The new Roosevelt Raceway website has been launched and it can be viewed at www.rrtrotting.com The site has many photos, videos and several newspaper articles about harness racing, drivers and races from the Roosevelt Raceway glory days. Everyone who visits the website should read the newspaper articles, especially “Six for Cruise” and a “Perfect Night for Haughton” both located on the Hall of Fame page. Also the article “RR 1960” on the About page is an excellent story about the history of Roosevelt Raceway and it's founder George Morton Levy. The website is a work in progress and the released version consists of seven pages including a Hall of Fame, Videos, International Trot, and a Then & Now page. In the near future the current pages will be expanded on and other pages will be added, including an American Trotting Championship, Messenger Stake, Gallery, and Event pages. The websites theme is “Promoting the Past to Promote the Future”. There is also a link on the website that takes you to a Amazon page that is dedicated to mostly harness racing books. The website was designed and developed by Roosevelt Raceway co-author Freddie Hudson with assistance from Mike Lizzi, Trade Martin, Ray Cotolo and Roosevelt Raceway book co-author Billy Haughton. For more information contact email@example.com By Fred Hudson
Over the years the International Trots were raced on American soil and featured the most outstanding aged trotters in the world. Since the race was an American initiative, one would figure that the host country would have had the most winners in the event. Initially that was not the case but over the course of time the United States trotters emerged victorious 15 times, only three more than the amount of French victories. Sweden’s three International Trot wins is third best followed by Canada’s two. Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands trotters each had one win in the international event. And though they started multiple times in the International Trots, no German or Finnish horse has won the event. A Finnish horse “Seabiscuit” is currently being considered as a potential invitee for this year’s event. The inaugural International Trot was staged at Roosevelt Raceway in 1959 and that track was the site of the event until its demise in the early summer of 1988. The last International there was won by Sweden’s Callit when he turned down France’s Potin d’Amour in 1987. With the 1988 edition threatened by the closure of Roosevelt Raceway the powers to be were in a quandary. But Tim Rooney came to the rescue and quickly made plans to race the event at Yonkers Raceway. In doing so he hired Lew “Tootie” Barasch, Roosevelt’s premier PR man who was instrumental in all the previous International Trots at the Roosevelt facility. Tim even secured the United Nations as the venue for the post position draw. With Yonkers Raceway as the host, the world saw the United States’ Mack Lobell cruise to an easy victory over Canada’s AJ’s Speed in 1988. Six additional International Trots were then staged at Yonkers Raceway before economics forced the race to be discontinued in 1995. America’s last international champion was Giant Force in 1993. Giant Force was owned by the Spar J Stable (the Katz Family) and Ted Gewertz, still prominent veteran horse owners today. Giant Force a son of Meadow Road came into the August 14th, 1995 event with impressive credentials having won the Nat Ray at the Meadowlands the previous week. Driven by John “Sonny” Patterson, Jr. Giant Force, one of two American horses entered in the eight-horse field, used a burst of speed down the stretch to catch Meadow Prophet and just yards before the wire, he dashed past the Swedish champion. Giant Force, the 3-1 second choice, behind Sea Cove, the German horse who was the 9-5 favorite, trotted the mile and a quarter on the familiar oval in 2:27 flat, shattering the then world and stakes record set by the French horse Reve d'Udon in the 1990 International Trot and equaled by Sweden's Peace Corps the following year. "It was getting a little late so I thought it was about time to get started with him, and he really kicked in,” Patterson explained while being interviewed after the race. “Luckily, we got behind Meadow Prophet, and my horse really kept on coming down the stretch.” Unquestionably all involved with Giant Force’s victory were ecstatic but none more so than Ted Gewertz, a fan of Latin dance music who admitted he named Giant Force after a favorite album cover of the same name by bandleader Ray Barretto. “I was especially thrilled since not too many years previously I was just a player attending the races three or four times a week sitting in the grandstand and now there I was standing in the winner’s circle as a co-owner of the International Trot champion,” Gewertz said, and then added with a smile, “not bad for a kid from the Bronx!” Gewertz couldn’t say enough good things about Tim Rooney and the way he graciously extended both himself and Yonkers Raceway to all the participants, both before and after, that International trot. “After the race we all were invited to a hotel in Westchester for a post-race celebration and Tim had champagne on hand for all the other participants in the race. This after Tim personally opened his home to all at a pre-race dinner,” Gewertz added. The work behind the scenes to make the International Trot come to fruition can be mind-boggling when dealing with the likes of transportation, quarantine, licensing and all the details prior to the race. Joe Faraldo, president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, was instrumental in the return of the International Trot and he and his organization are working arm-in-arm with Yonkers Raceway to expand simulcast wagering to Europe. Because of those simulcasting inroads in Europe, for the first time Europeans can not only watch the race when it is being contested, but also wager on the race. This year’s International is expected to have two US representatives, a Canadian representative Bee A Magician and up to seven European trotters. The mile and a quarter event will be Saturday October 10 with a 3:25pm post time. First race on the card is scheduled for 2pm. Yonkers International Trot 1993 - Giant Force with John Patterson Jr driving Standardbred Owners Association of New York
