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Richard Poillucci is looking forward to watching his New Zealand-bred standout Shartin return to action this season and the 6-year-old Dan Patch Award-winning mare has a new stablemate that Poillucci hopes can keep her company on the stakes trail. Shartin hit the racetrack for the first time this year on Wednesday (Feb. 13) at Dover Downs, winning a qualifier in 1:56 as she prepares to defend her title in the upcoming Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway. Expected to join Shartin in the series is New Zealand-bred Bettor Joy, who was purchased in December from the Down Under stable of Cran Dalgety and is owned by Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. Bettor Joy, who is a dathe difference in breeding seasons, Bettor Joy, who was born in October 2014, is considered a 5-year-old in North America as opposed to a 4-year-old in New Zealand. Shartin, also owned by Poillucci and Looney-King, and Bettor Joy could provide their owners and trainer Jim King Jr. a strong one-two punch in the pacing mare division. "That's what we hope for, but you never know," Poillucci said. "Bettor Joy is a real good mare. She is just getting started. She raced once at Dover and came up sick on us and finished fourth. We'll probably race her again next week. We're looking for big things from her." Of course, Poillucci also is looking for big things from Shartin. Last year, she became the first pacing mare to earn $1 million in a season, finishing with $1.05 million thanks to 19 wins in 24 races. Her victories included the Breeders Crown, Roses Are Red, Lady Liberty, Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship, TVG Series Mare championship, Artiscape, Betsy Ross Invitational, Chip Noble Memorial, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. In December, she was named the sport's best older female pacer of 2018 and joined Hall of Famer Cardigan Bay as a "Down Under" import to receive a Dan Patch Award. Cardigan Bay, also from New Zealand, was a two-time honoree (1965 and 1968). Shartin's connections will accept her Dan Patch Award at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando on Feb. 24. The mare remains a top contender for Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year, which both will be announced at the banquet. "It was amazing, absolutely amazing," Poillucci said about Shartin's season. "Looking back at what she did, it's surreal trying to take it all in. You know how many people start out in January with horses and to end up the year with a mare that could stay as good as she stayed all year long is mindboggling. She's just a very special mare. If all goes well, I can't see why she can't come back this year and be a top contender again. There is no reason." Shartin can be a tricky horse to drive, so Poillucci gives credit to Tim Tetrick for playing an integral part in the mare's success. Tetrick has been Shartin's only driver in North America. "Jim King does a tremendous job as a trainer, but the key is Tim Tetrick," Poillucci said. "Timmy took the time to understand her and learned how to drive her. When she goes to the gate, he really has to work with her. She's aggressive. She's not a mean horse by any means, but when you put her behind the gate she just wants to roll. She just wants to go. Those few bobbles she made last year, those were her trying to outpace herself." The 2018 season was Shartin's first in North America. Poillucci hopes the mare can build upon last year's performances now that she has become more mature and acclimated to racing here. "I'm not saying that is going to happen, but that's what you would think," Poillucci said. "We're definitely in the hunt for a good year. I think it can happen. They said she was absolutely just running over horses (in her qualifier). That's a good sign. She doesn't like time off. She wants to race, that's her thing. "I know it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (to have a horse like her). They don't come along very often like this. I may have a couple of very good ones behind her and I'm hoping for good things, but to say they can do what she does, that's a tough act to follow. It's very rare to find a mare that can do what she does." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

New Zealand-bred star Bit Of A Legend is ready to make his 2019 debut in Saturday's (Feb. 16) $44,000 Open Handicap at Yonkers Raceway and trainer Peter Tritton says the 10-year-old stallion looks as good as ever. Last year, Bit Of A Legend won five of 21 races, finished second seven times, and earned $549,315. His victories included the Battle of Lake Erie in a career-best 1:49.4 around Northfield Park's half-mile oval and he was runner-up in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series championship, Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial, and Dan Rooney Invitational. Since arriving in the U.S. in 2016, Bit Of A Legend has won 26 of 77 races and earned $1.79 million. Other top wins include the Gerrity, Bobby Quillen Memorial, and Molson Pace in 2017 