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Who said that amateur racing isn't fun? Certainly not members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association. After hosting three different European amateur organizations on American soil already this year four NAADA members; Joe Faraldo, Alan Schwartz,Paul Minore and Joe Lee, and their guests; will soon be winging their way to Palma De Mallorca for an international Friendship Competition with the Spanish amateurs. "Though some may be going earlier than others we are all meeting in Palma on the 4th September and racing will be on September 5th, in the morning, and on the 8th in the evening," noted NAADA Event Coordinator, Alicia (Mrs Alan) Schwartz. According the NAADA president Joe Faraldo,"We have had competitions, almost yearly, with the Spanish amateurs. We hosted them last year in the States and we came out on the short end in the competition. But winning or losing is incidental, what is important is the friendship and comraderie shared during the competitions." Tentative itinerary: Arrive in Mallorca on September 4th. Drive to the Finca for accommodations.-Relax and dinner at Italian Restaurant September 5th; -Races in the morning,-Lunch at the racetrack then back to Finca for a barbeque. September 6th ; Visit the Rafa Nadal Museum-Paella by Xisco and after party with Gin tonics--then back to Finca. September 7th; -Visit Ca'n Axartell Vineyards with wine tastings and tapas. Then visit the Pearls in Porto Cristo followed by dinner in Restaurant Sa Fonda September 8th-- Boat Trip with tapas and cocktails during the day and at night races in Manacor followed by dinner with the horse owners September 9th - NAADA members leave Mallorca; except for Joe Lee who will be staying on a bit longer to enjoy the scenery.. by John Manzi, for NAADA    

Yonkers, NY--"Smokin' Joe" Faraldo is a happy man. And why shouldn't he be? After all, the Queens, NY attorney just won the $15,000 CKG Billings Eastern Region Mid-Season Final tonight (July 28)at Yonkers Raceway when he guided Tough Get Going to a gate-to-wire triumph in a 1:58.4 clocking. "A win tonight and a catch drive on Thursday at Monticello (Raceway) where I finished second, heck, things are really looking up," chuckled the Queens, NY attorney who has been a premier supporter of amateur racing since its resurgence in the early 1980's. Faraldo, a Billings member from its inception and founder of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, is getting to show that he really knows his way around the racetrack. It's true, he was the National Amateur Driver of the Year in 2000 and a winner of 144 pari-mutuel races (2 this year in Europe, also), but the move he put on Wygant Prince's and "Coach Paul" Minore tonight which kept them locked-in until mid-stretch was almost professional and saved the victory for Tough Get Going. "We were on the engine all the way and Paul had Wygant Prnce on my back from the start," Faraldo said. "When we rounded the final turn Annie ("Get Your Gun"Stoebe--with Uriel) was on the outside and I kept backing into her trying to keep Paul's horse from seeing daylight. But finally, in mid-stretch, Wygant Prince shook loose and came charging but my horse hung tough and we won it by neck." Winwood Scout garnered the show dough for David "Poppa" Glasser in the non-wagering contest Faraldo co-owns the Tough Get Going with the horse's trainer, Richie Banca. Meanwhile, later in the evening at Northfield Park in Ohio, a 9-horse field in the mid-west region of the Billings Series went to post and when the judges hung the official sign the odds-on favorite Utopia and driver Steve Oldford rallied late to overtake the pacesetter, Winback Charles M ("Lawbook Larry" Farley) and go on to a 1-1/2 length victory in a 1:57 clocking. In that contest Farley sent Winback Chales M to the lead from the pole position and they rumbled by the first quarter in 28 seconds flat and were still two lengths to the good as they passed the halfway point in :57.2. At that point Oldford got Utopia in high gear and with a three-deep move up the backside they were two lengths off Winback Charles M as the field passed the third stanza in 1:27.2. As they rounded the final turn Farley's trotter braced for Oldford's charge but Utopia was too much to contend with and he went on to victory. Winback Charkes M held on for second money while Michelle"the Belle" Ruvola finished third with Better Call Saul. Unlike the Yonkers Billings the Northfield Park Billings was a wagering affair and Utopia paid $2.60 for win. The 7-year-old Mutineer gelding is owned by Oldford Racing LLC and trained by Terry Deters. For Oldford it was his 5th seasonal driving victory and 135th of his amateur career. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series    

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York ("SOA") and Yonkers Racing Corporation have entered into an amendment of their current horsemen's agreement. The terms and conditions governing harness racing at Yonkers Raceway was just extended beyond the current expiration date of May, 2019 to May, 2021. The July 10th, 2018 agreement entitled the "First Amendment" will maintain the same number of annual race dates, as well as the current revenue stream for purses. Joseph Faraldo, President of the SOA of NY said, "The SOA Board of Directors has approved the negotiation of the terms and the execution of this First Amendment. I am pleased that this process was seamless and entered into with the knowledge and consent of the Raceway's new owners, MGM Resorts International, as the same portends a good working relationship with our new partners. Hopefully, this amendment will be followed by others in numerical sequence." Faraldo also noted that in April of this year MGM Growth Properties acquired the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park outside of Cleveland, Ohio and indicated, "We may now be referring to Northfield Park as our 'sister track' and vice versa. Coordinating post times may add some benefits to both tracks, with the racing fans the prime beneficiaries. In sum, despite the initial apprehensions expressed in some quarters, world class harness racing at the Hilltop Oval appears to have a very bright and elongated future." by Chris Wittstruck, for the SOA of NY  

