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Sunday, February 28, 2016


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

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, February 28, 2016—Not Afraid (Dan Dube, $11.80) lasted on the lead Sunday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $32,000 Open Handicap Trot.

Looped leaving (from post position No. 4) by outside entity Major Athens (George Brennan), Not Afraid did make the lead before a :28.4 opening quarter-mile. He rated a :58.4 intermission before 3-5 choice Crazshana (Jason Bartlett)—who had left into a four-hole—was moving again.

The fave engaged the leader in and out of a 1:27.3 three-quarters, but Not Afraid was not done. He held a short lead off the final turn as Crazshana grudgingly gave way. Major Athens ducked inside with every chance, but missed a nose in 1:56.1.

Crazshana was third, beaten a half-length, with Swishnflick (Mark MacDonald) and Zooming (Tyler Buter) settling for the minors.

For third choice Not Afraid, a 7-year-old S J’s Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Anderberg, it was his third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $58.50, with the triple returning $162.

Sunday’s “French” trot feature was the $26,000 opener, won by Dot Dot Dot Dash (Kakaley, $12.60) in 2:26.2 for the mile-and-a-quarter distance.  

This was the third Sunday matinee of the season, with the two scheduled consecutively for March 13 and 20 (first post for both 1:10 PM as of this writing)

The Raceway’s live season continues Monday night (first post 7:10 PM), with a dozen races and a $10,000 guaranteed Pick 5 pool (50-cent bases wager, races 7 through 11, program pagers available at 


by john manzi, for NAADA

The seventh leg of the NAADA trotting series saw two former Passover Pace champions  each drive a winner in their respective splits. Bobby Krivelin (2011 & 2013) won the first $6000 split with Permanent Joy while Alan Schwartz (2002, 2004 &2006) copped the other $6000 trot with Current Crisis. But since the competitors in amateur racing don’t receive any remuneration Krivelin emerged as the big winner since his Hero Stables own both trotters.

After starting from the pole position in his non-wagering trot, Krivelin allowed Mr. Invincible (Matt Zuccarello) to take command on the first turn but once the field straightened on the backstretch Krivelin then quickly retook the lead before the quarter mile timer flashed :29.4. From there Permanent Joy was on cruise control as the 8-year-old Trot For Joy gelding went on to an oh-so-easy five-length triumph over Warrawee Preferred, driven by Dr. Scott Woogen. Although Mr. Invincible shadowed the winner throughout, he ended up third some seven lengths behind Permanent Joy.

“Permanent Joy loves to be on top and he just straightens out and seems to get stronger and stronger,” Krivelin related after his triumph, and then added, “He never sees a harness until he goes to the races because he lives outside 24-7. Oh, occasionally I’ll tow him behind a golf cart so he moves along a good clip but he loves the outdoors and I have lots of big beautiful paddocks on my farm in Goshen (NY).”

Krivelin, a food purveyor by trade, has been a three- time recipient of the National Amateur Driver of the Year Award and with his victory on Saturday he now has driven 187 winners in a career which began in 1996. It was his third victory in the current NAADA Trotting series and his 48 points are 15 better than runner-up Dave Yarock’s 33. Hannah Miller is third with 31 points.

A second split saw another former National Amateur Driver of the Year, Alan Schwartz guide  Current Crisis to a 1:59.1 victory.

In their split, Schwartz’s trotter started from the pylon position but he allowed Dave Yarock and Nautilus De Vie, to take command after the start. Biding his time in the two hole Schwartz stalked the leader until the field rounded the final turn at which point he eased Current Crisis to the outside and the 7-year old Current Cast gelding trotted  by Nautilus De Vie and went on to a three length triumph. Peter Kleinhans rallied Windsun Galliano from far back to finish second just a neck ahead of Nautilus De Vie.

“It’s been a long time between pots but I finally had some power,” Schwartz said referring to Current Crisis’s abilities. “Still, I had a perfect trip and didn’t have to move until the stretch and it’s a nice feeling when you pull on the leader and your horse goes by him and wins the race.”

But Schwartz has had that feeling more times than any current amateur driver competing today. It was his 565th driving victory and with the passing of “Boots” Dunn, Schwartz is now the winningest amateur driver racing today.

Ninth straight $3M night at the Big M; Fan of Terror upsets at 52-1

by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, N.J. -- Healthy dividends--including a late Pick 4 which paid nearly $4,000 on a 50¢ ticket and a 52-1 upset from Fan of Terror in the featured ninth race--contributed to a ninth consecutive card with over $3 million in handle at The Meadowlands on Saturday (February 27) evening.

A total of $3,342,144 was wagered on the 14-race program, extending the streak of racing programs with over $3 million in handle to nine.  Over seven cards in the month of February, total turnover on Meadowlands races exceeded $22.4 million.

