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On Thursday afternoon July 20, young harness racing driver Austin Siegelman took advantage of the absence of two of the leading drivers at Monticello Raceway and scored five wins on the afternoons card. He struck in the first race of the day, scoring with Sturgeon Seelster in 1:58.4, the hot streak continued in the fourth race when he steered Literate Hanover to a wire to wire win for trainer William Mintz in 1:57.1. He got back on track in race ten and won the final three races of the day. Try's Little Prince scored a pocket sitting win in the 10th race, NY Whitesox won by three lengths in the fastest mile of the day 1:55.2 in the 11th and paid $3.50, the final win of the day came in the last race with the aptly named Winning, winning by 4 lengths in 1:56.3. The young Siegelman is currently in 7th place for leading dash winning drivers with 36 wins thus far this year at Monticello Raceway. By Shawn Wiles      

It was clear that the Monticello track record for harness racing three-year-old trotting colts and geldings was in jeopardy, on paper any three of the New York Sire Stakes heats had the power and ability of breaking the record. By the end of the day, all three divisions, either broke, tied or reset the record. The action got started right away in the first race, first division of the regular Sire Stakes, Money Macintosh left from the rail in the short field of five, and had the lead at the first stanza in 28.2, not content to sit the pocket Jordan Stratton pulled Lord Cromwell and re-took lead before the half ½ in 57.3. Going down the backside Money Macintosh and Texican were both first over and in high gear, breathing down the Lords back and tripping the timer at 1:27.3. Money Macintosh had two lengths on the field as they turned for home, and won by the same margin in a track record of 1:56.1. The mark of 1:56.1 erased the mark set by Habitat of 1:56.3. The Credit Winner - Apple Plush filly was trained and driven by team Miller for owners Story Inc. of Township NJ. It was the first win of the year for Money Macintosh, Dexter Cup winner Lord Cromwell tired in deep stretch and finished 3rd. The sharp looking son of Chapter Seven, Neon Lights and Brian Sears let Cresurrey show the way briefly, but by the ¼ mile pole Neon Lights was on the move first over and had the lead and showed the field thru panels of 28.2, 57.1 1:26.3 to win by two lengths over Arch Credit (Jordan Stratton) and Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) in 1:56.1, tying the track record set six races prior for 3 YOTC's. The 1/5 betting favorite Guardian Angel AS made a break at the start and lost all chances, but rallied to make up a ton of ground and held on gamely to finish fourth. The win was Neon Lights first NYSS trip to the winner's circle in 2017, for trainer George Ducharme, and paid $26.40 to win. The race of the day came in race eight, final heat of the regular Sire Stakes, Eye OFA Tiger AS was seeking his fourth-straight win, the son of Chapter Seven, went down the road and lead at every station 28.1, 58.0, 1:27 and scored a scant neck wire to wire victory over a tough Stick With Kid to re-established a new track record of 1:56. Eye OFA Tiger AS is trained by Anette Lorentzon and was driven into the record books by Jason Bartlett and returned $3.20. The Walner looking clone has now earned over $90,000 for owners ACL Stuteri and Kjell Johansson Aces and Eights finished 3rd The Excelsior A series saw Zacks Zoomer win by a head in 1:57.3, narrowly defeating Winneress for the Marcus Miller - Erv Miller team. Big Man EV gave Andy Miller his second win of the afternoon in 1:57.2, besting Sweetchap by a scant head for his second win of 2017. Southwind Cruze (Chapter Seven) scored in 1:59.2 for Team Miller, giving them the hat trick. In Excelsior B competition Deepwell (Conway Hall) won by 2 lengths in 1:59.4 - $15.00, for trainer Ed Hart and driver Jordan Stratton and Too Much Man held off Barn Winner for driver Paul Long in 1:58.2, for his 4th win of the year. Chapter Seven had three sons entering the winners circle, total handle on the 13-race card was $520,133, Pick 5 carryover for tomorrows card is $1,520.00. The next Sire Stakes are 2-Year-Old Colt Pacers on July 24th. By Shawn Wiles  

