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YONKERS, NY-- Could it be that Joe Pennacchio's victory tonight (Sat. Aug 17) in the $15,000 NAADA Mid-Season Final at Yonkers Raceway not only fortified his stalwart seasonal resume but his 1:57.3 triumph with Cheeky Little Minx elevates him yet closer to a possible National Amateur Driver Award. Enjoying his best season in the sulky the talented amateur driver notched his 13th driving victory this year and that, along with nine seconds and two thirds in 51 starts, elevates his current UDR to a healthy .371. Fresh off a trip to Italy where he was among a foursome that represented the USA against their Italian counterparts, the retired businessman drove his mare like a pro. After starting from the two-hole Pennacchio settled Cheeky Little Minx down along the pylons in the early going and was third when the field passed the first stanza in :28.3 as John Calabrese showed the way with Keenan. Pennacchio then moved his mare first-up approaching the half and by the time they passed the three quarters Cheeky Little Minx had two lengths on her competition and from there she coasted home an easy 3-1/4 length winner over the veteran Wygant Prince and driver Paul Minore. Soul Train and Joe Lee took home the show dough. Keenan faded and finished fifth. It was the eighth seasonal triumph for Cheeky Little Minx, a 6 year-old daughter of Lucky Chucky who raised her seasonal bankroll to over $40,000. She is owned by Joe P Racing LLC and trained by Allen Sisco. For Pennacchio, a retired business executive, it was his 175th driving victory since he joined the amateur movement back in 1995. by John Manzi, for NAADA

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 17, 2018-Yonkers Raceway's Sunday matinee this weekend (Aug.19th) shall offer a first post of 12:35 PM. Races 1 through 4 go as those overflow-field, mile-and-a-quarter 'French' trots, with those post times at 12:35 PM, 1:05 PM, 1:35 PM and 2:05 PM. The 12th-race finale is scheduled for 4:40 PM. Sunday's 'New York, New York Double' races consist of the opener from Saratoga (post time 1 PM) and the third from Yonkers (post time 1:35 PM). Program pages accompany this release. . After this weekend, the next Sunday matinee is August 26th (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – When the group of 22 French trotters arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport in June, trainer Mark Ford was responsible for picking up six of them and transporting them home. While he was unsure what to expect from the batch of foreign horses, their easy temperaments came as a surprise. “They all just walked right out of quarantine and walked right off the trailer just like they were supposed to,” Ford said. “They’re very docile, well-mannered, and good at traveling. It was a pleasant little surprise. I didn’t expect it would be that good of a bunch.” Although Ford was initially skeptical of the idea behind the French American Trotting Club, which sought to bring a large group of French trotters to the United States to compete in a rich series at Yonkers Raceway, the trainer has been impressed by how the project came together. Ford commended Ron Burke, Ray Schnittker, and Mike Lachance for traveling overseas to select the horses. “You’ve got to do your part. It’s an experiment; everyone should do their part and give it a try,” Ford said. “I was a little surprised at how many decent horses came out of there and maybe they will be good enough to race during the winter time. “I think it’s a great idea. You’re stirring things up and trying to get rid of the same thing day after day after day,” he continued. “It was a lot of work for those guys to go over there in the middle of stakes season to do that and I think we all owe them a thank you. That was no easy task and every one that came over, for the most part, people have been very happy with.” Ford and owners George and Rose Bonomo drew 10-year-old Kaiser Soze son Undici. The veteran was 7-for-105 with $396,611 in earnings when he arrived. While his last win came March 30, 2014 in a 22,000€ overnight going 2,800 meters at Chartres, Undici has had plenty of placings since then, 25 overall in his career.  