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MANALAPAN, NJ - July 18, 2014 - A late afternoon summer storm failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the 110 golfers who competed at the 19th Annual SBOANJ Golf Outing & Fundraiser on July 14, 2014 at Gambler Ridge Golf Course in Cream Ridge, NJ. A total of 125 golfers and banquet attendees feasted on a prime rib dinner. Numerous door prizes were distributed along with presentations for golfing prowess. Best foursome honors went to Kunz Equine Team of Simon Spicer, Mike Seddon, Shannon Murphy and Johnny Pregman. The "most honest" foursome award went to Jim Hogan, Jesse Johnson, John Hynes and Frank VanWie. Longest drive-prizes went to Hannah Miller, who won Kindle Fire tablet, and Jeff Bamond Jr., who received a Boze Bluetooth speaker Closest to the Pin was Simon Spicer from of the Kunz Equine Team, who won a 32-inch HD TV. Putting contest honors - and $145 - went to Kelly Breen. Frank Lomangino won the drawing for a Track Trainer jog cart, which was donated by Allen Eggert of Pennsbury Enterprises. The 50-50 winner was Garrett Federico, whose share was $895. Sponsorships, key to the fund raising effort which benefits New Jersey's standardbred horsemen in need, were provided at several levels. The overall tournament sponsors were Shay Cowan of Katz/Pierz, and Thomas Cordovano and John Macri of the La Ferla Group. At the Gold Level, the donors were the Meadowlands Racetrack; Drucker, Math & Whitman CPAs; Berman, Gara & Rutsky Group/UBS Financial Services; Joie de Vie Farms and Rollermagic Roller Rinks. At the Silver Level, the donors were Showplace Farms, Gaitway Farms, Federico's Landscape Design, Santoro & Santoro [Dennis Dowd], Valley High Stables, Freehold Raceway, Eposimato Stable, Mark Ford Training Stable, Nick Salenetri, Aetna/Meritain Health, Hambletonian Society and Val D'Or Farms. At the Bronze Level, the donors are Advocacy Management Group, Network Security Group, New Jersey Community Bank, Chris Ryder and Nick Surick. Additional fundraising was accomplished through the donation of goods and services by Bluestone Farms, Deo Volente Farm, Gambler Ridge Golf Club, Ellen Harvey, Meadowbrook Industries, Makefield Highlands Golf Club, Northwood Bloodstock, Pennsbury Enterprises, Reynolds Hay & Straw/Tribute Equine Nutrition, Rick's Saddle Shop/Purina, Baker Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram and Newport Graphics. Dinner, lunch and competition awards were underwritten by Martin Scharf, Deo Volente Farm, Berman, Gara & Rutsky, Electric Battery Company, Network Security Group, Nick Surick, Marc and Marcia Goldberg and Green Acquisition Corp. Hole sponsors were Berman Gara & Rutsky, John and Paula Campbell, Drucker, Math & Whitman, Thomas J. Durkin/ Joseph Spadaro, Green Acquisition Corp, Joie de Vie Farms, Katz/Pierz, La Ferla Group, Meadowlands Racetrack, Andy Miller, Ervin Miller Stable, Network Security Group, Rollermagic Roller Rinks and Suydam Insurance Agency. The SBOANJ golf outing is co-chaired by SBOANJ directors Ed Razzetti and Bob Baggitt Sr. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 2, 2014 - Rob Pennington, an award-winning caretaker and activist for Standardbred causes, has been named assistant racing secretary and program director for Freehold Raceway, effective August 2014. The Freehold meet begins on Thursday, August 28, 2014. Pennington, a 34-year-old Ohio-native who currently lives in Allentown, NJ, was honored as the Harness Tracks of America Caretaker of the Year in 2013 and has been a groom for the Noel Daley Stable since 2009. "I am very excited [about this new challenge]," said Pennington. "I wanted to stay in the standardbred business yet put myself out there in a position where I could better myself and the business. I am extremely passionate about the standardbred industry as well as the breed." Pennington is on the board of directors of the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization [SPHO] and has volunteered his services to the Open Space Pace Committee, the Riding Under Saddle program and the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. "I've worked with Rob on several committees, and I know how passionate he is about the industry," said Karen Fagliarone, Freehold's director of racing and racing secretary. "Although he has never had any race office experience, he is a quick learner. Aside from assisting in the race office in the mornings, he will be the attendant in the winner's circle and will expand our social media sites in the afternoons." Peter J. Iovino, the former assistant racing secretary at Freehold, accepted a position as racing secretary for Saratoga Harness. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

