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DELAWARE, OHIO, Sept. 21--The Hall of Fame Amateur Harness Racing Series began last winter in Florida at Pompano Park with future legs contested at Historic Track and the Meadowlands and culminated in the series finale at Delaware, Ohio on Jug Day, September 21. That well contested final saw Ned Hodkinson and his veteran trotter Mutinyonthebounty rally in the final strides to notch a stunning victory in a time of 1:58.4. Previous series winners included Steve Oldford, Dein Spriggs and Hannah Miller. On Thursday at the home of the Little Brown Jug Ned Hodkinson was content to allow Dein Spriggs to cut the fractions with Rompaway Beau. Hodkinson stalked the leader throughout and overtook him at the top of the stretch and then held off late rushes by both Gregg Keidel's Tinder and Kween Mightus, driven by Peter Gerry. They finished second and third respectively. Owned and also trained by Hodkinson, Mutinyonthebounty was sent off at odds of over 8-1 and returned $18.80 to all his supporters. The HOF Amateur Series is the brainchild of both Museum Trustee, Steve Oldford and Dein Spriggs, who by the way is currently running for USTA Director from District Six. Says Spriggs, "This amateur series was, and is intended, to raise funds for the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY as well as increasing membership to the museum." The starting fees collected from the participating amateur drivers along with matching funds totaled more than $10,000 this season with hopes that number will increase precipitously in future seasons. "This year, our first, we raised over $10,000 for the Museum and Hall of Fame and we gained members for the Harness Racing Museum," said Steve Oldford. According to Oldford the 2018 Hall of Fame Amateur Series will commence at Lexington Kentucky's Red Mile this coming Thursday,October 5th. "We'll be renaming the track's Gentleman's Amateur Trot to now be known as the Hall of Fame Amateur Drivers Series Trot,with all starting fees and other ancillary levies to be donated to the Harness Racing Museum," Oldford added. The entire dates for the 2018 HOF Amateur Series will be forthcoming. By John Manzi  

Monica Banca doesn't drive often but when she does she's a force to be reckoned with. Today, (Thurs. Sept 21) in a division of the NAADA Trotting Series at Monticello Raceway Ms. Banca went to post for the 13th time this season and logged her seventh harness racing seasonal driving victory when she scored a 1:59.4 triumph with Brandos Muscle Man. After settling in the three hole after the wings of the mobile gate folded Banca, was content to follow the leaders until Joe Lee, who was traveling along near the back of the pack moved Tim Lizzi off the pylons as the field headed to the halfway point. That challenge precipitated a move from Banca who was moved her trotter out to challenge the pacesetter Ladys Big Stormont (Alan Schwartz). When they rounded the clubhouse turn for the final time Brandos Muscle Man had command and braced for Wygant Prince and driver Paul Minore who moved out from behind Schwartz's trotter and ranged alongside Brandos Muscle Man. as they headed for the three quarters. They raced one-two around the final turn and in the lane it appeared Wygant Prince would trot by the leader but that was not to happen as Brandos Muscle Man Dug in and rebuffed Wygant Prince to score a neck victory. Three lengths farther back was Tim Lizzie in third place. "My horse raced real good last week when we finished second beaten by just a head," Banca said after the race "Today I moved earlier than I wanted to so I wouldn't get locked in, but Brandos was strong and trotted to the lead. When we headed for home Wygant Prince began gaining ground but my horse dug in and wouldn't let him pass." Banca co-owns the Muscles Yankee 9-year old gelding with the Rock and Roll Stable. Trained by Rick Dane, Jr. Bandos Muscle Man paid $7.50. In the other NAADA split Dave Yarock used the front-end route for a trip to the winners circle with Mr Ridgetaker. After starting from the two-hole Yarock got away with a fairly soft :29.2 first quarter and had his sights set on racing on the front-end which could easily be determined when Alan Schwartz and Grand Vision).came alongside near the quarter pole and he kept them on the limb They raced one-two to the halfway point with the order remaining the same as they trotted by the three quarters in 1:30.3. When the field came off the final turn Mr Ridgetaker had three lengths on field and cruised home an easy winner "He raced good last week when we finished fourth (by length and a half) but today he was at the top of his game,"Yarock said referring to Mr Ridgetaker. "We had a better post this week and he was strong the whole mile." Sam's Honeybee with Tony Verruso aboard, snuck up the passing lane late to garner second money while Jennifer Lappe finished third with Fox Valley Steffen. Mr Ridgetaker, also owned by Yarock, is trained by Dawn Devaux. He returned a $10.20 mutuel. John Manzi