Goshen, NY--On the sweltering Saturday afternoon of June 30th in Trot-Town USA with the temperature hovering in the mid-90's two Billings divisions went to post over Goshen's Historic Track and when they were declared official Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo each emerged victorious in their respective divisions. Oldford winning with Starsaboveallerage in 1:58 while Faraldo scored behind Tough Get Going in 2:00 flat. And although each contest had short fields action was intensified when each winner scored a tight nose decision. In Oldford's contest he sent his trotter to the lead from the two-hole and they carved out fractions of :29.2; :59 and 1:28.2 with "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio and Cheeky Little Minx shadowing the leader's every move. However, when Starsaboveallerage rounded the final turn and headed for home he was quickly joined by Cheeky Little Minx and the two trotters raced for the wire head-to-head and nose to nose and when the photo was deciphered Oldford's trotter was a nose better that Pennacchio's. "My horse went a game race and he hung tough when we were challenged by Joe's horse( Cheeky Little Miss) in the deep stretch. And we were so close at the wire I wasn't sure who won it,"Oldford said and the added "I was happy to hear the announcer call my horse the winner." Third place some 4-1/2 lengths behind the top two was Connie Keeper, driven by Scott "the driving doctor" Woogen. Oldford Racing owns the winner who is trained by Allen Sisco. In his division, Faraldo gunned Tough Get Going to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded but yielded command to Winwood Scout and driver David "Poppa" Glasser before the quarter which was clocked in :28.2. "I really had no other choice but to grab leather and let Glasser take command or else he would have run me down," Faraldo said. "We got over to the half in :59 seconds and I was still comfortable when we passed we three quarters and I sat in until we rounded the final turn at which point I moved to challenge and we cleared Glasser and braced for a challenge from (Matt) Zuccarello (with Gianni) Like the previous Billings event it was a two-horse charge to the wire and so close a photo was needed to declare a winner. Gianni was a nose back at the wire and Winwood Scout faded and finished third. Faraldo co-owns the winner with trainer Richie Banca. And for "Joltin' Joe" it was his first winner on American soil this year after having had two victories in France earlier this season. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

The inception of the idea of importing some French horses, cast in a comment to me made by Alex Dadoyan the executive director at SOA of NY over 18 months ago, became an odyssey that he and I initially never thought might ever become reality.  Originally cast as just something we would try to implement in November of 2017, we concluded that this project might fail because the finances to complete it might be too lean after the fall yearling sales and we were just too busy working on showcasing the "Day of Champions and the International Trot. Besides, all the the details had not really been thought through.More time was needed and with the break at Yonkers coming over some 10 days in May and June we thought it best to try to have the details in place by then. Alex and I decided to acquire 24 head- if possible - from France. A few questions like price; what would we ask interested parties to do; how could we make it fair to all; and how could we do our due diligence in the selection of these horses and gain the trust, of the 24 potential new owners of horses they had never seen? My first thought was to get someone like my friend Mike La Chance to come on board to help us select the horses. Then Ray Schnittker signed up and when Ron Burke was brought on board by Alex, all the expertise one could hope for was settled. Thinking that we need commitments from people, a non refundable payment was decided upon to test the real intent of the potential new buyers. That filled up quickly once it was decided that these horses would be written into a series of races just among themselves so as to avoid their being thrown in with horses taught more speed over shorter distances and harder tracks. They might never initially have had a shot. So off to management to get an agreement on the series, the number of legs and the purses. Both Bob Galterio and Steve Starr, thought that legs of $30,000 each and a $100,000 final and longer distances was the way to go. Next the details with the French Le Trot had to be worked out to get horses that were currently racing who were geldings and would only require a 24 hour quarantine, had to be found for a price of $25,000 saving an additional $3,000 for that matching cost for the shipping put up by the SOA of NY. The SOA board approved the project that has a substantial cost but provided everyone, and anyone, the opportunity to participate. The ARK at JFK -where these horses will be shipped to-is a $62,000,000 state of the art brand new facility unparalleled in the world today. That quarantine cost is being absorbed by the SOA of NY and besides saving the new owners money, more importantly it saves these horses from further shipping to Newburg, NY after traveling from France to their point of departure in Belgium . While the Le Trot or Cheval Francais as it is also referred to, had an original list of 132 horses meeting our general criteria that had to be whittled down to 60 or so head. That number, we assumed, would all be shipped for our convenience to the great training center owned by Le Trot outside of Paris known as Grosbois. Later we learned that our volunteer team of experts would travel the country by road, rail and air to get to see 12 here, 8 there, in either Paris, Nice, Normandy, Laval or Bordeaux.... France is bigger than we knew. The team of Burke, La Chance and Schnittker proved to us that not only is the harness horse breed very tough and durable but our trainers are even tougher. The schedule was very, very tight and saw unanticipated bumps in the road like a plane cancellation and a train strike that popped up 1 hour before departure. The audibles that had to be called by our French counterparts and guardians Damine and Emmanuelle came with the expected look of desperation but always an improvised last minute solution. It was always apparent to me that this was strictly a working trip but I never anticipated that our team would be subjected to this kind of a work load. Our guys nevertheless went about their business and trained all 60 or so head without a complaint. Comments like, "Oh, he's real good; too slow; may have a breathing problem; is unsound; hits his knee; interferes behind; I like him a lot; we are taking this one; I hope I get that one" was precisely the best we could hope for from this team of pros. We had vets at every place to pull bloods, scope and x-ray every horse if that was the call. In Bordeaux, Burke drew some of that racing juice out of La Chance as they had a match race while egging each other on. While there is never a guarantee how one will turn out, at least they did their best, worked like you would not believe, had a little fun and were happy to do it for the project. As Ronnie Burke commented he was intrigued with " the novel idea and felt it was creating some excitement in the game". The journeys end will be at Grosbois where all the horses selected in the draw will be beginning to arrive on Monday and will be taken care of by Le Trot, insured by them and the SOA until their arrival at the ARK at JFK . There, additional insurance will be at the option of the new buyers. While at this beautiful facility they will be under the exclusive care of the USDA until the bloods come back from the US government lab, disease free. The new owner will have to arrange shipping, either with their own individual trailers or can ask Global Horse Transport who will supervise all importing details and requirements once they are landed, or whoever is chosen, to ship them to their new homes at the new owners expense. The SOA 's financial obligation to the ARK will end at the conclusion of the time the blood results come back and any longer stay, for a spiked fever, or the failure to pick up the horse the minute the release is approved will fall on the new owner. by Joe Faraldo and John Manzi

