This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series fifth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features two $40,000 divisions on Friday (April 18) in the fifth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (April 19) card at Yonkers will see three $50,000 divisions in the fifth round of the George Morton Levy series for open pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: As has been the case throughout the 2014 edition of the George Morton Levy series, Foiled Again was once again at the top of the headlines this past weekend at Yonkers. The 10-year-old sauntered around the half-mile oval in 1:51 this past Saturday night. "That's what he's supposed to do," said driver Yannick Gingras after the gelding's fourth win in as many Levy series/season starts. Foiled Again was a narrow winner in his Levy division on April 12. Leaving from post position No. 3 as the stronger half of a 1-20 entry, Foiled Again had to work to get around P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett). He did so before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile and found a :56.3 intermission with Bettor's Edge (George Brennan) away third and A J Corbelli (Tim Tetrick) fourth. It was Dancin Yankee (Ron Pierce) then moving from fifth, engaging Foiled Again toward a 1:24 three-quarters. Soon after, Bettor's Edge -- who, as with Foiled Again, was three-for-three in this series entering the evening -- slipped out to race second-over. However, Bettor's Edge became very rough very quickly, soon jumping it off. Foiled Again owned a half-length lead entering the lane. His pesky rival wouldn't go away, but wouldn't go by, either. Foiled Again won by a head in 1:51, the fastest local mile of the season. Third went to P H Supercam, beaten a half-length. Mach It So (1:52.1) and Clear Vision (1:52.1) won the other two Levy divisions. Last Friday night's fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker for Open mare pacers saw three $40,000 divisions go postward. The first event saw Breeders Crown champ Shelliscape (Tim Tetrick, $7.20) get her first series win with a handy, down-the-road effort (:27.3, :57, 1:24, 1:52). Ramalama (Matt Kakaley) was unable to sustain a first-up bid, while Monkey On My Wheel (Brian Sears) could only match strides from the pocket. Monkey On My Wheel did get second, beaten three-quarters of a length, with Ramalama third. Defending Matchmaker champion Feeling You was also flying under the radar until Friday evening. Leaving from post four with Tyler Buter doing the honors, Feeling You operated from second-over. That didn't seem so opportunistic when pole-sitting Rocklamation (Gingras) rated a cheap half (:28, :57.3). Rocklamation maintained her advantage in and out of a 1:25.2 three-quarters, taking a half-length lead into the lane. Feeling You, left to fend for herself, continued her assault on the leader. She outgamed Rocklamation by a head in 1:53.1. The third and final Matchmaker had Yagonnakissmeornot (Daniel Dube) throw down the gauntlet with the fastest mile of the series to date. Leaving from post five, Yagonnakissmeornot made the first lead before yielding to the 4-5 favorite in Somwherovrarainbow (Sears). After a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and :55.4 intermission, it was Krispy Apple (Tetrick) trying her luck first-up. That one couldn't sniff the leader before a 1:23.4 three-quarters, with Somwherovrarainbow owning a 1-1/2 length lead into the lane. However, she was powerless to deny Yagonnakissmeornot, who edged from the pocket and rolled away. That final margin for the second choice was 2-1/2 widening lengths in a season's-best 1:51.4. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, 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 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 116; 2. George Brennan - 104.5; 3. Tim Tetrick - 80; 4. Brian Sears- 41; 5. Daniel Dube - 40. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 210.5; 2. PJ Fraley - 93; 3. Rene Allard - 40; 4. Joe Holloway - 25; 5. Kevin Carr - 20. Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 78.5; 2t. Burke Racing - 53.8; 2t. Weaver Bruscemi - 53.8; 4. Brad Grant - 20.5; 5. Joe Pennacchio - 20. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Northfield Park, Freehold Raceway, Meadowlands Racetrack and Yonkers Raceway. Northfield will host the Courageous Lady for 3-year-old filly pacers on Friday (April 25); Freehold has eliminations scheduled for the Dexter Cup for 3-year-old colt trotters on Saturday (April 26); also that day the Meadowlands will feature the W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old colt pacers; and action at Yonkers will continue that Saturday with the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy finals and consolations. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit
David Glasser and Paul Minore were each victorious in the respective divisions of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's (NAADA) Trotting Series at Freehold Raceway on Friday (Apri11).Glasser won with his own Grecale AS in a time of 2:00 and returned a whopping $41.60 win payoff, while Minore scored with his Wygant Prince in 1:58.1. Glasser's trotter went a solid mile after being first-up at the half and then rallying to the lead as the field passed the three quarters. Once on top Grecale AS coasted home an easy two length winner over favored Northmedo Wine Guy and Tony Verruso, giving Glasser his second victory in the series. His 28 points in the series is currently second best behind Bobby Krivelin's 35 but with only one leg remaining at Yonkers on April 17 Glasser is assured eligibility in the $14,000 series finale which will also to be raced at Yonkers Raceway, but on April 24. In his division Minore's Wygant Prince went an eye-opening trip and won in 1:58.1 after a two-hole journey behind Bob Hechkoff with Get Packin. That mile caused a little stir among some of the professionals drivers who were watching that amateur race and one was overheard saying with amazement after the 1:58.1 mile, "that's race horse time!". Minore has driven in only two series legs and with just 16 points he'll need a good showing on Thursday to move up and earn a spot in the series finale. Those drivers with the most points in the six-leg trotting will earn a berth in the $14,000 Final, that is, if they all enter. The current leaderboard is as follows: Bobby Krivelin (35), David Glasser (28), Dave Yarock (24), Bob Hechkoff(24) Bob Davis (21), Joe Faraldo (21) Tony Verruso (18), Monica Banca (17) Paul Minore (16) and Dave Offenberg (11). "I'd like to make it clear that the drivers who are among the top eight in points doesn't assure them a spot in the final unless they enter. So it's a good idea if someone is ninth or tenth in points they still should enter for the final race just in case someone in the top ten (in points) doesn't. And should that happen, the next highest in points gets first call," explained NAAADA president Joe Faraldo. by John Manzi, for NAADA
Two divisions of the fourth leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association trotting series went to post at Freehold Raceway on Friday afternoon, April 5 and when the events were declared official Bobby Kriivelin and Tony Verruso each emerged victorious in their respective splits. Krivelin won with Gimme The Loot and Verruso hustled Northmedo Wine Guy home first in their event. When it comes to amateur racing the name Bobby Krivelin needs no introductions. A three-time national Amateur Driver of the Year Krivelin is always a force to be reckoned with whenever he takes time off from his food sales business to jump on a seat behind a spirited steed and race for the sport of it. And for yet another time Krivelin out-foxed his competition and scored his 155th career driving victory when he guided Gimme The Loot to a convincing 2:01.3 triumph in their division. Perhaps out-foxed is not the right term, but whatever it could be labeled, Krivelin took advantage of it and worked himself a good trip behind the leaders in the early going and then rallied to victory in the deep stretch. When Bob Hechkoff gunned Get Packin to the lead as the wings of the starting gate folded, Krivelin jumped in the three-hole on the first turn and sat patiently until the backside the second time around. Although Get Packin still had command, Hechkoff's trotter braced for the challenge from Gimme The Loot and the two raced side by side past the three quarters and around the final turn. When the straightened for paydirt Krivelin mildly urged his trotter and Gimme The Loot responded and trotted away to a 1-1/2 length victory over Get Packin. Paul Minore challenged the leaders with a three-deep move as the field passed the third stanza but his trotter Wygant Prince flattened-out in the lane and finished third. It was the second victory in the NAADA Series for Krivelin and Gimme The Loot after having won a division on March 21. Owned by Alessandro and Marcello Spano, Gimme The Loot paid $4.20 fro win Verruso is another well-known name in the amateur circles especially as president of the CKG Billings Driving Series and he too, needs no road map when he sits behind a standardbred. He copped the second NAADA division with Northmedo Wine Guy in a 2:04 clocking over the race track now rated sloppy as the rain continued to fall in Freehold. However, Verruso's triumph was different than Krivelin's in that he made Northmedo Wine Guy did his trotting on the front- end. After starting from the two-hole Verruso rushed his charge to the lead and they had to endure challenges along the way; first and long, from favored Rose Run Nash (Bob Davis) and later from Nowerland Nathan (Dave Yarock). But Northmedo Wine Guy rebuffed all comers and the veteran trotter even drew off to a two length victory over Rose Run Nash who trotted the last three- eighths on the limb. Some Kinda Spunky took home the show dough for Alan Charles. Owned by G B Racing Stables, Northmedo Wine Guy paid $5.00 to win and for Verruso, it marked his 49th amateur driving victory. by John Manzi, for the North American Amateur Drivers Association
MANALAPAN, NJ -- March 27, 2014 -- Hall of Fame driver Cat Manzi is hanging up his driving colors after a 40-year career. In an exclusive interview with Gen Sullivan for "Harness Racing Weekend Preview," Manzi acknowledged that he would accept a position with the Cancelliere Stable at Magical Acres. "Usually all the other times [I was injured], I would just wait, work on it, get better and go on," he told Sullivan. "But I really can't take that chance anymore." Manzi, 63, was in the multi-horse January 10, 2014 spill at Freehold and suffered multiple fractures and a punctured lung only a few weeks after returning from a pelvic fracture. Manzi has career totals of 14,812 wins and $158 million in purses. For the complete story click here.
