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Meadow Lands, Pa. - Members of The Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association assembled at The Meadows for an $8100 trot and after a perfect pocket trip Alesha Binkley rallied Luminosity to a solid 1:56.2 harness racing victory over eight rivals. Sent off as third choice in the competitive field Luminosity paid $9.60 for win. After starting from the pole position Steve Oldford sent 18-1 shot, A Royal Line, to the lead and they had command as the field trotted by the first stanza in a swift :27.3 with the eventual winner tucked in nicely in the two-hole. With no one challenging Oldford then grabbed leather and lead the field by the halfway point in :58.1. But as the field headed to the three quarters Oldford fed his trotter racetrack and despite a :28.3 quarter they couldn't shake Luminosity who was enjoying a covered two-hole trip. When the field rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt A Royal Line's stride began to shorten and Oldford could do nothing more but watch Alesha Binkley rally Luminosity to a 1-1/4 length victory. And in the deep stretch John Sikaras got the betting favorite, Formor, up for second money. A Royal Line held on for the show dough.. Luminosity , a 10 year-old altered son of Cash Hall, scored his fourth seasonal triumph and 50th of his illustrious career. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi and trained by Ron Burke.   by John Manzi for the Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 26, 2020 — In a lively affair full of movement, Marsala Hanover made the best move last en route to harness racing victory in Wednesday’s Meadow Cheer, a $206,133 Pennsylvania Sire Stake for freshman filly pacers, at The Meadows. Marsala Hanover zipped to the lead from post 7 for Scott Zeron only to see the three-wide Continualou overtake her before the quarter. That was the signal for Uptown Hanover to seize the point from fourth. Continualou attacked again with Marsala Hanover in tow — and all this before the half. When Marsala Hanover passed the hard-used Continualou, she was in front to stay, defeating Thebeachiscalling by 1/2 length in a career-best 1:52. Mackie Hanover rallied for show. Winning trainer Linda Toscano indicated that Marsala Hanover’s demanding trip concerned her at first. “That’s the first time we’ve really called on her,” Toscano said. “We’ve tried to protect her a little bit, and she’s been the beneficiary of great trips. Today she had to make her own trip. Scott used her hard, and she fought hard to the wire.” Zeron, however, said he never doubted the daughter of Captaintreacherous-Marinade Hanover would have enough in the tank. “She’s really a professional horse,” Zeron said. “I knew that I could leave with her and she would relax for me. I would have been content to sit behind Continualou, but the brigade kept coming. The way mine felt up the backstretch, I thought I would let her go her own speed and try to get command of the race. I didn’t think she’d give up, and she didn’t.” Marsala Hanover, who wrapped up a berth in the $260,000 PASS championship Sept. 5 at Pocono, now has earned $192,435 for owners Enviro Stables, South Mountain Stables, Little E LLC and Westminster Road LLC. $60,000 PA Stallion Series — 2-Year-Old Filly Pacers When Odds On Whitney’s big brother appeared at The Meadows July 25, all he did was fly to a world-record 1:47.1 in an elimination of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids. Alas, it was the final race in the career of Papi Rob Hanover, as a fractured coffin bone forced his retirement. But little sister upheld the family honor big time in Wednesday’s subfeature, as Odds On Whitney rolled home in a stake-record 1:51.3, shattering Brazuca’s former mark of 1:52.2. Fighting Evil was second, 5 lengths back, with Podium Girl third. Odds On Whitney                                                               --Chris Gooden photo Tim Tetrick had an opportunity to drop in third early with the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Panera Hanover, but he abandoned the cones after a few steps. “She was a touch on the aggressive side,” Tetrick said. “I thought she was the one to beat, so I put her where she could get there easiest. Her breeding says she has a lot of capability. She did it easily today.” Odds On Racing campaigns Odds On Whitney. The other stallion series splits went to Darby Hanover and Atomic Fireball. Darby Hanover began her career in sires stakes, but she has thrived in the stallion series, as she won her third straight leg and nailed down a spot in the $40,000 championship. Winning driver Zeron, who quarter-poled to the top with the daughter of Betting Line-Darena Hanover, said the shift has suited her. “She’s so comfortable in this class,” he said. “She’s been finishing strong, and that’s the thing you want most for a 2-year-old filly. I think the shift was the right move; hopefully it pays off next year.” Darby Hanover races for trainer Julie Miller and owners Andy Miller Stable and Caroll Huffman. The Meadows will host all eight stallion series championships on Monday, Sept. 7. Trainer Tim Twaddle collected three wins on the 15-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday when the 15-race program features a pair of stakes for freshman colt and gelding pacers — a $213,858 PASS and a $60,000 PA Stallion Series event — as well as a $2,339.43 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 25, 2020 -- Trailing by 6 lengths at the half, Pace Baby Pace picked up life cover and exploded in the lane to capture Tuesday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $10,800 