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It’s Academic and driver Yannick Gingras had little trouble handling the field as they led from start to finish in winning the $135,000 Charlies Hill Memorial for older trotters Thursday at Eldorado Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio. Leaving from post two in the ninth race feature, Gringas settled It’s Academic on the lead and pretty much let the trotter do his own thing from there. With stablemate race favorite Mission Accepted (Chris Page) sitting in second place, It’s Academic cut fractions of :28, :56 and 1:25 before pulling away in the stretch to win by two and one-quarter lengths in 1:52.3. Mission Accepted held for second with Majestic Player A (Brett Miller) third. IT’S ACADEMIC REPLAY   A four-year-old stallion by Uncle Peter, It’s Academic is trained by Ron Burke for owner Brad Grant of Milton, Ontario. It was the third win in seven starts this year for It’s Academic, who paid $6.00 to win. “Obviously, I liked the fractions,” said winning driver Yannick Gingras. “They were in my favor. When Chris (Page) at us I thought we would have a good run to the finish but my horse is too good right now. “I drove him once last summer,” Yannick added. “And I really liked him. I’m lucky to get back on him. He is just beautiful to drive. You can drive him with two fingers.” In the sixth race $30,000 Open Trot, Lane Of Stone and driver Jeff Nisonger pulled off the mild upset at nearly 5-1 odds. It was Icanflylikeanangel (Dan Noble), the favorite in the race, shooting to the lead from post five and taking the field to the opening quarter mile in :27.3. Jeffery P (Chris Page) took a tuck in second place with no one else in the field yet to challenge. Then going to the half mile marker, Nisonger came first up slowly from seventh place as the field past the half mile marker in :56.2. Nisonger had Lane Of Stone in full stride and they were able to move into second place on the outside at the three-quarters in 1:25.2. Finally able to collar Icanflylikeanangel by the top of the stretch, Lane Of Stone easily held off the race favorite to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3. Jeffery P was third. LANE OF STONE REPLAY   It was the third win in ten starts this year for Lane Of Stone, a five-year-old stallion by Wishing Stone. He is trained by Mark Winters for owner Henry Horowitz of Brooklyn, NY and paid $11.40 to win. For full race results, click here. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Columbus, OH — Seven trotters will go behind the harness racing gate for the seventh annual Charlie Hill Memorial Trot at Eldorado Scioto Downs on Thursday (May 6). The Ron Burke trained Mission Accepted is the 9-5 morning line favorite. However, don’t discount Whata Swan, who was supplemented to the event. The connections of 18 horses paid the $500 nomination fee to be made eligible to the $135,000 race for 4-year-old and older trotters, but per the conditions, a horse not nominated by March 15 could be supplemented at the time of entry for $10,000. And owner John Barnard of Miami, Fla., took the plunge. “He’s had six starts this year and he’s been racing in the open at Hoosier Park,” said Barnard about the Swan For All stallion who has taken a mark of 1:52.4 both last year and this year at Hoosier. “Based on his performance I decided to give him a shot there at Scioto. I figured it would be a good test for him and let him go against some tougher competition.“ As the second choice at 3-1 on the morning line, it seems like a good gamble for Barnard, regular pilot Trace Tetrick and trainer Luis Quevedo. Barnard, the owner of Fiftydallarbill, also by Swan For All, who earned more than $1 million by winning such events as the Breeders Crown for 2-year-olds and the Indiana Sire Stakes Super Final for 3-year-olds, knows a thing or two about picking out and developing trotters. Barnard purchased Whata Swan from the Michiana Classic Yearling Sale in November 2017 for $39,000. Whata Swan was the first foal out of the Lou’s Legacy mare Tanya’s Legacy, and Barnard has purchased each foal since out of that mare at the yearling sales. “I liked him (Whata Swan) and I’ve got another Swan full sister of his — she got injured as a 2-year-old, so I’m breeding her this year,” explained Barnard. “The (current) 2-year-old (out of that mare), she’s in training right now and I think she’ll be a racehorse. “I tried to talk the breeder into giving me the mare since I’ve bought all of her foals.” So far the investment is paying off. In four racing seasons, Whata Swan has earned $274,523 with $44,600 of that earned this year in six starts going into Thursday’s race. “He (Luis) has done a good job with the horse. Luis has been with me through William Crone; last year was the first year Luis was a trainer on his own. They both (Trace and Luis) are doing a good job with him.” Besides Whata Swan and Mission Accepted, the compact field of seven includes Guardian Angel AS, who will start from the outside post in his seasonal debut. The earner of more than $1.4 million sits at 9-2 on the morning line for trainer Anette Lorentzon. The Charlie Hill Memorial Trot will go off as race nine on Thursday evening’s 11-race card. As part of Caesar’s Entertainment’s commitment to integrity, all entrants must be in detention six hours prior to the advertised post time of the race. For entries for the Thursday card, click here. Scioto Downs offers free programs online for each live racing card, as well as qualifiers, and nightly wagers that include the Player’s Pick-5, with takeout at 14 percent, and the Pick-6, with a 15 percent takeout. The Superfecta, Super High-5, Pick-3, Pick-4 and Pick-5 races all have 100 percent carryovers into the next race of that wager. Live racing is held at Eldorado Scioto Downs each Tuesday-Saturday through Saturday (Sept. 18). Special cards will be held on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. View the entire 2021 racing schedule here. From Scioto Downs

