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CHESTER, PA - The Bar Hopping - Bella Dolce filly Bella Bellini became the fastest three-year-old harness racing trotter in North America so far in 2021 when she won at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon in 1:53.1. Dexter Dunn kept the talented miss in the pocket behind Worthy Of Honor early as that one put down numbers of :28.1 and :57.4, then pulled her out to challenge the leader nearing the 1:25.3 three-quarters. Bella Bellini cleared to the lead before the end of the far turn, and tacked on her own second successive :27.3 quarter to win by 5¾ lengths over the pacesetter while going comfortably, indicating much more is to come from trainer Nifty Norman and owner David McDuffee, who has long been associated with this filly's famous family. The 1:53.1 broke a seasonal standard for sophomores which had lasted all of 22 minutes, set in the previous race at Philly, when another offspring of Bar Hopping, the gelding Mister Boinga, caught pacesetting favorite Shinkansen to lower his record over three seconds to 1:53.4. Tim Tetrick handled the winner, now 4-of-9 lifetime, for trainer Jill Roland and owner Bernard O'Brien in the richest race of the day, which went for $12,800. BELLA DOICE REPLAY   The two fleet three-year-olds got their races in before a soaking rain moved through the area, forcing the downgrading of the racing surface to "sloppy." A pair of $11,600 contests for fast-class older performers were held after the rainstorm, and in the "tougher" division on paper, the Muscles Yankee four-year-old mare No Mas Drama continued undefeated in three seasonal starts, with the new Michael Russo trainee leaving no doubt she was the best in a pacesetting 1:53.2 lifetime mark. Ginnis Stables LLC owns the winner of $258,305, and that bankroll should be climbing quickly in short order if she can retain her current sharpness. In the other sub-feature, Only For Justice and Moveoutofmyway K exchanged the lead before Only For Justice grabbed it for good early in the backstretch, though Moveoutofmyway K came at him again at the end of a 1:55.2 mile to be defeated only by a length. Only For Justice, making his second start here after coming from Mohawk, is a Justice Hall gelding and a winner of $273,147; he is trained by Andrew Harris for Ecurie Gaetan Bono Inc. Harrah's Philadelphia still has three cards coming up this racing week: the usual Friday card at 12:25 p.m., and then a special live program on Kentucky Derby Day Saturday, with the same post time as Sunday's racing, 12:40 p.m. Program pages for these cards will be available at For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Eazy Pass justified her backing as the heaviest sort of favorite by brushing to the lead nearing the three-quarters and going on to tie her mark of 1:54.3 in the $40,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championship for sophomore trotting fillies Tuesday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The 32-1 shot P L Olivia was hustled away and put outsiders in behind her before the :27.3 quarter, and she went on to parked second choice quarter-mover Trip Sevens, leaving that rival out in the air past the :56.4 half. Eazy Pass, whom Dexter Dunn had moved out behind Trip Sevens perhaps in anticipation of her clearing, thus had the second-over journey, but before the 1:26 third panel the victorious filly was on her way to the lead, which she maintained to the wire. Eazy Pass won by four lengths over the resilient P L Olivia, with Frankly My Dear third. EAZY PASS REPLAY   Eazy Pass, who won the first and third Weiss prelims for her group while skipping the second, now sports a 4-3-1-0 seasonal record since trainer Nifty Norman removed the trotting hopples over the winter. The daughter of Muscle Hill was successful for the partnership of Melvin Hartman, David McDuffee, and Diamond Creek Racing. The partnership of trainer John Butenschoen and driver Tyler Buter clicked three times on the Tuesday card to run their Monday/Tuesday total record to 7-5-1-1 - all with three-year-olds making their first starts of the year. The Donato Hanover gelding Truffles Too and a filly by that sire, Melania, both won in 1:54.4. Fastest three-year-old trotter on the card was the Deweycheatumnhowe gelding Dewey Arnold, now winner of two straight here and home Tuesday in 1:54.1, just a tick off the fastest sophomore trotting mile anywhere this year, for driver Jason Bartlett and trainer David Dewhurst. Four April trotting miles in under 1:55f by three-year-olds is a pretty noteworthy feat. Racing resumes on Kentucky Derby Day Saturday at 12:30 p.m.; joining Pocono's temporary expatriate colony from Ontario on Saturday will be 2017 World Driving Champion James Macdonald. Program pages will be available at For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/The Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The maiden Bar Hopping filly Bella Bellini, making her first start since October 10, equaled the fastest clocking by any three-year-old trotter in North America this year, 1:54, when she won her $17,500 division of the final preliminary of her Bobby Weiss Series action Tuesday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Living up to her pedigree (in addition to her sire, her dam is the $700G+ winner Bella Dolce, she a daughter of champion and producer of three $500G+ winners Pizza Dolce), Bella Bellini had the lead before the :28.3 quarter, backed the half off to :58, then sprinted to hit the three-quarters in 1:25.3 before drawing clear to win by 15¼ lengths for driver Dexter Dunn, trainer Nifty Norman, and owner David McDuffee, who has had a long involvement with this family. The 1:54 clocking equals the figure put