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It is only fitting that on a weekend when we pause and honor those that have served and perished in our country's Military, that the aptly named Omaha Survivor would prevail against all odds. He gallantly battled back from a break behind the gate and spotted the field 15 lengths at the start, at the ¼ pole the charter had him 11 lengths behind the leader. Now in full charge he was parked 4th on the outside at the 1/2, still taking the overland route on the outside, at the ¾ mile marker he ranging into contention, parked first over from the fraction setting Shark Treasure. Omaha Survivor briefly save some real estate and dove in the 2 hole ever so briefly, at the top of the lane Mike Merton pulled the right line and the veteran 11 year old harness racing gelding gallantly charged thru the lane in spirited stretch drive in the middle of the track to be victorious in 1:58 giving Mike his 4th win of the afternoon. Omaha Survivor is trained by Dolores Basilone for owner Greg Gardner of Sheridan MI. Mike Merton took advantage of the absence of Monticello Raceway's top leading drivers Bruce Aldrich and Jimmy Taggart Jr. and drove 5 winners on the afternoons 9 race card. The UDRS stat building day started in the second half of the early double, scoring with Last Chance T, he came right back in the 3rd to win with Brooklyn Benny in 1:56.3. He finished 2nd in the 4th race. In Race 5 he scored with Omaha Survivor. He also won with Conrad Hanover in race 7 ($3.30) and Mungo in the 8th race ($19.20) D.R. Ackerman also had a training driving double on the card, reigning Magic Tail, a 3 year old daughter of Muscle Massive to a 2:03 win and Uncle Hanover (Muscle Hill) in 1:59.1. On Monday May 30, Monticello Raceway will be dark Monday for Memorial Day, live racing resumes Tuesday thru Friday with a 12:50 post. By Shawn Wiles

The inaugural event for 2016 New York Sire Stakes took place at Monticello Raceway on Monday May 23. 6 NYSS events were contested, two races for each category, the Excelsior A's, and Excelsior B's and the upper echelon Sire Stake fields. The front end ruled, as eight of the harness racing cards eleven races where won wire to wire. Starting off the action in the second race was the first heat of the B division, it was almost too much action, as Sultry Susan made a nasty break in the first turn and went to her knees, scattering the entire field behind her. Dw'sblissfulthinn capitalized on the miscue and made the most of it, scoring a wire to wire win for trainer Debra Miller, and driver Jim Marohn Jr. in 2:00:1 for owner Donald La Page, The 2nd heat of the B class was the following race, I Got The Life, (Roll With Joe) benefited from a conservative drive by Mark Macdonald. She settled in 5th, and used the passing lane to score in a photo for a lifetime best 1:59:1. Jim Graham co owns the filly with Ronald Viola. Race 4, was the first division of the open class of fillies, Jim Morrill Jr. aboard Soft Ideal showed the field through fractions of 28:0, 56:4, 1:26:0 was stalked the entire mile by the Burke entry of Mother of Art and Art Critic, the filly labored in deep stretch but hung on for the win 1:55:2. She returned a $3.60 Already with 11 starts under his belt and tight, he seasoned Erv Miller trainee Rolling Going Gone (Roll With Joe) won on the front end in 1:57:2 for driver Marcus Miller and owner Ross Bonafield. Milky Way Rae (American Ideal) was under wraps and raging with pace for driver Jim Morrill Jr, scoring well in hand in 1:55:2, pacing the fastest LQ of the day of 28:2 in the afternoons final Excelsior event, the win gave Morrill a driving double on the card. The final NY Bred race of the came in race 8, Andy Miller brought his American Ideal filly, American Ivy to the fray, the tender footed filly started from Post 5, took the lead before the ¼ from Vino and Formaggio and showed the way, ranging into contention at the ¾ came Time on My Hand, but American Ivy rebuffed the challenge, prevailing in the afternoons fastest race 1:54:3, for owner Joe P Racing LLC of Delray Beach, Fl. American Ideal had three daughters enter the winners circle, followed closely by his Blue Chip Farm stable mate, Roll with Joe who had two winners on the afternoon. By Shawn Wiles

