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HARRISBURG PA - Tim Bojarski, the immediate past president of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and now the chairman of the board, the organization's webmaster, and a publicist for Batavia Downs (NY) and Plainridge Park (MA), has been named to a six-year term on USHWA's Hall Of Fame Screening Committee, it has been announced by Shawn Wiles, current president of USHWA, the largest harness racing organization devoted to standardbred communicators. Bojarski, of Akron NY, has a background in harness horse ownership and training, and has driven in qualifying races. He has been a member of USHWA for 17 years, 11 of them as a Director of the Association. Voted in as national second vice-president in 2012, he progressed "up the chairs" to become the organization's president from February 2016 to February 2018, and per the USHWA bylaws will serve as the Chairman of the Board until the 2020 national meetings. Tim is familiar with the procedures of the Screening Committee, as the president of USHWA is an ex officio voting member of all committees, so he has attended the group's last two sets of screening sessions. Bojarski works with his "hometown track," Batavia Downs, as the publicist during their racing season, and since has linked with Plainridge Park near Boston and the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts. He is a regular columnist for Hoof Beats magazine, the acclaimed publication of the United States Trotting Association (USTA). Tim is also kept busy updating the USHWA website, bringing the latest of information about the organization, its activities, and major racing news to all visitors to www.ushwa.net. And in case that doesn't fill all his time, Bojarski also serves as the president and secretary of the Upstate New York chapter of USHWA. "Tim brings with him a wide range of knowledge of harness racing and its vast and glorious history," said USHWA president Wiles upon making the appointment. "As past President of USHWA he is familiar with the inner workings of this committee. He will be a welcome addition to an already-strong slate of members on this prestigious committee." Bojarski will begin his new term, which expires after the 2023 meeting, with the gathering of the Screening Committee during Hall of Fame weekend at the Hall / Harness Racing Museum in Goshen NY, that weekend culminating with the induction of the newest Hall of Famers at a dinner on Sunday, July 1. United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA)

Plainville, MA---Walpole, Massachusetts native George Ducharme left his Vernon Downs base of operations to return home with two of his state-bred trotters and came away with two wins, two lifetime marks and a tie for a harness racing track record for his students after their day of work at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (May 17). Last year's Massachusetts Sire Stake (MASS) 2-year-old champion Hashtagmadeyalook bounced back from a disappointing start in a $40,600 New York Sire Stake at Vernon Downs last week to defeat nine rivals in the $12,500 Highland Light Series for 3 and 4-year-old trotters at Plainridge today. Leaving from post three, Hashtagmadeyalook (Shawn Gray) took a quarter to get the lead, but when he did it was for good. After cutting fractions of :28, :57.3 and 1:26.3, Gray kept his trotter on task and held off a rush from a late-closing Now's The Moment (Mike Stevenson) to win by a half-length in 1:55.4. The time was a new lifetime mark for the winner. Hashtagmadeyalook ($3.20), who is a 2018 Hambletonian eligible, is owned by his breeder Ray Campbell Jr. Ducharme's other entry was 2016 2-year-old MASS champion Muscles Jared who made heads turn in the $12,000 conditioned overnight trotting feature. In a similar manner to his stablemate, Muscles Jared (Shawn Gray) left and cleared past the quarter and dictated every station after that. After settling the field in with a tepid :57 half, Gray tapped the gas pedal and went back to back :28.1 and :28.4 quarters to win by five, stopping the clock in 1:54 flat. The time equaled both his lifetime mark and the track record for 4-year-old trotting geldings. Muscles Jared ($3.20) is owned by Al Ross. In the second division of the $12,500 Highland Light Series, J-S Miss Carolyn (Steeven Genois) scored an impressive gate to wire victory in 1:57.4. Owned by Adam Friedland and trained by Jim Nickerson, J-S Miss Carolyn ($8.80) scored her first win of the year, and at Plainridge, in her first ever trip here. There was also two divisions of the $10,000 Ralph Waldo Emerson trotting series on Thursday. Saratoga