Day At The Track
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Monticello, NY - No, it's not a typo, yesterday at Monticello Raceway harness racing driver Austin Siegelman won 5 races and today he duplicated the exact same feat. Siegelman won the second race of the afternoon with Reflexionofroyalty from the rail in 2:00.1 and returned a $8.50 win pari-mutuel, it was the first win of the season for Reflexionofroylaty. Histoire Eternelle (PP4) gave Austin his second win of the day, as he scored a wire to wire win in 1:57 for trainer Chris Petrelli. He came right back in the following race to score with Victory Singer (1:59.4 - $2.60) it was the 3rd win a row for Victory Singer. In the 7th race it was Sky Guy from post position 8, to win by 3 lengths after cutting the entire mile in 1:57.1, the son of Sportswriter is trained by Thomas Merton. The last win of the afternoon came aboard Celtic Art, the Joe Moeykens trained son of Artiscape won in 1:59 and paid $10.40 to win. The top 4 drivers are in a bottleneck for leading dash winner with 3 drivers Bruce Aldrich Jr. Michael Merton, and James Devaux all tied with 34 wins, Austin is in close pursuit with 33 wins. Over $780,000 was wagered on the 10-race card. Live racing returns on Monday with a 12:25 post time. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

At Monticello Raceway on Wednesday February 13, Austin Siegelman won half of the 10-race card as he steered 5 winners to the harness racing winner's circle. The Rick Dane Jr. trained Brandos Muscle Man ($13.00 - 2:00.4) got things going for Siegelman in a wire to wire effort from the 7 hole. Virtuous Dragon PP2 won the 4th race ($15.40- 1:58.2) A and C Artist ($1:59.2 - $6.70) - Ironbarbassy ($3.80 - 1:59.2) -and Law of Attraction ($9.00 - 2:00.2) The 26-year-old Siegelman is in 4th place for leading dash winning drivers, and sports a respectable .298 UDRS by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Due to Winter Storm Maya, Qualifiers will be held on Thursday February 14, the box closes at 11:45 on Wednesday. Please contact the Race Office at (845) 794 - 4100 EXT 557 by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Due to the timing of the snow that is expected to canvass the areas tomorrow morning, which will make for hazardous conditions for horses located at nearby training centers and farms, live racing has been cancelled for Tuesday February 12. Live racing will resume on Wednesday February 13. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Austin Siegelman put up career-best numbers in 2018 and is looking to parlay that success into even bigger numbers this year. Siegelman, who turns 27 on Feb. 27, won 314 races and $2.19 million in purses last season. His win total ranked 26th among all harness racing drivers in North America. "I think I had a pretty good year," Siegelman said. "I think it was a step in the right direction if my career is going to go forward. I really didn't expect it to happen because I didn't have a steady barn to drive for, and I kind of still don't. I'm just going to take it for what it is. Hopefully I can build off it and it gets a little better this year." Siegelman enjoyed the majority of his success at Monticello Raceway, where he finished third in the driver standings with 229 victories despite missing three weeks as the result of an accident. His 18-percent win clip was also third among regulars at the upstate New York half-mile oval. In September, Siegelman added New Jersey's Freehold Raceway to his schedule. He won 32 races there during the remainder of the year, a total that was fourth best at the track. He also had wins at The Meadowlands, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Tioga Downs, and Yonkers. "It was nice to get 200 wins at Monticello," Siegelman said. "It was nice to get into Freehold towards the end again. It was really nice to break into Yonkers a little bit. That's where I'm looking to go." Siegelman is currently focused on driving at Monticello, Yonkers, and Freehold. He began racing regularly at Yonkers last July and has won 38 races there. "I'd like to drive at the Meadowlands more, but my schedule is nice and tidy with Monticello Monday through Thursday, Freehold on Friday and Saturday, and Yonkers the five nights," Siegelman said. "It's a full book. "I'd like to pick up a little more quality work at Yonkers and cut down a little. That way it's not just a mad rush every day. It's tough. It's tough on the body, it's tough mentally. Sunday is my only day off now and I don't want to do anything." Siegelman, the son of trainer James Siegelman, received the 2013 Rising Star Award from the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Last September, he got career win No. 1,000, which came at Monticello. "For sure that was the highlight of last year," Siegelman said. "That was nice." Siegelman does not set many goals each year, other than continuing to improve. "I watch replays when I'm off. I watch races. It doesn't stop," he said. "I want to learn. I know the mistakes I make when I'm out there. As soon as I make them I'm like, oh no. It's not a good feeling. "I think I'm finally learning to be a little more patient and play the gate a little better. I used to have it in my head before the race what I was going to do - if I was going to leave, or if I wasn't - and now most of the time I let the horse decide. I think I'm starting to get a little more polished. I'm still not there yet." Patience can be difficult for young drivers to achieve, especially as they strive to make a name for themselves. "I want to win every race that I'm in," Siegelman said. "It's a tough pill to swallow that I can't." Still, Siegelman is happy with the progress he has made so far in his career. "I'm finally getting to a point where I'm happy with where I'm at," he said. "I just take it day-by-day." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

