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YONKERS, N.Y. – When harness racing trainer Erv Miller went to the Tattersalls July Sale with owner John Koliopoulos, they didn’t intend to come home with Air Strike. The 4-year-old Always A Virgin son impressed at 2, winning a $75,000 Indiana bred stakes at Hoosier Park and dead-heating in the $147,200 Kindergarten Classic at the Meadowlands. But with unimpressive resumes at 3 and 4, Air Strike didn’t even make Miller’s short list. However, as Miller stood around the sales ring watching horse after horse sell for more than he could stomach, he noticed Air Strike in the ring. Bidding maxed out at $26,000, a price the trainer couldn’t refuse.  “All the ones I looked at were bringing too much money,” Miller said. “I knew the horse a little bit from racing in Indiana, so I knew he was a high-ability kind of horse. I knew he must have some kind of problem because he hadn’t shown much at that time, but for $26,000, I thought I could put him in a claimer at Yonkers, so I just took a shot. “Most of the horses I was trying to buy that day I was trying to look at ahead of time and get a feel for what I was buying, but I didn’t look at that horse,” he continued. “We were very fortunate to find him the way we did, to come across him like that because he wasn’t the horse I went there to buy, but if the price is right, you do that sometimes.” Despite their unlikely pairing, Miller was immediately impressed with Air Strike. He won his debut for his new connections in an $11,000 overnight at Pocono July 24 and followed it up with a victory at Yonkers for $17,500 the next week. Air Strike went wire-to-wire in the $35,000 4-year-old open handicap pace August 18, but was unable to duplicate his success at that level in his next four tries. Miller regrouped and sent Air Strike to Hoosier Park. “When we bought him, at first he seemed like he was OK because he was down in class and then he got to where he didn’t race as good because he was up in class,” Miller said. “I sent him out to Indiana and the last start in Indiana he just started coming back around. We brought him back and he fit the low class again, and that’s how started back there.” Air Strike finished off-the-board in his three Indiana starts, but won two straight races at Pocono in October while down in class. Then the light-bulb went off. “He’s a really nice, big, strong horse. A good sound horse, too. He had a splint bothering him, so we worked on that some and got him a little sounder. Ever since we did that, he just keeps getting better every time we race him.” Air Strike returned to the 4-year-old open November 3 and after setting a :26.3 opening panel, went on to record a 7 ¾-length romp in 1:52.1.  “That’s about when he turned around,” Miller commented. “We’d worked on that splint a little before that and he just got a little sounder and everything went good for him. He’s always good on the front.”  Air Strike finished second to Mac’s Jackpot in his next start when handicapped by post seven, but recorded a 7-length score when he started from post five November 24. He was fifth from the outside December 1, but last time out racked up another win in the class from post five. He’s won 12 races this year and earned $139,825, pushing his career tally to $285,815. His success on the small track surprised his trainer. “I think he likes the smaller track now, now that he’s grown up,” Miller said. “It did (surprise) me a little bit because I watched his replays after I bought him that day and thought, ‘man, he doesn’t get around Yonkers very good. He struggles a little.’ I was a little surprised. I think it was just a maturity thing.” With the impending changing of the calendar, Yonkers’ 2018 racing season is coming to a close. This Saturday (December 15), Air Strike will get his final chance to compete in the $35,000 4-year-old open. He will start from post seven as the 5-2 morning line favorite, but unlike his prior outside efforts, rival Mac’s Jackpot isn’t drawn inside of him. Instead, Air Strike will contend with Rock N Blue, Treasure Mach, Aston Hill Dave, Machiavelli, Odds On Delray, and McSpidey. “It’s a good class to be in. It’s too bad it’s about to go away from him because he really does fit that class well,” Miller said. “It’s a little tougher when he’s got the outside like he does this week, but hopefully he’ll be OK. He’s better than he was and I think he’ll just keep getting better. A lot of people say it takes a certain kind of horse to compete at Yonkers and right now it looks like he might be that certain kind of horse. “Hopefully next year he can go to the Levy and just get better and better,” he continued. “We’re going to give him a little break here and point him toward that race. I think it just depends on how he comes out of it, but he’s made a lot of progress so far, so if he keeps making a lot of progress, I know there’s some good horses in there, but the way he’s gone so far, he really likes Yonkers and hopefully that’s what he’ll step up to.” Saturday night’s card also features a $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. 