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In what turned out to be one of the fastest miles ever trotted at Monticello Raceway On The Podium rambled to a 1:56.2 triumph winning the featured race on Wednesday afternoon, (Sept. 17). That mark erased the former standard of 1:57 co-owned by Cornishman N in 2011 and Rompaway Alan in 2013. Bruce Aldrich, Jr. drove the winner for trainer Jose Godinez and strangely it was On The Podium's first seasonal victory in 22 starts although the Donato Hanover 5-year-old gelding had five seconds and three thirds which previously earned owners Blindswitch Racing and Anthony Nicometo nearly $30,00 this year. On The Podium's new standard followed a 1:54.1 new track record for 4 year old pacing gelding set just the previous afternoon by Twin B Famous and driver Mike Merton . However, On The Podium's surprise track record was unexpected as all eyes were on Rose Run Nash (Jimmy Marohn,Jr.) who was seeking his 19th seasonal victory and was sent off as the betting favorite in the race and after finishing fourth Rose Run Nash will have to wait for another day to extend his North American leading 18 wins. The 1:56.2 track record by On The Podium was even more amazing that it came in a six-horse field but it was set-up by the early speedy fractions (:28, :57.4, 1:26.3) driver Mike Merton set with Scottish Cross. On The Podium started from the three hole and after settling in along the pylons he was the first to move when the field approached the halfway point. By the third panel Aldrich's trotter was nose-to-nose with Scottish Cross and on the final turn they opened-up daylight and had three lengths on the field. As they headed for home the margin was extendedto eight lengths when they crossed the wire. Scottish Cross was collared by I'm Fabulous (Jimmy Taggart, Jr.) who came from way back finish second a nose ahead of Scottish Cross in third place. Even-money favorite, Rose Run Nash, came into the contest off two consecutive 1:57.4 victories but never got unwound and finished fourth nine lengths, behind the winner. The victory was one of three on the card for Bruce Aldrich, Jr. who was elated after his track record triumph with On The Podium. "Last week we fell short by a head and finished second to Rose Run Nash and with him on the rail (pole position) I figured he'd be tough to beat in here," Aldrich acknowledged. "I knew my horse had lots of trot when he warmed up good today but I never expected he'd set a track record. What a nice surprise." by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Beginning Friday, September 26 the North American Amateur Drivers Association's (NAADA) Fall Trotting Series will kick off with a $5000 event at Freehold Raceway followed by a $6000 contest at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, October 2,. The six-leg series will culminate with a $14,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway on November 6. Besides the September 26th date two other trotting legs will also be contested at Freehold Raceway; on the Fridays of October 10 and October 24, and, if needed, the Series Consolation on November 7. Besides October 2nd, the other Yonkers Raceway dates include the Thursdays of October 16 and October 30 as well as November 6 for the Series Final. Though there are criteria for the competing trotters like the Billings Series, only the amateur drivers can be nominated to the NAADA Series and all entrants must be members of NAADA and drivers can participate  in only one division of each leg of the series. At series end, the drivers with the most points in the preliminary legs will be eligible to compete in the Final. Horses that are eligible must be 3 years old and up that had six or more starts in 2013/14, have earned a minimum of $1000, are non-winners of $6001 in their last six starts, and have not won more than $2000 per start.  Also eligible are trotters with a base claiming price of $15,000. The series is open to all 2014 paid-up members of NAADA. (Membership fee is $150 per calendar year.) Participating drivers will be assessed a $50 starting fee in the preliminaries and a $100 starting fee in the series Final and $75 in the series Consolation. Entry fee checks must be made payable to NAADA A part of the driver’s percentages and a portion of the total starting fees will be added to the  donation to a worthwhile charity at series end.  The European Pont System will be used in the series and the top eight point-earners will be eligible for the Final. For total series conditions, or for further information, please contact NAADA president Joe Faraldo at 718-544-6800. By John Manzi, for NAADA