She's only been harness racing full time for the past four years but one thing is for sure about "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and that is she doesn't need to take her racetrack around with her because everywhere she goes-and even in Europe, she wins. On Sunday afternoon, September 17 the talented miss guided Pine Tab to an easy 1:59.4 victory over seven others in a Billings Trot at the home of the Little Brown Jug, Delaware, Ohio. Sent off as the 7-5 favorite Hannah sent Pine Tab to the lead and they had command on the first turn as her competitors filed in along the pylons behind her which allowed the talented miss to get away with a soft :30 first quarter. Bob "Lumberman" Troyer and Oneeyedmomma were the first to move followed closely by Kelly "Sky" Walker and Rush N Supreme as the field headed to the halfway point. However, Ms Miller got them by that stanza still a length in front as the timer flashed 1:01. When Pine Tab straightened in the backstretch he had company in the presence of Oneeyedmomma. But that challenge faded as Miller's charge rounded the final turn. And when they headed for home Pine Tab opened daylight on the field as Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel and Kween Mightus took over second place. In the deep stretch it was all Pine Tab who went on to a three-length 1:59.4 victory over Keidel's trotter. Rush N Supreme out-footed Oneeyedmomma to garner the show dough. Owned by the JL Benson Stable and trained by Nick Surick Pine Tab paid $4.40 for win . And if that wasn't enough "Hurricane Hannah" won the Tim Fouts Memorial Driving Championship with odds-on favorite Banging The Drum in a swift 1:57.1 a little later on the Sunday card. It was her 21st amateur victory thus far this year. Ned Hodkinson's Badger Quinn finished second with third place going to Picasso Forever handled by Kelly Walker. Banging The Drum is owned by Robert Brooks and trained by Jimmy Lupton. He paid $3.40 for win. A very happy Hannah Miller was contacted after her victory in the Fouts Memorial and she said. "This was my second time driving here at Delaware and I couldn't be any more happy with how the day went! "Pine Tab was able to leave out of the gate well here and get the lead pretty easy and he was in hand at the wire. That was my first win here at the Delaware County Fair and I had another win in the Tim Fouts Memorial later on the card. I'll drive here again on Thursday." An annual event, the Fouts Memorial pits drivers---one from each--who are members of the industry's various amateur clubs By John Manzi for the Billings Series