and the 2016 Levy championship. "To me, he seems to be coming up every bit as good as he did last year and the year before," said Tritton, who trains Bit Of A Legend for Vonknoblauch Stable LLC. "He's probably a little more forward this year than he was last year. We gave him a month off, but we couldn't give him much more because he got too full of himself. But he had a really good break. I'm very happy with where he is at the moment." Bit Of A Legend, driven regularly by Jordan Stratton, is a son of Bettor's Delight out of Soky's Legend. He was a two-time Australasian Breeders Crown champion Down Under, where he won 20 times and earned $659,686, giving him lifetime earnings of $2.45 million. Tritton will use the next month to prep Bit Of A Legend for the Levy Series, which begins March 16 at Yonkers. The series consists of five preliminary rounds followed by a $200,000-added final on April 20. "With any luck through the series he should be right there," Tritton said. "We'll give him one or two more runs before the (preliminary rounds). The beauty of him is that he can go right through without a break. He enjoys his work and Jordan looks after him pretty good. "I just hope we can get through the series and get to the final and draw good. I thought he could have won the last couple if he had drawn better, but he drew the outside both times. It's hard to win those finals from the outside." Tritton is planning to keep Bit Of A Legend on a schedule similar to previous years, although he might not stake the stallion to events on bigger tracks. Bit Of A Legend is winless in eight starts on tracks larger than a half, with two on-the-board finishes. "He can go around the big tracks, but he's so slick on a half and can get around those corners so quick," Tritton said. "I think he loses his advantage on the big tracks, where some of them gain an advantage." Bit Of A Legend is one of 10 horses in Tritton's stable. Three other New Zealand-breds could compete in series action at Yonkers, with Pacing Major pointed toward the Levy and mares Sell A Bit and Shezza GNP penciled in for the Blue Chip Matchmaker. "Pacing Major is not as good as Legend, but he's a good racehorse," Tritton said. "With the right trip he can go (1):51 around Yonkers. He's done it a couple of times. I think he'll acquit himself quite well. "In the Matchmaker, I'll run Shezza GNP. She's probably not good enough to win, but she'll be right there. She can go with those mares. I may run Sell A Bit. She's qualifying on Friday. She's getting close to a million dollars. I'd love to get her to a million dollars. I think I might give her another shot at it. "We'll keep our fingers crossed. We just need a bit of luck." For Saturday's complete Yonkers entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, February 12, 2019--Yonkers Raceway's first seasonal deadline for series nominations is right around the corner. Blue Chip Matchmaker, George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, Petticoat and Sagamore Hill Pacing Series all close this Friday (Feb. 15th). Forms are available in the nightly racing program, on-line at www.empirecitycasino.com/racing/nomination-blanks/ and through selected harness publications/websites. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. by Frank Drucker, for Monticello Raceway

Maureen D. Ryan, 75, wife of Yonkers Raceway's long-time track superintendent, Ed Ryan, passed away peacefully last Wednesday (Feb. 6th), surrounded by family at her daughter's home in Boca Raton, FL. Mrs. Ryan was predeceased by her parents, Daniel and Theresa (Bartletta) Carmody, and her sister, Eileen Carmody. She was born Feb. 26th, 1943, in Hoboken, NJ, where she was raised. Mrs. Ryan graduated from Sacred Heart Academy. While spending summers in Monmouth Beach with her family, she met her future husband. They were married in 1964, moving permanently to Monmouth Beach the following year. Maureen Ryan was known for her gracious spirit and beautiful heart. She had an unforgettable smile and an enthusiasm for life that touched everyone in her presence. A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, nothing was more important in her life than her family. She was one of a kind, whose light, laughter, and love continue to guide us forever. In addition to her husband of 54 years, she is survived by her children and their spouses, Erin Ryan and Nancy Segall of FL, Kelly and Felipe Benedit of Monmouth Beach, Kathrine and Philip Sciortino of Monmouth Beach, Tara and Ralph Beltran of OH and Edward and Elsa Ryan of Monmouth Beach, and all seven of her beloved grandchildren, Katelyn, Lauren, Philip, Thomas, Padraic, Isabel and Juliana. Visitation will take place Friday (Feb. 15th) from 4-8 PM at the John E. Day Funeral Home, 85 Riverside Avenue, Red Bank, NJ 07701. A Mass of Christian burial takes place Saturday (Feb. 16th) at 10 AM at Church of the Precious Blood in Monmouth Beach, followed by interment at Mt. Olivet (Middletown, NJ). In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Maureen Ryan's memory to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105. Family and friends may visit Mrs. Ryan's memorial website at www.johnedayfuneralhome.com. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, February 11, 2019-Ahead of what's predicted to be treacherous weather in the New York metropolitan area, Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its live program for Tuesday evening (Feb. 12th). It's the third cancellation of 2019. Evening simulcasting has also been cancelled, with no afternoon simulcasting scheduled. After this evening's (Monday, Feb. 11th) program-in progress as of this writing-live racing is set to resume Thursday evening (Feb. 14st), with Valentine's Night first post of 6:50 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 9, 2019 -- DW's NY Yank (George Brennan, $4.60), as the harness racing wagering favorite, held off Melady's Monet (Jordan Stratton) Saturday night (Feb. 9th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Trot. Awa third from assigned post position No. 5, DW's NY Yank saw Mostinterestingman (Jason Bartlett) lead though intervals of :27.4, :58 and 1:26.3. Having taken out of third before the three-quarters, 'DW' began to close the gap. With Mostinterestingman leading by a length-and-a-quarter in and out of the final turn, DW's NY Yank did eventually collar him late in the lane. He then found the line in time, whipping a from-seventh Melady's Monet by a nose in 1:56.1. Third went to Mostinterestingman, with Lily's Swan Pond (Joe Bongiorno) and Chestnut Schofield (Dan Dube) settling for the minors. For DW's NY Yank, a 10-year-old Dilbert Hanover gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, it was his first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.80, the triple returned $36.80 and the superfecta paid $188. The Saturday feature was one of Brennen's four wins during the dozen-race card. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. - Trainer Lance Hudson imported five harness racing horses from New Zealand and Australia in late 2018 with the hopes of having a fresh band of competitors for Yonkers Raceway's 2019 season. The new pacers included Betterb Chevron, who won her first three races including the distaff feature in her latest start Feb. 1 and Letschasethedream, who ran his streak to three wins before coming up short January 26. The surprise of the bunch, though, has been Don Domingo. The 7-year-old gelding has won four straight races to begin his Stateside career and will try to extend his streak to five in Saturday night's $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway. "I knew he had some ability, I knew he was fast, but he just seems like a horse that gets it done," Hudson said. "I've got a horse that he's training with that I like better, but he hasn't been quite as good. He's been OK, but he hasn't had four wins in a row like Don Domingo. Don Domingo just seems to be an over achiever right now. I've got some talented horses in my barn. I didn't think he was a slouch by any means, but I didn't think at this point that he'd be 4-for-4." Hudson considered buying Don Domingo after being approached by agent Peter Larkin. Despite Don Domingo's form in New Zealand tailing off in late 2018 with two straight eleventh-place finishes at the free for all level, Hudson saw potential for Don Domingo to have a successful career in the United States. Hudson noticed Don Domingo had been racing at distances of 2,600 to 3,000 meters and felt the American Ideal son would benefit from a turnback. In addition, Don Domingo had been keeping company with the likes of Dream About Me and The Fixer, two of the top pacers in the Southern Hemisphere. "An agent called me one day and told me about the horse. Basically, he went and worked him and he thought the horse had good manners and he thought he would be OK at Yonkers, so we purchased him for $63,000 landed and that's how it all began," Hudson said. "He was going distance. He was going basically 2 miles and he was racing the best over there," Hudson continued. "He's a horse that I don't think is super durable. He's a horse that's more fit for a mile race than 2 miles. When you look back in his form, when he wasn't going that distance, he was very competitive when he was going shorter distances." Don Domingo finished final race in New Zealand October 5 and arrived in Hudson's stable later that month. He arrived healthy and without suffering from any ailments from the long trek north, was ready to qualify in mid-December. However, with Yonkers closing for the holidays, Hudson took a conservative approach for Don Domingo's first United States trial. "I knew he had some ability, but there was no other place to qualify at the time. The last week of Yonkers, he was ready, but we started him at Monticello, just a qualifier, and then raced him once just to get him a start and get him acclimated to racing in the States," Hudson explained. Don Domingo finished second to Texas Terror in his qualifier and won his debut in 1:54.4 in the winner's over at Monticello January 2. Hudson then brought Don Domingo to Yonkers where the gelding won three straight; he took two $23,000 