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace. Things didn't look good for the even-money favorite when she got away towards the rear. But she advanced rapidly behind the liver cover of Summer Char, peeled of that cover through the final turn and scored for Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. in 1:50.4. Always Giggling was second, beaten a neck, with Touchamatic third in the Lightning Lane. Ron Burke trains Pace Baby Pace, a 4-year-old daughter of Sweet Lou-Breakheart Pass who lifted her career bankroll to $158,211, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Dave Palone and Burke each collected three wins on the 15-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the 15-race program features a pair of stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers -- a $206,133 Pennsylvania Sires Stake and a $60,000 PA Stallion Series event -- as well as an $846.93 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, July 30, 2020 -- Saturday's $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids promises to be exciting, and now, The Meadows has upped the ante by adding a harness racing Super Hi-5 wager on the Adios with a $50,000 guarantee. Moreover, the entire pool will be paid out. Ordinarily, the Super Hi-5 jackpot is paid only if there is a single correct ticket with the top five finishers in their exact order of finish. However, The Adios Super Hi-5 pool will be split among all those with correct tickets. The last time The Meadows offered a mandatory Super Hi-5 payout, players bet so enthusiastically that the pool exceeded $300,000 and provided a healthy return for all winning ticketholders. In addition to the Super Hi-5, the program offers two total-pool carryovers: $2,441.84 in the Early Pick 4 (race 3), $1,908.78 in the Early Pick 5 (race 2). The Adios Day card gets underway at the special post time of 11:25 AM, with advance Adios wagering available beginning at noon Thursday. The Adios, which goes as race 15 with an approximate post time of 4:02 PM, anchors a powerhouse card that also features the $107,320 Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, a $59,088 Arden Downs stake for freshman colt and gelding pacers, and a $35,690 Arden Downs event for 2-year-old filly pacers. Other highlights include a pair of stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters: a $187,182 Pennsylvania Sires Stake and an $80,000 PA Stallion Series event. While the Adios will be staged without spectators, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is keeping the event festive with a number of digital activities. First, the MSOA will live stream from the winners' circle beginning at 11:15 AM Adios Day. The live stream, which will feature celebrity guests, will be available on the MSOA's Facebook and YouTube pages. The MSOA also will offer free Adios Day programs and a virtual hat contest (sponsored by Altmeyer Wilder Racing) with a $250 top prize. Visit for your free program and the chapeau competition. And if you enter, think orchids, think purple. The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association is sponsoring the live stream and events along with: Altmeyer Wilder Racing; Amulet Equine Rehab & Conditioning Center; Betts Racing; Billboards on Wheels; Buxton Racing; Corkboard Concepts; Dentons Cohen & Grigsby; Dirk Simpson Stable; Hambletonian Society; Kahrig Racing; Keystone Films; Kristen's Beauty Salon; Pacing for the Cure; Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association; Saxton & Stump; Silverstone Decorative Concrete; Twaddle Racing; Visit Washington County PA; Washington Wild Things and Winbak Farm. The MSOA gratefully acknowledges the support of all sponsors. Here's the field with post positions, Sire - trainers, drivers and morning line odds: $375,000 Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids 1. Later Dudes - Sweet Lou - Brian Brown - David Miller 8-1 2. Capt Midnight - Captaintreacherous - Tony Alagna - Andrew McCarthy 4-1 3. Catch The Fire - Captaintreacherous - John Ackley - Mike Wilder 3-1 4. The Greek Freak - Captaintreacherous - Ron Burke - Matt Kakaley 5-1 5. No Lou Zing - Sweet Lou - Nancy Takter - Josert Fonseca 7-1 6. Sweet Truth - Sweet Lou - Ron Burke - Yannick Gingras 12-1 7. Chief Mate - Captaintreacherous - Tony Alagna - Scott Zeron 20-1 8. Captain Barbossa - Captaintreacherous - Tony Alagna - Brian Sears 6-1 9. Elver Hanover -  Yankee Cruiser - Ron Burke - Chris Page 10-1 By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, July 27, 2020 -- Itsmycheck GB aggressively retook the lead at the three-eighths and made the move stand up, capturing Monday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $10,800 Conditioned Pace. Itsmycheck GB was away first for Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. before K Ryan Bluechip quarter-poled to the point. Itsmycheck GB and Wrenn wanted no part of the pocket, seized the lead once more and went on to defeat K Ryan Bluechip by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:51.1. Our Third Rock completed the ticket. Ron Burke trains Itsmycheck GB, an 8-year-old Check On Jack-Judy Hall gelding who has won four his five domestic starts since being imported from Great Britain by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Burke enjoyed a four-bagger on the 15-race card while Dave Palone and Jim Pantaleano each piloted three winners. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the 15-race program features a $20,795.43 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the Early Pick 4 (race 3). Also Tuesday, post positions will be drawn for Saturday's $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids. First post Tuesday 1s 12:45 PM.  

