Six weeks ago USTA Director Joe Faraldo was leading a contingent to Vincennes Racetrack in Paris, France with the specific intention of sealing an international simulcast agreement between the U.S. Trotting Association and the French Trotting Organization (Le Trot). He was joined on that endeavor by Yonkers Raceway president, Tim Rooney, Alex Dadoyan, the executive director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York , Mike Kimelman, president of Blue Chip Farms as well as a interested group of SOA of NY members and associates. Last night (March6) at Yonkers Raceway Faraldo won the second division of a trotting series sponsored by the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA). He shared the limelight with David Glasser, a business professional who recently re-joined the amateur driving movement. For both gentlemen drivers their victories were their first of the 2014 season. Faraldo's win came behind his own Rodeo Red in a time of 2:02.4 while Glasser won with JS Miss Linda, a trotting mare that he owns in a 2:03.1 clocking,. In his contest, Faraldo sat back off the early pace and then rallied in the deep stretch to a length victory after trailing the Carbon Footprint (Dave Yarock ) by three lengths as the field headed for home. Yarock's trotter held on for the place money and Tony Verruso took home the show dough with Sam's Honeybee. "When my horse is right he's a nice trotter and he was right tonight," Faraldo said after his victory and then added with tongue in cheek, "Even a blind squirrel gets an acorn every now and then." For Faraldo the victory was the 138th of his amateur driving career. En route to his victory Glasser used a two hole journey with JS Miss linda to overtake the pace-setter Get Packin (Bob Hechkoff) as the field rounded the final turn and then they went on to score a two length triumph in 2:03.1. Get Packin was second best and Hardrockinjessica finished third for Monica Banca. Glasser,47, has been in and around in harness racing his entire life since his parents Arthur and Evelyn Glasser owned and raced standardbreds for decades. It was his 20th career driving victory. Glasser began his amateur career in 1980 and except for a few seasons he never drove more than six races a year. Since 1991 he has driven just 28 times and his last victory came during the 1991campaign. and it was said that he truly celebrated his latest triumph. "I did some celebrating last night since this win was a longtime coming," Glasser said. By John Manzi for the North American Amateur Driving Association
Steve Oldford of Croswell, MI, has been named the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) 2013 harness racing Amateur Driver of the Year and it is hard to come up with a more stellar list of accomplishments than those Steve has achieved this year. He is this year's Billings overall point champion as well as the points champ in the Billings mid-west region and a winner of one of the Billings Series Finals. Besides his prowess this year in the Billings Series--the granddaddy of all amateur clubs-Oldford is a member of many other amateur driving clubs and he has won at least one race in the Great Lakes Club (GLADA), the Florida Club, the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA), and the Catskill Club(CADC). He also was a division winner of the Hambletonian Amateur Trots and he organized the amateur driving portion of the USTA Driving School which was held in and around Goshen, NY this past summer. Few, if any, are more enthusiastic about amateur racing than Oldford and when told he was named USHWA's Amateur Driver of the Year he said happily; "It's (amateur racing) a lot of fun and I'll go anywhere to drive a harness horse. "I've had my best year in the Billings this season winning 11 races in the series and I now have 19 wins this year. I'd love to get to 20 and I have a chance next week when I drive against professionals in at Sports Creek (Raceway) in Michigan." Some might say that Oldford began his amateur driving late in life although he quips; "You're never too old to get involved in such a satisfying endeavor"; hence his Billings nickname of Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford. This year from 83 starts Oldford has 19 wins, 14 seconds and eight thirds for a hefty .355UDR to go along with purse earnings in excess of $64,500. It wasn't until 2006 that he earnestly began serious participation in amateur racing. However, since then Oldford has recorded 83 driving victories and is a force to be reckoned with every time he's on the racetrack. And as a great supporter of amateur racing there have been many times that he has supplied an extra horse that was needed to fill an amateur event. Over the years Steve has been a three time winner of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Amateur Driver of the Year Award; Michigan Amateur Driver of the Year; US representative to International amateur driving challenges in Europe and New Zealand; founder and president of GLADA; Vice president of the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series and recently was named a trustee at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. He is also active in USTA affairs and is the District Rep in Michigan. Patricia Miller, Board Secretary and publicist for the Great Lakes Amateur Driving Association and fellow Michigander, sums up the essence Steve Oldford. "Steve is a fine person to begin with; a very fair and honest horseman, a fine driver, and fierce competitor of the utmost integrity and for me, this is a vital quality, not just important, but vital." by John Manzi for the United States Harness Writers Association
