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Of course it's early but it appears that harness racing drivers Alan Schwartz and Bob Hechkoff have the top two horses in the eight-leg trotting series sponsored by the North American Amateur Drivers Association. In the third NAADA leg at Yonkers Raceway last night (March 26) which Schwartz won with Bad I Am in a 2:00.4 clocking while Hechkoff followed suite winning with Tagmaster in 2:01.2. And it marked the second victory for both trotters in the series. It was the second consecutive triumph for Bad I Am after having copped the NAADA- leg at Monticello Raceway a week earlier. Schwartz, who says if he takes his horse back as the gate springs, Bad I Am loses interest. "So after starting from the six-hole I let ramble with hopes of finding a hole but we made the front-end in a relatively soft :29.4, which was a bargain," Schwartz explained. "Once we had the lead I just let him (Bad I Am) cruise and we never had a serious challenge the rest of mile and at the wire we were an easy two- length winner." Former New York Yankee batboy and avid amateur driver, Joe Lee, had a good two-hole journey with Miss Directed but they couldn't make up any ground in the lane and had to settle for second place. In the $6000 contest. Tony Verruso took home the show dough with Flirting Duezy. Bad I Am, purchased last fall by Schwartz, is trained by Raheim Strong. In the other non-wagering division Hechkoff gunned his veteran trotter, Tagmaster, to the lead and once on top they commanded respect and they made every pole a winning one en route to their second victory in the series. Because of interference in the homestretch second place finisher, Grecale AS, was placed fifth which allowed Paul Minore's Swift Blizzard to take home second money. Third place went to Candid Man, driven by Tony Verruso. Tagmaster is owned by Hechkoff's R.B.H Ventures Inc. and trained by Kyle Spagnola. The next leg in the NAADA series is slated for Saturday afternoon, April 4th at Freehold Raceway. John Manzi

Maybe it was home court advantage but regardless of any outside factors, when the second leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Trotting Series was declared official, Monticello Raceway- regular Alan Schwartz scored a decisive five-length harness racing victory with his own Bad I Am in a time of 2:03. Taking advantage of the early breakers in the mile Schwartz fired his trotter toward the lead and finally gained command after the first stanza was trotted in :29.4. Once on top Bad I Am was never in trouble and the farther he went the more daylight he opened between himself and the rest of the field and at the wire Schwartz's trotter was an easy five-length winner over Flirting Deuzy, driven by Tony Verruso. Perter Gerry finished third with 41-1 shot Candid Man. "We got away with an easy one after Tagmaster (Bob Hechkoff) and a few others went off-stride at the start of the race," Schwartz said. "Although we had to work hard to get the lead but when we cleared Tony (Verruso driving Flirting Deuzy) we never had a serious challenge to rest of the mile." Now with a win and a second place finish in the first two legs, Schwartz is the current point leader in the three track series which will continue at Yonkers Raceway on March 26. John Manzi

The first leg of the three track trotting series sponsored by the North American Amateur Drivers Association was contested at Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon, March 14 and when the judges hung the official signs Jimmy Marshall IV and Bob Hechkoff were each victorious in their respective divisions; Marshall IV with Blazin Delores in 2:01: 4 and Hechkoff with Pounce Hanover in 2:03. Blazin Delores had drawn the pole position and young Marshall gunned her to the lead and they got away with a soft first stanza when betting favorite Rev It Now (Hannah Miller) made a break after the start. As Blazin Delores trotted to the halfway point David Glasser with CSI What's My Name moved out to pick up the pace but they never cleared the leader. Marshall's mare still was in command and kept Glasser's charge at bay and when the straightened for home Blazin Delores was still strong and finished an easy two-length winner over CSI What's My Name. Keystone Sadie finished third for Peter Gerry. The winner is owned and trained by Laurie Molnar. She paid $6.20 for win. A second NAADA Trotting division was won in similar fashion when Bob Hechkoff took no prisoners and went down the road with Pounce Hanover from the pole position and rebuffed an early challenge from Bad I Am which forced driver Alan Schwartz to take a seat. Once Schwartz took the two-hole, Hechkoff's trotter was left alone in command and had clear sailing until the three quarters where challenges amounted. Schwatz moved alongside Hechkoff's charge and from far back came a hard-charging Windell Winkie and driver Tony Verruso rallying three- deep on the final turn. They were nearly side by side as they rambled through the lane and a photo was needed to determine the order of finish.The camera caught Pounce Hanover a head better than Bad I Am and Windell Winkie was another head back in third place, all three trotters timed in 2:03. Pounce Hanover is owned by Hechkoff's R.B.H Ventures, Inc and trained by Virgil Morgan. He rewarded his backers with a $4.40 win mutuel. The next leg will be contested at Monticello Raceway on Thursday, March 19. In the upcoming months the NAADA members will represent the USA in international amateur driving competitions against the French in April and the Spaniards in June. John Manzi for Naada

