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Thursday, May 10, was amateur day at Monticello Raceway with three amateur events on the racetrack's betting card. But more precisely it turned out to be ' Alan Schwartz Day' when the talented amateur harness racing reinsman drove two winners on the nine race card. After he scored his 600th driving victory in the ninth leg of the current NAADA Trotting Series he then added another triumph to his resume when he won the second division of the NAADA v Spanish Friendship Competition later on the card. Schwartz, who doubles as the president of the of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association, notched his milestone victory with his trotter Ladys Big Stormont in a time of 1:59.3 and then copped the final contest in the Friendship competition with pacer Rock On The Hill in the identical time of 1:59.3. "I feel real good today, but I'd feel lot better if we (NAADA) had won the international competition against the Spaniards," Schwartz said. "But it seems we enjoy being accommodating when we host our international friends." After having won two races in the first leg of the Spain v. NAADA Friendship Competition at Yonkers Raceway on Tuesday (May 8) the visiting Spaniards, with another triumph today, walked away with most of the marbles. The first race in the competition today saw Spain's Francisco Ramos move his pacer, Hold The Gold, first-up and take command after the half and then continue on to a length triumph over Pure Smoke, driven by NAADA's Tony Ciuffetelli. Third place went to You're My Hero driven by Spain's Guillermo Llull. Senior Ramos expressed through teammate Jaime Riera, who is fluent in English, that he was proud of his driving victory. Riera related that Ramos said he will treasure his visit to the United States and always remember his driving victory here." Schwartz won the second and final event in the Spain v NAADA Friendship competition when he guided Rock On The Hill to a neck victory in 1:59.3 over Giddyallyougot, in rein to Spain's Francisco Ramus. "He was lazy so I scored him down hard. And when we were in the race I had to keep after him the whole mile," Schwartz related. Although he has won multiple races on a single card Schwartz's milestone 600th victory today was perhaps his most cherished. And he should cherish it, after all, only one other amateur driver has reached the 600-win plateau. (Walter " Boots" Dunn is the all time leader with over 1240 wins). Schwartz recalled his victory with Ladys Big Stormont. "After heading to the pylons when the gate folded I moved first-up approaching the half but my trotter struggled finally getting his head in front of a game Someway Same Hall (USA's Tony Ciuffetelli) as the field neared the finish wire. "My horse wasn't at the top of is game today but we got the job done," Schwartz said referring to Ladys Big Stormont. "And I'm glad we made it (600 wins) because I was feeling undo pressure. It always seems to bring pressure when seeking a milestone brings. I know it shouldn't, but it does." by John Manzi for NAADA  

In the span of 3 weeks, Monticello Raceway has increased harness racing purses by 35%, Race Secretary Eric Warner noted that the last 3 conditions sheets have each shown a purse increase of 10% - 15% and 10%. "Historically this is when we always raise our purses, it is our intention with the increased purses that we can attract more horses. It is very difficult at this time of the year to fill the box with all the tracks being open", said Warner. Shawn Wiles