Once again three races for amateur drivers dotted the harness racing card at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (Sept). 14) with two events contested in the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) Fall Trotting Series and one in the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club (CADC) Pacing Series. Bob Krivelin, Alan Schwartz and Monica Banca were victorious in their respective splits. Krivelin and Schwartz each won a NAADA trot while Banca's victory came in a CADC pacing even. With rain threatening throughout the afternoon Krivelin was the first to reach the winners circle when he guided Permanent Joy to a come-from-behind victory over Tony Verruso's Flirting Duezy in a 1:59.3 clocking over a racetrack rated fast. When the field rounded the second turn in that contest Krivelin moved Permanent Joy to the outside and flushed out Verruso's trotter for cover as Dave Yarock showed the way with Mr Ridgetaker. At the head of the lane Yarock's charge still had command but yielded as Permanent Joy finished strong and rallied to a 1-1/2 length victory over Flirting Duezy. Jennifer Lappe took home the show dough with Fox Valley Steffen. "I moved (Permanent Joy) early and we had cover until I wheeled him three deep on the final turn and when I did he trotted by the leaders and was home free," Krivelin said of his 9-year-old Trot For Joy gelding. Dismissed by the bettors and sent off at odds of over 7-1 Permanent Joy, owned and trained by Krivelin, paid $16.80. For Krivelin it marked his 210th career driving victory. Schwartz's triumph with The Fighter came as a result of patience, both before and during the race. Hard to control prior to going behind the starting gate but once there The Fighter acts almost normal. When the gate sprung Schwartz settled in the two hole behind Hannah Miller's Hidden Identity and sat patiently behind her as she led him all the way to the top of the stretch where he found room in the passing lane and rallied to a nose victory over a hard charging Brandos Muscle Man ,driven by Monica Banca. Hidden Identity held on for third. "I got lucky in that Hannah (Miller) was strong on the lead all the way to the stretch. And at that point I sent The Fighter down the passing lane and we won by the slimmest of margins. But a win is a win ," Schwartz said smiling. Owned by Ed and James Hall and trained by Danny Gill The Fighter returned a $10.20 win mutuel. For Schwartz it marked his 12th seasonal driving victory and the 587th of his amateur driving career. Although denied victory in the NAADA trot Monica Banca wouldn't be rebuffed in the CADC pace when she gunned Fox Valley Leo to the lead and made every pole a winning one en route to a 1:57.2 triumph Second place went to Artistic Cruiser driven by Hannah Miller which made 'all-lady' exacta. Third place went to Bob Hechkoff's Italian Rebel. "Once the gate closed he really wanted to go and I had a firm hold on him all the way to the half," Banca said of Fox Valley Leo.. "After that I eased up on the lines and he paced on to an easy three length victory " Owned and trained by Rick Dane, Fox Valley Leo scored his 7th seasonal triumph. For the Norwegian native it marked her sixth driving victory in just 12 seasonal starts and 20th since she began driving here in 2013. Amateur Day at the races began last Thursday at Monticello Raceway and is slated to continue weekly through November. by John Manzi for NAADA and CADC

Monticello, NY--Although it wasn't billed as such Thursday (Sept 7) at Monticello Raceway was 'amateur day at the races' with three different harness racing Amateur driving clubs presenting a race here. They included the CKG Billings Series, the NAADA trotting series, and a pacing event from the Catskill Amateur Drivers Association. And despite the fact that most of the drivers were eligible to all three series races each had with different winners. "Coach Paul" Minore won the Billings trot with Wygant Prince in 2:00 while Joe Lee was victorious in the NAADA trot with Tim Lizzie in a 2:02.4 clocking. And "Hurricane Hannah" Miller copped the CADA pacing event with Artistic Cruiser in 1:57 flat. In the Billings trot Minore took no prisoners when he gained command on the first turn and went down the road with Wygant Prince and they made every pole a winning one en route to a solid two length victory over Hannah Miller's Pine Tab. Finishing third, some four lengths behind the winner, was Permanent Joy with "Rapid Robert" Krivelin at the controls. "He was in over his head in his last two starts and I put him on the lead today because he likes the front end and he showed today why he does," Minore said referring to Wygant Prince. And for Minore it was some kind of milestone for him having won a race in America and one in Hungary this past week. (Minore won a leg of the USA v Hungary Friendship Competition last Saturday at Kincsem Park in Budapest). Dismissed by the bettors and sent off at odds of over 7-1 Wygant Prince paid $17.00 while winning for the fourth time this season. And it was Minore's third driving victory this year and 90th of his amateur driving career. The former high school track coach---- who's most famous student was the Olympic champion Carl Lewis--- owns the trotter who is trained by Taylor Gower. However, in the NAADA trot Joe Lee and Tim Lizzie had the railbirds smiling even more when those who held winning tickets were rewarded with a $61.00 payoff. After starting slowly Lee and Tim Lizzie were fifth at the first stanza but then went an overland trip and marched forward until they cleared the traffic and took command at the top of the lane. From there Tim Lizzie held off a charging Ladys Big Stormont (Alan Schwartz) to score a neck triumph. A length farther back in third was Perfect Road, in rein to Dein Spriggs. "I got cover behind Bob Davis (with The B Street Fan) and he carried me to the final turn where I moved Tim Lizzie three-deep and went to the lead and then held off Schwartz's trotter to win it," Lee explained. Tim Lizzie, a 7-year-old daughter of Tiny Tim, notched her fourth seasonal triumph for owner Woody Hoblitzell. She's trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr. For Joe Lee, the New Yok Yankee's assistant locker room manager, it was his 29th winning drive. Not to be outdone, “Hurricane Hannah” Miller showed why she is the two-time defending National Amateur Driver of the Year when she sat back off speedy fractions and then rallied her pacer, Artistic Cruiser, to a  three-length victory over Jennifer Lappe’s  Fool’s Gold. Lappe had cut speedy early fractions of :27.2--:57 and 1:26.4 before Miller came to pick up l the pieces. In that contest four of the seven drivers were ladies. But Joe Lee spoiled an all-lady trifecta by getting TKR’s Metro Specs up for the show dough. “We were chasing Jennifer (Lappe with Fool’s Gold) from the start and we began gaining on her when we  approached the three quarters. But when we started to round the final turn I wasn’t sure if we could catch her. But happily we did”, Miller said after the race.  It was the first seasonal triumph for Artistic Cruiser who returned a $7.90 mutuel.For Miller it marked her 19th seasonal driving victory and 92nd  thus far in her short career. John Manzi