up by the gelding Winning Ticket over the 5/8-mile Miami Valley oval, and is superior to any time posted by a sophomore filly on any size of track. BELLA BELLINI REPLAY   That previous mark for fillies of 1:54.3 had been established 32 minutes earlier at Pocono by another Dunn/Norman/McDuffee horse, the Muscle Hill filly Eazy Pass. Owned by McDuffee in partnership with Melvin Hartman and Diamond Creek Racing, Eazy Pass also proved uncatchable on the lead, and was seven lengths clear at the finish to run her Weiss record to 2-for-2. EAZY PASS REPLAY   Prospects for a sweep for Dunn/Norman and a second win for Team Eazy Pass were dashed when Rebel Girl, a winner in her only previous Weiss outing, was scratched sick. Taking advantage was another daughter of Bar Hopping, Nancy Bar, who rode in the pocket then edged favored Lexa Hanover to break her maiden in 1:58 for driver Fern Paquet Jr., trainer Rob Harmon, and owner Tom Haughton. NANCY BAR REPLAY   So Nifty Norman has three fillies undefeated in this section of the Weiss, but only the double winner Eazy Pass (the only double winner this section produced) garnered enough points to make the provisionary list of top point winners, which reads: Alpine; Etra De Vie; Eazy Pass; Nancy Bar; P L Olivia; Lexa Hanover; Frankly My Dear and Trip Sevens (tie); and Orange Zest. Two horses, Kayla's Playmate and R Speed Of Light, will decide AE1 / AE2 by luck of the draw if needed. Bella Bellini and Rebel Girl are tied for 16th. The pairing of driver Mark MacDonald and trainer Ray Schnittker, along with driver Jason Bartlett, visited Victory Lane three times on the afternoon. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/The Downs

HARNESS RACING PACER OF THE WEEK: CLOSING STATEMENT This six-year-old gelding trained by Randy Bendis was coming off an excellent win in his previous race on April 10 in 1:50:3 over a group of $10,000 condition pacers. On Saturday afternoon at Pocono, Closing Statement stepped up to face the $11,200 conditioners and left from post position #5 in a field of eight as the 5-2 second choice. The favorite was Aflame Hanover, who was coming off an equally impressive win and was bet down to 3-5. But it was Closing Statement who took control of the race with a move to the lead on the front stretch. From there, even with the fractions zipping by pretty quickly, driver George Napolitano kept his pacer going strong. In the lane, Closing Statement held off Aflame Hanover by a length-and-a-half for his second straight win, and his time of 1:50:2 matched the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. Honorable Mention Pacers Incaseyoudidntknow (Marcus Mller, Les Givens), who completed a sweep of the preliminary legs of the Bobby Weiss series for three-year-old pacing fillies on Monday by winning in a career-best 1:52:2. Given Up Terror (Anthony Napolitano, Robert Lounsbury), who moved up his claiming price but still won his third straight at Pocono on Sunday in 1:52:3. Billy Clyde (Mark MacDonald, Ray Schnittker), a three-year-old colt who picked up his second straight condition win at Pocono to start his season on Tuesday, doing so in a career-best 1:51:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GREAT UNKNOWN A five-year-old gelding trained by Ron Burke, Great Unknown won the last time he was at Pocono back in March. He was also coming off a win at Yonkers in his previous race on April 8. On Sunday night, he was made the 3-5 favorite as he left from an inside post in a field of seven against a group of $10,000 condition trotters. With Matt Kakaley doing the driving, Great Unknown sat third in the early part of the mile. He launched first-over on the back stretch to speed by the pacesetter Moon Bridge. From there, nobody was able to hang with Great Unknown as he trotted away to win in 1:53:3, a new career-mark for him and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. Honorable Mention Trotters Heat Wave Hanover (Brian Sears, Jennifer Bongiorno), who followed up a win at Harrah's with one on Pocono on Sunday in a career-best 1:54:3. Meetmeinthemiddle (George Napolitano Jr., William Adamczyk), who rolled to his second straight claiming handicap win on Monday and did so in a career-best 1:55:1. Eazy Pass (Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman), a three-year-old filly who racked up her second straight Bobby Weiss series win on Tuesday and did so in a career-best 1:54:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MORE THAN KUTE This pacing mare with Simon Allard in the bike beat a 1-9 shot, among others, in a condition on Tuesday, scoring at 54-1 for a $110.80 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARK MACDONALD MacDonald has made Pocono more of a regular stop on his schedule this year, and it's paying off, as evidenced by back-to-back driving doubles on Monday and Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN Norman had the best hand in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday for three-year-old trotting fillies, winning two of the three divisions with Eazy Pass and Bella Bellini. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for The Downs                            