In the featured $20,000 top-level conditioned pace, Louis Frascella's Fan of Terror ($106.00) stunned at 52-1 odds, overcoming traffic trouble in mid-stretch to narrowly prevail in 1:51 over the favored pair of Jet Airway and Ashley's Husband.  Andy Miller prompted the pace with the 4-year-old Western Terror gelding before yielding to dueling leaders Itrustyou (Yannick Gingras) and Aslan (Andy McCarthy) through a :27.3 initial quarter.  As Jet Airway (Marcus Miller) commenced outer flow through a :55.1 half, Fan of Terror found himself hard-pressed for racing room, only able to shake free in the final 150 yards when he split mid-stretch leader Jet Airway and a flattening Calvin B (Corey Callahan).  Fan of Terror lunged to the line to just collar Jet Airway, and 8-5 favorite Ashley's Husband (Tim Tetrick) charged down the grandstand side off a fourth-over trip to claim third.  Dovuto Hanover (Scott Zeron), who made his seasonal debut in the race, rallied up the pegs late for fourth, just missing Fan of Terror by a length.

Andrew Harris trains Fan of Terror, now a 14-time winner.

The featured win was one of two for Miller, who took the finale as well with Rockin Jimmy ($6.80) in 1:53.2.  Top driving honors on the night went to Marcus Miller, who captured three of the evening's 14 races.  Andy McCarthy, Anthony Napolitano, and Tim Tetrick each also notched driving doubles.

Earlier in the program, the KJ Stables and Purple Haze Stables' Missile J ($2.60) earned his second consecutive win, holding pocket rival Connecting Flight at bay for a 1:52.2 win in a $10,000 event for non-winners of two races or $20,000.  Tetrick drove the quickly developing 3-year-old American Ideal gelding for trainer Linda Toscano.

As the seventh race 20¢ Jackpot High 5 was hit for the second time in three cards--this one paying $8,016.64, only one pool carries over to next Friday's card.  The final race Jackpot High 5 will see $116,448 added to the pool on Friday evening should one lone player prove successful.

Live racing returns on Friday, March 4.  First post for the next two weekends of racing at The Meadowlands will remain 6:35 p.m. Eastern.


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 27, 2016—Favored Polak A (Brian Sears, $4.60) snapped Phil Your Boots (Tyler Buter) at the wire Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $32,000 Open Handicap Pace.

Those two, leaving from post position Nos. 5 and 6, respectively, were sent toward the lead. “Phil” worked around Polak A, then laid down intervals of :27.4, :57 and 1:24.4. The third-quarter pace was prompted by a first-up First Class Horse (Jason Bartlett).

Phil Your Boots owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane and looked home, but Sears was relentless in getting after Polak A. That one finally did corral the leader, winning by a nose in 1:53.

Season-debuting All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) saved ground through the final turn before finishing with a flourish to grab third. First Class Horse and Dream Out Loud N (George Brennan) rounded out the payees.     

For repeating Polak A, a 7-year-old Down Under Pacific Fella gelding co-owned by many Bellinos and trained by Tony O’Sullivan, he’s now 4-for-6 this season. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $28, with the triple returning $97.50.

Later in the card Sears and Sapphire City ($5.90) turned in the fastest local mile (1:52.1) of the season, winning the $16,000, 10th-race pace.

The Raceway’s live season continues with a “French” Sunday afternoon (first post 12:30 PM).

Flashy Trick Takes Niatross Series At Buffalo Raceway

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The front running Flashy Trick had just enough gas left in the tank and managed to hang on by a nose over long shot Tymal Torch to capture the $24,000 Niatross Knockout Claiming Series final at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday night (Feb. 27).

It was a perfect ending to the popular month-long series as the top four finishers were within a half length of each other in the blanket finish. 

Flashy Trick, a winner in gate-to-wire fashion in last week's semi-finals, set sail from the rail for driver David McNeight III. Putting up leisurely fractions of 30.1, 1:01.1 and 1:31.2 over the sloppy track, Flashy Trick knew things weren't going to come easy in the last quarter mile.

The race boiled down to the sprint to the finish line. Flashy Trick ($4.10) was up for the challenge and was able to turn back the serious threats from Tymal Torch and third place finisher Mach It Paid (Jim McNeight). M G Jade (Jim Morrill Jr.) was fourth, just a mere head off the winner.

Owned by Courtney McNeight and trained by David McNeight Jr., it was the third win of the season for Flashy Trick (Memphis Flash-San Trick) with all victories coming in the Niatross Claiming Series. The win upped the 7-year-old gelding's seasonal bankroll to $18,800 and $80,334 lifetime.