Latham, NY- With the pending sale of the Empire City Casino and Racetrack the Harness Horse Breeders of NY expect the New York State breeding and racing program to continue to flourish. The sale of Yonkers Racetrack and Empire City Casino was inevitable but the long term commitment made by New York State to support agriculture is well documented. Regardless of any changes of ownership at Yonkers Racetrack and Empire City Casino we are confident that the economic impact made by the Standardbred industry will continue to be protected and supported. Without racing the VLT's would not exist at Empire City. The Breeder's are further aware that the current full scale casinos in upstate New York are not performing at expected levels. Any rush to add another casino is not expected with the current saturation level. The Breeder's believe the VLTs and racing are a lucrative business model at Empire City and expect that will not change for some time. Now is actually a great time to take advantage of the NY breeding and racing program. The current number of 739 yearlings eligible to race in 2019 is the smallest in 15 years. With purses at an estimated $14 million the opportunities to make money could not be better. If you further consider the $1 million in funding for residency Breeders ' awards with the fact that there is a smaller pool of resident eligible horses, breeders awards could easily reach twenty five percent of earnings. The following statements were (taken in part) from an article in Harness Racing Update on June 1st, 2018. The Harness Horse Breeders fully support the comments and strongly recommend the breeding, racing and buying of NY eligible horses. From Harness Racing Update (full article can be read here): Joe Faraldo, the president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York (SOANY), said there is no reason, yet, to be concerned about racing's future at Yonkers Raceway in the wake of Tuesday's announcement that the Rooney family has reached a deal to sell the Westchester, NY track and its Empire City Casino to MGM Resorts International for $850 million. Reached in France, where he is part of the team scouting French trotters to purchase and bring back to the United States. Faraldo said "the horse people have a contract with Yonkers that provides for more than 230 days of racing annually through 2019." The Harness Horse Breeders expect, as Faraldo stated, "that will continue past its 2019 expiration date, as will the purse enhancement from the VLTs. Racing and VLTs are married in (New York State) legislation for the benefit of the operator as well as the agriculture and racing industry's tens of thousands of jobs." Faraldo added that "MGM Grand may even help grow purses thanks to its expertise in the casino business. Slots contribute, by far, the vast amount of the revenue stream for every casino operator and MGM Grand is one of the best operators I know of," Faraldo said, indicating a growth in slot/VLT revenue would deliver more money to purses. There certainly may be changes but until we sit down with the new people for future terms and conditions governing the conduct of racing, there is no need to engage in wild speculation or make further comments at this time. Faraldo said. "Suffice it to say that the SOA of NY's long standing position regarding the protection of racing and agriculture is well known. We look forward to working with the new management after the official approval is given by the NYS Gaming Commission." From the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

It has long been a belief by many in the harness racing business that “the horsemen are the guardians of the sport,” and there is no doubt that we have a direct and abiding interest in making sure this game survives. And while we have long known that some entities and individuals who have benefitted from harness racing would rather see us and our game disappear, rarely is this unfortunate and ugly truth detailed as blatantly as it was in Harness Racing Update on March 18th.  In an article discussing the future of marketing harness racing and the relationship between racino/casino owners and racing, Jeff Gural was quoted on the record as admitting that “the tracks – including me, if I’m just wearing my ‘track hat’ – all want harness racing to disappear as quickly as possible” and “so they are going to do whatever they can do to make that happen.” While Mr. Gural’s conclusion may not be a surprise to astute watchers of the game, the cavalier manner in which he so easily dismisses an agriculture/harness industry that employs tens of thousands of New Yorkers is stunning and should be required reading for every regulator and legislator who has heard our horsemen’s and breeder’s concerns in recent years.  Sadly, it seems the owners have forgotten that their entire VLT model was made possible by a thoughtful legislative initiative that mutually benefitted education, agriculture, breeding, racing and the state treasury.  And now it is clear that at least some of them are not only not our “partners,” but are absolutely an enemy among us actively seeking to kill our industry. So while there are certainly exceptions – I’m proud to report that the SOA of NY has been working very effectively in partnership with management at Yonkers Raceway to expand racing into new global markets and concurrently grow our domestic handle – the reality is that too many track owners have no interest in helping to support racing through innovative marketing or other means. Yet there are those who want us to take their advice, use and spend our purse money,  while they plot our demise.  This is despite the fact that in New York there is a marketing and promotion allowance that the state provides the operators of these VLT machines, who collectively take in $300,000,000 per year, for the promotion of both video lottery gaming and horse racing.  The state clearly understands the value of allowing the operators to seamlessly market the sport along with their own interests.  Once again, let’s be clear that no one is naïve enough to be particularly shocked that this is how the racing industry is treated by some of our supposed “partners”.  However as partners  and guardians of the sport – guardians working seemingly alone every day to find new ways to help our industry grow and thrive –we have a duty to continue to try to work cooperatively despite such comments which and  speak out about the clear, direct interests lined up against us…and which was finally just confirmed for all of the world to read. By Joe Faraldo President, SOA of NY  

