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Goshen, NY-- Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved to the Cradle of the Trotter on Saturday afternoon, July 6, for trotting contest and despite the pouring rain the series vice president, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, took advantage of a two-hole trip and rallied Santini to a head victory while holding off a hard-charging Tropical Trice ("Mighty Matt" Zuccarello) in a time of 2:00.2. Third place went to Osprey Vision, driven by Billings newcomer and talented trainer, " King David" Russo. "It was an exciting race and three of us battled all the way to the wire,"Oldford said as he wiped the mud from his face."My my horse hung tough and we eked-out a victory. But it was close." "A funny thing about this race is that last year I drove a winner for Dave (Russo) ," Oldford added A longtime proponent of amateur racing Oldford notched his 154th driving victory but perhaps more impressive is that Steve will receive the Hall of Fame Amateur Driver of the Year Award tomorrow night, which will be the sixth time he has received that honor. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

WASHINGTON, PA, June 28, 2019 -- Trailing by 4-1/2 lengths and wide at the half, Stephen "You're Never Too" Oldford and Utopia tracked down the leader in the shadow of the wire and captured Friday's $10,000 leg of the harness racing C.K.G. Billings Amateur Trot at The Meadows. Alesha "The Hoosier Hotshot" Binkley and Hititoutofthepark vaulted to the front from post 5 and, despite constant pressure, opened a daylight lead turning for home. But Oldford and Utopia gobbled up ground in the lane and downed Binkley by a head in 1:57. Tom "Mayhem" Svrcek (Ubanji) and Michelle "The Belle" Ruvola (Jackie Goldstein) rounded out the superfecta. Terry Deters trains Utopia, an 8-year-old Mutineer-Brontease gelding who lifted his career bankroll to $238,495, for Oldford Racing LLC. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Some harness racing fans are not satisfied with just watching the races from rail, they want to be on the other side — and in the driver’s seat — and they can! Many enthusiasts, both men and women are part of amateur harness racing clubs in the tri-state area. Most have day jobs but on weekends they trade business attire for racing colors. According to the United States Trotting Association website: “An amateur driver is a driver who has not received valuable compensation for his or her services as a driver. To participate in amateur driving events, the person must hold a driver's license issued by the United States Trotting Association.". Most amateur drivers donate the percent of the purse money won that a driver would normally receive, to charity, raising money for a variety of good causes. While there are races restricted to amateurs, the amateurs can and often do compete against the pros. For esample, Mal Burroughs, then of Flemington, N.J., won the harness racing’s most prestigious race for trotters — the Hambletonian with Malabar Man in 1997. Only one other amateur has won that race since it started in 1926. The other was Harrison Hoyt, who won it in 1948. The Hambletonian with Malabar Man in 1997 However, it doesn't have to be a world class stakes race to be fun. New Jerseyan, Matt Zuccarello, a Field Sales Representative for Herr Foods Inc. by day, fell in love with harness racing when he attended the races as a kid with his father, at the legendary Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island. “I love so many things including the excitement, speed (even though it feels like slow motion at times), strategy, and camaraderie among all the amateurs. When you win a race and get your picture taken in the winner’s circle, especially surrounded by friends and family, it is awesome!” Over Memorial Day weekend at the Meadowlands, Zuccarello just missed getting his picture taken in the winner’s circle, finishing second in a division of the GSY Amateur Driving Club series. Zuccarello also competes with the North American Amateur Drivers Association and the CKG Billings series, and in a total of 16 starts this year he has two seconds and two thirds. Since 2012 he has raced 347 times, won 12, as second 34 times and was third 39 times. Anthony Verruso, a Flight Attendant for Jetblue Airways also just missed winning the CKG Billings trot at the Meadowlands on May 25 — by a head. Just because they are amateurs, doesn’t mean they are any less competitive than the pros. In 2019 Verruso has won twice and finished second five times in 14 starts with his most recent win at Monticello Raceway in New York. “It is an experience like no other. Racing at high speeds in such tight quarters and having to make split second