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The granddaddy of all amateur racing organizations, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series which came to fruition nearly four decades ago, has been the inspiration for all the amateur clubs that have since evolved. And there are many, much to the delight of the participants as well of the harness racing secretaries. When there are events at two different venues on the same evening, one can begin to see the positive impact that amateur racing is having on the industry. Earlier tonight ( November 11), a Billings Trot was slated at two different racetracks; one for the Midwest region members at Dayton Raceway in Ohio and another at Pocono Downs for members of the series' eastern region. "Yankee Joe" Lee was victorious with Soul Train in a 1:57.4 clocking at Pocono Downs while Ned "the Insurance agent' Hodkinson won the trot at Dayton Raceway with his own Mutinyonthebounty in a 1:58.4 clocking. At Wilkes Barre, Pa. Joe Lee went to post in an amateur race for the 79th time thus far this year and the New York Yankee's assistant locker room manager notched his 14th seasonal triumph. In his contest Lee got away softly from the pole position then picked up cover behind "Buffalo Bob" Davis with Dizzy Rizzy as the field headed to the halfway point. But as they neared the third stanza Lee wheeled Soul Train three-deep and they marched forward and at the top of the lane they were third. When the tight field headed for paydirt Soul Train began to ease away from his competition and went on to a 1-1/4 length triumph. Second place in that $12,000 contest went to Aventure driven by "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli, Dizzy Rizzy hung on for the show dough. The winner, owned by Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable and Santo Farina , is trained by Al Annunziata. Sent off as the odds-on favorite Soil Train paid $3.00. Meanwhile, at Dayton Raceway in Ohio hot-handed Ned Hodkinson added to his Midwest region point lead when he reined Mutinyonthebounty to a wire to wire triumph. But victory didn't come easy with his trotter being challenged the entire mile by Keep the Cash (Patricia "the Write Stuff" Miller) and Fairground Drama (Rodney "Hot Rod" Bebeck). Despite the challenges throughout, from the parked horses, Hodkinson managed to get away with fairly even fractions. When the bunched field headed for home Mutinyonthebounty hung tough and managed to rebuff Fairground Drama who was on his throat-latch throughout the final quarter. Kelly "Sky" Walker finished third with Stemilt Touch. "He's such a nice horse,"Hodkinson said referring to Mutinyonthebounty."He's so handy and well-mannered and he loves to race." Hodkinson owns and trains the winner who returned a $10.40 win mutuel. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Monticello, NY - Ever since the resurgence of amateur harness racing in the early 1980's Monticello Raceway has been in the forefront of that movement. On the Thursday afternoon card of October 26th three events--two NAADA trots and one trot for Billings drivers were carded and when the races were declared official , Alan Schwartz, Jennifer Lappe and Bobby Krivelin each were victorious in their respective splits. Schwartz won the first NAADA Trot with Linda Marie in 2:00 while Lappe copped the second division with Fox Valley Steffen in a 2:00.3 clocking. Krivelin's triumph came in a Billings Trot when he guided Permanent Joy home first in 1.59. In his NAADA split Schwartz, driving Linda Marie for the first time, sent the 6-year-old Crazed mare to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded although it wasn't his pre-race plan. "I thought I'd follow Peter's (Kleinhans) horse (Toss Cartwright-the betting favorite from the rail) and sit in behind him but my mare got away quickly so I sent her to the lead and it was a good thing I did because Toss Cartwright made a break on the first turn," Schwartz related. Schwartz and his trotting mare stepped by the first quarter in a swift :28.4 and with the next stanzas well rated no others took a shot at the leader and she cruised though fractions of :31.1 and :30.3 before kicking in a :29.3 final quarter en route to a 1-1/2-length triumph over Tony Verruso's Flirting Duesy and Bobby Krivelin's Connie Keeper. Owned and trained by Jim Doherty, Jr Linda Marie paid $6.50 for win. The second NAADA split was a six-horse field with two women among the drivers-, and one, Jennifer Lappe, showed she knows her way around the racetrack when she kept her charge, Fox Valley Steffen close to the pace and then maneuvered him on the final turn so she had a clear passage to the wire. "I was content to follow the leaders as Paul (Minore) set steady fractions with Wygant Prince and on the final turn I looked for the short path to the wire and used the passing lane to my advantage. In the deep stretch we trotted by Ladys Big Stormont (Alan Schwartz ) and Wygant Prince (Paul Minore) and we were home free." Ms Lappe owns and trains Fox