In anticipation of the extreme cold that is expected for tomorrow, live harness racing is canceled for Thursday January 31 Live racing will resume Monday February 4th, post time is 12:20 by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Due to the extreme cold and concern for the health and welfare of the drivers and the horses, live racing on Wednesday January 30 at both Monticello Raceway in New York and The Raceway at Western Fair in Ontario, has been canceled.    .      

Monticello, NY - Due to deteriorating weather conditions and hazardous driving conditions, live racing has been cancelled for Tuesday at Monticello Raceway. Live racing will resume on Wednesday January 30 with a 12:20 Post time by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

New York casino operator Empire Resorts is shutting down slots operations at the Monticello Casino & Raceway to avoid cannibalizing its new Catskills property. On Tuesday, Empire informed the US Securities and Exchange Commission that the subsidiary that runs Monticello had told its staff that the property would close its video gaming machine (VGM) operations “on or about April 23, 2019.” Monticello’s harness racing operations will remain as they are, at least, for the time being. Empire CEO Ryan Eller was blunt about the reason behind the closure, saying the company needed to “improve revenue performance at our nearly Resorts World Catskills property,” the flashy $1.2b New York casino newcomer that opened its doors to the public in February 2018. Resorts World Catskills has so far failed to live up to its original revenue projections, as have the other three upstate commercial casinos the state authorized in 2015. Empire expected the Catskills venue to generate $277m in its first year of operations but the venue managed only half that sum in its first 11 months. The slots shutdown will leave about 160 Monticello staff with nothing to do, but Empire says these workers will be either offered jobs at the Catskills casino or receive severance packages. About 40 Monticello staff will remain at their posts to oversee racing operations. Monticello launched its casino in 2004 and currently features around 1,100 VGMs but the property had been on a lengthy losing streak that accelerated dramatically once the Catskills property opened. There’s some debate as to whether Empire has the authority to shut Monticello’s casino without state approval, given the company’s obligations to kick up a certain cut of revenue to the state and to continue to fund purses at the track. The New York Gaming Commission has yet to publicly comment on the news. Assembly Racing Committee chair Gary Pretlow told the Poughkeepsie Journal that he would examine the possibility of having the Catskill Off-Track Betting Corp take over Monticello’s casino operations. BETTING BOOST ON THE WAY? With the upstate casino market effectively saturated, New York’s commercial casino operators are more or less pinning their hopes on adding legal sports betting to their gaming palette. The 2013 legislation that authorized those casinos’ construction also allowed them to offer sports betting pending a change in federal law, which came to pass last spring. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated that he wanted to bring betting to the upstate casinos in order to “generate activity” at the otherwise under-utilized venues. On Thursday, the New York State Gaming Commission posted the agenda for its next meeting on Monday (28) and “sports wagering” made the cut. The 2013 legislation doesn’t allow for anything other than land-based wagering, and while other states that have allowed only land-based betting have reported a traffic boost at casinos offering sportsbooks, New Jersey’s experience shows digital betting generating triple the handle generated by land-based operations. Regardless, all four upstate operators have struck prospective betting deals with bookmakers. The state’s tribal gaming operators, with whom Cuomo has frequently sparred, are also striking deals on their belief that they are entitled to retain product parity with the commercial operators. By Peter Amsel Reprinted with permission of the calvinayre.com site

