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CHESTER, PA - Mr Houdini needed little magic to win the $16,000 trot at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday afternoon - he just needed his native ability, which enabled him to come home in 57 over a "sloppy +2" surface to take a new mark of 1:56. Andrew McCarthy quickly had the altered son of Kadabra on the lead, and the winner of three straight rattled off splits of 29.1, 59.1, and 1:27.3 on the engine. Girl Talk had stayed close to the winner throughout and tried to rally from the pocket late, but Mr Houdini saw that one's late bid off by 3/4 for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The top pacing event of the day was an event for distaffs worth $14,500, and heading to the wire three of the four involved in the drive were New Zealanders, with the import Nike Franco N (handled by Flora IL's Tim Tetrick, the lone non-Kiwi) withstood a big late charge from Delightfulmemphisn and the "Down Under Wonder," driver Dexter Dunn, to prevail in 1:52.4 in the off going. Tetrick had moved the victorious daughter of McArdle past early leader Oceania past the 27.1 quarter, put up middle fractions of 56.3 and 1:24.2, and looked free and clear at headstretch. But Delightfulmemphisn angled four-wide and cut into the lead with every stride in the lane, only to come up a half-length short on the money. The winner, trainer by Scott Di Domenico, recorded her second straight win, and now has lifetime earnings of $822,029 while raising her career win ratio to 43% (32 for 75). She is owned by William Hartt, Foulk Stables Inc., JFE Enterprise LLC, and Triple D Stables Inc. From the PHHA/Harrah's Chester

Round The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) has been nothing shy of sensational since being acquired by owner-trainer John Macdonald at the beginning of October. The three year old filly went three-for-three at Vernon Downs with Macdonald in the sulky before coming to Saratoga Casino Hotel towards the end of last month. Jay Randall picked up the drive and sat behind Round The Beach as she scored convincingly in 1:53.4 in her Spa debut. The filly secured her sixth consecutive victory last weekend when her trainer piloted the rising star to victory despite a step up in class. This Friday night, Round The Beach was vaulted into the Fillies and Mares Open for the first time and was tasked with taking on some terrific mares. Randall was aggressive in the early going and moved Round The Beach to the top in a first quarter clocked in 27.2. The filly traveled unopposed throughout the middle half and after checking in at three quarters in 1:25.1 stepped on the gas when met with the challenge of pocket-sitter Betabcool N (Bruce Aldrich Jr). Meanwhile, the race's odds-on favorite Seventimesavirgin (Billy Dobson) began working closer while trying to pull off a last-to-first move in the feature. Round The Beach again proved up to the task as she extended her win streak to seven since the move to the Macdonald barn, wiring the field in 1:54.1 in the $18,000 Friday feature. Round The Beach, who paid $9.30 in her Open score, kept reinsman Jay Randall red hot. The Saratoga veteran piloted four winners on Thursday afternoon and has had a terrific 2018 as a whole. Betabcool N was the runner-up in the feature while the favored Seventimesavirgin had to settle for third. Live racing continues on Saturday night with a 6:45pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 14, 2018 -- The Meadows Racetrack & Casino has announced the following draw schedule for the Thanksgiving period: RACE DATE                  DRAW Saturday, Nov. 24           Monday, Nov. 19 Monday, Nov 26             Tuesday, Nov. 20 Tuesday, Nov. 27           Wednesday, Nov. 21 Wednesday, Nov. 28      Friday, Nov. 23 In addition, qualifying races will not be conducted Thanksgiving week. Please contact the race office, 724.225.9897, for more information or questions. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Driver Bob McClure and trainer Luc Blais have forged a strong relationship this year, winning 28 percent of their starts together. The partnership has helped McClure make a successful transition from Canada's "B" tracks to the main stage of Woodbine Mohawk Park, not to mention the harness racing Grand Circuit, and aided Blais' bid for career highs for wins and purses. The two will look to add to their accomplishments Saturday (Nov. 17) at the Meadowlands, where Ontario Sire Stakes champion Forbidden Trade takes on seven rivals in the second of two eliminations for the Valley Victory Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters. The top-five finishers from each elim advance to the $435,900 final on Nov. 24 at the Big M. Elimination winners will draw for posts one thorough six. Forbidden Trade, who has won seven of nine races, is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. He will start from post seven. Seven Hills is the 3-1 favorite, with Corey Callahan driving for trainer John Butenschoen. "He's