decisions is as exhilarating as anything you could ever do. And there is no feeling like sweeping a field up the back side and opening lengths to win a race,” Verruso said. He is also president of the Delvin Miller Amateur Drivers' Association which runs the Billings series which will conclude in November with the top point earners earning a start in the final. Verruso was introduced to racing a t a young age. “My Dad was a workout clocker and went to Roosevelt and Yonkers every night for what was my entire life. He told me I could go with him if I got A's in school. So I did and he took me on a regular basis from when I was 10 years old. I learned to clock the workouts too but from those early days on I wanted to be Carmine Abbatiello,” he said referring to the professional driver who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. For Anthony Beltrami, a state trial judge for the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Pa., driving in races is a welcome change of pace. He loves, “that I get to do something that is really fun and totally different from anything else I do.” His father owned harness horses as long as he can remember. “Before I went to law school, I worked as a groom for Earl Beal, Jr. and David Rovine. Several years ago, I got my trainer's and driver's licenses.” This year he has two wins, a second and a third from eight starts. Men and women compete on equal terms in harness racing. Hannah Miller, not only competes with the men, she often beats them. She was the first woman to earn National Amateur Driver of the Year honors in 2015.  The next year she represented the United States in the amateur World Cup in Budapest, Hungary. So how does one get started in amateur harness racing? Zuccarello said, “I told my dad that one day I wanted to drive and own horses. Years later, I took a class in Delaware, Ohio, where the Little Brown Jug is raced at, was connected to a trainer, Dennis Laterza and his son, who I still have horses with, learned how to clean stalls, jog horses, train and equip them, and I was hooked.” Zuccarello suggests attending the USTA driving school, although none are scheduled for 2019, check http://www.ustrotting.com/standardbred-driving-school/ for 2020 opportunities. Next, Zuccarello said, “get connected with a local trainer near where you live to learn everything about the industry. Once you get this experience under your belt, I would suggest purchasing an inexpensive horse to use for qualifiers while also networking with other trainers and try to secure as many qualifying drives as you can and this will help you work your way towards getting your amateur license.” “You need to start from the ground up. Find an old time guy who likes to impart knowledge and listen to what he says. Don't just go and jump in the seat and think you can drive. First learn to muck a stall. Then understand how to put on the equipment. Jogging would be the next progression and finally going training miles. From there try to get drives in qualifiers to obtain a license. In my opinion, that is the best road to success,” Verruso said. “Find a trainer/stable that you can work for and start out as a groom — hopefully one that can eventually jog and train the horses you care for. Be willing to put in long hours and to learn as much as you can along the way, said Beltrami. See www.ustrotting.com/trackside/amateur-driving-clubs/ for more information on local clubs. For the younger set, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation offers summer camps at area tracks and training centers. At the camps kids learn to care for and drive Trottingbred ponies, miniature versions of Standardbreds.Several former campers have gone on to become professionals. By Lillian Shupe Reprinted with permission of Tap Into Plainfield      

WASHINGTON, PA, June 1, 2019 -- Brent "Clipper" Davis was razor sharp at The Meadows Saturday, keeping Beatrice alive outside as the harness racing duo captured a $10,000 leg of the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Trot. Davis and Beatrice were out before the half to start their sustained drive . . . and even wider in the stretch. "At the three-eighths, a guy behind me came early, and I just wanted to make sure I had her out with a little room," Davis said. "I had to come three wide in the last turn, which usually isn't a very good spot. But she's really a professional horse. She does a good job." The 5-year-old daughter of Photo Color-Lima Simplicity had enough in the tank to hold off the Lightning Lane charge of Bob "The Lumberman" Troyer and Ubanji by a neck in 1:57.3. Alesha "The Hoosier Hotshot" Binkley (Hititoutofthepark) and Stephen "You're Never Too" Oldford completed the Top 4. Ed Teefey campaigns Beatrice, who extended her career bankroll to $133,114. Davis indicated he'll keep Beatrice in the Billings series but might slip in some overnights as well. "She's a good amateur horse -- easy to drive -- but she's a good raceway horse as well," he said. "She can hold her own with the professionals. She's just as nice." By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association      

