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$100,000 Grand Circuit Challenge begins

The 2016 Grand Circuit Challenge is a harness racing contest that offers a $100,000 grand prize to any contestant who can successfully pick the winner in each of the contest’s 18 races, as well as consolation prizes and weekly prizes. If no player selects all correct winners a $5,000 first prize will be awarded to the player with the most correct picks, and a VIP Race Experience will be awarded as a second prize. The contest, which involves 10 different racetracks, will begin on Aug. 6, with the Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks and U.S. Pacing Championship from the Meadowlands and concludes at that same track with a Breeders Crown race on Oct. 29. For each of the 18 races, contestants will be provided with past performances courtesy of TrackMaster at no charge. In addition, Derick Giwner from Daily Racing Form will provide his expert handicapping analysis on each race prior to every contest and players from the Horseplayers Association of North America will also provide tips and handicapping. Contestants can sign up for the contest on the Harness Racing Fan Zone website by clicking here. To view the 2016 Grand Circuit Challenge video, click here. Following is the schedule for the $100,000 Grand Circuit Challenge: Aug. 6 - Hambletonian at the Meadowlands  Aug. 6 - Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands  Aug. 6 - U.S. Pacing Championship at the Meadowlands  Aug. 12 - Dan Patch at Hoosier Park  Aug. 20 - Battle of the Brandywine at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono  Aug. 26 – Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs  Sept. 3 - Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway  Sept. 3 - Messenger at Yonkers Raceway  Sept. 10 - Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs  Sept. 17 - Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Racetrack  Sept. 21 - Jugette at the Delaware County Fairgrounds  Sept. 22 - Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fairgrounds  Sept. 30 - Dayton Pacing Derby at Dayton Raceway  Oct. 9 – Tattersalls at Red Mile  Oct. 9 - Kentucky Futurity at Red Mile  Oct. 15 - International Trot at Yonkers Raceway  Oct. 28 - Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands  Oct. 29 - Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands

David Glasser

GSY Amateurs battle the Pros Saturday

East Rutherford, NJ - Bringing the curtain down on a wildly successful 2016 harness racing season, members of the GSY Amateur Driving Club will take on the pros in Saturday night's first race at The Meadowlands, titled The $12,000 GSY Pro Am.   The amateur drivers have played a large role in the live racing this season, providing races when asked and the quality of the competition has drawn interest from the horseplayers. Several of the GSY events handled well in excess of $200,000 with the zenith on March 20 when two GSY races handled more than $500,000 combined.   Saturday's race pits the top six dash winners from this year's races, John Calabrese and Jim Marshall IV (4 wins), Bob Hechkoff, David Glasser and Joe Lee (3 wins) and Hannah Miller (2 wins) against Hall of Fame drivers John Campbell and David Miller along with the sport's current top seasonal money winner Tim Tetrick.   The Pro Am is scheduled in concert with the "Night at The Meadowlands" owners seminar offered by The Meadowlands and the USTA on Saturday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m.   David Glasser is among the mentors available to the attending prospects and he will return after the race to relive his experience with the group. David's harness racing roots are deep as his parents, Evelyn and Arthur Glasser owned well over 200 horses that raced at tracks in the greater metropolitan area years ago.   The Meadowlands appreciates the efforts of the GSY Amateur Club, particularly Club President Dave Yarock who has worked tirelessly to provide competitive races for his members and the track.   You may learn more about Amateur Harness Driving and the GSY club in particular by visiting their website.   All proceeds from membership dues and driver's percentages from the races are donated to the Edward Weiner & Edward Yarock Scholarship. This entity provides scholarships to individuals pursuing higher education related to the equine and harness racing industries. The fund also provides grants to individuals in the harness racing community (their children and/or family members) in their pursuit of higher education. Since inception, through the end of 2015, the fund has provided over $150,000 in assistance.   The Meadowlands will also host the popular Brews, Blues & BBQ on Saturday night. Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations  

Hannelore W├╝rzinger was a highly successful amateur driver in Europe.