In the $10,000 consolation race of the Niatross Knockout Claiming Series, Aberarder Smitty ($2.10) and Morrill Jr. absolutely smoked the field in 1:58.4, beating Sir Altb Z Tam (Todd Cummings) by 13-1/2 lengths. Le Reina Road (David McNeight III) took the show spot.

Aberarder Smitty, who won two legs of the Series but failed to reach the finals after a fifth place finish last week, took out his frustrations on the field of seven. Aberarder Smitty has now won five times in six tries this year. The win bumped his seasonal earnings to $15,234 for owner-trainer Jeff Amann.

China Dream has been coming up just short the past two weeks in the $10,000 Open Pace, finishing third each time by less an a length after gobbling up big ground in the stretch. This time though, China Dream was able to stalk the pace and used that patented closing kick to register a length win over the favored Youwillwishyouhad in 1:58.2.

Finishing no worse than third in his previous four appearances in the Open, driver Jack Flanigen maneuvered China Dream first over to the half, chasing the pace-setting Youwillwishyouhad. In the stretch run, the devastating late kick by China Dream was way too much as Youwillwishyouhad and driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. could do nothing but watch. Beach Hero (Truman Gale) finished in third.

Owned by Jack Rice and trainer Maria Rice, it was the second victory in five appearances for the 5-year-old gelded China Dream (If I Can Dream-China Art), now a winner of $14,900 in 2016 and $104,493 lifetime.

Morrill Jr. made his 2016 seasonal debut in the sulky and he started out the year with a bang by posting a five-bagger. Drew Monti had a driving double.

Racing will resume on Wednesday at Buffalo Raceway with a 12-race card slated for 5 p.m.

For more information including upcoming promotions, results, race replays and the latest news, go to

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gural Hanover victorious on debut in Big M trotting feature

by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, N.J. -- Stakes-placed Gural Hanover ($2.80, part of entry) made his return to the races a triumphant one in the $25,000 Open Handicap Trot, and all-sources handle topped $3 million for the eighth consecutive card on Friday (February 26) evening at The Meadowlands.

Having drawn the outside post in the field of eight, Gural Hanover took no part in the early pace, retreating to seventh as last week's Open winner Crosbys Clam Bake (Scott Zeron) sprinted to a :27.2 initial quarter before ceding the lead to Can Do (Anthony Napolitano).  Midway on the backstretch, Yannick Gingras floated the 5-year-old Crazed gelding off the pegs, latching onto the live cover of B Yoyo (Joe Bongiorno) through a :55.2 half and slipstreaming a pressured third quarter before swinging three-wide off a stalled B Yoyo a quarter from home.  Gural Hanover kicked clear in upper stretch as the pacesetters faded, holding sway in the end by a driven half-length in 1:54.4 over entrymates Bourbon Bay (Corey Callahan), who charged willingly down the grandstand side after being shuffled to last, and Opulent Yankee (Andy Miller), who negotiated traffic to stay on.

Ron Burke trains Gural Hanover for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E, LLC, and the Panhellenic Stable.

Burke and Gingras teamed up as well in the sub-featured $15,500 upper-level trot, as Its Huw You Know turned in a 19-1 upset in 1:54.2, kicking third-over cover to pass even-money favorite Dewycolorintheline and chase down pacesetter Hot Type in the final yards.  The Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi co-own the 4-year-old Holiday Road gelding.

The evening's top distaff event--a $15,000 top-level conditioned pace--went to Clear View Hanover ($7.80), a pillar-to-post winner in 1:51.4 who battled gamely to stave off a vicious first-over press from Gweneeee J.  Tim Tetrick drove the 7-year-old Western Ideal mare for trainer Henrik Lundell and owners Joie de Vie Farm and Guidetti Racing.

Anthony Napolitano led all drivers with four wins on the card, while Tetrick and Corey Callahan took three races apiece.

Punters combined to wager $3,245,266 on the 14-race card, carrying the streak of Meadowlands programs exceeding $3 million in turnover to eight.

Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Saturday (February 27) evening, with over $113,300 in combined Jackpot High 5 carryovers and $105,000 in guaranteed Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools.  Additionally, four seats for the World Harness Handicapping Championship are up for grabs in a live-bankroll qualifier on-track tomorrow (the entry fee is $400, including a $200 contest bankroll).  Post time for the 14-race program is 6:35 p.m. Eastern.


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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 26, 2016—Gallie Bythe Beach (Matt Kakaley, $5.40) returned to town sharp Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway’s  $32,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace.

In play early from post position No. 5 (she won the 5-thru-8) draw, “Gallie” was one of four leavers. She took a brief seat third before moving around Jungle Genie N (Brian Sears).

Gallie Bythe Beach made the lead right the :28.3 opening-quarter mile, then rated a soft, :29.4 second station (:58.2 half). From there, 13-10 favorite Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton), who had found a four-hole from post No. 8, went after the leader.

