Dave Offenberg and his harness racing trotter Whatnblazes enjoyed a two-hole journey until the top of the stretch and then rallied to a head victory in a time of 2:00.4 to win the $14,000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's Fall Trotting Series at Yonkers Raceway on December 19.
Had it been a wagering event Impressive, a winner of four preliminary legs would have undoubtedly been the hot favorite, but this time driver Dr. John Kokinos had trouble with the veteran trotter behind the gate and when Impressive went off stride as the gate was leaving it changed the whole completion of the race.
Wygant Prince and driver Pau Minore fired for the lead and although they had some road trouble on the first turn by the time they reached the quarter pole the had command. Minore wouldn't yield the lead so Bob Davis, with Bullseye Valley on the limb got fresh air the entire mile.
However, sitting smugly behind the leader with Whatnblazes Dave Offenberg was probably licking his chops while enjoying a picture trip.
Wygant Prince remained in front and the fresh air didn't slow the stubborn Bullseye Valley who kept any live trotters in the rear from moving up.
When the field rounded the final turn Wygant Prince and Bullseye Valley were still one-two but Offenberg sneaked out and Whatnblazes was the strong horse and he got up to collar Wygant Prince for a head victory. By mid-stretch Bullseye Valley finally got tired and faded to finish fourth as Dave Yarock and Nowlerland Nathan came from the far back to pick up the show dough.
"The race broke perfect for me. All I had to do was stay calm and wait for an opening," Offenberg said. "It finally came and nearly too late, but when I got out my horse dug in and although it was close I knew we beat Paul (Minore with Wygant Prince)to the finish line."
Offenberg,a businessman from Monroe Township, NJ, began amateur driving in 1998 and now has 43 career victories with six this year alone.
Earlier in the series, on November 21, Offenberg and Whatnblazes won a preliminary leg also at Yonkers.
The NAADA Three Track trotting Series began on October 17 with Monticello Raceway, Freehold Raceway and Yonkers Raceway participating. The drivers who earned the most points in the seven preliminary legs earned a berth in the $14,000 final.
"We are very appreciative of the support we receive from the management of Monticello, Yonkers and Freehold Raceways and we had another good series of competitive races," noted NAADA president Joe Faraldo. "In the very near future NAADA will again be making our annual donation to a very deserving and worthwhile charity."
by John Manzi for the North American Amateur Drivers Association