Three-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, Bobby Krivelin, made short work of the second division of the NAADA Trotting Series with Gimme The Loot when they coasted to an easy three-length triumph in a time of 2:03.1 at Freehold Raceway on Friday afternoon, March 21. For the 62 year old food purveyor it marked his 154th amateur driving victory. With this triumph, Krivelin, who also has a few classic race victories in his resume, ran his career earnings to over $1.32 million. In today's contest Krivelin left softly from the five-hole and found third position along the pylons for his trotter as Get Packin and Bob Hechkoff showed the way by the quarter in :29.1 and the half in 1:02. Once the field straightened up the backside the second time around Krivelin moved Gimme The Loot to the lead as they passed the third stanza in 1:32.3 and then cruised home an easy winner. Hardrockinjessica came from fifth at the three quarters to finish second while Sam's Honeybee garnered the show dough for owner driver Tony Verruso. Gimme The Loot is now two for two this year. The 9-year-old altered son of Credit Winner is owned by Alessandro Spano and Marcello Spano and trained by the former. He paid $4.20 for win. The NAADA trotting Series returns to Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, March 27, where David Glasser and Joe Faraldo were each victorious on March 6. by John Manzi for NAADA
MANALAPAN, NJ - March 20, 2014 - Spring is here, and so is harness racing driver Jeff Gregory. Gregory, who suffered a broken left elbow in a racing accident on September 6, 2013 at Freehold Raceway, will make his return to action on Friday morning, March 21, 2014 in qualifying races at the Meadowlands. The East Windsor, NJ resident expects to be back driving in races next week. Gregory's elbow was shattered and required extensive surgery and rehab after the spill. He had a second surgery on February 3, 2014 to have the pins and wires removed. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ Photo of Jeff Gregory courtesy of Helene Gregory
It was posted today on the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey website that a letter from Chris McErlean of Freehold Raceway to Tom Luchento, president of the SBOANJ received recently stated as follows: I have been informed by our legal counsel involved with our insurance company that any claim submitted for payment for damages of equipment involved in the January 10 accident at Freehold has been approved and payments are being made. There may be further claims out there but they have not been submitted and there have been claims on other items apart from racing equipment that are being handled separately. This letter is in reference to the starting gate accident that took out seven horses and drivers at the start of the fifth race on January 10, 2014 as the starting gate slid out of control and down along the rail into the field of horses. From the SBOANJ
Driver "Irish" Joe Hanney captured the St. Paddy's Day Pace today at Freehold Raceway with 60-1 long shot Real Mystical from post eight and paid $122.00 to win. The race featured eight drivers of Irish descent and was sponsored by Peter and Mary Grandich of Freehold, NJ. Real Mystical, owned and trained by John Urbanski, overcame a 12½ length deficit at the quarter mile mark to score a ½ length victory at the wire over Tulfra, driven by John Sheehan. "Irish Joe" was reunited with two of his former countrymen, Anthony Haughan and Jonathan Dunne, along with Corey Callahan, George Brennan, John McDermott, John Sheehan, and Jack Baggitt. Live racing resumes at Freehold on Thursday with first race post time at 12:30pm. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. Freehold Raceway Publicity office
FREEHOLD, NJ - - In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Freehold Raceway will be the scene of a special race featuring drivers of Irish heritage on Saturday, March 15. The winner of the race, which will be sponsored by Mary and Peter Grandich, of Freehold New Jersey, will receive a blanket and a trophy. The presentation will be made by Irish-American boxing great, Gerry Cooney. “As a harness owner and racing fan, I’m honored to be sponsoring the St. Paddy Pace,” said Grandich. “My wife, Mary, was born and raised in Ireland and we were married there, so I have a deep connection to the Irish people and culture. I’m looking forward to this 'green' day at the races.” The drivers scheduled to participate in the race are Jack Baggitt, Jr., George Brennan, Corey Callahan, John Sheehan, John McDermott, plus a trio of native Irish drivers, “Irish” Joe Hanney, Anthony Haughan, and Jonathan Dunne. Callahan, recipient of the 2014 Rising Star Award, currently leads all North American drivers in both wins and money earnings. George Brennan is a winner of more than 8,000 races lifetime and one of the sports leading drivers for many years. Baggitt, Sheehan and McDermott are all longtime Freehold mainstays. The trio of “Irish” Joe Hanney, Jonathan Dunne and Anthony Haughan is a reunion celebrating many years of driving and training together throughout Ireland, England, Canada, and the United States. Dunne, who currently resides in Ireland, holds the driving title in his country as well as in the UK. Haughan is a top driver in Canada closing in on his 1000 wins. This will be the first time for Haughan and Dunne participating over the Freehold oval. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. Submitted by Freehold Raceway Publicity Department
Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway will race three Mondays - February 24, March 3 & 10 - to make up for lost race days due to winter weather. The additional Monday cards will be drawn on Thursdays. A condition sheet for the Monday, February 24 card will be available on Wednesday with the draw on Thursday, February 20 (declare in by 9:00am). The balance of Freehold's draw schedule will remain unchanged: Saturday for Thursday; Tuesday for Friday and Wednesday for Saturday. Post time will remain at 12:30pm for the additional race days. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track.