LEBANON, OH - The curtain fell on the 2021 Miami Valley Raceway season on Monday (May 3). Leading driver Dan Noble and leading trainer Ron Burke were congratulated in the winner's circle immediately after the pair combined to win a $50,000 Ohio Sires Stakes race with Heart Of Chewbacca. Noble won 160 races during the 86-day meet to top Brett Miller, Trace Tetrick, Tyler Smith and Chris Page in the standings. All five won over 120 races, and all five racked up purse earnings over $1.2 million. Burke recorded 54 wins to edge Tyler George, Virgil Morgan Jr. and Christi Noble. All four managed stables that earned over $400,000 during the meet. The 2021 titles were the second for both Noble and Burke in the first eight years of the track's existence. From Miami Valley Raceway

WASHINGTON, PA  May 1, 2021 -- Southwind Gendry solidified his spot as one of the tops in his division Saturday at The Meadows when he blazed a Pennsylvania Sires Stake split in 1:49.4. Literl Lad Hanover captured the other division in the $153,856 event for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers, known as the Bye Bye Byrd, giving trainer Ron Burke a stake sweep. Purchased as a yearling for a relatively modest $30,000, Southwind Gendry exceeded expectations by winning the PASS Championship, the Matron and divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes en route to banking $583,069 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, Knox Services and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby. The Bye Bye Byrd was his first outing this year after a pair of qualifiers, but winning driver Yannick Gingras had no interest in a get-reacquainted trip, eschewing an early hole and urging the Always B Miki - Gambler's Passion gelding to the point. "I thought I had the best horse, so I put him in the race," Gingras said. "He's come back great. He's filled out nice, He looks great and feels great." Southwind Gendry maintained the lead without a serious challenge, downing the pocket-sitting Chase H Hanover by 3/4 lengths, with Sweet Angel Boy third.  SOUTHWIND GENDRY REPLAY   Although Literl Lad Hanover earned $101,478 last year, he paced somewhat under the radar in the powerful Burke stable. The Bye Bye Byrd may have been his coming-out party, as he exploded off the cones for David Miller midway through the final turn and pulled off the 17-1 upset in a career-fastest 1:51.1. Stonebridge Reef was second, beaten a head, while Water Sports Teen completed the ticket. "I think we've found the way to race him -- he'll be a closer for a while," Burke said of the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Latte Lady, who races for the Burke stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and the Silva-Purnel group. "We opened him up today. Last week at the Meadowlands he was hot and didn't want to sit in a hole, he didn't want to relax. I think that made a big difference." LITERI LAD HANOVER REPLAY   Burke indicated Southwind Gendry, Literl Lad and a number of his other 3-year-olds are eligible for the PA All Stars at Pocono but that he hasn't finalized their schedules. $100,000 PA Stallion Series Stake -- 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers Rifleman, Highlandbeachsbest, Crunch Hanover, Coalition Hanover and Bazooka Hanover each won a division of the Kentucky Derby Day co-feature. Trainer Chris Ryder enjoyed a triple (Rifleman, Coalition Hanover, Bazooka Hanover) while Dexter Dunn and Scott Zeron each fashioned a double. Highlandbeachsbest had some big-time performances in premier races last year, including an International Stallion win. But he had only one qualifier since shutting down last November, and Zeron said trainer Amanda Fine viewed the stallion series as a prep race for bigger things. "This was a good tightener for him," Zeron said, "but I think he'll go right back to the sires stakes. He's definitely that caliber. He showed it last year, but I think they did the right thing by him by sending him to this race." The son of Somebeachsomewhere - Rockn Highland shot the Lightning Lane to prevail in 1:51.1, 1-1/2 lengths better than Baklouva, with Mikibytheseaside third. Highland Thoroughbred Farm campaigns Highlandbeachsbest. Elsewhere on the program, Lyons Skipper turned in the fastest mile at The Meadows this year when he sprang a 10-1 upset in the $17,600 Open Handicap Pace, scoring in 1:49.3 over Windsong Leo and Wild Wild Western. Tim Tetrick piloted the 4-year-old son of Well Said - CPA for trainer Paul Corey and owner Kenneth Ashba. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday, first post 12:45 PM. For full race results, click here. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

