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YONKERS, NY, Sunday, July 15, 2018-Such an Angel (Brian Sears, $14.60) did it quite well Sunday afternoon (July 15th), winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $54,800 Open Handicap Trot. The weekly trotting feature went as the late-morning opener, the first of four, mile-and-a-quarter, bigger-field 'French' forays. Away third from post position No. 5, Such an Angel saw lass Weslynn Dancer (Jason Bartlett) serve as the 28-second opening act before yielding to a wide-early In Secret (George Brennan). The one's lead in the polls continued through a :57.2 half before Such an Angel moved with purpose. The challenger took over right by the 1:27 three-quarters, then opened up some overcast daylight. While this was transpiring, an out-every-step Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron), as the 1-2 favorite, continued to advance from his eight-hole impost. However, he found himself with too much work to do as Such an Angel-after a 1:55 milepost- widened to 3¼ lengths in and out of the final turn. The leader finished it off in a good-track 2:24.2...matching the distance record for a 4-year-old gelding (Hemi Seelster). Marion Marauder trimmed the final margin by a length-and-a-quarter while easily second. In Secret, Mostinterestingman (Steve Smith) and Charmed Life (Mark MacDonald) grabbed the minors. For third choice Such an Angel, a previously-mentioned 4-year-old (statebred Credit Winner) gelding owned by Sam Caruso Jr. and trained by Hunter Oakes, it was his sixth win in 15 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $32.80, the triple returned $113.50 and the superfecta paid $714. Sunday's final seasonal Belmont rendition of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 1-Hay Field (Belmont's 3rd race) and 2-Beach Memories (Yonkers' 10th race) returned $20.20 (hindsight?) for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $5,673. The next Sunday matinee is July 22nd (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

CHESTER, PA - More The Better N, having to come from eighth at the half in a third-over flow, was just along to win his U.S. debut, a $30,000 Great Northeast Series open pace, in 1:49.1 on Sunday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. Corey Callahan took back with his horse at the start as early command was taken by Caviart Luca, who in turn yielded to Western Joe before the 26.1 quarter. The outer tier formed as Western Joe went to the half in 54.3, with favored Split The House, Sunfire Blue Chip, and More The Better N the first three in the two-wide flow. Split The House had moved into second and a challenging position by the ¾ in 1:21.3, with the two in behind him keeping in close attendance. Turning for home Sunfire Blue Chip fanned three-wide, and through the stretch it looked as if Split The House and "Sunfire" would be the major contestants, but Callahan had More The Better N flying four-wide inside the final 1/16, getting by Sunfire Blue Chip by a head. Split The House missed taking the big end of the purse by only a neck, and Western Joe was only ¾ of a length off while fourth in the exciting drive to the wire. More The Bettor N came from New Zealand with a 32-14-12-2 record and $430,168 in earnings, and did not take long to show he can go with a very high level of pacer on these shores. Ross Croghan is handling his conditioning for the Robert Cooper Stable LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC. The crowd's lack of familiarity with the abilities of the winner, which allowed him to be the day's big payoff at $16.60, will surely be reduced after his impressive local bow. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

When Lazarus stepped foot upon American soil at the start of June this year it officially began the next leg of the great pacer’s remarkable journey. It was also the beginning of a growing hype from the North American and international harness racing media. Since arriving at Jimmy Takter’s East Windsor Farm in New Jersey, the enquiries have been constant. The reputation and expectation that preceded his arrival would put pressure on any trainer. But his new trainer seems extremely calm about it all. With 45 starts, 35 wins, 9 placings (he was only once out of the top three) and $3.8 million (NZ)  in earnings, Lazarus has already won two editions of his home country’s most prestigious race, the New Zealand Cup, and a staggering 15 Group One races in Australasia. But his ultimate challenge still lies ahead of him. Lazarus has been purchased by Taylor Made Stallions, who up until last year have been thoroughbred stallion owners, and are based in Kentucky. One of four brothers who own Taylor Made Stallions, Duncan Taylor grew up in the Standardbred game and decided that branching back out into the harness racing world would be a sentimental move and also a lucrative opportunity for their company. His new