Dave Offenberg and his harness racing trotter Whatnblazes enjoyed a two-hole journey until the top of the stretch and then rallied to a head victory in a time of 2:00.4 to win the $14,000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's Fall Trotting Series at Yonkers Raceway on December 19. Had it been a wagering event Impressive Earl, a winner of four preliminary legs would have undoubtedly been the hot favorite, but this time driver Dr. John Kokinos had trouble with the veteran trotter behind the gate and when Impressive Earl went off stride as the gate was leaving it changed the whole completion of the race. Wygant Prince and driver Pau Minore fired for the lead and although they had some road trouble on the first turn by the time they reached the quarter pole the had command. Minore wouldn't yield the lead so Bob Davis, with Bullseye Valley on the limb got fresh air the entire mile. However, sitting smugly behind the leader with Whatnblazes Dave Offenberg was probably licking his chops while enjoying a picture trip. Wygant Prince remained in front and the fresh air didn't slow the stubborn Bullseye Valley who kept any live trotters in the rear from moving up. When the field rounded the final turn Wygant Prince and Bullseye Valley were still one-two but Offenberg sneaked out and Whatnblazes was the strong horse and he got up to collar Wygant Prince for a head victory. By mid-stretch Bullseye Valley finally got tired and faded to finish fourth as Dave Yarock and Nowlerland Nathan came from the far back to pick up the show dough. "The race broke perfect for me. All I had to do was stay calm and wait for an opening," Offenberg said. "It finally came and nearly too late, but when I got out my horse dug in and although it was close I knew we beat Paul (Minore with Wygant Prince)to the finish line." Offenberg,a businessman from Monroe Township, NJ, began amateur driving in 1998 and now has 43 career victories with six this year alone. Earlier in the series, on November 21, Offenberg and Whatnblazes won a preliminary leg also at Yonkers. The NAADA Three Track trotting Series began on October 17 with Monticello Raceway, Freehold Raceway and Yonkers Raceway participating. The drivers who earned the most points in the seven preliminary legs earned a berth in the $14,000 final. "We are very appreciative of the support we receive from the management of Monticello, Yonkers and Freehold Raceways and we had another good series of competitive races," noted NAADA president Joe Faraldo. "In the very near future NAADA will again be making our annual donation to a very deserving and worthwhile charity." by John Manzi for the North American Amateur Drivers Association
With the completion of the final two preliminary legs of this year's North American Amateur Drivers Association's Charity Trotting Series held at Yonkers Raceway on December 12th, the field of drivers is now set for the $12,000 finale to be raced at Yonkers Raceway on December 19. Last night (Dec. 12) previous leg winners, Paul Minore and Dr. John Kokinos, each emerged victorious, Kokinos for the fourth time and Minore for the second. Kokinos, with Jennifer Lappe's Impressive Earl, trotted to the front in their $6,000 split and rebuffed all challenges en route to a 1:59.4 victory over Ipo Blue Chip and driver Steve Oldford. Third place went to Bob Davis up behind Ilari. For Doctor John, a veterinarian by trade, his victory added another 11 points to his totals and he finishes with 59 points and the points championship in the seven- leg, three-track trotting series which began on October 17 at Monticello Raceway. Freehold Raceway was also a participant in the series. In his $6,000 split Paul Minore, a retired high school coach who's most famous pupil was Carl Lewis, took no prisoners and went down the road to score a 1:59.3 victory with his own Wygant Prince. Monica Banca with Leave Your Mark finished a length behind the winner in second place while Bob Hechkoff got Tremendous Hit home for third money. As a results of those races the top eight in series points earned a berth in the $12,000 Final. Behind Kokinos and eligible to start if they choose to enter are; Paul Minore (40 points), Monica Banca (34), Bob Davis (24), Dave Offenberg (23), Bob Krivelin , Bob Hechkoff, and Dave Yarock, each with 21 points. If any of the aforementioned don't enter it opens up for those next in line in points totals which includes; Tony Verruso (18), Gerry Fielding (17), Steve Oldford, ( 13), Kelly Walker 12 and Alan Schwartz (11). When the series finale is completed, Joe Faraldo, the president of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, will again make a substantial donation from the organization to a worthwhile charity soon to be announced. By John Manzi
