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Plainville, MA --- In one of the closest photos of the year, 15-1 Bet You reigned supreme on the strength of a furious worst to first rush in the $16,000 Winners-Over Handicap harness racing pace at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Oct. 14). Bet You (Jimmy Whittemore) got away eighth in the full field of pacers and watched while five horses led by Opus Blue Chip (Kevin Switzer) argued for the lead in a blistering :25.4 first quarter. As soon as they passed that station, Mach Doro A (Ron Cushing) who had also been parked out then took command. Immediately past the half, horses from the back came three-wide into contention with JK Will Power (Drew Monti) in the middle and Calvin B (Jay Randall) farthest out, pushing the pace up the backside. Bet You was now sixth in the breeze and behind a wall of horses as the field motored around the last turn. Whittemore tipped Bet You four-wide at the head of the stretch and had three more lengths to make up. He drew alongside JK Will Power and then both paced alongside Mach Doro A and all three hit the wire noses apart. When the photo came back, Bet You got the win just in front of JK Will Power and Mach Doro A, who dead-heated for place. It was the sixth win of the year for Bet You ($33.60) who has now earned $75,110 this year for owner Scott Dillon. Joe Nelson trains the winner. In the co-featured $12,000 upper-level condition pace, Tisadream N (Drew Monti) sat in the garden spot behind Vegas Dream (Kevin Switzer Jr.) through quarters of :26.2, :55.2 and 1:23.2 before Monti popped the plugs and the pocket to take the lead before the head of the stretch and then cruise home a wrapped-up 2-1/4 length winner in 1:51.4. It was the sixth win of the season for Tisadream N ($4.20) who has now earned $48,420 this year for owners Tony Gruppo and Tim Bojarski. Drew Monti and Jimmy Whittemore both had driving doubles to lead all drivers on Monday. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (Oct. 17) at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Batavia, NY --- 3-year-old Gia's Surreal had been a solid campaigner all year on the New York Sire Stake circuit, culminating that harness racing series with a second place finish in the Excelsior "A" final in September. Since that start the filly has won three straight races in overnights against aged mares and on Monday (Oct. 14) knocked off the track's top class, the $12,000 Open Handicap pace for fillies and mares at Batavia Downs. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. left fast with Gia's Surreal and led the ladies to the quarter in :27.4 and the half in :57.2. As the race proceeded onto the second circuit, Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) and Kaitlyn Rae (Mike Caprio) moved up on the rim to apply some pressure and pushed a fast :28.2 split to the three-quarters. But Gia's Surreal, who had maintained a 1-1/4 length lead the entire race, stayed stout and kept to her business which was turning back all challengers and pacing home strong to win in 1:55. Gia's Surreal ($3.10) scored her ninth win in 19 starts this year and pushed her stake-enhanced earnings to $83,869 for owners Jim Graham, Edward Peron, Lee Winters and Thomas Mariano. Jim Graham trains the filly. Gia's Surreal was one of three wins for Jim Morrill Jr. on Monday. Billy Davis Jr. also got the driving hat trick on the card. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 18) at 6 p.m. There is no racing this Wednesday (Oct. 16) due to today's special matinee card. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

HARRINGTON, Del. - George Leager's Slick Tony ($2.20, Russell Foster) notched his 12th seasonal harness racing win Monday in the featured $17,000 Open Pace at Harrington Raceway in 1:52. Sent off as the 1-to-9 favorite, Slick Tony not disappoint his backers. After taking the lead from Allwillworkout near the opening quarter mile in 27.2 seconds, "Tony" marched to the half-mile in 56 seconds and three-quarters in 1:24.2 as first-over attacker Star Messenger retreated. When the field of six hit the stretch, Slick Tony maintained a comfortable advantage and was one length ahead at the wire of Allwillworkout as Little Ben gained late for third. Trained by his owner, "Tony" is a 4-year-old No Spin Zone stallion who has been the scourge of the Open pacing ranks on the Delaware circuit this season, banking nearly $165,000 in 2019, which ranks him among the top 15 in the country for aged pacers. Corey Callahan had four wins on the card. Mike Cole had a double. by Matt Sparacino, for Harrington Raceway    