There are some who are hard to beat here at Monticello Raceway; two are horses and the other is driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. On Monday afternoon, Sept. 15, Shortest Distance notched her 20th seasonal victory and Diamond Tiara racked up win number 19, and leading driver Bruce Aldrich, Jr. reined five winners on the 10 race card and continues to lead the driving colony in victories. The veteran pacing mare Shortest Distance seems nearly impossible to beat in the $7500 claiming ranks and she continues to lead all Standardbreds in wins in North America this season. Her victory on Monday was a cake walk for the 9 year old Park Place mare when Bruce Aldrich, Jr. sent her to the front even though Shortest Distance had to pace a swift :27.1 first quarter to gain command. But once on the engine Aldrich got her to the halfway point :57.2 and from there Shortest Distance cruised to an easy five-length triumph in a time of 1:55.4. Latin Lyric (Jimmy Devaux), who forced Shortest Distance to pace that :27.1 first quarter, finished second. "She's about as tough as they come," Aldrich said of Shortest Distance. "Now we have our sights set on the (Monticello) track record of 22 wins and if she stays sound we have a chance at that (mark)." Aldrich referenced the 22 wins complied here by Golden Storm GB back in 1985 and although a few have come close no one has beat it, yet. But Shortest Distance isn't the only one chasing the Mighty M track record for victories. Add to the list Diamond Tiara, who was nearly unbeatable earlier this season. On Monday afternoon the 7- year- old McArdle pacing mare visited the winners circle for the 19th time this year, but under unusual circumstances, this time. She made it there via a disqualification. Actually, after being roughed-up during the first quarter, Diamond Tiara and driver Jimmy Taggart, Jr. gained control and led the field all the to the top of the stretch where it appeared that she would once again go on to victory. However, with the field tightly bunched coming off the final turn Jimmy Marohn Jr. slipped 25-1 shot Machs little Filly up the inside and in the lane they paced on to to a one-length 1:57.4 triumph over Diamond Tiara. But wait.....immediately after the finish the judges flashed the inquiry sign on the tote board and upon careful and lengthy review it was deemed that Machs Little Girl went inside three pylons at the head of the lane and because of that she was placed second and Diamond Tiara had her 19th seasonal victory. She, like Shortest Distance, has been claimed four times thus far this year and now Diamond Tiara is back in the Mike Watson stable And Aldrich's five winners on the Monday card give him 415 for the year, good for sixth place on the North American driver leaderboard. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Rose Run Nash scored his 18th victory of the season at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday afternoon when Jimmy Marohn Jr. drove him to s 1:57.4 triumph over On The Podium driven by Bruce Aldrich, Jr. Now the 5-year-old altered son of Trainforthefuture has moved four victories ahead of Too Salty and continues to lead North America in races won this year by a trotter. In fact Rose Run Nash trails Mighty M pacer Shortest Distance by just one triumph for most victories by any standardbred in 2014. Coming into the contest off a 1:57.4 victory last week Rose Run Nash repeated that performance with a gutsy victory today (September 10). The race began with Larry Stalbaum sending Mr. Invincible to the front and carrying Marohn's trotter to a :27.4 first quarter before they relinquished command. Once on top Marohn kept the pedal to the metal and had a two-length lead at the half as the timer tripped :58. Up the backside the betting favorite On The Podium, in from Saratoga Raceway, trotted by Mr Invincibe and was in second position behind the pace-setter as they trotted by the third stanza in 1:27.4. When the field headed for home Rose Run Nash had already held off a challenge from Typical Newyorker (Mike Merton) and still had a one length lead. However, by mid-stretch Rose Run Nash was visibly tired but he was dead game when On The Podium rallied along the pylons. Rose Run Nash was giving such a great effort that his head swung from side to side like a pendulum with each hard fought stride toward the finish line. So much so that the head swinging was visibly noticeable to the rail birds who got to see a determined veteran equine give his all to win a race, something that Rose Run Nash has done 17 times previously this year. "He was running out in the stretch and I let him do it so as not to interfere with his determination to win. And I wasn't jerking his head from side to side, he was doing it himself reaching down for something extra with each of his final strides," Marohn said in the winner's circle as trainer Danny Gill held his pupil's head and kept chipping "number 18-number 18" referring to Rose Run Nash's season win total. "I've driven a lot of horses but I don't think I ever felt the determination that Rose Run Nash showed in his victory today," Marohn added. "Maybe he is used to winning but he surely gave his all in victory today. And people will tell you they (horses) are dumb animals, but when you are around them you know better." Rose Run Nash is owned by Ed Hall. He paid $4.40 for win. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