LEBANON, OH - A classy field of Open trotters with $4,603,627 in combined earnings lined up for the $25,000 Open Trot at Miami Valley on Tuesday (April 27), but they were no match for Mission Accepted (Chris Page). The six-year-old son of Manofmanymissions won his third straight top trot, despite being assigned the nine post and being parked three-wide around the entire first turn. Icanflylikeanangel (Dan Noble), the eventual runnerup, left the gate quickly and stopped the first quarter teletimer in :27. Mission Accepted and Page were caught widest of all as a number of hopefuls in the ten-horse field also sped out from the gate vying for good early position. Finally reaching the front just before crossing under the wire the first time, Mission Accepted stopped the midway timer in :56.3 and finished the third stanza in 1:24.2. A :29 final panel enabled the winner to hold off pocket sitting Icanflylikeanangel and show finisher Lane Of Stone (Jeff Nisonger), who rallied from the rear of the field. MISSION ACCEPTED REPLAY   Mission Accepted, who was broke and learned his juvenile lessons from trainer Jeff Conger, now races out of the Ron Burke barn for owners Burke Racing, Knox Services, David Willis and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. With 23 career wins under his girth, Mission Accepted now has earned $926,997 as he marches toward millionaire status. Miami Valley has just four days left in its 2021 season. Post time on Friday (April 30) is 4:05 p.m. when ten of the 14 races will be $17,500 Buckeye Stallion Series events for Ohio-sired three-year-old colts. Due to the Kentucky Derby, post time on Saturday (May 1) will be noon featuring a pair of Open Paces and eight divisions of Buckeye Stallion Series races for fillies. The final two programs, on Sunday (May 2) and Monday (May 3) will feature Ohio Sires Stakes races for the best sophomore pacers and trotters in the state. Post time on those two programs is 2:05 p.m. For full race results, click here. From Miami Valley Raceway

WASHINGTON, PA April 23, 2021 -- Lunar was otherworldly again Friday at The Meadows, demolishing the harness racing field by 7-3/4 lengths in capturing the $23,000 championship of the Tom Kirwan Memorial Pace for sophomore colts and geldings, completing a series sweep and stretching his career unbeaten streak to five. Hammered down to 1-9, Lunar grabbed the early lead for Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. but was shuffled slightly to third before making his move at the half. He opened up a 6-length lead at the three-quarters and cruised home under wraps in 1:52.3. Manholmes and Louie completed the ticket. Ron Burke trains the Sweet Lou - Crescent City gelding for Burk Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, Knox Services and J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby. LUNAR REPLAY   Dave Palone piloted four winners, including a pair for trainer Mike Palone, on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday when the program features a $4,668.15 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM. For full race results, click here. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

