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Fowlerville, MI -- On Monday, July 22 there was a five-horse Billings Trot at the Fowlerville Family Fair in Michigan posted as the last race on a lengthy harness racing card that featured Michigan-bred colts and fillies and being not far from his home, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford not only participated but he came away with yet another driving victory when he guided Blasco to a gate to wire triumph in a 2:05 clocking over National Forces, driven by Jerry "the Jet" Mihelich. When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded Oldford sent Blasco to the front and they led the others by the first quarter in a soft 33 seconds. However, Steve picked up the pace when "Fast Freddie: Davis came calling on the outside and the trotted by the half in 1:04. Up the backside the two leaders were still heads apart until Blasco rebuffed the challenge and went on to a one length victory. Sitting a two-hole journey paid dividends for Mihelich as his Natural Forces rambled home for second money. Third place went to Stirling Boudica driven by "Michigan Miriah" Wright. The race winner, Blasco, is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Oldford. Oldford, whose quickly becoming the face of amateur racing, owns many standardbreds employs many trainers and will travel almost anywhere to drive spirited steed. But in recent years he's become a member of multiple amateur racing organizations. Currently the vice president of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series Steve was recently awarded the Harness Racing Museum's Amateur Driver if the Year Award. It was the sixth time Oldford has received that honor.. A few seasons ago Oldford was named National Amateur Driver of the Year and now with 11 wins, four seconds, nine thirds and a .416 UDR he's got a good chance at yet another national driving award this season. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Yonkers, NY--Like fine wine Joe Faraldo just keeps getting better. The driving barrister scored yet another harness racing victory with his old warhorse Tough Get Going when they bottomed-out the field with an impressive 2:00 wire-to-wire victory in the $8000 NAADA Trot at Yonkers Raceway tonight (July 18). "His wonderful ability of leaving like a runner sure helps when we're looking for a good position and tonight he grabbed the lead on the first turn and we were pretty comfortable after that," Faraldo said via phone after the race. After starting from the five hole Faraldo sent his charge to the lead and they had command even before the first turn and they led their competition by the first stanza in :29. Snug on the lead Tough Get Going led the field by the halfway point in 1:00.2 but at that point David Glasser hustled Eyore Haover up alongside Faraldo's charge and the two then raced side by side up the backstretch. As they approached the three quarters Hannah Miller-who was getting a two-hole journey- moved Jacks To Open tighter on Faraldo's back . "Hannah's horse was fresh and with Glasser on the limb I backed into Hannah to keep her in behind me as long as I could. She did shake loose at the top of the stretch but it was too late," Faraldo added. At the wire Tough Get Going rambled home a 1-1/2 length winner over Jacks To Open. Eyore Hanover hung on for the show dough in the non-wagering event. For Smokin' Joe it was his 150th driving victory   by John Manzi for NAADA    