The North American Amateur Drivers Association Three-Track Trotting Series moved to Yonkers Raceway on Thursday evening, November 7 and over a racetrack rated good John Kokinos and Jerry Fielding emerged victorious in their respective splits. Kokinos not only held on to the point lead in the series but actually opened up daylight against his competitors when he guided Jennifer Lappe's Impressive Earl to a 2:03.2 victory. And in his first NAADA Trot start Fielding won a decision with Bill Mulligan's Lady Love Hanover in a time of 2:04.2. In his division Kokinos hustled his trotter to the lead and Impressive Earl was just that as the veteran Valley Victory gelding raced in front the entire way. Steve Oldford made a run at the leader nearing the halfway point with Habanero but they couldn't reach and by the final turn Impressive Earl trotted away and scored a two length triumph over Oldford's mount. Third place went to George's Vacation, driven by last year's National Amateur Driver of the Year, Bobby Krivelin. Fielding employed the same strategy with his victory when he sent Lady Love Hanover to the lead on the first turn and then played catch me if you can. Although there were challenges from Tremendous Hit (Bob Hechkoff) and Rodeo Red (Tony Berruso), Fielding and his trotting mare remained undaunted and they had two lengths on the field at the top of the lane. However, Lady Love Hanover tired a bit in the deep stretch and Monica Banca and Hardrockenjessica came from far back with a rush and darn near won it all, only falling short by a head at the finish. Verruso's Rodeo Red was third best some two lengths off the winner. Kokinos, with 30 points, is the series leader, followed by Banca (18) and Bob Davis (16).Fielding , Paul Minore, and Dave Yarock follow, each with 10 points. Alan Schwartz (9) and Bobby Krivelin (8) round out the top 8. The series moves on to Freehold Raceway on Friday afternoon, November 15. John Manzi
Beginning on Thursday, October 17 the North American Amateur Drivers Association's Three-Track Fall Trotting Series will kick off with a $4,000 event at Monticello Raceway on Thursday, October 17 followed by contests at both Yonkers and Freehold Raceways. The series will culminate with a $14,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway on December 19. Besides the Oct. 17th date at Monticello there will also be two other $4000 preliminary legs--October 31, and December 6- while the Yonkers prelims are slated for the Thursdays of November 7, November 21 and December 12 for purses of $6000. The Freehold Raceway legs will be contested on the Fridays of November 15 and November 29 and will go for $5000 purses. A $4,000 Series Consolation is carded for Thursday, December 19 at Monticello. Although there are criteria for the competing trotters like the Billings Series, only the amateur drivers can be nominated to the NAADA Trotting Series and all entrants must be members of NAADA. Drivers can participate in only one division of each leg of the series. The drivers with the most points in the series 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 2012/13 and are non-winners of $6,001 in their last six starts and are non-winners of $2,001 per start. Also eligible are trotters with a base claiming price of $15,000. Drivers participating will be assessed a $50 starting fee in the preliminaries and a $100 starting fee in the series Final. Entry fee checks must be payable to NAADA. A part of the driver's percentages and a portion of the total starting fees will be added to the donation which will be made to a Charitable Foundation 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. The series is open to 2013 paid up members of NAADA. Membership fee is $150 per calendar year. For the entire series conditions, or for further information, please contact Joe Faraldo at 718-544-6800, or Alan Schwartz at 845-292-8128. by John Manzi for NAADA
After finishing fourth and fifth in the first leg of the German -American Friendship Competition at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday (Oct. 2), Andreas Schwarz scored a victory for the visiting Germans last night (Oct. 3) when he guided Incognito to a 1:57.3 triumph at Yonkers Raceway . Only one event--a pace-- was slated in the Friendship Competition at the Hilltop oval but it was on the card as race number one. In that contest there was plenty of movement and Schwarz took advantage of a quick early pace and used cover like a pro to get his pacer into contention on the final turn. As the field headed for paydirt Incognito was fifth on the far outside, but only two lengths off One Tough Hombre and driver Tony Verruso, who was in front at that point after being first- over on the limb from the halfway point. When the tight field headed for home Schwarz's pacer rallied down the center of the track to collar Irish Elitist, driven by George Bonomo who had followed the cover provided One Tough Hombre. Despite fading in the lane Verruso's horse held on for the show dough. Schwarz is an owner of a horse farm with over 100 trotters near Munich, Germany and has over 475 career wins. In 1999 he set a world record of 229 wins that year, an accomplishment that is noted in the Guinness Record Book. Incognito, owned and trained by Joe Agostino, went off the favorite in the race at odds of 2-1 and returned $6.30 for win. Other members of the German team, Martina Bredlau, Peter Platzer and Christoph Pallander finished fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively in the Yonkers race which added 25 points to their totals. Members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association who comprised the American team; Bonomo, Verruso, Dave Offenberg and Joe Faraldo earned 17 points and although the Germans closed the gap a bit they still trail team USA, 70-56. The final two events in the Friendship Competition will be on Friday night (Oct 4) at Vernon Downs and will go as races two and four on their 12-race card. by John Manzi for NAADA