Freehold, NJ --- The 11-race card at Freehold Raceway on Friday (April 23) features both the harness racing stars of yesterday and of today. The program includes a prep for next week's Lady Suffolk trot, as well as a stacked renewal of the Preferred Handicap trot.   The Lady Suffolk Prep drew a field of six 3-year-old trotting fillies, and is scheduled as the third race on the card, with a post time of about 1:10 PM. Ron Burke sends out a pair in here, including Hot as Hill, the winner of two legs of the Kindergarten series last fall at the Meadowlands. She qualified at Freehold last week, trotting the mile in 1:59.1. Her uncoupled stablemate, The Queen B, finished third last week in a conditioned trot at Freehold, and was sixth in the Kindergarten final last year.   The race also includes Just Joshing, the winner of the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior A final at Tioga Downs last summer for trainer Julie Miller, along with the runner-up in that race and a three-time winner in the series, Marcus Melander trainee Izzy Demsky. Spruce Creek, who won the New Jersey Futurity at Freehold last fall, will make her 3-year-old debut in this race, for trainer Ron Coyne Jr.   Victoriana, a winner at Freehold last fall for trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer, rounds out the field.   Later on the card, the Preferred Handicap features a very select field of six. The field features two of the classiest trotters on the east coast: Paul Kelly trainee Obrigado, a winner of 55 races lifetime and more than $1.9 million, and Melady's Monet, a 73-time winner trained by Hermann Heitmann who has earned more than $1.7 million.   They've won the Preferred Handicap three times each this season, with Melady's Monet getting the better of their lone head-to-head matchup to date on January 29. Obrigado will seek revenge from post position five, with driver Dan Dube, while Melady's Monet will look for victory from post position six, with driver Eric Abbatiello. He's also seeking his fourth win in a row, and a win in the Preferred for the second straight week.   The duo will face an interesting challenge, in the form of Warrawee Roo. On Friday, he'll make his first start since November 24, 2018, when he was ninth in the TVG Final at the Meadowlands. Earlier that year, he won the Harry Harvey Invitational Trot at Yonkers Raceway, and was third in the Breeders' Crown Open Trot final at Pocono Downs. He's qualified several times at Woodbine Mohawk Park in preparation for his return. Bob McClure has the drive from post position four, for trainer Luc Blais.   Armagedon Seelster, for trainer Ron Coyne Jr, Casino Cutie It, trained by Tom Fanning, and Winneress, trained by Symon Spicer, complete the ensemble. It's scheduled as the sixth race, with a listed post time of 2:10 PM.   In addition, the Friday card features a carryover in the $1 early pick 4, worth $3,017.73. The bet begins in race 2, starting at 12:50 PM.   Post time for the first of eleven races at Freehold on Friday is scheduled for 12:30 PM.   From Freehold Raceway  

This Is The Plan was able to overcome starting from the outside post eight with a blitz off the harness racing starting gate and then never let anybody get close to him after that in winning Monday night's (April 19) $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final at Yonkers Raceway in 1:50.4. This Is The Plan, driven by Yannick Gingras and one of three in the final sent out by trainer Ron Burke, was dispatched at odds of 11-1. Rockapelo (George Brennan), Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.), Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno), Western Joe (Dexter Dunn), Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick), and This Is The Plan all showed speed at the start of the race, but it was This Is The Plan who was able to go from six-wide early on the bend to leading over stablemate Rockapelo by the time they entered the backstretch for the first time. Everybody else then got down to the cones except for Backstreet Shadow, who was left on the outside as the first quarter rang up in 26.4. On the second turn, 6-5 favorite Western Joe, who had landed in fourth, flushed Hesa Kingslayer N out of third, and they made some progress towards This Is The Plan at the 55.1 half, but then the pace dramatically quickened past that marker as Gingras stepped on the accelerator and This Is The Plan responded by opening up a gap on the rest of the field in a third quarter that went on the board in 27 seconds flat. After building up that advantage on his pursuers, This Is The Plan was not about to relinquish it, as he paced home in 28.3 to seal the deal by a length and a half over Rockapelo, who went off at 13-1. Mach N Cheese saved ground on the inside and finished third at 32-1, and 26-1 offering Lyons Steel (Corey Callahan) also stayed on the pylons and wound up fourth. Leonidas A, the 5-2 second choice, got away last from post seven, could never get involved, and had to settle for fifth. THIS IS THE PLAN REPLAY   "That was the plan for sure, at least plan A. I wasn't going to sit eighth. Maybe I was going to be parked the whole mile, but I was going to leave as hard as I could. The horse has great gate speed, and I thought I had the best horse, so I had to get him into the race somehow," said Gingras. "I was four-wide for a ways there, and I was just telling Ronnie (Burke), 'the plan became catch me if you can at the half.' I knew the backfield would be coming, but I figured I'd just take off and make them try to catch me." A 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, This Is The Plan is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 16-time winner in his career, and the winner's share of the purse made him harness racing's newest double millionaire, as his lifetime earnings now stand at $2,073,700. This Is The Plan paid $24.40 to win and was atop a $240.50 exacta and a $2,020 trifecta. This Is The Plan's victory also triggered a $3,493 and change carryover in the Tuesday night's (April 20) Pick 6 sequence. "When they came out with the nominations for the series, I thought 'this is the best horse.' He's got $2 million made. He's a true free-for-aller," said Burke. "Even before the race, I was like, 'I think he can make the top from the eight-hole,' and [co-owner] Mark (Weaver) was like, 'Do you think he can clear from there?' and I was like, 'I think he can clear from there.' The only thing that almost stopped him was Backstreet (Shadow) having a leg underneath him when he hit the turn. When you come away with first and second out of that, it's a lot of money." Western Fame (Dan Dube), who won the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final the last time it was held in 2019, was victorious in tonight's $100,000 consolation event. He pulled out of the pocket going to the 1:22.4 three-quarters, wore down leader San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) and prevailed by two lengths in 1:51.2. Mac's Jackpot (Tim Tetrick) was the runner-up from second-over, and Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton) got up for third. WESTERN FAME REPLAY   Purchased in an online auction earlier this month, Western Fame, an 8-year-old Western Ideal stallion, scored in his second start for trainer Daniel Renaud and owner Dune Road Stables LLC. Western Fame is now a 30-time winner in his career, and he has banked $1,882,775. Western Fame returned $4.80 to win as the favorite and keyed a $33.60 exacta and a $260.00 trifecta. Monday night's card at Yonkers Raceway drew plenty of attention on the wagering front from start to finish, as the handle on the 10-race program went into seven-figure territory, ending at $1,121,424. Stakes action resumes at Yonkers Raceway on Wednesday night (April 21) with the $69,000 John Brennan Trotting Series final and $30,000 consolation. Get Legs is the favorite on the morning line in the final, as he looks to add to his two victories in the preliminary rounds. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

