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The second legs of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) and the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club (CADC) 10-week series were contested on Thursday, June 23 at Monticello Raceway and upon the completion of the afternoon card NAADA winners included Alan Schwartz and Dein Spriggs while Hannah Miller copped the CADC pace. Schwartz won with Armstead Kyra in 2:00.3 while Spriggs was victorious with Saint Patty's Doll in 2:00.2. "Hurricane Hannah" romped by over three lengths with Tijuana Party in 1:58.4. In their contest Schwartz and Armstead Kyra's biggest challenge was how to handle Bob Hechkoff's recent purchase Photosavvy whose prowess in his previous races impressed the bettors enough to send them away at odds of even money. However, on the first turn Photosavvy made a break which allowed Schwartz's charge to cruise along unchallenged on the front end. They traveled through fractions of :30; 1:00.2 and 1:30.2 and then held off a late charge from Hannah Miller and Lou Lous Princess to hold on for a head victory in 2:00.2. Joe Lee took home the show dough with Woody. "This was the first time I drove her (Armstead Kyra) and I was real careful with her leaving out of there. The last time she had the pole she made a break at the start so I didn't want that to happen with me today," Schwartz said after his driving victory. As the field rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt in that event Lou Lous Princess, who had a two-hole trip, mounted a late rally. "In the lane I knew Hannah's horse was gaining on mine and I was certainly glad when the wire came up," Schwartz added. Armbro Kyra, owned by Brenda Messenger and Dr. Scott Woogen and trained by Gary Messenger, paid $10.40 for win. A second NAADA split went to Dein Spriggs, former two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year. Up from Florida to drive Saint Patty's Doll, Spriggs made the trip worthwhile when he reined the 7-year old daughter of Conway Hall to a 2:00.2 victory over Aventure and driver Tony Ciuffetelli. A stalwart in the Florida Amateur Drivers Association, this was the fourth time Spriggs sat behind Saint Patty's Doll and the second time he was victorious. He also has had two seconds among those four outings. In the NAADA trot today Spriggs gunned Saint Patty's Doll to the lead from the four-hole and took command at the quarter in :29.3. Once on top he made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:00.2 clocking while he kept a hard charging Aventure and driver Tony Ciuffetelli at bay. Blazin Delores finished third for Hannah Miller. "Besides having a drive with Saint Patty's Doll today I'll stay tomorrow (Friday) to drive in the GSY Amateur Series at the Meadowlands," Spriggs related. Owned by Karma Racing and trained by Patti Harmon, Saint Patty's Doll returned a $3.80 win mutuel. The last of the three amateur races saw Hannah Miller continue her prowess when she guided Tijuana Party to an oh-so-easy 1:58. 4 victory In the Catskill Amateur Drivers Club Series. Sent off as the 8-5 favorite from post two Miller quickly gained command and led the field by the first stanza in a swift :28.4. From there she toyed with her competition and was never in any trouble. And when Tijuana Party rounded the final turn he began to draw off and coasted home an easy three-length winner over McCabe Hall and driver Tony Ciuffetelli. Third place went to Shark Treasure driven by Gerry Fielding. "He's a pleasure to drive and he was real good today," Miller said referring to Tijuana Party. "He's got quick speed away from the (starting) gate and he's was strong at the end of the mile, too." Hannah co-owns the winner with Nick Surick who doubles as the horse's trainer. Tijuana Party paid $5.50 for win. For "Hurricane Hannah" it was her 13th driving victory already this year. John Manzi for NAADA and CADC

The Harness Horse Breeders of NYS would like to remind horse owners and harness racing trainers about updates and other information. The date at Monticello for all Two Year Old Colt Trot NYSS events has been changed to June 30th (draw date of June 27th by 9am) Please make sure you have USTA eligibility paperwork done and your USTA license to race at County Fairs. The 2015 proposed USTA rule to stop 2-Year-Olds from racing on consecutive days did NOT PASS. You may enter and race two days in a row if you wish. You must have a W-9 on file in the NYSS office to receive County Fair(only) purse checks. The Monticello race program for Monday June 27th, 2016 (Draw date Wed. June 22, 2016 by 9am) will have a class for NY-Bred 3-Year-Old Trotting Fillies with a purse of $5,000. Residency Form B is due after your resident mare has been in New York for a total of 180 days. These forms must be done every year you bred to a NY eligible stallion and are in the state for at least 180 days. If you have any questions please call 518-785-5858 Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

Monticello Raceway was honored to be the site of harness racing driver Chris Lems 1000th career win, ironically Monticello was the site of Chris's his first stake win. Chris drove Manny to victory in the 3rd division of NYSS in 1:54:2. Manny (American Ideal - Foolish Kiss) is trained by Jessica Okusko, for owners M and L of Delaware & Victoria Dickson. Chris also drives for powerful stables of Jessica Okusko and George Ducharme. Monticello Raceway Pick 5 Carry over at $4,532.00 Monticello Raceway’s Pick 5 carry over is now $4,532.00. The first leg of the Pick 5 begins in Race 3.  Director of Simulcasting, Maureen Flynn said “this is the biggest carry over that we have had, we are glad to offer our patrons this opportunity” By Shawn Wiles    

A new track record for harness racing aged geldings of 1:51.4 was today set at Monticello Raceway by Royal Heart driven by Bruce Aldrich.   Royal Heart is owned by Blindswitch Racing Stable and Dolne Farm Services LLC and trained by Jose Godinez.   Geri Schwarz  