Ford made several changes to Undici’s equipment to help the trotter adapt to the American style of racing. He added hopples and a pole on the advice of Nicolas Roussel, one of Undici’s former trainers. “I don’t have anything to base it off. I don’t know how he was over there, but (Nicolas Roussel) sent us an email and said if you put the hopples on him, he’d be a lot better. You can’t wear poles over there either, so we put a pole on him. He needed a little bit of time to learn how to wear his rigging,” Ford said. Despite the equipment adjustments, Undici’s gait makes it a challenge to compete on the half-mile track. In four local starts so far, the gelding has two sixth-place finishes, a fifth, and a second. “He’d probably be a little better on a bigger track, but they don’t race on a bigger track at Yonkers,” Ford said. “He’ll touch a knee and bounce off a shin. He’s not real great-gaited and you have to be a little careful with him. He’s not a really big, robust, fast horse, but he’s ok.” Undici has spotted the field at least 11 lengths in all his local starts except for in the first leg of the series August 5. Undici got away fifth from the second tier in that start and moved first-over on heavy favorite Ursis Des Caillons with five-eighths to race. Undici sustained his bid, finishing a clear second to the favorite. The grinding style suits Undici, Ford says. “I think he just sort of plods along and it depends on what the other ones do. He goes one speed and if they come back to him, I think he’ll finish up good,” Ford explained. “I don’t think he’s the kind of horse where, if they walk around there and sprint real fast, he doesn’t have any speed. He just plods along.” Undici’s plodding style could be better-suited to the second leg of the series this Sunday (August 19), which will go 12 furlongs, two more than the $35,000 first leg. Undici drew post three in the first division, which will see him face Ursis Des Caillons, Barry Black, Adagio de la Tour, Very Very Fast, Alpha d’Urzy, Bioness, and Boldie de Nuit. Undici is 12-1 on the morning line with Steve Smith in the sulky. “I’d much rather have been in the other division,” Ford said. “I hate that mile-and-a-half stuff. I don’t think we’ve ever got a check in any of those mile-and-a-half races, but it probably will help him rather than hurt him because he doesn’t get away good and just sort of plods along. It seems like he can go six quarters in 30 seconds.”  Sunday’s card at Yonkers also features a second division of the series and a $44,000 Open Handicap Trot going one-mile. First post time is 12:35 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, August 16, 2018-When driver changes were finalized for Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night (Aug. 18th) program, one name stood out amongst the rank of file. The 10-time New Zealand premiership driving champion finds himself with a pair of escorts, Pointomygranson (post position No. 3) for trainer Chris Ryder in the $23,000, third-race pace, and Quick Asa Trick N (post No. 7), trained by Darran Cassar, in the $23,000, ninth-race pace. Down Under connections are obvious, with Ryder a Kiwi and Cassar from Australia. Dunn, who turns 29 next month, won the 2015 World Driving Championship, held in Australia. He visited Yonkers-going 0-for-4-when the biennial event was stateside four years earlier. Dunn last drove in North America in 2017 as Canada hosted the competition. After some pesky passport issues, Dunn arrived in New Jersey, with Ryder serving as 'point man' for the excursion. "It's a three-year visa, but I don't have a return (to New Zealand) date," Dunn said, adding, "There's no plan. I'm just going to see how it works out." "When Pointomygranson wins off the screen, everyone is going to see how good Dexter is," Ryder said...without guaranteeing that result. Asked to describe his compatriot, Ryder was effusive. "He's just the right guy for the job, young but with a lot of experience. I've seen him get results from good horses and difficult ones. "The (driving) style between here and New Zealand is not as different as it used to be," Ryder said. "New Zealand racing his improved, so it's always about getting into the right position." The bulk of Dunn's Down Under small-track experience has been over three-turn, five-eighths-mile ovals, so Westchester's 'rustic' half-mile figures to provide a different challenge. "There are a lot of good drivers here, but I think he can adapt as well as anyone can," Ryder said. Dunn's lasting Yonkers Raceway impression from his first go-round? "Eight-holes stink." The guy's a quick study. Post time for Saturday's dozen-race card is the usual 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, August 13, 2018 - The first-season statebred lasses hit town Monday night (Aug. 13th), plying Yonkers Raceway's $157,000 New York Sire Stakes Pat Quaglietta Trot for harness racing 2-year-old fillies. 