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FREEHOLD, NJ -  Lucy Lightyear won the $70,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes-Standardbred Development Fund Final for 2-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday at Freehold Raceway. She repeated her winning ways from the second leg, and went right to the lead and never looked back in 1:57. Stacy Chiodo trains and drives the winner for owner Timothy Tobias.Ready Set Rock was a close second with Git Go coming in third. New Jersey Sires Stakes action returns to Freehold with more Standardbred Development Fund Stakes on Friday, September 20, 2019, with the 2-year-old trot finals. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

FREEHOLD, NJ — September 2, 2019 — This weekend Freehold hosted $10,000 first legs of the New Jersey Sire Stakes Standardbred Development Fund for harness racing 2-Year-Olds.  On Friday (Aug 30), the Julie Miller trainee Contepartiro Deo lunged past the odds on favorite, Heart N Soul Deo to win the first leg of the SDF for 2-Year-Old filly trotters. Andy Miller set Contepartiro Deo in the two hole for a pocket trip behind the favorite. The daughter of Muscle Hill took her first win of the season in 2:00.0 for owners Andy Miller Stable Inc., Little E LLC, and Deo Volente Farms LLC.  Heart N Soul Deo was a close second with Tricky Sister finishing third. The 2-Year-Old SDF pacers took the stage at Freehold Raceway on Saturday (Aug 31) with two divisions for colts and fillies alike.  The first two legs took place as non-betting races before the actual racing card. Follow Your Heart took the first division for colt pacers on the day in the non-betting race for trainer Aaron Lambert.  George Brennan steered the Rock N Roll Heaven colt to a wire to wire victory in 1:57.4 last quarter in 28.4.  Southwind Dredge finished second and Rockin Jukebox came in third. The fillies first division of leg one went to the Tony Alagna trainee Odds On Hollywood, giving driver George Brennan his second win of the day.  The Captaintreacherous filly nosed out Ap Emily’s Dance in 2:00.0.  Ready Set Rock finished third. The second division for the pacing colts on the regularly scheduled racing card was won by Rockin The Gates for trainer Steve Le Blanc.  Driver Andy Miller pulled Rockin The Gates behind odds on favorite Columbo for a second over trip and then surged past him in the lane to stop the clock in 1:56.2.  This makes win number two for the Rock N Roll Heaven colt and a new lifetime mark.  Columbo finished second with JK Lucky Charms coming in third. The final division of the first leg of SDF for filly pacers was once again won by driver George Brennan and trainer Tony Alagna with Caviart Heather.  Caviart Heather stalked the field from the fifth position to make a late move in the stretch to take the win in 1:57.3.  The Somebeachsomewhere filly captured her first win of the season for owners Caviart Farms.  Git Go came in a close second with Lucy Lightyear finishing third. The SDF action will continue next weekend at Freehold Raceway on Friday and Saturday with post times of 12:30 pm.   Courtney Stafford

Freehold, NJ-- "Hurricane Hannah" Miller is back where she belongs..at the head of the harness racing class. The talented miss and two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year (2015 & 2016) notched her 101st career driving victory this afternoon at Freehold Raceway when she guided Fiji to a stunning 2:00.3 come from behind triumph in a $9,000 Eastern Region Billings Trot. Subbing for usual driver, and owner, Dave "the Rave" Offenberg, Ms Miller fit her mount like a glove and got him to respond to victory, the horse's third of the season. "We left swiftly from the six hole and settled-in third along the pylons," she said. "When I moved him first-up at the half he marched forward toward the leader--Joe Faraldo with Tough Get Going-- and slowly Fiji began closing the gap." .On the final turn Fiji was just a short length behind Faraldo's trotter. "We didn't collar Tough Get Going until we straightened for home but when we did Fiji was strong and in the lane and we went on to a length victory, "Hannah added. "He was a real pleasure to drive" Broadway Bruiser finished third for "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello. Trained by Eric Abbatiello Fiji paid $13.00 for win. During the 2015 season Hannah won 32 races and the following year she also won 32 races. She had 22 winners in 2017, the last year she participated regularly in amateur racing. Now primarily a sales person for equine medications her chances to jump up behind a spirited steed are limited. But when time permits Hannah gets back to what she loves-- driving harness horses. by John Manz,i for the Billings Series  