It wasn't a battle of the titans at Monticello Raceway on Monday afternoon (Sept 8), it was, however, a confrontation between Diamond Tiara and Shortest Distance, the two harness racing horses with the most victories, (18) in North America this season. Actually the two had confronted one another back on August 25th and both finished off the board. But on Monday, Shortest Distance prevailed and her 19th seasonal triumph makes her the clear leader in races won by a Standardbred tin 2014. Bruce Aldrich Jr. was again at the controls behind the 6 year old Park Place mare as they easily scored a five length victory in 1:55.1 after starting from post position three. Future Rock Star and Zeke Parker finished second while Givemybest Hanover was third for Larry Stalbaum. After the race an excited Aldrich chirped "I did it my way" which he referred to racing Shortest Distance out of a hole. "We had the three- hole and they wanted me to go to the front around Diamond Tiara (post 2) and Jimmy's (Devaux) mare (Latin Lyric on the pole position) but they were head-to -head and wide open on the first turn so I ducked in along the pylons behind them. But as I was doing that I was thinking, if this doesn't work it would be all my fault (for not winning the race) since Al (Annunziata-the mare's trainer) wanted me to race her on the front-end." Devaux finally allowed Jimmy Taggart, Jr. and Diamond Tiara to take command as they passed the first quarter in 28.2. From there Diamond Tiara had command all the way until the three quarters where Shortest Distance zoomed by her and went on to an easy victory. In the lane Diamond Tiara had broken equipment and barely finished when Taggart got off the bike and had assistance taking the sulky off the mare who moseyed home and finished sixth. In the winners circle trainer Al Annunziata acknowledged he wanted Aldrich to race his mare on the front-end but he was smiling and happy with the results just the same. Shortest Distance, owned by Marissa Godinez, returned a $5.10 win payoff. And for Bruce Aldrich, Jr., it was one of four winners on the card for him and his seasonal total of 399 driving victories currently places him sixth in races won in North America. There must be something in the Catskill Mountain air that again this year Monticello Raceway, in the county Seat of the former Borsht Belt, has the horse with the most victories this season like it did with Tracy's Song until the final night of the 2013 campaign. But this year there are three at the top of the lists. The other, a trotter, Rose Run Nash from the Danny Gill barn, has 17 wins is tops in the trotting division. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

The Battlin' Billings Boys made their annual trip north of the border to compete in Canada and race on Prince Edward Island at Charlottetown Driving Park on Saturday,(Sept. 6) and at Summerside Raceway the following afternoon. Eight members were to make the trip but when "Bullet Bob" Davis had to cancel, the group leader and Billings vice president, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, contacted local amateur and Charlottetown resident, Todd Walsh, to fill in for Davis. And Walsh made the best of his chances, winning a Billings contest at both Maritime racetracks. But even though Todd "the substitute" Walsh copped a pair that still left room for two others who made the journey to have their pictures taken in the winner's circle. Mike "the Mortgage Man" Mitchell was one and "Racin' Jason" Sgrignuoli the other. The first contest at Charlottetown on Saturday went to Walsh when he sat back off the leaders and then closed with a rush to score an easy 2:01.2 victory with the veteran Bettors Delight pacing gelding, Blue Man Group. Also coming from off the pace was second place finisher TMS Starlet Cruise, capably handled by "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello. Third place went to Wine To Go, driven by Hilliard Graves, the retired professional hockey player. Graves appeared in 556 games in the National Hockey League from a 1970-1980 with the Vancouver Canucks, the Atlanta Flames, the Winnipeg Jets and the California Golden Seals. And like many other Canadian- born hockey players where hockey and harness racing are national sports in their country, Graves has been involved in harness racing, for most of his adult life and thus far he has won 265 races. Oldford, and the other Billings members, were very pleased to have Graves fill in for one the absent members. The second contest there saw "the Mortgage Man" take advantage of sizzling early fractions then rally Sumbodys Fool to collar Forced To Travel and Steve Oldford in the final strides to score a neck victory a time of 1:59.2. Hilliard Graves drove the third place finisher in that contest, also. On Sunday (Sept. 7) at Summerside Raceway, Walsh was back in the winners circle after winning the first Billings contest there with In Cahoots in a time of 2:01.3. They finished 1-1/2 length s ahead of Bizzy Izzy driven by Daniel "Handy Dan" St. Pierre. Matt Zuccarello took home the show dough with Incredible Mike. A final Billings race went to All Out, who seemed to be all-out from gate to wire to score a two length triumph in a time of 1:59 triumph for "Racin' Jason" Sgrignuoli. Zuccarello was second with Jamantha while Todd Walsh finished third with Woodmere No Fool. "We got to the lead easily and we never had a serious challenge