Valley Steffen who as the longest shot on the board paid $23.20. The final amateur race was leg of America's premier traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Series. In that contest seven trotters lined-up behind the starting gate and when the wings folded Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin and Permanent Joy took charge. After starting from the five hole Krivelin sent his veteran 9-year-old trotter to the front and literally toyed with the opposition and played catch me if you can. But no one could as he and his Trot For Joy gelding cruised through fractions of :29;:58.3 and 1:28.3 before finishing a solid two lengths in front of Tim Lizzie and driver "Yankee Joe" Lee for a two-length victory in 1:59 "He's super on the lead," Krivelin said upon his return to the paddock as he handed the lines to the horse's groom. "He's (Permanent Joy) is a nice old horse and a real pleasure to drive." Owned by the Hero Stables and trained by Krivelin, Permanent Joy won for the fifth time this season and 35th time in his career. He returned a $7.00 mutuel. by John Manzi for NAADA & The Billings Series  

A pair of David's were victorious in short field East Region Billings trots at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday night, October 19. The first split saw David "Poppa" Glasser guide Celebrity Stimulus to a gate to wire triumph in 1:59.4 while Dave "Steady As" Yarock used a similar route in which to get he and his trotter's picture taken in the harness racing winner circle. These were the 9th and 10th amateur contests since the week began on Sunday, Oct.15th and it's no wonder that the scheduled Billings trot at Dayton didn't fill on Saturday. But tonight in the greater New York City area the beat went on.at Yonkers Raceway. In his split Glasser sent his own Celebrity Stimulus to the lead from the three hole and with no threatening challenges Glasser got his charge by the first quarter in a soft :30.1. When the trailers settled in behind the leader Celebrity Stimulus had things his own way and raced on the lead all the way to the wire and finished 1-1/4 length ahead of Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff's War Cry Hall. Third place went to Wygant Prince, driven by "Coach Paul" Minore. The winner, a 7-year-old Cantab Hall gelding is owned by Glasser Racing LLC and trained by Homer Hockstetler. For Glasser it marked his sixth seasonal driving triumph and 38th of his amateur racing career. Not to be outdone, Dave Yarock also sent his trotter, Landonfitz, to the front and they never ensued a challenge even as Yarock stole soft fractions. Landonfitz led three others by the quarter in :31 and half in 1:03 and then picked up the pace and trotted the next furlong in 29.3 with "Yankee Joe" Lee in hot pursuit with Flirting Duezy. After passing the third stanza in 1:32.2 a :29.2 final quarter kept all challengers at bay. Flirting Duezy held on for second while Tony "the Capo" Verruso garnered the show dough with Sam's Honeybee in the 2:02.1. Landonfitz , a 7-year old altered son of Jailhouse Jesse, is owned by Yarock and trained by Shawn Christner. For Yarock it marked his 5th seasonal driving victory and 61st of his career. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

CAMPBELLEVILLE, ONT -- It was the last day of the lengthy harness racing race meet at Mohawk Racetrack and among the 10 races offered on the Monday, Oct 16th card were two events for Billings amateur drivers. And once again they were well received. "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello was victorious in the first trot with Taurus du Parc in 2:00 while the second went to Lets Leavem, driven by Shane "The Freelton Flash" Arsenault in a 1:57 clocking. Both winners were mostly dismissed by the betting public. In his contest Zuccarello gunned his trotter to the lead from the six-hole and they had command as they passed the first stanza in :28.4. with Dave "Modern Legend" Drew in hot pursuit with Swan For Dee. The two leaders raced one-two until the top of the stretch when they were joined by The Power Of Many and driver David "Poppa Glasser When the field headed for home a real horse race ensued as the three aforementioned trotters raced side by side all the way to the wire with 7-1 shot Taurus du Parc finishing a head in front of Swan For Dee. A head farther back in third place was The Power Of Many. For Zuccarello it marked his first winning drive of the 2017 season and the 12th of his amateur driving career. Lets Leavem is owned by Fellows, Knechtel, and Szabo of Bradford, Ont. and trained by Robert Fellows , He returned a $17.80 win mutuel. Pay-offs to those with winning tickets were even bigger in the second Billings split when Shane Arsenault swept the field around the final turn with Lets Leavem and then rallied to an easy 2-1/2 length triumph over Justasmalltowngirl in rein to Daniel "In The Lion's Den" St Pierre. Third place went to Bobby "I'm Back" Ciavardini. Disregarded by the betting public Lets Leavem paid $33.10; $11.10 and $6.40 across the board. The veteran Angus Hall gelding is owned by Sarah Town and trained by Arsenault. It was the second winning drive of the season for Arsenault and 129th of his career, as well as his 654th victory as a trainer. Next Billings action will be at Yonkers Raceway on October 19th. by John Manzi for the Billings Amateur Series

