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MANALAPAN, NJ – December 13, 2014 – Eric Abbatiello captured his fifth driving title and Nick Surick claimed his first training title when the 2014 racing season concluded at Freehold Raceway on Saturday, December 13, 2014. Abbatiello completed the 2014 meet with 190 wins, 185 seconds and 134 thirds from 995 starts and earnings of $719,339.  “It’s been a pleasure to compete at Freehold Raceway and win the driving title the last five years,” Abbatiello said. “A special thanks to all the trainers, owners and grooms who have given me a chance to compete with their horses.” Abbatiello, 46, from East Windsor, NJ, has 1,647 career victories and nearly $11 million in earnings.  The runners-up in the driving competition at Freehold were James Marshall III with 148 wins, Stephen Smith with 127 and Vincent Ginsburg with 117. Surick collected 54 training wins during the meet toward his career total of 466. His stable also lead the way with earnings of $199,465.  “Freehold Raceway is synonymous with harness racing, and Freehold is my hometown,” said Surick, 26, from Freehold, NJ. “There is no higher honor than one being bestowed on you in your hometown. Winning the training title at Freehold Raceway was once a dream; now it’s a reality.” Vincent Fusco with 41 wins, Karen Garland with 33 wins and Julius Czermann Jr. with 31 wins were his closest challengers in the trainers’ race.  The end of the meet also marked the end of the racing career of Newsam, a 14-year-old gelding, who was honored in the winner’s circle after he won the second race. He retires with 63 victories, 49 second and 49 thirds from 313 starts, and earnings of $393,732.  He has spent most of his racing career with owner Robin Hess of Burlington, NJ and trainer Ken Hess. His final campaign also produced his most wins in a year – 10.  Freehold’s live racing season resumes on January 2, 2015 with a 110-date meet. The first qualifiers will be held on Friday, January 2 before switching to Thursday mornings. Post time for qualifiers is 9:30 a.m. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - October 18, 2014 - George "The Minister of Speed" Brennan pressed Cut A Deal in a move to the lead on the final turn and drew away for a nine and three-quarter length victory in the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres Final for three-year-old pacing fillies, the third race on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at Freehold Raceway. Cut A Deal [$8.20] followed 1-5 favorite Fanticipation before pulling away for the victory, crossing the wire in 1:54.2, tossing in a last quarter of 28.4. Both are daughters of Rocknroll Hanover. Ideal Helen [Western Ideal] was third by 13 1/4 lengths. Cut A Deal, trained by Nick Surick, improved her record to four wins, two seconds and six thirds in 24 starts this year and has finished in-the-money in 20 of 36 career outings. The victory pushed her career bankroll to $106,295 for the JL Benson Stables Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Cut A Deal The Green Acres program has two more events in 2014 - both for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters - the third leg on October 23 and the $25,000 final on October 30. The last of the New Jersey Futurity divisions for two-year-old pacers is set for October 25, also at Freehold. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, October 8, 2014--Yonkers Raceway has a simple four-word, 15-letter request for everyone attending the sixth annual harness racing Fall Harvest Festival, set for this Saturday night (Oct. 11). "Have Fun. Wear Pink." All the popular Festival sights, sounds and tastes are back... ...live music, pony rides, New York State craft beers, exciting harness racing (including the Legislators' Challenge), face painting, a pumpkin patch and so much more in a fun, family atmosphere. Now, the reason for the request. Empire City, Yonkers Raceway, its horsemen and the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) have once again joined in the fight against breast cancer. A donation of $10 shall be made (with a maximum gift of $15,000) to the Susan G. Komen Greater NYC Chapter for every Fall Harvest Festival guest who wears the color du jour. In keeping with the theme, pink horseshoes shall be given away on the apron (while supplies last), all the drivers that evening are carrying pink whips and the winning horses receive pink blankets, sponsored (alphabetically) by Team Allard, Richard Banca, Amber Buter, Rick Dane Jr., Scott DiDomenico, Mark Ford, Allan Johnson, Peter Pellegrino, Jody Riedel, Brittany Robertson, Nick Surick and Anita Vallee. Representatives from the Komen organization are also going to be on hand to answer questions, provide informational materials and accept an oversized donation check in the winner's circle at 6:30 PM. Need some extra incentive to help a worthy cause? The first 1,500 Empire Club members who visit a promotions booth that day receive a free, $2 exacta box ticket on one of that evening's live races. The Fall Harvest Festival takes place trackside from 4 PM-8 PM, with the first Legislators' Challenge races set for 5:30 PM. Post time for the live racing card is the usual 7:10 PM. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

