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YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 19, 2017—Odds-on Charmed Life (Yannick Gingras, $3.50) slapped the harness racing boys silly again Sunday afternoon (Nov. 19th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s windy $40,000 Open Trot. With ‘only’ a seven-horse field, the weekly trotting feature went at the flat mile, the late-morning opener First-up a week ago, Charmed Life was in play early here. From post position No. 5, she found front well before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. Lookslikeachpndale (Dan Dube), who left directly outside of the lass, was hard-used just to cram into the pocket. Once Charmed Life made the lead, there wasn’t a whole lot of suspense. She finished off her pre-noon rounds (:58.2, 1:27.3, 1:56.3), with only minimal outside grief from Home’n Dry (Jason Bartlett).  That one moved from fifth and challenged to the final turn before backing away. The margin was a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn and three-quarters of a length at the wire. ‘Chpndale’ easily saved second, while DW’s NY Yank (George Brennan) Buen Camino (Brian Sears) and Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory) were relegated to the minors.   For Charmed Life, a 7-year-old millionairess daughter of Majestic Son co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Yves Sarazin and VIP Internet Stable, it was her eighth win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17, with the triple returning $81.50. The scheduled ‘New York, New York Double’ was cancelled after Aqueduct scrapped its card. Sunday matinees, along with the weather-permitting ‘New York, New York Double,’ return Nov. 26th (post time TBA). Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 17, 2017—Call Me Queen Be (Eric Goodell, $8.20) retook the lead early and grudgingly held it late Friday night (Nov. 17th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s blindly-drawn (by modern technology) $40,000 harness racing filly and mare Open Pace. Away second from post potion No. 2, ‘Queen Be’ at first was pocketed to HP Sissy (Dan Dube) then retook before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. It was a :56.1 intermission when Regil Elektra (Joe Bongiorno) offered a fruitless, first-up bid from fifth. Meanwhile, Call Me Queen Be maintained her social status in and out of a 1:24.3 three-quarters, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. She would need just about all of it. Slight 5-2 favorite All About Madi (Brian Sears), who won the draw but sat a loose three-hole, stormed home inside. ‘Madi’s’ memo arrived a tad late as she missed a scant nose in 1:53.3. Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) left the cones to snatch third, beaten a half-length. HP Sissy and She’sjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) settled for the pre-turkey leftovers. For tepid second choice Call Me Queen Be, a 4-year-old millionairess daughter of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by Let it Ride Stables & Dana Parham and trained by Ross Croghan, it was her fourth win in 19 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $21.40, with the triple returning $63.50. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Nov. 18th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,867.20. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker  

YONKERS, NY --The final preliminary contests prior to the series finale in the NAADA Fall Trotting Series were staged before the harness racing betting card at Yonkers Raceway on Friday night(Nov. 17) and when the judges hung the official signs Paul Minore and Joe Faraldo emerge victorious in their respective divisions. Minore won with his old warhorse Wygant Prince in 2:01 while Faraldo scored behind Tough Get Going in 2:00.1. In his contest Minore worked out a perfect two-hole journey behind Bobby Krivelin's Connie Keeper. "Krivelin had to pole position and he raced to the lead and since I had the two hole I fell in behind him on the first turn," Minore explained. Once the field settled Minore just played follow the leader which he did until the homestretch. "When we rounded the final turn I eyed the passing lane and then angled Wygant there and he trotted on to one length victory over Krivelin's horse.," Minore added. Peter Kleinhans and Toss Cartwright finished second with the pacesetter Connie Keeper third. Minore owns the 10-year-old altered son of SJ's Photo who's trained by Taylor Gower. It was Wygant Prince's second consecutive victory and fifth this season." It was also the 93rd lifetime driving victory for Minore, a retired New Jersey high school track and field coach whose most famous