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, employed plenty of action on Sunday, October 15 when the granddaddy of all amateur racing organizations had contests at two different racetracks, one in the USA at Northfield Park in greater Cleveland, Ohio and the other in Canada at Flamboro Downs in Dundas, Ont. "Tiny Tim" Miller won the Midwest region Northfield trot with Song In My Heart while "Gentle Ben" Hollingsworth copped the Canadian event- a pace-behind with Michelle's Deuce over Flamboro's double oval. In his event Miller took no prisoners and sent his trotter down the road from the four-hole and made every pole a winning one en route to a solid 1-1/2 length triumph over Kelly "Sky" Walker's Stemilt Touch. Patricia "the Write Stuff" Miller took home the show dough with 45-1 shot, Keep The Cash. The winner, owned by Bert Hershberger and trained by JD Wengerd, was sent off the 6-5 favorite and returned a $4.40 win mutuel. For hot-handed Miller it was his fifth driving victory in just 10 seasonal starts. In the Canadian Billings pace later Sunday evening "Gentle Ben" had the prohibitive favorite Michelle's Deuce and drove like one is supposed to when deemed the best in the filed and rushed the 8-year-old Armbro Duece mare to the lead and remained unchallenged throughout coasting to an easy 1:59.1 triumph to notch the mare's 6th seasonal victory. The battle for second money saw Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and No Teasing Me out-foot Thrift Shop with David "Poppa" Glasser to the wire to garner the place dough. Owned by the LINK Stable and trained by Corey Johnson, Michelle's Deuce paid $3.50 for win. It was Hollingsworth's first seasonal driving victory(from just 4 starts) and 21st of his limited career. Billings action continues on Monday night with two trots on the card at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Lexington, Ky-- Patience my boy is what Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford was probably telling himself as he sat calmly in the catbirds seat with Gonna Fly as "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and Pine Tab, slugged it out with Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel's Tinder in the Billings trot at the Red Mile on Thursday evening, September 28. And after early fractions of :27.4 and :55.2 the leaders were all in. The speed duel up front was what the doctor ordered for Oldford as his charge enjoyed cover all the way to the top of the stretch before they rallied between horses to take command of the nine-horse as they headed for paydirt. Then in the deep stretch Oldford and his trotter went on to a solid 1:55:4 victory over "Hot Rod" Debeck's Fairground Drama as the race leaders faded. Third place went to Moon In My Shine with Julie "the former Hawkeye"Miller subbing from Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg who was still in Florida working to help locals damaged by the recent hurricane . "Allen Sisco,( the horse's trainer) shipped him all the way from Yonkers for the race tonight and though we've (Oldford Racing) owned him for nearly a year this is the first time that I sat behind him," Oldford said referring to Gonna Fly. "We sure got lucky with Hannah and Gregg going at it and they carried us to the homestretch where I found a seam between horses and when it opened I pulled the (ear)plugs and Gonna Fly exploded. I mean he really took off and we were easy winners." Sent off as the favorite in the race from the seven-hole Gonna Fly returned a $4.60 mutuel As aforementioned , Gonna Fly is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Allen Sisco. For Steve Oldford, a former National Amateur Driver of the Year, it was his 12th seasonal driving victory and the 128th of his amateur career. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Batavia, NY--Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to Batavia Downs on Friday, September 22 for a pair of races--one on the trot, the other on the pace-- both for members in the series eastern region. These events come on the heels of a Billings trot at Delaware Ohio on September 17 which was won by two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller. But tonight Ms. Miller wasn't among the drivers participating. However, talent flourished just the same when "Yankee Joe" Lee won the trot in 2:00.2 with Signal Hill OK while in the pacing split "Buffalo Bob" Davis hustled Donegal Jim to splendid 1:56.3 victory. Not surprising, both victories resulted from gate to wire performances. In his split "Yankee Joe" gunned Signal Hill OK to the lead from the four-hole and led the competition by the first stanza in :29.2. Then keeping the pedal to the metal Lee, the New