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On Thursday June 23, with the sun bright in the blue summer sky and the temperature hovering around 80-degrees, two amateur races dotted the 11-race harness racing card at Monticello Raceway and when the judges hung the official signs, Alan Schwartz emerged victorious in the NAADA trot with Ladys Big Stormont in a 1:58.4 clocking while Joe Lee was the first home in the Catskill Club pace with TKR's Metro Specs in 1:59.1 In his contest Schwartz hustled his trotter for the lead but they had to go a steppy :27.4 in order to rest command from Highest Hill and driver Rich Gayton. But once Ladys Big Stormont cleared and settled down along the pylons Schwartz tried to give his charge a breather but as they trotted to the halfway point Bob Hechkoff was out and moving with The Franchise and they ranged alongside the leader as the timer flashed :58.1. The two leaders raced head-to-head up the backside but Ladys Big Stormont was strong enough to rebuff his challenger. When the field headed for home Ladys Big Stormont opened up two lengths and he needed every bit of that to turn back a late charge by Hannah Miller with Rev It Now. "My horse went a tough mile especially being parked to the(first) quarter in 27:4 and then having to fight head to head with Hechkoff's horse," Schwartz said after the race. "We did draw clear as we headed for home but my guy was understandably tiring and all I could think of in the deep stretch was 'where the heck is the wire'" When the photo-finish camera snapped Ladys Big Stormont was a head better than Rev It Now . A short length farther back in third place was The Franchise. Schwartz owns the winner whose trained by Raheim Strong. Sent off as the even-money favorite Ladys Big Stormont paid $4.00 for win. Schwartz has been participating in amateur races since the 1980's and now has 585 driving victories to his credit. A long time participant at Monticello Raceway against professionals he also serves as president of the local horseman's organization. In the other amateur driving contest New York Yankees assistant locker room manager, Joe Lee once again proved he knows his was around the racetrack after scoring is eighth seasonal driving victory this time with the Woody Hoblitzell-owned TKRs Metro Specs. Sent off as the hot favorite from the pole position Lee naturally sent his pacer to the lead and once on top they commanded the race and kept Monica Banca's Fox Valley Leo, who won this event last week, on the limb. After a :28.3 first quarter Lee slowed the pace and his horse was steadfastly in charge as they led the field by the half in:59.2 and the three quarters in 1:29.2 As they rounded the final turn TKRs Metro Specs had a two length lead which was slowly diminishing as they headed for paydirt. Kennanskingwilliam was enjoying a two-hole trip and driver Gerry Fielding used the passing lane to put serious pressure on the leader. However, at the wire TKR Metro Specs held tough for a head triumph in the 1:59.1 mile. Third place went to Murphy's Ideal, driven by Dr. Jennifer Lowrey. "We had clear sailing all the way until the final strides when my pacer began to get a little leg-weary," driver Joe Lee noted "Although Fielding's horse was coming at us my horse was strong enough to get home with the victory. Trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr., TKR's Metro Specs won for the third time this season and returned a $4.20 win mutuel. By John Manzi for both NAADA and the Catskill Club  

There's an old adage that states 'you can't keep a good man down.' but in recent amateur harness racing history it could more accurately read "you can't keep a good woman down". That maxim can easily be equated to Hannah Miller, the hottest driver in the amateur ranks today. In the NAADA Trot at Yonkers Raceway tonight (June 16) the 25 year old miss, affectionately known as 'Hurricane Hannah', scored yet another victory when she guided Rev It Now to a gate to wire triumph over seven others in a 1:59.3 clocking. For the two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year it marked her 10th driving victory this season and her 83rd in just 289 career starts and the first-ever race contested over the newly refurbished Westchester County (NY) double oval Taking advantage of starting from the pylon position Miller sent her trotter to the lead as Alan Schwartz and Ladys Big Stormont found a position in behind Rev It Now as they rounded the first turn. They then raced one-two by the half way point where Joe Pennacchio was the first to move off the pylons with Zorgwijk Impact. As the field headed up the backside Pennacchio's trotter circled Ladys Big Stormont and then ranged alongside Rev it Now as the leaders trotted by the third stanza in 1:30.1. Unfortunately for Pennacchio, Ms Miller's charge still had plenty in the tank as they headed for home. In the stretch Zorgwijk Impact faded and Ladys Big Stormont was fresh and Schwartz rallied his charge as they headed for paydirt. But Ladys Big Stormont ran out of racetrack and finished a head behind Rev It Now in second place Although tiring, Zorgwijk Impact held on for the show dough. Reached via email after the race trainer Nick Surick responded: "Hannah said Rev was very sharp tonight and got off the gate good and had no intentions on letting anyone go. "She won the first race with the new finish line and she thinks it will make racing more exciting for the Yonkers Raceway fans." Surick then added:"We just rushed over to the Meadowlands where Hannah is driving the favorite in 5th race there tonight. Hopefully she can make it a driving double on both sides of the Hudson River." Ms Miller also owns the veteran 11 year old altered son of Revenue S who didn't race last year However, in his illustrious career Rev It Now has now won 37 races and purses of nearly 280,000. He's trained by Nick Surick by John Manzi for NAADA