in the race ," Sgrignuoli said. "At the finish my horse still had a lot left and the owners (Dale and Ronnie Rennie) were very happy. I was too. " Later all the Billings drivers, and even some of ( the PEI) horsemen, got together and celebrated with a nice dinner." The next day, when all the Billings participants were at the airport and were readying for the trip back home, Steve Oldford, who has been the driving force behind this international amateur completion, had nothing but compliments for their Canadian hosts. "I can't say enough good things about the hospitality we are shown when we come here," Oldford said. "Every one invites us to stop by their barns and 'have a beverage or two'. No one tells us how to drive their horses; all they say to us is 'have fun-be safe'. "We enjoy every moment when we are with our PEI friends and we look forward to a return trip again next year. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series

With Jimmy Marohn, Jr. sidelined by a racing accident at Tioga Downs last weekend, Monticello Raceway based trainer Danny Gill, who uses Marohn almost exclusively, had to scramble to fill the gap behind his pupils this week. However, on Thursday (Sept. 4), when Gill had six horses in to go, he split the driving chores between three talented chauffeurs; Bruce Aldrich, Jr. Larry Stalbaum, and Johnny Desimone. And Gill finished with a good day with two wins and two seconds from the six starters. Most productive was Desimone who won two races for Gill, both trotting events. First, and foremost, Johnny D scored a 1:57.1 victory with Rose Run Nash ($5.30) which was the 6 year old Trainforthefuture gelding's 17th victory and is tops by a trotter on the continent this year. Now, Rose Run Nash is just one victory away from tying pacers Diamond Tiara and Shortest Distance, who co-lead North America with 18 wins. And strangely, all three horses are Mighty M regulars. Desimone also reined Gill's other trotter, Sir Siro ($9.50), to a gate to wire to victory in a time of 2:00. "Desimone is good with trotters that's why I used him today, "Gill offered. "He used to work with (Gary) Messenger who always has a lot of good trotters." Gill is also in a fight for leading trainer honors with Messenger and Bob Lounsbury. "We each won two races yesterday," Gill added. "But Messenger is still the leader." Messenger's 102 winners is currently tops while Lounsbury and Gill are in hot pursuit; Lounsbury with 95 wins and Gill with 94. On the driving side Bruce Aldrich Jr. continues to lead the local colony. On Thursday he added three more victories to his seasonal totals and currently leads runner-up Jimmy Devaux by 34 wins; 224 to 190. However, Aldrich is again among the leaders in North America in races won. Driving basically at two tracks, Monticello and Saratoga, many days simultaneously, his 393 winners ranks him sixth at this time. Last year Aldrich's 645 victories tied him for second place nationally with Dave Palone. Ronnie Wren Jr. copped the title last year with 714 wins. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

The cream of the freshmen and sophomore pacers and trotters on the NYSS County Fair circuit convened at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon, September 2. Eight $10,000 divisions awaited the influx and by days end the champions were crowned in each division. "It was an enjoyable day of racing watching the youngsters go head to head in each of their divisions," noted Eric Warner the tracks director of racing. "And with limited amount of charted lines on many of the entrants still wagering on the card was good." Driving Me Lindy and Truman Gale kicked off the program copping the event for 3 year old trotting fillies winning by nine lengths in a creditable 2:00.2 for trainer Andy Gardner. Owned by Michael Eulo, it marked the Crazed filly's 10 triumph and raised her seasonal her bankroll to $33,484. The 2 year old totting filly final ended in a romp for Ron's Coren when Fern Paquet, Jr. guided the Cash Hall miss to a 2:04 victory. She's trained by Jessica Okusko for owner Ronald La Clair. The pacing final for freshman fillies saw Kruella score her ninth seasonal triumph when Kirk Desmond used the front-end route to score a victory in a time of 1:59.2 for trainer Joe Robbins Jr. The daughter of American Ideal, co-owned by her trainer and Bonnie Kowalcyk, won for the ninth time in 10 lifetime starts. Inside The Glass, locally owned by Rosemarie Moore, recorded the fastest mile of the NYSS County Fairs Finals when Larry Stalbaum sat back off a quick early pace and rallied late to win the 3 year old pacing filly division in 1:57.3 for trainer Paul Moore. The 3-year-old trotting colt final followed and saw Harold Smith's Stirling Cadet romp to a 15- length triumph in 1:58.4 for driver Jimmy Devaux. The Conway Hall gelding scored his 11th victory and increased his seasonal bankroll ---all on the county fair circuit-- to $37,380. Devaux also won the freshman colt and gelding pacing final with Harold Smith's, Adonis Bay in a time of 1:59.3. Although Smith drove his colts at the fairs the 80 year old accomplished horseman turned the lines over to the