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, Saturday, December 8, 2018-Odds-on Weona Sizzler A (Jordan Stratton, $2.90) made a successful first trip to the harness racing adult table Saturday night (Dec. 8th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. Pocketed-from post position No. 5---to Gokudo Hanover (Dan Dube) through intervals of :27.1, 56 and 1:24, Weona Sizzler A found room passing the three-quarters when a first-up Soho Lennon A (Jim Marohn Jr.) backed away. Gokudo Hanover owned a length lead into the lane, but could not stall his intruder. Weona Sizzler A rolled right by, widening to win by that length in a life-best 1:52.1. Gokudo Hanover saved second, with Christen Me N (Matt Kakaley), Voracity (Tyler Buter) and Bettor Memories (Jason Bartlett) settling for the remainder. For Weona Sizzler A, a 5-year-old Down Under Bettor's Delight gelding co-owned (as Harmon Racing) by (trainer) Rob Harmon and Seth Rosenberg Racing, it was his eighth win in 18 seasonal starts (five wins and three seconds in eight North American tries). The exacta paid $25.40, the triple returned $131.50 and the superfecta paid $646. There is no Sunday matinee this time around, the final one wrapping the season Dec. 16th, with first post the ever-popular TBA. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 7, 2018 - Tepid favorite Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett, $6.20) pounced from the pocket Friday night (Dec. 7th), winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Nose-to-gate from penultimate post position No. 7, Monica Gallagher left into a pocket behind Angel's Pride (Brent Holland). Her quarter-move attempt was rebuffed as Angel's Pride laid down early intervals of :27.1 and a flat 57 seconds. It was a :27.4 third quarter (1:24.4) to dispose of Keystone Wanda's uncovered bid from fourth, but 'Monica' was ready. She vacated the cones early, about to polish off much a better trip than the self-inflicted, horrid sojourn of a week ago. Monica Gallagher rolled by, widening to 2¾ lengths over Angel's Pride in 1:53.3. Pole-assigned Regil Elektra (Joe Bongiorno) was a three-hole third, with Delightfulmemphisn (Dan Dube) and Made of Jewels AS (Jordan Stratton) picking off the remainder. For Monica Gallagher, a 4-year-old daughter of Mach Three co-owned and D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, T L P & Gandolfo Stables and trained by Richard Banca, it was her 10th win in 24 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $27.60, the triple returned $147.50 and the superfecta paid $794. YONKERS’ SATURDAY PICK 5 FEATURES $3,700 CARRYOVER, 15G GUARANTEE  A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Dec. 8h) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,735.44 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 6 through 10 Saturday night. 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. Saturday’s Pick 5 program pages accompany this release. Frank Drucker

Yonkers, NY- Joe Faraldo is a happy man. And why shouldn't he be? After all, the veteran amateur driver just won the $15,000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's fourth and final trotting series with Tough Get Going at Yonkers Raceway on Friday night (Dec. 7). They toured the Hilltop oval in a time of 2:00 to score a one-length victory over Monica Banca and Master of Excuses. When the wings of the mobile gate sprung Banca sent Master of Excuses to the lead from the two hole with Faraldo's charge on the limb pushing the pace after starting from post five. “I wanted to take the lead but Monica wouldn't have it and she said 'get behind me', which I did and it worked out to be the winning move,” Faraldo related by phone after the race. Banca and Master of Excuses passed the first stanza in :28.4 and they were comfortable by the half in :59.4. The leaders then raced one-two past the three quarters in 1:29.1 and on the final turn Faraldo moved Tough Get Going off the pylons. “My horse felt strong at that point and when we straightened for home I knew we'd be the winner,” he said.  