LEBANON, OH - It was another Burke Brigade Day at Miami Valley on Friday (April 16) as stable mates Free Thinker and Drama Act were victorious in the two harness racing feature races on the card. Free Thinker (Chris Page) was a relatively easy winner in the $40,000 James K. Hackett Memorial for Ohio-sired pacing fillies, establishing a new personal best with a 1:53.3 triumph over Rockin N Kissin (Tyler Smith) and Pal O Mine Hanover (Kayne Kauffman) With a fourth place finish, Pinknperfect (Dan Noble) also received an automatic invitation to next Friday's $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational. Page allowed Rockin N Kissin to lead through the :28.2 initial quarter mile, but assumed command with the favorite another eighth of a mile later. From there it was clear sailing for the daughter of Western Vintage, who tacked on subsequent clockings of :56.4 and 1:25.2 before cruising home in :28.1 about four lengths to the good. FREE THINKER REPLAY   It was just the third win in nine career starts for the , but raised her bankroll to $84,025 for owners Burke Racing, Jason Melillo, J&T silva-Purnell & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi. A little over an hour later, Drama Act (Page) beat Big Bad Jane (Noble) and American Cheer (Kauffman) in the $25,000 Mares Open Pace. It was the third straight seasonal score for the four-year-old daughter of Well Said, but her first in Open company. Drama Act, who raced in the $500,000 Breeders Crown at three, now sports 11 career victories and her earnings grew to $263,082 for owners The OK Corral of Illinois. DRAMA ACT REPLAY   Trainers Ron Burke and Tyler George each harnessed two winners on Friday, thus they remain in a tie for the Miami Valley trainer's title with 41 triumphs each. Racing resumes Saturday (April 17) when the final $40,000 Hackett Memorial championship of the season, for the three-year-old pacing colts, will be decided. Post time is 4:05 p.m. For full race results, click here. From Miami Valley Raceway        

On Tuesday afternoon (April 13), the harness racing draws were held for the $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final and $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, both of which will take place on Monday, April 19 at Yonkers Raceway. In addition to the finals, there will also be consolation races in both events. Leonidas A finished with the most points in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, but the draw for the final was not kind to him, as he will start from post seven in the eight-horse field. Austin Siegelman will be in the bike behind the Sheena Mcelhiney-trained and Jesmeral Stable-owned 6-year-old Mach Three gelding. Trainer Ron Burke has a powerful trio in the MGM Borgata final, as he will send out Rockapelo, Backstreet Shadow, and This Is The Plan. Rockapelo drew the coveted pole position for driver George Brennan, while his stablemates Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) and This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) weren't as fortunate in the draw, as Backstreet Shadow has post six and This Is The Plan the eight. Western Joe, driven by Dexter Dunn for trainer Chris Choate, and Hesa Kingslayer N, piloted by Jim Marohn Jr. for trainer Mike Deters, both scored multiple victories in the prelims, and they will start from posts five and two, respectively. Rounding out the group are Mach N Cheese (post three, Joe Bongiorno/Edwin Quevedo) and Lyons Steel (post four, Corey Callahan/Dennis Watson). Mach N Cheese secured a spot in the final by winning in the final round of the event, while Lyons Steel picked up his lone victory back in the opening leg. In the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, Alexa Skye, who went four-for-four in the preliminary rounds she entered, got post six for driver Todd McCarthy, trainer/co-owner Jeff Cullipher, and co-owner Pollack Racing LLC. Her main rival, Blue Ivy, who raced in all five legs, scoring three victories and two second-place finishes, will leave from post three for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Todd Buter, and owner Renee Bercury. Trainer Nick Devita has a pair of finalists in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final in Siesta Beach (post two, Matt Kakaley) and Caviart Cherie (post seven, Austin Siegelman). Siesta Beach picked up one victory in the preliminaries, while Caviart Cherie checked in second three times. Ron Burke will also be represented in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final as he has Snobbytown in the race. Snobbytown, who had one win, one second, and one third-place result in four starts, will depart from post five with George Brennan at the lines. Machnhope, who will be driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Noel Daley, started the Blue Chip Matchmaker two-for-two before finishing second and third in her last two appearances. She had the best luck in the draw for the final, as she will start from post one. Completing the entrants in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final are Monica Gallagher (post four, Jason Bartlett/Chris Height) and My Ruebe Star N (post eight, Jordan Stratton/Shane Tritton). Neither mare was able to get a win during the preliminary rounds, but they did score points in each leg they entered. Monday's card gets underway at 7:15 p.m., with the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final going as race seven and the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final following it in race eight. The $60,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series consolation is the fifth dash on the ten-race card, and the $100,000 MGM Borgata Series consolation comes up after that in race six. From Yonkers Raceway

