Search Results
1 to 16 of 44
1 2 3 Next »

Nichols, N.Y. -- Narrowly missing Fireyourguns in last week's top pacing event, Bettorsluckystreak ($13.00) sustained a first-over grind to just collar even-money favorite That'll Be the Rei in Sunday (June 21) afternoon's $14,000 harness racing open pace at Tioga Downs.   Jim Taggart, Jr. floated into midfield with the 5-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding at race's outset, out-sprinted up the pegs by Believe This Bob (Dan Clements) in the initial stages. Believe This Bob subsequently ceded the lead to That'll Be the Rei (Dan Clements) after a sensible :27.3 opening quarter mile. Just as That'll Be the Rei pulled the pace back through a :56.3 half, Bettorsluckystreak mounted his first-over rally, gaining steadily from fourth to apply pressure at the midpoint of the backstretch. The two would duel through the far turn and into the stretch, with Bettorsluckystreak just collaring That'll Be the Rei by a neck in 1:53.4, also staving off a three-wide push from the second-over Dreamlands Art (Brandon Simpson), who took third placing.   Trainer Gary Messenger co-owns Bettorsluckystreak with Kenneth Weckstein and Richard Rubin.   The 11-race program also featured a pair of second-round Nichols True Value late-closing events, with Let's Foal Around ($7.40, Mike Simons) and Jeneral Patton ($2.50, Jim Marohn, Jr.) both parlaying pocket trips into victories.   Live racing returns to Tioga on Friday (June 26) evening, with post time slated for 6:15 p.m. Eastern time. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

A little racing luck and a strong closing kick propelled Brenda Messenger and Scott Woogen's I'm Fabulous ($12.40) past odds-on favorite Detroit Rapper to take Saturday (May 16) evening's $14,000 harness racing Open Trot at Tioga Downs.   Kyle DiBenedetto put the ten-year-old Andover Hall mare into play immediately, securing the pocket behind B L Class Act (John Cummings, Jr.) before Detroit Rapper (Jim Meittinis) brushed from third to take charge after a :27.4 initial quarter. Relegated now to third, I'm Fabulous saved ground through the race's middle stages, closing the pocket behind Detroit Rapper on the approach to the far turn as B L Class Act angled second-over behind Its Payday Friday (Dan Clements). While Detroit Rapper was able to turn aside the stout first-over challenge from Its Payday Friday after being pushed to a 1:25.4 three-quarter sectional, I'm Fabulous kept the pocket closed to reclaim second from her tiring outside rivals. Once clear, she moved off the pegs, collaring the softened I'm Fabulous in the final yards to prevail by a half length in 1:55.1. Oh No Three O (Jeffrey Long) saved ground throughout, advancing up the pegs late to take third.   Gary Messenger trains I'm Fabulous, who has proven victorious in both her Tioga efforts this season in addition to 36 other triumphs through her career.   Driver Tom Jackson recorded a hat trick on the evening's 11-race program, partnering with Kerin Warner trainees Moon Lake ($5.60, 1:57.4) and Stormunn ($7.20, 1:55.2) as well as Shawn Simons trainee Ashcroft ($3.40, 1:58.4).   Sunday (May 17) afternoon's card features a quartet of New York Sire Stakes events for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, with an assortment of Excelsior races comprising the undercard. Post time is 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs

While the year may have changed, the final results of Monticello Raceway's 2014 harness racing leading trainer - driver winners have not. Robert Lounsbury once again capped top honors for leading Dash winning trainer with 158 wins, holding off Gary Messenger and Dan Gill, who were both tied with 143 wins each. Lounsbury's UDRS of .461 ranked him 2nd in the nation for trainers with over 500 starts. Bruce Aldrich Jr. takes home top honors for leading dash winner with 371 wins. Bruce is ranked 5th nationally in the county with winners with 615 wins and $2.6 million in purses. Bruce has also reined 234 winner at Saratoga Raceway where he finished the year in 2nd place for most wins. It was only fitting that Bruce won the final race of 2014 and started 2015 where he left off by winning the first two races. Shawn Wiles