If you like trotters then Mohawk Racetrack was the place to be Tuesday evening, as the Campbellville, Ontario oval hosted five OSS Grassroots divisions for three-year-old fillies of the square-gaited variety. Quadrophenia prevailed in the first division, though things didn’t look pretty for the Dave Menary trainee at the head of the lane. James MacDonald treated the even-money favourite to a two-hole trip behind Diamonds For Life who threw down panels of :28, :57.2 and 1:27.1 before coughing up the lead to Suegrabbitnrun. Quadrophenia was double up in the two-hole looking for room, and she was fortune to get it in deep stretch. She then used a :29.4 closing quarter to win by a length over Suegrabbitnrun, with Northern Secret a well-beaten third. Kjell Magne Andersen of Slependen, Norway owns the youngster who improved her 2014 record to 4-2-0 from nine starts with the win. Despite being unraced as a rookie, the filly has stashed away $37,900 to date. Mystical Wishes had a rough trip at Rideau Carleton Raceway in her latest, but she bounced back and won as she pleased in the second division. Doug McNair rallied the 1-5 favourite to the three-length score over Flexible Woman in 1:57.1. Taking home the show dough was Carefulwhatyouwish. Tony Alagna trains the homebred daughter of Muscle Mass for Indiana partners, Mystical Marker Farms LLC of Dyer and Peggy Hood of Valparaiso. The filly was winless in four starts last season, but she’s now 6-for-11 this year. She’s managed to bank over $48,000 to date. Dream Act destroyed the field she faced in the third division. Mario Baillargeon powered to the lead with the daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe-Dream Of Becca, and she successfully whacked out panels of :28, :56.4 and 1:25.2 en route to the eight-length triumph over Aphrodity in 1:55.2. Missys Ga Ga rounded out the top three finishers. Andy Miller Stable Inc, Nick Surick and Hannah Miller share ownership on the Ben Baillargeon trainee who won for the first time in six starts this season. The $9,000 payday lifted her lifetime loot to $34,320. Serendipitious forced a recall in the fourth division when she broke behind the gate and had her overcheck pop off, but she had a flawless start the second go around and went on to post a victory for driver Chris Christoforou. The Daughter of Majestic Son-Royal B G survived a first-over trip en route to posting the 1:58.2 win over Doweypuffandhow and Capturethememory. Guy Polillo of Brantford, Ontario owns the filly who is now 2-for-2 since relocating to the stable of trainer John Mungillo. The three-time winner bumped her lifetime bankroll to $28,772 with the win. Torches Star extended her OSS winning streak to three-in-a-row thanks to a career-best clocking of 1:57.2 in the final division. Steve Condren brushed the Ben Wallace trainee to the lead in the backstretch, and after doling out middle splits of :58 and 1:28 she was able to generate a :29.2 closing quarter which was good enough to earn her the score by three-quarters of a length over Chelseas Chance. Taking home the show dough was K D Bella. Brad Grant of Milton, Ontario owns the filly who improved this year’s record to 4-0-2 from 11 starts with the win. She’s banked in excess of $40,000 this year and more than $88,000 to date.   Before the pari-mutuel card got underway at Mohawk tonight, the $18,000 Grassroots final division for 3yo filly trotters that was rained out last night was held as a non-wagering event prior to Tuesday evening’s 12-race card. Jack Litten shot to the top from Post 8 for driver Doug McNair, and after slicing out splits of :27.4, :57.2 and 1:26.4 he fired home in :29.4 to win by 2-3/4 lengths over Class Me Nice in 1:56.3. Taking home third prize was Massive Pockets. Gregg McNair trains the son of Muscle Mass-PJ Naomi for Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, Michigan, and together they watched the gelding improve this year’s record to 2-1-3 from 11 starts with the win. The $9,000 payday bumped his overall earnings to $38,962. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

HONESDALE PA, Wed., Aug. 6 - Come tomorrow morning, Jeff Firmstone, racing secretary at the Wayne County Fair in Honesdale PA, may have a painting chore to perform - but it'll be one he'd be happy to do. Today is the first day of the Honesdale Fair's racing program under the "Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes 2-Day Meet" banner, sponsored by the local Jaycees, and Firmstone has two fields set to go in a $2200 free-for-all pace. With good weather and good luck, Jeff thinks his fields have a chance to rewrite the all-time local pacing record of 1:56.2, set by Alastor Hanover in 2010 - and if that happens, on Thursday Firmstone and buckets and brushes will be whitewashing and then repainting, and happily. One of the horses who seems to have a good chance is trained and will be driven by the man who holds the current Honesdale standards on both the trot and the pace - Roger Hammer (who set the track trot mark of 2:02 with the renown Vivid Photo during the same week as "Alastor"'s pacing record). He'll be guiding Rockabella, who will start from post two in the second division. Rockabella won over the Philadelphia oval in 1:52f two starts ago, and he has a positional edge on his main paper foe, Only The Lonely (outside post four, driver Hannah Miller, trainer Nick Surick), who has also won in 1:52 this year, was racetimed in 1:50.4 at The Meadowlands in his last start, and shows half-mile track ability with a win at Monticello earlier this campaign. The Miller/Surick team will also start Esprit De Kayjay A from post three in the first FFA division - this one has a lifetime mark of 1:51.3, and in 2014 won a qualifier over the half-mile track at Freehold in 1:55.4h. Just to "Esprit"'s outside is the ageless Tarver Hanover - perhaps not quite the 1:49.2 pacer of yesteryear, nor the 1:52.3h winner at Harrington a couple of campaigns back, but the 13YO from the Dinges barn has been consistently pacing sub-1:55 miles at Pocono and Tioga in recent starts. FINISHING LINES - Hannah Miller, from the Erv/Marcus line of Millers (not the David/Brett line), has a lifetime UDR of .556 in the first eight driving starts of her career. She may improve on that figure with some luck today, when racing begins at Honesdale at 4 p.m. From the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association  

