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WASHINGTON, PA, June 19, 2018 -- Fox Valley Charm, who dominated The Meadows' elite distaff pacers earlier this spring, returned to her winning ways in Tuesday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap with a victory for Tony Hall in 1:50.2, a career best. It was one of five wins for Hall on the 13-race card. So sharp in April and May that she won three straight by a combined margin of 15-1/2 lengths, Fox Valley Charm lost her next three starts. On Tuesday, she took matters into her own hands by enduring a parked-out 27 first quarter and digging in late to hold off Lakeisha Hall by a neck. Rosemary Rose rallied for show. Dirk Simpson trains the 6-year-old daughter of Yankee Skyscaper-Fox Valley Cherub, who lifted her lifetime bankroll to $292,510, for Peter Karras. Elsewhere on Tuesday's card, Rose Run Uptowngal became harness racing's fastest 2-year-old pacer on a five-eighths-mile track when she rolled home in 1:53.4 in her career debut. Dave Palone piloted the daughter of Dragon Again-Victoria Gallery for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable; Phillip Collura; J&T Silva - Purnell & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 18, 2018 -- Lady's Dude yielded the lead to Classicality after a contested first quarter but brushed by him late in the Lightning Lane to capture Monday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Although Lady's Dude couldn't keep Classicality from the front, he stretched his rival out to a demanding 27 panel. That might have been just the edge he needed, as the 7-year-old Victory Sam-Lady's Star gelding scored for Tony Hall in 1:53, downing Classicality by 3/4 lengths. The first-over Call For Justice finished third. Ron Burke trains Lady's Dude, who now boasts $716,258 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, LLC and Johnny Yoder. Dave Palone, Mike Wilder and Hall each collected three wins on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 16, 2018 -- Stride Of Pride busted out of jail at the top of the lane and went on to capture his second straight victory in Saturday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Stride Of Pride was third into the final turn but in tight quarters along the cones. When Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. angled him wide off the pylons, the 5-year-old Manhardt-Apple B gelding brushed past Reggiano, who raced well first over, and downed him by a neck in 1:50.3. Rock The Nite shot the Lightning Lane for show. Ron Burke trains Stride Of Pride, who extended his career bankroll to $146,627, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, LLC and RTC Stables. Mike Wilder and Wrenn each collected three wins on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 14, 2018 -- When Born Of Fire seeks his third straight win in Saturday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows, it isn't clear how he'll handle the elite company he'll be facing for the first time. One thing is certain: he'll retreat from the gate and do his racing from behind. The confirmed closer goes from the rail in race 8 with Brian Zendt driving. Saturday's card also features a compelling variety of "big-score" opportunities for players: a $12,500 total-pool Pick 4 guarantee (races 4-7); a $5,000 total-pool Pick 5 guarantee (races 9-13); a $2,404.55 carryover in the day's first Superfecta (currently race 2), and a $2,517.70 jackpot in the final-race Super High 5. First post is 1:05 PM. Fox Racing privately acquired Born Of Fire earlier this season for trainer Jack Smith. The 5-year-old Dragon Again-Born Storyteller gelding hasn't enjoyed any stake income or glamor, banking $103,245 the hard way. On Saturday, he'll be racing for the biggest purse of his career. There's no question about his closing ability. In a June 2 conditioned event, he made up 10 lengths over the back half and scored in a career-fastest 1:51.3. Stepped up in class last week, he was just as spectacular, erasing a 9-length deficit and matching his life mark. But try as he might, Smith hasn't been able to get him to leave alertly. "If you put him on the gate in front of the grandstand, he feels like he could bust out of there," Smith says. "Then, as soon as they hit the start, he takes two steps backwards. It's unbelievable. I've tried different drivers, but no one can make him go. But he sure can kick it in. "He's a gentle giant, almost 16-1/2 hands. But he swishes his tail and doesn't want to train." Although Smith has been away from Preferred events at The Meadows