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On Saturday, December 3, the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the horsemen's association representing the more than 1,000 harness racing owners, trainers and drivers regularly competing at Yonkers Raceway, held its annual membership meeting. At the meeting, the results of the SOA's 2016 Board of Directors election were certified. In the driver/trainer category, Ray Schnittker and Peter Younger were elected to three year terms. In the owner category, SOA President Joseph Faraldo and Chris Wittstruck were re-elected to three year terms. Additionally, freshman director Tyler Buter joined the Board, elected to a three-year term in the driver category, also in unopposed fashion. Missing from the meeting was 1st Vice President Peter Venaglia who was in Paris to attend the annual international meeting and help enhance and expand our business on the European Continent. Additionally, the following officers and trustees of the Welfare and Retirement Funds were elected to serve during 2017. They are: Officers: President: Joseph Faraldo 1st Vice President: Peter Venaglia 2nd Vice President: Irv Atherton 3rd Vice President: John Brennan Treasurer: Irv Atherton Secretary: John Brennan Executive Committee: Joseph Faraldo Michael Forte Irv Atherton Peter Venaglia Trustees: Peter Venaglia, Chairman Joseph Faraldo Irv Atherton John Brennan Jordan Stratton Henry Gargiulo (1st Alternate) Ray Schnitter (2nd Alternate) Chris Wittstruck (3rd Alternate) At the meeting, the Board discussed a variety of statutory and administrative goals for the upcoming year as well as what has become somewhat complicated contract negotiating issues. Also discussed was the successful conduct of the International Trot on October 15, as well as the results of the SOA's realized goal of achieving commingled pools with our international simulcasting partners. Subject to approval by the New York State Gaming Commission, the 2017 racing season will commence with a day card on Sunday January 8, 2017.  Tentative plans for opening day 2017 currently include an Open at $75,000 and down the line inflated purses in appreciation for the support and efforts of those racing at the Hilltop Oval in 2016.  

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway have joined together to offer 10 harness racing fans a chance to own part of a horse racing at Yonkers Raceway. Ten lucky fans were randomly chosen through the USTA's new ownership database and each person will receive a five percent stake in the three-year-old trotter Emerald Chip. The horse is in to go in Tuesday's third race at Yonkers Raceway and is the 9-5 morning line favorite from post one in the $20,000 conditioned event. And the best part for the new owners is there won't be any bills! Trainer Andrew Harris has agreed to send the ten winners a summary of the horse's earnings and expenses on a regular basis so they can get a true sense of what the ownership experience would look like. The SOA of NY and Yonkers Raceway will give each winner five percent of what Emerald Chip earns through the end of the Yonkers meet December 18, up to a total of $10,000. "This is a great new initiative to give people the sense and experience of owning a horse", said SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo. "We want to thank Yonkers Raceway for partnering with us on this marketing venture to get more people involved in our sport." The current Yonkers Raceway schedule has afternoon racing on Sundays and Tuesdays, and the traditional 7:10pm posts Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.  

It's a very old story that happily never gets old. A young native Canadian harness racing driver garners both wins and accolades at his local raceways with such frequency that he's tagged as a prodigy. He then travels southbound on the Adirondack Northway to ply his trade at the big time ovals in the states. Faced with stiff competition from entrenched veteran horsemen, the prodigy doesn't wilt; rather, he just gets better. On September 15, 27 year old Montreal native Scott Zeron notched his 3,000th driving win at Yonkers Raceway. The achievement marks a career milestone for Zeron during what is clearly a career year. The winner of this year's Hambletonian and Yonkers Trot (Marion Marauder), Scott currently sits fifth on the 2016 earnings' board. The youngest Canadian driver to achieve 1,000 wins, Scott became the youngest driver in history to reach 2,000 wins. The 2012 Rising Star Award winner, Scott is also the youngest driver ever to win the Little Brown Jug (Michael's Power, 2012). The Standardbred Owners Association of New York is proud that Scott earned his milestone victory at the Hilltop Oval, and even prouder that he is a regular part of our deeply talented drivers' colony. Scott has achieved big things in a short time, and we wish him years of future success. Standardbred Owners Association of New York