accomplished professional, Jimmy Devaux. Another NY county fair stalwart, Doug Ackley, won the trotting final for 2 year old colts and geldings with J A T O in 2:04.2 despite making a break before the start. The son of Big Apple Deli scored his ninth victory in 10 lifetime starts for owner-trainer Margaret Butler who shares ownership with Amy Butler. And Larry Stalbaum scored his second victory in the NYSS County Fair Finals when he guided Kings Maninblack to a 1:59 triumph in the event for sophomore colt and gelding pacers. The altered son of Riverboat King is trained by Joe Chindano who co-owns with Gianfranco Pozzolini. Perhaps overshadowed by the interesting card of county fair youngsters, Diamond Tiara moved back to tie Shortest Distance for the most races won in North America this year when Jimmy Taggart Jr drove her to a 1:55.4 triumph which was her 18th victory. Also on the card, Shortest Distance was looking for win number 19 but she got collared at the wire by Rusty's Flying (Fern Paquet, Jr) and had to settle for second money. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Veteran amateur drivers, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff along with newcomer Robert "Big Bob" Kenney, each won their respective divisions in the Billings Harness Driving Series this past weekend. Oldford scored a 1:57 triumph with Bold Strike in Midwest Region action at Scioto Downs on August 29 while Hechkoff and Kenney were victorious in the east at Plainridge Racecourse on September 1; Hechkoff with Tagmaster in 1:56.1 and Kenney with Rev Up The Spice in 1:59.3. No stranger to the winners circle, Steve Oldford visited that revered ground again when he scored his seventh seasonal triumph with his newly purchased Bold Strike. "I bought him from June Du Russel, who over the years has generously supplied horses for the Billings Series. "This was the first time I sat behind him and I like him a lot," Oldford explained. "He's a pleasure to drive and (he) did everything I asked of him. " Oldford and Bold strike left from the four hole as "Lawbook Larry" Farley hustled Margarita Man to the lead and they had two lengths on the field as the timer flashed :27.4. At that point Oldford had allowed Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg II to fall in second position in front of him with TK's Karma. When the leaders passed the halfway point in :57.3 Oldford was out and going with Bold Strike and they were nose to nose with Margarita Man at the three quarters in 1:26.4. Even though Farley's mount regained command on the final turn it was short lived as Bold Strike rallied back to score a two-length triumph over Margarita man. TK's Karma took home the show dough. "Now we're ready for the Billings at Delaware, Ohio, "Oldford added delightedly. Bold Strike paid $7.40 for win which was Oldford's seventh of the season and 90th of his amateur driving career. Meanwhile on Labor Day afternoon at the five-eighths mile oval in southern Massachusetts "Big Bob" Kenney scored his first lifetime pari-mutuel victory when he sat the pocket with Rev Up The Spice and then they trotted by 1-2 favorite CSI What's My Name and driver Dave "Steady As" Yarock in mid-stretch for a solid one length triumph to win the first of two Billings trots that day. Third place went to Catalyst driven by Mark "Wafefern" Schullstrom. Needless to say Kenney, who has driven just 27 times since he joined the amateur ranks in 2000, was a happy man and his fellow competitors were among the first to congratulate him. Bob and Linda Kenny co-own Rev Up The Spice who's trained by John Di Stefano. Sent off at odds of over 6-1 the 6 year old Revenue S gelding paid $14.40 for win. A second Billings division at Plainridge Racecourse was a laugher for driver Bob Hechkoff when his Tagmaster romped to a 1:56.1 wire to wire five-length triumph over Permanent Joy, driven by Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivelin. Third place went to Coin Collector and driver Jimmy "It's all In The Family" Marshall IV. Tagmaster, owned by Hechkoff's T.B.H Ventures Inc. and trained by James Hardy paid $9.60 for win. It was Hechkoff's sixth seasonal triumph and 50 driving victory of his career. A two-time winner of the Harness Racing Museum's Amateur Driver of the Year Award his competitors will have to hurry to derail him from that honor again this season. This coming weekend the Battling Billings Boys will head to the Canadian Maritimes for races at Charlottetown on Saturday, (Sept. 6) and at Summerside Raceway on Sunday. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series

