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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mark MacDonald nabs 6000th win during NYSS at Vernon.

Mark MacDonald would pilot Atlanta to a  track record for freshman trotting fillies by capturing the first division of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) and getting his 6,000th career driving victory at Vernon Downs on Friday night (September 22).  Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) remained undefeated winning the second division.

Fury Road (Chris Lems) would lead the first division ($55,500) trotters into the first quarter in 28.3.  It was short-lived when Atlanta (Chapter Seven - Hemi Blue Chip) claimed the top spot just before the top of the back stretch.  Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, and Brad Grant while trained by Zeron, she would be joined by the first-over by Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller) just before the three-quarter marker.  The two fillies would then have an epic battle all the way down the stretch.

Atlanta ($7.50) would dig down deep to hold off the heavy pressure from Supergirl Riley (Muscle Mass - Crown Royal), to set the track record in 1:54.0, while getting her fifth career win.  All this making win number 6000 even sweeter for MacDonald.  MacDonald would later on add win 6001 with Padua Hanover ($3.60).

Supergirl Riley had to settle for second with Perfect Summer K (jimmy Whittemore) getting third.

Plunge Blue Chip (Muscle Mass - Dunk The Donato) would get her sixth win in six starts taking the second division ($56,500).

Big Checkmate (Donald Dupont) would grab the early lead but Plunge Blue Chip ($2.10), who is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and trainer, driver Svanstedt, would take over before the first quarter and put up all the fractions :28.3, :58.0, 1:27.2, 1:55.0.  The 2 year-old filly was in complete control and would get a career best time beating her top rival Lima Novelty (Jason Bartlett), who came on late to finish second three lengths back.  Big Checkmate hung on for third.

Chris Lems would win four on the night.  He got victories with Give Angel Credit ($7.50), Sweet Thing ($2.10), Dreams Beach Boy ($3.30), and In The Clear ($5.10).

Vernon Downs returns to live action on Saturday (September 23) with a 13 race card starting at 6:45 p.m.

For more information go to


BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 22, 2017—All About Madi (Brian Sears, $11) made the lead and that was that Friday night (Sept. 22nd), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $50,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace.

In a race with not much speed, it was a two-speed number. ‘Madi,’ from post position No. 5, worked around pole-sitting Jag Out (George Brennan), grabbing the baton before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile. She then rated a :30.1 next substation (:57.4 half).  

Call Me Queen Be (Jim Marohn Jr.) was away third at the 11-10 choice, but didn’t get off the cones as Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton) made her second move. That one towed HP Sissy (Dan Dube) into it going toward the 1:25.2 three-quarters.

Off those intervals, All About Madi should have had something in reserve, and she did. Taking a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane, ‘Madi’ held off  Jag Out by a three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3. ‘Sissy’ was third, with a from-last 47-1 outsider Newborn Sassy (Tyler Buter) and ‘Queen Be’ settling for the remainder.  

For third choice All About Madi, a 4-year-old daughter of Brandon’s Cowboy owned and trained by Brittany Robertson, it was her eighth win (third consecutive) in 25 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $44.80, with the triple returning $230.50.


                        By john manzi

Batavia, NY--Harness racing’s greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to Batavia Downs on Friday, September 22 for a pair of races--one on the trot, the other on the pace-- both for members in the series eastern region.

These events come on the heels of a Billings trot at Delaware Ohio on September 17 which was won by two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, “Hurricane Hannah” Miller. But tonight Ms. Miller wasn’t among the drivers participating.

However, talent flourished just the same when “Yankee Joe” Lee won the trot in 2:00.2 with Signal Hill OK while in the pacing split “Buffalo Bob” Davis hustled Donegal Jim to splendid 1:56.3 victory. Not surprising, both victories resulted from gate to wire performances.

In his split “Yankee Joe” gunned Signal Hill OK to the lead from the four-hole and led the competition by the first stanza in :29.2. Then keeping the  pedal to the metal Lee, the New York Yankee assistant locker room manager, kept the trailers in line as he urged his trotter through fractions of :31 and .30.4 which deterred any early challenges.

