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Look out boys the girls now have to be reckoned with in the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series. For the second time in consecutive days a gal has emerged victorious. On Wednesday night at Northfield Park, Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola scored an impressive harness racing victory and last night, May 26, at Yonkers Raceway "Hurricane Hannah" Miller won her Billings division. And in a second split where there was no female participant with a mount, "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli cruised to victory. It's no secret that the ladies are making inroads with more of gentler sex participating but especially with the emergence of Hannah Miller. Last year she won 32 races and walked away with the Dan Patch Trophy as National Amateur Driver of the Year and again this season the talented miss is picking up where she left off. Her victory last night was her 10th already this season. According to boyfriend Nick Surick, three different trainers wanted Hannah to drive their horse in the Billings at Yonkers on Thursday. So after doing some homework Hannah decided to pick Scottish Cross, a veteran trotter from the Rene Allard barn. "He's a really nice horse and he was easy to handle," Miller said of her first time behind Scottish Cross. They left hard from the two-hole and had command in a :28.2 first quarter. "Once the field settled I was looking for a breather (for my horse) and we got to the half in :59.2. From there we opened daylight on the field and we were three (lengths) in front coming off the final turn. I still had plenty of horse when we crossed the finish line." Scottish Cross traversed the mile distance in 1:59.1 and defeated Celebrity Stimulus driven by David "the Litigator" Glasser by 2-1/4 lengths. Third, some six lengths behind the winner, was Bullet Bob" Davis with Swift Blizzard. The winner is owned by Allard Racing Inc. In the second division Tony Ciuffettelli took no prisoners when he sent Star Studded Cast to the lead from the seven-hole and they were on top before the turn. They trotted by the first stanza in :28.1 and from there Ciuffetteli played catch me if you can, and nobody could, as Star Studded Cast trotted on the a five length triumph in a 1:57.3 clocking over For You Almostfree, and driver "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. Third place went to Sam's Honeybee, driven by Billings president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. "'Star' raced big tonight," Ciuffetteli said via email after his driving victory. "My game plan was to blast off the car and find a spot but after making front so easily I decided to keep him rolling and he responded nicely. He was strong all the way to the finish." "Tough Tony" also owns and trains the winner. Both Yonkers went as non-wagering events. John Manzi

Three $40,000 divisions of Ohio-bred filly trotters will line up behind the Northfield Park starting gate on Sunday night, May 29, in the second leg of Ohio Sires Stakes for harness racing 3-year-olds. First race post time is 6 pm, ET. The first leg of Ohio Sires Stakes (OSS) was contested May 6 at Miami Valley Raceway, with 27 horses of this age, gender and gait entered into three divisions. Overall, 69 sophomore trotting fillies were nominated to the first and second leg of this series, with 71 being nominated to the third and fourth legs of OSS contests. In regards to the number of OSS participants nominated by stallions standing in the Buckeye State, Dejarmbro topped the list in the trotting ranks with 58 nominees, followed by Triumphant Caviar with 29, Chip Chip Hooray with 22, Woodstock with 13, Full Count with 12 and Break The Bank K with nine. His Highness garnered six nominees, while Amigo Hall, And Away We Go, Hard Rock N Roll, and Trainforthefuture had five each. Big Rigs, Lion Hunter, Tom Cango and Victory Sam each had four nominees. Those Ohio-based stallions with three nominees to their credit include Cayenne Turbo, Pilgrims Taj and Royal Strength. Bite The Taxman, Iron Duke, Keystone Nordic, Rompaway Wally, and Southwind Wrangler each had two of their progeny nominated to the OSS program, while All In Hall, Home Stretch, Ilooklikemymom, Lou's Legacy, Manhattan, OU Man, Rose Run Hooligan, Southfork and Steven One all had one nominee each in the trotting ranks. Heading up the first $40,000 division (Race 5) of diagonally-gaited specialists is the Jim Arledge, Jr.-trained Consolidator. Owned by the Green Acquisition Corporation of Canfield, OH, this daughter of Triumphant Caviar won her 2016 debut in the first leg of this series on May 6 at Miami Valley in gate-to-wire fashion in 1:57.4. Handled deftly by Chris Page, this big bay filly won that start by 2½ lengths, pushing her career earnings to $97,616. After winning two OSS legs as a freshman, she was a solid third in the $225,000 OSS Final at Scioto Downs last fall. Consolidator is the sixth and most prolific foal out of the Muscles Yankee mare Muscle Toy, 3, 1:55.3 ($107,723). Muscle Toy was no slouch as a racehorse-winning among others the $44,000 Hayes Memorial in 1:56.3 as a 2-year-old at DuQuoin in 2003. Consolidator was bred by the Rose Run Farm of Sugarcreek, OH and sold for $25,000 at the 2014 Ohio Selected Jug Sale. Regular driver Chris Page will be aboard from post six