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Still the granddaddy of all amateur harness racing organizations, the CKG Billings Series reached the halfway point in its 2016 Eastern Region season and on Thursday, July 21 the top eight series point-earners convened at Yonkers Raceway to compete in the $14,000 Eastern Region #1 Final. And fittingly, the top point earner in Billings action thus far this year, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, added yet another driving victory to her outstanding resume when she guided Jacks To Open to a 1:58.4 victory. Ms Miller made her victory look easy when she hustled Jacks To Open away from the pole position behind the mobile starting gate and allowed "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli and Star Studded Cast to take command. "I tried to get out of there quickly and when Tony gunned his horse to the lead I felt I would get a good trip following Star Studded Cast," Miller said. Settling in behind Ciuffetelli's trotter Miller followed his lead through comfortable fractions of :28.2 and :58 but a strange thing happened as the field headed up the backside. "Unbelievably, Tony's horse just made a right turn," Miller said. "I guess the horse thought he should be pulling up or something but whatever the reason was it worked on terrific for me." Jacks To Open inherited the lead and it was ballgame. The veteran trotter scooted away to an open lengths lead and at the wire he finished five lengths in front of runner-up, The Franchise, driven by Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff. Third place went to For You Almostfree, driven by "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo.. Ciuffetteli did get Star Studded Cast going the right way after his right turn and they ended up with fourth money. For "Hurricane Hannah" it was her 20th seasonal driving victory and second amateur win of the day after having won a Catskill Amateur Club Pace with Stoman at Monticello Raceway during the afternoon. Jacks To Open is owned by the Nick Surick Stable and Hannah Miller and trained by Nick Surick. The race went as a non-wagering affair prior to the first race on the betting card. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

Amateur harness racing is certainly escalating. On Friday, July 14, the amateurs emulated the pros when a group raced during the afternoon at Monticello Raceway and then traveled to Saratoga Raceway for two Eastern Region Billings trots in the evening. One of the trekkers ,Tony "the Capo" Verruso, the president of the Billings Series , won his contest at Saratoga when he guided Gaelic And Garlic to a 1:58.1 triumph after he finished third in a NAADA Trot at Monticello earlier in the day. The other split went to "Bay State Bob" Kenney when he rallied Rev Up The Spice to a 1:59.2 triumph. In his division Verruso was sent off at odds of 9-2 and found the two-hole with Gaelic And Garlic as he neared the first quarter which was stepped in :28.3. Following the cover provided by Winwood Stout and James "Jimmy Boy" Marshall IV, Verruso sat chilly when "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli pulled Aventure first-up as the field headed to the halfway point. Verruso bided his time and in the lane he rallied his trotter to a one length victory over Marshall's charge. Aventure hung on for the show dough. "After I fell in behind Marshall I had a picture perfect trip from there," Verruso related. "He (Gaelic And Garlic) responded well in the stretch when he saw daylight. He's is a real nice horse and a pleasure to drive." Owned by Bernie White and the Kristie Leigh Farm and trained by Melissa Beckwith, Gaelic and Garlic, a career winner of more than $373,000, paid $11.20 for win. It was the Capo's fourth seasonal driving victory and 64th since he began amateur racing in 1999. In the other split Kenney gave his trotter a similar journey falling into the two- hole and then stalking the leader, Trotalot and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff, until the deep stretch and then rallying to victory. Lisa Jane finished third for Simeon "Hot Rod" Hunsdon. It was Kenney's second consecutive victory with Rev Up The Spice having won a Billings trot at the Afton,(NY) Fair last Friday. The winner is owned by Di Stefano & Son Stable and trained by John Di Stefano. Sent off at odds of over 14-1 Rev it Up Spice returned a $30.40 win mutuel. For Kenney it was his fifth driving victory in just 12 seasonal starts this year. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series