“Buffalo Bob” was the first to move but that encounter didn’t come until  the field headed for the three quarters where Davis’ Christina Victory rallied alongside Signal Hill OK as the timer flashed 1:30.4. Lee’s trotter pulled away  when they headed for paydirt but “Dandy Don” Hoover threatened with Grecale AS. However, some extra steps slowed Grecale AS’s challenge and Signal Hill OK opened a three length lead all the way to the wire.  Hoover’s trotter recovered and finished second with Davis’ charge garnering the show dough.

The winner, owned by Marissa Russo,notched his third consecutive victory and returned a $6.70 mutuel. Marissa’s hubby, Dave Russo, is the horse’s trainer.

Noticing that front end speed was holding up Bob Davis sent odds-on favorite Donegal Jim to the lead in the Billings pacing division and despite swift early fractions the front-end route proved advantageous.

After grabbing command early Davis had to rebuff a challenge by Ontheclock Hanover and driver  “Tough Tony” Ciuffetelli who tried a quarter pole move but Davis wouldn’t yield and the two led the field by the half in :57.2.

Up the backside as Ciuffettelli’s pacer was tiring and “Yankee Joe” Lee moved Canthelpbutwin three-deep around him but they were still two lengths off the lead. However, Donegal Jim was undeterred and opened up three lengths when he headed for home.

At the wire it was all Donegal Jim with Canthelpbutwin still three lengths behind in second place. Billings president Tony “the Capo” Verruso finished third with Ty’s A Big Star.
The winner, a 9-year-old Modern Art gelding is owned by Teresa Roland and trained by JD Perrin. He paid $3.30 for win.

Tomorrow (Saturday) the Billings Series moves on to Vernon Downs for a trotting contest

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Grand Circuit Rolls Into The Red Mile Next Week

Lexington, KY - With 2017 The Little Brown Jug now history, the focus of the Grand Circuit shifts to the Bluegrass for a fortnight of top quality harness racing at The Red Mile and the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.

Racing begins on Thursday, September 28 with a 7 p.m. post time which continues through Saturday, September 30. The 1:00 p.m.  matinee cards start on Sunday, October 1 and return for the Thursday - Sunday schedule October 5-8.

The first draw is on Monday, September 25 with the box closing at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time. The condition sheet is available on the web. Electronic entry is encouraged and the Race Office & Judges contact information is available on the condition sheet.

All information pertinent to bringing your stable to The Red Mile (including stall applications which must be filed) may be accessed from this page.

The Clubhouse dining room will be open on all race dates, make your reservations by calling (859) 255-0752.

The Lexington Yearling sale where champions are sold kicks off on the evening of Tuesday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m. and continues through Saturday.

The city of Lexington offers much in the way of entertainment available during your stay including fine dining and an active nighttime scene.

Come join the fun!


BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 22, 2017—It’s a Homecoming Weekend of sorts, with Yonkers Trot winner Top Flight Angel returning Saturday night (Sept. 23rd) as the conquering hero.

He does so in the first division of Yonkers Raceway’s $172,000 New York Sire Stakes Michael Sorentino Trot for 3-year-old colts and geldings.  

A pair of groupings, at $85,250 and $86,750, respectively, go as the fourth and fifth races in an event named for the one of the Raceway’s long-time popular horse owners.  

As if we needed the assistance, Top Flight Angel won the draw, with the Mr. (Andy Miller) driving for the Mrs. (Julie Miller). The son of 2012 Yonkers Trot winner Archangel grabbed the half-million-dollar Trot by a moist nose in 1:56.3.

He then shuffled off to Batavia, airing in a NYSS event (1:54.3). For the season, the Legacy Standardbred (Alan Hainsworth) homebred has won four of his 13 starts ($362,016).

Brian Sears, Top Flight Angel’s Trot date, tries to beat him this time around with Stick with Me Kid.

The Dewycheatumnhowe gelding, trained by George Ducharme, is also 4-for-13 this season. He starts at the opposite end of the seven-horse gate.

