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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

CNN Correspondent Richard Roth is a foreign affairs journalist by day, reporting from far flung war zones and the United Nations, but he’s always wanted to call a horse race.  He’s a former Standardbred owner and a long-time fan. On March 31, Roth did just that, calling a race at Freehold Raceway with the assistance of regular announcer Ken Warkentin.  The story of Roth’s day at the races can be seen on  The story has already run  multiple times on the CNN international feed.  The story was placed by the USTA’s Harness Racing Communications division.   

Harness racing trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and driver David Miller have teamed up to win a number of open stakes races in recent years, but never with a horse they owned together. That could change Saturday. Miller and Norman share ownership of Cufflink Hanover, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday's $140,800 Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway. The gelding has won four of 10 career races, including his Dexter Cup elimination last weekend in 1:57.3 --- the fastest of the three elims for the event --- and earned $70,914. Cufflink Hanover will start the Dexter Cup final from post three, with Miller in the sulky. Miller on Wednesday became the third driver in harness racing history to surpass $200 million in career purses. "We hope we can have a little fun with him; that was the idea," said Norman, whose major stakes wins with Miller include the 2012 Hambletonian Oaks with Personal Style and a 2009 Breeders Crown with Poof She's Gone. "We'll see how it goes. "He raced good last week and got a good draw. We'll have to see how the race goes, but he's going to show up there." 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. Last year's Dexter Cup winner, Habitat, reached the Hambletonian and finished seventh in the final. Less than a month later, he won the Yonkers Trot. In 2013, Dexter Cup runner-up Dontyouforgetit also went on to race in the Hambletonian and four years ago Market Share competed in the Dexter Cup --- he lost a shoe early in the race and went off stride --- and later won the Hambletonian. Cufflink Hanover, Dominion Beach, and Dante won last week's Dexter Cup eliminations. They are joined in Saturday's final by second-place finishers Steed, Sir Royson, and Inukchuk Chuck. Two third-place finishers chosen by lot, Credevie and Hillman, also advanced to the final. Dominion Beach and Steed are eligible to the Hambletonian. Stakes-winner Dominion Beach, trained by Nancy Johansson, and lightly-raced Dante, trained by Ake Svanstedt, will race as an entry because both are owned by Anders Strom's Courant A B. Dante, a son of Credit Winner out of the stakes-winning mare Michelle's Angel purchased as a yearling for $355,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale, is a full brother to millionaire Archangel. Cufflink Hanover was selected by Miller and purchased for $30,000 as a yearling at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. A son of Andover Hall out of the mare CR Savoire Faire, his family includes 1995 Horse of the Year CR Kay Suzie and multiple-stakes-winner CR Renegade. "When I broke him for David, I liked him," said Norman, who owns horses under the Enzed Racing Stable. "I just liked his gait. He had a great gait and a good attitude. He's a nice-looking horse. He was easy to like." Although Cufflink Hanover is not eligible to the Hambletonian, the horse's stakes schedule includes the Yonkers Trot, Currier & Ives, Keystone Classic, Matron, and Tompkins-Geers. "We didn't think he was a top-level horse," Norman said. "He's kind of a second tier horse, but he's a nice solid horse. He acts like he can get around a half-mile track good, which should help." In the Dexter, the entry of Dominion Beach and Dante is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Dominion Beach will start from post five with driver Marcus Johansson while Dante will leave from post seven with Svanstedt at the lines. Dominion Beach, a son of Muscle Hill out of the Dan Patch Award-winning mare Windylane Hanover, has won two of three races this year, including his Dexter elim in 1:58. A full brother to multiple-stakes-winner Muscle Diamond, Dominion Beach has won three of 12 races lifetime and earned $98,267. Dante won his Dexter elimination in 1:58.3 in his seasonal debut. The colt was winless in two races last season. Sir Royson, from the stable of trainer Linda Toscano, drew post No. 1 and is 7-2 on the morning line. Sir Royson, who has won three of six career races and finished off the board only once, will be driven by Jim Marohn Jr. Steed, trained by Richard Johnson, will start from post eight in the eight-horse field and is 4-1 on the morning line. Matt Kakaley is the driver. "The other winners of the eliminations drew outside of us, so I think we got the best draw of the winners," Norman said. "I think (Sir Royson) is pretty decent too. It's one of those half-mile track races and we'll just have to see how things go. We'll need a little bit of luck but he should be right there." Ken Weingartner

