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Graduate Series Heads To Tioga

Published: June 8, 2018 1:47 pm ET

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The eyes of the harness racing world shift to Tioga Downs on Sunday afternoon when that New York venue hosts the third and last preliminary leg of the $1 million Graduate series for four-year-olds and the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for three-year-old colt pacers.

The Graduate drew a strong response at the entry box, resulting in three $50,000 divisions of pacers and a pair of trotting races.

Trotters are up first in Races 3 and 5, both sporting user-friendly six-horse fields.

Yes Mickey has been tabbed as the favourite in the third. The Muscle Hill gelding was third in the first Graduate leg, suffered traffic woes in the bulky 12-horse field at Mohawk in the second leg and gets Andy McCarthy to drive for trainer Ake Svanstedt and owner Melby Gard at Tioga.

Top Flight Angel, winner of the Yonkers Trot last season, is a slight morning line choice in division two. He was a good third in last week's leg and has drawn the advantageous rail position for Team Miller -- driver Andy and trainer Julie, who look after the son of Archangel for Legendary Standardbred Farm.

Ron Burke holds a very strong hand in the Graduate pacing events with a total of five going postward over the three divisions of seven horses each.

The current scourge of the open ranks, Filibuster Hanover kicks it off for the "Burke Brigade" in Race 7. He's won all four of his 2018 starts including the first Graduate leg at The Meadowlands. He will begin from post six with Yannick Gingras driving for Ron Burke and partners Joe DiScala, J&T Silva Stable and Weaver Bruscemi.

The second division (Race 9) includes a pair of contenders from the Burke barn but the favourite's role interestingly goes to a former Burke horse -- Miso Fast, who now races out of the Virgil Morgan Jr. barn. Despite a remarkably poor run at the post position draw thus far in 2018, Miso Fast has weathered that storm and captured his division of leg two at Mohawk. Tim Tetrick has the assignment from Post 5 on Sunday as the 9-5 choice for owner Winchester Baye Acres of Ohio.

The tenth race features the third and final Graduate division and is a very contentious one. Maroma Beach (Gingras) won a Graduate division last week for Burke, Highalator (David Miller) equaled the fastest mile in all of harness racing this season with a 1:48.1 score in a Meadowlands overnight for trainer / owner Jenny Bier and her partner Charlie Dombeck, and Donttellmeagain (Tetrick) looks for his second score in the series for trainer Jimmy King and Paton Racing Stable.

The NYSS split into four very contentious $40,000 divisions as Races 4, 6 & 8.

The beautiful new Tioga Downs hotel offers a resort feel that was not previously available as well as packages for a spa, stay, golf trifecta that has been designed especially for horsemen. Call (607) 699-3900 to make your reservation for a few days of bliss.

First race post time for the big Sunday card is 1:00 p.m.

(with files from Tioga)


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