for a little while, he's no stranger to fast-class horses. He's one of a handful of active horsemen who were at The Meadows when the track opened on June 28, 1963. Smith wasn't old enough to work on the backside legally, but he fudged his age and got away with it. Nearly 55 years later, he says competing in the Preferred remains a thrill for him. "Oh yeah, definitely, but I'm not sure this is the horse. He won't be close early, but he'll be chasing them down late." Saturday's program offers a number of fan-centered activities, including the track's "Rockin' on the Rail" series of live Saturday concerts. Airborne, featuring Jeff Jimerson, will perform on the apron at the conclusion of the races. In addition, fans can meet a live Standardbred on the apron, courtesy the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA). Other MSOA activities include paddock tours, starting gate rides and a "Pick the Winners" contest with cash prizes. To participate or for more information, stop by the MSOA table in the Racebook. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows  

WASHINGTON, PA, June 13, 2018 -- Barn Girl thwarted the late challenge of Ready Any Time and went on to capture Wednesday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Trot at The Meadows, her eighth win in 11 starts this year and the 50th victory of her career. Barn Girl endured a demanding opening quarter -- three wide in 27.1 -- before reaching the front, a trip that could have made her vulnerable. But in characteristic fashion, she dug in for Aaron Merriman when Ready Any Time loomed boldly and defeated her by 3/4 lengths in 1:54. The pocket-sitting Expose Yourself finished third. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, a 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie who lifted her lifetime bankroll to $683,668, for Renee Bercury. It was one four wins on the 13-race program for Merriman. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday, when the card features a pair of rich total-pool guarantees -- $12,500 for the Pick 4, $5,000 for the Pick 5 -- as well as a $2,404.55 carryover in the day's first Superfecta and a $2,517/70 jackpot in the final-race Super High 5. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 12, 2018 -- Stranded outside without cover past the half, Ilana Z Tam bowed her head, brushed past the leader and pulled off a 22-1 shocker in Tuesday's $80,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake at The Meadows. The event for 3-year-old filly pacers was contested over four divisions, with Seen At Rio Deo, Miss Hill and Zuluwarriorhanover taking the other splits. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. enjoyed a stake double behind Miss Hill and Zuluwarriorhanover among his four wins on the 13-race card. Ilana Z Tam followed the cover of Dark Force and Eric Goodell, but when they cleared, the daughter of Bettor's Delight-She's Rockin was in the rare air, an unenviable spot for a filly who had finished out of the money in her four previous starts this year. "She raced good last week; she had a lot of go for the first time," said trainer/driver Pat Lachance, who owns Ilana Z Tam with Z Tam Stables. "But I didn't think Eric would clear; I thought I'd be second over. I thought I was in trouble, but she showed up. She raced big." She bulled past Dark Force and scored in a career-best 1:53.4, a neck better than 3-5 favorite Dreams On Me, who was charging through the Lightning Lane. Dark Force saved show. The victory by Seen At Rio Deo also was unconventional and, at 17-1, about as unexpected. She was last at the half and sneaked up the cones rather than join the outside flow, a risky move that can yield a lack of late racing room. "The outer tier looked a little shaky when I gave it a look going down the backside," said winning driver Jim Pantaleano. "The horse who was first over wasn't responding, so I just took my chances. Obviously, we got lucky going up the inside. But she looked impressive last week, and they expected another big race from her." When the outside challengers retreated, as Pantaleano thought they might, he angled Seen At Rio Deo off the cones. She roared through the stretch and downed Real Fine by 3/4 lengths in 1:53, a life mark. Butchie Beach completed the ticket. Tony Alagna trains the winner, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-See And Be Seen, for Alagna Racing LLC and Deo Volente Farms. Miss Hill's win was more by the book, as she quarter-poled to the top and defeated Come Get The Cash by a length in 1:52.2 -- yet another life mark -- with Pretty Proud third. "She paced home really easy and was well within herself," Wrenn said. "I don't know what stakes she has coming up, but she's a nice filly. I'm sure she can compete in anything they want to put her in." Bruce Clarke conditions the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Ram Rocker and owns with Patricia Waldeck and John Coffey. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 11, 2018 — Sidewalk Dancer peeled off cover past the three-quarters, turned on the jets in the lane and rolled to her third straight victory in Monday’s $159,868 Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows. The event for 3-year-old filly pacers, known as the Adios Betty, was contested over two divisions, with Serene Stride taking the other split. All the victories in Sidewalk Dancer’s current streak, including a PASS leg at Harrah’s Philadelphia, have come since trainer Chris Oakes began treating her with Lasix. Winning driver Brett Miller believes the medication is making a difference. “I think it’s played a big part,” Miller said. “Last year, she was real high strung, so I’m sure Lasix is really helping her. She’s amazing. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope she stays sound.” In the Adios Betty, Sidewalk Dancer followed the live cover of Cult Icon before exploding late to triumph in 1:52, 2 lengths better than the rallying Alexa’s Power. Early leader Sansovina Hanover completed the ticket. Northfork Racing, Omar Beiler and Dennis Coons campaign the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance-Road Sign, who lifted her lifetime bankroll to $157,779. Serene Stride had a more anxious journey, stalking Double A Mint from the pocket and hoping to find the Lightning Lane before the closers brushed by. “I was a little bit worried about that,” said winning driver Tony Hall. “Once I got down in there and she cleared the horse on the lead, she kind of sat down on me the last 50 feet. She just kind of coasted through. The track’s a little heavy today on the inside, and I’m thinking that might have played a part.” Serene Stride held off Aldine Hanover, who found a late seam, by a head in 1:53.3, with Ideal Talker third. Mark Harder conditions Serene Stride, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Southwind Siren who won for the sixth time in seven 2018 starts and now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $126.678, for Emilio and Maria Rosati. Dave Palone collected three wins, including a pair for trainer Kevin Johnson, on the 13-race card. Stake racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday, when the program features an $80,000 PA Stallion Series event for sophomore filly pacers. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 10, 2018 -- Action in the 3-year-old pacing fillies division of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes shifts to The Meadows on Monday, where trainer Ron Burke will send out a quality quartet that already has combined for nearly $800,000 in career earnings. The $159,838 stake, known as the Adios Betty, features two divisions, races 8 and 9. First post is 1:05 PM. All four of Burke's fillies competed in the May 27 PASS opening leg at Harrah's Philadelphia. While none was a winner, they look formidable in Monday's alignments. Here's a snapshot of each, including Burke's comments and projections. Double A Mint (race 8, post 1, Matt Kakaley) The daughter of Bettor's Delight-Double Creme, a $95,000 yearling acquisition, finished fourth to Rainbow Room in last year's PASS championship and took her 1:52.4 mark in a Keystone Classic split. In her opener, she endured a brutal 26.2 opening panel and finished a good second. She races for Burke Racing Stable; Dandy Farms, Silva, Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi, LLC. "She kind of fell off at the end of last year but came back strong -- probably the sharpest of them all. She comes from a really good family; it was her pedigree more than anything else that attracted us." Strong Opinion (race 8, post 3, Dave Palone) Campaigned by Burke Racing Stable; Jack Piatt II; Silva, Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi, Strong Opinion finished second last year in both the Matron Stakes and a Three Diamonds elimination. At Harrah's Philadelphia, the daughter of Well Said-Rough Sketch backed through the field and finished 21-1/2 lengths behind, but she had a valid excuse. "She was good her first couple efforts this year, but her last start was a debacle. She choked, so it was back to the drawing board. We made some