Northfield, Ohio-- On a night that the participating amateur drivers probably would rather have sat it out because of the inclement weather still eight harness racing veterans from the Midwest region of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series ventured to Northfield Park for a trotting contest on Wednesday evening (Sept. 6) which saw Ned "Insurance Man" Hodkinson take no prisoners and make every pole a winning one en route to a 2:00.1 victory with his own Mutinyonthebounty. After a day inundated with rain Mutinyonthebounty, second choice in the wagering, found the wet going to his liking and after starting from the pole position in the eight-horse field Hodkinson zipped him to the lead and they had command early passing the first stanza in :29.2. Despite Oneeyedmomma (Bob "Lumberman" Troyer) and Rush N Supreme (Kelly "Sky" Walker) stuck on the limb Hodkinsons charge was undeterred and trotted by the halfway point in 1:00.2 with the betting favorite, Song In My Heart and "Tiny Tim" Miller, getting a two-hole journey. As the field headed for the three quarters and parked horses faded, Miller moved Song In My Heart out to challenge for the lead but Mutinyonthebounty was able to rebuff him and then open some daylight as they rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt. In the lane it was all Mutinyonthebounty and he reported home a 1-1/2 length winner over Song In My Heart. Third place went to Upfront Chip Daddy driven by Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola. It was the second victory of the season for Mutinyonthebounty who returned a $7.20 mutuel. And for Hodkinson, who doubles as the horse's owner and trainer , it was his 56th career driving victory. by John Manzi for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

Steve Oldford, a former National Amateur Driver of the Year, is back in the winner's circle for the 127th time since the business professional began driving in the harness racing amateur ranks .That milestone was accomplished in a Midwest region Billings trot at the Fulton County Fair in Wauseon, Ohio on Saturday, September 2nd. when he guided The Budster to a 2:02.4 victory over four others. "This was the first time that the Billings ever raced at Wauseon," Oldford related via telephone. "We (the Billings) got to race there due to the efforts of Larry Farley, who, by the way, sponsored the winning blanket trophy." Five Billings members from the Midwest region convened at Wauseon and by all indications the race was a barn-burner. Oldford enjoyed a pocket trip after starting from the five hole as Indalecio "Rocket" Arriaga parked Patricia "the Right Stuff" Miller through fast early fractions of:30.3 and 1:00.3, and it wasn't until the three quarters that Miller's Keep The Cash tired. From that point a three-horse race ensued between Oldford's, The Budster, Gregg " Fast Greggy" Keidel's ,Kween Mightus, and Lawbook Larry" Farley's Ronan. All three of the aforementioned trotters nearly hit the finish line simultaneously. "It was so close that neither of us was sure who the winner was," Oldford said. However the finish line photo camera knew. When the judges reviewed the photograph The Budster was a head winner over Kween Mightus and a nose farther back in third place was Ronan. Oldford owns the winner who's trained by Terry Deters. Sent off a slight favorite in well balanced field The Budster paid $5.00 for win. According to Oldford the hospitality shown the Billings participants was wonderful. "Wauseon is a great Fair and we look forward to returning annually.", he added. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series