2019 was a very good year for Michael Merton, the 47-year-old Monticello native earned his first ever Leading Dash winner title at his hometown track Monticello Raceway with 267 wins, former Monticello Raceway dash winner Bruce Aldrich Jr. finished 2nd with 235 wins, followed by the young Austin Siegelman with 228 trips to the winner circle. The Monticello native was reared in the backstretch of Monticello Raceway as a youngster and is no stranger to the Catskill Mountain oval. Merton hit the road hard this summer as he also won the leading dash driver at Tioga Downs with 82 wins. Between Monticello Raceway and Tioga Downs, Merton amassed over $1,440,971 in purses and 349 wins. Merton's combined season tally of 382 ranks him 16th in the nation for wins Bob Lounsbury earning his 4th overall leading trainer title at Monticello Raceway with 93 wins, Gary Messenger was second with 80 wins. Bob Lounsbury also won the leading training award in 2013, 2014 & 2015. He also ranked nationally, in 2013 and 2015 he was the % leading trainer in North America for trainers having over 500 starts. The Bob Lounsbury Stable earned over $305,797 in 330 starts, an average of $926 per start for the 2018 season at Monticello Raceway.   Shawn Wiles  

Monticello Raceway Race Secretary, Eric Warner was successful in putting a race together for six harness racing veteran campaigners that will go behind the starting gate for the last time. The 6 starters sport an impressive overall body of work, between them they have amassed a total of 2202 lifetime starts, 369 wins and over $2,435,000 in career earnings. On Monday afternoon, this bunch of hardy campaigners did not show any signs of aging, as the gate, a trio of aged pacers left the gate hard with Esprit De Kayjay A getting the lead and taking the field past the ¼ in 28.1. Delco Tross was first over at the half in 58.2 and took the field past the ¾ in 1:28.2 and was on top by 5 lengths, at the top of the lane Delco Tross (Mike Merton) appeared to be on his way to victory, but Rick Harp and Mayflowermoonshine rallied in deep stretch to overtake Delco Tross in 1:59.4, B Blissfull (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) finished 3rd. For Mayflowermoonshine it was his 7th win of the season, giving him 52 lifetime wins, the 14-year-old son of Pilgrims Punch is owned and trained by Dennis Lacey of Aurora, NY and was bred by Elmer L Yoder. Mayflowermoonshine lifetime stats include over 426 starts, a record of 1:51.2 taken at 3 with lifetime earnings of $653,000. By Shawn Wiles

The month of December seems to be to harness racing driver Jimmy Devaux's liking, it was only 10 days ago that he won five races on the afternoon. On Thursday afternoon December 27, Devaux did it again. The wins started in Race two where he scored with RCS Ready (2:04.1-$9.70) for trainer Wesley Miller. It is rare to see Devaux go off at odds of 30/1, as he pulled off a shocker with NY Whitesox in 1:58 and paid $63.50. Jim came right back in the next race and visited the winners circle with Quality Closer in the Winner Over event, scoring an easy 6 length win in 1:54.4 for Monica Banca, Zack Lee won the 10th race for owner Gary Haas in 1:57 - $5.50. Drive Em Cowboy capped off the 5 bagger in race 11 to win in 1:57.2 and paid $13.20 for win. Devaux just missed his 6th winner of the day but fell short finishing second in the last race. The five wins added to DeVaux's yearly tally, giving him 211 wins at Monticello Raceway, placing him 4th in for leading dash winners and $796,076 in earnings, over $776,000 was wagered on the 12-race card. By Shawn Wiles

Decades ago the great PR guru John Manzi came up with the idea of conducting a race for 14-year-old equines for their last start of their harness racing career. This unique niche event has been duplicated many times over the years by many tracks. Monticello Raceway Race Secretary Eric Warner is searching for 14-year-old pacers to participate in an Invitational Pace on Monday December 31 for a purse of $5000, check the Condition sheet for more details. Anyone interested should contact the Racing Office at 845 794 4100 ext. 557 or ewarner@empireresorts.com By: Shawn Wiles

On a wet and grey Monday afternoon at Monticello Raceway, James Devaux won five of the harness racing cards ten races. The banner day didn't start until midway through the card in race 5, where Princess Katie (2:02.4 - $2.10) was his afternoons first winner. Devaux, would then proceed to win the next 3 races in a row, Faithful Friend (2:01.1 - $8.50), Norma Rei (1:59.4 - $3.30) and Rosy Outlook (1:57.4 - $10.40) Devaux just missed notching his 6 win of the day, losing by a neck in the 9th race. He won the last race of the day in with Sandy Hook Hanover (2:00.4 - $20.40) for trainer Chad Washington, Devuax, a former 2 time Dash winner at Monticello Raceway is currently ranked 4th in the Monticello Driving colony with 197 wins. By Shawn Wiles

