This season in Pennsylvania, stakes racing has been exciting, delivering thrills, and some surprises! Both the harness and thoroughbred tracks featured non-stop action from the

East side of the state to the West.

With a chill still in the air and bit of snow still on the ground, Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania opened in February, and the Game of Claims series kicked off the action as soon as the starting gate rolled. Stakes action continued through early spring with Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series for three-year-olds.

C Is For Cookie was the only harness racing competitor in the Bobby Weiss Series who won all three of her preliminary races, and on May 1, the daughter of Betting Line won the $50,000 final for pacing fillies in 1:52.4 over a sloppy track for trainer Linda Toscano. In the final for trotting fillies, it was Kaddari, a Walner filly trained by Marcus Melander in 1:56.

I Was Tricked (Huntsville), trained by Nicholas DeVita, upset unbeaten All Class in the final for pacing colts and geldings, and the Bar Hopping gelding Snowman Hanover went gate to wire in 1:58 over a sloppy track for trainer Ray Schnittker.

Parx Racing featured an exciting stakes-filled April day with the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap for Pennsylvania breds. Twisted Ride (Great Notion) scored in a gutsy, front-running win in 1:25.81 for trainer Michael Moore, a third win in stakes action.

In the Unique Bella, three scratches left just four runners, and horses trained by Butch Reid ran first, second and third. It was Morning Matcha (Central Banker) by two lengths in 1:25.32. She was second in the 2022 Grade 1 Cotillion.

Memorial Day weekend brought barbecues, road trips, and stellar racing at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Super Stakes Sunday shines some extra sparkle on the Philadelphia track, and this year was extraordinary. A world record set by Ruthless Hanover in 1:46.3 in the

Hillexotic – James Witherite Photo

Joe Auger Memorial Invitational had everyone gasping. The 6 year old son of Somebeachsomewhere, trained by Thomas Cancelliere, is now the fastest pacer ever on a five-eighths mile track.

Fans never had a chance to catch their breath on that exciting race day as race after race delivered thrills. Southwind Gendry said ‘No way’ to Tattoo Artist in the stretch and set an all-age track record at Harrah’s Philadelphia in the $40,000 #Senditin Invitational. The son of Always B Miki is trained by Ron Burke.

It was a 19-1 upset in the $100,000 Betsy Ross with Max Contract (Huntsville) setting a track record-equaling 1:49 for the Julie and Andy Miller team. Hillexotic clocked 1:50.2, equaling the all-age track record, in the $100,000 Maxi Lee Memorial Invitational Trot for trainer Ron Burke.

The action shifted to Penn National Race Course and the outstanding Penn Mile on June 2.

Major Dude winning the Penn Mile – Averie Levanti Photo

The highlight of the stellar card was the $400,000 Penn Mile, and it delivered with Major Dude, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. over Behind Enemy Lines, ridden by Flavien Prat. In the Penn Oaks, several scratches left only five horses in the field. Malleymoo, quick out of the gate and in front early, prevailed, holding on for a win by a length over Metaphysical. She is trained by Jack Sisterton.

On July 29th, fans witnessed harness racing history as trainer Nancy Takter achieved an Adioo Volo-Adios double, with Cannibal (Sweet Lou-No More Losses) victorious in the $350,000 Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids, and Always B Naughty (Always B Miki-Ooh Shesa Badlands)in a 1 1/4 length win over Square Deal.

A Lightning Lane trip catapulted Cannibal to win the prestigious Adio

Cannibal Winning the Adios – Chris Gooden Photo

s by a head in 1:49 over Redwood Hanover. Seven Colors was third. Its My Show, setting a world record of 1:47.4 in the elimination one week prior, finished fourth.

August brought the brilliant sunshine and Sun Stakes Saturday to Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania. Honoring the great Sebastian K, the Invitational in his name was a 1:50.4 win by Southwind Tyrion, the son of Muscle Hill, trained/driven by Ake Svanstedt. He also trained and drove the winner of the $250,000 Delmonica Hanover Stake, Bond, to a 1:52.1 trip. She is the daughter of the great Southwind Frank.

It was a shocker in the $250,000 James M. Lynch Memorial, as Sylvia Hanover suffered her first defeat of the season, making a break around the final turn. It was Twin B Fresh, (Roll With Joe-Fresh Breeze) trained by Chris Ryder, in 1:49.4.

At 1-9 odds, Confederate (Sweet Lou-Geothermal) was the heavy favorite, and he dazzled with a 1:48.3 scorching win in the $300,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial. Trained by Brett Pelling, he added this win to his roster of victories, including the Meadowlands Pace and the Cane Pace.

In the $300,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Up Your Deo traveled the Pocono Pike for his fourth win this season. The son of Walner, trained and driven by the red-hot Ake Svanstedt, stopped the timer in 1:52.3. Svanstedt finished the day with four stakes wins.

Make that three years in a row for Allywag Hanover in the $100,000 Always B Miki Invitational! This year, the Brett Pelling-trained son of Captaintreacherous won in 1:48.4.

