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Although the American harness racing amateurs hoped for different results when they traveled to Mallorca for the second edition of the Spain vs. NAADA Friendship Competition their hopes vanished when reality set-in. Led by Joe Faraldo, president of NAADA and joined by Hannah Miller, Alan Schwartz and Joe Pennacchio the American team is doing little more than enjoying the food, wine and camaraderie with their hosts. Faraldo shared the following sentiments after the first day of the competition. "Midst a rich brownish earth, calm breeze, winery tours and into the depths of the their most famous caves, surrounding us with kindness and hospitality, the Spanish then proceeded to clobber our NAADA amateurs once again. This time the races were on a track no greater than 650 meters long on a track that is only wide enough for six across with a running horse (Thoroughbred) rail. And then add a field of ten horses and set the distance at 1750 meters, about three times around with a bell-lap for the benefit of Spanish and Americans alike. "Compare that to our half-milers, which are a large 800 meters by comparison, and it was easy to see the slaughter that began. "In the first event four brave souls, led by the hot handed Hannah Miller, waged battle with the six Spanish drivers who clearly had the home track advantage and perhaps the better horses which gave them an all round edge. Going for a purse of 700 Euros the American team bested only a third place gained by Alan Schwartz. The second event found no American in the top five. "However after the race we were treated to an elaborate cocktail party where the main talk, fortunately for us, centered around the upcoming International Trot to be held at Yonkers on October10th after a twenty year hiatus." According to Faraldo, on Sunday the competition moves on to Son Pardo racetrack in Palma, the bustling town and capital of Mallorca with the Americans hoping for better results.That will be followed by a farewell dinner of Paella and roast suckling pig. "At Son Pardo racetrack a group from the French PMU subsidized a race of 50,000 euros with a plane load of French horses shipped in." Faraldo added. "The PMU has made great strides in Spain and it continues,along with Le Trot, to propagate the continent with their breed and betting distribution system to the advantage of all, now sending about 100 French trotting horses to Ireland long a stronghold of American pacing blood." John Manzi

Over the years the International Trots were raced on American soil and featured the most outstanding aged trotters in the world. Since the race was an American initiative, one would figure that the host country would have had the most winners in the event.   Initially that was not the case but over the course of time the United States trotters emerged victorious 15 times, only three more than the amount of French victories. Sweden’s three International Trot wins is third best followed by Canada’s two. Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands trotters each had one win in the international event. And though they started multiple times in the International Trots, no German or Finnish horse has won the event. A Finnish horse “Seabiscuit” is currently being considered as a potential invitee for this year’s event.   The inaugural International Trot was staged at Roosevelt Raceway in 1959 and that track was the site of the event until its demise in the early summer of 1988. The last International there was won by Sweden’s Callit when he turned down France’s Potin d’Amour in 1987.   With the 1988 edition threatened by the closure of Roosevelt Raceway the powers to be were in a quandary. But Tim Rooney came to the rescue and quickly made plans to race the event at Yonkers Raceway. In doing so he hired Lew “Tootie” Barasch, Roosevelt’s premier PR man who was instrumental in all the previous International Trots at the Roosevelt facility. Tim even secured the United Nations as the venue for the post position draw. With Yonkers Raceway as the host, the world saw the United States’ Mack Lobell cruise to an easy victory over Canada’s AJ’s Speed in 1988.   Six additional International Trots were then staged at Yonkers Raceway before economics forced the race to be discontinued in 1995. America’s last international champion was Giant Force in 1993.  Giant Force was owned by the Spar J Stable (the Katz Family) and Ted Gewertz, still prominent veteran horse owners today.   Giant Force a son of Meadow Road came into the August 14th, 1995 event with impressive credentials having won the Nat Ray at the Meadowlands the previous week. Driven by John “Sonny” Patterson, Jr. Giant Force, one of two American horses entered in the eight-horse field, used a burst of speed down the stretch to catch Meadow Prophet and just yards before the wire, he dashed past the Swedish champion. Giant Force, the 3-1 second choice, behind Sea Cove, the German horse who was the 9-5 favorite, trotted the mile and a quarter on the familiar oval in 2:27 flat, shattering the  then world and stakes record set by the French horse Reve d'Udon in the 1990 International Trot and equaled by Sweden's Peace Corps the following year.   "It was getting a little late so I thought it was about time to get started with him, and he really kicked in,” Patterson explained while being interviewed after the race. “Luckily, we got behind Meadow Prophet, and my horse really kept on coming down the stretch.”   Unquestionably all involved with Giant Force’s victory were ecstatic but none more so than Ted Gewertz, a fan of Latin dance music who admitted he named Giant Force after a favorite album cover of the same name by bandleader Ray Barretto.     “I was especially thrilled since not too many years previously I was just a player attending the races three or four times a week sitting in the grandstand and now there I was standing in the winner’s circle as a co-owner of the International Trot champion,” Gewertz said, and then added with a smile, “not bad for a kid from the Bronx!”   Gewertz couldn’t say enough good things about Tim Rooney and the way he graciously extended both himself and Yonkers Raceway to all the participants, both before and after, that International trot.   “After the race we all were invited to a hotel in Westchester for a post-race celebration and Tim had champagne on hand for all the other participants in the race. This after Tim personally opened his home to all at a pre-race dinner,” Gewertz added.   The work behind the scenes to make the International Trot come to fruition can be mind-boggling when dealing with the likes of transportation, quarantine, licensing and all the details prior to the race. Joe Faraldo, president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, was instrumental in the return of the International Trot and he and his organization are working arm-in-arm with Yonkers Raceway to expand simulcast wagering to Europe.    Because of those simulcasting inroads in Europe, for the first time Europeans can not only watch the race when it is being contested, but also wager on the race. This year’s International is expected to have two US representatives, a Canadian representative Bee A Magician and up to seven European trotters.   The mile and a quarter event will be Saturday October 10 with a 3:25pm post time. First race on the card is scheduled for 2pm.   Yonkers International Trot 1993 - Giant Force with John Patterson Jr driving     Standardbred Owners Association of New York

