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Saratoga Springs, NY-The granddaddy of all amateur driving organizations, the CKG Billings Series,moved on to Saratoga Harness on Friday night (Sept. 21) for a trotting event and for the second consecutive week "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli and his vastly improved Someway Same Hall romped over a six others when they scored an oh-so-easy 15-length victory winning in 1:56.4 by an amazing 15 lengths. It was the second consecutive triumph and seventh victory of the season for Ciuffetelli and the 7 year old altered son of Cash Hall. Last week at Freehold Raceway they won by eight lengths in 1:58.1. "Once I learned that he doesn't like me to grab him I've been letting him have his way and its really paying dividends," Ciuffetelli said about Someway Same Hall. "He loves the front-end and that's where he's happy so that's where I've been putting him lately." After starting from the four-hole Ciuffetelli was little more than a passenger as his veteran trotter zipped to the lead as the wings of the gate folded and they had four lengths on he field when they passed the first stanza in :28.1. The lead was opened to five lengths at the half as the timer flashed :56.3. When they headed for the three quarters they were eight in front and from there only the margin of victory was to be determined. They crossed the finish line 15 lengths ahead of Wygant Prince and driver "Coach Paul" Minore. Darron Hall and "Buffalo Bob" Davis chugged home third some 17 lengths behind the winner. Recently Ciuffetelli has battled back from a serious dose of Lyme disease and his health seems to be improving daily. He takes his well-being philosophically, so much so, that he calls his racing outfit, "The Tic Racing Stable". Sent off as the prohibitive betting favorite in the race Someway Same Hall paid just $2.80 for win. He's trained by Ciuffetelli, a retired prison guard, and owned by his Tic Racing Stable. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Delaware, Ohio---Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKB Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to the hallowed grounds of the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio on Sunday, September 16 for a pair of trots in the Billings Series along with a pacing event for club members of various Billings organizations in the Fouts Memorial. When the lengthy card was completed Richard "the Wolverine" Roach and Joey "the Kid" Putnam won theirs respective divisions while Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford copped the Fouts Memorial. In his event "the Wolverine", up behind I'll Tell You What, was content to follow the pacesetter, Ki Ki Canolli, driven by Todd "the Downeaster" Whitney, through nearly even fractions to the three quarters and then rally his veteran 13 year-old Lockeeper gelding to a two-length triumph in a time of 1:59.2. Mike "the Mortgage Man" Mitchell was second under the wire with Bosston Tahoe while I'll Tell You What faded and finished third. The winner, owned by Janet Mathely and trained by Deb Clayton, paid $11.20. Joey Putnam and Sebiskit Bluegrass dominated their division as "The Kid" sent the Big Stick Lindy gelding to the lead from the four hole and they were comfortable until "Coach Paul" Minore moved Hititoutofthepark off the pylons as the field approached the three quarters. From there both trotters battled head-to- head all the way to the wire, with each exchanging leads at various intervals, but at the finish Putnam's Sebiskit Bluegrass was a neck winner. Third place went to Body Of Work in rein to Alesha"the Hoosier Hotshot:" Binkley. The race winner is owned by Dr. Luel Overstreet and trained by Joey's dad, Joe Putnam. He paid $6.40. In the Fouts Memorial seasoned veteran Steve Oldford showed the 'young'uns' how its done when he impressively hustled the Art Major 4-year-old, Arch Hanover to a head victory over H-and-N Dho Hailey, driven by Billings newcomer, Mariah " Nearly Always" Wright, in 1:57. Alesha Binkley took home the show dough with Badger Quinn The winner, owned by Marissa Russo and trained by her hubby, David, returned a $21.60 win payoff by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Freehold, NJ-- There's an old adage in harness racing that states, "when you think your horse is the best in the race send him to the lead and if he gets beat on the front-end he probably wasn't the best." Case in point; today's (Sept 15th) Billings trot at Freehold Raceway. After "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli sent Someway Same Hall to the lead from the four hole he obviously felt his trotter was the best in the field when he proceeded to park-out all comers and then roll on to an impressive 1:58.1 victory over six others. After the gate sprung both Fiji (Dave "the Rave" Offenberg) and Wygant Prince, in rein to "Coach Paul" Minore, were on the limb and Ciuffetelli seemed oblivious and left them on the outside as he hustled Someway Same Hall forward with Fiji right alongside while Wygant Prince was second over. Of course the challenges made the first fraction a swift :28.1 and at the halfway point the timer flashed :58.0. But Ciufferelli was undaunted as his steed began to pull away from the parked horses. At the three-quarters Ciuffetelli and Someway Same Hall had three lengths on the field which was opened to seven at the top of the lane. And when they headed for paydirt "Tough Tony" was looking around for company and they cruised to and easy 8-length triumph as the early challengers faded. Way Cry Hall and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff were second under the wire while Fiji held on for the show dough. The winner is owned by the Tic Racing Stable and trained by Ciuffetelli. Although "Tough Tony" felt his horse was the best the betting crowd didn't concur and sent them off at odds of over 10-1 and Someway Same Hall paid $22.10. by John Manzi, for Billings Series

Northfield, Ohio-Over the past few weeks in the Billings mid-west region a battle has been raging between Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola. Oh, not a physical one, but a competition which involved their trotters; Steve's, Kaffir Kemp and Michelle's, Better Call Saul. It seems that they have been trading victories."We've been going back and forth recently. I won last night with Kaffir Kemp and Michelle got me last week with Better Call Saul," Oldford explained. And in the two previous weeks victory was either Oldford's or Ruvola's. Oldford, reached by phone, related that because of constant rain last night the track was muddy and visibility was tough. "I'm still wiping mud from places I never thought I would have to," he joked. In the race last night over the muddy oval eight trotters lined-up behind the mobile starting gate and even before the field was turned loose two had gone off stride. "I fired-up my guy before the start because I wanted to be on the lead," Oldford said. "He has always had good gate speed and we cleared to the lead from the five-hole but we had to deal with Marvin (Raber with Mikey Hanover) who was on the limb. So I opened-up some daylight with hopes he'd get in behind me, which he did," But lurking behind Mikey Hanover was the betting favorite, Better Call Saul and when the leaders straightened up the backside Ms. Ruvola moved Better Call Saul off the pylons. However, Kiffir Kemp was up to the challenge and they battled all the way to the wire and the victory belonged to Oldfield's trotter who was a head better than Ruvola's as the finish line timer flashed 1:58.2. After a slow start Grana Padanno, who trailed the leaders by some 12 lengths in the early going, rallied to finish third for Dean "What Am I Bid" Beachy. Kaffir Kemp is owned by the Oldford Stable LLC and trained by Terry Deters. He returned an $11.00 mutuel by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

YONKERS, NY - Longtime owner and very capable amateur driver, Dave "the Rave" Offenberg got a very pleasurable ride behind his own veteran trotter, Fiji, when together they out-footed seven others to win the Billings Trot Friday night (Sept. 7) at Yonkers Raceway. Together they toured the double oval in a time of 1:58.2. When the starter said "go" , Uriel and "Annie Get Your Gun" Stoebe darted to the lead from the two-hole and they trotted by the first stanza in a soft :29.3 despite Fiji and Offenberg challenging on the outside. The two continued to race noses apart by the halfway point but at that station Fiji had his head in front as the timer flashed :59.4. Despite being on the limb all the way when the leaders headed up the backside Fiji circled Uriel and was the first to pass the three quarters as the timer flashed 1:28.4. But as the field rounded the final turn Fiji began pouring it on and opened up daylight and cruised home an easy 4-1/4-length winner over Uriel. Billings president "Tony "the Capo" Verruso gained the show dough with Stitch In Time. Weeks ago Offenberg and Fiji won an amateur event at the Meadowlands in a very creditable time of 1:53.3. Fiji, a 5-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall, is trained by "The Little Red Man", Eric Abbatiello. It marked the fifth seasonal victory for Fiji which raised his yearly earnings to over $41,000. He is owned by Offenberg's Allister Stable. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings  Series  