Master of Excuses was second best a head in front of third place finisher Multitaskr Hanover in rein to Jennifer Lappe. Tough Get Going has won his last two starts and recently has been at the top of his game. Asked how come the he's currently racing better Faraldo was quick to respond. “He likes the cold weather and he can breath better when the temperature dips,” All things considered ,the veteran 5-year Kadabra gelding has amassed almost $47,000 this season. He's owned by Faraldo and Richie Banca and trained by Banca. Sent off as second choice Tough Get Going paid $6.00 for win. This has been a very prolific season for NAADA. Besides four 10-race series during the year the longtime amateur organization has hosted European amateur clubs from Hungary, Spain, Italy and France. And in September NAADA members traveled to Mallorca to race against the Spanish amateurs on their turf. “We plan to do much of the same next year, too,” Faraldo added. John Manzi        

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, December 6, 2018 - Yonkers Raceway has announced its 234 harness racing program, 2019 live schedule. Here are the highlights... ---there are four fewer programs than in 2018 ---first racing program of 2019 is Monday night, Jan 7th ---there are no Sunday matinees ---racing goes every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening through May 25th ---post time remains at 6:50 PM ---there's a hiatus from May 26th through June 6th, inclusive ---five-night-per-week schedule returns Friday, June 7th through final day of season, Tuesday, Dec. 17th ---there's no live racing Friday, Oct. 11th, with International Trot matinee Saturday, Oct. 12th (post time TBA) ---there's no live racing Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 28th, 29th and 30th. Please be advised that this schedule is tentative and as always, all dates and above information are pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission. Updates shall be provided as available. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, December 2, 2018 - Yonkers Raceway's Sunday (Dec. 2nd) harness racing matinee saw a down-the-road Mostinterestingman (Austin Siegelman, $11) winning the featured-and 'sloppy'--$44,000 Open Handicap Trot The Sunday feature went at the flat mile, one race after the seven added-distance 'French' trots. The intervals were :27.3, :57.3, 1:26.3, 1:55.4 as Mostinterestingman-from post position No. 4--never had an anxious moment. Jack Vernon (Dan Dube) rushed up around a breaking 8-5 favorite Celebrity Ruth (Trond Smedshammer) to grab the early pocket around another misbehaver in Crazy About Pat (Jordan Stratton). New Heaven (Joe Bongiorno) did not get close moving first-up from fourth as Mostinterestingman had 2¼ lengths in and out of the final turn. He finished it off by three lengths, with Jack Vernon coming back to get second. New Heaven, Royal Bachelor (Eric Abbatiello) and Andy Ray (Jason Bartlett) picked off the minors. For third choice Mostinterestingman, a 5-year-old Manofmanymissions gelding co-owned by (trainer) Ricky Bucci and Richard Solano, it was his eighth win in 38 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $74.50, the triple returned $860 and the superfecta paid $5,358. Aqueduct was 'fogged out' Sunday, and with it this week's scheduled revival of the 'New York, New York Double'. The next Sunday matinee is Dec. 16th (final program of season, post time TBA). YONKERS’ MONDAY PICK 5 FEATURES $1,500 CARRYOVER, 10G GUARANTEE                         A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Monday evening’s (Dec. 3rd ) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $1,540.12 and a $10,000 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 6 through 10 Monday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Sunday afternoon), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, December 1, 2018 - Rodeo Rock (Eric Goodell, $28.20), one of eight come-from-behind winners during Saturday night's (Dec. 1st) 10-race harness racing card, disposed of Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace in first-up fashion. Away fourth from assigned post position No. 2, Rodeo Rock swallowed up early (:26.3, 56) leader Mach it So (Joe Bongiorno) just past a 1:24 three-quarters. Rodeo Rock quick opened two lengths off the final turn, then held off even-money favorite Great Vintage (Jim Marohn Jr.) by three-quarters of a lengths in 1:52.4. The latter, trapped in behind a tiring leader, angled out but could not reach. Christen Me N (Matt Kakaley), Soho Lennon A (Jordan Stratton) and Bettor Memories (Jason