However, Gallie Bythe Beach opened some acreage in and out the 1:26.2 three-quarters, taking a length-and-three-quarter lead into the lane. She closed the sale, beating a stubborn Sell a Bit N by a length in 1:55.1.

Regil Elektra (Jason Bartlett) was along for third, with last week’s victress, Rockn Ruby N (Dan Dube), and Jungle Genie N rounding out the payees.  

For second choice Gallie Bythe Beach, a 4-year-old homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere owned by Fashion Farms and trained by Jim Campbell, it was her first win in a pair of seasonal starts.. The exacta paid $16.60, with the triple returning $56.50.

The Raceway’s live season continues Saturday night (first post 7:10 PM) and a “French” Sunday afternoon (first post 12:30 PM).

Kahoku Wins, Still Perfect At Buffalo Raceway

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Kahoku made it a perfect 2-for-2 over the Buffalo Raceway half-mile oval on Friday evening (Feb. 26) by going gate-to-wire to effortlessly beat Justgottogetthere by 2-3/4 lengths in the featured $8,200 trot.

In his debut at Buffalo Raceway on February 19, Kahoku (Truman Gale) cruised to a two-length decision in 2:01.3 over a sloppy track. Now stepping up a notch, he had no issues once again in trotting away from his seven rivals by rolling to a 2:00.1 decision on the fast track.

Kahoku, who was racing at Northfield Park, had no trouble in setting the tempo from the pylons. He set steady fractions of 30.0, 1:00.1 and 1:30.0 and faced no opposition in the drive to the wire. It was a battle for the minor spoils with Justgottogetthere (Jim McNeight) rallying for second and Strong Hope (Jack Flanigen) taking third.

Trained by Mark Laidlaw and co-owned by Colleen Girdlestone and Michael Gentner, Kahoku (SJ's Caviar-Tags Goal) is an 8-year-old gelding that now has put $10,760 in the bank this season and $137,822 lifetime.

Gale celebrated his birthday with a pair of victories while Flanigen and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. doubled. Maria Rice had two training victories.

The best card of the season is on tap for Saturday night at Buffalo Raceway beginning at 6 p.m. There's $116,500 in purse money up for grabs with the $24,000 finals of the Niatross Knockout Claiming Series set along with the $10,000 consolation and the $10,000 Open Pace to highlight the program.

For more information, including the latest news, results, race replays and upcoming promotions, go to

Cal Expo Sunday Barn Notes

Cantoria proving to be very photogenic
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness  

If you’re keeping track, when Cantoria proved a punctual favorite last week it was the seventh time at this meeting that the trotting mare has put in a winner’s circle appearance.

A 4-year-old daughter of Mr Cantab, Cantoria goes about her business for the partnership of Mark Benvenga, Larry Barker, Steve Wiseman and Kathy Plested with Wiseman doing the reining and training.

The bay miss has shown a preference for sitting back and playing the role of stalker and doing her best work in the stretch, which was the case in last week’s two and a quarter length decision in a lifetime best 1:58 clocking.

Nobody is happier about the development of the sidewheeler than co-owner Benvenga. “It’s been awesome to see her grow up since we purchased her last summer in Minnesota,” he said. “She’s filled out nicely, but still has a ways to go and is learning to be a real nice horse.”

As mentioned earlier, Cantoria hails from the Steve Wiseman shedrow, with that barn currently atop the standings at this meet. “Steve and Kathy have done a wonderful job with her, just as they have with all the horses,” Benvenga noted.

Cantoria gets a pretty stern test in Sunday’s fourth race, as she moves up to the Open III level and is taking on some tough customers in Big Baller, Franks Best, Commandergalleon and Winsome Kelly.

A reminder there are two wagers here that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which features a 25 percent minor pool payout; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $40,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and $25,000 on Sundays.

Trotting Sire Stakes lures My Little Susie

A $15,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old trotters is the main attraction at Cal Expo Sunday night with My Little Susie looking to pick up another trophy.

The Sire Stakes will go as the fifth event on a 12-race card under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC. The action is set to get underway at 5:05 p.m. .

My Little Susie is a 3-year-old daughter of Claudius Augustus who competes forA Piece Of The Action LLC, takes her lessons from Gene Vallandingham and will once again be guided by Chip Lackey from the cozy rail slot.

The promising performer won three of her 10 starts last year, with a 1:59 mark over the Red Mile in Lexington. She made her seasonal debut finishing third here in the Alan Kirschenbaum, had a tough trip at next asking and then accounted for the first Sire Stakes for this group two weeks ago.