been top notch all year," McClure said about Forbidden Trade. "He's pretty incredible for a 2-year-old. He looks like a 3-year-old and has the maturity of a 4-year-old. He's never given me any trouble. He's perfect to drive, a complete professional, no matter what kind of trip you give him. He's got the attitude of a good one. "The two races he lost were probably his two best races. One race (a preliminary leg of the sire stakes) he had a lot of bad racing luck and still raced huge. The other time (in a division of the Champlain Stakes) he had some traffic trouble. I didn't have him in good position and he got out of gear a little bit. He still came home :27.1, but he was in no position to win. He could have come home in :26.4 and he still wasn't going to win." Forbidden Trade, by Kadabra out of O'Brien Award-winner Pure Ivory, has earned $213,139 for owner Serge Godin's Determination stable. He brings a four-race win streak to his Valley Victory elimination. "I think the sky is the limit for him," McClure said. "He's been a professional from day one. He's made my job easy. If he's in any position to win he usually gets the job done. He's been fun to drive all year. I think he has the potential to be a top Grand Circuit horse." The 28-year-old McClure led Canada in wins in 2017 and 2016, topping 500 both years, and was third in 2015. This season, with his focus on Woodbine Mohawk, he has won 285 races and a career-best $3.74 million (U.S.) in purses. He ranks third in Canada in both wins and purses. "I'm very happy," McClure said. "I have a lot of people to thank for that. I was really happy where I was (at the smaller tracks) and I was having a lot of fun. But I decided to commit to (Woodbine Mohawk). I wanted to be home with family more. I didn't anticipate picking up the stakes stables I did. I didn't anticipate having as good a year that I've had right off the bat. It's worked out significantly better than I thought it would." Among those on McClure's thank-you list is trainer Dean Nixon, who backed the driver from the earliest days of his transition. "I've driven for him for a long time and he's somebody I've had a really good working relationship with," McClure said. "He's happy with the work I do, and I respect the good job he does. We've always done really well together. It gave me the freedom of being able to make some mistakes during the transition and not worry about him being upset about it. He's always going to be in your corner. "When I picked up Luc Blais, that was the icing on the cake." Blais, who trains exclusively for Determination, is in the midst of his third consecutive million-dollar-season. His 66 wins this year are the third most of his career (his best came in 2000 with 77) and his $1.56 million in purses is also third (his best came last year with $1.85 million). In addition to winning the Ontario Sire Stakes championship with Forbidden Trade, Blais and McClure have captured the Steele Memorial and Joie De Vie with Dream Together. They finished second in the Armbro Flight Stakes with Emoticon Hanover and second in the Ontario Sire Stakes championship with Champagne Jane. "They asked if I wanted to be the driver for Determination stables and I jumped at the opportunity," said McClure, who has driven 163 of Blais' 236 starters. "Serge Godin and Luc Blais are very good people to work for. "I think everyone is real happy with the year we've had." For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Dover, DE — A pair of long shots in This Is The Plan and The Downtown Bus stole the show in the $193,750 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old harness racing pacing colts and geldings on Thursday (Nov. 15) at Dover Downs, tag-teaming in deep stretch to nose out Jimmy Freight in a 1:49.1 dead heat. While Jimmy Freight and local favorite Lather Up tasted defeat in their Matron split, divisional standouts Six Pack and Youaremycandygirl refused to disappoint in their respective events. $210,150 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot (race four) In a meeting of the millionaires, dual classic winner Six Pack ($3.00) made easy work of the first-over Met’s Hall en route to a 1:54.1 score over sloppy going in his Matron Stakes division. Trainer-driver Åke Svanstedt sent the son of Muscle Mass to the front immediately from post five, and the pair floated clear of Fashionwoodchopper (Yannick Gingras) midway on the first turn before rating early splits of :28.1 and :57.3. Up the backstretch, Met’s Hall (Andy Miller) sustained a first-over ascent out of third to within half a length of the lead, but Six Pack shrugged off his rival under minimal hand urging through the final turn. With Met’s Hall no longer a threat past three-quarters in 1:26, Six Pack accelerated away from Fashionwoodchopper to take his 15th career win by four lengths. Mississippi Storm (Andy McCarthy) saved ground after gapping cover to just collar the weakening Met’s Hall for third. Svanstedt co-owns Six Pack with Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. $183,900 