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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

M1 - Meadowlands Barn Notes: Put On A Show Makes Return in Overbid & More

Video Feature: Put On A Show Makes Return in Overbid At Meadowlands

After a year layoff, Put On A Show returns to action in the $40,000 opening leg of the Overbid Series on Friday, March 2, 2012 at the Meadowlands.  The Chris Ryder trainee was one of the top pacing fillies in the country before knee trouble placed her on the sidelines.

Watch what Chris Ryder has to say about her recovery and progress:

In The Sulky: Tony Alagna

Trainer Tony Alagna will be the featured guest on Meadowlands Racetrack’s Friday night pre-card show.  Watch the broadcast live at the Paddock Level television set or online at beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Rip Does It Again

Michael Rip, the 2009 National Harness Handicapping Champion, captured the $3,060 top prize in Meadowlands Racetrack’s recent tournament held Saturday, February 25. 

The Nutley, NJ resident topped the field of 173 entries with a $746 bankroll, earning him a spot in the inaugural World Harness Handicapping Championship to be held in 2013 at Woodbine.  (The tournament will return to the new Meadowlands facility in 2014). James Valenza of New City, NY finished second in the standings with a $680 bankroll.  Patrick Welsh, the youngest person to ever capture a tournament at the Meadowlands last year at age 20, was third with $460.

The buy-in for the February 25 was $100, with $50 going into the prize pool.  Players were required to bet their $50 on a minimum of 10 Meadowlands races, with a $5 minimum wager per race.  Rip connected with five winners on the card, including a $70 win bet on Freddy Day Hanover ($11) in the seventh race, which helped propel him to the top of the tournament standings.

February 25 Tournament Standings

First             Last                   City                          State        Bankroll       Prize

Mike            Rip                    Nutley                     NJ           $746.00        $3,060
James          Valenza             New City                  NY          $680.00        $1,530
Patrick         Welsh                Doylestown              PA          $460.80        $1,147
Daniel          Cardella             Bayonne                  NJ           $322.45        $765
Tiffany          Bush                 Washington              NJ           $315.25        $382
John            Damico              Jersey City               NJ           $237.60        $153
Dustin          Carlson              Jamestown              NY           $166.50        $153
Frank           D'Ambrosio        Wallington                NJ            $158.70        $153
Joseph         Niedzwiecki       Staten Island            NY           $147.00        $153
Nicholas       Tummillo           Robbinsville              NJ            $130.20        $153


There’s just something about a white horse that draws attention even if  it is not the best race horse on the track that day. It’s really  hard to resist staring at one when  it’s a white tail and white mane are flowing in the wind. 

At Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon, February 28 an almost pure white pacer by the name of Four Star Tommy had the racing fans eyes focused plainly on him and he didn’t let them down. In the deep stretch he sauntered by the pace-setter and reached the finish line first.

Besides being pretty, the nearly white pacer, Four Star Tommy(#1)  and driver Jimmy Taggart Jr., score their fourth seasonal victory (Geri Schwarz Photo)
True, Four Star Tommy is no longer the high caliber pacer he was but still he knows how to ‘pick’em up a put’em down’.  A lifetime winner of nearly $300,000 with a career mark of 1:52.3,  his victory on Tuesday was the pacer’s fourth  in six seasonal starts.

Trained by Vernon James and driven to success by Jimmy Taggart, Jr., Four Star Tommy shadowed the pace-setter DM Sundance (Kevin Switzer, Jr.) until the top of the stretch and then when Taggart moved him to the outside to challenge he wore down the leader and scored a one-length triumph in a very credible  time of 1:57.2.

“He (Four Star Tommy) is really a very pretty horse and when I’m driving him I feel that all eyes are on us,” Taggart said after the race. “He still has a big motor but of course he’s not the same as he was  when he was younger. Still he’s a pleasure to drive and the old guy gives his best every time. “   

The  9 year old Jate Lobell gelding is owned by  Ruth Ingram of Bloomsburg, Pa.  and Clint Crellin, from nearby Port Jervis, NY. Sent off as second choice in the race Four Star Tommy paid  $6.00 for win.

Lon - Awards Night Success

The 34th Annual Awards Banquet at the Raceway in the Western Fair District was a huge success this past Saturday night.  The large crowd in attendance enjoyed a fabulous buffet dinner, the awards presentation and then dancing till the wee hours of the morning.  Most participants showed their skill was not limited to the training or driving side of things, as the dance floor was certainly hopping. 

The 2011 Outsanding Service Award was selected by Dave Wall and presented to Jack Parsons to end the nights awards on a high note. Among the awards handed out that had not previously been released included the award for Owner of the Year, presented to Danterra Racing Stable.

A special thanks goes out to all the sponsors. Iron Horse Photo was on hand to capture the evenings presentations for your viewing.


When Monticello Raceway presents its 11th annual St. Paddy Pace on Thursday, March 15, the Mighty M’s current  leading drivers, Jimmy Marohn, Jr. and Jimmy Taggart, Jr., will be among those vying for the trophy and the bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Currently Marohn and Taggart are tied for the lead each with 49 winners .