MONTICELLO, NY - For the past five weeks at Monticello Raceway Thursdays have featured races driven by amateur drivers. And July 14th was no exception. Two trots in the NAADA Series were carded as well as a pace in the Catskill Club's Amateur Series. When it was all over Alan Schwartz and Peter Kleinhans were each victorious in their respective NAADA splits while "Hurricane Hannah" Miller copped the Catskill Club's pace. Schwartz led the NAADA brigade winning his division with Lady's Big Stormont in an eye-opening 1:57.2 over Bob Hechkoff's The Franchise. When the wings of the mobile gate folded Schwartz gunned his recent purchase to the lead and took no prisoners. Lady's Big Stormont, whom Schwartz claimed last week for $12,500, zipped by the first stanza in a stiff :28. Still comfortably in hand they were two lengths in front as they trotted by the half in :57.3. Although Bob Hechkoff and The Franchise enjoyed a two-hole journey they were outclassed when the field turned for home as Schwartz's charge drew off to a two length victory. Third place went to Woody, driven by Joe Lee. "I just claimed him here last week and he sure has a lot of trot, but he's a handful. He grabs on when jogging and is tough behind the gate and when scoring down he's on the muscle but he's got a big engine," Schwartz said referring to Lady's Big Stormont. "So I'll have to put up with his ways." Trained by Raheim Strong, Lady's Big Stormont scored his sixth seasonal triumph and paid $4.30 for win. The next NAADA trot on the Thursday card saw Peter Kleinhans send Toss Cartwright to the lead in after the half and then jog away to 9-length triumph over Typical New Yorker and driver Alan Schwartz. Kleinhans and Toss Cartwright didn't see the pylons until they wrested the lead from Tony Verruso and Up Front N Crazy as the two trotters passed the halfway point. Then surprisingly, even to Kleinhans, his trotter began to open daylight on the field and they cruised home an oh-so-easy winner over Typical Newyorker. Up Front N Crazy took home the show dough for Tony Verruso. "When we passed the half in :57.4 I thought he'd (Toss Cartwright) be tired but I was I pleasantly surprised to see us run away with the race," Kleinhans said. "This is my girlfriend's horse and I wish she could have been here today to see him win today." Owned by Collene Cash and trained by John McDermott, Toss Cartwright paid $4.80 for win. Amateur racing's current leading driver, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, scored her 18th seasonal victory when she guided Stoman to a wire to wire triumph in a 1:56.1 clocked mile in the Catskill Club's pace. But victory didn't come easy. When the starter said go Miller sent Stoman to the front from the pole position but she had pressing company from Late Night Flight and driver Monica Banca. Their horses raced head to head past the quarter pole in a swift :27.2, that was until Miller opened a hole behind her for Banca's pacer to fall into, which Monica did. But by then Ms. Miller had little hope of giving Stoman a breather and they traveled by the half in :56.2. "I was quite concerned with the fast early fractions but I didn't want to get in behind Monica's horse," Miller said after the race. " The :56-half had me concerned even though I had a snug hold on him (Stoman) right from the start. Still they were fast fractions." As the field headed for the third stanza Stoman had opened up a three-length lead on the field. Barry Addison and KB's Bad Boy--last week's winner in this event--began a charge at the leader but it was too little, too late and they had to settle for second money. Shark Treasure rallied from far back to finish third for Gerry Fielding. Stoman, a 10-year-old Market Report gelding is owned by Jason MacDougall and trained by John Hallett, He paid $4.20 for win. After the amateur races at the Mighty M were contested, Miller and a contingent of others hit the road to Saratoga Raceway--2-1/2 hour ride-- for two Billings trots carded late on the Saratoga Harness race card. by John Manzi for the NAADA and Catskill Amateur Club  

If you think amateur harness racing isn't an integral part of the sport don't tell Monticello Raceway's director of racing Eric Warner because he just won't believe you. On Friday afternoon, July 6 Warner carded six betting races for amateur drivers; two in the CKG Billings Series, two in the NAADA Trotting Series; and two in the Catskill Amateur Club's Series. Many of the participants are members of all three organizations. "The amateur races truly help us fill our betting cards and the fans wager on them with confidence," Warner said. "More than half our Friday card was for amateur drivers" In what started out as a pleasant afternoon weather-wise Mother Nature turned the tables when half-way through the racing program the skies opened up and rain made the enjoyment of driving more than a bit unbearable. But the amateurs persevered through the extreme weather conditions and responded as professional drivers would have. Not surprisingly, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller was the star of the day. The talented miss drove two winners and had three seconds in five drives. Other winners included "Smokin' Joe Faraldo, Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff; "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli and "Boppin' Barry" Addison won his first pari-mutuel race. Bob Hechoff won the first Billings contest when he guided The Franchise to a wire to wire 1:58.2 victory over Hannah Miller and Jacks To Open. "The inside post (pylon position) helped but once I got him through the first turn I knew he'd be good from there," Hechkoff said after his victory. "He's a real horse." Owned by RBH Ventures and Spagnola Racing The Franchise paid $7.20 for win The second Billings trot went to For You Almostfree and driver by Joe Faraldo in a 2:00 clocking despite being parked out for the entire mile. They collared pacesetter Shanghai Jack and Hannah Miller in the final strides to score a head triumph. "When I saw Hannah go to the whip in the stretch I knew her horse was in trouble," Faraldo said. "I urged "Almostfree" a bit and he just kept grinding and we collared her at the wire. He's a classy old-timer." The veteran Glidemaster 8-year-old stallion, a lifetime winner of almost $480,000, is owned by Faraldo, Wittstruck and Tietel and trained by Richard Banca. He paid $8.30 for win. Hannah Miller's first triumph was with pacer Tijuana Party in a 1:58.2 clocking in a Catskill Amateur Series event. In that one Hannah left softly from the four-hole as Late Nite Flight (Monica Banca) and Shark Treasure (Alan Schwartz) locked horns in a :27.2 first quarter. After Schwartz settled in along the pylons Ms Miller sent her charge to the front as the field passed the halfway point. From there it was all Hannah and Tijuana Party as they rambled to a three-length victory over Late Nite Flight. "He (Tijuana Taxi) is a real pleasure to sit behind. He's got quick speed and can leave like a rabbit.And you can drive him with two fingers", Miller said. It was the third consecutive victory for Miller and Tijuana Party who paid $2.90 for win. Hannah co-owns with trainer Nick Surick. Hannah's other victory was in a NAADA Trot behind Scottish Cross in a pounding rainstorm. Starting from the far outside they went wire to wire in a 2:01.2 clocking holding off a late charge by Tony Ciuffetelli and Mack's Gold Band. Owned by Allard racing and trained by Rene Allard, Scottish Cross paid $3.70 for win. However, the veteran 11 year old Angus Hall mare was claimed for $18,000 by Howard Taylor. Tony Cuiffetelli won a NAADA trot with the veteran 12-year-old Tagmaster in 2:02.4 as the rain continued fall relentlessly. They got to the front easily and were chased the entire mile by Hannah Miller and Lou Lous Princess. But Tagmaster was up to the challenge and finished a one length winner over Lou Lous Princess. Ciuffetelli owns and trains the winner who paid $11.20 for win. The last amateur race on the card will always be a memorable one for Barry Addison who drove KB's Bad Boy to a 1:58.4 triumph over McCabe Hall and Tony Ciuffetelli. It was Addison's first lifetime victory. "I had the pole and I let Monica (Banca with Allamerican Dice) go and then retook," Addison said. "Once on top again "KB's" was comfortable and pretty much cruised to victory. It's always special when do something for the first time and I don't think I'll ever forget this, my first win." Sent off at odds of 5-2 the KB's Bad Boy returned a $7.20 mutuel. by John Manzi for the Billings, NAADA and Catskill Amateur Series