WASHINGTON, PA, June 24, 2020 -- Tequila Talkin commanded the mile from start to finish, putting away a couple challengers and capturing Wednesday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $10,800 Conditioned Trot, in a sharp 1:54.4. Tequila Talkin and Dan Rawlings grabbed the point early from post 5 and refused to release Truman Jr Hanover, who found a seat third. Tequila Talkin later thwarted the first-over bid of Cherry Peep and rolled home to down her by 1-3/4 lengths, with Truman Jr Hanover third. Richard Perfido trains Tequila Talkin, a 5-year-old Cantab Hall-Margarita Nights gelding who lifted his career bankroll to $145,383, for Thomas Mattingly. Elsewhere on Wednesday's card, fans of classic television got a thrill when Aunt Bee, a 3-year-old filly trotter named for the wise but vulnerable matriarch in The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D., broke her maiden in her eighth try. Wilbur Yoder piloted the daughter of Donato Hanover-Mayberry for trainer Kelly Rader and owners Greg Callihan and Susan Callihan. Mike Wilder collected four wins on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday when the 2020 revised stakes schedule kicks off with the $53,528 Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters. Heading the field is Sister Sledge, last year's Pennsylvania freshman champion who banked $555,313. Also featured is a $2,093.64 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, June 23, 2020 -- Icanflylikeanangel flew to a front-end victory in a career-best 1:53 in Tuesday's $17,900 Open Handicap Trot at The Meadows. After the winner was pressured to a demanding 26.4 opening panel, Mike Wilder was able to give him a 29.3 second-quarter breather. With that, the 6-year-old Archangel-Fox Valley London gelding easily thwarted the first-over challenge of Rising MVP and downed the pocket-sitting Lady's Dude by 2-3/4 lengths. Classicality finished third. Randy Bendis trains Icanflylikeanangel, who now boasts career earnings of $361,116, and owns with Pollack Racing LLC. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., trainer Ron Burke and Wilder each collected a pair of victories on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $1,748.20 carryover in the Pick 5 (race 2) and a $1,156.29 carryover in the Super Hi-5 (race 13). First post is 12:45 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, June 14, 2020 -- If you've forgotten that the late Pick 5 and the Super Hi-5 were uncovered on the final harness racing card at The Meadows before the COVID-19 shutdown, you're forgiven; that was March 16, 91 days ago. But it means that when live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, June 15, the 10-race program will offer a trio of rich wagering opportunities: a $2,026.34 Pick 5 carryover (race 6); a $5,243.61 Super Hi-5 carryover (race 10), and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the early Pick 4 (race 2). The Meadows will offer four live cards each week -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday -- each beginning at the new post time of 12:45 PM. Monday's card features an ultra-competitive $17,900 Open Handicap Trot; the eight heavyweights in the field boast combined earnings exceeding $4.58 million. Three of the contenders have recent pari-mutuel starts under their belts. Icanflylikeanangel (post 8, Mike Wilder) finished second in a June 6 Open Handicap at Northfield. Perlucky (post 6, Dave Palone) was a hard-used third in a May 26 Open Handicap at Northfield while Final Breath (post 4, Brady Brown) actually has a pair of recent outings. He won that May 26 event at Northfield and finished sixth in a June 5 Open at Scioto Downs. Also formidable is Smalltownthrowdown (post 5, Aaron Merriman), a 7-year-old millionaire making his initial start in the stable of trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Here’s the exotic wagering schedule for Monday’s card: ·      Daily Double — Races 1&2, 9&10; ·      Exacta, Trifecta — Every race; ·      Superfecta — Every race, 10-cent minimum wager; ·      Pick 3 — Races 3&8, 50-cent minimum wager; ·      Pick 4 — Races 2&7, 50-cent minimum wager; ·      Pick 5 — Race 6, 50-cent minimum wager; ·      Super Hi-5 — Race 10, 20-cent minimum wager. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

The Meadows will be hosting harness racing Qualifying Races on Monday, June 8, 2020 at 11 AM. The box closes on Saturday, June 6, 2020 at 10 AM. Preference will be given to stables which are regular participants at The Meadows, horses who have not raced since February 1, 2020 or are on the Qualifying list for poor performance. No Two-Year Old entries will be accepted. Horses who have started and have a clean line after February 1, 2020 will not have to qualify to race when live racing returns. We are working feverishly with all parties involved to get approval to resume live racing. Mark J. Loewe