Freehold, NJ — After a three-month hiatus, harness racing is set to return to Freehold Raceway on Friday (Aug. 30), when the venerable Freehold, N.J.-based harness racing oval kicks off its summer/fall portion of the meet. Live racing will be conducted every Friday and Saturday, with a first post time of 12:30 p.m. (ET). The headliners of the schedule include New Jersey Sire Stakes action for 2- and 3-year-olds. The 2-year-old finals are scheduled for September, while the 3-year-old finals will take place in October. The last weekend of October features the Garden State Trot, carrying a purse of $50,000. The 3-year-old filly division will go on Oct. 25, while the male division is scheduled for Oct. 26. Freehold will also be home to the eighth annual Open Space Pace day on Sept. 21. The event is dedicated to the preservation and protection of open space in New Jersey. It will kick off with a parade in downtown Freehold, followed by a great day of harness action. Bettors can expect the same wagering menu as before, including two $1 Pick-3s and two $1 Pick-4s per day. The 50-cent Pick-5 will begin in race five every day. Both the Pick-4 and the Pick-5 have carryover potential. The draw schedule remains the same: unless announced otherwise, the draw for Friday will take place on Tuesday. Saturday’s draw will be conducted on Wednesday. The entry box will close at 9 a.m. both days. Qualifiers will take place on Fridays; the entry box will close on Thursday at 10 a.m. The first qualifiers of the season will take place Aug. 23, with eight of them scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Horsemen with questions can contact the racing office at 732.252.2322. From the Freehold Raceway Media Center

HARRISBURG, PA - John Pantalone, founder of World Wide Racing Photos, the track photographer presently at Harrah's Philadelphia and Freehold Raceway and previously for most of the Delaware Valley racetracks, passed away on Friday morning at age 76 after a gradually-debilitating illness. Pantalone graduated South Philadelphia High School, and received further training in electrical engineering through ROTC. He was laid off at the Boeing aircraft manufacturing plant in suburban Philadelphia in 1972, and with a friend began a photography business; one of his first clients was Liberty Bell Park, which led to the development of World Wide Racing Photos (WWRP), which he operated with his beloved wife Pat, who survives. Pantalone's WWRP was the track photographer at Brandywine, Liberty Bell, Garden State, Freehold, and Harrah's Philadelphia. The firm acquired a reputation for quick and quality development and production of track photography, to the point that at one point WWRP processed the photography for a dozen racetracks, including as far away as Golden Bear (Sacramento) in California. WWRP and Pantalone were at the forefront of several of the innovative changeovers in the racetrack photography industry through the years - the shifting from black / white to color photography and the change from film to digital photography being the two foremost examples. John's innovative mind brought about the start of the many of the oversize "tribute" photos that owners purchased to mark especially big wins with their horses. He and his firm were known for timely and courteous service, always willing to go "the extra mile" for their clients. In 1988 WWRP received Nike Photo Award for a special effects photo taken at Garden State Park. Garden State was also the scene of one of John's favorite racetrack memories, when in 1992 a campaign bus carrying President hopeful Bill Clinton stopped for a rally at the track, and the future President got in a winner's circle photo with "his namesake," Bubba Clinton, with Pantalone one of the few photographers authorized to record the event. On March 1, 2018, the Post Time with Mike and Mike podcast hosted an interview with Pantalone, which can be found online (https://extra.betamerica.com/post-time-w-mike-mike-harness-show-3118/). Funeral arrangements were not finalized at press time. Terranova Funeral Home of Haddon Heights NJ (terranovafuneralhome.com) will be handling these arrangements, and updates can be found on their website as they become available. by Jerry Connors  

