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Roll With Joe and EBC finals at Tioga on Sunday
Friday, August 18, 2017 - from Tioga Downs

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Nichols, NY --- Tioga Downs will be the focus of the harness racing universe on the afternoon of Sunday (Aug. 20) featuring the $163,000 Roll With Joe FFA Grand Circuit stake and the $521,950 Empire Breeders Classic pacing finals.

While the older pacing ranks aren't what they were a year ago when Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit threw down virtually every week all across North America, what we do have in the Roll With Joe (race nine) is a very competitive, even field of nine accomplished veterans.

Shamballa (Scott Zeron) held his own against the best last year, including an upset of the aforementioned pair in a stirring 1:47.1 edition of last year’s US Pacing Championship and his second place finish in the fastest mile ever last fall at Red Mile. Shamballa has raced but a handful of times without success in 2017 and his last start was two months ago but he qualified back fast at Tioga last Friday. Rick Zeron trains and owns Shamballa with Cool Cat Racing, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant.

The top money winner in the race, both career-wise and seasonally, is the iron tough All Bets Off. Over the $2.5 million mark lifetime, he has faced and beaten the best in major stakes from age two right through his present campaign now at six and never goes a bad one. By the way, guess who was third in that fastest mile ever mentioned above? That's right, All Bets Off was. Matt Kakaley has been aboard for virtually every one of those $2.5 million for trainer Ron Burke and partners Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino and The Panhellenic Stable Corp.

Last year’s Roll With Joe winner Rockeyed Optomist (Jason Bartlett) returns to defend his title. He’s seeking his first big one of the season for trainer Steve Elliott and owners Anthony Perretti, Ginny Berkner, A&B Stable and Joe Bataglia.

Nine of the Empire State’s finest sophomore pacing colts will battle for $263,100 in a very contentious seventh race. The three elimination winners drew shoulder to shoulder from the rail out -- In A Single Bound (Billy Dobson), Heaven’s Gait (David Miller) and Art Scene (Scott Zeron). 

While the first two didn’t take much imagination to handicap as logical contenders in their respective eliminations, Art Scene did as the lightly raced son of American Ideal was winning for only the second time at odds of more than 15-1. Art Scene had been chasing NYSS types around the smaller ovals before he tipped his hand a bit with a sneaky good effort in the Cane Pace on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands. In last week’s win, he prevailed after a long uncovered move on division leader Funknwaffles to win by a neck. 

Tony Alagna trains Art Scene for his own interests as Alagna Racing along with partners Brittany Farms, In The Gym Partners and American Art Stable.

EBC fillies go for $257,850 in the eighth where elimination winners Tequila Monday (Brian Sears) and Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald) drew post one and two.

While one would have to consider them as the best fillies in the program this season and while Tequila Monday went a second faster in her elimination split, Clear Idea has prevailed in both of their most recent meetings. Last week’s win was the ninth of the year for Clear Idea and her seasonal earnings stand at $188,113 for trainer Blake MacIntosh who owns the American Ideal lass with Hutt Racing Stable.

A pair of $30,000 EBC consolation races for those who didn't quite make it to the final are also on the Sunday card.

The third of four preliminary legs of the Miss Versatility series (race five) for mature trotting gals rolls into Tioga and Swedish import Pasithea Face S is here to face five rivals following her impressive win in the Dr. John Steele Memorial at The Meadowlands. The Nichols faithful will get their chance to see this potential new star live and in person thanks to this series and owner Courant Inc. and trainer Jimmy Takter bringing her in for the race. Tim Tetrick is the driver.

The Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-olds were scheduled for Aug. 20 but the only event that had enough entries to race on the card is the $53,700 filly trot. The others were canceled.

More information and the complete list of entries may be found at the Tioga website.

Post time on Sunday is 1 p.m.


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