trainer, US Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Takter, is a Swedish native that has tasted success at the very highest level in Europe and North America. Takter trained Elitlopp winner Moni Maker and also the world’s fastest pacer, Always B Miki, and he now has his sights set on translating Lazarus into an international star. “My main goal with Lazarus is the Breeders Crown in October,” says Takter. “He has been working very well here, last week he paced a mile at home in 1.56 and did it very handily.” “I intend to go a bit quicker with him this week but I am very pleased with him. You can tell he’s a legend.” The horse has recovered from his trip and has adapted well coming from winter to spring reported Takter. “He’s been tremendous so far. There is a lot of stress that is put on a horse coming to this hemisphere. Different food, different environment, but my farm is very quiet and relaxing.” “He arrived looking great but with a little winter coat. His body was a bit confused so it took a little bit for him to adapt.  In the last two weeks I would say he has really blossomed and he is starting to look really good now.” For Takter the weight of expectation from the international racing community is nothing new, and he thrives on the challenge. “It’s not intimidating for me. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I took on Moni Maker years ago and that was the best decision I ever made,” laughed Takter. “I like the idea of taking on great horses. That’s what we work for right?” “A lot of people are asking about the horse at the moment, hopefully we are able to live up to the expectation.” Since joining the team Lazarus has made a unique impression on Takter. Who fondly refers to the horse’s characteristics during his work. “He’s got personality, he’s very cool. We train him on the straight track with a team of eight horses and he is very vocal,” he said. “He screams the whole way. He’s a funny horse.” The biggest challenge in adapting to the racing style in North America Takter feels is gate speed. “I know his racing style at home is varied and over different distances, but up here you have to have gate speed. That will be the biggest thing he will need to have to make it here but it feels like he has it. I don’t think it will be a problem.” Takter knows you can’t compare Champions from different hemispheres against each other. “I have been asked if Lazarus compares to Miki (Always B Miki) and I don’t think you can really put them up against each other. They are such unique horses.” “And that is not to put Lazarus down of course. It’s just hard to compare at this stage.” “Lazarus is more laid back and more humble. And Miki was more stallion-like. But I was so proud to be associated with that horse and the world record.” The next task will be to find a suitable catch driver for the Down Under wonder. “We don’t know who will drive him yet,” admitted Takter. “Yannick Gingras does a lot of driving for me and I think the horse would fit Yannick’s style.” “I’m not one hundred percent sure but the owners are great people and basically leave it up to me to make the best decision for the horse which I appreciate.” So what would Takter deem as a success in North America for Lazarus? “Pocono Downs is not a track where you can go under 1.46. But if he does win the Breeders Crown this horse will go down as one of the greatest of all time, not only in the Southern Hemisphere but in the Northern Hemisphere as well.” But to even get to the Crown the horse will need to trial and show he’s ready for it. Lazarus will attempt to qualify at the Meadowlands in four weeks’ time, coinciding with the close of the Meadowland racing season and their Hambletonian Day meet. “I hope we can accomplish success at the highest level,” said Takter. “I am very happy to have this horse.” “We all know how difficult it is for horses to travel and keep at their peak form.”   by Jess Smith, for Harness Racing New Zealand

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Plunge Blue Chip, driven by Ake Svanstedt, nipped 1-2 favorite Manchego in a world-record performance to win the second of two $128,500 divisions of the Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old harness racing trotting fillies at the Meadowlands Saturday night, and in the process, became the fastest 3-year-old trotter in history, regardless of sex. The 2-1 second choice, who hadn't raced in three weeks and was only making her second start in a month and a half, went after leader Manchego at the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.1 and after a stirring stretch duel, gunned down Manchego and driver Yannick Gingras by a nose in 1:49.4, equaling the fastest trotting mile in Meadowlands history. On July 11 of 2015, JL Cruze became the first sub-1:50 performer in Big M history, when he went 1:49.4 in the Graduate final. "It's unbelievable, but this is a very good horse. (1):49.4 was a surprise, but she is a good horse. She has not raced on the big tracks so much, that is why she has not raced so fast. In two weeks, she has the Hambletonian (Oaks)," said Svanstedt. Plunge Blue Chip, a daughter of Muscle Mass, paid $6.20 to her backers. Live Laugh Love finished third. In the first division, Phaetosive, driven and trained by Trond Smedshammer, grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and never looked back, trotting clear at the wire by 2¾ lengths. The daughter of Explosive Matter, who last week scored in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Harrah's Philadelphia, took the lead at the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.4 and romped home in 1:51.3. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Phaetosive paid $3.60, 2.80 and $2.20. "She was very good last year as a 2-year-old and has gotten a bit bigger and stronger this year," said Smedshammer, who won the Del Miller for the first time. "She will be off next week, then it's the Hambletonian Oaks elimination and, hopefully, the Oaks final." Longshot Perfect Summer K, who went off at odds of 137-1, finished second ($59.40, $18.20) and Hey Blondie rounded out the top three, paying $3.60 to show. by Lou Monaco, for Hambletonian Society    

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - David Miller flashed a wide smile as he guided Courtly Choice to the winner's circle after winning the $701,830 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. The monkey was off the Hall of Famer's back. After 19 failed efforts, Miller finally owned a harness racing victory in the Meadowlands Racetrack's signature event for 3-year-olds. Courtly Choice rallied to win the Pace by 1¼ lengths on Saturday night. "That was sweet," Miller said. "Really sweet." The Pace was an obvious omission on Miller's glittering resume. "The Buckeye" is second on the sport's all-time money list with $222 million in the bank. His best previous Pace finish was a second with Always B Miki in 2014. The sweetness of the moment spread in many directions, including trainer Blake MacIntosh, who also savored the victory in his Pace debut. "I believed in this horse," said McIntosh, the former assistant to Casie Coleman. "He just had some back luck earlier in the year." And it was a winning gamble for the ownership group that ponied up $61,690 to enter last week's eliminations. The faith of Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe and Touch Stone Farms was rewarded with the $350,915 first-prize check. Most importantly, it was moment of redemption for Courtly Choice, who failed to make the finals in the North America Cup and the Hempt. The colt served notice his moment was at hand with a sharp first-up victory in last week's Pace elimination. And then he finally put it all together for the richest victory of his career. The race seemed primed for a 57-1 upset when a dead-game Dorsoduro Hanover, handled by Matt Kakaley, battled his way to the front at the top of the lane. But Courtly Choice was tracking his every move and angled wide under Miller's urging to score the victory. "The trip worked out good," Miller said. "The couple of horses I thought would leave from the outside left. I was able to get Matt in front of me and nobody else moved. On the last turn, I was real happy with my spot." The time was 1:47 1/5 on the warm evening. Courtly Choice paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.80 as the 6-5 favorite. Dorsoduro Hanover returned $28.20 and $8.80. Stay Hungry paid $3.20 to show as the best finisher among trainer Tony Alagna's trio in the race. Jimmy Freight, the other supplement, was fourth followed by Thinkbig Dreambig, Nutcracker Sweet, This Is The Plan, Babes Dig Me, Hayden Hanover and American History. by Mike Farrell, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - McWicked continued to turn back the clock, holding off Filibuster Hanover by a half-length to win Saturday's $471,100 William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers in 2:02.2 at the distance of 1 1/8 miles at the Meadowlands. Rockin Ron finished third. McWicked, a 7-year-old stallion, was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3 in 2014. He has won five of seven races this year, including the Ben Franklin Pace on June 30, and earned $543,911 for owner Ed James' SSG Stables. Rockin Ron led the field to the opening quarter, in :25.4, before yielding the top spot to Sintra, who took the group to the half in :55, and three-quarters in 1:22.4. McWicked and driver Brian Sears were sixth through the early portion of the race, but followed the cover of Check Six to work their way to second at the top of the stretch. McWicked took the lead in the lane, but still had work to do to fend off the charge of Filibuster Hanover to his inside. "I was trying to get him someplace in the hunt early and get in some type of flow," Sears said. "The horse has been super sharp his