bridle and overcheck changes, and I look for her to return to form. I would think we would be a little more cautious leaving and go from there." Sansovina Hanover (race 9, post 5, Aaron Merriman) A $70,000 yearling purchase, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Shacked Up won a Bluegrass division last year for Burke Racing Stable; Silver, Purnel & Libby, Michelle Yanek and Weaver Bruscemi. At Harrah's Philadelphia, she closed from mid-pack to be third. "We thought she was the best of our fillies, but she's underachieved a little bit. We're maybe a little disappointed with her. But she's trending upward, and I think we're heading in the right direction. Majorsspeciallady (race 9, post 6, Kakaley) She earned $331,888 at 2, a big chunk of it in the Breeders Crown final where she outperformed her 52-1 odds and finished second to her stablemate and Dan Patch Award winner Youaremycandygirl. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and J&T Silva Stables gave $35,000 for the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-See Major as a yearling. "We had let her hopples out, and she struggled in the turns last week. So I tightened them back up. Look for her to be steered more aggressively this week. She'll probably be a lot better." Stake racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday with an $80,000 PA Stallion Series event for sophomore filly pacers. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 9, 2016 -- Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred ever with more than $7.5 million in lifetime earnings, fell a head short in his quest for career win 100 Saturday at The Meadows when he couldn't get by a stubborn Bilbo Hanover and finished second. In their Non-Winners of $3,500 Conditioned Race, Bilbo Hanover pulled the pocket midway down the backside for Aaron Merriman while Foiled Again and Dave Palone took up the chase from fourth. Bilbo Hanover didn’t blink in the face of Foiled Again’s strong challenge and scored in 1:52.1 for trainer Randy Bendis, who owns the 8-year-old Yankee Cruiser-Bet Again Hanover gelding with Reed Broadway and Tom Pollack. Dafinaty (Chris Shaw) was third. Bilbo Hanover paid $5.00 to win. “I thought he would fight the other horse off,” Palone said. “Bilbo Hanover is no clown. He loves to race on the lead, and he’s tough to get by. But the old horse fought to the end. He went a good race. I can’t make any excuses for him.”Palone said he got the trip he wanted with Foiled Again, a three-time Pacer of The Year. It was the eighth consecutive time Foiled Again has been foiled in his bid for No. 100. Ron Burke, who trains the gallant 14-year-old Dragon Again-In A Safe Place gelding for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, LLC and JJK Stables, indicated he was pleased with Foiled Again’s effort “Every start he’s getting a little bit better,” Burke said. “We’re only a couple of starts from getting him to 1:51, which probably is the most he’ll pace any more. He probably fights allergies a little bit in the summer; as it gets cooler in the fall, he gets better. Anytime he tries his heart out like that, it’s no embarrassment.” Foiled Again faces mandatory retirement at the end of 2018. Burke said he plans to continue racing him through the end of the year and hopes to close out his career on his last day of eligibility, Dec. 31, when The Meadows hosts a twilight card. In Saturday’s feature, the $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace, Stride Of Pride took advantage of fast fractions thrown down by Dapper Dude to clear him first over and prevail in 1:49.3. Lincolnjames was second by 1/2 length — giving Burke an exacta sweep — while Dapper Dude saved show. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. piloted the 5-year-old Manhardt-Apple B gelding, who lifted his career bankroll to $136,627, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and RTC Stables. Mike Wilder and Merriman each collected three wins on the 15-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the card features the Adios Betty, a $159,838 PA Sires Stake for 3-year-old filly pacers. First post is 1:05. PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 8, 2018 -- When Justify attempts to run into history Saturday by securing the Triple Crown, it will cap an exciting, festive Belmont Day at The Meadows that features tasty food from an outdoor barbecue, drawings and giveaways, live music -- and a chance to cheer on a harness racing legend. That legend is Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred ever with