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 31, 2014 - If the pieces all fall into place, the connections of Western Vintage could be sipping champagne on Saturday. the son of Western Ideal is making his return to the races, after being sidelined since late June, in the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic, the fourth of 15 races on the Hambletonian Day program on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at the Meadowlands. The New Jersey Classic and its filly companion event, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for fillies, are restricted to New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers. Both events are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. In a well-balanced field, Western Vintage is rated the 5-2 second choice [Doo Wop Hanover is 9-5] and will leave from post two with Brian Sears at the lines. Last season, Western Vintage won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing colts and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. This all marked the bargain colt - he cost only $7,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale - as a potential divisional star at three. Health issues, however, detoured Western Vintage after four starts this spring. "We gave him a break after the Hempt [on June 21] for a couple of reasons," said Perry Soderberg, the colt's co-owner. "One, because he had some really tough races up to that point, and two, his blood work wasn't perfect so we needed some time to improve that. It is a long year and another year after this one, so we want to take care of the horse." Western Vintage opened his 2014 campaign with a New Jersey Sire Stakes win in 1:49.4 on May 17 at the Meadowlands and a week later was second to Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 final. Then it was on the road to Mohawk Raceway for the North America Cup elims [he finished fourth] and to Pocono for the Hempt [he was eighth]. Trainer Nancy Johansson qualified Western Vintage twice in July, including a 1:50.3 clocking and five and a half length victory on July 19 in the hands of new pilot Brian Sears. "Well, Yannick [Gingras, who previously drove the colt] has been great, but he has [Jimmy] Takter's and [Ron] Burke's horses to choose from down the road, and they have been better than mine so far this year," Soderberg explained. "I know Brian has JK Endofanera and other options as well, but I am thankful that he wants to drive him now. "All in all, I thought it was time to get the horse used to different drivers," he added. "He has been a bit tricky to drive, but he better get used to different drivers; that's how this business works." Swedish-born Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses since 1986, usually picks out yearlings for others, primarily trainer Jimmy Takter and his owners. But when no one wanted Western Vintage, he purchased the colt for himself for $7,000. Marvin Katz of Toronto bought an interest last October. With $53,890 earned this year, Western Vintage now has a bankroll of $370,728. "Western Vintage is coming in to this race in good shape," said Soderberg. "He qualified well, and I think he is the type of horse that can race good after a break." Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1 Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ  

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 30, 2014 - Saturday's Hambletonian Day 15-race card at the Meadowlands is loaded with rich stakes worth nearly $3.6 million in purse money, including the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic and its filly companion race, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey. The two stakes for New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers are early in the card - the third race for the Miss New Jersey and the fourth race for the New Jersey Classic - and have the possibility of being two of the most contentious and bettor-friendly events, with no prohibitive favorites. Racing conditions for the two stakes were amended to eliminate eliminations. The finals are limited to the 10 highest lifetime money-winning horses in the entry box. To further sweeten the pot, even those who do not share in the top five purse distribution will not go home empty-handed. The connections of the New Jersey Classic colts finishing sixth through 10 will receive $1,500 each while the connections of the Miss New Jersey fillies will receive $1,000 each. "We are very pleased that we have full and competitive fields for both stakes, in fact, 11 entered in each with 10 going postward," said Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey [SBOANJ], which sponsors the two races. "We feel stallions will return to New Jersey once we have casino-infused purses, a likelihood in the next few years, but for now we are trying our best to make it worthwhile for breeders to support our program and owners to buy New Jersey-sired offspring with the opportunity to compete in such events as the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey," Luchento added. Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1   Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 18, 2014 - A late afternoon summer storm failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the 110 golfers who competed at the 19th Annual SBOANJ Golf Outing & Fundraiser on July 14, 2014 at Gambler Ridge Golf Course in Cream Ridge, NJ. A total of 125 golfers and banquet attendees feasted on a prime rib dinner. Numerous door prizes were distributed along with presentations for golfing prowess. Best foursome honors went to Kunz Equine Team of Simon Spicer, Mike Seddon, Shannon Murphy and Johnny Pregman. The "most honest" foursome award went to Jim Hogan, Jesse Johnson, John Hynes and Frank VanWie. Longest drive-prizes went to Hannah Miller, who won Kindle Fire tablet, and Jeff Bamond Jr., who received a Boze Bluetooth speaker Closest to the Pin was Simon Spicer from of the Kunz Equine Team, who won a 32-inch HD TV. Putting contest honors - and $145 - went to Kelly Breen. Frank Lomangino won the drawing for a Track Trainer jog cart, which was donated by Allen Eggert of Pennsbury Enterprises. The 50-50 winner was Garrett Federico, whose share was $895. Sponsorships, key to the fund raising effort which benefits New Jersey's standardbred horsemen in need, were provided at several levels. The overall tournament sponsors were Shay Cowan of Katz/Pierz, and Thomas Cordovano and John Macri of the La Ferla Group. At the Gold Level, the donors were the Meadowlands Racetrack; Drucker, Math & Whitman CPAs; Berman, Gara & Rutsky Group/UBS Financial Services; Joie de Vie Farms and Rollermagic Roller Rinks. At the Silver Level, the donors were Showplace Farms, Gaitway Farms, Federico's Landscape Design, Santoro & Santoro [Dennis Dowd], Valley High Stables, Freehold Raceway, Eposimato Stable, Mark Ford Training Stable, Nick Salenetri, Aetna/Meritain Health, Hambletonian Society and Val D'Or Farms. At the Bronze Level, the donors are Advocacy Management Group, Network Security Group, New Jersey Community Bank, Chris Ryder and Nick Surick. Additional fundraising was accomplished through the donation of goods and services by Bluestone Farms, Deo Volente Farm, Gambler Ridge Golf Club, Ellen Harvey, Meadowbrook Industries, Makefield Highlands Golf Club, Northwood Bloodstock, Pennsbury Enterprises, Reynolds Hay & Straw/Tribute Equine Nutrition, Rick's Saddle Shop/Purina, Baker Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram and Newport Graphics. Dinner, lunch and competition awards were underwritten by Martin Scharf, Deo Volente Farm, Berman, Gara & Rutsky, Electric Battery Company, Network Security Group, Nick Surick, Marc and Marcia Goldberg and Green Acquisition Corp. Hole sponsors were Berman Gara & Rutsky, John and Paula Campbell, Drucker, Math & Whitman, Thomas J. Durkin/ Joseph Spadaro, Green Acquisition Corp, Joie de Vie Farms, Katz/Pierz, La Ferla Group, Meadowlands Racetrack, Andy Miller, Ervin Miller Stable, Network Security Group, Rollermagic Roller Rinks and Suydam Insurance Agency. The SBOANJ golf outing is co-chaired by SBOANJ directors Ed Razzetti and Bob Baggitt Sr. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

It seems like 1:54.3 is a final race time that 4-year-old stallion pacers like to adhere to at Monticello Raceway. On Tuesday (July 8) Only The Lonely joined two others in the Mighty M record books when the son of Western Ideal-Lonesome Day reeled-off a wire to wire triumph in 1:54.3 in his first pari-mutuel start this season. That mile equaled the record held by both All My Life (2005) and Lover Boy (2012). Marcus Miller was in the sulky for trainer Nick Surick and sent Only The Lonely to the lead from the seven-hole and they were in command before the quarter mile was paced in :28.2. From there Miller was just buggy ridding as they passed the half-way point in :57.3 and then they came a final half in :57.0 to win by a one and -a- quarter lengths over Memory Game and by JohnMike Merton. Only The Lonely came into the race off a 1:52.1 qualifier at Gaitway Farm with his trainer at the lines on June 23. Surick watched today and was pleased with his horse's mile. "He won in 1:50 and a piece last year and earned over $96,000 and he went a real good mile here in his first start this year. He We didn't want to face the 'bearcats' in his first start back so I called Eric (Warner Monticello Raceway's director of racing) and he told me he had a race for non-winner of seven races lifetime so we decided to bring him here for his first pari-mutuel start, Surick said and then added,"He (Only The Lonely) went a good mile today on the half-mile track here and he looked like himself. He's a nice horse and we're looking for a year from him." Co-owned by Surick, KDM Stable and the J.L. Benson Stable Only The Lonely paid $3.50 for win. Marcus Miller and Nick Surick teamed- up again in a later race and were victorious with Yanoyanomenow in a time of 1:55.0 However Only The Lonely's 1:54.3 wasn't the fastest mile on the hot and humid afternoon. Trainer Bob Lounsbury's CC Stormy was victorious for Bruce Aldrich, Jr. in 1:54.1. The same combination scored again with Dreamluck in 1:54.4. Also on the card the winningest horse in North America, Diamond Tiara now in a new barn, faced the boys for the first time this year after winning 17 times against her own gender, and she didn't fare well. She finished off the board for the first time in 23 seasonal starts. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Nick Surick, the leading harness racing trainer at Freehold Raceway, did not have a racing background when he became a horseman. All Nick knew was he wanted to be a part of harness racing industry any way possible. As of the 22nd of May, Nick leads as the top trainer at Freehold Raceway with 26 wins out of 118 starts resulting in $86,000 in total purse winnings for 2014. "I have no horse racing background whatsoever" says Nick. "I actually grew up in Freehold, NJ and I lived about five minutes away from Freehold Raceway which was a ten minute bike ride. I used ride my bike to the track to watch the races as a kid." Nick credits his mom, Debbie, for always supporting him. "Through the bad times she helped me, good or bad she always stood behind me. She always wanted me to be happy" says Nick. His parents divorced right around the time Nick was getting into the harness racing industry and it must have been difficult for him, for anyone in that position. What originally drew Nick to the track was the gambling component. Nick's father, Kevin, helped introduce Nick to this unhealthy lifestyle due to the fact that Nick's father had substance abuse issues and was a known gambler. "I was a gambler; I was actually thrown out of a lot of tracks for underage gambling. My father was an alcoholic and a degenerate gambler." Nick admits. "I was more hooked that way more than anything. Aside from the gambling back then, I think the horse itself intrigued me and I liked the animal so much that it was good for me. " "I really wasn't the best student when it came to school." Nick explains, "I really couldn't care less about school. I dropped out of my second year in college so I could train full time when I got the opportunity from one of my big owners, Howard Schneidler. It all came together at the right time. "Once I learned the backside to horse racing, that's when I lost the itch for gambling. It was about growing up, maturing and getting smarter." Nick says. "Now that I was physically with the horse, gambling was not an issue anymore." The fact Nick was able to break away and cut the cord, so to speak, speaks volumes. Once Nick established himself as a horseman, it came to the point where Nick's father was constantly causing Nick problems at the Raceway and in life as a whole. "He caused me a lot of headaches at the track" Nick says about his father. "With me training horses, it wasn't good for him. He started making things up, telling people to bet horses (based) on what I said which are things I never said. If I talk to him a couple times a year, that's a lot. He was hurting my livelihood. "I had to take a step back, even though he's my dad I had to cut him out." Nick admits. "I had to think about my future and hopefully I have a lot of years ahead of me. "Drug and alcohol abuse made him a person he wasn't." Nick continues, "He was nasty to people... when you're under the influence you become a different person." The best piece of advice Nick ever received was from Richard Annunziata and it was about Nick ensuring he surrounds himself with good people. "He told me this when I was 16 and I am 26 now but I still remember it" says Nick. "Surround yourself with successful people; surround yourself with people that are better than you.... If you surround yourself with bad apples, that's who you're going to be. "That's what I did" says Nick. "I cut out all of the bad people from my life. The people who were bringing me down." Once Nick graduated from high school, he admits he changed lives. Nick did a 180 degree turn to better his life and to develop into a better person. Was it easy? That's tough to say as everyone deals with changes in their own manner but knowing that change is needed and working towards that is a task in itself. What Nick did is commendable, not many people can switch 'tracks' in life and to do so at a young and impressionable age is astounding. When Nick got started, he first worked for fellow trainer Eric Abbatiello. "I never had anyone behind me to push me, I did it all on my own." After working with Eric Abbatiello, Nick and his (now former) partner Anna Glide joined forces. "We worked together for four or five years and the business grew together between us" Nick explains. "We went from two horses to thirty five horses almost overnight. "When it comes to owners, I am happy with who I have," Nick says. Once Nick finds people he is comfortable with and who he believes has a good heart, Nick is content and doesn't go looking for more. It's about quality, not quantity for Nick. "I've learned a lot from Erv Miller... like who to accept in your barn." Nick states. "My girlfriend Hannah is his daughter." Working with Erv, Nick says "I've learned to individualize each horse. Treating each horse as their own... treat each horse as a separate entity." "Anytime I need any advice, I can pick up the phone and call Erv," says Nick. "He has one of the best managed barns I've ever seen. His memory is unbelievable!" Nick is open when he admits he doesn't like change, right now he's very happy residing near Freehold Raceway and all the major tracks are within driving distance. "Right now I take it one day at a time" says Nick when asked about what the future may hold for him. "I'm comfortable with my 30 to 40 horse barn." When it comes to Pacers or Trotters, hands down Nick prefers the Pacers. "I just haven't had any luck with the Trotters" laughs Nick. Nick pulls double duty at Freehold Raceway where he drives as well. Nick only plans on driving at Freehold Raceway and admits it's a lot of fun. Nick considers driving more of a hobby compared to training which is his passion. Nick believes the harness racing industry is headed in the proper direction by pushing to have the major races showcased on National TV. "We need a lot more one on one interaction with the drivers, trainers and the public." Nick says. Nick credits the success of his barn to his employees, the second trainers, the grooms and most importantly his owners. "I'm nothing without them and their financial backing" Nick states. "I've got great people behind me; I've got to give them credit. Nick Surick can't take care of 35- 40 horses, it takes a team. There's no magic, its teamwork." Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin @supernovasportsclub.com or Twitter: ScSupernova        