As Monticello Raceway announcer Howard Oil would say "they're coming from everywhere" that's what race Secretary Eric Warner thought when he opened the box for the harness racing 3 Year old Trotting Colts for Monday July 17. He had 52 entries in the box, forming 3 regular division of Sire Stakes ($39,200) 3 heats of the Excelsior A class ($15,000) and 2 Excelsior B's ($6,000) in total racing for purses in excess of $175,000. Dexter Cup winner Lord Cromwell will get the action started in the first race on the card, he will start from post 3 in the 6 horse field. The Ed Hart trained son of Chapter Seven - Oh Oh Its Magical already has $110,000 on his card this year and a mark of 1:55 taken in his Dexter Cup victory. Dunbar Hill has the fastest lifetime mark of the group 1:54.1 taken at an overnight at Mohawk, this will be his test in Sire Stakes company. Texican and Royal Casanova are moving up from the Excelsior A class and trying their luck in the big league. The second division on paper looks to be the race of the day, with the track record jeopardy, the record is 1:56.3 set in 2015 by Habitat. Swedish trainer Anette Lorentzon brings the razor sharp Guardian Angel AS to the contest, an easy 8 length NYSS winner last week at Buffalo in 1:57.1 and a 12 length romp at Yonkers in 1:56.3, 2 starts prior. The Archangel - Provide As filly has 5 wins and a 2nd in 7 starts this year and $77,000 in earnings. Optimist Blue Chip has visited the winners circle 5 times already this year, his last win came at Saratoga in 1:55 2 weeks ago for trainer Buzzy Sholty. A winner earlier in the year in the Excelsior A's, this will be his first attempt at the regular Sire Stakes. Bruce Aldrich Jr. will be in the bike. Race 8 features Eye OFA Tiger AS, the interesting home bred son of Chapter Seven - Seven Cascade - Mack Lobell, is owned by ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. She will be driven by Jason Bartlett and will start from post 2, she sports a 3 race win steak, and his start was a NYSS win at Buffalo in 1:57.2. The consistent Stick With Me Kid (PP4) with Brian Sears will also be in the fray for trainer George Ducharme. The first Excelsior A heat come in race 3, DW's Revenge (PP7) has 2 wins in this class thus far this year, a 5 time winner this year, recent Hall of Famer inductee Brian Sears will be in the bike. Race 7, pits 3 A class winners in the same dash, Sweetchap (PP3), Patton (PP6) and morning line favorite Big Man EV (PP4). The last spilt of the A class, comes in race 10, Southwind Cruze and Andy Miller from the rail are the 5/2 morning line favorite by virtue of his 2 consecutive 2nd place finishes in this class. In the 2nd race, the uniquely colored New York Chrome, will start from post position 4 in the 7 horse field, in the Excelsior B class. The son of Deweychetumnhowe was a winner last year at Monticello and took his 2 year old mark of 2:01.3. The chestnut gelding won in the same fraternity 2 starts ago at Buffalo. Post Time for the 13 race card is 12:50 By: Shawn Wiles

Joe Lee, the New York Yankees assistant locker room manager and avid amateur driver, shocked the bettors at Monticello Raceway on Thursday July3) when he guided TKRs Metro Specs to a 1:58 victory in a Catskill Amateur Club Pace which in turn and sparked a $82.50 payoff. In all, three amateur contests dotted the 13-race Mighty M afternoon card; others were trots in the North American Amateur Drivers Association's Sumer Series. Alan Schwartz won his NAADA division with Ladys Big Storm in 1:59.4 while Dave Yarock reined Czech It Out to a 2:01.4 triumph in their split. Besides the foreboding rain the biggest topic of conversation among the railbirds was Joe Lee's shocker behind Woody Hoblitzell's TKR's Metro Specs. In this contest a sidebar could have been that three women were driving in the race but Lee's payoff stole the show. After starting from the eight- hole Lee send his pacer toward the front but they didn't gain command until they got around Bob Hechkoff's Italian Rebel as the quarter mile timer flashed :28.2. After passing the half in :58.2 Lee kept the pedal to the medal and turned back all comers to score a 1-1/4 length victory over Bob Davis and World Peace. One of the aforementioned ladies, Hannah Miller, finished third with Touchdown Mindale. "I've driven him (TKR's Metro Specs) a few times before and even won with him here at Monticello in late June," Lee offerred after the race "We were on the front-end in that one and I learned that he needs to be yelled at to keep him busy.So when we made the front today and headed to the half I screamed at him all the way home." In the first NAADA trot Schwartz also used the front-end with Ladys Big Stormont en route to victory over a fast-closing Landonfitz and Dave Yarock. Like TKRs Metro Specs , Schwartz' trotter didn't make the lead until the first stanza and even with early fractions of :27.3 and :58.3 Ladys Big Stormont held tough through the lane. Despite his shortening strides in the deep stretch Ladys Big Stormont held on for a head victory over Landonfitz. Permanent Joy took home the show dough for Bobby Krivelin. "My horse is best on the front-end but I can't always get him there," Schwartz offered. "When I race him from a hole he just doesn't like to pass horses. If we're third at the top of the stretch we'll probably finish third. "He was real good today probably because I had him turned out at my farm for three days and the green grass and the change of scenery seem to do something positive." Sent off as the betting favorite from the five-hole Ladys Big Stormont paid $5.80 for win. Dave Yarock got Czech It Out home first in the other NAADA Trot.After floating away from the four hole Yarock moved second-up behind Alan Schwartz with Keep It Sweet as the field headed to the halfway point. But when Schwartz's trotter began to fade nearing the three quarters Yarock wheeled Chech It Out three wide and in the deep stretch they wore down the pace-setter Highest Hill (Rich Gayten) for a length victory over Shez All Muscles and driver Bob Davis. Highest Hill held on for third. "The last time he (Czech It Out) raced he made a break behind the (starting) gate so I just wanted to keep him trotting. When I pulled him three wide up the backstretch he just kept rolling and we won it fairly easily," a happy Dave Yarock said Chezh It Out returned an $8.30 win mutuel. John Manzi