pupil was world champion Carl Lewis. In the other split NAADA president Joe Faraldo smoked 'em with a solid 2:00.1 wire to wire triumph with Tough Get Going, a 4-year-old Kadabra gelding he co-owns with trainer Richie Banca. The hardworking barrister sent his charge to the lead from the three-hole and despite the short field they were constantly challenged. But Tough Get Going lived up to his name and turned back all challengers despite being looked in the eye from the half to the finish. "We made some equipment changes", Faraldo said referring to his trotter. "He was breathing funny, making noises like he was gasping for air at the end of the mile the last few times I drove him so we put on a throat plate and tied his tongue and it seemed to do the job " At the wire Tough Get Going was a neck better than runner-up Mr. Ridgetaker ,d driven by Dave Yarock. Tim Lizzie and driver Joe Lee were three lengths back in third. by John Manzi for NAADA

YONKERS, N.Y. - As the longtime trainer and driver of $904,593-earner The Real One, Pat Lachance could easily take credit for much of the Mach Three gelding’s success. Instead, the harness racing horseman defers praise to owner Helene Fillion, who is understanding of The Real One’s off-the-pace style and doesn’t pressure Lachance to take the horse out of his comfort zone. “I think the key is the owner. We’re on the same page, we understand how he races and we understand that sometimes you’re at the mercy of the pace and it’s not going to work out, but you also know that if you fire him up and send him out of there, it’s not going to work either, so you try to race him the way he likes to race and try to win the race,” Lachance said. “That’s the biggest asset. I give her a lot of credit because she never puts pressure on him. He’s the kind of horse that if you had put pressure on him, he never would have been The Real One, he’d never be what he is, no question in my mind,” Lachance continued. “He’s the type of horse that if you put pressure on him, it’s not good. He wouldn’t be racing right now if that wasn’t the case.” Fillion bought then 3-year-old The Real One online for $10,000 in 2014 and initially trained him herself. After a slow start at Rideau Carlton, where The Real One failed to finish in the trifecta, Fillion campaigned her budding star to a win and three more placings at Hippodrome 3R. Recognizing his talent, Fillion sent The Real One to Lachance to compete for the rich purses at Yonkers Raceway. “She lives maybe 10 minutes from where I was raised as a kid until I was 10 on the farm in Montreal,” Lachance said. “I never knew her until this horse and she was looking for somebody who’s French-Canadian who she can communicate with and she knows I take care of my horses and I have a good reputation for taking care of them and she wanted to send them to somebody that she trusts. “It means a lot to me because you don’t see that as much anymore and obviously there’s not a lot of trainer-drivers around, I’m one of the few and people still like that,” he continued. “People still come to me because of that, so it makes me feel great, no question.” The Real One blossomed under Lachance’s tutelage. He’s won 41 of 150 races with another 50 placings. Last year, he took a lifetime mark of 1:50.0 when setting an all-age track record in the Open Handicap at Yonkers November 19. With six wins, including a 1:50.3 score in the Yonkers Open September 23 and $179,350 in earnings this year, The Real One isn’t showing any signs of slowing down nearing the end of his 7-year-old season. The Real One’s class and closing style help keep him in top form, Lachance explained. “It’s very rare that you see horses stay at this level for four years in a row. It’s amazing,” he said. “He’s just so consistent and just a nice horse, a top horse, and he just does his job. He loves to race, he stays sound. We’re very fortunate to have him. “He’s a closer, he likes to chase, he has one big run. He’s not a front-runner, he’s not a horse that you want to send out of there. He likes to finish up at the end and pick off horses. That style of racing, it just gives him a chance to stay good,” Lachance explained. As a trainer-driver, Lachance gets the opportunity to know his horses habits on the racetrack better than most. The Real One is no exception and Lachance understands exactly what he can and can’t do in the driver’s seat. “He can get a little grabby, he can get a little anxious. That’s the only thing he does wrong,” he said. “When he follows cover sometimes you’ve got to be a little careful with him that way. Besides that, he’s pretty much ok. You just can’t fire him up too much.” Despite posting a neck victory in last week’s pacing feature, an open draw in