Freehold, NJ -- Tony "the Capo" Verruso bided his time in fifth position in the early going then when he approached the three quarters he rallied longshot PL Layla to the lead and coasted home an easy 2:01 winner in the Billings Trot at Freehold Raceway on Saturday, afternoon, May 4 and rewarded his faithful with a $62.80 win mutuel. Uriel and Annie "Get Your Gun" Stoebe cut the early fractions but yielded to Boss Du Fosse and driver "Smokin'Joe" Faraldo as the field approached the third stanza. However, Faraldo's charge tired in the lane and finished out of the money. Meanwhile, PL Layla and Verruso, third at the three quarters, took command as the field rounded the final turn and then held off hard -charging Landonfitz and driver Dave "the Rave" Offenberg to score the daughter of Glidemaster's second seasonal triumph. Third place went to Cheeky Little Minx in rein to "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio. After five starts on bigger racetracks with limited success perhaps the return to the half-mile oval was to PL Layla's liking for in early March she was victorious at Freehold in 1:59.4. The race marked the return of two-time "Amateur Driver of the Year , "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, but her Jacks To Open started from post seven, had major road trouble, and finally finished fifth. The Glidemaster 4-year-old mare, trained by Danielle Dailey, is owned by Joe Scanio and Bart Fooden. The Billings Series returns to Freehold Raceway on May 11. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Freehold, NJ -- Starting from the six hole, lightly regarded Osprey Vision got a hustling drive from harness racing "Yankee Joe" Lee and overcame traffic to get in contention and then challenge the betting favorite Wygant Prince (Coach Paul" Minore) in the lane and rally for a length and a half victory in 2:02 in the $9000 Billings Trot at Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon, April 27. When the wings of the mobile gate folded Minore and Wygant Prince challenged "Annie Get Your Gun" Stoebe's, Uriel, for the lead which they obtained just after the first stanza timer flashed :29 seconds. Once on top Minore's charge stepped by the halfway point in :59 at which point Lee was out and going with Osprey Vision who was still in fifth place but looking to move up. "Once I got him rolling we quickly ranged up behind Doc Woogen (with Peoplesayimnoood who was first-up) and since my horse was full of trot I angled him three-deep and had my sights on Wygant Prince who was still strong on the lead," Lee said. Osprey Vision collared Minore's trotter at he top of the lane and then slowly began to pull away and went on to victory, the second of the season for the veteran trotter. Wygant Prince held second and Doc Woogen's charge finished third, some six lengths behind the top two. Osprey Vision, a 10-year-old altered son of Ken Warkentin, is in from his home base in western New York and had raced successfully in a couple of NAADA trots before striking gold in the Billings today. Tommy Merton trains for owner, Melissa Russo. Osprey Vision paid $18.20 for win and marked the gelding's 50th career victory which raised his lifetime bankroll to over $302,000. For "Yankee Joe" last season's Amateur Driver of the Year, it was his 50th career triumph. The Billings Series will continue tomorrow (Sunday) with a nine-horse field at Miami Valley Raceway. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

MONTICELLO, NY--Although there were events for Billings members in early April at Pompano Park the granddaddy of all amateur driving programs, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, will get underway in earnest on Saturday, April 27 at Freehold Raceway and then move to Miami Valley Raceway the following afternoon. Both programs have been drawn and most notable is the purse increase at both venues. At Freehold the lady and gentlemen drivers will compete for a $9000 purse while at Miami Valley they'll go for $8,000. But competitors will find that they'll be racing for more money than in the past at many venues. At Scioto Downs the purse will be $10,000; at the Meadowlands, $11,000; at the Meadows-$12,000; and at Woodbine Mohawk; $12,000. Both Tony "the Capo" Verruso, Billings Series president, and Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, the series vice president, worked diligently in an