Seven and Seven (George Brennan, post 4) is Ontario-based trainer Tom Durand’s first local visit in since October of 2013. The homebred (Mrs. Durand) son of Chapter Seven has been trying open stakes company for much of the summer, though his lone win was a Tioga sire stakes event.   

Saturday’s second Sorentino division includes Guardian Angel AS (Jason Bartlett, post 3).

The Archangel colt has won half of his 14 ’17 tries ($153,143), though that may be overshadowed by breaks in the finals of both the Hambletonian and Yonkers Trot. Anette Lorenzton trains for co-owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson.

Swell Chap (Sears, post 4) has come to hand late in the summer, entering with consecutive NYSS wins (Saratoga and Batavia). The Son of Chapter Seven colt, trained by Todd Rooney, has hit the board in 11-of-13 starts this season ($157,451).

Saturday is the last of 16 sire stakes local legs, after which the judges tabulate the scores to see who’s good enough for the $1.8 million Oct. 14th New York ‘Day’ of Champions. The eight, $225,000 NYSS finals take place during Yonkers’ $3.3 million International Trot matinee program.



BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, September 21, 2017—Paprike Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr., $7) and Hitman Hill (catch-driver Eric Goodell, $2.20) were the Empire’s elite Thursday night (Sept. 21st), highlighting Yonkers Raceway’s $157,600 New York Sire Stakes Jim Crawford Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings.  

A pair of $78,800 divisions comprised the event.

The opening group saw Paprike Blue Chip put in play from post position No. 5 (in one notch after a scratch). Grabbing the first lead, he relented to 3-10 choice Casual Cool (Jason Bartlett). The odds-on number took over just after a :27.2 opening quarter-mile, then rated a 57-second intermission and 1:26 three-quarters.

Silver Arrow (Mark MacDonald) was loitering first-up while Casual Cool maintained a not-so-casually contested lead into the lane. The people’s choice took Paprike Blue Chip to the passing lane, and pass he did.

The second choice whipped the fave by a length-and-three-quarters in 1:55, with Silver Arrow photoing American Vision (Jordan Stratton) for third.

For ‘Paprike,’ a Roll with Joe gelding, trained by John Butenschoen for co-owners Harmony Oaks & Crawford Racing and VIP Internet Stable, it was his fifth  win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $9.80, with the triple returning $22.

“It’s not hard to get along with him,” Morrill Jr.—who has won three times with Paprike Blue Chip—said. “There’s some class there.”

Thursday’s second sire stakes event saw undefeated, pole-sitting Hitman Hill break in a new chauffeur after Brett Miller was unable to get here (from Delaware, OH) in time.

As for Goodell’s post-mortem, ”He was rank and wild leaving the gate. Very talented, but he needs to control it.”

There were few stop signs early as My Delight (Brent Holland) made the first lead passing the :26.3 first subsection. Hitman Hill wanted no place in the pocket, making the lead and throwing it down (:55.2, 1:23.4).

He owned a ‘iffy’ length-and-and-a-half lead into the lane, appearing there for the taking.

However, in a slow (:29:3) final quarter, no one took it. Hitman Hill held off Topville Olympian (Morrill Jr.) by a head in 1:53.2, with Keystone Tenacious (Jim Marohn Jr.) third.

For Hitman Hill, an American Ideal gelding co-owned by Tom Hill & North Fork Racing and trained by Chris Oakes, he’s won all six of his career tries. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $5.30, with the triple returning $26.40.

Special  Thursday props to Marohn Jr., whose four victories were a personal local best. No props, at least not this night, for MacDonald, who remains at 5,999 career wins after going 0-for-9. MacDonald ventures to Vernon Downs Friday night (Sept. 22nd) for statebred frosh trotting fillies.


Monica Banca doesn’t drive often but when she does she’s a force to be reckoned with. Today, (Thurs. Sept 21) in a division of the NAADA Trotting Series at Monticello Raceway Ms. Banca went to post for the 13th time this season and logged her seventh seasonal driving victory when she scored a 1:59.4 triumph with Brandos Muscle Man.