The Grand Circuit of amateur harness racing, also known as the CKG Billings Series, moved on to Monticello Raceway on Thursday, June 2 and when the director of racing secretary, Eric Warner, opened the entry box for that day he was pleasantly surprised to find 20 entries in the Billings Trot which would allow him to be able to card three good trotting events in eastern region action for Thursday and with them Monticello Raceway was able to offer 11 betting contests on the card that day. "Hurricane Hannah" Miller won the first Billings trot with Blazin Delores in 2:00 while "Yankee Joe" Lee was triumphant with Woody in 2:01.3 in another. James Jimmy Boy" Marshall IV scored in 1:58.4 with KLM Express in yet another. In her event Ms. Miller scored her 11th driving victory thus far this season and explained her victorious journey via email. " Blazin Delores raced great," the talented miss said at days end. "She was able to leave and get a trip while Dein Spriggs (with St Patty's Doll) and Bob Davis (with Swift Blizzard) battled it out for the front. I waited for the passing lane and got up in time." St. Patty's Doll was second, beaten by just a head in a tight photo. Swift Blizzard photoed-out "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo's, For You Almostfree for third money. Owned and trained by Laurie Molnar Blazin Delores paid $14.80 for win. In the third Billings event "Hurricane Hannah: was up behind the favorite, Jacks To Open but racing luck was not in her favor. "Jack had a tougher trip in the last Billings race but I was able to work my way into the two hole before the half," she explained. "He still raced good and held on for second." The victory in that contest went to "Jimmy Boy" Marshall (IV) when he guided his uncle's KLM Express to a gate to wire triumph in a solid 1:58.4 over the Mighty M's double oval. Miller's, Jacks To Open, was second just 1-1/4 lengths behind the winner despite being parked to the half. .Dave "the Rave" Offenberg took home the show dough with Bluebird Kidsqueen. The race winner, KLM Express, is owned by "Jimmy Boy's" uncle Richard Aiken and trained by his grandfather Bill Aiken. The trotter returned a $7.60 win mutuel. In the other Billings event Joe Lee, the New York Yankee's locker room manager, returned to the winners circle again when he reined Woody to a come-from-behind one length victory over Ladys Big Stormont and driver Dein "the Dream" Spriggs in a 2:01.3 clocking. Third in that mile was Magglio, driven by Allen "Bo Bo" Sisco. After the races were completed Lee expressed pleasure from his driving victory. "In today's fifth race there were a bunch of breaking horses so I decided to leave with Woody, which doesn't happen often, and we ended-up in the two hole as Dein Spriggs took command with Ladys Big Stormont. "At the half Allen Sisco came out from third with Magglio and pressed Spriggs' trotter the rest of the way. I waited until the passing lane and slid up the rail (plyons) to win by half a length and paid $44.00 as the longest shot on the board. Woody was great today in the turns and had plenty of trot in the lane. Woody, a 6-year old altered son of Glidemaster, is owned by Woody Hoblitzell and trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr. Billings action continues Friday night (June 3) with a Midwest region trot at Scioto Downs. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series  

To use a phrase from the great race caller Carl Becker "They are coming from everywhere", that was the case for the draw when a total of 61 harness racing colts were entered for the glamour division of the New York Sire Stakes, 3 Year Old Pacing Colts, to be raced on Monday at Monticello Raceway, June 6. The 13 race cards show cases 9 races of NY Bred sophomores. The afternoon's card has 3 division of Sire Stakes, each split racing for $39,900, 4 divisions of the Excelsior A class ($15,000) and 2 races of the Excelsior B class ($6,600) The first division of Sire Stakes colts is race 2, Missile J, hot off his win in the Rooney Final in 1:53, will start from post 7 for trainer Linda Toscano. The American Ideal- Cantors' Delight colt who was a $100,000 yearling purchase for owners KJ Stable LLC and Purple Haze Stable LLC. Unraced at 2, the late bloomer has won 3 in row, he will look to extend the streak with Tim Tetrick driving. Also looking to extend his win streak is Talk Show (PP1), the son of Art Major - Lush Limbaugh is trained by Steve Elliott. 2 starts prior he won in 1:51:1, pacing his last quarter in 25.4 at the Meadowlands. In race 8, Autotune Hanover (Art Major - Anderosa Hanover) who has yet to return to his 2 year old form, will start from the post 2 for driver Jason Barlett. A winner of in excess of $200,000, he finished 3rd last year in the NYSS Finals at Yonkers. Craftship continues to show improvement with each start, finishing 2nd in his last start at YR (LQ 26:4) Carlos Danger is looking to shed his role a bridesmaids as he is winless in 12 lifetime starts. The final NYSS event of the card comes in the 10th race, racing for a purse of $39,900. The 7 horse field features, Fine Diamond, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven, out of the Breeders Crown winner Yellow Diamond has drawn post 3, for trainer Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley will drive. He recently has his 4 race win streaked snapped last week. JK Heaven Sent (PP4) who last start finished second at Pocono Downs, pacing his mile in 1:50:4. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven-JK's Owhatanite has Jim Morrill Jr in the bike for the first time. The 4 heats of the Excelsior A class are programmed as races 5, 6, 7 and 9, the Excelsior B class are slated as races 1 & 4, New York Sire Stake actions returns on Monday June 30, as 2 Year Old Trotting Colts come to town. By Shawn Wiles

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

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