Mickael Gilles Lemarchand, driving Be Cash Money a son of Ready Cash, took the first of two legs of the French-American Friendship Trot over the 1200 meter inner track at Hippodromo Argentan in Normany today. Alan Schwartz led team America to a second place finish driving the Ready Cash filly Bety Du Goutier. Schwartz generously survived a judge's inquiry as the first try at a start resulted in a wild and crazy array of horses that caused a recall. Bob Davis' horse was scratched for not having his paperwork in order which negated all of two days of studying the program and viewing videos. Jean Phillipe Bazire, cousin of the French very accomplished driver of the same name, did not disappoint the family name garnering a third place finissh. Peter Kleinhans recovered from an early break to finish Fourth and Tony Ciuffetelli took the nickel. I, also badly affected by the recall, was placed seventh with four horses of the twelve being disqualified. All in all not a bad showing and on Tuesday evening at Vincennes will either make us champs or goats. In reality The North American Amateur Drivers have the distinct honor of being the very first amateurs ever invited to France to compete against their counterparts. "The French Le Trot placed us in the hands of three great hosts, Damien, Marie-Anh and Emmanuelle, who chauffeured us around. We were shown every hospitality from a brasserie in Trouville to restaurants in Arromanches and Caen. Tomorrow is a free day in the City of Lights with a scheduled dinner cruise on the Siene under the watchful eye of the Tower Eiffel. Tuesday's menu includes a visit to the famed training center at Grosbois followed by an evening race, the Prix Iphigenia. The French had much more to celebrate than their amateur victory as the 10 year old French bred Timoko, who was barely bested in the return of the International Trot at Yonkers Raceway two years ago, won the Ellietlop today in Sweden. This is the last year that Timoko can race in France and hopefully the $1,000,000 International at Yonkers on October14th will temp his connections to return for revenge. by Joe Faraldo, NAADA team leader

The $15000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's Spring Trotting Series was contested at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday night, May 18 and when the harness racing judges hung the official sign Tony Ciuffetelli and Tropical Storm Bi emerged victorious in a 1:58 clocking. Earlier in the afternoon at Monticello Raceway Ciuffetelli finished second with Avivas Winner in the Billings Trot over the Mighty M double oval. Some might think that Ciuffetelli had an easy time of it on Thursday. He did, to an extent, but both horses that he raced on Thursday he trucked with him from his home base in Saratoga. What? When he left Saratoga early Thursday morning he had both horses on his trailer and when he got to Monticello he got one (Avivas Winner) ready for the Mighty M Billings trot and left the other in a receiving stall at the Mighty M. After finishing second in the Billings race Ciuffetelli then sent Avivas Winner back to Saratoga with a friendly competitor and then he reloaded Tropical Storm Bi on his trailer again and headed for Yonkers Raceway for the NAADA Final. After he and Tropical Storm Bi got away slowly from the four-hole in the non wagering race, Ciuffettelli was content to bide his time and follow the leaders. Sixth at the quarter and fifth at the half Ciuffettelli hugged the pylons up the backside and when they trotted by the three quarters they were still three lengths behind Alan Schwartz who was cutting the fractions with Hidden Identity. Still fourth and three lengths off the lead when they headed for home Ciuffetelli got Tropical Storm Bi in high gear and they rallied and collared Hidden Identity just before the wire . Third place went to Sam's Honeybee driven by Tony Verruso. (By the way, Verruso won the Billings trot at Monticello Raceway in the afternoon) "Since I own both Avivas Winner and Tropical Storm Bi I was pretty happy with today's results," said Ciuffetelli, a retired corrections officer who recently recovered from a severe bout of Lime Disease. "Some might think that doing all the work myself would be too much but for me its pleasurable as well as rewarding. For me harness racing is a labor of Love." By John Manzi for NAADA  