To add to the new found harness racing camaraderie with France, Joe Faraldo, as president of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, has extended an invitation to a quartet of French amateur drivers to be their guests and compete against representatives of NAADA at various east coast racetracks in late April.   And Faraldo has already received a confirmation from Hubert Jay of UNAT (French Amateur Association) saying "we are very pleased to cross the Atlantic with a delegation of four amateurs and their guests and enjoy your hospitality."   Races for the competiton are tentatively scheduled to be held at Yonkers Raceway, Freehold Raceway, Monticello Raceway and Vernon Downs.   "We are pleased to be able to host our French friends and look forward to the competitions and the friendships that amateur racing fosters," Faraldo said.   According to Messr Jay, among the French contingent are Sophie Blanchetiere, the 2013 and 2014 French Champion, and Romain Poree, winner of the World Championship in 2010, both of whom are well known to the French horseplayers. John Manzi  

(Monticello, NY). Having reached a 50 year milestone working in the harness racing industry (with 34 years serving as Monticello Raceway’s publicity director), today John Manzi announced his retirement effective December 19th, 2014. Commenting on his retirement, Manzi stated, “Every race has to come to an end. And after five decades of answering the call to the post, the time is right for me to relax a little and enjoy my golf clubs and my grandchildren. "After seeing so much being at the helm of the Monticello Raceway public relations office for many years," Manzi said, "one thing remains supremely important to me. It’s all of the good people I have met and the friends I have made.”  While he is officially retiring, Monticello Raceway management and John Manzi have agreed that he will continue to write articles for the track and from time-to-time he will offer assistance to racing operations office. Laurette Pitts, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for Empire Resorts, Inc., owner of Monticello Raceway, stated, “John Manzi is simply an industry legend. Through good times and bad, John played a pivotal role in promoting the harness racing sport. Utilizing his unique brand of creativity, he generated an incalculable amount of good will and positive exposure for Monticello Raceway.  While his booming laugh and friendly smile will be greatly missed, we understand his desire to enter this new phase of his life.” Manzi began his harness racing career in 1958, three years before he would graduate from Monticello High School, when he began working as a trainer at the stables his family owned locally. He consequently began his racing career where he won seven out of eight of his first races at local county fairs.  In 1974, after living and racing all over the East Coast, he got a chance to come back home when he became the assistant to Monticello Raceway Racing Secretary. Two years later, after a brief stint as Racing Secretary, Manzi was assigned to Monticello Raceway’s office of publicity and public relations. In 1980 he was promoted to the position of publicity director. From racing elephants, to camels, to elephants against camels, to having a former New York Giants football player race against a horse, Manzi built an impressive legacy of garnering attention for Monticello Raceway. Monticello Casino and Raceway Assistant General Manager Shawn Wiles commented, “Everyone in our industry knows about John’s uncanny ability to generate positive publicity. What few people know is that apart from managing the big publicity events for our track, John is a universal ambassador for the entire harness racing sport.” A tireless fundraiser, Manzi has helped numerous industry organizations offset day-to -day expenses through his benevolent efforts. He has been the impetus for money raised and donated to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Goshen Historic Track, the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame, the Standardbred Retirement Fund and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. As a driving force in the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (“USHWA”), he runs its annual banquet that honors their local horsemen and then uses the proceeds to fund numerous other worthwhile causes throughout the year. Besides his promotional work of the sport at Monticello Raceway, he has done publicity for the New York Sire Stakes and other New York State races and worked for Bruce Hamilton when he was the executive director of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. He is also the publicist for the Billings Amateur Driving Series and the North American Amateur Drivers Association. He is a former national president of both USHWA and the Harness Publicist Association.   Manzi's exceptional efforts have not gone unnoticed through the years. He is a member of the Communicator's Hall of Fame in Goshen and has received the Proximity Award from USHWA, the Pinnacle Award from the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Appreciation Award from Harness Horsemen International, the Laurel Award from New York City USHWA and was named USHWA's Person of the Year in 1992. “I can’t thank Monticello Raceway management enough for all the wonderful years I’ve spent here.” Manzi added. “I grew-up in the area, graduated from Monticello High School in 1961, and always had a special feeling in my heart for Monticello Raceway; like ‘it was my own race track’. Some say I’ve been good for the raceway, but I say the raceway has been good for me. I couldn’t have been more dedicated if I had owned the raceway myself.” The entire Monticello Casino and Raceway management team and employees thank John for his years of dedicated service and wish John a long and healthy retirement.  by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