'The ride of a lifetime' for namesake

Columbus, OH --- He has submitted nearly several hundred names to Hanover Shoe Farms for consideration recognizing European horsemen and horsewomen and readily admits the vast majority of those have never been selected or the horses never quite panned out, but when it came to Hannelore Hanover, Dean Hoffman struck pay dirt when he suggested this then-youngster be named after quite possibly one of the best harness racing amateur female drivers of all-time. “When Dean called me and told me a horse was named after me I was honored and thrilled,” said Hannelore Würzinger. “I asked him if she would maybe race in the Hambletonian and he said he didn’t think so as she only made two starts in her career as a 2-year-old. Even though she won one, he did not think she would amount to much, but I always had faith she would be something special. He told me she would probably be a dud and not to get too excited, but I ended up being right. What a horse she is.” The 4-year-old daughter of Swan For All and the Dream Vacation mare High Sobriety was the recent winner of the Hambletonian Maturity and has won nine of 10 starts this year, with earnings of $460,105. Trained by Ron Burke, the mare is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Frank Baldachino. Hannelore Würzinger resides in Johanneskirchern, Germany, which is located outside of Munich, and commenced her harness racing career at the ripe old age of 17. She captured 470 amateur contests in the sulky during her days of competition and won such contests as the World Cup and the Europ Cup when she was at the controls. Unfortunately statistics are not available to truly demonstrate not only where Würzinger’s number of triumphs rank historically or internationally, but clearly this woman is not only a top pilot in respect to her gender, but anyone that sat behind a horse in amateur races across the globe. “My family has always been involved with trotting horses,” she said. “We owned them and bred them. At one time we had more than 50 horses. Since I have gotten older, I retired from driving because it just is not as easy as it used to be when I was young. We have also cut back on the number of horses we have and now have maybe 20. Harness racing is not as popular in Germany as it used to be or like it is in the United States, but my husband and I watch as much racing as we can. We watch all of Hannelore’s races and would love to come see her in America.” Würzinger has been stateside in her earlier years, In fact, she raced in Florida at Pompano Park where she finished second in an amateur competition that took place on the same timetable as the Breeders Crown that year. It was also where she met Hoffman and a certain other member of the Hall of Fame that was one of the highlights of her sojourn in the Sunshine State. “Do you know who this man is?” she asked after sending a picture of herself with John Campbell. “I could not believe such a famous horseman took the time to have his picture taken with me and recognize my accomplishments. I don’t think he realizes everyone around the world knows who he is and what he has done in racing. That occasion was just one of the many things we were so impressed with when we came to America. “I only finished second in that race in Florida, but we had such a wonderful time. My husband and I have always wanted to return, but we have not had the opportunity. Maybe Hannelore Hanover will provide us with that chance.” On any evening the world champion trots, Würzinger is glued to the Internet and has not missed any race Hannelore Hanover participates in. “I have watched her progress,” she said. “She only became stronger and stronger after her 2-year-old season. Dean called me and told me he did not think she would amount to much and he was sorry she would not become a top horse. Then last year when she was racing at Hoosier Park you could see with each start she was improving. She is a big, strong filly that kept trotting better with each race. “I was not surprised when she started winning, but for her to win like this and at this level...I cannot explain how fantastic it is to not only have an American horse named after me, but for her to be such an outstanding horse. I was beside myself watching her tie the world record and then beating males at the Meadowlands. “Every time she reaches new heights it makes me want to hop on a plane to America so I can be at her races in person. I can’t express enough how happy I am that Dean thought enough of my achievements to name a horse after me and then for her to be such a horse. There are no words to express it.” As the season progresses, Würzinger’s attention will remain focused on the mare that carries her name, but she harbors a secret hope that one day she will be in a position to do something much more than witness her compete online. “I told Dean I fervently hope she will come to the Elitlopp in Sweden next year,” she said. “My family and I not would not miss that for the world. We would certainly travel there and hopefully her connections would be kind enough to introduce her to us. We are her biggest fans and would just be overjoyed to root for her at a race like that. Can you imagine what kind of excitement that would bring to me? “I cannot thank Dean, the owners and Hanover Shoe Farms enough for not changing her name. This mare has been the ride of a lifetime and I am so lucky to have a horse like her named for me. Sometimes I still can’t believe this happened.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

Wendy Ross rides Floyd in Sweden during The Elitloppet

Wendy Ross made history at Stockholm

Floyd, not Pegasus, and his North Belle Vernon outrider made a once in a lifetime trek to Sweden. Even someone whose Swedish language ability barely extends beyond “smorgasbord” can recognize the word “elite” in Stockholm’s Elitloppet, one of the top harness racing races in the world. A Mon Valley equestrian who participated in the event made history in May when she became the first American outrider at Elitloppet. Racing animals can make unpredictable moves and an outrider is to be ready to intervene, if necessary, to rescue horses and humans. “In Sweden they don’t have them,” says outrider Wendy Ross, 32, of North Belle Vernon, after she returned from her first-ever trip to Scandinavia. Swedes may be unfamiliar with outriders, but Ross has long been aware of the Elitloppet’s series of eliminations that has been held annually at Stockholm’s Solvalla Racecourse since 1952. “I’d known about it my whole life,” Ross says, referring to it as Elitlopp, a nickname common in harness racing circles. Dave Palone, a regular at The Meadows Racetrack in Meadow Lands who was inducted into the harness racing Hall of Fame in 2010 and holds the record for the most wins of any driver worldwide, has raced at Elitloppet, a three-day event. “I never realized how big it was over there until I was there myself,” he says. “There were 50,000 to 60,000 fans at the Elitloppet, and it reminds me a lot of our Little Brown Jug (an annual race in Delaware, Ohio). They cheer you when you come out in the post parade and each horse has his own fan base, with flags and signs everywhere. It’s almost like a Super Bowl atmosphere. We could learn a lot from the way they promote the races over there.” Heats during the modern Elitloppet take place over three days, and for the invitational “it is really not the driver that is invited, it is the horse,” according to Palone. “The trainer chooses the driver. There are so many great European drivers that it is a real honor to be able to go over there and represent the United States. They invite one horse from the United States that is at the top of his game at the time of the Elitloppet.” Ross calls Elitloppet “the biggest race in the whole world as far as trotters go. I’m not really good with words, but it was a pretty big deal. There were 30,000 people there. It was epic. We were introduced at every race. All I could understand was when they said, ‘Wendy Ross and her horse, Floyd.’ They were very welcoming to us.” The welcome began in a big way. Floyd was one of six horses booked on a Boeing 747 for the trip. Ross did not see him board on the East Coast because her flight was on a Sunday night and Floyd’s plane departed Monday morning during the last full week of May. Ross and 4,000 other people turned out to watch the equines’ plane land in Sweden, and she walked him from a portable stall to a barn on the airport grounds. Because this year’s Elitloppet may have been the first time Swedes saw an outrider in action, Ross wanted to make sure she and Floyd made a good impression. Ross and horse were decked out in American patriotic colors. She paired bright blue trousers and a shirt with stars and stripes. Floyd’s hand-tailored back pad was trimmed in red and blue. “I make them different for every event I do or every track I’ve worked,” Ross says. A horse faces no language barrier, and once on the track, Floyd “took to it like he’s been there a million times,” Ross says. “He’s a pro. We’re basically just out there for safety. We had to grab a horse who was running away a little bit.” “It takes a really special ability,” Ross says of Floyd’s skills. “Only one in 40 horses could do this. It was very rare. An outrider’s horse has to be very athletic and be able to handle situations. He did it for 19 years.” According to the Standardbred Canada website, the winner of the Elitloppet final was, by a quarter-length, Nuncio, bred by Pennsylvania’s Russell Williams and owned by Stefan Melander’s Stall TZ. Nuncio “was a $7,000 purchase (who) has gone on to a tremendous international career.” The purse was $892,000. The return trip from Stockholm was bittersweet for Ross because, once back in the United States, she and Floyd, 23, parted ways. “He’s retiring to a really nice farm in New York with an 8-year-old girl who absolutely adores him,” Ross says. “I cried. When we said goodbye, it was pretty sad. I talked to him. I was there a half hour with him in the field. It was really hard. I’m going to go see him. We’ve been together for 10 years and we got to do some really cool things. It was the end, but it was fine. There aren’t too many words for the friendship and the partnership we had. There is no comparison.” Their trip abroad together was a once-in-a-lifetime event now that Floyd is officially retired. “He’s been with me the longest and he’s definitely my favorite horse that I’ll ever have, for sure,” Ross says. By Barbara Miller Reprinted with permission of the observer-reporter.com site

