Veteran amateur drivers, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff along with newcomer Robert "Big Bob" Kenney, each won their respective divisions in the Billings Harness Driving Series this past weekend.
Oldford scored a 1:57 triumph with Bold Strike in Midwest Region action at Scioto Downs on August 29 while Hechkoff and Kenney were victorious in the east at Plainridge Racecourse on September 1; Hechkoff with Tagmaster in 1:56.1 and Kenney with Rev Up The Spice in 1:59.3.
No stranger to the winners circle, visited that revered ground again when he scored his seventh seasonal triumph with his newly purchased Bold Strike.
"I bought him from June Du Russel, who over the years has generously supplied horses for the Billings Series. "This was the first time I sat behind him and I like him a lot," Oldford explained. "He's a pleasure to drive and (he) did everything I asked of him. "
Oldford and Bold strike left from the four hole as "Lawbook Larry" Farley hustled Margarita Man to the lead and they had two lengths on the field as the timer flashed :27.4. At that point Oldford had allowed Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg II to fall in second position in front of him with TK's Karma.
When the leaders passed the halfway point in :57.3 Oldford was out and going with Bold Strike and they were nose to nose with Margarita Man at the three quarters in 1:26.4. Even though Farley's mount regained command on the final turn it was short lived as Bold Strike rallied back to score a two-length triumph over Margarita man. TK's Karma took home the show dough.
"Now we're ready for the Billings at Delaware, Ohio, "Oldford added delightedly.
Bold Strike paid $7.40 for win which was Oldford's seventh of the season and 90th of his amateur driving career.
Meanwhile on Labor Day afternoon at the five-eighths mile oval in southern Massachusetts "Big Bob" Kenney scored his first lifetime pari-mutuel victory when he sat the pocket with Rev Up The Spice and then they trotted by 1-2 favorite CSI What's My Name and driver Dave "Steady As" Yarock in mid-stretch for a solid one length triumph to win the first of two Billings trots that day. Third place went to Catalyst driven by Mark "Wafefern" Schullstrom.
Needless to say Kenney, who has driven just 27 times since he joined the amateur ranks in 2000, was a happy man and his fellow competitors were among the first to congratulate him.
Bob and Linda Kenny co-own Rev Up The Spice who's trained by John Di Stefano. Sent off at odds of over 6-1 the 6 year old gelding paid $14.40 for win.
A second Billings division at Plainridge Racecourse was a laugher for driver when his Tagmaster romped to a 1:56.1 wire to wire five-length triumph over Permanent Joy, driven by Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivelin. Third place went to Coin Collector and driver Jimmy "It's all In The Family" Marshall IV.
Tagmaster, owned by Hechkoff's T.B.H Ventures Inc. and trained by James Hardy paid $9.60 for win.
It was Hechkoff's sixth seasonal triumph and 50 driving victory of his career. A two-time winner of the Harness Racing Museum's Amateur Driver of the Year Award his competitors will have to hurry to derail him from that honor again this season.
This coming weekend the Battling Billings Boys will head to the Canadian Maritimes for races at Charlottetown on Saturday, (Sept. 6) and at Summerside Raceway on Sunday.
by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series