The granddaddy of all amateur driving competitions, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, went back to its roots on Saturday, September 1st with a pair of races at Ohio's Fulton County Fair and when the events were completed "Lawbook Larry" Farley and Joey "the Kid" Putnam each emerged victorious in their respective splits. Farley won his division with Ronan in a time of 2:02.3 while Putnam scored behind Sum t Up in 2:00.3. Of the 11 races on the card at the finely manicured oval at Wauseon, Ohio, two short fields of trotters were devoted to members of the Billings mid-west region. Farley, a retired attorney and a longtime amateur reinsmen, notched his 58th career driving victory since he took a seat behind spirited steeds in 1981. In his division Farley started from the five-hole and gained an advantage when two in the five-horse field went off-stride at the start which allowed him the settle his trotter in behind the leader, BL Class Act, in rein to Mike "The Mortgage Man" Mitchell. Farley followed the leader until the backstretch where he moved Ronan to the lead and they coasted home an easy 4-1/4 length winner over I'll Tell You What, driven by Richard "the Wolverine" Roach. BL Class Act held on for the show dough. Farley owns the winner who is trained by Steve Boroff. Ronan returned a $7.00 mutuel to his backers. In his split Putnam took no prisoners when he sent Sum It Up to the lead and they had command in a :28.3 first quarter over Mulligan Bi, driven by Billings veep, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. From there the leaders raced one-two past the half in :59 and the order remained the same as the duo trotted by the three quarters in 1:30.2. And to no one's surprise they finished one-two in the 2:00.3 clocked mile. Ellens Lucky Roll and driver Larry Farley finished third some 14- lengths behind the winner.. For Joey Putnam, a rising star who currently holds a provisional license, it was the young man's 33rd win this year and 43rd in less than two seasons in the sulky. Sum It Up is owned by Joe Putnam and Cheryl O'Mara and trained by Joey's dad. He paid $5.40. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

MONTICELLO, NY--If there's any doubt about what a good post position can do just ask Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin. After off-the-board finishes from outside ;positions in his last three starts Krivelin took advantage of the pole and sent his charge to the lead and they made every pole a winning on en route to a 2:00 victory in the Billings trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (August 30. It was the horse's second victory this season and 37th of his successful career. "When the starter said "go" I immediately sent him (Permanent Joy) to the lead which is where the old guy races best," Krivelin said in the paddock after the race. "He doesn't like dirt hitting him in his face so being on the front-end is where he gives his best effort." The ever- traveling CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series made its fourth seasonal stop at the Mighty M where seven venerable trotters lined-up behind the mobile starting gate. When Permanent Joy vaulted to the lead Jennifer "Golden Girl" Lappe ducked in behind the leader with Celebrity Blue Chip and they were content to follow as Krivelin's trotter passed the first quarter in :29. The order remained the same as the two leaders trotted by the halfway point in 1:00.1. "Yankee Joe" Lee was the first to move when he pulled the right line on Tim Lizzie but they never made up much ground and by the three quarters Permanent Joy was comfortable on the engine with Celebrity Blue Chip 2-1/2 chasing the leader. As Permanent Joy rounded the final turn Krivelin fed him his head and the old veteran opened the lead to 3 lengths and in the deep stretch Krivelin was looking around for challengers as and his charge cruised to five-length victory. Celebrity Blue Chip held on for second money while "Buffalo Bob" Davis and Stitch in Time came between horses to capture the show dough. "This was Permanent Joy's first (seasonal) start in the Billings this year and actually he faced a much lesser caliber field than he did in the five NAADA races he'd been in earlier," Krivelin added. Owned by the Hero Stable and trained by Krivelin, the 12-year-old Trot For Joy gelding was sent off at odds of almost 6-1 and paid $13.80. by John Manz,i for the Billings Series