On the warm and balmy fall afternoon of October 2 Monticello Raceway presented its ninth edition of the Munich Mile, the sixth leg of the tracks year long Heritage Drivers Series. The race was for drivers of German descent and was enhanced this year by the presence of four native German drivers. “They are here as guests of the North American Amateur Drivers Association to compete against NAADA drivers at three different racetracks so we postponed our Munich Mile to coincide with their arrival in order to have native Germans in our race,” explained Eric Warner the tracks director of racing. “ We were pleased to have them participate and they were glad to be able to drive in this race.” When the gate sprung Chuck Poynton sent front-running Tommy Ray CMJ to the lead and Mike Merton commandeered the two hole with Snap Out Of It and he stayed covered while Germans Martina Bredlau and Peter latzer got plenty of Catskill air while on the limb with their pacers, Spectacular Man and Keltic Dragon, respectively. Poynton and Tommy Ray CMJ took the field all the way to the top of the lane which was ideal for Merton. When the trailing horses swarmed in on Poynton’s pacer Merton took the unblocked short route up the passing lane to score a two-length victory with favored Snap Out Of It in a 1:58.2 clocking. Sammy Savannah and German driver Andreas Schwarz rallied to be second and the held off Pat Beeler with Foomanchu who ended up third. Tommy Ray CMJ faded and finished fourth. “It worked out great for me,” Merton said after his victory.”I had a perfect trip behind the leader and he carried me all the way to the top of the stretch and when the passing lane opened headed for home unrestricted.” Owned by Paul Felsher and trained by Bill Kapinos, Snap Out Of It scored his fifth seasonal victory and returned a $4.10 win mutuel. by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway
Wednesday, October 2nd will certainly be an action packed day at Monticello Raceway. Besides two Billings Series trots and two divisions of the German American Friendship Races, the Munich Mile, the sixth leg of the Heritage Drivers Series featuring drivers of German descent, will make for a very interesting afternoon. We knew that a contingent of German drivers would be visiting here on October 2nd so we rescheduled our Munich Mile for that date and now we have four native Germans in the event,” noted Eric Warner the tracks director of racing. Warner is referring to Peter Platzer, Christoph Pellander, Martina Bredlau and Andreas Schwartz who are part of a contingent in America as guests of the North American Amateur Drivers Association. “Since they will be racing against four NAADA members on Tuesday we thought by having them drive in our Munich Mile on that day would make it all the more interesting,” Warner added. Joining the aforementioned German natives in the Munich Mile are Greg Merton, Chuck Poynton, Bruce Aldrich, Jr. and Mike Merton. That event will go as race nine on the 13-race program. The winner of that race will become eligible for the series finale—the All-America Cup—in mid-November and join the previous Heritage Drivers Series leg winners. The 11th and 12th races on the card will be trots for the members of the C.K.G. Billings Driving Series. Among the drivers in those events are former Amateur Drivers of the Year, Bobby Krivelin and Alan Schwartz, along with the new Billings president Tony Verruso and the longtime former president, Peter Gerry. At the completion of those contests it will mark the fourth time that the Billings has made a stop at the Mighty M this year. And the main reason the visiting Germans are in the USA is to compete against their counterparts in the North American Amateur Drivers Association. Driving in the Munich Mile was a late added attraction for them. The German American Friendship races will be a trot in race sixth race and a pace in race in race seven. In the first event the Americans will go with Alan Schwartz, Peter Gerry, Gerry Fielding and Bobby Krivelin. Driving for the USA in race seven are Schwartz, Fielding, Gerry and George Bonomo. After the race, as is custom in international amateur racing, the participants will get together at a local restaurant and ‘break bread’. On Thursday the German-American Friendship races will take place at Yonkers Raceway where the visiting Germans will drive against a different slate of NAADA members. Then on Friday, (Oct. 4)the Friendship races will be at Vernon Downs with yet another group of NAADA drivers competing for the USA. by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway
Originally slated to be raced in late September Monticello Raceway has rescheduled its annual Munich Mile for Wednesday, October 2. That race, for drivers of German descent, will be the sixth event in the tracks year long Heritage Driver Series “When we found out that a group of amateur drivers from Germany would be here to race some NAADA members on October 2nd we backed our Munich Mile up a week or so, with the possibly of having four actual Germans in it this year,” noted Eric Warner the tracks Director of Racing. “It’s not yet official if the visiting Germans will want to participate but we certainly hope they will.” As guests of the North American Amateur Drivers Association a small contingent of Germans, which includes four amateur drivers, will be in the States to race against their U.S. counterparts at three tracks during the first week of October and since they’ll be racing against drivers from NAADA here on Wednesday, October 2 and general