Batavia, NY---If you have a horse in a claiming race at Batavia Downs, as of Monday (July 25) you are eligible to compete for up to $20,000 if it accumulates enough points to make the harness racing final for its respective gait and class. That's because of the Batavia Downs Claiming Championship Series that is currently underway. The point-based competition will be broken down by gait and claiming price and the accrual of points will be on a monthly basis. There is no nomination or entry fee to participate and the event is being conducted under the rules and regulations of Batavia Downs Gaming, in conjunction with the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association. "If you predominantly race claimers, you may want to consider racing them at Batavia Downs" said Todd Haight, Director/GM of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "The Downs is offering a great earnings opportunity and with the short fields we have seen, you have a chance to accumulate solid points early in the process." Divisions will include $4,000, $5,000-$6,000 and $8,000-$10,000 claimers on the pace and $4,000-$5,000 and $7,500-$10,000 on the trot. Points will be awarded to the top-five finishers of each race and points will accrue monthly. The eight horses from each class category making the final will be comprised of the top three pointer earners in August, (July 25 - August 31) and September (September 1- 30) and the top two point earners in October, (October 1- 31). They will advance to the November 12 Claiming Championships Finals. Once a new month starts, all point earned towards the finals revert back to zero (with the exception of July, which will carry over into August). The $4,000 and $4,000-$5,000 categories will compete for $15,000 in the final and all other categories will vie for $20,000. Anyone interested in racing at Batavia Downs can contact our race secretary Joe Zambito, directly at 585-344-6161 for more information or to enter your horses. For complete rules log onto www.bataviadownsgaming.com and click the "Live Racing" tab and then the "Horsemen" tab. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

East Rutherford, NJ - Saturday night at The Meadowlands promises great harness racing and great food with Grand Circuit stakes for the top three-year-old trotters in their final preparation before next weeks' Hambletonian, the fastest sophomore pacers in the Garden State and Brews, Blues & BBQ to satisfy your culinary desires.   Saturday's racing features are a pair of ten filly $50,000 elimination races for next week's $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks featuring the finest trotting fillies in the land.   The first elimination is race six where Tom Hill's 2015 O'Brien award winning Caprice Hill makes her Meadowlands pari-mutuel debut against Ontario rival and Zweig Filly winner Flowers N Songs, Reynolds Memorial winner Side Bet Hanover and the Del Miller dead-heat duo of Unica Steed and Woman's Will. Tim Tetrick has the drive on Caprice for trainer Tony Alagna.   The second split (race seven) boasts a very accomplished group led by the 2015 Dan Patch award winner for the division, Broadway Donna. She faces a solid nine that includes multiple stakes winners Celebrity Eventsy, All The Time and Double Exposure. Dave Miller has driven Broadway Donna in each of her thirteen career starts, resulting in eleven wins for owner Jules Siegel's Fashion Farms and trainer Jim Campbell.   The supporting card includes the $150,000 Anthony Abbatiello for New Jersey bred sophomore pacing colts and its filly companion stake, the $85,000 Thomas D'Altrui Memorial.   Boston Red Rocks is still searching for his award winning form of last season. He finds a friendly spot in the Abbatiello, starting from the rail in race two, that may launch him back into the limelight for the trainer-driver team of Steve Elliott and Tim Tetrick. Peter Blood and Rick Berks share ownership of Boston Red Rocks.   The D'Altrui looks like a showcase for Blue Moon Stride. She's in the midst of a terrific season for trainer Mark Harder and owners Emelio and Maria Rosati with four wins including the NJSS final and the Mistletoe Shalee in a career best 1:49.2 for Andy McCarthy in her last. The D'Altrui is off the card at 6:40 p.m.   We'll also get a last look at presumptive Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank who will give his ten opponents a head start as he gets his final tune-up for the big race from the second tier in the $53,000 Scott Frost - W.N. Reynolds Memorial. Yannick Gingras is assigned with the task of navigating a course to the winner's circle for trainer Ron Burks and his partners in the eponymously named stable.   The Meadowlands will host the popular Brews, Blues & BBQ on Saturday night with several accomplished meat smokers and roasters competing for prizes and recognition. For the horseplayer, we offer a free look into the $50,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 wagers each week.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations          