He began the 2014 season at Monticello Raceway competing in $4000 claiming trots and yesterday Rose Run Nash extended his lead in races won over all trotters in North America when the 5-year-old altered son of Trainforthefuture notched his 19th seasonal victory. Once again trainer Danny Gill handed the lines to Jimmy Marohn, Jr. and the diminutive reinsmen responded with yet another victory, this time in 1:57.1 winning for the fifth time against $15,000 claimers and in the process equaling Rose Run Nash's lifetime best which was established earlier this year on September 4. "We were in a bit tough but we beat some nice trotters today and now we have a five-win lead," Danny Gill exclaimed, meaning that Rose Run Nash has five more seasonal wins than runners-up, Too Salty and Brother Gus. Sent off at odds of 5-1 from post four Marohn wasted no time in sending Rose Run Nash to the front and they gained command on the first turn and led the seven-horse field by the quarter in :28.2. From there, Marohn kept the pedal to the metal and the veteran trotter made every pole a winning one to score a three- length triumph over I'm Fabulous, a Gary Messenger pupil who was the betting favorite in the race. "He was super good today,"Marohn said after the victory. "He had been running out in his last few starts but recently Danny had the veterinarian work on him and today he was as straight as an arrow. He's a tough guy who gives his all every time." Although the Ohio-bred gelding took his lifetime record this year he was victorious in 1:59.3 as a 2-year-old and every year since Rose Run Nash won in 1:59.2 or better. To go along with his 19 wins this season Rose Run Nash also has seven seconds and two thirds in 34 starts and his seasonal bankroll in just short of $50,000. He's a nervous horse but he loves to race and he loves to win," Gill added. "You can see his head going from side to side like a pendulum when he's trotting and when he gets near the finish you can almost see him straining while giving all he's got." Owned by Gill's main patron, Ed Hall, Rose Run Nash paid $12.00 for win. John Manzi

Colby Jate (Jate Lobell-Cam Press Shania) scored the victory in the $10,000 featured pace on Saturday night at Vernon Downs.   Colby Jate (Aaron Byron) did not have an easy time getting to the front as there was a 4-way fight for the early lead. Only No Monkeys Allowed (Fern Paquet Jr.) did not try to get to the front in the field of five. However, once Colby Jate got to the front, matters were pretty much resolved.   He proceeded to lead all the way around the racetrack. The fractions were fairly fast, as well, as Colby Jate went the quarter in 25.4 seconds, the half in 54.2, and three-quarters in 1:22.3. JK Panache (Chris Lems) tracked the leader from the pocket, but was never able to get closer than a length away in the stretch. The final time for the mile was 1:50.4.   Colby Jate is owned by Friendship Stables LLC of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. The trainer is Mike Watson.   The complete order of finish was: Colby Jate, JK Panache, Avantage, No Monkeys Allowed, and Moonlight Ransom.   The CKG Billings Series for amateur drivers returned to Vernon Downs on Saturday night as well. It was a similar story to the feature as the winner went to the front right away and stayed there all the way. However, Armstead Kyra (Muscle Mass-Paus Awhile) was far from the favorite in the field, going off at 43-1 and paying $89 to win. Even with the favorite Choke Hold (Vladimir Melnichenko) finishing second, the exacta paid a whopping $882.   Armstead Kyra was driven to victory by Matt Zuccarello in a final time of 1:56.1. The fractions were 27.3 for the quarter, 58.1 for the half, and 1:26.3 for three-quarters.   Armstead Kyra is owned by Brenda Messenger of Monticello, New York and Scott Woogen of Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania. The trainer is Gary Messenger.   Live racing will resume at Vernon Downs on Thursday night with an 11-race program. Post time is 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs 

Carried three-wide through the far turn, Bettorsluckystreak ($26.80) sustained his late bid en route to a 1:51.4 upset victory in Sunday (September 7) afternoon's featured pace at Tioga Downs.   The $10,000 upper-level conditioned event drew a field of eight, with newcomer Johnny Grippa (Jim Meittinis) handling the pacesetting duties throughout, establishing a solid tempo through a :55 half mile.   With Cashendash Hanover (Brandon Simpson) fading from the pocket and Hasty Western (Aaron Byron) sliding first-over with three-eighths to go, Greg Merton moved the four-year-old son of Bettor's Delight out to track cover en route to the far turn.   While Hasty Western continued two-wide despite the pocket opening up approaching the far turn, Merton moved Bettorsluckystreak three-wide past three-quarters in 1:22.4. The two sustained their rally, passing Hasty Western at the top of the stretch and pulling clear of Johnny Grippa in the final 70 yards to prevail by a length.   Prairie Jaguar, the 8-5 favorite, failed to sustain an extended uncovered bid, staying even to finish fifth.   James Clouser, Jr. trains Bettorsluckystreak for Kenneth Weckstein, Richard Rubin, and Gary Messenger.   Mike Simons and Tyler Buter led all drivers with three wins each on the 13-race card.   The 2014 live racing season concludes at Tioga Downs this upcoming weekend, with Friday (September 12) and Saturday (September 13) cards both scheduled for 6:15 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