Columbus, Ohio-- The granddaddy of all the amateur harness racing organizations, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, moved on to Columbus, Ohio for a trotting contest for members of the mid-west region and when the judges hung the official sign Utopia and driver Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford romped to a 6-1/2 victory in a time of 1:56.3.. Sent off at odds of 2-1 from the pole position in the eight horse field Oldford played hardball when the betting favorite, Eternal Quest and driver Richard "Dusty" Rhodes came calling. Undaunted, Oldford kept Utopia on the lead while Rhodes made an eternal quest with his trotter hoping to gain command... but it wasn't to be. Utopia breezed through fractions of :29.1 and :58 confidently in front as Eternal Quest got stuck on the limb and then tired badly late in the mile. As the field approached the final turn Oldford's charge began to open daylight on the field and when they passed the third stanza they were two lengths to the good as the ¾ -mile timer flashed 1:27 At that point lucky patrons who wagered on Utopia knew that their tickets were good when the veteran trotter cruised to an easy victory. Meanwhile the race was for second money as Brent "the Zanesville Clipper" Davis rallied Beatrice to overtake Security Guard in rein to former two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, Dein "the Dream" Spriggs. The race winner is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Terry Deters. For Oldford it was his 158th driving victory And at the Hall of Fame Banquet in Goshen, NY on July 7 Oldford was presented the Hall's Amateur Driver of the Year Award making it the sixth time that he received such an honor.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Monticello, NY--Amateur harness racing was the order of the day at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (July 11) when a NAADA trot and a Billings trot was joined on the betting card by a pace in the GSY Series. When the 10-race card was completed Dave Offenberg copped the NAADA trot with Fiji in a time of 2:00.4 while "Hurricane Hannah" Miller's Jacks To Open hung on for a head triumph in 2:00.1. And making its first appearance at the Mighty M was a GSY Series pace which saw Monica Banca hustle Macherati to an easy 1:57 victory. In the NAADA trot Offenerg's Fiji went an outstanding mile, never seeing the pylons and then rallying in the lane to a head victory over Joe Faraldo's Tough Get Going who cut all the early fractions. Cheeky Little Minx finished third for Joe Pennacchio. "Being parked the entire mile is an auspicious way to win a race but I'll take it," Offenberg said as he handed the lines to the horses caretaker. "When I couldn't make the top I just sat still out there on the limb and I was so pleasantly surprised that when we rounded the final turn Fiji was still on the bit and we got up in the final strides to collar Joe's horse." Owned by Offenberg's Allister Stables, Fiji a 6-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall, trained by Eric Abbatiello, paid $4.80 for win. "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, a former two time National Amateur Driver of the Year who recently only drives part-time, showed that she hasn't lost a step when she used the front-end route and late urging to score a tight victory over a hard-charging Broadway Bruiser and driver "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello. Third place went to Blazin Delores, driven by "Annie Get Your Gun" Stoebe.                                                                                               -- Geri Schwartz photo "I had to use him a bit to make the front from the five-hole but once we passed the quarter in :29.1 we breezed through even fractions fractions. But in the deep stretch his stride shortened and I had to get after him a bit and he responded and hung-on for a head victory," Miller said referring to the mile that Jacks To Open went today. Sent off as the favorite Jacks To Open, a 9-year-old Conway Hall gelding returned a $3.80 mutuel. He's owned by his driver and the Nick Surick Stable.   by John Manzi for NAADA and the Billings Series  

Goshen, NY-- Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved to the Cradle of the Trotter on Saturday afternoon, July 6, for trotting contest and despite the pouring rain the series vice president, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, took advantage of a two-hole trip and rallied Santini to a head victory while holding off a hard-charging Tropical Trice ("Mighty Matt" Zuccarello) in a time of 2:00.2. Third place went to Osprey Vision, driven by Billings newcomer and talented trainer, " King David" Russo. "It was an exciting race and three of us battled all the way to the wire,"Oldford said as he wiped the mud from his face."My my horse hung tough and we eked-out a victory. But it was close." "A funny thing about this race is that last year I drove a winner for Dave (Russo) ," Oldford added A longtime proponent of amateur racing Oldford notched his 154th driving victory but perhaps more impressive is that Steve will receive the Hall of Fame Amateur Driver of the Year Award tomorrow night, which will be the sixth time he has received that honor. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Monticello, NY-- As they did last year, and for several years previously, several members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association will be winging their way to Italy for another harness racing friendship competition against their Italian counterparts. Those representing NAADA include; Joe Faraldo, Alan Schwartz, Paul Minore and John Calabrese. They will be competing against a different Italian team at each venue. "We fly to Venice and we'll be in Italy through July 7," noted NAADA president, Joe Faraldo. "We have an experienced international team and many of us have already won races abroad." Contests are scheduled in Trieste (July 2); Padova (July 3) and Cosena (July 5). Of course, while they are there, the Americans will be treated to various local sites in northern Italy as well as enjoying the fabulous local cuisine. Then, after the celebrating-win or lose-- the USA squad will return to the States on July 7 by John Manzi, for NAADA  