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono hosted its first Tuesday harness racing card of the year, with the spotlight on three $17,500 divisions of the first preliminary of the Bobby Weiss Series for three-year-old trotting fillies. And all three divisions finished the same way - with the red, black, and white colors of two-time Driver of the Year Dexter Dunn going under the wire first with the winner. Dunn combined with trainer Nifty Norman and the ownership grouping of Melvin Hartman, David McDuffee, and Diamond Creek Racing in two of the successes. The first came with the Muscle Hill miss Eazy Pass, who raced second-over, then made a "nifty" move to the inside off the far turn and came up the Pocono Pike to post a maiden victory in 1:56. EAZY PASS REPLAY   The team also enjoyed success with the Cantab Hall filly Rebel Girl, who swept to the lead entering the far turn and reduced her mark to 1:56.2 in her initial outing of 2021. REBEL GIRL REPLAY   The fastest of Dunn's three Weiss successes (he had a total of four over the entire card) was behind the Chapter Seven miss Trip Sevens, who moved to the lead early and was under little duress afterwards in lowering her speed standard to 1:55.3. Trainer Blake MacIntosh co-owns the winner with Steve Heimbecker and Mortgage Boys Stable. TRIP SEVENS REPLAY   Pocono will be back in action on Saturday afternoon, featuring the second preliminary of the Bobby Weiss Series for sophomore pacing colts - with the entrants likely to enjoy the fact that One Eight Hundred, a devastating 1:50.2 - :26.1 winner in the first prelim, will be missing from the entrants. First post Saturday is at 12:30 p.m.; program pages will be available at For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/The Downs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Colossal Stride A was wound up early in the Saturday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands, so his driver Dexter Dunn had to change the game plan. Colossal Stride A, an Australian import who has been stateside for only a little more than two months, recorded his fourth win in six starts since shipping over from Down Under, taking the $27,500 high-end conditioned pace in a lifetime-best 1:50. In a field that saw one scratch decrease the field size to five, Dunn was on board with trying to win from off the pace with the 3-5 favorite. "I was planning on going to the back and chasing the horses home," said the Big M's current dash-win leader. "But when the gate closed, he hit his leg on my bike, so my horse got a little excited in the first turn, so we moved to the front." Dunn went after early leader Shnitzledosomethin and grinded his way to the top at the half in :54.3. On the far turn, Yacht Seelster, who defeated Colossal Stride A the last time the duo met on March 20, was on the go after moving from fifth after the half and inched closer to the leader as they straightened away for the final three-sixteenths. "My horse heard a noise coming," said Dunn, the two-time defending United States Harness Writers Association Driver of the Year. "When you have a good horse like that chasing you, you never know. But when my horse heard the other horses coming, he accelerated." Colossal Stride A then paced home in :27 to record a 1½-length win over Yacht Seelster. U S Captain was third. COLOSSAL STRIDE A REPLAY   A 6-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight -Tailamade Lombo who is trained by Nifty Norman, Colossal Stride A returned $3.40 to his backers. He now has 12 wins from 35 career starts, good for earnings of $94,413 for owners Paul Sunderhaus, Derek Menchhofer, En Ess Stable and Enzed Racing Stable. THE FAB FOUR: Leading trainer Jeff Cullipher padded his lead atop the Big M conditioner standings with four winners on the card. Cullipher, whose horses won 125 races during 2020, scored with Lovedbythemasses ($6.20 to win in the third race), Rose Run Vantage ($14.80, fifth), Bechers Brook A ($7.00, seventh) and Dealer's Table ($31.00, 10th). He now has 29 winners at the Big M's current Winter-Spring-Championship meeting, 14 more than Ron Burke, who sits in the second spot. A BETTING BONANZA: All-source wagering totaled $3,444,133 on the 13-race card, the 13th time out of 14 Saturdays this year betting has broken the $3-million barrier. Overall, the $3-million plateau has been reached 18 times out of a total of 27 programs during 2021. A year ago, betting was $3 million or more a total of 11 times. A LITTLE MORE: Betting on the 50-cent Pick-4s was vigorous, as the two popular puzzles combined to see action of just over $203,000. ... Dunn led the driver colony with three winners. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Displaying a remarkable closing kick, Major Occasion A was airborne through a final quarter of :26 in her seasonal harness racing debut to become the second straight Friday night feature winner to do it in last to first fashion, taking the $22,500 Winners Over $50,000 Lifetime for pacing fillies and mares in 1:52.4 at The Meadowlands. "She's a good mare," said winning driver Dexter Dunn. "Her [1:54.4] qualifier last week was a good one." And it proved to be more than enough to get her ready for the assignment at hand. It appeared that the race belonged to Betalady, who was on the lead through soft fractions of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:25.4. Major Occasion A opted to race from last in the six-horse field for most of the mile, picking up live cover at the five-eighths from 9-5 favorite Sweet Lucy Lou, who was last week's come-from-behind winner. Off the far turn, the 'Major' tipped off her cover before rocketing home to record a 1-length win over Betalady. Sweet Lucy Lou was third. MAJOR OCCASION A REPLAY   "When you're sitting back last and you're chasing good mares, it's going to be hard to catch them," said Dunn. "But she really knocked it down through the stretch. She was good off the helmet and should have a good season." Trained by Nifty Norman for owners Enzed Racing Stable, Major Occasion A, a 7-year-old daughter of Art Major-Fake Occasion, returned $6.40 to win as the 2-1 second choice in the wagering. She now has 21 wins from just 68 career outings, good for earnings of $415,273. HE'S A GRAND OLD MAN: Even though he was making the 293rd start of his