effort to formulate an admirable program. "Tony and I adjusted the schedule a bit concentrating on the tracks that get the most participation, "Oldford noted. "The big add in the West this year is The Meadows where we have five legs and the West Gold Cup. Northfield Park has eight legs total. Purses are up at all tracks which we hope will bring out more participation. "We will again have our youth program which allows those under 25 years old, with under 50 pro wins, to race for free. It worked well last year. Two up and coming amateur drivers to watch are Mariah Wright and Alysha Binkley, both very good and should be at our West opener at Miami Valley next Sunday." "We have also added some condition allowances for amateur horses to help benefit those who race mostly in amateur races," Verruso added. Once again the Billings Series -now in its 38th season--will offer opportunities for competitions nearly weekly until late November. According to Billings Series president Tony Verruso, one big difference this season will be the elimination of the Silver Cup Final in in lieu of an East and West $25,000 Gold Cup Championships.   by John Manzi for the Billings Harness Driving Series,

Yonkers, NY--Harness racing's granddaddy of all amateur events, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, presented its 37th annual Gold and Silver Cup Finals at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday, November 25th and they resulted in near storybook fashion when coincidentally the $25,000 Gold Cup was won by the series vice president,Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, and the $15,000 Silver Cup Final went to the series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso, making it the first time that the event's top officers were victorious in the races' finales. The long-running program is, and has always been, sponsored by the Delvin Miller Memorial Harness Driving Series, better known as the Billings, Raced this season at a distance of 1-1/4 miles over the double-oval at Yonkers Raceway the two 10-horse fields were very competitive with Oldford and Starsaboveallerage, despite being sent off at odds of over 22-1,winning the Gold Cup in a tight photo over On The Podium ("Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli) in a time of 2:32. The Silver Cup Final went to Landonfitz, driven by the series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso over Winwood Scout and driver "Dave "Modern Legend" Drew in a time of 2:31.4. Both drivers had to negotiate ten-horse fields en route to victory. Oldford is enjoying one of his best seasons in the sulky and has already topped the leaderboards in the midwest division and the Billings Travel Series and he has copped the Billings overall points championship. "I had a pretty good journey when you consider the Gold Cup was a the 10-horse field,"Oldford said after he won the Gold Cup. "I got lucky to find a hole early and although I had to go three-deep around Dave (Offernberg with Fiji) my horse cleared them quickly before the half and we raced toward Joe (Faraldo with Tough Get Going) who was on the lead and we finally caught them and put them away in the stretch. "Then we had to contend with the late challenge from Tony (Ciuffitelli and On The Podium) but my old guy hung tough and we won the race by just a head, which in reality was as good as winning by a mile". Faraldo's charge held on for the show dough." Starsaboveallerage, a 7-year-old altered son of Angus Hall is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Allen Sisco. He paid $47.20; $16.40 and $11.20 across the board. In the Silver Cup Verruso's ride behind Landonfitz was a lot less complicated. "I got lucky to find a hole early and then had a perfect trip," Verruso explained. "Despite losing my whip at the half I didn't have to move until I came first-up when we headed to the three quarters and Landonfitz easily circled Dave Drew;s horse (Winwood Scout) and we didn't have any serious challenges after that. We cruised home an easy winner." Super Manning, driven by "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio, finished third just a head behind Winwood Scout. Landonfitz, an 8-year-old Jailhouse Jesse gelding is owned by the Allister Stables and trained by Eric Abbatiello. He paid $11.40 for win. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Wilkes-Barre, Pa---In a thrilling stretch duel Dave "the Rave" Offenberg got his venerable trotter, Fiji, up in the final strides to collar Winwood Scout and driver "Buffalo Bob" Davis to reel in the lions share of the $12,000 purse offered in the Billings East Regional Final on Saturday night (Nov. 17) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In a field reduced to six starters, Offenberg and Fiji departed from the pole position and watched as "Buffalo Bob" Davis and Winwood Scout get in a speed duel with On The Podium ("Yankee Joe" Lee) as the two leaders trotted by the first panel in :27.4. They were still side-by-side as they headed for the halfway point with Lee looking for room along the pylons but with Uriel and "Annie Get Your Gun" Stoebe tight on his back second over, no room was to be had as the trotters along the pylons kept all the holes closed. When the field went by the half mile pole Winwood Scout was on the lead with Fiji tucked in nicely in the two hole and On The Podium and Uriel parked on the limb. Winwood Scout was in command as he passed the third stanza in 1:27.2 with On The Podium still second on the outside. But when the field headed for home, Offenberg,,who was in the catbird seat, rallied Fiji as On The Podium began to fade. In the deep stretch it was Winwood Scout and Fiji... and Fiji and Winwood Scout.., as the two trotters battled all the way to the wire and after the judges posted the tight win-photo the victory went to Fiji and Offeberg in a time of 1:57.1. Tony "the Capo" Verruso, up behind Peoplesayimnogood, trailed the leaders throughout and rambled home for the show dough. Fiji is owned by Offenberg's Allister Stables LLC and trained by Eric Abbatiello. It was the sixth victory for Fiji this year which raised his seasonal bankroll to nearly $50,000. For Offenberg he notched his fourth seasonal triumph and 55th of his amateur career. Offenberg now joins "Marvelous Marvin" Raber who won the Midwest Region Final last week with Mikey Hanover at Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway and both drivers have earned the privilege to draw inside post positions in the $25,000 Delvin Miller Memorial Gold Cup Final at Yonkers Raceway on November 25. by John Manzi for the Billings Series    

Dayton, Ohio-- Although the seven-month CKG Billings Harness Driving Series is winding down this season the finals in both the Midwest and Eastern Regions, as well as the Gold and Silver Cup Finals, will be forthcoming. Tonight at Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway in Ohio the top point earners in the Midwest Region battled for a $10,000 purse but it was "Marvelous Marvin" Raber and Mikey Hanover who made a laugher out of the contest when they sailed to the lead and played catch me if you can, and nobody could as they trotted of to a four length triumph in a 1:56.3 clocking. But at the top of the stretch in that race Mikey Hanover had eight open lengths on his competition and he just coasted home an easy winner for "Marvelous Marv" With the starting gate in high gear when the field of trotters was turned loose Gregg "Fast Greggy" Kiedel sent the eight-horse, Nashville Holiday, to the front and they had command in a :27.2 first quarter with Mikey Hanover comfortable in the two-hole. Not content to follow, Raber moved Mikey Hanover to the lead before the halfway point and Mikey was full of trot and stepped a :28.4 third split to open a three-length lead over Kiedel's charge as he whizzed by the three quarters in 1:25.2. From there the only thing that was in doubt was how many lengths would Raber's trotter win by? When he headed down the lengthy home stretch Mikey Hanover had upped his lead to eight lengths and Raber sat cool looking around for challenges which never came as they crossed the wire an easy four-length winner. Fairground Drama and Richard "the Wolverine" Roach, who were traveling along in fourth position, rallied and finished second. Nashville Holiday, had broken equipment and faded to third. The winner, a 9-year-old altered son of Majestic Son , is owned by Leroy Keim and trained by Robert Coblentz. He returned a $14.00 win mutuel. The Billings, known as the granddaddy of all amateur organizations, will present the East Region Final at Pocono Downs next Saturday with the series Gold & Silver Cup Finals set for November 25 at Yonkers Raceway. by John Manzi, for the Billing Series

Monticello, NY--It doesn't seem to matter who Jennifer "the Golden Girl" Lappe races against; amateurs or professionals. She does equally well against both. Today(Nov. 8) at Monticello Raceway she had a driving double on the betting card when she won an amateur contest in race two, and then came right back with a victory against professional drivers in race three. And currently "the Golden Girl" is ringing up stats that the professionals would be proud of. Her first victory was with Multitaskr Hanover ($4.60) in 2:00.1, which, by the way, was Lappe's second consecutive triumph with the Explosive Matter gelding. In today's contest"Coach Paul" Minore hustled Wygant Prince to the front but "Yankee Joe" Lee, with On The Podium, parked him to a :28.4 first