The New York Sire Stakes seasons gets underway at Monticello Raceway on Monday May 23, as harness racing 3 Year Old Pacing Fillies take center stage. When Race Sectary Eric Warner opened the box there were a total of 44 fillies, this was broken down to 2 divisions of each the Excelsior A & Excelsior B series and 2 Sire Stake events. The A class's vie for a purse of $15,000 the B class's, races for $6,700, the Sire Stakes go for a purse $61,300 on the afternoons 11 race card. The action gets underway in Race 2, the 1st split of the Excelsior B Series. Monticello horseman Gary Messenger (Sultry Susan) PP1 and Frank Yanoti Were Gonna Rock (PP3) each have 1 entered. Race 3, is the first heat of Sire Stakes competition, 7 fillies will go behind the gate. Soft Idea looks to be tight after 3 Q's under her belt, the last one a wining effort in 1:54:4 for trainer Linda Toscano, the daughter of American Ideal won over $200,000 in her freshman season. Ron Burke will also bring his entry of Mother of Art (PP4) and Art Critic (PP6) to the fray. The final split of the Excelsior B class is race 3, Bullvillefirerworks will look to light up the sky from the rail. The Bullville Powerful filly who calls Monticello Raceway home, is looking for her second consecutive win, she won last week at her home track in 2:00:4, LQ of 29:1. Pop Art Delight, another Monticello Raceway juvenile with start from post 4, with Jim Taggart Jr aboard. The Excelsior A class starts in Race 5, Erv Millers, Rolling Going Gone starts from the rail for driver Marcus Miller, The Roll With Joe lass has been busy this year. Already with 11 starts under her belt this year and a mark of 1:55:4, taken at Yonkers. Race 7 denotes the final Excelsior A event on the card, this competitive legs will features LYRA (PP1) Milky Way Rae (PP6) Queen of Darkness will be dangerous with driver Jim Morrill Jr behind her for the first time. On paper, Race 8 appears to be the race of the day, the final division of the Sire Stakes eligible's, Vino and Formaggio, who was an impressive winner at Monticello Raceway in Sire Stakes action last year, in this same company, will start from the rail for trainer Ron Burke who also with sent entry mate Encore Deo (PP 6) with Matt Kakaley driving to post. Crawford Farms LLC, of Syracuse NY, sends forth, Angels Rockn Pink, the brown daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven will start from post 4, for master filly trainer Chris Oaks. Purchased as a yearling for $35,000, Angels Rockn Pink, hailed from the Diamond Creek consignment for her new owners Crawford Farms LLC. American Curves threw in an unexpected bad performance last start at Mohawk, prior to that, she was razor sharp grabbing an early season life mark of 1:56:3. By Shawn Wiles

Longtime Monticello Raceway harness racing patron and matriarch Ruthie Sterns was honored on Tuesday May 3, at Monticello Raceway with a race held in her honor. Ruthie has been an avid fan of Harness Racing for over 40 years and has had a horse with Billy "Zeke" Parker. She was also referred to as the carrot lady, as every time she came to the barn she had a bag of carrots. Although the 84 years young Ms. Stern was not in attendance, she was able to watch on satellite Leading Monticello Raceway Driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. drove the winner of the race Last Best Chance, for trainer Thomas Merton and owner John Migliore of Port Jervis NY. Shawn Wiles

Late Thursday afternoon the New York State Gaming Commission began releasing the names of the harness racing trainers of record who have had recent Glaucine positives. Nicholas Surick, Michael “Mickey” Peterson and David Wiskow were the first three names that have been posted. Surick had one positive, Peterson three positives and Wiskow two positives. All six of the positive tests came from horses competing at Monticello Raceway. Apparently the New York State Gaming Commission is only having the horses disqualified and any purses earned returned. There is no mention of any fines or suspensions for the trainers. It has been said that as many as 35 horses involving over 15 different trainers have come up with Glaucine positives.   Licensee: NICHOLAS K. SURICK Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER-DRIVER Notice Number: MR 33-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #1, "JACKS TO OPEN", who raced in race Seven at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:50 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: MICHAEL ( MICKEY ) A. PETERSON Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER Notice Number: MR 34-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #6, "NATURAL BREEZE", who raced in race Eleven at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse was returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:51 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: MICHAEL ( MICKEY ) A. PETERSON Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER Notice Number: MR 35-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #3, " LAST CHANCE T", who raced in race Six at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:52 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: DAVID J. WISKOW Licensed As: GROOM Notice Number: MR 36-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #2, "MEAN PAULINE", who raced in race Seven at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:52 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: MICHAEL ( MICKEY ) A. PETERSON Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER Notice Number: MR 37-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record on the #5, "LAST CHANCE T", who raced in race Six at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE,  this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:53 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: DAVID J. WISKOW Licensed As: GROOM Notice Number: MR 38-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #5, "ROCKETPEDIA", who raced in race One at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:53 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. To view the New York State Gaming Commission rulings for 2016 click here.  Harnesslink Media