career, 14-year-old Statesman N looked like a kid out there in the $12,500 Play Meadowlands Final for $7,500 claimers, scoring by a determined head in 1:53.3. Owned and trained by Yogi Sheridan, Statesman N completed a two-race sweep of the series by brushing to the lead before the half and holding off the pocket-sitting Northern Rock after the pair duked it out toe-to-toe through the stretch. Statesman N, a gelded son of Christian Cullen-Club Sport who was driven by Dunn, now has 58 career wins and lifetime earnings of $949,483. As the heavy 2-5 public choice, he returned $2.80 to win. A LITTLE MORE: Mark MacDonald continued his winning ways by pacing the driving colony with three winners on the card, giving him eight victories over the last five programs. ... There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $7,384. Those with five correct collected $96.14. ... All-source handle totaled $2,701,155. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. by Dae Little, for The Meadowlands  

YONKERS, N.Y. – If harness racing future wagering were offered today on the Borgata Pacing Series Final, which will be held Monday, April 19, 2021 at Yonkers Raceway after five preliminary legs, the two favorites would undoubtably be Let It Ride and This Is The Plan. After 40 of the 47 eligible pacers were entered into the Borgata Series first leg and split into five divisions, those two favorites found themselves in the same split – the first one of the series – which begins tonight (March 15) in race three. Let It Ride won two Group 1 stakes in Australia in 2018, but lost his form and settled into a winless rut in 2020.  He shipped to America last fall to Nifty Norman’s stable and added Lasix, which Norman credited as a key change for the 8-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding.  Let It Ride is undefeated in six U.S. starts, including a 1:48.1 victory in the $28,000 Meadowlands open/preferred handicap Jan. 2 and an off the pace victory in 1:52.1 with a :26.4 final quarter in the $30,000 Yonkers open handicap Jan. 11, his latest pari-mutuel outing.  Let It Ride tuned up for the Borgata Series with a 1:54 qualifier at the Meadowlands March 6. He drew post four in the $40,000 Borgata opening division and with regular reinsman Dexter Dunn set to drive, is the 9-5 morning line favorite. While Let It Ride will make his first Grand Circuit start in the Borgata, This Is The Plan is no stranger to the series; he’s been an active player in North America’s top races since 2017. Career highlights include wins in the $176,000 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby in 2020, the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final and $200,000 Prix d’Été in 2019 and the $260,000 Progress Pace in 2018.  In his most recent stakes outing, George Brennan found This Is The Plan a perfect second-over trip from post seven in the $125,000 Invitational Pace for Borgata Series Eligibles at Yonkers Nov. 28. The Ron Burke trainee capitalized, earning a half-length victory in 1:52. This Is The Plan then finished second in a Meadowlands preferred Dec. 5 before getting a winter break. He returned with a 1:54 qualifier at the Swamp March 6 to prepare for the Borgata Series. This Is The Plan drew post one in the Borgata first division and with regular driver Yannick Gingras in the sulky, is 3-1 on the morning line. Other players in the Borgata first division include Western Joe, American History, Stars Align, Rodeo Rock, Bronx Seelster, and Tellitsabb. The second division of the Borgata first leg features the returns of American Mercury, who switches barns to the Norman stable and finished a nose ahead of Let It Ride in the March 6 qualifier, and None Better, who is back off two qualifying wins (1:50.4 at Pompano Feb. 15 and 1:50.1 at the Meadowlands Feb. 27) and is now in the Nancy Takter stable. The third division features the Grand Circuit debut of Pat Stanley for Shane Tritton, the Yonkers return of San Domino, the beaten favorite in the Invitational for Borgata Series Eligibles last fall, and Tookadiveoffdipper, who was third in that Invitational.  The fourth division pits several stalwarts of the Yonkers open handicap pace against each other, including Hesa Kingslayer, Ideal Jimmy, The Wall, Shnitzledosomethin, and Ostro Hanover.  The final division of the Borgata first leg sees the return of Backstreet Shadow, winner of the $164,000 Roll With Joe in 2020, and the 16-1 upsetter of the 2020 $100,000 Potomac Pace, Leonidas, who captured a $30,000 Yonkers open in his pari-mutuel return March 1. Monday’s card features a $2,884 pick six carryover. The wager begins in race three and encompasses all five divisions of the Borgata first leg, plus the $25,000 preferred handicap pace. The wager features a $1 minimum stake, a 20% takeout rate, and no jackpot provision. Free full-card past performances are available here. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday through Friday with a first post time of 7:15 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