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, September 22, 2016 - Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York are presenting a seminar on owning a harness racing racehorse Saturday (Sept. 24), prior to the New York Night of Champions. The seminar, scheduled to begin at 4:30 PM, features driver Scott Zeron, trainers Linda Toscano and Andrew Harris, SOA director Chris Wittstruck and Funky Munky Stable managing partner Richard Munk. It is to be held in the Red Room, located on the second floor of the casino's main building and admission is free. The five preeminent horse people discuss the rewards and risks of standardbred ownership, as well answer questions from the attendees. Toscano became the first female trainer to win the Hambletonian (Chapter Seven) and was 2013's Trainer of the Year in 2013. Zeron won his 3,000th career race earlier this month, and is the driver of Yonkers Trot and Hambletonian champion Marion Marauder. Wittstruck is attorney and an SOA of NY director, as well an award-winning writer. Harris has campaigned such quality horses as Phil Your Boots on the local circuit, while Funky Munky Stable offers partnerships in both standardbred and thoroughbred racehorse ownerships. Those interested in attending may register in advance through the USTA by e-mailing owners@ustrotting.com or calling 877-800-8782 ext. 5555. Frank Drucker

Bob MacDougall, Chairman of the co-sponsored SOA of New York/Yonkers Raceway Scholarship Committee, has announced that Johnathan Hallet is the winner of the 2016-2017 Scholarship Award in the amount of $5,000. There was a tie for second place between Olena Hauser and Alleysha Reynolds and they will each receive a $2,500 award. Jonathan Hallet is currently enrolled at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida where he is working on achieving a degree in mechanical engineering. Jonathan's parents, John and Michelle, race horses on the East Coast and he is the grandson of Bruce Aldrich. Olena Hauser completed her studies at North Rockland High School in Thiells, New York and will be attending the Lubin School of Business at Pace University in New York this Fall where she plans to study International Business. Olena's stepfather Timothy Hauser is longtime horse owner campaigning top trotters including Classic Martine and Frau Blucher. Alleysha Reynolds is currently enrolled at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania pursuing a degree in equine science. Alleysha is spending her summer as a groom working for the Ray Schnittker stable and hopes to become a veterinarian and help the horses she loves working with. "We had a very strong diverse group of applicants for this year's scholarship," noted MacDougall. "The winners had a strong combination of academic achievement and extracurricular activities. They should serve as examples for all high school and college students to follow. The Committee wishes all of the applicants the very best as they continue on with their education." The annual SOA/Yonkers Raceway scholarships are awarded to SOA members, or members of their immediate families, or to covered individuals (backstretch personnel) or a member of their immediate families, for study beyond the high school level. The recipient is chosen on the basis of merit and financial need.  

Not yet 30 years old, Quebec native Rene Allard achieved a training plateau most lifelong harness racing conditioners can only dream about. On April 14, Allard notched his 3,000th training victory with a win at Yonkers Raceway; the youngest person ever to reach that lofty peak. Rene, whose nearly $1.2 million purse earnings presently places him at the top of the list of Yonkers’ trainers in that category, was honored for his stellar accomplishment on the afternoon of May 24 by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. The date coincided with the inaugural Yonkers’ racing card featuring commingled win and show betting pools with the wagers of punters in France. This important project, literally years in the making, was a collaborative effort by the French PMU, Yonkers Raceway management and the SOA, with regulatory permission and assistance of the New York State Gaming Commission. The endeavor is but another step taken in furtherance of the SOA’s goal to proliferate the Yonkers’ signal on a global scale. Alex Dadoyan, Executive Director

Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York are again playing grateful hosts to some very special harness racing guests. Saturday night (May 14), the Raceway and its horsemen's association shall welcome approximately 100 veterans to enjoy dinner and a night at the races. It's the second such endeavor for the heroes, all of whom are from the greater New York area. Trainer Robbie Siegelman is once again acting as "point person." Siegelman has been a long-time, active volunteer with HorseAbility (www.horseability.org), an Old Westbury, NY-based non-profit organization offering therapeutic riding programs, hippotherapy and a summer day camp to children, adults, and families with special needs. Many of the veterans have become involved with the HorseAbility program, including those chosen to lead Saturday night's first three post parades (one vet each from Army, Navy and Marines). "We're always happy to welcome our veterans," Raceway COO Bob Galterio said. "It's a thrill for us, and we're doing what we can to make it a special night for them." "Everyone from our group is going out of our way to make sure these veterans have a terrific experience," SOA of NY president Joe Faraldo said. Post time for the 12-race card is the usual 7:10 PM. A friendly reminder regarding Yonkers Raceway’s scheduled mid-season intermission. After the matinee program of Tuesday, May 31 (post time 1 PM), the Raceway’s next play date is Monday, June 13 (post time 7:10 PM). At that time, the five-program per week (Mon/Thu/Fri/Sat @ 7:10, Tue @ 1 PM) returns. Afternoon simulcasting—highlighted by the June 11th Belmont Stakes—continues to be offered during the break (save for Tuesdays), with evening simulcasting suspended during the hiatus. As always, a complete schedule is available at www.empirecitycasino.com. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, April 23, 2016--The song remains the same for Maestro Blue Chip. Tuesday afternoon was the ninth victory in as many seasonal starts for the prohibitive ($2.50) favorite, easily winning the $73,500 final of Yonkers Raceway/Standardbred Owners Association of New York Bonus Trotting Series. The series was open to 3-year-olds and their elders who were non-winners of six parimutuel races and/or $100,000 through this past Feb. 1 (winners over $150,000 through that date ineligible). In play early from post position No. 6, "Maestro" (Tim Tetrick) had to work around first leader Summers Windsong (Jason Bartlett) before taking over. Lakota (George Brennan) was away third from the pole. Once pointed toward the point, there wasn't a whole lot of suspense. Maestro Blue Chip did his thing (:28.3, :57.4, 1:27.1, 1:56), dismissing a weak, first-up challenge from Newcastle (Brett Miller). "Maestro" owned and length-and-a-three-quarter lead entering the lane, before closing the sale by a length-and-a-quarter. He had won his three series legs by nearly 15 combined lengths. Summers Windsong was a solid second in a very good effort, with Lakota a three-hole third. Newcastle did hold fourth, while Tuscanellie (Dan Dube) recovered from an early misbehave to grab the final pay envelope. Jackie Goldstein (Vinny Ginsberg), Stormont Park (Jordan Stratton) and breaking-early A List Lindy (Matt Kakaley) rounded out the order. Maestro Blue Chip is a 4-year-old son of Credit Winner owned Richard Poillucci trained by JoAnn Looney-King. The exacta paid $41.60, with the triple returning $82. The $36,750 winner's share upped the seasonal earnings to an even $105,000, not including the $10,000 bonus from the SOA of NY. "He's just so versatile," Tetrick said. "I don't think we know where his bottom is since he hasn't race that much (22 career starts). He can get over any size track and I know they're very high on him. He has some tougher stakes later in the season, so we're going to find out." A $30,000 series consolation was won by a down-the-road Covert Operative (Brian Sears, $5.40) in 1:56.4. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

The 2016 SOA of NY/Yonkers Raceway Scholarship Application is due May 13, 2016. Interested applicants can download the 2016 application at the SOA of NY website www.soaofny.com. A full copy of the rules is also posted on the site. The SOA/Yonkers Raceway Scholarship awards a $5,000 top prize as well as a second prize of $3,000 and a third prize of $2,000. The annual SOA/Yonkers Raceway scholarships are awarded to SOA members, or members of their immediate families, or to covered individuals (backstretch personnel) or a member of their immediate families, for study beyond the high school level. The recipient is chosen on the basis of merit and financial need. From the SOA of New York

