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Alexa Skye and driver Todd McCarthy served notice in the final of five preliminary rounds of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway on Friday night with an imposing 1:52.3 victory in her $35,000 division. The fleet-footed 4-year-old by Somebeachsomewhere had to work just a bit to gain control at the quarter, but from that point her four rivals chased her in vain. Alexa Skye left the gate along with Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett) from the inside, with Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) between those two into the opening bend. Siesta Beach settled along the pylons, but McCarthy pushed Alexa Skye to the top and cleared passing a 27.4 opening fraction. Alexa Skye maintained the lead after that, setting fractions of 56.3 and 1:24.4, with Siesta Beach moving to the outside into the final turn as Monica Gallagher lost contact with the pace-setter. McCarthy let his mare do the talking, and Alexa Skye spoke volumes, cruising home effortlessly with a 27.4 kicker to win by open lengths. Siesta Beach held down the place spot, with Soho Burning Love A (Austin Siegelman) showing decent late foot for third. ALEXA SKYE REPLAY   Sent off as the 1-5 favorite in the field, Alexa Skye paid $2.40 to win. Alexa Skye won all four of the Blue Chip Matchmaker preliminary legs she participated in for co-owner Pollack Racing LLC. and co-owner/trainer Jeff Cullipher. The exacta returned $4.50, with the two favorites first and second, and the triple came back $11.40. Now a winner in seven of nine starts on the season, Alexa Skye moves into the $232,800 final on April 19 as the clear horse to beat.   In the night's first section, which was raced as a non-wagering event, Blue Ivy led a field of four wire-to-wire for driver Tyler Buter to score decisively in 1:52 3/5 over Caviart Cherie (Kakaley) and Machnhope, with Lady Dela Renta A (Jordan Stratton) fourth in the group. Blue Ivy had the pole position and discouraged leavers, blasting off into the opening bend and cutting a 27.1 quarter with no dispute. Buter was then kind to the 5-year-old daughter of Captaintreacherous, allowing her to stroll the middle-half in just 58 seconds, reaching three-quarters in 1:25.1 as Machnope and Andrew McCarthy pulled to make a token bid. No one would get within a length of Blue Ivy, as Buter called on her, and she responded with a 27.2 final quarter, holding a clear advantage to the wire. Caviart Cherie had raced in the pocket throughout and fought hard enough for the place spot. Trained by Todd Buter and owned by Renee Bercury, Blue Ivy completed the five-leg preliminary round with an impressive scorecard that included three wins and two second-place finishes. Friday's 1:52.3 mile was her fastest of the series and her sixth win in 2021 in just 10 starts. Unofficially, the eight mares that advanced to the $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final are: Blue Ivy (325 points), Alexa Skye (300), Machnhope (237), Siesta Beach (234), Caviart Cherie (222), Snobbytown (195), Monica Gallagher (178), and My Ruebe Star N (143). The final leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series will take place on Monday night (April 12) at Yonkers Raceway with three $40,000 fields set, including a final preview with Leonidas A, This Is The Plan and Hesa Kingslayer N in one division. Yonkers races Monday through Friday night with first post at 7:15 p.m. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

This Is The Plan, Western Joe, and Leonidas A scored harness racing victories in the trio of $40,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series on Monday night (April 5) at Yonkers Raceway. In addition to the on-track action, betting was also brisk on Monday's 10-race card as the handle entered seven-figure territory at $1,037,217.95. After finishing second in all three of his appearances in the series coming into this leg, This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Gingras fired This Is The Plan to the top from post four, and he would put up fractions of 27.2, 56.1, and 1:23.3 before he closed in 27.3 to win by three lengths over pocket-sitter Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton). Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) held third over favorite Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn). Ron Burke trains This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 15-time winner in his career, and he pushed his earnings to $1,806,700. This Is The Plan, the 3-2 second choice, paid $5.00 and was atop a $51.50 exacta and a $126.50 trifecta. THIS IS THE PLAN REPLAY   In the second section, driver Todd McCarthy put the hammer down with None Bettor A and roared through stations of 26.3, 55.1, and 1:23.1. On the far turn Sheriff N (Daniel Dube) attacked the leader two-wide from the pocket, with favorite Rockapelo (George Brennan) picking up cover from third to sit second-over. Even though Sheriff N and Rockapelo had first dibs on the tiring leader, it wound up being a cavalry charge through the stretch after the hot tempo, and taking advantage was Western Joe (Dunn), who sat inside in sixth and rallied through a gap on the pylons on his way to the win by a neck in 1:52.4. Rockapelo wound up second, with Sheriff N back in third. Western Joe, a 7-year-old gelded son of Western Ideal, scored his second straight victory in the series for trainer Chris Choate, co-owner/breeder Anthony Ruggeri, and co-owner Richard Tosies. Western Joe now has a record of 33-16-11 from 105 starts, and he has banked $781,858. Western Joe, who was the second choice at odds of 5-2, returned $7.70 to win and keyed a $15.60 exacta and a $54.50 trifecta. WESTERN JOE REPLAY   Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman), returning after a one-week break, ran his MGM Borgata Pacing Series record to an unblemished three-for-three in the final flight. Leonidas A settled in third behind Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) and Lyons Steel (Corey Callahan) in the early going, but Siegelman had him out and on move before the 28-second opening quarter went on the board, and he would take command after that marker. Leonidas A would go on to put up a 56.4 half and a 1:24.4 three-quarters, and a 28.3 final kicker gave him the victory by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:53.2. Lyons Steel was second after a first-over try, narrowly bettering Ostro Hanover. A 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, Leonidas A is trained by Sheena Mcelhiney for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 28th career victory, and he