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 25, 2018 — Michelle “The Belle” Ruvola (Better Call Saul) and Stephen “You’re Never Too” Oldford (Kaffir Kemp) dueled for more than 1/2 mile Friday at The Meadows before Ruvola drew away in the stretch to capture a $10,000 leg of the C.K. G. Billings Amateur Trot. With Ruvola parked out and Oldford refusing to release any challengers, the stage for the battle was set. Despite the demanding trip, Ruvola surged late to defeat Oldford by 4 lengths in 1:57.4 for trainer Christ Hershberger and owner Wolf Creek Farm. The 6-year-old Muscle Massive-Kelsies Song gelding pushed his career bankroll to $131,338. Tom “Mayhem” Svrcek (Fair Glider) and “Chicago” George Bonomo (Time Outa Jail) completed the ticket. With his tough journey, it wasn’t clear that Better Call Saul would have anything left for the drive. “I wasn’t too sure, but he felt strong all the way,” Ruvola said. “So I was hoping, and he just wouldn’t give it up. I asked him a bit, but when I asked, he gave.” It was the third straight Billings leg in which Ruvola has out-finished Bonomo, her father. Despite retaining family bragging rights, she indicated she wouldn’t lord it over her dad. “I feel bad about that, kind of,” she said. “It’s a horse race — we’re not father and daughter out there; we’re fellow racers. But I won’t (needle him). I’m nice.” SHAWN JOHNSTON WINS PONY HOP CHARITY CHALLENGE   With a late lunge, Shawn Johnston surged across the finish line and captured Friday's Pony Hop Charity Challenge at The Meadows, earning $500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Western Pennsylvania. The event, staged by The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, matched eight of the track's regular drivers bouncing for their favorite charities. Dan Rawlings finished second, winning $250 for Asperger and Autism Network, while Jeremy Indof's show finish netted $150 for American Cancer Society. Also participating were Dave Palone (Standardbred Retirement Foundation), Mike Wilder (Pacing for the Cure), Jim Pantaleano (Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center), Brady Brown (St. Jude Hospital) and Wilbur Yoder (New Vocations). by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved to the swift double oval at Saratoga Raceway in Saratoga Springs, NY for a what looked like very competitive 8-horse trot in the Eastern region and when the judges hung the official sign "Touch Tony" Ciuffetelli emerged victorious with Someway Same Hall in 1:59.2. But as it turned out it the final result was never in doubt as Ciuffetelli and his trotter sped the lead and bottomed-out the field and coasted to a 1-1/2 length triumph after leading by 10 lengths at the three quarters. When the starter said go Little Big Rigs and driver "Buffalo Bob" Davis went for the lead from the four-hole only to be seriously challenged on the outside by Ciuffetelli and Someway Same Hall. Davis finally grabbed leather and allowed Ciuffetelli to take command in the :28.1 first quarter. Someway Same Hall was so wound-up that he opened eight lengths on the field as he trotted by the halfway point in a swift :56.4. But "Tough Tony" just allowed his horse to continue forward and at the three quarters they had a 10-length lead. That margin shrank to five lengths at he top of the stretch and despite a :32.3 final panel they were home free as Little Big Rigs closed the gap but he was relegated to second place. EJ's Last Dance and Billings president "Tony "the Capo" Verruso, who were 17-lengths off the lead at the half, rallied to finish third just 3-1/2 lengths behind the winner. The attending crowd knew the best horse in the race was Someway Same Hall and they sent him away as the odds-on favorite and he returned a $3.60 mutuel. The winner, a 7-year old altered son of Cash Hall, is owned by the Tic Racing Stable and trained by Ciuffetelli. It was "Tough Tony's fifth seasonal driving victory and the 56th of his amateur driving career. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Greenville, Ohio-On the pleasant evening of August 22nd ,with temperatures hovering in the mid-70's, seven venerable trotters lined-up behind the mobile starting gate each with the task of trying to win the $2800 Billings Trot over the finely manicured racing facility at the Darke County Fair. After an extremely competitive stretch duel Mike "the Mortgage Man" Mitchell and his BL Class Act emerged victorious, albeit by a head, over the 1-2 betting favorite, Body Of Work, driven by Billings newcomer, Alesha "the Hoosier Hotshot" Binkley in a 2:01.1 clocking Mitchell sent BL Class Act to the lead from the two-hole and they got away with a soft :31 second quarter with Body Of Work tight on his back. "We left fast and my old guy took the turn easily and we had command at the quarter in a soft 30 seconds ," Mitchell recalled. "When we were heading to the half Dean Beachy challenged with Celebrity Lambo and we raced head-to- head past the three quarters and all the way through the final turn. In the stretch I kept driving my horse and although we were momentarily headed he was still strong enough to rebuff the late challenge from Body Of Work (Alesha Binkley). And after the race my horse wasn't even breathing hard. Actually I was breathing harder than him!" Dean "What Am I Bid" Beachy, back in the Billings Series after hiatus, faded and finished third with Celebrity Lambo. BL Class Act, an 11-year-old altered son of Classic Photo, is owned and trained by Mitchell. Since purchasing him as a 4-year-old the classy veteran has won almost $300,000 for the longtime amateur reinsman. Sent off at odds of over 6-1, BL Class Act paid $13.40. And for Mike Mitchell it was his 39th career driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Nichols, NY--The ever-traveling CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series moved on to Tioga Downs for a trotting contest and it turned out to be ladies night when Annie "Get Your Gun" Stoebe used the front-end route with Uriel to hold off "Lady Jennifer" Lappe and Celebrity Blue Chip for a 1:56.4 victory which marked the first time this season--maybe ever-- that women finished one-two in a Billings event. When the wings of the mobile gate folded Stoebe wasted no time sending Uriel to the front and they had a two-length lead on Celebrity Blue Chip at the first quarter which was trotted in :281. When Stoebe began to slow the pace "Buffalo Bob" Davis , who was sitting third, was out and going with Connie Keeper and they ranged alongside Uriel but as they did Miss Annie stepped on the gas and Uriel trotted the third quarter in :28.0 which not only put away Connie Keeper but opened daylight on Lappe's charge as the timer flashed 1:27.3. When the field headed down the lane Uriel had two lengths on Celebrity Blue Chip as Connie Keeper faded. At the wire Uriel was one-length winner. Celebrity Blue Chip held second and Connie Keeper finished third, seven lengths behind the winner. It was the fourth victory of the season for Uriel, a 7-year-old Explosive Matter gelding who returned a $13.40 mutuel. He's owned and trained by Stoebe who scored her fourth seasonal driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series      

Columbus, Ohio-- Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, made a stop at Scioto Downs on Friday (Aug. 17) for a $7500 trotting contest in the Billings mid-west region and when the judges hung the official sign Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and Kaffir Kemp emerged victorious in a hard-fought stretch duel when they turned back Better Call Saul and driver Michelle "The Belle" Ruvola in a time of 1:57.2. Sent off as the 3-2 betting favorite Oldford sent his charge to the lead from the five -hole and they led seven others by the first stanza in :28.1. When Oldford tapped the breaks as the field headed to the halfway point Michelle Ruvola angled Better Call Saul off the pylons and they traveled alongside Kaffir Kemp as the duo passed the halfway point in :58.1. The two trotters were eyeball to eyeball past the three quarters in 1:26.4 and were still side by side through the lane. In the deep stretch Oldford's trotter hung amazingly tough and wouldn't allow Ruvola's charge to get the lead and at the wire Kaffir Kemp was the winner, just a head better than Better Call Saul Stemilt Touch finished third for Kelly "Sky" Walker. Ten days ago at Northfield Park Better Call Saul powered to the lead in the homestretch but this week his overland trip caused him to be a bit short at the wire. Or maybe Kaffir Kemp was just too mjch for him. The race winner is a 9-year old altered son of Angus Hall owned by Oldford Racing LLC and trained by Terry Deters. It was the veteran trotter's 6th seasonal triumph and 26th of his illustrious career. For Oldford, it marked his 136th career driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