quarter before he allowed Minore to take charge. At that point Lappe was in third position along the pylons after starting from the three-hole. When he field rounded the second turn and headed down the stretch On The Podium was still the race leader in a the :58.4 clocked half. As the field trotted to the third stanza Lappe moved Multitaskr Hanover off the pylons and made a serious challenge for the lead. As they trotted by the three quarters Lappe's horse tried to pull- up but expertly she allowed him to drift so as not to go off-stride and once she settled him they got back in the race. However, Ms Lappe displayed her displeasure with her trotter's drifting and she went to work on getting him back to strongly challenge On the Podium as they rounded the final turn. In the lane Multtaskr Hanover trotted to the lead and went on to a one-length triumph over On The Podium. Fiji, with Dave "the Rave" Offenberg at the controls, came from far back to finish third. Although she didn't have much time to hang up the lines after her victory and get Giddy Up Delight ready for the very next race, she did however, explain that Multitaskr Hanover lost his left front shoe in the post parade and they returned to the paddock to have it nailed on. "I was grateful that we found the shoe and that the paddock blacksmith nailed it in place; But it took quite a while," Lappe said of the ordeal that caused a big delay at the start of the race." When we did get back on the racetrack we had no time to score down and had to go directly behind the starting gate . And I think a cold start confused Multitaskr and in the race he tried to pull-up before the final turn. But what ever it was once I got him back heading in the right direction he was full of trot." After her three-length 1:57.4 pacing victory with Giddy Up Delight ($10.80)in the following race "the Golden Girl" currently has 35 wins, 43 seconds and 53 thirds in 288 seasonal starts, good for a .266UDR. Lappe has a big stable and as a trainer of record this season she has 92 wins in 557 starts good for a .298UDR. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

DAYTON, OH. - Account Rollover (Josh Sutton) tipped three-wide nearing the three quarter pole in what turned out to be the winning move in the Saturday (Nov. 3) night $17,500 Open Pace at Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. Sutton chose to sit near the back of the field during the :26.1 opening split, then moved into second-over position by the :54.2 halfway point. Sensing the heated early fractions were beginning to take their toll, Account Rollover was moved to the third lane as the field passed the 1:23 third timing station. Once getting the lead at the head of the stretch and opening up a couple lengths, the winning 7-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding dug down deep to hold off late challenges by runnerup Holdingallthecards (Jeremy Smith) and show finisher My Buddy Ninkster (Shawn Barker II). The final time was 1:52.1. Jim Eaton trains Account Rollover, who was making his third local start following place and show finishes in his first two. Robert Silberberg owns the 29-time winner who is nearing $300,000 in earnings. Dispatched at 7-1 odds, Account Rollover returned a handsome $16.20 win mutual. Excitement is building at Hollywood Dayton anticipating the return of Foiled Again next Saturday night (Nov. 10) for his final race in the state of Ohio. Patrons in attendance will have an opportunity to win a large Breyer replica of Foiled Again, win a double-seater jog cart ride behind Foiled Again (accompanied by driver Chris Page), or win one of dozens of smaller Breyer replicas of Foiled Again that will be awarded as pop-up gifts to random users of self-service betting terminals on that evening. From Dayton Raceway Media Department Gregg Keidel wins Dayton Billings Trot leg He doesn't get a chance to drive many times during the season but recently Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel has been performing admirably, especially with Nashville Holiday, Keidel has won two consecutive Billings trots with the altered 6-year-old son of SJs Caviar; the first two weeks ago at Northfield Park and this evening at Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. In many ways harness racing is no different from other competitive sports in that cliches are part of the game. In this industry,sometimes there is what's referred to as racing luck, which occurs often for many drivers of horses who happen to be the first under the wire. And tonight in the second race in Dayton, Ohio racing luck played big part in Nashville Holiday's victory when Keidel hustled his trotter to the lead and then parked Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and the betting