Saturday’s (Nov. 19) $40,000 Open Pace afforded The Real One the rare luxury of starting along the pylons. The Real One has started from posts seven or eight in three of his last five starts and hasn’t drawn inside post four since winning a $35,000 overnight from post two August 19. Lachance plans to be more aggressive as a result. “I definitely want to protect the rail a little bit, no question,” Lachance said. “I’ll try and get away as close as I can without firing him up to where he’s out of control. If I fire him up, he’s going to want to go a thousand out of there and that’s not good for him. I’ll try to keep him as relaxed as I can and try to keep him as close as I can and we’ll take it from there. “If we end up in the two-hole, great. If not, I can come first-up with him and he likes that, he doesn’t mind that,” he continued. “Hopefully things work out for us, but there’s definitely a lot worse spots than the rail.” The Real One is the 3-1 morning line choice in Saturday’s Open Pace, but isn’t the only local standout moving inside. Bit Of A Legend drew post four and off a third place finish last week, is the 7-2 second choice on the line. Caviart Luca, last week’s runner up, will start from post seven while Dr. J Hanover, a wire to wire Open Handicap winner Oct. 28, drew post eight. Orillia Joe, Maxdaddy Blue Chip, Scott Rocks, and Blood Brother complete the field. “Bit Of A Legend is probably the horse to beat in there, there’s a few other ones. They’re in the open for a reason, they can all win with a trip, so hopefully it all works out,” Lachance said. “We’ve been assigned the seven and eight hole quite a bit, so we have the rail now, so we’ll take advantage of it.” First post time Saturday at Yonkers Raceway is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, November 14, 2017—For someone who’s running away with yet another local driving title, harness racing reinsman Jason Bartlett had his share of Yonkers Raceway non-believers Tuesday night (Nov. 14th). Those disciples who did keep the faith were handsomely rewarded, with Bartlett winning five of the dozen races, including some at very un-Bartlett-esque prices. It started innocently enough, with favorites Marvalous Jet ($5.10) in the $7,500 third-race pace (1:57) and American Island ($3.20) in the $11,500, fifth-race pace (1:54.3). Then, the double-digit parade took over. A pocketed I Dance U Prance ($11.40) was up at the wire in the $15,000, 10th-race pace (1:55.4). After the dancing and prancing, Day Trade Hanover ($57) prevailed from a three-hole in the $15,000, 11th-race pace (1:56), then Perfect Bet ($30) left sharply, ripping out of the pocket to win the $15,000, 12th-race pace (1:54.4). The Bartlett 7-8 late double returned a holiday-bill-paying $608. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 12, 2017— Harness racing favored Charmed Life (Yannick Gingras, $5.50) was first-up and faultless Sunday afternoon (Nov. 12th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. With ‘only’ a seven-horse field, the weekly trotting feature went at the flat mile. Charmed Life, unhurried from post position No. 3, saw an early scrum for the lead. A very wide In Secret (George Brennan) eventually worked around Georgie’s Pockets (Joe Bongiorno) just after a :27.3  opening quarter-mile. It was a 57-second intermission as Charmed Life took out of fourth. The lone lass here found minimal resistance as In Secret closed up shop around the 1:26 three-quarters. Charmed Life, showing few effects from 21 days out, opened a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn. She eventually closed the sale, winning by 2¾ lengths in 1:54.4. Home’n Dry (Jason Bartlett) edged Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory) for second, with Buen Camino (Brian Sears) and ‘Georgie’ rounding out the payees.  For Charmed Life, a 7-year-old daughter of Majestic Son co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Yves Sarazin and VIP Internet Stable, it was her seventh win in 22 seasonal starts (career earnings in excess of $1.2 million). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $33, the triple returned $99 and the superfecta paid $203. Sunday’s return of the ‘New York, New York Double’ offered a winning combination of 1-Dig That Mine (Aqueduct’s 3rd race) and 6-Jacks to Open (Yonkers’ 5th race) returning $15.90 for every correct $1 wager. Total pool was $4,608. Sunday matinees, along with the ‘New York, New York Double,’ return Nov. 19th (post time TBA). Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 11, 2017—Favored The Real One (Pat Lachance, $5.60) went by a stubborn leader before holding off the back markers Saturday night (Nov. 11th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $50,000 harness racing Open Handicap Pace. Sitting chilly from post position No. 4 as the temps hovered around freezing, The Real One watch pole-sitting Bakersfield (Greg Merton) stuff an antsy Orillia Joe (Brent Holland) in behind, then rebuff a second-move by Dr. J Hanover (Brian Sears). All this fun came during ‘flat’ early intervals of :27 and :56. Down the backside the second time, The Real One moved from fifth, circling wide around a retreating ‘Dr. J’ and setting after Bakersfield. He had that one in his sights at a 1:24.4 three-quarters, taking over soon after. The Real One owned a short lead into the lane, getting ‘first run’ against both Caviart Luca (George Brennan) and Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton). He whipped the former by a neck in 1:53, with the latter third, beaten a length-and-a-quarter. Thisjetsabookin’ (Jason Bartlett) and Orillia Joe settled for the minors. For The Real One, a ‘Veteran’ 7-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by his driver for owner Helene Filion, it was his sixth win in 23 seasonal starts (career earnings over $900,000). The exacta paid $39.40, with the triple returning $106. Reminder that ‘French’ Sunday matinees return tomorrow (Nov. 12th), with first post at 11:25 AM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – Since taking out her harness racing trainers’ license in June, Jennifer Bongiorno has enjoyed immediate and steady success at Yonkers Raceway. She’s sent out 18 winners from 73 starts for an 18 percent strike rate and posted another 27 placings. Despite her flying start and a contingent of top-class horses in her stable, a victory in the lucrative local Open ranks has proven elusive. Bongiorno will have another chance at her first Open win with Georgie’s Pockets in Sunday’s $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. “I couldn’t be happier with the results. I give full credit to the horses I have and the owners I have behind me,” Bongiorno said. “The owners that I have behind me, big names that are able to provide us with horses that have talent and are able to go out there and win races. I definitely own my own horses in the barn, but you have names like Jerry Silva, Gene Kurzrok, Howard Taylor. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.” This spring, Bongiorno found herself increasingly involved in managing the horses she owned while still balancing a full-time position as a harness racing broadcaster at The Meadowlands. Bongiorno knew her true passion was with the horses and with the help of her younger brother, driver Joe Bongiorno, decided to take the plunge into training her own stable. “I felt like I was constantly at work just worrying about the horses I owned and talking to different trainers that I’m friendly with and wanting to learn more about that end of the game,” she said. “So really, I just took a leap of faith and I knew I would have the support of my brother, which is immense. “I definitely feel I made the right decision,” she continued. “I go to work every day and I think I was at the point at The Meadowlands where it became a job for me, and now with what I’m doing, it’s not. I’m so passionate, I’m so happy. Every morning when I walk in, those horses are like kids to me. I love each and every one of them and they’re what makes me happy.” Bongiorno didn’t have to wait long to taste success. She scored her first win as a conditioner in her very first start when 5-year-old pacer Gratian Hanover won a $14,500 overnight from post eight as a 9-1 outsider June 20. “My first win, I’ve never felt that level of gratification before,” she said. “My first start was with my boy Gratian Hanover. He’s my absolute pet. Luckily, crazily enough, we had a win together. It was awesome.” Bongiorno will look to add to her win tally when Georgie’s Pockets races from post four in this week’s Open Trot. Joe Bongiorno will take the lines behind the 8-1 morning line chance who will face six rivals, including 3-1 favorite Home’N Dry, a winner of two straight local Opens, International Trot starter In Secret, and millionaire mare Charmed Life. Buen Camino, Tight Lines, and Wings of Royalty complete the field. “Opens at Yonkers are always difficult. It being a seven-horse field is not the worst thing, that’s for sure,” Bongiorno said. “He has speed, he can do it from off the pace. Versatile horses are always good to have. He’s given me no reason to think he can’t go with this group. Sometimes I think he might be a step below them, but he’s beaten Home’N Dry, he’s finished with In Secret before, so I see no reason why he won’t be competitive in there.” Although Georgie’s Pockets has posted 3 wins and another five placings from 15 starts and earned $86,114 since debuting for