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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  

On Thursday afternoon December 3rd at Monticello Raceway, Jimmy Taggart Jr. won 5 races on the card, this capped off a productive week for Taggart. During the course of the week Taggart won 13 races, including a 4 bagger on Tuesday. James won the 2nd, 4th , 7th, 8th and the 10th and final race of the card with Amazing Quest for trainer Robert Lounsbury in 1:57:1. Taggart currently ranks in 2nd place for the most wins with 244, trailing Bruce Aldrich's total of 371, Jason Ryan holds a 1 win lead over Larry Stalbaum (190 -189) for 3rd place. The former Pocono Downs drivers has been calling Monticello Raceway home for the past 2 years with much success to show for it By Shawn Wiles

The answer to the trivia question of "What horse did Bruce Aldrich Jr. drive for his 6000th win is Unimpeachable". The performance came on a rain soaked day where 3 drivers had individual hat tricks. Bruce finished the day with 3 wins, as did James Devaux and Kyle DiBenedetto, who himself is a dozen wins away from his 6000th win. Bruce started the day by winning both half's of the Daily Double, but then DiBenedetto and Devaux went on their own hot streak to keep Aldrich at bay. After the race, Bruce was welcomed by many well-wishers in the winners circle, when interviewed in the winners circle after the win a jubilant Aldrich said "I am so happy that I got the win at Monticello Raceway, I have so many fond memories here, I would have been here sooner if I had driven my fathers horse in the in the 4th race, but I drove another mount and Kyle won with him!" Bruce Aldrich Jr. has been a longtime regular and favorite of Monticello Raceway, for years driving alongside his idol and mentor Billy "Zeke" Parker. Bruce has lifetime earnings in excess of $21.6 million. Unimpeachable came into the race winning his prior 2 starts, the 2 year old son of Artiscape, is owned and trained by Heidi Garofalo of Cincinnatus, NY. By Shawn Wiles

This year, more than ever before, the proliferation of amateur driving clubs has played a significant role in supplying horses to help fill betting races, especially at some racetracks on the east coast. And better yet, the public has come to feel as secure in wagering on the amateurs as they would on professional drivers. And what now has become a new normal, the participating amateurs are members of multiple clubs which among others include; the Billings series, The NAADA series, and at Monticello Raceway, the Catskill Club series. So it wasn't unusual that Tony Verruso, the president of Billings, also participated this season in the NAADA races as well as the Catskill offerings. On Thursday afternoon, Nov. 19, in the $7000 Final of the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club Series at Monticello Raceway Verruso scored a hard fought victory with Talldarknhandsome in a time of 2:00.4 over an extremely muddy racetrack. And, for the record, it was the third win the for that horse and driver combo in the five- race CADC series. Despite the inclement weather and the muddy racetrack the amateur drivers made a good showing with four horses on the wire at the finish. The eventual winner scooted to the lead from the two hole and took a seat behind the betting favorite, McCabe Hall (Tony Ciufettelli). Despite horses two and three wide in the early going Verruso was steadfast in holding his position until the field rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt, when at that point, he angled Talkldarknhandsome to the passing lane and under strong urging the veteran Lifesign gelding got up in the finals strides to overtake McCabe Hall and score th pacer's 16th win of the season. " The mud and the falling rain made it tough going out there today," Verruso said referring to the racing conditions on the track. "The outside flow just seemed to hang but that worked to my advantage since I was tight on Ciuffetelli's back right from the start. "When we reached the top of the stretch I angled the big guy to the passing lane he lumbered along slowly gaining ground with every long stride and at the finish he got his head in front of McCabe Hall for the victory. "He nice horse but he's so big that he has no real quick speed," Verruso added. "He needs constant urging but he usually gets the job done." Third place in the photo was Joe Lee with Dexter Jig while Paul Walker was fourth with Art;s Jimmy Ray, a half-length behind Dexter Jig. Talldarknhandsome, owned by Ed Hall and James Hall and trained by Dan Gill, paid $13.00 for win. For Verruso, it marked his sixth seasonal driving victory and the 59th of his amateur career. by John Manzi, for the Catskill Amateur Club