Quietly, and without much fanfare, Rose Run Nash keeps winning. Yesterday (July 16) at Monticello Raceway the harness racing 5 year old Trainforthefuture gelding notched his 13th seasonal triumph and continues to lead all trotters in races won in North America. Driven, once again, by Jimmy Marohn, Jr. and carrying a $10,000 claiming tag, Rose Run Nash scored a neck victory in 2:00.1 when he came from sixth at the three quarters to collar both Famous Dude (Bruce Aldrich, Jr.) and Larissa (Mike Merton) who finished in a dead-heat for second. "This is the best race he (Rose Run Sam) went all season. He trotted his last quarter in :28.4 and had to come a long way to win it," trainer Danny Gill said after the mile. He then added "Now we're up two," meaning that Rose Run Nash has a two-win lead over four others each with 11 wins. When queried about the gelding's sire, Trainforthefuture, Gill replied quickly. "Oh, he's Ohio- bred and I've had him just about a year now. He's a sweetheart, just a pleasure to be around and Jimmy (Marohn, Jr.) says he's always on the trot (doesn't break stride) and real handy in a race," Gill was leading trainer here two years ago and was second to Lounsbury last season, This year, again, his pupils are winning plenty of races. Currently Gill is in a fight-not literally- with Bob Lounsbury and Gary Messenger for leading trainer honors. At days end, Messenger is in command with 79 winners, four more than Gill's 75, while Lounsbury is close with 73. John Manzi

Goshen, NY --- It was a nearly perfect day for harness racing trainer driver Ray Schnittker. Schnittker drove in seven Landmark Stakes events at Historic Track on Friday afternoon and came away with six victories. Among the winners was 3-year-old male pacer Stevensville, who could be heading to the $450,000 Delvin Miller Adios at the end of the month. Other winners for Schnittker, who is based at Historic Track, were 2-year-old male trotter Gabe The Bear Dean, 2-year-old female pacer Shes Ready To Rock, 3-year-old female trotter Suegrabbitnrun, 3-year-old male trotter Derby, and 2-year-old female trotter Kaliska. Gary Messenger trained two Landmark winners, 2-year-old male pacer K J Ben and 2-year-old female trotter She's So Into Me, and Angus MacDonald sent out a winner in 3-year-old female pacer Misty Major. Stevensville, who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Max C. Hempt Memorial on June 28 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, won the $19,340 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old pacers in 1:58.1 over a sloppy track. Rain fell throughout the afternoon on an unseasonably cool 66-degree Fourth of July. Owned by Schnittker, Paul Bordogna, and Ryan Miller, Stevensville has won seven of 21 career races and $185,079. He finished second in last year's Matron Stakes. "He's been real good," Schnittker said. "He raced real good last week and I think if he'd gotten through a little sooner he would have been maybe third. "We're going to go to the Adios, I think. I skipped the Meadowlands Pace. I think he's fifth to 10th best [horse in the division] and there's so much money later in the year, hopefully I can grab some." Derby, who finished second in the Dexter Cup in May, won the $20,640 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old trotters in 2:03.3. The gelding is owned by Schnittker, Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, and Ted Gewertz. He has won three consecutive starts after starting the season with six setbacks. "He's come around a little bit," Schnittker said. "He actually raced pretty good for Danny Cappello at Saratoga the last two starts. He had sort of an attitude problem, but it looks like he's starting to get it figured out now. Hopefully he'll end up having a good year." Schnittker also was pleased with Kaliska, who won in 2:05.2, and Gabe The Bear Dean, who won in 2:03. Kaliska (Credit Winner-Armbro Vivian) is owned by Schnittker, Thomas Spatorico, Pepin Stable, and Fam Alber Horse Racing. She is a full sister to stakes-winner Frank The Hands. Gabe The Bear Dean (Lucky Chucky-Madam Hooch) is owned by Schnittker and Minix Stable. "[Kaliska] kind of doesn't know what she's doing," Schittker said. "She figured out to go by [other horses] finally; usually she's a little bit late that way. "Gabe The Bear Dean, I think he could be a real nice New York Sire [Stakes horse]. He's going next Wednesday at Buffalo. I think he's one of the better Lucky Chucky colts, so hopefully he'll be alright." Suegrabbitnrun won in 2:01.4 for Schnittker and Charlie Iannazzo, who also bred the filly, and Shes Ready To Rock (Rocknroll Hanover-She's My Belle) won in 2:04.1 for owners Schnittker, Frank Baldassare, and Mary Kinsey. K J Ben (Riggins-Winsmith Karen), driven by Jason Bartlett, won in 2:04 for breeder/owner Scott Woogen. In the next race, She's So Into Me (Conway Hall-In To Me) and driver Jim Taggart Jr. won in 2:07 for owners Woogen and Brenda Messenger. Misty Major, also driven by Taggart, won in 2:03.3 for owner E.J. Treadway. Friday's nine-race Landmark Stakes card was part of the Grand Circuit visit to Historic Track. Saturday features the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series and Billings Amateur Drivers Series. Sunday is Hall of Fame Day, which includes a race featuring drivers in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame along with 2014 inductee David Miller. Post time each day is 1 p.m. for the first race. Story and photos by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