more than $7.5 million in lifetime earnings who's facing mandatory retirement at the end of this year when he turns 15. He'll be shooting for his 100th career victory. The Ron Burke trainee leaves from post 2 in race 11 with Dave Palone driving. That means the winningest driver all time will be driving the richest harness horse all time for the winningest trainer all time. It's a prefect storm that doesn't happen very often. The 15-race card also offers a pair of rich total-pool guarantees -- $7,500 for the Pick 4 (races 4-7), $5,000 for the Pick 5 (races 11-15). Special post time is 11:25 AM. Two of the Belmont Day giveaways/drawings are Foiled Again themed. The first 100 fans to stop by the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) information table in the Racebook will receive Foiled Again towels modeled after the "Terrible Towel." The MSOA also will conduct a raffle for a Foiled Again figurine produced by Breyer, a prominent name in the field. Just drop in a losing ticket from a race at The Meadows and you're entered to win. Other MSOA activities include paddock tours and jog cart/starting gate rides and a "Spin to Win" game with vouchers as prizes. For more information or to participate, visit the MSOA information table. With so much to do, fans may work up a healthy appetite. When they do, they can head for the apron and sample the Belmont Day fare from the BBQ Pit, which also will offer beverage specials. After the live card ends, the music kicks in. Ryan Cain and the Ables will perform live on the apron as part of The Meadows' "Rockin' on the Rail" concert series, which features a different band each Saturday through Sept. 1. All of that rolls right up to the track's simulcast of the $1.5 million Belmont, with an approximate post time of 6:37 PM. by Evan Pattack, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 7, 2018 -- He's the richest Standardbred ever with more than $7.5 million in career earnings, but in his final year of racing, 14-year-old Foiled Again would like to nail down one more accomplishment -- career win 100. He'll shoot for that elusive milestone Saturday at The Meadows when he leaves from post 2 with Dave Palone in race 11. First post for the special Belmont Day card is 11:25 AM. Foiled Again will compete in a conditioned race that generally draws horses that have been struggling for victories. Indeed, only one horse in the field has a win showing in its recent charted lines. Foiled Again has been, well, foiled again in each of his seven previous attempts for No. 100, but this Saturday's outcome could be different. "He drew in a good spot, he should have a good shot," says Ron Burke, who trains the gallant gelding, a son of Dragon Again-In A Safe Place, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, LLC and JJK Stables. "He's starting to get tight and should be ready to rock." Foiled Again last raced at Northfield Park on June 2, finishing third despite a brutal trip. Burke says he's maintaining the Old Boy's customary work schedule. "He gets trained the same as he's been trained since he was 4," Burke indicates. "He seems to thrive on work, and he's a very happy horse. If anything, he's better at it now because he knows what's expected of him." It was midway through Foiled Again's 4-year-old campaign that Mark Weaver of Weaver Bruscemi and Kevin Koury of JJK recommended his purchase to their groups. They bought him privately, Weaver recalls, for $60,000. "That was a decent amount, especially 10 years ago, and we had some decent expectations of him," Weaver says. "He was a young horse who could get around small tracks, and we thought he would fit our program. But if someone had predicted he would achieve everything he did, you would've called him crazy." Those accomplishments are the stuff of legend. He won the Dan Patch Pacer of the Year Award three consecutive times (2011-2013), was the first pacer to record three consecutive million-dollar seasons and, in 2013 at the age of 9, he became the oldest horse to win a Breeders Crown (a mark eclipsed the following year by 11-year-old trotter Commander Crowe). With that unprecedented resume, career win 100 might seem just a round number. Weaver and Burke don't see it that way. "He's done so much for all of us," Weaver says. "He's literally changed our lives and allowed us to invest back in the game. No. 100 would allow us to appreciate him one more time. Listen -- you have the winningest driver in the history of the sport driving for the winningest trainer in the history of the sport on the richest horse in the history