DOVER, Del.---- Elite Awards wins fastest of three $20,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) $20,000 Three-Year-Old Male pace preliminaries, with Casino Bags Carlo and Go Big Spinder, the others while Emeritus Maximus takes the $30,000 Preferred Handicap on a speed-filled Thursday, March 28 at Dover Downs. George Dennis took Elite Awards to the front and continued on for a 1:54.2 success in the first DSBF $20,000 prelim winning for the second-straight time this year and building his career record to nine wins and a second in 10 races. Karen Walls owns the Powerful Toy-Silk Slips gelding trained by Dave Rearic who now has earned $114,225 lifetime. Art Retreat (Tim Tetrick) came on strong to finish second ahead of Hawker (Jeff Fout). The second DSBF prelim was all Casino Bags Carlo as Vince Copeland sailed out of post 7 and never looked back in a 1:54.4 decision. Last November's $100,000 DSBF Final winner made his seasonal debut in this one for Cavalli Pazzi Stables. The Roddly's Bags Again-Casino Bus soph gelding won for the sixth time in his career and now has banked $108,911 in his two seasons of racing. West Star Director (Ben Stafford Jr.) flew down the lane to finish second ahead of By A Noggin (Vic Kirby). Go Big Spinder rushed down the passing lane to score a 1:54.4 triumph in the other $20,000 DSBF prelim with Ron Pierce in the bike. Virginia Louthan, bred, owns and trains toe No Spin Zone-David's Art colt posting his second straight win and fourth of the year. Bobbies Power Play (Bryan Truitt) was second with front-pacing Lewiebyalength (Callahan), third. The DSBF second leg events will be raced Monday through Thursday, next week. The top eight point-getters in the action return the last week of the meet, April 7-10 for $100,000 finals. In the top race on the regular program, Tom Cancelliere's big buy of last Winter, Emeritus Maximus, stepped up to the $30,000 Preferred pace and Ron Pierce did the rest taking the Rocknroll Hanover-Eternity's Delight four-year-old right to the top and made all quarters winning ones for a 1:50.1 conquest. The win was the third in-a-row for the Tom Cancelliere trainee. Lindwood Player (Callahan) charged down the lane to finish second with Feel Like A Fool (Dennis) the show horse. The fastest clocking on the card came in the $17,500 4&5-Year-Old Open Handicap when KDM Stable's Tarpon Hanover made his first local start a 1:49.2 lifetime best as David Miller guided the Badlands Hanover-Tarport Herald four-year-old conditioned by Nick Surick to his second straight win and third of the year. Just A Jolt (Tim Tetrick) was runner-up. EZ Noah (Pierce) took third. . David Miller piloted his second of three wins steering Mike Horn and Bobby Rice's Dirty Devil, a Real Artist-Ms Eyes And Thighs gelding, home in 1:51.2 to win the first of two $15,000 Male Winners-Over paces. Manhattan Rusty N (Callahan) and Poker Hat (Tetrick) were second and third respectively. In another $15,000 division, Kim Vincent left hard with Varsity Hanover and sat second behind Fire In The Belly, who raced outside from the start until reaching the backstretch. Varsity Hanover then came strong in the stretch for owner-trainer Jim Whalen Jr. to get up in 1:51.3 at 8-1 odds. Finishing second was the first loss after five consecutive wins for the game Fire In The Belly. Jolt Of Fire (Allan Davis) was third. Callahan, in his first action since returning from racing in Australia last week, and Miller had three wins each. Tetrick and Pierce made the winner's circle twice. There is no live racing on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday racing begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. To watch races and dine in the Winner's Circle restaurant, call 302-674-4600 for reservations. There is no charge for parking or admission when visiting Dover Downs. Leading harness and thoroughbred simulcasts are featured from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight daily in the Dover Downs Race and Sports Book. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - Yonkers Raceway's stakes season continued Tuesday night, with the opening round of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series. The annual tribute to Teddy Roosevelt, for 3- and 4-year-old gentlemen who are/were non-winners of four races and/or $40,000 through last Dec. 1, offered up eight, $12,500 divisions. Turns out that the last division (Touchdown Mindale) was also the swiftest (1:53.3), with the entire list of winners as such... --Artist Night,g,4 (by American Ideal); co-owners (as Burke Racing) trainer Ron Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,Howard Taylor/driver George Brennan; 1:54/$3.20; --Sir Michigan Z Tam,g,4 (by Somebeachsomewhere); co-owners (trainer/driver) Pat Lachance,M&M Harness Racing,Ira Rosenblum; 1:55.4/$4.10; --Rocks N Bonds,g,4 (by Rocknroll Hanover); owner Kostas Tsanakos/trainer Ivan Llopez/driver Eric Abbatiello; 1:55.1/$4.60; --A Stitch in Time,g,4 (by Kent's on Nuke); owner A Piece of the Action/trainer Lou Pena/driver Brian Sears; 1:54.1/$2.10; --I Dream a Dream,g,4 (by Western Ideal); co-owners Lomangino Standardbreds,Leo Lomangino/trainer-driver Lachance; (life-best) 1:54/$18.60; --Ashley's Husband,g,4 (by Henry Clay); owner W J Donovan/trainer Kyle Spagnola/driver Jordan Derue; 1:56.1/$2.50; --K-Lee's Shakenbake,g,4 (by Raycer Thad); co-owners Martin Scharf,David Linker/trainer Darren Cassar/driver Ron Pierce; 1:54.4/$3; --Touchdown Mindale,g,4 (by Always A Virgin); co-owners Erv Miller Stb,Harvey Eisman,Leland & Owen Mathias/trainer Nick Surick/driver Marcus Miller; 1:53.3/$22.40. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

