Joe Faraldo is no stranger to the harness racing winner's circle. But he has not been up close and personal to it in our country's largest state. Joe appeared in five races in the 2007 version of the Challenge, and did muster a second place finish, but the glitz of the circle eluded the NY-based barrister.
Tony Verruso is making his third appearance to the Golden State. He came away empty in his first trek in 2006, but in 2010, Tony cozied up to the circle of champions twice. Unfortunately, the plus-minus for these two native New Yorkers is a negative three.
It is rumored that neither has slept particularly well in the last five years with these losses weighing heavily on their minds. But 2012 has brought with it an opportunity to reverse the effects of this chronic insomnia.
On April 13 and 14, these two Italian-hope-to-be-stallions will hope to redeem the prowess of their talents as part of the 7th annual East-West Amateur Driving Challenge which will take place at Cal-Expo in Sacramento, California. They will be joined by teammates Steve Oldford and Peter Gerry.
Joe Faraldo drove his first race in 1980 at Goshen Historic Track and has made his mark on the harness industry both on and off the track. He has competed in races internationally at almost every Hippodrome in Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.
In 1986 he competed in an international competition in Taranto, Italy and was encouraged to, and did organize, the first World Cup of Amateur Racing ever conducted outside of Europe in 1988 then repeated the effort in 2008. Joe is one of original participants in the Billings amateur series and is the founder of the North American Amateur Drivers Association and an honorary member of many European amateur associations.
Also, the North American Amateur Drivers Association under his direction has hosted many international competitions and aided in others run by local amateur clubs Joe has encouraged over the years. He continues to serve as a Director of the USTA, Chairman of that group’s NYC District and served four years as Chairman of the Board.
Joe has also been the Chief Executive Officer of the Standardbred Owners Association of NY and has guided horsemen through years of contract negotiations and legislative battles to an end result that Yonkers Raceway and all of New York State has enjoyed a renaissance in Standardbred racing.
Teammate Anthony Verruso is the owner of a small embroidery shop in Queens, NY. He makes many of the garments worn by amateur and professional harness racing individuals... He acquired his love for the sport at 10 years old going to Roosevelt and Yonkers Raceways with his Mom and Dad on weekends.
Verruso is well known for driving numerous hours just for the thrill of a 2-minute race. He has been driving for 13 years and last year was named President of the CKG Billings Harness Drivers Association. He has won the Billings Gold Cup once and last year finished 1st in the Eastern Division.
When asked to comment, Tony said this about the upcoming race. “This is my third trip to Cal-Expo and I cannot tell you how well they treat us. I go all over the eastern U.S. to race in one or two races on the card, and often they are non-wagering races. Here, I am thrilled to race in eight races over the two nights. This is such a great concept and I sure hope that California racing continues so other Billings drivers can enjoy what I have over the last several years.” He went on to say, “just like Joe Willie promised back in ’69, I guarantee a win this year! Okay, maybe not guarantee, but my wife says if you come home without the trophy; prepare to be mucking out stalls for the next 12 months!”