Sent off the 9-5 second choice in that affair, My Little Susie sat a tracking trip to the stretch, ignited when Lackey asked the question and won going away by two lengths while lowering her lifetime standard to 1:58 1/5 in the process.

Kissed the Boys was runner-up that evening after making breaks in her previous two outings. She accounted for the Alan Kirschenbaum Trot at 33-1 in an eye-catching debut back on January 17 for her owner/breeders Team Desomer and Steve Desomer will as usual be in the sulky.

Lodi Bank Robber is looking to make amends after settling for third in the February 14 stakes after carving out all the fractions. Mary Harris and Pierre Girard own and bred the New Age Hanover gelding, with Girard training and Luke Plano handling the lines. Completing the field are Sixstringsandapick, Delta Breezeoflodi and CW Raisinette. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dovuto Hanover debuts Saturday at Big M

by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, N.J. -- Following nearly nine months on the sidelines, Martin Scharf's Dovuto Hanover prepared to commence his 6-year-old season with a pair of qualifiers earlier in the month.  In Saturday (February 27) evening's featured $20,000 ninth race at The Meadowlands, he will tackle nine others on debut for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman.

"He had some issues last year, only having six starts, but he's been so far, so good," said Norman of his new acquisition.  "I'm pretty happy with him so far."

While installed the 3-1 morning line favorite, a tall task awaits the gelded son of Dragon Again.  Among those facing Dovuto Hanover are Erv Miller trainee Jet Airway (Marcus Miller, post 7), who rises off a decisive 1:50 win, the stout closer Ashley's Husband (post 4) who reunites with Tim Tetrick after a ferocious :25.4 closing quarter propelled him to victory two starts back, and Aslan (Andy McCarthy, post 9), who charged off cover on local debut last week after solid bids in top-level fields at Yonkers.

Scott Zeron will handle the driving duties aboard Dovuto Hanover, who took his mark of 1:48.4 at The Meadowlands as a 3-year-old.  His greatest accomplishments came in 2014 where, as a 4-year-old, he won nine of 31 races--including top-level events at The Meadowlands, Pocono Downs, and on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit--and banked over $200,000.

"In this position we'll probably race him off the pace--he's raced well that way in the past," continued Norman.  "A third-over trip would be great.  If he can finish up well and with some pace, I'll be happy with him.  The thing against him is probably tactical speed, but I think the run will do him some good."

The featured event kicks off the late 50¢ Pick 4, which carries a guaranteed pool of $50,000.  As is customary, the earlier Pick 4 (beginning in race 5) and Pick 5 (in race 3) offer a combined $55,000 in guaranteed pools.  Two 20¢ Jackpot High 5 wagers await punters in search of a large score, occurring in races 7 and 14.  While the early High 5 was hit last Saturday, the late High 5 will boast a jackpot in excess of $106,000 should it not be captured by a lone ticket on Friday.

Saturday evening's card also features a World Harness Handicapping Championship qualifier, with the top four finishers guaranteed spots in the April 30 final.  The entry fee is $400, split evenly between the prize pool and a live-money contest bankroll.  For further details, visit

Post time for Saturday's 14-race card is 6:35 p.m. Eastern.

Buffalo Raceway Ready For Big Saturday Night Card

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- It's the best card thus far of the 2016 season from top to bottom at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday night (Feb. 27) as the 12-race program will carry $116,500 in purse money.

The featured race is the $24,000 finals of the popular Niatross Knockout Claiming Series along with the $10,000 consolation event. Bolstering the program will be the highly competitive $10,000 Open Pace as well.

The evening will mark the return of Jim Morrill Jr. as he begins his 2016 campaign. It's safe to say he's not easing into the year as he is slated to drive in 11 of 12 races. Morrill Jr. won 264 races last year and more than $5.4 million in purses.

Also appearing at the Hamburg half-mile oval will be driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. who sits eighth place nationally in victories this year with 65. He was fourth in 2015 with 663.

After three consecutive weeks of eliminations, the Niatross finale has eight combatants ready to go at it for the title which is scheduled for the eighth race.

Mach It Paid (Jim McNeight) is the 5-2 morning line favorite starting from the four post. He has finished either first or second in all six starts in 2016.

Flashy Trick drew the rail with current Buffalo Raceway leading driver David McNeight III and has been installed at 7-2. The 7-year-old gelding has won two legs in the series including a wire-to-wire trip in 1:58 last week in the semi-finals.

Beechwood Wayne rides a two-race win streak but has the seven post with Drew Monti slated to be in the bike at 5-1. 

Others in the race include Midas Blue Chip (Truman Gale), Delightful Caitlin (Ron Beback Jr.), Tymal Torch (Ray Fisher Jr.), M G Jade (Morrill Jr.) and First Of Fun (Aldrich Jr.).