Yonkers, NY --- The annual meeting of the United States Trotting Association’s District 8A, encompassing downstate NY , was held on Saturday (Jan. 20) at the Hilltop Oval on the night Foiled Again was foiled in his attempt to achieve a career milestone 100th win. But as they used to say of the Brooklyn Dodgers, “wait till next time”. District Chairman Joe Faraldo , Yonkers GM Bob Galterio and newly appointed Director of Racing Cammie Haughton guided the 27 attendees through the debate over various rule change proposals. The was no change in any of the current directors including Tim Rooney Jr., Jordan Stratton or Mike Kimmelman, Jr. The entire list of rule changes and the sole by-law proposal may be found here.  Below are the recommendations of those attending the District 8A meeting to guide their directors at the USTA national meetings in Columbus this March. The recommendations are presented as they were numbered. It was noted that at the beginning that the wording used in all of the proposals should indicate the rules  will not apply at “extended pari-mutuel tracks. under the jurisdiction of the various state racing commissions” (uniform claiming allowance percentages) - Approved  2. (head numbers) – Rejected 3. (define “length”) – Approved 4. (breath analyzer requirements) - Approved   5. (vs. human illegal drugs) - No action taken 6. (officials at charted matinees) – Approved 7. (track condition, variant, wind indicator) – Rejected 8. (identifier verifies males)- Rejected 9. (stable vs. corporation) –  Specifically section 8.04 trigger the Rejection  10. (scratches due to date change) – Approved 11. (“fair start” pole) - Rejected 12. (driver in accident – medical clearance) - Approved  13. (human disorderly conduct) - Rejected 14. (equality of substitute driver) -- Rejected with the caveat, primarily because it was felt the decision should belong to the trainers, not the judges in the first instance and the words comparable with similar skill sets for multiple race wagers could involve way too much discretion in the judges. 15. (whipping regulations #1) – Rejected; it was felt tgat the current rule is sufficient. 16. (whipping regulations #2) – Rejected 17. (“unnecessary” on track conversation) – Rejected 18. (“change of sex” notification) – Rejected  19. (restricted trainers/”trainers”) – No Action taken 20. (pleasure horse registration) – Approved  21. (correction of ownership transfer date) – No action taken 22. (non-reusable horse names) – Rejected  23. (embryo transfers) – Approved  24. (dissolution of district meetings; by-law change) – Rejected with the thought of not only expansion to some form of an on line USTA open discussion and exchange of comments before a cut off date for on line voting.There was also a discussion of the improvements made at Yonkers Raceway by Management with support from  its horsemen . That support and cooperation included moving the finish line, removing the photo finish’s distorted angle, adding larger fields and distance races for global consumption, resumption of the International Trot, removing the passing lane to create more movement and thus excitement in the races as well as discussions on the Belmont initiative, a slanted starting gate and banking the racing surface. A very positive highlight was the appearance of a couple from Somers, NY who are totally new to the business, have acquired a few horses and are enjoying and participating in the game to the fullest. Lastly, the efforts of Cammie Haughton in his careful attention to the important detail of avoiding head to head post times with other tracks in order to increase handle at Yonkers crafted by Management’s Bob Galterio was duly noted. Joseph Faraldo