"Lawbook Larry" Farley, a recently retired attorney from Toledo, Ohio, scored his first driving victory in this season's CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series on Wednesday night, July 6, when he guided Patient I D to a 2:00.1 wire to wire triumph in a Midwest region trot at Northfield Park. A veteran of over three decades of amateur driving Farley, like many others in amateur racing, also owns his stock and employs a professional trainer when he was doing due-diligence in his chosen profession. In the Billings trot tonight at Northfield Park Farley took advantage of starting from the pole position and gunned his trotter to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded. "It appeared that a few others were good on the front-end so I wanted to leave and make sure I had a good position as we headed to the first quarter," Farley said by telephone after the race. "We got a good assist when Heza Rube (the odds-on favorite) made a break as we headed to the quarter." Still Farley and Patient ID didn't have a cakewalk of it when the favorite went off stride. Celtic Merchant and Steve "You're Never too" Oldford supplied relentless pressure from the get-go but Patient ID was up to the test and although she needed to trot to a :58.3 half to keep all comers at bay, the veteran 4-year old Band's Gold Chip mare hung tough along the pylons turning back a multitude of challenges. As the field rounded the clubhouse turn and headed for the three quarters the parked-out trotters began looking for positions along the pylons as Patient ID kept going forward. "I got a bit concerned on the last turn because my mare wasn't strong on the bit," Farley said."As we headed for home I was closely watching Ned (Hodkinson with Mutinyonthebounty) who was making a move at me on the outside and I hardly noticed Tim Miller (with Vaya Con Dios) charging on the far outside as we headed for the finish line. Luckily Tim's horse ran out of racetrack and my mare was a one-length winner over Tim's." Although Patient ID had three previous seasonal victories this was the first time Farley drove her to victory. "She's a nice mare, good gaited, and a pleasure to drive," Farley said referring to Patient ID. "She's a real sweetheart." Farley owns Patient ID who paid $19.20 for win. She's trained by Calvin Holler.For Farley it was his 54th amateur driving victory. Next Billings action will be in the eastern region at Monticello Raceway on Friday afternoon, July 8. By john manzi for the CKG Billings Series