Monticello, NY - Each year since 1959 the Monticello Goshen Chapter USHWA has held an annual awards banquet to honor prominent people in the sport as well as the exploits of the local horses and horsemen who compete at Monticello Raceway and Goshen Historic Track and over the years, from the monies raised from those banquets, the chapter has donated tens of thousands of dollars to both Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. According to longtime harness racing publicist and past USHWA National president, John Manzi, the chapter members take pride in being able to donate money from those banquets back to the industry. "We are lucky to be based in the area where harness racing began and we feel it's our honor to donate annually to both Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame; after all, Goshen is to harness racing what Cooperstown is to baseball," Manzi says. This year's annual awards banquet, the 57th presented by the Monticello Goshen Chapter USHWA, will be held on Sunday evening November 22nd at The Fountains at the Wallkill Golf Club on Sands Road in Middletown, NY and once again it promises to be an outstanding gathering of great people in our sport. Besides honoring local horses and horsemen the chapter will also cite prominent industry people. This year the chapter's main honorees will be Betty Holt (Excelsior Award), Janet Terhune (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award), local columnist Barbara Bedell (Phil Pines Award), Hannah Miller (Amateur Driver of the Year), Ed Hart (John Gilmour Good Guy Award), Howard Oil (Award of Appreciation) and Shawn Simons (Rising Star Award) . The Banquet is open to the public and tickets are still available for anyone who would like to attend. The ticket price of $65 includes a one-hour open bar, a full course dinner and door prizes. It promises to be a fun night and tickets can be purchased by contacting Shawn Wiles at (swiles@empireresorts.com) or call him at 845-794-4100x458. Tickets can also be had by contacting Chris Tully at (Tullytrot@yahoo.com). Fom the Monticello Goshen Chapter USHWA

With the blowing wind and the intermittent rain making an awful afternoon for racing at Monticello Raceway professionals and amateurs alike had to be at the top of their game just to navigate the muddy racetrack. Arguably, going was the toughest for the participating amateurs who rarely drive during these kind of circumstances. Despite the deplorable conditions two NAADA trots, and one Catskill Club pace, dotted the 10-race Mighty M card and when the afternoon had ended Bobby Krivelin, Tony Ciuffetelli and Bob Hechkoff each were victorious in their contests. In the first of two NAADA trots, Krivelin, a three time Amateur Driver of the Year, got away slowly from post six with Permanent Joy and they continued forward movement and gradually gained on the pace-setter, Alternat Thursdays (Bob Hechkoff) who was leading the field by open lengths from the get-go. Fifth at the half and then fourth heading into the final turn Krivelin hustled his veteran gelding three-deep around traffic and at the top of the lane they took aim at Alternat Thursdays. By midstretch they had pulled even with the leader and under gentle urging Permanent Joy trotted by Alternat Thursdays and went on to a length victory in 2:01.3 over the muddy racetrack.Ozymandias, in from Saratoga, finished third for Matt Zuccarello "Going three deep on the final turn was winning move, " Krivelin chirped after the race. "If I didn't move around horses on the final turn Hechkoff would have gotten away from my horse and our fortunes would have been reversed." .Permanent Joy, owned by the Hero Stables and trained b y Krivelin paid $6.40 for win. A second NAADA Trot was a laugher for Bob Hechkoff's, No Recess. With the field shortened to six and a break before the start by Starsaboverallerage (Tony Verruso) No Recess burst to the lead and played catch me if you can which no one was able to do. Hechkoff got his charge over to a half in 1:01.2 and once he gave the trotter his head No Recess poured it on and began opening daylight on Windsun Galliano and Tony Ciuffetelli who was shadowing the leader. But No recess had too much class for this field and cruised to an easy six-length triumph in a 2:00.4 clocking. Windsun Galliano held second while Knockout Rosie and Bob Davis finished third, some 10 lengths behind the winner. This was No Recess's third consecutive victory and eighth of the year. Co-owned by RBH Ventures and Kyle Spanola and trained by Spagnola No Recess paid just $2.40 for win. The other amateur event, a pace in the Catskill Club's Series, saw Tony Ciuffetelli and McCabe Hall out-foot Hannah Miller's Rise Above It in the deep stretch to garner the lion's share of the purse. After racing on the lead from the reel, McCabe Hall braced for a stiff challenge by Rise Above It as the two headed into the final turn. Initially it appeared that Rise Above It was going to overtake McCabe Hall on the paddock turn but when they straightened for home McCabe Hall inched back to the lead and according to announcer Howard Oil's final words "McCabe Hall would not be denied!". At the wire the 13 year old Cambest gelding was a length better than Rise Above It in the 2:00.1 mile.Shark Treasure was third for Gerry Fielding. Ciuffetelli also owns and trains the winner who returned an $8.30 win mutuel. By john manzi for NAADA & the Catskill Club

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