The 2017 New York Sire Stakes seasons kicks off on Tuesday July 11 at Monticello Raceway when harness racing 3 year old trotting fillies take center stage. Going to the gate are 2 division of Sire Stakes, each split racing for $59,100, 3 heats of the Excelsior A class ($15,000) and 2 heats of the Excelsior B class, going for a purse of $6,800 each. The first heat of regular Sire Stakes is in race 1, pits the top 2 fillies of the state, Barn Bella and Mamora Bay. Barn Bella who won last year's NYSS Final will start from the rail, with regular diver Jeff Gregory. The Conway Hall - Bravissima is filly is owned by Steven & Nancy Pratt & Purple Haze Stable and sports a respectable tally of $354,645 in lifetime earnings and a lifetime mark of 1:51.3, taken in the Empire Breeders Classic last month at Tioga Downs. She come into the race with 6 wins in 7 starts this year, her only miscue came Buffalo Raceway when she made a break and opened the door for bridesmaid Mamora Bay. Mamora Bay (PP6) is very familiar with the Monticello oval as she won as a 2 year old in 2:00:1 at the Mighty M oval. The Chapter Seven - Giulie lass has a win and a 2nd in Sire Stakes competition thus far this year. She will be driven by trainer Sam Schillaci for owner Peter F. Barbato of Demarest, NJ. Thus far this year in Sire Stakes competition she had a win last week at Buffalo in 1:59.4 and a 2nd place finish Tioga Downs, with $41,433 earned in 2017 and a mark of 1:57.3. She comes into the race with a solid base under her with 4 qualifiers and 3 stakes events under her belt, she will need to be tight starting from the outside. Race 8, features the 2nd heat of Sire Stakes with 6 starters. Celebrity Ruth, 5-2 morning line, starting from PP2 looks to be the one to beat, fresh off her 2nd place finish in the Empire Breeders Classic. She has 1 NYSS win this year at Tioga, and finished 2nd in the Lady Suffolk. The Archangel - filly has earned $90,971 thus far this year with a record of 1:53.4 is trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer for owner White Birch Farm. Maewegonow (PP4) trained and driven by the capable Charlie Norris will also be in the hunt, she was 2nd last start at Buffalo behind Maewegonow, and visited the winners circle at Tioga Downs in the same company On paper Prairie Diamonds (Diamond Goal - Princess Cosette) looks the one the to beat in the first heat of the Excelsior A Class in race 2, fresh off her win at Tioga Downs in 1:56.4 in overnight company, she will start from PP 4 and is 3-1. Cinnamon Prayer (PP7) sports a 4 race win streak coming in to the 3rd race, the Prayer I Am - Cinnamon Caviar filly is trained by the Dennis Laterza, who is always a threat at Monticello and will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr and is owned by Roy Dobbins. The last division of the A class, race 6, features local talent Comfort To A Fool (Credit Winner-I Promisenottotell) she is trained longtime Monticello horseman Gary Messenger and co-owned by Messenger in conjunction with Scott Woogen. Post time for the afternoons Sire Stakes action is at 12:50 By Shawn Wiles