The consolation race has Aberarder Smitty drawing the rail at 5-2 with Morrill Jr. Aberarder Smitty took a four-race win streak into last week's semi-finals but finished fifth, thus was relegated to the consolation.

The Open Pace looks to be a wide-open affair with three horses coming in on torrid streaks. Cobble Beach has been victorious in three of his four 2016 starts and was assigned the eight post with McNeight III aboard.

Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) arrives on a two-race win streak including last week's Open while Youwillwishyouhad has been a runner up the past two weeks at this level, losing by a neck each time.

And now throw the dangerous China Dream into the mix. He has a win, second and a pair of third place finishes in his last four appearances in the Open. It's a perfect recipe for a interesting contest which is set for the fifth race.

For more information including the latest news, race replays, results and upcoming promotions, go to

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cal Expo Saturday Barn Notes

Little Emma targets first stakes trophy
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

After settling for second in the first Sire Stakes for her division two weeks ago, Little Emma looks to correct that oversight in Saturday night’s second big-money dance for the 3-year-old pacing fillies.

A homebred daughter of Little Steven, Little Emma races for the partnership of breeders Rick and Marlene Thomas, Dave and Rob Haness and George Reider, with Reider doing the training. She comes off a sharp conditioned victory last weekend in the first teaming with Luke Plano that should set her up perfectly for Saturday’s main event.

“She’s got the right name, that’s for sure,” said Reider. “She’s very little, just like her dam, who was a hard-trying New Zealand mare that I trained for awhile for the Thomas family.

“She was a feisty little thing to break, and even though she’s little, she has a lot of power and spunk. She’s still learning, but she’s definitely getting better with each start. It’s interesting when you train down a baby and see the characteristics of the mother come through like they do with this filly.”

George added that while both Little Emma and her dam Elegant Emma were feisty on the racetrack, they were both complete sweethearts around the barn.

“I’m happy for all the connections as far as how things have gone to this point, and I also want to give credit to Alex Alaga at Hawthorne Ranch, who does a breat job and brings them back looking fantastic.

“As far as the spring goes, it’s going to be exciting to see how much more she can progress. If I could ask for one thing, it would be that gets just a little taller,” Reider added with a smile.

Sophomore Sire Stakes get marquee treatment

A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacers head the Saturday program, with Allmyx’sliveintexas and Midnight Adventure leading the colt division, while Little Emma and Moonstone Beach square off in the filly contest.

There will be a 12-race card on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a first post of 6:15 p.m. The colt stakes will go as the third event on the evening, while the filly stakes will be contested as a non-betting race prior to the regular program.

Looking at the stakes for the males, Allmyx’sliveintexas won the initial stakes for this group on February 13 over Midnight Adventure, who was the 4-5 favorite that evening.
The former is a homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel’s who races for Wayne and Rod Knittel, is conditioned by Bob Johnson and will once again have Mooney Svendsen guiding.

Sent off the 9-5 second choice in that first Sire Stakes, Allmyx’sliveintexas was used early for the lead by Svendsen, was covered up on the backside, then came with a nice kick in the stretch to win going away by a length and a half in a sharp 1:54 3/5 performance.

Midnight Adventure is a son of Kent’s On Nuke who is owned and was bred by Mark Anderson and Debra McCarthy, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and has James Kennedy back at the controls. He accounted for the Lonnie Beck Series finale on January 30.

Moonstone Beach captured the first stakes get-together for the sophomore pacing fillies for the team of owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and pilot Mooney Svendsen. She rallied with cover that night and proved a punctual 3-5 choice.

Little Emma was her most immediate victim in that mile, but came back to win a conditioned event last weekend in a solid come-from-behind effort. George Reider trains the Little Steven offspring and co-owns along with her breeders Rick and Marlene Thomas and Dave and Rob Haness and Luke Plano guides. Plain Awesome completes the cast with James Kennedy in the sulky. 

Friday Night Live at the Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ – The Meadowlands kicks off another weekend of live racing with fourteen races beginning at 6:35 on Friday night. With that program the track hopes to continue the current unprecedented streak of seven straight cards with all-sources handle of over $3 million.

The racing highlights are the weekly $25,000 Open Handicap trot in the second race and a very contentious group of ten pacing mares tussling in the eighth, a condition event for $15,000.

Gweneeee J has matured into the favorite’s role in the eighth race off her impressive uncovered win in this class on February 12 where she held off the formidable late bid of the talented Gallie Bythe Beach in deep stretch at odds of 11-1. Driver Scott Zeron and Gweneeee J made an immediate connection with a “from the clouds” second in their first pairing on February 5, Scott was aboard for the win and is back in the sulky on Friday for trainer Linda Toscano.  The American Ideal four-year-old has certainly come to hand over the winter meet with three wins already in 2016 for owner Ken Jacobs’ nom de course, the KJ Stable, LLC.