The year was 1959. Interest in harness racing was at its zenith and those in the forefront felt that the sport should have international flavor. Since Europe only offered races for trotters it seemed natural that the powers behind such an international event would look across the pond to find the best trotters and bring them to race against the best that the United States and Canada had to offer. Back then the logical site of what was to be called the International Trot was Roosevelt Raceway, known in those days as the "Taj Mahal" of harness racing after a sparkling new $19 million racing facility was built and completed in 1957 with its Cloud Casino dining room. The onus of promoting the race lay upon Roosevelt Raceway's publicity and public relations department which got a tremendous boost from a harness racing friendly media including the New York Times. The inaugural racing distance was set at a 1-1/2 miles and the purse of $50,000 was huge in those days. Lew "Tootie" Barasch hunted down the horses worldwide and promoted the strong field that would participate. Representing the United States was Trader Horn; Philip Frost was Canada's entrant; Norway sent Jens Protector, while Germany was represented by Ivancourt; Italy had two entrants, Tornese and Icare IV and France sent their stalwart, Jamin. There was even an entrant from New Zealand by the name of Adept. Sure just the advent of bringing trotters across the vast Atlantic and Pacific was of utmost interest to the racing public but how was the attention of the general public captured to make the event a spectacular showcase for our sport? The French entrant, Jamin, was one of Europe's top trotters and when it was discovered that upon arriving in New York his food supply of artichokes was impounded by the Department of Agriculture, the stage became set. To stave off what could have turned out to result in a national disaster a solution had to be found. If not, Jamin would starve. He would lie at death's door. So humane societies, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, storekeepers and just private citizens, responded to the news stories flashed across the country via AP and UPI, and combed the land for the lifesaving delicacy. The search scoured along the eastern seaboard without turning up one single artichoke. But, in Monterey, California, a local grower Eugene Boggiato catapulted into action enlisting the aid of the California Artichoke and Vegetable Growers Association which assembled 120 pounds of them grown in Castroville, California and shipped them quickly to Idlewild (now JFK) Airport. Waiting for the touchdown of the mercy plane with its precious cargo was a horde of newsmen and photographers, a delegation of Raceway officials and, oh yes, a helicopter to hurry the artichokes to Jamin's stall. It all worked. It was great publicity and a fitting send off for the inaugural International Trot. The horse, energized after eating the artichokes, or so it was said, went on to win the race. Jamin held on to victory in front of a crowd of 48,000 spectators, with the Italian horse Tornese in second by half a length and betting favorite Trader Horn, the American entry, in third. Jamin toured the mile-and-a-half distance in 3:08.3. The monstrous crowd witnessed Jamin and driver Jean Riaud feed artichokes to Jamin in the winner's circle after the race. And the following year, on what was built by the Roosevelt Raceway the previous season, a crowd of 58,861 fans jammed into the state of the art racing facility to witness Holland's entrant Hairos win the second International Trot. After Roosevelt closed in 1988 the race moved to Yonkers Raceway and was last contested in 1995 when Sweden's His Majesty won the International Trot besting S.J.'s Photo and Panifesto, both American trotters. The timing seems right to bring back the International Trot especially with the inroads made by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York which has pioneered simulcasting to Europe. The upcoming $1 million purse for the International Trot is a big leap from the original purse and with or without an exceptional sidebar, this year's edition will be a welcome return of a great event at Yonkers Raceway on October 10.
Boca Raton, FL - Noted author, Victoria Howard, will be making two book signing appearances in Ontario, Canada July 4 and July 10. Howard will be appearing at Mohawk Raceway in Toronto on Saturday, July 4 and then at Grand River Raceway in Elora on Friday, July 10. She will be promoting her most recent book, "Roosevelt Raceway - Where It All Began" and her children's equine novel, "The Adventures of Max & Molly." At Mohawk Raceway on Saturday, July 4, Victoria Howard will be signing autographs and meeting fans starting at 6:00 pm on the main level of the track near the escalators to the main dining room and leading out towards trackside. Also that night on the racetrack will be the second leg of the Summertime Series for 3-year-old pacing colts and gelding. At Grand River Raceway on Friday, July 10, Victoria Howard will be meeting guests and signing autographs starting at 6:30 pm under the Tarmac Tent area. "I can't wait to get up to Canada next week," said Victoria Howard. 'It will be great to be there to meet racing fans plus I will get to see my baby in training, Magical Valentine. She is a two-year-old filly by Kadabra." Victoria Howard is the author of eleven books including the top seller "Why Women Love Bad Boys" that has already been translated and sold in 15 countries. She is a former Miss Pittsburgh, a Barbizon model, a Playboy Bunny and has been a Standardbred owner, breeder and trainer. She was a co-owner of the 1994 Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year, Efishnc, and still owns and breeds horses today. Ms. Howard is the host of the radio talk show, Beauty and the Shrink, and is a columnist for Aroundtown Newspaper with her bi-weekly "Dear Victoria" column. She was also honored in 2014 with the Allen J. Finkelson Award and in 2013 with the R.D. Ricketts Award, both awards for substantial contributions to the promotion of the Standardbred industry. For more information visit Victoria Howard on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. By Steve Wolf