York Yankee assistant locker room manager, kept the trailers in line as he urged his trotter through fractions of :31 and .30.4 which deterred any early challenges. "Buffalo Bob" was the first to move but that encounter didn't come until the field headed for the three quarters where Davis' Christina Victory rallied alongside Signal Hill OK as the timer flashed 1:30.4. Lee's trotter pulled away when they headed for paydirt but "Dandy Don" Hoover threatened with Grecale AS. However, some extra steps slowed Grecale AS's challenge and Signal Hill OK opened a three length lead all the way to the wire. Hoover's trotter recovered and finished second with Davis' charge garnering the show dough. The winner, owned by Marissa Russo,notched his third consecutive victory and returned a $6.70 mutuel. Marissa's hubby, Dave Russo, is the horse's trainer. Noticing that front end speed was holding up Bob Davis sent odds-on favorite Donegal Jim to the lead in the Billings pacing division and despite swift early fractions the front-end route proved advantageous. After grabbing command early Davis had to rebuff a challenge by Ontheclock Hanover and driver "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli who tried a quarter pole move but Davis wouldn't yield and the two led the field by the half in :57.2. Up the backside as Ciuffettelli's pacer was tiring and "Yankee Joe" Lee moved Canthelpbutwin three-deep around him but they were still two lengths off the lead. However, Donegal Jim was undeterred and opened up three lengths when he headed for home. At the wire it was all Donegal Jim with Canthelpbutwin still three lengths behind in second place. Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso finished third with Ty's A Big Star. The winner, a 9-year-old Modern Art gelding is owned by Teresa Roland and trained by JD Perrin. He paid $3.30 for win. Tomorrow (Saturday) the Billings Series moves on to Vernon Downs for a trotting contest   By John Manzi

Batavia, NY---The 36th season of C. K. G. Billings amateur harness racing rolls into Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 22) with two divisions (one trot and one pace) going for $5,000 each. Batavia is the 42nd stop of the combined 2017 season for the Billings, which has only 17 more to go before they convene for the finals at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday (Nov. 26) and vie for the Delvin Miller Gold and Silver Cup championships and $40,000 in purses. The series that began in the early 1980's is conducted by the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association and is considered the Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing. And as a result of their charitable efforts, tens of thousands of dollars are raised each year through amateur driving for the benefit of each club's charity. The C.K.G. Billings contributes its driver's percentage to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY. Participating drivers support these charities by directing their 5% driver's commissions for all Billings Races to either the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame or to the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association for further contribution to the Harness Racing Museum or to a local charity. Drivers who will be appearing at the downs to compete on Friday include Joe Faraldo, Joe Lee and Bob Davis who will all drive in both events, along with Don Hoover, Robert Ciavardini, David Glasser, Anthony Ciuffetelli, Anthony Verruso, David Drew and Matt Zuccarello who will all have one drive apiece. The two events are carded as race one and four and post time for the first race in at 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

She's only been harness racing full time for the past four years but one thing is for sure about "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and that is she doesn't need to take her racetrack around with her because everywhere she goes-and even in Europe, she wins. On Sunday afternoon, September 17 the talented miss guided Pine Tab to an easy 1:59.4 victory over seven others in a Billings Trot at the home of the Little Brown Jug, Delaware, Ohio. Sent off as the 7-5 favorite Hannah sent Pine Tab to the lead and they had command on the first turn as her competitors filed in along the pylons behind her which allowed the talented miss to get away with a soft :30 first quarter. Bob "Lumberman" Troyer and Oneeyedmomma were the first to move followed closely by Kelly "Sky" Walker and Rush N Supreme as the field headed to the halfway point. However, Ms Miller got them by that stanza still a length in front as the timer flashed 1:01. When Pine Tab straightened in the backstretch he had company in the presence of Oneeyedmomma. But that challenge faded as Miller's charge rounded the final turn. And when they headed for home Pine Tab opened daylight on the field as Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel and Kween Mightus took over second place. In the deep stretch it was all Pine Tab who went on to a