This year USHWA's National Amateur Driver of the Year Award goes to Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivelin and it could be said that Krivelin won the honor in a split decision. His name rose to the top over other prolific drivers and for the New York City wholesale food purveyor it marks the third time that he has received this prestigious award. When Krivelin was notified he was on vacation in Florida relaxing, swimming and playing golf. But when he answered his cell phone and found out the news, to say he was jubilant would have been an understatement. "I'm really happy and proud to be named the top amateur driver again this year, especially when the amateur driving colony is the best it's ever been. To be chosen over the talented others really makes me feel great," Krivelin said via cell phone. "I work hard at staying in shape and I feel that this was my best year yet, and I feel I'm driving better than I ever have. I drove with more confidence this year ,too." From 74 seasonal starts Krivelin has 15 wins, 10 seconds and 13 thirds for a very respectable .336 UDR. His seasonal victory total is second only to the 22 winners he reined during 2001 when he was named Amateur Driver of the Year for the first time. Two years ago Krivelin copped his second amateur driving title and although he rarely drives more than 75 times a year he thus has far reined 167 winners since he began his amateur career in 1996. Some of his triumphs this season include winning the $12,000 Billings Eastern Region Final with Permanent Joy in a time of 1:57 at Pocono Downs on November 12 and Krivelin won the $14,000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's spring trotting series with Current Crisis in a 1:59.3 clocking at Yonkers Raceway back in May. "I love amateur racing," he says. "In what other sport can a participant get a chance to compete side by side with their hero's? That's a big draw for the amateur movement in harness racing." And while he was on the subject Krivelin expounds how harness racing wouldn't be the same if it weren't for the amateurs. "Just look at how many invest in race horses and employ professional trainers and drivers.Take Doc (Scott) Woogen for instance; he must have 40 horses with various trainers and drivers many of which he drives himself when time allows. And me, I have 13 horses, three which I train and drive myself, and the rest with professional trainers and drivers. And like many other amateur guys I purchased a farm to house my stock." From a young age Krivelin, who hails from the Bronx, was bitten by the harness racing bug. "When I was a youngster I used to sneak into Yonkers Raceway with some friends after the seventh race when they opened the gates," Krivelin said unashamedly. "Those days, foolishly, youngsters weren't allowed in the grandstand. "It was from the excitement and fun of the races at Yonkers that I got hooked on harness racing. The crowds were tremendous, the racing top notch, so what wasn't there to like?" After becoming a successful businessman and then spending much of his leisure time around the Meadowlands he purchased a few horses and in 1996 "Kriv", as many of his friends call him, drove his first race. He finished fifth with Straight Talk at the Meadowlands in 1996 and it was behind that same trotter that year that he won his first race (2:04.2) at Rosecroft Raceway. Winning your first race is often like that first girlfriend who most men usually remember with reverence. But not Kriv. Although in 2003 he drove his own Rapid Rail to a Hambletonian Oaks elimination victory-thus his nickname-- and then finished second in the Final, still he claims his greatest thrill thus far was winning his first race against professional drivers at the Meadowlands in 2001. "I won with a trotter by the name of Heathen Hall who was by Incredible Abe and my dad's (first) name was Abe, "Krivelin said as he recalled the joy of that victory," Although I had won some amateur races at the Meadowlands before it was my first win against field of professionals and it came from the 10-hole. I not only beat the pros but the top drivers that night." But Krivelin is an amateur driver in the true sense of the word. Although he currently owns 13 horses and employs multiple trainers, his main profession is a wholesale food purveyor-or as he claims 'a distributor'-- and he and his partner supply 500 restaurants in New York City, including some of the very best. Much of the money he has earned from his vocation Krivelin has put into the racing game, and says, maybe with tongue in cheek --and maybe not---"It's great when you get hooked on harness racing.... but when you do it's all that you think of and it takes up your whole life." by John Manzi, for USHWA  