When I was first elected as a United States Trotting Association (USTA) membership director in 1998, I thought that it was important to advance the interests of harness racing horsemen in every way possible. Electronic Eligibility was just the first of many helpful programs we were able to achieve. Yet, believe it or not, something as obviously essential as going paperless was met with much criticism and resistance. From that initial experience, I learned that very little USTA. business gets accomplished quickly; and rarely in unanimous fashion. As with any large, industry-wide association, there are competing interests. 2/3s of our Board is made up of membership, or horsemen, directors, and 1/3 are track directors. Even within these groupings, on many issues there are smaller factions that see things differently than others. Of course, the voicing of varied opinions is a good thing. When a different viewpoint on a subject is expressed, it allows for directors to pause and think about a matter in a light that they might not have previously considered. Unfortunately though, much never gets to the pause and think stage with 61 directors, because many decisions affecting members are being made at an executive level. Rather than the product of full and open deliberation, these pronouncements are decided behind closed doors by a handful of individuals who often look at things in lockstep fashion. Worse still, their edicts are often completely inconsistent, and smack of an attitude of pure track bias. For those of you who may not be aware, your Association executives in Columbus, Ohio have recently denied the membership application of a veteran horseman who maintains racing licenses in multiple U.S. jurisdictions, as well as in Canada. The reason for the denial? Well, you’ll just have to guess, because his refusal notice doesn’t even state why he was refused. Strangely for me, if numerous Racing Commissions deem him to have the requisite character and fitness to compete in pari-mutuel harness racing, why would our USTA exclude him? One could only guess that he violated some rule of our Association. Or is it really our Association? And what was the rule violation? Compare this to the longstanding state of affairs with a track member, Saratoga Raceway, who was in open and notorious violation of USTA rules. Those rules that we voted on and passed mandate that tracks maintain minimum medical insurance for drivers equal to the average daily purse account raced for during the previous calendar year. At Saratoga, the minimum medical coverage should have been in the six-figure range. Yet, for several years, Saratoga had maintained only a paltry $5,000 coverage for its drivers; a blatant violation of the U.S.T.A own rules. Despite being out of compliance for several years, the USTA. would not revoke the track’s membership. Because the USTA refused to act against the track member who was in violation of the USTA rule, the horsemen were forced to make concessions to the track to up that insurance Nice deal for a track, but a lousy one for horsemen members who found themselves left in the lurch because the USTA would not enforce a rule against a track member. Some directors rightly call the USTA the United States Track Association. So, while denying membership to horsemen for no explicit reason, the executives in Columbus flatly refused to revoke the track membership of Saratoga Raceway, despite its clear and undeniable violation of an important Association rule. This type of prejudice towards horsemen and favoritism towards racetracks is not simply unjust; it’s downright dangerous. Think about the tragic incident involving Anthony Coletta last November. Think about the drivers injured as a result of the starting gate skid at Freehold Raceway in January. Medical insurance isn’t important until, of course, you desperately need it. I am damn mad about the dual treatment of a clearly wrongdoing track member of the USTA and the risk to horsemen racing there, while the USTA turned its back on such violation for years but continues to penalize horsemen who have licenses in many states. Is the USTA carrying water for track operators who want the industry to think that they have integrity at their place and no one else does, while their "proof”, or the lack of it, is not sufficient for a state to suspend a horsemen's credential in that state? What additional exposure does the USTA have when, God forbid, a horrible accident befalls a horseman at a track with less than the minimum insurance because the USTA has not enforced its own rule? It may be an increase in your dues that pays for this failure when their lawyers come seeking recourse. This ‘tale of two cities’ has to stop. As a horsemen’s director, along with others, our top priority right now is to change how the decision making process at the U.S.T.A. works. When a state licenses a member, unless the state suspends him he/ she should have full membership in the USTA. When he violates a state rule he should suffer a loss of our USTA credential. The USTA is wasting a lot of time, effort and money in an area