three-length 1:59.4 victory over Keidel's trotter. Rush N Supreme out-footed Oneeyedmomma to garner the show dough. Owned by the JL Benson Stable and trained by Nick Surick Pine Tab paid $4.40 for win . And if that wasn't enough "Hurricane Hannah" won the Tim Fouts Memorial Driving Championship with odds-on favorite Banging The Drum in a swift 1:57.1 a little later on the Sunday card. It was her 21st amateur victory thus far this year. Ned Hodkinson's Badger Quinn finished second with third place going to Picasso Forever handled by Kelly Walker. Banging The Drum is owned by Robert Brooks and trained by Jimmy Lupton. He paid $3.40 for win. A very happy Hannah Miller was contacted after her victory in the Fouts Memorial and she said. "This was my second time driving here at Delaware and I couldn't be any more happy with how the day went! "Pine Tab was able to leave out of the gate well here and get the lead pretty easy and he was in hand at the wire. That was my first win here at the Delaware County Fair and I had another win in the Tim Fouts Memorial later on the card. I'll drive here again on Thursday." An annual event, the Fouts Memorial pits drivers---one from each--who are members of the industry's various amateur clubs By John Manzi for the Billings Series

Northfield, Ohio-- On a night that the participating amateur drivers probably would rather have sat it out because of the inclement weather still eight harness racing veterans from the Midwest region of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series ventured to Northfield Park for a trotting contest on Wednesday evening (Sept. 6) which saw Ned "Insurance Man" Hodkinson take no prisoners and make every pole a winning one en route to a 2:00.1 victory with his own Mutinyonthebounty. After a day inundated with rain Mutinyonthebounty, second choice in the wagering, found the wet going to his liking and after starting from the pole position in the eight-horse field Hodkinson zipped him to the lead and they had command early passing the first stanza in :29.2. Despite Oneeyedmomma (Bob "Lumberman" Troyer) and Rush N Supreme (Kelly "Sky" Walker) stuck on the limb Hodkinsons charge was undeterred and trotted by the halfway point in 1:00.2 with the betting favorite, Song In My Heart and "Tiny Tim" Miller, getting a two-hole journey. As the field headed for the three quarters and parked horses faded, Miller moved Song In My Heart out to challenge for the lead but Mutinyonthebounty was able to rebuff him and then open some daylight as they rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt. In the lane it was all Mutinyonthebounty and he reported home a 1-1/2 length winner over Song In My Heart. Third place went to Upfront Chip Daddy driven by Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola. It was the second victory of the season for Mutinyonthebounty who returned a $7.20 mutuel. And for Hodkinson, who doubles as the horse's owner and trainer , it was his 56th career driving victory. by John Manzi for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

Steve Oldford, a former National Amateur Driver of the Year, is back in the winner's circle for the 127th time since the business professional began driving in the harness racing amateur ranks .That milestone was accomplished in a Midwest region Billings trot at the Fulton County Fair in Wauseon, Ohio on Saturday, September 2nd. when he guided The Budster to a 2:02.4 victory over four others. "This was the first time that the Billings ever raced at Wauseon," Oldford related via telephone. "We (the Billings) got to race there due to the efforts of Larry Farley, who, by the way, sponsored the winning blanket trophy." Five Billings members from the Midwest region convened at Wauseon and by all indications the race was a barn-burner. Oldford enjoyed a pocket trip after starting from the five hole as Indalecio "Rocket" Arriaga parked Patricia "the Right Stuff" Miller through fast early fractions of:30.3 and 1:00.3, and it wasn't until the three quarters that Miller's Keep The Cash tired. From that point a three-horse race ensued between Oldford's, The Budster, Gregg " Fast Greggy" Keidel's ,Kween Mightus, and Lawbook Larry" Farley's Ronan. All three of the aforementioned trotters nearly hit the finish line simultaneously. "It was so close that neither of us was sure who the winner was," Oldford said. However the finish line photo camera knew. When the judges reviewed the photograph The Budster was a head winner over Kween Mightus and a nose farther back in third place was Ronan. Oldford owns the winner who's trained by Terry Deters. Sent off a slight favorite in well balanced field The Budster paid $5.00 for win. According to Oldford the hospitality shown the Billings participants was wonderful. "Wauseon is a great Fair and we look forward to returning annually.", he added. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series