Once again Monticello Raceway afforded three races today--Thursday, June 30 -- for the burgeoning amateur movement which has been helpful to the race secretaries in their quest to present full race cards. Two amateur contests were in the North American Amateur Drivers Association's spring trotting series; the first won by Tony Ciuffetelli with Aventure in a swift 1:57.3 while the other went to Typical Newyorker and driver Alan Schwartz in a 2:00.2 clocking. The third, a pace in the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club series, saw Hannah Miller guide Tijuana Party to a gutsy 1:57.1 clocking. In his NAADA series contest Ciuffetelli left hard from the two hole with Aventure and when he saw Hannah Miller charging to the lead from the seven-hole with the odds-on favorite Scottish Cross, he allowed her to take command in a :28.2 first quarter. From there he was content to let the lady and her trotter cut he fractions. "I knew if I let Hannah go I'd get a good two-hole trip,"Ciuffetteli said after the race. "I followed her all the way until the stretch and then I moved my horse out and he trotted right by her and won going away." At the wire Aventure was a two-length winner. Scottish Cross easily held on for second money while Toss Cartwright rallied to be third for Peter Kleinhans. Ciuffettelli, a retired corrections officer, also owns and trains Aventure. The 5-year-old Muscle Mass gelding paid $6.90 for win. In the other NAADA trot Alan Schwartz sent Typical Newyorker to the lead from the pole position and they remained unchallenged until Hannah Miller moved Lou Lous Princess first -up as the field approached the halfway point. "I knew Hannah was coming but her horse was hanging (on the limb) as we raced past the three quarters and I could see she wasn't going to even get alongside me," Schwartz said. "When we straightened for home my horse opened up a couple of lengths and he was strong all the way to the wire." Typical Newyorker was a solid one length winner over Paul Minore's Wygant Prince. Third place went to Blazin Delores, driven by Dein Spriggs. Lou Lous Princess faded and finished fourth. With his victory Typical Newyorker raised his lifetime earnings to nearly $252,000. The veteran Conway Hall gelding is owned by Michelle Hallet, Michelle Oglesby and Roger Doire and trained by John Hallett. He paid $13.00 for win. Alan Schwartz, a former National Amateur Driver of the Year, notched his 569th career driving victory and he continues to be the winningest amateur driver competing today. Sandwiched between the NAADA trots on the 14-race card the Catskill Club pace was won for the second consecutive week by Tijuana Party. Hannah Miller was again in the sulky and although she struggled to take command in a :27.2 first quarter, once Tijuana Party was on the lead he never relinquished it. Hannah and her charge stepped by the halfway point in :56.2 and at that point Ms Miller had second thoughts. "When I saw the timer flash :56.2 I figured I was in trouble, "Hannah said. "But my horse was gritty and to my pleasure he just kept going forward. He was even strong in the stretch and held off Dein Spriggs' pacer (Stoman) who had a two-trip." Tijuana Party was a two-length winner over Stoman. J Wanda took home the show dough for Bob Davis. Sent off the odds-on favorite Tijuana Party lived up to his billing and returned a $3.80 win mutuel. The pacer is co-owned by her driver and her trainer, Nick Surick. For "Hurricane Hannah" it was her 14th winning drive thus far this season. Last year she won 32 races and was named National Amateur Driver of the Year. Her exploits last season also earned her the Harness Racing Museum's Amateur Driver of the Year and with that honor she will drive against six Hall of Famers in the Hall of Fame Trot at Goshen Historic Track on Sunday afternoon, July 3. ""It's a real big honor and I'm so excited to be able to drive against the Hall of Famers," Miller said. by John Manzi, for NAADA

Bob Davis enjoyed his best day ever competing in harness racing amateur races when he won both Billings Series races at Buffalo Raceway on Sunday, June 26. Davis won the first event - a pace--with Goddess's Justin in a time of 1:59.4 and came back cop the second Billings race- a trot--with Christina Victory in 2:03.2. When this seasons Billings Series began Bob Davis carried the moniker of "Bullet Bob", but since he won both Billings contests at Buffalo Raceway he'll now be known as "Buffalo Bob" Davis. And according to Davis himself, in five races that he's had over the Erie County double-oval he has won four times, certainly enough to encourage a change his nickname. For a sportsman who travels far distances just for the opportunity to drive competitively in one, or two, races some might wonder why Davis does this since he receives no remuneration. "I do it because I love the sporting aspect of amateur driving", "Buffalo Bob" said. "After all, in what sport do you know where amateurs can compete on the same level as the professionals? So what if we don't get paid for our services, it's the sport of the completion that's the driving force" It took Davis nine hours overall to go to Buffalo for the two races and then return home to Saratoga. "That's nothing" Davis said. "Last year I drove 14 hours round-trip to race at on Prince Edward at Charlottetown (Driving Park)," But it was days like he had yesterday in Buffalo that supplies the impetus. In his first outing Davis was up behind 7-5 favorite Goddess's Justin, an 11 year old altered son of Western Hanover. When the gate sprung Davis sent his charge to the lead from the three-hole and they got away with relatively slow early fractions. Goddess's Justin passed the first stanza in a soft :30.2 and remained unchallenged past the three quarters which was clocked in 1:30.3 But by then it was too late for the competition as Davis' pacer kicked in a :28.2 final quarter which turned out to be enough to hold off Hawaiian Joe and driver Richard "the Wolverine" Roach, who enjoyed two-hole journey the entire way. At the wire heads separated the first two finishers while eight lengths in the rears in third place was Ahead Of The Crowd, driven by Nadine 'the Outrider" Habke. Goddess's Justin is owned by Spalluto, Spalluto, and Dylo and trained by Mihajlo Zdjelar. He paid $5.30 for win. In the second Billings race Davis employed a come-from-behind strategy. After starting from post six Davis found a spot along the pylons in fourth positions as the field trotted by the quarter in :30.1. Content to follow the leaders until the field approached the third stanza Davis then moved out to challenge and Christina Victory was second over as they passed the three quarters. In the lane the 11 year old altered son of Victory Sam trotted on to a length victory over Armbro Casino, driven by Richard Roach. And yes it was odd that the same two drivers finished one-two in each Billings race on Sunday. Fashionableapple was third for Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. Christina Victory is owned by Tessa Roland and trained by J D Perrin. Backers of the winner each received $3.50 for each two-dollar ticket. By John Manzi for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

