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Freehold, NJ -- It was bombs away in the American Harness Drivers Club trot at Freehold Raceway ‚Äčon Saturday afternoon (Oct 17) when "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello hustled 47-1 Latoka up the inside to collar "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo and 30-1 Tough Get Going and together the trotters produced a whopping $1,017.40 exacta, one of the biggest in recent memories in amateur racing. And the third place finish by Wygant Prince ,with "Coach Paul" Minore at the controls, produced a near record $3,813.80 trifecta. When the gate sprung Minore sent his veteran trotter to the lead as Faraldo ducked in the two-hole, a place where he stayed until the stretch drive. In the meantime Minore played hardball with Marianna Monaco who had her Awol Hanover challenging for the lead from the six-hole in the :29.2 first quarter. But with Minore's insistence Awol Hanover never was able to drop down along the pylons as the trotters race one-two all the way to the final turn. With Wygant Prince showing the way and Tough Get Going following Faraldo was content with the way the race was breaking for him. "I moved Tough Get Going to the outside and when we rounded the final we had the lead and I thought we were going to win it," Faraldo said."I was eyeing Wygant Prince and I knew we had him beat. " Faraldo was right but his trotter drifted in the deep stretch which permitted Zuccarello and Latoka, who was fifth at the head of the lane, with a clear path to the finish line now that they were down along the pylons. With daylight the veteran 9-year-old Groton Hall gelding kicked it in another gear and collared the leader and went on to a head victory over Tough Get Going in 2:01.1.   For Zuccarello, who doubles as the publicist for the GSY Amateur Series, it was his first seasonal driving victory and the 17th of his career. The winner is owned and trained by Donald Maiorano by John Manzi, for the American Harness Drivers Club    

YONKERS, NY--After a NAADA amateur event at Monticello this afternoon members of the CKG Billings Series gathered gathered at Yonkers Raceway tonight to compete in two harness racing trotting events before the first race on the betting card and oddly each contest was won in wire-to-wire fashion. In the first $6000 split "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello took advantage of the rail position and sent Broadway Bruiser to the front when the wings of the mobile gate folded and the veteran trotter made every pole a winning on en route to a 2:02.1 victory over the wet racetrack. "Coach Paul" Minore used the same tactics in his $6000 event when he sent his veteran trotter, Wygant Prince, to the lead from the two-hole and cruised to an easy two-length triumph in a 2:00 clocking. Zuccarello, who doubles as the publicist for the GSY Amateur Drivers Series, enjoys every chance he gets to sit behind a spirited steed under battle conditions, something he's been doing since 2011. Tonight he took no prisoners and rebuffed any and all challengers to score a two-length triumph over Noble Warrawee, and driver,"Iron Mike" Polansky finished second and last year's National Amateur Driver of the Year, "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio, garnered the show dough with Cheeky Little Miss. Broadway Bruiser, 4-year old Muscle Mass gelding, is owned by Harmon Racing, Winners Circle Racing and John Campagnuolo and trained by Rob Harmon. In his split, Minore sent Wygant Prince to the front and once there it was 'Katey-bar-the-door' as the veteran trotter cruised virtually unchallenged to notch his 41st career victory and raise his career earnings to over $466,000. Tough Get Going, in rein to "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo stalked the leader throughout but couldn't overtake him and went home with the place money. And although Finnick Odair rallied strongly at the three quarters he then flattened out and finished third for Melissa "the Contessa" Arbia.. Wygant Prince is also owned by Minore and trained by Taylor Gower. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