The meets current driving leaders, Jimmy Taggart, Jr (r). and Jimmy Marohn, Jr. (l), both set for the St. Paddy Pace (Geri Schwarz Photo)
For Marohn he’ll be seeking his second St Paddy Pace victory while Taggart will be looking for his first.

Also slated to have a mount in the event is John McDermott. McDermott, who campaigns a hard-hitting stable at the Meadowlands and Yonkers Raceway, is known mainly for his training prowess. However, McDermott is also a St. Paddy Pace winner having driven Trotting Rabbit to  victory in 2005.

And both Sean MacAleese and Cory Stratton have notified Director of Racing, Eric Warner and said that they would also like to participate.
The St Paddy Pace is the second leg of Monticello Raceway’s Heritage Drivers Series-2012 and although Warner  has a good start  on filling this season’s  event   he will still need a few more drivers of Irish heritage to have a full field.

Any driver of Irish extraction with a full or provisional license who is interested in competing in the St. Paddy Pace is urged to contact Warner in the race office at Monticello Raceway by calling 845-794-4100 extension 557; or they can contact the track’s publicity office at ext. 455.

Ppk5/8 - Henry's Filly Wins Her Fifth of 2012

One of the hottest horses of 2012 in South Florida is three year old pacing filly To Tell The Truth, now a 5 time winner from 6 starts this year. Trainer and driver Wayne Henry gave the filly a textbook pocket trip behind a fast half in a $4,000 purse filly and mare conditioned test on the Tuesday, February 28 program and she stepped out in the stretch to earn a 1:54.3 life's record.

To Tell The Truth, by Tell All-Living With Art was a modest $3,000 yearling purchase as hip 676 at the 2010 Harrisburg Sale. Ownership is held by Shelley Henry of Arthur, ON.

Ppk5/8 - Florida Amateur Drivers Club Update

John Berry for the FADC

The Florida Amateur Drivers Club (FADC) participated in the FSBOA-Florida USHWA annual gala recently with awards to their fully licensed trainers and drivers who give up the customary 5% driving fees as part of the Club's membership charter. This has made it possible for the FADC to donate almost $125,000 to date to charitable equine causes in South Florida.

“It takes the cooperation of so many to make this all possible,” said Jamie Marra, FADC President, “and these well deserved awards are just a small token of our appreciation.”
The top trainers for the FADC—those who have entered horses in the FADC events—were Don Brainard, Jim Langley, Betty Jean Calice and Marc Majo. Major took down the top spot in the trainer standings with veteran performer Doc's All Class among the charges he has entered for weekly competition in FADC races.

The top trio of drivers were Dein Spriggs (3rd), Joe Pennacchio (2nd) and Jamie
Marra,who took the crown as FADC Driver of the Year on the strength of 10 wins in 28 trips to the gate.

Other highlights included special awards to Luanna Beeson, who recorded her first lifetime driving win at age 49 in the Valentine's program Sweetheart Trot, and to 30 year old Tom Santeramo who was recognized as the Club’s “Rising Star" on the strength of 5 wins in his first 8 lifetime drives.
Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing. Handicapping selections by Hall Of Famer John Berry along with the replays archive and much more is available for free in the 'racing' tab at

Ppk5/8 - Pavia Squares Away $42K Yearling; Nine Away From Milestone

Following a break in stride in his lifetime debut on February 7, Bet On The Law was back to redeem himself as the overwhelming 1-9 choice in the opening race of the Tuesday, February 28 program at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.

Bet On The Law, a $42,000 yearling purchase, picked up his first lifetime win in 1:55.1 on Tuesday evening, February 28, 2012 at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. Joe Pavia Jr. is now at 4,991 wins lifetime in the bike with this win. (Skip Smith Photo)

The 3 year old gelding by Bettor's Delight-Outlawed Beauty made every call a winning one with trainer Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike against maiden rivals. After dictating the pace to the half in 59.1, Bet On The Law accelerated away to the last turn in 1:27.3 and stopped the clock in 1:55.1. Espee Express driven by Robert Hoffman and Red Feather with Wally Hennessey in tow followed next under the wire.

Bet On The Law did not race as a 2 year old. He was sold as hip 82 for $42,000 at the 2010 Harrisburg Sale. Ownership is shared by Steven Held and Joseph Barbera of New York, along with the Dijo and AGC Stables of Florida. It was the only appearance on the Tuesday evening card for Joe Pavia Jr. and his lifetime win total now stands at 4,991 in the bike.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lon - The Raceway At The Western Fair District Closed For Training Wednesday

London, Ontario, February 28, 2012 -- Horse people are advised that The Raceway at The Western Fair District will be closed for training on Wednesday morning due to the forecast of inclement weather overnight and into the morning.

Live racing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with a first post of 4:05 p.m.

M1 - Harness Eye Editor Giwner To Call A Race Thursday At Meadowlands

A guest announcer will step into the booth in Thursday night’s fifth race at the Meadowlands. 