ABBOTT WAS DEPORTED FROM THE USA IN 2003

Gloucester Township, NJ - June 26, 2014 - New Jersey's fifth off-track wagering facility, Favorites at Gloucester Township, will open to the public on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Favorites at Gloucester Township Sports Bar and Off-Track Wagering, opened under a license granted to Freehold Raceway Off-Track, LLC, will be managed by Penn National Gaming, Inc., co-owner of Freehold Raceway and the largest operator of pari-mutuel facilities in North America. "It has been over a dozen years since Garden State Park left a void in the Southern New Jersey horse racing landscape. We are excited to finally bring off-track wagering to this area for the loyal racing fans in Camden County and the surrounding areas," said Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, Inc. Located just 15 minutes from Philadelphia and right off Route 42 on Blackwood Clementon Road, Favorites at Gloucester Township will have a total capacity for over 700 guests. Amenities include a fifty (50) seat bar surrounded by two rings of flat screen TVs; sixteen (16) self-service wagering terminals and five (5) manned teller stations; an upscale wagering area with over forty (40) individual handicapping stations; a 90 seat dining area and an outdoor patio with a bar and seating for over 50 people. In total the facility has over 130 flat screen television monitors. The menu will range from sports bar staples to nightly dining specials including many homemade items. "We think there will be plenty of options for the regular racing fan as well as the casual customer looking for an entertaining night out," said McErlean. "I think Favorites will continue the revitalization of the Blackwood Clementon Road corridor and is bringing much needed jobs and economic development to our township," said Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer. "I've been supportive of the project since Penn National approached us on their plans nearly two years ago," Mayer added. Favorites will open seven days a week at 11:30 a.m. Admission is free and all guests must be 18 or older to enter. The facility is anticipated to generate close to $1 million annually for purses at the state's four racetracks. "We think it will be a winner for our guests, the region and the racing industry in the state," said McErlean From Penn National Gaming, Inc.  

The rarest of all horses, a pure white Standardbred colt, will be the guest of honor at an open house to celebrate New Jersey's "Month of the Horse" at Fair Winds Farm in Cream Ridge, N.J. on Sunday, June 29. The colt, whose birth is a 1-in-200,000 occurrence, is named White Bliss and was born at Fair Winds in May of 2012. He was sold at public auction in November of 2013 for $240,000 and is now in training to be a pacing racehorse. Both his parents are bay and the colt was pure white at birth; he is not albino. White Bliss will be turned out in a paddock for some grazing time and relaxation and will be easily seen and photographed by visitors. The open house at Fair Winds, which is at 74 Red Valley Road in Cream Ridge, is from 1 to 4. The colt will be outside for the duration of the open house. Visitors will also get see some of the dozens of foals, baby horses, born each year at Fair Winds and learn how they're raised and eventually trained to be harness racehorses. Fair Winds is also home to Hogan Equine, a special clinic just for horses, run by Dr. Patricia Hogan. Dr. Hogan will show visitors the workings of the clinic, where hundreds of horses, mostly Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, are treated each year. Her client list reads like a "Who's Who" of horse racing, and includes 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Smarty Jones. Blacksmith Tom Mulryne will do demonstrations of how horses' feet are kept healthy by regular trimming and shoeing when needed. There will also be a few friendly horses for visitors to pet and groom. There will be kids' activities and information from the United States Trotting Association, NJ Farm Bureau, FFA , Harness Horse Youth Foundation, Pony Club, Rutgers Equine Science Center and the Monmouth County 4H. Fair Winds is one of New Jersey's largest and most successful farms, producing champion Standardbreds that compete at Freehold Raceway, The Meadowlands and all over the world. This is a rain or shine event. Visitors are asked to leave dogs at home and to be aware that there are very few paved surfaces on the farm, so it may be rough going for wheelchairs and strollers. by Ellen Harvey, for Harness Racing Communications

MANALAPAN, NJ - June 11, 2014 - The famous blue and gold colors of Hall of Fame driver-trainer Stanley Dancer will be back on the track Friday night, June 13, 2014 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Dancer's son, Ronald, a former driver-trainer, will don his late father's colors in an exhibition race, the 2014 Legislators Pace, facing off against three other legislators. Assemblyman Ron Dancer [R-12th District] will take on Senator Richard Codey [D-27th District], Assemblyman Ralph Caputo [D-28th District] and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande [R-11th District] in a race for charity. The winner's charity will receive $1,000 while the charities for the other three competitors will receive $500 each. The one-mile competition will take place between the first and second races. The legislators will compete in two-seater jog carts with Codey, Caputo and Casagrande each teamed with one of the Meadowlands' top drivers. Dancer will race solo. "I am coming out of retirement for this race and will be wearing my dad's silks, which I am borrowing from the New Egypt Historical Museum, where there is a wing in honor of my dad," Dancer said. "When I was racing, I always wore dad's silks, and I am really looking forward to placing Stanley Dancer's blue and gold silks back on the racetrack." Ron Dancer posted more than 400 career driving victories in the 1970s and 1980s before switching careers. He has been a member of the New Jersey legislature since 2002 and was mayor of Plumsted Township from 1990 to 2011. Dancer noted that there were a lot of similarities to his current life as a legislator compared to his life as a horseman, especially in terms of long hours. "As a state legislator in New Jersey, you represent about 220,000 constituents residing in your district that want to meet and speak with you during the day, and you have to be at the State House Capitol for voting sessions," he explained. "In the evenings, legislators have events and speaking engagements to attend. Also, just as in horse racing, both professions are seven days and nights a week. The weekends are prime time days and evenings to be at your job. "Political races are so expensive and, like it is in horse racing, it costs thousands to prepare and compete in the race with no guarantees on the results," he added. The Dancer family farm, Egyptian Acres, was located in the Plumsted community of New Egypt. Stanley Dancer campaigned many of the top horses of the 1960s through 1990s. As a driver, he posted 3,781 career victories for more than $28 million in purses. Stanley Dancer, voted into the harness racing Hall of Fame in 1969, passed away on September 8, 2005 and was buried in his racing silks in a cemetery that overlooks Freehold Raceway. "Dad will be looking down with such a smile to see his still familiar blue and gold colors back on the racetrack and on his son," Dancer mused. Dancer is racing for the Hornerstown Baptist Church in Upper Freehold Township, NJ. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