'Twas a night for the favorites over the sloppy surface. Perfect plebe Winndevie (Trond Smedshammer, $3.40) made it 5-for-5 in the opening ($52,000) event, putting away leading (:29.1, 1:00.3, 1:30.3) Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) late. Winndevie, from post position No. 3, then whipped that rival by a couple of lengths in 1:59. Hanna Dreamgirl (Tim Tetrick) was third. For Winndevie, a daughter of Credit Winner owned by Purple Haze Stable and trained by her driver, she won both of her local tries. The exacta paid $6.30, the triple returned $10.60 and the superfecta (Hot Chapter [Andy Miller]) paid $23.80. "I don't know what else to say? She's 5-for-5," Smedshammer said. Indeed. The evening's second ($53,000) division saw Amal Hall (Miller, $2.60)-from post No. 4--settle early, move the lead before the half, then barely hold off With Out a Doubt (Tim Tetrick) by a desperate nose (:28.4, :59.3; 1:28.4, life-best 1:58.4). Thanks for Leaving (catch-driver Jordan Stratton) was a pocket third, with Blue Prayer (Dan Daley) fourth. For Amal Hall, a Credit Winner miss co-owned by her driver, Gty Stable & Dumain Haven Farm and trained by Mrs. (Julie) Miller, she won three (with three seconds) in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $5.80, the triple (three wagering choices in order) returned $10.60 and the superfecta paid $41.80. "She's just a handy, half-mile (track) horse who does her job," Miller the driver said. The final ($52,000) sire stakes division saw the original six-pack pared to a barbershop quartet, as two of the ladies came up ill. Pole-sitting Conway Kellyanne (Charlie Norris, $2.90) had no issues at all (:29.1, 59.1, 1:29.4, 2:00.1). She disposed of a pocket Julamay Mass (Miller) by a length-and-a-half, while an out-the-mile Sweet Chapter (Mark MacDonald) was third. Qiss Me Blue Chip (Scott Zeron) lagged, broke and was a distanced fourth. For Conway Kellyanne, a daughter of Conway Hall (stunner) trained by her driver for co-owners Carrie Norris, Acadia Farms and G&B Racing, she's now won three of her five seasonal efforts. The exacta paid $13, with triple and superfecta wagering cancelled due to the short field. When first/last seen here, Conway Kellyane won at a $40.20 mutuel. "She going to stay with the sire stakes," Charlie Norris said. "She fits in with them." Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, August 12, 2018--Odds-on favorite Guardian Angel AS (Jason Bartlett, $3.60) dusted 'em from first-over Sunday afternoon (Aug. 12th), winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $44,000 Open Handicap Trot in track record time.. The weekly harness racing trotting feature went at the flat mile, directly after the four mile-and-a-quarter 'French' races. Away fifth from post position No. 4, the people's preference watched as lass NF Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.) made the first lead. He then gave way to Mosinterestingman (Jordan Stratton) at the :27:1 opening quarter-mile. The one found a :56.3 intermission as Guardian Angel AS was out and moving. He engaged the leader in earnest by the 1:25.2 three-quarters, putting him away early in the lane. Guardian Angel AS widened the margin to 2¾ lengths in 1:53.4...a track record for his weight class. It was Mosinterestingman holding second, with In Secret (George Brennan), Homicide Hunter (Brian Sears) and NF Happenstance rounding out the payees. For Guardian Angel AS, a 4-year-old son of Archangel co-owned by ACL Stuteri AB & Kjell Johansson and trained by Anette Lorentzon, it was his fifth win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $16.20, the triple returned $68.50 and the superfecta paid $164.50. Sunday's incarnation of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 4-Take Notice (Saratoga's 1st race) and 1-Kennel Buddy (Yonkers' 3rd race), returning $12.70 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $6,867. The next Sunday matinee is Aug. 19th (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 11, 2018-Veteran Great Vintage (Mark MacDonald, $9) finished what he started Saturday night (Aug. 11th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. Using his usual gate speed, Great Vintage-from post position No. 5-threw down intervals of :27.1, :56.4, 1:24.2 and 1:52.2. He held off a first-up McErlean (Brent Holland) by a head, with 3-2 favorite Always at My Place (George Brennan a second-over third. Pacing Major N (Austin Siegelman) and Doctor Butch (Jason Bartlett) came away with the minors, while logical would-be favorite Evenin 'of Pleasure was scratched-sick. For third choice Great Vintage, a 10-year-old son of American Ideal owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg & Goran Falk and trained by Jimmy Takter, it was his fifth win in 13 seasonal starts (career 45-for-161, earnings over $1.26 million). The exacta paid $102.50, the triple returned $402 and the superfecta paid $636. It was one of MacDonald's four wins during the 11-race card. Sunday's (Aug. 12th) matinee has a first post of 12:40 PM, with races 1 through 4 of the overflow-field, mile-and-a-quarter 'French' theme. The 'New York, New York Double' is comprised of Saratoga's first race and Yonkers' third. Post times are 1 PM and 1:40 PM, respectively. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Sunday afternoon’s (Aug. 12th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $4,979.96 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 (if 11 or less races, the gimmick is the last five races on the card). It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Saturday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Sunday‘s program may be downloaded at First post Sunday is 12:40 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 10, 2018- It was an outside post, two-speed number Friday night (Aug. 10th), with Caviart Cherie (Jason Bartlett, $8.70) winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Outleaving her six inside foes, Caviart Cherie made an easy lead, pocketing eight-holer Magic Forces (George Brennan) and setting soft early intervals of :28 of :57.3. Rockstar Angel A (Eric Goodell) tried it first-up from fourth, going nowhere fast. That took out any semblance of an outer flow, including tepid 2-1 favorite Delightfulmemphisn (Dan Dube). Meanwhile, Caviart Cherie remained the leader in and out of a 1:25 three-quarters, taking a length-and-a-half lead off the final turn. She held sway, whipping an angling-out Magic Forces by a half-length in 1:53. Vorst (Brent Holland), Change the Rulz N (Mark MacDonald) and Made of Jewels AS (Joe Bongiorno)-none of whom left the cones-completed the cashers. For third choice Caviart Cherie, a 4-year-old daughter of Well Said owned by Joe P Racing and trained by William Adamczyk, it was her 11th win in in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $78.50, the triple returned $423.50 and the superfecta paid $4,304. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway      

YONKERS, N.Y. – Although Delightful Memphis arrived in the United States less than two months ago, the Australian mare has already posted a pair of impressive miles for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman. Friday (August 10), she’ll take her first shot in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway. Norman discovered Delightful Memphis while on a trip to Australia earlier this year. In the care of Mark Jones, the Bettor’s Delight mare had shown talent, winning two Group 3 stakes to begin her career and placing in another seven Group 1 or 2 stakes, including four runner-up finishes to the Purdon and Rasmussen star Spanish Armada. However, bleeding issues prevented Delightful Memphis from achieving her full potential in the Lasix-free jurisdiction. “I knew a lot about her. A friend of mine down there trained her and he told me about her,” Norman said. “I was down there on vacation over the New Year and he said she’d been bleeding a little bit and I thought she’d probably be better off up here. It was just a matter of getting it organized. She’s a good mare at home and she looks like she’s going to fit in pretty good around here too.” Delightful Memphis raced just a week before flying to the United States, finishing second in an overnight at Menangle. Despite the drastic change in seasons, she arrived in Norman’s stable fit and ready. “I think (the weather) is more drastic this time of year because they’re coming out of the winter into the summer and they’ve got their winter coat. It’s much more drastic this time of year,” Norman said. “This time of the year, with the weather, it’s probably best just to keep them racing well than try and lay them up. She had a pretty good winter coat, but we just clipped her up and she’s filled out real good and she’s a pretty nice mare. “They often get sick just because of the heat,” he continued. “So far so good, but you’ll see a lot of New Zealand and Australian horses getting stressed this time of year for that reason. So far so good, but I won’t be surprised if she does get a little sick at some stage.” Norman qualified Delightful Memphis July 14 at the Meadowlands. The 5-year-old September 28 foal got away in fifth and closed with a :27.1 final quarter to finish third in a 1:52 clocking. It was her first pari-mutuel start the following week however, that surprised Norman.  Delightful Memphis made her debut July 20 in a $17,500 overnight at the Swamp. She raced last of seven past the half 8 ¼ lengths behind leader Call Me Queen Bee. While the outer flow developed around the final turn, driver Brett Miller stayed inside, but laid flat in the sulky as his mare raged with pace.  Delightful Memphis tossed her head in behind horses, but as Miller found a seam along the pylons, he kicked out the plugs and let Delightful Memphis advance. Taking a few peeks at his left wheel in deep stretch, Miller ensured he didn’t go inside the pylons in the tight space and Delightful Memphis streaked past rival Monica Gallagher to finish third. She came home with a :25.1 final quarter and paced her mile in 1:51.2. “She was in good shape and she was good and fit and everything. She was nice and strong finishing, that was all I was looking for. I didn’t really want to go that quick. She was nice and handy doing it,” Norman said of the qualifier. “The bigger shock was when I raced her at the Meadowlands and she paced home in :25.1. That’s just ridiculous and Brett Miller said to me after, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever come home in :25.1 with a horse before and be that strong.’ She was dynamite.” Delightful Memphis won her last start at Harrah’s Philadelphia July 27, coming from off the pace to score by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:51.2. “She raced really good at Chester and had lots of pace finishing there too,” her trainer said. “That’s all I’m really looking for is just to get some good solid starts into her, get some foundation, and have her finishing up strong at the wire.” Delightful Memphis will make her first local start in Friday’s distaff feature. Dan Dube will drive in the $44,000 pace and the pair are a 6-1 morning line chance after being assigned post three. Caviart Cherie is a lukewarm 7-2 favorite off consecutive second place finishes in this class, but drew post seven. The field also features Made Of Jewels As, who won this feature July 27 and drew post six, and Rockstar Angel, who will make her third start on American soil for Chris Oakes. Vorst, Keystone Wanda, Change The Rulz, and Magic Forces complete the lineup. “She fit non-winners of $30,000; that’s where I entered her and it obviously didn’t fill, so they put her in there. It’s an open purse, I like that part,” Norman said. “I think she’ll be competitive. I think there’s another foreign mare in there that’s pretty good.” Although Norman knows Delightful Memphis can show speed – she has done so many times in Australia and New Zealand – he is content to continue racing her from behind at this stage of her stateside career as a protective measure. While this will be her first start on a half-mile track, he is confident Delightful Memphis will handle the turns. “I’ve seen her leave the gate good down home, I’ve seen her race on the front quite a bit,” he said. “She was bleeding a little bit down there, so I just didn’t want to put her in that situation where she’s on the front and getting run over or getting run down. We’ll try her like that for a little while and see how she handles it. “I think she’s really going to fit in good here in America,” he continued. “I think she could be a legitimate open mare. This will be her first time half-mile track. That will be a bit of a challenge maybe, but she seems to steer really good, so I don’t think it will be too bad. We train on a five-eighths, but she gets around it good.” First post time Friday is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, August 7, 2018-New York Sire Stakes welcomed all sorts of ladies downstate Tuesday night (Aug. 7th), with Yonkers Raceway's hosting the $166,499 Mike Cipriani Trot for 3-year-old fillies. The race(s) again honored the memory of the Raceway's long-time, award-winning photographer. A five-horse, $54,833 pre-card sire stakes non-bettor was won by a stubborn, down-the-road Natalie Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr.) in 1:56.3. Soon thereafter, Mother Nature decided to chime in, with a lightning storm delaying the dossier between the first and second races. Tuesday's first (second programmed) event ($55,833) saw pole-sitting Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller. $10.60) retake from Ciao Dolce (Dan Dube), then dismiss 3-10 favorite Lima Novelty (Scott Zeron) en route to a handy-and sloppy---1:55.2 effort. It was early intervals of :28.2, :57.3 and 1:27 before 'Riley' opened a pair of lengths into the lane. She widened to 4½ lengths at the wire, with Ciao Dolce second, Lima Novelty a tiring third and Pune Bush Rose (Jordan Stratton) fourth. For second choice Supergirl Riley, a daughter of Muscle Mass co-owned by Paymaq Racing, George Golemes & Harvey Eisman and trained by Erv Miller, it was her first win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $32.20, the triple returned $84.50 and the superfecta paid $288.50. "She's just starting to find her stride," Miller the driver said. The $55,833 second 'carded' division-third and final-of the Cipriani saw defending statebred champ Lucky Ava (Dube, $3) have five outclassed rivals chasing in vain. From the pole, she retook from Mooshka Stride (Brennnan), then finished it off with no discomfort (:28.2, :59, 1:28.1, 1:56.3). The final margin over Mooshka Stride was 2¾ lengths, with Tribute to Seven (Zeron) a first-up third. Special Miss (Steve Smith) was fourth. For Lucky Ava, a Lucky Chucky miss co-owned by (trainer) Ake Svanstedt, Little E LLC and Van Camp Trotting), she has five wins and three seconds in nine '18 tries. The exacta paid $19, the triple retuned $48 and the superfecta paid $167.50. New York Sire Stakes return here Monday night (Aug. 13th), with the $157,000 Pat Quaglietta Trot for 2-year-olf fillies. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, August 7, 2018-Yonkers Raceway's Sunday matinee this weekend (Aug.12th) shall offer a first post of 12:40 PM. Races 1 through 4 go as those overflow-field, mile-and-a-quarter 'French' trots, with those post times at 12:40 PM, 1:10 PM, 1:40 PM and 2:10 PM. Final post time shall be determined later this afternoon, based upon the number of races. Sunday's 'New York, New York Double' races (one from Saratoga, one from Yonkers) are TBA as of this writing. Updates provided when available. After this weekend, the next Sunday matinee is August 19th (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Monday, August 6, 2018--The New York Sire Stakes roadshow changes its downstate cast of characters Tuesday night (Aug. 7th), with Yonkers Raceway's hosting the $166,499 Mike Cipriani Trot for 3-year-old fillies. The race(s) again honor the memory of the Raceway's long-time, award-winning photographer. Post time for the 12-race wagering card is the usual 6:50 PM, though the first ($54,833) of the sire stakes goes as the last of the four pre-program non-bettors (beginning at 5:30 PM). Tuesday's first (second programmed) event ($55,833) is the sixth race, including Lima Novelty (Scott Zeron, post 4) returning to the Empire. The daughter of Chapter Seven, owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, is 4-for-6 since adding the straps, all the wins in statebred competition. Overall, she's 4-for-9 this season ($97,394). Ciao Dolce (Ake Svandtedt, post 2) chased Lima Novelty around Vernon in her last try, part of a symmetrical (eight starts, two wins, two seconds, two thirds) seasonal worksheet. The second 'carded' division--third and final--of the Cipriani ($55,833) goes as the eighth race, with defending statebred champ Lucky Ava (Svanstedt) winning the draw among the half-dozen. The daughter of Lucky Chucky has offered up another solid season, as in four wins and three seconds in eight starts ($107,618). Svanstedt co-owns (with Little E LLC and Van Camp Trotting) and trains the lass, who's won half of her 18 career starts ($311,214). Tribute to Seven (Scott Zeron, post 2) is thrice a winner this season, hitting the board in all but one of her seven tries, while Dew to Win (Trond Smedshammer, post 5) blew away a sire stakes field at Monticello as part of her resume. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, August 5, 2018--Favored Mostinterestingman (Jordan Stratton, $4.40) was the third and last leader Sunday afternoon (Aug. 5th), winning Yonkers Raceway's featured $54,800 Open Handicap Trot. The weekly trotting feature went as the early-PM opener, the first of a 10-race, all-trot card. Nine of 'em were at the overflow field, mile-and-a-quarter 'French' theme. Away alertly from post position No. 6, Mostinterestingman has to wait his turn. Inside rivals Fashion Creditor (Andy Miller) left, as did lass NF Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.) It was after a 28-second opening quarter-mile that Mostinterestingman made the lead from the mare. He then found a :56.2 half and 1:25.3 three-quarters with the other ma'am, longshot Weslynn Dancer (Jason Bartlett) fighting the first-over fight. The 44-1 prompter hung in there while Mostinterestinman found a 1:54.2 milepost. He owned a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane, with NF Happenstance angling out. That one couldn't reach, as Mostinterestingman prevailed by a length-and-three-quarters, getting the added distance in 2:24.1 Fashion Creditor, who left the cones, offered a solid close to get third, with Cash Me out (Jim Maroh Jr.) and Such an Angel (Brian Sears) coming away with the minors. For Mostinterestingman, a 5-year-old Manofmanymissions co-owned by (trainer) Ricky Bucci and Richard Solano, it was his sixth win in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $26, the triple returned $108 and the superfecta paid $393.50. Sunday's card also featured the opening round for the French-American Trotting Club Series. A pair of $35,000 events for French-bred trotters that were purchased by 'local' interests. The first event went to a down-the-road Alpha D'Urzy (Brent Holland, $12.20) in 2:26.4, his fourth win in as many North American starts. "I did get lucky with this one," co-owner/trainer Rene Allard said. "He seemed to acclimate well, better than many of Australian and New Zealand horses that have come to me. He doesn't wear much and he gets over these tracks." The second Club event saw odds-on Ursis Des Caillons (Joe Bongiorno, $3.40) draw away from Undici (Steve Smith) in 2:26.2. "Good manners and quick-footed," Bongiorno said. "He opened up easily and I never took the ear plugs out." Sunday's latest installment of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 5-Into Mystic (Saratoga's 1st race, [winner for parimutuel purposes]) and 6-Ursis Des Caillons (Yonkers' 3rd race), returning $16.20 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $4,415. The next Sunday matinee is Aug. 12th (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 4, 2018 - Always at My Place (George Brennan, $12.80) finished what he started Saturday night (Aug. 4th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. Away alertly from assigned