Some might have figured that since the visiting Spaniards never drove pacers that the USA team would have an advantage in the second leg of the Spain vs USA Friendship Competition on the Wednesday (June 3) card at the harness racing meeting at Monticello Raceway. But that never materialized because in the first of the two races on the card Spain's Bernado Cirer not only was victorious but his countrymen finished second, third and fourth.. However, Matt Zuccarello got the USA team off the floor when he reined the winner in the second event. In the first event on the card,race 3, Cirer gunned Caviart Jet for the lead and they gained command before the quarter pole and Cirer didn't seem to care that the horse he was parking out, Camcracker Dynasty, was driven by teammate Jaume Riera. After the :29 first quarter the Spaniards raced head to head to the half in :59.3 and they were still heads apart as they passed the three quarters in 1:30. However when they headed for paydirt Christopher Bliss, driven by Spain's Agustin Pou, overtook Camcracker Dynasty to garner second place but he couldn't catch Caviart Jet who went on to a two length victory. Christopher Bliss faded to third in the 2:00 clocked mile. And to add insult to injury for the Americans Miquel Capo finished fourth with Fifth Wave giving the visiting Spaniards the top four placings. However, there was one caveat that might have changed the race outcome. When the field headed for home Hot Pistol and Alan Schwartz, who had been stalking Caviart Jet throughout the mile, took advantage of the passing lane and they were poised to go on by the leader until Schwartz's charge went off-stride and they lost all chances. After the race, Cirer, a carpenter by trade in Mallorca, felt super. "I'm very happy" he said in broken English. "I was second at Yonkers yesterday and I win today at Monticello. I love America." The winner, Caviart Jet, is owned and trained by Steve Moore. He paid $8.40 for win." However, the NAADA team did get revenge in the second division, race five, when Matt Zuccarello won with Remus Blue Chip in a time of 1:59.1. In a race in which there were two tiers of pacers for most of the mile Zuccarello and Remus Blue Chip were hung on the outside in second-over position. "I was stuck on the limb from the start but I wasn't alone. There were others parked, too," Zuccarello said. "I had little choice other than to stay behind cover and I sat calmly and waited. "The field was tightly packed as we headed to the three- quarters so I slipped three- deep and my horse gained the lead and from there he was strong all the way to the finish line." Tylers Great who cut the all the fractions on the front-end, finished second for Spanish amateur Miquel Capo. Hannah Miller came from far back with Delco Tross for third money. The USA's Gerry Fielding was fourth with 35-1 shot Wink And Nod. The winner, Remus Hanover, is owned and trained by Herbert Lux III. He paid $5.10 to win. After the points for the first two legs were totaled Team America is all but finished trailing the Spaniards 78 to 48. "We need a miracle at Tioga (Downs) on Friday," said NAADA president Joe Faraldo. John Manzi