invader The Lindy Treaty (Shawn Gray) took early cover before pulling first-up at the three-quarters to trot by the front-running Manssive (Ron Cushing) down the lane and win by three lengths in 1:54.3, which was a new lifetime mark for the 7-year-old. The Lindy Treaty ($13.80) is owned by Barry Wishard and is trained by Brett Derue. The second division saw Jericho (Joe Di Stefano) follow cover second-over past the half to eventually out-muscle Candy Lane (Matt Athearn) by a nose at the wire in 1:55.1, which was yet another lifetime mark. Jericho ($14.20) is owned by Linda Kenney, Robert Kenney and the Di Stefano and Son Stable and is trained by John Di Stefano. Shawn Gray led all drivers with three wins on the card. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (May 18) at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---While the eighth race pacers were taking their final score before going to the gate, a severe storm blew into the area and forced the cancellation of the rest of the races for Tuesday afternoon (May 15). There were four more contests scheduled to be run. With a severe thunderstorm warning posted by the National Weather Service until 9 p.m., torrents of rain and steady lightning engulfed most of eastern Massachusetts by 6:30 p.m. and with no letup in sight, the welfare of the horses, horsemen and horsewomen became the main priority of the track. "Due to a severe thunder and lightning storm, we were forced to cancel the remainder of today's card at Plainridge. The safety of everyone involved was the main reason for the cancellation as lightning and darkness overtook the area" said Director of racing Steve O'Toole. Live racing will resume at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (May 17) with post time for the first race at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---In a blanket finish that had four horses within a length of each other, Grand Theft got up in deep stretch to capture the harness racing $20,000 Henry David Thoreau pacing series final at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (May 14). Grand Theft (Greg Merton) got away sixth in the field of nine as even money favorite Mysharona Bluechip (Pat Curtain) bolted for the lead, registering a :25.4 first quarter in the process. Manceiver (Steve Nason) who had floated out of the gate for position was now stuck out in the brisk pace with no choice but to tread water from third and hope something developed. As the race approached the half, Grand Theft pulled from mid-pack and got right behind Manceiver as they hit that station in a stiff :54 flat. He was then forced to go three-deep around the tiring rim-runner but was still five-lengths off the leader. When they hit the three-quarters in 1:21.3, Mysharona Bluechip was starting to tire, forcing Bo Master (Drew Campbell) to pop out of the two-hole and go right around him. At the same time Grand Theft had found new life and was now second outside of that one. As the field bunched, Grand Theft got a head in front of Bo Master while keeping the closing Jackson's Image (Shawn Gray) and Sailor Jerry (Nick Graffam) at bay to hit the wire first in 1:51.2. Setting a new lifetime mark in the process, Grand Theft ($7.80) won his second start of the year for owners Kristie Leigh Farm Inc., Joseph Betro, Stephan Giagni and Stephen Demeter. Monique Cohen trains the winner. The weekly $16,000 Open pacing feature also provided a stellar race that saw Calvin B (Drew Campbell) come second-over at the half behind Electric Western (Greg Merton) to ride that one's back to the top of the stretch before blowing past him down the lane to win by a length in 1:51.3. Calvin B ($12.00) nabbed his third victory of the year for owner Dolores Smiel and trainer Jim Nickerson. Greg Merton led all drivers with three wins on the card. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday (May 15) with post time for the first race at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- Fresh off a front-end effort that saw him come up just short in 1:54.3 last week, Manssive took a two-hole trip to victory this time in the $14,000 trotting harness racing feature at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (May 10).   Ron Cushing left to get Manssive forwardly placed and dropped in second behind Nathaniel (Drew Campbell) who led the way to the quarter in :27.1. The field stayed in line from there allowing the front runner a solid second quarter break.   