WASHINGTON, PA, July 29, 2016 -- Saturday's harness racing card at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, which features the $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids, will offer four total-pool guarantees totaling $45,000, giving fans a chance to celebrate the 50th edition of the Adios in style. The special wagers include: $7,500-guaranteed early pick four, races 4-7; $20,000-guaranteed Adios pick four, races 9-12; $7,500-guaranteed Adios pick three, races 12-14; $10,000-guaranteed pick 5, races 13-17. The Adios final goes as race 12, with an approximate post time of 4 PM, and is included in two of the special wagers. Minimum wager for the Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 5 is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post Saturday is noon. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Pompano Beach, FL...July 28, 2016...Pompano Park begins its 2016-2017 harness racing season on October 2 and stall applications are now available on-line and are due by August 25, 2016.   The 126 night session will, once again, feature 15 lucrative "Late-Closing" events, including three with purses estimated to exceed $100,000, those being for Open Pacers, Open Trotters and Open Pacing Fillies and Mares.   Total purses for the late closing events are estimated at $680,000 with all events having two legs and a final.   Information on these late-closing events can be found on the isle website, including dates and nominating fees.   In addition to the late-closing events, Pompano Park will also offer "Pop-Up" events featuring a "quick" leg and a race-off featuring an enhanced purse.   These "Pop-Up" events are carded when there is an abundance of horses in certain overnight classes with the likelihood that multiple divisions will result. There are no nominating fees to these events.   For stall applications, late-closing information and other information, go to the following website: pompanopark.isleofcapricasinos.com. (Click on the "Racing" tab.)   by John Berry for Pompano Park    

HARRINGTON, Del. - Despite an early thunderstorm, harness racing fans were treated to a terrific night of racing Thursday at Harrington Raceway's annual Governor's Day program during the Delaware State Fair. After heavy downpours invaded Kent County just prior to the first race, mother nature cooperated for most of the rest of the evening as 13 races were contested for nearly $600,000 in total purses. The $40,000 Governor's Cup is always a popular event with local bragging rights at stake, as Foulk Stables' Sparky Mark ($5.60, Corey Callahan) prevailed narrowly in 1:53.0. The 9-year-old Astreos stallion held off second place finisher Leyden in a tight photo finish. Little Ben was third. Sparky Mark notched his 53rd career win for trainer Dylan Davis. Four $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) finals for 3-year-olds were among the highlights of the program. Kdk Standardbreds' Apple Bottom Jeans ($3.40, Montrell Teague) won the filly pacing final in 1:53 with an impressive front-end performance over Delle Donne and Use Your Noodle. Trained by Kevin Switzer, the Mr. Apples filly recorded her ninth win in 17 lifetime starts. James Craparotta and Berry Racing's Epic Smash ($9, Pat Berry) prevailed in 1:58 in the filly trotting final. Trained by Traci Berry, the Political Briefing filly never had an anxious moment in her five length win over Triple Bottom Line and Cicada's Song. Syl King Jr.'s Chipoffthewall ($2.80, Anthony Morgan) won the trotting colts and geldings final in 1:58.4 in front end fashion over Seafood Scrappy and Rojo. Trained by his owner, the Master Lavec gelding notched his 10th career win. Henry Faragalli III, Nanticoke Racing and Bay Pond Racing Stable's Next Success ($13.20, Jim Morand) captured the last DSBF final on the program with a wire-to-wire win from post position eight in 1:54 over Casino Bags Anso and John's Dream. The Veeza-gelding was trained by Les Givens and picked up his 10th career win and completed a sweep of the DSBF finals this year. In non-DSBF events for older horses, winners included Purrfect Bags ($5.80, Victor Kirby) in the Legislators Cup, Raritan Bay ($3.20, Bret Brittingham) in the President's Cup, and Wingus ($34.20, Roger Plante Jr.) in the Charles Murphy Jr., Memorial Trot in 1:57. Aside from Murphy Jr., there were Memorial races that honored Hal Belote, Thurman Adams, Jack Walls, John Frazer, Del and Dorothy Manges, Jim Case, Walter Messick and Sam Matthews. Live racing resumes at Harrington Raceway on August 15. Matthew Sparacino              