For a young man in his early teen years who never had any intentions of getting involved in Harness Racing, Justin Huckabone has made great strides a relatively short amount of time. It seemed like only yesterday that the 21 year old won his first Pari - Mutual drive at Vernon Downs with Powerful Love for trainer Scott West. Justin a 3rd generation horseman, the son of Claude Hukabone Jr. and brother of Claude Huckabone II. He is a young man of fierce determination and the shortest distance to his goal is a straight line. Recently during a short hiatus over the past summer, Justin became more determine and focused than ever, making a pledge to himself “That is what I want to do with my life and I am going to do everything that is takes to achieve that goal” said the confidant young Huckabone. After seeing what he has accomplished at Monticello Raceway during the winter meet, he is a man on a mission.  He is so driven that he even asked advice and picked the brain of Hall of Famer John Campbell. Although he learned a lot from his mentor and father, ironically enough when first learning the ropes, his father didn’t put him down on many of his horse’s to drive.  Huckabone noted that “as a green 18 year old, there were not a lot of drives available to me and it was tough” In November of 2015, Justin made the move to Monticello to stake his claim and start paying his dues. I have to give a lot of credit to Vernon James and Misty Carey, who helped me get started at Monticello Raceway, along with Jennifer Lappe", said Huckabone. Currently Justin is ranked 6th for most wins at Monticello with 38, his UDRS is a respectable .206. His aggressive take no prisoners driving style is similar to that of his childhood idols of Walter Case, Jim Morrill Jr. and Ron Pierce. Leading Monticello Raceway driver Bruce Aldrich, offered the following when asked about Justin “He is willing to listen to trainers and is not a know it all, he has a good attitude, and comes from a good family with roots in the business” Fellow driver James DeVaux also has high words of praise for the young Huckabone “he is safe on the racetrack, he has a lot of talent, he could go places with his talents, plus he is a decent trainer as well”   Monticello Raceway Racing Secretary Eric Warner, said” The young man is a real talent, usually this is a hard place to get established as a driver, but he has done just fine.” Aside from being an up and coming talent to the sport, Huckabone is also involved in promoting the sport, “I want this sport to stick around for young guys like me” said Huckabone during a recent chat in the backstretch. Justin sees the big picture, very clearly,  “We need to highlight our star drivers and horses and introduce the sport to the younger generation via social media”, said the enthusiastic Huckabone. Justin represents a cut from the new cloth, from the social media generation, he wants to perpetuate the sport and keep it alive during the span of his livelihood in the game.  Justin has all the attributes to succeed in this sport, with a tireless work ethic, a burning desire reach the winners circle in every race. As the racing season starts to gear up, Huckabone sees himself doing triple duty, driving at Monticello Raceway Monday through Thursday, Vernon Downs on Thursday and Tioga Downs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Shawn Wiles

In her first start in this season's CKG Billings Series, last year's Amateur Driver of the Year, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller earned a trip to the winners circle after she guided Shanghai Jack to a come-from behind 1:59.2 trotting victory at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday, April 20. Sent off as second choice in the seven- horse field the talented miss worked out a picture-perfect two- hole journey to defeat the pace-setter, Sing Out and driver Bob "The Headhunter" Hechkoff. When the gate sprung, Hechkoff gunned his trotter to the lead and Miller settled in behind him as Sing Out led the field by the first panel in a swift :28.3 seconds. From there Miller played follow the leader as they passed the half in :59 and the leaders were still one-two as they trotted by the three quarters in 1:29. Miller was content to follow Hechkoff around the final turn but when they straightened for home she eased Shanghai Jack out to challenge and a stretch duel ensued. Under mild urging Shanghai Jack got up in the final strides to collar Sing Out for a neck victory. Third place went to For You Almostfree, driven by "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. "We recently purchased him (Shanghai Jack) and this was the first time that I have driven him," Hannah said as she handed the lines to the caretaker upon returning to the paddock after her victory. "He stays at his work and he's such a nice horse to drive." A recent purchase by Hannah's dad, Ervin Miller, Shanghai Jack paid $7.40 for win. For Hannah it was her sixth driving victory thus far in 2016. Last year she won 32 races and now has 47 career wins in just 164 lifetime drives. Today's race was the second leg of the Billings Series this year. The first was at Pompano Park on April 16 and both races there were won by Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. Later this month Hannah will join Oldford and "Joltin Joe" Pennacchio, Dein "the Dream" Spriggs, and "Iron Mike" Mitchell when the five-some travel to Naples, Italy to drive against a contingent of Italian amateurs in a Friendship Competition slated for April 29, 30 and May 1. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