The Meadows, as all racetracks in Pennsylvania, has been dark since mid-March due to the state’s COVID-19 shutdown order. How quickly could horses and horsemen resume harness racing once the track is permitted to reopen – with or without spectators? Says The Meadows-based horseman Gary Johnston: “My horses are ready to drop in the box tomorrow.” Johnston’s schedule for a return to racing is only slightly optimistic, and that’s the advantage harness racing has over other sports whose seasons have been suspended. While those other athletes may need time to work themselves into shape, Standardbreds have continued to work right through the COVID-19 lockdown, although they haven’t been asked for peak performances. Moreover, other sports trying to resume may have rescheduling headaches. While The Meadows and other tracks might need to reschedule some stakes races, for the most part, they can pick up where they left off. And since The Meadows Casino & Racetrack live-streams its races on its Website, fans would have instant access. The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is exploring possibilities for expanding that access, including partnership with a broadcast TV station. For Standardbred owners, trainers and their staff and drivers, the lockdown has been tough financially – expenses have continued, revenue hasn’t. The state also has suffered financially, losing its share of commissions on handle, a considerable sum over the course of a year. Johnston, who trains his 12 horses at the Butler County Fairgrounds about 60 miles north of The Meadows, relies on family for help, so he hasn’t had to lay off anyone. He gave his owners a discount on their bills to encourage them to keep their horses in training. And he and fellow Butler County trainers got a break themselves when the Butler Fair Board reduced stall rental fees. “It was small, but it helps,” he says. Johnston has been giving his horses what he calls “doubleheaders” – back-to-back training trips in jog carts so they stay sharp without overdoing it. “They see the field, the exerciser and the track,” Johnston says. “They don’t miss a day. That’s true of everybody at the fairgrounds. We have to get faster miles into them. If they say we can race at the end of May, we’ll ship down to The Meadows and go those fast miles.” Much the same is happening at The Meadows where, with financial support from MSOA, the track has kept its backside open for the resident equine population. Trainer Dirk Simpson has taken advantage of the opportunity to give his 27 horses the same doubleheaders Johnston’s are logging. “They do their normal jogging, their doubleheaders and after that pasture time, weather permitting,” Simpson says. “We get them out every day. No fast miles, although I’ve seen some do it.” Simpson hasn’t laid off any staff, although he’s not hiring as many gig workers to help with jogging. He offered owners a “slight break” on their training fees. Still, he lost three horses when their owners opted to turn them out and avoid training bills entirely. Even if tracks in other states reopen before The Meadows does, Simpson intends to keep his horses right where they are. “If you give us 10 days, we would have time for a couple fast works,” he says. “I think my barn would be competitive off that.” By Celeste Van Kirk Reprinted with permission of The Observer-Reporter

WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 4, 2020 -- Harness racing pacer Touchamatic stalked Lakeisha Hall from the pocket, then powered past her in the lane to capture Tuesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Touchamatic and Lakeisha Hall distanced themselves from the rest of the field, effectively turning the stretch drive into a two-mare duel. Touchamatic had little trouble overtaking her rival, downing her by 2 lengths in 1:52.2 in the slop for Aaron Merriman. McDazzle rallied for show.   Bill Bercury trains Touchamatic, a 6-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch who boosted her career bankroll to $447,522, for Renee Bercury. Dave Palone and Merriman each piloted three winners on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $7,002.59 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 and a $1,150.29 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6). First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 29, 2020 -- Golden Muscle put his harness racing rivals away with a powerful uncovered move and captured Wednesday's feature at The Meadows, an $11,500 Filly & Mare Conditioned Trot. Golden Muscle was fourth when Brian Zendt sent her after the leader, Bessie. The 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Mass-Golden Goose headed Bessie into the final turn and then drew off, defeating Jailhouse Buckaroo by 2 lengths in 1:57.2. Chuckie Me completed the ticket.   Todd Rooney trains Golden Muscle, who lifted her career bankroll to $139,928, for Foge McKeever. Dan Charlino and trainer Bill Provost teamed for a pair of victories on the 13-race card while Tony Hall, Dave Palone, Brian Zendt and trainer Scott Betts also enjoyed doubles. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday when the program features a $1,776.39 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 23, 2020 -- Heavenly Knox has known more adversity than most harness racing horses. Confusion surrounding his registration kept him from racing until 4. Last summer, he was so sore that his connections retired him . . . not for the first time. But the old warhorse loves competing so much that he refused to stay retired. Now, at 9, he's back at it, adding to his $124,750 bankroll and defying Father Time. Heavenly Knox will go from post 2 with Dan Charlino aboard in Friday's seventh race at The Meadows. First post Friday is 1:05 PM. His career began in uncertainty. The son of The Panderosa-Mystical Shark trained down well in Illinois for John Zawistowski -- known as Johnny Z on the backside -- who has conditioned Heavenly Knox for most of the gelding's career. But the horse's owner, awash in financial difficulties, somehow never managed to get Heavenly Knox properly registered. Thus, he missed his entire 2- and 3-year-old seasons, and it was only when he was acquired thereafter by George Bonomo's Wolf Creek Farm that Heavenly Knox was made eligible to compete. Because he was unregistered, he remained unnamed. An opportunity for a name arose in the worst way imaginable when the son of Zawistowski's daughter, Ashley Mitchell, and her husband, Marty Mitchell, died at birth. The baby was named Knox, and to honor his memory, the unraced horse was called Heavenly Knox. Despite his star-crossed beginnings, Heavenly Knox began to show promise, winning his first four starts and taking his mark of 1:51.3 as a 4-year-old. While on his streak, he provided reinsman Dave Magee with the final winning drive of his Hall of Fame career. Zawistowski shifted his late bloomer to The Meadows, where he won the championship of the 2015 Walter Russell Memorial Pace and headed east for further conquests. But the rigors of racing left him with breathing issues and frequent soreness. Zawistowski and Wolf Creek decided to retire him. And again. And again. "He came back like a cat from three or four different shutdowns," the trainer says. "He has some kind of heart. I always thought that had something to do with my grandson." By the summer of 2019, though, Zawistowski had seen enough. "I said 'that's it, he's done. He'll never have a harness on again.' We decided to retire him for good and keep him as a family pet. But out in the field, he was racing dogs and everything that came by. All he wanted to do was race." So Zawistowski brought him back again, and the old boy responded well, collecting a win and a pair of place finishes since his most recent "unretirement." He hasn't earned as much as he might have because his connections -- understandably, given his meaning to them -- won't put him in a claimer; he's usually in with tough conditioned types a little beyond his reach. But Zawistowski has learned not to mention the "r" word around Heavenly Knox. "If he had been able to stay sound, he'd probably have a record of 1:48 or 1:49," Johnny Z. says. "Even now, you can't really jog him; he wants to go by everything. That's what makes him a great race horse." By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 15, 2020 -- Harness racing driver Ed McNeight, Jr. passed $10 million in career purses Wednesday at The Meadows with his victory aboard Big Booty Rudy in race 7. It was career win 3,516 for McNeight and lifted his total purses to $10,001,903. McNeight began his career on the Buffalo-Batavia circuit before relocating to The Meadows in 1994. He was inducted into the Upstate New York Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2011.   In Wednesday's feature, an $11,800 Conditioned Trot, following an aborted quarter-pole move, Slated To Win found his best stride down the backside and went on to score in 1:57.1. Dan Rawlings tipped Slated To Win at the quarter but wasn't happy with the way that was working out and was able to duck back to the cones. However, when he came first up with Slated To Win, the 4-year-old Uncle Peter-Slated For Success gelding wore down the leader, Aftermeyourfirst, and downed the rallying Malloy by a neck. Aftermeyourfirst saved show. Kelly Stackowicz trains Slated To Win for George Beck.   Tony Hall and trainer Scott Betts teamed for a pair of victories on the 13-race program while trainer Kevin Johnson and Rawlings also fashioned a double. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday when the card features a $2,307.96 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association    