MONTICELLO,NY - Less than a week after the North American Amateur Drivers Association completed their Friendship Challenge against the visiting Hungarians it was back to two trots in the seventh leg of the NAADA spring trotting series at Monticello Raceway. And when the judges declared the races official, Paul Minore and Alan Schwartz each reined a winner in their respective splits on the nine race harness racing betting card. Minore won the sixth race with Stayin Strong in 2:01.2 while Schwartz copped the ninth and final race of the afternoon with with Ladys Big Stormont in the identical time of 2:01.2. In his division Minore notched is 100th career victory with a come-from-behind triumph to score a head victory over a stubborn Fox Valley Steffen, driven by Jennifer Lappe. Tony Verruso garnered the show dough with Flirting Duezy, who was another half length back in third. "After starting from the seven-hole and sitting in sixth position some 10 lengths off the lead, I knew with the quick early fractions of :28.2 and :58.1 that they (the leaders) would be coming back to me late in the mile," Minore said after the race. "And that's just what happened. "When we headed for the three quarters I moved my trotter to the outside and we began picking up horses. Although I was still fifth on the final turn the front-end horses began to tire and I was able to get the lead just before the wire." It was the first time Minore drove Stayin Strong, who was win-less in 12 previous starts. The 5-year-old Muscles Yankee gelding is owned by Adam Friedland and trained by Craig Mosher. He paid $15.80; $6.10 and $4.20 across the board. In the second split -race nine- Minore was up behind Wygant Prince who was 2:00.3 winner in his last start but a third place finish was all the veteran gelding could muster in an action packed event dotted with breaking horses. When the starter said "go" Schwartz hustled his charge to the lead with Monica Banca and Brandos Muscle Man on the limb challenging. As the two approached the first stanza Schwartz grabbed leather and allowed Banca to take command and then immediately retook the lead. The two trotters raced one-two past the half after Eyore Hanover (David Glasser) Tim Lizzi (Bob Davis) and Here Comes Numbers (Jennifer Lappe) all went off-stride. As the leaders headed into the final turn Tony Verruso, who was saving all the ground while traveling along the pylons with Gifted Way, decided to move for the lead on the turn but unfortunately his charge went off-stride which undoubtedly cost them the race. Although the aforementioned happened behind Schwartz who was cutting the mile, he remained undeterred and kept urging his trotter all the way to the wire. At the finish, Ladys Big Stormont was one-length winner over Brandos Muscle Man. And as stated earlier Wygant Prince took home he show dough. "After the race I was told that I had a lucky break when Gifted Way went off-stride, and maybe I did. But when it was all over my horse got the biggest share of the purse," Schwartz related. :He's (my horse) not one to ever count out. After all, he won 12 races last season and now has three wins already this year." The betting crowd was certainly in Schwartz's corner as they sent Ladys Big Stormont off as the odds-on favorite in the race. He is owned and trained by his driver and paid just $3.30 for win. On Friday, May 3 the eighth leg of the NAADA series will again be contested at Yonkers Raceway by John Manzi for NAADA

To say that Monday (April 13) was a horrible day for harness racing at Monticello Raceway would be a gross understatement. With the falling rain, the near freezing temperatures, and the muddy race track, it was a tough day for all the participants. And it just so happened that was the first day of the Hungary vs. USA international driving competition with contests to follow at Yonkers Raceway on Tuesday and at Saratoga Raceway on Thursday. But despite the adverse conditions all went well with both Hungary and the USA each winning a race. With the USA team being complimented with members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) the first event saw NAADA's Paul Minore set sail from post three with 16-1 shot, Lightning Madison, and not only easily grab the front-end but in the process go wire to wire making every pole a winning one en route to a four length triumph over Sureimalynn, handled by Hungary's, Kriztian Fazekas. And the final time of 2:08.2 was indicative of the track condition.The USA's Monica Banca took home the show dough with Jaybeebullville. "I got to the lead real easily so I just kept going on and not looking for cover," Minore related in the paddock after the race was completed. "In spite of the inclement weather it was fun. Of course, winning is always fun." Sent off at odds of 16-1 Lightning Madison paid $34.00; $7.20; and $8.30 across the board. The 11-year-old Pro Bono Best mare is owned by Ruth Ingham and trained by Vernon James. In conversation after the race Minore told how he has been fortunate when racing against European amateurs abroad. " I have been lucky to win three times in Europe on different occasions," he said. "I won last September against the Hungarians in Budapeste and in previous years I won a race at Vienna, Austria and at Solvalla in Stockholm, Sweden." Minore, a retired physical education teacher and high school coach, is proud of having world champion and Olympic multi-Gold Medal winner, Carl Lewis, begin his fabulous career under his tutelage. The second USA v Hungary contest was won by Andrea Fazekas who showed real talent in keeping her pacer,Rosie Rozzo, alive in the final quarter after being collared by Diamondsforember ( Alan Schwartz-USA) on the final turn and then go on to a length triumph in 2:04 over her challenger. Monica Banca, also representing the home team, finished third again, this time with Check My Pulse. In the post race interview Ms Fazekas was assisted by her hubby and professional driver Tamas Keleman who is fluent in English. Through Tamas, Andrea related that she listened to instructions given to her prior to the race where she was told to go to the lead. Then in her broken English she said she felt the nose of a horse that was breathing on her back on the final turn but concentrated on Alan Schwartz who was challenging with Diamondsforember. However in the deep stretch Ms Fazekas and Rosie Rozzo went on to a one length triumph. Sent off as the favorite in the race the winner paid $3.90; $3.00 and $2.30. The Yankee Cruise 5-year-old mare is owned and trained by Jody Weidman. Two things of note in the final USA-Hungary competition today are that Ms Fazekas was challenged, but to avail, by her mother, Andrea Nagyvary, who finished sixth in the race with Fly To The Angels. And after the last race in the competition at Saratoga on Thursday Andrea Fazekas and her hubby will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to the Dominican Republic. The USA-Hungary competition moves to Yonkers Raceway tomorrow night with two races on the betting card. The Hungarian team will remain the same but driving there for the NAADA team will be Joe Faraldo, Jennifer Lappe, Alan Schwartz and Joe Lee. by John Manzi for NAADA