overnights in off-the-pace fashion before posting a pocket-sitting victory over I'm Some Graduate for $29,000 in his latest outing February 2. "He's basically done it about any way," Hudson admired. "We haven't really put him on the front even though we've left the car with him a little bit. He's been first-over, he's been third-over, and he's sat the two-hole. He's very versatile, that's for sure. Whatever situation he's in, he always seems to find a way. He just seemed like an average horse, but he always seems to get the job done no matter what he's got to do." Don Domingo will face his toughest test so far in Saturday night's pacing feature. The competition includes last week's Open winner Rockathon, last week's Preferred winner Imarocknrollegend, and Anythingforlove, who will seek his third straight win from post seven off scores in 1:52.4 and 1:51.4. Mighty Mr Sharkey, Stormount Czar, Techtor Hanover, and Bellow's Binge complete the field. "He's definitely in with better horses, but the horse that he beat sitting on his back, I'm Some Graduate, is a pretty decent Open horse," Hudson said. "A lot of times at Yonkers, it's just how the trip goes and how everything goes down, but they'll know he's in there." Although he' unsure how good Don Domingo is, Hudson expects to find out in the coming weeks. Saturday's race will help determine whether Don Domingo is nominated to the George Morton Levy Series, which closes next Friday (February 15). "We have some options whether to put him in the Levy and that type of thing," Hudson said. "I'm not exactly sure. We're OK where we are with him for now. We'll see what happens Saturday and we'll have to make some decisions about what we're going to do with him." Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 8, 2019-In a race where half the field was comprised of New Zealand-breds, Shezza GNP N (Jordan Stratton, $42.40) led a 1-2-3 Kiwi harness racing finish Friday night (Feb. 8th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. The start of the feature was delayed as pole-given Amateur Hour (George Brennan) essentially refused. The seven other lasses left without her, with a three-wide Nerida Franco N (Dan Dube) getting around 3-10 choice Delishka N (Brent Holland) just after a :27.3 opening quarter-mile. After a :56.4 intermission and going toward a 1:26 three-quarters, it was an antsy Delishka N extricating herself from the pocket, though not without having to work for it. She took a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but company was coming. From assigned post position No. 4, Shezza GNP N, working from third-over, closed to outgame Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley) by a nose in 1:56. Delishka N tired to the bottom of the ticket, with Ella Michelle A (Joe Bongiorno) and a recovering Amateur Hour completing the cashers. For seventh choice Shezza GNP N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Art Major owned (as Tritton Inc.) and trained by Peter Tritton, it was a winning seasonal debut. The exacta paid $344, the triple returned $1,626 and the superfecta paid $4,760. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Feb. 9th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $4,225.93 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 Saturday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. by Frank Drucker, Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Last year, Rich Banca and Barbara and James Boese watched as New Zealand-bred mare Kaitlyn went on a tear. The American Ideal daughter won her first four harness racing starts in the United States at Harrington for trainer Josh Parker and went on to win across the East Coast at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the Meadowlands, and Yonkers.  Although she began her campaign in the non-winners classes, Kaitlyn worked her way up to Harrington’s Open ranks. She beat the top mares at Harrington four starts in a row last fall and earned $110,875 in the season. Boese, the track’s Chief Operating Office and General Manager, took notice and bought her, bringing Banca in on the partnership and giving him the horse to train. “I had seen her at Yonkers. (The Boeses) watched her down there and they liked her. They picked her out and they bought her,” Banca said.  Kaitlyn is the latest horse the Boeses have teamed with Banca on after their successful partnership began with the Adagio de la Tour last summer. The French-bred came to the United States as part of the French American Trotting Club, finished second in the $120,000 final, and went on to earn $122,640 last year. “I have quite a few horses with them, they’re really good people,” Banca said. “It started with the French trotters. They wanted to buy one of the horses coming from France and they called me up and asked if I would take the horse. I said yes. That’s where it started and I’ve gotten a bunch more sense.” Kaitlyn made her last start for Parker November 21, finishing second in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap at Dover Downs. Banca turned her out with the intention of getting her ready for a 2019 campaign. She qualified back in 1:56.2 with Matt Kakaley in the sulky while finishing second to Havefaithinme at Yonkers February 2. “We bought her, she got turned out for a while, and we brought her back and qualified her last week,” Banca said. “We turned her out for a while after we bought her, gave her a break and got her fresh and well. It was probably about a month and then we trained her back and qualified her. “I didn’t see it, I wasn’t there, but Kakaley likes her a lot. He said she was very good, so that was enough for me,” Banca continued.” Although it is difficult to gauge her talent without seeing her race, Banca is pleased with Kaitlyn so far.  “I haven’t had her very long, we haven’t raced her yet. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see what happens, but so far, I can’t say a bad thing about her,” he said. “She’s nice. She’s a good-looking horse, she doesn’t do a thing wrong. I like her. I’m really happy with her. She’s perfect.” Kaitlyn will start from post six in the $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Friday night (Feb. 8). She is a 7-1 morning line with Kakaley back in the bike. Her rivals include 5-2 early favorite Delishka, who won three straight Opens in Delaware in January before finishing fourth and third in her first two tries at the Hilltop, respectively.  Invader Nerida Franco is 4-1 off two victories in the Filly and Mare Select at Dover, but drew a difficult assignment in post seven. Amateur Hour is also 4-1 and benefits from an assigned inside post after Paul Blumenfeld claimed her for $30,000 two back. Ella Michelle won the Yonkers Distaff feature two starts ago and will start from post three with Joe Bongiorno in the sulky. Shez Sugarsweet, Shezza GNP, and Itty Bitty complete the lineup. “She’s only got one qualifier, she’s been off for quite a while. I’m not expecting to see her best. I think she’ll need a start or two,” Banca said of Kaitlyn’s prospects first time out. “We’ll try and get her right for the Matchmaker. “I hope she’ll be a contender in the series,” he continued. “It’s hard to say, we haven’t raced her yet, but I hope she is. She’s done everything right and part of the reason for buying her was for that race and we’re going to stake her to some other things. Hopefully she’s up to it.” Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOANY

YONKERS, NY,-  Monday, February 4, 2019--Yonkers Raceway posted its largest harness racing handle of the new season Monday night (Feb. 4th), with a total of $1,072,833 wagered during the dozen-race card. Jordan Stratton won four races, the last of which was an un-Stratton-esque 21-1, last-to-first Captain Deo ($45.20) in the $20,000, 10th-race pace. That bombardier enhanced the evening's Pick 5 wager, which returned $1,167.25 for every correct (4/3/1/7/4) half-a-buck ticket by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 2, 2019 - Rockathon (Jordan Stratton, $10.80) and Weslynn Dancer (Matt Kakaley, $33.80) divided the distinction Saturday night (Feb. 2nd), winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured harness racing $44,000 Open Handicaps. Pole-assigned Rockathon seated his adult-table pacing elders, including just-over-even-money favorite Air Strike (Brent Holland). After early intervals of :27.2 and :56.1, Air Strike took out of third, mildly engaging by a 1:24.3 three-quarters. Rockathon owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but a stubborn Air Strike wound not go quietly into the night. He did sustain the bid, but missed a half-length in 1:53.2. Betttor's Fire N (Ron Cushing) rolled from last to grab third, with a pocketed Our Zak Whitby A (George Brennan) and a tough-trip Christen Me N (Kakakey) settling for the remainder. For third choice Rockathon, a 4-year-old Pet Rock gelding co-owned by (trainer) Ricky Bucci and Blue Meadow Farm, it was his first win in a pair of seasonal starts. The exacta paid $30.80, the triple returned $494 and the superfecta paid $3,065. The marquee trot saw 3-10 choice Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Dube) get stung early by Mostinterestingman (Troy Beyer) through a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. He then rated a :29.2 next substation (:56.4 intermission), but the damage had been done. Weslynn Dancer-from assigned post position No. 4-and Melady's Monet (Stratton) began to advance from the back, getting some inroads in and out of a 1:25.3. Smalltownthrowdown took a length-and-a-quarter lead off the final turn, but was tiring. Lone lass Weslynn Dancer went by, as did 'Melady,' with the former prevailing by a short nose in the fastest local trot mile of the season. Smalltownthrowdown faded to third, with Lily's Swan Pond (Joe Bongiorno) and Mostinterestingman flipping the final two envelopes after an interference placement. For fourth choice Weslynn Dancer, a 5-year-old daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe co-owned by Barbara & James Boese and trained by Richard Banca, it was her first win in three '19 tries. The exacta paid $121.50, the triple returned $316.50 and the