A banner day for the sport of amateur harness racing climaxed when "Lady Monica" Banca and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff each won their respective $6000 divisions of the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday night (May 28). Banca won on the betting card while Hechkoff's triumph came in a non-wagering trot. Earlier in the day at, Monticello Raceway, "Hot-Handed Hannah" Miller won two amateur events, a NAADA trot and a Catskill Amateur Series pace, marking the first time that amateur drivers--and there were four-- did double duty racing at one track in the afternoon and at another in the evening. Once again Banca's victory was on the betting card at Yonkers Raceway and it came with the same horse (Meadowview Arny) that she used to defeat a team of visiting French amateurs in an international competition a month ago. As she did against the visiting French, Banca wasn't content to follow anyone and moved her horse to the lead after getting looped on the first turn. Once on the engine she kept up the strong pace and she and Meadowview Arny trotted through fractions of :29, :58.4 and 1:28.2 before going on to a length victory over Wygant Prince and driver "Coach Paul" Minore. Third place went to Rev It Now driven by Hannah Miller who was looking for a perfect day of three wins in three drives that day. Banca, Norwegian by birth, notched her second driving victory in five seasonal starts. The winner is owned by Joe Faraldo and Chris Wittstruck and trained by Richard Banca. He paid $3.40 for win. In the non-wagering split Hechkoff, as he usually does, sent his trotter, No Recess, to the lead from the seven hole and they had two lengths on the field as they passed the first stanza. Hechkoff seemed comfortable on the lead but as the field headed to the halfway point David "Proud Poppa" Glasser pulled the three hole with Csi What's My Name when he heard Dave "Steady As" Yarock coming with Rompaway Alvin. Glasser's trotter and No Recess and side by side around the paddock turn and up the backside and they were still one-two heading for home. But No Recess proved stronger and turned back Csi What's My Name for a one length victory in a 2:01.1 clocking. Mark "Shoprite" Schullstrom picked up the show dough with Catalyst. Hechkoff's RBH Veentures owns the winner whose trained by Kyle Spagnola.For Hechkoff it marked his seventh winning drive of the season and 61st of his 15 year amateur driving career. by John Manzi for the Billings Series  

Right on the heels of having hosted a group of amateur drivers from France the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) is readying for a contingent ofharness racing  amateur drivers from Spain on Sunday, May 31. According to NAADA president Joe Faraldo the team of Spaniards which they will be hosting are from Mallorca and many are world class amateur drivers. And even before the Spaniards have arrived they have plans to return the favor and entertain a group from NAADA in late September. "We have planned the races in Mallorca in September the weekend of 26 & 27" noted Augustin Mascaro-Pou, one of the amateurs who'll be driving in the Friendship Competition. "Sept 26 we will have races in the small track of Manacor and Sept. 27 in Son Pardo where also will be the biggest international race that we have in Spain where will come eight top trotters from France, which is part of the European Tour of French trotters." Although NAADA will field different teams at each venue the Spanish team slated to be making the trip to America for this International Friendship Competition include the following drivers: Jaume Bassa-Riera -- - Partner in Sport Trot company of horse products - Winner of the Spanish Breeders Crown; Represented Spain in 2001 in European Apprentices Championship Augustin Mascaro-Pou.---. Police Officer. General Secretary of European Amateur Drivers Federation (FEGAT). Winner of Spanish Amateur Championship in 2006 and Spanish reprresentative in 2007 European amateur championship. Miquel Vich-Capo-- Breeder and Livestock dealer. Winner of Spanish Amateur championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Spanish Amateur Champion in 2012 .. Spanish rep in World Amateur Cup in 2014. Bernardo Jaume-Cirer--A partner in kitchen manufacturer's company and winner of many races on the European continent. At least one of the Spanish competitors is fairly well known by NAADA's Joe Faraldo. "I have raced with Jaume (Bassa-Riera) in Taranto, Italy several times and finished behind him every time. Maybe this time an American team can turn the tables on my good friend," Faraldo said. "Jaume has gone to the World Cup events more than anyone else appearing as far away from home as New Zealand. He was also the translator for the exceptional Spanish reinsman who competed in the World Cup for Professional Drivers which concluded at Yonkers Raceway where the Spanish guy finished third to Jodie Jameson and Corey Callahan." The Spanish contingent is expected to arrive at JFK International Airport on May 31. After a day of touring New York City and enjoying outstanding sights and excellent cuisine the driving competition will begin Tuesday, June 2 at Yonkers Raceway. On Wednesday (June 3) the competition moves to Monticello Raceway and after the races the group will head to Goshen for a tour of the Hall of Fame and Historic Track. An entertaining trip on the World Yacht with dinner and dancing will take place on Thursday. Then Friday (June5) after a tour of the Mark Ford Farm in Goshen the contingent will be off to Tioga Downs for a race there. On Saturday (June 6) a 6am departure from Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY will get the Spaniards to south Florida where they will drive in the two races at Pompano Park that evening. The following day the Spanish contingent will head back home to Mallorca. John Manzi for NAADA