On Thursday afternoon April 12 at Monticello Raceway, harness racing driver Michael Merton put on a driving clinic and won 5 of the afternoons 9 races. Merton started off the day by winning both ends of the early daily double with Musical Romance (1:59.3 - $3.80) and Sly Ruler (1:57.2 - $5.80). He came right back in the next race and scored with Wink And Nod (1:59 - $9.30). The next trip to the winner's circle came in the 7th race aboard Try's Little Prince (1:57.4 - $10.00) that win gave trainer Robert Lounsbury a training double for the day. The 5th win came in the last race of the day with Vinnies Valentine (1:58.1 - $12.00) Going into the day, Merton was the leading dash driver, the five-bagger upped his tally to 74 wins, James DeVaux is tied in second place with former Monticello Raceway Rising Star Austin Siegelman, both with 68 wins, Bruce Aldrich is 3rd with 58 wins. By: Shawn Wiles

On an extremely foggy afternoon with intermittent rain falling in New York's southern Catskill Mountains harness racing driver Paul Minore sat a two-hole trip then rallied his old warhorse, Wygant Prince, to a neck victory in the third leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday March 29. After starting from the pole position Minore parked Jennifer Lappe's Here Come Numbers around the first turn then allowed the 10-year-old gelding to take command as the field trotted by the first panel in :29. "I didn't want Here Comes Numbers to take command with ease so I parked him a ways and then let Jennifer have the lead," Minore related in the paddock after the race was over. "I figured I'd get a good two-hole trip behind her because her trotter was the betting favorite and had raced well in his recent starts." Once on top Lappe showed the way by the half in :59.2 with Wygant Prince tucked in tightly behind her trotter. As the seven-horse passed the third stanza in 1:30.1 Here Comes Numbers opened up daylight and he was 2-1/2 lengths in front as they headed for paydirt. "She (Ms Lappe) got away a bit on the final turn but once we straightened for home my horse began to grind away at the leader and in the final strides we got up for a neck victory in 2:00.3. Third place went to Connie Keeper , driven by Tony Verruso. The race winner, an 11 year-old altered son of SJ's Photo, notched his third seasonal victory and the 34th of his illustrious career and leaves him just $93 short of $400,000 in lifetime earnings. He is owned by Minore and trained by Taylor Gower. As for Minore it was his 94th career driving victory in the USA and when one counts Minore's three triumphs in races contested in Europe he now needs just three more for 100 lifetime victories. The NAADA trotting series continues next Thursday at Yonkers Raceway. by John Manzi, for NAADA