Pompano Beach, FL...January 17, 2015...Canadian Touch, driven by George Napolitano, Jr., easily wired his competition on Saturday night at Pompano Park, taking the $12,000 feature for $20,000-$25,000 claimers in 1:50.2. In winning for the fifth time in his last six starts, the six year-old son of Camotion equalled his lifetime best performance--first established on December 27 of last year and duplicated one week later on January 3. Owned by Susan Oakes and trained by Chris Oakes after being claimed just one week ago, Canadian Touch began paying dividends immediately off of front end panels of :26.4, :55.3 and 1:23 before pulling away from a stubborn Johnny Grippa, handled by Joe Sanzeri, by 2 3/4 lengths at the wire. Always In The Money, with Peter Wrenn in the bike, finished third while Ahead Of The Curve finished fourth. No Monkeys Allowed picked up the nickel in the sextet. After the event, driver George Napolitano, Jr. said, "It's great to be back in the warmth of South Florida and it's great to be able to handle a pacer like this one. He impressed me tonight by going a hot opener (26.4) and then under :55 home (:54.4.). That's pacing some!" Canadian Touch earned his 27th lifetime win to send his career bounty to $115,604--$14,250 already in just three starts this year after earning $60,185 last year--his best ever. Showing 1 to 5 on the tote-board, Canadian Touch paid $2.60 to win. Pompano Park also hosted two divisions of the Late Closer for the Florida Amateur Driving Club trot with South Jersey Hey and Explosive Muscles winning their respective divisions. South Jersey Hey, owned by Oldford Racing LLC, was driven to victory by trainer Steve Oldford and came from well back in the field to score an explosive win measuring 4 1/4 lengths over American Empress with Jamie Marra handling the lines. Pacific Cyclone, with Jeff Schaefer in the bike, finished third while Royalty On High and Whosover earned the final two checks in the field of seven. The winner paid $4.40 to his faithful. Speaking of "explosive," Explosive Muscles, given a picture perfect drive by Ted Bowman, scored a handy win measuring 1 3/4 lengths over pacesetting Prairie Big John, with Dennis Whittemore driving, in 1:58.3. L F Topaz and Billy Muggleston teamed up to be third while Jam and Jelly finished fourth. Marion Good To Go picked up the minors. Bowman sent Explosive Muscles out sharply to gain the top spot early before yielding to Prairie Big Joh and letting that one carve all of the panels before tilting out turning for home and rollin on by. Trained by veteran Veral Bowman, Explosive Muscles paid $3.60 to win. Another highlight on the Saturday program were the appearances of authors Victoria Howard and Billy Haughton, Jr. for a book signing for their recently published book about Roosevelt Raceway. An enthusiastic crowd greeted the authors along with legendary driver Lucien Fontaine with a near sell out of book inventory. The book has shot up to number three on the best seller list at Amazon.com for horse books. Carry-overs highlight the Sunday night program with carryovers in the Pick-5 and the Super High-5--the latter carryover now well over $45,000. Post time is 7:30 p.m. for the Sunday program. by John Berry, for Isle Pompano Park
This Saturday night (Dec. 13) at Rosecroft Raceway, Freddie Hudson, co-author of the book Roosevelt Raceway Where It All Began, will be conducting a pre-release book signing of the much anticipated book and will also be posing for pictures. The book tells the story of a man who turned a dream into a reality and created the number one harness track in the world. The bribery of politicians, the behind the scenes gangsters, scandals, alleged race fixing, court room drama and some great racing are all part of the story of Long Island’s Roosevelt Raceway. A must read for all from start to finish. The book's official release date is Dec. 30 and it will then be available nationwide through book stores and online at Amazon.com. For more information regarding this Saturday's book signing, please contact Rosecroft Raceway at 301.567.4500. by Fred Hudson,
Roosevelt Raceway: Where It All Began by Victoria M. Howard, Freddie Hudson and Billy Haughton is the sort of all-encompassing homage to a great racetrack we need more of. Curt Greene covered the Kentucky Futurity; Biff Lowry, Terry Todd and Tom White took a broader look at The Red Mile; Kimberly Rinker gave us a history of the tracks in and around Chicago; Bob Temple chronicled the New England tracks; and Dean Hoffman gave us a historical overview of the sport in New York State; but this is the first time we’ve been treated to a rich, unfettered look into a single Standardbred track. Haughton and Hudson have lifelong connections to the sport via their trainer-driver fathers Billy Haughton and Billy Hudson, while Howard is a published author who has owned, trained and bred racehorses for forty years. The book is divided into two sections, with the first chronicling the trials and tribulations George Morton Levy dealt with in his quest to turn Roosevelt Raceway into the premier trotting track in North America, while the second section—labeled Book Two—offers an intimate look at the people and horses that made Roosevelt so great. It is filled with amusing anecdotes, statistics and key dates. Levy was friends with mobster Frank Costello and served as Lucky Luciano’s lawyer. Also, Frank Erickson, one of the top bookmakers in the country, was a longtime friend. These connections, which allowed Levy to overcome obstacles placed in his way by bookmakers, politicians and labor unions, are explored in depth in the first section of the book. Developing a racetrack in Metropolitan New York during that time frame involved plenty of nasty business, and our three authors never look away from it. The serious nature of Levy’s alliances with unsavory characters is brought home to us when Alvin Weil, something of a Levy protégé, who was associated with Roosevelt Raceway for 25 years, was the victim of a mob style execution several years after resigning from his role as president of the track. He was attempting to start another racetrack at the time and was involved with the same sort of shady characters Levy had dealt with. The narrative style in Book One is somewhat disjointed and herky-jerky, probably because Haughton and Hudson are passing on their remembrances of the track’s early days to Howard and she’s forwarding them to the reader. We seem to keep going back to the opening in September, 1940. While the information is good, the piecemeal narrative style can be disconcerting. The introduction of Steve Phillips’ mobile starting gate in the spring of 1946 is cited as one of the paramount factors in the ever expanding popularity of Roosevelt Raceway. Plenty of space is allocated to Phillips, the first man inducted into the Hall of Fame. An emphasis on single dash racing is also cited, as it was difficult in the early days to