DOVER, Del.---- For the third consecutive week, Dancin Yankee won the $30,000 Preferred pace and as last week, All Stienam took the $27,500 Delaware Special, both conditioned by Josh Green, at Dover Downs on Thursday, Feb. 13. Ron Pierce made a strong move from fourth to first on the backstretch and then romped to his fifth straight win of the 2014 season, a 1:50 mile on a sloppy track, for owners Rich Lombardo and Baron Racing. The Yankee Cruiser-Dancewiththebest six-year-old has been a convincing winner in each race during the streak. For the Third Straight time Texican N (Ross Wolfenden) had to settle for second-place honors. Adventure Bound (Vic Kirby) finished third in the field reduced to five starters after Special Forces was scratched. As last Thursday, All Stienam came from off-the-pace to win the $27,500 Delaware Special, this time in 1:52.4 with Ross Wolfenden driving the Tell All-Odds On Stienam gelding for JJ&M Stable and Green Racing. Sunshine Superman (Toby Lynch), the leader, and Fool Like A Fool (George Dennis), alongside, cut out the fraction until turning down the land. All Stienam, as he did a week ago, flashed down the lane for his fourth win with a second this season. Feel Like A Fool finished a game second while Full Of Sand (Corey Callahan) edging Sunshine Superman for third. Program favorite Mustang Art was scratched. Lindwood Player and Corey Callahan came on strong to win the $17,500 4&5-Year-Old Open in 1:52. The five-year-old The Panderosa-Direct Player is owned by Mike Casilino and trainer Dylan Davis. Ice Scraper (Roger Plante) was second in front of Just Bettor (Trace Tetrick). A Sweet Ride and Rage N Ryan did not start. A Cool Card closed strongly to score a 1:51.2 victory in a $15,500 Male Winners-Over pace. It marked Callahan's second win on the card. Nick Surick trains the Cole Muffler-Annie You're A Card gelding for Duffy, Paymag and Shim Racing and Mystical Marker Farms. Artists Rally (Trace Tetrick) and Beavercreek Artist (Pierce) was second and third respectively. Dirty Devil was scratched. In $15,000 races, Jim Whalen's 8-1 Varsity Hanover (Kim Vincent) in 1:53.4 and Crissman Inc.'s Fancy Colt (Tony Morgan) in 1:52.4 were winners. Ross Wolfenden and Ron Pierce drove three wins; Trace Tetrick, Corey Callahan, trainers Josh Green and Les Givens and owner Nanticoke Racing had doubles Horsemen acclaimed Track Superintendent Jerry Clifton for his preparation of the track for racing following a six-inch snowfall. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs  

DOVER, Del.--- Traverse Seelster made his first start in a month a winning one taking the $20,000 Open trot in 1:53.1 Lovely Vacation turned in a 1:55.4 succcess in the $15,000 Winners-Over sub-feature trot at Dover Downs on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Corey Callahan and Ron Pierce drove four winners each. Meet leading, and currently the sport's leading driver in 2014, Corey Callahan guided Traverse Seelster into the lead early and led seven rivals home in 1:53.1. The holder of the track record for an older trotter notched his 22 lifetime win earning $425,009 in purses. Awsome Valley, who had been racing on-the-lead with Tony Morgan in recent starts, closed along the passing lane from third to finish second. Modern Family and Daryl Bier challenged for the lead but had to accept third. Keith Pippi owns Traverse Seelster, an Angus Hall-Travelin Lavec gelding, trained by Josh Green. Lovely Vacation and Ron Pierce started from post 1 and controlled the action scoring a 1:55.4 wire-to-wire victory in the $15,000 Winners-Over Handicap trot. Nick Surick conditions the Majestic Son-Short Vacation five-year-old mare, the only female in the event, for owner Diane Giuliano. Can Do (Vic Kirby) closed well for second-place honors with I'm So Striking (Eddie Dennis), who had a two-race win streak halted, finishing third. Jailhouse Juice streaked down the lane to overtake Pounce Hanover (Vic Kirby), to win the $14,500 4&5-Year-Old trot in a career fastest 1:54.4. Trained and driven by Toby Lynch, owns the Jailhouse Jesse-Wine Chip gelding with his son Jason Lynch. Amiga Valley (Montrell Teague) picked up third money. Both Corey Callahan and Ron Pierce scored a 'grand slam' driving four winners apiece. A $30,000 Preferred, $27,500 Delaware Special and a $17,500 Open pace tops a strong Thursday card. by Marv Bachrad fo Dover Downs  

MANALAPAN, NJ - December 17, 2013 - Driver Eric Abbatiello and trainer Vincent Fusco Jr. wrapped up meet titles when Freehold Raceway wrapped up its 2013 season on Saturday, December 14, 2013. "I believe this is the third consecutive driving title for me at Freehold," said Abbatiello. "I appreciate the opportunities given to me by the trainers at Freehold." Abbatiello held a five-win margin over Jim Pantaleano for the combined January to May and August to December meet. "My own stable did well this year and a special thanks to my loyal owners," he noted. Abbatiello's stable produced 15 wins from 91 starters for earnings of $87,118. "Freehold is where I grew up, so it makes it that much more special," he added. Abbatiello, who received a degree in philosophy and business from Catholic University, switched from stockbroker and financial planner to harness horseman in 1999. But that was no surprise given his roots. His father, Carmine, and his uncle, Anthony, are both Hall of Fame horsemen. Abbatiello finished the year with 173 wins at Freehold, holding off Jim Pantaleano with 168 wins. Rounding out the driving Top 5 were Steve Smith, Cat Manzi and Vincent Ginsburg. Name  Starts  W P S UDR ITM% Earnings Abbatiello, Eric 956 173 153 132 0.316 48% $743,984 Pantaleano, James 832 168 124 101 0.325 47% $708,351 Smith, Stephen 824 119 102 141 0.270 44% $628,563 Manzi, Catello 511 115 73 65 0.347 50% $448,372 Ginsburg, Vincent 788 90 108 99 0.232 38% $466,075 Topping the trainer standings was Vincent Fusco Jr. with 65 wins, more than twice Nick Surick with 32 wins.  