3-Year-Old Filly Trot (race six) Indiana standout Custom Cantab ($17.80) had something left in the stretch after winning a cutthroat first-quarter duel, as she was able to turn aside Plunge Blue Chip not once, but twice en route to a 1:53.1 Matron score. David Miller put the Mr Cantab filly in play from the outset, but the pair faced immediate resistance from Supergirl Riley (Tony Morgan) on approach to the first turn. After pressing in the two-path through a :26.4 first quarter, Custom Cantab accelerated to the fore with a circuit to go, but shortly thereafter faced pressure from the emerging Plunge Blue Chip (Åke Svanstedt) nearing a :55.2 half. Custom Cantab asserted up the backstretch, but had to dig in again a quarter from home to fend off the resurgent Plunge Blue Chip a second time on the final turn. Not only did she have enough to parry her outside rival, but she also kept a second push from Supergirl Riley — who emerged up the open stretch in the final sixteenth — a head short. Plunge Blue Chip’s third-place finish, 1-3/4 lengths behind, was enough to push her past the million-dollar mark in career earnings, while Breeders Crown winner Lily Stride (Tim Tetrick) failed to threaten from second-over and finished last. Trainer Chris Beaver co-owns 15-time winner Custom Cantab with Donald Robinson and RBH Ventures Inc. $159,350 3-Year-Old Filly Pace (race 10) Youaremycandygirl ($2.40) strode strongly to the front and never looked back, avenging Breeders Crown defeat to stablemate Percy Bluechip with a 1:51.3 win in their Matron event. Entering off a resounding 9-3/4 length win in the $113,000 USS Indy at Hoosier Park, Youaremycandygirl and driver Yannick Gingras out-sprinted Percy Bluechip (Matt Kakaley) and Solitary (Andy Miller) through a :27.2 first quarter before pulling the pace back. With a circuit to go, Dance Blue (Andy McCarthy) commenced a first-over bid from fifth and advanced steadily as the pace slackened through a :56.2 half. Up the backstretch, Youaremycandygirl’s lead was cut to a length and a quarter by Dance Blue, but was never in jeopardy. The daughter of American Ideal coasted through a :27.1 third quarter to evade Dance Blue and kept the pocket-sitting Percy Bluechip 1-1/4 lengths at bay in 1:51.3. Alexa’s Power (Tim Tetrick) chased evenly for third after being hemmed in until the top of the stretch. Ron Burke trains 18-time winner Youaremycandygirl for William Donovan. $193,750 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace (race 12) After Ontario standout Jimmy Freight was tasked with the heavy lifting through strenuous fractions and sternly dismissed the challenge of 4-5 local favorite Lather Up, This Is The Plan ($17.00, Tim Tetrick) and The Downtown Bus ($20.60, Corey Callahan) emerged in the final stride to simultaneously nose out Jimmy Freight in a dead heat in the glamour boys’ division of the Matron. Jimmy Freight and driver Scott Zeron let This Is The Plan clear before taking charge midway on the first turn and reeling off a :25.3 initial quarter. A determined advance from Lather Up (Montrell Teague) out of fourth with a circuit to go kept the pace hot through a :54.4 half, but Jimmy Freight remained undeterred with three-eighths to go and shrugged off that rival. Meanwhile, This Is The Plan remained close from the pocket and The Downtown Bus followed the three-wide cover of Breeders Crown winner Dorsoduro Hanover (Matt Kakaley) past three-quarters in 1:22.1. Turning for home, Dorsoduro Hanover stalled and Jimmy Freight was driven out to maintain a two-length lead, but it began to shrink in the final sixteenth. This Is The Plan lunged up the open stretch and The Downtown Bus surged widest of all, and they both reached the winning post simultaneously in 1:49.1, a nose better than Jimmy Freight. Ron Burke trains This Is The Plan, a six-time winner by Somebeachsomewhere, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Silva Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. Trainer Jeff Gillis co-owns 11-time winner The Downtown Bus with Ellen Ott. From the USTA Commincations Department

2018 has been a renaissance year at Saratoga Casino Hotel for veteran driver Jay Randall. The 57-year-old reinsman has surged up into fifth place in the local driver standings in what has been his best season in quite some time. On Thursday afternoon, Randall piloted two of the three winners in co-featured $11,000 races for New York sired trotters. The Amy Dowd-trained Cherry Peep (Conway Hall) prevailed last week when Randall got a pocket trip for the three year old filly who surged up the passing lane en route to recording a victory in 1:59.1. On Thursday, Randall once again situated Cherry Peep into the pocket before closing up the inside to stop the timer in 1:59.1 in a near carbon copy of last week's win. Randall piloted Grammy Winner (Credit Winner) to a wire-to-wire score in the second co-feature of the day as the Todd Buter-trained trotter handled her step up in class without difficulty. The three