has now put away $291,848. Leonidas A, hammered down to 1-9, paid $2.30 to win and led a $7.90 exacta and a $19.20 trifecta. LEONIDAS A REPLAY   There is one more leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series to go, and that will be held next Monday (April 12). The final will take place on Monday, April 19. Stakes action resumes at Yonkers on Wednesday night (April 7) when the track plays host to four $20,000 divisions of the second leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series. Opening round winners Guilty Desire (race five/post six, Jordan Stratton/Betty Clegg), Hunting AS (race six/post one, Todd McCarthy/Jenny Melander), Look In My Eyes (race six/post eight, Jordan Stratton/Anette Lorentzon), and Lady Jeter (race seven/post four, Scott Zeron/Ed Gannon Jr.) are all back in action. Then, on Friday (April 9), Yonkers has a couple of $35,000 splits of the final preliminary round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. The first of those races will take place as a non-wagering contest, and the second one is race two on the pari-mutuel program. In the non-wagering tilt, Blue Ivy (post one, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) and Machnhope (post three, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley) will both shoot for their third win in the series, and in the other Blue Chip Matchmaker match-up, Alexa Skye (post four, Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher), currently three-for-three in the event, meets up with one of last Friday's victors in Siesta Beach (post three, Matt Kakaley/Nick Devita). For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Hunting AS was the only favorite to prevail as the John Brennan Trotting Series began with four $20,000 harness racing divisions on Wednesday night (March 31) at a soggy and sloppy Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Todd McCarthy, Hunting AS worked out a pocket trip behind Halo Its Me (Yannick Gingras) in the third flight and watched as that foe clicked off fractions of 30.2, 1:00.1, and 1:28.3. Halo Its Me was still in command as they turned into the stretch, but McCarthy had Hunting AS finishing well two-wide, and Hunting AS surged by the pace-setter on his way to a one and a quarter length decision in 1:57.3. Blue And Bold (Jason Bartlett) finished third after sitting on the inside in fourth. A 4-year-old gelding by Lionhunter, Jenny Melander trains Hunting AS for owners Melander Racing Inc., Clark Stables LLC., and Robert Bernaski. Hunting AS has a record of 6-11-2 from 32 starts, and he has now earned $81,956. Sent off at even-money, Hunting AS paid $4.20 to win and led an $18.40 exacta and a $112.00 trifecta. HUNTING AS REPLAY   While second-best in that split, Gingras had already collected a win in the event after he guided Lady Jeter to a 10-1 upset in the opening section. Lady Jeter went straight to the top from post five, laid down panels of 28.4, 58.2, and 1:27.4, and kicked home in 29.3 to win by a length and a quarter in 1:57.2. Impulse Buy (Bartlett) was the runner-up, followed by Windsong Pioneer (Brent Holland). Heavy favorite Some Chapter (Dexter Dunn) made a break while advancing first-over on the third turn. Lady Jeter, a 4-year-old Muscles Yankee mare, is trained by Ed Gannon Jr. for owner Zippett Racing Stable. Lady Jeter is now a seven-time winner from 37 tries, and she pushed her bankroll to $98,668. Lady Jeter returned $22.00 to win and keyed a $246.00 exacta and $556.00 trifecta. LADY JETER REPLAY   Another surprise came in the second of the four series tilts when 21-1 offering Look In My Eyes (Jordan Stratton) darted to the engine from post eight, put up stations of 29.1, 58.4, and 1:28, and couldn't be caught in a 30 second final panel, as he kept a first-over McMatters (Mark MacDonald) at bay to win by a length and a half in 1:58. Manhattanup No Ice (Bartlett) wound up third from the pocket. The second winner for sire Lionhunter, Look In My Eyes is a 4-year-old gelding bred, owned, and trained by Anette Lorentzon. Look In My Eyes picked up his seventh lifetime victory, and he has now pocketed $98,215. Look In My Eyes paid $44.20 to win and was atop a $136.00 exacta and a $786.00 trifecta. LOOK IN MY EYES REPLAY   Gingras then toppled the apple cart again in the final flight with 11-1 Guilty Desire in a 1:58.2 mile. Guilty Desire yielded to sit in the pocket behind 1-20 favorite Get Legs (Andy Miller) after the 29 second opening quarter, but Get Legs miscued on the second turn, putting Guilty Desire back in command. He didn't relinquish it again, as a 58.3 half and a 1:28.1 three-quarters was followed by a 30.1 final panel to secure the victory. He downed a closing Bazillionaire (Austin Siegelman) by half a length, with Get Legs recovering and finishing full of trot for third. Betty Clegg trains Guilty Desire, a 6-year-old gelded son of Deweycheatumnhowe, for owner Nick Clegg. Guilty Desire collected his 15th career win, and he has now pocketed $109,866. Guilty Desire paid $25.60, the exacta was worth $726.00, and the trifecta kicked back $1,136.00. GUILTY DESIRE REPLAY   The John Brennan Trotting Series has two additional preliminary rounds on Wednesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 14, and the final is scheduled for Wednesday, April 21. As a result of all the upsets on Wednesday, there will be carryovers in both the Pick 5 and Pick 6 at Yonkers on Thursday (April 1), in addition to a guaranteed pool in the Pick 5. The Pick 5 carryover is $6,863.85, which triggered a guaranteed pool of $20,000, and the Pick 6 carryover stands at $2,928.24. The guaranteed pool in the Pick 5 is being offered as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program. Free past performances for the Pick 5, courtesy of TrackMaster, are available here. The Pick 5 and Pick 6 both have a takeout rate of 20 percent, as do the nightly Pick 4's. Stakes action at Yonkers resumes on Friday (April 2) with two $35,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares and continues on Monday (April 5) with three $40,000 splits of the fourth round of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for free-for-allers. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Alexa Skye was expected to face her toughest test of the year in the second of two $35,000 divisions of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series on Friday night at Yonkers Raceway. However, when two mares were scratched prior to the race, reducing the field to just five, the task was made considerably easier for driver Todd McCarthy. Nevertheless, it took two early moves for the 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere to secure the front, but the rest was once again quite easy as Alexa Skye made it three straight conquests in the series, scoring by a comfortable margin in 1:53.4. My Ruebe Star N (Jordan Stratton) left alertly, as did Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter). The pair were directly inside Alexa Skye, the race favorite, and McCarthy settled in third as My Ruebe Star N seated Blue Ivy and marched towards the opening quarter. Alexa Skye moved before the quarter had been passed, secured the lead after the 27.4 quarter, and from there was in control. After a 29.4 second quarter, McCarthy and Alexa Skye had all of the rest time they needed and quickly marched off with a 28 second flat third quarter, gaining some separation from My Ruebe Star N as Buter and Blue Ivy moved to the outside to try to track down the leader. McCarthy felt the urgency of the threat that Blue Ivy, a first leg winner, posed and began to urge Alexa Skye on coming off the final turn. He kept active in the bike, and it certainly woke up the sharp mare as she sprinted off with a 28.1 kicker, keeping Blue Ivy at bay, with Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closing strongly late for third. ALEXA SKYE REPLAY   Trained and co-owned by Jeff Cullipher, along with Pollack Racing LLC., Alexa Skye was a winner for the sixth time in 2021 and is just $250 shy of the $100,000 mark in seasonal earnings. This was her 15th victory overall, and she now has banked $209,890 lifetime. Sent off as the 2-5 favorite, Alexa Skye returned $2.80 to win and keyed a $4.80 exacta and a $12.60 triple. In the first $35,000 division, 1-2 favorite Snobbytown took command shortly past the start and went wire-to-wire for driver George Brennan and trainer Ron Burke. It was the first win in the series for the 5-year-old mare. Snobbytown cut fractions of 27.4 and 57.1 for the opening half, and then discarded token pressure by Maczaffair N (Stratton) past the halfway mark. Snobbytown remained in control at three-quarters, which she put up in 1:25.1, and Brennan was able to keep pocket-sitter Caviart Cherie (Kakaley) locked in until the late stages to secure a safe margin while pacing a 29.1 final quarter in the 1:54.2 mile. Caviart Cherie held down the place spot, with Keep Rockin A (Tim Tetrick) making a solid advance for third. Maczaffair N faded to fourth after a long first-over grind. SNOBBYTOWN REPLAY   Snobbytown, a daughter of Nob Hill High, is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Jason Melillo. Snobbytown, who paid $3.10 for the victory as the 1-2 choice, now has a record of 20-16-6 from 49 appearances, and she has put away $376,755. The exacta came back at $12 and triple returned $44.40. Two more preliminary rounds remain in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series on Friday, April 2 and Friday, April 9. The final is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 19. The third leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series will be the feature on Monday night's card at Yonkers Raceway, with three $40,000 divisions on the 10-race program. Yonkers races Monday through Friday night with a first post time at 7:15 p.m. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Having gained enormous respect from her blowout harness racing victory in the opening leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Alexa Skye had a much easier time putting away her rivals on Friday night (March 19), capturing the first of three $35,000 divisions at Yonkers Raceway in a 1:53.4 clocking. Sent off as the prohibitive 1-10 betting favorite, Todd McCarthy wasted little time seizing command on the opening bend from an accommodating My Ruebe Star N and driver Jordan Stratton. McCarthy kept an easy clip, going to the quarter in 28.4 and reaching the half unchallenged in 58.1. From there, the field of six stayed very much in line as Alexa Skye picked up the pace on the backstretch, hitting three quarters in 1:26 on her own power. McCarthy hardly moved a muscle edging into the homestretch, and the powerful 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere finished out her mile with a 27.4 final quarter as the rest of the field battled hard for the place spot. My Ruebe Star N held her ground and won the competition for the second position, while Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closed along the pylons and finished in a dead-heat with Keep Rockin A (Tim Tetrick) for show. ALEXA SKYE REPLAY   Alexa Skye, who picked up her 14th victory overall and has now banked $192,390, is owned in partnership by Pollack Racing LLC. and trainer Jeff Cullipher. The dead heat for third crunched the payoffs a bit, with Alexa Skye returning $2.20 for win and the exacta kicking back a cool $7.20. In the triple department, the 3-1-2 combination returned $10, and the 3-1-4 was worth $6.30. Seaswift Joy N and driver Andrew McCarthy pulled the upset in the second division, using the wire-to-wire approach as an 11-1 offering. Bettors Heart N (Dexter Dunn), the even-money choice, left quickly and parked Seaswift Joy N for early command, yielding her advantage into the opening bend..After clearing, McCarthy had Seaswift Joy N in control reaching the quarter in 28.1 and slowing the half to 57.3 while the favored Bettors Heart N struggled to maintain close contact with the leader throughout. Lady Dela Renta A and Stratton were first to pull into the third turn but were unable to advance as Seaswift Joy N extended her lead through three-quarters, which went on the board in 1:26. On the final turn, McCarthy kept his mare alert, and she closed out the mile with a 27.4 quarter, easily holding the hard-charging Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter) off in a 1:53.4 mile. Blue Ivy, the 6-5 second choice, was a clear second, with Lady Dela Renta A holding third. SEASWIFT JOY N REPLAY   Owned by Bradley Grant, Seaswift Joy N, an 8-year-old Bettor's Delight mare, improved on her second-place finish in the opening leg for her third victory in 2021 for trainer Tony Alagna. Seaswift Joy N, who is now a 28-time winner and earner of $465,035 lifetime, returned $24.20 to win, with the exacta paying $86. The triple was good for $220.50. Favored Machnhope, with Andrew McCarthy, in the bike took the overland route to victory in the third Blue Chip Matchmaker division, scoring in 1:53.4, the same exact time of the first two winners. Snobbytown, second choice in the field, jetted to command at the outset for George Brennan and had control late on the opening bend. Snobbytown cruised to the quarter in 27.4 and continued to control the action after that point, hitting the halfway mark in 