Monticello Raceway held its famous fireworks over the weekend, but harness racing driver Jimmy DeVaux put on his own fireworks show Wednesday afternoon at Monticello Raceway by winning 5 races. Leading trainer Dolores Basilone harnessed 4 of DeVaux's winners on the afternoon card. DeVaux is the leading dash driver this year at Monticello Raceway with 192 wins, followed by Jim Taggart Jr. (135) and Bruce Aldrich (122). DeVaux currently is in 5th place at Saratoga Raceway with 72 wins. His combined season tally is 264 wins, with earnings of $1,131,825 and a healthy UDRS of .333 Not wasting anytime DeVaux swept both ends of the early double with For Kevin's Sake ($2.70) and Flunky's Girl ($5.00) DeVaux and Basilone were successful in the 4th race with Mystical Con ($4.00) and the 5th race with JJ's Doughnut ($3.20) Win number 5 came in the 6th race with Majestic Jo ($2.80) for trainer Dawn DeVaux. Shawn Wiles

On Sunday evening,( July 2nd,) at the Hall of Fame Banquet on the lawn of the Harness Racing Museum "Hurricane Hannah" Miller was presented with the Hall of Fame Amateur Driver's Award for the second consecutive season. Then the next day, she went out and won two amateur driving contests over the famed double oval at Historic Track. "Both horses were very good today," Hannah said via email. "I didn't really get the trip I wanted with Pine Tab in race seven but it ended up working out. "When we rounded the first turn in that one I was able to get a hole (along the pylons) but I didn't want to get locked in so I chose to move him early. We didn't clear Joe Pennacchio and Current Crisis until midway up the backstretch but once Pine Tab made the front he felt strong and went on to a two-length victory." After finishing back in Hidden Identity's last two starts Hannah decided to change her strategy and send the veteran trotter to the lead where he seems to race his best. On June 1st ,in a Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway, she put the grand old campaigner on the front-end and he went wire to wire to and scored an easy victory. "In Hidden's race today I was able to get him out of the gate good and get him to the front where he does his best work. We had a late challenge around the final turn but when I pulled the (ear) plugs we trotted away from LandonFitz (Dave Yarock) and were an easy three-length winner," Miller said, and then added "It was a great day overall and I was lucky to have my family with me." In the first Billings Trotting division Bobby "Hot Rod Chevie" Ciavardini won his first race since 1990 when he guided Baltimor AS to a 2:02.1 victory over Pocket Passer and driver Tony "the Capo" Verruso. After starting from the pole position Ciavardini took early command and then yielded to Pocket Passer and allowed him to cut the fractions. After rebuffing challenges, Verruso and his charge led the way until the top of the stretch where Ciavardini, who traveled along in the catbirds seat moved Baltimor AS out for the stretch run and they trotted away to a three-length triumph over Pocket Passer. Ciavadini had been a racing participant back in the 1980's but switched careers and returned to the racing venues recently after retiring from the construction business. "I didn't drive for 27 years, but about a month ago I got my first drive. I think this my fifth. Right now, I'm having a ball even though my wife thinks I'm crazy,"Ciavardini said with a chuckle. by John Manzi

Monticello Raceway will have its annual Fireworks show on Sunday July 2nd at 10 pm. For decades the Monticello Raceway fireworks have been lighting up the sky and bringing smiles to many. Executive Director of Racing & Facilities Shawn Wiles, noted that there is a slight departure from the norm, and that there will be no live Harness Racing that evening. Admission is free for the fireworks display. Monticello Raceway will resume its normal live racing schedule of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with a 12:50 pm post time, with and day and evening simulcasting also available in the comfort of its state of the art Simulcasting room. The season's first New York Sire Stakes event will be held on July 11, where 3 year old filly trotters will take the stage. Shawn Wiles

