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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

After the first leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's (NAADA) Trotting Series was snowed out at Monticello Raceway on March 16 the harness racing series got underway at the Catskills mountain oval on March 30 and when the two divisions were completed each leg was won by a former National Amateur Driver of the Year. Alan Schwartz copped his leg with Ladys Big Stormont while Robert Krivelin won his division with Current Crisis. In his split, Schwartz went down the proverbial road and made every pole a winning won en route to a 2:00 triumph. "I hadn't planned to be on the front-end from the five-hole but when the gate sprung my horse left like a runner and we were on top before the turn," Schwartz related after his driving victory. "Although he (Ladys Big Stormont) had been racing well this was the first time I had him on the lead. And he really seemed comfortable there, so much so, that I might have to send him to the front again." After Ladys Big Stormont gained command Schwartz and his trotter coasted through fractions of :30.1; 1:00.2 and 1:30.2 before kicking in a :29.3 final panel to score an easy one length victory over Sim Brown and driver John Kokinos. Joe Lee took home the show dough with Woody. Sent off at odds of over 2-1 Ladys Big Stormont returned a $6.30 win mutuel. It was the second seasonal triumph for the 6-year-old Earl of Stormont gelding who's also owned by Schwartz and trained by Raheim Strong. For Schwartz, the National Amateur Driver of the Year in 2000, his driving victory was the 579th of his amateur career. In the other division Krivelin also sent his trotter to the lead but they didn't gain command until the first stanza which was trotted in 29.1. From there Current Crisis showed the way past the half in .59.4 and by the three quarters in 1:30.1. At that point Tony Ciuffetelli mounted a charge with Tropical Storm Bi and although they were charging in the deep stretch they fell a nose short in the 2:00.1 clocked mile. Third place went to The Fighter, driven by Alan Schwartz. "He's been a good horse for me ever since I bought him from Donnie Richards at the end of his 3 year old season where he was the Maine Sires Stakes champion," Krivelin said of the 8-year old Current Crisis. "Over the years I won two Billings Finals with him and he's earned me well over $200,000." It was the third seasonal triumph for Current Crisis who's owned by Krivelin's Hero Stables and also trained by Krivelin. Sent off at odds of over 6-1, Current Crisis paid $14.20 for win. For Krivelin, who was National Amateur Driver of the Year in 2001, 2012, and 2014, the victory was the 205th of his career. By John Manzi for NAADA  

Harness racing entries for the Monticello Raceway Handicapping Contest are due prior to the first race on Thursday March 30, post time is 12:50. The winner of the qualifying leg at Monticello Raceway will become eligible to the $50,000 Bet America World Harness Handicapping Championship final at the Meadowlands on April 29. The Monticello Harness Horseman Association are sponsoring the travel expenses to the Meadowlands. Participants will have to select 1 horse in races 1 through 10, there is no entry fee to enter the contest. Cash prizes will be awarded to the second place finisher ($125) and for 3rd place $75.00. Rules for the contest can be found on www.monticelloraceway.com Shawn Wiles    

On Tuesday March 28, Monticello Raceway's pick 5 carry over is $1,841, it comes on the heels of the harness racing tracks qualifying round for the $50,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship which will be held on Thursday March 30, post time 12:50. Race Secretary Eric Warner has put together an 11 race card on Thursday which features 2 divisions of NAADA events.    

After the first leg of the long standing NAADA Trotting Series was snowed-out last Thursday at Monticello Raceway the 2017 edition got underway with two harness racing divisions at Yonkers on March 23 and when the dust had settled Hannah Miller and Bob Krivelin each emerged victorious in their respective $6000 splits. Off her award winning 2016 season "Hurricane Hannah" showed that she knows where the winners circle is by reining the Chris Marino-trained Winwood Scout to a gate-to-wire 2:00.1 victory in her division. That victory came on the heels of Hannah's stunning 1:52.4 triumph last week at the Meadowlands which established a new world standard for the fastest mile ever driven by an amateur driver. In tonight's contest Ms. Miller took no prisoners and set sails for the lead from the pole position. She and Linwood Scout were alone on the front-end in a :29.1 clocked first quarter and from there it was catch me of you can. And not surprisingly, nobody could as Winwood Scout rambled on to a 2-1/2 length victory in a 2:00.1 clocking over Dr. John Kokinos's Sim Brown. Bob Hechkoff took home the show dough with The Franchise. "Tonight was the second time that I drove Winwood Scout for Chris (Marino). Last year at Saratoga I finished second with him and tonight we got away with reasonable fractions and he was strong throughout the mile and we won rather handily," Hannah said via telephone after her driving victory. "He's a real nice horse to drive." The winner is owned by Howard Jacobs and for "Hurricane Hannah" it was her second driving victory of the fledgling season and her 75th in just 256 lifetime starts, The other division was also a wire to wire victory for Permanent Joy and driver Bob Krivelin. After stealing a 1:01 first half Peter Kleinhans and Toss Cartwright kept the pressure on Permanent Joy but they fell a neck short at the wire and finished second in the 2:00.2 mile. Tropical Storm Bi was two lengths behind the leaders at the wire and finished third. Permanent Joy is owned by Krivelin's Hero Stables and trained by Krivelin. For the food purveyor it marked his 204th career driving victory. By John Manzi for NAADA

Due to Winter Storm Stella, Monticello Raceway has cancelled its live racing card and all simulcasting wagering for Wednesday March 15. Live Racing will resume on Thursday March 16 with a 12:50 post.  Horseman should call the race office about this week’s qualifiers. The race office at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is closed today due to the aftermath of the nor'easter that hit the region earlier this week. The qualifying races that were rescheduled for Thursday (March 16) have been cancelled all together. Officials at Buffalo Raceway have cancelled Wednesday night's (March 15) 11-race program that was scheduled for 5 p.m. due to track conditions. Racing is expected to resume on Friday night with a 10-race card slated for 5 p.m. There's an $848 carryover in the Pick-5 which begins in the second race.

The combination of Jim Devaux and Dolores Basilone has been working very well as of late and today was no exception as both enjoyed a very good afternoon at Monticello Raceway, James DeVaux drove 5 winners on Tuesday's harness racing card and Trainer Dolores Basilone won 4 races. DeVaux capped off both ends of the early double, Sweet Kix from the rail was his first trip to the winners circle, followed by Muscle Beachboy (Dolores Basilone) in the 2nd half of the early double. In race 3, it was the Scott Biccum trained Nancys Skyscape who gave Devaux the early hat trick. After a short hiatus, the next winning drive was in race 7, Powder Keg, starting from the rail for trainer Dolores Basilone, scored in 1:57, the fastest mile of the afternoon, coming right back in the following race was the Monticello Raceway iron horse Hoboken Hanover (Dolores Basilone) to visit he winners circle by virtue of his 1:57. win, LQ in 28.3. Devaux also had 2 place and 1 show finishes on the card. Devaux is now atop the leading dash winning driver with 57 wins, Bruce Aldrich is 2nd with 49 wins. With the sun shining and the track dry, it marked the return of all time Monticello Raceway leading dash winner Billy "Zeke" Parker, he finished the day with a 2nd and a 3rd place finish out of 2 starts. By: Shawn Wiles

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