Sporting brand new driving colors harness racing driver Tony Ciuffetelli bidded his time and then rallied Better To Be Lucky to a come-from-behind victory in the NAADA Trotting Series season's opener at Monticello Raceway on the ides of March. They traveled along in third position until the three quarters as Monica Banca and Master of Excuses cut all the fractions before yielding in the deep stretch. Third place in the 2:00 trotting mile went to Ladys Big Stormont, driven by Alan Schwartz. "He raced good today," Ciuffetelli said as he hung up the lines after his driving victory. "It (the race) didn't go as I had planned. I had visions of taking the lead but when I saw that Monica (Banca) wanted the front-end I eased my trotter down along the pylons into third position. "I ended-up having a good trip and waited as long as I could to make a move for the lead which I did as we neared the three quarters. After ranging alongside Monica's horse (Master of Excuses) we raced head to head around the final turn and by mid-stretch I knew we'd be the winner." Better To be Lucky pulled away in the final strides for the trotter's second consecutive victory, having won a claiming trot at Saratoga Raceway on March 4th with Phil Fluet at the reins. Sent off as second choice, at odds of better than 2-1, the winner paid $6.60. Ciuffettelli owns and trains the 6-year-old Lucky Chucky gelding who notched his second seasonal triumph. For Ciuffetelli, a retired corrections officer, it marked his third seasonal driving victory in just seven trips to post and his 53rd career triumph. Today's NAADA Trot was the first in a two-track trotting series--with Yonkers Raceway--which will end in a $15,000 Final at the Hilltop oval on Friday, May 17. Next up will be a leg at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday March 22. by John Manzi, for NAADA

Due to Winter Storm Quinn and the timing of the storm, Monticello Raceway has cancelled its live racing program and all simulcasting for Wednesday March 7. A decision on Thursday's race card will be made Thursday morning at 8am. Shawn Wiles      

Hightstown, NJ --- Steve Rybka had driven in several races in his young harness racing career prior to his trip around Monticello Raceway on Jan. 3 with Rockintheniteaway, but he had never experienced feelings on the racetrack like he did that afternoon. “I got goose bumps at the three-quarter pole,” the 22-year-old Rybka said. “I came second over and once I tipped her and cleared, I was thinking I was going to win. It was a different feeling. I got butterflies in my stomach.” Rybka guided Rockintheniteaway to a 2-1/4 length win that afternoon, at odds of 28-1, for his first career victory as a driver. The New York native had three wins as a trainer in 2017, all with Cruzing Hill at Saratoga. “I was just really happy, and happy with the horse,” Rybka said about his driving triumph. “She was 28-1, but I was happy with how she was training and thought she had a shot that day. It was definitely a cool feeling. I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure.” Rybka, who lives in upstate New York about 20 miles south of Albany, followed his father, Darren Rybka Sr., and brother, Darren Rybka Jr., into the sport. “I was at the barn all the time growing up,” Rybka said. “Once I got out of high school, I worked for a year and then I came back and started working for a bunch of people (in harness racing) again. It’s pretty addicting. “I pretty much wanted to do this my whole life. I always wanted to have a stable of my own.” Rybka is training two horses in addition to trying to make it as a driver. He has driven at Monticello and Saratoga, posting one win, three seconds and four thirds in 16 lifetime starts. “Driving is what I want to do,” Rybka said. “I’d like to have my own horses too, maybe four or five, a small stable. But I definitely want to be a catch driver. “It’s not going to happen overnight. Saratoga is not an easy place to start, but I’ve got to give it a shot. I just want to get my name out there. Maybe I can get a couple shots and have some success. I just want to put a good image out there and do my best for everybody.” Rybka played football and basketball in high school and enjoys the competitiveness of racing. “It reminds me of playing sports,” Rybka said. “I get the same feeling when I get on the track, the adrenaline rush. When you get into a race, it’s really unbelievable.” Rybka and Rockintheniteaway will be in action again Thursday at Saratoga. He is hoping to drive more often as the year progresses and gain valuable experience. “I think I can handle a horse pretty well and I get along with them,” Rybka said. “I try to drive smart. I can read a program pretty good; I can handicap a race. And I feel like I can put horses in good spots and give them a good trip. But every single horse is different. The more you sit behind, the more you’re going to learn. “If I drive 10 horses next week and every one of them has the eight hole, that doesn’t bother me because I’m still learning. Any drive is a drive. It doesn’t matter if I’m driving the favorite or if I’m driving 99-1. I just love the competition. And I love the animals. They’re cool animals and they’re fun to be around. They definitely give you a lot of memories you won’t forget.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