get enough horses to fill every card. Eventually, when Roosevelt became the best place in North America to race, horses were turned away in droves. We’re told that when the track underwent a $20 million renovation in 1958 a 14-bed hospital unit with two fully functioning operating rooms was built. I don’t know about you, but if I need surgery, the racetrack is always my first choice. We are also treated to plenty of heretofore unknown information about the International Trot, which publicist Joey Goldstein and his crew turned into the greatest promotional event in the history of the sport. The artichoke crisis fashioned around Jamin, who won the 1959 International, is front and center, as it should be. Almost 46,000 attended the race that year. The following year the race drew almost 55,000—the largest crowd to ever view a horse race in the United States. The sport received wide ranging media coverage during Roosevelt’s halcyon days and our trio of authors pay respect to Warren Pack, Tony Sisti and others who kept the public informed through the daily newspapers. I wish Louis Effrat, who covered the sport so well for the Times, had been mentioned. Also, I don’t understand why they went out of their way to take a shot at Henry Hecht, the must read handicapper for the Post. He always took the side of the bettors and the fans, so some of the drivers didn’t like him. Howard, Hudson and Haughton are all in with the drivers. Another example of them going to extreme lengths to placate the drivers is the chapter on the superfecta scandal of the early 1970’s. The government charged that all but 21 of the 69 superfectas offered at New York Metropolitan tracks during the first three months of 1973 were fixed. The prosecutors are mocked mercilessly by the authors while the drivers are elevated to sainthood. They conclude that all that billowing smoke could be explained away by the fact that betting syndicate mastermind Forrest Gerry Jr was a very good handicapper. The price of a super ticket was $3 back then so an eight horse box would run one $5,080, while eliminating two horses would knock it down to $1,080. The question was, how would one determine which two horses to cross off the program. Gerry and cohort Richard Perry were ultimately convicted in Brooklyn Federal Court of conspiring with harness drivers to fix superfecta races. One is left wondering why the trio went there. Throughout the rest of the book Buddy Gilmour and Ben Webster are treated like lovable rogues. You can’t have it both ways. There are also some basic mistakes in the book. John Chapman is described as the “proud trainer/owner of Delmonica Hanover.” Del Miller and Arnold Hanger owned Delmonica until they sold her to Dottie Hardy and Ann Ryan at Tattersalls in 1974. Boardwalk Farms and Boardwalk Enterprises owned her after that. Chapman drove Delmonica to two wins in the Roosevelt International, but he never owned her. Also, they write that Duncan MacDonald went to Harrisburg and bought Fresh Yankee for $900. He wasn’t near the place. Sanders Russell bought her for him. And Russell was the one who told Max Hempt to ship the mare to Alabama so as to avoid the $900 shipping charge to Nova Scotia. They say Adios Butler was one of the best sires in the history of the sport. One of the worst is more like it. Material like this never should have made the final cut. Any longstanding harness racing fan would pick up on it right away. The profiles of the drivers, horses and announcers who put on the show at Roosevelt Raceway for 48 years are outstanding. Recollections and anecdotes from publicity director Barry Lefkowitz, announcer Jerry Glantz and numerous others, as well as amusing stories recounted from memory by the authors, add a unique touch to the book. The listing of significant events throughout the life of the track, pages of hard to come by statistics, and even a trivia section conceived by Freddie Hudson, make it a must read for harness racing fans everywhere. And, if that isn’t enough, a portion of the royalties will go to the Harness Racing Museum And Hall Of Fame and the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com
Huntington, NY ---- An estimated 150 harness racing stars and fans alike came out to the Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y. for the press conference and book signing of Roosevelt Raceway Where It All Began by authors Victoria Howard, Billy Haughton and Freddie Hudson. In attendance were Herve Filion, Mike Lizzi III, Mike Lizzi Jr., Bobby Rahner, Jimmy Marohn Sr., Andrew Fillion, Allan Alkels, Jim Champion, Andrea Volter, Robert Goldstein, Herve Filion Jr., Paul Katz and horse owner Joe Barbera who has his 2-year-old filly Heart Major competing in one of the Breeders Crown races Saturday night at the Meadowlands. The audience and fans were treated to a special and unannounced appearance of Herve Filion when he joined the authors on the podium. Filion shared some of his racing stories and took questions from the audience. The 15 minute question and answer segment turned into a half hour and finally had to be terminated by the Book Revue staff to allow the authors time to sign the many books that were purchased. The authors will be attending the Breeders Crown Saturday and signing the book at the Meadowlands. From Fred Hudson
The book "Roosevelt Raceway Where It All Began" by, Victoria Howard, Billy Haughton and Freddie Hudson is now available pre-release at the book's website -Roosevelt Raceway Where It All Began. The book tells the story of George Morton Levy the founder of Roosevelt Raceway a man who turned a dream into a reality. He created the number one harness track in the world. The bribery of politicians, the behind the scene gangsters, scandals, alleged race fixing, court room drama and some great racing are all part of the story of Long Island’s Roosevelt Raceway. A must read for all from start to finish. The authors are scheduled for book signings at the Book Revue in Huntington, New York on November 21, 2014 and at The Meadowlands the following night of November 22, 2014. For those who cannot attend either of the signings and would like autographed copies, they can be ordered directly through the Book Revue by emailing Lauren Vassallo email@example.com or calling (631) 271-1442 Signing a book at the Book Revue is an honor to the authors and the harness racing industry. Every author who ever wrote a book wishes for a signing at Long Islands Book Revue. Authors who have signed there include Presidents, Clinton, Carter and Ford and most recently Hillary Clinton, Cameron Diaz, Rachel Ray and the late Joan Rivers. On the evening of November 21, 2014 after the signing of the book at the Book Revue, realtor Otto Lugo is sponsoring a book signing party. Details will be posted as we get closer to the date. by Fred Hudson