Campbell revved Nathaniel up the backside with a :28 flat third panel attempting to put some space between them and the field. However Manssive tracked the move well and stayed right on his back. As the race headed down the stretch, Manssive pulled and drew alongside Nathaniel and eventually wore him down at the wire to score by a head in 1:55.1, which was a new lifetime mark for the winner.   Manssive ($15.20) is owned by Kevin Sywyk and his driver, Ron Cushing, and is trained by Heidi Gibbs.   In the co-featured $12,000 conditioned trot, Dream Massive (Shawn Gray) got away second last before coming third over in the outer flow and tipping three-deep at the three-quarters to pull away to a four-length win in 1:55.1, which was also a new lifetime mark.   Dream Massive ($2.60) is owned by William Emmons and is trained by Alicia Gray.   Live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (May 11) at 4 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---Western Stepp, steered by a patient Drew Campbell, sat tight in the mile before shaking loose late to head her competitors in a three-horse photo and win the harness racing featured $14,000 Fillies and Mares Winners-Over pace at Plainridge Park on Tuesday afternoon (May 8). Iced Out (Greg Merton) cut the mile from the start but was quickly greeted by a strong outer flow at the half with Dandy's Beauty (Chris Long), Stylish Beachwear (Nick Graffam) and Ask Queenie (Shawn Gray) all on the move as they passed that station in :56.1. Western Stepp sat on the pylons behind the leader and watched the action while well covered. The outside contenders continued to press the issue up the backstretch, around the last turn and to the top of the lane, but Iced Out was relentless and Western Stepp was desperately looking for racing room. That room came mid-stretch when Campbell pulled out around Iced Out and outpaced that one to the wire to win by a head in 1:53.2. It was the third win in nine 2018 starts for Western Step ($18.20) who is owned and trained by James Dunn. In the co-featured $12,000 conditioned pacing event, Deo Galileo ($4.60) got away third before pulling first-over past the half, taking the lead in the stretch and eventually winning by two-lengths in 1:53.4. Campbell also drove this winner, in a lifetime best effort, for owner/trainer Milt Vickerson. Drew Campbell also had two more winners on the day with Grand Dad Joe ($16.20, 1:54.2) and Strings ($3.00, 1:54.2) giving himself a driving grand slam on the card. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday with first post at 4 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---After getting hung out to dry every step of the mile last week in his North American harness racing debut, New Zealand import Kenrick N cleared and won in a rout in the $15,000 Open Handicap pace at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (May 7). Leaving from post three, Ron Cushing pushed Kenrick N right to the front, overtaking Ace of Clubs (Shawn Gray) past the quarter in :26.4. And from there he never looked back. When the heavily favored Americanprimetime (Greg Merton) came calling past the stands, Kenrick N stayed on task while setting fractions of :54 to the half and 1:22 to the three quarters. By that time Americanprimetime had enough and the pocket sitting Ace of Clubs had no answers and as a result, Cushing and Kenrick N cruised to a comfortable two length victory in 1:50.2. It was the first northern hemisphere win and a new lifetime mark for Kenrick N ($9.40) who is owned by Kevin Sywyk and his driver, Ron Cushing. Heidi Gibbs trains the winner. In the undercard $12,000 conditioned pacing event, Pocono invader Electric Western (Greg Merton) was never headed en route to his second score of 2018, winning in a career-best tying mark of 1:50.3. Electric Western ($10.20) is owned and trained by Mark Ford. Two $10,000 divisions of the Henry David Thoreau pacing series were also contested on Monday. The first division went to Mysharona Bluechip (Pat Curtain) who went gate to wire in 1:51.2, which was a new seasonal mark. Owned by A Piece of the Action LLC and trained by Eric Beach, Mysharona Bluechip returned $2.80. The second division went to Sailor Jerry (Nick Graffam) who tripped-out behind the front running Bro Hanover (Steve Nason) to hit the wire first by a head in 1:52.3. Sailor Jerry ($9.60) is owned by Chris Hamilton, Sylvia Hamilton and Mike Graffam, who also trains the winner. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday afternoon with post time for the first race at 4 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA --- Making amends for a runner-up effort last week, Buff moved up in class, put in a game effort and came away with a "W" in the $14,000 Winners-Over featured trot at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (May 3). Last week's winner, Manssive (Ron Cushing), took early command and cut quarters of :27 and :56.2 before Buff (Greg Merton) pulled first-over on the attack. Buff caught the tail of Manssive by the three-quarters in 1:25, but the leader was trotting strong on the front and would not let him get any closer than that around the last turn. But when they hit the stretch Buff drew even and the two trotted together to the wire where Buff put a head in front for the win in 1:54.3. Buff ($4.00) made his second win of the year his seasonal best effort for owners Bill Reepmeyer LLC, Jackie Rousse Stable LLC, Frank Witz and Jill Witz. Jackie Greene trains the winner. The Merton and Greene combination also struck in the co-featured $12,000 conditioned trot when Stirling Cadet went gate to wire, holding off a strong finishing Dream Massive (Shawn Gray) to win by a neck in 1:54.3, which was also a seasonal mark. The Kellogg Racing Stable LLC owns the winner. Merton eventually won three races on the card, besting all his rivals for the day. The string of colossal win payouts continued at the Ridge on Thursday when Joe Di Stefano left like a rocket from post nine with 44-1 Dial A Chic to take the lead before yielding to 1-5 Battle Mage (Shawn Gray) and settling into a perfect garden spot trip. From there he sat until mid-stretch when Di Stefano pulled him and went right by the leader to win in 1:55.3, which tied his lifetime mark. Dial A Chic, who is owned by the Di Stefano and Son Stable and is trained by John Di Stefano, returned $90.20 to some very happy bettors. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (May 4) with the first Friday card of the season. Post time is 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---After winning wire to wire at Plainridge Park last week, Ask Queenie changed her strategy but produced the same result; a win in the $15,000 harness racing fillies and mares winners-over feature pace on Tuesday afternoon (May 1). Ask Queenie (Shawn Gray) tucked fifth while Western Stepp (Drew Campbell) and Caviart Caterina (Mike Stevenson) played leap-frog off the gate where each horse took a turn at the top by the quarter in :26.2. When they passed that station, Caviart Caterina was the leader. But with no rest for the weary, Keene Olivia (Greg Merton) came first-up past the three-eighths and was neck and neck with the front runner heading up the backside. By the three-quarters, Keene Olivia had packed it in and Ask Queenie tipped three deep around Happy Heart (Chris Long) who had been tracking the fader second over. At the top of the stretch the three horses were strung even across the track; Caviart Caterina, Happy Heart and Ask Queenie from the inside out. But when Gray lifted the lines and leaned back in the bike, Ask Queenie responded gamely and paced away from the competition, winning by two in 1:52.4. It was the second straight win for Ask Queenie ($7.80) at the Ridge and fifth overall in 2018. The 6-year-old daughter of Western Terror has now earned $33,037 this year for owners Edward Hall and James Hall Jr. Craig Mosher conditions the winner. Ask Queenie was the top horse of the Wicked Hi-5 pentafecta combination of 7-9-1-2-4 that returned $5,584.88 Shawn Gray registered three wins on the card, leading all drivers for the day. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (May 3) with post time at 4 p.m. Please note that Friday racing begins this week as Plainridge moves to a four day a week live schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday). By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---After three solid outings at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Manssive shipped to the Commonwealth for the first time in his life and left an impression at the Ridge with a harness racing lifetime mark and on a select group of happy bettors who backed the 60-1 shot as he took the $12,000 conditioned trotting feature at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (April 26). Manssive (Ron Cushing) took command by the :28.1 quarter before yielding the front to Muscles Jared (Truman Gale). From there a pocket trip would be the call for Cushing who took full advantage of being forwardly placed off the wings. Muscles Jared, who came off a strong winning effort last week, looked game once again as he went to the half in :57.4 before a challenge by Buff (Greg Merton), who hastened the fraction up the backside to :28.1 once again. When the pack hit the head of the stretch, Muscles Jared had a two-length advantage and looked pretty solid. But just like that, he'd had enough and started to give way to a wall