Yonkers, NY -- When Annie "Get You Gun" Stoebe sent Dark Poole to the lead in the $15,000 Billings East Region Final at Yonkers Raceway she encountered very little trouble and they went on to an oh-so-easy 1:56.2 victory. And the triumph was extra special for Stoebe since her family came all the way in from Montana to see her drive the biggest race of her fledgling career. "I was blessed to get to drive Dark Poole again, he's such a nice horse," Stoebe said via telephone. Two weeks ago Stoebe won a Billings trot at Harrah's Chester."Now we're two-for-two and I couldn't be more thrilled." When the wings of the mobile gate folded Stoebe sent Dark Poole to the lead and they were never in any trouble trotting away to and easy five length victory over Fiji (Dave "the Rave" Offenberg) and Revrac Harbour, driven by Tony "Shifty" Ciuffetelli, Jr. Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso , who finished fourth with Tropical Trice had lined-up sponsors who supplied various items to all the participants. Among those who supplied gifts were: Monte Gelrod; John Duer; Danny Taylor; Irv & Vic Sportswear; Buzzy Sholty; Chick's Saddlery; and Advantage Edge Equine by John Manzi for NAADA

Monticello, NY--- The field may have been small but still there was plenty of action when Matt Zuccarello moved Broadway Bruiser at the half and they rallied to a 1:59.4 harness racing victory in the NAADA Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, June 20. For Zuccarello it was a bittersweet victory since his triumph came on the birthday of his father-in-law who passed away last year. "It's always gratifying to win a race but when it happens on a memorable day its doubling rewarding", Zuccarello said in the winner circle after his victory. Zuccarello, an avid amateur driver who doubles as the publicist for the GSY Amateur Series, looked like a veteran reinsmen and made all the right moves en route to his triumph. When the gate sprung Joe Faraldo sent Tough Get Going in search of the lead from the five hole but Alan Schwartz, up behind Ladys Big Stormont from the pole position, had other plans. He forced Faraldo to take a seat behind him as he led the field by the first stanza in :29.2. Schwartz kept the pedal to the metal and was in complete control as Ladys Big Stormont tripped the halfway timer in :59.3. Meanwhile Zuccarello and his trotter were sitting third behind the leaders but when they headed up the backside Zuccarello moved Broadway Bruiser out to challenge. " I got away slowly and stayed close to the leaders and then ranged alongside Ladys Big Stormont as we raced head-to-head past three quarters and around the final turn. But once we straightened for home my horse began to slowly pull away and we went on to win it by a length and a half," Zuccarello explained. Schwartz's trotter held on for second money while Faraldo's Tough Get Going flattened out in the lane and had to settle for the show dough. The winner, a 4-year-old Muscle Mass gelding, is owned by Harmon Racing Stable and trained by Patti Harmon He paid $9.90 for win. For Zuccarello , a mobile salesman by trade, it was his first win this season from a limited amount of starts.   by John Manzi for NAADA  

Yonkers, NY-- Occasionally a harness racing driver fits well behind a certain horse, and that could be said about the special relationship between Joe Faraldo and his trotter Tough Get Going. Tonight at Yonkers Raceway the driving barrister hustled his charge to the front and then made every pole a winning one en route to a 1:59 victory, in the second leg of the NAADA Summer Series. It was their second victory in their last three times together behind a starting gate. After starting from the seven-hole Faraldo hustled Tough Get Going to the lead and they had command when the quarter pole timer flashed :28.1."When he's right he can leave with the car.," Faraldo said. "And tonight he did just that," Together they showed the way by the half in :58.3 as young Brett Beckwith got Dark Poole in high gear and they ranged alongside Tough Get Going as they trotted toward the third quarter. Although Dark Poole didn't clear Tough Get Going it worked out well for Faraldo because with Dark Poole on the limb that kept Tony Ciuffetelli's Someway Same Hall boxed in along the pylons and prevented him from getting a early shot at the leader. However when they headed for paydirt Ciuffetelli's trotter was charging down the passing lane but he ran out of racetrack and had to settle for second money in a tight photo. Dark Pool was just a length behind the top two in third place. Next Thursday the series moves back to Monticello Raceway.   by John Manzi for NAADA