STICKNEY, IL - Thursday night at Hawthorne featured leg three action for the Illinois-bred harness racing three-year-old trotters. Male trotters were featured in the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Stakes while the females took to the track in the Beulah Dygert Memorial Stakes. Race six on the card was the third leg of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Trot. Favored was Hail Caesar. Moving to the early lead was Primed N Powerful through the opening quarter in :29.1. Into the turn, Fear took over for Todd Warren through the half in :57.4. On the turn, Primed N Powerful came back to challenge, assuming command through three quarters in 1:28.1. In the lane, Hail Caesar rolled up three wide and took over for Casey Leonard, drawing clear by four lengths on the wire. Longshot Wrightwood closed late to finish second while Primed N Powerful held third. The final time for the mile was 1:58.1 over a track listed as fast. Owned by H W Wright and trained by Mike Brink, Hail Caesar (Powerful Emotion) returned $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10. Wrightwood came back $18.20 and $6.20 while Primed N Powerful paid $3.20 to show. Race seven Thursday was the Beulah Dygert Memorial Stakes with a field of eleven set to face the starter. The favorite was Vengeful for driver Todd Warren. Leaving for the lead were multiple trotters as Vengeful had to work to make the lead through the opening quarter of :29.3. On the backstretch, longshot Shez A Devil Woman pushed Vengeful along through the half in :58.3. In the turn, Shez A Devil Woman put a head in front briefly but Vengeful fought back through three quarters in 1:28.2. In the stretch, Vengeful opened up a three length lead and remained clear at the wire, winning by five lengths. Surviver Di rallied to finish second while More Than Likely was third. Final time for the mile was 1:57.4. Vengeful (Powerful Emotion) is owned by Providence West, Inc. and trained by Kenny Collier. She returned $5.00, $3.00, and $2.40. Surviver Di came back $3.20 and $2.60 while More Than Likely paid $8.40 to show. Early Pick 5 Carryover Friday Thursday night at Hawthorne saw no winning tickets of five of five in the early pick five, leading to a carryover into the Friday card. The early pick five on Friday will have a carryover of $3,317. Jim Miller

Vernon, N.Y. -- Connie Hochstetler's Southern Girl ($5.90) battled resolutely to capture Thursday (July 28) evening's $5,500 featured Miracle Mile event for harness racing distaff pacers at Vernon Downs, digging deep once headed off the far turn en route to a 1:51.4 victory.   Fern Paquet, Jr. cleared to the lead with the 4-year-old Sportsmaster mare in the opening stages, out-sprinting Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) through a :27.2 first quarter before relaxing the pace just a bit up the backstretch. Southern Girl was forced to accelerate on the far turn by the first-over The Filly Princess (Truman Gale)--the two dueled through a :27.1 third quarter with The Filly Princess working a head in front on approach to the home straight. Southern Girl responded in kind, forcefully repelling The Filly Princess in upper stretch and holding clear of a stand-side push from Jinxy's Delight (John MacDonald) by 1-1/2 lengths. The Filly Princess faded to third.   Homer Hochstetler trains Southern Girl, who scored her fifth win on the season and the tenth of her career.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (July 29) evening, with the first of nine races due off at 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

The CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series began the second portion of this year's harness racing competition at Yonkers Raceway with two Eastern Region non-betting divisions on Thursday, July 28 with a pair of Joe's each emerging victorious. "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio copped his division with Windsong Illusion while "Yankee Joe" Lee took home first money in the second split. In the Eastern Region #1 Final the previous Thursday, also at Yonkers Raceway, the series point leader "Hurricane Hannah" Miller won that event and now becomes eligible for the Billings Gold Cup Final later this year at Harrah's Chester Downs. At Yonkers with "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio, subbing for Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford who was stranded in the Midwest, worked himself a good journey with Windsong Illusion, staying close to the leaders and then exploding in the stretch to trot by Shanghai Jack and "Hurricane Hannah" to score a one-length triumph in a 1:59.3 clocking. Bluebird Kidsqueen finished third for Dave "the Rave" Offenberg. Pennacchio was happy to get the mount behind Windsong Illusion and he was extremely gratified on his driving victory. "It was just one of those things, a picture perfect trip, and though it doesn't happen that often it's nice when you're on the winning end of it,"Pennacchio said after this triumph."I got away third and then ended-up with a two-hole Journey behind Hannah (with Shanghai Jack) and then came up the inside in the stretch and trotted by her." Windsong Illusion is owned by Oldford Racing, LLC and trained by Allen Cisco. It was the fourth seasonal triumph for Windsong Illusion and the 155th driving victory for Joe Pennacchio, a retired investment manager. A second non-wagering amateur split was copped Rocket Master, driven by "Yankee Joe" Lee, the New York Yankees' clubhouse manager who scored his fifth seasonal driving victory. Starting from post five Lee was content to allow his trotter to leave the gate slowly and they were in fifth position as Trotalot and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff showed the way by the first stanza in :28.4. Lee followed cover as the field headed for the half and remained in fifth pace although closer to the pacesetter. Rocket Master didn't shake lose until the final turn but when he did gained command at the top of the lane and then went on to an easy three length triumph over Cassa's Image driven by John "the Veterinarian" Kokinos. "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo took home the show dough with For You Almostfree. "We got away next to last," Lee admitted, "but we came third-over heading to the half. We were closing in on the leaders up the backside and on the final turn I had plenty of horse. We began passing horses and by mid-stretch we had it wrapped up and we coasted home an easy winner." It was the third seasonal victory for Rocket Master who's owned by Ronald Cohen and trained by Mike Forte. For Lee, who only gets a chance to drive when the New York Yankees are out of town, or not scheduled to play on Thursdays, it was his fifth seasonal driving victory and 15th of his amateur career. Next Billings action is slated for Saturday night, July 30 at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