Dein Spriggs, one of the most prolific amateur drivers ever to sit behind a Standardbred showed his competition why he was named harness racing's "National Amateur Driver of the year" twice, first in 2004 and then again in 2005. However, in recent seasons he hasn't driven much in the Billings Series, although he has been productive in the Florida Amateur Drivers Association's races as well as competing against European counterparts in various international amateur competitions Just back from an international driving competition in the United Kingdom and in Finland with his Florida Amateur Club, Spriggs' notched his 437th career victory tonight (Saturday evening, August 26) at Tioga Downs when he sat back off speedy early fractions and then came on to pick up all the marbles to win the Billings Trot with his own Perfect Road in a 1:57.3 clocking. "We had the five-hole tonight and since my horse doesn't have real gate speed I headed for the pylons and figured I'd let the race unfold," Spriggs said. "And they were battling up front so we went speedy early fractions and being close,(to the leaders) I waited until we headed down the stretch before I pulled the plugs and when I did Perfect Road was the strong horse and we caught Doc (Scott) Woogen (driving Six Bax) in the final strides to win it." Third place went to War Cry Hall, driven by Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff. The winner, a 5-year-old Holiday Road gelding , trained by Patti Harmon, returned a $10.20 win mutuel. Spriggs was the leading driver in the Florida Amateur Club's Series at Pompano Park earlier this year and he won a few races against European amateurs on their home turf. "This was only my second start in the Billings this year but I plan to race many more times in the series," Spriggs said. Thus far this season Spriggs has driven 13 winners in just 29 starts and is carrying a hefty .532UDR. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to the beautiful facility at the Darke County Fair in Greenville Ohio on Thursday evening (Aug. 24) for a six-horse trot for members in the series Midwestern region and with a cool and collective drive "Lawbook Larry" Farley and his 7-year-old Andover Hall gelding , Ronan, rallied to a 2:01.3 victory over a stubborn The Budster, driven by Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded Oldford sent his veteran trotter to the front and they and took command before the timer flashed-:30.1. The soft early fractions seemed to appeal to Oldford, that was, until Pat "The Wright Stuff" Miller fired alongside him with Keep The Cash and a head-to-head challenge ensued as both The Budster and Miller' charge battled nose to nose by the halfway point in 1:00.2 . They were still one-two as they passed the three quarters in 1:31.2 but lurking right behind the leaders was Ronan and "Lawbook Larry" just biding their time. As the field rounded the final turn Farley and Ronan set sales for paydirt as Oldford kept urging The Budster. But in the deep stretch Ronan wore down The Budster in the final strides to get up for a head triumph in a 2:01.3 clocking. TK's Jelly Belly finished third for Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg. Sent off as the betting favorite, Ronan paid $6.40. Farley also owns the winner who's trained by Steve Boroff. For Larry Farley, a retired attorney and longtime amateur driver who has been an even a longer harness racing enthusiast, it was his 56th career driving victory. Back in the 1990's Farley, along with 15 others throughout the East Coast ventured to Monticello Raceway to compete in the "the Legal Eagle Pace", a race for strictly for drivers who were also lawyers and Farley placed among the top three finishers in the race. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

The ever-traveling CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, now in its second half of the 2017 harness racing season, made a stop at Saratoga Harness on Saturday evening, August 19 and 'homeboy' "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli made short work of the contest when he rallied EJ's Last Dance to a come-from-behind victory over five others in a 1:59 clocking. Ciuffetelli, a former corrections officer, got away slowly from the four-hole and sat back off a torrid early pace with the 5-year-old Conway Hall trotting mare They were sixth and last at the first stanza some eight lengths off the leader, Shez All Muscles in rein to "Buffalo Bob" Davis , as the timer flashed :28. Davis's trotter was still in command at the halfway point in :57.2 as EJ's Last Dance moved up a position, but still seven lengths in the rears. When the field straightened up the backside the second time around "Tough Tony" asked his mare for more and she responded when he moved her three-deep to range alongside the leaders. But from there it was 'Katie bar the door' as EJ's Last Dance rallied to a 1-1/2 victory. With a strong finish in the stretch Windsun Fireball and "Yankee Joe" Lee got up for the place money. And although Billings president, Tony the Capo" Verruso, and Sam's Honeybee had the shortest trip the veteran mare didn't fire in the lane and they had to settle for third place. "I figured that there would be early speed so I wanted to sit back a bit. But there were gaps between the (racing) horses that I didn't figure on so I moved earlier than I had planned," Ciufettelli said via telephone after the race. "And once I got my mare in high gear she caught the leaders and she was the strong horse down the stretch to win it easily." Sent off as the odds-on favorite the winner paid $3.00 for win. EJ's Last Dance is owned and trained by Brett Derue. It was her third seasonal victory. And for Ciufettelli, it marked his sixth seasonal driving victory and the 47th of his amateur career. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