ALBANY - The owners of Yonkers Raceway are considering various options as they look to develop the 100-acre site that's home to Empire City Casino — including possibly moving the 118-year-old harness racing track to another location. In recent months, there has been increased discussions about moving the harness track to Belmont Park on Long Island as part of a plan to eliminate horse racing at Yonkers and Aqueduct in Queens as a way for more amenities tied to their casino operations. "We have discussed it at some length, and we’re actually advocating such a maneuver because it would free up the land for Yonkers. It would free up Aqueduct for a convention center that the governor has been advocating for for some time," said Joe Faraldo, president of the state's Standardbred Owners Association, which represents the harness horsemen at Yonkers. "Both of these properties would be shovel ready for expansion, and our concept was that the revenue stream that comes from the casinos that go to racing would follow us over to Belmont Park." Yonkers Raceway eyes adding to casino, track How VLTs saved NY horse racing Racinos seek better tax deals from NY   Options underway The talks coincide with Yonkers Raceway's announcement last month that it hired J.P. Morgan Securities to explore ways to bolster the sprawling property, possibly either with new investors or a sale by the Rooney family, which has owned the facility since 1972. The discussions also come amid a turbulent time in the Northeast gambling market -- with the possibility of casinos in northern New Jersey always looming and with the state's plans to offer three downstate casino licenses as soon as 2021. Empire City runs a massive video-lottery terminal facility with 5,222 machines and is the largest private employer and taxpayer in the city. It is an enticing spot, just 15 miles from midtown Manhattan. Tim Rooney Jr., general counsel at Empire City, told the USA Today Network's Albany Bureau that any number of options will be considered -- though he would expect the casino operation to continue under any expansion or partnership. "Their role is to evaluate the interest from outside in the property and in the business," Rooney said of J.P. Morgan. "We, over the years, have fielded interest from numerous parties about the property and the business, and this is just an effort on our part to formalize the process. We’ve told them: Their instructions are to see what the interest is in our site." Rooney recognized that moving the track for other development is a possibility. The grand vision for the property could include a hotel, parking garage, more restaurants and event space -- and even a sports franchise. Rooney didn't mention the Belmont talks, but said, "We’ve been kicking around the notion of maintaining the racing, but seeking approval to offer it somewhere else. And this is all very preliminary, and we haven’t gotten beyond the drawing board phase with this, but conceivably you could move racing to another site in the state." He added, "The vast majority of people watching and betting on the races here are doing so via the internet or OTBs or off track. As long as you have a facility where you can race and you can broadcast the signal, conceivably you could do it anywhere." Resolve, at left, driven by Ake Svanstedt. , won the 2016 $1,000,000 International Trot at Yonkers Raceway Oct. 15, 2016. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)   Track move The idea of putting harness and thoroughbred racing at Belmont -- something that is done at some tracks around the globe -- also comes as the state is considering competitive proposals from the New York Islanders hockey team and New York City FC soccer team to make Belmont Park in Elmont, Nassau County, their future home. Faraldo said moving Yonkers racing to Belmont, which along with Aqueduct is owned by the New York Racing Association, could help bolster the redevelopment at Belmont. Resorts Worlds, owned by the gambling giant Genting based in Malaysia, runs the huge racino at Aqueduct in Queens and could be interested in buying the track land if racing ended there to expand its gambling operation, Faraldo suggested. Indeed, Resorts World and Gov. Andrew Cuomo once had a grand plan for a $4 billion convention center at the property, but the deal fell apart. Both Resorts World and Yonkers would still provide their share of gaming revenue to the track operations if the tracks moved, said Faraldo, who said he has talked to state officials about the idea. Also, Yonkers would have a more lucrative one-mile track inside the main track at Belmont instead of its current half-mile track, which would boost racing, Faraldo said. Already, horses ship in and out of Yonkers between races rather being housed there. So it would be the same at Belmont, he said. "We would hope that Genting would be interested in purchasing that extra property to make this grand thing work," Faraldo said. "That would put money in the coffers of the state, and it would also, as we see it, help refurbish and build the additional facility expansion that is needed at Belmont’s main track."  (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)   Genting declined to discuss any private discussions, but noted that it is planning to expand its operation. Both Resorts World and Yonkers are hopeful to get full gaming licenses when a moratorium on the licenses expires in 2021 -- a move that the Legislature made in 2013 to let four upstate casinos gain their footing before New York City-area casinos are brought on board. “Genting has always looked at the current Resorts World NYC facility as just the first phase of a multi-faceted, integrated resort destination," Michael Levoff, a spokesman for Genting Americas, said in a statement. "That vision is now slowly taking shape with the start of construction on a 400-room hotel and additional non-gaming amenities -- with hopefully more to follow in the future as the market demands.” Lee Park, a spokesman for the state Gaming Commission, said the agency had "no position on the matter." NYRA, meanwhile, suggested it wasn't interested in a new racing partner, saying it supports 17,000 jobs and has $2 billion in annual economic impact in part through its year-round stables and training at Belmont. "We are focused on ways to enhance and improve our thoroughbred racing and training facilities, not replace them," NYRA said in a statement. Help from Albany Not having horse racing on site at the state's eight video-lottery facilities would be a major shift from the state's initial objective in 2001 to save horse racing by letting the tracks add the slot-machine-like devices. The law, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to boost state revenue, allowed for VLTs only at racetracks -- and it worked. The New York purses -- the amount paid out to winners in the races -- are among the highest in the nation, and revenue at the so-called racinos has soared. So whether state lawmakers would let the racinos operate without racetracks on the premises is uncertain. And they would clearly have to pass a new law for any of these ideas to move forward. Assembly Racing Committee chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, said he was unaware that Yonkers may consider moving the track, and he questioned whether it would gain support in Albany. "The VLTs and the track go together," Pretlow said. "So that I don’t know about. I don’t think that would work." Yonkers has had mixed results at the state Capitol in recent years. It avoided having the state picking a new casino in Orange County, which would have been a direct competitor, and instead the state choose Sullivan County farther north. The track, though, has been unable to get tax parity with Resorts World for capital improvements, which has slowed its plans to build a hotel and parking garage. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano raised concerns about moving the track, saying it is part of the city's history. "I certainly don’t want to see the track go anywhere. I think the track is a very important part of the fabric of our city," Spano said. But he recognized the Rooneys have long sought to keep the facility alive. "I think that if Yonkers Raceway is hopefully able to develop a partnership or a sale that it is done with an eye toward expanding and putting in place full gaming, which I think has limitless possibilities for the city – in terms of tax dollars, thousands of new jobs, a convention center, a hotel. That’s what comes with full gaming," Spano said. The Empire City Casino in Yonkers. (Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)   The future ahead The track, which first opened in 1899, has had a tumultuous history: Attendance would sometimes hit 40,000 people in the grandstand in racing's heyday 60 or 70 years ago. But as interest in the sport waned, so do did the fortunes at Yonkers. The Rooneys put it up for sale in the late 1990s -- and there was a glimmer of hope that once it could lure the New York Jets or another sports franchise to build a new stadium there. The law to allow for video-lottery terminals transformed the facility. Last year, it had revenue of $590 million, a 6 percent increase from the previous year. Rooney said the family-owned track now sees a next phase for the track and casino. He said the state might be interested in moving if the roughly 15-acre track if it means growth at the Yonkers site because the state gets a cut of the racino's revenue. "We would need legislation, but I don’t think it would be controversial," Rooney said. "I think we could get the support of the horsemen, and I think the state is basically our partner in this facility with the taxes that we pay, so I think the state would look at it as an opportunity for us to do something at the property that would likely make it a more attractive site for people to come and visit and perhaps gamble here." But ultimately, the owners are looking to pair up with a major developer who has a vision -- and a bankroll -- for the site. As for possibly selling the whole property, Rooney said, "We’re not looking at it exclusively that way. I mean I think that it could be a possibility. "We’ve been here for 45 years, and we’re a big believer in this facility and we’re not looking to get out, but I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what people’s interest is in terms of if they want to partner, or if they want to go their own." By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief Reprinted with permission of the Iohud site

YONKERS, NY --The final preliminary contests prior to the series finale in the NAADA Fall Trotting Series were staged before the harness racing betting card at Yonkers Raceway on Friday night(Nov. 17) and when the judges hung the official signs Paul Minore and Joe Faraldo emerge victorious in their respective divisions. Minore won with his old warhorse Wygant Prince in 2:01 while Faraldo scored behind Tough Get Going in 2:00.1. In his contest Minore worked out a perfect two-hole journey behind Bobby Krivelin's Connie Keeper. "Krivelin had to pole position and he raced to the lead and since I had the two hole I fell in behind him on the first turn," Minore explained. Once the field settled Minore just played follow the leader which he did until the homestretch. "When we rounded the final turn I eyed the passing lane and then angled Wygant there and he trotted on to one length victory over Krivelin's horse.," Minore added. Peter Kleinhans and Toss Cartwright finished second with the pacesetter Connie Keeper third. Minore owns the 10-year-old altered son of SJ's Photo who's trained by Taylor Gower. It was Wygant Prince's second consecutive victory and fifth this season." It was also the 93rd lifetime driving victory for Minore, a retired New Jersey high school track and field coach whose most famous pupil was world champion Carl Lewis. In the other split NAADA president Joe Faraldo smoked 'em with a solid 2:00.1 wire to wire triumph with Tough Get Going, a 4-year-old Kadabra gelding he co-owns with trainer Richie Banca. The hardworking barrister sent his charge to the lead from the three-hole and despite the short field they were constantly challenged. But Tough Get Going lived up to his name and turned back all challengers despite being looked in the eye from the half to the finish. "We made some equipment changes", Faraldo said referring to his trotter. "He was breathing funny, making noises like he was gasping for air at the end of the mile the last few times I drove him so we put on a throat plate and tied his tongue and it seemed to do the job " At the wire Tough Get Going was a neck better than runner-up Mr. Ridgetaker ,d driven by Dave Yarock. Tim Lizzie and driver Joe Lee were three lengths back in third. by John Manzi for NAADA