Saratoga Springs, NY-- Brett "the Teenage Wonder" Beckwith has a good harness racing future ahead of him. The 16-year old youngster won a Billings race tonight at Saratoga Raceway, which is his second amateur driving victory having won a NAADA trot earlier this season at Yonkers Raceway. Up behind Dark Pool from the seven hole, Beckwith sent his charge out in search of a good position and fell into the three -hole as "Yankee Joe" Lee and The Royal Harry showed to the way by the first quarter in a swift :28.3. Lee tried to slow the pace once he gained command but still The Royal Harry led his competition by the halfway point in :56.2. Up the backside Beckwith moved Dark Pool out to challenge and they rambled alongside the leader and were a head to the good as they approached the sweeping Saratoga turn. After putting away Lee's trotter, Dark Pool braced for Tony "The Capo" Verruso's Winter Mint, who had the better part of a two-hole journey throughout. But in the lane there was no catching Dark Pool as he crossed the finish line a length in front of Winter Mint. Despite of going off-stride after the start Revrac Harbour, driven by Tony "Shifty" Ciuffetelli, Jr., rallied for the show dough Dark Pool, a 6-year-old Cantab Hall gelding is owned by Vincent Ginsberg and trained by Paul Fusco. by John Manzi for the Billings Series    

Monticello, NY-- When Tony Verruso is not airborne assisting travelers he enjoys time sitting behind a spirited steed in an amateur race. And on Thursday afternoon (June 6) Verruso, the president of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, drove Connie Keeper to a 2:00.1 victory in the NAADA Trotting Series which began its summer harnes racing events today at Monticello Raceway. When the starter said "go" Joe Faraldo gunned Tough Get Going to the led but he was chased by Someway Same Hall (Tony Ciuffetelli, Jr.) and Connie Keeper, eventually yielding to the latter who got first call as the field passed the quarter pole. "They were all leaving pretty good and I figured I'dgo out and look for a hole after the start but it wasn't until Joe (Faraldo) grabbed leather and Tony Ciuffetelli, (Jr.) found a hole with the favorite (Someway Same Hall ) that I cleared to the lead and after that happened I had constant pressure and just kept going," Verruso said. After a :29 first panel Verruso kept the pedal to the metal and Connie Keeper showed the way past the half in :59.2 being challenged now by Joe Lee with Surface Tension, who hung around up the backside before he began to fade when Connie Keeper passed the third stanza in 1:29.4.. At that point Faraldo moved to the outside with Tough Get Going as Ciuffetelli hung along the pylons in third place with thoughts of using the passing lane in the stretch... which he did. But the race for victory was between the top two trotters and both Faraldo and Verruso went to work urging their charges in the deep stretch. "When we rounded the final turn I thought I was home free but after a tough trip on the engine Connie Keeper's strides began to shorten as we approached the finish line. However, the finish wire came up in time and we won it by a head," Verruso said in the paddock as he handed the lines to the horses' caretaker." Sent off at odds of over 6-1 Connie Keeper paid $14.20. With her victory the veteran Muscles Yankee mare raised her lifetime earnings to over $201,000. She is owned by Dr. Scott Woogen and trained by Gary Messenger. For Verruso, it marked his 73rd career win since he began competing in amateur racing in 1999.   by John Manzi for the North American Amateur Driving Association