Muscle Hill, Muscles Yankee's greatest son and the 2009 USA Horse of the Year, has made a spectacular start to his siring career. In his first season he left 81 foals, and of these he had 56 to the races half-way through their three-year-old season, and 40 were winners with 33 in 2:00 and 10 in 1:55. Last year's leading first-season sire, Muscle Hill's progeny has earned $2.24-million in stakes so far. Muscle Hill's first crop includes the richest and fastest three-year-old trotting colt in North America this year in Trixton (1:51.4) and the fastest three-year-old trotting filly, Heaven's Door (1:52). Trixton, who has won four of his five starts, and Heaven's Door, won their respective $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Finals at The Meadowlands last month, with the former equalling the race record in a 6-1/2 lengths romp and the latter setting a new race mark. In fact, Muscle Hill sired the trifecta in the New Jersey SS colts and geldings' Final. Another of Muscles Hill's first crop, Fastdownthehill, captured a division of the time-honoured Lady Suffolk at Freehold Raceway at its first start in 2014, while Odds On Amethyst, one of Muscle Hill's six $100,000 winners, won at The Meadowlands recently in 1:53.4, handing Trixton his sole defeat this year. Saturday Mornings, a two-year-old Muscle Hill filly, won at The Meadowlands qualifiers recently in 2:00.2 including a 28.4 seconds closing quarter. Muscle Hill's frozen semen in Australia and New Zealand is available from Stallions Australasia representatives Peter O'Rourke, David Shammall, Greg Ryan and Daren and Gayle Garrard. For further information log onto the website www.stallionsaustralasia.com. From Stallions Australasia

SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York (May 28, 2014) – Saratoga Casino and Raceway is pleased to welcome Peter James (PJ) Iovino as their new Race Secretary. Iovino will be replacing Don Hoover, who is retiring at the end of this month after serving as Race Secretary for Saratoga Harness for 12 years.   Hailing from Brooklyn, Iovino’s lifelong passion for harness racing developed at an early age through trips to Monticello Raceway to watch family-owned horses. His involvement in the industry commenced in 1997 when he began as a program editor and chart-caller at Sports Eye, a Long Island based publishing company that produced multiple harness racing publications. After exploring other opportunities, Iovino returned to his roots as a chart-caller and Race Office Assistant at Freehold Raceway in 2006. He quickly moved up the ranks and was promoted to Assistant Race Secretary in 2008. Iovino also served as a freelance correspondent for the Daily Racing Form.   “PJ’s unique skill set and experience are a perfect fit for us at Saratoga Harness,” said John Mattarazzo, Director of Racing Operations at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. “We’re confident he’ll do a great job here.”   In his new role, Iovino will be responsible for creating the racing programs at Saratoga Casino and Raceway.   “This opportunity with Saratoga is truly a dream job for me,” said Iovino. “I couldn’t be more excited and I look forward to beginning a long and successful tenure with Saratoga Harness.” From Saratoga Casino and Raceway

