old First Leg ($25,000 added); Tuesday (Oct 2) 3-year-old First Leg ($25,000 added); Monday (Oct 8) 2-year-old Second Leg ($25,000 added); Tuesday (Oct 9) 3-year-old Second Leg ($25,000 added); Monday (Oct 22) 2-year-old Third Leg ($25,000 added); Tuesday (Oct 23) 3-year-old Third Leg ($25,000 added) and Tuesday (Oct 30) 2 & 3-year-old Finals ($85,000 est.) The first year starters are getting their season's underway now and some are doing well in other racing jurisdictions already. 2-year-old pacing filly Karan's Choice (Sportswriter-Denverlove) has been training in Ontario under the supervision of Michael Keeling and just recently broke her maiden while taking a lifetime mark of 1:57.2 in a conditioned race at Georgian Downs on June 30. She has been sustained in the lucrative Ontario Sire Stakes (OSS) program will be a contender in the Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) later this year. The filly was bred and is owned by Alfred Ross of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The George Ducharme trained 2-year-old trotting colt Jake G's Champion (RC Royalty-Super Starlet) has already made a start in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) at Buffalo, finishing second in 2:02.4. He looks to be a solid contender in his class off that first start and will also be one to watch in the MASS come October. Ray Campbell Jr. of Belchertown, Massachusetts bred and owns this prospect. Ross and Campbell teamed up in ownership with the Ducharme trained 2-year-old trotting colt Precision (Muscle Hill-Bourbon N Grits) who made a break at the wire in a 2-year-old qualifying start at the Meadowlands that saw him still trot in 1:57.3 with a :27.3 last panel. He has since qualified again at Vernon Downs in 2:00.1, winning by 11-lengths. He is a three-quarter brother to Hambletonian champion RC Royalty and is a prospect that bears watching as he moves forward this stake season in both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The 3-year-old class of Massachusetts-breds left their mark in the record book last year during their freshmen season as new stake records were taken on both gaits and for both sexes. All four horses are currently back in action and hopefully working their way back to this year's finals as well. Twelve (Shady Character-Sabine Hanover) won two divisions of the MASS, tying the stake record of 1:56 for 2-year-old colt pacers last year before finishing fourth in the final. This year Twelve is off to a stellar start, having already won two consecutive legs of the 3-year-old Maine Sire Stakes (MSS) for male pacers at Scarborough Downs and Bangor Raceway and he took both by open lengths. Dean Malin owns Twelve who is trained and driven by Eddie Davis Jr. Delco Dusty (Jereme's Jet-Gypsy's Good Girl) destroyed the standard at two, winning a MASS leg in 1:53. In returning to the track this year she had a very sharp qualifier in May at Hoosier Park, winning in 1:55.4 by eight lengths and pacing her back half in :55.4. Unfortunately after that race she suffered an injury that pushed the start of her year back some. Since coming back to Plainridge she has now qualified again and finished second in her first race of the season on June 29. Jesse De Long of Clinton, Wisconsin owns Delco Dusty who is trained by Jim Nickerson. Hashtagmadeyalook (Chapter Seven-Royalty Free) was the 2-year-old male trotting champion in the Commonwealth last year and posted a stake best 1:56.3 in the process. He has come back better than ever, already beating his career mark with a 1:55.4 clocking. Hashtagmadeyalook has made starts in the NYSS and Excel A series as well, winning his last outing in that group at Goshen, New York in 1:56.3. His remaining engagements in the Empire State will have him sharp as ever when he returns to Plainridge for the MASS fall classic there. Ray Campbell Jr. bred and owns Hashtagmadeyalook who is trained by George Ducharme and has been driven primarily by Scott Zeron this year. Campbell and Ducharme also have started Bag O Chips (Sierra Kosmos-Heather Spur) back this year after claiming the title of best 2-year-old trotting filly in 2017 and setting the new mark of 1:57.3 in that stake. However her season has gotten off to a slow start this year and as a