Earlier this week the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) and Tim Rooney made a check presentation to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of greater New York. The amateur drivers organization raised $7500 from their spring and fall trotting series and that amount was matched by Yonkers Raceway president Tim Rooney, and a total $15,000 was donated to that organization that is determined to find a cure for breast cancer. "The North American Amateur Drivers Association was proud to donate to this cause and the impetus for which came from our female amateur driver extraordinaire Monica Banca. And it was extremely gracious of Tim Rooney to match our funds which drove the contribution up to $15,000," said NAADA president Joe Faraldo. The NAADA revenues were mainly comprised of the amateur driver's nominating, starting and entry fees, along with additional funds from the organization's treasury. "And of course we'd be remiss not to thank the amateur drivers who not only participated in those races but were good enough to donate their percentages for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure Foundation," Faraldo added. The oversize check presentation was made in the Yonkers Raceway winners circle on Tuesday (Nov. 12) by John Manzi, for NAASA

Eight drivers with the most points in the preliminary legs of the North American Amateur Drivers Association’s fall trotting series lined up behind the mobile starting gate at Yonkers Raceway last week on November  6 and they competed for the $14,000 purse that was offered in the series finale.  Although there was plenty of action in the early going Bob Krivelin, and his trotter Current Crisis, followed cover after the half and then swung three- deep on the final turn and cruised onto an easy six-length triumph in a time of 2:00.1. When the gate sprung Bob Hechkoff gunned Get Packin to the lead  and they played hardball with Paul Minore who was up behind  Wygant Prince. After a :28.2 first stanza both trotters raced head-to-head by the half in :58.3 and at that point trailing horses moved to the second tier and Get Packin continued to led as Wygant Prince began to fade  and Wygant Prince’s tiring  forced the second tier trailers to got three wide. That group was led by Hannah  Miller and Rev It Now followed by Current Crisis and Jimmer, with Bob Davis at the lines. When the outer flow came off the final turn Current Crisis began to open up an insurmountable lead which the 8-year old Currant Cast gelding held until the photo finish camera snapped. Second under the wire was Rev It Now and Jimmer took home the show dough. The race was a non-wagering affair and presented prior to the first race on the betting card Krivelin, one of the top amateur drivers in the country, has twice represented the United States in the World Cup of Amateur Racing. His win at Yonkers was his 14th this season and 166th of his amateur driving career. Each year via their trotting series NAADA president, Joe Faraldo makes sure that money is raised for a worthy charity. This season an amount of $7500 was raised and it was matched by Tim Rooney which made a total of $15,000 for the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure of Breast Cancer.  by John Manzi, for NAADA

Two well contested divions of trotters in the North American Amateur Drivers Association went to post at Yonkers Raceway prior to the betting card getting underway Thursday and when the dust had settled Dave Glasser and Shane Darish each were victorious in their respective divisions. Glasser won with Sir Siro in a time of 2:00.4 while Darish was triumphant with Alaric in 2:02.4. In their event Glasser had Sir Siro in a pocket behind the pace-setter, Tagmaster driven by Bob Hechkoff and he was content to follow the leader. Paul Minore was the first to attack when he moved Wygant Prince out to challenge the leader near the half-way point and they made a run all the way to the top of the stretch. Meanwhile Glasser was sitting chilly and in the lane he fed Sir Siro racetrack and the veteran trotter zipped by Tagmaster and then held off a late charge from Rev It Now and Hannah Miller to score a length victory in 2:00.4. Tagmaster held on for third money. Wygant Prince faded and finished fourth. Sir Siro is trained by Danny Gill for the Blue Forest Stable. In the other trot, Frank Darish's grandson, Shane Darish, sent Alaric to the lead from the two- hole but when Chuckie B and Alan Schwartz came calling he allowed them to take command as the two approached the firststanza. However, no sooner had Schwartz moved his trotter down along the pylons than Darish was out and retook the lead. From there Alaric went on to a two length triumph over Rompaway Alvin and driver Dave Yarock. Jimmer and Bob Davis took home the show dough in that one. Alaric is owned and trained by Johnny Kolkowski. The Yonkers trots were the final leg of this year NAADA Fall Series. The top eight drivers with the most points in the series will battle on Thursday, November 6 for a $14,000 purse. Should the next eight in points enter there will be a $5000 consolation at Freehold Raceway on November 7. Those who earned a berth in the finale and their points in the series are as follows: Bob Hechkoff (37), Hannah Miller (36), Kelly Walker (25), Bob Davis (21), Dave Yarock (21), Shane Darish (20), Bobby Krivelin (16) and Paul Minore (15). Dave Glasser with 14 points, and Matt Zuccarello with 12 points, are the also eligibles.  by John Manzi, for the North American Amateur Drivers