Throughout the season, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action shifted between Pocono Downs, the Meadows, and Harrah’s Philadelphia, and the finals for three-year-olds were held at Harrah’s Philadelphia on September 3. In the $252,000 colt and gelding pacers final, it was Seven Colors, trained by Andrew Harris, in 1:48.2, tying his own track record. In the trotting colts and gelding final, French Wine’s time of 1:51.4 was two-fifths of a second faster than Googoo Gaagaa’s 12 year standard.

Odds On Hail Mary delivered an eye-popping 1:48.2 mile in the $252,000 final for pacing fillies, breaking the world record for sophomore pacing fillies on a five-eighths-mile track, previously held by Kiss Me Onthebeach. Linda Toscano trains the talented filly. Railee Something, trained by Ron Burke, persevered for the 1:53 win in the final for trotting fillies.

September racing action was even hotter, with a week of tremendous thoroughbred action starting with the Presque Isle Masters and the Presque Isle Mile. Accomplished Girl

Accomplished Girl winning the Masters Stakes – Averie Levanti Photo

(Street Boss) led from gate to wire for all 6 1/2 furlongs on the Tapeta course to win the Grade 2, $300,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters for fillies and mares in 1:15.29 on September 18. She is trained by Saffie Joseph Jr.

In the $150,000 Presque Isle Mile, 5-year old Goodie Goomer, the longest price in the field, slipped up the rail for the win. The son of Verrazano is trained by John Bourke.

History was made at Parx Racing on September 23 as announcer Jessica Paquette became the first female to call a Grade I race, when the gate opened for the Cotillion at 5.22 p.m. She took a deep breath and confidently called the Pennsylvania Derby just under an hour later.

In the marquee event, and under a forceful ride by jockey Florent Geroux, Saudi Crown went to the front and held off the other speed horses. Trained by Brad Cox, the colt came into the PA Derby off two photo finish losses, and was triumphant in this conquest.

In the Cotillion, Ceiling Crusher, trained by Doug O’Neill, held off a late charge from Pretty Mischievous to pick up the win. The California-bred filly picked up her 6th win in 7 starts.

In the $150,000 Imply Stakes for Pennsylvania bred 2-year-old fillies, Aoife’s Magic, a daughter of Smarty Jones, won easily by 4 1/4 lengths. She had won just 12 days before and her trainer, David Dotolo entered her in the stake.


Indiana bred Nobody Listens celebrated a win in the Grade 3 Turf Monster for trainer Tim Eggleston. The gelding passed away the next day in a heartbreaking accident.

In the $200,000 Grade 3 Greenwood Cup, Next dominated with the win going 1 mile and 1/2 for trainer William Cowans. One More Kelly won the $100,000 Plum Pretty Stakes for PA breds going 1 Mile and 70 yards for trainer Jamie Ness.

PA bred Nimitz Class dominated with a 1 3/4 length win over heavy favorite Gunite in the $300,000 Parx Dirt Mile. The Pennsylvania-bred colt is by Munnings-Five Diamonds by Flatter.  Trained by Bruce Kravets, that win was his fifth of the year and third at Parx.

Pennsylvania Fair harness racing kicked off in June at the Butler Fair, and wrapped up in September at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds. The finals were held on October 9th at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania.

With a total of eight Fair Finals on the card, driver Andy Miller and trainer Cody Schadel teamed up to win three. Showboat Hanover (Betting Line) won the 2-year-old pacing division In 1:55, matching the record winning time for her age group.

Quarantina (International Moni) in the 2-year-old trotting group and Ante Up Hanover (Betting Line) added wins to the Miller/Schadel team.

Roger Hammer’s Battin Athousand (Fordham Road) picked up the win in 1:57.2 in the 2-year-old colts and geldings trotting division, and his Little Town Road (Fordham Road) scored in the 2-year-old trotting fillies final.

It was a 25-1 shocker in the 3-year-old colts and geldings pacing final, with Watch U R Back (Pacific Renegade) in a slick move up the Pocono Pike in 1:54.2. Trainer Mitchell York’s Little Lady J (A Rocknroll Dance) won in the 3-year-old pacing fillies group, and Thaler Hanover picked up the remaining Fair Final for trainer Gary Johnston in the 2-year-old colts and geldings trot final in 1:58:4.

All six Pennsylvania tracks are planning an exciting stakes-filled 2024, with the racing and stakes schedules to be released at the beginning of the new year. Expect more thrills at your favorite track next season!




PA Harness Week/James Witherite/Hoof Beats Magazine

Jim Beviglia

Jerry Connors

Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown

Steve Wolf/Harnesslink

Evan Pattak – Meadows Standardbred Owners


Dawnelle Mock – @dawnellemock

Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association

Harness Racing Update

Let’s Go Racing Parx

Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association – @PTHA17

Danielle Gibson – @DanielleGibso15

Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association – @PA_PHBA

Presque Isle Downs –


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