When Maurice Chevalier sang "thank heaven for little girls for they grow bigger every day"; little did NAADA president Joe Faraldo know how true those words were until the USA-French Friendship Competition was completed at The Meadowlands on Friday night (April 24) when America's Hannah Miller won the final leg of the event which vaulted the USA team to a harness racing victory 107-96. Miller reined Jacks to Open to a 1:57.1 triumph which was the second conquest by a girl in the four -race competition. The USA's Monica Banca had won the first leg at Yonkers Raceway last Tuesday (April 21). The girls really came through for us," Faraldo admitted, and then added that winning or losing never really comes into play because amateur racing is a good excuse for human relations. But don't get me wrong, winning is still preferred." After the French team was licensed in New Jersey they had a tour of the new Meadowlands grandstand before they put on their battle gear and readied for the competition in the first race on the betting card. Going into the race it appeared the USA team had the stronger steeds in the 10-race contest and although Hannah Miller's horse got the late money and was sent away as the favorite it took a confident drive by the young lady to get him to the winners circle. When the wings of the staggered starting gate folded Bob Hechkoff gunned his Bambino Hall to the lead from the 10-hole and they had control in a :28.2 opening stanza. Meanwhile Miller and Jacks To Open found a position along the pylons in the back of the field. Hechkoff was forced to keep after his trotter because Picture Perfect (Steve Oldford) was getting plenty of fresh air challenging while on the limb. Smartly, Ms Miller moved Jacks To Open second-up a behind cover supplied by Picture Perfect at the halfway point as the timer flashed :56.4. Oldford's trotter kept going forward which also moved Jacks To Open closer to the lead as the field passed the three quarters. On the final turn Miller moved her charge three-deep and they trotted around Picture Perfect and then took aim at Bambino Hall who had scooted away to a four-length lead at the top of the long homestretch. Perhaps it was the quick pace in the early going that took a toll on the Hechkoff's trotter but as they headed for paydirt Jacks To Open ranged alongside the leader and then spurted away to score a one length triumph over Bambino Hall. Third place was garnered by 55-1 long shot Bloomfieldcantifly, driven by yet another girl, France's Sophie Blanchetiere. The winner, owned by KDM Stables and trained by Nick Surick, paid $4.40 for win. Hannah Miller continues to ride her amazing hot streak. Her record this season now stands at six wins in 21 starts with 12 of those 21 races resulting in an in-the-money finish. In her fledgling career, Miller has won 15 of 41 starts. After her victory which gave the USA the upper hand against their French counterparts Hannah was asked how she felt. "I feel great now but I was a little worried before the race because Perfect Picture won in (1):55.2 last week", she said. "But the race set-up right for me. When he (Perfect Picture) got hung out I saw an opportunity and took advantage of it by moving second-up at the half and then following cover all the way to the top of the stretch. In the lane my horse was the strongest and at the finish we were the best." Now that the competition is over, on Saturday night (April 25) NAADA will treat their guests to a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty on the World Yacht. Then on Sunday the French amateurs will head for home. by John Manzi for NAADA