year old filly won out of the non-winners of two race lifetime condition and moved into the winners of two but not more than five featured class where she went coast-to-coast on Thursday, scoring in 1:59 with Randall in tow. The win was the first of back-to-back jacks on the card for Buter and Randall who teamed up for a score with veteran trotter Stitch In Time on the matinee program. Randall completed a Thursday grand slam when he piloted Jordan Derue trainee Love Yourself (Rock N Roll Heaven) to a first-over score. The sophomore pacer overcame his outside post, prevailing despite a difficult journey in a 56.3 back half en route to the win which wrapped up a monster day for Randall in what has been a sensational '18 campaign for the local reinsman. The third co-feature on the card went the way of Notmeitsyou (Chapter Seven) who overcame his outside post to shake his recent seconditis for trainer-driver Phil Fluet. Notmeitsyou lasted on the lead in what was the fastest of the co-features on Thursday, scoring in 1:58.3 to break his string of five consecutive second-place finishes. Live racing continues on Friday at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Plainville, MA --- With only five racing days left in the 2018 Plainridge Park meeting, this was the second-to-last Thursday (Nov. 15) trot-heavy card as the track will be dark on Thanksgiving. However solid efforts and fast times were still seen across the board from the diagonal-gaiters who competed this afternoon. In the $12,000 conditioned event for the 6-year-old and under group, Quicksilver Kemp (James Tomaso) watched from the rear before following cover on the outside from the half to the top of the stretch where he displayed his usual late-closing speed to win by a length in 1:58.1. It was the sixth win of the year for Quicksilver Kemp ($4.80) who has put together a stellar sophomore campaign. The 3-year-old son of Andover Hall has now earned $63,915 for his owner/trainer Joel Wheeler. Then the fastest miles of the day were registered in a pair of mid-level conditioned trots on the strength of surprising performances given under the cold and windy conditions of the day. In the first $8,500 split, Shorething Fashion (Nick Graffam) showed good foot leaving and a lot of heart finishing to out-battle L Dee's Yoyo Ma (Drew Campbell) to wire where he won in a sparkling 1:55.1. Shorething Fashion ($6.00) scored his fifth win of the year for owners Bob McHugh and Mike Eaton, who also does the training. And the second $8,500 contest went to Namesmuscle (Matt Athearn) who sat the perfect trip behind Bruizn (Drew Campbell) before pulling in the stretch to outmuscle that one at the wire and win by a neck in 1:55.3. It was also the fifth win of the year for Namesmuscle ($12.20) and owner William Phipps. Gretchen Athearn is the trainer. Driver Drew Campbell doubled on Thursday to lead all drivers for wins. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (Nov. 19) at 1 p.m. Next week Plainirdge will only race Monday and Tuesday and will be dark for the holiday on Thursday. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Due to the heavy snowfall and poor driving conditions, the Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners Bayonne OTW will have an early closing time of 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15. Normal operations are expected to resume on Friday. From the Meadowlands Media Department  

Due to heavy smoke in the Sacramento Valley from the tragic fire in Paradise, Cal Expo Harness has cancelled both Friday and Saturday live harness racing this weekend. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness      

Monticello, NY--The final leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's fourth trotting series of the season went to post at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (Nov. 15) and to the pleasant surprise of those who purchased win tickets on Tough Get Going were rewarded when Joe Faraldo sent the veteran trotter to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded and then made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:01.1 victory. And each lucky ticket holder received $47.00 for each two-dollar wager. "The crowd didn't have much faith in my horse's ability in here today but I felt fairly confident that he had good chance to win if things broke our way in the race," Faraldo said as he handed the reins to the caretaker upon returning to the paddock. Tough Get Going has had some trouble behind the starting gate on occasions but today wasn't one of those days. When the starter said "go" Faraldo sent his trotter to the lead and was challenged on the outside by Makin Trouble K and driver Joe Lee, Faraldo played hardball and wanted the front-end so he opened up a hole behind him and Lee took back and found room along the pylons as they passed the first stanza in a soft :29.2. With the field lined-up behind Tough Get Going the venerable trotter led them by the halfway point in 1:01.2 where Jennifer Lappe decided