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Latham, NY---The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State (HHBNYS) has announced with great pride that longtime horseman and journalist John Manzi will be the recipient of the 2014 Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal. This eighth annual award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding integrity in the sport of harness racing and has also taken the time to give back to both the sport and their community in the State of New York. John Manzi has been doing exactly that for over 50 years. Manzi has been involved in harness racing his entire life. Coming from a racing family, he started out training and driving at Monticello Raceway in the late 1960's and enjoyed doing it until 1974. That is when he found something he enjoyed doing even more; promoting the sport. He eventually started working on the other side of the fence at the Meadowlands and in 1980 became Monticello Raceway's full time director of publicity and public relations. 44 years later he still holds the same position. A tireless fundraiser on his own time, John Manzi has helped numerous industry organizations offset day to day expenses through his benevolent efforts. He has been the impetus for money raised and donated to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Goshen Historic Track, the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame, the Standardbred Retirement Fund and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. As a driving force in the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), he runs its annual banquet that honors their local horsemen and then uses the proceeds to fund numerous other worthwhile causes throughout the year. Besides his promotional work of the sport at Monticello, he has done publicity for the New York Sire Stakes and other New York State races and actually worked for Bruce Hamilton when he was the executive director of the HHBNYS. He is also the publicist for the Billings Amateur Driving Series and the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA). Manzi has also served high posts for some very important organizations within the racing industry. He is a former National president of both USHWA and the Harness Publicist Association. John Manzi's efforts have not gone unnoticed through the years as his list of acknowledgments will attest. He is a member of the Communicator's Hall of Fame in Goshen and has received the Proximity Award from USHWA, the Pinnacle Award from the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Appreciation Award from Harness Horsemen International, the Laurel Award from New York City USHWA and was named USHWA'n of the Year in 1992. Manzi's other passion is music and he is a longtime collector of "doo-wop" and rock and roll records. In 1983 he was given his own radio show called The Bop Shop on WVOS-FM in Monticello. He is currently celebrating his 31st year in broadcasting and can be heard both on the radio and streaming live on the internet. John Manzi was married to the late Sharon Manzi for almost fifty years and is the loving father of two daughters, Michelle Miller and Tracy Manzi and three granddaughters, Elizabeth, Kim and Fiona McNamara. The presentation of the Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal will take place at the New York Sire Stakes and USTA District 8 awards dinner at Vernon Downs Hotel and Casino on October 26 at 6:30 p.m. For reservations or more information, contact the Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or info@hhbnys.org. By Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of NYS    

Two years ago the Historic Track Board of Directors had a dilemma; refurbish the track offices located under the grandstand or move to the Arden Clubhouse. But that too, needed renovating. Either way, the upgrade posed a costly problem especially for the non-for-profit organization. "We decided that our best move would be to renovate the Arden Clubhouse," noted the then Board president, Bernie White. "And we're so glad we did. The old offices under the grandstand had seen their best days so we figured the Arden Clubhouse would work best for us." Though the decision was a daunting one, still something had to be done. And it was. The exhaustive task was completed and by the time that the first snow began to fall the Arden Clubhouse was ready. "It wasn't an easy task," White admitted. "Since the Arden Clubhouse is part of the National Historic Landmark certain rules and regulations had to be adhered to." Serving as the track office, the Arden Clubhouse is where all track business is done; from Board Meetings to anything that pertains to the racing and training operations. On October 14, at the recent meeting of Historic Track's Board of Directors, new Board president, Steve Jones, appreciatively accepted the non-profit 2013 Goshen Restoration Unlimited Preservation Award handed to him by Goshen Preservation president, Maureen Quattrini. According to Jones, the metal plaque will be displayed on the Arden Clubhouse for all the world to see. by John Manzi, for Goshen Historic Track