consensus was that that the Munich Mile would be more attractive if true German drivers would participate. Last year one actual German, Wim Paal, drove in the Munich Mile and finished fifth. Unfortunately he won’t be in the states to drive again this year but the race’s defending champ, Mike Merton will be. Last season Merton set a series record of 1:58.3 when he drove Romi Mystic to victory. Warner has heard from a few possible local entrants but he says there still will be room for a few more drivers of German heritage. Anyone fitting the criteria and interested in more information, or to possibly drive in this year’s contest, is urged to contact Warner in the race office by calling 845.794.4100x455. Or they can call the track’s publicity office at extension 455. by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway
MONTICELLO, NY - The North American Amateur Drivers Association will host a contingent of their counterparts from Germany in a German-American Friendship Competition slated during the first week of October. The contingent includes four amateur drivers who'll race against various NAADA members at three different New York racetracks. On Wednesday, October 2 the competition will be at Monticello Raceway followed the next evening with a race at Yonkers Raceway. The last driving event in the Friendship Competition will be at Vernon Downs on Friday, October 4. At each racing venue the competitors will break bread together after their races. "We look forward to once again hosting our friends from Germany. Last year we were their guests and we raced at a number of their tracks including the ones in Hamburg and Essen ," said NAADA president, Joe Faraldo." "Their visit will be a reciprocation of the hospitality they showed us last year. And since they whipped us pretty bad in the races there we'll be out to turn the tables on them when they come here." While the Germans are here that week they'll visit the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame and tour Historic Track. There will also be a stop at the Mark Ford Training Center and, of course, there'll be time to shop at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, NY On the evening of Saturday, October 5th the visiting Germans will be treated to dinner cruise on the World Yacht out of Manhattan, and the following day before they leave for home they will enjoy a brunch at the Soho Grill in New York City. John Manzi
On Friday, September 6 Monticello Raceway will present its third annual All Amateur Day. Although, not an uncommon event in other countries, each of the pari-mutuel races on that afternoon card will feature some of the best and most experienced amateur drivers in North America. But this year the All Amateur Day has added meanings. Being proclaimed Veterans Day at Monticello Raceway the main reason for the racing program is to help raise awareness and money for the Monticello Veterans Food pantry. Each driver will pay his/ her expenses to get here plus a $500 entry fee for the right to compete. The day will once again be sponsored by the North American Amateur Association (NAADA) and Monticello Raceway. All proceeds raised from this event will go directly to help those veterans who served our country and now do not have the means to buy enough food to feed themselves or their families," noted former U.S Marine Corporal, Alan Schwartz, who is the VP of the North American Amateur Drivers Association as well as the president of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association. According to Schwartz, twenty of America's top amateur harness drivers will be coming to the Mighty M from all around the country to participate that afternoon. "If you are a veteran you know very well what it took to serve this country and we ask, no implore, you to please come to Monticello Raceway on September 6 and bring with you an un-opened non- perishable food item, some good cleaned used clothing, or a monetary donation which will be used to help the veterans in need, "Schwartz added. Schwartz, along with NAADA president, Joe Faraldo, are spearheading the 'veterans day at the races'. According to Faraldo there is room for one more amateur driver that day. Any amateur driver interested in being part of the veterans project, or for further information, is urged to contact Faraldo at 718-544-6800. Or they can call Schwartz at 516-996-8533. Admission to the races is free and post time will be at the usual 12:50pm. by John Manzi
At the conclusion of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's three track winter-spring trotting series, on May 29th that harness racing organizations vice president Alan Schwartz made a $1000 donation to the Veterans Food Bank of Monticello.
Dave Offenberg and his trotter Whatnblazes, shadowed the pace-setter Killer Whale to the top of the lane and then rallied to a 2:01 harness racing victory in the ninth leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's three-track trotting series on Saturday afternoon( May 11) at Freehold Raceway.
The eighth and last next to last preliminary leg in the North American Amateur Drivers Association's Charity Trotting Series saw New Jersey-native Brad Rathbone rein his veteran trotter Killer Whale to a wire to wire harness racing triumph at Freehold Raceway last Saturday afternoon(May 4).
Tremendous Hit has had many good seasons during his lengthy harness racing career attested by the fact that the veteran 12-year-old trotter has bankrolled over $438,000in his career.