WASHINGTON, PA -  April 13, 2021 -- The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for its 2021-22 MSOA Collegiate Scholarships. Thanks to the help of many harness racing partners, this year will feature one of the most lucrative scholarship pools in the lengthy history of the program, with nearly $20,000 available to the winners. New contributors include Burke Racing, The Meadows and Diamond Creek Farm. "At a time when many families have been dealing with the loss of racing opportunities due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are very happy to be able to offer this type of financial assistance to our college students," said MSOA President Rich Gillock. This year's scholarships include: $5,000 MSOA Board of Directors Collegiate Scholarship; $5,000 Burke Racing Scholarship; $4,300 Andover Hall Scholarship (donated by Hanover Shoe Farms); $2,500 CSC Insurance Options Scholarship; $1,100 Bolt The Duer Scholarship (donated by Winbak Farms); $1,000 The Meadows Racetrack Scholarship; $1,000 Diamond Creek Farm Scholarship. Applicants must be a son or daughter of an owner, trainer, driver or groom who has participated in harness racing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on a regular basis over the two years preceding the application. Said parent must be a member of the MSOA, and the applicant must be at least a senior in high school. One application covers all available scholarships. Applications, which must be postmarked by May 14 and returned to the MSOA office, can be found at this link: MSOA Scholarship Application 2021. An independent committee at the Harness Horse Youth Foundation will review the applications and determine the winners of each individual award. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

HARNESS RACING PACER OF THE WEEK: BABES DIG ME This six-year-old gelding was coming off a win in a lower claiming handicap group in his last start at Pocono when he moved up on Saturday into the $30,000 to $40,000 group. He also switched barns, with Darren Taneyhill taking over as trainer. Leaving from a #2 post in a field of eight as the 4-1 second choice, Babes Dig Me sat third early in the mile. On the back stretch, driver Jim Pantaleano got him going with a first-over move. Babes Dig M easily sped by pacesetting Sunset Braydon and kept extending the lead from there. The end result was a romping win, his second straight, in 1:49:4, a new career-best for him and the fastest pacing time of the 2021 meet so far at Pocono. HONORABLE MENTION PACERS Aflame Hanover (Marcus Miller, Linda Schadel), who moved up in class for his second straight condition win on Saturday at Pocono in 1:50. So Irresistible (Scott Zeron, Bruce Saunders), whose victory in the Bobby Weiss series for three-year-old pacing fillies in Monday in 1:53 was her second straight win in the series and third straight overall. Straight Talk (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who picked up his second straight win in the Weiss series for male pacers on Saturday and did so in a career-best 1:51:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TOP ME OFF This three-year-old ridgling trained and driven by Todd Schadel has been one of the stars of the Bobby Weiss series through the first two legs. After tuning up with an impressive maiden win on March 22 in a sharp 1:54:2, Top Me Off conquered the first leg of the Weiss for male trotters on April 3 at Pocono in 1:54:4. He was back at it on Sunday night, leaving from post position #5 in a field of six as a 1-2 favorite. Killer Instinct, who had taken Top Me Off right to the finish in their last matchup before losing by a neck, set the pace. Schadel sat confidently behind in the pocket with the favorite and then cut him loose in the stretch. Top Me Off blew past Killer Instinct and won going away, trotting the mile in 1:57:1 on a good track for his third straight victory. HONORABLE MENTION TROTTERS Try Try Again (George Napolitano Jr., Tee Wine), who won his second consecutive claiming handicap trot on Tuesday at Pocono, getting it done in 1:56:1. Hoolie N Hector (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Adamczyk), who won his second straight in the Weiss series for male trotters on Sunday night at Pocono, delivering in 1:57. Ching Ching Lucky (George Napolitano Jr., Norman Morford), a mare who followed up her maiden victory with another condition win at Pocono on Tuesday, trotting the mile in 1:57:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROCKIN IN THE HILLS Driven by Anthony Napolitano, this pacer, who won at 86-1 earlier in the meet, delivered a rallying win in a claiming handicap on Saturday at 24-1, paying $51.60 on a $2 win wager. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The meet's leading driver had a typically massive week at Pocono, as George Nap was particularly effective during the weekend cards, winning a combined nine times on Saturday and Sunday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE All there of Burke's wins at Pocono this week came in the Bobby Weiss series, including a pair of victories in the three-year-old colts and geldings pacing group on Saturday. 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                    