Winning races is nothing new for Bruce Aldrich, Jr. He wins plenty of 'em. Many days he has three or four winners on a race card but when he wins five it deserves notice. That's exactly what Aldrich did at the Mighty M on Tuesday afternoon, October 14. He won two, DC's Piggy Bank and Mixed Media, for trainer Bob Lounsbury who always uses Aldrich to drive his stock. Other winners were King Otra (1:55.4) for trainer Dave Russo; Riverboat Sue (1:58.4) for Eric Taddeo and one, What Rusty (1:56.4), for Elisha Lafreniere. Aldrich again tops the Monticello Raceway driver's leaderboard, something that has become synonymous with his name. Currently his 275 winners are tops and are 79 more than runner-up Jimmy Devaux's, 196. Aldrich came to Monticello in 1999 and over the first decade of the 21st Century he won more races than any other driver here, even more than Billy "Zeke" Parker, Jr. Since then Aldrich has a streak of three consecutive years-assuming his big lead will hold up by year's end- winning the Mighty M driving title and he's won five title here in the last six years. . But for Aldrich his seasonal stats began bulging when he gave up training and just concentrated on driving. That happened in mid- 2012 after he moved his base of operations to Saratoga Springs, NY where he bought a farm and became a regular at Saratoga Raceway. That year he finished the entire season with 289 winners. The following year Aldrich started the season here and was the leader in races won at Monticello Raceway, but when Saratoga Raceway - his new home track-opened in the early spring he decided to race at both Monticello and Saratoga. And that's been his MO since. Aldrich admits driving at two tracks, mostly on the same days, is grueling, especially when they are 145 miles apart. And that Monticello races during the afternoon and Saratoga mostly at night, would this venue even be possible. However, no longer is Bruce Aldrich just a regional stalwart, he has become a national contender. In mid-December last year we put together a driving competition between Aldrich and the then national leader, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. whose home track is Northfield Park in greater Cleveland, Ohio. When Wrenn graciously agreed to participate we decided to call the competition the Aldrich-Wrenn Drive-off. Nothing unusual there you say? Well how about that after the 13 races were put together by director of racing Eric Warner and the post positions drawn, each driver-with the Racing Board's sanction -- would choose his own mount in every other race. And although the only winner was the racing public as they enjoyed the driving talents of two premier reinsmen, Aldrich finished with six winners and Wrenn had won four. Brucester, as I call him, had a hot-hand until the curtain came down on the 2013 season, so much so, that he finished the year tied for second-with Dave Palone- in races won (645) in North America behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr.s 714. This year again, Aldrich,46, is a factor. Currently his 471 winners ranks him in sixth place on the North American leaderboard. Still that puts him ahead of such steadfast reinsmen as Yannick Gingris(451 wins), Corey Callahan (429); Jason Bartlett (427) and Tim Tetrick (397). For the record Ronnie Wrenn Jr.is battling for the lead with Aaron Merriman and currently trails him by 16 wins, 645-629. Earlier this season, on June 23, Aldrich reined his 5,000th career winner and as of this writing his total is now 5221. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway  

Sunday, October 12 in Saratoga Springs NY was an absolutely beautiful day, weather wise, and for Steve" You're Never Too" Oldford and "Bullet Bob" Davis it was equally grand because both gentlemen drivers won their respective divisions of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series which was part of the 13- race program presented that day at the Spa City oval. Winning a horse race as a non-professional is always a great pleasure but for Bob Davis his victory in front of his hometown crowd and that he won his contest with Jimmer, a horse named for Jimmer Fredette, one of the greatest college basketball players to ever come out of Saratoga County, only made Davis' victory all that more sweet. "Jimmer just came off a three month layoff and is just rounding into form after a qualifier and a second place finish in a NAADA trot at Yonkers (Raceway) "Davis said via a telephone." He's a pretty nice trotter when he's right." In their contest Davis left softly with Jimmer and found a hole in fifth position as the field headed for the quarter pole. Content to stay put until the backside it was there that Davis moved behind cover and then went three deep and the altered son of Equinox Bi zipped right around everyone and took command with less than a quarter mile to go. "Once we made the front I knew Jimmer was the best and he trotted home an easy winner in (1):59 and two," Davis added Second place went to Dave "Steady As" Yarock with Rompaway Alvin while another hometowner, Simeon "Hot Rod" Hunsdon, picked up the show dough with Jolie's Prayer. Jimmer is trained by David Corlew and co-owned by Davis and Terry Vanvalkenburgh. He paid $9.90 for win. The second Billings trot saw hot-handed Steve Oldford once again take home the lion's share of the $5500 purse money when he guided his own Magglio to a 1:59.4 victory over Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin and Current Crisis. Third place went to the betting favorite Bit O Victory, in rein to "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello. "When the gate sprung I sent Magglio toward the front but I found a spot in third position as we trotted to the first panel," Oldford related. From there Oldford was content to follow the pace set by Bob Davis and Conway Cruiser until he felt it was time to move. "When we neared the three quarters I squeezed out between horses and took the lead as we headed around the paddock turn. Krivelin was tight on my back and he aped my every move but when we straightened for home my horse was the strongest and we won it by a littler more than a length." ,," Oldford added. Owned by Steve Oldford and the Oldford Farms LLC, and trained by Allen Sisco, Magglio returned an $8.90 win mutuel to those who backed him. On Monday, October 20, the Billings Series will have its initial competitions over the 5/8th mile oval at the new Dayton Raceway. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series