last few starts. I was just hoping to get some kind of trip and it worked out great. "(Filibuster Hanover) was digging pretty good on the inside, but my horse kicked it in right to the wire and was very sharp. He's just a sweet horse, so easy to drive, and gives you everything he's got." McWicked, the 4-5 favorite, paid $3.60 to win. As a 3-year-old, McWicked won 12 of 23 races and earned $1.47 million. He was winless in a combined 14 races at ages 4 and 5 because of breathing issues and multiple throat surgeries, but bounced back last year with seven victories in 27 races and $560,025. For his career, McWicked has won 27 of 81 starts and $2.86 million. "This horse, every single time he races, is absolutely unbelievable," McWicked's trainer Casie Coleman said. "He gives everything he's got every time he's on the track. He's just a pleasure of a horse." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 14, 2018-They're 2-year-olds. Things happen. Such was the case in Saturday night's (July 14th) $100,000 Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace, Yonkers Raceway's premier event for 'open' frosh colts and geldings honoring the Hall of Fame founder of Hanover Shoe Farms. When the stone dust settled, Hickfromfrenchlick (Mark MacDonald, $5.30) emerged an open-length winner in a six-horse race that was not for the squeamish. At the outset, the eventual winner-from post position No. 2-was off the gate. His next-door neighbor to the outside, Just Plain Loco (Jim Marohn Jr.), tried to leave but threw in steps. He eventually righted the ship, but was wide into the first turn. Meanwhile, 4-5 choice World on Edge (George Brennan) led into the first turn, only to jump it off That left first starter and 58-1 rank outsider Can We Dance (Greg Merton) as sort of a default leader from his outside post. The bombardier put up intervals of :28 and :57, the latter as pole-sitting Hurrikane Kingklee (Dan Dube) tried to pull pocket, only to reconsider. Nearing the 1:26.1 three-quarters, the field truncated...even World on Edge, who then misbehaved again. Hurrikane Kingklee finally did dispose of the longshot leader, while Hickfromfrenchlick was right behind. The 'Hick' inhaled the tiring front-enders in the final turn, opening to two lengths into the lane. Hickfromfrenchlick then rolled home in his parimutuel debut, the final margin 3¼ lengths in 1:55.4. Just Plain Loco, who angled widest into the final turn, survived his race race-and-a-half to finish second, with another first-starter Treasure Tom (Jason Bartlett) third. Hurrikane Kingklee and Can We Dance settled for the minors, while World on Edge needs to think about what he did. For second choice Hickfromfrenchlick, a $47,000 (Goshen NY) plebe son of Larry Bird, er, So Surreal, co-owned by (trainer) Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico, he's won both of his purse tries (Landmark at Goshen). The exacta paid $20, the triple paid $155 and the superfecta paid $367. "He shied from the car at the start," MacDonald said. "I was fortunate with the breakers to get away where I did and just sort of sit there. "When Danny (Dube, Hurrikane Kingklee) pulled, I was right behind him and he just sort of paced away. Ray (Schnittker) told me not to screw it up. A strange race. Glad we won." Saturday's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by odds-on Always at My Place (Brennan, $3.10) in a season's-best 1:50.3. Sunday's (July 15th) matinee goes at 11:28 AM, with the first four 'French' trots going as both overflow-field and added-distance (mile-and-a-quarter) by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Six Pack and Wolfgang won Saturday's $181,000 divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters at the Meadowlands, stamping themselves as top contenders for the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Aug. 4. Six Pack, the No. 2-ranked horse in Meadowlands' announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian, won his division in a world-record 1:50. The time eclipsed the previous mark for a 3-year-old of 1:50.1, which was shared by Donato Hanover and Muscle Hill. Six Pack, driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt, won by 2¼ lengths over You Know You Do. Alarm Detector was third. Alarm Detector set the early fractions, leading to an opening quarter in :26.2 and half in :54.4. Six Pack and Svanstedt were third, but went on the attack and were alongside Alarm Detector as they came around the final turn. Six Pack pulled away in the stretch on his way to his fifth win in six starts this year. "He's a tough horse," said Svanstedt, who won last year's Hambletonian with Perfect Spirit. "I had a lot of power when we came into the stretch. I hope he can be sound and healthy (for the Hambletonian). I'm looking forward to that." Six Pack, a son of Muscle Mass-Pleasing Lady, has won nine of 14 career races and earned $557,840. He is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF and Lars Berg. Sent off at odds of 3-5, Six Pack paid $3.40 to win. Wolfgang, the No. 1 horse in the Road to the Hambletonian rankings, won his Dancer division by 2-3/4 lengths over Classichap in a career-best 1:51.2. Zephyr Kronos finished third. Driven by Yannick Gingras, the Jimmy Takter-trained Wolfgang sat behind an early battle for the lead between Evaluate and Hat Trick Habit before moving to the front on the backstretch. He was unthreatened the rest of the way. Wolfgang, a son of My MVP-Summer Savory, has won all three of his starts this season and earned $200,415. For his career, he has won six of 13 races and $516,690. Wolfgang is owned by Brixton Medical Inc., Goran Falk, Hatfield Stables and Fair Island Farm Inc. The 4-5 favorite, Wolfgang paid $3.60 to win. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Ariana G, the 1-5 favorite driven by Yannick Gingras, led wire-to-wire before drawing clear late to a 2¾-length victory in the 27th edition of the $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity for harness racing 4-year-old trotters Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Ariana G completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 2:05 and cruised to her third win in five starts this season, posting her 24th victory in 31 career starts. Coming off a world-record 1:50 2/5 score in the Graduate Series final just a week ago, Ariana G also joins 2016 winner and Gingras-driven Hannelore Hanover (who won earlier on the Saturday card in the Miss Versatility), 1964 winner Elma and 1963 winner Spry Rodney as mare winners of the Maturity and also hits the record books as the first mare to complete the Hambletonian Oaks-Maturity double. As the prohibitive favorite, Ariana G returned $2.60 to win. "I was so happy with her performance. I was a little nervous with her nine post. She cut it close a bit down the stretch, but she is just an amazing horse," said trainer Jimmy Takter, who took home his first Maturity win. "We should not compare great horse with others. She has been so good. She is just a perfect horse." Takter said Ariana G will next race on Hambletonian Day (Aug. 4) in the John Cashman Memorial. Bill's Man, driven by Corey Callahan, was second, with Top Flight Angel and Andy Miller grabbing the show dough.   by Lou Monaco, for the Hambletonian Society

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Divas Image, sent off at odds of 31-1, charged through the stretch from near the rear of the pack to win Saturday's $189,750 Golden Girls for older female pacers by one length over 99-1 shot Inverse Hanover in 2:03.1 for the distance of 1 1/8 miles at the Meadowlands. Pure Country finished third. Shartin N took the lead soon after the start and set fractions of :25.2 for the quarter, :53.1 for the half, 1:21.3 for three-quarters and 1:49 at the mile. Divas Image and driver Joe Bongiorno were 10th at the top of the stretch, more than eight lengths behind 1-5 favorite Shartin N, before rallying on the far outside. She won for the seventh time in 16 starts this year. "The fractions were very fast," Bongiorno said. "Fourth over, being out the whole mile, I was a little concerned because she's a small mare, but she's just as tough as they come. When I flipped her out, she absolutely came out of her harness. She was pacing very strong." Divas Image, a 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight-Rocknroll Diva, is trained by Jennifer Bongiorno and owned by Joe Bongiorno LLC, Howard Taylor, Thomas Lazzaro and J&T Silva Stables. She has won 18 of 58 career races and earned $498,917. Divas Image paid $65.60 to win. By Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Starznheaven was the Two Year Old Pacer of the Year at Saratoga back in 2014 when the freshman had a strong first season. Fast forward to 2018 and the-now six year old is a formidable Open pacer. After moving to the Jim Nickerson stable last month, Starznheaven (Rock N Roll Heaven) has simply become a monster. With wins against top flight competition at Plainridge, Tioga and Scarborough in recent weeks, Starznheaven was riding a five race win streak when he started from post four in Saturday's $14,500 Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel. With fractions of 26.4 and 55.2 being set in the first half, Starznheaven moved first over approaching the half and powered past the leader heading to three quarters. Jimmy Devaux stayed after the rejuvenated pacer who dug-in in the stretch even when confronted by major danger Somewhere Fancy (Billy Dobson). Starznheaven toughed it out to prevail in 1:51.1 to record his sixth consecutive victory. Somewhere Fancy was the runner-up while Somewhere In L A (Mark Beckwith) came from last to finish third. Starznheaven pulled off the upset while dismissed at odds of 8-1. Paying $19.60 to win, Starznheaven started an exacta and triple that returned $58 and $223.50, respectively. The Open score was one of five winners on the night for reinsman Jimmy Devaux. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee starting at 12:15pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Driver Jimmy Whittemore wins seven races at Vernon Downs on Saturday (July 14), including the featured pace ($6,000). In the feature, Fire Within (George Harrison) led to a first quarter in :27.1. Fuzzylegsandall (Leon Bailey) would take control just before hitting the half in :57.2. Pantheon Hanover (Roman Lopez) then took them to the three-quarter mark in 1:25.2. Skip Jive ($7.10) went three wide at the top of the stretch and blew by to win in 1:53.3. Nubble Light (Claude Huckabone III) moved up to take second. Fuzzylegsandall hung on for third. Skip Jive is 5-year-old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven. It was his fourth win this season and number 15 in his career. Whittemore's other wins came with Mister Marvelous ($2.90), Yankee DeVie ($16.60), Western Toro ($5.30), Coopers Beach ($14.40), Princess Gazella ($4.40), and Silver Arrow ($4.30). Paisley wins Wiener Dog Trot with a huge crowd on hand. Paisley who was owned by Gina Greco, easily won the race, winning a $500.00 wagering voucher. Finishing second and getting a $200 wagering voucher was Alvin. He is owned by Stephanie Jerominek. Bosefus, who is owned by Amy Findlay, won a $100.00 wagering voucher for finishing third. Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Thursday (July 19) with a nine race card featuring New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for sophomore trotting fillies featuring track record holder for all trotters, Atlanta . Post time is 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs    

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The first four of five divisions of the first leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono were conducted in lovely weather, with a slight stretch headbreeze, but there was a 180-degree shift in the direction and intensity of the wind, and the addition of rain from the heavens, when the "featured division" of the Sires, containing three of the five winners in recent PA All-Stars action here, went postward. And the adverse weather seemed to have absolutely no effect on the prohibitive favorite De Los Cielos Deo ("from the heavens of God"), a Captaintreacherous - Lisjune colt who won by 3¾ lengths in 1:52.4. The unfolding of the race was interesting. Four of the seven contestants left quickly into a headwind, with the Ron Burke trainee De Los Cielos Deo pacing three-wide to the 1/8 under the guidance of Dave Palone, then moving to the top just past the 27.3 quarter. He was quickly confronted by his stablemate No Mas Amor, who seemed fated to racing first-over if he didn't make something happen, and driver Anthony Napolitano did, going around his stablemate before a 54.3 half - coming his own second panel in the vicinity of 26.3 with the tailwind. No Mas Amor backed things off into the now-headwind to reach the ¾ in 1:24, but De Los Cielos Deo was right on his back then out on the far turn, and despite bearing out slightly at headstretch, the winner finished powerfully in drawing off. Ehrmantraut stayed close most of the way and was second, 2¼ lengths clear of Duddie's Lot, who photoed No Mas Amor for third. But they were all way behind De Los Cielos Deo, undefeated in two purse starts and four trips gateward, who has as good a right as anyone to consider himself numero uno among the babies right now for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Lawrence Karr, J&T Silva - Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Trainer Brian Brown started a consecutive stakes double with the Sombeachsomewhere - Allamerican Cognac colt Air Force Hanover, recording a personal best of 1:52, a season's record for all freshmen on 5/8-mile ovals. Air Force Hanover, an even-money favorite to main foe Captain Malicious at 7-5, actually outleft his lefthand rival, but Captain Malicious came blasting through from the inner spot, forcing tucks in a monstrous opening quarter of 25.3, with the winner into the two-hole, where he stayed during moderated middle splits of 54.3 and 1:23.1. Driver Simon Allard tipped Air Force Hanover out at headstretch, and while the pacesetter held gamely, the pocket rocket had enough firepower to get a head up on the money. He is owned by Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and William Donovan. Proof remained undefeated - in two purse races and four lines overall - with a well-earned victory in 1:52.2, a new mark and a season's record for about 18 minutes until his Team Brown stablemate broke it. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. had to go the overland route from midpack with the son of A Rocknroll Dance - Ginger And Fred at the 5/8, but the pair made the lead in the lane and dug in to withstand Bring The Thunder, who followed tightly on his back, by a half-length. Diamond Creek Racing owns the successful favorite. After opening his career with three straight "2"s on his charted lines, Captain Victorious was finally able to make the breakthrough in his Sire Stakes division with a 1:53 victory. Marcus Miller hustled the son of Captaintreacherous - Belclaire right to the top despite the outside post seven, then yielded to favored Blood Money at the 26.4 quarter. Captain Victorious sat behind a long battle between the leader and first-over Semi Tough in a 56.2 back half, went to the Pocono Pike, and rallied for a length victory over the tough Semi Tough, who photoed the previously-unbeaten Blood Money for second. Julie Miller conditions the victorious freshman for the Andy Miller Stable Inc., Jean Goehlen, and Caroll Huffman. Two longshot colts were separated by a nose at the end of their division, and their names are as related as their proximity at the finish, as Pyro edged Aflame Hanover to take a mark of 1:54. Pyro was still sixth and inside early in the stretch, but as the front horses softened a bit, Pat Berry was able to circle his live horse out to four-wide and just caught Aflame Hanover in the shadow of the wire; favored Lyons Night Hawk, after a troubled trip, was another ¾ of a length back in third. Pyro is a Sweet Lou colt out of Whetstone Hanover who started a Sires double for trainer Ron Burke, and he is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Lawrence Karr, Phillip Collura, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

After an impressive victory in his elimination last week, Swandre The Giant continued his winning ways in the featured event of the evening, the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, July 14. With Brandon Bates in the bike, Swandre The Giant was able to overcome outside post nine to stop the timer in 1:55.3 and establish a new lifetime best in the process. Bates sent Swandre The Giant away from the gate firing but he would have to work for position as Lite Years Away and Lewayne Miller protected their rail position to get the first call through the opening panel in :27.2. Smooth Aceleration and John DeLong were well placed in the pocket with Swandre The Giant finding a spot in third. Approaching the second station in :58.1, Lite Years Away made a costly break and Smooth Aceleration inherited the lead. His lead would be short lived as Bates gave Swandre The Giant the green light and he quickly grabbed command just before the three-quarters in 1:28.1. As the field turned for home, Swandre The Giant began to put his talent on display as he trotted away from his competitors. Using a :27.2 final panel, Swandre The Giant coasted on to the wire under a hand drive to finish five lengths in front of It's A Herbie and Verlin Yoder. Smooth Aceleration and John DeLong rounded out the trifecta. As the heavy betting favorite, Swandre The Giant returned $3.00 at the betting windows. Trained and driven by Brandon Bates, the son of Swan For All-Adagio remains undefeated in three starts. Owned by Panic Stb, T. Ehardt, B. Hochman, R. Barone, Swandre The Giant has now amassed in $52,500 in lifetime purse earnings. Live racing will return to Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Tuesday, July 17 with a 12-race card. With a daily post time of 6:30 p.m., live racing will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 10. For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule, please visit www.hoosierpark.com. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Kissin In The Sand powered to a 3-length harness racing victory over archrival Youaremycandygirl in the $191,800 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday night at the Meadowlands. The top two tangled last month in the Lynch final at Pocono Downs with Kissin In The Sand relentlessly tracking down the pacesetting Youaremycandygirl to prevail by a neck in an epic effort. The finish wasn't nearly as dramatic in the Shalee. Taking advantage of the elongated start in the 1 1/8-mile contest, Scott Zeron hustled Kissin In The Sand to the front entering the first turn. Youaremycandygirl and Yannick Gingras took the available seat in second. "I chose to put her on the front in a distance race," Zeron said. "She just felt stronger tonight. Maybe it helped her last time. She got aggressive today, and I put her up there." And so they finished in that order. Youaremycandygirl, last season's Dan Patch winner, tipped out for the stretch drive but the anticipated battle never materialized. Kissin In The Sand was full of pace right to the wire, finishing under wraps as the 3-5 favorite. "Coming around the last turn, I knew how loaded she was," Zeron said. "When I asked her for racetrack, she took it. "She feels like she's getting better." And that spells bad news for the rest of the division. It was the third straight win for Kissin In The Sand, improving her season mark to 4-2-0 in six starts. Overall, she is 11-for-20 for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables and trainer Nancy Johansson. The time was 2:04 1/5 over the fast track on a pleasantly warm night. Kissin In The Sand paid $3.40 to win. Alexa's Power was third. by Mike Farrell, for the Meadowlands