Nick Surick, the leading harness racing trainer at Freehold Raceway, did not have a racing background when he became a horseman. All Nick knew was he wanted to be a part of harness racing industry any way possible. As of the 22nd of May, Nick leads as the top trainer at Freehold Raceway with 26 wins out of 118 starts resulting in $86,000 in total purse winnings for 2014. "I have no horse racing background whatsoever" says Nick. "I actually grew up in Freehold, NJ and I lived about five minutes away from Freehold Raceway which was a ten minute bike ride. I used ride my bike to the track to watch the races as a kid." Nick credits his mom, Debbie, for always supporting him. "Through the bad times she helped me, good or bad she always stood behind me. She always wanted me to be happy" says Nick. His parents divorced right around the time Nick was getting into the harness racing industry and it must have been difficult for him, for anyone in that position. What originally drew Nick to the track was the gambling component. Nick's father, Kevin, helped introduce Nick to this unhealthy lifestyle due to the fact that Nick's father had substance abuse issues and was a known gambler. "I was a gambler; I was actually thrown out of a lot of tracks for underage gambling. My father was an alcoholic and a degenerate gambler." Nick admits. "I was more hooked that way more than anything. Aside from the gambling back then, I think the horse itself intrigued me and I liked the animal so much that it was good for me. " "I really wasn't the best student when it came to school." Nick explains, "I really couldn't care less about school. I dropped out of my second year in college so I could train full time when I got the opportunity from one of my big owners, Howard Schneidler. It all came together at the right time. "Once I learned the backside to horse racing, that's when I lost the itch for gambling. It was about growing up, maturing and getting smarter." Nick says. "Now that I was physically with the horse, gambling was not an issue anymore." The fact Nick was able to break away and cut the cord, so to speak, speaks volumes. Once Nick established himself as a horseman, it came to the point where Nick's father was constantly causing Nick problems at the Raceway and in life as a whole. "He caused me a lot of headaches at the track" Nick says about his father. "With me training horses, it wasn't good for him. He started making things up, telling people to bet horses (based) on what I said which are things I never said. If I talk to him a couple times a year, that's a lot. He was hurting my livelihood. "I had to take a step back, even though he's my dad I had to cut him out." Nick admits. "I had to think about my future and hopefully I have a lot of years ahead of me. "Drug and alcohol abuse made him a person he wasn't." Nick continues, "He was nasty to people... when you're under the influence you become a different person." The best piece of advice Nick ever received was from Richard Annunziata and it was about Nick ensuring he surrounds himself with good people. "He told me this when I was 16 and I am 26 now but I still remember it" says Nick. "Surround yourself with successful people; surround yourself with people that are better than you.... If you surround yourself with bad apples, that's who you're going to be. "That's what I did" says Nick. "I cut out all of the bad people from my life. The people who were bringing me down." Once Nick graduated from high school, he admits he changed lives. Nick did a 180 degree turn to better his life and to develop into a better person. Was it easy? That's tough to say as everyone deals with changes in their own manner but knowing that change is needed and working towards that is a task in itself. What Nick did is commendable, not many people can switch 'tracks' in life and to do so at a young and impressionable age is astounding. When Nick got started, he first worked for fellow trainer Eric Abbatiello. "I never had anyone behind me to push me, I did it all on my own." After working with Eric Abbatiello, Nick and his (now former) partner Anna Glide joined forces. "We worked together for four or five years and the business grew together between us" Nick explains. "We went from two horses to thirty five horses almost overnight. "When it comes to owners, I am happy with who I have," Nick says. Once Nick finds people he is comfortable with and who he believes has a good heart, Nick is content and doesn't go looking for more. It's about quality, not quantity for Nick. "I've learned a lot from Erv Miller... like who to accept in your barn." Nick states. "My girlfriend Hannah is his daughter." Working with Erv, Nick says "I've learned to individualize each horse. Treating each horse as their own... treat each horse as a separate entity." "Anytime I need any advice, I can pick up the phone and call Erv," says Nick. "He has one of the best managed barns I've ever seen. His memory is unbelievable!" Nick is open when he admits he doesn't like change, right now he's very happy residing near Freehold Raceway and all the major tracks are within driving distance. "Right now I take it one day at a time" says Nick when asked about what the future may hold for him. "I'm comfortable with my 30 to 40 horse barn." When it comes to Pacers or Trotters, hands down Nick prefers the Pacers. "I just haven't had any luck with the Trotters" laughs Nick. Nick pulls double duty at Freehold Raceway where he drives as well. Nick only plans on driving at Freehold Raceway and admits it's a lot of fun. Nick considers driving more of a hobby compared to training which is his passion. Nick believes the harness racing industry is headed in the proper direction by pushing to have the major races showcased on National TV. "We need a lot more one on one interaction with the drivers, trainers and the public." Nick says. Nick credits the success of his barn to his employees, the second trainers, the grooms and most importantly his owners. "I'm nothing without them and their financial backing" Nick states. "I've got great people behind me; I've got to give them credit. Nick Surick can't take care of 35- 40 horses, it takes a team. There's no magic, its teamwork." Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin @supernovasportsclub.com or Twitter: ScSupernova        