In harness racing there's such a thing known as a good trip; or sometimes referred to as a perfect journey. It is this that can be a great equalizer and the result of getting a good journey can be victory often despite the horses odds when the race starts. Case in point: T K's Jelly Belly who was sent off at odds of 44-1 in the Midwest region Billings trot tonight (Friday) at Scioto Downs and came away with a upset triumph. A horse that starts from the pole position usually deserves watching because they already have a position along the pylons. For some reason T K's Jelly Belly got no respect in the 10-horse field but it was his driver, Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg who laughed last. And for that matter so did those who wagered on him when they received a $91.00 mutuel payoff. When the gate sprung Ehrenberg, a veteran of many Billings wars and a prominent Ohio owner, send his trotter away and held the pylon position and allowed Ned "the Insurance Guy" Hodkinson and Mutinyonthebounty to take command and in the process shut out Celtic Merchant and driver Steve "You're Never too" Oldford who was looking for a hole. Hodkinson kept the pedal to the medal and sent his trotter through speedy early fractions mostly caused by Oldford's parked out horse. After a :28.2 first quarter they passed the halfway point in in :57.3 with Ehrenberg and T K's Jelly Belly tucked in tightly behind the leader. Mutinyonthebounty and T K's Jelly Belly were one-two and lengths in front of the field as the three quarter timer flashed 1:27.4. In the lane Ehrenberg and T K's Jelly Belly rallied to a head triumph over Mutinyonthebounty in a 1:58.1 clocking. Third place, some three lengths in the rears, was Patient I D driven by "Lawbook Larry" Farley. It was the second win for the 4-year-old daughter of Victory Sam who's owned and trained by Terry Milhoan. Across the board payoffs were $91.00- $36.00 and $11.20. The 1-5 exacta paid $1349.80. Next Billings action will be at Goshen Historic on Saturday, July 2. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

The second legs of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) and the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club (CADC) 10-week series were contested on Thursday, June 23 at Monticello Raceway and upon the completion of the afternoon card NAADA winners included Alan Schwartz and Dein Spriggs while Hannah Miller copped the CADC pace. Schwartz won with Armstead Kyra in 2:00.3 while Spriggs was victorious with Saint Patty's Doll in 2:00.2. "Hurricane Hannah" romped by over three lengths with Tijuana Party in 1:58.4. In their contest Schwartz and Armstead Kyra's biggest challenge was how to handle Bob Hechkoff's recent purchase Photosavvy whose prowess in his previous races impressed the bettors enough to send them away at odds of even money. However, on the first turn Photosavvy made a break which allowed Schwartz's charge to cruise along unchallenged on the front end. They traveled through fractions of :30; 1:00.2 and 1:30.2 and then held off a late charge from Hannah Miller and Lou Lous Princess to hold on for a head victory in 2:00.2. Joe Lee took home the show dough with Woody. "This was the first time I drove her (Armstead Kyra) and I was real careful with her leaving out of there. The last time she had the pole she made a break at the start so I didn't want that to happen with me today," Schwartz said after his driving victory. As the field rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt in that event Lou Lous Princess, who had a two-hole trip, mounted a late rally. "In the lane I knew Hannah's horse was gaining on mine and I was certainly glad when the wire came up," Schwartz added. Armbro Kyra, owned by Brenda Messenger and Dr. Scott Woogen and trained by Gary Messenger, paid $10.40 for win. A second NAADA split went to Dein Spriggs, former two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year. Up from Florida to drive Saint Patty's Doll, Spriggs made the trip worthwhile when he reined the 7-year old daughter of Conway Hall to a 2:00.2 victory over Aventure and driver Tony Ciuffetelli. A stalwart in the Florida Amateur Drivers Association, this was the fourth time Spriggs sat behind Saint Patty's Doll and the second time he was victorious. He also has had two seconds among those four outings. In the NAADA trot today Spriggs gunned Saint Patty's Doll to the lead from the four-hole and took command at the quarter in :29.3. Once on top he made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:00.2 clocking while he kept a hard charging Aventure and driver Tony Ciuffetelli at bay. Blazin Delores finished third for Hannah Miller. "Besides having a drive with Saint Patty's Doll today I'll stay tomorrow (Friday) to drive in the GSY Amateur Series at the Meadowlands," Spriggs related. Owned by Karma Racing and trained by Patti Harmon, Saint Patty's Doll returned a $3.80 win mutuel. The last of the three amateur races saw Hannah Miller continue her prowess when she guided Tijuana Party to an oh-so-easy 1:58. 4 victory In the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club Series. Sent off as the 8-5 favorite from post two Miller quickly gained command and led the field by the first stanza in a swift :28.4. From there she toyed with her competition and was never in any trouble. And when Tijuana Party rounded the final turn he began to draw off and coasted home an easy three-length winner over McCabe Hall and driver Tony Ciuffetelli. Third place went to Shark Treasure driven by Gerry Fielding. "He's a pleasure to drive and he was real good today," Miller said referring to Tijuana Party. "He's got quick speed away from the (starting) gate and he's was strong at the end of the mile, too." Hannah co-owns the winner with Nick Surick who doubles as the horse's trainer. Tijuana Party paid $5.50 for win. For "Hurricane Hannah" it was her 13th driving victory already this year. John Manzi for NAADA and CADC