Scott Woogen's path to sitting behind racehorses began on a New York City basketball court, in a scene reminiscent of a Damon Runyon tale. Woogen, who will have two horses he bred and owns competing in Landmark Stakes at Goshen Historic Track in New York on Friday and will be driving there in amateur races on Saturday, was introduced to harness racing as a teenager in the Bronx when he was offered a job selling handicapping sheets outside Yonkers Raceway. The offer came from a police officer who spotted Woogen and his friends playing basketball in the school yard. "I was probably the youngest and smallest kid, but fairly aggressive, and I told him I could do whatever he wanted," Woogen said. "His moonlighting job was printing his own handicap sheet called the Top Trotter. I sold them for 25 cents and also sold programs for 75 cents. I got $5 a night. "I started reading the programs and taking an occasional bus up there to Yonkers Raceway and watched the races. I really liked it. When I was old enough, I got working papers and worked a little bit in the stable area on the weekends. If I hadn't been playing basketball that day, I wouldn't know anything about horses. It was kind of a quirk of fate." That quirk of fate has led Woogen, who now is a gastroenterologist living in Virginia, around the world. He began driving in races, even winning a collegiate event held at Roosevelt Raceway while representing Columbia University as a sophomore. He gave up driving to pursue his medical career, but returned to the track 17 years ago to compete as an amateur, often in the Billings Series, where he is known as the "Driving Doctor." He has won 127 races as an amateur and competed in Germany, Finland, Italy, Spain, Russia, Estonia, and New Zealand. "It's been a really nice hobby," Woogen said. "It's been a lot of fun; I really enjoy it." On Friday, Woogen will send out KJ Brenda in the $11,547 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters and K J Ben in the $12,520 Landmark Stakes for 2-year-old pacers. Both horses are trained by Gary Messenger. Last year, KJ Brenda - the "K J" is for Woogen's fiancée Kathy Jean and Brenda is Messenger's wife - finished second in the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship. She has won two of 10 career races, hit the board a total of eight times, and earned $80,821. "She came back this year and her first couple starts she bled and we had to put her on Lasix and she's been getting better," Woogen said. "We're excited about her chances to go down to Kentucky and get some of that sire stakes money." K J Ben, named in honor of Kathy Jean's first grandson, Benjamin, is making his debut after winning a qualifier at Ocean Downs in 2:00.1. "We're excited about his prospects," Woogen said. Jim Taggart Jr. is listed to drive KJ Brenda and Jason Bartlett is listed on K J Ben. So why doesn't Woogen drive those horses in the stakes? "There's a reason why I'm in the amateur races," Woogen said, laughing. "It's a lot of fun and I think I can hold my own against the amateurs, but it's a little tougher to drive against the professionals. I'll leave that up to the professionals. I'm just excited that we have some horses that might do a little bit of good this year." Friday's nine-race Landmark Stakes card is part of the Grand Circuit visit to Historic Track. Saturday features the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series and Billings Amateur Drivers Series. Sunday is Hall of Fame Day, which includes a race featuring drivers in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame along with 2014 inductee David Miller. Post time each day is 1 p.m. for the first race. Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Jimmy Taggart, Jr. drove five more winners on Thursday (June 18) at Monticello Raceway after reining four here yesterday. On Wednesday four of Taggart's wins came from the Gary Messenger barn and today (Thursday) three more were harnessed by Messenger. Now with 94 driving victories Taggart is fourth in races won on the local leaderboard but no one is currently as hot as he is. Taggart began the day with a 2:01.4 front- end victory with Blameless, a 3 year-old Crazed gelding owned by Dr. Scott Woogen and Brenda Messenger. The good looking trotter from the Gary Messenger barn notched his second lifetime victory and paid $2.30 for win. Then beginning in the fifth race Taggart went on a tear with three