The competition is led by Clear View Hanover, reunited with Meadowlands leading driver Tim Tetrick who chauffeured her to consecutive wins earlier this season. Clear View Hanover missed virtually all of the 2015 campaign but trainer Henrik Lundell has brought her back in sensational form for owners Joie De Vie Farms and Guidetti Racing, both of New Jersey.

All horizontal pool guarantees are in place for the weekend and the last race Jackpot HI 5 Carryover stands at $106,314 as the weekend begins. The Late Pick 4 free program pages for Friday are available now for download, courtesy of Trackmaster. If your memory needs refreshed on any Meadowlands race they're all available on our YouTube channel

Friday’s promotion is “Tote Machine Payout” where vouchers for cash and prizes are randomly distributed to those customers using the "self-serve" terminals. Another World Harness Handicapping Contest qualifier with the play confined to ten Meadowlands races is scheduled for Saturday night. Finally, sign-ups for round three of the popular “Own A Horse” contest end on Saturday night so make your way over to the Customer Service desk and get in the game.

Should you care to make an evening of it, the multitude of options available for your dining pleasure are listed here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Meadowlands posts seven straight Three Million Dollar nights in a row

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (February 24, 2016) – With an unprecedented streak of seven straight nights posting all-sources handle of more than $3 million, the wagering momentum at the Meadowlands is undeniable. February handle shows a year-over-year increase of more than $2.5 million, an average of $518,862 per night and a per-race increase of $22,460 per race through the first three weekends of the month.

Over the weekend of February 19-20, the Meadowlands handled more money on its live races than the eight other American harness tracks that conducted live racing combined. The Meadowlands handled a total of $6.488 million over its two-day weekend of racing while the other tracks combined to handle $6.374 million.

“We are very proud of the tremendous roll that we are on here at the Meadowlands in terms of our live handle,” said Jason M. Settlemoir, CEO/GM of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. “The fact that the Meadowlands represented more than 50-percent of all American harness racing handle on Friday and Saturday shows how important a healthy Meadowlands is to the health of the entire industry. When you add that in addition to being the most popular nighttime signal in racing, we were the number five track in all of racing on Friday (behind only Gulfstream , Santa Anita, Aqueduct and Tampa Bay). That speaks volumes on how the entire wagering public views The Meadowlands.”

Large wagering pools, a low percentage of winning favorites, and oversized payoffs continue to be the key drivers of the robust betting numbers.

Betting favorites this month are winning at just 29 percent at the Meadowlands. Big fields have also contributed to robust pool sizes especially in the exacta and trifecta wagers. For example, last Saturday’s exacta pools averaged nearly $70,000 per race while the trifecta pools were more than $50,000 on average per race.

Stringing together a series of winners has proven to be a challenge for handicappers. But for those sharp enough to succeed, the payoffs have been oversized. In February, the 50-cent Pick Five’s average payoff is just under $30,000 while the two Pick 4 wagers have returned, on average, $3,393.

The Meadowlands has always been home to the sport’s top driver colony. While that is still the case, the makeup of the driver colony looks much different this year with David Miller taking the winter off, Ron Pierce mulling retirement, and several other regulars missing time for vacations. That has allowed several “young guns” to make their mark. Based on Universal Driver Ratings, four of the track’s top 10 drivers in February are under the age of 30, including Marcus Miller (.275), Scott Zeron (.265), Austin Siegelman (.218), and Joe Bongiorno (.196). Tim Tetrick leads all drivers in February with a UDRS of .280.

Live racing takes place Friday and Saturday nights at the Meadowlands with 14-race programs beginning at 6:35 p.m.

For more information, visit


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

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, February 24, 2016—Yonkers Raceway is about to become busier than usual, with 28 programs over a period of five weeks.

Beginning Friday night (Feb. 26), Yonkers hosts its usual schedule of Monday, Friday, and Saturday evenings (first post 7:10 PM and Tuesday (1 PM) matinees.

Throw in the return of Thursday nights (7:10 PM) in March and a trio of “French” Sunday matinees (Feb. 28, March 13 and 20), and you get the rather hectic workload.

Note that this Sunday‘s first post has been reset to 12:30 PM, while the March Sundays are, as of this writing, set to begin at 1:10 PM (this is subject to change).

Also be advised that Tuesday (March 1) is the closing date for nominations to the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Nomination forms are available at, in the nightly racing program as well as other harness-related sites. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Three Win Seats to 2017 NHC

Lucas VanZandt, of Berlin, CT, captured the February 20th National Handicapping Championship Qualifier at the Meadowlands Racetrack.  The $400 no-takeout contest attracted a field of 128 players representing seven different states.  All entry fees were added to the prize pool of $25,600.