Bartlett) rounded out the payees. For seventh choice Rodeo Rock, a 5-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding owned by Royal Wire Products and trained by Robert Cleary, it was his eighth win in 28 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $92, the triple returned $448 and the superfecta paid $1,005. The Raceway offers a Sunday (Dec. 2nd) matinee, with a first post of 11:45 AM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 30, 2018 - Made of Jewels AS (Jordan Stratton, $21.60) picked off a take-no-prisoners Angel's Pride (Brent Holland) late in the lane Friday night (Nov. 30th), winning Yonkers Raceway's 'sloppy' $44,000 harness racing Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Away third from assigned post position No. 3, Made of Jewels AS watched as the polester Angel's Pride parked a wide-early Lispatty (Tyler Buter) through intervals of :27.2 and :55.2. While Lispatty was wide, 3-10 favorite Monica Gallagher (George Brennan) was even wider, forced to race parked second-up. Lispatty backed away readily before the 1:23.3 three-quarters, at the same time backing into 'Monica.' Meanwhile, Made of Jewel AS took out of third and taking aim at Angel's Pride as that one owned a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn. However, she couldn't close the sale, as her pursuer went by. The margin was a length-and-a-quarter in 1:53.2. Third went to Keystone Wanda, with Regil Elektra (Jason Bartlett) and Monica Gallagher-waiting too long to go around her tiring tow-settling for the small envelopes. For third choice Made of Jewels AS, a 5-year-old daughter of Panspacificflight owned and trained by Ricky Bucci, it was her eighth win in 39 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $196.50, the triple returned $699 and the superfecta paid $1,854. Friday evening's Pick 5, which began with a $4,266.35 carryover and $15,000 guarantee, attracted $16,069 in end-of-the-month coin. After takeout, that left an approximate pool of $16,300, with the winning combination of 3/6/3/4/3 returning $8,147.75 for both correct 50-cent wagers. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 30, 2018 - Yonkers Raceway's Sunday harness racing matinee this weekend (Dec. 2nd) shall offer a first post of 11:45 AM. Races 2 through 8 go as those added-distance 'French' trots, with post times as such... 2nd - 12:15 PM 3rd - 12:45 PM 4th - 1:15 PM 5th - 1:45 PM 6th - 2:15 PM 7th - 2:45 PM 8th - 3:15 PM Post time for the 10th-race finale is 3:55 PM. Sunday's 'New York, New York Double' is comprised of the first race from Aqueduct (post time 12:50 PM) and the fourth race from Yonkers (post time 1:15 PM).  After this weekend, the next Sunday matinee is Dec. 16th (final program of season, post time TBA). Frank Drucker

Yonkers, NY--Harness racing's granddaddy of all amateur events, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, presented its 37th annual Gold and Silver Cup Finals at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday, November 25th and they resulted in near storybook fashion when coincidentally the $25,000 Gold Cup was won by the series vice president,Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, and the $15,000 Silver Cup Final went to the series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso, making it the first time that the event's top officers were victorious in the races' finales. The long-running program is, and has always been, sponsored by the Delvin Miller Memorial Harness Driving Series, better known as the Billings, Raced this season at a distance of 1-1/4 miles over the double-oval at Yonkers Raceway the two 10-horse fields were very competitive with Oldford and Starsaboveallerage, despite being sent off at odds of over 22-1,winning the Gold Cup in a tight photo over On The Podium ("Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli) in a time of 2:32. The Silver Cup Final went to Landonfitz, driven by the series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso over Winwood Scout and driver "Dave "Modern Legend" Drew in a time of 2:31.4. Both drivers had to negotiate ten-horse fields en route to victory. Oldford is enjoying one of his best seasons in the sulky and has already topped the leaderboards in the midwest division and the Billings Travel Series and he has copped the Billings overall points championship. "I had a pretty good journey when you consider the Gold Cup was a the 10-horse field,"Oldford said after he won the Gold Cup. "I got lucky to find a hole early and although I had to go three-deep around Dave (Offernberg with Fiji) my horse