consecutive victories two of which were trained by Messenger. In the fifth Taggart guided Brenda Messenger's sophomore trotting colt Enzo Pezza to the 2:02.2 come-from behind score and returned a $13.20 win mutuel. Taggart then won the sixth race with Bob Petitto's veteran trotter Stay All Day ($5.40) in a time of 2:02.1 and then scored his third victory for Gary Messenger when he guided Putnam's Art home first in 1:57.1. Sent off the favorite in the race, the pacer, a 6 year old Southwind Balsam gelding owned by Brenda Messenger and Dr. Scott Woogen, paid $4.90 for win. Win number five on the card came in the 10th and final race when Taggart sat the pocket and rallied down the passing lane to score a 1:57.3 victory with the Dennis Laterza owned and trained, Lola's Cruiser. It was the 6 year old Yankee Cruiser gelding 's first win in 15 seasonal starts and he paid $6.60 for win. "I've had a real good couple of days Taggart admitted. "Gary's (Messenger) youngsters are rounding into form and everything seems to be going my way now. I've been putting my horses in the right place and thankfully they're been responding." by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Trainer Gary Messenger is again having a good year at Monticello Raceway. Yesterday alone, he harnessed four winners and he is keeping the pressure on Danny Gill and Bob Lounsbury. Now with 66 winners Messenger vaulted ahead of Lounsbury's 63 and now trails Gill be just two victories. It didn't seem to matter if it was Jimmy Taggart, Jr. or Zeke Parker who drove for Messenger, both gentlemen won for him; Taggart drove three winners and Parker drove one. Messenger's first winner was with KJ Brent, the promising 2 year old pacing son of Art Major who zipped the lead from the two-hole and sauntered off to an easy two length victory in a time of 2:00.2 for Jimmy Taggart, Jr.in just the colt's second lifetime start. "He was the only 2 year old in the field he handled them with ease," Taggart said after the victory. "He's got some class, is good gaited and is real handy." KJ Brent is owned by avid amateur driver Dr. Scott Woogen, a gastroenterologist from Virginia. He is one of the many horses that Messenger trains for the driving doctor. Parker drove Messenger's winner in the second race when he guided the 6 year old pacing mare Bet On Lindy home first in a time of 1:57.2. The Bettor's Delight mare is owned by Brenda Messenger (Gary's wife) and Dr. Scott Woogen. The same combination of trainer and owners copped the third race on the card which gave Gary Messenger three straight winners to start the day. Messenger and Woogen's 3-year old son of American Ideal, American Fighter, sat a two-hole trip and then rallied to a 2:00 victory in the pacer's fifth lifetime start for driver Jimmy Taggart, Jr. Taggart then won the seventh race with the Messenger-trained trotter, Monica's Image, in 2:00. That victory gave the Messenger and Woogen partnership its third winner on the program. "I've trained horses for a few other amateur drivers in the past but I've been training horses for Doc Woogen over 15 years. Together we own about 30 horses which includes broodmares and babies," Messenger said. "WE got a full brother to KJ Brent who is just a yearling now. That comment led to Messenger to reflect on the 2 year old KJ Brent, who won the first race today. "I love him", he said. "He's going to be a fast horse. He gets over the ground real easy and he has a lot of quick speed. Today on the final turn he opened up a quick five (lengths) and coasted to an easy victory." by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

This past weekend was the busiest thus far in this year's CKG Billings Harness Driving Series with a contest at Vernon Downs on Saturday night (June 14) and three events at Buffalo Raceway on Sunday (June 15). Scott "the Driving Doctor" Woogen was victorious at each venue and, Tony "the Capo" Verruso and, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford also drove winners. After a great few days in Trot Town, USA working with the participants of the USTA Driving School in Goshen, Billings vice president Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and seven other Billings drivers headed to Vernon Downs for at contest there. In that Billings trot Oldford sent his old warhorse to the lead from the five hole and they seemed to have it all in hand as the field headed for home. But in the deep stretch Doc Woogen, with I'm Fabulous, rallied strong to beat Celtic Merchant to the wire and pick up all the marbles in the 1:57.4 mile. Third money went to Choke Hold driven by Vladimir "Butch" Melnichenko. "I cut them mile and really thought it was all mine but Doc Woogen snuck up and snapped me at the wire to win it all," Old ford said. "Unfortunately for me, it was another good drive by Doc Woogen." I'm Fabulous is owned by Woogen and Brenda Messenger and trained by Gary Messenger. He paid $5.30 for win. The next