against seven rivals. Up Front Racing's Hoorah Hoorah-who was second in her OSS-leg one test on May 6 to Kerfuffle Cookie-will be looking for her first victory of the season in four tries. Conditioned by Kelly O'Donnell, this $27,573-winning daughter of Chip Chip Hooray could be a serious threat to Consolidator from the rail with Aaron Merriman driving. Kim Dailey's Wegotthechips is another looking to stop Consolidator's bid at a second victory. This daughter of Deep Chip-Margie Lavec-Master Lavec was second to Kandy Krisp in the first leg of this series at Miami Valley. Conditioned by Jim Dailey, Wegotthechips has career earnings of $33,630 and won five starts at two, but has yet to visit the winner's circle in 2016. She comes into this race fresh off a May 25 victory at Scioto Downs, when she was clocked in a career best 1:58. Peter Wrenn drives from post three. The second $40,000 OSS division (Race 9) features a field of nine sophomore filly trotters, headed up by Kestrel, the 2-year-old Trotting Filly of 2016. She's drawn the coveted rail slot for trainer/co-owner Chris Beaver and owner Wilbur Lang of Jamestown, OH and will have Aaron Merriman in the sulky. The daughter of Triumphant Caviar won six of seven starts as a freshman, with one second and earnings of $191,650. The homebred filly was a multiple OSS winner at 2 and finished second by a nose to Count On Kami in the $225,000 Final on Super Night last year. Kestrel is the first foal out of the unraced Credit Winner mare Blackrock-herself a half-sister to Pop I (by Andover Hall) 4, 1:55.2h ($164,109) and to Swan Princess (by Swan For All) 4, 1:57f ($97,052). Though Kestrel looks much the best of this division, she'll face strong efforts from the likes of the Chris Beaver-trained Evanora with Josh Sutton driving from post four. A career winner of $75,250, the daughter of Pilgrims Taj won a pair of OSS events last season, but had her issues staying on gait at times. She finished fourth in the first leg of this series on May 6 at Miami Valley. Buckeye Lady One is another serious threat who'll go postward with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the sulky, scoring from the second-tier. Trained by Josh Green for Jj&M Stable of Harrington, DE; Richard Lombardo, Solon, OH; and Baron Racing Stable of Horsham, PA, the daughter of Pilgrim's Taj was second to Consolidator in the first leg of this series and has one win under her belt thus far this season. A winner of $46,973, Buckeye Lady One was bred by Eli Miller of Sugarcreek, OH and was a $32,000 yearling buy at the 2014 Ohio Selected Jug Sale. She is a half-sister to Jessie's Song (by Jailhouse Jesse) 4, 1:54.2f ($136,576). OSS leg one winners Kerfuffle Cookie (post 2~Chris Page) and Kandy Krisp (post 8~Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) will square off in the third $40,000 OSS division (Race 11) that features another nine-horse field of filly contestants. Chris Beaver trains and co-owns Kerfuffle Cookie along with owners Synerco Ventures, Inc. of Toronto, Canada. A winner of $100,170 to date, the daughter of Chip Chip Hooray won a trio of OSS events as a freshman, and recorded a career mark of 1:57.1 this season at Miami Valley Raceway in a conditioned trot. Bred by Lmn Bred Stables of Mount Sterling, OH, Kerfuffle Cookie is the third of five foals out of the unraced Conway Hall mare Minor Skirmish, and was a $20,000 yearling at the 2014 Ohio Selected Jug Sale. She has half-siblings in Allie's Gift (by Holiday Road) 3, 1:57.1h ($55,241) and Special Agent Man (by Federal Flex) 3, Q1:59.1s ($45,037). Kandy Krisp is conditioned by Kim Sigler for John Stafford of Warren, OH and Tucker Baumiller of Boardman, OH. This winner of $38,656 lifetime has a pair of impressive efforts on her card coming into this OSS division. She won OSS leg one in 1:58.4 by two lengths in an impressive, come-from-behind effort on May 6 at Miami Valley, and followed that up with a 5¼ length rally on May 17 in a Northfield Park overnight, stopping the clock in a career best 1:56.4. A $6,000 yearling purchase at the 2014 Blooded Horse Sale, Kandy Krisp is the fifth of five foals out of the Keystone Nordic mare Kandy's Lc 3, 1:59.4f ($155,893). Her siblings include: High Jacked (by Davanti) 5, 1:56.4 ($133,810); and Shezalock (by Lockkeeper) 4, 1:57.4f ($43,951). Ohio Sires Stakes action continues on Monday afternoon at Scioto Downs with four $40,000 divisions for 3-year-old Ohio-bred pacing fillies. Post time is set for 2 pm, ET. by Kimberly Rinker, OSDF Administrator  

If you don't think that amateur harness drivers enjoy the competitions you'd be terribly mistaken. They race for sport and the love of the game. Take Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola, for instance. The business professional winged her way in from Chicago along with her dad, "Chicago George" Bonono, to drive in a mid-west region Billings Series trot at Northfield Park in greater Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 25. Perhaps somewhat intimidated by handling a longshot and being the only woman in the race still Ruvola was up for the task. After all it wasn't her first rodeo. She was up behind Upfront Chip Daddy from post five, a decided outsider at odds of 40-1..But as NY Yankee slugger Yogi Berra once famously said "it ain't over till it's over". Not expecting a whole lot Ruvola took