For a young man in his early teen years who never had any intentions of getting involved in Harness Racing, Justin Huckabone has made great strides a relatively short amount of time. It seemed like only yesterday that the 21 year old won his first Pari – Mutual drive at Vernon Downs with Powerful Love for trainer Scott West.  Justin a 3rd generation horseman, the son of Claude Hukabone Jr. and brother of Claude Huckabone II.  He is a young man of fierce determination and the shortest distance to his goal is a straight line. Recently during a short hiatus over the past summer, Justin became more determine and focused than ever, making a pledge to himself “That is what I want to do with my life and I am going to do everything that is takes to achieve that goal” said the confidant young Huckabone. After seeing what he has accomplished at Monticello Raceway during the winter meet, he is a man on a mission.  He is so driven that he even asked advice and picked the brain of Hall of Famer John Campbell. Although he learned a lot from his mentor and father, ironically enough when first learning the ropes, his father didn’t put him down on many of his horse’s to drive.  Huckabone noted that “as a green 18 year old, there were not a lot of drives available to me and it was tough” In November of 2015, Justin made the move to Monticello to stake his claim and start paying his dues. I have to give a lot of credit to Vernon James and Misty Carey, who helped me get started at Monticello Raceway, along with Jennifer Lappe”, said Huckabone.  Currently Justin is ranked 6th for most wins at Monticello with 38, his UDRS is a respectable .206. His aggressive take no prisoners driving style is similar to that of his childhood idols of Walter Case, Jim Morrill Jr. and Ron Pierce. Leading Monticello Raceway driver Bruce Aldrich, offered the following when asked about Justin “He is willing to listen to trainers and is not a know it all, he has a good attitude, and comes from a good family with roots in the business.” Fellow driver James DeVaux also has high words of praise for the young Huckabone “he is safe on the racetrack, he has a lot of talent, he could go places with his talents, plus he is a decent trainer as well”   Monticello Raceway Racing Secretary Eric Warner, said” The young man is a real talent, usually this is a hard place to get established as a driver, but he has done just fine.” Aside from being an up and coming talent to the sport, Huckabone is also involved in promoting the sport, “I want this sport to stick around for young guys like me” said Huckabone during a recent chat in the backstretch. Justin sees the big picture, very clearly,   “We need to highlight our star drivers and horses and introduce the sport to the younger generation via social media”, said the enthusiastic Huckabone. Justin represents a cut from the new cloth, from the social media generation, he wants to perpetuate the sport and keep it alive during the span of his livelihood in the game.  Justin has all the attributes to succeed in this sport, with a tireless work ethic, a burning desire reach the winners circle in every race. As the racing season starts to gear up, Huckabone sees himself doing triple duty, driving at Monticello Raceway Monday through Thursday, Vernon Downs on Thursday and Tioga Downs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.   by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