night in Hamburg, (NY) in the second Billings event- a pace- Doc Woogen with 10-1 shot Launching Tonight caught everyone by surprise when he gunned the pacer to the lead from the four hole. They grabbed command on the first turn and despite a swift :28.2 quarter they kept right on going. By doing so it kept the challengers away and Launching Tonight cruised to a solid one length victory in a time of 1:58.3. Howie "the Horse" Gelfand came from fifth at the three-quarters to finish second and "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli finished third with Officer Candidate. "It was certainly a fun weekend driving both days in the Billings." Doc Woogen related. "They were my first two races in the series this year and added to my pleasure was that I got a chance to visit my daughter who lives in Buffalo. Launching Tonight paid $22.40 to win. He is owned and trained by Scott Bompczyk. Series president, Tony Verruso got the Billings started that evening when he guided pacer Aurora Borealus to a 1:59.4 victory. They used the front-end route, and like Doc Woogen, they didn't back down the second quarter and kept the pedal to the metal and led the field by the halfway point in :58.1 When they reached the homestretch Aurora Borealus was getting a bit leg weary but the pacer had enough left to keep LCB's Charm and driver Howie Gelfand at bay for a neck victory in 1:59.4. Skyway Shania and "Sir Christopher" Shambo took home the show dough. "The mare I drove was coming off a two and a half year racing absence due to breeding. They told me she was rounding into form and I should just send her, which I did. She left like a rocket into that first turn and I didn't look back from there, Verruso said. Aurora Borealus , owned by Fortunate One LLC paid $4.40 for win. She is trained by John Mungillo. In the final Billings event, a trot, Steve Oldford made amends by sending Sam Can to the lead and he took no chances about being caught from behind this time and finished a seven-length winner over Alabama Flash and driver "Bullet Bob" Davis. Chris Shambo was third in this one. "I figured to leave a little but once I got on top my horse swelled -up like no tomorrow and grabbed leather so I took a deep seat," Oldford said. "The farther we went the more we opened daylight on the field and in the lane I had enough of a lead so not to get caught at the wire this time "When I got back to the paddock the owner ( Perry Wilson) invited me back to drive him again. I guess he thought I did a good job." Wilson owns and trains the Sam Can who paid $6.00 for win. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Drivers Club

I DO HANOVER DOES IT by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity   I Do Hanover (Shark Gesture-I'm Married) romped to a three length victory in the $8,000 featured pace at Vernon Downs on Saturday night.   Driven by Chris Lems, I Do Hanover sat third in the early stages of the 9th race before tipping out and charging up to take the lead just before the half mile mark. From there, the issue was effectively settled as I Do Hanover built a large lead before the field reached the top of the stretch and won impressively in a time of 1:51.4.   The overall split times for the race were 26.2 for the quarter, 55 seconds for the half, and 1:22.4 for three quarters. Some Or Lis (Claude Huckabone III) angled off the pylons in the stretch to get racing room and split horses late to get up for second. Some Or Lis was the longest shot in the six-horse field at 10-1 and completed the $30 exacta with the favorite.   I Do Hanover is owned by Philip Hale of New Hartford, New York and David Dewhurst of Clinton, New York. Dewhurst is also the horse's trainer. The complete order of finish for the feature was: I Do Hanover, Some Or Lis, Whitemountainpower, Stormin Rustler, Dragon Fever, and Oozie's Bad Boy.   Vernon Downs also hosted a CKG Billings Amateur Trot on Saturday night. The 3rd race was won by I'm Fabulous, driven by part-owner Scott Woogen, in a time of 1:57.4.   I'm Fabulous had to rally past Celtic Merchant (Stephen Oldford), who had maintained the lead throughout the mile until getting passed in the shadow of the wire. I'm Fabulous has now won two of her last three starts, including a Miracle Mile 5 score at Tioga Downs on June 1.   She is owned by Scott Woogen of Mechanicsville, Virginia and Brenda Messenger of Monticello, New York. The trainer is Gary Messenger.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs   