advantage of the breaks in the race and worked herself and great trip and much to her surprise her horse was more than ready and she rallied him to a 1:57:3 victory. Trailing by two lengths in forth position at the head of the stretch Upfront Chip Daddy charged home a one length winner over 1-5 favorite Star Chip driven by Gregg "Fast Greggy" Kiedel. Third place went to Heza Rube and driver Bob "the Lumberman" Troyer. To say that "The Belle" was overjoyed by her victory would be a gross understatement. Ruvola, also an accomplished horsewoman, scored her first win in her first seasonal start and the 38th of her limited driving career which began in 1996. But this longshot victory was special. Besides beating her dad- he finished seventh-she also beat some nice trotters and many seasoned amateur drivers Contacted after the race Ruvola was exuberant and full of joy. She started by yelping "Woo Hoo!!" and added "it isn't very professional, but add a face-splitting smile to that whoop of joy and you may get an inkling of how I felt crossing the finish line! I had no idea we had any chance of beating the "big boys". "This race was one of those rare occasions when the stars aligned and the rest just came together. . "We came out of the five hole, parked to the quarter and then tucked in the fourth. And as the first three started to open up in a quick (:57.4) first half I hoped if we could just hang with the good horses we'd have a shot at passing them. And then, lo and behold, I asked my horse to go wide on the turn and he went on and never looked back! "Can you tell I'm still on an adrenaline high?" Michelle was quick to share the accomplishment with trainer Crist Hershberger and others behind the scenes. . "Thanks to everybody who helped us get to the winner's circle tonight. In horseracing, it truly takes a village," she gleefully added. Upfront Chip Daddy is owned by George and Rose Bonomo. He paid $82.20; $20.40; and $5.00 across the board. By John Manzi for the Billings Series

Wiggle It Jiggleit has traveled to Northfield Park's Flying Turns on two occasions and has two harness racing track records to prove it. Winner of the 2015 Carl Milstein Memorial in 1:49.3, the fasted mile paced at Northfield Park by a three year-old gelding, Wiggle It Jiggleit is now also the fastest four year-old gelding on the half-mile oval by virtue of his easy victory in Saturday's (May 21) $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie. Wiggle It Jiggleit (Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover-Jenna's Beach Boy) is owned by the partnership of George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership. He is trained by Clyde Francis. Montrell Teague had the winning drive. Entering the Battle off two runner-up finishes, many analysts were not eyeing Wiggle It Jiggleit, but rather (#5) Freaky Feet Pete as their selection. Freaky Feet Pete entered the event off a nine-race win streak. "Almost every print I looked in has us picked for second, some even for third," said owner George Teague. "I wondered if I was looking at the same program as them, but it even had me doubting our chances in here." As the gate pulled away from the stellar Battle field, Wiggle It Jiggle left no doubt who would reign supreme. He led his rivals from start to finish. Wiggle It Jiggleit started from the rail and led his competition every step of the way through fractions of :28, :55.4, 1:23 and 1:49.4, besting his rivals by 4-1/4 lengths. Pacing an initial quarter in a leisurely :28, and sprinting his final quarter in :26.4, there was no catching Wiggle It Jiggleit. "My horse was unbelievably grabby and ready to roll," explained Montrell Teague. "Although we went slow early, no one would have had a chance to get the lead anyway." Saturday's win marks the 28th score for Wiggle It Jiggleit in 35 career races and increases his bankroll to $2,478,260. Ayers Ratliff

Freaky Feet Pete won over Indiana --- and then much of North America --- with his winning ways over the past two years. Now the harness racing 4-year-old male pacer is getting ready for his first stakes race of 2016, facing seven foes in Saturday's $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park. The Battle of Lake Erie features not only Freaky Feet Pete, who won 15 of 17 races last year including the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male pacers, but harness racing's all-time richest horse, 12-year-old Foiled Again, and the 2015 Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit. Freaky Feet Pete has won 27 of 30 career races and earned $1.14 million for owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer. In addition to the Breeders Crown, Freaky Feet Pete won last year's American-National Stakes at Balmoral Park. Except for the Breeders Crown and American-National, the horse has raced exclusively at Hoosier Park, where he captured two Indiana Sire Stakes championships. The stallion was bred by Mary Jo's husband Larry, who also trains Freaky Feet Pete. The Rheinheimers live near LaGrange, Ind., in the northeast corner of the Hoosier State. Freaky Feet Pete and regular driver Trace Tetrick will start the Battle of Lake Erie from post five. Freaky Feet Pete, who is 3-for-3 this year with all his victories coming in invitational handicaps at Hoosier Park, is 2-1 on the morning line. He is the second choice behind