Tristan Sjoberg remembers listening to the International Trot on the radio while growing up as a teenager in Sweden. He would be rooting for his favorites Callit and Legolas during the early 80s when the International Trot was held at the now defunct Roosevelt Raceway. Now, Sjoberg is proud to be part of the return of the International Trot Preview to Yonkers when it returns to Yonkers Raceway on Oct. 25. "To have a horse in this race means the world to my brother and I," said Sjoberg, who is part owner of Sebastian K., the world record holder for trotting a mile. "Our father would be proud." The International Trot, with all its pageantry and worldwide participation will return in 2015 to Yonkers after last being run in 1995. "As for the sport, I think the reinstatement of the race is very good for harness racing in the United States," Sjoberg said. "When the race was cancelled (in 1988) I think the sport in North America lost a bit of its soul and became more isolated. It is important to have overseas horses compete in the United States as it is brings fresh ideas and keeps the interest up when international marauders come to race in North America. "One of the main problems in the last 10 years or so has been the focus on retiring successful horses too quickly and the lack of international races on American soil," Sjoberg said. "I hope with the reinstatement of the International Trot, or the World Championship as we call the race in Sweden, and the implementation of the "Gural rule" (keeping horses racing into their 4-year-old season) should revitalize the sport." Sebastian K or "Sebbe" as he's known around the barn, has won eight of 10 starts since coming to the United States from Sweden and appears to be one of the top choices in the estimated $250,000 International Trot Preview. On June 28 at Pocono Downs, Sebastian K, an 8-year-old trotter, set the world record for trotting the fastest mile in harness racing, when he stopped the clock in 1:49 in the $100,000 Sun Invitational. "He's an amazing horse," said Bjorn (Bernie) Noren, the assistant to trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt. "He's a phenomenal animal." In 2012, Sebastian K was named Sweden's Horse of the Year and having started his career in Sweden, Sebastian K, races barefoot, with no shoes unlike many of his American counterparts. "Most horses over there race without shoes," Noren said. "I think it makes them go a little faster. You must have a good surface to race barefoot on or it could sting the horse's foot. Yonkers has a very good surface. We try to race him every time without shoes because he doesn't like to wear them." In Sebastian K's last start, the $238,500 Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park on Sept. 20, the 8-year-old faded to seventh, finishing off the board for the first time since coming to North America. "We put down his lackluster performance to dehydration and the thunderstorm that rolled in," said Sjoberg, who noted that Sebastian K scoped clean after the race. "He does not like high humidity." The International Trot Preview is also expected to attract Market Share, Bee a Magician and Archangel and is part of a strong evening of racing from the Old Hilltop featuring the Messenger Stakes and the Yonkers Trot. Yonkers Raceway will keep the international flavor going on Sundays, beginning on Nov. 9 through Dec. 14, when it will host an all-trotting card that will be simulcast to Europe beginning at 11 a.m. The track will offer fans many promotions for the special Sunday cards. More details about the promotions will be available as the time draws closer. By Jerry Bossert
Pompano Beach, FL --- The history of one of the world’s most majestic sports, harness racing, is well over 200-years-old in the United States and, one of the most iconic facilities encompassing harness racing’s grand tradition, Roosevelt Raceway, is brought to life in a most succinct manner by authors Victoria M. Howard, Billy Haughton and Freddie Hudson. Now closed for more than a quarter century, Roosevelt Raceway is where night time harness racing began and flourished for some four plus decades. The authors have unlocked a vault of memories, not only reliving history under the lights as many of today’s “old-timers” witnessed, but unearthing occurrences that, heretofore, were kept “hushed up”--only known by a few raceway executives--now erased from this earth, either naturally or otherwise--and a few underworld cronies, also no longer in this world, again, either naturally or otherwise. The initial chapters deal with George Morton Levy, the founding father of racing under the stars, and his connections with the underworld and politicians, some of whom were as crooked as many of the numbers on the Roosevelt Raceway infield tote-board. The book also covers the introduction of the “savior” of the sport--the mobile starting gate--as well as the celebrities, fatal occurrences, riots and characters that made Roosevelt Raceway the subject matter in, literally, millions of conversations over the years. Great horses, like the artichoke eating French-bred trotter Jamin and the grand Su Mac Lad, who, literally, wore out three sets of “free-for-all” trotters over his career, are brought back to life in this book...as well as greats like Bye Bye Byrd, Adios Butler, Cardigan Bay and Bret Hanover. And, of course, the book completes its task with a tribute to many of the sport’s great drivers who competed at Roosevelt Raceway--Billy, Stanley, Buddy, “Loosh,” “The Red Man,” Herve, Benny “The Whip” and “Toothpick Del,” to name a few. One of my favorite chapters is the one entitled “Stories Remembered,” a hilarious recollection of anecdotes both on and off the track. This book is a “must” for racing fans. It will bring back great memories and lighten every day it is in your hands. An official launch date for the book has not been released but it is due to be on shelves before November 1. by John Berry, - John Berry is a long time harness racing publictist, an inductee of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame Communicators, a past president of the US Harness Writers Association and a prior Hervey Writing Award winner.