The 56th annual awards banquet of the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will be on Sunday, November 16 at the Fountains at the Wallkill Golf Club on Sands Road in Circleville, NY. A social hour begins at 5:30 p.m with dinner to follow. Honorees are Ted Gewertz, Crawford Farms, Ken Weingartner, Jason Settlemoir, George Casale and Geri Schwarz. The evening will break from the usual format of presenting awards early, to a friendly roast of longtime master of ceremonies and banquet chairman John Manzi. Manzi also has been the eyes of the Monticello Raceway, heading the public relations team for so many years that his name is synonymous with the track. The roast should be quite a lot of fun. (He also is host of the Bop Shop Radio Show that coincidentally is celebrating its 31st anniversary today, October 10. Tune in from 8 p.m. to midnight on WVOS-FM.) Manzi is co-chairing the banquet this year with Chris Tully, president of the national USHWA, and Shawn Wiles, second vice president. The banquet will continue the tradition of donating the profits from the printed journal with congratulatory ads and messages. Recipients are the Goshen Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, two separate entities although next door to each other in Goshen. Tickets are $65 per person and to place a congratulatory ad in the awards journal please call the raceway at 794-4100, ext. 455. From the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA

After competing at Flamboro Downs on Sunday (Oct.5) the Billings Series action in Canada continued on Monday(Oct. 6) at Mohawk Raceway where Michiganders, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and Mike "the Mortgage Man" Mitchell, each emerged victorious in their respective divisions; Oldford with Bold Strike and Mitchell with Unabating. The two-day trip marked the second time this season that Billings members raced in Canada, initially competing over a weekend in early September at two racetracks in the Maritimes. Although going into his contest on Monday as the leading point-earner in the lengthy amateur driving series, Oldford added even more points to his seasonal total after reining his own Bold Strike to a gate to wire triumph in a time of 1:58:4. Second place went to Kelly "Sky" Walker who rallied Protégé Seelster from 13- lengths back at the quarter pole to finish second, a length behind the winner. Once again, Canada's own Howie the Horse" Gelfand took home the show dough-as he did yesterday at Flamboro Downs-this time with Back To Peace. "I had the rail and sent my horse to the lead and we went down the road. I got to steal a few fractions along the way and my horse was still strong in the stretch," Oldford related. "It was fun, but then again, it's always fun when you win." Bold Strike, owned by Oldford, paid $7.40 for win. Oldford's traveling companion, Mike Mitchell, was also victorious but his triumph came behind a catch - drive.. In that contest Mitchell had the heavy favorite, Unabating from the two hole, and they got away slowly -fifth at the first panel 13 lengths back-allowing "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello with BWT Taj to lead the field by the quarter in :27. Still on the engine at the halfway point in :56.3, as Zuccarello headed to the third stanza Mitchell began to move closer to the lead and with a three-deep move on the final turn Unabating trotted by BWT Taj and breezed home a solid winner in 1:56. "I was told that my horse would not leave (the starting gate) good but once the race got underway I'd be able to do anything I want with him," Mitchell said. "Still being so far behind in the early going made me a little nervous. But we caught the leaders and in the lane my horse finished like the favorite he was." Zuccarello and BWT Taj finished second while yet another Michigander, "Jerry the Jet" Mihelich was third with Natural Forces. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series