On Saturday evening, August 12 the granddaddy of all amateur organizations, the CKG Billings Harness Racing Driving Series, embarked on the second half of its 36th season with a race in both the mid-western and eastern regions making it one of the few times that a contest in each division went to post at different racetracks just minutes apart. Scioto Downs hosted the mid-western trot which was won by Ned "the Insurance Man" Hodkinson behind Mutinyonthebounty in a 1:57.3 clocking over Columbus, Ohio's five-eighths mile oval .Later that evening at Vernon Downs in New York State David "Poppa" Glasser copped the eastern event with Celebrity Stimulus in a time of 1:56. And strangely, each victory was produced in wire-to-wire fashion. At 6:57pm the wings of the mobile starting gate folded at Scioto Downs and Ned Hodkinson fired his trotter away from post seven and they had command at the quarter in :28.2. With never a serious challenge Hodkinson and Mutinyonthebounty had things their own way and despite the betting favorite, Star Chip and driver Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel, drafting along in the catbirds seat when the field headed for paydirt Mutinyonthebounty hung tough and scored a one-length triumph over Star Chip. Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola took home the show dough with Upfront Chip Daddy. Dismissed by the betting public and sent off at odds of over 11-1 Mutinyonthebounty scored his first seasonal triumph and returned a $25.80 mutuel. Hodkinson , who owns the 8-year-old Mutineer gelding, doubles as the horse's trainer. Meanwhile, at 7:36pm in Vernon, NY David Glasser used the front end for an easy victory with Celebrity Stimulus. After starting from the four-hole Glasser sent his trotter to the lead in a swift :27 first stanza with Dien "the Dream" Spriggs hot on their tails with the betting favorite, Garlandandpearls. The two leaders raced one-two by the half and the three quarters but when Celebrity Stimulus headed for the finish line he drew away and coasted home an easy four-length winner. Garlandandpearls was second best with Peoplesayingimnogood finishing third for Scott "the Driving Doctor" Woogen. The winner,a veteran 7-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall, is owned by Glasser Racing LLC and trained by Homer Hochstetler. He paid $6.00. Next up in Billings action will be in the east region at Saratoga Raceway on Saturday August 19. By John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

It's been a long time between pots for Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel but tonight (July 29) at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park he turned the tables on his harness racing competition and drove impressively when he went down the road with Star Chip and turned back seven others in a 1:58.2 trotted mile. Although the harness racing executive has had only three driving victories since 2009 he was among the top drivers in the Billings Amateur Driving Series where he had won over 100 races prior to devoting the majority of his time to the racing departments at various racetracks in the Midwest. However, to be fair, Keidel hasn't driven many times in recent years (only 32 since 2009) and only does when he can get away from the racing office. Tonight in greater Cleveland, he was a perfect fit behind the Kurt Sugg-trainee and Keidel wasted no time sending his charge to the lead when the gate sprung. And despite nearly half the field stuck on the limb in the early going Keidel got Star Chip by the first panel in a relatively soft 30.1. The 'limbed' horses didn't keep the pressure on Star Chip and Keidel was able to get away with another :30.2 quarter. However, from there it was Katey bar the door as Keidel stepped on the gas and Star Chip trotted away with a :28.4 third panel and then added another .29.1 quarter to coast home a three-length winner over Upfront Chip Daddy and driver "Michelle the Belle" Ruvola which gave the offspring of the veteran stallion Chip Chip Hooray first and second money in the contest. Third place went to Strong Hope ,driven by "Lawbook Larry" Farley. Owned by Rebecca Sugg ,Star Chip won for the fifth time this year and paid $6.20 for win. For "Fast Greggy" it was his 103rd driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

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