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It's been about three weeks since "Hurricane Hannah" Miller has graced a winner's circle but today (Sat. Oct. 22) at Freehold Raceway the queen of amateur harness racing did it again, and for the 29th time this season. Hannah won the NAADA trot with Rocket Master in a time of 2:01.2. After starting from the five hole Hannah eased her trotter away cautiously from the mobile starting gate and slid Rocket Master down to the pylons ending up in fifth position some six lengths behind Trotalot and Bob Hechkoff who lead the six-horse field by the quarter in :29.2. When Dave Offenberg heard Hannah moving toward the leaders going to the half he moved Bluebird Kidsqueen out in front of Rocket Master which gave cover to Ms. Miller's mount. Hannah followed Offenberg up the backside and then went three-deep and by the time the field rounded that final turn Rocket Master was in front and trotting away from his competition going on to a 4-1/2 length triumph. Joe Lee, who followed Hannah Miller around the final turn with Lou Lou's Princess, ended-up finishing second. Bluebird Kingsqueen and Offenberg held on for the show dough. The winner, Rocket Master, a veteran 8-yer-old Glidemaster gelding , is owned by her driver along with the Nick Surick Stable and the Erv Miler Stable. Trained by Erv Miller, Rocket Master paid $2.60 for win. Now with 29 seasonal driving victories and still over two months remaining before the curtain comes down on the 2016 racing season Hannah Miller has a chance to extend her record of 32 wins in one season, the most ever by an amateur driver in the modern era. John Manzi

FREEHOLD, NJ – October 22, 2016 – A pair of Standardbred Development Fund finals for harness racing two-year-old totting fillies and colts alike were held this week at Freehold Raceway.  Each final was contested for a purse of $35,000. The two-year-old colt final was on Thursday (Oct 20) with a total of seven entries.  Driven by Pat Lachance, Backstage Pass left the gate from postposition eight to wire the field in 2:01 flat.  He’s In The Game settled for second, while Body Slam finished third. A son of Donato Hanover, Backstage Pass now has eight wins in ten starts this season.  Bred by White Birch Farms, and trained by Kevin McDermott, Backstage Pass has now earned $71,300 in his rookie season.   He paid $3.80 to win. Race three on Friday’s card was the final for two-year-old filly trotters.  Ez Passer driven by Jeff Gregory got away fifth to manage a second over trip behind Romancing Rachel before pulling around her halfway through the last turn stopping the clock in 1:58.0.  Romancing Rachel finished second, while Southwind Prius came in third. Ez Passer has three wins in twelve starts.  The Crazed, homebred filly has banked $75,308 this season for owner Joseph Jannuzzelli of Manalapan, NJ.  The Harder trainee paid $4.40 to win. Courtney Stafford

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno scored his 1000th victory Friday (Oct. 21) at Freehold Raceway guiding Fathers Amiga for trainer Chris Marino in 1:59. The 23-year-old native of Colts Neck, N.J. had his first pari-mutuel drive just five short years ago at this very facility with Mr. Bennett, which landed him in the winner’s circle. Bongiorno comes from a family of Hall of Fame horsemen. He is the grandson of the late Harold (Sonny) Dancer and the son of Robert and Barbara Bongiorno. A graduate of Colts Neck High School, he began jogging horses at 14 years of age at Showplace Farms. He knew after his first time out on the track this is what he wanted to do with his life. “Although every time I get to the winners circle, it is an amazing accomplishment, it is extra special to win with a family owned horse," Bongiorno said. This weekend he is programmed to drive two horses in his first Breeders Crown appearance in eliminations at the Meadowlands. The horses he will be steering are Regil Elektra for trainer Keith Armer and Southwind Woody for trainer Ron Burke. Freehold Raceway resumes live racing on Saturday (Oct. 22). Post time is 12:30 p.m. Freehold Raceway 