result, her first race just came at Vernon Downs in an overnight on July 7. Other returning 3-year-olds to watch include Kinda Lucky Lindy and Ithinkthatsmine. Lindy Farms of Connecticut's Kinda Lucky Lindy (Lucky Chucky-Kinda Crazy Lindy) was Hashtagmadeyalook's main rival in the MASS last year, beating him twice before finishing second twice as well. But he also spent some time on the Grand Circuit and this year, seems to have taken a major step forward. After making starts in the NYSS and an elimination of the Empire Breeders Classic in May, Kinda Lucky Lindy came back to Plainridge and won two overnights in a row, taking a new lifetime mark of 1:54.2 in the process. That knocked almost four seconds off his old mark. The trotting filly Ithinkthatsmine (RC Royalty-Super Starlet) is another from the Campbell/Ducharme team and she has come back sharp, already winning three races this year; two of which came in NYSS Excel A action. She also took a new lifetime mark of 1:56.1 at Tioga Downs where she won by seven lengths. The filly competes well over any size track and has succeeded with a number of different drivers and that versatility will keep her competitive all year. Other MASS eligibles have qualified or are racing at tracks around the country now, but they all will be focused on being at their best come the beginning of October. For more information about the Massachusetts Standardbred breeding and Sire Stake programs log onto www.sominc.net. by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, Ma---The Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts (SOM) held their annual membership meeting and harness racing awards dinner on Sunday (Dec. 17) at Restaurant 45 in Medway, Massachusetts. The schedule of evening events included their annual meeting and election of Directors and that saw Nancy Longobardi and Paul Vacca re-elected to the board for another term. Shortly after, dinner ensued and the rest of the evening was focused on the presentation of trophies to the Massachusetts-bred champions of 2017 Here is a roster of the Commonwealth's best 2 and 3-year-old Standardbreds from this year:   2-year-old male trotting champion: Hashtagmadeyalook (Chapter Seven-Royalty Free) 4-2-2-0 $77,550 1:56.3 Breeder: Ray Campbell Jr. Owner: Ray Campbell Jr. Trainer: George Ducharme Driver: Chris Lems   2-year-old filly trotting champion: Bag O Chips (Sierra Kosmos-Heather Spur) 8-4-1-1 $93,100 1:57.3 Breeder: Lindwood Farm Owner: Ray Campbell Jr. Trainer: George Ducharme Driver: Chris Lems   2-year-old male pacing champion: I'm A Clown (I'm Gorgeous-Lordy Miss Scarlet) 8-4-2-0 $74,490 1:56.3 Breeder: KDK Standardbreds and Nelson Malin III Owner: Nelson Malin III Trainer: Kevin Switzer Driver: Shawn Gray   2-year-old filly pacing champion: Delco Dusty (Jereme's Jet-Gypsy's Good Girl) 14-3-4-2 $82,803 1:53 Breeder: Jesse J. Delong Owner: Jesse J. Delong Trainer: Heidi Rohr Driver: Greg Merton   3-year-old male trotting champion: Big Man Ev (Chapter Seven-Possessed By Lindy) 13-9-3-1 $142,300 1:53.3 Breeder: Lindy Racing Stable Owner: Andy Miller Stable Inc., Lindy Racing Stable, Harvey A. Eisman Trainer: Julie Miller Driver: Steve Smith   3-year-old filly trotting champion: Onangelwings (Archangel-Anotherpennyplease) 5-4-0-0 $90,160 1:58.4 Breeder: Al Ross, Paul Fontaine, George Ducharme Owner: George Ducharme Stable LLC, Al Ross, Paul Fontaine Trainer: George Ducharme Driver: Chris Lems   3-year-old male pacing champion: Lindy The Kid (Artistic Fella-Lindy's Bandita) 9-5-0-0 $94,175 1:54 Breeder: Lindy Farms of Connecticut Owner: Lindy Farms of Connecticut Trainer: Frank Antonacci Driver: Greg Merton   3-year-old filly pacing champion: Tanzanite Love (I'm Gorgeous-Love Rocks) 23-3-5-5 $79,234 1:55.3 Breeder: KDK Standardbreds Owner: Denmar Stable of Florida Trainer: Robert Marston Driver: Michael Stevenson   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---The curtain came down on the 2017 live harness racing season at Plainridge Park on Friday afternoon (Nov. 24) with many outstanding human and equine performances to mention from the 125 day meet. Greg Merton was the leading dash driver with 230 victories and those starts earned his connections $1.509 million in purses. Both numbers were new track