It's Eric Warner's job to set up the daily race fields at Monticello Raceway but you can’t draw up what you don’t have. The raceway was forced to cancel its scheduled extra harness racing card for Friday afternoon because there’s a “severe horse shortage,″ as stated by the New York State Gaming Commission. An ideal day calls for 80 horses to make a full card, said Warner, Monticello’s director of racing. Monticello managed to schedule 10 races on Monday and Tuesday, and has nine scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Friday was a rare opportunity for a fifth day of racing at Monticello but a sufficient lineup was unavailable. “It’s industry-wide at this point,″ Warner said. “We try to race more times during the winter because other tracks are closed and we generally have more horse population to race but at this point we didn’t have enough to go five days. ... It is disappointing.″ Warner said many horses are stabled at the facility and others are transported from farms in the Middletown and Pine Bush area. Some horses come from as far away as the Saratoga region and northeast Pennsylvania but those horses may be unavailable as their owners get them ready for the upcoming openings at Saratoga Casino Hotel next month and Mohegan Sun Pocono in the spring. “I have said over and over again, there is not a shortage of horses; there’s too much racing,″ said Buffalo Raceway chief operating officer Jim Mango. Buffalo tried to schedule three days of racing but had to cancel its Friday cards last week, this week and next because of the shortage. Mango said his Buffalo facility was stabling 300 horses at this time last year and only 130 now. “In New York state, at any one time you could have five (harness) race tracks going ... it’s just ridiculous,″ said the outspoken Mango. “We’re trying to deal with it as an industry where there unquestionably has to be a reduction of race days.″ “It’s definitely a serious problem, especially for the tracks that are racing the lower class of horses, which certainly the small harness tracks are in the category like that, the tracks that offer the smaller purses.″ Monticello Raceway actually had to get approval from the state gaming commission to cancel since all race dates are applied for and approved by the commission. Monticello has three remaining “fifth” racing dates on July 6, Aug. 3 and Dec. 21. Series schedules announced The New York Sire Stakes season will culminate with the $1.8 million finals hosted by Yonkers Raceway on Sept. 22. The finals for the Excelsior Series will be hosted by Saratoga on Sept. 23. The Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series divisions will open action at Yonkers on May 8. Goshen Historic Track will host events in both series on June 30 and July 1. The schedule for the County Fair Series will be released in a few weeks. The New York Sire Stakes is the premier harness-racing program for 2- and 3-year-old Standardbreds, and is administered by the Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. At a glance New York Sire Stakes schedule (for local tracks) 3-year-old Colt Pace: June 18 at Monticello; June 30 at Goshen; July 30, Aug. 28, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Pace: June 30 at Goshen; Aug. 6 at Monticello; Sept. 6, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 2-year-old Colt Pace: June 26, Aug. 24, Sept. 22 at Yonkers; July 4 at Monticello 2-year-old Filly Pace: July 6, July 24, Sept. 22 at Yonkers; Sept. 10 at Monticello 3-year-old Colt Trot: July 1 at Goshen; July 16 at Monticello; July 27, Sept. 11, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Trot: May 8, Aug. 7, Sept. 22 at Yonkers; June 4 at Monticello; July 1 at Goshen 2-year-old Colt Trot: July 9 at Monticello; Aug. 20, Sept. 14, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 2-year-old Filly Trot: June 25 at Monticello; July 3, Aug. 13, Sept. 22 at Yonkers New York State Excelsior Series 3-year-old Colt Pace: June 18 at Monticello; June 30 at Goshen; July 30, Aug. 28 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Pace: June 21, Sept. 6 at Yonkers; June 30 at Goshen; Aug. 6 at Monticello 2-year-old Colt Pace: June 26, Aug. 24 at Yonkers; July 4 at Monticello 2-year-old Filly Pace: July 6, July 24 at Yonkers; Sept. 10 at Monticello 3-year-old Colt Trot: July 1 at Goshen; July 16 at Monticello; July 27, Sept. 11 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Trot: May 8, Aug. 7 at Yonkers; June 4 at Monticello; July 1 at Goshen 2-year-old Colt Trot: July 9 at Monticello; Aug. 20, Sept. 14 at Yonkers 2-year-old Filly Trot: June 25 at Monticello; July 3, Aug. 13 at Yonkers By Ken McMillan Reprinted with permission of The Times Herald-Record