Canada racetracks seem to like the Billings Series, or at least they appear to have confidence in the amateur driver's abilities, so much so, that they place their races on the betting cards as they did in the Canadian Maritimes earlier this season, and yesterday (Sunday, Oct. 5) at Flamboro Downs, and will today (Monday, Oct, 6) at Mohawk Raceway. The good folks at both Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside Raceway on Prince Edward Island enjoy having Billings competitions there and they annually invite the Billings amateurs to come and partake of their hospitality and drive at their race tracks, which they did in early September. However, Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso can be applauded for getting Flamboro and Mohawk to host competitions, which all Billings members are extremely grateful for. On Sunday at Flamboro Downs a nine-horse field went to post in a Billings pace and although it was hotly contested when the judges hung the official sign it was "Bullet Bob" Davis who emerged victorious with Domenico DiCicco's 7- year-old Red River Hanover mare, Victoria, in a time of 2:00.3. Davis started from the six-hole and Victoria had to pace a :28.3 quarter to gain command at the first stanza. From there Davis parked all comers and at the halfway point there were five-in and four out as -the timer revealed a :59.1 first half. Although Davis had a tough time shaking off Kelly "Sky" Walker and Hudson Gal, she began to fade as the field reached the third panel. But her still being on the limb gave on the final turn gave cover of sorts to the pace-setter, Victoria and no one really shook loose until, too late to overtake Davis's mare. First under the wire was Bob Davis and Victoria, a length ahead of Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford with Laura Mae. Canadian amateur, Howie The Horse" Gelfand, finished third with Angel From Above. Victoria, trained by her owner Dom DeCicco, went off at odds of 6-1 and paid $14.00 for win. For Bob Davis it was his fifth driving victory of the season. Also participating in the Flamboro Downs event -in the order of which they finished behind the top three-were Mike "the Mortgage Man" Mitchell, Kelly "Sky" Walker, "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello, Vladimir "Butch" Melnichenko, Dave" Yes It's True" Offenberg ,and Tony "the Capo" Verruso. That same group of Billings amateurs will be joined by "Jumpin Jerry" Michelich and all ten will compete in two races on Monday (Oct.6) at Mohawk Race Track. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series

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

What’s going on here? Another new track record at Monticello Raceway? “That’s correct,” said the raceway’s announcer Howard Oil. “This one is the 10th new harness racing track records this season and that’s the most we ever had in a single year.” On Tuesday afternoon, September 30, with the leaves turning shades of red and yellow and beginning to fall to the ground, O’Sundland paced to a new track record for 4 year old stallions when Larry Stalbaum  guided him to a romping six-length victory in a time of  1:53 which established a  new standard for horses of his age and gait. O’Sundland’s victory was one and one-fifth seconds faster than the old mark of 1:54.1 set just two weeks ago on September 16 by Twin B Famous and driver Mike Merton. It was the first start here for the son of Ponder after coming in from the Midwest where he was racing at the Red Mile and Balmoral Park. “My buddy, Bobby Williams, Jr., just sent him to me,” Larry Stalbaum said of O’Sundland via telephone from the paddock.  Williams has had a lot of bad luck recently, lost his son and his good friend, Ken Sundland, for who(m) the horse was named for. “He told me he thinks O’Sundland is a good horse and after the way he  raced today, ya’ know, I believe he’s right.” After starting from the six- hole Stalbaum gunned O’ Sundland toward the front but they didn’t gain command until just before the quarter which was timed in :27.4. From there Stalbaum let his pacer breeze and they passed the halfway point in :57, two lengths in front of the field. Up the backside O’Sundland kicked in a 28-second quarter and they were three in front at that panel.  O’Sundland kept pouring it on and paced a 28-second final quarter en route to an eased-up six-length 1:53 victory. “We went down the road and he was well in-hand at the finish,” Stalbaum said using racetrack vernacular in conveying his thoughts. Odds-on favorite Mixed Media was second for Bruce Aldrich, Jr. Kennanskingwilliam and Jimmy Taggart, Jr. finished third. “Since I got him he’s been at the farm running in the paddocks and I didn’t even train him. But he’s a speed horse and he doesn’t need much training, anyway. Still I was really surprised how easily he did it today,” Stallbaum added. “I was swinging on him in the lane and I know he’ll go a lot more before it’s all over.” Owned by Bobby Williams, Jr. and trained by  Kimberly Asher, O’Sundland had four previous victories in 10 starts. He paid $5.30 for win in his Mighty M debut. In a year with multiple track records, O’Sundland’s 1:53 victory was one of the fastest miles at the Mighty M thus far this year. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