that clearly belongs to state licensing agencies. Enough is enough. Let's stop having track operators use their influence at the USTA to make villains out of licensed horsemen. Respectfully, JOHN BRENNAN John Brennan is chairman of USTA District 12. A native of Rockaway Beach, N.Y., Brennan finished school in 1968 and worked as a steamfitter for four years before he began his career in harness racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He has been training horses for more than 30 years, racing stables in New York and New Jersey. He won the 1995 Merrie Annabelle with Missy Will Do It. Was previously part-owner and trainer of Sugar Trader, winner of the 2003 Yonkers Trot and runner-up in the 2003 Hambletonian. He has been on the board of the SBOA of NY for more than 20 years, an HHI delegate for more than 15 years, and a USTA director for 13 years. He is currently the horsemen's representative at Yonkers Raceway. To discuss further go to harnessracingforum or leave a comment below. Editor's Note: HARNESSLINK website is pleased to present appropriate viewpoints and opinions from around the Harness Racing industry. The views contained in these “op-ed” pieces are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of HARNESSLINK.
MANALAPAN, NJ - February 18, 2014 - The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey and Freehold Raceway have agreed to the addition of three Mondays - February 24, March 3 and March 10 - to the Freehold live racing schedule to make up for some of the cards lost to snowstorms this winter. Further decisions, regarding two additional canceled dates, will be addressed in the near future. Details for the draw schedule for the three Mondays will be forthcoming. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ
Freehold, NJ – Freehold Raceway will offer a special 10 race card of live harness racing action on Presidents’ Day, Monday afternoon, February 17. All patrons purchasing a Freehold live program will receive a free knit cap (while supplies last). In addition, 50 cent hot dogs and 50 cent sodas will be offered. Post time for the first race is 12:30pm. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. Submitted by Freehold Raceway Publicity Department
Freehold, NJ - Freehold Raceway announced that live racing scheduled for Saturday, February 15 had been cancelled due to weather conditions. Live racing is scheduled to resume on Monday, Presidents' Day with first race post set for 12:30pm. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. From Freehold Raceway Publicity Office
Freehold, NJ - Freehold Raceway announced that live racing scheduled for Friday, February 14 had been cancelled due to weather conditions. Live racing is scheduled to resume on Saturday with first race post set for 12:30pm. Freehold Raceway is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track. From Freehold Raceway publicity department
East Rutherford, NJ - Due to the winter storm and treacherous travel conditions, racing at The Meadowlands has been cancelled for tonight. Please make note that the entire racing card, including the first round of Charles Singer Memorial will be carried over to next Thursday, February 20th. Therefore, if your horse was entered to race tonight at The Meadowlands, he or she is now in to go at The Meadowlands Thursday, February 20th. With the cancellation, the first round of the Charles Singer Memorial trotting series will be pushed back to Thursday, February 20th. The second round will now take place on Thursday, February 27th with the Final on Saturday, March 8th. In addition, both The Meadowlands and Winners Bayonne are closed for simulcasting today as well. At present, both facilities are scheduled to re-open Friday at 11:00 A.M., with live racing at The Meadowlands scheduled to resume on Friday at 7:15 P.M. Monticello, NY -- Already with over a foot of snow on the ground and a forecast of 12-18 inches more tomorrow, Monticello Raceway has cancelled its Thursday (Feb. 13) racing program.Along with racing, simulcast wagering is also cancelled. Live racing will resume on President's Day, Monday, February 17 with first post slated at 12:25PM. Freehold, NJ – Freehold Raceway announced that live racing scheduled for Thursday, February 13 had been cancelled due to weather conditions. Conditions permitting, live racing will resume on Friday with first race post set for 12:30pm. YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, February 12, 2014—Stop us if you’ve heard this one before…Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its live racing program and all simulcasting for tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 13), due to another impending snowstorm in the greater New York area. Live racing (and afternoon/evening simulcasting) is scheduled to resume Friday (Feb. 14), with the usual 7:10 PM first post. Horsemen are advised that there is no draw tomorrow (Wednesday). A double-draw for Tuesday and Thursday (Feb. 18 and 20) shall be conducted Friday (Feb. 14), with the entry box closing at 4 PM. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627.