Matt Zuccarello--yes, Zuccarello-- reined the harness racing winner of Monticello Raceway's 16th annual Passover Pace on Tuesday afternoon, April 22. He hustled his charge Winsmith Molly up to collar the pacesetter-- Sam's Fortune and driver Alan Charles-- in the final strides and walked away with the box of matzohs. Zuccarello's mother, the former (Arlene Rosenberg) is Jewish, and because of that Matt was eligible to compete in the race for drivers of Jewish heritage. And for Zuccarello, who's refers to himself as "Pizza- Bagel", this was his first drive in the event and he made it memorable. An amateur driver with a provisional license, Zuccarella has recently been bitten by the harness driving bug. Now in his third year of competitive driving Zuccarello has been competing in the various amateur club races on the East coast as well as in the Billings Series. "I've won a couple of races before but winning the Passover Pace today was more than I could have asked for," said Zuccarello, who by trade is a salesman for heart rate monitoring equipment. "I thought there were a couple of horses in there (the race) that would be hard to beat but my mare raced her best race of the season thus far." Perhaps Zuccarello was referring to Sams Fortune and Christoffer Bliss who was driven by Austin Siegelman. Both were the 6-5 co-favorites in the race. When the man said go, Alan Charles sent Sams Fortune to the lead from the pylon position but he relinquished command to Pascal's Wager and Dave Yarock just before the quarter pole but he wasted no time and re-took the lead as the field headed into the turn. However, when Charles made his quarter pole move Murray Bassen, with Welcome Lover, and Bobby Krivelin with Road Work Ahead, followed suite. "I was seventh at the quarter and with all the action upfront I moved third- up and as the horses in front of me either cleared or found a spot (along the pylons) I just kept my mare going forward," Zuccarello related. Winsmith Molly passed everyone in front of her and then ranged up alongside Sams Fortune at the three quarters. Then, from there to paydirt, a blanket would have covered both pacers right to the finish line. At the wire Winsmith Molly was a head in front of Sams Fortune while Tidewater Moses and driver Alan Schwartz rallied from far back to finish third and pay $36.00 for show. Krivelin's Road Work Ahead finished fourth and fifth place went to 50-1 shot, Five Card Stud driven by Peter Kleinhans. Christoffer Bliss and Siegelman got locked- in from the quarter pole on and they were never a factor and finished sixth. Pascal's Wager was seventh and Welcome Lover brought up the rears. Winsmith Molly is trained by Gary Messenger for owners Brenda Messenger, Dr. Scott Woogen and Phil Shapiro. It was the mare's first win in nine seasonal outings and she returned $15.60, $3.30 and $3.00 across the board. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Last fall when Austin Siegelman was presented with the Rising Star Award by the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA at their annual banquet he told the attending crowd that among the things he was looking to accomplish during 2014 was to win Monticello Raceway's Passover Pace. Now on Tuesday, April 22 he will get that chance, and a good one at that, when he jumps up behind the 5-2 favorite Christoffer Bliss. "That's correct, I said one of my goals (in 2014) was to win the Race for the Matzohs," said the 22 year old Siegleman in all seriousness. "I know it has been a fun event and I read about it every season for as long as I can remember. Now not only do I have a chance to win it but I'll be driving the favorite in the race." Last year in his first full season of driving Siegelman reined 90 winners and currently with 47 already he's more than halfway home in equaling last year's numbers. However, since he's now getting calls to catch drive here, and at Saratoga Raceway, look for Siegelman's numbers to vastly increase. However, Siegelman will be going against some veteran Passover Pace drivers in Alan Schwartz, Bobby Krivelin and Alan Charles. Schwartz has been a three-time winner and Charles and Krivelin each have won the Race for the Matzohs twice. Krivelin is the defending champion having won the event last year with Isn't She Lovely. In this year's Passover Pace on Tuesday afternoon, Charles may have the best chance at upsetting Siegelman when he handles Sam's Fortune-- rated 3-1 on the early line-- from the pole position. "I've won this race with outsiders before and being able to start along the pylons is always a positive," said Charles who has won two of the last four Passover Paces. And speaking of outsiders, both Schwartz and Krivelin have them. Neither driver's pacers have won a race yet this year; Schwartz's Tidewater Moses (post five) is 0-for 12 and Krivelin's, Road Work Ahead (post seven) is 0-for 13. "It's all the luck of the draw; both with the horses we'll drive and the post positions we get,'" Schwartz said philosophically. "You never know what will happen in a horse race and it's never official until the judges declare it so." The sleeper in the race is Winsmith Molly, from the hot Gary Messenger barn. Matt Zuccarello -his mother is Jewish-drew the mount behind the 7 year old mare who won six times last year (the fastest in 1:57.3) although she has yet to find her stride this season. They'll start from the six hole. Others who drew mounts in the 16th Annual "Race for the Matzohs" include: Peter Kleinhans(Five Star Stud -- post two), Murray Bassin (Welcome Lover -post 4) and Dave Yarock (Pascal's Wager -post eight). The Passover Pace is slated as race number six on the Mighty M's Tuesday afternoon card of April 22. By John Manzi, for Harnesslink.com