of the sport. If they were to win, that would be kind of big." Says Burke: "Every win of his is important to us; you appreciate it now because you know there won't be many more. When he won his last stake race (the 2016 Robert J. Kane Memorial at Batavia Downs), we were all crying because we thought, this could be it." Win or lose Saturday, Burke plans to race Foiled Again through the end of the year, when he faces mandatory retirement, with his final race Dec. 31 at The Meadows. "That will make a great New Year's Eve party -- for us and his fans," Burke says. "It will be really cool for the sport." The Belmont Day card features many fan festivities, including a pair tied to Foiled Again. The first 100 people at the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) table in the Racebook will receive Foiled Again towels, a la the "Terrible Towel," and one lucky raffle winner will take home a Foiled Again figurine produced by Breyer. Other activities include: Food and beverage specials at the BBQ Pit on the apron; Paddock tours and jog cart/starting gate rides courtesy MSOA; The MSOA's "Spin to Win" contest, with vouchers as prizes; A "Rockin' on the Rail" live concert featuring Ryan Cain and the Ables. The music begins at the conclusion of the live card. For more information, stop by the MSOA information table. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows          

WASHINGTON, PA, June 5, 2018 -- Freshened by a month off, Looking For Zelda grabbed the early lead from post 4 for Tony Hall and rolled home in a stake-record 1:54.1 in Tuesday's $73,835 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old filly trotters at The Meadows. The stake was conducted over three divisions, with Mike Wilder and trainer John Butenschoen teaming to take the other splits with Nixie Volo and Bill's Lady. Looking for Zelda hadn't raced since finishing third in a May 4 Ohio Sires Stake at Miami Valley. Trainer Norm Parker said the vacation just happened to work out that way -- and work for the best -- for the daughter of Break The Bank K -- My Winning Way K. "Any time a filly has to ship down to near Cincinnati to race twice, it's a little bit stressful for her," Parker said. "The break was a good thing. She came back really good." In the Currier & Ives, she thwarted the first-over bid of Msnaughtyashill and held off the Lightning Lane charge of Kenziesky Hanover by 1/2 length. Msnaughtyashill saved show. The time knocked a tick from the previous stake mark established by Smokinmombo in 2015. Parker said Bob Key's homebred, who lifted her career bankroll to $271,902, would next race Monday in an Ohio Sires Stake at Northfield Park. Nixie Volo entered the Currier & Ives off a powerful 1:54.3 triumph in a PA Sires Stake at Pocono, and bettors took note, hammering her down to 1-9. The daughter of Yankee Glide-No I'm Not did not disappoint, seizing the lead from post 6 and coasting to victory in 1:56. Donato's Jewel rallied for place, 2-1/4 lengths back, while Lady Palema completed the ticket. "I talked to John (Butenschoen) about her today, and he really couldn't tell me anything I wouldn't like about her," Wilder said. "I tried to keep her out of harm's way, and she did the rest. I think she has a pretty bright future." Nixie Volo now has earned $127,486 for Kentuckiana Racing Stable, VIP Internet Stable and 83 Racing. Bill's Lady made it look just as easy, moving to the point past the quarter and opening a 4-length lead at the half. The daughter of Donato Hanover-Homefortheholidays cruised home in 1:56.3, 1-1/2 lengths better than the rallying Andovermizbrenda, with D'Bomb third. "I drove her once last year and got her beat on the lead," Wilder said. "It was late in the season (in the Keystone Classic), so she might have been getting a little tired, but she sure seems good this year. She matured quite a bit." William Wiswell and M&L Of Delaware campaign Bill's Lady, who vaulted over $100,000 in lifetime earnings. Wilder finished the 13-race card with four wins while Dave Palone and Hall each fashioned a triple. Wednesday's card at The Meadows features the $110,260 open division of the Currier & Ives, which goes as races 1 and 3. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Jim Kunkel celebrated his 71st birthday on Monday, but that wasn't the day this week he was most looking forward to enjoying. Not when his homebred trotter Moosonee is racing. Moosonee, a 3-year-old gelding bred by Kunkel and his wife Sandra, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first of two Currier & Ives Stakes divisions Wednesday (June 6) at The Meadows. Moosonee, who is eligible to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes, has a win and a second in two starts this season for trainer Chris Beaver. "I just want to get up and enjoy every day at this stage of my life," said Kunkel, who lives in south-central Massachusetts and breeds and races under Winterbeary Farm. "The greatest thrill will be sitting and watching that baby race tomorrow afternoon because if you're into horseracing there's nothing better. This has been such a pleasant surprise that we're numb. I'm just in awe of him. "We're just two average country bumpkins here that probably don't deserve this kind of horse." Moosonee is a son of Explosive Matter out of the Kunkels' stakes-winning mare Lady Andover. His second dam, Lost Lady One, was a New York Sire Stakes champion and Breeders Crown runner-up. Last year, Moosonee won a division of the Keystone Classic, his only victory in 10 starts, and was second in the Madison County and divisions of the Bluegrass and Arden Downs stakes. The gelding hit the board a total of seven times and earned $64,710. "Chris took him along slowly," Kunkel said. "He always raced good. He didn't have much racing luck, but he was always around the finishing line." This year, Moosonee debuted at The Meadows with a win in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes over returning series champion Fashionwoodchopper and then finished second to You Know You Do, last year's Peter Haughton Memorial winner, in a division of the sire stakes at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In his victory at The Meadows, driver Aaron Merriman made a three-wide move off the final turn to win by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:54 on a sloppy track. "When you're racing against those horses, you're going to find out how good you really are," Kunkel said. "When (Merriman) took that horse off the turn that day and came three wide with him, he just blew by them. I just sat in shock watching it on the computer." Kunkel's uncle Joe and father John were involved in harness racing and Kunkel, who is retired after working in the automobile, school bus, and insurance businesses, has enjoyed horses for as long as he can remember. "I've been around Standardbred racehorses since I was born," Kunkel said. "I worked every summer when I was in high school at the old Foxboro Raceway. I went to college in Boston and spent more time at Suffolk Downs than I did in the classroom. Once you get hooked, you're hooked." Moosonee is one of seven Hambletonian eligible horses in Wednesday's Currier & Ives. The others are Rich And Miserable, Patent Leather, and Banker Twentyfive in the first division and Meadowbranch Ricky, Crystal Fashion, and I Know My Rights in the second division. Kunkel is not thinking about the Hambletonian at this point. "I've been around this long enough to know you don't get too high, you don't get too low," Kunkel said. "I think he can compete. Whether he can dominate, that's a whole different story. But it's been a dream come true for us. It's been nothing but a tremendous thrill. I can't wait for tomorrow when he races again. The best driver, a great racetrack; what more could you ask for." For Wednesday's complete Meadows entries, click here. Racing begins at 1:05 p.m. (EDT). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

WASHINGTON, PA, June 5, 2018 -- At 2, Donatover was so fractious that he managed only three races and a modest $2,400 bankroll. This year, the young trotter has hit the board in all five starts with a pair of victories, including a convincing win in his PA Sires Stakes opener. Donatover's newfound mannerliness will be tested in Wednesday's $110,260 Currier & Ives open division at The Meadows, where he's been installed as the morning line 7-2 second pick. The Currier & Ives goes as races 1 and 3, with Donatover leaving from the rail with Dave Palone in race 1. First post is 1:05 PM. Trainer Trond Smedshammer purchased the son of Donato Hanover-Anonyme Hanover as a yearling for $30,000 for Purple Haze Stables. A student of pedigree, Smedshammer liked what he saw in the youngster's lineage. "He wasn't an exceptionally good-looking horse, but there was something about his breeding that I liked," Smedshammer says. "If you look carefully at it, you'll see his pedigree doubles up on Amour Angus (dam of the ultra-successful Garland Hall full brothers Andover Hall, Angus Hall and Conway Hall). Sometimes if you do that, you can get something special." He looked anything but special as a