It was only one start but for Francesco Laosa a chance to drive a pacer proved fruitful when the Sicilian professional harness racing finished second in the one race that he drove at Monticello Raceway on Thursday, June 22. According to his friend Marco Barone who doubled as his interpreter, the Italian speaking professional driver and his wife Carola are celebrating their honeymoon with a two week holiday in North America. And through some help from friends LaRosa made a connection with Monticello trainer Dan Gill who offered him a drive behind one of his pupils, Park it Park It, a 4-year-old altered son of Big Bad John. Sent off at odds of 8-1 from the three hole in race five LaRosa allowed John DeSimone and Eye Candy to take the lead and then was comfortable with a two-hole trip all the way. However, in the lane Park It Park It flattened out and couldn't gain on the pace-setter and finished second a length behind Eye Candy in the 1:57paced mile. Asked how it felt to drive a pacer LaRosa replied through his translator, Barone:" It was smooth and steady," and then added "the pacer was easier to handle than a trotter." A winner of a few hundred races in his homeland the opportunity to drive a pacer was special to the 30 year LaRosa since only trotters are raced in Italy, and for that matter all though continental Europe. LaRosa and his dad handle a considerable stable based in Palermo, Sicily. Their horses compete at racetracks in Palermo, Siracusa, Garigliano and Naples as well as various racetracks in southern Italy. After the Monticello race Francesco and Carola, along with Mario Barone and his son Rylee, were headed to the Big Apple . After a short stay in New York City the LaRosa's will be on to California and then to Cancun, Mexico before returning home to Sicily The Barones will leave NYC and head back to their home in the upper peninsula of Michigan. By John Manzi

On Thursday June 23, with the sun bright in the blue summer sky and the temperature hovering around 80-degrees, two amateur races dotted the 11-race harness racing card at Monticello Raceway and when the judges hung the official signs, Alan Schwartz emerged victorious in the NAADA trot with Ladys Big Stormont in a 1:58.4 clocking while Joe Lee was the first home in the Catskill Club pace with TKR's Metro Specs in 1:59.1 In his contest Schwartz hustled his trotter for the lead but they had to go a steppy :27.4 in order to rest command from Highest Hill and driver Rich Gayton. But once Ladys Big Stormont cleared and settled down along the pylons Schwartz tried to give his charge a breather but as they trotted to the halfway point Bob Hechkoff was out and moving with The Franchise and they ranged alongside the leader as the timer flashed :58.1. The two leaders raced head-to-head up the backside but Ladys Big Stormont was strong enough to rebuff his challenger. When the field headed for home Ladys Big Stormont opened up two lengths and he needed every bit of that to turn back a late charge by Hannah Miller with Rev It Now. "My horse went a tough mile especially being parked to the(first) quarter in 27:4 and then having to fight head to head with Hechkoff's horse," Schwartz said after the race. "We did draw clear as we headed for home but my guy was understandably tiring and all I could think of in the deep stretch was 'where the heck is the wire'" When the photo-finish camera snapped Ladys Big Stormont was a head better than Rev It Now . A short length farther back in third place was The Franchise. Schwartz owns the winner whose trained by Raheim Strong. Sent off as the even-money favorite Ladys Big Stormont paid $4.00 for win. Schwartz has been participating in amateur races since the 1980's and now has 585 driving victories to his credit. A long time participant at Monticello Raceway against professionals he also serves as president of the local horseman's organization. In the other amateur driving contest New York Yankees assistant locker room manager, Joe Lee once again proved he knows his was around the racetrack after scoring is eighth seasonal driving victory this time with the Woody Hoblitzell-owned TKRs Metro Specs. Sent off as the hot favorite from the pole position Lee naturally sent his pacer to the lead and once on top they commanded the race and kept Monica Banca's Fox Valley Leo, who won this event last week, on the limb. After a :28.3 first quarter Lee slowed the pace and his horse was steadfastly in charge as they led the field by the half in:59.2 and the three quarters in 1:29.2 As they rounded the final turn TKRs Metro Specs had a two length lead which was slowly diminishing as they headed for paydirt. Kennanskingwilliam was enjoying a two-hole trip and driver Gerry Fielding used the passing lane to put serious pressure on the leader. However, at the wire TKR Metro Specs held tough for a head triumph in the 1:59.1 mile. Third place went to Murphy's Ideal, driven by Dr. Jennifer Lowrey. "We had clear sailing all the way until the final strides when my pacer began to get a little leg-weary," driver Joe Lee noted "Although Fielding's horse was coming at us my horse was strong enough to get home with the victory. Trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr., TKR's Metro Specs won for the third time this season and returned a $4.20 win mutuel. By John Manzi for both NAADA and the Catskill Club  