superfecta paid $3,133. Weslynn Dancer Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 1, 2019 - Odds-on harness racing fave Betterb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton, $2.90) methodically wore down one rival, then held off another Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace. Away fourth from post position No. 3, Betterb Chevron N saw Delishka N (Brent Holland) leapfrog around Shez Sugarsweet A (Ron Cushing), paying a :26.4 opening quarter-mile privilege for the lead. Aldine Hanover (Jason Bartlett) also left, but backed away into a three-hole. It was a rated :30.2 second substation (:57.1 half) before Betterb Chevron N began her advance. She closed in moving toward the 1:25.4 three-quarters, putting Delishka N away early in the lane. Aldine Hanover found room too late, with Betterb Chevron N lasting by a half-length in 1:54. Delishka N saved the bottom of the ticket, with Amateur Hour (George Brennan) and Shez Sugarsweet A rounding out the payees. For Betterb Chevron N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by William Hartt and trained by Lance Hudson, it was her third win in as many seasonal/U-S starts. The exacta paid $10.20, the triple returned $27 and the superfecta paid $75. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Aldine Hanover joined the ranks of Michael Hall’s harness racing stable late last year, the filly immediately made her presence known. Aldine Hanover quickly asserted herself as the alpha in the Hall’s group of mares and she commanded respect in the barn. It was apparent to Hall that Aldine Hanover possessed something special that could not be taught.  “We turn the horses out. The mares especially, they go out in groups. Since she’s been here, she took over the boss spot in the field with four other mares. Before that, one of them thought she was in charge,” Hall said.  “She’s a little bit mean, but in a good way on the racetrack. She doesn’t like another horse to pass her and she’ll dig in,” Hall continued. “If you train her with another horse, she’s perfect when you sit behind them, but as soon as you tip her out to go, she wants to go by them instantly. Just does everything that you want her to do. “She’s just all racehorse. You can make an athlete, or you can be born with it. Just something in her genes, she was just meant to be a good horse.” Aldine Hanover proved her merit to Hall in winning last week’s $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap at Yonkers Raceway. The wire-to-wire effort was the biggest win of her career to date, elevating her earnings to $289,711 and improving her record to 10 victories from 43 starts. The 4-year-old mare will try to double up in this Friday’s (Feb. 1) distaff feature. Hall had his eye on Aldine Hanover while she raced out of Erv Miller’s barn at 2 and 3. By A Rocknroll Dance out of the Artsplace millionaire Armbro Amoretto, Hall was initially attracted to Aldine Hanover’s pedigree. He also liked Aldine Hanover’s consistent performances on the track. “A lot of my owners are breeders and I try to have the client in mind for when they’re done racing because that way, they give you a little bit of a safety net because they don’t always pan out. Fortunately, she did, but they don’t always pan out,” Hall said. “We always try to have a backup plan in place when you get into it. “She basically never misses the board. That was the biggest thing. She was ideally going to be a money maker. I was hoping she’d be able to win out of the non-winners of eight at Dover and maybe go in the winners over there. I didn’t really have the aspirations that she’d be as good as she’s been the last few weeks.” Hall knew Miller would be likely to part with Aldine Hanover at the end of her sophomore season. After Aldine Hanover romped in a local $20,000 overnight November 19, the sale was completed and Hall took Aldine Hanover to Dover Downs. She won two straight races to close her 2018 campaign and began her 4-year-old season with a narrow loss January 2. She won a $16,000 overnight January 9 before testing the waters in Dover’s $25,000 Filly and Mare Open January 16. She finished a close third to Delishka and Apple Bottom Jeans. “She got away third on the rail, which is like the death spot. It’s the toughest spot in the world to make money from,” Hall said. “Dexter Dunn got off of her and said, ‘man, if I could have gotten out three or four feet earlier, I would have won.’ She was flying at the wire. “I don’t know if she could have beaten those two mares or not,” Hall continued. “I would have said (Dexter) was being a little overly optimistic, but he’s driven a lot of good horses, so if he says something like that, he knows what he’s talking about.” Aldine Hanover proved she can handle open company last time out when she took Yonkers’ top class for distaffers in 1:53.4 with Jason Bartlett in the sulky, beating her Delaware rival Delishka in the process. Hall made the move to the Hilltop to gauge Aldine Hanover’s talents as he floats the idea of nominating her to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series. “We raced her in the Open at Dover and they didn’t fill it the following week. I figured we might as well try it. The last start before I bought her, she raced there and everything worked out perfect. Jason Bartlett drove her, got the front really easy, and never pulled the plugs,” Hall said. “I was shocked at how good she handled it. A lot of horses who are a decent size struggle on the turns, but she just got right around them like it was nothing. With the purses up there, it would be foolish not to take a chance.” Aldine Hanover drew post four in her repeat bid, and with Jason Bartlett back in to drive, she is a tepid 5-2 morning line choice. Unlike last week when she was handicapped by post seven, Delishka benefited from this week’s open draw and will start from post two in front of Brent Holland. Between the Delaware invaders will start Lance Hudson’s recent New Zealand-bred import Betterb Chevron. Amateur Hour, Shez Sugarsweet, Monica Gallagher, Ella Michelle, and Itty Bitty comprise the lineup. “Last week she beat that Delishka mare. That mare is awful tough. It was nice to draw inside of her, but this week she drew inside of us,” Hall said. “We couldn’t beat her on the five-eighths. It will be interesting to see if the track size evens it out. The other foreign mare of Lance Hudson’s, that mare was airborne finishing the last few weeks.” Although Aldine Hanover won on the front last week, Hall is skeptical about his mare trying for the lead this week. He is confident in his mare’s off-the-pace tactics. “I know Jason likes to be aggressive off the gate, but Delishka, that mare can leave fast. think it would be a little harder for us to make the lead if we wanted to,” Hall said. “I like the fact that my horse doesn’t have to be on the front. She can do what she has to do. To me, it sets up a whole lot different than last week because the horses we had to out leave were all outside of us and everybody sort of floated into the turn and grabbed up. This week, it looks like it should be interesting for the first quarter-mile. “I think it will be a good test,” Hall continued. “I’m sort of on the fence about whether she’s good enough to think about putting her in the Matchmaker or not. This will be as tough a group of mares that she’s raced so far in her career, so we’ll see how it goes.” Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, January 31, 2019-Empire City Bets, the ADW portal of Yonkers Raceway, is beginning the new month by again offering some of its more popular wagering promotions. The promos, approved by the New York State Gaming Commission, include... Sign-up Bonus-New Empire City Bets (ECB) members can get a sign-up match bonus up to $100, providing he/she wagers that 'matchable' amount within seven days of opening the account. Exacta Mondays-ECB customers who make a specific two-horse, $3 exacta box ($6 wager) for Yonkers' second race only are eligible. The credit-whether the wager wins or loses-shall be posted to the customer's account the next morning (one credit per customer per Monday). Triple/Trifecta Tuesdays-ECB customers who make a specific three-horse, $1 triple/trifecta box ($6 wager) for Yonkers' second race only are eligible. The credit-losing wagers only-shall be posted to the customer's account the next morning (one credit per customer per Tuesday). The Raceway's live schedule remains Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, with first post at 6:50 PM. Empire City Bets continues to offer an eight-percent reward for all Yonkers' wagers, save for place and show. For complete rules, regulations, promotional expiration dates and/or other information, please visit www.empirecitybets.com by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

MGM Resorts International and its real estate arm, MGM Growth Properties, have finalized their $850 million purchase of the Empire City Casino and its 97 acres of developable land in Yonkers, New York, just 15 miles north of Manhattan’s Times Square. The purchase gives MGM — which opened its $960 million MGM Springfield resort casino in August — a fourth property in the Northeast. MGM bought out its partner and took control of the Borgata in Atlantic City and opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland, both in 2016. MGM Springfield President and CEO Michael Mathis said MGM’s operation in Yonkers will help it market MGM Springfield, especially through MGM’s M life rewards program. “The Empire City Casino acquisition in Yonkers is designed to tap into the underserved NY market, which will complement the MGM Springfield market. MGM’s unmatched East Coast presence in major markets allows for significant cross marketing and customer loyalty programming that offer us a clear competitive edge. We are well positioned to be a leader in the Northeast’s multi-billion dollar gaming market," Mathis wrote in an email. The New York Gaming Commission approved the deal Monday, as well as MGM’s permission to run harness racing at the 120-year-old track. Continued racing is a requirement under Empire City Casino’s license to run slot machines. “We are pleased to welcome the 