His list of horses the he has either owned or been involved with racing, breeding or otherwise, reads just about like a Who’s Who of harness racing greats. There is Nihilator, World Champion, Horse of the Year and still the richest pacer of all time with $3.2 million...Camtastic—Pacer of the Year and winner of over $2 million...these horses are closely associated with Northwood Bloodstock owner and president Bob Boni, who selected the horses and managed the racing stables that campaigned these great superstars and many other prime-time players in the Standardbred industry. Bob manages his Northwood Bloodstock Agency, Inc. with a "hands-on" approach and experience gleaned from over 35 years in nearly all facets of the Standardbred industry. “The way the cycle is now in my business,” said Bob Boni, “there is no “down time” except maybe during Christmas week. We just finished working with the Standardbred Sales Company and their Meadowlands sale and now we move on to getting all the yearlings set for Harrisburg. Stall assignments, catalog has gone to press, videos being done and before you know it’s sale time and once that is over then there is the January sale at the Meadowlands coming right up. It keeps going and going. “Then between all the sales,” Bob explained, “There are stallion deals, broodmares and racehorses in private sales that also needs to be handled. It’s never ending.” Bob started out at Pine Hollow Stud Farm and continuing with management roles at Dreamaire Stud, the Wall Street Racing Stable and North American Sales Co., Bob has lent his expertise to both the breeding and racing industry on many fronts. He has also served as a consultant to the Tattersalls Sales Co. in inspecting yearlings for their annual Select Sale. Bob's strong background in the study and evaluation of both pedigrees and conformation, coupled with his marketing and promotional skills, has helped propel Northwood Bloodstock into its position as one of North America's largest and most respected bloodstock agencies. There are not many major or minor race events, sales, qualifiers or social gatherings that Bob is not in attendance at throughout North America. “I try not to miss many major events,” Boni explained, “But because of computers I can watch any race live or via replay so I don’t have to jump in my car and drive to Harrah’s or Pocono as much as I use to. “What I see now that has changed the way we do business over the past 15 to 20 years,” Bob explained, “is the way we can do business due to technology. We use to labor over the Sire and Dams books, looking up and researching horses. Now we can do it with the click of a mouse. We can watch any race replay and we do not have to wait for the mailman to bring us our horse magazines so we can catch up on events from the prior week or call the USTA’s hotline for race results every morning like the old days. “Now I think we have even a bigger workload due to advance technology,” Bob said. “Everyone thrives on information and now you have to make sure you have it ready at your fingertips if someone asks. If you are not electronically set up to get this information ASAP then you can’t do your job properly. It has created more of a workload but it is worth the effort. “If you are the first one to do something unique and give special access to your customers,” Bob explained, “You will always do well in this business. Back in 1976 I remember in that same year both Hanover Shoe Farm and myself, working for Pine Hollow, started shooting video tape of yearlings for the sales. “I went to a company called Edwar Video and gave them a $10,000 deposit,” Bob said, “Because they were worried if we broke their equipment. I also learned to really appreciate those news cameramen of the times because carrying that camera on your shoulder was like carrying a piece of furniture. And then you had a battery pack strapped around the waist. But boy did it make a difference at the sales. It revolutionized how we sell horses. “It was amazing that both I and Hanover came to Harrisburg with the first yearling videos,” Bob said. “We both had video of our yearlings and no one else had it. You would have had to go to the farms to these yearling and now you see them in action right at the sales. “Tony Leonard, the world class equine photographer,” Bob said, “Was the one who first suggested it. He would come to Pine Hollow to take photos for us and he told me how at a party for some Thoroughbred people he saw someone made up a video tape of their horses racing and that I should consider doing it for the yearlings in action. “We became the very first outfit to ever do it for the Standardbred Industry for races too. The very first horse was Destin Grade and he was bought by Vic Sobolewski of Vijo, Inc. We brought in a TV and the VCR and the horse had won the night before at Roosevelt Raceway. We showed that tape and turned up the sound and everyone came to see where the race call was coming from. We had lots of people watch this horse win the night before and he brought more money that I thought he was worth. “So today it is not uncommon for someone to come and have already watched ten yearlings on video online,” said Bob, “They may ask to take them out of the stall to see them close up and then watch the video again. Information plays such a big role in today’s market and you must be up on everything to stay ahead of the game.” If you are interested in purchasing any horse or seek information about a stallion or broodmare prospect, make sure to visit www.northwoodbloodstock.com or give Bob Boni a call anytime at (201) 863-2082. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, August 6, 2014-As a precursor to the return of Yonkers Raceway's International Trot next season, the harness racing track is planning to host an Invitational Trot this fall. The date is Saturday night, Oct. 25, the evening coinciding with the finals of both Yonkers Trot and Messenger Stakes (along with their companion filly events). The purse would be commensurate with the quality of the field, and the best trotters in North America are requested to RSVP. Please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627 for more information...or the race office may very well be getting in touch with you. "We are gauging the interest of bringing the best trotters on the continent here," Raceway Chief Operating Officer Bob Galterio said. "We feel the date is perfect, a few weeks after Lexington and a few weeks before the Breeders Crown. "Our race office is going to be reaching out in the near future to the connections of the elite trotters in both the United States and Canada," Galterio said. "This race would make an already tremendous night of racing even better." As for the International, first held at Roosevelt Raceway in 1959 and last contested here in 1995, its return has been in the works for some time...but before anyone asks, there is no tentative date for 2015 and updates shall be sent out when available. Frank Drucker