Since its rebirth in the early 1980's amateur driving has become a more integral part of the harness racing scene with each passing year and currently the sporting set help to fill race cards at many venues. On Friday night, June 17, harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billing Amateur Driving Series, moved on to the Meadowlands where they provided two trotting events in eastern region action and when the contests were finalized, James "Jimmy Boy" Marshall IV and "Yankee Joe" Lee each emerged victorious in their respective divisions. Marshall won his split with I C Caviar in 1:54.4 while Lee romped home an easy winner with Captain Primeau, also in a 1:54.4 clocking. In his contest Marshall was content to leave softly with I C Cavair and watch Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff gun Keystone Thomas to the lead in a :27.2 first quarter. But as the field approached the halfway point Marshall, sitting in fourth position behind the 3-5 favorite, moved I C Caviar, out to challenge and they trotted to the lead and played catch me if you can; and nobody could as I C Caviar coasted home a two-length winner over Keystone Thomas. Two lengths farther back was third place finisher Rocket Master, driven by the New York Yankees locker room manager, Joe Lee. It was the third seasonal victory for I C Caviar who's trained by Joe Hanney. The 5 year-old altered son of Malabar Millenium returned a $3.20 win mutuel. For Marshall, a fourth generation horsemen it was his fifth seasonal driving victory. Speaking of "Yankee Joe" Lee, in the second Billings trot he took advantage of cover in the early going and then burst to the lead up the backside and made a laugher out of it when his charge, Captain Primeau, cruised home a 4-1/2 length winner over Saint Patty's Doll and driver Dein "the Dream" Spriggs. "Jimmy Boy" Marshall took home the show dough with Doc Simon's Dream in that contest. Captain Primeau, a veteran 12 year old gelding by Enjoy Lavec, co-owned by Conny Svensson and Anneli Svensson, and trained by Conny Svensson, paid $15.80 for win. It was the fourth seasonal driving victory for "Yankee Joe". Next up for the Billings amateurs is a mid-west region contest at Scioto Downs on Friday, June 24. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series

The North American Amateur Drivers Association's 10-week trotting series kicked-off Thursday (June18) at the Mighty M with two divisions on the 11 race harness racing card. Hannah Miller copped the first with Lou Lous Princess while Bob Hechkoff won the second with No Recess. Also on the program was a Catskill Amateur Club pace which went to Dirty Devil, driven by Steve Oldford. Hannah Miller, last year's National Amateur Driver of the Year, continued on her winning ways when she guided Lou Lous Princess to a head victory in a 2:01.3 clocking in the first NAADA split. With the field heading to the halfway point Miller moved Lou Lous Princess first-up in front of Samsawinner and driver Joe Lee who was looking for cover and the two continued on an overland trip. "I moved in front of Joe's horse as we headed to the half and although the pace was slow I wondered if that was the best move," Miller said. "Up the backside we were head and head with the leader (Swift Blizzard) and I figured if we could clear before the turn we'd be OK. And we did. In the stretch my mare was real game and fought off all challenges to win it." John Kokinos used the passing lane to rally for second money with Cassa's Image. Samsawinner took home the show dough. Owned and trained by Hannah's dad, Erv Mller, Lou Lous Princess paid $4.90 for win. In the other NAADA trot Bob Hechkoff drove No Recess like the 1-2 shot he was on the tote board. They took no prisoners and they made every pole a winning one en route to a 1:59.2 triumph despite losing his whip in the lane. They turned back Tony Ciuffetelli's, Aventure. "He's a nice horse," Hechkoff said in the paddock after his driving victory. "He's so versatile and now he's getting back to last year's form when he won nine races and over $46,000." Third place in that trotting contest went to Fox Valley Steffen in rein to John Kokinos. Sent off as the odds-on favorite No Recess returned a $2.80 win mutuel. He's owned by Kyle Spagnola and Hechkoff's RBH Ventures. Spagnola doubles as the horse's trainer. As if amateur racing wasn't competitive enough as an added bonus in their current 10-3eek trotting, the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) is offering an all-inclusive paid trip to race in New Zealand later this year. The lucky finalist will be drawn from the top three point earners in the series. Also on the Thursday card was a Catskill Amateur Club pace which saw Steve Oldford rally Dirty Devil to a come-from behind victory over the pace-setter, Shark Treasure, driven by Gerry Fielding. "He's a big guy and we just bought him last week,"Oldford said referring to Dirty Devil. "Today as we headed for home there were five of us across the track and although I thought we had a good chance of winning it I wasn't sure especially since he (Dirty Devil) was 0 for 16 this year." Off the schnied and now one for 17 this season, Dirty Devil is owned by Oldford Racing LLC. He paid $9.90 for win. The NAADA Trotting Series will continue on Thursdays at Monticello Raceway by John Manzi for NAADA & Catskill Amateur Club