The New York State Gaming Commission today took unprecedented action against six Standardbred trainers who administered potentially dangerous and performance-enhancing doses of cobalt to race horses in violation of Commission racing rules. Harness trainers Tyler J. Nostadt, Joseph Carrubba, Dennis M. Washington, Sean M. Campbell, Megan M. Gilmour and Dawn M. DeVaux have been suspended immediately by the Commission and face significant additional sanctions. Horses trained by Nostadt, Carrubba and Washington were found to contain cobalt at egregious enough levels to warrant minimum 10-year bans from the sport for those trainers. The six trainers’ violations occurred at Monticello Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Yonkers Raceway in March 2016. The Commission will refer these matters to appropriate law enforcement for contemplation of animal cruelty charges. “The Commission has found multiple harness horse trainers exhibiting reckless disregard for horse health and safety in the name of trying to gain unfair advantages,” said Commission Executive Director Robert Williams. “They are being held accountable for their actions.” According to New York State Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, VMD, low levels of cobalt, a naturally-occurring element with properties similar to those of iron and nickel, are present in all horses and are not considered to be harmful. It can be found in many horse feeds and vitamin supplements. However, according to Dr. Palmer, there is no therapeutic reason to administer large doses of cobalt to horses. Administration of high doses of cobalt salts to horses has the potential to enhance athletic performance in a manner similar to blood doping agents and can cause detrimental effects on a number of body systems, including tachycardia, hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias. The Commission’s rules mandate that any Standardbred trainer whose horse is found to have cobalt levels at more than 50 ng/ml in plasma is considered to be in violation and subject to applicable penalties (rule 4120.3(a)(4)). The Commission rules further mandate that any trainer whose horse is found to have cobalt levels at more than 300 ng/ml is to receive a 10-year suspension, plus whatever other penalties are appropriate (rules 4120.3(c) and 4120.17(d)(2)). Tyler J. Nostadt raced five horses at Yonkers and Monticello in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt: · Monticello, March 15; “JJ Romero;” cobalt blood concentration of 374 ng/ml on race day · Monticello, March 15; “Omaha Survivor;” cobalt blood concentration of 376 ng/ml on race day · Yonkers, March 24; “Knocking Around;” cobalt blood concentration of 361 ng/ml on race day · Yonkers, March 24; “Firstclassflight;” cobalt blood concentration of 819 ng/ml on race day · Yonkers, March 24; “Magic Manny;” cobalt blood concentration of 661 ng/ml on race day Nostadt is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces a 10-year license suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine per incident. Joseph Carrubba raced one horse at Saratoga Casino and Raceway and subsequently attempted to race it and another horse in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt: · March 4; “Our Angel Hayleigh;” cobalt blood concentration of 497 ng/ml on race day · March 22; “Our Angel Hayleigh;” cobalt blood concentration of 1179 ng/ml (out-of-competition test); horse was scratched · March 22; “Post Time Terror;” cobalt blood level 604 ng/ml (out-of-competition test); horse was scratched Carrubba is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces a 10-year license suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the race day violation and additional suspension, revocation and fines for the out-of-competition violations. Dennis M. Washington raced “Baltimor AS” at Monticello on March 16 with a cobalt blood level of 1195 ng/ml on race day in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt. Washington is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces a 10-year license suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the violation. Sean M. Campbell raced five horses at Monticello and Yonkers in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt: · March 14, Monticello; “H.D. Maibach;” cobalt blood level 162 ng/ml on race day · March 15, Monticello; “HD’s Dream Boy;” cobalt blood level 95 ng/ml on race day · March 21, Yonkers; “HD’s Dream Boy;” cobalt blood level 185 ng/ml on race day · March 22, Monticello; “Fly By Ry;” cobalt blood level 126 ng/ml on race day · March 23, Monticello; “HD Lucas;” cobalt blood level 85 ng/ml on race day Campbell is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces further suspension or revocation and $25,000 fines for each violation. Megan M. Gilmour raced “Slam Dunk Hanover” at Monticello on March 17 with a cobalt blood level of 169 ng/ml on race day in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt. Further investigation revealed other evidence that horses she was training and racing had been administered excessive amounts of cobalt. Gilmour is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, she faces further suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the violation. Dawn M. DeVaux raced “Southwind Ike” at Monticello on March 22 with a cobalt blood level of 289 ng/ml on race day in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt. DeVaux is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, she faces further suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the violation. Additionally, the Commission continues to investigate the circumstances of more than 30 post-race samples with elevated levels of the alkaloid glaucine in Standardbred racehorses. This investigation includes researching claims of environmental contamination. Should the New York State Equine Drug Testing Laboratory’s research determine that glaucine was administered intentionally to harness horses, the Commission will take significant action against those involved. As with all cases where equine drug violations occur: · All affected horses have been disqualified and must test “clean” before racing again. · The Commission has ordered the owners of these horses to return any purses won in these races. “The Commission’s mission to preserve the integrity of New York’s horse racing continues unabated,” said Williams. “We will continue to use all tools necessary, including state-of-the-art race day and out-of-competition testing, surveillance and intelligence-gathering to rid our sport of those who cheat and jeopardize the welfare of horses.” Each trainer will be provided with a prompt hearing and opportunity to present a defense to the charges. Hearings are conducted de novo and final agency action will be based on the evidence presented at each hearing. From Rick Karlin from the Capital Bureau

Monticello, NY - For the first time in decades the NAADA winter/spring trotting series finally received enough entrants to present a consolation final when seven drivers who didn't make the top eight in points for eligibility in the series finale, obtained mounts for the $5000 series consolation today (Wed., April 6) at Monticello Raceway. And when the judges hung the official sign Tony Verruso emerged victorious after he guided his own Sam's Honeybee to a 2:02.2 victory. "Initially I wasn't thrilled about not making the Final but as it worked out maybe it was a blessing in disguise," Verruso said in the drivers room after the race. "I raced my mare in all the series legs but we were outclassed and failed to earn enough points for eligibility in that $15,000 Final tomorrow at Yonkers (Raceway), so winning this (consolation) gave us a bigger payday than we probably would have earned in the series finale." But winning todays consolation at Monticello Raceway wasn't an easy task for 19-1 Sam's Honeybee. But a cool heads-up drive by Verruso showed why he's one of the most talented amateur drivers on he circuits today. When the race began the three inside horses went off-stride on the first turn and the field scattered to avoid complications. "I skirted breaking horses by weaving in and out and finally settling in along the pylons in fourth (position) as we headed to the quarter pole," Verruso explained. Monica Banca, with Pixel Queen cleared the confusion on the first turn as did Bob Davis and Swift Blizzard but it was the lady who showed the way. Verruso was the first to move as the field trotted by the half and into the clubhouse turn. Up the backside Sam's Honeybee was gaining on Pixel Queen but Ms Banca and her charge still had command as they rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt. In the lane Sam's Honeybee was the strong horse as she trotted around Pixel Queen and on to a one length victory. Swift Blizzard held off a fast closing Bad I Am (Jim Marshall IV) for the show dough. Sams Honeybee, trained by Carl Gillispie, paid $40.80 for win. For Verruso, who is the president of the CKG Billings Series, it was his 61st driving victory. Thursday night (April 8) the eight drivers with the most points in the NAADA series will be do battle in the $15,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway. "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, last year's Amateur Driver of the Year, will handle the early favorite, Jacks To Open, from post six. by John Manzi, for NAADA