It looks like motherhood can wait for Pat Matters. The 6-year-old harness racing mare, who is this season's fastest trotter thanks to her track-record 1:51.2 mile at Dover Downs on Jan. 5, is being pointed toward a Grand Circuit campaign by owner Patricia Stable and trainer Nifty Norman rather than retirement and a career as a broodmare. "We were of two minds about what to do with her," Norman said. "There was some thought of retiring her and breeding her, but she's raced so good this year we're going to press on and stake her. The owner kind of figured she deserved a shot against those better ones." On Saturday, Pat Matters returns to The Meadowlands for the first time since her second-place finish in November's TVG Series championship for female trotters. She is the morning line's 7-2 second choice in the sixth race, a $22,500 conditioned trot. The millionaire JL Cruze is the 3-1 favorite. Pat Matters, bred by Patricia Stable, is by Explosive Matter out of Dibrizzi and a half-sister to Crazy About Pat, a 2013 New York Sire Stakes champion. Unraced at age 2, Pat Matters has won 17 of 50 career starts and $370,282. Since adding Lasix last October, she has won three of nine races and $91,610. She was fourth in last year's Breeders Crown Mare Trot. "She's been a lot better ever since (Lasix)," Norman said. "She's a very sound horse; a big strong healthy thing." Andy McCarthy will drive Pat Matters on Saturday. McCarthy has driven the mare in six of her past eight races, including the track-record mile at Dover. Pat Matter's 1:51.2 shattered the previous track standard for a trotting mare, 1:53, established by Buck I St Pat in 2008. "Dover is like that, you can be surprised by a time there," Norman said. "But I was surprised by how easily she did it. That was nice to see. I was shocked by how old that record was. That amazes me." Pat Matters will get time off to freshen up for the Grand Circuit, with Norman starting to map out a schedule for the mare. "We just have to put a plan together and see where we're going to start her off," Norman said. "There are some good horses in that division, but we have confidence in her so we're going to take a shot. If you're running in the top three, she can make a good living." Racing begins at 6 p.m. (EST) at The Meadowlands. The Big M and TrackMaster have teamed to regularly provide free past performances for each race card. Past performances can be found here on The Meadowlands website. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Thrice a Breeders Crown competitor but now finally a bride, Kissin In The Sand kept defending Horse of the Year Shartin N at bay and equaled the stakes record in the $300,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace on Saturday (Oct. 31) at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Kissin In The Sand was parked to a :26.4 opening quarter, but cleared command from Shartin N entering the backstretch. Warrawee Ubeaut raced third as the field lined up single file to a :54.2 half, where Caviart Ally tipped first-over from sixth. Caviart Ally's uncovered rush prompted Warrawee Ubeaut to vacate the cones from third and lead the two-wide tier after Kissin In The Sand to three-quarters in 1:22.1. Warrawee Ubeaut drew to equal terms with Kissin In The Sand straightening for the finish, but leveled off nearing the eighth pole. Once arriving at the open stretch, Shartin N shot from the pocket after Kissin In The Sand to mount a final charge after the leader, but finished a length shy of victory. Warrawee Ubeaut finished third with Sweet Lucy Lou sweeping up the pegs for fourth. "I only got on this mare within the last six weeks, but she's been extremely powerful the later half of the season," winning driver Dexter Dunn said after the race. "[We] made a move, got the front, and she kicked really well down the stretch. She's just been vicious lately and she showed it again tonight -- a 1:48.4 mile... a strong run." Kissin In The Sand, a 5-year-old mare by Somebeachsomewhere, collected her seventh win from 11 starts this season and her 26th from 57 overall, earning $1,669,094 for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables. Nancy Takter trains the mare bred by Christina Takter, John Fielding and R A W Equine who missed qualifying for the Breeders Crown at 2, finished second in the Breeders Crown as a 3-year-old, and was third in last year's Mare Pace.   Her 1:48.4 mile equaled the stakes record set by Hana Hanover in 2009. "Nancy did the right thing -- she decided not to take the bye in the eliminations and race the horse. That way, we were afforded the three-hole, and I think that made a big difference in the final," Bud Hatfield said. "It's a very special feeling [to win]. We love this horse; she's such a wonderful animal. I can't be any happier than I am right now." Kissin In The Sand paid $2.80 to win.   by Ray Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Harness racing driver Dexter Dunn drove Amigo Volo to victory for the second week, posting a 1:53 win in the $500,000 Breeders Crown 3-year-old colt and gelding trot on Saturday (Oct. 31) at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Play Trix On Me left quickly along with Back Of The Neck, who advanced to take the lead at the end of a :27.1. Amigo Volo angled from third and rolled by the new leader to take control of the pace. Gliding atop the field, Amigo Volo cut a :56 half with no pressure, but Ready For Moni took to the outside and passed Back Of The Neck and Play Trix On Me at the rail to chase the leader, with Gangster Hanover second-over and Chestnut Hill poised to go wide in the stretch. After reaching three-quarters in 1:24.4, Dunn began to urge Amigo Volo to stay afloat in the stretch as Play Trix On Me found a path inside and driver Joe Bongiorno had his colt closing rapidly. It took a photo finish to separate the huge public choice with the 27-1 shot, but Amigo Volo was a breath ahead and won in 1:53. Play Trix On Me was second, Chestnut Hill passed tired rivals to take third, and Hillexotic, another long shot, picked up the fourth spot. Amigo Volo is trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman for the Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. "It's been an incredible year," 25-year-old co-owner Carter Pinske said before offering a humble comment, saying, "I'm going to have a long career, so I guess it'll be downhill from here." As for Amigo Volo, Pinske said he had one word to describe his colt: "Guts." Amigo Volo, a son of Father Patrick and Margarita Momma, won his eighth race in 14 starts this season with the championship. He returned $3.00 to win. by Frank Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown  