1,200 employees at Empire City Casino to the MGM Resorts family,” said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, in a news release. “With this new addition to the MGM Resorts portfolio, we have now gained a foothold in the high-density New York City region and we look forward to leveraging the MGM platform to maximize value in this evolving marketplace.” Tribal Winds: East Windsor casino project has new name, new push from Foxwoods and Mohegan to compete with MGM Springfield This comes as the Connecticut legislature is asked to pass legislation allowing casino expansion to East Windsor. MGM bought the property from the Rooney family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers and owners of Yonkers Raceway since 1972. The Empire City Casino opened in 2006. “What’s incredibly exciting is the amount of opportunity MGM Resorts will bring to the employees at Empire City, as well as Westchester County, the city of Yonkers, and the State of New York,” said Timothy J. Rooney, president and CEO of Empire City Casino, in a news release. “With destinations throughout the world, from resorts to casinos to entertainment, MGM has a tried-and-true formula for success. ... the potential for growth at Empire City has absolutely no boundaries.” Over the years, MGM has told investors it plans to leverage the marketing power of its East Coast casinos, offering package deals and cross promotions to get visitors moving among the casinos and looking to MGM’s Vegas properties for longer vacations. MGM is also in the final stages of buying Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in Ohio for $1 billion. Empire City Casino is 125 miles and a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Springfield. Empire City doesn’t have state permission to run table games. It offers slot-machine-like electronic games at 5,200 video-lottery terminals operated by the state lottery. MGM Resorts said will pay an additional $50 million to the Rooneys if Empire City is awarded a license for live table games by the end of 2022 and if MGM Resorts gets the license by the end of 2024. But New York has a moratorium on new casino development until 2023. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the news website Lohud.com that he is aware that MGM would like to get a full casino with table games in Yonkers, but didn’t indicate he would look to make any changes to the time frame. “I know it’s a topic of conversation, but I have no opinion or intention of making any changes at this time," Cuomo said. "It’s an evolving field, there’s no doubt about that.” The website USBets said MGM might relocate the required harness racing meet to Belmont Park, a thoroughbred track and home of the Belmont Stakes, to free up space for development at the Yonkers track. By Jim Kinney Reprinted with permission of the MassLive.com site

Robyn Camden, unbeaten in 12 starts at 2 and 3 won her first race in the US at Yonkers on Monday night Jan 28th. The best of her generation in the British Isles, the four year old filly had made a pleasing start to her career stateside being placed in all 3 of her starts so far at the Meadowlands in December and had paced the mile in 1:51 on one of these occassions Lining up against some stiff local opposition on Monday night the filly by Art Professor out of Keystone Havoc was driven to victory by crack New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn who kept things simple by taking cover from the gate before producing her in deep stretch with an electric turn of foot to triumph a shade cosily in 1:57.3 much to the relief of trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and the delight of co-owner Clive Kavanagh, spokesman for the All Out Syndicate. After the race Norman admitted that it had taken a while for Robyn Camden to acclimate to life in the US and being a precocious sort it had just took a little while longer for her to readjust than some of the others that had made the journey from Ireland before her. One of these recent exports Rebel Rouser continues to impress and is a winner of his last 4 at The Meadowlands for trainer Robert Cleary. Another, Reclamation who travelled over shortly before Robyn Camden has shown great promise and is a multiple winner both at Harrahs Philadelphia and The Meadowlands. Reclamation and Rebel Rouser are joined owned by Bill Donovan from Delray Beach, Florida and Donal Murphy from Baltimore in Cork, Ireland and both horses along with Robyn Camden spent their formative years being reared on the lush green pastures of Ireland - which many claim have given them a strong constitution and solid foundation, perfect springboards to achieve success across they are all currently enjoying across the atlantic. Now that shes resumed her winning ways got her first win on the board, its onwards and upwards for Robyn Camden and connections are confident that she will have many more victories under her belt before returning home to Ireland in utero from a yet be named a top sire. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

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