to move the 2 to 5 betting favorite, Winning Princess, out to challenge and they ranged up alongside the leader. "When we passed the half my horse was strong and I felt pretty confident that we had a good chance to win it,"Faraldo related. "And when Jennifer couldn't clear I felt even better." Although Tough Get Going and Winning Princess raced side-by-side as they passed the three quarters in 1:31:1 the former got first call. On the final turn Faraldo's charge had opened a length lead and despite a strong drive by Lappe her trotter hung and Tough Get Going emerged a one-length winner in a 2:01.1 clocking. Four lengths in the rears, in third place went to Makin Trouble K. Tough Get Going is owned by Joe Faraldo and Richie Banca and trained by Banca. The 5-yr-old altered son of Kadabra won for the fourth time this year and raised his seasonal bankroll to nearly $39,000. For Faraldo, a former Amateur Driver of the Year(2000), it was his 145th career win in the USA. by John Manzi, for NAADA

CHESTER, PA -- The 12-race harness racing card scheduled for Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon has been cancelled, as snow started falling in the area midmorning and shows no sign of abating.   Racing is scheduled to return to Harrah's tomorrow (Friday), with a 13-race card starting at 12:25 p.m.   From PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The early returns are in, and so far - as the Meadowlands harness racing driver colony is concerned - it's been all Andrew McCarthy, all the time. The 32-year-old native of Australia has 14 wins in just 50 starts through the first five weeks of the 2018-2019 Big M meeting. A pair of not-so-familiar-names - Dexter Dunn and Michael Merton - sit tied in the second spot with nine victories apiece. "The trainers that I drive for," said McCarthy as to why he's done so well to this point. "I've had some nice horses to drive. They make it a heck of a lot easier when you've got the best horse in the race." McCarthy has driven some of the stronger stock at the meeting thus far. He guided Muscle Diamond in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for trotters to a 1:52.2 score on Nov. 2, Escapetothebeach to victory in the $173,800 Kindergarten Classic for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Nov. 3 in 1:51.3 and Caviart Ally to the winner's circle on Nov. 9 in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacing fillies and mares in 1:50.2. "Caviart Ally is really good right now," said McCarthy. "She's at the top of her game heading into the (Nov. 24) TVG final." McCarthy is listed to drive more talented stock during the upcoming race week at the Big M. He will team up once again with Muscle Diamond in Friday night's Preferred Handicap for trotters and will guide New York Sire Stakes champion Reigning Deo in an elimination for the Governor's Cup for 2-year-old colt pacers Saturday. As usual, racing will be conducted on Friday and Saturday with a first race post time of 7:15 p.m. JUMP IN THE POOL: The track's signature wager, the 50-Cent Pick-4, took plenty of green into its pools last weekend (Nov. 9-10). On Friday night, $67,610 was poured into the pot, while Saturday saw $76,382 in action. One Big M wager that continues to pay off well week in and week out is the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10, which returned $4,810 (8 of 10) on Friday and $4,451 (6 of 10) Saturday. Both bets feature low 15 percent take outs. Free track program pages are available at both www.playmeadowlands.com and www.ustrotting.com. FOILED AGAIN COMING TO BIG M: On Saturday, Nov. 24, Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred of all time, will be at the Meadowlands, but instead of racing, he'll be visiting with all of his fans. The veteran superstar will be posing for selfies in the Backyard during the live card. In addition, there will also be a special commemorative Foiled Again poster giveaway to all guests, which is available at the Players Club Desk beginning at 6 p.m. Foiled Again's visit comes on a huge night of racing, as the Big M will host both the Fall Final Four and TVG finals that evening. TWO PAIR A STRONG HAND: Last Saturday, driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke teamed up to win four times on the program while McCarthy made four winner's circle visits over the course of the weekend. From the Meadowlands Media Department

NY Jets WR Quincy Enunwa will host a U.S. Marine Toys For Tots Holiday Toy Drive on Monday, December 3, 2018 at the Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. NY Jets WR Quincy Enunwa will meet & greet guests who bring a new unwrapped toy. FOX5 Sportscaster Tina Cervasio will Emcee and race horse owner Larry Roman will sponsor toys. Toys for Tots and Quincy Enunwa will personally deliver the collected toys to children at Harlem Grown -- a charitable organization in Harlem whose mission is to inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition. For additional information, please visit www.HarlemGrown.org.