records, smashing the same records Merton set last year. Merton was also the leading UDR driver (with a minimum of 100 starts at the meet) with a glowing percentage of .475. Jim Hardy was second for both wins and earnings with 109 tallies and $745,663 in the bank. Monique Cohen was the meet's leading trainer with 71 wins for the session while Frank Antonacci led in UTR (with a minimum of 100 starts at the meet) with a stellar .596 and in earnings with $467,917 deposited. All totals for both Cohen and Antonacci were new track records. The horses themselves were responsible for setting some records as well during 2017. There were 11 track records broken and two more that were tied during the course of the meet. The biggest day of harness racing ever held at Plainridge Park as well as in the State of Massachusetts, was responsible for two of those track records when some of the best aged trotters from the Grand Circuit convened at The Ridge on Friday (July 28). The old standard of 1:53 for an aged trotter was first beaten by Gural Hanover (Matt Kakaley) in 1:52.1. And then just one race later in Plainridge's signature event, the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot, JL Cruze (Andrew McCarthy) scorched the oval in 1:51.2 to break it again. The recently concluded Massachusetts Sire Stakes also set record numbers. The state-bred program distributed in excess of $1.44 million in purses which was the highest amount ever for that series and the horses that participated in those events were responsible for breaking eight stake records and also tying one more. In the three years since Plainridge Park has opened its gaming floor the effect on the racing product has been profound. In the track's recent filing to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for next year's racing dates it indicated that from 2015 through 2017 purses have more than doubled and handle has gone up 34%. The 2018 live racing meet will once again kick off in April and run through November with a total of 110 racing days. Year-round simulcasting continues without interruption. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- Plainridge Park will host the third leg of the Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) for harness racing 3-year-olds of both genders and gaits worth a total of $133,500 on Monday (Oct. 30). The races are carded as four non-betting events that will be held prior to the regular card with a post time of 1 p.m. The $32,700 3-year-old filly trot has Onangelwings (Archangel-Anotherpennyplease) looking to go three-for-three after taking the first two MASS contests in convincing fashion. Trainer George Ducharme and driver Chris Lems will be looking over their shoulder at Grits' N Seven (Chapter Seven-Bourbon N Grits) who has finished second in both races. Grits' N Seven's trainer Dawn Anderson has Steve Smith up to drive once again. The $34,000 3-year-old colt and gelding trot is a heavyweight match between Muscles Jared (Muscle Massive-Tetiana) and Big Man Ev (Chapter Seven-Possessed By Lindy). Muscles Jared won the first leg by eight lengths in a stake record time of 1:55.3, but Big Man Ev did not enter that week. In the second leg, Muscles Jared made a break and Big Man Ev was on point going gate to wire by five lengths in 1:54.3, which broke the stake and track record. Muscles Jared is sent out by Ducharme and Lems and Big Man Ev's trainer Julie Miller has Steve Smith in the bike. The $33,500 colt and gelding pace features Frank Antonacci's Lindy The Kid (Artistic Fella-Lindy's Bandita) who has had his way in this event so far, winning the first two legs handily. He has not really been challenged once he's gained the lead and driver Greg Merton will most certainly position him for another similar trip despite not having raced since the second leg of the series on Monday (Oct. 2). And the $33,250 filly pace finds the winners of the first two legs in a rematch. Meadows Rosebud (Western Maverick-Rose Of Aquamarine) won the first leg by three lengths in 1:55.1 but finished third to Spoxy's Girl (Neutralize-Royal Ribbons) by a length in 1:55.1 in the second. Both fillies have competed in Maine Sire Stakes (advantage Spoxy's Girl there) since they last met and should be legged-up for this race. Trainer Ralph Andersen will have Eddie Davis Jr. on board Meadows Rosebud while Mike Graffam has Nick Graffam in the bike behind Spoxy's Girl. The Massachusetts Sire Stake 2 and 3-year-old finals for both genders and gaits will be held at Plainridge Park on Monday (Nov. 6) and they will compete for an estimated $700,000 in purses.