MANALAPAN, NJ – October 15, 2016 – This week Freehold Raceway hosted four New Jersey Futurity races for harness racing three and four year old pacers and trotters alike. The first of the four New Jersey Futurity races took place on Thursday October 13, 2016 for three-year-old trotters with a purse of $22,000. Dominion Beach with driver Marcus Johansson moved to take the lead from Inukchuck Chuck just past the half-mile mark, to win in 1:57.3. Inukchuck Chuck finished second while Heal The World came in third. This marks win number six with earnings over $170,000 lifetime for the Nancy Johansson trainee.  Ernst Gerbaulet bred the Muscle Hill colt. Friday October 14, 2016 continued New Jersey Futurity action with the two-year-old trotters battling for the $23,500 purse.  Andy Miller sent Southwind Prius to the front from postposition three only to relinquish the lead at the head of the stretch eventually finishing third. Bongiorno guided Southwind Woody around some road trouble to win in 1:59.1 holding off a late surge from Romancing Rachel.  The Muscle Hill colt bred by Southwind Farm of New Jersey notched his first lifetime win. The conclusion of the racing week held two races for pacers on Saturday October 15, 2016. The first of the two was the third race of the day.  The $20,300 New Jersey Futurity for two-year-old pacers was won by the favorite Every Way Out.  Driven by Tim Tetrick, Every Way Out wired the field from the rail position in 1:55.1.  The only mare in the race, Misqued out paced the other colts to finish second. Notenough For Me finished third.  This win pushed the If I Can Dream colt’s earnings to $181,805; Bulletproof Enterprises bred him. In the seventh race, another favorite, Boston Red Rocks dominated the $26,000 three-year-old pacer division.  Tim Tetrick coasted the Steve Elliott trainee to the wire in 1:53.4.  Bred by Andray Farms, the RocknRoll Hanover colt boosted his lifetime earnings to $876,785. Freehold Raceway also honored long time paddock judge Mike Fuschini in the eighth race on Saturday.  Drivers, trainers, and grooms joined Mike’s family in the winner circle to commemorate the loss of an amazing individual.  Mike will be missed by everyone whose life he touched. Freehold raceway resumes racing on Thursday October 20, 2016 with a post time of 12:30 pm. Courtney Stafford

FREEHOLD, NJ -- October 8, 2016 -- Freehold Raceway hosted two New Jersey Sire Stakes Standardbred Development Fund Finals for harness racing two year old pacers, on Saturday October 8. The $35,000 final in the colt division was won by Every Way Out. The Dylan Davis trainee made up for his miscue last week in the second leg of the series winning in 1:56.2. Driven by Joe Bongiorno the If I Can Dream colt notched his eighth win on the season. Bred by Bulletproof Enterprise of Pennsylvania, Every Way Out has boosted his earnings to $171,655. Deo Galileo just nosed out Sir Pugsley for second place. The one to five favorite Misqued dominated the $35,000 final in the filly division stopping the clock in 1:56.3. The If I Can Dream filly trained by John Balzer won both legs and the final of the NJSS Standardbred Development Fund series. This makes win number three of five starts for Misqued, bred by Steve Stewart of Kentucky. Rita Maid driven by Joe Bongiorno finished second, while Jordan Stratton and Designated Drinker took third. Freehold resumes racing Thursday October 13, 2016 with more New Jersey Sire Stakes action. Courtney Stafford 

FREEHOLD, NJ – October 6, 2016 – On Top Of the Rock and Steve Smith rally to take the featured event of the afternoon, the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Green Acres final for three-year-old filly pacers, at Freehold Raceway on Thursday (Oct. 6). The Karen Garland trained filly left from post position two to wire the field in 1:58.3.  The Rocknroll Hanover filly, bred by Goldfinger Enterprises of NY, dominated the field to push her earnings to $69,801. Eric Abbatiello and Heart of Gold held off a late charge from Chase Vendervort with Heatherjean to finish second. The feature trot race on the card was the $10,000 NJSS Standardbred Development Fund for two-year-old colts.  Kevin McDermott sent the favorite Backstage Pass to the track hoping for a repeat of the first leg, and the Donato Hanover colt did just that.  Jim Marshall called on Backstage Pass when the gate closed and never looked back winning by three lengths in 2:01.3.  This gives the colt; bred by White Birch Farm of Allentown, NJ, win number seven of nine lifetime starts.  Chili finished second while He’s In The Game followed in third. Freehold Raceway resumes racing on Friday October 7 with a post time of 12:30 pm. Courtney Stafford