Mooney Svendsen guided some serious harness racing horsepower into the winner's circle on opening night at Cal Expo Harness, with Allmyx'sliventexas and Capitol Hill taking bows after impressive performances to kick off the stand. Allmyx'sliventexas has a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on his mantle for owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel and trainer Bob Johnson and dropped into a pretty sweet conditioned spot for his return from Indiana. Sent off at 1-2 from the cozy rail slot, he made two moves to the lead at the quarter and turned out the lights into the lane, eventually coming to the line with four and a quarter- lengths to spare in a 1:52 4/5 performance. "I hadn't driven him since the end of the last meet here, but he's one of my favorites and I was certainly keeping tabs on him at Hoosier," Svendsen said. "I had a big hold of him when we were in the pocket coming to the quarter, then I had to pull him out because I was worried he would choke down if I didn't let him go. "Once I pulled the plugs, it was over. He was really strong and it's great to be driving him again." While Allmyx'sliventexas was a heavy favorite in his contest, Capitol Hill was 16-1 in the Filly and Mar Open for trainer Kathie Plested with Legio X Equestris going off the 1-9 chalk in the contest. Mooney was able to sit in the two hole behind that favorite, was out for the stretch and easily motored by for the upset. "I was surprised I was able to circle (Luke) Plano's mare away from there and then we just settled in behind her," Svendsen related. "To be honest, I could feel I had a lot of horse and was 95 percent sure she was the winner pretty early on. They really had her ready." Misspanderosajones heads distaff main event Pacing fillies and mares will be in the spotlight at Cal Expo Friday evening with Misspanderosajones heading the $4,800 conditioned feature and a solid field doing battle in the Annette Funicello Prep. Misspanderosa will leave from the outside slot in the headliner while carrying the banner of Tip That Bucket Stable. The 8-year-old mare is trained by Rocco Giambrocono with Dean Magee in the sulky. The bay miss made her Cal Expo debut on last weekend's opening night card and had her work cut out in the Filly and Mare Open, checking in fourth behind Capitol Hill and heavily-favored Legio X Equestris in that 1:55 2/5 mile. She should be very much at home in Friday's line-up, which will see her taking on Awesum World for trainer Robin Clements; the Junior Wilkinson-conditioned Directing Traffic; Perfect Pitch from the Bob Johnson barn and the Jessie Pacheco-trained Along Came Jane. Perfect Pitch was a runner-up on the opening program of the meet after doing her work in first-over fashion. Mooney Svendsen will once again guide the daughter of Hi Ho Silverheel's and she sports a 1:513/5 mark that was established three years ago. A contentious cast of eight distaffers will face starter Ken Fowler in the co-featured Funicello Prep, with the final being decided next week. The Annette Funicello is named for the famous actress/singer who was married to horseman Glen Holt for 27 years until her death in 2013 and was a major fan and proponent of harness racing. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

East Rutherford, NJ - The upcoming weekend of racing, featuring eliminations for the $1.8 million Freshman Fall Final Four and an overnight peek at a few of the sport's veteran stars looking forward to the $1 million Grand Circuit TVG Championships will serve as a hearty appetizer to nearly $3 million worth of finals on Saturday, November 24. Friday's headliners are a pair of $20,000 Open Handicap events both of which contain TVG eligible looking for a tightner before the final. The Open Mare Pace is led by Pure Country (Y. Gingras). The TVG Final will be the swan song for the great mare whose retirement following the TVG has already been announced. The triple Dan Patch award winner will race sans hopples for the first time on Friday as she closes in on $2.5 million in career earnings for owner/breeder Diamond Creek Racing and trainer Jimmy Takter. The Open Trot boasts the point leader in both the TVG Open and Mare division squaring off for $20,000. After a sparkling beginning to his season that placed him atop the TVG leaderboard, Will Take Charge (Tim Tetrick) has not had his finest form for the past few months and looks to reclaim that position in these late stages for owner Mac Nichol. Ice Attraction's campaign took an opposite course with early season struggles giving way to a successful fall including a World Record equaling performance at The Red Mile and a remarkable trip