YONKERS, N.Y. – In the early morning hours on Wednesday, October 2, Talvikki Niiniketo prepared to travel across the Atlantic Ocean with Zacon Gio ahead of the trotter’s start in the Yonkers International Trot Oct. 12. Joining Zacon Gio in his equine transport container, the pair were hoisted into the bay of a cargo 747 jumbo jet and waited for their departure to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport from eastern Belgium’s Liège Airport. For seating, Niiniketo made do with an overturned bucket. For safety, she held on tight. “It was actually really exciting. It was the first time to go on a really big airplane and when it leaves, sitting there in a big container on a water bucket,” Niiniketo recalled. “First, I was thinking, ‘how am I going to hold on.’ In the end, it was really easy. And also for the landing, I was sitting there on a water bucket with him. It wasn’t so bad. I think it’s worse where the people sit, you feel it more.” Traveling to the United States to compete in harness racing’s World Cup was beyond Niiniketo’s dreams even one year ago. As a self-described city girl, the idea would have seemed impossible to Niiniketo growing up in Helsinki, Finland. “I’m the only one from the family who likes horses,” said Niiniketo, who tried to recall her first equine encounter. “I don’t know, I just saw them and I loved them. I don’t remember, maybe it was some carnival or something where I saw this pony. Then I started riding school to ride the ponies. I actually had a riding horse, that was my first own horse, a riding horse. I did dressage. It’s a Finnish horse, a cold-blooded horse named Syntipukki.” Niiniketo’s passion for horses led her to the sport of harness racing. A desire to see the world took Niiniketo to Italy in the mid-2000s and she worked as a groom and caretaker in trainer Erik Bondo’s stable. Niiniketo returned home to Finland in 2008 to complete her schooling and with that accomplished, in 2011 she moved back to Italy where she’s lived ever since. After six years working for Bondo, Niiniketo sought new surroundings, eager to see how training varied from stable to stable. She came to work for Holger Ehlert in March 2018. Zacon Gio arrived in Ehlert’s barn a few months later and Niiniketo was assigned his caretaker. A son of Rudy Griff out of the Yankee Glide mare May Glade Font Sm, Zacon Gio was then a 3-year-old with nine wins in 16 starts, but had failed to factor in stakes company, finishing third of five in the Group 3 Gran Premio G. Stabile, eighth in the Group 1 Gran Premio Citta' di Napoli, and seventh in the Group 3 Gran Premio Regione Puglia. Thinking highly of the trotter and desiring to unlock his potential, owner Giuseppe Franco transferred the horse to Ehlert. Intent on getting Zacon Gio to the Italian Trotting Derby in late September 2018, Ehlert started the horse September 1 in a Cesena invitational. However, after getting a second-over trip and angling three wide into the stretch, Zacon Gio finished a flat fourth. His connections thought better of their Derby dreams. “We tried to make (the Derby), it was really short time,” Niiniketo said. “We raced him once almost immediately so that we could see how he was. He wasn’t good in that race. He wasn’t ready for the Derby. Thank god, the owners, even though it was really big money, they agreed to skip the Derby so we had time to try to make him better. We tried to make him better because no one knew what he would become.” In her time working with Zacon Gio, Niiniketo has learned to work with the trotter’s big personality. “He has a lot of character and he’s really playful,” Niiniketo explained. “Sometimes he does some things that are a little bit silly, but that’s only because he just wants to entertain himself. Maybe it’s boring to just go around the track, so he has to make something fun. “He eats all the blankets, he eats everything,” she continued. “When we had the bottled water (in quarantine) and I go to put the water in the bucket, he takes the bottles from me and throws them around. Blankets, he eats right away. If he feels it’s a little bit too warm, he takes them off right away and then it’s in little pieces in the box. He is the boss.” Zacon Gio reemerged for Ehlert October 25, 2018 when he cruised in a Bologna overnight. After that, the wins piled up. Over the following 11 months, Zacon Gio won his next 10 starts, including Group 2 successes in the Premio Citta' Di Torino and the Gran Premio Regione Campania and Group 1 wins in the Premio Unione Europea and Gran Premio Tino Triossi. “He’s been only getting better every race,” Niiniketo said. “He’s only 4. He’s growing mentally and he’s growing physically. From when he came last year, he’s really gained much muscle. He’s double that of when he came.” Zacon Gio’s exploits in Italy improved his record to 20-for-29 with $496,834 earned. Zacon Gio also garnered the interest of the Yonkers racing office, which awarded him an invitation to the New York track’s signature race, the Yonkers International Trot. Zacon Gio’s connections accepted and in late September, Niiniketo and Zacon Gio began their trek to America. They endured a long ride from Ehlert’s stable to Grosbois Training Center southeast of Paris, France. There, Zacon Gio went his final training trip before flying overseas, completing 2,000 meters over the Grosbois track October 1. Then, it was on to Belgium to board the plane before finally landing in New York. However, with a mandatory 48-hour quarantine, Zacon Gio couldn’t ship to Yonkers Raceway until October 4. “We were really worried about the 48 hours when we couldn’t see them, but in the end, it was quite fun because then we were free to go anywhere. After that, you’re stuck going to feed him three or four times a day and can’t really go so much,” Niiniketo said. “I’ve never been in America before. This is the first time. We went to the Empire State Building and we walked around. It was quite fun. We were in the city both days, just shopping.” Niiniketo and Ehlert worked with Zacon Gio at Yonkers in the week leading up to the Yonkers International Trot. Unlike at home, Zacon Gio spent nearly all of him time