even-money favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit, who drew post one. Freaky Feet Pete won two of three meetings with Wiggle It Jiggleit last season. Larry Rheinheimer recently took time to talk with Ken Weingartner of the USTA's Harness Racing Communications division about the Battle of Lake Erie and the fun of living with Freaky Feet Pete. KW: Let's start by going back to last year when you won the Breeders Crown. What was the reaction like back home? LR: Crazy. I mean he's a hometown hero. If people could watch (the Breeders Crown) on television, they did. If they couldn't, they found it on the computer. Everyone was excited. KW: Do people come up to you a lot to talk about him? LR: Oh yeah. When I go to town or go somewhere, people are always asking when is Pete racing again, or how did Pete do last week. Most of them know how he's done, but they want to know when he's racing again. KW: Are you the most famous duo up in that part of the state? LR: I don't know if I am, but he is. (Laughs.) Everyone knows him. KW: Do you feel any more comfortable now being the center of attention? LR: Not really. (Laughs.) I like to sneak up on them. KW: Well, I don't think that's going to happen anymore. LR: No, we blew that. (Laughs.) KW: But the way it's worked out has been pretty good. LR: It has. It's been a great ride. My wife and I and the kids, we've enjoyed it. And I've got one sister that follows me everywhere we go. KW: What's been the most enjoyable part of it all? LR: Just the fanfare, I think. We've met a lot of very nice people. A super lot. I hear from all over that people watch when Pete races. Now I think the biggest pressure on me is hoping that nothing goes wrong. I've raced enough horses in my life to know they're all going to get beat. That's why we race them. But I'm hoping we go a good race and everything works good. KW: Was it difficult waiting through the winter? Were you anxious to get going again? LR: I was anxious to see how he would come back this year. That was the biggest thing. You go from year to year when you shut them down and you don't know how they're going to come back. You hope for the best, but sometimes it doesn't happen. KW: How long was he off and when did you bring him back? LR: He was off for about six weeks. We didn't let him completely down. One of the reasons we just started back jogging with him was he was so fired up in the paddock. KW: When you started to bring him back did you sense right away that he was good? LR: He did everything handily and never took a bad step or anything. He was feeling good all the time, so we felt pretty good about him coming back. KW: Did you see him change much over the winter? LR: I think he filled out a little more in his chest and a little more in the rump. I think he filled out more this year than he did last year. He feels good. He likes it here at home. He's throwing his head and playing and feeling good. He's enjoying himself and trains nicely. I feel real comfortable with him. KW: What did you think about his performances in his first three races this year? LR: I thought he was good in all three of them. In the last one, Trace came off a helmet with him, which I like, and he was good. To me, that was his best race so far. The qualifiers weren't anything, just qualifiers. The last one, when he raced him from off the pace, that made me feel better. KW: When you saw the draw come out, aside from Wiggle It Jiggleit getting post one, you had to feel better that you didn't get the eight or the seven. LR: (Laughs.) Yeah, I did. I'm not unhappy with the five. You're in the middle of the swing there. But I was happy I didn't have the eight. I was looking for the eight when Wiggle It Jiggleit was the one. (Laughs.) KW: Are you looking forward to your first stakes races of the year? LR: Yes, I am. He's doing good and everything is together and we're ready to go, I think. KW: He trains on a half-mile track, so you're not too concerned about that? LR: Not really. We train him on a half all the time and I think he can handle it. You never know for sure, but I think it will be OK. And with the five hole out there with the banked turn I feel a little more comfortable. KW: What do you think about the race? LR: I'm hoping there are some front-runners out there, but I don't know for sure. And that's Trace's decision. I know when the gate folds, that's when the decision will be made. KW: What's Pete's schedule like this season? LR: I think we're going to go to the Graduate Series at Mohawk next after this race. After that, there are a couple of races out East. KW: It's going to be a fun year watching that (older pacer) division. And a lot of them are Indiana-bred. LR: Indiana has come a long way. These Indiana horses can go anyplace and race. That's what I feel. All of these people brought their broodmares up and everything else and it's paying off for them. Ken Weingartner