Everyone knows that harness racing was weaned on the half mile tracks and many a young driver learned the ropes while competing in the races at the nation's county fairs. Now, with those states who have sire stakes programs the events not only have helped preserve county fair racing but the added purse monies made available has spawned groups of horsemen who race primarily on the county fair circuits. New York State has a good program for those who prefer to race at that level, and many do. At summers end, those who raced the New York Sire Stakes County Fair circuit this year will convene at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon, September 2 with their colts and fillies who earned the right to compete in the series $10,000 finales which are available for the eight colt and filly pacing and trotting divisions. Besides having earned enough points to qualify for the finals, still there's a condition with the amount of county fair starts that are also needed. Among the trainer/drivers who are the stalwarts on the NYSS County Fair circuit are Harold "Joe" Smith and Doug Ackley. Year in and year out these very talented horsemen develop colts and fillies that are standouts in their divisions. And this year is no exception. Ackley, 70, developed three that will be racing on the card and he'll be on the driver's seat behind each of them. Of the three, J A TO, a freshman trotting colt by Big Apple Deli, has most impressive credentials with eight wins in nine county fair starts and nearly $11,000 in purse money. His fastest victory was clocked in 2:07. Ackley's Amma Crazed, a 2 -year-old daughter of Crazed which he drives regularly, has three wins and has been on the board in all 11 of her starts. She bankrolled nearly $11,000 for Ackley who co-owns the filly with Tyra Joanne Ackley. Over the years Ackley, from Gowanda, NY, has earned nearly$2 million racing at the New York Fairs and has won 793 races rarely driving over 100 times a season. Harold "Joe" Smith, from Malone NY, at 80 years of age is having one of his best years in the sulky with 26 wins in 67 starts with a UDR of .580. In his career Smith has drive 953 winners and his mounts-mostly his own-have earned $1.24 million. He qualified four youngsters for the finals with his own Sterling Cadet, the favorite to win the 3 year old colt and gelding trot. This altered son of Conway Hall has 10 wins and seven seconds in 19 starts and purses of $32,380 this year with a 1:58.3 record taken at Saratoga Raceway. And Smith's Olivia's Z Tam, a sophomore Bettor's Delight pacing filly has seven wins, four seconds and $16,343 in 19 seasonal outings. Although Smith did all the driving at the fairs he'll had the lines in the $10,000 finals to Jimmy Devaux. Now well-seasoned after a summer racing at the New York fairs and at a few pari-mutuel tracks along the way, the entered youngsters will surely open the eyes of the railbirds who perhaps feel that because of where they raced, they may not be worthy of attention. But put that notion to rest because all the entrants in the eight NYSS County Fair Finals will make their sires and dams proud a make good showings, win or lose. There will be no live races at the Mighty M on Labor Day but on Tuesday, September 2 the NYSS County Fair Finals will be joined by six overnight events on the 14- race card which will have a 12:50 pm post time. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Due to an early Labor Day holiday this year Monticello Raceway's live racing schedule will change slightly in September. Since Labor Day falls on Monday, September 1 the raceway will be dark that afternoon and to keep continuity with the four-day a week schedule a race card has been added on Friday, September 5. After that, racing will be back to the usual Monday through Thursday format for the remainder of September. All post times will continue to be at 12:50pm. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

One of the best sophomore pacers in the country, All Bets Off, from the powerful Ron Burke Stable, will be the featured attraction when Monticello Raceway presents the last preliminary leg of the rich New York Sire Stakes program on Tuesday afternoon, August 26. All Bets Off, owner of a 1:48.2 record, is currently fourth on the list of money winning 3 year old colt pacers this year with over $511,000 in earnings. The son of Bettor's Delight-Armbro Penelope has seven wins, two seconds and one third in 10 starts this year and he comes into his $38,500 split off three consecutive victories the last in 1:50.3 in the Carl Millstein Final at Northfield Park on August 15. Owned by Burke Racing, Frank Baldachino, The Panhellenic Stable and Rosemary Shelswell, Burke has once again assigned the driving duties to Matt Kakaley when All Bets Off starts from post five in the first race on the card. In all, Burke will send out six sophomore pacers that afternoon, four in the three NYSS splits while two others will race in the Excelsior Stakes. That means the Burke Stable will have an entry in one of the NYSS events and it so happens that it will be in the event that All Bets Off is in. Joining him on the mutuel ticket will be stablemate Forty Five Red, to be driven by Mark MacDonald, another nice colt but not the caliber of All Bets Off. It appears that Burke is probably starting All Bets Off in the sire stakes to make sure he has a enough points to qualify for the $225,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway on September 13. In the second NYSS division, race four, the Jimmy Takter-trained Capital Account gets the odds maker's nod as the early favorite from the pole position. A winner of almost $105,000 this year the American Ideal-Copywriter colt, owned by Brittany Farms