Often overlooked when it comes to amateur racing is that, besides driving, a good many of the sportsmen are also owners and many race their own stock in the amateur events, especially in the granddaddy of all amateur driving events, the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series. And furthermore, these gentlemen drivers employ professional trainers. Take for instance the Billings Trot at Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon (May17). In that race the first three horses under the wire were, Mr. Jim Dandy, Get Packin and Gimme The Loot, and each was driven by its owner; Dave "Yes Its True" Offenberg, Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff and Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivelin, respectively. Add that to the fact that each of the aforementioned horses is under the care of a professional trainer and you get a glimpse of what amateur drivers bring to the table. In what was the fifth event in the year-long series, and third in the eastern region, Offenberg's victory, his second in the east at Freehold , has vaulted him to the top of the leaderboards, both in the east region as well as in the overall points standings board. Now with 29 points his total is two points better than that of runner-up Bob Hechkoff's. Now in his 17th season of amateur driving, Offenberg is coming off a personal best having won six races last year and now with two wins already this year he could be heading for a personal milestone. A longtime owner of quality racehorses Offenberg, a successful businessman, whose won 45 races thus far in his amateur driving career, earned his nickname after having been the owner of the great pacing mare, Yes Its True. In the Freehold Raceway contest last Saturday Offenberg and his trotter Mr Jim Dandy got away in fifth position from the six-hole and they used a second-over trip to wear down Get Packin and then go on to a 1-1/4-length triumph in a time of 2:01.3. Hechkoff's Get Packin held on for second while Gimme The Loot and Krivekin took home the show dough,. As aforementioned Mr. Jim Dandy a 6-year-old Classic Photo gelding, is owned by Offenberg and trained by the "Little Redman", Eric Abbatiello. He paid $11.90 for win. Next Billing's action will be in the eastern region at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, May 22 by John Manzi, for the Billing Amateur Driving Series

Westfield, IN- Although the posted deadline has passed to apply for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation's 2014 summer program schedule, the Foundation is providing a second chance to potential campers. Applications for several camps will remain open on a first come, first served basis, until each camp is filled, with a hard deadline of June 10, after which no applications can be accepted. HHYF's complete 2014 schedule information, along with applications for the Foundation's Youth Camps and one- and two-day introductory events, is available at http://www.hhyf.org/schedule-applications. The all-inclusive five-day camp fee is $150, while registration for single day events is $25. "Most of our camps are nearly filled," explained HHYF Executive Director Ellen Taylor. "But since camps are more fun when we have 'full fields', we are extending the deadline a bit. We also realize that several locations (Maine and Indiana) were added late and some schools have extended sessions due to the winter which may have made it tougher for some people to plan ahead." HHYF's popular overnight youth camps, for students 12-14, will be held June 21-25 at Harrington, in Delaware; July 14-18 at Vernon Downs in New York; and July 21-25 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, in Pennsylvania. These camps culminate with a driving exhibition on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands on August 2. These camps feature hands-on experience, including driving, using the organization's stable of Trottingbred horses. Shorter, introductory programs for children eleven and up are scheduled for the Indiana State Fargorunds on June 17; Ocean Downs in Maryland on June 27; Cumberland Maine on June 30, July 1, and July 3 (three separate programs); Cornish Maine on July 2; Gaitway Farms in New Jersey on July 30-31; and at Scioto Downs in Ohio on August 5. HHYF will also conduct special programs for equine oriented groups throughout the summer. The Foundation, which is dedicated to creating the next generation of harness racing fans, will also have a presence at the Fair Winds Farm Open House in New Jersey, the Little Brown Jug, the Hambletonian at The Meadowlands, Richwood OH fair, Open Space Day at Freehold Raceway, and at the Red Mile on Kentucky Futurity weekend. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people's lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to www.hhyf.org. For more information on this press release, contact Keith Gisser, hhyfkeith@earthlink.net or 216-374-1392. From the Harness Horse Youth Foundation    

Could it be that Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford is tuning up for his jaunt to Helsinki, Finland in early July for the harness racing World Cup of Amateur Racing Championship, or is it that he just enjoys winning races, something he's done plenty of over the past few seasons. Oldford will represent the United States when the best amateur drivers from 13 nations battle over four days of competition which will comprise the World Cup. And although the amateurs in the World Cup must have at least 25 career driving victories that is something that Oldford doesn't have to worry about even though he didn't earnestly start driving until he was 47 years old. On Thursday night, May 15 the Michigan native, now 56, added to his resume yet another victory, the 86th of his amateur driving career, when he drove TK's Diva to a 2:01 triumph in the Midwest region Billings Trot that night. According to Oldford, who along with three other Michiganders, traveled to greater Cleveland just to drive in the Billings Trot. "It was like Michigan against Ohio, since the three others were all from the Buckeye State, " he said. "It had been raining most of the day but when we were set to race the skies cleared and the rain subsided," Oldford said. "I had the five-hole with a catch drive (TK's Diva) and though she seemed to be overlooked in the betting (9-1 at post time) she raced real well for me. "We were three across the track on the first turn all fighting for the lead but my mare cleared and we made the front in a swift :28.1. But once on top I kept her rolling and we never got any challenges and we were open lengths in front the entire way." At the wire TK's Diva's margin of victory was three lengths over Love Ignites, driven by fellow Michigander Kelly "Sky" Walker who came from far back to get second money. Third place went to Texas Ridge driven by Buckeye, "Marvelous Marvin" Raber. TK's Diva is owned by Ohioans, Becky Zubkoff and Summer Zubkoff. She paid $20.60, $13.40, and $5.00 across the board and for Oldford it was his third driving victory of the year. Next up in the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series will be a trot at Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon(May 17) by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