Monticello, NY--- The field may have been small but still there was plenty of action when Matt Zuccarello moved Broadway Bruiser at the half and they rallied to a 1:59.4 harness racing victory in the NAADA Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, June 20. For Zuccarello it was a bittersweet victory since his triumph came on the birthday of his father-in-law who passed away last year. "It's always gratifying to win a race but when it happens on a memorable day its doubling rewarding", Zuccarello said in the winner circle after his victory. Zuccarello, an avid amateur driver who doubles as the publicist for the GSY Amateur Series, looked like a veteran reinsmen and made all the right moves en route to his triumph. When the gate sprung Joe Faraldo sent Tough Get Going in search of the lead from the five hole but Alan Schwartz, up behind Ladys Big Stormont from the pole position, had other plans. He forced Faraldo to take a seat behind him as he led the field by the first stanza in :29.2. Schwartz kept the pedal to the metal and was in complete control as Ladys Big Stormont tripped the halfway timer in :59.3. Meanwhile Zuccarello and his trotter were sitting third behind the leaders but when they headed up the backside Zuccarello moved Broadway Bruiser out to challenge. " I got away slowly and stayed close to the leaders and then ranged alongside Ladys Big Stormont as we raced head-to-head past three quarters and around the final turn. But once we straightened for home my horse began to slowly pull away and we went on to win it by a length and a half," Zuccarello explained. Schwartz's trotter held on for second money while Faraldo's Tough Get Going flattened out in the lane and had to settle for the show dough. The winner, a 4-year-old Muscle Mass gelding, is owned by Harmon Racing Stable and trained by Patti Harmon He paid $9.90 for win. For Zuccarello , a mobile salesman by trade, it was his first win this season from a limited amount of starts.   by John Manzi for NAADA  

Harness racing amateur races were on tap again at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (June 4) afternoon on the heels of the two the Sullivan County oval presented the previous day. Steve Oldford won the NAADA Trot with Starsaboverallerage in a 2:00.3 clocking while Matt Zuccarello copped the Catskill Amateur Club pace with Minnesota Hanover in 1:58. "I came all the way in from Michigan anticipating to drive in three races today but the other two races I was hoping to race get in didn't fill," Oldford said after his victory with Starsaboveallerage. "But winning the one I was in made the whole trip worthwhile. People who know me know I'd fly to the moon if I thought I could win a race there." Oldford had the betting favorite in the NAADA trot and he drove him like he was the best. He gunned his trotter to the lead from post four and parked Saraboo, and driver by Paul Moore in a relatively soft :30 quarter. Knowing that Saraboo was no threat after being parked out Oldford used Moore's trotter as a shield of sorts, which made it tougher for any horse from the back of the pack to challenge the pace. Hannah Miller had a live horse in Rev It Now but the road trouble they endured cost them a chance at victory. She had to wheel her trotter three- deep at the three quarters to get around the parked horse but Starsaboveallerage had drawn off to a substantial lead and by the time Rev It Now had cleared traffic Oldford's trotter was safe and he cruised home an easy 1-1/2 length winner. Miller's charge was second best while Chuckie B and Alan Schwartz completed the trifecta. Starsaboveallerage, trained by Allen Sisco, paid $3.90 for win. The other amateur event, sponsored by the Catskill Club, was vehicle for Matt Zuccarello to score his second driving victory in two days at the Mighty M. (He won a division of the Spain vs USA Friendship Competition yesterday). In today's contest Zuccarello sent Minnesota Hanover to the lead from the pole position and they had clear sailing to the half which was paced in :59.1. At that point challenges came first from CCs Lover N and Allen Sisco followed by Rise Above It with Hannah Miller. But Zuccarello had Minnesota Hanover far enough in front to rebuff and late charges. They cruised home a solid one length winner over CCs Lover with Rise Above It two lengths farther back in third place. "Last week we had to pace a :28.2 first quarter to get the lead and he (Minnesota Hanover) was tired at the end of the mile. This time when we passed the (first) quarter in :29.4 I knew my horse would have something in the tank for later," Zuccarello explained. Zuccarello also owns the winner who's trained by Dennis Laturza. Minnesota Hanover returned a $21.40 win mutuel. By John Manzi for NAADA & The Catskill Amateur Club.