in his stall. Whenever the caretaker fretted over the upcoming race, she looked to the horse to settle her nerves. “He can’t go to the paddock. He’s used to spending a lot of time out, I just leave him in the paddock and I just take him in just before I have to train him. He gets ready and I go,” Niiniketo said. “Here, he has to be in the box, so he’s like a little bomb when you walk here. “The only thing that was worrying me was how would he take the trip. He’s been drinking and eating, but you never know because they can’t tell you if something’s wrong, so you never can be sure,” Niiniketo said. “All the team has been really nervous and they come and see, is he tired, is he OK, and I have to just keep in my head that I know him, I (work with) him every day, and I think he’s like always.” Zacon Gio confirmed Niiniketo’s intuition Saturday afternoon, October 12, when he crushed his competition in the $1 million stakes while running his streak to 12. Although driver Roberto Vecchione typically puts Zacon Gio on the point at home, the pair came from off the pace in the trotter’s first start outside Italy. Racing in fourth early, Zacon Gio hugged the pylons around the first of five turns in the 1 1/4-mile Yonkers International as Atlanta set a dawdling tempo and Uza Josselyn prompted to her outside. Entering the second turn, Vecchione angled Zacon Gio to the outside to follow the Swiss mare’s cover. Zacon Gio remained on hold for Vecchione until they reached the midway point of the backstretch the final time. Forced three deep by Guardian Angel As, Vecchione put the whip on Zacon Gio’s tail and the trotter took off like a Manhattan taxi getting a green light. Entering the final turn, Vecchione yanked out the ear plugs and by the midway point of the bend, Zacon Gio left Atlanta in his wake. With Vecchione calling out to his mount, Zacon Gio put up a 3 1/2-length lead in the stretch. In the final sixteenth, the driver took the lines in his left hand and letting Zacon Gio trot through the finish on a loose line, pumped his right hand to the sky in celebration. Slide So Easy of Denmark, who rode a pocket trip behind Atlanta, angled out behind the tiring pacesetter and finished second 3 1/4 lengths behind Zacon Gio. Marion Marauder of Canada was third. Niiniketo met Zacon Gio on the track and hooking a lead to his bridle, walked him to the winner’s circle. She held onto Zacon Gio as dozens of people – owner, trainer, driver, blacksmith, family, friends, and more swarmed around the trotter. Zacon Gio stood quietly as Italian flags fluttered around his head and his connections were hoisted into the air in celebration. Someone even tucked a flag into Zacon Gio’s browband in the chaos. “I’m always scared about the winner’s circle. When he won the first Gran Premio, that was in Florence, and there he also went really fast and should have been tired,” Niiniketo remembered. “Roberto gave the horse to me to take him. I drive around to go in because he’s supposed to be really nice after the race because he’s supposed to be tired. I went by some horses and he just put the tail up and was ready to go again.’ ” With pictures taken, Niiniketo walked Zacon Gio back to the paddock. When the trotter returned to his stall with his new white and blue Yonkers International Trot blanket draped over his back, the trotter stood tall, cotton-stuffed ears forward, eyes wide and bright, nostrils barely flaring as he breathed gently. His vanquished foes were blowing hard and restless after their 10-furlong journey around the hilltop oval. “He’s not ever tired. I’ve never seen him tired,” Niiniketo commented. “He’s just getting better and now this was again another step. He had to race against the older horses who are strong. We don’t know what the limit is.” Niiniketo walked Zacon Gio across the paddock to the washstand and waiting for their turn, the pair circled around with Zacon Gio on a loose lead as Niiniketo accepted a congratulatory phone call. After being hosed off, Zacon Gio took a few gulps of water from a bucket and completed the post-race testing procedures at his own pace before Niiniketo led him back to the barn down the hill from the paddock. Taking the horse path back to the barn, Niiniketo and Zacon Gio encountered three of the adoring connections and were greeted with chants of, “Zacon! Zacon! Zacon!” Niiniketo’s face lit up in a smile and one of the roisterers thrust a beer into Niiniketo’s hand. Zacon Gio stopped and waited quietly for his caretaker to take a few sips before she passed the drink back and the pair continued on their trek. After crossing the road feeding from the Yonkers Ave entrance, the horse path bent to the right, hugging the southeast side of the parking lot and winding downhill. At the bottom, it swung to the left again back toward the barn. On the half-mile hike, Niiniketo looked forward to giving her trotter a well-earned break after getting home. Zacon Gio will be reunited with his paddock, a luxury he was deprived of while staying at Yonkers. “The trainer makes the decisions and talks with the owner now, but I think he’s going to now have a little vacation and take it easy and then start to train for the Gran Premio Lotteria in May,” she said. “That’s our next big thing. I’m going to just forget about him for a week in the paddock so he can just do what he wants to do. Eat grass and be by himself. He likes it.” As