The final leg of the NAADA Winter Trotting Series was contested at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday afternoon (March 30) and once again both harness racing drivers Bob Kenney and Bobby Krivelin emerged victorious. Both gentlemen also copped the previous legs at Yonkers Raceway on March 17. But this time each reined a different horse home first; Kenney scored with Just Like Lloyd in 2:00 while Krivelin won with Permanent Joy in 2:00.2. The afternoon fans were treated brilliant sunshine and a bright blue ski but gusting winds and temperatures hovering around 58-degrees kept a chill in the air. In the first split Bobby Krivelin worked himself a great two-hole trip with Permanent Joy and he refused a parked-out Boysdroolgirlsrule (Joe Lee) any room to move down along the pylons in front of him. Nautilus De Vie and Dave Yarock had surged to the lead with Krivelin and Permanent Joy in hot pursuit and both trotters raced one-two around the double oval. During the entire mile Boysdroolgirlsrule challenged while racing on the outside. In the lane Krivelin moved his charge to the outside of Nautilus De Vie as Boydroolgirlsrule faded after his overland trip and Permanent Joy rallied to a one- length victory. Sam's Honeybee rallied from far back for third money. Krivelin was pleased when interviewed in the (race) paddock after the race. "He (Permanent Joy) never gets a harness on him (between races). I keep him out in a special pasture and only tow him along with another horse when we jog," Krivelin related. "He has a sore back so we like to keep the harness off him." Krivelin's, Hero Stable owns the winner and Krivelin also doubles as the trotter's trainer. He paid $4.80 for win. For the New York City food purveyor it was his fourth victory in series and he will garner the trophy as the highest point-earner the nine-race NAADA Winter Series. In the other split Bob Kenny took no prisoners and sent Just Like Lloyd down the road and they made every pole a winning one en route to short head victory over a stubborn Woody (Joe Lee). In that one, Just Like Lloyd drew off to an open-lengths lead with only Woody within striking distance when they headed for paydirt. Lee stalked the leader and when he pulled Woody out to challenge in mid-stretch they began closing in on the leader but they ran out of race track and finished second in the photo. Kenney, an IT Technician from Belchertown, MA is a relative new comer to the amateur driving scene although he has been with and around harness horses since his then girlfriend Linda Parrotta introduced Bob to harness racing back in 1972 at Hinsdale Raceway where her dad raced his horses. 'At that time Linda was my girlfriend and she still is after 42 wonderful years of marriage," Kenney said joyfully after he and Linda had explained Bob's introduction to harness racing while they walked back with the winner to the horse's paddock stall. Kenney, a big man at 6ft-5in, now has three wins, one second and three thirds this year in just nine starts. With just 15 drives since 2014 Kenney has reined seven winners. The winner, owned by Linda Kenney and The Di Stefano And Son Stable, and trained by John DiStefano. paid $5.30 for win. The series $15,000 final will be raced at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, April 7, although a $6,000 Consolation, if it fills, is offered at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday, April 6. by John Manzi for NAADA