of horses coming fast. Manssive was to his left on the pylons and Buff, Nathaniel (Drew Campbell) and Boohya TJ (Nick Graffam) were fanned outside to his right. Those four horses were now a half-length ahead Muscles Jared and a mere neck apart from each other as they hit the wire with Manssive getting there first by a head in 1:56. It was the second win of the year for Manssive ($129) who is owned by Kevin Sywyk and his driver, Ron Cushing. Heidi Gibbs does the training. The largest win mutual of the meet also triggered stout exotics. The 4-1 exacta returned $280.40 and the 4-1-5 trifecta paid $1,529.40 in the short six-horse field. It also prompted a 4-1 late double that paid $815.80. All payoffs were for two-dollar wagers. In the co-featured $12,000 conditioned trot, Candy Lane (Drew Campbell) scored her first victory of the year as she trotted wire to wire in a five-length, 1:56.2 romp. Candy Lane ($6.20) is owned by Linwood Higgins and trained by James Dunn. Shawn Gray scored three driving wins on Thursday's card while Mike Hitchcock bagged a training double. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (April 30) with post time at 4 p.m. Please note that the racing schedule also changes at Plainridge next week as racing goes to four days a week with the addition of Friday starting on May 4. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts      

Plainville, MA---The well-travelled Ask Queenie has already won races at Monticello, Yonkers and Saratoga Raceways this year. Now, she can put a Plainridge Park sticker on her trunk as she captured the $12,000 distaff pacing feature here on Tuesday afternoon (April 24). Ask Queenie (Shawn Gray) settled in mid-pack off the gate as Iced Out (Greg Merton) took early command. But Gray's placid approach quickly changed when he pulled his mare at the eighth pole and made a rush for the front. Hitting the quarter in :27, Ask Queenie was now barking marching orders with the field following in a straight line. After backing the half off to :56, Stylish Beachwhere (Ron Cushing) and Western Stepp (Drew Campbell) came in the outer flow but were met with a quickening :28 third quarter pace. Rounding the last turn, Stylish Beachwhere stalled, sending Western Stepp three high. But Ask Queenie was still rolling along and stretched out to a three-length advantage. Down the lane Gray tucked the whip and lowered the lines and Ask Queenie was a wrapped-up winner crossing the wire in 1:52.3, which was a new seasonal mark. Ask Queenie ($3.80) scored her fourth win of the year for owners Edward Hall and James Hall Jr. and trainer Craig Mosher. In the co-featured $12,000 conditioned pace, Colorful Speech (Nick Graffam) turned a garden-spot trip behind Cruiserwillwin (Greg Merton) into a hard-fought half-length victory in 1:53.4, blowing up the tote board at 40-1. Colorful Speech ($83.80) scored his first win of the year for owner/trainer Milton Vickerson and triggered big payouts for his supporting bettors. The 1-4 exacta returned $305.20 and the 1-4-3 trifecta paid $2,876.20, both for $2 wagers. Shawn Gray led all drivers on Tuesday with three wins on the card. Racing resumes on Thursday (April 26) with post time at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, MA---After finishing a respectable fifth in his seasonal bow in the Open here last week, Cherokee Hiflyzane took full advantage of a drop in class to score his first win of 2018 in the $14,000 conditioned pacing feature at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (April 23). He's Marvelous (Nick Graffam) left from the rail at 50-1 and played give-and-go with Jackson's Image (Jim Hardy) to the quarter in a swift :26.3. From there Graffam continued to drive aggressively to the half in :55.1 and three-quarters in 1:22.3, fending off a challenge from Windsong Jack (Greg Merton) for most of that time. As the race rounded the final turn, Cherokee Hiflyzane (Michael Stevenson), who had been sitting on Windsong Jack's back since the half, tipped three-deep just as they approached the top of the stretch and started a furious rush down the center of the track passing Windsong Jack and He's Marvelous en route to a two-length victory in 1:52. Cherokee Hiflyzane ($5.60) posted his seasonal best and 20th career win for owners Barrie Farrar and Roger Farrar II of Wrentham, Massachusetts. In the co-featured $10,000 mid-level conditioned pacing event, Commondiscourtesy (Drew Campbell) found himself parked out to the quarter in :26.1 by Mysharona Bluechip (Pat Curtain) before clearing and leading the rest of the mile before holding off a late challenge from Mysharona Bluechip once again and a late-closing Sinners Prayer (DT Sumner) to win by a neck in 1:52.3. It was the third 2018 win for Commondiscourtesy ($4.00) and first for his new owner Richard Knight of Westbrook, Maine, who privately purchased the gelding on April 9. Irwin Rosenthal is the winning trainer. Don't touch him, he's hot! That's all you could say about Greg Merton on Monday as he visited the winner's circle five times. Merton finished first with Forever Worth It (1:55.1, $3.20), Riproy (1:53, $9.80), Mr. Blissful (1:54, $3.20), Avogadro Hanover (1:57, $16.80) and Dr C's Z Tam (1:53.3, $7.40). Drew Campbell also posted a driving hat trick. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday (April 23) with a 4 p.m. post time. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Plainville, Ma---State-bred Muscles Jared was a champion at two and runner-up at three in Massachusetts Sire Stake action. But it appears that the best may be yet to come as he is now two-for-two as an aged performer, notching his second harness racing victory in a $10,000 conditioned event at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (April 19). Starting from post one, Muscles Jared (Truman Gale) took a quick lead before yielding to Cincinnati Miss (Greg Merton) at the quarter in :27.2. After that one seated, Gale quickly pulled his gelding, went right back to the front and became a passenger for the rest of the mile. The sharp-stepping Muscles Jared dictated back to back quarters of :28.4 and :28.3 while extending a lead that eventually became insurmountable. When Gale popped the plugs at three-quarters, Muscles Jared responded in kind and opened up a seven-length advantage rounding the final bend. With the race all but locked-up, Gale sat chilly down the lane and Muscles Jared hit the wire a wrapped-up winner in 1:55.2 over a wet track rated "good", which was a new seasonal mark. Muscles Jared now boasts $359,346 in lifetime earnings for owner Al Ross of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts and has a perfect race record for his new trainer Robert Gale. Shawn Gray and Drew Campbell each drove two winners on the card. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (April 23) with an 11-race card that kicks off at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---Elliesjet N came to Plainridge Park fresh off a seasonal best 1:52.1 victory at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the public took notice of that outing. Going off the 1-5 harness racing favorite, Elliesjet N did not disappoint her backers as she captured the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap on Tuesday afternoon (April 17).   Stylish Beachwhere (Ron Cushing) smoked off the gate and took the girls through a :26.4 opening panel. During that span, Elliesjet N (Greg Merton) languished a parked third for an eighth before finding her gear and overtaking just past that first station.   From there she proceeded to call all the shots.   Merton slowed the half to :55.3 and the three quarters to 1:24.3 and enjoyed a comfortable lead around the final bend. Coming down the lane Stylish Beachwhere, Ask Queenie (Shawn Gray) and Happy Heart (Chris Long) all made strongs bid to collar the leader but Elliesjet N was not to be caught and was a wrapped-up, two-length winner in 1:53.2.   Owned by the Foulk Stables Inc. and trained by Lance Hudson, Elliesjet N ($2.60) posted her fifth 2018 victory in only nine starts and has bankrolled $30,100 for her efforts.   Greg Merton scored a driving triple on the card to lead all reinsmen for the day.   Racing resumes on Thursday at Plainridge Park with the first race post time of 4 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---Even the deluge of rain couldn't dampen the excitement of opening day at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (April 16) as Artful Way found his way to the winner's circle after taking the $15,000 Open pace over a very sloppy harness racing track.   Artful Way (Shawn Gray) left sharply for the lead while Lindy Beach (Greg Merton) slid in behind him second and sat there for almost the whole mile. Gray cut quarters of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:25.4 with a leisurely two-length lead all the while.   But as the race progressed into the stretch, Merton pulled Lindy Beach and started closing the gap on the leader. Although Gray was now getting after Artful Way in a spirited manner, his lead continued to diminish. But Artful Way got to the wire before Lindy Beach got to him and won in 1:52.4, last quarter in :27 flat.   It was the fourth win of the year for Artful Way ($2.20) and owner the Kellogg Racing Stables LLC. The winner is trained by Jackie Greene.   