Fusco’s stable earned nearly $236,000 thanks, in part, to an in-the-money percentage of 56 percent.   Name  Starts  W P S UDR ITM% Earnings Fusco, Vincent Jr  278 65 45 47 0.380 56% $235,908 Surick, Nick  113 32 21 12 0.422 58% $130,949 Garland, Karen  181 31 19 34 0.292 46% $142,946 Mackenzie, William  140 26 27 20 0.340 52% $142,653 Scamporino, Frank Jr  128 23 24 12 0.315 46% $119,480   Live racing returns to Freehold Raceway on January 2, 2014. by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ            

The $126,000 Cleveland Classic, one of Northfield Park's premier races, is set for Saturday, December 14, 2013. The final open stakes event on this year's national harness racing calendar, the Classic always draws an impressive slate of equine athletes as well as North America's top drivers. This year is no exception. 1 - ONLY THE LONELY - This son of Western Ideal has lifetime earnings of $123,233 and a lifetime mark of 1:50.1 (M1). The Nick Surick trainee was introduced to Lasix in his most recent start where he posted a 1:54.3 gate to wire victory at Yonkers Raceway. That is one of six career victories for the sophomore colt. He is owned by the partnership of JL Benson Stables, KDM Stables and Nick Surick. Aaron Merriman has been named to drive and carries a 10-1 morning-line. 2 - TWILIGHT BONFIRE - Has been named the 5-2 morning-line favorite in this year's event. This colt has seven career wins to his credit and has won two of his last three races including a 1:51.4 victory in the $48,878 Reynolds Stake and the Meadowlands. Rich Gillock traines the son of The Panderosa for owner Robert Key. This horse enters with earnings of $891,090 and a lifetime best of 1:50.1 (Mea 5/8). His biggest payday came in a place finish in the $980,000 North America Cup at Woodbine in June. Tony Hall will be in town to drive. 3- DEDI'S DRAGON - One of two horses in this race trained by Ronald Burke. This one enters for the owning partnership of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Phillip Collura and Tracy Hendler. Dedi's Dragon has career earnings of $599,959 and a lifetime mark of 1:50.4 (HoP 7/8). He has eight career wins including a win over Captaintreacherous last month in the $252,000 Monument Circle Stake at Hoosier Park. Harness racing's all-time winningest driver, Dave Palone, has been named to drive and carries a 3-1 morning-line. 4 - WORD POWER - Scott Zeron will make his Northfield Park driving debut aboard this 4-1 starter. Word Power is conditioned by Larry Remmen for owner Bradley Grant. He has seven career wins, a career best of 1:49.4 (M1) and earnings of $372,284. He has received a short rest after his win in the $176,000 Windy City Pace at Maywood Park and enters off of a 1:53.4 qualifying effort at the Meadowlands, where he paced home in :26.4. 5 - APPRENTICE HANOVER - One of two horses that have been entered for owner Bradley Grant. This one is trained by Benjamin Wallace. This son of Somebeachsomewhere enters this race off of two consecutive victories at Woodbine Racetrack. He has earned $432,205 in nine lifetime wins and has a lifetime mark of 1:49.4 (Mea 5/8). Canadian star, Jody Jamieson is named to pilot this 6-1 morning-line. 6 - GOOD DAY MATE - Completes the field for this year's Cleveland Classic. This Christian Cullen colt is one of two entered by Ronald Burke. This one is owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva Stables, Stable 45 and Chuck Pompey. Good Day Mate has career earnings of $306,363 and sports the fastest mark in the race, 1:49.3 (PcD 5/8). This seven-time career winner receives the driving services of Buckeye native Brett Miller and holds a 12-1 morning-line. The $126,000 Cleveland Classic has been slated as Saturday's eleventh race and has an approximate post time of 10:45 p.m. The stakes event will be the fourth leg of the Pick-4 with a guaranteed pool of $10,000 and a reduced takeout rate of just 14%. The 2013 $126,000 Cleveland Classic Field: Post Horse Trainer Driver M/L 1 Only The Lonely Aaron Merriman Nick Surick 10-1 2 Twilight Bonfire Tony Hall Rich Gillock 5-2 3 Dedi's Dragon Dave Palone Ron Burke 3-1 4 Word Power Scott Zeron Larry Remmen 4-1 5 Apprentice Hanover Jody Jamieson Benjamin Wallace 6-1 6 Good Day Mate Brett Miller Ron Burke 12-1 Southbound wins at Northfield Wednesday Southbound paced home for his third straight win Wednesday (December 11) in Northfield Park’s eleventh race.  The four year-old is owned by Jeffrey Hays and trained by Brett Landis.  Keith Kash Jr. Was aboard for the winning drive.             Southbound started from post four and was fourth through an initial quarter of :28.3.  Kash brushed the gelding to the lead in the second quarter and never looked back, setting fractions of :58.2, 1:28 and 1:57.4.  Southbound posted a 4-length margin of victory over his closest competitor, Kilo Shark (Josh Sutton).           Wednesday’s triumph was the eighth career success for Southbound (Southsider-No Trouble-Nobleland Sam) and increased his lifetime earnings to $28,694.  He was heavily favored and returned $3.00 to win. by Ayers Ratliff for Northfield Park  

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