WASHINGTON, PA - April 9, 2021 -- Harness racing driver Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. had to use him twice, but Lunar was up to the challenge as he stretched his career unbeaten streak to four in Friday's Tom Kirwan Memorial Pace at The Meadows. Manholmes took the other $12,500 second-leg division in the event for 3-year-old colts and geldings. The series championship is set for Friday, April 23. Lunar got away fourth from post seven but didn't sit there long, moving first over after the leader, Louie. The Sweet Lou-Crescent City gelding wore down the well-meant Louie and defeated him by 1-1/2 lengths in a career-fastest 1:52.1. Twin B Edge finished third. Ron Burke trains Lunar for Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, Knox Services and J&TSilva-Purnel&Libby. LUNAR REPLAY   Manholmes powered up from third past the three-quarters and drew off late to triumph for Dan Rawlings, trainer Dane Snyder and owners Linwood Higgins, Ultimate Racing Group and Jim Winske. Aime Hanover was second, 3-3/4 lengths back, while Phoenix of Fluzzy completed the ticket. The Betting Line- JK Isn'tshelovely gelding scored in 1:53.1, a lifetime mark. MANHOLMES REPLAY   The Meadows will be dark the week of April 12 to maintain the track and prepare the facility for the Saturday, May 1 kickoff of the 2021 stakes season. That day's festivities include the Kentucky Derby simulcast and the first Pennsylvania Sires Stake action of the year. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday, April 21. For full race results, click here.  by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

With two horses already guaranteed spots in the harness racing final of the MGM Borgata Series for older male pacers, trainer Ron Burke will look to add a third on Monday (April 12) when Yonkers Raceway hosts the last preliminary round of the six-week event. Based on points accumulated in the series, the Burke Brigade's Rockapelo and This Is The Plan are among five horses to have already secured places in the eight-horse final on April 19. The others are Western Joe, Hesa Kingslayer N, and Leonidas A. Burke's Backstreet Shadow is in the best position to join that group, pending the outcomes in Monday's last preliminary divisions of the series. Backstreet Shadow, sixth in points, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the first of the last three Borgata splits, starting from post one. The six-horse field also includes four of the five horses directly behind Backstreet Shadow in the standings: San Domino A and Lyons Steel, who are tied for seventh, ninth-place Raukapuka Ruler N and 11th-place Tyga Hanover. The remaining horse in the field is series leader Western Joe. Other horses that could bolster their chances of making the final with wins on Monday are Mach N Cheese and Mac's Jackpot, who are both in the second division, and Ostro Hanover, who is in the third. None are morning-line favorites. Backstreet Shadow has a win and two seconds in the Borgata. A trainer can start only one horse in a division, and Burke has four horses in the series, so Backstreet Shadow sat out last week's leg after coming up sick in his second-place finish on March 29. "He had a legitimate excuse his last start," said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Backstreet Shadow, as well as Rockapelo and This Is The Plan. "We had to give someone the week off, so it just made sense for it to be him. We expect him to be pretty good this start and then hopefully even better in the final." Backstreet Shadow, a 6-year-old gelding, has won 25 of 63 career races and $890,162. Last year, he won the Roll With Joe Stakes and hit the board in the Breeders Crown, TVG Open Pace Series championship, Sam McKee Memorial, and Allerage Farms Open Pace. "I think Backstreet Shadow and This Is The Plan are two of the top five or six aged pacers," Weaver said. "They've been factors the last several years. Hopefully, they are again, all season long. This is just the start of a long year, hopefully, for them." This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding with $1.8 million in career purses, has a win and three seconds in the Borgata. He is the 2-1 second choice in Monday's third division. Rockapelo, a 2018 New York Sire Stakes champion who has been lightly tested on the Grand Circuit, is sitting out Monday's action. The 6-year-old gelding has two wins, a second, and a fifth in the series. Nine of his most recent 12 victories have come at Yonkers. "He's kind of a Yonkers specialist, a grinder," Weaver said. "He's surprised us. This will be his Super Bowl, so to speak, for the year. After this, it will be back to overnights." The Burke Stable has traditionally been deep with talented older male pacers. The returning group this season also includes a past Dan Patch Award winner, Dorsoduro Hanover, as well as millionaire Filibuster Hanover, Elver Hanover, The Greek Freak, and Covered Bridge. "The aged division is kind of our bread and butter," Weaver said. "If you get a couple good ones, you can really do some damage. "We try to treat them like a baseball team where you've got some major leaguers, but you're always looking to develop your minor league system. At some point, they're going to get called up to the big leagues. We're constantly trying to keep the pipeline going. Hopefully, we have some that can fill the void when the time comes." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. For complete entries, click here. For the Borgata standings, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