After seven months of competitions in the C.K.G Billings amateur driving series the $25,000 Gold Cup and $15,000 Silver Cup Championships were contested at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, November 23 with "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello victorious in the Gold with Rebel Strike while Kelly "Sky" Walker copped the Silver with Rush N Supreme. Both events were on the betting card and each was contested at a distance of 1-1/4 miles, which has been the regular feature in the Billings Series finales. But for Zuccarello his 2:31 driving victory was only half of his prize that day. His friend Charlie Longo said that "Mighty Matt" hit the daily double at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday and he was not only referring to Matt's victory but more importantly Longo reported that Zuccarello proposed marriage to his longtime girlfriend Kim Velardi. He even got down on one knee in the winners circle after his victory to make that proposal. The road to that proposal began when Zuccarello left softly from the five-hole and settled in fifth position with Rebel Strike. He was content to follow the leaders until the backside the final time around. When Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff moved Tagmaster in front of him, Zuccarello followed the cover and by the top of the stretch he had Rebel Strike within striking distance. In the lane Rebel Strike was the strong horse and Zuccarello got him up in the final strides to hold off a hard- charging Catching Kate and driver "Marvelous Marvin" Raber to score a neck victory in a time of 2:31. Keystone Sadie finished third for Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin. "It was the greatest day of my life", Zuccarello offered. "I really had a perfect trip. It couldn't have been scripted better. And Charlie's right, I hit the daily double. It was real nice to end the season a pair of wins; Kim's hand and the Gold Cup Championship." It's true Matt felt mighty at days end but then again, so did Mike Simons who owns Rebel Strike especially when his horse got the lion's share of the $25,000 purse. Rebel Strike paid $9.20 for win and for Zuccarello who is looking forward to next season, it was his fourth Billings triumph this year. Another gentleman, Kelly "Sky" Walker had sort of a daily double of his own on Sunday, too. He won the $15,000 Billings Silver Cup Championship with Rush N Supreme in a time of 2:30.4 and he is also is the owner of Rush N Supreme. But Walker's journey to the winners circle was different than Zuccarello's. He too, started from the five-hole but gunned Rush N Supreme to the front and got away with a soft 30.3. From there Walker rated his horse on the front end with each quarter trotted around 30 seconds. After rebuffing a challenge by Dave "Steady As" Yarock and Rompaway Alvin as the field passed the third stanza Rush N Supreme trotted home an easy 1-1/2 winner over Whatnblazes, driven by Dave "Yes Its True" Offenberg. Rompaway Alvin held on for third money. Sent off the even money favorite Rush N Supreme paid $4.00 for win. For Walker it was 9yh seasonal; driving victory and the 98th of his amateur career. "The Billings Season was marked again by 5 separate series and we once again saw an increase in new members. Also noted was an upswing in participation from our core members. The shorter Series format seems to be well received by most and we will continue to make adjustments to try and refine it for the future," said Billings Series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. " One such adjustment will be the increase of the money conditions and claiming price in the Mid-West. Starting next year. The conditions for the East and Mid-West will once again be the same. The new slot money in Ohio has rejuvenated racing there and hopefully it will do the same for our membership in that region." by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series

Colby Jate (Jate Lobell-Cam Press Shania) scored the victory in the $10,000 featured pace on Saturday night at Vernon Downs.   Colby Jate (Aaron Byron) did not have an easy time getting to the front as there was a 4-way fight for the early lead. Only No Monkeys Allowed (Fern Paquet Jr.) did not try to get to the front in the field of five. However, once Colby Jate got to the front, matters were pretty much resolved.   He proceeded to lead all the way around the racetrack. The fractions were fairly fast, as well, as Colby Jate went the quarter in 25.4 seconds, the half in 54.2, and three-quarters in 1:22.3. JK Panache (Chris Lems) tracked the leader from the pocket, but was never able to get closer than a length away in the stretch. The final time for the mile was 1:50.4.   Colby Jate is owned by Friendship Stables LLC of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. The trainer is Mike Watson.   The complete order of finish was: Colby Jate, JK Panache, Avantage, No Monkeys Allowed, and Moonlight Ransom.   The CKG Billings Series for amateur drivers returned to Vernon Downs on Saturday night as well. It was a similar story to the feature as the winner went to the front right away and stayed there all the way. However, Armstead Kyra (Muscle Mass-Paus Awhile) was far from the favorite in the field, going off at 43-1 and paying $89 to win. Even with the favorite Choke Hold (Vladimir Melnichenko) finishing second, the exacta paid a whopping $882.   Armstead Kyra was driven to victory by Matt Zuccarello in a final time of 1:56.1. The fractions were 27.3 for the quarter, 58.1 for the half, and 1:26.3 for three-quarters.   Armstead Kyra is owned by Brenda Messenger of Monticello, New York and Scott Woogen of Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania. The trainer is Gary Messenger.   Live racing will resume at Vernon Downs on Thursday night with an 11-race program. Post time is 6:45pm.   by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs 