Nono Lindy (Crazed) always seems to do his best work when he comes to Saratoga Casino Hotel and the Tony Mondi-trained trotter continued that trend on Thursday night when he prevailed in the evening's harness racing feature. Nono Lindy moved out to the early lead in the $9,950 feature for New York Sired trotters and after the race's odds-on favorite made a break was faced with a big challenge from longshot HZ Royalty (Jimmy Devaux) who came first over. The two NY breds battled it out throughout the second half of the mile but Nono Lindy would not be denied and stopped the timer in 1:58.2 for his second win of the season. Frank Coppola Jr. piloted the three year old trotter who returned $8.50 to win. HZ Royalty held strong for second while fellow longshot Luck Of Macrea (Wally Hennessey) came on for third. The exacta paid $154.50 while the race's triple came back $573 with the favorite out of it. Nono Lindy has recorded both of his 2016 victories at Saratoga and has a second place finish in his other start at the Spa this year. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with first post time set for 7:05pm. Mike Sardella

Scarborough, Maine (July 28, 2016) ... The Kevin Switzer roster remained on sizzle setting Thursday (7/28) as his state-bred band of harness racing youngsters continued it's dominating ways in Maine Sire Stakes action. The freshman colt pacing division was the latest to be swept by Switzer's rising tide as his stable convincingly grabbed top honors in both of the $9524 stakes splits on the twilight card as Bilt For Desire (pictured) broke his maiden on Thursday timed in a brisk 1:58.4 while his stable-mate, Prince Of The Forest, won his third consecutive sire stakes start - All with Kevin Switzer, Jr. in the sulky. What a great day for this amazing father and son team at the Downs! Scarborough Downs features live harness racing with twilight cards on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with post time at 4:30 PM (EDT). The Sunday matinees get underway at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

The seventh of ten legs in the North American Amateur Drivers Association's (NAADA) trotting series was presented on Thursday, July 28 at Monticello Raceway on a hot an steamy afternoon and when the events were finalized Bob Kenney and Bob Krivelin each emerged victorious in their respective harness racing splits. Kenney won with Come And Tell Pap in 2:00.3 while Krivelin eeked- out a victory with Permanent Joy in a 1:58.3 clocking. Kenney, a retired computer salesman from Belchertown, Massachusetts, took no prisoners and went wire to wire with Come And Tell Pap and scored an easy two- length triumph over Current Crisis and driver Bob Krivelin. It marked the third time that these pair pf Bob's finished one-two in the NAADA trots this season. When the gate sprung Kenney sent his charge to the lead from the pole position and they trotted through quarters of :29 and :59 rebuffing any and all challenges along the way. Still with a one-length lead as they passed the third stanza Come and Tell Me Pap scooted off to a three length lead as they headed for home and at the wire Kenny's trotter was two-lengths better than Krivelin's, Current Crisis. Zorgwijk Impact rallied from far back to garner the show dough for Joe Pennacchio. "He's a good horse," Kenney said referring to Come And Tell Pap after his driving victory. "He won over $40,000 last year but he's been sick this year. We nurtured him and now he's coming back strong. He was great today and it was almost like a training trip for him." Owned by Kenney's wife Linda and the Di Stefano and Son Stable and trained by John Di Stefano Come And Tell Pap won his first race this season and returned an $11.40 win mutuel. However, Krivelin made amends in the second NAADA trot when his Permanent Joy held on for a nose triumph over a persistent Aventure, who was driven by Tony Ciuffetelli. But after the judges reviewed the race they found a racing infraction by Ciufettelli and his horse was placed out of the money. Krivelin sent Permanent Joy to the front from the two-hole and they took charge in a :29 first quarter. From there Krivelin kept the pedal to the metal and his trotter showed the way through a :57.4 half. After they passed the third stanza in 1:27.3, Aventure, who was menacing Permanent Joy throughout the mile, staged a late charged but came up a nose short. And it was all for naught as Ciuffettelli's trotter was dis-qualified. Woody, driven by Joe Lee, was moved up to second place and I'm Fabulous was granted the show dough for driver Tony Verruso. "My horse races best when he's on top and although we went to some fast early fractions he was still strong enough to hold on for the win," Krivelin explained and then added that this was the only time that Permanent Joy has had a harness on him since his last race on July 22nd. "He lives out in a paddock at my farm and for exercise we tow him behind another horse when we jog," Krivelin added. "He (Permanent Joy) seems to really like this routine." Owned by Krivelin's Hero Stable and trained by Krivelin, Permanent Joy paid $11.60 for win. By John Manzi for NAADA