Freehold Raceway was back in action with New Jersey Sire Stakes on Saturday afternoon. The $25,000 NJSS Green Acres Final for three-year-old colt pacers was held as a non-wagering race before the harness racing card. Two divisions of the newest NJSS races were held during the card, the second leg of the $10,000 Standardbred Development Fund for two-year-old pacers. Austin Rocks with driver Eric Abbatiello left the gate from the rail position and held off a quarter move from Perchance To Dream to get the win in 1:59.1. Rock N Roll Style was second while Perchance To Dream held on for third. The Rocknroll Hanover colt picked up his first lifetime win in the $25,000 final. Kerry Feyker-Weed and M Kenneth Weed of Egg Harbor Township, NJ bred the Stacy Chiodo trainee. The third race was the NJSS Standardbred Development Fund for two-year-old colt pacers; Deo Galileo, trained by Rick McNair, upset the 1-9 favorite Everyway Out. Driver Jeff Gregory avoided two breakers to brush to the lead just before the quarter. Down the stretch Deo Galileo held off a late surge by Sir Pugsley stopping the clock in 1:57.4, Firefox Hanover finished the trifecta. The If I Can Dream colt notched win number two in eight starts for the season, bred by MJG Racing Stables Inc and Louis A Willinger. The filly division of the Standardbred Development Fund had another upset. Steve Smith guided Misqued to take the lead from the 2-5 favorite Designated Drinker just before the half. Drawing away from the field the John Balzer trainee cruised to a four-length win in 1:57.3. Designated Drinker and Rita Maid rounded out the trifecta for the eighth race. The If I Can Dream filly remains undefeated in both legs of the Standardbred Development Fund stakes, bred by Steve Stewart. Live racing a Freehold will resume on Thursday October 6th with a post time of 12:30 pm. Courtney Stafford 

Two NJSS Green Acres finals for harness racing three-year-old trotters took center stage at Freehold Raceway on Friday afternoon. Both the filly and colt divisions competed for a purse of $25,000 each. The fillies took to the track for the first division. This was a non-betting race held before the regular scheduled race card. Southwind Venus with driver Lucas Wallin overcame her break at the half to edge out HS Baby Grace at the wire, Coco Truffles finished third. The Muscle Hill filly bred by Southwind Farms picks up her second lifetime win. Going wire to wire, Southwind Flash finished in front of Luv At First Site and Inukchuck Chuck trotting the colt division in 1:58.4. The Muscle Hill out of the Friendly Amigo mare won his fourth race of the season, pushing his lifetime earnings $99,824. Trained by Ron Burke and Driven by Joe Bongiorno, he paid $2.10 to win. Courtney Stafford

FREEHOLD, NJ – September 17, 2016 – It was a beautiful day for Freehold Raceways fifth annual Open Space Pace celebration.  The twelve race harness racing card featured two Lou Babic stake finals for two-year-old pacers.  The New Jersey sire If I Can Dream showcased his offspring in both finals. The two-year-old colt pacers kicked the day off in the second non-betting race off the regular scheduled card.  Everyway Out had his way again today, keeping his perfect record untainted in the $62,000 Lou Babic Final.  Tetrick sent his colt out of the gate to take the lead and hold off a late charging Deo Galileo in the stretch for the win in 1:56.3.  Trained by Dylan Davis this makes seven wins in seven starts with $154,155 lifetime earnings.  Firefox Hanover came in third. The seventh race was the Lou Babic Final for two-year-old filly pacers with a purse of $57,000.  Jeff Gregory moved his filly Designated Drinker just past the quarter and sailed home virtually unchallenged in 1:58.2.  Misqued finished second while Maiden Dream with driver Jim Marohn Jr. rounded out the trifecta to finish third.  The Chris Lems trainee Designated Drinker takes win number two on the season boosting her lifetime earnings to $78,820. Freehold will continue its New Jersey Stakes schedule on Thursday, September 22, 2016 with a 12:30 pm post time. Courtney Stafford