Bongiorno in June, the son of Muscle Mass almost didn’t come to her stable. After an agent approached her to buy him, Bongiorno felt the price was too high and passed on purchasing the 4-year-old. However, when browsing online listings soon after, Bongiorno’s affinity for sire Muscle Mass proved fruitful as Georgie’s Pockets appeared in the results for a more reasonable price. Bongiorno took him and brought Kurzrok’s Our Horse Cents Stables on as a partner. “What a nice horse he is. He was supposed to be in the Harrisburg Sale and we took him out because he is exactly what you would want in a horse,” Bongiorno said. “He has the most awesome personality. You walk in the barn and he’s the most spoiled horse. He comes running out, he just can’t wait to be around you. You would never know he’s a stud, which is cool. “He’s flawlessly gaited,” she continued. “Joe said after the first time he drove him, ‘you can leave with this horse on a loose line at Yonkers,’ and there’s not many horses you can do that there with. He’s perfectly gaited, perfectly sound and when you have horses like that, they make it as easy as can be.” Georgie’s Pockets’ style has proven a perfect fit for Yonkers Raceway. After disappointing on the five-eighths oval at Pocono, Bongiorno moved Georgie’s Pockets back to Yonkers, where he posted two straight wins at the non-winners of $10,000 and $20,000 levels in July. His most recent score, an 8-length romp for non-winners of $30,000 last five came October 7. “One thing about him is, he is a half-mile horse. There are certain horses that aren’t going to pick up on a big track, and he’s one of them,” Bongiorno explained. “He doesn’t really leave Yonkers now because we know he’s not going to be able to pick up his speed. He’ll go as fast on a half as he will on a mile. That’s just his deal.” Georgie’s Pockets’ most impressive effort in his trainer’s eyes came not when winning, but as the runner-up in 4-year-old Dia Monde’s track record-setting 1:54.2 effort in the Open Handicap Trot September 23. Although she’s being realistic about her chances in this week’s Open Trot, Bongiorno thinks Georgie’s Pockets has great upside for her stable going forward. If he can pull off an Open victory, it will be one the young conditioner won’t forget. “He’s only 4, I think he’s only going to get better. He’s a beautiful looking horse, he’s strong, and I can’t say it enough, he’s so happy, he loves his work. I think going forward he’s going to be a good thing to have in the barn,” she said. “I have three trotters that I think the world of racing: B Yoyo at Pocono and Rubber Duck and Georgie at Yonkers. Anyone would be so lucky to have one of them and to have all three of them in the barn is a true blessing. “I’m just so thankful for my life right now. I wake up and I feel so happy and so blessed. I’m very thankful to everyone I have supporting me,” she continued. “I think my brother is an incredible horseman and a great driver. ‘Georgie’ is a rockstar and I’m so proud of the horse he’s become. I’m still searching for that Open win at Yonkers, but I really will be very, very excited about that. If ‘Georgie’ can do it, with his personality, he would be so proud of himself.” First post time Sunday at Yonkers Raceway is 11:25 a.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 10, 2017- Pocketed fave Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick, $4.40) was up late Friday night (Nov. 10th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $50,000 harness racing filly and mare Open Handicap Pace. In play from a rare good getaway (post position No. 3), Newborn Sassy made the first lead. She then gave it up to Regil Elektra (Jason Bartlett) before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. After a :57.4 intermission, company arrived in the form of one of the race's pair of fillies, Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald). The former New York Sire Stakes standout took out of fifth, engaging the leader in and out of a 1:26 three-quarters. Regil Elektra grudgingly disposed of that one, taking a length lead into the lane. However, Newborn Sassy then ducked in and went by, the margin three-quarters of a length in 1:54.4. Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton) rallied from last to snap Clear Idea for third, with Diva's Image (Jon Bongiorno) picking off the final pay envelope. For 'Sassy,' a 4-year-old daughter of Western Ideal co-owned by Jo Ann Looney-King & CC Racing and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her eighth win in 16 seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $13.40, with the triple returning $128.50. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Nov. 11th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,067.47. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 10, 2017 -- Yonkers Raceway's Sunday harness racing matinees return this Sunday (Nov. 12th), with first post at 11:25 AM. Races 1 thru 7 are 'French' trots, with larger fields at the mile-and-a-quarter distance. This season's four remaining Sundays (Nov. 19, Nov. 26th, Dec. 3rd, Dec.17th) have post times of TBA. Note that the 'New York, New York Double' shifts to Aqueduct, comprised this time of the Big A's third race (post time 1:18 PM) and Yonkers' fifth race (post time 1:25 PM). Program pages for the wager ($1 minimum, 18½ percent takeout) accompany this release. Frank Drucker  