In her first drive after recently receiving the National Amateur Driver of the Year Award in south Florida "Hurricane Hannah" Miller was back in the winner's circle again after copping a division of the harness racing NAADA Trotting Series with Warrawee Preferred at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (March 10). Ms. Miller, the first woman to be named Amateur Driver of the Year, received her award at the national Dan Patch Awards Banquet held in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. on March 6, and she seems to be picking up where she left off last year when the talented miss reined 32 winners. In a second split, Alan Schwartz with Bad I Am, and Dave Yarock up behind Mr. Invincible, finished simultaneously to score the first dead-heat victory ever recorded in recent amateur racing history. Both divisions were contested on a rainy afternoon over a race track rated 'good', and both competitive splits were decided by the photo finish camera. In her division Miller used a second over trip with Warrawee Preferred to wear down the favorite and pace-setter Nautilus De Vie (Dave Yarock) in the deep stretch to score a head victory in a 2:01.3 clocking despite racing with an unhooked check. "It (his overcheck) must have come unhooked somewhere in the mile and although he was running in on the turns he kept at his work and we overtook Dave's (Yarock) trotter in the final strides to win it," Miller said of Warrawee Preferred. Rev Up The Spice (Bob Kenny) and Bloomfieldcantifly (Monica Banca) finished third and fourth respectively and both were in the win photo. Owned by Dr. Scott Woogen and trained by Gary Messenger, Warrawee Preferred paid $9.20 for win.  The second split was a barn burner and it took the nudges five minutes to declare the race a dead-heat. The third place finisher, Just Like Lloyd (Bob Kenney) finished third a neck behind the winners and fourth place went to The B Street Fan (Matt Zuccarello) a short length in the rears in the 2:03.2 trotted mile. In that contest Dave Yarock and Mr. Invincible grabbed the race track when the gate sprung and parked Bad I Am (Alan Schwartz) to the quarter before letting them take command. "I was going to let Dave retake but since Bob Hechkoff (Alternat Thursdays) was also parked it never happened, " Schwartz explained. "But with me on the engine and Hechkoff parked it allowed Dave's horse to have a perfect covered trip." When the field trotted into the final turn Alternat Thursday was still third on the limb and when they swung into the stretch and Hechkoff's charge faded Yarock aimed his trotter up the passing lane and he and Bad I Am finished simultaneously on the wire. Bob Kenney and Just Like Lloyd were struggling for racing room and they finished just a neck behind the top two. B Street Fan was in the picture also, but a short length back in fourth place. Bad I Am, owned by Alan Schwartz and trained by Raheim Strong paid $5.10 for win. Mr. Invincible, owned and trained by Jimmy Doherty, Jr. paid $7.60. The NADDA Series continues at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, March 17. John Manzi for NAADA        

On Thursday afternoon harness racing driver Kyle Dibenedetto scored his 6000 win at Monticello Raceway, Kyle notched the win with Simply Rockin.  The son of Rockin Image made his Monticello Raceway debut a winning one after recently competing at Northfield Park.  The gelding won in wire to wire fashion for Owner - Trainer Michael Weiner of Woodridge NY.  Sent off at 1/5, he did not disappoint the betting public as he was any easy 10 length winner in 2:01:2. Back in November when Kyle was starting to get close to the milestone, the wins were spaced far apart. A jubilant Dibenedetto said in the winners circle “my daughter was joking with me when I was 15 shy of the milestone, she said Dad in the old days it would have only taken you 4 -5 days to get 15 wins, now’s it’s takes 4 – 5 weeks!” Kyle was welcomed to the winners circle by his fellow colleagues and well-wishers.   By Shawn F. Wiles

Although the sun was shining brightly but the gusting winds kept the temperature in the mid-20's at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (2-18), still the harness racing surface was in good shape for the two divisions of the trotting series sponsored by the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) . And when the judges posted the winners, Bobby Krivelin and David Yarock each emerged victorious in their respective splits. Krivelin moved to the top of the series leaderboard after he scored a come-from-behind victory with his Current Crisis in a time of 2:00.3. It marked Krivelin's second victory the five currently contested legs. Content to stalk the pace-setter, AJ Destiny driven by Bob Hechkoff, Krivelin followed the leader all the way until the homestretch at which point he moved Current Crisis off the pylons and they rallied to a neck victory. Windsun Galliano finished a neck behind AJ Destiny to garner the show dough for Peter Kleinhans. "He's an honest race horse and we had a good trip," Krivelin related after his victory. "We were getting a good trip so I waited until we straightened for home to challenge Hechkoff and when I pulled Current Crisis I knew he'd go on to win it." It was the 27th career victory for the former Maine colt trotting champion who is now owned by Krivelin's, Hero Stable. Current Crisis paid $6.10 for win. And for Krivelin, who has been competing regularly in amateur races since 1996, it was his 186th driving victory. Dave Yarock won the second division with Nautilus De Vie in a 2:02.3 clocking. Sent off at odds of over 4-1 Yarock sent the 6-year-old altered son of Credit Winner to the lead when the gate sprung and the duo was more than content to cut all the fractions. Despite the betting favorite, Just Like Lloyd (Robert Kenny), falling into the two hole on the first turn Yarock and his charge proceeded undauntedly on the front-end and they had two lengths on Kenny's trotter as the field headed for home. In the lane Just Like Lloyd began to gain on Nautilus De Vie but they ran out of racetrack and had to settle for second money a head behind the winner. Cassa's Image finished third for Bobby Krivelin. "I really thought we were the best before the race and I drove him like he was the best," Yarock said. "And he was,". "Junior (Jimmy Doherty Jr.-the horse's trainer) has worked real hard to make sure he was at the top of his game and he deserves a lot of credit." Owned by his driver, it was the first seasonal triumph for Nautilus De Vie who returned $10.80 for win. For Yarock it marked his 55th amateur driving victory. Now with 28 points Yarock is fourth on the leaderboard which is currently at the halfway point of the three- month series. By John Manzi for NAADA