The North American Amateur Drivers Association is anxiously awaiting for the rematch of the harness racing French/ American Amateur Friendship Challenge in late May over the appropriate Memorial Day weekend holiday. Appropriate because the first race will be in Normandy on French soil not far from the famed beaches of World War ll. The competition, which begins on May 26 in Nomandy, will then move over to the fabled Vincennes racetrack outside the City of Lights home of the Prix d' Amerique. That event commemorates America's aid to France in World War I. At the time of the offer NAADA president Joe Faraldo responded positively telling his French counterparts that Americans would field a team of members who participated in NAADA 's Spring Trotting Series currently nearing its completion. That series began in mid-March at Monticello Raceway and will culminate with the Series finale slated for May 18 at Yonkers Raceway. After reviewing possible candidates NAADA canvassed for available drivers willing to make the trip and named six American amateur harness drivers who will travel to Paris and represent the USA in races with some real talented French drivers, perhaps amateurs in name only. Slated to join Faraldo for the upcoming USA-France Friendship Competition are Alan Schwartz, Tony Verruso, Tony Ciufettelli, Bob Davis and Peter Kleinhans. On May 26 the visiting Americans are scheduled to arrive in Paris and then leave directly to Normandy for a night in Caen, the city severely ravaged in WWII but today a beautiful metropolis. Then the next day they will visit the Memorial de Caen and Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. On May28 the visitors will don their colors for a race in Argentin with the next day free for visiting the wonders of Paris. A tour of the fabulous Grosbois Training Center on the outskirts of Paris is slated on May 30 and then it'll be off to the races in Vincennes where the Americans will get a chance to drive against their French counterparts over the famed race course. On May 31 the Americans are scheduled to return home "We will have a tough row to hoe to avenge the terrible loss we sustained at the hands of the French when they visited the USA two years ago, nevertheless we look forward to the challenge, and win or lose, we will definitely enjoy all the locales, wine, food, the comradery and the sincere hospitality shown us while in France". by John Manzi for NAADA

It was Joe Lee day at Monticello Raceway on Thursday May 11. The New York Yankees assistant locker room manager won both divisions of the NAADA Trotting Series at the Sullivan County harness racing oval. He won the first split, race six on the betting card, with Hidden Identity in a 2:00.4 clocking and then came back to score an easy 1:59.3 victory behind Tim Lizzie in race eight. Known as "Yankee Joe" in amateur driving circles because of his professional vocation Lee had a smile a mile wide after he handed the lines to trainer Bruce Aldrich, Sr. when he got off from Tim Lizzie's sulky. "This is my first driving double", he said gleefully. "And my parents were here today to see it which made the whole afternoon just that much better." In the first NAADA trot Lee was up behind the betting favorite Hidden Identity from the pole position and he sent the 10-year-old Angus Hall gelding to the lead and they led the field by the first stanza in :29.3. They were in front past the half in 1:01 and from there it was catch me if you can and no one could as Hidden Identity had enough in the final strides to hold off "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and Rev It Now in the 2:00.4 clocked mile. Permanent Joy was third for Bobby Krivelin. "He was super today," Lee said after reining Hidden Identity to victory. "We got a breather going to the half and because of that he was strong all the way to the wire," Lee said after his driving victory and then pointed out that it was the trotter's third consecutive victory. Owned and trained by Tom Milici of Montgomery, NY. Hidden Identity scored his fourth seasonal triumph and paid $3.90 for win. The second division reeled out completely different than the first. Despite leaving from the pole position Joe Lee and Tim Lizzie got away slowly in the six-horse field. After two trotters broke stride before the start Tim Lizzie settled in fourth position and Lee was content to stay back from the lead as Bobby Krivelin and Current Crisis showed the way. As the short field headed up the backside the second time around Lee, still in fourth place, reeled his charge to the outside and then went three-deep and they were in front before the final turn. From there it was all Tim Lizzie as he finished a comfortable two lengths ahead of Current Crisis in the 1:59.3 trotted mile. Third place went to Pocket Passer with Tony Verruso at the controls. "With the short field I was content to follow the leaders because I know my horse has a good kick at the end of a mile and I was especially comfortable since there were fast fractions up front," Lee said. "The last time I drove Tim Lizzie he got steppy as we headed to the three quarters and then he finally made a break. But this time I was intent to not let that happen again and he was hitting on all four once Lizzie got in high gear and we had no trouble passing horses and cruised to an easyvictory" Owned by Woody Hoblitzell of Destin, Fla and trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr. Tim Lizzie paid $17.20 for win. However, no sooner had the eighth race finished Joe Lee was off to his real job at Yankee Stadium where the Bronx Bombers are playing against the Houston Astros tonight by John Manzi for Historic Track  