After settling in the three hole after the wings of the mobile gate folded Banca, was content to follow the leaders until Joe Lee, who was traveling along near the back of the pack  moved Tim Lizzi off the pylons as the field headed to the halfway point. That challenge precipitated a move from Banca who was moved her trotter out to challenge the pacesetter Ladys Big Stormont (Alan Schwartz).

When they rounded the clubhouse turn for the final time Brandos Muscle Man had command and braced for Wygant Prince and driver Paul Minore  who moved out from behind Schwartz’s trotter and ranged alongside Brandos Muscle Man. as they headed for the three quarters. They raced one-two around the final turn and in the lane it appeared Wygant Prince would trot by the leader but that was  not to happen as Brandos Muscle Man Dug in and rebuffed Wygant Prince to score a neck victory. Three lengths farther back was Tim Lizzie in third place.

“My horse raced real good last week when we finished second beaten by just a head,” Banca said after the race “Today I moved earlier than I wanted to so I wouldn’t get locked in, but Brandos was strong and trotted to the lead. When we headed for home Wygant Prince began  gaining ground but my horse dug in and wouldn’t let him pass.”

Banca co-owns the Muscles Yankee 9-year old gelding  with the Rock and Roll Stable. Trained by Rick Dane, Jr. Bandos Muscle Man paid $7.50.

In the other NAADA split Dave Yarock used the front-end route for a trip to the winners circle with Mr Ridgetaker.

After starting from the two-hole Yarock got away with a fairly soft :29.2 first quarter and had his sights set on racing on the front-end which could easily be determined when Alan Schwartz and Grand Vision).came alongside near the quarter pole and he kept them on the limb

They raced one-two to the halfway point with the order remaining the same as they trotted by the three quarters in 1:30.3. When the field came off the final turn Mr Ridgetaker had three lengths on field and cruised home an easy winner

“He raced good last week when we finished fourth (by length and a half) but today he was at the top of his game,”Yarock said referring to Mr Ridgetaker. “We had a better post this week and he was strong the whole mile.”

Sam’s Honeybee with Tony Verruso aboard, snuck up the passing lane late to garner second money while Jennifer Lappe finished third with Fox Valley Steffen.
Mr Ridgetaker, also owned by Yarock, is trained by Dawn Devaux. He returned a $10.20 mutuel.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bruce Aldrich wins 7000th race

By Shawn Wiles

Often when drivers are on the brink of a dash milestone, they experience a drought.  This was the case with Bruce Aldrich Jr, after going nearly a week without a win at Monticello Raceway.  The drought was extinguished on Tuesday as Bruce caught fire early on the card and won 2 New York Sire Stake Excelsior B events at Monticello.  The wildfire continued Wednesday September 20 at Monticello as he won 5 races on the card with Hay There Harrison $2.60, Song of The Valley $3.90, Heza Swan $18.60 and Roundtown Rocker 1:57.4 $7.70.  The best win of the day came with ULSHOOTUREYEOUTKID, the win elevated Bruce Aldrich Jr. as the newest member of the elite 7,000-win club. Bruce wasted no time in notching his next milestone and came right back to win the following race with Roundtown Rocker for his 5th win of the day.

After dismounting the bike and was approaching the winners circle, a moved Aldrich said “I’m so happy, I’m so happy” Aldrich was greeted in the winner’s circle by a large crowd of fellow drivers, trainers and well-wishers.  Aldrich, a long time main stay at Monticello Raceway where has enjoyed much success over the years as he cut his teeth and honed his skills, he is a former multiple leading dash winner. Ulshootureyeoutkid is trained by Anthony Regina and is owned by James Cosenza.  The bay gelding by Allamerican Native toured the mile in 1:56.4 and paid $14.00 for win for his 2nd win of the year.

Aldrich is having a career best year, he is ranked 8th nationally for leading dash wins with 376 and career earnings of $26,565,279, Bruce is the 3rd leading driver at Monticello Raceway with 178 wins.