Bud Hatfield scored his record seventh CKG Billings Trot victory with Really Really Sweet in Sunday action at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Rewrite the Rules (Dein Spriggs) and Timer (Gregg Keidel) finished second and third respectively. Hatfield drove the 5-year-old brown mare Really Really Sweet. In the opening quarter, Really Really Sweet was neck-in-neck with Rewrite the Rules timed in 0:30. At the half mile station, Rewrite the Rules stuck a head in front of Hay Look Out (Patricia Miller) on the outside in 1:02. By the three-quarter mark, Rewrite the Rules was still holding his place and Hatfield was forced into the fourth position as Sammy Merlot (Simeon Hundson) was sent three wide. As the field of eight hit the top of the stretch, Sammy Merlot broke stride allowing Really Really Sweet to come off the rail and outsprint Rewrite The Rules to the wire by a half length in 2:05. Really Really Sweet is trained by Brent Davis and owned by the Hatfield Stables. In the second $3,000 division it was David Siegel driving Texas Ridge to victory in 2:00.2. Tioga Thunder (George Bonomo) and What Do You Want (Larry Steenbergen) were second and third. The seven-year old brown gelding is trained by Marvin Raber and owned by David E. Miller of Millersburg, Ohio. In the final Billings division Bold Strike scored over Margarita Man (Larry Farley) and Cody Coy (Matt Zuccarello). The five-year old son of So Striking is trained, driven, and owned by Stephen Oldford of Croswell, Michigan. Bold Strike went gate to wire in 2:00. by Conor Golden, Little Brown Jug Publicity Intern

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

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

Matt Zuccarello--yes, Zuccarello-- reined the harness racing winner of Monticello Raceway's 16th annual Passover Pace on Tuesday afternoon, April 22. He hustled his charge Winsmith Molly up to collar the pacesetter-- Sam's Fortune and driver Alan Charles-- in the final strides and walked away with the box of matzohs. Zuccarello's mother, the former (Arlene Rosenberg) is Jewish, and because of that Matt was eligible to compete in the race for drivers of Jewish heritage. And for Zuccarello, who's refers to himself as "Pizza- Bagel", this was his first drive in the event and he made it memorable. An amateur driver with a provisional license, Zuccarella has recently been bitten by the harness driving bug. Now in his third year of competitive driving Zuccarello has been competing in the various amateur club races on the East coast as well as in the Billings Series. "I've won a couple of races before but winning the Passover Pace today was more than I could have asked for," said Zuccarello, who by trade is a salesman for heart rate monitoring equipment. "I thought there were a couple of horses in there (the race) that would be hard to beat but my mare raced her best race of the season thus far." Perhaps Zuccarello was referring to Sams Fortune and Christoffer Bliss who was driven by Austin Siegelman. Both were the 6-5 co-favorites in the race. When the man said go, Alan Charles sent Sams Fortune to the lead from the pylon position but he relinquished command to Pascal's Wager and Dave Yarock just before the quarter pole but he wasted no time and re-took the lead as the field headed into the turn. However, when Charles made his quarter pole move Murray Bassen, with Welcome Lover, and Bobby Krivelin with Road Work Ahead, followed suite. "I was seventh at the quarter and with all the action upfront I moved third- up and as the horses in front of me either cleared or found a spot (along the pylons) I just kept my mare going forward," Zuccarello related. Winsmith Molly passed everyone in front of her and then ranged up alongside Sams Fortune at the three quarters. Then, from there to paydirt, a blanket would have covered both pacers right to the finish line. At the wire Winsmith Molly was a head in front of Sams Fortune while Tidewater Moses and driver Alan Schwartz rallied from far back to finish third and pay $36.00 for show. Krivelin's Road Work Ahead finished fourth and fifth place went to 50-1 shot, Five Card Stud driven by Peter Kleinhans. Christoffer Bliss and Siegelman got locked- in from the quarter pole on and they were never a factor and finished sixth. Pascal's Wager was seventh and Welcome Lover brought up the rears. Winsmith Molly is trained by Gary Messenger for owners Brenda Messenger, Dr. Scott Woogen and Phil Shapiro. It was the mare's first win in nine seasonal outings and she returned $15.60, $3.30 and $3.00 across the board. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Last fall when Austin Siegelman was presented with the Rising Star Award by the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA at their annual banquet he told the attending crowd that among the things he was looking to accomplish during 2014 was to win Monticello Raceway's Passover Pace. Now on Tuesday, April 22 he will get that chance, and a good one at that, when he jumps up behind the 5-2 favorite Christoffer Bliss. "That's correct, I said one of my goals (in 2014) was to win the Race for the Matzohs," said the 22 year old Siegleman in all seriousness. "I know it has been a fun event and I read about it every season for as long as I can remember. Now not only do I have a chance to win it but I'll be driving the favorite in the race." Last year in his first full season of driving Siegelman reined 90 winners and currently with 47 already he's more than halfway home in equaling last year's numbers. However, since he's now getting calls to catch drive here, and at Saratoga Raceway, look for Siegelman's numbers to vastly increase. However, Siegelman will be going against some veteran Passover Pace drivers in Alan Schwartz, Bobby Krivelin and Alan Charles. Schwartz has been a three-time winner and Charles and Krivelin each have won the Race for the Matzohs twice. Krivelin is the defending champion having won the event last year with Isn't She Lovely. In this year's Passover Pace on Tuesday afternoon, Charles may have the best chance at upsetting Siegelman when he handles Sam's Fortune-- rated 3-1 on the early line-- from the pole position. "I've won this race with outsiders before and being able to start along the pylons is always a positive," said Charles who has won two of the last four Passover Paces. And speaking of outsiders, both Schwartz and Krivelin have them. Neither driver's pacers have won a race yet this year; Schwartz's Tidewater Moses (post five) is 0-for 12 and Krivelin's, Road Work Ahead (post seven) is 0-for 13. "It's all the luck of the draw; both with the horses we'll drive and the post positions we get,'" Schwartz said philosophically. "You never know what will happen in a horse race and it's never official until the judges declare it so." The sleeper in the race is Winsmith Molly, from the hot Gary Messenger barn. Matt Zuccarello -his mother is Jewish-drew the mount behind the 7 year old mare who won six times last year (the fastest in 1:57.3) although she has yet to find her stride this season. They'll start from the six hole. Others who drew mounts in the 16th Annual "Race for the Matzohs" include: Peter Kleinhans(Five Star Stud -- post two), Murray Bassin (Welcome Lover -post 4) and Dave Yarock (Pascal's Wager -post eight). The Passover Pace is slated as race number six on the Mighty M's Tuesday afternoon card of April 22. By John Manzi, for Harnesslink.com