The annual NAADA Fall Trotting Series got underway at Freehold Raceway on Friday afternoon and when the dust had settled Bob Hechkoff and Get Packin trotted on to a wire to wire 2:00 victory. Starting on the outside in sixth position, Hechkoff sent the betting favorite to the front and they made every pole a winning one en route to a one length victory over Wygant Prince and driver Bob Davis third place went to Rev It Now driven by Hannah Miller. "He's an old veteran and just a pleasure to drive," noted Hechkoff who is an executive recruiter by trade.. "He can leave, he'll sit in a hole comfortably and with 60 victories in his career he has a desire to win." Hechkoff's R.B.H Ventures Stable has owned the veteran 12 year old Muscles Yankee gelding since this past February and the old guy has been nothing but good for Hechkoff earning him nearly $40,000 this season, not to mention the seven winning rides Get Packin has afforded his owner this season. However, over the veteran trotter's career he has earned more than $545,000 for those who paid the bills on him. Hechkoff and Get Packin can be found competing in many amateur events not the least being the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series. Although Hechkoff didn't earnestly get involved in amateur racing until 2004 he has become a force to be reckoned with. He drove his first winner that year and since then he has recorded 54 victories usually driving about 35 races a year. Open to drivers who are members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association-and anyone can easily become a member-- the NAADA Trotting Series differs from others in that the organization donates to deserving charities at the end of their series of races. Next stop will be at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, Oct. 2 where the competing amateurs will race for $6,000 purses in the two events that are expected that evening. At series end the drivers who earned the most points in the preliminaries will get a chance to race in the $14,000 Final. John Manzi

It's what the amateur drivers live for; steady action. And that was the case this past weekend for members of the C.K.G Billings Harness Racing Driving Series when there were races at Batavia Downs on Friday and at Vernon Downs and on Saturday. Races there followed an event at the Red Mile on Thursday (Sept 25) which was won by Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, as was reported earlier. But Oldford was at it again on Friday after he drove nine hours from Lexington to race at Batavia Downs in two Billings contests winning the second one with a catch-drive behind Allpointsbulletin in a time of 2:02.3. After leaving from the pole position Oldford's trotter took command with Dave "Poppa" Glasser ducking in behind him on the first turn with Somolli Crown. They raced one-two around the track with Somolli Crown tight on Oldford's back until the lane where Glasser rallied and the two trotters crossed the wire nearly simultaneously with neither driver sure as to who won. "Glasser and I were so busy trying to get our horses home that neither of us was sure who won it," Oldford said. "Glasser went back to the winners circle but when the judges posted my numbers I then circled back for the winners circle presentation." Third place went to 21-1 longshot Say It Best driven by "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli. After the race Oldford told trainer Andy Torre that he won a race the previous day at the Red Mile. "Andy told me he won there in 1958. Why, that was the year I was born," Oldford said incredulously. Allpointsbulletin returned a $6.60 win mutuel. He is owned and trained by Torre who will turn 80 years old on September 30. The first Billings event was a pace and it was won by Richard "Call Me Rick" Roach, a Michigander from Davison who notched his first driving victory of the season although he was victorious 134 times in the past. And with Oldford also from the Wolverine State it made a Michigander double. Roach had Windsong Destroyer from post five and he worked a pocket -trip as Dave "Poppa" Glasser cut the fractions with The Spartan. And although Glasser's pacer went a strong trip Roach came calling in the lane and Windsong Destroyer rallied to a length triumph over the pace-setter in a time 2:01.1. The betting favorite, Rammy Girl in rein to Tony "the Capo" Verruso, finished third with broken equipment. Windsong Destroyer, owned by Sharon Stockwell, paid $16.40 for win. On Saturday at Vernon Downs Mighty Matt" Zuccarello won the Billings trot there with 43-1 shot Armstead Kyra in a time of 1:56.1 "We had the five-hole and I left to get position but we ended up on the front end," Zuccarello explained. "We went a fast quarter (27.3) so once I got on the lead I tried to back off a bit so my mare would have something left at the end." After the half was trotted in :58.1 Choke Hold and Vladimir "Butch" Melnichenko pressed Armstead Kyra on the outside but Zuccarello's trotter had enough to stave off her, and all comers, in the lane to win by a full length over Choke Hold, the betting favorite. Permanent Joy came from way back to finish third for Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin. Understandably Zuccarello was thrilled after his fastest ride to the winners circle and he added; "I really appreciate (trainer) Gary (Messenger) allowing me to drive her (Armstead Kyra) and I hope I get a chance to drive her again." The winner is owned by Brenda Messenger and Dr. Scott Woogen. She paid $89.00, $21.00 and $15.00 across the board. John Manzi  