favorite, Stirling Boudica, to a :27.3 first quarter before smartly grabbing leather. But Keidel's luck tonight was a result of his own making. After letting Oldford's trotter gain commend Keidel sat patiently waiting for the quick first quarter to take a toll on the favorite. But fatigue from the pacesetter was a longtime coming as Oldford and Stirling Boudica got first call by the half in :57.3 and then again at the three quarters in 1:27.2. At that point Keidel again made a wise decision by not moving off the pylons when Fairground Drama and Richard "the Lion Hardhearted"Roach came calling. And when the leaders straightened for home Fairground Drama had his head in front of Stirling Boudica's with Keidel sitting chilling along the pylons waiting to make a challenge. That came when "Fast Greggy" and Nashville Holiday shot down the passing lane and rallied to a 1-1/4 length triumph as the final time flashed 1:57.2. Fairground Drama held second and a tiring Sterling Boudica faded badly but still earned the show dough. The winner is owned by Jeffrey and Toni Arvin and trained by Jeff Brewer. He paid $9.60. It was Keidel's second seasonal driving victory and the 105th of his amateur career. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Northfield, Ohio--Winning Billings trots in the midwest region is getting to be a habit for Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. The talented reinsman from Michigan, who is also the vice president of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, scored an easy wire-to-wire triumph with Stirling Boudica in 1:58.3 Sunday night at Northfield Park. It was Oldford's second consecutive victory there. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite from the five-hole Oldford did what should be done when one has the best horse in the race. He sent the 8-year-old daughter of Malabar Man immediately to the lead in a :28.1 first quarter and once in command, and with no challengers, Oldford was able to tap the brakes as his mare led Tipontab ,and driver Cubbie Van Wagoner, to the mid-way point in :58.1. First to move was "Marvelous Marvin" Raber when he took aim at the leader with Buckeye Patty when the field straightened up he backside. But they never did get alongside the leaders, Around the final turn Stirling Boudica was in front with Tipontab still following her and at this point Oldford's mare appeared strong-- and she was-- and rambled home a two-length winner with Tipontab second best. Meanwhile, Buckeye Patty stalled, which allowed Better Call Saul and "Michelle the Belle" Ruvola to rally and both horses were inseparable for the show dough when they reached the finish line. Racing his stock at Northfield Park has been fruitful for Oldford. He won a Billings trot for the third time is as many weeks and he has been victorious in five of his last six trips to post. Currently with 12 wins and a .328 UDR, it has vaulted him into the running for National Amateur Driver of the Year, an honor Oldford won a few years ago. The winner, Stirling Boudica, is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Kody Massey. She paid $3.40. And for Oldford it marked his 142nd lifetime driving victory.. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

Monticello, NY-- To say that amateur driver "Yankee Joe" Lee is on a roll would be gross understatement. After winning the Billings Trot with Soul Train in 2:01.2 today (Thurs. Oct 25) at Monticello Raceway, Lee, the assistant locker room manager for the New York Yankees, now has three consecutive driving victories and has won four of his last five starts. Sent off as the even-money favorite in the six-horse field uncharacteristically Lee took his trotter of the gate and settled in fifth along the pylons as Brandos Muscle Man and Monica "the Norwegian Flash " Banca led the field by the first stanza in :29.4. "I took a chance taking Soul Train back at the start because in the past he never wanted to pass horses when we trailed but today he was definitely different," Lee explained. "He really surprised me when I pulled him going to the half and he easily trotted around Brandos Muscle Man and took command as we headed into the clubhouse turn." By the time Lee reached the three quarters Soul Train had five lengths on the field and at that point the only thing in doubt was the margin of victory. The lead over Brandos Muscle Man was opened to eight lengths as Lee and Soul Train headed for paydirt. Down the stretch Lee was looking for challengers but none came and they coasted home an easy 8-1/2 length winner in 2:01.2. However, in the deep stretch "Lady Jennifer" Lappe rallied Celebrity Blue Chip from fifth at the top of the lane to finish second, a length in front of Brandos Muscle Man. Soul Train is co-owned by Lee, Blindswitch Racing and the Good Friends Stable and trained by Jose Godinez. The 7-year-old altered son of Trainforthefuture scored scored his sixth seasonal victory and returned a $4.00 win mutuel.. For Lee, who was last years National Amateur Driver of the Year, it was his 11th driving victory this season and 48th of his career. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Northfield, Ohio--On Sunday evening, Oct. 21, ten trotters went to post in a mid-region Billings trot at Northfield Park and after studying the races betting patterns only three horses had a legitimate shot at victory and two were sent away by the betting public at odds of less than 2-1 with the third at 9-2. and when the judges posted the official sign Nashville Holiday and driver Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel (9-5) walked away with all the marbles. Keidel, who has delved in more aspects of harness racing than most, wasted no time in sending his charge to the lead from the two-hole despite a challenge from Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford with the slight (7-5) betting favorite, Santini. As the field marched to the quarter pole Keidel stepped on the gas and opened a position behind him for Oldford to fall in along the pylons which Steve did before the quarter pole timer flashed :28.4. Meanwhile, Michelle "The Belle"Ruvola and Better Call Saul, who started from post seven, got caught on the limb and they remained parked-out the entire mile. As the field passed the half in :58.4 Nashville Holiday was cutting the fractions and Santini tight on Keidel's back in the two hole. The order remained the same among the top two as Bob "Lumberman" Troyer moved Sneaky Sam into third place as they trotted by the three quarters in 1:29.4. Down the lane Keidel put the pedal to the metal and Nashville Holiday opened up a 2-1/2 length lead which he held over Santini all the way to the wire. Despite being parked all the way Better Call Saul chugged home for a third place finish. After five second place finishes and four thirds in 16 trips to post this season the seventeenth was a charm for Nashville Holiday who paid $5.80 for win. The 5-year-old altered son of SJ's Caviar is owned by Jeffrey and Toni Arvin and trained by Jeff Brewer. For Gregg Keidel, who has driven sparingly over the past decade, this marked his l04th winning drive. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series        

Yonkers, NY-- "Now that the baseball season is over I can concentrate a little more on my love of amateur racing," "Yankee Joe" Lee, the locker room manager for the New York Yankees said after he won a NAADA Trot this afternoon at Monticello Raceway. Well maybe it was that concentration Lee was referring to that enabled him to earn another driving victory when he won the Billings trot tonight (Thursday, Oct. 10) with On The Podium in 2:00.3 at Yonkers Raceway. After a wire-to-wire victory in the daylight at The Mighty M Lee found the winners circle under the lights with a covered trip after he gunned his trotter to the front and then sat comfortably in the two hole and followed Wygant Prince and "Coach Paul" Minore's lead. Although the 29 second first quarter took some sting out of Wygant Prince there was more stress for the old veteran when he didn't get a breather because he had to contend with a parked-out Gianni and driver "Mighty Matt Zuccarello. So while the aforementioned duo slugged it out on the engine Lee sat calmly in the pocket and was carried all the way to the top of the lane. Along the way Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin with Permanent Joy, and Bob "the Brewster Flash" Ciavardini with Baltimor AS, worked their way into contention by the top of the stretch but not before Joe Lee scooted around Gianni and everyone was chasing On the Podium to the wire.. However, nobody caught him as Lee had a driving double, albeit at two different racetracks. Baltimor AS was second best while Permanent Joy had to settle for the show dough. Unlike the Monticello trots earlier in the day this was a non-wagering affair. Jose Godinez trains the winner for Lee, Tony Nicometo and the Blindswitch Racing Stable. For Joe Lee, who drove initially in 2010 and for the next five years only when he got time off from his obligations to the Bronx Bombers was he able to enjoy the competition of driving a spirited steed. During those years he notched five victories in 88 starts but since then he's had 41 driving victories and a National Amateur Driver of the Year Award bestowed on him last season. And his 10 wins thus far this year puts him in contention for another award. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series    

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