Wygant Prince certainly had decent credentials going in to the Billings Trot at Freehold Raceway on Saturday (May 10) but it didn't appear that he was a 'stick-out' as he was rated second choice on the morning line at odds of 7-2. However, the bettors seemed to like the trotters chances and sent him off the odds-on 3-5 favorite and the horse and his talented amateur driver "Coach Paul" Minore solidified the backing supplied by the bettors and went wire to wire to win by two lengths in a time of 2:00. Minore, a now retired high school coach whose most famous pupil was Carl Lewis, the track and field athlete and winner of 10 Olympic medals including nine Gold, drove like an Olympic champ himself. "I figured I had a good chance and the bettors must have remembered that my horse won here (at Freehold Raceway) a month ago in (1) :58 and a piece, so as long as they had confidence in my horse I drove him like he was the best. And he was," Minore remarked. "Smokin' Joe Faraldo, on the pylons with Rodeo Red, left like a runner and parked all comers, Wygant Prince included. After most settled in behind him Faraldo grabbed leather and let Minore take command. "I saw that he (Minore) was 3-5 on the (tote) board so I let him go but we still smoked by the quarter in :28.3," Faraldo related. "I thought if I followed him (Minore) I get a good trip. I did, but heading to the final turn my horse started to lag so I tapped him a bit, something I never have done to him. He's racehorse sound but at that point he began to feel his aches and pains but he hung game and we did get third money." Bob "the Head-Hunter' Heckhoff finished second but his trotter, Tagmaster, went a tough trip. Riding along in third position Hechkoff moved Tagmaster first-up in the :59.3 half and they spent the remainder of the mile on the limb. Although Tagmaster and Wygant Prince raced side by side into the final turn Minore's trotter was the strong horse in the lane and finished a two length winner over Hechkoff's. Owned by Minore and trained by Taylor Gower, Wygant Prince paid $3.20 for win. Next Billing's action in the east region will again be at Freehold Raceway on May 17. However, Thursday, May 15 there will be a Billings trot at Northfield Park in the series mid-west region. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