cleared them quickly before the half and we raced toward Joe (Faraldo with Tough Get Going) who was on the lead and we finally caught them and put them away in the stretch. "Then we had to contend with the late challenge from Tony (Ciuffitelli and On The Podium) but my old guy hung tough and we won the race by just a head, which in reality was as good as winning by a mile". Faraldo's charge held on for the show dough." Starsaboveallerage, a 7-year-old altered son of Angus Hall is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Allen Sisco. He paid $47.20; $16.40 and $11.20 across the board. In the Silver Cup Verruso's ride behind Landonfitz was a lot less complicated. "I got lucky to find a hole early and then had a perfect trip," Verruso explained. "Despite losing my whip at the half I didn't have to move until I came first-up when we headed to the three quarters and Landonfitz easily circled Dave Drew;s horse (Winwood Scout) and we didn't have any serious challenges after that. We cruised home an easy winner." Super Manning, driven by "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio, finished third just a head behind Winwood Scout. Landonfitz, an 8-year-old Jailhouse Jesse gelding is owned by the Allister Stables and trained by Eric Abbatiello. He paid $11.40 for win. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 25, 2018- Yonkers Raceway's Sunday (Nov. 25th) matinee saw an anxiously-pocketed Andy Ray (Jason Bartlett, $7.60) winning the featured $44,000 Open Handicap. The Sunday feature went at the flat mile, one race after the seven added-distance 'French' trots. The field of seven was effectively downsized to four as three of the gang-The Last Chapter (Matt Kakaley), Crazy About Pat (Jim Marohn Jr.) and Gruden (Dan Dube)-did the dance of the damned. Meanwhile, Andy Ray-from post position No. 5-worked around 1-2 choice Lean Hanover (Jordan Stratton) for the lead before a :28.1 opening quarter-mile. He then gave it up to DW's NY Yank (George Brennan), with that one finding a :57.4 intermission. However, 'Andy' was getting' itchy and gettin' out before a 1:26.3 three-quarters. Andy Ray disposed of DW's NY Yank, but Lean Hanover was poised right behind. The people's preference proved no match, though, as Andy Ray finished it off by three-quarters of a length in 1:55.3. A tiring DW's NY Yank was third, dividing the smaller envelope with a trotting-in-place Lazarus (Brent Holland) and The Last Chapter. For second choice Andy Ray, a 6-year-old Crazed gelding owned by Yinson Quezada and trained by Anette Lorentzon, it was his sixth win in 27 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $16.40, the triple returned $58.50 and the superfecta paid $251.50. Sunday's incarnation of the 'New York, New York Double' featured a winning combination of 5-Tequila Sunday (Aqueduct's 1st race) and 1-Quick Summer (Yonkers' 5th race), returning $23.70 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $3,416. The next Sunday matinee is Dec. 2nd (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Monday, November 24, 2018-'Twas a dark and stormy Saturday night (Nov. 25th), except for George Brennan. Brennan won five of Yonkers Raceway's dozen races, including the pair of $44,000 Open Handicap Paces. He and Always at My Place ($6.70) tracked down a clear, 7-5 favorite Bettor Memories (Jason Bartlett) late, winning the boys' featured pace in a soggy 1:53.2. The latter had taken the lead, disposing of early leader Techtor Hanover (Jordan Stratton) down the backside. However, Always at My Place, from post position No. 5, made up two lengths in the lane, the final margin a head. It was 45-1 Soho Lennon A (Tyler Buter) third, with Theartofconfusion A (Brent Holland) and Great Vintage (Jim Marohn Jr.) coming away with the remainder. For second choice Always at My Place, a 7-year-old Down Under Bettor's Delight gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura, it was his ninth win in 28 seasonal starts (career 46-for-136, $1.048 million). The exacta paid $21.20, the triple returned $164 and the superfecta paid $542. The girls' marquee pace saw Brennan, Burke and a two-moving Monica Gallagher ($11.40) prevail in 1:54.3. Into a three-hole from post No. 6, 'Monica' went up and over a stopping Call Me Queen Be (Joe Bongiorno), then opened a couple of lengths in the lane. Monica Gallagher whipped 17-10 choice Lispatty (Buter) by that same margin, with Keystone Wanda (Marohn Jr.), Medusa (Holland) and Scandalicious (Stratton) settling for the minors. For fourth choice Monica Gallagher, a 4-year-old Mach Three miss co-owned by her trainer