Derick Giwner, managing editor of harness content for the Harness Eye and Daily Racing Form, will dust off his binoculars to call the $18,000 division of the Horse & Groom Series for conditioned trotters.

Giwner has worked for Sports Eye/DRF since 1996, serving as managing editor of the Harness Eye for the last six years.  He started practicing race calling at Yonkers 14 years ago with help from Bob “Bullet” Meyer and John Hernan.  Giwner picked up his first announcing gig at Goshen and has also stepped behind the mics at Bangor and Monticello raceways.  He also has experience on the track as a licensed amateur driver.

“If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be calling a race at the Meadowlands, I would have thought you were insane,” Giwner said.  “This is a dream come true!  That said, I haven’t called a race since 2004, I think, and the butterflies are already swimming in my stomach.”
“Maybe if I do a good job they’ll invite me back to call the Hambletonian,” Giwner added with a chuckle.


An old Jerry Reed song proclaimed “when you’re hot….you’re hot” and that’s just what Sand E Fiftyfive is. The 6 year old I Am A Fool mare scored her tenth consecutive victory at Monticello Raceway on Monday afternoon, February 27.

Ears back, Sand E Fiftyfive is paying attention to her driver Billy Dobson as she scores her 10th consecutive victory (Geri Schwarz Photo)

For the second week in a row trainer Billy Kapinos handed the lines to Billy Dobson and once again the man in blue, gary and white colors got the job done when he guided Sand E Fiftyfive to a 1:58.4 triumph over Winsmith Jess, driven by Jimmy Taggart, Jr.

In her win yesterday Sand E Fiftyfive was parked by the quarter pole before she gained command and then  led the field by the halfway point in :59.2. From there it was Katie bar the door as Dobson  opened daylight on the field and then cruised home an easy winner .

It was the mare’s sixth seasonal  triumph which ties her with six others for the most wins in North America thus far this year. Of course, prior to the new year Sand E Fiftyfive had four wins in a row which were the lion’s share of the seven that the mare posted during the 2011 season. 

“ She (Sand E Fiftyfive) has been racing well by keeping her away from the racetrack. We stable her at Golden Show Farms (about 20 miles from the raceway) where she  can be turned out between races which helps her spirits and keeps her fresh,”, Kapinos noted.

But according to her trainer who is now tied for the lead here in training victories here, Sand E Fiftyfive’s  consecutive win streak at the Mighty M will be interrupted during the upcoming month.

“She’s in a claiming series at Batavia (Downs) in March so her next start will be there,” Kapinos  added.

Sand E Fiftyfive is owned  by Barry Charles of New Rochelle, NY . Understandably sent off as the prohibitive favorite she paid $2.30 for win.

Ppk5/8 - Best Around Prevails In Mares Open Pace

The Monday evening, February 27 feature was the $12,000 purse Mares Open Handicap Pace. After Special Sweetheart driven by Joe Pavia Jr. rocketed to the front in 26.1, Best Around in rein to George Napolitano Jr. looped around to the top in the second quarter and stepped home the rest of the way in 54.4, 1:22.3 and 1:51.1. Special Sweetheart and Bryan's Ideal partnered by Dan Clements followed next best under the wire.

It was the 22nd career win for Best Around, a 6 year old Cambest-Rondeau Hanover mare mare trained by Paul Holzman for Joel Benson Stables of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She earned her speed badge of 1:50.3 at Pompano last month and the career earnings for the former claimer now stand at $109,120.

Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing. Free race night live streaming, handicapping selections by Hall Of Famer John Berry, the replays archive and much more is found in the 'racing' tab at .

Ppk5/8 - Another Shrewd Purchase By Pompano's Wally Hennessey

Following closely after his milestone 8000th winning drive and his February private purchase of pacer Waterside Champ bringing him a pair of wins in his first three starts, Hall Of Fame driver Wally Hennessey has done it again with a private acquisition of pacing mare Eyewitness Account at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Parkv.

In spite of starting outside in a field of nine mares, Eyewitness Account romped home in 1:54.2 in her first start for new owner-driver Wally Hennessey on Monday, February 27, at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. In the first start from his care, trainer Dan Hennessey ordered blinkers on and the addition of lasix for Eyewitness Account. (Skip Smith Photo)

In the first start in the care of trainer Dan Hennessey, the 5 year old Camluck-Unchained Speed mare was sent straight to the front in a $4,000 purse conditioned test by her new owner and driver through fractions of 27, 55.3, and 1:24.4. Wally Hennessey had his new charge, previously owned by Shelley Henry of Arthur, ON through her February 13 start, unurged through the stretch to stop the clock in 1:54.2. Eyewitness Account, now a career winner of $51,402, was bred by Millar Farms of Newmarket, ON and her earlier trainers were Michel Ouellet and Eric Adams before racing in recent years at Pompano and in Ontario from the care of Wayne Henry. Eyewitness Account also had a 2011 stint at Batavia Downs from the barn of David McNeight III.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lon - London Horsepeople Shows Their Generosity

London, Monday, February 27, 2012 -- The racing community in London will be joining forces this Tuesday to help a young lady fighting the battle of her life.