post position No. 6, Always at My Place worked around Doctor Butch (Jason Bartlett), making the lead before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. He then pilfered a 29-second next subsection (:56.1 intermission), which would serve him well. While this was transpiring, 3-10 choice Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) had slipped in fourth from his remanded outside seven-hole. He was then second-over behind Robbie Burns N (Greg Merton). Unfortunately for the people's preference, that tow didn't help and Evenin' of Pleasure was three-deep into a :26.4 third quarter (1:23). All the while, Always at My Place owned a length-and-quarter lead into the lane. Doctor Butch slipped off the cones, Pacing Major N (Jordan Stratton) advanced inside and Evenin' of Pleasure was trying to sustain his bid. He couldn't. In fact, no one could as Always at My Place prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.3, matching his season's-best effort. Doctor Butch was second and Pacing Major N third, with Evenin' of Pleasure and Barimah A (Brent Holland) settling for the minors. For second choice Always at My Place, a 7-year-old Always a Virgin gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura, it was her fifth win 42nd career) in 17 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $155, the triple returned $489 and the superfecta paid $2,661. Sunday's (Aug. 5th) 'French' matinee offers a first post of 12:30 PM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Ed Gannon, Jr. picked up his French trotter Ubanji in June, the harness racing horse seemed unassuming enough. A nice-looking, well-built, long-bodied trotter, Ubanji made a good first impression on his new trainer. However, after spending a few days turned out at Gannon’s 60-acre farm, Ubanji made his first trip to the track and it became clear he would not be a straightforward horse. “We took him home on a Saturday, turned him out till Monday, we jogged him on Tuesday for the first time, not knowing what to expect,” Gannon said. “He was very aggressive on the track, very aggressive. I thought maybe it was because it was the first day, the horse had just shipped to the country, a lot going on, change of venue and maybe he just needed a couple days and he would settle down. It wasn’t to be. He got worse.” Later in that week, Ubanji was uncontrollable in his morning jog, running away with his driver. Gannon consulted with a few of the other trainers who received French horses and reflected on his own experience as a trainer. He formulated a plan to get Ubanji to settle. “This is what we have to work with, do the best we can,” he said. “The first week or two, it was a little disheartening because I had this horse you really couldn’t control.” Gannon tried making several equipment changes to make Ubanji more manageable. First, he put an overcheck on the gelding, but that made him worse. He tried different driving bits and lip cords, but Ubanji rejected them. Finally, Gannon found a bit that worked for the horse. Gannon then had to teach Ubanji to trot for speed instead of distance and to slow down after a mile or 10 furlongs. As Ubanji was accustomed to racing 2,700 meters or more in France, it was a learning experience for the 10-year-old. Unlike most standardbreds, who jog clockwise around the track and race counterclockwise, Gannon jogged Ubanji counterclockwise to teach the horse to settle. “I found over the years with mine, that if I jogged them the right way around the track, it teaches them that they don’t have to go fast all the time and it enables me to teach them control,” Gannon explained. “I’ve had very good luck with that. We’ve had some real doozeys that when you turn them the right way around the track, they would just go a thousand off the bat. Doing this, it teaches them not to feel like, ‘oh, I’m going this direction, it’s all out. “I was doing that for two weeks and then I started incorporating training in new speeds where I would go a half-mile, then speed him up for a half-mile, then slow him down,” Gannon continued. “Then I could start working with him that way and within two weeks, we had him where we had control of him.” With Gannon able to control the trotter, he then turned to fitness. Ubanji had raced only three times in 2018 before shipping across the Atlantic, the most recent of which came at Laval April 26. Gannon incorporated training miles into the son of Jag de Bellouet’s routine and brought him to the training track at Harrington Raceway for a test; Ubanji had been training on a private farm with only six other horses on the track at a given time. Gannon needed to see how the trotter would handle more traffic and noise. “I actually started carrying a watch, because I didn’t know what shape he was in only having three starts all year. That was another thing, trying to figure out what kind of condition was the horse actually in,” Gannon