Premier Turf Club, a betting provider for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing proudly proclaims it is racing's 'Best Kept Secret' as part of its logo. Is it? It does seem that way as Premier Turf Club focuses more on customer service compared to off-shore betting sites, where their only focus is their bottom line. Premier Turf Club is an Oregon based pari-mutuel wagering provider operated and regulated in the state of Oregon by the Oregon Racing Commission. Rich Nilsen, the Director of Player Services, took time to break down why Premier Turf Club offers more to customers compared to faceless betting sites located, well, who knows where. "The vision was to create an account wagering service that benefited the players who supported the industry." Rich explains, "The idea was to give the players back real cash on their wagers, which would lead to more wagering and help keep players solvent. Unlike other sites at the time, we would not charge wagering fees or nickel-and-dime our players to death." Rich adds, "We also wanted to provide a customized and personal experience for the players. In general, horseplayers don't want bells and whistles. They want a solid, streamlined wagering platform that they can rely on." Unlike other sites, customers can genuinely get to know who operates Premier Turf Club. Rich joined the BetPTC group in 2011 and Rich is a graduate from the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. "I started a racing stable which I managed for 10 years." Rich explains, "I have been handicapping for about 30 years and am a regular on the tournament scene. I was introduced to the harness races as a youngster on Long Island and attended the old Roosevelt Raceway. But my love and expertise is in Thoroughbred racing." Knowing Rich has roots as a fan in horse racing, better allows Premier Turf Club to empathize with their customers when it comes to stringent measures put in place by the IRS. "When a customer places a wager with BetPTC from the comfort of their home or on the road, it's no different than wagering at their local track or OTB. All the wagers go directly into the pools and support the Thoroughbred, Greyhound and Standardbred racing industries." Rich says. "We are certainly hopefully that legislation in Washington will change regarding how 'winnings' are viewed by the IRS. It's ludicrous that a player has to report the cashing of a $605 ticket, for example, without taking into account what it cost to place that wager." BetPTC strives to reward their customers immediately, allowing customers to cash in their rewards almost instantly which are very unique. "BetPTC has actually been a pioneer in innovative horse racing applications and services" Rich notes. "We were the first site to offer conditional wagering, where a player could set minimum odds requirements for their bets." Rich adds, "We are now the first and only company to offer same-day instant cash rewards. Minutes after a race or wager is declared official, the rewards are immediately placed in the players' accounts. There are no points to figure out and no waiting." Premier Turf Club is always looking to expand and broaden what customers can access. Such as adding NYRA, Woodbine/Mohawk (Canada's elite tracks), as well as racing from Japan and Australia. "BetPTC also has one of the most experienced simulcast directors in the industry, Kay Webb, who negotiates with the racetracks and works to obtain new signals." Rich states. With the legislation the way it is right now, Premier Turf Club can only offer service to select customers in certain states. However, BetPTC General Manager Todd Bowker is continuously looking to expand coverage. Rich wants customers to know they are the #1 priority at all times. "We treat customers like the real people they are." Rich confirms. "BetPTC is a small company and we have one-on-one personal relationships with our client base. As a result we have one of the highest retention rates in the account wagering business. Secondly, we provide our players with the best cash-back rewards in the industry, based on their level of play." "We invite anyone who is new to 'Racing's Best Kept Secret' to come try out BetPTC.com this summer. We recently upped our new member bonus to $150, so it's a great time to join and experience the difference." by Roderick Balgobin, for Harnesslink.com
Goshen, NY --- Roosevelt Raceway, the most important harness racetrack and entertainment venue in New York between 1940 and 1988, is the subject of a new photographic essay and exhibit by the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. The exhibit “Remember Roosevelt!” is now open in the Museum’s main gallery and the book, Roosevelt Raceway, the Legacy & the Dream, Where it All Began, is available through the Museum’s gift shop. Visit the Museum’s Goshen, N.Y., store or shop online at www.harnessmuseum.com. Despite its proximity to the urban populace of New York City, Roosevelt Raceway, in Westbury, Long Island, struggled during its early years dominated by World War II with fuel rationing, blackout rules and small crowds. But late in the decade the track, which was established on the site of the defunct Vanderbilt Cup auto racing track, began to turn a profit. At war's end Roosevelt Raceway was positioned to reap the benefits of a large population ready to celebrate. Soon capacity crowds were taxing the limits of the old wooden grandstand, prompting the $20 million trotting palace created by the track’s founder, George Morton Levy, in 1957. Considered harness racing’s lost jewel, night racing, the mobile starting gate, air conditioning and closed-circuit television were all innovations showcased by the “Dream Track.” Nightly crowds of 20,000 and more were standard fare for Roosevelt through