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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 wire.in 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  

The closing deadline for Monticello Raceway three new series has been extended to Tuesday May 9, initially the deadline was Thursday May 4. Nomination fees for each event is $100, each series has three legs which increase each week $4,100, $4,600 and $5,100. The finals for each event goes for a purse of $8,000 (estimated), with a $5,500 consolation. The top 8 point earners will be eligible to the final, with not more than two from any stable or owner. Any horseman seeking additional information or conditions to enter, please contact the race office at 845 794 - 4100 ext. 557 or 555.  

On Wednesday afternoon May 3, at Monticello Raceway, Can I Say set a new track record for Aged Trotting Mares, setting the new stanza of 1:56.3, eclipsing the prior harness racing record held by Scottish Cross of 1:56.4. The out of town invader shows recent starts at Saratoga Raceway, Pocono Downs, Yonkers and Flamboro Downs. The 8 year old daughter of Fourth and One (Valley Victory - Divineintervention) left from post position 2 and cut the mile through fractions of 28:2, 58.3 1:27 and tripped the teletimer in 1:56.3, more impressive than the record itself was the manner in which she won, as the winning margin was 11 lengths. The brown mare is trained by Douglas Berkeley for owners Terry & Clarence Devos and James Whelan and was driven by Bruce Aldrich Jr. By Shawn Wiles                   All emails from Empire Resorts, Inc. and its subsidiaries, and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which they are addressed. If you are not the intended recipient you are hereby notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are considered privileged and confidential and may not be used by either party in any pending or future legal proceedings. Empire Resorts, Inc., 204 State Route 17B, Monticello, NY 12701 845-807-0001  

Monticello Raceway in conjunction with the Monticello Harness Horseman's Association have announced the formation of  three new harness racing series in a broad effort to include as many horses as possible. The series begin May 15, 16 and 17th and includes one event for Fillies and Mares, one for Horse and Gelding and one event for Trotters. Horses are eligible to be claimed for $5,000 in their first start, $6,000 in their second start and no claiming allowed after 2nd start. Nominations for all events close on Thursday May 4th. Nomination fees for each event is $100, each series has 3 legs which increase each week $4,100, $4,600 and $5,100. The finals for each event goes for a purse of $8,000 (estimated), with a $5,500 consolation. The top 8 point earners will be eligible to the final, with not more than 2 from any stable or owner. Any horseman seeking additional information or conditions to enter, please contact the race office at 845 794 - 4100 ext. 557 or 555.    

On Thursday afternoon at Monticello Raceway in the 4th race, the three longest harness racing shots on the board finished 1-2-3. Starting from post 8 and going off at 100 to 1, Art Retreat was considered a write off. The son of Artzina had other plans, he got away last in the 9 horse field, at the ¼ pole he was 16 lengths behind the pace setter, at the half he closed the gap to 12 lengths. By the time the filed hit the ¾ mile marker he was 7th and 2 deep, he continued the overland route to score by a head in 1:58.1 for owner/trainer Gerald Decker and paid $202.00 to win, $103.50 for place and $43.00 to show. Trottown King finished 2nd and returned $44.20 for place to his supporters, and TKR'S Metro Specs garnered the show position and rewarded those who had faith with him with a $10 show payoff. The exacta for the race paid $3,770.00, the trifecta returned $9,689.00, pick 3 payoff $1,925 and the Superfecta paid $73,124.00.  

Two exciting races in the North American Amateur Drivers Association trotting series went to post on the betting card at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (Apr. 27) and upon their completion Alan Schwartz and Tony Ciuffetelli each were victorious in their respective splits. Schwartz scored a come-from behind triumph with I'm Fabulous in 1:59 while Ciuffetell used the front end route for a 2:00.3 victory with Avivas Winner. Schwartz, who was the National Amateur Driver of the Year in 2000, has spent most of the recent seasons racing against professionals while carrying amateur status. Today (Thurs April 27) at the Mighty M he hustled I'm Fabulous away from the mobile gate and settled in behind the betting favorite Current Crisis (Bobby Krivelin) and was content to follow the leader as Krivelin cut fractions of :30-1:00.4 and 1:29.4 all the way to the top of the lane at which point Schwartz tipped his mare to the outside trotted to away to a two-length victory over Current Crisis. Third place went to AJ Destiny driven by Bob Davis. "I figured if I could get in behind 'Kriv'(elin) on the first turn and then let his horse cut the fractions I'd have a good chance to beat him in the stretch," Schwartz said after his driving victory. "And it worked out perfect as my mare was the strong horse in the lane." Although he has been participating in amateur races at Monticello and Yonkers Raceways in recent years Schwartz has been reluctant to travel the Billings circuit as he did in the early 2000's. "I have a small stable and get plenty of action at Monticello so I don't have to travel far away to drive," Schwartz explained. It was his ninth winning drive this season and over the years Schwartz has won 584 races ranking him second all-time behind "Boots" Dunn's 1152. I'm Fabulous is owned by Brenda Messenger and Scott Woogen and trained by Gary Messenger. She paid $5.40 for win. The other NAADA event saw Tony Ciuffetelli and Avivas Winner trot to the lead as they came off the first turn and use the front end route to score an exciting victory with three horses just heads apart at the finish. "My horse likes the front end and as long as I keep the wraps on him so he doesn't got too fast to the half he finishes strong," Ciuffetelli explained. "He wasn't that strong today but strong enough to hold off (Tony) Verruso (with Pocket Passer) and (Bob) Krivelin (with Superiorcourt) for the victory." Comfortable all the way until the backside the second time around Ciuffetelli's trotter was joined by Tim Lizzi (Joe Lee) nearing the third quarter but that trotter went off-stride erasing Lee's chances at victory. However, Verruso moved Pocket Passer, who was following Tim Lizzi, up alongside Avivas Winner as Krivelin moved in closer along the pylons hopefully awaiting a chance to rally in the passing lane. Around the final turn the three leaders were all set for the stretch drive but Avivas Winner showed real grit keeping both Pocket Passer and Superiorcourt at bay and trotted on to a neck victory over the former with Pocket Passer a length back in third place. Avivas Winner is owned by Scheigert Racing Stable and trained by Amanda Kelley. He returned a $12.40 win mutuel. With the completion of five NAADA series legs Krivelin's 42 points are two better than Schwartz's. Third, with 32 points, is John Kokinos while Joe Lee (23) and Tony Verruso (21) round out the top five in series points. by John Manzi for NAADA