In what turned out to be one of the fastest miles ever recorded in the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and his veteran trotter Bold Strike stopped the timer in 1:55.4 and won the Billings trot at the Red Mile on Thursday, September 25. Oldford, who now has slipped ahead of Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff in total Billings points, had little trouble getting the job done at Lexington last night . He gunned Bold Strike to the lead from the nine-hole and they had two on the field as they passed the first panel in :28.2. After a half in :57.1 Bold Strike bore out up the backside and "Lawbook Larry" Farley surprised Oldford when he snuck up the inside of him with Good Friend and they gained a head lead over Bold Strike at the third stanza. But that was the only time that Farley had command because when the field straightened for home Bold Strike trotted to the front and rambled home a 1-1/4 length winner. In the deep stretch "Chicago George" Bonomo rallied Tioga Thunder and they took home second money when they nosed-out Farley and Good Friend in the final strides. An understandably happy Oldford had nothing but accolades for the competition, especially being able to compete over the hallowed Red Mile. "It was a good race and everyone had a good time," Oldford said, and then added with a chuckle," My horse was pulling an Amish buggy six weeks ago." According to Steve this was his second win in-a-row and his third consecutive with him driving Bold Strike in Billings competition. While conversing with him via telephone Oldford related that there was a chance that the race would be held over to the next day. "We had a power outage during the races and I got a little nervous when they talked about finishing the card tomorrow," he explained. "I have two drives in the Billings at Batavia Downs tomorrow but thankfully the power came back on and we got our race in. At the crack of dawn, I'll be starting the nine-hour drive to Batavia." by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