Brett Sturman is right on target when he opines (Harness Racing Update 9/15/17) that suspending a horse is unfair to the owner, but surely it is also harmful to the industry; an industry that seems to be intent on chasing owners away from the auction rings and claim boxes under the well intended, but misguided popular mantra of much desired "integrity”.   Clearly, as Sturman properly pointed out, any owner found to be complicit with illegal activity, should be severely punished; but to punish an owner for entrusting his or her horse to a trainer who is licensed and fully able to participate by virtue of a license issued by the Commission is just wrong.   If the owner is to be charged with failing to be “more” mindful, diligent and selective about engaging a trainer, should not the regulator be held to the same standard in licensing and re-licensing trainers?   If owners are to be punished for engaging the services of “certain” licensed trainers, perhaps the regulator should consider publishing a list of those licensed trainers they "mindfully, diligently and selectively" issued a license to, and advise owners that in spite of their grant of a license, these licensees are the ones owners should avoid.   This would tremendously help owners in making an informed choice, rather than subjecting owners to such harsh punishment imposed, due to the lack of diligence on the Commission’s part in issuing a “stay away from” trainer a license in the first place.   Punishing owners after the fact for using a trainer who subsequently violates the trainer responsibility rule or for the failure to guard a horse from the administration of an illicit substance is simply not going to produce the desired result, especially when many regulators see fit to adopt the unfounded medication guidelines of RMTC. Enforcement of these guidelines has created false positives already and now could be a further predicate to cause owners to suffer.   Many of the sport’s top trainers have been the subject of permissive medication violations simply because they are the trainer.  Now is this new proposal going to allow regulators or/track track operators to pick and choose, not only which trainers should suffer but now which owners should, or should not, be penalized?    Consider something else, when does the 90 day suspension of the horse commence, when the positive is reported, or at the conclusion of a the trainer’s hearing or the exhaustion of the judicial process?   If from the report of the positive, how does the regulator compensate an owner whose trainer is eventually exonerated?   Can a horse’s ownership be transferred before the process is completed or can the Commission ignore one's right to the "free alienation of property"?   Will the Commission undertake alerting the entire industry that a horse is potentially subject to suspension at the end of the process or does a new and unsuspecting owner now suffer?     We have seen similar pitfalls erupt when Commissions decided to pre-race detain high TCO2 horses and paint them with an industry's "Scarlet Letter".    No doubt the industry needs to champion a level playing field. As usual, its knee-jerk efforts, lauded in so many quarters, make for positive sound bites and a purely negative and mostly counterproductive result.    If no real investment is made in properly policing this sport, no misguided punishment of owners who have done no wrong, will ever be a meaningful substitute for the integrity that we desire, as there may not be owners left.   The only real solution to the problem is, and always has been, the investment in “boots on the ground” investigations by the Commission, valid medication guidelines followed by appropriate testing protocols at experienced labs.   Attempting to clean up the problem via innuendo and the slander of trainers, accomplishes nothing more than a further erosion of the industry by driving out owners whose only foibles were hiring fully licensed conditioners.   Joe Faraldo  

I am writing this response to a letter written by Joe Faraldo to HarnessLink. First of all, I feel qualified to respond because of the fact that I am president of Harness Horsemen International and past president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.  The first thing that comes to my mind is this senseless vendetta that Joe has with Jeff Gural. I think Joe is an intelligent man, who truly has done his best to help the horse people at Yonkers Raceway, but I think in his letter he has his facts all wrong about Jeff's motives. He has taken Jeff's comments way out of context.  Let me begin by saying that the Jeff I know is honest, well meaning, and loyal to a fault. I am going to start from the beginning.   We raised $100,000 through a fundraiser by the horsemen of New Jersey for the then candidate for New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, based on his promises of how he was going to help our industry.  But after he was elected, Christie proceeded to tell me at a very early date, that we had 24 hours to come up with eight million dollars [$8 million] or he was going to shut down the Sports Authority racing facilities, which meant the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park would close immediately. I thought of only one person that I knew who could help, Jeff Gural, if he was so inclined. I proceeded to call him and tell him of our predicament. Without hesitation he told me he would meet me in Trenton the next morning.  As it turns out, Jeff was able to make a deal with the state to keep the Meadowlands open.    What is interesting about all of this, is that Jeff never thought or knew anything about a possible casino. Jeff's only thought was to save our horsemen and our industry from a sudden tragic end.  To address Joe Faraldo's comments that Jeff was saying that he did a favor for a couple of horsemen is ludicrous. He did it for all of us and the industry which he loves.  He saved harness racing for without the Meadowlands there would be no racing in New Jersey or,  for that matter, most racing in this country would probably succumb.    I sometimes wonder why some people want to take something good and turn it into something bad for their own gratification  Joe took Jeff's comments way out of context.  I don't care how you look at it, the Meadowlands is a success, especially when you look at the surrounding racinos with all their slot money.  They don't wager half of what the Meadowlands does without any help from the slot money, good horses, or many of the top drivers. I am not saying that horsemen should not think about themselves or their families, but don't act or think that Jeff did this solely for his own monetary enhancement, because he stepped up to the plate initially to save our industry.   So whenever you read the articles that criticize Jeff, remember (A) maybe someone has an axe to grind and (B) when you are racing at the Meadowlands some night, you probably wouldn't be there if it wasn't for Jeff Gural.  I know that many of you, including myself at times, don't agree with all of Jeff's decisions, but they all come from his love of the game and what he thinks is best.  So I am taking this time to thank him and all the GRATEFUL horsemen and women who can still enjoy making a living at what they love at the Meadowlands.  Sincerely, Thomas F. Luchento