Dein Spriggs, one of the most prolific amateur drivers ever to sit behind a Standardbred showed his competition why he was named harness racing's "National Amateur Driver of the year" twice, first in 2004 and then again in 2005. However, in recent seasons he hasn't driven much in the Billings Series, although he has been productive in the Florida Amateur Drivers Association's races as well as competing against European counterparts in various international amateur competitions Just back from an international driving competition in the United Kingdom and in Finland with his Florida Amateur Club, Spriggs' notched his 437th career victory tonight (Saturday evening, August 26) at Tioga Downs when he sat back off speedy early fractions and then came on to pick up all the marbles to win the Billings Trot with his own Perfect Road in a 1:57.3 clocking. "We had the five-hole tonight and since my horse doesn't have real gate speed I headed for the pylons and figured I'd let the race unfold," Spriggs said. "And they were battling up front so we went speedy early fractions and being close,(to the leaders) I waited until we headed down the stretch before I pulled the plugs and when I did Perfect Road was the strong horse and we caught Doc (Scott) Woogen (driving Six Bax) in the final strides to win it." Third place went to War Cry Hall, driven by Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff. The winner, a 5-year-old Holiday Road gelding , trained by Patti Harmon, returned a $10.20 win mutuel. Spriggs was the leading driver in the Florida Amateur Club's Series at Pompano Park earlier this year and he won a few races against European amateurs on their home turf. "This was only my second start in the Billings this year but I plan to race many more times in the series," Spriggs said. Thus far this season Spriggs has driven 13 winners in just 29 starts and is carrying a hefty .532UDR. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to the beautiful facility at the Darke County Fair in Greenville Ohio on Thursday evening (Aug. 24) for a six-horse trot for members in the series Midwestern region and with a cool and collective drive "Lawbook Larry" Farley and his 7-year-old Andover Hall gelding , Ronan, rallied to a 2:01.3 victory over a stubborn The Budster, driven by Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded Oldford sent his veteran trotter to the front and they and took command before the timer flashed-:30.1. The soft early fractions seemed to appeal to Oldford, that was, until Pat "The Wright Stuff" Miller fired alongside him with Keep The Cash and a head-to-head challenge ensued as both The Budster and Miller' charge battled nose to nose by the halfway point in 1:00.2 . They were still one-two as they passed the three quarters in 1:31.2 but lurking right behind the leaders was Ronan and "Lawbook Larry" just biding their time. As the field rounded the final turn Farley and Ronan set sales for paydirt as Oldford kept urging The Budster. But in the deep stretch Ronan wore down The Budster in the final strides to get up for a head triumph in a 2:01.3 clocking. TK's Jelly Belly finished third for Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg. Sent off as the betting favorite, Ronan paid $6.40. Farley also owns the winner who's trained by Steve Boroff. For Larry Farley, a retired attorney and longtime amateur driver who has been an even a longer harness racing enthusiast, it was his 56th career driving victory. Back in the 1990's Farley, along with 15 others throughout the East Coast ventured to Monticello Raceway to compete in the "the Legal Eagle Pace", a race for strictly for drivers who were also lawyers and Farley placed among the top three finishers in the race. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