If racing fans are looking for a nightcap to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, Northfield Park has the perfect closing act – the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie.   Since its inception in 1986, the Battle of Lake Erie has drawn the best veteran pacers the sport has to offer.  Past Battle Champions include racing greats Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Riyadh, Gallo Blue Chip and Maltese Artist.     This year, the Grand Circuit one mile dash for veteran pacers has attracted Wiggle It Jiggleit, last year’s Horse of the Year and winner of the Little Brown Jug, Freaky Feet Pete, the 2015 Breeders Crown champ, and Foiled Again, the richest horse in the history of harness racing.   Wiggle It Jiggleit has drawn the rail and has been installed as the even-money favorite. Racing for George Teague and Teague Racing Partnership, the 4-year-old gelded son of Mr Wiggles has won 27 of 34 career starts and $2.3 million.   This will be his second trip to the Flying Turns. Wiggle It Jiggleit won last year’s $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial, the track’s premier event, in 1:49 3/5, establishing a track record for sophomore gelded pacers.   Freaky Feet Pete, who drew the No. 5 post and is the earlybird second betting choice at 2-1, arrives at Northfield with a sparkling record, a winner of 27 of 30 starts and $1.1 million.    The son of Rockin Image will carry a nine-race winning streak to the gate.  His start in the Battle will be his first on a half-mile track.   “He trains on a half-mile track at home,” said Marty Rheinheimer, co-owner of Freaky Feet Pete. “I’m really not worried at all about him getting around the track. I think he will take to it just fine.”   Foiled Again will be making an unprecedented eighth consecutive start in the Battle of Lake Erie, a race he has won three times, including last year’s renewal. Now 12, the gelded son of Dragon Again, another Battle winner (2000), has won 86 of 253 starts and a record $7,372,138.   “Every time he steps on the track it’s history, so it’s cool” said trainer Ron Burke.   Foiled Again’s score in last year’s Battle sent his bankroll over $7 million. No other Standardbred has earned as much as $6 million. Ready Cash, a retired trotter, is second to Foiled Again with a bankroll of $5.7 million.    Dave Bianconi, Northfield’s executive vice-president of racing and simulcasting, who put the race field together, believes the Battle lineup is strong enough to threaten the track record.   “They have a shot at breaking it,” he said. “I can see a sub-1:50 mile if the conditions are right.”   A Rocknroll Dance holds the record, a 1:49 1/5 mile in the 2013 Battle of Lake Erie.   An impressive undercard featuring three $20,000 Opens and three $20,000 late closer finals will support this year’s Battle of Lake Erie.   In addition, Battle night will also offer guests a sumptuous dinner buffet in Lady Luck’s clubhouse. The special Battle of Lake Erie Buffet is just $19.95.  Reservations are preferred and can be made by calling 330/467-4101.     Guests who want to be down close to all of the racing action can stop by the grandstand apron to sample the fare of some of northeast Ohio’s most popular food trucks.  Live music by Unknown Reason can also be enjoyed on the apron, and patrons will receive a FREE spin on the Northfield Park Prize Wheel from 8 to 9 p.m.   The Battle of Lake Erie is scheduled as the 11th event on the 15-race program with a first race 6:00 p.m. post time.  A Pick 4 will begin in race eight and offers a $10,000 guaranteed pool, while the Battle will offer a $25,000 guaranteed Superfecta pool. The 2016 $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie Field:   Post Horse Driver Trainer M/L 1 Wiggle It Jiggleit Montrell Teague Clyde Francis 1-1 2 Ideal Cowboy Aaron Merriman Jeffrey Bamond Jr. 8-1 3 Roland N Rock TBA Rob Harmon 25-1 4 Foiled Again Joe Bongiorno Ron Burke 10-1 5 Freaky Feet Pete Trace Tetrick Larry Rheinheimer 2-1 6 Santa Fe Beachboy Ronnie Wrenn Jr. Brian Brown 25-1 7 Luck Be Withyou Dave Palone Chris Oakes 15-1 8 All Bets Off Matt Kakaley Ron Burke 12-1   by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Aaron Merriman had a monster night on Monday (May 16) at Northfield Park by posting eight wins on the 15-race harness racing program. Merriman's triumphs were with Fashion Chocolate ($2.20) in race three, Gale Force Hanover ($2.40) in race five, Kirty Dream ($2.40) in race seven, Milliron Pete ($11.80) in race eight, Mythical Hall ($10.20) in race nine, Fox River Mark ($8.80) in race 10, All Powerful ($16.00) in race 11 and Skull Of Roses ($6.60) in race 14. Merriman was the leading driver in North America in 2015 and is leading by more than 80 wins so far this year. He will be honored with a special presentation for winning the 2015 dash tile on Saturday (May 21). This ceremony is part of Northfield Park's Battle of Lake Erie festivities. Merriman has been driving since 1997 and has since posted 8,175 career wins and is approaching $48 million is purse earnings. Success over the Flying Turns is nothing new to Merriman. He has more wins than any other driver in the Northfield's history. Ayers Ratliff