Jeff Gural says he would not have built the new Meadowlands investing $40,000,000 of his own money, if he knew at the time that harness racing drivers George Brennan and Brian Sears would leave the Meadowlands to race at Yonkers Raceway. President of The Standardbred Owners Association of New York, Joseph Faraldo responds to Jeff Gural's claims, that were printed in a recent Harness Racing Update. Here is his letter; I just read in Harness Racing Update that Jeff Gural claims that his motivation in investing so much money (his or others; I’m not sure) to keep The Meadowlands open was that he was doing George Brennan and Brian Sears a “favor”. Does anyone naively think that this investment was made other than because there was a potential to make a great deal of money and enjoy increased personal wealth from a North Jersey Casino?  This is beyond comical; Jeff writes to HRU that he was investing in a racetrack because he wanted to especially do these two guys a favor. According to him, "Had I known, I doubt I would have taken the risk as I thought I was doing them a favor". Doing them a favor! Give me a break! After the amusement wore off, it gave me pause to consider who was he doing a favor for when he invested in the shuttered quarter horse track at Tioga Downs?  If not for himself, then for whom?  And why wasn’t such an investment made long before the air was filling with talk of Racinos coming to New York? The Investment clearly was for a potential Tioga Racino. If this was nothing more than a “favor” as well, the scream heard when a casino for Tioga was initially rejected puts serious doubts to that premise. Similarly, Vernon was an Investment made for a Racino, and hopefully a Casino, and again one has to wonder who was being done a favor for them? While a Racino materialized at Vernon, which was only five miles from the Oneida Casino, a subsequent Indian compact precluded there ever being a Casino at Vernon. Recently, the mantra then shifted to, ‘I’ll close the Racino and the Racetrack unless the horsemen agree to cut days (sound familiar) and/or I get $2 million dollars in tax relief, otherwise horsemen, the industry and government will suffer.’ Curiously, it was Jeff himself who publically stated that Vernon would be fine if Tioga was ever given the very Casino he demanded. So far, The Albany Times Union has written two Editorials pointing to the irony that Jeff as an advocate for Casino legislation in New York was now its chief protestor, because the very Casino Legislation he championed was hurting his bottom line.  The Oneida Indian Casino was five miles away from Vernon from day one, and the threatened closure has helped drive the Vernon VLT players away. Players at Vernon have lost confidence in the payouts offered, erroneously thinking that the VLT machines will not pay out the mandated percentages, and they have apparently returned to the reservation. The VLTs at Vernon are down some 17%. Ask for Casinos and cannibalize the market. One has to conclude, as has been widely reported, that the present Casinos are underperforming, simply because there are too many. I guess for one person, the one doing everybody else a “favor” only one NY Casino would have been OK. Getting back to doing favors, The Meadowlands scenario is no different than Tioga or Vernon. None were Investments for horsemen, whether individually, collectively or as an industry. The investment was done to make a personal score. Selling this as doing anyone or any entity a favor has been pretty well sold to the industry. Make no mistake about it; all these track acquisitions are calculated business decisions, pure and simple. Nonetheless, it amuses me that one has the audacity to write that favors were being done for any individual or individuals as the rationale that motivated these acquisitions. A big favor is being done for sure; for one person, and one person only. After what Jeff did to both George Brennan and Brian Sears in individual, separate tirades at The Meadowlands, it becomes apparent that in Jeff’s mind it was the horsemen who were supposed to be doing Jeff the “favor”, by giving him convenient cover. Once George, Brian and others took their talent and skills elsewhere, and The Big M was rendered an abbreviated meet, a class B track, Jeff was left without a plausible argument for his “sacrifices” for an “industry”. The only sacrifice Jeff has made is his Investment “on the come”, for an East Rutherford Casino; and the only “Industry” he truly cares about is his own. It’s high time Jeff is called out for his opportunistic ways, for which he shamelessly invokes the names of our industry’s best. While calling him out invites further vilification our Industry’s best and all the others who speak out don’t need any more “favors” from this guy! Joseph Faraldo