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, Ma---The third leg of the 2-year-old divisions of the Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) were held at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Oct. 23) and record harness racing performances were put forth in two of the four races. In the $33,800 2-year-old filly trot, Bag O Chips (Sierra Kosmos-Heather Spur) overcame a break at the start to gain the lead before the half and eventually pull away to a nine-length victory in 1:57.3, which was a new track and stake record for the winner, besting the 1:57.4 mark that she set in the first leg on September 25. The time was also a new lifetime mark for Bag O Chips who was driven by Chris Lems for trainer George Ducharme. Ray Campbell of Belchertown, Massachusetts owns the filly. Then in the $34,800 2-year-old colt and gelding trot, Hashtagmadeyalook (Chapter Seven-Royalty Free) got a perfect two-hole trip behind Kinda Lucky Lindy (Lucky Chucky-Kinda Crazy Lindy) before taking the lead in the stretch and opening up a four-length margin of victory in 1:56.3, which smashed the stake record of 1:58.1 and bettered the track record of 1:57 formerly held by Muscles Jared. It was also a new lifetime mark for Hashtagmadeyalook who was driven by Chris Lems for trainer George Ducharme and owner Ray Campbell of Belchertown, Massachusetts. There was no record set in the $34,266 2-year-old filly pace but a good effort was turned in none the less by Rock Me Threetimes (Rock N Roll Heaven-Love Rocks) as she pulled first over against a game Delco Dusty (Jereme's Jet-Gypsy's Good Girl) and held off a fast closing Momma Don't Dance (Art Major-Mommy Robin Q) to win by a long-length in 1:54, which was a new lifetime mark for the winner. Rock Me Threetimes was driven by Shawn Gray for trainer Kevin Switzer. KDK Standardbreds of Harrington, Delaware owns the filly. Finally, the only betting event of the four MASS races was the $34,900 2-year-old colt and gelding pace and Latent Print (Camluck-Affluence) turned a garden-spot journey behind I'm A Clown (I'm Gorgeous-Lordy Miss Scarlet) into a strong stretch drive and a length victory that produced a new lifetime mark of 1:57. Latent Print ($10.00) is trained and driven by Scott Renz of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania who also co-owns the gelding with Holly Guastalli of Port Richey, Florida. The third leg of the Mass 3-year-old divisions will be raced on Monday (Oct. 30) with the finals of all age, genders and gaits to take place on Monday (Nov. 6).   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---After a two-week sabbatical, the top state bred 2-year-olds of both gaits and genders will be back in harness racing action at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Oct. 23) for the third leg of the Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) vying for $137,766 in purses. Three races will go as non-betting events starting at 1 p.m. and the fourth is carded as race three on the regular card which has a 2:30 p.m. post time for the first race. The $33,800 2-year-old filly trot features Bag O Chips (Sierra Kosmos-Heather Spur) who won the first two legs by open lengths and set a new track and stake record of 1:57.4 for gender, age and gait. She is also the highest money winner in the race with $31,200 on the card and looks to add to her totals. Trainer George Ducharme has Chris Lems at the lines for the third straight start leaving from post three. Ithinkthatsmine (RC Royalty-Super Starlet) driven by Steve Smith and Jazz Me (RC Royalty-Promises Kept) driven by Jimmy Whittemore will be the main rivals in the race. Both are also trained by Ducharme. The $34,800 2-year-old colt and gelding trot has Kinda Lucky Lindy (Lucky Chucky-Kinda Crazy Lindy) coming in on a two-race MASS win streak as well and despite drawing post seven, looks solid to three-peat. With little inside speed, Kinda