Two weeks ago Bob "the Lumberman" Troyer and Heza Rube coupled-up to score Billings victory at Miami Valley Raceway and Saturday night (May 11) they returned to the winners circle, this time at Northfield Park, with another harness racing victory under their belts. But it took a gutsy trip by the 6-year-old Master Lavec gelding to get the job done in the 1:59.3 trotted mile.. When the gate sprung three trotters went for the lead but Patient ID and "Lawbook Larry" Farley, starting from the pylon position, parked all comers. Unlimited Winner with "Northfield Nadine" Habke were three-deep on the first turn but they gained command as the field passed the first stanza in :29.4. Troyer and Heza Rube were looking for a hole along the inside but it didn't materialize and they were stuck on the limb. Still first-over as the field trotted by the half in :59.4 "the Lumberman" had little choice other than pursue the front and his charge responded as Heza Rube took command when the field neared the three quarters. In the lane Heza Rube was dead-game and still full of trot and went on to a length triumph over Patient ID even though the latter had enjoyed a two-hole trip after relinquishing the lead early on. Third place went to Fort Commander who had the services of "Slick Rick" Braun. Not particularly proud of their journey still Bob Troyer was pleased with the results of the race. "I certainly was in a position I didn't want to be in after the start," Troyer related. "He (Heza Rube) normally doesn't leave well and I usually can find a hole and come late but that didn't work out. "Now Rube normally doesn't handle a lot of air but tonight he didn't care and he just wanted to trot so I guess tonight was his night. It was ugly, but a win is a win, and I was proud of him." Owned by Deborah Kvernmo and trained by Marty Wollam, Heza Rube paid $3.20 for win. Next Billing action will be in the east region on Friday night May 13, at The Meadowlands. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $50,000 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to Saturday's (May 7th) harness racing program. Beginning in Race 3, the $50,000 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $19,331.80. Northfield's Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3's offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent. Saturday's post time is 6:00 p.m.  

All Bets Off, third in North America in earnings this year with $221,950 in the bank, heads the probable list of harness racing all-star pacers for the May 21st renewal of Northfield Park's Battle of Lake Erie. The one mile dash also includes Foiled Again, harness racing's all-time money-winner, and Freaky Feet Pete, a horse who wins a staggering 89.6 percent of his starts. All Bets Off, a 5-year-old son of Bettor's Delight, has competed at the highest level for four years, winning 20 of 58 career starts and $1.7 million in purses. A winner of two of eight starts this year, he's off a runner-up finish (beaten a length) in the Apr. 23 $609,000 George Morton Levy Final at Yonkers. No stranger to Northfield, All Bets Off won the inaugural Milstein Memorial in 2014. Harness Racing's longest shining star, Foiled Again, who at age 12, will be seeking to defend his Battle championship as well as seeking his fourth overall victory in the race's 32 editions. His $7,369,138 bankroll, gleaned from 86 victories in 252 starts is the highest in the history of harness racing, both on the pace and trot. Foiled Again's other Battle triumphs came in 2009 and 2011. This will be his eighth start in the tradition laden race. Freaky Feet Pete is ultra-consistent. The 4-year-old son of Rockin Image has won 26 of 29 career starts with two seconds, including last year's Breeder's Crown at Woodbine Raceway. He has banked $1,136,724. Local favorite Ameichi, from the barn of Brian Loney, is pointing for the Battle. He has won two of his last three starts at Northfield Park in the $13,500 weekly feature. The ultra-sharp six-year-old just paced his 1:51 2/5 lifetime mark on April 18 around the Flying Turns. Since its inception in 1986, the Battle of Lake Erie has drawn the best veteran pacers the sport has to offer. Past Battle Champions include racing greats Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Riyadh, Gallo Blue Chip, and Maltese Artist. Official entries for the Battle will be drawn May 17. The card, which will follow Northfield's simulcast of the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico Race Course, will also include a trio of $20,000 late closer finals along with three $20,000 opens events. Complete list of horses nominated to the 2016 Battle of Lake Erie: All Bets Off Americhi Beach Memories Cammikey Domethatagain Dreams Beachboy Foiled Again Freaky Feet Pete Gallipolis Ideal Cowboy Let's Drink On It Limelight Beach Luck Be With You Michaels Power Remember Me VK Roland N Rock Santa Fe Beachboy Seventh Secret Sports Sinner Sunfire Blue Chip Twilight Bonfore Wiggle It Jiggleit Ayers Ratliff

Northfield Park is the place to be for this year’s Triple Crown action!  Plan your weekend with us for a fun time for both the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7 and the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 6.  Doors open early at 9:30 AM on both days with first post at Churchill Downs at 10:30 AM.  Northfield Park will offer a special $2,000 Churchill Downs Handicapping Contest each day where the winner could walk away with $1,000! Advance wagering on the Derby will be available, plus simulcasting from 40+ tracks from all over the world. Northfield Park will host its 5th Annual Food Truck Festival outside on the apron on Derby Day Saturday.  Eleven of Northeast Ohio’s top food trucks will be selling their specialties from 12 (noon) until 7 pm.  