Search Results
1 to 16 of 2043
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 to 16 of 2043
1 2 3 4 5 Next »