And now, the answers to the trivia questions that have appeared in this space recently. We'll deal first with Bob "Hollywood" Heyden's question, paraphrasing from the previous article: "Jerryconnors, this year Shebestingin and Beeamagician both went faster than any of their three-year-old colt counterparts. What was thelastyear that thathappened?" (Bob's brain is always in hyperwarpdrive, and sometimes the words come out of his mouth as if frantically trying to keep up with the gray matter that had just produced them.) When I originally told of this encounter, I did not include my first, smart-ass answer: Since Bob was asking me the question in 2014 (the February of the Dover USHWA/banquet), I said, "2013," which was the previous and, thus by definition, "last" year. That of course was a correct answer. (Watch, and it'll turn more correct the further you read.) Heyden wasn't impressed, giving a "Geez" and a shake of the head as if wondering why he wastes his time trying to educate the unwashed. "Before that, I mean." As I did recount earlier, my next response was, "I don't know." Which was the second correct answer - because 2013 was the FIRST AND ONLY time that Bob's phenomenon had ever occurred! And of course you can't know something that doesn't exist. So BOTH of my answers were correct! I owe thanks for verification to David Carr, veteran computer guru and statistical researcher for the USTA (along with being a Tottenham Hotspurs fan, as is Roy Davis). David said that when he saw the article, he set up the computer parameters, and could trace the data back to 1951 - and that 2013 was the first year that the phenomenon occurred. (Though, according to David, it had happened three times previously among two-year-olds - but that's for a future column.) After Hollywood's stumper, I mentioned, I happened upon an amazing piece of trivia in the Dover paddock: Not 10 feet apart from each other were two gentlemen who are both members of a very, very exclusive club - they were both the leading dashwinning drivers at tracks that hosted just ONE season of harness racing! They accomplished their feats 15 years apart. And they both have the same initials! I did plant one clue in yesterday's story - if you read Ron Pierce's career travels carefully, you may have noted "Minnesota" thrown in there. In 1986, Pierce was the leading driver during the only year they had harness racing at Canterbury (which, for different trivia fans, was where Governor Jesse Ventura's post-election celebration was held). Forrest Skipper won there that year,too - in the Dan Patch Pace, of course. So now we know that the other driver's initials are also "RP" - and from there it's a short jump to Roger Plante Jr., now a solid regular on the Delaware circuit, but for three weekends in 2001 plying his trade at Oakridge Racecourse in Virginia - where he won their only dash title with 14 triumphs. Oak Ridge Estate in southwest VA is an historic plantation/horse farm/events site that was purchased by the Holland Family in 1989, with John Sr. later thinking to try to secure a couple of off-track wagering permits in the Old Dominion - but that required him to hold a pari-mutuel license. So he carved a mile track on the grounds, brought in tents for a paddock and temporary fixtures for fans (no simulcasting in or out, the latter disappointing Plainridge, and I know because they called me, who had written a story, and asked me), and conducted Friday-Saturday-Sunday racing from September 21 to October 7 of 2001. (Alas, for overall naught for Mr. Holland's oval, as he did not get the off-track permits.) There was only that one season of harness at Oakridge (how the USTA records spell it) - nine days, 101 purse races. Plante won 14, one more than Clifton Green, to secure its only dash title, and join that super-exclusive club that both he and Pierce have membership in. And now to end - FOR POSSIBLY THE ONLY TIME EVER IN PRINT - the list of the drivers who won the 101 races at Oakridge! 14: Roger Plante Jr. 13: Clifton Green 11: Brian Allen 7: Dan O'Mara, Fern Paquet Jr. 5: Mark Gray, Donnie Russell 4: Gary Messenger 3: Ken Billman, Joe Offutt, Del Richards 2: Kyle DiBenedetto, Gerry Bookmyer, R. Scott Gregoire*, Jukka Paljarvi, Tim Roach, Tom D. (father of ...) Tetrick, Bryce Truitt, Don Wilson II 1: Mark Clark, Rusty Cox, George Filion, Grover Freck, Warren McIlmurray, Jim Morand, Barry Probber, Basil Sapienza, James Smallwood, Kelly Staten * - Mr. Gregoire gets a special mention because he swept the Daily Double on the inaugural card. By Jerry Connors for Harnesslink.com

1 to 16 of 44
1 2 3 Next »