Niiniketo approached the barn with Zacon Gio, she reflected on her time in New York. Only an hour removed from the race which more than doubled the trotter’s earnings to $996,834 and opened doors for more adventures to come, she tried to grasp the magnitude of the victory. “It’s been amazing and everything has been so nice,” Niiniketo said. “It’s so well-organized. You never have to worry. If there’s something (wrong), in five minutes, they fix it. That’s really nice. In Italy, it’s never like that. Here, in five minutes everything is fixed. “It’s a dream come true, of course. Doesn’t happen to every girl,” Niiniketo said. “It’s unbelievable. I can’t even get hold of it yet, what he just did, what we just won. It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t even imagine it a year ago. And I’ve been doing quite good with normal horses, but no one like him because there is no one like him, there’s no one like him.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 6:50 p.m. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Northfield, OH--Harness racing greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, made a stop at Northfield Park on Sunday night (Oct 13) for a trot in the series Midwest region and when the dust settled Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford emerged victorious after rallying Mego Moss to a 1:58.4 triumph over eight others. Sent off at odds just over 4-1 from the pole position, Oldford was content to allow Kelly "Sky" Walker and Jurgen Hanover to take command in a :28.1 first quarter and then sat chilly following the leader through fractions of :57.3 and 1:28.1 before unleashing his veteran trotter and then taking command and cruising home an easy length winner. Jurgen Hanover held on for second money while Bob "Lumberman" Troyer rallied Ubangi from far back to garner the show dough. Mego Moss, a 10 yer old altered son of Amigo Hall, is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Terry Deters. He returned a $10.60 payoff to his backers. Oldford, one of the main forces in amateur driving for many years now, is enjoying another, great season, currently with 14 wins, 9 seconds and 11 thirds in 56 starts which equates to a solid .405 UDRS. It was his 158th winning drive. by John Manz,i for the Billings Series

Plainville, MA --- With two of the three preliminary harness racing legs of the $1.8 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) in the books, six stake records have been either broken or tied and leaders have emerged in several divisions. With the stake taking a break from action this week, many of its competitors have too and it's a good time to evaluate what has happened so far. The 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings have had the largest field of eligibles and as a result, have been racing two divisions each week. And the four races held in the first two legs have yielded four different winners. Han Solo (Mister Big-Leah) won in week one in a new stake record of 1:54.4 with Spatterdash (Deuce Seelster-Poster Hanover) winning the other division, but in a much slower 1:56.3. But the story in that second division was fourth place finisher R Maddy Blue Chip (American Ideal-Frontierpan) and third place finisher Kevmarvalous (Delmarvalous-Shady Sabrina) who both emerged the following week. R Maddy Blue Chip lowered the stake record to 1:54.3 in the second leg on the strength of a dominant performance while Kevmarvalous also had a coming-out party, winning in 1:56.3 and blowing up the tote board at 45-1. The points are well spread among this group with the top four currently being Han Solo (75), Kevmarvalous (62), R Maddy Blue Chip (58) and Spatterdash (58). The 2-year-old pacing filly division has been a one-horse show; Odds On Orlando (Captaintreacherous-Lindys Old Lady). Both weeks Odds On Orlando has come from off the pace to win in consecutive lifetime marks. After having been stretched out in Lexington for three starts prior to coming to Massachusetts, she has finished very strong in her two efforts at Plainridge and remains the perfect leader with 100 points. Currently sitting in third place with 26 points is She's A Fireball (Western Maverick-Fire Can Fly). This filly finished a very strong second in the first MASS leg before making an untimely break in the second. On Saturday (Oct. 12) she won the $55,073 final of 2-year-old pacing filly division of the Maine Sire Stakes (MSS) in a new lifetime mark with a strong first-over trip. That race will definitely set her up for a big effort in the next leg in Massachusetts and moving forward into the final. The 2-year-old trotting colt and gelding division has been a two-horse race so far. Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) took a new lifetime mark of 1:55.4 in the first leg which also set a new MASS stake record and a new Plainridge Park track record for 2-year-old trotting geldings. In the second leg, Crazy For Luca (Crazed-Teachmehowto Lindy) earned a hard fought 1:57.3 victory over Life Is A Feast to take his first lifetime win, which also set a new track record for 2-year-old trotting colts. As a result each horse now has 75 points and look to continue a head to head battle down to the final. The 2-year-old trotting fillies has been dominated by Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) who had won two straight starts and has tied the stake and track record of 1:57.3 in the process. However RT's Warrior has become an emerging force. RT's Warrior (Noble Venture-Oye Oye) has finished third and second behind Without A Warning through two legs but the filly just won the $55,045 MSS final on Saturday (Oct. 12) by 3-1/4 lengths in a new lifetime mark. When the MASS reconvenes next week, that race should provide forward momentum in RT's Warrior's continued development. Moving on to the sophomore class, all four 3-year-old divisions have seen two-time winners after the first two legs and two of the four were 2-year-old MASS champions that are looking to repeat. 