When Joe Faraldo, president of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, asked his members if they would be willing to race at a distance of one and quarter miles on Thursday (Oct. 16) in the NAADA Fall Trotting Series leg at Yonkers Raceway he got a positive response from everyone. "I told them that I was asked by management to race at one and one-quarter miles because with the upcoming global simulcasts to France they wanted to test the tele-timers and charted lines and the overall integrity of the tele-timer systems," Faraldo related. "And by all measures everything seemed to be spot-on." The first of the two non-wagering NAADA trots on Thursday saw Hannah Miller get a two-hole trip from the get-go with Rev It Now and then when the field turned for home, rally the veteran trotter to a two-length victory over Alaric and driver Shane Darish in a time of 2:32.4 for the 1-1/4 mile contest. Third place went to Rompaway Alvin with Dave Yarock at the controls. For the pretty 22-year old lass it was her fifth winning drive in nine seasonal starts. Rev It Now is owned by Nick Surick, Hannah Miller and the Erv Miller Stable, and trained by Nick Surick. In the second NAADA trot Kelly Walker used the same game plan as Hannah Miller when he had Rush N Supreme in the two-hole behind Tagmaster (Bob Hechkoff) until mid-stretch and then trot by the pace-setter to score a 2-1/4 length victory in a time of 2:31.4. Wygant Prince and Bob Davis also passed Tagmaster in the lane to garner second money. Hechkoff's trotter did, however, take home the show dough. Rush N Supreme, a 10 year old altered son of SJ's Caviar, trained by Bob Baggitt, Jr. is owned by his driver. "Many of the drivers told me after the race that they enjoyed racing over the longer distance," said Faraldo, who himself was a participant in the second NAADA trot.(He finished fourth with Permanent Joy) Faraldo, a lawyer by trade is also in president of the SOA of NY, and he and his organization have been working hand and hand with Tim Rooney and Yonkers management in making the Global simulcasts to France come to fruition. The global simulcasts will begin on Nov. 9 and continue Sundays through Dec. 14. However, to accommodate the anticipated European bettors, Yonkers Sunday post times will be at 11AM. by John Manzi, for the North American Amateur Drivers Association

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

Arguably there are few drivers who enjoy racing as much as the amateurs do. They not only don't earn any money they, in fact, pay for the right to drive in their amateur series events. On Thursday (Oct. 2) there were four races strictly for amateur drivers; one at the Red Mile and three at Yonkers Raceway. The Red Mile event was billed as a Gentlemen's Drivers Club Trot but was filled, for the most part, by Billings members, and to add affront to the name of the race it was won by a woman, "Soft- Hearted Hannah" Miller. The trots at Yonkers were for members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association and when the winners there were Joe Lee, Kelly "Sky" Walker and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff, familiar names in the Billings Series. In the event in Lexington, Ky. Ms. Miller sat back off the early fractions with Rev It Now and then made a move as the field headed for the third stanza. They gained command at the head of the stretch and Rev It Now trotted home a 1:55.4 winner, among the fastest miles ever driven by a lady driver. Dave "Linemaster "Ehrenberg followed Miller's late moves but his trotter, Keystone Sadie, couldn't keep up in the lane which allowed Peter "Sycamore Ventures" Gerry, up behind Hartwell, to finish second a length or so, behind the winner. Keystone Sadie took home the show dough. Meanwhile, later that day at Yonkers, NY, 18 amateur drivers, nearly all also members of the Billings Series, convened to test their skills behind some spirited steeds. Joe Lee copped the first NAADA trot when he romped to a six- length triumph with Well Connected Kid, in a time of 2:00.2 who kicked-in a :29.1 final panel en route to victory. Homer Jay and "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello followed Lee's lead but Homer Jay had to settle for second money. Three lengths behind them was Jimmer, driven by "Bullet Bob" Davis. Kelly "Sky" Walker won the second non-betting trot with Rush N Supreme in a 1:59 clocking but both horse and driver were happy when the wire seemed to come up in time so Rush N Supreme could hold on to a neck triumph over Current Crisis and driver by Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin. Dave "Steady As" Yarock finished third in that mile with Rompaway Alvin. The third and final NAADA trot went to Get Packin and Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff with a gate to wire victory in a time of 1`:59.1. They were chased home by Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and Celtic Merchant who took home second money while "Smokin' Joe, I finally did it" Faraldo was third best with Nowerland Firebird. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Series