A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York about the upcoming YR/SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series. The harness racing series, contested Tuesday afternoons in April, has its first draw tomorrow (Thursday, March 31) for the Apr. 5 opener. The "bonus" in the series name is $10,000, which is paid to the winner of the Apr. 26 final provided all connections (owners, trainers and drivers) are members of the SOA of NY before post time for the first leg of the first division and throughout the series. The SOA is also sending out commemorative hats to those horsemen entering the series. For more information, please contact the race office (914-457-2627) or the SOA of NY office (914-968-3599). There are 47 trotters nominated to the series, which is open to 3-year-olds and older who were non-winners of six parimutuel races and/or $100,000 lifetime through this past Feb. 1 (winners over $150,000 lifetime through that same cut-off date were not eligible). A list of eligibles can be seen at http://empirecitycasino.com/racing/horsemen/ and a photo of the spiffy hat accompanies this release. Frank Drucker

The annual general membership meeting of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York was held at the end on January 30, 2016 at Yonkers Raceway. After declaration of a quorum, the election committee reported that the following individuals were reelected in uncontested fashion to directorships expiring in 2018: Irv Atherton, Henry Gargiulo, Michael Kimelman and Peter Venaglia in the Owners category and John Brennan in the Trainer/Drivers category. The following directors were then elected to the respective officer positions for 2016: Joseph A. Faraldo, President Peter Venaglia, First Vice President Irv Atherton, Second Vice President John Brennan, Third Vice President Irv Atherton, Treasurer John Brennan, Secretary The following directors were elected as trustees to the pension and welfare funds: Joseph A. Faraldo Irv Atherton John Brennan Henry Gargiulo Peter Venaglia Ray Schnittker, First Alternate Chris Wittstruck, Second Alternate.  

On Sunday, January 17, the Standardbred Owners Association of New York lauded Yonkers Raceway's top harness racing driver and trainer of 2015.   Maine native Jason Bartlett, perennially at or near the top of the Yonkers leader board, notched his fifth driving title at the Hilltop Oval. Winning at a nearly 20% clip, Bartlett finished an astounding 89 wins over his nearest competitor in the deeply talented Yonkers driving colony. The 2009 and 2013 United States representative to the World Driving Championship, Bartlett recently achieved the career 6,000 win plateau. Only in his mid-30s, Jason has achieved the status of consummate veteran horseman by regularly plying his trade at one of the sport's most competitive venues.   Though only in his late 20s, Quebec native Rene Allard has already distinguished himself as one of the country's top conditioners. Allard eked out his leading trainer title with a winning dash total just slightly above the second place finisher Ron Burke. He achieved this result by winning with roughly 26% of his starters. Recently, Allard pledged his support for his fellow Canadian horsemen in need by pledging a percentage of his national training earnings to those victimized by the Classy Lane Farm fire earlier this month.   "The renaissance of New York harness racing has served to attract some of the continent's top young talent to our Westchester Oval," said SOA of NY President Joseph Faraldo. "Both Jason and Rene are on the type of superior career paths we witnessed during the Roosevelt-Yonkers heydays. Their achievements are to be commended, and it is with great pride that we called both of them Yonkers horsemen."   Standardbred Owners Association of New York