and Weaver Bruscemi, it was her ninth win in 22 '18 tries. The exacta paid $39, the triple returned $146.50 and the superfecta paid $508. Burke had three winners, though Rene Allard whipped him with four. It's a quick turnaround for the Raceway, which is back at it again Sunday (Nov. 25th) with a first post of 11:10 AM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – A few hours before the start of the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings, trainer Jeff Gillis found himself stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. Sleet, snow, and freezing rain made the typical 3 ½-hour drive to Dover Downs a 5 ½-hour ordeal and Gillis was in a race against the clock to get The Downtown Bus to the track in time to avoid scratching out of the $193,750 stakes. “The turnpike was a disaster,” Gillis said. “I wasn’t even sure I was going to make Lasix. Anything after that was a bonus.” Gillis and The Downtown Bus arrived at the track with just 30 minutes remaining in his window to receive the race day medication. Three hours later, Gillis stared up at a television screen in the paddock as his 19-1 longshot charged into a blistering pace and ended up on the far outside in a three-way photo finish with This Is The Plan along the pylons and Jimmy Freight between horses.  “The announcer called the two on the inside, (This Is The Plan) and Jimmy Freight, so I said to someone under the TV, ‘is there an inside bias here,’ because to the naked eye, I thought he might have gotten up,” Gillis said. “And then, when the announcer called it that way, I thought we were third.” The Downtown Bus did get up in time, but so did This Is The Plan. The pair tied for a dead heat victory in 1:49.1 over the sloppy track, a lifetime mark for both horses. The victory improved The Downtown Bus’s record to 11-for-25 with $287,837 earned. Gillis bred The Downtown Bus with longtime owner Ellen Ott and was overjoyed to see the Mach Three gelding win his first start outside Canada. “I was ecstatic,” he said. “We go back a couple generations with this horse and it was a big thrill.” The Downtown Bus is out of Slimsplace, a mare who has special meaning to Gillis. She is named after his father, Raymond “Slim” Gillis, who was killed in a car accident in June 2007. The mare by Artsplace out of the Jennas Beach Boy mare She’s Beachy earned $139,019 on the track for Gillis and became a part of the family. “I don’t desire to be in the breeding industry, but there’s some sentimental value. She was born six weeks before my dad was tragically killed in a car accident,” Gillis explained. “I always liked her, I liked the family, she’s quality, so it made it easier as well.” The Downtown Bus is Slimsplace’s second foal to race and the first to win a stakes race. The gelding is similar to his dam in temperament and complexion. “She was kind of relaxed. He’s got kind of a hair-trigger almost. To jog him, you have to take a whip or pack a lunch, one or the other because he mopes along as slow as can possibly be,’ Gillis explained. “He wears earplugs in a race because once you stir him up, he’s gone. He’s a little bit funny like that. Build-wise, they’re a little bit similar. They’re not very tall, but they have a lot of substance to them, they’re thick and muscular.” Gillis kept The Downtown Bus in Canada at 2 and 3, racing in Ontario Sire Stakes. He was winless in seven starts last year after suffering a series of minor setbacks, but put everything together this season. After finishing third in the Ontario Sire Stakes Final in October, Gillis tried his luck abroad. “I would have to be absolutely, supremely over-the-moon, in love with a horse that’s Ontario bred to pay him into stakes in the United States prior to the Super Final in Canada,” the trainer said. “You almost have to bypass a goal and I don’t particularly see the value in it, so I didn’t stake him that way.” After his successful stateside debut in the Matron, The Downtown Bus will test the waters on the half-mile track at Yonkers Raceway Saturday night (November 24) in the $35,000 3- and 4-Year-Old Open Handicap Pace. He drew post seven and with Tyler Buter in the sulky, is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The start worked out as Gillis is in the area to start Yonkers International Trot participant Will Take Charge in the TVG FFA Trot at the Meadowlands. “He’s not an overly big horse, he should get over a half pretty good and I do plan on racing him there in the future. This is intended to be his final start of the year,” Gillis said. “I thought it was worthwhile to see how he liked the