YONKERS, N.Y. – After a breakout season in New York Sire Stakes, 3-year-old filly Clear Idea will test the waters in Yonkers Raceway’s $50,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace tonight (Nov. 10). The sophomore will face seven harness racing aged rivals, including last week’s winner Mackenzie A and Breeders’ Crown finalist Blue Moon Stride. Trained by Blake Macintosh, Clear Idea entered the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Final Oct. 14 with 9 wins and another nine placings in 2017. Five of her wins came against her New York bred rivals at tracks across the state, including a 1:55.1 score from post seven at Buffalo Raceway. Although she drew post seven in the final, regular reinsman Mark MacDonald was determined to put the filly in the race. “She was at the top of her division. She had the seven hole, so we had to take a shot,” MacDonald said. “There was never a chance I was going to take back to last or second-last. Especially when guys were ducking, I was going to try and go to the front.” While much of the field came away in post-position order, MacDonald gunned Clear Idea to the lead in the opening furlong before allowing Obvious Blue Chip to clear the front. After a pocket trip, Clear Idea couldn’t catch her favored rival, but stayed for a second-place finish at odds of 12-1. MacDonald was happy with the effort and happier for his friend Macintosh, who also co-owns Clear Idea with Hutt Racing Stable. “She’s had her aches and pains throughout the season, maybe getting a little tired, I think if she had been on top of her game, I think she would have won, but second was good,” MacDonald said. “Blake Macintosh, one of my best friends, owns half of her and it was a nice little payday for him. Anytime you can win when a friend owns the horse, it’s always rewarding to win, but it’s extra rewarding when it’s for a family member or a friend.” MacDonald met Macintosh in the late 1990s when the pair raced at Windsor Raceway. Stabled across from one another, MacDonald soon began driving for Macintosh and the pair became close friends. “We were about the same age and we just got to hanging out. I was driving and I ended up driving all of his stable. One year, Blake was the leading trainer and I was the leading driver at Dresden Raceway. I remember we got gold Timexes,” MacDonald remembered with a laugh. “We’ve been really good friends forever, so that’s how long I’ve been driving for Blake. Pretty near my whole life.” Although driving for a close friend can make the wins more rewarding, it can also make the losses more agonizing. Although MacDonald jokes that Macintosh gives him a hard time after the races, “all the time,” the trainer never stays down on the losses for very long. “He’s very loyal. It doesn’t matter what happens, he’s a very, very loyal person,” MacDonald said. “Win, lose, or draw, you might hear about it a little bit, but he’s very loyal.” MacDonald first drove Clear Idea in her freshman season. After winning her first start in an overnight at Grand River in July 2016, MacDonald was aboard for several placings in Excelsior A stakes across New York. Her progression from a check-getter to a stakes winner impressed her driver. “She’s really come. She’s turned into a really nice racehorse. She’s a little lazy, kind of a late-bloomer, but she progressed throughout the year and she turned into a really nice filly and I think she’s going to be a really nice racehorse,” he said. “She was so good on a half, I was like, ‘you didn’t pay her into the Jugette? Are you crazy?’ She’s obviously an overachiever and clearly the way he staked her he didn’t think she was this good, but she is really good and I think she’ll be an open mare as an aged mare, I really do.” One of Clear Idea’s standout features is her versatility. She can handle any trip, which gives her driver options and makes his job easier. “She’s really lazy, really laid back, somewhat like myself,” MacDonald joked. “She’s easy to drive. She kind of drives herself, just depending on the post position and whatnot. She’s always in a good spot because she can go first-over, she can go to the front, and when she gets a trip, she loves it.” Clear Idea will face aged mares in tonight’s Filly and Mare Open Handicap carded as the seventh race on a 12-race card. She will start from post five at a 7-1 morning line chance in her first start since the Sire Stakes Final. “Obviously, that’s a step up, maybe two steps up, maybe even three,” MacDonald said. “We’ll just see what happens. I think if she’s close and has the right trip, she won’t embarrass herself. It’s really hard for 3-year-olds to go against aged horses. “I know he’s trained her up good, I know he has her conditioned well. That’s one thing about Blake, when he has them out, they’re conditioned well. He doesn’t miss a day,” MacDonald continued. “She hasn’t raced, but I’m sure she’ll put in a good effort, I’m sure she will. She needed to be freshened up anyway, in fact, she might even be better. We’ll see how she steps up, but she won’t embarrass herself, I guarantee you that.” First post time tonight at Yonkers Raceway is 7:10 p.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 4, 2017- Harness racing favored Scott Rocks (Eric Goodell, $4.50) two-moved to happiness Saturday night (Nov. 4th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $50,000 Open Handicap Pace. In play from post position No. 5, Scott Rocks took an early-three hole as pole-sitting The Rev (Jason Bartlett) seated everyone. Not content with the way the chairs were laid out, Scott Rocks made the lead just at a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. After a :56.1 intermission, Gratian Hanover (Brian Sears) tried it first-up from fifth, only to be devoid of pace. That left the outer tier in the hooves of Orillia Joe (Brent Holland), who moved from third going toward the 1:24 three-quarters.. Scott Rocks owned a length lead into the lane, holding off 'Joe' by that same margin in 1:51.4. Third went to Bakersfield (Greg Merton), with The Rev and a returning Mossdale Conner N (Jordan Stratton) settling for the remainder. For Scott Rocks, a 7-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding co-owned by Northfork Racing Stable & Chuck Pompey and trained by Chris Oakes, it was his 10th win in 24 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $16.20, with the triple returning $148. Frank Drucker

Often overlooked when it comes to amateur harness racing is that a good many of the participating drivers are also owners and many race their own stock in the amateur races, especially in the granddaddy of all amateur events, the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series. And furthermore, many of these gentlemen drivers employ professional trainers. Case in point: Longtime owner and sportsman, Dave "The Rave" Offenberg. On Saturday night (Nov. 4) in an east region Billings trot at Yonkers Raceway Offenberg gave his own trotter, Fiji, a picture-perfect drive and they rallied to a 1:59.2 victory over Gonna Fly and driver Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. "I had the four hole and when the starter let us go I grabbed the lead and then surrendered it to Tony Verruso with Flirting Duesy," Offenberg said via telephone. "We were going a pretty good clip (:28.2) so I was content to sit the pocket as Tony's trotter cut the fractions and then up the backside endured a stiff challenge from Steve Oldford's Gonna Fly who eventually gained command and on the final turn and began to pull away. "When we headed for home I had daylight and Fiji proved to be the strong horse in the stretch and we went on to a length victory over Steve's trotter." Flirtin Duesy held on for the show dough. Fiji, a 4 year old Cantab Hall gelding, is owned by Offenberg's Allister Stables and trained by Eric "the Little Redman" Abbatiello. Although he has driven only 10 times this season tonight's triumph was the first of the year for Offenberg. But since he's been participating in amateur racing he had 51 career driving victories. "To me it's just a whole lot of fun being able to drive my own stock," Offenberg said. "If you can't have fun in harness racing you don't belong doing it." by John Manzi for the Billings Series