Score one for the president... the Billings president, that is. At Monticello Raceway on the ides of June Billings Series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. took no prisoners en route to a gate to wire 2:00.2 victory with Flirting Duezy in an east region haarness racing Billings trot. When the starter said 'go' Verruso hustled the 8-year-old Victory Sam mare to the lead and kept moving to allow the trailing horses to find a spot along the pylons. After leading the field by the first quarter in:29:2 Verruso let his mare have her head and she trotted the next quarter in 31 seconds which kept anyone from moving out to challenge her lead. They had two lengths on the field as Flirting Duezy trotted by the third stanza in 1:30.2 and when the field headed for home she was still the strong horse and rebuffed a late charge by The Franchise and driver Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff. She's All Muscles finished third for "Buffalo Bob" Davis. "Knowing that my mare is quick off the gate I sent her to the front and tried to get the trailing horses in line behind us. And it worked out just like I planned. She's game on the lead. Back in mid-May, while on the engine, she won handily in 1:58.3", Verruso said after race. Owned by Betsy Phillips and Carl Gillespie and trained by Gillespie, Flirting Duezy was dismissed by the betting public and paid $22.60 for win. For the current Billings president it was his 67th career driving victory. Also on the June 15th card, another talented female driver, Monica Banca, bided her time and then rallied Fox Valley Leo to a 1:58.3 victory in the Catskill Amateur Club Pace. "I had a good trip," Banca said when she returned to the paddock after her victory. She gunned her pacer to the lead from the five-hole and then allowed Joe Lee and TKR'S Metro Specs to take command before the first quarter timer flashed :28.3. With Lee's pacer showing the way and Banca's pacer snug in the two hole ,they raced one-two until the final strides in the deep stretch when Fox Valley Leo rallied down the passing lane to a head triumph over TKR's Metro Specs. Kennanskingwilliam was third for Jerry Fielding. "I was glad to let Joe's horse take the lead and sit behind him," Banca added. "And I think because I had cover my horse was the strongest at the end of the mile." Fox Valley Leo is owned and trained by Rick Dane. The 7-year-old Yankee Skyscraper gelding paid $12.60 for win. And for the Norwegian-born Banca it was her third driving victory in just four seasonal starts by John Manzi for the Billings Series and the Catskill Amateur Club's race

On the pleasant and sun shiny afternoon of June 8th amateur harness racing took center stage at Monticello Raceway with two amateur club events dotting the 12 race card. The first, a NAADA trot ,saw Bob Krivelin bide his time and rally Permanent Joy to a 1;59.2 victory while in the second, a Catskill Amateur Club pace , went to Monica Banca and Jay Bees Grin N and in a 1:58.3 clocking. Many of the participating drivers are members of both amateur clubs. Krivelin, a three-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, worked out a good journey with his 9-year-old Trot For Joy gelding and was the strong horse in the lane. When the wings of the mobile gate folded Paul Minore sent Wygant Prince to the lead and they cut the early fractions trotting by the first stanza in :28.3 with Permanent Joy comfortable in third position. Wygant Prince was on the front end as the field trotted by the half in :59.1 with none of the trailers taking a shot at the leader. As they trotted by the three quarters in 1:29.2, Krivelin and Permanent Joy took aim at Wygant Prince but they didn't clear until they came off the final turn but when they did Krivelin's charge took command and trotted on to a one length triumph over Fox Valley Steffen (John Kokinos), who was later disqualified for a racing infraction. Third place finisher Flirting Duesy driven by Tony Verruso was moved up the second and fourth place finisher Wygant Prince was granted the show dough. Krivelin, no stranger to the winners circle, was quick to comment that Permanent Joy didn't have a harness on him since he last raced on May 18. "I keep him at my farm in Goshen and tow him because he's not easy to handle when he's harnessed-up," Krivelin said." But in a race he's a sweetheart and you can drive him with two fingers." Sent off at odds of over 5-1 Permanent Joy notched his third seasonal triumph and his 33rd of his racing career. And for Krivelin it was his 208th winning drive. The Catskill Amateur Club pace went Monica Banca after she gave Jay Bees Grin N a covered journey until the top of the lane and then rallied her pacer down the passing lane to score a 1-1/2 length triumph over Joe Lee and TKR's Metro Specs in a 1:58.3 clocking. Lightning Strike finished third for John Kokinos. After the race Banca admitted that she felt fine but prior to the event she said she was nervous. But if she was a bit tense she didn't show it .She gave her pacer a picture perfect trip and rallied the New Zealand-bred gelding to his fifth seasonal triumph. It was the first time that she sat behind Jay Bees Grin N and for the talented horse-woman who is originally from Norway, it marked her second win in just three seasonal starts and her 16th driving victory in her career which began in 2013. The winning horse is owned and trained by Rick Dane. Sent off the odds-on favorite from the two hole Jay Bees Grin N paid $3.60 for win. by John Manzi