Freehold, NJ--"Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio, last years Amateur Driver of the Year" fortified his 2019 harness racing credentials with a driving victory in the CK Billings Series Eastern Region at Freehold Raceway on Saturday, May 18. Up behind his classy old veteran, Super Manning, Pennacchio made a first -over move going to the half hold up for a 2:01.3 triumph. After starting from the four-hole "Joltin' Joe" angled his trotter to the pylons as Caravelle ("Buffalo Bob" Davis) and Uriel and Annie "Get Your Gun" Stoebe , battled for command past the quarter in :29.2. But as soon as Uriel was clear on the front-end Pennacchio moved Super Manning first-up and they had the lead at the halfway point with Landonfitz (Dave "the Rave" Offenberg) and Noble Warrawee (Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff) in hot pursuit. At the third stanza Super Manning had a length and a half lead which was opened to 2-1/4 lengths as the field headed for paydirt. However, in mid-stretch Offenberg, with Landonfitz and Hechkoff with Noble Warrawee ,came with a rush and the leaders were side-by-side as they approached the finish. But Super Manning would not be denied and held-on for a neck triumph over Landonfitz. Right there in the photo, just a head behind the top two, was Noble Warrawee. For defending amateur champion, Joe Pennacchio, it marked his 5th win this season and which increased his UDR to.314. Since first sitting behind a spirited steed in 1995 Pennacchio now has driven 182 winners in the USA, along with a few in Europe. Owned by Joe P Racing and trained by Allen Sisco, Super Manning paid $5.00 for win. Next Billings action will be on Friday May 24th at Scioto Downs in the series mid-west division.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series  