After the first leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association-sponsored, France vs. USA International Driving Competition, which was held at Yonkers Raceway on Tuesday (April 21),the American team had vaulted to the lead on the strength of a wire to wire harness racing triumph by America's Monica Banca. After the day was over and all involved were breaking bread together, Joe Faraldo, chided to France's Romain Poree that the US team was ahead by seven points. "We're not worried, "Poree told Faraldo. Like good wine we French get better with age." And did they ever. On Wednesday afternoon, April 22 in the second leg of the contest held at Monticello Raceway, Poree, a racing journalist and son of a professional harness trainer, put on a driving clinic winning both races in the France-U.S.A Friendship Competition and with one horse, a pacer by the name of Bay Street, returned a $205.00 win payoff. It also happened to be the first time that Poree had ever driven a pacer, or as he called him "an ambler". For the record, only trotters are raced in Europe. Amateur World Champion in 2010 and French Champion in 2009, Poree was perhaps more at home behind trotter, Wheres the Clicker, whom he guided to victory in the other contest event. But his triumph from the eight- hole with Bay Street had the railbird's eyes wide open. After falling into sixth position on the first turn Poree and Bay Street were content to follow the leaders. They were sixth at the quarter; seventh at the half and eighth and last as they passed the third stanza. But on the final turn Poree moved his charge wide and in the lane they came on like gangbusters-seemingly out of nowhere- and at the wire they had collared the betting favorite Spencer B and USA teamster Alan Schwartz, in a mile timed in 2:00.2. France's Sophie Blanchetiere, with Caviart Jett, made it a three-horse photo but they were on the short end and had to settle for third place. Bay Street paid a whopping $205.00- $53.00 and $14.00 across the board. The pacer is owned by Ruth Ingham and trained by Vernon James. In the other division Poree showed great driving ability when he kept a fractious Where's The Clicker well off the gate as the field began motion and then eased his charge up to his pole position and they got away trotting. Despite the horse's purported shenanigans, Where's The Clicker went off as the betting favorite in the race. After a :29.2 first panel, set by Candid Man, driven by fellow Frenchmen Christophe Roszak, the pace slowed as the field approached the halfway point. So Poree moved his trotter first-up and was alongside the leader in a 1:02 half. Where's The Clipper cleared Candid Man after the three quarters, Poree then braced for a hard charging Chuckie B, and driver Alan Schwartz. However, Poree's charge kicked in a 29.1 final stanza and they cruised to a three-length triumph over Schwartz's trotter in a time of 2:03.1. Candid Man held on for the show dough. The winner, owned by Mike Simons and Cary Greenberg, paid $80 for win. Mike's son Shawn Simons is the trainer of record. Living up to words expressed by Romain Poree on the first day of the competition France went from seven behind to lead their American counterparts by seven points after two days were in the books. And as the point totals were being tallied, Poree turned to Faraldo and said; ""I told you we'd get better before it's over." With Thursday relegated to a sight-seeing bus tour of NewYork City, the final leg of the Friendship Competition will be held at the Meadowlands on Friday (April 24). By John Manzi for NAADA

The North American Amateur Drivers Association members will have to be at the top of their game when a contingent of French amateurs invade the U.S. later this week. NAADA will host their French counterparts for a week beginning on April 19 and continuing through April 27. The organization's president, Joe Faraldo, has tentatively lined-up competitions at four tracks in the mid- Atlantic region beginning with the Tuesday matinee on April 21 with races at Yonkers Raceway, followed by races on Wednesday at Monticello Raceway on April 22, Freehold Raceway on April 23 and at the Meadowlands on April 24. The races slated at Yonkers Raceway will have international appeal when they'll be simulcast to off-track outlets in France, something that began after Yonkers and the SOA constructed bridges for making American races available for wagering in Europe. "Not only will the races be on the betting card at Yonkers but the contests will be simulcast to the off-track outlets in France and they will be available for the French-and other European- harness players to wager on them," Faraldo explained. "The participating French amateurs are especially well known in their homeland." The quintet from France includes Sophie Blanchetiere, four-time French amateur champion who has been tops in 2013 and 2014; Romain Poree, amateur world champion in 2010 and French champion in 2009; Michel Poirier, who was the top French amateur in 2003; and Christophe Roszak, who finished in the top ten of the French championships. A fifth driver, Hubert Jay, is the club representative and will only drive in the two races at Yonkers and The Meadowlands when there will be a field of 10 starters. NAADA will also field a powerful team which will change from track to track. Among the top-flight American amateurs who will be driving in the competition include Alan Schwartz, Bobby Krivelin, Steve Oldford, Bob Hechkoff, Tony Verruso, Matt Zuccarello, Paul Minore, and the U.S A's own "female flash", Hannah Miller. But as president Faraldo has often said "amateur racing is just an excuse human relations". With that in mind NAADA will host the French contingent and not only treat them to races at four various American tracks but their visit will include many other amenities. Among them will be a guided bus tour of New York City, a visit to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame and Historic Track as well as luncheons and dinners at Don Peppe, Circus, Zero Otto Nove, Delancey's and more. Prior to their French counterparts return trip home they will be treated to a sail around the Statue of Liberty--by the way a gift from the people of France back in 1886-- on the World Yacht. While here, NAADA will house all the members of the French team at the Bentley Hotel in NYC which will be their home base in America. " All arrangements have been the work of event coordinator extraordinaire, Alicia Schwartz, whose tireless work is always much appreciated by guests from every country that NAADA has ever hosted," Faraldo added. John Manzi    

