This past weekend was the busiest thus far in this year's CKG Billings Harness Driving Series with a contest at Vernon Downs on Saturday night (June 14) and three events at Buffalo Raceway on Sunday (June 15). Scott "the Driving Doctor" Woogen was victorious at each venue and, Tony "the Capo" Verruso and, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford also drove winners.
After a great few days in Trot Town, USA working with the participants of the USTA Driving School in Goshen, Billings vice president Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and seven other Billings drivers headed to Vernon Downs for at contest there.
In that Billings trot Oldford sent his old warhorse to the lead from the five hole and they seemed to have it all in hand as the field headed for home. But in the deep stretch Doc Woogen, with I'm, rallied strong to beat Celtic Merchant to the wire and pick up all the marbles in the 1:57.4 mile. Third money went to Choke Hold driven by Vladimir "Butch" Melnichenko.
"I cut them mile and really thought it was all mine but Doc Woogen snuck up and snapped me at the wire to win it all," Old ford said. "Unfortunately for me, it was another good drive by Doc Woogen."
I'mis owned by Woogen and Brenda Messenger and trained by . He paid $5.30 for win.
The next night in Hamburg, (NY) in the second Billings event- a pace- Doc Woogen with 10-1 shot Launching Tonight caught everyone by surprise when he gunned the pacer to the lead from the four hole. They grabbed command on the first turn and despite a swift :28.2 quarter they kept right on going. By doing so it kept the challengers away and Launching Tonight cruised to a solid one length victory in a time of 1:58.3. Howie "the Horse" Gelfand came from fifth at the three-quarters to finish second and "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli finished third with Officer Candidate.
"It was certainly a fun weekend driving both days in the Billings." Doc Woogen related. "They were my first two races in the series this year and added to my pleasure was that I got a chance to visit my daughter who lives in Buffalo.
Launching Tonight paid $22.40 to win. He is owned and trained by Scott Bompczyk.
Series president,got the Billings started that evening when he guided pacer Aurora Borealus to a 1:59.4 victory.
They used the front-end route, and like Doc Woogen, they didn't back down the second quarter and kept the pedal to the metal and led the field by the halfway point in :58.1 When they reached the homestretch Aurora Borealus was getting a bit leg weary but the pacer had enough left to keep's Charm and driver Howie Gelfand at bay for a neck victory in 1:59.4. Skyway Shania and "Sir Christopher" Shambo took home the show dough.
"The mare I drove was coming off a two and a half year racing absence due to breeding. They told me she was rounding into form and I should just send her, which I did. She left like a rocket into that first turn and I didn't look back from there, Verruso said.
Aurora Borealus , owned by Fortunate One LLC paid $4.40 for win. She is trained by.
In the final Billings event, a trot,made amends by sending Sam Can to the lead and he took no chances about being caught from behind this time and finished a seven-length winner over Alabama Flash and driver "Bullet Bob" Davis. Chris Shambo was third in this one.
"I figured to leave a little but once I got on top my horse swelled -up like no tomorrow and grabbed leather so I took a deep seat," Oldford said. "The farther we went the more we opened daylight on the field and in the lane I had enough of a lead so not to get caught at the wire this time
"When I got back to the paddock the owner ( Perry Wilson) invited me back to drive him again. I guess he thought I did a good job."
Wilson owns and trains the Sam Can who paid $6.00 for win.
by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Drivers Club