Several drivers and trainers will be donating their five per cent fees from Tuesday’s program at The Raceway at The Western Fair District to 10-year-old Sheyanne Odonnell.

Sheyanne is the friend of  Tessa Henry, daughter of The Raceway’s leading driver, Trevor Henry, and his wife Shannon. She was recently diagnosed with bone cancer and is undergoing treatment at the McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton.

The money raised will help offset Sheyanne’s medical expenses.

Along with Trevor Henry, who is donating his driver fees that day, Rob Sparling Jr., Paul Taylor, Nick Steward, Alfie Carroll, Ryan Holliday, Scott Wray and Scott Young have all graciously offered to donate their five per cent commissions as well.

Several other local horse people have already made cash donations and if you would like to help out, you can do so by contacting the Henrys at 519-848-5715 or 519-831-6921. People who are racing can also contact Trevor in person in the race paddock on Monday or Tuesday.

Cheques may be made payable to Sheyanne’s mother Rebecca Odonnell.

Rebecca expressed her heartfelt thanks to all those who have stepped up to help her daughter, “With friends like all of you, they can only beat the odds.”

CalX1 - Late Pick-4 Guarantee Increases Again At Cal Expo

Monday, February 27, 2012 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity – Cal Expo

Effective Friday night, March 2, 2012, the Late Pick 4 Gross Pool Guarantees on Fridays and Saturdays at Cal Expo will be increased to $20,000.

These guaranteed pools have been increased yet again, for the second time in a week ($10,000 to $15,000), on the heels of the overwhelming success of the promotion this past Friday night (February 24), and the TVG coverage of Cal Expo races on Saturday night (February 25).

"Our players have spoken with their wagering dollars and we are answering by increasing the gross guarantees of these pools," said Director of Racing David Elliott.  "We will make every effort to provide value in these races by offering competitive and full fields, and will continue to offer a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s."

The USTA Strategic Wagering committee will partner up with Cal Expo and the horsemen to guarantee the Saturday night pools.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 2) & Saturday (March 3) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.  On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.  Also on Fridays, the Late Pick 4 now offers a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Heather Moffett is known for her compassion and raising money for charity, almost as much as she is known for her bubbly, energetic personality on the two harness racing television shows she hosts. Organizing fund raisers, getting people involved in community service and raising awareness for her favorite non-profit organizations are on-going efforts for the third-generation horsewoman. Now, Heather Moffett has a charity stunt planned for March that she describes as her “craziest yet.” She is calling it “The Polar Mare Plunge.”

Susan Ehlers (l) and Heather Moffett(r) will be taking the plunge on March 9 if sufficient pledges have been made for Wells For Ghana.

On March 9, Moffett will jump into a freezing horse pond on her family farm in Harrington, Del. However, she’s not doing it alone. Good friend and horse owner, Susan Ehlers, has promised to make the plunge with her. The goal is to raise $5,000 for Wells For Ghana, a group that builds fresh water wells in West Africa and is headed by harness horseman Kenny Wood.

“This definitely is not the sanest thing I’ve ever done,” laughed Moffett. “But, I am hoping it will get people's attention and get them to donate. Obviously, the concept is if you want to see me and Susan do something this idiotic, then you’ll make a pledge. Susan and I won’t go through with the plunge, unless a total of $5,000 is donated.”

Those who would like to make a pledge can visit Moffett’s website at Click on her ‘Charity’ page for more information. Moffett stresses that no donation is too small and every donation is appreciated. The “Polar Mare Plunge” will be videotaped and posted on Moffett’s website.

“I really hope people will take a few minutes to look at my web site,” added Moffett. “There’s a great video about Kenny Wood interviewed by Jane Pauley for The Today Show. His story is amazing and the video also shows how his racehorses are helping to fund his calling. Kenny is nothing short of a super hero, but even super heroes can use a little help.”

CalX1 - Haggin Oaks, Franks Best Take Features At Cal Expo

Sunday, February 26, 2012 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity – Cal Expo

A pair of Winners-Over events, on both gaits, each offering a purse of $4,500, were featured at Cal Expo on Saturday night (February 25).

In the pacing event, Haggin Oaks got back on the winning track with her 23rd career triumph.

Before starting from her assigned post-four in the field of a half-dozen, trainer James Kennedy knew one thing, but was unsure about another.

"As far as my strategy, I wanted to get to the front and control the pace," said Kennedy.  "As for my chances, I wasn't really sure because off of Albion's (Harry Landy) last mile (1:52.4).  If he raced back to it, then I thought I was second-best."

Leaving with two others and three-wide until entering the first-turn, the six year-old didn't clear to the front until the field had traveled 3-16ths of a mile into a hot :27.2 opening quarter.

"Mooney (Lemoyne Svendsen) pushed pretty hard with Ivegotwhatuneed and that caused me to push pretty hard to clear down to the inside.  In the back of my mind it concerned me, but I was hoping that it didn't."