Six weeks ago, harness racing trainer Nifty Norman said he couldn't be happier with the way Amigo Volo looked heading into the rest of the season. As the horse prepares for Saturday's $500,000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters, it's safe to say he remains enthusiastic. Amigo Volo, who was the Breeders Crown champion at age 2, won the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 11 at Red Mile and followed up with a track-record victory in his Crown elimination last Saturday at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Going back to mid-August, he has won five of six races and finished second in the other. "He has not let me down," Norman said. "Even last week, I was kind of mildly shocked at how good he was. He's just solid. He's raced in just about every race there is, and he's as good now as he was at the start. He maybe even better. That's a good sign for a horse." Amigo Volo won his elimination in 1:51.2, the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old trotter at Hoosier Park. The time was just one-fifth of a second off the track's overall record. In Saturday's Breeders Crown final, Amigo Volo will start from post two with driver Dexter Dunn. He is the 6-5 morning-line favorite. Three male trotters this century have won Crown trophies at ages 2 and 3: Gimpanzee, 2018-2019; Father Patrick, 2013-2014; and Muscle Hill, 2008-2009. Amigo Volo is by Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma. For the year, Amigo Volo has won seven of 13 races. Lifetime, the multiple world-record-setting gelding has won 13 of 25 starts and $1.21 million in purses for owners Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. "It won't be easy, but I think that at the moment he's probably the best horse," said Norman, who has won four Breeders Crown finals. "I've got a good driver, a good draw, so I've got as good a shot as anybody." Norman also sends out Chestnut Hill in the event. Chestnut Hill finished second by a neck to Capricornus in the other Breeders Crown elimination. For the year, Chestnut Hill has won three of 14 races, including the Canadian Trotting Classic. The colt is by Muscle Hill out of Poof She's Gone, a filly that provided Norman his first Breeders Crown trophy in 2009. He is owned by Mel Hartman, David McDuffee, and Little E. Hartman and McDuffee bred Chestnut Hill with Herb Liverman. Chestnut Hill will start from post nine, the outermost spot on the gate, with David Miller in the sulky. The colt is 15-1 on the morning line. "I thought he raced really good last week, but then the draw just crushed him," Norman said. "Now you're really relying on luck. But you know what, he's had some bad draws or rough trips and got good finishes out of them. A few things went his way, and he always gets home good. The horse himself is in good shape." Ready For Moni, who won the Goodtimes Stakes and Harry M. Zweig Memorial after finishing second in the Hambletonian, is the 7-2 second choice. Capricornus is 6-1. Norman's Breeders Crown weekend begins Friday with Fire Start Hanover in the $600,000 final for 2-year-old female pacers. The filly had a five-race win streak snapped with a second-place finish to Continualou in her elimination. Fire Start Hanover is the 3-1 favorite, starting from post seven with driver Dunn. "I was very happy with her run," Norman said. "She was sick after Lexington, we brought her home, she had five days off. I only trained her once. I thought she would be kind of short, but she was actually really good. Even though she's drawn seven, I think she'll go really good. I think that run last week will really help her and she's good either way, she can leave or she can race from off the pace. "She's a nice filly and I think she's got a good shot. She's a big, strong thing, and has just gotten better as the year has gone on. I've got a lot of confidence in her." Harrah's Hoosier Park hosts the four $600,000 Breeders Crown finals for 2-year-olds on Friday. The remaining eight finals, for 3-year-olds and older horses, are Saturday. Racing begins at 6 p.m. (EDT) both nights. The 2020 Breeders Crown, presented by the Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership, is the 37th edition of the $6 million event. Harrah's Hoosier Park will provide a free live high-definition streaming of the races on YouTube. Following is the field for Saturday's Breeders Crown 3-year-old colt-and-gelding trot final. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Capricornus-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-6/1 2-Amigo Volo-Dexter Dunn-R. Nifty Norman-6/5 3-Ready For Moni-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Takter-7/2 4-Play Trix On Me-Joe Bongiorno-Linda Toscano-20/1 5-Hillexotic-Trond Smedshammer-Trond Smedshammer-20/1 6-Maesteraemon-Scott Zeron-Marcus Melander-15/1 7-Back Of The Neck-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-8/1 8-Beads-Brian Sears-Per Engblom-8/1 9-Chestnut Hill-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-15/1 10-Gangster Hanover-Andrew McCarthy-Ake Svanstedt-20/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