owns a record of 1:51 taken earlier this year at the Meadowlands. Brett Miller will be in the pilot's seat when Capital Account leaves from post position one. Another Brittany Farms pacer, Winds Of Change, whom they co-own with Val D'Or Farms, is rated the favorite in the third NYSS split, race eight on the card. Trained by Linda Toscano the son of American Ideal-Art's Temptress, has won two of his last three starts at Tioga Downs the fastest in 1:50.2. Winds Of Change will leave from the four hole with Brett Miler at the controls. The undercard features four Excelsior Series paces which will go as races two, five, six and seven on the 11- race card. Arguably, the best of the starters in those events is Lauren and Bob Tucker's Believeinthespirit, an Art Major gelding out of Spirit Of the West, who is a five-time winner thus far this year with over $41,000 in earnings. Trainer Ed Lohmeyer, has assigned Jimmy Morrill, Jr. to do the driving when the pacer leaves from post five in the second race on the card. First post is slated for 12:50pm. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

"Mighty Matt" Zuccarello, the harness driver not the hockey player, emerged victorious in the eastern region C.K.G. Billings Series trot at Tioga Downs on Saturday, August 23 when he guided Dreamnwillie to a neck victory over Magglio and Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford in a time of 1:58.3, which was one of the fastest miles on a half-mile track in the long history of the Billings Series. Zuccarello took advance of the opportunities afforded him in the race when Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff and Tagmaster would not let Oldford and Magglio take command. They raced head- to- head and side by side from the start to the head of the stretch. With Hechkoff on the inside and Oldford stuck in two-horse Zuccarello moved Dreamnwillie out behind Oldford's trotter nearing the halfway point and he followed Magglio until they headed for home. In the lane Tagmaster, who ended up third, grudgingly gave up command to Magglio but in the final strides Dreamnwille came on and picked up all the marbles. "My horse raced real well and he did everything I asked of him," Zuccarello said. "Even when I moved him in the homestretch he dug in like the veteran he is and we won it by a head, maybe a neck, but we won it and that's all that matters." Trained by Michael Sinclair, Dreamnwillie is owned in Canada by Steve Organ and Rosemary Shelswell. He paid $18.80 for win. "Mighty Matt", a relative newcomer to the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series, notched his second seasonal triumph and fourth of his amateur driving career. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

"Marvelous Marvin" Raber scored his second consecutive victory in the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Midwest Region Series #2 when he reined Soulful Delight to a 2:02 triumph at the Darke County Fair in Greenville, Ohio on Friday afternoon, August 22. After being carried to the quarter in :29.3 before taking command Raber's trotter then raced strongly on the front-end and held off a late charge from What Do You Want and driver Larry "Ace" Steenbergen to hold on for a neck victory. Third place went to Really Really Sweet, driven by "Trader Bud" Hatfield. On Monday afternoon, August 18 both Raber and Soulful Delight were victorious in a time of 2:09.3 at the Muskingum County Fair in Zanesville, Ohio. And at both aforementioned venues Raber had a driving double on each card. However, if one goes back to August 8 they'll find that the Marvelous one copped the $10,000 Midwest Region Series #1 Final at the Meadows when he scored a 1:57.1 triumph with Catching Katie after being the points champ in that earlier Midwest Region series Raber is enjoying his best season in the sulky and he is the current points leader in the Midwest Series #2. He's coasting along with a .392UDR on the strength of nine wins, six seconds and three thirds in 34 starts. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

The intermittent rain showers on Thursday afternoon, August 21 didn't deter Market Rally and Avalicious from their main objectives as each won their respective $60,200 divisions of 3-year-old trotting fillies in New York Sire Stakes at Monticello Raceway. Both fillies, from the powerful Ron Burke stable, were driven to victory by Jimmy Morrill, Jr.. The two trotting events were the last of the NYSS preliminary legs prior to the top point earners in the summer-long series convening at Yonkers Raceway on September 13 to compete in their $225,000 Division Final. With her victory in a time of 1:57.3 Market Rally finished with 325 points which will undoubtedly make her the favorite in her rich NYSS finale. Avalicious, on the other hand, was victorious in 1:57.4 and finished with 175 points as second best. There's no argument that Market Rally has been the best NYSS sophomore trotting filly this year and her 9-length victory over Gammy's Girl (Mark MacDonald) and Cutup Hanover (Jeff Gregory) only emphasized it. With her triumph on Thursday the daughter of Cash Hall-Supreme Dish has run her seasonal