freshman, breaking stride in two of his three outings and exhibiting a headstrong approach to his schooling. "He showed some speed, but he was erratic and hot at times," Smedshammer says. "He's definitely stating to mature a little bit mentally, but even this year, he was good one race, and I couldn't hold him back the next. I've had to change bits on him. Right now, it seems we have him halfway figured out. We'll see how long it lasts before he outsmarts us again." Smedshammer knows that the rail can be a tricky starting spot for a green, willful trotter. "I'm hoping that Dave can come first over with him rather than move to the front early," he says. "With aggressive horses, it's better to keep them in a hole as long as you can and make one big, long move with them." Even if his antics are behind him, Donatover has cost himself a shot at most of the richest events for 3-year-olds. "He'll race in Pennsylvania," Smedshammer indicates. "He didn't show me enough last year or this winter to stake him to Grand Circuit races. The way I look at it, I'd rather have a good horse that's under-staked than a bad horse that's over-staked. I can't stand wasting money on stake payments -- even if it's not my money. "A good horse will always make money, even if it's as an aged horse. I'm a realist, not an optimist." by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 4, 2018 -- Media Buzz secured the lead past the quarter and went on to capture his second straight win in Monday's feature at The Meadows, a $13,000 Conditioned Trot. Media Buzz zipped to the front from post 6 and found himself in the pocket behind Fly Past Hanover. But Dave Palone preferred the point and moved the 4-year-old Explosive Matter-Lady Bar gelding to the front. Media Buzz held off the late charge of Mac Deeno and downed him by 1/2 length in 1:54.3 while Fly Past Hanover saved show. Steve Bush trains Media Buzz, who lifted his career bankroll to $123,510, and owns with Alvira Fassett and Dennis Fassett. Tony Hall, Mike Wilder and Palone each collected three wins on the 13-race card. Tuesday's program at The Meadows features the $73,835 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old filly trotters. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, June 2, 2018 -- In a rare battle of millionaires, Dapper Dude got the jump on Dancin Yankee and held him at bay late to capture Saturday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dapper Dude was drafting in the pocket behind his stablemate, Anythingforlove A, when Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. sent him after the lead past the three-quarters. The 9-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest blew by in a heartbeat, with Dancin Yankee in tow. Dapper Dude downed Dancin Yankee by a head in 1:50 while 56-1 long shot Rock The Nite rallied for show. Bill Bercury trains Dapper Dude, who now boasts a career bankroll of $1,242,500, for Renee Bercury. With his place check, Dancin Yankee soared over $1.7 million in lifetime earnings. The Bercurys were at it again in Saturday's co-feature, the $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot. There, Barn Girl -- trained by Bill, owned by Renee -- won a heated three-way scrum for the early lead and prevailed in 1:53, a tick off her career best. The 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie now has won $673,668, and she improved her career winning percentage to a nifty 50 -- 49 victories in 98 starts. Dave Palone piloted three winners, including a pair for trainer Mike Palone, on the 12-race card GEORGE BONOMO WINS BILLINGS LEG  WASHINGTON, PA, June 2, 2018 -- 'Chicago' George Bonomo squeezed off the cones with Time Outa Jail down the backside, gobbled up the tiring leader and captured Saturday's $10,000 leg of the C.K.G. Billings amateur trot at The Meadows in a 10-1/4-length romp. Once Bonomo and Time Outa Jail found racing room, they surged past Mike "The Mortgage Man" Mitchell and Ki Ki Canolli and scored in 1:58. Bob "The Lumberman" Troyer was second with JLS Too Hot Taj while Michelle "The Belle" Ruvola and Better Call Saul rallied from a backside break to earn show. When Ruvola finished third, she assured that family bragging rights would remain with Bonomo, her father -- at least until the next Billings event. Christ Hershberger trains Time Outa Jail, a 7-year-old Jailhouse Jesse-Two Timer gelding who extended his career bankroll to $252,533, for 'Chicago' George and Rose Bonomo. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

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