On Thursday evening (May 4) two $6000 divisions of the North American Amateur Drivers Association Spring Trotting Series were contested over the double oval at Yonkers Raceway with both events raced as non-wagering affairs prior to the harness racing betting card getting underway. Peter Kleinhans won the first split with Toss Cartwright in 1:59.4 while the second division went to John Kokinos when he reined Sim Brown home first in a 1:59.2 clocking. Although Kokinos breezed to an easy five- length triumph Kleinhans had to work hard to keep Hannah Miller and Rev It Now at bay to score short nose victory. In fact the finish was so close that Rev It Now got the last call but the judge's review of the photo finish showed a different result. Kleinhans and Toss Cartwright took command as the gate folded and they led through fractions of :29; :58.2 and 1:29 with Rev It Now and Hannah Miller shadowing the pacesetter's every move. When they rounded the final turn the top two trotters were open lengths ahead of the trailing horses and as they straightened for home "Hurricane Hannah" moved Rev It Now out to challenge and a battle then ensued as the two trotters raced head-to-head down the long stretch and all the way to the wire and despite Rev It Now getting the last call it was Toss Cartwright who walked away with the lion's share of the purse. Third place, some three lengths in the rears, was Windsun Fireball, driven by John Nicholson. The race winner is owned by Coleen Cash and trained by John McDermott. For Kleinhans it was his first winning drive in four seasonal starts this year and 52of his amateur career. In late May Kleinhans will be among the six NAADA members who will travel to France for a Friendship Competition against members of UNAT (Union Nationale des Amateurs du Trot) -the French amateur organization. In the other division Dr. John Kokinos made a laugher out of the race when he sent Sim Brown to the lead from the two-hole and then made every pole a winning one en route to a five-length triumph over Kerfuffle Cookie and driver Peter Gerry. Third place went to Jelectric who was handled by Bob Davis. Sim Brown coasted through early fractions of :30.1; 1:00.3 before Kokinos put the pedal to the metal and his trotter began to draw clear of the competition and the farther they went to bigger to lead became until they coasted to an oh-so-easy victory. Sim Brown is owned by Robert Santagata and Jennifer Lappe and Kokinos also doubles as the horse's trainer. It was the second seasonal victory for the 9-year old Angus Hall gelding who now has purse earnings in excess of $605,000. by John Manzi for NAADA

Nearly three months ago the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) president, Joe Faraldo, received a formal invitation from the French amateur organization (LeTrot) for a harness racing rematch of the French vs American Amateur Friendship Challenge only this time with all races on French soil, including a competition over the fabled Vincennes racetrack outside the City of Lights. At that time Faraldo responded positively telling his counterparts that NAADA would field a team of its members who have participated in their Spring Trotting Series. That event began in mid-March and will culminate with the Series finale slated on May 18. After reviewing possible candidates Faraldo and his organization have named six talented American amateur harness drivers who will wing their way to Paris in late May and represent NAADA in races there and at facilities in greater Normandy. Those preparing to join Faraldo and represent America in the upcoming USA-France Friendship Competition include Alan Schwartz, Tony Verruso, Tony Ciufettelli, Bob Davis and Peter Kleinhans. All the aforementioned have their paperwork completed and have made preparations to convene in Paris on May 26. "We will have a tough plight in order to avenge the terrible loss we sustained at the hands of the French when they visited us (in the USA) two years ago for a Friendship Competition," Faraldo reasoned. "Nevertheless we look forward to the challenge, and win or lose, we will definitely enjoy all the locales that we'll visit. "We expect to soon receive an itinerary for the upcoming trip and when we do we'll disclose it." by John Manzi for NAADA