FREEHOLD, NJ -- September 16, 2016 -- The third race today at Freehold was the $42,000 Charles Smith Final for the harness racing three year old colt trotters. Dominion Beach driven by Marcus Johansson took the lead from Inukchuck Chuck before the quarter. Dan Dube and Steed put the pressure on just past the half, Dominion Beach was able to hold him off for the win in 1:57.3. Southwind Flash driven by Joe Bongiorno finished second while Steed was able to hold on to third place. This makes win number 4 for on the season for the three year old son of Muscle Hill, Dominion Beach trained by Nancy Johansson. The favorite Southwind Flash finished second, while Steed took third place, both Muscle Hill sired colts. Courtney Stafford

MANALAPAN, NJ -- September 9, 2016 -- Freehold held its first leg of NJSS Green Acres for harness racing three year old filly trotters this afternoon. The third race consisted of six New Jersey bred filly trotters competing for a purse of $7,000. The four to five favorite Jazebel De Vie wired the field in 1:58.3. Followed by Coco Truffles in second, and after a costly break Southwind Venus rallied to finish third. This is win number three for the Henrik Lundell trained Jazebel De Vie. The Muscles Yankee filly is owned and bred by Joie De Vie Farms LLC of Jobstown, New Jersey. The Muscle Hill filly Coco Truffles increased her lifetime earnings to $45,353. Southwind Venus, also a Muscle Hill filly was bred by Southwind Farms of Pennington, New Jersey. The second leg of the NJSS Green Acres for three year old filly trotters is scheduled for Friday September 19, at Freehold Raceway. Courtney Stafford  

FREEHOLD, NJ September 2, 2016 -- New Jersey trotters shine at Freehold Raceway. Two SBOANJ sponsored races were held today at Freehold Raceway, the Helen Smith Final for harness racing three-year-old filly trotters and the Harold Dancer Final for two-year-old colts. The Helen Smith was the eighth race on the card this afternoon with a purse of $30,000. The Julie Miller trainee Southwind Hope left from the rail position to wire the field in 1:58.3. This was her fifth win for the season and boosted her lifetime earnings to $178,973. The Muscle Hill filly was bred by Southwind Farms, New Jersey. Unica Steed finished second for trainer Jimmy Takter while Southwind Venus completed the trifecta for Marcus Melander. The ninth race was the Harold Dancer with a purse of $29,000. New Jersey Viking dominated the field winning by nine lengths in 1:57.3. Steve Smith drove the Muscle Hill colt to victory for trainer Ake Svanstedt. Bred by Winbak Farm, New Jersey Viking has three wins in six lifetime starts. The second and third place finishers were Long Tom and Fly On both Muscle sired colts. Courtney Stafford

On Saturday, September 17, 2016, the Open Space Pace will be coming back to Freehold Raceway in Freehold, New Jersey for its 5th annual Parade and Festival! The Open Space Pace is a nonprofit organization with a mission to celebrate the horse, New Jersey’s official state animal, and to promote open space in our nation’s most densely populated state, the great state of New Jersey. The Open Space Pace raises funds in support of non-profit organizations that promote open space in New Jersey. The scheduled events for the day will begin at 10:30 AM with a parade of horses from the Monmouth County Hall of Records to Freehold Raceway. We are proud to announce that the Grand Marshal for this year’s event is New Jersey State Senator Jennifer Beck. Senator Beck has continuously supported legislation that would expand casino gaming at racetracks that would increase purses for the horse racing industry resulting in a stronger equine industry and more open space. The parade features the Freehold Township High School and Middletown High School North Marching Bands, antique cars and various equine groups. Once at the racetrack, the festival begins with an opening ceremony followed by a wide variety of entertainment including a petting zoo, educational exhibits, live harness racing, vendor tables, food trucks and much more. Throughout the day, the Open Space Pace will have several college scholarship drawings. Any college student in attendance with a valid student ID will be eligible to enter the drawing for a scholarship. The CentraState Healthcare Foundation will offer health screening and fitness demonstrations on stage throughout the day. A concert featuring The Eddie Testa Band will begin at 1pm followed by Burlap to Cashmere at 4:30pm. The Open Space Pace has entertainment and activities that cater to all ages, so bring the whole family for a day of free, fun-filled excitement! The Open Space Pace is a perfect event for many occasions and gatherings, including corporate parties, family reunions and many other types of social or professional gatherings. The Open Space Pace is an entirely free event thanks to the generosity made possible by its sponsors. We at the Open Space Pace greatly appreciate our sponsors and continue to seek additional supporters of any kind. The event raises funds from sponsorships, ad journal sales, tailgate space sales and vendor booth sales. If you wish to support the Open Space Pace, or obtain more information, please contact Brett Taft at 732-577-4059 or by email at We hope to see you at the event!  Courtney Stafford