Food truck participants include The Beachcomber, Fire Truck Pizza Company, Get Stuffed Mobile Eatery, The Nosh Box, Seti’s Polish Boys, The Spread, Ye Olde School Treats N Eats, Zydeco Bistro, The Crooked Kettle Popcorn Co., Draegers Hot Fudge Sundaes and Hobos Gumbo. Don’t miss out on a Kentucky Derby favorite - the mint julep! Mint Juleps will be available all day long and be sure to pick up your commemorative Kentucky Derby glass too. Enjoy live music by Victory Highway 1:00 – 3:00 PM; Monica Robins & The Ninja Cowboys 3:30 – 5:30 PM; and Unknown Reason on the outdoor apron from 6:00-10:00 PM.  Enter our Kentucky Derby Hat Contest, sponsored by Seagram’s and WGAR from 12 Noon until 4:45 PM.  WGAR’s Brian and LeeAnn will be on-site from 4-6 PM for the judging and best hat wins $500!  Plus, ESPN Cleveland will broadcast live with the Street Team from 12-3 PM and visit Jeff Kurkjian from the Q-104 Morning Show from 2-4 PM.  If you are arriving early join Bob “Railbird” Roberts and track announcer Ayers Ratliff for a Churchill Downs Handicapping Seminar, which begins at 10:30 AM outside on the apron.  The “Railbird” will offer a second seminar at 5:30 PM highlighting the Kentucky Derby race. The excitement continues all afternoon for a chance to win big just for being here!  Over $10,000 in prizes will be given away throughout Derby Day.  Simply fill out the entry blank that you receive when you enter and deposit it in the contest bin located in the center of the grandstand.  Names will be drawn randomly throughout the day for a chance to spin our prize wheel.  Every spin is a winner and you could win great prizes like Cash, Kentucky Derby merchandise, $100 Kentucky Derby Win Wagers, Hard Rock Rocksino concert tickets, gift cards, sporting tickets and more.  Plus, you could spin the cash wheel for $500, $1,000 or the grand prize of $2,500 in cash! New to Derby Day 2016 is Live Racing! Northfield Park will offer 15 action packed races featuring the $13,500 Fillies and Mares Open. First race post time is scheduled for 6 pm.  Lady Luck’s clubhouse will be open featuring a Kentucky Derby themed buffet from 5:30-9 PM for $19.95 per person. For reservations call 330-467-410.. FREE admission and FREE parking every day at Northfield Park! Ayers Ratliff         

Kurt Sugg is having the time of his life. Not only is the 46-year-old Ohio native approaching a driving milestone he never considered possible just several years ago, he enjoys going to work every day. In fact, Sugg hardly considers what he does as work. "I've never had a job," Sugg said, laughing. "I've been very fortunate. I'm third generation (in harness racing); I've grown up doing this. It can be a grind, but to go to work, I don't even look at it like work. You win a race and it's enjoyable. It's just something I love to do and I can't imagine doing anything but this. I guess if I wasn't doing very well I might look at it a little differently, but the way things are, I'm really enjoying it." Sugg, who jogged his first horse at the age of 9 for his father, Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Famer Ivan Sugg, entered Monday needing 12 wins to reach 3,000 for his driving career. Nearly 80 percent of those victories have come since the start of the 2007 season, when Sugg decided to stop spending winters in Florida and race regularly at Northfield Park. "It's pretty special," Sugg said about the approaching milestone. "It's something I never thought I would attain at one time because earlier in my career I raced my own horses and went to Florida in the winter. Since I stopped going to Florida, I've become sort of a regular at Northfield Park, though. I pick up quite a few drives each night up there. "It's actually something I always wanted to do but the opportunity didn't present itself with my training just colts for the most part and going to Florida. But now with staying in Ohio fulltime I'm able to do it and really enjoy it." This year, Sugg ranks third in wins at Northfield Park, with 101. The two drivers ahead of him --- Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and Aaron Merriman --- have both won national dash championships. Merriman again leads North America with 279 wins this season and Wrenn is third, with 208, just two victories behind second-place Alfie Carroll. Sugg's 101 triumphs rank No. 22 in North America. Over the past two weeks he has been winning at an 18-percent clip and since early March has been hitting at 16 percent. "I can't complain about third (at Northfield) when Ronnie Wrenn and Aaron Merriman are one and two," Sugg said. "Being behind them is OK in my book. Aaron and Ronnie pick up a lot of the live drives there, so it makes it a little difficult, but I've got some loyal trainers that stick with me and provide me with opportunities to get the wins." He added, chuckling, "It probably is a little easier to drive there because you know what horses you have to beat. You just have to look for Ronnie and Aaron and those are the horses that you want to get behind and they're going to drag you to the top where you can have a shot. If you see them out there, you know they're not on a long shot." Despite competing in a tough driver colony, Sugg finds an atmosphere of camaraderie at Northfield Park. In fact, when Sugg won six of 10 drives at Northfield on April 19, rival Merriman took to social media to shine a light on Sugg's accomplishment and praise him. "I love racing at Northfield," Sugg said. "We're all good friends and we all get along real well. Obviously there are a few times when