Ray Schnittker debuted two of his freshmen pacers by the hot young harness racing stallion So Surreal, at the Meadowlands on Saturday morning, June 1st , and both won impressively. First, The Mystic with Schnittker at the controls, made every panel a winning one, setting fractions of 30, 57.4,126.2, with a mile in 1:54.2 He is owned by Schnittker, Paul Bordogna and Howard Taylor. The Mystic is by So Surreal from Beachy Lady , and was a $ 40,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase, bred by Steve Jones and Fair Winds Farm Then Splash Brother, again with Ray doing the piloting, went down the road setting fractions of 30.1, 58.4, 127.2 , going his mile in 1:54.3, winning as he pleased by 12-widening lengths while coming a sparkling last half in 55.4 with a last quarter in 27. 1 Splash Brother is owned by Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing LLC, Steve Arnold and Tammy Ann Flannery. Splash Brother is also by So Surreal from Sugarcoated and was a $ 30,000 purchase at the Goshen Yearling Sale and was also bred by Steve Jones's Cameo Hills Farm . Schnittker has enjoyed great success racing horses bred and purchased from Cameo Hills. Deweycheatumhowe and the great Check Me Out were both purchased by Schnittker from Cameo Hills, and Huntsville was raised at Cameo Hills as well. These colts and all of Ray's babies are stabled at Historic Track in Goshen , New York by John Manzi , for Goshen Historic Track

Monticello, NY--It was only Tony "Shifty" Ciuffetelli, Jr's fourth professional harness racing drive but he handled himself like a seasoned pro when he took advantage of a covered trip to the top of the stretch and then rallied his trotter down the passing lane to score a 2:00.4 triumph with Revrac Habour in the Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, May 30. For a youngster who drove his first pari-mutuel winner, outwardly he remained quiet but surely under his calm exterior one would have to believe he was jubilant. "When I got away in the two-hole I figured I'd probably get a good trip and I did, "Ciuffetelli admitted. "But my horse was steady on the left line as we headed to the half. Being an old veteran, I guess he wanted to make a move off the pylons, but when Bob Hechkoff (with Noble Warrawee) moved alongside the leader (Connie Keeper) he let go of the left line and as we passed the three quarters I had a good hold on him and I was looking for racing room." Young Ciuffetelli found what he was looking for when the leaders reached the top of the stretch. He angled the 8-year-old son of Donato Hanover to the passing and the veteran trotter did the rest and trotted by both the pace-setter, Connie Keeper, and her challenger, Noble Warrawee, to score a one-length victory in 2:00.4. Ciuffetelli is the son of veteran Billings participant "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli. Owned by Homestyle Racing and trained by Joseph Ciuffetelli, Revrac Hanover paid $18.40. It was the veteran trotter's second seasonal triumph and the 28th of his career which increased his lifetime earnings to over $240,000. Next Billings action is slated for Saturday, June 1 at the Meadows in western Pennsylvania.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series.

Hamilton, Ont. Can.--The CKG Billings Harness Driving Series moved north of the border on Sunday, May 26, for a harness racing contest at Flamboro Downs in Hamilton, Ont. There only two Americans who ventured to Canada for the $6000(C) pacing event there which was dominated by the hometowners, who drove six of the eight pacers in the contest. But there was no stopping Frederick "Frenchy" Bourgault when he put his charge,Sly Baran, in high gear as the field approached the three-quarters and they drew-off to a comfortable four-length victory in 1:58.4 over Mr Yokassippi, driven by T. 'Marielle" Enberg. When the starter said "go" Isaac "Izzy" Waxman sent Bettors Mark to the lead but he was challenged on the outside by A Yankee Feeling and driver "Fast Phillipe" Trudeau and the two leaders zipped by the quarter in :28. They kept the pedal to the metal as they passed the halfway point in :57.2. At that point the eventual winner was some six lengths in the rears but up the backside Bourgault wheeled his charge three -deep and they circled all in front of them and rolled home an easy winner. Bettors Mark, after constant pressure, tired in the lane and was overtaken for second money by Ms Enberg's Mr Yokassippi, a 26-1 shot. Owned by Frederick and Richard Bourgault, Sly Baran, a the 6-year altered son of Rambaran , is trained by his driver. He paid $7.80. Last year Bourgault won a Billlings contest at Grand River Raceway. On Monday, May 27, the Canadian Billings action moves north to Woodbine Mohawk for a 10-horse trot later this evening.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series