YONKERS, NY, Monday, January 18, 2016 - Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York have announced a joint contribution to assist those affected by the Classy Lane barn fire. The initial donation is $10,000-equally shared by the track and its horsemen-with an initiative underway to increase that amount."As with the rest of the harness industry, we were stunned and saddened by what happened," Raceway COO Bob Galterio said. "We have enjoyed a strong simulcast relationship with Ontario tracks for many years, and we're thinking of those horsemen and their loss at this very difficult time." "It's the worst thing that can happen to anyone in this business, so we're just trying to assist in any way we can," SOA of New York president Joe Faraldo said. In addition to the "first donation," Yonkers' owners, trainers and drivers have been encouraged to set aside a portion of their purse earnings to be earmarked to the Central Ontario Standardbred Association. The SOA has specifically requested that the half the money raised go toward caretaker assistance and for those trainers who had three or fewer horses. Distribution of the balance is at the sole discretion of COSA for those based upon financial need. "We've had any number of our members ask how they can help," Faraldo said. Frank Drucker

SOA of NY recognizes harness racing driver George Brennan's 9,000th win.   In 1981, a youngster named George Brennan drove a horse named Myron's Bunny to a fifth place finish in an amateur contest at Monticello Raceway. His entire $2.50 in driver earnings was donated to charity.   Little did anyone know that this inauspicious appearance in the sulky was the beginning of a storied career that would bring Brennan perennially towards the top of the leader board at our nation's top harness ovals.   On November 9, the Sullivan County native notched his 9,000th career win at his home oval, Yonkers Raceway. The 2011 winner of both the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks at his old stomping grounds, George has achieved in excess of $150 million in purse earnings, ranking him by that standard among the top ten drivers of all time. At only 48 years old, there's no telling what stratospheric heights the "Minister of Speed" can reach.   SOA President Joe Faraldo, who has known Brennan since his teenage years, said in awarding him a commemorative plaque on November 17th "From those days back at Monticello, George has aspired to be among the top drivers in our sport. There is no doubt that he has reached that plateau and is now setting his goal higher still.".   Alex Dadoyan

On November 15th, the Standardbred Owners Association of New York honored Maine native Jason Bartlett for notching his 6,000th lifetime win on October 29 at Yonkers Raceway.   With over $70,000,00 in career purse earnings and a quartet of Hilltop Oval driving titles under his belt, the 34 year old continues to dominate the 2015 Yonkers drivers standings, winning with roughly one out of every five mounts.   The 2009 and 2013 United States representative to the World Driving Championships, Bartlett has been privileged to sit behind some of the classiest horses of the last decade, including the venerable Foiled Again, hard hitting Anndrovette and millionaire racemare Krispy Apple.   The SOA is proud that Jason calls New York home and has chosen to compete as a member of North America's deepest drivers' colony. With youth and talent on his side, there is no limit to what Jason can accomplish as his career develops.   From the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, October 9, 2015 -- Doing their part to make sure no harness racing handicapper has to go it alone, Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York present some assistance toward taking down Saturday afternoon's International Trot program special $75,000 guaranteed pool Pick 5 wager. The guidance comes courtesy of the Hilltop Helper, a very useful (and gratis) handicapping sheet which is distributed on-track every Saturday as well as sent to the all Empire City Bets members and available at www.soaofny.com. The Helper's analysis accompanies this release and has compiled a $36 ticket for the 50-cent base wager. Again, some notes regarding Saturday's special gimmick wager... --it includes $25,000 of "seed money"; --it encompasses races 2 through 6 on the 13-race card (usual Pick 5 sequence is races 7 through 11). --first post is 2 PM, with the $1 million, 10-horse International scheduled as the fourth race (approximate post 3:10 PM). --though additional monies may be carried over should the Pick 5 not be hit Friday night, Saturday's total guaranteed pool remains at $75,000; --as always, the Pick 5 is not a "must-pay" wager, so if no one selects all five winners in the sequence, the entire pool (minus takeout) would move to the Monday, Oct. 12, program; --program pages for this wager are available at www.yonkersraceway.com. Again, please note the International is part of a matinee card, with first post at 2 PM and the race itself going at approximately 3:10 PM. Also note that a superfecta has been added to the International Trot wagering menu. Frank Drucker

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