Saturday April 30th Freehold Raceway set the stage for harness racing three-year-old colt trotters in eliminations of the Dexter Cup. The first elimination was taken by Cufflink Hanover, the son of Andover Hall. He settled in for a two-hole trip behind the favorite Steed. Cufflink Hanover took the lead in the stretch to win in a brisk 1:57.3 for driver David Miller. The three-year old colt trotter is trained by Nifty Norman and has secured a spot in the Dexter final. Dominion Beach was favored to win the second elimination and did just that. Marcus Johansson and Dominion Beach held off a late surge by Sir Royson in the stretch to win in 1:58.0. Trained by Nancy Johansson the Muscle Beach colt looks to repeat in the final. Dante driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt took the lead from the word go and never looked back in the third and final elimination. The son of Credit Winner defeated the favorite Inukchuk Chuck in 1:58.3. The $140,800 final will be held on Derby Day, Saturday May 7th, at Freehold Raceway. The three winners will be accompanied by the three-second place finishers: Steed, Sir Royson and Inukchuk Chuck, and two of the third place finishers. Credevie, Cloud Nine Hanover and Hillman will draw for the two remaining spots in the final, by lot. Courtney Stafford

If there's one thing that Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff learned since he became an amateur harness racing driver is that when you have the best horse in a race go the front, control the race, and make the others try to catch you. And that's precisely what the Executive Recruiter did with The Franchise in the Billings trot today (Sat. Apr. 30) at Freehold Raceway. After they gained control nobody could catch them and they got first-call on every pole to go on and score a 2:00.2 victory in the six-horse race. "We had to work a little to make the front from the five-hole but once we were on top we controlled the race," Hechkoff offered after his victory."And my horse was strong all the way to the wire." Hechkoff and The Franchise had to hustle to get the lead from the five-hole but they cleared the other five horses coming off the first turn and they had command by the first quarter which was trotted in a swift :28.4. Once on the lead they made every pole a winning one en route to a neck triumph over Hit The Hill and driver "Yankee Joe" Lee. Third place went to Sam's Honeybee who was driven by his owner and Billings president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. It was the second seasonal victory for the Muscles Yankee 6-year-old gelding who is co-owned by his driver and his trainer, Kyle Spagnola. Sent off at odds of 3-10 The Franchise paid $2.60 for win. Coming off his best season as an amateur driver where he won 23 races durin 2015 it was "the Headhunter's" third seasonal triumph and 80th win since he joined the amateur ranks in 2000. A second Billing trot was also on the Saturday card at Freehold Raceway. That contest saw Scott “the driving doctor” Woogen, with Peoplesayimnogood, rally from third at the top of the stretch to collar “Coach Paul” Minore and Wygant Prince at the wire for a  neck triumph in 2:01. Third place went to King’s Cavalier, driven by “King David” Offenberg. It was the first seasonal victory for the 4-year old Lear Jetta  gelding owned by his driver  and trained by Gary Messenger.  Peoplesayimnogood returned a $14.20 win mutuel.  For Doc Woogen, a gastroenterologist, it was his 145th lifetime driving victory  Next up for the Billings amateurs will be a contest(s) on Saaturday May 7 again at Freehold Raceway. By John Manzi for the Billings Series