Pompano Beach, FL…November 17, 2013…Red Hot Yankee, an invader from Indiana owned, trained and driven by Ed Hensley, made his first appearance at Pompano Park a winning one when he captured the $10,000 Open 1 Pace on Saturday night. The nine year-old son of Artsplace snuck through along the pylons at mid-stretch to, first, get by the leading Special Strides (Rick Plano) and, then, held off the ferocious close of the even money favorite, Lyons Johnny (Wally Hennessey), to win by a half length in 1:51.3. No Monkeys Allowed (Kevin Wallis) closed from the back of the pack to finish third while B N Bad finished fourth after a first-over bid around the final turn. Special Strides picked up the "nickel" in the field of six after carving up panels of :27, :55.1 and 1:23. In a post race interview, driver Hensley said, "This horse seems to live up to his name--he's 'red hot' all time. He loves to race on the front end but Rick's horse (Special Strides) left right out from the outside and he had the upper hand, angle wise, to get to the top. Was my horse relaxed? Not on your life. He was hot racing in the two hole the whole way, never relaxed and, when we found some room mid-stretch, we just were able to get through." For Red Hot Yankee, it was his seventh win of the year in 22 starts and sent his yearly bankroll to $53,628. Pompano Park also hosted the C. K. G. Billings Trot, featuring many of the leading drivers on that amateur circuit. At the conclusion of that 1:58.4 mile, it was veteran amateur driver Dein Spriggs in the winner's circle after piloting his own newly acquired Herecomesthechief to a wire-to-wire win measuring 3 3/4 lengths. Claim Jumper (Matt Zuccarello) rallied from far back to finish second while Pacific Cyclone (Paul Suchow) finished third after chasing the winner throughout the mile through fractions of :28, :57.2 and 1:28. Millbrook Millie (Anthony Verruso) rallied from ninth to finish fourth with He's My Man (Steve Oldford) finishing fifth in the field of 10. For Herecomesthechief, a son of Here Comes Herbie trained by Allen Saul for the owner-driver, it was his seventh win of the year in 26 starts. The C. K. G. Billings Amateur Driving Club honors the industrialist who was the principal of the Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company of Chicago when that city was lit, primarily, by gaslight. Mr. Billings retired from the company a multi-millionaire in 1901--age 40--and went on to develop a grand stable of horses, including our sport's very first 2:00 trotter, Lou Dillon. He passed away in 1937 in Santa Barbara, California, where many of the streets in that city are named after his most famous horses. by John Berry for Isle Pompano Park  