3-year-old trotting gelding Simple Kaos (RC Royalty-Ksenia) has won back to back legs and leads with 100 points. The first week he was a wrapped-up winner in 1:54.3 and that set a new track record at Plainridge Park for 3-year-old trotting geldings. Simple Kaos was the freshman Mass champion and is well on his way to taking another crown. Jake G's Champion (RC Royalty-Super Starlet) and The Fixer (Trixton-Give You My Word) have been second and third once each and look to be the main rivals in here. Each currently have 37 points. 3-year-old pacing filly Karan's Choice (Sportswriter-Denverlove) is the other 2018 champion and she is off to a great start this year as well. After sweating out a mere head victory over So Beautiful (So Surreal-Leanback Coco) in week one, Karan's Choice rebounded to a more handy 1-1/2 length win over So Beautiful once again in week two. These two top the points standings with 100 and 50 points respectively heading into week three. The 3-year-old colt and gelding pace has a developing dynamic between last year's top two finishers that should provide an interesting race to the final this fall. Current MASS leader CBF Bantam (Baron Biltmore-Cohenucopia) is two for two and alone at the top with 100 points. But Victoria's Maverick (Western Maverick-Perfect Launch), who was the 2-year-old champion and has finished second and third behind CBF Bantam this year, just won the $82,195 MSS final on Saturday (Oct. 12). In that race CBF Bantam, who also competed, made a break at the start and finished third at the wire. This rivalry will renew next week and should keep this division very competitive through the final. Victoria's Maverick is tied for second with Levi (Pet Rock-Beam Of Joy), who just won an overnight race on Sunday (Oct. 13), with 37 points each. The MASS 3-year-old filly trotters have been dominated by Crystalline (Chapter Seven-Royalty Free) who has not only won two weeks in a row, but has also set two consecutive stake records in the process. After going winless in 2018 and finishing second and third twice each in the MASS, Crystalline has come back strong in 2019, winning six races as a dominant force in the New York Sire Stake (NYSS) Excelsior series and now in the MASS. Crystalline has 100 points and is ahead of Ev's Girl (Crazed-Lindy's Lullaby) and Mother Teresa (Father Patrick-Highscore Kemp) who each have 37. To date Shawn Gray is the leading driver in the MASS with six wins and is ahead of Drew Monti and Jimmy Whittemore who are tied with three and Jim Hardy who has won two. The top trainer in the series so far is George Ducharme with seven victories while Tony Alagna, David Crochere and Jim Hardy are tied for second with two apiece. The series will resume on Sunday (Oct. 20) at Plainridge Park at 2 p.m. For a complete set of Massachusetts Sire Stake points listings and all the remaining race dates, please log onto the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts website at www.sominc.net and click on the links on the homepage. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Muscle Mass mare Supergirl Riley made an early move to the lead and trotted on strongly to take the $17,500 trotting harness racing feature Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning in 1:52.3. Fresh off a 1:51.3 lifetime best at Lexington, Supergirl Riley was kept midpack early by driver Simon Allard, then moved at the quarter and grabbed the lead as the field neared the wire the first time. A final quarter of :28.1 was sufficient to keep the nearest challenger, the first-over Hill Of A Horse, 2¼ lengths at bay; the latter photoed out pocketsitter The Lionking As for place. Pocono's leading trainer, Rene Allard, trains the winner of three of her last four, who boosted her lifetime earnings to $457,713 for Allard Racing Inc., John Lengacher, and Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. There were three $17,000 co-features for horses looking to climb the class ladder. Two of the races were for pacers; in the contest for males, the Captaintreacherous sophomore gelding Seafarer was the last choice in the field of five and last at headstretch, but he closed solidly to nose out JK Musicman while taking a new mark of 1:50.4. Driver Marcus Miller got the timing just right with the winner of three of his last five for trainer/father Erv Miller and the ownership of Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Tanah Merah Farms LLC. Marcus and Erv Miller came right back in the next race, the co-feature for pacing females, with another Captaintreacherous sophomore, Alli Nui, who also set a lifetime best with a 1:50.3 mile. Alli Nui sat behind pacesetting favorite Bestseller Hanover, moved out in the stretch to get the lead, then withstood the late kick of Blue Ivy by 1½ lengths for Ervin Miller Stable Inc., Hannah Miller, Nick Surick Stable LLC, and Louis Willinger. In the trotting contest, Macmorris Hanover was outside early and not able to clear to the lead until almost the second turn, yet he still had enough to hold off favored Fade Into You by 1½ lengths in 1:55.2 for driver Pat Lachance. The Cantab Hall sophomore gelding has now been victorious in two of his last three starts for trainer Bob Baggitt Jr. and owners Ben Mudry, Douglas Millard, Timothy Murray, and Howard Taylor.   PHHA / Pocono