57.2. McCarthy took Machnhope off the pylons heading past the half, and the 2-5 public choice grinded her way up to second as Snobbytown passed three-quarters in 1:25.4. It was a match race from there, with McCarthy getting the most out of Machnhope in the stretch and taking the duel in the late stages. Snobbytown was well clear for second, with Dbldelitebrigade N (Todd McCarthy) finishing in a dead-heat for third with Caviart Cherie (Kakaley). MACHNHOPE REPLAY   Trainer Noel Daley also co-owns Machnhope, a 6-year-old by Mach Three, with Deo Volente Farms LLC., Tom Pontone, and L.A. Express Stable LLC. Machnhope scored her 29th career win and has now pocketed $392,044. She returned $2.90 to win, with the exacta worth $6.40. The triples paid $8.50 (Dbldelitebrigade N third) and $11.20 (Caviart Cherie third). Third round action in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will take place on Friday, March 26. On Monday (March 22), the second round of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series has four $40,000 divisions, with first leg winners Leonidas A and San Domino A meeting in one split and fellow round one victors Hesa Kingslayer N and Let It Ride N meeting in another. Yonkers Raceway hosts live harness racing Monday through Friday nights, with first post at 7:15 p.m..  For full results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway  

Alexa Skye and driver Todd McCarthy served notice in the second of three $35,000 divisions of opening round action in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for harness racing pacing mares on Friday night at Yonkers Raceway with a blistering 1:51.2 victory. McCarthy took the 4-5 public choice to the lead shortly after the start, putting second choice Seaswift Joy N, driven by his brother Andy, in the pocket. Alexa Skye dictated the pace, cutting the first two fractions in identical 28 second quarters and keeping the abbreviated field of five at bay in the process. Alexa Skye picked up the pace noticeably past the half and smoked her third quarter in 27.2, gaining ample separation on the field before marching home impressively with a 28 second final kicker.   A 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Alexa Skye won for the first time since being purchased by trainer Jeff Cullipher, along with Pollack Racing LLC., in February. Alexa Skye, who picked up her 13th victory overall and has now earned $174,890, returned $3.70 to win, with the exacta with runner-up Seaswift Joy N coming back at $7.00. Monica Gallagher held on to the show spot and finished off a $19.40 trifecta. Andy McCarthy was able to post a mild upset in the first split with Machnhope, going first-over the final three eighths to collar race favorite My Ruebe Star N in the homestretch and win comfortably by 2 1/4 lengths. Jordan Stratton put the field in post position order at the outset with My Ruebe Star N and posted very modest fractions of 28.3 and 57.4 for the opening half. The pace picked up considerably when McCarthy pulled on the right line off turn three and went on the attack, coming to even terms with the favorite at the 1:25.3 three-quarters. The two continued to battle through the final turn, but Machnhope, trained by Noel Daley, surged past into the stretch and closed out her 1:53.3 victory with a 28 second final panel. Caviart Cherie squeezed out on the final turn to earn the place spot, with Bettors Heart N making a solid three-wide charge from a difficult spot to salvage the show dough.   Machnhope is owned by Deo Volente Farms LLC., Tom Pontone, L.A. Express Stable LLC., and trainer Daley. The 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three paid $4.80 to win, the exacta returned $52.00, and the trifecta kicked back $193.00. Machnhope is now a 28-time winner from an even 100 appearances, and she has pocketed $374,544. Blue Ivy and driver Tyler Buter cashed in on a second-over trip in the third flight as a 6-1 outsider in the field of six mares. Blue Ivy was away patiently in the early stages as Siesta Beach claimed control on the first turn but relinquished command to the 4-5 favorite Soho Burning Love A prior to the 28 second opening quarter. Tim Tetrick had Soho Burning Love A under good rating and waltzed to the half in 56.4 before meeting some pressure on the backstretch when Lady Dela Renta A and Stratton came calling. Tetrick and Soho Burning Love A disposed of the first-over challenger past the 1:25 three-quarters but proved powerless in the late going as Buter pulled Blue Ivy three-wide and flashed a wicked burst of speed to win going away in a 1:53.3 clocking. Soho Burning Love A held on to the place spot, with Siesta Beach following in third.   A 5-year-old by Captaintreacherous that had mastered the Northfield half-mile track this winter, Blue Ivy won for the fourth time in six starts in 2021 for owner Renee Bercury. Todd Buter trains Blue Ivy, who now has 23 career triumphs and has put away $319,790 The bettors received a healthy $15.20 on the win end, with the exacta worth $37.80 and the trifecta good for an $86.00 return. The second leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker is slated for Friday, March 19. Preliminary round action continues in the series through April 9, and the final is slated to take place on Monday, April 19. Stakes action continues on Monday night at Yonkers with five $40,000 divisions of the opening leg of the MGM Borgata Series for free-for-all pacers. Post time is 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It's hard to imagine anyone feeling confident about Sweet Lucy Lou's chances down the backstretch in the Friday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands, a high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares. After all, the 5-year-old by Sweet Lou-Ultimate Bet, was sent to the gate as a 17-1 outsider and was sitting 10th and last as the field went past the half-mile marker with apparently no chance. But then things picked up for her connections, not to mention her backers. Driver Todd McCarthy put Sweet Lucy Lou into a fourth-over flow, a train that was led by a resilient Betalady, who went parked the mile while in search of a third straight win at The Big M. At three-quarters - which was timed in 1:22.2 - Dover Downs shipper Going Gone Hanover was calling the shots with 5-2 favorite Wingding Hanover in the pocket and Betalady still grinding away on the rim in third. "I thought she had a shot," said winning trainer Bob Cleary of Sweet Lucy Lou. "I thought a lot of them wouldn't like the wind in their faces in the stretch." Cleary was spot on, as his prized pupil roared home after tipping off cover for the stretch drive to score by 1¼ lengths in 1:51.3 and return a handsome $36.60 to win. Golden Quest N rallied after going second-over to grab the place spot. A game Betalady hung in there for third.   "She's a big closer," said Cleary, as Sweet Lucy Lou raised her lifetime stats to 10 wins from 50 starts. "It was a big class drop for her. Last year, she was fourth in the Breeders Crown [won by Kissin In The Sand]. Hopefully, she can be a stakes filly this year. She's a big-track horse and is staked to all of the big races at The Meadowlands and Mohawk." "I looked at her lines and that cemented in my mind that she's crazy good off cover," said McCarthy. "I was hoping she'd be good enough and she was." Owned by Royal Wire Products, Sweet Lucy Lou recorded her first win since October 9 of last year and lifted her lifetime bank account to $245,602. A LITTLE MORE: Leading driver Dexter Dunn and Yannick Gingras both won three races on the card, while Andy Miller, McCarthy and Mark MacDonald all won two apiece. ... Jeff Cullipher had a training double. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,706,688. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - For a second straight night, harness racing driver Todd McCarthy had the hot hand, and for a second straight week, action in The Meadowlands' 20-cent Pick-5 was huge. The combination led to a giant payday for a handful of sharp players. Unlike seven days ago (Jan. 2), when the total Pick-5 pool of $360,948 was divvied up many ways as three favorites (two odds-on choices) scored during the sequence leading to a payoff of $343.74, members of the "Todd Squad" cashed in for big balloons this time around. Saturday night, the pool was $195,759 including a $25,000 seed put up by the track and the Standardbred Owners Association of New Jersey, and those who had all five winners walked away with $25,057.52. McCarthy, who won four times on the Friday card, scored on Saturday in the second race with 9-1 shot Pokerface Bluechip. He made the day of those who hit the bet when he guided 29-1 chance Effronte A to the winner's circle in the fourth before winning his third race of the sequence with 2-1 favorite Somebaddude in the fifth-race payoff leg. Winner's odds for the sequence - that included a pair of post-time public choices - were 7-1, 9-1, 6-5, 29-1 and 2-1. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - For a guy who didn't arrive until four months ago, Todd McCarthy continues to impress in harness racing's toughest driver colony. The 27-year-old McCarthy continued to do good things since his arrival from Australia, winning four times on the Friday night card at The Meadowlands. The five-time driving champion at Australia's Menangle Racetrack finished second at the recently concluded Fall Big M Meeting, ending up just four winners behind leading pilot Dexter Dunn, the native New Zealander who won 46 races. Break The Deal got McCarthy's big Friday off to a good start in the opener, taking a low-end fillies and mares pace in 1:52.4 as the 8-5 favorite for trainer Tom Shay before recording three more victories with non-chalks. The Double Deuce raced uncovered around the far turn on the way to taking the fourth race, a low-end conditioned distaff pace, for trainer Nancy Takter as the 5-1 third choice in 1:53.1 before another 5-1 chance, the Noel Daley-trained Darkrshadeofpale N, won the fifth race mid-range fillies and mares pace in 1:51.4 as the fourth choice in the betting. The "Todd Squad" were smiling once again at the conclusion of race eight, when Godspell Hall tipped off perfect cover to score as the 9-2 third choice in a mid-range conditioned trot in 1:53.2 for trainer Nifty Norman. Darkrshadeofpale N JOEY UPSETS IN FEATURE: Driver Dave Miller put 13-1 long shot Joey on the front early, and the 6-year-old gelded son of Yankee Glide-Jodi's Jayme went all the way to take the featured $19,000 high-end conditioned trot in 1:53.1. Seeking his third consecutive win, 4-5 favorite Some Chapter used a huge brush down the backside to challenge the eventual winner, but flattened out on the far turn before coming back to battle Joey through the stretch, only to come up a neck short in a superb try. A LITTLE MORE: Dexter Dunn guided three winners on the card while Dave Miller had a pair. ... The Julie Miller-trained, Andy Miller-driven Get Legs stayed perfect in five lifetime starts after winning the 11th race non-winners of three trot in a lifetime-best 1:53.1. ... All-source handle totaled $2,804,088. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. when the first race 20-cent Pick-5 kicks off. The Meadowlands and the Standardbred Owners Association of New Jersey have teamed up to seed the pool with $25,000. The wager sports a $100,000 guaranteed pool. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - One sharp player cashed in big - thanks to harness racing driver Todd McCarthy - just in time for Christmas at The Meadowlands Friday night by hitting the 20-cent Pick-5. He or she walked away with $43,916.06. A pair of heavy favorites who were likely singled on many tickets - Best Honey Hanover (2-5 in the first race) and Walks Of Life (3-5 in the third) - went down to defeat, setting the stage for the big payday for the winner, who was betting into the Oregon hub. McCarthy, second in the Big M driver standings at the Fall Meet with 37 wins entering the night, scored with 23-1 shot Genessee Seelster in race three and then came right back in the fourth with 13-1 chance Peppermint Mocha. The odds of the winners for the sequence were 9-2, 4-5, 23-1, 13-1 and 5-1. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

Harness racing driver Todd McCarthy is no fan of the cold, but the Australia native is a big admirer of good horses. And the latter will keep McCarthy in the U.S. through this winter and next year. The 27-year-old McCarthy moved to the U.S. in late August and already counts a handful of Grand Circuit stakes victories among his 80 wins sinceeries cham then. His biggest triumph came earlier this month with Anoka Hanover in the Kindergarten Classic Spionship for 2-year-old female trotters, and McCarthy will be back in action with the filly this weekend. Anoka Hanover is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday's $451,800 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters at The Meadowlands. She brings a six-race win streak to the event, including divisions of the International Stallion and Bluegrass stakes. For the year, the Noel Daley-trained filly has won nine of 13 races and $373,153. McCarthy has been in the sulky for her past six starts. "She's been awesome," McCarthy said. "Noel has done a terrific job with her and