Mike Forte will handle the favorite in Monticello Raceway’s Godfather Pace on Tuesday afternoon, October 29, but in order to have a repeat victory in the event he’ll have to win with Kevin’s Apple from the eight hole. The Godfather  Pace, for drivers of Italian ancestry, will be the seventh leg of the Mighty M’s Heritage Drivers Series. Last year Forte guided  Velvety Smooth to an event record time of 1:58.2. This year he pins his hopes on the Dave Barrett-trained pacer who owns a seasonal mark of 1:58.2. Besides having to start on the far outside Forte and Kevin’s Apple can expect trouble from Southwind Maize  and driver Rock Vinci from the pole position. A three- time winner this year with a seasonal mark of 1:56.1,Southwind Maize rallied from seventh to be to be second in his previous start. Last year Vinci finished second  to Forte  in the Godfather Pace  and will be looking to payback. Also expected to not go quietly is Johnny Desimone, Jr. with Tidewater Moses. A consistent sort Tidewater Moses has a win and a second in his last three outings. “It looks like a very competitive race with driving strategy and racing luck determining the winner, “ noted Eric Warner, the track’s director of racing. Other drivers in this year’s Godfather Pace include; Sam Sbarra, John Plutino,  Matt Zuccarello, Bob Pettito, and Dave Russo. The winning driver of this event will join the winners of the other preliminary legs in the ethnic  series finale. Those who have already earned a berth in the All America  Cup include; Dennis Watson ( Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pace), Jimmy Marohn, Jr. (St Paddy Pace); Bobby Krivelin ( Passover Pace), Veronica Merton (The Lady Godiva),  and Kyle—his mother was English-- DiBenidetto (Mayflower Mile). The Godfather Pace will be the fifth race on the Tuesday Oct. 29th card. A final ethnic driver series contest, the Maple Leaf Mile for drivers of Canadian heritage,  is slated for mid-November. by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway  