Oh, if only Joe Faraldo knew how many times he had to go around on the half mile track in a mile and a quarter race perhaps he could have won two races tonight (July 28) at Cesena and boosted the USA's chances to at least make things closer in the Italian-American Challenge. But thank goodness for Tony Verruso and Alan Schwartz yelling out "Joe, we got a another round to go," did Joe start to drive again before pulling up thinking he had won". In the end the very heavy favorite driven by one of the three Italian champions they threw at the Americans, just buggy rode past a newly awakened Faraldo who ended -up second" said Alan Schwartz who garnered the show dough in that contest. But Faraldo's mistake was indeed costly. But truthfully, no one was beating the Italian champion even with a fautless drive. Verruso and Ciufettelli faced a wall of blocking Italians who demonstrated the art of team racing and how to measure points. In the next race, at a one mile distance, Joe once again found the front with "Only One Diamond" and he backed into every challenger over a measured first half and then poured on the gas for a faster last half to win for the second time in the six race USA-Italy Challenge. Tony Verruso, the Billings capo finished third after a little traffic trouble. All in all, the lost ground on day one couldn't be made up but the American team was valiant in their efforts in the last four races of the challenge. "The Italians put a hurtin on us early as we got acclimated to their driving style and we had to wade through the myriad of detailed instructions" said Alan Schwartz, the American with the most wins of any US competing amateur today. After all was said and done, the Italians, from Moretti, Ruffato, Zorretto, the brothers Mecheloto and Stefano De Lano could not have been more understanding and accommodating to their American friends. Touring Venice and Padova, a trip to the most famous Scuderia of the Biauzzi , to the he most enjoyable lunches and dinners at some of the finest restaurants in the Veneto region, especially the Villa Italia, in Padova the Italians treated their visitors like royalty sparing no expense to make team America feel most welcome just as the French had recently for a team of Americans in May. The intent now is to have the Italians come to America, perhaps around the time of the famed Hambletonian in August of 2018 for a rematch and hopefully for America, some final revenge. Truly making friends abroad, cultivating interest in our product and hoping to see a renaissance in Italy's harness racing as well as worldwide, takes work nothing else suffices. Many of the Italians are still interested in American blood and also wish to see the books of America and France opened for the betterment of the sport. According to Joe Faraldo, " when you hear Italian or other languages spoken at a US sale, like Harrisburgh or Lexington, remember these are people who love our sport and in Italy they are demonstrating much patience and love for the sport as you can see from the note below, and how they are all coping with a less than ideal situation. 'An interesting aside to the Italian trip concerns the Hippodromo (racetrack in Padova ) which because of the government's pull back of support for the industry, initially was just shut down. But then after three years it reopened with a disco open every evening with live music to attract young people despite racing only two days a week. On those two days the food at the track is free, but for drinks you must pay. There is outdoor seating with umbrellas at each table and areas some for children to play. As one might imagine attendance is up and so is wagering. In short, the track has been resurrected from the dead. The government still has the industry in a state of limbo and the horsemen have to wait seven months to get paid purse money and there's always the chance in Italy, that it might never happen. Like horsemen all over the world who keep this game going, those in Italy are survivors, because they truly love this sport." In Cesana, the track was so soft and perfect for the horses, not so much just for the timer. One could not hear these beautiful animals as they navigated this half mile oval near the sea. While we will not be there Saturday evening we are told the place is sold out. Apparently they are still doing somethings very, very right." By John Manzi  

The night of July 27th in northern Italy started off with the Italian team once again besting the Americans, scoring yet another victory. It came in the first event over Padova's half mile oval when Ortello Zorzetto piloted Urgara wire to wire which dashed hopes of any chance for team America. Aided by a teammate riding shotgun the Americans have yet to forego the individual sacrifice for a team effort, which is frowned upon by US regulators and bettors alike but seemingly acceptable on this side of the pond. Tony Ciuffetelli, the most consistent of the American team thus far, picked up a fourth place the first race. But depression was fast setting in. Then came the second chance in the next event and the least likely to emerge a winner after two horrible experiences the night before was the so called team leader, Joe Faraldo, who racketed a fractious Tieppo Mrs to the lead from her outside post at 21-1 and she never yielded and went on to win in 2:01:4.What was especially pleasing for Faraldo was that the fractious mare had made breaks in half of her previous 15 starts. According to Faraldo, " it was a long time since my first ever win with my P license which came here at this track, Padovanelle, 25 years ago with the horse Aggonismo from the stable of Mr. Valpo". Mario Greco the trainer and regular reinsman for Tieppo Mrs was shocked at Faraldo's win but very, very happy with the share of the win from his mare's most often unpredictability and her difficulty to drive, especially for an amateur. After his recent driving victory at Vincennes it was a little bit disquieting for Joe who claimed to get only wins across the pond . Alan Schwartz, got a taste of the Italian team racing as he was charging for second but got the tarantella from Team Italia pushing him so wide to rest second from his grasp and forcing him to to a third place finish. The evening ended with a visit from Walter Destro, the 15 year president of the Veneto club who started the friendship competition with The North American Amateur Drivers Association 25 years ago. That special treat and a super dinner at Villa D' Italia with Team Italia topped off a night when previously the US team was just treading water. Hopefully, Ciuffetelli,the most consistent point getter,will be picked up by Tony Verruso, Schwartz and Faraldo to pull the preverbal rabbit out of the hat. Tomorrow the American team meets the former Italian Champion Michele Canali and another team of Italian super amateurs at the beautiful Cesena racetrack by the sea. Frequented by large crowds, the Americans will need to be at their best and will need some bocca lupo for sure. by Joe Faraldo with assistance from John Manzi

Pasta with tears. Never heard of it? Well just ask the four Americans who were led to slaughter in Treviso, Italy in the first of three legs of the Italian American harness racing challenge rematch. In the two contest races today the Italians decimated the Americans. The best the visiting Americans could muster was a fourth place finish by Tony Ciuffetelli. Treviso is a 1,000 meter, or 5/8ths mile racetrack, and each race was predictably won by the Italians; Maurizio Scala won the first followed in the winners circle by the affable Giancarlo Moretti , whose famed Morano glass factory is world renowned. The unfamiliarity with the horses and surroundings didn't help the Americans but excuses aside, the Italians once again out-drove the Americans. ."We can't blame the horses, we can only blame ourselves", Faraldo reasoned. "But as it always seems when you don't do well there is always something or someone else to blame and the truth is when you don't drive well it is your own fault". However, both Tony's , Ciuffetelli and Verruso, drove well but the horses they drove could have been more competitive with those our Italian friends had. However, our hosts have been treating us as well as could be expected, especially with good food and great wine preparing us for what might well be out fate. As Mike La Chance once said after losing a race in Delaware, Ohio," I just turn the page and get ready for the next one." Tomorrow's races are at Padova and for us a fresh start. It has to get better, otherwise we Americans will have nothing to hope for but a good meal and more outstanding wine. If team USA fails to catch up to the seemingly insurmountable Italian lead by the final leg at Cesena on Friday, the former Italian amateur champion, Michele Canale and friends will be waiting to carve up the remainder of what may be left of our American team. While it is true that amateur racing is all about human relationships it is sad not to bring home the bacon while enjoying the tremendous hospitality of our Italian hosts. The American team will heed the advice of Mike La Chance and trek on behind the starting gate tomorrow. by Joe Faraldo, leader of the visiting American team, with help from John Manzi

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