Michael Merton notched his 3,000th harness racing career winning drive at Monticello Raceway on Thursday January 18. The milestone win came aboard Armor Hanover in the 7th race, the 9-year-old SJ'S Caviar gelding won by 7 lengths in 1:57.2, he is owned and trained by Doug Berkeley of Montgomery NY. Michael hails from a family that has been deeply embedded at Monticello Raceway since its inception in 1958. Michael started his career driving as an amateur, he then received his P license in 1991. Michael and his brother Greg has been mainstays in the Monticello Raceway backstretch and driving colony for decades. 2017 was a banner year for Michael, he drove 257 winners and amassed a personal best of $1,150,003 in yearly purses earned, his career earnings are a respectable $10,628,662. Michael was greeted in the winner's circle by many of his fellow horseman, family member and well-wishers. Wasting no time, Merton won the final race of the card with Ideal Candidate, setting his sites on 4000. By: Shawn Wiles

One harness racing dynasty ends and another continues, Dolores Basilone secured her second consecutive training title at Monticello Raceway, along the way she set a new mark with the most wins for a Monticello trainer with 222 trips to the winner's circle, the new mark surpassed the former record of 218 wins held by Joe Minieri. Basilone's tally of 222 wins including 4 wins off the grounds vaults her into 6th nationally, her barn earned $754,072 in 948 starts at Monticello Raceway. Gary Messenger was second with 116 wins, followed by Robert Lounsbury was third with 113, Dan Gill, 85 and rounding out the top 5 was newcomer Jennifer Lappe. Jim Devaux also had a career best year as he took home his first ever leading dash winner title with 301 wins in 1204 starts and ended the year with Monticello earnings of $986,516. Devaux also notched a milestone when he drove his 5,000 winner earlier this fall. The double driving Devaux also finished 3rd for the most wins at Saratoga Raceway. Devauxs numbers also warranted national attention, as he finished 6th place in the nation with 544 wins and earnings of $3,005.547. James Taggart Jr. was second in the drivers standing with 256 wins and former Monticello Raceway leading dash winner Bruce Aldrich Jr. was 3rd with 244, followed by Michael Merton with 200 and Kyle Dibenedetto with 144 and the morning line favorite to be a future dash winner, Austin Siegelman also had 144 wins to his credit. by: Shawn Wiles  