WASHINGTON, PA -  April 7, 2021 -- Filly Speaks was all out to do it, but she captured her second consecutive series win -- and fourth overall -- in Wednesday's Ruby Cook Memorial Pace at The Meadows. Peep N Weep took a similar narrow victory in the other $12,500 second-leg division of the event for 3-year-old filly pacers. Filly Speaks quarter-poled to the front for Tony Hall and opened a two-length lead past the three-quarters before Ocean's Apart began to gain ground. Filly Speaks held off that rival by a nose to score in 1:53.3, matching her career best. Defy The Odds finished third. Scott Betts trains the daughter of Artspeak-Filly's Victory for Tim Betts, Nick Catalano and Keith Pippi. FILLY SPEAKS REPLAY   Peep N Weep hadn't raced since Oct. 28, but the daughter of Captaintreacherous - Number Please came back plenty sharp, repelling the Lightning Lane charge of Captains Maid by a head in a career-best 1:54.3, with Realization third. Dave Palone drove for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Joseph Critelli, William Switala and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. PEEP N WEEP REPLAY   Wednesday's card also featured the $12,500 second leg of the Terry Altmeyer Memorial Trot for 3-year-old colts and geldings. There, Whiskey Blu, who saw his career unbeaten streak snapped at seven last week, rebounded with a facile front-end triumph in 1:54.1, knocking two seconds from his lifetime mark. Donato Patriot K and Stewart completed the ticket. Dan Charlino piloted the Southwind Frank-Kendall Blue gelding for trainer Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Kitefield Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. The championship legs of the Ruby Cook and the Terry Altmeyer are set for Wednesday, April 21. Burke collected five wins and Palone four on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Thursday when the 14-race program features a $6,490.50 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM. For full race results, click here. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

LEBANON, OH - Pace Baby Pace (Chris Page) won Miami Valley's Mares Open Pace for the fifth time in ten 2021 tries on Friday (April 2). In doing so, the Sweet Lou lass snapped the three race win streak of Big Bad Jane (Dan Noble), who won last week's Friday feature race. Although she has been favored on most recent occasions, Pace Baby Pace has not spent any time on the front end during the first three quarters of any mile. The notorious closer used the same strategy for this win. She settled in fourth until nearing the half when Page steered her to the outside and moved up to second. Still second by less than a length as the field reached the head of the stretch, Pace Baby Pace finally assumed command mid-way down the lane and cruised to a victory by just over a length in 1:52. Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC own the winner, who also won ten of her 21 starts last season. Her bankroll has swelled to $257,250 with $61,025 earned already this year. PACE BABY PACE REPLAY   For Page, the win was one of four during the first eight races on the card. His other triumphs came with Drama Act (1:51.4, $2.40), who won for the tenth time and will now need to test the waters in the Open, as well as Danikova (1:52.4, $17.20) and Baba O'Riley (1:54.4, $6). The Saturday (April 5) card at Miami Valley will begin at 4:05 p.m. and feature two Open Paces and the $30,000 championship final of the Tom Tharps Memorial Series. For full race results, click here. From Miami Valley Raceway  

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