 The Meadowlands NHC Qualifier required each contestant to make at least ten $20 minimum W/P/S or WPS bets on their choice of races from Gulfstream, Aqueduct, Fair Grounds and Oaklawn. 

VanZandt built his $200 bankroll into $4,416 earning him the $10,240 top cash prize and seat in the 2017 NHC Final in Las Vegas.  He captured the top spot in the last and final contest race from Fair Grounds, placing his entire bankroll of $920 to win on #11 Mr. Justright, who won at odds of nearly 4-1.

Also earning berths into the National Handicapping Championship Final were Paul Vinges of Basking Ridge, NJ and Bart Fooden of Point Lookout, NY. 

The top ten finishers along with contest prize payouts are below.

Prize Winnings
Basking Ridge
Point Lookout
S. Orange


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

YONKERS, NY, Monday, February 22, 2016—When wild speed drops anchor, strange things can happen. Such was the case Monday night, as a quartet of Yonkers Raceway longshots produced some nimble numbers.

The $12,500, third-race pace saw Rockstar Stride (Brian Sears) throw down an uncontrollable gauntlet, as in intervals of :26.3, :54.1 and 1:22.3.

Needless to say, hooves were getting heavy and the leader didn’t come close to closing the sale.

It was 35-1 shot I’m Blue Too (Brent Holland, $72.50) closing ranks from a loose three-hole, winning by a length in 1:53.1. The slow final quarter allowed 21-1 proposition Bubbie Boy (Dan Dube) to rally from last into second, while 7-1 Tink and Tiger (Matt Kakaley) skimmed the cones for third and 39-1 rank outsider Motor Shark (Jordan Stratton) finished fourth.

Lawgiver Hanover (George Brennan) was fifth as the 9-5 choice while chasing those insane fractions from the pocket, while Rockstar Stride faded to seventh.

The resulting exotics included a $2,465 exacta, $6,339 triple and $91,479 superfecta (base $2 payout, 10-cent ticket worth $4,573.95), local season highs for both the exacta and superfecta.  

Monday, February 22, 2016


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

YONKERS, NY, Monday, February 22, 2016—A pair of Yonkers Raceway schedule reminders, lest anyone forget.

Sunday matinees return this week (Feb. 28), with a “French”-centric card and an 11:55 AM first post. There are also Sunday matinees set for March 13 and 20, with first posts for those dates TBA.

Also, Thursday night live racing returns in March (starting with the 3rd), with the usual evening first post of 7:10 PM.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Seventh straight $3M handle at Big M; Rockeyed Optimist dominates

by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations

East Rutherford, N.J. -- The beat goes on at The Meadowlands, as a bustling on-track crowd and simulcast punters from across North America combined to wager $3,283,111 on Saturday (February 20) evening's 14-race program.  This marks the seventh consecutive program at The Meadowlands drawing at least $3 million in all-sources handle, with the streak having begun on January 29.

The evening's featured $20,000 upper-level pace saw Rockeyed Optimist ($3.40) brush aggressively to the lead on the backstretch, subsequently drawing off to a four-length win over his six rivals in 1:49.3.  Tim Tetrick settled the 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding just off pacesetters Sweet Beach (Anthony Napolitano) and Shooter's Dream (Corey Callahan) through a :27.2 initial quarter before taking charge with nine-sixteenths to go.  After clearing, Rockeyed Optimist found himself uncontested on the lead through middle splits of :55.3 and 1:23.  Off the corner, Tetrick urged Rockeyed Optimist to accelerate away, and the response was instant.  The odds-on favorite kicked on to a decisive win over All Week (John Campbell), who rallied up the pegs to narrowly take second at 41-1 in a photograph with Aslan (Andy McCarthy) and 2014 Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach (Yannick Gingras).

Steve Elliott trains Rockeyed Optimist, now a 16-time winner, for the partnership of Perretti, Berkner, the A & B Stable, and Battaglia.  For Tetrick, the win was one of two on the card.  Brett Miller led all drivers with a hat trick, while Joe Bongiorno, Corey Callahan, and Jim Marohn, Jr. joined Tetrick with driving doubles.

While one individual captured the seventh-race 20¢ Jackpot High 5 for $39,302, the final-race High 5 saw multiple winners.  Thus, $106,314 will carry into next Friday evening's final-race Jackpot High 5.

Earlier in the day, a trio of horseplayers punched their tickets to the 2017 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas, as Lucas Van Zandt (first place, $10,240 prize winnings), Paul Vinges (second, $5,120), and Bart Fooden (third, $2,560) took top honors in the NHC qualifying event at The Meadowlands.

Live racing returns at The Big M on Friday, February 26, with first post slated for 6:35 p.m. Eastern time.