For the second time in as many months members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) will be traveling to Europe to again compete in an International Friendship Competition this time against their harness racing counterparts from Hungary. Races are slated at Kincsem Park in Budapest in early September. "It's been over 25 years since NAADA has competed in Hungary, which by the way, was the site of the World Cup of Amateur Racing last year," noted NAADA president, Joe Faraldo. "In those races Hannah Miller was the overall point leader until the final day of competition when the Italian amateur finished just one point better than her total. Still, a second place finish among the 12 participating countries was the best showing ever by an American in the prestigious World Cup of Amateur Racing." Although the upcoming races in Budapest can't be compared to the World Cup events still the participants are excited about the competition. Those competing for team USA will be Alan Schwartz (586 career wins), Peter Kleinhans ( 54 wins) Bob Davis (30 wins) and Paul Minore (89 wins) along with team leader, Joe Faraldo (143 wins), who won three races abroad-- including one at Vincennes in Paris-- when the Americans recently competed on European soil in both France and Italy. But the Hungarians will be no pushover. Among their drivers is Andrea Fazekas, one of the top amateurs in Hungary, and for that matter, in all of Europe. (she is pictured here driving her father's Ollyan Nincs winning a Free For All trot at Kincsem Park) Supplying support for Ms. Fazekas in the upcoming Friendship Competition will probably be Andrea Naqyvari, Tamas Bencze, Viktoria Kelemen, Sandor Hegedus, and Tamas Tanczer According to Budapest Trotting Association president Karog Kotun, they have a wonderful facility at Kincsem Park where there are three tracks; one at 1200 meters for the harness races, along with a dirt and turf course for the thoroughbreds. Karoj and his team also have a fine website as does their racetrack Kincsem Park: Action and/or further news can be followed on the following webites www.ugeto.com www.nlkft.hu by John Manzi for NAADA

The ever-traveling CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, now in its second half of the 2017 harness racing season, made a stop at Saratoga Harness on Saturday evening, August 19 and 'homeboy' "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli made short work of the contest when he rallied EJ's Last Dance to a come-from-behind victory over five others in a 1:59 clocking. Ciuffetelli, a former corrections officer, got away slowly from the four-hole and sat back off a torrid early pace with the 5-year-old Conway Hall trotting mare They were sixth and last at the first stanza some eight lengths off the leader, Shez All Muscles in rein to "Buffalo Bob" Davis , as the timer flashed :28. Davis's trotter was still in command at the halfway point in :57.2 as EJ's Last Dance moved up a position, but still seven lengths in the rears. When the field straightened up the backside the second time around "Tough Tony" asked his mare for more and she responded when he moved her three-deep to range alongside the leaders. But from there it was 'Katie bar the door' as EJ's Last Dance rallied to a 1-1/2 victory. With a strong finish in the stretch Windsun Fireball and "Yankee Joe" Lee got up for the place money. And although Billings president, Tony the Capo" Verruso, and Sam's Honeybee had the shortest trip the veteran mare didn't fire in the lane and they had to settle for third place. "I figured that there would be early speed so I wanted to sit back a bit. But there were gaps between the (racing) horses that I didn't figure on so I moved earlier than I had planned," Ciufettelli said via telephone after the race. "And once I got my mare in high gear she caught the leaders and she was the strong horse down the stretch to win it easily." Sent off as the odds-on favorite the winner paid $3.00 for win. EJ's Last Dance is owned and trained by Brett Derue. It was her third seasonal victory. And for Ciufettelli, it marked his sixth seasonal driving victory and the 47th of his amateur career. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

On Saturday evening, August 12 the granddaddy of all amateur organizations, the CKG Billings Harness Racing Driving Series, embarked on the second half of its 36th season with a race in both the mid-western and eastern regions making it one of the few times that a contest in each division went to post at different racetracks just minutes apart. Scioto Downs hosted the mid-western trot which was won by Ned "the Insurance Man" Hodkinson behind Mutinyonthebounty in a 1:57.3 clocking over Columbus, Ohio's five-eighths mile oval .Later that evening at Vernon Downs in New York State David "Poppa" Glasser copped the eastern event with Celebrity Stimulus in a time of 1:56. And strangely, each victory was produced in wire-to-wire fashion. At 6:57pm the wings of the mobile starting gate folded at Scioto Downs and Ned Hodkinson fired his trotter away from post seven and they had command at the quarter in :28.2. With never a serious challenge Hodkinson and Mutinyonthebounty had things their own way and despite the betting favorite, Star Chip and driver Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel, drafting along in the catbirds seat when the field headed for paydirt Mutinyonthebounty hung tough and scored a one-length triumph over Star Chip. Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola took home the show dough with Upfront Chip Daddy. Dismissed by the betting public and sent off at odds of over 11-1 Mutinyonthebounty scored his first seasonal triumph and returned a $25.80 mutuel. Hodkinson , who owns the 8-year-old Mutineer gelding, doubles as the horse's trainer. Meanwhile, at 7:36pm in Vernon, NY David Glasser used the front end for an easy victory with Celebrity Stimulus. After starting from the four-hole Glasser sent his trotter to the lead in a swift :27 first stanza with Dien "the Dream" Spriggs hot on their tails with the betting favorite, Garlandandpearls. The two leaders raced one-two by the half and the three quarters but when Celebrity Stimulus headed for the finish line he drew away and coasted home an easy four-length winner. Garlandandpearls was second best with Peoplesayingimnogood finishing third for Scott "the Driving Doctor" Woogen. The winner,a veteran 7-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall, is owned by Glasser Racing LLC and trained by Homer Hochstetler. He paid $6.00. Next up in Billings action will be in the east region at Saratoga Raceway on Saturday August 19. By John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