Fresh off a season where her driving talents earned her 2015 National Amateur Driver of the Year honors Hannah Miller is back in the winner's circle after she copped a division of the North American Amateur Drivers Association trots at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, January 28. She shared the limelight that afternoon with harness racing driver Paul Minore who reined the winner in the other split. But it seems that "Hurricane Hannah" has picked up where she left off last year when she scored a front- end triumph with Jacks To Open in a time of 2:01.2. And for Minore, his 2:03 victory came behind his own trotter, Wygant Prince. In her division Miller sent the veteran trotter to the lead and was pressured by AJ Destiny and driver Bob Hechkoff. With the two leaders racing side by side toward the quarter pole Miller refused to grab into Jacks To Open so Hechkoff backed off and fell into the two-hole behind her. "He (Hechkoff) kept yelling to me to take a hold and let him go but I refused to grab into my horse because the last time I did that it cost me the race," she said referring to the $25,000 Billings Series Final when she got jammed and Jacks To Open jumped it off." And besides," she added, "he was real 'steppy' today anyway. After AJ Destiny settled in behind Jacks To Open Miller led the field by the halfway point and she was able to give her trotter a breather up the backside. As the field raced by the third stanza Woody and Joe Lee charged from behind to get along side Jacks To Open and the two races nearly side by side around the final turn. Although Woody was a threatening presence in the lane Jacks to Open had enough in the tank to rebuff the challenge and go on to a one length triumph. AJ Destiny held on for third money. Owned by Nick Surick and Hannah Miller Jacks To Open paid $4.00 for win. Paul Minore, a former high school coach who's most famous pupil was the great Olympic gold medalist, Carl Lewis, had no trouble in his contest with Wygant Prince. After starting from the four-hole Minore was content to be on the outside until everyone settled in along the pylons, and when they did he hustled Wygant Prince to the lead and they cruised on to an easy 2-1/2 length triumph. "I was waiting to get everyone settled before I sent my horse to the lead because he's especially good on the front-end," Minore said after the race. "He has been resting and out for a while and he came back real strong." Finishing second, some 2-1/2 lengths behind the winner, was Nautilus De Vie driven by Dave Yarock. Cassa's Image took home the show dough for owner -driver Bobby Krivelin. Sent off as the odds-on favorite Wygant Prince paid $3.80 for win. The next leg will be contested at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, Feb. 24. With the event scheduled last Saturday at Freehold Raceway snowed-out today's race became the second event in the 12-leg series which is slated to culminate in a $15,000 Final on April 7 at Yonkers Raceway. John Manzi

The new harness racing dynasty of Bruce Aldrich Jr. and Bob Lounsbury has begun at Monticello Raceway.     For the 2nd consecutive year both Aldrich and Lounsbury have captured their respective categories for leading Trainer & Driver at Monticello Raceway in 2015.   Bruce Aldrich Jr. took the leading driver title by virtue of his 390 wins and purses of $1,163,520 at Monticello Raceway, he is also ranked 4th in the nation with 663 wins and 3.4 million in purses. Bruce splits his time between Monticello and Saratoga, he was also the leading drivers at Saratoga with 273 wins.  James Taggart Jr. was runner up with 277, Taggart did most of the driving for leading trainer Robert Lounsbury.  Larry Stalbaum was 3rd with 220 wins, 2013 leading dash winner James Marohn Jr finished the year with 200 trips to the winners circle and rounding out the top 5, was Jason Ryan (199)  James Taggart had the most starts in the driving colony with 1539.     Monticello Raceways Rising Star Award winner Shawn Simons finished the year with respectable numbers of 18 wins and a UDRS of .193.   On the training side of the slate, Robert Lounsbury won the leading trainer title for the 2nd consecutive year and earned $469,272 in purses.  Lounsbury was also the leader percentage (UDRS) trainer in the nation with over 500 starts or more. The Lounsbury Stable led the pack with 183 winners for the year, this was 56 wins more than runner up Kim Asher of the powerful Larry Stalbaum Stable who was second with 127, Dan Gill (103) Gary Messenger (90) and Bruce Aldrich (45).   Robert Lounsbury also leads the filed as leading percentage trainer with a 100 starts or more with UDRS of .569, followed by Mike Watson .545 , Jennifer Lappe .488, David Russo .477 and Kimberley Asher .460.   By Shawn Wiles  

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