"Tiny Tim" Miller is a happy man tonight. And why shouldn't he be? After all he guided longshot Vaya Con Dios to a stunning 1:57.2 victory in the harness racing Midwest region CKG Billings Trot at Northfield Park on the ides of June. What made Miller's win most impressive what the fact that his trotter was sent off at odds of 23-1 and was six-length winner over favored Heza Rube driven by Bob "the Lumberman" Troyer. And add that it was "Tiny Tim's" first time ever sitting behind the 6 year old altered son of Conway Hall. Taking advantage of starting along the pylons from post position nine, Miller got away in good shape following T K's Jelly Belly ( Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg) who parked Celtic Merchant and Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford before yielding command before the first quarter timer flashed :28.2. After Oldford's veteran trotter cleared he led the way to the half-way point in :58.2 with the odds-on betting favorite, Heza Rube, shuffled back after having started from post six in the nine-horse field. As the field headed into the clubhouse turn Troyer set Heza Rube in motion and began his way toward the leaders. However, Celtic Merchant still got first call as he passed the third stanza in1:28 with Vaya Con Dios in hot pursuit on the outside just a neck behind the pace-setter. At that point Heza Rube was in fifth position. When the trotters rounded the final turn Vaya Con Dios trotted to the lead and had three lengths on his competition as they straightened for home. Celtic Merchant tired and although Heza Rube rallied still Miller's trotter was lengths in front and was home free. At the finish, Vaya Con Dios was an easy six-length winner over Heza Rube who finished neck ahead of Celtic Merchant. Vaya Con Dios, owned by J M F Racing and trained by J D Wengerd, paid a whopping $48.60 for win. It was the first seasonal driving victory for the Wilmot, Ohio native and the 36th since Miller began amateur driving in 2001. Next Billings action will be in the eastern region on Friday night (June 17) at the Meadowlands where two Billings trots dot the 11-race betting card there. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series  

Saturday, June 11, was Ladies Night at Tioga Downs in the CKG Billings Amateur Driving series when the ladies finished one-two in the $6000 trotting event, Monica "the Norwegian Flash" Banca won the contest with Brandos Muscle Man and "Hurricane Hannah" Miller was the runner-up with Shanghai Jack in the 1:57.1 trotted mile. "It was so much fun" Banca related after her three- length triumph. "We claimed him (Brandos Muscle Man) at Yonkers (Raceway) a while back but this was the first time I had the pleasure of driving him. He's such a classy old guy and the best horse I have ever driven." And drive him she did. When the wings of the gate folded Banca sent her charge to the lead from the five- hole and they gained command in the 28-second first quarter with "Hurricane Hannah" and Shanghai Jack tucked in neatly in the two-hole as they passed that stanza. From there, the ladies traveled one-two around the Tioga Downs five-eighths mile oval with Brandos Muscle Man showing the way and Shanghai Jack tight on Banca's back. But as the leaders straightened for home Banca's trotter opened daylight on her immediate challenger and drew off to a three-length victory. "I thought it was kind of strange that we were sent off as the 1-9 favorite when we weren't even the morning line favorite in the race," Banca related. "But my horse was so good that all I had to do was sit still and he did the rest. Brandos Muscle Man is such a classy old veteran that my 14-year old son sat up behind him and trained him last week." After finishing second "Hurricane Hannah" Miller told Banca that she wished the ladies could be one-two every week. Third place in the Saturday night Billings contest went to Buck ID driven by John J "Jersey Boy" Turok. Banca co-owns the Brandos Muscle Man with the Rock And Roll Stable. He's trained by Rick Dane, Jr. and the veteran trotter paid just $2.30 for win. For the former Norwegian miss it was her third seasonal triumph and 14th since she started driving in the U.S. in 2013. John Manzi

His participation in the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series has been diminished in recent years but when Bob "the Lumberman" Troyer jumps up behind a trotter he produces great results. Take, for instance, last night's Billings trot at Scioto Downs in the mid-west region harness racing action. Troyer once again guided Heza Rube to a come-from-behind victory this time in a 1:57.4 clocking. For the lumber broker it was his third winning drive in four seasonal starts and over the last three years Troyer has eight victories in just 14 trips to post. "I got away slowly and was sixth at the quarter and still sixth at the half. And when (Steve) Oldford moved Celtic Merchant out to challenge the leader up the backside I did the same and followed him and as we headed for home I wasn't sure my horse could beat the old guy," Troyer said referring to 13-year-old Celtic Merchant. It was close at the finish but (Heza) Rube got up in time to win it." Not disappointed, Oldford took the defeat in stride. "After Celtic made the front I heard a horse coming fast on the outside and I didn't need to look, I knew it was Troyer," Oldford said. "In the lane my old guy couldn't hold off Heza Rube but if he'd been four years younger the results would have been different." The swift early fractions set by Nordic Venture and driver Gary "Soups" Campbell set the stage for the closers in the race. And charge they did but at the finish Heza Rube was a neck better than Celtic Merchant. However, five other trotters in the rears raced side-by-side through the lane and it took photos to separate them at the wire. When the judges deciphered the pictures third place went to Speed Hanover, driven by "Lawbook Larry" Farley. Heza Rube, a 6-year-old Master Lavec gelding is owned by Debra Kvernmo and trained by Marty Wollam. Sent off as the odds-on favorite the winner paid $3.80 for win. Coincidently, the first three drivers under the wire ( Troyer, Oldford and Farley) had come down from Delaware (Ohio) where they were luncheon speakers at at the USTA Driving School. And with them came over 30 of their students and according to Oldford, some wagered on them in the trifecta and those who did were rewarded with an $81.40 payoff. Next Billings action is slated for Saturday, June 11th at Tioga Downs. by John Manzi for the Billings Series  