certainly made my job easier. It's a tough race, but fingers crossed, hopefully everything goes well for us." Anoka Hanover was not eligible to the Breeders Crown last month at Harrah's Hoosier Park. On Saturday, she will face the top-three Breeders Crown finishers: winner Lady Chaos, runner-up Mazzarati, and Splash Blue Chip. Lady Chaos and Splash Blue Chip have not raced since the Crown. Mazzarati finished third in the Kindergarten two weeks ago, when Anoka Hanover won in a career-best 1:52.3. "Going to the Breeders Crown would have been cool but she might not have been the same horse going into the Kindergarten and the race this week," McCarthy said about Anoka Hanover, a daughter of Donato Hanover-Aunt Mel. "I'm a big believer that sometimes everything happens for a reason and that fortnight ago was perfect. "She's got such a good attitude for such a young filly; she handles herself so well. She's just a lovely little horse to drive. She's so honest. She's out there to do her best every time, you don't have to ask her too much; she's trying as hard as you can. When you come across a horse like that, it doesn't matter what age group, you just really appreciate them." McCarthy is the younger brother of top drivers Luke and Andy McCarthy and son of highly regarded trainer John McCarthy. His accomplishments Down Under included winning the 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship and multiple New South Wales state and metropolitan premiership driving titles. He represented Australia at the 2019 World Driving Championship and counts the Inter Dominion as his top victory. "I have to thank Noel for all he's done," McCarthy said. "He helped me come over here and got me going. He couldn't have been more helpful since I've come to the States, putting me down to drive. I can't thank him enough." McCarthy's original plan was to return to Australia during the U.S. winter and return next spring or summer. But with his newfound success in the States, he decided there was no reason to leave. McCarthy entered Friday with 80 wins in 565 drives, a 14-percent win rate, and $1.17 million in purses. "To be honest, I never thought I would stay this busy when I came over; I thought I'd be pretty quiet," McCarthy said. "But everyone has been so welcoming, and I've been getting a lot of great opportunities. I'm really enjoying it. "I don't like the cold too much, but I'm happy to stick it out and I'll do my best to enjoy the winter. I don't want to go home. I'm having too much fun." The Goldsmith Maid is part of the Fall Four events for 2-year-olds Saturday at The Big M. Breeders Crown champion On A Streak is the 3-1 favorite in the $398,650 Valley Victory for male trotters and Summa Cum Laude, who captured a Breeders Crown in a dead heat with Perfect Sting, is the 9-5 choice in the $371,900 Governor's Cup for male pacers. Fire Start Hanover, also a Crown winner, is the 2-1 favorite in the $323,600 Three Diamonds for female pacers. In addition to the Fall Four, the Saturday card includes TVG Series championships for trotters and pacers. Those races will feature the final career starts for Dan Patch Award winners Bettor's Wish, Kissin In The Sand, and Manchego. For complete Saturday Big M entries, click here. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - McCarthy, McCarthy, McCarthy, McCarthy! No, not Andy of Hambletonian fame, but little brother Todd, who stole the show at The Meadowlands Saturday night. The recent Australian invader won four times on the 13-race card to record his first harness racing victories at the mile oval. There figure to be many more to come. McCarthy, 27, arrived from Down Under at the end of August and has made an immediate impact racing in the States, winning 11 times from 87 starts entering action Saturday. "Australia was good to me. It's been great for years," said McCarthy. "I was the top driver at Menangle Racetrack in Sydney for the last five years. The timing was tricky [to come to the States] the way things are in the world right now, but it was a good time to come over and give it a go. The racing here is definitely faster and a little more aggressive, but so far it's been great and I'm really enjoying it." So did those who bet him Saturday night. McCarthy got the ball rolling in the third race, finishing first in a dead heat. Guiding A Major Omen, he managed to catch Griffon Hanover at the wire to record his first career Big M win in 1:52.2 in a low-end conditioned pace, paying $7.20 to win. Both horses went off at odds of 6-1. Somebodyitreasure and McCarthy hooked up to destroy their foes in a non-winners of two pace by 5¾ lengths in 1:49.4 as the 6-5 favorite in race four before Flyingevenbettor N gave McCarthy his third win of the night in the sixth race non-winners of four pace in 1:51.2 as the 1-2 public choice. Completing McCarthy's grand slam was 7-1 chance The Bettormack N, who got the better of 3-5 favorite Ocean Colony nearing the finish of race seven. The time for the mile in the mid-range conditioned pace was 1:50. "I've had a good night," the understated McCarthy said. "With a lot of help from some good horses and some good trainers. I've been a lot busier than I thought I'd have been. I think for anyone in the harness racing industry, you look at America, The Meadowlands is the pinnacle. To crack one tonight and then to get a few more after that, it was pretty awesome." Big brother Andy has been in his corner. "Andy's been a key factor in throwing a lot of work my way," said Todd. "The fact that he's been away [racing in Canada] has been a help. He's told some of the trainers, 'I'm away, you can throw my brother down on something'." McCarthy said he plans to race at Philadelphia, Pocono Downs and The Meadowlands in the coming months. "I've enjoyed every track I've raced at," said McCarthy. It shows. BOMBS AWAY! Driver Pat Berry, aka "The Blueberry Bomber", was up to his old tricks again, guiding three winners on the card, none close to being the post-time public choice. Berry scored with Always The Sun ($15.20 to win) in the first race and Imageofarocker ($12.00) in the fifth before saving his best for last, winning with 33-1 shot Harambe Deo ($68.40) in the 10th. On March 7, the last night of racing before the coronavirus shutdown, Berry swept the late double that paid $2,700.40 with horses who went off at 47-1 and 27-1. A LITTLE MORE: With a carryover of $37,159 serving as the catalyst, Early 20-cent Pick-5 players got to shoot for a total pool of $188,387. Those correctly selecting five winners cashed in for $271.46. ... With Harambe Deo providing the big upset, neither the Late 50-cent Pick-4 nor the Late 20-cent Pick-5 were hit. When