things might not go well on the track and we're upset for 10 or 15 minutes, but we're all friends and we get over it. I've never raced anywhere that has kind of the family atmosphere it is at Northfield." In addition to driving, Sugg trains a 15-horse stable. He is coming off a career-best year for driving purses, with $2.27 million in 2015, and nearly reached his best for training purses, with $492,348 last season. For his career, Sugg has won 865 races as a trainer. Among the top horses from his stable last year were Ohio Sire Stakes finalists Nobles Finesse and Mickey Moose; he also drove Ohio Sire Stakes champion Count On Kami for trainer Marty Wollam. Past stable stars for Sugg include world champions Dunkster and Blastaway Sahbra. "My dad taught me everything about training that I know," Sugg said about his father, Ivan, whose accomplishments include conditioning 2003 Horse of the Year No Pan Intended. "At least I learned a little bit from him; I don't think I have all the knowledge he has. "I enjoy training. I've trained for over 20 years for Dean Davis and he's provided the opportunity with well-bred horses. I've been very fortunate to have some real nice horses. I was hoping to reach the half-million-dollar mark (last year) and I just didn't quite get there. Maybe this year." If he does get there, it might take work but it won't be a job. by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

Ronnie Wrenn Jr. had a monster night on Monday (April 18) at Northfield Park by posting eight wins on the 15-race program. Wrenn's triumphs were with Ultimate Winner ($3.00) in race one, Jagger Blue Chip ($3.80) in race two, Mcport In A Storm ($7.60) in race four, Absolutely Certain ($5.00) in race five, Mythical Hall ($6.20) in race nine, Major Marcus ($16.00) in race 10, Rusty's No Fool ($7.80) in race 11and Orse Power ($4.60) in race 13. Wrenn is Northfield's leading driver with 184 local wins so far this year. Aaron Merriman (156), Kurt Sugg (89), Joe Bongiorno (80) and Ryan Stahl (78) complete the top five. Being the leading driver at Northfield is nothing new to Ronnie, who won Northfield's 2013, 2014 and 2015 local titles. Wrenn has been driving since 2008 and has since posted 3,168 career wins and is approaching $15 million is purse earnings. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Steve and Patricia Cross, harness racing trainers and owners of Diamonds Revenge, have been waiting for their 14 year-old pacer Diamonds Revenge to win one final time before retiring him to a new career. Diamonds Revenge found the line a winner in the seventh race on Wednesday (March 30) at Northfield Park. He soundly beat his competition by two lengths in 1:57.2 with the Cross's son Kevin driving. "He is such and nice horse and my wife absolutely adores him," said Steve Cross. "He deserves to retire and to retire a winner." Soon Diamonds Revenge will be providing carriage rides to the public at Punderson State Park in nearby Newbury, Ohio. The Crosses purchased Diamonds Revenge about five years ago at the Frank Chick sale in Delaware for only $2,500. His mild manner and huge heart quickly earned their respect and love. Diamonds Revenge leaves the racing scene after 307 career starts. He posted 34 victories, placed 45 times and showed in 46 races. He garnered $339,007 and paced a career best 1:52.1 at Harrington Raceway in 2007. For the past five years Diamonds Revenge has competed on the Flying Turns week after week and is respected throughout the track as a classy veteran. Diamonds Revenge will be missed but can still be enjoyed by equine fans giving carriage rides through the 741 acres of Punderson State Park in Geauga County, Ohio. Ayers Ratliff

Harness racing trainer Ron Burke has raced at just about every racetrack along the east coast and the one thing that is constant, he knows how to win. Burke eclipsed the $150 million dollar mark at Northfield Park on Monday night taking the co-featured Open Trot with Barn Girl. Barn Girl raced a majority of her starts in the New York Sire Stakes last year and in late 2015 was sold to Ron Burke. Since bringing Barn Girl to Northfield he has set the track record for 4-year-old mares and is unbeaten in 2016. Ron Burke started his training career in 1992 where he immediately took off hitting the board in 229 of his 560 starts that season. Since 2009, Burke has been over the $10 million mark in earnings training some of the sports top horses. One of the top horses that Burke has trained is Foiled Again who has won the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield three times and has over seven million dollars in earnings. Ron Burke has over 30,000 career training starts and has won 6,809 of those starts. By Michael Carter, for Northfield Park  

A carryover of $2,771.55 has sparked a $15,000 Guaranteed Pick-5 Total Pool Wednesday at the harness racing meeting at Northfield Park. Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $15,000 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to Wednesday's (March 23rd) program. Beginning in Race 3, the $15,000 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $2,771.55. Northfield's Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3's offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent. Wednesday's post time is 6:00 p.m. Ayers Ratliff

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