It was eight weeks in the making and on Friday, August 5 the top point earners in the harness racing NAADA Summer Trotting Series convened at Yonkers Raceway for the $15,000 series finale and when the judges hung the official sign Toss Cartwright and driver Peter Kleinhans emerged victorious, a length better than Hannah Miller's Pine Tab in a 1:59.1 clocking. Although it was a non-betting race Pine Tab, off two consecutive victories, figured to be the one to beat and Alan Schwartz took that to heart. When the wings of the mobile gate folded Schwartz sent his Lady's Big Stormont for the lead and that move pushed Pine Tab to rebuff the challenge but the :28.1 first stanza took a toll on Pine Tab later in the mile. However, once Schwartz found a spot along the pylons Paul Minore moved Wygant Prince out to keep the pressure on Pine Tab and the two trotters were heads apart at the first half which was trotted in :58.2. They then raced side by side toward the third stanza but Miller's charge refuse to give an inch. Around the final turn the eventual winner was still three lengths behind Pine Tab who had put away Wygant Prince. But in the deep stretch trouble loomed for 'Hurricane Hannah' as the speedy first half began to take toll on Pine Tab and as the veteran tired and his strides shortened at which point Kleinhans saw a chance for victory and got after Toss Cartwright and the Muscles Yankee gelding rallied to a one length triumph over Pine Tab. Wygant Prince held on for the show dough. It was the third seasonal victory for Toss Cartwright who's owned by Colleen Cash and trained by John McDermott. For Kleinhans it marked his third seasonal triumph in just 10 trips to post this season and the 54th of his amateur driving career. by John Manzi for NAADA

It's been a long time between pots for Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel but tonight (July 29) at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park he turned the tables on his harness racing competition and drove impressively when he went down the road with Star Chip and turned back seven others in a 1:58.2 trotted mile. Although the harness racing executive has had only three driving victories since 2009 he was among the top drivers in the Billings Amateur Driving Series where he had won over 100 races prior to devoting the majority of his time to the racing departments at various racetracks in the Midwest. However, to be fair, Keidel hasn't driven many times in recent years (only 32 since 2009) and only does when he can get away from the racing office. Tonight in greater Cleveland, he was a perfect fit behind the Kurt Sugg-trainee and Keidel wasted no time sending his charge to the lead when the gate sprung. And despite nearly half the field stuck on the limb in the early going Keidel got Star Chip by the first panel in a relatively soft 30.1. The 'limbed' horses didn't keep the pressure on Star Chip and Keidel was able to get away with another :30.2 quarter. However, from there it was Katey bar the door as Keidel stepped on the gas and Star Chip trotted away with a :28.4 third panel and then added another .29.1 quarter to coast home a three-length winner over Upfront Chip Daddy and driver "Michelle the Belle" Ruvola which gave the offspring of the veteran stallion Chip Chip Hooray first and second money in the contest. Third place went to Strong Hope ,driven by "Lawbook Larry" Farley. Owned by Rebecca Sugg ,Star Chip won for the fifth time this year and paid $6.20 for win. For "Fast Greggy" it was his 103rd driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

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

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

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