Harness racing's greatest traveling road show, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved back to Freehold Raceway for two trots in the eastern division of the series and when the judges hung the official signs Tony "the Capo" Verruso and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff each emerged victorious in their respective splits. Verruso scored with Sam's Honeybee in 1:59.4 while Hechkoff won with The Franchise in 2:01. No trotter has recently been more prolific in the Billings than Sam's Honeybee, a 10-year old daughter of Victory Sam. Beside her victory on Saturday night, her fifth of the season, Sam's Honeybee has had two wins and a second in her last three starts and has vaulted Verruso near the top of the Billings leaderboard thus far this year. After getting away softly from post five Verruso decided to go first-up with Sam's Honeybee as the field approached the halfway point which proved to be a winning move when favored Shanghai Jack made a break while traveling along the pylons which caused some confusion and allowed Verruso and his charge to gain command as the field headed for the three quarters. Once clear on the lead Sam's Honeybee opened daylight on the field and she cruised home an easy six-length winner over 24-1 shot High Flying, driven by James "Jimmy Boy" Marshall IV. Blazin Delores, in rein to "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello, took home the show dough. "She's been real good and the light rain made the track very much to her liking," Veruso said after his driving victory. "I knew there was a lot of speed so I just sat back and came first up and she was so up in the riggin' I just gave her a tap and she went by and took off." After being sent off as a longshot in her last three starts today Sam's Honeybee wore the favorites crown and returned a $3.60 win mutuel. She's owned by her driver and is trained by Carl Gillespie. Sent off as second choice in his split Hechkoff gave The Franchise a perfect journey. When "Bullet Bob" Davis gunned Wygant Prince to the lead from the three-hole Hechkoff left the gate swiftly with his trotter and fell into the two- hole behind Davis.Wygant Prince then cut the fractions and when the field approached the halfway point they rebuffed a challenge by Maurel N Hardy who was driven by "Hurricane Hannah" Miller. Davis then proceeded to keep Miller on the limb as the field approached the three quarters. Meanwhile Hechkoff, cruising along in the two-hole, bided his time and followed the leaders and when the field rounded the final turn Miller's trotter showed signs of tiring which allowed Hechkoff to rally The Franchise in the lane and collar Wygant Prince and go on to a length triumph. Maurel N Hardy finished third. Owned by his driver and trained by Kyle Spagnola The Franchise paid $7.00 for win.. Billings action continues with a western region trot on Wednesday, May 25, at Northfield Park followed by two non-wagering eastern region contests on Thursday, May 26 at Yonkers Raceway. John Manzi