Now pushing the pace until yielding at the 5-16ths mile marker, Kennedy could take credit for making Marlin Hanover (Luke Plano) work for the lead.  Was this helpful?

"I kind of pushed the pace on purpose to keep the pace at a good flow.  I think the tough lead for Marlin Hanover helped me a lot because I wanted to be able to control the pace and I knew if I came back (out) that Luke would let me go easy."

Right back out past the 5-16ths mile pole and obtaining a two-move lead to the 7-16ths mile station, Kennedy took a hold of leather and advantage of a good headwind while reaching the half-mile juncture, timed in :58.

"I had her pretty strong up on the bit and she felt pretty good and I was kind of feeling a little confident.  I, however, didn't know where Albion was, but I was happy I was on the lead."

Under a hold of his charge while resting his whip on her tail in a rated :29.4 third-quarter, Kennedy was pleased with the middle-half numbers.

"The 1:00.2 middle-half and the third-quarter were very helpful as I kind of got my own way.  I now thought my chances were pretty good."

Asked to go when Marlin Hanover was on the move at the head of the lane, the lone lady in the race drew clear by two-lengths, then was under a strong drive with an eighth of a mile to go as several of her all male opposition started getting dangerously close.

"I got after her when they started coming and was asking her for everything she had and she was giving it."

Now all-out with a sixteenth of a mile to go with Marlin Hanover, One And Only (Jim Lackey) and a flying Cycle Power (Steve Wiseman) closing in, Haggin Oaks refused to be passed.

"She just put them away and was frickin awesome!"

Owned by the birthday girl Shari Burns in partnership with Ferris Funk & Gerald Cimini, Haggin Oaks won ($7.80) by a long neck, in 1:55.3.  Marlin Hanover was a good second, and One And Only was just a half of one-length farther back, in third.

"It was a good birthday present for Shari and another good mile for my mare - - a mare that I love," finished a proud Kennedy, who had four driving wins on the program.

On the trotting side, Franks Best (Lemoyne Svendsen) won for 21st time in his career.

Leaving from post-position three in the field of five and getting the lead after a sixteenth of a mile, the five year-old pushed a bit before yielding after an eighth of a mile, then found himself third at the quarter (:29) with Putoneonnetformom (James Kennedy) moving up for the lead.

Remaining in third through a half-mile, timed in :58.4, Svendsen moved his gelding first-over to the midway point of the final-turn with three-lengths to Putoneonnetformom, but while quickly narrowing that margin at the three-quarter mile marker, timed in 1:29.

Nicely moving up and one-length back at the top of the stretch, the gelding quickly took over the lead with less than 3-16ths of a mile to, got a wheel-disc urge at the seven-eighths mile pole and went on, then eventually drew clear some to the wire in a nice effort.  Bred, owned & trained by Bob Johnson, Franks Best scored ($14.60) by 1-3/4 lengths, in 1:58.1, a seasonal best.  Putoneonnetformom finished in second ,and Shelby County (Rocky Stidham) finished a half of one-length farther back, in third.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 2) & Saturday (March 3) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.   On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee).  Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $15,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

M1 - Pierce Pilots Five Winners On Meadowlands Card

East Rutherford, NJ [February 25, 2012] -- Ron Pierce won the $30,000 invitational pace with Blatantly Good en route to a five-bagger on the Saturday night card at the Meadowlands.   

Pierce and Blatantly Good ($7) launched their attack before the half and battled Golden Receiver, winner of his last six outs, into the lane.  They cleared their rival in the final eighth and drew off to a two-length tally in 1:50.2.  Blatantly Good, trained by P.J. Fraley, posted his second win in six starts this season.    

Pierce swept the early double with Grams Legacy ($3.60) and Arts Ideal Hanover ($2.80) for the Jimmy Takter stable.  The Hall of Famer also picked up wins with Freddy Day Hanover ($11) in the seventh race and Abelard Hanover ($4.80) in the thirteenth. 


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 25, 2012 -- Code Word (Tyler Buter) used a second-over Saturday night trip to author an 11-1 upset, winning Yonkers Raceway's $33,000 Open Handicap Pace.

Code Word driven by Tyler Buter scores the 11-1 upset in the weekly feature Open Handicap (Mike Lizzi Photo)
Leaving from post position No. 6, Code Word watched early as Corky Baran (Pat Lachance) threw down windy gauntlet fractions of :27.2, :57.2 and 1:25.3. Real Nice (Jason Bartlett), the 2011 Levy Series champ, was pocketed in his 2012 seasonal debut.

Meanwhile, last week's winner, Summer Camp (Eric Goodell), was first-up as this week's 11-10 favorite. Summer Camp wore down "Corky" early stretch, buy could not stave off the rival on his rear. Code Word just did get there, prevailing  by a head in 1:54.4. A closing Tobago Cays (Jim Pantaleano), a shuffled Real Nice and Jerry's Brown Gold (George Brennan) came away with the remainder.