This Week: Dexter Cup eliminations, Freehold Raceway, Freehold, N.J. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Freehold this week features three $16,000 Dexter Cup eliminations for 3-year-old open trotters. A total of 18 horses entered the Dexter Cup, so each elimination will feature six horses. The first two finishers in each elimination will return for the final. The remaining two finalists will be drawn by lot from the three horses finishing third in the eliminations. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: The George Morton Levy Series for open pacers and Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for open pacing mares wrapped up this past weekend at Yonkers Raceway. Odds-on favorite Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) was the best Free-For-Aller entering and the best exiting this past Saturday night, winning the $609,000 final of the Levy. Bit Of A Legend N, after winning all five of his series prelims, drew post position two in the final. He was away third early, behind pole-sitting Take It Back Terry (George Brennan) and that one's stablemate, All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley). All Bets Off, from post five, paid a :27 price for the first lead. Stratton, wanting no part of a three-hole, quickly moved Bit Of A Legend N to the front, finding a :55.2 intermission. Take It Back Terry then took out of third, trying his luck down the backside the second time, with P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) happily accepting that one's tow. However, Take It Back Terry never came close to Bit Of A Legend N who maintained an open lead in and out of a 1:23.1 three-quarters. The advantage was 1-1/2 lengths entering the lane and Bit Of A Legend N was about to close the sale. All Bets Off ducked in but never threatened as the people's preference won by a length in a life-best 1:51. Texican N (Yannick Gingras), stablemate of the winner, rallied for third, with P H Supercam and Take It Back Terry earning the minor cash. For Bit Of A Legend N, a 7-year-old son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was his eighth win in 10 seasonal starts. Yagonnakissmeornot (Daniel Dube), second-best in this race a season ago, rolled from off the pace Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $309,800 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker for pacing mares. Unhurried early from post position four, Yagonnakissmeornot watched as Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett) was launched from behind the eight-ball. She was met by Sell A Bit N (Jordan Stratton), with the latter retaking before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. Sell A Bit N continued to lead at the :55.3 half as Lady Shadow (Corey Callahan) took out of third. That one moved toward the leader while Yagonnakissmeornot had some ground to make up from second-over. A :27.4 third quarter (1:23.2) did enough to make leader and challenger a bit susceptible, though Sell A Bit N had 1-1/2 lengths in and out of the final turn. As that was happening, Yagonnakissmeornot was getting the memo and roaring through the lane. She picked off the pacesetter, whipping Sell A Bit N by a pair of going-away lengths in a life best 1:51.4. Sell A Bit N held second, with a third-over Al Raza N (David Miller) third. For Yagonnakissmeornot , a 7-year-old daughter of The Panderosa co-owned as Allard Racing by trainer Rene Allard. Yves Sarazin and Kapildeo Singh, it was her fourth win in seven seasonal starts. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, 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 Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Jordan Stratton - 161.5; 2. Daniel Dube - 100; 3. George Brennan - 96; 4. Jason Bartlett - 90; 5. Tim Tetrick - 69. Trainers: 1. Peter Tritton - 134.5; 2. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 128; 3. Rene Allard - 105; 4. Ron Burke - 93; 5. Richard Banca - 42. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 134.5; 2. Bamond Racing - 75; 3t. Durazzano Stable - 35; 3t. Allard Racing - 35; 5t. Burke Racing Stable - 25.45; 5t. Weaver Bruscemi - 25.45. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Freehold Raceway, Meadowlands Racetrack, Miami Valley Raceway and Flamboro Downs. Freehold has the Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old filly trotters and the Dexter Cup for 3-year-old open trotters on Saturday (May 7). Meadowlands Racetrack will host the Eltlopp Playoff for older trotters on Sunday (May 8), Miami Valley Raceway features the Miami Valley Distaff for older trotting and pacing mares that same day, while Flamboro Downs will host eliminations for the Confederation Cup for 4-year-old open pacers as part of their May 8 card. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

MANALAPAN, NJ -- April 23, 2016 -- William Leo Bresnahan, 83, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., died April 17, 2016, with family by his side. Mr. Bresnahan was born in Asbury Park, N.J., on Dec. 23, 1932 and raised in Freehold. He attended Freehold High School where he met the love of his life, Elizabeth (Betty) Hemphill. He was the owner of Freehold Dairy Inc., World Class Transportation and was a managing partner and breeder of Fair Acres Farm. He resided in Freehold and Manasquan before retiring to Florida. Mr. Bresnahan's favorite pastimes were harness racing, playing tennis, coaching baseball and basketball and being on the sidelines cheering on his grandchildren at sporting events. He loved to travel and visited every state in the USA. He was a devout Catholic, member of the Knights of Columbus, president of the Isle of Tuscany in the Kings Isle Retirement Community and an officer of the Funseekers club. He is survived by his wife, Betty; sons, William, Robert (Doreen), Brian (Lynette), Barry (Trisha), Bruce and Barney (Michelle); daughters, Barbara (Mike) Delucia, Liz (Jerry) Lubin and Brenda Oakes (partner Joe Andolpho); sister, Dorothy Petta; 22 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Hannah and William; son, Brady Paul; granddaughter, Shyanne; and sister, Audrey Fitch. Friends and family are invited to visit on Sunday (April 24) from 4-8 p.m. at the Freeman Funeral Home, 47 East Main Street, Freehold. A memorial mass will be held at St. Rose of Lima on Monday (April 25) at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.   From Freeman Funeral Home