racing resumes, the Late Pick-4 will have a carryover of $38,390 while the Late Pick-5 will start out with $21,811 in the hat. ... All-source wagering on the 13-race card totaled $2,744,326. ... The Big M's next live racing program is Friday. Post time is 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Over the past several years, harness racing driver Todd McCarthy contemplated leaving his native Australia to continue his career in North America. Watching his brother Andy win four Breeders Crown trophies last October at Woodbine Mohawk Park helped convince McCarthy to do it in 2020. The global coronavirus pandemic put his plans on hold for several months, but McCarthy finally was able to complete his move last week. And the 27-year-old wasted little time in finding the winner's circle, posting five victories in his first 28 starts. "I've always wanted to come, it was just a matter of time when I was going to be able to make the move," McCarthy said. "Probably after the Breeders Crown last year I started putting a few plans in place to make the move. That sort of made me think that this is the place to be. That definitely was motivating. "Initially, I wanted to come in March, early April, but (the pandemic) slowed things down. I was fortunate enough to be able to get over last week and it's all worked out. I've really enjoyed it at this stage. I've got a visa that allows me to stay for some time, so I'm planning on sticking around for quite a while." McCarthy's father, John, is a highly regarded trainer in Australia and brothers Luke and Andy are top drivers. Luke spent part of 2009 in North America and is best remembered for driving Muscle Hill to victory in the World Trotting Derby. Andy moved to the U.S. in 2007 and has won more than 2,500 races, including August's Hambletonian with Ramona Hill. Todd's accomplishments Down Under included winning the 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship and multiple New South Wales state and metropolitan premiership driving titles. He represented Australia at the 2019 World Driving Championship and counts the Inter Dominion as his top victory. "I think I'm most proud of the consistency," said McCarthy, who started driving in 2010. "I've had a lot of great support from trainers and that's something I'm proud of as well. My last couple seasons Down Under have been fantastic as far as the Grand Circuit goes, winning a lot of races. That's been pretty cool. "The timing (for this move) was perfect for me." McCarthy earned his first triumph in the U.S. in his third start and added four more victories in his next 25 races. He notched his first stakes triumph with Marloe Hanover in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars. "I've been overwhelmed by the support, that people have been willing to put me down and give me a shot," McCarthy said. "I can't thank all the trainers enough for that. It's been fantastic. "I've met so many people this first week, even though COVID has made things a little difficult. It's a weird time to be meeting people and making new relationships because you don't get to see everyone's face. That's been a little bit tricky. I've joked around that once we take our masks off, I probably won't recognize people." Adjusting to new horses and new drivers are McCarthy's biggest challenges. "I've been watching for a long time, but you've got to be here and driving in races to really pick that up," McCarthy said. "Back home, you sort of know most horses and have an idea how they race. Over here, I've had to start from scratch. "I find myself watching a lot of replays and reading a lot of programs. I'm doing my very best to educate myself. Each time I go out there, I've got as much knowledge as I can about the race and the horses in it and how I think the race is going to go." Following in Andy's ever-growing footsteps might seem daunting, but Todd is grateful for his brother's support. "If anything, he's made it easier for me; he's done all the hard yards," he said. "He's thrown a few contacts my way and gotten me a little bit of work. I've got to give Andy a huge shout out there. He's given me pointers on what to do and not to do. He's pointed me in the right direction, that's for sure." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Superstar Down Under Harness racing driver relocates to North America. Australian driver Todd McCarthy has moved himself to the Northern Hemisphere to pursue his driving career. Todd is very familiar with the North American style of racing with brother Andrew McCarthy being permanently based in the states as a driver and other brother Luke McCarthy has had stints in America. Todd was very quick to kick things off and in his first 4 days of driving he has had 13 drives for 3 winners. Two of those winners were aboard former Down Under horses and the third was for Down Under trainer Nifty Norman.  His first win was at Chester aboard Soho Wallstreet A, a Four Starzzz Shark 8yo who won in 1:51.2 in an $8,800 pace for trainer Tom Shay. This race was a Down Under trifecta with Tact Tate N finishing 2nd and Anythingforlove A in 3rd.  His next win came soon after at Pocono with Marloe Hanover a 3yo Captaintreacherous mare, who paced 1:51.1 to win the $35,000 second division of the Pennsylvania All Stars for Down Under trainer Nifty Norman.  He then finished the week strong on Sunday when we won with Down Under mare Its Mesmerise N (American Ideal) in an $11,200 pace at Pocono in 1:52.0 for trainer Darren Cassar. Over the next four days Todd McCarthy is entered for 20 drives. Which looks to be a great way to boost the start of his North American Harness Driving career. He was previously living in Sydney, Australia.    