By now Hannah Miller is used to competing against the boys. And since she's among the few female amateur drivers in the United States she more than holds her own against her harness racing counterparts. At Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon in a leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's (NAADA) trotting series Ms. Miller wore down the pace-setter and then held off a late charge by the betting favorite to score a hard fought head victory with Rev It Now in a time of 2:01.. After the race got underway Ms. Miller allowed Rev It Now to coast away from the gate and watched Tagmaster ( Bob Hechkoff) and Wygant Prince (Paul Minore) circle them on the first turn. At the first panel, which was trotted in :29.1, Tagmaster had command followed closely by Wygant Prince. Miller was content to be in third position at that point, but when Hechkoff grabbed leather she was out and moving while Minore chose to stay put in the cat-bird seat. Still third at the halfway point Miller's veteran trotter kept grinding toward the lead but they were second on the limb at the three quarters. However the only lead Miller's charge had came at the wire after Rev it Up trotted by Tagmaster in mid-stretch and then held off the late rally by Wygant Prince to score a head triumph over Minore's trotter. Rev It Now, a 9 year old altered son of Revenue S is owned by her driver along with the Nick Surick and the Erv Miller Stables. Sent off as second choice in the wagering Rev It Now paid $6.40 to win. Watching all the action in that contest while himself chasing the leaders and finishing fifth with Gimme The Loot, NAADA president Joe Faraldo said he is impressed with Hannah Miller's talent. "Being Erv Miller's daughter she has good breeding," Faraldo said jokingly. "I mean,she grew up in the sport and she has solid knowledge of harness racing. And she drives a horse really well, too. However, she'll be moving up in class later this month when NAADA hosts the French Amateur Drivers in an international competition. Hannah will get to compete against another top female driver and the reigning French Amateur Champion, Sophie Blanchetiere whose won over 350 races. We're counting on Hannah to bolster our NAADA team in that competition." John Manzi for NAADA  

The upcoming NAADA Trotting Series, which is currently underway, will arguably be a training ground and hopefully ready the U.S. amateurs for international harness racing competitions against a French contingent In late April followed by contests against the Spanish amateurs in early June. "The dates have been set and the final details are being worked out in order to host our amateur friends who will be coming from across the sea," noted NAADA president Joe Faraldo . "It will be the first time that we (America) will race against our French counterparts on American soil." After checking the credentials of the French amateurs it appears that NAADA reps will have to be at the top of their game because the French are loaded with power. Sophie Blanchetiere is the reigning French amateur champion, a title earned for the second consecutive year. She has driven over 352 winners. And France's Romain Poree won the World Championship last year and is a three- time world champion Add to their prowess, teammates Michel Poirier and Christophe Roszak and the French will field four drivers who are in the top ten of the French Championships. Life for the NAADA reps (yet to be named) will continue to be interesting, to say the least, because on the heels of the French come the talented Spanish amateurs. "I believe the Spaniards have raced in America before against the Maryland amateurs a few years back but it will be the first time that they will be the metropolitan New York area," Faraldo explained. "And looking at the stats they are coming with the NAADA teams have their work cut out for them." Among the Spanish team members is Miguel Vich-Capo winner of the Spanish Amateur Championship in 2014-2013 and 2012. He has driven 174 winners thus far in his illustrious career. He'll be joined by Jauma-Bassa Riera, the winner of the Spanish Breeders Crown and a winner of 124 races. And Agustin Mascaro-Pou, a police officer who is the general secretary of F.E.G.A.T (the Euorpean Federation of Amateur Racing) has 28 wins. Also among the Spanish invaders are Juan Antonio-Horrach-Moya, an art merchant with 26 wins and Bernado Jauma-Cirer, a manufacturer and winner of 25 races. Races in the international competitions against the French are scheduled at Yonkers, Freehold and Monticello Raceways and at the Meadowlands. The race tracks where the Spanish amateurs will vie with NAADA are not yet finalized. By John Manzi for NAADA