FREEHOLD, NJ -- April 15, 2016 – Veteran harness racing driver Anthony "Tony" Dandeo , 80 years old, drove the winner of the 10th race at Freehold Raceway Friday.  Coming first up at the half mile marker, Dandeo took the front and never looked back, steering Micky Blu to her 16th lifetime win in 1:57.4, the last quarter in 29.3. Micky Blu paid $13.40 to win. The seven-year-old mare by McArdle is trained and owned by Robert Bresnahan, Jr. Dandeo added another win to his driving career which totals 233 wins and $783,758 in purses won. by Courtney Stafford

In honor of St. Patrick's Day Freehold Raceway will be hosting a special race featuring harness racing drivers of Irish heritage on Thursday, March 17. The special race will be sponsored by the family of Jonathan Dunne, Poterstown Stable of Ireland. Drivers scheduled to participate in the race are: George Brennan, Jonathan Dunne, (Irish) Joe Hanney, Anthony Haughan, Andrew McCarthy, John McDermott, John Sheehan, and Mike Whelan. Courtney Stafford

Effective immediately the request submitted by the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey to permit the release of harness racing purse money prior to post race testing results has been approved by the New Jersey Racing Commission. This approval was granted on an experimental basis through December 31, 2016 and applies to all overnight races offering a purse of $25,000 or less conducted at the Meadowlands and Freehold Racetracks. “After extensive negotiations, on what seemed to be a simple request, we have reached an agreement,” said SBOANJ President Mark Ford. “Thanks to the management at the Meadowlands, Freehold and the Racing Commission our members will no longer have to endure lengthy wait times before receiving their purse checks.” Purse checks at Freehold and the Meadowlands will continue to go through the normal bookkeeping process and then immediately released.  Checks will be put in the mail before the post race tests are completed.  For example all the checks from Friday, February 12, 2016 were placed in the mail today Friday, February 19, 2016. This directive does not apply to horses selected for post-race testing in stake races, overnight races in excess of $25,000 or the release of claim money prior to receipt of testing results. Courtney Stafford

Despite frigid temperatures and punishing winds the fifth leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association winter trotting series went to post on Saturday afternoon, February 13 at Freehold Raceway and there were no surprises when the harness racing betting favorite Justa Rebel scored a decisive victory for Dr. John Kokinos. After Justa Rebel's strong second place finish in his last start at Yonkers Raceway the local crowd punched his ticket substantially and the veteran trotter was sent off at odds of 11-10. With the cold winds swirling Justa Rebel got away slowly from post position six and was some six lengths behind the pace-setter Keystone Boca when the Joe Lee-driven trotter tripped the first stanza timer in :29.1. As the field rounded the second turn and headed to the halfway point a parked-out Wygant Prince (Paul Minore) settled in along the pylons and when he did Kokinos was out and going with Justa Rebel. When the field passed the half Justa Rebel was second on the outside but the classy trotter then took command and from there on Kokinos played catch me if you can. Not surprisingly, no one could seriously challenge the new leader and Justa Rebel kept Wygant Prince at bay in the deep stretch to score a 1-1/4 length triumph in a time of 2:02.1. Current Crisis came from far back to garner the show dough for Bobby Krivelin. It was the 27th lifetime victory for the altered son of Valley Victory who paid $4.20 for win. For Dr. John, a veterinarian from Campbell Hall, NY, it was his 19th career driving victory. As the sun went down the weather got more colder and was so frigid that races scheduled that evening at Yonkers Raceway and the Meadowlands were canceled due to the excessive cold. The NAADA Trotting Series will continue at Monticello Raceway on Thursday Feb. 18. John Manzi