Two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, blew away her competition in the Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (June 1) when she guided Hidden Identity to an oh-so-easy gate to wire harness racing victory over six others in a 2:00.2 clocking Unfazed by starting on the far outside from post seven, Miller hustled her charge to the front as the wings of the mobile starting gate folded and they had command even before the first turn. "He's a real nice horse to drive and I didn't have to do much other than just give him his head and we were on top almost immediately" Hannah said After a :29.2 first stanza Hidden Identity seemed to be on cruise control as the 10 year old altered son of Angus Hall had the field lined-up behind him and none of the trailing horses were game enough to take a shot at the leader in a 1:00.3 first half. As the field headed up the backside for the second time Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso had Sam's Honeybee tight on Hannah's back and they raced one-two by the third stanza in 1:30.4. But after that it was Katie bar the door as Hidden Identity began to open daylight on the field. At the top of the lane Hannah had two lengths on the rest of the field which her trotter effortlessly opened to five at the a 2:00.2 clocked mile "Even though he was so strong throughout the mile when we headed for home I still pulled the (ear) plugs but I really didn't have to. We were easily home free" Ms. Miller said. Sam's Honeybee held on for second money while Wygant Prince , driven by "Coach Paul" Minore kept Woody and "Yankee Joe" Lee at bay for the show dough. Hidden Identity is owned and trained by Tom Milici , Sent off as the odds-on favorite he paid $2.80 for win. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Schenectady, NY --- The New York State Gaming Commission today indefinitely suspended harness owner, trainer and driver Michael S. Weiner for racing four horses at Monticello Raceway doped with mitragynine, a dangerous drug with performance enhancing and analgesic effects similar to cocaine and morphine. Commonly known as Kratom and derived from the plant Mitragyna speciosa that grows only in Southeast Asia, there is no legitimate reason for mitragynine to be found in any race horse. Kratom is a controlled substance in many countries and has been declared a “drug of concern” by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency with no known legitimate industrial, agrochemical, chemical, human or veterinary medical use. The drug was found in Weiner’s horses through the introduction of an analytical detection methodology by the New York Drug Testing and Research Program (NYDTRP). To date, it has not been identified in any other racing jurisdiction. After the NYDTRP identified the presence of Kratom, the lab conducted a drug administration trial to substantiate that administration had occurred within one week of the horses’ races in clear violation of Commission rules. “This dangerous drug has no business anywhere in horse racing,” said Ronald Ochrym, the Commission’s Director of Horse Racing and Pari-Mutuel Wagering. “Thanks to the innovative work of the New York Drug Testing and Research Program, this individual is no longer participating in the sport and we are on the lookout for additional cheaters.” Weiner trained four horses that raced at Monticello Raceway on February 2, 3 and 7, 2017. Bupa Bruiser finished first in the third race at Monticello on February 2, 2017 French Lick finished fifth in the third race at Monticello on February 3, 2017 Vernon Belle finished second in the seventh race at Monticello on February 3, 2017 Majestic Jo finished first in the fifth race at Monticello on February 7, 2017 All four horses have been disqualified and Weiner’s share of purses in the above mentioned races have been ordered returned. Effective today, Weiner is summarily suspended and is excluded from all New York tracks. Upon full adjudication by the Commission, Weiner could ultimately have his license to participate revoked and face up to $25,000 in fines per violation. A hearing on the matter is currently scheduled for June 2. What is Mitragynine? Click here. More here Chemists study the neurochemistry of alkaloids from the Mitragyna plant In study after study, Mitragynine is called out as the most prevalent and potent alkaloid in the kratom leaf’s arsenal. Unintentional Fatal Intoxications with Mitragynine by Lee Park, director of communications, New York State Gaming Commission 