Columbus, OH --- U.S. Trotting Association President Phil Langley announced Friday that Ellen Taylor, Paul Fontaine, the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, represented by President Joe Faraldo and Executive Director Alex Dadoyan, and Yonkers Raceway, represented by Vice President and General Manager Robert Galterio, are the recipients of the annual USTA President's Awards. Langley will make the presentations at the USTA Board of Director's Recognition Luncheon at the Hilton Columbus at Easton (Ohio) on Sunday (March 15). Ellen Taylor is the executive director for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people's lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. "One thing we all agree on is the need to get young people involved in harness racing," said Langley in announcing the awards. "No one is more active in this pursuit than Ellen Taylor. Every summer she travels thousands of miles conducting youth camps and does more than anyone to get and keep youngsters attracted to our sport through the Harness Horse Youth Foundation." Paul Fontaine, a partner in the law firm, Fontaine & Croll, Ltd. who served as deputy majority leader during his decade (1966-76) of service in the Rhode Island State Senate, holds and held key executive positions in major organizations in the harness racing industry. He is the current president of Harness Tracks of America, was the former president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New England, and is a director and vice president of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. He was elected to the U.S. Harness Writers Association New England Hall of Fame in 1995 and served on the USTA board of directors for more than 30 years, where he was chairman for seven years. Fontaine has owned harness horses for more than 40 years, among them 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life and No No Yankee, winner of the inaugural Woodrow Wilson in 1977. "Few have made a bigger imprint in so many areas of harness racing as Paul Fontaine has over several decades," said Langley. "In addition to his contributions as a leader at numerous industry organizations, he has championed many voluntary causes and has been a very successful horse owner." Both the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway are recipients of the President's Award for their successful partnership with LeTrot and French PMU to simulcast Yonkers' racing to France and other countries in Europe. In addition to France, the signal is also sent to Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Holland, Estonia, Malta and the Spanish Basque community. The European response has been strong with more than $300,000 in average wagering per race. "I know this was not something that happened overnight," said Langley. "For more than a year Tim Rooney, Alex Dadoyan, Bob Galterio and Joe Faraldo worked to put this together. The success has been far greater than expected. They are still improving the product and their efforts are expected to culminate with a renewal of the International Trot this fall." President Joe Faraldo and Executive Director Alex Dadoyan will accept the award on behalf of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway Vice President and General Manager Robert Galterio will represent that track. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Marvin Kaufman was born in The Bronx, NY. The lovable curmudgeon was a Yonkers harness racing  fixture for decades, a diehard NY Yankee fan and Civil War aficionado. He was a lifelong native of the Bronx though the ritzy residence of Riverdale, NY, disguised where his heart always resided.   Marvin served in the US military and served two years in Korea. He loved, and owned standardbred harness horses and enjoyed going to the races, especially Yonkers Raceway watching his son who campaigns a stable at the Hilltop Oval. Marvin and Sandra travelled with their horses on the NY Sire Stakes Circuit and to other states where they competed. No trip was too long for this veteran and his family.   Marvin, before and after his retirement, enjoyed American History, especially the Civil War era, and spent his vacations traveling to almost every one of battleground sites of the War. He adored general Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery during the Civil War. Chamberlain later became the Governor of Maine. Marvin would get angry when he visited General Chamberlain's home in Maine and people would not know who Chamberlain was and how he served his country. Marvin also loved his Bronx based Yankees and especially his favorite - Mickey Mantle. Many times Marv would insist on visiting and revisiting Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and the Mickey Mantle Museum, family in tow.   Marvin was always interested in the affairs of the SOA of NY and the only annual meeting he missed was the last one in December. Marvin also volunteered at the Yonkers Fairs, the Westchester Food Bank, distributing USTA information pieces for prospective owners and handing out handicapping aides on site. Marvin has already been, and will continue to be, greatly missed by his family, all his friends, the SOA Board members and those fans at the track who have noticed his absence already and shared their condolences.   Marv was 81 years old when he passed on January 17th, 2015. He is survived by his beloved wife Sandra, his constant companion of 50 + years. Sandra serves on the Board of Directors of the SOA. Marvin left three children, two daughters Melissa, Michele and son Ian, who is a trainer/driver.   Marvin Kaufman served his country, was a devoted family man, civil war buff and a crazy, crazy NY Yankee fanatic. Most of all he loved harness racing. Marvin was a true friend to all with the exception of NY Mets fans and anyone unfamiliar with General Chamberlain.   Rest in peace our dear friend.   Joe Faraldo, SOA of NY President  

To add to the new found harness racing camaraderie with France, Joe Faraldo, as president of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, has extended an invitation to a quartet of French amateur drivers to be their guests and compete against representatives of NAADA at various east coast racetracks in late April.   And Faraldo has already received a confirmation from Hubert Jay of UNAT (French Amateur Association) saying "we are very pleased to cross the Atlantic with a delegation of four amateurs and their guests and enjoy your hospitality."   Races for the competiton are tentatively scheduled to be held at Yonkers Raceway, Freehold Raceway, Monticello Raceway and Vernon Downs.   "We are pleased to be able to host our French friends and look forward to the competitions and the friendships that amateur racing fosters," Faraldo said.   According to Messr Jay, among the French contingent are Sophie Blanchetiere, the 2013 and 2014 French Champion, and Romain Poree, winner of the World Championship in 2010, both of whom are well known to the French horseplayers. John Manzi  