Amateur harness racing continues to help fill overnight racecards at many tracks; case in point...the two divisions of the CKG Billings Series, the granddaddy of all amateur organizations, raced yesterday(May 7) at Freehold Raceway and the outcome of both events were interesting. In her split, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, fresh off an international driving competition against the top amateurs in Naples, Italy, returned to the familiar turf of the Freehold winners circle when she guided Jacks To Open to a stunning 18-length triumph in a 1:59.4 clocking. But what may have been more pleasing to those who enjoy wagering on amateur races was the payoff produced by Tony "the Capo" Verruso when he reined Sam's Honeybee to a 2:01.4 victory in the second Billings division which produced an eye-popping $96.40 win mutuel. Now some may say that "Hurricane Hannah's" win may was a Mother's Day gift but that line of reasoning is preposterous The talented miss finished an overall third in the recent Naples, Italy Friendship Challenge and last season earned the National Amateur Driver of the Year Award. And this year, again, she is a stalwart on the amateur circuit. "Jacks To Open was very good today and was well in hand the whole time and I was very happy with him," Miller said of her driving victory at Freehold Raceway via email. But how could she not be happy with her trotters victory? Once the gated sprung Miller sent Jacks To Open to the lead from the three-hole and they were a length and a half in front of the field as they passed the quarter in :29. A three- length lead at the halfway point was opened to eight at the third stanza and Jacks To Open finished 18 -yes 18--lengths ahead of runner-up Trading Places, driven by "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. Third place went to King's Cavalier with Dave "the Rave" Offenberg at the lines.. Co-owned by his driver and the Nick Surick Stable and trained by Surick, Jacks To Open paid $2.60 for win. The other split turned out to be a horse race with five horses all having a legitimate shot at victory as the field headed for home. But it was 47-1 shot Sam's Honeybee rallying late to score a neck triumph over Nautilus De Vie and driver Dave "Steady As" Yarock. For You Almostfree garnered the show dough for driver "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. "There were three good horses inside of me and she (Sam's Honeybee) is not the swiftest leaver but we were able to get away from the gate and secure a three- hole trip. I thought about pulling third- over at the half but they picked up the pace at that moment, so I ducked back down to the rail and was lucky to split horses through the lane to get up by a neck,". Billings president Tony Verruso related." Sam's Honeybee's win payoff of $96.40 was among the biggest ever in the 24-year Billings Series. The winner is owned by Verruso and trained by Carl Gillespie. Next up in Billings action will be a nine-horse field in midwest region action at Northfield Park on Wednesday, May 11. John Manzi

Ake Svanstedt says Dante possesses the ability to cover short distances extremely quickly. On Saturday, the harness racing colt used that skill to win the $140,800 Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway. Starting from post seven, Dante and trainer-driver Svanstedt blazed to the front prior to the first turn and coasted from there, winning the Dexter Cup by 1-3/4 lengths over Cufflink Hanover. Credevie finished third. The time for the mile was 1:59.4 over a track labeled good. Dante, part of the favored entry with Dominion Beach, paid $4.20 to win. Dante benefited from several horses --- including Dominion Beach --- going off stride in the first turn, which enabled Svanstedt and his horse to separate from the field by several lengths. Dominion Beach rallied from more than a dozen lengths back, going three wide at the halfway point, to get alongside Dante on the backstretch, but was unable to sustain his drive in the stretch. Dominion Beach finished fifth, beaten by 4-1/4 lengths. Dante and Dominion Beach won their respective Dexter Cup eliminations last weekend. "He's very quick and he feels much better this time after his last race," said Svanstedt, who trains Dante for owner Anders Strom's Courant A B stable. "He's in very good shape. (The horses making breaks) made it more easy for us. It was an easy race; not so fast." Dante, a son of Credit Winner out of the stakes-winning mare Michelle's Angel, was purchased as a yearling for $355,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale. He is a full brother to millionaire Archangel. Last year, Dante was winless in two races. This year he is 2-for-2. "He's a different horse," Svanstedt said. "He was very nervous last year. He was stressed last year and did not trot so good. He was always pulling. Now he is nice to drive. He's grown up and is a much better horse." The Dexter Cup is the first major stakes event for 3-year-old trotters on the road to August's $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Dante is not eligible to the Hambletonian, but is staked to races on the New York circuit as well as the Breeders Crown. Earlier on the card, Dazzling Dollars won the $58,000 Lady Suffolk Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters by a half-length over Southwind Hope in 2:00. Curikee finished third. Dazzling Dollars went off at 10-1 and paid $22.60 to win. Favored entry-mates Flowers N Songs and American Gal K both went off stride. Trond Smedshammer trains and drives Dazzling Dollars for owner Purple Haze Stables. Dazzling Dollars has won two of 10 career races and earned $128,624. The filly, by Cash Hall out of Designed To Dazzle, won a division of the New York Sire Stakes last year and finished second in the NYSS championship. Ken Weingartner

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