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 3, 2017 - A sluggish-early Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton $5.70) was in hand late Friday night (Nov. 3rd), winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $50,000 filly and mare Open Handicap Pace. Away slowly from post position No. 4, the Matchmaker champ saw Call Me Queen Be (Mark MacDonald) make the lead around Betabcool N (Eric Goodell) before a 27-second opening quarter-mile. The latter then took over from the former, getting a :56.4 intermission and 1:25.3 three-quarters as She'sjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) tried it first-up from fifth. That move gave 'Mackenzie' a tow, though she was gapping it for much of the backside. Betabcool N maintained a short lead into the lane, but she was about done. Mackenzie A finally received the memo, edging past to win in 1:54.3. Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) raced behind the eventual winner from third-up, chasing her home to miss by three-quarters of a length. She'sjustadelight N, Call Me Queen Be and Lispatty (George Brennan) settled for the remainder, For Mackenzie A, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned by Harry Von Knoblauch Stables & Ellen Kinser and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her third win in 11 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17.60, with the triple (three wagering choices in order) returning $55. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY--Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and Peter "Enough Talk" Kleinshans each won their respective splits in the NAADA Trots tonight, Friday, November 3rd , at Yonkers Raceway. Oldford scored a come-from-behind harness racing triumph with Starsaboverallerage in 2:00.1 while Kleinhans won with Toss Cartwright in an exciting three-horse photo in a time of 2:00.4. Both races were non-wagering affairs and went to post prior to the first race on the betting card. In his division Oldford heeded trainer Allen Sisco's instructions and kept Starsaboverallerage covered as long as possible. "Going to the three quarters I was tight on Alan Schwartz's helmet and followed him and (his trotter) Linda Marie around the final turn and when I popped the (ear) plugs on Starsaboverallerage he exploded," Oldford explained. "My horse moved forward so quickly that I had to butt shuffle my sulky to clear room and when we had an open road he trotted around Monica Banca (with Brandos Muscle Man) and we went on to an easy length victory." Third place went to Wygant Prince, driven by Paul Minore. It was Oldford's first drive in the NAADA events this year although he has been a steady competitor in the Billings Series this year which , by the way, will be on display tomorrow night here at Yonkers Raceway, And after winning that organization's Travel Series Final earlier this season Oldford has already qualified for the $25,000 Billings Series Gold Cup Final which will also be here at Yonkers Raceway in late November. For Oldford,a former National Amateur Driver of the Year, the victory was his 13th this season and the 129th of his amateur driving career. To determine a winner in the second NAADA division wasn't near as easy as it was in the first split when three trotters, and their determined drivers, made an all- out charge to the finish line just heads apart. When the photo finish camera snapped it was determined that Peter "Enough Talk" Kleinhans and Toss Cartwright out-footed their competition to win by a head. Second place, right there, was Fox Valley Steffen and driver "Lady Jennifer" Lappe while the show dough was garnered by the pace-setter Tough Get Going, driven by "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. When the gate sprung Faraldo and Tough Get Going took command and after steady early fractions Tough Get Going was still on the lead as the field rounded the final turn and headed for pay-dirt.They were overtaken momentarily by Fox Valley Steffen, but in the deep stretch Kleinhans and his charge trotted to the front and they were the first to the wire. It was the fourth seasonal triumph for Kleinhans and the 55th of his career. by John Manzi for NAADA

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, October 31, 2017- Halloween brought out the usual array of scary sights, but none quite as horrifying as the creature lurking in Yonkers Raceway's harness racing winner's circle. At first glance, the ghoulish figure appeared to be a better-looking version of bon vivant track photographer Mike Lizzi, though independent confirmation was unavailable. While the face was hideous, we're happy to report that no two- or four-legged creatures were harmed by gazing directly at it, and the 11-race program continued without incident. "I just wanted to get in the 'spirit' of the holiday," Lizzi, or his alter ego, said. A reminder that the Raceway's final Thursday card of the season takes place this week (Nov. 2nd), with a dozen races at the usual first post of 7:10 PM. The other four nights (Monday, Tuesday, Friday [except Nov. 24th] and Saturday [except Nov. 25th]) remain @ 7:10 PM, while Sunday matinees return Nov. 12th (post time for that card is 11:25 AM). Frank Drucker

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