Monday 24th August     Harrington Raceway DE Neon Sky N – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $5,500   Plainridge Park MA Naughty Maravu N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $7,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Alta Leroy N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $8,500 Globaldomination N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $14,500 Down Under Trifecta – 2nd The Moonshadow N, 3rd Mister Rebbily A   Tuesday 25th August   Running Aces Casino & Racetrack MN Motu Moonbeam N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $9,000   Saratoga Harness NY Nerve Of Steel N – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $3,500 Franco Tristan N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $4,800 Mr Cool Seaeyre N – Time: 1:57.3, Stake: $4,800   The Meadows PA Hedges Avenue A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $8,100   Yonkers Raceway NY Dark Energy N – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $8,500 Soho Lennon A – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $12,500   Wednesday 26th August   Bangor Raceway ME Millwood Faith N – Time: 1:57.2, Stake: $4,000   Batavia Downs NY Media Queen N – Time: 1:56.3, Stake: $5,000   Harrahs Philadelphia PA Eclipse Me N – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $11,600 Queen Lostris N – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $10,000   Saratoga Harness NY Pasultimatedelite N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $4,800   Thursday 27th August   Yonkers Raceway NY High Rolling A – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $8,500   Rideau Carleton Raceway CA Rub Of The Green N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $5,500   Friday 28th August   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Blazen River N – Time: 1:49.1, Stake: $15,000   Harrahs Philadelphia PA Lifeonthebeach A – Time: 1:50.2, Stake: $10,000 Down Under Trifecta – 2nd Love The Blues N, 3rd Trojan Banner N Soho Wallstreet A – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $8,800 Down Under Trifecta – 2nd Tact Tate N, 3rd Anythingforlove A Vega Star N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $6,800   Scioto Downs OH Rockstar Angel A – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $7,500 Cyclone Kiwi N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $9,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Flamming Flutter N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $15,500   Saturday 29th August   Batavia Downs NY Sir Richie N – Time: 1:57.0, Stake: $5,000   Freehold Raceway NJ Fizzing N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $12,000   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Never Say Never N – Time: 1:50.0, Stake: $14,000   Scioto Downs OH Christen Me N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $9,000   Tioga Downs NY Real Lucky N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $4,500   Sunday 30th August   Bangor Raceway ME Simply Susational N – Time: 1:56.1, Stake: $5,000   Harrahs Philadelphia PA Dream Out Loud N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $8,800 San Domino N – Time: 1:50.3, Stake: $14,400 Itsrockandroll A – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $13,600   Running Aces Casino & Racetrack MN Five Card Draw N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $6,400   The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Lincolns Girl N – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $6,800 Anne Bonney N – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $12,000 Down Under First 4 – 2nd Golden Quest N, 3rd Shes Nun Bettor N, 4th Milwood Bonnie N Its Mesmerise N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $11,200 Flying Even Bettor N – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $12,000   Click here for previous weeks articles   by Carter Dalgety

One of the biggest questions harness racing fans were asking before the running of today's $100,000 TAB Len Smith was 'would the real Majordan show up and give his best?' Champion reinsman Todd McCarthy admitted it was a fine line with the speedy son of Art Major as to whether or not that Majordan would be able to match it with his rivals when the mobile starter let them go. The good news is, the big fellow was right on his game and the Kevin Pizzuto-trained pacer came out of barrier one and surged to a stunning 1:49.6 win over a gutsy Our Uncle Sam (Anthony Frisby), scoring by a head, with Victorian visitor Jilliby Bandit a strong third. Pizzuto described Majordan as a "beast" after a he impressed everyone with a strong recent trial and he showed why when Replaced Eye came firing out of the gate and Majordan had to be hunted up by McCarthy to hold the lead. "It was either that or possibly hand up and try and retake the lead," said Todd. "I'm just happy the real Majordan showed up today - sometimes it's in the lap of the gods which one will be here." Todd described the Len Smith as one of the elite harness races in this country. "This is my first win in this race so it's pretty special," he said.     Majordan "I have to give Gordon Banks and Mark Hanover a special mention for letting me drive this horse . . . he's pretty good, this bloke. Pizzuto agreed: "Both horse and driver were on their game today and it could not have worked out any better," said Pizzuto, one of the leading trainers in this country and something of a master at having his horses peak when the feature races roll around. He may be forced to consider taking Majordan to Queensland for their features as his other stable star Tiger Tara is already booked to head north for the stable in coming days. Sean Vella

A DECISION to send Australian Pacing Gold purchase No Win No Feed to New South Wales has certainly paid dividends. Prepared in Victoria last season by part-owner Jaime Madruga, No Win No Feed was transferred to Craig Cross’ stable for her three-year-old campaign. Making her racing return when second in a Bathurst Gold Bracelet heat last week, the handy filly was back at the venue for tonight’s Final. Driven “a treat” by Todd McCarthy, No Win No Feed upstaged her more fancied rivals to capture the Group One. “I sent her up for a few races with John McCarthy last season and was going to send her there again, but he is going away, so he said to send her to Craig,” Madruga explained. “She did well in the heat in her first run for seven months and was always going to be better for the run. “The boys had her primed perfectly for the Final.” Beginning quickly to lead from barrier five, No Win No Feed was allowed to roll along as the favourite, Brooklyns Best, worked at the pacemaker’s wheel. Striding clear around the home turn, the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance was untouched to score by 12-and-a-half metres from Our Ultimate Julie, with Brooklyns Best three-and-a-half metres away third. “Todd drove a treat,” Madruga said. “He knew the better ones had to come from behind so he made it hard on them. “We felt if she got the front without doing much work and could run her own race she would take a lot of running down.” Rating 1:55.5 over 2260 metres, No Win No Feed took her record to three wins and seven placings from 19 starts for earnings of $76,060. “Andy (Sinclair, part-owner) picked her at the APG Sale and we got her for only $10,000,” Madruga said. “This is Leigh’s (Flanagan) first horse and he’ll be over the moon.” Poised to remain in New South Wales, No Win No Feed will be aimed at the Breeders’ Challenge later in the season.   APG Media

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