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 6, 2020 -- New Year's morning in Slippery Rock, southwestern Pennsylvania. The weak early light barely picks up the two figures approaching a barn. Horsenappers? Holiday revelers hung over and lost? The barn door bursts open, and Bill Bercury and his wife Renee shower their harness racing horses with treats, then serenade them with a chorus of "Happy Birthday." Most in the Standardbred game know that all horses are assigned a birthday of Jan. 1, but how many horsemen and horsewomen go out of their way to celebrate that day with their horses? The Bercurys do, and that affection and concern may be one of the reasons for their enduring success. Their success never was more evident than in 2019, when Bill Bercury topped all trainers (in the Less Than 300 Starts category) with an eye-popping .580 Universal Trainer Rating (UTR). Andrew Adamczyk was second at .524; no one else topped .500. In 123 starts, the Bercury stable rolled up 51 wins and earned $617,870, an average of more than $5,023 per start. The Bercurys' program is to purchase proven equine commodities -- "We buy damn nice horses," Bill says -- pay fair market value for them and train them to even greater heights. They're limited by stall space to six horses, but each was outstanding in 2019 performing at The Meadows and sometimes Northfield Park. The Bercurys' six-pack includes: Touchamatic, Older Pacing Mare of the Year at The Meadows and winner of 18 of 36 starts last year. "A big part of our success was having her lead the pack," Bercury says. Barn Girl, an 8-year-old trotting mare who's won exactly half her 132 lifetime starts and $860,478. Carolina Beach, a consistent Preferred pacer who banked nearly $150,000 in 2019. Major Nemesis, a terror at Northfield before being shelved with an injury. Blue Ivy, at 4, the youngest of the contingent and perhaps the one with the most upward potential. The filly pacer closed the year with a five-race winning streak and $131,537 in seasonal earnings. Wind Of The North, a 10-year-old trotting millionaire who missed 10 months with an injury. He's set to qualify Thursday. Bercury credits his assistant, Mike McDowell, with getting the most from that talented bunch. "He's very good with the horses, and he's very good about noticing the things that are bothering them. He never says, 'Don't worry about it, it's nothing.' He takes care of it." Bercury also cites the impact of Aaron Merriman, who was aboard for most of the Bercury stable's starts en route to his third consecutive thousand-win season -- a harness racing first. "We have the best driver in the sport driving our horses -- how many points is that worth?" But perhaps the most important factor in the Bercurys' success is that, while they're savvy business owners, they treat their horses with compassion. "As long as you operate in a dignified manner, your horses learn to trust other horses, and they learn to trust you," Bercury says. "As long as you don't violate that trust, they become comfortable with you. That's so important to the horse's attitude." Other western Pennsylvania horsemen fared well in the UTR Fewer Than 300 Starts category, as Robert Rougeaux III ranked 8 at .432 while Mike Palone checked in at 21 with a .397 UTR. As for the year just begun, Bercury is realistic about his chances of successfully defending his title. "Let's face it, .580 is nosebleed territory, and you can't expect to be there every year," he says. "But I expect to have an outstanding year." The 2020 season at The Meadows kicks off Monday with a 13-race card that begins at 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Washington, PA – December 1, 2019 – The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is happy to announce Jeff Zidek as the new harness racing announcer replacing Roger Huston who resigned in November. Zidek, a native of North Apollo, PA., has been calling races for 32 years as the backup announcer for Huston since 1987 as well as County Fairs in Pennsylvania and Ohio.   Zidek’s racing resume is lengthy, working in all aspects of the sport. He has owned and trained Standardbreds, worked for more than 10 years as a publicist for the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission serving the PA Fair circuit, and has worked as a marketing consultant for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, as well as a track handicapper at The Meadows.   His professional career outside of harness racing includes stints at Fox Sports Pittsburgh and Fox Sports Radio as an on-air host, and he has spent the past 17 years as the Sports Information Director at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.   “I’ve had a great career both in and outside of the racing industry, but for me, this is like coming home,” said Zidek.   “The Meadows gave me my first opportunity in broadcasting, and then gave me my first opportunity in public relations and marketing. I built my career off that foundation, and now I get to come back home and serve the racing community on a full-time basis again. I can’t wait to get started.”   “The Meadows is thrilled to have Zidek join the team as the Announcer, his talents are unlimited and we look forward to working together to make The Meadows better than ever”, said Mark Loewe, Vice President of Racing for The Meadows.   Zidek will begin his new position December 6.   by Mark J. Loewe, for The Meadows

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