For Code Word, a 5-year-old son of Western Terror co-owner (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Frank Baldachino, Weaver Bruscemi and Lawrence Karr, he returned $24.20 (fifth choice) or his fourth win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $88.50, with the triple returning $699.

Later in the evening, driver Jordan Stratton won his second race on the card, which just happened to be the 2,000th of his career. Stratton, who reached 1,999 with Foreign Officer ($9.30) in the $27,000, eighth-race pace, hit the milestone when Lola's Cruiser ($13.60) was both good and lucky in the $20,000, 11th-race pace.

Jordan Stratton scores his 2,000th career win with Lola's Cruiser.  (Mike Lizzi Photo)
"Lola" prevailed (1:55) in a race where runner-up Report For Duty N (Brennan) was badly impeded by a first-turn breaker, then race leader Sam's Escape also jumped. Report For Duty N did recover to get second as the 4-5 choice.  

"I've always tried to take each race as it happens, but I knew I was this number was getting here," Stratton said. The 24-year-old Stratton--whose family was on hand to help him accept the congratulatory sign--has earned more than $22 million in purses in a career which began quite modestly in 2006.

Yonkers' five-night-per-week (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday) live schedule continues. First post for all programs remains at 7:10 PM. Evening simulating accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulating available around the NYRA schedule.

Ppk5/8 - Aracache Hanover Qualifies at Pompano

Millionaire pacer Aracache Hanover has resurfaced for 2012. After a winter holiday at the South Florida farm of Ontario based trainer Gregg McNair, the son of Dragon Again-Armbro Cachet turned in a comfortable 1:53.3 qualifying win at Pompano on Saturday morning, February 25 with Wally Hennessey in the bike. The 2010 winner of the Confederation Cup campaigned last year against the continent's top Free For All company, and counted wins in the Kane Invitational at Batavia, the Winbak Farms Free For All at Delaware, and his 1:49.1 life's mark in a Franklin elimination at Chester Downs among his 2011 conquests.

Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing. Free race night live streaming, handicapping selections by Hall Of Famer John Berry, the replays archive and much more is found in the 'racing' tab at .

Ppk5/8 - Unlikely Trip For Pompano Top Class Winner

It might have seemed to reinsman Anthony Napolitano that he had to drive all night before prevailing in an 8-1 upset photo finish decision in Pompano's $12,000 purse Open Handicap Pace. And that's exactly what he did. With an unlikely trip scenario, Napolitano teamed Drive All Night to a hard closing victory.

Drive All Night (5-Anthony Napolitano) came from 7th at the half to win the photo over Forty Carrots (4-Wally Hennessey) in 1:51.1 in the $12,000 purse Open Handicap Pace on Saturday evening, February 25 at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. (Skip Smith Photo)
The tempo was hot and heavy in the early going of the feature event in South Florida when a rare and rather stiff breeze was coming from the east off of the Atlantic Ocean. Deep Finesse, last week's feature event winner driven this night by Joe Pavia Jr., jetted to the front from the assigned outside post in the field of eight starters in 27.1 but yielded the lead to the second quarter move of Kommander Hawk and Bruce Ranger to a sizzling half of 54.1.
Going to the 1:22.2 three quarter mark against the wind, Deep Finesse pulled the pocket and was followed to the outside by Forty Carrots in rein to Wally Hennessey. Lurking far back seventh for most of the mile was Drive All Night, who started three wide on the final turn and his furious late charge just caught Forty Carrots at the wire in 1:51.1. Rick's Sign was brought through stretch traffic by Fern Paquet Jr. to save the show position while Deep Finesse, one week removed from a 1:49.3 track record spin for older horses, had to settle for fourth.
It was the second upset win in 2012 from four starts for Drive All Night. The Real Artist-U Drive Me Crazy 7 year old gelding is trained at Pompano by Christie Collins. The career winner of over $387,000 is owned by Joe Limongelli of Pittston, PA.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

CalX1 - Frankly, Time Off Doesn't Hurt Scarlett At Cal Expo

Saturday, February 25, 2012 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity – Cal Expo

A mixture of conditioned and claimers distaffers, racing for a purse of $3,600, were featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (February 24), on which Frankly Scarlett won for the 28th time.

In advance of starting on the outside in the field of six, trainer Steve Wiseman knew what he needed and where he needed to be.

"I thought I had a decent shot if I got the right trip - - which as it turns out didn't happen," stated Wiseman.  "As far as strategy, I figured Blue Note (Luke Plano), who hadn't raced since November 18, needed a start.  So I figured I could leave to try to take a shot and get in front of her."

Leaving and tucking in fourth as the field just entered the first-turn, Wiseman didn't mind that he may have to sit, or come first-over.

"I was quite content with the intention of trying to flush out Majestic Lass (Lemoyne Svendsen)."

Remaining in the cleanup spot through a deliberate wind-aided second-quarter into a :58.3 first-half, Wiseman's plan needed some different bait.

"I was trying to get Mooney (Lemoyne Svendsen) to pull a couple of times to the half, but I couldn't get him to bite, so I figured I had to be first-up.  I, however, wasn't really concerned because she felt pretty good and strong on the bit at that point."