For the second consecutive week, Monticello Raceway has raised purses, when this week's harness racing condition sheet come out, horseman will note an additional 10% to their purses, on top of last week's purse increase. Monticello Raceway Race Secretary Eric Warner, noted that "Historically, this has always been the time of year that we raise the purses, the purse were raised 10% in February, so in a span of 7 weeks, purses have actually been increased 30%" Shawn Wiles  

The fourth leg of the North American Amateur Driver's Association's Spring Trotting Series Thursday afternoon (April 13) at Monticello Raceway had plenty of harness racing action not only throughout the mile but especially in the lane as four horses finished heads apart with just a scant nose separating first and second place. And when the judges deciphered the extremely tight finish and hung the official sign, Woody, driven by "Yankee Joe" Lee was declared the winner; a very thin nose ahead of Sam's Honeybee, driven by Tony Verruso. The finish was so tight that racing room wasn't plentiful and as the top four finishers approached the wire, Joe Lee's sulky hooked Tony Verruso's but thankfully, after the finish line the two sulkies got unhooked and the only problem lied in the judges hands to decipher what happened and were any rules broken. As it turned out the judges determined that Sam's Honeybee bore out in the deep stretch which caused the trotting mare's sulky to hook Woody's. When the race results were posted Woody was the winner and Sam's Honey relegated to second money. Third place right there, was Sim Brown and driver John Kokinos. Fortunately for Lee, Woody, hooked to was sulky, was longer than Sam's Honeybee's hook-up which allowed the former to be in front at the finish despite having his sulky's wheel behind Sam's Honeybee's. "We got away slowly and were far back at the quarter," Joe Lee said in the paddock after the judge's decision was made final. "We were still quite far behind (six Lengths) at the half but up the backside I moved three-deep and we were making up ground. "Woody was in high gear when we straightened in the stretch and if Tony's sulky hadn't hooked mine we would have been a clear winner." No sooner had Lee finished explaining about his vision of the race than did he immediately grab his valise and was headed to Yankee Stadium where he is the assistant locker room manager. (And yes, Lee is on first name basis all the Yankee ballplayers). Dismissed by the betting public and sent off at odds of over 8-1, Woody paid $18.20 for win. The veteran 7-year-old Glidemaster gelding is owned by Woody Hoblitzell and trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr. It was the second seasonal victory for Woody and the fourth win this year for driver Joe Lee. John Manzi

39 contestants were entered in the qualifying leg of the $50,000 Bet America World Harness Handicapping Championship at Monticello Raceway on Thursday March 30th, the harness racing final will be held at the Meadowlands on April 29. Harold Winslow was declared the winner, he started off strong in the contest and was a wire to wire winner. Stanley Mentrka of East Meadow, Long Island was the 2nd place finisher and received a $125 wagering voucher and local Monticello resident James Walker was 3rd and received a $75 wagering voucher. Contestants had to select 1 horse in races 1-10 and amassed a mythical bankroll if their choice finished first or second in the designated race. Harold Winslow of Clinton NY, is no stranger to Bet America Handicapping contest, his past performances include a prior appearance in the final and a top 3 finish. Harold also received a $200 check for traveling expenses courtesy of the Monticello Harness Horseman Association. Monticello Raceway Director of Simulcasting Maureen Flynn said "the contest added a lot of excitement in the simulcasting parlor, hopefully we will implement more of these type contests in the future for our patrons". Shawn Wiles

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