bankroll to over $262,000 on the strength of six wins and one second in nine starts. Sent off the1-9 favorite from the pole position Morrill hustled Market Rally to the lead as Gates Brunet and Driving Miss Crazy left strong from the six hole. The two fillies were wide open on the first turn but unfortunately for Driving Miss Crazy's connections she went off-stride and Market Rally was alone on the front-end when she tripped the first quarter timer in :28.2 Two lengths in front as she passed the half in :57 Morrill was looking to give his filly a breather. When she passed the third stanza in 1:27 Market Rally had a five length lead which she opened to nine at the wire. "We were getting out of there pretty quickly and I got my filly wound up, and because of that we got to the half faster than I wanted to, "Morrill related. But from there she was on cruise-control the rest of the way." Owned by the Burke Stable, Weaver-Buscemi, Our Cents Stable and the Panhellenic Stable, Market rally paid $2.30 for win. In the other NYSS split Morrill eased Avalicious away from the gate slowly and at the first quarter they were in sixth position, some nine lengths off the leader. Morrill bided his time in the early going and at the half he moved the filly out behind cover and it up the backside and into the final turn before he gave Avalicious her head. And when he did the daughter of RC Royalty-Say Your Prayers rallied to a three length victory, her fifth of the year. Asked why Avalious was four, or so, lengths off the gate at the start of the race Morrill explained; "I wanted to ease her away so she'd stay trotting. She gets a little anxious behind the gate but once she gets away (on the trot) she's usually steady the rest of the mile." Avalicious, owned by M.C. Crawford, A.C. Crawford and P.D. Crawford, was sent off as the 3-10 betting favorite and returned a $2.60 win mutuel. Three Excelsior Series trots bolstered the undercard with the locally owned Dreamsteeler the most impressive. (Local) owner Andy Herzog was on hand to watch his Cash Hall-Dream Street filly maul her competition with Jimmy Morrill, Jr. at the lines. It was Dreamsteeler's seventh win in eight seasonal starts after going 10 for 10 last year. Sent off five cents on a dollar, Dreamsteeler was victorious in a time of 2:01 and paid $2.10 for win. After the photo was taken in the winners circle Herzog was asked why Dreamsteeler doesn't race in the sire stakes. "I bought her in mid-June and she wasn't eligible to them (the NYSS), only to the Excelsior Series. But she's already won my money back and I got a pretty nice filly trotter to boot." Other Excelsior winners were Ski To The Max (Gates Brunet) in 2:02.1 and Slice Slice Baby (Charlei Norris) in 2:00.2. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Last year around this time trainer Danny Gill plunked down $4000 and saved a trotter by the name of Rose Run Nash from a life of pulling an Amish buggy. Yesterday,( August 20) at Monticello Raceway Rose Run Nash defeated a field of $15,000 claimers in a time of 1:57.3 and scored his 16th victory of the season which makes him the trotter with the most wins in North America in 2014. As he usually does after one of his horses win a race, Gill- and his wife Brenna- come from the paddock to the winner's circle via a golf cart to take picture with his victorious pupil. Even before he got there (to the winners circle) he was waving and shouting, "That was his 16th win and now we are four in front" referring to having four more wins than the three runners-up. He and Brenna ran to congratulate driver Jimmy Marohn, Jr. and posed for the photograph. After he calmed down Gill was asked about Rose Run Nash, a 5-year-old altered son of Trainforthefuture. "I was racing a horse at Pocono (Downs) one night last year and someone there told me about a trotter that has some class but was heading to the Amish country," Gill related. "So I went to the farm where the horse was awaiting a trip to the Lancaster-area and I liked what I saw so we gave the 4-large they were asking for him. I'd like to buy 10 more just like him" Rose Run Nash breezed to a new lifetime mark of 1:57.3 when driver Jimmy Marohn, Jr. set sails from the pole position and the pair raced unchallenged the entire mile trotting through fractions of :28.2, :58.1, and 1:28 with his tail out straight and flying in the wind before finishing some three lengths ahead of Pacific Margaux and driver Johnny Plutino. "Being on the front-end made it easy for me because he's a big horse and with his tail in my face all the way I could hardly see where I was going half the time," Marohn said smiling with his inimitable tongue in cheek expression.. "Not really, Danny's got him (Rose Run Nash) in top form and he's real sharp right now" and then he walked back his previous statement when he added, "I had no problem seeing where I was going." It was Rose Run Nash's second consecutive victory and fourth in his last five starts.. Now the property of Gill's main patron, Edward Hall, Rose Run Nash paid $3.50 for win. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

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