the 1960s but in the 1970s with the introduction of Off-Track Betting and competition from other entertainment sites, attendance began to dwindle. By 1980 attendance averaged only 9,000 fans a night. The final race over the iconic oval took place on June 15, 1988, won by Majestic Andrew, driven by Rejean Daigneault. Although some among the Westbury and harness racing communities foresaw the end of the Roosevelt era, with the value of the property the track occupied outstripping racing revenue, the closing of the track so many fans and horsemen called home came as a great shock and a source of disappointment that continues to be felt by those who were lucky enough to have been a part of the “Dream.” The hum that once emanated from Roosevelt’s enormous crowds, however, has not been lost. Thousands of photographs created by the raceway’s press office document the great racing, celebrity sightings, and excitement that drew so many to the track. Twenty-six filing drawers of these priceless images were rescued from the raceway prior to its final demolition in 2000 by the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. With the aid of grant funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the generosity of individual donors to the Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Project, the meticulous work of preserving and documenting this photographic treasure trove is complete and the Museum has readied a beautiful exhibit and publication for everyone to enjoy. The closing of Roosevelt Raceway was a tremendous loss to the sport of harness racing; the loss of its history would have been devastating. The images published within this volume are just a small example of those preserved by the project. They bring to life the exuberant fans, elegant social events, superb racing and dynamic sporting drama that were the hallmarks of the track. Now, thanks to the dedicated support of the projects donors, Roosevelt Raceway will be remembered for generations to come at the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. Visit the museum, just 60 miles north of New York City, at 240 Main Street in Goshen, N.Y. Open daily 10 a.m.-- 5 p.m., admission, thanks to the USTA, is without charge. Please call 845.294.6330 for more information or visitwww.harnessmuseum.com. From the Harness Racing Museum
Goshen, NY --- Owner-breeder William Weaver and driver David Miller, along with communicators John Pawlak and Carol Cramer, were the human guests of honor as 2014 inductees into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame at ceremonies on the Museum lawn in Goshen, N.Y., on Sunday (July 6). The annual induction dinner followed a full day of activities that included racing at the neighboring Historic Track, including the annual Hall of Fame race, the grand opening of the Roosevelt Raceway exhibit and a cocktail reception in the William R. Haughton Memorial Hall. he Meadows and Little Brown Jug track announcer Roger Huston, who served as emcee, called fellow Hall of Famer Bill O’Donnell to introduce the night’s first inductee. The former driver thanked Weaver for allowing him to drive Valley Victory and applauded him for his dedication to his horses. “Some of the old horses he raced, he still boards those horses and lets them live out their lives,” said O’Donnell. “He should be commended for that.” Weaver, who has enjoyed success with his Valley High Stable, said he didn’t expect this honor. “I’m humbled, happy and surprised to be here today,” said Weaver. “The last two years of my life, there have been some setbacks. I figured this was just someone throwing the screws in.” He thanked the Dancer and Duer families for training his horses over the years and acknowledged the big horse who got him to the Hall of Fame. “One of the main reasons that I’m here tonight is because I was the breeder of Valley Victory,” added Weaver. Huston’s superlative introduction of the next inductee highlighted a couple of his nicknames. “At the Meadowlands they call him Buckeye, but in Ohio he’s known as Purple Jesus,” said Huston before cueing the crowd to a resounding response of “Miller time” when he asked, “What time is it?” Miller can be a man of few words, but he was emotional as he talked about how important this honor is to him and the people who supported him along the way. “I think Roger said everything that I was going to say,” said Miller to open his acceptance speech. “I love horses and I love what I do. It’s more than I ever dreamed of.” He thanked his family for their support. “I definitely didn’t get here by myself,” added Miller. “I have the best family. I have to thank my wife Misty who does everything but drive the races.” The first communicator to be recognized spurred even greater emotion from everyone in attendance. John Pawlak, the USTA’s director of marketing known for his writing, broadcasting, announcing and editing of theTrotting and Pacing Guide, made his first industry, public appearance in a wheelchair since undergoing four surgeries for a brain tumor discovered last October. Well known for his humor, Pawlak used that talent to help his industry colleagues feel more at ease about his tribulations. “It was about the size of John Manzi’s head,” said Pawlak, referring to Monticello’s public relations man in describing his tumor. “The doctors told me it also had a moustache and toupee.” To conclude, Pawlak thanked many of the colleagues that he has assisted in his various roles at the USTA. “It is humbling and I have to thank all of the writers from USHWA for this honor,” said Pawlak. Former USTA employee Carol Cramer, known for her work as a long-time Grand Circuit steward and secretary as well as her involvement in the publishing of integral industry publications, especially the annual stakes guide, joined Pawlak in the Communicators Hall of Fame. “I love this industry with a passion,” said Cramer. “It was the joy of my life when I got to go work for the USTA and when I met Jim Harrison. We did the first Care and Training book.” She thanked the numerous race secretaries who attended to be a part of her induction. Also inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday were broodmare Hattie, 2007 Horse of the Year Donato Hanover and 1991 Horse of the Year Precious Bunny. The horses Green Speed and Windsong's Legacy were inducted as Immortals of the Hall of Fame. by Dan Leary, for the USTA