Despite warnings about a predicted snowy and icy Saturday afternoon in lower New York, 40 intently interested and concerned U.S.T.A. members, including some of the harness racing sport's most prominent owners, attended the annual meeting of U.S.T.A. District 8A in the Good Time Room of Yonkers Raceway. Reelected District 8-A Chairman Joseph Faraldo, and directors Mike Kimelman, Jordan Stratton and newly reappointed track director Bob Galterio lead discussions concerning a variety of controversial issues, including questions involving the efficacy of cobalt as a performance enhancer and the proper establishment of a scientific baseline for the substance. In addition, the significance, or lack thereof, of the U.S.T.A.'s $250,000 per year social media campaign and what metric there is, if any, to measure the effectiveness of this effort were considered. With regard to television coverage, the existing metric has not been made public, as it was barely able to be measured; an extremely disappointing circumstance.  USTA rule change proposals were thoroughly discussed and voted upon:  ·         Approving in principle proposal # 1's intent, but recommending that all distance numbers in the uniform pylon proposal be revised at the annual March meeting.  ·         Rejecting proposal # 2 which seeks to prohibit a driver with a financial interest in more than one horse in a race from driving therein.  ·         Approving as a group all Racing Under Saddle proposed regulations embodied in proposals 3, 5, 6 and 8.  ·         Rejecting proposal # 4 mandating that drivers with but one exception may not remove any foot from the stirrups, and recommending that the inconsistent provision in current rule 18.08 in the last sentence be deleted from that rule.  ·         Approving proposal # 7 eliminating the need to qualify when adding or removing hobbles for horses on either gait.  ·         Lastly, approving staff's recommendation to the registration rule and flat fee for non- extended pari-mutuel meetings found in proposals 9 and 10.  The group then enjoyed a buffet dinner in the track dining room during the conduct of Yonkers 12 race Saturday night live card. USTA District 8A meets at Yonkers Raceway  

On Saturday, December 6, The Standardbred Owners Association of New York (SOA), the horsemen's association representing the over 1,000 owners, trainers and drivers regularly competing at Yonkers Raceway, held its annual membership meeting.   During the meeting, the results of the SOA's 2014 Board of Directors election were certified. In the driver/trainer category, Michael Forte and Jordan Stratton were unopposed in their re-election to three year terms. In the owner category, Ed Fucci, Sandra Kaufman and Stanley Noga were all re-elected to three year terms, also in unopposed fashion.   Additionally, the following Association officers and trustees of the Welfare and Retirement Funds were elected to serve during 2015. They are:   Officers: President and Chairman of the Board: Joseph Faraldo 1st Vice President: Peter Venaglia 2nd Vice President Irv Atherton 3rd Vice President: John Brennan Treasurer: Irv Atherton Secretary: John Brennan   Trustees: Peter Venaglia (Chairman) Joseph Faraldo Irv Atherton John Brennan Jordan Stratton Ray Schnitter (1st Alternate) Henry Gargiulo (2nd Alternate) Chris Wittstruck (3rd Alternate)   At the meeting, the Board discussed the recent success of the French simulcast export experiment, the significant expansion of the project during 2015 and the work being undertaken towards commingling of the domestic and European wagering pools. SOA Executive Director Alex Dadoyan received a special recognition reward for his excellent work in making the French experiment not only come to fruition, but blossom in 2015   The membership was also apprised that, in collaboration with Yonkers Raceway management, details of next year's reintroduction of the International Trot are already being set in place.   Subject to approval by the New York State Gaming Commission, the 2015 racing season will commence on Friday evening, January 9.     From the SOA of New York

On October 28th at Yonkers Raceway, Brian Sears did what only 14 previous drivers in the storied history of our sport have accomplished: He achieved his 9,000th driving win. Prior to making Yonkers his home, Sears was the leading driver several times at a quartet of tracks, including the Meadowlands. At Yonkers, Sears has impressed his peers, as well as the public, with his tenacity and professionalism. It's little wonder that he topped all Yonkers drivers in 2013, and boasts the highest UDRS of all drivers with more than 1,000 starts at the Hilltop Oval in 2014. SOA President Joe Faraldo stated: "At 46, there is no limit to Brian's career potential. He simply, and quietly, wins year in and year out. Call him the White Knight; call him the King; call him whatever, but don't forget to call him a winner. The SOA is proud to have Brian as a mainstay of our driving colony, and are even prouder that Brian will represent the United States this week at ''Trotteur Francais International Meeting 2014' to be contested at Vincennes in France. A special set of American colors are being readied for Brian as he competes with drivers from those other countries that have signed on to simulcasting and breeding agreeemnets with the French." From the SOA of New York  

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