Freehold, NJ--It didn't take long for "Hurricane Hannah" Miller to get back in the winners circle. Today (May 11) the former two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year scored her first seasonal harness racing triumph when she guided Jacks to Open to a four-length victory in an Eastern Region leg of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series at Freehold Raceway. Now a sales rep for an equine pharmaceutical company it was only her third time in the sulky this year. "It felt good to be back in the winners circle again. I miss driving and as time allows I hope to do more of it again this season," she said. Sent off as the favorite from the six-hole in the eight horse contest Ms Miller settled in the two-hole when the field rounded the first turn as Annie "Get Your Gun" Stoebe showed the way with Uriel to the first stanza in :29.1. The ladies were one-two past the half in :59.3 but when they straightened up the backside the second time around "Hurricane Hannah" decided it was time to move. "My horse felt strong but I waited to move and when I did "ole Jack" put it in another gear and we had command as we passed the three quarters," Ms Miller said. "He was really super today." "Yankee Joe" Lee was aping Hannah's moves after the half and followed her up the backside with Talkaholic but after they both cleared Uriel it was apparent that Jacks To Open was the stronger horse. The veteran 9-year-old Conway Hall gelding opened daylight in the lane and cruised home an easy winner. Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff got up for the show dough on the $9000 contest. " I've been pursuing a professional career and it felt good to be back driving," the talented miss said after her victory which was her 98th from only 341 trips behind the starting gate. Co-owned by her driver and Nick Surick, Jacks To Open notched his 42nd career victory and returned a $3.00 win payoff, On Monday, May 13, a Billings trot in the Midwest region will contested at Northfield Park.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Winning a race is always special for an owner. But when Linda Schwaid and her husband Era "Ernie" Williams watched their homebred pacer Lets Get Real win his harness racing career debut this past Saturday at Freehold Raceway, it provided a rush that lasted for days. That's because Lets Get Real was no ordinary first-time starter. Lets Get Real is 10. "Just to see him race was special," Schwaid said. "To see him win? My heart was beating for days. I couldn't believe it. It was total shock. "We've had winning horses before, but not like this. Not after all the work we put in." Lets Get Real, a stallion by Real Desire out of Sea Squall, was born in April 2009. Schwaid and Williams liked the horse, but his development was delayed because of several physical issues at an early age. When Lets Get Real began to progress, Williams, who trained the horse, was slowed by medical issues with his heart and his spine. "We'd train and then we'd have to stop," Schwaid said. "It was on and off, on and off. Everything just went slowly. Our health was more important than getting to the races. "We do go out every day, even through the health issues, and take care of him. He's one of our babies."                                                                                                       --Ken Weingartner photo Last fall, Schwaid and Williams, who are stabled at Winner's International in central New Jersey, turned the horse over to trainer Mario Letizia with the hopes of continuing his development. "Mario loved him the day he met him," Schwaid said. "She didn't tell me how old he was," Letizia said, laughing. "I remember I saw him like three years ago when Ernie was jogging him out there. I kind of thought he was a nice-looking horse the first time I saw him. When I started dealing with him, I thought he was a nice horse. "He's good to take care of, actually. He's got some speed, he really does. He's got a bit of ability. I took him to Freehold to school him before he qualified. He's like a 2-year-old (learning everything). That's why it was amazing the way he won. He was like a professional." Lets Get Real, who qualified once in 1:59.2 at Freehold prior to his debut, won his first race in 1:58.2 with Eric Abbatiello in the sulky. In doing so, Lets Get Real became only the second North American-bred harness horse in the past 30 years to make his first lifetime start at age 10 and win a race. The other was pacing mare Jodesaidno, who was a 10-year-old rookie when she won at the Stark County Fair in Ohio in 2009. So rare is the occurrence that Freehold's Director of Racing Karen Fagliarone called Letizia to make sure he had entered the correct horse. "She said, he's 10 and never raced? I said, yeah, that's him," Letizia said. "He always seemed good," Schwaid said. "He always seemed like he wanted to do it, so we just kept trying and trying. We knew he had speed, it was just a matter of being consistent with him and getting our issues straightened out. It was just getting everything in the right place at the right time. "It was really great (to see him win). Especially when you breed them and you see your baby come all the way to that. It really feels good."                                                                                                    --Ken Weingartner photo Schwaid and Williams first became interested in harness racing while living on Long Island, not far from Roosevelt Raceway. Williams, who was working for Grumman at the time, got to know a trainer and eventually was asked if he wanted to jog horses. "We fell in love with the horses," said Schwaid, who was working as a laboratory supervisor at a hospital. "We did it part time in the afternoons while we were working and decided that when we retired we would do it full time. "It keeps you going. It keeps you getting up every day and keeps you going. It's rewarding to go out there and see them. It brings you out of a lot of misery." It has been especially helpful in providing a pleasant diversion for Williams, who is 76. "It gives my husband hope," Schwaid said. "It's inspirational for him. He comes every afternoon and helps feed and he will walk him around." Schwaid and Williams have one other homebred racing at this time, a 6-year-old pacing mare named Arts And Flowers. Three days after Lets Get Real's victory, she won at Harrington Raceway, giving her 19 wins in 64 career races. Lets Get Real is not entered to race this week, but his connections are looking forward to his next start. And no matter what happens in the future, they will never forget his first. "It just proves it's never too late," Schwaid said.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com  

Freehold, NJ --- Osterc and harness racing driver Yannick Gingras made a three-wide move on the backstretch and overtook leader Cavill Hanover on the final turn on their way to victory in Saturday's $118,950 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old trotters at Freehold Raceway. Osterc, the 3-5 favorite, won by 1-1/4 lengths over HL Revadon in 1:57. Skyway Kon Man finished third and Cavill Hanover was fourth. The Dexter Cup is the first stakes race on the road to August's $1 million Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's premier event for 3-year-old trotters. Osterc is eligible to the Hambletonian, as are HL Revadon and Cavill Hanover. "He had plenty of go," Gingras said about Osterc, a 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who was making his seasonal debut. "He got a little bit bumpy going around the last turn, but other than that he was perfect. He had a lot of trot and he got the job done. As far as trot-wise, there were no worries anywhere." Osterc, who started from post six in a field reduced to seven horse by the scratch of Big Money Honey, got away in sixth place as HL Revadon went to the early lead. HL Revadon yielded the top spot to Cavill Hanover as the leaders reached the quarter-mile point in :28.2. Cavill Hanover continued to lead through a half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:27.3. Osterc, who began his move to the front just prior to the midway point and flushed the cover of Dexter Cup elimination winner Whirl Winds K, trotted the final quarter-mile in :29.1 to win for the sixth time in eight career starts. Osterc is trained by Per Engblom, who is in his first year with his own stable after spending the past six years as Jimmy Takter's top assistant. The Dexter Cup was Engblom's first stakes victory. He trains the colt, a son of Cantab Hall out of Oh Oh Hereshecomes who has earned $285,876 lifetime, for breeder-owners Christina Takter and Goran Falk. "That was nice, very nice," Engblom said. "Coming off the last turn Yannick said he hit the wheel and was close to making a break, but he had plenty of trot, so that was a good feeling. I was sure he had enough power it was just a question of keeping him flat." Osterc paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.40. Osterc One race prior to the Dexter, Gingras captured the $66,000 Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old female trotters with 6-5 favorite Magical Beliefs. The filly, trained by Linda Toscano, won by a half-length over Cardinale in 1:57.4 with Golden Tricks finishing third. Magical Beliefs, a daughter of Cantab Hall out of Frisky Magic who was making her seasonal debut, is owned by Highland Green Farms, South Mountain Stables, and R-And-I Farms. She has won five of 11 career races and earned $201,989. Magical Beliefs, who is not eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks, paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.40. Ken Weingartner