Plainville, MA --- The first $10,000 leg of the special Columbus Day weekend trotting series for Plainridge Park based harness racing horses dubbed "The Nina" was held on Sunday (Oct. 13) and fittingly enough was won by Pirate in a come-from-behind attack. L Dees Yoyo Ma (Drew Campbell) took the lead and set a speedy tempo from the start. Hitting the splits in :28.1, :57.3 and 1:25.4, L Dees Yoyo Ma took a three-length advantage into the final turn of the race. Pirate (Ivan Davies) who had gotten away fifth, was drafting second-over behind the favored Mouthpiece (Mark Athearn) at that last station and looked to have a lot of trot. Turning for home Pirate made his way to second but still had two-lengths to make up on the leader. Davies kept after Pirate down the lane and he continued to gain, eventually catching L Dees Yoyo Ma at the wire in 1:56. It was the fifth win of the year for Pirate ($7.00) and owners Earl and Kathy Beaman. His driver Davies also trains the winner. There will be one more leg of The Nina next Sunday (Oct. 20), culminating in a $20,000 final on Sunday (Oct. 27). There were also five divisions of 5-year-old and under non-winner events on the card that were highlighted by two particular pacing performances. Pure Sunshine (Ron Cushing) drafted second for almost the whole mile before tipping out at the top of the far turn to run down Chief Of Staff (Kevin Switzer Jr.) in the stretch to win by 1-1/4 lengths in a new lifetime mark of 1:54.1. Pure Sunshine ($16.20) is a 3-year-old colt owned by Barbara Berger, Tamms Horse Farm, Theresa Donnelly and Fernando Amesti Jr. Heidi Gibbs is the trainer. Earlier in the card Levi (Scott Renz) put in an impressive gate to wire showing to win by 1-1/4 lengths over a fast closing Wild Eyed Yankee (Drew Monti) in 1:54.4. Levi ($4.00) is owned by Stephen Richard and is trained by his driver Renz. Levi is a Massachusetts-bred 3-year-old gelding who currently sits in second place in the $1.8 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes. The series is off this week but will return to action next Sunday afternoon (Oct. 20). Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday (Oct 14) at 2 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Chester, PA -- Knutsson Trotting Inc.'s Muscle M Up ($5.80) strode straight to the front and never looked back in Sunday's (Oct. 13) $25,000 winners-over harness racing trot at Harrah's Philadelphia, posting a 1:52.3 win with plenty in reserve. Trainer-driver Ãke Svanstedt put the 4-year-old son of Muscle Hill in play from the outset of the one-mile race, clearing Theresademoninme (Yannick Gingras) easily through a :27 first quarter before rating a :56.1 half. Up the backstretch, Muscle M Up started to edge away, extending his lead to two lengths past three-quarters in 1:24.   Muscle M Up remained unchallenged to the winning post, keeping a late bid from Scirocco Rob (Dexter Dunn) 1-1/2 lengths at bay, while Theresademoninme checked in a one-paced third. The win was the fifth on the season for Muscle M Up and the ninth of his career. In the sub-featured event of the afternoon, an $18,000 top-level conditioned pace, American Boy N ($4.60) pushed out of the pocket with three-eighths to go and overtook pacesetter Lyons Steel en route to a 1:50.2 score. Andy McCarthy drove the 8-year-old American Ideal gelding for trainer Michael Marx Jr. and the Windermere Stable LLC. Two carryovers will greet punters on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 16): a $5,881.60 carryover in the fifth-race Jackpot Hi-5, and a $2,228.02 carryover in the Pick-4, which begins in race seven. Post time is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia racing media  

Mister Muscle (Muscle Mass) has emerged as the new stable harness racing star at Saratoga Casino Hotel for leading driver Mark and conditioner Melissa Beckwith. On Sunday, the five year old won the Open Trot for the third time in his last four tries. Mister Muscle won his first career Open last month and followed that victory up with another in his following start. After a second-place finish last Sunday, it was back to the winner's circle for Mister Muscle this week after he cruised out to the early lead in the $18,000 Open and coasted through a first half in 57.4 before remaining untested in three quarters of 1:27.2. Longshot Cartier Volo (Frank Coppola Jr.) took her shot first-over on the leader past three quarters but the chase was futile. Pocket-sitter Wings Of Royalty, the race's 3-5 betting favorite, didn't prove to be a threat in the stretch to the eventual winner Mister Muscle who stopped the timer in 1:56.3 for his third victory in the Open in the last four tries. Cartier Volo finished second while Wings Of Royalty, last week's Open winner, had to settle for third. With the earnings from the feature score, Mister Muscle moved his career bankroll to over the $200,000 mark. The winner paid $4.50 to win and led an exacta that came back $25. The rising trotting star is owned by Patricia Schneeberger of Valatie, NY. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon with a first post set for 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