There's no doubt that the addition of slots at the pari-mutuel racetracks in Ohio has been a boon to the industry there. Not only are horsemen racing for bigger purses it has also fueled a resurgence of sorts in the amateur movement there, as well as in Pennsylvania, where slots have been the lay of the land for a few years now. On Wednesday, August 8 at Northfield Park in Ohio, a solid 10-horse field of amateur drivers each took a seat behind spirited steeds and raced for an $,8000 purse and when the dust had cleared "Michelle the Belle" Ruvola stuck it to the boys-her dad included- when she guided Better Call Saul to an easy 3-1/2 triumph in a very creditable 1:59.1 clocking. After starting from the 4-hole Michelle settled her trotter in along the pylons in third position as "Marvelous Marvin" Raber and Mikey Hanover showed the way by the quarter in :29.3. Heading to the half-way point she moved Better Call Saul first-up and they slowly kept moving forward. Third at the half, second at the three quarters, and still second -by two lengths- at the top of the stretch Mrs. Ruvola finally gave her trotter his head and "Saul" put it in high fear and rambled on to an easy victory over Mikey Hanover. Sneaky Sam finished third for Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel and Michelle's dad, George Bonomo, was fourth with Time Outa Jail. Contacted via email Michelle was understandably jubilant after her victory and she responded: "Still feeling the excitement of finishing first under the wire. It never gets old! Saul was really on the bit in warm-up and came through for the race! Got a hole, race went in nice fractions, and when we popped out to take on Mikey, Saul was ready and willing! Thanks "Team Saul" for the win! (By the way, I'm still smiling! )" Better Be Saul is owned by Wolf Creek Farm and trained by Crist Hershberger. He paid $8.20 for win. For Michelle, a businesswoman from Naperville, Ill who only has time to drive sparingly, it marked her first seasonal victory and 40th of her amateur career. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series    

Yonkers, NY--"Smokin' Joe" Faraldo is a happy man. And why shouldn't he be? After all, the Queens, NY attorney just won the $15,000 CKG Billings Eastern Region Mid-Season Final tonight (July 28)at Yonkers Raceway when he guided Tough Get Going to a gate-to-wire triumph in a 1:58.4 clocking. "A win tonight and a catch drive on Thursday at Monticello (Raceway) where I finished second, heck, things are really looking up," chuckled the Queens, NY attorney who has been a premier supporter of amateur racing since its resurgence in the early 1980's. Faraldo, a Billings member from its inception and founder of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, is getting to show that he really knows his way around the racetrack. It's true, he was the National Amateur Driver of the Year in 2000 and a winner of 144 pari-mutuel races (2 this year in Europe, also), but the move he put on Wygant Prince's and "Coach Paul" Minore tonight which kept them locked-in until mid-stretch was almost professional and saved the victory for Tough Get Going. "We were on the engine all the way and Paul had Wygant Prnce on my back from the start," Faraldo said. "When we rounded the final turn Annie ("Get Your Gun"Stoebe--with Uriel) was on the outside and I kept backing into her trying to keep Paul's horse from seeing daylight. But finally, in mid-stretch, Wygant Prince shook loose and came charging but my horse hung tough and we won it by neck." Winwood Scout garnered the show dough for David "Poppa" Glasser in the non-wagering contest Faraldo co-owns the Tough Get Going with the horse's trainer, Richie Banca. Meanwhile, later in the evening at Northfield Park in Ohio, a 9-horse field in the mid-west region of the Billings Series went to post and when the judges hung the official sign the odds-on favorite Utopia and driver Steve Oldford rallied late to overtake the pacesetter, Winback Charles M ("Lawbook Larry" Farley) and go on to a 1-1/2 length victory in a 1:57 clocking. In that contest Farley sent Winback Chales M to the lead from the pole position and they rumbled by the first quarter in 28 seconds flat and were still two lengths to the good as they passed the halfway point in :57.2. At that point Oldford got Utopia in high gear and with a three-deep move up the backside they were two lengths off Winback Charles M as the field passed the third stanza in 1:27.2. As they rounded the final turn Farley's trotter braced for Oldford's charge but Utopia was too much to contend with and he went on to victory. Winback Charkes M held on for second money while Michelle"the Belle" Ruvola finished third with Better Call Saul. Unlike the Yonkers Billings the Northfield Park Billings was a wagering affair and Utopia paid $2.60 for win. The 7-year-old Mutineer gelding is owned by Oldford Racing LLC and trained by Terry Deters. For Oldford it was his 5th seasonal driving victory and 135th of his amateur career. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series    