said. “We got him to where I thought he was in shape enough to go to the track. We took him to Harrington and I trained him on the back track because I wanted to see how he was going to be with a lot more horses and see how he handled. He wasn’t too bad. I trained him in 2:02 at Harrington on the back track and he was very controllable, and he was better. I was very surprised.” Ubanji qualified with Andrew McCarthy in the sulky at Harrah’s Philadelphia July 17. He went straight to the lead and finished second, trotting his mile in 1:55.3 with a :29.3 final quarter. His connections were pleased. “Andrew McCarthy drove him in the qualifier and I didn’t know what to expect with the gate,” Gannon said. “Andrew is a good driver and he said, ‘let’s put him right on the gate and see what happens. If he’s snaky or squirrely, I’ll go from there,’ and he did a great job with him.” Ubanji made his par-mutuel debut eight days later in an $11,000 overnight at Harrah’s. Racing with Lasix for the first time, the gelding again went to the top and this time, he stayed there. He posted a 1 ¼-length win in 1:55.1 for new owner Frank Canzone. The victory improved his record to 10 wins from 102 starts with another 12 seconds and 10 thirds. He boasts earnings of $326,196. “I put him on Lasix after the qualifier because we scoped him and it showed that he was bleeding. We thought with the addition of Lasix, maybe that would help calm him down a little bit more and maybe help with the bleeding issues,” Gannon explained. “It was a perfect race for him. He was very comfortable in the mile. Andrew was happy with him, he seemed better to drive that week than in the qualifier. He said he actually drove really good. That was a lot of positives and to win was an even greater positive.” Ubanji drew post two for driver Mark MacDonald in the first division of the French American Trotting Club Sunday afternoon at Yonkers. He’ll face nine rivals in the $35,000 split, including Bioness, who drew the rail off a 1:54.3 score at Pocono last out, Deo, who won his local debut July 2 before making a break in his most recent start, and Alpha d’Urzy, who is 3-for-3 in the U.S. for trainer Rene Allard. Barry Black, Uhlan Noir, Boss du Fosse, Adagio de la Tour, Aigle de la Vallee, and Bolide de Buit complete the lineup. “It would just be nice to be up near the front,” Gannon said. “I think my horse, if he gets around the first turn without any difficulty because everyone is going to be jockeying for position, I think after that he’ll drive fine and I think he’ll be competitive. It’s a tough division; of the two divisions, it’s definitely the best one. “I’m excited, a little nervous not knowing what to expect, but I’m excited at the same time,” he continued. “It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. I think the first week is definitely going to be the toughest because no one knows what to expect from the other horses.” Sunday’s card also features a $54,800 Open Handicap Trot in the first race and another division of the French American Trotting Club in race three. First post time for the all-trot card is 12:30 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. The second and third legs of the French American Trotting Club series will be held August 19 and 26, respectively and the $100,000 final is set for September 2. For more information, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, August 3, 2018-Favored Newborn Sassy (Jordan Stratton, $4) rated her rivals into submission Friday night (Aug. 3rd), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Away alertly from assigned post position No. 5, Newborn Sassy worked around Caviart Cherie, making the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. She then pilfered a :29.2 second quarter (:57.1 intermission), effectively ending the melodrama. Agent Q (birthday boy [45] Eric Goodell) tried it first-up third from third, speeding up the sojourn but never getting close in and out of a 1:24.3 three-quarters. With that foe dispensed, Newborn Sassy opened a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane. She then beat the other ladies up, widening to 3¾ lengths at the 1:52.3 wire. Second went to Caviart Cherie, with a third-over Magic Forces (George Brennan) third. Bronze Over N (Dan Dube) and Made of Jewel AS (Joe Bongiorno) settled for the minors. For Newborn Sassy, a 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal owned by CC Racing & Joann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her sixth win in in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $16.20, the triple returned $122.50 and the superfecta paid $657. Note the Raceway shall open earlier (11:30 AM) for Saturday (Aug. 4th) simulcasting in advance of early post times from the Meadowlands (Hambletonian), the Meadows and Gulfstream. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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