WILKES-BARRE PA - George Napolitano Jr. became the 18th North American driver to tally 10,000 driving victories on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono when he guided Motown N to a hard-earned harness racing victory in the evening's ninth race. Motown N tucked third early, then used one of Napolitano's signature moves, a brush off the first turn, to make his way to the lead, but not until being parked the entire second quarter. Once on top, Motown N and Napolitano were in control, with "George Nap" rocking the horse home to a two length victory over Redbank Blaze A - driven by George's brother Anthony. Motown N did not recognize the milestone achieved by his driver, as he was under full steam right back to the paddock after the mile. But George was brought to the winners circle after "dropping off" the horse to join family, friends, and Pocono management to celebrate the major achievement. George Napolitano Jr. currently ranks 11th among active North American drivers in victories, and he is well on his way to taking his 13th seasonal crown at The Downs, and his eighth straight. George also has ten UDR titles at Pocono, and he was the winningest trainer here in five seasons. The win behind Motown N was his 4,982nd victory at Pocono since his first victory success in 2000. George won the North American dashwinning title in 2010, and this year he currently sits third in the standings. George's brother Anthony guided Luis Alberto N to a 1:50.1 victory in the $17,500 featured pace on the card. Anythingforlove A had laid down very hot fractions of :25.4, :53.2, and 1:21 and still held well in the stretch, but despite a speed-favoring track those giant fractions did take a toll, and Luis Alberto N came on steadily the last 3/8 to post a 1¼ lengths over the game pacesetter while posting a North American mile mark. Jose Godinez trains the Kiwi import for the ownership of Blindswitch Racing Stable and Dolne Farm Services LLC.   PHHA / Pocono

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Shortly after winning the weekly harness racing feature at the Meadowlands in January in 1:50.2 as the 2-5 favorite, all was well with Geez Joe, who seemingly was on his way to a big year. But a throat ailment led to surgery and seven months on the shelf. Now he's back, and he's looking better than ever. Saturday night at the Meadowlands, Geez Joe won the featured $27,500 conditioned pace in 1:48.2, two weeks after winning at Hoosier Park in 1:47.4. Indeed, the 5-year-old gelded son of Roll With Joe-Beach Bretta is all the way back. In the early stages of his first Big M start in nine months, driver Marcus Miller moved Geez Joe directly to the top, hitting the quarter in :26.3. A relaxing second fraction of :28 would follow before 8-5 second choice Dealt A Winner would move right to the leader at the five-eighths and the pair continued their duel at three-quarters in 1:21.3. Then Geez Joe would deliver the knockout punch. The Erv Miller trainee, the slight 8-5 public choice, powered clear of his main foe through the stretch with a :26.4 kicker, hitting the wire 4½ lengths clear of Dealt A Winner. Our Max Phactor N finished third. Geez Joe, who has won five of his last seven Meadowlands starts dating back to November of 2018, paid $5.20 to win and now has 20 victories from 61 lifetime outings and earnings of $256,728 for owners Bay Pond Racing Stable. BIG POT OF GOLD: With a pair of 30-1 shots and two more that went off at at least 13-1, the Pick-5 did not get hit, creating a carryover of almost $21,000. As a result, Friday's 50-Cent Pick-5 will have a guaranteed pool of $75,000, instead of the usual $25,000. A LITTLE MORE: It was a night for the longshot players as four favorites scored on the 13-race program while six winners went off at 13-1 or more. ... Dave Miller and Joe Bongiorno both had driving doubles. ... All-source wagering was $2,108,436. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Skater Chick prevailed against Grand Circuit harness racing stock in Saturday's (October 12) $120,500 Courageous Lady at MGM Northfield Park. Driven by Corey Callahan, Skater Chick sat third through the :27.4 opening quarter before mounting a successful first-over bid through fractions of :57, 1:25.1 and 1:53.1, besting her competition by two and ¾-lengths. "She is a little rough in the turns so I kind of just held on to her through the last turn," stated Callahan. "Once we straightened up for home it was all over. I had plenty of go, so it was awesome!" Mark Harder conditions Skater Chick for owners Donald Lindsey, Paul Kleinpaste and Garth Bechtel. Saturday marks Callahan's first trip to Northfield Park. Callahan tweeted that he was "Just waiting on the right horse." Completing the field were JK American Beauty, Rose Run Uptowngal, Crazy Cute, Under The Hood, She's Allright and So Awesome. Skater Chick (Sweet Lou - Ram Rocker - Rocknroll Hanover) now has seven wins in 26 lifetime starts. Saturday's victory increased her career bankroll to $155,754. She returned $6.00 to win. In the preceding events, Mary Birkhold and Jayne Weller won divisions of the "Pace for the Cure," an event for lady drivers racing to raise awareness and money for breast cancer awareness. All monies raised by the event will be donated to the American Cancer Society.   Ayers Ratliff