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

Whenever Harvey Eisman is given the opportunity to name a racehorse, he keeps it all in the family. It has nothing to do with harness racing pedigrees, but everything to do with his grandchildren. "It's a fun tradition they've done," said trainer Julie Miller, who trains Jason's Camden, a horse co-owned by Eisman that is named after his son-in-law and year-and-a-half-old grandson. "They get a little kick out of it." Jason's Camden can provide some more thrills in the weeks ahead. On Saturday (April 27), the 3-year-old colt trotter will compete in the $39,650 Dexter Cup elimination at Freehold Raceway. The top-seven finishers from the eight-horse field advance to the $118,950 final on May 4, where they will be joined by bye-recipient Osterc. The Dexter Cup is the traditional first stakes race on the road to August's $1 million Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters. Jason's Camden is among the Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the Dexter Cup, along with Cavill Hanover, Whirl Winds K, HL Revadon, and Osterc. Eisman co-owns Jason's Camden with the Andy Miller Stable Inc. and Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, which bred the colt. Jason's Camden, a son of Muscle Mass out of Palm Beach Chic, was purchased for $48,000 at the 2017 Standardbred Horse Sale, at which time he was named Palm Beach Muscle. "I'm only a part owner in these horses, but I do get to name quite a few and that's nice," said Eisman, a Michigan resident who has been involved in harness racing since 1977. "All the grandkids go in order naming the horses every year. It was Camden's choice since he was just born and his mother (Julie) came up with Jason's Camden." Some other current horses co-owned by Eisman include Alana's Brilliance, Ev's Girl, Zack's Got The W, and Luv U Bye Click, which is a reference to the way one of Eisman's young granddaughters gets off the phone with him. Jason's Camden won five of nine races last year, finished second on three occasions, and earned $67,750. All his victories came in preliminary rounds of the New York-sired Excelsior "A" Series and he finished second in the final. He also finished second in a division of the Simpson Stakes at Harrah's Philadelphia. "He was a pretty nice horse in New York for us, but one of those slow learners and kind of went through the motions to start," Miller said. "I feel like at the end of the year he kind of understood the program and wanted to do his job. "He handled the half-mile track really well (last year) so we thought the Dexter Cup would be a good opening race for him. He showed a lot of consistency last year. He's a nice big horse, an honest horse, very willing. Hopefully we make it to the final and get a good draw there." Jason's Camden, who is making his season's debut in the Dexter Cup, will start Saturday's elimination from post seven with Andy Miller in the sulky. He is 5-1 on the morning line. "He's pretty docile," Julie Miller said. "He just goes about his day and doesn't need constant attention like some of the others. But when you put the race bike on him and get him behind the gate he's all business. "He's primarily staked in New York but we threw in the Hambo. He would be a longshot for that race, but in case he ends up peaking at that time he'd be in there." Cavill Hanover, trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt, is the 5-2 Dexter Cup elimination favorite from post one. Cavill Hanover, also making his seasonal debut, won three of seven races and $67,193 last year. All three victories came on the New York Sire Stakes circuit. Osterc, who received the bye based on earnings, was last year's Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. He won five of seven races in 2018 and earned $226,401. He is trained by Per Engblom. For Saturday's complete entries at Freehold, click here. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) and the Dexter Cup elimination is race 10.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