The annual NAADA Fall Trotting Series got underway at Freehold Raceway on Friday afternoon and when the dust had settled Bob Hechkoff and Get Packin trotted on to a wire to wire 2:00 victory. Starting on the outside in sixth position, Hechkoff sent the betting favorite to the front and they made every pole a winning one en route to a one length victory over Wygant Prince and driver Bob Davis third place went to Rev It Now driven by Hannah Miller. "He's an old veteran and just a pleasure to drive," noted Hechkoff who is an executive recruiter by trade.. "He can leave, he'll sit in a hole comfortably and with 60 victories in his career he has a desire to win." Hechkoff's R.B.H Ventures Stable has owned the veteran 12 year old Muscles Yankee gelding since this past February and the old guy has been nothing but good for Hechkoff earning him nearly $40,000 this season, not to mention the seven winning rides Get Packin has afforded his owner this season. However, over the veteran trotter's career he has earned more than $545,000 for those who paid the bills on him. Hechkoff and Get Packin can be found competing in many amateur events not the least being the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series. Although Hechkoff didn't earnestly get involved in amateur racing until 2004 he has become a force to be reckoned with. He drove his first winner that year and since then he has recorded 54 victories usually driving about 35 races a year. Open to drivers who are members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association-and anyone can easily become a member-- the NAADA Trotting Series differs from others in that the organization donates to deserving charities at the end of their series of races. Next stop will be at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, Oct. 2 where the competing amateurs will race for $6,000 purses in the two events that are expected that evening. At series end the drivers who earned the most points in the preliminaries will get a chance to race in the $14,000 Final. John Manzi

Beginning Friday, September 26 the North American Amateur Drivers Association's (NAADA) Fall Trotting Series will kick off with a $5000 event at Freehold Raceway followed by a $6000 contest at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, October 2,. The six-leg series will culminate with a $14,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway on November 6. Besides the September 26th date two other trotting legs will also be contested at Freehold Raceway; on the Fridays of October 10 and October 24, and, if needed, the Series Consolation on November 7. Besides October 2nd, the other Yonkers Raceway dates include the Thursdays of October 16 and October 30 as well as November 6 for the Series Final. Though there are criteria for the competing trotters like the Billings Series, only the amateur drivers can be nominated to the NAADA Series and all entrants must be members of NAADA and drivers can participate  in only one division of each leg of the series. At series end, the drivers with the most points in the preliminary legs will be eligible to compete in the Final. Horses that are eligible must be 3 years old and up that had six or more starts in 2013/14, have earned a minimum of $1000, are non-winners of $6001 in their last six starts, and have not won more than $2000 per start.  Also eligible are trotters with a base claiming price of $15,000. The series is open to all 2014 paid-up members of NAADA. (Membership fee is $150 per calendar year.) Participating drivers will be assessed a $50 starting fee in the preliminaries and a $100 starting fee in the series Final and $75 in the series Consolation. Entry fee checks must be made payable to NAADA A part of the driver’s percentages and a portion of the total starting fees will be added to the  donation to a worthwhile charity at series end.  The European Pont System will be used in the series and the top eight point-earners will be eligible for the Final. For total series conditions, or for further information, please contact NAADA president Joe Faraldo at 718-544-6800. By John Manzi, for NAADA