track and whether there was something there for him in the future, just to see how he gets over it and have a bit more info before I put him away for the year.” The Downtown Bus’s rivals include Mac’s Jackpot, a winner of two straight including a wire-to-wire score in this class last time out. He is the 7-2 second choice from post eight. Air Strike finished second to Mac’s Jackpot two weeks ago and is 5-1 from post five for Brent Holland and Erv Miller. Machiavelli, The Wall, Pretty Boy Swag, Maroma Beach, and Avatar J complete the field. “I don’t really know a lot of those horses very well. The seven-hole on a half is never ideal, but he is the morning line favorite,” Gillis reasoned. “He looks like he should be competitive in there, we’ll see how it turns out. He’s pretty versatile. Tyler can leave with him or take back. If we take back, obviously we’re at the mercy of the pace, so we’ll see. “I am curious to see how he gets over the track,” Gillis continued. “It’s maybe something that we’ll look to down the road, maybe he’ll be a Levy-type horse. Who knows?” Saturday’s 12-race card also features a $44,000 Open Handicap Pace and a $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Gokudo Hanover joined the ranks of harness racing trainer Scott Di Domenico’s stable last fall and quickly became one of the top horses in his barn. He won the local Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway twice and placed another two times over the winter. Di Domenico thought enough of the gelding to enter him in the first leg of the George Morton Levy Series March 17. However, the day before the race, Di Domenico found Gokudo Hanover in a state of shock. “He jogged that morning and he was OK,” Di Domenico recalled. “Around lunchtime, he got violent. He was really uncharacteristically in pain and uncomfortable. That’s certainly not part of his temperament, so we shipped him immediately to the Mid-Atlantic Clinic. “It was terrible, especially a horse of his personality. He’s very friendly, quiet, nice, real pleasurable horse. To see him up and down and in a lot of pain was certainly alarming.” Gokudo Hanover suffered from an episode of colic and required emergency surgery. A portion of his intestine was removed, and surgeons also discovered and took out a non-cancerous tumor. Gokudo Hanover pulled through, but the budding pacing star went to the sidelines. “He missed quite a bit of time. He was probably out two to three months just not doing much of anything. Just healing up and making sure everything was OK,” Di Domenico said. “It was a little bit questionable of how he was going to come back. It seems like most horses who have that don’t come back quite as well as they did before they had it. “When he started back to work and back on the track, he had no issues of any sort that would lead you to believe anything was out of the ordinary. He jogged back, trained back, did everything right,” the trainer said. With a significant amount of money still on his card from his early-season success, Di Domenico had no choice but to bring Gokudo Hanover back in Open company, finishing off-the-board in two starts in the Great Northeast Open Series this August.  The 6-year-old posted two victories at Freehold in September before returning to Yonkers. The Cam’s Card Shark son worked his way back up the class-ladder, his comeback culminating with a pair of wins in the $35,000 Preferred and $44,000 Open Handicap Pace November 10 and 17, respectively. “We took him to Freehold and he kind of woke up down there and it’s been smooth sailing since,” Di Domenico said. “It’s really gratifying to see where he was, to see how much fun we had early with him, then to the nightmarish day where he was in so much pain, shut him down, bring him back. It’s fulfilling and most of all, to see the horse overcome such struggle is most gratifying.” Gokudo Hanover left from post five in his latest win, but Techtor Hanover and Mach It So were faster into the first turn, leaving Gokudo Hanover parked outside in third. Dan Dube put the whip on Gokudo Hanover’s tail and forged to the lead in :26.2.  