The Grand Circuit of amateur harness racing, also known as the CKG Billings Series, moved on to Monticello Raceway on Thursday, June 2 and when the director of racing secretary, Eric Warner, opened the entry box for that day he was pleasantly surprised to find 20 entries in the Billings Trot which would allow him to be able to card three good trotting events in eastern region action for Thursday and with them Monticello Raceway was able to offer 11 betting contests on the card that day. "Hurricane Hannah" Miller won the first Billings trot with Blazin Delores in 2:00 while "Yankee Joe" Lee was triumphant with Woody in 2:01.3 in another. James Jimmy Boy" Marshall IV scored in 1:58.4 with KLM Express in yet another. In her event Ms. Miller scored her 11th driving victory thus far this season and explained her victorious journey via email. " Blazin Delores raced great," the talented miss said at days end. "She was able to leave and get a trip while Dein Spriggs (with St Patty's Doll) and Bob Davis (with Swift Blizzard) battled it out for the front. I waited for the passing lane and got up in time." St. Patty's Doll was second, beaten by just a head in a tight photo. Swift Blizzard photoed-out "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo's, For You Almostfree for third money. Owned and trained by Laurie Molnar Blazin Delores paid $14.80 for win. In the third Billings event "Hurricane Hannah: was up behind the favorite, Jacks To Open but racing luck was not in her favor. "Jack had a tougher trip in the last Billings race but I was able to work my way into the two hole before the half," she explained. "He still raced good and held on for second." The victory in that contest went to "Jimmy Boy" Marshall (IV) when he guided his uncle's KLM Express to a gate to wire triumph in a solid 1:58.4 over the Mighty M's double oval. Miller's, Jacks To Open, was second just 1-1/4 lengths behind the winner despite being parked to the half. .Dave "the Rave" Offenberg took home the show dough with Bluebird Kidsqueen. The race winner, KLM Express, is owned by "Jimmy Boy's" uncle Richard Aiken and trained by his grandfather Bill Aiken. The trotter returned a $7.60 win mutuel. In the other Billings event Joe Lee, the New York Yankee's locker room manager, returned to the winners circle again when he reined Woody to a come-from-behind one length victory over Ladys Big Stormont and driver Dein "the Dream" Spriggs in a 2:01.3 clocking. Third in that mile was Magglio, driven by Allen "Bo Bo" Sisco. After the races were completed Lee expressed pleasure from his driving victory. "In today's fifth race there were a bunch of breaking horses so I decided to leave with Woody, which doesn't happen often, and we ended-up in the two hole as Dein Spriggs took command with Ladys Big Stormont. "At the half Allen Sisco came out from third with Magglio and pressed Spriggs' trotter the rest of the way. I waited until the passing lane and slid up the rail (plyons) to win by half a length and paid $44.00 as the longest shot on the board. Woody was great today in the turns and had plenty of trot in the lane. Woody, a 6-year old altered son of Glidemaster, is owned by Woody Hoblitzell and trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr. Billings action continues Friday night (June 3) with a Midwest region trot at Scioto Downs. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series  

Look out boys the girls now have to be reckoned with in the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series. For the second time in consecutive days a gal has emerged victorious. On Wednesday night at Northfield Park, Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola scored an impressive harness racing victory and last night, May 26, at Yonkers Raceway "Hurricane Hannah" Miller won her Billings division. And in a second split where there was no female participant with a mount, "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli cruised to victory. It's no secret that the ladies are making inroads with more of gentler sex participating but especially with the emergence of Hannah Miller. Last year she won 32 races and walked away with the Dan Patch Trophy as National Amateur Driver of the Year and again this season the talented miss is picking up where she left off. Her victory last night was her 10th already this season. According to boyfriend Nick Surick, three different trainers wanted Hannah to drive their horse in the Billings at Yonkers on Thursday. So after doing some homework Hannah decided to pick Scottish Cross, a veteran trotter from the Rene Allard barn. "He's a really nice horse and he was easy to handle," Miller said of her first time behind Scottish Cross. They left hard from the two-hole and had command in a :28.2 first quarter. "Once the field settled I was looking for a breather (for my horse) and we got to the half in :59.2. From there we opened daylight on the field and we were three (lengths) in front coming off the final turn. I still had plenty of horse when we crossed the finish line." Scottish Cross traversed the mile distance in 1:59.1 and defeated Celebrity Stimulus driven by David "the Litigator" Glasser by 2-1/4 lengths. Third, some six lengths behind the winner, was Bullet Bob" Davis with Swift Blizzard. The winner is owned by Allard Racing Inc. In the second division Tony Ciuffettelli took no prisoners when he sent Star Studded Cast to the lead from the seven-hole and they were on top before the turn. They trotted by the first stanza in :28.1 and from there Ciuffetteli played catch me if you can, and nobody could, as Star Studded Cast trotted on the a five length triumph in a 1:57.3 clocking over For You Almostfree, and driver "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. Third place went to Sam's Honeybee, driven by Billings president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. "'Star' raced big tonight," Ciuffetteli said via email after his driving victory. "My game plan was to blast off the car and find a spot but after making front so easily I decided to keep him rolling and he responded nicely. He was strong all the way to the finish." "Tough Tony" also owns and trains the winner. Both Yonkers went as non-wagering events. John Manzi

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