It is rare to have a 14-year-old veteran harness racing  campaigner stay sound long enough to race until their 15th birthday, but on Wednesday December 27, Monticello Raceway had 2 - 14-year-old warriors race in their final career start in the same race, Grecale AS and Schalom G. Grecale AS retires as the winningest aged trotter in North America in 2017 with 17 wins. The son of Sugarcane Hanover has a stellar season with yearly earnings over $50,000. Grecale AS is trained by Don Hoover of Ballston Spa, NY, his final career tally race is 299 - 59 - 42 - 24, $393,089 and a lifetime mark of 1:56 as a 10-year-old. The other elder statesman is Schalom G, a son of Toss Out - Pleasure Way, ironically, took his lifetime mark (1:52.4) as the age of 10 also. Schalom G is owned and trained by harness racing blue blood Jim Doherty Jr. of Monticello NY. His final career tally is 245 43-34-27 and $373,520. Schalom G recently did his Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer impression over the weekend for his young fans in Liberty NY. Grecale AS and Schalom G. are both foreign bred, Grecale AS was foaled in Italy and Schalom G was foaled in Germany, in 2003. The barefooted Grecale AS, went out in style as he scored an easy wire to wire victory in 2:03.4 with Monticello Raceway leading dash winner James Devaux at the helm, Schalom G finished a game 4th. By: Shawn Wiles

In the harness racing winner’s circle after the 7th race on Tuesday, December 5 at Monticello Raceway, longtime Monticello Raceway horseman Norman Bradbury was honored for his extensive and prominent career and was honored in a retirement ceremony. The native of Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, Norman Bradbury has been a fixture at Monticello Raceway for over 4 decades since his first start in 1979.  Prior to arriving to the backstretch of Monticello, Norman served as trainer for the Grey Brothers of Providence, Rhode Island for many years and trained several winters in Pinehurst NC. Norman and his wife Donna, a longtime Monticello Raceway employee where married in Pinehurst in 1976.   During his rich career, he has enjoyed many highlights, Normans career pinnacle moment came aboard Kittiwake, ($554,206 – 1:54.3) when he drove her to victory in the Lady Catskill at his home track Monticello Raceway. Other of Bradbury’s top performers include Pride N Price, Tiffany Collins, Good Night Action and the recently retired Red Eye Bluechip. Norman’s final career stats display 403 driving wins, $1,390,362 in amassed purse earnings, he trained winners of over $1,797,797. The 7th race of the program was carded as the Norman Bradbury Retirement Race, it contained a field of gritty campaigners, much like Norman. After an early slugfest between Fools Gold (PP3) and (Kyle Dibenedetto) who set a 28 second opening quarter, Can’t Knock M finally got the lead at the half in 58.2 B Seventeen, who was driven by Justin Huckabone started the outer flow at this point. The stealthy Vaganova (Jim Devaux) followed B Seventeen with live cover right behind B Seventeen, B Seventeen got the lead down backstretch as they hit the ¾ in 1:28, as they turned for home, both were poised for victory, the duo raced in tandem down the lane and split the teletimer at the exact same time, resulting in a semi rare Dead Heat of 1:58. B Seventeen is a 5 YO Art Major gelding, out of Jugette and multiple stakes winner Armbro Bombay, the former $125,000 yearling is trained by Jon Berube of Circleville, NY, his DH win ticket returned $4.90. Vaganova is trained by Jim Doherty Jr. the 4-year-old son Rock N Roll Heaven who notched his 6th win for the waning 2017, pushing his seasonal earning over $30,000 and paid $22.20. Following the race, Norman was accompanied in the winner’s circle by his wife Donna and son Grant, as well as numerous friends, and many of the horsemen that he has come to know Norman well during his many years in the backstretch of Monticello Raceway. By Shawn Wiles