Moving first-over to the five-eighths mile pole and pacing nicely, the eight year-old gained to the wheel of the pace-setting Sleigh Belle (Scott Cisco) to the three-quarter mile pole (1:28), thus prompting Cisco to pop the earplugs of his charge.

"I figured Sleigh Belle would be tough once we straightened out because I know her best game is in the lane - - which meant my mare would have to work hard to get by her.  But my horse still felt pretty good at that point."

With Sleigh Belle leading and maintaining a 1-1/2 length lead in the stretch, Wiseman went to work on his mare at mid-stretch.

"She did everything I asked of her when I got after her, then really got going in the last sixteenth of a mile, which is her, because she likes to race, and she was able to get up in the last steps."

Surging late into a headwind, Frankly Scarlett got up at the wire to win ($6.60) by a half of one-length, while pacing a :27.3 final-quarter.  Owned by Robert Bacon, the daughter of Little Steven-Romantic Music stopped the timer at 1:55.4.  Sleigh Belle had to settle for the place honors, and Bewareofthisaffair (James Kennedy), who never had much room, finished 1-1/4 lengths farther back, in third.

"She's a tough old mare for the problems that she has and never ceases to amaze me.  She fought all the way to the wire and raced super - - it was a very good race for her," finished Wiseman.

On Friday night, driver Lemoyne Svendsen not only started off the 15-race program with a winner behind Dudis Angel, but the triumph was his 2,700th career victory.

Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (February 25) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).   On Saturday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while Hotdogs, Fries & Sodas are offered at $2 apiece.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee).  Beginning February 24, all Late Pick 4’s will now come with an increased $15,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also starting this weekend, the Friday Late Pick 4’s will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

M1 - Bongiorno Scores Driving Double On Both Sides Of The Hudson

East Rutherford, NJ [February 24, 2012] -- Eighteen-year-old driver Joe Bongiorno posted his first professional wins at both the Meadowlands and Yonkers racetracks on Friday night.

Bongiorno steered Don’t Blame Her to the winner’s circle in the third race at Yonkers before crossing the George Washington Bridge in time to guide Moving Art to a dead heat for victory in the eleventh at the Meadowlands.  Both horses are owned by his parents, Robert and Barbara Bongiorno of Colts Neck, NJ.   

Bongiorno worked out a second over trip with Moving Art and rallied in time to match Elegant Girl and driver Yannick Gingras at the wire in 1:56.4.   Bongiorno and Moving Art paid $20.20.  The gifted young reinsman is the only driver in history to have finished in a dead heat for his first Meadowlands win.

“It’s a great honor, as young as I am, just to win a race at one of those tracks, let alone both,” Bongiorno said.  “To do it with family-owned horses made it all the more special.”

Bongiorno, a senior at Colts Neck High School, jumped into the sulky in 2010 and was lauded as the Amateur Driver of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association that season.  His success on the track comes as no surprise given his bloodlines.  He is the grandson of Harold “Sonny” Dancer Jr. and a great nephew of Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer.  His father, Robert, also trained horses and still remains active in the business as an owner.


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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 24, 2012-- Keeper's Destiny (Eric Goodell), snapped on the money in her local debut a week ago, had no such issues Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured $33,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace.

Leaving from post position No. 5, the 11-10 choice worked around pole-assigned Arctic Fire N (James Rattray) before a soggy :28.1 opening quarter-mile.

She then found a :57.4 intermission before Cuz She Can (George Brennan) though about moving from fourth. She quickly went back in, while Pancleefandarpels (Jim Pantaleano) then tried it from the three-hole.

That one made only minimal gains going in and out of the 1:25.4 three-quarters, with Keeper's Destiny owning a length-and-three-quarter lead into the lane.

She easily held Arctic Fire N at bay, winning by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:54. "Pancleef" held third, with Fox Valley Sage (Cat Manzi) and Cuz She Can completing the cashers.

For Keeper's Destiny, a 6-year-old daughter of Intrepid Seelster co-owned by (trainer) Casie Coleman and Merline Howse (also the co-breeders), she returned $4.30 for her second win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $22.80, with the triple returning $65.

Friday night's co-featured $33,000 Open Trot saw 13-10 favorite Ringside Lauryn (Brennan) hold off Pembroke Prayer (Mark MacDonald) in 1:58.

Those two were sitting second and third, respectively, behind Celebrity Bluechip (Bartlett). That one won the draw and won the early fractions, as in :28.3 and :59.1. However, she was done when Definitely Mamie (Jeff Gregory) visited right before the 1:27.4 three-quarters.

After "Mamie" had made the lead, both Ringside Lauryn and Pembroke Prayer extricated themselves from the pylons. "Lauryn" was able to get first "run," going by a tiring "Mamie" before fending Pembroke Prayer by three-quarters of a length. Tasty Max (Goodell), Farifant (Tyler Buyter) and H and M's Hit (Jordan Stratton) rounded out the payees. 