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing trainer Richard Gayton has trained his share of winning horses during the past 16 years, but on Thursday he will do something he’s never done before. Gayton will drive his trotter Highest Hill in the second of Thursday’s two $6,000 North American Amateur Drivers Association events at Yonkers Raceway. It will be Gayton’s first time in an amateur series race, and his first time competing in a race with a purse. All of Gayton’s previous 26 races were either qualifiers or non-purse matinees, primarily at Monticello Raceway and Goshen Historic Track. “I’m excited,” said Gayton, who will celebrate his 64th birthday the day before the race. “Nobody could get along with (Highest Hill), but he listens to me. I put him in the amateurs so I could race him. The fat guy is going to sit in the bike and see if he can get him to go and behave himself.” And what is Gayton’s expectation for the race? “I’m going to win,” he said. Pause. Laughter. “Actually, I’m going to go have fun,” Gayton said. “If the horse behaves himself, we should have a smile on our face at the end of the day.” There is no wagering on Thursday’s two NAADA races. Highest Hill, a 9-year-old gelding who spent nearly three years away from the races before returning to action last summer, will start from post six in a six-horse field. “He was sitting out in the field being miserable,” Gayton said about Highest Hill, a son of Giant Hit -Emmeline Smoke and full brother to 2003 New York Sire Stakes 3-year-old filly champion Miss Gibbons. “It took me two years to get him where I got him right now. He was 350 pounds overweight when I brought him back and it took me over a year to get the weight off him. He’s in fighting shape now. “If this horse decides to have the light come on, (Miss Gibbons) trotted in (1):53.2 back when that was a big number. He’s a nice made horse; he just had a bit of an attitude problem. Now he’s a pussycat. I put my grandkids on him and you can do anything you want with him.” Highest Hill, like Miss Gibbons, was bred by Howard Gill, a veterinarian who helped get Gayton started in harness racing. Gayton’s previous love was drag racing. “I went from 800 horsepower to one,” said Gayton, who owns an auto body repair shop in addition to training horses. “In 2000 I threw the towel in on that. I had enough running all over the country. So I started playing with horses.” Gayton has won 73 races as a trainer and posted a win rate of nearly 13 percent in his career. He co-owns Highest Hill with Majestic View Farms International. He is based at Pine Bush Training Facility. “I’ve got pieces of five horses,” Gayton said. “I mostly have trotting horses. They seem to race better out of the field. I swim them a little bit and some we have a girl that rides them. We try to keep them happy and they seem to do the job.” Highest Hill has won seven of 49 career races and earned $35,910 in purses. Since returning to action in 2016 the gelding has won four of 20 starts and banked $14,056. He won a matinee at Goshen with Gayton in the sulky in his first trip back to the races last June. Gayton hopes for another winning experience with the trotter Thursday. “I’m going to do the best I can,” Gayton said. “We’ll find out.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

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

The fifth leg of the eight-leg NAADA Trotting Series was contested on Thursday (April 20) at Yonkers Raceway and when the results were official David Glasser and Robert Krivelin were each victorious in their respective splits. Glasser and Celebrity Stimulus cruised to a five- length triumph in a 1:59.3 clocking while Kivelin and Current Crisis out-trotted their harness racing competition to score a 2:01,4 victory. Seemingly comfortable on the double oval-Celebrity Stimulus was hustled to the front from post five when the gate sprung and led the short five-horse field by the first stanza in 30:1. After a :59.4 first half Glasser asked his steed for more and Celebrity Stimulus responded and trotted clear and just kept opening daylight on the field while he cruised home an oh-so-easy winner over Tim Lizzie and driver Bob Davis in a 1:59.3 clocking. Signal Hill OK finished third for Joe Faraldo On March 30 at the Hilltop oval Celebrity Stimulus and Glasser went on the be the first under the wire in an earlier NAADA trot only to be disqualified and placed fourth for drifting in the homestretch. "I didn't make that mistake again tonight," Glasser said. "We were clear in the stretch and I was cognizant about not drifting in or changing my position as we raced to the finish. I'm grateful to Team Butenschoen for always sending 'Stim' to the track ready to race!" The winner is owned by Glasser Racing LLC and trained by John Butenschoen In the second NAADA trot Krivilen also used the front-end route to score a 2:01.4 victory with Current Crisis for the trotter's second win in the series. Starting from the two-hole Current Crisis circled I'm Fabulous (Alan Schwartz) when the gate sprung and was on the lead at the quarter in a soft :31.When the field headed to the halfway point Schwartz moved I'm Fabulous out to challenge Current Crisis for the lead only to be rebuffed as the pace-setter began to draw away from his challenger.; They then raced one-two to the finish with Current Crisis a one-length winner. Third place went to Wygant Prince, driven by Paul Minore. It was Current Crisis' fourth seasonal triumph. He's owned by the Hero Stables and trained by Krivelin. The series will continue on Thursday April 27 at Monticello Raceway. John Manzi  