MONTICELLO, NY - The last two amateur races of the season at Monticello Raceway were contested on Wednesday, November 29 and when the harness racing judges hung the official signs Tony Ciuffetelli emerged victorious in the $6000 NAADA Consolation while Jennifer Lappe copped the $6500 Catskill Club Final. Ciuffetelli reined trotter Better To Be Lucky home first in a 2:01.2 clocking whereas Lapped scored a 1:59.2 triumph with pacer Lightning Strike. There was only a five horse field for the NAADA consolation and taking advantage of the short field Tony Ciuffetelli sent his charge to the lead. Once there they made every pole a winning one en route to a head victory over Connie Keeper and driver Bob Krivelin . "Since my horse is good on the lead, and with the pole position and the short field, I thought the front end was the place to be," Ciuffetelli said after the race. They charged to the front and Better To Be Lucky trotted off to an early lead. But they couldn't shake Connie Keeper who followed along doggedly in the two hole as the others faded lengths behind. When the leaders headed for home Krivelin moved Connie Keeper out to challenge and they raced neck and neck to the finish and at the wire Better To Be Lucky prevailed by a head. Third place went to Grand Vision in rein to Bob Ciavardini. "He had breaking issues earlier this year but he's OK now.", Ciuffetteli said referring to Better To Be Lucky. "I was getting after him pretty good as we neared the wire but he stayed at his work and hung tough today" Ciuffetlli also owns and trains the winner who returned an $8.20 mutuel. The Catskill Amateur Club's finale was a tribute to the ladies as three were finalists and the gals finished one -three an action packed driving finish. When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded Monica Banca sent Fox Valley Leo to the lead followed on the outside by Lightning Strike and driver Jennifer Lappe. But as they approached the first stanza in a swift :27.2 Lappe found room on the inside and tucked in nicely behind the leader. Before the field passed the halfway point in .57.2 Gerry Fielding was out and going with Troon, the betting favorite. They rallied alongside Fox Valley Leo as the three quarter timer flashed 1:27.4. When they straightened for paydirt Fox Valley Leo and Troon battled side by side and then in mid-stretch they were joined in the passing lane by Lucky Strike and the three raced to the finish. At the wire Lappe's pacer, Lucky Strike, prevailed by a length. Troon was second and Fox Valley Leo third. "We got lucky finding room along the pylons or we'd have been hung out," a joyous Lappe related in the paddock as she hung up the lines. "Lightning Strike is a pleasure to drive and I guess we just clicked." It marked Lucky Strike's fourth victory in his last five starts for Lappe. Owned and trained by Bill Mintz he paid $4.00 for win. On Friday the $15,000 NAADA Final will be contested at Yonkers Raceway as a non-wagering affair prior to the first race on the betting card. by John Manzi for NAADA and the CADC

Monticello Raceway featured its normal Thursday mainstay, the harness racing 'Catskill Amateur Driving Event'. Changing her tactics and deviating from the norm this week rather than cut the mile, Jennifer Lappe was content to sit the pocket journey while Monica Banca aboard Fox Valley Leo cut the fractions. Monica Banca and Fox Valley Leo left the gate first from post 5 and had the lead in the first turn, Lightning Strike the 1-5 favorite and Jennifer Lappe protected their position from the 2 hole and settled in the garden spot while Fox Valley Leo left splits of 28.2, 58.4. 1:29.2 on the teletimer. Bob Davis and Sand Benelli tried to get the outer flow going at the half in the small 6 horse field but found no takers, but continued to grind it out on the backside. At this point the heavy track took its toll on Fox Valley Leo as Banca popped the ear plugs at the ¾, but to no avail as the early pacesetter faded in the lane. Sand Benelli ranged into contention of the top of the stretch, but the real estate saving Lightning Strike was able to clear and go on to win by a length over Sand Benelli in 2:00:2. It was the third win in a row for Lappe and Lightning Strike, the 9 YO gelding by Cam Terrific is trained and owned by William Mintz, and in the process picked up his 7th seasonal win. Paul Walker and Doc's Zippy were 3rd. All 3 of Lightning Strikes string of wins have come in the Catskill Amateur events and has 4 wins in 6 starts in the event. Live racing resumes on Monday November 20 with a 12:25 post time. By: Shawn Wiles

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