Kelly "Sky" Walker lulled his competitors to sleep when he went to the lead and then cruised wire to wire with My Country Boy to score a victory in the Billings Trot at the Fowlerville, MI Fair on Monday, July 23. Although it might have been a short field in the but nonetheless it was a competitive event with five avid Michiganders at the lines. However, in all fairness, the eventual winner seemed to have unimpressive stats (5-0-1-1) going into the event but the horse's previous races were undoubtedly discounted by Walker when he sent the 5 year old altered son of Southwind Elian to the lead from the three-hole and made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:05.4 victory over Little Point Sable, and driver Jerry "The Jet" Mihelich who had rallied after making a break before the start. Third place went to Mulligan Bi, driven by Billings vice president, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. Although he hasn't been racing as much this season as he has in the past, Walker had an ear- to-ear grin after the mile when he said, perhaps with tongue in cheek; "I'm making my comeback and it sure feels good to be in the winners circle again." But for Walker he's had that feeling 126 other times prior to his victory at Fowlerville. The winning horse is owned and trained by June Du Russel who continues to be a great supporter of amateur racing. Later Walker added that he'll be among four American drivers who'll be winging their way to Northern Italy on July 29 for a Friendship Competition with Italian amateurs at three different racetracks in the greater Trieste area. Set to Join "Sky"Walker for this international amateur contest, will be Dr. Scott Woogen, "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio and Steve Oldford. And while they are in Italy an contingent of Italian amateurs will be in the States for competition against their NAADA counterparts in early August. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

Saratoga Springs, NY - The granddaddy of all amateur driving organizations, the ever-traveling CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, made a stop at Saratoga Raceway on Friday night, (July 20) and when it was all over Tony "the Capo" Verruso emerged victorious when he guided Mandeville to a 2:00.2 triumph over seven others. Sometimes realty can rival fiction; case in point; tonight's Billings Trot. The winning driver is the president of the Billings Series but more unusual, the winning trainer was Saratoga regular, Donald Billings. When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded in that contest "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo had Tough Get Going in high gear from post six and they led the field by the first stanza in :29.3 with "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli and Better To Be Lucky challenging on the limb. But Ciuffetelli settled in along the pylons behind Faraldo. With little pressure, Faraldo got his charge by the half in 1:01.4 which precipitated moves by the trailing horses. First to move was Simeon "Hot Rod" Hunsdon with Lisa Jane but they got alongside the leader but couldn't get around him. Meanwhile Verruso used Hunsdon's cover as the field trotted by the third stanza in 1:31.1 and at that point Tough Get Going braced for Verruso and Mandeville who kept charging on the outside. The two were heads apart around the final turn but Mandeville was the strong horse in the lane and went on to a two length triumph. Tough Get Going held on for second while Better To Be Lucky garnered the show dough. Mandeville, a 6-year-old Majestic Son gelding owned by Jessica Anderson, was sent off as the odds-on favorite and paid $3.60 for win. Because Verruso has been busy with his professional career it was only his 13th start this season and his first winner in 2018. However he has won 69 races since he began amateur driving in 1999.  by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

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