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

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

When the North American Amateur Drivers Association kicks off its Spring Trotting Series on March 16 harness racing participants will be eligible for a trip to France and become a part of an American Team that will challenge the top French amateurs in a Friendship Competition. "Upon the completion of our spring trotting series we will have a lottery drawing among the top five point-earners in the eight-week event to determine three drivers who will be eligible to travel to France and be among the American representatives in the Friendship Competition," noted NAADA president, Joe Faraldo. The North American Amateur Drivers Association had received a formal invitation for a rematch with the very competent French amateur drivers. The invitation was extended to Joe Faraldo during his recent visit to Paris for the Prix d' Amerique. The rematch is scheduled to center around races at famed Vincennes racetrack outside of the City of Lights as well as a racetrack in Normandy (yet to be named). According to Faraldo, there will be at least two races surrounded by some sightseeing of places popular with tourists and historians. The challenge will require six US amateur drivers and their guests. "The rematch will be an effort to avenge the terrible loss the US amateurs sustained at the hands of the French when they invaded our shores for a similar competition two years ago," Faraldo added. The selection of drivers will be limited to those who participate in NAADA's upcoming Spring Trotting Series which will commence on March 16 with weekly contests at both Monticello and Yonkers Raceways. According to Faraldo, his organization will select three other NAADA members for a six-man team needed to challenge France's best. The Friendship Competition against the French amateurs is tentatively scheduled for the 2017 Memorial Day weekend at, or about, the same time as the Elitloppet in Stockholm. John Manzi

Formed in the early 1980's on heels of the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) has long afforded both men and women the opportunity to test their skills in harness racing action. And since their inceptions the growing amateur movement has spawned various amateur clubs which, over the years, were starting venues for many successful professionals racing today, including the likes of George Brennan, Jordan Stratton, Joe Bongiorno, Greg Mertons and Jimmy Taggart, Jr., to mention a few. Although amateur racing didn't immediately become an integral part of the Standardbred scene, in recent years it has been one of the sport's bright spots. And today, not only do many race tracks depend on the amateur races to help fill their racing cards, but the movement has introduced new members who support the industry by purchasing horses and hiring professional trainers. After decades of producing events for amateur drivers beginning Thursday, March 16 and continuing weekly through May 11 the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) will launch its annual Spring Trotting Series which will offer races at both Monticello and Yonkers Raceways. The events will kick-off at the Sullivan County (NY) oval on Thursday, March 16 followed by action at Yonkers Hilltop oval on March 23. Racing at those venues will continue on consecutive Thursdays through May 4 culminating in a $15,000 Final at Yonkers on May 11 for the drivers who earned the most points in the preliminary legs. At Monticello the participating amateur drivers will race weekly for $4500 purses while at Yonkers participating members will vie for $6000 purses. However, should it fill, the Monticello Raceway final will be contested on Wednesday, May 10 and compete for a purse of $5000. The series is open to all amateur drivers as long as they become members of NAADA. Membership fee is $150 per calendar year. To inquire about the general conditions or to become a participant in the upcoming NAADA Spring Trotting Series please contact NAADA president Joe Faraldo at: 718.544.6800; Faral@thorn.net ; or contact his vice president Alan Schwartz at: 845.292.8125; ctclv@aol.com John Manzi for NAADA

The North American Amateur Drivers Association, which is on the verge of announcing dates for its Spring Trotting Series, has received a formal invitation for a rematch with the very competent French amateur harness racing drivers. The invitation was extended to Joe Faraldo, president of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, during his recent visit to Paris for the Prix d' Amerique. The rematch is scheduled to center around races at famed Vincennes racetrack outside of the City of Lights as well as a racetrack in Normandy. According to Faraldo, there will be at least two races surrounded by some sightseeing of places popular with tourists and historians. The challenge will require six amateur drivers from the US and their guests. "The rematch will be an effort to avenge the terrible loss the US amateurs sustained at the hands of the French when they invaded our shores for a similar competition two years which lasted some seven days and covered four racetracks," Faraldo said. "The selection of drivers will be limited to those who participate in NAADA's Spring Trotting Series which tentatively will commence in March with contests at both Monticello and Yonkers Raceways." The tentative schedule for the competition against the French amateurs is slated for the 2017 Memorial Day weekend at, or about, the same time as the Elitloppet in Stockholm. John Manzi for NAADA

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