Lucky Lindy will probably set the front-end fractions again and add to his $56,508 bankroll for the year. Trainer Frank Antonacci has Plainridge Park's leading driver Greg Merton up again in the bike. Hashtagmadeyalook (Chapter Seven-Royalty Free) has finished second in both starts to Kinda Lucky Lindy, the last time only beaten three-quarters of a length. This will be only his third lifetime start and he has been improving each week. George Ducharme and Chris Lems team up again here from post five. The $34,266 2-year-old filly pace features another track and stake record holder, Delco Dusty (Jereme's Jet-Gypsy's Good Girl). Delco Dusty has won both of her MASS events, setting the new standard in her first start going 1:53 in the mile. She did race in an overnight at Vernon Downs last week finishing fourth and the start was a good tightener for her coming into this event. Trainer Heidi Rohr has Greg Merton aboard as in the two previous stake starts and they have drawn post three. Rock Me Three Times (Rock N Roll Heaven-Love Rocks) and Momma Don't Dance (Art Major-Mommy Robin Q) have each finished second and third one time behind Delco Dusty and will both be in hot pursuit again in this race. Rock Me three Times drew post one for trainer Kevin Switzer and driver shawn Gray and Momma Don't Dance drew post six for trainer Linda Toscano and driver Steve Smith. Finally, the $34,900 2-year-old colt and gelding pace has I'm A Clown (I'm Gorgeous-Lordy Miss Scarlet) the heavy 6-5 early favorite in the only MASS betting race of day. I'm A Clown won the first division of the series in 1:56.3 and finished second the following week to Pembroke Pharoah, who is not entered this week. I'm A Clown shipped to Harrington Raceway last week and won an overnight event and certainly looks the favorite part here, leaving from post seven for trainer Kevin Switzer and driver Shawn Gray. CBF Real Deal (So Surreal-CBF Fancy) has a second and third in MASS action and has stayed sharp in the off weeks finishing second twice in close finishes in overnights at Plainridge. Drawing well with post two, he looks to track the favorite with Nick Graffam steering for trainer Ralph Anderson. Here is the remainder of the schedule for the 2017 Massachusetts Sire Stakes at Plainridge Park: October 30 3-year-old Third Leg November 6 2 and 3-year-old Finals   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---Two horses took two different paths to victory in the day's harness racing featured races at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Oct. 16). In the $14,000 "Plainridge Special" SB Mike's Hot Beach (Heath Campbell) led every step of the way and held off late challenges by Quick Shot (Eddie Davis Jr.) and Cherokee Hiflyzane (Ron Cushing) to win by a length in 1:52.1, which was a new seasonal mark for the winner. Since being claimed on August 28, SB Mike's Hot Beach ($5.40) has had a win, three seconds and a third in six starts for owner William Mc Elvain Jr. and trainer James Dunn. Then in the $10,000 conditioned pacing event, Grand Theft (David Ingraham) got away seventh in the field of nine before pulling second over at the half and then tip three-deep around the last turn to out-muscle Silver Bullet (Steve Nason) down the lane to win by two-lengths in 1:53.2, which was also a new seasonal mark. Grand Theft slipped by the betting public at 49-1 and blew up the tote board with a $100.40 payoff. It was the second win of the year for the 5-year-old gelded son of Art Major who is owned by Kristie Leigh Farm Inc., Joseph Betro, Stephen Giagni and Stephen Demeter. Grand Theft is trained by Elisha Lafreniere. Greg Merton won five more races on Monday, pushing his win total for the meet to 208. Jim Hardy had a double and that moved him to 98 wins for the year and in second place in the driver's race. The top three trainers of the meet each had one win on the card: Monique Cohen now has 56 wins, Jim Hardy 47 wins and Elisha Lafreniere 45 wins. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday (Oct. 17) at 2:30 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---After being claimed for $12,500 on July 20, Prince Aston's performances merited a start in the Open at Plainridge Park two weeks ago. But stepping back down in class proved fruitful for his connections this week as he won the $12,000 harness racing pacing feature at The Ridge on Monday (Sept. 11). Prince Aston (Shawn Gray) got away a gapped sixth while He's Marvelous (Nick Graffam) took the field to the quarter in :26.4 and after a lead change, American Rock (Jim Hardy) led them through the second panel in :55.1. An outer flow formed at that point and Prince Aston was third over in the line as the group passed the three-quarters in 1:23.2. As the field bunched in the turn, Gray tipped Prince Aston three-deep around Vegas Dream (Greg Merton) and continued to advance despite American Rock's solid pace. With these three horses now even across the track at the head of the stretch, American Rock seceded and Prince Aston and Vegas Dream continued in an all-out battle. Going stride for stride all the way to the wire, Prince Aston got the last call and won by a half-length in 1:52.1. Prince Aston ($9.80) now has four wins and $36,773 earned this year for his owner Jeffrey Kaylor. The 5-year-old gelded son of Four Starzzz Shark is trained by Joe Therrien. In the co-featured $10,000 conditioned pacing event, Lindy Beach (Greg Merton) seated fifth briefly before charging for and getting the lead at the quarter. From there he led every step of the way en route to an easy three-length victory in 1:51, which was a new seasonal mark. Lindy Beach ($3.00) is owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and Frank Baldassare and is trained by Frank Antonacci. Greg Merton just keeps rolling along at Plainridge Park as he scored five more wins on Monday afternoon. The day's tallies included Life Isa Shortwalk (1:54.1, $3.40), Jus' Like A Virgin (1:54, $4.20), Lindy Beach, Beachchip Hanover (1:53.3, $3.40) and Superbowl Party (1:52.4, $13.60). Also, Shawn Gray had a hat trick of his own during the proceedings. Racing resumes on Tuesday (Sept. 12) at Plainridge Park with first race post time set at 2:30 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---Plainridge Park leading trainer Monique Cohen sent out four winners on Thursday (Sept. 7) and two of them captured both $12,000 feature races on the afternoon's harness racing card. In the top conditioned pace for fillies and mares, Beautiful Lady (Greg Merton) floated outside fifth passed the eighth pole as everyone seated off the gate. Then Merton hurried her to the front and dictated the pace from there. Getting to the half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:23.4 with only a mild bid from Hilaria (Nick Graffam), Beautiful Lady dropped her head, flagged her tail and paced away down the lane to win by two-lengths in 1:52.2. It was the fifth tally of the year for Beautiful Lady ($3.40) who is owned by Lester Gelardi Jr. and Anthony Passafaro. Then in the featured conditioned trotting event, Georgina Corner (Steve Nason) took to the pylons as horses argued for the lead three-deep to the quarter and then three-deep once again from the half to the three-quarters, before finding room up the pylons half-way down the stretch and trotting away from the field to win by two-lengths in 1:57. It was the first win of the year for Georgina Corner ($21.80) who is owned by Steven Finkelstein. Cohen also added wins to her statistics from Someplace Special (1:53.2, $2.60) and Fire N diamonds (1:54.3, $19.80) Greg Merton extended his already insurmountable dash win lead at The Ridge by five as he scored with Sgt Molly Pitcher (1:53.1, $3.40), Someplace Special, Beautiful Lady, Carolina Hurricane (1:54.3, $4.40) and Coco Lindy (1:56.4, $2.60). Cohen now leads all trainers at the meet with 45 wins and Merton has amassed 167 wins so far; more than double that of his nearest competitor. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, Ma---While many other state's sire stakes programs have already had their finals or have them coming up on the harness racing calendar soon, the Massachusetts Sire Stakes is preparing to get its 2017 schedule underway at the end of September. However, some horses competing in programs from surrounding states will also be starting in the Massachusetts program and that is because of the state's resident mare rule allowing dual eligibility for each Massachusetts foal. The 2017 Massachusetts Sire Stakes schedule is as follows: September 25 - 2 and 3-year-old First Leg $25,000 (est.) October 2 - 2 and 3-year-old Second Leg $25,000 (est.) October 23 - 2-year-old Third Leg $25,000 (est.) October 30 - 3-year-old Third Leg $25,000 (est.) November 6 - 2 and 3-year-old Finals $75,000 (est.) The success of Plainridge Park Casino has enriched the breeding program in Massachusetts as a result of the percentage paid to that program through the provisions of the Race Horse Development Fund. The $1.2 million in sire stake purses being offered this year is double that of 2015 and is expected to continue growing exponentially as the MGM Springfield Casino opens in 2018 and the and the Wynn Boston Harbor Casino comes online in 2019. Longtime Massachusetts breeders like Ralph Andersen, Eddie Blash, Steven Richards, Terry Mc Gee and Joel Wheeler have supported the breeding program in the state for many years and Maine based breeders like Kevin Switzer have also bred their mares to Maine sires and brought them to Massachusetts to foal. All the local breeders have experienced the lows of the past and are now poised for profiting from the highs of the future. The program, while still growing, has already found its place on the radar of many Grand Circuit trainers as well this year and sale prices from mares in foal and Massachusetts eligible yearlings are expected to noticeably rise at the sales this fall as the breedings are just now trying to catch up to the demand. And major players have had very positive comments this year about the Massachusetts Sire Stakes program and the direction it is moving in. Paul Kelley said "I think there's a lot of enthusiasm right now because of the new money that's available there. More and more people are trying to buy Massachusetts breds so the breeding program has the opportunity to expand. I think they've done a fantastic job promoting Plainridge and the breeding program and it's only a little over two hours from where I am so if I can buy a horse that can compete in their program, I definitely will invest in it. I love that area, I grew up in Walpole and I would love the opportunity to race there more often." George Ducharme said "The Massachusetts Sire Stakes has been a great success for the local horsemen. The guys who have stuck it out breeding there and kept their farms alive are finally going to get to benefit a little and get back on their feet. I think the program is going to just keep exploding the way it's going right now." Frank Antonacci said "We have been breeding in Massachusetts for quite a few years now and I think it's a great program. The way it's set up, it drives the economy in Massachusetts and it allows people to raise horses on great farms in in the state while breeding to the best stallions in the world. It's a fantastic program; a thoughtfully laid out program. And as the program continues to grow, it's set up perfectly." The Antonacci family currently has 14 Mass breds this year while Ducharme has 11, including Muscles Jared who just finished second in the $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes (PASS) finals at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday (Sept. 3). It's important to note that resident mares need to be registered with the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Health by December 1, 2017 in order for the foal to be eligible to the Massachusetts program. The foal will also be eligible to the state program where the stallion is standing, so having it eligible to two different stake programs simultaneously brings extra equity to the breeding. You can race your horse in the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Maine Sire Stakes and then bring it to Massachusetts in September and October and be entitled to even more earnings opportunities. This year Massachusetts breeders have gone from 56 to 72, the number of resident broodmares has risen from 40 to 111 and there are now 40 working Standardbred farms in the state. These numbers are expected to continue to go up as demand for these horses gets stronger and horses foaled in the state next year are expected to be the most valuable yet. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

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