For Ringside  Lauryn, a 6-year-old daughter of Dream Vacation co-owned by (trainer) Lou Pena and Mark Karam, she returned $4.60 for her fourth win in six '12 tries. The exacta paid $25.20, the triple returned $158.50 and the superfecta paid $1,246.

Yonkers' five-night-per-week (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday) live schedule continues. First post for all programs remains at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule.



On Thursday, February 23, the California Horse Racing Board approved the request by the California Exposition and State Fair to cancel the remainder of the scheduled Thursday programs through June, 16, the end of the current meet.

Dave Elliott, Director of Racing for Cal Expo said, “With our current horse population not quite where we’d like it to be, we felt that by racing two nights a weeks a week versus three, that the increased field size would be a wagering advantage to our fans, and to our simulcast partners who import our signal.

 “The handle on our Friday and Saturday cards show us that the fans are wagering on our product, and will continue to do so with the knowledge that they are betting into good mutuel pools.”


During the month of March Monticello Raceway will add an afternoon race card on Friday, March 2 and racing will continue on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays throughout the remainder of the month.
Beginning Thursday March 1st all post times will be at 12:50pm; twenty –five minutes later than during the previous months.

Among the events slated during March include the 11th annual St. Paddy Pace which will feature the talents of Irish-American harness drivers and will be presented on March 15th. That date was chosen because the Mighty M doesn’t race on Saturdays and St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 falls on a Saturday.
Simulcast wagering on thoroughbreds—as well as some other harness tracks—will be available during the afternoons while the evenings will largely be devoted to harness simulcasts.  

And of course, there’s also year-round gaming at the Monticello Casino and Raceway.   

CalX1 - Albion, Shelby County Sharing Saturday Spotlight At Cal Expo

Albion, fresh from flying home to record the fastest mile of the meeting last week with his 1:52.4 performance, attempts an encore in Saturday night’s (February 25) Winners-Over Pace while stable-mates Shelby County and Putoneonnetformom get top billing in the co-featured Winners-Over Trot.

A 6-year-old son of The Panderosa, Albion carries the banner of Dan Tullio, James Mascola and trainer Matias Ruiz and will try to keep his record perfect with the 20-year-old East Coast pilot Harry Landy on a return assignment.  A 10-time winner last season, he comes into this affair seeking his fourth snapshot from seven tries this year and sports a 1:51.1 career standard that was set at the Meadowlands.

Off at 9-2 for last week’s clash at the head of the pacing class, Albion sat last of the seven to the half.  He began to pick up momentum first over to the turn, engaged for the lead at mid-stretch and drew off late to prevail by three lengths while coming home in :26.3 that evening.

Shelby County, who returned to top form with a coast-to-coast decision at most recent asking with trainer Rocky Stidham in the sulky, faces his hard-hitting barn-mate in the co-headline Trot.

Shelby County is a 5-year-old homebred daughter of Chip Chip Hooray who carries the banner of Ben Kenney with Stidham doing the driving and training.  She comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following three of her five trips to the post this season.

After registering impressive tallies in her first two starts on the year, the chestnut mare made a break on a sloppy track and went evenly at next asking.  She got back to her winning ways last time, however, as Stidham sent her right to the top, she set the fractions without challenge and held safe by a neck over Franks Best while equaling her lifetime mark with the 1:57.15 final clocking.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (February 24) & Saturday (February 25) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.   On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee).  Beginning February 24, all Late Pick 4’s will now come with an increased $15,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also starting this weekend, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

CalX1 - Harry Landy Making Most Of Visit At Cal Expo

Friday, February 24, 2012 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Harry Landy had such a good time in his first trip to Cal Expo last weekend, including a victory with Albion at the head of the pacing class, he decided to stay for another week.

The 20-year-old Landy has been plying his trade at Freehold in New Jersey for the last two years and has more than 100 wins under his belt.  When he guided Albion to victory in last Saturday’s (February 18) main event, the 1:52.4 clocking was the swiftest of the meeting.

“Coming out here has been very enjoyable,” Harry related. “I got to see Cal Expo, which is a really nice facility.  In a business like harness racing there are a lot of components to being a driver, but the true key one is opportunity.

“I’m thankful to the trainers out there who put me up.  Albion was definitely a huge thrill . The track here is pretty flat with the surface being good on the horse’s feet but not as compressed as the Meadowlands, so it's a bit slower of a mile.  That makes Albion’s back half in 54 even more impressive.”

With Freehold being a half-mile track, Landy welcomes the chance to see some action on a mile layout.

“When I do drive a mile track back East, I’m normally only getting behind horses who are 10-1 and up, and much of the time I’m just sitting on the rail and hoping to get a share.

“To come out here and get the opportunity to drive horses that really fit the class of the race will give me a lot more experience in driving the bigger track.”

 After competing here last weekend, Landy headed south to visit Los Angeles for the first time.

“There are a few reasons staying another week,” he related.  “Now that I’ve been to LA, I wanted to see the north and go skiing in Tahoe.”