Amigo Volo might not have been himself the week following last month's Hambletonian Stakes, but after a brief respite and consecutive wins, he appears primed for a strong finish to his 3-year-old harness racing campaign. A multiple world-record-setter and Breeders Crown champion at age 2, Amigo Volo has won four of nine races this season. He competes Friday in the first of two Keystone Classic divisions for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadows, where he is the 6-5 morning-line favorite with regular driver Dexter Dunn. Amigo Volo finished fourth in the Hambletonian on Aug. 8 at The Meadowlands. He started from post 10, hustled to the front in a :26.2 opening quarter, and then had traffic issues after yielding the lead to Threefiftytwo. He made up multiple lengths in the stretch but ended up 4-3/4 lengths behind winner Ramona Hill. The next week, Amigo Volo finished third in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes after holding the lead in the stretch. It was the gelding's sixth start in as many weeks, so trainer Nifty Norman gave the horse time to freshen up and Amigo Volo responded. He heads to the Keystone Classic off wins in the final preliminary round of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and the series championship. "I'm very proud of the horse," Norman said. "We tried to have him at his best for the Hambo, and I thought he was, things just didn't work out for him. But I thought the horse really raced good that day. "Then there is always a little bit of a bounce after that. You can't be good all the time; for every up, there is going to be a down. He was a little bit down his next start. He was just flat, and that's not like him. So, we gave him a little bit of time off and he perked right up and has really done well. He's been super his last two races. He looks like he's back to himself again." Amigo Volo is a son of Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma. For his career, he has won 10 of 21 starts and earned $946,719 for owners Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. In addition to winning last year's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters and this year's Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, Amigo Volo's victories include the 2019 Matron Stakes and divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes. He holds world records for 2-year-old geldings on a five-eighths-mile track (1:52.4) and mile track (1:52.3). Amigo Volo is eligible to Bluegrass Stakes, Kentucky Futurity, Breeders Crown, and Matron the rest of the way. "Last year when we raced him weeks in a row, he really raced good like that," Norman said. "He likes to race, he's a game little bugger. "I couldn't be happier with the way he's heading into the rest of the season. I thought the big tracks would be a disadvantage for him, but he's strong again, so I think we'll be OK. He's a really solid little guy." Ron Burke-trained Patriarch Hanover is the 8-5 favorite in the second Keystone Classic division for the 3-year-old male trotters. He finished third in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. There also are two Keystone Classic divisions for 3-year-old male pacers. Jim Campbell's Sandbetweenmytoes is the 5-2 favorite in the first and Burke's Cattlewash gets the 5-2 nod in the second. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

PACER OF THE WEEK: SEMI TOUGH His name suggests that this four-year-old gelding trained by harness racing great Ron Burke is only partially rugged. But his career record suggests otherwise, after earning nearly $500,000 in the first two years racing. Semi Tough has been at it again lately, winning back to back starts at the Meadows and Yonkers coming into the featured $14,000 condition pace on Saturday afternoon at Pocono. Leaving from post position #5 in a field of nine as the 3-1 third choice on the board, Semi Tough was able to take the lead on the front stretch. Several horses took shots at that lead throughout the race, but driver Joe Bongiorno kept him afloat. In the end, Semi Tough gutted it out, holding off long-shot closers Branquinho and Ferdinand A for the victory, his third in a row, in 1:50;3. Honorable Mention Bakersfield (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who followed up a win at Harrah's at Philadelphia with a condition victory at Pocono on Saturday in 1:51:2. I'm Very Special (Tim Tetrick, Pete Pellegrino), a mare who shipped in from Yonkers to capture a rugged condition pace on Sunday in a career-best 1:50:4. Abuckabett Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Tony Alagna), a two-year-old colt who picked up his maiden win in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on Sunday in 1:51:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: VIC'S WINNER One upset can be a fluke, but two straight upsets can sometimes mean that they might not have been upsets in the first place. Vic's Winner was coming into a $14,000 condition trot on Saturday fresh off a surprising win in his last start at 23-1 in a career-best 1:52:4. Considering he was moving up in class on Saturday, Vic's Winner received even less consideration at the windows, going off at 30-1. Driver John Kakaley was able to position Vic's Winner in the pocket early behind pacesetter Waiting On A Woman. As other horses tried hard on the outside, the five-year-old gelding trained by Chris Lakata saved ground and energy before making a burst up the passing lane in the stretch. Vic's Winner took over the lead and held off Fashion Creditor by a half-length in 1:54 for his second straight victory at long odds. Honorable Mention Wisenheimer (George Nepolitano Jr., Jenny Melander), who returned to Pocono for his second straight victory on the oval, doing so in a condition trot on Saturday in 1:55:1. Flawless Countrry (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), a two-year-old filly who followed up two straight wins at the Meadows with a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win at Pocono on Monday in a career-best 1:54:1. Zapaca (Tyler Buter, Dale Gilmour), who picked up his second consecutive condition win at Pocono on Tuesday, scoring in 1:55:4. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: VIC'S WINNER He was not only the trotter of the week, but, at 30-1, this trotter's $2 win ticket on Saturday at Pocono paid the most of any winning horse the past week, yielding $62.40. DRIVER OF THE WEEKP: DEXTER DUNN Dunn has enjoyed stakes action the past few weeks at Pocono, and he really rolled on Sunday night with two Stallion Series and one Sire Stakes win among the races held for the two-year-old male pacers. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN Norman dominated the action on Monday during the Stallion Series for two-year-old trotting fillies, as his trainees won three of the four divisions that were held. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for The Downs              