MANALAPAN, NJ - December 12, 2015 - It was all in the family when Vincent Ginsburg captured top driver honors and Vincent Fusco Jr. was the leading trainer when the 109-date Freehold Raceway meet concluded on Saturday, December 12, 2015. Ginsburg is the nephew of Fusco In the driver standings, Ginsburg posted 154 wins from 875 starters for earnings of $573,914. Finishing second was Eric Abbatiello with 148 wins and $586,070 while Stephen Smith topped earnings with $632,072, with 133 wins for third place. Rounding out the Top 5 are James Marshall III with 123 wins and Joseph Bongiorno with 78. Fusco led the way in the trainer standings with 72 wins and $223,271 in earnings. The Top 5 also included Nick Surick with 49 wins, John Urbanski with 40, Kelvin Harrison with 26 and Robert Bongiorno with 25. The 2016 meet opens on Friday, January 1, with qualifiers in the morning at 9:30 a.m. and the first pari-mutuel race at 12:30 p.m. Entries for the opening day card will close at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 while the box for qualifiers will close at 10 a.m. on Thursday, December 31, 2015. "I am looking forward to the 2016 racing season," said Freehold's Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Karen Fagliarone. "We have the Standardbred Development Fund for two year olds scheduled in the fall next year, and I am optimistic that we will offer fuller fields. Our stake schedule also includes the New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres, the Dexter Cup, the Lady Suffolk, the Charles and Helen Smith Trots, the Lou Babic Paces, the Harold and Marion Dancer Trots, and a late closer which will be scheduled sometime in September. The Open Space Pace is scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2016." Live racing will take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays plus three Mondays: January 18, February 15 and September 5. "Our draw schedule will remain the same with the exception of Martin Luther King Day," Fagliarone said. "We are hopeful that we can get together a race to honor Martin Luther King Day. I have reached out to Montrell and George Teague, and they have both expressed interest. The race will be held the prior week, though, to accommodate their schedule." By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ    

For the 29th time this season Hannah Miller has emerged victorious in an amateur driving competition with the most recent victory coming in the first division of NAADA's fall trotting series at Freehold Raceway on Saturday (Oct. 31) against a field of harness racing male counterparts when the 5-foot; 4-inch miss scored a 1:59.2 triumph with Jack's Reef. A second NAADA event went to driver Bob Hechkoff and No Recess when they turned back six others in a time of 1:58.4. But once again the main story-line was the girl defeating her male counterparts at their own game. Miller, from a harness racing family has put her business degree from Central Florida University on hold while she has fun racing in amateur events. And with her success she's in no hurry to pursue that business degree. Despite starting from the six-hole In her NAADA split she fired her trotter to the lead which was yielded when Alan Schwartz and Cassa's Image allowed her to take command in a :28.4 first panel. But from there it was catch me if you can and nobody could as Miller and Jack's Reef kept the pedal to the metal and eventually drew off to a three-length triumph over Cassa's Image. Bluebird Kidsqueen garnered the show dough for driver Dave Offenberg. "Jack's Reef was very good today," Miller said after her driving victory. " I was able to leave and get to the front from the outside and once I cleared Jack was strong the rest of the mile." Owned by Jordan Derue and trained by Vincent Fusco, Jr. Jack's Reef was sent off as the even-money favorite and paid $4.00 for win. Also sent off as an even-money favorite in the second NAADA division No Recess and Bob Hechkoff didn't disappoint their backers either. After starting from the pylon position, No Recess made every pole a winning one en route to a 1-1/4 length triumph over second choice, Permanent Joy and driver Bobby Krivelin. Tony Cuiffetelli and Tagmaster had to go three-deep around tired horses on the final turn but still managed to rally for third money. The winner is co-owned by Hechkoff's R.B.H. Ventures and Kyle Spagnola and is also trained by Spagnola. No Recess returned a $4.00 mutuel. For the 6 year old Rich Boy gelding it was his sixth seasonal triumph and for Hechkoff, who's enjoying his best season in the sulky, it was win number 18 for the executive recruiter. John Manzi for NAADA

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