Scottish Cross trotted to a new track record for older trotting mares at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday, September 24 when Mike Merton guided the 9 year old daughter of Angus Hall to a 1:56.4 triumph. That clocking erased the former standard of 1:57 co-held by Aren't I Hanover and Mymomsablizzard, both set last year. It marked the second time in just a week that a track record was lowered. On September 17, Bruce Aldrich Jr. drove On The Podium to a 1:56.2 victory which was a new standard for older trotting geldings. In all, thus far during the 2014 season here nine new track marks were established. Scottish Cross came to the Mighty M three weeks ago from Canada with trainer Carmen Auciello where she had been racing splendidly in claiming races. Mike Merton picked up the catch-drive behind her and in her first start here on September 10 Scottish Cross was victorious in 1:58 while racing against $10, 000 claimers, she with a $12,000 claiming allowance tag. A move up to the $15,000 claiming ranks -she raced for $18,750 with her allowance-- the following week resulted in a third place finish behind On The Podium's 1:56.2 track record. But yesterday (Sept. 24), back down and with a $12,500 claiming tag, Merton let Scottish Cross air-out as they trotted to an oh-so-easy nine-length track record victory over Bertos Angel and Jimmy Taggart, Jr. "She was pretty handy," Merton said of Scottish Cross who raced on the front-end from the get-go. "I was just sitting on her as we passed the half (in :57.4) and we were just a length in front at that point but as we headed up the backside I asked her a bit and we began to open daylight and the farther we went the more of a lead we had." At the wire Scottish Cross was nine lengths in front of runner-up Bertos Angel. Third place in that six-horse field went to Sir Siro (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) However, as famous newscaster Paul Harvey often said, 'now for the rest of the story'. Trainer Bob Lounsbury's patron, Philip Schultz, plunked down the 12 large and they took her from her previous owners, Denarben Stables and Rocco Auciello. Sent off as the betting favorite in the race Scottish Cross won for the 12th time this year and returned a $3.20 win payoff. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Bruce Aldrich, Jr.and Bob Lounsbury are at it again. Two years ago here at Monticello Raceway that driver/trainer combination had 18 consecutive victories with a claiming pacer by the name of Tracy's Song, and currently they're running another string with Burlesque, also a claiming pacing mare. On the Monday afternoon card of Sept. 22 Aldrich guided the Lounsbury-trained Burlesque to an easy 1:57.3 victory over Rusty's Flying (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) which was the mare's seventh win in-a-row. It's true that seven is a long way from 18 but, as Aldrich said referring to the mare's winning journey, "we'll take it one step at a time, although honestly, it'll be nearly impossible to win that many in a row." Actually Burlesque showed shades of brilliance earlier in her career but she could never could get it all together. She amassed nearly $100,000 in purse money at two and three but wins as came sparingly. "Phil (Schultz) claimed Burlesque for $12,500 in Canada earlier this year but he was not happy about with her after he claimed her, "Lounsbury said. "She didn't want to race so finally Schultz sent her to his other trainer, Mike Watson, and told him to put her in at Monticello Raceway for a $4000 claiming tag." Watson also trained Diamond Tiara for Schultz but he stables his horses in Wind Gap, Pa. some 90 miles from Monticello Raceway. "With shipping bills around $200 every time she raced at Monticello it didn't pay Phil to have Watson keep trucking her here since she wasn't racing very well," Lounsbury explained. "I've trained horses for Phil before so he sent her to me to stop the shipping costs. "She didn't race well for me either, at first. I know she was sour because she'd try to runoff the track when we jogged her so we began feeding her 'Dr. Green' (turning her out in a pasture) a few days a week and that she seemed to sweeten up." Lounsbury won his first race with Burlesque on June 10 when Aldrich sat a two hole with the 4-year-old daughter of Mach Three and then rallied her to a 1:56.4 victory. Her only other triumph prior to that was a 1:53.3 mile on February 24 for Jonathan Drury while racing for a $12,500 tag at Woodbine. However, after Schultz claimed her, Burlesque refused to race at all so he sent her to Mike Watson and he told him to put her in for $4000 (claimer) at Monticello Raceway. "She (Burlesque) only picked up a few small checks in her first three starts for Mike so he sent her here to me so there would be no more shipping costs," Lounsbury explained. Once at the Mighty M and under the tutelage of Lounsbury, Burlesque won her first race on June 10 and since then she has won 9 more times for Lounsbury-Aldrich combination, every time racing for a tag which was continually magnified by her being a mare and a four year old. "She's not a mean mare but she's temperamental and being here where she can get away for the race track a few days a week helps to sweeten her up," Lounsbury added. "She has a mind of her own but Bruce(Aldrich) gets along real well with her." by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff has been a force to be reckoned with over the past few years in the Billings Harness Driving Series. With his victory at Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon(Sept. 20) the Executive Recruiter by trade, notched his eighth seasonal victory when he guided his own Tagmaster to gate to wire triumph in a 2:01.1 clocking. Alaric and "Johnny on The Spot" Kolkowski finished second some four lengths behind the winner while third place went to Sam's Honeybee, driven by the Billings Series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. Besides his eight wins Hechkoff's seasonal stats also include 12 seconds and four thirds in 38 trips to post for a whopping .421UDR. Last year he was the winner of the Harness Racing Museum's Amateur Driver of the Year Award and again this year , "the Headhunter" has a good chance of repeating especially if he can hold off Steve' You're Never Too" Oldford. Although Hechkoff currently leads Oldford in total points 125 -115, to become the Museum's Amateur of the Year it all comes down to the total amount of money donated to the Museum from the percentage earned by the horses they drive in the Billings Series. Still, there are plenty of chances for all Billings participants to add to their seasonal earnings with 10 series events remaining before the regional finales in November. And when the series preliminary legs are concluded the $25,000 Gold and $15,000 Silver Cup Finals will be contested at Harrah's Philadelphia on November 23. The Gold and Silver Cup finales are for the Billings drivers who earned the most points during the seven month series. Besides Hechkoff (135) and Oldford (115) the current leaders in points include Tony Verruso (81), "Marvelous Marvin" Raber (80),"Mighty Matt" Zuccarello (73), Dave" Yes it's True" Offenberg, (73), David "Steady As" Yarock (66), "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli (61), Peter "Sycamore Ventures" Gerry (61) and Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg (54). by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

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

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