Gus Dovi has fond memories of riding horses during his childhood in Sicily. Years later in the U.S., those remembrances were a factor in propelling him into harness racing horse ownership soon after the opening of The Meadowlands in 1976. Now, he has Bettor Memories. Bettor Memories, a 7-year-old male pacer, has been in Dovi's small ownership stable since January 2016. Since then, the gelding has won 31 races and $653,430. More importantly to Dovi, the horse has consistently provided enjoyment. "For me, it's not all the money, although it's very nice, don't misunderstand me," Dovi said. "It's the idea that he's racing against some very good horses. Me and my wife enjoy going to the track on the nights he races. If he's competitive week after week, that's the fun of it. If he's in the top three, I'm very happy, always. I just have a passion for the Standardbred, it's something I enjoy." Bettor Memories, trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman, has won three of six races this year and been worse than third only once. His next start is in Thursday's $50,000 invitational handicap at Dover Downs, where he is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. Backstreet Shadow is the 5-2 favorite and Jesse Duke N, unbeaten in three races since arriving in the U.S. from Down Under, is 9-2. "He's racing well this year," Dovi said about Bettor Memories, who is a son of Bettor's Delight out of Allamerican Memoir. "He's been a pleasant surprise (since he was purchased). He came along very good and has done very well for us. I owe a lot of that to Nifty. He watches over him carefully; he manages him very well." Dovi, who lives in northern New Jersey, moved to the U.S. when he was 10. Following the opening of The Meadowlands, he got to know several horsemen through his printing business, which did work for the Big M. "As a kid, I always rode horses," Dovi said. "I've always loved the animal itself. It's the reason I was fascinated when The Meadowlands opened up. They had the stables there and I used to really enjoy going down there. That's the reason I got involved in the racing, because I like the animal." Dovi's first memorable horse was J J's Cornell in the early 1980s. Bettor Memories is his most recent. The horse was a Grand Circuit winner at age 3 and won a preliminary division of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series last season. He is eligible to the Levy, now called the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, which begins March 14 and concludes April 18 at Yonkers Raceway. "I think Bettor Memories is the best one I've had," Dovi said. "I enjoy watching him race, watching him compete. He has his good weeks and he has his bad weeks, like any other horse or any other athlete, but he's very competitive. When he's on his game, he's very good. "Of course, you always need a little luck, there's no question. So, you hope for a little luck. But he's a very nice horse. We'll see what happens." Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) Thursday at Dover Downs. The invitational handicap is race 12 on the 14-race card. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

All eyes were on Major Occasion A who was sent off as the harness racing favorite in the Mares Open Pace at Dover Downs Wednesday night. Valuable Art, last week’s winner, left quickly and Delishka N accepted the pocket trip. The first quarter was paced in :26.4  Tim Tetrick rushed past the quarter pole with Ideal Lifestyle A, who responded clearing the lead.  They led the field to the half in :55 seconds flat.  Major Occasion A was the first to pull past the half. Dexter Dunn had to urge his charge on and accelerated past Ideal Lifestyle A, who offered little resistance.  The three quarters were paced in 1:22.4, a :27.4 quarter.  Baron Remy attempted to shadow Ideal Lifestyle ‘s move but could not gain any ground.  Moments of Joy, Delishka N and Valuable Art all were out paced in the late stages of the race. Major Occasion A sprinted away from the field and won by four and three quarter lengths stopping the teletimer in 1:49.4.  She was sent off at odds of 2/5 .   Major Occasion A was driven to victory by Dexter Dunn for trainer R. Nifty Norman.  The Owners are Enzed Racing Stable Inc.  Ideal Lifestyle held on for 2nd. Tim Tetrick drove for trainer Jim King Jr. Baron Remy finished 3rd and was driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Ron Burke. After the race, trainer Nifty Norman was not sure how Major Occasion A would take to the smaller race track.  She raced on the mile track previously. The huge smile on his face provided a confident answer. Racing continues on Thursday at Dover Downs.  Highlighting the 14 race card is Blue Hen Open Pace in the 10th race.  The feature will be the Preferred Handicap Pace in race 12. Post Time is 4:30 pm by Alex Kraszewski, for Dover Downs    

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