East Rutherford, NJ--The CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, the granddaddy of all amateur driving programs, was again on the move on Saturday evening (May 25) where nine Eastern Region members competed over the mile oval at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. And when the event was finalized, Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff and Noble Warrawee, rallied to the lead at the top of the stretch and then held off a hard-charging Broadway Bruiser (Tony "the Capo" Verruso) to score a head victory in a 1:58 clocking. When the wings of the mobile gate folded "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio and Montepulciano grabbed the racetrack and had command by first by the quarter in :28.. However, they were challenged on the outside by both Landonfitz (Dave "the Rave" Offenberg) and Jacks To Open ("Hurricane Hannah" Miller. Montepulciano passed the half in :57.1 but he couldn't shake his competitors. When the field approached the third stanza Jacks To Open was beginning to fade but Landonfitz was still at Montepuchino's throat-latch. With the traffic slowing the front-end "Yankee Joe"Lee wheeled Talkaholic three-deep and Hechkoff didn't wait to move Noble Warrawee to the far outside and both challengers cleared the leaders but trouble loomed for them as Connie Keeper and Scott "the Driving Doctor" Woogen got first call at the top of the lane. But that lead was short-lived as Noble Warrawee battled back and the veteran trotter gained command as they headed down the long lane. And just when it seemed that Hechkoff's horse was home free, Tony "the Capo" Verruso had Broadway Bruiser in high gear and the two trotters battled to the finish line. After a tight photo Noble Warrawee got the decision over Broadway Bruiser.. Connie Keeper held on for third money, just a short-head in front of Talkholic. The winner, a 10-year-old Angus Hall gelding is owned by Hechkoff's RBH Ventures and trained by Scott Di Domenico He paid $16,00 for win. The Billings Series goes international the next two days with contests in Canada; Sunday at Flamboro Downs and Monday at Woodbine Mohawk.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Columbus, Ohio--Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, was on the move again Friday night (May 24) traveling to Columbus, Ohio for a trotting contest over the five-eighths mile oval at Scioto Downs. And when the judges posted the official sign after the race was contested Unbanji, driven by longtime Billings member Bob "the Lumberman" Troyer, emerged victorious . Sent off at odds of over 10-1 the 11-year-old French-bred gelding rallied in the deep-stretch to collar the betting favorite, Undercover Strike and driver Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel for a 1:571 victory, his second of the season. Troyer started from the five hole and settled in fourth as Alesha "the Hoosier Hotshot" Binkley grabbed the lead with Body Of Work and they showed the way past the first stanza in :28.3. With the field all settling in along the pylons Ms Binkey tapped the breaks and led the Indian-file trailers by the half in :58.2. At that point Troyer and Ubanji were third as Keidel and Undercover Strike were the first to take a shot at the leader and they were head-to-head with Body Of Work at the three quarters in 1:27.4, as the trailing horses began to move at the leaders. Undercover Strike gained command off the final turn and although the gelding appeared to be home free Troyer's trotter came with a rush in the final strides to collar Keidel's charge and get the final call. Despite a covered trip the entire mile Sterling Bodica, and driver Steve "You're Never Too"Oldford, had to settle for third place just a length behind the top two finishers. The race winner, Ubanji, is in America as a result of a international promotion last year by NAADA. Now owned by his driver and trained by John Wengerd the altered son of French sire, Jag De Bellouet, returned a $23.20 win mutuel. The Billings Series will move on to the Meadowlands on Saturday night then to Flamboro Downs on Sunday, and to Woodbine Mohawk on Monday.   by John Manzi for the Billings Series    

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