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The 2016 Grand Circuit Challenge is a harness racing contest that offers a $100,000 grand prize to any contestant who can successfully pick the winner in each of the contest’s 18 races, as well as consolation prizes and weekly prizes. If no player selects all correct winners a $5,000 first prize will be awarded to the player with the most correct picks, and a VIP Race Experience will be awarded as a second prize. The contest, which involves 10 different racetracks, will begin on Aug. 6, with the Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks and U.S. Pacing Championship from the Meadowlands and concludes at that same track with a Breeders Crown race on Oct. 29. For each of the 18 races, contestants will be provided with past performances courtesy of TrackMaster at no charge. In addition, Derick Giwner from Daily Racing Form will provide his expert handicapping analysis on each race prior to every contest and players from the Horseplayers Association of North America will also provide tips and handicapping. Contestants can sign up for the contest on the Harness Racing Fan Zone website by clicking here. To view the 2016 Grand Circuit Challenge video, click here. Following is the schedule for the $100,000 Grand Circuit Challenge: Aug. 6 - Hambletonian at the Meadowlands  Aug. 6 - Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands  Aug. 6 - U.S. Pacing Championship at the Meadowlands  Aug. 12 - Dan Patch at Hoosier Park  Aug. 20 - Battle of the Brandywine at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono  Aug. 26 – Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs  Sept. 3 - Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway  Sept. 3 - Messenger at Yonkers Raceway  Sept. 10 - Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs  Sept. 17 - Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Racetrack  Sept. 21 - Jugette at the Delaware County Fairgrounds  Sept. 22 - Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fairgrounds  Sept. 30 - Dayton Pacing Derby at Dayton Raceway  Oct. 9 – Tattersalls at Red Mile  Oct. 9 - Kentucky Futurity at Red Mile  Oct. 15 - International Trot at Yonkers Raceway  Oct. 28 - Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands  Oct. 29 - Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands
East Rutherford, NJ - Bringing the curtain down on a wildly successful 2016 harness racing season, members of the GSY Amateur Driving Club will take on the pros in Saturday night's first race at The Meadowlands, titled The $12,000 GSY Pro Am.   The amateur drivers have played a large role in the live racing this season, providing races when asked and the quality of the competition has drawn interest from the horseplayers. Several of the GSY events handled well in excess of $200,000 with the zenith on March 20 when two GSY races handled more than $500,000 combined.   Saturday's race pits the top six dash winners from this year's races, John Calabrese and Jim Marshall IV (4 wins), Bob Hechkoff, David Glasser and Joe Lee (3 wins) and Hannah Miller (2 wins) against Hall of Fame drivers John Campbell and David Miller along with the sport's current top seasonal money winner Tim Tetrick.   The Pro Am is scheduled in concert with the "Night at The Meadowlands" owners seminar offered by The Meadowlands and the USTA on Saturday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m.   David Glasser is among the mentors available to the attending prospects and he will return after the race to relive his experience with the group. David's harness racing roots are deep as his parents, Evelyn and Arthur Glasser owned well over 200 horses that raced at tracks in the greater metropolitan area years ago.   The Meadowlands appreciates the efforts of the GSY Amateur Club, particularly Club President Dave Yarock who has worked tirelessly to provide competitive races for his members and the track.   You may learn more about Amateur Harness Driving and the GSY club in particular by visiting their website.   All proceeds from membership dues and driver's percentages from the races are donated to the Edward Weiner & Edward Yarock Scholarship. This entity provides scholarships to individuals pursuing higher education related to the equine and harness racing industries. The fund also provides grants to individuals in the harness racing community (their children and/or family members) in their pursuit of higher education. Since inception, through the end of 2015, the fund has provided over $150,000 in assistance.   The Meadowlands will also host the popular Brews, Blues & BBQ on Saturday night. Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations  
Columbus, OH --- He has submitted nearly several hundred names to Hanover Shoe Farms for consideration recognizing European horsemen and horsewomen and readily admits the vast majority of those have never been selected or the horses never quite panned out, but when it came to Hannelore Hanover, Dean Hoffman struck pay dirt when he suggested this then-youngster be named after quite possibly one of the best harness racing amateur female drivers of all-time. “When Dean called me and told me a horse was named after me I was honored and thrilled,” said Hannelore Würzinger. “I asked him if she would maybe race in the Hambletonian and he said he didn’t think so as she only made two starts in her career as a 2-year-old. Even though she won one, he did not think she would amount to much, but I always had faith she would be something special. He told me she would probably be a dud and not to get too excited, but I ended up being right. What a horse she is.” The 4-year-old daughter of Swan For All and the Dream Vacation mare High Sobriety was the recent winner of the Hambletonian Maturity and has won nine of 10 starts this year, with earnings of $460,105. Trained by Ron Burke, the mare is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Frank Baldachino. Hannelore Würzinger resides in Johanneskirchern, Germany, which is located outside of Munich, and commenced her harness racing career at the ripe old age of 17. She captured 470 amateur contests in the sulky during her days of competition and won such contests as the World Cup and the Europ Cup when she was at the controls. Unfortunately statistics are not available to truly demonstrate not only where Würzinger’s number of triumphs rank historically or internationally, but clearly this woman is not only a top pilot in respect to her gender, but anyone that sat behind a horse in amateur races across the globe. “My family has always been involved with trotting horses,” she said. “We owned them and bred them. At one time we had more than 50 horses. Since I have gotten older, I retired from driving because it just is not as easy as it used to be when I was young. We have also cut back on the number of horses we have and now have maybe 20. Harness racing is not as popular in Germany as it used to be or like it is in the United States, but my husband and I watch as much racing as we can. We watch all of Hannelore’s races and would love to come see her in America.” Würzinger has been stateside in her earlier years, In fact, she raced in Florida at Pompano Park where she finished second in an amateur competition that took place on the same timetable as the Breeders Crown that year. It was also where she met Hoffman and a certain other member of the Hall of Fame that was one of the highlights of her sojourn in the Sunshine State. “Do you know who this man is?” she asked after sending a picture of herself with John Campbell. “I could not believe