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,

This Week: Dexter Cup elimination, Freehold Raceway, Freehold, N.J. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Freehold this week features a single $39,650 Dexter Cup elimination for 3-year-old open trotters. A field of eight will go to the gate in race 10 with an approximate post time of 3:30 p.m. (EDT). Complete entries for the race can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Western Fame was the top horse in the five preliminary rounds of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series and he proved to be the best again in Saturday's (April 20) $664,000 championship for older male pacers at Yonkers Raceway. The 6-year-old stallion won the final by 4-3/4 lengths over Rodeo Rock in a stakes-record-equaling 1:50.4. More The Better N was third. After an opening quarter-mile skirmish with Anythingforlove A and JJ Flynn, 1-5 favorite Western Fame settled into the lead and never relinquished the top spot from there. The opening quarter was reached in :26.4, the half in :55.3, and three-quarters in 1:22.3. Ideal Jimmy, who started from post eight and was fourth during the early goings, launched a first-over bid at the halfway point, but was rebuffed by Western Fame's :27 third quarter. Ideal Jimmy finished fourth. Dan Dube drove Western Fame, who had four wins and a second in the Levy's five preliminary rounds, for trainer Rene Allard. The duo won the previous two Levy finals with Keystone Velocity and also captured the championship in 2015 with Domethatagain. "Those fractions look kind of fast for him, but he did it nice and easy," Dube said. "Turning for home he gave me another run again. He's so nice to drive. He never gets tired." Western Fame, a son of Western Ideal-Shyaway, has won five of seven races this season and earned $446,300. For his career, he has won 21 of 74 starts and $1.48 million. He is owned by Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables, and Gilbert Short. His clocking equaled the stakes record set in 1993 by Silver Almahurst. Shartin N became the first repeat champion in the 11-year history of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, capturing Saturday's $402,600 final for pacing mares by 1-1/2 lengths over stablemate Bettor Joy N in 1:52.1. Apple Bottom Jeans finished third. Shartin N became the first repeat champion in the 11-year history of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series. Mike Lizzi photo. Feelin Red Hot and Apple Bottom Jeans exchanged the lead in a :27.2 opening quarter-mile, after which driver Tim Tetrick put even-money favorite Shartin N in motion from fourth place. Shartin N reached the front by the half, timed in :55.2, and was unthreatened the rest of the way. "When I knew (Apple Bottom Jeans) had to go hard to get the lead and let (Feelin Red Hot) go and retake, I thought I would take my chance and make (Apple Bottom Jeans) push the envelope," Tetrick said. "The fractions were still fair and (Shartin N) still ended up on the lead at the wire." Shartin N was last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer. She has won four of five races this season and earned $264,500. For her career, the New Zealand-bred daughter of Tintin In America-Bagdarin has won 30 of 42 starts and banked $1.39 million. Jim King Jr. trains Shartin N for owners Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King, and Tim Tetrick LLC. "She's got big lungs and she's a tough SOB," Tetrick said. "Week in and week out she shows up. When she puts her head on the gate she wants to race. She's proven that every week." Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 158; 2. George Brennan - 90; 3. Jason Bartlett - 87; 4. Daniel Dube - 77; 5. Scott Zeron - 75. Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. - 122; 2. Rene Allard - 77; 3. Ron Burke - 53; 4. Richard Banca - 51; 5. Ross Croghan - 43. Owners: 1. Jo Ann Looney-King - 45; 2. Tim Tetrick LLC - 41.5; 3. D R Van Witzenburg - 40; 4. Robert Cooper Stables - 39.1; 5. Royal Wire Products - 37. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Freehold Raceway, Meadowlands Racetrack, and Miami Valley Raceway. Freehold has the Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old filly trotters and the Dexter Cup final for 3-year-old open trotters on Saturday (May 4); Meadowlands Racetrack will host the Cutler Memorial for older trotters and the first leg of the Graduate for 4-year-old pacers on Saturday (May 4); and Miami Valley Raceway features the Miami Valley Distaff for older trotting mares and the Chip Noble Memorial for older pacing mares on Monday (May 6).   Paul Ramlow Internet News Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Pompano Beach, FL...March 19, 2019...Driver Matt Krueger was injured on Monday night at Pompano Park after a serious accident involving four horses occurred during the first harness race of the card. Krueger was piloting Persephonie and in third place midway on the backstretch when the leader, Open Skies, driven by James Hysell, suddenly went down with Krueger, Andy Shetler and Aaron Byron unable to avoid the fallen horse. Hysell, Shetler and Byron were, subsequently, cleared to participate but Krueger suffered a broken elbow, broken shoulder and punctured lung and is expected to have multiple surgeries to repair the damage. Driver Andy Santeramo, driving the eventual winner, Watchwhatmyfeetdo, remarked, "You know there are photo finishes at the wire every night at the races. Well, this was a photo finish--for me, anyhow--on the backstretch because, if I had been a split second slower, two more of us (including Mike Simons) would have been involved. This incident came without warning and, when I pulled from fifth on the backside, I just wanted to move alongside the leader around the final bend but my horse had a lot of momentum and a little voice in my head said 'just keep going.' We are all saying prayers for Matt (Krueger), that's for sure." by John Berry, for the FSBOA & Pompano Park