Tony "the Capo" Verruso took charge in the Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (May 18) and went right on down the road with Flirting Duezy and made every pole a winning one en route to a 1:58.1 harness racing triumph. "We had the pole and I wanted her to be on the muscle so I scored her down hard," the Billings president said in the paddock after his driving victory. "But I didn't expect her to be on the bit as strong as she was and when we got behind the (mobile starting) gate I had all I could do to hold her." Flirting Duezy zipped to the lead and took the field by the first stanza in :28.3. "I tried backing her off but she had a mind of her own at that point. So I left her cruise right along and we passed the half in :58.3 and got by the three quarters in 1:27 and 2," Verruso added. At that point Flirting Duezy was two lengths in front of Avivas Winner, who was being driven by "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli. But Avivas Winner could get no closer and he chased the eventual winner to the wire still two lengths in the rears as the photo finish camera snapped. Third place went to the betting favorite, AJ's Destiny, who was handled by "Buffalo Bob" Davis. Flirting Duezy, is owned by Carl Gillespie and Betsy Phillips and trained by Gillespie. It was the third seasonal victory for the 8-year-old daughter of Victory Sam and the first victory of the year for Verruso who has driven 66 winners in his amateur driving career. However, the day was not over for the Billings president. After the Monticello race he headed to Yonkers Raceway where he's slated to drive his own Sam's Honeybee in the $15,000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Associations Spring trotting series. John Manzi

It was Joe Lee day at Monticello Raceway on Thursday May 11. The New York Yankees assistant locker room manager won both divisions of the NAADA Trotting Series at the Sullivan County harness racing oval. He won the first split, race six on the betting card, with Hidden Identity in a 2:00.4 clocking and then came back to score an easy 1:59.3 victory behind Tim Lizzie in race eight. Known as "Yankee Joe" in amateur driving circles because of his professional vocation Lee had a smile a mile wide after he handed the lines to trainer Bruce Aldrich, Sr. when he got off from Tim Lizzie's sulky. "This is my first driving double", he said gleefully. "And my parents were here today to see it which made the whole afternoon just that much better." In the first NAADA trot Lee was up behind the betting favorite Hidden Identity from the pole position and he sent the 10-year-old Angus Hall gelding to the lead and they led the field by the first stanza in :29.3. They were in front past the half in 1:01 and from there it was catch me if you can and no one could as Hidden Identity had enough in the final strides to hold off "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and Rev It Now in the 2:00.4 clocked mile. Permanent Joy was third for Bobby Krivelin. "He was super today," Lee said after reining Hidden Identity to victory. "We got a breather going to the half and because of that he was strong all the way to the wire," Lee said after his driving victory and then pointed out that it was the trotter's third consecutive victory. Owned and trained by Tom Milici of Montgomery, NY. Hidden Identity scored his fourth seasonal triumph and paid $3.90 for win. The second division reeled out completely different than the first. Despite leaving from the pole position Joe Lee and Tim Lizzie got away slowly in the six-horse field. After two trotters broke stride before the start Tim Lizzie settled in fourth position and Lee was content to stay back from the lead as Bobby Krivelin and Current Crisis showed the way. As the short field headed up the backside the second time around Lee, still in fourth place, reeled his charge to the outside and then went three-deep and they were in front before the final turn. From there it was all Tim Lizzie as he finished a comfortable two lengths ahead of Current Crisis in the 1:59.3 trotted mile. Third place went to Pocket Passer with Tony Verruso at the controls. "With the short field I was content to follow the leaders because I know my horse has a good kick at the end of a mile and I was especially comfortable since there were fast fractions up front," Lee said. "The last time I drove Tim Lizzie he got steppy as we headed to the three quarters and then he finally made a break. But this time I was intent to not let that happen again and he was hitting on all four once Lizzie got in high gear and we had no trouble passing horses and cruised to an easyvictory" Owned by Woody Hoblitzell of Destin, Fla and trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr. Tim Lizzie paid $17.20 for win. However, no sooner had the eighth race finished Joe Lee was off to his real job at Yankee Stadium where the Bronx Bombers are playing against the Houston Astros tonight by John Manzi for Historic Track  

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