In the $12,000 undercard pace, Rooster Rabbit (Mike Eaton) turned a pocket journey behind J J S Jet (Drew Campbell) into a one and one-half length victory in 1:55.1.   Rooster Rabbit ($6.00) who is coming off a career year, captured his second win of 2018 for owners Charles Franklin and Adam Friedland and trainer Craig Mosher.   Last year's leading driver at Plainridge put himself into an early lead already this year. Greg Merton won three races on the card and headed all drivers for the day.   Jackie Greene was the best among conditioners, scoring a natural hat trick in races eight, nine and ten.   Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday (April 17) with post time set for 4 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Plainville, MA---Coming off a season that saw a significant increase in purses and handle, 11 track records reset and the most competitive racing New England has witnessed in many years, Plainridge Park will open its 2018 live harness racing season on Monday (April 16) when the first race goes to post at 4 p.m. The 19th season at The Ridge will include 110 racing dates that run through Thursday (Nov. 29). Post time is 4 p.m. every racing day through Monday (Sept. 3) when the start moves back to 2 p.m. The post time adjusts once again on Thursday (Nov. 1) to 1 p.m. where it will remain for the rest of the meet. Race days will be Monday, Tuesday and Thursday until May 1 when the track goes to four days a week, adding Friday until the end of July. The schedule then reverts back to three days (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) in August and remains that way until the end of the meet. The track will be dark on Friday (July 27) and Thursday (November 22). Plainridge Park also offers full card simulcasting seven days a week: Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:45 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. "We are committed to producing an excellent racing product and look forward to a successful and exciting season" said Steve O'Toole, Director of Racing at Plainridge Park. In an effort to provide the best wagering options possible, O'Toole has brought back the popular Wicked Hi-5 pentafecta wager for another year and will be announcing some guaranteed wagering pools when the meet gets underway. The track is also introducing 18 new claiming and late-closer series that will be run throughout the season. The claiming series will include all price levels from both gaits and in some cases, divided by gender. Late closers include divisions for 2-year-olds, 3 and 4-year-olds and aged horses of both gaits and genders. There are no nominating or starting fees for these races and finals will see purses as high as $25,000. All those events will be overseen by Plainridge Park Race Secretary Paul Verrette. "In some ways we have gone back to the future by putting the summer long claiming series back on the condition sheet. They used to be a staple here and we are going to see if there is still interest in them." said Verrette. "We tried to compliment them with some series for younger and overnight horses as well. The hope is that there is a special event available for most horses and that it will keep the racing fresh throughout the long season." Last year's leading driver and trainer will be back to defend their titles and are scheduled to be on hand opening day. Greg Merton posted 230 driving victories in 2017 and they earned his connections $1.509 million in purses. Both of those totals were new track records. Monique Cohen was the meet's leading trainer a year ago with 71 wins and that was also a new track record for condition in victories for the session. The Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) are also on the agenda when all the summer action winds down. The estimated $1.3 million in purses up for grabs by state-reared Standardbreds will take place four consecutive weeks during the month of October. This ever improving program produced eight stake records during the competition last year and those standards will be under attack once again. The dates for the 2018 MASS 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, Tuesday (Oct. 30) 2 and 3-year-old Finals, $85,000 estimated each leg. For more information on all the live racing action at Plainridge Park throughout the year, log onto the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts (www.sominc.net) or Plainridge Park Casino (www.plainridgeparkcasino.com). By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts    

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