Freehold Raceway in New Jersey held their annual St Paddys Day harness race last weekend and fittingly two Irish born drivers finished first and second in the ever popular event. Jack Killeen from the suburb of Tallaght just outside Dublin, driving 3/1 chance Major Humor outgunned Joe Hanney from Blanchardstown aboard Black Hammer, a 10/1 shot, to claim victory in a mile time of 1:59.1 Driver of the winner, Jack Killeen, has recently taken up a five year visa to forge a career in harness racing and cited Mike and Heather Wilder as a source of inspiration and the primary catalyst for the helping to make things happen for the eighteen year old who has a handful of winners already racked up at the Meadows. Being so young he still doesn’t have his American driving licence and such was his sheer determination to participate that Jack Killeen embarked on an eight hour round trip by bus from Pittsburgh, PA, to take his place in the line-up. This trek was duly rewarded however and the victory will live long in the memory of the Dubliner. Hanney, the luckless runner up, and a previous winner of this event was ever gracious in defeat, shaking hands with the winner before posing for some pics which are almost certain to be framed and up on the walls of their family homes back in the emerald isle. Hanney undoubtedly must have felt some affinity to Killeen as he himself left Ireland as a raw teenager with an unquenchable spirit and a dream to make it stateside as a trainer and driver in harness racing. The race itself lived up to its billing and from the outset as Hanney and great rival George Brennan took each other on in a no-holds-barred early speed duel. Just as Hanneys Black Hammer started to get the better of Brennan's mount Dalton Did It and was starting to draw away from the field when along came Jack Killeen with Major Humour with a bold three-wide move at the three-quarter mile marker and despite Hanneys all-out stretch drive the fresh impetus of Killeens charge carried him past a battle-weary Black Hammer in the shadows of the post to win by three-quarters of a length. The race was well supported on the day by other drivers of Irish descent including Ron Burke and Bob Bresnahan and it’s a fantastic tribute to their Irish ancestry that these big names make the effort year after year to celebrate St Patricks Day at Freehold Raceway by taking part in the race. The Irish have earned a reputation for working hard and are recognised as accomplished harnessmen in the US and Canada amongst their peers with Stephen Loughran, Anthony Haughan, Ciaran Morrison and Robert Cleary amongst those who have successfully carved careers in the sport across the atlantic in recent years alongside Joe Hanney and yesterdays winning driver Jack Killeen. To view the St Patrick's Day race at Freehold Raceway click here. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

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