such a famous horseman took the time to have his picture taken with me and recognize my accomplishments. I don’t think he realizes everyone around the world knows who he is and what he has done in racing. That occasion was just one of the many things we were so impressed with when we came to America. “I only finished second in that race in Florida, but we had such a wonderful time. My husband and I have always wanted to return, but we have not had the opportunity. Maybe Hannelore Hanover will provide us with that chance.” On any evening the world champion trots, Würzinger is glued to the Internet and has not missed any race Hannelore Hanover participates in. “I have watched her progress,” she said. “She only became stronger and stronger after her 2-year-old season. Dean called me and told me he did not think she would amount to much and he was sorry she would not become a top horse. Then last year when she was racing at Hoosier Park you could see with each start she was improving. She is a big, strong filly that kept trotting better with each race. “I was not surprised when she started winning, but for her to win like this and at this level...I cannot explain how fantastic it is to not only have an American horse named after me, but for her to be such an outstanding horse. I was beside myself watching her tie the world record and then beating males at the Meadowlands. “Every time she reaches new heights it makes me want to hop on a plane to America so I can be at her races in person. I can’t express enough how happy I am that Dean thought enough of my achievements to name a horse after me and then for her to be such a horse. There are no words to express it.” As the season progresses, Würzinger’s attention will remain focused on the mare that carries her name, but she harbors a secret hope that one day she will be in a position to do something much more than witness her compete online. “I told Dean I fervently hope she will come to the Elitlopp in Sweden next year,” she said. “My family and I not would not miss that for the world. We would certainly travel there and hopefully her connections would be kind enough to introduce her to us. We are her biggest fans and would just be overjoyed to root for her at a race like that. Can you imagine what kind of excitement that would bring to me? “I cannot thank Dean, the owners and Hanover Shoe Farms enough for not changing her name. This mare has been the ride of a lifetime and I am so lucky to have a horse like her named for me. Sometimes I still can’t believe this happened.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor
Floyd, not Pegasus, and his North Belle Vernon outrider made a once in a lifetime trek to Sweden. Even someone whose Swedish language ability barely extends beyond “smorgasbord” can recognize the word “elite” in Stockholm’s Elitloppet, one of the top harness racing races in the world. A Mon Valley equestrian who participated in the event made history in May when she became the first American outrider at Elitloppet. Racing animals can make unpredictable moves and an outrider is to be ready to intervene, if necessary, to rescue horses and humans. “In Sweden they don’t have them,” says outrider Wendy Ross, 32, of North Belle Vernon, after she returned from her first-ever trip to Scandinavia. Swedes may be unfamiliar with outriders, but Ross has long been aware of the Elitloppet’s series of eliminations that has been held annually at Stockholm’s Solvalla Racecourse since 1952. “I’d known about it my whole life,” Ross says, referring to it as Elitlopp, a nickname common in harness racing circles. Dave Palone, a regular at The Meadows Racetrack in Meadow Lands who was inducted into the harness racing Hall of Fame in 2010 and holds the record for the most wins of any driver worldwide, has raced at Elitloppet, a three-day event. “I never realized how big it was over there until I was there myself,” he says. “There were 50,000 to 60,000 fans at the Elitloppet, and it reminds me a lot of our Little Brown Jug (an annual race in Delaware, Ohio). They cheer you when you come out in the post parade and each horse has his own fan base, with flags and signs everywhere. It’s almost like a Super Bowl atmosphere. We could learn a lot from the way they promote the races over there.” Heats during the modern Elitloppet take place over three days, and for the invitational “it is really not the driver that is invited, it is the horse,” according to Palone. “The trainer chooses the driver. There are so many great European drivers that it is a real honor to be able to go over there and represent the United States. They invite one horse from the United States that is at the top of his game at the time of the Elitloppet.” Ross calls Elitloppet “the biggest race in the whole world as far as trotters go. I’m not really good with words, but it was a pretty big deal. There were 30,000 people there. It was epic. We were introduced at every race. All I could understand was when they said, ‘Wendy Ross and her horse, Floyd.’ They were very welcoming to us.” The welcome began in a big way. Floyd was one of six horses booked on a Boeing 747 for the trip. Ross did not see him board on the East Coast because her flight was on a Sunday night and Floyd’s plane departed Monday morning during the last full week of May. Ross and 4,000 other people turned out to watch the equines’ plane land in Sweden, and she walked him from a portable stall to a barn on the airport grounds. Because this year’s Elitloppet may have been the first time Swedes saw an outrider in action, Ross wanted to make sure she and Floyd made a good impression. Ross and horse were decked out in American patriotic colors. She paired bright blue trousers and a shirt with stars and stripes. Floyd’s hand-tailored back pad was trimmed in red and blue. “I make them different for every event I do or every track I’ve worked,” Ross says. A horse faces no language barrier, and once on the track, Floyd “took to it like he’s been there a million times,” Ross says. “He’s a pro. We’re basically just out there for safety. We had to grab a horse who was running away a little bit.” “It takes a really special ability,” Ross says of Floyd’s skills. “Only one in 40 horses could do this. It was very rare. An outrider’s horse has to be very athletic and be able to handle situations. He did it for 19 years.” According to the Standardbred Canada website, the winner of the Elitloppet final was, by a quarter-length, Nuncio, bred by Pennsylvania’s Russell Williams and owned by Stefan Melander’s Stall TZ. Nuncio “was a $7,000 purchase (who) has gone on to a tremendous international career.” The purse was $892,000. The return trip from Stockholm was bittersweet for Ross because, once back in the United States, she and Floyd, 23, parted ways. “He’s retiring to a really nice farm in New York with an 8-year-old girl who absolutely adores him,” Ross says. “I cried. When we said goodbye, it was pretty sad. I talked to him. I was there a half hour with him in the field. It was really hard. I’m going to go see him. We’ve been together for 10 years and we got to do some really cool things. It was the end, but it was fine. There aren’t too many words for the friendship and the partnership we had. There is no comparison.” Their trip abroad together was a once-in-a-lifetime event now that Floyd is officially retired. “He’s been with me the longest and he’s definitely my favorite horse that I’ll ever have, for sure,” Ross says. By Barbara Miller Reprinted with permission of the observer-reporter.com site
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