INTERVIEW WITH IRISH JOE HANNEY

Well Built looks to bounce back from going off stride in the Dexter Cup elimination at Freehold on April 26 when he faces 10 rivals in Friday's $51,543 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Part of a Chris Ryder-trained entry with Walk The Walk, Well Built is 7-2 on the morning line and will start from post No. 1 with driver John Campbell. The field also includes, in post order, Sarcastic Man, It Really Matters, Lukas Hall, Deweykeepumnwhy, Keystone Wasabi, Who Wants Soup, Hot Type, Flyhawk El Durado, Trixton, and (from the second tier) Walk The Walk. Trixton is the 5-2 morning line favorite from post 10. Last year, Well Built won a division of the Simpson and his elimination for the Matron Stakes. He is a son of stallion Muscle Hill, who was the 2009 Horse of the Year, and his dam is Working Girl, who is a half-sister to stakes-winner Poster Pin Up. "He got jammed up in the Dexter," said Ryder, who owns Well Built with Robert Mondillo. "I was mortified about that. But he's fine; he's training fine. "I like the horse. He's got good speed. He doesn't usually make a break. I'm not going to say he's reliable - he was just unreliable - but he shouldn't have made a break. He had a horse alongside him and got a little anxious." Walk The Walk, owned by Ryder, Mondillo, Sidney Korn and Max Wernick, was unraced as a 2-year-old. The son of Muscle Hill-Letsjustalkaboutme has won two of four starts and $13,500 this season. "He's coming out of weaker company, but I like him," Ryder said. "He just didn't make it last year. He was ouchy last year, a big growthy horse. But here he is. I like the horse. He's alright. He might be a little understaked for what I think he might be, but we'll see. He's still immature. He'll be a good 4-year-old, I think." Ryder's Odds On Amethyst, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, is not eligible to the Simpson and is preparing for the start of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 16 at the Meadowlands. The gelding is a son of Muscle Hill out of the standout mare Mystical Sunshine, who was trained by Ryder during her racing career. "I'm really looking at the Hambletonian with that horse," Ryder said about stakes-winning Odds On Amethyst, who made his 2014 debut on May 2 by winning in 1:53.2. "I'm not going to say he's a top one, but he's got a shot. I think he's going to improve on his (1):53. I know he's going to have to, but I think he will. If he gets much better he's right there. "He's been a bit of a problem child. He's his own worst enemy," Ryder added. "The last two or three weeks he's improved. He's starting to realize he's a racehorse." Trixton, the Simpson favorite, finished second to Odds On Amethyst on May 2, also in his seasonal debut. Trixton is a son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Emilie Cas El, who was Canada's Horse of the Year in 1994. Trixton's family also includes past stars Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Angus Hall. Flyhawk El Durado, trained by Mark Ford for owner Martin Scharf, was the New York Sire Stakes champion last season and also captured a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes. He finished third in the May 2 race that included Odds On Amethyst and Trixton. Sarcastic Man, bred and owned by Bob Key, won the Dexter Cup elimination on April 26 at Freehold Raceway. He finished fifth in the final after getting stuck outside for the entire mile from post eight. Ron Pierce will drive for trainer Gail Wrubel. Sarcastic Man is 4-1. Lukas Hall is owned by New Meadowlands Racing Chairman Jeff Gural and former New York Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet. His second dam is stakes-winner Mars Bar, who is a half-sister to Dan Patch Award winner Pizza Dolce. Trained by Kevin McDermott, he won twice on the New York Sire Stakes circuit last season. Keystone Wasabi, owned by Peter Gerry's Kitefield Stable, last year won a Landmark Stakes for trainer Janice Connor and won twice on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit. * * * Dexter Cup winner Sumatra will get the weekend off and then head to the New Jersey Sire Stakes. "It's early in the year and I just thought we'd point him toward the sire stakes," trainer Tom Fanning said. "Really, the Simpson was going to be my starting point with him, but when he was ready early, we put him in the Dexter; I thought that was a good start. He did well and we just want to keep him fresh and be good all year. "We're just looking long term." Sumatra fits a similar profile as Possessed Fashion, a now 4-year-old trotter for the Fanning Stable and owned by Joseph Smith, as is Sumatra. Possessed Fashion was an $87,000 purchase late in his 2-year-old season who made $230,780 as a 3-year-old. Fanning cited the success of keeping that horse calm and relaxed by frequent turnout with another gelding from his stable. He's not quite ready to try that strategy with Sumatra, who has won six of 13 races and $169,095 lifetime. "We just gelded (Sumatra) in December and he's really still kind of a tough guy," Fanning said. "He's not quite as ready to get along with others yet." He then laughed and joked, "If I could have a nice, big Belgian draft horse that could just put a thumping on him one day, then he'd be OK after that. That's what he needs." * * * Rockingcam Park is the 5-2 morning line favorite in Friday's Reynolds Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers at the Meadowlands. She starts from post No. 6 for trainer Ron Coyne Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick. Starting inside of Rockingcam Park will be, from post one, McVita Bella, Blixtra, A La Notte Hanover, Gettingreadytoroll, and Fanticipation. To her outside are I Need Hotstuff, JK Molly, and Table Talk. Rockingcam Park won last week's four-horse Simpson Stakes, beating Ken Doll J by a nose in 1:53.2. It was her first start of 2014 after winning three of 10 races and $67,378 last year. "That was a nice win," Coyne said. "Last year was kind of a mixed bag. It's nice when you have a filly that you have a lot of hopes for, but she found herself in some unlucky spots and things didn't turn out the way we dreamed." Rockingcam Park finished second to Precocious Beauty in a division of the Eternal Camnation Stakes and was second in a division of the Reynolds. She went off stride in the She's A Great Lady Stakes and drew post nine in the Breeders Crown, where she finished seventh. She also made a break in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. "She's got big ability and a lot of upside," Coyne said. "She's a nervous filly, but if she gets herself where she's squared away, she has a lot of talent. A lot of it is just mental maturity." The filly is owned by Rockingcam Park Stable, Blair Corbeil, Erna Corbeil, and J&T Silva Stables. She is a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, the 2005 Horse of the Year, out of the Camluck-sired mare Cameron D Art. She is a full sister to recent Clyde Hirt Series winner Avatartist. Her family also includes 2005 She's A Great Lady Stakes winner Little Miss K. "Blair has a passion for Camluck broodmares," Coyne said. "That's the reason we looked at her. She was nice sized and stood correct; I couldn't fault her. We liked what we saw and took a shot." * * * The $33,516 Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters attracted a field of three horses and will be contested as a non-wagering event at 6:50 p.m. Friday at the Meadowlands. Annies List makes her 2014 debut, racing this season out of the stable of trainer Amber Buter after spending last year with Julie Miller. Annies List, who starts from post two, was purchased for $2,500 as a yearling and earned $92,969 for then-owner Andy Miller Stable. She is now owned by Oldford Farms and Tyler Buter. In 2013, Annies List won four of nine starts, including the $50,000 Fall Harvest for 2-year-old filly trotters at Yonkers Raceway and two legs of the New York Sire Stakes. Sweetie Hearts, owned by Bob Key, starts from post one for trainer Paul Reid. Sweetie Hearts, a homebred daughter of Angus Hall-Sweetheart K, has won four of 11 races and $56,505 in her career. Her family includes Key's 1993 Hambletonian winner American Winner. Thisgirlisonfire leaves from post three with driver/co-owner Jeff Gregory at the lines for trainer Linda Toscano. Gregory owns the filly with William Richardson. A daughter of Angus Hall-Back On Track, she will be looking for her first career win in her 10th start. She finished second in a division of the Reynolds last year. By Ken Weingartner and Ellen Harvey, for Harness Racing Communications/USTA