A trio of $40,000 Ohio Sires Stakes divisions were contested Saturday night, July 14 at Scioto Downs in the third round of action in the four-leg series for Ohio-bred 3-year-old pacing fillies. Prsntpretynperfect certainly was present, pretty and perfect as she rocked to a 1:51.4 clocking in the first OSS division for driver Chris Page and trainer Brian Brown as the 1-9 favorite. The Big Bad John lass chased the leading Ask Me Ifi Care (Mike Micallef) to the top of the stretch before unleashing a wicked final brush that saw her prevail by 2¼ lengths over 14-1 Bad Girls Rule (Kayne Kauffman). Ask Me Ifi Care, who left the gate at 5-1, held on for third. Bred by Carl Howard, Prsntpretynperfect is owned by Jenny Brown of Ostrander, OH; Richard Lombardo of Solon, OH; and Marlene Taylor of Philadelphia, PA. The big rangy filly had finished sixth in leg one of this series at Miami Valley on May 4 after making an uncharacteristic break and then took leg two handily, posting a 1:52.4 clocking with Jordan Stratton in the sulky on June 2 at Northfield Park. Equipped with spreaders, knee and tendon boots, Prsntpretynperfect is an impressive distaff both on and off the track, and her record reflects that, as to date she's earned $176,326 for her connections with eight wins and a third in 12 starts. Her seasonal earnings now stand at $51,160. Prsntpretynperfect is the third foal out of the Towner's Big Guy mare Wildfire Princess p, 4,1 :52.2z ($30,9249), making her a full sister to Prince Giovanni p,5, 1:51.4s ($95,724) and to Banderbear p,4,1:53f ($56,040). The second OSS division of the evening was another Brown-trainee--the diminutive but mighty Smiley Dragon, a daughter of Dragon Again, who won easily in 1:52.3 by nearly three lengths with Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. at the lines. The 6-5 favorite was bred and is owned by Bruce Trogdon's Emerald Highlands Farm of Mount Vernon, OH. After a speed duel between Believe In Waco (Kayne Kauffman) and Lily Grace (Joey Putnam) took the field of seven to a :26.2 first quarter clocking, it set the stage for Smiley Dragon to zip to the front at the head of the lane and easily take the victory as the 6-5 favorite. Lady Gallipolis, a 16-1 longshot, was second for Chris Page, while 7-1 Thunder Again (Cameron McCown) nailed down third-place honors. Unraced at two, Smiley Dragon has amassed $46,780 in her brief career with two wins, one second and one third in five starts. The little black mare races determinedly, with a low head and gritty gait that belies her stature, although she has confirmation characteristics of her sire. She was third in leg on at Miami Valley on May 4 and then won leg two at Northfield Park on June 2 in 1:52.4 with Wrenn, Jr., in the sulky. "This filly is a throwback to her granddam," Trogdon explained. "Her granddam, Blissful Smile, went with her head down low like this filly does and she usually won her races coming from behind, and was just a tough little mare. By contrast, Smiley Dragon's dam (Smiley Rocks) is a big mare." Smiley Dragon is the second foal out of Smiley Rocks, a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and is a full sister to the 2-year-old colt Black Smith p, 2, Q1:58.4h ($10,000) and a half-sister to Prime Time Baby (by Well Said) p,3, 2:00.1h ($1,359). Smiley Rocks was the first foal out of the Blissfull Hall mare Blissful Smile, who earned $778,734 and recorded a career mark of 1:50.2s at age five. Kay Again captured the third OSS contest, wearing down the 2-1 choice Baron Remy (Chris Page) by a scant neck at the wire in 1:52.2. Given a masterful steer by Tony Hall, the Dragon Again filly is a newcomer to the OSS series, having skipped the first two legs for owner-breeder Alan Keith of Johnstown, OH. After Baron Remy took the lead, she appeared to be a sure winner until the pocket-sitting Kay Again stuck her nose in front at the wire. Up Front Flor Ida (Kayne Kauffman), who sat third throughout at 8-1, took show honors, just 1¾ lengths behind the first two finishers. Kay Again now has $104,470 in career earnings from six wins, two seconds and four thirds in 18 career starts. She has four wins, one second and two thirds this season in ten starts and $42,780 earned in 2018. Mike Roth harnessed the bay lass, who is out of the Real Desire mare Warrawee Kay p, 2, 1:51.3 ($286,751). Kay Again is a full -sister to Kays Dragon Lady p,3, 1:54f ($187,215), and a half-sister to: Kay's Delight (by Bettor's Delight) p,2,1:54.4f ($95,812) and Challenge Accepted (by Somebeachsomewhere) p,3, 1:53.2f ($26,990). by Kimberly Rinker, OSDF Administrator

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