to gather the place in the Breeders Crown final. Andy Miller drives on Friday for owner/trainer Ake Svanstedt and partners Sipple, Burroughs and Little E, LLC. Saturday night brings a few elimination races for the Grand Circuit season's curtain call for the freshmen. Fifteen trotting colts entered the Valley Victory and after a pair of elimination races the top ten of those will pass through to next week's $435,900 final. It's an even group with the seasonal late bloomers making a last grab for the gold ring before winter training. The Governor's Cup drew 13 colt pacers and after three colts accepted a bye into the $469,300 final ten are left to battle over the seven remaining berths. Breeders Crown winner Captain Crunch (S. Zeron) brings the strongest resume to this one for trainer Nancy Johansson and the partnership of 3 Brothers Stable, Christina Takter, Rojan Stable and Caviart Farms. Both the $490,000 Goldsmith Maid and $391,250 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old trotting and pacing fillies respectively did not require elimination races and those two groups head directly into next week's finals. For good measure, the Saturday card also includes TVG Open Pace point leader and likely final favorite McWicked facing four others in an overnight Open Handicap. Post time for both nights is 7:15 pm. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 15, 2018 -- In horse racing, Dr. Howard Weir, Jr. is a rare bird. He's a Thoroughbred veterinarian who owns, trains, breeds and campaigns Standardbreds. Innocent Victim, the only horse currently racing for Weir, goes Saturday at The Meadows in race 12, post 8, for Dave Palone. First post is 1:05 PM. A native of Butler, PA, Weir was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1975. After locating in Canfield, OH, where he still resides, Weir focused his practice on horses. He makes farm calls, and he's an assistant state veterinarian at Mountaineer Park, a Thoroughbred venue in West Virginia about 45 miles south of Weir's home. "My main duty at Mountaineer," he says, "is to examine all horses scheduled to race that evening to make sure they're sound. I scratch any of them I don't think should race." Despite the satisfaction he gets helping Thoroughbreds, when it comes to ownership, Weir prefers the more hands-on experience the Standardbred game allows. "When you own Standardbreds, you can do many things yourself," he says. "I can jog them four miles myself, train them three tips myself, plus the Canfield Fairgrounds are right here. I'm not at the mercy of exercise riders or jockeys and their schedules. I may go three or four months without a racehorse, then I'll claim one." In addition to Innocent Victim, Weir owns two broodmares and a pair of weanlings that he'll train down at the fairgrounds. It's a wonder Weir is involved with horses of any breed after a horrific 2003 incident that occurred when he was gelding a horse at Mountaineer Park for the late Dale Baird, the all-time "winningest" Thoroughbred trainer with 9,445 victories. The patient took exception to the procedure and kicked Weir in the leg. "I don't think the horse saw what I was doing, and I don't think the knife hurt him," Weir recalls. "I believe he was reacting to the noise of the emasculator." Intentional or not, the blow sheared off part of Weir's left knee -- tibial crest fracture was the official diagnosis -- and left him with a limp that persists to this day. The horse's situation wasn't much better, as the surgery was only half complete. Immobilized by his injury, Weir persuaded the reluctant Baird to complete the surgery lest the horse bleed out. "I told Dale that the horse didn't mean to kick me. He said, 'Naw, that horse was looking right at you. He wanted to kick you.' Eventually, Dale finished the procedure." But the story wasn't done. The horse went on to become a successful performer in allowance company at Mountaineer Park until he broke down on the track several years later. "They paged me, figuring I would want to put him down because he had hurt me. I didn't feel that way. He was a good horse who didn't mean to kick me." Once he determined that the animal was suffering and his condition hopeless, Weir euthanized him, ending a tale of strange, dark intimacy between horse and veterinarian. It's a story Weir remembers with each labored step. "That leg is crooked and shorter than the other, and there's a lot of hardware -- screws and plates -- in there. The University of Pittsburgh says it will build me a new knee if the pain becomes too much, but I'm still trying to limp along." by Evan Paddok, for The Meadows

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