Gokudo Hanover sped through a half-mile in :55.1 and soon felt pressure from the looming first-over favorite Mach It So. Dube kicked out the plugs entering the backstretch and raised the lines high in his left hand as he urged the gelding on with the whip in his right. Mach It So reached Gokudo Hanover’s wheel past three-quarters in 1:23, but wouldn’t get any closer. Under a sustained drive, Gokudo Hanover turned back his rival and kicked away to a length win in 1:52. “It was a big mile. The front end didn’t hold up great Saturday night. He went some big fractions. He’s been really, really good,” Di Domenico said. “The other thing about that horse, he’s one of the horses that just loves Yonkers. He really, really enjoys that track, he gets around it so handily and that’s where he does his best work.” Gokudo Hanover will try to double-up in the Open this week. He will start from post six as a 7-1 shot in the $44,000 feature. Bettor Memories was second in this race two weeks ago and is the 3-1 favorite from post four while last week’s Preferred winner Always At My Place is 7-2 from post five. Techtor Hanover, last week’s runner-up, drew post three and is 9-2. Theartofconfusion, Soho Lennon, Great Vintage, and Mach It So complete the lineup. “I think he’s up against it,” Di Domenico admitted. “There’s some speed inside of him, probably in a spot where he has to race from off the pace, but that’s pretty common when you win the Open and you have to move to the outside. When you’re racing for the kind of money they race for and have a horse of that caliber, you take everything in stride and just try to handle every week differently.” Saturday’s 12-race card also features a $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace and a $35,000 3- and 4-Year Old Open Handicap Pace. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  YONKERS SETS SUNDAY POST TIME, ‘DOUBLE’ INFO Yonkers Raceway’s Sunday matinee this weekend (Nov. 25th) shall offer a first post of 11:10 AM. Races 1 through 7 go as those added-distance ‘French’ trots, with post times as such… 1st  – 11:10 AM 2nd  – 11:40 AM 3rd  – 12:10 PM 4th  – 12:40 PM 5th – 1:10 PM 6th – 1:40 PM 7th – 2:10 PM Post time for the 12th-race finale is 3:50 PM.    Sunday’s ‘New York, New York Double’ is comprised of the first race from Aqueduct (post time 12:20  PM) and the fifth race from Yonkers (post time 1:10 PM). Program pages accompany this release.   After this weekend, the next Sunday matinee is Dec. 2nd (post time TBA).    By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, November 20, 2018-Yonkers Raceway's Sunday matinee this weekend (Nov. 25th) shall offer a first post of 11:10 AM. Races 1 through 7 go as those added-distance 'French' trots, with post times as such... 1st - 11:10 AM 2nd - 11:40 AM 3rd - 12:10 PM 4th - 12:40 PM 5th - 1:10 PM 6th - 1:40 PM 7th - 2:10 PM Post time for the finale is 3:10 PM, 3:30 PM or 3:50 PM, depending upon whether it's a 10-, 11- or 12-race card (drawn later Tuesday afternoon). Sunday's 'New York, New York Double' is comprised a one race from Yonkers and one race from Aqueduct (information updated when available). After this weekend, the next Sunday matinee is Dec. 2nd (post time TBA). by Frank Ducker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 18, 2018-Dan Dube does not discriminate. He and Jack Vernon ($8.40) went the distance Sunday afternoon (Nov. 18th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $54,800 Open Handicap Trot. The previous evening, Dube and Gokudo Hanover wired 'em in the week's marquee pace. Back to 'Jack,' who won a several-horse harness racing scrum for the early lead, then gave nothing else a shot. The nine-horse feature (one came up ill) served as the opener of seven added-distance 'French' trots. From post position No. 4, Jack Vernon stuffed Gruden (Brian Sears) in behind, setting up shop before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. It was a :57.1 half and 1:26.3 three-quarters before invading 3-2 favorite I Know My Chip (Jim Marohn Jr.) made his second move. Wide early into a four-hole, I Know My Chip came first-up, but the bid was both brief and ineffective. Meanwhile, Jack Vernon was gone, widening past the 1:55.3 milepost and opening four lengths in and out of the final turn. He finished\ it off by 2¼ lengths, getting the mile-and-a-quarter in 2:25. Andy Ray (Jason Bartlett) offered late foot to wind up second, with Gruden, Lean Hanover (Jordan Stratton) and Lord Cromwell (Matt Kakaley) settling for the minors. I Know My Chip backpedaled to last. For second choice Jack Vernon, a 5-year-old Muscle Hill gelding owned by Mr. (Andy) Miller Stable and trained by Mrs. (Julie) Miller, it was his 10th win in 25 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $66, the triple returned $466.50 and the superfecta paid $2,828. Technical difficulties resulted in the cancellation of the 'New York, New York Double' for Sunday afternoon. The next Sunday matinee is Nov. 25th (post time TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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