Last season amateur driver Steve Oldford reined 19 winners in 81 starts and finished with a lofty .355 UDR. He not only was named the 2013 National Amateur Driver of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association but, for the third time, he was awarded amateur driver of the year honors by the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Oldford won 11 races last season in the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series considered by many to be the Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing, and as a member of four other Amateur Driving Clubs he won at least one race in each of them. This year, from a limited amount of drives, he has already won four races and currently has 87 career wins. Soon the Michigan businessman will be winging his way to Finland to compete as the United States representative in the prestigious World Cup of Amateur Racing which will be contested at three different racetracks there. As a member of the North American Amateur Drivers Association-the American affiliate of FEGAT, the organization which produces the World Cup-- Oldford is eyeing the competitions. "I'm really looking forward to competing," Oldford said. "This will be the first time that I have the honor of representing the United States in the World Cup although I have driven abroad in the past in Italy and New Zealand. "I'll be accompanied by my wife Gale and we'll be leaving on June 27th to stop first in Sweden and visit some training centers there. Prior to the World Cup getting underway I will be driving in the preliminaries on July 3rd and 4th. The World Cup festivities begin on Sunday, July 6 and continue through July 9th. Twelve countries will be represented in the international World Cup. Besides the USA they include Finland, Italy, Belgium, Russia, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Hungary, Spain and New Zealand. For three consecutive days beginning on Monday, July 7th there will be races at three different racetracks on each day; on Monday at small Riihimaki, a summertrack; on Tuesday at Tampereen Ravirata, the second biggest track in Finland, and on Wednesday at Vermon Ravirata, the main track in Finland. Along the way there will be many amenities for the competitors, including sightseeing and shopping. "I'm thrilled just to be able to compete against some of the best amateur drivers in the world," Oldford added. Steve Oldford is President and owner of Oldford and Associates, providing sales and engineering services to companies supplying the automotive industry. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He has been involved in the industry for more than 40 years as a breeder, owner, trainer and driver, although he didn't earnestly start driving until 2008. He is very active as an amateur driver, winning the CKG Billings point championship four times since 2008 and the Gold Cup final in 2010. Oldford is also president of the Great Lakes Amateur Driving Association, vice president of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Club, and a trustee and a vice president of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. by John Manzi, for the NAADA

After copping three of the six preliminary legs of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's spring trotting series it was a really no surprise that Bob Krivelin was victorious in the $14,000 series finale at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday evening April 24. Although Krivelin had trouble getting his trotter Current Crisis away from the starting gate they still prevailed at the finish when they collared the pacesetter, Get Packin and his driver Bob Hechkoff I mid-stretch, and go on to score a length victory in a time of 1:59.3. "Before I bought him (Current Crisis) he was the Maine champion at three (years old) when Donny Richards had him, but he (Current Crisis) was always hard to get going," Kriveli reltated. "So Richards would keep him back and then time the (starting) gate at the start. But If Richards had to put Current Crisis on gate he'd have trouble getting him away on the trot. "But last night from the two-hole at Yonkers we were three lengths off at the start and I was lucky to find a place along the pylons on the first turn." Krivelin had Current Crisis in fifth position as the field headed to the half and when Tony Verruso went first up with Northmedo Wine Guy Krivelin moved his trotter up behind Verruso's. "I was getting a good second over trip behind Tony's horse until he faded and I had to go three deep. But I quickly got around him and fell in behind Hechkoff who was on the lead." Krivelin said. "I then followed him until the top of the stretch and when he headed for home my horse was stronger than his and we easily beat him to the wire." Get Packin and Hechkoff held on for second money while Kendal Giovanni and Bob Davis got up for the show dough in the non-wagering event. To say that Bob Krivelin is enthralled with amateur racing would be an understatement. True, as the owner of a major food distributorship in the Metropolitan area, he makes a comfortable living but his heart and soul revolves around the standardbred sport in general and amateur racing in particular. A winner of 157 races, including last year's Billings Final, Krivelin, a three-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, is especially proud that the amateur drivers do lots of charity work donating to various organizations throughout the year. Secretly, or maybe not so, he dreams of winning the Hambletonian as an amateur like Mal Burroughs did a few years ago. "Winning a Hambletonian may never happen but it certainly is a goal of mine," Krivelin added. " I'll keep investing in young trotters with hopes of getting one good enough to have a chance to be competitive. But even if that doesn't happen I'll still enjoy driving, and winning, of course." by John Manzi, for NAADA

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