Brookdale Bruiser (John MacDonald) captures the $6,000 featured harness racing pace at Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 12). Brookdale Bruiser ($5.20) battled early with Card Knock Life (Leon Bailey). Brookdale Bruiser cleared and hit the first quarter first in :27.1. He used a :29.3 second quarter to hit the half in :56.4. Tempster Hanover (Justin Huckabone) came first-over and got to within half a length as Brookdale Bruiser hit three-quarters in 1:24.4. Brookdale Bruiser, who is owned by the J P Stables and trained by MacDonald, made the turn for home and breezed to an easy win in 1:53.1. Tempster Hanover was second best. Bay Rum (Howard Parker) finished third. Brookdale Bruiser is a 5-year-old gelding by Roll WIth Joe. It was his 10th win in 2019. He now owns 18 career victories. Howard Parker drove three winners on the night. He finished first with Sometimes Said ($4.40), Napper Tandy ($3.30), and Golden Brit ($5.60). John MacDonald, Jennifer Lappe, and Claude Huckabone Jr, each had driving doubles. Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (October 18) starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Batavia, NY --- Mr. Euroman had a two-month vacation this summer before the start of the Batavia Downs harness racing meet and since returning to action in late August, has won four out of his eight starts in Genesee County.   The most recent win came on Saturday night (Oct. 12) in the $12,500 Open Handicap pace at the Downs. Leaving from post one, Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) watched as Sir Pugsley (Drew Monti) fired off the gate and took command of the race heading around the first turn. With the field in single file, Sir Pugsley went down to the half in :57 before stepping up the pace to the three-quarters with a :27.3 split. Mr. Euroman was the beneficiary of cover to this point of the race and continued to trip-out to the top of the stretch. Davis pulled the pocket at the head of the lane with Mr. Euroman and out-dueled Sir Pugsley to the wire to win by one-half length in 1:53.2. It was the seventh win of the year for Mr. Euroman ($16.00) who is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags, Jack Rice and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice. There were a pair of $11,000 Open II races on the card that both provided some stellar performances. The first split saw Down On My Luck (Drew Monti) get away third before pulling first-over at the three-eighths, clear the leading Barry Hanover (Dave McNeight III) by the three-quarters and then pull away to an easy 2-¼ length win in 1:53.3. Down On My Luck ($3.10) is having a career year for owner Robert Woodburn, now with eight wins and $47,867 in earnings. Patrick Shepherd trains the winner. In the second division, What's Goin On (John Cummings Jr.) sat second behind the pace-setting Rise Up Now (Shawn McDonough) from the start until the top of the stretch where he found room on the pylons and shot through like a rocket to out-pace four other fast finishers and win by one-half length in 1:54.4. What's Going On ($8.70) now also has eight wins this year and $65,821 earned for owners Marissa and Joe Russo. David Russo does the conditioning. Drew Monti scored a driving triple to lead all drivers on Saturday while John Cumming Jr. and Renaldo Morales III scored two wins apiece. Trainer Patrick Shepherd also sent three horses to the Purple Haze Winner's Circle while James Clouser Jr. and Joe Skowyra each watched two of their stable win during the night Racing resumes at Batavia Downs with the final matinee card of the year on Monday (Oct. 14) with the annual Columbus Day special. Post time for the first race is 1:15 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Larry Stalbaum won the Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel for the fifth time in the last seven Saturday nights when his Lord Willoughby A (Mach Three) went last to first in the $18,000 harness racing feature. Lord Willoughby A was assigned post six in the six-horse Open but benefited from an early speed duel on Saturday. With a pair of rivals going toe-to-toe in a fast first half of 55.2, Lord Willoughby A got underway past the half and moved third over heading to three-quarters. He wound up four-wide around the final turn but once he straightened up in the stretch, Lord Willoughby A had enough to come on and win in 1:53.1. The Tracy Tarantino trainee paid $8.30 in what was his second consecutive victory in the Open and his fifth win in the last six local starts. The favored Vasari N (Jimmy Devaux) made his debut in the local Open and was tested from the start of the race while on the engine before digging in to finish second. Betterlatethnnever (Mitch Cushing) closed to be third in the $18,000 feature. The exacta and triple came back $27.80 and $119, respectively. Lord Willoughby A's two Open wins come just a few weeks after Stalbaum and Tarantino's Crockets Cullen N scored victories in three of four tries in the Open Pace. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a first post time set for 12 Noon.   Mike Sardella

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