There was plenty of action in the Billings Series this past weekend with two races at Batavia Downs on Friday; one at Vernon Downs on Saturday, and two on Sunday at the Delaware, Ohio Fairgrounds. On September 13th in Batavia, NY Dynamite Dave" Drew won the first split when he reined 18-1 shot Say It Best to a stunning come-from-behind triumph in a 2:05.2 clocking. The second division saw Simeon "Hot Rod" Hunsdon and favored Listen Hanover ware down the leaders and then pick up all the marbles after a 2:02.1 victory. The visiting amateurs were afforded two drives on the card there that night. The next evening in Vernon, NY, Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin bided his time stalking the leader and then rallied to a 1:59.4 triumph with Gimme The Loot. "Trader Bud" Hatfield won the first division of the Billings Amateur Trots over the lightning fast oval in Delaware, Ohio for a record breaking sixth time when he guided Brother Gus to a head victory in a 2:00.4 clocking. An earlier split went to "Lawbook Larry" Farley when he scored a 2:03.2 victory with and Rewrite The Rules. At Batavia Downs Dave Drew and Say It Best got away slowly from the eight hole and at the halfway point they were 18 lengths behind the leader, Abigail Eden driven "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. Still nine lengths off at the third stanza and four lengths back at the top of the lane Say It Best rallied and Drew got his trotter up in the final strides to collar "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello with Little Haus. Third place went to Christopher "Columbus" Shambo and Yankee Elizabeth. Say It Best gave Drew his second winning drive in five outings this season and his 22nd of his amateur career. In the other split, Hunsdon moved Listen Hanover at the half behind cover and the went three deep on the final turn to gain command and then cruised home 1-1/4 length winner over Matt Zuccarello and Lima Jag. Dave Drew was third with Long Live America. Listen Hanover, the odds-on favorite, paid $3.80 for win. It was Hunsdon's first win after five starts this year and his 79th of his amateur career. At Vernon Downs on Saturday Bobby Krivelin bided his time with Gimme The Loot behind the lead set by Matt Zuccarello and Northmedo Wine Guy. When the two headed for paydirt Krivelin's trotter was the strong horse and they rallied to a length victory over Zuccarello's charge in a 1:59.4 clocking. Third place went to Choke Hold, driven by Vladimir "Butch" Melnichenko. Krivelin, last year's National Amateur Driver of the Year, scored his eighth seasonal triumph and his 149th of his career. He may not be driving as much as he did when began but "Trader Bud" knows his way around a racetrack, especially the one in Delaware, Ohio. For a record breaking sixth time Hatfield reined a winner over the hallowed ground which home to the Little Brown Jug, when he sent Brother Gus to the lead and made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:00.4 victory albeit by just a head over a hard charging DW's Perky Joe and driver "Tar Heel Tom" Williams. "Chicago George" Bonomo took home the show dough with Life Long Hanover. Brother Gus returned an $8.00 win mutuel and gave Hatfield his 227th winning drive of his amateur career. A second split was won by Larry Farley with a patient drive behind Rewrite The Rules. After Bob "I Wanna Sell You A Car" Chapman with Beauty's Ladygator hooked up in a duel with "Marvelous Marv" Raber and Tabulator from the half until the top of the lane, it made perfect cover for Farley and Rewrite The Rules who were second along the pylons. And when the field straightened for home Farley rallied Rewrite The Rules down the center of the track to nab Tabulator by a length in 2:03.1. Third place went to Sky Lav driven by Kathryn "High Flying" Hawk . Rewrite the Rules paid $7.60 for win and the victory gave Farley his third this season and 48th of his career. Next Billings action is slated on Saturday, September 21 at Freehold Raceway. John Manzi

VERNON, NY— Gimme The Loot and driver Robert Krivelin gained a victory in the non-betting C.K.G. Billings Series leg for amateur drivers of trotters; JK Panache and The Triple Lindy captured the top pari-mutuel pace and trot, respectively; Gary P. Clark emerged as the track’s leading provisional pilot, while Jimmy Whittemore posted four first-place finishes for the second straight evening during Saturday’s 14-race program at Vernon Downs. Racing for the first time in 2013, Gimme The Loot logged a 1:59.4 triumph in the Billing contest that took place prior to Saturday’s 65th betting card. The spunky 8-year-old gelding raced at or near the lead throughout and closed from second in the stretch to defeat Northmedo Wine Guy, and driver Matt Zuccarello, by three-quarters of a length. Thomas Di Bartolo conditions the career-winner of $190,948 for owner Alessandro Spano. JK Panache, a two-time track record-setter at the Downs this season, powered his way to a 1:51.3 score in Saturday’s $8,000 seventh race, earning his fifth local tally, seventh season’s score and 15th lifetime victory. Whittemore did the teaming for trainer Dave Dewhurst, an owner of the 4-year-old pacing gelding along with Philip K. Hale. The Triple Lindy became a two-time winner at the meet with a 1:54.1 career-best clocking in the $7,000 10th event. Brian Mattison urged the 5-year-old trotting gelding into the lead entering the final quarter, and the brown son of Credit Winner held on to secure his 11th lifetime victory for owner and trainer Paul Kelley and his partners Stephen G. Michaels, Jim Winske and William B. Weaver, III. Part-owner Clark (with Fay E. Clark) steered the 4-year-old pacing mare New York Kitty to a 1:54.1 triumph in Saturday’s $4,000 eighth event that gave the 46-year-old horseman a 3-2 lead over Josh Kinney and Justin Huckabone in this year’s provisional drivers’ derby at the track. Whittemore, a three-time former Vernon dash-winning champion, enjoyed his fifth four-win outing of the track’s 60th anniversary season, while hiking his three night victory total for the weekend to nine. The 29-year-old teamster currently sits third on this season’s race-winning chart with 77 first-place finishes. Leading driver (117 wins) and trainer (46 tallies) Rick Plano won two races during Saturday’s pari-mutuel card, as did Mattison, Kelley and driver/trainer Claude Huckabone, III. DOWNS DOINGS—The Downs will continue its Thursday-Saturday live racing schedule next week, with first post time at 6:45 p.m…A revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com. Jim Moran