This Week: John Simpson Memorial Stakes, W.N. Reynolds Memorial, Arthur J. Cutler Memorial eliminations and TVG Free For All Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Meadowlands Racetrack begins this week on Friday (May 9) with the $51,543 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters, the $48,415 W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers and the $33,516 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (May 10) card at The Big M features a single $50,000 division of the TVG Free For All Series for open pacers and two $40,000 eliminations for the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Sophomore trotters and older mares of both sexes were in the spotlight last weekend with Grand Circuit action at Freehold Raceway and Miami Valley Raceway. Leaving from post No. 1, Sumatra and Brian Sears never trailed as they won the $115,370 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old trotters by 2-1/4 lengths over Derby in 1:57.4 on May 3 at Freehold Raceway. Sumatra, owned by Joe Smith and trained by Tom Fanning, is eligible to the Hambletonian. Sumatra was a 1:57.4 winner in the Dexter Cup final. Sumatra finished third in the Dexter Cup elimination on April 26 in his seasonal debut. It was Sears' first time behind the horse, which raced out of the stable of trainer Julie Miller in 2013. Smith bought Sumatra for $100,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale's mixed sale in November. "I didn't know the horse last week and he got a little wound up on me," said Sears, who stepped in as the driver of Sumatra after Andy Miller was injured in an accident in April. "This week, we tried our best to keep him calm through the post parade and scoring down and it definitely helped. He was a lot better this week." Sumatra, sent off at odds of 1-5, led throughout the race around Freehold's half-mile oval. Sears was able to keep King City and Dexter elim winner Sarcastic Man stuck on the outside for the entire race. Sarcastic Man and driver Ron Pierce, who started from post eight, tried to make a three-wide move around the final turn, but finished fifth. Second-place finisher Derby, third-place Donato's Wish, and fourth-place Sheer Action all were from the stable of trainer Ray Schnittker. In her first start of the year, Maven, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter, set a track record 1:53.3 in the $60,000 Miami Valley Distaff on May 4 at Miami Valley Raceway. A race earlier, after causing a recall, Shebestingin set her own track record of 1:50.4 in winning the $50,300 Sam "Chip" Noble III Memorial. Both new records were set in the first two Grand Circuit races ever contested at Miami Valley Raceway on the final night of the track's inaugural season. Maven posted a track record 1:53.3 clocking in her seasonal debut. In the Miami Valley Distaff, Rockin With Dewey led the field through the first quarter in :27 before driver Yannick Gingras guided the 1-5 Maven to the lead and never looked back through splits of :56.4 and 1:26. "I was a little afraid when we were hung on the outside around the first turn," said trainer Jonas Czernyson. "But she handled it pretty good and was really strong. Yannick never even pulled the plugs." The 5-year-old Glidemaster-M Stewart mare, who is headed for Sweden to race in the Elitlopp, finished 2-3/4 lengths ahead of early leader Rockin With Dewey and paid $2.40 to win. In the Sam "Chip" Noble III Memorial for pacing mares, She's Shocking was first off the gate and set the pace through an opening quarter of :27 before yielding the lead to eventual runner-up Yagonnakissmeornot, who led the field through splits of :55.3 and 1:23.2. Shebestingin stalked the leader first-over and gained steadily on the backstretch and through the final turn before taking the lead at the top of the stretch and drawing away for a 1-1/2 length victory. The winner paid $5.00. Val D'Or Farms, Ted Gewertz and L&L Devisser LLC own the daughter of Bettor's Delight-Armbro Tussle. 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. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 191; 2. George Brennan - 129.5; 3. Tim Tetrick - 110; 4. Brian Sears - 87; 5. Jason Bartlett - 79. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 305.5; 2. PJ Fraley - 135; 3. Joe Holloway - 72; 4. Rene Allard - 60; 5. Ben Wallace - 30.5. Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 118.5; 2t. Burke Racing - 77.2; 2t. Weaver Bruscemi - 77.2; 4. Brad Grant - 34.5; 5. Ted Gewertz - 28.05. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will again take place next weekend at Meadowlands Racetrack, with the final for the Arthur Cutler Memorial for older trotters, while Scioto Downs returns to the Grand Circuit with the LaVerne Hill Memorial for older pacing mares. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

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