John Manzi, the guy who carried the torch for decades, reveled in the moment when 175 well-wishers packed The Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club to honor his lifelong passion and lifetime achievement in harness racing on Sunday evening, Dec. 2. The banquet was the chapter's 60th annual event, but after 40 years of running the show, Manzi said he wanted to step aside and let his successors run with the ball. Retired after famously re-inventing harness racing promotions while managing the publicity department at Monticello Raceway for 40 years, Manzi has always said, "I had a great run. It's better to be a 'has been' than a never was!" "I didn't make a lot of money, but I sure made a lot of great friends and great memories! And we pulled off some crazy promotions too!" he said with a laugh. Manzi was the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award winner...and has been the fuel that propelled the chapter to become one of the strongest in the association. "We have had many National USHWA presidents come from our chapter, and we have given tens of thousands of dollars to both the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, as well as Goshen Historic Track," Manzi noted. "We are very proud of that." A souvenir journal with 16 color pages of iconic photos from Manzi's famed office walls were like a walk down memory lane. Hall of Famer, and cousin, Cat Manzi, along with his other cousin Eddie Lohmeyer also made the trip to surprise the guest of honor. Manzi's brothers Gary and Gerard were also on hand. On a Manzi-filled night, the inaugural recipient of the John Manzi Leadership Award was the Hambletonian Society's COO Moira Fanning. Always an eloquent speaker, and self-appointed Manzi-instigator, Fanning outlined how men like Manzi, Marv Bachrad, Tom Charters and Bill Fidati all gave a former-caretaker many of the opportunities the sport had to offer. "For me, it was more like a 'She Too' movement...illustrating what her mentors thought, 'If I could do it, she could too!" And do it she has, rising to the top echelon of a male-dominated sport, earning a seat on every executive board in the industry. Other prominent honorees included, Chuck Connor (John Gilmour Good Guy), Peter Gerry (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award), Salt Hill Farm/Jim & Anne Feeley (Cradle of the Trotter Breeders Award), Jennifer Lappe (Amateur Driver), Debbie Little (Phil Pines), Shane Darish (Rising Star), and Arthur Robinson (Award of Appreciation). Of course the local equine practitioners from the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association where also honored. Driver of the Year, Mike Merton was on hand to accept his award for most wins, as was Kearstin DeGraw, the Caretaker of the Year from the Gary Messenger Stable. Monticello Raceway's horse of the Year was Johnnie DeSimone's Sentimental Lady. Proceeds from the generosity of advertisers in the souvenir journal and banquet ticket sales go toward making sizeable donations to both the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and Goshen Historic Track, two distinct and separate entities that each received $4,000 from the chapter coffers in 2018. by Chris Tully for Monticello-Goshen USHWA        

Monticello, NY--The final leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's fourth trotting series of the season went to post at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (Nov. 15) and to the pleasant surprise of those who purchased win tickets on Tough Get Going were rewarded when Joe Faraldo sent the veteran trotter to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded and then made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:01.1 victory. And each lucky ticket holder received $47.00 for each two-dollar wager. "The crowd didn't have much faith in my horse's ability in here today but I felt fairly confident that he had good chance to win if things broke our way in the race," Faraldo said as he handed the reins to the caretaker upon returning to the paddock. Tough Get Going has had some trouble behind the starting gate on occasions but today wasn't one of those days. When the starter said "go" Faraldo sent his trotter to the lead and was challenged on the outside by Makin Trouble K and driver Joe Lee, Faraldo played hardball and wanted the front-end so he opened up a hole behind him and Lee took back and found room along the pylons as they passed the first stanza in a soft :29.2. With the field lined-up behind Tough Get Going the venerable trotter led them by the halfway point in 1:01.2 where Jennifer Lappe decided to move the 2 to 5 betting favorite, Winning Princess, out to challenge and they ranged up alongside the leader. "When we passed the half my horse was strong and I felt pretty confident that we had a good chance to win it,"Faraldo related. "And when Jennifer couldn't clear I felt even better." Although Tough Get Going and Winning Princess raced side-by-side as they passed the three quarters in 1:31:1 the former got first call. On the final turn Faraldo's charge had opened a length lead and despite a strong drive by Lappe her trotter hung and Tough Get Going emerged a one-length winner in a 2:01.1 clocking. Four lengths in the rears, in third place went to Makin Trouble K. Tough Get Going is owned by Joe Faraldo and Richie Banca and trained by Banca. The 5-yr-old altered son of Kadabra won for the fourth time this year and raised his seasonal bankroll to nearly $39,000. For Faraldo, a former Amateur Driver of the Year(2000), it was his 145th career win in the USA. by John Manzi, for NAADA

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