Monticello, NY --- As the 2013 GSY Summer Pacing Series heads toward the final leg on Wednesday (Sept. 11), the participating horsemen and women are ecstatic over the generous $8,000 purse that Harrah’s Philadelphia has offered the amateur drivers. Considering that the class of horse used for these events, $5,000 claiming pacers, generally races for about half that amount, finding willing contestants was not an issue. “It is a win-win all around -- which bodes well for amateur racing and the harness industry,” exclaimed series founder and organizer David Yarock. Fresh off a pair of driving victories at another one of his successful endeavors, the All-Amateur Day at Monticello Raceway, the financial planner and active amateur driver noted that “the race at Chester (Harrah’s Philadelphia) is very competitive -- five or six horses have a shot at winning. It is our first time at this prominent venue and we want to put on a good show.” Last week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and this week at Harrah's Philadelphia, the race is sponsored by Winners Circle Blueberries. Former trainer-driver and current Blueberry magnate Bill Augustine dusted-off his colors for the GSY series and makes his second start at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Augustine is not shy about his love of harness racing, stating, “Promoting the sport through amateur racing is a lot of fun and also supports a number of very worthwhile causes.” Wild Bill needs a win at Philadelphia in order to advance into the final. So far this season, this competition for amateur drivers has been hosted by eight different tracks in the northeast. The final of the series will be held Saturday (Sept. 21) at Freehold Raceway as part of the second annual Open Space Pace Day. A total of 17 reinsmen and two reinswomen have driven in at least one leg. Only the top eight point winners earn a berth in the final. The leading point winner in the GSY series is Robert “The Headhunter” Hechkoff. With 51 points, he has been the most consistent driver in the series, never missing a check in any of the seven previous legs and he has been five times 1-2-3. Hechkoff was named this year’s Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame’s amateur driving champion. Tied for second place with 45 points each are drivers Monica Banca and Alan Charles. Banca, whose horse Ruthless Ace was assigned the eight hole for this dash, comes into the race with a .622 UDR. In her first year of driving she has posted seven wins in just 15 starts. A full-time Standardbred trainer, Banca won her last two GSY series starts at Tioga and Pocono. Charles, who raced a stable of horses at Yonkers during the 1990s, joined the amateur ranks a few years ago and is an energy consultant from New York City. When developing this event, series founder David Yarock enlisted the guidance and assistance of two industry leaders to get it off the ground -- Jeff Gural and Jason Settlemoir. With their input and support the GSY Pacing Series has flourished, while also providing funding for a number of very important causes. All monies raised are equally divided among: The Magic Paintbrush Organization, a Southern Tier-based NGO, which provides facilitated workshops for thousands of individuals, infants through geriatric, diagnosed with a developmental disability (e.g. autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, cognitive delay). Edward Weiner and Edward Yarock Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to individuals pursuing higher education related to the harness racing industry, as well as assistance for any individual in the harness racing community, including their children and/or family members, in their pursuit of higher education. Open Space Pace seeks to highlight the relationship between the horse and open space in New Jersey. The annual event will raise funds to support non-profit organizations involved in the equine industry and the preservation of open space. The Open Space Pace will strive to increase awareness, educate the public, and stress the importance of open space in the Garden State. Entries for the GSY Pacing Series eighth and final leg at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Wednesday (Sept. 11) are as follows: Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML Odds 1. Charlie Leru, David Yarock, Dolores Basilone, 6-1 2. B B Smash, Matt Zuccarello, Matt Zuccarello, 15-1 3. Donnie Bop, Alan Charles, Marcus Marashian, 4-1 4. Needles And Pins, Mark Schullstrom, Peter Stratton, 10-1 5. In The Mix, Theresa Donnelly, John Berger, 20-1 6. Hickory Louie, William Augustine, Robert Lounsbury, 6-1 7. Danger Sign N, Robert Hechkoff, Brandon Simpson, 9-2 8. Ruthless Ace, Monica Banca, Rick Dane, Jr., 5-2 9. Captain Greg, Peter Kleinhans, Tony Dinges, 8-1 by Chris Tully

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